4/7/2021: Yahoo Finance today featured an article by Julia La Roche entitled ‘The fault line is inequality’: J.P. Morgan’s Dimon calls for fixing America’s ‘self-inflicted’ problems. La Roche was reviewing the Public Policy section of Dimon’s 67-page Chairman and CEO Letter to Shareholders. Mr. Dimon seeks to end the nation’s self-infliction of problems threatening the culture, the economy and the polity. He particularly regrets “false arguments of fanatics, the certitude of ideologues and cycles of intolerance.” Continue reading
The Wall Street Journal of 4/18/ 2019 had a column entitled “Easy Money, Bad Decisions” by James Grant reviewing Andrew H. Browning’s book, The Panic of 1819. Grant related how the government’s financing of excessive expansion with careless loans led to panic and crisis.
In the mid-70’s, economists were mystified by stagflation, the combination of stagnant production and rising prices. According to the Phillips Curve, the correlation of inflation with unemployment, stagflation should not happen. Economists could describe the phenomenon, but they could not explain it.
… the U.S. economy was experiencing the phenomenon of ‘stagflation’ – a clearly discernible overturning of the conventional economic wisdom about the tradeoff between inflation and unemployment so neatly expressed in the Phillips curve. So-called ‘Keynesian fine tuning onto the neoclassical track’ was not working; and forms of socialist planning only promised to deepen rather than resolve the anomalies of welfare economics. … (Lonergan) believed he had an explanation for what, in a statement from the essay we are editing, he described as a “situation – sometimes thought mysterious – in which consumer prices continuously inflate, new enterprise is evaded, unemployment becomes chronic, and despite inflation the value of stocks declines.” [CWL 15, Editors Introduction, xli] (Continue reading)
This section, Bernard Lonergan, Marx, and Liberty, is simply a gathering of excerpts from different sources. Careful reading should inspire the reader to consult the sources for the rich context of each excerpt and for a fuller appreciation of Lonergan’s understanding and reasoning about the need for liberty. In brief, Lonergan demonstrates that Marx’s economics is insufficiently abstract and is contaminated by descriptive sociological and political categories; he finds Marx’s summons to class conflict perilous to humanity because it promotes and enforces a drift away from liberty to a totalitarianism culminating in the dreadful conditions of a no-escape “frontier, clear and firm indoctrination, controlled media of information, a vigilant secret police, and the terrifying threat of labor camps,” – all in the name of a mythical macroeconomics. (Continue reading)
We have recited some aspects of the dynamic economic process:
- (Dummy) money “must be constant in exchange value.”
- Prices alone do not explain the economic process. Prices must be interpreted in the light of those significant variables which actually explain the economic process.
- The economic process of production and exchange always is the current, purely-dynamic process
- The economic process is an organic whole
- The process has an exigence for a normative pure cycle of expansion.
- Equilibrium requires the keeping of pace and balance among interdependent flows of products and money
- Scarcity is the normal cause of inflation
- Maladjustment of incomes is the maladaptive cause of inflation
- Just as the surplus phase of the expansion is anti-egalitarian in tendency, postulating an increasing rate of saving, … so the basic phase of the expansion is egalitarian in tendency; it postulates a continuously decreasing rate of saving [CWL 15, 139]
- The central adjustment to the respective phases of the process may be formulated as adjustment of I”/(I’ + I”), the ratio of surplus income to total income
- Interpreters of prices must distinguish between real and relative price increases monetary and absolute changes in prices We have recited some aspects of the dynamic economic process: (Continue reading)
One of our longer sections is of the same title: Practical Precepts for Free People – Consumers, Entrepreneurs, Bankers, Investors. The precepts are based upon the norms yielded by the immanent intelligibility of the objective economic process. The precepts are mandated by a non-political, scientific Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics.
We extract a few of the precepts, but we encourage the reader to click onto the fuller entry (underlined above) , which includes several passages providing the scientific, explanatory basis for the precepts: Continue reading
(CWL 15, 53-4) This section may be resumed by explaining the diagram of transfers between monetary functions. In figure 14.1 the reader will notice five circles representing the monetary functions: RD is the redistributive, O’ basic supply, O” surplus supply, I’ basic demand, and I” surplus demand. In a given interval the action from the redistributive function changes (positively or negatively) the quantities of money available in the other four functions by (S’ – s’O’), (D’ – s’I’), (S” – s”O”), (D” – s”I”), respectively. In the same interval basic supply makes basic initial payments O’, with c’O’ going to basic demand and i’O’ going to surplus demand. Similarly, surplus supply makes surplus initial payments O”, with c”O” going to basic demand and i”O” going to surplus demand. The circuit is completed with basic expenditure E’ going to basic supply, and surplus expenditure E” going to surplus supply. The other flows in the analysis are given by the equations beneath the diagram:
Free open markets work better than central bureaucracies.
The excellence of the exchange solution becomes even more evident when contrasted with the defects of a bureaucratic solution. The bureaucrat … (gives the people) what he thinks is good for them, and he gives it in the measure he finds possible or convenient; nor can he do other wise, for the brains of a bureaucrat are not equal to the task of thinking of everything; only the brains of all men together can even approximate to that. … when a limited liability company has served its day, it goes to bankruptcy court; but when bureaucrats take over power, they intend to stay. … when the pressure of terrorism is needed to oil the wheels of enterprise, then the immediate effect is either an explosion or else servile degeneracy. … the exchange solution is a dynamic equilibrium resting on the equilibria of markets. … every product of the exchange economy must mate through exchange with some other product, and the ratio in which the two mate is the exchange value. The generality of this equilibrium makes it indifferent to endless complexity and endless change; for it stands on a level above all particular products and all particular modes of production. While these multiply and vary indefinitely, the general equilibrium of the exchange process continues to answer with precision the complex question, Who, among millions of persons, does what, among millions of tasks, in return for which, among millions of rewards? Nor is the dynamic solution unaccompanied by a continuous stimulus to better efforts and more delicate ingenuity. For the uniformity of prices means that the least efficient of those actually producing will at least subsist, while every step above the minimum efficiency yields a proportionately greater return. (CWL 21, 34-35)
We ask all serious graduate students and professors of macroeconomics, government economists, conscientious politicians, poorly educated journalists, and financial-talk-show “pundits” to please read Bernard Lonergan’s Macroeconomic Dynamics, (CWL 15), Section 26, “The Cycle of Basic Income”. That section addresses several important economic issues:
- the adjustment of the rate of saving to the phases of the pure cycle of expansion in the economic process
- the complementary mechanism of changing prices
- the significance of a relative and an absolute rise or fall of monetary prices
- the difficulty with the theory of manipulating interest rates in that a) it lumps together a number of quite different things, and b) overlooks the order of magnitude of the fundamental problem
- the ineptitude of the procedure of manipulating interest rates.
Then, after the first reading, please read that section a second time.
[CWL 15] Lonergan, Bernard (1999), Macroeconomic Dynamics: An Essay in Circulation Analysis, ed. Frederick G. Lawrence, Patrick H. Byrne, and Charles Hefling, Jr., vol 15 of Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press)
In the Journal of Macrodynamic Analysis (14) [Brown et al., 2020], Bruce Anderson and Philip McShane invoked the metaphor of the ” titanothore” in their article “The More General and Difficult Fields of Specialization” (pp. 133-53).
A society cannot be like a titanothore, a beast with a three-ton body and a ten-ounce brain, for titanothore is extinct. Instead, a society must have a three-ton culture in which technology, economics, and politics are properly situated and properly coordinated. Continue reading