Category Archives: Central Banking

Memo to The Donald: Cut Tariffs NOT Rates

trump tariff

So far, President Trump’s economic response to a potential coronavirus outbreak and a further stock market sell off has been expected – calls for more interest rate cuts and an additional round of monetary stimulus.  For the stock market, economy, and the virus itself, neither measure will have their desired effect and, in fact, may exacerbate things.

Further rate cuts and more money printing will not alleviate the situation since it has been the Federal Reserve’s recent “repo operations” which has pushed the market to its unsustainable highs.  For President Trump’s re-election hopes, the current “correction” better be short lived since he has repeatedly boasted about the stock market and has tied its success with the supposed health of the economy.  He will pay a political price if the market continues to tank and brings the economy down with it.

While President Trump and economic nationalists have bashed China for its trade practices, they are now going to see first hand how dependent the US and the West are on Chinese exports, as supply chains are disrupted over the coronavirus.

A Bloomberg article describes China’s weakest factory activity ever recorded:

The manufacturing purchasing managers’ index plunged to 35.7 in

February form 50 the previous month, according to data received by the

National bureau Statistics on Saturday, much lower than the median

estimate of economists.  Both were well below 50, which denotes

contraction.*

The expected reduction of Chinese goods will mean higher US domestic prices, however, the increase in prices can be offset somewhat not by rate cuts, but by tariff reductions, or, better still, elimination of duties on imports.  Increasing the money supply or cutting interest rates, which is what Trump, the market, and 95% of economists favor, will only mean higher prices for dwindling imports as greater amounts of money will chase fewer goods.

In the President’s comments on the coronavirus and the stock market plunge, he has repeatedly cited other nations’ (Japan, Germany) – lower interest rates as a policy that the Fed should pursue.  Apparently, the President is not aware that recent data out of Japan has shown that the economy shrank at an annualized rate of 6.3% for the fourth quarter of 2019 while the German economy only grew at 0.6% last year.**  Low rates have not helped either economy or anywhere else where they have been foolishly tried.

What President Trump, world policy makers, and central bankers do not understand, whether deliberately or from willful ignorance, is that the artificial suppression of interest rates and money printing does not lead to economic growth. Instead, prosperity can only come about by the arduous process of saving (abstention from consumption), which provides the means for capital formation, which leads to production.  Employment, wage growth, and income are also ultimately tied to savings.  For the creation of wealth, there is no way around this elementary economic principle – one that few profession economists comprehend.

For saving and investment to have their most efficacious impact and for individuals to engage in such sacrificial behavior, a sound monetary order must be in place.  Unfortunately, ever since the US went off the gold standard internationally in 1971, its monetary system has grown increasingly unstable.

If the Trump Administration would eliminate, or at least reduce significantly, tariffs, it would more than likely induce China to do the same.  The benefits of lower import prices for the millions of out of work Chinese due to the coronavirus shut downs would be a tremendous help and would also boost America’s export industries.  Such action would show to those who elected him that Donald Trump was not a typical politician, but one who thought outside the box.

While it did not cause the Great Depression, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930 contributed to its severity.  If the recent sell-off is indeed the beginning of the long anticipated bust, following a supposed decade long expansion, then policy makers should do all in their power to alleviate the coming suffering.  The reduction of tariffs not only on Chinese goods, but those the world over would be a step in the right direction.

Let us hope that someone will convince Donald Trump that tariff reduction and not rate cuts will help Americans better deal with the troublesome and potentially economic and socially devastating coronavirus.

*China Posts Weakest Factory Activity on Record,” Bloomberg News, 29 February 2020.  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-29/china-feb-manufacturing-pmi-at-35-7-est-45-0

**Megumi Fujikawa, “Japan’s Economy Shrinks Faster Than Expected.”  Market Watch.  16 February 2020.  https://www.marketwatch.com/story/japans-economy-shrinks-faster-than-expected-2020-02-16;  “German Economy Stagnates as Eurozone Growth Hits Seven-Year-Low,”  The Guardian,  14 February 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/business/live/2020/feb/14/german-economy-stagnates-growth-eurozone-gdp-business-live

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.com

The Constitution IS the Crisis

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A Review of Murray N. Rothbard’s Conceived in Liberty, Vol. 5The posthumous release of Murray Rothbard’s fifth volume of his early American history series, Conceived in Liberty, is a cause of celebration not only for those interested in the country’s constitutional period, but also for the present day as the nation is faced with acute social, economic, and political crises.  The fifth volume, The New Republic: 1784-1791, stands with Boston T. Party’s 1997 release, Hologram of Liberty, as a grand rebuttal of the cherished notion held by most contemporary scholars, pundits on the Right, and, surprisingly, many libertarians who believe that the US Constitution is some great bulwark in defense of individual liberty and a promoter of economic success.

