Back in early December the government of Argentina raised taxes on credit card purchases in foreign currency to 35% from 20%. Online Christmas shopping abroad became increasingly expensive. However, dollars continued to flow out of the country even with this high levy, pressuring foreign reserves.
This is a good interview with Hugh Hendry, who I always enjoy. It runs twenty minutes. Hugh Hendry, of Eclectica Asset Management, takes the long view on investing at The Economist’s Buttonwood Gathering on October 25th 2012. He was interviewed by The Economist’s Philip Coggan.
the banks now browbeat governments – not by having ready cash but by threatening to go bust and drag the economy down with them if they are not given control of public tax policy, spending and planning. The process has gone furthest in the United States. Joseph Stiglitz characterizes the Obama administration’s vast transfer of money and pubic debt to the banks as a “privatizing of gains and the socializing of losses. It is a ‘partnership’ in which one partner robs the other.” Prof. Bill Black describes banks as becoming criminogenic and innovating “control fraud.” High finance has corrupted regulatory agencies, falsified account-keeping by “mark to model” trickery, and financed the campaigns of its supporters to disable public oversight. The effect is to leave banks in control of how the economy’s allocates its credit and resources.
Last week we examined Milton Friedman’s version of Functional Finance, which we found to be remarkably similar to Abba Lerner’s. The only problem with Friedman’s analysis is that he did not account for the external sector: he wanted a balanced budget at full employment, but if a country tends to run a trade deficit at full employment, then it must have a government budget deficit to allow the private sector to run a balanced budget—which is the minimum we should normally expect. Somehow all this understanding was lost over the course of the postwar period, replaced by “sound finance” which is anything but sound. It was based on an inappropriate extension of the household “budget constraint” to government.
Despite the ongoing hawkish rhetoric from the ECB, there are signs that they are getting it: The LTRO can’t work, as you’re essentially just swapping one liability for another one (albeit more long term in duration, therefore making it better for the banks). But note the way the ECB balance sheet is expanding: The consolidated assets of the European system of Central Banks is now 4.4 billion euros or $5.7 billion. In effect, the consolidated ESCB balance sheet is almost two times that of the Fed and its increase over the last 6 months is almost equal to the entire increase in the Fed’s balance sheet over the last several years. Bottom line: the system of European Central Banks (ESCB) has been engaged in massive QE and much more is in the pipeline. With such massive injections of “liquidity” into the European banks, a European Lehman type failure with Lehman’s systemic consequences becomes ever less likely.
For all practical purposes the Fed has done it all. And yet unemployment remains at depression levels of over 9% (and over 16% the way it used to be calculated not long ago) and the only thing keeping what’s called ‘inflation’ over 1% is a foreign monopolist supporting the price of crude oil.
So if inflation is this ominously lurking around every corner that requires eternal vigilance to keep from suddenly rearing it’s ugly head, why have all the Fed’s horses and all the Fed’s men not been able to inflate again? And why would anyone still think they can? I mean, we’re talking about college graduates with advance degrees and resources and power up the gazoo doing everything they can to reflate, and still failing after 3 long years? Not to mention the same in Japan for going on 20 years, where they have college grads with advanced degrees as well (though pretty much from the same schools).
Just where are all those borrowers who are willing and able to borrow the $2 trillion or $20 trillion that hyperventilators believe banks want to lend? The US private sector (firms and households) have instead ramped up their net savings—they are not borrowing, they are not even spending their diminished income. They are scared. They are (rationally) tightening belts, paying down debt, and accumulating claims on government and banks. In short, the prospects for inflation have not been smaller since 1930.
I appreciate the role that Krugman plays. Like many of you, I enjoy reading his blogs and more often than not, I agree with him. He is almost the lone, sane, voice in a position of authority who argues against the standard deficit hyperventilation that is driving the nation into a great depression. I mean no disrespect in the following critique. And I am glad that he is writing about MMT—most of those within the Beltway simply ignore it. But there are two reasons to respond to his critique: first, there is some hope that he might change his mind and embrace MMT. That would allow him to mount a much more powerful attack on the deficit hysterians. Second, he is misleading his many readers—by misstating what MMT believes, and by his own misunderstanding of monetary operations.
This is a polemic on fiat currency. it is long and detailed. But I believe it is both thorough and logical.
If you recall, it was George W. Bush’s father, GWH Bush, who, when campaigning against Reagan, called supply side economics’ claims that tax cuts pay for themselves Voodoo Economics. And Bush was proved right when deficits spiralled out of control and both Reagan and Bush were forced to raise taxes. Yet, the Republicans of today are acting like none of this is true.
History has a message for us: No fiat currency has lasted forever. Eventually, they all fail. Morgan Stanley reported in 2009 that there’s “no historical precedent” for an economy that exceeds a 250% debt-to-GDP ratio without experiencing some sort of financial crisis or high inflation. Our total debt now exceeds GDP by roughly 400%.
I was on the Max Keiser show talking to Max about precious metals, currency debasement and hyperinflation. Max was pushing the view that the U.S. was on its way to hyperinflation due to its reckless monetary policy. I argued against this view. The video is below, but let me argue […]