Inquiring minds are reading Hard-Hit Families Finally Start Saving, Aggravating Nation’s Economic Woes.

Here are some snips from the article, followed by a rebuttal.

Rick and Noreen Capp recently reduced their credit-card debt, opened a savings account and stopped taking their two children to restaurants. Jessica and Alan Muir have started buying children’s clothes at steep markdowns, splitting bulk-food purchases with other families and gathering their firewood instead of buying it for $200 a cord.

This same thriftiness, embraced by families across the U.S., is also a major reason the downturn may not soon end. Americans, fresh off a decades long buying spree, are finally saving more and spending less — just as the economy needs their dollars the most.

Usually, frugality is good for individuals and for the economy. Savings serve as a reservoir of capital that can be used to finance investment, which helps raise a nation’s standard of living. But in a recession, increased saving — or its flip side, decreased spending — can exacerbate the economy’s woes. It’s what economists call the “paradox of thrift.”

Paradox Of Thrift Yet Again

Kelley Evans at the Wall Street Journal is perpetuating the myth of the “Paradox of Thrift”. There is no paradox.

I rebutted the Paradox of Thrift thesis on October 21, 2008 in Keynesian Claptrap From PIMCO and again in Something For Nothing vs. Paradox of Deleveraging.

Here are a few snips from both.

Keynesian Claptrap From PIMCO

Simple Logic vs. Paradox of Thrift

Simple logic would dictate that excessive spending and loose lending standards caused this crash so excessive spending and loose lending standards cannot possibly cure it. Indeed it is axiomatic that the problem cannot be the solution. The concept is so simple that Keynesian demagogues cannot see it.

Is there a Keynesian on the planet who can think more than one second ahead?

Paulson and the Keynesian fools want banks to lend. For what? What is it we need more of? Houses? Condos? Pizza Huts? Home Depots? Lowes? Nail salons? Strip Malls? Walmarts? And if by some miracle banks did lend that money and new stores were built, who is there to buy? What would happen then? Is the amount of money that can be thrown at problem unlimited? What about the problems that will create? Can problems be postponed forever? Is there a Keynesian on the planet who can think more than one second ahead?

Something For Nothing vs. Paradox of Deleveraging

Attempts to prop up the stock market, housing prices, and to stimulate lending, etc., are all doomed to fail.

The simple truth is that Keynesian economic theory is based on the same failed something for nothing theory of perpetual motion. Attempts to get something for nothing are a complete waste of both time and resources and thus can only make matters worse.

Let’s look at this still another way. In Austrian economics terms, saving is what is left over (not consumed) from production.

Keynesian theory suggests you can have something today and tomorrow which is of course as preposterous as having your cake and eating it too. In simple terms one cannot consume what one does not produce, at least not forever.

Spending now will only borrow from future production. The United States has been doing that for decades and all we have to show for it is an exodus of manufacturing jobs from the United States to China, and a housing bubble of epic proportion.

There is no paradox. The United States has borrowed itself into oblivion. Consumers have finally seen the light and are attempting to save in spite of horrible economic policy encouraging them to do otherwise.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List