Re: "Oh, and in really bad times, gold is useless as it cannot be eaten or worn."
If we're into shotgun and baked bean territory, you'll damn well have to be prepared to use the shotgun and be hella fast on the reloads.
I recently read this piece in The Times. It tells the world a bit about Richard Murphy, the, uh, “economist” behind many of the ideas which make up Jeremy Corbyn's platform about money 'n' stuff. It piqued my interest as I've been waging a near decade-long battle against the ideas (and at times, the person) of Richard Murphy. …
If we're into shotgun and baked bean territory, you'll damn well have to be prepared to use the shotgun and be hella fast on the reloads.
Gold isn't for the bad times, it's for the rebuilding period afterwards.
The most important assets for bad times are family, friends and community, and a little bit of arable land near fresh water doesn't hurt either.
"When I suspected hard times were coming for the company I worked for, (I was right) I shovelled cash into the pension fund having already disposed of all debts in a previous down turn."
When Northern Telecom went bust the company pension fund management was fortunately taken into the government's newly established safety net scheme. The safety net scheme capped any new pension at £28k.
Eventually the trustees fought a long legal battle in several countries to get the pension fund's £2bn recovered from the NT assets - of which there were just about enough. I presume they were then able to be released from the safety net.
If the government decides to discontinue that scheme then any similar future pension fund situations will mean a raw deal for their pensioners.
"A good example is the 1870 war when food and firewood in Paris became enormously expensive and gold was of little value"
That was presumably a closed situation - a siege. If the borders are still open - and other economies are still functioning - then gold can be used by people with access to external markets.
That happened in the hyperinflation of the Weimar Republic.
Germany after 1945 saw people bartering their family jewels etc to occupying soldiers for food - that was often itself stolen from allied force's warehouses.
Film "The Third Man"
Film "Germany Year Zero"
Autobiography "Hamburg 1947" by Harry Leslie Smith
Its the "if other economies are still functioning" that's the catch. In a siege, sure, but if the "really bad times" are the result of an economic collapse, other economies will taken down too depending on how big and interconnected the local economy is.
If you're in the UK and it becomes totally dysfunctional/dystopian, even IF the economy of, say, Russia was still functioning, there has to be a way to get the gold out of the UK and bring in something you need (i.e. food) Both are subject to theft along the way, so even if the value was gold was nominally high in Russia, it will still be very low in the UK because of the difficulty and risk in transporting it to Russia where it worth something. Likewise, if food was relatively cheap in Russia, it will still cost a fortune when it gets to the UK for the same reasons (plus spoilage, which at least you don't have to worry about with gold)
The UK economy going tits up would seriously impact the world, but the world would probably still be able to function, to a degree. If the US economy went under, it would almost certainly take down the rest of the world. At that point, unless you know some gold loving aliens, the value of the stuff is going to plummet to near zero (after first skyrocketing) once gold bugs realize that people who hold physical gold in such a world may as well be stock piling masonry bricks. It will be food, fuel and bullets that will matter, and be the "money" of that world.
"If we're into shotgun and baked bean territory, you'll damn well have to be prepared to use the shotgun."
More to the point:
You have to be prepared to eat the baked beans!
>The most important assets for bad times are family, friends and community, and a little bit of arable land near fresh water doesn't hurt either.
I was chatting to a friend with family in Greece. She mentioned that everyone was pulling together and eating things they were growing.
So much for increasing income taxes and VAT.
If I think Corbyn has a chance in Hades I would try to leap out of any cash or income sources into something worthwhile hoarding.
Corbyn will get at most one shot at winning an election. 2020. The odds of him winning are miniscule, but should he prevail, I'd seek to leave the country. Corbyns adviser may like to believe that won't happen, but I can promise him, promise him, that it would.
It will already take the UK until about 2050 to pay the tab left by the last Labour government. The prospect of another labour government, even more barking than Gordons, would in my view make the UK unrepairable without default. The poor and the retired will bear the greatest cost for that. So if the left wish to persue it, then they can do so without my aid. The bottom line? If you want to live under socialism, go live in France.
