Posts Tagged ‘Central Banks’

WHAT’s WRONG WITH THE ECONOMY?

January 15, 2016

The strategy. The tactics. Everything. Since 2008, the central banks have created money. Why? Key actors of the economy lost too much money in 2008 to keep on functioning. Some of these actors: banks and “shadow banks”.

How did the central banks create money? Mostly by buying government debts from the large private banks. The banks thus made money. Who caused the 2008 crisis? The banks. Thus the very strategy used is Orwellian, and promotes a vicious circle. Upon closer inspection, the situation deep down inside is more of the same and even worse.

The result has been a faltering of economic growth, a creeping destitution of the 99.9% in the West, and the blossoming of colossal inequalities and corruption, worldwide:

Inequality Has Brought Down World GDP Growth. And Bringing That World GDP Growth Too Low Brings War

Inequality Has Brought Down World GDP Growth. And Bringing That World GDP Growth Too Low Brings War

True, banks are more regulated than in 2008 (but much less than before the Clinton presidency brought devastation to the regulation of finance!) However, a large, maybe the largest, part of the banking system is “Shadow Banking”. That’s not regulated. By fostering fiscal heavens and anonymous financial entities, Great Britain and the USA are actually expanding the “Dark Pools” of money which feed “Shadow Banking”.

So what have the banks done with the money generously given to them by central banks? Did they invest it somewhere fabulous? No. There has been no new technological, industrial, economic, social breakthrough which needed, and provided with, the opportunity of massive investment.

(There were some efforts towards “sustainable energy”, but those subsidies and regulations are dwarfed by those in favor of fossil fuels, which total 5.5 trillion dollars, according to the IMF; the key is fossil fuels do not require much new investment, including in research, development and education as new energy sources would.)

No new nuclear program was instituted (say replacing all old reactors with better and safer ones), no thermonuclear powers plants (although a crash program would have probably produce those already), no massive space program (comparable to Apollo in the 1960s).

Even biomedical innovation, hence investment, has petered down (research has been smothered down by marketing, regulations, and cut-throat academia producing poor research).

But, mostly, there has been no new construction program in housing and physical infrastructure. Oh, there is a massive need: the dearth of housing is why real estate is getting out of reach of the middle class, in the top cities, worldwide. (Moreover one can now make positive energy buildings, which produce energy.)

And don’t forget public education has been let go to waste, in the leading countries (with few exceptions: Switzerland, Canada…) It is as if the leadership in the West was afraid that We The People would get knowledgeable and smart.

So where did the money the banks were given by the central banks go? To hedge funds and the like. To the industry of HOT MONEY. One day they buy this, the following week, they sell it, making money, both ways (thanks to financial derivatives). The money created by the banks (which are better regulated, as I said), at this point, once given to financial manipulators, escapes regulation (that’s the whole idea).

“Leaders” know about this. But they obviously intent to keep on getting money from shadow financiers. An example: Obama did not try to tax “carried interest” by hedge funds (although Donald Trump proposes to do so!)

The leading states (USA, UK, EU, China, Japan, etc.) believed that to provide money (“liquidity”) would relaunch the economy. Absent this, massive devaluations would help. Thus Japan devalued by 50%, undercutting South Korea and China severely.

Meanwhile the IMF has allowed these competitive devaluations, following the advice of economists such as Friedman, Krugman. However, this is tickling the tail of the worst devil. War. Economic war is the first step to all-out war, indeed. Competitive devaluations are a form of war.

And what’s the main mission of the IMF? Preventing economic war between the states. This is why the IMF has been created in 1945: “The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organization of 188 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.”

Thus the IMF is failing to do its main job. Notice that many American economists, from Friedman to Krugman, in their anti-European frenzy, have pleaded FOR the economic war of (European!) state against (European!) state, thanks to competitive devaluations.

Notice too that Abenomics, the devaluation of Japan, has not had much of a dent: Japan is still mired in stagnation, no doubt still afflicted by its main problem, the collapse of its population (a problem many developed countries have, especially in Europe; the USA and UK have escaped demographic collapse, mostly through massive immigration).

The world economic strategy reflects the mood of the times: the so-called “free market” is all the thinking and activity we need since Ronald Reagan. That’s in contradiction with policies followed by Colbert, Henri IV and Sully, or even emperors Diocletian and Darius. (Darius reigned over Persia 25 centuries ago.) They, like Julius Caesar, thought that the economy had to be governed by the state.

