“Printing money is the most expedient, least well-understood, and most common big way of restructuring debts,” Ray Dalio wrote Thursday in an appendix to the latest chapter of his upcoming book on the changing world order.
“It’s like playing Monopoly in a way where the banker can make more money and redistribute it to everyone when too many of the players are going broke and getting angry.”
The billionaire investor and founder of Bridgewater Associates said that money printing, when compared to the other tools that policy makers can use like austerity, debt defaults and higher taxes, feels “good rather than bad” to most people.
“It’s tough to identify any harmed parties that the wealth was taken away from to provide this financial wealth, and in most cases it causes assets to go up in the depreciating currency that people use to measure their wealth in so that it appears that people are getting richer,” Dalio wrote.
“You are seeing these things happen now in response to the announcements of the sending out of large amounts of money and credit by central governments and central banks.”
Not all devaluations are good, however, and Dalio says it’s important to be able to tell the difference between the beneficial and destructive ones and how they ultimately affect how willing savers are to continuing holding wealth in a given reserve currency.
- “You don’t hear anyone complaining about the money and credit creation; in fact you hear cries for a lot more with accusations that the government would be cheap and cruel if it didn’t provide more.”
- “Most people don’t pay enough attention to their currency risks. Most worry about whether their assets are going up or down in value; they rarely worry about whether their currency is going up or down.”
- “In cases in which the debt relief facilitates the flows of this money and credit into productivity and profits for companies, rising real stock prices (i.e., the value of stocks after adjusting for inflation) happens.
- “At times when the central bank is faced with the choice of a) allowing real interest rates (i.e., the rate of interest minus the rate of inflation) to rise to the detriment of the economy or b) preventing real interest rates from rising by printing money and buying those cash and debt assets, they will choose the second path, which reinforces the bad returns of holding “cash” and those debt assets.”
- “The average annual return of holding interest-earning cash currency since 1850 was 1.2 per cent, which was a bit lower than the average real return of holding gold, which was 1.3 per cent, though there were huge differences in their returns at various periods of time and in various countries.”
- “After devaluation, the outcomes diverge significantly across the cases, with a key variable being how much economic and military power the country retained at the time of the devaluation, which impacted how willing savers were to continue holding their money there.”.