This isn’t mere speculation. Peter is basing these predictions on fundamental economic calculations. Central banks can stimulate the economy with easy money, but the boom can’t last forever. In an article published on the Mises Wire, economist Thorsten Polleit explains why the Federal Reserve-induced boom will eventually get exactly what’s coming to it.
The current boom is heavily built on credit. This is because in today’s fiat money regime central banks, in close cooperation with commercial banks, increase the quantity of money by extending loans – loans that are not backed by ‘real savings’. The artificial increase in the supply of credit pushes market interest rates downwards – that is, below the levels that would prevail had there been no artificial increase in bank credit supply.
If interest rates and returns hit rock bottom, people have little reason to save, and investors little incentive to invest. Consumption increases at the expense of savings, and capital consumption sets in. Existing capital will be used up and not replaced.
It might take a while for people to find out that a central bank monetary policy that pushes the interest rate to ever lower levels does not bring prosperity but is very damaging, even ruinous, for the future prosperity of the commonweal.
Once investors realize that the economy is losing its strength, elevated asset prices, previously driven up by an ultra-low interest rate, will come crashing down. In the case of stocks, for instance, profit expectations are scaled back, and a downward adjustment of stock prices sets in. Falling asset prices, in general, would hit hard consumers’ and corporates’ balance sheets. Their equity positions and credit standing deteriorate. Malinvestment comes to the surface, and the boom is finally turning into bust.
The lesson to learn is this: The monetary policy of ever lower interest rate is not the solution to problems caused by a low interest rate policy in the first place. In the short-term, it might look promising, but it is a way towards economic destruction.
The longer the boom is kept going by central banks’ ultra-low interest rate policy, the bigger will be the ensuing crisis – as the economists of the Austrian School of Economics have pointed out in great detail a long time ago. Murray N. Rothbard put it succinctly:
“It is only when bank credit expansion must finally stop or sharply slow down, either because the banks are getting shaky or because the public is getting restive at the continuing inflation, that retribution finally catches up with the boom. As soon as credit expansion stops, the piper must be paid, and the inevitable readjustments must liquidate the unsound over-investments of the boom and redirect the economy more toward consumer goods production. And, of course, the longer the boom is kept going, the greater the malinvestments that must be liquidated, and the more harrowing the readjustments that must be made.”*