“Strong Dollar,” “Weak Dollar,” What About A Gold-Backed Dollar?
The recent hullabaloo among President Trump’s top monetary officials about the Administration’s “dollar policy” is just the start of what will likely be the first of many contradictory pronoucements and reversals which will take place in the coming months/years as the world’s reserve currency continues to be compromised. So far, the Greenback has had its worst start since 1987, the year of a major stock market reset.
The brief firestorm was set off by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin who said in response to the dollar’s recent slide, “Obviously, a weaker dollar is good for us, it’s good because it has to do with trade and opportunities.”* Mnuchin backtracked a bit as international financial leaders criticized the apparent shift in policy while Administration officials sought to clarify the Secretary’s remarks. President Trump weighted in on the matter saying, “Ultimately, I want to see a strong dollar” and added that Mnuchin’s comments were “taken out of context.”
While President Trump sought to allay jittery currency markets that monetary policy had not changed, candidate Trump supported the Federal Reserve’s suppression of interest rates and did not want to see a rising dollar:
I must be honest, I’m a low interest rate
person. If we raise rates and if the
dollar starts getting too strong, we’re going
to have some very major problems.**
Of course, the entire uproar about a strong dollar versus weak dollar is a sham. When the dollar (and for that matter all other national currencies) cannot be redeemed for either gold or silver, it is inherently “weak” and ultimately worthless. That this obvious fact is not recognized by the Trump Administration, international monetary authorities, and the financial press demonstrates just how unstable the dollar and world currencies actually are.
If President Trump truly wants to see a strong dollar that will become a linchpin in “making America great again,” he should enact policies that will return the dollar to its original function – a warehouse receipt that can be redeemed for precious metals. Just as important, an authentic strong dollar policy would mean that no dollar can be created that did not have “an equal amount” of gold/silver in bank vaults – in essence a 100% gold dollar. These two acts would guarantee a strong dollar and insure that the dollar would remain the world’s reserve currency. Moreover, a fully redeemable dollar would likely lead to other nations adopting similar measures.
A gold-backed dollar would also head off China’s not too subtle attempt at replacement of the Greenback with the Yuan as the world’s reserve currency. Its “Belt & Road Initiative,” its massive accumulation of gold, and other actions are all aimed at making the Yuan the dominant world currency which, if successful, will have catastrophic financial repercussions for the US and Western Europe.
Gold-backed money will not only have positive international effects, but domestic benefits as well. Crippling price inflation that has been intentionally under reported by government statistics will be a thing of the past. Prices in a gold-backed currency will actually fall, raising living standards for everyone.
Without the ability of the Federal Reserve to create money out of thin air, the massive federal budget deficits would have to be dealt with. And, without the Fed’s purchasing of US debt, the government would be forced to make cuts in spending. Spending cuts would have to be deep and across the board.
Happily, under such a scenario, reduction in spending would mean a pull back in the American Empire. The US would simply not have the resources to maintain bases abroad or involve itself in the countless conflicts and wars it is now engaged in. It is more likely that when the American Empire comes to an end, it will not be because of a military defeat, but because it can no longer be sustained financially.
Sadly, under current ideological conditions, a return to gold money is not on the financial horizon. It will most likely take a collapse of the irredeemable paper monetary system before commodity-backed money is re-established as a general medium of exchange.
It is clear from the recent exchange among Trump Administration financial officers that the same dollar policy will continue, which will lead to an inevitable dollar crisis and certain political disaster for the President.
* “Trump Wades Into the Currency Uproar, Favours ‘Strong Dollar,’ Government & Economy.” Brit Asian News 26 January 2018. http://britasiannews.com/en/2018/01/25/trump-wades-into-currency-uproar-favours-strong-dollar-government-economy/
**”Inflation Alert: Trump Also Favors Low Interest Rates, Weak Dollar.” Weekly Market Wrap. 6 May 2016. https://www.moneymetals.com/podcasts/2016/05/06/trump-supports-weak-dollar-
What President Trump and the West Can Learn from 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.
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
Bitcoin: A Tower of Monetary Babel
The promoters of crypto currencies have gushingly touted them as the mechanism by which the present central banking cabal and the system of nation states which derive much of their power from will be brought down and replaced by digital money. Despite their meteoric rise as speculative “assets,” there are fundamental economic reasons why they will never act as a general medium of exchange despite the wild enthusiasm for them by the crypto-currency cultists.
Money – a general medium of exchange – is the most marketable (exchangeable) commodity in an economy. As a good, money is not sought after for its direct use – to satisfy individual wants – but to satisfy wants indirectly through exchange for other goods. Over time, one good becomes money since it possesses qualities superior to all other goods as a money. When gold became demanded not for its “use value,” but for its “exchange value,” it became a general medium of exchange – money.
