The Internet’s best economist explains why the New Deal was a huge mistake, and why we’re about to repeat it, except this time only huger. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:
So far, the current economic situation, together with the response by major governments, compares with the run-in to the depression of the 1930s. Yet to come in the repetitious credit cycle is the collapse in financial asset values and a banking crisis.
When the scale of the banking crisis is known the scale of monetary inflation involved will become more obvious. But in the politics of it, Trump is being set up as the equivalent of Herbert Hoover, and presumably Joe Biden, if he is well advised, will soon campaign as a latter-day Roosevelt. In Britain, Boris Johnson has already called for a modern “new deal”, and in his “Hundred Days” his Chancellor is delivering it.
In the thirties, prices fell, only offset by the dollar’s devaluation in January 1934. This time, monetary inflation knows no limit. The wealth destruction through monetary inflation will be an added burden to contend with compared with the situation ninety years ago.
Boris Johnson recently compared his reconstruction plan with Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal. Such is the myth of FDR and his new deal that even libertarian Boris now invokes them. Unless he is just being political, he shows he knows little about the economic situation that led to the depression.
Posted in banking, Business, Currencies, Debt, Economy, Government, History, Money, Taxes, Trade
Tagged Federal Reserve, Fiat money, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Gold Standard, Great Depression
Alasdair Macleod, the best monetary economist on the internet and probably on the planet, writes long articles that are well worth taking the time to read. In this one he explains how currencies collapse: slowly, and then very fast. From Macleod at goldmoney.com:
An unexpected destruction of fiat currency has been advanced by the monetary and fiscal response to the coronavirus. Financial markets have yet to discount the possibility of such an outcome, but in the coming months they are likely to awaken to this danger.
The question arises as to what will replace fiat currencies. In the past the answer has always been gold but today there are cryptocurrencies as well, whose enthusiasts are more aware than most of fiat money’s failings.
This article describes the basics about money, what it is and the role it plays in order to understand what will be required by the eventual replacement for fiat. It concludes that gold will return as the world’s medium of exchange, and secure cryptocurrencies, unable to provide the scalability and stability of value required of a medium of exchange will be priced in gold after the demise of fiat. But then the rationale for them will be gone, and with it their function as a store of value.
The destruction of fiat money
These are strange times. Circumstances are forcing governments to destroy their money by debasing it to pay for their obligations, real and imagined. If central bankers had a grasp of what money really is, they wouldn’t have got into a position where they are forced to use their seigniorage to destroy it. They are so ignorant about catallactics, the fundamentals behind economics, that they cannot see they are destroying the means of exchange they have imposed upon their citizens with far worse consequences than the abandonment of the evils they are trying to defray.[i]
Alasdair Macleod outlines how the US could return to gold-backed money. From Macleod at goldmoney.com:
Given the current fiat money system is on a path towards its own destruction it is not surprising that there has been increasing talk of a monetary reset. Without a completely different approach and by retaining the same institutions and macroeconomic concepts, any such reset is bound to fail.
This article provides a template for an enduring sound money solution that will deliver economic progress while eliminating destructive credit cycles. It posits that a properly constructed gold and gold substitute monetary system, which also includes the removal of bank credit inflation as a means of providing investment capital, is the only way that lasting stability and prosperity can be achieved. As well as the establishment of an incorruptible monetary system, the state’s role in the economy must be curtailed, budgets always balanced, banking reformed, and the private sector allowed to accumulate the wealth necessary to provide the investment for producers to produce.
Monetary reform involves a clear understanding of why free markets succeed and why socialism, together with neo-Keynesian macroeconomics, are responsible for the impending monetary and economic collapse. It will require a complete change of socio-political and economic cultures, but properly approached it can be done.
There has been very little commentary in recent years about the benefits of sound money, being limited almost entirely to followers of the Austrian school of economics. Even less has been written about how to back out of inflationism, end unsound money and return to a monetary arrangement which cannot be corrupted by governments and the banking system.
The most notable attempt was by Ludwig von Mises who appended a chapter on the subject in his updated 1952 version of The Theory of Money and Credit[i] The circumstances were very different from that of today. At that time, the US had corrupted its gold exchange standard to progressively exclude the ability of individuals to demand gold for paper dollars. And both Keynesianism and socialism, in the West at least, were in their earlier days. Today, we face more of an end game where considerable damage has been done since to the status of circulating money, and we face the prospect not of reform but of a collapse of the entire fiat money system.
Posted in banking, Business, Capitalism, Collapse, Currencies, Debt, Economics, Economy, Governments, Money
Tagged Bank Deposits, Central banks, Federal Reserve, Gold Standard, government bonds
Unbacked currencies will sooner or later go up in flames, as they always have. The general solution, then, will be obvious: some sort of gold-based monetary system. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:
This article makes the obvious point that a return to a gold standard is the only way nations can contain the interest cost of servicing debt, given the alternative is inflationist policies that can only lead to far higher interest rates and currency destruction. The topic is timely, given the self-harm of American economic and geopolitical policies, which are already leading America into a cyclical slump. Meanwhile, American fears of Asian domination of global economic, monetary and political outcomes have come true. The upcoming credit crisis is likely to kill off the welfare state model in the West by destroying their unbacked paper currencies, while China, Russia and their Asian allies have the means to prosper.
The fragility of state finances
In my last Goldmoney article I explained why the monetary policies of inflationist economists and policy makers would end up destroying fiat currencies. The destruction will come from ordinary people, who are forced by law to use the state’s money for settling their day-to-day transactions. Ordinary people, each one a trinity of production, consumption and saving, will eventually wake up to the fraud of monetary inflation and discard their government’s medium of exchange as intrinsically worthless.
They always have, eventually. This has been proved by experience and should be uncontroversial. For the issuer of a currency, the risk of this happening heightens when credit markets become destabilised and confidence in the full faith and credit, which is the only backing a fiat currency has, begins to be questioned either by its users or foreigners or both. And when it does, a currency starts to rapidly lose purchasing power and the whole interest rate structure moves higher.
The Fed will have a tough time curing its own addiction to easy money, much less the economy and financial markets’. From Thorsten Polleit at mises.org:
“I think we have much more of a Fed problem than we have a problem with anyone else”, said US President Donald J. Trump on 20 November 2018. While the press, mainstream economists, and bankers cry wolf, the US President hits the nail on its head: The Fed is the source of significant economic and political trouble. By issuing US dollar out of thin air, it sets into motion unsustainable booms, which sooner or later turn into bust.
What is more, the Fed, expanding the US dollar quantity through credit expansion, nurtures the “deep state”: Providing it with the financial means to buy voter consent; to increase its impact on all walks of peoples’ lives; to make possible its aggressive military adventures on a world-wide scale; and to keep alive and kicking its monetary system – that couldn’t survive without an ever deeper state.
Viewed from this perspective, is it not good news that the Fed wants to tighten its policy further? Well, the truth is that Fed interest rate changes do not and cannot solve any problems caused by the Fed’s meddling with interest rates in the first place. By its very nature, monetary policy inevitably creates economic distortions – which appear in the build-up and bursting of speculative frenzies and the notorious boom and bust cycles.
China would seize innumerable advantages if it was to put itself on the gold (aka Real Money) standard. Its government has a big enough stockpile of gold to do so. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:
The next credit crisis poses a major challenge to China’s manufacturing-based economy, because higher global and yuan interest rates are bound to have a devastating effect on Chinese business models and foreign consumer demand. Dealing with it is likely to be the biggest challenge faced by the Chinese Government since the ending of the Maoist era. However, China does have an escape route by stabilising both interest rates and the yuan by linking it to gold.
But will the Chinese have the gumption to take it? This article examines the challenges and the possible solution. It concludes there is a reasonable chance China will embrace sound money, because it is in a position to do so and the dangers of not doing so could destroy the State.
Are the Chinese Keynesian?
We can be reasonably certain that Chinese government officials approaching middle age have been heavily westernised through their education. Nowhere is this likely to matter more than in the fields of finance and economics. In these disciplines there is perhaps a division between them and the old guard, exemplified and fronted by President Xi. The grey-beards who guide the National Peoples Congress are aging, and the brightest and best of their successors understand economic analysis differently, having been tutored in Western universities.
This is a long but worthwhile article from Ron Paul on money, gold, the financial system, and government. From Paul at mises.org:
Introduction: Where We Are
It’s a fallacy to believe the US has a free market economy. The economy is run by a conglomerate of individuals and special interests, in and out of government, including the Deep State, which controls central economic planning.
Rigging the economy is required to prevent market forces from demanding a halt to the mistakes that planners continuously make. This deceptive policy can last only for a limited time. Ultimately, the market proves more powerful than government manipulation of economic events. The longer the process lasts, the greater the bubble that always bursts. The planners in charge have many tools to perpetuate confidence in an unstable system, but common sense should tell us that grave dangers lie ahead.
Their policies strive to convince the unknowing that the dollar is strong and its status as the world’s reserve currency is secure, no matter how many new dollars they create of out of thin air. It is claimed that our foreign debt is always someone else’s fault and never related to our own monetary and economic mismanagement.
Official government reports inevitably claim inflation is low and we must work harder to increase it, claiming price increases somehow mystically indicate economic growth.
