Jesse’s Café Américain: About Those Excess Reserves At the Fed

Reserves are really potential inflation. Without velocity they do nothing more than repair insolvent bank balance sheets. If the Fed decreases interest on reserves in an attempt to ignite lending, it will signal the beginning of the end and will create the beginning of the stampede into real assets and commodities. If you were a bank would you lend to an impaired entity that will likely never pay you back or would you buy an real asset in order to attain your yield through capital appreciation? 

So the chain of causation looks like this: banks sell their toxic debt to the Fed for fresh reserves, then the banks utilize reserves to buy up gold and commodities. This in turn allows more deflationary pressure to build in their debt positions, which are then dumped onto the Fed for more reserves. End result, all debt finds its way to the Fed balance sheet and everyone’s debt comes home to roost in the form of base money on your front lawn. Hyperinflation.

 

 

23 JULY 2012

About Those Excess Reserves At the Fed

 IOER is Interest On Excess Reserves.
The next time some economist says that paying interest on Excess Reserves does not matter, show them this, and let them argue it with Alan Blinder.   San Francisco Fed President John C. Williams made a similar argument about four weeks ago. And Bernanke concurs that this is a powerful weapon in his mad scientist’s toolkit.

But then we see pieces in the financial press or on econo-chatboards like this, scornfully dismissing the notion that interest payments on excess reserves matter at all because the excess reserves don’t matter.  Base Money Confusion by Izabella Kaminska.

I have even seen the Fed arguing out of both sides of their mouth on this one.  I know there is room for disagreement, but that is just a bit too much.

I suspect that some economists argue that Fed interest payments on reserve do not matter because they do not want to deal with the political issue of paying what is essentially a subsidy to the banks for the reserves that the Fed creates for them.

And there are plenty  of economists who seem to make whatever argument that the Banks want them to make on any issue on any given day. It seems to be almost a cottage industry at some university economics departments.

Or in some cases it could be that like most money misconceptions, some folks like to get caught up in the details of the thing, putting an inappropriate linear bustier on a dynamic system process, and thereby become mesmerized by ‘chicken and egg questions,’  losing sight of the big picture but ‘proving’ some outlandish theory about how money is created and how the banking system really works.

If reserves do not matter, if they are a meaningless accounting entity, then it would not matter what the Fed pays on them, except for the purposes of a risk free handout to their banking buddies.  And there may be a valuable insight in that after all.

Regardless, I would just like the Fed to make up its collective mind what their position on this really is, and not make up whatever argument they feel suits the moment, although that does seem to be à la mode amongst economists these days. They have become as bad as attorneys and accountants.  The truth is whatever we say it is, whatever the guy with the most money wants it to be.

This might be a fine question for some astute Congressperson to pin Benny down on for the record the next time he stops by for a chat. I seem to recall the NY Fed dissing a Congressperson on this matter a few years ago when they suggested that paying interest on Bank Reserves was inhibiting the flow of money out of the banking system and into the real economy.

So the next time I get into a discussion on this with some condescending obscurantist from the NY Fed, I am just going to send them this link and let them have at it with Ben, Alan, John and the other Sorcerer’s Apprentices.

08:12 Former Fed Vice Chairman Blinder says Fed should cut IOER -WSJ

Former Fed Vice Chairman Alan Blinder, in an opinion piece, said the Federal Reserve has many weapons left to provide a boost to the economy, but the most powerful tool would be lowering the interest rate on excess reserves (IOER) held by banks.

Blinder said Operation Twist, QE3, and forward guidance are weak weapons that won’t be as effective as cutting the IOER to zero, and if nothing goes wrong, to -25bp.

He argues that doing such would provide a powerful incentive for banks to put some of their idle reserves to work, possibly lending it out or putting it in the capital markets.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said last week that the Fed still has a number of tools available should it decide to implement additional stimulus, including its balance sheet, communications strategy, IOER and the discount window.

 

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zerohedge: Peak Gold?

Peak Gold

by Tyler Durden

From GoldCore,

Today’s AM fix was USD 1579.00, EUR 1294.05 and GBP 1022.34 per ounce.
Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1565.50, EUR 1281.10 and GBP 1011.96 per ounce.

Gold fell by 0.3% in New York yesterday and closed down $4.90 to $1,571.70/oz. After a sharp drop and equally sharp bounce higher, silver rose 0.3% or 8 cents to close at $27.17/oz

South African Gold Production Continues To Plummet

After initial falls in Asia, gold traded sideways and then gradually ticked higher later in the Asian session and has seen further gains in European trading. Gold is currently set to finish the week marginally lower in dollar and sterling terms but higher in euro and Swiss franc terms.

South Africa’s gold output continues to collapse and fell a further 2.9% in May, according to data from Statistics South Africa released yesterday. The decline in gold production comes despite a 0.8% rise in total mining output in the same month (see below).

Gold is being supported by euro zone currency and contagion risk and inflation hedging diversification.

Merrill Lynch predicted gold would reach $2,000/oz yesterday due to more astute investors fearing inflation due to ultra loose monetary policies. Francisco Blanch, Head of Global Commodity & Multi-Asset Strategy Research Merrill Lynch, said in a CNBC interview that Merrill believe “that $2,000 an ounce is sort of the right number. We believe that ultimately the Fed will be forced to do quantitative easing.”

“If it happens in September, as our economists expect, we will get a rally sooner in gold,” Blanch added. ”If it happens after the election (in November), we will get the rally a little bit later; probably we will touch $2000 an ounce sometime next year.”

Demand and supply factors remain in gold’s favour.

There is strong demand from store of wealth buyers in Europe, China, the Middle East and the rest of Asia – not to mention strong demand from institutions and central banks.

A new trend seen in recent weeks is that of an increase in demand for corporates in the euro zone who are diversifying deposits in order to reduce bank, currency and systemic risk.

While some attention has been paid to the robust, broad based global demand for gold, less attention has been paid to the supply side and in particular the important gold production data.

Supply remains anaemic with the cash for gold craze seeming to have run its course, with central banks now net buyers and with mine supply not increasing sufficiently to meet demand.

 

With regard to global gold production, China, the world’s largest gold producer and now the world’s largest gold buyer, has been the only major producer to see an increase in production in recent years.

The massive increase in Chinese mining supply has raised some eyebrows with some questioning whether the figures are being exaggerated by Chinese mining companies and Chinese bureaucrats.

More recently, there is a concern that gold production in China may actually be declining as older mines reduce production.

South Africa produced over 1,000 tonnes of gold in 1970 but production has fallen to below 250 tonnes in recent years (see chart above). This is a collapse as these are levels last seen in 1922 and happened despite the massive technological advances of recent years and more intensive mining practices.

South Africa’s gold output fell further 2.9% in May, according to data from Statistics South Africa released Thursday, despite a 0.8% rise in total mining output in the same month.

 

Recently, the decline in South African gold production has been attributed to national electrical issues and power outages, operational delays and safety issues. However, the scale of decline at a time when there has not been a corresponding decline in base metals mined in South Africa suggests that geological constraints may be leading to lower production.

