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Government Monopoly Money vs. Personal Choice in Currency

For more than two hundred years, practically all of even the most free market advocates have assumed that money and banking were different from other types of goods and markets. From Adam Smith to Milton Friedman, the presumption has been competitive markets and free consumer choice are far better than government control and planning – except in the realm of money and financial intermediation.

This belief has been taken to the extreme over the last one hundred years, during which governments have claimed virtually absolute and unlimited authority over national monetary systems through the institution of paper money.

At least before the First World War the general consensus among economists, many political leaders, and the vast majority of the citizenry was that governments could not be completely trusted with management of the monetary system. Abuse of the monetary printing press would always be too tempting for demagogues, special interest groups, and shortsighted politicians looking for easy ways to fund their way to power, privilege, and political advantage.

The Gold Standard and the Monetary “Rules of the Game”

Thus, before 1914 the national currencies of practically all the major countries of what used to be called the “civilized world” were anchored to market-based commodities, either gold or silver. This was meant to place money outside the immediate and arbitrary manipulation of governments. Any increase in gold or silver money required private individuals to find it profitable to prospect for it in various parts of the world, mine it out of the ground and transport it to where it might be refined into usable forms, and then mint part of any new supplies into coins and bullion, with the rest made into various commercial and industrial products demanded on the market.

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

India: Cash is Back

But the Crisis has Deepened and has Become More Entrenched (Part XIV)

Nobody for President

On 17th July 2017, India will elect a new President through a vote of the elected representatives. The two real choices are between Ram Nath Kovind and Meira Kumar. Afraid of looking completely ignorant, I asked a few people who Kovind is. No-one knew of him and people only vaguely remembered Ms. Kumar.

Adults and juveniles have been arrested in different parts of India for celebrating Pakistan’s victory over India in a recently held cricket match. They have been charged with sedition, a charge that has serious legal ramifications and can potentially send these people to prison for life. With the British gone for 70 years, India’s laws and institutions have lost all mooring to their rational anchors. Photo credit: Amnesty India

India will get a complete nobody as its next President. Both candidates are from the Indian province of Bihar. If it were a country, Bihar with its 119 million inhabitants would be the 12th  most populated in the world. With a GDP of USD 420 per capita, it would also be among the world’s ten poorest countries.

A scene from a slum in Patna, Bihar’s capital. Photo credit: Yuri Birukov

Kovind is from the “lower caste” and is the choice of the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who would like to make up for recent atrocities against the “lower caste”. While he is a nobody with hardly any public credentials and a yes-man to the system, Kovind is sympathetic to the cause of Hindu fanatics and has their support.

Why pull a passionate street fighter and rabble-rouser out of the street and place him in a position where he might compete with Modi for visibility?

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

Myths Behind the War on Cash

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The attacks on physical cash from a phalanx of economists, central bankers, commercial banks, and politicians have not diminished in recent years. On the contrary, in the face of the worldwide increase in terror attacks, particularly in Europe, and ongoing pressure on public budgets, the cash ban issue is increasingly dragged into the spotlight.

In a highly-recommended study entitled “Cash, Freedom and Crime. Use and Impact of Cash in a World Going Digital,” Deutsche Bank Research demolishes numerous popular myths surrounding cash, inter alia in the context of crime and terrorism. Without cash there are no longer bank robberies at gun point, instead there are now electronic bank robberies. Fraud involving credit cards and ATM cards is massively increasing in Sweden, the country considered the pioneer of the cashless society. The argument that adopting a cashless payment system would facilitate the fight against terrorism doesn’t hold water either:

As regards terrorism in Europe, an analysis of 40 jihadist attacks in the past 20 years shows that most funding came from delinquents’ own funds and 75% of the attacks cost in total less than USD 10,000 to carry out — sums that will hardly raise suspicions even if paid by card.

Moreover, many terrorists, particularly if they are prepared to risk their own death, won’t be deterred by prohibitions, just as stricter gun laws have no impact on people who must use unregistered weapons for their crimes. Often, they are unable to get hold of a weapon by legal means anyway if they have a criminal record. Planned terror attacks are as a rule characterized by a meticulous and careful approach. At best a cash ban might make financing of terrorism more difficult (even that is doubtful), but at the price of subjecting the law-abiding peaceful population at large to even more intrusive surveillance.

