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The Problem With Keynesian Economics

The Problem With Keynesian Economics

In The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, John Maynard Keynes wrote:

“The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”

I think Lord Keynes himself would appreciate the irony that he has become the defunct economist under whose influence the academic and bureaucratic classes now toil, slaves to what has become as much a religious belief system as an economic theory.

Men and women who display appropriate skepticism on other topics indiscriminately funnel facts and data through a Keynesian filter without ever questioning the basic assumptions. Some go on to prescribe government policies that have profound effects upon the citizens of their nations.

And when those policies create the conditions that engender the income inequality they so righteously oppose, they often prescribe more of the same bad medicine. Like 18th-century physicians applying leeches to their patients, they take comfort that all right-minded people will concur with their recommended treatments.

This is an ongoing series of a discussion between Ray Dalio and myself (read Part 1Part 2Part 3, and Part 4) . Today’s article addresses the philosophical problem he is trying to address: income and wealth inequality.

Last week I dealt with the equally significant problem of growing debt in the United States and the rest of the world. The Keynesian tools much of the economic establishment wants to use are exacerbating the problems. Ray would like to solve it with a blend of monetary and fiscal policy, what he calls Monetary Policy 3.

The Problem with Keynesianism

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

Debt, Deficits and the Cost of Free Lunches

DEBT, DEFICITS AND THE COST OF FREE LUNCHES

It seems that every generation or two, fundamental economic ideas are questioned and challenged. The reasonable and important idea that governments should balance their budgets on an annual basis was challenged in the 1930s by the rise of Keynesian Economics and the counter-argument that deficit spending was desirable, if it was used to maintain full employment. Now it seems that any defense or desire for fiscal restraint and less government spending and borrowing are entirely out the window. Fiscal folly is the watchword of the day.

It is not surprising that politicians care little about annual budget deficits and growing debt, since spending money is their way of buying votes from interest groups wanting to eat at the government trough. In America today, it is all a political game by which Democrats and Republicans pander to their respective voting blocs, especially in an upcoming presidential and congressional election year like 2020.

On the one hand, the danger of a looming political crisis is warned about in the media when they point to the coming budgetary circus that will most likely start playing out toward the end of the summer of 2019, when Congress comes back into full session and the new federal budget year that begins on October 1, 2019, will have to be handled in some way.

Budgetary Brinkmanship and Political Plunder

Will the country be facing another federal government shutdown threat like the one in late 2018 and early 2019? Will the national debt limit be raised to permit the spending of the huge sums of money needed to fulfill all the demands for other people’s money above actual taxes collected through the syphoning off of private sector resources by continued government borrowing in the financial markets?

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

Can Expansionary Fiscal and Monetary Policies Counter Recessions?

CAN EXPANSIONARY FISCAL AND MONETARY POLICIES COUNTER RECESSIONS?

When signs of economic weakness emerge, most economics experts are quick to embrace the ideas of John Maynard Keynes.

For most economists the Keynesian remedy is always viewed with positive benefits- if in doubt just push more money and boost government spending to resolve any possible economic crisis.

In this way of thinking, economic activity is presented in terms of the circular flow of money. Spending by one individual becomes a part of the earnings of another individual, and spending by another individual becomes a part of the first individual’s earnings.

So if for some reason people have become less confident about the future and have decided to reduce their spending this is going to weaken the circular flow of money. Once an individual spends less, this worsens the situation of some other individual, who in turn also cuts their spending.

Following this logic, in order to prevent a recession from getting out of hand, the government and the central bank should step in and lift government outlays and monetary pumping, thereby filling the shortfall in the private sector spending.

Once the circular monetary flow is re-established, things should go back to normal and sound economic growth is re-established, so it is held.

Can government really grow an economy?

The whole idea that the government can grow an economy originates from the Keynesian multiplier. On this way of thinking an increase in government outlays gives rise to the economy’s output by a multiple of the initial government increase.

An example will illustrate how initial spending by the government raises the overall output by a multiple of this spending. Let us assume that out of an additional dollar received individuals spend $0.9 and save $0.1. Also, let us assume that consumers have increased their expenditure by $100million. Individuals now have more money to spend because of an increase in government outlays.

