Europe is not growing much because most of its economies have been crushed under a mountain of debt, taxes, welfarism and statist dirigisme. Yet somehow the foolish pettifogger running the ECB thinks that driving the cost of money to the ‘lower bound’ (i.e. zero) will help overcome these insuperable – and government made – barriers to prosperity.
Yet in today’s financialized economies, zero cost money has but one use: It gifts speculators with free COGS (cost of goods sold) on their carry trades. Indeed, today’s 10 basis point cut by the ECB is in itself screaming proof that central bankers are lost in a Keynesian dead-end.
You see, Mario, no Frenchman worried about his job is going to buy a new car on credit just because his loan cost drops by a trivial $2 per month, nor will a rounding error improvement in business loan rates cause Italian companies parched for customers to stock up on more inventory or machines. In fact, at the zero bound the only place that today’s rate cut is meaningful is on the London hedge fund’s spread on German bunds yielding 97 bps – -which are now presumably fundable on repo at 10 bps less.
This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on September 4, 2014.