November 25, 2008

IT’S ALL DIFFERENT NOW. Isn’t that what they always say in the middle of a bubble?

The trillions of dollars in public funds U.S. officials are putting on the line to stabilize financial markets and protect the economy from a deep recession would, in normal times, inspire fear of soaring inflation and a tumbling dollar.

But these are not normal times.

Could we be in the midst of a “bailout bubble?” And if so, what happens when it bursts?

UPDATE: A cheerful reader emails:

There are three scenarios for what comes after the bailout spasm:

The gold bugs predict hyperinflation and the collapse of paper monies around the world.

The Keynesians predict a rerun of the pre-New Deal depression.

Libertarians predict the further emergence of a corporatist fascist state in the mold of continental Europe circa 1936.

The reported panic gun buying and gold coin shortages tell us the US public fears centrally planned evil of some kind.

Happy Holidays!

Oh, goody. Well, usually people’s fears turn out to be exaggerated. Let’s hope this is one of those times.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Lou Minatti offers a sort-of cheerful analysis:

One thing to keep in mind about all of those dollars being created out of thin air by the Fed: This volume of this new “money” pales in comparison to the amount of wealth that has been destroyed over the past year, particularly since this past summer. There are fewer dollars chasing after goods, hence we are seeing deflation. Housing, energy, commodities… it’s all declining as wealth is evaporating. Things that don’t decline in price, like health care and education are heavily supported/subsidized/controlled by various governments. But these too will eventually be hit by deflation.

It’s no coincidence Bernanke, a student of the Great Depression, was brought in. The White House knew what was in store two years down the road. Bernanke will continue to flood the market with liquidity as dollars evaporate in time bombs such as hedge funds.

Cheerful, at least, in that it suggests that those in charge know what they’re doing . . . .

Meanwhile, reader Ric Locke emails:

I somewhat resent the characterization of the current wave of gun buying as “panic”. Prices are going up, yes, but everything’s quite orderly, calm, and reasoned.

We know for sure they’re going to foul it up, and use the situation as a justification to aggrandize themselves and enrich their cronies. Being able to fight back might not help, but it won’t hurt.

Yes, an armed populace raises the cost of some stupid government actions.

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