Category Archives: Economics

Doug Casey on Whether the US Dollar is Headed for an Inflationary or Deflationary Collapse

The answer is all of the above. From Doug Casey at internationalman.com:

dollar collapse

International Man: In the past decade, the Fed’s money printing has created bubbles in stocks, bonds, real estate, and other many areas. It’s likely that the stimulus and money printing will not only continue but accelerate at breathtaking speeds in 2021.

What do you think the prospects are for what the great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises called a “crack-up boom?”

Doug Casey: First of all, we have to define what Mises meant by a “crack-up boom.” It can occur when the public realizes that money is being printed at a great rate, and it’s likely to continue being printed at a great rate. The public then starts moving out of money to buy anything of real value. All that money is passed around faster and faster, like an old maid card, causing a “crack-up boom.” It’s not a real boom. It’s caused by fear, not prosperity. The desperation of trying to get into real goods and get out of the US dollar creates what you might call uneconomic economic activity.

They won’t try to put the money into productive enterprises, rather just tangible assets that will defend them from inflation. The most famous crack-up boom in modern history, of course, was in Weimar Germany during the early 1920s.

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Economic and monetary outlook for 2021, by Alasdair Macleod

SLL doesn’t do end-of-the-year review and preview articles, or compile a list of predictions. My prediction for 2021 is that it’s going be a whole lot worse than 2020. Alasdair Macleod agrees. From Macleod at goldmoney.com:

The most important event in the new year is likely to be the Fed losing control of its iron grip on markets. The dollar’s declining trend is already well established against other currencies and commodities, leading to this outcome.

Events in 2021 will be the consequence of a developing hyperinflation of the dollar. Foreign holders of dollars and dollar assets — currently totalling $27.7 trillion — are sure to increase the pace of reducing their exposure. This is a primal threat to the Fed’s policy of using QE to continually inflate assets in the name of promoting a wealth effect and continuing to finance a rapidly increasing federal government deficit by supressing interest rates.

Bubbles will then pop, leaving establishment investors exposed to a combined collapse of fiat currencies, bonds and equity markets, which could turn out to be very rapid. The question remaining is what will replace collapsing fiat currencies: limited issue distributed ledger cryptos, such as bitcoin, or precious metals, such as gold?

Clearly, when the dust settles, it will be gold for no other reason that central banks already own it in their reserves, and it has a long track record of success as money in the past.

This article examines the 2020 economic and financial background to likely developments in 2021 before arriving at its conclusions.

Introduction

It is that time again when we reflect on recent events and what might be ahead of us in the new year. 2020 was dominated by a pre-March descent into a financial slump, when the S&P500 index lost a third of its value between January and March, until the Fed cut its funds rate to zero on 16 March and followed up with a statement of intent to expand QE without limit on the following Monday.

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Are Americans Rational?

Rationality, when possessed, is possessed by individuals, not groups. Americans, as a group, are certainly not rational. From Dmitry Orlov at cluborlov.com:

I’ve been holding back on commenting on current events because they are far too silly. At this point it is safe to say that the elections in the US have been thoroughly botched and that, no matter who is ultimately chosen as president for the next for years, enough questions will remain in the minds of enough people to thoroughly delegitimize the national leadership in the eyes of at least half the country.

Just this morning I got a missive from Paul Craig Roberts containing the following bullet points:

• Joe Biden’s Twitter account has 20 million followers. Trump’s Twitter account has 88.8 million followers.

• Joe Biden’s Facebook account has 7.78 million followers. Trump’s Facebook account has 34.72 million followers. How likely is it that a person with four to five times the following of his rival lost the election?

• Joe Biden, declared by the biased presstitutes to be president by landslide, gave a Thanksgiving Day message and only 1,000 people watched his live statement. Where is the enthusiasm?

• Trump’s campaign appearances were heavily attended and that Biden’s were avoided. Somehow a candidate who could not draw supporters to his campaign appearances won the presidency.

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The Sisyphean Folly of Printing Press Money, by MN Gordon

Central bankers believe that every economic ill can be cured with their fiat debt instruments, and if the ill isn’t cured, throw more fiat debt at it. From MN Gordon at economicprism.com:

Something remarkable happened on Tuesday.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) broke the 30,000 point barrier for the first time ever.  President Trump commemorated the feat by calling the number “sacred.”

Some Americans were especially grateful as they said their Thanksgiving Day grace.  These generally include wealthy owners of stocks and other financial assets.  Forty years of inflationary monetary policies have elevated their prosperity to holiness.

The remaining Americans, through no fault of their own, missed out on these sanctified blessings.  Perhaps they’ll get some leftover table scraps for Christmas.  These, indeed, are the questions being asked.

Will Washington make this a Merry Christmas for cash strapped Americans?  Will the Treasury send out a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks for the yuletide?  Will Congress be Ebenezer Scrooge or Mr. Fezziwig?

These are important questions as 2020 approaches its twilight.  And this is the season of giving.  After months of rolling lockdowns ordered by state and local governments Americans need relief.  Moreover, they must first receive from Uncle Sam so they can give to their fellow kindreds.

