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Peter Schiff: “The Real National Emergency Isn’t At The Border. It’s The National Debt!”

Peter Schiff: “The Real National Emergency Isn’t At The Border. It’s The National Debt!”

Peter Schiff, the CEO and chief global strategist of Euro Pacific Capital Inc. says that the real national emergency is not at the southern border.  The real ticking time bomb is the national debt.

We are headed for a train wreck in this country because of the national debt and yet nobody seems concerned about it.  In fact, many Americans have taken to emulating the federal government by getting themselves buried in massive amounts of debt as well, compounding the issue. According to Seeking Alpha‘s report by Schiff Gold, we should all we wary of the government’s overspending and desire to tax more to make up for it. Just because we haven’t suffered a crisis – YET- based on this debt doesn’t mean that one isn’t coming.

On Friday, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency so he could build a wall at the southern border. Based on that declaration, the president will reallocate $6.5 billion from other government programs to fund a border wall. But the problem isn’t that we don’t have a wall, says Schiff.  The problem is we’ve already built a wall of debt.

“Of course, the real national emergency is not the lack of a wall, the failure to build a wall, but building up the national debt.” –Peter Schiff via Seeking Alpha

The United States debt surpassed the $22 trillion mark just last week and continues to rocket upward with no end in sight and this is just the very tip of the iceberg.

This is just a funded portion of the debt. This is where the US government sells a bond and somebody owns that bond.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Who Knows the Right Interest Rate

WHO KNOWS THE RIGHT INTEREST RATE

On January 6, we wrote the Surest Way to Overthrow Capitalism. We said:

“In a future article, we will expand on why these two statements are true principles: (1) there is no way a central planner could set the right rate, even if he knew and (2) only a free market can know the right rate.”

Today’s article is part one of that promised article.

Let’s consider how to know the right rate, first. It should not be controversial to say that if the government sets a price cap, say on a loaf of bread, that this harms bakers. So the bakers will seek every possible way out of it. First, they may try shrinking the loaf. But, gotcha! The government regulator anticipated that, and there is a heap of rules dictating the minimum size of a loaf, weight, length, width, depth, density, etc. Next, the bakery industry changes the name. They don’t sell loaves of bread any more, they call them bread cakes. And so on.

There is always a little arms race going on, wherever there are government controls. One recent example is Uber. This company actually illustrates two different workarounds. One, is labor law. Labor law sets not only a minimum price for labor, but also adds many other restrictions that make companies less flexible, and therefore less able to deliver what customers want. So Uber drivers are not employees. Oh no, they are independent contractors.

Two, is taxi regulation. Uber is not a taxi. It is a ride-sharing service. Under regulation, definitions determine the difference between life and death. So everyone is forced to play a game of hair-splitting.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

But We Need the Eggs

But We Need the Eggs

ALVY SINGER: This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, “Doc, my brother’s crazy; he thinks he’s a chicken.” And the doctor says, “Well, why don’t you turn him in?” The guy says, “I would, but I need the eggs.” Well, I guess that’s pretty much how I feel about relationships; y’know, they’re totally irrational, and crazy, and absurd … but, I guess we keep going through it because most of us … need the eggs. Annie Hall (1977)

I realize that we must un-person Woody Allen today, but Annie Hall is a great movie regardless. That’s Duane Hall in the picture above, Annie’s brother, as he drives Alvy and Annie to the airport after confessing to Alvy that his secret fantasy is to slam the car into the oncoming headlights. No one does crazy better than Christopher Walken.

We’re all passengers in the backseat of the State-driven car, and we all suspect that our drivers might be high-functioning lunatics, and we’re all terrified about what they might do next.

But we need the eggs.

We need a stock market that only goes up. 

We need to consume more healthcare. We need to consume more education. We need to consume more travel. We need to consume more Netflix on more devices. We need to consume more social media. We need to consume more “experiences”.

And we need the credit to do all of that NOW.

I was thinking about that Annie Hall scene a lot in the past week, what with the Green New Deal ™ and the Modern Monetary Theory ™ proposals in the news, replacing the Tax Cuts ™ and Supply-Side Economic Theory ™ of just last year.

If there’s one oldie-but-goodie ET note I’d want everyone to read, it’s Magical Thinking, published in September 2016.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blain: European Banks Are The Most Successful Ponzi Scheme Of All Time

Blain: European Banks Are The Most Successful Ponzi Scheme Of All Time

“Lenin was right. There is subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency.”

