Guest Post: 1000% Inflation?

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by John Aziz of Azizonomics blog,

UBS’ Larry Hatheway — who once issued some fairly sane advice when he recommended the purchase of tinned goods and small calibre firearms in the case of a Euro collapse — thinks 1000% inflation could be beneficial:

When 1000% inflation can be desirable

In fact, the costs associated with inflation (price change) are less than commonly supposed. There is the famous “sticker price cost” – the cost of constantly changing price labels – but in a world of electronic displays and web based ordering this is not a serious economic cost (in fact, it never was). To take an extreme position, one can make the economic argument that there are only limited costs in having inflation running at 1000% per year, with one caveat. 1000% inflation is perfectly acceptable, as long as the 1000% inflation rate is stable at 1000%, and it is anticipated. Of course, one can argue that high inflation tends to be associated with high inflation volatility and uncertainty (and that is true empirically), but economically it is the volatility and uncertainty that does most of the damage.


The maximum damage from inflation comes if it is unexpected or if it is unpredictable.Unexpected inflation causes damage, because the investor who holds bonds yielding 1% for a decade is going to feel cheated if inflation turns out to be 1000%. Of course, no one would voluntarily buy 1% yielding bonds if 1000% inflation was expected. Thaler’s Law comes into operation here; people dislike losing money more than they like making money. As a result episodes of unexpected inflation will lead to a significant adverse reaction on the part of consumers.


Unpredictable inflation is damaging because it causes uncertainty over an investment time horizon – and that uncertainty is a risk that will demand a compensating premium. What the inflation uncertainty risk does is raise the real cost of capital. If I think inflation will be 3% but I am not sure whether it will be 3%, 0%, or 6%, I am likely to demand compensation for the 3% inflation risk but then additional compensation for the possibility that the inflation risk is as high as 6%. The additional compensation is an addition to the real cost of capital.


This is fairly typical mistake for an economist. In an imaginary economic model, it is possible to assume that inflation is stable, and that it is predictable, and to draw conclusions based on those (absurd) assumptions. In the real world, inflation and the effects of inflation are never predictable, because human behaviour — the micro-level phenomena on which macro-level phenomena like “inflation” are founded — is never fully predictable or stable. This means that future rates of inflation will always be uncertain, and renders Hatheway’s point meaningless.

As Hatheway readily admits, high inflation is associated in the real world with inflation volatility and uncertainty. It is not relevant to say that the real issue is not the high rate of inflation, because there has not been a single case in history where such a high rate of inflation has resulted in stability or predictability. Getting to a 1000% inflation rate is an inherently volatile path, historically one which has resulted in panics, crashes and breakdowns.

And beyond that, such a path would completely undermine the currency and instruments denominated in the currency as a store of value. There are no empirical examples of such high rates of inflation being tolerated, because at every stage in history such effects have been intolerable; when such rates of inflation set in, nations just end up ditching the currency, as happened most recently in Zimbabwe.

That is why 1000% (or 100%, or 50%, or probably even 10%) inflation will never be “perfectly acceptable”.

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Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:35 | 2977947 TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

Krugman <3 Larry Hatheway


Hatheway will soon insist this was merely a "thought experiment," much like Krugman's thought experiment to provoke hostile extraterrestrials into invading planet earth as a stimulative event.


Wait....that wasn't a thought experiment, after all....

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:37 | 2977968 spankthebernank
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Sometime shortly after 1913 Economics was rendered useless.

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:54 | 2978012 TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

Are you suggesting we went to a 'casino chip' model economy in 1913 (based on a meeting in 1910), and that there are a select few who get to increase or decrease the casino chip supply at their sole discretion?

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 20:06 | 2978055 Beam Me Up Scotty
Beam Me Up Scotty's picture

More casino chips for them. Less for the rest of us.

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 20:32 | 2978141 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

Why do economists still have jobs, if three card Monte is illegal???

