Category Archives: Debt

Is the U.S. Becoming a Third World Nation? by Charles Hugh Smith

You don’t have to look too hard to uncover many similarities between the US and a typical banana republic. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

This is a chart of an informal kleptocracy which cloaks itself in the faux finery of democracy and a (rigged) “market” economy.

Back in the day, nations that didn’t qualify as either developed (First World) or developing (Second World) were by default Third World, impoverished, corrupt and what we now refer to as failed states–governments that were incapable of improving the lives of their people and the machinery of governance, generally as a result of corruption and self-serving elites, i.e. kleptocracies.

Is the U.S. slipping into Third World status? While many scoff at the very question, others citing the rise of homelessness, entrenched pockets of abject poverty and the decaying state of infrastructure might nod “yes.”

These are not uniquely Third World problems, they’re symptoms of a status quo that’s fast losing First World capabilities. What characterizes Third World/Failing States isn’t just poverty, crumbling infrastructure and endemic corruption; at a systems level these are the key dynamics in Third World/Failing States:

1. The status quo protects insiders at the expense of everyone else.

2. There is no real accountability; failure has no consequences, bureaucrats are never fired for incompetence, reforms are watered down or neutered by institutional sclerosis.

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The Disaster of Negative Interest Policy, by Thorsten Polleit

Negative interest rates are a creature of central banks and an indictment of their policies. From Thorsten Polleit at mises.org:

hose who had hoped that things could not get worse with the monetary policy of the European Central Bank (ECB) have been proven wrong. At its last meeting on 25 July 2019, the Governing Council of the ECB kept interest rates unchanged: the main refinancing rate was kept at 0.00% and the deposit rate at -0.40%. At the same time, however, ECB President Mario Draghi has prepared the ground to lower interest rates even further in the coming months. What is the reasoning behind that?

According to the ECB Governing Council, inflation is too low, and the euro area economy is too weak. It was precisely this assessment that signaled to the markets to expect a rate cut in the near future. It has now become very likely that the deposit rate will be lowered by 0.2 percentage points to -0.60% at the next ECB meeting in September; and the main refinancing rate could drop to -0.20%. The continued path into the negative interest world, however, has quite dramatic consequences.

The Essence of the Interest Rate

This becomes clear when considering what the interest rate stands for. In short, it represents the value discountthat a later satisfaction of a want suffers compared to an earlier satisfaction of the same want (under otherwise identical circumstances). The “pure” or “originary” interest rate is positive — always and everywhere. It cannot disappear, it cannot go to zero, let alone fall below the zero line; the logic of human action informs us that the pure interest rate cannot be thought away from human actions and values.

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The Real Reasons Why The Media Is Suddenly Admitting To The Recession Threat, by Brandon Smith

The media is admitting to the recession threat because we’re heading into a recession. From Brandon Smith at alternative-media.com:

One thing that is important to understand about the mainstream media is that they do tell the truth on occasion. However, the truths they admit to are almost always wrapped in lies or told to the public far too late to make the information useful.   Dissecting mainstream media information and sifting out the truth from the propaganda is really the bulk of what the alternative media does (or should be doing).  In the past couple of weeks I have received a rush of emails asking about the sudden flood of recession and economic crash talk in the media.  Does this abrupt 180 degree turn by the MSM (and global banks) on the economy warrant concern?  Yes, it does.

The first inclination of a portion of the liberty movement will be to assume that mainstream reports of imminent economic crisis are merely an attempt to tarnish the image of the Trump Administration, and that the talk of recession is “overblown”.  This is partially true; Trump is meant to act as scapegoat, but this is not the big picture.  The fact is, the pattern the media is following today matches almost exactly with the pattern they followed leading up to the credit crash of 2008.  Make no mistake, a financial crash is indeed happening RIGHT NOW, just as it did after media warnings in 2007/2008, and the reasons why the MSM is admitting to it today are calculated.

Before we get to that, we should examine how the media reacted during the lead up to the crash of 2008.

Multiple mainstream outlets ignored all the crash signals in 2005 and 2006 despite ample warnings from alternative economists. In fact, they mostly laughed at the prospect of the biggest bull market in the history of stocks and housing (at that time) actually collapsing. Then abruptly the media and the globalist institutions that dictate how the news is disseminated shifted position and started talking about “recession” and “crash potential”. From the New York Times to The Telegraph to Reuters and others, as well as the IMF, BIS and Federal Reserve officials – Everyone suddenly started agreeing with alternative economists without actually deferring to them or giving them any credit for making the correct financial calls.

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Italy and Salvini Face Real Crisis Now, by Tom Luongo

Italian politics would be a tempest in a teapot except Italy is a significant part of the EU, it has a lot of debt, and its banking system is a mess. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

With the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte the future of Italy is now up in the air. There are many things that come into play with Conte resigning before the No-Confidence vote tabled by Lega Leader Matteo Salvini could take place.

The euro popped 40 pips, back above support at $1.11 on the news. The forex markets realize this was a Brussels-friendly move.

Conte didn’t want to chance getting voted out of office. That makes it difficult for President Sergei Mattarella to call for a new government without snap elections. The Italian Senate would have formally rebuked Mattarella’s compromise pick for Prime Minister, Conte.

Conte was there to effectively keep the children in line – Euroskeptics Lega and Five Star Movement (M5S). So, Conte used his time to take the bully pulpit and excoriate Salvini for twenty minutes. This gives the U.S. and European media plenty of chum to make their case against Salvini.

You will hear a lot about how non-partisan Conte did this for the sake of Italy to stop the mad, selfish and unprofessional Salvini from taking power.

It’s good political theater but it’s as disingenuous as the day is long and very much the truth. No one in power in Brussels wants what Salvini is selling. Not many in Rome do either.

Because had he not resigned Mattarella could have faced impeachment for not going to elections. He only relented to let M5S and Lega take power under that threat last year.

So Conte has set the stage for Mattarella to take charge again. They will put the veneer of legitimacy on this process to protect Italy from Salvini. In reality, the only people they are protecting are in Brussels.

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Are Recessions Inevitable? by Ron Paul

With an honest monetary system in which no government had a role, recessions either might not happen at all, or would be much less severe than recessions are now. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

Stocks fell last week following news that the yield curve on Treasury notes had inverted. This means that a short-term Treasury note was paying higher interest rates than long-term Treasury note. An inverted yield curve is widely seen as a sign of an impending recession.

Some economic commentators reacted to the inverted yield curve by parroting the Keynesian propaganda that recessions are an inevitable feature of a free-market economy, whose negative effects can only be mitigated by the Federal Reserve. Like much of the conventional economic wisdom, the idea that recessions are caused by the free market and cured by the Federal Reserve is the exact opposite of the truth.

Interest rates are the price of money. Like all prices, they should be set by the market in order to accurately convey information about economic conditions. When the Federal Reserve lowers interest rates, it distorts those signals. This leads investors and businesses to misjudge the true state of the economy, resulting in misallocations of resources. These misallocations can create an economic boom. However, since the boom is rooted in misperceptions of the true state of the economy, it cannot last. Eventually the Federal Reserve-created bubble bursts, resulting in a recession.

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The Geopolitical Consequences of a Coming Recession, by Antonius Aquinas

A recession in the near future would doom Trump’s reelection chances. From Antonius Aquinas at antoniusaquinas.com:

With the recent ominous inversion of the 2-10 year yield curve and its near infallible predictive recessionary power, the consequences for the economy are plain to see, however, what has not been spoken of by pundits will be the effect of a recession on US foreign policy.  If a recession comes about prior to November 2020, or if economic indicators such as GDP plummet even further, the chances of a Trump re-election is extremely problematic even if the Democrats nominate a socialist nut case such as Bernie Sanders or Pocahontas.

Elizabeth Warren has been the most vocal about coming economic troubles:

Warning lights are flashing.  Whether it is this year or next year, odds of another economic downturn are high – and growing. . . .

 

When I look at the economy today, I see a lot to worry about again.  I see a manufacturing sector in recession.  I see a precarious economy built on debt – both household debt and corporate debt and that is vulnerable to shocks.  And I see a number of serious shocks on the horizon that could cause our economy’s shaky foundation to crumble.*

Warren

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House of Cards, by the Zman

All we’ve done since the financial crisis of 2008-2009 is build an even larger skyscraper of cards. From the Zman at theburningplatform.com:

One of the things that was revealed in the 2008 mortgage crisis was the fragility of the global financial system. The system that was born of the Louvre Accords was supposed to be robust and resilient, unlike the previous arrangements. The masters of finance would be able to keep a steady hand on the tiller, guiding the world economy through each storm, rather than have a free-for-all ever time there was a little turmoil. Up until 2008, everyone knew something like the mortgage crisis was impossible.

A credit based financial system was supposed to get around the problem of currency devaluation to solve political problems. That’s been a problem since the advent of coinage. When the state gets in trouble, the easiest ways to solve it is to spend money on the public. Whether it was debasing the coinage or printing paper money, the solution to spending money that did not exist was the create it. That always created new and bigger problems for the society down the line.

One way of looking at the mortgage crisis is as a form of currency devaluation. The global financial system is based in credit. That’s the base unit of value. Government debt and to a slightly lesser degree, corporate debt, is the foundation of the global financial system. Government issues debt, which increases the supply of money in the system, as that debt is used as collateral in the system. Central banks can buy and sell debt to control the supply of money in the system.

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