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  #81  
Old 21.01.2015, 07:10
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Re: Risks of buying Euros now?

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[...]We are now afraid of deflation which is worse as it it will lead to people stopping to consume (because tomorrow everything will be cheaper).[...]
I know the above is the prevailing orthodoxy, but many of us don't believe it.

For one thing, there would be a wealth effect. Also, plenty of stuff is already cheaper tomorrow (computers, electronics, cameras, ...) and yet people still consume that just fine. Future discounting is a thing, and price deflation of a few percent a year would just be another factor to take into account when performing future discounting. And, in many cases, a relatively small factor.

The powers that be want us to be afraid of deflation so they can keep printing money. But the evidence that mild deflation is harmful just doesn't stack up.
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  #82  
Old 21.01.2015, 10:34
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Re: Risks of buying Euros now?

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I know the above is the prevailing orthodoxy, but many of us don't believe it.

For one thing, there would be a wealth effect. Also, plenty of stuff is already cheaper tomorrow (computers, electronics, cameras, ...) and yet people still consume that just fine. Future discounting is a thing, and price deflation of a few percent a year would just be another factor to take into account when performing future discounting. And, in many cases, a relatively small factor.

The powers that be want us to be afraid of deflation so they can keep printing money. But the evidence that mild deflation is harmful just doesn't stack up.
I think you've missed the point -- the elephant in the room is not the prospect of lower prices tomorrow suppressing demand today, but the crippling effect of deflation on debt.

With deflation comes lower prices -- lower prices lead (in a chicken-or-egg kind of a way) to lower salaries (lower income for manufacturers and retailers and eventually for consumers, too). But what happens to debt? It doesn't reduce, while the debtor now earns less to repay the debt. In real terms, debt inflates when purchasing power deflates.

Since the vast majority of individuals and companies hold debt (home loans, car loans, credit card debt, personal loans) -- and huge amounts of it -- the last thing governments want is deflation.

In the days of hyperinflation in Germany and Yugoslavia (the latter, only 30-odd years ago), one could pay off one's mortgage (taken out before inflation hit) with a day or two's wages. No exaggeration. Deflation is the opposite -- debt payments that once consumed, say, 20% of income, can rocket up to 30, 40, 60% and more of income, while the total amount owed also increases relative to income.
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  #83  
Old 21.01.2015, 10:46
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Re: [Merged threads] Investing now that the SNB has removed the Euro peg

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Option 4: buy real estate in e.g. Germany

Buy the flat in Germany and rent it out. Generates steady income over years. The property price will rise, if ECB manages to create inflation and inject money into the system.




Any other suggestions?
Not, not in Germany, buy a house in Tuscany as for the moment is what we call best value for money.
We have the opposite problem: we have euro but want to buy a property in CH. Def not the good time!
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  #84  
Old 21.01.2015, 10:52
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Re: Risks of buying Euros now?

Since inflation can be controlled, more or less exactly, by the central bank's money supply, the fact is that inflation is a tax on holding money.

Countries like Italy with a huge sub-legal sector (mafia) used inflation, pre-€, to tax the mafia, because even the worst criminal needed Lira (probably a lot of it) to finance his day out with his family. That´s why Italy stepped up anti-mafia efforts before introducing the €uro - they knew that soon they won´t be allowed to print as much money as they want.

Countries like the US, sporting a fairly stable US$ which China likes to hold en-masse, enables the US to effectively and substantially tax China.

If you have one country with constant inflation (Italy), and another country with nearly zero-inflation, the fx-rate will, in the long run and on average, move one way only.

The same principle, albeit in less extreme terms, applies to the €: The ECB wants a certain amount of inflation, and it is higher than that of the SNB. So in the long run and on average, the fx-rate of the CHF will always go up against the €.

Sometimes, just like now, the rates overshoot the average of what makes sense.

At least I always imagined it this way, happy to hear if this is totally off track?!
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  #85  
Old 21.01.2015, 10:53
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Re: Risks of buying Euros now?

