The Bank of Japan Creates a State-Led Monopolistic Banking System

by Taiki Murai and Gunther Schnabl[*] In the second half of the 1980s, 13 Japanese city banks climbed into the group of the world's largest banks, boosted by a domestic speculation boom. With the bursting of the Japanese financial “bubble” in the early 1990s, a gradual decline followed. Since then, the Japanese city banks have … Continue reading The Bank of Japan Creates a State-Led Monopolistic Banking System

Two Tales of Unintended Consequences of Monetary Policy – Tale 1

by Nicolás Cachanosky and Andreas Hoffmann Even when a policy is successful in achieving its desired ends, we have to consider its unintended and unforeseen consequences, resulting from cumulative market adjustments to policy changes that make it hard to judge the overall outcome of a policy in our complex economy. The Federal Reserve and European … Continue reading Two Tales of Unintended Consequences of Monetary Policy – Tale 1

The Venezuelan Crisis and the Political Costs of Reforms

by Pablo Duarte* Venezuela is in deep political and economic crisis. According to Reuters – quoting a leaked document from the Venezuelan Central Bank – output fell 19% and prices increased 800% during 2016. Even though the “Socialism of the 21st Century”, the political program initiated by former President Hugo Chavez, has been losing support … Continue reading The Venezuelan Crisis and the Political Costs of Reforms

Are we all Debt Liquidationists now? … No!

by Andreas Hoffmann A growing number of economists suggest that governments in highly indebted countries should consider liquidating debt via financial repression. In other words, they want governments to intervene in financial markets and push government borrowing costs below the rate of inflation to erode the real value of debt. In a previous post, I … Continue reading Are we all Debt Liquidationists now? … No!

Beware of Financial Repression

by Andreas Hoffmann Government debt levels in many advanced economies, especially in Southern Europe, in the US and in Japan, have reached peacetime records. People are worried and rightly so: C. Reinhart and K. Rogoff have provided evidence that elevated debt-to-GDP ratios may contribute to stagnation or even debt crises. As austerity policies are unpopular … Continue reading Beware of Financial Repression

The Revival of State Banking in Europe

by Alexander Fink[1] and Andreas Hoffmann Since 2009, the role of government in banking has increased substantially in Europe. This is, first, a consequence of capital injections or bailouts of private banks (for instance Dexia in Belgium, Royal Bank of Scotland in the UK, Hypo Real Estate and Commerzbank in Germany, Fortis in the Benelux, … Continue reading The Revival of State Banking in Europe

The Blanchard Danger

by Roger Koppl Oliver Blanchard tells us “Where Danger Lurks”  in the macro-finance world. The big theme is nonlinearity, which is a profoundly conservative move: DSGE modeling is just fine and we don’t need to rethink it at all. We just need to add in some nonlinearities. Blanchard does not tell how to calibrate a … Continue reading The Blanchard Danger

The Euro: a Step Toward the Gold Standard?

by Andreas Hoffmann (University of Leipzig) In a recent piece Jesus Huerta de Soto (2012) argues that the euro is a proxy for the gold standard. He draws several analogies between the euro and the classical gold standard (1880-1912). Like when "going on gold" European governments gave up monetary sovereignty by introducing the euro. Like … Continue reading The Euro: a Step Toward the Gold Standard?

Government Revenues from Low-Interest Rate Policies

by Andreas Hoffmann and Holger Zemanek* Over the last two years Carmen Reinhart and Belen Sbrancia have published a series of papers on financial repression and its historical role in financing government debt. They show that throughout the Bretton Woods period governments in many advanced economies repressed financial markets to liquidate the high levels of debt that … Continue reading Government Revenues from Low-Interest Rate Policies

Money and Government

by Jerry O’Driscoll   The 30th annual Cato monetary conference was held in Washington, D.C. on November 15th. The theme was “Money, Markets, and Government: The Next 30 Years.” It was heavily attended in Cato’s new state-of-the-art Hayek auditorium. Jim Dorn has ably directed it over its entire history. Because of the conference’s breadth and depth, I … Continue reading Money and Government

Hundred Years of Bailouts

by Chidem Kurdas After all that’s been said and written about financial crises, it is rare to come across useful insights.  Financing Failure. A Century of Bailouts by Vern McKinley documents a major continuity with past policy making. He shows that policies intended to prop up failing companies are nothing new—the same basic pattern has recurred time … Continue reading Hundred Years of Bailouts

Remember Those Oil Speculators?

by Chidem Kurdas Less than two months ago, President Obama claimed that speculators were (or at least might be) artificially driving up the price of oil—a notion that some politician or pundit  brings up every time gasoline looks expensive. The idea fades when the market changes direction. Thus in recent weeks, economies worldwide took a … Continue reading Remember Those Oil Speculators?

