Tilting At Windmills: The Faustian Folly Of Quantitative Easing

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As I explained in my last post, banks can’t “lend out reserves” under any circumstances, which undermines a major rationale that Central Bank economists gave for undertaking Quantitative Easing in the first place. Consequently, the hope that Bernanke expressed in 2009 is “To Dream The Impossible Dream”:

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

Former Chair of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke listens while US Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew speaks at the Brookings Institution July 8, 2015 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Hey Joe, Banks Can’t Lend Out Reserves

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I began another post critical of Joe Stiglitz’s analysis with the caveat that I like Joe. I’ll add to that that I respect his intellect too, both because he’s very bright—you don’t win a Nobel Prize (even in Economics!) without being very bright—and because compared to some other winners, he is very capable of thinking beyond the limitations of the mainstream.

But there are some mainstream concepts that are so deeply embedded in even highly intelligent, flexible thinkers like Joe, that they continue thinking in terms of them, when a bit of really serious thought would show that the concepts are in fact nonsense.

For Kingston “Becoming An Economist” students

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I’m posting videos of lectures given by my Kingston colleagues to the introductory “Becoming an Economist” course, since the StudySpace software Kingston uses doesn’t support MP4 files. The first is Devrim Yilmaz’s lecture last week on “Data Collection and Presentation”.

My Kingston Inaugural Lecture with slides and data

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I’ve been Head of School at Kingston University London for over 18 months now, but these things do take time: last Wednesday I gave my inaugural Professorial lecture to an audience of about 200 people. My screen-recording video of the talk is below. Click here to download the Powerpoint slides; Minsky crisis model; Minsky Loanable Funds model; Minsky Endogenous Money model; Private Debt levels (6 countries); Private Credit growth (6 countries); USA Private Debt change & Unemployment; Private Debt Acceleration & Asset Prices.

Note To Joe Stiglitz: Banks Originate, Not Intermediate, And That’s Why Aggregate Demand Is Stuffed

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I like Joe Stiglitz, both professionally and personally. His Globalization and its Discontents was virtually the only work by a Nobel Laureate economist that I cited favourably in my Debunking Economics, because he had the courage to challenge the professional orthodoxy on the “Washington Consensus”. Far more than most in the economics mainstream—like Ken Rogoff for example—Joe is capable of thinking outside its box.

But Joe’s latest public contribution—“The Great Malaise Continues” on Project Syndicate—simply echoes the mainstream on a crucial point that explains why the US economy is at stall speed, which the mainstream simply doesn’t get.

The Power And The Impotence Of The ECB

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I’ve attended two conferences in two days where both the power and the impotence of the European Central Bank (EBC) have been on vivid display.

Its political power is considerable, both in form and in substance. At both seminars, the ECB speaker—ECB Board member Peter Praet at the first, and ECB President Mario Draghi at the second—spoke first, and then left. In form, the ECB has no need to defend its policies because it is unimpeachable in its execution of them. In substance, it does not even considering engaging with its subjects—I use the word deliberately—in open and robust discussion.

Lecture05 Why Economists Disagree: The common blindspot on the Environment

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The position of the economy in the environment is a shared blindspot in economics: no existing school handles the topic well, and yet this is the key issue we need to understand. I explain the Laws of Thermodynamics–as well as I could in an introductory class without using mathematics–and provide some links to important topics that students wouldn’t normally hear about in an economics degree.

Click here for the Powerpoint slides.

Becoming An Economist Lecture 4: Post Keynesians

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This lecture covers the Post Keynesian school of thought in economics, focusing mainly on its modern emphasis upon endogenous money, sectoral balances, and Minsky’s Financial Instability Hypothesis. I also show how to do non-equilibrium modeling (using my Open Source modeling program Minsky of course).

Click here to download the Powerpoint slides.

The Unnatural Rate Of Interest (Ultra-Wonkish)

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Paul Krugman’s latest column—“Check Out Our Low, Low (Natural) Rates” (which he didn’t flag as “Wonkish”, even though it is so in spades—noted that the “natural real rate of interest” was falling, and that this justified the low interest rate set by the Federal Reserve.

And this made me think about Karl Marx.

Click here to read the rest of this post.