Category Archives: Economy

The US, China, and the Geopolitical Battle for Monetary Dominance, by Nick Giambruno

Traditionally the world’s strongest power has the world’s reserve currency. From Nick Giambruno at internationalman.com:

Geopolitical Battle for Monetary Dominance

International Man: In a recent interview, we discussed the battle for monetary supremacy between fiat, bitcoin, and gold—but in the geopolitical sense, the country with the “best” money ultimately imposes its dominance on others.

Today, the US dollar is still the global reserve currency, but the US fiscal and monetary policy now resembles the destructive money printing of every other country.

What does this mean for the US and its financial chokehold on the rest of the world?

Nick Giambruno: First, I think it’s important to clarify something.

You often hear the media, politicians, and financial analysts toss around the word trillion without appreciating what it really means.

A trillion is an enormous, almost incomprehensible number.

The human mind has trouble wrapping itself around something so big. So let me try to put it into perspective.

One million seconds ago was about 11 days ago.

One billion seconds ago was 1989.

One trillion seconds ago was 30,000 BC.

So that’s how big a trillion is.

When politicians carelessly spend and print money in the trillions, you know you’re in dangerous territory. That’s precisely what is happening in the US right now.

After the onset of the COVID hysteria, the US government adopted a policy of printing money to finance growing multi-trillion-dollar deficits forever. This is what Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is all about, and it’s already here.

Likewise, the COVID stimulus checks are the beginnings of a Universal Basic Income (UBI). There is no way any politician will ever be able to roll them back, much less stop them entirely. Who is going to beat Santa Claus in an election?

By embracing MMT and a UBI, the US has embarked on the most dangerous economic experiment since communism.

Eventually, all this spending financed by money printing will destroy the currency.

This is precisely the same problem that has trapped Argentina in a perpetual cycle of hyperinflation and economic collapse. And even then, it’s politically impossible to get rid of the freebies, so the process starts up again.

Here’s the bottom line. With MMT and a UBI, the US has gone beyond the monetary point of no return.

That’s why individuals, companies, and foreign governments will inevitably look to alternatives to the US dollar and financial system. As they do, a large part of the US government’s geopolitical leverage will evaporate.

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Are the Halcyon Days Over for Joe Biden? by Patrick J. Buchanan

Did Joe Biden have any halcyon days, his whole entire life? From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

On taking the oath of office, Jan. 20, Joe Biden may not have realized it, but history had dealt him a pair of aces.

The COVID-19 pandemic had reached its apex, infecting a quarter of a million Americans every day. Yet, due to the discovery and distribution of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the incidence of infections had crested and was about to turn sharply down.

By May, the infection rate had fallen 80%, as had the death toll.

Thanks to the Operation Warp Speed program driven by President Donald Trump, the country made amazing strides in Biden’s first 100 days toward solving the major crises he inherited: the worst pandemic since the Spanish flu of 1918-1919 and the economic crash it had engendered.

But Biden’s pace car has hit the wall.

Where economists had predicted employment gains of a million new jobs in April, the jolting figure came in at about a fourth of that number.

One explanation: The $300-a-week in bonus unemployment checks the Biden recovery plan provides may have been a sufficient inducement for workers to stay home until their benefits ran out.

Workers might reasonably ask: Why go back to work when we can take the summer off, with full unemployment, plus $300 a week?

After the crushing jobs report came the inflation figure from April.

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If Not Now – WHEN?? by Dennis Miller

The Fed is never going to do anything about inflation. It can’t, the government can’t pay higher rates and the Fed has to keep buying the government’s debt. From Dennis Miller at theburningplatform.com:

My grandfather was a WWII Army Sargent, an uneducated farmer with a Ph.D. in common sense. One of the lessons he preached; the longer you ignore a problem, the more it will grow.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell never met my grandfather.

This Schiff Gold article confirms my grandfather’s thinking: (Emphasis mine)

“During a webinar sponsored by the Economic Club of Washington DC, Powell said the economy can handle the current debt load. But he did warn that the long-term trajectory of the US budget is unsustainable.

‘The US federal budget is on an unsustainable path, meaning simply that the debt is growing meaningfully faster than the economy. And that’s by definition unsustainable over time. It’s a different thing to say the current level of the debt is unsustainable. It’s not. The current level of debt is very sustainable….’

Powell said the US government will eventually have to ‘get back to a sustainable path.’

‘That is something that is best done in very good times when the economy is at full employment and when taxes are rolling in. This is not the time to prioritize than concern.’

…. Newsflash – this will never happen.

Of one thing you can be certain – politicians will always find a reason to borrow and spend money.

…. Powell is right when he says the federal budget is on an unsustainable path. He’s wrong to imply anything will ever be done about it. The powers that be will stay right on that unsustainable path to the bitter end. And it will be a bitter end.”

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It’s Getting Serious: Dollar’s Purchasing Power Plunges Most since 2007. But it’s a Lot Worse than it Appears, by Wolf Richter

There are lies, damn lies, and government inflation statistics. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

Fed officials, economists “surprised” by surge in CPI inflation, but we’ve seen it for months, including “scary-crazy” inflation in some corners.