Fucked up planet.

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 22:13 | 2978460 NidStyles
NidStyles's picture

Because real economists do not play three card.

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 22:55 | 2978583 Half_A_Billion_...
Half_A_Billion_Hollow_Points's picture

"Economic Science" = Bank Profit Science

Wed, 11/14/2012 - 07:35 | 2979161 IBelieveInMagic
IBelieveInMagic's picture

Unexpected inflation is what TPTB desire to inflict. Unexpected inflation is what we try to avoid. Guess who is likely to win? (Other than PM investors, if they are allowed to keep it).

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 20:13 | 2978072 SILVERGEDDON

Moe, meet yer brother, Ron. Moe - ron. Has a nice ring to it, wouldn't you say ? 

Fuck me gently, these idiots will be the first to go if the SHTF.

It's already got to the point for most folks that they have to jerk off the dog to feed the cat, economically speaking.

There's some rocket science economics for ya. 

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:33 | 2977951 ACP
ACP's picture

Actually, the house could be paid off in less time...

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 20:01 | 2978034 Beam Me Up Scotty
Beam Me Up Scotty's picture

Sure, for the house you bought before the 1000% inflation went into effect. After it goes into effect the cost of production also rises by that same amount. His theory is meaningless because input costs will rise just as fast as the prices a business could charge. It would be like a dog chasing its tail. It gets nowhere fast.

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 20:34 | 2978156 kaiserhoff
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Oh, it could happen, as a side effect of a currency collapse.

There would also be a small (ahem) starvation problem.  Plan accordingly.

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 21:34 | 2978348 ACP
ACP's picture

I'm not in any way saying it's good. 'We the informed' need to stay on the ball for any situation that might occur.

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:34 | 2977956 czarangelus
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How come I know what velocity of money means and these people don't?

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:48 | 2977990 Zero Govt
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because you're not paid to not know about it

see Paul Krugman who surely can't be as bigger village idiot as we think he is .....can he???

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 21:34 | 2978347 piceridu
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"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

Upton Sinclair

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 22:36 | 2978532 wee-weed up
wee-weed up's picture

In light of the recent election...

"It is difficult to get a voter to understand something, when his freebies depend upon his not understanding it."

Apologies to Upton Sinclair

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:36 | 2977964 SHEEPFUKKER

1000% worries, it will be transitory I'm sure. 

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:43 | 2977978 Cheesy Bastard
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They would have it under control in 15 minutes.

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:56 | 2978018 Matt
Matt's picture

As long as everyone has advanced notice that we are going to devalue their money so everything costs 100x as much, no one will panic at all. We can just announce that in one year's time, we will increase the money supply by $1 quadrillion, and everything will work out fine.

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 20:05 | 2978046 TruthInSunshine
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But the critical question is what TIPS will yield if inflation is running at 1000%?

Can someone ask Larry Hatheway? Thanks.

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 21:09 | 2978271 Ibird
Ibird's picture

And the soon to be thrust upon us - floating rate treasury notes

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:52 | 2978009 Acet
Acet's picture

That is correct - not soon after it got to 100%, it would turn 1001%, then 1002 and so on, always accelerating. It would pass 10000% within a month from that ...

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:42 | 2977976 nmewn
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Larry's running neck & neck with Krugman for the coveted Idiot Economist of the Year Award...I love a good horse race.

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:48 | 2977997 Dr.Awkward
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is there a "Gary Johnson" type candidate?  This seems all too familiar..

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 20:03 | 2978004 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

Tyler Durden.

Edit. I just read the coveted award was for top idiot economist so I take my nomination back. Since there are no Gary Johnson people(he would have been much better than the two official choices). I nominate Joe Kernen.

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:50 | 2978005 Zero Govt
Zero Govt's picture

hard to bet against reigning champion Krugman

...but with lines like 1,000% inflation is ok so long as we know it's persistent and consistent he's coming up behind Paul real fast!!

