The Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to three Americans for showing that while it is difficult to predict asset prices in the short term, prices can be predicted in broad terms over longer periods, such as three to five years, according to the Nobel committee. Wow! Short term who knows? But in long term we might have a better shot. Who could make this up? I always thought there was a Nobel Prize waiting for this sort of insight. If you want more evidence that the Dismal Science really is dismal consider the two graphs below. They are both from the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis.
The bank defines the velocity of money thus: The velocity of money is the frequency at which one unit of currency is used to purchase domestically- produced goods and services within a given time period. In other words, it is the number of times one dollar is spent to buy goods and services per unit of time. If the velocity of money is increasing, then more transactions are occurring between individuals in an economy.
The frequency of currency exchange can be used to determine the velocity of a given component of the money supply, providing some insight into whether consumers and businesses are saving or spending their money. There are several components of the money supply,: M1, M2, and MZM (M3 is no longer tracked by the Federal Reserve); these components are arranged on a spectrum of narrowest to broadest. Consider M1, the narrowest component. M1 is the money supply of currency in circulation (notes and coins, traveler’s checks [non-bank issuers], demand deposits, and checkable deposits). A decreasing velocity of M1 might indicate fewer short- term consumption transactions are taking place. We can think of shorter- term transactions as consumption we might make on an everyday basis.
The broader M2 component includes M1 in addition to saving deposits, certificates of deposit (less than $100,000), and money market deposits for individuals. Comparing the velocities of M1 and M2 provides some insight into how quickly the economy is spending and how quickly it is saving.
MZM (money with zero maturity) is the broadest component and consists of the supply of financial assets redeemable at par on demand: notes and coins in circulation, traveler’s checks (non-bank issuers), demand deposits, other checkable deposits, savings deposits, and all money market funds. The velocity of MZM helps determine how often financial assets are switching hands within the economy.
M2 is defined thus: M2 includes a broader set of financial assets held principally by households. M2 consists of M1 plus: (1) savings deposits (which include money market deposit accounts, or MMDAs); (2) small-denomination time deposits (time deposits in amounts of less than $100,000); and (3) balances in retail money market mutual funds (MMMFs). Seasonally adjusted M2 is computed by summing savings deposits, small-denomination time deposits, and retail MMMFs, each seasonally adjusted separately, and adding this result to seasonally adjusted M1.
The government through its various bailouts and troubled asset relief funds along with the Federal Reserve has been flooding the world with money in an effort to restart the economy. Were this working the velocity of money should increase, yet it is at an all time low. Put a different way, the great availability of money should cause individuals and businesses to spend the money thus increasing its movement through the economy. Not only hasn’t this flow of gelt happened, but there is not now nor has there ever been a correlation between the money supply and the velocity of money. If this confuses you, you’re ready to become a professional economist and should have your friends in the profession nominate you for a Nobel Prize