Archive for the ‘Financial Commentary’ Category:
Last week at its regular policy-setting meeting, the Federal Reserve announced it would double down on the policies that have failed to produce anything but a stagnant economy. It was a disappointing, but not surprising, move.
The Fed affirmed that it is prepared to increase its monthly purchases of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities if things don’t start looking up. But actually the Fed has already been buying more than the announced $85 billion per month. Between February and March, the Fed’s securities holdings increased $95 billion. From March to April, they increased $100 billion. In all, the Fed has pumped more than a half trillion dollars into the economy since announcing its latest round of “quantitative easing” (QE3) in September 2012.
Although many were up in arms when the Fed said it would buy $600 billion in government debt outright for the previous round, QE2, all seems quiet about the magnitude of QE3 because it doesn’t come with huge up-front total price tag. But by year’s end the Fed’s balance sheet could hit $4 trillion.
With no recovery in sight, where’s all this money going? It is creating bubbles. Bubbles in the housing sector, the stock market, and government debt. The national debt is fast approaching $17 trillion, with the Fed monetizing most of the newly issued debt. The stock market has been hitting record highs for the past two months as investors seek to capitalize on the Fed’s easy money. After all, as long as the Fed keeps the spigot open, nominal profits are there for the taking. But this is a house of cards. Eventually, just like in 2008-2009, the market will discipline the bad actions of the Fed and seek to find the real normal.
In the meantime, real families are suffering. While Wall Street and the government take advantage of access to the Fed’s new “free” money, the Fed claims there is no inflation. But who hasn’t paid higher prices at the grocery store, the gas pump, for tuition, for insurance? It’s bad enough that household incomes have stagnated, but real purchasing power has declined so much that one in seven Americans, 47.3 million people, are on food stamps. Five million are collecting unemployment insurance with 21.5 million afflicted by unemployment according to the government’s own figures. That’s 13.9 percent — close to double the 7.5 percent unemployment number reported last week.
We are certainly not in a recovery. We don’t see the long unemployment and soup kitchen lines like in the Great Depression, but that’s just because the lines are electronic now.
It is not surprising the Fed has decided to hand the American people more of the same failed policies. But it is disappointing. We know what the real solution is: allow the marketplace to work. Allow entrepreneurs the chance to create instead of stifling innovation with arbitrary regulations. Allow interest rates to rise to equal the risks in the economy. Allow bad debts to be liquidated so we can build on a firm foundation. Stop printing money to benefit the government and big banks. Restore sound money to the economy and the American people. Sound money is the bedrock for prosperity and the best check on big government and crony capitalism.
Economists who hold the popular view that expanding the money supply will provide the best medicine for our ailing economy dismiss the inflationary concerns of monetary hawks, like me, by pointing to the supposedly low inflation that has occurred during the current period of rampant Fed activism. In a recent blog post aimed specifically at me, Paul Krugman noted that the sub 2.5% increases in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) over the past few years are all that is needed to prove me wrong. In fact, Krugman and others have even suggested that the CPI itself overstates inflation and that the Fed would be better able to help the economy if less strict methodologies were used. However, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the CPI is essentially meaningless as it woefully under reports rising prices.
Magazines and newspapers provide a good case in point. The truth has not been exposed through the economic reporting that these outlets provide, but in the prices that are permanently fixed to their covers. For instance, from 1999 to 2002 the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s (BLS) “Newspaper and Magazine Index” (a component of the CPI) increased by 37.1%. But a perusal of the cover prices of the 10 most popular newspapers and magazines (WSJ, Washington Post, Time, Sports Illustrated, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People, NY Times, USA Today, and the LA Times) over the same time frame showed an average cover price increase of 131.5% (3.5 times faster than the BLS’ stats). This is not even in the same ballpark.
Some defenders of the BLS may conclude that prices were held down by the availability of free online news content or the convenience of digital delivery. But that is beside the point. Prior to the digital age, the BLS could have claimed that newspaper costs were held down by public libraries that provided free access. It’s also true that online publications deliver less value on some fronts. Not only do many people enjoy the tactile process of reading physical newspapers or magazines, but they offer the secondary value in helping to kindle fires, housebreak puppies, pack dishes, and line birdcages.
Another stunning example is found in health insurance costs, which is a major line item for most families. According to the BLS we can all breathe easy on that front because their “Health Insurance Index” increased a mere 4.3% (total) in the four years between 2008 and 2012. Interestingly, over the same time, the Kaiser Survey of Employer Sponsored Health Insurance showed that the cost of family health insurance rose 24.2% (5.5 times faster). But even if the BLS had reported higher costs, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference in the CPI itself. Believe it or not, health insurance costs are assigned a weighting of less than one percent of the overall CPI. In contrast, the Kaiser Survey revealed that in 2012 the average total cost for family health insurance coverage was $15,745, or almost one third of the median family income.
If the BLS could be so blatantly wrong in reporting the prices of newspapers and health insurance, should we believe that they are more accurate on all other sectors? If the inaccuracy of these two components were consistent with the rest of the CPI’s components, inflation could now be reported in double-digits!
Even more egregious than the manner in which prices are currently reported is the way that CPI methods have been changed over the years to insure that most increases are factored out. Since the 1970′s, the CPI formula has changed so thoroughly that it bears scant resemblance to the one used during the “malaise days” of the Carter years. Main stream economists dismiss criticism of the changes as tin hat conspiracy theories. But given the huge stakes involved, it’s hard to believe that institutional bias plays no role. Government statisticians are responsible for coming up with the formulas, and their bosses catch huge breaks if the inflation numbers come in low. Human behavior is always influenced by such incentives.
The newer CPI methodologies are designed to report not just on price movements, but on spending patterns, consumer choices, substitution bias, and product changes. In other words, the metrics have been altered to track not so much the cost of things, but the cost of living (or more accurately, the cost of surviving). But if you simply focus on price, especially on those staple commodity goods and services that haven’t radically changed in quality over the years, the under reporting of inflation becomes more apparent.
As reported in our Global Investor Newsletter, we selected BLS price changes for twenty everyday goods and services over two separate ten-year periods, and then compared those changes to the reported changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) over the same period. (The twenty items we selected are: eggs, new cars, milk, gasoline, bread, rent of primary residence, coffee, dental services, potatoes, electricity, sugar, airline tickets, butter, store bought beer, apples, public transportation, cereal, tires, beef, and prescription drugs.)
We know that people do not spend equal amounts on the above items, and we know their share of income devoted to them has changed over the decades. But as we are only interested in how these prices have changed relative to the CPI, those issues don’t really matter. We chose to look at the period between 1970 and 1980 and then again between 2002 and 2012, because these time frames both had big deficits and loose monetary policy, and they straddle the time in which the most significant changes to the CPI methodology took effect. And while the CPI rose much faster in the 1970′s, the degree to which the prices of our 20 items outpaced the CPI was much higher more recently.
Between 1970 and 1980 the officially reported CPI rose a whopping 112%, and prices of our basket of goods and services rose by 117%, just 5% faster. In contrast between 2002 and 2012 the CPI rose just 27.5%, but our basket increased by 44.3%, a rate that was 61% faster. And remember, this is using the BLS’ own price data, which we have already shown can grossly under-estimate the true rate of increase. The difference can be explained by how CPI is weighted and mixed. The formula used in the 1970′s effectively captured the price movements of our twenty everyday products. But in the last ten years it has been quite a different story.
If these price changes in our experiments had been fully captured, CPI could currently be high enough to severely restrict Fed action to stimulate the economy. Instead, the Fed is operating as if inflation is extremely low. As a result, they are making a huge policy mistake that will come back to haunt us. During the last decade the Fed spent many years denying the existence of a housing bubble, even as a mountain of evidence piled up to the contrary. That error caused the Fed to hold interest rates too low for too long, blowing more air into the bubble and imposing enormous negative consequences on the economy. The Fed, now similarly blind to the inflation threat, is repeating its mistake, only this time the negative consequences will be even more dire.
Apart from the statistical problems that hide inflation, there are also macroeconomic factors that have helped keep prices down despite the quantitative easing. Massive U.S. trade deficits and foreign central bank dollar accumulation mean that much of the printed money winds up in foreign bank vaults, not U.S. shopping centers. As foreign consumer goods flow in, and dollars flow out, a lid is kept on domestic prices. In effect, our inflation is exported as foreign central banks monetize our deficits and recycle their surpluses into U.S. Treasuries. The demand has pushed down bond yields which has allowed the U.S. government to borrow inexpensively. Of course, when the flows reverse, bond prices will fall, yields will climb, and a tidal wave of dollars will wash up on American shores, drowning consumers in a sea of inflation.
Unlike Krugman and the Keynesians, I would argue that it is impossible to create something from nothing. I believe that printing a dollar diminishes the value of all existing dollars by an aggregate amount equal to the purchasing power of the new dollar. The other side takes the position that the new money creates tangible economic growth and that real economic value can therefore be created by putting zeroes onto a piece of paper. I think that those making such absurd claims should bear the burden of proof. For more on the interesting topic of hidden inflation, see my video that I just posted.
Peter Schiff is the CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital, best-selling author and host of syndicated Peter Schiff Show.
By: Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital
25 years ago, on another Monday in late October, the financial world seemed to disintegrate in a heartbeat. Though the 205 point drop in the Dow last Friday (the technical anniversary of the ’87 Crash) was somewhat reminiscent of its 108-point drop on Friday, October 16, 1987, the real action in ’87 was on the Monday that followed. And while this Monday is not nearly as black, it is important that we use the opportunity to recall the circumstances that nearly sent the stock market into cardiac arrest.
While there were technical reasons that allowed the snowball to gather so much mass, it was major economic problems that started it rolling. Those issues remain to this day, but have grown much, much larger. But while they terrified the market 25 years ago, they don’t rate a second look today. Whether investors have gotten wise, or merely oblivious, is the question we should be asking.
Though most simply remember the 1987 Crash as one panicked selling day, Black Monday was just the largest drop in a string of bad days. On the Wednesday before, the Dow sold off 95 points (then a record) and dropped another 58 points on the Thursday. On Friday the selling got worse, with the Dow setting another record with a 108 point drop. After thinking about it over the weekend, investors decided to preserve what remained of their gains by selling on Monday. Unfortunately, everyone got the same idea at the same time.
It is true that the Crash was in some ways a technical phenomenon. As of August of 1987, stocks had surged 75% from January 1986, and 40% from January 1987. After such an upswing, it was inevitable that investors were on edge. Rather than taking profits, many on Wall Street instead hedged their positions using the new, and largely untested, trading programs that were designed to put a floor under losses if the markets turned south. But when the selling came in waves, the machines went into overdrive. Selling begat selling and an automated rout ensued. When the dust settled, the Dow was down 22% in a single day.
If that was all there was to the story, we would be left with a neat cautionary tale about the folly of placing too much faith in machines. But that is a distracting sideshow. In truth, the market was spooked by concerns over international trade and government debt, which then became known as the “twin deficits.” After widening earlier in the 80′s, investors had hoped that these gaps would come under control. But as Ronald Reagan’s second term wore on, those hopes faded.
From 1982 to 1986, the U.S. trade deficit had expanded 475%from $24 billion to $138 billion. Most economists blamed the trend on the dollar gains in the early 1980′s, which had apparently made U.S. products uncompetitive. As it was assumed that a weakened dollar would solve the problem, in 1985 the leading western democracies and Japan announced the Plaza Accords to systematically push down the dollar against the Japanese yen and the Deutsche mark. By 1987, the plan had “succeeded” devaluing the dollar 51% against the yen. But by the second half of that year it became apparent that the Plaza Accord had failed in its real mission to cut down on the U.S. trade deficit. Despite the plunging dollar, the deficit expanded that year by another 10% to $152 billion.
At around that time, the U.S. government budget deficits also became a major concern. Everyone remembers Ronald Reagan as a small government champion, but many conveniently forget that he presided over a significant expansion in government spending. Federal deficits rose 199% from 1980 ($74 billion) to 1986 ($221 billion). Although the deficit came down to $150 billion in 1987, many were frustrated that it remained stubbornly high by historic standards.
As early as August of 1987, concern over the twin deficits, which together accounted for 6.4% of the nation’s $4.76 trillion GDP became critical. Given the prior run up in stocks, this was enough to convince many investors to head towards the exits. Before Black Monday (October 19), the Dow had already declined 18% from its August peak.
When we look back at those events from the current perspective, it almost seems comical. Government deficits now approach $1.5 trillion annually and annual trade deficits exceed $500 billion. Today’s twin deficits now add up to more than 13% of current GDP (twice the level of 1987). But today’s investors are largely untroubled. Oftentimes news of a falling dollar and wider deficits will spark a stock rally, and the issues barely rate a mention in a presidential debate.
Are investors today simply more sophisticated than they were then? Have they lost an irrational fear of deficits? To the contrary, I believe that we have arrived at a point where money printing and government stimulus has replaced manufacturing and private sector productivity as the foundation of our economy (see my lead commentary in the October 2012 edition of the Euro Pacific Global Investor Newsletter for more on this). As a result, most investors are now blind to the dangers of deficits. But that does not mean that they don’t exist.
When America’s creditors wake up, particularly those foreign governments now shouldering the lion’s share of the burden, concerns over our twin deficits will return with a vengeance. As the problems now loom larger than ever, so too will the economic and market implications when the issues come to a head. Interest rates will surge and the dollar will fall. But the U.S. economy is not nearly as well equipped as in 1987 to withstand the stresses. Given the relative size of our imbalances, the manner in which they are being financed, and the diminished state of our manufacturing sector, higher interest rates and a weaker dollar will exact a much greater toll.
Despite this, I do not believe that the stock market is as vulnerable to another Black Monday. With the Federal Reserve so committed to its current course of quantitative easing, it seems to me unlikely that they will allow such a steep one-day drop. Also, with bond yields so low, domestic investors are currently presented with fewer attractive options. If anything, the next Black Monday is more likely to occur in the currency and/or bond markets, with safe haven flows moving into gold not treasuries.
Euro Pacific Capital, Inc.
10 Corbin Drive, Suite B
Darien, Ct. 06840
In the wake of my last commentary on the horrendous Supreme Court decision upholding Obama’s health care plan, several people have pointed out that I erred in saying that the income tax is a “direct tax.” While it is technically correct that the Court ultimately declared it to be an excise, not a direct tax, it is important to understand how it arrived at that opinion and why the decision has no practical relevance to the way the tax has been enforced. Just as it has done with Obamacare, the Court came up with a technically constitutional pathway to allow the government to collect a tax in a blatantly unconstitutional manner.
In the 1895 Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan and Trust case, the Supreme Court declared the original Income Tax of 1894 unconstitutional because it imposed a direct tax that was not apportioned to the states according to the taxing provisions of the Constitution. For example it said that a tax on rental income is the same as direct tax on the property that produced the income. In other words, a tax on income was tantamount to a tax on its source.
To get around this, in 1913 Congress passed, and the state governments ratified, the 16th Amendment that authorized a tax on income from whatever source derived without regard to apportionment. However, in 1916 the Supreme Court ruled in Brushaber v. Union Pacific Rail Road that the Amendment “conferred no new taxing power to the Federal government,” and that it “contained nothing challenging or repudiated its ruling in the Pollock case.” Instead, the Court said that in order to be constitutionally taxed as an excise, income must first be separated from its source. A few years later in Eisner v. Macomber (1918) and Merchants Loan and Trust v. Smietanka (1921) the Court provided a practical guide to doing just that, by defining income, for purposes of the Sixteenth Amendment, as a corporate profit.
A corporation determines profit by subtracting its expenses from its income. The difference, called profit, could then be subject to an income tax. So if a corporation has rental income, but derives no profit after backing out all of its expenses, then the rents, and therefore the property, are not taxed. In that respect, the income is separated from the sources that produced it. Were it not for this separation, a tax on rents, dividends, fees, etc. would be a direct tax on the sources of income, as described by Pollock, Brushaber, Eisner and Smietanka. That is why many U.S. corporations can have billions of dollars of income but pay no tax, because they derive no profits from that income. This proves the income tax is, in reality, a profits tax.
The problem is that the modern income tax is not merely being levied as an excise tax on corporate profits, but as an unapportioned direct tax on the personal income of every American. This is precisely what the Supreme Court has repeatedly held to be unconstitutional. Yet lower courts have serially ignored the reasoning behind these Supreme Court decisions and have allowed the Federal Government to impose a tax in the precise manner that the Supreme Court ruled it lacked the constitutional authority to do.
The Founding Fathers made it difficult for Congress to levy direct taxes because they considered the more easily avoidable excise taxes to be self-correcting as to abuse. They also wanted to make it more difficult for poorer states to vote for taxes that would be paid disproportionately by wealthier states. As a result, they believed that during peacetime the Federal Government would rely primarily on excise taxes and would resort to direct taxes mainly during wartime.
To levy an apportioned direct tax on personal income, Congress would first have to decide how much it wanted to raise and then assign each state its pro-rata share. So a $1 trillion dollar income tax would require Mississippi and Connecticut (each with about 1% of the U.S. population) to pay about $10 billion. However since per capita income in Connecticut is 80% higher than it is in Mississippi, federal income tax rates in Mississippi would have to be 80% higher than the rates in Connecticut. This makes it less likely that Mississippi would support such a tax. But given the way the income tax is currently enforced, Mississippi happily votes for levies that fall predominately on residents of wealthier states. This is precisely what the Constitution was written to prevent.
Just as a tax on land based solely on its rental income is the same as a direct tax on the land itself, a tax on individuals based solely on their decision not to buy health insurance is a direct tax on individuals. To get around this, Chief Justice Roberts ruled that the new healthcare tax is indirect because not everyone will have to pay it. However, the percentage of people ultimately subject to a tax does not determine into which category it falls. Less than two percent of Americans were subject to the original income tax, yet the court still viewed it as a direct tax.
The bottom line is that the Supreme Court has a history of giving the government latitude to get around the Constitution. Instead of looking at the intent of legislation (even when the legislators are alive to be asked), or even its practical effect, the Court looks for any legal technicality upon which to base a ruling of constitutionality. That is what happened with the income tax, and is now occurring with the Affordable Care Act. Had the Supreme Court been more forthright with the income tax, the country would not now be suffering from a destructive and pervasive tax that was originally intended to be a small levy targeted only at the top 1% of American earners.
Remember, the Court’s sole rationale for ruling the exactions in the Affordable Care Act are taxes rather than penalties was its belief that the taxes are too low to actually compel anyone to buy health insurance. This made it consistent with the Court’s view that Congress lacks the authority, under the commerce clause, to compel Americans to buy health insurance. If the Court believed that the tax was actually high enough to leave Americans with no rational choice, Roberts would have ruled it unconstitutional. This may be the one thing the Court got right.
However, once the government realizes that it has underpriced the fines, it will certainly raise the tax rate substantially to stop healthy people from rationally dropping their coverage (because insurance companies could not deny them similarly priced coverage after they got sick). Just as they routinely do now with respect to the income taxes, the lower courts will likely misinterpret the Supreme Court’s ruling and rubber stamp any future rate hikes. For political reasons it is unlikely that a Constitutional challenge to such an increase will ever make it back up to the Supreme Court.
This leaves us few good options. Unless Congress repeals the legislation quickly we will likely have to live with it for a long, long time. Sadly, despite the Romney and the Republicans’ promises to do just that with election victories this fall, there is virtually no precedent for government giving up a power that it has fought to take. In the end Americans will be forced to purchase health insurance in the manner the Supreme Court just ruled to be unconstitutional.
*The media company created by Peter Schiff that produces this show is not affiliated with Euro Pacific Capital.
The political left wing has long tried to cast doubt on the fairness, and even the efficacy, of free market capitalism by branding it as a “trickle down” system. This epithet is meant to show how the middle and lower classes are dependent on scraps of wealth that happen to fall from the buffet table of the rich. This characterization of an unfair and inefficient system has helped them demonize policies that lower taxes (if they also extend to the wealthy) and reduce regulation on business.
To correct these supposed problems, they have long called for policies to redistribute wealth or for government to inject funds directly into the economy. Either mechanism puts money into the hands of everyday consumers who they claim to be the true engines of economic growth. They believe that consumer spending lies at the root of the economic pyramid. When people spend, business owners are able to sell more products, hire more workers, and reap more profits. In essence, they believe in a system of “trickle up” economics, whereby prosperity flows upward from government into the lower and middle classes and ultimately to the upper class.
Conversely, they argue, if consumers aren’t buying, business sales decline and workers lose jobs. The jobless spend less than the employed, putting even more pressure on businesses. This leads into a vicious cycle of falling sales and increased unemployment. They believe that if a shock is not applied to reverse the cycle it is possible for an economy to regress, in theory, right back to the Stone Age. Using such logic, it is easy to identify the foundation upon which the economy rests: it’s the spending, stupid. Some progressives have likened this process to a natural ecosystem wherein government spending is the rain that makes grass grow. The grass attracts zebras and antelopes (consumers), which then offer sustenance to the lions (capitalists).
If this is your diagnosis, then your prescription should be patently obvious: restore the demand lost through unemployment and get people spending again. How to accomplish this is also equally simple: take the money from the rich who really aren’t using it anyway. Without entering into a parallel discussion of fairness, demand side economists simply see the redistribution of money from the rich as a way to generate economic growth, which benefits society as a whole. As they see it, the rich have more money than they need to satisfy their own personal demand. No matter how rich, a single individual can only eat in so many restaurants, buy so many cars, or go see so many movies. The money they don’t spend is saved instead, thereby sucking needed demand out of the economy. In contrast, the lower and middle classes spend a much higher percentage of their net worth. To break the vicious cycle, all that is needed is to direct these idle funds where it will be spent rather than saved. In a June 19th Wall Street Journal cover story, reporter Jon Hilsenrath underscores this point in explaining why the impact of the Fed’s low interest rate policies are being weakened by the current preference for high credit score borrowers. Says Hilsenrath, “Financially secure households are less likely than lower-income households to spend their interest rate savings. Wealthier households are more likely to save or invest.”
A policy prescription such as this is seductive. It allows people to advocate a moral position (it’s a shame that the poor don’t have as much as the rich) in purely practical terms (redistribution creates economic growth). And if spending is the panacea, then government can easily wipe out suffering, even if they lack the political ability to raise taxes. After all, what stops them from printing all the money needed for people to spend the economy back to health? According to Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, only the political cynicism of Republicans, who try to wring votes out of Americans’ misplaced hopes for upward mobility and their stubborn fixation on thrift, prevents this painless and readily available cure.
But as usual, they have it exactly backwards. The savings that they find so unproductive is actually the foundation upon which the economy rests. Nothing can be consumed until it is produced. The act of spending is meaningless without something to buy. The savings of the rich forms the capital that funds business investment which increases productivity. The more that society produces, the more that can be consumed. The key here is the supply, not the demand. The grass that feeds the zebras comes from seeds, not rain. Capitalists provide the surplus seeds that are planted.
Demand always exists and does not need to be stimulated by cash redistribution. 21st century Americans are no more desirous of cell phones than their parents were. But in 1980 cell phones were in very limited supply and were therefore very expensive. They were the trophy possessions of the super-rich. The reason why they are now as ubiquitous as key chains is not that government stimulated demand, but that industry figured out how to supply them far more efficiently. The supply satisfied the demand. Investment in the telecom sector, which came from real savings of Americans, allowed for that increased productivity.
In this example, the savings of the wealthy and the innovation of entrepreneurs combined to create a huge benefit for society. Call it trickle down if you want, but it would be more honest to simply call it effective. This is the system that built this country. Relying on trickle up will surely destroy it.
Excerpted from the new economic bestseller, The Real Crash
By Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Precious Metals
Today, we’re accustomed to thinking of small greenish paper rectangles as the definition of money, and we think of the US government as the only source of money. To honestly discuss sound money, we need to realize where our current money customs came from.
At first, it was every man for himself. You ate or wore what you could pick or catch.
Barter was the first advance. If you had some extra meat, and your neighbor had an extra fur, you might make a direct exchange. If food, water, clothing, and simple tools are the only goods on the market, barter is fine – you can always find someone who has what you want and wants what you have.
But as soon as there’s basic manufacturing and prosperity begins increasing, barter becomes inadequate. Say you’re a hunter and you want a bed, but the only bedmaker in town is a vegetarian. What do you do then? You would have to figure out what the bedmaker wanted (maybe tofu), and then find someone who had tofu and wanted meat. If you couldn’t find that person, you would have to find a fourth person (someone who wanted meat, and had the hats that the tofu maker wanted), or try to convince the vegetarian bedmaker to take the meat and trade it for something else.
Meat, however, spoils, and so the bedmaker would have to unload it pretty quickly. So, unable to get your hands on anything the bedmaker wants to consume, you trade your meat for some salt and approach the bedmaker.
“Look, I know you don’t want salt, but think of all the people who do. They use it to preserve their meat and flavor their soup. And this stuff is nonperishable, so you can hold it as long as you want. And if, when the tofu dealer comes through town, he doesn’t want salt, you can explain to him what I’ve explained to you – he can use it to buy something he wants.”
If you and the bedmaker agree, you’ve just created money. Organically, more people in your community begin taking salt for payment, even if they have no intention to use it, because they know others will accept it.
But – and this is important – the value of salt money is not entirely dependent on other people accepting it as payment. If, for some reason, folks stopped taking salt as payment, you could use it as, well, salt.
Salt was a pretty good currency, especially before refrigeration, because it was widely demanded, divisible down to the grain, very portable, easy to weigh, and could easily be tested for counterfeit by tasting it. Romans used salt for money.
But just because salt served as money didn’t mean there would be no other form of money in circulation. Tobacco leaves might be widely accepted as payment. So might gold or silver.
The Greatest Invention Ever?
The point is that money arises naturally in society, as a way of aiding in voluntary economic transactions. It was one of the greatest inventions ever. Money not only made it easier for people to buy what they wanted, it also made saving much more possible – you could accumulate excess money to spend at a later point.
While saving is frowned upon by the elites today, it’s an essential element in economic progress. By making it easier for people to save, money did two crucial things. First, it inspired more industriousness: there was now incentive to work harder to earn more in a day than you could spend in a day. Second, savings enabled ambitious entrepreneurs to make big capital investments: labor-saving machines, warehouses, transportation.
If the saver didn’t have any big plans in mind for his money, he could still make it productive by lending it out. Finance was nearly impossible without money. Sure, you could give your neighbor a pig this year in exchange for a pig and a chicken next year, but there would be a lot more opportunity for squabbling (“this pig isn’t as healthy as the pig I gave you last year”).
With a commodity money, where there is little or no deviation in quality, and using universal, objective measures, like weight, you can lend with the confidence that what you get back will be of the same quality as what you loaned out.
Money also made specialization more practical. If you were really good at one thing – manufacturing nails (to borrow Adam Smith’s famous example) – you could make a living just by making nails. Without money, someone who spent his whole day making nails would have to find (a) someone with excess food who wanted nails, (b) someone with excess shelter who wanted nails, (c) someone with clothes to spare who also wanted nails at that moment, and so on.
Once money is introduced, the nail seller only needs to find (a) people with money who want nails, and (b) different people with everything the nail seller needs who want money. Facilitating specialization creates efficiencies, as folks get to divide up labor according to skill and interest.
In countless ways, money improves society.
In the past, different types of commodity money competed. Salt had its advantages, but also disadvantages – you had to keep it dry, it was easy to spill. In Rome, rising sea levels made it much harder to get salt over the years.
Meanwhile, gold had a lot going for it. It’s fairly easy to store. Like salt, it’s easy to divide, but also easy to combine: you can make blocks, or coins of different weights or denominations, which can be standardized. It doesn’t rust. It doesn’t tarnish or undergo other unpleasant reactions with chemicals.
Like any money, gold has underlying value. Mostly, we think of its decorative value – across nearly every culture, gold is considered beautiful. Women love it, and pleasing women’s fancies is universally considered a good thing. It has industrial uses due to its resistance to corrosion and how thin it can be hammered.
Gold is also rare enough to be valuable, but plentiful enough that it can be widely circulated. Its supply grows, but never very quickly.
No authority had to declare gold to be money. It arose as a good medium of exchange, and in many cases it won out in competition against other moneys. It didn’t always win out to the exclusion of other types of money, but it was probably the most successful money ever, thanks not to some order from above, but thanks to gold’s own attributes.
This is very important: money doesn’t come from government; it comes from civil society.
From “The Real Crash” by Peter D. Schiff. Copyright © 2012 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC. Click here to order from Amazon
Peter Schiff is CEO of Euro Pacific Precious Metals, a gold and silver dealer selling reputable, well-known bullion coins and bars at competitive prices.
