Dec 042014
 December 4, 2014  Posted by at 9:05 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Dorothea Lange Homeless mother and child walking from Phoenix to Imperial County CA Feb 1939

So, Matthew Lynn, I’m sure you’re a fine young man and your mommy loves you to bits, but you’re obviously in the wrong line of work. Or maybe the right one, come to think of it, since if you can make enough people see the world your way, in the end you’ll be right. That’s how journalism is defined these days. Anything goes, provided you can make people believe what you write. The problem is, that process can only end up with everyone a lot dumber than they already are. The lowest common denominator wins the day, every day.

My problem with that is, why does someone work for a finance site like MarketWatch who has no clue what finance actually is, and how it works? Your ignorance leads you, I’m sure without any bad intentions, to insult millions of people who are having a very bad time. Does that mean anything to you? See, I’m guessing it doesn’t. I think you don’t know bad times, because if you did, you would never write the offensive blubber you do.

But Matthew, this once, and only once, I’m going to say what I have to say about your mindless drivel. Because I don’t care one bit about the investor crowd whose fancy you’re trying to tickle, I’m here for the people you aim to leave by the wayside (yeah, I know, you had no idea..). And you know, normally I don’t care anymore, I can’t get angry every single time some nutjob gets his stuff upside down. But this goes too far, you’ve overstretched even your lowest common standards.

In your article, you paint the perfect example of why seeing deflation only as falling prices is so completely useless, numbing and dumbing. Hey, maybe I should thank you for that.

If you refuse to look a WHY prices fall, you never learn a thing, and you will always be behind. Apart from the fact that the idea of Greece and Spain doing well can easily be refuted by 1000 other data sources, there’s the simple fact that looking at one day or week or month tells you nothing. You need to look at consumer spending over at least the past few years. That would also show more respect for the over 25% of the working population, and over 50% of youth, who are unemployed in both Greece and Spain, and who are the topic of your ‘article’.

Here’s you, Matthew:

If Deflation Is So Terrible, Why Are Spain, Greece Growing?

Prices are starting to fall across the European continent. Mass unemployment, and a grinding recession are forcing companies with too much capacity to charge less for their products. Company profits will soon be collapsing, while government debt ratios threaten to spiral out of control. The threat of deflation is so worrying, the European Central Bank is expected to throw everything in its armory to prevent it, and to get prices rising again. It may even move towards full-blown quantitative easing as early as Thursday.

You get it awfully wrong from the get-go. What you call “companies with too much capacity” are simply those who could sell their products before the recession set in, and would now have to fire people to get rid of that ‘overcapacity’, thereby lowering spending capacity, which would lead to even more ‘overcapacity’, and therefore more unemployed. I’m thinking you must have studied economics, because that’s the only place people pick up such warped notions. It’s a chicken and egg thing, Matthew, a horse and a cart, and getting them the wrong way around is not going to help.

What you describe but don’t understand is deflation. It starts with a drop in spending, caused by lower or no wages, saving or simply the demise of confidence. It doesn’t start with overcapacity. It starts with people losing their jobs.

But here’s a puzzle. The two countries with the worst deflation in Europe are Greece and Spain. And two of the countries with the best growth? Funnily enough, that also happens to be Greece and Spain. So if deflation is so terrible, how come those two are recovering fastest? The answer is that deflation is not nearly as bad as it sometimes made out to be by mainstream economists.

Matthew, I’m not a mainstream economist. I’m not an economist at all, and I see that as my saving grace. Steve Keen is a good friend, but I don’t know any other economists who make any sense to me (Steve says he know a few, so we’re covered). But I don’t think even Steve fully gets deflation either. Which of course he’ll deny.

Still, saying that Greece and Spain are doing just great despite their deflation is simply meaningless. Deflation is not about prices, it’s about spending. And people in Greece have been forced to lower their spending for years now. So much so that one single extra boat of tourists would suffice to raise its GDP. But that makes no difference for the population. Which means Greece is not doing well. Yeah, the highest GDP growth in Europe, but that only says something about the rest. Still, selling a few additional retsinas and tzatzikis may lift Greece, but not Europe. Here’s more you:

The real problem is debt. But if that is true, perhaps the eurozone would be better off trying to fix its debt crisis than campaigning to raise prices – especially as it probably won’t have much success with that anyway. There is no question that the eurozone is sliding inexorably towards deflation. Only last week, we learned that the inflation rate across the zone ratcheted down to 0.3% last month, from 0.4% a month earlier, and a significantly lower figure than the market expected. It has been going steadily down for some time. Consumer inflation has not hit the ECB’s target level of 2% since the start of 2013. It has been falling steadily since it peaked at 3% in late 2011.

I must admit, after reading that again, I have no idea where you’re going with it. The problem is debt, I get that, and I agree too, and that should be fixed, kudos, but after that, you don’t seem to have much of a train of thought, just numbers.

It would be rash to expect that to change any time soon. The oil price has collapsed, and other commodity prices are coming down as well. That will all feed into the inflation rate. Retail sales are still weak, and unemployment is still rising. People who have lost their job don’t spend money – and companies don’t hike prices when the shops are empty.

What you’re describing there is not so much deflation itself, but its consequences. And you yourself just claimed that deflation is not all that bad, didn’t you?

Most economists will tell you that is very worrying — and that the ECB needs to act immediately to stop it getting worse. People will postpone buying anything because they think it will be cheaper next month. Companies will be reluctant to invest because they see their prices and profits going down. Confidence will be sapped, and the economy will suffer. Even worse, the debts of peripheral eurozone countries will spiral out of control — because the amount they owe will remain the same, but there will be less income to service it. But there is something odd about that analysis. The two countries with the worst price data are also the two countries doing best within Europe.

What happens is that Greece and Spain have become so cheap that tourists from other countries come and spend their money on their beaches. That lifts their GDP. Nothing to do with the people in the street. Nor does it have anything to do with deflation. Deflation is defined by the speed at which people spend their money (provide the money supply remains reasonably high). If no-one spends, prices fall. The reason people don’t spend is because they’re too poor. I’m lousy at rocket science, but I do get that one.