Other large gold producing nations have seen similar sharp declines.

Peak oil is a phenomenon many will be aware of – peak gold remains a foreign concept to most.

Peak gold is the date at which the maximum rate of global gold extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. The term derives from the Hubbert peak of a resource.

Unlike oil and silver, which is destroyed in use, gold can be reused and recycled. However, unlike oil gold is money, a store of value and a foreign exchange reserve and gold is slowly being remonetised in the global financial system and indeed may soon play a role in a new international monetary system.

In 2001, the world saw what was believed to be record global gold production of 2,649 tonnes. Production then fell in the coming years despite the rising gold price.

In 2010, despite a 5 fold increase in the prices in US dollar terms, some estimates recorded gold production had risen 1.5% from the record in 2001 at 2,649 tonnes to a new record of 2,689 tonnes.

World Gold Council data for 2011 showed that production had increased by 4% from 2010 to 2,810 tonnes of gold. Much of the production increase was attributed to Chinese production data.

The Chinese production data may or may not be reliable but there is also confusion with regard to the data as there are discrepancies in the gold production data between the US Geological Survey and the World Gold Council.

The USGS has informed us that the discrepancies are due to different estimates of artismal mining data and that the USGS reports each country’s reported data.

Paul Tudor Jones’ Tudor Group released a chart using GFMS data in 2010 that showed that global gold production had peaked in 2001 and was falling (see chart above and video).

In 2009, Barrick CEO Aaron Regent claimed that global production had peaked in 2000.

He told The Daily Telegraph at the RBC’s annual gold conference in London that “there is a strong case to be made that we are already at ‘peak gold’.”

“Production peaked around 2000 and it has been in decline ever since, and we forecast that decline to continue. It is increasingly difficult to find ore,” he said.

Ore grades have fallen from around 12 grams per tonne in 1950 to nearer 3 grams in the US, Canada, and Australia. South Africa’s output has halved since peaking in 1970.

Peak gold may not have happened in 2000. Nor may it have happened in 2011. However, the geological evidence suggests that it may happen in the near term due to the increasing difficulty large and small gold mining companies are having increasing their production.

It is also signalled in the fact that most of the larger gold producing countries (such as Australia, the U.S., South Africa, Canada, Peru, Indonesia) have all seen production drops in recent years.

China and Russia are the two only large producers to have seen production increases.

Peak gold has yet to be considered and analysed by the international financial community but there is a risk that it has happened or will happen soon with a consequent impact on the gold mining industry and on gold prices in the 21st Century.

The fact that peak gold may take place at a time when the world is engaged in peak fiat paper and electronic money creation bodes very well for gold’s long term outlook.

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Zerohedge: China Imports More Gold From Hong Kong In Five Months Than All Of UK’s Combined Gold Holdings

China Imports More Gold From Hong Kong In Five Months Than All Of UK’s Combined Gold Holdings

by Tyler Durden

There are those who say gold may go to $10,000 or to $0, or somewhere in between; in a different universe, they would be the people furiously staring at the trees. For a quick look at the forest, we suggest readers have a glance at the chart below. It shows that just in the first five months of 2012 alone, China has imported more gold, a total of 315 tons, than all the official gold holdings of the UK, at 310.3 according to the WGC/IMF (a country which infamously sold 400 tons of gold by Gordon Brown at ~$275/ounce).

As for the UK (from the WGC):

From Bloomberg:

In May, imports by China from Hong Kong jumped sixfold to 75,635.7 kilograms (75.6 metric tons) from a year earlier, Hong Kong government data showed. The nation “remains the most important player on the global gold market,” Commerzbank AG said in a report. The dollar fell from a five-week high against a basket of currencies, boosting the appeal of the metal as an alternative investment.

 

“Higher physical demand in China is good news for the market,” Sterling Smith, a commodity analyst at Citigroup Inc.’s institutional client group in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “The mildly weak dollar is also positive.”

 

The World Gold Council has forecast that China will top India this year as the world’s largest consumer because rising incomes will bolster demand.

And those looking at the trees will still intone “but, but, gold is under $1,600” – yes it is. And count your lucky stars. Because while all of the above is happening, Iran and Turkey have quietly started unwinding the petrodollar hegemony. From the FT:

According to data released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), Turkey’s trade with Iran in May rose a whopping 513.2 per cent to hit $1.7bn. Of this, gold exports to its eastern neighbour accounted for the bulk of the increase. Nearly $1.4bn worth of gold was exported to Iran, accounting for 84 per cent of Turkey’s trade with the country.

 

So what’s going on?

 

In a nutshell – sanctions and oil.

 

With Tehran struggling to repatriate the hard currency it earns from crude oil exports – its main foreign currency earner and the economic lifeblood of the country – Iran has began accepting alternative means of payments – including gold, renminbi and rupees, for oil in an attempt to skirt international sanctions and pay for its  soaring food costs.

 

“Iran is very keen to increase the share of gold in its total reserves,” says Gokhan Aksu, vice chairman of Istanbul Gold Refinery, one of Turkey’s biggest gold firms. “You can always transfer gold into cash without losing value.”

 

Turkey’s gold exports to Iran are part of the picture. As TurkStat itself noted, the gold exports were for “non-monetary purpose exportation”. Translation: they were sent in place of dollars for oil.

 

Iran furnishes about 40 percent of Turkey’s oil, making it the largest single supplier, according to Turkey’s energy ministry. While Turkey has sharply reduced its oil imports from Iran as a result of pressure from the US and the EU, it is unlikely to cut this to zero. The country pays about $6 a barrel less for Iranian oil than Brent crude, according to a recent Goldman Sachs report.

 

According to Ugur Gurses, an economic and financial columnist for the Turkish daily Radikal, Turkey exported 58 tonnes of gold to Iran between March and May this year alone.

And here is the punchline: if Iran is getting gold in exchange for products, that means that someone else is demanding Iran’s gold in exchange for other products. But we won’t read about it until those “others” decide to issue a press release.

In other words, the anti-dollar trade is now alive and well, and Iran has been happily transacting in a dollar-free vacuum since the March SWIFT embargo. Most likely “buyers” of Iran’s gold? The usual suspects of course: China, Russia, (both of whom recently established bilateral trade relations with the country just for that purpose, here and here) and India.

So: is gold fairly valued at $1,000, at $1,600 or at $10,000… Or is that question even relevant any more as the part of the world that is not broke is quietly shifting to its as its default currency?

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Chris Martenson: Our Money Is Dying

Our Money Is Dying

Submitted by Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity,

A question on the minds of many people today (increasingly those who manage or invest money professionally) is this: How do I preserve wealth during a period of intense official intervention in and manipulation of money supply, price, and asset markets?

As every effort to re-inflate and perpetuate the credit bubble is made, the words of Austrian economist Ludwig Von Mises lurk ominously nearby:

There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner, as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later, as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.

(Source)

Because every effort is being made to avoid abandoning the credit expansion process — with central banks and governments lending and borrowing furiously to make up for private shortfalls — we are left with the growing prospect that the outcome will involve some form of “final catastrophe of the currency system”(s).

