What We Read Today 21 March 2014

March 21st, 2014
in econ_news, syndication

Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary "reading list" which will include very brief summaries of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.

  • The other Social Security battle: the squeeze on customer service (Mark Miller, Reuters, MSN Money) Personal service has been cut back. For example the annual statements that used to be mailed were eliminated in 2011 in order to save $70 million a year. Only 6% of workers now are accessing their online statement which replaced the mailing. Almost every year (14 of the last 16) the Social Security Administration has received less than requested, partly as a consequence of opponents hoping to "starve the beast".

Follow up:

  • Rethinking the Monetization Taboo (Adair Turner, Project Syndicate) The former chair of the UK FSA(Financial Services Authority speaks out again on the use of debt-free money. He says that the only unwind possible for Japan is just that, which he terms "monetization" of debt. He quotes a Ben Bernanke recommendation to that effect in 2003. This is a repeated theme for Turner. See GEI News.
Anyone with an ounce of economic common sense will quickly realize Turner's scheme as just another mindless "print your way to prosperity" proposal.

Monetization of government debt is undoubtedly technically feasible (at least until it isn't) as Bernanke has shown. Yet it promotes a "free lunch" mindset that government debt simply does not matter.

A technicality here is that Bernanke has not monetized a dime. He has expanded the Fed balance sheet but the debt still exists to the penny. Turner is talking about something else:  Printing money to retire debt. That is something different. Of course, if you read Shedlock's post you will quickly conclude that he would consider true monetization as an even worse action than the large scale asset purchases that have occurred.

Today there are 10 articles discussed 'behind the wall'.

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