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Why Systems Fail

Why Systems Fail

Since failing systems are incapable of structural reform, collapse is the only way forward.

Systems fail for a wide range of reasons, but I’d like to focus on two that are easy to understand but hard to pin down.

1. Systems are accretions of structures and modifications laid down over time.Each layer adds complexity which is viewed at the time as a solution.

This benefits insiders, as their job security arises from the need to manage the added complexity. The new layer may also benefit an outside constituency that quickly becomes dependent on the new layer for income. (Think defense contractors, consultants, non-profits, etc.)

In short order, insiders and outsiders alike habituate to the higher complexity, and everyone takes it for granted that “this is how things work.” Few people can visualize alternatives, and any alternative that reduces the budget, payroll or power of the existing system is rejected as “unworkable.”

In this set of incentives, the “solution” is always: we need more money. If only we had another $1 million, $1 billion or $1 trillion, we could fix what’s broken.

But increasing the budget can’t fix what’s broken because it doesn’t address the underlying sources of systemic failure.

Those benefiting from the status quo will fight tooth and nail to retain their jobs and benefits, and so deep reform is essentially impossible, as the insiders and constituencies of each layer resist any reform that might diminish their security/income.

As a result, new layers rarely replaces previous layers; the system becomes more and more inefficient and costly as every new layer must find work-arounds and kludgy fixes to function with the legacy layers.

Eventually, the system becomes unaffordable and/or too ineffective to fulfill its mission.

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

The Case For a Gold Currency Part 2: Wages and Growth: Higher Under Classical Gold Standard

When the world was on the gold standard, the fastest rate of economic growth happened between 1870 and 1914, when the gold standard was suspended in Europe because of WWI. Not only that, but blue collared workers then saw vast increases in their purchasing power. Had we stayed on the classical gold standard, wages would be higher and the middle class would continue to grow.

For example, in 1915, Henry Ford paid his workers $5 per day. At that time the price of gold was set at $20.67/oz. This means that in terms of gold (which was a legitimate form of payment and was easily redeemable into paper money) a blue collared factory worker was paid 0.242 oz. of gold per day. Assuming a 5-day work week and 40 weeks of work in a year, Ford workers could be paid 48 oz. of gold per year. Today the price of gold is $1200/oz; this means the Ford workers were paid $57,600/year in today’s money. This is significantly higher than what manufacturing jobs pay today.

Similarly, in 1965, the minimum wage was $1.25/hr (5 silver dimes) and under the Bretton Woods Agreement, silver was $1.25 per ounce. Today silver is $15/oz and hence workers would have had a purchasing power of $15/hour in today’s money.

Inflation

This implies that it is government control over a nation’s monetary system, which has allowed the middle class’s income to be eroded by inflation. While the CPI may show us that central banks have kept inflation under control, once we use precious metals as a measurement, the cost of goods and services have gone up much higher than what current inflation would suggest.

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

The Case for a Gold Currency: Part 1

The gold standard is a system where the nation’s money supply is determined by the supply of gold that is mined. Over time we have had different types of gold standard economies and countries have even suspended the gold standard during wars (e.g.: WWI). Until WWI the world had the international gold standard. Under a gold standard, paper money like $ and £ are not money- they are simply substitutes for a specific weight of gold.

History of Gold:

Mankind has used gold for thousands of years as money. However, the modern gold standard system is the most important.

International Gold Standard system (1870-1914) (Classical Gold Standard)

This was when money was redeemable for gold and there were few interruptions. This was the most stable monetary order in the history of gold. Every major currency such as the £, US$ and Franc were all redeemable for gold. Gold was the real money. £ is simply a name to define a weight of gold. Under this system, exchange rates were fixed based on how much weight of gold equalled 1 unit of currency. £1 was 1/4th of an ounce and $1 was 1/20.67th of an ounce, resulting in an exchange rate of $4.86/£.

In the long run, the money supply growth was extremely limited. Money supply could only grow if the amount of gold mined was increased. As a result, this made the value of money very stable. For example, after the 1848 California gold rush, inflation averaged 1.5% per year (according to Larry White), but as the amount of gold mined slowed, then there was gentle deflation. The net result is that between 1800 and 1900, the price level fell slightly. The reason is because as saving and investment increase and technology improved, the output of goods and services grew faster than the money supply, resulting in deflation. However, since 1971, when Nixon ended Bretton Woods, the dollar has lost 82% of its value.