Just take a look at the figures. In Greece, prices are falling at an annual rate of 1.7%. In Spain, they are falling by 0.4%. So presumably those are the two countries that have been hit hardest? Well, it has not quite worked out like that. The fastest growing economy in the eurozone right now is none other than Greece. True, it is not exactly China, but it is expanding at an annual rate of 1.9% right now. And how about Spain? Its economy is also growing again, at an annualized rate of 1.6%.

You see, this is where you start to be insulting. You have a nation full of people who don’t even know anymore how to pay for a doctor, and because of some empty government massaged number you want to tell those same people they’re actually doing fine? They’re still as poor as they were before Samaras published that number, and before you reported on it.

By contrast, the economies where prices are still rising are not doing as well. Over in Germany, the supposed powerhouse of Europe, the inflation rate is still just in positive territory, at an annual rate of 0.5%. But growth in the third quarter was only 0.1%, narrowly avoiding recession. The same is true in France – inflation just about stayed positive, but growth has completely stalled.

Yeah, I know, it’s shooting fish in a barrel here for me: if you don’t know what inflation or deflation is, you’re bound to get everything wrong and upside down. But even then, don’t you at least think when you write “the economies where prices are still rising are not doing as well”, that that is weird? Because it would mean that countries who are already knee deep in deflation, whether it’s your definition or mine, with lower prices and therefore higher unemployment, do better than those who have fewer jobless. Doesn’t that strike you as odd?

So there does not appear to be much of a connection between rising prices and stronger growth. Nor do falling prices appear to be hurting very much.

See, now I’m getting pissed off. Did you even read that? Falling prices, Matthew, are the result of having more than half of your young people out of work for years on end. What the f*ck do you mean, they don’t appear to be hurting that much?

So what is going on? In reality, there is nothing terrible about prices falling. It is what happens in a competitive economy. Most of us like it when the stuff we buy gets cheaper. There is no serious evidence to suggest that it deters people from buying things. If it did, no one would ever buy a television or a smartphone, because they know perfectly well that they can get a better one for less money next year. In reality, they buy plenty of both.

This is where I give up on you, Matthew, and where I call on the MarketWatch board to fir your ass. Chances are, I know, that they agree with this absurdity, but what the heck, I’m calling anyway. I mean, what the hell is this supposed to mean: “There is no serious evidence to suggest that it deters people from buying things. If it did, no one would ever buy a television or a smartphone ..”

There’s plenty evidence, go to Athens, go to their soupkitchens and hospitals, and you’ll see that deflation DOES deter people from buying smartphones. Because they need the money, if they even have any, to pay for treatments to keep their children alive that we don’t even have to think twice about. It doesn’t deter them becise deflation loewred prices, but because deflation took their jobs away.

People buy things when they need them, taking price trends into account – after all, you can’t take either the money or the phone with you when you die, so you can’t postpone the purchase forever. Neither is there much evidence that it saps the confidence of companies. Again, if it did, no one would make any kind of consumer electronics. Businesses will invest where they think they can make money, and so long as costs are falling as well it is fine for prices to come down.

No people don’t buy things when they need them when they can’t afford them, you ignorant drip. You’re completely clueless about the world out there. And I take that personal, because these are my people. They’re all my people.

The threat to growth from deflation is wildly oversold. Indeed, for most of the 19th century deflation was completely normal — and that didn’t stop the industrial revolution in its tracks. Indeed, mild deflation may actually be helping Spain and Greece. As things get cheaper, consumers feel a bit more confident – and start spending again.

Yeah, the 19th century was a great period, wasn’t it, Matthew, and completely normal to boot, whatever that may mean. Just ask Marx and Dickens how normal it was, or the millions who came to America escaping the hell that was much of Europe. All Oliver Twist needed was a bit more confidence, so he could start spending again…

The one thing that is a problem is where there are high debts, as there certainly are across the eurozone. If prices fall, then those debt ratios are just going to get worse and worse. At a certain point, they will be unsustainable. But in that case, surely the right response is to deal with the debt, not the deflation. Many eurozone countries have debts that they probably won’t ever be able to repay.

If they thought inflation was going to deal with that for them, they will be disappointed. It isn’t going to happen. By far the best thing for them to do now would be to restructure their debts. The ECB will throw everything it has at fighting deflation. But it is probably not going to work – and it might well be better if it didn’t.

See, Matthew, you actually know some things. But you don’t understand them. I know, if only because you end with this cracker:

Deflation is not nearly as bad as everyone thinks.

I don’t really know what to say in the face of so much, what do you call this, nonsense, propaganda, ignorance? I write because I don’t like what happens to the people that folks like Matthew Lynn couldn’t care less about, as long as their little economic theories seem to fit whatever little rich lives they lead.

I have nothing with that. I have something with the people. And I therefore find comments like the ones above by Matthew Lynn repulsive.

Here’s real life:

Is The Greek Economy Improving?

The Guardian’s Greece correspondent, Helena Smith, is deeply sceptical about the heralded recovery having any real impact on the ground. “The ‘success story’ peddled by the government differs wildly to what life is really like on the ground – with plummeting living standards, unprecedented unemployment and the inability of most to keep up with bills, including the barrage of new taxes that can change with lightning speed on any given day,” she says.

“Five years down the road the crisis, to great degree, has been ‘normalised’ but the disconnect is evident in the collateral damage caused by the massive devaluation Greece has been forced to undergo in return for emergency funding: suicides, homelessness, a middle class pauperised by austerity. “And all eclipsed by a level of uncertainty, shared by all who live in a country whose debt load – the biggest impediment to real economic recovery – has actually grown since the crisis began.” [..]

Catherine Moschonas, from Thessaloniki: “Wages still much lower than a few years ago but taxes are MUCH higher, especially land taxes – the state is now taxing real estate that people can’t find tenants for and can’t sell because nobody’s buying. Generally policies are driving rather than limiting tax evasion – otherwise people can’t make ends meet (quite apart from perceived lack of social justice in measures taken).