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:55 | 2978014 Dr.Awkward
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He says it confidently behind a desk full of SPAM and small calibre weapons

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 20:03 | 2978041 nmewn
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Thats what I was thinking...why not 10,000% Larry?

Its incredible.

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 20:27 | 2978131 Manthong
Manthong's picture

It’s a scary thought and maybe foolish, but anybody who has stacked a thousand or more ASE’s would do OK as long as they could defend it.

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 21:24 | 2978315 nmewn
nmewn's picture

Or as long as the state or your neighbors have no idea you have it ;-)

Its really tough out there George, ya know? Yep, real tough here too Fred, barely getting by myself. No food, no water, no heat, wearing rags as you see. Its a real mess.

(Tough shit for Fred)

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 21:28 | 2978328 BooMushroom
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32 feet per second per second is fine, too. But eventually even Felix Baumgartner runs out of altitude.


Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:44 | 2977981 Rainman
Rainman's picture

1000% inflation don't work when 99% gots no money. Larry's not drinking enough. Now go write 'ZIRP 4-eva' on the blackboard 1000 times in Japanese.

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:46 | 2977985 Dr.Awkward
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so if we start using usd's as TP now.....

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:51 | 2977991 akak
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Funny how Mr. Hathaway fails to mention the fact that wages NEVER keep pace with rising prices and the rising cost of living.  Which of course is by design, as that is the purpose of fiat currency depreciation --- to steal value from the many for the well-connected few. 

Inflation is not some plague that strikes out of nowhere, by random, with no perpetrator --- it is an inherent policy of fiat-issuing governments and central banks.  No, more than just a policy, in fact: inflation is a necessary condition for the very existence of the ongoing scam of central banksterism and its fiat currency abomination.

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:53 | 2978011 Urban Redneck
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Savings keep pace with inflation about as often as wages do (outside the investments of the .0001)

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:56 | 2978017 akak
akak's picture

Good point, and a grievous omission on my part. 

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:47 | 2977993 knukles
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(face in hands.... John Kerry, 1000% inflation... sobbing)

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 20:08 | 2978061 nmewn
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Forget Kerry's foibles!...look over here...we've got Musket Love at CENTCOM!...and he's the perfect pick to cut it!!!

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 20:37 | 2978166 kaiserhoff
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I'm behind in the drinking game.  Did you say muskrat fever trumps military intelligence?

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 21:26 | 2978324 nmewn
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lol...musket was a play on Muskrat Love...please don't tell anyone ;-)

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 20:24 | 2978120 knowless
knowless's picture

Don't taze me bro..

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:48 | 2977995 Insideher Trading
Insideher Trading's picture

1000% inflation is extremely desirable if you're the manufacturer of wheelbarrows. 

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:52 | 2978010 akak
akak's picture

And printers.  And ink.  And several billion rounds of ammunition to be sold to FEMA.

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:49 | 2977998 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

I can say for sure that I am expecting 1000% inflation.... and that's unacceptable.

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:49 | 2977999 Urban Redneck
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And UBS had 10,000 people who were LESS worthy of a salary than this genius...

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:59 | 2978026 Matt
Matt's picture

That either means that 10,000 people are more sensible and connected to reality than this clown, or that the bank is overflowing with nincompoops. 

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 20:24 | 2978119 PLira
PLira's picture

Sometimes I see these fools like Larry and Krugman and think to myself, "that's the sperm that won?" Oh, let's definitely throw Leisman's hat in the ring as well.

God, these freaks defy logical thinking.

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:49 | 2978001 TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

Hatheway has to make an uber-uber-ridiculous statement to get attention & make headlines during these times when uber-ridiculous policies rule the day.

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 19:50 | 2978003 Bansters-in-my-...
Bansters-in-my- feces's picture

Larry needs to play back catcher in a lead toss competition..

Launch your lead how you wish.

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