Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Thank God for them billionaires, huh?

Figure me completely ignorant. That way if I know anything at all it's a plus.

I spend almost as much time watching Hinterland as I spend on graphs. The show is set in Wales in the midst of poverty, desolation, and faces full of character. So now I like Wales. Oh, plus the show is filmed twice: in Welsh, and in English. Because in Wales, preserving the native tongue is a big deal. I like that.

At we read:

In 1536, English became an official language in Wales. So Welsh was prohibited to speak in the school and everywhere. And teachers were prohibited to teach Welsh by the Education Act of 1870. However, the preservation movement of Welsh became active when becoming the 20th century. Therefore, the number of people who can speak Welsh has increased. Now Welsh became an official language as well as English and became a bilingual country. And every signs and the official document are written in two languages.

In two languages: signs, official documents, and Hinterland.

Poverty, desolation, and strength of character. In our time, that's a model of the economy. That's one reason I like the show so much.

So I started looking for economics blogs by Welshmen. Didn't find any yet. I did find Wales Online, a site doing its very best to look rich, promising, and giddy. I much prefer poverty, desolation, and character. Even on a good day.

They link to Forget all the doom and gloom the global economy is in good shape says leading economist Kevin Gardiner. The title is longer than some of my posts! But ... yeah ... I like hearing that the economy is in good shape, especially since my recent prediction of an imminent US boom. So I bit.

First six words of the article? "While another financial crisis is inevitable..."

Second paragraph? "... the global investment strategist for the wealth management division of Rothschild said the world has never been in a better place in terms of the average wealth of its population."

Ah, the average wealth of the population, yeah. Seven billionaires, seven billion people in poverty: On average the world has never been in a better place.

Better for the billionaires, for sure. For global investment strategists at the wealth management division of Rothschild, and people like that. And if they can sucker the rest of us into spending more money, they'll be more than glad to take it.

I guess you caught me on a bad day.

From the article:
Mr Gardiner said: “It is important to keep in mind though that at end of the day economies are driven by underlying things like spare capacity, education, labour and technological process.

“And the economy most of the time grows and the global economy is already larger than it was before the financial crisis.

“And whenever the next crisis does hit, it is important to remember that we will muddle through it somehow.

"Whenever the next crisis does hit" -- ?? When ever? This guy is giddy. Probably why the article ended up at Wales Online.

And another thing. The guy's strongest argument is that "the economy most of the time grows". Yeah yeah, between dark ages. But it's not "most of the time" I'm worried about.

If history repeats itself then the world is cyclical, and if the world is cyclical it is because the economy is cyclical, and if the economy is cyclical, then what goes up must come down. Not today, not in a week, not "whenever", but it must come down. Or at least it certainly will come down unless we know it is likely to come down and we are vigilant in our efforts to prevent it.

You know all those vigilant people worried about the size of government, who want to drown it in a bathtub? Well, people like that are trying to bring it down. And they don't even know it, most of them, I think. (If you want a smaller government, that's fine. But if you think the size and scope of government is the problem, you're an idiot.)

From the article:
And he believes many of the fears that people have, like around debt levels, demographic pressures, deflation and depletion of scarce resources, were overstated.

But he's not talking about demographic pressures, deflation and depletion of resources. He's only talking about debt:

Mr Gardiner said: “If you take debt then for every borrower there is a lender and it does all net off. And in most of the analysis of debt, when applied to larger economies, people tend to forget that.

The man's an idiot. By definition, when one person borrows money from another and promises to pay it back later, both an asset and a liability are created. The fact that the asset and the liability "net off" does not mean there is no problem. Economic problems are not solved by accounting definitions.

The asset side of debt is not usually a problem. Maybe that's what the guy was thinking. But the liability side is obviously a problem when you have a financial crisis, especially when another financial crisis is said to be "inevitable". Besides, when we had the last financial crisis with all those toxic assets even the assets were a problem.

“They tend to think, for example, that the US consumer is horribly indebted and the reality is that the average US consumer is one of the wealthiest people on the planet.

Ah, the average again. The "average consumer" is doing great. Thank God for them billionaires, huh? They bring up the curve for everybody.


Oilfield Trash said...


You seem to like Keen this even has some policy suggestions for private debt reduction.

The Arthurian said...

Oilfield, I saw that one from Keen. It's really good.

One of Keen's section titles in that post is
We are experiencing “Peak Private Debt”, not “Secular Stagnation”

It's important, because "Peak Private Debt" and "Secular Stagnation" are not the same. And you know who else pointed that out? Ken Rogoff!

Thanks for the link. I want to read it again now.

Jazzbumpa said...

“It is important to keep in mind though that at end of the day economies are driven by underlying things like spare capacity, education, labour and technological process."

Mr. Gardiner is a supply sider.

I'd say economies are driven by spending - you know, the demand side. Otherwise all that capacity remains spare, and the educted laborers are at home reading about technology on the internet.


The Arthurian said...

"Mr. Gardiner is a supply sider."

That's it Jazz, you got it. When I read the sentence you quoted, it just struck me as wrong. I didn't know why. But yeah, you got it.

Greg said...

One other thing about his "debts balancing out" line. Its a false construct. Private debt is not money I owe to Art or that Jazz owes to Oilfield it is money owed to banks. When I take a loan from a bank no one elses savings account is debited i.e I am not borrowing what someone else has saved. The bank is creating new credit on the spot. So in fact everyone can be in net debt to the banks ( they are not part of the private sector they are outside of it).

To spin off of Jazzs comment about economies being driven by spending, lending is not driven by prior saving it is driven by present incomes.

The Arthurian said...

"... the banks ( they are not part of the private sector they are outside of it)."

Greg, hey. I like that. I may adopt that. I always try to separate out "finance" from productive capital. You've done it.

So now we have what -- public sector, private sector, and banking sector?

Greg said...

Thanks Art, glad you like that!

So many economists want to analyze banks as if they are just intermediaries in the lending process, as if when I take out a 100,000$ mortgage the source of that money is 10,000$ Art saved(at THAT bank, in many cases), 30,000$ Jazz saved, 20,000$ Nanute saved and 40,000$ that Oilfield saved... and that I am really paying THEM back when I repay and a bank just takes a cut for making the deal happen. Nothing could be further from the truth. Banks are money (credit) creators by them selves. All they need is me to put up collateral and show an income stream that meets their standards. Thats it. In reality I am funding myself and the bank is just charging me to make that happen.