Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Russia takes a page out of the Paul Volcker playbook

From Zero Hedge: Russia Shocks With Emergency  Rate Hike

The move by the Bank of Russia to drastically raise rates is the first break by a major central bank in the worldwide Keynesian dogma that lower rates are required to cure almost any financial or economic problem. Paul Volcker knew better. During the waning days of the Carter administration and the beginning of the Reagan era, Fed Chairman Paul Volcker ordered the Fed to cease monetizing US Treasury debt. Interest rates peaked a just over twenty percent! The economy went into recession as twenty years of malinvestment, made possible by central bank interest rate manipulation, was purged from the economy. Folk lore tells us that Volcker raised interest rates. He did no such thing. He stopped manipulating interest rates by refusing to buy US Treasury debt with printed money, what is euphemistically called debt monetization, and interest rates rose to the level required to fund the debt markets at that time.

Volcker understood that the real economy needed savings, not more spending. Real savings must come from deferred consumer spending. Deferred spending feeds real liquidity to the loanable funds market, where capital is replenished and which leads to improved productivity via expanded specialization of labor. Prices actually fall!

Sound money was just one part of the Reagan/Bush platform of economic recovery. The other three were deregulation, lower government spending, and lower taxes, which the Reagan administration accomplished to some extent. The rest is history. The US entered into a period of rapid growth and falling inflation. Regrettably, this was the last time that the US was blessed with a Fed chairman of independence and integrity. All subsequent recessions have been "fought" with monetary stimulus, increased regulation, increased taxes, and increased government spending. Today's Keynesian charlatans actually desire inflation, all the better to rob savers and allow the government to fund its out-of-control debt with debased money.

Apparently Russia is buying none of this nonsense of competitive currency devaluation to solve the financial attack by the West upon its economy that followed its annexation of Crimea. Putting the geopolitical issues to the side, Russia needs to tighten its financial belt, so to speak, in order to retain investment capital and increase savings. If it were really serious, it would stop interest pegging altogether, per Paul Volcker, and allow rates to rise to whatever level is commanded by the market. Does anyone want to guess to what level interest rates would rise in the US, if the Fed stopped monetizing Treasury debt? I doubt that twenty percent would be high enough. 

1 comment:

  1. great and timely comment on economics

    ReplyDelete