Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 10th May 2013
By Gary Carmell
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 10th May 2013
By Gary Carmell
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 10th May 2013
Seems like subversive propoganda to me.
They deliberately ignore the obvious fixed vs floating fx distinction, for example.
A few comments below:
May 10 (Fitch) — Fitch Ratings says in a newly-published report that the popular perception that sovereigns cannot default on debt denominated in their own currency because of their power to print money is a myth. They can and do.
Local currency defaults in the recent era include: Venezuela (1998), Russia (1998), Ukraine (1998), Ecuador (1999), Argentina (2001) and Jamaica (2010 and 2013). Nonetheless, we recognise that local currency defaults are less frequent than foreign currency defaults and are unlikely for countries with debt mainly denominated in local currency at long maturity.
Russia and Argentina, for example, had headline, well publicized fixed exchange rate policies, where they fixed the value of their currency to the $US. Failing to recognize that in this report is intellectually dishonest.
To assess the capacity which sovereigns have to inflate away their debt, this report uses our debt dynamics model to illustrate how much surprise inflation might be required for three hypothetical scenarios. For a country with a large primary budget deficit, gains to the debt to GDP ratio from even quite high inflation would be short-lived. While for a country with a debt to GDP ratio of 100%, primary deficit of 1%, real growth equal to the real interest rate and a 10-year average debt maturity, it would take a jump to 30% inflation (from our 2% baseline) for three years and 10% thereafter to bring the debt ratio below the 60% Maastricht threshold.
There is no such thing as ‘inflate away their debt’ as govt debt represents the global net savings of financial assets of that currency. So all that can be said in this context is that ‘savings desires’ are, for all practical purposes, always going to be there as some % of GDP.
Undoubtedly, higher inflation can be used to raise seigniorage (the difference between the value of money and the cost to print it)
This is nonsensical with floating exchange rate policy ( non convertible currency) as, for example, all US govt spending can be called ‘printing’ as it’s just a matter of the Fed crediting a member bank account. Likewise, taxing is ‘unprinting’ as it’s just a matter of debiting a member bank account. With fixed fx policy, it’s the ratio of convertible currency outstanding vs the actual fx reserves at the CB, a very different matter.
and remittance of central bank profits to the government, up to a point. Nevertheless, in the long run, the ratio of government debt/GDP will rise if the government is running a primary budget deficit (excluding interest payments and including seigniorage), assuming the real growth rate does not exceed the real interest rate, irrespective of the inflation rate.
An unanticipated burst of inflation can reduce the real value of government debt as long as the debt is not of short maturity (as higher inflation is quickly reflected in the marginal cost of funding), index linked or denominated in foreign currency (as the exchange rate would depreciate). Thus countries with such characteristics – which give them ‘monetary sovereignty’ – do have some capacity to inflate away their debt.
Linking govt payments to an index is a form of fixed exchange rate policy and yes, govts can and do default on these types of fixed exchange rate ‘promises.’
Inflation is economically and politically costly.
Politically costly, yes, but economically, there are no studies that show real costs to the economy from inflation.
Thus, even if a sovereign has a capacity to inflate away its debt, it might choose not to. It is also far from clear how much money would need to be printed to deliver the ‘right’ inflation rate, as the current debate over quantitative easing highlights. Instead a sovereign might view a Distressed Debt Exchange (DDE) as a less bad policy option. Fitch classifies a DDE as a default.
This is a confused rhetoric and a display of total ignorance of actual monetary operations.
The myth that sovereigns that can print money cannot default on debt in their own currency has also fed the proposition that such local currency ratings are irrelevant.
Fitch is again refusing to distinguish convertible and non convertible currency policy.
Fitch disagrees that default is inconceivable or impossible. The agency agrees that countries with strong monetary sovereignty and financing flexibility are unlikely to default and these are important factors in Fitch’s sovereign rating methodology that affect both local and foreign currency ratings.
A sovereign’s local currency rating is closely linked to its foreign currency rating. It is typically one or two notches higher, owing to the sovereign’s somewhat greater capacity to pay debt in local currency, as taxes are usually paid in local currency and it may have better access to a stable domestic capital market, as well as some capacity to print money. It may also be more willing to service local currency debt if more of it is held by local banks and other residents.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 8th May 2013
Commentary: Warren Mosler has a plan but no takers
By Darrell Delamaide
May 8 (MarketWatch) — If youre ever tempted to think the euro zone has turned the corner and is on the right track, go have a chat with Warren Mosler and hell set you straight.
The former hedge-fund manager and an original proponent of what has come to be known as modern monetary theory gave a talk recently at a wealth management conference in Zurich that took a pessimistic view of the euro righting itself on its current path.
The European slow-motion train wreck will continue until theres recognition that deficits need to be larger, Mosler said at the conclusion of his analysis. The continuing efforts at deficit reduction will continue to make things worse.
Mosler suggested several measures that could turn around the situation in the euro zone, though he acknowledged there is little chance they will be adopted.
The euro authorities need to accept that deficits should be allowed to go up to 8% of gross domestic product, instead of the current 3%, as the only way to create the monetary conditions for full employment and economic growth.
The European Central Bank should make a policy rate of 0% permanent. The ECB, as the source of the euro zones fiat money, should guarantee the debt of all euro countries and guarantee deposit insurance for all euro-zone banks, which would entail taking over bank supervision.
Individual countries in the euro zone, like individual states in the U.S., are trapped in a procyclical monetary and fiscal environment. Because they have no sovereign currency, they must reduce spending in a downturn.
In the U.S., the federal government can operate countercyclically, by running a sufficiently large deficit to provide net savings to the private sector. The ECB is the only institution in the euro zone that does not have revenue constraints and could play a countercyclical role.
Because money is a public monopoly, when the monopolist restricts supply by not running a sufficient deficit, it creates excess capacity in the economy, as evidenced by high unemployment.
Mosler says the deficit can result from lower taxes or increased government spending, whatever your politics prefers. But policies aimed at reducing the deficit are doomed to keep an economy depressed.
And theres more. All successful currency unions include fiscal transfers, Mosler said. In Canada, this is written into the constitution and in the U.S. it is achieved through the federal budget.
In Europe, this would mean that some authority like an empowered European Parliament would direct government spending to the areas with the highest unemployment.
Clearly all of this is well beyond what Europe is currently capable of doing, and the leaders in power have implicitly or explicitly rejected all of these potential fixes.
The reality is, Mosler noted, that there is no political support for higher deficits, no political support for leaving the euro, and beyond reducing deficits the only remaining fixes are taxes on depositors and bondholders like those seen in Cyprus and Greece.
Mosler, who currently manages offshore funds and produces sports cars on the side, says his views, which have been taken up and elaborated by a post-Keynesian school of economics, are based on his experience as a money manager.
And, he adds, he has a substantial following of asset managers for his ideas because these are people who are paid to get it right.
The current stopgap measures proposed by the ECB notably the putative outright monetary transactions to bail out a country under certain conditions, which has yet to be used have a dubious legal basis and are so much smoke and mirrors, Mosler said.
In this Zurich talk, Mosler did not draw any further conclusions regarding his pessimistic view of the euros current course, but a website devoted to Mosler Economics in Italy, where MMT has a considerable following, spells out what it could mean in a post called 10 reasons to return to the lira.
These reasons include the ability to lower taxes, allow the government to pay off debts to the private sector and implement a works program to provide employment and improve the public infrastructure. Read the post (in Italian).
Lest this all seem like so much pie in the sky, keep in mind that the forces that gave the protest movement of Beppe Grillo a quarter of the vote in Italys recent election will only grow as continued austerity deepens Europes recession.
So remain optimistic if you like, but youve been warned.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 2nd May 2013
Good to see Ken, who I’ve never met, and Carmen who I do know, no doubt assisted by her husband Vince, beginning to come clean with this response. While not complete, it’s the beginning of an encouraging, epic reversal and a first step in the right direction!
