Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Gold vs Cash in a Financial Crisis - Richard_Mills
2.Current Stock Market Rally Similarities To 1999 - Chris_Vermeulen
3.America See You On The Dark Side Of The Moon - Part2 - James_Quinn
4.Stock Market Trend Forecast Outlook for 2020 - Nadeem_Walayat
5.Who Said Stock Market Traders and Investor are Emotional Right Now? - Chris_Vermeulen
6.Gold Upswing and Lessons from Gold Tops - P_Radomski_CFA
7.Economic Tribulation is Coming, and Here is Why - Michael_Pento
8.What to Expect in Our Next Recession/Depression? - Raymond_Matison
9.The Fed Celebrates While Americans Drown in Financial Despair - John_Mauldin
10.Hi-yo Silver Away! - Richard_Mills
Last 7 days
Stock Market Final Thrust Review - 19th Jan 20
Gold Trade Usage & Price Effect - 19th Jan 20
Stock Market Trend Forecast 2020 - Trend Analysis - Video - 19th Jan 20
Stock Trade-of-the-Week: Dorchester Minerals (DMLP) - 19th Jan 20
INTEL (INTC) Stock Investing in AI Machine Intelligence Mega-trend 2020 and Beyond - 18th Jan 20
Gold Stocks Wavering - 18th Jan 20
Best Amazon iPhone Case Fits 6s, 7, 8 by Toovren Review - 18th Jan 20
1. GOOGLE (Alphabet) - Primary AI Tech Stock For Investing 2020 - 17th Jan 20
ERY Energy Bear Continues Basing Setup – Breakout Expected Near January 24th - 17th Jan 20
What Expiring Stock and Commodity Market Bubbles Look Like - 17th Jan 20
Platinum Breaks $1000 On Big Rally - What's Next Forecast - 17th Jan 20
Precious Metals Set to Keep Powering Ahead - 17th Jan 20
Stock Market and the US Presidential Election Cycle  - 16th Jan 20
Shifting Undercurrents In The US Stock Market - 16th Jan 20
America 2020 – YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY (PART TWO) - 16th Jan 20
Yes, China Is a Currency Manipulator – And the U.S. Banking System Is a Metals Manipulator - 16th Jan 20
MICROSOFT Stock Investing in AI Machine Intelligence Mega-trend 2020 and Beyond - 15th Jan 20
Silver Traders Big Trend Analysis – Part II - 15th Jan 20
Silver Short-Term Pullback Before Acceleration Higher - 15th Jan 20
Gold Overall Outlook Is 'Strongly Bullish' - 15th Jan 20
AMD is Killing Intel - Best CPU's For 2020! Ryzen 3900x, 3950x, 3960x Budget, to High End Systems - 15th Jan 20
The Importance Of Keeping Invoices Up To Date - 15th Jan 20
Stock Market Elliott Wave Analysis 2020 - 14th Jan 20
Walmart Has Made a Genius Move to Beat Amazon - 14th Jan 20
Deep State 2020 – A Year Of Living Dangerously! - 14th Jan 20
The End of College Is Near - 14th Jan 20
AI Stocks Investing 2020 to Profit from the Machine Intelligence Mega-trend - Video - 14th Jan 20
Stock Market Final Thrust - 14th Jan 20
British Pound GBP Trend Forecast Review - 13th Jan 20
Trumpism Stock Market and the crisis in American social equality - 13th Jan 20
Silver Investors Big Trend Analysis for – Part I - 13th Jan 20
Craig Hemke Gold & Silver 2020 Prediction, Slams Biased Gold Naysayers - 13th Jan 20
AMAZON Stock Investing in AI Machine Intelligence Mega-trend 2020 and Beyond - 11th Jan 20
Gold Price Reacting to Global Flash Points - 11th Jan 20
Land Rover Discovery Sport 2020 - What You Need to Know Before Buying - 11th Jan 20
Gold Buying Precarious - 11th Jan 20
The Crazy Stock Market Train to Bull Eternity - 11th Jan 20

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Nadeem Walayat Financial Markets Analysiis and Trend Forecasts

When Zero Interest Rates Don't Work

Interest-Rates / US Interest Rates Jun 28, 2012 - 04:20 AM GMT

By: Fred_Sheehan

Interest-Rates

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleJon Hilsenrath, the Wall Street Journal's ferret at the Fed, reports what the Federal Reserve wants the public to know while retaining anonymity. He found the professors in a stew. In the June 19, 2012, edition, Hilsenrath disclosed: "Fed officials have been frustrated in the past year that low interest rate policies haven't reached enough Americans to spur stronger growth, the way economics textbooks say low rates should. By reducing interest rates-the cost of credit-the Fed encourages household spending, business investment and hiring, in addition to reducing the burden of past debts. But the economy hasn't been working according to script."



Since the professors wrote the textbooks, Fed headquarters is not a source of economic inspiration. Textbooks in the U.S. are the monopoly of Bernanke, Romer, Mishkin and a few other cross-pollinated primates.

Notable in Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's Essays on the Great Depression is its inbreeding. The professor is unsparing in his praise of such contemporaries as Romer, Mishkin, and of course, devoted to Friedman and Schwartz. He neglects earlier economists who might have modified the certainty of his negative real interest rate policy.

There were many prominent economists - two, three, and four generations ago - who warned that low- and lower- and zero-percent interest rates may fail to waken an economy. Bank reserves may sit in the bank. That's that.

