Redefined Terms and Absurd Targets

At one time, the Federal Reserve’s sole mandate was to maintain stable prices and to “fight inflation.”  To the Fed, the financial press, and most everyone else “inflation” means rising prices instead of its original and true definition as an increase in the money supply.  Rising prices are a consequence – a very painful consequence – of money printing.

 

Fed Chair Jerome Powell apparently does not see the pernicious effects of inflation (at least he seems to be looking around… [PT])

Photo credit: Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg

 

Naturally, the Fed and all other central bankers prefer the definition of inflation as a rise in prices which insidiously hides the fact that they, being the issuers of currency, are the real culprit for increased prices.

Be that as it may, the common understanding of inflation as rising prices has always been seen as pernicious and destructive to an economy and living standards.  In the perverted world of modern economics, however, the idea of inflation as an intrinsic evil has been turned on its head and monetary authorities the world over now have “inflation targets” which they hope to attain.

America’s central bank is right in line with this lunacy. According to the Fed’s “May minutes”, it wants

 

“[A] temporary period of inflation modestly above 2 percent [which] would be consistent with the Committee’s symmetric inflation objective.”*

 

Translated into understandable verbiage, the Fed wants everyone to pay at least 2% higher prices p.a. for the goods they buy.

Yes, by some crazed thinking US monetary officials believe that consumers paying higher prices is somehow good for economic activity and standards of living!  Of course, anyone with a modicum of sense can see that this is absurd and that those who espouse such policy should be laughed at and summarily locked up in an asylum!  Yet, this is now standard policy, not just with the Fed, but with the ECU and other central banks.

 

US true broad money supply TMS-2 since 1986. The domestic US money supply has increased by a stunning USD 7.85 trillion since 2008, or more than 150%. This was the by far largest ten-year surge in the US money supply of the entire post WW2 era. Naturally, there have been enormous effects on prices, they have just not shown up in CPI yet. This is in the nature of the process: new money always enters the economy at discrete points and propagates from there. One can certainly see the effects on asset prices, from stocks to real estate (the bubble in RE prices has in the meantime also been resurrected in its entirety). When and to what extent CPI statistics will be affected is not preordained. Experience shows that this tends to happen with a considerable lag. Note also: while money does clearly have a purchasing power that is diminished by money printing,  the “general level of prices” is actually a fiction. It cannot be “measured” or “calculated”, as that would require a constant with which to measure it. Since both the supply of and demand for money and the supply of and demand for goods and services fluctuate, no such constant exists in the real world.  [PT]

 

Economic Quackery

The baneful consequence of this economic quackery is being felt by American workers as admitted by the Labor Department.  Instead of spurring expansion, inflation is eating into and depressing wages:

 

“For workers in production and non-supervisory positions, the value of the average paycheck has actually declined in the past year.  For those workers, average real wages – a measure of pay that takes inflation into account fell – from $22.62 in May 2017 to $22.59 in May of 2018.”**

 

While the decline in nominal wages is not significant, the manner in which the government now calculates inflation has been skewed to understate its impact.  Under the previous calculation, the current US inflation rate is probably closer to 5%. [ed note: different baskets of goods and services are relevant for different people; the “average” of CPI is essentially relevant for no-one. The de facto impossible calculation was frequently altered in the past several decades, with the aim of lowering the government’s COLA expenses – i.e., inflation adjustments to various non-discretionary entitlement spending items – PT]

Wage stagnation is not new.  Average real wages peaked more than 40 years ago and have fallen in real terms ever since.  Not surprisingly, the drop in wages in real terms began soon after the US went off the last vestiges of the gold standard in 1971.

 

Real wages – left: weekly wages of production and non-supervisory workers deflated by CPI; right: hourly wages of the same group of workers deflated by gold prices. Note: weekly earnings are also adjusted by hours worked per week, which have decreased from 38.8 hours in 1965 to 33.8 hours today. Nevertheless, hourly wages deflated by CPI also remain well below the peak attained in the late 1960s. The stark reality is probably better illustrated by deflating wages by gold prices, as this is a market-based indicator. If one uses the true money supply as the deflator, the decline is even larger. [PT]

 

As sound theory has long ago demonstrated, the idea of economic growth through money printing is absurd.  Increases in living standards and real wages can only come about through savings, investment, and capital accumulation.

