The benefits of a saving culture, by Alasdair Macleod

The foundation of true economic progress will always be saving. From Alasdair Macleod at

Savings are a vital component of any successful economy, and the foolishness behind the paradox of thrift is exposed in this article. It has been a huge error for Keynesian policy makers to discourage savings in the interests of temporary boosts to consumerism.

It is probably too late now but encouraging people to save by removing all taxation from savings makes an enormous contribution to reducing price inflation and trade deficits, while enhancing national wealth. This is evidenced empirically and demonstrated by reasoned theory. 

Furthermore, there is an error in assuming that there is no alternative to Triffin’s dilemma, which posited that for a nation to produce a meaningful level of reserve currency for external circulation it must run trade deficits. Triffin was describing the problems the United States gave itself under the Bretton Woods agreement, leading to the failure of the London gold pool in the late sixties. It still informs US policy makers today, and wrongly leads American commentators to believe that the dollar cannot be toppled from its pre-eminent position.

But Triffin’s dilemma assumes that central banks must accumulate currency reserves. Unless a government has foolishly indebted itself in a foreign currency, there is no need for them to do so. Currency reserves add nothing to a domestic currency’s stability. Gold fulfilled this role successfully, and likely to do so again in future.

It is a savings ratio of 45% which is at the root of China’s power. The lack of savings in America and its western alliance is their Achilles heel.

Empirical evidence

If there was one taxation policy which would reduce consumer price inflation, stabilise a fiat currency, encourage capital allocation for productive purposes, and improve government finances for the longer-term, what would it be?

Remove all taxes from savings.

This is the lesson from past-war West Germany and Japan, both of which suffered absolute defeat and economic destruction in the Second World War. Their currencies were worthless. But they recovered to become economic powerhouses in Europe and Asia respectively in little more than two decades. Both implemented savings-friendly taxation policies, which made capital available at stable interest rates for new industries to invest in production. Germany developed its Mittelstand, and Japan built on her vertically integrated Zaibatsu.

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