Thursday, October 4, 2012

Clinton's Prosperity Was A Greenspan Bubble, Mr. Obama

Clinton's Prosperity Was The Tech Bubble, Mr. Obama
Early in this evening's presidential debate, Obama twice brought up the economic success of Bill Clinton's presidency. Let it be known that Clinton's 2nd term, the term to which people refer when they talk about "Bill Clinton's economy", took place during the period of time in which the "beneficial" effects of Alan Greenspan's first great liquidity pumping came to fruition. (Books have been written about this. I suggest Greenspan's Bubbles: The Age Of Ignorance At The Federal Reserve). While Democrat politicians love to point to Bill Clinton's economic record, the truth is that the prosperity we saw during Clinton's 2nd term can be largely attributed to Greenspan's Fed.

A nutshell economics lesson: Following the 1991 recession, Greenspan's Fed pushed down the Fed Funds Rate (the rate at which the Fed loans to banks) to near-historic lows and kept them there for the better part of the decade. The FFR had been lower before (as you can see in the following chart prior to 1965); however, Greenspan's Fed pumped fiat currency (more likely to pool in speculative markets) whereas Fed presidents prior to 1965 lent gold-backed currency (less likely to pool in speculative markets). As you can see from the red trendline on the chart, Greenspan's Fed Funds Rate was far below where the FFR had been for the majority of time after August 15, 1971, the date on which the dollar was decoupled from gold. The FFR during the 1990's wasn't as low as it was during the 2000's (those low rates helped lead us to this economic depression), but it was low enough to help inflate a then-historic speculative bubble (dot-coms and technology in general) and juice the economy, which highly benefited the legacy of one William Jefferson Clinton.

Another way of looking at Greenspan's first great liquidity pumping is to look at the sudden drop in the personal savings rate during the late 1990's. Nearly a decade of record-low post-gold-decoupling Fed Funds Rates lead to abnormally low savings rates, which enticed people to spend more money, much of it on the technology (and technology stocks) created by the speculative-driven tech market. The wealth effect of major market bubbles intensified this spending trend, which made the economy--and Bill Clinton--look good.

Clinton's Prosperity Was A Greenspan Bubble, Mr. Obama - charts 1 and 2

And how much did the tech speculation benefit the economy? During Clinton's 2nd term, the NASDAQ alone "created" nearly $2 trillion in new wealth and made tens of thousands of Americans instant millionaires. The trickle-down effect was immense, and millions of Americans were lifted out of poverty. (Clinton's 2nd term is a testament to the benefits of trickle-down economics.) Bill Clinton wasn't responsible for all that wealth creation. People throwing piles of fiat dollars at technology was.

Clinton's Prosperity Was A Greenspan Bubble, Mr. Obama - charts 3

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