Posts Tagged ‘Paul Krugman’
Interpreting the Activity of Banks and the ECB Correctly
It appears that market observers are only very slowly coming around to grasping the fact that what the ECB has done in December does indeed amount to a major dose of monetary pumping. The misunderstandings center mainly on the use of the ECB's deposit facility by banks, which overshadows the far more legitimate debate over whether the commercial banks are going to use ECB funding to play the sovereign debt carry trade or rather 'play it safe' in view of the large amount of bank bonds maturing in the first quarter.
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 short selling ban 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.
Most read in the last 20 days:
- Insanity, Oddities and Dark Clouds in Credit-Land
Insanity Rules Bond markets are certainly displaying a lot of enthusiasm at the moment – and it doesn't matter which bonds one looks at, as the famous “hunt for yield” continues to obliterate interest returns across the board like a steamroller. Corporate and government debt have been soaring for years, but investor appetite for such debt has evidently grown even more. The perfect investment for modern times: interest-free risk! Illuustration by Howard...
- A Date Which Will Live in Infamy
President Nixon’s Decision to Abandon the Gold Standard Franklin Delano Roosevelt called the Japanese “surprise” attack on the U.S. occupied territory of Hawaii and its naval base Pearl Harbor, “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy.” Similar words should be used for President Nixon’s draconian decision 45 years ago this month that removed America from the last vestiges of the gold standard. Nixon points out where numerous evil speculators were suspected to be...
- US Economy – Something is not Right
Another Strong Payrolls Report – is it Meaningful? This morning the punters in the casino were cheered up by yet another strong payrolls report, the second in a row. Leaving aside the fact that it will be revised out of all recognition when all is said and done, does it actually mean the economy is strong? Quo vadis, economy? Image credit: Paul Raphaelson As we usually point out at this juncture: apart from the problem that US labor force participation has...
- Investing in Gold in 2016: Global Paradigm Shifts in Politics and Markets
Crumbling Stability In the past few months, we have witnessed a series of defining events in modern political history, with Britain’s vote to exit the EU, (several) terror attacks in France and Germany, as well as the recent attempted military coup in Europe’s backyard, Turkey. Global stability continues to be undermined Uncertainty over Europe’s political stability and the future of the EU keeps growing. These worries are quite valid, as geopolitical...
- Trump's Tax Plan, Clinton Corruption and Mainstream Media Propaganda
Fake Money, Fake Capital OUZILLY, France – Little change in the markets on Monday. We are in the middle of vacation season. Who wants to think too much about the stock market? Not us! Yesterday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump promised to reform the U.S. tax system. This should actually even appeal to supporters of Bernie Sanders: the lowest income groups will be completely exempt from income and capital gains taxes under Trump's plan. We expect to hear...
- The Great Stock Market Swindle
Short Circuited Feedback Loops Finding and filling gaps in the market is one avenue for entrepreneurial success. Obviously, the first to tap into an unmet consumer demand can unlock massive profits. But unless there’s some comparative advantage, competition will quickly commoditize the market and profit margins will decline to just above breakeven. Example of a “commoditized” market – hard-drive storage costs per GB. This is actually the essence of economic...
- Bank of England QE and the Imaginary “Brexit Shock”
Mark Carney, Wrecking Ball For reasons we cannot even begin to fathom, Mark Carney is considered a “superstar” among central bankers. Presumably this was one of the reasons why the British government helped him to execute a well-timed exit from the Bank of Canada by hiring him to head the Bank of England (well-timed because he disappeared from Canada with its bubble economy seemingly still intact, leaving his successor to take the blame). This is how Mark Carney is seen by...
- An Old Friend Returns
A Rare Apparition An old friend suddenly showed up out of the blue yesterday and I’m not talking about a contributor who had washed out and, after years of ‘working for the man’, decided to return for another whack at beating the market. Instead I am delighted to report that I am looking at a bona fide confirmed VIX sell signal which we haven’t seen for ages here. Hello, old friend. Professor X and Magneto staring each other down in the plastic...
- The Fabian Society and the Gradual Rise of Statist Socialism
The “Third Way” “Stealth, intrigue, subversion, and the deception of never calling socialism by its right name” – George Bernard Shaw An emblem of the Fabian Society: a wolf in sheep's clothing The Brexit referendum has revealed the existence of a deep polarization in British politics. Apart from the public faces of the opposing campaigns, there were however also undisclosed parties with a vested interest which few people have heard about. And...
- Retail Snails
Second Half Recovery Dented by “Resurgent Consumer” We normally don't comment in real time on individual economic data releases. Generally we believe it makes more sense to occasionally look at a bigger picture overview, once at least some of the inevitable revisions have been made. The update we posted last week (“US Economy, Something is Not Right”) is an example. Eager consumers storming a store Photo credit: Daniel Acker / Bloomberg We'll make an...
- The Fed’s “Waterloo” Moment
Corrupt and Unsustainable James has been a big help. Trying to get him to sleep at night, we have been telling him fantastic and unbelievable bedtime stories – full of grotesque monsters... evil maniacs... and events that couldn’t possibly be true (catch up here and here). He turned his head until his gaze came to rest on the barred windows of the main building. Finally, he spoke; as far as I was aware these were the first words he had uttered in more than five years....
- Good Money and Bad Money
Confidence Gets a Boost OUZILLY, France – Last week’s U.S. jobs report came in better than expected. Stocks rose to new records. As we laid out recently, a better jobs picture should lead the Fed to raise rates. This should cause canny investors to dump stocks. Canny investors at work (an old, but good one...) Cartoon via Pension Pulse But the stock market paid no attention. It follows logic of its own. Headlines told us that last Friday’s report “boosted...