–Japan, Ireland, Greece: Facts vs. Mainstream Economists

The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology.

The mainstream economists never change, but my hope is if I continue to demonstrate the inconsistencies of mainstream economics, eventually the word will get to the politicians, the media and the public. Here is a quick sampling of 10/26/10 AP articles:

TOKYO — Japan’s Cabinet approved an extra budget to help finance $63 billion of stimulus spending aimed at spurring the country’s lackluster economy as it battles deflation and a strong yen.”

The CIA’s World Factbook 2010 shows Japan’s Debt/GDP at 189%. According to mainstream economics (aka debt-hawk economics), that Debt/GDP ratio should force a terrible inflation on Japan, and its debt should be “unsustainable.” But Japan is battling deflation, and seems to have so little difficulty “sustaining” its debt. And it will spend an additional $63 billion. See the disconnect?

The same source lists the Debt/GDP ratio for the U.S. as 53% (More recent data from the Treasury shows this to be 66%), far lower than Japan’s. Yet, the debt hawks claim – without any supporting data — the U.S. federal debt must be reduced by raising taxes and/or reduced spending, either or both of which will injure the economy.

But wait, there’s more. According to mainstream economics, all that borrowing should have forced Japan’s interest rates up, which should be bad for economic growth. But Japan’s benchmark interest rate is 0%, as low as it has been in 5 years. The reason: Japan’s benchmark interest rate is not market-derived; it is set by the Japanese government, just as the U.S. Fed Funds rate is set by the Fed.

“DUBLIN — Ireland’s government said it must slash euro15 billion ($20.8 billion) from its annual budgets in a four-year plan designed to bring Europe’s highest deficit back within EU limits.”

The EU demands that its nations have a Deficit/GDP ratio below 3%. However, as Ireland reduces stimulus spending, GDP also will fall. So, Ireland must chase a moving target, in which reductions in the numerator cause reductions in the denominator. Visualize a dog chasing its tail, and you have the EU mainstream economics version of Ireland.

ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s central bank governor says the government must not relent in its planned deficit-cutting efforts but warns against further tax increases, which would deepen the recession.

Just so we understand, tax increases will “deepen the recession” (by removing money from the economy), but deficit cuts, which also will remove money from the economy, are O.K.???

And this is what the science of economics has become.

There are two and only two solutions for Greece and Ireland. Either,
1. Return to Monetary Sovereignty by re-adopting your sovereign currency
2. Have the EU create a true United States of Europe whereby the EU would supply euros to its member nations as needed.

There are no other solutions. Oh yes, and stop demanding that your member nations commit economic suicide.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity. Those who say the stimulus “didn’t work” remind of the guy whose house is on fire. A neighbor runs with a garden hose and starts spraying, but the fire continues. The neighbor wants to call the fire department, which would bring the big hoses, but the guy says, “Don’t call. As you can see, water doesn’t put out fires.”

–The Greek tragedy

An alternative to popular faith

Observe a Greek tragedy, courtesy of the European Union, which insists that Greece reduce its deficit, i.e. reduce its money supply in the face of a recession, where money already is in short supply. This is akin to applying leeches as a cure for anemia.

Read this quote from an article today (2/27/10):

“ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece must take further measures to reduce the deficit or it will face sanctions, Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker (said) . . . Greece has until March 16 to convince EU . . . that proposed measures to cut its budget shortfall this year to 8.7 percent of gross domestic product from 12.7 percent in 2009 are sufficient.

“‘Greece must intensify its efforts and move to further actions to reduce its deficit,’ (said) Juncker, ‘If it doesn’t convince us then it will possibly face sanctions. Greece must understand that the taxpayers in Germany, Belgium or Luxembourg are not ready to fix the mistakes of Greece’s fiscal policy,’ Juncker said.”
(Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; editing by Ingrid Melander and Philippa Fletcher)

The mistakes were not of Greek policy, but of EU policy. The creation of the euro pegged all nations to the same money, exactly what the failed gold standard did.

In short, the EU expects Greece to tax itself into prosperity. Sadly, this may be a perfect test of the debt-hawk theory that cutting deficits benefits an economy. Heaven help the Greeks.

And don’t think it couldn’t happen in America. The debt-hawks control most of the media, politicians and economists. Congress’s and the President’s stated mission to minimize or even eliminate federal deficits, could make the Greek tragedy resemble a musical comedy compared to what would happen here.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell