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The Light Dawns

Written By: - Date published: 9:33 am, January 17th, 2015 - 62 comments
Categories: Economy - Tags:

A complete understanding of great events will often have to wait until well after the shouting and the tumult die away and a longer perspective permits a more objective assessment of what really happened. Even then, though, greater elucidation proceeds at a glacial pace.

Today, we may well find ourselves again at the beginning of just such a process. Just as it took a decade and a Second World War to achieve a broad consensus as to what had really caused the Great Depression in the 1930s, we can now begin to survey the events that led to the Global Financial Crisis, and the response that has been made by orthodox policy to the recession that followed, and to assess them in the light of the accumulating evidence of actual outcomes since those events.

The evidence is surely mounting that the remedies to recession proposed by orthodox policy have failed. The German insistence on austerity, smaller government and eliminating deficits has led directly to the travails of the euro zone and the real threat of renewed recession, with the result that countries like Greece and Spain are in desperate straits and the continued viability of the euro itself is at risk.

The British, despite all George Osborne’s chest-beating, have endured five years of austerity and the longest and deepest recession in modern times. Living standards have still not returned to pre-2008 levels and such prospects as there are for the future rest on an unsustainable consumer boom and asset inflation in the housing market.

The more moderate approach, the relaxed monetary policy and greater government involvement put in place by President Obama have produced, by contrast, at least a partial recovery in the American economy. The comparison compels conclusions that call into question the whole thrust of policy around the globe over the last three decades.

It is not just that neo-classical economics have failed to produce a solution to the problems created by the Global Financial Crisis. It is rather that the policies that were put in place before the GFC – and that we are now beginning to see were responsible for bringing it about in the first place – are now being pursued all over again, with every likelihood that they will produce the same outcomes.

The simple certainties that were the basis of the monetarist revolution that began in the 1980s – that national economies were just like private businesses, that there was little role for government, that the market could safely be left to produce optimal outcomes, that restraining inflation through controlling the money supply could and should be the only goal of macro-economic policy – are now being looked at in a different light.

The questioning is still piecemeal, still nibbling at the edges rather than constituting a full-scale assault, but there is no doubt that future historians will mark this decade as the point when the counter-revolution began. At the heart of that new thinking will be a re-assessment of what monetary policy is and should be about. Already, we see governments (for example, Shinzo Abe’s government in Japan), central banks (even the Bank of England, with New Zealand’s Reserve Bank deserving an honourable mention), and leading academic economists beginning to understand that a monetary policy instrument that is only ever used rather ineffectually to damp down asset inflation is absolutely missing the point.

That can be seen very clearly when we look again at the seminal paper published in the Bank of England Quarterly Review in March last year. That paper conceded (the first such concession made by any major central bank) that 97% of the money in the UK economy was created out of nothing by the banks; a similar proportion would be found in many western economies, including New Zealand.

The whole basis of monetarist policy was thereby revealed to be a charade. Governments may cut spending and impose austerity, and may raise interest rates in a vain attempt to control the money supply (while doing unnecessary damage in passing to investment in the real economy), but the banks go on printing money as though there is no tomorrow. The greater part of that new money is created – not for productive investment – but for house purchase, and all of it for private profit rather than the public good.

This huge increase in the volume of money, most of it directed into the housing market and unbacked by any corresponding increase in real production, has inevitably created a huge asset inflation, a dangerous bias in the economy in favour of speculation and against productive investment, a major driver of inequality between those who own property and those who do not, and an economic policy that is totally ineffective in the hands of governments that do not have the slightest understanding of what they are doing.

As for the banks, their profits soar, the bonuses they pay themselves multiply in size, and their ability to create wealth out of nothing means that the asset bubbles that eventually burst to bring about the Global Financial Crisis are again being inflated as we watch.

How did all this come about? The answer is simple. In the 1980s, financial services were deregulated, governments withdrew from macro-economic policy, banks moved in to displace building societies as the main suppliers of mortgage finance, restrictions on capital movements were removed. The result? The banks discovered that lending on house purchase was hugely profitable and almost risk-free, and that there was in practice no limit to how much money they could create; the only constraint was the presence or otherwise of willing borrowers. While governments strained every sinew to “control the money supply” and their own spending, the banks’ ability to create new money through the stroke of a book entry continued unabated.

A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research in the US of bank lending in twenty countries and over long periods shows an undeniable link between the increase in the money supply (though even these expert authors seem not to quite understand how that increase happens) on the one hand and asset inflation in the housing market and an increased risk of financial crises on the other.

The outcomes of this huge shift in economic power, away from governments and in favour of banks, are felt everywhere in our daily lives – in housing costs, in jobs, inflation, government spending, growth rates, balance of payments. Yet the change is hardly remarked, let alone understood. That is about to change – and not before time.

Bryan Gould

17 January 2015

62 comments on “The Light Dawns ”

  1. coaster 1

    I have always assuned that for a bank to lend money, they must have that money in the first place. Even if they are borrowing it, at some point up the chain someone must have the cash to lend(so to speak). If that is not the case, is that not fraud?. I know it will not be that simple, but can anyone explain in simple terms how a bank could lend money without having any to lend.

      • Colonial Rawshark 1.1.1

        The topic of fractional reserve banking is a good introduction but also quite out of date as almost no retail banks are limited by it any more in actual practice. (The retail banks have no limits on the amount of reserves they can access, due to the central bank handing out as much reserves as the retail banks want, every night).

        Try this as well. It gives you an idea of standard reserve bank monetary operations:

        This explains how monetary policy and inflation targeting was pushed by neoliberals, and finally became more important to governments and central banks than fiscal policy.

