Why Politicians are at War Against Deflation

Why Politicians are at War Against Deflation

The condition of Apoplithorismophobia afflicts a certain group of people, and they display these symptoms.

  1. They crave rising grocery prices
  2. They desire rising electricity costs
  3. They are happy to pay more at the fuel pump
  4. In fact, they are deliriously happy when consumer prices rise generally.

Do you have any of these ailments? Probably not.

Extensive studies have identified that this mental condition is confined to politicians, central bankers, mainstream economists and financial commentators.

American economist Mark Thornton identified and described this phobia in his 2003 economics paper:

Apoplithorismosphobia (ay-pope-lit-horris-mos-foe-be-ah) is the fear of deflation. Or, more correctly, the fear that an economy would “suffer” from falling prices, or a general decline in the prices of goods and services.

Read: central bankers and their political masters. Whether we (the majority of society) recognise it or not, by wanting lower prices for the goods and services we buy, we are actually in favour of deflation. So the question is ‘why are the policymakers so intent on stopping it?

Perhaps the writings of early 20th Century Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto can provide the answer:  He said the ruling class sees a theory falling into one of the following categories:

  1. True and useful
  2. False and useful
  3. True and useless
  4. False and useless

According to Pareto, the ruling class’s definition of ‘useful’ is ‘something that increases the power of the anointed, not one that benefits the population at large’.

Pareto argues that ‘false and useful’ theories are highly prized by those wanting to consolidate, and preferably strengthen, their power bases.

We have lived with inflation for so long, we do not know any other economic model. Year after year prices rise. An expected increase in incomes accompanies this to offset the higher cost of living. The upward spiral has continued unabated, at varying degrees of velocity, since The Great Depression.

Inflation gave us ‘bracket creep’ and governments enjoyed greater revenue streams. Not content with this, governments later found a way to clip the ticket on the things we need to buy with taxes like the GST.

Governments over the decades created and then tapped the increasing tax revenues to ‘buy votes’ — the ‘thin edge of the wedge’ 1970’s welfare promises have given way to a full blown entitlement mentality. Governments have successfully convinced nearly every level of adult society they are entitled to a disproportionate share of another person’s income.

To lessen the pain from ‘the rod they have made for their own backs’ governments need, NO, demand inflation. Tax revenues must rise, otherwise the lash from entitled voters will be far too painful.

Therefore, the boomer retirees are a real conundrum for governments.

The following chart from fivethirtyeight shows that the ageing population issue is a global ‘problem’. Year after year, more people are going to be shifting from the taxpaying side of the seesaw to the tax receiving (age pensions and increased healthcare demands) side — eventually the seesaw is going to tip too far.

While Australia does not get a mention in the graph, we are certainly confronting the same issue.

Share of population age 65 and over
click to enlarge

The state of the Australian budget is a prime example of far too many promises with not enough income to fund them. The forward estimate expenditure figures, contained in the 2014 budget papers, confirm the ageing population problem is definitely on our doorstep.

Over the next four years expenditure INCREASES by $60 billion — so much for a tough budget to cut costs. Nearly $39 billion of the increased expenditure is due to expected demand for Social Security and Healthcare. In 2017, Social Security and Healthcare account for just over 50% of government expenditure.

It’s a falsehood to say deflation is evil and should be avoided at all costs. What’s the matter with lower costs and greater levels of savings? Sounds like an infinitely more stable economic system to me.

The reason for an outbreak of apoplithorismophobia within the ruling class is simple — the threat of the greatest Ponzi scheme in history being exposed, resulting in wholesale social unrest (think of Greece after austerity measures).

Without inflation the whole credit infused growth game is up.

Demographics and debt are a double edged sword. When both were in the ascendency, the desired inflation was in abundance. Now, as boomers en masse accept their ‘gold watches’ and households modify their debt levels, the sharp edge of deflation is cutting its way through the global economy.

Unfortunately the ruling elite are going to persist to the bitter end in their war against deflation. Ironically, the potential market carnage caused by their constant and increasingly desperate meddling is only going to exasperate the deflationary spiral they have so anxiously tried to avoid.

My mental affliction is ‘losingsixtypercentofmymoneyphobia’ — that’s why my Gowdie Family Wealth portfolio, for now, is 100% cash and poised to take advantage of the deeply discounted asset sale when the inflationary forces can no longer prop up the Australian share market.


Vern Gowdie+
for The Markets and Money Australia

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Vern Gowdie

Vern Gowdie

Editor at Markets & Money

Vern Gowdie has been involved in financial planning in Australia since 1986. In 1999, Personal Investor magazine ranked Vern as one of Australia’s Top 50 financial planners.

His previous firm, Gowdie Financial Planning, was recognized in 2004, 2005, 2006 & 2007, by Independent Financial Adviser magazine as one of the top five financial planning firms in Australia.

He is a feature editor to Markets and Money and is Founder and Chairman of the Gowdie Family Wealth and the Gowdie Letter advisory services.

Vern Gowdie

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5 Comments on "Why Politicians are at War Against Deflation"

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slewie the pi-rat

damned right!
besides, in slewienomics: deflation due to demographics is virtuous.
well, what the hell, why not?
make that “by definition” virtuous.
i like the sound of that.
right up there with that 4th turning stuff!


A great read and so true the winds of change are coming its been a long run but its starting to turn.I can tell u from a person wanting to buy a house but not wanting to pay what they want its been I think the biggest wait in history but in my view the waiting will pay off.

The age chart is out of date. Latest projections show the share of over 65 for China will be over %33, other Asian nations will have over 65 ranges between %20 and %35, South Korea, Taiwan and other Asian nations will actually have declining populations by 2050. Things are not that good in America either, fertility is falling across the board, even groups assumed to have high fertility are actually falling fast, Latin America has falling birth rates almost as fast as East Asia, even the muslim fertility rates are dclining at an accelerating rate, leading to increased population aging.… Read more »

Nomination for local Apoplithorismophobic brother no.1

Campbell Newman’s citing the natural order on aggregate public healthcare spending – it has, does, will, and must, inflate more than CPI.

And what sector has Australia identified when picking its next winner? Yep, biopharma. Why? Because Campbell Newman is right says PM&C. It’s a global “sure winner” racket. Public servants buying into the top of the curve again….

Another corporatist oligarchy thought bubble’s from PM&C & Treasury, just like the insulation bat project.

Justin King

You need inflation to pay off the debt.
It’s that or default.
Easy choice.

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