Tag Archives: Credit

As West, Debt, & Stocks Implode, East Gold & Oil Will Explode, by Egon Von Greyerz

There is no way the world can escape a massive debt implosion. From Egon Von Greyerz at goldswitzerland.com:

“The risk of over-tightening by the European Central Bank is nothing less than catastrophic” says Prof Kenneth Rogoff .

At Davos he also said: “Italy is extremely vulnerable. But this could pop anywhere. Global debt has gone up massively since the pandemic: public debt, corporate debt, everything.”

Rogoff believes that it is a miracle that the world averted a financial crisis in 2022, but the odds of a major accident are shortening as the delayed effects of past tightening feed through.

As Rogoff said: “We were very fortunate that we didn’t have a global systemic event in 2022, and we can count our blessings for that, but rates are still going higher and the risk keeps rising.”

But lurking in the murkiness is also the global financial assets/liabilities which is almost $500 trillion including the shadow banking system at 46% of the total. The shadow banking sector includes  pension funds, hedge funds and other financial institutions which are largely unregulated.

oil

Shadow banking is not subject to the normal mark-to-market rules. Thus no one knows what the real position or losses are. This means that central banks are in the dark when it comes to evaluation of the real risks of the system.

Clearly, I am not the only one harping on about the catastrophic global debt/liability situation.

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The evolution of credit and debt in 2023, by Alasdair Macleod

The productive sector of the U.S. economy is already in a recession. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:

The evidence strongly suggests that a combined interest rate, economic and currency crisis for the US and its western alliance will continue in 2023.

This article focuses on credit, its constraints, and why quantitative easing has already crowded out private sector activity. Adjusting M2 money supply for accumulating QE indicates the degree to which this has driven the US tax base into deep recession. And the wider effects on credit in the economy should not be ignored. 

After a brief partial recovery from the covid crisis in US government finances, they are likely to start deteriorating again due to a deepening recession of private sector activity. Funding these deficits depends on foreign inward investment flows, which are faltering. Rising interest rates and an ongoing bear market make funding from this source hard to envisage.

Meanwhile, from his public statements President Putin is fully aware of these difficulties, and a consequence of the western alliance increasing their support and involvement in Ukraine makes it almost certain that Putin will take the opportunity to push the dollar over the edge.

Credit is much more than bank deposits

Economics is about credit, and its balance sheet twin, debt. Debt is either productive, in which case it can extinguish credit in due course, or it is not, and credit must be extended or written off. Money almost never comes into it. Money is distinguished from credit by having no counterparty risk, which credit always has. The role of money is to stabilise the purchasing power of credit. And the only legal form of money is metallic; gold, silver, or copper usually rendered into coin for enhanced fungibility.

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Legal definitions of money and credit, by Alasdair Macleod

The title is dry but the article is not. If you don’t know the difference between money and credit, what’s happening in the world’s financial system and what’s about to happen will be incomprehensible. This is a great tutorial, from Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:

At these times of growing confusion over the future of currencies’ purchasing power, it is time to remove all doubt in the definitions of the differences between money, currency, and credit. This article traces the history and legal background to these relationships.

Despite the failure of the Bretton Woods agreement in 1971 and the state propaganda that followed, the position is clear. Both historically and legally money is and remains metallic coin — principally gold — and the rest is credit. 

As a result of statist puffery of their fiat currencies, the public now wrongly believes it is fiat currencies that are money and that currencies have no price, except against each other. I show that this is factually incorrect. However, in financial markets legal money is always priced in legal tender, usually US dollar currency, when it should be the other way round. This inversion of the truth will turn out to be a costly error for those making this mistake.

In this article, I also show that the adverse consequences for prices from changes in the level of total commercial bank credit are significantly less than they are for changes in the level of central bank credit. Now that we are on the verge of a severe contraction of commercial bank credit, governments and their central banks are sure to respond by ramping up inflation of their currencies in a vain attempt to avoid deflation.

The consequences for fiat currencies are likely to be calamitous for them. 

That will be the penalty we all face for ignoring the wisdom and findings of the Roman jurors, thinking that we know better with our economic models, macroeconomic policies, and statist control of markets.

Over two millennia of their careful deliberations, it was the Roman jurors who thoroughly examined and properly defined the difference between money and credit, upon which all economics and modern banking depend. Current monetary and economic fashions are mere ephemera in that context.

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Imploding credit — the consequences, by Alasdair Macleod

Keynesian economics says you can’t have inflation and recession (or depression) simultaneously. The real world says different. Alasdair Macleod explains. From Macleod at goldmoney.com:

There is a growing realisation that the world faces a combination of persistent inflation of prices and a recession at the same time. The factors driving both are visibly intensifying. Those of us versed in the cycle of bank credit are aware that it is the contraction of bank balance sheets which is driving the recession, while it is continuing currency debasement driving inflation.

