Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. The Trump Stock Market Trap May Be Triggered - Barry_M_Ferguson
2.Why are Central Banks Buying Gold and Dumping Dollars? - Richard_Mills
3.US China War - Thucydides Trap and gold - Richard_Mills
4.Gold Price Trend Forcast to End September 2019 - Nadeem_Walayat
5.Money Saving Kids Gardening Growing Giant Sunflowers Summer Fun - Anika_Walayat
6.US Dollar Breakdown Begins, Gold Price to Bolt Higher - Jim_Willie_CB
7.INTEL (INTC) Stock Investing to Profit From AI Machine Learning Boom - Nadeem_Walayat
8.Will Google AI Kill Us? Man vs Machine Intelligence - N_Walayat
9.US Prepares for Currency War with China - Richard_Mills
10.Gold Price Epochal Breakout Will Not Be Negated by a Correction - Clive Maund
Last 7 days
The Hottest Sports Stock Of 2020 - 23rd Sep 19
Stocks Wedge At The Edge – Front And Center - 23rd Sep 19
Stock Market Top Almost Confirmed - 23rd Sep 19
Thomas Cook COLLAPSE! 300,000 Passengers Stranded, Flights Cancelled, Planes Grounded - 23rd Sep 19
Massive Stock Market Price Reversion May Be Days or Weeks Away - 22nd Sep 19
How Russia Seized Control of the Uranium Market - 22nd Sep 19
Dow Stock Market Trend Forecast Update - 21st Sep 19
Is Stock Market Price Revaluation Event About To Happen? - 21st Sep 19
Gold Leads, Will the Rest Follow? - 21st Sep 19
Are Cowboys Really Dreaming of... Electric Trucks? - 21st Sep 19
Gold among Negative-Yielding Bonds - 20th Sep 19
Panicky Fed Flooding Overnight Markets with Cash - 20th Sep 19
Uber Stock Price Will Crash on November 6 - 20th Sep 19
Semiconductor Stocks Sector Market & Economic Leader - 20th Sep 19
Learning Artificial Intelligence - What is a Neural Network? - 20th Sep 19
Precious Metals Setting Up Another Momentum Base/Bottom - 20th Sep 19
Small Marketing Budget? No Problem! - 20th Sep 19
The Many Forex Trading Opportunities the Fed Day Has Dealt Us - 19th Sep 19
Fed Cuts Interest Rates and Gold Drops. Again - 19th Sep 19
Silver Still Cheap Relative to Gold, Trend Forecast Update Video - 19th Sep 19
Baby Boomers Are the Worst Investors in the World - 19th Sep 19
Your $1,229 FREE Tticket to Elliott Market Analysis & Trading Set-ups - 19th Sep 19
Is The Stock Market Other Shoe About To Drop With Fed News? - 19th Sep 19
Bitcoin Price 2019 Trend Current State - 18th Sep 19
No More Realtors… These Start-ups Will Buy Your House in Less than 20 Days - 18th Sep 19
Gold Bugs And Manipulation Theorists Unite – Another “Manipulation” Indictment - 18th Sep 19
Central Bankers' Desperate Grab for Power - 18th Sep 19
Oil Shock! Will War Drums, Inflation Fears Ignite Gold and Silver Markets? - 18th Sep 19
Importance Of Internal Rate Of Return For A Business - 18th Sep 19
Gold Bull Market Ultimate Upside Target - 17th Sep 19
Gold Spikes on the Saudi Oil Attacks: Can It Last? - 17th Sep 19
Stock Market VIX To Begin A New Uptrend and What it Means - 17th Sep 19
Philippines, China and US: Joint Exploration Vs Rearmament and Nuclear Weapons - 17th Sep 19
What Are The Real Upside Targets For Crude Oil Price Post Drone Attack? - 17th Sep 19
Curse of Technology Weapons - 17th Sep 19
Media Hypes Recession Whilst Trump Proposes a Tax on Savings - 17th Sep 19
Understanding Ways To Stretch Your Investments Further - 17th Sep 19
Trading Natural Gas As The Season Changes - 16th Sep 19
Cameco Crash, Uranium Sector Won’t Catch a break - 16th Sep 19
These Indicators Point to an Early 2020 Economic Downturn - 16th Sep 19
Gold When Global Insanity Prevails - 16th Sep 19
Stock Market Looking Toppy - 16th Sep 19
Is the Stocks Bull Market Nearing an End? - 16th Sep 19
US Stock Market Indexes Continue to Rally Within A Defined Range - 16th Sep 19
What If Gold Is NOT In A New Bull Market? - 16th Sep 19
A History Lesson For Pundits Who Don’t Believe Stocks Are Overvalued - 16th Sep 19
The Disconnect Between Millennials and Real Estate - 16th Sep 19
Tech Giants Will Crash in the Next Stock Market Downturn - 15th Sep 19
Will Draghi’s Swan Song Revive the Eurozone? And Gold? - 15th Sep 19
The Race to Depreciate Fiat Currencies Is Accelerating - 15th Sep 19
Can Crypto casino beat Hybrid casino - 15th Sep 19
British Pound GBP vs Brexit Chaos Timeline - 14th Sep 19
Recession 2020 Forecast : The New Risks & New Profits Of A Grand Experiment - 14th Sep 19
War Gaming the US-China Trade War - 14th Sep 19
Buying a Budgie, Parakeet for the First Time from a Pet Shop - Jollyes UK - 14th Sep 19
Crude Oil Price Setting Up For A Downside Price Rotation - 13th Sep 19
A “Looming” Recession Is a Gold Golden Opportunity - 13th Sep 19
Is 2019 Similar to 2007? What Does It Mean For Gold? - 13th Sep 19
How Did the Philippines Establish Itself as a World Leader in Call Centre Outsourcing? - 13th Sep 19
UK General Election Forecast 2019 - Betting Market Odds - 13th Sep 19
Energy Sector Reaches Key Low Point – Start Looking For The Next Move - 13th Sep 19
Weakening Shale Productivity "VERY Bullish" For Oil Prices - 13th Sep 19
Stock Market Dow to 38,000 by 2022 - 13th Sep 19 - readtheticker
Gold under NIRP? | Negative Interest Rates vs Bullion - 12th Sep 19
Land Rover Discovery Sport Brake Pads and Discs's Replace, Dealer Check and Cost - 12th Sep 19
Stock Market Crash Black Swan Event Set Up Sept 12th? - 12th Sep 19
Increased Pension Liabilities During the Coming Stock Market Crash - 12th Sep 19
Gold at Support: the Upcoming Move - 12th Sep 19
Precious Metals, US Dollar, Stocks – How It All Relates – Part II - 12th Sep 19