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

If We Don’t Change the Way Money Is Created, Rising Inequality and Social Disorder Are Inevitable

If We Don’t Change the Way Money Is Created, Rising Inequality and Social Disorder Are Inevitable

Centrally issued money optimizes inequality, monopoly, cronyism, stagnation and systemic instability.
Everyone who wants to reduce wealth and income inequality with more regulations and taxes is missing the key dynamic: central banks’ monopoly on creating and issuing money widens wealth inequality, as those with access to newly issued money can always outbid the rest of us to buy the engines of wealth creation.
History informs us that rising wealth and income inequality generate social disorder.
Access to low-cost credit issued by central banks creates financial and political power. Those with access to low-cost credit have a monopoly as valuable as the one to create money.
Compare the limited power of an individual with cash and the enormous power of unlimited cheap credit.
Let’s say an individual has saved $100,000 in cash. He keeps the money in the bank, which pays him less than 1% interest. Rather than earn this low rate, he decides to loan the cash to an individual who wants to buy a rental home at 4% interest.
There’s a tradeoff to earn this higher rate of interest: the saver has to accept the risk that the borrower might default on the loan, and that the home will not be worth the $100,000 the borrower owes.
The bank, on the other hand, can perform magic with the $100,000 they obtain from the central bank. The bank can issue 19 times this amount in new loans—in effect, creating $1,900,000 in new money out of thin air.
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Four Reasons Central Banks are Wrong to Fight Deflation

Four Reasons Central Banks are Wrong to Fight Deflation

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The word “deflation” can be defined in various ways. According to the most widely accepted definition today, deflation is a sustained decrease of the price level. Older authors have often used the expression “deflation” to denote a decreasing money supply, and some contemporary authors use it to characterize a decrease of the inflation rate. All of these definitions are acceptable, depending on the purpose of the analysis. None of them, however, lends itself to justifying an artificial increase of the money supply.

The harmful character of deflation is today one of the sacred dogmas of monetary policy. The champions of the fight against deflation usually present six arguments to make their case.1 One, in their eyes it is a matter of historical experience that deflation has negative repercussions on aggregate production and, therefore, on the standard of living. To explain this presumed historical record, they hold, two, that deflation incites the market participants to postpone buying because they speculate on ever lower prices. Furthermore, they consider, three, that a declining price level makes it more difficult to service debts contracted at a higher price level in the past. These difficulties threaten to entail, four, a crisis within the banking industry and thus a dramatic curtailment of credit. Five, they claim that deflation in conjunction with “sticky prices” results in unemployment. And finally, six, they consider that deflation might reduce nominal interest rates to such an extent that a monetary policy of “cheap money,” to stimulate employment and production, would no longer be possible, because the interest rate cannot be decreased below zero.

However, theoretical and empirical evidence substantiating these claims is either weak or lacking altogether.2 First, in historical fact, deflation has had no clear negative impact on aggregate production.

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

Debt-Based Money Corrodes Society

Debt-Based Money Corrodes Society

We open today’s reckoning with a hypothesis:

The current monetary system debauches the culture.

Long-suffering readers are familiar with our… diminished regard for paper money.

Paper money — or digital money nowadays — is the great bogeyman of the boom/bust cycle. It inflates bubbles of every model and make.

Meanwhile, paper money fuels big government… as oxygen fuels fire.

But paper money’s effects on the culture?

“It has a very important impact on our culture,” writes economist Jorg Guido Hulsmann.

Under “natural money” like gold Hulsmann explains, prices tend to fall over time.

So natural money encourages the virtues of saving… thrift… deferred gratification. It sets the mind to the future:

In a free economy with a natural monetary system, there is a strong incentive to save money… Investments in savings accounts or other relatively safe investments also play a certain role, but cash hoarding is paramount.

Before the 20th century, explains Hulsmann, debt was a cultural taboo… a big scarlet “D.”

Credit for households was virtually unknown, he says. And only the poorest households resorted to debt-financed consumption.

Ah, but then the 20th century came along with its wars… its social movements… and its cranks…

Gold is a famously uncooperative agent of change.

It resists social uplift, in the same way an old man resists a new pair of shoes.

It turns away from the sound of trumpets.

“You go over there,” gold says. “I’m staying here.”

“The trouble with gold is that it turns its back on world improvers, empire builders and do-gooders,” wrote Bill Bonner and our leader Addison Wiggin in Empire of Debt.

“The nice thing about gold is that it is so unresponsive,” they continued. “It neither laughs nor applauds.”

