Martin Wolf: Only the ignorant live in fear of hyperinflation

Martin Wolf, FT

Since the financial crisis broke in 2008, the Financial Times’ resident economic expert and leading commentator, Martin Wolf, has decidedly veered to the left. Having rediscovered the Keynesian faith and having apparently terminated his long public love affair with “free market economics” loosely defined, he has become a reliable cheerleader for fiscal and monetary ‘stimulus’ of all kind. His disdain for those still attached to free market principles and fearful of the consequences of endless debt accumulation, interest rate … [Read more...]

The Bank of England’s paper on money creation, and a reply to David Graeber

Printed money

That David Graeber was not happy with my previous blog did not surprise me. Yet, his reply gave me cause to pause and to reflect. Had I missed something? Had I misunderstood the point he made in his Guardian comment? Here is again Graeber’s response to my blog: “I don’t see why anyone should take you seriously as an ecomomist (sic) if you haven’t even figured out the point of the essay was not a “discovery” of fractional reserve banking but exactly the opposite: that the fractional reserve / money multiplier explanation of … [Read more...]

Incredible confusions Part 3: David Graeber asks, why ‘austerity’ if we can just print the money?

Picture of David Graeber

Should we take David Graeber seriously? I see no reason why we should, at least not when he speaks about economics, an area in which he has exhibited a great deal of confusion and considerable prejudice. But many people seem to take him seriously and specifically so when he speaks about economics. David Graber is an academic anthropologist, and by many accounts a controversial one. That, of course, should not count against him. He is also a political activist involved with the Occupy Wall Street movement. Graeber wants to … [Read more...]

Central banks extend their reach as bureaucratization of markets continues

Bank of England

The twentieth century witnessed the shift from the classical order of free markets and hard, non-political money – epitomized by the gold standard – to fully elastic money and credit markets under the control of state central banks. This shift was completed in August 1971 with the termination of Bretton Woods, the gold standard’s last surviving, but limp and sickly cousin. Finally freed from the golden shackles that had always been the monetary anchor of capitalism, the global financial system produced, for the past 40-plus … [Read more...]

Markets reject ‘forward guidance’ – for good reason

George Clooney at White House

The British media is obsessed with Mark Carney, the new boss at the Bank of England, who, this week, made his first public appearance as governor with a speech in Nottingham. There were adoring comments about his looks (the vague resemblance with George Clooney, supported with plenty of photographs) and his voice (deep, confident, reassuring), and as most journalists are more in awe of money and wealth than they are willing to admit, references to his generous pay package were also not missing. But there was also … [Read more...]

Forward Guidance? – Nonsense! Central bankers have no choice.

"Pioneer of guidance" Mark Carney

After two decades of serial bubble-blowing, the world’s central bankers have maneuvered themselves into a corner. They created a monster in the form of an unbalanced global economy and a bloated financial system, laden with debt, addicted to cheap money, and in need of constantly rising asset prices. Now the monster is in charge and the central bankers dare not stop feeding it. The US Fed did, of course, make some noises to the effect that the flow of cheap money may at some point slow and then even stop. How credible these … [Read more...]

Are central bankers losing control?

money symbols getting sucked into a vortex

The last couple of weeks have been very interesting. Remember that, certain regional differences aside, Japan has, for the past two-plus decades, been the global trendsetter in terms of macroeconomic deterioration and monetary policy. It was the first to have a major housing and banking bubble, the first to see that bubble burst, to respond with years of 1 percent interest rates, then zero rates, then various rounds of quantitative easing. The West has been following Japan each step on the way – usually with a lag of about … [Read more...]

It’s official: Global economic policy now firmly in the hands of money cranks

BoJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda

The lesson from the events of 2007-2008 should have been clear: Boosting GDP with loose money – as the Greenspan Fed did repeatedly between 1987 and 2005 and most damagingly between 2001 and 2005 when in order to shorten a minor recession it inflated a massive housing bubble – can only lead to short term booms followed by severe busts. A policy of artificially cheapened credit cannot but cause mispricing of risk, misallocation of capital and a deeply dislocated financial infrastructure, all of which will ultimately conspire … [Read more...]

The true significance of the $1 trillion coin

dollar sign sinking in sea

Under President Obama the debt of the United States government has grown by about 50%, and now stands at close to $16 trillion. Every year, the US government spends between $1.2 and $1.5 trillion more than it takes in. Every day that financial markets are open the US government has to borrow an additional $4 billion. The pathetic fiscal cliff ‘compromise’ of last week has proved the most cynical students of the political elite correct in that there is not a snowball’s chance in hell that Washington will ever get this under … [Read more...]

It’s a mad mad mad mad world

"Pioneer of guidance" Mark Carney

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s new prime minister, has some exciting new ideas about how to make Japan’s economy grow. How about the government borrows a lot of money and spends it on building bridges and roads all over the country? If that doesn’t sound so new, it is because it isn’t. It is what Japan has been doing for 20 years, and it is the main reason why Japan is now the most heavily indebted nation on the planet – and still not growing a lot. Its debt-to-GDP ratio stands at an eye-watering, world-record 230 percent, which … [Read more...]