Saturday, 2 July 2011

We have no Solutions Yet

"Don't be fooled. Don't fall into the government's trap. Lenders and debtors will sit at the same table, having agreed to skin the people alive."
Aleka Papariga, Greek Communist Party Leader

The ECB and IMF have yet again decided to lend Greece more money in order to 'avoid' contagion which would lead to a tsunami of defaults across the financial world. The Greeks can't pay but who cares, I don't think any Western Government can. 

'Tough talking' British Prime Minister Cameron told Ed Milliband during this weeks PMQ's Punch and Judy show that if Labour were in power, then we would have a Greek crisis. Yet what is the current Governments approach? Inflation is rising. The BoE have now admitted they don't give a monkeys about Inflation. Despite it being more than double their official target they have stated that more QE (money printing) may be 'required'. The rate of inflation is now predicted to stay above target for the next two years. Of course, what they don't say is they plan for it to stay around for the whole decade.

David Cameron is a showman, all talk and no action, a modern day Ted Heath, as I previously said before he came to power. He has been in power for over a year, yet the Government continues to spend more money
"During April and May, the first two months of this fiscal year, the Government borrowed £27.4bn according to figures released last week, up from £25.9bn during the same months in 2010."
The majority of people are wrong that Cameron will solve our problems. A valuable lesson in life is that people are not able to see trends. They see the current time-frame, and extrapolate. When Cameron talks of 'austerity' and 'cuts' the public believes we will be back to boom times again soon. Cameron is no Thatcher. The Governments loose monetary policy may inflate tax receipts, but spending will rise as costs always catch up. Thatcher raised rates, lowered spending and let business go to the wall. Until this happens, then the current rhetoric is all fluff.

History is repeating itself again. Britain in the 1970's had some of the highest inflation in the developed world. Fast forward 40 years and its the same again, we are world leaders in the Western inflation league table. Germany meanwhile has less than half our inflation rate, and their earnings, unlike ours, are rising in real terms,
"Real earnings, that is, the price-adjusted gross monthly earnings of full-time employees, rose by an average 2.0% in the first quarter of 2011 on the same quarter of 2010. As also reported by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), nominal earnings increased by 4.1% in the first quarter of 2011 compared with the first quarter of 2010. Consumer prices were up 2.1% in the same period. The increase in real earnings was the second highest since the beginning of the time series in 2008, while that in nominal earnings was stronger than ever before in the given period."
Yet Germany imports every drop of oil, and the majority of food, just like the UK. UK wages in real terms continue to decline,
"Average pay rose at an annual rate of just 1.8% a year in April, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), while the consumer prices index was running at 4.5%."
Inflation is a monetary phenomenon. Keynesian's will point to the symptoms of Inflation and tell the public that these are the causes, for example increases in workers wages. Government friendly economists state that if wages do not rise, then inflation should be subdued. It doesn't take an economist to work out this is just plain illogical thinking. The above clearly disproves the theory. German wages are rising twice as fast, but the inflation rate is half as much. By any scientific measure this Keynesian law wouldn't even hold at primary level education. 

Now is a time to reign in loose monetary policy, but not for the UK, its time to print more. If history is a guide the UK will have negative wage growth and high inflation for a long time, just like in the seventies. Worse still, we will accept it. Its a culture thing. Similar to the Greeks, as the quote at the top of this article reads, believing their problems are inflicted by others, when in reality it is all their own reckless doing. They wasted money for years.

The rise of union strikes have also become more prominent. So rather than lacing up our boots to go work, like the Germans, we decide not to turn up to work, compounding inflationary pressures, eroding our global market competitiveness and lowering real term wage growth. Marvelous! I believe people are free to do as they please. Strikes however are always a waste of time and do not raise peoples living standards. It seems to me that their living standards are already quite cushy compared with many,

"The calculations show that a mid-ranking teacher on £32,000 a year will receive a final salary pension that is the equivalent of having built up a £500,000 pension pot. This is 20 times higher than the average private sector scheme, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics."
Rather than sulk, how about they spare a thought for future generations. State pensions will be non existent, despite the fact we pay National Insurance, the greatest ponzi scheme in existence and the new pension standard is to be put on a private contributory scheme (if you are lucky) that is no where near as previous non-defined schemes. 

Previous generations fought a war, underwent rationing during the 1940's and 1950's, left school at 15, worked for 40-50 years and got a paltry state pension, if they lived that long. Meanwhile many boomer's were the first generation that got a free University education, gained greatly from credit booms from substantial asset inflation in items such as houses and to top it off were given gold plated pensions. A generalisation, of course, my mum left school at 15, never went to University and won't have a gold plated pension, but for many of her generation this was not the case. However this is how economies should work, the next generation has it better.

Subsequent generations now have to pay for their University education. They will never see their state pension as it keeps riding on further into the sunset. Private pensions are minimal in comparison. This is not how the next generation should have to live. But hey, that's governments, they take money from the future to buy off present day votes.

Circumstances will improve, the free market will see to that. As the Government creates more problems the only way to solve them will be to expand the price system and allow free markets further reign over the economy. It always happens. The end of this current age of stagflation will result in further moves towards free markets. Just like the last stagflation. In the current climate I see no solutions yet, just more compounding of our current problems. The solutions will come, just not quite yet.