And that’s why it couldn’t last…

Only a debt-backed system of paper money could finance the great wars, the social improvements and the fevered dreams of the 20th century.

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

Why The Markets Are Overdue For A Gigantic Bust

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Why The Markets Are Overdue For A Gigantic Bust

It’s just not possible to print our way to prosperity
Let me begin with a caveat: confirmation bias is an ever-present risk for an analyst such as myself.

If you’re not familiar with the term, ‘confirmation bias’ suggests that once we’ve invested time and emotional energy into developing a worldview, we’ll then seek information to confirm that view.

After writing about the economy for so many years, I’m now so convinced that we can’t print our way to prosperity that I find myself seeing signs confirming this view everywhere, every single day. So that’s the danger to be aware of when listening to me.  I’m going to keep repeating this mantra and Im going to keep finding data that supports this view.

Based on lots of historical inputs, I have concluded that Printing money out of thin air can engineer lots of things, including asset price bubbles and the redistribution of wealth from the masses to the elites.  But it cannot print up real prosperity.

As much as I try, I simply cannot jump on the bandwagon that says that printing up money out of thin air has any long-term utility for an economy. It’s just too clear to me that doing so presents plenty of dangers, due to what we might call ‘economic gravity’: What goes up, must also come down.

Which brings us to this chart:

The 200 bubble blown by Greenspan was bad, the next one by Bernanke was horrible, but this one by Yellen may well prove fatal.  At least to entire financial markets, large institutions, and a few sovereigns.

It’s essential to note that more than two-thirds of the net worth tracked in the above chart is now comprised of ‘financial assets.’  That is, paper claims on real things.

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

Just a quick reminder of who’s really in charge

This happens several times each year as the central bank’s Federal Open Market Committee gathers to set monetary policy in the Land of the Free.

To be clear, there is no greater power over a nation than having control of its money supply and interest rates.

Think about it: interest rates influence just about EVERYTHING in the economy.

Changes in interest rates influence housing prices, company stock prices, retail sales, food prices, oil prices, and major business purchases.

Interest rates have a significant impact over employment, business investment, inflation, and the currency’s international exchange rate.

Increases in the interest rate even have the power to bring a government to its knees.

This is pretty extraordinary power. And it has been awarded to an unelected committee that has an astonishing track record of getting it wrong.

Former Fed chair Ben Bernanke famously predicted in January 2008 that “the Federal Reserve is currently NOT forecasting a recession.”

It turns out that the recession had officially started one month before in December 2007.

While that’s just one small example, the numbers show that these guys perpetually miss the mark.

In January 2011 the Fed projected 2011 GDP growth would be 3.7%. It turned out to be 2%. So proportionally speaking they were off by 85%.

In January 2012 they predicted 2.5% growth that year. Actual growth in 2012 was 1.6%, so they were ‘only’ off by 56%.

Their 2016 GDP growth forecast was 2.4%, while actual growth was 1.6%, another 50% error.

And just recently for the first quarter of 2017, the Fed’s predictions were 1.2% growth, while actual GDP growth was just 0.7%… a 70%+ overshoot.

Here’s the funny thing– even the Federal Reserve’s own internal study shows that they consistently miss the mark in their projections.

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

What Should Be the Correct Money Supply Growth Rate?

Most economists believe that a growing economy requires a growing money stock, on grounds that growth gives rise to a greater demand for money, which must be accommodated.

Failing to do so, it is maintained, will lead to a decline in the prices of goods and services, which in turn will destabilize the economy and lead to an economic recession or, even worse, depression.

Since growth in money supply is of such importance, it is not surprising that economists are continuously searching for the right, or the optimum, growth rate of the money supply.

Some economists who are the followers of Milton Friedman – also known as monetarists – want the central bank to target the money supply growth rate to a fixed percentage. They hold that if this percentage is maintained over a prolonged period of time it will usher in an era of economic stability.

The idea that money must grow in order to sustain economic growth gives the impression that money somehow sustains economic activity.

According to Rothbard,

Money, per se, cannot be consumed and cannot be used directly as a producers’ good in the productive process. Money per se is therefore unproductive; it is dead stock and produces nothing[1].

Money’s main job is simply to fulfill the role of the medium of exchange. Money doesn’t sustain or fund real economic activity. The means of sustenance, or funding, is provided by saved real goods and services. By fulfilling its role as a medium of exchange, money just facilitates the flow of goods and services between producers and consumers.