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Invest in the Esports Revolution

Never Mind Their Distrust of Economic Data and Forecasts; Austrians Can Help You Predict the Economy

Economics / Austrian Economics Jul 16, 2014 - 02:26 PM GMT

By: F_F_Wiley

Economics

[O]f all the economic bubbles that have been pricked, few have burst more spectacularly than the reputation of economics itself. – From The Economist, July 16, 2009.

It’s been five years since the The Economist magazine published the critical commentary  excerpted above. In hindsight, the noted reputational damage was neither lasting nor spectacular. As of today, we’d say it’s almost non-existent.


Mainstream economists continue to dominate their profession and wield huge influence on public policies. They merely needed to close ranks after the financial crisis and wait for people to forget that their key theories and models were wholly discredited.

Meanwhile, heterodox economists who stress credit market risks and financial fragilities – the Austrians, the Minskyites – remain stuck on the fringes of the field. It doesn’t much matter that the crisis validated their thinking.

There may be no better example of mainstream economists’ Machiavellian preservation of position than in the cadre of left-wing, Keynesian bloggers led by Paul Krugman. We say “led by Krugman” because he seems to set the tone and tactics that many of his cohorts mimic. If you happen to read a blog post that attacks ideological foes through a combination of ridicule, name-calling and false narratives – such as the absurd claim that all conservatives (alternatively, all Austrians) predicted rising inflation in recent years – it was probably inspired by Krugman.

Readers of this blog know that we would welcome a genuine shake-up in the field. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Colonel Jessup moment – when the code of silence breaks and everyone finally knows the truth?

Lt. Kaffee: “Did you order the Code Red?” Col. Jessup: “I did the job I…” Lt. Kaffee:DID YOU ORDER THE CODE RED?Col. Jessup:YOU’RE GODDAMN RIGHT I DID!”

In other words: we want the impossible. Hollywood endings only happen in Hollywood studios. The real life Jessup would have denied the Code Red, smirked through his acquittal and caught the first flight back to Gitmo. He may have even felt the need to send a message to his troops by ordering another Code Red at the first opportunity. That’s pretty much what we’ve witnessed in the economics profession.