    • Colonial Rawshark 1.2

      Warren Mosler explains the concept of Modern Monetary Theory, a very good video.

    • The Murphey 1.3

      Q. What are ‘off balance sheet liabilities ?

      Q. What part do they play in a banks ability to ‘create debt’ ?

      • Colonial Rawshark 1.3.1

        Q. What are ‘off balance sheet liabilities ?

        Normal accounting standards and banking regulations require banks to show on their financial statements (eg the balance sheet) the liabilities which might impair the bank financially. Savers deposits at the bank are counted amongst these liabilities.

        “Off balance sheet liabilities” are liabilities which have been taken by the bank but which are designed to circumvent normal accounting standards and banking regulations. Therefore these items do not appear on the bank’s normal financial statements (hence “off balance sheet). The entire “shadow banking system” (which includes a lot of complex derivatives) has been designed to allow banks to operate in this way.

        Q. What part do they play in a banks ability to ‘create debt’ ?

        The shadow banking system, in addition to allowing banks to wildly speculate on complex derivatives and other highly leveraged financial instruments, provides short term funding for banks allowing them to create more debt, and also provides a channel for the bank to dispose of the risk associated with loans made by the bank (eg through securitisation of the loans). The shadow banking system probably allows banks to do much more (and hide much more) than that but I am not overly familiar with the system as a whole.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.4

      Banking 101 (Video Course)

      That course explains it clearly and is backed by thorough research into the legislation and actual banking practices. The Bank of England Quarterly Review in March last year that Bryan mentioned actually uses the research as a source.

      If you want some really heavy reading that’s based upon NZ legislation you can read Iain Parker’s blog.

      • The Murphey 1.4.1

        Should have put the rhetorical suffix on the questions

        I am familiar with Iain Parker and his excellent body of work he has put together specifically regarding NZ

        Quite incredible amounts of work which Iain has put into the subject and he should be regarded as an ‘expert’ in the field

    • ghostwhowalksnz 1.5

      Because Gould hasnt read the articles properly.

      They do say the Banks create ‘deposits’ ie money in a bank account, but they do qualify it by saying the banks balance sheet ‘may’ have a requirement for offsetting loans from others. Which is where the depositors come in. Plus money from the short term 90 day bank bills.

      If you think about it, why would banks offer interest to depositors if they could ‘create it’ just like that.

      Anybody can create credit. The real problem with banks is that they only have 5-10% of their own money lent out. The rest is borrowed from others.

      A large successful business would never be allowed to go below 50% or so in the amount they can borrow compared to their own money.

      Wall st was even worse, sometimes they were only 2-3% of their own money and the rest borrowed.

      Push the banks up to 15-20% of their own money, all the credit bubble would disappear. Finance companies should be even higher 35-30%

      • Colonial Rawshark 1.5.1

        If you think about it, why would banks offer interest to depositors if they could ‘create it’ just like that.

        You will note that in many developed economies now, banks offer effectively zero or negative interest rates to depositors.

        However in NZ the NZRB’s Core Funding Ratio means that the banks do still have to work to attract retail deposits i.e.

        The CFR currently sets out that banks must secure funding for at least 75% of their lending from equity, retail deposits, and wholesale sources such as bonds (including covered bonds) with durations of at least a year.


        A large successful business would never be allowed to go below 50% or so in the amount they can borrow compared to their own money.

        large retail banks are far more privileged than large retail or manufacturing businesses and a vastly different set of rules and dynamics apply to each.

        • ghostwhowalksnz

          Notice how this demolishes the socalled ‘create money’ hypothesis that Gould mentioned.

          75% of borrowing is at least a year , 25% is less than ie 90 day bills etc.

          What isnt mentioned is that the banks MAKE MONEY by borrowing short from others and lending long .
          Its just a game of being in the middle and borrowing with one hand to lend with the other.

          Its a bit like the other big scam, forex markets. They dont actually buy and sell billions a day of real $NZ.
          Its all done as a speculation in future currency prices. That makes it cheap, you only need a fraction of the money you are speculating on from your own account.
          Same applies to a lot of physical commodities, oil, aluminium, gold etc. Except when the market drops the speculators lose fast and they get out in a hurry as has happened with oil.

          • Naturesong

            You’ve not rebutted the “create money” hypothesis*.

            That a bank may be limited in the amount of debt (money) at a particular time because it has a minimum equity level imposed upon it (to protect it from the people who run the bank), does not invalidate the way they currently operate.

            * not an actual hypothesis – see Money Creation in The Modern Economy

    • No actually, it really is that simple! Money as debt is a 45 minute animation video explaining how money is created and this is confirmed by the bank of England itself.

  2. Clemgeopin 2

    Yet the change is hardly remarked, let alone understood. That is about to change – and not before time

    What are you expecting to change?

  3. Brendon Harre 3

    Hi Brian this is very similar to something Raf Manji suggested before he became a Councillor and Chair of the Finance Committee of CCC. I wrote to him the following.

    I found your 2012 Monetary Dialysis article and comments http://www.interest.co.nz/opinion/59625/monetary-dialysis-has-proven-be-much-more-effective-re-starting-economies-traditional- very interesting.

    I believe there is something not right in the intersection of monetary, currency, international trade policy fields globally. But to be quite frank it makes my head ache. My suspicion is nothing will be done about it until we get a new and better ‘Bretton Woods’ agreement.

    Should NZ get a new type of monetary policy -Monetary Dialysis for instance I still believe NZ needs to undergo urban planning/local government reform so that monetary policy supports the productive economy.

