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Sunday, September 18, 2011

A World Central Bank

the creation of an International Monetary Policy Committee composed of representatives of major central banks that will report regularly to world leaders on the aggregate consequences of individual central bank policies.
While this is still recommendatory in nature, it has pricked a few ears already. The implied loss of sovereignty is the usual contentious issue. However there are a few issues.

The global nature of banking and finance implies that regulatory and policy mechanisms be equally global. Such realities compel a kind of global cooperation that may not work without appropriate legal support. The financial system, in this regard, has become similar to international navigation, global climate or such other global systems.

The legal support, possibly in the form of treaties accepting the global policy direction, may indeed reduce the sovereign freedom a nation enjoys.

A solution, I believe, will be to create a global monetary policy with a new two-level global currency system. This system should allow the national central bankers to create a monetary policy based on  specific national requirements.

The global currency to signal confidence in national monetary policies. Each national currencies will be valued in terms of a global currency based on various factors. One of the factors will be their alignment with global monetary policy. Thus a country that has a relatively expansionary policy will see a currency devaluation. 

Such system incorporates, to my mind, the benefits of a gold based currency system while limiting (or possibly eliminating) its deflationary effects.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Limits to total capital in the system

One of the implication of the crisis is that there is a limit to total capital in the system. While the statement is simplistic, it has more sophisticated underpinnings. In a sense, we collectively found that there is too much capital in the system and too little stock of assets, goods, services etc (hereafter simply referred as assets and goods) to show for it.

Clearly at some point we realized that our stock of assets and goods contains too many derivatives  and too few real assets and goods. At such point the capital locked in or residing in some of these derivatives (the bad ones specifically) was under risk. Economists would call this misallocated capital. This capital should have evaporated in a true capitalist system so as to keep the Darwinian selection mechanism healthy.

Yet, what happened was transfer of this mal-investment to government and hence to public shoulders. By virtue of the fact that governments cannot be obliterated, the capital must also continue to burden us till the government sees light of the day.

Whatever the reality, the crisis does indicate a threshold for level of capital in the global economy where things are at equilibrium. The questions are many. 

How can decipher the exact amount of capital stock existing in some secular value terms? How can the world estimate the collective stock of assets and goods to correspond to this stock of capital?

My book "Subverting Capitalism & Democracy" is available on Amazon and Kindle.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Importance of Jobs and certainty

The recent US job report had zero new additions. In that context, I would like to discuss a briefly about importance of jobs and certainty.

Time and again I have emphasized that it is the certainty rather than specific level of income that is important objective of stimulus. Any stimulus directed elsewhere is of little significance. Thus, tax breaks, cash-for-clunkers kind of programs have little meaning as tools of stimulus. Both, as the population is aware of their limits, create an incentive to save the gains rather than kick start the consumption engine.

Jobs, specifically long term permanent jobs, are indicators of certainty of income available to the population. 

It is also possible for the economy to add transient jobs in large numbers. In other words, there would be a high turnover. Such a situation will have high uncertainty and high job creation at the same time. Thus, I presume, the impact would be similar to tax-breaks or cash-for-clunkers type of program. 

The real point of improvement of the economy will be when permanent job addition bottoms out and starts rising. At such point the consumption engine will restart sustainably. This process will happen eventually if economy is left to its own devices. The objective of stimulus is to hasten the process.

A debt-ridden economy take a little longer to reach the bottom after permanent job addition has bottomed. The time lag is explained by the debt repayment that takes place subsequent to job addition. A debt restructuring program can hasten this process. HAMP and other programs can be classified in this family.

Now intelligent readers will note that unless BOTH things happen we won't see noticeable recovery in the economy. I hope the political intelligence catches on this reality.

My book "Subverting Capitalism & Democracy" is available on Amazon and Kindle.