« The Economist: Danger time for America | Main | China and India forge oil alliance »

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Comments

Edward Hugh

"The Economist's long-running quarrel with Mr Greenspan is that he chose not to restrain the stockmarket bubble in the late 1990s or to curb today's housing bubble."

Ok, where do I sign up, I'm willing on the basis of reading this to become a 100% unconditional supporter of the Bernanke/Greenspan camp if what the Economist has to offer is the only alterantive.

The more I read the Economist these days the more they worry me. (Actually, I have to admit I've pretty much given-up reading it directly, and only catch what they are saying through columns like yours.

"..The deepest flaw in Mr Greenspan's policy towards asset prices is its asymmetry."

No! This is its greatest strength. Bernake is in at the Fed since he is the US's most able *deflation* fighter. The whole theory of asymmetric downside-risk is based on this issue. If the Economist and Stephen Roach had their way the whole world would be mired in deflation, and China and India's teeming millions would never get their shot at development.

Dave Iverson

I disagree, Edward. What do you have to say to the rest of The Economist's "asymetric information" story? Here's a bit more of what The Economist had to say:

"The deepest flaw in Mr Greenspan's policy towards asset prices is its asymmetry. If the Fed always cuts interest rates when asset prices tumble, but never raises them when they soar, then investors will be encouraged to take bigger risks. That makes bubbles more likely."

In your model, how is the Fed to interact with other arms of government to try to stay the hand of irrational exuberance and speculative frenzies?

Arthur Eckart

The Fed doesn't posses the tools to control individual markets (e.g. the goods market, money market, bond market, stock market, housing market, labor market, foreign exchange market, commodities market, etc.). If the Fed decided to control an individual market, that would create instabilities in other markets, and hence create an unstable economy. The Fed controls the general economy by targeting the general price level. Also, I may add, if the Fed targeted output, then prices would become unstable, and that would also create an unstable economy.

Arthur Eckart

Also, I may add, U.S. asset inflation is caused by relatively weak U.S. major trading partners (i.e. in Western Europe and Asia), which need export-led growth to maintain "acceptable" levels of employment (while the U.S. economy can expand with huge negative net exports). Vast U.S. capital inflows (surpluses) offset the huge negative U.S. current account deficits, to keep the balance of payments balanced. U.S. Treasury bonds are the safest investment in the world (and the U.S. dollar is the top hard currency). So, U.S. Treasury yields can remain low to attract foreign capital. Strong foreign production, because of strong U.S. consumption (along with strong U.S. production), and vast foreign investment into the U.S. is causing asset inflation. The global economy is expanding too fast, because the U.S. is structurally and relatively stronger than the rest of the world (i.e. the U.S. is the engine pulling the rest of the world's economies). It's not Greenspan's fault the U.S. economy has the ability to expand with huge negative net exports, and that the U.S. federal government enacts sound policies for the U.S. economy to flourish.

Dave Iverson

And the endgame is?

I don't believe that monetary authorities have to target individual markets, but do believe that major bubbles are discernable and can be dealt with. Timothy F. Geithner, President of the New York Federal Reserve Bane evidently believes this as well, as does ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet. Who else?

See, e.g. "The ECB Monitors both Inflation and Asset Bubbles" and more recently "New York Fed's Geithner on the Fed's Response to Asset Price Movements." The two are posted, respectively at:

http://forestpolicy.typepad.com/economics/2005/06/the_european_ce.html

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/
2006/01/new_york_feds_g.html

PS. Off topic: Does anyone know how to deal with long hyperlinks in TypePad forums that don't allow active hyperlinks? AND: Why not allow active hyperlinks?

Arthur Eckart

Bubbles can be dealt with, but what's the advantage? The Nasdaq bubble was a big positive for the U.S. economy. So was the subsequent "Creative-Destruction" process. Why would a U.S. housing bubble be negative? It has raised U.S. living standards, and when the bubble bursts, houses won't disappear. The "endgame" or ultimate goal is to raise U.S. living standards anyway policymakers can.

Dave Iverson

* The Nasdaq bubble was a big positive for the U.S. economy. So was the subsequent "Creative-Destruction" process. Why would a U.S. housing bubble be negative? It has raised U.S. living standards, and when the bubble bursts, houses won't disappear. The "endgame" or ultimate goal is to raise U.S. living standards anyway policymakers can.

