Posted tagged ‘Capital Consumption’

Must Reads For The Week 11/18/17

November 19, 2017

Tom Coburn Has A Plan To Fight Washington And Save America, by Mark Hemingway, at thefederalist.com. What can be done to shrink the power of the Federal government over our lives if our elected representatives won’t do it? Excerpt from the article: “Coburn’s latest book, Smashing The DC Monopoly: Using Article V to Restore Freedom and Stop Runaway Government, …..spells out exactly what’s wrong with Washington……..Coburn’s….. book really serves two purposes. The first is to convince ordinary Americans that the problems in Washington are so dire they require dramatic action that elected politicians are unwilling to take. The second is to explain how ordinary voters and state politicians have the power to exploit an obscure constitutional process, known as an Article V convention, to bypass Washington and amend the Constitution to institute badly needed reforms, such as a balanced budget amendment and term limits……Much of the book, however, is dedicated to explaining what Coburn believes is America’s last best hope: an Article V convention….. the founders always intended this provision to be a significant check on the growth and abuses of the federal government, and it’s actually surprising that this method for passing amendments has never been exercised. Hamilton argued in the Federalist papers that this mechanism was put in place so Americans could “safely rely on the disposition of the state legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority.”

Congress Owes Taxpayers Answers About Its Harassment ‘Shush’ Fund, at thehill.com. Here is a perfect example of the ruling aristocracy not living under the same set of rules it places on us. Congress has set up a fund using taxpayer dollars to settle sexual harassment accusations against their members. And the perps names are sealed. This fund was created (slipped in) after a Republican Congress passed the 1995 Congressional Accountability Act. Do you think this constrains sexual harassment by members of congress? Or does it incentivize sexual harassment?

“Economic Development” Is A Corporate Welfare Scheme, by Nathan Keeble, at mises.org. Many think Government subsidies and tax breaks to certain businesses will spur economic development. But they are incorrect. Excerpt from the article: “Corporate welfare must come to an end if we want an economy which best fulfills its purpose, improving the lives of the most amount of people. The truth is that good businesses simply do not need the state’s handouts. Only bad ones do. If legislators truly wish to see their community grow and develop, they would be wise to pursue other reforms. The best path for a legislature to take is to get themselves out of the private sector’s way. Economic growth is slowed, halted, or even reversed when the state taxes, regulates, or otherwise violates private property rights. Removing licensing laws, lowering taxes, and repealing burdensome regulations would all be great choices to accelerate economic development and promote the welfare of local communities. Crucially, these reforms should be as generally applicable as possible to avoid the same harmful and distorting effects of the current corporate welfare programs.

We Are Living In The Age Of Capital Consumption, Ronald Peter Stoferle, at mises.org. Excerpt from the article: “Capital formation is always an attempt to generate larger returns in the long-term by adopting more roundabout methods of production. Such higher returns….. result in greater productivity. It is therefore fair to assume that a more capital-intensive production structure will generate more output than a less capital-intensive one. The more prosperous an economic region, the more capital-intensive its production structure is. The fact that the generations currently living in our society are able to enjoy such a high standard of living is the result of decades or even centuries of both cultural and economic capital accumulation by our forebears……Once a stock of capital has been accumulated, it is not destined to be eternal. Capital is thoroughly transitory, it wears out, it is used up in the production process, or becomes entirely obsolete. Existing capital requires regularly recurring reinvestment, which can usually be funded directly out of the return capital generates. If reinvestment is neglected because the entire output or more is consumed, the result is capital consumption……..Once zero or even negative interest rate territory is reached, the return on saved capital is obviously no longer large enough to enable one to live from it, let alone finance a reasonable standard of living. Consequently, saved capital has to be consumed in order to secure one’s survival. Capital consumption is glaringly obvious in this case……At the same time, the all-encompassing redistributive welfare state, which either directly through taxes or indirectly through the monetary system continually shifts and reallocates large amounts of capital, manages to paper over the effects of capital consumption to some extent. It remains to be seen how much longer this can continue. Once the stock of capital is depleted, the awakening will be rude”

Read my simpler explanation about capital consumption in this article, Capital consumption, aka, Eating Our Seed Corn.

