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All this time, we’ve been in a Great Depression

A few weeks back, Michael Snyder at The Economic Collapse blog looked at U.S. GDP growth rates for the ten years 1930-1939 and the ten years 2007-2016. I didn’t verify his numbers but they seem plausible (referring to real GDP). Snyder says:

1930: -8.5%
1931: -6.4%
1932: -12.9%
1933: -1.3%
1934: 10.8%
1935: 8.9%
1936: 12.9%
1937: 5.1%
1938: -3.3%
1939: 8.0%

When you average all of those years together, you get an average rate of economic growth of 1.33 percent.

That is really bad, but it is the kind of number that one would expect from “the Great Depression”.

So then I looked up the numbers for the last ten years…

2007: 1.8%
2008: -0.3%
2009: -2.8%
2010: 2.5%
2011: 1.6%
2012: 2.2%
2013: 1.7%
2014: 2.4%
2015: 2.6%
2016: 1.6%

When you average these years together, you get an average rate of economic growth of 1.33 percent.

The same! But wait, averaging them isn’t quite right. For math-y reasons, it’s better to take a starting index value like 100, then apply the growth rates year by year. I did that, and

  • Real GDP grew 10% from 1930-1939.
  • Real GDP grew 14% from 2007-2016.

Still not much difference! The point remains that the last 10 years have been super lame. President Obama was perhaps the first in U.S. history to never have a single year of real GDP growth over 3%.

And it’s possible that Obama’s record was yet worse. Remember, in recent years they’ve been padding the GDP numbers. They directly added nonsense to GDP. They also under-estimate inflation, which artificially boosts the growth estimates.

But for now, let’s stick with official numbers (where Obama’s overall record is nearly as bad as a Great Depression), and pivot to look at unemployment.

You may wonder: if we’ve been in a depression, how could the unemployment rate be down at 5%? The difference from the 1930s is that, in our time, the Establishment (or Political-Financial Complex) has been determined to fool people – to boil the frog (us) slowly, so to speak – and to cover for President Lightworker. Thus,

  • They let him jack the national debt from $10 trillion to $20 trillion. Even a monkey could make GDP seem halfway-OK for 8 years, if you gave him a $10 trillion credit card.
  • They had the central bank (Federal Reserve) conjure trillions of new money from thin air and inject it into the financial markets. It’s chicanery, but people say “At least my home and 401k are up.”
  • And they baked the unemployment statistics. Remember, the official 5% number hides a huge decline in Labor Force Participation, plus full-time jobs being replaced with crappy part-time jobs.
    • If you add back the people who left the labor force in despair these last ten years, real unemployment is 11-12%.
    • And if you add the extra part-timers (assuming they would rather be full-time), it’s even worse.

Depression 2.0 has been with us, all this time. It’s part of why people were so unhappy with Queen Cersei in 2016 (who ran as the Establishment’s poster child).

What does all this bode for President Trump? Probably not well.

  • He’s trimmed back some of Obama’s growth-killing regulations. That will help.
  • And his infrastructure spending may go to productive works (unlike Obama’s 2009 “Porkulus” package), if he can get it passed. He wants to revive American manufacturing, which would be good.
  • BUT, with so much debt on the books and so many Americans expecting handouts, our underlying economic problems are worse than ever.

Trump has inherited a sinking ship. The next recession should be a roller-coaster. If the American Left is krazy and violent now, just you wait.

Then again, maybe our leadership will hit on the solution quickly (a Free Enterprise system with smaller government, Rule of Law, sound money, cutting the Welfare-Warfare State, letting Washington and Wall Street fail, letting Main Street pick up the pieces). And maybe our leadership will use the media skillfully (plus a few well-placed arrests) to transition people’s minds to all that. Don’t tell me I’m dreaming.

OK, I’m dreaming. Time to buy more ammo.

He will propose spending cuts?

A few weeks ago, I took a dim view of President Trump’s tax proposal:

The true level of taxation is the government’s spending level. All spending must be paid for, one way or another. There are 3 possibilities.

1. Overt taxes.
2. Borrowing. This is a covert tax, a tax on the future (when either the debt must be repudiated, or more and more government revenues must be diverted to servicing it).
3. Money-printing. Another hidden tax, this time on the real value (the purchasing power) of everyone’s wages and savings. Also known as “inflation”.

So really, it isn’t a tax cut unless it’s a spending cut also. Trump wants to cut the overt taxes. So, what? Without spending cuts, it’s only a corresponding increase in the hidden taxes: borrowing and/or money-printing.