What happens if the process of "creative destruction" get too wild and destroys the very basis for a capitalist democracy? What happens if people so lose faith in the world's paper currencies that all bets are off as to where the bubbles will tend? See, e.g. "Global Investors Losing Faith in 'Faith-Based' Paper Currencies," 12/8/2005 on my Econ Dreams-Nightmares blog at http://forestpolicy.typepad.com/economics/

What value Bernanke's 'Helicopter Money' then?

Many now argue that Greenspan's 'Wealth Effect' is simply 'Wealth Illusion' and that America's debt-ridden consumers are just about tapped out. So much for raiing living standards.

Instead of raising living standards for American workers this seems to be a rapid race to the bottom of the world's wage scales. See "The End of Labor as We Once Knew It" at http://forestpolicy.typepad.com/economics/2006/01/end_of_labor_as.html

Arthur Eckart

A Creative-Destruction process is always wild, by definition, and it strengthens capitalism. People's actions indicate they still want U.S. dollars. I suspect, if they lose faith in the U.S. dollar, then they'd lose faith in gold also (although, gold is a substitute for hard currencies). The value of "helicopter money" is to avoid a liquidity trap. American consumers are about tapped out, but I don't see the connection of your comment "So much for raising living standards." Americans will now try to maintain autonomous consumption after the huge multiplier effect. The Creative-Destruction process will continue to create higher skilled jobs with higher wages for Americans.

Dave Iverson

We certainly are in a creative destruction "Great Transformation." But there are no guarantees of avoiding a liquidity trap. In fact throwing money at the problem may well create the same kinds of conditions that predated the 1929 crash. Throwing money at the problem later will not work either until people once-again regain some faith in the system.

Austrian economists and others (e.g. J.K. Galbraith, for example) believe that the irrational exuberance that was the stuff of the 1920s created the conditions that led to the liquidity trap of the 1930s.

Helicopter money will not work in the wake of massive debt deflation at the tail end of speculative frenzies. Hence my comment "So much for raising living standards" via the Wealth Effect illusion.

Arthur Eckart

The economic boom in the early 20th century and the Great Depression were caused by "Long-Wave Business Cycles" (i.e. structural shifts), which I believe are caused by uneven labor supply (e.g. the Civil War in the 1860s, where hundreds of thousands of Americans died, and the large waves of immigrants to America between 1890 and 1917). In the early 1930s, the U.S. was on the gold standard, and when gold outflows increased, the Fed had to tighten the money supply, which contracted the economy further. Moreover, fiscal policy was not a tool. Bernanke has stated many times that the Fed can always inflate the economy, using "helicopter money." So, a liquidity trap, which implies deflation and negative interest rates, cannot happen. Consequently, your statement contradicts what Bernanke believes. Greenspan has done an excellent job smoothing-out the business cycle, which implies tightening during the "boom phase" and easing during the "bust phase," and doesn't imply "throwing money." Sustainable growth is optimal growth, which raises living standards at the fastest possible rate. Moreover, a Wealth Effect is not an illusion, but a real economic force.

Dave Iverson

Is Bernanke God?

You and I both believe in "long wave" business cycles, but differ a lot as to what set up and prolonged the 1930s depression. Another topic for another time, and likely a different forum. Mine or yours?

I am no fan of either Greenspan or Bernanke. I hope that the theories I believe in will be proven wrong and their Helicopter Money triage theories proven right. Time will tell.

My "hope" (just above) is based on the possible disaster that may follow Helicopter Money played out in successive rounds at ever-larger scales, welling up into a "perfect storm" scene. See, e.g. Doug Noland's writing at Prudent Bear
http://prudentbear.com/archive_home_com.asp?category=18


Two points. Re: *Fed can always inflate the economy, using "helicopter money." So, a liquidity trap, which implies deflation and negative interest rates, cannot happen.

Nonsense. If all money goes to build asset or inflation bubbles then even though deflation doesn't happen in the short term, hyperinflation becomes an increasing concern with deflation or something worse (e.g. anarchy)to follow.

Re: * Sustainable growth is optimal growth

Yes.. That why I put more faith in George Stiglitz, Herman Daly, the late Kenneth Boulding and others who understand sustainable growth in its qualitative dimensions.

Arthur Eckart

Bernanke is qualified to be Fed Chairman. I find it interesting that you disagree with my statements by agreeing with them. The Fed wouldn't want hyperinflation or anarchy. So, once the liquidity trap danger was offset, the Fed would tighten the money supply, which is exactly what it did recently. The U.S. had 20 years of disinflation and the Fed Funds Rate was lowered to 1% to prevent a potential liquidity trap. However, after the Fed removed the risk, it tightened. It doesn't make sense to have faith in others, who don't have a track record, while Greenspan has a brilliant track record (the record itself reflects, but doesn't reveal, the Fed's skills).

