Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rocks and hard places - Inflation accelerates

If you read this article, you will see that the principal qualification to get a government sinecure position within a central bank is to become a master in the art of double-think.

For with interest rates being cut worldwide and taxpayers' loot being used to bail out government-bond-buying banks, central bank officials are saying that the markets will recover. However, without pausing for breath, they also tell us that (CPI) inflation will "undershoot" their 2% targets, due to slowing markets.

Which is it, guys? Are markets recovering or are they receding? Pick one.

Expect inflation to keep on rising. Expect a recession. Welcome to the Keynesian alternative reality of stagflation. Yes, I know this is impossible under the central tenets of Keynesianism, but the double-thinkers managed to survive this shattering conclusion in the 1970s. Expect them to survive it again, because the answer is always the same: No matter what happens, keep increasing easy credit.

(Incidentally, and in a very brief nutshell, RPI is the old retail prices index, which includes various long-term elements such as mortgage payments. RPIX is the RPI without mortgage payments, and CPI is the rate which excludes long-term items. Governments have recently preferred the CPI because it has provided lower figures. Expect them to choose, for what I am sure will be perfectly legitimate reasons, whichever of the other two figures drops significantly below CPI, if either of them does. What is the real rate of UK inflation though, outside of statistics provided by the UK government? Who knows. My best guess is around 10% and rising. For the US, I would use the True Money Supply produced by the LvM Institute. If anyone knows of a similar measure for the UK, I would be glad to hear about it.)

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