Bernanke, Romney, and Obama Need to Understand This Economic Rule

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Bernanke, Romney, and Obama Need to Understand This Economic Rule

 

If I had one bit of advice to reach the ears of Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and Ben Bernanke, it would be this: stop the illusion that you have any significant control over the US economy.  Government is designed for justice, and does not do well when trying to promote prosperity.  At most, economically, the government can set ground rules that reduce the probability of fraud.

As it is, at present, the US still has an over-indebted economy, and as a result, will grow slowly, because businesses and individuals in danger of default do not spend freely.

Politicians claim that they can being prosperity, but they rarely do that.  I’m not talking about marginal tax rates, or monetary policy, which offer transitory relief, but changes in regulations.  The economy as a whole would do a lot better if marginal regulation were reduced.  That would be a help, but few politicians in either party want to reduce the power of the government.

Prosperity exists aside from the government.  Yes, in the short-run the government can tweak the economy to grow faster, but at the price of the situation we are now in, where nothing works.  Far better for the government to focus on things it can do well: defense, internal security, public health, etc.  But it does not do well with macroeconomic management, so it should give up on that, run balanced budgets, and replace the Fed with a currency board.

At that point, we would have predictable policy, and businessmen might be willing to take more risk and grow the economy.  Unsustainable policies cause producers and consumers to pull back.

At best, in economics governments set ground rules to reduce fraud.  Beyond that, governments reduce the flexibility of economies, and reduce growth.  Socialistic governments produce dependency cultures that inhibit work, initiative, and growth.

Do not look to the government for prosperity.  Governments are umpires; Umpires allow for good games, but they aren’t the ones playing the games and creating the excitement.  Governments can never make us prosperous; if government action were what made us well off, the Soviet Union would be dictating term s to the world today.

By David Merkel, CFA of Aleph Blog

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About the Author

David Merkel
David J. Merkel, CFA, FSA — 2010-present, I am working on setting up my own equity asset management shop, tentatively called Aleph Investments. It is possible that I might do a joint venture with someone else if we can do more together than separately. From 2008-2010, I was the Chief Economist and Director of Research of Finacorp Securities. I did a many things for Finacorp, mainly research and analysis on a wide variety of fixed income and equity securities, and trading strategies. Until 2007, I was a senior investment analyst at Hovde Capital, responsible for analysis and valuation of investment opportunities for the FIP funds, particularly of companies in the insurance industry. I also managed the internal profit sharing and charitable endowment monies of the firm. From 2003-2007, I was a leading commentator at the investment website RealMoney.com. Back in 2003, after several years of correspondence, James Cramer invited me to write for the site, and I wrote for RealMoney on equity and bond portfolio management, macroeconomics, derivatives, quantitative strategies, insurance issues, corporate governance, etc. My specialty is looking at the interlinkages in the markets in order to understand individual markets better. I no longer contribute to RealMoney; I scaled it back because my work duties have gotten larger, and I began this blog to develop a distinct voice with a wider distribution. After three-plus year of operation, I believe I have achieved that. Prior to joining Hovde in 2003, I managed corporate bonds for Dwight Asset Management. In 1998, I joined the Mount Washington Investment Group as the Mortgage Bond and Asset Liability manager after working with Provident Mutual, AIG and Pacific Standard Life. My background as a life actuary has given me a different perspective on investing. How do you earn money without taking undue risk? How do you convey ideas about investing while showing a proper level of uncertainty on the likelihood of success? How do the various markets fit together, telling us us a broader story than any single piece? These are the themes that I will deal with in this blog. I hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University. In my spare time, I take care of our eight children with my wonderful wife Ruth.

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