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

In The Rush Toward A Cashless Society, The Poorest Are At Risk Of Further Exclusion

“Unless you’re poor, it’s hard to understand what it’s like to be poor.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a grand ambition to make his country into a cashless society. In 2014, he launched a scheme to provide bank accounts to the nearly 40 percent of the population with little or no access to financial services. In November 2016, he withdrew 500 and 1,000 rupee notes ($7.80 and $15.60), the country’s two most common banknotes, from circulation.

The aim was to clamp down on black-market money and get more people into the formal economy, but it had a negative effect on the poor, with micro and small-scale service businesses cutting 35 percent of staff in the first few months, and some families left unable to afford fruit and vegetables.

Cash is on the decline worldwide; non-cash transactions grew 11.2 percent globally in 2015. But for some, the Modi experiment is a sign that cashless societies will hurt the poor, and India is not alone in having poor, unbanked populations. An estimated 7 percent of American households don’t have access to bank accounts, according to the most recent survey from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. And a government study at the end of last year found that the U.S. homeless population had risen for the first time since 2010. Given rising inequality, what happens to those on the margins of the economy when cash is no longer king?

Proponents of a shift away from cash often point to Kenya or Sweden as proof that such a transition can happen without further disadvantaging the poor. In Sweden, which is on track to be the world’s first cashless society, a magazine called Situation Stockholm has equipped its homeless sellers with credit card readers. And M-Pesa, a mobile money service first rolled out in Kenya, has 30 million subscribers and has been credited with raising 2 percent of Kenyan households out of extreme poverty.

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

Bringing My Money Closer To Home

What Happens When Your Money Is Worthless? Living with a Devalued Currency

What Happens When Your Money Is Worthless? Living with a Devalued Currency

This is one of the most important and valued articles to help you prepare. I think it could be useful, based on our experience with the economic collapse and its effects on the currency. Let me tell you what life is really like when your country has a devalued currency that is nearly worthless.

How do you buy things with devalued currency?

These last few days I was asked by a fellow prepper overseas how our internal trading, with such a devalued currency, was going on. He asked if we used silver coins and bartering. I answered him that we use mostly US dollars and Euros for large transactions like vehicles, land, and housing, as far as I know. But the reason people are mostly selling is that they are desperate to get out of the country, and the wealth they have accumulated in previous years vanishes, with the bad deals they seem forced to accept.

On the other hand, for day-to-day payments, bolivars are still used, but the prices go up (always UP by the way) depending on the black market dollar price. This is, though, a perfect evidence that this black market dollar is controlled by the government: look at the evolution price, and you will find it stable just before any important election, political campaigns and such.

This is no surprise, those who benefit the most from this black market are those “companies” that aligned with the dollar river…and nowadays that stream is getting dry.

Bad news for oil industry workers

I received very bad news for those still working in the oil industry. So you can understand what is in store for the employees, I have to explain some background first.

As part of our monthly payment, we received a savings incentive: the company retained the 12.5% of our salary in their accounts until the end of the month, and provided another 12.5% (it sounds like a lot but it is not). So, by the end of the month, we had in the corporative account an additional 25%.

This was one of the main benefits for the oil state workers, and that helped to deal with the high performance demanded by the industry. This money, during better times, was kept there until the end of the year, for a new car, or starting a side business,  some fancy vacations, and stuff. However I never used it for traveling overseas, but invested in land, some prepping gear and equipment, assisting my parents and my wife’s family, and short family trips from time to time to the beach, or my folks’ place and such.

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

The environmental consequences of monetary dysfunction

The environmental consequences of monetary dysfunction

Dysfunction of the money-system underpins the problems of the world’s multiple converging crises. Discuss.

Might that assertion be taking an ideological position, encouraged by the echo chambers of like-minded twitterati? This piece is an attempt to tease out the nature of the underlying connection, and in doing so describe some of the attack surfaces that are available to those bent on change.

