An alternative to popular faith
Would someone please help the Wall Street Journal. I have serious concerns about those folks, because for a newspaper focused on finances, they seem clueless about . . . well, finances.
Their 4/12/10 editorial said, “[...] Greece’s predicament resembles that of New York and California [...] New York. California and Washington are on the same path.” Right, as to New York and California. Dead wrong as to Washington.
Not understanding the difference, between governments on a standard and governments not on a standard, has caused endless problems. You see, Greece is on a “euro standard.” Being on a euro standard, gold standard, or on any standard, prevents a government from increasing its money supply when necessary. President Nixon took us off the gold standard, because we were in danger of becoming what Greece is, today — a debtor with no source of money.
Greece’s “euro standard” is functionally identical with a gold standard. To pay its debts and avoid bankruptcy, it must come begging to the European Union or to the International Monetary Fund for loans. Of course these loans are nothing more than a delaying tactic. They must be paid back, with interest. Long term, they cure nothing.
Just to keep up with inflation, Greece and all governments, national, state, county and city, continuously must increase their nominal money supply. They cannot rely on taxes, for taxes do not add money to an economy. They need money coming from outside — either from exports or as gifts from another source.
Since exports are insufficient and unreliable, eventually all EU nations will need gifts from the EU, which will need to create euros out of thin air, just as the U.S. government creates dollars out of thin air.
New York and California are on a “dollar standard,” and so are similarly unable to create unlimited money. In fact, every state, city and county in America is on a dollar standard, and all eventually would go bankrupt were the federal government not to create and give them money.
The U.S. government, by contrast, cannot go bankrupt. It can create endless money to pay its bills. Now that we’re off the gold standard, no federal check ever will bounce. For the EU nations to survive, the EU must act like the U.S. federal government and supply money to its members. There is no other solution. The Wall Street Journal doesn’t understand this.
The Journal’s editorial also says, “The Obama Administration may quietly assume the U.S. can devalue its way out of debt with easy money, but sooner or later the bond vigilantes will blow the whistle on that strategy and raise U.S. borrowing costs, too.”
Where does the cluelessness end? First, because the U.S. can create unlimited dollars, it does not need to devalue the dollar to pay its bills. Yes, there is an advantage for most borrowers to service loans with cheaper money, but that doesn’t apply to the U.S. government, which can service any size loan, no matter how weak or strong the dollar may be.
Second, the “bond vigilantes” can do what they will. The U.S. can pay any interest of any amount. An no, there is no historical relationship between interest rates and economic growth, as Messrs. Greenspan’s and Bernanke’s 20 futile rate reductions taught us.
Third, the U.S. doesn’t even need to borrow. Rather than creating T-securities out of thin air, it simply could, and really should, just create money out of thin air, and omit the borrowing step. Borrowing is a relic of gold standard days.
The Journal’s recommendation: “[..] stop the spending spree [...] stop the tax increases [...]“ In short, they want a balanced budget, which by decreasing the supply of inflation-adjusted, population-adjusted money, is guaranteed to cause a depression.
So, please, please, someone supply the WSJ with a clue, before it’s too late.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell