Monday, August 30, 2010

David Knox Barker Recommends Jubilee Cycle

Boxer has a nice consideration of the macro-economic effects of Jubilee (here). He correctly points out that a regular Jubilee cycle would eliminate the long wave Depression cycle, by preventing a toxic build up of debt. As he puts it:

"The Jubilee law was actually crafted astutely to prevent the buildup of excessive debt levels in the economy, and not primarily to justify its cancellation. Debts were only forgiven if banks violated the Jubilee law that prevented the buildup of excessive debt. The Jubilee was not a bank bailout or stick taxpayers with others bad debts. Consider the passage from Leviticus 25: 8-19. This ancient text provides remarkable insight into the current global financial crisis, which is at its heart a global debt crisis."

Barker rightly condemns any attempt to transfer the debts of some, such as mortgage owners, onto the public purse, as some form of dishonest debt forgiveness program.

A Jubilee Year, correctly done today by the federal government, would not violate any contracts, because it would pay all debts in full. The federal government would simply write checks on behalf of private citizens to pay off their debts.

The creditors would be paid, the contracts would be honored, and the end result would be the cancellation of all debt, the resetting of the financial system, and the freeing of the productive economy. As Barker describes the renewal process: "The only way to address a debt problem is to reduce the amount of outstanding debt and create conditions for a booming economy and new long wave spring season..."

Friday, August 27, 2010

How Hyperinflation Happens

Excellent article written by Gonzalo Lira, here, about how hyperinflation happens. His key point: hyperinflation is not to be confused with inflation, although most people think hyperinflation is just a case of normal inflation on steroids.

--Normal inflation happens because of growing demand, and growing credit, driving prices up.
--Hyperinflation happens because the currency is collapsing.

People commonly confuse the cause with the effect in economic events.

Like a) the common idea of blaming the Great Depression on protectionism. In fact, protectionism was a response to the Great Depression.

Or like b) blaming the German printing press for causing their hyperinflation of the early 1920s. In fact, the German money was collapsing in value, which led the government to print more money to help people cope with having less wealth. The political impetus to follow this line of action is almost irresistable, and we shouldn't be surprised to see our own government do the same thing.

In short, hyperinflation happens because money-holders start selling dollars to buy other commodities. The result is that the dollar collapses in value, while the cost of all goods shoots up quickly.

Although he doesn't talk about it in his article, I would point out that America is especially vulnerable to this type of inflation because we don't make any of our own goods anymore. Because all of our consumer goods are made in foreign countries, a sell-off on the dollar means that not just commodities, but also all consumer goods, will shoot up in price.

Note that this event would not necessarily be drawn out with dramatic scenes of barrels of paper money being exchanged for bread. That would only happen if the federal government attempts to alleviate our suffering by printing and distributing paper cash. If the government starts doing that, then the hyperinflation can be dragged on, and money can gradually shoot towards infinity.

Most likely, our government will not resort to printing out piles of cash. In that case, our hyperinflation would be short and sharp. Everything would rise 300-1000% in price, and we would also be tremendously poorer, but then things would stabilize. The new normal would us simply being much poorer with a greatly devalued dollar. The world would have to find a different country to be buyer of last resort, and the dollar would lose its status as reserve currency.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Does the Fed Create Money? A Clarification

Excellent comment by Ralph Sampson, over on Ellen Brown's blog, explaining exactly what is meant by the Fed creating money.

"From my perspective Ellen explains the monetary system well but she periodically injects points of confusion. Here is an example: she says the Fed prints federal resereve notes and lends them to the banks at interest and the banks in turn lend them to us. This is sort of true but not really.

The Fed creates some paper currencey (Federal Resereve Notes) but that is a small part of the money created by the banking system. (Even that is not true. The Fed orders the notes from the mint, more specifically the Burea of Printing and Ingraving, who creates them and charges the Fed for the service.)

The main concept is that the Fed authorizes, and sometimes creates, reserves that the member banks then use as an insurance pool to back the bookentry loans (making money out of thin air) they in turn make to legal entities which are made up of individuals and non flesh-and blood-legal entities.

To just casually say the Fed prints federal reserve notes which it lends is the principal paradigm of the monetary system is, again, just not true and confuses the readers trying to understand that system.

Most of the circulating money is credit, not currency and coin, where credit is the term for purchasing power in the form of entries in a financial journal that, these days, takes the form of computer bits in a digital memory somewhere."