Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

The ATM Myth

Brad DeLong cited this passage from Ron Suskind’s latest book on Monday:

Both [Christina Romer and Larry Summers], in fact, were concerned by something the president had said in a morning briefing: that he thought that high unemployment was due to productivity gains in the economy.

The same meme spread across the economics spectrum: Scott Sumner was horrified. Mike Konczal’s reaction (on Twitter) was restrained (“This is…depressing”) by comparison.

In the context of Suskind’s book, we might just assume that Obama was, as usual, being gulled by his handler Rahm and his Svengali, Timmeh Geithner. However, via Karl Smith, we can set to rest any doubt that Barack Obama is just being misled. Matt Yglesias catches a lazy piece of  “thinking” from the President—who has had Austan Goolsbee, Larry Summers, Peter Orszag, Alan Kreuger, Jason Furman, Jason Bernstein, and several others (even dissing Christina Romer, as the Now-Sainted-by-the-Press-for-his-Fairness-to-Women Obama explicitly did) to correct him:

In a June interview with Fox News, President Obama appeared to argue that the country is suffering from high unemployment because productivity enhancing technologies such at ATMs have reduced the need for work.  It wasn’t clear to me at the time if the president really meant that or if it was just a bad moment in an interview,  . . .

Team Obama has, I think, landed on a more sophisticated version of this theory, and that explains some of the reason why Romer & Summers aren’t in the administration anymore and haven’t been replaced by like-minded people. [link in original]

Now, Barack Obama “might not be particularly well-informed about economics” (Sumner), but I never would have thought he was that obtuse.

Let me talk for a moment about our shared experience. Obama was a year behind me in college. As a transfer student, he didn’t start with on-campus housing; he got a room in a flat in the mid-100s.  So he walked to school—past several banks, one of which was undoubtedly more than happy to open an account for a never-attended-public-school Ivy Leaguer who, even then, knew how to manage up. (Heck, they opened one for me, and I fail miserably at most of that description.)

And the one thing you got—whether it was Chase (back before Manny Hanny acquired it) or Citibank (before it became The Big C)—as a student, no minimum balance required, was an ATM card, usable (in the case of Chase) virtually any time in one of the three (3) enclosed ATMs.  They dispensed $5 and $10 bills.

(The “enclosed” is essential, not just for nighttime safety, but also for days of rain and snowses. Years later, in MBA school, we attended the presentation of a guest speaker, a prominent Georgian who had founded an “Internet bank.” He freely stated that he didn’t understand why some companies enclosed their ATMs; I put the now-bankrupt company on my “short” list immediately.)

That was thirty (30) years ago. Putting this as politely as possible, that’s a heckuva long time for “structural change” in employment to take effect.  To put it in context, I know hot type setters who have been out of that business for less time.

It would take someone who was completely unaware of the world around him to point to the ATM as a ca.-2007 cause of structural unemployment in the United States.

Now, you may, correctly, note that there are Many More ATMs in 2011 than there were when Barack H. Obama moved to Morningside Heights in 1981.  And I will certainly agree with you: after all, if you spend 25 years privileging capital investment over labor—not to mention thirty attacking labor—you should expect capital growth.

But that doesn’t mean that capital growth is welfare-enhancing, or even necessarily has a positive ROI.

At Bear Stearns’s main building, 383 Madison, there were two Chase ATMs on the second floor. Those who know NYC will note that there are not one but two Chase branches across the street, but traders and senior executives require convenience, not crossing a NYC street (which they only did to cash/deposit their bonus checks) or, especially, standing in a queue behind people whose time is much less valuable.

(Tone notwithstanding, the last part of that is rather serious: if being away means you or your firm might take a loss in the mid-five or low-six figure range, your work time is more valuable than that of a Claire’s Stores saleswoman. Much better when the worst-case scenario is to be stuck behind one or two of your fellow traders, who wouldn’t waste their time not knowing exactly what they intend to do before getting to the machine.)

And, since the traders and executives weren’t willing to be personally ripped off, the ATMs were no-fee, even for non-Chase cards.

And here is where an alert economist will say cui bono? The answer is: the firm paid $1.2MM ($1,200,000; $600,000 per machine) for those two machines to be there, be maintained, and be fee-free.

So when you point to those ATMs in the grocery store, I point to the 99 cent ($0.99) fee for a $40 withdrawal and say glibly, “Yes, usury is alive and well; you don’t even need to be in a counting house.” 

