Posts Tagged ‘Paul Krugman’
An Intractable Problem
Something that keeps exercising our mind is the seeming contradiction between two stances uttered as firm principles by the German political leadership. The first is that often repeated assertion that it is determined to ensure the euro's survival. The second is the equally often repeated assertion that using the ECB's printing press to stem the run on euro area sovereign bonds is completely out of the question.
A Paucity of Imagination
We want to return to a theme we have recently discussed in these pages, namely the allegedly exhaustive hypotheses regarding the possible solutions to the euro area's problems that are regularly presented to us in the media.
Leading intellectuals and economists usually list a set of choices based on the views of the current economic orthodoxy, which choices they insist are all that is possible or even imaginable.
The main problem from our point of view is of course that no-one in the mainstream has as of yet really given voice to the so-called 'unthinkable', which in a way demonstrates what it really consists of (if it weren't 'unthinkable', they would have thought of it).
A Historical Mistake
There once was a time when the science of economics – based on sound reasoning – concluded that economic liberalism was the best way to achieve lasting and growing prosperity. Classical economists may have been stumped by the theory of value, a problem satisfactorily solved by Carl Menger in the 1870's, but on the whole, their teachings were conducive to the adoption of free market capitalism. This ushered in an age of unprecedented capital accumulation and prosperity.
Euro Area PMI – Ireland Must Be Doing Something Right
Manufacturing in the euro area continues to contract noticeably – the crisis is taking its toll not only on financial markets, but also the real economy. Note here that what the present economic situation reveals are the results of the policy errors of 2008-2009, namely massive monetary pumping and various wealth-misdirecting and wealth-destroying government intervention schemes designed to 'avert recession'. Why are these mistakes revealed now? This is due to the lag time of monetary policy. On account of the ECB's approach (the ECB – so far – accommodates booms, but is reluctant to actively pump during busts except in order to rescue insolvent banks) monetary policy has become much tighter in the course of the past year than the still very low administered interest rate would suggest. Money supply growth in the euro area as a whole has only been 1.3% year-on-year (in terms of money TMS), with several peripheral nations experiencing outright monetary deflation. Read the rest of this entry »
Antipodes Speak Out – Lacker and Evans
Over the past two weeks we have heard several regional Fed presidents speak their mind, some of whom oppose the central bank's current easy money policies and some of whom think it should ease even more. Members of the Fed's board of governors in Washington and chairman Bernanke were also heard from – this group seems to be united in wanting to pursue an extremely easy monetary policy. We will look at some of the speeches that were delivered, with special emphasis on Charles Evans, as his viewpoint seems to be gaining ground lately. Read the rest of this entry »
Dissenters Speak Out
Before discussing what the Fed might do next, we would note that it has recently 'wheeled out the hawks'. We have noticed that there seems to be a method behind the Fed's communications tactics. Naturally it is possible that we're just a bit too paranoid, but it appears to us that between FOMC meetings, we always get to hear from the perceived 'hawks' (who really aren't all that hawkish, they're only less dovish than their colleagues) relatively early before the next meeting approaches. Their speeches add to the sense that there is someone responsible lurking at the Fed, someone who cares about manipulating the currency 'just right'. Moreover, by getting their remarks out of the way early, it is possible for the Fed to gauge how the markets react to what they say and ideally, from its point of view, make use of the reaction. It is a good bet that if there is a reaction at all, it will be negative from the 'risk assets' side, as Messrs. Plosser, Kocherlakota, Fisher and Lacker (the current crop of dissenters/doubters) all talk about wanting to pursue less rather than more inflation. Read the rest of this entry »
Establishment Quacks Call For More Money Printing
No matter how often and how thoroughly inflationist doctrines have been refuted by economic theory, or how many times their implementation in practice has resulted in large-scale economic misery, they never seem to lack for support. The main supporters these days are the pro-statism establishment intellectuals which seem to populate both mainstream media and academe in staggering abundance. You might say there's an inflation of inflation-loving intellectuals.
Naturally, their doctrines are as faulty today as they have been since the times when Roman emperors debased their coins, but that doesn't keep them from recommending the same hoary nonsense all over again. Worst of all, their opinions coincide with those of modern-day policymakers, in fact they serve as a fig leaf and provide propaganda support for their policies. Read the rest of this entry »
… but it stands on a weak foundation.
The expected rebound in stocks and commodities has continued on Monday, but there are a number of signs that this is not much more than a short covering rally that is unlikely to last. Although yields on euro area government bonds and CDS on them have continued to decline (we will update the euro area charts tomorrow), the fact remains that the economy is under pressure, so bounces in stocks have to be approached with great caution – they are more likely to represent selling opportunities than a reason to buy at this stage. Notably the recent rally has inter alia been triggered by a in several European countries. Short selling bans have historically always been medium term bearish events – they can trigger a bounce lasting for a few days, but in the long run they are extremely counterproductive, as they lower liquidity and hinder the price discovery process. By taking away the opportunity to hedge, they ultimately create even more selling pressure than would have appeared otherwise. This latest short selling ban is thus likely destined to fail as well – one wonders why the authorities even bother.
Paul Krugman Pines For A Command Economy
Sometime in late 2008 we waxed philosophically about what we thought had happened to the US pool of real funding (i.e., the pool of saved real goods that funds all economic activity) in the wake of the 1990's/Nasdaq bubble. We wondered how it was possible, in spite of preliminary evidence that the pool of real savings was in trouble, to create yet another, even bigger bubble from 2003-2007.