Dave Iverson

Arthur,

First, to clear up a brain fart: I meant Joseph Stiglitz not George. Sorry.

Second, Greenspan's track record is admirable. But some, e.g. Doug Noland, Paul Kasriel, have suggested that he may be just lucky--in the right place at the right time to allow him to play a relatively easy "carry-trade" game.

The lingering question is whether or not Greenspan has set us up, or whether he just laid a foundation upon which Bernanke can build. We'll all get a chance to see. If we get through, say, 2008 without major problems Greenspan can feel more secure that future historians will treat him well.

Here is a link to Kasriel's commentary, May 14, 2004, "Has Greenspan's Luck Run Out?"
http://www.northerntrust.com/library/econ_research/
weekly/us/pc051404.pdf

Edward Hugh

"how is the Fed to interact with other arms of government to try to stay the hand of irrational exuberance and speculative frenzies?"

Well you two seem to have been having a wonderful time of it here :).

Firstly, sorry for not getting back sooner, I've been busy over the weekend.

I admit to having been rather blasé in the first comment. There are serious issues here. But I am not getting more and more tired (debilitated even) by the capacity of the Economist (we need to be careful, since it is a collection of individuals, but then on these topics there does seem to be a house line). I am tired on three fronts:

1/ The permanent spin put on the German and Japanese situation, with the 'self sustaining' recoevry always just round the next corner.
2/. The idea that pyramid population inversion is no big deal.
3/ The idea that we are always in danger of the next bubble, and that the resonsibility lies with the central bankers for allowing all this global liquidity to arise in the first place.

Now the most important difference of opinion I have with what you seem to be saying is that I don't feel that the speculative fever is as widespread as you suggest.

Clear the Dot-com boom was an example. I don't think, for example, that China is. I also don't think that the US housing boom is, although to maintain my party card I could say that there may be some 'localised froth'.

Whether Greenspan acted sufficiently in the case of the dor-com boom is a hard thing to decide. There are arguments either way, and he may have under-reacted. But you can't then go and convert this into a general thesis. Central Bankers are, after all, human only human, and Greenspan and Bernanke are two of the most sophistocated and intelligent practitioners of the art I have ever seen. Would that we had talent like this at the ECB!

Now post 2001 we had a new situation. The ageing OECD countries (Italy, Japan, German) become even more mired in slow growth and this made the global imbalance even greater. The US became even more the global growth engine, accompanied now by China and increasingly by India. But the dot-com bust left the US dangerously close to the zero bound, and a systematic downside-risk policy needed to be put in place. The measured pace was the 'normalisation' of rates after the danger past, but since the danger can re-emerge with the next recession don't expect your on-the-ball US central bankers to raise too far, and be ready for easing.

In fact, you need to accept a certyin degree of additional upside risk to try and keep your best options open for the future, but I don't see that there is any danger of bursting-bubble time being near. For this you need to look to Spain (and possibly Ireland) and even there, it doesn't look like they are about to 'correct' in the near future.

Arthur

"The global economy is expanding too fast"

You make many valid points, but I don't agree with this. I think the pace of expansion is just about fine, given we need to lift the developing world ASAP. Of course this means taking chances, but whatever happened to the famous risk appetite :).

"Many now argue that Greenspan's 'Wealth Effect' is simply 'Wealth Illusion' and that America's debt-ridden consumers are just about tapped out."

This would be Stephen Roach :). I'm just about as tired of his 'Austrianism' as I am of the Economist variety. I doubt that he is right here. Of course, a 'normal' recession will come along one day. In 2007 perhaps? Incidentally MS's Joaquim Fels is, if anything, more ineteresting than his boss here:

http://bonoboathome.blogspot.com/2005/11/inflation-targeting-wholly-inadequate.html

I don't wholly agree with him, but I think he argues well. Stephen Roach's work on global labour arbitrage is much more to the point, IMHO, and Richard Fisher of the Dallas Fed seems to be saying something similar when he says that the old idea of the 'output gap' needs a fresh look:

http://bonoboathome.blogspot.com/2006/01/output-gap-no-longer-useful.html

Arthur Eckart

Edward, central banks set polices for the future, because of "the long-run adjustment process." Of course, hindsight is easy. However, the Greenspan Fed has done excellent work smoothing-out the business cycle. Also, it's obvious to me the global economy is expanding too fast (see commodity prices for example). The U.S. economy has expanded at 4% real growth over the past 2 1/2 years. However, U.S. consumption is even greater than U.S. production. The U.S. current account deficit will be over $650 billion in 2005. Although, U.S. current account deficits imply greater foreign savings (to keep the balance of payments balanced), the increased saving is a result of foreign overproduction. U.S. production is more balanced, with neither strain nor slack. However, many of our trading partners are under economic strain, which creates suboptimal growth (in both the boom and bust phases). It's doubtful foreign economies will take the proper steps to shift the global economy more into balance. So, it seems, eventually, those countries will fall into recessions, while the U.S. has stagflation.

