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Banks gouging super profits, yield curve inversion – nothing good is out there

It’s Wednesday and we have some snippets that really just make way for the music feature. Today, I consider the recent inversion of the US yield curve, which is typically a sign that recession is around the corner. We also learn that while most people are being hit with rising prices and flat wages, the banks are recording record net interest income as a result of their non-competitive, cartel like behaviour. And we wonder how more silly can the Swedish central bank prize in economics become. And then, after all that, we have the music feature to rescue the day.

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Kyoto Report No. 2

This Tuesday report will provide some insights into life in Kyoto for a westerner in the age of Covid. Today, I report on stone fords across rivers, bears, monkeys, and more. All the before and after work action from Kyoto.

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British currency gyrations are about weak government not fiscal deficits

The British government has descended into high farce. It is rather embarassing to watch adults behave in the way they have conducted themselves in the last longtime. I also note that the usual suspects are out in force claiming (spuriously) that the economic turmoil that has beset Britain demonstrates categorically that Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is deeply flawed and the real world is now teaching us that we should be discarded into the dustbin of history – or rather disgrace. These characters, which include so-called progressives think that hard core fiscal rules, like the British Labour Party took into the last election would have saved the day for Britain. I guess they are now mates with the IMF, who in their latest fiscal monitor – Fiscal Monitor – overnight (published October 12, 2022) – called for fiscal restraint. Also, central bankers who met in Washington over the last few days decided they had become the elected and accountable government making gratuitous threats that if fiscal policy wasn’t turned to austerity, they would punish citizens with further interest rate hikes. It is actually hard to find anything of sense in the current economic debate. It is despairing really.

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The Weekend Quiz – October 15-16, 2022 – answers and discussion

Here are the answers with discussion for this Weekend’s Quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.

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Zero trading in 10-year Japanese government bonds signals Bank of Japan supremacy

On July 21, 2022, the Bank of Japan issued this – Statement on Monetary Policy – which outlined that it would continue to use its capacities to implement ‘Yield curve control’, whereby the “Bank will apply a negative interest rate of minus 0.1 percent to the Policy-Rate Balances in current accounts held by financial institutions at the Bank” and “will purchase a necessary amount of Japanese government bonds (JGBs) without setting an upper limit so that 10-year JGB yields will remain at around zero percent”. Further, the Statement noted that “the Bank will offer to purchase 10-year JGBs at 0.25 percent every business day through fixed-rate purchase operations, unless it is highly likely that no bids will be submitted”. The only dissenter on an 8 to 1 vote, wanted even more easing of monetary policy! The BOJ has been implementing its yield curve control since March 2021. In the light of global trends in central banking, the Bank of Japan’s decisions are a standout and show how a sophisticated understanding of the monetary economy coupled with a desire by the Government to improve the lives of ordinary citizens expose the fictions of mainstream economics, which dominates policy making elsewhere.

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Bank of England announces end to propping up corporate greed – sort of!

It’s Wednesday and overnight there has been a Twitter storm, which like most of these Tweet Crazes, is about nothing at all and only serves to embarrass the Tweeters, not that they are aware of the humiliation. I refer to the statements made overnight by the Bank of England boss who reiterated press releases the day before in saying the Bank would not continue to prop up pension funds who had mismanaged their assets. The Twitterati seemingly didn’t really get the point. And while we are on central banking, the former IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard was interviewed in the last few days (I won’t link to it) claiming in relation to the US economy that “the path to avoiding a recession is narrow because the economy is still overheating”. He then concluded that the Federal Reserve Bank “is no longer behind the curve but still has work to do to deal with stubborn underlying inflation pressures”. He thought the Federal Reserve’s funds rate (its policy rate) would go higher than 5 per cent. Planet Not Earth. To keep us on the straight and narrow after those contributions to public discourse, we end today with some piano music. Always a good idea to stay calm and reflective.

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Kyoto Report No. 1

This Tuesday report will provide some insights into life in Kyoto for a westerner in the age of Covid. The city is the old capital of Japan and was spared from the nuclear devastation that ended the Pacific War in 1945 because some US politician decided it was too culturally important to the Japanese (Source). It is a large city (1.5 million residents) nestled in a valley and surrounded by rather high mountains to the north, east and west. I am living near the Yoshida campus of Kyoto University, one of the best higher degree institutions in the world. My house is just near the – Kamo River – which runs north and south through the eastern side of the city.

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US labour market – weaker but employment growth remains positive

Last Friday (October 7, 2022), the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their latest labour market data – Employment Situation Summary – September 2022 – which reported a total payroll employment rise of only 263,000 jobs (further slowdown) and a drop (0.2 points) in the official unemployment rate to 3.5 per cent. Total labour force survey employment rose by just 204 thousand net (0.13 per cent), while the labour force declined by 57 thousand net (0.03 per cent) as a result of the decline in the participation rate of 0.1 points to 62.3 per cent. 4. As a result (in accounting terms), total measured unemployment fell by 261 thousand to 5,753 thousand which is why the unemployment rate fell by 0.2 points. However, while the unemployment rate fell, the combination of weakening employment growth and falling participation is a sign of a faltering labour market. There are also no fundamental wage pressures emerging at present to drive any further inflation spikes. Wages growth appears to be reactive to inflation rather than propelling it. The claim that wage pressures are now pushing inflation is untenable given the data.

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The Weekend Quiz – October 8-9, 2022 – answers and discussion

Here are the answers with discussion for this Weekend’s Quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.

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