Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's a hard knock life ...

Debt exceeds GDP, inflation exceeds interest rates and the future is one of a fairly chunky correction. That's normal, that's what should be expected as we've been living beyond our means ever since debt controls were relaxed and the Government of that day starting flogging the silverware in order to provide tax breaks (Milton's Folly).

Some folks want us to reduce interest rates in order to encourage more spending and prop up this debt ridden economy. This should be no surprise as the alternative is a realisation that debt has to eventually be repaid and our over-pricing of assets, such as housing, doesn't actually create real wealth.

The logic of interest rate cuts is based upon an assumption that the current inflation levels are very short-term and that somehow growth in the future will overcome our debt issues. This is akin to the desperate poker player placing ever larger bets in the hope that their luck will change.

The rude awakening is that we need to manage inflation, increase interest rates & taxation as is necessary and be prepared to accept the likelihood of recession, repossessions and stringent Government cost control. Whilst we can't let the banking system fail, there is no reason why it shouldn't be in public ownership and we really need to stop propping up a failing private system.

Whilst the reckless behaviour of the financial sector is culpable for much of the failure, if you're looking for someone to blame then the chances are a mirror is a good bet. Many of us have been complicit in the consumer debt culture and the easy money of the housing boom; dropping interest rates isn't going to help us overcome our addiction.

When you're in a hole, the first thing you need to do is to stop digging.