This report explores what the dimensions of that risk are. It draws upon both historical and modern examples to try to shed some light on how the currency collapse process will likely unfold this time around. Plus, we’ll address how best to avoid its pernicious wealth destroying effects.

When Money Dies

In the book When Money Dies by Adam Fergusson, which details Weimar Germany’s inflation over the period from 1918 to 1923, the most riveting parts for me were the first-hand accounts from the people caught in the storm.

So many people left their wealth in the system only to watch it get eroded and utterly destroyed over time. The reasons were many: patriotism, inertia, disbelief, and denial cruelly fed by hope every time prices moderated or even retreated momentarily.

The simple observation is that many people had a blind belief in the money system. They lost their wealth because they were unable or unwilling to allow reality to challenge their beliefs. It’s not that there were numerous warning signs to heed — in fact, they could be seen everywhere — but most willfuly ignored them.

Most mysterious is the fact that in Austria and Germany, where the inflation struck most severely, there were numerous borders and currencies into which people could have dodged to protect their wealth. That is, protecting one’s wealth was a relatively straightforward and simple manner. And yet…it did not happen.

The Many Types of Inflation

As always, the landscape of inflation needs to be carefully mapped before we can begin to hope to have a conversation with a destination. Where the symptom of inflation is rising prices – in fact, rising prices are the only things tracked by the Consumer Price Index, or CPI – the causes of rising prices are many, but they always boil down to the overexpansion of money and/or credit. Knowing the cause is essential to knowing what to do next.

Here are the main flavors of rising prices that we need to keep in mind:

Non-inflationary price increases – These are caused by demand exceeding supply. It happens all the time. A poor harvest driving up the price of corn is not inflationary, but it will show up in the CPI. These sorts of price movements reverse themselves as markets respond by chasing the price and delivering more of whatever was in short supply. The only exception is when there is some essential, non-renewable natural resource in sustained depletion — which means that demand will always exceed supply and prices will rise and then rise some more. Excessive speculation can also lead to price rises and, as long as the speculation centers on the item(s) involved and not on excessive money/credit expansion, it, too, can be (and eventually will be) reversed.

Simple inflation – This is the ‘textbook’ case of inflation where too much money and/or credit is created relative to goods and services. Print too much money or make credit too cheap/easy and prices will rise roughly in proportion to the excess. Simple inflation operates in the low single digit percentages. Central banks openly target simple inflation in the 2%-3% range as that level of expansion allows banks to have healthy profits, prevents past loan errors from swamping the system, and generally keeps the exponential money system operating well.

Loss of confidence in money – A more severe stage of simple inflation takes over when enough people lose faith in the money and seek to actively spend their money on something, anything, before that money loses value. This type of inflation operates in the high single digits to low double digits, somewhere between 8% and 15%. This is just simple inflation on steroids. Not everybody participates in this game yet, as the loss of confidence has not yet reached criticality, but enough people do to keep this process locked in a self-reinforcing spiral that requires aggressive money tightening to halt. Think ‘Volker’ and ‘21% interest rates’ and you get the picture.

Hyperinflation – Further along the inflationary spectrum is what happens when a critical mass of people within a society lose faith in their money and the monetary authorities are incapable of reducing the money/credit supply, either because there’s already too much of it out there to ‘call in,’ or because they lack the political will to do anything but print more money in response (i.e., there are no Volkers around). Once this critical mass is reached, every corner of society is participating, and it is no longer socially taboo to talk about the hyperinflation or how to escape its effects. Everyone is wheeling and dealing, speculation runs rampant in everything from stocks to pineapples, and you cannot possibly spend your money fast enough to avoid the ravages of inflation. The annual percentage rates for hyperinflation range from medium double-digits into the hundreds of millions.

Currency destruction – There is another type of inflation that happens when your state currency is shunned by the rest of the world. While there may be no additional money creation and credit may even be dropping, inflation is still a very serious problem as everything imported goes up in price. There are many reasons that a currency may be shunned. It could be that other countries lose faith in the currency due to mismanagement and overprinting. It could be due to acts of war. Or it could happen at the end of a very long period of excessive credit and money expansion, when that bubble finally bursts and confidence in the associated currency unit(s) is lost. There is really very little that local authorities can do to fix things unless the country imports nothing, a condition that applies to exactly nobody. Prime candidates to experience this form of inflation are the US and Japan; the former because of massive imbalances fostered by its several decades of reserve currency status, and the latter because of persistent and massive over-printing enabled by domestic savings and a once-robust export surplus. The dynamic of currency destruction is for imported items to rise sharply in price first, with everything else soon following in upward price spirals. Policy responses are quite limited and are usually ineffectual at preventing a massive amount of economic destruction and wealth loss for the holders of the stricken currency.

It is this last type of inflation – currency destruction – that we’ll explore here, because it represents a severe risk and is very rarely talked about or analyzed.

Spinning In the Water

A modern case study of a shunned currency is Iran.

For a variety of reasons Iran finds itself the subject of a very sustained effort by the US to subjugate its nuclear program to international inspection and curtailment. Already the target of many overt and covert efforts to bring it to heel — ranging from two highly destructive and invasive computer worms (Stuxnet and Flame), to stealth drone overflights, to an international ban on oil exports — Iran now finds that its currency, too, is being internationally shunned.

The impacts are obvious and the lessons instructive.

Already Plagued by Inflation, Iran Is Bracing for Worse

Jul 1, 2012

TEHRAN — Bedeviled by government mismanagement of the economy and international sanctions over its nuclear program, Iran is in the grip of spiraling inflation. Just ask Ali, a fruit vendor in the capital whose business has been slow for months.

People hurried by his lavish displays of red grapes, dark blue figs and ginger last week, with few stopping to make a purchase. “Who in Iran can afford to buy a pineapple costing $15?” he asked. “Nobody.”

But Ali is not complaining, because he is making a killing in his other line of work: currency speculation. “At least the dollars I bought are making a profit for me,” he said.

The imposition on Sunday of new international measures aimed at cutting Iran’s oil exports, its main source of income, threatens to make the distortion in the economy even worse. With the local currency, the rial, having lost 50 percent of its value in the last year against other currencies, consumer prices here are rising fast — officially by 25 percent annually, but even more than that, economists say.

(Source)

There are several factors feeding into the current Iranian currency crisis, including mismanagement of the economy that has left Iran even more exposed to imports than it otherwise could or should be, and it is on the cusp of tipping over the line into outright hyperinflation. Ever since the revolutionary war when the British printed and distributed cartloads of Continental scrip, currency debasement has been a useful tool of war. All is fair in love and war and whatever corrodes your opponent’s strength is a potentially useful tool.

Note that in the above quotes we find that both the speculation already in evidence plus the 25%+ price increases support the idea that Iran has already tipped past simple inflation. Whether it can prevent a worsening condition is unclear at this point, whether or not international sanctions are soon lifted.

More from the same article:

Increasingly, the economy centers on speculation. In this evolving casino, the winners seize opportunities to make quick money on currency plays, while the losers watch their wealth and savings evaporate almost overnight.

