The single most important discussion in economics at the moment is whether or not there will be inflation in the U.S., and if so, when that will happen. The Bush and Obama administrations along with the Fed and the Treasury have made their positions crystal clear: they believe that inflation is a near impossibility in this economic environment.
The government, the Fed and the Treasury have for months now been trying to tell the world that things are getting better and that the measures they have taken to ease the crisis are working. Geithner even went to China and gave speeches telling everyone how much confidence the Chinese still had in the U.S. economy, even as the Chinese sold long-term U.S. Treasuries and bought short-term U.S. Treasuries instead (which is a clear sign of a loss of confidence).
Governments around the world are currently engaging in what they call “quantitative easing”, otherwise known as money printing. The most famous example of this is probably Germany after World War I. Germany had a huge war debt to pay, and that debt was strangling the German economy. The Germans decided to simply print more money and be done with it. After that policy was implemented, people started using money to light fires in their furnaces because it was worth so little.
Nowadays, even the Bank of Switzerland is printing money. The U.S. government is the worst offender, and is currently flooding the U.S. economy with money. In a matter of months, the Fed has suddenly expanded its balance sheet 40 times, after having stuck to a policy of stability for six decades. This is truly revolutionary and truly disturbing.
Take a look at the recent expansion in the Fed's monetary base:
Why are governments doing this? It has to do with the theoretical approach to the creation of inflation.
For people who are unfamiliar with a range of theories in economics, such as the entire economic team of the Bush and Obama administrations, there is a dogma concerning inflation:
Inflation can only be created by a wage and price spiral
This is what the government believes, or at least is strongly hoping for. In other words, for inflation to start growing, people would have to start demanding higher salaries (which is not exactly easy in a country essentially without unions or labor laws) and people would have to start consuming goods and services to a much higher degree. So, all of a sudden, we would have higher salaries, more consumption and the good times would again start to roll. The government sees this as an unlikely scenario. On that point, I absolutely agree.
So, if you believe that the preceding scenario is the only scenario under which inflation can be created, printing money might make sense for a while. However, I, and many others, do not believe that this is the only scenario under which inflation can occur.
You can look at the problem of what inflation actually is in 2 ways:
1. inflation is ONLY a wage and price spiral where too much money is chasing too few goods and services, OR
2. inflation is an excess of money in the economy
In order to find out which of these two statements is true, a simple theoretical model can be constructed. If statement 1 were true, there would be no examples in history where inflation was created without a wage and price spiral. Is that so? The answer is unequivocally: NO.
Inflation has been created without a wage and price spiral countless times in economies around the world. Some examples are: Argentina at the end of the 90:s, Zimbabwe currently, Germany in the 1920:s and 1930:s, and so on and so on.
However, what these countries do have in common during the abovementioned crises is money printing. For different reasons, these countries have been printing money in order to get out of a crisis, and that has created massive inflation. This is exactly what the U.S. is doing today, so why should the U.S. be different?
The statement that inflation can only be created by a wage and price spiral is most certainly untrue. It has no basis in empirical evidence, and in fact, much evidence to the contrary exists.
I believe that inflation is simply an excess of money in the economy. Is an excess of money being created by the Fed right now? You would have to be some sort of lunatic to answer "no" to that question.
If a central bank such as the Fed starts printing money and flooding the economy with it, that money is going to go somewhere. It does not have to go to consumption of goods and services, it can go to the financial markets and spur speculation.
That this happened in the last few months would be a good bet, because the recent attempts to save the economy has mainly been a huge bailout of financial companies, transferring massive amounts of wealth over to them.
If all this money had been transferred to American citizens in the form of living allowances or something like that, we might have had some sort of price spiral, but that didn’t happen. When Wall Street got all the bailout money, it started to push up prices of stocks again in the early spring, and a massive stock rally occurred.
So, I believe that the rise of the stock market has to do with an inflation of prices brought on by the financial bailout. This will most likely put additional upwards pressure on inflation. This is a kind of price spiral too, and this taken together with the excess of money in the economy makes inflation even more likely.
To sum up: the U.S. will experience massive inflation soon as a result of the money printing activities and the recent stock rally is an illusion brought on by the financial bailout.
Moreover, I advise that the winner-takes-all voting system should be destroyed.