“For families, healthcare increasingly a major financial concern as hospitals or sections close and social insurance is cut – but most people can’t afford private healthcare. People with relatively decent paychecks are one sick parent away from disaster. I don’t see any sign that things are improving”

Greece’s Recovery Is Deceptive

A small economic recovery is little consolation when one considers that in the past 5 years of recession, the Greek economy has lost a fifth of its total volume. And in a country that has seen unemployment rise to 28%, a drop of half a percentage point is not particularly noticeable.

.. the conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras desperately needs successes to mobilize his core voters. But real life is not helping him much. Growth in Greece is still very fragile, restructuring of inefficient state apparatuses is still very slow, tax avoidance has not been clamped down on, privatization is stalling, and austerity measures are driving more and more people to despair – younger generations in particular are struggling with a dearth of opportunities ..

.. even in these unusual circumstances, the Greek parties are not in a position to achieve even a basic consensus on how to rescue the country. Even now, they are feverishly preparing for a new election instead of trying to establish some political stability and continuity. Leading members of Syriza have even suggested demanding leftover war reparations from Germany and use them in calculations for a new budget. This might sound like a farce from the periphery of the eurozone, but it is testament to the backwardness of political culture in Greece. Anyone who wants to help the Greek people needs to keep their politicians and governments under control first.

Greeks Struggle To Get By Despite Economic ‘Recovery’

The number of Greeks at risk of poverty has more than doubled in the last five years – from about 20% in 2008 to 44% in 2013, according to a report by the International Labor Organization.

Sorry if I get too emotional for your taste at times, but I have a hard time with sheer and especially mean hubris. Telling people things are great since their basic necessities just got cheaper, exactly BECAUSE they can no longer afford them (because that IS deflation), that must be the pits. Still, it’s how 99% of economists ‘understand’ the world. Now you know why it’s all such a mess.

Home Forums No No No! That Is Not Deflation!

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    Dorothea Lange Homeless mother and child walking from Phoenix to Imperial County CA Feb 1939 So, Matthew Lynn, I’m sure you’re a fine young man and yo
    [See the full post at: No No No! That Is Not Deflation!]


    @ Ilargi,

    I’m not a mainstream economist either, but are you sure about this?

    “What you describe but don’t understand is deflation. It starts with a drop in spending, caused by lower or no wages, saving or simply the demise of confidence. It doesn’t start with overcapacity. It starts with people losing their jobs.”

    I could be wrong, but I completely thought it was a drop in consumption (i.e. due to people’s unwillingness or inability to spend more and/or take on additional debt) that leads to deflation, and that in turn causes lower wages, less jobs and the demise of confidence?

    Perhaps the reason I see it that way is because I’m one of those individuals who actually found himself greatly concerned about his personal level of debt and chose to pay that debt off rather than go further into debt to have additional material wealth I really didn’t need (nor could afford).

    If there were enough individuals like me out there (i.e. those who break from the system and begin paying down their debts, rather than increasing their consumption and debt levels like so many others), certainly that would have a deflationary impact on the system at some point, no? Though to be fair, every system would eventually hit a peak/maximum level of consumption where nobody could possibly consume any more and deflationary forces would have to ensue from that point forward.

    Perhaps it was those individuals who *wouldn’t* consume more that destabilized the system somewhat – their lack of consumption led to the unemployment/underemployment of some individuals who would have otherwise consumed more, but with reduced earnings could not? This in turn led to more unemployment/underemployment within the system, preventing additional individuals from consuming more. And so on and so forth.

    In any event, I think it’s more like your chicken/egg analogy (i.e. a circular reference that cannot be solved) than your cart/horse analogy (i.e. an analogy for doing things in the wrong order).

    “It doesn’t deter them becise deflation loewred prices, but because deflation took their jobs away.”

    They took our jobs!!!

    To be fair Ilargi, perhaps those jobs were never destined to exist in the first place (only in the crazy over-consumption based / over-populated world we currently inhabit, and which appears to finally be going the way of the Dodo… which is something I thought TAE was all for, minus all the catastrophic suffering/death/starvation/war/pestilence/etc. that will be left in its wake)?

    “Yeah, the 19th century was a great period, wasn’t it, Matthew, and completely normal to boot, whatever that may mean.”

    I definitely see it as “more normal” in the sense that business cycles (booms/busts) were allowed to play out naturally from year-to-year in a more organic fashion, and you didn’t have Central Banks intervening in markets to blow huge bubbles and defer collapse until the point when it would hurt the world (and its people) the most. That’s not to say bubbles didn’t exist before Central Banks, but the bubbles were far less devastating compared to those seen in our highly intertwined and globalized world today… no?

    “Deflation is not nearly as bad as everyone thinks”

    Well, sorry Ilargi, but in a way I think I might have to agree with him (though not for the reasons he probably wrote it). I mean, deflation isn’t as bad for me as a potential future because I don’t quite see myself being able to “make it” (mentally/physically/spiritually) in a world that pushes inflation slowly on all of us like it has for the past 80 years, robbing us of our purchasing power and our living standards while we drearily march into our soul-crushing places of work every day to continue to support the system we profess to detest. I think to have to live through 30 more years of that would murder my f*cking soul, or at least devour my sanity – at that point I’d probably become a monster myself, or just eat a bullet.

    Deflationary collapse on the other hand, while horrible in the sense that all those nasty things (suffering/death/war/pestilence/etc.) I mentioned earlier will occur, is likely the only way all the nasty things (bondage/wage slavery/elitism/increased sociopathy/polarized wealth/etc.) that occurred as a result of 80 years of inflation will finally be addressed.

    In either scenario, the fact remains that there’s not enough for everyone everywhere, and somebody somewhere will be forced to make due with less than they either need (or think they need). Pensioners will have to receive far less than they were promised (whether or not they were fools for thinking they’d get what they were promised and @ssholes for kicking their expenses onto younger generations) when pensions are revealed to be ponzi schemes, leaving them angry and disillusioned with society; individuals with chronic and/or debilitating illnesses will have to simply cope and/or face death prematurely, as to invest the resources in saving them would be to doom countless others; Old people will have to die off younger and/or have a lower quality of life in their old age, as the amounts of money poured into them in the form of medication and medical services will most definitely be curtailed; innocent babies who never committed the selfish acts we as adults have committed will probably die before they even see their 2nd birthday, and the mothers that bear them will face increased risks in trying to bring a child into the world.