This was a recent finding of a Franklin Templeton-Gallup survey.  Specifically, the survey found that 16 percent of Americans plan to spend more on holiday gifts this year.  But with another $1,200 stimulus check, 22 percent of Americans say they will spend more this holiday season.

Somehow, Christmas spending has become dependent on government stimulus checks.  But, remember, government stimulus is dependent on printing press money.  And printing press money is dependent on the dollar retaining some semblance of value.

Thus, herein lies the sacred folly.  The more that printing press money’s emitted, the more value the dollar loses.  We’ll have more on what this means for you and your wealth in just a moment.  But first some context…

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Global Inflation watch, by Alasdair Macleod

Currency debasement is inflation, and governments and central banks are debasing their currencies with abandon. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:

his article posits that fiat currencies are on the path to hyperinflation and looks at the evidence in the prices of financial assets and commodities. So far, gold has notably underperformed, which indicates that the early signals of hyperinflation are confined to the cryptocurrencies, whose participants broadly understand fiat debasement, to equities reflecting the desire not to maintain cash and deposit balances, and in international trade, where commodity prices of all stripes have risen in price.

Given that the early warnings of hyperinflation of money supply are here, the article then looks at the qualities required of a sound money to replace fiat currencies.

Introduction

Figure 1 shows how prices have moved from the Friday before the Fed’s announcement on 23 March that it would go all-in on its support for the US economy with unlimited quantitative easing. It amounted to a commitment to hyperinflate the money supply if needed. Before the Fed cut its funds rate to zero on 16 March nearly all these prices were falling.


Screen Shot 2020 11 27 at 7.04.52 AM
Since late-March every category has seen increases in prices. Sector and specialist analysts will always claim that there are identifiable reasons why prices for an individual category or commodity have risen. But the fact is that with the exception of the dollar and the other fiat currencies listed in the table all prices have risen. This cannot happen without the dollar and these currencies losing purchasing power.

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Saudi Aramco’s Landmark IPO Is Costing The Kingdom Billions, by Simon Watkins

An IPO is supposed to leave you flush with cash, not put you deeper in the hole. From Simon Watkins at oilprice.com:

The initial public offering (IPO) of Saudi Aramco that was heralded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) as being a showcase flotation for raising massive new capital for the Kingdom and anchoring a major expansion of its international equities market presence has proven only to put Aramco into a debt spiral and highlighted a myriad of problems in Saudi Arabia to international investors. Now, Aramco is digging itself further into serious debt through bond issuances simply to pay for the huge dividend payments promised by MbS that were absolutely required to persuade anyone to buy into the omni-toxic IPO. At this rate, the debt taken on by Aramco and other Saudi bond offerings to pay for the dividends will be far more than the amount of money raised in the IPO. As a direct result of MbS deciding to go ahead with yet another oil price war at the same time as the COVID-19 pandemic was gathering pace and destroying demand for oil, Aramco’s finances have suffered a massive hit. For the first half of this year, the company saw a 50 percent plunge in net profit and at the beginning of this month, it reported another massive drop in profits of 44.6 percent for the third quarter, falling to SAR44.21 billion (US$11.79 billion) from SAR79.84 billion in the same period last year. On the other side of the balance sheet, though, is the stark fact that because the company’s IPO was so toxic on so many levels that it was shunned by Western investors and had to be off-loaded to buyers who were either bullied or bribed into buying the stock Aramco is left having to pay massive guaranteed dividend payments for the foreseeable future to those shareholders.

This huge guaranteed dividend payment of US$18.75 billion per quarter – US$75 billion for a full year – will have to be paid for through budget cuts over and above the US$15 billion in Aramco’s annual capital spending alluded to by Aramco’s chief executive officer, Amin Nasser, just after the first half profits figures were unveiled. This will take the total down from around US$40 billion to around US$25 billion. Further reports have stated that even this US$25 billion figure is set to be reduced by another US$5 billion, taking the total capital spending in this year from US$25 billion to US$20 billion.

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Why I’m Hopeful About 2021, by Charles Hugh Smith

The object is not to restore the 2019 status quo, but to let it crash and replace it with something better. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

What we need is not a return to the corrupt, tottering kleptocracy of 2019, but a re-democratization of capital, agency and money.

I’m hopeful about 2021, and no, it’s not because of the vaccines or the end of lockdowns or anything related to Covid. The status quo is cheering the fantasy that we’ll soon return to the debt-soaked glory days of 2019 when everything was peachy.

The problem with this “brand” of magical thinking is that stripped of self-serving PR, the world of 2019 was an autocratic kleptocracy stripmining the planet to enrich the few at the expense of the many. Viewed through this lens, what’s hopeful isn’t returning to an autocratic kleptocracy but moving beyond it.

The most hopeful thing in my mind is that the Status Quo is devolving from its internal contradictions and excesses. Here’s the status quo in a nutshell:

The solution to too much debt is more debt.

The solution to autocratic elites hogging wealth and power is to give the elites more wealth and power.

And so on: every status quo “solution” boils down to doing more of what’s failed spectacularly because it serves the interests of the few at the top of the wealth-power pyramid.