As a consumer good, gold possessed a value or a “price” prior to it becoming a money, as the eminent monetary theorist Murray Rothbard explains:
. . . embedded in the demand for money is knowledge
of the money-prices of the immediate past; in contrast
to directly-used consumers’ or producers’ goods, money
must have pre-existing prices on which to ground a demand.
But the only way this can happen is by beginning with a useful
commodity under barter, and then adding demand for a
medium to the previous demand for direct use (e.g., for
ornaments in the case of gold.)*
Thus, Bitcoin’s “price” is not in terms of its original commodity price, but its price is in terms of dollars, Euros, yuan, etc. In the dollar’s case, it was at one time linked to gold, but has since been severed from it while Bitcoin has had no such relationship.
Once money is established, then prices are expressed in terms of it and thus economic calculation can rationally take place and the division of labor and specialization can be expanded. Rothbard continues:
The establishment of money conveys another great
benefit. Since all exchanges are made in money, all the
exchange-ratios are expressed in money, and so people
can now compare the market worth of each good to that
of every other good.**
Once gold became money, the price of goods became expressed in gold not in other elements – nickel, zinc, lead, etc. With the proliferation of crypto currencies, there will be a myriad of different price ratios for each good. There will be a Bitcoin price for a car, an Ethereum price for a car, a Dogecoin price of a car, and so on. This is the antithesis of the purpose of money – one unit of account that reflect prices for all commodities as Rothbard shows:
Because gold is a general medium it is most marketable,
it can be stored to serve as a medium in the future as well
as the present, and all prices are expressed in its terms.
Because gold is a commodity medium for all exchanges,
it can serve as a unit of account for present, and expected
future, prices. It is important to realize that money cannot
be an abstract unit of account or claim, except insofar as it
serves as a medium of exchange.*** [my emphasis]
Crypto currencies, therefore, directly violate one of the main principles of monetary theory. The vast array of digital money, all with unique price ratios (to say the least of their volatility), would make economic calculation and rational planning next to impossible. In this sense, the current world of fiat dollars would be preferable to a Tower of Monetary Babel that digital currencies would create.
Central banks and governments do not fear crypto currency challengers to their monetary hegemony. They, of course, jealously monitor the crypto market worried that any gains accrued may not be subject to tax. Central banksters do fear gold for it remains, despite being demonetized, the last check on profligate central bank monetary expansion. And, because countries who wisely understand gold’s importance and seek to get out from under the yoke of King Dollar (most notably China and Russia), continue to voraciously accumulate the yellow metal.
The return of true prosperity will only come about when gold is once again at the center of the monetary order and fiat currencies such as the dollar, Euro, and now Bitcoin are forgettable memories of a misguided and corrupt age.
*Murray N. Rothard, What Has Government Done to Our Money? Novato, CA.: Libertarian Publishers, 8th printing, January 1981.
Bitcoin in an Illusionary Age
It is altogether fitting that crypto currencies, in particular Bitcoin, have witnessed a meteoric rise in this illusionary age. Not only has their monetary value gone to dizzying heights, but they are now being touted as the destroyer of the current, crumbling monetary order and the next paradigm upon which a new money and banking system will emerge.
In an era where sacrifice, hard work, loyalty, ingenuity, tradition, and independent thought are considered anathemas, while affirmative action, sloth, effeminacy, office seeking, and something-for-nothing schemes are endemic in every walk of life, it is not surprising that non-tangible, computer-generated currencies would become a “natural” feature of such a world.
While it has always been a haven for charlatans, traitors, cheats, thieves, liars, and serial adulterers, contemporary political life has become even more of a sham. The most glaring example of politics’ utter corruption can be seen in the recent departed chief executive officer of the US. Unless one abandons all critical thinking, Obummer was unqualified to be president because of the obvious fact that he was not born on American soil. Not only did this disqualify him, but his educational and professional backgrounds have not been verified. Neither his collegiate records nor his supposed teaching career at the University of Chicago Law School have ever been exposed to public scrutiny. From the few utterances he has made about his supposed specialty – constitutional law – it appears that he has only a rudimentary knowledge of the subject.
Cultural life has descended to the basest of levels and has abandoned nearly all of Western Civilization’s glorious achievements. Consider music. The dominant form of what passes as music today is not the works of the great maestros of the past – Bach, Mozart, Beethoven – but instead, noise in the form of rock, hip hop, rap, grunge, or whatever the latest degenerate trend is in vogue.