Who cares? Just some asshat on the internet? Yup. The bit where it matters is I'm one of the better educated, higher earning asshats that have built up a small but significant amount of earned wealth. Last time around we called this a brain drain. In the internet age, it will be an exodus.
The most important assets for bad times are family, friends and community, and a little bit of arable land near fresh water doesn't hurt either.
If things ever got that bad then you'd need firearms and a large group of friends more than anything else. Setting up your little collective and farming the land is nice, until the gangs arrive and use your women for entertainment while you load your produce into their transport.
Community in the lefty sense simply wouldn't exist. If your neighbour has food and your kids are hungry... As soon as there isn't enough food for everyone, everyone prioritises their own at the expense of others.
"When people really worry about the future they now see cash as being a liability. Cash in banks is regarded as a wasting asset - or even worse a hostage to government "capping" seizures."
Today, cash is always a liability. If you save and then something bad happens, you have to use those savings to see you through until most are gone and then the government steps in. If you don't have savings, the government simply steps in earlier. The whole benefits system is weighted against having savings.
"Corbyn will get at most one shot at winning an election. 2020. The odds of him winning are miniscule, but should he prevail, I'd seek to leave the country. "
Oh I do like that threat. Ooh, I'll leave the country. The fatuous remark of every washed up celebrity trying to get a para in the Mail come election time.
Nobody would miss them. Or you. Not that this is an argument in favour of Corbyn, it's just an argument against silly posturing.
Nobody would miss them. Or you. Not that this is an argument in favour of Corbyn, it's just an argument against silly posturing
Perhaps not, but the two public sector workers my taxes support would certainly miss their jobs. It is directly connected, even if they, and you, refuse to see it. There is no magic money tree: Every single pound spent in the public sector has come directly out of private sector workers pockets - government borrowing only delays that. When I leave the job it goes to India.... not sure they'll want to pay for the NHS.
Far from being posturing, it's a sensible insurance plan. Corbyn wants the state to own, well, pretty much everything. And he has not one bean to pay for that. So whatever money he uses will, as ever, come out of private individuals pockets - just because he doesn't announce a wealth haircut doesn't mean that isn't what he is doing, and by the time he does announce it, it will be too late to flee. I pay far too much for the state as it is - I'm certainly not hanging around for them to come back for another bite of the minority share they left me with in previous years.
So where to go? America, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Switzerland, etc etc There's a whole world out there. Even if I was desperately daft enough to wish to live under socialism, I'd be better of going to France where the weather and the wine are better.
This assumption you have, that because you wouldn't move nobody else will, is one the country cannot afford. Literally, it cannot afford it.
@ Arnaut the less
"Nobody would miss them. Or you. Not that this is an argument in favour of Corbyn, it's just an argument against silly posturing."
You might not miss them but you will miss their money as France found out. Offering gifts for everyone is great until you need to find the money to pay for it. And as the green eyes seek those with money with their greedy hands reaching out while talking about 'fair', the people who can afford to will move their wealth to a less hostile country.
The claims of posturing ignore what has and does actually happen. When those richer than you leave then YOU will be the rich one. You wont have any additional wealth but you will be the washed up posturer that nobody will miss (but for the money).
Piketty has been so widely and thoroughly discredited by now than I'm genuinely surprised to find someone citing him. Starting with your conclusions and then doing your research rarely leads to aninformed assessment.
The trains and the utilities are not "pretty much everything".
The trains and utilities are just the start.
There is a case to be made for at least part nationalising the railways.
Not as compelling a case, unfortunately, for not nationalising any part of them, but instead doing the privatisation properly rather than the botched mess Major made of it. It IS better than BR, much better, but it could be better still - and I'd be amazed if you find any rail commuter old enough to have used BR daily that would disagree with that.
The difficulty of getting private industry to invest in electricity generation without subsidies shows that there is a similar case for utilities.
Private industry invests where the best returns are available. It's how markets work. Capping rises or otherwise interfereing with the normal market function is what distorts the market leading to a perceived requirement for state intervention. To actually be advocating nationalising energy generation you must have been too young to have really lived through the miners strikes and the rolling brownouts that were a normal part of life. Those of us who lived it definately will not allow you to drag us back to that farce.