Looking For Inflation In All The Wrong Places, at zerohedge.com. Printing money is the definition of inflation. Central banks hide inflation by pointing to the movement in the price of a “basket of goods” which they track over time. But the  printed money has not significantly raised the price of the ‘basket of goods’ over the last decade. So where did the printed money end up. First of all it has allowed the Federal government to grow because it has funded the government’s debt. And It has found its way into stocks, bonds, real estate, fine arts, collectibles and cryptocurrencies. The spike in the prices of these things shows us where the money is flowing. These central bank produced bubbles will eventually correct when the money printing stops. Government intervention into the free market, especially Federal Reserves money printing, only helps individuals directly involved with government or individuals in orbit around government. The rest of us are funding these individuals.

The Free Market Levels The Playing Field, by Jacob Hornberger, at mises.org. Excerpt from thee article: “Consumers in a free market, not the government, do the equalizing and leveling, and, unlike the government, they do it peacefully and voluntarily. It is consumers who decide who is going to prosper and who isn’t. They not the government, is sovereign in a free market. How do consumers redistribute and equalize wealth? Through their decisions on what to buy and not to buy. By making those decisions, they decide who is going to be rich, poor, or middle class. In a free market there is only one way that a well-established, wealthy company can retain its position in the market. It must continue to satisfy the consumer by providing him with goods and services that he is willing to pay for. A company cannot force its customers to patronize it or forcibly take money from people to subsidize its operations. It must serve people by providing them with goods and services that they are voluntarily willing to pay for. Leftists are wrong. We don’t need government to destroy freedom and private property by coercively confiscating and redistributing wealth. The free market does a fine job redistributing wealth all by itself, and entirely voluntarily.”

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Wealth Can’t Be Redistributed If It Doesn’t Exist!

June 25, 2015

The simple concept that production comes before consumption must not be as simple to understand as I think. Since before the tech bubble popped in 2000, our Government and the Federal Reserve have tried to spend, and electronically print, our way to prosperity. Government spending and money printing are not just consumption activities, they also work to distort the production process. We have been consuming more than we have been producing for about a decade or more. We have essentially been eating our seed corn.

Government’s wealth distribution policies are put forth by politicians as charitable activities. But, since Government doesn’t produce anything, it must first confiscate what it redistributes. That is theft not charity.

Here are three short articles from Mises.org that address the above topic.

1)  Technology Needs Capital To Produce Economic Growth, by Frank Shostak. Here are some excerpts from the article.

“Most modern theories that emphasize the importance of new ideas and new technologies give the impression that these ideas and technologies have a “life of their own.” Many experts hold that because of the limited amounts of capital and labor, without technological progress, the opportunities for growth will eventually run out.”

“So regardless of how clever we are and regardless of various technological ideas, without an adequate pool of funding nothing will emerge. It is through the expansion in the pool of real savings that an increase in the stock of capital goods is possible. And it is the increase in the capital goods per worker that permits economic growth to emerge.”

2)  Wealth Must Be Created Before We Give It To The Poor, by Steve Patterson. Here are some excerpts from the article.

“Charity is seen as ethically superior to business. After all, what could make a greater impact on the world than giving to the needy?”

“This view of the world is shortsighted. While it’s true that charity helps people, business makes a far greater contribution to humanity. Virtually all of the increases in society’s standard of living are because of simple commerce, and it’s the poor, in particular, who benefit the most…”

“In the developed world, it’s easy to forget that poverty is the default state of human existence. Wealth is not found in nature; it must be created, and this is precisely the role of businesses and entrepreneurs. They are the force which takes us out of the state of nature. All cases of poverty have the same solution — not wealth distribution, but wealth creation. This is not merely a theoretical argument. It’s witnessed everywhere around the globe.”

“… Not everybody has the skills necessary to create a new invention or become a successful businessman. But that doesn’t preclude them from making a positive difference in the world. However, we should be realistic: a donation of furniture to Goodwill does not create the same ripple effect as selling affordable food or power tools to everyone.”

“Many economic truths work this way. We’re quick to praise what’s easily seen…… but we overlook or even condemn what happens behind the scenes….. The farmer, the butcher, the truck driver, the cook, the engineer, and the businessman should also be praised for their work. Without them, there would be no surplus food for the charity worker to give away.

3) Let’s Hope Machines Take Our Jobs: We Want Wealth Not Jobs, by Peter St. Onge.

When we use technology and machines to become more productive it destroys jobs, and this is a good thing. This article explains this abstract concept that I have found to be difficult to get people to understand. The article starts with the thought experiment that a machine is created that is capable of producing everything with a push of a button. Its creation puts a lot of people out of work. Now what happens? Read the article it will make you think which is a good thing.

Related ArticleWhat Comes First, Production Or Consumption, at austrianaddict.com.

