If a country is clearly bent on depreciating its own currency, why hold either the currency or assets denominated in that currency. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:
In the wake of the Fed’s promise of 23 March to print money without limit in order to rescue the covid-stricken US economy, China changed its policy of importing industrial materials to a more aggressive stance. In examining the rationale behind this move, this article concludes that while there are sound geopolitical reasons behind it the monetary effect will be to drive down the dollar’s purchasing power, and that this is already happening. More recently, a veiled threat has emerged that China could dump all her US Treasury and agency bonds if the relationship with America deteriorates further. This appears to be a cover for China to reduce her dollar exposure more aggressively. The consequences are a primal threat to the Fed’s policy of escalating monetary policy while maintaining the dollar’s status in the foreign exchanges.
On 3 September, China’s state-owned Global Times, which acts as the government’s mouthpiece, ran a front-page article warning that
“China will gradually decrease its holdings of US debt to about $800billion under normal circumstances. But of course, China might sell all of its US bonds in an extreme case, like a military conflict,” Xi Junyang, a professor at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics told the Global Times on Thursday”[i].
Do not be misled by the attribution to a seemingly independent Chinese professor: it would not have been the frontpage article unless it was sanctioned by the Chinese government. While China has already taken the top off its US Treasury holdings, the announcement (for that is what it amounts to) that China is prepared to escalate the financial war against America is very serious. The message should be clear: China is prepared to collapse the US Treasury market. In the past, apologists for the US Government have said that China has no one to buy its entire holding. The most recent suggestion is that China’s Treasury holdings will be put in trust for covid victims — a suggestion if enacted would undermine foreign trust in the dollar and could bring its reserve role to a swift conclusion.[ii] For the moment these are peacetime musings. At a time of financial war, if China put her entire holding on the market Treasury yields would be driven up dramatically, unless someone like the Fed steps in to buy the lot.
If that happened China would then have almost a trillion dollars to sell, driving the dollar down against whatever the Chinese buy. And don’t think for a moment that if China was to dump its holding of US Treasuries other foreign holders would stand idly by. This action would probably end the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency with serious consequences for the US and global economies.
There is another possibility: China intends to sell all her US Treasuries anyway and is making American monetary policy her cover for doing so. It is this possibility we will now explore.
How do you maintain an empire when the world loses faith in your fiat-debt currency (aka scrip)? From Steve Brown at lewrockwell.com:
Ian Fleming wrote Goldfinger for good reason. The most important market in the world is gold. Not US stocks. Not shares in Amazon. Not bitcoin. Not Facebook. Sovereigns use gold – real gold – as the foundation for their most important deals.
Now consider that 40% of the world’s physical gold trade passes through bin Zayed’s United Arab Emirates. The same United Arab Emirates that blundered Bush into the Dubai Ports World scandal. The same UAE that hosts one of the largest US airbases in the Middle East… and the very same al Nahayan plutocracy that touts Israel as its closest friend and ally, beside the former United States.
The ‘battleship’ has been turning for fifty years since the disaster of the Nixon Shock, when the United States ‘temporarily’ abandoned the international gold standard thus heralding the ‘permanent’ era of central bank by-decree currency. Fifty years hence, a new perfect storm of events may prove that the consequence of August 15th, 1971 must now be confronted.
For our purposes, Fed bugs are people with a faith-based belief in the power of central banks (and central bankers) to engineer economic growth using “monetary policy,”despite decades of history and current evidence to the contrary. They believe tinkering with inputs and rates and velocity and flows somehow makes us richer in terms of productivity, goods, and services. They believe in financial alchemy, as economist Nomi Prins puts it, rather than precious metals. They believe paper has value so long as government issues it and legislates its use. Most of all, they believe in technocratic control over money in the economy.
Central bankers almost by definition are Fed bugs, but so are most monetary economists, financial journalists, and politicians. And they all hate gold with a passion. The reasons why are multifarious, but ultimately flow from their fundamental resentment of any money they do not control and cannot design. Central planning requires central money, and gold stands apart by its very decentralized nature. It is indifferent to human conceptions, and can be discovered and summoned from the earth only with tremendous risk and effort. It cannot easily be manipulated or destroyed, and its value cannot be decreed (though they try mightily). It is unchanging, unyielding, and stubbornly at odds with the political visions of Fed bugs.
And so they hate it.
They hate gold because it never goes away and never goes to zero. It holds monetary value intrinsically, without the imprimatur of a sovereign or government. Gold does not need the state or its bankers to operate as money, because individuals choose it as money on the market century after century.