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

One Day the Volcano Will Erupt – Precious Metals Supply and Demand

One Day the Volcano Will Erupt – Precious Metals Supply and Demand

Keynesian Rot

The prices of the monetary metals rose $11 and ¢27 last week. The supply and demand fundamentals is the shortest section of this Report [ed note: we are excerpting the supply-demand section for Acting Man – readers interested in the other part of the report can find it here].

The eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 – prior to the cataclysmic event, numerous small earth quakes and steam venting from fissures warned that something big was about to happen, even if no-one suspected the actual magnitude of the outbreak. The eruption was so powerful that a fairly large chunk of the mountain went missing in the proceedings. There are always accidents waiting to happen out there somewhere, and the modern-day fiat money system is clearly one of them. There will be warning signals before it keels over – in fact, the final cataclysm usually happens fairly quickly, while the period that leads up to it tends to be a drawn-out affair. [PT]

This is because the actual data can be seen in a simple chart for each metal. If central banks were really buying mass quantities of gold in anticipation of a new gold-based global monetary system, or India were really importing all marketable gold, or the mainstream American public were desperately trading its dollars for gold, or China were really buying up all the physical gold to prepare for a gold-backed yuan (while selling paper gold, natch)…

…then the data would show this.

Mount Saint Helens was quiescent for a long time, until all of a sudden in 1980 it went wild with activity. There was an earthquake, then steam venting, then the side of the mountain began to bulge, then a second earthquake triggered that side to collapse. Then the volcano finally exploded.

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

Keynes is Dead; This is the Long Run

KEYNES IS DEAD; THIS IS THE LONG RUN

“In the long run, we are all dead.”
–JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES

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INTRODUCTION

John Maynard Keynes, an English economist and author, has been held in high esteem for several decades thanks to his groundbreaking work in economics in the early 20th century. The theory he popularized in an attempt to better understand the Great Depression, aptly named Keynesian theory, revolutionized demand-side economic policy at the time. 

For those who haven’t studied the riveting subject of macroeconomics since college – sarcasm, of course, for everyone out there that doesn’t live and breathe the subject like we do – Keynes advocated for increased government spending and lower taxes to stimulate economy activity, especially during times of economic hardship. Subsequently, long after his death, Keynes’ disciples proposed that optimal economic performance could be achieved through frequent “fine-tuning” by government monetary and fiscal policies (i.e. interest rates, relative to the former, and taxes/spending in the case of the latter). 

Consequently, like so many well-intentioned policy initiatives meant to cope with emergency conditions, Keynes’ prescription has morphed into constant application even during mild cyclical downturns. Moreover, the other part of his master plan—to run surpluses during good times–has been almost totally ignored by election-driven politicians (are there any other kind?). 

In the case of the global monetary mandarins following the financial crisis of 2007-2008, the slightest market turbulence or economic hiccup has caused them to resort to Keynesian remedies that were once reserved for true crises. As noted in prior EVAs, the net effect is a global addiction to stimulus, especially to ultra-low interest rate policies (ULIPs). But more on that in the next installment of Bubble 3.0… 

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

Plunge Protection Myths = Keynesian Economic Myths

QUESTION: What about what China did by buying stocks a few years ago to stop the hang sang from dropping

LW

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ANSWER: Do not confuse attempts to support a market from actually being able to do so. This is the same as Keynesian economics that government could prevent recessions. Larry Summers admitted the government cannot even forecast such events. Not only during the Great Depression did companies jump in to buy their shares during the crash to try to prevent the decline. Most of the companies that took that action actually failed for they bought the stock back trying to hold the price and lost needed cash reserves. They could not sell stock again nor could the borrow.

During the collapse of the Nikkei after 1989, companies held believing that the government would support the market. When they realized the government could not then the government encouraged us to bail out the Japanese corporations. We helped well over 300 public companies issuing a note to buy their portfolios at their cost with 10-year payouts and each note had to be approved by the Japanese government individually. If the governments were able to actually prevent declines, then they would. But nobody can do that for the size of the public at large far outweighs any institution, group of institutions, or banks.

People would rather believe in conspiracy theories than simply look at the reality. Attempts to manipulate markets ALWAYS fail because the majority is far greater than any minority. The trend is made by the MAJORITY. A panic sell-off like the Crash of 1987 took place BECAUSE there was not bid – not that there was a massive short position. Scare the MAJORITY and they then try to sell, you find no bid and that is how a flash crash unfolds. This is why outlawing short positions is destructive for the only person with the courage to try to catch a falling knife is the one who is taking profit – not initiating a long position.

