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Tag Archives: central banking

The real reasons for low real rates

The lowest interest rates in history are failing to spur sustained recovery. Rather, low real rates mirror financial and structural weaknesses Economists cannot agree on the causes of these low real rates. They discuss various hypotheses. Central banks have held policy rates low for years – have these ultra low nominal rates reduced real rates,…
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Are the chances of real reform improving?

  In The Money Trap, I argue that our problems result from the way in which we have applied a particular concept of money – the state theory of money. This dominated government policy in the 20th century. As Keynes said, all modern money is state money – it is seen as a creature of…
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Wolf of the City

Martin Wolf’s recent radio programme – “How Low can Rates Go?” – described and illustrated the dilemmas facing monetary policy-makers. Nine years from the start of the great financial crisis, Wolf reported, economies had still not returned to “normal”.  Capitalism was perceived by many to be failing to deliver; globalisation a con trick.  The political…
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The Money Trap revisited

What is the money trap? How can we get out of it? Let me try to reformulate the thesis of my book in the light of recent developments. Since the 1970s we have been in a period of transition to a new paradigm of monetary policy. Governments have tried various approaches to the challenges of…
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Mistreating money

  Money is a social construct that enables price comparisons, calculations of profits and loss, budgeting and financial planning from individual to enterprise to national and international  levels. Its primary function is as a unit of account, and a given monetary unit has greatest benefit when used by the largest possible number of people and…
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Status quo or needed reforms?

Interests barring change Powerful interests benefit from the existence of the money trap. These interests include the state and the monied elite. They benefit, at least in the short to medium term, from official manipulation of money under the present (IT plus CBI)  regime – the state from cheap finance, the monied elite from the…
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Are investors right to pin their hopes on central banks?

Central banks disown any responsibility for stock markets; yet we all know they take market conditions into account. How will they respond if the turmoil resumes? Apparently the banks want central banks to get interest rates back to “normal”. Axel Weber, head of UBS, former head of the Bundesbank and former council member of the…
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Money, civilisation and their discontents

The usual way to destroy the social value of money is through inflation, and that has indeed been the fate of most fiat currencies. Yet there are other ways to reduce the quality of money and thus its ability to support a civilisation. Money becomes less useful, for example, when the objects you can spend…
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Between Debt and the Devil: A Review

According to Adair Turner, Britain’s former chief financial regulator, the global financial crisis had one big cause: bad ideas.  These are ideas that Turner disapproves of. The key proposition of his new book is simply stated: “banking systems left to themselves are bound to produce too much of the wrong sort of debt, instability and…
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‘The Money Trap’ now

The book argued that the crisis was the joint product of  inflation targeting, irresponsible banking and a weak international monetary system. The book tried to show how these were inter-related: First, inflation targeting, which had been a valuable tool in combatting 1970s inflation, had by the 2000s outlived its usefulness as a guide and discipline for…
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