My comments added below:
By Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart
May 1 (FT) — The recent debate about the global economy has taken a distressingly simplistic turn. Some now argue that just because one cannot definitely prove very high debt is bad for growth (though the weight of the results still say it is),
They could add here ‘though likely via the reaction functions of govts and not the high debt per se.’
then high debt is not a problem. Looking beyond the recent public debate about the literature on debt we have already discussed our results on debt and growth in that context the debate needs to be reconnected to the facts.
Let us start with one: the ratios of debt to gross domestic product are at historically high levels in many countries, many rising above previous wartime peaks. This is before adding in concerns over contingent liabilities on private sector balance sheets and underfunded old-age security and pension programmes. In the case of Germany, there is also the likely need to further cushion the debt loads of eurozone partners.
Adding here ‘as they are ‘users’ of the euro the way US states are ‘users’ of the dollar, and not the actual issuer of the currency like the ECB, the Fed, the BOE, the BOJ, and the rest of the world’s central banks.’
Some say not to worry, pointing to bursts of growth after the world wars. But todays debts,
Add ‘while they pose no solvency risk for the issuer of the currency.’
will not be dealt with by boosts to supply from postwar demobilisation and to demand from the lifting of wartime controls.
To be clear, no one should be arguing to stabilise debt, much less bring it down, until growth is more solidly entrenched if there remains a choice, that is.
BRAVO!!!! And add ‘as is always the case for the issuer of the currency.’
Faced with, at best, haphazard access to international capital markets and high borrowing costs, periphery countries in Europe face more limited alternatives.
Add ‘as is the case for ‘users’ of a currency in general, including the US states, for example’.
Nevertheless, given current debt levels, enhanced stimulus should only be taken selectively and with due caution. A higher borrowing trajectory is warranted, given weak demand
and low interest rates,
Add ‘which are confirmation by the CB policy makers who set the rates low that they too believe demand is weak’.
where governments can identify high-return infrastructure projects. Borrowing to finance productive infrastructure raises long-run potential growth, ultimately pulling debt ratios lower. We have argued this consistently since the outset of the crisis.
BRAVO! And add ‘additionally, weak demand can be addressed by tax reductions, recognizing that counter cyclical fiscal policy of currency users, like the euro zone members, requires funding support from the issuer of the currency, which in this case is the ECB.’
Ultra-Keynesians would go further and abandon any pretense of concern about longer-term debt reduction.
Add ‘without a credible long term inflation concern, as for the issuer of the currency inflation is the only risk from excess demand.’
This position has been in the rhetorical ascendancy in recent months, with new signs of weaker growth. It throws caution to the wind on debt
Add ‘with regards to solvency, as is necessarily the case for the issuer of the currency.’
and, to quote Star Trek, pushes governments to go where no man has gone before
Add ‘apart from war time, when the importance of maximum output and employment takes center stage.’
The basic rationale
Add ‘of the mainstream deficit doves (not the ultra Keynesian MMT school of thought)’
is that low interest rates make borrowing a free lunch.
Add ‘the mainstream believes’
ultra-Keynesians are too dismissive of the risk of a rise in real interest rates. No one fully understands why rates have fallen so far so fast,
Add ‘apart from the Central Bankers who voted to lower them this far and this fast, and in some cases provide guarantees to other borrowers.’
and therefore no one can be sure for how long their current low level will be sustained.
Add ‘as it’s a matter of second guessing those central bankers.’
John Maynard Keynes himself wrote How to Pay for the War in 1940 precisely because he was not blas about large deficits even in support of a cause as noble as a war of survival. Debt is a slow-moving variable that cannot and in general should not be brought down too quickly. But interest rates can change rapidly.
Add ‘all it takes is a vote by central bankers.’
True, research has identified factors that might combine to explain the sharp decline in rates.
Add ‘in fact, all you have to do is research the votes at the central bank meetings.’
Add ‘by central bankers’
over potentially devastating future events such as fresh financial meltdowns may be depressing rates. Similarly, the negative correlation between returns on stocks and long-term bonds, while admittedly quite unstable, also makes bonds a better hedge. Emerging Asias central banks have been great customers for advanced economy debt, and now perhaps the Japanese will be once more. But can these same factors be relied on to keep yields low indefinitely?
Add ‘In the end, it’s all a matter of the central bank’s reaction function.’
Economists simply have little idea how long it will be until rates begin to rise. If one accepts that maybe, just maybe, a significant rise in interest rates in the next decade
Add ‘due to inflation concerns’
might be a possibility, then plans for an unlimited open-ended surge in debt should give one pause.
Add ‘if he does not see the merits of leaving risk free rates near 0 in any case, as there is no convincing central bank research that shows rate hikes reduce inflation rates, and even credible theory and evidence to be concerned that rate hikes instead exacerbate inflation.’
What, then, can be done? We must remember that the choice is not simply between tight-fisted austerity and freewheeling spending. Governments have used a wide range of options over the ages. It is time to return to the toolkit.
First and foremost,
Add ‘who fail to recognize that these are merely matters of accounting that don’t themselves alter output and employment’
must be prepared to write down debts rather than continuing to absorb them. This principle applies to the senior debt of insolvent financial institutions, to peripheral eurozone debt and to mortgage debt in the US.
For Europe, in particular, any reasonable endgame will require a large transfer
Add ‘of public goods production’
from Germany to the periphery.
Add ‘which in fact would be a real economic benefit for Germany.’
The sooner this implicit transfer becomes explicit, the sooner Europe will be able to find its way towards a stable growth path.
There are other tools. So-called financial repression, a non-transparent form of tax (primarily on savers), may be coming to an institution near you. In its simplest form, governments cram debt into domestic pension funds, insurance companies and banks
By removing governmental support of higher rates from their net issuance of debt instruments, particularly treasury securities.
Europe is there already and it has been there before, several times. How to Pay for the War was, in part, about creating captive audiences for government debt. Read the real Keynes, not rote Keynes, to understand our future.
One of us attracted considerable fire for suggesting moderately elevated inflation (say, 4-6 per cent for a few years) at the outset of the crisis. However, a once-in-75-year crisis is precisely the time when central banks should expend some credibility to take the edge off public and private debts, and to accelerate the process bringing down the real price of housing and real estate.
It is therefore imperative for the central bankers to make it clear to the politicians that there is no solvency risk, and that central bankers, and not markets, are necessarily in control of the entire term structure of risk free rates, and that their research shows that rate hikes are not the appropriate way to bring down inflation, should the question arise’
Structural reform always has to be part of the mix. In the US, for example, the bipartisan blueprint of the Simpson-Bowles commission had some very promising ideas for simplifying the tax codes.
There is a scholarly debate about the risks of high debt. We remain confident in the prevailing view in this field that high debt is associated with lower growth
Add ‘but must add that the risk is that of misguided policy response, and not the level of debt per se.’
Certainly, lets not fall into the trap of concluding that todays high debts are a non-issue.
Add ‘as we must be ever mindful of the possibility of excess demand using up our productive capacity’
Keynes was not dismissive of debt. Why should we be?
The writers are professors at Harvard University. They have written further on carmenreinhart.com
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 1st May 2013
Not that Krugman is right, but that ‘de Niall is wrong here. Comments in below:
By Morgan Korn
April 30 (Daily Ticker) — Niall Ferguson has two words for Paul Krugman: youre wrong.
The Harvard University history professor and author of Civilization: The West and the Rest says Krugmans pro-government spending thesis not only fails to address the core problems facing the U.S. and Europe today but also has dire consequences for individuals living in these economies.
You cant borrow trillions of dollars a year for the rest of time, Ferguson says in an interview with The Daily Ticker at the Milken Institute Global Conference 2013.
Operationally there is no numerical limit to US govt deficit spending. Nominal restrictions are political only. Yes, the currency might go down, there might be inflation, you might lose your job, but US Treasury checks won’t bounce unless congress decides to bounce them.