I must post this line from one of my favourite Financial sector commentaries – Duncan Farr of Jeffries who covers banks: “Here we are 5 weeks ahead of Brexit, and the top 2 performing banks in Europe are Lloyds followed by RBoS.” If you ever wanted a clearer hint the supposed Brexit crisis and imminent collapse of UK plc might just be a fictitious political construct, then there you are.  Its fascinating just how sanguine the markets have become about the divorce. Sterling is up and who cares?

I have often been told I worry about all the wrong things. According to BAML, (reported on BBerg), the biggest fear of European investors currently is a Worldwide Economic Slump, with 30% of respondents citing it as their primary worry. Yep. I can see why that would be an issue. Only 2% of European investors surveyed by BAML rank Brexit as their primary fear. It’s not even in the top 5! (For the record, my primary fear is a Global Liquidity Storm – the sudden and catastrophic drying up of liquidity following a shock..)

Politics and markets are intertwined, but… maybe no longer in the case of Brexit? It’s just become background noise – meaning it; doesn’t matter, or we’re overly complacent. UK politics has never looked so dire. Markets appear increasingly disinterested. A new UK political party, and unstated threats a whole slew of ministers are set to resign if we get/don’t get a Brexit deal. Rumours are a deal is already inked with Brussels. Rumours are the Tory Brexiteers will reject it – whatever it says. It Theresa May is capable of getting together a deal in parliament – then this would probably be a good time..

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Demise of Physical Money: A Retail Worker’s Perspective

The Demise of Physical Money: A Retail Worker’s Perspective

Something I have come to realise about money is that the more you come into direct contact with it, the less alluring it becomes. That may sound like a hollow platitude, but when your history of paid work has predominately involved handling thousands of pounds through face to face transactions and back office duties, the worthlessness of fiat currency burrows into your psyche.

That is not a fatuous comment. I recognise that the entity I proclaim to be worthless is the same entity that allows me to eat and to sleep with a roof over my head. Nevertheless, it is not as simple as surmising that it is the intrinsic value of money that grants the ability to exchange funds for goods. Money has no intrinsic value as I came to discover.

This time two years ago I secured a job working in the cash office of a UK supermarket. It was an opportunity that came about just as I had begun to question the true nature and value of money.

My perception of cash changed on coming across a postcard pack published by the Bank of England called, ‘Your Money: What the Bank Does‘. The pack is no longer available through the bank’s revamped website, but fortunately I downloaded a copy before it was taken down.

Contained within the pack is a section titled, ‘Banknotes and the Promise to Pay‘. Here, the bank offers up a compelling question:

What gives modern banknotes their face value, when they cost only a few pence to make?

The answer may or may not surprise you:

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

EXXONMOBIL U.S. OIL & GAS FINANCIAL TRAIN-WRECK: Producing Shale Is Destroying Its Bottom Line

EXXONMOBIL U.S. OIL & GAS FINANCIAL TRAIN-WRECK: Producing Shale Is Destroying Its Bottom Line

The United States largest oil company, ExxonMobil, is facing a financial train-wreck in its domestic oil and gas sector.  And, the majority of the blame can be attributed to Exxon’s move into shale.  After Exxon acquired XTO Energy in 2009, a U.S. shale oil and gas producer, it has seriously begun to ramp up shale oil production in the Permian.

ExxonMobil plans on expanding Permian shale oil production to 600,000 barrels a day (bd) by 2025, up from the 115,000 bd as of October (thanks to the data from Shaleprofile.com).  If you look at the chart below, Exxon’s Permian shale oil production shot up from less than 50,000 bd at the beginning of 2018, to over 115,000 bd in October:

Exxon is now the largest player in the Permian, according to the article, Exxon Becomes Top Permian Driller to Combat Falling Oil Output:

Exxon Mobil Corp. has overtaken rivals to become the most active driller in the Permian Basin, showing the urgency with which the world’s biggest oil company by market value is pursuing U.S. shale.

Exxon’s escalation in the Permian is essentially a bet that it can drill wells so cheaply that they’ll be profitable despite crude’s tumble since early October. The company says its shale wells can make double-digit returns with oil at just $35 a barrel.

