George Reisman

Excellent three part series of essays for the layman explaining inflation, deflation and the effect on the economy. Highly recommended reading for all but particularly for main stream economists and journalists.

Excerpt:

“On the basis of this confusion, they advocate government intervention to prevent prices from falling. The prices they want to prevent from falling are, variously, house prices, farm and other commodity prices, and, above all, wage rates. To the extent that such efforts are successful, and prices are prevented from falling, the effect is to prevent economic recovery. It prevents economic recovery by preventing the reduced level of spending that deflation represents, from buying the larger quantity of goods and services that it would be able to buy at lower prices and wage rates.”

http://georgereisman.com/blog/2009/01/falling-prices-are-antidote-to.html

More Excerpts:

Falling home prices are not in fact responsible for bank failures, any more than falling prices of aging automobiles are responsible for bank failures. The fact that homeowners may owe more on their homes than their homes are worth has no more fundamental connection with defaults on mortgage loans than the fact that many or most automobiles purchased with installment loans are worth less than the outstanding loan balances owed on them. Indeed, the mere act of driving a new car off the dealer’s lot is often sufficient to put its resale value below the value of the outstanding loan balance on the car.

What leads to defaults, whether on home loans or on automobile loans, is the inability or unwillingness of borrowers to honor their financial obligations, not the market value of the homes or cars.

Only decades of inflation and credit expansion could make it possible for people to think of the houses they occupy as an investment. In reality, a house is a consumers’ good, just like an automobile or a refrigerator. The only difference is that it depreciates more slowly than they do. Only a long string of years in which inflation took place more rapidly than houses depreciated enabled their prices to rise every year and people to come to regard them as a source of financial gain. If not for inflation and the rise in prices that it produces, it would be very clear that housing is a wasting asset, a slowly wasting asset to be sure, but a wasting asset nonetheless.

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