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I think you've missed the point -- the elephant in the room is not the prospect of lower prices tomorrow suppressing demand today, but the crippling effect of deflation on debt.

With deflation comes lower prices -- lower prices lead (in a chicken-or-egg kind of a way) to lower salaries (lower income for manufacturers and retailers and eventually for consumers, too). But what happens to debt? It doesn't reduce, while the debtor now earns less to repay the debt. In real terms, debt inflates when purchasing power deflates.

Since the vast majority of individuals and companies hold debt (home loans, car loans, credit card debt, personal loans) -- and huge amounts of it -- the last thing governments want is deflation.

In the days of hyperinflation in Germany and Yugoslavia (the latter, only 30-odd years ago), one could pay off one's mortgage (taken out before inflation hit) with a day or two's wages. No exaggeration. Deflation is the opposite -- debt payments that once consumed, say, 20% of income, can rocket up to 30, 40, 60% and more of income, while the total amount owed also increases relative to income.
wages do not normally fall much (compared to economy) as people don't like cuts and employers find it hard to cut wages. of course it happens to some degree.
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  #86  
Old 21.01.2015, 11:00
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Re: Risks of buying Euros now?

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wages do not normally fall much (compared to economy) as people don't like cuts and employers find it hard to cut wages. of course it happens to some degree.
I have heard that they might cut in cities like Basel because it is so close to the euro zone. It will not happen in Zurich.
It might only affect people from Zurich to Basel but there aren't many
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Old 21.01.2015, 11:08
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Re: Risks of buying Euros now?

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wages do not normally fall much (compared to economy) as people don't like cuts and employers find it hard to cut wages. of course it happens to some degree.
That´s part of Greece´s problem: They used to have high inflation, which they became accustomed of. Then they introduced the €, but although money wasn´t printed anymore they just kept rising prices in the way they were used to. However, the fx-"excess flow valve" wasn´t there anymore, yielding Greece totally incompetitive.

I think one currency, even spanning very different economic levels, is no problem, if people understand that their prices have to match supply and demand. Look at poor areas in the US: they might be suffering, but not because of the US$. Prices in Arizona are just not the same as in NYC, which equalises the differences. Another example could be Montenegro or Kosovo: They use the €, but since they´re not official €-members they know what would happen to them if they go bust: No-one would help them, they´d be on their own. As a result they manage their finances responsibly.

Back to the original quote: Greece would have to lower salaries and prices throughout, for example by 50%, and suddenly they´d be competitive again. If they had their own currency this could be achieved through a change in their fx-rate, but since they are tied down in the € they´d need salary-cuts, something that´s not placeable.
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Old 21.01.2015, 11:13
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Re: Risks of buying Euros now?

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Yugoslavia (the latter, only 30-odd years ago), one could pay off one's mortgage (taken out before inflation hit) with a day or two's wages. No exaggeration.
Hehe, you are absolutely right, end of 80s early 90s the monthly repayment for your house loan was exactly the same price as a pack of cigarettes, I am not joking. Those who were smart back than paid off the debt withing few months which should have taken 30+ years. That's why home ownership in the Balkans is among the highest, not because of socialism of course (as many people think by mistake)
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Old 21.01.2015, 11:22
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Re: Risks of buying Euros now?

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...Yugoslavia (the latter, only 30-odd years ago), one could pay off one's mortgage (taken out before inflation hit) with a day or two's wages. No exaggeration...
After the hyperinflation in Germany, positive balances with banks were lost, while mortgages were "generously" translated into the new currency. Savings gone, mortgages increased.
.
My personal conclusion from that is: When a "real" crisis hits, it´s best to hold something shortly above "zero" in cash, and preserving wealth in other instruments, such as gold, real estate and/or stocks. Knowing full-well that gold can be confiscated, real estate can be hit with some extraordinary "emergency" tax etc... I guess when a real crisis hits everyone will suffer. Luckily we´re not that far.
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Old 21.01.2015, 11:30
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Re: Risks of buying Euros now?

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wages do not normally fall much (compared to economy) as people don't like cuts and employers find it hard to cut wages. of course it happens to some degree.
It is unpopular to cut wages and hence this (usually) only happens as a last resort.

