Thursday, 28 February 2013

Pushing string

So there’s fiscal policy and then there’s monetary policy, the other side of the economic policy coin. Ideally the two work together. Now? Less so.

Fiscal austerity is doing its damndest to undermine and generally crap on demand what with the massive reduction seen in government spending on capital goods, investment and what not to preserve the UK’s AAA status. Monetary policy by contrast is at best tinkering and tickling round the edge as follows:

-          Historically low interest rates to minimise the number of indebted bods and companies failing (hmmm, what about zombie companies being a bad thing then?)
-          Low interest rates also encourage a competitive i.e, a devalued pound (take that all you dumb fucks that whined about the credit rating downgrade undermining the phallic worth of the pound, that’s monetary policy bitches)
- Low rates also also (well negative real rates) provide a disincentive to save i.e. they encourage people to spend, spend, spend in ourt consumer driven economy
- Obviously, following on from the above, low interest rates and the associated tolerance of above target inflation cheekily chip away at the real value of debt in our deeply indebted nation (shame pay growth is also negative in real terms)
-         Then there's quantitative easing or QE to encourage well its not that clear really, investment in marginally more risky, but still comfortably investment grade assets? To prop up prime asset values that benefit bods with pensions? No got a scoob really
-          And latterly the invention of all sorts of ways of cutting credit costs to, to, well what exactly?

Am guessing, judging by what Bank of England bods say, this last one is about encouraging demand by making it cheaper to borrow except, well how’d you reconcile that with fiscal austerity and what that’s been doing to the willingness to invest for years now? The answer is you can’t, the reason being because you can't.

To give an example using the key economic example of pies; make a pie cheaper then yeah, sure I might buy one, mebbe even two extra, but that’s cos I like pies. If I didn’t like pies, then whether they cost 50 quid or a horsemeat-tastic 50p, I ain’t buying any more and you’re wasting your time.

Similarly, cutting the cost of credit don’t mean shit if I don’t want to borrow new money or to quote from the latest Bank of England creditconditions survey

there was “a reduction in credit demand from small companies … (and) … demand from large firms was expected to remain broadly unchanged” So there you are then, banks don't want to lend to small businesses, banks don't want to lend to small businesses ....

Really? The Bank of England's own research into the impact of its own policy indicates small businesses aren't that keen on borrowing right now, which makes sense. Like European exports aside if you were a business dependent on government contracts would you fancy investing in new stuff right now? Thought not. Refinance your existing debt makes sense obviously, but borrowing more? Nah, no thanks.

Hence, a key and innovative part of current monetary policy looks about as effective as pushing string.

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