Friday, December 13, 2013

Philipp Bagus on Paper Money

Specifically, Bagus speculates on how the experiment may end.  He lists seven possibilities:  inflation, entitlement default, debt repudiation, financial repression (legislatively "encouraging" the purchase of bonds), paying off of debt, currency reform, and a "bail-in" where savers become bank shareholders as in Cyprus.

He explains the crux of the problem:

We are now in a situation that looks like a dead end for the paper money system. After the last cycle, governments have bailed out malinvestments in the private sector and boosted their public welfare spending. Deficits and debts skyrocketed. Central banks printed money to buy public debts (or accept them as collateral in loans to the banking system) in unprecedented amounts. Interest rates were cut close to zero. Deficits remain large. No substantial real growth is in sight. At the same time banking systems and other financial players sit on large piles of public debt. A public default would immediately trigger the bankruptcy of the banking sector. Raising interest rates to more realistic levels or selling the assets purchased by the central bank would put into jeopardy the solvency of the banking sector, highly indebted companies, and the government. It looks like even the slowing down of money printing (now called “QE tapering”) could trigger a bankruptcy spiral. A drastic reduction of government spending and deficits does not seem very likely either, given the incentives for politicians in democracies. 
Read the whole thing.

h/t The Circle Bastiat

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