Once a government gets to a very very high level of debt, the risk is very small increases in borrowing costs which create a vast ocean of red ink. So that risk is not negligible.
So what happens as that ‘debt’ grows larger? Nothing if it isn’t spent. And if it’s spent, the risk is the risk of too much spending in the economy. Overspending would mean unemployment got ‘too low’ and the ‘excess spending’ was simply driving up prices. Comes back to the only risk of ‘too much’ deficit being inflation. So what’s his long term inflation forecast? He probably doesn’t even have one!!!
Very large debts do not simply disappear by magic.”
Correct, they remain as balances in either securities accounts (aka Treasury securities) at the Fed, or in reserve accounts at the Fed, or as actual cash, to the penny. And they constitute the $US net financial assets of the global economy that supports the global $US credit structure. To the penny.
Ferguson argues that Carmen Reinharts and Ken Rogoffs conclusions about the relationship between high debt and low growth are still true. The two Harvard economists had to defend their seminal book This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly after three University of Massachusetts academics correctly identified a spreadsheet coding error that led us to miscalculate the growth rates of highly indebted countries since World War II, according to Reinhart and Rogoff. (Lawmakers across the world cited their work as justification to institute austerity policies; they argued that economic growth slowed after a country’s public debt equaled 90 percent of its GDP).
The headlines have done a disservice to Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart, Ferguson notes. Its extremely implausible that governments with already high debt can improve their situation by making their debt even larger. High debt scenarios often end with inflation or default. They dont end with a rapid increase in the growth rate. A minor error in the Rogoff and Reinhart paper does not refute the case that governments with excessively large public debt have to bring them under control.”
Presenting data doesn’t ever show causation.
But regardless of the level of cumulative deficit spending for a currency issuing govt, with a proposed tax cut and/or spending increase every economist paid to be right will revise his GDP forecast up.
Moreover, Ferguson compares government accounting of public debt to one of the most famous and hated public companies that ever existed.
If companies behaved like governments, they would essentially be Enron, he says. There is a fundamental problem with government accounting.
There are likely govt accounting problems, but not solvency problems for the issuer of the currency.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 29th April 2013
Seems like this ‘quasi’ govt type of thing is often later shown to be behind ‘difficult to explain’ ‘liquidity driven’ equity moves.
By Richard Milne in Oslo
April 29 (FT) — Norway’s oil fund has reduced its bond holdings to their lowest ever level as the worlds largest sovereign wealth fund signals its discomfort with the effects of western central banks money printing.
The fund held just 36.7 per cent of its $726bn assets in bonds at the end of the first quarter, the lowest proportion since it first received money in 1996. Its equity holdings were close to a record high, accounting for 62.4 per cent of the total.
Yngve Slyngstad, the funds chief executive, told the Financial Times there had been a significant change in rhetoric away from its previous comments that it was comfortable with a high level of equity holdings.
Now it is that we are not so comfortable with the low returns in the bond portfolio. It is not enthusiasm for the equity market but a lack of enthusiasm for the bond market, he said.
The worlds biggest sovereign wealth fund by some distance, Norways oil fund has for some time been concerned about the low level of government bond yields and what that will mean for fixed income return.
But Norges Bank Investment Management, as it is also known, is reluctant to comment about money printing, known as quantitative easing, by the US Federal Reserve, Bank of England or Bank of Japan as the fund is part of the Norwegian central bank.
Still, Mr Slyngstad said unconventional actions were riskier than normal measures, signalling his unease. Unconventional in this context means untried. Things that are untried have a different risk profile than things that have been tried, he added.
The fund has been shifting both its bond and equity holdings away from dollar, yen, euro and sterling assets to those of emerging markets . But the fund is noticeably more positive on US Treasuries than other western government bonds with Mr Slyngstad saying they serve [a] double purpose of being a haven and highly liquid.
Mr Slyngstad said the fund could take several courses of action to reduce the risk of a sharp fall in bond prices, including buying real assets such as property and diversifying into new currencies. It has also reduced the average duration of its bond holdings from about six to five years.
His comments came as the fund delivered its biggest ever quarterly increase in its market value of NKr366bn. It posted a 5.4 per cent overall return with equities gaining 8.3 per cent and fixed income just 1.1 per cent. Apple, Santander and BHP Billiton were its worst-performing investments while BlackRock, Nestl and Novartis were the best. The oil fund also formally unveiled its plans to become a more active investor , as first revealed by the Financial Times. Mr Slyngstad has joined the nomination committee of Swedish truckmaker Volvo , the first time the fund has formally participated in the selection of board directors.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 22nd April 2013
Conclusion: The financial repressionists have it all backwards
So the idea is the govt is ‘pushing rates down’ through QE and the like, thereby keeping rates below the rate of inflation, and that without this active ‘financial repression’ rates would otherwise be higher and not ‘repressed’.
That is, the govt is interfering with the ‘free market’ by said pushing of rates down, and this ‘distortion’ adversely affects all kinds of things, as happens with any interference in said ‘free markets’.
Well, to begin with, interest rates are subject to market forces with fixed exchange rate regimes, like a gold standard, currency board arrangement, or other such ‘peg’ where the govt by law exchanges the currency to some ‘reserve’ thing at a fixed rate. So today this would, at best, apply to HK, for example.
However, it does not apply to floating fx regimes, where the currency has no conversion features at the govt of issue, like the $US, yen, pound, euro, etc. etc. etc. contrary to the claims of the repressionists.
Either way, the currency is a public monopoly, with taxation a coercive, non market ‘interference’.
And, of course, monopolists are ‘price setters’ rather than ‘price takers’.
With a gold standard, for example, the govt sets the price of gold and in theory allows all other price to express relative value as they continuously gravitate towards floating indifference levels.
This includes interest rates (the ‘own rate’ for the currency) which then fluctuate based on ‘storage costs’ of the object of conversion which includes govt default risk with regard to conversion. The same holds for other fixed exchange rate arrangements.
With floating exchange rate policy, without govt interference, the ‘risk free rate’ is permanently at 0%, as there is no conversion option, and therefore no conversion default risk.
In this case, the only way rates can be supported at higher levels is by ‘govt interference’. This includes paying interest on reserve balances at the Fed, issuing Treasury Securities, and open market operations where the Fed buys and sells Treasury securities directly or via repurchase agreements and other such arrangements. All of these function as ‘interest rate support’ to keep rates higher than otherwise.
So once again, and another ‘who would have thought’, it seems the mainstream has it entirely backwards. Yes, govt is ‘interfering’ in the interest rate markets, but rather than engaging in ‘repression’ via ‘pushing rates down’ it’s instead engaging in ‘rentier support’ by pushing rates up.
So if these ‘free market types’ want to make the case that govt isn’t sufficiently interfering to push rates up to adequately support holders of various financial assets, fine. Bring it on! But more likely the realization of what they’ve actually be purporting should be embarrassing enough to cause them to back off for at least 3 or 4 minutes, don’t you think?
(Feel free to distribute)
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 15th April 2013
Comments and ramblings:
“Strong multiplier effects from construction jobs to broader economy.”
I used to call this the ‘get a job, buy a car, get a job buy a house’ accelerator. And yes, it has happened in past business cycles and been a strong driver. But going back to the last Bush up leg, turns out it was supported to a reasonably large degree by the ‘subprime fraud’ dynamic of ‘make 30k/year, buy a 300k house’ with fraudulent appraisals and fraudulent income statements. And the Clinton up leg was supported by the funding of impossible .com business plans and y2k fear driven investment, and the Reagan years by the S&L up leg that resulted in 1T in bad loans, back when that was a lot of money. Japan, on the other hand, has carefully avoided, lets say, a credit boom based on something they would have regretted in hindsight, as was the case in the US.
The point is it takes a lot of deficit spending to overcome the demand leakages, and with the govt down to less than 6% of GDP this year, yes, ‘legit’ housing can add quite a bit, but can it add more than it did in Japan, for example? And, to the point of this report, will it be enough to move the Fed?
