Patterico's Pontifications

4/28/2015

Having Failed with Interest Rates, Our Betters Now Want to Increase Inflation

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:47 am

Oh, brother:

The cardinal rule of central banking, in the United States and in most other advanced industrial nations, is that annual inflation should run around 2 percent.

But as the Federal Reserve prepares to start raising its benchmark interest rate later this year to keep future inflation from exceeding that pace, it is facing persistent questions about the wisdom of the rule and the possible benefits of significantly increasing its target.

Higher inflation could disrupt economic activity, but it also would enhance the Fed’s power to stimulate the economy during recessions. And some experts say the struggles of the Fed and other central banks to provide enough stimulus since the Great Recession suggest they could use more room for maneuvering.

. . . .

The case for raising the 2 percent target rests on the counterintuitive idea that moderate inflation is a good thing, helping to grease the wheels of commerce and prevent an outright fall in prices. This is widely accepted by economists. It is the reason that central banks aim for a modest inflation rate, rather than keeping prices at the same level from year to year. The question is, How much?

On goes the Sarcastic Hat.

Indeed, all the smartest people know that it is important for consumers’ purchasing power to diminish year to year by some amount determined by central planners. The experts make a convincing case that our purchasing power isn’t plummeting fast enough.

I think they should start by targeting the specific industries that have a demonstrated history of dangerous deflation, like computers. Everyone knows that computers keep getting better all the time, while prices get lower. This is an intolerable and dangerous situation, for the same sound reasons that general deflation would be intolerable and dangerous. If the prices of computers keeping dropping, consumers will wait to buy computers. Also, companies making computers will not be profitable. These are the arguments we always hear about general deflation and I don’t see why they shouldn’t apply to the computer industry.

The conclusion is clear. Government needs to take action to ensure that the prices of computers does not decline, but rather increases, steadily. Ideally, the price increase will occur at a rate determined by government bureaucrats living in Washington, D.C., who have no personal stake in the success of the companies. I think that would be for the best, don’t you?

And to those who say that better and cheaper products (like computers) are a good thing for consumers, I say: don’t you guys understand economics??

Next thing you know, you guys will be saying the real problem is excessive taxation and regulation, and that the government needs to get out of the way and let the free market allocate resources according to the individual decisions of consumers. That, I hope most people realize, is crazy talk. The very thought should be illegal to think and I am going to go draft a law to ban such thoughts right now. Be right back; talk amongst yourselves.

64 Responses to “Having Failed with Interest Rates, Our Betters Now Want to Increase Inflation”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  2. They aim for a slight inflation because, in trying to match economic output with money in a market economy with fiat currency, you are going to get it wrong. So you error towards inflation as that has less problems that deflation. Think of it as friction, or the fee owed to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics which rules here, too.

    One could say at this point, but what about a gold standard and you won’t have this problem, but that just means you’ve given up trying to match money with economic output and opted for monotonic deflation.

    THAT BEING SAID, however, the rest of this is poppycock. They want more inflation because they want to monetize debt rather than raise real rates to service it. So, they will raise interest rates, but also raise inflation so that real rates remain at zero, or negative. This will work for a short while, then the Piper just plays a new, louder tune.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  3. *err

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  4. I’m gonna dust off my WIN (Whip Inflation Now) buttons from the mid-70’s. We’re about at that point again, substituting the Obama administration for the fiscal disaster called VietNam. For those that just tuned in, the WIN program failed.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  5. also in #2 less fewer.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  6. they need to target higher inflations precisely so they don’t have to raise rates

    these losers have NO idea how to take the zirp training wheels off the obama-raped economy and they are very very scared of what will happen if they try

    happyfeet (831175)

  7. you error towards inflation as that has less problems that deflation.

    Isn’t it time we stopped suffering from the problems of deflation in the computer market?

    Patterico (f985d9)

  8. my advice–Stock up big on sugar, charcoal and toilet paper at today’s prices. They don’t ever spoil.

    elissa (cbcbbb)

  9. i have a 10-pound bag of sugar cause of I’m thinking about brewing kombucha maybe starting in may

    happyfeet (831175)

  10. You really need to stop harping on inflation. Its not that important. Question: There has been significant inflation since 1900. Do you think someone making 50,000 per year today is worse off than J. Pierpont Morgan was in 1900 when he was essentially one of the richest persons in the world then? No of course not. The person earning $50,000 today has at their “highly inflated” disposal income level things undreamed of by J.Pierpont Morgan.

