by Alasdair Macleod, Gold Money:
Or some reflections to read over the Easter holidays
With Japanese and Eurozone interest rates becoming increasingly negative, and the Fed backing off from at least some of the planned increases in the Fed funds rate this year, economists are reassessing the interest rate outlook.
Economists lack consensus, with some expecting yet more easing, based on the apparent collapse in cross-border trade last year. The fact that the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank see fit to pursue increasingly aggressive monetary reflation is taken as evidence of underlying difficulties faced in these key economies.
And lingering doubts about the sustainability of China’s credit bubble point to a high risk of a credit-induced slump in the world’s growth engine.
Other economists, citing official US data and relying on the Fed’s statements, point out that unemployment levels have more than satisfied the Fed’s target, and that core inflation has picked up to the point where the Fed would be fully justified to increase interest rates over the course of this year, or risk overheating in 2017.
These two opposite camps conflict in their forecasts, but where they fundamentally differ is in expectations of future economic growth. Far from displaying the highest levels of macroeconomic discipline, their diversity of opinion should alert us that their forecasts may lack sound theoretical foundation. The purpose of reasoned theory is to reduce uncertainty, not promote it. And the explanation for most of the failures behind modern macroeconomic thinking is the substitution of market-based economics by economic planning.
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