Lo scorso 7 agosto (sei giorni fa) abbiamo pubblicato il secondo Post di questa serie, e nella medesima data abbiamo anche pubblicato un altro Post, dedicato alla Cina ed alla "follia collettiva" che si manifesta negli interventi delle Autorità cinesi sulla Borsa (e da ultimo anche sul cambio). Questi due temi li abbiamo ritrovati, uniti in un unico intervento, in un articolo pubblicato tre giorni fa dal Wall Street Journal. L'articolo ha per titolo The World-Wide Undermining of Free Markets e per sottotitolo China’s interference in its stock markets reflects a global trend of states trying to govern economic activity. L'articolo è stato scritto da Romain Hatchuel, managing partner della Società Square Advisors, un uomo del mercato, ed è molto efficace: per questo, riteniamo di fare una cosa utile per tutti i nostri lettori riportandone una parte. Aiuterà a capire che i commenti zuccherosi su "SuperMario" e in generale sulle Banche Centrali sono ormai un fenomeno provinciale, mentre il mondo ormai è passato oltre.
In a normal market economy, prices of goods, services and assets are determined freely by supply and demand. For every seller, there has to be a buyer, and the direction prices move usually depends on whether sellers outnumber buyers, or vice versa. But monetary policies and government action can disrupt the buyer-seller relationship in a number of ways.
One way is by expanding the base of eligible consumers by providing ultracheap credit. A central bank cuts its main interest rate to an abnormally low level, and the number of potential buyers of homes, cars, smartphones and other products starts to rise.
Since 2008 the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, the People’s Bank of China, the Bank of Japan and the Bank of England have all cut their interest rates drastically. While these lower rates have supported consumption, they have primarily benefited financial assets, which have rallied for six years with only rare corrections.
The second way governments and central banks can alter normal supply and demand dynamics is by becoming buyers themselves. And many of them have been on a frantic shopping spree these past seven years. Governments increased public spending through fiscal stimulus plans, while central banks implemented aggressive quantitative-easing programs, which translated into colossal purchases of financial assets. Since 2008 the combined balance sheets of the world’s five leading central banks have increased by a staggering $9 trillion.
Unprecedented monetary easing, high public spending, repressive regulation and automatic debt forgiveness, while arguably useful in the midst of a severe crisis, cannot be sustainable remedies in the long term—that is unless one believes the world should do away with free-market principles altogether. Those who continue to advocate such measures, more than seven years after the global financial crisis blew up, should at least admit that what they really want is a profound and permanent change in the system.
Maybe they know something I don’t, but it is fair to ask whether these extreme interventionist policies have become part of the problem rather than the solution, and if we shouldn’t instead revert to what remains the most successful economic system ever tried—the free market.