From an environmental perspective the most damaging money-system dysfunction is the misallocation of credit. Commercial banks have been given the responsibility of deciding who should receive loans – for capital investment, mortgages and asset purchases for example – and the privilege of charging interest on those loans. They are largely unconstrained in this process – while there are theoretical constraints, in practice their main concern is making sure they get their full whack of interest due over the term of the loan. They therefore generally prefer lending secured against an asset that they can repossess if necessary than against the uncertain (and difficult to assess – at least for today’s disconnected and centralised account managers) future productive capability of entrepreneurial projects. This is borne out by figures for productive investment which tend to show lending for productive use at about 15%.

The first consequence of this preference is that the banks find themselves in an unholy alliance with asset owners, with a joint interest in ever rising asset prices and a reluctance to moderate activity in asset markets lest their loans lose collateral value. They all know in their hearts that this will eventually mean painful busts. But they also know that when the time comes they will be bailed out by the government, that many of their more savvy and comfortably-connected friends will have disposed of their assets ahead of the peak, and that the greater part of the associated pain will be experienced by less well connected ‘outsiders’. There is no real sanction on the banks or their senior management from buying into this toxic cycle. So we should not be surprised when it repeats. They operate in any case with a sort of herd mentality, and taking a heterodox stance would fail the wine-bar peer-reviews. There is no way that this cycle can avoid the progressive concentration of wealth. (In passing we might note that this in turn puts a misplaced emphasis on philanthropy and volunteerism as means to address society’s ills.)

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

Money as a Measuring Stick

Money as a Measuring Stick

Imagine if the world’s metre sticks all grew or shrunk a bit each year. That would make for a confusing system of weights and measures, wouldn’t it? Well, that is exactly what happens with money.

We have been measuring the world around us for thousands of years. Units like feet and cubits have been used for distances, pounds and kilograms to measure weight, and dollars and yen to measure economic value. Measuring value, however, is by far the most complicated of the measurements that must be taken. This is because – unlike the other units – the various items that have been used to represent dollars and yen are constantly fluctuating in value.

The British Pound, or lb

Monetary units have always been closely tied up with units of weight. For instance, the word “pound” has been used to describe both the British monetary unit (£) and the weight (lb). The pound weight was originally based on wheat. In 1266, King Henry III decreed that the British unit referred to as the grain should be defined as the weight of a corn of wheat “well dried, and gathered out of the middle of the ear.” Thirty-two grains were to be equal to a pennyweight, twenty pennyweights equal to an ounce, and twelve ounces added up to a pound. So the early English pound, otherwise known as the Tower pound, was comprised of 7,680 “well-dried” grains from the middle of an ear of wheat.

Grains of wheat

The Tower pound wasn’t the only pound weight used in England. The Troy pound, used for gold and silver, contained 5,760 grains, while the Merchant pound was made up of 6,750 grains. To add to the confusion, the avoirdupois pound would contain 7,000 grains.

The Exchequer Standard

Although the grain unit served as the basis for weights, people didn’t go about their regular business of measuring the weights of things by counterbalancing them against tiny grains of wheat. Imagine how awkward it would be to go to the local market to ask for an ounce of meat! The butcher would have had to count out 640 grains and then counterbalance them on a scale against the hunk of meat, an arduous process that would have brought the gears of trade to a near halt. Buyers would have been constantly accusing sellers of not using appropriately dry grains, adding to the confusion.

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

 

Central Bank Money Rules the World

Central Bank Money Rules the World

Central bank credit that supports markets — is not just creation of the Fed, but by central banks and institutions around the world colluding together. Global markets are too deeply connected these days to consider the Fed in isolation.

Since last month’s correction, the world has been watching the Fed because its policies have global implications. And worldwide sell-offs sent a clear sign to Fed Chair Powell to relax with the rate hikes.

When fears arise that central bank QE will recede on one side of the world, we see more volatility and rumors of hawkishness. To counter those fears, there will be a move toward dovish policy on the other side of the world.

Central banks operate in collusion. When the Fed signals it is raising rates, or markets over-react negatively to the threat, another central bank steps in. By colluding, other central banks offer even more dark money-QE to keep the party going.

The net result is a propensity toward the status quo in global monetary policy: a bullish, asset bubble-inflating bias in the stock markets and caution in the bond markets.

Here’s what’s going on with some of the most powerful central bankers right now, starting with Japan…

While U.S. markets were correcting earlier this month, Japan’s financial benchmark, the Nikkei 225 index fell more than 1,200 points. At the same time, the rumors of Japan’s central bank curbing its dark money-QE programs are just that.