    The question is not is inflation good or bad. The question is what will our living standard be regardless of inflation next year and 20 years from now. I don’t care if there is 15% inflation, but i do very much care if my living standard has decreased in 20 years. And inflation is irrelevant to that discussion.

    Jeffrey (2eddb6)

  11. Alas, I’m not nyt subscriber and couldn’t read the article. What’s the trick to get it from a cache?

    bobathome (ef0d3a)

  12. The only people who have a problem with deflation is the bankers just as they are the only ones who really benefit from inflation.

    JNorth (5fe1bf)

  13. Isn’t it time we stopped suffering from the problems of deflation in the computer market?

    There is no deflation in the computer market. A computer costs the same now as it did 10 years ago.

    But that snark aside, you conflate a single commodity with the economy, which is like trying to prove global warming with data from Las Vegas.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  14. Stock up big on sugar, charcoal and toilet paper at today’s prices. They don’t ever spoil.

    Sugar clots and gets carried away by ants. Charcoal isn’t important in places that don’t barbecue. Have you ever used 20-year-old toilet paper? Me neither.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  15. This issue here is really that they intend to inflate to make their debt problem less massive. Doesn’t matter what they say. Problem is that it doesn’t work.

    And if the US Dollar ever ceases to be the world reserve currency, it REALLY won’t work. It is hard to say if Obama will succeed in “accomplishing” that in his last 20 months.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  16. Sounds like a desire to increase inflation to make paying off federal debt easier. (Inflate it away)

    Dejectedhead (35e9b8)

  17. Didn’t the Supreme Court just hear arguments about federal control of raisin prices? Isn’t this just a much larger debate of the same problem? Doesn’t anyone remember Wage and Price Controls? WIN? Anyone?

    David (9497a1)

  18. Mish has been all over this horsecrap Keynesian nonsense…

    http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2014/10/challenge-to-keynesians-prove-rising.html

    TomK (760d73)

  19. #10: Young Jeffrey, I’m delighted to see that you have read a little history. It will surprise you to learn that inflation can be a problem for all sorts of people. Consider that house you want to sell. You hope the guy who’s going to buy it will pay you what you need to allow you to move into that 500 sq ft apartment that looks affordable ($1000 a month,) given your pension and ss. At 18% inflation, the $1000 a month you need this month will increase to $2000 a month in about 4 years (rule of 72,) and $4000 a month in 8 years. Plugging this into an excel spreadsheet, you discover that you will need $211,720 to pay 8 year’s rent for the apartment. Assuming you owe $200,000 on your house at present, and “safe” investments with a two year term are paying 12%, you discover that you will need to sell your house for $324,633, netting you $124,633, of which you put $28,633 into the bank to pay the first two year’s rent, and the remaining $96,000 you invest at 12% which pays for the remaining 6 years. So this gets you 8 years down the road, at which time you are broke. But what about the guy who’s going to buy your house? At 18%, he’ll need to pay $4892.50 a month (not counting property taxes, mortgage insurance, etc.) and this will reduce the number of potential buyers, since a properly qualified buyer would need to have a monthly income of about $12,000.

    Reflecting on all this, you decide not to sell, and are grateful you had the sense to finance the place with a 30 year, 3.75% fixed mortgage. Now the problem is how to keep the place in repair, and the lawn mowed, and the ever rising-property taxes paid. You wonder if that WalMart greeter position is still open. Meantime, houses like yours fall in appraised value, because recent sales are very weak. Every night you curse the fools who lead us into this morass.

    Worse yet, these “unforeseen” consequences accumulate, and the 18% everyone had been planning on quickly becomes 25%, employment collapses, and all hell breaks loose. This was all foreseen in the late 1940’s, but our central planners necessarily dismissed the notion that people can anticipate the second order effects of their “solutions” to our problems.

    bobathome (ef0d3a)

  20. #19 and the ever rising-property taxes paid
    ———————-

    Which is quite literally the reason why Prop 13 was passed in California. Retired seniors were losing their homes to property taxes.

    And the pols have been trying to undo it ever since.

    junior (79e744)

  21. Yes, we need a Davis-Bacon Act applicable to the IT sector to hobble them with unconscionable wage rates and reporting requirements…for the children.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  22. Kevin M (25bbee) — 4/28/2015 @ 9:16 am

    Didn’t we used to call that a Sear’s Catalog?

    askeptic (efcf22)

  23. Didn’t we used to call that a Sear’s Catalog?

    Not since Pappy move the family to civilization.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  24. bobathome (ef0d3a) — 4/28/2015 @ 10:22 am..

