Hey Mogambo Guru, some breaking news. You've been deposed. You're no longer the angriest guy in economics. There's a new champ: leaner, meaner, and angrier...grrrrhh. Who is it? Well, me of course.
So Ron Paul, next time you talk to Michael Nystrom, tell him you were reading MY article, not The Mogambo Guru's. And since, Congressman Paul, you seem to be the only honest person left in politics, I've come up with a simple 5-step plan to make Ben Bernanke cry. You almost did it the other day. I'm hoping this will get us across the finish line.
Step 1: Show graph and ask Dr. Bernanke if it appears correct:
Step 2: Say, "Dr. Bernanke, I understand you are one of the pre-eminent scholars on the Great Depression. In the decade leading up to the Depression, would you characterize the growth of U.S. debt-to-GDP as accelerated?"
[Note to the reader: The correct answer is YES.]
[Note to Congressman Paul: In case he avoids the question, I could make another graph to answer it for him. Please call our mutual friend Michael Nystrom if you'd like me to make it.]
Step 3: Say, "Dr. Bernanke, are you familiar with the economic malaise in Japan in the 1990s, and if it is within your understanding, would you mind briefly characterizing the growth in Japanese debt-to-GDP in the decade leading up to the stock market decline?"
[Note to the reader: The correct answer surprisingly is "The growth in debt was accelerated".]
Step 4: Say, "Dr. Bernanke, are you familiar with the Austrian School of Economics, and if so, how would you characterize their explanation for the cause of the Great Depression?"
[Note to the reader: The correct answer, according to Wikipedia, is "the key cause of the Depression was the expansion of the money supply in the 1920s that led to an unsustainable credit-driven boom." Credit is another way of saying debt.]
Step 5: Say, "Dr. Bernanke, from 1990 to 2002 when you were a member of the Academic Advisory Panel at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and from 2002 to 2005, when you were a Federal Reserve Governor, do you have any memory of a discussion of the Austrian School of Economics' viewpoint? Do you remember any steps that you and/or Alan Greenspan took to actively limit the growth of U.S. debt-to-GDP?"
[Note to the reader: My guess is that the Fed does not take the Austrian School of Economics' viewpoint into account, and they did not do anything to limit debt growth in the 1990s and early 2000s. In fact, they actively worked to expand credit growth, believing that was the key to continued economic expansion.]
[Note to Congressman Paul: If he tries to claim the Fed would have been powerless to limit the growth in debt-to-GDP, ask him, "Are you then claiming that if the Fed raises interest rates and increases reserve requirements it has no effect on the creation of credit?"]
When Bernanke is finished answering his questions, calmly say, "I have no further questions" and watch the baby cry. With one fell swoop, you will have taken an ax to his misguided understanding of economic history. How did Bernanke, Greenspan and others come up with this crazy idea that as long as CPI numbers appeared to be low, then the Fed could and should keep interest rates as low as possible? Is that any serious way to manage an economy?
It's that simple. And that, Mr. Mogambo Guru, is what makes me so angry [By the way, I love your writings. This is nothing personal here, just some twistedly negative shout out to a fellow warrior-poet]. It makes me angry that we find ourselves here again. Have we learned nothing from our past? And now, how are we going to unwind all this debt?
Well, there are only two ways (or a combination of the two): a recession that hammers stock prices, house prices, and creates widespread bankruptcies as a means of destroying the debt; or inflation that decreases the value of the debt. The simple explanation (which Dr. Bernanke somehow STILL hasn't figured out in spite of having a PhD in economics; maybe someone should get that guy an Internet connection; I hear the Internet is going to be big) is that when debt levels grow, they inflate asset prices relative to labor costs and commodity costs. That makes us all feel really, really rich (a.k.a. the Internet Boom and the Housing Boom). But there's just one unfortunate detail called the market. The market's invisible hand doesn't buy these monetary shenanigans. It wants asset prices to fall back in line with labor and commodity prices (i.e. "You can't live in a $2 million house if you earn $20,000!"). There is only one way to bring them back together: let asset prices fall (a recession) or let labor and commodity pries rise (inflation). Most likely, you will experience BOTH as the market works to restore equilibrium. No matter what Bernanke does now, and no matter how much Hillary encourages us "to be passionate and get involved in the government," the invisible hand will work its magic. You think you own a $2 million house? You think you have a $3 million retirement account? Only on paper. Only on paper.
And that, dear readers, is why I continue to enjoy being long gold, long oil, short financials, and short homebuilders. We still have a long way to go.
And so the invisible hand (with Stagflation on the piano) keeps on singing: "Don't cry for me, Dr. Bernanke, the truth is I never left you, all through my wild days, my mad existence, I kept my promise, don't keep your distance. Have I said too much? There's nothing more I can think of to say to you. But all you had to do is look at me to know that every word is true."
Ok Mogambo, you can have your title back. This is too tiring.