Also, looks to me like, at the macro level, credit is driven by/limited by income (real or imagined), and the proactive deficit reduction measures like the FICA hikes and the sequesters have directly removed income, as had QE and the rate cuts in general. So yes, debt is down as a % of income, but the level of income is being suppressed (call it income repression policy?) through pro active fiscal and the low number of people working and getting paid for it.
Domestic energy production adds another interesting dimension. It means dollar income is being earned by firms operating domestically that would have been earned by overseas agents. The question here is whether that adds to incomes that gets spent domestically. That is, did the dollars go to foreigners who spent it all on fighter jets, or did they just let them sit in financial assets vs the domestic oil company? Does it spend more of its dollar earnings domestically than the foreign agent did, or just build cash, etc? And either way its dollar friendly, which also means more non oil imports, particularly with portfolio managers ‘subsidizing’ exports from Japan with their currency shifting. That should be a ‘good thing’ for us, as it means taxes can be that much lower for a given size govt, but of course the politicians don’t have enough sense to do that. It all comes back to the question of whether the deficit is too small.
As for banking and lending, anecdotally , my direct experience with regulators is that they are ‘bad’ and vindictive people, much like many IRS agents I’ve come across, and right now they are engaging in what the Fed calls ‘regulatory over reach’, particularly at the small bank level, but also at the large bank level. This makes a bank supported credit boom highly problematic. And without bank support, the non bank sector is limited as well.
Lastly, there’s a difference between deficits coming down via automatic stabilizers and via proactive deficit reduction. The automatic stabilizers bring the deficit down when non govt credit growth is ‘already’ strong enough to bring it down, while proactive deficit reduction, aka ‘austerity’ does it ‘ahead of’ non govt credit growth, which means austerity can/does keep non govt credit growth from materializing (via income/savings reduction).
Conclusion- the Fed is correct in being concerned about our domestic dynamics. And they are right about being concerned about the rest of the global economy. Europe is still going backwards, as is China where they are cutting back on the growth of debt by local govts and state banks, all of which ‘counts’ as part of the deficit spending that drove prior levels of growth. And softer resource prices hit the resource exporters who growth is leveraged to the higher prices. I wrote a while back about what happens when the longer term commodity cycle peaks, supply tends to catch up and prices tend to fall back to marginal costs of production, etc.
And the Fed has to suspect, at least, the QE isn’t going to do anything for output and employment in Japan, any more than it’s actually done for the US.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 15th April 2013
So does the US have a strong dollar policy, a weak dollar policy, or an ‘unchanged’ dollar policy?
In any case, President Obama and Congress still fail to recognize that imports are real benefits and exports real costs. And that net imports mean taxes can be lower and/or spending higher to sustain full employment levels of demand.
So what would you rather have?
1. A strong dollar, rising net imports, and lower taxes, or
2. A weak dollar, falling net imports, and higher taxes?
How hard is this???
As for Japan, the BOJ hasn’t actually done anything to weaken the yen. Nor has fiscal policy, at least yet, though if the announced deficit hike goes through it could be a modestly weakening influence. The trade flows going into deficit from surplus have hurt the yen, as gas and oil replaced the nukes that were shut down, though they are in the process of relighting them. And portfolio shifting has probably weakened the yen the most, with life insurance companies, pensions, etc. reportedly adding risk to their portfolios by shifting from yen assets to dollar and euro assets. Yes, this is a ‘one time’ adjustment, but it can be sizable and take years, or it could have already run its course. I personally have no way of knowing, but no doubt ‘insiders’ are fully aware of how this will play out.
Furthermore, the US is going the other way with tax hikes and spending cuts a firming influence on the dollar, which is at least part of the yen/dollar weakness.
Too many cross currents for me to bet on one way or another. If you have to trade it go by the charts and don’t watch the news…
By Thomas Catan and Ian Talley
April 12 (WSJ) — The Obama administration used new and pointed language to warn Japan not to hold down the value of its currency to gain a competitive advantage in world markets, as the new government in Tokyo pursues aggressive policies aimed at recharging growth.
In its semiannual report on global exchange rates, the U.S. Treasury on Friday also criticized China for resuming “large-scale” market interventions to hold down the value of its currency, calling it a troubling development. The U.S. stopped short of naming China a currency manipulator, avoiding a designation that could disrupt relations between the world powers.
The Chinese Embassy didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. A Japanese government official reached early Saturday in Tokyo declined to comment directly on the Treasury report, but said, “We will continue to abide by” recent commitments by global financial policy makers to avoid intentional currency devaluation”as we have done until now.”
The Treasury report appears to be part of a broader strategy by the Obama administration in response to a sharp shift in economic policy in Japan under new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Hours before the currency warning, the White House said it had accepted Mr. Abe’s request to join negotiations to create an ambitious pan-Pacific free trade zone, despite objections from the American auto industry and other domestic sectors worried about new competition from Japan. The U.S. government is welcoming economic reforms in Japan while trying to discourage Tokyo from reverting to prior tactics of trade manipulation.
The Bank of Japan kicked off the latest drop in the yen by shocking markets last week by announcing plans for a massive increase in money supply, pledging a sharp increase in purchases of government bonds and other assets. The dollar has risen nearly 7% against the yen since then, and is up 15% since Mr. Abe came into power on Dec. 26.
Policy makers in Japan sensitive to currency complaints and warnings have repeatedly insisted in recent days that the yen’s sharp fall has merely been a byproduct of its stimulus policies, not a goal.
“We have no intention to conduct monetary policy targeting the exchange rate,” Haruhiko Kuroda, the new Bank of Japan governor whose policies have helped push down the yen, said in a Tokyo speech Friday. The BOJ’s policies, he added, were aimed at pulling Japan out of its long slump and that “achieving this goal will eventually provide the global economy with favorable effects.”
Amid sluggish global growth, governments face the temptation to lower the value of their currencies to juice exports. Those pressures are aggravated as central banks in the U.S., Europe and Japan seek to spur their economies by pushing cash into the systempolicies that have the effect of weakening their currencies. Seeking higher returns, investors are putting their money into emerging markets, putting upward pressure on those countries’ currencies and making their exports more expensive abroad.
The U.S. said it would “closely monitor” Japan’s economic policies to ensure they are aimed at boosting growth, not weakening the value of the currency. The yen is now hovering near a four-year low against the dollar, in response to Mr. Abe’s policies.
“We will continue to press Japanto refrain from competitive devaluation and targeting its exchange rate for competitive purposes,” the Treasury report said.
The yen quickly strengthened following the report, pulling the dollar to as low as 98.08, its lowest level this week, in a thin Friday afternoon market. The yen later gave back some of those gains, as investors came to see the comments less as criticism than as a statement of fact.
American officials have been walking a tightrope in recent months. While worried about a deliberate currency devaluation, they have also tried to encourage Japan’s attempts to jump-start growth, after years of frustration in Washington that Tokyo wasn’t doing enough to fix its economy.
“The wording does make it clear that the U.S. Treasury is watching extremely closely” to ensure that Japan lives up to promises not to purposely weaken its currency, said Alan Ruskin, a currency strategist at Deutsche Bank in New York. But, he added, “the report does not infer that Japan is breaking any agreement.”
The Treasury report, required by Congress and closely followed by markets, highlighted the need for more exchange-rate flexibility in many Asian countries, most notably China.
The Treasury used tougher-than-usual language on China, saying Beijing’s “recent resumption of intervention on a large scale is troubling.” While it noted that China had allowed the yuan to appreciate by about 10% against the dollar since June 2010or 16% including inflationthe report said the Chinese currency remained significantly undervalued and “further appreciation” was warranted.
The Treasury in recent years under both Republican and Democratic administrations has declined to formally label China as a currency manipulator, with officials suggesting publicly and privately that such a step would hurt efforts to encourage Beijing to let the yuan rise.