The Consumer Price Index is the statistic manipulated to try to prove this point just as they use misleading GDP numbers to do the same. Many people now recognizing these reports are nothing more than propaganda. Anybody who pays the bills to maintain a household knows the truth about inflation.
Ever since the Great Depression, controlling the dollar price of gold and deciding who gets to hold gold was official policy. This advanced the Federal Reserve’s original goal of demonetizing precious metals, which was fully achieved in August 1971. Today, even though the official position of all central banks is that gold is not money, central bankers constantly rig the dollar price of gold, pretending the dollar is stronger than it really is. Just as the market overrode the artificial price of $35 per ounce in the 1970’s, today’s price will soar when the dollar is dethroned as the king of the world’s currencies.
To continue reading: The Dollar Dilemma: Where to From Here?
Gold standards impose discipline on governments and their monetary systems, which is why governments and monetary mandarins hate the gold standard. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:
Earlier this month in the Wall Street Journal, James Grant explored the latest academic attack on the gold standard — this time in the form of One Nation Under Gold by financial journalist James Ledbetter.
Not that the establishment economics profession needs another book trashing gold. Among the university- and government-employed PhDs who hand down their wisdom about economics from on high, few have anything but disdain for the yellow metal.
RELATED: “The United States of Insolvency” — An Interview with James Grant
Grant knows this all too well and notes:
As if to clinch the case against gold — and, necessarily, the case for the modern-day status quo — Mr. Ledbetter writes: “Of forty economists teaching at America’s most prestigious universities — including many who’ve advised or worked in Republican administrations — exactly zero responded favorably to a gold-standard question asked in 2012.” Perhaps so, but “zero” or thereabouts likewise describes the number of established economists who in 2005, ’06 and ’07 anticipated the coming of the biggest financial event of their professional lives. The economists mean no harm. But if, in unison, they arrive at the conclusion that tomorrow is Monday, a prudent person would check the calendar.
Nevertheless, the gold standard has a reputation for being dark and nefarious. It’s backward and limiting, and the sort of thing one ought to associate with crucifixion, as implied in William Jennings Bryan’s famous Cross of Gold speech.
But, as Grant sums things up, it’s not as complicated as all that:
What was the gold standard, exactly — this thing that the professors dismiss so airily today? A self-respecting member of the community of gold-standard nations defined its money as a weight of bullion. It allowed gold to enter and leave the country freely. It exchanged bank notes to gold, and vice versa, at a fixed and inviolable rate. The people, not the authorities, decided which form of money was best.
The gold standard was a hard task master, all right. You couldn’t devalue your way out of trouble. You couldn’t run up a big domestic budget deficit. The central bank of a gold-standard country (if there was a central bank) was charged with preserving the convertibility of the currency and, in a pinch, serving as lender of last resort to needy commercial banks. Growth, employment and price stability took their own course. And if, in a financial panic or a business-cycle downturn, gold fled the country, it was the duty of the central bank to establish a rate of interest that called the metal home. In the throes of a crisis, interest rates would likely go up, not down.
To continue reading: Jim Grant Explains the Gold Standard
Former Ayn Rand acolyte and gold standard proponent Alan Greenspan is a mess of contradictions. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
As John Rubino eloquently puts it, “when the history of these times is written, former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan will be one of the major villains, but also one of the greatest mysteries. This is so because he has, in effect, been three different people.” Greenspan started his public life brilliantly, as a libertarian thinker who said some compelling and accurate things about gold and its role in the world. An example from 1966: “This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists’ tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. If one grasps this, one has no difficulty in understanding the statists’ antagonism toward the gold standard.”
Yet everything changed a few decades later when Greenspan was put in charge of the Federal Reserve in the late 1980s, instead of applying the above wisdom, for example by limiting the bank’s interference in the private sector and letting market forces determine winners and losers, he did a full 180, intervening in every crisis, creating new currency with abandon, and generally behaving like his old ideological enemies, the Keynesians. Predictably, debt soared during his long tenure.
Along the way he was also instrumental in preventing regulation of credit default swaps and other derivatives that nearly blew up the system in 2008. His view of those instruments:
The reason that growth has continued despite adversity, or perhaps because of it, is that these new financial instruments are an increasingly important vehicle for unbundling risks. These instruments enhance the ability to differentiate risk and allocate it to those investors most able and willing to take it. This unbundling improves the ability of the market to engender a set of product and asset prices far more calibrated to the value preferences of consumers than was possible before derivative markets were developed. The product and asset price signals enable entrepreneurs to finely allocate real capital facilities to produce those goods and services most valued by consumers, a process that has undoubtedly improved national productivity growth and standards of living.
To continue reading: Alan Greenspan: Ron Paul Was Right About The Gold Standard