Though the connexion is not always explicitly drawn, one obvious corollary of the perceived current shortfall in corporate investment spending is to be found in the lacklustre nature of the gains being recorded in something called ‘productivity’.
This latter deficiency is often said to have ‘puzzled’ the Good and Great who presume to be able to influence such matters for the better, but one can readily identify factors which implicate the policies of those same would-be helmsmen of the economy, themselves, in the discouragement they offer for capital formation and by the incentives they afford for less than ideal practices among businesses, consumers, and governments, alike.
At the end of last month, the Mighty Oz’s and Grand Panjandrums of central banking descended upon the rural splendours of Wyoming in order to engage in a very public display of navel gazing and to enact a ritual, group reinforcement of confirmation bias.
There, we heard much nonsense talked about low – even negative -‘natural interest rates’ and of the seeming impossibility of triggering an alchemically meaningful dose of price inflation with which to restore the balance of the humours in the global economy.
It was most timely, then, for the ever-mischievous BIS to publish a paper first presented last year by Charles Goodhart & Manoj Pradhan which challenged much of the received wisdom of our monetary overlords and which broadly affirmed arguments I, too, have long been offering against their approach.
Millennial pessimism being a common affliction of thinkers throughout the ages, we should perhaps not be too surprised that we moderns, too, are prone to stroll along in its strangely seductive shadowlands of the mind.
The old adage that ‘the market must climb a wall of worry’ – i.e., that the best bull runs take place to the accompaniment of a swelling chorus of doubters – seems to have taken on a broader application in the economy at large where everything and anything which can be negatively construed currently calls forth a howl of rancorous ‘I told you so’s’ from the Herd.
If there is one sector of the US economy where an Austrian-style Boom-and-Bust bust has taken place, it is the onshore oil industry – though, by extension, other primary resource industries, such as metals and mining and farming have also suffered in the ongoing aftermath of the general commodity bust.
SUMMARY: Thanks to the election of President Trump and to his uncompromising attitude to the establishment media, much hot air is being expended on the subject of ‘fake news’. What we should really be getting worked up about is ‘fake economics’, for this is a much more pervasive evil, as well as a much more persistent one. Continue reading …
At the start of the year it has become wearily traditional for us pundits to offer one of two genres of prediction.
The first takes the form of a genuine—if ultimately foredoomed—attempt to lift a ragged corner of those thick shrouds of unknowability which separate today from tomorrow. The second combines such futility with a certain arch attempt to make one’s name in the event one chances upon what can afterwards be trumpeted as the inspired prediction of what the consensus presently regards as a highly unlikely event. Continue reading …