Brown money or green money
We hear the public are crying out, “Where is the beef?” They have heard the Throne Speech, seen the Auditor-General's report; all they need now is to reconcile the two. Before going any farther, while it's obvious the country needs more money circulating in the economy, let's talk about the terms "brown money" and "green money".
Brown money is that money that we have become accustomed to, such as tourism and international business that has been already circulated by those industries. Green money is new money that circulates from a new commodity or industry as a foreign exchange that does not exist at present. It's new, it's green, it is the long-mooted third pillar that was so desperately needed after the base closures in the 1990s.
There is no problem trying to increase the circulation of brown money if it happens on its own and spontaneously, but if it is a capital expense, having hopes of being retired with the money already in the system, there is a problem.
In essence, it expands the pie, increases the completion vying for a piece of the brown money. However, it does have the benefit of an immediate economic stimulation but ends with some portion of the economy suffering and even dying.
It's a short-term fix, something like the short-term fix that occurs when in larger jurisdictions they lower corporate tax. Lower corporate tax and there is a surge of activity in the market, giving the appearance of an improved economy. The flaw in that approach becomes visible only when the infrastructure crumbles, and healthcare and education suffer.
Prudence will always side with new or green money, and a new industry that creates foreign exchange coming out of different areas not depending on, or necessarily related to, an existing business. A new industry could add to existing business but be totally independent in nature.
Of course, everyone who knows me knows I am talking about Bermuda becoming a commercial shipping hub. They will also know I am talking about an air cargo hub as a party to that arrangement. They will also know that building an infrastructure that includes a capacity for larger vessels also helps with the cruise industry; hence tourism.
It's important to mention because only one item mentioned as a stimulus is the moving of the Hamilton commercial docks to another location. Truly, moving the docks would trigger a surge of capital in its development phase and provide a better return for the waterfront property. However, in the grand scheme, will raise the cost of imports as either a direct or indirect expense to cover the cost of relocation.
Relocation cannot alter the paradigm for import of goods; in fact, it pegs import to a 20th-century model of shipping, when progressive nations are vying for a spot in the 21st-century model. Jamaica and the Bahamas are already there, while Cayman is heading that way.
The maritime jewel, once called for practical reasons the Admiralty of the Atlantic, is at half-throttle over the possibility of becoming an international hub — a status it held for 400 years. Meanwhile, the competitors in our neighbourhood are dashing full speed ahead to replace our significance.
The nature of the money isn’t the only precept challenging our future outlook and prosperity. It's also the nature of the direction of the economy that foreshadows where we are likely to end up. Either the private sector becomes the engine room for the revitalisation of the economy, or the Government is that engine room.
In this Western world and economic environment, the successful economies are driven largely by the private sector where the creation of wealth is available as a commodity of the private sector. In fact, that is the big picture for the history of the west. The other example is where government becomes the business driver.
Under a public-sector initiative, individual wealth is counterintuitive to the design because, rather than regulate, a government attempts to compete by usurping private initiative. The government may in such circumstances become richer, but the poor will remain poor and dependent on government.
Sad to say, in spite of the noble aspirations promoted by the Cuban Revolution, we see the end result of the government-inspired initiative. It is just the nature of the beast that government has to take a hostile position in the marketplace to be the redeeming factor. They are better when they let the private sector flow and take on that burden.