Economische aanraders 11-04-2021
Economische aanraders: Veren of Lood biedt u op zondag wekelijks een inkijkje in (minstens) 15 belangrijke of informatieve artikelen en interviews die vooral de voorafgaande 7 dagen op economisch terrein verschenen op onafhankelijke sites.
De kop is de link naar het oorspronkelijke artikel, waarvan de samenvatting of de eerste (twee) alinea’s hier gegeven worden. Er zijn in deze rubriek altijd verschillende economische scholen vertegenwoordigd, en we streven er naar die diversiteit te handhaven.
We nemen wekelijks ook een paar extra links op naar artikelen die minder specialistische kennis vereisen. Deze met *** gemerkte artikelen zijn ons inziens ook interessant voor lezers met weinig basiskennis van economie.
The Global Debt Problem – Alasdair Macloed
It has been recently estimated that global debts stand at $284 trillion equivalent, representing 355% of global GDP. Estimates such as these must be treated with caution, and they probably underestimate financial sector debt. Furthermore, no allowance in these figures is made for OTC derivatives, which according to the Bank for International Settlements have a gross value of $15.48 quadrillion(!), netting out at $609 trillion.
This article comments on the different debt sectors: government, finance, non-financial corporate and consumer debt. It finds the dangers of excessive corporate debt have had the least attention, and that systemic risk in commercial banks is grossly underestimated.
Fed Transparency Won’t Get Us out of the Mess the Fed Created – Frank Shostak
In an interview with National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” program on Thursday, March 25, 2021, Fed chair Jerome Powell said that even with the economy rebounding faster than expected, any change in monetary policy would happen “very, very gradually over time and with great transparency. Rate increases would only be considered when the economy is all but fully recovered.” Powell also said that “as we make substantial further progress towards our goals we will gradually roll back, the $120 billion monthly bond purchases.”
Currently the Federal Reserve employs a transparent monetary policy framework in order to generate an environment of economic stability. By this framework, the key for economic stability is for the central bank to state clearly the likely course of the monetary policy ahead. Note that in this way of thinking expected monetary policy is a factor of stability while unexpected policy sets shocks and instability.
What Could Go Awry? – Charles Hugh Smith
All of which sounds very pretty indeed, but it does raise a question: can risk really be destroyed, or can it only be transferred? And if it can only be transferred, then what’s it been transferred to?
What a remarkable moment in time: every asset is lofting higher, with no limits in sight. The path ahead is already well-scouted: the U.S. economy will add a million jobs a month until the cows come home, Covid will continue fading until it basically disappears as an issue, the dollar and volatility will continue their death-march toward zero (good for risk assets), oil and commodities are entering a new super-cycle of growth, as are stocks, bonds (now that pesky yields are falling), cryptocurrencies and housing– all are entering super-cycles of high growth and essentially limitless expansion of speculative gains.
It’s dreadful having a skeptical default setting, but there you have it: what could go awry? Seemingly nothing. Everything’s accounted for and for anything out of the blue, we have the trusty Fed Put, the Federal Reserve’s implicit promise to crush any spot of bother with a wall of freshly issued dollars and near-infinite credit.
Look on our works, ye Mighty, and despair, for we are the greatest power in the Universe! Resistance is futile, and so on. Indeed.
Monetary Policy in America Is a Mess. Things Are Even Worse in Europe – Brendan Brown
High inflation takes off where political forces are too strong to permit the implementation of harsh remedial measures with respect to taxation and monetary policy such as to prevent an implosion of the national currency. In the contemporary global financial marketplace, there has been fluctuating concern about the US heading toward this point, albeit at a highly uncertain date, as evidenced by waves of attack last spring, summer, and autumn on the US dollar. In reality, though, the long-run inflation threat level is higher in Europe than the US.
Any substantial European remedial action sufficient to arrest in the future a threatened emergence of high consumer price inflation would unleash forces which could potentially sweep away the present status quo of political and economic power. Hence, whatever the immediate cause of the inflation acceleration, we should expect a consensus of policymaking elites—Berlin in full acquiescence—to kick the can down the road.
Producer Prices Blow Out – Wolf Richter
And companies have been reporting that they’re able to pass on those surging costs. So here we go with inflation.
Inflation that producers are experiencing is now blowing out. The surging input costs and the ability to pass on those higher input costs that have been reported by company executives as part of the services PMIs and manufacturing PMIs, and that owners of small businesses have told me about for months, have now solidly fired up the Producer Price Index for final demand, which in March jumped by 1.0% from February – double the rate that economists polled by Reuters had forecast – after having jumped 0.5% in February, and 1.3% in January. The PPI has now taken off, after hovering in fairly benign territory last year.