“Mythbusting” the theories of mainstream economists

Nonetheless, we’ll continue to explain why we think a shake-up is overdue. In prior posts, we demonstrated the risks of Keynesian fiscal policies using 200 years of government budget balances and 63 high debt episodes, and by working through the implausible arithmetic in Krugman’s debt reduction formula. More recently, we argued the Austrian/Minskyite position that bank lending is riskier than lending funded by prior savings, and also discussed many economists’ ignorance of the way that bank lending works.

We’ll tie the last two points together here, by taking a closer look at what happens when credit growth disconnects from naturally occurring (not through bank money creation) or “prior” savings.

This time, though, we look further back than the inception dates of the BEA’s National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA) and the Fed’s “flow of funds.” For debt, we include older Census Bureau data recorded in the Historical Statistics of the United States. With adjustments, we can show that the Census Bureau series tracks a similar “flow of funds” series fairly closely during the overlap:

We also look at pre-NIPA savings rates, calculated from data on disposable personal income and consumption:

The earlier savings rates don’t match NIPA exactly because: 1) they’re calculated from different surveys, and 2) they ignore personal interest and transfer payments, skewing the figures higher than they should be. In any case, true savings rates were surely low during the late 1920s – when both consumer credit and durable goods purchases were in bubble mode – and quite possibly even lower than the data in the chart.

Which brings us back to our reason for looking at history – to consider what happens when savings and credit run in opposite directions.  Here’s our answer:

Although there are only two episodes combining low savings with rapid credit growth, the outcomes couldn’t be clearer.

What’s more, quarterly data available from 1952 tells a similar story. With this more complete data set, we can cleanly separate total credit growth into two components:

  1. “Risky lending” financed by bank money creation or foreigners (as discussed in “3 Underappreciated Indicators to Guide You through a Debt-Saturated Economy.”)
  2. Lending from domestic, “non-money” savings (essentially prior savings).

Here’s the chart:

Risky lending tends to peak before lending from domestic, non-money savings, and also before recessions. In other words, once risky lending maxes out, the ensuing weakness feeds into the broader economy.

Moreover, the earlier chart running from the Great Depression to the global financial crisis adds a giant exclamation point to the post-WW2 results. It seems clear that risky lending is a key driver of the business cycle, while extreme differences between lending and savings lead to fully-fledged busts.

Needless to say, our conclusions aren’t exactly mainstream when it comes to economic theory. There’s no place in mainstream models for the idea that money-creating bank lending is any different to lending from prior savings. Nor is there a place for other fundamental features of credit booms, such as the malinvestment that deepens recessions or balance sheets that are unsustainably swollen with debt. Mainstream models don’t include balance sheets, after effects of malinvestment or even the very existence of banks!

To take the most basic steps towards understanding booms and busts, you need to venture outside the mainstream. The Austrian school, in particular, stresses key differences between money creation and lending from prior savings, matching the real world results in the charts above.

About the title

If you happen to show this post to your favorite Austrian economist, we wouldn’t be surprised if you’re told it’s too empirical. The Austrian school’s distrust of empirical research is well-defended by our friend Detlev Schlichter here, and we don’t completely disagree with him. But we do believe that many ideas in economics are reasonably refuted by observing real world happenings, while others are reasonably validated (though never proven). At least that’s how we see it, as you may have guessed from our content.

Think of the show Mythbusters, where all kinds of theories, rumors, adages, movie scenes and more are tested through experiments. While the experiments are often inconclusive, they’re informative enough for the presenters to make a judgment call – is the myth “busted” or not? We take essentially the same approach. Our experiments can’t be controlled, for obvious reasons, and this is the greatest limitation to empirical research in economics. Nonetheless, it shouldn’t prevent us from gleaning whatever information we can from history, and then considering what it tells us about the accuracy of economic theory.

Even Murray Rothbard, we might add in closing, made the occasional empirical argument.

Data sources and Q&A

See “Technical Notes for ‘Never Mind Their Distrust of Data and Forecasts…’.”

F.F. Wiley

http://www.cyniconomics.com

F.F. Wiley is a professional name for an experienced asset manager whose work has been included in the CFA program and featured in academic journals and other industry publications.  He has advised and managed money for large institutions, sovereigns, wealthy individuals and financial advisors.

© 2014 Copyright F.F. Wiley - All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules