ECB decision: Unnecessary, ineffective but further entrenching bad habits

Euro banknotes

After months of whinging and whining by the international commentariat, and of relentlessly redefining what any sensible person would call “price stability” as a grave economic problem, the ECB has caved in, as expected, and yesterday announced further stimulus measures. Unnecessary I have pointed out repeatedly that low inflation is not a problem, and that the slow growth in money and credit that is presently its cause, is understandable and not entirely unhealthy. In many parts of the eurozone households, … [Read more...]

Keynesian madness: central banks waging war on price stability, savers

Eurotower In Frankfurt

There is apparently a new economic danger out there. It is called “very low inflation” and the eurozone is evidently at great risk of succumbing to this menace. “A long period of low inflation – or outright deflation, when prices fall persistently – alarms central bankers”, explains The Wall Street Journal, “because it [low inflation, DS] can cripple growth and make it harder for governments, businesses and consumers to service their debts.” Official inflation readings at the ECB are at 0.7 percent, still positive so no … [Read more...]

No end to central bank meddling as ECB embraces ‘quantitative easing’, faulty logic

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

“Who can print money, will print money” is how my friend Patrick Barron put it succinctly the other day. This adage is worth remembering particularly for those periods when central bankers occasionally take the foot off the gas, either because they genuinely believe they solved the problem, or because they want to make a show of appearing careful and measured. The US Federal Reserve is a case in point. Last year the Fed announced that it was beginning to ‘taper’, that is, carefully reduce its debt monetization program … [Read more...]

Is present monetary policy rational?

dollar notes falling from sky

While the stance of monetary policy around the world has, on any conceivable measure, been extreme, by which I mean unprecedentedly accommodative, the question of whether such a policy is indeed sensible and rationale has not been asked much of late. By rational I simply mean the following: Is this policy likely to deliver what it is supposed to deliver? And if it does fall short of its official aim, then can we at least state with some certainty that whatever it delivers in benefits is not outweighed by its costs? I think … [Read more...]

Could Bitcoin be the money of the future?

A physical Bitcoin-coin

The crypto-currency Bitcoin is still merely a speck on the global monetary landscape. It is young, experimental, and for all we know, it may ultimately fail to break into the monetary mainstream. However, on a conceptual level I am willing to call it a work of genius and arguably the most exciting development in the field of money for more than 130 years. Let’s say since the start of the Classical Gold Standard in 1879. Does this sound like hyperbole? Well, let me explain. The Decline and Fall of Capitalist Money The 20th … [Read more...]

Some personal thoughts on surviving the monetary meltdown

1 kilo gold bar

Let us start by looking at the economy from 10,000 feet above: After 40 years of boozing on easy money and feasting on fantastical asset price inflations, the global monetary system is approaching catharsis, its arteries clogged and instant cardiac arrest a persistent threat. Most financial assets are expensive, and many appear to be little more than securitized promises with low probability of ever delivering payment in full. Around the globe, from Japan to the US, a policy of never-ending monetary stimulus consisting of … [Read more...]

Contra Richard Koo and the Keynesians: It is not about ‘aggregate demand’ but about real prices

dollar notes falling from sky

I do not want to waste your time and my energy with shooting down misguided Keynesian schemes all the time, schemes that have been refuted long ago and should by now be instantly laughed out of town whenever put forward. But arch-Keynesian Richard Koo’s latest attempt in the commentary section of the Financial Times to justify out-of-control deficit spending in the United States as a smartly designed and necessary policy that will keep ‘aggregate demand’ up and lead to recovery, is making the rounds on the internet. Koo’s … [Read more...]

The deflation delusion

Dollar note on a hook

Years ago a friend of mine in New York told me about his massively overweight neighbour who took to wearing a black t-shirt with "I beat anorexia" printed on it. I think that is how our central bankers look at the wonderful job they are doing. Since the last link to gold was severed in August 1971, the dollar has lost 82 percent of its purchasing power and the global economy is more geared than ever and now in the death throes of a four-decade leveraging bonanza but our central bankers proudly tell us, hey, at least we beat … [Read more...]