Mitchell’s laws: To survive, a monetarily non-sovereign government must have a positive balance of payments. Economic austerity causes civil disorder. Reduced money growth cannot increase economic growth. Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.

Stephen Gandel wrote this piece for Time:

Is the Government Going to Lower Everyone’s Mortgage Payment?
Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 3:02 pm

It’s been about two weeks since the Obama administration floated the idea of a massive mortgage refinance, and there seems to be little consensus on whether the plan would provide a boost to either the economy or the housing market.

The plan is to allow the millions of homeowners who have government owned mortgages to refinance those home loans at today’s lower interest rates. Lower mortgage payments should make it easier for struggling homeowners to make their payments and stay out of foreclosure. What’s more, a massive refi could also boost the economy. The idea is that if people had to spend less on their mortgage they would spend that money elsewhere, buying cars or shoes or whatever.
Still, a number of economists are giving the plan a thumbs down. The most prominent detractor is Ed Glaeser, an economics professor at Harvard University and a housing market expert. Glaeser says the plan is a poor idea for stimulus because the benefits for homeowners would be spread over 30-years, yet the cost to mortgage investors and banks and taxpayers, which own the loans at what are considered high rates today, would be immediate. That is the opposite of how good stimulus is supposed to work.

As always, the Harvard professors do not understand Monetary Sovereignty. They do not understand that any money spent by the federal government (Is there any in this plan?) does not cost taxpayers one cent. In a Monetarily Sovereign government, federal taxes do not pay for federal spending.

But he’s right about it being a poor plan.

What’s more, Glaeser says lower mortgage rates are unlikely to boost the housing market or even stem foreclosures. Bank analyst Richard Bove says the plan would be a dud because it really doesn’t boost the money in the economy, just transfers it from banks to borrowers.

Bove is right on target. But of course, the government’s idea (really, the Tea/Republican idea — give credit where credit is due) is for the federal government to spend nothing, but magically stimulate the economy. That’s something like filling the water bottle without adding water.

And normally, I would agree with Bove. Normally, if borrowers spend money in the Gap there really shouldn’t be any difference for the economy than if they were sending money to the bank or investors. In fact, the later could be better for the economy because banks or investors could put that money back in to the economy in the form of new loans or investments. But that’s not happening right now. Lending has been on a year and a half slide. And investors are running toward Treasuries, and so far those plunging bond yields have done little for the economy. So right now, putting money in consumer’s hands instead of the banks may make sense.

The problem is the ridiculously low interest rates That is where I disagree with MMT, which says 0% is the “natural rate of interest” (whatever that means.) Historical data shows that contrary to popular wisdom, high rates stimulate, because they force the government to pump interest dollars into the economy.

Lowering the number of foreclosures will boost the housing market. There may be as many as 15 million borrowers in the U.S. who owe more than their house is worth. Lower their payments and you are likely to lower the number of foreclosures. Fewer foreclosures should lead to rising housing prices. And rising housing prices should be better for the economy.


. . . the current recovery is unusual not just for its slow pace of job growth, but also because of the lack of a housing recovery. In the past, housing recoveries have always led more general economic recoveries. That’s not happening this time, and it may be the reason the recovery has been so disappointing.

Yes, that’s one reason, but not the main reason, which is the timidity of the stimulus programs. “Too little, too late” has been the chief characteristic of all federal efforts.

All in all, this plan is typical of Washington politicians. They think our federal government –our Monetarily Sovereign federal government, with the unlimited ability to pay any bill — is “broke” (Boehner’s word), so must cut spending. They want the banks — many of which have gone bankrupt, and none of which are Monetarily Sovereign — to cut their income. It’s beyond ignorant.

And isn’t this eerily similar to Obama’s Mortgage Modification fiasco of two years ago – the one that none of the banks wanted – so they stalled, and stalled and stalled, until perhaps one out of a thousand applicants received a reduced mortgage rate, but all spend countless hours, submitting and re-submitting endless forms and waiting on telephone hold?

Message to Obama: Banks are businesses. Like all businesses, they will do what they feel is profitable. Duh.

How about this, instead: Reduce everyone’s mortgages by the exact amount Obama wants, but have the federal government give the banks that amount, plus a small bonus. So the banks profit immediately and profit again when foreclosures go down, and the economy and consumers gain spending dollars. And no, the taxpayer pays nothing (the federal government does not use federal taxes for spending).

Now there would be a plan that would help the economy (though not as much or as quickly as eliminating the FICA tax. But that’s another story).

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth. Monetary Sovereignty: Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia. The key equation in economics: Federal Deficits – Net Imports = Net Private Savings


Rodger Malcolm Mitchell