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...]

End of QE? – I don’t buy it.

Ben Bernanke

A new meme is spreading in financial markets: The Fed is about to turn off the monetary spigot. US Printmaster General Ben Bernanke announced that he might start reducing the monthly debt monetization program, called ‘quantitative easing’ (QE), as early as the autumn of 2013, and maybe stop it entirely by the middle of next year. He reassured markets that the Fed would keep the key policy rate (the Fed Funds rate) at near zero all the way into 2015. Still, the end of QE is seen as the beginning of the end of super-easy … [Read more...]

Oxford Hayek Society talk followed by Q and A

Detlev at Oxford Hayek Society

The Oxford Hayek Society invited Detlev to give a talk at Christ Church on 14th May 2013. This was followed by a lively discussion afterwards ... … [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...]

“But there is no inflation!” – Misconceptions about the debasement of money

Printed money

“But there is no inflation!” - This is a statement I hear quite often, sometimes from people who are, in principle, sympathetic to my arguments, sometimes from people who are less so. In either case, those who state “but there is no inflation” consider it to be a statement of fact and one that they assume must pose a challenge for me. Should the man who argues that we are heading for the collapse of paper money, for some kind of hyperinflationary endgame, not be concerned that all this money printing by central banks around … [Read more...]

We are on the road to serfdom

Road

We are now five years into the Great Fiat Money Endgame and our freedom is increasingly under attack from the state, liberty’s eternal enemy. It is true that by any realistic measure most states today are heading for bankruptcy. But it would be wrong to assume that ‘austerity’ policies must now lead to a diminishing of government influence and a shrinking of state power. The opposite is true: The state asserts itself more forcefully in the economy, and the political class feels licensed by the crisis to abandon whatever … [Read more...]

The fallacy of nominal GDP targeting

Book cover Cantillon An Essay of Economic Theory

In a truly remarkable piece for the Financial Times yesterday, Wolfgang Münchau took another swipe at the Euro-sceptic and ECB-critical community in Germany, which he accuses of inflation-paranoia and of simply not getting 'modern central banking'. Well, I know of many qualified commentators - many non-German - who swallow a tad harder when reflecting on the new reality of unlimited and open-ended QE in the US and unlimited bond buying by the ECB. As the central bank bureaucrats declare that they will not stop printing base … [Read more...]

Stimulus, to infinity and beyond

Ben Bernanke

There was a beautiful symmetry to last week's policy announcement by the Fed. Precisely a week after the ECB had pledged its commitment to unlimited purchases of Euro Zone government bonds, the Fed declared that its new round of debt monetization - 'quantitative easing' or QE3 - would be open-ended. Unlimited, open-ended. The concept of stimulus has certainly evolved since the crisis started. This should give us reason to pause. 'Unlimited' is not a word that is used much in economics or in business-life. The only thing … [Read more...]