Many people became convinced that data releases earlier this year indicated that “recovery” in the U.S. was imminent. But as I have been saying for months, this evidence would ultimately be shown to be as reliable as sightings of Bigfoot. Lots of people claim to say they have seen it, some even produce plaster footprints, but in the end all we have is a guy in an ape suit. The economic recovery, that has been discussed so loudly and often in recent months, will be shown to be similarly mythical.
A torrent of recent economic data now reveals weakness, and investors are beginning to take notice. Today’s release of the May jobs report showed a paltry 69,000 jobs created during the month, far below consensus estimates. Not only did the current month disappoint, but the June numbers were also revised down by 49,000. This release follows yesterday’s downward revisions of first quarter GDP growth from 2.2% to 1.9%. Also lost in the headlines was that the savings rate dropped to 3.4% in April, the lowest rate since December 2007. This shows that Americans may need to deplete their already meager savings just to keep their heads above water as the U.S. economy sinks back into recession.
The bad news sent stocks swooning. The latest sell off brings the S&P 500 down close to 10% from its levels in early April. On the other hand, bonds have reached record highs as investors seek safety in treasuries. However, I believe that treasuries will turn out to be the Facebook of safe havens. Before Facebook went public everyone wanted a piece of the action. But once the allure wore off, and people realized they owned shares of an overhyped company with unreliable earnings and a sky high valuation, the shares quickly lost a good deal of their appeal. Despite the best efforts of the media to declare the end of gold’s appeal, the metal continues to shine. Today’s reportalso sent gold up nearly 4 per cent. Gold is now down just 3 per cent from May 1, a period that has been horrific for other asset classes.
Oil prices continue to slide as traders brace for a fall-off in global demand that will come from the return of a global recession. What these traders fail to understand is that the recession will likely be resisted by central banks around the world with massive money printing. Such action will be much more likely to push oil prices back up to levels higher than those seen before the recent downturn. Yes recession means consumers will use a lot less oil, but inflation created by the central banks means that they will likely pay a lot more to purchase it.
In recent months as turmoil bubbled across the debt markets of Europe, the United States had beckoned as a safe haven. But in truth, the problems are as bad, if not worse, on this side of the Atlantic. Ironically, America has not had to deal with its day of reckoning because lesser problems surfaced first in Europe. But when Europe comes to some modest resolution of its problems, or when bond investors realize they have jumped from the frying pan into the fire, there will be no hiding from the unresolved problems here.
As the intoxicating effects of Fed stimulus wear off, the hangover is setting in. To delay the pain, I believe that there can be little doubt that the Fed will unleash its next round of stimulus, in the form of QE3. My guess is the Fed has always known more QE was needed but it has been waiting for the most politically palatable time to announce it. That “stunner” can’t be far off with the data so bad and the elections so near.
Eventually more people will figure out just how precarious America’s fiscal position truly remains. That’s when interest rates will finally rise in the U.S. There is no way to justify record low interest rates in this country given our atrocious fiscal position. I believe interest rates here should approach levels comparable to the more indebted European countries. Once it becomes obvious just how many dollars the Fed is prepared to print to stave off recession, people running into treasuries today will likely suffer buyer’s remorse. When they rethink their assumptions, as buyers of the Facebook IPO clearly have, the Fed will then become not just the buyer of last resort, but the buyer of only resort. Then the Real Crash may finally be upon us.
- Peter Schiff C.E.O. and Chief Global Strategist
Euro Pacific Capital, Inc.
10 Corbin Drive, Suite B
Darien, Ct. 06840
By: Jim Willie CB, GoldenJackass.com
The so-called Global Financial Crisis is a term so widely used that it has earned its own acronym of GFC. When first seen, it seemed like girl friend club or some such, since many friends use GF loosely to refer to sweethearts. The GFC is falsely named, since it is more accurately described as a global monetary war with the USGovt vigorously defending its franchise in the USDollar for crude oil and trade settlement, and for bank reserves management. Take either away, and the other departs quickly, leaving the United States vulnerable to a quick ticket to the Third World marred by price inflation and supply shortage, even isolation in ring fences. On its own devices, the US is in as bad shape as the worst of the PIGS nations. The USGovt debt is above 100% of GDP finally. The annual deficit of $1.5 trillion could not be financed in normal methods. So the USFed is the adopted buyer of last resort, purchasing over 80% of new and recycled US debt issuance. The Interest Rate Swap tool acts like a hydraulic howitzer, in pushing down the long-term interest rates by creating false artificial demand. Without the IRSwap contract, a Morgan Stanley specialty, the US interest rates would be 6% to 7% just like Spain and Italy. The USTreasury Bond is not a safe haven, but rather a place where Weimar printing press operations persist, where decisions like SWIFT code rules are enforced like a illicit weapon, where billboards are painted to attract embattled investors of impaired toxic sovereign bonds from Southern Europe to retreat to the supposed safe haven of USTBonds.
WEAPON FOR INFLICTION
The USDollar has become the Weapon of Mass Self-Destruction. Three years ago, the Jackass made a statement frequently, that the first nations to depart from usage of the USDollar for exclusive trade and reserve bank operations will be the leaders in the next chapter. That list of insurgent nations is being defined right here and now. Those who remain committed to the US$ in trade and banking will put themselves at risk of systemic collapse and on a direct path on a slippery slope to the Third World. As the pace of capital destruction continues from the US$ conduit, lifting the cost structure as the debt monetization continues, the global economy will continue to falter. In the West witness the economic recession. As the USGovt raises the pressure on rebels on the world stage that refuse to comply with the USDollar Club, supported by the USMilitary that seems never to question the wisdom of directives from on high, the stress level to the entire global financial and monetary system is shaken severely. In the East witness the stall from the Western drag. The biggest blind spot among economists, whom the Jackass has unabashed bold disdain toward, has been that the ultra-low near 0% official rate has been the steady persistent cause of capital destruction and a guarantee for recession.
How tragic that economists cannot comprehend either capital formation or capital destruction under their arrogant noses! They talk of tax tweaks, of currency manipulation charges, of stimulus packages that lack effective elements, of focus on the wrong sides like consumption and retail spending. They focus on soft fluff such as inflation expectations, when the Treasury Investment Protection Securities are actually monetized by fresh money output in QE sidebar programs. No protection there! They focus on a CPI distorted to the extreme, as though it contained a shred or legitimacy. The frequent calls for more USFed bond purchases is heard, as if it is the core cure for financial market stupor. The QE bond purchases are the cancer in the body financial. The US economists are a lost bunch. The USEconomy is not the site of capitalism and economic development. It is the site of the Fascist Business Model put to practice, where preservation of large corrupted insolvent banks is given a national priority, where liquidation of insolvent broken systems such as certain financial markets and big banks is avoided at all costs. The US is the site of chronic asset collateralization and credit extension in order to support consumption to the point of systemic breakdown. Home equity raids were followed by home foreclosures, a shock to the clueless economist crew. Economists have litlte comprehension of economics, as seen by the clown hack Paul Krugman receiving a Nobel Prize. He is the absurd foppish captain of a doomed ship, elevated before its sinking. The USGovt debt, like most US State debt, like most big US bank balance sheets, like Fannie Mae debt, like AIG debt, is unsustainable, broken, in a process of collapse, all supported by the constant and high volume output of the monetary press managed by the US Federal Reserve.
