Predictable, or Unintended Consequences?

Categories : Financial, News
June 16, 2021

“Actions have consequences,” our parents told us. “Elections have consequences,” warned Barack Obama. “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction,” Isaac Newton explained. “The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions,” goes an old English proverb. Good observations. We should all pay attention.

Since I cannot resist one more cliché, “What goes around, comes around.” From both an economic and a social perspective, we are currently seeing evidence of problems in the economy, our society, the educational system, our borders, and foreign conflicts, that once seemed to be resolved. Are these problems planned, or unintended results from flawed policy decisions?

Our post-COVID-19 American economy is rebounding with admirable strength and velocity. Job growth is rampant, wages are rising, yet millions of people remain unemployed. “Coincidentally,” the Federal Government is subsidizing unemployment with an additional $300/week, which is actually down from $600/week earlier. Even with reduced payments, millions of people are being handsomely rewarded to remain unemployed. Many exhibit little or no motivation to return to work until those payments end. Shouldn’t we have expected this, or is it merely an unintended consequence of government over-reaction?

Automobiles by the thousands are being stored in parking lots, nearly complete, but unable to be offered for sale. They sit, week after week, due to a shortage of computer chips that would allow them to be operated. Where are the semiconductor manufacturing plants? Largely in Asia, with many in Taiwan. Taiwan is under threat from Mainland China and COVID-19. Yet most microchips are single-sourced. Shouldn’t our automakers have predicted this, or is it an unintended consequence of shopping for components by price?

Inflation is rampant, and we all know it. Government bean counters and the Federal Reserve are in denial and doing their best to “fix” their numbers so they appear less scary to the public. Inflation is a monetary phenomenon, caused by “printing” too much fiat money in a short time. It is happening daily and has happened before. Earlier this year, those of us who remember the 1970s predicted today’s environment. In the words of Yogi Berra, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” Can we really plead unintended consequences?

These items constitute a small sampling of the problems we face today, and they could all be remedied. It would take time, it would be painful in some cases, and it would involve educating Americans to understand what is necessary. That would take a great deal of Congressional will. I can’t see any.

Van Wie Financial is fee-only. For a reason.