Historically, many different goods have been used as the medium of exchange. On this, Mises observed that, over time,

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

Multiple Bubbles Are Going to Bring America to Its Knees: “The Warning Signs Are There”

Multiple Bubbles Are Going to Bring America to Its Knees: “The Warning Signs Are There”

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If you’ve been paying attention to the ongoing degradation of the American economy since the last financial crisis, you’re probably flabbergasted by the fact that our economy has managed to make it this far without imploding. I know I am. I find myself shocked with every year that passes without incident.

The warning signs are there for anyone willing to see, and they are flashing red. Even cursory research into the numbers underlying our system will tell you that we’re on an unsustainable financial path. It’s simple math. And yet the system has proven far more durable than most people thought.

The only reasonable explanation I can think of, is that the system is being held up by wishful thinking and willful ignorance. If every single person knew how unsustainable our economy is, it would self-destruct within hours. People would pull their money out of the banks, the bonds, and the stock market, and buy whatever real assets they could while their money is still worth something. It would be the first of many dominoes to fall before the entire financial system collapses.

But most people don’t want to think about that possibility. They want the relative peace and prosperity of the current system to continue, so they ignore the facts or try to avoid them as much as possible. They keep their money right where it is and cross their fingers instead. In other words, the only thing propping up the system is undeserved confidence.

Unfortunately, confidence can’t keep an unsustainable system running forever. Nothing can. And our particular system is brimming with economic bubbles that aren’t going to stay inflated for much longer.

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

Why This Market Needs To Crash

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Why This Market Needs To Crash

And likely will 

Like an old vinyl record with a well-worn groove, the needle skipping merrily back to the same track over and over again, we repeat: Today’s markets are dangerously overpriced.

Being market fundamentalists who don’t believe it’s possible to simply print prosperity out of thin air, we’ve been deeply skeptical of the financial markets ever since the central banks began their highly interventionist policies. Since 2009, they have unleashed over $12 Trillion in new money into the world, concentrating wealth into the hands of an elite few, while blowing asset price bubbles everywhere in the process (see our recent report The Mother Of All Financial Bubbles).

Our consistent view is that price bubbles always burst. Which is why we predict the world’s financial markets will implode spectacularly from today’s heights — destroying jobs, dreams, hopes, economies and political careers alike.

When this happens, it will frighten the central bankers enough (or merely embarrass them enough, being the egotists that they are) that they will respond with even more aggressive money printing — and that will then cause the entire money system to blow up.  Ka-Poom!  First inwards in a compressed ball of deflation, then exploding outwards in a final hyperinflationary fireball (see our recent report When This All Blows Up…).

It really cannot end any other way.  Money is not wealth; it is merely a claim on wealth.  Debt is a claim on future money.  The only way to have faith in our current monetary policies is if one believes that we can always grow our debts at roughly twice the rate of GDP — forever.   That is, compound the claims at twice the rate of income year after year from here on out.

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

Banks Are Evil

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Banks Are Evil

It’s time to get painfully honest about this 

I don’t talk to my classmates from business school anymore, many of whom went to work in the financial industry.

Why?

Because, through the lens we use here at PeakProsperity.com to look at the world, I’ve increasingly come to see the financial industry — with the big banks at its core — as the root cause of injustice in today’s society. I can no longer separate any personal affections I might have for my fellow alumni from the evil that their companies perpetrate.

And I’m choosing that word deliberately: Evil.

In my opinion, it’s long past time we be brutally honest about the banks. Their influence and reach has metastasized to the point where we now live under a captive system. From our retirement accounts, to our homes, to the laws we live under — the banks control it all. And they run the system for their benefit, not ours.

While the banks spent much of the past century consolidating their power, the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Actin 1999 emboldened them to accelerate their efforts. Since then, the key trends in the financial industry have been to dismantle regulation and defang those responsible for enforcing it, to manipulate market prices (an ambition tremendously helped by the rise of high-frequency trading algorithms), and to push downside risk onto “muppets” and taxpayers.

Oh, and of course, this hasn’t hurt either: having the ability to print up trillions in thin-air money and then get first-at-the-trough access to it. Don’t forget, the Federal Reserve is made up of and run by — drum roll, please — the banks.