Workers who have superior tools and equipment are obviously more productive than those that do not. Yet, capital goods have to be produced and production takes place over time.  Savings allow for funding the production process.

The level of wages is also closely linked to savings.  The greater the savings in an economy, the easier it is for entrepreneurs to bid for workers and increase wage rates.  This is how wages rise – competition for labor among businessmen pushes up wage rates. The more savings entrepreneurs have, the higher they can bid for employees.

How and why wage rates rise and how employment is created had been understood by economists of yesteryear.  Today, however, the profession is dominated by “inflationists” and monetary cranks who believe that nearly every economic problem can be solved by the printing press.  Anyone who holds such ideas cannot be taken seriously.

While the Federal Reserve may think an inflation target will create prosperity, the reality for real wages is quite the opposite.  The laws of economic science have not been repealed.  An inflation target will lead to the impoverishment of not just workers, but lower living standards for all.

 

References:

* FOMC, minutes of the May meeting (PDF)

**Jeff Stein and Andrew van Dam, “For the Biggest Group of American Workers, Wages Aren’t Just Flat.  They’re Falling.”  The Washington Post.  16 June 2018 A10.

 

Charts by: acting-man.com, Doug Short/Advisorperspectives, pricedInGold.com; data by St. Louis Fed

 

Chart and image captions by PT

 

Antonius Aquinas is an author, lecturer, a contributor to Acting Man, SGT Report, The Burning Platform, Dollar Collapse, The Daily Coin and Zero Hedge. Contact him at antoniusaquinas[at]gmail[dot]com https://antoniusaquinas.com/.

 

 

 

 

Emigrate While You Can... Learn More

 


 

 
 

Dear Readers!

You may have noticed that our so-called “semiannual” funding drive, which started sometime in the summer if memory serves, has seamlessly segued into the winter. In fact, the year is almost over! We assure you this is not merely evidence of our chutzpa; rather, it is indicative of the fact that ad income still needs to be supplemented in order to support upkeep of the site. Naturally, the traditional benefits that can be spontaneously triggered by donations to this site remain operative regardless of the season - ranging from a boost to general well-being/happiness (inter alia featuring improved sleep & appetite), children including you in their songs, up to the likely allotment of privileges in the afterlife, etc., etc., but the Christmas season is probably an especially propitious time to cross our palms with silver. A special thank you to all readers who have already chipped in, your generosity is greatly appreciated. Regardless of that, we are honored by everybody's readership and hope we have managed to add a little value to your life.

   

Bitcoin address: 12vB2LeWQNjWh59tyfWw23ySqJ9kTfJifA

   
 