    That’s a more “normal” world than the one we have likely experienced over the last 80 years, and perhaps a world we will soon be returning to. But to not return to that world is to continue this horror story we currently live in even longer is to see how brutal and totalitarian our Western hegemony can become, to see how poor the masses can be at the same time that less than 1% of the world can live like gods, to see how millions can die in wars to make the ultra-rich a few dollars more, and to see how badly we can rape the natural world (potentially dooming our species and all others that we share it with) through resource extraction and gross over-consumption.

    Anywhoo, the author certainly does come across as a propagandist and/or an idiot, but I suppose some of the things he wrote made sense to me (though not in the way he intended them, to be sure). And while many (millions? billions?) may suffer and die as a result of the coming deflation, perhaps its the only way to set those who survive the collapse free from the financial/hegemonic enslavement we currently endure.

    “The matrix is everywhere, its all around us, even now in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn your TV. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth … that you are a slave Neo, like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you can not smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind.”

    “The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around. What do you see? Business people, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy … You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependant on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”

    South Park & Matrix references… that’s enough for me for one day…



    ?? “but the disconnect is evident in the collateral damage caused by the massive devaluation Greece has been forced to undergo” ??


    Ilargi, not a comment on this piece, but on the topic of deflation in general. I know you reject the hyperinflationary thesis because you do not think there is any excess savings out there, only a mountain of dollar denominated debt that will guarantee a constant demand for dollars as far as the eye can see. This piece may answer your questions/objections:

    It is long, and requires two or three reads, but I think it is well worth the time. Among other things, it explains why there has been price stability despite massive printing (and even cites sources going to back 1999 explaining why this is so), and it also explains where all of those dollar savings are hiding. YMMV.

    John Day

    Thanks Ilargi,
    It is very hard for some people’s minds to look at causality.
    It’s all just phenomena…
    You can learn some stuff, but most people aren’t born to see beneath surfaces.


    Hahahaha…you out in full force again. All those years of remorseless mistakes now once again punctuated with 3 months of “Deflation”.
    Just wanted to know when this is going to happen.
    Is it 90% from here or 90% from 2010 levels and will absolutely anyone who reads your crap ever be alive to witness it?


    Sounds like huckleberryfinn is a big believer in “the recovery.”

    I think Nicole is being conservative with that 90% figure. What would you pay for this?

    View post on


    The prediction was for the entire market and not only Vancouver. Are there example of homes in cities that will go down 90%? Sure. Does not make that cartoon right. And timing believe it or not counts. Long after she and all the idiots that follow her are dead, if prices decline from much higher, does that make her right?
    She has completed bastardized basic economics and does not understand how simple math works. I remember Raul on oil drum acting like a complete douche when oil hit $35 and many suggested it was going higher and he went on and on about how many countries were having their public transport system cut. 6 years later and many apocalypses postponed he is out saying Deflation is here because prices are now double of 2009 (where he predicted they would go lower) but have fallen from triple 2009 levels. If he had any semblance of sense he would not spend his time begging for money.


    @ huckleberryfinn
    Those who “have” need to worry about inflation and deflation.
    I “have” nothing.
    I don’t worry.
    Your comments indicate that you worry?


    huckleberryfinn, you have no manners. If you want to come on the board and debate, fine. If you want to strongly disagree with TAE, great. Just stick to the issues and avoid the ad hominem attacks. If you need to study a template for how to disagree, even strongly, without unnecessarily insulting the host, check out alan2102’s post in the Elephant post. I welcome a robust discussion, but attitudes like yours we can all do without. Cheers.


    Boogaloo – good post! Yeah, let’s see the huckster (most likely a slime ball realtor) step up and buy that b-e-a-utiful-looking starter home. He can compete with all of the corrupt Chinese money and start a bidding war.

    Read the comments at the link he posted. Realtors and mortgage brokers, financial advisors, oil and gas speculators – all trying to keep the balloon in the air. Like he believes any of these bubbles were due to fundamentals – ha!

    Remorseless mistakes? More like central banks and governments propping up scum.

    V. Arnold

    @ Variable81

    A lack of consumption is not a voluntary act, IMO. Ilargi has it exactly right.
    I believe I’ve read the U.S. economy is 70% driven by consumerism. That seems right.
    So, it follows that with an unemployment rate somewhere north of 20% and the gains in employment are minimum wage jobs; reduced consumption must follow.
    I find it laughable that savers are being demonized as unpatriotic. That should be a very strong indicator of the depths to which reason, thought, intelligence, education and a genuine view of reality have been corrupted, not only in America but across the capitalist world.
    I left the states debt free and with no credit card and $400 USD in my pocket (to my name). I had a job in the place I landed, so, a bit of a leap, but under the circumstances, heaven.
    My wife has a credit card and it carries no balance. Our only debt is a mortgage payment. That is 10% of our income.
    We are not consumers. I’m retired now and frankly view consumerism as a sick religion foisted on an ignorant populace addicted to stuff.
    Consumers do ultimately shit their nest; which no other animal on earth does.
    So, do carry on and get rid of your debt; smart move, IMO, very smart move.


    Onerous debt and indefinite currency (counterfeiting) is the problem. Theft and impoverishment is the consequence. You both miss the mark because this was the plan all along. None of the inequality we see is by coincidence. A quick glance of the IMF papers on their website, and a look at everything that has happened just in recent times, are all the evidence you need.

    Exponential debt creation / counterfeiting, and a final consolidation at the end was always the plan. It’s lovingly called the Economic Hitman Approach. It’s why the counterfeiting classes were so desperate to install a central bank in the US throughout the 19th Century (emulating the Bank of England’s success in thieving from the hard working English – hence Oliver Twist) and then succeeded after much deception.

    Inflation of the money supply by issuing debt (counterfeiting) is the snare period, it sucks everyone in and those issuing the debt gain more and more claims over people and economic value. Everyone feels richer by having more currency, it’s not really theirs though. Savings get replaced by debt, and economic value is skimmed away gradually to the debt owners.

