End Of An Epoch

By Keith Weiner – Re-Blogged From Gold Eagle

“There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”

What the heck did John Maynard Keynes mean by saying this? Overturning the existing basis of society?! Let’s begin by stating something that is both obvious and unpopular. We are living in days that could be called the end of an epoch. The signs are everywhere, and becoming more blatant.

Wealth Inequality

The Left focuses on wealth inequality, because they see one of the signs. The falling interest rate seemingly benefits those who own assets (it does not actually benefit anyone), particularly those who finance assets with dirt-cheap credit. And it harms wage-earners, by incentivizing businesses to borrow cheap to buy capital goods to replace labor.

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Wealth Accumulation Is Becoming Impossible

B Keith Weiner – Re-Blogged From Gold Eagle

We talk a lot about the falling interest rate, the too-low interest rate, the near-zero interest rate, the zero interest rate, and the negative interest rate. Hat Tip to Switzerland, where Credit Suisse is now going to pay depositors -0.85%. That is, if you lend your francs to this bank, they take some of them every year. Almost 1% of them.

A bank deposit comes with a risk. But instead of compensating you for the risk, the bank pays you nothing. So it’s a return-free risk. And worse than that, a negative rate means that you are paying the bank in order to take the risk of lending to them.

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A Wealth Tax Consumes Capital

By Keith Weiner – Re-Blogged From Gold Eagle

It seems one cannot make a name for one’s self on the Left, unless one has a proposal to tax wealth. Academics like Tomas Piketty have proposed it. And now the Democratic candidates for president in the US propose it too, while Jeremy Corbyn proposes it in the UK. Venezuela finally added a wealth tax in July.

A Wealth Tax

So how does a wealth tax work? The politicians quibble among themselves, as if the little implementation details that differ between them are important. But they share the key idea. The wealth taxman is to go to the people who have wealth, and take some. And next year, come back and take more. And so on.

It should be obvious that this is morally wrong. But we want to focus on the economics. To do that, we need to drill down into the nature of wealth. What is wealth?

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The Duality Of Money

By Keith Weiner – Re-Blogged From Gold Eagle

Last week, in Is Capital Creation Beating Capital Consumption, we asked an important question which is not asked nearly often enough. Perhaps that’s because few even acknowledge that capital is being consumed, and fewer tie it to the falling interest rate (perhaps that is because the fact of the falling interest rate is, itself, controversial). At any rate, we showed a graph of Marginal Productivity of Debt.

We said that this shows that consumption of capital is winning the race. And promised to introduce another new concept to explain why.

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Is Capital Creation Beating Capital Consumption?

By Keith Weiner – Re-Blogged From Gold Eagle

We have written numerous articles about capital consumption. Our monetary system has a falling interest rate, which causes both capital churn and conversion of one party’s wealth into another’s income. It also has too-low interest, which encourages borrowing to consume (which, as everyone knows, adds to Gross Domestic Product—GDP).

What Is Capital

At the same time, of course entrepreneurs are creating new capital. Keith wrote an article for Forbes, showing the incredible drop in wages from 1965 to 2011. There was not a revolution, because prices of goods such as milk dropped at nearly the same rate. The real price of milk dropped as much as it did, because of increased efficiency in production. The word for that which enables an increase in efficiency is capital.

Or, to put it another way, capital provides leverage for productive human effort. We don’t work any harder today, than they did in the ancient world (probably less hard). But we are much richer—we produce a lot more. The difference is capital. They had not accumulated much capital. So they were limited to brute labor, to a degree which we would find shocking today.

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What They Don’t Want You To Know About Prices

By Keith Weiner – Re-Blogged From Gold Eagle

Last week, in Part I of this essay, we discussed why a central planner cannot know the right interest rate. Central planner’s macroeconomic aggregate measures like GDP are blind to the problem of capital consumption, including especially capital consumption caused by the central plan itself. GDP has an intrinsic bias towards consumption, and makes no distinction between consumption of the yield on capital, and consumption of the capital per se…between selling the golden egg, and cooking the goose that lays golden eggs.

One could quibble with this and say that, well, really, the central planners should use a different metric. This is not satisfying. It demands the retort, “if there is a better metric than GDP, then why aren’t they using it now?” GDP is, itself, supposed to be that better metric! Nominal GDP targeting is the darling central plan proposal of the Right, supposedly better than consumer price index and unemployment (as Modern Monetary Theory is the darling of the Left).

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Inflation Is Not Under Control

By Keith Weiner – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com

Let’s continue on our topic of capital consumption. It’s an important area of study, as our system of central bank socialism imposes many incentives to consume and destroy capital. As capital is the leverage that increases the productivity of human effort, it is vital that we understand what’s happening. We do not work harder today, than they worked 200 years ago, or in the ancient world. Yet we produce so much more, that obesity is a disease more of the poor than the rich. Destruction of capital will cause us to produce less, and that will mean reverting to a lower quality of life.

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