As every school child knows, water is formed by the two elements of hydrogen and oxygen in a very simple formula we all know as H2O. Today we start a series that starts with the question, What are the elements that comprise deflation? Far from being simple, the "equation" for deflation is as complex as that of DNA. And sadly, while the genome project has helped us with great insights into how DNA works, economic analysis is still back in the 1950s when it comes to decoding deflation. Notwithstanding the paucity of understanding we can glean from the dismal science, in this week's letter we will start thinking about the most fundamentally important question of the day: is inflation, or deflation, in our future?
But quickly, I want to thank the many people who wrote very kind words about last week's letter. Many thought it was one of the better letters I have done in a long time. If you did not read it, you can read it here. And of course, you can go there and sign up to get this letter sent to you each week for free. Why not become of my 1 million (plus and growing) closest friends?
Among the economists and writers I regularly read, there are some who, if they agree with me, I go back and check my assumptions - I must have been wrong. Paul Krugman is one of those thinkers. I admit to his brilliance, but his left-leaning philosophy does not particularly square with mine, and I find that most of the time I disagree.
That being said, I strongly encourage you to read his essay in the New York Times Magazine, which comes out this weekend. It is worth the high price of the Times to read it, if you can't get it online. It is a very hard critique and analysis of the failure of current macro and financial economic thought, which didn't even come close to predicting the current financial malaise. Indeed, as he points out, most schools of thought said the state we are in could not happen. You can read at the essay if you are a member, or register for free if you are not. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/06/magazine/06Economic-t.html?_r=1.