Modern democracy is also a fallacy. Being sold to the masses as a system where the people rule and personal liberties are guaranteed, democratic governance is anything but, and has instead been craftily used by the elites to amass state power to an unprecedented extent not witnessed in human history. The much maligned monarchial age even during its “absolutist phase” could not come close to the scope and intrusiveness that democratic governments possess today.
Religion, too, is not immune from its share of hypocrisy. Not only is the supposed head of the Catholic Church a manifest heretic who almost daily blasphemies the Divine Majesty, but he is not qualified to occupy the august chair in which he sits. Jorge Bergoglio was neither ordained as a priest nor consecrated as a bishop in the traditional, Apostolic rite of Holy Orders. He is, therefore, an imposter not a priest, nor the bishop of Rome, and scandalously not a true pope.
Now enter crypto currencies. Not only will they never become money – a general medium of exchange – as gold and silver once were and will become once again, but cryptos lack the necessary requirements to be money. Yet, their “development” is systematic of the times. Cryptos are another variant of fiat currencies which digitally can be created by a stroke of a computer key or in cryptos’ case, a code.
Gold and silver – real money – must be mined from the ground, minted and “marketed” before they can be used to facilitate exchange. This is an arduous, capital-intensive process which takes resources, labor, and time to accomplish. Something as important as money should require an elaborate procedure not be created out of thin air as are all fiat currencies as well as cryptos.
Money must originate as a tangible, sought-after commodity – the great Misesian insight that crypto enthusiasts do not know or do not understand – then, over time, be recognized as having a “second feature” as a good sought after for “exchange value.” Once a good is demanded for its use primarily to facilitate exchange, it then becomes a “money.”
In a fundamental sense, crypto currency cultists are rebelling against the natural order of things. The precious metals were created in their quantity and quality by Divine Wisdom for a purpose – to act as money. While governments have habitually corrupted the monetary order through coin clipping, fractional-reserve banking, and other nefarious schemes, it does not undo this primordial fact. It is for the intellectually honest opponents of monetary chicanery to point this out and decry all governments and banksters’ attempts to eradicate gold and silver as money, not attempt to create another unnatural and false monetary order that mirrors the current fiat system.
Money, like all other institutions of society, will reflect its belief system. Decaying cultures will most likely have debased monetary units. A turnabout in the status of money will only happen when Western Civilization returns to what money is – gold and silver – and abstains from trying to create illusions of it through computer software schemes.
The Student Loan Bubble and Economic Collapse
The inevitable collapse of the student loan “market” and with it the takedown of many higher educational institutions will be one of the happiest and much needed events to look forward to in the coming months/years. Whether the student loan bubble bursts on its own or implodes due to a general economic collapse, does not matter as long as higher education is dealt a death blow and can no longer be a conduit of socialist and egalitarian nonsense for the inculcation of young minds.
The perilous condition of the student loan sector can be seen by looking at a few ominous pieces of data:
- The US has around $1.3 trillion in non dischargeable loans to students
- Over 120 billion in student loans are already in default
- 27% of students are a month behind on their payments*
As economic conditions deteriorate and there are even less meaningful jobs for college graduates than there are now, these numbers will only get worse.
Not only have colleges and universities been havens of leftist thought for many years, but they have become ridiculously expensive and beyond the reach of most middle-class income earners to afford without going into significant debt. Moreover, the incessant barrage by the Establishment about the necessity of a college degree has distorted the labor market to where worthless, debt-ridden degrees are pursued instead of much needed blue-collar employment. The readjustment of the labor market to a proper balance will not only take time, but it will be a costly, painful process.
While the “hard” sciences have not been as effected by the Left, the social sciences have long been an intellectual wasteland devoid of any freedom of thought or opinion. Promotion and recognition of academic excellence is, more often than not, based on diversity and one’s skin color not merit. Arguably, economic science has been the most corrupted discipline. Economics departments of major universities are now training grounds for employment in state and federal bureaucracies, the banking industry, and Federal Reserve where Marxism, Keynesianism, neo-Keynesianism or whatever kooky, nonsensical theory of the day can be put into practice.
While higher education has long been hostile to the ideals of Western Civilization, it is now explicitly a bastion of anti-white discrimination and hostility especially against white heterosexual men. Few days now pass where there is not an incident, many of which are approved by school authorities, blatantly attacking white Americans or symbols that supposedly represent them.
Of course, the higher education apparatchiks have had an easy time in their brainwashing task since the impressionable minds in their charge have been indoctrinated by twelve years of public “schooling.” Not only has the public school been a mechanism of social engineering, but it has constantly pushed its chattel to continue their “education” at the collegiate level.
