The cessation was glibly attributed to the Great Fire: but in every other city in England the Plague ceased at about the same time
November 21, 2013 § Leave a comment
While virtually all mainstream economists believe in a long-term Say’s Law (supply creates demand, so the ultimate constraint on long term growth comes from the supply side), the real constraint on long-term growth in a developed capitalist economy is always on the demand side. (Note that there’s nothing new in the Summers/Krugman recognition of secular stagnation; David Levy called it a “contained depression” in 1991; Wallace Peterson announced a “silent depression” in 1994; and I demonstrated in 1999 that the problem is chronically constrained demand. At a recent Levy Institute conference in Rio, Paul McCulley laid out what he called a fundamental economic principle: Microeconomics and Macroeconomics are inherently different disciplines. Macro is demand-side; micro is supply-side. For any practical time horizon, demand always drives supply.)
I know what I’m saying is heretical, even though it is fully backed by all the data. And this stagnation is not due to a liquidity trap, or to a negative “natural” rate of interest. It is in the nature of the productivity of capitalist investment in plant and equipment. To put it in simple terms, the problem is that investment is just too damned productive. read more
PHOTOGRAPH: Antonio Olmos
June 10, 2013 § Leave a comment
This design maintains the mutual elements of the UK banking system – our common cash machine system and payments infrastructure as well as the ‘free banking’ transaction system, it frees the lenders from a crippling cost obligation and it ensures that everybody can rely on ‘cash in the bank’ being there – regardless of the turmoil in the lending institutions.
The one casualty is interest on deposits. To have interest on deposits in a private system there has to be income from somewhere else to pay that interest. Therefore in this system it becomes a line item of government spending – likely via interest bearing accounts for individuals at National Savings. Paying interest on deposits in this way is then really just the same as paying coupons on Gilts. Gilts, of course, would cease to be issued under any rational government. read more
‘She reads at such a pace,’ she complained, ‘and when I asked her where she had learnt to read so quickly, she replied “On the screens at Cinemas.”’
May 15, 2013 § Leave a comment
This morning I saw a very nice quiz concocted by a financial markets guy. I don’t want to get him in trouble so will borrow heavily from him but without attribution. If you can get this right, then you know why Quantitative Easing One, Two, and Three is a big bunch of baloney.
Consider the following thought experiment. These are the scenarios; what is the expected result of each?
A. The Treasury decides that it will fund itself 30% more in Overnight Bills and reduce bond issuance across the curve.
B. The Fed announces it will increase QE by 30% (it will remit the net income of this activity back to the Treasury).
C. Congress announces a new tax on all passive income from USTreasuries, to holders both at home and abroad (ie Central Banks), for all new-issue USTreasuries. The tax will be equal to 30% of the return in excess of the fed funds rate.
D. Treas Secty Lew pre-announces that we will ‘selectively default’ and apply a haircut of 30% on all future Treasury coupon payments of new issues in excess of fed funds rate.
What will be the likely effects of each policy? Don’t peek!
OK here is what the markets guy (rightly) says:
Here’s what’s funny. Most intelligent market participants will say things like:
A. Stocks down a few percent on fear of US debt downgrade. Economy slightly weaker or unchanged.
B. Stocks up 5-10% and economy grows another 1% for 1-2 yrs; monetary stimulus.
C. Stocks down 5-10% on tax hike (like last year) that maybe corrects. Economy slows 1-2% for a year or so because it’s a tax hike (ie fiscal consolidation).
D. Stocks down 80% and we go into a great depression on steroids. All investment dollars flee the US. I can’t tell you what happens next because my Bloomberg account gets shut down. They might even declare an Internet Holiday.
Here’s what’s craziest: THESE ARE ALL THE SAME THING. The name and the processes are different, the OPTICS are different, but the net is the same. There’s the government and there’s everyone else. The government either pays more out – in interest payments or transfer payments or vendor payments, or it takes back more in taxes or default or interest ‘savings.’ Everything the government net gets in ‘revenue’ the rest of the world loses in income. Everything the government dissaves (deficits) the rest of the world saves. Equal and opposite. read more
COPY: Matt Bloom
Writing a novel about a man who leaves his wife and three children and goes to live alone on the other side of London to write a novel about a man who leaves his wife and three children
November 14, 2012 § Leave a comment
When the Fed buys assets, it purchases them by crediting banks with reserves. So the result of QE is that the Fed’s balance sheet grows rapidly—to, literally, trillions of dollars. At the same time, banks exchange the assets they are selling (the Treasuries and MBSs that the Fed is buying) for credits to their reserves held at the Fed. Normally, banks try to minimize reserve holdings—to what they need to cover payments clearing (banks clear accounts with one another using reserves) as well as Fed-imposed required reserve ratios. With QE, the banks have ended up with humongous quantities of excess reserves.
As we said, normally banks would not hold excess reserves voluntarily—reserves used to earn zero, so banks would try to lend them out in the fed funds market (to other banks). But in the ZIRP environment, they can’t get any return on lending reserves. Further, the Fed switched policy in the aftermath of the crisis so that it now pays a small, positive return on reserves. So the banks are holding the excess reserves and the Fed credits them with a bit of interest. They aren’t thrilled with that but there’s nothing they can do: the Fed offers them a price they cannot refuse on the Treasuries and MBSs it wants to buy, and they get stuck with the reserves.
A lot of people—including policy makers—exhort the banks to “lend out the reserves” on the notion that this would “get the economy going”. There are two problems with that. First, banks can lend reserves only to other banks—and all the other banks have exactly the same problem: too many reserves. A bank cannot lend reserves to your household or firm. You do not have an account at the Fed, so there is no operational maneuver that would allow you to borrow the reserves (when a bank lends reserves to another bank, the Fed debits the lending bank’s reserves and credits the borrowing bank’s reserves). Unless you are a bank, you cannot borrow them.
The second problem is that banks don’t need reserves in order to lend. What they need is good, willing, and credit-worthy borrowers. That is what is sadly lacking. Those who are credit-worthy are not willing; those who are willing are mostly not credit-worthy.
And we should be glad that banks are not currently lending to the uncredit-worthy. Here’s why: that’s what got us into this mess in the first place. read more