Was Rogoff in Wahrheit will – ein Verriss von James Grant

Heute Morgen habe ich bereits auf die wahren Motive der Verbotsdiskussion mit Blick auf das Bargeld verwiesen. Hier nun die fundierte Kritik von James Grant. Auf den Punkt, würde ich sagen:

  • “Terrorists traffic in cash, Mr. Rogoff observes. So do drug dealers and tax cheats. Good, compliant citizens rarely touch the $100 bills that constitute a sizable portion of the suspiciously immense volume of greenbacks outstanding—$4,200 per capita. Get rid of them is the author’s message.”
  • Then, again, one could legalize certain narcotics to discommode the drug dealers and adopt Steve Forbes’s flat tax to fill up the Treasury. Mr. Rogoff considers neither policy option. Government control is not only his preferred position. It is the only position that seems to cross his mind.
  • “In a deep recession, Mr. Rogoff proposes, the Fed ought not to stop cutting rates when it comes to zero. It should plunge right ahead, to minus 1%, minus 2%, minus 3% and so forth. At one negative rate or another, the theory goes, despoiled bank depositors will stop saving and start spending (…)  the spending will buttress “aggregate demand,” thus restore prosperity.”
  • “What would you do if your bank docked you, say, 3% a year for the privilege of holding your money? Why, you might convert your deposit into $100 bills, rent a safe deposit box and count yourself a shrewd investor. Hence the shooting war against currency.”
  • “To such deep thinkers as Mr. Rogoff, 0% is only a number, not a boundary. It ought not to constrain an enlightened central bank, which strives to set a negative inflation-adjusted interest rate when prices are drooping.”
  • “He assumes, first and foremost, that falling prices are a calamity. It is not such a calamity that many Americans don’t spend most of the weekend seeking them out. Still, the policy community wants nothing to do with them.”
  • “Negative rates? You rub your eyes and search your memory. You can recall no precedent. And if you consult the latest edition of A History of Interest Rates (2005) by Sidney Homer and Richard Sylla, you will find none. A recent check with Mr. Sylla confirms the impression. Today’s negative bond yields, he says, are the first in at least 5,000 years.
  • Present goods are, as a rule, worth more than future goods of like kind and number, posited the eminent 19th-century Austrian theorist Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk. He called this behavioral truism the core of his theory of interest.”
  • “Seen in this light, the rate of interest is either the cost of impetuousness or the reward to thrift. In the topsy-turvy world of Mr. Rogoff, negative rates would be the reward to impetuousness and the cost of thrift.”
  • “Never mind that, in post-crisis America, near 0% interest rates have failed to deliver the promised macroeconomic goods. Come the next crackup, Mr. Rogoff would double down — and down.
  • Interest rates are prices. They impart information. They tell a business person whether or not to undertake a certain capital investment. They measure financial risk. They translate the value of future cash flows into present-day dollars. Manipulate those prices — as central banks the world over compulsively do — and you distort information, therefore perception and judgment.”
  • “The ultra-low rates of recent years have distorted judgment in a bullish fashion. (…) They have rather facilitated financial investment. They have inflated projected cash flows and anesthesized perceptions of risk. In so doing, they have raised the present value of financial assets.”
  • “The trouble is that the Fed has become hostage to that very bull market. The higher that asset prices fly, the greater the risk of the kind of crash that impels new rounds of intervention, new cries for government spending, bigger deficits — more stimulus.
  • “The crisis of state and municipal pension finance is no longer looming but upon us. In a world of 2% long-dated Treasury yields, the pension managers operate under the fanciful assumption that they can, on average, generate annual returns in excess of 7.5%. Just how America’s income-starved savers and pensioners would receive the news of the adoption of negative interest rates could be a fruitful topic for Mr. Rogoff’s next book; it plays no part in this one.”
  • “As for the campaign for zero cash in the service of negative interest rates, Mr. Rogoff’s brief is best seen not as detached scientific analysis but as a kind of left-wing crotchet. Strip away the technical pretense and what you have is politics. The author wants the government to control your money. It’s as simple as that.”


THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: “Hostage to a Bull Market”, 9. September 2016