The Great Reset is a perfect example of this insanity: now that we’ve destroyed the planet with our private jets, greed and corruption, give us even more power over you.

The status quo is a perverse, intensely destructive system with powerful incentives for predation, exploitation, fraud and complicity. That’s the world of 2019; do we really want to go back to that? And even if we could, how long would it last? Another year or two? And at what cost to social cohesion and the planet?

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Lockdown Politics: The Great Travesty, by Carl Boggs

Lockdowns are about power and control, not health, and they’re part of a bigger plan. From Carl Boggs at zerohedge.com:

Nearly one year into the COVID pandemic, even a modicum of critical thinking should tell us that lockdown politics as practiced in the United States is an unmitigated disaster, and with no end in sight. The reference here to lockdown politics is meant to signify a particularly assaultive, tyrannical set of government policies that in less than a year have brought severe harm to millions, more likely tens of millions of Americans and others across the world. Sadly, a Joe Biden presidency is only bound to aggravate this already intolerable repression and misery.

One grievous problem with the lockdown mania is that by obsessively fixating on the virus, a power-mad elite has ignored what must drive any public intervention: the need for a comprehensive, detailed cost-benefit analysis informing social policy. Stale rhetoric about “following the science” turns out to be not only one dimensional and useless, yet it remains a justification for continuing mass shutdowns, in state after state. The worst consequences include millions of lost jobs and businesses, escalating poverty, record numbers of bankruptcies, educational chaos, new health crises, a sharp rise in addictions and myriad psychological problems.

Meanwhile, it has become abundantly clear that lockdown rules – the very rules overlooked at times of street demonstrations and upheavals – apply only to Trump supporters, the great “super-spreaders”, wherever they gather. Those arbitrary directives have been cynically used by Democratic governors, mayors, and their health czars as a dictatorial political weapon – in part to bolster their own power, in part to subvert Trump’s second presidential run. For them, the pandemic is welcomed as a godsend, to be leveraged for a “global reset” on the road to maximum power, an incipient fascism. What we have here is what C. Wright Mills long ago called the “higher immorality” in his classic The Power Elite.

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The global reset scam, by Alasdair Macleod

It doesn’t matter much if you shift from paper money to digital money if they’re both worthless. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:

This article takes a tilt at increasing speculation about statist global resets, and why plans such as those promoted by the World Economic Forum will fail. Central bank digital currencies will simply run out of time.

Instead, the collapse of unbacked fiat currencies will end all supra-national government solutions to their policy failures. Already, there is mounting evidence of money beginning to flee bank accounts into stocks, commodities and even bitcoin. This is an early warning of a rapidly developing monetary collapse.

Moreover, nothing can now stop the collapse of fiat currencies, and with it schemes to control humanity for the convenience and ambitions of government planners. There can only be one statist solution and that is to mobilise gold reserves to back and save their currencies, which in order to succeed will have to be fully convertible into circulating gold coinage. It will also require the role of governments to be reset into a non-welfare, non-interventionist minimalist role, which can only be achieved after a complete collapse of the current fiat-financed system.

Anything less will fail.

The Deep State and The Blob fuel conspiracy theories

Increasingly, people are beginning to realise that their world is undergoing a period of rapid change, with the future of fiat money now uncertain. For most, it is too difficult to even contemplate. But growing uncertainties are driving wild speculation about what those in authority now have in store for the human race in the form of a global reset. It is a time for conspiracy theorists, aided and abetted by our politicians and central bankers who are being increasingly evasive, because events are spiralling out of their control.

Then there is America’s Deep State, or the British equivalent, the more recently christened Blob; an amorphous entity comprised of the permanent bureaucracy with its own agenda. These faceless planners have moved on from merely making ministers’ lives difficult if they deviate from the blob’s predetermined course — immortalised in “Yes Minister” and its sequel series “Yes Prime Minister”.

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The 2025 Car You’re Voting for Today, by Eric Peters

Elections have consequences, even in the automotive world. From Eric Peters at ericpetersautos.com:

Much is in the balance today – election day – including the kinds of cars you’ll be able to buy (or not) in the years ahead.

It’s not on the ballot, per se, but the outcome of the vote will decide that by dint of deciding whether the federal government will enforce the almost-doubling of fuel economy mandatory minimums to nearly 50 MPG by 2025.

The Orange Man opposes this. The Hair Plugged Man endorses it. His predecessor attempted to impose it.

People not familiar with regulatory rigmarole – and what it takes to “comply” with it – may be under the impression that nothing but good could come from a mandate requiring that all cars average nearly 50 MPG. It’s right up there with money for nothing and your chicks for free.

And that’s just how it’s sold – or rather, how it is marketed by politicians such as the Hair Plugged Man, who specialize in the free lunch paid for by someone else.

To the average ear 50 MPG sounds great. If it takes a prod from the government to make the recalcitrant  car industry build efficient cars, then so be it.

The cost of this is never explained to people – because then it would not sound so great. How much is a 50 MPG car worth if it costs 25 percent more to buy than a 35 MPG car? If it is twice as complex – and so twice as likely to break down or need an expensive repair at some point during its lifetime?

What if it costs you what you need in terms of capability?

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