The Economic Consequences Of Debt

The Economic Consequences Of Debt

Not surprisingly, my recent article on “The Important Role Of Recessions” led to more than just a bit of debate on why “this time is different.” The running theme in the debate was that debt really isn’t an issue as long as our neighbors are willing to support continued fiscal largesse.

As I have pointed out previously, the U.S. is currently running a nearly $1 Trillion dollar deficit during an economic expansion. This is completely contrary to the Keynesian economic theory.

Keynes contended that ‘a general glut would occur when aggregate demand for goods was insufficient, leading to an economic downturn resulting in losses of potential output due to unnecessarily high unemployment, which results from the defensive (or reactive) decisions of the producers.’  In other words, when there is a lack of demand from consumers due to high unemployment, the contraction in demand would force producers to take defensive actions to reduce output.

In such a situation, Keynesian economics states that government policies could be used to increase aggregate demand, thus increasing economic activity, and reducing unemployment and deflation.  

Investment by government injects income, which results in more spending in the general economy, which in turn stimulates more production and investment involving still more income and spending and so forth. The initial stimulation starts a cascade of events, whose total increase in economic activity is a multiple of the original investment.”

Of course, with the government already running a massive deficit, and expected to issue another $1.5 Trillion in debt during the next fiscal year, the efficacy of “deficit spending” in terms of its impact to economic growth has been greatly marginalized.

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

Hitler’s Economics

Hitler’s Economics

hitler.PNG

For today’s generation, Hitler is the most hated man in history, and his regime the archetype of political evil. This view does not extend to his economic policies, however. Far from it. They are embraced by governments all around the world. The Glenview State Bank of Chicago, for example, recently praised Hitler’s economics in its monthly newsletter. In doing so, the bank discovered the hazards of praising Keynesian policies in the wrong context.

The issue of the newsletter (July 2003) is not online, but the content can be discerned via the letter of protest from the Anti-Defamation League. “Regardless of the economic arguments” the letter said, “Hitler’s economic policies cannot be divorced from his great policies of virulent anti-Semitism, racism and genocide.… Analyzing his actions through any other lens severely misses the point.”

The same could be said about all forms of central planning. It is wrong to attempt to examine the economic policies of any leviathan state apart from the political violence that characterizes all central planning, whether in Germany, the Soviet Union, or the United States. The controversy highlights the ways in which the connection between violence and central planning is still not understood, not even by the ADL. The tendency of economists to admire Hitler’s economic program is a case in point.

In the 1930s, Hitler was widely viewed as just another protectionist central planner who recognized the supposed failure of the free market and the need for nationally guided economic development. Proto-Keynesian socialist economist Joan Robinson wrote that “Hitler found a cure against unemployment before Keynes was finished explaining it.”

What were those economic policies?

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

Beware of the Real Debt Crisis on the Horizon – not the BS on TV

We have to come to the reality that from 2019 onward, we are headed into a Pension Crisis that will be serious. Many are starting to yell about the debt crisis. They lump on private debt and yell its a bubble. What they miss entirely is the fact that we face more than a decade of crises that would have been avoidable, had governments been actually managers and central bank had not tried to keep using Keynesian Demand Side Economics that even Paul Volcker warned back in 1978 had failed.

This is by no means prophecies of doom and gloom. Unfortunately, they are prophecies not even of a pessimist, but only facts that are comprehensible simply using a pocket calculator and not even a computer. The Pension Crisis is the end of Socialism. Promises that were made which were never sustainable but were a scheme to win votes. Then the money needed to pay the pension required 8% interest annually. Then the central banks enter the game and mess everything up even more. Instead of DIRECTLY aiding the economy, they lower rates and HOPE that the banks will pass it along. They never did. The banks parked the money at the Excess Reserve Window that the Fed has still not closed.