While investors have speculated that the BoJ could be moving towards an exit from dark money policy (despite the BOJ denying this), we know that central banks are too scared of the outcomes.

In an economic pinch, the Bank of Japan (BoJ), will keep dark money flowing.

Confirming my premise, when Japanese Government Bond prices were dipping too fast, the BoJ announced “unlimited” buying of long-term Japanese government bonds. This is simply the continuation of the policy the BoJ already has in place.

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

 

 

Repetitive Patterns in the Money Supply – Will Coins Become Extinct?

Inflation over time raises the cost of raw metal and we see that such coins vanish from the money supply. Britain is the latest in line to eliminate the 1 & 2 pence coins. They are costing more to produce than they are worth. I have written about the monetary reform Act of 1857 when the penny was drastically reduced in size. Canada eliminated the penny as well.

The United States dropped copper from the penny in 1982. Today, the penny is made of 97.5% zinc. It is copper-plated to give the appearance that it is still really copper. Throughout history, the supply of copper, gold, and silver, have all risen and fallen at different times based on their own cycle. Where the Persians had excess gold, the Greeks only had silver mines. The Romans had neither silver nor gold and began their monetary system with bronze.

We can see how the three empires began with gold, then silver, and finally bronze and modern society turned to paper starting with the Chinese during the 13th century. The main coin of the Persians was known as the gold Daric, whereas the dominant coinage among the Greeks was the silver Athens tetradrachm known as the Owl. The Romans were the last to depart from the Bronze Age. Their coinage remained bronze until silver was introduced and struck in Greek denominations beginning in 280BC, which was just one 51.6-year wave from Alexander the Great (336-323BC).

As-Decline (1)

We can see the same process of the rising cost of copper that prevailed during the early Roman Republic. The Roman As drops from 280BC with a weight of 341 grams to 10.6 grams by the time of Augustus (27BC-14AD). The drastic decline was been 280BC and 115BC, which was about 19 waves of 8.6-years.

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

Do We really Hold: In God We Trust?

QUESTION: I was wondering some of your thoughts on “God” and “The Creator” throughout US history? Is “In God We Trust” really a statement that if our most basic rights such as speech are not licensed by a government, then they are natural and thus come from God? Thus cannot be denied through evidence otherwise? What are the legal extents? Also, besides tradition, what are the significances of using the Bible during congressional swear-ins and testimonies? …

ANSWER: The origin of the motto “In God We Trust” dates back to 1864 and it was proposed by Samuel Chase, Secretary of the Treasury at that time. It first appeared in the 2 cents coin in 1864. After the Civil War, it then appears on the silver coinage from 25 cents to $1. It also appeared on the 5 cent coins in 1866, which were of a similar design to the 2 cent coinage. It never appeared on the penny which was reduced in size during the Panic of 1857. While it became the official motto of the U.S. state of Florida, it was not adopted as the nation’s motto until 1956 as a replacement/alternative to the unofficial motto of E pluribus unum (from many, one), which was adopted when the Great Seal of the United States was created and adopted in 1782.  President Dwight Eisenhower on July 30, 1956, declared “In God We Trust” must appear on American currency. This phrase was first used on paper money in 1957 when it appeared on the one-dollar silver certificate. The first paper currency bearing the phrase entered circulation on October 1, 1957.

Simply because we have this motto on our currency does not mean that it guides Washington at all. Some have argued that the Roman architecture and the Egyptian style obelisk for the Washington Monument are somehow signs of a deeper cult at work.

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

What is Wrong With the Popular Definition of Inflation?

According to Mises,

Inflation, as this term was always used everywhere and especially in this country, means increasing the quantity of money and bank notes in circulation and the quantity of bank deposits subject to check. But people today use the term `inflation’ to refer to the phenomenon that is an inevitable consequence of inflation, that is the tendency of all prices and wage rates to rise. The result of this deplorable confusion is that there is no term left to signify the cause of this rise in prices and wages. There is no longer any word available to signify the phenomenon that has been, up to now, called inflation.[1]

What is today called inflation is the general rise in prices, which is in fact only the outcome of inflation. Consequently, anything that contributes to price rises is now called inflationary and therefore must be guarded against. Thus, a fall in unemployment or a rise in economic activity are all seen as potential inflationary triggers and therefore must be restrained by central bank policies.

