Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Evolution of a Bail-Out Opponent: Correspondence with Jim Crum

Prior to 1980 I became interested in the problem of economic decline, especially in New York City, and inflation. I met Howard S. Katz, who interested me in the gold standard around 1979. I lost interest in inflation issues after Reagan's election in 1980. I didn't pay attention because I assumed that the Fed had changed to a monetarist position and so was controlling inflation. Then I learned that "supply side" economics was really just Keynesian economics coupled with tax cutting and the pretense of free market rhetoric (while expanding government you tell everyone you're for small government and it's inevitable and that you can't stop government's growth because of the Democrats, even when the Democrats are a minority). Then I learned that Greenspan was increasing the money supply at better than 8 percent a year over many years. Then I learned that foreigners were monetizing US debt for us, facilitating an extra six or seven years of monetary expansion from 2001-8 but creating the risk of hyper-inflation if the foreigners panic. Then I learned that George W. Bush believes in government. Then I learned that President Bush appointed a Fed chairman who believed that dollars should be spread from a helicopter. Then I learned about the bail out. Then I learned that the Fed increased the money supply by 35% in August and September. I don't have to head for the hills. I already live in the hills, and I have re-habbed my house in the hills!

Jim Crum writes:

This is going to get interesting- fast.

I know our business is feeling it. I have many friends in the trades and that work is coming to a grinding halt in many areas. I am not a fearful man. Yet the signs are very ominous, and it might be too late to bring things under control. To that end, I am of the opinion that things may really deteriorate quickly. Such a surge in cash and a slowing in economic output could lead to really aggressive inflation while wages drop- 1970’s stagflation all over again.

I cannot say, using polite language, how upsetting this is. The rank in competency of those in charge (Congress & Fed) is just short of criminal. With nothing to hold them in check, the last thirty years have been setting us up for a tremendous fall.

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