The cost of pensions is currently stifling Western society beyond belief. Europe itself is ahead of the curve and will crack before the United States. Europe already has between  30% to 40% of the population who have already retired or are about to leave the labor market. They have used the old Roman pension system of the army which was earning an average of 20 years service to qualify for a pension. It was the pensions which contributed to the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

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

Patrick Barron–My letter to the NY Times re: Typical Keynesian Whitewash

Patrick Barron–My letter to the NY Times re: Typical Keynesian Whitewash

Dear Sirs:
Fareed Zakaria’s review of the Adam Tooze book Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World is a typical Keynesian whitewash of a deeply flawed monetary and regulatory system. Like Tooze, Zakaria sees the Federal Reserve Bank as the hero in “saving the financial system” that was going into free fall in 2008. But why was it going into free fall, and was the Fed’s massive, multi-trillion dollar bailout really the answer? To agree with Tooze and Zakaria is to condone monetary counterfeiting pre-2008 and even more monetary counterfeiting thereafter. One of the prime purposes of sound, as opposed to fiat, money is to allocate scarce resources. The Keynesians do not admit that resources are scarce. They equate the medium of exchange, in this case fiat dollars, with real capital. Yes, fiat dollars can be increased to unlimited amounts at the click of a Federal Reserve Bank computer, but real resources and real capital must be accumulated by hard-working people. Zakaria and Tooze–and the rest of the Keynesian dominated Main Stream Media like the New York Times–fail spectacularly to understand the distinction.

Keynesian Economics Is an Artifact of Cheap Energy

Keynesian Economics Is an Artifact of Cheap Energy

Printing / borrowing money to generate the unsustainable illusion of “growth” sets up the collapse of the entire Keynesian edifice.
Of the many delusions of modern economics, perhaps the greatest is that the dominant Keynesian model reflects permanent dynamics of advanced economies. Economics, along with other social sciences, makes an implicit claim that its econometric claims are the equal of the “hard sciences” of physics and chemistry.
In other words, the econometrics of Keynesian economics is presented as possessing the same timeless validity of the natural sciences.
The reality is that Keynesianism arose in an era of abundant cheap energy, and it is an artifact of that brief one-off period in which industrialization, consumption and the human population were able to expand by leaps and bounds due to cheap energy and new technologies that leveraged greater value (“work,” output) from the cheap energy.
Once energy is no longer cheap or abundant, the Keynesian model of paying people to dig holes and fill them as a means of boosting “aggregate demand” falls apart. In the Keynesian model, “growth” as measured by consumption (gross domestic product) is assumed to be permanent and the highest goal of any economy.
If an economy starts contracting (i.e. recession), the one-size-fits-all solution in the Keynesian model is to boost consumption, i.e. “growth” by any means available: paying people to produce no useful output (building bridges to nowhere, etc.), distributing newly created money via “helicopter drops” into consumers’ laps via tax rebates, tax cuts, increased social welfare spending, etc.
This “solution” implicitly assumes the energy needed to fuel this unproductive labor, investment and consumption is permanently abundant and cheap. It also assumes that the quantity of energy available to fuel the economy will always expand, and as a result new currency (“money”) can be issued by central banks with few (if any) constraints.

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

Jerome Is The New Janet: Tie, Trousers And Same Old Keynesian Jabberwocky

Jerome Is The New Janet: Tie, Trousers And Same Old Keynesian Jabberwocky

The election of 2016 was supposed to be the most disruptive break with the status quo in modern history, if ever. On the single most important decision of his tenure, however, the Donald has lined-up check-by-jowl with Barry and Dubya, too.

That is to say, Trump’s new Fed chairman, Jerome Powell, amounts to Janet Yellen in trousers and tie. In fact, you can make it a three-part composite by adding Bernanke with a full head of hair and Greenspan sans the mumble.

The overarching point here is that the great problems plaguing American society—scarcity of good jobs, punk GDP growth, faltering productivity, raging wealth mal-distribution, massive indebtedness, egregious speculative bubbles, fiscally incontinent government—-are overwhelmingly caused by our rogue central bank. They are the fetid fruits of massive and sustained financial repression and falsification of the most import prices in all of capitalism—–the prices of money, debt, equities and other financial assets.

Moreover, the worst of it is that the Fed is overwhelmingly the province of an unelected politburo that rules by the lights of its own Keynesian groupthink and by the hypnotic power of its Big Lie. So powerful is the latter that American democracy has meekly seconded vast, open-ended power to dominate the financial markets, and therefore the warp and woof of the nation’s $19 trillioneconomy, to a tiny priesthood possessing neither of the usual instruments of rule.

That is to say, never before in history has a people so completely and abjectly surrendered to an occupying power—even though its ostensibly democratic government already possessed all the votes and all the guns.

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

Economists Who Push Inflation Stunned That Rising Home Prices Put Buyers Deeper Into Debt

Once again, when the government intervenes – this time in housing – the left hand is starting a fire that the right hand is trying to put out.Rising prices for homes are once again pricing out prime borrowers and nobody can “figure out” why this is happening.

