While weather may affect the economy, the recent contraction has little to do with winter’s bitter cold; the US economy is far too diverse and complex. Instead, we are witnessing the ongoing effects of failed monetary and fiscal policies. As the Wickersham Commission noted years ago, “These laws [of economics] cannot be destroyed by governments, but often in the course of human history governments have been destroyed by them.”
Despite all the massive monetary pumping over the past six years and the lowering of interest rates to almost zero most commentators have expressed disappointment with the pace of economic growth. This should not be surprising though, since, any policy, which artificially boosts demand, leads to consumption that is not backed up by a previous production of wealth. This means that monetary pumping leads to the squandering of real wealth. All this however, can be reversed by shrinking the size of the government and by the closure of all the loopholes of the monetary expansion.
Argentina’s economic minister, Axel Kicillof, has become famous for his assertion that it is possible to centrally manage the economy now because we have spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel. This assertion comes from the mistaken view that the cost of production determines final prices, and it reveals a profound misunderstanding of the market process. This issue, however, is not new. The first half of the twentieth century witnessed the debate over economic calculation under socialism. Apparently, Argentine officials have much to learn from this old debate. The problem is not whether or not we have powerful spreadsheets at our disposal; the problem is the impossibility of successfully creating a centrally-planned market. Just ask Maduro...
Any day, week, month, year now... Japan's adjusted trade balance missed expectations by the most since October 2013 (back over a JPY1 trillion deficit) as the QQE-ing, j-curve-any-minute-now nation awaits the arrival of the competitive pickup for the 40th month in a row. Exports beat expectations (which we are sure will be the headline crowed about by all) but imports surged by 2.3% (against expectations of a 1.5% drop). It appears you single-handedly devalue yourself to prosperity in an interconnected world after all - whocouldanode? As we said before, "Monetary debasement does NOT result in an economic recovery, because no nation can force another to pay for its recovery."
Following this evening's lengthy finger-pointing lecture from Argentina's Kicillof, Argentina formally defaulted. Shortly thereafter the hoped-for private bank bailout deal also failed leaving the default process likely to take a while. So how has Argentina defaulted three times in the last 28 years? Simply put, the problem is not Judge Griesa’s ruling. The problem is that Argentina had decided to once again prefer deficits and unrestrained government spending to paying its obligations.
The reasons given for the persistence of the mispricing of fractional-reserve debt (IOUs + RP) are unsustainable in the long run. The lack of legal protection for genuine money titles is no more than a technicality, for there is nothing in practice that can sustainably prevent the existence of full reserve banks. Awareness that “deposits” are not actually money being held for safekeeping is a matter of educating the public, as is awareness that government’s deposit “guarantees” are not actually credible in the event of a systemic run. If we assume, then, that fractional-reserve banking will come to its logical ending, there is good reason to believe that the shock will herald the endgame for fiat money. It is in fact the case that all fiat money is the liability of the central bank, which also carries the risk of non-repayment (default risk). This, again, means an arbitrage opportunity for market participants to withdraw the fiat money from the fiat money banking system. This confirms that the original basis for fiat money is destroyed, for its repayment to the central bank is not credible.
While we have again and again explained why Abenomics is ultimately doomed as you simply cannot print your way to prosperity (a message The Fed appears to be discovering rapidly), when Goldman Sachs unleashes an Abenomics-bashing piece, one has to wonder just what options Abe has left as economic data starts to collapse (and approval ratings drop just as fast). Simply put, as we concluded before, "Monetary debasement does NOT result in an economic recovery, because no nation can force another to pay for its recovery... Eventually the monetary debasement raises all costs and this initial benefit to exporters vanishes. Then the country is left with a depleted capital base and a higher price level. What a great policy!"
"The system we have now is one in which the Fed decides, through a Politburo of planners sitting in Washington, how much liquidity is necessary, what the interest rate should be, what the unemployment rate should be, and what economic growth should be. There is no honest pricing left at all anywhere in the world because central banks everywhere manipulate and rig the price of all financial assets. We can’t even analyze the economy in the traditional sense anymore because so much of it depends not on market forces, but on the whims of people at the Fed."
The boom is unsustainable. Investment and consumption are higher than they would have been in the absence of monetary intervention. As asset bubbles inflate, yields increase, but so do inflation expectations. To dampen inflation expectations, the Fed withdraws stimulus. As soon as asset prices start to fall, yields on heavily leveraged assets are negative. As asset prices decline, increasingly more investors are underwater. Loan defaults rise as mortgage payments adjust up with rising interest rates. When asset bubbles pop, the boom becomes the bust.
Abe’s arrows have been praised in the media by the economically ignorant, the politically motivated, and those who believe prosperity is parceled out by some all powerful shaman. However, the arrows, seen in the harsh light of reality, turn out to be counterfeiting schemes, “investing” in money losing ventures, taking money from the productive, and squabbling with the neighbors. These counterproductive political actions won’t ever result in a stronger economy and have instead left the Japanese people with a crushing debt and tax burden. Don’t get taken in by the hogwash you read in mainstream media propaganda pieces. Abe’s policies are complete and utter failures.
Advocates of minimum wage often base their support for the measure on ethical grounds, claiming that all workers deserve a degree of compensation regardless of their productivity. But a little know exemption (called 14(c)) allowing employers to pay certain staff below minimum wage, begs a question. If people with disabilities are exempt from minimum wage because their earning capacity is impaired and finding employment might otherwise be impossible, why don’t people without disabilities whose earning capacity is equally low also qualify for an exemption?
“Excessively low interest rates are inflationary because they mean that bonds, stocks, real estate and unincorporated businesses are capitalized at excessively high rates, and will fall in value even though the annual income they pay remains the same, if interest rates rise.” If interest rates were artificially low, it would follow that prevailing investment values are artificially high. I contend that they are, and you may or may not agree. Natural interest rates — free-range, organic, sustainable — are what we need. Hot-house interest rates — the government’s puny, genetically modified kind — are the ones we have.
Government intervention in the economy manipulates the buying decisions of the population. The resulting malinvestment quickly turns into malinformation and imbalanced marketing messages. Our minds are dominated by the marketing messages of malinvestment which blankets our economy in a dark fog of partial truths. Partial truths masquerade as the whole story, granting subpar products and services unchallenged attention and popularity. Oscar Wilde was right: “Everything popular is wrong.”
Anyone reading the regular Federal Open Market Committee press releases can easily envision Chairman Yellen and the Federal Reserve team at the economic controls, carefully adjusting the economy’s price level and employment numbers. The dashboard of macroeconomic data is vigilantly monitored while the monetary switches, accelerators, and other devices are constantly tweaked, all in order to “foster maximum employment and price stability." The Federal Reserve believes increasing the money supply spurs economic growth, and that such growth, if too strong, will in turn cause price inflation. But if the monetary expansion slows, economic growth may stall and unemployment will rise. So the dilemma can only be solved with a constant iterative process: monetary growth is continuously adjusted until a delicate balance exists between price inflation and unemployment. This faulty reasoning finds its empirical justification in the Phillips curve. Like many Keynesian artifacts, its legacy governs policy long after it has been rendered defunct.
Most commentators are of the view that the Fed’s massive monetary pumping of 2008 has prevented a major economic disaster. We suggest that the massive pumping has bought time for non-productive bubble activities, thereby weakening the economy as a whole. Contrary to popular thinking, an economic cleansing is a must to “fix” the mess caused by the Fed’s loose policies. To prevent future economic pain, what is required is the closure of all the loopholes for the creation of money out of “thin air.”