ConceivedInLiberty4in1 Volumes 1-4

Rothbard’s narrative highlights the crucial years after the American Revolution focusing on the events and personalities that led to the calling for, drafting, and eventual promulgation of the Constitution in 1789.  Not only does he describe the key factors that led to the creation of the American nation-state, but he gives an insightful account of the machinations which took place in Philadelphia and a trenchant analysis of the document itself which has become, in the eyes of most conservatives, on a par with Holy Writ.

What Might Have Been

While Rothbard writes in a lively and engaging manner, the eventual outcome and triumph of the nationalist forces leaves the reader with a certain sadness.  Despite the fears expressed by the Antifederalists that the new government was too powerful and would lead to tyranny, through coercion, threats, lies, bribery, and arm twisting by the politically astute Federalists, the Constitution came into being.  Yet, what if it had been the other way around and the forces against it had prevailed?

It is safe to assume that America would have been a far more prosperous and less war-like place.  The common held notion that the Constitution was needed to keep peace among the contending states is countered by Rothbard, who points out a number of instances where states settled their differences, most notably Maryland and Virginia as they came to an agreement on the navigation of the Chesapeake Bay.  [129-30]

Without a powerful central state to extract resources and manpower, overseas intervention by the country would have been difficult to undertake.  Thus, the US’s disastrous participation in the two world wars would have been avoided.  Furthermore, it would have been extremely unlikely for a Confederation Congress to impose an income tax as the federal government successfully did through a constitutional amendment in 1913.

Nor would the horrific misnamed “Civil War” ever take place with its immense loss of life and the destruction of the once flourishing Southern civilization.  The triumph of the Federal government ended forever “states rights” in the US and, no doubt, inspired centralizing tendencies throughout the world, most notably in Germany which became unified under Prussian domination.

In a failed attempt in 1786 to enact an impost tax under the Confederation, Abraham Yates, a New York lawyer and prominent Antifederalist, spoke of decentralization as the key to liberty as Rothbard aptly summarizes:

Yates also warned that true republicanism can only be preserved in small states, and

keenly pointed out that in the successful Republics of Switzerland and the

Netherlands the local provinces retained full control over their finances.  A taxing

power in Congress would demolish state sovereignty and reduce the states, where

the people could keep watch on their representatives, to mere adjuncts of

congressional power, and liberty would be gone.  [64]

Antifederalists, such as Yates, had a far greater understanding of how liberty and individual rights would be protected than their statist opponents such as Alexander Hamilton and James Madison.  The Antifederalists looked to Europe as a model, which, for most of its history, was made up of decentralized political configurations.  The Federalists, on the other hand, got much of their inspiration from the Roman Republic and later Empire.  There is little question that an America, with the political attributes of a multi-state Europe, would be far less menacing to both its own inhabitants and to the rest of the world than what it has become under the current Federal Leviathan if the Constitution never passed.

Speculation aside, historical reality meant that America would be fundamentally different than it would have been had the Articles of Confederation survived, as Rothbard points out:

The enactment of the Constitution in 1788 drastically changed the course of

American history from its natural decentralized and libertarian direction to an

omnipresent leviathan that fulfilled all of the Antifederalists’ fears.  [312]

Limited Government Myth

One of the great myths surrounding the American Constitution – which continues within conservative circles to this very day – is that the document limits government power.  After reading Rothbard, such a notion can only be considered a fairy tale!

The supposed “defects” of the Articles of Confederation were adroitly used by the wily nationalists as a cover to hide their real motives.  Simply put – the Articles had to be scrapped and a new national government, far more powerful than what had existed under the Articles, had to be created as Rothbard asserts: “The nationalists who went into the convention agreed on certain broad objectives, crucial for a new government, all designed to remodel the United States into a country with the British political structure.”  [145]

In passing the Constitution, the nationalist forces gained almost all they had set out to accomplish – a powerful central state and with it a strong chief executive office, and the destruction of the states as sovereign entities.  The supposed “checks and balances,” so much beloved by Constitution enthusiasts, has proven worthless in checking the central state’s largesse.  Checks and balances exist within the central government and is not offset by any prevailing power, be it the states or citizenry.