At first glance, Tehran, the political and economical engine of Iran, is the same thriving metropolis it has long been, the city where Porsche sold more cars in 2011 than anywhere else in the Middle East. City parks are immaculately maintained, and streetlights are rarely broken. Supermarkets and stores brim with imported products, and homeless people are a rare sight on its streets.

But Iran’s diminishing ability to sell oil under sanctions, falling foreign currency reserves and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s erratic economic policies have combined to create an atmosphere in which citizens, banks, businesses and state institutions have started fending for themselves.

“The fact that all those Porsches are sold here is an indicator that some people are profiting from the bad economy,” said Hossein Raghfar, an economist at Al Zahra University here. “Everybody has started hustling on the side, in order to generate extra income,” he said. “Everybody is speculating.”

Some, like Ali the fruit seller, who would not give his full name, exchange their rials for dollars and other foreign currencies as fast as they can. More sophisticated investors invest their cash in land, apartments, art, cars and other assets that will rise in value as the rial plunges.

For those on the losing end, however, every day brings more bad news. The steep price rises are turning visits by Tehran homemakers to their neighborhood supermarkets into nerve-racking experiences, with the price of bread, for example, increasing 16-fold since the withdrawal of state subsidies in 2010.

“My life feels like I’m trying to swim up a waterfall,” said Dariush Namazi, 50, the manager of a bookstore. Having saved for years to buy a small apartment, he has found the value of his savings cut in half by the inflation, and still falling.

“I had moved some strokes up the waterfall, but now I fell down and am spinning in the water.”

(Source)

All of the important lessons you need to avoid a currency destruction are contained in those passages above.

  1. Savings are for losers.
  2. The more exposure you have to food and fuel price hikes the worse off you are.
  3. First movers have the advantage. Get your wealth out of the afflicted currency as fast as possible and then trade back in when needed to make purchases.
  4. Paralysis is a wealth destroyer.
  5. Fending for oneself is a wealth saver and so faith in authority is best shucked as fast as possible.

Be prepared to follow those rules and you will do better than most.

Barter, speculation, and wildly-gyrating prices as formerly expensive things are traded for basic necessities are all typical features of the end stages of a currency. Crime, social unrest, and sometimes war are handmaidens that accompany the death throes of money.

The basic strategies to protect one’s wealth are deceptively simple. As soon as the process of money destruction has begun, if not before, all savings have to be moved out of the afflicted currency and into things, especially things that those with wealth or barter items are most likely to want.

Turning our attention back to the Weimar episode for a moment, the Amazon summary for When Money Dies reads:

When Money Dies is the classic history of what happens when a nation’s currency depreciates beyond recovery. In 1923, with its currency effectively worthless (the exchange rate in December of that year was one dollar to 4,200,000,000,000 marks), the German republic was all but reduced to a barter economy.

Expensive cigars, artworks, and jewels were routinely exchanged for staples such as bread; a cinema ticket could be bought for a lump of coal; and a bottle of paraffin for a silk shirt. People watched helplessly as their life savings disappeared and their loved ones starved. Germany’s finances descended into chaos, with severe social unrest in its wake.

The parallels to the Iranian situation are obvious.

Those without the gift of foresight to identify what is coming, coupled to an inability to take decisive action that cut against the social grain (at least early on), will simply lose their wealth and not be in a position to buy or exchange anything but their own time and labor in the future. This leads to the assessment that owning or producing things that people need or want is a good strategy.

Food is always a good play. In the early stages we’d also lean towards highly socially desirable real estate and away from middle and lower income housing as ability to pay always get shredded from the bottom up. Gold performs well in terms of protecting purchasing power. According to the article above, Porches work too. That is, owning things that wealthy people will desire offers better chances than not.

I know this sounds harsh, elitist, and not terribly egalitarian, but it also happens to be how things tend to work out. Since I have a desire to be in a position to be helpful and of assistance in the future, protecting my wealth is a matter of both self and selfless interest. So I study what works and begin there, while also seeking a better future.

The cruelest part of a currency destruction is that it will sneak up on most people, their baselines will shift, and they will be confused by false hopes along the way. This is completely understandable and to be expected. There’s a good chance you’re well acquainted with the chart of the value of German Marks against gold during the Weimar hyperinflation. I want to take a closer look at it by focusing on the wiggles instead of the rise:

WEIMAR-CURRENCY-CHART.jpg

Imagine yourself there in that time, getting all of your information from the newspapers and your personal rumor network. Note that from the early part of 1920 prices fell, by a lot, over the next six months (note that this is a log chart, so even a little downward movement in the line represents a big price drop).

Headlines reported that the corner had been turned, that the government programs had been successful and brought inflation under control and people wanted to believe that story and so they did.

It wasn’t until the end of 1921 that prices began to rise again spiking into early 1922 before stabilizing again for approximately 8 months. Again people were calmed by the apparent success of the authorities in controlling the inflation.

Because there were three pauses and rescues along the way the price spike from late 1922 and into 1923 caught many off guard. It was truly shocking. This is when the critical loss of faith finally happened. Yet far too many remained paralyzed certain the government would again get things under control soon. After all, three times before there had been a recovery, why not this time too? One must have hope after all.

In the middle of 1923 with very aggressive government intervention there was a three month dip in prices and a pause in the hyper-inflationary process. Again, another hopeful moment, but it was the final trap for the unwary.

To put this in context, imagine if next month (August) gasoline prices shot up by 300% to roughly $10/gal. But then, between August 2012 and May of 2013 the price of gasoline fell back to $5/gal. I’d be willing to wager that many of your friends would be telling you that everything was fine and that ‘they have everything under control.’ Perhaps your continued concern would be ridiculed or dismissed.

Then, when prices finally did again breach the old $10/gal highs some 19 months after the first price spike (in Feb 2014 in this example), many would have been habituated to the new prices, routines would have been altered, and many would have already inserted a rationalization process into their thinking that would have all of this make perfect sense, albeit uncomfortably.

While not tracking the percentages closely, this example tracks the time frame.

An important insight here is that baselines will shift, rationalizations will be formed, and explanations adopted principally by those unable to accept that their money is in the process of dying. Avoiding this yourself will require tuning those people out and trusting yourself.

In Part II: Positioning Yourself For When Our Money Dies, we identify the most probable markers for identifying when a full-blown currency collapse is imminent.

What indicators should you watch for? Where should you place your capital to best preserve its purchasing power? What will a collapse of the US dollar look like and what will the likely aftermath be? These and other implications are explored.

Click here to access Part II of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

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Jesse’s Café Américain: LIBOR and the Mispricing of Risk: The Dark Heart of Systemic Fraud

Jesse’s Café Américain

“Mr. David Stockman has said that supply-side economics was merely a cover for the trickle-down approach to economic policy—what an older and less elegant generation called the horse-and-sparrow theory: If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.” John Kenneth Galbraith

10 July 2012

LIBOR and the Mispricing of Risk: The Dark Heart of Systemic Fraud

“Price discovery is not a sexy function of markets, but it is critical to the efficient allocation of scarce capital and resources, and to the preservation of the long term wealth of investors and the economy as a whole. If price discovery is compromised by manipulation, then we will all be gradually impoverished and the economy will be imbalanced and unstable.”

