Posts filed under “Think Tank”

How Economists Are Missing Another One

Thornton Parker is the author of “What If Boomers Can’t Retire? How to Build Real Security, Not Phantom Wealth” and has worked for the Department of Commerce and the Executive Office of the President. He focuses on retirement plans and investing in stocks to solve the ongoing Social Security problem. He defines phantom wealth as “the returns from corporate stocks that are based on market prices” as opposed to real wealth that is based on “work, earnings, and solid accomplishments, instead of just hopes.”


Paul Krugman explained, in “How Did Economists Get It So Wrong” (The New York Times Magazine, September 6, 2009) how economists’ oversimplifying assumptions and models led to the present crisis by hiding important realities of the financial system and the real economy.  He also described differences between the “salt water” economists at universities along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and the “fresh water” economists of the Middle West, particularly the University of Chicago.

Today’s crisis grew out of problems on the credit and consumption sides of the economy.  This essay builds on Krugman’s article and explains why problems on the equity and production sides, that few economists, political leaders, or corporate executives seem to understand or are willing to admit, are likely to cause another crisis.

Most salt water economists agree that creating jobs on Main Street is important.  That will require extensive private sector investments, but the term “investment” has several meanings that can hide the different ways that stocks can affect jobs, wealth distribution, and the economy.  The differences stem from three aspects of stock investments; types of investment, investors’ objectives, and stock flows.

Types of stock investments

Stock investments are productive or parasitic.  The line between them can be fuzzy sometimes, but the differences are usually clear.  Productive investments, which are called direct investments when made in other countries, provide capital to start and expand businesses in the real economy.  They pay for the things, knowledge, and services that a company needs to operate.  Young companies that are intended to become large need productive investments that usually come from the founders, their friends and families, and early stage investors such as angels and venture capitalists who take active interests.  Because investments in these young companies involve many risks and are hard to liquidate, the companies depend on stock and rarely borrow very much.  If they are successful, they may raise more productive capital from an initial public offering (IPO) and maybe from secondary offerings.  If they continue to grow and establish a credit record, they may borrow money for productive investments, but equity capital is required for most early stage development.

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Category: Think Tank

Wholesale Inventories weak but signs of hope

Wholesale Inventories in August fell by 1.3%, .3% more than expected and July was revised lower by .2%. Because sales rose 1%, the inventory to sales ratio fell to 1.20 from 1.23 and is at the lowest level since Sept ’08. It’s now well below the high of 1.34 in Jan but also remains well…Read More

Category: MacroNotes

1975 Question: Should Central Banks Be Free to Buy Gold?

Recently declassified memorandum from Fed Chief Arthur Burns to President Gerald Ford: From the Desk of Gerald Ford-Declassified

Category: Commodities, Think Tank

Jobless claims and more from the ECB

Initial Jobless Claims totaled 521k, 19k less than expected, well down from 554k last week which was revised up by 3k. It’s the lowest figure since January. Continuing Claims fell by 72k and were 65k below forecasts. BUT, those receiving Emergency Unemployment Compensation rose by almost 100k to a new record high and those getting…Read More

Category: MacroNotes

Australia Rocks!

On the heels of higher than expected earnings from Alcoa, a much better than expected jobs report in Australia helped to carry Asian stocks higher and Europe followed. Australia unexpectedly created 40.6k jobs vs a forecast of a drop of 10k and the news definitely substantiates the decision earlier in the week by the RBA…Read More

Category: MacroNotes


Cycles New Yorker10!12!09

Category: Think Tank

Consumer Credit/Belt tightening continues

Consumer Credit outstanding on a seasonally adjusted basis in August fell by $12b, $2b more than expected but July didn’t fall as much as initially reported by $2.6b. It’s the 10th month in the past 11 that has seen declines. Revolving credit (mostly credit cards) fell by $9.9b and nonrevolving fell by $2.1b, a sharp…Read More

Category: MacroNotes

Value Proposition

Bob Lefsetz is a music industry observer, and publisher of the Lefsetz letter: ~~~ I rented a Hyundai. They pulled up this eggplant colored piece of shit, with the Coke-bottle flairs over the rear wheels, and I winced.  A Hyundai?  Wasn’t there anything else? This was it.  We’d already waited in line for twenty minutes…Read More

Category: Markets, Think Tank


Warren Mosler, economist, perturbed by the misunderstanding of monetary policy by the current and past administrations, is running for President in 2012.  He has been speaking at the Tea Parties, explaining to taxpayers that Washington is either at best ignorant of economic policy or at worst deceptive. ~~~~ Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, has indicated…Read More

Category: Think Tank

Fed’s credibility being tested?

With the RBA raising interest rates (because the need for emergency low rates has ended in their opinion), the US$ under major pressure and gold rallying to record highs, the Fed’s credibility is on the line in terms of how easy they are and for how long that will be. Last night non voting Fed…Read More

Category: MacroNotes, Think Tank