The inflation conflict

It could be that inflation is at the core of the political divisions on the economy in some industrial countries.

This is because people or organizations that owe money, including governments, benefit from inflation and those who have made loans stand to lose.  It might be useful to make a distinction between money and purchasing power.  Inflation increases  the purchasing power of borrowers and decreases the purchasing power of lenders.

As this is at the core of our well-being we want government economic policies that promote or discourage inflation.  Those who would benefit from inflation want stimulus and an increasing money supply.  Those who stand to lose their savings want austerity and smaller government.

Inflation may be a way of dealing with the one percent but it also catches a lot of people who have worked hard to build up some savings.  It should probably be considered a form of theft.  It is no wonder the victims of inflation have such strong feelings.

It probably doesn’t help for them to hear economists call for inflation to solve debt or economic problems.

It is interesting that when  the representatives of those hurt by inflation get into government they appear unable to get debt under control and frequently increase it.   This may be because they enjoy spending, have friends who need to be rewarded for past support and because they now have to deal with the debt problem.  This may explain the rise of the tea party with its strong feelings of frustration.

The way to deal with the inflation conflict is to aim for price stability. This is probably easier said than done because I figure inflation is built into the way we create money.  For more on this please look at my essay “LETS go to market: Dealing with the economic crisis.”

It may be that inflation is becoming a moot point as it has been going down in spite if attempts to stimulate the economy and increase the money supply via quantitative easing.   Does this indicate some other things we don’t understand are happening in the economy?

This analysis is probably an over simplification as some people may be standing on both sides of the inflation issue and others may change from one side to the other during their lifetime but may not change their politics.

 

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Inflation – another worry

It appears inflation is something else about which to worry.  Two news items: one reporting a doubling of the money supply in three years and the other reporting an increase in the British inflation rate.

With an increase in the money supply and no corresponding increase in the quantity of goods and services being produced something will have to give –  either the velocity, the rate at which money moves through the economy, will have to go down or prices will have to go up.  There have been some indications banks are holding cash and not making loans and therefore the velocity has probably gone down.  It will not be surprising to also see some inflation happening – maybe a lot.  Inflation is one of the ways in which people can lose their savings.

The mitigating factor is that financial institutions are likely suffer some extensive losses over the European debt crisis.  Because banks are the key factor in creation of the money supply this will work to reduce the money supply.

Money supply is a difficult thing to evaluate as there are number of definitions and velocity is impossible to measure.

I’m wondering if my wife and I should go on a shopping spree and max out our Visa card.

Debt write off – a haircut or worse

Here’s another idea to kick-start the American economy – a large write off of consumer debt so that people can start spending again.  If the economic crisis is because our use of resources is unsustainable then this would probably not solve that problem.

Nevertheless,  it is an interesting idea depending upon who would ultimately get the haircut.

Banks and other financial institutions are financial intermediaries in that they act as an in between for people with excess money in their hands and people who need to borrow.  Thus if there were to be a write off of debt it would probably  end up on individual  savers – likely a reduction in pensions and personal savings.

Most of these people are unlikely to willingly see a reduction in their savings and pensions and they have considerable political power.

It is possible many of these people are going to get a haircut or worse, so it might be less painful if it were to be done in an orderly fashion – rather a barber than an executioner.

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