How many jobs does that ATM destroy?

And—again, if you’re able to think about it, the way some economists (mostly health economists and econometricians, it seems) are able to do—you look at the proliferation of ATMs and realize that each of them needed to be stocked with bills (now $20s and $50s), have their network connections maintained, be repaired, have (a portion of) a staff member available to deal with customer complaints and issues, and be installed based on an initial capital outlay/agreement that covers all of those costs.

If we treat the Bear Stearns arrangement—and Bear and Chase were tight even before the latter “paid the two dollars”—as a benchmark, a semi-full service (as with the ATMs in most grocery stores and Duane Reades, they didn’t take deposits) ATM costs a lot more to run than a bank teller does. As a ballpark, it may be an order of magnitude more, and that’s rounding the ATM costs down (ca. $500K) and the teller expenses up ($50K).

All of the above is even ignoring The Baumol Problem.  You can provide most of your services through an ATM, or a group of ATMs, if it/they work(s) perfectly, but you cannot eliminate the “teller” role completely. You can redefine it: a bonded employee to restock the bills being dispensed is needed, so you can take a teller away from a “window” for an hour a day: seven hours as a teller, one in service of the ATM. And you can move new bank branches into slightly smaller spaces (based on not needing so many tellers), but you’re more likely to convert some of that space in old branches to space for HNW banking efforts, concentrating on areas that require greater customer service.

So the specific, limited job of “bank teller” might have been reduced (assuming bank branches remained constant; anecdotally, I would suggest they expanded significantly)—unlike hot type, it didn’t go away. But the skillset required for tellers is mostly transferrable: excepting any specific licensing/bonding requirements, if you can be a teller, you can be a cashier or a customer service representative or a sales assistant or a realtor.  It’s not like hot type in that respect—the initial skillset is transferrable.

Add the jobs that become available—network engineers, security people, drivers, system administrators, and people to build all of that equipment—when an ATM is installed and reduce that by a fraction of the tellers who won’t get hired.  Throw in an adjustment for the deadweight loss that is added to the economy via the ATM fees (which is at least partially balanced by the expansion of the ATMs themselves), and overall you have to conclude that the ATM increased the number of jobs available.

Economists often call it “creative destruction,” and you would think that the Goolsbees and Summerses of the world would have explained it to Obama.  In fact, you would think it would be something about which a community organizer would have heard, since much of the effort required there is making it possible for your clients to find retraining opportunities.

That he would speak so absurdly so recently reflects poorly on the economists who advised him (not to mention those who still believe his explanation),

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Kudlow’s Komedy Kapers (Cross-post)

Brad DeLong asked a few days ago who he should be reading on a daily basis. Following is a cross-post from my nominee, The Hunting of the Snark:

Kudlow’s Komedy Kapers

Larry Kudlow is worried that Obama is ruining the economy.

Larry Kudlow
August 5, 2011 4:30 P.M.

More Obama Spending Won’t Do It
And stocks know it.

There he goes again.

Because quoting Reagan is cool.

Out on the campaign trail, President Obama is proposing more federal spending as his answer to sluggish growth and jobs. That won’t do it, Mr. President.

Yes, when the private sector doesn’t provide jobs, don’t look to the government to provide jobs. That just won’t do it, Obama. That just…won’t….do!

He wants more infrastructure spending, undoubtedly in the form of an infrastructure bank. That’s a terrible idea. It’s borrowed from Latin America, where bloated and corrupt bureaucratic construction agencies have helped bankrupt any number of countries in the past.

It’s also borrowed from Roosevelt, but we all know how he secretly created the Depression by spending money.

He wants to lengthen 99-week unemployment insurance, although numerous studies have shown that continuous unemployment benefits are associated with higher unemployment.

I want to bronze that comment and turn it into an ashtray. Numerous studies have show that UI is associated with high unemployment! Obviously, the only solution is to stop handing out UI, and then we’ll have no more unemployment.

And he wants to extend the temporary payroll tax credit, which is not a permanent reduction in marginal tax rates, has no incentive effect, has not worked so far, and is really a form of federal spending — not real tax relief.

How the rich suffer so from their high taxes.

