« India: More blasts of reality from Andy Mukherjee | Main | New book: The Changing Nature of the Business Cycle »

Thursday, October 27, 2005



Some random thoughts

Credit tightening to curb inflation seems like a no-win proposition these days.

“Raising the official cash rate will only attract further capital inflow, already very strong, putting further upward pressure on the exchange rate and making the current account deficit even worse.”

All that money floating around...higher interest rates will attract it like honey does flies. It seems as if we have created a monster with our economic policies. Oil is inflationary; trade polices are deflationary. All those profits and nowhere to go; they are certainly not going into investment. And they certainly are not being used to raise the general standard of living…anywhere, except for CEO’s and the financial community. The banking system is running out of silver bullets.

Watch the fire sales this holiday season. Retailers are being advised to start the season early, because as winter hits…keeping warm will be a priority. Get the money now.

China and the third world have learned to play the great game of monopoly…or so they seem to think: Use tax breaks and cheap labor to leapfrog into industrialization and waive environmental regulations.

Western companies and governments leapt at the Chinese bait. Foolishly, Western governments cut both taxes and interest rates in the hopes of spurring growth at home. What they got is not what they expected, although they should have known better. They simply turned their societies into consuming machines. Tax breaks and lower interest rates in the West did not spur investment and new technologies. Yes, goods became cheaper…compare the prices of computers in the late 1990’s with those now. (Although now these prices are slowly rising again: inflationary oil is winning the battle with deflationary cheap labor.)

What did the West do while this economic boom reverberated through round the world? Did it build a 21st century infrastructure? Did it invest in those technologies that would guarantee safe passage through peak oil and global warming? No. Instead it fashioned every credit instrument conceivable to keep the party going. And this extended line of credit will be its undoing. Deflation and extended credit—what a heady cocktail for any economic party.

And what will China’s reward be in all this? A new 21st powerhouse by 2050? Think again. It came to the party too late. It cannot ride on the coattails of the U.S. and the western consumer. There is not enough credit or oil left; the Western consumer will be tapped out. Take away his safety net and raise the price of energy and everything, everything will go into simply staying alive. Very shortly, China will not be able to use the West as one giant ATM machine.

And what will China be holding when all this is done? Industrial pollution as far as the eye can see—even now from outer space Chinese pollution is a giant brown blur over the that part of the world. China is trying to pass through the industrial age when it should have simply by-passed it.

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • TEST

  • Subscribe in NewsGator Online

Economist Weblogs


  • This is a personal web site, produced in my own time and solely reflecting my personal opinions. Statements on this site do not represent the views or policies of my employer, past or present, or any other organisation with which I may be affiliated. The information on this site is provided for discussion purposes only, and are not investing recommendations. Under no circumstances does this information represent a recommendation to buy or sell securities.