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Out of the mouths of babes….

Out of the mouths of babes…. 

Parents will tell you the most difficult questions to answer sometimes come from their children.

Here are some apparently innocent questions to ask of economists, journalists, financial commentators and central bankers, which are designed to expose the contradictions in their economic beliefs. They are at their most effective using a combination of empirical evidence and simple, unarguable logic. References to economic theory are minimal, but in all cases, the respondent is invited to present a valid theoretical justification for what invariably are little more than baseless assumptions.

A pretence of economic ignorance by the questioner is best, because it is most disarming. Avoid asking questions couched in anything but the simplest logical terms. You will probably only get two or three questions in before the respondent sees you as a trouble-maker and refuses to cooperate further.

The nine questions that follow are best asked so that they are answered in front of witnesses, adding to the respondent’s discomfort. Equally, journalists and financial commentators, who make a living from mindlessly recycling others’ beliefs, can be great sport for an interrogator. The game is simple: we know that macroeconomics is a fiction from top to bottom, the challenge is to expose it as such. If appropriate, preface the question with an earlier statement by the respondent, which he cannot deny; i.e. “Last week you said that…”

Commentary follows each question, which is in bold.

1. How do you improve economic prospects when monetary policy destroys wealth by devaluing earnings and savings?

Central bankers and financial commentators are always ready to point out the supposed merits of monetary expansion, but are never willing to admit to the true cost. You can add that Lenin, Keynes and Friedman agreed that debasing money destroyed wealth for the masses, if the respondent prevaricates. Often politicians will duck the question with the excuse that monetary policy is delegated to the central bank.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Welcome to the world of ZIRP zombies

Welcome to the world of ZIRP zombies

Interest rates in the US, Europe and the UK were reduced to close to zero in the wake of the Lehman crisis nearly seven years ago.

Initially zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) was a temporary measure to counter the price deflation that immediately followed the crisis, but since then interest rates have been kept suppressed at the zero bound. It had been hoped that the stimulus of close-to-zero interest rates would also guarantee economic recovery. It has failed in this respect and the low bond yields that result have only encouraged the rapid expansion of government debt.

It is clear that monetary policies of central banks are the problem. Instead of boosting recovery they have simply destroyed the mechanism which recycles savings into capital for production. They have brought about Keynes’s wish, expressed in his General Theory that he “looked forward to the euthanasia of the rentier”, whose function in providing finance for entrepreneurs is to be replaced by the state: entrepreneurs “who are so fond of their craft that their labour could be obtained much cheaper than at present.”[1]

Instead of storing the fruits of his labour in the form of bank deposits to be made available to the investing entrepreneur, the saver is discouraged from saving, instead being forced to speculate for capital gain. In that sense, ZIRP is the logical end-point of Keynes’s ideal.

The mistake is to subscribe to the ancient view that interest is usury and that it only benefits the idle rich, a stance that appeared to be taken by Keynes. What Keynes missed is that interest rates are an expression of time preference, or the compensation for making money available today in return for a reward tomorrow. If you try to ban interest rates by imposing ZIRP, then the vital function of distributing savings in the interests of progress simply ceases. An economy with ZIRP joins the ranks of the living dead.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Keynes Almost Prevented the Keynesian Revolution

How Keynes Almost Prevented the Keynesian Revolution

October 30, 1929. A brisk autumn’s day in Manhattan. The Savoy-Plaza Hotel’s thirty-three stories cast a long shadow over Central Park. At the base of the hotel a financier lies freshly fallen, motionless, while his last breath, wrenched from the lungs by force of impact, is now a red mist of gore in the air.

Sirens and uniforms. The suicide spot quickly becomes crowded by spectators, who form a vision-impairing ring-fence of backs, much to the annoyance of elbow-throwers at the periphery. Winston Churchill stands at his hotel window looking down on the mess. To nobody’s surprise, the police will find an empty wallet and five margin calls in the dead man’s pockets.1

Churchill’s curtains flutter shut, and we are left to wonder whether anyone — Churchill included — can yet see his clumsy, cigar-wielding hand in it all; whether anyone realizes that, had Churchill as Chancellor of the Exchequer only restored the gold standard at a lower exchange rate, as Keynes had recommended, the Wall Street Crash of 1929 could have been averted (or at least ameliorated).