Earlier this week, when he signed the debt-ceiling bill, the president ranted on about the need to raise tax rates on successful earners, investors, and small businesses. He’s trying to bring back tax hikes as part of the phase-two special committee seeking additional deficit reduction, even though his own party rebuffed him on this in the late stages of the debt talks. All this is a prescription to grow government, not the economy.

Reagan actually raised taxes when it was necessary while Obama is just talking about raising taxes, but as we all know, the Reagan years were a bit of a blur for Kudlow.

What the economy needs, Mr. President, is a strong dose of new incentives, with pro-growth tax reform that flattens marginal rates and broadens the base for individuals and businesses. This includes moving to territorial taxation that ends the double tax on foreign earnings of U.S. companies. Plus, we desperately need a complete moratorium on federal regulations. As Sen. Barrasso recently noted, the government put out 379 new rules on business in July alone, amounting to $9.5 billion in additional costs.

Because US companies pay far, far too much in taxes. Just ask the Center On Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

The U.S. corporate tax burden is smaller than average for developed countries.[1] Corporations in 19 of the member states of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development paid 16.1 percent of their profits in taxes between 2000 and 2005, on average, while corporations in the United States paid 13.4 percent.

Nevertheless, some have argued that U.S. corporate tax rates unduly burden U.S. companies by pointing to the country’s top statutory tax rate, which is 35 percent. For example, a recent Wall Street Journal editorial calling for corporate tax cuts noted that this is the second highest top statutory tax rate among developed countries.[2] While true, this gives the false impression that the corporate tax burden is greater here than in other developed countries. Because the U.S. tax code offers so many deductions, credits, and other mechanisms by which corporations can reduce their taxes, the actual percentage of profits that U.S. corporations pay in taxes — or what analysts refer to as their effective tax rate — is not high, compared to other developed countries.

Because the average U.S. corporate tax burden is low, many economists believe a revenue-neutral corporate tax reform that reduces statutory corporate tax rates, while broadening the tax base by eliminating costly tax breaks, could improve economic efficiency and likely benefit the U.S. economy.

Kudlow:

None of these pro-growth reforms are in sight. So the stock market is going through a nasty 10 percent correction over fears of another recession (and European debt default).

That’s definitely not a recession reading.

Yes, you read that right. Kudlow says we are not in a recession. From an earlier post

No Recession

Strong profits, easy money, and Tea Party gains argue against it.

Stocks and bond yields are sinking as Wall Street disses the debt deal and instead focuses on a likely double-dip recession.

Everyone is gloomy. But is this pessimism getting a little overbaked?

Granted, the economy is sputtering, with less than 1 percent growth in the first half of the year. But if there is a recession in the cards, it will be the first time one occurs when the yield curve is steeply positive (an ultra-easy Fed) and corporate profits are strong.

And since we do have ultra-easy money and strong profits, I don’t believe we’re heading into a recession. Nor do I believe stocks will continue to swoon.

The principal reason for the sub-par first-half economy is the rise of inflation, which severely damaged real incomes and consumer spending. We experienced a mini oil shock, which has dampened the whole economy. Actually, it’s worth remembering that oil shocks and inverted yield curves, along with falling profits, are the most important leading indicators of recessions. We don’t have this right now.

Back to the present:

But at least we got some good news on jobs. The July jobs report came in stronger than expected. It’s not great. But at least nonfarm payrolls increased 117,000 — as the prior two months were revised upward by 56,000 — while private payrolls gained 154,000.

That’s definitely not a recession reading. But neither is it a strong performance. If the economy were really rebounding, we would be creating 300,000 new jobs a month.

In the report, the unemployment rate slipped to 9.1 percent from 9.2 percent. But that’s mostly because nearly 200,000 workers left the civilian labor force. Another negative is the household employment survey, which fell 38,000 in July after dropping nearly half a million in June. That survey measures job creation among small owner-operated businesses or the lack thereof.

Yet when looking at the new jobs report, along with reasonable gains in chain-store sales and car sales, plus the ISM Purchasing Managers reports (which stayed above the 50 percent line), I repeat my thought that we are not headed for a double-dip recession.

The US New and World Report begs to differ.