Euro Crisis from Long Perspective

by Chidem Kurdas The European crisis, in progress for years and still showing no sign of resolution, is largely the result of elite hubris. To create the euro and ram it down the throats of populations that, left to their druthers, would have stayed with their old currencies—this was a massive, top-down social engineering project. … Continue reading Euro Crisis from Long Perspective

Krugman on Banks and Romney

by Chidem Kurdas Regulation advocates seem to regard the JP Morgan loss as the best thing since sliced bread. Thus Paul Krugman gleefully bawls out Mitt Romney for refusing to see it as a sign for greater government intervention. Krugman repeats the by now well-known argument on banks, as a riff on “It’s a Wonderful … Continue reading Krugman on Banks and Romney

Bank Hedges and Social Justice

by  Chidem Kurdas To hedge or not to hedge? That’s the question for many an endeavor. Farmers hedge by selling their harvest ahead of time. Building managers hedge by locking in a price for heating oil or natural gas—last year many got it wrong, blindsided by the decline in the price of gas. Most hedges … Continue reading Bank Hedges and Social Justice

Should Banks Just Buy Treasuries?

by Chidem Kurdas There’s a widespread impression that the $2 billion-plus trading loss JP Morgan Chase announced a few days ago strengthens the case for more regulation of banks.  Below  Jerry O' Driscoll makes this argument more thoughtfully than I've seen any where else. Two basic facts are worth remembering. Fact number one is that in … Continue reading Should Banks Just Buy Treasuries?

The JP Morgan Caper

by Jerry O’Driscoll    J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., one of the nation’s leading banks, revealed that a London trader racked up trading losses reportedly amounting to $2.3 billion over a 15-day period. The losses averaged over $150 million per day, sometimes hitting $200 million daily. The bank states the trades were done to hedge existing … Continue reading The JP Morgan Caper

Big Bank Breakup or Tea Party?

by Chidem Kurdas We’ve been going back and forth on the economics of too-big-to-fail banks but paying less attention to the politics. The most recent ThinkMarkets broadside on banks is Jerry O’Driscoll’s post on the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas annual report. In part of the report, the Dallas Fed’s director of research Harvey Rosenblum argues … Continue reading Big Bank Breakup or Tea Party?

Big Bank Obesity Conundrum

by Chidem Kurdas Is the Federal Reserve a hotbed of trustbusters? Fed officials (as well as some academics) have been calling for forcible downsizing of big banks . “I am of the belief personally that the power of the five largest banks is too concentrated,” Dallas Federal Reserve Bank president Richard Fisher said a few days … Continue reading Big Bank Obesity Conundrum

President Obama’s State of Regulation

by Chidem Kurdas Barack Obama sounded a number of themes in his 2012 State of the Union Address this week, all underpinned by the proposition that socioeconomic ills can be solved by interventionist government in general and his administration in particular. Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, giving the Republican rebuttal, effectively replied to the main claims. He … Continue reading President Obama’s State of Regulation

Why Public Policy Is Inconsistent

by Chidem Kurdas Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JP Morgan Chase, says regulatory policy is working against economic recovery and as such is contradictory. His complaint is about the new bank rules, but in fact government actions in myriad areas are at odds with each other. Consistency does not appear to be an object in … Continue reading Why Public Policy Is Inconsistent

Future of Forecasts

by Chidem Kurdas ‘Tis the season for predictions. Pundits offer conjectures on every conceivable subject, though accumulating evidence in recent years has established, as much as anything can be established, that you might as well examine tea leaves to divine the future. Yet one could learn from prophesies; a few are thought provoking and some may … Continue reading Future of Forecasts

Menace to Savings and Small Businesses

by Chidem Kurdas As the old adage goes, be careful what you ask for, you might just get it. After the 2008 crisis it became fashionable to complain that too much trading is going on. There were calls in this and other countries to restrict financial transactions. And it happened. One example is the rule … Continue reading Menace to Savings and Small Businesses

Emerging Hope in Greece

 by Chidem Kurdas The Greek economy continues to shrink. With the wider European debt crisis and slump hampering Greek recovery, the recession may persist through 2013.   Amid the grim news, however, there is a small sign that austerity measures are starting to work. This evidence is not widely known or reported.  I heard about it … Continue reading Emerging Hope in Greece