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Thursday, 22 December 2016

Why the Massive Expansion of "Money" Hasn't Trickled Down to "The Rest of Us"

Of Two Minds Blog 
Charles Hugh Smith

If you create and distribute money only in the apex of the wealth/power pyramid, it can only benefit the few rather than the many.

There are numerous debates about money: what it is, how we measure it, and so on. In recognition of these debates, I'm referring to "money" in quotes to designate that I'm using the Federal Reserve's measure of money stock (MZM).

Nowadays, "money" is often credit. We buy stuff not with currency/ cash, but with credit extended by lenders. The government pays for its programs with borrowed money as well, by selling sovereign bonds and spending the proceeds.

So to get a rough measure of the expansion of "money," we look at money stock and total credit.

There's a third measure: GDP, or gross domestic product. As money and credit expanded, did GDP go up, too? By how much?

GDP is also a flawed measure of value and activity, but once again we'll use it as the conventional measure of economic "growth."

When we glance at money, credit and GDP, we are immediately struck by the disconnect between expansion of money/credit and GDP growth. A relatively modest expansion of money stock and credit was sufficient to fuel a powerful expansion of GDP during the 1995-2000 Internet boom.

The next expansion of GDP--Housing Bubble #1--required an enormous expansion of credit and about double the growth in money stock as the Internet boom.

The current "recovery"--what I term the central bank credit bubble--has required a monumental increase in money stock and a non-trivial expansion of credit.

This is the very definition of diminishing returns: Every expansion of GDP is weaker but requires vastly greater expansions of money stock and total credit.

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