It's Failing All Over the Show – So Let's Do More of It!

The insanity that has gripped policymakers all over the world really is a sight to see. There was a time when central bankers were extremely careful not to do anything that might endanger the currency's value too much – in other words, they were intent on boiling the frog slowly. And why wouldn't they? After all, the amount by which the citizenry is  plucked via depreciation of the currency every year is compounding, so that the men behind the curtain extract more than enough over time. That they thereby retard economic progress by decades over time as well is not something anyone would notice after all, since we cannot engage in a controlled experiment that proves it to all and sundry beyond doubt. We only know that it is so if we employ sound economic theory. Since sound economic theory is by its nature not statist, it is not employed by the mainstream, and so most citizens are successfully shielded from the truth.

 

The latest example for the growing chutzpa of these snake-oil sellers is provided by Lord Adair Turner in the UK. To give you a little bit of background: the UK is about to fall into its third recession in a row (a 'triple dip', something that has never before happened) not in spite, but because the Bank of England has monetized a cool quarter of all outstanding gilts, which has allowed the zombie TBTF banks to remain on artificial life support.

However, that is not Turner's conclusion. The policy is evidently failing, so he naturally concludes that there should not only be more of it, but it should become more brazen by veering off into the 'Weimaresque'. After all, we will be able to stop in time, right? We just need a 'little bit of it'. Although Turner for some reason also thinks it is 'not appropriate for the UK' (why not? The UK for some reason 'does not respond to demand and price signals', which would really be a first in economic history…where do they find these people?), he thinks everybody else should do it. According to the FT, under the heading “Print Money to Fund Spending”:


“Lord Turner, the departing chairman of the Financial Services Authority has defended financing government spending by printing money arguing that, within limits, it “absolutely, definitively [does] not” lead to inflation.

Speaking before a farewell speech in London on Wednesday, Lord Turner, who applied unsuccessfully to be the next Bank of England governor, called for “intellectual clarity” in economic policy, including breaking a taboo that permanently printing money to pay for government services is always bad.

“I accept entirely that this is a very dangerous thing to let out of the bag, that this is a medicine in small quantities but a poison in large quantities but that there exist some circumstances, in which it is appropriate to take that risk,” he told the Financial Times.

The tool should have been used in 1930s Germany and 1990s Japan, he said. It should be considered across the world, he added, at a time when banks, companies and households are trying to pay down debts and seeking to return to growth by borrowing more is seen as perverse.

In a direct challenge to the German authorities who shudder at the memory of the hyperinflation of the Weimar Republic, Lord Turner suggested that the absence of monetary financing in the early 1930s, which led to depression, falling prices and the rise of the Third Reich, had been a greater disaster.

“Is [monetary financing] desperately dangerous because every pound of money financed turns into inflation? Absolutely definitively not. There is no coherent rigorous bit of economics that takes you in that direction,” he said.

He did add, however, that the country where monetary financing was least likely to be needed was the UK. There he accepts that more stimulus might lead to higher inflation as the underlying health of the economy is weak and could not “respond to demand and price signals”.

 

(emphasis added)

Let's count the ways in which this is misguided nonsense. It begins with the title already. 'Money' cannot 'fund' anything. What is required for funding economic activities are real savings and real capital. You could drop $10 trillion in the middle of the Sahel zone and still wouldn't be able to 'fund' anything. Money is merely a medium of exchange and as such indispensable to economic calculation, but it is not a means of 'funding'.

Now to the assertion that “printing money does not lead to inflation”, which is at the heart of Turner's argument. First of all, it may take many years, even decades, before a broad-based inflationary effect becomes noticeable. For example, the US and others 'printed money' and engaged in deficit spending throughout the 1950s and 1960s.  There also seemed to be no problem, until the problem suddenly became noticeable in the 1970s.

Moreover, 'inflation' in the sense of an increase in CPI is in any case a problem of secondary importance. Money printing most definitely distorts prices all across the economy – it is relative prices that change, as money is not neutral. This hampers rational economic calculation and therefore leads to capital malinvestment. Scarce capital is therefore wasted, and although there may be a 'feel good phase' (the boom), all the accounting profits generated in the boom will eventually disappear again in a bust. They are an inflationary illusion.

The appeal to the 1930s and Hitler is quite amusing in a way, as Hitler himself was a major inflationist. We already mentioned it:  A war on the scale of WW2 would not have been possible without massive inflation and employment of precisely the methods his Lordship recommends. Moreover, the reason for Hitler's rise is ultimately to be sought in the successive abandonment of the gold standard in order to finance WW1. This made it impossible to return to sound money without upheaval, and the 1920's boom ensued when the US attempted to help the misguided policymakers of the UK by leaving interest rates too low, so they could to push through their return to gold at par. This brought on the credit and asset boom of the 1920s, which ultimately led to the Great Depression.

To blame the rise of Hitler on the “refusal to inflate” is especially piquant if one considers that Germany was in the throes of a hyperinflationary conflagration in the year when Hitler was first heard about (he attempted a coup in 1923). Lastly, the 'argument from history', a specialty of Marxists and German historicists, is inappropriate when discussing points of economic theory.

Finally Turner asserts that “we should take the risk” because allegedly, “Is [monetary financing] desperately dangerous because every pound of money financed turns into inflation? Absolutely definitively not. There is no coherent rigorous bit of economics that takes you in that direction,”

This is at best a half-truth. Since money is not neutral, an outbreak of consumer price inflation may or may not happen, that depends largely on many other factors influencing peoples' inflation expectations. However, as noted above, there is no way a sound economic theory can regard inflation of the money supply as 'harmless' or even 'necessary'. Turner is just another snake oil seller.