Exxon moved into the Permian to stem a decade of falling domestic U.S. oil production.  However, its statement that it will enjoy double-digit gains at a $35 oil price in the Permian may be more “delusional thinking” rather than company pragmatic optimism.  I spent some time looking over Exxon’s financial statements, and I have to say I was quite shocked by their utterly dismal 2018 U.S. oil and gas financials.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blain: It Feels Like A Liquidity Storm Is Coming Soon

Blain: It Feels Like A Liquidity Storm Is Coming Soon

I note with some delight Bernie Sanders plans to stand for US President. One of my US chums sent me the story of the Half-a-Bernie sign propped up against a wall. Someone had cut it neatly in two and left the wooden handle affixed to the remaining half. Attached was a note: “Dear Bernie; you had a sign and I didn’t, so I took half. I’m sure you understand.” 

I did feel something of a market judder yesterday – just a moment where it felt like all the negativity was on the verge of swamping markets. Whether is the cumulative effect of US rate path expectations (Fed today), China Trade Wars, Trump vs Europe, (ECB tomorrow), Brexit, and all the rest.. or the UK mid-term holidays, the whole market feels thin and rudderless.

At least Wal-Mart surprised to the upside! One of my top stock technical commentators is my old buddy Steve Previs of Mint who calls it “complacent.” That’s never a good thing. His charts are telling him to look for a “corrective C wave” but for now he’s patient as “FOMO” (Fear of Missing Out) continues to drive the current trend.

I am fortunate enough to work with some very bright folk here at Shard. Yesterday we were shooting the breeze on the current market uncertainties, threats and fears. We came to the conclusion we’ll know the moment we hit the Reefs of Crisis when we hear the crashing wail of market liquidity vanishing. What’s that sound – it’s the Macro Liquidity Storm! Coming to a market near you. Maybe Very Soon!

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Will the Trade War Lead to Real War with China?

Will the Trade War Lead to Real War with China?

Chas Freeman

Five hundred years ago, Hernán Cortés began the European annihilation of the Mayan, Aztec, and other indigenous civilizations in the Western Hemisphere.  Six months later, in August 1519, Magellan [Fernão de Magalhães] launched his circumnavigation of the globe.  For five centuries thereafter, a series of Western powers — Portugal, Spain, Holland, Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and, finally, the United States — overturned preexisting regional orders as they imposed their own on the world.  That era has now come to an end.

In the final phases of the age of Western dominance, we Americans made and enforced the rules.  We were empowered to do so in two phases.  First, around 1880, the United States became the world’s largest economy.  Then, in 1945, having liberated Western Europe from Germany and overthrown Japanese hegemony in East Asia, Americans achieved primacy in both the Atlantic and Pacific.  Almost immediately, the Soviet Union and its then-apparently-faithful Asian companion, Communist China, challenged our new sphere of influence.  In response, we placed our defeated enemies (Germany, Italy, Japan), our wartime allies, and most countries previously occupied by our enemies under American protection.  With our help, these countries — which we called “allies” — soon returned to wealth and power but remained our protectorates.  Now other countries, like China and India, are rising to challenge our global supremacy.

Trump, joined by other U.S. officials, receives Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Oval Office, January 2019 (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour via Flickr )

Trump receives Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Oval Office, January 2019 (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour via Flickr )

President Donald Trump has raised the very pertinent question: Should states with the formidable capabilities longstanding American “allies” now have still be partial wards of the U.S. taxpayer?  In terms of our own security, are they assets or liabilities?  Another way of putting this is to ask: Do our Cold War allies and their neighbors now face credible threats that they cannot handle by themselves? 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Gold Will Become the Next Global Currency of Choice

Gold Will Become the Next Global Currency of Choice

With a wobbly stock market, falling Treasury yields and rampant geopolitical strife, the focus on gold as an asset has been intense as of late. The metal’s price gains reflect this, as gold recently proved able to hold above a key resistance level, which holds bullish implications.

But according to Kitco, Sprott CEO Peter Grosskopf sees gold moving past its role as a mere asset and eventually returning to its status as a true global currency. In an interview, Grosskopf explained that this will be fueled by ballooning global debt, which will ultimately debase all fiat currencies.

As Grosskopf pointed out, recent data shows that the global debt rests above $244 trillion and, as such, is more than three times larger than the global economy itself. Whether governments decide to deal with this through quantitative easing or financial repression, he says gold prices will invariably spike.

The recognition of gold’s role in wealth preservation is on the rise, said Grosskopf, with investors increasingly shying away from fiat currencies and moving into gold. The widespread loss of faith in not just assets, but currencies as well, is already in effect, with Grosskopf’s firm noticing more interest from all corners of the investment spectrum.

