James Pethokoukis

On gold and asset bubbles and inflation

November 17, 2009

The great David Goldman. First on the US asset bubble:

BOTH bond and stock prices are driven by the dollar. 17.5% unemployment by the broad measure keeps wages down and keeps the CPI low, despite the surge in commodity prices, while the cheap dollar makes US assets a bargain. Well, not exactly: the enormous reserve growth on the part of Asian central banks means that the Treasury’s debt-buying program has been outsourced to America’s Asian trading partners! No-one dares pop the bubble. It’s like what Woody Allen said about death. He wasn’t afraid of it; he just didn’t want to be there when it happened.

Remember the Misery Index?

November 9, 2009

I am not sure Jon Hilsenrath of the WSJ does: “It’s hard to get inflation when unemployment is so high.”

Obamanomics, Big Government, inflation and the price of gold

November 5, 2009

Ed Yardeni says the rising price of gold is sending a message about the political economy:

Barney Frank’s wrongheaded assault on the Fed

November 3, 2009

When you’re a nation getting ready to borrow $10 trillion or more over the next decade, you don’t want markets questioning your central bank’s commitment to controlling inflation.

Barney Frank: Let’s pack the Fed with doves

October 30, 2009

Here is Barney Frank at yesterday’s House Financial Services hearing:

I had a study done. Ninety percent of Federal Open Market Committee [dissents] are from regional bank presidents and 90 percent of the 90 percent are for higher interest rates.

Oil prices, inflation and a double-dip recession

October 26, 2009

Andy Xie paints a dire scenario:

Central banks around the world have released massive amounts of money in response to the current financial crisis … But the proposition that a weak economy means low inflation is false. The stagflation of the 1970s proves it.

The bull case on the dollar

October 13, 2009

Scott Grannis, the Calafia Pundit, plots a currency course that does’t turn America into a third-world economy:

How to get a strong dollar

October 8, 2009

The enlightening David Malpass in the WSJ:

Measured in euros (a more stable ruler than the ever-weakening dollar), U.S. real per capita GDP is down 25% since 2000, while Germany’s is up 4% and tops ours. The solution is a strong U.S. jobs and wealth program. It has to include stable money, a flatter, more competitive tax structure, spending restraint, and common-sense bank regulation so small business lending can restart. Treasury has to rapidly lengthen the maturity of the national debt and take steps to protect the Fed from market losses on its long-term debt holdings.

More on the erosion of dollar dominance

October 7, 2009

Justin Fox of Time echoes my thoughts on the dollar, that its currency dominance has enabled massive deficit spending by the United States:

Inflate away the debt? Yes, that is a stupid idea …

September 11, 2009

As Bruce Bartlett correct observes:

Although it is thought that inflation is an effective way of
reducing the burden of debt, this is no longer true. For one thing, a
declining portion of the debt is financed with long-term securities.
Today, just 3% of the debt consists of bonds with maturities of 20
years or more; 10 years ago, the proportion was four times greater. To
the extent that the debt consists of short-term securities that must
constantly be rolled over, inflation does nothing to erode its value
because interest rates just rise to compensate, raising interest
payments and borrowing, thus maintaining the real value of the debt.