The Consumer Price Index jumped 0.8% in April from March, after having jumped 0.6% in March from February – both the sharpest month-to-month jumps since 2009 – and after having jumped 0.4% in February, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics today. For the three months combined, CPI has jumped by 1.7%, or by 7.0% “annualized.” So that’s what we’re looking at: 7% CPI inflation and accelerating.

Consumer price inflation is the politically correct way of saying the consumer dollar – everything denominated in dollars for consumers, such as their labor – is losing purchasing power. And the purchasing power of the “consumer dollar” plunged by 1.1% in April from March, or 12% “annualized,” according to BLS data. From record low to record low. Over the past three months, the purchasing power of the consumer dollars has plunged by 2.1%, the biggest three-month drop since 2007. “Annualized,” over those three months, the purchasing power of the dollar dropped at an annual rate of 8.4%:

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US Core Consumer Prices Explode Higher At Fastest Pace Since 1981, by Tyler Durden

Inflation is in the ascendancy, thanks to nonstop debt monetization since the end of 2019. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

After March’s blowout 0.6% MoM surge in headline CPI, analysts expected a modest slowdown MoM, but surge YoY due to the base-effect comps from April 2020’s collapse. However, it appears analyst massively underestimated as headline CPI surged 0.8% MoM (4 times the +0.2% expected) and exploded 4.2% YoY. That is the biggest YoY jump since Sept 2008 (and biggest MoM jump since June 2008)

Source: Bloomberg

Core CPI was expected to rise by the most this millennia, but it was hotter than that. The index for all items less food and energy rose 3.0% over the past 12 months; this was its largest 12-month increase since January 1996… and the MoM jump of 0.92% is the biggest since 1981

Source: Bloomberg

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Jim Grant: The Fed Can’t Control Inflation, from SchiffGold

It’s a comforting notion to many people, the idea that wise bureaucrats can manage something as complicated as the economy. Too bad they can’t do it. From Jim Grant at schiffgold.com:

 

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell insists inflation is “transitory.” As prices have spiked throughout the economy, Powell’s messaging has essentially been, “Move along. Nothing to see here.”

Peter Schiff has been saying the central bankers at the Fed can’t actually tell the truth about inflation because even if they acknowledge it’s a problem (and it is) they can’t do anything about it.

In a recent talk, Jim Grant, investment guru and founder of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, echoed Peter, saying the Fed can’t control inflation.

During a webcast sponsored by State Street SPDR ETFs, Grant said he thinks “there’s a gale of inflation of all kinds in progress,” adding that he believes it will take the Fed by surprise and “overwhelm our monetary masters.” Grant said, inflation is “clear and present and will manifest itself in our everyday lives.”

That sounds like the exact opposite of Powell’s “transitory” mantra.

Peter has said that once the Fed is forced to admit that inflation isn’t transitory, it will be too late to take action. Grant made a similar prediction, saying inflation will “catch the Fed flatfooted. In response it will “prevaricate” – meaning speak or act in an evasive way. In fact, that already seems to be the central bank’s strategy.

The question is can the Fed actually control inflation. Grant doesn’t think so.

I think the Fed is under the misconception that it controls events. Sometimes, events control the Fed, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was one of those times. The Fed thinks that not only can it control events, but it can measure them. It believes it can pinpoint the rate of inflation.”

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The Raptures of Hyper-Complexity, by James Howard Kunstler

Hyper-complexity is this case means Rube Goldbergesque. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

Looks like The New York Times will have to recalibrate its president-o-meter. For five months they’ve been styling Joe Biden as the reincarnation of FDR, but he’s looking more and more like the second coming of Millard Fillmore — who came to leadership of the dominant Whig Party at exactly the moment it flew up the wazoo of history and vanished, ushering in a civil war.

FDR, you remember, was faced with a momentous systems failure, a crisis we came to call the Great Depression. I’m not sure we actually learned the lesson of that, despite thousands of books and PhD dissertations on the subject. The lesson: financial systems tend to expand and complexify at a more rapid rate than the larger economic systems of which they are a component. Their abstract operations seek to hide risk in hyper-complexity until hazard comes a’callin’ and then you discover that the actual money is not there.

The difference then (1929 – 1941) was that the greater US economy was fully outfitted for industrial production when its finance sector blew up. There was something solid underneath all that financial abstraction. We were all set up to manufacture products of value, many of them based on inventions developed here: cars, movies, airplanes, radios, you-name-it, new and exciting things that people wanted to buy. Our factories were all pretty much up-to-date and state-of-the-art then, too. Our oil supply, including the industry that pumped it out of the ground and moved it from points A to B, was the envy of the world. We had raw materials up the ying-yang. The whole kit was humming magnificently when Wall Street blew up, and next thing you know unemployment goes to twenty-five percent and nobody has any money and the luckless are building cardboard shanties in Central Park.

