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Showing posts with label GDP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label GDP. Show all posts

Monday, July 8, 2013

Is “Austerity” Responsible for the Crisis in Europe?

by Martin Masse

Most European economies have been in recession, or close to it, since the beginning of 2012. Unemployment rates are reaching record highs. Meanwhile, a debate has been raging about the deleterious effects of “austerity” measures. Various heads of government, finance ministers, and European Union officials have declared that austerity has gone too far and is preventing a recovery.
Keynesian economists like Paul Krugman are seeing this as unassailable proof that stimulus policies adopted when the financial crisis started in 2008-09 should never have been reversed and replaced by austerity measures, notwithstanding the explosion of public debt that they entailed.
In the Keynesian view, when idle resources are left unused by the private sector, governments should put them to work. They should stop worrying about budget deficits and start spending again.
Whereas Keynesians and the rest of the economics profession see downturns as unexpected and disastrous events to be prevented, Austrian School economists explain them as the inevitable result of an earlier unsustainable boom provoked by excessive credit expansion and interventionist government policies.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Eric Sprott: "Have We Lost Control Yet?"

by Eric Sprott

Recent comments by the Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have shocked the world financial markets. It all started on May 22nd, 2013, at a Testimony to the US Congress Joint Economic Committee, where he first hinted at tapering the Fed’s quantitative easing (QE) program. Then, on Wednesday, June 19th, during the press conference following the FOMC meeting, the Chairman outlined the Fed’s exit strategy from QE.
Since the first allusion to tapering, volatility has been on the rise across the board (stocks, currencies and bonds) (Figure 1A). Moreover, the yield starved, hot money that had flown to emerging markets has been rushing for the exits, triggering significant declines in emerging market (EM) equity and bond markets (Figure 1B). Finally, the prospect of the end of monetary accommodation has triggered rapid and significant decreases (increases) in the price (yield) of longer dated Treasury bonds (also Figure 1B).


Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Biggest Bubble in Human History?


Dow up 125 points yesterday, to a new all-time record.

Why? What's behind it? The economy is not so hot. Why the red-hot stock market?

China is back in the news. A new report from CBS's "60 Minutes" documents the extent of the ghost cities in China – miles and miles of empty highway, office towers, apartments and malls. Analysts are talking about the biggest real estate bubble in history!

Is China a bubble? We don't know.

Does it matter? Well... yes... maybe. If China melts down or blows up the demand for oil and other resources goes down. The Chinese have pumped vast sums of money into development projects. That money helped to keep people on the job... and also kept the ships full of stuff, going back and forth across the world's oceans.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The paradox of choice

By Alasdair Macleod

Here is a puzzle for Keynesian and other neo-classical economists.
When a consumer buys something, he must choose; and if he increases his purchase of one product, he must reduce his purchases of other products by the same amount. In other words he cannot buy both. This must be true for whole communities as well. How then can you have economic growth?
It is of course impossible without monetary inflation. This is because any statistical average, in this context GDP, can only grow if people are not forced to choose between alternatives, a condition that can only occur if they are given extra money. Not even a draw-down on savings to spend on consumption creates extra spending, because it is merely reallocates spending on capital goods to consumption goods. This simple point has been ignored by all neo-classical economists. The result is that in their pursuit of so-called economic growth, they have committed themselves to monetary inflation. Their concept of growth is to make that extra money available to consumers, so that they are not limited to what they earn and forced to choose. It has also become the basis for economic modelling, which takes known demand for products and services and from it extrapolates growth for an average of all of them.

The Central Bank Revolution I (Well ‘Nominally’ So)


“The Checklist Manifesto – How to get things right”, is a masterful book for its narrative and practical application. Written by Atul Gawande, an acclaimed surgeon based in the US, he takes us on a journey of how the simple checklist helps individuals deal with immensely complex situations, where risks can be calculated and often lives protected – skyscraper construction, medicine and investment banking.

First introduced into the US Air Force to assist pilots, the humble checklist in all its simplicity has helped generations of pilots navigate the complexity of flying modern aeroplanes. Gawande himself has introduced the concept into operating theatres and hospitals around the world with astounding success.

Friday, February 8, 2013

James Rickards: Global Monetary System Headed for Collapse

The world currency system is riding down the road to catastrophe, says James Rickards, senior managing director of Tangent Capital Partners.

The world already has entered a currency war that began in 2010 on the heels of the Federal Reserve’s massive easing program, he tells Wall Street Journal Digital Network. Since then, plenty of nations have joined in, including Brazil, Switzerland and Japan, says Rickards, author of “Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crises.”

“All major central banks are easing,” he says. “Eventually so much money will be printed that this will lead to inflation. The endgame is collapse of the international monetary system — sometime sooner than later.”

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Some Additional Reflections on the Economic Crisis and the Theory of the Cycle

by Jesus Huerta de Soto

The four years that have passed since the world financial crisis and subsequent economic recession hit have provided Austrian economists with a golden opportunity to popularize their theory of the economic cycle and their dynamic analysis of social conditions. In my own case, I could never have imagined at the beginning of 1998, when the first edition of my book Money, Bank Credit, and Economic Cycles appeared, that 12 years later, due undoubtedly to a financial crisis and economic recession unparalleled in the world since the Great Depression of 1929, a crisis and recession which no other economic paradigm managed to predict and adequately explain, my book would be translated into 14 languages and published (so far) in nine countries and several editions (two in the United States and four in Spain). Moreover, in recent years I have been invited to and have participated in many meetings, seminars, and lectures devoted to presenting my book and discussing its content and main assertions. On these occasions, some matters have come up repeatedly, and though most are duly covered in my book, perhaps a brief review of them is called for at this time. Among these matters, we will touch on the following:

Friday, January 11, 2013

Our Whole Economy Is a Ponzi Scheme !