Dave Iverson

Edward says,

* I am tired on three fronts:

1/ The permanent spin put on the German and Japanese situation, with the 'self sustaining' recovery always just round the next corner.
2/. The idea that pyramid population inversion is no big deal.
3/ The idea that we are always in danger of the next bubble, and that the resonsibility lies with the central bankers for allowing all this global liquidity to arise in the first place.


I too am tired of self-sustaining recovery talk, and more generally "sustainability" talk that seem nothing more than what Herman Daly and Garrett Hardin often call "mistaken-concreteness."

I too am tired of discussions too-often unanchored to demographics and other important historical/cultural underpinnings that link economics to other social, biological, and natural sciences, as well as to the humanities.

I too am tired of talk that suggests that we are in danger of the next bubble – or whatever calamity that may befall us. (Even though I admit to my own share of fear-mongering on that front).

But world we live in, an emergent self-organizing systems world, is one in which we ought to fear things that may come to be. It is also one wherein we ought to celebrate what we've accomplished—but with the humility of knowing that we may have created as many or more problems than we've solved, with the humility of recognizing possibilities of following theory/practice that itself is too-myopic.

That is why I'm more inclined to celebrate what The Economist wrote rather than throwing stones at it.


Edward Hugh

Dave,

"I too am tired of self-sustaining recovery talk....That is why I'm more inclined to celebrate what The Economist wrote rather than throwing stones at it."

There's an interesting chain of reasoning from the intro to the conclusion here, but I'm sure you wouldn't want me to take the scalpel to it :). Suffice it to say I would just rephrase slighly and say "That is why I'm *not* inclined to celebrate what The Economist wrote. (Incidentally, I used to avidly read the Economist at one time, I grew up on the thing, what I am complaining about is that I now feel it has deteriorated. Maybe time for a new editor or something. Or for a New Economist).

Now I agree with some of your points.

"But the world we live in, an emergent self-organizing systems world..."

Yes, I more or less see things this way. Which implies, incidentally, that the role of Central Bankers is a somewhat limited one. I am braodly in agreement with Paul Ormerod here, and incidentally he would make a great editor for the Economist.

"is one in which we ought to fear things that may come to be"

I think this is one of the differences between us (although this does depend on the meaning of the word 'may'). I look forward to the things which may come to be, but am conscious of the risks entailed. Personally I am more worried by recent developments in Russia and Iran than I am by global economic risks at this moment. 2010, in economic terms is now very long term (due to the general principle of acceleration) it should be noted however. If Italian public debt crashes, and there is a flight into then out of the dollar, well, all bets are off....

"It is also one wherein we ought to celebrate what we've accomplished.."

I agree.

"but with the humility of knowing..."

I also agree, and think humility is important, which is why I ahve already self-criticised for my intial blasé attitude.

Maybe it should be:

"but with the humility of *not* knowing"

Of course, as someone or other once said, the interesting thing is to know that you don't know (Descartes please take note).

I would say that the interesting thing, given our in-principle high level of ignorance about what exactly is going to happen next, is to be able to listen, and especially to listen to the data. Models are useful, but more as heuristics, and people get to be excessively obsessed with them. Listen to the data, that should be our credo.

Which of course brings me back to Alan Greenspan...........

@ Arthur

"Also, it's obvious to me the global economy is expanding too fast (see commodity prices for example)"

I think there are two issues here. The first (too fast) issue is basically a normative judgement. You are entitled to consider it too fast, and I am entitled to consider it OK. We are just evaluating the situation differently. I certainly don't want to imply motives here: I assume both our motives are of the highest.

The question is what the relative weights you put on the 'overheating' risks (since I certainly don't think, and you seem to agree, that we are about to see generalised bubbles) in the developed economies, versus the need to get the greatest number of humans out of poverty as quickly as possible. As I say, this is a normative decision, and science won't take it for you.