But what does happen is that new hires (especially youths in their first job) are taken on at a lower rate every year, and pay rises are awarded more sparingly. Over time this depresses average salaries. This is already happening in many areas.
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  #91  
Old 21.01.2015, 11:38
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Re: Risks of buying Euros now?

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It is unpopular to cut wages and hence this (usually) only happens as a last resort.

But what does happen is that new hires (especially youths in their first job) are taken on at a lower rate every year, and pay rises are awarded more sparingly. Over time this depresses average salaries. This is already happening in many areas.
After a few years you just fire the older more expensive people, no redundancy to pay in CH so a no brainer.
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  #92  
Old 21.01.2015, 11:48
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Re: Risks of buying Euros now?

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That´s part of Greece´s problem: They used to have high inflation, which they became accustomed of. Then they introduced the €, but although money wasn´t printed anymore they just kept rising prices in the way they were used to. However, the fx-"excess flow valve" wasn´t there anymore, yielding Greece totally incompetitive.

I think one currency, even spanning very different economic levels, is no problem, if people understand that their prices have to match supply and demand. Look at poor areas in the US: they might be suffering, but not because of the US$. Prices in Arizona are just not the same as in NYC, which equalises the differences. Another example could be Montenegro or Kosovo: They use the €, but since they´re not official €-members they know what would happen to them if they go bust: No-one would help them, they´d be on their own. As a result they manage their finances responsibly.

Back to the original quote: Greece would have to lower salaries and prices throughout, for example by 50%, and suddenly they´d be competitive again. If they had their own currency this could be achieved through a change in their fx-rate, but since they are tied down in the € they´d need salary-cuts, something that´s not placeable.
sure, but in these various systems the population is homogenous and there isn't (relatively) much objection to fund payments from one part to another.

the structural payments for EU would have to be huge to correct the imbalances within the eurozone. in germany they may have been fine with the solidarity tax to reunite east and west germany, but i don't think they have bought into the idea of paying a large solidarity tax to pay to greece, eastern europe etc. so that the living standards there can be increased at the expense of decreased living standards at home.
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  #93  
Old 21.01.2015, 12:11
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Re: Risks of buying Euros now?

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I think one currency, even spanning very different economic levels, is no problem, if people understand that their prices have to match supply and demand. Look at poor areas in the US: they might be suffering, but not because of the US$. Prices in Arizona are just not the same as in NYC, which equalises the differences. Another example could be Montenegro or Kosovo: They use the €, but since they´re not official €-members they know what would happen to them if they go bust: No-one would help them, they´d be on their own. As a result they manage their finances responsibly.
I've always wondered what would happen in the US if one state goes totally bankrupt. I think California was close at one point but they made it somehow. But if push did come to shove, would there be a bail-out by the federal government and the other states?

I don't really understand what's happening in Detroit either for that matter.
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Old 21.01.2015, 12:30
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Re: Risks of buying Euros now?

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I've always wondered what would happen in the US if one state goes totally bankrupt. I think California was close at one point but they made it somehow. But if push did come to shove, would there be a bail-out by the federal government and the other states?

I don't really understand what's happening in Detroit either for that matter.
it would be interesting to see whether they consider states as too big to fail as they do with banks

but there are special provisions for bankrupt states. i don't know the full details but i expect most/all creditors to be screwed.
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Old 21.01.2015, 12:43
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Re: Risks of buying Euros now?

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... i don't know the full details but i expect most/all creditors to be screwed...
I doubt it ever happened in the past, but do you think any state would dare to screw its creditors? No-one would ever extend credit to this state in the future, and it would most likely frighten creditors of other states, likely setting off chain reactions?

I remember California being bankrupt, i.e. not able to pay things they were legally required to pay (social welfare). So instead California issued "IOUs" (read "I owe you"), effectively a piece of paper promising "the state of California will eventually turn this into xx US$". These IOUs could then be used instead of "real" dollars, and they were accepted at some theoretical fx-rate, incorporating a default-likelihood. I seem to remember this happened under Schwarzenegger, and California actually paid up.

