There is a comment on one of my posts. It is really off-subject, but since I rarely get comments that aren’t pure spam (I even suspect that the comment in question is cleverly disguised spam), and since it is something that I talk about here on the site, replying to it and bringing it to my readers’ attention seemed like a good option. I don’t do this with all of the comments, just the ones that give me a clear opportunity to get a point across. It is probably bad blogger etiquette to do it at all, but at the moment I am working on several fairly extensive projects so I need a quick and easy post.
Mercadee: We have used both monetary and fiscal policy to battle this recession, and without the Fed’s actions to limit the downturn things would have been much worse. Fiscal policy in the form of the stimulus package, though too little, too late, and too tilted towards tax cuts, also helped to limit the damage to the economy. But when it comes to promoting a faster recovery, both monetary and fiscal policymakers have failed to do enough to help the economy return to full employment.
Me: Wrong! You are suggesting that policymakers should do those things which brought about the bubbles in the first place. What caused the depressions of 1920-1921 and 1930-45, and what made the latter one so long that did not occur in the case of the former? Loose fiscal and monetary policy. Stimulus to fund World War One, stimulus to pay off debts accrued from World War One, stimulus to fund public works projects, and stimulus to fund World War Two. What caused the housing bubble and its burst? The malinvestment that arose from the stimulative monetary and fiscal policy that was supposedly necessary to soften the blow of the dot-com burst, which was itself the result of prior loose policies. And here you are arguing for the same thing again. This time the bubbles are in student loans, car loans, and sovereign debt. It would be fine if there was a never ending series of bubbles that could burst and re-inflate, but there isn’t. Sovereign debt and government bonds are the end of the line. When that bubble bursts it will destroy the dollar, as the bubble and the false confidence it gave rise to is the only thing that has been propping it up. What gave rise to this bubble? There are many factors, and I suspect that, unlike the case of the other bubbles, this one was intended. Whether it is/was the Nixon Shock and completely detaching from a commodity standard; or wars for oil (the first one arguably being World War Two, as evidenced by the events leading up to Pearl Harbor, but perhaps more notable than this being the 1953 coup in Iran); or the creation of Bretton Woods in 1945; or the creation of the Fed in 1913; or the strengthening of the Fed in 1917; or the price controls and confiscation of gold in 1933; or the social programs and public works projects that created the current high levels of National Debt and Unfunded Liabilities, leading to the need to print more unbacked dollars; that is/was the chief cause I know not. And I care not as they are all contributing factors and all were misguided policies. The effects of these policies must be diminished. And similar policies must be prevented.