Featuring work by a Japanese-funded US historian, the St. Louis Fed suggests Americans have forgotten how to save, and must re-learn to do so. So they're saying we've had a national stroke, and rather like a CNS with aphasia or ataxia, must once again learn how to do a basic function.
The New American Challenge: Learning To Save To Build Wealth
Their suggested remedy? Reopen all the post offices we just closed down, to host postal savings banks, like the Japanese do, to help distributed Americans hoard small amounts of fiat currency.
Let's get a second opinion on that diagnosis, and some alternate options on therapy. Okay, they may be onto something with the analogy of a stroke. However they may be thinking of the wrong area of the group-brain that was affected. There's more evidence that it was the emerging "higher-order" policy area that for some reason suddenly underwent significant, localized brain death.
Compared to the last time we had a depression this deep & prolonged (1932), several things have changed.
1) our aggregate population has more than tripled, increasing an already significant, organizational scaling task;
2) our population today features dramatically increased transaction options & frequency, thereby compounding our scaling task;
3) to meet that ballooning organizational scaling task, we transitioned from a fixed, commodity-based currency system that attempted to peg public initiative to a static value metric [producing recurring, disastrous constraints on public agility], to a fiat currency system, trading co-constrained policy/currency-value for floating currency value and unlimited agility in public policy;
4) that necessary evolution marked an inflection point in the evolving purpose of currency in aggregates of different size, complexity & agility;
a) in small, static aggregates, currency can be synonymous with any fairly stable supply of a commodity reference value, and hence a stable method of savings;
b) in large, agile aggregates, currency must be linked or "backed by" public initiative itself; with that change, currency becomes primarily an automatically-floating-value unit of account, and it's use as a stable store of value becomes negligible;
Ergo, citizens of a large, advanced, growing economy should "save" only a healthy mix of personal and aggregate options, never significant amounts of fiat currency. They should concentrate on agile use fiat currency ONLY to denominate increasingly complex & coordinated transaction chains - while exploring their unlimited, aggregate options. In today's economy, fiat currency is essentially an automatic stabilized supply, produced upon demand to denominate any & all transactions a clever population can design and safely manage. [We'll talk later about banks as licensed credit rating offices, NOT places to store fiat currency - see Mosler Economics for an in depth review of that topic.]
Methinks that urging poor people in a modern economy to hoard fiat currency is horrifyingly unethical. That equates to urging them to hoard ONLY those assets guaranteed by design to depreciate. It's also rather like teaching students how to individually chop down trees with an axe, instead of learning to type, parse & communicate what little matters in real-time, and PRACTICE staging, linking & sequencing increasing complex transaction chains. Rather than individual effort & individual hoarding, we should pay more attention to reaping the incredible return-on-coordination that is available but grossly under-leveraged. Put down that axe & fiat savings book, son, talk to these systems folks. We're gonna make your community survive. People over 2000 years ago could organize to do things we still can't imagine them being able to do, like Stone Henge & the Pyramids - not to mention complex tribal methods & strategies. Yet our "sophisticated" electorate today can't do things we can already imagine, because we imagine we're not "saving" fiat currency, and are thereby running out of it? Preposterous!
One has to wonder if Japan, Nissan, Sheldon Garon, Princeton University or the St. Louis Fed have ventured out into the real world at any time since 1933. Hint to all, "it's changed."
It really does seem to be true that it's easier to understand the constantly evolving operations & pace of real economies without any exposure to orthodox economics. Instead of Star Wars missile shields, the most strategic move militaries and nations could make is to build Bozone Shields around those remaining university economics departments still teaching un-evolved, orthodox macroeconomics - or it's history, out of context.