Category Archives: Money

Warning Light Flashing Red, by Charles Hugh Smith

People ignore warning lights in financial markets until they get run over. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

When the warning light is flashing red, it’s prudent to have a capital preservation strategy in place.

Not everyone has an IRA or 401K invested in the stock market, for those who do, the red warning light is flashing red: markets have reached historic extremes on numerous fronts.

Just like in 2000, proponents claim “this time it’s different.” Back then, the claim was that since the Internet would be growing for decades, dot-com stocks could go to the moon and beyond.

The claim the the Internet would continue growing was sound, but the prediction that this growth would drive stock valuations into a never-ending bubble was unsound.

Once again we hear reasonable-sounding claims being used to support predictions of a never-ending rise in stock valuations.

What hasn’t changed is humans are still running Wetware 1.0 which has default settings for extremes of emotion, particularly manic euphoria, running with the herd (a.k.a. FOMO, fear of missing out) and panic / fear.

Despite all the assurances to the contrary, all bubbles pop because they are based in human emotions. We attempt to rationalize them by invoking the real world, but the reality is speculative manias are manifestations of human emotions and the feedback of running in a herd of social animals.

Continue reading→

Why the future money is gold and silver, by Alasdair Macleod

Why we’ll be using gold, silver, and convertible currencies and not cryptocurrencies as the official means of exchange after fiat collapses. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:

A reminder why they always will be sound money and why bitcoin cannot fill that role

With bitcoin’s price still rising and expected to rise even more, there has been a growing belief in cryptocurrency circles that it will replace unbacked government currencies when they eventually fail.

The assumptions behind this conclusion are naïve, exposing hardly any knowledge in what qualities are needed for sound money. This article agrees that current events are accelerating the path towards fiat destruction, and that historical precedents point to their eventual replacement with a sounder form of money. But what that money will be is decided when governments lose control over their fiat; and the public, its users, through free markets will set the monetary agenda.

Only then will the general public determine the qualities required, and in the past, it has always opted for metallic money. And because government treasury departments and their central banks coincidently possess only gold in their non-fiat reserves, its monetisation is the only option for governments to survive the collapse of their fiat currencies. That is what will eventually happen, with silver perhaps fulfilling a subsidiary monetary role to gold.

Introduction

While increasing numbers of the fiat investment community understand that the quantities of government money are being expanded without any sign of limitation, they have also concluded that bitcoin, not gold, is the pure investment play because over the next few years bitcoin will approach its final quantity.

It is almost certain that like the majority of gold and silver bulls hodlers expect to sell bitcoin for profit measured in their governments’ currencies, creating for themselves relative wealth in dollars, euros, yen — whatever their governments impose on their citizens as money. But it is an investor’s, or speculator’s approach, which is accompanied by feverish examination of charts, confirmation bias from “experts” and only a half-understood concept of what is driving the price. So sudden and wonderful has been the unbanked wealth creation in leading cryptocurrencies, that investors commonly proclaim that gold and silver are yesterday’s story and that we oldies should move with the times.

Continue reading→

From the Notebook: The Digital Yuan, Proof of Guns, and the Expiration of Money, by Tom Luongo

Central bank digital currencies aren’t going to fix the mess central banks have made of their non-digital currencies. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

One of the things that converted me to the Austrian way of thinking about the economy was the concept of money with an expiration date.  Early articles at Lewrockwell.com and Mises.org covering hyperinflations of various forms and kinds horrified me when banknotes and government scrip reached the point of forcing people to spend money versus having it lose its ‘legal tender’ status.

Money that ‘expired’ like points on your credit card was simply a horrifying idea.

Martin Armstrong makes the point all the time that the main reason why the U.S. dollar is the world’s reserve currency is because it is the only modern government-issued currency that hasn’t been defaulted on in over two hundred years.

In fact, it was the consolidation of the Colonial government debt held over from the Revolutionary War which ultimately doomed the government under the Articles of Confederation giving rise to the current U.S. constitution and its monopoly power to issue dollars.