That means someone is paying you. Will this continue if you go abroad?
That's generally considered to be how capitalism works. Yes, someone would continue to pay me abroad, just probably as a contractor for tax efficiency.
If your work goes to India that is a net cash outflow, but will it be as much as your current income?
I can see where you're going with this and can already see why you've got it wrong.
The net outflow of cash from the economy may seem small to you, but where it ticks up a lot is that my assets and the income produced from them would be relocating off shore with me, so no taxes paid to the UK on that either.
The next thing you're missing, is that I don't work for a British bank. I work for a subsidiary of a foreign owned bank. Once my role goes to India, the capital to fund it goes home. 100% of my tax contribution to the UK economy is lost forever. And that means those public sector workers I fund are shit out of luck.
How can you be so confident that the hose will simply stop pouring money into wherever you live and start pouring it into Bangalore?
It is what has happened to the last 6 roles people have vacated in my team and what my bosses have indicated will occur. Bet against it if you choose, just don't say you weren't warned and don't try to shirk responsibility for the mess. The left are rather too keen on that for their own good.
Once the nationalisations start, assuming they could be financed, companies will become nervous. The first time less than full compensation is paid to the business owners, the corporate flight from the UK will be so fast and thunderous that it will make you dizzy.
In short, there's a lot of rather simplistic exaggeration in your posts.
I kept it simple so you;d understand. Apparantly I underestimated your desire not to do so. There is no exaggeration, there is no hyperbole. Its just a fact. That you aren't comfortable with the outcome should be informing your thoughts on the process of getting there, no?
@ Arnaut the less
"Read Piketty. You might possibly learn something about whose greedy hands are reaching out while telling everybody that there is no alternative to things as they are."
I might read his stuff at some point, especially why he doesnt think the Laffer curve is applicable to France as that kind of thinking caused their rich to leave. But I dont need to look as far as France when here in the UK we have plenty of people wanting to tax more to pay the debts and tax more to provide services and tax more to punish the bankers/rich/undeserving/political opponents/people they dont like.
Of course it is always someone else who should pay and it is the 'rich' who should pay a 'fair' amount. Notice that neither rich nor fair are defined and are a blank cheque just as a war on terror is without limits not boundaries.
And of course there are alternatives. N.Korea is a shining example of how socialism can work, but I certainly wouldnt want to live like that. USSR fell and China is forced to embrace more and more capitalism to survive although communist china was somewhat successful but we tend to be unhappy with famine and repression. So alternatives are about balancing a working economy and welfare. Too far one way or the other and we all suffer.... as the French found out by ignoring the Laffer curve.
As a general rule, whenever Socialists are expected to get into power, invest in property. DO NOT invest in land per se, but in land that has something built upon it, because Socialism is the creed of the worshippers of pettifogging rules.
Whenever Socialists get into power, they always cause a property price boom through regulative ineptitude and over-exuberance. When this occurs, take your ill-gotten gains and invest in something other than the local currency, for Socialist economists know not their arse from their elbow.
If you're investing in gold, invest in bullion jewellery and take it with you when you do a flit. Gold is highly portable, and means you aren't destitute when you get to a safe country and settle down again.
Piketty has been so widely and thoroughly discredited by now than I'm genuinely surprised to find someone citing him.
Absolutely, completely false. The supposedly flawed figures, which he addressed, did not impact his basic premise.
I was once at a meeting of "high flyer" treasury recruits who had been sent to the provinces to be exposed to the tedious reality of small business. They were astounded that the self-employed and small partnerships were considering incorporating in order to take advantage of changes to Corporation Tax that had been introduced by Gordon Brown. Surely no-one would change their legal status simply to reduce their tax bill? And in this case the "utility" argument was very simple - it was literally money for nothing - no other considerations, no down side.
I'm rather more worried that these people are presumably now in senior positions in the civil service where they are giving advice to cabinet ministers - it's not as if Mr Corbyn is likely ever to be amongst the beneficiaries of their wisdom..
They were astounded that the self-employed and small partnerships were considering incorporating in order to take advantage of changes to Corporation Tax that had been introduced by Gordon Brown. Surely no-one would change their legal status simply to reduce their tax bill?