As an aside, the Knappists, i.e., the  'Modern Monetary Theory' Church, think highly of Turner since he came out with this crazy argument. Enough said. 

 


 

turner_1367473c

Another snake oil seller pops up: Adair Turner

(Photo via telegraph.co.uk)

 


 

 

Emigrate While You Can... Learn More

 


 

 
 

Dear Readers!

You may have noticed that our so-called “semiannual” funding drive, which started sometime in the summer if memory serves, has seamlessly segued into the winter. In fact, the year is almost over! We assure you this is not merely evidence of our chutzpa; rather, it is indicative of the fact that ad income still needs to be supplemented in order to support upkeep of the site. Naturally, the traditional benefits that can be spontaneously triggered by donations to this site remain operative regardless of the season - ranging from a boost to general well-being/happiness (inter alia featuring improved sleep & appetite), children including you in their songs, up to the likely allotment of privileges in the afterlife, etc., etc., but the Christmas season is probably an especially propitious time to cross our palms with silver. A special thank you to all readers who have already chipped in, your generosity is greatly appreciated. Regardless of that, we are honored by everybody's readership and hope we have managed to add a little value to your life.

   

Bitcoin address: 12vB2LeWQNjWh59tyfWw23ySqJ9kTfJifA

   
 

One Response to “Another Snake Oil Seller Pops Up”

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • Trade War Game On!
      Interesting Times Arrive “Things sure are getting exciting again, ain’t they?”  The remark was made by a colleague on Tuesday morning, as we stepped off the elevator to grab a cup of coffee.   Ancient Chinese curse alert... [PT]   “One moment markets are gorging on financial slop like fat pigs in mud.  The next they’re collectively vomiting on themselves. I’ll tell you one thing.  President Trump’s trade war with China won’t end well.  I mean, come...
  • The Dollar Cancer and the Gold Cure
      The Long Run is Here The dollar is failing. Millions of people can see at least some of the major signs, such as the collapse of interest rates, record high number of people not counted in the workforce, and debt rising from already-unpayable levels at an accelerating rate.   Total US credit market debt has hit a new high of $68.6 trillion at the end of 2017. That's up from $22.3 trillion a mere 20 years ago. It's a fairly good bet this isn't sustainable....
  • US Stock Market: Happy Days Are Here Again? Not so Fast...
      A “Typical” Correction? A Narrative Fail May Be in Store Obviously, assorted crash analogs have by now gone out of the window – we already noted that the market was late if it was to continue to mimic them, as the decline would have had to accelerate in the last week of March to remain in compliance with the “official time table”. Of course crashes are always very low probability events – but there are occasions when they have a higher probability than otherwise, and we will...
  • Rise of the Japanese Androids
      Good Intentions One of the unspoken delights in life is the rich satisfaction that comes with bearing witness to the spectacular failure of an offensive and unjust system. This week served up a lavish plate of delicious appetizers with both a style and refinement that’s ordinarily reserved for a competitive speed eating contest. What a remarkable time to be alive.   It seemed a good idea at first... [PT]   Many thrilling stories of doom and gloom were published...
  • Claudio Grass on Cryptocurrencies and Gold – An X22 Report Interview
       The Global Community is Unhappy With the Monetary System, Change is Coming Our friend Claudio Grass of Precious Metal Advisory Switzerland was recently interviewed by the X22 Report on cryptocurrencies and gold. He offers interesting perspectives on cryptocurrencies, bringing them into context with Hayek's idea of the denationalization of money. The connection is that they have originated in the market and exist in a framework of free competition, with users determining which of them...
  • No Revolution Just Yet - Precious Metals Supply and Demand Report
      Irredeemably Yours... Yuan Stops Rallying at the Wrong Moment The so-called petro-yuan was to revolutionize the world of irredeemable fiat paper currencies. Well, since its launch on March 26 — it has gone down. It was to be an enabler for oil companies who were desperate to sell oil for gold, but could not do so until the yuan oil contract.   After becoming progressively stronger over the past year, it looks as thought the 6.25 level in USDCNY is providing support for the...
  • Flight of the Bricks - Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      The Lighthouse Moves Picture, if you will, a brick slowly falling off a cliff. The brick is printed with green ink, and engraved on it are the words “Federal Reserve Note” (FRN). A camera is mounted to the brick. The camera shows lots of things moving up. The cliff face is whizzing upwards at a blur. A black painted brick labeled “oil” is going up pretty fast, but not so fast as the cliff face. It is up 26% in a year. A special brick, a government data brick of sorts, labeled...
  • The “Turn of the Month Effect” Exists in 11 of 11 Countries
      A Well Known Seasonal Phenomenon in the US Market – Is There More to It? I already discussed the “turn-of-the-month effect” in a previous issues of Seasonal Insights, see e.g. this report from earlier this year. The term describes the fact that price gains in the stock market tend to cluster around the turn of the month. By contrast, the rest of the time around the middle of the month is typically less profitable for investors.   Due to continual monetary inflation in the...

Support Acting Man

Item Guides

Top10BestPro
j9TJzzN

The Review Insider

Austrian Theory and Investment

Archive

350x200

THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

Realtime Charts

 

Gold in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Gold in EUR:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Silver in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Platinum in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

USD - Index:

[Most Recent USD from www.kitco.com]

 

Mish Talk

 
Buy Silver Now!
 
Buy Gold Now!
 

Oilprice.com

Diary of a Rogue Economist