    I believe there is plenty of evidence that supports the argument that currently any temporary gain for the typical/medium income worker through productivity/income increases, government transfer (e.g. Working for Families) or easing of credit conditions (through tradition or new monetary policy -MD) just gets captured by an unproductive rentier class in an inflated urban land rent curve. I believe we are back to the 1840s Corn Law debates, except housing has replaced food as the means of exploitation.

    So instead of concentrating my thoughts on the big end of sovereignty, with issues like monetary policy I am looking at small sovereign units as agents that can prevent exploitation.

  4. Brendon Harre 4

    Re: “The simple certainties that were the basis of the monetarist revolution that began in the 1980s – that national economies were just like private businesses, that there was little role for government, that the market could safely be left to produce optimal outcomes…”

    It is this truth that exposes the problem to be greater than just monetary policy. This is about the quality and nature of all the institutions in society that protects us all.

    I think Bryan Gould is right. The world’s economy is not doing well. Many places are in a place not seen since the 1930s and New Zealand is one economic shock away from joining them.

    We need someone to gather ourselves together, ‘tell us to cut the crap’ and start repairing our society before the bad times swamp us.

    Almost on a daily basis we are being exposed to institutions in our society that we should be able to trust failing in its duty.

    Housing has inflated out of control -$3/4 million in Auckland that is beyond a joke. It is not just a monetary phenomenon. Other supply and demand factors play their part. What is Central and local government doing about it?

    Nurses and managers in a prison let a man die without following basic procedures to ensure proper medical attention was offered. The ombudsman investigated and were fine with it. http://www.pundit.co.nz/content/the-ombudsman-corrections-and-unnatural-deaths-in-prison

    The Christchurch CBD was meant to be rebuild but 4 years later the government agencies in charge have quietly given up on that duty with no explanation. http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/65097936/Land-prices-shrink-Christchurchs-south-frame

    I have made suggestions on this website on how we can improve our situation. The specifics may not be 100% right but we really need to move in this general direction.

    “We may as well kiss democracy goodbye”

  5. r0b 5

    Thank you Brian. This piece should be required reading for every economist, politician and reporter.

  6. It’s a shame so much analysis actually lags behind events when there were those who predicted such events because they understood what would make them happen.

    “The Great Recession was not an Act of God; it was not a bolt from the
    blue; an unpredictable tsunami. It was not a random chance event in
    human development. It was not a momentary blip of instability. It was
    not caused by some outside shock to the stable and smooth path of capitalist
    production, like plague, wars or climate change may have been to
    previous systems of human organisation.
    No, the Great Recession was a product of the dynamics of the capitalist
    system and, as such, was subject to the laws of motion of capitalist production.
    Capitalist production depends on the private appropriation of
    value generated from human labour. Production will not be sustained if it
    is not profitable. This is an exceedingly wasteful and unjust way of delivering
    the needs of society.
    Profitability is the key to capitalist health. The Great Recession came
    about because profitability weakened in the years prior to the slump. There
    were unavailing attempts to keep production going, even when profits
    were waning through excessive credit and borrowing. But that just made
    the eventual bust even greater.”

    or http://bit.ly/1zngvtH

  7. Brendon Harre 7

    This Stiglitz interview is well worth reading. It shows the rise of Piketty inequality can be explained by rising property prices.

    It’s a summary of a new paper of his, “The Price of Inequality”.

    He is looking closely at the rent seekers, specifically the credit fueled land price bubble, as the problem. Capital, itself, is not the main concern, it is the way wealth is captured through induced inflation in assets, primarily land. This process naturally widens the gap between land owners and wage earners.

    The credit aspect is a failure of overall inflation management by the central banks and the rent capture on land is the result of zoning processes (NIMBYs) and the way land is taxed (or isn’t as the Georgists would tell you).


  8. Philip Ferguson 8

    Some stuff on Picketty’s ideas reaching New Zealand; I see now Treasury is getting staff to read the Picketty book:

    The prognosis for the global economy in 2015 seems to be one of continuing stagnation: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2015/01/10/the-world-economy-permanent-stagnation/

    Global pay inequality continues to grow: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/continuing-global-pay-inequality-more-market-failure/

    And in New Zealand, the ‘rock star economy’ is more like some aged, has-been rock star kept alive on steroids and with a painted-on face behind which the bones protrude. And yet this seems to be as good as it gets: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2012/02/08/low-pay-longer-hours-and-less-social-mobility/

    I suppose the question arising from this is Where the hell is the opposition to this crap? Why aren’t people in revolt?


    • Colonial Rawshark 8.1

      The prognosis for the global economy in 2015 seems to be one of continuing stagnation: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2015/01/10/the-world-economy-permanent-stagnation/

      Notice how the crash in oil prices, which is usually assumed to give countries a massive economic boost, is this time not expected to do anything to help the western economy in the slightest.

    • George Hendry 8.2

      Tena tatou katoa. Phil and Draco in particular.

      Homoeopathy. 🙂 Attempted thread derailment? No, but an illustration of where awareness (dawning light/realisation) is at. On TS when it last came up it was ridiculed, ‘Steffan Browning deserved demotion’ etc. Investigate whether it works or not and you soon find a disinformation programme run by Big Pharma.

      Why aren’t we in revolt about neoclassical economics systematically creating the problems it is supposed to be solving? Here again, disinformation programme, well funded, as in by money created not from physical value, but NOT from nothing, but, from something less substantial but equally real – belief in it, as religious as the belief in any god.

