Enlightened Economics

Economics for an Enlightened Age

•Ben Bernanke and Milton Friedman Were Right: Helicopter Money or Qualitative Easing?

Posted by Ron Robins on June 21, 2016

“Central banks are forced into more attempts to push money into their real economies to stimulate aggregate demand.  While conventional QE efforts create asset bubbles and over-valued currency, Qualitative Easing could be directed to future needs: revitalizing infrastructure, education and growing greener, more efficient renewable energy deployment.”
Ben Bernanke and Milton Friedman Were Right: Helicopter Money or Qualitative Easing? June 8, 2016, Ethical Markets, USA.

Commentary: Ron Robins
The funds required to deal with climate change are immense! The idea to use Quantitative Easing (QE) as an ‘easy’ source of funds for that purpose (re ‘Qualitative’ Easing) is highly attractive. However, I believe that government incentives and actions such as carbon taxes, depletion costing of resources, regulations favouring environmental business activities, and massive investment in environmentally supportive infrastructure and other projects at these ultra low rates (while available), are better ways to go.

The facts are that QE of any nature is highly market distorting both in the short and the long-term and does not fit with my belief that ‘nature’ (i.e. the ‘invisible hand’ of Adam Smith) ultimately knows best with regard to optimal market and economic efficiency and effectiveness.

It’ll probably be many years before we know the real outcomes of today’s central bank behaviors. What many market observers are saying now is that at the beginning of the financial crises, such actions were necessary. However, now, some eight years after the crises, central bank policies are continuing or even enlarging the scope of such measures. And almost everyone is beginning to question their efficacy in improving economic conditions. My guess is that we’ll soon see these policies backfiring and possible market chaos ensue.

Though I have much sympathy with the concept of Qualitative Easing, fiddling with the ‘invisible hand’ of markets — or the way nature functions — is not the way forward. It is not enlightened economics.

Posted in Economics, Environment, Monetary Policy | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

• 2015 Sustainable Competitiveness Index

Posted by Ron Robins on December 10, 2015

“The Global Sustainable Competitiveness Ranking 2015 is topped by Iceland for a second year running, followed by the Scandinavian nations.

The Sustainable Competitiveness Index is based on a competitiveness model that tries to evaluate exactly this – the ability to sustain wealth creation by incorporating all relevant pillars of sustained growth and wealth creation: natural capital availability, resource efficiency, social cohesion, innovation and business capabilities, and government-led development direction. The Sustainable Competitiveness Index also integrates data trends over time to allow for a better expression of future development potential.

The results aim at serving as an alternative to the GDP, for academic, policy or investment decisions, based on current and future development prospects and risks of nations.”
Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index 2015  (PDF), November 2015, SOLABILITY, Switzerland.

Commentary: Ron Robins
This is a terrific index concept. It needs to get more exposure to encourage governments, corporations and others further engaged in the sustainable competitiveness of their economies.

It’s interesting that the U.S.A. and the U.K. rank 41st and 48th respectively on this index while the Scandinavian countries dominate the top spots. The Scandinavian countries lead most alternative GDP indices as they are not only exceedingly high-income countries — but are top-tier performers on most other component measures as well.

The unique contribution that this index makes is the combination and weighting of its various components in endeavoring to predict the future direction of countries with respect to their total sustainability. Many countries might perform well on income measures but the sustainability and potential growth of those incomes with respect to the depletion and replenishment of their natural resources, social cohesion, etc., is wanting.

Also, countries like the U.K. and U.S.A. do relatively badly on this index because there’s a belief by its designers that governments should lead in all areas related to sustainability. Something that is politically difficult and unacceptable to many in the U.K. and America. Hence, China and Japan lead on this measure. Even Russia is ahead of the U.S.A. and U.K. on this measure — which probably raises some questions.

Nonetheless, this index is a valuable addition to alternate GDP indices.

Posted in Economic Measurement, Economics, Environment, GDP Alternatives, News, Commentary | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

• International Monetary Fund Blasts ‘Trickle-Down’ Economics

Posted by Ron Robins on June 25, 2015

“A new report from the International Monetary Fund suggests that the widely popular ‘trickle-down’ economics just increases the gap of income inequality, creating injustices in almost every country. The study written by five IMF economists said that if governments want to increase growth, they should focus on helping the poorest 20 percent of citizens… The report analyzed 159 developed and developing economies from 1980 to 2012, searching to see how income is distributed differently in each system. It found that when the income share of the top 20 percent increased by 1 percent, economic growth slows down 0.08 percent in the following five years. Meanwhile, a 1 percent increase for the bottom 20 percent leads to a 0.38 percent increase in the country’s GDP in the following years.”
International Monetary Fund Blasts ‘Trickle-Down’ Economics, by Grant Whittington, June 23, 2015, TriplePundit, USA.

Commentary: Ron Robins
The clear implication from this report is mostly for income redistribution. However, as I’ve previously argued, I believe that though some form of income redistribution could be effected to help close the immediate income gap, but by far the better way — though longer to effect — is for the lower-income groups to benefit financially from corporate stock ownership.

How can this be done? Well, on February 25  I wrote that, “I believe an enlightened approach would be for the wealthy — and for corporations themselves — in each country to entrust a certain percentage of their profits in the form of company stock to a ‘sovereign wealth fund.’ Over time, some of the dividends and stock gains could be cashed and used to directly increase the incomes of the poor. Higher taxes for the rich (which is becoming popular)… could be introduced now but would probably have to be quite onerous to significantly improve the income of the poor.

Furthermore, as it’s proving in France which imposed very high taxes on high incomes, the wealthy become very adept in finding ways to avoid the higher taxes — and many even moving themselves to other jurisdictions!”

The IMF and others have demonstrated in various studies that societies with growing and grossly uneven income and wealth distributions tend to eventually financially self-destruct. However, before they self-destruct, there’s broad recognition of this possibility. Recognition of this offers everyone the chance to expand their awareness and consciousness to develop greater insights into the solutions. And this is what has to happen to all nations facing this issue.

What the wealthy must realize for their own self-preservation — and for even greater financial gain — is that they should take a proactive, optimal approach to solving the income and wealth distribution quagmire such as the solutions proposed here. These, though not new, are the best way forward to an enlightened, sustainable, and affluent future.

Posted in Consciousness/Psychology, Economics, Labour Issues, News, Commentary | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

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