I gotta give credit where it’s due. It looks like Trump is going to propose spending cuts?

More details from President Donald Trump’s first budget proposal are trickling out via a flurry of overnight reports from The Washington Post, Associated Press and Bloomberg News…

The budget will slash $1.7 trillion in spending on entitlement programs, according to Bloomberg.
Trump’s budget will include a massive nearly $200 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the modern version of food stamps, over the next 10 years – what amounts to a 25% reduction, according to The Washington Post.
The food stamp cuts are part of a broader $274 billion welfare-reform effort, according to a report by The Associated Press.
The budget calls for about $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid for fiscal year 2018, WaPo reported.
The budget is also expected to propose major domestic discretionary spending cuts – an earlier version of the budget called for $54 billion in such cuts next year alone.

Whether the Republicans in Congress will tolerate any cuts, is another matter.

Note that these cuts are hardly draconian. OK, the numbers sound large. But only because:

  1. some of the numbers are totals across many fiscal years, and
  2. the government IS large. Spending and promises (entitlements) skyrocketed under Bush 43 and Obama.

But the Controlled Media is sure to make them sound like the Entropic Heat Death of the Universe.

Trump’s tax plan

Yesterday, President Trump outlined his tax plan. Key features:

  • Slightly lower personal income tax rates. (Top rate from near-40% to 35%.)
  • Eliminating almost all income tax deductions, except mortgage interest and charitable contributions. (No more deduction for your State or property taxes, among other things.) Increase in the “standard deduction”.
  • Much lower corporate income tax rates. (Top rate from 35%, one of the world’s highest, to 15%.)
  • A one-time tax on overseas business profits. (That haven’t been repatriated to the U.S. Apple has a lot.)
  • A “territorial system” where future profits that corporations earn abroad, are not taxed.
  • Repealing a bunch of taxes and complications, most notably the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and the estate tax.

Of course, Congress still has to chew on it.

Taking Trump’s proposals by themselves, I have little objection. Rates should be lower. High income taxes are a form of slavery. Corporate income taxes are stupid because they are an indirect, distorted sales tax (that is, a tax paid ultimately by consumers). Estate taxes destroy many small businesses (forcing families to liquidate the business in order to pay the 50% tax or whatever).

Nonetheless, I can’t praise this plan. Because it will reduce revenues at first, without being matched by spending cuts. Our budget will come no closer to balance.

President Obama already doubled the U.S. national debt in his 8 years, from roughly $10 trillion to roughly $20 trillion, for an average real annual deficit around $1.25 trillion. Is Trump going to beat Obama’s record? I sure hope not.

This is an important point. The true level of taxation is the government’s spending level. All spending must be paid for, one way or another. There are 3 possibilities.

  1. Overt taxes.
  2. Borrowing. This is a covert tax, a tax on the future (when either the debt must be repudiated, or more and more government revenues must be diverted to servicing it).
  3. Money-printing. Another hidden tax, this time on the real value (the purchasing power) of everyone’s wages and savings. Also known as “inflation”.

So really, it isn’t a tax cut unless it’s a spending cut also. Trump wants to cut the overt taxes. So, what? Without spending cuts, it’s only a corresponding increase in the hidden taxes: borrowing and/or money-printing.

And what happens when we add (say) a Trump infrastructure spending package and a Syria or North Korea war on top of that? More of the hidden taxes: borrowing and/or money-printing.

Obama Debt Roundup

I meant to do this awhile back, updating previous posts in the series.

When President Obama left office on January 20, 2017, the U.S. national debt was $19.9 trillion. ($14.4 trillion held by the public; $5.5 trillion “intragovernmental”, for example, Treasury bonds held by Social Security.)

When Obama took office on January 20, 2009, the U.S. national debt was $10.6 trillion. ($6.3 trillion held by the public; $4.3 intragovernmental)

Obama more-than-doubled the part of the U.S. national debt that everyone agrees is important (what’s “held by the public”). And he nearly doubled the total.

And for what? Eight years of the weakest economy “recovery” on record.

Midnight in America

That dark title comes from Peter Schiff, the investment analyst and libertarian ninja. His article’s conclusion:

Ronald Reagan was the last Republican president who was swept into office promising great change. He made good on his “Morning in America” promises to cut taxes and regulations. But he failed in his promises to reduce spending. …[and now after others did even worse,] the economy of 2016 has far deeper problems than the economy of 1980. Reagan’s morning now looks more like Trump’s midnight.

Trump did not make this mess, but he will likely be in office to clean it up.

