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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mid Term Thoughts, Tax cuts and Quantitative Easing

Sorry for the absence.  My new job is a major stress, and grad school is kicking my ass.

Ok.  Disappointment.  Given that the Republicans will not add ANYTHING to the debate for the next two years owing to a strategic necessity to get a Republican into office in 2012, I despair.  Not for partisan reasons, but that means that the suffering of the middle class and the poor will continue for at least another six years, if not worsen.  Already displays of racism, and calls for insurrection, and secession abound, what else is in store?

Tax Cuts.  We've discussed this a great deal in my tax class, and even though my tax professor has argued against letting them expire, the only argument he can offer in support is that "you don't raise taxes in a bad economy."  Which is exactly the opposite of the truth.  Taxes are predominantly raised during bad economic times.  Why else?  Government revenues are up when people are employed and making money.  And government automatic stabilizers need funds during the down times.  That said, I think the best graphic I've seen yet on this was in the Rachel Maddow show (god bless her).  Deficit concerns aide, do 98% of Americans really want to underwrite that massive bloat, for rich arseholes who did more to contribute to the recession than any other demographic?

Quantitative Easing.  I love this term.  I want to write a song about it.  Or a poem.  We keep a bottle of Quantitative Easing under the nightstand.  There's a lot of on air blather about this out there, but there a couple of things you should know.  The main concerns are inflation, capital flight, and deficits.  The fears of inflation are irrelevant right now, inflation is at all time lows.  One of the commentators linked to above insists that the Fed can directly increase inflation by creating money in bonds.  This is the Fed's job, they do it everyday, and the fed uses the same metrics to calculate inflation regardless of how they choose to do it.  If inflation gets too high, the Fed can simply retire the debt.  This is ordinary monetary policy, what's unordinary is the fantastic amount of money they're planning on creating.  Capital flight fears are more interesting.  They suggest that the new money coming into the system won't be used in this country at all, it will be used in growth markets like China and India, where GDP is going up 10% a year.  This seems a more reasonable critique to me, but to be fair, investment in developing markets helps us too.  As the standard of living rises in the developing world, labor prices increase.  There are huge rumblings of this occurring in China and India already. Which means the gross export inequities between East and West will eventually have to end.

Anyway, I have one simple argument for Quantitative Easing.  The Fed doesn't need Congress to do it, and the economy needs something, now.  And given the disastrous midterms, Obi One Bernanke, you're our only hope.

Fyi:  You need to watch this video:

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