Comments on: The “least worst” option? Insights behind the investment headlines Wed, 16 Nov 2016 21:43:49 +0000 hourly 1 By: LuisdeAgustin Sat, 05 May 2012 23:06:33 +0000 Renihart is exactly right. But there is a darker theory yet: that Fed policy is just part of a government-wide strategy of practicing “financial repression” to escape from the consequences of the debt explosion. The leading expert on financial repression is Carmen Reinhart of the Peterson Institute. She defines it as a situation in which “governments implement policies to channel to themselves funds that in a deregulated market environment would go elsewhere.”

Low or negative real interest rates are among the oldest examples. Call this monetary repression. Reinhart points out that it was practiced on a large scale by governments after World War II. She asserts that it accomplished by stealth the effective cancelation of government debt without resort to orthodox spending and tax policies for which governments knew then and now that they cannot get the electorate’s consent.

A similar debt predicament today implies that monetary and other forms of repression are again on the cards, especially in the United States. Wainwright has attempted to measure it, but estimates of real interest rates and monetary repression are fuzzy and contentious, especially because the government as¬serts control over the method by which inflation is measured.

Nevertheless, the company’s research, estimates that the Fed’s interest-rate policy in 2007-11 has cut the real interest rate from a normal 2 or 3 percent to an aver¬age of minus 7 or 8 percent. That’s a diversion of about ten percentage points a year to the Treasury and other borrowers—just about enough to fund the current budget deficit. Genius…

Luis de Agustin