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This Isn’t Your Grandfather’s (1960s) Inflation Scare

This Isn’t Your Grandfather’s (1960s) Inflation Scare

inflation image 1

“This reminds me of the late 1960s when we experimented with low rates and fiscal stimulus to keep the economy at full employment and fund the Vietnam War. Today we don’t have a recession, let alone a war. We are setting the stage for accelerating inflation, just as we did in the late ‘60s.”
Paul Tudor Jones

As soon as the GOP followed its long-promised tax cuts with damn-the-deficit spending increases (who cares about the kids, right?), you knew to be ready for the Lyndon B. Johnson reminders.

And it’s worth remembering that LBJ pushed federal spending higher, pushed his central bank chairman against the wall (figuratively and, by several accounts, also literally) and eventually pushed inflation to post–Korean War highs.

Inflation kept climbing into Richard Nixon’s presidency, pausing for breath only during a brief 1970 recession (although without falling as Keynesian economists predicted) and then again during an attempt at wage and price controls that ended badly. Nixon’s controls disrupted commerce, angered businesses and consumers, and helped clear a path for the spiraling inflation of the mid- and late-1970s.

So naturally, when Donald Trump and the Republicans pulled off the biggest stimulus years into an expansion since LBJ’s guns, butter and batter the Fed chief, it should make us think twice about inflation risks—I’m not saying we shouldn’t do that.

But do the 1960s really tell us much about the inflation outlook today, or should that outlook reflect a different world, different economy and different conclusions?

I would say it’s more the latter, and I’ll give five reasons why.

1—Technology

I’ll make my first reason brief, because the deflationary effects of technology are both transparent and widely discussed, even if model-wielding economists often ignore them. When some of your country’s largest and most impactful companies are set up to help consumers pay lower prices, that should help to, well, contain prices.

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

Daniel Nevins: Economics for Independent Thinkers

Daniel Nevins: Economics for Independent Thinkers

It’s time we stop trusting the ‘experts’

Economists are supposed to monitor and analyze the economy, warn us if risks are getting out of hand, and advise us on how to make things runs more effectively — right?

Well, even though that’s what most people expect from economists, it’s not at all how they see their role, warns CFA and and behavioral economist Daniel Nevins.

Economists, he cautions, are modelers. They pursue academic lines of thought in order to make their models more perfect. They live in a universe of equations and presumptions about equilibrium states and other chimerical mathematical perfections that don’t exist in real life.

In short, they are the wrong people to advise us, Nevins claims, as they have no clue how the imperfect world we live in actually works.

In his book Economics For Independent Thinkers, he argues that we need a new, more accurate and useful way of studying the economy:

However far you go back, you can find economists who had a more realistic approach to how humans actually behave, than the way that mainstreamers assume they behave in the models that the Fed uses to pick winners and losers.

You mentioned credit cycles, business environment, and behavioral economics. What I’ve done is to say, “Okay. We know that the modeling approach, the systems of equations approach doesn’t work. But instead of starting completely from scratch, what can we find in the economics literature that is maybe more realistic?”

And the interesting thing is that if you look at the work that was done, the state of the profession before the 1930s, before Keynesianism took hold, you can find a lot of work that was quite sensible.

 

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

An Inflation Indicator to Watch, Part 1

An Inflation Indicator to Watch, Part 1

“Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon.”
—Milton Friedman

Have you ever questioned Milton Friedman’s famous claim about inflation?

Ever heard anyone else question it?

Unless you read obscure stuff written for the academic community, you’re probably not used to Friedman’s quote being challenged. And that’s despite a lousy forecasting record by economists who bought into his Monetarist methods.

Consider the following:

  • When Friedman’s strict Monetarism fizzled in the 1980s, it was doomed partly by his own forecasts. Instead of the disinflation the decade delivered, he expected inflation to reach 1970s levels, publicizingthat prediction in 1983 and then again in 1984, 1985 and 1986. Of course, years earlier he foresaw the 1970s jump in inflation, but the errant forecasts that came later left him wide open to a “clock twice a day” dismissal.
  • Monetarists suffered an even harsher blow in 2012, when the Conference Board finally threw in the towel on Friedman’s favorite indicator, removing M2 from its Leading Economic Index (LEI). Generally speaking, forecasters who put M2 in their models are like bachelors who put “live with mom” in their dating profiles—they haven’t been successful.
  • The many economists who expected quantitative easing (QE) to wreak havoc on inflation are, of course, on the defensive. Nine years after QE began, core inflation remains below the Fed’s 2% target, defying their Monetarist beliefs.