The question is: Will President-Elect Trump be able or willing to clean it up? As Schiff puts it:

…as bleak as the picture Trump painted of the current state of the U.S. economy, it was not bleak enough. Before things can actually get better, they must first be allowed to get much worse. Decades of government promises to supply voters with benefits taxpayers can’t afford must be broken, starting with many of the promises Trump made himself to get elected.

(Emphasis added) That has been my chief criticism of Romney (in 2012) and of Trump all along: Although they were “truthier” with the voters than their Democratic opponents, they still didn’t tell voters nearly enough of the truth.

After eight years of President Obama, we now have a national debt of $19.8 trillion by official figures; and something far north of $100 trillion when you include the “unfunded liabilities” (the future benefits promises that the government should report, under proper accounting standards – and does not). States, and especially their pension funds, also face a great crisis where they won’t come close to meeting their future promises. This is all very different from when Reagan took office.

Based on his speeches about “infrastructure” spending and his past track record, Trump’s first instinct might be to run up the U.S. debt up to even greater heights than Obama has. But at some point, Trump’s deficit spending will hit a wall: a full-on recession (it’s overdue) and a new financial crisis, wherein world markets simply won’t allow the United States to carry on as before.

What happens then? Will Trump give Americans the bad news about serious cuts to their benefits and hopes? Or will Trump flounder, protect special interests – maybe hyperinflate the dollar – and allow events to destroy him and us?

Anyway, it’s been fun to watch the left-wing butthurt over President-Elect Trump these last few days; but realism compels me to start being a wet blanket again. America’s problems, especially its debt problems, are beyond anything that even Trump had acknowledged.

He won’t be able to fix them by magic. And in a way, left-liberals are right: the next four years will be awful, for many.

Deficit update

First, let’s do a National Debt update. You’ll see why, in a minute.

As of this day, the U.S. national debt is $19.3 trillion. ($13.9 trillion held by the public; $5.4 trillion “intragovernmental”, for example, Treasury bonds held by Social Security.)

When President Obama took over from President Bush, it was $10.6 trillion. ($6.3 trillion held by the public; $4.3 intragovernmental)

So, Obama has already more-than-doubled the part of the U.S. national debt that everyone agrees is important (what’s “held by the public”). And he’s on track to double the total, by the time he leaves office.

But there’s more. On this day 3 years ago, the total was $16.7 trillion. So, over the past 3 years, the U.S. operating deficit – the money that the U.S. Treasury actually had to borrow to pay for stuff – has been $2.6 trillion, or roughly $865 billion per year.

That’s funny because the three most recent U.S. budget deficits are supposed to be much smaller. 2014 – $483 billion, 2015 – $438 billion, 2016 – $616 billion; for a total of $1.5 trillion. (September-ending fiscal year means a 2-3 month shift from the dates I used above; but that does not alter the story drastically.)

What does it mean? It means they’re lying to us about the size of the U.S. budget deficit. And they’ve been lying for years, as I’ve blogged previously.

Oh, you could say “Come now, the accounting numbers are accurate, they’re just using some budget/accounting tricks to hide a big chunk of their spending-and-borrowing.” But I consider tricks to be lies. Don’t you?

According to left-wingers like MSNBC and Rachel Maddow, or even the Dear Leader Himself, His Dear Leadership has reduced the U.S. annual budget deficit by 2/3. No, pumpkins. It hasn’t. You lie.

Why gold is (real) money

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 6:15 pm - July 1, 2016.
Filed under: Debt Crisis,Economy,Free (or Private) Enterprise

In 1912, testifying before Congress, the banking giant J.P. Morgan famously said “Money is gold, nothing else.” The quote is often repeated in a fake-but-accurate form as “Gold is money, everything else is credit.”

On and off for 15 years, I’ve read/thought about why that is so; especially in view of the people (both Left and Right) who deny it. I thought I would lay out the answer for anyone with eyes to see.

According to the IMF, money is a medium of exchange, a unit of account and a store of value. It arose as an improvement on barter.

Instead of having to directly barter my apples for your oranges, I would trade my perishable apples to some third party for a particular, third good. Wait…Why would I do that? I would do it if the third good is generic, non-perishable, popular (widely admired and valued), limited in supply, and easily handled and stored. Then I can KNOW that you’ll take it trade for your oranges, and the doctor will take it from you in trade for his services, and the baker from the doctor, and so on, forever.

