Irving Fisher and the New Normal
A lot of the debate about how to escape the Great Recession is focused on the question of deleveraging and it is often said that we have entered a period of more or less permanent low growth – a “New Normal”. I fundamentally think the idea of the new normal theoretically and empirically flawed. Irving Fisher – undoubtedly one of the greatest economists of the 20th century – formulated his debt-deflation theory, which is highly relevant for the debate about the “New Normal” and more importantly about how to escape the “New Normal”. According to Fisher the economy and market goes through nine phases after the bubble bursts:
- Debt liquidation and distress selling.
- Contraction of the money supply as bank loans are paid off.
- A fall in the level of asset prices.
- A still greater fall in the net worth of businesses, precipitating bankruptcies.
- A fall in profits.
- A reduction in output, in trade and in employment.
- Pessimism and loss of confidence.
- Hoarding of money.
- A fall in nominal interest rates and a rise in deflation adjusted interest rates.