Gold is becoming the Device of Financial Self-Determination, since it is free from debt and counter-party risk. The value and role of Gold has become well recognized in the last few years, especially since the financial crisis broke wide open in the summer 2007. It seems strangely obvious that Gold is money and the USDollar is not. As money flees for safety in Europe, England, and the United States, the story not told is that the monetary system is crumbling. The process has been underway since Greece broke down in December 2009, following the Dubai World debt bust. For two years, the Hat Trick Letter has been warning that Greece was simply the much smaller opening act. The real climax events in Europe would be Italy and Spain, whose government bonds are also captive wards of the Euro Central Bank state. The EuroCB acts more and more like an elite independent state, even with occasional defiance to the Germans and their Bundesbank stellar central bank, chock full of integrity, expertise, and tradition. Unfortunately, the Bundesbank signed on with the European Monetary Union as the Clydesdale horse without a side horse partner of equal strength and durability to pull the Euro stagecoach. Therefore, the ill-designed team in front steered left into the ravine. Next comes the abyss without the horse of Teutonic breed at all.
The major players of the world have three major complaints on USDollar management:
1) unilateral decisions to conduct debt monetization by the USFed (debased)
2) bond fraud centered on mortgage securities, exported globally (cancer)
3) endless war with ulterior motives too numerous to specify (aggression).
The USFed never consults with victims of its monetary policy. They are scolded by them instead, after reading of the next Quantitative Easing initiative. In the real world, QE never ended. It became Global QE, appeared as Operation Twist deviously, and lately in my opinion is basically QE to Infinity. When the Dollar Swap Facility unleashed $3 trillion in loans to rescue the many broken big European banks, the impact on Chinese reserves or Brazilian reserves or Russian reserves or Korean reserves seemed very secondary and unimportant in the large scheme to preserve the USDollar Franchise system. It is breaking apart. The USFed unleashed another $2.5 trillion onto the domestic banking system, mostly to Wall Street. The debasement effect has been staggering and deeply damaging.
When obvious bond fraud in the multiple $trillions occurred, some expected justice. Not the Jackass, who noted that all prosecutions were outside Manhattan, and that within Wall Street only patsies were selected for prosecution to make an example and to establish a facade for taking firm action. The credibility of legal remedy is absent. The greater hope has centered upon the many investor lawsuits against the Wall Street banks. They will continue forever. No justice will come to the US bankers for their unprecedented white collar crime that has contributed to the systemic failure of the nation. Only with tribunals after the default.
The war front is hardly defensive in nature. It is more offensive with hidden motives. This is a delicate topic. All too often a motive has to do with preserving the USDollar usage or to obtain gold in large volume. The Libyan liberation seemed to put Qaddafi away, but the national treasury in 144 tons of gold bullion still resides in London. The conditions for its return to Libya in my view will never be met. Call my cynical, when my preference is pragmatic realist. The Iran sanctions and saber rattling are 95% about protecting the USDollar, and 5% about their nuclear refinement development. A much bigger risk was the missing former Soviet warheads, but the USGovt made no rumblings about it on the global stage 10 to 15 years ago.
The Global QE (aka QE to Infinity) put into first gear the backfire against the US. Nations around the world resented higher food, commodity, and industry input costs. On June 28th, the SWIFT bank code law goes into force to obstruct transactions. The abuse of SWIFT codes against enemies and allies alike has taken the backfire into second gear. Big strategic mistakes are being made. The G20 nations have a brain trust in the BRICS core, which has decided to pursue an alternative method of trade settlement. They describe a method to satisfy trade obligations and payments. They describe a departure from exclusive US$ settlement. They actually are working on a rival SWIFT code system from Asia, without the name. It will soon match the Western SWIFT system stride for stride in rivalry. Bigger bank centers in Asia will arise, including perhaps maritime insurance, as crippled Lloyds pulls out. Soon expect to see an Eastern SWIFT system, that China hints might be gold-backed. The main body of trade to test the new system will be on crude oil sales. The entire trade settlement system on bank payments is on the verge of a major schism, a split away from the US-dominated methods.
The several bilateral Iranian oil deals pushed the movement toward a more organization system in a backfire against the United States. The USGovt has effectively accelerated the global response to replace the USDollar in trade settlement. The misguided SWIFT weapon usage encouraged several US allies to entertain the new Eastern alternative, so that at a later date it will be embraced and used more widely. The poor chess move by the USGovt on the table sacrifices the queen. It is unclear what the next move will be to put the USDollar in checkmate. It could be a Saudi announcement to accept non-US$ for oil payments, but alongside the continued US$ usage. After all, the sand empire sitting on crude oil has new protectors in China & Russia, rendering the US a marginalized bully. The end of the Petro-Dollar will be the coup de grace for the USDollar exclusivity. The writing is more clearly written on the container vessel walls crossing the oceans than ever in the last four decades.
SHOCK & AWE INSIDE CENTRAL EUROPE
HAT TRICK LETTER NEWS FLASH: a German banker contact informs that as a result of a high level meeting in Germany (not in the news), a decision has been made for France to exit the Euro currency first. They are ordered out. Regardless of whether Hollande displaces Sarkozy for the president post, the French have been instructed as to how business will be conducted. No other information, like whether France will revert to the Franc currency and not risk a severe Latin Euro devaluation after Germany and Netherlands depart. My impression is that Germany will launch a new currency very soon. Perhaps they wished for France to take some of the attention and to begin the chaotic process. The contact has consistently stated that France would not be included from the new Nordic Euro, an exlusive core group of Central European nations that qualify by having a current account surplus. French debt is too great, and likely to soon expand much worse. He said France would become a ward of the German state, with dictated policy and direction. Bear in mind that Germany owns of 90% of the French Govt debt. It remains to be seen whether France will assume the lead position among the PIGS, whose nations will all go adrift. Rumors of a Latin Euro Central Bank located in Marseilles were once spun.
Sorry, Bob Chapman. This is not simply from one of your subscribers. The subscriber took it from an unique sole news flash in the April Hat Trick Letter, taken and reported without attribution. It seems to be a common research and editor tool for the International Forecaster, and the main reason why we do not share newsletters anymore. This example is not the first, not the second, not the third, not the fourth, not the fifth time of occurrence. We analysts in the gold camp share, stick together, and form a team. Some are not team members when they consistently engage in the sleazy practice of intentionally avoiding attribution where due. The Jackass has been guilty of minor infractions like snagging a great graph and writing over a copyright or website URL address. But the Prudent Squirrel and others forgive me. When it comes to an analytic point of importance, never does the Jackass take it, claim it, or avoid attribution. Citations abound in my reports. Oftentimes, analytic points are shared as they come to the surface, and attribution is not required. It is a difficult task, a frequent challenge for the Jackass as editor, to give attribution and credit where due.
A major reliable long-standing source of information on Central Europe and gold trades has provided me with information on France. One is left with conjecture, speculative analysis, and deep challenge. My belief is that France has been offered something important, like financial support in return for leading the broken chaotic Southern European nations. France might start a Latin Euro Central Bank soon with some measure of German support. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard mentioned this concept a year ago. Its credible merit will be revealed soon. France resembles the nations of Italy and Spain far more than Germany. With the socialist Hollande taking over the reins of power, expect much larger deficit spending, higher bond yields, more strains on their economy, even the flight of capital, possibly bank runs. Then it will be obvious that France is the King of the PIGS. Germany might also have wanted to put France in the spotlight, while the German industrial leaders and bank leaders forge their next big accord and create an alliance more formally with Russia and China. An eastern-based barter system is in the works. The G20 non-US$ payment system will establish much of its manifested workings, with wiring and linkage to be made known as the months pass.