    Of course, if Jeffrey is fortunate to live in CA, he will find rather stable property taxes (Thank You, Howard Jarvis), so that home is a pretty good long-term investment for someone not wanting/needing to move.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  25. Dear bob@home

    Meaningless. What matters is – is my standard of living increasing.

    Again. Is someone today better off than J. Pierpont Morgan was in 1900, even though by 1900 standards, J.Pierpont Morgan was in the 0.00000000001% and my fictional person today, is simply average.

    The obvious answer is the average person today is better off than the 0.00000000001% from 115 years ago. Therefore even though the purchasing power of money has declined by 98% since 1900, its irrelevant as the standard of living has increased exponentially since 1900. And if you need a refresher, at the turn of the century through the end of WWI, us inflation rates averaged well over 10% per year. But somehow, today we are far better off, no?

    In fact you could argue that the bottom 1% of Americans today, the poorest of the poor has a better standard of living than J.Pierpont Morgan did in 1900.

    Again. The correct question is what will happen to living standards over the next xx years. Inflation is (nearly) meaningless.

    Jeffrey (2eddb6)

  26. Jeffrey, the fact that we have enjoyed technological progress is not an argument for inflation. In fact, technology often causes the opposite when it increases productivity. This lowers the cost of the item produced which benefits the consumer. And it also benefits the producer assuming it is a free market. Consider, for example, agriculture. One tractor can do the work of many horses and ploughmen.

    I agree with you that we are incomparably better off than any previous generation. But inflation is not the cause the of this progress. It is not even a necessary consequence. Inflation is a convenient way for politicians to spend our children’s money and have some hope of avoiding responsibility for that act.

    The left and its programs are best understood in terms of “cargo cultists”. They observe the second order effects of something beneficial and presume that those symptoms are the cause. Then they figure out how they can exploit this politically. At worst, a crisis ensues, and we know that every crisis is an opportunity for those who have prepared for it, especially if they have immobilized, isolated, and named the scapegoat.

    bobathome (ef0d3a)

  27. “I agree with you that we are incomparably better off than any previous generation. But inflation is not the cause the of this progress. It is not even a necessary consequence. Inflation is a convenient way for politicians to spend our children’s money and have some hope of avoiding responsibility for that act.”

    Bobathome. I never said inflation was the cause of anything. However, you cannot say that inflation since 1900 held us back in any meaningful way. There is no evidence whatsoever that inflation did anything to stop the increase in the standard of living since 1900. Inflation has had no effect whatsoever on technological development. That is why i say we must focus on standard of living and ignore (somewhat, not completely of course) meaningless measures.

    You believe otherwise. Fine. We agree to disagree.

    Regards

    Jeffrey (2eddb6)

  28. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain,” said a somewhat-loud but unmistakeably insistent voice.

    And so we paid the little man no mind at all.

    And there were ices, and marvelous little sugarpuffs, and pinwheels, and we saw a flying monkey, and drank several flagons of something that tasted quite like sangria, but fizzier, and we laughed and laughed – oh how we laughed!

    And thought nothing of the price.

    happyfeet (831175)

  29. Jeffery, a perfectly steady (or even predictable) inflation is no problem. In fact, it would probably result in some kind of a secondary currency that allowed consumers to use a constant valued artifact to save them the trouble of figuring out that $1000 today would be $4053 four years from now in an 18% inflation environment.

    But inflation isn’t predictable once it gets going, and that is where the problem lies. In the election of 1980, the Fed was doing all it could to get Carter re-elected. The price of home mortgages fell from 16% to 13.5% between September and late October. I recall this fairly vividly as we were buying our first home, and we managed to lock in the 13.5% rate for a closing in early December. A month later the rate went up to 15% or more. Unemployment was running around 10% or more, and EE savings bonds were paying around 7%. That rate went as high as 9% in the early-80s.

    These were not good times to be raising capital, despite the success of Microsoft and Apple. Projecting 20% annual revenue growth for a novel enterprise was a hard sell.