According to the latest figures, the U.S. economy created 117,000 new jobs, causing the unemployment rate to drop slightly, from 9.2 percent in June to 9.1 percent in July. But, as Jeff Cox writes over at CNBC, “there is far more than meets the eye” to this bit of economic good news, which is certainly nothing to cheer about.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics breakdown says there were 139,296,000 people working in July, compared to 139,334,000 the month before, or a drop of 38,000. That’s because, as a number of labor economists point out, the disparity is the result of something the government calls “discouraged workers”—people who don’t have jobs but were not looking for work during the reporting period.”

This is where the numbers showed a really big spike—up from 982,000 to 1.119 million, a difference of 137,000 or a 14 percent increase. These folks are generally not included in the government’s various job measures,” Cox wrote, adding that if you count those people as part of the workforce, the job creation and drop in unemployment disappear.

Other signs of continued weakness in the recovery include that the percentage of long-term unemployed remained unchanged in July and that the labor force participation rate has continued its downward trend since the beginning of the recession, dropping 0.2 percentage point to 63.9 percent in July. This is, the Congressional Joint Economic Committee reports, “the lowest labor participation rate in the United States since January 1984.” [See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

Addressing the weak numbers, the White House continues to point fingers almost everywhere except at itself—which is where the blame belongs. President Barack Obama, who, along with congressional Democratic leaders, promised that unemployment would not exceed 8 percent as long as the stimulus package was approved, has yet to explain how he could have been so tragically wrong.

The great thing about being a conservative is that no matter what it happening, it proves that their economic theories are correct. Kudlow:

Over two years of so-called economic recovery, growth has averaged about 2.5 percent. It fell to less than 1 percent in the first half of this year, largely from a commodity-price shock that included oil-, gasoline-, and food-price spikes. That price shock resulted mainly from the Fed’s QE2 depreciation of the dollar — a big mistake. It eroded real consumer incomes and spending.

Let’s ask Economist Online what it thinks about the dollar.

Put dollar depreciation in historical perspective

It’s a brand new year. I thought I’d have some big-picture review of what’s going on in the world economy today. Here is my first piece on US dollar.

The graph below will scare you a lot…in fact, the dollar index fall from 115 in 2002 to mid 70s at the end of 2007, that equals a 33% drop.

Hmmm, a sharp drop, isn’t it? But wait a minute, have we witnessed the similar happened before? Let’s look at the following graph and have some historical perspective. From 1985 to 1989, the trade-weighted dollar index actually had a bigger fall, from 145 to 90, almost down 38%, and it fell even further until 1995.

Holy Dollar Depreciation, Batman! It fell even more under Reagan than it did during Obama!

Kudlow:

Lately, the dollar has stabilized and energy prices have come down quite a bit. That will reduce inflation and support better consumer spending. Businesses are already highly profitable and cash-rich. They are investing some of that, but not nearly enough to create sufficient new jobs. Who would, with all these Washington policies?

It’s not lack of demand, it’s politics!

Finally, the Fed remains ultra-easy with excess liquidity and a zero interest rate.

So it looks to me like we will return to the sub-par 2.5 percent growth trend rather than dip back into recession. However, at this pace, unemployment may hover around 9 percent right up to election time next year.

More spending won’t do it Mr. President. Tax and regulatory incentives will.

Cut taxes and regulations and watch the economy boom–for the very rich. Who are doing quite well now as it is.

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A Billion Here, A Billion There…

This is why Andrew Leonard (h/t Yves Smith) gets paid for blogging and I don’t. He tries to do the impossible: make sense out of Michelle Bachmann’s “economics“:

1) The interest can easily be paid for …

Bachmann is making the argument here that the U.S. can choose to pay its creditors — the various holders of government-issued debt — first, and thus not technically be in default. It’s an open question whether credit rating agencies and bond investors will accept that technicality. China might get paid in full, but millions of Americans would immediate get stiffed. Of course, Bachmann doesn’t mention that choosing such a strategy would require extraordinarily severe and immediate spending cuts — around $4.5 billion a day — in programs such as Social Security, Medicare, defense, unemployment benefits, et cetera. Economists generally agree — the negative economic impacts of such drastic short-term cuts in government spending would almost surely drive the U.S. straight back into recession.

Furthermore, a failure to reach agreement on the debt limit would guarantee bond market jitters, pushing up interest rates and raising the cost at which the U.S. government can borrow funds — and thus end up increasing the deficit.

So what happened today? There was a seven-year Treasury auction:

Today the 7 yr saw a yield of 2.43%, 3 bps above the when issued

The WI is where that same note was trading even as it was being auctioned. Which works out to be about a 19.2 cent reduction per $100 of security.