SHOCK WAVES IN FOREX
Enormous shock waves are coming to the Euro. More questions are raised than answers, many dealt with in the Hat Trick Letter. Will Spain and Italy revert to the Peseta and Lira former currencies, or stick together during assaults? Will Greece revert to the Drachma and defy the bankers who woud lose bigtime? Will the Germans unleash their bank bailout and invite the separation from the South, sure to topple numerous big European banks? What timing will come for the new Euro Mark currency to be launched by Germany? Will the new Euro Mark (or Nordic Euro) currency be a primary vehicle to settle trade with Russia? Will the Euro Mark have a gold component? How long before the Chinese Yuan is made fully convertible? Will the convertible Yuan be an advertised precursor for a gold-backed Yuan, used in G20 trade settlement? Will it be the basis of the new Eastern SWIFT bank system? Will the Yuan be the new basis for Eastern trade settlement? Will the Russians take advantage of the controlled storm surge and announce their own backed Ruble currency, perhaps backed by gold, silver, oil, and natural gas? Will the Arabs exploit the timing and announce their long desired Gold Dinar?
To be sure, a group of simultaneous new strong currency alternatives for trade settlement will ensure their survival and successful launch. They would benefit from critical mass and absent isolation. They do not wish to become victims of their own success, with rising exchange rates and consequent damage to export trade. The US relies upon renegade nations not going it alone, suffering the harmful effect of a better currency. If done together, the new launches would act like a strong broad well fortified craft and not a floating raft. The outsiders looking in will be the United States and England. Expect Australia to sign on with China, a major trade partner and owner of port infrastructure Down Under. Since heavy importers and exporters of toxic bonds, the US & UK will struggle to bid up the new Euro Mark, the new Chinese Yuan, and possibly the new Russian Ruble and new Gold Dinar. The certain death knell for the USDollar will be the acceptance on non-US$ payment for Saudi crude oil.
REBIRTH OF EURASIA
Germany has decided to look Eastward, and to cut some ties with the US & Anglo platforms that are unmistakenly breaking down. The Eastern Alliance has been cited in the Hat Trick Letter scribbles several times. The German engineering expertise, financial acumen, and organization skills have been put to work behind the curtains, free from US/British sabotage. They are working to create an alliance that brings to bear the profound Russian commodity, mineral, and energy resource wealth together with the vast Chinese wealth and factory persence. Many projects are in the works, but train lines from Russia to Germany. The oil pipelines are nearing completion, for energy delivery to Central Europe. The three nations will serve as the core to the alliance, which has been given assurance by the Persian Gulf nations to hitch their wagon at the appropriate moment. Recall the April 2000 conference where the Arab billionaires signed on to have Russia & China their regional protectors. It is all coming together. The USGovt sanctions against Iran have pushed the pace of the process. With the Eastern SWIFT payment system among banks, the foundation has become more concrete suddenly. As it slams into place on the global financial landscape, the shock waves should deliver tremor episodes to the USDollar and its corrupted custodians. Witness the early birth pangs of Eurasia, which has not been a cohesive force since the Ottoman Empire. History is coming full circle.
GOLD CONSOLIDATION ENDING AGAIN
Like a tired saw, the gold price is consolidating after several weeks of price firming, having adjusted to yet more shocks of naked short ambushes. The after effects of MFGlobal linger, rendering great harm to the integrity and function of the COMEX. Many firms are legally prohibited from participating in risk hedge management at the COMEX, since accounts were stolen by JPMorgan and no hint of either prosecution or remedy is apparent or likely. The after effects of the huge February 29th naked short ambush also linger. Over 630 million ounces of paper silver were dumped on the COMEX in a single hour on that day, which will go down in history, under COMEX corruption as a chapter. The volume of silver exceeds global mine output in a full year. So a message to those hare brained analysts who claim (earth to Bob Moriarty at 321GOLD) that the precious metals market can never be corrupted or manipulated or intervened to the point of chronic distortion, the message is to wake the hell up.
The new paradigm shift is very much at work in the gold market, silver too. The gold cartel pushes down the PM prices with naked short ambushes, no collateral posted, grossly out of proportion with economic need or mining firm hedge practices, enough to engineer a 8% to 12% price decline. Limits are enforced of 1% gains but 10% swoons. But the Eastern Coalition, not to be confused with the Eastern Alliance, continues to push down the gold price in order to execute some important very high volume purchases. The coalition is comprised of a handful of extraordinarily wealthy Eastern families with heavy motive to disrupt the balance of banking power dominated by the New York and London crowd to the point of chronic hegemony and abuse. They had a $50 billion infusion last November to move the bullion metal out of cartel banks methodically. The coalition pushes down the gold price in order to conduct raids on the gold cartel member banks, exploiting their vulnerability with respect to margin calls on sovereign bond positions and currency positions. The UBS example several months ago was a textbook raid that has been repeated. My open guess is that the next victims are Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citigroup. Keep in mind that UBS is not a minor player, but one of the two giant Swiss banks which sold out to the Wall Street and London banksters long ago. The Swiss banking system is far weaker than is widely known, the object of major lawsuits.
Unique retaliatory treatment is reserved for Citigroup, as a result of special thefts committed against a certain family behind the coalition. This story will develop over time. Information sources are less generous on details, an indication of the gravity of the situation and imminent important events to come. The gold wars are central to the global financial war in progress, with a great many sides and numerous arenas. Stratajema, you can crawl back into your hole, or else share your rich sources.
Gold & Silver are each in a long-term consolidation. The gold pennant pattern is more intermediate. The silver pennant pattern is more long-term. Great metal shortage, huge investment demand, and pursuit of safe haven will drive prices much higher. The epic battle between paper gold and physical gold never results in paper victory in the final battles. This chapter of history will be no exception. Resolution will be an upward move in price. Remember the primary engine for the Gold Bull market is the negative real interest rates. The true inflation adjusted rate of interest (whether FedFunds or USTB 10-year yield) are running in the minus 8% to minus 11% range, since price inflation is in the 9% to 11% range and the USEconomy is stuck in a recession of minus 2% to minus 4% steadily, like in quicksand. It foretells of tremendous price gains for gold. The mainstream financial press is desperate to sell a wrong-footed story, for the sixth year in a row.
The USDollar appears to be topped out. As it falls, the global cost structure will be lifted again. Most commodities are priced on a US$ basis. Big challenges are in force against the global reserve currency. Aggravating the effect is the chronic high oil price. The Iran effect is felt, not going away, only to grow worse as the backfire backlash develops into new platform systems. See the Hat Trick Letter in the April edition for much greater details on all these critical matters as history is being made. Sadly, the history is the final chapter of the USDollar and its written epitaph. Americans appear to be the least informed on current events and risk levels. Many will see their life savings, their pension plans, and other valued assets suffer great loss since they have not put in place protection from the imploding beleaguered USDollar. The lost value of their homes is but the beginning of their great loss. That warning has not been heeded effectively by the majority of the masses, who qualify as sheep. Steps are difficult to make, but they must be made. Gold & Silver offer the best such protection in the form of bars and coins, kept outside the US and UK, the axis of fascism.
