Monday, August 12, 2013

Why Do We Do These Things? Good question. For The Answer, Look In Your House of Mirrors ... VERY Carefully.

Commentary by Roger Erickson

RM Mitchell says ...

"we asked the following [five] questions:

1. What does
[public policy] do in the years leading up to recessions? (Answer: Cut growth in deficit spending)

2. What does 
[public policy] do that cures recessions? (Answer: Increase deficit spending growth)

3. What is 
[public policy] doing now? [Answer: Cutting growth in deficit spending]

4. Why is 
[public policy] cutting deficit spending growth, despite overwhelming evidence this causes recessions? (Because of the false premises that the federal government can run short of dollars, or by creating dollars, could cause inflation.)

5. Why do we allow Congress and the President to
[curtail national growth]?"

The Recession Clock

Why indeed? What distributed remedies can we explore, and select from?

While you ponder that, please remember that Public Policy is the result of OUR highly distributed cascade of choices. We get the governance patterns which our votes create, including the unintended complications. 

To examine how this occurs, everyone looks in their mirror and initially sees THEIR personal inter-dependencies, wants and desires. Yet how many see the looming, unintended inter-dependencies? What happens when your mirror doesn't also reflect frequent-enough interactions with a wide-enough distribution of co-citizens? Then what? In that case, no matter how hard everyone personally works at making voting selections ... the collective effort may keep missing the point altogether? So that nothing changes?

Why are we constantly confused about the nature of emerging coordination tasks at different scales?* Simply because they're unpredictable, and we keep insisting that they're not? Gotta admit, we're stubborn, if nothing else.

Does progress track agility in switching between different paradigms for different contexts?  Especially when scale is the dominant context change? 

If local, county, state and national policy developments are parallel kabuki theaters, whether intentional or not ... how do you discover what attributes in a collection of representatives will help, not hinder, all the unpredictable interaction patterns once all the selected representatives get into policy committees at various levels (from local to national)?

Are we running MULTI-LEVEL KABUKI? In multi-level kabuki, diverse audience members all try to select unseen kabuki-masters, to indirectly guide the kabuki-plot in the diverse directions they all want? Do the audience members ever get together and actually improve group agility at multi-level kabuki? Sounds tediously difficult.

What would multi-level kabuki look like on a personal level? If looking in your personal mirror isn't enough, what should you do next? Stack up a series of additional mirrors behind you, so that you're always looking at the multiple reflections in a little house of mirrors? That way you might hope to see inter-dependency images that appear purely as the interactions between two or many reflections? Is that a metaphor for sensing the perspectives of many people simultaneously, not just your own?

* Max Planck, a physicist writing about newly-discovered, "quantum" scale interactions, noted that: a "dilemma crops up from an incorrect understanding of the relation between the microlevel and the macrolevel." In practice, are our biggest tasks always related to staging, linking and sequencing coordination on a scale even bigger than what we did last year? Learning that is NEVER predictable. Rather, it takes trial & error practice - which we resist because we always think that we're "running out of" the public initiative - aka, fiat currency - needed to pay ourselves, to practice on a more massive scale?


googleheim said...

I have been visiting this blog for years.

I cannot ascertain why the MMT folks do not differentiate between the "printing" by the government and the "printing" by Wall Street.

First QE is not same as deficit spending - that is somewhat covered but not on a consistent basis.

Second, printing is injection of money into the real economy and a lot of it was going on during Bush years. more than Obama years ?

Wall Street "printing" defined by example :

1. regular and Liar loans fed into banks by mortgage bankers.
2. Banks did not hold the debt as in old school times, making a modest gain.
3. Banks instead sold off via Wall Street debt selling models around the world in canned.
4. Said financially engineered models on Wall Street inflated the housing market debt ( CDO's etc ) to factor 10 or more levels of fictitiousness.

Who printed who ?

Who printed more ?

Who printed what ?

The real economy wall streeters over inflated assets that were not backed by anything real.

Just like Dot coms Earnings to Price ratios were of no importance ?

The double ledger system ?

Roger Erickson said...

You're mixing some metaphors, Googleheim, but you make at least one excellent point: MMT discussions, nearly as much as the orthodox clowns, neglect to discuss the constant bleeding effect of fraud in every human process.

Yes, setting up the backbone process AND dealing with outright fraud are both necessary but not sufficient steps.

It's a complex task to solve.

1) many people don't grasp either issue, some only the 1st point, some only the 2nd point, and some both (4 audience types, at least!)

2) hence, any attempt to address either issue in isolation helps some, confuses some, and bores a few (that's inevitable)

3) there's one helluva communication art to BRIEFLY acknowledging both issues & all 4 audience types, while going on to add to the depth of discussion in one, focused area

It's always an issue of herding cats. Progress is never fast enough. We can only hope it keeps us within chasing distance of group survival.

googleheim said...

Yes I mixed up the metaphor on purpose.

We here at this blog know that "printing" by government is the government's job.

Even the right wing ding bats say over and over ad nauseum that "the government does not make anything."

But they do make the money which is on a double ledger which the right wing ding bats don't see.

So I purposefully throw the "printing" catch-all phrase back at them but blaming the wall street quants whose models inflate debt assets in some Rube Goldberg contraption of sorts.

The inflated assets are much the same as "printed" money - it causes inflation and false richness for the 1%, by the 1%, and to the 1%.

What this MMT blog doesn't get, much as you don't, is what I am saying since you are caught up in how I am saying it. Tomato/Tahmahto.

The CDO's and the debt instruments are the inflationary creatures, not the Tsy and Fed's elastic currency operations which include adding funds to a depleted economy void of liquidity ( because of implosion of said CDO's bubble ).

googleheim said...

As a matter of recall, the liar loaners and mortgage bankers were not the problem since that was only a $400 billion dollar problem.

That could easily have been mopped up and cleaned with standard elastic currency operations.

The problem is that the Big Banks took that $400 billion and amplified it into CDO spammage by means of the debt models which artificially amplified this into something 10 or 100 times - by pure frothing of the milk.

That is the "printing" I am referring to do - pure arbitrage of debt into more debt for financial gain - and nothing compared at all to the government invoking deficit spending, QE, and anything else.

THEN it was THE BIG problem.

Did we get rid of this system?

googleheim said...

We can tell the right wing ding bats that the government can stop "printing" U$D the day that Wall Street stops "printing" their W$J dollars - Wall Street Junk.

Like I said over and over - the implosion of CDO's poked a lot of holes in a lot of assets leaving the overall playing field lacking liquidity and true $$$.

The only thing that can come in and stabilize the soil is elastic currency operations to prevent bank runs and restore calm.

Waiting for creative destruction is like an admission that the process was OK in the first place and that we reward the behavior and acknowledge the cycle is OK.

But it is not OK.

Roger Erickson said...

Yes, the issues you mention are valid.

NO, those are not ALL the reasons that F500/NGO lobbies & Congress/POTUS failed to tend Main St as well as Wall St.

But yes, in the end, there really does remain an issue of trying to discuss multiple, inter-related issues one at a time.

We're both finding, the hard way, that when speaking simultaneously to diverse audiences, the only productive way forward is to slow down, and proceed at the same rate as the bulk of the audience is following.

Meanwhile, acknowledge those who already understand, and are bored by parts. Invite them to talk more directly, off-line, in private?

Roger Erickson said...

googleheim, let's talk further

please email me at rge (at) OperationsInstitute (dot)come