As many of you know we spend a great deal of time researching various aspects of modern economics. There are very few people who have a firm grasp on the new economy, and even fewer still who can translate the recent economic structure into current economic predictions.
Professor Mark Blyth is one of the very select few people who grasp the full concept of two economies, Wall Street (fiscal economy) and Main Street (working class, traditional). A few weeks ago Blyth appeared on Tucker Carlson to discuss his thoughts.
Professor Blyth is well worth listening to because while he uses different terminology, he is essentially describing the exact conditions we have been discussing here for the last several years. He gets it, and we believe he’s correct.
Blyth describes political economics as an outcome of a decades shift from valuing wages (traditional main street production value) to valuing/emphasizing pricing (Wall street) etc. What he outlines is exactly what we have described in the New Economic Dimension.
Traditional economic principles have revolved around the Macro and Micro with interventionist influences driven by GDP (Gross Domestic Product, or total economic output), interest rates, inflation rates and federally controlled monetary policy designed to steer the broad economic outcomes.
Additionally, in large measure, the various data points which underline Macro principles are two dimensional. As the X-Axis goes thus, the Y-Axis responds accordingly… and so it goes…. and so it has historically gone.
Traditional monetary policy has centered upon a belief of cause and effect: (ex.1) If inflation grows, it can be reduced by rising interest rates. Or, (ex.2) as GDP shrinks, it too can be affected by decreases in interest rates to stimulate investment/production etc.
However, against the backdrop of economic Globalism -vs- economic Americanism, CTH is noting the two dimensional economic approach is no longer a relevant model.
There is another economic dimension, a third dimension. An undiscovered depth or distance between the “X” and the “Y”. It is within this distance you find he disconnect. It is also within this distance you find the political reactions which Blyth accurately points out leads to Brexit, the election of Trump and the pending outcome in France.
I believe it is critical to understand this new dimension, the space between, in order to understand President Trump economic principles, and the subsequent “America-First” economy he’s building to fill that gap.
As the distance between the X and Y increases over time, the affect detaches – slowly and almost invisibly. I believe understanding this hidden distance perspective will reconcile many of the current economic contractions. I also predict this third dimension will soon be discovered and will be extremely consequential in understanding outcomes within the coming decade.
Professor Blyth explains the uncoupling of Wages (Main Street) due to a focus on Pricing (Wall Street globalization/manufacturing) etc.
To understand the basic theory behind the new dimension in economics, allow me to introduce a visual image to assist comprehension. Think about the two economies, Wall Street (paper or false economy) and Main Street (real or traditional economy) as two parallel roads or tracks.
Think of Wall Street as one train engine and Main Street as another. The movement of the engines occurs over time. Distance in this metaphor is time.
The Metaphor – Several decades ago, 1980-ish, our two economic engines started out in South Florida with the Wall Street economy on I-95 the East Coast, and the Main Street economy on I-75 the West Coast. The distance between them less than 100 miles.
As each economy heads North, over time the distance between them grows. As they cross the Florida State line Wall Street’s engine (I-95) is now 200 miles from Main Street’s engine (traveling I-75).
As we have discussed – the legislative outcomes, along with the monetary policy therein, follows the economic engine carrying the greatest political influence. Our historic result is monetary policy followed the Wall Street engine.
Investments, and the bets therein, needed to expand outside of the USA. hence, globalist investing.
However, a second more consequential aspect happened simultaneously. The politicians became more valuable to the Wall Street team than the Main Street team; and Wall Street had deeper pockets because their economy was now larger.
As a consequence Wall Street started funding political candidates and asking for legislation that benefited their interests.
When Main Street was purchasing the legislative influence the outcomes were beneficial to Main Street, and by direct attachment those outcomes also benefited the average American inside the real economy.
When Wall Street began purchasing the legislative influence, the outcomes therein became beneficial to Wall Street. Those benefits are detached from improving the livelihoods of main street Americans because the benefits are “global” needs. Global financial interests, investment interests, are now the primary filter through which the DC legislative outcomes are considered.
There is a natural disconnect. (more)
Here is an example of the resulting impact as felt by consumers:
♦ TWO ECONOMIES – Time continues to pass as each economy heads North.
