As we surmised in our examination of the Krugman model and our subsequent examination of Richard Alford’s analysis, Washington engineered the housing bubble to cover up the pernicious effects of capital flight from the United States. This charge is now being explicitly circulated in the investor community:
Our US economists make the very interesting point (similar to Marc Faber) that peaks of income skewness – 1929 and 2007 – tell us there is something fundamentally unsustainable about excessively uneven income distribution. With a relatively low marginal propensity to consume among the rich, when they receive the vast bulk of income growth, as they have, then the country will face an under-consumption problem (see 9 September The Economic News ?- link. Marc Faber also cites John Hobson’s work on this same topic from the 1930s).
Hence, while governments preside over economic policies which make the very rich even richer, national consumption needs to be boosted in some way to avoid underconsumption ending in outright deflation. In addition, the middle classes also need to be thrown a sop to disguise the fact they are not benefiting at all from economic growth. This is where central banks have played their pernicious part.
I recalled seeing another article from John Plender on this topic back in April 2008. His explanation for why there had been so little backlash from the stagnation of ordinary people?s income at a time when the rich did so well was simple: ?”Rising asset prices, especially in the housing market, created a sense of increasing wealth regardless of income. Remortgaging homes over a long period of declining interest rates provided a convenient source of funds via equity withdrawal to finance increased consumption” – link.
Now you might argue central banks had no alternative in the face of under-consumption. Or you might conclude there was a deliberate, unspoken collusion among policymakers to rob the middle classes of their rightful share of income growth by throwing them illusionary spending power based on asset price inflation. We will never know.
But it is clear in my mind that ordinary working people would not have tolerated these extreme redistributive policies had not the UK and US central banks played their supporting role.