Donald & the Dollar
Donald and the “Maestro”
The dramatic fall in the global price of oil is being cited by the financial press, government officials, and academia as the catalyst for the recent abysmal U.S. economic data which shows that the economy is, in all likelihood, sliding into a recession or worse.
While falling oil prices sound like a plausible explanation for the abysmal financial numbers, anyone with a modicum of economic sense (which excludes much of the financial Establishment) can see that it is merely a smokescreen to obfuscate the real culprit.
The fall in oil prices, while detrimental to many oil producers, should actually be a boon for the rest of the economy, especially those industries that are heavily reliant on energy. Lower fuel prices mean lower production costs leading to, ceteris paribus, greater output.
For consumers, lower oil prices mean lower utility bills and cheaper gasoline, both of which mean more disposable income for either savings or more consumption. Why would greater disposable income lead to a recession?
Naturally, lower prices are not good for oil producers. But a decline in one sector of the economy (albeit an important one), does not lead to a general collapse. While the energy sector may be contracting, industries that use fuel should be able to expand as their production costs fall.
The Federal Reserve’s Quantitive Easing (QE), Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP), Operation Twist (OT), and their variations have created a massive bubble in asset prices which is now beginning to burst. All of these polices have been undertaken to save the banking system from collapse after the crisis of 2008. Since the start of the Great Recession, none of the problems that have led to it have been addressed.
Not only has the stock market been artificially inflated by the Federal Reserve, but it has come at a devastating cost in the decimation of savers, as the return on their money has dropped to next to nothing. This, of course, has had debilitating consequences on retirees and seniors.
The Obama Administration, with little opposition from Republicans, has increased the federal deficit to nearly $20 trillion from the $4 trillion it had inherited with little or no hope of any reduction. Its wasteful stimulus program of a few years ago has done nothing to improve conditions while its collectivist health care initiative has placed crushing burdens across the economic spectrum.
What is even scarier is that Obummer is apparently clueless about current economic conditions, as he mindlessly demonstrated in his (thankfully) last State of the Union Address: “Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction. What is true – and the reason that a lot of Americans feel anxious – is that the economy has been changing in profound ways, changes that started long before the Great Recession hit and hasn’t let up.”
Obama is correct in one sense: there is a “profound change” that is happening in the economy, however, it is a change for the worse which he and his harmful policies have created.
Not surprisingly, in their rebuttal to the speech, the Republicans offered little in substance. Instead, they chose a spokesperson whose only claim to fame was her infamous decision as governess of South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag from state buildings. Needless to say, the choice of Nikki Haley met with disgust among the party’s base. The GOP is not called the “stupid party” for nothing!
Unfortunately, for the vast majority of Americans, there is little likelihood that the present Administration or the next, be it of a different party, will turn things around. Instead, there will probably be more of the same.
Until there is a change in ideology where the corrupt notions of money and credit creation via the printing press and the running of gargantuan deficits are debunked, American living standards will never improve.
The day after Thanksgiving in recent times has become known as “Black Friday,” a day where retail businesses who have been in the red recoup losses while profitable firms widen their income margins. The day is also a supposed boon for consumers where goods are significantly discounted and new products are first displayed.
The Establishment has long since been a promoter of Black Friday, encouraging Americans, with often patriotic rhetoric, of their duty to frequent shopping malls and the like despite economic conditions or safety concerns from either domestic unrest or international threats.
While not explicit about post-Thanksgiving Day shopping, President Obama made it a point to reassure Americans about their security in light of the recent Paris attacks: “It’s understandable that people worry something similar could happen here. As we go into Thanksgiving weekend, I want the American people to know that we are taking every possible step to keep our homeland safe.”*
The financial press and academia are also big proponents of Black Friday since they are under the mistaken Keynesian belief that consumer spending is the most important component of economic life and the key indicator in the measuring of growth. Thus, retail sales over this period and up until Christmas are closely monitored by financial commentators.
Like most things in the modern world, however, such thinking belies logic and common sense, but typifies why society is in its current deplorable state both economically and culturally.
Despite what clueless politicians may say or what the dominant media may espouse, economic growth does not come about through greater amounts of consumer spending. Instead, prosperity can only be achieved through production and exchange, which itself can only take place when savings have been accumulated. Since production takes place over time, savings are the necessary means for this process to take place, the end result of which is consumer goods.