Anytime the mainstream media joins together in a Hallelujah chorus, they’re trying to pull one over on you. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:
Dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’, boy
– The Outlaw Josey Wales
The Davos Crowd is desperate. That much has been clear to me for months.
From the moment they tied COVID-19 to the breaking of the oil markets back in March they have worked like no other time in history to convince us the world we knew was gone.
The latest iteration of this big lie is the all-out assault on the U.S. dollar. Now for months a few analysts like me have been steadfast in reminding everyone that no matter how much money the U.S. prints in the short run, it is only doing so because of the extreme levels of latent and active dollar demand in the world.
So, there is narrative and there is reality. And reality is that today there is huge demand for the U.S. dollar regardless of what the headlines tell you.
That said, that doesn’t mean that demand doesn’t ebb and flow. And now that we’re on the other side of the first wave of this crisis period, marginal dollar hoarding has slacked off.
This is most evident in the dramatic rise in the euro back above $1.17 and the British pound breaking back to challenge $1.30. But in the grand scheme of things these are just relief rallies within primary bear markets.
But in the past couple of weeks, coinciding nicely with a massive rally in the precious metals, there’s been a deluge of talk about the end of the dollar.
Editor’s note: Regular readers know we see gold as the ultimate safe-haven asset. And during a crisis like today, it’s critical that you own some gold in your portfolio.
If you haven’t yet, you’ll want to pay close attention to today’s classic essay from our founder, Doug Casey. Below, Doug lays out why paper currencies are “essentially worthless”… and why gold is the only dependable form of money.
By Doug Casey, founder, Casey Research
It’s an unfortunate historical anomaly that people think about the paper in their wallets as money. The dollar is, technically, a currency. A currency is a government substitute for money. But gold is money.
Now, why do I say that?
Historically, many things have been used as money. Cattle have been used as money in many societies, including Roman society. That’s where we get the word “pecuniary” from: the Latin word for a single head of cattle is pecus. Salt has been used as money, also in ancient Rome, and that’s where the word “salary” comes from; the Latin for salt is sal (or salis). The North American Indians used seashells. Cigarettes were used during WWII. So, money is simply a medium of exchange and a store of value.
By that definition, almost anything could be used as money, but obviously, some things work better than others; it’s hard to exchange things people don’t want, and some things don’t store value well. Over thousands of years, the precious metals have emerged as the best form of money. Gold and silver both, though primarily gold.
There’s nothing magical about gold. It’s just uniquely well-suited among the 92 naturally occurring elements for use as money… in the same way aluminum is good for airplanes or uranium is good for nuclear power.
The best monetary economist on the internet analyzes the gold and gold derivative markets. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:
The powerful forces of bank credit contraction are at the heart of a rapidly evolving financial crisis in global derivatives, whose gross value is over $600 trillion; an unimaginable sum. Central banks are on course to destroy their currencies through unlimited monetary expansion, lethal for bullion banks with fractionally reserved unallocated gold accounts, while being dramatically short of Comex futures.
This article explains the dynamics behind the current crisis in precious metal derivatives, and why it is the observable part of a wider derivative catastrophe that is caught in the tension between contracting bank credit and infinite monetary inflation.
One of the scares at the time of the Lehman crisis was that insolvent counterparties risked collapsing the whole over-the-counter derivative complex. It was for this reason that AIG, a non-bank originator of many derivative contracts, had to be bailed out by the Fed. By a mixture of good judgement and fortune a derivative crisis was averted, and by consolidating some of the outstanding positions, the gross value of OTC derivatives was subsequently reduced.
According to the Bank for International Settlements, in mid-June last year all global OTC contracts outstanding were still unimaginably large at $640 trillion, a massive sum in anyone’s book. It is unlikely to have changed much by today. But in bank balance sheets only a net figure is usually shown, and you have to search the notes to financial statements to find evidence of gross exposure. It is the gross that matters, because each contract bears counterparty risk, sometimes involving several parties, and derivative payment failures could make the payment failures now evident in disrupted industrial supply chains look like small beer.
People who buy gold often distrust pieces of paper called currencies. If you buy gold, by the actual yellow shiny stuff, not pieces of paper called ETFs. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
The internal mechanics of the gold market are again showing strains under this rally. The gap between New York futures and spot prices in London is still elevated, a sign of lingering concern over future supply of the physical form of the metal.
While investors continue to seek gold as a haven, it’s still difficult to ship bullion around the world due to coronavirus-related restrictions, sending futures prices even higher.
As Bloomberg reports, until recently, that was unheard of in a metal that’s so utterly fungible, so easy to transport and where trade channels are so deeply established. But with planes grounded and refining capacity severely restricted, don’t expect the arbitrage to break down immediately.
