December 23rd, 2011
In the mid 90s the American dollar hit its all time low against the Yen and so the US economy took off like a rocket
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Frustrating that there are people anywhere who argue about the obvious stimulus that comes from a weak dollar. If a strong currency leads to a strong economy, then why did China just spend $5 trillion dollars to keep its currency weak?
Matthew Yglesias finds John Cochrane ridiculing the notion that devaluation makes it easier to bring a country’s relative wages down, whereas the empirical evidence is overwhelming that devaluation does, in fact, do just that.
Now, Yglesias has some fun with Cochrane’s violation of the extended version of Godwin’s Law, which says that the first person to mention either Weimar or Zimbabwe in a discussion of current issues loses. But Matt’s main point is that there are very good reasons why changing relative currency values is a lot easier than changing the whole structure of nominal wages and prices:
Depreciation makes vacations in Spain cheap, it makes Spanish exports cheap, and it makes it attractive for rich foreigners to actually go buy up excess Spanish housing stock to use as vacation homes and such. Everyone’s taken a hit, but they’re back on the path to growth.
The other alternative — the road we’re actually traveling down — is one in which all of these adjustments need to happen piecemeal. To make the same adjustment happen, every single contract in the country needs to be piecemeal renegotiated. That’s every town budget, every cell phone plan, every commercial lease, every salary, etc. It’s not “impossible” but it’s a logistical and political nightmare. And it takes time. During that time instead of everyone working harder because they’re poorer and more indebted than they realized and need to raise their incomes what happens is that 10-20 percent of the population does nothing because they can’t find jobs.