Economic Globalism expands. Wall Street’s false (paper) economy becomes the far greater economy. Federal fiscal policy follows and fuels the larger economy. In turn the Wall Street benefactors pay back the politicians.
Economic Nationalism shrinks. Main Street’s real (traditional) economy shrinks. Domestic manufacturing drops. Jobs are off-shored. Main Street companies try to offset the shrinking economy with increased productivity (the fuel). Wages stagnate.
Now it’s 1990 – The Wall Street economic engine (traveling I-95) reaches Northern North Carolina. However, it’s now 500 miles away from Main Street’s engine (traveling I-75). The Appalachian range is the geographic wedge creating the natural divide (a metaphor for ‘trickle down’).
By the time the decade of 2000 arrives – Wall Street’s well fueled engine, and the accompanying DC legislative attention, influence and monetary policy, has reached Philadelphia.
However, Main Street’s engine is in Ohio (they’re now 700 miles apart) and almost out of fuel; there simply is no more productivity to squeeze.
From that moment in time, and from that geographic location, all forward travel is now only going to push the two economies further apart. I-95 now heads North East, and I-75 heads due North through Michigan. The distance between these engines is going to grow much more significantly now with each passing mile/month….
However, and this is a key reference point, if you are judging their advancing progress from a globalist vessel (filled with traditional academic economists) in the mid-Atlantic, both economies (both engines) would seem to be essentially in the same place based on their latitude.
From a two-dimensional linear perspective you cannot tell the distance between them.
It is within this distance between the two economies, which grew over time, where a new economic dimension has been created and is not getting attention. It is critical to understand the detachment.
Within this three dimensional detachment you understand why Near-Zero interest rates no longer drive an expansion of the GDP. The Main Street economic engine is just too far away to gain any substantive benefit.
Despite their domestic origin in NY/DC, traditional fiscal policies (over time) have focused exclusively on the Wall Street, Globalist economy. The Wall Street Economic engine was simply seen as the only economy that would survive. The Main Street engine was viewed by DC, and those who assemble the legislative priorities therein, as a dying engine, lacking fuel, and destined to be service driven only….
Within the new 3rd economic dimension, the distance between Wall Street and Main Street economic engines, you will find the data to reconcile years of odd economic detachment.
Here’s where it gets really interesting. Understanding the distance between the real Main Street economic engine and the false Wall Street economic engine will help all of us to understand the scope of an upcoming economic lag; which, rather remarkably I would add, is a very interesting dynamic.
Think about these engines doing a turn about and beginning a rapid reverse. GDP can, and in my opinion, will, expand quickly. However, any interest rate hikes (fiscal policy) intended to cool down that expansion -fearful of inflation- will take a long time to traverse the divide.
Additionally, inflation on durable goods will be insignificant – even as international trade agreements are renegotiated. Why? Simply because the originating nations of those products are going to go through the same type of economic detachment described above.
Those global manufacturing economies will first respond to any increases in export costs (tariffs etc.), by driving their own productivity higher as an initial offset, in the same manner American workers went through in the past two decades. The manufacturing enterprise and the financial sector remain focused on the pricing.
♦ Inflation on imported durable goods sold in America, while necessary, will ultimately be minimal during this initial period; and expand more significantly as time progresses and off-shored manufacturing finds less and less ways to be productive. Over time, durable good prices will increase – but it will come much later.
♦ Inflation on domestic consumable goods ‘may‘ indeed rise at a faster pace. However, it can be expected that U.S. wage rates will respond faster, naturally faster, than any fiscal policy because inflation on fast-turn consumable goods becomes once again re-coupled to the ability of wage rates to afford them.
The fiscal policy impact lag, caused by the distance between federal fiscal action and the domestic Main Street economy, will now work in our favor. That is, in favor of the middle-class.
Within the aforementioned distance between “X” and “Y”, a result of three decades traveled by two divergent economic engines, is our new economic dimension….
“We support reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 which prohibits commercial banks from engaging in high-risk investment,” said the platform released by the Republican National Committee. (link)