Neo-Keynesians in the establishment think the current position is contradictory, that current rates of price inflation will decline back to their 2% target in a recession, and interest rates can then be reduced to stimulate economic activity. 

The key to understanding why prices can continue to rise in a recession requires a fuller understanding of the role of credit in an economy and what it represents. Its role is far greater than commonly thought, with considerably more than several quadrillions of dollar equivalents outstanding. All economic activity and wealth are credit. This article sketches out the various types of credit, and how credit equates to our collective wealth.

It also requires us to differentiate between a currency which is anchored to gold specie and one without a specie anchor. The former imposes a discipline on the state of non-intervention, while the latter encourages intervention. It is that intervention which leads to fiat currencies and all credit based upon it finally collapsing.

The importance of credit

That the monetary authorities do not understand credit might seem unbelievable. But evidenced by their actions, it is the only explanation for their mistakes. Clearly, as well as credit they don’t understand the importance of money, having banished gold from its role of anchoring the purchasing power of credit. The vested interest of replacing gold with currency, to obtain for governments the benefit of unfettered debasement, is ignored or forgotten by today’s state-educated economists and commentators. Disregarding what drove the dollar off the Bretton Woods standard in the first place, the establishment in the broadest sense can no longer distinguish between credit and legal money.

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How to Think About the Fed Now, by Jeff Deist

The Federal Reserve was blowing up the economy before anyone had heard of the coronavirus. From Jeff Deist at mises.org:

This text is excerpted from the introduction to Anatomy of the Crash, a Mises Institute ebook to be released in April 2020.]

The Great Crash of 2020 was not caused by a virus. It was precipitated by the virus, and made worse by the crazed decisions of governments around the world to shut down business and travel. But it was caused by economic fragility. The supposed greatest economy in US history actually was a walking sick man, made comfortable with painkillers, and looking far better than he felt—yet ultimately fragile and infirm. The coronavirus pandemic simply exposed the underlying sickness of the US economy. If anything, the crash was overdue.

Too much debt, too much malinvestment, and too little honest pricing of assets and interest rates made America uniquely vulnerable to economic contagion. Most of this vulnerability can be laid at the feet of central bankers at the Federal Reserve, and we will pay a terrible price for it in the coming years. This is an uncomfortable truth, one that central bankers desperately hope to obscure while the media and public remain fixated on the virus.

But we should not let them get away with it, because (at least when it comes to legacy media) the Fed’s gross malfeasance is perhaps the biggest untold story of our lifetimes.

Symptoms of problems were readily apparent just last September during the commercial bank repo crisis. After more than a decade of quantitative easing, relentless interest rate cutting, and huge growth in “excess” reserves (more than $1.5 trillion) parked at the Fed, banks still did not have enough overnight liquidity? The repo market exposed how banks were capital contstrained, not reserve constrained. So what exactly was the point of taking the Fed’s balance sheet from less than $1 trillion to over $4 trillion, anyway? Banks still needed money, after a decade of QE?

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Neoliberal Economics Destroyed the Economy and the Middle Class, by Paul Craig Roberts

The mixed economy has been an unmixed curse on most Americans, especially the ones who don’t want to live off their countrymen. From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.org:

According to official US government economic data, the US economy has been growing for 10.5 years since June of 2009. The reason that the US government can produce this false conclusion is that costs that are subtrahends from GDP are not included in the measure. Instead, many costs are counted not as subtractions from growth but as additions to growth. For example, the penalty interest on a person’s credit card balance that results when a person falls behind his payments is counted as an increase in “financial services” and as an increase in Gross Domestic Product. The economic world is stood on its head.

It is aggregate demand that drives the economy. Payments made on a rise in interest rates on credit card balances from 19% to a 29% penalty rate reduce consumers’ ability to contribute to aggregate demand by purchasing goods and the services of doctors, lawyers, plumbers, electricians, and carpenters. Contrary to logic, the fee is magically counted in the “financial services” category as a contributor to GDP growth. The extortion of a fee that reduces aggregate demand lowers GDP, but builds paper wealth in the financial services sector.

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Resolving creeping communism, by Alasdair Macleod

Alasdair Macleod explains why socialism can’t work, particularly the socialization of money. From Macleod at goldmoney.com:

The thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain coincides with a popular resurgence of communism and a drift into more socialism. A collective amnesia sees a return of the Soviet Union’s failed policies in a Marxist Labour party in Britain. Increasing socialism is expressed by US Democrats contending for the primaries.

This article explains the basic economic fallacies common to both. It clarifies why state ownership of the means of production does not resolve the problem of economic calculation in a socialist economy. It also explains the errors in socialistic condemnation of free markets.

