Having been an onlooker of the recent tiff between Paul Krugman and Steve Keen, I was very eager to see what Mr. Keen had to say in tonight's LSE public lecture on "Banks Versus the Economy." Observing how Keen had quarreled with Krugman and effectively ate his lunch, I thought he would bring a lot to the table. I was wrong. Keen had raised the (very interesting) issue about how neoclassical economists and their models fail to recognize the role of banks in the economy.
By forcing private firms and individuals into spending money on things they don’t believe they need, government can create demand, which will lead to jobs via the magic of Keynesian multipliers. Central planners know better than individuals and businesses. That is because they tend to be better educated, having attended the best schools and universities. Central planners tend to think about the bigger economic picture, while businessmen and individuals tend to have small parochial horizons. They are simply not qualified to know how to spend their money. The biggest problem with “free” markets is the stupidity of the common people. How can they possibly know what they want, or what they want to achieve when they have not attended prestigious universities like Oxford, Harvard, or Yale? Without help from central planners working with fact-based information derived from simulations, mathematical models, and empirical studies the common people will never be able to make informed economic choices. Thanks to the genius of central planning for the common good — as well as the hard work and self-sacrifice of central planners — the common people are liberated from making difficult economic decisions.
Wherein Tom Day of Sungard drops out of hyperspace just long enough to write the following missive on the PRMIA DC web rant soapbox and get a few hours sleeep. Ode to Frank Partnoy. -- Chris
While hardly needing a full-on onslaught by an Austrian thinker, when even some fairly simplistic reductio ad abusrdum thought experiments should suffice (boosting global GDP by a few million percent simply by building a death star comes to mind), Diapason's Sean Corrigan has decided to take MMT, also known as "Modern Monetary Theory", to the woodshed in his latest missive in a grammatical, syntaxic (replete with the usual 200+ word multi-clause sentences) and stylistic juggernaut, that only Corrigan is capable of. So sit back in that easy chair, grab your favorite bottle of rehypothecated Ouzo, and let the monetary hate wash through you.
Firstly, I prefer the label “realist” as a more apropos label than “gloom and doomer”. Most of us that have remained realists for the past six years or so have a very public track record through public blog posts and public interviews
Paging Paul Krugman ... Paging Professor Krugman to the White Courtesy Telephone ...
'Gold Bullion or Cash' Shows Buffett, Roubini, Krugman Mistaken; Faber, Rogers, Bass, Einhorn, Gross CorrectSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/24/2012 08:33 -0400
Currency debasement of all major currencies is happening today on a scale never before seen in history. Yet there continues to be a complete lack of awareness amongst the majority in the western world as to the risks posed by our currency monetary and financial system. There continues to be a lack of knowledge and indeed often wilful ignorance regarding gold. Indeed, some comments on gold are so ignorant of the historical and academic record that they have all the hallmarks of crude anti-gold propaganda – and will be seen as such in time. Gold is a proven safe haven asset and currency. Despite much recent academic evidence and the historical record showing this and despite voluminous articles, research and evidence, (evidence succinctly summarised in the video 'Gold Bullion or Cash'), there continue to be frequent anti gold outbursts by some of the most respected and trusted people in the western financial and economic world. Such attacks on gold have come from men such as Paul Krugman, Nouriel Roubini and more recently Warren Buffett. Alan Greenspan correctly wrote in 1966 that "an almost hysterical antagonism toward the gold standard is one issue which unites statists of all persuasions”. Today, an almost hysterical antagonism towards gold bullion as a diversification and as a store of wealth alternative to fiat currencies unites beneficiaries of the current status quo – both intellectual beneficiaries and material beneficiaries. That status quo is a massively leveraged and insolvent monetary, financial and economic system.
All the pseudo-scientific yada-yada on economic theory are just hollow bones thrown to journalists and pundits to have something to “chew” on and write about. The only thing that matters is the monetization of more and more government debt, and how to sell it to the public. Paul Krugman would argue that despite all the “quantitative easing” inflation has not really picked up. At zero percent interest rates, money has no preference – there is no opportunity cost of just “lying around” without interest. Investing money for 4 years for 0.15% return is not “riskless return” – it’s “return-less risk”. Perversely, the Fed has created a situation where raising interest rates would probably lead to inflation. It is boxed into ZIRP (zero interest rate policy) for infinity. Things will get serious once the Fed adopts a policy called N-GDP targeting. Instead of inflation, the Fed will try to “target” nominal GDP. If real GDP growth is zero, the nominal GDP growth will be made up entirely of inflation. Debt is a nominal unit, and it is supported by nominal GDP. In order to keep the ratio between GDP and debt halfway bearable, GDP must be inflated. It is a tax on everybody holding dollars, since the value of those will decline. Meanwhile, the Japanese are resorting to stealth interventions to break the Yen’s strength. Currency wars have gone from “cold” to “hot”. The Fed’s printing of dollars is forcing other central banks to purchase them and selling their own currency in the hope of stemming their own currency’s rise. This makes them involuntary buyers of Treasury bills and bonds, making it easier for the US government to finance its deficit.