Still, the question of China’s currency has become shorthand in Washington for the broader debate over the economic relationship between the two countries. It was a frequent topic on the campaign trail for both President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney last year, as Mr. Romney pledged that if elected, he would label China a currency manipulator.
On Friday, some U.S. manufacturers criticized the Obama administration for its reluctance to call China a currency manipulator. “The Treasury Department’s latest refusal to label China a currency manipulator once again demonstrates President Obama’s deep-seated indifference to a major, ongoing threat to American manufacturing’s competitiveness, and to the U.S. economy’s return to genuine health,” said the U.S. Business and Industry Council, an industry lobby group.
The Treasury report also took South Korea to task for seeking to keep a lid on the won as foreign investors flood the economy with cash. “Korean authorities should limit foreign-exchange intervention to the exceptional circumstances of disorderly market conditions,” and capital controls should only be used to prevent financial instability, not reduce upward pressure on the exchange rate, Treasury said.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 10th April 2013
Wall of shame:
April 9 — Countries that let their debt loads get high risk losing control of their own fiscal sustainability, through an adverse feedback loop in which doubts by lenders lead to higher government bond rates, which in turn make debt problems more severe.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 1st April 2013
By Banjo Paterson
So Clancy rode to wheel them — he was racing on the wing
Where the best and boldest riders take their place,
And he raced his stock-horse past them, and he made the ranges ring
With the stockwhip, as he met them face to face.
Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the dreaded lash,
But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view,
And they charged beneath the stockwhip with a sharp and sudden dash,
And off into the mountain scrub they flew.
Unemployment is everywhere and always a monetary phenomenon, and necessarily a government imposed crime against humanity. The currency is a simple public monopoly.
The dollars to pay taxes, ultimately come from government spending or lending (or counterfeiting…)
Unemployment can only happen when a govt fails to spend enough to cover the tax liabilities it imposed, and any residual desire to save financial assets that are created by the tax and by other govt policy.
Said another way, for any given size government, unemployment is the evidence of over taxation.
Motivation not withstanding, David Stockman has long been aggressively promoting policy that creates and sustains unemployment.
By David Stockman
March 30 (NYT) — The Dow Jones and Standard & Poors 500 indexes reached record highs on Thursday, having completely erased the losses since the stock markets last peak, in 2007. But instead of cheering, we should be very afraid.
Over the last 13 years, the stock market has twice crashed and touched off a recession: American households lost $5 trillion in the 2000 dot-com bust and more than $7 trillion in the 2007 housing crash. Sooner or later within a few years, I predict this latest Wall Street bubble, inflated by an egregious flood of phony money from the Federal Reserve rather than real economic gains, will explode, too.
Phony money? What else are $US other than credit balances at the Fed or actual cash in circulation? Of course he fails to realize US treasury securities, also known as ‘securities accounts’ by Fed insiders, are likewise nothing more than dollar balances at the Fed, and that QE merely shifts dollar balances at the Fed from securities accounts to reserve accounts. It’s ‘money printing’ only under a narrow enough definition of ‘money’ to not include treasury securities as ‘money’. Additionally, of course, QE removes interest income from the economy, but that’s another story…
Since the S.&P. 500 first reached its current level, in March 2000, the mad money printers at the Federal Reserve have expanded their balance sheet sixfold (to $3.2 trillion from $500 billion).
And also debited/reduced/removed an equal amount of $US from Fed securities accounts. The net ‘dollar printing’ is 0.
Yet during that stretch, economic output has grown by an average of 1.7 percent a year (the slowest since the Civil War); real business investment has crawled forward at only 0.8 percent per year; and the payroll job count has crept up at a negligible 0.1 percent annually. Real median family income growth has dropped 8 percent, and the number of full-time middle class jobs, 6 percent. The real net worth of the bottom 90 percent has dropped by one-fourth. The number of food stamp and disability aid recipients has more than doubled, to 59 million, about one in five Americans.
Yes, and anyone who understood monetary operations knows exactly why QE did not add to sales/output/employment, as explained above.
So the Main Street economy is failing while Washington is piling a soaring debt burden on our descendants,
‘Paying off the debt’ is simply a matter of debiting securities accounts at the Fed and crediting reserve accounts at the Fed. There are no grandchildren or taxpayers involved, except maybe a few to program the computers and polish the floors and do the accounting, etc.
unable to rein in either the warfare state or the welfare state or raise the taxes needed to pay the nations bills.
The nations bills are paid via the Fed crediting member bank accounts on its books. Today’s excess capacity and unemployment means that for the size govt we have we are grossly over taxed, not under taxed.
By default, the Fed has resorted to a radical, uncharted spree of money printing.
As above, ‘money printing’ only under a narrow definition of ‘money’.
But the flood of liquidity, instead of spurring banks to lend and corporations to spend, has stayed trapped in the canyons of Wall Street, where it is inflating yet another unsustainable bubble.
With floating exchange rates, bank liquidity, for all practical purposes, is always unlimited. Banks are constrained by capital and asset regulation, not liquidity.
When it bursts, there will be no new round of bailouts like the ones the banks got in 2008.
There is nothing to ‘burst’ as for all practical purposes liquidity is never a constraint.
Instead, America will descend into an era of zero-sum austerity and virulent political conflict, extinguishing even todays feeble remnants of economic growth.
This dyspeptic prospect results from the fact that we are now state-wrecked. With only brief interruptions, weve had eight decades of increasingly frenetic fiscal and monetary policy activism intended to counter the cyclical bumps and grinds of the free market and its purported tendency to underproduce jobs and economic output. The toll has been heavy.
The currency itself is a simply public monopoly, and the restriction of supply by a monopolist as previously described, is, in this case the cause of unemployment and excess capacity in general.
As the federal government and its central-bank sidekick, the Fed, have groped for one goal after another smoothing out the business cycle, minimizing inflation and unemployment at the same time, rolling out a giant social insurance blanket, promoting homeownership, subsidizing medical care, propping up old industries (agriculture, automobiles) and fostering new ones (clean energy, biotechnology) and, above all, bailing out Wall Street they have now succumbed to overload, overreach and outside capture by powerful interests.
He may have something there!
The modern Keynesian state is broke,
Not applicable. Congress spends simply by having its agent, the tsy, instruct the Fed to credit a member bank’s reserve account.
paralyzed and mired in empty ritual incantations about stimulating demand, even as it fosters a mutant crony capitalism that periodically lavishes the top 1 percent with speculative windfalls.
Some truth there as well!
The culprits are bipartisan, though youd never guess that from the blather that passes for political discourse these days. The state-wreck originated in 1933, when Franklin D. Roosevelt opted for fiat money (currency not fundamentally backed by gold), economic nationalism and capitalist cartels in agriculture and industry.
Under the exigencies of World War II (which did far more to end the Depression than the New Deal did), the state got hugely bloated, but remarkably, the bloat was put into brief remission during a midcentury golden era of sound money and fiscal rectitude with Dwight D. Eisenhower in the White House and William McChesney Martin Jr. at the Fed.
Actually it was the Texas railroad commission pretty much fixing the price of oil at about $3 that did the trick, until the early 1970′s when domestic capacity fell short, and pricing power shifted to the saudis who had other ideas about ‘public purpose’ as they jacked the price up to $40 by 1980.
Then came Lyndon B. Johnsons guns and butter excesses, which were intensified over one perfidious weekend at Camp David, Md., in 1971, when Richard M. Nixon essentially defaulted on the nations debt obligations by finally ending the convertibility of gold to the dollar. That one act arguably a sin graver than Watergate meant the end of national financial discipline and the start of a four-decade spree during which we have lived high on the hog, running a cumulative $8 trillion current-account deficit. In effect, America underwent an internal leveraged buyout, raising our ratio of total debt (public and private) to economic output to about 3.6 from its historic level of about 1.6. Hence the $30 trillion in excess debt (more than half the total debt, $56 trillion) that hangs over the American economy today.
