Krugman's latest morality play, however, even outdoes himself, and at the same time, he unwittingly presents the "road map" he believes that governments should use when they get into financial trouble. It is hard for me to believe that America's supposed "best" economist is recommending a scheme in which he both calls for governments simply buy their own bonds with their own newly-printed money, and declares that anyone who might oppose such financial trickery as being immoral, but there it is.
Here’s how such a run works: Investors, for whatever reason, fear that a country will default on its debt. This makes them unwilling to buy the country’s bonds, or at least not unless offered a very high interest rate. And the fact that the country must roll its debt over at high interest rates worsens its fiscal prospects, making default more likely, so that the crisis of confidence becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And as it does, it becomes a banking crisis as well, since a country’s banks are normally heavily invested in government debt.Before tackling what really is a mind-boggling proposition, let me say that "for whatever reason" is really not economic analysis. Instead, it is Krugman once again demonstrating that he does not understand what Carl Menger called the Law of Cause and Effect.
Now, a country with its own currency, like Britain, can short-circuit this process: if necessary, the Bank of England can step in to buy government debt with newly created money. This might lead to inflation (although even that is doubtful when the economy is depressed), but inflation poses a much smaller threat to investors than outright default.
You see, there is no real reason for this sudden unwillingness for investors to purchase government bonds except for maybe changes in "animal spirits" or maybe just whatever. It is like his "under consumption" theme that under girds his theme in which there is no real cause for this sudden change of mass consumer preferences for buying anything. Blame it on "whatever."
As for the bond-buying scheme, apparently it never occurs to Krugman that once a government resorts to this kind of financial trickery -- and no other term will suffice -- that it is sending the message to investors that its bonds essentially are worthless. I simply cannot see how a contrivance would lead to anything but disaster.
If a government were to do what Krugman recommends, then there would be no constraint at all in its spending, as politicians would claim that it had "free money." Why worry about taxes? Investor confidence? We don't need no stinkin' CONFIDENCE FAIRY! Just print the money and spend!
By the way, this is exactly how Zimbabwe financed its government and it brought ruinous inflation. Yet, Krugman not only recommends this nefarious financing as a "solution," but he also has the gall to claim that anyone who might oppose it is a "moralizer," as though there were something wrong with pointing out that when governments engage in this kind of madness, they also destroy the wealth of every citizen who uses that government's currency.
Since a number of European countries are using the euro, Krugman claims that the European central bank should be printing more euros to buy the debt of countries like Spain and Italy (and I am sure he believes likewise for Greece). Here he is in his own words:
What Mr. (Jean-Claude Trichet) Trichet (the president of the European Central Bank or E.C.B.) and his colleagues should be doing right now is buying up Spanish and Italian debt — that is, doing what these countries would be doing for themselves if they still had their own currencies. In fact, the E.C.B. started doing just that a few weeks ago, and produced a temporary respite for those nations. But the E.C.B. immediately found itself under severe pressure from the moralizers, who hate the idea of letting countries off the hook for their alleged fiscal sins. And the perception that the moralizers will block any further rescue actions has set off a renewed market panic.Notice that anyone who might point out that this "pull-the-rabbit-out-of-the-hat" finance sows its own seeds for disaster is nothing but a "moralizer" who apparently is bent on inflicting pain on others for no good reason. It doesn't take training in economics for someone to see where such a scheme would lead -- and I have no doubt that government employee unions would demand such a "fix" in order to prop up their own bloated trickery -- but from what I have read of Krugman, he seems to think that these unions really are creating wealth.
At least we see Krugman's road map for the USA: Have the Fed directly purchase short-term U.S. bonds. For now, such a scheme would be illegal, given that the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 expressly forbids exactly what Krugman has proposed for other countries to do. (No doubt, the people who wrote the original act were "moralizers," too.)
As I said before, it does not take training in economics to see where such actions would lead. However, if one has "economics" training from a lofty U.S. university, then one apparently is free to discard all laws of economics -- and all rules of common sense.