We live in a kleptocratic, increasingly totalitarian state. From John Whitehead at rutherford.org:
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”—C.S. Lewis
When the Beatles finally started earning enough money from their music to place them in the top tax bracket, they found the British government only-too-eager to levy a supertax on them of more than 90%.
SLL agrees with Charles Hugh Smith that no amount of free money and central bank machinations will save the global financial and economic systems once they start to fail. From Smith at oftwominds.com:
Once the contagion starts spreading, loose money won’t put the fires out.
As the nation’s political and economic leaders struggled to contain the 2008 financial meltdown, President George W. Bush famously summed the situation up: “If money doesn’t loosen up, this sucker will go down.”
Eleven years into the loose money recovery, this sucker is finally going downfor reasons that have little to do with tight money and everything to do with the inconvenient fact that none of the structural problems have been addressed, much less actually fixed.
We live in a bizarre world dominated by magical-thinking, a world in which the Federal Reserve creating more dollars out of thin air is supposedly the solution to everything, while all the knotty structural problems–unsupportable pensions and entitlements, unsustainable dependence on debt to fund everything from infrastructure to a new iPhone, a sickcare system that is bankrupting the nation, a higher education system that is looting an entire generation for diplomas with marginal market value, a runaway National Security State that burns trillions on unwinnable wars and lies about it–are left untouched because they’re, well, difficult, and it’s so much easier to say that looser money will solve everything.
However, the likelihood is that 2020 will be worse, and bloodier.
Conditions that spawned global unrest on every continent in 2019 are unlikely to recede. Rather, they are likely to worsen in the face of a slowing global economy and little sign of causes of disaffection being addressed.
Washington as disruptor
In a word, the world is in a mess, made more threatening by the retreat of the Trump administration from America’s traditional role as a stabilising force.
Take interest rates to zero or negative, and you’ve rendered time worthless, at least in a monetary sense. That threatens one of the foundations of civilization. From Claudio Grass at lewrockewell.com:
When I was asked to write an article about the impact of negative interest rates and negative yielding bonds, I thought this is a chance to look at the topic from a broader perspective. There have been lots of articles speculating about the possible implications and focusing on their impact in the short run, but it’s not very often that an analysis looks a bit further into the future, trying to connect money and its effect on society itself.
Let us begin with a basic question, that lies at the heart of this issue: Who profits from a loan that is guaranteed to pay back less than the amount borrowed? Obviously, it is the borrower and not the lender, which in our case is the government and those closely connected to it. Negative rates and negative yielding bonds, by definition favor the debtors and punish the savers. In addition, these policies are an affront to basic economic principles and to common sense too. They contradict all logical ideas about how money works and they have no basis and no precedent in any organic economic system. Thus, now, in addition to the hidden tax that is inflation, we also have another mechanism that redistributes wealth from the average citizen to those at the top of the pyramid.
Many things are out of whack and it’s only a matter of time before everything falls apart. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:
But greed is a bottomless pit And our freedom’s a joke We’re just taking a piss And the whole world must watch the sad comic display If you’re still free start running away Cause we’re coming for you!
– Conor Oberst, “Land Locked Blues”
It’s hard to believe 2020 is just around the corner. If the last ten years have taught us anything, it’s the extent to which a vicious and corrupt oligarchy will go to further extend and entrench their economic and societal interests. Although the myriad desperate actions undertaken by the ruling class this past decade have managed to sustain the current paradigm a bit longer, it has not come without cost and major long-term consequence. Gigantic imbalances across multiple areas have been created and worsened, and the resolution of these in the years ahead (2020-2025) will shape the future for decades to come. I want to discuss three of them today, the financial system imbalance, the trust imbalance and the geopolitical imbalance.
Recent posts have focused on how what really matters in a crisis is not the event itself, but the response to it. The financial crisis of ten years ago is particularly instructive, as the entire institutional response to a widespread financial industry crime spree was to focus on saving a failed system and then pretending nothing happened. The public was given no time or space to debate whether the system needed saving; or more specifically, which parts needed saving, which parts needed wholesale restructuring and which parts should’ve been thrown into the dustbin. Rather, unelected central bankers stepped in with trillions in order to prop up, empower and reward the very industry and individuals that created the crisis to begin with. There was no real public debate, central bankers just did whatever they wanted. It was a moment so brazen and disturbing it shook many of us, including myself, out of a lifetime of propaganda induced deception.
The almost complete disconnect between our powers that be and the common clay is similar to that between the French aristocracy and the peasants before the French Revolution. From the Zman at theburningplatform.com:
If one were to conjure just one image to explain the French Revolution, it would be of the sheltered and self-indulged Marie Antoinette saying “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” when told the peasants were starving. Perhaps framing it alongside an image of the peasants in the streets, desperate for food. The story is apocryphal, but it probably stands as the most enduring image of the Revolution. The decadent and indifferent ruling class on one side and the desperate peasants on the other.
Even though the story is not true, it works as an explanation for what happened in 18th century France. On the one hand, there was a ruling class that was increasingly out of touch, physically and culturally removed from the people. On the other hand, the people were evolving away from the ruling class. The growth of what we would call a middle-class was changing the nature of France. It is the psychological separation that drove the political dynamic, leading to the revolution.
Alasdair Macleod is the best writer on monetary economics on the Internet. From Macleod at goldmoney.com:
The world stands on the edge of a cyclical downturn, exacerbated by trade tariffs initiated by America. We know what will happen: the major central banks will attempt to inflate their way out of the consequences. And those of us with an elementary grasp of economics should know why the policy will fail.
In addition to the monetary and debt inflation since the Lehman crisis, it is highly likely the major international currencies will suffer a catastrophic loss of purchasing power from a new round of monetary expansion, calling for a replacement of today’s fiat currency system with something more stable. The ultimate solution, unlikely to be adopted, is to reinstate gold as circulating money, and how gold works as money is outlined in this article.
Instead, central banks will struggle for fiat-based solutions, which are bound to face a similar fate with or without the blockchain technology being actively considered. The Asian and BRICS blocs have an opportunity to do something with gold. But will they take it?
Central banks around the world are praying that there won’t be a recession, and if there is that a further monetary stimulus will ensure economic recovery. Their problem is Keynesian theory says it will work, but last time it didn’t. In fact, it has never worked beyond a temporary basis. The big surprise this time was the lack of officially recorded price inflation. But this is due to the system gaming the numbers, making it appear there has been some moderate growth when a proper deflator would confirm most Western economies have been contracting in real terms for the last ten years.
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