It also happens to equal the ‘savings’ of financial assets of the global economy, with the approximately $16 trillion of treasury securities- $US in ‘savings accounts’ at the Fed- constituting the net savings of $US financial assets of the global economy. And the current low levels of output and high unemployment tell us the ‘debt’ is far below our actual desire to save these financial assets. In other words, for the size government we have, we are grossly over taxed. The deficit needs to be larger, not smaller. We need to either increase spending and/or cut taxes, depending on one’s politics.
This explosion of borrowing was the stepchild of the floating-money contraption deposited in the Nixon White House by Milton Friedman, the supposed hero of free-market economics who in fact sowed the seed for a never-ending expansion of the money supply.
And the never ending expansion of $US global savings desires, including trillions of accumulations in pension funds, IRA’s, etc. Where there are tax advantages to save, as well as trillions in corporate reserves, foreign central bank reserves, etc. etc.
As everyone at the CBO knows, the US govt deficit = global $US net savings of financial assets, to the penny.
The Fed, which celebrates its centenary this year, fueled a roaring inflation in goods and commodities during the 1970s that was brought under control only by the iron resolve of Paul A. Volcker, its chairman from 1979 to 1987.
It was the Saudis hiking price, not the Fed. Note that similar ‘inflation’ hit every nation in the world, regardless of ‘monetary policy’. And it ended a few years after president Carter deregulated natural gas in 1978, which resulted in electric utilities switching out of oil to natural gas, and even OPEC’s cutting of 15 million barrels per day of production failing to stop the collapse of oil prices.
Under his successor, the lapsed hero Alan Greenspan, the Fed dropped Friedmans penurious rules for monetary expansion, keeping interest rates too low for too long and flooding Wall Street with freshly minted cash. What became known as the Greenspan put the implicit assumption that the Fed would step in if asset prices dropped, as they did after the 1987 stock-market crash was reinforced by the Feds unforgivable 1998 bailout of the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management.
The Fed didn’t bail out LTCM. They hosted a meeting of creditors who took over the positions at prices that generated 25% types of annual returns for themselves.
That Mr. Greenspans loose monetary policies didnt set off inflation was only because domestic prices for goods and labor were crushed by the huge flow of imports from the factories of Asia.
No, because oil prices didn’t go up due to the glut from the deregulation of natural gas .
By offshoring Americas tradable-goods sector, the Fed kept the Consumer Price Index contained, but also permitted the excess liquidity to foster a roaring inflation in financial assets. Mr. Greenspans pandering incited the greatest equity boom in history, with the stock market rising fivefold between the 1987 crash and the 2000 dot-com bust.
No, it wasn’t about Greenspan, it was about the private sector and banking necessarily being pro cyclical. And the severity of the bust was a consequence of the Clinton budget surpluses ‘draining’ net financial assets from the economy, thereby removing the equity that supports the macro credit structure.
Soon Americans stopped saving and consumed everything they earned and all they could borrow. The Asians, burned by their own 1997 financial crisis, were happy to oblige us. They China and Japan above all accumulated huge dollar reserves, transforming their central banks into a string of monetary roach motels where sovereign debt goes in but never comes out. Weve been living on borrowed time and spending Asians borrowed dimes.
Yes, the trade deficit is a benefit that allows us to consume more than we produce for as long as the rest of the world continues to desire to net export to us.
This dynamic reinforced the Reaganite shibboleth that deficits dont matter and the fact that nearly $5 trillion of the nations $12 trillion in publicly held debt is actually sequestered in the vaults of central banks. The destruction of fiscal rectitude under Ronald Reagan one reason I resigned as his budget chief in 1985
I wonder if he’ll ever discover how wrong he’s been, and for a very long time.
was the greatest of his many dramatic acts. It created a template for the Republicans utter abandonment of the balanced-budget policies of Calvin Coolidge and allowed George W. Bush to dive into the deep end, bankrupting the nation
Hadn’t heard about an US bankruptcy filing? Am I missing something?
through two misbegotten and unfinanced wars, a giant expansion of Medicare and a tax-cutting spree for the wealthy that turned K Street lobbyists into the de facto office of national tax policy. In effect, the G.O.P. embraced Keynesianism for the wealthy.
He’s almost convinced me deep down he’s a populist…
The explosion of the housing market, abetted by phony credit ratings, securitization shenanigans and willful malpractice by mortgage lenders, originators and brokers, has been well documented. Less known is the balance-sheet explosion among the top 10 Wall Street banks during the eight years ending in 2008. Though their tiny sliver of equity capital hardly grew, their dependence on unstable hot money soared as the regulatory harness the Glass-Steagall Act had wisely imposed during the Depression was totally dismantled.
Can’t argue with that!
Within weeks of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in September 2008, Washington, with Wall Streets gun to its head, propped up the remnants of this financial mess in a panic-stricken melee of bailouts and money-printing that is the single most shameful chapter in American financial history.
The shameful part was not making a fiscal adjustment when it all started falling apart. I was calling for a full ‘payroll tax holiday’ back then, for example.
There was never a remote threat of a Great Depression 2.0 or of a financial nuclear winter, contrary to the dire warnings of Ben S. Bernanke, the Fed chairman since 2006. The Great Fear manifested by the stock market plunge when the House voted down the TARP bailout before caving and passing it was purely another Wall Street concoction. Had President Bush and his Goldman Sachs adviser (a k a Treasury Secretary) Henry M. Paulson Jr. stood firm, the crisis would have burned out on its own and meted out to speculators the losses they so richly deserved. The Main Street banking system was never in serious jeopardy, ATMs were not going dark and the money market industry was not imploding.
While the actual policies implemented were far from my first choice, they did keep it from getting a lot worse. Yes, it would have ‘burned out’ as it always has, but via the automatic fiscal stabilizers working to get the deficit high enough to catch the fall. I would argue it would have gotten a lot worse by doing nothing. And, of course, a full payroll tax holiday early on would likely have sustained sales/output/employment as the near ‘normal’ levels of the year before. In other words, Wall Street didn’t have to spill over to Main Street. Wall Street Investors could have taken their lumps without causing main street unemployment to rise.
Instead, the White House, Congress and the Fed, under Mr. Bush and then President Obama, made a series of desperate, reckless maneuvers that were not only unnecessary but ruinous. The auto bailouts, for example, simply shifted jobs around particularly to the aging, electorally vital Rust Belt rather than saving them. The green energy component of Mr. Obamas stimulus was mainly a nearly $1 billion giveaway to crony capitalists, like the venture capitalist John Doerr and the self-proclaimed outer-space visionary Elon Musk, to make new toys for the affluent.
Some good points there. But misses the point that capitalism is about business competing for consumer dollars, with consumer choice deciding who wins and who loses. ‘Creative destruction’ is not about a collapse in aggregate demand that causes sales in general to collapse, with survival going to those with enough capital to survive, as happened in 2008 when even Toyota, who had the most desired cars, losing billions when 8 million people lost their jobs all at once and sales in general collapsed.
Less than 5 percent of the $800 billion Obama stimulus went to the truly needy for food stamps, earned-income tax credits and other forms of poverty relief. The preponderant share ended up in money dumps to state and local governments, pork-barrel infrastructure projects, business tax loopholes and indiscriminate middle-class tax cuts. The Democratic Keynesians, as intellectually bankrupt as their Republican counterparts (though less hypocritical), had no solution beyond handing out borrowed money to consumers, hoping they would buy a lawn mower, a flat-screen TV or, at least, dinner at Red Lobster.
Ok, apart from the ‘borrowed money’ part. Congressional spending is via the Fed crediting a member bank reserve account. They call it borrowing when they shift those funds from reserve accounts at the Fed to security accounts at the Fed. The word ‘borrowed’ is highly misleading, at best.
