Responses to comments on the ‘Comments on Brian Wesbury article’ post

Post: Comments on Brian Wesbury article

Comment by ‘Hoover Printing Press‘:

Warren congrats on your new website.

Thanks!

I keep reading that the bond insurers have let banks keep lots of “accounting issues” off the books – thus affecting tier 1 capital requirements – currently to the banks advantage. Without the bond insurers and their AAA rating by moody and sp (fitch has already lowered ratings down from AAA) the banks will have to scramble for lots of capital without the insurance, barclays recent estimate upwards of 150 billion. I remember Buffet referring to Financial WMD’s.

Yes, but that’s a matter of institutional structure. The government has several options.

For example:

  • The government could change bank ‘haircuts’ to capital by allowing AA insured bonds to have the same or only marginally higher capital charges as AAA bonds. The capital requirements are somewhat arbitrary to being with and meant to serve public purpose.
  • The government could offer some for of supplemental insurance at a fee to investors holding the AAA insured bonds in question. Again, for example, the fee could perhaps be 1%, and the government could guarantee a price of 97 to any investor who paid the fee. The government will probably make a profit on this type of program, as the monolines’ capital will still be in first lost position, and even if they are downgraded to AA, the implication is they will have more than sufficient capital to cover all losses. That is what AA means.

I read articles that NY is in a mad scramble to get buffet and others to bring some assurances to the bond insurance industry because the muni debt market is going to seize up without bond insurance and what the AAA ratings of that insurance lends to capital requirements and “accounting issues.”

Yes. There are some institutional ‘land mines’ in place that the government can either prevent from being tripped or defuse directly (for a fee), as above.

In hoover’s time I remember reading from Rothbard’s great depression I believe that he printed but the banks used the money to shore up their reserves, they did not want to lend and spur the economy at the cost of their own survival.

Under that gold standard regime, the government was limited in what it could do. Deficit spending carried the risk of loss of gold reserves, for example. And, in fact, the US was forced off the gold standard in 1934 domestically and devalued for foreign holders of $. This was the only actual default in US history.

So why is Bush and congress giving joe six pack 150B when he could have used that to back the bond insurers and the banks?

No comment.. You must be new here??? :)

Possibly getting the ratings agency to save some face and for fitch to bring AAA ratings back to the bond insurers?

Or the supplemental plan, above, that doesn’t bail out the insurers.

On another point, you claim a large difference between hoover’s problems and our problems today is the gold standard and floating exchange rates. Unfortunately I must press you as to how that is so when the folks at the top of this chart (china) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_current_account_balance have fixed exchange rates relating to the folks at the bottome of it (USA). Soros is claiming the USA will soon lose reserve currency status.

A fixed exchange rate ‘forces’ you to run a trade surplus to sustain sufficient reserves of gold or the reserve currency of choice. It also limits the ability to conduct countercyclical deficit spending as that leads to loss of reserves and default/devaluation/etc.

China has a ‘dirty float’, which means the currency is not convertible, but instead they intervene at various prices.

Not at all the same thing.

I am not so sure the Euro will be able to weather a global financial meltdown and perhaps in economic warfare, keeping reserve currency status is worth fighting over.

What is it, and why do you care?

With bush selling lots of scatter bombs to the house of Saud, at least we are trying to keep friends who have control over oil.

Still with the USA’s current account balance the worst of any country on the planet,

Imports are real benefits, exports real costs. In general, the larger your trade deficit, the higher your standard of living.

40K nukular bombs and a war machine that eats up large domestic resources, and a consumer base whose only skill is to shop till princess drops,

Consumption is the only point of economics.

I am not so sure what you are trying to save to get USA to deficit spend even MORE?

Right now, more deficit spending of the type proposed will mainly increase inflation.

Would it be so bad if that guy “dfense” from the mike douglas movie “FALLING DOWN” gets put out of a missle building job and starts fishing on the dock of the bay wasting time?


Comment by Scott Fullwiler:

Wesbury’s basically a monetarist (everything that goes wrong is the Fed’s fault for creating either too much or too little “liquidity”) operating with a gold standard model.

Yes, that’s where we don’t agree on causation and risks. But interesting that even in that paradigm, he doesn’t see the risks the Fed does, as they are in the same gold standard paradigm.

That said, he’s been bullish on the economy since 2002, and he’s been mostly right in that, except that he’s also been saying inflation is right around the corner since then, too, given weak dollar, strong gold.

And I’ve seen inflation underway due to Saudis acting as the swing producer and hiking price continuously.

And I see the weak $ as a change in preferences of non-resident holdings of financial assets.

Until a year and a half ago he was also claiming that the large spread b/n st and lt Treasuries was another a sign of inflation,

And I say it’s a sign of what investors think the Fed will be doing next. So to that extent, the curve reflects investor expectations. But there is also a lot of institutional structure that steers maturity preferences; so, the result is a mix of the two.

though he decided bond markets were being irrational once the yield curve inverted (again, if inflation is right around the corner).

Again, that reflects investor expectations.

I’ve used him in my classes for several years as a “balance” to the Levy view of “debt deflation’s around the corner.” Interesting to see that you and he are on the same page now at least regarding state of the economy, since you’ve been pessimistic (at least in long run, given small govt deficit) while he’s been a non-stop bull.

