Erdogan is Right about Monetary Policy

by Serban V.C. Enache

Last month, Turkey’s president fired the head of the country’s Central Bank, Murat Cetinkaya. “We told him several times to cut interest rates at meetings on the economy […] We said that if rates fall, inflation will fall. He didn’t do what was necessary.” His view on monetary policy was mocked by mainstream economists, who are either incompetent or just playing dumb. Sure enough, the CB did what Erdogan desired. That being said, Turkey’s key lending rate and interbank rate remain in the double digits. Meanwhile, private debt to GDP has stabilized at around 170 percent and the public’s desire now is to slowly unwind.

Here’s why Erdogan’s unorthodox view on monetary policy is correct. The CB’s lending rate is the cost of borrowing reserves; reserves are used by banks for accounting and settlement purposes. Banks DO NOT lend out reserves to their debtor customers. The ability of banks to approve loans is contingent on their capital and the actual demand for loans: the presence of credit-worthy customers willing to borrow money. Banks first approve the loans, and later acquire the reserves if they need them. So long as a bank meets the capital requirement, it can always borrow reserves [in case it’s short on reserves] from the interbank market [from banks with a surplus of reserves] or from the Central Bank itself. The lending rate is a cost on liquidity. During a period of deleveraging, which the Turkish private sector wants to do, it’s not wise to increase this cost. At the same time, higher interest on reserves and on Government bonds translates into larger financial flows into the economy through the CB & Treasury interest payments channel.

A counter-argument can be made that, with a lower lending rate, speculators could borrow Liras more easily and use them to buy foreign currency. This is a legitimate concern, however, since Turkish private sector debt has peaked, fewer economic agents have a good balance sheet to engage in such activities, and at the same time, given the overall situation, banks are more prudent now, since their equity positions are shaky. This particular concern wouldn’t exist if the country’s laws ensured asset side discipline for the banking sector. Contrary to conventional beliefs, you don’t discipline banks on the liability side, but on the asset side. A bank’s liabilities are stable in value, but its assets [loans made] oscillate in value. The riskier the loans, the riskier the spread between assets and liabilities, endangering the bank’s equity position. Erdogan’s desire to have the Central Bank lower rates is beneficial in two ways for the Turkish economy. First, it allows for a smoother deleveraging phase. Second, it minimizes the volume of funds entering the economy via the CB & Treasury interest payments channel, easing inflationary pressures.

Here’s what Erdogan’s Government should do with regard to asset side regulations. Banks shouldn’t have subsidiaries of any kind, since keeping assets off balance sheet doesn’t serve public purpose and it makes it harder in real terms for Government regulators to monitor them. Banks shouldn’t be allowed to accept financial assets as collateral for loans, because leverage serves no public purpose. Banks shouldn’t be allowed to lend off-shore [for foreign purposes]; bilateral agreements between states should cover that type of activity. Banks shouldn’t be allowed to engage in proprietary trading or any profit making venture beyond basic lending. Banks would issue loans based on credit analysis, not market valuation; they would not be allowed to mark their assets to market prices. Banks shouldn’t be allowed to buy or sell credit default insurance. Banks shouldn’t be allowed to contract in an interest rate set in a foreign country. Banks would only be allowed to lend directly to customers, service and keep those loans on their own balance sheet. No public purpose is served by selling assets to third parties. The interbank market should be abolished as well, since it serves absolutely no public purpose. The CB should lend directly to its member banks. The reserve requirement should also be removed, since banks can provision themselves with enough liquidity [from the State] by simply looking at the behavior of their customers. And under all these rules in place, limited Government deposit insurance can be upgraded to full insurance. Last but not least, in order to improve the ability of banks to manage risk and lower overall speculation, a principle from the Islamic banking model should be adopted. It works as follows – when a customer comes in to get a loan to acquire a piece of property [a house, an apartment, a vehicle etc], the bank buys that property and gives it to the customer for use, but the bank retains ownership over it, until the debt is squared. This provision serves another great purpose… it facilitates an easy transition from mainstream taxation to the Single Tax [Georgist] framework. With this rule in place, the responsibility for paying the land-value tax [LVT] falls upon the bank, not the debtor. The debtor makes the debt payments to the bank, and the bank uses those funds to pay the LVT.

