Thursday, October 30, 2014

Base Money Growth less the Cost of Base Money, and Real GDP

Yesterday's graph showed the FedFunds rate minus the rate of Base Money growth. It went up before every recession. Now I want to turn that graph upside down. I'm taking the rate of Base Money growth, and subtracting the FedFunds rate. So now the blue line goes down before every recession.

Then I added the growth rate of Real GDP to the graph, in red:

There are a couple highs on yesterday's blue line (lows today) that don't lead to recessions -- one in the mid-1980s, and one in the mid-1990s. But looking at the red line here, you can see that real GDP growth actually did slow down in those periods (though in the mid-1990s, oddly, the real growth lows came first).

But more interesting than that...

Think of the blue line as "net" base money growth. Think of the red line as showing real economic growth. Until the mid-1980s, the best real economic growth (red) was well above the fastest base money growth (blue). After the mid-1980s, the best real economic growth is well below the fastest base money growth. (And the graph doesn't show Quantitative Easing!)

So before the mid-1980s, the economy was willing to grow even if base money growth was weak. But since that turning point, the economy has been unwilling to grow even when base money growth is strong.

I'd say that's a significant change. What could have caused a change like that?

My guess would be our growing reliance on credit. The increased use of credit required a faster growth of the monetary base in the late years. But the cost of accumulating debt hindered growth of the real economy. That would be my guess.


Jazzbumpa said...

The first thing that strikes me is that before the mid 80's the two curves have generally similar motion, but after then, it's generally contrary motion.

Two possibilities: either something in Reaganomics changed the relationship, or the apparent relationships are coincident correlations and don't mean much, if anything.

Assuming this is real, other causes are possible: different response in secular disinflation, generally declining effective demand, stagnating real wages, wealth and income disparity, etc.


Jazzbumpa said...

Why did you truncate this part?