A Weakening Economy
More and more evidence is trickling in that shows that economic activity is softening considerably all over the world. Yesterday, US manufacturing ISM data vastly underwhelmed expectations as the headline number dropped to the lowest level in two years, to 50.9 from 55.3 the previous month and against an expected 54.5 (so much for the forecasting prowess of mainstream economists. We have argued all year long that the 'big surprise will be a weakening of the economy as the year goes on', based solely on deductive reasoning).
Most read in the last 20 days:
- Gold Sector: Positioning and Sentiment
A Case of Botched Timing, But... When last we wrote about the gold sector in mid February, we discussed historical patterns in the HUI following breaches of its 200-day moving average from below. Given that we expected such a breach to occur relatively soon, the post turned out to be rather ill-timed. Luckily we always advise readers that we are not exactly Nostradamus (occasionally our timing is a bit better). Below is a chart of the HUI Index depicting the action since the January...
- India: The next Pakistan?
India’s Rapid Degradation This is Part XI of a series of articles (the most recent of which is linked here) in which I have provided regular updates on what started as the demonetization of 86% of India's currency. The story of demonetization and the ensuing developments were merely a vehicle for me to explore Indian institutions, culture and society. The Modimobile is making the rounds amid a flower shower. [PT] Photo credit: PTI Photo Tribal cultures face...
- The Long Run Economics of Debt Based Stimulus
Onward vs. Upward Something both unwanted and unexpected has tormented western economies in the 21st century. Gross domestic product (GDP) has moderated onward while government debt has spiked upward. Orthodox economists continue to be flummoxed by what has transpired. What happened to the miracle? The Keynesian wet dream of an unfettered fiat debt money system has been realized, and debt has been duly expanded at every opportunity. Although the fat lady has so far only...
- Welcome to Totalitarian America, President Trump!
Trump vs. the Deep State If there had been any doubt that the land of the free and home of the brave is now a totalitarian society, the revelations that its Chief Executive Officer has been spied upon while campaigning for that office and during his brief tenure as president should now be allayed. Image adapted from the cover of “Deep State #5” - depicting an assassin from the future President Trump joins the very crowded list of opponents of the American...
- Boosting Stock Market Returns With A Simple Trick
Systematic Trading Based on Statistics Trading methods based on statistics represent an unusual approach for many investors. Evaluation of a security's fundamental merits is not of concern, even though it can of course be done additionally. Rather, the only important criterion consists of typical price patterns determined by statistical examination of past trends. Fundamental considerations such as the valuation of stocks are not really relevant to the statistics-based trading...
- Searching for Truth
Heresy or Truth? RANCHO SANTANA, NICARAGUA – In the fifth century, Christian scholars counted 88 different heresies. Arianism. Eutychianism. Nestorianism. If there was a way to “offend” God, they had a name for it. One group of “heretics” argued that there was no such thing as “original sin.” Another denied the trinity. And another claimed Jesus was not divine. Which one had the truth? Depiction of the first Council of Ephesus in 431 AD, convened by Emperor...
- March to Default
Style Over Substance “May you live in interesting times,” says the ancient Chinese curse. No doubt about it, we live in interesting times. Hardly a day goes by that we’re not aghast and astounded by a series of grotesque caricatures of the world as at devolves towards vulgarity. Just this week, for instance, U.S. Representative Maxine Waters tweeted, “Get ready for impeachment.” Well, Maxine Waters is obviously right – impeaching the president is an urgent...
- Why the 21st Century Sucks - Turtles All the Way Down
A Truly Sucky Century BALTIMORE – What an awful century! Worst we’ve ever seen. Household incomes are down. Employment is down, with 7 million people in the U.S. of working age without jobs. Productivity growth is down. GDP growth is down – to only about 0.5% per capita last year. Even life expectancies are down. Drug overdoses are up. Suicides are up. One out of every eight children lives in a family getting food stamps. One of out every eight adults takes psychoactive drugs...
- Gold and the Fed's Looming Rate Hike in March
Long Term Technical Backdrop Constructive After a challenging Q4 in 2016 in the context of rising bond yields and a stronger US dollar, gold seems to be getting its shine back in Q1. The technical picture is beginning to look a little more constructive and the “reflation trade”, spurred on further by expectations of higher infrastructure spending and tax cuts in the US, has thus far also benefited gold. From a technical perspective, there are indications that the low at $1045.40,...
- The Unstable Empire – A Campfire Tale
Campfire Tale Caesar: The Ides of March are come. Soothsayer: Ay, Caesar, but not gone. — Julius Caesar, Shakespeare GRANADA, NICARAGUA – Today, we stop the horses and circle the wagons. For 19 years, we have been rolling along, exploring, discovering. We began with the assumption that we didn’t “know” anything - so we kept our eyes open. Now we know even less. Famous people who knew nothing and were not shy to admit it: Sergeant Schultz...
- Off the Beaten Path in Mesoamerica
Greeted by Rooster There’s an endearing quality to a steadfast rooster call at the crack of dawn when overheard from a warm country farmhouse. There’s a reassuring charm that comes with the committed gallinaceous greeting of daybreak that’s particularly suited to a rural ambiance. The allure of a morning cock-a-doodle-doo somehow falls flat in all other settings. Good morning everyone! Before meteorological forecasts were available on TV and smart phones, people...
- Why Silver Went Down – Precious Metals Supply and Demand
Rumor-Mongering vs. Data The question on the lips of everyone who plans to exchange his metal for dollars—widely thought to be money—is why did silver go down? The price of silver in dollar terms dropped from about 18 bucks to about 17, or about 5 percent. Reportedly silver was already assassinated in the late 19th century... so last week they must have assassinated its corpse. [PT] Illustration taken from 'Coin's Financial School' The facile answer is...