Without production, there can be no consumer spending. An economy, as for the individual, must first “produce” in order to “consume.” Most economists and politicians have it backwards.
Yet, the Obama Administration has wantonly put up impediments for the creation of wealth with its crazed regulatory policies, profligate spending, confiscatory taxation, and its epic money printing, all of which has done nothing to improve conditions, but have made them considerably worse.
Instead of encouraging people to go out and spend money, which many do not have, the chief executive should be promoting and enacting polices that lead to greater savings and investment. One simple step would be to immediately replace Janet Yellen with a Federal Reserve chairman that would allow interest rates to rise to market levels, which would induce people to save.
Besides financial betterment, the act of saving reinforces commendable human traits, such as self reliance and discipline, characteristics that are sorely lacking in America and most Western nation states. A true progressive society is not “consumer oriented,” but one which rewards producers and savers.
Black Friday is the start of the “holiday shopping season,” which has replaced the legitimate meaning of this time, which is Advent. If the world had its priorities in order, it would be preparing to commemorate the birth of the Divine Savior. Advent is a penitential season, one of sacrifice and self abnegation, not that of gluttonous and often drunken partying and needless purchases of the latest consumer good fad.
None in the dominant media have put forth the possibility that the recent Paris attacks were retribution for the nearly complete secularization of what was once a holy season. Was it just a coincidence that one of the attacks took place at a concert hall where the California based rock band, Eagles of Death Metal, was in the midst of performing a “song” whose title was “Kiss the Devil?”
While most of the modern world continues to ignore it, the Incarnation is the seminal event in human history. Only misery, hardship and despair awaits those who persist in denying this fundamental truth.
Until America, and, for that matter, the Western world recognizes the absurd notion that consumer spending is not a pathway to economic wellbeing and, more importantly, remembers the significance and importance of Christmas, the economic and cultural rot will only continue.
*Pamela Engel, “Two Days After Massive Terror Alert, Obama Says There’s No ‘Credible’ Threat to U.S.” Business Insider. 25 November 2015.
The Deteriorating U.S. Economy
Despite doubling the national debt and the expansion of the money supply to some $8 trillion since the beginning of Obummer’s misbegotten presidency, the U.S. economy is once again in a free fall. Actually, there has been no real recovery, but a continual deterioration of living standards despite the lies and distortions from the financial media and government authorities.
Conditions, however, are now descending at an even faster pace.
Recently, the leading manufacturer of heavy equipment, Caterpillar, announced that job cuts would exceed 10,000 through 2018. Up to 5,000 employees will receive pink slips between now and the end of 2016. Retail sales for the manufacturing giant have slumped 11% between June and August.*
While Caterpillar’s contraction is an ominous sign, a more telling indicator of worsening economic conditions came from the Federal Reserve’s refusal to raise interest rates at its latest FOMC meeting. Many commentators had speculated that the Fed would raise rates at least a quarter of one percent on the belief that the economy was strengthening.
The Fed, of course, based its refusal to raise rates on “international concerns” – China’s stock market selloff. The real reason is that the nation’s central bank understands, although it will not publicly admit it, that the economy is far too weak to “absorb” a rate hike, no matter how infinitesimal.
More importantly, the Fed cannot raise rates to any significant degree because the entire financial system, which is built on “cheap money,” would immediately plunge into a significant downturn similar to that of 2008, or worse. The federal government and many of the states and municipalities would default since they could not continue to finance their current profligate borrowing and spending patterns with higher interest rates.
Thus, the Fed is trapped in a world of zero interest rates for the foreseeable future. As economic conditions continue to worsen, the central bank will more than likely turn to another round of money printing like its infamous “QE” program.
While the Fed is locked into a zero interest rate policy, the Obama Administration and Congress remain oblivious to economic reality. A few years back, Obama and the one time Democratically-controlled Congress tried a “stimulus” program which did nothing, but increase the national debt. Also weighing down the economy is the disastrous Obamacare program which will only become more burdensome as time passes.
Just as troubling, none of the current crop of presidential hopefuls, with one possible exception, has proposed or suggested any credible measure that will improve matters. None of the fundamental problems that are crippling the economy have been seriously addressed.