Edit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IOU
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Old 21.01.2015, 13:27
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Re: Risks of buying Euros now?

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I doubt it ever happened in the past, but do you think any state would dare to screw its creditors? No-one would ever extend credit to this state in the future, and it would most likely frighten creditors of other states, likely setting off chain reactions?
Didn't the federal government in some way bail out the Southern states that were bankrupt after the Civil War?
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Old 21.01.2015, 14:46
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Re: Risks of buying Euros now?

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We are now afraid of deflation which is worse as it it will lead to people stopping to consume (because tomorrow everything will be cheaper).[...]
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I know the above is the prevailing orthodoxy, but many of us don't believe it.[...]
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I think you've missed the point -- the elephant in the room is not the prospect of lower prices tomorrow suppressing demand today [...]
Well, I was replying to someone claiming that "We are now afraid of deflation which is worse as it it will lead to people stopping to consume (because tomorrow everything will be cheaper)." I hardly think it's missing the point to explain why I believe that fear to be unfounded. But happy to discuss the stuff you raise, too.

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, but the crippling effect of deflation on debt.

[...]

Since the vast majority of individuals and companies hold debt (home loans, car loans, credit card debt, personal loans) -- and huge amounts of it -- the last thing governments want is deflation.
Fine but it has to be about the amount, not just the presence of deflation. The effect on debt is continuous. The situation with an annual inflation rate of 0.5% just isn't much different to the situation with an annual inflation rate of -0.5%. I don't buy that there is a discontinuity at the moment zero is crossed. I used the phrase "mild deflation" in my general statement.
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In the days of hyperinflation in Germany and Yugoslavia (the latter, only 30-odd years ago), one could pay off one's mortgage (taken out before inflation hit) with a day or two's wages. No exaggeration. Deflation is the opposite -- debt payments that once consumed, say, 20% of income, can rocket up to 30, 40, 60% and more of income, while the total amount owed also increases relative to income.
Note that in my general statement I talked about mild deflation. What you are describing does not sound like mild deflation to me.

Price stability is a decent goal. Large inflation and deflation both have distortionary and deleterious effects. Mild inflation and deflation are fairly harmless. Say a range -2% to 2% annually for the whatever price index.

One of the things that attracted me to Switzerland was the general consensus that monetary policy should aim for price stability, rather than being aimed at erasing debt (and accepting the other consequences).
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Old 21.01.2015, 15:11
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Re: Risks of buying Euros now?

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I think you've missed the point -- the elephant in the room is not the prospect of lower prices tomorrow suppressing demand today, but the crippling effect of deflation on debt.

With deflation comes lower prices -- lower prices lead (in a chicken-or-egg kind of a way) to lower salaries (lower income for manufacturers and retailers and eventually for consumers, too). But what happens to debt? It doesn't reduce, while the debtor now earns less to repay the debt. In real terms, debt inflates when purchasing power deflates.

Since the vast majority of individuals and companies hold debt (home loans, car loans, credit card debt, personal loans) -- and huge amounts of it -- the last thing governments want is deflation.

In the days of hyperinflation in Germany and Yugoslavia (the latter, only 30-odd years ago), one could pay off one's mortgage (taken out before inflation hit) with a day or two's wages. No exaggeration. Deflation is the opposite -- debt payments that once consumed, say, 20% of income, can rocket up to 30, 40, 60% and more of income, while the total amount owed also increases relative to income.
The thing I do not understand is we have had deflation here for years but it does not seem to have had any impact and nobody seems to care
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Old 21.01.2015, 16:43
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Re: Risks of buying Euros now?

By the way, we´re under parity. At present 98.95 Rappen are buying a €uro.
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Old 21.01.2015, 17:06
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Re: [Merged threads] Investing now that the SNB has removed the Euro peg

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Not, not in Germany, buy a house in Tuscany as for the moment is what we call best value for money.
We have the opposite problem: we have euro but want to buy a property in CH. Def not the good time!
Why Tuscany?
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