Given the ease with which a company can be setup in foreign jurisdictions, they'd be positively horrified had they thought the matter through. The competition for corporate taxes is now a global one and that won't change for several lifetimes. You either win that game or you lose it - not playing just means you lose.
... try to read this piece, but get deafened by the sounds of Axes grinding?
Well, yes. Although in my defence I'd point out that I've read and digested more or Murphy's output over the years than practically anyone else. Even possibly than Murphy: for I understand his mistakes rather better than he does.
It really isn't just because he's sorta lefty (Chris Dillow is flat out Marxist and yet has some very good policy proposals) it's because he's incompetent, in my opinion, as an economist. Which is not a notable recommendation in one who would recommend the economic course the Kingdom should follow.
Nope, because I first came across Tim's blog by searching for more information about Murphy after some ludicrous assertion or other that he had made.
I agree about the Axes Grinding. For example, Tim Worstall attacks Richard Murphy personally re his HE Economics prowess: many groundbreaking discoveries in the Sciences have been made by people who disagreed with the accepted wisdom taught at Universities. The Australian economist Steve Keen, amongst others, essentially supports Murphy's concept of a peoples' QE.
Well, let them try it in Australia first then. I've always wanted to visit, might as well do it when they're experiencing hyperinflation so I can stay for a month and travel all over the whole country for $100 US :)
That Steve Keen agrees with an economic idea is not generally regarded as proof of that idea's usefulness.
But obviously that's jut another axe being ground.
Yes, I do know Keen's analysis iof why standard economics is all wet, have discussed it directly with him and no, am not convinced.
Disagreeing with the accepted wisdom is one thing. Agreeing with the accepted stupidity is quite another.
How about an approach to satisfy both Corbyn and Worstall?
Use the QE is buy bonds in (say) the new Northern electrified train line or a new Housing Corporation - after all that is part of the way the Channel Tunnel was financed.
Worstall has his bonds and Corbyn has his infrastructure
That's classic Keynesian economics old chap, nothing new there.
"Use the QE is buy bonds in (say) the new Northern electrified train line or a new Housing Corporation - after all that is part of the way the Channel Tunnel was financed.
Worstall has his bonds and Corbyn has his infrastructure"
With what money? Either it's printed or borrowed. If it's borrowed that Keynesianism as was said by the previous poster, if it's printed you are doing exactly what People QE (Quickly in Excrement) is.
Then a Corbyn Gov would Nationalise the project making those bonds worthless.
Didn't you read his policy on re-instating Clause 4?
With that back in place his party will become unelectable. The workforce has moved on since the 1930's/1940's/1950's/1970's and 1980's.
Far fewer feel the need to be in a Union and to be honest with some of the retro throwbacks currently in charge of them it is no surprise.
I was in a Trade Union once. I had to be because of the Closed Shop it ran. Normally Apprentices were exempt from having to join the Union. Not this place. Full dues as well.
My Father was a staunch Trade Unionist. He joined up when he started working at 'The Vauxhall' in Luton circa 1932/33. He never felt the need to join the Labor Party.
Why Union leaders seem to assume that their entire membership support the goals of the Labor Party was quite beyond him. In the end he tore up his Union Card because he was a Liberal PArty member.
As a result, I've not felt the need to join a union or a political party in the last 40 years. I don't see that changing anytime soon.
Yes printed money. As Tim said:
"So we do it by using printed money to buy bonds, which injects the money into the economy, and then sell those bonds back once we need to withdraw the money from the economy, and simply destroy the money we've raised."
Ah, the unions.
Throughout history, unions have done a massive amount of good for a huge number of people. We have all benefited from increased safety legislation that arguably starts with unionisation, or is at least accelerated by it, for instance.