      Did these neoliberal policies work and are they working? Certainly, once accepted that what they are aimed at is the opposite to what we have been/are being told. (Isn’t there a highranking politician somewhere in NZ known for lying?)

      That fiat currencies routinely fall over eventually (meaning, people stop believing in them : the belief loses currency) doesn’t mean that currency is inherently untrustworthy but that we need to understand what belief and religion actually are. There are always several currencies (current belief systems) operating (the ‘under the table’ black market being called that mainly to try to put it out of competing with the ‘official’ currency), usually based on real exchange of real and local goods and services, when people know exactly what they are bargaining for and with whom.

      Hidden in the statistics of uncollected tax are signs that the revolution in understanding is quietly being got on with. We will know this when we also realise that homoeopathy works, even when you prefer to call it placebo.

      • DoublePlusGood 8.2.1

        The problem with homeopathy is not so much ‘Big Pharma’ as it is basic chemistry and physics. Unsurprisingly the laws of the universe such as what matter is place certain constraints on how much medical benefit you can derive from absolutely nothing. That fraudsters make large profits out of homeopathy is unsurprising, because human beings love convincing fiction when it comes to areas of insecurity such as one’s health.
        In a perhaps similar manner, the problem with neoliberal economics is the basic reality that the system encourages banks to make vast amounts of money without actually producing anything. The resulting fictional money has nothing substantial to back it up, so the system must eventually collapse.
        That fraudsters make large profits out of banking is unsurprising because human beings love convincing fiction when it comes to areas of insecurity such as wealth.

        • disturbed


          What a lot of dangerous rubbish you speak, let me explain.

          A German physician, Samuel Hahnemann, started homeopathy in the late 1700s to early 1800s

          Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/034164_medical_monopoly_homeopathy.html##ixzz3P7AFXYKR

          It is the “big pharma” that are the fraudsters here with making toxic “Petrochemical” “synthesised” laboratory versions of Homeopathic and natural pharmacy medicines that were handed down for centuries before the 1920’s when Rockefeller and Carnegie bought out the US Universities medical educational Allopathic programs and banned Homeopathic medicines then began the universal education of “Big Pharma” Petrochemical medicines.

          I have been previously chemically poisoned at work, (Chemical over exposures) and now cannot use these toxic “big pharma” “Drugs”.

          Think firstly how come only “Big Pharma: drugs” are subsidised by the taxpayer and not Natural medicines or Homeopathic medicines?

          So because Big Pharma”are the only subsidised all prescription medicines, I as a worker poisoned on the job, now have to buy my own natural homeopathic and natural supplements to stay alive now, so is this a sordid system rigged by big pharma?

          So listen and learn as one day you may need this advice also.

          • George Hendry

            Greetings , Disturbed.

            I had thought of not replying as I might be seen as further derailing the original thread. However…

            DoublePlusGood gives a good example of the basis on which homoeopathy is usually dismissed, which I’d say boils down to ‘science so far can’t explain how it could work, therefore it can’t possibly work (anything submolecular just can’t be there).’

            Perhaps another post on the topic will come up this year in which a fuller debate can be had. Meanwhile it might throw a little light on why economic lies are still being told and believed.

            • DoublePlusGood

              Science has already explained exactly why it can’t work, so you are basically flat out wrong here.

          • Clemgeopin

            Do the homeopathy pills heal most of the human ailments? And does the patient have to have faith in homeopathy for it to work? The concept that ‘greater the dilution’, the better the efficacy of the medicine seems incredible.

            • George Hendry

              Greetings Clemgeopin.

              While I hesitate to continue this subthread as I only mentioned the homoeopathy debate to help illustrate this thread, I will keep trying to draw parallels.

              Over the years I have tried several different remedies, allopathic/chemical, herbal, homoeopathic, natural food for various minor ailments. All have worked sometimes (as in I got better) and all have not seemed to work sometimes. This experience would seem typical – you only find out by ‘conducting your own scientific experiment’ (trying it yourself).

              As traders who introduced technological marvels to colonised peoples knew, the fact that ‘the natives’ had at first no idea how the marvels (eg muskets) worked did not stop them working. I’m sure they seemed as incredible then as submolecular effect seems to some now.

              Is faith needed? I think not – it can be replaced by enough desperation, a sense of having nothing to lose by trying (unless that is actually what is meant by faith). This brings us back to what the government is doing financially, how it’s hurting so many people, how sick of it they are and how sick we are prepared to get of this government before refusing to go on taking their doses.

          • DoublePlusGood

            Science has already explained exactly why it can’t work, so you are basically flat out wrong here.
            Also, those ‘petrochemical medicines’ and ‘synthesised’ medicines work because they actually contain a drug, unlike homeopathy, which is water or a water/alcohol mixture with nothing pharmaceutical in it.
            The concept that synthetic medicines are somehow bad because they were developed by scientists is idiotic. Modern drugs have to be proven to have efficacy before they may be registered. Their side effects are explored in depth, their pharmacology, and their interactions with other drugs are also checked. As a result modern medicine keeps millions of people alive and in greater quality of life far beyond what was true for those living before 1920

            While you apparently have chemical sensitivity as a result of chronic exposure to chemicals in the workplace, your contention that you can only use homeopathy or natural supplements is not an argument that in any way shows some superiority of homeopathy or herbal medicine over actual medicine. For a start, herbal medicines could just as easily trigger your chemical sensitivity, should they actually contain something biologically active. That no such thing occurs perhaps suggests that your homeopathy and supplements are biologically ineffective.

            I recommend to you that you do some research in the fields of chemistry, biology and pharmacology before you continue to repeat the nonsense of anti-science frauds.

