Friday, July 11, 2014

Nooooobody politicks like Krugman - AND - If Republicans had the White House - AND - NEWS FLASH: LeBron back to Cleveland...

I read Paul Krugman. He's been such an inspiration to me. I'm sure he's inspired as many of my ramblings as have other Nobel laureates, like Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. The thing is, while I seem to always sympathize with Hayek, and almost always with Friedman, I rarely (there'll be the occasional errant point) side with Krugman. His column this morning is no exception.

I generally can't even get through an entire Krugman op-ed without jumping over to the notes app on my iPad and start flailing away, which is what just occurred. He writes:
But I now think that class interests also operate through a cruder, more direct channel. Quite simply, easy-money policies, while they may help the economy as a whole, are directly detrimental to people who get a lot of their income from bonds and other interest-paying assets — and this mainly means the very wealthy, in particular the top 0.01 percent.

Now, I pay my bills by helping others invest their money. We have lots of retired folks who supplement their social security, and maybe a private pension, with income from their portfolios. In fact, over the past few years, a number of prospective average American clients have wandered into our offices (2 over the past two weeks) hoping we might have an answer to their dilemma: what to do with those few thousand (not million) bucks that used to generate, say, 25% of their retirement income safe and soundly in bank CDs. Again, these are your everyday, not rich, American older folks whose good night's sleep rests on the safety of their money.

One dangerous side effect of today's monetary policy is that it inspires safety-minded retired folks to take more risk in a desperate attempt to preserve their retirement income.

Reading on; Krugman anticipates my objection:
Complaints about low interest rates are usually framed in terms of the harm being done to retired Americans living on the interest from their CDs. But the interest receipts of older Americans go mainly to a small and relatively affluent minority. In 2012, the average older American with interest income received more than $3,000, but half the group received $255 or less. The really big losers from low interest rates are the truly wealthy — not even the 1 percent, but the 0.1 percent or even the 0.01 percent. Back in 2007, before the slump, the average member of the 0.01 percent received $3 million (in 2012 dollars) in interest. By 2011, that had fallen to $1.3 million — a loss equivalent to almost 9 percent of the group’s 2007 income.

Okay, but in 2007, those $3k/year incomes were easily $10k+/year. Notice how he goes back to 2007 for the .01 percent, but sticks with 2012 for "older Americans?" So who do you think feels the pinch more, the .01 percenter who still receives seven figures in interest income---and, by the way (a very big "by the way"), has made an utter killing in the stock market, and who knows to what extent has exploited crazy-low borrowing rates to acquire more assets---or the "older American" trying to get by on a fixed income.

Krugman rails against the politicking of the right (and of course they do politick). But, oh my!, nobody, but NOOOOOBODY, can politick (bend facts, omit details, etc., etc., etc.), like Krugman.

P.s: I do believe that the "conservative" politician is politicking, big time, in his attack on easy monetary policy. But not because he's advocating for his super-rich supporters (whose portfolios have done quite well of late), but because he believes it works. And that---he believes---an abrupt 180 in policy would spook the economy into a slowdown that would improve his party's prospects in the coming two election seasons. The irony is that, his rhetoric (over debt, bubbles, inflation, etc.) is truly the stuff we should concern ourselves with.

In other words, if Republicans had the White House, and if they controlled the Senate, I can assure you, they would be huge fans of the Fed right about now. And of course the Democrats would be on the attack...

NEWS FLASH! Just received a Bloomberg text stating that LeBron (think Bernanke/Yellen) is going back to Cleveland (think Republicans)! Recall that LeBron (Yellen) was utterly reviled in Cleveland (Republicanland) after defecting to the Heat (the left). Now, that very same LeBron (Yellen), same jump shot (same monetary policy), etc., is about to become Cleveland's (Republicanland's) darling once again.

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