That power gave the Constitution its power as an international player, telling the world the new government honored its debts. The inability of the ECB today to control the debt issuance of the euro-zone states is that currency zone’s fatal flaw and why any move towards consolidation of that power is the goal of all EU fiscal and EU monetary policy.

Absent that the EU is doomed to the same fate as the Articles of Confederation.

Fast forward to today with the world awaiting the birth of the first Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), the Digital Yuan from China, and we see the concept of expiration being embedded directly into what looks like the next monetary system planned for us.

We’ve come full circle, folks.

Continue reading→

From American Dream to American Nightmare, by Jim Quinn

How did America go from the land of opportunity to the land of crybabies, grifters, rampant corruption, fake money, and UBI? From Jim Quinn at theburningplatform.com:

For most of the ninety years since James Truslow Adams coined the term American Dream, most Americans still believed the fairy tale of the American Dream, that no matter how humble your beginnings, everyone had a fair chance to become a success in America, based upon your individual talent, intelligence, work ethic and a society that rewarded those who exceled. Sadly, that dream is no longer achievable for most Americans. Our society has devolved into an oligarchy since The Epic of America was published in 1931, where a powerful few rule over a willfully ignorant many through propaganda, mistruth, fear, and an iron fist.

Amazon.com: The Epic of America eBook: Adams, James Truslow: Kindle Store

“But there has been also the American dream, that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position…

The American dream, that has lured tens of millions of all nations to our shores in the past century has not been a dream of merely material plenty, though that has doubtlessly counted heavily. It has been much more than that. It has been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in the older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class.” – James Truslow Adams – Epic of America – 1931

Continue reading→

Expect Inflation to Accelerate? Here’s 8 Reasons to Expect Decelerating Inflation, by Mike “Mish” Shedlock

There’s been a chorus of commentators and economists predicting big increases in inflation, and SLL has been part of that crowd. However, we don’t mind posting well-reasoned contrary viewpoints. Here’s an analysis of why the crowd might be wrong, from Mike “Mish” Shedlock at thestreet.com:

Lacy Hunt at Hoisington Management has some interesting thoughts regarding the inflation debate.
Case for Decelerating Inflation

In its Quarterly Review and Outlook for the First Quarter of 2021 Lacy Hunt makes a case for decelerating inflation.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, disinflation is more likely than accelerating inflation. Since prices deflated in the second quarter of 2020, the annual inflation rate will move transitorily higher. Once these base effects are exhausted, cyclical, structural, and monetary considerations suggest that the inflation rate will moderate lower by year end and will undershoot the Fed Reserve’s target of 2%. The inflationary psychosis that has gripped the bond market will fade away in the face of such persistent disinflation.

After declining 5.2% in 2020, or the most since World War II, world-wide real per capita GDP is estimated to rise 4.7% in 2021. The United States will perform even better, rising 6.2%, after a contraction of 4.9% in 2020. The U.S. growth rate this year could be the fastest since 1984 and possibly even since 1950 (Chart 1).

Five considerations suggest that such growth is not likely to lead to sustaining inflation.

Lacy said 5. I added a 6th bullet point from his discussion, then added 2 more points of my own.

Six Reasons to Expect Disinflation

  1. Inflation is a lagging indicator, as classified by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The low in inflation occurred after all of the past four recessions, with an average lag of almost fifteen quarters from the end of the recessions. (Table 1 Inflation Troughs Below)
  2. Productivity rebounds in recoveries and vigorously so in the aftermath of deep recessions. This pattern in productivity is quite apparent after the deep recessions ending in 1949, 1958 and 1982 (Table 2 Below). Productivity rebounded by an average of 4.8% in the year immediately after the end of these three recessions and unit labor costs were unchanged. The rise in productivity held down unit labor costs.

Continue reading→

“You’d Have To Shut Down The Internet” To Ban Bitcoin, Says SEC’s Hester Peirce, by Tyler Durden

Will governments ban Bitcoin and other private cryptocurrencies? Tread carefully, it’s not clear what the outcome will be. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Any government efforts to ban Bitcoin would be “foolish,” said Hester Peirce (aka “Crypto Mom”), a very Bitcoin-friendly commissioner at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), during a MarketWatch virtual conference earlier this week, according to Cryptoslate reporter Liam Frost.

