Enlightened Economics

Economics for an Enlightened Age

Posts Tagged ‘central banks’

•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 »

• Currency Battle Is Tethered to Obama Trade Agenda

Posted by Ron Robins on February 17, 2015

“If members of Congress are to be believed, unless the president’s trade negotiator includes strict, enforceable prohibitions on policies to intentionally hold down the value of currencies, any completed trade accord will die on Capitol Hill. But, administration officials say, demanding the inclusion of such prohibitions would kill the trade deals before they were completed… Some 230 members of the House have pledged in writing to oppose future trade deals without action on currency, more than enough to stop the president’s agenda.”
— Currency Battle Is Tethered to Obama Trade Agenda , by Jonathan Weisman, February 16, 2015, The New York Times, U.S.A.

Commentary: Ron Robins
Many astute observers in the financial world are deeply concerned about ‘currency wars.’ I share their concern. Furthermore, I have long argued that central bank activities such QE and interest rate manipulations — though seemingly a relatively easy antidote to immediate economic ills — eventually lead to the breakdown of the very economic system it seeks to preserve. And one of the main reasons for that will be their knock-on effects on currencies.

To gain economic advantage or even just to maintain one’s present standing, nations are being forced into QE of various types as well as manipulating lower their interest rates, thereby increasing monetary aggregates and forcing down their currency values. Competitive currency wars are ensuing and economic distress is spreading. In the end, most, if not all nations will be forced to agree to abandon QE and interest rate manipulations.

Nature itself, is cyclic. So it seems is economic thinking with regard to manipulating or not economic activities. At this time the cyclic pendulum’s return to either truly free enlightened trading between nations, or to one that’s highly restrictive, is in our future. I believe in and hope for the former!

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

• Should we print money to fund green investments?

Posted by Ron Robins on January 13, 2015

“GQE [Green Quantitative Easing] builds on the logic of QE, but fundamentally changes its objectives. In a GQE programme, new money is created – literally out of thin air – and used to buy bonds, but in this case they would be bonds issued by [UK] government-owned Green Investment Bank, local authorities, housing associations and other similar organisations, such as drainage boards.”
— Why we should print money to fund green investments, by Richard Murphy, January 12, 2015, Finance, Guardian Sustainable Business, U.K.

Commentary: Ron Robins
What a provocative idea! It sounds wonderful in theory. But would it work in practice? So far, the effects of QE in the U.K. and the U.S.A. have been to save the financial system from an immediate collapse (though probably putting it off for a while) while spurring modest growth–if you can believe the weird changes in their statistical methodologies and seasonal adjustments. Furthermore, it’s probably only because of the massive debt in the system that has stopped it from galloping into an inflationary frenzy.

No numbers are mentioned in this article but I believe adding this GQE to the already existent QE could create a real danger of galloping inflation. For starters, most of the services and products required for such a massive increase in green development would be strained and could very easily develop significant inflationary pressures, impacting many other sectors of the economy.

Also, if GQE were to happen there would be many other groups (the National Health Service for one) demanding the same QE programme. So where would it stop? I can understand the feelings behind this move. We would all like to see a greener and sustainable world. But I believe the risks of the process getting out-of-control are too great. It could lead to another Weimar (German hyperinflation of the 1920s) experience. The German leaders of that period also believed they could control the inflationary process!

Additionally, also not considered in this article are the knock-on effects on exchange rates and interest rates. Effects, many known and unknown would rampage through the economy. In short, it’s a fascinating idea worthy of discussion. But, I for one, believe the risks are too great to adopt such a scheme on a large-scale.

Posted in Economics, Ethical Investing, Finance & Investing, Monetary Policy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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