zaterdag 25 juni 2011

Een onpubliceerbaar commentaar...

Op het blog van Geert Noels is een post verschenen over groei, schulden, inflatie, deflatie, en dat soort onderwerpen. Ik had echt een reply op zijn blog zelf willen schrijven, maar je krijgt maar 1500 karakters. En de reply heeft er 2000 - nog steeds minder dan een blad Word, en dus kan ik niet beter verzinnen dan de reply hier als post neerzetten. De url van Geerts post is:

De reply verliest natuurlijk veel van zijn betekenis als je niet eerst de tekst van Geert leest.


The reason why for some people growth is an "obsession" is that it can increase the pay-back capacity for all that debt. It is then obviously true that it must concern real growth, not manipulated figures. However, a quick glance at figures for the US life expectancy - a reasonable proxy for real, and not imagined wealth - does not seem to show that after the nineties growth became less real:

Another obsession for some people is debt. But if reducing debt reduces GDP even faster than it decreases debt itself, the ratio debt/GDP will grow just as well. Is debt a problem because, "well, just because", or is it a problem because it can become unsustainable? If it is the pay-back capacity that concerns us (rather than some kind of moral absolute value), should we not first calculate the effect of debt reduction on the evolution of GDP? Did anybody calculate the expected evolution of GDP of Greece given the austerity plan? Did anybody calculate whether less austerity combined with less collapse might have been better than current events?

I've wondered before: why would the evolution of a debt over GDP from "100 debt over 100 GDP" to "200 debt over 100 GDP" a priori be worse than to "100 debt over 50 GDP? To me, it looks that "2 = 2". To me it would appear to depend much more on the resulting pay-back capacity than on the absolute figure.

As a third point, I always hear a lot about "healing deflation" and many variations, but it is very difficult to hear anything about the possibly destructive effects of deflation. However, deflation tends to increase the burden of debt: and the burden of debt was our "obsession". And deflation tends to decrease the availability of jobs, and the availability of jobs is another of our "obsessions".

So yes, I understand that within current economic thinking, Geerts position is a very reasonable one. On the other hand, current economic thinking appears to be in a state where two or more "schools of thought" can have very different "reasonable" positions, even though they consider each other idiots. In "epistemology"( the "philosophy of knowledge"), it's a well known stage for sciences to be in. If it can be any consolation, it's often the stage where revolutioinary progress is about to happen. Though nobody may feel relieved if I add that the revolution, with hindsight, makes all the parties in the previous struggles look like completely obsolete.

1 opmerking:

Geert Noels zei

Hi Koen,
thanks for the reply.
As said, I am not against growth, it is part of the solution.
However, it should be sustainable, not debt-driven.
Given current debt levels, it implies that we have to accept that past growth was inflated, and future growth will be likely somewhat lower.
Kind regards