"There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen." Frederic Bastiat
Comentario en SMP sobre qué tan compatible es el Efecto Cantillon con la neutralidad del dinero.
Money neutrality is a key principle in monetary economics. As might seem obvious, the amount of goods that can be produced depends on the availability of factors of production (such as capital and labor) and on technological knowledge. For instance, the fact that more dollars are in circulation does not mean we can produce more tables and chairs. But if we have better technology, more labor, or more wood, then we can produce more tables and chairs.
On the other hand, Cantillon Effects are equally plausible. The Cantillon Effect refers to the change in relative prices resulting from a change in money supply. The change in relative prices occurs because the change in money supply has a specific injection point and therefore a specific flow path through the economy. The first recipient of the new supply of money is in the convenient position of being able to spend extra dollars before prices have increased. But whoever is last in line receives his share of new dollars after prices have increased. This is why when the Treasury’s deficit is monetized, inflation is referred to as a non-legislated tax. In these cases, the government has seized purchasing power (rather than physical bills) from its citizens without congressional approval.
The intense (heated?) debate around the Cantillon Effects after an injection of money has produced a new post by Scott Sumner. Scott Sumner argues that it doesn’t matter where money in injected first because all possible injection points produce the same initial result; buying T-Bonds. I don’t think that Sumner is wrong on this, I do think, however, that this is just a first step of analysis and that Cantillon Effects depend on what happens after the money gets into the market through the exchange of T Bonds.
First things first. Sumner is not saying that there are no effects at all. When discussing the first myth, he acknowledges that the bond seller earns a commission when selling T Bonds. He thinks, however, that the amount of this benefit is trivial at a macroeconomic level. As I said on my previous post, it is different to say that there are no Cantillon Effects than to to say that the empirical relevance is considered to be trivial. Are all these trivial effects summed together still trivial? Could there be a mechanism such that this benefit is not trivial anymore? Is it the decision to bail-out or to not bail-out Lehman Brothers trivial? Even if the Lehman Brothers example falls outside Sumner’s scenario, it does exemplify a non-trivial effect on the first steps of a policy that buys assets from a financial institution.
At The Money Illusion a long and interesting discussion is still taking place around a post by Scott Sumner on monetary effects after a monetary injection of money into the market. Sumner takes on a quote by Sheldon Richman where he says that the Austrian school has (1) distinctively paid attention to the fact that money enters into the market through specific parts and not “as it falls from an helicopter” and (2) that money is non-neutral. Sumner argues that the non-neutrality of money is one of the most studied topics in monetary economics and that it is unimportant how money gets into the market. In the comment section (which I also recommend to read) David Henderson asks “Scott, Just so I can make sure what you’re saying: are you denying Cantillon effects?” Scott’s answer: “Yes.” I think there’s some true in Sumner comment, but also some shortcomings that overlook the presence of Cantillon Effects.