“People are paying the premiums over in the physical market and I think it’s rolling into the futures,” said Peter Thomas, a senior vice president at Chicago-based broker Zaner Group.
Congruent with the coronavirus outbreak, governments are increasing their control of the financial systems. They’ll keep you locked in your homes and your money locked in their banks. From Doug Casey at internationalman.com:
International Man: Let’s start with the basics. What exactly are negative interest rates? Could they exist in a free market without state intervention?
Doug Casey: Right now, over $17 trillion of bonds, and a lot of bank accounts—especially in Europe—are offering negative interest rates. It’s something that can only exist in Bizarro World, something that’s really a cosmic impossibility in a normal world. It’s especially true since almost all the world’s banks are zombies—bankrupt. Fractional reserve banking—which is only possible in a world where central banks control the money supply—is intrinsically unsound.
The economy is head over heels in debt. If things slow down—as they do now, due to the hysteria over The Virus—lots of loans will go into default. It won’t be because of The Virus itself, however. Coronavirus is just the pin that broke the bubble.
Negative rates are a political phenomenon, not a market phenomenon. It’s quite amazing to see bankrupt governments issuing negative rate bonds. It’s what’s been called return-free risk.
The whole financial world is in a bubble because of the trillions of currency units created since the crisis unfolded in 2008. Bonds are in a hyper bubble—the worst possible place to be. They’re a triple threat to capital—interest rate risk, currency risk, and default risk. And, again, at negative rates, they are truly a return-free risk.
While central banks may try to inflate their way out of a debt deflation, when the bubble they’ve blown is as big as the current “everything” bubble, such efforts will be fruitless. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:
With an historic 2000 point drop in the Dow Jones Industrials on Monday in response to Saudi Arabia and Russia declaring an oil price war on, well, everyone it’s clear that one of the two ‘flations, deflation, has won out.
In retrospect the timing out that post was pretty good, because just a few weeks later the repo markets seized up, SOFR zoomed to an all-time high of more than 10% and the Fed was awoken from its slumber to begin intervening to keep markets from collapsing.
It initiated a reflation trade based on the hope that the Fed just being there was all that was needed to restore confidence in global markets.
In that post I made the point that the choice between inflation and deflation is a non-choice. They are two sides of the same coin. The question is only who benefits from which side.
Those in power always choose inflation because, in their minds, it is less upsetting to the social order than deflation.
And their power rests on maintaining the current social order.
Deflation benefits savers and, frankly, normal people who don’t have access to new money at the lowest available prices, those set by the Fed’s discount window.
It gives them back power stolen from them through inflation.
The media helps this narrative limp along bamboozling all of us with poorly-conceived first order analysis of why we want inflation while refusing to admit they are a recipients of this government/central bank largess through advertising fees paid with a portion of this fake capital.
If CoVid-19 leads to a worldwide currency collapse, something will have to replace fiat currencies. Why not gold? From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:
Even before the coronavirus sprang upon an unprepared China the credit cycle was tipping the world into recession. The coronavirus makes an existing situation immeasurably worse, shutting down China and disrupting global supply chains to the point where large swathes of global production simply cease.
The crisis is likely to be a wake-up call for complacent investors, who are content to buy benchmark bonds issued by bankrupt governments at wildly excessive prices. A recession turned by the coronavirus into a fathomless slump will lead to a synchronised explosion of debt issuance for which there are no genuine buyers and can only be monetised.
The adjustment to reality will be catastrophic for government finances, and their currencies. This article explains why the collapse in overpriced financial assets and fiat currencies is likely to be rapid, perhaps giving ordinary people in some jurisdictions an early prospect of a return to gold and silver as circulating money.
My last article suggested that both financial assets and currencies would collapse together. the basis of this supposition is twofold: first, central bank policies are binding together the rise in financial assets with the maintenance of value in fiat currencies. Therefore, if one falls, they both fall. And secondly there is historical precedence for this when one examines The Mississippi bubble 300 years ago.
The timing for such a collapse appears to be imminent. Every day, more and more data confirm that the global economy is sliding into recession. So far, people have been ignoring this important development, but now that it is becoming hard to ignore, no doubt the coronavirus will be blamed. This is a mistake because the factors leading to a slump, principally the end of the expansionary credit cycle combining with trade protectionism against Chinese imports by President Trump, echo developments leading up to the Wall Street crash in October 1929. If that point is accepted, then clearly the world could be on the edge of a very deep slump exacerbated but not caused by the virus.
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