There was no reform of the system as it stood, but a new state was erected on the decentralized foundation of the Confederation.  Why the idea of the founding fathers as some limited government proponents is a mystery.

The Chief Executive

As it developed, the Presidency has become the most powerful and, thus, the most dangerous office in the world.  While its occupants certainly took advantage of situations and created crises themselves over the years, the Presidency, especially in foreign policy, is largely immune from any real oversight either from the legislature or judiciary.  This was not by happenstance.  From the start, the nationalists envisioned a powerful executive branch, and though the most extreme among the group were eventually thwarted in their desire to recreate a British-style monarchy in America, the final draft of the Constitution granted considerable power to the presidential office.

As they did throughout the Constitutional proceedings, the nationalists cleverly altered the concept of what an executive office in a republic should be, by subtle changes in the wording of the document as Rothbard incisively explains:

[T]he nationalists proceeded to alter . . .  and exult the executive in a highly

important textual change.  Whenever the draft had stated that the president ‘may

recommend’ measures to the Congress, the convention changed ‘may’ to ‘shall,’

which provided a ready conduit to the president for wielding effective law-making

powers, while the legislature was essentially reduced to a ratification agency of laws

proposed by the president.  [190-91]

As if this was not bad enough the office was given the ability to create departments within its own domain.

In another fateful change, the president was given the power to create a

bureaucracy within the executive by filling all offices not otherwise provided for in

the Constitution, in addition to those later created by laws.  [191]

The totalitarian federal agencies that plague the daily lives of Americans were not some later innovation by the Progressive movement or New Dealers, but had been provided for within the document itself.  The efforts of those opposed to the various social welfare schemes of the past, which have been put into effect through the various Cabinet departments, have been in vain since the power was given to the Presidency and has been taken advantage of by nearly all of its occupants.

Rothbard’s analysis of the chief executive office is especially pertinent since the nation is once again in the midst of another seemingly endless presidential election cycle.  The reason that the office has attracted so many of the worst sort (which is being kind) is because of its power.  If elected, the ability to control, regulate, impoverish, and kill not only one’s fellow citizen, but peoples across the globe is an immense attraction for sociopaths!

A Coup d’état and Counter Revolution

Rothbard makes the compelling case that the Constitution was a counter revolution, which was a betrayal of the ideology that brought about the Revolution:

The Americans were struggling not primarily for independence but for political-

economic liberty against the mercantilism of the British Empire.  The struggle was

waged against taxes, prohibitions, and regulations – a whole failure of repression

that the Americans, upheld by an ideology of liberty, had fought and torn

asunder. . . .   [T]he American Revolution was in essence not so much against Britain

as against British Big Government – and specially against an all-powerful central

government and a supreme executive.  [307]

He continues:

[T]he American Revolution was liberal, democratic, and quasi-anarchistic; for

decentralization, free markets, and individual liberty; for natural rights of

life, liberty, and property; against monarchy, mercantilism, and especially

against strong central government.  [307-08]

There was, however, always a “conservative” element within the revolutionary leadership that admired Great Britain and wanted to replicate it in America.  It was only when there was no alternative to British political and economic oppression that they joined with their more liberal-libertarian brethren and decided for independence.

Conservatives did not go away after independence, but would continue to push for an expansion of government under the Articles and finally, after most of their designs were consistently thwarted, did they scheme to impose a powerful central state upon the unsuspecting country.

Yet, they would not have triumphed had a number of key liberal-libertarians of the revolutionary generation moved to the Right during the decade following independence.  Rothbard shows why he is the master in power-elite historical analysis in his discussion of this tragic shift, which would spell the death knell to any future politically decentralized America:

[O]ne of the . . .  reasons for the defeat of the Antifederalists, though they

commanded a majority of the public, was the decimation that had taken place in

radical and liberal leadership during the 1780s.  A whole galaxy of ex-radicals, ex-

decentralists, and ex-libertarians, found in their old age that they could comfortably

live in the new Establishment.  The list of such defections is impressive, including

John Adams, Sam Adams, John Hancock, Benjamin Rush, Thomas Paine, Alexander

McDougall, Isaac Sears, and Christopher Gadsden.  [308-09]

As the country’s elite became more statist and as political (Shays Rebellion) and  economic (a depression) factors played into their hands, conservatives seized the opportunity to erect on America a powerful national government:

It was a bloodless coup d’état against an unresisting Confederation Congress. . . .

