With austerity seemingly not working to resolve economic problems and the apparent success of Abenomics and recent announcements that there may be thousands of earth like planets, it may be time to have a second look at Paul Krugman’s proposal for governments to start preparing for an alien invasion from outer space. On second thought, the consequences of launching into a major stimulus program may be worse than the slim chance of an invasion.
As there are two sides to the economy, financial and real, we should look at both of them.
On the real or physical side we need to look at two things – resources and labor reducing technology as the goal of stimulus would be economic growth and full employment.
For there to be economic growth there will need to be an increase in the quantity of goods and services we produce. The limit on services may not be clear but regardless of the service economy we all need physical things to survive. The production of more goods will require more mineral and energy resources and that could be a problem. There are lots of resources left in the earth’s crust but we have used up the most accessible and those that are left are difficult and require a lot of energy to extract. That could be a limit on further economic growth.
So what would be the consequences of attempted stimulus on the resource base? Probably more energy would be required leaving less for other things and probably we would bring forward the timing of a major economic collapse.
Another limit on full employment is labor reducing technology of which we use a lot. Here I see two questions: How is the freed up time to be used and who is to make that decision. Personally I enjoy reading, thinking and writing this weblog and I enjoy wood turning. I don’t want Paul Krugman telling me and others that we have to spend a lot of time preparing for an alien invasion. We now have the technology that most people don’t need to spend most of their lives “working”. I would like to see some sort of universal income scheme which would allow individuals to decide what they want to do with their time.
On the financial side of the economy stimulus means two potential problems – inflation or a financial crash. A government stimulus program would be trying to increase the production of goods and services. With limited potential for growth this would put upward pressure on prices. With all the excess money supply which central banks have been pushing into the economy I wouldn’t want to rule out hyperinflation.
The other potential financial problem is another crash within the banking system. The way we create money is a Ponzi scheme which has to crash from time to time. If inflation doesn’t get us a crash will.
I fear that Krugman was only half-joking. He wants governments to undertake a massive stimulus program and I fear that could bring forward a major economic collapse.
Austerity appears not to be working either and it is causing problems for lots of people, especially the young. The challenge then is to find a third way and at this point I must refer you to the essay “LETS go to market: Dealing with the economic crisis” on this weblog.
Oh, oh. Did I just see an armed flying saucer go by my window?