  9. Draco T Bastard 9

    It is not just that neo-classical economics have failed to produce a solution to the problems created by the Global Financial Crisis. It is rather that the policies that were put in place before the GFC – and that we are now beginning to see were responsible for bringing it about in the first place – are now being pursued all over again, with every likelihood that they will produce the same outcomes.

    At what point do we consider that those outcomes were, as a matter of fact, the desired outcomes of the neo-liberal revolution? The correct name for neo-liberal is neo-classical and the reason for that is because they’d been tried before and they didn’t work then either resulting in massive recessions, poverty increases and, finally, the Great Depression and WWII.

    Basically, the economic policies that we’ve foisted upon us are complete and utter bollocks and it’s time we threw them out.

  10. Grantoc 10

    With reference to Greece its unfair to imply that there plight is due to Germany’s tight monetary policy.

    The evidence clearly demonstrates that Greece borrowed heavily and spent unwisely on policies that were economically unsustainable prior to the Euro crisis; for instance superannuation for all those over 55 and bloated public sector salaries to name but two examples.

    At the same time the tax system in Greece was being rorted by whoever could get away with it, which appears to have been most tax payers.

    Actual investment of borrowed capital and tax income in the economy was negligible and the economy has shrunk significantly.

    Greece is the victim of its own excesses and poor economic decisions; not of the European/German banks.

    There is an election there soon I understand, and the most popular parties are promising more of the same (Super at age 55 etc) as well as threatening to withdraw from the Euro. If this occurs it’ll be interesting to see what happens in that country.

    • DoublePlusGood 10.1

      Those policies were entirely sustainable, provided they had a functioning tax system. Where they actually collecting the vast majority of tax they should have, government debt would have stayed at sensible levels, and government spending would have assisted their domestic economy.

  11. RedBaronCV 11

    Is anyone aware of ways we could insulate our economy from the policies of the other countries? At the moment any crisis tends to be transfered from state to state very quickly so even if we do not follow some of the more extreme measures we wind up with our population suffering anyway?

    And I’d like to see economists having a measure that reflects policies versus an average adult life span. Given the way we have taken up neo lib we have been in some sort of recession for around 21 of the last 27 years which is a significant part of the adult working lifetime. That has to roll forward intergenerationally.

    • Brendon Harre 11.1

      It is not exactly at the country level you requested RedBaron but metropolitan areas can partially insulate themselves from the unproductive rentier economy of ever rising asset values that Bryan Gould talks about by ensuring they have a better supply response to housing demand. It might not be the whole solution to the problems of bank created credit but I think it is certainly part of the solution.

      This is discussed in this article about how “California’s high housing costs drive out poor, middle-income workers”.


      The Southern and Mid US States that didn’t have booming and busting housing markets pre and post the GFC have not faced the economic turmoil’s of States like California that had this sort of dysfunctional housing market.

  12. Olwyn 12

    I can’t help but see monetarism as a mode of colonisation, and a way of ensuring that no competing system ever again gets the chance to assert itself. Where a real economy thrives, competing systems have a chance. Hence states must rely on borrowing, but may not use it for building their real economy. CV made this comment yesterday:

    Note, upsetting big international capital is a big risk as they can take immediate and detrimental action against a sovereign nation.

    They are inter-related and include

    1) Capital flight.
    2) Crashing the currency (making everything imported from petrol to medicines to consumer goods we do not produce ourselves much more expensive).
    3) Hiking up our borrowing/debt servicing costs.
    4) Pushing the nation into default, unable to access foreign goods or foreign financial markets.

    These are exactly what they are doing to Russia and Venezuela at the moment. Argentina is (again) also not far behind….

    No quick fix for diseases of poverty

    Seeing the light is not enough. A way must be found for removing the levers from the bankers’ hands.

    • Brendon Harre 12.1

      I don’t get why you guys are not supporting practical housing supply measures so house prices don’t inflate and banks don’t profit from ever increasing household debt levels?

      Labour in the true ‘workers’ meaning of the word would be the biggest beneficiaries.

      Why does it have to be something grand like a communist revolution? Or Bretton Wood’s 2.0?

      Why can’t we squash the Epsom type Nimbyism that prevents affordable intensification? Why can’t we do affordable greenfield developments with ‘transit orientated investment for example?

      Why can’t we take urban development away from central government control because the trench warfare of one side demanding only going ‘up’ and the other side only demanding going ‘out’ has consumed to many victims? At the moment the players attempting to retain or wrest control over central government are treating the poorly housed as pawns. When they could immediately ease the burden of those struggling with inflating housing costs by negotiating that responsibility for this is handed down to lower levels of government.

      Properly funded regional and local government that can implement all the transport and urban development infrastructures from locally generated taxation revenues themselves would solve this problem.

      Why do we have to make this issue so complicated?

      • Olwyn 12.1.1

        It is possible to talk about both big picture concerns and immediate practical concerns, such as housing. As I see it they are related. If the banks largely restrict their loans to housing, then people with a bit of equity try to get into housing speculation since there is a shortage of competing sandpits to play in.

        The wretched term “property ladder” gives a normative authority to housing speculation, suggesting that this is the primary reason for houses, and that anyone who merely wants a house to live in is problematic. I do not say that the only answers are Bretton Woods 2.0 or a communist revolution, but in housing too there seems to be a stranglehold that needs to be broken. As you point out, attempts to address the problem are met with a lot of resistance.

        • Brendon Harre

          Yes it is possible. I am not necessarily arguing against Bryan’s contention. Capitalism as we currently configure it seems to be prone to repeatedly over valuing assets -equities in the 80s, high tech companies 90s, urban land/property 00s….. Maybe this is caused by the way private banking works.