    Chaotic financial conditions are not conducive to progress that is based on investment.

    bobathome (ef0d3a)

  30. J.P.Morgans $50,000 in 1900 is (very roughly ) $1,500,000 — $15,000,000 today. Try again.

    htom (4ca1fa)

  31. 30- J.P. could not survive today on that if he wished to maintain the lifestyle he had in 1900.
    Remember, this is a guy who “wrote a check” to keep the international banking system from collapsing.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  32. Inflation within a reasonable range of values won’t matter too much as most entities in the economy can adapt to reasonable inflation. However, when it gets higher, then it is clearly disruptive to the economy. My opinion is that 2% to 4% would be highly desirable, and maybe up to 5% tolerable, but any more would definitely hurt economic development. 10% is definitely a problem as many entities cannot easily adapt to that level.

    I know this is very subjective, but I believe an economy will grow and create technical advances very well with 2% to 4% inflation. It will fall short of that performance with higher inflation, but how do you prove what would have been if conditions had been better?

    Ken in Camarillo (c5b86d)

  33. 3: There is no deflation in the computer market. A computer costs the same now as it did 10 years ago.

    That’s because your expectations inflate along with the computer prices. If your expectations were the same as, say, 30 years ago, you could trounce your multi-thousand dollar monster CP/M machine with a $5 microcontroller.

    Anachronda (84ebcd)

  34. How did quality of life get conflated with inflation?

    JD (3b5483)

  35. This is widely accepted by economists.

    Like, say, Paul Krugman? Right, got it.

    Ridiculous blanket assertions like this should tell you all that you need to know about that little subject.

    J.P. (cc46f4)

  36. what is the problem with ” outright fall in prices ” ???

    seeRpea (181740)

  37. One can never have to much charcoal.
    If you mix 20 mule team borax with that sugar, those ants won’t comeback.
    Toilet paper at any age will get used.

    mg (31009b)

  38. That’s because your expectations inflate along with the computer prices.

    I said it was snark.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  39. what is the problem with ” outright fall in prices ” ???

    Because the lags in the system cause more disruption in that direction. In inflation, prices propagate forwards in time (supplier raises prices, then the merchant does). In deflation, they propagate backwards, which is awkward.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  40. what is the problem with ” outright fall in prices ” ???

    It works with computers only because it’s expected and the system is set up that way. The “price drops” are as older models are replaced by better models at the same price point, not a commodity trending down.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  41. But again, the administration/Fed remarks above seem off mainly because they are LYING, not for any real economic theory. They want to inflate away some debt. It would make a good post why monetizing debt is a bad idea, even in a fractional-reserve fiat-currency financial system.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  42. Inflation is expansion of the money supply. If you want a healthy economy, you need some expansion of the money supply, if only to keep a growing population at a stable standard of living. You also need unemployment for the same basic reason.

    This is something I learned in Econ 101, thirty five years ago. At that time, according to our prof., the optimal rates were 2 or 3 percent inflation and 6 percent unemployment.

    The key here is that all that was expected to happen naturally, with minimal intervention by a central bank.

    kishnevi (91d5c6)

  43. What do you call an economist with a credit card balance?

    Theoretical

    EPWJ (68f58f)

  44. You really need to stop harping on inflation. Its not that important. Question: There has been significant inflation since 1900. Do you think someone making 50,000 per year today is worse off than J. Pierpont Morgan was in 1900 when he was essentially one of the richest persons in the world then? No of course not. The person earning $50,000 today has at their “highly inflated” disposal income level things undreamed of by J.Pierpont Morgan.

    The question is not is inflation good or bad. The question is what will our living standard be regardless of inflation next year and 20 years from now. I don’t care if there is 15% inflation, but i do very much care if my living standard has decreased in 20 years. And inflation is irrelevant to that discussion.

    Sure. And if you can find a 100-year-old smoker that means cigarette smoking is not harmful.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  45. There is no deflation in the computer market. A computer costs the same now as it did 10 years ago.

    Yeah? How much was my 1 TB hard drive 10 years ago?

    But that snark aside, you conflate a single commodity with the economy, which is like trying to prove global warming with data from Las Vegas.

    I “conflate” nothing. My analogy addresses some of the supposed problems with deflation, and asks why those sae arguments would not apply to a commodity like a computer, which has experienced deflation whether you want to admit it or not. If you think there is a reason that the deflation arguments apply to the economy as a whole but not one commodity, the comments are open and you are welcome to explain.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  46. Inflation is expansion of the money supply. If you want a healthy economy, you need some expansion of the money supply, if only to keep a growing population at a stable standard of living. You also need unemployment for the same basic reason.