    The deflationary period, or contraction in currency/debt when people stop spending from being burdened with interest and debt repayments is the consolidation period. The shake down by the debt owner class. Banks consolidate, companies consolidate, and governments consolidate power over the people. This is evidenced in almost every major news item since the crisis. TBTF banks getting bigger, company acquisitions at all time highs, inequality the highest it’s ever been, militarized police, energy wars, fake revolutions / regime changes, TTIP & TPP, IMF monetary reform proposals and gold (finite currency) ownership rebalancing, the list goes on and on.

    2008 was too soon to properly consolidate, although there has been lots of gradual consolidation still. ZIRP, QE etc. extended the snare period a little longer. They’re now almost ready for full consolidation. It’s not a conspiracy as such, it’s a class of people working towards a common, well published goal of monopoly, and the board is about to be packed up.

    Rather than gathering signatures for empty politicians to ignore, we need to get on with creating an alternative to this spiders web we’re stuck in. As soon as an alternative is seen as successful then others with copy, and it will snowball. Creating hive economies where ordinary people are capital owners, and receive income from that capital (food production, small scale manufacturing etc.) and where there are enough of these “hives” so that failures don’t threaten the whole, is one alternative. It also solves the problem of automation on labour, where previous labourers become capital owners / owners of the robots replacing them. Using a finite currency like gold or crypto currencies where counterfeiting is prohibitively expensive, is also a way to keep purchasing power with those that earn it. This is something I think TAE is aligned with?

    If you’ve made it this far in the comments section you deserve a medal.


    Dr. Diablo

    Appreciate the much deserved passion here, and we Yanks like straight talking, but there’s a lot of wrong to go around here.

    Matthew clearly has no solid paradigm to talk from, just a bag of clap-trap phrases picked up from pop news and Liberal Arts economics classes. That leads to him not seeing or understanding, and to such logical ends as “50% youth unemployment and 20% drop in GDP = deflation not hurting anything.” Wow.

    However, in contrast to Matthew, you know better and do have an organized paradigm, be it right or wrong. However your paradigm also seems to be going all over the place. I’m assuming Deflation still = lower money supply, but not even sure about that, and not sure how lower prices wouldn’t be the biggest help to people whose income has been slashed. Because Price Deflation is one of the only bright lights in a Depression, and aside from wages, is the one thing Central Bankers want to declare war on, so the common people can have NO relief, not even in one small arena.

    Deflation is part of a systems analysis, and depends on the system. Generally, it occurs when economic actors (not even banks, although they can be) extend too many loans. It is not the “money” supply, necessarily, that expands. Under a gold standard, the gold increased at a very modest level, it was the credit supply–equivalent to our present shadow banking system–that rose. Later, that was codified into bank notes which were more or less public money and currency, like the U.S. system in the 1800s. But you cannot stop humans from making promises to each other! That is essentially what this expanded loan/promise/credit supply is. And in the normal course of things, somebody, somewhere along the interlocking web of promises, is not going to be able to pay. When they can’t pay, their creditor is crunched and needs to cut back for a while. If you have an ecosystem of promises, this will at some threshold lead to the next upstream creditor cutting back too until there is a tipping point where the system as a whole has cut back, because we are ALL both creditors and debtors. As part of the system, we all extend and are owed promises.

    And this is a GOOD thing. “Normal” systems have to move in both directions. Seasons rise and fall, organisms breathe in AND out, and fortunes wax AND wane. No one likes winter–we would all like endless summer, but that’s not what life is. Compare this to exponential growth, at any %, no matter how small. Clearly NO system, EVER, can expand without contracting, because as you yourself say, they are contained on a finite earth.

    The question then is, “how long should we expand in eternal summer?” This is what ever-larger nations, then later Central Banks, attempt to do: keep summer going artificially, against the cycles of reality and physics, breathe only in, never out, until they have 5, 10, 50 winters backlogged, the system cracks, and 50 minor, easily endured downslides occur all at once. …But you see, they occur to our CHILDREN, while we got 50 summers for ourselves, so who gives a f*ck, right? Isn’t that awesome we lived the beautiful life so they could die in a ditch in the third world war? Works for me!

    Anyway, point being ONCE YOU TAKE THE SUMMERS, there is, as VonMises says “no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner…” by choice, or later, by force. No means. None. In any of history’s wide examples. So the only thing we can do is to allow the waxing and waning of credit to proceed normally, very moderately and very close to a center point, and never, EVER allow central banks or anyone to expand it unnaturally, for any reason whatsoever. Because there is NO MEANS of avoiding the collapse of a boom. None.

    This is essentially what the trouble in Greece, Spain, and worldwide really is. Now clearly we can make things better or worse on ourselves. For one thing, the faster the endangered credit can be wiped out (like the US in 1921) the faster the system can recover. Also, the less the damage is “adjusted” to save the financialists and harm the productive, the workers, the less damage it will do. And perhaps we can just take our hangover like men and not start a world war? That’d be great too. But we’re not doing any of those things. Preventing write-offs, bankruptcies, and protecting the wealthiest, dumbest, most reckless financiers from their own leverage at the expense of workers and taxpayers is making the winter as bad as possible, rewarding the vile, and extending the damage for decades, ruining whole generations of young men and women who die homeless, childless, and in poverty or war. But hey, if they’re not me, who cares, right?

    So deflation may not necessarily be a “good” thing, just a winter may not be, but it is a normal thing that MUST happen to avoid the infinite exponential curve. MUST happen. But if we don’t recklessly expand, like we just did, for multiple decades, as we (or you) have, you’d hardly notice, and life would be relatively stable and pleasant, as it generally was under the self-limiting gold standard. Once you create a boom however, there is NO MEANS by which to escape the inevitable collapse. Like a hangover, you can just take it like a man, make the best of it, and not, for example, rape and kill your fellow men because of it. But the rich killing the poor to remain rich is what history shows. Every time. Let’s not go there.