Right there, we can see that real money is some physical good that society’s marketplace finds to be sufficiently generic, non-perishable, popular, supply-limited and easily moved/stored – so that the marketplace will use it as a medium of exchange, and then logically also as a unit of account and a store of value. It could be shells, cattle, salt, cigarettes. But most societies in human history found that silver and gold made the best money, and then mainly gold.

In technical terms, gold is money because it is the good that has the slowest-declining marginal utility.

In layman’s terms (saying much the same thing), gold is the most marketable and hoardable good; the one good that any sane trader would always want a little more of. Oil, apples, wheat, cattle, U.S. Treasury bonds, Bitcoin, Whitney Houston CDs, etc. are not like that.

“But gold is useless!” anti-gold people will say. “It’s a pet rock!” Sorry, but that is a feature not a bug (as they say in software engineering). The fact that gold isn’t needed for some other crucial use is ONE of the reasons why it is so hoardable, and became the most important money.

(Other reasons, shared partly but NOT entirely by silver, are that it’s beautiful and artistic, straight women love it, it’s enduring / corrosion-proof, it’s divisible, it’s ultra-generic as a mere element on the periodic table, it’s compact, it’s user-friendly because almost anyone can hold it and understand what it is, it’s somewhat rare but not too rare – and again, you’re always OK with owning a little more of it. But I digress.)

In the West today, gold is no longer currency. Currency is a representation of money that gets used in a modern country’s daily life. Originally, currency was claim checks (called banknotes) on actual gold or silver at a bank. But today, we use dollars, euro, yen, etc. And what are those things? They’re inventions of certain government-sponsored banks.

They come into existence by decree, or by the mere click of a keyboard; thus the term, “fiat currency”. In effect, a fiat currency is non-redeemable shares in a particular central bank’s assets. (Yes. On each central bank’s balance sheet, the currency + bank reserves that it has created are the major part of the Liabilities + Equity column.)

And what do central banks hold as assets? Lots of financial-system crap – including government bonds, sub-prime mortgage bonds (what caused the 2008 financial crisis), other currencies, and even company stocks (the Swiss central bank is big on Apple). Plus, some gold. The top central banks hold thousands of tons.

And of those central-bank assets, which is the best and most important? Hint: Gold is the only asset in the financial system that can ever be free of “counterparty risk”; that is, the only asset which isn’t also somebody else’s liability.

A bond is somebody else’s liability. It is good only if they stay solvent. A government bond is just the government promising to pay some fiat currency, subject to risks like default or hyperinflation. Central-bank gold does not have those risks. Which is why they value it, and why the “safer” or more-prestigious central banks tend to have larger gold reserves, which adds to their strength.

Thus, although the Western world no longer uses gold as currency, it is still the “pet rock” (or Rock of Gibraltar) upon which rest the key central banks, and so the entire financial system. As such, gold is real money. And everything else – from government bonds, all the way down to your bank account and the cash (the fiat currency) in your pocket – is, in the end, mere credit.

(more…)

Player 2 Has Entered the Game

Ted Cruz announced he is running for president, which comes as a surprise to no one. I like Ted Cruz a lot, but I am wary of ideologically driven men who run for president before completing a single term in the senate. That has never worked out well for us as a country.

The Democrats are attacking Ted Cruz as the architect of the Government “shutdown” that they claim “cost the economy $24 Billion.” To me, and others who can process information in a rational way, this actually makes the case for Ted Cruz or someone like him. When Democrats make the attack that Government spending is necessary to sustain the economy, they are admitting that the economy is dysfunctional. If the economy requires trillions of dollars in deficit spending to keep from collapsing, something is deeply wrong with it.

And if you think that constantly running up Trillions of dollars in debt is a sustainable economic model, I know an adult pre-school in Brooklyn who will gladly accept your Visa card.

Greek drama update

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 2:21 pm - February 23, 2015.
Filed under: Debt Crisis,Leftist Nutjobs,Politics abroad

Greece’s Syriza-led government has basically folded, for now, in its debt negotiations with the rest of Europe.

A “complete political surrender to the world of reality” was how [one European bank analyst] put it. [Other analysts] labeled it a “u-turn” by Tsipras, who won election Jan. 25 promising an end to budget cutting.
[…]
At last week’s meeting, Greece signed up to all the conditions of its current package and to continued international oversight, ditching plans to win back control of its purse strings so it could raise wages and pensions.

You can find GayPatriot’s backgrounder here. And some details on the new agreement, here.

Needless to say, many Syriza supporters are outraged. For example, one Syriza veteran of WW2 said, “…[Syriza’s] promises have not turned into practice…On my part, I APOLOGIZE to the Greek people because I have contributed to this illusion.”

