Friday, May 8, 2015

But Not TOO Good

[...] I thought that [Janet Yellen] was stating the obvious. I thought we knew for a while that the stock market has been feeding off this low interest rate policy, and that they were excited and rallied on the fact that this was a lukewarm jobs report, which means that [a] rate hike could be pushed out even further I think is evidence that, you know, there's some credibility into what Janet Yellen is saying.
Nela Richardson, "Marketplace" for Friday, May 8, 2015
When people grouse about the America economy, one of the complaints that comes up quite often is about "Capitalism," or, rather, what people understand Capitalism to be about. One can argue about whether or not people understand Capitalism or economics more broadly, but the actual problem can really be boiled down to a very simple issue: divergent incentives. The quote from Nela Richardson illustrates this. Investors liked the 223,000 new non-farm jobs for the month of April because it was good, especially compared to the 85,000 or so jobs created in March. But they also liked it because it wasn't great - the unemployment rate is still high enough that there's little upward pressure on wages, which would, in turn, boost inflation, and lead to the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates. And when money costs more, the profits from that money are lower.

And so you have tension in incentives. If too many people are able to find new jobs, the cheap money from the Federal Reserve goes away. So while investors want people to be working and generating income, they don't want the general public to be doing well enough that the returns from capital drop. It's no surprise that people distrust Capitalism.

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