The blogger London Banker writes an extraordinarily insightful piece today that perfectly captures what I have said for some time now, and probably phrased more elegantly and persuasively than I have been able in my own efforts.

Fraud is the mispricing of risk and misreprenting the value of transactions for private benefit. And the fraud we are seeing exposed in the Anglo-American financial system is not incidental, it is not a lapse in safeguards, it is not a rogue operation, not a one-off, but rather it is a ‘feature’ of the system itself.

The financial system has become, through misplaced ideology and regulatory capture, and most importantly the corrupting influence of easy money on the morally weak and ambivalent, a gigantic con game run for the benefit of a few elite insiders who have been systemically looting the real economy for the past twenty years.

July 18 is Bastille Day. This might be a good time to do something peaceful but firm to let those around us know that this will not be tolerated any further, that it has gone on long enough.

Lies, Damn Lies and LIBOR
By London Banker

I’ve been hesitant to write about the LIBOR scandal because what I want to say goes so much further. We now know that Barclays and other major global banks have been manipulating the calculation of LIBOR through the quotation data they provided to the British Bankers Association. What I suspect is that this is not a flaw but a feature of modern financial markets. And if it was happening in LIBOR for between 5 and 15 years, then the business model has been profitably replicated to many other quotation-based reference prices.

Price discovery is not a sexy function of markets, but it is critical to the efficient allocation of scarce capital and resources, and to the preservation of the long term wealth of investors and the economy as a whole. If price discovery is compromised by manipulation, then we will all be gradually impoverished and the economy will be imbalanced and unstable.

Over the past 25 years the forces of regulatory liberalisation and demutualisation of markets have allowed the largest global banks to set the rules, processes and infrastructure of global markets to their own self-interested requirements. Regulatory complexity and harmonisation benefit the biggest banks disproportionately, eroding the competitive stance of smaller, local banks and market participants. This has led to a very high degree of concentration in a very few banks in most markets that determine global reference rates for interest rates, currencies, commodities and investments. If those few collude with each other – as Adam Smith warned was always the result – then they impoverish us all.

We have allowed markets to evolve in ways that make supervision of markets almost impossible. Many instruments trade off-exchange or in multiple venues, making it nearly impossible for any single investor or regulator to supervise trading to prevent or detect manipulation or abuse. Many financial instruments are now synthetic compilations of underlying assets and derivatives, with multiple pricing components determined by reference to other prices or rates. Demutualisation and regualtory reforms stripped exchanges of the self-regulating interest in preventing manipulation and abuse by their members as mergers, profits and market share came to dominate governance objectives.

Off-exchange trading has been allowed to proliferate, creating massive ill-transparent and largely illiquid markets in almost every sector of finance. Pricing in these markets is based around calculated reference rates which, like LIBOR, are open to abusive quotation and data input practices. Many OTC derivatives are priced and margined using reference rates calculated against quotations unrelated to actual reported transactions. Synthetic securities such as ETFs are another example of an instrument that prices off a reference rate rather than the actual contents of an underlying asset portfolio. These instruments are open to consistent abusive pricing as a means of incrementally impoverishing those market participants who are the krill on which the global banks thrive.

How has it been possible for banks to grow from less than 4 per cent of the global economy to more than 12 per cent of the global economy without impoverishing others? How has it been possible for profits in the financial sector to be consistently higher than profits from other human endeavors with more tangible products or impacts on our daily lives – such as agriculture, transport, health care or utilities? How has it been possible that banks derive their profits not from the protected and regulated activities of deposit-taking and lending, but from the unsupervised and often unknowable escalation of off-balance sheet assets and liabilities? How has it been possible that pension savings have increased while pension returns have declined to the point where only bankers can expect a comfortable old age? Global banks have built the casinos and tilted the odds in the house’s favour by rigging the data that determines the outcomes of most of the bets on the table. Every one of us that sits at the table long enough – whether saver, investor, borrower, taxpayer or pensioner – will be a loser. It is not a flaw; it is feature…

Read the rest here.

Jesse at 12:38 PM

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First MFG(lobal), Now PFG: Who Is Next?

First MFG(lobal), Now PFG: Who Is Next?

It seems the murky world of segregated accounts and FCMs is coming under the right amount of scrutiny once again. Atlas Ratings – who provide detailed ratings analysis on the entire spectrum of FCMs – had identified PFG Best in the bottom 5% of all FCMs (but with 4 other firms ranking lower on their proprietary rating scale – see below). As they note, almost across the board, PFG Best lagged dramatically in most categories. The only category where they did not have low marks was in regard to exchange penalties. The commodity exchanges had not penalized PFG very often for their clearing procedures or floor record-keeping, that much was done adequately within the company. Everything else we monitor showed weakness within the company:

  • Their net capital ratio and the trend of that ratio was extremely weak.
  • Their business is not diversified, they rely on minimal interest revenue, commissions and any proprietary trading.
  • Customer assets growth has been weak, healthy companies attract and retain new accounts.
  • PFG Best has had many CFTC & NFA penalties, these are major red flags. They failed to ID a massive ponzi scheme.

The big question – obviously – is who is next? The following table provides some clear indications of where the stress may just explode next.

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20120709_FCM2_0.png

20120709_FCM3_0.png

20120709_FCM4_0.png

20120709_FCM5_0_0.png

It would seem account holders at Pioneer Futures, Rosenthal Collins Group, Crossland, Forex Capital Markets, and Velocity Futures should be checking in on those funds?

Source: Atlas Ratings

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Jesse’s Café Américain: US Futures Brokerage Accounts Frozen – Hundreds of Millions In Customer Mo ney Missing

Jesse’s Café Américain

“Mr. David Stockman has said that supply-side economics was merely a cover for the trickle-down approach to economic policy—what an older and less elegant generation called the horse-and-sparrow theory: If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.” John Kenneth Galbraith

09 July 2012

US Futures Brokerage Accounts Frozen – Hundreds of Millions In Customer Money Missing

Mr. Tucker of the Bank of England has indicated his recent disillusionment with rational expectations and the efficient markets hypothesis. ‘The markets are a cesspit and not to be trusted,’ said the pot to the kettles.

Abuse of the Libor system may be only one part of the banks’ dishonesty over crucial financial information, suggesting that other markets should now be investigated. “I can’t be confident of anything after learning of this cesspit.”

In keeping with this unraveling of the serial fraud known as the Anglo-American banking system, The National Futures Association today shut down operations at PFGBest after hundreds of millions of dollars of customer money were found to be missing from bank accounts reportedly held on behalf of customer accounts by the futures and options brokerage.

Apparently the CFTC had missed this one when they took strict measures to prevent another MF Global from occurring in the futures markets.

Get your money as far away from the financial markets as is possible while you can. There will not be time to move if the counter party dominoes start falling, and even more customer money begins to vaporize.

