Any of us who use caffeine as our stimulant of choice, The Fed has been confident in their ability to micro-manage whether we’re trying to jump start our Monday morning or the economy that they have almost gotten to the point navigate the last 60 miles of our trip, know about the law where they think it’s a permanent solution. My concern is of diminishing returns. That first shot of caffeine delivers that, at some point, the whole process could run out of a pretty good kick. The next infusion, not so much. By the steam, and Fed policy may not be able to stimulate the end of the day, even a pot of coffee can’t raise the dead.
Our bodies become used to artificial stimulation. Over A case in point
time, whatever we’re using tends to lose its effect. Could The Japanese economy since the late ’80s might be able this principle also be true for the economy? to teach us about the potential perils of artificial market stimulation. Driven by very low discount rates (their equiva- Here’s what I’m thinking. When the Feds adjust interest lent of the FFR), the Japanese economy exploded between rates, the key rate that they tinker with is the Federal Funds 1987 and 1989. The Nikkei stock exchange climbed from Rate (FFR). Banks and thrifts have to keep funds reserved 10,000 in 1985 to almost 40,000 in 1989.3 in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Fed. In order to stay as close as possible to their minimum required reserve When the central bank began raising the discount rate to level, financial institutions with excess funds deposited at rein in the growth, the bubble burst. When the discount the Fed often lend money to other institutions overnight. rates finally were lowered again in 1991, the economy The weighted average rate at which these overnight loans failed to recover. In fact, interest rates have been at, or near, 0% since that time, yet without any lasting positive effect on the economy. The Nikkei has also struggled, currently standing in the mid-13,000 range.
The last time the Fed started lowering interest rates, there was a 2½-year period from 2002 to 2004 where the FFR Considering the fact that Japan is a major financial sunk to 2% or lower.1 Rates that low for that long feel and economic power, you might ask if the same thing about as close as you can come to the point where the will happen in the U.S. We don’t know. The important whole pot of coffee doesn’t work anymore.
question is, could it happen here? And the lesson we may be learning might be the same one we figured out when Since last August, the FFR has dropped from 5.25% we were cramming for finals—caffeine will only take us so to 2.25%—a big drop in a short period of time.2 A few months ago, the Fed also injected a couple of hundred billion dollars of liquidity into the system. These are all attempts to stimulate the economy. But as is the case with humans, stimulants can lose their effectiveness.
SOURCeS:1 A free economy, like ours, should be allowed to fluctuate. It shouldn’t be constantly micro-managed. We are governed, in a sense, by financial physics. If you keep something artificially elevated for a long period of time, eventually you will have an equivalent opposite reaction. 4 Meet With Your Advisers. 6 Have a Backup. Let’s
box owner dies.
becomes an additional
When you have six feet
face it. You may not be
concern. If you want an
of water in your living
able to escape with your 7 Evaluate Storage
electronic copy of your
room is not the time to
important paperwork.
Solutions Carefully. Your
documents, consider
discover you don’t have
To protect yourself, store
primary focus should be on
scanning them and burning
flood insurance. Take the
backup copies of important keeping your information
them to a CD or storing
time to schedule meetings
documents in a safe-de-
secure. If your computer is
them on an external hard
with each of your advisers
posit box or with a trusted
your main storage vault,
drive or a USB flash drive,
and let them know you are
friend, relative, or adviser.
make sure it has up-to-date
portable devices that hold
trying to fill in the gaps and As a general rule, don’t
firewall and anti-virus pro-
a lot of data. For photos,
disaster-proof your affairs.
keep anything in a safe-
tection. Use of a reputable
consider one of the many
deposit box that may be
online storage service may
online storage sites.
Update Your Plans. Change
needed in an emergency,
be a good option for those
is the one constant in life.
such as powers of attor-
comfortable with the tech-
None of us can prevent the
Make sure to review and
ney—a safe-deposit box
unexpected, but putting
update your affairs at least
may not be accessible 24
your life back together
hours a day and may be
Keep in mind that in an
again is much easier if you
sealed temporarily after the emergency, portability
have all the pieces. ~


Printing - fulltexts - october+ 2009

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1958856081126577 1.2

Metformin improves survival in intensive careunit patients, but why?Niels P Riksen1,2*, Gerard A Rongen1,2 and Peter Pickkers3See related research by Christiansen et al., read with interest the study by Christiansen and col-tolerance of various organs against IRI and potentlyleagues in the previous issue of Critical Care. In a largemodulates inflammatio

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