By Elliott Wave International
I came across some research on the subject of worry. Here’s how it was presented:
Things People Worry About:
- things that never happen – 40%
- things which did happen that worrying can’t undo – 30%
- needless health worries – 12%
- petty, miscellaneous worries – 10%
- real, legitimate worries – 8%
Of the legitimate worries, half are problems beyond our personal ability to solve. That leaves 4% in the realm of worries people can do something about.
I thought about our gigantic national debt and weak economy. These seem to fit into both subcategories of “real” worries. You can’t do much as an individual to solve the nation’s debt and economic problems, yet you can prepare for a worsening economic downtrend.
Do we see evidence for an economic turn for the worse?
Well, consider that the evidence is so overwhelming that it took 456 pages of the second edition of Robert Prechter’s book, Conquer the Crash, to cover it. And since that book published, Prechter has consistently devoted his monthly Elliott Wave Theorist to the facts and evidence behind his forecast.
Here’s a chart from the book that was updated by Elliott Wave International in March 2012:
The downturn from 2008 is critically important, as it shows that after an almost unbroken 60-year climb, the contraction is underway. It surely has much further to go, because it is still a third higher than it was at the outset of the last debt deflation in 1929.
– The Elliott Wave Financial Forecast, March 2012
The rating agencies are well aware of what the above chart means. You probably know that Standard & Poor’s downgraded U.S. debt from the nation’s long-standing triple-A to AA+. Now, another rating agency has taken their rating even lower:
Rating firm Egan-Jones cuts its credit rating on the U.S. government to “AA” from “AA+” with a negative watch, citing a lack of progress in cutting the mounting federal debt.
– CNBC.com, April 5
Robert Prechter’s bestseller, Conquer the Crash, provides practical information about what you can do to protect your finances in the coming economic implosion. And right now, Elliott Wave International is offering 8 lessons from Conquer the Crash in a free 42-page report that covers:
- What to do with your pension plan
- How to identify a safe haven
- What you should do if you run a business
- A Short List of Imperative “Dos” and Don’ts”
- And more
In every disaster, only a very few people prepare themselves beforehand. Discover the ways you can be financially prepared and safe.
This article was syndicated by Elliott Wave International and was originally published under the headline How to Handle an Economic Implosion. EWI is the world’s largest market forecasting firm. Its staff of full-time analysts led by Chartered Market Technician Robert Prechter provides 24-hour-a-day market analysis to institutional and private investors around the world.
By: Adrian Ash, BullionVault
Financial repression this ain’t. Not unless you like playing victim…
ALL OF a sudden, everyone’s talking about financial repression – the capture and torture of domestic savers with below-inflation rates of interest, so that banking and government debt shrinks in real terms.
“Such policies,” explains economic historian and author Carmen Reinhart for Bloomberg, “usually involve a strong connection between the government, the central bank and the financial sector.” Check.
Given the post-war size of our debts, she goes on, “financial repression…with its dual aims of keeping interest rates low and creating or maintaining captive domestic audiences… will likely be with us for a long time.” Check.
“[It's] equivalent to a tax on bondholders and, more generally, savers.” Check.
Now if, like me, you already gave, then you might want to look for the exits – and you really don’t need to look very far. Yet to date, this sudden burst of comment on financial repression can only counsel despair, despite the greatest liberty of capital movement in 100 years. More oddly still, the classic escape-route of buying gold – an escape-route blocked worldwide when governments wore down their 20th century wartime debts – has scarcely been mentioned.
Take the Financial Times; it’s published 15 stories on financial repression in the last month alone, yet only two mention gold. Google News counts 103 stories in English from the last 2 weeks globally, yet barely 1-in-4 dares mention gold, and half of those only because they mention the high classical Gold Standard ending 1914. Before then bondholders also got very low (but not negative) real rates of interest. They also got the full return of principal value on maturity.
“In [our] age of free capital movement, financial repression is still possible,” reckons another historian (and a member of GMO’s asset allocation team) Edward Chancellor in the FT, “because it is being simultaneously practised in the world’s leading financial centres. Negative real interest rates are to be found not only in the US, but also in China, Europe, Canada and the UK.”
But so what? No one’s yet forcing US citizens to keep their money inside the States, and no one’s forcing them to choose a Euro, Canadian or Sterling savings account if they go elsewhere either. Which is lucky, with rates at 1%, 2% and 3% below inflation respectively. Yes, the finance industry is paying the price of getting bailed out, with the world’s $30 trillion in pension funds forced to hold ever-greater quantities of sub-zero-yielding debt. But outside the still-repressed East, private savings today enjoy unheard of freedom to go where they wish and do as they please. And even there, in India and China most notably, the freedom to buy gold – the universal financial escape – is similarly at a 100-year peak.
Witness the British experience with investment gold, for instance. Suspending the Gold Standard when war broke out in 1914, London banned domestic gold trading by private individuals throughout both world wars, pretty much all the time inbetween, and for more than three decades after Hitler put a hole in his head.
The cost to cash savers and gilt-holders? One hundred pounds lent to the British state in 1945 was worth £91 in real terms by 1980. Whereas £100 held in gold would have become £304 of inflation-adjusted real value. But unlike today, gold wouldn’t have done you much good in the meantime, because it was nailed to currency values (not vice versa) by the false peg known as the Dollar Exchange Standard. And also unlike today, you would have been breaking the law for much of that time, simply by owning coins or gold bars.
A brief window opened in 1971, but it was closed four years later because savers used it too freely, sparking a foreign currency drain that brought down the shutters on foreign inflows of metal again. It took another four years for the UK’s gold controls to be lifted entirely. By which point gold had already begun its big move. Real rates turned strongly positive 12 months later, and the urgency of buying gold to escape repression was gone.
Financial repression this ain’t, in short, but nor would it be new if it was. Our current freedom to buy gold is very new, in contrast, along with the wealth of alternatives – both domestic and foreign – open to anyone daring to take control of their money instead of lending it to government or paying a pension-fund manager to do the same.
Take note: Nothing is certain to repair the losses you suffer on other, captive investments today. US citizens, for example, suffering real interest rates 4.6% below inflation in Jan. 1975 were allowed to buy gold for the first time in three decades. Bullion promptly dropped half its Dollar price, shaking out all but the most pig-headed investors over the next 18 months before rising 8-fold by the start of 1980.
“In [our] mildly reflating world” however, advises Bill Gross of Pimco, “unless you want to earn an inflation-adjusted return of minus 2%-3% as offered by Treasury bills, then you must take risk in some form.” And buying gold is just such a risk – a uniquely simple and obvious one, offering a stateless escape to a borderless market. But make no mistake: Swapping the credit and inflation risk of cash and bonds for physical gold means exposing yourself to price risk.
Volatility is certain as retained wealth worldwide thrashes free from the imaginary manacles of the financial press, and the traps laid for the unwary by the packaged financial industry.
Adrian Ash is head of research at BullionVault – the secure, low-cost gold and silver market for private investors online, where you can buy physical gold today vaulted in Zurich on $3 spreads and 0.8% dealing fees.
(c) BullionVault 2012
Please Note: This article is to inform your thinking, not lead it. Only you can decide the best place for your money, and any decision you make will put your money at risk. Information or data included here may have already been overtaken by events – and must be verified elsewhere – should you choose to act on it.