          I am just saying that dealing with practical problems in the supply of housing might be easier and faster to deal with.

          P.S I hate the term ‘property ladder’ too

          • Draco T Bastard

            Capitalism as we currently configure it seems to be prone to repeatedly over valuing assets -equities in the 80s, high tech companies 90s, urban land/property 00s…

            Tulips in the 17th century.

            Capitalism hasn’t changed. It almost worked after WWII when we had rampant socialism but even then the need for perpetual infinite growth brought it to an end once productivity far surpassed what the local economies could consume.

  13. aerobubble 13

    Slim kid fat kid. Slim kid gets lazy eays more, fat kid appears.

    Fat kid needs slimming. Cut out lazy reduce intake.

    Solution. deleverage banks, cut bosses who are lazy.

    What does a lazy boss look like?

    Well one that argues to ignorance.

    What is neoliberalism, but a doctrine that came about as a result of wesyern governments having a report dropped on their desks, that huge windfall of cheap
    high energy dense fuel from the middle east was about to hit western economies.

    All bets were off, spevulation and productive investment were in. As moronic
    ecomonism took its hands off the ball, deregulated, delegislated, it become
    more speculation than productive investment. Banks led the charge for
    even higher leveraging, while their political and media arms push the
    parties to take off the safety limits.

    Welcome to 2008. Anyone who now believes in the invisible pink elephant
    of the free market God is a moron. No, free markets are still a credible
    idealized model used by economic professors, but like QM really you need
    to leave it to professors to expain. Every two bit second hand salesman
    spouting neoliberalism should have warned us all of impending disaster.
    Though it should be recognized that torys have alway spoken loudly and
    had little impack since they weren’t the source of growth, innovation, or
    much work as commonly understood, they invariably were the members
    of the speculative class of parasites that still bung up western media,
    politics, universities.

    Its like we realized we have fleas and ignore the lice infestation at plague
    proportion that makes incapable of even getting rid of fleas.

  14. Brendon Harre 14

    For those of you who see the solution is at the big sovereignty level (not my little battalions of sovereignty) there is these two articles to ponder.



    They are about who should have the power to issue new currency. The Reserve Bank or private banks?

    • disturbed 14.1


      National are borrowing $300million a week, the debt when National took over was;

      8 billion and now after six years stands at;
      88 billion.

      Russia does not tie it’s economy to the US dollar so it can print any money it prefers to need, and only suffers when the rubble drops as a result of money printing.

      This makes exports more attractive and imports more expensive.

      Greece will probably benefit from exiting the Euro and use its own currency again, and NZ would be better off doing the same as Russia has already done by dropping being tied to the US Dollar.

      Then again returning to sovereign use of NZ currency and then printing money for domestic use instead of being forced to borrow foreign money, and being forced to sell off all our assets that are generating money for the Government at present.

      Queensland is reportedly halting asset sales if Labour is returned to power later this month in their state elections.

      NZ Dollar is far to high and hurting our exporters, and jobs, so returning to a lower dollar and printing money for building our industry and farming and infrastructure such as rail and roads and health and education as well as housing is the way to go here.

      Sovereignty forever.

  15. Jones 15

    Is it George Osborne’s chest-beating… or best-cheating? Given the sleight of hand tactics financiers and governments utilise throughout the world when it comes to economics and data to support assertions du jour, I think both apply.

  16. Murray Rawshark 16

    I’ve always thought it weird that what’s called monetarism and supply side economics does buggerall to control the money supply, but just takes it out of elected hands and gives it to the banks. It’s privatisation of what’s at the heart of the bourgeois economy, and Labour introduced it. More than any of FJK’s squirrel bullshit, Rogernomics attacked our sovereignty and made it meaningless. Labour gave us FJK, because he thrived in the environment introduced by the Lange regime.

  17. PhilBest 17

    What does Prof Gould and the Standard pundits make of:

    “Escaping liquidity traps: Lessons from the UK’s 1930s escape”

    By Prof. Nicholas Crafts of the University of Warwick:


    He points out that monetary easing in the UK in the 1930′s, WORKED because it had somewhere productive to GO, it did not just go into inflating the price of assets including raw urban land:

    “…….Obviously, for the cheap-money policy to work it needed to stimulate demand – a transmission mechanism into the real economy was needed. One specific aspect of this is worth exploring, namely, the impact that cheap money had on house-building. The number of houses built by the private sector rose from 133,000 in 1931/2 to 293,000 in 1934/5 and 279,000 in 1935/6 – many of these dwellings being the famous 1930s semi-detached houses which proliferated around London and more generally across southern England. The construction of these houses directly contributed an additional £55 million to economic activity by 1934 and multiplier effects from increased employment probably raised the total impact to £80 million or about a third of the increase in GDP between 1932 and 1934. House building reacted to the reduction in interest rates and also to the recognition by developers that construction costs had bottomed out; both of these stimuli resulted from the cheap-money policy.