And finally, it points out that very few of us realise we are more socialist than we think when we endorse government control of possibly our most important common commodity, which is our everyday money. But there is a simple solution: stop accommodating crony capitalists.

Introduction

This week saw the thirtieth anniversary of the breeching of the Berlin Wall. The elapse of time means most people younger than their mid-forties fail to understand what it was all about. Indeed, many folk older than that will have forgotten that the reason the Berlin Wall fell was because the communist states in eastern Europe and the old Soviet Union were no longer able to suppress their people. And the people were suppressed because suppression of personal freedom is central to communism, the creed that says people must make sacrifices for the common good. Besides the passage of time, the uncomfortable part which makes people want to forget its horrors is that communism is the both the basis and the final destination of modern socialism.

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Time Is Money, Money Is Time, by Alasdair Macleod

Taxes takes your money, inflation devalues your money, and regulation and bureaucry cost you money, but more importantly, they all steal your precious time. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.  

-Macbeth

Our limited time, our brief candle as Shakespeare’s Macbeth had it earlier in the soliloquy quoted from above, may count for very little in the grand scheme of things, but is of the utmost importance to each of us personally. Unlike the other dimensions, height, breadth and depth, the fourth is almost infinite, but individuals enjoy only a small part of it, our three-score years and ten. Time moves on. What really matters is not wasting it.

We may appear to others to be wasting time. But it is not wasting it when we take a break, recharge our batteries, or stop to think. Pleasure-seeking, pursuing happiness, removing uneasiness is making good use of time. We are all different and enjoy different things, so wasting time is not time wasted so long as it our personal choice. No one can allocate time as effectively as the individual. It is intensely personal.

While using time effectively is a private pleasure, wasting it can be very frustrating. Wasting time is the denial of personal ambition, whether it is as trivial as in a game of cards or as momentous as changing one’s circumstances. Avoiding time-wasting requires positive personal action, but we live in a world where that decision is progressively being subsumed by the state. But the state has little concept of the importance of time, replacing it with indecision and deferment. Time offers change and progress, except to the state. The evolution of events that go with time undermines the state’s certainties. The state believes it has all the time in the world to get things right by consulting, reporting, debating and eventually acting, while everyone affected has to wait.

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America’s Technology and Sanctions War Will End, by Bifurcating the Global Economy, by Alastair Crooke

The contest between the US and China will be fought primarily in the technologies of the future. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

“The true reason behind the US-China ‘trade’ war has little to do with actual trade … What is really at the basis of the ongoing civilizational conflict between the US and China … are China’s ambitions to be a leader in next-generation technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), which rest on whether or not it can design and manufacture cutting-edge chips, and is why Xi has pledged at least $150 billion to build up the sector”, Zerohedge writes.

Nothing new here: yet behind that ambition, lies another, further ambition and a little mentioned ‘elephant in the room’: that the ‘trade war’ is also the first stage to a new arms race between the US & China – albeit of a different genre of arms race. This ‘new generation’ arms-race is all about reaching national superiority in technology over the longer-term, via Quantum Computing, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Hypersonic Warplanes, Electronic Vehicles, Robotics, and Cyber-Security.

The blueprint for it, in China, is in the public domain. It is ‘Made in China 2025’ (now downplayed, but far from forgotten). And the Chinese expenditure commitment ($ 150 billion) to take the tech lead – will be met ‘head on’ (as Zerohedge puts it), “by a [counterpart] ‘America First’ strategy: Hence the ‘arms race’ in tech spending … is intimately linked with defence spending. Note: military spending by the US and China is forecast by the IMF to rise substantially in coming decades, but the stunner is: that by 2050, China is set to overtake the US, spending $4tn on its military, while the US is $1 trillion less, or $3tn … This means that sometime around 2038, roughly two decades from now, China will surpass the US in military spending.”

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A Fretful Holiday, by James Howard Kunstler

Christmas finds that all is not well in America. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

Many threads to tug on at the close of this tumultuous work-week before the supreme holiday of white privilege rolls through, all silver bells and hovering angels. It took hours of rumination and prayer to arrive at a coherent notion about the strange doings in Gen. Mike Flynn’s sentencing hearing, but here goes: Judge Emmet Sullivan sent Gen Flynn to the doghouse for three months to reconsider his guilty plea. The judge may believe that Gen. Flynn needs to contest the charge in open court, where all the Special Prosecutor’s janky evidence will be subject to discovery and review. Mr. Mueller tried to toss a wrecking bar into the proceedings the day before by pressing charges against two of Gen. Flynn’s colleagues in the Turkish lobbying gambit, which was meant to terrify Gen. Flynn as a hint that separate charges would be dumped on him if he doesn’t play ball. A lot can happen in three months, including the arrival of a new Attorney General, and we’ll leave it there for the moment.

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