The Biggest Problem the World Faces: No Stable Unit of Account

Here’s the best way to put it: Quantitative Easing (QE) is like saying that simply feeding a guy will make him exercise more. It doesn’t. It just makes him more fat (inflation). On the other hand, someone who is working out and growing muscle (ie, a metaphor for a growing economy) does need to be fed more (i.e. in economic terms this is the time to increase liquidity) or else his body won’t have the energy or building blocks to create the new muscle (i.e., analagous to derailing a growing economy by raising interest rates and choking it.) Either way, whether we have growth or recession, we can’t win. And that’s why we have continual crisis after crisis, at a time in our Civilization’s history when there should instead be a Cornucopia of Abundance for all and a Golden Age.

The sole mandate of the Federal Reserve, or any “Central Bank” should be to keep the supply and demand of liquidity (a fancy word for money) in balance. If there’s too much supply in relation to demand, then you get inflation. And this is the ONLY cause of inflation. They would have you believe that growth causes inflation, and that inflation is somehow a ‘natural’ occurence. But growth in no way causes inflation. Because growth causes an increase in production as much or even more so than it does in consumption. Growth also causes innovation with increases in productivity and efficiency. They try to make you believe that inflation is a natural occurance so that they can keep their jobs, their huge budgets, and their elevated status in society of some kind of Knights continuously “fighting inflation.”

On the other hand if demand for liquidity outstrips supply, which is the case usually during economic booms, not only does this cause ‘deflation’ but even worse it chokes off the “air supply” of much needed liquidity and kills the boom in it’s tracks. An example of this would be the late nineties economic boom caused by the Internet boom that went suddenly bust in 2000, not because of failed business plans, but because the air supply was cut off. An example of the deflation of that period was when oil hit $10 a barrel.

So, the Federal Reserves actions not only cause and unstable unit of account, they actually cause the downturns and “Financial Crises'” that seem to be a continual part of our lives, which is so ironic considering the times we live in: Technology and Science, whose knowledge and actual physical products are doubling in power and efficiency every 12-18 months, driving productivity increases throughout every area of our economy. Indeed, under such salutary conditions, it should be impossible to have any kind of economic crisis. There must be something that is throwing a monkey wrench, so to speak, in our economy, and unnaturally derailing it.

The biggest problem in the United States and the World is that adding Monetary Liquidity doesn’t stimulate economic activity. It only causes inflation. And through inflation, it actually sludges up and slows the economy even more. That’s the biggest problem that the World faces: is that we don’t have any Standard Unit of Account.

Only three things can increase economic activity: An increased appetite for risk, more work, or more efficiency, which is usually supplied through innovation.

People are only going to work more if there is a financial incentive (unless they are one of the lucky few who love their work so much, that they’d rather be doing that than what they like to do in the free time. This is why a lot of people advise that whatever it is that is your hobby, you should consider making into your career. Or the other famous phrase that’s been used so much that it’s almost lost its meaning: ‘Do what you love.’ Or Joseph Campbell’s famous phrase: “Follow your Bliss.”)

So, basically, the only way to achieve this kind of productivity, is through fiscal policy, reducing the amount of tax upon physical work. Allowing workers to keep more of what they earn.

Increasing productivity through efficiency is intimately tied to innovation, which not always, but almost always is tied to the first part of the equation, which is an increased appetite for Capital Risk. This second part can only be achieved fiscally as well. A decrease or elimination of all unnecessary regulation (ie, regulation that is not helping or protecting the public) and a lowering or completely zeroing out of the Capital Gains tax. Indeed, many Economists believe (Alan Greenspan being one, I think) that the no. 1 impediment to raising the standard of living for all is the Capital Gains tax.

This is not a tax on merely the “Wealthy.” For taxing Capital Gains directly decreases the amount and the rate of innovation in every area of society and the economy, which has a direct impact on the standard of living for all. Also, the Capital Gains tax is applied to every amount. So if a middle class or lower middle class person makes, say $1000 on a successful use of his mind and productive flow of capital into an area of growth in the form of a successful investment, he is taxed the same rate as someone who makes a million. And one could argue that the $300 confiscated from him is more of a discouragement as well as a practical harm, from a day to day living standpoint, than the $300,000 confiscated from the Wealthy person.

And what is more is that it’s the millions of thousand dollar investments that make up a much more huge majority of the nations Capital markets than the few million dollar investments. Whether they are in the form of a stock certificate on Wall Street or a small business on Main.

 

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I wrote a comment to this Yahoo post:
“So true. Monetary “Stimulus” doesn’t stimulate anything except inflation. There’s no evidence of it ever stimulating economic activity or “growth.” The only way to create a runway for growth and jobs is to maintain a stable unit of account, which should be, in fact, the only mandate of a Central Bank. “

5 thoughts on “The Biggest Problem the World Faces: No Stable Unit of Account

  1. Wayne Nesmith

    Solution: Define the UoA as one (1) standard international (SI) gram of gold or better yet, a basket of precious metals as the UoA.

    Reply
    1. Stephen Pickering Post author

      That would work but you couldn’t let the gold be used as currency in commerce. Then there wouldn’t be enough liquidity on a hypothetical “run.” Keep the dollar or any currency tied to gold, either directly, through and exchange window, or indirectly through a different mandate of Central Bank Policy, whereby, the Price of Gold in dollar terms is kept within a tight trading range. The reason the latter is better is because, then Gold becomes a “barometer” for telling Central Banks exactly how much liquidity the economy needs at any given point in time.

      The tragedy of the current policy is that growing economies are the ones that need more liquidity, not slowing ones. And yet since the current Fed Policy is to cut off liquidity at any sign of growth, we are deprived of the full benefits of innovative spurts (such as the internet) as well as subjected to “stagflation” during downturns or periods of low to no growth.

      Liquidity by itself doesn’t stimulate growth. Only innovation and an appetite for risk can do that. And yet, a true growing economy, does need more liquidity, just like a growing body needs more food.

      Reply

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