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Jim Cook



Every once in a while I switch the TV channel from Fox to CNBC to see what the liberals are saying.  After listening awhile I get a deep sense of hopelessness and foreboding for our country.  The most important thing for the left is giving money to people.  They are happy to see the growth of food stamps, disability payments, housing subsidies, free healthcare and all the other welfare benefits.  They utterly fail to see the damage it is doing to the recipients.  Whole cities that once flourished have deteriorated into rotting eyesores populated with shambling hulks of chemically dependent drones.  These people are no longer employable.  They have become incompetent and helpless and the liberals can’t see that it’s their doing.

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The Best of Jim Cook Archive

Best of Doug Noland
October 7, 2009
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Doug Noland

It is a tenet of Credit Bubble theory that politicians – given the opportunity – will inflate. There is ample history illuminating the dangerous propensity to run the government printing press. Contemporary analysis gets more complex because of the nature of private-sector Credit and the penchant for government (explicit and implicit) guarantees. During the boom, “money” was burning a hole in policymakers’ pockets, but it was Wall Street and the GSEs commanding the electronic printing press 24/7. By far the most precarious absence of discipline and vision belonged to those Operating in and accommodating this historic private-sector Credit Bubble.

I disagree with the policy of massive deficits. Yet the California and U.S. budget quagmires are the direct consequences of the bursting of the Wall Street/mortgage finance Bubble. And as much as greed and leverage have provided easy scapegoats, responsibility lies first and foremost with the nature of contemporary unchecked finance and flawed “activist” monetary management (trumpeted, not coincidently, by our era’s preeminent market Operators). And as much as the consensus view believes that previous financial maladies have been largely rectified, I see a continuation of the same malignant Credit system dynamics. In short, massive government intrusion into the market pricing of Credit continues to fuel economic maladjustment and Bubble dynamics.

Why did Wall Street issue Trillions of ABS, auction-rates securities, CDOs, and private-label MBS? Because they could. Why did the hedge funds and others leverage so egregiously? Because they were making a bloody fortune and the marketplace was more than ok with it. Why did the GSEs increase their MBS guarantees by $400 billion over the past year, and why did the Treasury issue $1.9 Trillion of Treasuries the past twelve months - and will likely do only somewhat less over the next year? And why are cash-strapped state and local governments borrowing so aggressively these days? It’s because the marketplace continues to readily accommodate Credit excess. Who is demonstrating a lack of discipline and vision – the borrower or the lender? The “Governator” or the market Operator? Is this the way the market pricing system is supposed to function?

Why is the marketplace inherently incapable of disciplining the egregious borrower - whether mortgage debt during that Bubble or government debt today? First of all, there are no inherent system restraints on Credit creation. Recalling the mortgage finance Bubble, recent massive increases in the supply of government debt have been met with a collapse in borrowing costs. Second, the marketplace perceived that fiscal and monetary policymakers were backstopping mortgage Credit during the boom. Today, the market is confident that policymakers are firmly behind the Treasury and agency securities markets. Borrowers are undisciplined for one reason: the distorted market mechanism not only fails to discipline them – it accomplishes the exact opposite.