Having the world’s reserve currency means you can create all sorts of mischief and never say you’re sorry. From Jim Rickards at dailyreckoning.com:
I’ve been documenting financial warfare in my articles for years, but it still doesn’t get the mainstream attention it deserves.
Because as you’ll see below, it can directly impact your wealth.
Financial warfare tools include account seizures and freezes, expulsion from global payment systems, secondary fines and penalties on banks that do business with targeted entities, embargoes, tariffs and many other impositions.
These tools are amplified by the unique role of the U.S. dollar, which is the currency behind 60% of global reserves, 80% of global payments and almost 100% of transactions in oil.
The U.S. controls the banks and payments systems that process dollar transactions. This leaves the U.S. well positioned to impose dollar-related sanctions.
Much has been made of the recent killing of Iranian terrorist mastermind Qasem Soleimani. Many say it was an act of war. But guess what, folks?
We’ve been in a full-scale war with Iran for two years now. It’s just that most people don’t realize it.
There have been two different Americas, and the big split came in 1913. From Jacob G. Hornberger at fff.org:
There have been two completely different Americas in U.S. history. Let’s examine twelve ways in which they differ.
1. For more than a century after the United States came into existence, there was no income taxation or IRS. People were free to keep everything they earned and decide for themselves what to do with it.
Today, income taxation and the IRS are a core feature of American life. The government essentially owns everyone’s income and decides how much people will be permitted to keep, much as a parent permits his children to have an allowance.
2. No Social Security. Earlier Americans rejected the concept of mandatory charity. People were left free to decide for themselves whether to help out their parents and others.
Today, Social Security is a core feature of American life. The federal government forces younger people to help out seniors by forcibly taking their money from them and giving it to seniors. Social Security is a classic example of a socialist program, one in which the government forcibly takes money from people to whom it belongs and gives it to people to whom it does not belong.
The Davos men and women confabbing in Davos don’t have a clue as to what’s really going on in the world. From David Stockman at davidstockmanscontracorner.com via lewrockwell.com:
There are a reported 119 billionaires attending the Davos confab this year – plus (allegedly) the Donald, who took a day off from Impeachment to address this august gathering of the world’s movers and shakers.
There is also 1500 private jets crowding the surrounding airports – plus the notable train-traveling 17-year old expert on planetary climate science, Greta Thunberg.
Also, among the 10 billionaires in attendance from communist China is Ren Zhenfei, founder of Huawei and father of its CFO, Meng Wanzhou. Even as dad courts the rich and famous on the slopes, daughter languishes in a Canadian jail waiting extradition to the US because she had the audacity to do business with Iran against Washington’s instructions and Trump’s latest fatwa against the Tehran government.
These odd juxtapositions plus countless more got us to thinking about Davos Man himself and the ultimate juxtaposition of our times.
To wit, the combined net worth of the world’s billionaires in the year 2000 was $1 trillion, according to Forbes, but at this bublicious moment that number is reckoned at just under $10 trillion. So the 2,150 members of the Billionaires Club now have more net worth than 60% of the world’s population combined. That’s 4.6 billion people!
The shale boom is over, but not the financial fallout. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:
Texas at the epicenter. We’re witnessing the destruction of money that loosey-goosey monetary policies encouraged.
Following the sharp re-drop in oil and natural gas prices in late 2018, bankruptcy filings in the US by already weakened exploration and production companies , oilfield services companies, and “midstream” companies (they gather, transport, process, or store oil and natural gas) jumped by 51% in 2019, to 65 filings, according to data compiled by law firm Haynes and Boone. This brought the total of the Great American Shale Oil & Gas Bust since 2015 in these three sectors to 402 bankruptcy filings.
The debt involved in these bankruptcies in 2019 doubled from 2018 to $35 billion. This pushed the total debt listed in these bankruptcy filings since 2015 to $207 billion. The chart below shows the cumulative total debt involved in these bankruptcies since 2015.
The bull markets in bonds and stocks will not go quietly into that good night. From Sven Henrich at northmantrader.com:
One day this bull market will end and the age of the central banking enabled debt bubble will be exposed for the hubris that it is and all the sins of “potential side effects” that central bankers warn about but never do anything about will come back to haunt all of us. It’ll be the age of the great unwind. Nobody will tell us in the moment when it peaks and I suspect it will not start with a bang, rather a whimper, but only end with a bang.
And this great unwind will not last a month or a year, but many years as all the excesses will have to work themselves through the system and all the systematic buy programs will turn into systematic sell programs that will be just as relentless on the way down as they were on the way up.
They very notion of the permanent can kicking we are witnessing now will reveal itself to have been a fantasy. People forget that 2019 and into 2020 came about because of systemic failure of epic proportions. The single one time central bankers tried to tighten blew up in their faces. And the Fed’s forced re-expansion of their balance sheet has now bestowed this blow-off top that has pushed asset prices the farthest distance above the underlying size of the economy that we’ve ever seen. A perversion of the financial system that has created wealth for the few not seen since the 1920s.
At its present birth rate China cannot sustain the growth rates that have made it an economic powerhouse. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
China finally abandoned its controversial one-child policy in November 2013. But more than six years later, millions of Chinese couples are still unwilling to have a second child. And that’s a huge problem for the Communist Party, whose legitimacy in the eyes of the public depends on its ability to deliver on promises of unbridled growth and prosperity.
And who can blame them? Entrenched behaviors die hard, and after the government’s brutal treatment of citizens who defied its policy (which was initially imposed to ward off famine), we can sympathize with Chinese who simply believe that having two children isn’t in keeping with the fundamentals of patriotic socialism with Chinese characteristics.