    Why was house-building so responsive in the 1930s? Two factors stand out. First, the supply of mortgage finance grew rapidly and became more affordable…

    Second, houses were affordable to an increasing number of potential buyers.
    85% of new houses sold for less than £750 (£45,000 in today’s money). Terraced houses in the London area could be bought for £395 in the mid-1930s when average earnings were about £165 per year. Houses were cheap because the supply of land for housing was very elastic which in turn meant that there was no incentive for developers to sit on large land banks. Underpinning the availability of land for house-building was an almost complete absence of land-use planning restrictions which applied to only about 75,000 acres in 1932 – the draconian provisions of the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act were still to come……”

    The Town and Country Planning Act 1947 killed the UK’s automobile-based-development economic booster and stabiliser that should have lasted several decades, as it did in other countries. Ed Glaeser’s recent paper, “Nation of Gamblers”, suggests the significant role that automobile based development played in the unusual new cyclical stability in urban land markets following the 1930′s crash. Of course Auckland’s planners have “done a Town and Country Planning Act” with Auckland too and so has NZ’s other cities mostly. Bill English was right to talk about them “wrecking the macroeconomy”, I just wish John Key National actually had the spine to do the right thing.

    It is a pity that we don’t have a Left intelligent enough to pin the charge of crony capitalist Tories on the current government, given their blatant procrastination on this issue, letting it get harder and harder to attend to due to the growing number of hostages to the racket. I can actually excuse Helen Clark’s government for not really having long enough to get clear on this issue and fix it, even if started on their watch. But a new administration coming in in 2008 and still mucking around in 2014? Utterly inexcusable.

    Mind you, it has taken the Left in the UK 6 decades to produce anything as incisive as THIS:


    Mostly the Left has total faith that “planning” per se can fix anything – meanwhile the fat rentier capitalist class (not the producers) laughs all the way to the bank.

    • Colonial Rawshark 17.1

      He points out that monetary easing in the UK in the 1930′s, WORKED because it had somewhere productive to GO, it did not just go into inflating the price of assets including raw urban land:

      In the 1930s they understood that implementing well designed, ambitious fiscal policy was crucial to both economic recovery from recessions, and fulfilling worthwhile social objectives.

    • Brendon Harre 17.2

      That George Monbiot article is powerful stuff. Go the Scots!

      • PhilBest 17.2.1

        Yeah, it would be great if they ended up positioning themselves as Britain’s Texas…

        There are encouraging developments in Aberdeen; they have replanned their “Green Belt” as “development fingers” and “clusters of green space”.

        The toxic effects of belts or boundaries can be avoided by preserving clusters of space as growth occurs, with superior attainment of the objectives intended in the first place by the Green Belt. Of course it is powerful crony capitalist rentiers that get the worst policy chosen, not the best one.

        • Brendon Harre

          Maybe Scotland will capture the spirit of Adam Smith best known for his two classic works: The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776).

      • Draco T Bastard 17.2.2

        That Monbiot article clearly explains why we need to know who owns what. If we don’t know (and our government doesn’t as it’s admitted it has NFI WTF owns land in NZ) it can’t tax correctly which means that the people who should be paying the most tax are probably paying closer to none.

        • Brendon Harre

          True. The first step in solving a problem is assessing the size of the problem…..

  18. Draco T Bastard 18

    Beyond Wall Street: the encouraging growth of new financial models

    Public banks – those operated in the public interest at local and national levels – demonstrate an important principle of the circular economy. Public banking eschews short-term profit in favour of long-term prosperity, making and returning profits to a general fund for public good rather than moving wealth outside the public system.

    Research conducted by Ellen Brown, author of The Public Bank Solution, shows how public banking systems are responsive to local needs, reduce interest rate costs of infrastructure projects and reduce taxes, while increasing the financial stability of the community served. Revenue circulates within the local, state or national economy, rather than being concentrated among the shareholders of a private entity. While the Bank of North Dakota is the only public bank in the US today, public banking has been around for centuries and models that can be replicated exist all around the world. In Costa Rica, public banking was instituted in 1949 and represents 80% of all retail deposits. These natural systems are stable: in Costa Rica, none of the four public banks have failed in three decades.

    My bold.

    That one sentence tells us of the dead-weight loss of profit. How shareholders, rather than being the boosters to the economy that mainstream economics tells us that they are, are actually the destroyers of the economy.

  19. Lanthanide 19

    This could be eye-opening for some people:

    In total, eventually we are likely to experience a much worse situation than we did in the 2007-2009 period, although this may not be evident at first. It will be only over a period of time, after some of the initial “dominoes fall” that we will see what is really happening. Initially, economies of oil importing countries may appear to be doing fairly well, thanks to low oil prices. It will be later that the adverse impacts begin to take over, and eventually dominate.

    We don’t have much time to fix our problems. In the timeframe we are looking at, the only other solution would seem to be a religious one. I don’t know exactly what it would be; I am not a believer in The Rapture.

    • Brendon Harre 19.1

      This might surprise all those, ‘the world is going to end’ people even more. New Zealand is fine with regard to replacing the energy from oil imports.

      “Mighty River is enthusiastic about using electricity to help power the country’s 2.8 million strong vehicle fleet and the growing contribution of geothermal was key. “What it means is energy independence for the country so we’re not reliant on imports. We’ve got enough consented renewable electricity projects to power every car its average distance and that’s unique globally,” Whineray said.

      He said it was possible to drive four to seven times as far in a plug-in or hybrid car for the same cost using renewable electricity as on petrol.”


      • Lanthanide 19.1.1

        Soon as Mighty River Power unveil their factories capable of producing at least 200,000 electric cars per year to be sold purely into the NZ market at a price of no more than $30,000 new, then what they’re saying will be relevant in the next 10 years.

        Tesla hope to be producing a couple of million a year by 2020. Good luck outbidding the USA and European customers for them.

