This article was written in 2010 after the 2008 Great Recession kicked off. It was my response to commentators who were raising the specter of high inflation and hyperinflation. Instead of inflation we got deflation as many of the boom phase investments were substantially devalued. These malinvestments resulted in a serious contraction of economic activity and lending, and much of the money printing stimulus (euphemistically called “Quantitative Easing”) lay in Excess Reserve accounts at the Fed. Looking back, it’s a good explanation of hyperinflation and is applicable to today’s economy. (more…)
There is a lot of media praise for Thomas Piketty, a French economist and his new book, Capital in the Twenty-first Century. The basic theme of the book is that the rich get richer and everyone else gets poorer. Piketty’s solution is confiscatory taxes on wealth to reduce the amount of capital in the hands of “capitalists”. He believes this will force capital into the hands of more productive members of society such as entrepreneurs and then the benefits will be more widespread throughout society. It’s a mish-mash of failed ideas about capital, labor, inequality, entrepreneurs, free markets, and economic progress. It is “economics lite.”
We have forgotten what money is. Money is easy to understand, but most people have no idea what it is. We all know that barter is an inefficient way to foster economic growth and money is a good thing for the economy. But money isn’t a piece of paper. Here is a fable to illustrate this.