Big Debt Plus Rising Interest Rates = Big Danger – Doug French
If there is anything Wall Street banks crave is relief. Primarily relief from the potential for failure and, next, relief from holding much, if any, equity capital. These banks like their capital tiny and their profits huge. Losses should be socialized. After all, we want the ATMs to keep spitting out cash.
The SLR will be allowed to expire at the end of this month before most of us knew what it was—”supplementary leverage ratio.” When covid hit the fan last March, as the WSJ explains, “The ratio measures capital—funds that banks raise from investors, earn through profits and use to absorb losses—as a percentage of loans and other assets. Without the exclusion, Treasurys and deposits count as assets [not equity].”
No SLR means less leverage and lower profits for the big banks. But, the Federal Reserve must be careful, the yield on the US ten-year note has exploded to 1.72 percent.
***Breaking bad: The effects of health shocks on crime – Steffen Andersen, Gianpaolo Parise, Kim Peijnenburg
The demographics of criminality are changing, with the share of crimes committed by older adults rising in developed countries. This column uses administrative data from Denmark to better understand late-in-life determinants of crime – specifically, severe health shocks. It finds that a cancer diagnosis can incite criminal activity, and argues that social support should be made widely available to vulnerable segments of the population in the wake of the Covid health crisis, when even people with previously clean records could find themselves drawn into illegal behaviour.
***Trust, Corruption, and the Cultural Foundations of Capitalism – Lipton Matthews
Economists promote free market capitalism as the most advantageous system for human development. Notwithstanding the popularity of their rhetoric, capitalism remains a derisive term in the developing world. Transplanting promarket institutions to developing countries has failed to generate widespread support for capitalism. For capitalism to work in the developing world it must be aided by the right cultural infrastructure.
One obstacle to the growth of capitalism in the developing world is the paucity of trust. Trust makes it easier to do business by lowering transaction costs. When entrepreneurs trust each other, they are likely to collaborate and reap the fruits of innovation. In a trusting environment, businesspeople form lucrative deals before signing a contract, knowing that both parties will comply with the agreement. For instance, Macauley (1963) argues that entrepreneurs rarely depend on legal enforcement to solve disputes and in many cases actually fail to create contracts stipulating conditions with customers.
Expect Inflation To Accelerate? Here’s 8 Reasons To Expect Decelerating Inflation – Mike Shedlock
Lacy Hunt at Hoisington Management has some interesting thoughts regarding the inflation debate.
Case for Decelerating Inflation
In its Quarterly Review and Outlook for the First Quarter of 2021 Lacy Hunt makes a case for decelerating inflation.
Contrary to the conventional wisdom, disinflation is more likely than accelerating inflation. Since prices deflated in the second quarter of 2020, the annual inflation rate will move transitorily higher. Once these base effects are exhausted, cyclical, structural, and monetary considerations suggest that the inflation rate will moderate lower by year end and will undershoot the Fed Reserve’s target of 2%. The inflationary psychosis that has gripped the bond market will fade away in the face of such persistent disinflation.
After declining 5.2% in 2020, or the most since World War II, world-wide real per capita GDP is estimated to rise 4.7% in 2021. The United States will perform even better, rising 6.2%, after a contraction of 4.9% in 2020. The U.S. growth rate this year could be the fastest since 1984 and possibly even since 1950 (Chart 1).
Five considerations suggest that such growth is not likely to lead to sustaining inflation.
Lacy said 5. I added a 6th bullet point from his discussion, then added 2 more points of my own.
***Robots Won’t Destroy Us: How Automation Creates Jobs – Marcel Gautreau
One argument against the idea of technological unemployment, offered by many people who today sincerely style themselves as leading defenders of the free market, goes that automation will create more jobs than it destroys but due to the nature of the market, the nature of those jobs is, if not fundamentally unknowable, functionally indescribable for the purposes of the argument over automation. How could a person a hundred years ago, the reasoning goes, predict the existence of jobs like “app developer,” “nuclear engineer,” or “diversity and inclusion consultant”? The jobs of the future will be just as foreign to us as our jobs would be to those of the past, and we do not lament the world’s present paucity of candlestick makers and buggy whip manufacturers. While these people are more correct than their opponents, It must be acknowledged that this argument for the market is so thoroughly uncompelling that you might think it was originally concocted by its enemies. One may as well say that after automation, we will all get well-paying jobs with vacations, pension, and so forth once we enter the New Jerusalem, or after we achieve full communism. In fact, far from being unknowable, the types of jobs created by automation are highly categorically predictable. Automation in the production of higher-order goods directly creates jobs in producing lower-order goods that require those same higher-order goods as inputs. Automation in the production of consumer goods both increases living standards and makes human laborers more price competitive relative to machines.
US National Debt Passes $28 Trillion, +$4.7 Trillion in 13 Months. General Treasury Account Down by $480 Billion in 2 Months, $620 Billion to Go – Wolf Richter
What does it mean for the markets that the government now spends the proceeds from debt sales last spring that the Fed had monetized back then?