    This is something I learned in Econ 101, thirty five years ago. At that time, according to our prof., the optimal rates were 2 or 3 percent inflation and 6 percent unemployment.

    Econ 101 is typically taught according to statist textbooks like Samuelson and Nordhaus, who provided wafer-thin intellectual justification for all sorts of government intervention.

    As many here note, inflation is what you get when a government wants to reduce debt in an underhanded way.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  47. We lacked inflation for a good chunk of the 19th century and seemed to do fine.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  48. yes, i still don’t understand why inflation is deemed a ‘good’. Do you realize what 2% a year is over just a decade? why can’t prices drop first at wholesale level than at consumer level? why do you need an expanding money supply for a healthy economy?
    I took Economics 101 and 102 in the 80s too, but sure didn’t learn that inflation was needed for a healthy economy. Then again, i didn’t take the Economics classes at a liberal arts school.

    seeRpea (49f72d)

  49. The money supply needs to keep pace with population growth.
    So the true ideal would be a rate of inflation equal to the rate at which the population expands. Deflation is good only when the population is shrinking.

    kishnevi (adea75)

  50. The money supply needs to keep pace with population growth.

    Why? I say it doesn’t. Tell me why I’m wrong.

    I used to accept this stuff, but now I am challenging it.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  51. Why is it good and necessary for workers’ purchasing power to decrease?

    Patterico (9c670f)

  52. I don’t mean to sound hostile, by the way. I just want people to rethink some of their premises, and I figure discussion is the way to do it.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  53. When the population increases, productivity tends to rise. With a fixed supply of money, this may cause prices to fall, but that does not mean there will be a depression. If the real costs of production are lower (because productivity has increased) then businessmen will be able to purchase inputs for less, and can still make a profit even if prices are steadily falling with the expansion in population in productivity. People can even settle for lower wages if they can still purchase the same goods (or more and better ones!) with the lower amount of money.

    Profit margins are not absolute; they are relative, to the inputs needed and what can be bought with the profits.

    It’s my impression that the folks teaching Econ 101 have swallowed the Samuelson and Nordhaus Kool-aid. Check out Henry Hazlitt on the issue of inflation.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  54. A money supply that does not keep pace with population growth results in decreased purchasing power for everyone.

    Suppose a population of 100 grows to 105. If there is no expansion of the money supply, either the new 5 people never get any money at all, or the money they do have is gained at the expense of the original 100, who must lose a fraction of their own money to allow the newcomers to gain their share. They go from an average of 1/100th of the money supply to 1/105th. So they lose the difference, unless the money supply expands. If it does they still have 1/105th of the money, but it is equal to the original 1/100th.

    Don’t think of inflation as price related. Think of it as money supply related…inflating the money supply causes increased prices, not the other way around. And that is why the Fed strategy in the last decade is such a problem… the money supply has ballooned beyond any rational measure.

    kishnevi (91d5c6)

  55. 53.
    Rises in productivity do not necessarily trigger lower production costs. And higher population does not necessarily trigger higher productivity. It does so only if the workers kerp producing at the same rate as before.

    kishnevi (adea75)

  56. kerp = keep

    kishnevi (9c4b9c)

  57. A money supply that does not keep pace with population growth results in decreased purchasing power for everyone.

    Suppose a population of 100 grows to 105. If there is no expansion of the money supply, either the new 5 people never get any money at all, or the money they do have is gained at the expense of the original 100, who must lose a fraction of their own money to allow the newcomers to gain their share. They go from an average of 1/100th of the money supply to 1/105th. So they lose the difference, unless the money supply expands. If it does they still have 1/105th of the money, but it is equal to the original 1/100th.

    This example does not seem to address purchasing power, but just distribution of units of currency that are assumed (I think incorrectly) to be constant in value.

    First, how do the 5 newer people “get” money? Ignoring the situation where we have government hampering the market economy, they earn it, by performing useful services or producing useful goods at a desired price. There is a limited number of units of currency to go around, but all that should mean is that the units of currency are in greater demand — meaning they gain value to relative to goods and services. Which is another way of saying that each unit of currency has greater purchasing power.

    Rises in productivity do not necessarily trigger lower production costs. And higher population does not necessarily trigger higher productivity. It does so only if the workers ke[e]p producing at the same rate as before.

    Not “necessarily” but it’s the way to bet. Generally, greater population means greater specialization and greater ability to exploit the benefits of the division of labor, the miracle that makes our standard of living possible. (Again, this is ignoring the situation where government gets in the way.)