19.2 cents doesn’t sound like much, but there was almost $30 Billion in securities issued. So that’s $55,642,171
that didn’t get paid to the U.S. Treasury (or $57,433,536 if you’re counting the Open Market Activities).

Even if you want to be generous and assume—it’s crazy optimistic, but let’s be really generous—that half a basis point of that is just a long tail (not entirely unreasonable, but rather generous), there are still $46,376,844 (or $47,869,918) that just got left on the table out of fear of near-term deficit issues.

Not incidentally, that’s $46-57+ million dollars that isn’t available for maneuvering to avoid an official default (as opposed to the practical default that has been in effect for almost two months now). From just one of the nearly 300 auctions that are held every year.

But not raising the debt ceiling won’t mean anything. Michelle Bachmann assures us that just because Social Security/Disability/Medicare etc. payments won’t be made for August 3rd, it’s not a problem.

Sooner or later, we’ll be talking about really money. Right now, it’s just your mother’s livelihood. But at least that money has been saved by those who are investing in seven-year Treasuries. Maybe they’ll loan her some of that savings. Oh, right:

At least we know where they got the money to buy the notes.

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Spot Effing On, as The Mainstreamers Edge Leftward

We have just printed the eleventh (11th) straight week in which new jobless claims have exceeded 400,000 people. As Krugman notes, “The Fed predicts disastrously high unemployment as far as the eye can see(pdf) [a]nd, in response to this dire prospect, it declares its work done.”

So this it is almost palliative that Barry Ritholtz writes the Quote of the Day, or perhaps the Decade:

The sooner we recognize that the field of economics is a branch of Sociology and not Mathematics, the better off we will all be.

Anyone who has looked at the CF that Microeconomic doctrine has created over the past twenty years will not be surprised by Ritholtz’s conclusion. The question would almost be why he waited so long to say so explicitly.

Other signs that people are coming around to the positions taken at this blog:

  1. The gracious, even-tempered Mark Thoma has been driven to pointing out that the math, let alone the social issues, don’t work:

    I had hoped to see more acknowledgement that the current soft patch may turn out to be something more significant than a temporary aberration in the numbers, and some hint of willingness to ease further should those worries come true. But the Fed shows no such willingness, in fact as Neil Irwin notes, the “employ its policy tools as necessary to support the economic recovery” language is gone, and the main question at this point is when the Fed might begin tightening policy by reversing QE1 and QE2 rather than when they might ease further.

  2. Brad DeLong channels Bruce Webb or me in talking about Diane Lim Rogers:

    Get out of the defensive crouch, Diane. If you and your peers won’t stand up and say that every single Republican presidential candidate is talking hogwash and that every economist who wants high federal office in the next Republican administration is acting like a craven coward, then you are giving them every incentive to do so.

  3. The NYT—Gretchen Morgenson, of all people—notices that Executive Pay is not aligned with optimal company management, let alone shareholders:

    WHEN does big become excessive? If the question involves executive pay, the answer is “often.” …just how this paycheck stacks up against, say, a company’s earnings or stock market performance is rarely laid out.

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Not So Dumb as Economists, Part 1

I was going to point out that finance people are not so dumb as economists,* but Echidne’s takedown of Gary Becker is so divine it deserves your attention more:

This argument was initially made by Gary Becker, an economist, a very long time ago.** It is not an uncommon argument from conservatives (or from certain types of anti-feminist sites.) That does not mean that it shouldn’t be discussed. So let’s do that by looking at what is unrealistic about the specific conclusions….

In [Becker’s] first model only owner/managers have a dislike towards workers from a particular group. That, my friends, is the model from which the above conclusion comes, though even then it would only work to eradicate discrimination from the whole industry if the industry was essentially a competitive one. If the industry is not sufficiently competitive, the bigoted owner/managers can hang on and practice discrimination.

Becker argues that if the only problem we have consists of some bigoted owner/managers, while everyone else is just so sweet, sufficiently well-lubricated markets can get rid of those nasty bigots, always assuming that everybody knows everything relevant about everyone else.

There are no misconceptions in the model. Even the bigoted owner/managers of a pizza parlor, say, know that Joe and Jane are equally good pizza-bakers. They just hate Jane and are willing to hire her only if they can get her for less money.

