As Germany loses battle for ECB, QE goes global

Mario Draghi, ECB (photo by IMF/Stephen Jaffe)

What is Super Mario up to? First, he gave an unexpectedly dovish speech at the Jackson Hole conference, rather ungallantly upstaging the host, Ms Yellen, who was widely anticipated to be the most noteworthy speaker at the gathering (talking about the labor market, her favorite subject). Having thus single-handedly and without apparent provocation raised expectations for more “stimulus” at last week’s ECB meeting, he then even exceeded those expectations with another round of rate-cuts and confirmation of QE in form of … [Read more...]

QE will come to the eurozone – and, like elsewhere, it will be a failure

Eurotower In Frankfurt

The data was not really surprising and neither was the response from the commentariat. After a run of weak reports from Germany over recent months, last week’s release of GDP data for the eurozone confirmed that the economy had been flatlining in the second quarter. Predictably, this led to new calls for ECB action. “Europe now needs full-blown QE” diagnosed the leader writer of the Financial Times, and in its main report on page one the paper quoted Richard Barwell, European economist at Royal Bank of Scotland with “It’s … [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...]

Bubble trouble: Is there an end to endless quantitative easing?

Ben Bernanke

The publication, earlier this week, of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee minutes of January 29-30 seemed to have a similar effect on equity markets as a call from room service to a Las Vegas hotel suite, informing the partying high-rollers that the hotel might be running out of Cristal Champagne.  Around the world, stocks sold off, and so did gold. Here is the sentence that caused such consternation: “However, many participants also expressed some concerns about potential costs and risks arising from … [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...]

ECB money injection not a reason for optimism

Euro banknotes

Are you feeling optimistic yet? Are you confident that policy-makers have things under control? - If so, you must believe that we can solve any economic problem by throwing freshly printed money at it. Even problems that are evidently the result of previous periods of 'easy money'- such as overstretched and weak banks. The ECB this week allotted another EUR529.5 billion of new money to Europe's banks. The banks get these funds for three years at 1 percent interest. That this is a gigantic subsidy for one specific industry … [Read more...]

The short of the century – The bubble in government bonds is finally bursting

Government bonds

"The government can always pay." This is a statement that has no basis in fact. Any rational analysis will quickly expose it to be a fallacy. Economic theory, economic history, and plain good old horse sense can demonstrate effortlessly that this statement is an illusion. Yet, it is today a widely held and deeply cherished illusion in the world of finance (and, incidentally, the world of politics). In fact, it has become one of the defining myths of the modern fiat money era. It has for decades provided portfolio managers … [Read more...]

Infinite stupidity

dollar notes falling from sky

"The unlimited resources" of the European Central Bank (ECB) is quickly becoming the new magic mantra in political commentary and financial market analysis, now that the bigger euro-dominos are beginning to wobble and everybody realizes that nobody has the firepower to bailout Italy, or to 'recapitalize' (i.e. bailout again) all the banks that lent to the country. So the chorus that demands that the printing press finally be put to good use is getting louder by the day. Robert Peston, the BBC economics expert, last week … [Read more...]

Why We Are Facing an Inflationary Depression

Zimbabwe Hyperinflated bank notes, 2008

Is the global 'recovery' faltering? Is the United States economy heading for a 'double-dip'? These are the headlines after recent disappointing economic data releases, in particular the weak employment report last Friday. Truth be told, there never was a proper 'recovery', if the term is to denote a process of true healing, of fundamental betterment. Recessions occur because of economic imbalances - and the imbalances that caused the financial crisis and the following recession are predominantly still with us. The few … [Read more...]