From John Lothian Newsletter:
Update 3 (5:54 PM CST):

In a Member Responsibility Action, released Monday afternoon, NFA alleges that PFGBest’s reported customer funds deposited at U.S. Bank did not match the amounts NFA found when NFA contacted the bank Monday. On June 29, 2012, PFGBest reported to the NFA that they had nearly $400 million in customer funds, of which approximately $225 million was purportedly deposited at U.S. Bank. The actual funds found in the account were approximately $5 million.

Furthermore, the NFA alleges that in contrast to purported bank confirmations submitted to the NFA that sought to confirm U.S. Bank balances as of February 2010 and March 2011, reported balances of approximately $207 million and $218 million, respectively, were actually less than $10 million for each of these months.

NFA says in the MRA that PFGBest was unable to demonstrate to the NFA that it had sufficient capital to meet its minimum adjusted net capital requirements or segregated funds to meet its obligations to customers.

Reuters
US broker PFGBest freezes funds after founder’s suicide attempt
By Tom Polansek and David Sheppard
9 July 2012

CHICAGO/NEW YORK, July 9 (Reuters) – Independent U.S. futures broker PFGBest said it had effectively frozen customer accounts on Monday after a suicide attempt by the company’s founder set off an investigation into possible “accounting irregularities.”

In a dramatic turn that may trigger a new round of anxiety over the stability of the brokerage industry less than a year after the collapse of much larger MF Global, the Cedar Falls, Iowa-based firm told customers that they would be limited to liquidating open positions until further notice.

The disclosure came hours after owner Russell R. Wasendorf Sr, a 40-year veteran of commodity markets, was found in his car near the company’s new headquarters, having apparently attempted to commit suicide. He is in critical condition at the University of Iowa Hospitals, according to local news reports.

PFGBest, which brokered trades in U.S. commodity and foreign exchange futures and options, told clients that the National Futures Association (NFA) and other officials had put its funds on hold, and that it was in “liquidation-only” status with its futures commission merchant (FCM), which clears its trades.

“What this means is no customers are able to trade except to liquidate positions. Until further notice, PFGBEST is not authorized to release any funds,” the note said.

PFGBest officials were not immediately available to comment. Messages and emails to NFA were not returned.

With about $400 million in segregated customer accounts, less than a tenth the amount MF Global had when it filed for bankruptcy, the fallout will likely be less severe. But news of more financial troubles in the brokerage sector still threatens to further erode confidence…

Read the rest here.

Jesse at 8:15 PM

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Jim Quinn: Economic Report Card – Fail

Economic Report Card – Fail

by Tyler Durden

From Jim Quinn of The Burning Platform

Economic Report Card – Fail

We are now three and one half years into Barack Obama’s presidency. I thought a few pertinent charts would help us assess the success of his economic policies. Upon his election he demanded an $800 billion stimulus package in order to keep the unemployment rate from surpassing 8%. The $800 billion was to be spent over two years we were told and then government spending would be scaled back to pre-stimulus levels. There were 145 million Americans employed when Obama was elected. There are 9 million more working age Americans today than there were in 2008. There are now 142.4 million employed Americans. So, we’ve added 9 million potential workers and still have 2.6 less Americans employed. We have the same number of Americans employed as we did in early 2006, when there were 17 million less working age Americans.

The Obama stimulus plan was passed with everything he wanted. Democrats controlled the House and Senate and gave him exactly what he proposed. By October 2009, the unemployment rate was 10%. Obama’s stimulus package and economic policies have been so successful that he has been able to get the unemployment rate all the way down to 8.2% after three and one half years, even though he said his stimulus package would keep the unemployment rate under 8%. And all it took to get the unemployment rate down to 8.2% was for 8 MILLION Americans to leave the labor force. A critical thinking person who doesn’t swallow the crap peddled by the BLS and the rest of the government propaganda machine might question WHY 8 million Americans would leave the workforce when people desperately need income. If the labor participation rate had stayed constant, the current unemployment rate is 10.9%.

070612rbjune

The long-term chart below tells the true story. The BLS classifying millions as not in the labor force is a crock. The Obama apologists and sycophants peddle a false storyline about Baby Boomers retiring as the cause for this labor force decline. The fact is people over the age of 55 have the highest participation rate in history and it continues to rise. Of the 142.4 million employed Americans, only 114 million works more than 35 hours per week, with 28.4 million working part-time. That means that 20% of those employed are part time workers with no benefits. In 2008, prior to the ascendency of Obama, there were 125 million full-time workers and 20 million part-time workers. Obama has been able to increase the percentage of part-time workers from 14% to 20% in just over 3 years. Remember this fact when Obama touts the 3 million new jobs he’s created since 2010.

If you were wondering what the 8.5 million Americans who have left the labor force since 2008 were doing, look no further than the millions of bedrooms now functioning as classrooms for the University of Phoenix and the other on-line, for profit diploma mills that have proliferated with the doling out of hundreds of billions in cheap government student loans. These for profit diploma mills know how to game the system and get their money even if the students drop out after a few months. They educate 12% of students, receive 25% of federal student aid and account for nearly 50% of loan defaults. Sounds like a great business model.

Low interest Federal government loans have skyrocketed from $100 billion when Obama took office to $450 billion today. Total student loan debt has surpassed $1 trillion, with the average student graduating with $25,000 of debt and many more burdened with $100,000 or more of debt. Those part-time jobs making lattes at Starbucks aren’t cutting it. Default rates are already at a ten year high and are poised to skyrocket as more people graduate into a jobless job market. Not only is the American taxpayer on the hook for the $450 billion of direct Federal student loans, but the Federal government is guaranteeing another $450 billion. When the student loan bubble pops, the taxpayer financed bailout will be epic. And this is all being engineered by the Obama administration in order to artificially reduce the unemployment rate. Does this graph remind you of another bubble that resulted in a few problems for the American taxpayer?

After three and a half years, Obama’s policies have led to 11 million less full-time workers and 8 million more part-time workers – just like he drew it up on the board when he committed $800 billion of your tax dollars to saving our economy through classic Keynesianism. Obama declared the stimulus would be a two year jolt to get our economy back on track. Federal government spending was $2.7 trillion in 2006, $2.7 trillion in 2007 and $3.0 trillion in 2008, the last three years of Bush’s administration. If spending stayed on a standard trajectory, it would have been $3.1 trillion in 2009, $3.2 trillion in 2010, $3.3 trillion in 2011 and $3.4 trillion in 2012. With the end of the Iraq occupation in 2010, it should have dropped by $200 billion, resulting in total spending of $3.1 trillion in 2011 and $3.2 trillion in 2012.

Obama declared the stimulus would be short-term. Federal government spending should have risen to $3.5 trillion in 2009, $3.6 trillion in 2010 ($300 billion stimulus – $200 billion Iraq withdrawal), and then revert back to $3.3 trillion in 2011 and $3.4 trillion in 2012. Let’s see whether Obama was honest in his promises:

Federal Government Spending

2009 – $3.5 trillion

2010 – $3.5 trillion

2011 – $3.6 trillion

2012 – $3.8 trillion

After three and one half years of stimulus spending, Cash for Clunkers, Home Buyer Tax Credits, mortgage modification programs, Fannie, Freddie & FHA accumulating billions in bank losses, zero interest rates, QE1, QE2, Operation Twist, unlimited student loans, wars of choice in the Middle East, mark to fantasy accounting standards for Wall Street, and hundreds of billions in bonuses for criminal bankers, we are left with a $5.3 trillion (50% increase) higher national debt and a $300 billion (2.3% increase) higher real GDP. That’s not exactly a big bang for your Keynesian buck. The response you will get from the Obama apologists is, “Imagine how bad it would have been if we didn’t spend the money”. This is a classic liberal response when their solutions are a total failure. Krugman will declare that if we had only spent another $2 trillion all would be well.