The reason why there has been no recovery is that the malinvestments and bubbles created during the last boom have not been allowed to contract and or burst. Instead, the Fed pumped massive amounts of “liquidity” (money printing) into the markets which kept these institutions (mostly banks) and their assets afloat.
A credit implosion will not come about “voluntarily.” The Fed will not increase interest rates nor will the Obama Administration or Congress have the courage to cut spending to relieve pressure on the Fed to finance its unsustainable deficits and continue to inflate the stock market.
Instead, there eventually will be a monetary crisis surrounding the dollar which will force interest rates to rise which will lead to widespread defaults and bankruptcies and an ensuing depression which will dwarf every previous economic downturn in American history.
Alternative financial analysts have, for some time, pointed to the declining living standards not only in the U.S., but throughout the Western world. Egon von Greyerz of Matterhorn Asset Management has predicted some very unpleasant times in the not too distant future: “The coming years will not be easy. I wrote an article a few years ago called ‘The Dark Ages Are Here’ and I now really think they are imminent. These will be difficult times for most of us.” **
Ultimately, the only way the U.S. economy will be turned around is through a change in ideology. The ideas and policies upon which not only the U.S., but the Western world’s economies are predicated upon must be debunked. Until the principles and beliefs of the current economic system are intellectually discredited, the U.S. economy will continue to stagnate and eventually collapse.
* Matt Egan, “Caterpillar to Cut More Than 10,000 Jobs.” CNN Money. http://money.cnn.com/2015/09/24/investing/caterpillar-job-cuts-china-oil/index.html 24 September 2015.
** Egon von Greyerz. “A Stock Market Collapse and Surge in Gold is Imminent. What will be the Trigger?” Gold Switzerland. https://goldswitzerland.com/a-stock-market-collapse-and-surge-in-gold-is-imminent/ 10 October 2015.
Mario Draghi and THE Issue of Our Times
Europe’s Counterfeiter-in-Chief, Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank (ECB), has again demonstrated why the Western world will never get out of its depressed condition until the likes of Draghi are deposed and the institution in which he heads is abolished.
Draghi actually believes that there has been improvement – “the ongoing recovery” – across Europe’s economic landscape. Such a statement, which flies in the face of reality, is couched with a “warning” that could derail Draghi’s fantasy scenario of the Continent’s economic condition.
Draghi, and, for that matter, every other central bankster believes that “low inflation” will stunt economic progress. In a recent speech given in Amsterdam, Draghi said: “a rise in the exchange rate [of the Euro], all else being equal, implies a tightening of monetary conditions, a downward impact on inflation and potentially a threat to the ongoing recovery.”
Like all good sophists, Draghi obfuscates terms in order to bamboozle his audience (something that is quite easy to do in this era of widespread economic ignorance). To him, “inflation” is meant as a rise in prices instead of its traditional and more correct meaning as an increase in the supply of money. The perversion of the meaning of inflation has been a favorite tactic of counterfeiters like Draghi who then can intentionally distort cause and effect.
Inflation – an increase in the money supply – is the cause of rising prices. Overall price increases are not inflationary, but the consequence of money printing, which Mario Draghi, Janey Yellen, Ben Bernanke and all central bankers wholeheartedly engage in.
What Mario the Moneyprinter actually wants to say is that if inflation (rising prices) is too low, it could stall the recovery and it will then be up to the ECB and other monetary authorities to generate more inflation which they will vigorously undertake. This, he contends, will continue the recovery and lead to economic growth.
Such a statement is pure idiocy and shows that one of the most important monetary officials in the entire world is basically an ignoramus!
What Draghi will not openly admit is that they will achieve their purpose – increase in prices – by expanding the amount of currency they have under their monopolistic control. This, of course, will mean a fall in the purchasing power of the Euro and eventually will lead to all sorts of economic chaos.
Contrary to Mario the Moneyprinter’s imbecilic statements, rising prices are the antithesis of a robust economy. A vibrant economy is one of generally falling prices and costs, as the production of goods and services increase and the purchasing power of money increases at the same time. Falling prices are synonymous with high standards of living; money printing, rising prices and unemployment are signs of stagnation and eventual collapse.
