IMF wrong on QE

Yesterday the IMF released new analysis of Quantitative Easing, specifically in relation to the Euro Area – Euro Area – Q&A on QE. This is in the context of the ECB beginning to discuss the possibility of introducing a large sovereign debt buy-up as the euro-zone inflation rate looks to be close to deflating (negative inflation). Once again, all the financial commentators are rehearsing their usual claims about driving up inflation etc. The reality is the QE will not provide much help for the euro-zone economies which are mired in recession or stagnant, low growth. What is needed are fairly substantial increases in the fiscal deficits in all Member States and none of the neo-liberal ideologues want to face up to that. So, instead, we get these ridiculous debates and analyses of QE – good and bad and all the rest. The IMF is wrong on QE. But then why should we be surprised about that. An apology or admission of error will be issued down the track, notwithstanding that in between all sorts of spurious forecasts about inflation, inflationary expectations and growth will be issued by them.
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    Posted in Economics, Eurozone, IMF | 10 Comments

    Financial elites win with growth and austerity

    I was thinking over the weekend about the concept of post nationalism in relation to the evolution of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in Europe. As I complete my current book project on the euro-zone it is clear that by the end of the 1980s, the European financial and political elites were designing a system that they must have known would undermine the prosperity of their own nations. It was obvious at the time that the EMU would fail badly and so the question arises as to what was motivating them to act in this way. The is where ‘post nationalism’ comes into play. Characters such as Jacques Delors had moved from being a major promoter of French interests within the Franco-German rivalry to pushing the interests of international capital by the time he formed the Committee in 1989 to design the EMU. By then Monetarism, which came out of the American academy, had taken over the policy debate and was usurping national economic interests. The EMU was a major vehicle for transferring national income from workers towards capital interests. It allowed the banksters to reap financial harvests that were unprecedented in history. These ideas, which play out in my book, also links in with recent research published by Oxfam on income and gender inequality.
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      Posted in Economics, Eurozone | 15 Comments

      Saturday Quiz – July 12, 2014 – answers and discussion

      Here are the answers with discussion for yesterday’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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        Saturday Quiz – July 12, 2014

        Welcome to the Billy Blog Saturday Quiz. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention over the last seven days. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.
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          Posted in Saturday quiz | 9 Comments

          Blog lay day

          It is Friday, my blog lay day, so no real blog. I am editing my Europe book in the freezing weather down in Melbourne. The laugh of the week was the Federal governments bungled attempt to get rid of the carbon tax. It will probably go next week and then we will rely on that expert on the environment, Prime Minister Tony Abbott (see credentials overleaf) to lead the way into the future.
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            Posted in Friday | 4 Comments

            Australian labour market – unemployment rate higher than in crisis

            Today’s release of the – Labour Force data – for June 2014 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics is slightly improved on recent months but still portrays a weak labour market. While the participation rate rose, which pushed extra workers into the labour force, employment growth still remained below population growth and so unemployment would have risen without the participation rate rise. The other poor outcome was the decline in full-time employment. Overall, the labour market is scudding along a very flat path and unemployment continues to eke its way up. The unemployment rate topped 6 per cent in June 2014 and is now higher than it was 5 years ago (June 2009) when the worst of crisis was being endured before the fiscal stimulus took effect. That symbolises policy failure.
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              Posted in Labour Force | 1 Comment

              Fact checking the fact checkers is required in macroeconomic matters

              There is a lot of misinformation spread in the media about the fiscal history of Australia and elsewhere. The Australian Broadcasting Commission, for example, has now a “Fact Check” facility where it checks statements made by politicians against the facts. It should apply it to some of its own stories and subject more journalists (including its own) to the scrutiny it imposes on the pollies.
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                Posted in Economics | 5 Comments

                Italy should lead the way out of the euro-zone

                One of the major demands that the Germans made on its partners leading into Maastricht in 1991 was the need for a politically independent central bank that was focused on price stability alone. This was claimed to be essential because it would stop politicians imposing so-called short-termism onto monetary policy (read: caring about people who might be unemployed or otherwise in need of fiscal assistance), which would compromise the inflation fighting process. These unaccountable, unelected central bank boards were then free to do what they wanted and demonstrated a willingness to use unemployment as a policy tool rather than a policy target to ensure economies were as close to deflating as possible, irrespective of what that meant for economic and employment growth. It is, of-course a farce to think that a central bank can be independent anyway either in a political sense or an economic sense. But the neo-liberal hype about independence was to ensure governments could absolve themselves of the public ignominy of rising unemployment and the political costs that went with that, and, instead, blame the central bankers. The bankers had no political constituency to manage or groom and could hide behind the ever-present paranoia about hyperinflation to ‘justify’ their policy approach. But the central bankers are ‘independent’ only when it suits them. Or should we say ‘independence’ is a one-way street. If the politicians dare to comment on monetary policies there is a hue and cry. But central bankers feel they can provide advice to the democratically elected governments whenever they choose and the media hardly blinks. Hypocrisy has no bounds.
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                  Posted in Eurozone | 7 Comments

                  Ireland national accounts and inversion

                  Apparently, the mangy cat that was the Celtic Tiger is about to become the Celtic Tiger again. One of many reports that suggest Ireland is about to have a “here we go again” boom – The mauled Celtic Tiger is ready to roar again (UK Telegaph, July 5, 2014) – claimed last week that while “few Western nations suffered more than Ireland” as the GFC unfolded, it is now “perhaps” about “to stage a convincing recovery”. This statement followed the release of the “latest GDP rebound, driven by a 1.8pc rise in exports over the first quarter and an inventory turnaround”. I am not yet convinced nor should I say was the journalist in question. The so-called recovery is very tentative and domestic demand remains weak. Further, as before the crisis, a substantial portion of the growth is being repatriated offshore to foreign owners of capital. Moreover, a new phenomenon has crept into the picture – the so-called ‘tax inversion’, which makes it harder to disentangle what is actually happening with the Irish National Accounts.
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                    Posted in Eurozone | 4 Comments

                    Saturday Quiz – July 5, 2014 – answers and discussion

                    Here are the answers with discussion for yesterday’s quiz. The information provided should help you understand the reasoning behind the answers. 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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