    Patterico (9c670f)

  58. Suppose a population of 100 grows to 105. If there is no expansion of the money supply, either the new 5 people never get any money at all, or the money they do have is gained at the expense of the original 100, who must lose a fraction of their own money to allow the newcomers to gain their share. They go from an average of 1/100th of the money supply to 1/105th. So they lose the difference, unless the money supply expands. If it does they still have 1/105th of the money, but it is equal to the original 1/100th.

    I don’t really get this example anyway. If we assume a Communist society where the money supply is split evenly, 105 people will each have 1/105th of whatever number of units of currency exist, whether that be 100 units or 105. If it’s 100, each unit will be worth more relative to goods and services than the situation where it’s 105.

    So? Either way you will normally have more goods and services. If units of currency are divisible (as they should be) then their gaining greater purchasing power relative to goods and services will not be a problem.

    I have no idea what you’re talking about when you say “A money supply that does not keep pace with population growth results in decreased purchasing power for everyone.” Each unit of currency will have increased purchasing power, plus (as noted) you are ignoring the likely expansion of goods and services from the larger population.

    I’m just not following you at all.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  59. Thick as a freakin’ brick.

    Computer prices didn’t fall because of deflation, they fell due to the economy of scale as demand increased, improving efficiency in manufacture and assembly and delivery, and competition.

    Deflation is an economy killer. If prices are falling, why buy a house or car this week, this month, this year? Hang on and save! This also applies to business investment and expansion. Things grind to a halt.

    Don’t EVER taunt people with “do you understand economics” when you haven’t a freaking clue yourself.

    Estragon (ada867)

  60. Thick as a freakin’ brick.

    Computer prices didn’t fall because of deflation, they fell due to the economy of scale as demand increased, improving efficiency in manufacture and assembly and delivery, and competition.

    Deflation is an economy killer. If prices are falling, why buy a house or car this week, this month, this year? Hang on and save! This also applies to business investment and expansion. Things grind to a halt.

    Don’t EVER taunt people with “do you understand economics” when you haven’t a freaking clue yourself.

    Can the insults, Estragon, and just debate the ideas.

    I didn’t say computer prices fell “because of” deflation. I said that prices in computers have been falling (which you acknowlege) and thus we have an example of prices going down, not up, in a particular industry. Using the loose definition of “deflation” that most people use, which is a general lowering in prices (although technically, terms like inflation and deflation actually represent increases and decreases in the money supply and not the prices increases or decreases that may result), there has been deflation in a particular industry (several, actually, of which computers as such are only one example).

    And those industries have thrived.

    That argument was advanced in order to address the argument you make in the very next paragraph:

    Deflation is an economy killer. If prices are falling, why buy a house or car this week, this month, this year? Hang on and save! This also applies to business investment and expansion. Things grind to a halt.

    If prices are falling, why buy a computer this week, this month, this year? Hang on and save!

    Yet people don’t. Because people generally don’t go into a state of total nonconsumption just because there may be some deflation. People need to eat; they need shelter; they want to consume things.

    The error I think you’re making is to equate dollar value with wealth. Just because the nominal value of currency is worth more as compared to goods and services doesn’t mean that business needs to grind to a halt or that people need to stop buying things.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  61. 10, 19,20, 29, et alia. The Fed is making these noises because we are staring into the abyss of global recession and consequent asset deflation.

    From the start of the current trouble in 2008 this has been the Fed’s worry and the cause of debt monetization or QE.

    With deflation the costs of existing debt grow exponentially and it is game over for government everywhere.

    All note with incredulity that raising rates during recession will kill recovery at conception but that is the fix we find the Fed has left us–oodles of cash wagered on every bet imaginable but none likely to return a profit.

    The danger is that inflation once started can elude control and prices for products with buyers can start a coflagration.

    Much of the world’s wealth is tied up in products that cannot be eaten or burned as fuel.

    So much the worse for the Fed–squaring the circle seems trivial by comparison.

    DNF (65452e)

  62. Well, I just dipped my toe in the gold waters, and bought my first ounce of gold. I think I’ll be buying more in coming weeks or months, but, baby steps.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  63. Everyone knows holding gold is stupid and nobody really believes in it.

    Especially the federal government, which has done nothing to ensure that it retains its stockpiles.

    Right?

    Patterico (9c670f)


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