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RBA governor apologises for duping Australians – but then says we didn’t read the literature closely enough

It’s Wednesday and I am reverting to my usual pattern of discussing a few items in less detailed form and including some music to lighten the load. Today we consider the apology that the RBA governor issued to mortgage holders that the central bank duped. We also consider the question of what is ‘normal’ in a pandemic. And more.

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Kyoto Report No 8

This Tuesday report will provide some insights into life in Kyoto for a westerner in the age of Covid. I know I said last week’s Report would be the last but I have a couple of more observations in the days that followed. So here we are again for the last report for this year. I will continue the series when I return to Kyoto in 2023.

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IMF continue to demonstrate their neoliberal biases

The IMF published a new blog the other day (November 21, 2022) – How Fiscal Restraint Can Help Fight Inflation – which demonstrates that the organisation is still stuck in a New Keynesian world and despite all the empirical dissonance that has been building over the last decades to militate against that economic approach, little evolution in thinking is apparent. The battle to dispense with the mainstream approach is going to be harder and longer than many thought.

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The Weekend Quiz – November 26-27, 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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The RBA governor jumps the shark

Today we consider how asinine Australian’s monetary policy makers are now sounding. Yesterday, I reported the massive income redistribution that is going on at present as a consequence of central banks now hiking interest rates. This not only favours those with interest rate sensitive assets and punishes borrowers, but also necessitates, under current policy settings that central banks pay millions to trillions of cash to the banks that hold excess reserves. The excess reserves are the consequence of quantitative easing programs. Some might say this is the fault of the QE programs. But an Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) interpretation is that under optimal policy where no public debt is issued at all, the bank reserves would still accumulate. The MMT position would see no support rate paid and a Japan-style zero interest rate regime maintained at the short-end of the yield curve. In that case, there would be no transfers of cash to the banks as a result of their excess reserve holdings. Today, there is more though. On Tuesday (November 22, 2022), the Reserve Bank of Australia governor gave an address (November 22, 2022) – Price Stability, the Supply Side and Prosperity – to the Annual CEDA dinner in Melbourne. He told the audience that we are entering a period of global uncertainty which will require more rapid adjustments in interest rate settings, up and down, to deal with the growing threat of inflation. It was an appalling display of hubris and September cannot come quick enough – when his contract as governor expires.

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Champagne socialists in the banking sector reaping millions from public money

It’s Wednesday, and before we get to the music segment, I document some developments in the banking system which are not receiving much press at the moment. I refer to the fact that the rate hikes now being implemented by most central banks are not just allowing the commercial banks to widen spreads between deposit and lending rates which will generate significant windfall profits for the banks and their shareholders. The increasing interest rates are also delivering massive cash injections to the banks who hold reserve accounts at the central banks. Why? Because the quantitative easing programs from the past have resulted in a massive buildup of excess reserves which are liabilities for the central banks. They are paying support returns on those reserve, which are scaled against the rising policy target rates. So the payments have escalated significantly and delivering a massive corporate welfare boost to the banks while the same interest rate rises are causing hardship to borrowers, especially those on low incomes. And amazing redistribution of income towards the ‘champagne socialists’ all via our central banks.

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Kyoto Report No 7

This Tuesday report will provide some insights into life in Kyoto for a westerner in the age of Covid. This will be my last report as I am returning to Australia at the end of this week. I will return to my work in Japan in 2023 but now have commitments back in Australia. Today, we visit some temples, gardens and textile centres.

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The Autumn Statement – an exercise in absurdity and public harm

First, the Bank of England seems to have abandoned credibility. Not to be outdone, the fiscal policy makers in government have now joined in the absurdity of mainstream policy thinking by reimposing austerity at the same time as the economy heads into recession. Milton Friedman and his gang used to claim the problem of fiscal policy was that it was practiced in a ‘pro-cyclical’ manner, by which they meant that because of time lags involved in implementation, by the time a stimulus to deal with a recession was in place and impacting, the private economy was already on the upturn – so that fiscal policy was working to push the cycle harder in the same direction. They claimed that was inherent to the use of fiscal policy, which rendered it unsuitable for use as a counter-stabilising (-cyclical) measure. The fact that that claim (which is contestable) won the debate in the 1970s is why all the central bank independence nonsense entered the scene and why New Keynesians claim that monetary policy should be the tool of choice to stabilise spending fluctuations. Now, the Tories in Britain are deliberately using fiscal policy in a pro-cyclical way – pushing the already recessionary forces further into the morass. A totally unnecessary and patently dangerous action. It almost beggars belief that they are getting away with this and the Labour Party essentially just offers to tune up the governments ‘violin strings’ a bit.

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The Weekend Quiz – November 19-20, 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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