Bonner on the Economic Cocaine of Printing Money
“Has Bernanke stumbled upon the ultimate formula for wealth everlasting? Has the man who once said he would drop money from helicopters if the need arose cracked the code to eternal, effortless prosperity? Just print money and be happy?
“If this were true,” ventured Bill Bonner earlier this week in his essay “Plumbers Crack”,
“it was a giant step forward for humanity, at least equal to discovering fire, creating Facebook or blowing up Nagasaki. Jesus Christ multiplied loaves and fishes. But He had something to work with. The Federal Reserve multiplies zeros…creating money – out of nothing at all. If it can really do the trick, we are saved. The legislature can go home. It no longer needs to worry about raising taxes or allocating public resources. Government can now buy all the loaves and fishes it wants. And give every voter a quart of whiskey on Election Day.”
“Readers may feel a healthy welling of skepticism here. To be sure, a strong economy, a recovering economy, is important…but debasing the nation’s currency won’t get you there. If a country could grow rich and prosperous by simply allocating printed money to troubled sectors of its economy, Zimbabwe would be the jewel of the African continent and there would be a statue of Gideon Gono, her former central banker, in Harare’s town square. If the Weimar Republic had been able to make WWI reparations in 50 billion mark notes, the world may have avoided the unmitigated catastrophe of WWII. And, to belabor the point, if the Romans were allowed to finance their foreign escapades by simply handing out I.O.U.s, Edward Gibbon’s classic, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, might seem a little odd on the bookshelf of history.
“For the moment, the markets have awarded Bernanke’s stimulus plans a vote of confidence. That is the immediate, seen, effect. Like an athlete on steroids, they are looking to break records, to rewrite their own history books. The Fed has them off to a flying start, but pretty soon the effect of the drug will wear off. Reality will kick in. It is then that the “unseen” effects of trying to cheat the system will come into plane view. The global economy, built on the back of a strong, stable world currency, will once again come to realize that history makes no excuses and does no man any favors.”
This will not end well. Printing money, on the scale since The One became President, never does.