There has been some very interesting data and other research published recently that allow us to more fully understand what is driving the current inflationary pressures. There is a massive lobby now pushing the idea that the central bank bond-buying programs and the rising fiscal support during the pandemic are responsible. This sort of narrative is coming from the mainstream economists who are suffering attention-deficit disorders (even though they get the top platforms all the time to preach their views), and, who in the last few weeks have become increasingly vehement and personal in their attacks on Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). Their actions are a sign that the cognitive dissonance is getting to them and they realise they have been left behind. But the evidence that is continually coming out across a number of indicators continues to reaffirm my view that the current inflationary spikes are being driven by the total abnormal circumstances the world has found itself in as a result of the pandemic. The usual institutional and structural drivers of an inflation – which were certainly prominent in the 1970s – seem to be absent at present. I will present further research next week on this topic as I build further evidence.
It’s Wednesday and I am working on other things today, which need finishing. But today we saw once again why the Australian Labor Party is a disappointment. They regularly frame the economic debate in neoliberal terms, which make it harder to break out of the mainstream narratives. But, today, they even go social policy wrong and will support legislation that allows religious organisations (schools etc) to discriminate against gays and trans people under the platform of ‘religious freedom’. The legislation allegedly is designed to stop non-religious people saying bad things about Pentecostal extremists. But it just enshrines the rights of religious characters to inflict damage on others. And the Labor Party is supporting it. Spooky – which brings in my music feature today.
It’s Wednesday and a ‘blog lite’ day but there was an important speech delivered by the Governor of Australia’s central bank today that reveals the reasons that the RBA is once again refusing to be bullied into increasing interest rates rises by the ‘markets’. It is almost comical to observe the ludicrous self-importance that the ‘markets’ are exhibiting at the moment. Every day there is a new article or segment on the finance reports about how the ‘markets’ are going to win the battle against the RBA, who will buckle soon on interest rates. Well, yesterday the RBA didn’t buckle and they made fools of the ‘markets’. Remember the ‘markets’ is just a collection of economists who work for financial institutions that make more profits when interest rates are higher. It is no wonder they are always demanding higher rates. That is what vested interests are about. And for the media to just continually give them a platform, especially the national broadcaster, is a disgrace. Anyway, the ‘markets’ lost out yesterday and the RBA clearly doesn’t think that interest rate rises cure Covid and make trucks go faster.
It’s Wednesday and I am flat out finalising writing commitments and my teaching responsibilities at present. I have also been doing a lot of media interviews given the inflation release yesterday. People are believing the nonsense coming out in the financial press that inflation is ‘out-of-control’ and interest rates need to be hiked to stop it in its tracks. How will increasing interest rates allow a Covid sick truck driver to return to work any quicker? How will a rise in rates, increase the number of container ships in the right locations? Etc. It is tiresome to be sure. Today a video, some information about my university classes that we are making available to the general public (starting later today), and then some post minimalism.
Last week (January 20, 2022), Eurostat released the latest inflation data – Annual inflation up to 5.0% in the euro area – which followed the release from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics data (January 12, 2022) – Consumer Price Index Summary , the latter, which shocked people, given that it recorded an annual inflation rate of 7 per cent before seasonal adjustment. The Euro area inflation rate over the same period was published as 5 per cent. It is obviously hard to see clearly through the data trends given the amount of pandemic noise that is dominating. But I stand by my 2020 assessment (updated several times since) that we are still seeing ephemeral price pressures as a result of the massive disruption the pandemic has caused to production, distribution and transport systems. In a sense, I am surprised the inflationary pressures have not be greater.
It’s Wednesday and so some short discussion and news then some jazz, the latter being the highlight. I read an interesting research paper yesterday from the – Conseil d’Analyse Économique (CAE) – which is an French-based organisation that brings together professional researchers “to enlighten the government’s choices in economic matters by comparing points of view and analyses”. It operates under the authority of the French Prime Minister. Its latest public report under its – Focus – series – The effect of COVID certificates on vaccine uptake, health outcomes, and the economy (published January 18, 2022) – presents some very interesting empirical results pertaining to the impact that the enforcement of Covid vaccination certificates has had on the rate of vaccination uptake, on health outcomes (short-term) and on GDP growth rates. I consider the research (methods etc) to be credible and the results are in accord with an array of evidence that other researchers are coming up with.
It’s Wednesday and I have been digging a bit into what appears to be a growing coalition opposing lockdowns, mask wearing, vaccine rules, and vaccinations in general. The claims are that none of these things work and that the economy is better off without them. I am not writing today about these matters (I have in the past) but rather about the nature of these coalitions. One of the things that has held back progressive causes in the past is the tendency of social democratic type interests to adopt the mainstream macroeconomics, which not only limits what they can do but exposes them to accusations that the government will run out of money and cause inflation if they have ambitious programs. The pattern of progressive interests aligning with non-progressive voices is thus not new. I am seeing it again in the context of the public health debate, which, in part, explains why our world is in such a Covid-mess. It isn’t all bad today – there is some nice music to finish, being Wednesday.
It’s Wednesday and a shorter blog post, which includes the latest from Turkey and some music. The mainstream narrative against Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) has been ramped up significantly in recent weeks as a result of events in Turkey, where, up until yesterday, the currency had depreciated significantly. The screams for interest rate rises from bankers etc (of course! they profit or protect foreign debt exposure) have been deafening. But the most recent monetary policy decision was on December 16, 2021, when the CBRT reduced its policy rate (the one-week repo auction rate) from 15 per cent to 14 per cent. The ‘markets’ can’t really get a handle on the current government’s thinking because it is running against the mainstream in several ways, including cutting rates to reduce inflationary pressures (see Press release on Interest Rates – from the CBRT). Overnight a big swing happened after the government made a significant fiscal policy announcement. That will further confound the markets who were forced to scramble to close out short-selling positions as the lira appreciated by around 25 per cent in one day. The fiscal squeeze worked. You couldn’t make this stuff up.
It’s Wednesday so not much today. I offer some comments on the latest data release from Germany (not good) and the probability that the new German finance minister will be anything other than a dangerous dud. An announcement about the edX MMTed course (coming back). And then Blind Willie Johnson serving up Great Depression angst.
Given my inflation report yesterday, I have shifted my usual Wednesday light blog post day and music feature to today. The economic debate has moved in recent years from ‘when is the government going broke’ to ‘hyperinflation is approaching’. It amazes me how puerile the economic commentary is as journalists and economists seeking headlines trot out headlines about how bad something (insert: insolvency, inflation, whatever is the latest craze) is going to be and what needs to be done about it. Nothing much happens in the real world and they keep their jobs and begin the next mania. Replay. And so it goes. It seems though that within this fictional world, that masquerades as informed economic commentary, subtle changes are underway. Governments worked out that during the GFC, the only weapon they had that would save the system was fiscal policy. They also worked out that large-scale bond buying by their central banks complemented the effective use of fiscal policy and didn’t deliver all the maelstrom that the mainstream New Keynesian textbooks predicted. The pandemic has accentuated that. And now there is this sort of stand-off between the ‘markets’ that were given too much latitude in the pre-GFC period and governments. The market players, who have become accustomed to manipulating government policy to ratify their speculative bets, which delivered massive profits to the hedge funds and the like, are now confronting central banks and treasuries that actually have power and cannot be bullied into delivering such policy ratification. That is progress and interesting to observe.