My feelings are mixed. Pleasure at seeing a gang of socialists having to learn math, combined with dismay/sympathy for the Greek people – who probably shouldn’t cave in; they probably would be better off, in the long run, if they defaulted on their debt and left the Eurozone.

I don’t think this drama is over. I think it ends with either Greece or Germany leaving the Euro currency (later this year or perhaps in 2016), as the Eurozone simply isn’t big enough for both of them. But, as the saying goes, “we’ll see.”

The Banker Suicides – update

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 6:28 pm - February 16, 2015.
Filed under: Debt Crisis,Economy

I previously noted (here and here) how Zero Hedge has been tracking the strange run of “suicides” among the world’s mid-level bankers in the last couple of years. Scare quotes because the circumstances are mysterious in many of the cases. And because banks and financial markets have been doing great all this time, right?

Here’s the update.

  • In the end, 2014 saw 36 of these deaths. (ZH gives the list. Any pattern?)
  • The trend continues in 2015, with four mid-level banker deaths, so far.
  • They include yet another ABN Amro executive – this one well-known as a “cheerful” boyfriend of hot models – and yet another JPMorgan guy – this one who said openly on LinkedIn, “I am very good and creative with data manipulation…and can…provide senior managers what is needed before asked to do so.”

As I’ve said before: Whether these deaths are murders (to cover up something?) or genuine suicides by the despondent, either way they suggest a world financial system that is worse off than what is generally known.

Get out the popcorn: Greece is bringin’ the drama

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 6:07 pm - January 25, 2015.
Filed under: Debt Crisis,Economy,Leftist Nutjobs,Politics abroad

As AP reports, Greece has just gone (further) to the left by voting in their “Syriza” party. With 60% of the vote counted, Syriza leads with 36%, a blowout by Greece’s fragmented / multi-party standard.

Flounder of Delta House was reached for comment and said, “Oh boy, is this great!” Why would he? Because Syriza is a delightful mixture of the sane and the insane.

First, their key campaign plank has been to provoke a new crisis over Greece’s debt to the rest of Europe, including no small chance that Greece would default and/or leave the Euro currency. And that’s the sane part.

It’s sane, because Greece had entered the Euro under false pretenses and then borrowed far more than Greece can ever repay. Syriza is right that Greece’s debt problem is serious, and right that Greece’s solution may well be to default honestly and return to its former currency (the drachma), so that (after devaluation) Greece can be competitive in world markets. (Correction: Officially, Syriza wants to remain in the Euro. It’s just that no one else believes they can, if they’re serious about getting a haircut on Greece’s debt.)

The insane part is that Syriza calls their plans “an end to austerity”, “leaving austerity behind”, and so forth. The implication would be that, these last few years, Greece has buckled down and made painful, deep cuts to its public-sector spending. Yeah, except they haven’t.

When I last checked in 2013, Greece had still not made significant cuts to government spending after years of crisis and supposed austerity. (Update: tradingeconomics.com figures say that Greece did cut spending in 2010-2012 and has already started to reverse the cuts. In 2014, Greece’s spending was near its all-time high from 2009.)

As I’ve explained before, “austerity” is just the Left’s code word to mean “We aren’t being allowed to spend wildly enough!” If government stays as big as ever – if government has merely a small pause or slowing of its growth – the Left screams about the horrible austerity.

Likewise, “ending austerity” is the Left’s code to mean they get to grow government again and basically have it consume the rest of the economy (whatever it doesn’t own already). That is what the Greeks just voted in. A party that (wisely) wants to provoke a crisis over Greece’s debt; so that it can (stupidly) have even moar of the high-spending, Big Government policies that bankrupted Greece in the first place.

Something tells me the Greeks are about to find out what austerity really is.

What’s the deficit, really?

In October 2013, I noted that the U.S. national debt leapt over $300 billion – the day after they raised the debt ceiling. It went from $16.75 trillion to $17.08 trillion, just days after President Obama had publicly lied that “…raising the debt ceiling…is not raising our debt. This does not add a dime to our debt.”

Update: Today, the U.S. national debt is about $18.01 trillion (or as this post is being written, $18,005,549,328,561.45).

$18 trillion! Up from $10.63 trillion when Obama took office on January 21, 2009. The Obama administration is 70% of the way to doubling the U.S. national debt – and still has two years to run!

But here’s the fishy part. Officially, the U.S. budget deficit for FY2014 was only $483 billion. If that’s true, our debt should have gone up a lot less. It should be just over $17.5 trillion.