“We think the overall trend for gold is positive because it is being accumulated,” said the CEO. “It’s being accumulated by central banks; it’s being accumulated by billionaires, it’s been accumulated by endowments and it’s more accepted as a class of currencies in portfolios.”

This New Catalyst Will Drive Silver Prices Higher in 2019

Money Morning’s Peter Krauth writes silver’s recent pullback below the $16 level was not only expected, but also irrelevant for its long-term picture. Even after the pullback, the metal remains up 12% since November, and Krauth sees more gains coming in the near future.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bill Dudley Slams MMT: “It Failed In Germany, Venezuela And Zimbabwe”

Bill Dudley Slams MMT: “It Failed In Germany, Venezuela And Zimbabwe”

While there has been much disagreement among the financial elite about the ultimate consequences of central bank activism and market manipulation, with some – usually those who do not manage money for a living and are not paid by investors – predicting fire and brimstone, while a separate, far more optimistic group expects the world’s greatest experiment in monetary policy to somehow have a happy ending, when it comes to socialism disguised as monetary policy, besides a certain, politically-influenced fringe, the condemnation against “helicopter money” wrapped in a convenient political wrapper has mostly been uniform.

We are talking, of course, about MMT, which stands for Modern Money Theory, but would make far more sense if it stood stand for Magic Money Tree, as the theory effectively espouses unlimited money printing and skipping central banks as intermediaries in money creation which, however, the theory claims does not result in hyperinflation because, somehow, taxation manages to limit the amount of money in circulation and the result is monetary utopia.

It is therefore hardly a surprise that MMT has emerged as the pet financial theory for such socialist politicians as Bernie Sanders and Alexandra Ocasio-Jones (the biggest proponent of MMT is finance professor Stephanie Kelton who previously worked on Sanders’ presidential campaign and was a “chief economist for the Dems on the Senate Budget Committee”), who get to promise their potential voters pretty much everything while also vowing not to worry about the insane costs that delivering “everything” would entail (AOC’s Green New Deal is said to cost over $6 trillion and according to some, the bill would be north of $20 trillion).

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Credit Exhaustion Is Global

Credit Exhaustion Is Global

Europe is awash in credit exhaustion, and so is China.

The signs are everywhere: credit exhaustion is global, and that means the global growth story is over: revenues and profits are all sliding as lending dries up and defaults pile up.

What is credit exhaustion? Qualified buyers don’t want to borrow more, leaving only the unqualified or speculators seeking to save a marginal bet gone bad with one more loan (which will soon be in default).

Lenders are faced with a lose-lose choice: either stop lending to unqualified borrowers and speculators, and lose the loan-origination fees, or issue the loans and take the immense losses when the punters and gamblers default.

Europe is awash in credit exhaustion, and so is China. China’s situation is unique, as credit expansion has been propping up the entire economy, from household wealth to corporate speculation to the export sector.As this article explains, The China Story That Is Far Bigger Than Apple, China’s trade balance–trade surpluses for decades–is close to slipping into trade deficits.

At the same time, China’s once-mighty pool of savings has diminished as consumption has risen. As a result, China now needs foreign investment more than it did in the previous era.Chinese businesses have borrowed around $2 trillion in US dollar-denominated debt, requiring the acquisition of dollars to service the debt.So far this sounds like a typical case of a fast-growth economy maturing into a trade-deficit, debt-dependent consumption economy.

What the article misses is the staggering rise in the cost of living in China over the past two decades. Some services are still affordable to the masses–subway fares are extremely cheap–and private healthcare is a mere fraction of healthcare costs in the U.S.But other costs–housing, food, clothing, etc.–…

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Eating at Home vs. Eating Out

Eating at Home vs. Eating Out

eating at home vs eating out

Table of Contents

While many restaurants and fast food outlets offer us convincing marketing statements that they offer healthy and nutritional food, studies frequently find that this isn’t the case. The sugar and sodium content of most processed foods cause them to be serious threats to our health. These are also the same qualities which allow these foods to become addictive.

It’s not just fast food, either. The restaurant industry encourages overconsumption and indulgence in foods that we know to be unhealthy for our bodies. Nor is restaurant food as healthy for us as what we would make at home. At the same time, the cost of eating out puts a large strain on many of our food budgets.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Birth of a Monster

The Birth of a Monster

The Federal Reserve’s doors have been open for “business” for one hundred years. In explaining the creation of this money-making machine (pun intended — the Fed remits nearly $100 bn. in profits each year to Congress) most people fall into one of two camps.