Alas, by ignoring Keynes in 1925, Churchill triggered a calamity so severe that it not only inspired one man to kill himself beneath the British statesman’s very window but, more insidiously, also provided the impetus for the economics profession’s rejection of the “classical” axioms. As Keynes’s biographer Robert Skidelsky writes, Keynes “did not believe in the system of the ideas by which economists lived; he did not worship at the temple.” And while “in former times he would have been forced to recant, perhaps burnt at the stake, as it was … the exigencies of his times enabled him to force himself on his church.”

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Oops! Philly Fed Admits QE widens inequality

Oops! Philly Fed Admits QE widens inequality

Oops.  Sorry America.

inspirational_Redistribution

The Philly Fed insists that “redistributing wealth” to the wealthy isn’t the main idea, but just a potential side effect of stimulus that they can’t do much about.

“Monetary policy currently implemented by the Federal Reserve and other major central banks is not intended to benefit one segment of the population at the expense of another by redistributing income and wealth,” …

“However, it is probably impossible to avoid the redistributive consequences of monetary policy”.

We’re shocked.  Shocked, we tell you.  It turns out that handing out free money,  buying worthless assets at face value and allowing a small cabal of private banks the sole right to access your magic free-money window, “may” have given some financial advantages to “one segment of the population”.   But that’s just a side effect of saving the “economy”.

Of course, it’s not just the bankers.  The 1% also happen to hold vastly more financial assets than the lower 99% — so they may directly benefit from financial asset-inflating monetary policy.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

4 Factors Signaling Volatility Will Return With A Vengeance

4 Factors Signaling Volatility Will Return With A Vengeance

Buckle up. It’s going to get bumpy.

No one could have predicted the sheer scope of global monetary policy bolstering the private banking and trading system. Yet, here we were – ensconced in the seventh year of capital markets being buoyed by coordinated government and central bank strategies. It’s Keynesianism for Wall Street. The unprecedented nature of this international effort has provided an illusion of stability, albeit reliant on artificial stimulus to the private sector in the form of cheap money, tempered currency rates (except the dollar – so far) and multi-trillion dollar bond buying programs. It is the most expensive, blatant aid for major financial players ever conceived and executed. But the facade is fading. Even those sustaining this madness, like the IMF, are issuing warnings about increasing volatility.

We are repeatedly told these tactics benefit broader populations and economies. Yet by design, they encourage hoarding, or more crafty speculative behavior, on the part of big financial firms (in the guise of obeying slightly adjusted capital rules) and their corporate clients (that largely use cheap funds to buy their own stock.) While politicians, central banks and multinational government-funded entities opine on “remaining” structural weaknesses of certain individual countries, they congratulate themselves on having staved off more acute crises.  All without exhibiting the slightest bit of irony.

When cheap funds stop flowing, and “hot” money shifts its attentions, as it invariably and inevitably does, volatility escalates as it is doing now. This usually signals a downturn, but not before nail-biting ups and downs in the process.

These four risk factors individually, or collectively, drive rapid price fluctuations. Individually, they fuel market volatility. Concurrently, they can wreak far greater havoc:

  1. Central Bank Policies
  2. Credit Default Risk
  3. Geo-Political Maneuvering
  4. Financial Industry Manipulation And Crime

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How To Spot Groupthink Among Economists

How To Spot Groupthink Among Economists

As GMO’s James Montier says in his latest white paper today “it seems one can hardly open a financial newspaper or read a blog these days without tripping over some academic-cum-central banker talking about the once arcane notion of the equilibrium real interest rate.”

Sure enough, it is the laughable concept of the equilibrium real interest rate (laugable because if it can be quantified and put into an equation, it becomes tangible and central banks are convinced they can recreate it, perfect it and implement it to “fix the economy”… usually with disastrous results) that is the topic of his latest must read piece “The Idolatry of Interest Rates Part I: Chasing Will-o’-the-Wisp“, which not only makes a mockery of central planners but also the intellectual conceits they all hold so dear, and which they will all hold dear all the way until the now inevitable collapse of “New Keynesian” economics.

And while there is much to discuss in his full 13 page paper, the following excerpt discussing how to spot groupthink in crowds (of economists) is what we found most relevant and amusing, perhaps because the entire world is now caught in a groupthink mode, and what’s worse, a groupthink that is peddling the wrong solution to the worldwide problem that can be summarized as simply as “$200 trillion in debt.”

