The Stimulus Paradox

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The last time the Fed reported, it said growth in the US economy was on a “firmer footing.” Now, according to Ben Bernanke’s press conference talk-up, it’s just “moderate.”

What is he talking about? The economy is going nowhere. After 10 years of slipping backward at a slow rate, it’s now beginning to slide faster. The latest figures show the economy in the first quarter “growing” at barely half the rate of the previous quarter. And you have to adjust this growth – 1.8%, according to the official estimates – to population growth and to a real measure of inflation. The population is growing at about a 1% rate…leaving about 0.8% “growth.” But over the last 3 months, the same quarter we’re talking about, according to the Billion Prices Project real-time Internet tracking, prices rose at a 7.4% annualized pace. That means the Labor Department’s inflation adjustment – 2.1% – is only a third of what it should be. And it means the real economy is actually shrinking, per capita, at about 5.3% per year.

And keep in mind. It would be much worse were it not for mind-blowing inputs from the feds.

“That’s a confusing point,” Elizabeth noted yesterday. “You say the feds are doing the wrong thing. But you also say that it would be a lot worse if they didn’t do it.”

“Yes…it’s a paradox. But it’s true,” we explained. “If they’re willing to pump trillions more dollars into the economy, as Paul Krugman wants them to do, they can make it look like the economy is recovering. More people will have more money in their pockets. More people will have jobs. In the very short run, it will look better. Like a wartime economy. Or the Soviet economy.

“But the growth will be phony – built on government spending and unsustainable credit. Eventually, inflation rates will go up – making everyone poorer. Or the whole system will collapse into a much worse depression.”

The feds were able to create a huge bubble in ’03-’07. Now, they’re causing prices to bubble up again. But there is very little real growth. People are not earning more money. They are only barely increasing real output, not enough to keep up with population growth or with inflation. There is no recovery. Instead, the Great Correction continues.

Regards,

Bill Bonner
For Daily Reckoning Australia

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Best-selling investment author Bill Bonner is the founder and president of Agora Publishing, one of the world's most successful consumer newsletter companies. Owner of both Fleet Street Publications and MoneyWeek magazine in the UK, he is also author of the free daily e-mail The Daily Reckoning.
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