With all that has been written in respect to Thomas Piketty's new book "Capital", you would think someone would remark on the odd coincidence of timing of the rapid rise in inequality that the Professor is so upset about. It’s the issue of the hour. Yet when it comes to the timing at which this phenomenon presented itself, nada. Omerta from the liberal intelligentsia. What could have marked 1971 as the year the picture began to change in respect of inequality in America? It turns out that was the year America defaulted on its obligation under Bretton Woods to redeem in gold dollars held by foreign governments and the era of fiat money began.
Another quarter, and another attempt at predicting the future by the people whose predictions have become the biggest butt of all economics jokes, even more so than Paul Krugman columns. We are talking, of course, about the IMF's World Economic Outlook update.
The fear of deflation serves as the theoretical justification of every inflationary action taken by the Federal Reserve and central banks around the world. It is why the Federal Reserve targets a price inflation rate of 2 percent, and not 0 percent. It is in large part why the Federal Reserve has more than quadrupled the money supply since August 2008. And it is, remarkably, a great myth, for there is nothing inherently dangerous or damaging about deflation. Now unmoored from any gold standard constraints and burdened with massive government debt, in any possible scenario pitting the spectre of deflation against the ravages of inflation, the biases and phobias of central bankers will choose the latter. This choice is as inevitable as it will be devastating.
If you are not Professor Paul Krugman you probably agree that Washington has left no stone unturned on the Keynesian stimulus front since the crisis of September 2008. By the time the “taper” is over later this year (?) the Fed’s balance sheet will exceed $4.7 trillion - $4 trillion in new central bank liabilities in six years. All conjured out of thin air. Professor Krugman proposing to “do something”... In short, Krugman wants to double-down on the lunacy we have already accomplished. Unfortunately, we are presently nigh onto “peak debt”; there is no “escape velocity” because the Fed’s credit channel is broken and done. Going forward, the American people will once again be required to live within their means, spending no more than they produce. By contrast, Professor Krugman’s destructive recipes are entirely the product of a countrafactual economic universe that does not actually exist. He wants us to borrow and print even more because our macro-economic bathtub is not yet full. And that part is true. It doesn’t even exist.
Why Mainstream Economists Like Krugman Are So WRONG and So DANGEROUS
There is a wider significance to this long-held misapprehension. Namely, that Keynes – so enamoured of his circular flow visualisation of the economy and yet also so prone to the confusion of mere snapshot accounting identities with dynamic and causative phenomena – also held that banks were simple, passive intermediaries in the system and could therefore safely be shorn of having any true role to play in the determination of financial variables. Having similarly insisted that saving and investment MUST be equal (accounting v causation, again), he was thus left with nothing by which to determine the rate of interest and so opted for his ludicrous ‘liquidity preference’ idea that the rate of interest is a bribe by means of which to discourage the common man’s economy-sapping fetish for hoarding money. From there, it was but a short step to the vilification of savers as the enemies of public well being and - via the further idiocy of the ‘liquidity trap’ with which this seemed perennially to threaten us - to the evils inherent in the incessantly inflationary ravings of the likes of Paul Krugman and all the other bien pensants of his stripe.
"Higher equity prices will boost consumer wealth and help increase confidence, which can spur spending" - Ben Bernanke, 2010 But history suggests the opposite: it is higher savings rates which lead to economic prosperity. Examine any economic success story such as modern China, nineteenth century America, or post-World War II Japan and South Korea: did their economic rise derive from unbridled consumption, or strict frugality? The answer is self-evident: it is the savings from the curtailment of consumption, combined with minimal government involvement in economic affairs, which generates economic growth.
What is it with this perennial fear the chief money printers have of falling prices? Not that we are likely to see it happen, but if it does, what of it? The problem is of course that when prices decline, the 'wrong' sectors of society actually benefit, while those whose bread is buttered by the inflation tax would no longer benefit at the expense of everybody else. But they never say that, do they? Has any central banker ever explained why he believes deflation to be a danger? No, we are just supposed to know/accept that it is. As Austrian economists have long explained, it is simply untrue that prices must rise for the economy to grow.