“I think we were past that point very early on because you’d have to shut down the Internet,” Peirce said, adding, “I don’t see how you could ban it. You could certainly make the effort. It would be very hard to stop people from [trading Bitcoin]. So I think it would be a foolish thing for the government to try to do that.”

Not only that, but the government would immediately wipe out $2 trillion in net wealth – the market cap of the crypto sector – an event that would have profoundly deleveraging consequences, and since much of that wealth is now backed by debt, for example all those debt-funded purchases of bitcoin by Microstrategy, such a move by the government would immediately destabilize the all important debt market.

The statement came on the heels of Ray Dalio, a billionaire investor and founder of Bridgewater Associates, arguing that there’s “a good probability” that governments around the world would ban Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Dalio told Yahoo Finance:

“Every country treasures its monopoly on controlling the supply and demand. They don’t want other monies to be operating or competing, because things can get out of control. They outlawed gold, that’s why also outlawing Bitcoin is a good probability.”

However, according to Peirce, the main issue for authorities—at least when it comes to cryptocurrencies—is to find an approach to regulation that would be productive and non-restrictive at the same time. She noted:

“We’ve seen other countries take, I would say, a more productive approach. We really need to turn that around. And I’m optimistic, with a new chairman coming in with a deep knowledge of these markets, that is something we could do together—build a good regulatory framework.”

At the same time, Peirce also pointed out that she doesn’t know when—or if—a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) will finally be approved in the U.S. Recently, we’ve seen a new wave of major investment companies, such as Fidelity Investments, SkyBridge Capital, and VanEck, filing their applications for Bitcoin ETFs with the SEC.

The regulator, however, never approved a single filing of this kind so far, which as discussed earlier, may be a good thing for not only bitcoin but the entire nascent DeFi ecosystem where hundreds of billions in very real money is now intertwined.

Continue reading→

War on Cash: The Next Phase, by James Rickards

Central bank-issued digital currencies will have only one of the advantages of private cryptocurrencies (ease of transactions), all of the disadvantages of government issued currencies (e.g. debasement), and an additional disadvantage that cash doesn’t have (government tracking of your transactions. From James Rickards at dailyreckoning.com:

With so much news about an economic reopening, a border crisis, massive government spending and exploding deficits, it’s easy to overlook the ongoing war on cash.

That’s a mistake because it has serious implications not only for your money, but for your privacy and personal freedom, as you’ll see today.

Cash prevents central banks from imposing negative interest rates because if they did, people would withdraw their cash from the banking system.

If they stuff their cash in a mattress, they don’t earn anything on it; that’s true. But at least they’re not losing anything on it.

Once all money is digital, you won’t have the option of withdrawing your cash and avoiding negative rates. You will be trapped in a digital pen with no way out.

What about moving your money into cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin?

Governments Won’t Surrender Their Monopoly Over Money

Let’s first understand that governments enjoy a monopoly on money creation, and they’re not about to surrender that monopoly to digital currencies like Bitcoin.

Libertarian supporters of cryptos celebrate their decentralized nature and lack of government control. Yet, their belief in the sustainability of powerful systems outside government control is naïve.

Blockchain does not exist in the ether (despite the name of one cryptocurrency), and it does not reside on Mars.

Blockchain depends on critical infrastructure, including servers, telecommunications networks, the banking system, and the power grid, all of which are subject to government control.

But governments know they cannot stop the technology platforms on which cryptocurrencies are based. The technology has come too far to turn back now.

Continue reading→

MMT Is a Disaster Waiting to Happen, by James Rickards

There is no economic theory so stupid that it won’t have its adherents in academia. From James Rickards at dailyreckoning.com:

MMT is the most potentially damaging economic doctrine I have ever encountered, with the exception of communism.

Let’s begin with the idea that the Fed and Treasury should be merged in practice so that the Fed will monetize any amount of spending or borrowing the Treasury wants.