The drive was managed by a corps of brilliant members and representatives

of the financial and landed oligarchy.  These wealthy merchants and large

landowners were joined by the urban artisans of the large cities in their

drive to create a strong overriding central government – a supreme government

with its own absolute power to tax, regulate commerce, and raise armies.  [306]

Conclusion

The Mises Institute and the editor of the book, Patrick Neumann, must be given immense credit for bringing this important piece of scholarship into print.  Once read, any notion of the “founding fathers” as disinterested statesmen who sublimated their own interests and that of their constituents to that of their country will be disavowed.  Moreover, The New Republic:1784-1791 is the most important in the series since the grave crises that the nation now faces can be traced to those fateful days in Philadelphia when a powerful central state was created.

Volume Five shows that the problems of America’s past and the ones it now faces are due to the Constitution.  The remedy to the present societal ills is not electing the “right” congressman, or president, but to “devolve” politically into a multitude of states and jurisdictions.  For the future of liberty and economic well-being, this is where efforts should be placed and Murray Rothbard’s final volume of Conceived in Liberty is essential reading if that long, arduous, but much necessary task is to be undertaken.

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.com

posted 02-10-’20

 

 

 

 

 

Pope Francis Calls Marxist Economic Summit

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Pope Francis and his mentor

As if there needs to be further evidence that the current occupant of St. Peter’s Chair in Rome is a Marxist, the announcement of an upcoming conference at Assisi entitled the “Economy of Francesco” should convince any skeptic otherwise.

In his invitation letter to “young economists and entrepreneurs worldwide,” Bergoglio sets the agenda for the Leftist confab quite clearly which is virulently anti-market, a call for massive redistribution of wealth, and a reordering of the current economic systems of the world with a healthy dose of climate change nonesense:

. . . a different kind of economy: one that brings life not death, one that is inclusive and not exclusive, humane and not dehumanizing, one that cares for the environment and does not despoil it.*

While Bergoglio’s Marxist credentials have been firmly established, his blashemous  actions and words has a growing number outside of “sedevacantist circles” calling him a heretic.  The legitimacy of “Pope Francis,” however, is more fundamental than him being a manifest heretic, but his standing as a legitimate pope is invalid since his ordination as a priest and his consecration as a bishop came under the new rites of Holy Orders instituted in the wake of the Second Vatican anti-Council (1962-1965).

The mastermind behind Bergoglio’s summit is professor Luigino Bruni and from his comments he sounds more radical than the Argentine Apostate, if that is possible.  Professor Bruni wants to use taxation as a weapon to “redistribute income and wealth from the rich to the poor.”*

Bruni, a professor of political economy at the Italian University, LUMSA, and the author of a number of books, basis his advocacy for redistribution of wealth on the Scriptures:

[T]he Bible has many words to offer our economic life and ideas [with] the transformation of wealth into well-being.**

It appears that the good professor’s Bible is missing the Seventh Commandment of the Decalogue which solemnly states: THOU SHALL NOT STEAL!  In no legitimate commentary ever written on this Commandment is there an exception made for the confiscation of wealth from the well-to-do to be given to the poor.  Probably just an oversight on the Professor’s part.

Because they are blinded by socialistic ideology, Bruni, Bergoglio, and the likes of Bernie Sanders cannot see that the growing wealth inequality which they complain about is not the result of “capitalism,” but is the outcome of the monetary policy of the world’s central banks.  This, along with tax policies which hamper innovation and shield the entrenched financial class from competition, is why financial elites are able to maintain and increase their power.

Central bank policy of suppressing interest rates and of money printing allow banks and financial institutions to receive “free money” which they can invest and speculate with at zero cost.  The boom (actually a bubble) in asset prices on Wall Street is a demonstration of how wealth disparity takes place.

If Bergoglio really meant to reform the present system, he would call for the abolition of central banking and a return to “hard money.”  Under such an order, banks and financial institutions become wealthy on their ability to make prudent investment decisions subjected to profit and loss.  A free market in banking is the antithesis of the current system of credit expansion and money printing.