Related ArticleCapital Consumption, aka Eating Our Seed Corn, at austrianaddict.com.

Related ArticleReal Savings = True Credit, Printed Savings = False Credit, at austrianaddict.com.

Related ArticleProducing Capital Goods, Requires Restricting Present Consumption, at austrianaddict.com

Related ArticleWhy Do People Think The Government Is The Economy? at austrianaddict.com.

Related ArticleEntrepreneurship Can Be A Stinky Business, at austrianaddict.com.

Producing Capital Goods, Requires Restricting Present Consumption

August 29, 2014

Understanding the role capital goods play in an economy is important, but understanding the process of producing capital goods is more important. Using capital goods allows individuals to become more productive over time. Capital goods are scarce, they don’t magically appear. Present consumption has to be foregone to save the resources and time needed to produce capital goods. The foundation of the advance in the worlds material standard of living is due to the capital structure that has evolved over time.  The two articles below explain Capital Theory using analogies that are simple to understand. The first by Mark Tovey is from this week, and the second is by Robert P. Murphy and is from Oct. 2008, which was in the middle of the economic crisis.

Austrian Capital Theory And The Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, by Mark Tovey, at mises.org. Here are a few highlights from this article.

“The adoption of ever-more roundabout and convoluted production processes is, paradoxically, the hallmark of economic development. This is not, of course, because time-consuming methods are inherently more productive. If that were the case, we could increase output by simply working more slowly!…..roundabout methods are immensely more productive than their labor-intensive counterparts, hence it is why the more complex methods have come to replace the labor-intensive ones in the developed human economies of the world.”

“In the process of economic growth, saving is crucial. No matter how ingenious the individuals comprising a society, if the means to forgo present consumption are unavailable, capital goods simply cannot be created. Crude, labor-intensive methods of production will then necessarily be employed,”

The Importance Of Capital Theory, by Robert P. Murphy, at mises.org. Here are a few highlights from this article.

“The basic Austrian story is that during the artificial boom, workers’ labor and other resources get channeled into investment projects that aren’t compatible with the overall level of real savings. Sooner or later, reality rears its ugly head, and the unsustainable projects have to be abandoned before completion. Entrepreneurs realize they were horribly mistaken during the boom, everybody feels poorer and slashes consumption, and many workers get thrown out of jobs until the production structure can be reconfigured in light of the revelation.”

“As our simple story illustrates, in modern economies workers use capital goods to augment their labor as they transform nature’s gifts into consumption goods. Because of the time structure of production, it is possible to temporarily boost everyone’s consumption (with Government or Fed stimulus), but only at the expense of maintaining the capital goods, which are thus “consumed.” At some point, engineering reality sets in, and no “stimulus” policies can prevent a sharp drop in consumption.”

Related ArticleCapital Consumption, aka, Eating Our Seed Corn, at austrianaddict.com.

Charles Hugh Smith – After 6 Years Of Unprecedented Central Planning, The Economy Is More Fragile Than Ever

June 23, 2014

File:Organiztion of the Federal Reserve System.jpg

Charles Hugh Smith does another brilliant analysis of how central planning, by the Federal Reserve, has markets completely distorted to the point that nobody knows what is real or fake, in this article, After 6 Years Of Central Planning, The Economy Is More Fragile Than Ever.

Artificially holding interest rates lower than they would be in an unhampered market, distorts the production process. It brings about economic activities that wouldn’t have existed if the market was left to decide what the interest rate should be. Interest rates “coordinate production across time”.  Any interference with the knowledge that passes through the production process, because the interest rate is distorted by the Fed, consumes scarce resources, scarce capital, and scarce labor. As we talked about in this article Capital Consumption, aka, Eating Our Seed Corn, and this article, A Look Over The Horizon At What Lies Ahead If We Continue Down The Central Planning Road.

Here are some excerpts from CHS’s article.

“Here are the key characteristics of Central Planning:”

1. “The central bank/state intervene in the economy in a dominant fashion, controlling functions such as interest rates…”

2. “The central bank/state pick winners and losers: ….. The central bank/state bailed out the too big to fail banks private losses with public-taxpayer money. In effect, the central state/bank enrich cronies at the expense of everyone else.”

3. “The central bank/state manipulate the nominally “free” market to boost asset valuations as a way of enriching cronies who own most of the financial assets and as a public-relations charade to mask the failure of their picking winners and losers.”

“In other words, in centrally planned economies, markets are not allowed to discover price–they exist only to reflect positively on Central Planners.”