It finally happened, that glorious moment, when, after teetering on the verge for weeks – for reasons we’ll get into shortly – the incredibly spiking US gross national debt, after kissing the line a couple of times for a moment, finally, and suddenly by a big leap, jumped over the $28-trillion mark, with a $143-billion leap in one day on Wednesday, March 31, following some big Treasury sales. It gave some of that up on Thursday as some bonds matured. And it now amounts to $28.08 trillion, as per US Treasury Department on Friday.
The US gross national debt has now spiked by $4.7 trillion in 13 months since the end of February 2020, in the days before this show started.
Measuring human capital: Learning matters more than schooling – Noam Angrist, Simeon Djankov, Pinelopi Goldberg, Harry Patrinos
Human capital is a critical component of economic development. But the links between growth and human capital – when measured by years of schooling – are weak. This column introduces a better measurement, using a database that directly measures learning and represents 98% of the global population. The authors find that the link between economic development and human capital is strong when measured in this way. They also show that global progress in learning has been limited over the past two decades, even as enrolment in primary and secondary education has increased.
Visualizing The Plunging Purchasing Power Of The US Dollar – Tyler Durden
The purchasing power of a currency is the amount of goods and services that can be bought with one unit of the currency.
For example, one U.S. dollar could buy 10 bottles of beer in 1933. Today, as Visual Capitalist’s Govind Bhutanda notes, it’s the cost of a small McDonald’s coffee.
In other words, the purchasing power of the dollar – its value in terms of what it can buy – has decreased over time as price levels have risen.
Reporting regulation: The impact on corporate innovation – Matthias Breuer, Christian Leuz, Steven Vanhaverbeke
Firms often argue that disclosure and reporting regulations such as the EU Accounting Directive require them to reveal proprietary information, which discourages innovation. This column explores the effects of disclosure requirements on corporate innovation in the EU, and finds that forcing firms to publicly disclose their financial statements does indeed discourage innovative activities. At the industry level, positive information spillovers to competitors, suppliers, and customers appear insufficient to compensate for the negative direct effect on innovation. Indeed, the spillovers seem to concentrate innovation within a few large firms in a given industry.
How the “Affordability Crisis” Migrated from High-Income Rental Markets, as Manhattan & San Francisco, to Lower Income Markets, as Detroit & Fresno – Wolf Richter
The distortions caused by the shift to working from anywhere are hitting households that can least afford it.
For months, we have seen in the data how the large-scale shifts coming out of the Pandemic have impacted the housing markets around the country. In terms of rents, tenants have left big expensive places, such as San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Boston, or Manhattan, thereby leaving behind high vacancy rates, plunging rents, and massive churn by the stayers-behind that are chasing that free upgrade to a nicer apartment, as landlords are trying to keep their units filled.
And we have seen in the data that this outflux has created, conversely, a large-scale influx in the destination places, usually less expensive markets, and have driven up rents in those markets.
Exchange rate pass-through, monetary policy, and real exchange rates: Iceland and the 2008 crisis – Sebastian Edwards, Luis Cabezas
The nominal exchange rate plays a dual role in macroeconomic adjustments – it is part of the transmission mechanism of monetary policy, and it also helps accommodate external and domestic shocks through its effect on the real exchange rate. This column uses disaggregated price index data from Iceland to test how exchange rate pass-through varies with the international tradability of goods and with the monetary policy framework. It shows that pass-through is significantly higher for tradables relative to nontradables. In addition, it finds that improvements in the credibility of the central bank are associated with declines in the exchange rate pass-through.
***7 Observations on the Humane Nature of Capitalism – Gary Galles
“You are hitting the nail with too many hammers.” I can still remember Bob Clower, my dissertation chairman at the time, saying that to me after reading my most recent work. It was directed at the fact that I had shown problems with a particular competing argument “six ways from Sunday.” That is, It was overkill.
Of course, he didn’t note that his habit of saying, “This is related to that interesting literature. You should go figure it out and tie it in with your work,” just about every time I came by, may have been a contributing factor.
Partisan politics and macroeconomic policy in economic unions – Gerald Carlino, Thorsten Drautzburg, Robert Inman, Nicholas Zarra
The allocation of COVID-19 assistance under the American Rescue Plan has proven to be a point of significant partisan conflict between the Democratic administration and Republican governors. Motivated by partisan conflicts in the passage and implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, this column suggests that the resolution of these disagreements will have significant consequences for the overall impact of the American Rescue Plan on the aggregate economy.
Disclaimer: De VoL-redactie selecteert deze artikelen op interessante inzichten, of naar wij denken nuttige informatie. Wij kunnen echter geen enkele aansprakelijkheid aanvaarden voor de gevolgen van beslissingen die op grond hiervan door lezers zijn genomen, zakelijk zomin als privé.
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