As you can see, Obama and all the politicians in Washington DC are really good at spending your money on pork projects, paying off campaign contributors and compensating their corporate cronies. Do you see any reversion back to normalized spending? How can current spending be $300 billion higher than the two stimulus years if Obama was telling the truth in 2009? The Obamanistas declare we are still in an emergency and must borrow and spend to save the economy. The emergency never ends for politicians of both parties. This is how they have bastardized John Maynard Keynes’ theory. They love to implement spending when the economy is in the dumper, but they forget his admonition to pay down debt during the good times. It never happens. There will always be another emergency. Even 2nd grade level Sesame Street fans can see the Federal government spending and debt accumulation never reverses. It couldn’t be any more obvious, unless you are an intellectually dishonest Keynesian ideologue hack (aka Krugman).

This brings us to the crowning economic achievement of the Obama administration. His most successful program is unequivocally the SNAP food stamp program. When Obama assumed power in January 2009 there were 32 million Americans on food stamps and the annual cost of the program was $44 billion. Today there are 46 million Americans on food stamps and the annual cost is pacing at $75 billion. He has been able to get fully 15% of the U.S. population enrolled in this fantastic program and the Department of Agriculture is even running advertisements to convince more people to join.

And don’t worry about any restrictions. You can buy as much soda, ice cream, cheetos, and fudge brownies with your SNAP card as you choose. Of course, you are still free to purchase higher end fare.

A cynical less trusting soul than me might even conclude that Obama’s goal is to provide government entitlements to as many people as possible in order to win votes in the upcoming election. One might ask how he can tout an economic recovery and the millions of “new” jobs he has created since 2010, when 6 million people have been added to the food stamp rolls since his economic recovery officially began in 2010. I’m confused by the Obama distinction between success and utter failure.

Not far behind the food stamp program, the SSDI program has been another resounding Obama success. He has been able to enroll twice as many participants in this program as jobs created since the end of the recession. There are already 10 million people on SSDI costing the American taxpayer in excess of $150 billion per year. There are 250,000 people per month applying for benefits and the program will be broke by 2015. In a shocking development, when people began to roll off the 99 week unemployment gravy train, the number of new SSDI applications soared. I guess they were depressed at not being able to collect unemployment for two more years.

Bob Adelman recently summed up the SSDI scam:

“The program, funded federally but administered by the states, is being milked by many who have run out of unemployment benefits and other resources and haven’t been able to find work. At present one out of every eight working-age, non-retired individuals receive disability payments, some for “mental disorders” and “back pain.” Claims for mental disorders, for instance, have more than tripled from 10 percent of cases in 1982 to 32.8 percent in 2012, with half of those based on “mood disorders” such as depression or anxiety. Back or neck “problems” have increased by 31 percent and were the top cause of disability for 50- to 64-year olds. Depression and anxiety and other emotional problems increased by 20 percent, and now constitute one-third of all disability claims. Once on the rolls, beneficiaries have little incentive to return to work because their disability entitles them to additional benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid, Section 8 housing, and student-loan forgiveness. As a result less than one half of one percent of those on disability ever go back to work.”

I’m depressed by the results of Obama’s economic policies. Maybe I should apply for SSDI.

It appears that former college professor Obama never paid attention in his macroeconomics undergraduate course. The “guns versus butter model” doesn’t enter the equation for a profound thinker like Barack. Why do hard choices need to be made when Ben Bernanke is manning the printing press? In the real world, a nation has to choose between two options when spending its finite resources. It can buy either guns (invest in defense/military) or butter (invest in production of goods), or a combination of both. This can be seen as an analogy for choices between defense and civilian spending in more complex economies. Politicians and bankers have been ignoring this rational model since 1971 when Nixon closed the gold window. Why make difficult choices when you can borrow and print your way to prosperity? As a country we’ve chosen guns, butter, BMWs, McMansions, free unfunded healthcare, unfunded pensions, unfunded sickcare, and DHS implemented security for all. In order to prove himself tougher than George W., Obama, the socialist, has actually increased war spending by 23% to an all-time high. Fiat currency is an amazing invention. Guns, butter and healthcare for all.

Mainstream media liberals like Ezra Klein dutifully trot out charts and storylines trying to convince the ignorant masses that Obama is not to blame for the soaring national debt. They declare it was the Bush tax cuts and his wars. This blame Bush storyline is growing old as Obama has already extended the Bush tax cuts once, ramped up wars in the Middle East and cut payroll taxes for the last two years. The Office of Management and Budget has calculated the total increase in the national debt will be $7.8 trillion after eight years of Obama, 269% more than was accumulated during the Bush reign of error. I believe the $7.8 trillion is ridiculously optimistic. The national debt has increased by $5.3 trillion since Obama took office. It will go up another $200 billion by the end of this fiscal year. It will surely exceed $1 trillion per year during a 2nd Obama term as he would extend most of the Bush tax cuts, extend the payroll tax cuts, continue to increase war spending, and the hidden delayed Obamacare costs would arrive. His eight year report card will show a $9.5 trillion increase in the national debt, reaching the magic grand total of $20 trillion. The national debt to GDP ratio will be close to 120%.

This scathing assessment of Obama’s economic policies is by no means an endorsement of Mitt Romney or his economic plan, since he has never provided a detailed economic plan. After four years of a Romney presidency, the national debt will also be $20 trillion as his war with Iran and handouts to his Wall Street brethren replace Obama’s food stamps and entitlement pork. There was only one presidential candidate whose proposals would have placed this country back on a sustainable path. The plutocracy controlled corporate mainstream media did their part in ignoring and then scorning Ron Paul during his truth telling campaign. The plutocracy wants to retain their wealth and power, while the willfully ignorant masses don’t want to think. The words of Ron Paul sum up what will occur over the coming years as the interchangeable pieces of this corporate fascist farce drive the country to ruin:

“Deficits mean future tax increases, pure and simple. Deficit spending should be viewed as a tax on future generations, and politicians who create deficits should be exposed as tax hikers.”

“A system of capitalism presumes sound money, not fiat money manipulated by a central bank. Capitalism cherishes voluntary contracts and interest rates that are determined by savings, not credit creation by a central bank.”

“Believe me, the next step is a currency crisis because there will be a rejection of the dollar, the rejection of the dollar is a big, big event, and then your personal liberties are going to be severely threatened.”

