A Brief Outline of Macro-Economics (Kurzer Abriss der Nationalökonomie)

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Macro-economics is when the public wonders why they have no money. There are several reasons for this, the best of which are the scientific ones, which, however can be abolished by emergency decree.

The precursor of macro-economics was political economy, but that was just a joke, so we don’t need to go into it. It applied from 715 BC until the year 1 after Marx. Since then, the question is definitively answered: the people still have no money, but at least they know why.

All macro-economics is based on ›money‹.

Money is neither a means of payment nor of exchange, it is also not fictional, and above all, it is not money. You can buy goods for money, because it is money, and it is money because you can buy goods for it, although this theory has now been abandoned. Nobody knows where money comes from. It is just there, or, more often, not there. The paper money in circulation is guaranteed by the state, in that any holder of paper money can go to the central bank and demand gold for it. He can do that. The higher central bank officials are required by law to have gold fillings, which guarantee the value of the paper money. This is known as being backed by gold.

The wealth of a country depends on its balance of trade, its internal and external debt, and the difference between the interest on current account and the Lombard rate. If it rains, the opposite applies. Every morning, dice are thrown in the central banks to determine the ›discount rate‹. The Germans recently managed to throw 20 with three dice.

As for the world economy, it is integrated.

When an entrepreneur has sold goods, they are no longer of any value, they are trash, but he has the money for them, which is known as the added value, although its value keeps falling. If an entrepreneur gets bored, he goes to see another entrepreneur, and they form a cartel, which means that they agree not to produce as much as they could, and not to sell their goods below cost. The theory that the worker should be paid for his work is obsolete.

Export plays an important role in trade. Export is when the others are supposed to buy what we can’t. It is unpatriotic to buy foreign goods, so the foreigners have to buy domestic, that is German, goods, otherwise we would not be competitive. Export the other way round is called import, which in the plural is a cigar[1]. Because cheap wheat is unhealthy and much less easily digested than expensive rye, we have protective customs tariffs, which protect the customs and excise, and the German agricultural interests. German agriculture has been enjoying a comfortable existence on the brink of the precipice for twenty-five years. It is in debt because heavy industry leaves nothing over, and the heavy industry is not up to date, because agriculture takes too much. This is known as the balance of interests. High taxes are demanded of both of these institutions, and the consumer does indeed pay them.

Every economy is based on a credit system, the mistaken assumption that borrowed money will be paid back. When it is not, a rescue operation, from which everyone but the state profits, is carried out. The hallmark of such bankruptcies is that the public is called upon to have confidence, which is then all it has.

When the entrepreneurs have transferred all their money abroad, it is called the seriousness of the situation. Advanced states come to terms with such situations easily; it is not like in minor robber states, in which gangs of thieves rob the suffering population. Corporations are also an important part of the national economy. The shareholder has two important rights: he provides the money, and he can join the opposition at the annual general meeting, and record something in the minutes, which doesn’t interest the board in the least. The corporations are essential for economic life: they provide preferential shares and seats on the supervisory board. Every corporation has a supervisory board, which considers what it is that it is supposed to supervise. The corporation is responsible to the supervisory board for paying their fees promptly. The reasons why the corporation is not in a position to pay any tax are published in the annual accounts.

The economy would not be an economy if we didn’t have the stock exchange. The stock exchange replaces the gaming rooms and restaurant for a group of excitable gentlemen; the pious ones also go to the synagogue. The stock exchange examines the state of the world economy every mid-day: it depends on the vision of the bank directors, who can usually see about as far as the end of their noses, which in some cases can be quite a long way. If the traders in the stock exchange shout more than usual, we say that the market is firm. In this case, the public hurries to the scene the next day, and gets involved, after all the best deals have been made. If the market is weak, the public participates the whole time. This is called customer service. The stock exchange has an economic function: without it, new jokes would circulate much slower.

The economy also contains clerical staff and workers, but the latest theories don’t deal with them.

In summary, we can conclude that the macro-economy is the metaphysics of poker players.

I hope that this information is of interest to you, and add that it is given, like all goods, contracts, payments, bills of exchange and all other commercial obligations: without obligation.


[1] Cheap pun: Importe is, or was, an exclusive and expensive imported cigar brand

Author: Kurt Tucholsky

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