How The Economic Machine Works (2013)

While the video begins with a disclaimer that there are disagreements, it seems to suggest that these disagreements are needless because the simple explanation presented is so obviously correct.

It isn't.

My first complaint is the artificial distinction between credit and money and a central bank's ability to 'print money'. All banks, central and otherwise, create brand-spaking-new money whenever they expand their balance sheets. Here is an explanation:

When a bank issues a loan it creates, whole-cloth, money to go along with the debt obligation. This money is given to the borrower who spends it with the expectation of earning it back in the future. When the borrower makes payments, the amount used to pay down principle is destroyed just as it was created while the rest is used by the bank to pay its employees, owners, etc. as well as annihilating it when it pays off bad debt. Banks are regulated by their central bank which effectively puts a price on the size of their balance sheets making them limited in size. This is done by requiring that banks recapture the money they just created or borrowing from a bank which has extra cash, which might be the central bank as a last resort. Central banks simply have a different set of regulations on how they grow their balance sheet which gives them a lot of power to control the amount of debt, and thus money, which is created.

If we understand money in this way, we come to my next big complaint, which is the video's emphasis on borrowers as the primary driver of debt cycles. As lending occurs, money gets created, and some people end up with piles more of it than they will spend for their own living and this turns into investment money. Investment money is intended to grow in size and if it didn't regularly do so, it would soon lose support, so the pooling of money increases itself.

As debts come due, people find that there is less and less money being spent, but the price of debt is low, since there is all of this cheap investment money flowing around. The pooling of money as investments prevents more and more people from being able to repay their debts without a creditworthy person getting new debt and spending it without an expectation of future repayment. This can't go on forever, and we get a correction.

The problem with these corrections is that it increases the pooling problem. When a debt is defaulted on, collateral transfers from borrowers to lenders, who are ultimately the wealthy people with investment money. Investors lose a lot of paper wealth and replace it with material wealth, of particular note the ownership of homes and factories which will increase the pooling of money in the next cycle.

This is why you have longer debt cycles, a system which produces sustained, growing inequality interferes with the ability for borrowers to recapture the money they spent under normal transactionary terms and each small cycle fuels the underlying ownership problem.

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