Also available at mises.ca
I don’t understand Stephen Poloz’s appointment
as the successor to Mark Carney. Nor do I understand why Mark Carney
was so popular to begin with. Are artificially low interest rates
policies supposed to help Canadians? Before he took off for England,
Mark Carney sat down for an interview with the CBC.
When asked about this absurd low interest policy, Carney responded that
the goal is to get people investing into more volatile investments
where there’s a higher return. I guess the idea is that the central bank
can create bigger returns on riskier investments and this creates
genuine wealth. I call it absurd because this policy targets
middle-class Canadians that wish to save and invest their money
responsibly, conservatively and constructively. The Bank of Canada –
under both Carney and Poloz – are, in effect, trying to centrally plan
economic growth. This didn’t work for Russia and it’s not going to work
The problem in a nutshell is low interest rates. Typically,
investments like savings accounts and government bonds are stable and
offer a solid return. By manually lowering these rates, the Bank of
Canada (as well as every other central bank in the Western world) are
deliberately shooing people away. When savings accounts don’t offer a
meaningful return, what’s the point of depositing one’s money into them?
Canadians are more apt to either spend their money, or invest it into
something that is offering stability and capital accumulation – such as
gold or silver. However if Canadians spend their money, according to the
central bankers and Keynesian economists, this will create economic
growth. Not spending 100% of one’s income is considered a “savings glut”
or “dead money.”
But this reasoning completely neglects the role savings and
investment have in the economy. Consumption isn’t the cause of economic
growth – it is a result. A stable, functioning economy requires some
people that restrict their consumption for savings or investing. This
necessary part of the economy allows for capital accumulation. Capital
are the goods which eventually produce the consumer product. Without
capital, there is no consumption. At least not the kind of consumption
central bankers are trying to create. Think of the computer or tablet
you’re reading this from. All the resources that went into building this
machine are from the planet Earth. Nothing has been created by magic or
sorcery. A complex order of capital goods went into making this product
that you are now enjoying. If everybody went out and their spent money
on tablets and computers and nobody invested in the production of more,
there’d soon be a shortage.
Stephen Poloz, Mark Carney, Ben Bernanke, Haruhiko Kuroda, Mario
Draghi, etc. don’t seem to understand this. They’re persistent in their
role as “economic growth” agitators. But what has been the result?
Central banks are now Politburos of central planning. They decide what
interest rates should be, what the money supply should be, the optimum
level of employment and consumer spending should be, etc., etc. Whereas
central banks used to take their cues from the market (i.e. allow the
market to set prices and only intervene to provide additional
liquidity), they are now the ultimate central planners of the economy.
By manipulating interest rates and other prices, they are subverting the
market order for the failed central planning of Communist states.
Whatever the short-term consequences of raising rates are, central
bankers would be smart to disregard them as the necessary restructuring
of the economy. If the market isn’t setting prices, then there is no
economy. There’s only the dictatorship of central bankers.