Commentaries

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from Rolfe Winkler:

Rickards: You can’t print your way out of debt

Reader note: This is Jim's second piece in an ongoing debate with Warren Mosler about the economy. Here are links to previous posts in the series: Writer biographies / Mosler #1 / Rickards #1 / Mosler #2.  There will be one more post from each writer.

by James Rickards

Before I lay siege to Warren Mosler's remedies, let me say he's a brilliant guy I've admired for 25 years going back to his days at AVM.  I got reacquainted in 2004 when I lived in St. Croix and Warren ran for Congress from the Virgin Islands.  His campaign ads were 5-minute infomercials; tutorials on economics and gems of sound fiscal advice.  But this is a debate, so let's begin.

Warren makes eleven points and I agree with two - the elimination of payroll taxes and converting banks into utilities.  Payroll tax elimination spurs consumption and stimulates job creation. As for banks, we need them, we just don't need casinos that call themselves banks.  Bring back Glass-Steagall, separate deposit and loan functions from proprietary trading and banish the latter to hedge funds.  Speculation should survive on its own dime.

I don't need to take the rest point-by-point because they're the same thing - an unlimited belief in the Fed's power to print money.  Warren calls for a $500 per capita state rebate, a federal job for all takers, direct Treasury funding of housing, unlimited deposit insurance, no debt ceiling, Treasury overdrafts at the Fed and federal purchase of foreclosed homes. He doesn't propose free ice cream for children but I don't see why not; just print some money and go for it!

from Rolfe Winkler:

Evening Links 12-6

(Reader note: One bug we're still trying to work out is that links in the top line of a post aren't "hot" in the front-page view of the blog. If you click "continue reading" the link is available)

The FBI agent inside the Galleon case (Goldstein, Reuters) More great work from Matt.

Euro at $1.50 — a disaster or an alibi?

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OUKTP-UK-FINANCIALThe French can never resist blaming a strong currency for their misfortunes. So it should come as no surprise that Henri Guaino, President Nicolas Sarkozy’s influential political adviser, has said that having the euro at $1.50 is “a disaster for European industry and the economy”. Since the euro stood at just above $1.49 as he spoke on Tuesday, Guaino presumably sees the single currency area as on the edge of the abyss. 

This is manifest nonsense. European exports to the rest of the world, including the dollar zone, were booming in mid-2008 when the euro stood at just short of $1.60. The euro area had a trade surplus with the United States at the time. The steep slide in exports over the last 15 months has been due to a collapse in demand, even though the euro fell as low as $1.25.

Dow hits 10K

OK, it’s finally happened so hopefully talking heads can stop obssessing about this magic number. Traders in the more esoteric spaces, like non-agency mortgage bonds, are even feeling the love. We get another round of bank earnings tomorrow, including Goldman Sachs, which if they’re anything like JP Morgan, could ignite even more euphoria in markets.

Still, the Dow needs to close above 10K for everyone to truly feel like the good times are finally here to stay. While it pierced 10K, it’s since bounced lower.

Kohn on V-shapes, housing, inflation and a whole lot more

Donald Kohn, the Fed’s number 2, has a lot to say about the economic outlook but not a whole lot new in terms of when the central bank will reverse course on its extraordinary easy monetary policy. Full speech at the National Association for Business Economics in St. Louis can be found here.

Some choice bits:

I don’t think a V-shaped recovery is the most likely outcome this time around.

Don’t worry about the weak dollar

By John M. Berry

There’s no way to shut off the incessant warnings about a weak dollar from foreign officials and some economists, but it’s perfectly safe to ignore them.

You can also yawn the next time Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner repeats the mantra, “It is very important to the United States that we continue to have a strong dollar.”

Carrying the dollar lower

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There’s been lots of hand wringing over the fate of the dollar, with its recent slide giving rise to, in the words of blogger Macroman, the “dollar going down forever” crowd. Data released from the U.S. Treasury on foreign capital flows didn’t help matters. Seems in July foreign investors wanted to put their funds elsewhere.

Lots of ink has already been spilled on the well worn arguments that blame reckless borrowing by the US government and the growing movement toward establishing an alternative world currency as the drivers behind the dollar’s decline.

Love affair with FX reserves

The post-crisis world order is starting to look distressingly similar to the old one.

Swollen foreign-exchange holdings helped set the stage for the meltdown by suppressing interest rates and boosting mortgage lending in the United States.

Stiglitz not to be outdone by Pimco, Buffett

The future of the dollar has been all the rage this week as Warren Buffett and Pimco portfolio manager Curtis Mewbourne chimed in about its demise as a store of value. It somehow seems appropriate then that Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who is no stranger to the debate, would weigh in on the need for a new reserve currency at a conference in Bangkok.

From the Reuters article:

A new global reserve system is needed after the global financial crisis exposed the U.S. dollar-based system as flawed and risky, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said on Friday.The “dollar now is yielding almost zero return,” Stiglitz said in a speech at the United Nations regional headquarters in Bangkok. “The current global reserve system is fraying. It’s falling apart. The issue isn’t whether we go to a new system. The question is do we do so in an orderly or disorderly way.”

Getting ready for the dollar’s fall

It just won’t go away, this needling worry about the U.S. dollar losing its coveted top-dog status.

No matter that there are plenty of reasonable arguments to support the dollar as the world reserve currency — namely there’s just no alternative — for perhaps decades to come.

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