For Draghi and the other politically-connected financial elites rising prices are good because they enhance, at least nominally, the value of equities and banking assets. While the balance sheet of banksters and those of Wall Street have shown record profits, everyone else suffers from higher consumer good prices, most importantly food and energy.
The ongoing and deepening economic crisis has been the direct result of the crazed monetary policies of central banksters such as Mario Draghi. Not only have they created the problem in the first place, but their supposed remedies have solved nothing but have led to unprecedented indebtedness, economic regression and social turmoil. It is well past the point where Draghi and his cohorts can be simply ignored, they must be removed and the offices and institutions they hold liquidated so that the massive wealth transference and the ruination of so many lives over the past few years will be repeated never again.
May 5, 2014
Minimum Wage Chicanery
In one of the most callous and insensitive acts as chief executive, President Obama has called on Congress to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to only $10.10 per hour! If he were truly compassionate, the president would seek an increase to at least $20 per hour instead of the paltry sum of ten bucks. Come to think of it, if he really wants to help the poor and unskilled, the minimum wage should be raised to $50 per hour!
Such reasoning, of course, is idiotic which is why economic ignoramuses like Obummer advocate such nonsense as when he recently said: “You’ve got a choice. You can give America the shaft, or you can give it a raise.” More illogicality followed, during, not surprisingly, a campaign stop with a fellow Michigan democrat: “It [a minimum wage hike] would lift millions of people out of poverty right away. It would help millions more work their way out of poverty right away.”
Minimum wage legislation, like rent control and all other forms of government price fixing, has had the opposite effect of what it is supposed to do. Minimum wage laws lead to the destruction of jobs while making business less competitive and consumer friendly as sound economic theory and numerous empirical studies have demonstrated.
If Obummer, or those who are supporting such hikes, had any sense, they would understand that increasing the price of any good, in this case wages, above the “market level,” will ultimately lead to a surplus – an increase in the unemployed. What if the government did raise the minimum wage to $50 per hour? Then, nearly everyone would be unemployed!
Yet, this is the predictable outcome of minimum wage laws. Those whose skill sets are below the mandated rate will not be employed as businesses will simply eliminate positions and jobs. A notable example of this is gas station service. At one time, nearly all gas station pumps were “full service” where an attendant not only filled up the tank, but offered to clean windows, check oil and fluid levels and tire pressure. As the minimum wage increased, jobs like these fell by the wayside and consumers had to pump their own gas and tend to their own maintenance. Naturally, automation played a part in the elimination of some of these jobs, but without minimum wage laws, many more gas stations would be offering “full service.”
While service stations are hampered in providing customers with better service, the loss of employment is worse. Having a job (especially for the young) is more than just monetary reward, for employment provides invaluable work experience, instills discipline and responsibility all of which makes the employee more marketable. Yet, when such jobs are eliminated by governmental decree, not only is there financial loss, but these other “benefits” disappear.
Of course, any rational thinking person (which leaves out all politicians) understands that wages and the level of employment cannot be “raised” through the edict of the state. Wages and employment rates are determined by the amount of savings and capital accumulation that is available. Why wages and the standard of living in the Western world were so high for so long was due to the massive accumulation of capital and savings that took place primarily because of the low levels of taxation, monetary debasement, and regulation. Capital accumulation provided better tools and equipment which allowed workers to be more productive while the vast savings allowed businessmen to pay higher wages when competing for workers in the marketplace.
Tragically, this magnificent trend is coming to a very bleak end with little hope of a turnabout.
If Obummer and his fellow sociopaths would truly like to see real wages rise while lowering the level of unemployment, they would do all in their power to foster the growth of savings and the expansion of the capital base. This would mean a reduction in the criminally excessive tax burden, the elimination of burdensome regulations, and the cessation of monetary debasement through the Federal Reserve’s crazed “QE” policy which artificially lowers interest rates which, thus, discourages saving. Unfortunately, none of these policies will be forthcoming under the current despotic regime or any other one that will likely follow.
A further detrimental aspect of minimum wage legislation which is often overlooked is that their enforcement leads to bigger government. Those who are prevented from working at a mutually agreed upon wage will typically take part in some part of the welfare state, be it unemployment compensation, job training, food stamps, etc. The big winner in such a scenario are the politicians who get to rule over a larger dependent class and the bureaucrats who administer the welfare programs. The obvious losers in this vicious cycle are the taxpayers.
