"If money isn't loosened up, this sucker could go down" - George W. Bush warned in September 2008

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Really good links - Global AD - Austrian theory - Germany - A sentence to ponder

Bill Gross - Global aggregate demand - "The global economy is suffering from a lack of aggregate demand. In simple English that means that consumers are not buying enough things and that companies are not hiring enough people because of it. Growth slows down, especially in developed as opposed to developing countries, and the steel mills of Allentown, USA and Sheffield, England close down.
        This shortfall of global demand is a nearly impossible concept to grasp amongst politicians and their citizenry. Don’t people always want to buy more things and isn’t demand theoretically insatiable? They do, and it is. Yet economic growth is a delicate dance between production and finance and when a nation’s or a family’s credit card gets maxed out, then demand/spending slows measurably. We are witnessing these commonsensical repercussions across the entire continent of Europe today and to a lesser extent in the United States.
        Developing nations and their consumers want to buy things too. And while their economies are growing fast, their overall size is not yet sufficient to pull along the economies of Europe, Japan and the U.S. Their financial systems are still maturing and reminiscent of a spindly-legged baby giraffe, having lots of upward potential, but still striving for balance after a series of missteps, the most recent of which was the trio of the 1997–98 Asian crisis, the 1998 Russian default and the 2001 Argentine default. And so their policies are oriented towards export to debt-laden developed nations instead of internal consumption, leaving a gaping hole in global aggregate demand. China is a locomotive to be sure, but it cannot pull the global economy uphill on the basis of mercantilistic exports alone. It needs to develop many more of its own shopping malls and that will take years, if not decades."

Steve Randy Waldman - Austrian hangover theory - "Austrian-ish “hangover theory” claims, plausibly, that if for some reason the economy has been geared to production that was feasible and highly valued in previous periods, but which now is no longer feasible or highly valued, there will be a slump in production. It wisely asks us to consider not only the prosperity we measure today, but the sustainability of that prosperity going forward. I am not “Austrian”, and have no interest in defending specific claims regarding the roundaboutness of activity or the role of central banks in causing bursts of quasiprosperity. But as Brad DeLong wisely reminds us, it is good to be somewhat catholic in our evaluation of macroeconomic schools, and to take what is useful from each. I consider myself Keynesian at least as much as I am Austrian, but I recognize good and not-so-good offshoots of both schools. (Austrian and Keynesian ideas are more complementary than most people acknowledge. The Austrians focus on unsustainable arrangements of real capital, while the Keynesians focus on unsustainable arrangements with respect to money, debt, savings, and income. I think both approaches are fruitful.)<..>
        At an individual level the correlation between past consumption and recent unemployment is obviously negative. The people who have sinned are not by and large the people being punished. Some people overconsumed relative to their income, and some people invested poorly. Those who overconsumed have mostly faced consequences for their misbehavior — they are either deeply in debt, or they have endured foreclosure or bankruptcy. But the people who invested absurdly, especially “savers” who lent money but permitted themselves ignorance and indifference to how their wealth would be mismanaged, have not suffered the costs of their recklessness. Instead, they have been almost entirely bailed out. It is lenders and investors more than any other group who determine the patterns of our macroeconomy. There are always people willing to overconsume or gamble on foolish enterprises. We do and must rely upon those with resources to steward to ensure those resources are used wisely. They did not, and their recklessness has brought us to catastrophe. But rather than condemn them for negligence and permit their claims to be appropriately devalued, we applaud them for “prudence” and let government action be bound by commitments to sustain their destructive and ridiculous claims. You don’t counter that sort of villainy with technocratic arguments about liquidity traps. You point out that the motherfuckers who are calling themselves prudent, who are blocking both writedowns and government action that might risk inflation, are hypocrites and thieves. You state clearly that their claims are illegitimate and will be written down one way or another, unless we can generate sufficient growth to ratify them ex post, which would require claimants to behave less like indignant creditors and more like constructive equityholders. It is not technocratic economists who will win the day and pull us out of our cul-de-sac, but angry Irishmen and Spaniards who challenge, on moral terms, the right of German bankers to impose vast deadweight costs on current activity because they lent greedily into what might easily have been recognized as a property and credit bubble."

Daniel Pfaendler - German view - "What we should not forget though is that a) just as the peripheral countries were profiting from very low real yields during the past decade amid the German economic malaise, Germany suffered from too high real yields amid the periphery's boom which rendered its economic weakness even worse and most importantly b) if Germany would not have done the corporate restructuring/budget consolidation/structural reforms, the German economy would be in a much worse shape at present."

Michael - A sentence to ponder - "Most people are libertarian with regards to their own lives and people they like, statist with regards to people they don't know, and positively fascist about people they dislike, stereotype, or don't understand."

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