Those inclined to view the Fed as a helpful institution, fostering financial stability in a world of error-prone capitalists, explain the creation of the Fed as a natural and healthy outgrowth of the troubled National Banking System. How helpful the Fed has been is questionable at best, and in a recent book edited by Joe Salerno and me — The Fed at One Hundred — various contributors outline many (though by no means all) of the Fed’s shortcomings over the past century.

Others, mostly those with a skeptical view of the Fed, treat its creation as an exercise in secretive government meddling (as in G. Edward Griffin’s The Creature from Jekyll Island) or crony capitalism run amok (as in Murray Rothbard’s The Case Against the Fed).

In my own chapter in The Fed at One Hundred I find sympathies with both groups (you can download the chapter pdf here). The actual creation of the Fed is a tragically beautiful case study in closed-door Congressional deals and big banking’s ultimate victory over the American public. Neither of these facts emerged from nowhere, however. The fateful events that transpired in 1910 on Jekyll Island were the evolutionary outcome of over fifty years of government meddling in money. As such, the Fed is a natural (though terribly unfortunate) outgrowth of an ever more flawed and repressive monetary system.

Before the Fed

Allow me to give a brief reverse biographical sketch of the events leading up to the creation of a monster in 1914.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The failing engines of global growth

The failing engines of global growth

The global slowdown has been much discussed lately. A slowdown in Europe and China was considered to be the main reason for the December stock market rout combined with the balance sheet normalization (QT) program of the Federal Reserve. What is behind the slowdown?

No satisfactory answer has emerged, though China’s efforts to curb excessive lending are a natural candidate, in addition to the fact that central banks have been removing stimulus. The answer, however, goes deeper into the structure of modern economies.

We will show in the March issue of our Q-review that the world economy never actually recovered from the financial crisis, and explain the reasons why. The failure of the economic drivers of global growth, China, the Eurozone and the US, is at the heart of the non-recovery. We will delve into that here.

Killing the spirit 

In June 2017, we noticed that something strange was going on in the global economy. The growth of total factor productivity (TFP) had stagnated starting in 2011. This is something that should not happen in a growing economy.

TFP is the measure of that part of GDP growth that changes in the quality and quantity of investments and work force cannot explain. It’s generally thought to be the measure of technological change driving economic growth. If it stagnates, it means that production is not becoming more efficient. That is, the achieved production is just the sum of capital and labor. Stagnation thus implies that our ability to create productive innovations has halted. A serious omen, and yet this is exactly what has happened since 2011. Why?

Figure 1. Regional and global growth rates of total factor productivity (TFP) in percentage points. Source: GnS Economics, Conference Board

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Doug Noland: Central Banks Are “Hostages Of Market Bubbles”

Doug Noland: Central Banks Are “Hostages Of Market Bubbles”

Doug Noland’s weekly Credit Bubble Bulletin is always required reading. The latest – befitting the amazing things that have happened lately – is more necessary than usual. But at 10,000 words it’s also a lot longer than usual. So while everyone should definitely read the whole thing, here are some excerpts to get you started:

I wonder if the Fed is comfortable seeing the markets dash skyward – the small caps up 16.4% y-t-d, the Banks 15.9%, the Transports 15.2%, Biotechs 18.5% and Semiconductors 17.0%. Or, perhaps, they’re quickly coming to recognize that they are now fully held hostage by market Bubbles.

Similarly, I ponder how Beijing feels about January’s booming Credit data – Aggregate Financing up $685 billion in the month of January. Do officials appreciate that they are completely held captive by history’s greatest Credit Bubble? 

Bubbles have become a fundamental geopolitical device – a stratagem. Things have regressed to a veritable global Financial Arms Race. As China/U.S. trade negotiations seemingly head down the homestretch, each side must believe that rallying domestic markets beget negotiating power. Meanwhile, emboldened global markets behave as if they have attained power surpassing mighty militaries and even nuclear arsenals.

China’s banks made the most new loans on record in January – totaling 3.23 trillion yuan ($477bn) – as policymakers try to jumpstart sluggish investment and prevent a sharper slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

January’s record China new bank loans were 11.4% higher than the previous record from January 2018 – and 15% above estimates. Total Bank Loans expanded 13.4% over the past year; 28% in two years; 45% in three years; 91% in five years; and an incredible 323% over the past decade.

“The San Francisco Fed put out a white paper about the benefits of negative interest rates. I hope that’s not where we’re going, but we can only cut rates about 225/250 bps to be at zero” — Kyle Bass, Hayman Capital Management.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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