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Keep It Simple: Gold vs. a Mad World, by Matthew Piepenburg

Everybody should own some precious metals, not as speculations against currencies, but as protection—a medium of exchange and a store of value—should fiat currencies collapse. From Matthew Piepenburg at goldswitzerland.com:

Psychologists, poets and philosophers have written for centuries that many who have eyes refuse to see, and many who can think, refuse to think clearly–all for the simple reason that some truths, like the sun, are just too hard to look straight into.

Or as others have said more bluntly: “Truth is like poetry—everyone [fricking] hates it.”

When it comes to bloated markets, debt orgies and helicopter money, the rising fun of such “stimulus” is embraced, yet the template for its equally market-tanking, social-destroying and currency-debasing consequences are simply ignored.

The same is true when it comes to the “great inflation debate,” which is simply no longer a debate but a neon-screaming reality playing out in real time and growing more pernicious before eyes otherwise blinded by calming Fed-speak and bogus inflation scales.

Each passing day, the evidence of the inflationary cancer beneath the smiling surface of our still rising markets and “recovering/opening” economy increases, and thus, like it or not, the inflation topic just won’t and can’t be over-stated enough.

In short: Here I go again with the inflation thing…

From the Grocer to Buffet: Inflation is Obvious

Extreme US “stimulus,” vaccine rollouts, Europe’s eventual reopening, and rising commodity costs are accelerating the inflationary tailwinds which everyone from grocery store clerks and home builders to Warren Buffet can no longer deny or ignore.

As facts rather than theories confirm, commodity prices have surged from steel to copper, or corn to lumber while precious metals steadily rise against COMEX price fixers, CPI lies and other unsustainable boots to the neck of a coiled gold market positioned for big moves into late 2021 and beyond.

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The Inflation Monster Has Been Unleashed, by Bruce Wilds

Given the copious amounts of debt the Federal Reserve has monetized, rising prices are inevitable. From Bruce Wilds at brucewilds.blogspot.com:

The monster known as inflation has been unleashed upon the world and will not easily retreat into the night. This is reflected in soaring commodity and housing prices. Due to the stupid and self-serving policies of the Fed, we are about to experience a massive shift in the way we live. Bubbling up to the surface is also the recognition the Fed has played a major role in pushing inequality higher. This means that inflation is about to devour the purchasing power of our income and the savings of those that have worked hard and saved over the years.

Over the months we have watched Fed Chairman Jerome Powell time and time again cut rates and increase the Fed’s balance sheet. This has hurt savers, forced investors into risky investments in search of yield, damaged the dollar, encouraged politicians to spend like drunken sailors, and increased inequality. The greatest wealth transfer in history has already begun and the next crisis will only accelerate the process. Sadly, the same policies that dump huge money into larger businesses because it is an easier and faster way to bolster the economy give these concerns a huge advantage over their smaller competitors.

For decades the American people have watched their incomes lag behind the cost of living. To make matters worse, the official numbers of the so-called Consumer Price Index (CPI) have been rigged to understate inflation and not to reflect the true impact it was having on our lives. Want to know where the real cost of things is going, just look at the replacement cost from recent storms and natural disasters. Currently, the government understates inflation by using a formula based on the concept of a “constant level of satisfaction” that evolved during the first half of the 20th century in academia. This has skewed expectations and led many people to think inflation is not something they need to worry about.

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What Will You Do When Inflation Forces U.S. Households To Spend 40 Percent Of Their Incomes On Food? by Michael Snyder

Perhaps we’ll eat less, or eat lower quality food. Inflation is showing up at the grocery stores big time, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be “transitory.” From Michael Snyder at theeconomiccollapseblog.com:

Did you know that the price of corn has risen 142 percent in the last 12 months?  Of course corn is used in hundreds of different products we buy at the grocery store, and so everyone is going to feel the pain of this price increase.  But it isn’t just the price of corn that is going crazy.  We are seeing food prices shoot up dramatically all across the industry, and experts are warning that this is just the very beginning.  So if you think that food prices are bad now, just wait, because they are going to get a whole lot worse.

Typically, Americans spend approximately 10 percent of their disposable personal incomes on food.  The following comes directly from the USDA website

In 2019, Americans spent an average of 9.5 percent of their disposable personal incomes on food—divided between food at home (4.9 percent) and food away from home (4.6 percent). Between 1960 and 1998, the average share of disposable personal income spent on total food by Americans, on average, fell from 17.0 to 10.1 percent, driven by a declining share of income spent on food at home.

Needless to say, the poorest Americans spend more of their incomes on food than the richest Americans.

According to the USDA, the poorest households spent an average of 36 percent of their disposable personal incomes on food in 2019…

As their incomes rise, households spend more money on food, but it represents a smaller overall budget share. In 2019, households in the lowest income quintile spent an average of $4,400 on food (representing 36.0 percent of income), while households in the highest income quintile spent an average of $13,987 on food (representing 8.0 percent of income).

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