Will China try a massive devaluation, a la Abe in Japan?

Since 2008, the governments, mostly in the West, have been cowardly. The USA suffers from massive inequalities (and no, Mr. Obama, the situation is no as good as eight years ago), the European Union suffers from too much regulations (including at the level of services, where the European UNION has not been implemented), China is a dictatorship which became richer by exploiting workers relentlessly, etc.

Those competitive devaluations and lots of money sloshing around have been addictive: central banks engage in them, to give the states space, and the states, momentarily relieved, put off necessary reforms.

Inequalities suck up “liquidity” (so power and means) from average people, while putting huge amounts of money, and power, under the control of a few hands. And this money is invested in liquid investments, instead of serious things such as massive, affordable, state of the art housing and cities. Thus this money slosh around the world, like the waves of a tsunami, devastating all it touches (example: Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Iceland, etc.).

The reason the crisis goes on is the confusion between symptoms and disease. That the main actors in power have interest not to understand the nature of the crisis explains why understanding has not been fostered. Thus very few economists have seen it, let alone politicians. (From Obama down to Nancy Pelosi, Krugman, and countless “Republicans”, but also French Socialists, EC bureaucrats, USA universities professors, most actors of influence have interest to sound as intelligent as cows watching a train pass.)

How did the world come out of the slump of the 1920s to 1940s? Through reconstruction in the “30 glorious years” after 1945. Reconstruction from total war. Something to think of. One thing: many countries are on the verge of implosion. One culprit? The obvious world devaluation blatant in the collapse of the price of oil.

What is the way out of the world socio-economic crisis? The same way as it was done after 1945. Massive social, educative, health and construction programs in the West,  building a useful economy, by taxing those who create the inequalities, and grab all the economy, and opportunities to themselves.
Patrice Ayme’

Central Banking

October 9, 2013

What does a Central Bank do?

Plots with plutocrats. Plutoplots. Especially in the USA, where major plutocrats are Central Banks directors (and also private bank directors).

Seriously, Central Banks regulate the financial system and, thus, a large part of the broader economy. That means that the financial system is a public system masquerading as a private system (privateering system?)

Think of a financial system as an engine. The Central Bank (“Fed” in the USA, ECB in Europe) controls how much fuel there is, by manipulating its price. The Central Bank is also supposed to dictate the permissible uses of fuel. That latter mission has been completely forgotten under Clinton, the great demoncrat, that’s why plutocrats lov him.

Historically the Fed’s mandate was made very precise in 1979: “to maintain long run growth of the monetary and credit aggregates commensurate with the economy’s long run potential to increase production, so as to promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates.”

What are interest rates in this engine?

The fuel of the financial system is money (generally under the form of credit). Central bank control interest rates, and those fix the price of money. The central bank raises and lowers the interest rates it charges banks when giving them money. When the central bank wants to slow down economic activity, it raises those interest rates, increasing the cost of borrowing money. Banks pass the augmentation to individuals and businesses: the latter borrow less and spend less, and economic activity slows down. When the central bank wants to stimulate the economy, it lowers interest rates.

So what happened under Fed Chair Greenspan?

In 1996, Greenspan said there was a bubble (some indicators were as bad as in 1929). However he refused to increase interest rates, because he claimed bubbles were self correcting (he read it in Ayn Rand). Yet when a fund of his friends crashed in 1998, Long Term Capital Management, he intervened (by giving enough money to friends in big banks to save his friends at LTCM and those in business with LTCM).

So Greenspan kept on piling up the fuel?

Worse than that. Under Rubin, Greenspan, Summers, in the 1990s, their boy Clinton allowed fuel to be freely used by the biggest banks to do things having nothing to do with the Fed’s mandate. Like setting fire to the entire economy and society, and then cashing in on the insurance.

Why did they allow this?

Because  the sums engaged, about ten times world GDP, or more, allowed outsize profits. They, their friends, families, and acquaintances, all made like bandits. Still do: dark pools are bigger than ever, and increase ever more every year.

After he retired, president Truman lived nearly at the poverty level. When asked why he would not cash in, he replied that he did not want to soil the office of the presidency. Compare with Clinton.

What’s your remedy?

I will come back to that. Outlaw all and any financial investment that does not benefit the economy directly (except for insurance, and some very restricted commercial derivatives, with sharp distinction between commercial operators and casino players).

