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...]

Incredible confusions, Part 2: Of interest and the dangerous habit of suppressing it

woodcut on the subject of usury; attributed to Albrecht Duerer

The idea that the charging of interest is unethical and should be banned has a long tradition in the history of human civilisation. It seems to have played a role at some point in all the major religions, certainly in Christianity, Judaism and Islam, and it is today promoted most strongly by advocates of Islamic banking. As an economist I cannot (and should not) comment on matters of religion. Religion and economics deal with completely different aspects of human existence. Religion is about ‘ultimate ends’ and ‘personal … [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...]

How to debate Paul Krugman

Ron Paul vs. Paul Krugman debate

Paul Krugman is the high priest of Keynesianism and modern interventionism, of economic improvement through inflation and budget deficits. As such he is bête noir among us libertarians and Austrian School economists. What makes him so annoying is his unquestioning, reflexive and almost childlike enthusiasm for state intervention, even in the face of its obvious failure, and his apparent unwillingness to probe any deeper into the real causes of our present economic problems or to show any willingness to investigate the … [Read more...]

Aggregate nonsense

dollar notes falling from sky

The economic policy debate is dominated by wishful thinking and fallacies of the most dangerous kind, propagated no less by the high and mighty in the policy bureaucracy and the alleged experts in the media. Here is my point, and every clear-thinking person already knows it: That economic growth, and thus recovery from the crisis, will come about through the actions of governments is complete and utter nonsense. It is an illusion to assume that running budget deficits and printing lots of money and manipulating prices will … [Read more...]

Christina’s toxic cookbook

Picture of Christina Romer

 Keynesian and other mainstream economists cannot explain the present crisis. That doesn't seem to bother them. All they can offer is a description of symptoms, such as with their favourite phrase of lack of 'aggregate demand', which, if you think about it, doesn't really explain anything. How come demand dropped? Why did it drop now and not at any other time? Whose demand dropped? (Hint: mine didn't.) "Sigmund Freud meets Dr. Ruth" But hey, when faced with a lack of proper economic explanations, you can always fall back … [Read more...]