Tuesday 7 July 2009

Who says "deflation" is the disaster?

The media and politicians would have you believe that "deflation" (by which they mean the price of things, not the amount of money and credit in the economy per the Austrian economics definition) is a complete disaster.

But I ask you, when was the last time you thought "Hmmm, I kinda like it but I just wish I could pay 2% more, maybe I'll wait and buy it next year for that 2% higher price"? I'm guessing never.

No, in truth you are thinking "Neat! I can buy this stuff with 30% off the price I remember last year, now THAT is a bargain!" Right? You can now almost afford a house you actually want (but wait, because you know it will get cheaper still).

So for you, as a consumer of Stuff, "deflation" (price deflation) is a good thing. You can buy more with the money you earn as a wage slave.

Of course, you might lose your job though, if fewer people are out at the shops buying the products and services that you lovingly create for them. Ah. Now, there's the disaster then. If you lose your job, you won't vote for Gordon and his "free lunches" any more. (It was people like Gordon and their "free lunches" that brought on the circumstances in the first place, if you want to stop and join up some dots here.) Bummer.

So, a little bit of inflation is a good thing, and that is why the elite are always hell bent on bringing that about if at all possible. If they can just keep it under control, you can guard yourself against the pernicious theft of your purchasing power through monetary inflation, by just borrowing more and more money and buying more and more tangible goods, ideally ones that will bear an income too, as a store of value that will keep pace with monetary inflation.

"The Rich" never have a lot of money, but they do have a lot of tangibles that produce income, often appreciating in nominal value to keep pace with inflation too, and very often you will find on inspection that they carry a lot of debt in order to purchase and maintain those tangibles. The simple explanation for this strange-seeming setup, is they know that politicians will steal their wealth by inflating the money supply, because politicians will do anything to buy a vote. Certainly including debasing the currency. So the educated rich simply step in front of that process and put the circumstances to their own advantage. (If only I was from an educated rich background, things might be so different! But alas I went to a State Comprehensive, an awful one at that, on a council estate in the back of nowhere. Consequently, I was deliberately not taught about anything relating to money, not even budgetting skills, and have spent most of my life like most people, ignorant and taken advantage of. Just as it should be. I have come to be interested in and study economics purely by fortunate accident, and life has slowly improved ever since!)

My concern is that in the panic to avoid a deflationary spiral into Depression, the people turning the money taps on full-bore will overdo it and will not be able to turn them off in time to keep the cat in the bag. I think inflation will get out of hand pretty quickly, when it does inevitably show up. If that proves to be the case, we will all be wailing and gnashing our teeth, calling for a return of price deflation again, because we can no longer afford to buy enough food, let alone any luxury items that keep each other in paying jobs. We might keep jobs, but the wages we will earn will be significantly outpaced by the rising cost of living. Look to Zimbabwe, where people were in jobs and paid a fixed salary, but in the course of the day they were working prices of the goods they needed to buy at the end of the day to survive had doubled. If they can find them in a shop at all -- smart shopkeepers will hoard goods in inflationary periods, as they will sell for more tomorrow than today, and the money they would have received in return is worth less tomorrow than today.

To put all this another, more succinct way: Price deflation is not great for the economy as a whole. Raging inflation will be far worse.

Aiming to return to moderate inflation is akin to attempting to balance a bale of straw on a donkey's back as you make the trip to market to sell it, in a tornado -- at first it is blowing all over the place and its pretty hard to get enough weight down on the thing to hold it in place securely, then there will be a brief period of calm as the eye of the storm moves into position and you will mistake this for "back to normal" (aka "green shoots"?) so you'll take off all the weights and shackles to let the donkey walk lighter again since you're a regular good guy that's nice to animals and stuff like that, and then finally the back side of the twister will hit with full force and out of nowhere -- the straw will be gone with the wind before you know it, probably the donkey disappears too, and you will never get to market. You will be left with nothing. Bit of a bitch, huh?

No comments:

More commentary at the Facebook page

Visit the page to find more news, commentary and community... (Like the page and you'll also see comments on links above - jus sayin.)

Twits can also apply here...