However, in my current job, I just offered a short term role to a guy for £200/day, he was happy to take it. One of the union bods (and it is a small industry sector, maybe 80 people on the union's 'ok' list) called him up and warned him off our job as they were demanding £350+/day from other clients. I know some of those other clients are actively recruiting guys from South Africa an Romania on under £200/day just because of the bullying and overreach of the union. So, as a result, I can't use the guy I wanted, I have to pay more for someone I don't want, who is going to get all pissy for working a full-length day despite earning more than any other person (including myself by a huge margin). Honest days work for an honest days pay doesn't come into it, it's a feifdom protecting jobs for the top half of that union list who think that £1200/week is not a fair deal for an NVQ2/NVQ3 (GCSE/A-level rough equivalents) guy and hold the industry to ransom.
It pains me to say it, but Thatcher had a point.
The key element of that in Tim's argument is:
"It's also, going back to our technical discussion, making M0 to spend: and as that MV=PQ again tells us, making M0 to spend *can* be highly inflationary."
I highlighted the 'can' - yes it can, but it doesn't automatically follow, as MMTers have pointed out to Tim, and, from memory, he acknowledges, but won't accept for the simple economic reasoning of 'I don't trust the government'.
(Which strikes me as a bit weird given how comfortable Tim must be with the number of nuclear weapons in the hands of the government.)
Be that as it may, it doesn't have to be inflationary - as long as the government isn't competing for *real* resources - commodities, people, etc, then inflation doesn't have to follow. Again, MMTers know this because they follow how money works in real-life, not just a theory on how it should work in a perfect world.
Why do you assume he's "comfortable with the number of nuclear weapons on the hands of the government". He's not a Tory, you are just assuming that because a lot of his economic positions are similar to theirs.
I'm an economic conservative, socially liberal and think the US (and UK, but I don't live there so they're not my problem) spend way too much on defense. We should be defending our borders from attack, and only rarely get involved outside our country (like WW II made sense, but not Korea, Vietnam, or Iraq)
I'd prefer the number of nuclear weapons the US has be cut massively, because we're never going to need all those and it just encourages other countries like Russia and China to have a lot too. We don't know what we'd ever do with that many, nor do they, but we have a lot because they do and vice versa. What I worry about are not the US or UK governments having them, but being in the hands of countries that have a coup and are taken over by crazies. It is a good thing Ukraine got rid of theirs, as who knows what might have happened if the ultranationalists got control and used one on Russian troops invading in the east.
Be that as it may, it doesn't have to be inflationary - as long as the government isn't competing for *real* resources - commodities, people, etc, then inflation doesn't have to follow.
You can't follow a statement like the above with this:
Again, MMTers know this because they follow how money works in real-life, not just a theory on how it should work in a perfect world.
You're basically trying to say that in theory, in a perfect world, the government can print money to spend without inflation. Just so long as it doesn't compete with everyone else in the rest of the economy.
But unless it's paying unicorns to do the stuff it wants, of course it's competing with the rest of the economy. If you print money to build a road, then you're going to be employing people who would otherwise be doing other stuff - using their mechanical diggers (that now won't be digging holes for other clients), and concrete/aggregate/fuel that other people now won't be using.
The same if you employ more nurses, someone else now won't be paying those people to do stuff.
Now you can get away with this in Greece for example. Where they have deflation and mass unemployment and under-utilisation of resources. Printing money in Greece is exactly what the Eurozone should have done, but they deliberately decided to exclude Greece from Quantitive Easing - due to being incompetent fuckwits.
In the UK, with much lower unemployment, and wages already slowly rising, printing money to spend would be inflationary.
Secondly you have to remember that economics interacts with politics and public expectations. If enough people believe there's going to be a recession, then there will be. Banking crises are all about confidence. People's belief in what future inflation will be, drives their current actions, and can cause that future inflation. So if you allow the feeling to develop that you're going to lose all monetary discipline, you'll get more inflation than a government that is believed to be prudent doing the same thing.
As an example, I don't believe that QE will in fact be unwound. The Central Banks will use it as a tool to dampen money supply growth without having to raise interest rates so much. So they'll sell some bonds back to the markets. But at some point, I believe a Chancellor will stand up at the budget and quietly just write-off a chunk of the government debt held by the BofE. Because it's a one-off, we'll get away with it with just some minor harrumphing from The Telegraph and the FT. I think that'll have no effect on inflation, and be seen as a one-off. Although it's important not to do it until we're sure we won't need QE again for a nother few generations. As it would make QE (and us) much less credible if say we did that now, then China and the Eurozone economies both collapsed, and we needed to resort to it again.
