Sunday, June 13, 2021

Contra Inflation Myths & Monopoly Sidebar

Moldbug says inflation is about giving more money to rich people.
Naturally, this is not the case. (Envy inc.) Rather, those given Cantillon-privileged dollars become rich.

Inflation is about giving more money to politically-connected people, such as congresscritters or the folk running the Harvard endowment fund. This is mainly done using political favours, not inflation; they can accumulate wealth on below-inflation investments because they have various advantages, such as being exempt from taxes or regulations. E.g. Harvard can make a loan to Google which will pay back less than it's worth, after inflation, then immediately sell the bond at a premium to Fannie Mae or someone. Harvard and Google make money, Fannie Mae takes the haircut. The loan was nominally profitable to Harvard due to Harvard tax privileges, which is how this graft is legalized.*

Inflation benefits those with debts and those being paid recently-printed money. Again, the latter are politically connected. Inflation is neutral to purchasing power and previously-purchased objects. Indeed that's often why real estate is "hot" as it holds value (accumulates nominal price) against inflation.

The point of investing is exactly to make more-than-inflation returns. (P.S. perhaps this is why everyone hates deflation so much: there are many complications blocking accounting of real gains when prices are typically falling.) You can't hold regular dollars, or T-bills or bonds, because the dollar's value is always falling. A good investment, by contrast, takes all the money from competing, failed investments. Horse betting, except you're allowed to fully investigate the health and abilities of the horses.

Moldbug most likely has to take this "inflation for the rich" line because he's jealous of those with profitable investments. It is true you can live like an idle aristocrat on investment returns in modern times. Moldbug has to come out morally against this either because he tried and failed, or because he chose not to try. By contrast I could have bought BTC at 17 cents and didn't, yet I'm still pro-BTC and approve of anyone who holds substantial amounts of it. (Not a flex, I was just born that way. Got it for free.)

That said I think the net-worth measurement of inflation is a good one.  Half the US economy is inflation? Plausible. When you have the global reserve currency and invoke the Triffin dilemma, your inflation steals from the whole world. America as a whole is certainly Cantillon-privileged compared to say, Africa. Though, frankly, this is an idiot tax. Never allow a reserve currency into your country. Indeed, as previously, you want at least two internal currencies, not to deliberately join a currency bloc. Joining a currency bloc is utterly retarded. Pure brain damage - except for the central bank, and their friends, who are pushing the currency, of course. 

Though this also means Moldbug didn't calculate inflation across all dollars. It's not easy; you have to figure out the dollar-backed fraction of the net worth of everyone holding dollars, then find out their gross gain, then fraction out the not-dollar gain and the dollar-gain and also factor in any dollar purchases or sales... Bleh. Not impossible, but ridiculously expensive. Considering statistics are fake around 98% of the time, and you have to do this globally where statistics are accurate only by accident...

*SEC regulations are written based on equality before the law. Folk are not equal before the law, and anyone so unequal can quite legally scam the SEC regulations as long as the buyer is stupid or institutionally required to be stupid.
Do you know any three-letter agencies who are legally required to be stupid? Maybe one or two? 

P.P.S. Come to think, since investment is betting on horse races, a monopoly is the only time when investment is inherently unprofitable. If there's no competition then you can't eat the competition's lunch and the return on investment should always be below par. Investment return is proportional to disruption.
Except maybe [idiot tax]? The thing to do with an monopoly is not buy it. Americans seem extremely bad at not buying monopoly products, especially when there's a superior alternative to signal not-nerd by not-buying. Instead they let the monopoly's privilege eat away at productive companies, thus providing a nice investment return for folk who buy the monopoly instead of buying the monopoly's products. 

Note that Congress and the Fed have a monopoly on money-printing. It's supposed to be a duopoly, but they're all the same people so it doesn't matter. Cartel.

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