Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Stagflation is happening right now

Stagflation is happening right now, hiding in plain sight.  The Fed's official policy is to prevent "prices" from adjusting downward.  But this gets into what "deflation" and "inflation" are.  Is any price change inflation or deflation??  No, of course not.  Prices change in a very Microeconomics 101 way - where demand meets supply.  We had a collapse in aggregate demand, and productive capacity (supply) got built around 2006 levels of demand.  So, supply curve shifts right, demand curve shifts left... what do you get?  LOWER PRICES.  Pretty basic.  And makes sense.   Since we have had massive degree of leverage, allowing prices to adjust downward (even a little bit! you've got to love 80-1 leverage ratios...) renders the entire system insolvent (still!).    The economy needs to reset prices lower in order to heal, and the Fed is creating inflation to offset this natural deflation - ironically preventing economic growth, since people DO NOT HAVE THE MONEY TO PAY THE INFLATED PRICES.
Its surreal the Fed sees the way out as attempting to continue to distort the return on capital signal by effectively 'mopping up' the extra supply capacity.  How this results in a more efficient return on capital (capital flowing into productive enterprise capable of expanding the economy, adding jobs, etc) is beyond me.  Also, the historical contexts are important for what 'inflation' will be able to do.  In the other inflationary peiods, there was a stronger relationship between wages and prices (eg, wage price spiral).  The whole point of the global structure now is there is NO pricing power of labor.  So workers in the U.S. saying they need more money to keep up with inflation will just exacerbate the flight of jobs to fascist police states with truly proletarian labor forces (you don't like working for a dollar a day in a 19th century style factory?  GO STARVE IN THE FIELDS YOU STUPID FUCKING PROLE!)

Please infer the circularity in this system - the economy is dependent on the U.S./Western consumer having disposable income.  ALL the dynamics are against this.  The official policy responses to address this actually make it worse, in a direct way.  Rougher seas ahead.

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