But even Mr. Obamas hopelessly glib policies could not match the audacity of the Fed, which dropped interest rates to zero and then digitally printed new money at the astounding rate of $600 million per hour.
And ‘unprinted’ securities accounts/treasury securities at exactly the same pace, to the penny.
Fast-money speculators have been purchasing giant piles of Treasury debt and mortgage-backed securities, almost entirely by using short-term overnight money borrowed at essentially zero cost, thanks to the Fed. Uncle Ben has lined their pockets.
Probably true, though quite a few ‘headline’ fund managers and speculators have apparently been going short…
If and when the Fed which now promises to get unemployment below 6.5 percent as long as inflation doesnt exceed 2.5 percent even hints at shrinking its balance sheet, it will elicit a tidal wave of sell orders, because even a modest drop in bond prices would destroy the arbitrageurs profits. Notwithstanding Mr. Bernankes assurances about eventually, gradually making a smooth exit, the Fed is domiciled in a monetary prison of its own making.
It’s about setting a policy rate. The notion of prison isn’t applicable.
While the Fed fiddles, Congress burns. Self-titled fiscal hawks like Paul D. Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, are terrified of telling the truth: that the 10-year deficit is actually $15 trillion to $20 trillion, far larger than the Congressional Budget Offices estimate of $7 trillion. Its latest forecast, which imagines 16.4 million new jobs in the next decade, compared with only 2.5 million in the last 10 years, is only one of the more extreme examples of Washingtons delusions.
And with no long term inflation problem forecast by anyone, the savings desires over that time period are at least that high.
Even a supposedly bold measure linking the cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security payments to a different kind of inflation index would save just $200 billion over a decade, amounting to hardly 1 percent of the problem.
Thank goodness, as the problem is the deficit is too low, as evidenced by unemployment.
Mr. Ryans latest budget shamelessly gives Social Security and Medicare a 10-year pass, notwithstanding that a fair portion of their nearly $19 trillion cost over that decade would go to the affluent elderly. At the same time, his proposal for draconian 30 percent cuts over a decade on the $7 trillion safety net Medicaid, food stamps and the earned-income tax credit is another front in the G.O.P.s war against the 99 percent.
Never seen him play the class warfare card like this?
Without any changes, over the next decade or so, the gross federal debt, now nearly $17 trillion, will hurtle toward $30 trillion and soar to 150 percent of gross domestic product from around 105 percent today.
Not that it will, but if it does and inflation remains low it just means savings desires are that high.
Since our constitutional stasis rules out any prospect of a grand bargain, the nations fiscal collapse will play out incrementally, like a Greek/Cypriot tragedy, in carefully choreographed crises over debt ceilings, continuing resolutions and temporary budgetary patches.
No description of what ‘fiscal collapse’ might look like. Because there is no such thing.
The future is bleak. The greatest construction boom in recorded history Chinas money dump on infrastructure over the last 15 years is slowing. Brazil, India, Russia, Turkey, South Africa and all the other growing middle-income nations cannot make up for the shortfall in demand.
The American machinery of monetary and fiscal stimulus has reached its limits.
Do not agree. In fact, there are no numerical limits.
Japan is sinking into old-age bankruptcy and Europe into welfare-state senescence. The new rulers enthroned in Beijing last year know that after two decades of wild lending, speculation and building, even they will face a day of reckoning, too.
The state-wreck ahead is a far cry from the Great Moderation proclaimed in 2004 by Mr. Bernanke, who predicted that prosperity would be everlasting because the Fed had tamed the business cycle and, as late as March 2007, testified that the impact of the subprime meltdown seems likely to be contained. Instead of moderation, whats at hand is a Great Deformation, arising from a rogue central bank that has abetted the Wall Street casino, crucified savers on a cross of zero interest rates and fueled a global commodity bubble that erodes Main Street living standards through rising food and energy prices a form of inflation that the Fed fecklessly disregards in calculating inflation.
It’s not at all disregarded. And the Fed has only done ‘pretend money printing’ since they ‘unprint’ treasury securities as they ‘print’ reserve balances.
These policies have brought America to an end-stage metastasis. The way out would be so radical it cant happen.
How about a full payroll tax holiday? Too radical to happen???
It would necessitate a sweeping divorce of the state and the market economy. It would require a renunciation of crony capitalism and its first cousin: Keynesian economics in all its forms. The state would need to get out of the business of imperial hubris, economic uplift and social insurance and shift its focus to managing and financing an effective, affordable, means-tested safety net.
These are the conclusions of his way out of paradigm conceptualizing.
All this would require drastic deflation of the realm of politics and the abolition of incumbency itself, because the machinery of the state and the machinery of re-election have become conterminous. Prying them apart would entail sweeping constitutional surgery: amendments to give the president and members of Congress a single six-year term, with no re-election; providing 100 percent public financing for candidates; strictly limiting the duration of campaigns (say, to eight weeks); and prohibiting, for life, lobbying by anyone who has been on a legislative or executive payroll. It would also require overturning Citizens United and mandating that Congress pass a balanced budget, or face an automatic sequester of spending.
It would also require purging the corrosive financialization that has turned the economy into a giant casino since the 1970s. This would mean putting the great Wall Street banks out in the cold to compete as at-risk free enterprises, without access to cheap Fed loans or deposit insurance. Banks would be able to take deposits and make commercial loans, but be banned from trading, underwriting and money management in all its forms.
I happen to fully agree with narrow banking, as per my proposals.
It would require, finally, benching the Feds central planners, and restoring the central banks original mission: to provide liquidity in times of crisis but never to buy government debt or try to micromanage the economy. Getting the Fed out of the financial markets is the only way to put free markets and genuine wealth creation back into capitalism.
Rhetoric that shows his total lack of understanding of monetary operations.
That, of course, will never happen because there are trillions of dollars of assets, from Shanghai skyscrapers to Fortune 1000 stocks to the latest housing market recovery, artificially propped up by the Feds interest-rate repression.
No govt policy necessarily supports rates. Without the issuance of treasury securities, paying interest on reserves, and other ‘interest rate support’ policy rates fall to 0%. He’s got the repression thing backwards.
The United States is broke fiscally, morally, intellectually and the Fed has incited a global currency war (Japan just signed up, the Brazilians and Chinese are angry, and the German-dominated euro zone is crumbling) that will soon overwhelm it. When the latest bubble pops, there will be nothing to stop the collapse.
How about a full payroll tax holiday???
If this sounds like advice to get out of the markets and hide out in cash, it is.
I tend to agree but for the opposite reason.
The deficit may have gotten too small with the latest tax hikes and spending cuts.
(feel free to distribute)
Posted in Banking, Bonds, CBs, China, Comodities, Currencies, Deficit, Employment, Exports, Fed, Government Spending, Greece, Inflation, Interest Rates, Oil, Political, Recession, trade | No Comments »
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 30th March 2013
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 21st March 2013
Debt to GDP over 200%
0 rates for decades
Alarmingly low term structure of rates
Recent yen weakness looking ‘fundamental’ as trade goes negative maybe until nukes are restarted and ‘replacement’ gas and oil imports go back to where they were.
Trade going negative after initial yen weakening due to ‘j curve’ effect where initially actual quantities of imports stay pretty much the same but prices are higher. Only some time later do quantities respond to the higher price.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 20th March 2013
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 26th February 2013
Link: Special course on the monopoly theory of public currency
No password or username required, just login as guest.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 20th February 2013
The usual excellent post!
Positive Currency Wars!
19 February 2013
Financial markets are today being buffeted about by a slew of highly complex and changing influences. As readers may recall, at end-January (Thaler’s Corner 31/01: Too Cloudy), we advised people to favor Risk Off positions (references 2725 Euro Stoxx and 141.85 Bund), but this morning we returned to a neutralization of asset allocation biases (references 2635 and 142.85).
Not only do European markets seem to have lagged too far behind their American and Japanese peers, but, above all, I consider the current jitters about currency wars to be completely off the wall!