There are two basic ways to measure the deficit.

  1. The official number: What the government budget states as revenue minus spending.
  2. The reality check: What the government had to borrow, to actually pay its bills.

Let’s take a look at the second one. I don’t have the exact numbers for the U.S. national debt for FY2014’s beginning vs. ending. But it should be obvious that, with the debt increasing by about $1 trillion from late October 2013 to end of November 2014, the real FY2014 deficit (covering twelve months from start of October 2013 to end of September 2014) had to be something larger than $483 billion. Otherwise, the FY2015 deficit would have to be $500 billion in just the last two months alone; and it isn’t.

So if an Obama supporter tries to say “The Dear Leader has reduced the deficit to $483 billion!”, you say: Then why did the national debt rise by roughly a trillion, over that same period? BALONEY.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has found yet another way of lying to us. I’m becoming convinced that all of the ‘headline’ statistics put out by this administration are manipulated to the point where they’re a fraud, at least partly.

This is who plans our economy

Some might disagree with my view that the U.S. is a centrally-planned economy (and thus, non-capitalist; more of a social-fascist economy). But it is. A central planning board carefully rigs the three most important features of a large economy: its interest rates, its money supply, and the practices of its financial markets and banks.

Of course, that doesn’t mean our economy always co-operates with our brave central planners. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that our planners even have a clue. This chart (via ZH) shows some of their cluelessness:

It tells a story like this:

  • In 2009, they thought publicly forecast that they’d have interest rates back to normal by 2011.
  • In 2010, they publicly forecast that they’d be rigging up some normal rates by 2012.
  • And so on, with each new year. Today, they forecast having normal rates by 2016-17.

These are some of the very people (*cough* Janet Yellen) who had no clue that the 2008 Global Financial Crisis was coming.

As to the economy: If it were recovering (for real) all these years, interest rates would indeed have been back to normal by 2010-11. But our economy hasn’t been recovering much, all these years. Just the markets. (Oh, wait.)

What to make of these items?

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 11:54 am - October 10, 2014.
Filed under: Debt Crisis,Media Bias,National Security

I come across items from time to time, of which I don’t know what to make. Conspiracy theorists make something of them. Not tending to be one, I file them in the back of my mind and await more information.

The latest is, a prominent German journalist discussing how intelligence agencies manage the media, whether by perks, bribes, help in writing stories (which are thus ‘planted’ stories), or harassment and retaliation on journalists who don’t co-operate. The implication is that our biased media is managed, not only by the political Left, but by the U.S. and other governments.

Another is this year’s spate of deaths among mid-level bankers (previously mentioned here). Most of them are officially suicides, but it’s an odd cluster; the more so as the last few years have been great for the financial sector. Whether these deaths are murders (to cover up something) or genuine suicides by the despondent, either way they would suggest a banking system much worse off than is generally believed.

Finally, there’s this chart:

The first implication is that, while the Taliban’s rule of Afghanistan in 2001 was repressive, at least they shut down heroin production. The darker-minded might also suggest that wealthy narcotics interests (and by extension, banking interests?) were particularly offended by the Taliban and eager to see them go. Which, if true, could make Afghanistan at least partly (apart from the al Qaeda/9-11 aspect) a modern-day Opium War.

P.S. If you want to help make sense of any of these in the comments, be my guest!

Alan Greenspan on gold…in 2014

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 4:31 pm - September 30, 2014.
Filed under: Debt Crisis,Economy

It’s well-known that the former Federal Reserve chair, Alan Greenspan (KBE, Knight Commander of the British Empire), was a gold-standard advocate in the 1960s. And thereafter muffled his principles, as he rose to become the unofficial king of the world’s banking establishment.

In Greenspan’s multi-decade tenure at the Fed (and, going against his former sound-money principles), he gave us the “bubble economy” we know and love. Including the dot-com bubble of the late 90s and the housing bubble of the mid-Naughties. His intellectual heirs, Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen, have given us the market bubbles of today.

So his short, new article in Foreign Affairs caught my eye. It promises to explain “Why Beijing is Buying [Gold].” Of course it doesn’t explain any such thing. Its point wanders. Why Greenspan even wrote it is a mystery.