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • Pushing Past the Breaking Point
      Schemes and Shams Man’s willful determination to resist the natural order are in vain.  Still, he pushes onward, always grasping for the big breakthrough. The allure of something for nothing is too enticing to pass up.   From the “displays of disbelief, revealing touching old-fashioned notions” file... [PT]   Systems of elaborate folly have been erected with the most impossible of promises.  That prosperity can be attained without labor.  That benefits...
  • The Myth of Capitalism - A Book by Jonathan Tepper
      Crony Capitalism vs. Free Markets Many of our readers are probably aware of the excellent work our friend Jonathan Tepper does for Variant Perception (VP)*****, a financial research boutique that really does bring a unique perspective to the table*. Jonathan (with co-author Denise Hearn) has just added a new book to his résumé, which is going to be released on 12 November: The Myth of Capitalism (MoC) – Monopolies and the Death of Competition** (a link to the official site is at the...
  • Three Cheers for James Riley!
      Going All In All people, of both good and questionable character, share a singular talent.  They excel at taking something that’s tolerable in moderation, and then pushing it to the outer limits of absurdity.  Why live with restraint when you can get radical?   A fairly famous stretch of LA riverbed graffiti... [PT] Photo credit: saber   Public and private debt levels, NASDAQ stock valuations, the federal register, face tattoos, canned energy drinks.  You name...
  • Crumbling Piles of Sand
      Just a Little Avalanche or an Implosion? A few years ago, we briefly discussed the dynamics of sand piles in these pages, which are a special field of study in mathematics and physics (mathematically inclined readers can take a look at two papers on the subject here:”Driving Sandpiles to Criticality and Beyond “ (PDF) and  'Games on Line Graphs and Sand Piles “(PDF) – unfortunately two other studies that used to be available have in the meantime disappeared from the...
  • When Fake Money Becomes Scarce
      Remaining Focused A rousing display of diversions this week assured the American populace was looking every which way but right under its collective nose.  Midterm elections.  White House spats with purveyors of fake news.  The forced resignation of Attorney General Sessions...   Old drug warrior (otherwise recused) on his way home to Alabama...   Sideshows like these, and many more, offered near limitless opportunities to focus on matters of insignificance.  Why...
  • Fun and Profit - Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      While Not Saving The Planet, Let Us At Least Have A Good Time The price of gold went up seven bucks, and that of silver rose eight pennies. For many people, the attraction to gold and silver began with a desire to protect themselves from the monetary train wreck of 2008. That often grew into a sense that gold is the solution to that problem.   The post 2008 GFC monetary train wreck: US true broad money supply is expanded by more than 153% in a mere decade, as the Fed takes...
  • Wizard’s First Rule – Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      The Last to Go Terry Goodkind wrote an epic fantasy series. The first book in the series is entitled Wizard’s First Rule. We recommend the book highly, if you’re into that sort of thing.   An image from the title page of Terry Goodkind's best-selling fantasy epic “Wizard's First Rule”. We'd be at bit wary of standing around on that stone-slab bridge to be honest. [PT]   However, for purposes of this essay, the important part is the rule...
  • US Stock Market - Re-Coupling with a Panic Cycle?
      The Mighty Gartman Investment newsletter writer Dennis Gartman (a.k.a. “the Commodities King”) has been a target of ridicule at Zerohedge for a long time. His pompous style of writing and his uncanny ability to frequently make perfectly mistimed short term market calls have made him an easy target.* It would be quite ironic if a so far quite good recommendation he made last week were to turn into the call of a lifetime (see ZH: “Gartman: 'We Are Officially Recommending Shorting...
  • Roger Barris for Congress!
      Economic Man Threatens to Leave You Alone if Elected This one is mainly for readers residing in that glorious water source for California commonly known as Colorado. In case you are not aware of it yet, Roger “Economic Man” Barris, an occasional contributor to this site, is running for Congress in Colorado on a Libertarian Party ticket. We will briefly explain why you should vote for Roger, but first two pictures:   Roger Barris, Libertarian Party candidate for the House...
  • It's Not That Day Just Yet - Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      Degrees of Urgency Monday was Veterans Day, a bank holiday in the US. The prices of gold and silver dropped $23 and $0.61 respectively. “But isn’t gold supposed to go up when...?”   Warren Buffet and Aragorn discuss what to do with the gold. Aragorn wants it, because he knows that even if it's not today, “that day” will come. [PT]   Why? Because everyone else will bid it up. Why? Because they expect someone else to bid it up. Why? Warren Buffet is...
  • Revisiting the Halloween Effect
      From Crash Danger to End-of-the-Year Ramp   [Ed note by PT: we are unfortunately a week late in posting this issue of SI, which didn't reach us in time due to a technical problem. We decided to post it belatedly anyway: for one thing, the effect under discussion is normally in effect until the end of the year; for another, the statistical validity of this information goes beyond the current year, as it is a recurring phenomenon. Lastly we would note that we have a strong...

Support Acting Man

Item Guides

Austrian Theory and Investment

j9TJzzN

The Review Insider

Archive

Dog Blow

350x200

THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

Realtime Charts

 

Gold in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Gold in EUR:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Silver in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Platinum in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

USD - Index:

[Most Recent USD from www.kitco.com]

 

Mish Talk

 
Buy Silver Now!
 
Buy Gold Now!