Yes, I’ve been expecting lower domestic demand since the financial obligations ratio go to where it go in Q2 2006, due to the shrinking budget deficit. What I missed was how strong exports would be, mainly on our three pronged weak dollar policy that has been scaring foreigners away from holding $US financial assets.

This includes calling CB’s currency manipulators if they buy $US, aggressive Middle Eastern policy, and the Fed’s apparent lack of concern for the value of the currency (inflation). Fundamentally, the falling budget deficit is good for the $US, but technically government policy has triggered an ‘inventory liquidation’ over seas that is causing exports to boom.

And now we are learning the hard way (or should be) what an export driven economy looks like – weak domestic demand due to high prices and full employment as we build goods and services for others.


♥

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4 Responses to Responses to comments on the ‘Comments on Brian Wesbury article’ post

  1. warren mosler says:

    yes, yes, and while I don’t like casinos others might…

    Reply

  2. Hoover printing presses says:

    “Keynes wrote in the context of the gold standard of the time and did a pretty good job of it best I can tell. But much is applicable to today only by ‘translating’ it to floating fx.”

    His thoughts on speculators and investors, wether it be stock markets or currency markets, are just as apt no? Why would chaos and anarchy in currency markets be any more desirable according to keynes theories than the stock markets? The currency traders seem like modern day gamblers to me in a very large casino – this is not a good thing is it?

    From the previous link:

    These considerations should not lie beyond the purview of the economist…. As the organisation of investment markets improves, the risk of the predominance of speculation does, however, increase…. Speculators may do no harm as bubbles on a steady stream of enterprise. But the position is serious when enterprise becomes the bubble on a whirlpool of speculation. When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done…. These tendencies are a scarcely avoidable outcome of our having successfully organised “liquid” investment markets. It is usually agreed that casinos should, in the public interest, be inaccessible and expensive. And perhaps the same is true of Stock Exchanges…. The introduction of a substantial Government transfer tax on all transactions might prove the most serviceable reform available, with a view to mitigating the predominance of speculation over enterprise….

    The spectacle of modern investment markets has sometimes moved me towards the conclusion that to make the purchase of an investment permanent and indissoluble, like marriage, except by reason of death or other grave cause, might be a useful remedy for our contemporary evils. For this would force the investor to direct his mind to the long-term prospects and to those only. But a little consideration of this expedient brings us up against a dilemma, and shows us how the liquidity of investment markets often facilitates, though it sometimes impedes, the course of new investment. For the fact that each individual investor flatters himself that his commitment is “liquid” (though this cannot be true for all investors collectively) calms his nerves and makes him much more willing to run a risk….

    Reply

  3. warren mosler says:

    As we are not on the gold standard, the fed shouldn’t care if you could turn lead into gold, all else equal.

    China didn’t fund anything here? It was all domestic credit creation.

    I recall it was Ohio that defaulted in the 1840’s?

    Keynes wrote in the context of the gold standard of the time and did a pretty good job of it best I can tell. But much is applicable to today only by ‘translating’ it to floating fx.

    Reply

  4. Hoover printing presses says:

    Warren thanks for the prompt reply, I will ponder your points and with more digestion attempt to expand my horizons. I believe you ask what do I think reserve currency status is and why do I care?

    In response I will ask you what would the central banks be thinking or doing if I created a process that cheaply turned lead into gold and started flooding the world with the stuff? Why would they care? ;)

    Or from history what happened to Spain and south america when Spain’s gold money was suddenly inflated by the large hoards of gold coming in from the aztec empire?

    “What I missed was how strong exports would be, mainly on our three pronged weak dollar policy that has been scaring foreigners away from holding $US financial assets.”

    I have read wall street exported a lot of non performing loans to bank of china who funded our mcmansions and that piper is yet to be fully paid. I seem to recall reading the US defaulted once before – in the hungry 1840’s that US States defaulted on british investors who helped fund our buildout of canals and roads – charles dickens in his original classic “a christmas carol” talked of scrooge’s fine british assets being turned into worthless american securities as punishment for his greed.

    I look at the chart of FXI and wonder how many international american companies are really going to be profitable going forward based on US exports.

    Regarding investor expectations:

    Delong on Keynes and irrational speculation and the ineffecitveness of the fed long term:

    http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2008/01/stupidest-man-a.html#comments

    A]ter giving full weight to the importance of the influence of short-period changes in the state of long-term expectation as distinct from changes in the rate of interest, we are still entitled to return to the latter as exercising, at any rate, in normal circumstances, a great, though not a decisive, influence on the rate of investment. Only experience, however, can show how far management of the rate of interest is capable of continuously stimulating the appropriate volume of investment.

    For my own part I am now somewhat sceptical of the success of a merely monetary policy directed towards influencing the rate of interest. I expect to see the State, which is in a position to calculate the marginal efficiency of capital-goods on long views and on the basis of the general social advantage, taking an ever greater responsibility for directly organising investment; since it seems likely that the fluctuations in the market estimation of the marginal efficiency of different types of capital, calculated on the principles I have described above, will be too great to be offset by any practicable changes in the rate of interest.

    Reply

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