November 16, 2016

Influential columnists, like Martin Wolf, are much more responsible for current state of economies than Donald Trump

Sir, Martin Wolf sneers disgustedly, with besserwisser gusto, at what president elect Trump has been proposing in order to tackle current difficulties, and in many cases brand new economic circumstances. “Trump’s false promises to his supporters” November 15.

Many, not all, of Wolf’s warnings are indeed very correct, though I must say his own lately what-to-do instead main suggestion, is not much convincing either. 

For governments to take advantage of low interest rates, to invest in infrastructure, is based on the premise that the interest rates are not low because of artificialities, like regulatory subsidies and QEs; and that the government is capable to embark efficiently on a major infrastructure constructions. Both those premises seem quite doubtful.

For instance last week Olivier Blanchard, the previous Chief Economist at IMF, when referring to my argument that current capital requirements for banks are lowering the interest rates of public debt, answered that the possibility of that needed to be researched, and, if true, the first order of business must be to eliminate the distortions.

I would of course also ask Martin Wolf how much he himself would be willing to invest in long term public debt at current rates… or is that supposed to be done solely by pension funds, insurance companies or profit-squeezed banks desperate for any solution that would keep them out of jail if events turn really sour?

Sir, Mr. Wolf would do well remembering that as a very influential columnist he is, until now at least, much more responsible for whatever conditions the world economies find themselves in than president elect Donald Trump. Where was Wolf in 1988 when the Basel Accord decided that the risk-weight of the Sovereign was 0% and that of We the People 100%? Where was Wolf in 2004 when Basel II assigned amazing much importance to the criteria of some very few human fallible credit rating agencies? And those questions are just for starters?

PS. What would I do? I would grandfather all current capital requirements for banks’ current assets, and then eliminate all distortions that stand in the way of SMEs and entrepreneurs having equal to all access to bank credit, foremost those that favor the government but also including those that favor the financing of houses. And then I would sit down and do nothing for six months, except of course trying to reach approval for a Universal Basic Income scheme that could benefit working and not working citizens.