Why hasn’t the Fed made larger cuts to consumer interest rates?

Because the financial system is run for profit. Lots of profits. and the financial, for profit system, is supposed to run the economies of the USA, and the EU.

That’s why some European Commissioners (Otto Rehn) are blue in the face at France for running an important socialist, not for profit economy. I mean, they are paid to be upset. When they come out of their stint at the European Commission, they expect a job at the like of Goldman Sachs.

Even Krugman has finally understood what they were up to, and condemned Rehn vigorously for the hypocrite he is; France is being attacked because it’s too much of a Republic, not enough of a plutocracy! (Basically Krugman dared to say this.)

Is the Fed powerless to reduce those consumer rates further?

There is what the central banks say they can do, and the reality that some of what they can do, they don’t even want to talk about. The Fed and the ECB have tried to distract us by a pair of novel strategies to drag consumer and business rates down. So they say.

One strategy is called Quantitative Easing (QE). The Fed has purchased more than $4 trillion in Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities since 2008, driving up prices as investors compete for the diminished pool of available securities.

When investors pay a higher price for a bond, they accept a lower interest rate from the borrower. So the Fed’s purchases have helped to reduce the interest rates paid by the government and by home buyers. The Fed claims other interest rates are driven down, but that’s controversial.

Another campaign is called forward guidance. One reason for higher interest rates on long-term loans is uncertainty about the future level of short-term rates. The Fed has sought to decrease this uncertainty by declaring it intends to keep short-term rates near zero as long as the U2 unemployment rate remains above 6.5 percent.

Experts sing that these efforts have helped (at least a little). But, of course, this is all a sick joke.

Before you explain why it’s a joke, shouldn’t the Fed be worried about inflation?

Right now the problem is threatening deflation. All over.

Fed officials think they’ve got a clever new tool to prevent inflation. The money spent on bond purchases is credited to banks, but it is kept in accounts held by the Fed. The Fed recently started to pay interest on those accounts, giving banks an incentive to leave the money with the Fed. If the economy started to inflate, Fed officials say they can keep a lid by paying the banks higher interest rates to leave the money at the Fed.

In other words the fat cats of the biggest banks will keep on making ever more money.

President Obama said he wants no more asset bubbles like the housing bubble that caused the financial crisis. How?

Before the lamentable Greenspan, and since the bubble of the 1920s, that led to the 1929 crash, preventing bubbles used to be the Fed’s main job. As a Fed chief said generations ago, “by taking out the punch bowl when the party gets going“. This is done by rising interest rates. Volcker, named by Carter, brought interest rates up to 23.5%. That killed inflation (and the economy).

Under Clinton, the corruptocrats connected to the plutocracy claimed that there were no bubbles, on the grounds that the price of an open-market transaction is perfect by definition. If they had eyes to see, they could have observed there is no free market, just a rigged market. Others simply denied that the Fed could identify or pop bubbles. Both imbecile statements.

Why did you say that the ways presently used by central banks to decrease interest rates were a joke?

The Greater Depression started in 2007-2008 has been triggered by a crisis of banking caused by the unsupervised power of the abusers of the fractional reserve system: central banks give money to private bankers, and the latter lend 30 times that to… their friends. This happened in several ways: USA subprime, derivatives (especially swaps), European investment in continent size corruption, etc.

For example those banks could be British, French, German, and the corrupt friends could be Southern Europeans, and other Irish. When the whole castle of speculation crashed, European governments were asked to save the banks on the front lines, crashing their own governmental finances.

The rest of society was left holding the bag, while the plutocrats are dining on caviar in their castles. Instead the plutocrats ought to have been expropriated, and the castles put for sale.

A beautiful example is Greece. All the aid programs to Greece, as I have said forever, were mostly aid programs to big Northern European banks. Said programs were paid by the Public (all over Europe). The International Monetary Fund just recognized this was debated secretly inside the IMF (October 2013!).

Most of the  money created by QE goes into the derivatives business and other shadow banking and associated dark pools. It does not go to the real economy.

Thus not enough money is available to the real economy, that’s why interest rates are still high, and part of the reason QE ends up just as a subsidy to the worst financial pirates. The financial fuel goes into burning the house down, not the cooking stove.

Hence the importance of nominating Janet Yellen chief of the Fed. If she is nominated, I will explain why.

***

Patrice Ayme