 

The politicians, bankers and corporate titans running this country are too corrupt and cowardly to reverse the course on our path to destruction. The debt will continue to accumulate until our Minsky Moment. At that point the U.S. dollar will be rejected and chaos will reign. The Great American Empire will be no more. At that time sides will need to be chosen and blood will begin to spill. Decades of bad decisions, corruption, cowardice, ignorance, greed and sloth will come to a head. The verdict of history will not be kind to the once great American Empire.

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What Is Market “Certainty”?

What Is Market “Certainty”?

From Bill Buckler, author of The Privateer

What Is Market “Certainty”?

Without going into detail, the concept of “market certainty” is obviously impossible. All one can know is that as long as human beings continue to trade the fruits of their labours amongst themselves, a market will exist. The prices that will emerge from these exchanges in the future can never be known because human beings are not inanimate objects, they have the power of thought and the power of choice.

When an institutional investor or market analyst or market regulator talks of “certainty”, they are talking about an ingrained faith that the interventions and manipulations which “worked” in the past to push markets higher will work just as well in the future. They don’t count on the power of thought or of choice. They count on the power of the common denominator in all prices. As long as the government and its banking system retains full control over the money, the “markets” will always have the fuel they need. That is the “certainty” relied upon by those who claim that markets hate “uncertainty”.

What modern markets actually hate is any hint that the ability to conjure up ever larger supplies of “money” might not be connecting to the markets in the manner it once did. What modern markets fear is the ever growing evidence all around them that this is indeed happening. The last Fed Chairman of the era of fixed exchange rates with a US Dollar still redeemable (by governments and central banks only) in Gold was William McChesney Martin. His tenure stretched from 1951 to 1970. Mr Martin is now best known for his job description. He described it as follows: “I’m the fellow who takes away the punch bowl just when the party is getting good.”

Mr Martin did “take away the punch bowl” several times during his tenure. So did Mr Volcker at the end of the 1970s. But no Fed Chairman has done it since. It has long become market “certainty” in the US and everywhere else that it will never be done again. The markets are still trying to convince themselves that the punchbowl will always be there and they will never have to sober up.

….

One of the few things that we do know – for certain – about the future is that actions have consequences. In the world studied by the physical sciences of inanimate matter, it is possible to predict the future with certainty. That is because the entities being studied ARE inanimate. They have no power to initiate an action so they have no power to vary their reaction to a force which is applied to them. In the field of the study of HUMAN action, the situation is fundamentally different. No “stimulus” will ever produce the same response on entities which have the power of thought and the power of choice.

What the study of HUMAN action can tell us with certainty is that a given action will produce a given consequence. The timing of that consequence and its severity cannot be determined. All that can be known is if that a government has the exclusive power to determine what is used as money and if it uses that power to produce ever increasing quantities of it out of thin air, the days of its functioning as money are numbered. It has been well said that: “There have always been only two kinds of paper money in the world. Those which are already worthless and those which are going to be.

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Paul Brodsky: Central Banks Are Nearing The ‘Inflate Or Die’ Stage

Paul Brodsky: Central Banks Are Nearing The ‘Inflate Or Die’ Stage

Submitted by Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity

Paul Brodsky: Central Banks Are Nearing The ‘Inflate Or Die’ Stage

“It’s impossible to have a political solution to a balance sheet problem” says Paul Brodsky, bond market expert and co-founder of QB Asset Management.

The world has simply gotten itself into too much debt. There are creditors that expect to be paid, and debtors that are having an increasingly difficult time making their coupon payments. No amount of political or policy intervention is going to change that reality. (Unless a global “debt jubilee” transpires, which Paul thinks is unlikely).

Looking at the global monetary base, Paul sees it dwarfed by the staggering amount of debts that need to be repaid or serviced. The reckless use of leverage has resulted in a chasm between total credit and the money that can service it.

So how will this debt overhang be resolved?

Central bank money printing — and lots of it — thinks Paul.

At this point, the danger posed by the instability of our monetary and fiscal house of cards is so great that trying to time an investment program to when this avalanche of printing will occur is too risky, in Paul’s opinion. It’s time to shift your remaining capital into hard assets and sit on the sidelines to watch the carnage play out.

On The Imbalance Between Debts and Money Supply

We are seeing — not only in the US but in Europe and in Asia, as well — separating bank assets and base money. Base money is comprised of currency in circulation plus bank reserves that are held at central banks — at the Fed or that is at the ECB, the Bank of Japan, so on and so forth. This is how the global economy rolls, as they say.

Bank assets are loans mostly. And the amounts globally are staggering: something approaching $100 trillion in global bank assets. And in the US we think that is somewhere around $20 trillion held in the US and abroad. And the numbers for the monetary base are much, much lower. Specifically in bank reserves — that is the amount of reserves that are collateralizing, if you will, all of those $100 trillion in bank assets — something about $8.5 to $9 trillion dollars. So that gives you a sense of perspective as to how much the global banking system is leverage. We are in a baseless monetary system.

The marketplace forces deleveraging, and there are two ways to deleverage. One is to let credit deteriorate on its own in the marketplace. And the other is to manufacture new currency or bank reserves. Those are the only two ways to deleverage a balance sheet.

What policy makers do not want to see is bank asset deterioration. That would lead to all sorts of bad things. You would see banks fail. You would see bank systems fail. You would see debtors fail and it would just feed on itself in an accelerating fashion. And so monetary policy makers have no choice but to deleverage in the other way, which is to colloquially print money; to manufacture electronic credits and call them bank reserves.

And to the degree that that extends into the private sector where debtors begin to fail en masse, that would increase failures of the bank assets in turn. And it would end the mortgage bond securities market, for example, and the leveraged loan markets, and end the private sector shadow banking system. So it does not work for anybody to have credit deteriorate. The only way to deleverage an economy is as we are saying: to create new base money with which to do it.

On The Wisdom of Owning Gold & Hard Assets

The point here is you can either monetize debt or you can monetize (sell) assets. Or you revalue an asset on the balance sheet already of the Treasury or the Fed. And obviously that asset, we think, is gold. And that is the monetary asset that they have always reverted in the past. And that is the one we think that currencies, currently baseless currencies will be devalued against.

And so that we think is the mechanism that is ultimately going to play out whether in the marketplace or through some policy administered devaluation. Currencies are going to be devalued and that is where we sit right now. Timing this is impossible. We think the amount it would have to be devalued by, getting back to your original question, has got to be the amount of or something close to the amount of the gap (tens of US$ trillions) between bank assets and bank reserves. So it is a significant number.

And Treasury ministries, being the ultimate issuers of obligors on the hook for currency repayment, we see them as lending the gold to their central banks so that this mechanism, this asset monetization devaluation can take place. And so we think it is the only way out ultimately. And we will see that happen either in the marketplace or through proclamation at some point. And it is really what has to happen.

nd so there is no physical limitation on the amount of currency that central banks may manufacture. And so this is a completely viable way to deleverage the system — by purely destroying the currency that we have. It is debt currency, so we are going to destroy the debt in real terms behind them but not destroy them in nominal terms. That is the net effect of all this.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Paul Brodsky (44m:37s):

iTunes [3] | Download [4] | Report Problem [5]

Click here to read the transcript

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