The reason markets have any confidence at all in the Fed is precisely because they are perceived as independent of congressional spending plans. MMT takes this confidence for granted and assumes the Fed can just crank up the printing press whenever the Treasury likes.

But, as soon as this kind of coordinated effort appears, markets will lose confidence, inflation expectations will soar and interest rates will skyrocket. The plan would collapse before it really began. This is exactly the type of adaptive behavior by investors and markets that MMT academics do not understand.

MMT says that a currency issuer such as the U.S. can never go broke because it can simply print money to pay off the debt (provided the borrowings are in the same currency as the printed money). This may be true in some narrow, literal sense, but it does not mean investors have to wait around for the trainwreck.

IMG 1

The evidence is strong that debt-to-GDP ratios above 90% are a major headwind for growth. Today that ratio is 130% and heading higher. More borrowing does not produce growth; it simply makes the debt problem worse.

Continue reading→

88 Years Ago, FDR Banned Gold. Will A Bitcoin Ban Be Next? by Tho Bishop

Governments always want a monopoly on money, although they invariably mismanage said monopolies. From Tho Bishop of mises.org:

Today is the eighty-eighth anniversary of Executive Order 6102, signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “forbidding the hoarding of gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates within the continental United States.” The order was one of the several disastrous responses to the Great Depression that succeeded in escalating the financial crisis. Later in the year, the US Congress would pass a resolution retroactively supporting the legislation; however, it was the determined autocratic leadership of FDR that made way for these unprecedented measures. It would be a crime for Americans to hold gold for over forty years, until President Gerald Ford reversed the order in 1974.

This episode has several lessons for the current financial environment, particularly given the acceleration of tyranny-by-expert rule that has taken over much of the worst this past year.

The underlying legislation that evoked by FDR’s executive order was the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917—a by-product of World War I—despite the fact that the US was in no way in a period of war in 1932. Similarly, we have seen war on terror–inspired financial legislation increasingly used against American citizens. For example, in the name of “fighting terrorism” the US PATRIOT Act significantly increased know-your-customer laws, empowering federal regulators to use the traditional banking system to better track the economic behavior of American citizens.

In the eyes of the federal government, “antiterrorism” legislation was quickly expanded to include additional missions—such as stopping money laundering and drug crimes. Increasingly, these bogeymen have been used by policymakers around the world to erode financial privacy assets—such as cash and secret Swiss bank accounts.

Continue reading→

Did Hunter Biden Incriminate Himself In A Federal Crime? by Jonathan Turley

The questions mainstream media ask Hunter Biden are almost as softball as those they ask his father. From Jonathan Turley at jonathanturley.org:

Below is my column in The Hill on recent interviews by Hunter Biden, which appear to incriminate him in a possible federal felony. What is most striking from a journalistic perspective is that Biden’s book is a target rich environment for reporters with references to his alleged influence peddling, abandoned laptop, and drug abuses. Yet every major network and newspaper that interviewed Biden skillfully avoided any damaging questions.  It was no small feat to delicately avoid obvious problems in his account while seemingly interviewing him on those subjects. Reporters would raise the laptop of Burisma contract and then just shrug and move on without any serious followup. The glaring contradictions were left unaddressed like admitting that he was a crack addict during the time he was receiving massive contracts from foreign companies due to his unestablished “expertise” on energy issues. The conflicts with his own father’s accounts were entirely ignored. The protective press cocoon around Hunter and his father remained intact.

In the end, it is not the possible crime by Biden but the demonstrable collusion by the media that is more of the story from these interviews.

Here is the column:

News anchor Lester Holt recently declared that “it has become clearer that fairness is overrated,” adding that “the idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in.” Fortunately for Hunter Biden, that world is the one in which he lives and thrives. In interviews about his memoir “Beautiful Things,” some reporters either misstate the facts of his prior scandals or ignore certain leads, including potential evidence of a federal crime.

Facts, like fairness, appear overrated to much of the media today.

Continue reading→