    Variable, I’m pretty sure I don’t understand the question implied here:

    “What you describe but don’t understand is deflation. It starts with a drop in spending, caused by lower or no wages, saving or simply the demise of confidence. It doesn’t start with overcapacity. It starts with people losing their jobs.”

    I could be wrong, but I completely thought it was a drop in consumption (i.e. due to people’s unwillingness or inability to spend more and/or take on additional debt) that leads to deflation, and that in turn causes lower wages, less jobs and the demise of confidence?

    Far as I can see, you say the same thing I do. I was reacting to Mr. Lynn’s assertion that overcapacity is the problem. But what caused the overcapacity is not that the Greeks built huge and disproportional plants, it’s that people can no longer afford to buy the products the plants produce. For instance, somewhat simplified, because the plants laid them off. So it’s not like if they’d only reduce their capacity, the problem would be solved, because overcapacity was never the problem from the start.

    Huck, that’s at least the second time you bring up a 4-year old video of Nicole as a reaction to my articles. I’m not going to say ‘is that all you got?’, but if you can find that back, you’ll have no problem digging up one of the many instances where I wrote that indeed, we misjudged people’s willingness to let their money and that of their kids be used to prop up a zombie system. So what’s the point? You want to argue Canadian housing is not going to crash?


    “Huckleberryfinn, you have no manners. If you want to come on the board and debate, fine. If you want to strongly disagree with TAE, great. Just stick to the issues and avoid the ad hominem attacks. If you need to study a template for how to disagree, even strongly, without unnecessarily insulting the host, check out alan2102′s post in the Elephant post. I welcome a robust discussion, but attitudes like yours we can all do without. Cheers.”

    Actually Raul and Nicole are way more dangerous than me. Their lack of understanding of how finance works is going to destroy way more lives than anyone else.


    @ V,

    “A lack of consumption is not a voluntary act, IMO”

    I can only disagree as my personal experience was different. In 2009 I discovered Garth Turner’s Greater Fool website and from there found TAE. At the time my income was growing and my debt was slowly being paid down, but upon gaining a better understanding of inflation/deflation and the potential for a future credit crisis I elected to liquidate my automobile (thus allowing me to pay off my debt), move home with my family (not the most comfortable thing to do as a late-20 somethings individual), start saving like a maniac, and do whatever I could to open my family’s eyes to the risk of debt (they were carrying a very large mortgage on a granite countertops / stainless / landscaped / hot tubbing home that, while very nice, was not worth the investment from my vantage point).

    I voluntarily reduced my consumption and increased my savings. Nothing forced me to do so, and in fact, most of my friends were actually going deeper into debt and buying their first homes in/around 2009. But I do recognize of all the 20-somethings I knew at that time, I was the only one heading down that path… so for many (most?), a lack of consumption may very much be a non-voluntary act.

    @ Chriss,

    “It’s not a conspiracy as such, it’s a class of people working towards a common, well published goal of monopoly, and the board is about to be packed up.”

    I wouldn’t even go that far. I’d suggest its everyone working to maximize their well being, not really focused (or aware) of the outcomes of the combined efforts of everyone doing what’s best for themselves – i.e. monopoly and eventual system collapse.

    As much as people love to say we’re no longer living in a true capitalist society (instead viewing it a socialist/crony capitalist system), I sometimes have to wonder if this is in fact capitalism at its finest – the strongest firms are doing whatever they can to block/destroy other firms (and individuals) so they can maintain themselves and/or grow stronger. These firms may not be competing fairly, but that doesn’t mean they are not competing. And a monopoly seems like the only outcome that could come from a capitalistic system (prior to its collapse, anyway).

    @ Dr. Diablo,

    “Anyway, point being ONCE YOU TAKE THE SUMMERS, there is, as VonMises says “no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner…” by choice, or later, by force. No means. None. In any of history’s wide examples.”

    Definitely think this is a narrative I’ve seen Stoneleigh and Ilargi write about here on TAE several times.

    @ Ilargi,

    “But what caused the overcapacity is not that the Greeks built huge and disproportional plants, it’s that people can no longer afford to buy the products the plants produce.”

    Hmm… again, not sure I agree 100%. If those plants were build to feed a demand that was not very stable or unlikely to last very long (i.e. feeding consumerism driven by debt that the Greeks should have never taken on in the first place), then why is there any surprise when people start getting laid off due to falling sales as a result of too much indebtedness? Those jobs likely should have never existed in the first place – were they not bought with the creation of debt and the malinvestment of that debt into a project that had no future?

    Contrast this to, say, a nation of Greeks who were sitting on wealth surpluses and had nothing to spend said surpluses on – building some sort of plant that produces items for consumption may have been a more sustainable endeavour, as there would be organic demand waiting to be fulfilled and real wealth used to pay for it (as opposed to promises that will likely never be kept in the form of debts). I don’t know if most people would like that example however, as when we look to history I can’t think of many times when debt was not used and people were forced to save up to buy what they wanted (the Dark Ages is the only thing that comes to mind? And perhaps some Native American cultures did not have debt, though I suspect there still would have been borrowing & lending in the form of “good will”).

    And I suppose I find it difficult to see it from your & V. Arnold’s point of view because it seems as if you are both discounting personal responsibility to some degree. “Oh, the poor Greeks – they lost their jobs and now they must consume less!” kind of sounds to me like “Oh, the poor pensioners – they lost their pensions and now they must consume less!” when we all knew pensions were ponzi schemes that transfer wealth from the younger working class to the older retired class with a 100% guarantee that eventually a whole generation of people will get the shaft when everyone realizes the pension has gone bust.

    That’s not to beat up on the Greeks (or pensioners), mind you – everyone should probably look at their current standard of living, their (perceived) job security, as well as the value of their assets (and if they truly even have claim to those assets) and realize it is all just an illusion. This is why I stress myself out every day thinking whether or not I should just quit my job now and start living a very humble/poor/hard (physical) working lifestyle, as it seems like something we’re all going to have to get used to anyway once everything starts falling apart. But like most others, I suspect, I’m holding on and trying to maximize my wages and minimize how much work I actually do until collapse finally arrives, all the while benefiting from the slave labour / exploitation and human suffering that occurs around the world as we speak so I can enjoy a Western standard of living while preparing for collapse.