Not only have Bergoglio and his cohorts abandoned the Faith, but they have also overturned the Church’s long-held condemnation of socialism and have ignored many of its own outstanding thinkers on financial matters.  From the Scholastics to the School of Salamanca through the Jesuits and the great Cardinal Cajetan, who finally taught the proper doctrine on interest rates, the Church has produced scores of eminent economic thinkers in its long history.

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School of Salamanca

Ever since socialism reared its ugly head as a social system of thought, the Church has warned of its dangers even its more milder forms as Pope Pius XII wrote, “No Catholic could subscribe even to moderate socialism.”  Since Vatican II and especially under Bergoglio’s regime, however, Leftist ideas of all sorts have been warmly embraced.

At the heart of socialism, be it Marxism or its equally pernicious variants, lies envy which became a part of the human condition with the fall of man.  While once condemned, envy has been turned into a virtue by the likes of Bergoglio.

While such ideas may sound appealing to human sensibilities, they will not pass the Divine Judge who knows the thoughts and souls of all His creatures even those of supposed popes.

*Vatican website: http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/letters/2019/documents/papa-francesco_20190501_giovani-imprenditori.html

**Jules Gomes, “Pope Francis Convenes ‘Anti-Capitalism’ Summit,”  Church Militant.com, 15 January 2020.

Antonius Aquinas@antoniusaquinas

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The Ethics of a Gold Standard

goldstandard

The efficacy of a metallic monetary system is beyond dispute at least among real economists which eliminates just about 95% of whom are now engaged in the “profession.”  Money, which gold is, allows for specialization, the division of labor, and provides the means for mankind to escape from barter and, thus, a primitive existence.  Like free trade, money naturally integrates mankind both among and between peoples.

A system of central banking with an unbacked paper currency is the antithesis of a gold standard.  Manipulation of currencies by central banks, mostly through debasement, hinders trade, creates distortions, and ultimately leads to the dreaded business cycle.  Murray Rothbard aptly describes the baneful results of state intervention in the monetary system:

. . . government meddling with money has

not only brought untold tyranny into the world;

it has also brought chaos and not order.  It has

fragmented the peaceful, productive world

market and shattered it into a thousand pieces,

with trade and investment hobbled and hampered

by myriad restrictions, controls, artificial rates,

currency breakdowns, etc.  It has helped bring

about wars by transforming a world of peaceful

intercourse into a jungle of warring currency blocs.*

Rothbard Money

While the economic efficiency of a gold standard is important, the ethical case for it is more compelling and was the reason why gold, as money, lasted as a medium of exchange for so long.  Gold/money has to be created through honest-to-goodness production and exchange.  The often dangerous mining of gold takes labor, capital goods, and land.  Turning raw gold into coinage is another process which requires a high level of specialization and production techniques.  Both are honest and morally sound activities which make for the betterment of life all around.

The ethical standing of central banking and its issuance of unbacked currency as money through the printing press, stroke of a computer key, or via the expansion of credit cannot stand similar scrutiny.  By any appraisal, central banking is immoral.  Through the creation of money, banks stealthy transfer wealth to those who control the money supply and those closely associated with it.

The ability of central banks to create unlimited amounts of money and credit has been the greatest redistribution scheme ever conceived.  The process ultimately leads to class conflict as the wealth disparity between the politically well-connected and those outside that nexus invariably widen.

Under a gold standard, none of this would take place.

Because of their lack and often distain for economic doctrines, in particular, monetary theory, “economic nationalists” (really “economic ignoramuses”) have wrongly focused on trade as a factor in the continued decline of the middle and working classes.  China’s supposed unfair trade practices was a staple of President Trump’s campaign rhetoric and has continued through much of his first term.

The focus on trade has deflected attention from the real cause of worsening economic conditions for American workers and the enrichment of Wall Street.  Despite the blatant transfer of wealth via the Fed’s policies of suppressed interest rates and money printing since the 2008 Recession, economic nationalists continue to applaud President Trump’s tariff policies while the President continues to browbeat the Fed to do more of the same even calling for negative interest rates and more Quantitative Easing.

The Left rightly speaks out of the vast and growing inequality of wealth distribution, but like those who espouse economic nationalism, they fail to understand the reason for why the societal imbalance has occurred.  One remedy they propose – a “wealth tax” – will not address the problem.  Moreover, their “soak-the-rich” schemes would snare in their plunder (not that Leftists particularly care) many of the wealthy outside of the banking and financial sector of their legitimate, just gains.

