The pandemic has been a financial and political boon to the 1%. Will they really change up the pattern in the coming pandemic relief program?
Matt, a couple of issues. First and foremost the Gini Coefficient increased every year under Obama. It decreased for the first time in half of forever under Trump. not sustainably, of course. K-shaped stimuli are designed to keep forcing the Gini Coefficient higher.
One reason the large firms benefited was the war on small business successfully undertaken by Obama. The most reliable and successful route to upward socioeconomic mobility has always been entrepreneurial pursuit. Immigrants start new businesses at a much higher rate than the native-born, a reason we want more immigrants. New business formations dropped under Obama, and the five-year survival rate plunged. Dodd-Frank created CFPB, which crippled small business.
Second, your citation about 401(k) accounts is from 2017. From 2020, https://medalerthelp.org/blog/retirement-statistics/ reports that 59% of American workers had access to these accounts, but only 32% took advantage of them. That's a failure in life-skills learning, including basic financial education. This is best done in the nuclear family - which the authoritarian left is trying to destroy.
Third is back to the entrepreneurial pursuit issue: It's hard to open a new business when all the existing small businesses are closed. I am a scientist, and can find no information supporting an assertion that the size of a business is relevant to its ability to spread disease, let alone holding a BLM sign or illegally crossing our southern border. I want more opportunities for black Americans and more immigration; I don't want them built on a foundation of lies, any more than I want public health built on that same foundation.
Each of these is a liberal's view of events, not an alt-right bigot's. The fight is between authoritarians and libertarians.
There's a saying that generals always fight the last war. I can see the same idiom applied to economists.
I have to side with Summers. If anything, most people I've talked to agree that significant inflation is likely coming. It's happened before and why shouldn't it happen again? Record low interest rates + massive stimulus spending all point to one thing = massive inflation in the value of assets (which for most people would be housing and funds).
And who gets screwed when the cost of assets soars? Not the asset owners, who get richer on paper are are protected against inflation by owning assets. But the working people who don't own but must rent, and don't have 401ks or investments. In other words, the working classes are going to get screwed. Again.
How did we reach here? At this place where almost every measurement is a speculative instrument or a derivative that has nothing to do with the underlying reality. Valuations have nothing to do with economy, recovery shaped in different letters has nothing to do with the well-being of people, a pandemic has nothing to do with actual medical science and an election that has nothing to do with real choices of the voters.
This past year I have been grappling with these new realities even as I stay put at home doing nothing. TK is one substack where I have found some solace. Yet 2020 as an year had remained an enigma to me until I found this rational, precise and rather long explanation of 2020 like nowhere else.
It is a bit of a long read, but I really thought it opened my eyes to newer realities and therefore took the liberty to share it here in the TK community.
This is the unintended result of the Dual Mandate. In the 1970s, the government insisted that the Fed not only protect against inflation, but that they also keep the unemployment rate low. This specious economic idea sounded like the perfect way to help the rich (by keeping inflation low, thus protecting financial assets) while helping the working class.
In practice, it meant that the Fed must keep the pedal to the metal as long as inflation (as measured by the PCE Index) is behaving. But what happens if the inflation is not in goods and services, but in financial assets instead? What if we don't have "too much money chasing too few goods," but "too much money chasing too few assets?" And every time the unemployment rate ticks up, the remedy is to cut rates and goose asset prices?
The humungous increase in inequality pretty much stems from asset price increases, when the late 1970s and early 1980s turned into the mother of all bull markets in stocks, bonds, and real estate.
This increase in inequality is due to the unintended consequences of a well-meaning, but ultimately flawed law which had the effect of turning the central bank into the biggest central planner on Earth. The US now controls interest rates the way the Volograd Tractor Factory set its quotas: by a bunch of bureaucrats sitting in a room.
Sadly, whoever is closest to the Fed money printing spigot benefits the most. Everyone else will suffer a terrible inflation as the wealth gap widens.
Matt, I’m a huge fan of Hate Inc. and your recent coverage of WallStreetBets taking on the Hedge Funds. Have you considered covering the new reddit grassroots effort to take on the Bullion Banks (JPMorgan, Scotia, etc) who suppress the price of silver and gold? The r/WallstreetSilver group has grown from zero to 37K members in a month, and made the news when they bought out all available retail silver coins/bars in a few days. This David vs. Goliath story seems right up your alley.
In this recent interview, Vampire Squid’s Jeff Currie claims the silver ETFs short the silver price as a hedge. How would that be ethical or legal for the ETFs to short silver when the ETF shareholders are long silver?
Note that the bullion banks are participants and custodians of the largest ETFs, which seems a conflict of interest.
Also note how Bloomberg and CFTC make it sound like Redditors are bad guys for attempting the #silversqueeze…
…while the CFTC turns a blind eye to the bullion banks dumping tons of paper silver contracts during overnight thinly traded hours to drop the price of silver. If you want to get the best price for your asset, you don’t dump large amounts during low volume trading hours.
If this story interests you, please reach out to the mods on Reddit:
You can also reach out to Chris Marcus of Arcadia Economics who wrote the book "The Big Silver Short". He's a very smart and entertaining guy, and is an expert on the silver price manipulation.
This link is to an excellent NPR analysis of the lack of success of wealth taxes in Europe.
Lions...I see what you did there.
Can't figure out how to get help on Substack. Am a Matt T subscriber. Logged in. Don't get full article. Re-logged in (just in case), still can't see full article. Any suggestions? Thanks!
Though the focus here is the disparity in wealth accumulation and government policy that has the effect of inflating the asset values of the well to do, the average income has increased rather dramatically over the last several years, at least prior to the epidemic.