Dear Web Journal,
Here are 10 things that I need to remember:
- The stock market is not the economy. Just because a whole generation has grown up following rising stock quotes, it does not mean they are good indications of copper output or computer sales.
- Financial services are not creators of economic activity. Just because people can get yet another 0% introductory APR credit card, or a 0%-down mortgage with negative amortization for 12 months, that does not mean the economy is expanding.
- Central bankers are not magicians. No matter what they say or do, they cannot create jobs, income or wealth. All they can do is raise or lower short-term interest rates; sometimes they can't even do that (just ask BOJ).
- Foreign central banks are not perennial lenders of last resort to OCC (Other Countries' Consumers). They cease to be when it's not to their own countries' benefit (just ask BOJ and PBOC).
- Tax cuts are like rat poison: judiciously applied they get rid of excess government meddling in the economy. Overdoses, however, end up killing the future.
- Globalization is also like rat poison: judiciously applied it gets rid of lumbering, inefficient producers. Overdoses, however, end up killing domestic middle classes.
- Shopping is not equivalent to producing. Just because GDP figures are still calculated using decades-old methodology (when most "things" were still made locally), it does not mean that the national economy benefits from frequent trips to the MartMall.
- Credit Default Swaps are not equivalent to bonds. They are not even counterfeit bonds. They are simply naked puts on someone else's credit.
- Always ask for more return for assuming higher risk. Just because I'm a fool, it doesn't mean my neighbor is one, too.
- Excess always corrects and frequently begets the opposite excess.