The Trump Administration and most on the Right have failed to grasp the liberalistic bias of American education. Education Department Secretary Betsy DeVos has spoken about “competition” via school choice, vouchers, magnet and charter schools to increase school and student performance. The Administration’s proposed 2018 education budget calls for an increase in federal spending on school choice by $1.4 billion, a $168 million increase for charter schools, and a $1 billion increase for Title I “to encourage school districts to adopt a system of student-based budgeting and open enrollment that enables Federal, State, and local funding to follow a student to the public school of his or her choice.”**
These shopworn ideas and policies are not only fundamentally flawed and will make matters worse, but they will do nothing to counteract and or end the Left’s domination of education. Instead, President Trump should do what he spoke of at times on the campaign trail and what President Reagan promised to do, but never did – abolish the Department of Education!
While the collapse of the student loan bubble may be the catalyst for a general financial downturn and will certainly be the cause of tremendous social pain and dislocation, it will, nevertheless, be a necessary prerequisite if America and, for that matter, the Western world is to ever break the grip of leftist ideology which rules it. May the bursting of the student loan bubble commence!
*Tyler Durden, ‘”Staggering’ Student Loan Defaults On Deck: 27% Of Students Are A Month Behind On Their Payments.” Zero Hedge. 15 April 2017. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-04-15/staggering-student-loan-defaults-deck-27-students-are-month-behind-their-payments
**Jade Scipioni, “Why Betsy DeVos Is Visiting This Ohio School Today.” Fox Business. 20 April 2017. http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2017/04/20/why-betsy-devos-is-visiting-this-ohio-school-today.html
The Ultimate Financial Regulatory Reform: Abolish Fractional Reserve Banking!
The Trump Administration has presented the first part of its plan to overhaul a number of Wall Street financial regulations, many of which were enacted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The report is in response to Executive Order 13772 in which the US Treasury Department is to provide findings “examining the United States’ financial regulatory system and detailing executive actions and regulatory changes that can be immediately undertaken to provide much-needed relief.”*
In release of the first phase of the report, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin stated: “Properly structuring regulation of the U.S. financial system is critical to achieve the administration’s goal of sustained economic growth and to create opportunities for all Americans to benefit from a stronger economy. We are focused on encouraging a market environment where consumers have more choices, access to capital and safe loan products – while ensuring taxpayer-funded bailouts are truly a thing of the past.”**
Some of its highlights include:
- Community financial institutions – banks and credit unions – are critically important to serve many Americans
- Capital, liquidity and leverage rules can be simplified to increase the flow of credit
- We must ensure our banks are globally competitive
- Improving market liquidity is critical for the U.S. economy
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau must be reformed
- Regulations need to be better tailored, more efficient and effective
- Congress should review the organization and mandates of the independent banking regulators to improve accountability***
Not surprisingly, most of the banking industry expressed support for the report, critics (mostly Democrats) pointed out that it would lead to the type of practices that produced the 2008 panic in the first place. Both opponents and those in favor as well as the clueless financial press fail to grasp the underlying cause of not only the recent crisis, but the majority of those which have occurred for the past century.
Quite simply: the fundamental cause of the 2008 financial crisis was fractional-reserve banking (FRB). FRB is the practice whereby banks keep a “fraction” of the funds deposited by customers in their vaults lending out the rest at interest and “profit.” Banks are thus inherently unstable since if all depositors came at once and demanded their money (a “bank run”), banks could not be able to redeem their deposits. Moreover, FRB encourages banks to engage in exceedingly speculative and risky behavior which creates unsustainable bubbles throughout the economy.
The nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve, was created by the banksters and politicos to enshrine this immoral and economically ruinous practice into the heart of the American financial landscape. Any “reform” of Wall Street’s financial practices that does not address FRB by doing away with it and the institution (the Fed) which enables it to exist, is doomed.
The banks in collusion with the Fed are able to expand the money supply through this process while enriching the banksters’ balance sheet. On the macro level, the creation of money through FRB is the genesis of the destructive boom-bust cycle.
This is why banks and the entire financial system are so prone to reoccurring crisis and no regulation, reform, or Treasury Department “findings,” can make such a system “stable.” The only true reform is to abolish FRB and establish a monetary order that requires all financial institutions to keep 100% reserves of depositors’ assets.
The Treasury Department’s recommendations are mere window dressing by the very banksters whose opulent livelihoods are predicated on FRB.