Here are two examples:

Phasing in Land-Value Taxation. I bought land through a bank loan, and now the Government has eliminated the property tax and instead introduced a 10 percent LVT. I’m stuck with paying the LVT and the debt I owe to the bank, which is not fair. Therefore, the Government introduces the Islamic banking rule retroactively, and the ownership of the land goes to my creditor, who can’t kick me out, as long as I honor my debt payments. With this change in ownership, the bank accepts a loss of 10 percent [the LVT]. It’s much easier for Government to deal with financial firms in an orderly, institutional manner, than directly with every household faced with this double-burden. The State can temporarily relax capital requirements, should it be necessary in the transition from the antiquated, regressive and perverse tax code to the new, fair and efficient one. The boys and girls at the Bank of International Settlements will, of course, grimace at such a bold and informed move.

Full Land-Value Taxation is in place. Banks won’t be happy to accept land as collateral, given the fact land has a 100 percent tax liability on it. And those that do will have to hope for a near zero profit at best. So gaining access to land will be possible in most cases without any upfront cost. A citizen will simply pledge to pay LVT to the State, and he or she gets the respective plot.

Going back to the issue at hand… mainstream commentators can mock Erdogan as much as they want, but they’re the ones who are wrong about interest rates. The ‘natural’ interest rate on fiat money is zero! Anything below zero is a tax. Anything above zero is a subsidy. Those who claim that higher interest rates lower the volume of ‘malinvestment’ are arguing for a regressive and inefficient way to combat it. According to their logic, all pharmaceuticals should be sold at a premium, to make it more expensive for those seeking to buy the drugs for recreational use, instead of treating illnesses. Why should everyone pay more because a few abuse these products? Why should the cost of money be higher, just because some use it for speculation, rather than wealth creation? The correct logic is to distinguish between productive and unproductive economic activity. Encourage the former and discourage the latter. Higher interest rates across the board [levied irrespective of the type of economic activity] is as regressive as it gets and it hardly does anything to contain malinvestment. Those who blame the real estate bubble on low interest rates [so-called artificially low rates] are wholly missing the root cause: privatized land rents – landlords and money lenders appropriating the value of location [value which they did not create]. Without this phenomenon, asset price inflation wouldn’t occur. Under full land-value capture, property prices would be kept stable. If Erdogan wants to escape the looming recession and secure his power, instead of engaging in damage control, his Administration should push in the Georgist direction, even if that means completely pissing off the vested interests within and without Turkey.

The scam of Marginal Tax discourse

Don’t follow the herd…

by Serban V.C. Enache

Recently, a talk about the size of Marginal Tax rates has entered a part of public discourse. The claims are that higher taxation on the margin is morally acceptable, because people making more money than others pay more in taxes, and the body of citizens benefits from Public Services, which are thus ‘better funded’ in this situation. If you’re a regular reader of this website, you’re familiar with Chartalism, so I won’t bother to (again) debunk the orthodox myth of ‘tax more, so we can spend more’ in a context in which there’s plenty of idle land, labor, and factories to go around. I will instead focus on the fraudulent claims these politicians and leftist activists make regarding marginal tax rates in the USA and the so-called moral soundness behind them.

First of all, marginal tax rates ARE NOT effective tax rates. In the mid 1940’s, the effective tax rate for the Top 1% reached an all time high of 45% of income. Most of the fiscal drag, however, fell on the bottom 50%.

People claiming that the good times of post-WW2 were due to the 91% marginal tax rate are ignoring the geopolitical, financial, and economic climate of that period. Namely, Europe and Asia were left devastated by the war, and the USA’s production capabilities were unrivaled globally. In the 1950s, the effective tax rate on the Top 1% was about 42% of their income, albeit the marginal tax rate at the time was 91%. Today, the effective tax on the super rich is slightly lower than what it was in the 50s.

Statements from these leftist activists imply that the rich were somehow paying 91% of their income in the USA’s history. That implication is an outright lie, and the failure of these activists to make that clear is all the more proof of them pursuing an ideological agenda, facts be damned, not unlike their republican counter-parts. And as for the claim that higher marginal tax rates bring in more revenue for the Government [so it can fund more public services or fund existing ones better], that too is false. Since WW2, tax revenue in the USA, despite changes in taxation levels, has remained about 19.5% of GDP.

