Given yesterday’s detailed monetary policy analysis, I am using today to present an array of news items and some brief analytical thoughts on central bank monetary policy. The latter is based on a very interesting speech that the governor of the Bank of Japan gave in Nagoya earlier this week. The juxtaposition with the way the Western central banks are behaving at present is stunning. There is also some self promotion and some announcements. Then we get to listen to Ron Carter. A good day really.
It’s Wednesday and I use this space to write about any number of issues or items that have attracted my interest and which I consider do not require a detailed analysis. The issues discussed may be totally unrelated. Today, I provide my response to yesterday’s decision by the Bank of Japan to vary its Yield Curve Control (YCC) policy, which some commentators are frothing about. The change was very minor and is not a sign that the expansionary position of the Bank is shifting significantly. I also discuss the culture of denial in the US State Department and then rock out to come classic swamp.
Given I wrote a detailed CPI analysis yesterday (Wednesday), I am using today as if it was my Wednesday post where I cover a range of topics. I was criticised on social media last week for combining in last Wednesday’s post – Launching the CofFEE Financial Resilience Barometer – Version 1.0 (October 18, 2023) – scientific material (the research project results) with commentary on the current situation in the Middle East (and music etc). I was accused of trying to drum up traffic to the research site by including an unrelated discussion on a topical matter (the situation). The point is that in my usual Wednesday post I just roam free and write about all manner of topics that I have thought about in the previous week and which I don’t want to devote a full post too. I don’t play games such as clickbait etc. Anyway, today, I promote a video of a long interview I did in September that has just been released, talk about some framing issues and provide the usual musical segment to calm us all down.
It’s Wednesday and while there is a lot to write about, I am prioritising the release today of our latest research at the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE). The release of what we are calling the – CofFEE Financial Resilience Barometer – Version 1.0 – is part of a research collaboration I have with Professor Scott Baum at Griffith University. We have Australian Research Council funding for the next three years to explore regional resilience in the face of economic shocks, particularly after the massive disruptions from the Covid pandemic. Today we release the first output of that research. I also consider other matters today and the usual Wednesday music segment comes with a song from a leading Palestinian singer.
It’s Wednesday and I spent some time this morning reading the latest IMF – Global Financial Stability Report – in which the IMF pretends to know what is going on in the world economy based on a set of erroneous assumptions about how that economy functions. But the data it provides is interesting in itself. Of interest is that fact that Australian households now have the highest debt-servicing ratios in the world as a consequence of record levels of debt and rapidly rising interest rates. What is generally overlooked in these discussions, however, are the circumstances in which the debt rose so much in the first place. In this post, I explain, among other things, how the obsessive pursuit of fiscal surpluses combined with labour market (in favour of the employers) and financial market deregulation (in favour of the bankers) in the 1980s and beyond, created the conditions whereby households could really only maintain growth in consumption expenditure by significantly increasing their indebtedness and running the saving ratio into negative territory. The legacy of that misguided shift to fiscal austerity lives on. Later in the post I make a brief comment about the Middle East and then we listen to some music.
It’s Wednesday and I have a few observations on a few things today. I have written before about how the rising interest rates in many nations, far from being deflationary, have demonstrably increased inflationary pressures. The two pathways that this impact occurs are: one, the boost to wealth among creditors coupled with significant proportions of fixed-rate mortgages provide the equivalent of a fiscal boost, and, two, the direct impact on costs to firms via their overdrafts and on landlords. The former just pass the unit cost rise on to consumers, while the latter increase rents, which feed into the CPI. But I have also been tracing another negative outcome from the interest rate hikes – the impact on investment in renewables. Here are some notes on that followed by some music with a renewable energy theme.
I read an article in the Financial Times earlier this week (September 23, 2023) – How do we raise trillions of dollars to fight the climate crisis? The answer is staring us in the face – which was written by former British Prime Minister and Chancellor Gordon Brown. The article is really just a promotion for a soon to be released book he has co-authored with characters from financial markets and mainstream economics. While purporting to be a solution to the climate challenges facing the world, it falls into the ‘progressive’ mainstream trap of coming up with just another ‘tax the rich’ plan.
Today, I am heading to the airport for travel to Japan. For the next several months I will once again be working as a professor at Kyoto University as part of the research team concerned with integrating the macroeconomic principles in Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) principles into a broader framework to build national resilience in the face of climate change, demographic challenges, transport and housing challenges and more. So from tomorrow I will be in Kyoto and depending on commitments my blog posts might be a little less regular although I think I will be able to continue the usual output. I will have more to say about what we are working on, including the release of a book we have been completing from last year’s collaborations. There is also a major event planned for later in November in Tokyo to launch our latest work. I will provide details later when I know them. We are also talking about hosting an Modern Monetary Theory symposium in Kyoto next April to welcome in the Spring and the cherry blossoms. When I know more I will relate the details here. I am also working on my next book which will traverse the topics of degrowth, the sustainability of capitalism and more. Japan’s shrinking population presents an opportunity to lead the world in reducing the society’s reliance on economic growth and exploring more substantial aspects of human existence. I mapped out that argument in this blog post – Degrowth, deep adaptation, and skills shortages – Part 4 (October 31, 2022). Anyway, until I resurface tomorrow beside the Kamo River, we can listen to some music.
Two items this Wednesday before the music segment. First, we saw the stark ideology of the elites on full display in Sydney yesterday with a property developer demanding the government increase unemployment by 40-50 per cent to show the workers that the employer is boss and redistribute more national income back to profits. For anyone who doubts the relevance of a framework based on underlying class conflict between labour and capital, then this outburst should eliminate those doubts. On the same day, a leading research group in the welfare sector released an update in their series tracing poverty in Australia. It demonstrated a rising incidence of poverty (nearly 20 per cent of the population) and 1 in 6 children living in impoverished conditions. And the profit takers want more of that to enrich (engorge) themselves even further. A shocking indictment of what has gone wrong with this nation.
Several related strands have come together in the last week of work and thinking. Today (September 11, 2023), of course, is a massive day in history and I am not referring to the year 2001. Today marks the 50th anniversary of the overthrow of the Salvatore Allende’s democratically-elected government in Chile by the US CIA and there local puppets under the leadership of General – Augusto Pinochet. I have also been following a trail of the antecedents of the Powell Manifesto (thanks to Jonathan for a tip), which helps understand how the neoliberals infested every institution in the US and beyond. And the Chilean coup d’état in 1973 was followed by – Operation Condor – which together with the coup demonstrated the principle terrorist organisation in the world has been the US government and its agencies. Tracking the Powell trail also took me to old research about the so-called ‘Manne Programs in Economics for Federal Judges’ – which was a program mostly taught by Chicago School economists that indoctrinated US judges into free market economic thinking and has distorted US judicial decisions ever since. And the circle closes when we investigate the role played by the so-called – Chicago Boys – who were Chilean PhD graduates from that school, who went back to Chile and ravaged the prosperity of the people with their extreme neoliberal ideas. All interlinked events on the path to global neoliberal domination. History is worth studying and it is striking how interrelated all these things are that have come together in my work the last week or so.