Saturday, July 9, 2011

The 'Substantial Benefits' of Inflation

At NYT, Tyler Cowen reviews the current Greek financial crisis and touches most of the bases, but the sentence that caught my eye was this one:
If it left the euro zone, Greece could reap the substantial benefits of a currency depreciation, but doing so would also set off huge runs on banks.
Let's take the second half of the sentence first, since Greece would have its own currency they could stave off a run on banks by simply printing up any number of drachma necessary to prevent a bank run.  "Huge bank runs" simply contradicts the first half of Cowen's assertion that there are substantial benefits to currency depreciation. If currency depreciation is so great, then you stave off  "huge bank runs" by printing, i.e. depreciating, more currency.

As for the first part of the sentence and the supposed "substantial benefits" of currency depreciation, currency depreciation is generally an advantage to the power elite. Sine they will have the power to see to it that they get their hands on a good chunk of money printed before anyone else does. It is a vicious silent tax for everyone else that wreaks havoc with an economy.

I have more than once discussed the possibility of Greece leaving the eurozone and returning to the drachma. I have never however discussed any accompanying Greek money printing with the modifier "substantial benefits".  You have to be quite an elitist to hold that view.

BTW, the non-elitist view, which is not developed by Cowen, would be for the Greek government to default, across the board. Thus, stiffing the banksters and other elitists that hold Greek government paper. At the same time, the Greeks could return to a sound drachma, i.e. a fixed money supply that by law could never be increased, add in a free market and an end to Greek government subsidies of businesses and people, and you would end up with the Miracle of Greece no "benefits" from currency depreciation required.


  1. Cowen: There is such a thing as free lunch, and it can be had with depreciated currency.

    What a clown. Go skim read a few hundred more books, spare us your economic analysis, Liar Clownen.

  2. From the perspective of the average joe who just watched his savings shrink to nothing, it doesn't look as good.