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Customer Review

on 26 August 2012
Ah, the wonderland of Austrian economics! Virtually the only advantage of this school of thought over the conventional neoclassical model is its recognition of the importance of debt in destabilizing capitalist economies (more Von Mieses than Hayek). It at least recognises that there is something like a business cycle...unlike the poor naive souls who think that all we need to do enter the kingdom of heaven is let the free market alone to magically find its equilibrium.
Here is something of a revelation to such folks; there is no such thing as a self-regulating equilibrium in the market (only disturbed by exogenous shocks and nasty state intervention)! This is a pseudo-science, like the Ptolemaic explanation of the solar system; and its advocates keep having to add the economic equivalent of more and more epicycles to their planetary orbits to make it seem to work!
Where I do agree with Schiff is on the seriousness of the debt mountain, private as well as public, but the Fed's involvement in creating bubbles (by continually reducing interest rates) is a symptom rather than a cause. The truth is that advanced capitalist economies NEED to generate debt in order to foster aggregate demand. Read Hyman Minsky, who really DID predict the crash (although he died well before it occurred) and avoid Hayek if you want to learn anything! So bubbles and crashes are ENDOGENOUS to capitalism. As Australian(not Austrian!)economist Steve Keen has pointed out, increased aggregate demand equals income + the rise in debt, which, along with the resulting chaotic non-equilibrium, he has virtually proved with the help of mathematicians at The University of Toronto's renowned Fields Institute. The Fed and other central banks have been steadily lowering interest rates (and making borrowing easier) from the peak of the late seventies due to the stagnation of wages and resulting limited purchasing power in the middle/working classes. Private credit has also been vastly expanded along with borrowing against inflated property prices in order to square the increasingly vicious circle. The moment of truth has arrived...interest rates cannot feasibly be lowered any more! So the only alternative is massive deleveraging = depression (forget inflation!) or an international debt jubilee. Schiff is at least right to recognise the seriousness of the situation we are in. Full credit to him for that...unlike most of our hapless politicians!
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