by Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds:
The priesthood’s insane obsession with forcing people to spend their savings by punishing savers with ZIRP/NIRP has failed spectacularly for a simple reason: it completely misunderstands human psychology.
Let’s start with a simple chart of the Fed Funds Rate, which the Federal Reserve has pinned near zero for years. This Zero Rate Interest Policy (ZIRP) is the god the PhD economists in the Fed and other central banks worship as the supreme force in the Universe, along with its even more severe sibling god, NIRP (negative interest rate policy), which demands that banks and depositors must pay for the privilege of holding cash.
Precisely what have ZIRP and NIRP fixed in the global economy? The short answer is “nothing.” Instead of fixing what’s broken, ZIRP and NIRP have pushed a broken system further along the path of self-destruction.
Let’s stipulate that not all economics PhDs are members of the failed Keynesian Cargo Cult Priesthood. A few “professional” economists get it, but they are heretics who are kept far from the priesthood’s temples of power: central banks, central state Treasury departments, major university faculties, etc.
The basic problem with the professional priesthood is they believe that their cult is a “real science,” and their “proof” is a bunch of equations that they claim map and predict human behavior. Like the other social sciences, economics suffers from a pathologically obsessive envy of physics, i.e. “real science” that actually predicts the actions of materials and objects in the real world.
The truth that the economic priesthood cannot accept is that “economics” is more psychology than physics. Human behavior cannot be reduced down to simple models and equations, as the variables are many and difficult to quantify, and the spectrum of potential responses is too wide.
The entire Keynesian Cargo Cult Priesthood boils down to this absurdly wrong-headed model of capital and human psychology: the economy suffers when people “hoard” their earnings. So the goal of the priesthood is to persuade them to stop “hoarding” their cash and force them to spend it. (This spending is known as “aggregate demand” in the priesthood.) The priesthood worships the gods of ZIRP and NIRP because they are believed to force people to spend rather than “hoard.”
The ultimate goal of the Keynesian Cargo Cult Priesthood is to force people to borrow more money from banks, as this increases bank profits and boosts “aggregate demand” by tapping future earnings. Taking out a loan brings future demand forward by issuing a claim on future earnings.
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