Now let’s address the moral claims of these leftist activists, useful idiots of the Establishment. The left and the right and center are taught by conventional wisdom to view moneys that people make only in terms of sums, figures. They never ask from what type of activities those moneys are obtained. If they bothered to ask this little question, they would see how utterly unjust and fallacious the former logic is. There’s a difference between earned income and unearned income. There’s a difference between a markup drawn up from actual competition vs a markup drawn up from cartelization. There’s a difference between making money from labor, from profit [enterprise], from rent [land and other natural monopolies / natural commons], and from usury. If we recognize the nature of these different economic activities, then we wouldn’t be taxing the former productive ones and allowing the latter parasitic activities to go untaxed and unhindered.

We would be taxing economic rents, we’d work to abolish patents, and we’d have a banking sector that loans at near zero markups for productive purposes (for businesses to expand output capacity, for people to fix up their homes, that sort of thing). We wouldn’t tolerate a banking system like we have today, with sky high markups, that gives out loans mainly for speculative purposes – predatory schemes that thrive off asset price inflation (rents of location), only to later on transform the populace into serfs and then having the Enlightened, Humanitarian, Bourgeois Intellectuals and Caviar Marxists sermonizing about the evils of populism, isolationism, and the need for decision making to be had at Trans-National level among the properly educated and wealthy few in the attempt to create another Tower of Babel in the satanic ambition that representatives of a degenerate offshoot of human culture shall become gods in heaven, not just on earth.

In truth, however, the rightists are regressive because they want to reduce taxes indiscriminately (trickle down economics), and from these efforts, the rent-seekers and usurers reap the highest gains. And the leftists are regressive because they want a higher tax burden, that, like previously shown, falls mainly on the working classes, and not at all on the super rich.

The income inequality issue gets most of public attention, especially in the mainstream media, precisely because it’s a debate from which both camps argue based on flawed assumptions. The issue gets turned into political soccer, devoid of any actual facts, devoid of any true emotion of righteousness – it all becomes an opportunity to proselytize, to signal virtue, to shame, and to feign outrage in the worst way imaginable.

In truth, however, mankind has been plagued by a more gargantuan and sinister specter throughout history: wealth inequality. One solely requires the curiosity to search and the wits to see this truth, as it rises from the antediluvian dirt beneath our feet. Land, the first factor of production. Land, nature-made, unlike capital. The site value, established by the labor and investments of the community (including the public authority), NOT by the idle classes, landlords and usurers. The working classes will reclaim the natural and social commons, or they will be content to live with the idea that the word “The People” only exists de jure on some scrawny piece of paper, and not at all in reality, past, present, or future.

Nowadays, the hope touted among so-called progressive circles is a false one: that these Democrats with some new adjective attached before that label are somehow the forces of radical change for good. As Nick Barrickman concisely states, their role is to fool youngsters (and in my opinion some old timers as well) to vote for the Democratic Party, to fool them into believing that this war-mongering, thieving, and undemocratic party can be reformed. Young people generally don’t vote, or if they do, they vote 3rd party or independent; so that’s a demographic segment coveted by the Establishment.

It’s always effective to present two options, one as evil, and one as the lesser evil to the public, and then have the audacity to claim ‘freedom of choice,’ ‘political pluralism,’ and ‘the will of the People, in accordance with the law, has spoken.’

In domestic affairs, what the Republicans and Democrats offer the American People is simple: Feudalism with borders and Feudalism without borders.

For further info on what the Government should and shouldn’t tax, see these videos.

Property Tax vs Site Value Tax

Site Value Taxation & Agriculture

Site Value Taxation and Buildings

Site Value Taxation & Public Infrastructure/ utilities

Oswald Mosley, a founder of MMT?

by Serban V.C. Enache

I will let the readers decide.

Here are Mosley’s Birmingham Proposals (1925, back when he was part of the Labour Party), quoted in his book, My Life (pp. 188-189); Black House Publishing Ltd. Kindle Edition. Continue reading “Oswald Mosley, a founder of MMT?”

The Sovereign Nation State

Political vs Cosmopolitical Economy

by Serban V.C. Enache

The Globalist View on Statehood

Globalist premise. Most products have developed a complex geography – with parts made in different countries and then assembled somewhere else (goods of trans-national origin). Markets when left alone will allocate resources optimally, thus leading to efficiency and low prices. This, of course, requires the free movement of capital, commodities, and labor. All barriers – like capital controls, trade unions, welfare programs, minimum wage laws, nationalized services etc – will distort prices and lead to malinvestment (waste). Continue reading “The Sovereign Nation State”