If you open any economic textbook you will find a standard explanation of how banks operate. The basic story is that a person deposits some money (say €100) into a bank which then saves a percent of this (say 10%) as a reserve and then lends out the rest. This €90 is then deposited by whoever receives the loan, 10% of which is saved and the rest is lent out. This goes on and on until the original €100 has become €1,000. It is easy to see why students are told this story; it is simple, intuitive and gives them a basic idea of banking. Unfortunately, it is wrong.
There is strong evidence that contrary to the above story (known as the loanable funds theory) the banking system works the other way around. Deposits don’t create loans; loans create deposits (this is known as endogenous money). This is a more complicated story but a more realistic one that can better guide our view of the economy. Continue reading “Endogenous Money Or How Loans Create Deposits”
Most economic concepts are pretty dry, but the Impossible Trinity sounds like one of those dilemmas where you are in a burning house and can only save two out of three people. The term refers not to religion (that Trinity is impossible in its own way) but international trade and how governments can only two out of three options, each of which is desirable in its own way. The three options are fixed exchange rates, independent monetary policy and free movement of capital. If they don’t sound that exciting, they are crucial to understanding the crisis with the Euro and what we can do about it. Continue reading “The Impossible Trinity”
If I were to mention crime, most people would picture a man (possibly of dark skin) hiding in an alleyway ready to jump out and steal your wallet. Or perhaps a burglar who sneaks into your house at night to steal your television. Or someone who will break into your car and steal it because you parked it in a bad area. Or a shifty looking teenager shoplifting from the local corner store. However, there is a type of crime that is greater than all of these combined. A crime not committed by poor ethnic minorities, but by wealthy white professional in offices. A crime committed not by the desperate underclass but by the elites of society. A crime that costs society more than all other thefts combined, yet rarely results in prosecution. I am talking about white collar crime. Continue reading “The Other Kind Of Crime”
Whenever I tell people that I’m studying economics they usually ask me how to solve the recession or what to do about the banks. Each time I’m embarrassed over the fact that we have never even mentioned these issues in lectures. In my course I have basically been taught that the free market is the most efficient and best system in the world and trouble always results when it is interfered with. In my textbooks recessions are not mentioned, they do not happen. There is no explanation of unemployment, the biggest issue of our times. There is no mention of profit, the heart of capitalism. Nor do they talk about banks or money or advertising or how systems are guided by power relations. No mention is made of poverty, in effect ignoring three-quarters of the world.
Continue reading “What Economics Doesn’t Talk About”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a liberal, a Democrat and I’ve voted for Obama for this election. My problem is that my main reason for voting for Obama is that I want Romney to lose. Obama’s campaign has consisted solely of stating Romney’s ideas are bad (which they are), yet he has not defended his own ideas or offered any new policies for his second term. Obama is fighting a defensive campaign, offering to prevent Romney from making things worse, but not offering any ideas for how to make things better. If you ignore the rhetoric and look only at the actions, you will see Obama has not been offering the radical solutions to turn America around. Continue reading “My Problem With Obama”
The financial crash in 2008 came as a surprise to most economists. The believed markets were sufficient and will produce prosperity for all if left to their own devices. However one little known economist had predicted it and developed a theory explaining it. He devised a theory explaining how lenders become lax with their standards, over optimistic and over extend themselves leading to a crash. Even more impressively he did this back in the 70s and 80s so can’t be accused of jumping on the bandwagon. His name is Hyman Minsky (1919-1996) and the theory is called “The Financial Instability Hypothesis”. Continue reading “The Man Who Saw The Crash Coming”