This is War

Exactly 20-years ago this month we got our first email address.  We were entering freshman year of college.  Along with a student identification card we received an email account.

The World Wide Web was a Wild West frontier at the time.  No one quite knew where it would take us.  Perhaps no one still knows its ultimate destination.

But one thing is abundantly clear.  Email has become a ball and chain that makes professional life practically unbearable.  Along with the advent of the smart phone there’s no escaping round the clock demands these days.

Indeed, like the first generation to have their lives interrupted by the advent of the clock, we’ve come to disdain email.  We recall the freedom of life prior to its existence…when there was a clear separation from being on the clock and being off the clock.  This, of course, is the downside of progress.

In retrospect, instant communication and connection comes with a price.  Namely one’s time, freedom, and privacy.  Sure you can always unplug.  But the pain of later plugging back in, and the slew of emails there to greet you, discourages disconnecting for very long in the first place.

The Best and the Brightest

Here at the Economic Prism we don’t resist the future…though we’re nostalgic of the past.  We step aboard tomorrow and go forward whether we like it or not.  Thus, other than tipping our hat to the 20-year milestone, we won’t lament email any further.

Instead we turn our sights to the amusing world of economics and the ridiculous realm of government conceit.  Many aspects of the economy are beyond the control of financial leaders.  That’s why we take keen interest marveling at their best efforts to bring prosperity to the world through edict.

Over the weekend, the best and the brightest from the Group of 20 (G20) nations gathered in Ankara, Turkey.  There, near the ruins of the Temple of Augustus and Rome, they exchanged pleasantries and munched on pilaf and Turkish delight.  The main purpose of their gathering was to figure a way to wring money from rocks.

No tangible method was outlined, as far as we can tell.  But there was unified agreement that monetary policy isn’t the force for economic growth as previously thought.  If it were, after nearly seven years of radical credit creation policies, we’d all be rich.

Instead, the world economy’s running ragged while going nowhere.  Wages have declined across the board.  While stocks, after a six year bull market run, have rolled over with exhaustion.  But not to worry, the G20 attendees are on the case…

This is War

“Financial leaders from the world’s 20 biggest economies agreed on Saturday to step up reform efforts to boost disappointingly slow growth, saying reliance on ultra-low interest rates would not be enough to accelerate economic expansion,” reported Reuters.

What exactly these reform efforts are isn’t obvious.  Artificially suppressing interest rates has been the primary undertaking over the last several years.  The G20 has finally admitted this has been ineffective.

So maybe the reform efforts include increased budget deficits.  Who knows?  The last we checked, world governments are already saturated in debt.  It doesn’t seem likely that borrowing money and spending it will provide the means for economies to, somehow, grow their way out of debt.  Here’s what the G20 did say they will do…

“We will carefully calibrate and clearly communicate our actions, especially against the backdrop of major monetary and other policy decisions, to minimize negative spillovers, mitigate uncertainty and promote transparency.”

In other words, each country’s financial minister will pretend to consider their actions within the context of the global economy.  But don’t fool yourself.  When push comes to shove they’ll do whatever they want whenever they want in the best interest of their country.

Thus prepare for more surprise currency devaluations and interest rate adjustments.  After all, this is war.

Sincerely,

MN Gordon
for Economic Prism

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