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), one of the world’s most prestigious consulting firms, is making waves by stating something that only a few marginal analysts, generally from the Austrian school, are saying : all developed economies have become giant Ponzi schemes (read the essay). The fraud consists in paying interests to the investors with funds provided by newcomers, which can only lead to bankruptcy, as shown by the Madoff affair, last example to date.

In the same way, developed countries have borrowed tomorrow’s riches to finance today’s consumption. According to the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the total debt of governments, households and companies in the OCDE countries has grown from 160% of GDP in 1980 to 321% in 2010. And most of this debt has been used for financing consumption (bureaucrats’ salaries, household spending) rather than for infrastructure or investment. Most countries being in deficit, a part of their debt goes to... servicing older debt, which is the definition of a Ponzi scheme. On top of that, those countries are guaranteeing « entitlements » (retirement, health care) that are far from being funded.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

It’s a mad mad mad mad world

By Detlev Schlichter 

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s new prime minister, has some exciting new ideas about how to make Japan’s economy grow. How about the government borrows a lot of money and spends it on building bridges and roads all over the country?
If that doesn’t sound so new, it is because it isn’t. It is what Japan has been doing for 20 years, and it is the main reason why Japan is now the most heavily indebted nation on the planet – and still not growing a lot. Its debt-to-GDP ratio stands at an eye-watering, world-record 230 percent, which already guarantees that the country’s pensioners-to-be (and Japan has a lot of those) will never be repaid with anything of true value for the government bonds they kept patiently accumulating in their pension funds, and that they optimistically keep calling ‘assets’.
But never mind. The Keynesians agree that this policy was a roaring success, and that this is why the country needs more of it, as, strangely, Japan has still not regained self-sufficient growth after 2 decades of such a policy. Hmmm. Well, in any case, surely the next set of roads and bridges are going to make all the difference. I suggest that this should be called the ‘Krugman-doctrine’, after the outstanding Keynesian thinker, Paul Krugman: even if a few trillion of new government debt and a few trillion of newly-printed paper-money have not revitalized your economy, the next trillion in government deficit-spending and the next trillion in new central-bank money will finally get the economy going. “Just keep the foot on the gas pedal until the economy grows, damn it!”

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Trends to Watch in 2013

Rather than attempt to predict the unpredictable – that is, specific events and price levels – let’s look instead for key dynamics that will play out over the next two to three years. Though the specific timelines of crises are inherently unpredictable, it is still useful to understand the eventual consequences of influential trends.
In other words: policies that appear to have been successful for the past four years may continue to appear successful for a year or two longer. But that very success comes at a steep, and as yet unpaid, price in suppressed systemic risk, cost, and consequence.

Trend #1: Central Planning intervention in stock and bond markets will continue, despite diminishing returns on Central State/Bank intervention

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Japan in 2013

The Japanese government for the last twenty three years has employed the Keynesian tools of deficit spending and more recently the monetarist policies of expanding money supply in an attempt to stop the economy from sliding into recession and to develop some growth. On paper, it has only achieved the former objective; in reality it has emasculated the productive capability of her domestic economy.

Before the speculative bubble of the late-1980s the Japanese economy was driven by savings. Her strong savings flow gave Japanese industry access to a stable low-cost source of real capital with which it was able to produce high-quality goods for export at competitive prices. While there was, in the free market sense, much wrong with Japan this characteristic more than compensated for her economic sins. However, the bubble came along, fuelled by the institutional greed of the Zaibatsu which through their banks sanctioned a spectacular expansion of credit, and as bubbles go this one went pop spectacularly. Since then the government has done everything it can to stop banks folding and industrial malinvestments from being liquidated.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Myth of the Failure of Capitalism

[This essay was originally published as "Die Legende von Versagen des Kapitalismus" in Der Internationale Kapitalismus und die Krise, Festschrift für Julius Wolf (1932)]

The nearly universal opinion expressed these days is that the economic crisis of recent years marks the end of capitalism. Capitalism allegedly has failed, has proven itself incapable of solving economic problems, and so mankind has no alternative, if it is to survive, then to make the transition to a planned economy, to socialism.
This is hardly a new idea. The socialists have always maintained that economic crises are the inevitable result of the capitalistic method of production and that there is no other means of eliminating economic crises than the transition to socialism. If these assertions are expressed more forcefully these days and evoke greater public response, it is not because the present crisis is greater or longer than its predecessors, but rather primarily because today public opinion is much more strongly influenced by socialist views than it was in previous decades.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Promises Will be Broken

By Bill Bonner

When wealth was easy to identify and easy to control — that is, when it was mostly land — a few insiders could do a fairly good job of keeping it for themselves. The feudal hierarchy gave everybody a place in the system, with the insiders at the top of the heap.
But come the industrial revolution and suddenly wealth was accumulating outside the feudal structure. Populations were growing too…and growing restless. The old regime tried to tax this new money, but the new ‘bourgeoisie’ resisted.
“No taxation without representation,” was a popular slogan of the time. The outsiders wanted in. And there were advantages to opening the doors.
Rather than a small clique of insiders, the governments of the modern world count on the energy of the entire population. This was the real breakthrough of the French Revolution and its successors. They harnessed the energy of millions of citizens, who were ready to be taxed and to die, if necessary, for the mother country. This was Napoleon’s secret weapon — big battalions, formed of citizen soldiers. These enthusiastic warriors gave him an edge in battle. But they also ushered him to his very own Waterloo.
Napoleon Bonaparte himself was an outsider. He was not French, but Corsican. He didn’t even speak French when he arrived in Toulon as a boy.