It’s nerve-wracking to live in the historical moment of an epic turning point, especially when the great groaning garbage barge of late industrial civilization doesn’t turn quickly where you know it must, and you are left feeling naked and ashamed with your dark worldview, your careful preparations for a difficult future, and your scornful or tittering relatives reminding you each day what a ninny you are to worry about the tendings of events. Persevere. There are worse things in this life than not being right exactly on schedule.
Keynesian stimulus always has been presented as a government action that improved general or overall economic conditions, as opposed to being a political wealth-transfer scheme. In reality, the government-based stimulus is based upon bad economics or, to be more specific, one of bad economic logic. To a Keynesian, an economy is a homogeneous mass into which the government stirs new batches of currency. The more currency thrown into the mix, the better the economy operates. Austrian economists, on the other hand, recognize the relationships within the economy, including relationships of factors of production to one another, and how those factors can be directed to their highest-valued uses, according to consumer choices. The U.S. economy remains mired in the mix of low output and high unemployment not because governments are failing to spend enough money but rather because governments are blocking the free flow of both consumers’ and producers’ goods and preventing the real economic relationships to take place and trying to force artificial relationships, instead.
A look back in time helps one spot the banker propaganda about gold and silver so prevalent today.
Sickcare/ObamaCare is fundamentally broken at every level. The incremental nature of change makes it difficult for us to notice how systems that once worked well with modest costs have transmogrified into broken systems that cost a fortune. Only those with no exposure to the real costs of ObamaCare approve of the current sickcare system. Government employees who have no idea how much their coverage costs, well-paid shills and toadies like Paul Krugman, academics with tenure and lifetime healthcare coverage--all these people swallow the fraud whole and declare it delicious. Only those of us who are paying the real, unsubsidized cost know how unsustainable the system is, and only those inside the machine know how broken it is at every level. Greed + cartels = Sickcare/ObamaCare. Love your servitude, baby--it's affordable, really, really, really it is.
While we realize that newsflow over the past few years has taken a decided turn for the surreal, we are sad (or, alternatively, delighted) to announce that we are dead serious when we report that Illinois governor Pat Quinn has now tapped The Onion - that would be the famous satiric website - to sell Obamacare. Perhaps we should not be surprised: after we previously revealed that The Onion served as the mystery source of economic insight by such intellectual economist titans as Paul Krugman and Larry Summers, the time may have come come to surrender to the great wave of absurdity that has washed over this nation, and admit that when it comes to pitching idiotic policies, self-referential satire may be the only option left in the arsenal of the central planners.
Low-wage workers clocked the shortest workweek on record in December - even shorter than at the depth of the recession, new Labor Department data showed Friday. The figures underscore concerns about the Obamacare employer insurance mandate's impact on the work hours and incomes of low-wage earners. Still, as Krugman told Colbert recently, he's "ok with a little bit of wealth redstribution from people who have been lucky to people who are unlucky."
Because the ultimate outcome of this monetary cycle hinges on how, when, or if the Fed can unwind its unwieldy balance sheet, without further damage to the economy; most likely continuing stagnation or a return to stagflation, or less likely, but possible hyper-inflation or even a deflationary depression, the Bernanke legacy will ultimately depend on a Bernanke-Yellen legacy. But what should be the main lesson of a Greenspan-Bernanke legacy? Clearly, if there was no pre-crisis credit boom, there would have been no large financial crisis and thus no need for Bernanke or other human to have done better during and after. While Austrian analysis has often been criticized, incorrectly, for not having policy recommendations on what to do during the crisis and recovery, it should be noted that if Austrian recommendations for eliminating central banks and allowing banking freedom had been followed, no such devastating crisis would have occurred and no heroic policy response would have been necessary in the resulting free and prosperous commonwealth.