        • Brendon Harre

          200,000 electric cars a year seems a lot. How many new cars are bought a year in NZ? Maybe NZ makes that many with our abundant energy resources and exports them overseas. Is that what you were thinking? ; )

          The point is for NZ oil is not a limiting constraint because we have readily available alternative renewable energy resources. Maybe battery production or some other resource is a constraining variable for a transition to electric cars. Maybe in that case we transition to old fashion transport modes like electric trains and trolley buses. But Lanthanide you have not proven your argument.

          I would also like to add that NZ’s population is stabilising. We only have a positive growth rate because of immigration. Given a greater focus on recycling there is no reason why NZ society not that different to what we have now would not be sustainable.

          • Lanthanide

            “Mighty River is enthusiastic about using electricity to help power the country’s 2.8 million strong vehicle fleet ”

            Selling 200,000 a year will take 14 years before all of the cars are replaced by electric. That is also assuming the number of cars doesn’t increase over those 14 years. So it would take 7 years at a minimum before MRP would start to make a serious contribution to the transportation needs of NZ, and thats even with this rate of sales that you have said “seems a lot”.

            Of course, much more likely as peak oil bites, is that hundreds of thousands of cars will be abandoned and taken off the road. But that’s a peripheral point to the weird fantasy you’re talking about now.

            “The point is for NZ oil is not a limiting constraint because we have readily available alternative renewable energy resources. Maybe battery production or some other resource is a constraining variable for a transition to electric cars. Maybe in that case we transition to old fashion transport modes like electric trains and trolley buses. But Lanthanide you have not proven your argument.”

            I didn’t actually make an argument, except to show how stupid your statement “New Zealand is fine with regard to replacing the energy from oil imports.” is. Essentially you’re saying “the world isn’t going to end because we’ll all be able to drive electric cars”, ignoring the fact that we aren’t going to HAVE electric cars to drive, even if we did have the electricity. So therefore the world *is* going to end after all, since we won’t have electric cars and that seemed to be the only point you considered…?

            Furthermore, oil is used for far more stuff than just transportation. All plastics are made from it. Most fertilisers are made from it. Roads themselves are made from it. What do you think the roads are going to look like in 20 years time when bitumen becomes unaffordable / scarce?

            “Given a greater focus on recycling there is no reason why NZ society not that different to what we have now would not be sustainable.”

            You need to educate yourself a lot more about what a world without oil means. Here’s a website that will help: http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/post-index/ It is written from a purely scientific viewpoint without hyperbole, handwaving or dire extrapolations. Needless to say there was a significant backlash about the message the site carried, so later posts on the website respond directly to feedback / criticism.

            • Brendon Harre

              Lanthanide. You put up a post discussing peak oil. I put up a post proving energy is not a problem for NZ, we have a plentiful supply of renewable energy. You then said the problem wasn’t energy it was other stuff to do with producing enough electric cars. I said if we can’t produce enough cars maybe we can adapt in other ways. Electric trains, trolley buses, trams, etc. A hundred years ago we were making all these ourselves, can we not do it again? You rejected this idea and put some post up about how perpetual growth is impossible even though I had already stated that population growth in New Zealand has basically stopped.

              It seems to me this doom and gloom stuff has caught you at a deep emotional level beyond rational reasoning. I suspect because of our Christian culture as a society we are prone to ‘the end is nigh’ hysteria.

              While kiwis are focused on hysterical ‘the end is nigh’ beliefs they cannot focus on real practical problems. There really are kids living in garages, kids catching rheumatic fever because they live in over cold, damp, over crowded homes. We need to sort these sort of things out. Not be rentier capital’s excuse for doing nothing.

            • Brendon Harre

              Lanthanide. What would you do?

              Instruct the state to ration resources? Get some central planning authority to manage limited resources?

              Would you start with the planning departments of local government and instruct them to double down on restrictions to stop any new development?

              Come out with what you plan to do. You obviously feel strongly about it.

        • PhilBest

          That’s what people said about cars, period, before Henry Ford got going.

          Expect really cheap, frugal personal transportation vehicles made in the world’s lowest-cost economies within a couple of decades.

          In fact the mode share for motor scooters and motor cycles is already 80% or more in some developing countries, and these are more efficient than mass transit anyway as well as granting the freedom of mobility that enables people to house themselves with some degree of freedom from a landowner oligopoly. Slums are getting more spacious as a result, the equivalent of formal suburban sprawl.

          Why not look on this as a benefit to humanity that we should run with, not try and impose some “square wheels are better” solution?

  20. PhilBest 20

    Good question, Brendon. What Lanthanide needs to explain to us, is what peak oil has to do with urban growth containment policies, social injustice in housing, and wealth transfers to a rentier class.

    Every apocalyptic post-energy movie seems to me to quite correctly portray a future in which cities are merely ruins amidst which civil wars take place between a few of the fittest survivors – the populace that used to be there has died off and a few of them have gone to survivalist encampments out in the country somewhere.

    I don’t think it is intellectually coherent to posit a future “proofed” against resource runout, by apartment blocks and trains for all!

    For one thing, all the jobs that people who work in office blocks and catch trains, actually do now, won’t exist at all. Economies only exist in all their complexity because somewhere upstream of all payments of wages or prices for goods and services, is messy conversion of resources into real wealth. It is pure fantasy, the economic equivalent of perpetual motion physics, to assume a future of employment and provision of essentials for all based on government printing money and everyone writing reports for each other, selling each other financial instruments, making each other coffee and cutting each other’s hair.

    If Peak Oil alarmists were sincere they would be advocating lifestyle lassez-faire now to allow people the freedom to prepare properly. By defending “apartment blocks and trains”, they merely show such a lack of intellectual credibility that they are probably wrong about peak oil, peak energy, resource doom and gloom, and everything else.

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