4. “The central bank/state use the power of the printing press to create as much money as they need to reward cronies and cram their decisions down the throat of the economy.”

5. “The central bank/state use the power of their public policy announcements to manipulate behavior and the financial markets while keeping programs that might attract scrutiny secret.”

“Central planning fails for intrinsic reasons unrelated to the specific policies. The decentralized, self-organizing market is like the immune system for the economy; it keeps the system healthy by burning off the deadwood of failed bets and failed investments and distributing credit and risk on performance rather than cronyism.”

“By eliminating the economy’s immune system, Central Planning dramatically increases vulnerability and guarantees systemic crises down the road…”

“The economy becomes dependent on the The central bank/state intervention and loses the ability to function in the real world. When the real world finally intrudes, the weakened, strung-out addict, no longer capable of responding to reality in a positive fashion, expires.”

The damage done by Central Planning has yet to come home to roost. Six years into the Grand Experiment–that Central Planners can pick winners who just happen to be their cronies–the chickens of consequence are still making their way home.”

CHS  has some great charts that show the results of the Feds interventions, which are hard to see let alone understand. As J.M. Keynes wrote, “There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”

In order to understand what Keynes was talking about concerning counterfeiting by central banks, you first have to understand this quote by his rival F. A. Hayek, “The coordination of mens activities through central planning or through voluntary cooperation are roads going in very different directions, the first to serfdom and poverty the second to freedom and plenty.”

Voluntary cooperation through free markets brings about individual freedom and a higher standard of living, while its opposite, central planning, brings about coercion by the state and a lower standard of living.

Related Article/VideoKeynesianism vs. The Austrian School, by austrianaddict.com.

Related Article/VideoKeynes vs. Hayek Round II, The Fight Of The Century, by austrianaddict.com.

 

 

 

A Housing Recovery, Or Just Another Bubble?

May 29, 2013
English: Blowing large soap bubbles at sunset

Blowing large bubbles  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

THE WEALTH EFFECT.

Since the housing bust and the corresponding economic downturn in 08, the Fed has been trying to create the “wealth effect”, using its double-edged sword of near zero interest rates and injecting counterfeit money into the banking system. I don’t know if they realize it or not but this double-edged sword is what caused the artificial housing boom which collapsed in 08.

The wealth effect starts from the Keynesian belief that consumption drives the economy. A vast majority of economists, politicians, and bureaucrats believe that if individuals feel wealthier because the value of the stocks and bonds they own are increasing, and the value of their house is also increasing, they will spend more. This increase in consumption [aggregate demand] they believe, is  what drives the economy. Unfortunately if the policies they are implementing are based on a fallacy, the policies will also be  fallacious.

WHAT DRIVES THE ECONOMY SAVINGS OR SPENDING?

The truth is savings, capital formation, and entrepreneurial activity is what drives the economy, not consumer spending. (more…)

A Tornado vs.The Fed, Which Is More Destructive?

May 27, 2013
Shamrock Texas Tornado

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DESTRUCTION DOESN’T CREATE WEALTH.

It’s been a week since the tornado went through Moore Oklahoma and I have yet to see an article or comment by an “economist” saying that the destruction by the tornado will help the economy and create jobs. This is what was said after Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey and New York, read here and here. We showed the errors of this analysis in this post titled, Hurricane Sandy and the Broken Window Fallacy. But like all shallow thinking,  this fallacy will never be put to rest once and for all, so let’s be ready to shoot it down when it rears its head again.

Let’s look at the similarities and the differences between the destructive power of this tornado, and the destructive power of the Fed and the Government. It’s a version of the broken window fallacy. (more…)

Capital Consumption, aka, Eating Our Seed Corn.

January 30, 2013
Corn Seeds

Corn Seeds (Photo credit: Stevie Rocco)

This article on ZeroHedge.com, R.I.P. Retirement: 28% Of Americans Are Raiding Their 401k Plans, talks about how people are withdrawing a portion of their retirement savings and spending it on present consumption. A large part of these savings will be used  to produce capital goods (tools, buildings, vehicles, machines, etc.), which will be used to produce future goods more efficiently. When we start to use money saved for capital formation and use it for present consumption, we are eating our seed corn. If we start to eat a portion of the corn we’ve set aside for use as seed, we won’t produce as much corn for next years consumption. This has been happening for the last four years. Individuals have been using savings earmarked for the future, in order survive in the present.

CAPITAL FORMATION

The money an individual gets paid for the good or service he produces (more…)