From Jim Montier:

Wisdom of crowds or groupthink extraordinaire?

One could take the view that so many bright individuals all coalescing around a single framework was evidence of the wisdom of crowds. However, rather than representing the power of consensus, it appears to me to be evidence of extreme groupthink – it is very telling that not one of the aforementioned luminaries has questioned the framework itself.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Euthanasia Of The Saver

The Euthanasia Of The Saver

What have been the economic consequences of ultra-low interest rates? The answer might not be as hopeful as you may think.

While better known for the role of government in stimulating the economy, John Maynard Keynes, one of the most influential economists of the 20th century, also provided the intellectual framework for a big reduction in interest rates with two goals in mind: to reduce economic inequality and to achieve full employment.

Here’s what he had to say about the “rentier” (a quasi-Communist term for “saver”) in Chapter 24 of his seminal book “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money”, published in 1936. It requires some effort to go through it (and even more to comprehend it, if at all) but because it influences so much of the current economic thinking it is worth it [our emphasis in bold]:

“The outstanding faults of the economic society in which we live are its failure to provide for full employment and its arbitrary and inequitable distribution of wealth and incomes.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

 

 

Either Crude or Copper

Either Crude or Copper

The primacy of the monetary pyramid in 2015 is not really about money as it is all ideology. If you believe that monetary policy provides “stimulus” then you immediately remove all thoughts of any economic decline during times when monetarism is most active. Since “it works” then all else must fall into place. Contrary indications are thus given extraordinary lengths to maintain logical consistency.

Economic commentary as it exists is incredibly short-sighted, though there is no reason to believe that is anything other than exactly what I stated above. The state of economics even as a discipline has internalized Keynes so deeply that all that matters is what happens month-to-month. That makes it easier to maintain the status quo of opinion about “stimulus” – in the short run it is very easy to find a suggestion for something behaving “unexpectedly.”

That was certainly the case with crude oil prices these past few months, as the initial impulse was uniformly and incessantly prodded to over-supply. Again, the reasoning behind that was simply since “stimulus” works and it was being practiced and replicated all over the world there was no possible means by which “demand” might drop, and so precipitously. After a few weeks of oil “unexpectedly” falling further, re-assurances were more difficult and increasingly derivative by nature.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Grant Williams: The Consequences Of Economic Peace | Zero Hedge

Grant Williams: The Consequences Of Economic Peace | Zero Hedge.

The following chart-heavy presentation from Grant Williams is among his best as he wends his way methodically from the 19th century to the present day (and into the future) examining “The Consequences of the Economic Peace.” From Keynes to Kondratieff and from Napoleon to Nixon, Williams looks at the ramifications of several decades of easy credit and attempts to draw parallels with a time in history when the world looked remarkably similar to how it does now (as he notes “that last time didn’t end so well, I’m afraid.”) The real day of reckoning (Williams notes rather ominously), when the unconscionable level of debt that has been built up during the fiat money era finally topples over under its own weight like the giant wave in The Perfect Storm, lies ahead of us.

Full Presentation:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

BusinessWeek Wants YOU To Become A Keynesian Debt Slave | Zero Hedge

BusinessWeek Wants YOU To Become A Keynesian Debt Slave | Zero Hedge.

There are those, increasingly more of them, including such shocking statist luminaries as Alan Greenspan (the person more responsible for today’s global depression than anyone else) and the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee, who are realizing that the old debt=growth, saving=bad, spending=prosperity and inflation=utopia economic paradigm, the one unleashed by John Maynard Keynes, is the primary reason for today’s worldwide economic devastation, a condition where $100 trillion in global debt has brought global growth to a crawl, and which coupled with endless “wealth effect” printing by central banks who have deposited $10 trillion in electronic money at their favorite commercial banks with the explicit instruction to buy spoos, have bet everything on reflating the world out of its debt quagmire, instead having achieved a world that has never been more split between the haves and have nots.

And then there is BusinessWeek, which quite to the contrary, is urging its readers in its cover story, ignore common sense, and do more of the same that has led the world to dead economic end it finds itself in currently. In fact, as NYT’s Binyamin Appelbaumsummarizes it best, it calls “the world governments to become the slaves of a defunct economist. “

And spend, spend, spend, preferably on credit.

Because, supposedly, this time the resulting crash from yet another debt-funded binge will be… different?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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