In the struggle between capital and labor, capital is winning — and that’s hurting the feeble economic recovery. To simplify slightly: Labor (wage-earners and consumers) can’t spend, and capital (businesses and shareholders) won’t spend. Without a powerful growth engine, the economy advances haltingly. I wrote about this last week from labor’s perspective, but the subject deserves deeper treatment.
What would improve the odds is more exuberance from the custodians of capital. CEOs seem content to sit on their profits and invest only when the needs and the returns are indisputable. Careless capital, which fostered the financial crisis, has given way to ultra-cautious capital, which is making a lackluster economy self-fulfilling.
To break the impasse the Fed has only to increase NGDP (spending) expectations. How? By introducing an NGDP level target.