The case for honest money must be made on ethical grounds.  The current system must be exposed and shown for the scam that it is: a massive redistribution scheme enriching the political elites and their closely aligned business and financial allies. While it is undeniable that a gold standard would lead to enormous prosperity, its reinstatement would remedy one of the great injustices that plague the world – central banking!

*Murray N. Rothbard, What Has Government Done To Our Money?  BN Publishing, 2012: 84.

Antonius Aquinas@antoniusaquinas

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The Gold Standard: Protector of Individual Liberty and Economic Prosperity

goldstandard vs.    the-bill-of-rights

 

 

The idea of a constitution and/or written legislation to secure individual rights so beloved by conservatives and among many libertarians has proven to be a myth. The US Constitution and all those that have been written and ratified in its wake throughout the world have done little to protect individual liberties or keep a check on State largesse.  Instead, in the American case, the Constitution created a powerful central government which eliminated much of the sovereignty and independence that the individual states possessed under the Articles of Confederation.

While the US Constitution contains a “Bill of Rights,” the interpreter of those rights and protections thereof is the very entity which has enumerated them.  It is only natural that decisions on whether, or if such rights have been violated will be in favor of the state.  Moreover, nearly every amendment which has come in the wake of the Bill of Rights, has augmented federal power at the expense of the individual states and that of property owners.

History has shown the steady erosion of individual rights and the creation of “new rights” and entitlements (education, health care, employment, etc.) which have occurred under constitutional rule.  Instead of limitation on government power, constitutions have given cover for the vast expansion of taxation, regulation, debt, and money creation.

While taxation has always been a facet of constitutional governments, it has been the advent of central banking and with it the elimination of the gold standard which has provided the means for the state to become such an omnipresent force in everyday life.  Irredeemable fiat paper money issued by central banks has also led to the entrenchment of political parties which has allowed these elites to create and subsidize dependency groups which, in turn, repeatedly vote to keep the political class in office.

Without the ability to create money and credit, the many bureaucracies, regulations, and laws could neither be created or enforced.  This would mean that the vast and powerful security and surveillance agencies could not exist or would be far less intrusive than they currently are.  With commodity money, debt creation would have to be repaid in gold, not monetized as it is currently done through the issuance of paper currency.

Just as important, it would have been next to impossible for the two world wars to have been fought and carried to their unimaginable destructive ends.  None of the populations involved would have put up with the level of taxation necessary to wage such costly undertakings.  Few of the wars which followed (most of which have been instigated by the US) could have taken place without central banking.  Nor could the level of “defense” spending – currently at a whopping $717 billion for fiscal year 2018 – be financed if the US was on a commodity standard.*

Under a gold standard, governments would have to rely on taxation alone.  Since citizens directly feel the effects of taxation, there is a “natural level” that it can be raised.  Punitive tax rates usually lead to a backlash and potential social insurrection which strike fear in the hearts of political elites.

Recent projections by the Congressional Budget Office again demonstrate that constitutional government provides little restraint on spending.

If present trends continue, the federal government will spend more on its interest serving its debt than it spends on the military, Medicare, or children’s programs.  It is also expected that next year’s interest on the debt will be some $390 billion, up an astonishing 50 percent from 2017.** And, for the entire fiscal year of 2018, the gross national debt surged by $1.271 trillion, to a mind-boggling $21.52 trillion.***

At one time, economists used to speak of the pernicious effects that “crowding out” had on an economy.  Since the onset of the “bubble era,” talk about deficits has almost dropped out of financial discussions.  Yet, the reality remains the same: public spending and borrowing divert scarce resources away from private capital markets to unproductive wasteful government projects and endeavors.

For those who seek a reduction in State power, defense of individual rights, and economic prosperity, the re-establishment of a monetary order based on the precious metals is the most efficacious path to take.  Such a social system would not require elaborate legislation or fancy proclamations of man’s inalienable rights, but simply a return to honest money – gold!

