Keynesian Endpoint: To Refudiate or Not To Refudiate

Alan Nelson

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How rapidly we change. How quickly we adapt.  

If you use refudiate in 2009, you risk perception as ignorant. 

Now, if you use refudiate, you get looks that acknowledge the cultural reference to Sarah Palin’s  slip of the tongue that twisted refute and repudiate into what the New Oxford Dictionary awarded as the 2010 Word of the Year. 

In these days of texts and Twitter, the language shifts with each new wave of economic fear.  Thus, we now have the Keynesian Endpoint in common lingo.  I’ve now heard the phrase used formally in speeches and now informally in hall conversations. 

The latest trigger is the bailout of the Irish banks, which some fear will launch some sort of trophic cascade where our economic ecosystem will collapse into either runaway inflation, or runaway deflation.  In fact, this latest spontaneous mention was in a elevator ride of just two floors.

“We can’t just keep printing money,” the worried finance expert who markets himself as a wealth advisor.  “We’re going to feel the bite of the wolf.  We’re almost at the Keynesian endpoint.  This summer, or summer after, latest.”

I nodded sagely, and wondered at his venting as he exited the box. Bite of the wolf.  Keynesian endpoint. The finance people have been jumpy for three years now, and now their psyches have wrapped aground Keynesian endpoint.

From as far as I can tell, this catch phrase was coined by a guy named Anthony Crescenzi in June.  Crescenzi works for PIMCO, and PIMCO markets itself as a “global investment authority.”  PIMCO is short for Pacific Investment Management Company, LLC.  It’s mainly run by a guy named William H. Gross, who also happens to manage the world’s largest mutual fund.

Crenscnezi sent out an email several months ago that described the point where governments can no longer stimulate and rescue their economies through increased government spending due to endemic levels of pre-existing government debt.

"Time, devaluations, and debt restructurings might be the only way out for many nations,” Crescenzi wrote in an e-mailed note titled “Keynesian Endpoint.” 

Of course, that refers to the Great Depression era economist John Maynard Keynes. Now, spending programs that seemed to work against the Great Depression  are now “being seen as a magic elixir that has morphed into poison”  used to combat the 2008 global financial meltdown.

The glitch in the system has rippled into delayed collapse in the economic food chain.  Depending on who you listen to, you’ll hear a variety of economic indicators of the coming endpoint manifested by disparate events such as the proposed Afghan withdrawal, the proliferation of smart phones and cloud computing, the not so stellar year of the University of Texas football squad, the Gulf oil spill, the coming dominance of China in space. 

When we think about economics today, we feel we’re caught in a permanent pat-down by the TSA.  We feel like we’re in a Mel Gibson-esque rage. We appear to have a innate desire to see the Keynesian Endpoint, to see the refudiation of all while checking our tweets.