When it comes to explaining inflation, Monetarism hasn’t exactly nailed it. Then again, neither has Keynesianism, whose Phillips Curve confounds those who rely on it. You can toss inflation onto the bonfire of major events that mainstream theories fail to explain.

But I’ll argue there might be a better way.

…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

America’s Great Depression and Austrian Business Cycle Theory

The capitalist system is a great engine of human prosperity.

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 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.

We can now see that it represented the revival of the “Austrian” monetary tradition in the post-World War II period.

However, in the early to mid-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 the “Austrian” theory on 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 the Austrian theory’s international recognition and role in the business cycle debates and controversies in the 1930s were particularly due to Friedrich A. Hayek (1899-1992). His version of the theory was presented in his works, Prices and Production (1932), Monetary Theory and the Trade Cycle (1933), and Profits, Interest and Investment (1939).

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

Has The Market Crash Only Just Begun?

Has The Market Crash Only Just Begun?

Having successfully called the market’s retreat in the fall of 2015, Universa’s Mark Spitznagel is not taking a victory lap as he warns Bloomberg TV that “the crash has only just begun.”

Investors are facing the most binary “let’s make a deal” market in history in Spitznagel’s view: choose Door #1 to bet on Keynesianism, central planners, and monetary interventionism; or Door #2 to bet on free markets and natural price discovery.

“There is massive cognitive dissonance here,” Spitznagel explains as history teaches us that door #2 is the right choice… but it’s not possible to do that today as investors have been coerced to choose door #1, but when door #1 is slammed open “we will see that dreaded black swan monster.”

That is what is going on right now:

“Investors want to go with The Fed when it’s working – like David Zervos… the problem is, when do you know that it is not working?”

“At some point this stops working…”

“the market is going through a resolution process, transitioning from the cognitive dissonance of Door #1 to the harsh reality of Door #2… if everyone were to change doors at the same time, that is a market crash… it can’t be done in a non-messy way.”

Must watch reality check behind the smoke and mirrors we call markets… (we note Mark’s excellent analogy starting at around 3:10)

Deranged Central Bankers Blowing Up the World

DERANGED CENTRAL BANKERS BLOWING UP THE WORLD

It is now self-evident to any sentient being (excludes CNBC shills, Wall Street shyster economists, and Keynesian loving politicians) the mountainous level of unpayable global debt is about to crash down like an avalanche upon hundreds of millions of willfully ignorant citizens who trusted their politician leaders and the central bankers who created the debt out of thin air. McKinsey produced a report last year showing the world had added $57 trillion of debt between 2008 and the 2nd quarter of 2014, with global debt to GDP reaching 286%.

The global economy has only deteriorated since mid-2014, with politicians and central bankers accelerating the issuance of debt. These deranged psychopaths have added in excess of $70 trillion of debt in the last eight years, a 50% increase. With $142 trillion of global debt enough to collapse the global economy in 2008, only a lunatic would implement a “solution” that increased global debt to $212 trillion over the next seven years thinking that would solve a problem created by too much debt.

The truth is, these central bankers and captured politicians knew this massive issuance of more unpayable debt wouldn’t solve anything. Their goal was to keep the global economy afloat so their banker owners and corporate masters would not have to accept the consequences of their criminal actions and could keep their pillaging of global wealth going unabated.

The issuance of debt and easy money policies of the Fed and their foreign central banker co-conspirators functioned to drive equity prices to all-time highs in 2015, but the debt issuance and money printing needs to increase exponentially in order keep stock markets rising. Once the QE spigot was shut off markets have flattened and are now falling hard. You can sense the desperation among the financial elite. The desperation is borne out by the frantic reckless measures taken by central bankers and politicians since 2008.