    Shame on me, yes – but before anyone points any fingers I would suggest they look in the mirror and think about if they are not doing the same thing I am.

    @ huckleberryfinn,

    “Actually Raul and Nicole are way more dangerous than me. Their lack of understanding of how finance works is going to destroy way more lives than anyone else.”

    Actually, I think Raul and Nicole have shown a greater understanding of finance than most people, particularly those in the financial world. I have a high-paid friend working a high-level position in investment banking for the most reputable bank in Canada, and it blows my mind that he doesn’t understand what inflation/deflation truly is – he thinks its just changes in price.

    Perhaps you should consider that the world and its financial operating system is incredibly complex – even people like Raul and Nicole who understand it cannot accurately predict how it will play out in the short term / micro-level, thus why I think they focus on longer term / macro-level predictions.

    If you want something more short term / micro-level, look to Martin Armstrong, assuming you believe him and the notion he’s dropped nearly a billion dollars into an Economic Confidence Model & AI system that can predict financial cycle turning points to the day based on Pi x 1000. His next big turning point is September/October 2015 – watch for 90% drops on Canadian housing after that point, as you may find yourself having to eat some crow.

    Lastly, generally speaking nobody “destroys” anyone else’s lives (unless they’re crazy psycho killers); people destroy their own lives based on the choices they make. Furthermore, anyone who’s chosen to follow Raul’s & Nicole’s guidance have likely eschewed debt and have forgone additional consumption now in hopes of saving some liquidity for a potential collapse; anyone who went in the opposite direction enjoyed more consumption now but has taken on the debt-risks associated with the collapse of the global financial system.

    Not consuming more now and paying down my debts certainly isn’t about to destroy my life.



    Variable, the Greeks didn’t build for unstable demand or anything like that. And they were never an export nation. They had what they had, which was less than the ”rich” world, but they were fine with it. Then they – or rather their corrupt leaders – made one fatal mistake: they joined the EU and then the eurozone. Now they had to become Germany or suffer. Note that the euro was introduced just 25 years (thereabouts) after the Greeks, and the Spanish and Portuguese, came out of harsh dictatorships. They never had a chance. And now the companies set up to cater just to their own people are going bankrupt, if they haven’t already.

    CJ in VT

    “I’m assuming Deflation still = lower money supply, but not even sure about that, and not sure how lower prices wouldn’t be the biggest help to people whose income has been slashed.”

    Because wages are dropping faster than prices are falling, making items with lower prices MORE expensive.

    CJ in VT

    Ilargi, the more upset you get, the worse your spelling gets. It was the only thing about this post that made me smile. Still, I suggest using a spell checker before posting.


    CJ, I do.

    Huck, that was disappointing. Ignoring me plus calling me more dangerous than anyone else when it comes to finance is not a respectful combo.



    Good point. Pure self interest certainly can and does lead to monopolistic behaviour without the need for a stated goal, but we’ve been led to believe this is capitalism by those exact class of people benefiting from monopoly. And when you have the ability to extend almost limitless credit in return for tangible capital then of course you’re going to do these things. But that’s my point, the ability to extent limitless credit isn’t part of a working system, and this ability was granted as a result of a very detailed plan. We can all agree this system doesn’t work for the vast majority of people, we can’t rely on government to change it, they’re already captured by the credit net, as planned, so we have to pry ourselves out with successful alternatives and just get on with it.

    As an aside I’m getting tired of the amount of blogs and alternative media, especially recently now everything’s becoming unglued, saying the system is broken (including my own comments!). We all know it’s broken (those of us willing to hear it), and the best we can say is “well it’s the best we have”, and then sign some petitions and hold up banners. Once we stop justifying it with this thinking and show people there are genuine working alternatives where you don’t have to sit in drum circles then we can move on. Unfortunately most people have become defeatist or just plain angry, and that’s exactly what the monopolists thrive on. So let’s start growing our own food for local use, educate ourselves with a multitude of skills, use technology such as micro-finance platforms or crowd funding to purchase small scale production capital for local use, work as small hives of cooperating capital owners. It can genuinely work. If other alternatives are being enacted and working then lets hold them up as examples. The tide will turn, and then we can start bringing justice to those who followed and screwed people in this current system. Or maybe I’m wrong


    @ Ilargi,

    You make it sound as if the Greeks were so innocent and never benefited from (or supported) the decisions of their leadership. While I will admit I’m not the most knowledgeable about the Greek situation, its not as if they were held at gunpoint to sell their futures away and/or didn’t enjoy some degree of prosperity while the debt levels were building up. I’m sure coming out of a dictatorship didn’t help at all either, but its still no reason for a nation of people to live above their means. Nobody should ever do that, and yet, virtually the entire developed world has done just that.

    All politicians around the world are making bad choices every day to “keep the lights on” and maintain this unsustainable standard of living many of us enjoy; when it finally falls apart, I will be upset to some degree (from the loss of living standards) but you won’t see me pointing the finger at the people who we all elected, who’s lies we swallowed down every day, and laying the blame completely at their feet. It is just as much my fault and the fault of my peers who a) knew (or were ignorant to the fact that) the current way of living was all bought on borrowed dollars, b) never did anything to correct the situation to prevent severe collapse, and c) received some degree of benefit (i.e. houses, food, trips, etc.) from being complicit in this unsustainable scheme.

    Blame their *evil* leadership for joining the Euro if you must, but please don’t try to spin me a tale of poor Greeks who never did anything wrong and don’t deserve the horrors they’re currently facing. Everyone’s going to get (and likely deserves to get) what the Greeks got for living beyond their means and playing with (debt) fire – the Greeks just got it first.

    And who knows… the Greek’s suffering now might end up being an advantage for them (“he who defaults first, defaults best…”). TAE’s crystal ball is very focused on the coming collapse, but perhaps we could start to see some insight as to what happens post-collapse… maybe those who suffer more now rather than delay it as long as possible (i.e. North America) will be better suited for the world we’re destined to inherit.



    As I said before websites like this are the only places where you can get “real news”.
    MSM scares me, I am starting to relate to all those soviet and east german news viewers just before their systems collapsed. You just can’t trust it.