All in all, minimum wage laws are a detriment to society. This, of course, does not prevent politicians from calling for such measures which makes them appear compassionate and caring to their constituents. At one time, there was a segment of the financial press and academia that understood basic economic principles and would expose such nefarious thinking, this, however, is no longer the case. Until such ideas are ridiculed and those who advocate them identified as charlatans, the plight of wage earners will continue to plummet.
First published 4-9-’14
Meet the New Boss… Same as the Old Boss
Yellen: “I am a sensible central banker.”
As expected, the new Federal Reserve Chairwoman, Janet Yellen, is continuing the same destructive polices of her infamous predecessor, the counterfeiter-in-chief, Benjamin Bernanke. While Bernanke and now Yellen’s polices have, so far, been devastating for the vast majority of Americans (especially savers), their actions have been a boon for the banking, governmental, and financial establishments not only in America, but around the globe.
Like “Helicopter Ben,” Yellen has been masterful in obfuscating, distorting, and lying about the actual reality of the U.S. economy. Of course, this is why she was, in part, chosen as Fed chair to provide “intellectual cover” and “spin” of the facts in order that the real manipulators of the economy – the mega banks and financial houses – continue to receive a goodly amount of the Fed’s monthly “stimulus” program.
In Congressional “testimony,” Yellen considers “inflation” to have been kept in check, “Inflation is running well below our 2% target. . . . ” Yet, as everyone knows prices for nearly every commodity have gone up significantly since the beginning of the crisis in 2007. And, Ms. Yellen failed to mention, nor did any of the gullible politicians who questioned her know, that the Fed’s “measurement” of prices no longer includes energy or food prices! Gasoline prices have nearly doubled since Obummer has taken office while food prices have soared over the same period.
Ms. Yellen surpassed her doozie on inflation with her statement on unemployment or, more accurately, the lack of meaningful employment throughout the economy. While she acknowledges that the economy has not achieved “maximum employment” (whatever that means), she amazingly added: “there has been substantial job creation.” One wonders what piece of data Ms. Yellen is using to substantiate such a ridiculous claim. Maybe she should ask some recent college graduates about “job creation” where most have either moved back home with their parents or are working at jobs which do not require overpriced “higher education.”
Perhaps, no group has been more negatively affected by the Fed’s monetary policy than retirees. Yet, to Yellen, and Bernanke before her, the lack of interest on saving for those who have to rely on it for their independence and survival is not thought of as dire by our financial masters, but as if one’s favorite sports team lost a championship game. “A low-interest-rate environment is a tough one for retirees” was the response when the subject was posed to the Madam chairwoman. She compounded her lack of concern with a nonsensical explanation for the abnormally low rates: “There’s an excess of saving relative to the demand for those savings for investment purposes.”
If Yellen were honest, she would explain that the Fed’s “zero interest rate policy” is deliberate so that the Federal government can borrow money at virtually no cost in order to sustain its massive deficit spending and to provide “liquidity” to the insolvent banking system in order that it does not collapse. Period.
What Americans have to realize is that the primary purpose of the Fed from its surreptitious founding until the present day has been to protect the “solvency” of the banking system. Unemployment, the “price level,” trade imbalances, or the overall health of the economy are secondary concerns for the Fed. While Yellen and her predecessors may fret about the level of employment or inflationary “targets,” it is simply theatre to placate the clueless in Congress and among the financial press where not a few reside.
Until the Federal Reserve is liquidated and replaced with a monetary order of sound money – gold/silver – the chance of any real sustainable economic growth is nil. Sadly, the likelihood of a return to a system of sound money will not take place until there is a general economic collapse or a severe financial crisis. The ruling power structure will not relinquish a primary source of their dominance.
While there will, in all likelihood, be a financial collapse, it is not a given that there will be a return to sound money in the aftermath of such an event. The power elite will more than likely impose severer financial controls. Sound money and its corollary – economic growth – will only come about when there is an “intellectual turnabout” where central banking is discredited and shown as an engine for the betterment of the financial and political elite at the expense and misery of everyone else. Until that glorious day when the scourge of central banking is eradicated, Americans and all those living under its suzerainty will continue to face economic and social decay.
First published 3-16-’14