It is news like this article reported this morning by the Wall Street Journal that continues to perpetuate the hilarious notion of Keynesian economics as giving a job to one man digging a hole and another job to another man filling it, simply so that they both have jobs.

There is nothing funnier (or sadder) than “economists” struggling to understand how housing prices got so high and why people are taking on more debt in order to purchase them. However, that is the great mystery that the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday morning, making note of the fact that people are “stretching“ in order to purchase homes. What’s the solution to this problem? How about just easing lending standards again? After all, what could go wrong?

Apparently blind to the obvious – that forced inflation could amazingly make things more expensive relative to income – “economists” have hilariously blamed this price/debt delta on lack of supply. Of course, no one has mentioned the credit worthiness of borrowers getting worse or the fact that homes prices are being manipulated in order to offer home ownership to people who otherwise may not be in the market.

More Americans are stretching to buy homes, the latest sign that rising prices are making homeownership more difficult for a broad swath of potential buyers.

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

Swan Song Of The Central Bankers, Part 4: The Folly Of 2.00% Inflation Targeting

Swan Song Of The Central Bankers, Part 4: The Folly Of 2.00% Inflation Targeting

The dirty secret of Keynesian central banking is that under current circumstances its interventions have almost no impact on its famous dual mandate—-stable prices and full employment on main street.

That’s because goods and services inflation is a melded consequence of global central banking. The capital, trade, financial and exchange rate movements which result from the tug-and-haul of worldwide central banking policies generate incessant shape-shifting impacts on the CPI; and the ebb and flow of these forces completely dwarfs FOMC actions in the New York money and bond markets.

In today’s world, there is no such thing as inflation in one country. In that regard, the traditional Fed tool of pegging the funds rate is especially obsolete, impotent and ritualistically mindless. After all, if the 2.00% inflation target is meant as a long haul objective, it was achieved long ago. The CPI index for January 2018 at 249.2 compared to a level of 169.3 back in January 2000, thereby representing exactly a 2.17% compound annual gain over the 18 year period.

So where’s the Eccles Building beef about missing its target from below—even if that wasn’t one of the more ludicrous notions of “failure” ever to arise from the central banking fraternity?

On the other hand, if 2.00% is meant as a short-run target, how much more evidence do we need? Since the Fed shifted to deep pegging at or near the zero bound in December 2008, there has been no inflation rate correlation with the funds rate whatsoever.

In the sections below we will resolve the inflation matter once and for all by demonstrating that the very idea of 2.00% inflation targeting (or any other target) is singularly stupid and destructive.

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

America’s Great Depression and Austrian Business Cycle Theory

When Murray Rothbard’s America’s Great Depression first appeared in print in 1963, the economics profession was still completely dominated by the Keynesian Revolution that began in the 1930s. Rothbard, instead, employed the “Austrian” approach to money and the business cycle to explain the causes for the Great Depression, and to analyze the misguided and counterproductive policies that were followed in the early 1930s, which, in fact, only intensified and prolonged the economic downturn.

To many of the economists in the early 1960s, Rothbard’s “Austrian” approach seemed out-of-step with the then generally accepted textbook, macroeconomic approach that focused on a highly “aggregate” analysis of economic changes and fluctuations on general output and employment as a whole. There was also the widely held presumption that governments could easily maintain economy-wide growth and stability through the use of a variety of monetary and fiscal policy tools.

Mises, Hayek and the Austrian Theory of Money and the Business Cycle

However, in the early and middle years of the 1930s, the Austrian explanation of the Great Depression was at the forefront of the theoretical and policy debates of the time. Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973), first developed this “Austrian” theory of the causes of inflations and depressions in his book, The Theory of Money and Credit (1912; 2nd revised ed., 1924) and then in his monograph, Monetary Stabilization and Cyclical Policy (1928).

But its international recognition and role in the business cycle debates and controversies in the 1930s were particularly due to Friedrich A. Hayek’s (1899-1992) version of the theory as presented in his works, Prices and Production (1932) Monetary Theory and the Trade Cycle (1933), and Profits, Interest and Investment (1939). A professor of economics at the London School of Economics throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Hayek was, at the time, considered by many to be the main competitor against John Maynard Keynes’s “New Economics” that emerged out of Keynes’s 1936 book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money.

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

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