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

We Know How This Ends, Part 2

We Know How This Ends, Part 2

In March 1969, while Buba was busy in the quicksand of its swaps and forward dollar interventions, Netherlands Bank (the Dutch central bank) had instructed commercial banks in Holland to pull back funds from the eurodollar market in order to bring up their liquidity positions which had dwindled dangerously during this increasing currency chaos.  At the start of April that year, the Swiss National Bank (Swiss central bank) was suddenly refusing its own banks dollar swaps in order that they would have to unwind foreign funds positions in the eurodollar market.  The Bank of Italy (the Italian central bank) had ordered some Italian banks to repatriate $800 million by the end of the second quarter of 1969.  It also raised the premium on forward lire at which it offered dollar swaps to 4% from 2%, discouraging Italian banks from engaging in covered eurodollar placements.

The “rising dollar” of 1969 had somehow become anathema to global banking liquidity even in local terms.

The FOMC, which had perhaps the best vantage point with which to view the unfolding events, documented the whole affair though stubbornly and maddeningly refusing to understand it all in greater context of radical paradigm banking and money alterations.  In other words, the FOMC meeting MOD’s for 1968 and 1969 give you an almost exact window into what was occurring as it occurred, but then, during the discussions that followed, degenerating into confusion and mystification as these economists struggled to only frame everything in their own traditional monetary understanding – a religious-like tendency that we can also appreciate very well at this moment.

At the April 1969 FOMC meeting, Charles A. Coombs, Special Manager of the System Open Market Account, reported that the bank liquidity issue then seemingly focused on Germany was indeed replicated in far more countries.

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

We Know How This Ends, Part 1

We Know How This Ends, Part 1

The finance ministers and representatives of central banks from the world’s ten largest “capitalist” economies gathered in Bonn, West Germany on November 20, 1968. The global financial system was then enthralled by a third major currency crisis of the past year or so and there was great angst and disagreement as to what to do about it. While sterling had become something of a recurring devaluation tendency and francs perpetually, it seemed, in disarray, this time it was the Deutsche mark that was the great object of conjecture and anger. What happened at that meeting, a discussion that lasted thirty-two hours, depends upon which source material you choose to dissect it. From the point of view of the Germans, it was a convivial exchange of ideas from among partners; the Americans and British, a sometimes testy and perhaps heated debate about clearly divergent merits; the French were just outraged.

The communique issued at the end of the “conference” only said, “The ministers and governors had a comprehensive and thorough exchange of views on the basic problems of balance-of-payments disequilibria and on the recent speculative capital movements.” In reality, none of them truly cared about the former except as may be controlled by the latter. These “speculative capital movements” became the target of focused energy which would not restore balance and stability but ultimately see the end of the global monetary system.

Some background is needed before jumping into West Germany’s financial energy. The gold exchange standard under the Bretton Woods framework had appeared to have lasted as far as this monetary conference, but it had ended in practicality long before. In the late 1950’s, central banks, the Federal Reserve primary among them, had rendered gold especially and increasingly irrelevant in settling the world’s trade finance.

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

ECB, Monetarism and a Greek Half-Decade

ECB, Monetarism and a Greek Half-Decade

Greece really should not matter, at all, outside of the tragic plight of the Greeks themselves. You’ll see that message echoed particularly inside the US where the status quo takes a contradictory turn toward reasonableness in order to justify further what isn’t. This is all about asset prices and how they have been so skewed almost everywhere that when one part of that systemic imbibing threatens to pull back the curtain the rest works overdrive to convince that it doesn’t matter.

Just fourteen months ago, then-Prime Minister of Greece, Antonis Samaras, went on Greek television and confidently proclaimed, “Today, Greece took one more decisive step to exit the crisis. Confidence in our country was confirmed by the most objective judge – the markets.” Going further, then-Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos objected to any other interpretation, “The bond issue proves the debt is sustainable, otherwise the markets wouldn’t have bought it.”

Obviously, those were political statements intended to send a political message in that the “objective” market was on the side of that current Greek political makeup and the “austerity” track into which they proclaimed to be amalgamated, inextricably within the euro currency. Under rational expectations theory, of course, the price with which the Greeks floated that bond was believed to be “correct” and thus efficient. The 4.95% yield at the auction, 20 times oversubscribed, certainly seemed to suggest that it was “market clearing” in at least that respect.

ABOOK June 2015 Greece GRE 5s

The problem with all of that view is apparent right now. The 5-year bond, after having a pretty good week last week with all the false deal rumors, is yielding this morning almost 23%. The losses embedded in that yield and its price were uniquely predictable, which is what is so damning about Greece as it relates to everything outside of the “small country on the Aegean.”

 

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

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