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.
As world stock markets have continued to climb to cyclical – if not all-time – highs, it has become almost the norm for industry Talking Heads to season their smatterings of media insight with a brief, talismanic expression of scepticism, uttered partly to appease the ever-jealous God of the Markets but mainly so as to be on record as ‘having foreseen the crash’ as and when one eventually occurs.
The more our would-be Philosopher Kings attempt to display the awesome panoply of their intellectual armour, the more we think, not of the Greek sage from whom they seem to draw inspiration, but of Mickey Mouse’s dopey canine friend.
In bonds, the Bears are mounting another one of their forlorn hope charges against the central bank ramparts which is, in turn, rendering equities a little more expensive in relative, as well as absolute, terms. Commodities, meanwhile, are firmly rooted in mean reversion mode.
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.
Having just managed to quell a dangerous rebellion among her fellow Committee members, it did not seem the most opportune time for Janet Yellen to start dreaming of the sort of post-war ‘demand management’ that would happily trade a few extra percentage points of price inflation in order to move a little further up the employment axis in that unshakable vision of the Phillips Curve that seems to dominate the modern central banker’s thought processes.
There are those who can display a solid grasp of the oft–misunderstood mechanics of credit and money generation by banks and who are also well aware of the episodes of endemic mistakes this entrains in in our system. Yet, perhaps because they possess a certain ideological bent, many such commentators cannot seem to steel themselves to take the next step and admit that very little of this has anything to do with a free market, or that those mistakes are decidely not an intrinsic feature of what they like to call ‘capitalism’.
In light of the breathless anticipation which preceded the Fed Chair’s speech to her peers at Jackson Hole and cognisant of the mild state of befuddlement with which it was received, we felt it would be of interest to readers to have a translation, together with a gloss (each in bold), in order to try to remove some of the obscurities contained therein.Continue reading …