Skip to main content

Deflation: Not a Bad Thing

Image result for Tim Cook

Every once in awhile we hear econo pundits telling us how evil deflation would be.

Why? Well ... deflation is often a symptom of bad times. If a lot of people are out of work and have no purchasing power, demand for a wide range of products will drop and so will the general level of prices, i.e. there will be deflation. This is one way of getting to deflation, and the causes of that symptom are, to those directly affected, bad things indeed.

BUT ... deflation there is only a symptom, not a cause of the trouble, and this doesn't rule out the possibility that deflation in other contexts may be harmless, or better-than-harmless.

One often encounters a suspicion of deflation that goes beyond any real justification, and this is the background of an expectation that a central bank should program into an economy a mild level of price inflation, say 2 to 3%. Just to keep those deflationary demons away?

These thoughts are motivated by Apple's product launching event on March 21. The take-away from this event seems to be: the price of new Apple phones, capable of doing essentially everything earlier models of Apple phones could do, is on the way down.  This is a consequence of Apple's desire to penetrate the China market, which has been so far resistent to its high-priced charms. No doubt it also has much to do with the improvement of the underlying technology, which lets designers do more with less for present and future phone buyers.

Presumably enough such events in enough such industries will show up as a macro-level deflation. Yet wouldn't that be ... a good thing?


Popular posts from this blog

A Story About Coleridge

This is a quote from a memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, reflecting on a trip she took with two famous poets, her brother, William Wordsworth, and their similarly gifted companion, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country ... A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. “Yes, sir,” says Coleridge, “it is a majestic wate…

Cancer Breakthrough

Hopeful news in recent days about an old and dear desideratum: a cure for cancer. Or at least for a cancer, and a nasty one at that.

The news comes about because investors in GlaxoSmithKline are greedy for profits, and has already inspired a bit of deregulation to boot. 

The FDA has paved the road for a speedy review of a new BCMA drug for multiple myeloma, essentially cancer of the bone marrow. This means that the US govt has removed some of the hurdles that would otherwise (by decision of the same govt) face a company trying to proceed with these trials expeditiously. 

This has been done because the Phase I clinical trial results have been very promising. The report I've seen indicates that details of these results will be shared with the world on Dec. 11 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology. 

The European Medicines Agency has also given priority treatment to the drug in question. 

GSK's website identifies the drug at issue as "GSK2857916," althou…

Hume's Cutlery

David Hume is renowned for two pieces of cutlery, the guillotine and the fork.

Hume's guillotine is the sharp cut he makes between "is" statements and "ought" statements, to make the point that the former never ground the latter.

His "fork" is the division between what later came to be called "analytic" and "synthetic" statements, with the ominous observation that any books containing statements that cannot be assigned to one or the other prong should be burnt.

Actually, I should acknowledge that there is some dispute as to how well or poorly the dichotomy Hume outlines really maps onto the analytic/synthetic dichotomy. Some writers maintain that Hume meant something quite different and has been hijacked. Personally, I've never seen the alleged difference however hard they've worked to point it out to me.

The guillotine makes for a more dramatic graphic than a mere fork, hence the bit of clip art above.

I'm curious whe…