This cannot last if we can find at least [one] non-bigoted nice owner/manager.

That’s the background of the old chestnut. Becker, having become immersed in the imaginary world of his simple model, concluded that competitive industries would never exhibit any long-run sex or race discrimination. Only oligopolies or monopolies could survive with at least some bigoted owner/managers. [emphases mine; hers varied]

It is a rare and delightful moment when someone looks seriously at an economic model. Strangely, when you examine the social premises of the mathematics—returning economics to its beleaguered claim to being a social science, as it were—it starts to be clearly why people believe economists are the problem, not the solution. It’s progress to see a blogger destroy an economist this thoroughly.***

*And I may still, using this post by Mish as the springboard, but I think the post leads to that as an inevitable conclusion, so for now I’ll just refer people there.

**1971, apparently, though, iirc, several of the papers are from 1965-1966.

***Yes, I know The Snake Woman is, in real life, a qualified economist. But she’s not being asked to play one on television, like Larry Kudlow, whose degree from WooWoo is patently not in economics, or Megan McArdle, who has an Ivy League degree in English Literature and an MBA.

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Some economic ideas thrive only in the darkness

Peter Dorman writes at Econospeak about economics insulated from the harsh light of day and evaluation of usefulness:

The Embarrassment Known as the Value of a Statistical Life

Some economic ideas thrive only in the darkness: they are simply too weird and half-baked to withstand public scrutiny. Perhaps no concept better exemplifies this than the value of a statistical life, the sum of money that supposedly measures the value of a life saved or sacrificed by a government program…

More over at Econospeak.

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It used to be "slightly left of center". The budget, taxes, economy from that other side.

By: Daniel Becker
HT: Digby

More people need to hear this perspective regarding the economy and the budget debate if only to remind them that there is another perspective…if only to hear what it sounds like when a congress person is actually fighting and working for you. You, the one without enough money to influence congress.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, the president has talked about corporate — corporate tax reform. And he said, in two years, in — for 2012, he’s going to propose letting all those tax cuts expire that were allowed to continue in December.
You spent, what, eight-and-a-half-hours on the floor of the Senate in December in a — in a protest against that. Are you confident the president is going to let the tax cuts expire?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: No, of course I’m not. I mean, that’s what the president said when he ran for president. And yet, when the Republicans stood up to him and said, we want to give more tax breaks, extend the Bush tax breaks, essentially, the president gave in.
When the Republicans said that, we want to lower the estate tax, Judy, which appeals — which only applies to the top three-tenths of 1 percent — these are not rich folks — these the very richest people in America — the president gave into that.
So, the president may tell us that he has this in mind, but I think the record is that he has not fought for those principles. The American people want him to fight for those principles.
And I think what this whole budget debate is about is do we stand up and say, no, we’re not going to cut programs for those who need it?
The other issue that I think we have to talk about is, in the president’s budget, he talks about Social Security. And he makes me a little bit nervous, because I think, as many of our listeners know, the Social Security trust fund today has a $2.6 trillion surplus.
Social Security can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 27 years. Social Security, because it is funded by the payroll tax, hasn’t contributed one nickel to the deficit.
See, there is another voice, and some are finally experiencing the results of ignoring it. Remember this! Remember what a congress person sounds like when they are for real about working and fight for you. No more excuses you did not know. This is what you will sound like once you decide to influence congress.

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Why There’s Little Inflation, In One Easy Graphic

Ex-food and energy, inflation is at 0.9% for the past twelvemonth. Even if you include those in the longer measure, annual inflation has been 1.7%. (Recall that we paid an average of more than $3.00/gallon for most of the Spring of 2010, for instance.)

There is a simple reason “everyone” expected higher numbers: they were looking at money supply, not circulation.

As Jim Hamilton notes, money is only supply when its being circulated.

The “intermediaries” aren’t intermediates; they’re SPOFs. Hamilton’s graphic tells all:

All that “extra” money is being kept in mattresses. Financial-Institution-shaped mattresses, but mattresses nonetheless. The velocity of monetary reserves is 0. So the weighted-average velocity of money is much less than the standard formula would imply.

There is inflation out there. For instance, China, whose “stimulus” was an impossible 17% of its GDP (h/t Susan of Texas, of course), is seeing inflation.

The U.S. needs to deal with financial institution mattress stuffing before it can have such problems.

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