Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Société Générale's Albert Edwards on Income Inequality and Serial Bubble Blowers (Nov. 23, 2011)

Following up on yesterday's "Société Générale's Albert Edwards: "Maybe It’s Time to Occupy the Federal Reserve" (Nov. 22. 2011)".

I have a suspicion the folks at Alphaville are fond of Albert.

One of the clues was their 2010 post, "Société Générale's Albert Edwards: We are all Japanese Now (July, 2010)" which began:

FT Alphaville Albert Edwards.

Here's the latest, the annotations are as good as the SocGen note:

Central bankers: pursued by a bear
That is US and UK central bankers pursued by über bear Albert Edwards of Société Générale.
Edwards is rather peeved that researchers at the Federal Reserve seem to have concluded that the Fed wasn’t responsible for the housing boom that has turned into the biggest bust since the 1930s. He would like to know if these are the same researchers who in 2005 that there was no housing bubble at all. But what he wants to know above all else is:
Were the US & UK central banks complicit in robbing the middle classes?
Before getting into the guts of his argument, here’s a bit of intro:
Ben Bernanke’s recent speech at the American Economic Association made me feel sick. Like Alan Greenspan, he is still in denial. The pigmies that populate the political and monetary elites prefer to genuflect to the court of public opinion in a pathetic attempt to deflect blame from their own gross and unforgivable incompetence.
The US and UK have seen a huge rise in inequality over the last two decades, as growth in national income has been diverted almost exclusively to the top income earners (see chart below). The middle classes have seen median real incomes stagnate over that period and, as a consequence, corporate margins and profits have boomed.
Some recent reading has got me thinking as to whether the US and UK central banks were actively complicit in an aggressive re-distributive policy benefiting the very rich. Indeed, it has been amazing how little political backlash there has been against the stagnation of ordinary people’s earnings in the US and UK. Did central banks, in creating housing bubbles, help distract middle class attention from this re-distributive policy by allowing them to keep consuming via equity extraction?
The above summed up in graphical format:

Here's the prior note that Mr. Edwards references:
Albert Edwards, Societe Generale: "Theft! Were the US & UK central banks complicit in robbing the middle classes?"