Central banks are the devil. They are like drug dealers except they administer regular doses of supposedly legally prescribed barbiturates to their addicts. The 'easy money' or 'credit' they create is an opiate and like all addictions there is a payback for the addicts, one exacted only in loss of health, misery and death.
The economic system is an addict, but that system is comprised of banks, corporations, non-profit organisations, small businesses all of which are communities. And what comprises communities, us, human beings - individuals. We are the addicts.
Popular economic academia understates human action in the economic equation of money. It is human preferences that determine our desire for goods and services and so in turn really determines the utility of money. Sadly the desire of the State to control money and administer it like a drug has left our economies unproductive and incapable of standing on their own two feet.
Our reliance on 'easy money' as facilitated by credit has become terminal. Like drug users we continue to attempt to find a heightened state of Nirvana. We continue to hark for the utopian days prior to the eruption of the post 2008 crisis, even though our well-being was fallacious and based on an illusion of wealth paid for by credit - a creditopia. The abuse of credit is what defined the Great Financial crisis and one that still defines our economic system and one which will define a much worse crisis to come.
Central bankers have begun a concerted effort to fight the global debt problem which has been stifling growth as tax revenues merely serve to finance debt servicing rather than addressing the repayment of principal outstanding. Omnipotent governors, Bernanke, Carney, Draghi, Svensson and Iwata or Kuroda (either are likely to replace Shirakawa) are to take a far more aggressive and activist role in pursuing a new framework for growth and inflation by seeking an alternative way to conduct monetary policy. It's called Nominal GDP Level targeting and it is in our opinion as significant a moment as Volcker's appointment to the Federal Reserve governorship in 1978.
Many will recall Volcker's moment was to engineer a swift monetary contraction and deceleration of the money velocity to try and reign in excessively high inflation and stabilise growth. It worked. Today we are witnessing an ‘Inverse Volcker’ moment, whereby the opposite is likely true.
The question remains are they all still ‘inflation nutters' as Mervyn King, the BoE Governor glibly referred to those central bankers who focussed solely on inflation targets to the potential detriment of stable growth, employment and exchange rates.
Are central bankers merely expanding the boundaries of monetary largesse by focusing on a broader mandate and merely evolving the singular variable approach of inflation targeting or have they finally found a solution to eradicating boom bust business cycles? This is a question we need to answer as we are currently witnessing a Central Bank Revolution which could portend severe consequences for prices in our economies - and all the attendant misery that comes with very high inflation.
Nominal GDP Level targeting advocates believe they have a plausible case for a change of mandate by central banks and one which is being gradually adopted, but we believe that like central banks they have misdiagnosed the cause of the crisis by failing to examine the impact of credit creation in our global economy.
Money matters less credit matters more.
Global economies are still credit driven and Keynesian counterfeiting has merely arrested the collapse. The maintenance of heightened credit levels by financing of deficits with 'easy' money is beginning to see prices and output rise in the short term. In the long run only higher prices will remain whilst growth stagnates. A classic monetarist conclusion.
Hinde Capital has provided a long and consistent discourse on the relationship between credit and growth. Policymakers by now may well grasp that sustainable growth is not possible as nations still have an overreliance on credit-based sectors, namely the F.I.R.E. sectors, (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate). This is an understatement as all sectors are now directly or indirectly underpinned by this false mammon called credit.
Once upon a time merely altering the levels of money in the economic system could help an economy expand and contract without creating excessive levels of inflation both in asset, goods and service prices. However as this fiat currency regime has grown older so has the ability of central bank policy to contain large swings in the business cycle.
It is our contention that central banks feel they need to maintain the balance of credit in the system as it currently stands by adjusting the money supply and monetary velocity (MV) but by doing so they merely circumvent the necessary adjustment in the economic system that comes about by market failure. If they don't allow this failure then any attempt to influence MV will only lead to higher prices (P) at the expense of output (T) in the famous monetary equation MV=PT.
Central Bank's Checklist Manifesto
At Hinde Capital we have attempted to codify both our objective and subjective observations of asset classes over the years and have naturally migrated to a checklist routine to eliminate any behavioural biases that lead to a misdiagnosis of events before an investment decision.
Full Hinde Capital Insight below...