Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Great article on the economy state

This article is very informative, and quite possibly the best summary of the current state of the US economic system, and what's likely in store for the next couple of years. It's so good, in fact, that I'm going to quote a section directly:
If monetizing nonfinancial debt were costless, economically speaking, the Zimbabwean economy would be the envy of the world. But, of course, there are economic costs. Monetizing debt means printing money. And printing money ultimately leads to accelerating prices – prices of goods, services and assets. As well intentioned as it may be, the government does not use economic resources as efficiently as the private sector. This inefficiency from government spending worsens the trade-off between aggregate demand and goods/services price increases. And finally, with the Federal Reserve holding the price of credit below its free-market equilibrium, malinvestment, as the Austrian economists say, occurs. That is, the lower-than-equilibrium interest rate structure encourages investment projects that cannot profitably be sustained when the interest rate structure ultimately must adjust upward. When the interest rate structure finally does adjust upward, unprofitable investment projects are abandoned and economic activity slumps.

The only part of the analysis which I'm not sure I agree with is the speculation that the Fed will act to curb inflation once it starts getting out of control by slowing its credit creation. The Fed will have substantial political pressure to allow continued spending regardless of the consequences, and I see no reason to believe they will suddenly start caring about the long-term preservation of the country, its currency, or its economy, after sacrificing all of them repeatedly for so long to keep the party going a little longer. Apparently the Zimbabwean economy is the envy of our political leaders, as they are doing absolutely everything in their power to emulate it.

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