Your commodities argument I take separately, since I think that Indai and China going through the industrial phase was always going to put pressure on commodity prices. Look at Europe and the 1970s. The big difference this time is that there are virtually no 'second round effects'. This is in-itself striking, and should be added (along with Alan Greenspan's puzzling low interest rate situation) to the list of things we don't really understand well enough.

So what we have isn't an inflationary spiral (in which case I think you certainly could take the central bankers to task) but a change in the *terms of trade* between commodity producers and consumers. Since the developed countries are large consumers, and the underdeveloped economies are often beneficiaries (although clearly by no means all of them) I don't see the big issue here. It is simply a redistribution of wealth away from the rich. Now........... what we do need to do is develop some more imaginative policies for helping recycle those surpluses in places like Saudi Arabia, and some better policies towards those poor countries who are adversly affected. But the issue, in and of itself doesn't worry me. We live in a world of finite resources, global population is about to rise from 6 to 9 billion, amny of these people will want to live well, and we need to get used to this.

@ both of you. I guess the common thread in all of this for me would be Esther Boserup. We are being challenged, but the challenge will simply bring forth a more robust and more sustainable response.

Edward Hugh

Incidentally, it isn't Murphy's law, but it is something similar. No sooner do I post the comment saying I'm not expecting too much trouble in the near future than I open my browser on the FT and discover that there was a big sell-off in Japan today. I certainly hope that this will stop there.

But it does highlight the way in which people have been irresponsible (Economist please note) with the Japan sustained-recovery story. Much of the investment in Japan stocks has been from overseas investors of late (the Jpanese have rather been buying US assets), people (especially it seems Middle East oil producers) are over extended and if there isn't a sustained recovery soon then there will be a correction. I just hope the correction won't be too sharp, but after Italy this is clearly the number 2 danger spot for trouble.

OTOH it is hard to blame this particular one on central bankers and their "excessively low interest rates", indeed my argument would be quite the contrary: all the BoJ spin on 'the imminent end to deflation' and the 'ending of monetary easing' is part of what has been fueling the excessive optimism, an excessive optimism which is reflected in over-priced share values.

Arthur Eckart

Edward, my conclusion that the global economy is expanding too fast is not a normative judgment. A poor country, e.g. China, produces heavy products (i.e. agricultural and industrial goods). Consequently, it pays a high price for energy. Also, China has an overabundance of unskilled labor. When too much labor is used, relative to other inputs, then profit growth will slow, e.g. through decreasing returns to scale or diminishing marginal productivity. Total output increases. However, the overemployment and overproduction create a vicious cycle, which will eventually destroy capital, unless unemployment rises (e.g. through a recession). It's a universal problem (for rich countries also). Also, you mentioned the terms of trade. Given production inefficiencies in China and rising oil prices, I'm sure there's been a deterioration in China's terms of trade for importing oil. Moreover, China pays a much higher relative cost for energy, i.e. compared to other production costs and by producing heavier products. The U.S. with less than 5% of the world's population produces 25% of the world's output. Yet, the U.S. consumes far more than it produces year-after-year ($650 billion more in 2005). Are you suggesting the U.S. is not overconsuming? (if not, then the rest of the world is not overproducing).

travesti

istanbul hotel travesti hotelles artic thanks This article is very beautiful, I really get very beyendım text files manually to your health as you travesti very beautiful and I wish you continued success with all respect ..

Thanks for helpful information travesti siteleri you catch up us with your sagol instructional çok explanation.
en iyi travestiler en guzel travesti

travesti
travesti forum
istanbul travestileri
ankara travestileri
izmir travestileri
bursa travestileri
travestiler
trv
travesti siteleri
travesti video
travesti
travesti
travesti
travestiler
travesti
travestiler
sohbet
travesti
chat
organik
güncel blog
sohbet
turkce mirc

Buy Adderall

TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT THEIR job, internal auditors must be able to write, speak, and listen effectively.

buy codeine

Additionally, listening is difficult because people don't work as hard at it as they should.

Buy Adderall

Internal auditors must listen to explanations, rationales, and defenses of financial practices and procedures

Buy Adderall

About one third of total Danish employment is in the public sector

Buy hydrocodone

Langenbrunner had assisted on their third goal before Sutter rebuked him for laziness in the defensive end

Buy hydrocodone

But, I’ve never once held something personal against a player from a confrontation

travesti

travesti ceren
travesti sitesi
travestiler
travesti

The comments to this entry are closed.

Information




  • TEST


  • Subscribe in NewsGator Online

Economist Weblogs

Disclaimer


  • 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.