    You don’t like Greeks, do you, Variable?

    Formerly T-Bear

    @ Variable 81 – et al

    I am quite sure I remember it being discussed that what lead to the Great Depression was overproduction, the efficiency of production surpassed the efficiency of the workers getting living wages, plus ça change, plus c’est la mème chose.

    You may have heard the expression ‘the roaring twenties’ (and that isn’t in reference to some geographic latitude), where American investment in production became overwrought and manic. At the same time government policy allowed laissez faire doctrine to impose a mercantilistic ideology, trade barriers and tariffs on imports and requiring cash dollars for exports. Once the world’s trade ran out of dollars to buy US goods, surplus goods rapidly accumulated beyond the ability of the economy to absorb. It was then, with mounting masses of unsold goods that further production was closed down, and adding to the inability to consume those goods. Interestingly enough, the whole idea behind Breton Woods was to create a bank and a fund to overcome these barriers to world trade but that gets into another story altogether.

    It is de rigueur in current ideology to blame either labour or consumers for all that goes amiss in the economy, somehow it is never the management or more appropriately mal-management that carries the responsibility. This bias shows up in the remarks here as well. It might help as well, if history were better known, understood and interpreted, but then, that would be asking way too much.


    @ Ilargi,

    No ill will towards the Greeks, honest!
    I simply despise our exploitative Western imperial way of living (despite the fact I benefit greatly from it), and think that the societies who go down the path we have are doomed from the start. Unfortunately for the Greek people, they seemed to have adopted that way of living and their day of reckoning has dawned sooner than the rest of us.

    As I said before, what the Greeks are going through (which is sad to be sure, but it must be pointed out that it is their own fault to some degree) is likely what we will all have to go through at some point (and it will be all our fault at that point too), as we’ve all eaten the same poisoned fruit from the same debt-financing tree…

    @ Formerly T-Bear,

    I tend to blame people as people seem to be the ones making the decisions (as SkyNet is not yet sentient, last I checked). If you mean the “act” of management is to blame, well, it was people who were undertaking those management responsibilities. If it is the people in positions of management that you are suggesting are to blame, well, back to my argument to Ilargi – I don’t buy into the “blame game” of saying it was leadership’s fault for lying to the people when those same people were willing (through naivety or ignorance) to follow those leaders and swallow down the lies they were fed.

    I refuse to give them any sympathy, as to do so is to enable others to live through an exploitative/imperialist culture and cause massive suffering across the globe and then expect no repercussions for their actions. I know the world isn’t fair, but I just can’t stomach the idea of the injustice were Westerners to exploit/rape the world for the last 80 years and not have to pay the price for it at some point.

    Sorry, guess I’m just a prick who thinks people should pay the price for their own decisions? But before Ilargi suggests that (on top of being the Scourge of the Greek Peoples) I have no heart, I will say this – I honestly feel bad for today’s children/infants.

    Millennials who are coming of age have it tough now, but at least they have the ability to fall back on the wealth (debt?) their parents have accumulated over the last 80 years of this ponzi game we’ve all be participants in. But the children of the Millennials… well, I’ll be surprised if there’s ANYTHING left for them to fall back on – financially, economically or ecologically. Even if I save all I can for them, I’m really not sure how much of a “leg up” it would be, given the potential catastrophe of a future we may have created for them.

    I wouldn’t blame today’s children if they grew up hating everyone who’s currently over the age of 25, or if they put us all to the guillotine / pyre at the first chance they get. Could you really blame them if they did? What have we really done that’s positive for future generations? All we’ve done is drink their milkshake.



    @ Chriss,

    I certainly like your ideas, think they are in line with what Ilargi and Nicole have been teaching here at TAE, and support them (within reason).

    My concern, and perhaps why I speak so vehemently about anyone from a Western background, is that we’ve all seemingly sold our souls/morals/ethics/etc. to get to where we are today (even the best of us here on TAE aren’t saints – we live like gods in comparison to anyone who grows up in rural Africa, India, Philippines, etc., and even if we recognize that what do we really do to address that gross inequity?).

    Those of us who visit websites like TAE and actively think about the repercussions of our consumption-based energy-profligate lives are certainly the minority, and even if we banded together and started making good/wholesome choices as a society, we should not forget who are surrounded by – millions of hollow/selfish people who seem to have no problem exploiting the world and its peoples to make sure their standard of living continues. Post-collapse, those sorts of people and what they may be capable of to survive absolutely frightens me.

    Sorry to use it again, but from the Matrix:

    “The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around. What do you see? Business people, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy … You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependant on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”

    They absolutely will fight to protect the system we have now, and I doubt they’ll have much pity or remorse for anyone who doesn’t do likewise (i.e. oddballs like us who eschew Western consumerist behaviours and try to go it alone by living off the land in a sustainable manner). If they are willing to fight to protect the system, to exploit the innocent to maintain the status quo, to persecute those who would opt out from their way of living to pursue a more sustainable way of life… what will those same people do when the system collapses?

    Sorry, guess I’m paranoid and fear-mongering which I know isn’t particularly helpful. Or perhaps I’m just ahead of my time?
    I actually hope its the former, but I can’t help but worry it will turn out to be the latter…



    Oh I was not ignoring you. Some of us actually make a real living by working 8 hours a day instead of looking for handouts on the web. Yeah it is a novel concept but think about it.
    Now for your prediction of the Canadian Housing Market crash. 90% is annihilation, and no you idiot that is not going to happen. Can it go down 20-30%? Sure. Can Vancouver and Toronto do worse? Sure. A 40% inflation adjusted decline is probably the worst you will see and that will bring things about 10% lower than when your brainless friend made that awesome sound bite. So If we go down by 10% over 10 years after your prediction you have accomplished what exactly? And in most cases the rent savings and net equity buildup, outside of the 2 most bubblicious cities will save people money.
    Telling people to hold on to their dollars and practice archaic skills for post doom world is the most dangerous thing in finance. As far as my insolence please have a nice look in the mirror first. I have experience your arrogance on TOD and what goes around comes around.

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