The economy is stuck on zero

Paul Krugman has been warning us of the dangers of this liquidity trap since March 17, 2008:

Here’s one way to think about the liquidity trap — a situation in which conventional monetary policy loses all traction. When short-term interest rates are close to zero, open-market operations in which the central bank prints money and buys government debt don’t do anything, because you’re just swapping one more or less zero-interest rate asset for another. Alternatively, you can say that there’s no incentive to lend out any increase in the monetary base, because the interest rate you get isn’t enough to make it worth bothering.

Normally it doesn’t matter which short-term interest rate you choose — the Fed funds rate, which Uncle Ben sets, is usually very close to the interest rates on US government debt. But right now we’re in a situation in which Treasury bills yield considerably less than the Fed funds rate; to at least some extent this may reflect banks’ nervousness about lending to each other, even in the overnight market. And to the extent that’s true, Treasuries — not Fed funds — are the interest rates to look at.

Economists call this a liquidity trap — liquid cash is trapped in the financial system and not finding its way into productive investments and spending in part because demand is so weak.


About James Crist

How do we stop America's decline? The country is in trouble and we can all feel it. Where did we go wrong? How do we fix it? We now have an auction-based government, for sale to the highest bidder. Politicians have become nothing more than corporate whores and pawns for the rich. If we want our representatives to represent us, let them get their campaign money from us, their constituents. We have to amend the constitution to get the big money out of politics.
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