And yet, he did write it. In other words, Alan Greenspan, KBE, felt the need to publicly raise the topic of China buying gold, in Foreign Affairs magazine. And check out his side remarks:

If China were to convert a relatively modest part of its $4 trillion foreign exchange reserves into gold, the country’s currency could take on unexpected strength in today’s international financial system…For the rest of the world, gold prices would certainly rise…

For more than two millennia, gold has had virtually unquestioned acceptance as payment…Today, the acceptance of fiat money — currency not backed by an asset of intrinsic value — rests on the credit guarantee of sovereign nations…a guarantee that in crisis conditions has not always matched the universal acceptability of gold.

If the dollar or any other fiat currency were universally acceptable at all times, central banks would see no need to hold any gold. The fact that they do indicates that such currencies are not a universal substitute…

In essence, the world’s former top banker has just publicly hinted that:

  • Gold is money.
  • China will start buying it.
  • China will become the world’s new financial powerhouse.

You’re not spending enough!

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 9:11 pm - September 29, 2014.
Filed under: Debt Crisis,Depression 2.0,Economy,Liberal Lies

In saner times of yore, people who spent their entire income were put down as spendthrifts, and people who didn’t were praised as savers.

It was well understood that savers financed the world’s productive capital and so helped to create the Industrial Revolution. The IR used capital to boost the productivity of labor, so that human beings could enjoy good stuff like higher living standards, longer lives, middle-class education and retirement, an end to infant mortality and child labor, etc.

In today’s crazy times, language is turned on its head (to keep the craziness going as long as possible). Savers are now called hoarders, people who hoard money.

Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis published an analysis of our moribund economy, called What Does Money Velocity Tell Us about Low Inflation in the U.S.? The key sentences:

…the unprecedented monetary base increase driven by the Fed’s large money injections through its large-scale asset purchase programs [ed: Quantitative Easing, or “QE”] has failed to cause at least a one-for-one proportional increase in nominal GDP… [ed: though it has certainly boosted the financial markets for “the one percent”]

During the first and second quarters of 2014, the velocity of the monetary base2 was at 4.4, its slowest pace on record. This means that every dollar in the monetary base was spent only 4.4 times in the economy during the past year, down from 17.2 just prior to the recession…the sharp decline in velocity…has offset the sharp increase in money supply, leading to the almost no change in nominal GDP…

The answer lies in the private sector’s dramatic increase in their willingness to hoard money instead of spend it. Such an unprecedented increase…has slowed down the velocity of money…

(Emphasis added.) Get it? If only people would spend all their money, again and again – rather than hoarding it because they need it for bills, or worry about the future – THEN the economy would grow. THEN the Dear Obama-Yellen’s plans would work.

In reality, the economy is restrained by excessive debt and even more, by lack of freedom. As government gets bigger and consumes (or takes over) more of the economy, the private sector shrinks. As government plans, regulates and intervenes more heavily, the private sector gets sicker, lazier and more fearful. Just as Big Government creates more problems than it ever solves, the opposite – Freedom – ultimately solves more problems than it creates.

But that’s not what Establishment economists, politicians, bureaucrats and media want people to know. They’d rather blame, in this example, people who “hoard”. Look for the scapegoating of so-called hoarders to become a drumbeat, as the economy continues to languish into the 2016 election.

If we hit a new financial crisis, they’ll also be sure to scapegoat mysterious “speculators”, as President Nixon did in the 1971 crisis. But they’ll never put the blame where it belongs: on 8+ decades of money-printing and Big Government.

CBO Says $10 Trillion in Additional Debt in the Next Ten Years

Posted by V the K at 8:56 am - April 17, 2014.
Filed under: Debt Crisis

The CBO has published a new report indicating that, assuming fairly optimistic projections for economic growth and tax receipts, the National Debt will increase from $17 Trillion to $27 Trillion in the next ten years.

If you ask the President and his party how they intend to deal with the country’s impending fiscal catastrophe, they have a simple answer for you: “War on Women! Racist Republicans! Koch Brothers!”

If you ask the “opposition” party how they intend to deal with fiscal oblivion, they have an answer, too:  “We’re very concerned about the debt and deficit. Now, let’s talk about immigration reform.” (Gotta get Jeb Bush’s gardener out of the shadows.)

And this is why we’re boned.

Update: It’s funny because it’s true:FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States>

A recently declassified CIA report confirmed that all known al-Qaeda-affiliated organizations—from Pakistan to Yemen, and from Somalia to Algeria—have been instructed to kick back and enjoy the show as the United States’ federal government, energy grid, and industrial sector are rendered impotent by internal dissent, decay, and mismanagement.

 

The Ukraine crisis – and the dollar’s decline

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 11:18 am - April 14, 2014.
Filed under: Debt Crisis,Economy,National Security,Obama Incompetence

We know the Ukraine crisis is hot, with Ukraine and Russia accusing each other of terrorism and east Ukraine basically expecting a Russian invasion. But what interests me is the larger backdrop: the erosion of the U.S. dollar as the world “reserve currency” (or centerpiece of global finance and trade).

You see, the more President Obama tries to isolate Putin, the more he pushes Russia and its trading partners – such as China, India, Germany, Iran – to speed their efforts to integrate their economies and financial systems, to the exclusion of the U.S.

Consider the following news items. None are earth-shattering, but each reveals a bit of the picture.

So, Russia annexing territory (the Crimea) is not really a big deal to Washington; it triggers token U.S. sanctions. But Russia trading with its own neighbor (Iran), in a way that bypasses the dollar-based financial system and thus the U.S. ability to eject little countries from world trade – that gets Washington’s attention. That tells you where the sore spot is.

To continue:

Do you see where this is going? Not toward Russia being isolated. Maybe, in time, toward the U.S. being isolated.

UPDATE: Ordinary Russians are only annoyed, not frightened, by U.S. sanctions.

The dollar’s removal proceeds apace

Like aging, the overthrow of the U.S. dollar (as the key world currency) is a gradual process. In the last month, I’ve blogged on Russia as a U.S. financial opponent, growing ties among the BRICS nations, and growing Germany-China ties, all tending toward the decline (or eventual elimination) of the dollar from those countries’ relationships with each other.

Today it’s growing Russia-Iran ties (that remove the U.S. dollar from their partnership):

(Reuters) – Iran and Russia have made progress towards an oil-for-goods deal sources said would be worth up to $20 billion, which would enable Tehran to boost vital energy exports in defiance of Western sanctions, people familiar with the negotiations told Reuters.

In January Reuters reported Moscow and Tehran were discussing a barter deal that would see Moscow buy up to 500,000 barrels a day of Iranian oil in exchange for Russian equipment and goods…

[A] source said the two sides were looking at a barter arrangement that would see Iranian oil being exchanged for industrial goods including metals and food…

The Iranian official said missiles would also be part of the deal, together with Russia providing assistance with building two nuclear plants in Iran…

Missiles? Yikes! But this is what you can expect, with Jimmy Carter President Obama at the helm. He should have assisted Iran’s (aborted) Green Revolution back in 2009-10, when he had the chance.

Hat tip, ZH.

This is who leads us

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 11:21 am - April 1, 2014.
Filed under: Debt Crisis,Depression 2.0,Economy

Janet Yellen, who is President Obama’s new chair of the Federal Reserve Bank (Politburo that plans our economy), and who is thus the most powerful woman in the world, gave a speech yesterday where she bemoaned the fact that inflation isn’t high enough (in her view).

To humanize her speech, she told about three people who are long-term unemployed. If only there were enough inflation for these poor people to find jobs. It’s Yellen’s noble job to manipulate the economy until they can. But guess what? Two of the three have criminal records. Might that have anything to do with their unemployment?

One was Dorine Poole, who lost her job processing medical insurance claims when the recession hit.

“When employers started hiring again, two years of unemployment became a disqualification,” Yellen said in her speech yesterday to a community development conference in Chicago. “Even those needing her skills and employment preferred less-qualified workers without a long spell of unemployment.”

Poole was convicted of felony theft 20 years ago after she fell in with a “bad circle,” she said in a telephone interview…

Jermaine Brownlee, a skilled construction worker and apprentice plumber, “saw his wages drop sharply as he scrambled for odd jobs and temporary work,” Yellen said.

Brownlee said in a telephone interview that he was convicted of possession of heroin last year and currently is on parole.

OK, so was Yellen just caught by surprise? Did her speechwriter goof? Nope:

Yellen met personally with both people and knew about their records before the speech.

So basically, the most important person in our economy is determined to create inflation until she sees even the least employable people of all – namely, convicted criminals – in demand as employees. “Fasten your seatbelts; it’s going to be a bumpy night.”

CAVEAT: Lest the excitable accuse me of being a doomsday theorist (gasp!), I shall duly warn that in no way am I predicting instant hyperinflation as of tomorrow morning. In fact, for now, Yellen has officially adopted a less-inflationary stance as she “tapers” the Fed’s recent inflation-creating efforts. I have said “for now” and “officially”, because I think it’s Kabuki theater. As the Taper progresses over the next several months, it will cause markets to drop – whereupon Yellen will revert to full inflation-creating mode (gladly, under political cover). The point here, about her speech, is that it tips her hand.