*Amanda Macias, “Trump Gives $717 Billion Defense Bill a Green Light. Here’s What the Pentagon is Poised to Get.”  CNBC.com 14 August 2018. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/13/trump-signs-717-billion-defense-bill.html

**Nelson D. Schwartz, “As Debt Rises, the Government Will Soon Spend More on Interest Than on the Military.”  The New York Times. 25 September 2018 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/25/business/economy/us-government-debt-interest.html

***Tyler Durden, “US Gross National Debt Soars $1.27 Trillion in Fiscal 2018, Hits $21.5 Trillion.” Zero Hedge.  2 October 2018.   https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-10-02/us-gross-national-debt-soars-127-trillion-fiscal-2018-hits-215-trillion

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

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Only Economic Collapse Will Bring Down the American Empire

trump syria

The Bomber-in-Chief announces air attacks on Syria

Despite the vehement pleas and letter-writing campaigns by a significant portion of his political base including notable media personalities such as Tucker Carlson against military action in Syria, President Trump committed what looks like political suicide by ordering air strikes on Friday evening.  The bombing, thankfully, appeared to have been thwarted by Syrian air defenses, nor, as of this date, has the insane American, British and French action led to a wider conflagration.

As of yet, no doubt due to Divine Intervention, WWIII has not erupted and although the ramifications of the attack will reverberate for weeks to come, what is clear is that President Trump is now firmly in the clutches of the neocons, Israel, and the American Deep State, all of who are the direct beneficiaries of the wanton attack on the Assad regime.

A good portion of Trump’s base is rightfully enraged by the action, which will dash any hope of it coming to his aid if future impeachment proceedings are commenced over the Mueller investigation.  Many of Trump’s supporters have been seething ever since he signed off on the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package in March and his continued failure to start construction on a border wall.

Talk about shooting one’s self in the foot!

Whether President Trump survives until 2020 or is replaced in the interim by neocon Mike Pence, American foreign policy will, in all likelihood, continue its bellicose ways.  Ever since WWI, which the current Bomber-in-Chief mentioned in his address announcing the air strikes, America has been an interventionist, destructive, and murderous empire.

The reason for this is that the nation’s ideology had changed where it had once  trumpeted the ideas of non-intervention and peace (except, of course, for the people of the South during their heroic attempt at independence) to those that glorified empire and war, largely based on the British model which, ironically, was the system that America seceded from in 1776.  By the time of WWI (actually the disgraceful Spanish-American War), the ideals of non-intervention, peace, free trade, and hard money had been gradually replaced by those of empire, central banking, war, and debt.

Until there is a change in ideology, it is unlikely that the US will refrain from its interventionist foreign policy.  And, typically, social change comes after men’s minds have been convinced of a different paradigm which, of course, does not happen overnight.

Like the British Empire before it, the only way the US will stop its murderous ways will be from economic collapse or a severe financial panic which threatens or ends the US dollar’s status as the world reserve currency.

Candidate Trump may have been the last hope of an American Firster who had the wherewithal to attain the Presidency.  Although not an ideologue, Trump spoke of getting along with Russia, disengaging from the Middle East, and backing out of, or making NATO members pay for their own “defense.”  These qualities faded once elected and the ominous talk about scuttling the Iranian arms deal and spending more on the military were pushed ahead.

After WWII, Britain had simply exhausted itself with its insane participation in the world wars and could no longer maintain its empire.  Britain’s ideology did not change, but reality stepped in: it simply did not have the capacity (wealth) to fund a world-wide empire. It had squandered its resources and men on the battlefields of Europe.

  Winston Churchill destroyer of the British Empire

The US is headed in the same direction, which is what both Russia and China are counting on.  Its crushing debt burden, costly wars, and out-of-control spending are sapping its productive capacity, which the military industrial complex taps to sustain itself.

The US’ enemies have based their strategies on this.  In reference to the US’ involvement in the Afghanistan quagmire, Osama bin Laden reportedly said:

We, alongside the mujahideen, bled Russia for 10

years, until it went bankrupt and was forced to

withdraw in defeat . . . So we are continuing this

policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy.*

  Osama Bin Laden

The question that remains is when will a collapse occur or at least another crisis like in 2008 take place?  The warning signs abound.  The most pressing is the exploding US deficit which has soared in March to $209 billion. In 2007, the entire deficit for the year was less than $200 billion!

The collapse of the US economy is unavoidable, however, it is not “if” but “when.”  For world peace, it had better be sooner than later.