"As an example, I don't believe that QE will in fact be unwound. "
Think it will be you know. Because those bonds mature over time. And in order to maintain QE that means that BoE must go buy more bonds to replace those maturing.
So, unwinding QE is as simple as not continuing to do QE......and just letting the stock mature.
Sure. QE could die a natural death. But at some point, might some future Chancellor not be tempted to say - "we've got low inflation and there's £umpty billion of QE bonds coming due next year, so we're simply going to write them off, and not pay the BofE"?
In a few years, QE will have already caused what inflation it was going to. And some future Chancellor will be looking at the extra interest payments if that debt is sold back to the markets, and feeling sad about the next election. I'm sure some will be, to mop up excess liquidy, I'm surprised the Bank of England haven't done a bit of it already.
So they'll maybe keep rolling the bonds over at the BofE, paying them the interest and then taking it back as profits - and that's going to start looking increasingly silly, so why not just write the whole lot off? In ten years time, is anyone going to care all that much?
or you could have paid the guy a proper rate.
all you're doing is whining that you didn't get the guy you want which was because you wanted to pay him the rate for immigrant cheap labour - as you yourself actually explained, giving examples of OTHER companies hiring in immigrants to pay them the cheaper wage you wanted to pay! - & he was told "this guy wants to pay you the crappy immigrant labour rate", so he f*cked off elsewhere to someone who'd pay him properly.
and now your moaning "i couldnt get the guy i wanted, meh meh it's the unions fault"
yes you could have got the guy you wanted if you paid him properly! it was your choice at the end of the day, all you had to do was up the wage and bingo!
Silly me, I thought that agreeing a deal with a guy was agreeing a deal with the guy. I've omitted a few key details deliberately because the unions are such a stitch-up in this industry sector, however let's look at a similar scenario.
Let's say you and I agree that I'm going to pay you £300/day to do some job, whether administering a database or whatever. We agree the deal - that is you and I agree that it is fair to us both, and both agree to the terms as adults and able to make rational decisions. I'm not offering you sub-minimum wage, nothing illegal, just an agreement between adults. Now some mobsters come by me and tell me I have to use their DBA company, no choice, no options, and by the way it's £500/day, and if I use you they'll break your kneecaps and burn down my datacentre. You are cut out of the deal. Our agreement counts for nothing. Does that sound fine to you? Let's be clear, this ISN'T a safety issue, ISN'T in fact any other kind of issue other than sheer protectionism. By all means choose that world, and just hope you're on the right side of it or you will starve.
"Didn't you read his policy on re-instating Clause 4?"
His actual words were
"I would want us to have a set of objectives which does include public ownership of some necessary things such as rail.”
The sound of axes grinding as this was spun up was a bit deafening, but privatised rail hasn't exactly proven a very successful project.
Depends where you look. If the rail companies were allowed to explore their own business interests properly, we could see a remarkable improvement in rail services. Look at what Chiltern have done and are doing, and look who's trying to stop them and why.
My thanks to you Tim for making it clear that you were biased on this one. I find your abusive articles much more palatable when you make it clear that it really *is* personal.
I also suspect that in doing so you actually make the article less abusive, as you've been far ruder about other articles and people in the past. Perhaps your clear bias prompted an attempt at impartiality (or perhaps because he accused you in that other article of ad hominem and straw man).
Possibly because I take the worries here seriously, think that the issue is important.....
You must be different to me. I don't find any of Tim's articles abusive in any way. This one is not either unless you don't like have your arguments debated and react by calling the person criticising you names like "neo-liberal" and then removing any comments that are critical from your blog.
"Abusive" is a term that replaces "reality" for people who just cannot accept that what is said is true.
There are already largely enough genuine economists who haven't got the faintest idea how things work, we don't need a crackpot who failed economics to tell people how things should work.
Why doesn't this nincompoop go and invent his own mathematics ? Oh, right, he'd actually have to make that work to be taken seriously.
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