This happened in the Great One. It was obvious by the mid-1930s there was little appetite for lending or borrowing, even with interest rates below one percent. If ever the phrase "it takes two to tango" fits, here we are. A loan includes two parties: a lender and a borrower. Reading Hilsenrath's article, the stalagmites in the Eccles Building only think about the lack of lending. The possibility that credit-worthy customers do not want to borrow is apparently negligible.

By 1934-1935 the domestic banking system had become saturated with idle cash. So notes David Stockman, former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Reagan, in the draft of his future book: The Great Deformation: How Crony Capitalism Corrupted Free Markets and Democracy. Stockman writes that excess bank reserves at the Fed rose from $2.7 billion in 1933 to $11.7 billion by 1939. These fallow dollars remained sterile, like Grandpa Joad's farm. They accounted for 75% of the Fed's balance-sheet growth during the period.

Bernanke has entirely ignored earlier scholarship, but it may be of interest to readers:

In 1910, William Beveridge (of the 1942 Beveridge Report) wrote:

"Clearly a mere offer of cheap money does not suffice; banks at times of depression may go on offering cheap money for months or even years together before any recovery happens."

-- William Beveridge, Unemployment: A Problem of Industry, Longman, Green and Co. (1910)


In 1926, Dennis Robertson:

"...while there is always some rate of interest which will check an eager borrower, there may be no rate of money interest in excess of zero which will stimulate an unwilling one."

Robertson also wrote:

"...those theorists are right who have found cause of 'crises' in a 'deficiency of capital.' But what is deficient is not money, otherwise the situation could be cured, as all experience shows it cannot, by continued inflation."

-- Dennis Robertson, Banking Policy and the Price Level, King, 1926


In 1936, Wilhelm Ropke:

"The American experiences have amply verified the surmise that even an interest rate which approaches zero may be insufficient...to induce entrepreneurs to enter upon new investment."

--Wilhelm Ropke, Crises and Cycles, William Hodge & Company, Limited, 1936


In 1937, C.A. Phillips, T.F. McManus and R.W. Nelson:

"[W]e have witnessed for four years and more a policy of deficit borrowing which has forced Government bonds on the banks and has created new credits to such an extent that the demand deposits of the Federal Reserve System are now higher than they were in 1929 ($16,324 million on June 29, 1929, $19,161 million on March 1936); and for almost five years we have experienced excessively low rates of interest for short-term capital coincidentally with unprecedented excess reserves in the banking system; both conditions indicate that the basic immediate need is not for more credit, but rather that conditions in the investment market are still such that extensive long-term investment is not being made."

Also from the trio:

"What is to be desired is a greater use of bank credit now in existence rather than a greater absolute volume of credit....The total volume of bank deposits now in existence is in excess of the 1920 total ($51,335 millions of deposits [exclusive of interbank deposits] on June 30, 1936, as against $37,721 million in June, 1920), yet the price level and the cost of living are both below the levels prevailing in 1920-1921. Between December 30, 1933, and December 31, 1935, total deposits [exclusive of interbank deposits] increased by $10,459 million, or at a rate of $100 million a week."

--Banking and the Business Cycle, 1937


The reader may note a common theme in the titles to these books, "banking" and "cycles" recurring. This suggests why Bernanke & Co. may remain detached from such tomes. They do not believe in cycles. If bad things happen, the intruders are thwarted by good policy. That the policy is "good" is assumed. (I am not making this up.)

In 1937 (probably: this is from the 1946 edition), Gottfried Haberler:

"During a depression, loans are liquidated and gradually money flows back from circulation into the reserves of banks....Interest is by this time fallen to an abnormally low level; but, with prices sagging and with a prevalence of pessimism, it may be that even an exceedingly low level of interest rates will not stimulate people to borrow."

-- Gottfried Haberler, Prosperity and Depression: A Theoretical Analysis of Cyclical Movements, United Nations, 1946.

Haberler discussed Ralph Hawtrey, who changed his mind. Hawtrey's shift is mentioned since there is an inverse relationship between one's status (regardless of whether we are discussing economists, biologists, or motor mechanics) and the willingness to admit one's error. Hats off to Hawtrey:

"Mr. R.W. Hawtrey is confident that eventually, if only the purchases of securities are carried far enough [and, by implication, interest rates are low enough - FJS] the new money will find an outlet into circulation, consumers' income and outlay will begin to rise, and a self-reinforcing process of expansion will be started."

Haberler wrote of Hawtrey's maturation: "In more recent publications, under the impression of the slump of the nineteen-thirties, Mr. Hawtrey has modified his views to some extent. He still believes that 'a failure of cheap money to stimulate revival' is 'a rare occurrence' but he admits that since 1930, it has come to plague the world and has confronted us with problems which have threatened the fabric of civilization with destruction."

Frederick Sheehan will speak at the Committee for Monetary Research and Education (CMRE) dinner on Thursday, May 17, 2012. It will be held at The Union League Club in New York. He will discuss "How We Got Here." Sign up here

By Frederick Sheehan

See his blog at www.aucontrarian.com

Frederick Sheehan is the author of Panderer to Power: The Untold Story of How Alan Greenspan Enriched Wall Street and Left a Legacy of Recession (McGraw-Hill, November 2009).

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Comments

gAnton
28 Jun 12, 09:50
Bernanke's Reverse Midas Touch

Bernanke was an unfortunate choice to lead the FED. He has a reverse Midas touch. Everything he touches doesn't turn into gold--ir turns into something else.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules