06 March 2013

Fiat Monetary Theory: The Gamblers

'The Gamblers'
"The historical behavior of interest rates and growth rates in U.S. data suggests that the government can, with a high probability, run temporary budget deficits and then roll over the resulting government debt forever.

The purpose of this paper is to document this finding and to examine its implications. Using a standard overlapping-generations model of capital accumulation, we show that whenever a perpetual rollover of debt succeeds, policy can make every generation better off.

This conclusion does not imply that deficits are good policy, for an attempt to roll over debt forever might fail. But the adverse effects of deficits, rather than being inevitable, occur with only a small probability."

Ball, Elmendorf, Mankiw, The Deficit Gamble

As with most Ponzi schemes, modern fiat currencies are a matter of degree, belief, and tipping points.

There are always limitations in any system, and in paper money systems the debt must be balanced by real growth and investment, an organic growth that makes the rolling debt burden, which is really the basis of the money itself, sustainable and productive.    That growth must be broadly based in order to support consumption from within the system itself, and this implies income commensurate with increasing productivity.

The failure of every fiat currency has been tied to the abuse of power, in the non-organic use of created money not to increase the productive growth of the economy, but to establish monopolies, cartels, speculation, and of course, aggressive war, all in pursuit of the outsized enrichment of a relative few who define themselves as an elite.

And human nature being what it is, all paper money systems have failed within a few hundred years.

There is a variation of  Fiat Monetary Theory, also known as fiat money, which seeks to distinguish itself by its name in addition to its penchant for sophistry, called Modern Monetary Theory.

This variant eliminates the debt problem by switching from a debt based currency to a pure fiat currency issued directly by the government. The longer term problem of currency revulsion, or the rejection by the people of the stated value of the currency, is resolved by greater use of government force.

The resort to force is a tell tale marker of all ideological cults which are unable to achieve a natural stability and an informed, willing acceptance.  That force may include psychological persuasion including propaganda and ridicule.

We are seeing something like this today in Europe, with the compulsion to enforce austerity as the technocrats and careerists refuse to admit that, that by its very design, the Eurozone is inherently unstable. 

And the reforms required to avert disaster are unthinkable, because they will diminish their wealth and power.   And so they become increasingly desperate and self-destructive.

Since the leaders are naturally superior, it is the people that have failed them, because they did not believe enough, work hard enough, sacrifice enough. And so they must be punished.