Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Savers told to stop moaning and start spending

The Telegraph reports:
Savers should stop complaining about poor returns and start spending to help the economy, a senior Bank of England official warned today.

Older households could afford to suffer because they had benefited from previous property price rises, Charles Bean, the deputy governor, suggested.

They should "not expect" to live off interest, he added, admitting that low returns were part of a strategy.

His remarks are likely to infuriate savers, who are among the biggest victims of the recession. About five million retired people are thought to rely on the interest earned by their nest-eggs. But almost all savings accounts now pay less than inflation.
Ros Altmann, director-general of Saga, said: "Savers are being taken advantage of. They did the right thing and have been let down at the other end of the deal.

"I don't think this is what most people would consider fair."

Dot Gibson, of the National Pensioners Convention, said: "For years we've been told to put money aside for our retirement only to find that interest rates have sunk and now we have to use our savings just to pay the bills."

Jason Riddle, of Save Our Savers, said: "The Bank was aware that there was a lack of saving before the financial crisis, but those who were prudently saving while others spent, are being heavily punished."
The Bank of England has a long history of exploiting ordinary decent people. I recommend these two Cobden Centre articles:
I struggle to know how to approach such rampant Keynesian nonsense, so instead I'll reproduce a 1932 letter from F. A. Hayek to The Times, in response to an earlier letter by Keynes himself.
The Times, Wednesday, October 19, 1932 (p10)


Sir,— The question whether to save or whether to spend, which has been raised in your columns, is not unambiguous. It involves three separate issues:—(1) Whether to use money or whether to hoard it; (2) whether to spend money or whether to invest it; (3) whether Government investment is on all fours with investment by private individuals. While we do not wish to over-stress the nature of our differences with those of our professional colleagues who have already written to you on these subjects, yet on certain points that difference is sufficiently great to make the expression of an alternative view desirable.

(1) On the first issue—whether to use one’s money or whether to hoard it—there is no important difference between us. It is agreed that hoarding money, whether in cash or in idle balances, is deflationary in its effects. No one thinks that deflation is in itself desirable.

(2) On the question of whether to spend or whether to invest our position is different from that of the signatories of the letter which appeared in your columns on Monday. They appear to hold that it is a matter of indifference as regards the prospects of revival whether money is spent on consumption or on real investment. We, on the contrary, believe that one of the main difficulties of the world to-day is a deficiency of investment—a depression of the industries making for capital extension, &c., rather than of the industries making directly for consumption. Hence we regard a revival of investment as particularly desirable. The signatories of the letter referred to, however, appear to deprecate the purchase of existing securities on the ground that there is no guarantee that money will find its way into real investment. We cannot endorse this view. Under modern conditions the security markets are an indispensable part of the mechanism of investment. A rise in the value of old securities is an indispensable preliminary to the flotation of new issues. The existence of a lag between the revival in old securities and revival elsewhere is not questioned. But we should regard it as little short of a disaster if the public should infer from what has been said that the purchase of existing securities and the placing of deposits in building societies, &c., were at the present time contrary to public interest or that the sale of securities or the withdrawal of such deposits would assist the coming of recovery. It is perilous in the extreme to say anything which may still further weaken the habit of private saving.

But it is perhaps on the third question—the question whether this is an appropriate time for State and municipal authorities to extend their expenditure—that our differences with the signatories of the letter is most acute. On this point we find ourselves in agreement with your leading article on Monday. We are of the opinion that many of the troubles of the world at the present time are due to imprudent borrowing and spending on the part of the public authorities. We do not desire to see a renewal of such practices. At best they mortgage the Budgets of the future, and they tend to drive up the rate of interest—a process which is surely particularly undesirable at this juncture when the revival of the supply of capital to private industry is an admittedly urgent necessity. The depression has abundantly shown that the existence of public debt on a large scale imposes frictions and obstacles to readjustment very much greater than the frictions and obstacles imposed by the existence of private debt. Hence we cannot agree with the signatories of the letter that this is a time for new municipal swimming baths, &c., merely because people “feel they want” such amenities.

If the Government wish to help revival, the right way for them to proceed is, not expenditure, but to abolish those restrictions on trade and the free movement of capital (including restrictions on new issues) which are at present impeding even the beginning of recovery.

We are, Sir, your obedient servants,

T.E. GREGORY, Cassel Professor of Economics,
F. A. VON HAYEK, Tooke Professor of Economic Science and Statistics,
ARNOLD PLANT, Cassel Professor of Commerce,
LIONEL ROBBINS, Professor of Economics

University of London, Oct. 18

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