Inflation: A monetary cancer metastasizes in Europe

“Inflation weakened to a five-year low in August, just 0.3% in annual terms. That is far below the ECB’s target of a little under 2% over the medium term, raising fears that the region could face a debilitating stretch of weak or falling prices that hampers debt-financing and investment. Those fears intensified as market-based measures of inflation expectations weakened, too.”

Every assumption in this short paragraph is wrong. One, inflation should not be conceived as rising prices. There are many reasons for prices to rise or fall that have nothing to do with the currency. For example, every business is constantly working to cut costs. Without monetary debasement, and a steady stream of onerous new regulations, prices would be falling.

Two, inflation is monetary counterfeiting. Inflation is the fraud of selling a bond into the market, when the debtor lacks the means or intent to repay. The deadly danger is that it seems good to creditors who buy it, often using leverage. Eventually, every fraudulent debt will default.

Three, central banks keep trying to engineer rising prices, in the name of some sort of good, like Stalin and his Five Year Plans. The economic theory that demands this is frivolous at best. There is no there, there. This does not stop the central planners from trying their worst anyway.

Four, it should be obvious by now that central banks do not have control over prices. If they did, we would not still be struggling with prices that stubbornly refuse to rise. How many times has the ECB tried to get prices to rise since the last acute phase of the monetary crisis?

Five, falling prices do not hamper financing or investment. Look at the massive investment in first electronics, then computers, then computer networking, and most recently communications. Prices have been falling, for a long time and by a large amount even in nominal dollars.

Finally, we must distinguish between the prices of consumer goods and the prices of assets that are bought with leverage. The latter is a threat to those who borrow short-term to finance long-term assets.

You can read the whole article here.

About the Author

The Corner
The Corner has a team of on-the-ground reporters in capital cities ranging from New York to Beijing. Their stories are edited by the teams at the Spanish magazine Consejeros (for members of companies’ boards of directors) and at the stock market news site Consenso Del Mercado (market consensus). They have worked in economics and communication for over 25 years.

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