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

When This All Blows Up…

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When This All Blows Up…

Understanding the how & when of the next economic crash 

This report marks the end of a series of three big trains of thought. The first explained how we’re living through the Mother Of All Financial Bubbles. The next detailed the Great Wealth Transfer that is now underway, siphoning our wealth into the pockets of an elite few.

This concluding report predicts how these deleterious and unsustainable trends will inevitably ‘resolve’ (which is a pleasant way of saying ‘blow up’.)

The Ka-POOM Theory

In terms how this will all end, we favor the scenario put forth by Eric Janszen in 1998 called the Ka-POOM theory.

This theory rests on the belief that the Federal Reserve along with the other world central banks looked at Japan’s several decades of economic stagnation and decided that deflationary recessions are to be avoided at all costs — even if that means blowing asset bubbles and then cleaning up the destruction left behind in their aftermath.

Because the Fed, et al. have a limited playbook (which is: print, and then print some more), the Ka-POOM model calls for limited periods of disinflation, followed by massive money printing sprees that then produce high inflation.

Despite the trillions and trillions in thin-air money printed by the world’s central banks over the past 8 years, a common rebuttal we hear is “But there’s been no inflation so far!”  To which I reply, “Yes, that’s what we’re being told. But that’s not actually true.”

Remember: inflation is simply “too much money chasing too few goods.”  We can detect today’s excess of money in the rising prices in our cost of living — but those higher prices are symptoms, not causes. Inflation is not “higher prices”. Inflation is “too much money”.

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

Arizona Challenges the Fed’s Money Monopoly

Arizona Challenges the Fed’s Money Monopoly

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History shows that, if individuals have the freedom to choose what to use as money, they will likely opt for gold or silver.

Of course, modern politicians and their Keynesian enablers despise the gold or silver standard. This is because linking a currency to a precious metal limits the ability of central banks to finance the growth of the welfare-warfare state via the inflation tax. This forces politicians to finance big government much more with direct means of taxation.

Despite the hostility toward gold from modern politicians, gold played a role in US monetary policy for sixty years after the creation of the Federal Reserve. Then, in 1971, as concerns over the US government’s increasing deficits led many foreign governments to convert their holdings of US dollars to gold, President Nixon closed the gold window, creating America’s first purely fiat currency.

America’s 46-year experiment in fiat currency has gone exactly as followers of the Austrian school predicted: a continuing decline in the dollar’s purchasing power accompanied by a decline in the standard of living of middle- and working-class Americans, a series of Federal Reserve-created booms followed by increasingly severe busts, and an explosive growth in government spending. Federal Reserve policies are also behind much of the increase in income inequality.

Since the 2008 Fed-created economic meltdown, more Americans have become aware of the Federal Reserve’s responsibility for America’s economic problems. This growing anti-Fed sentiment is one of the key factors behind the liberty movement’s growth and represents the most serious challenge to the Fed’s legitimacy in its history. This movement has made “Audit the Fed” into a major national issue that is now closer than ever to being signed into law.

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

The Coming Great Wealth Transfer

WakingTimes.com

The Coming Great Wealth Transfer

Spoiler alert! It’s already here.

In the past, I’ve warned about the coming Great Wealth Transfer.  But now we need to talk about it in the present tense, because it’s here.

And it will only accelerate from here on out. The Rich will get richer at the expense of everybody else.

This isn’t personal. It’s simply a feature of what happens near the end of a debt-based monetary system run by corruptible humans.

Of course, those in charge don’t think of themselves as corrupted or villainous. I’m sure that Federal Reserve Chairs Greenspan, Bernanke and Yellen all think of themselves as good and decent people doing “God’s work”. But the truth is they’ve irrevocably harmed millions — if not billions — of innocent people.

They and other central bankers have become the standard bearers of a system that can best be described as a reverse Robin Hood scheme, one that takes from the poor and gives to the Rich. It’s just that in this tale, the ‘poor’ means everybody not in the top 1%.

So you need to understand this wealth transfer process — how it works, who’s perpetrating it, and what dangers to watch for. If not, you’ll be a victim of it. And you’ll probably live in confusion and shock by how hard just ‘getting by’ becomes going forward.

Realizing that you’re being specifically targeted by a system determined to separate you from your wealth is the essential first step towards figuring out how to evade the predators and protect yourself.

The Great Wealth Transfer

What do we mean by a Wealth Transfer?

It isn’t just some academic concept. It’s a playbook that’s been used many times in the past by governments to forcibly extract wealth from the public and use it for the benefit of those in power.

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

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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