That said, there are still dark clouds hovering over Europe, mainly the eurozone, which is why we have yet to join the clan of the optimists.
Let us examine the macroeconomic situation area-by-area.
The Fed is pursuing its easy money policies, the target QE, and I do not see them ending these policies any time soon. Despite the prevailing conventional wisdom, these policies are not boosting inflation at all, quite the contrary!
By continuously removing treasuries and MBS from the private sector via its QE asset-purchasing program and by replacing them with base money reserves, the Fed is in reality absorbing the interest that the private sector would have received on these bonds, as base money does not pay a coupon! The best illustration of the absorption carried out by the government is the amount of profits earned and transferred to the Treasury, a total of €335 billion since 2009!
This QE program functions like a tax, or more specifically, a savings tax somewhat like the French ISF or wealth tax (except that it is not at all progressive). It is nonetheless “progressive” in that it has helped the federal government, among others.
The 0% interest rate policy is certainly supposed to help reignite the American economy by making its easier for investment projects to achieve profitability, but at a time when the private sector feels overloaded with debt (deleveraging), its “inflationist” aspect is limited to the value of financial assets.
As long as US government budget policy remains frankly expansionist, with cumulative deficits totaling over $5 trillion since 2009, this deflationist aspect of the QE has little importance. However, not only have US budget deficits been trending downwards since 2009 (at a record high of $1.415 trillion), falling from 10.4% to 6.7% of GDP, but the latest budget measures raise concerns that the trend will accelerate.
In the first place, the hike in the payroll tax has had a direct impact on the American consumer. This 2% decrease in take-home income, for which employees were hardly prepared, led Wal-Mart Vice President Jerry Murray to declare February sales figures to be a “total disaster”:
“In case you haven’t seen a sales report these days, February MTD (month-to-date) sales are a total disaster. The worst start to a month I have seen in my seven years with the company. Where are all the customers? And where’s their money?”
Moreover, if sequester negotiations between Congress and the White House do not lead to a deal by the beginning of March, the ensuing decline in spending would represent about 1% of GDP and thus a new tightening of budget policy.
In contrast, the real estate market continues to give encouraging signs of a rebound. I will provide you the stats fresh February 22nd publication date.
The yen’s decline (currency wars) is a positive factor, which I will examine in the conclusion.
The eurozone is the world’s weakest economic zone, with the economic outlook as desperate as ever. The zone is suffering from an unfortunate mix of pro-cyclical budgetary policies and monetary policy, which refuses to use all the means available to counter recessive austerity.
Aside from their crazy devotion to Ricardian theories, supporters of “expansionist austerity” do not seem to take into account that the rare examples of such policies being successful are with very open small economies who, boasting their own currency, devalue their money and cut interest rates while defaulting on or restructuring foreign debt!
As for the distressed eurozone countries, which mainly trade with their neighbors, they not only lack their own currency and thus the possibility of devaluation, but also, in addition, suffer from a euro that remains high compared to the currencies of its trading partners!
And that’s leaving aside monetary policy and how its non-transmission to peripheral countries is making their economies even worse.
In addition, there are the problems specific to the zone, as exemplified by the Cypriot turmoil, the Italian elections, the protest movements in Spain and Portugal and the painful establishment of a common banking solution, etc.
But a ray of hope may be on the horizon, with the restructuring plan of the Promissory Notes just established by Ireland. Without going into the highly technical details, you can believe me when I say that this is the closest thing to fiscal financing ever carried out by a central bank on the eurozone or even in a developed country!
Quite simply, the Irish state has issued very long-term bonds, at very low interest rates, directly into the capital of the restructured bank, which then refinances it with the Irish central bank. The state thus skirts appealing to markets; this is monetary financing, albeit indirectly so. In any case, it would have had a hard time raising capital on such good terms with the public.
And Mario Draghi’s apparent nod to this operation, limiting himself to stating the ECB board had unanimous taken note of the deal, augurs well! We will not be surprized to hear the screams of alarm from Mr Weidmann and the Bundesbank, but they seem to have definitely lost control.
In short, while the euro’s rise is a drag on European exporters in the short term, reflecting more far more restrictive monetary and budgetary policies than those of our trading partners, this is also a case of the tree hiding the forest, as I will explain in the case of the Land of the Rising Sun.
This is where things are really going to play out!
The latest comments by Japanese government officials suggest that the next BoJ President will not only be a lot more dovish than his predecessors but that he will also work much more closely with the government.
Such coordination is absolutely necessary in times of deflation when the country has been faced with 0 Lower Bound for so many years. Check out the excellent paper written by Paul McCulley and Zoltan Pozsar on this topic in MG.
If a country in the midst of severe deflation/recession, like Japan, whose trade balance has deteriorated so abruptly since 2011, does not have the right to use all the tools at its disposal to pull itself out of this quagmire, who does?
I would farther than the prevailing discourse, with its focus on Japanese-style quantitative easing, and say flat out that the country should electronically print money!
Screams of a Weimer situation aside, such an approach would technically change little, since it would amount to injecting the budget deficit into the economy in the form of Monetary Financing instead of JGBs (Bonds Financing), which are nearly identical to cash (floor rate and possibility of going through the repo market).
In contrast, one thing is for sure: the fears generated by such an announcement would be enough to send the yen back to 110 vis-à-vis the dollar, which is in no way catastrophic. Bear in mind that this parity averaged 118.40 between the two shocks of 1987 and 2008!
These jitters would also fuel inflationist expectations, which is precisely the goal of a country in which the latest statistics show the economy stuck in deflation.
But the main reason I say that such a monetary and budgetary turnabout by Japan would be good for the rest of the world is that one of its main goals is to reignite domestic consumption, a natural corollary of easier monetary conditions and higher inflationist expectations.
And that would also benefit its foreign trading partners!
We are not witnessing so much a race to competitive devaluation (currency wars) as a race to more accommodative monetary policies, under the impulsion of the Fed and the BoJ, not to mention the BoE and the SNB, among others.
And all this will end up influencing the ECB, which, if it does not change its policies, will end up with a euro climbing toward 140 against the yen and 1.45 against the dollar. Let’s not forget that in 2007-2008, the euro was trading at 170 against the yen and 1.60 against the dollar, mainly due to the ECB’s intransigence, with the results we all know.
As Mr Draghi has declared that he will take the euro’s level into consideration, not as a target, but as a variable in monetary policy, we can only hope that it will continue to appreciate and thus force our central banks to carry out its own Copernican revolution and enter into concertation with the world’s central banks managing modern currencies.
In conclusion, thanks to these monetary hopes stemming from the Japanese initiatives, I have decided to put between parentheses the still heavy clouds, cited above, and advise clients this morning to abandon the Risk Off bias to capture profits offered by the last market shifts and to, at minimum, put ourselves in a position of maximum reactivity.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 20th February 2013
The old J curve as previously discussed.
By James Mayger and Andy Sharp
Feb 20 (Bloomberg) — (Bloomberg) Japan’s trade deficit swelled to a record 1.63 trillion yen ($17.4 billion) on energy imports and a weaker yen, highlighting one cost of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policies that are driving down the currency.
Exports climbed 6.4 percent in January from a year earlier, the first rise in eight months, exceeding the median 5.6 percent estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 24 economists. Imports increased 7.3 percent, the Finance Ministry said in Tokyo today.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 18th February 2013
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 17th February 2013
They don’t even know if they want their currencies to be strong or weak. But they want them ‘free floating’, whatever that means.
Last I heard, for example, the US wanted a strong dollar, and at the same time wanted China to move their currency higher vs the dollar.
Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways!
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 15th February 2013
As previously discussed, gains in competitiveness cause the euro to go up to the point where they are obviated.
Euro-Area Exports Decline Most in Five Months on Euro Strength
Weidmann Says ECB Wont Cut Rates Just to Weaken the Euro
Draghi Says Exchange Rate is Important for Growth, Inflation