*Brian Whitaker, “Al-Qaida is Bleeding US to Bankruptcy, Bin Laden Claims.”  The Guardian, 3 November 2004. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/nov/03/usa.alqaida

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.com

 

What President Trump and the West Can Learn from China

Trump Trip China

Instead of a demonstration of its overwhelming military might intended to intimidate tiny North Korea and pressure China to lean on its defiant communist neighbor, President Trump and the West should try to learn a few things from China.

The President’s trip to the Far East came on the heels of the completion of China’s 19th National Congress where the current president, Xi Jinping, has cunningly positioned himself as China’s unchallenged leader.  In an address at the opening of the Congress, Xi cautioned that the country faced “challenges” that are “extremely grim” yet, despite these, the nation’s future is “extremely bright.”*

While Western politicos and pundits bemoan the lack of political pluralism that exists within China and President Trump complained about bad trade “deals,” they miss an important factor as to why China has transformed itself from a socialist basket case some three decades ago into an economic powerhouse which now boasts over a third of the world’s billionaires!

China’s economic ascendancy can be attributed not only to the implementation of market reforms in the 1990s, but also its lack of “political competition.”  As a one-party state, resources, time, energy, and capital are not allowed to be channeled into wasteful political processes, but instead are used and “invested” in wealth-creation activities – construction, factories, plants, equipment, research, technology – all of which leads to more and cheaper consumer goods.

The US and the West spend too much on elections, campaigns, polling, political consultation, etc., which diverts scarce resources away from the private wealth sectors of society.  For example, in her last failed presidential campaign run, the Wicked Witch of Chappaqua alone spent over a half of billion dollars.

Under Western democratic pluralism, public debt and state spending have increased to unsustainable levels.  In the US alone – history’s greatest debtor nation – the national debt is in excess of $20 trillion, while its total debt officially is $68 billion with a federal deficit (GAAP) running yearly at $5 ½ trillion.

Such staggering numbers are the result, in part, from political parties seeking public office and once elected exploiting their position to enrich themselves, their constituents, and create dependent classes among the ever shrinking productive segments of society.

China’s foreign policy – an extension of politics – has also been conducive for wealth creation.  Instead of wasteful spending on military hardware, the maintenance of a far-flung global empire, and involvement in incessant wars, China has a rather meek military compared to its national income and has conducted a pretty much non-interventionist foreign policy – witness its diplomacy with North Korea.

The US is almost the polar opposite.  It spends more on “defense” than the next eight countries combined.** Instead of the production of useful consumer goods, billions are siphoned off into the military/security industrial complex.  Not only does this impoverish Americans at home, but it leads to never ending involvement in wars, conflicts, and disputes, most of which are created or exacerbated by US spy organizations.

Def spending

After meeting with Chinese leadership, President Trump tweeted:

I don’t blame China, I blame the incompetence

of past Admins for allowing China to take advantage

of the U.S. on trade leading up to a point where the

U.S. is losing $100’s of billions.  How can you blame

China for taking advantage of people that had no clue?

I would’ve done the same!

Making better trade deals will not revitalize the moribund US economy.  Instead, there should be less politicization of society and adoption of market reforms as China has done.  The most important plank of such a policy would be the encouragement of real savings – not the creation of bank credit – through the normalization of interest rates.  This would begin the arduous process of capital accumulation, the basis upon which any economy can be built.

Another sign of the divergence between the two is China’s continued push to make the yuan the world’s reserve currency with apparently some sort of gold backing to it.  Contrarily, the Trump Administration has continued the same disastrous policies of its predecessors and has chosen a Janet Yellen clone to head the Federal Reserve with a continuation, no doubt, of the suppression of interest rates.  On the other hand, China continues to import massive quantities of gold and encourages its citizens to own the yellow metal while the West is in the midst of a crypto currency mania, another fraudulent monetary scheme.

China’s economic miracle, while certainly impressive, would not look as astounding if Western economies had not been in a state of stagnation and decline over the past half century.  It was not political liberalization that led to China’s phenomenal growth, but economic freedom which used to be a staple of Western life.  The lesson that should be taken from President Trump’s trip is less politics domestically and more free markets.

*Chris Buckley, “Xi Jinping Opens China’s Party Congress, His Hold Tighter Than Ever.”  The New York Times, 17 October 2017.   https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/17/world/asia/xi-jinping-communist-party-china.html

**Peter G. Peterson Foundation.  “US Defense Spending Compared to Other Countries.”  1 June 2017.  https://www.pgpf.org/chart-archive/0053_defense-comparison

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.com