The elimination of FRB would go beyond a beneficial financial revolution, but would affect the foreign policy of the USSA. Without the ability to create money via FRB, the murderous American Empire could simply not exist, nor would the nation’s draconian domestic security state.
With his selection of crony capitalists and members of Goldman Sachs to his economic team, it is apparent that President Trump does not understand the true nature of the nation’s financial woes or what precipitated the last financial crisis and what will assuredly lead to a far bigger mess down the road. If he did, his next Executive Order would be to implement steps and procedures to eliminate the scourge of fractional reserve banking forever.
*U.S. Department of the Treasury, “A Financial System That Creates Economic Opportunities.” 6 June 2017. https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/sm0106.aspx
Donald Trump is an Economic Ignoramus!
Not surprisingly, Donald Trump has followed in the infamous footsteps of his presidential predecessors in the transition from candidate to chief executive. Invariably, every candidate for the presidency makes a whole host of promises, the vast majority of which are horrible and typically only exacerbate the problems they attempt to resolve. Among the proposals, however, there is an occasional bright spot. Yet, once elected the stupid polices are eagerly pursued while the good ones are quickly discarded.
What was somewhat unique about Donald Trump was that he was the first candidate in a long while who had a number of refreshing and much needed proposals – border wall, “drain the swamp,” criticism of Ma Yellen and the Fed, rapprochement with Vladimir Putin and Russia, a deescalation of U.S. imperialism overseas. There were bad ones, too, but the good ones were enough to lead him to a smashing win over the Wicked Witch of Chappaqua.
Even before being sworn in, however, the president-elect began to downplay his most positive positions and emphasize the worst. At the top of this list, and what Trump has been consistently wrong about since the inception of his political career, and even prior to it, has been “trade.”
Trump considers himself an “economic nationalist” in the mold of Patrick Buchanan. Both, however, are simply wrong in this regard demonstrating that they do not have a grasp of the most basic of economic principles.
The latest Trump tirade on trade was reported during his recent trip to Europe and a meeting with high-ranking officials. Trump is reported to have lashed out at German auto makers who the President accused of being “very bad” because of the “millions of cars that they sell in the U.S.” The Donald bemoaned, “Terrible, we’re going to stop that” and added “I don’t have a problem [with] Germany, I have a problem with German trade.”*
Such talk makes Trump sound like a fool. What is “bad” about providing American consumers with first-class automobiles that they apparently want in large quantities and are voluntarily willing to pay for? And what of American workers employed with Mercedes Benz, BMW, and Volkswagen? What is so horrible about the jobs and income that is provided by German firms to these workers?
Instead of berating German car manufactures, Trump should direct his ire at the immigration policies of psychopathic politicians like Frau Merkel. Candidate Trump was very vocal about this and criticized European leaders for allowing their countries to be turned into multicultural cesspools.
The benefits of free trade and the baneful consequences of protectionism have long ago been elucidated by right-thinking economists, while the historical record has shown that lands which engage in “free trade” are decidedly richer than those that do not. That Trump could spout off such nonsense about the evils of German trade shows how far the level of economic understanding has fallen.
Not only does free trade allow for the extension of the division of labor and specialization, but it has very important non-economic fruits. When trade is unregulated, there is less of a tendency of trading partners to engage in bellicose actions toward each other. Free trade and peaceful coexistence among nations are synonymous. It is when trade is prohibited, skewed by governments to “protect” favored industries, which creates tensions among peoples.
Free trade does not require measures such as NAFTA or negotiated deals by politicians. Instead, producers of one region are free to sell their goods at whatever prices or quantities to consumers of other areas that agree to buy them. Ultimately, trade is up to individual producers and consumers in what they contractually agree to exchange, there is no need for political involvement.
Trump’s lambasting of the German auto makers, however, underscores a more fundamental problem with the U.S. economy. America no longer produces goods that the world’s consumers desire, but instead, produces military hardware that it sells to despotic regimes which enables them to remain in power and wreck havoc on their enemies. Predictably, this escalates tensions abroad while, domestically, the standard of living of Americans fall as scarce resources that could have been used in the production of useful consumer goods are diverted to the creation of murderous military armaments.
Trump has repeatedly boasted about his and his appointees’ abilities to negotiate great trade “deals.” His bashing of the German auto makers right after his multi-billion dollar arms sales to the Saudis show not only that he is clueless in regard to the immense benefits of free trade, but that he is just another adherent, like his predecessors, to the ideals of crony capitalism.
*Tyler Durden, “Trump Slams ‘Very Bad’ Germans for Selling Millions of Cars in US: ‘We Will Stop This.'” Zero Hedge 26 May 2017. http://www.zerohedge.com/print/596683
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