Luckily they are easy to spot: the demagogues, the manipulators and the hired claqueurs. Unfortunately, there is no lack of media willing to provide a platform to perform their insidious game. “We need more, not less, government spending to get us out of our unemployment trap. And the wrong-headed, ill-informed obsession with debt is standing in its way.”How can a Nobel-prize carrying economist, who is presumably smart, write such nonsense? “He knows better”, says Jim Rickards (author of “Currency Wars”). And that makes Krugman so dangerous. Decision makers will reference his “debt does not matter” mantra over and over again – until it’s over. Thank you, Mayfly. You really understand debt – and how to make others believe it doesn’t matter.
For breathtakingly stupid political ideas and catastrophic “solutions” to America’s biggest problems, it’s hard to beat the New York Times op-ed page. There, joined by such jihadists of the Left as Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd, resides the peerlessly wrong-headed economist Paul Krugman, whose Nobel Prize was as well-deserved as the one Yasser Arafat received for helping to bring Peace to the world. Until yesterday, we might have thought Krugman had cornered the market for the absolute worst ideas on how to revive the economy.
Our discussions (here, here, and here) of the dispersion of deleveraging efforts across developed nations, from the McKinsey report last week, raised a number of questions on the timeliness of the deflationary deleveraging process. David Rosenberg, of Gluskin Sheff, notes that the multi-decade debt boom will take years to mean revert and agrees with our views that we are still in the early stages of the global deleveraging cycle. He adds that while many believe last year's extreme volatility was an aberration, he wonders if in fact the opposite is true and that what we saw in 2009-2010 - a double in the S&P 500 from the low to nearby high - was the aberration and market's demands for more and more QE/easing becomes the volatility-inducing swings of dysphoric reality mixed with euphoric money printing salvation. In his words, perhaps the entire three years of angst turned to euphoria turned to angst (and back to euphoria in the first three weeks of 2012?) is the new normal. After all we had angst from 1929 to 1932 then ebullience from 1933 to 1936 and then back to despair in 1937-1938. Without the central banks of the world constantly teasing markets with more and more liquidity, the new baseline normal is dramatically lower than many believe and as such the former's impacts will need to be greater and greater to maintain the mirage of the old normal.
In this very informative interview between The Browser and Peter Boettke, the professor of economics discusses the contributions made by the Austrian School, and explains the various nuances of the economic school by way of recent books by "Austrians." He also explains what we can learn from Mises and Hayek, and argues that economics is the sexiest subject.
When these two agree, look out!
We have now entered the fifth year of this Fourth Turning Crisis. George Washington and his troops were barely holding on at Valley Forge during the fifth year of the American Revolution Fourth Turning. By year five of the Civil War Fourth Turning 700,000 Americans were dead, the South left in ruins, a President assassinated and a military victory attained that felt like defeat. By the fifth year of the Great Depression/World War II Fourth Turning, FDR’s New Deal was in place and Adolf Hitler had been democratically elected and was formulating big plans for his Third Reich. The insight from prior Fourth Turnings that applies to 2012 is that things will not improve. They call it a Crisis because the risk of calamity is constant. There is zero percent chance that 2012 will result in a recovery and return to normalcy. Not one of the issues that caused our economic collapse has been solved. The “solutions” implemented since 2008 have exacerbated the problems of debt, civic decay and global disorder. The choices we make as a nation in 2012 will determine the future course of this Fourth Turning. If we fail in our duty, this Fourth Turning could go catastrophically wrong. I pray we choose wisely. Have a great 2012.
It just may turn out that Europe's strategic "plan" of kicking the can down the road indefinitely, or at least until aliens can come down and bail out the global central banking cabal - aka the Deus Ex Alpha Centauri plan - may have worked! In a rather curious announcement, the SETI website of UC Berkeley has announced that it has found signals that "look similar to what we think might be produced from an extraterrestrial technology. They are narrow in frequency, much narrower than would be produced by any known astrophysical phenomena, and they drift in frequency with time, as we would expect because of the doppler effect imposed by the relative motion of the transmitter and the receiving radio telescope." And in the off case that said aliens prove to have an atavism to rude European waiters, at least Paul Krugman will be delighted: after all there is nothing better for the economic voodoo shamans out there than intergallactic warfare. Then again, since Keynesianism appears to be a popular universal delusion, we wouldn't be surprised if it is us who ends up having to bailout them...