Some other triggers such as rises in commodity prices or workers’ wages also regarded as potential threats and therefore must be always under the watchful eye of the central bank policy makers.

If inflation is indeed just a general rise in prices, then why is it regarded as bad news? What kind of damage does it do?

Mainstream economists maintain that general price increases cause speculative buying, which generates waste. Inflation, it is maintained, also erodes the real incomes of pensioners and low-income earners and causes a misallocation of resources.

Despite all these assertions regarding the side effects of what they define as inflation, mainstream economics does not tell us how all these bad side effects are caused.

 

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

The Failure of Fiat Currencies

The Failure of Fiat Currencies

We work hard for our money, as we think it has long-lasting value. That value can buy us other things that we want. It seems like a good exchange. However, few of us consider how extrinsic the value of money really is. In reality, we are dealing in valueless fiat currencies. 

At one time, our money was backed by the tangible value of gold or other precious metals, legal tender for anything of equal value.

That is not the case any longer. The value of a dollar bill these days is what the government says it is. This arbitrary value is dependent on the whim of the government. And the government can print money like a copy machine run amok. There are no limits to how much money can be put into circulation. That is because this money isn’t backed by any real value, it’s called fiat currency.

The US dollar became fiat currency when it stopped being backed by gold over 46 years ago and it has lost 97 percent of its value since the establishment of the Federal Reserve in 1913.

Apart from cryptocurrencies, all the world’s major countries are using fiat currency.

Since Roman times, fiat money has failed spectacularly throughout history due to the same pattern of rapid devaluation and then total collapse. The Romans used a 100 percent pure silver coin called the denarius at the start of the first century. By mid-century, during Nero’s rule, the denarius only contained 94% silver. By 100 A.D., the silver content had been reduced to 85%. The value of the coin was decreasing steadily. This worked well for Nero and his followers, who no longer had to pay their debt at the full, actual value while additionally increasing their own wealth. During the next century, the coin was made of less than 50% silver.

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

Fred Hickey: Why A Lifelong Technology Expert Favors Owning Gold

Fred Hickey: Why A Lifelong Technology Expert Favors Owning Gold

It’s the safest & most undervalued asset today

Fred Hickey, frequent cited expert on Bloomberg News and Barron’s Roundtable, has been publishing his author extremely well-respected investment newsletter, The High-Tech Strategist, for 31 years. And he is more worried about the state of the financial markets today than he’s ever been.

While his primary focus has been on analyzing Tech stocks, over the years he has expanded into macro trend analysis as the central banks starting increasingly intervening in world markets and distorting the price of money.

He now finds asset prices dangerously overvalued (within Tech and without) and worries — as we do — about the risk of a major market correction and possible currency crises.

Ironically, this lifelong expert in “all things technology” has concluded that gold (the “barbaric relic”) is the sanest asset to put one’s capital in these days — both due to its safety factor and it’s current level of undervaluation. He expects the precious metals to fare well during the downward market volatility he foresees, and he is now tracking the mining stocks closely as he predicts they will experience dramatic appreciation from here.

What’s happening to gold mining stocks right now is an amazing story. They’re extremely undervalued. Just this year, we’ve seen the price of gold hold up during this market decline, yet the miners have been getting slaughtered.

One of the things we look at is the HUI-to-gold ratio, or the gold miner index to gold. That is down to 0.133. Now, that’s lower than it was at the 20-year bear market bottom in 2000. It was slightly lower than that at the end of 2015, but we’re talking about near record lows here when the price of gold is up. It looks to me that gold is in a bull market.

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

‘No Cash’ Signs Everywhere Has Sweden Worried It’s Gone Too Far

  • Cash usage declining both as share of GDP and in nominal terms
  • Riksbank committee could publish report on issue in summer
Sweden ‘Most Cashless’ Society in the World
The value oof notes and coins in circulation are the lowest in nearly 30 years. Bloomberg’s Amanda Billner reports.

“No cash accepted” signs are becoming an increasingly common sight in shops and eateries across Sweden as payments go digital and mobile.

But the pace at which cash is vanishing has authorities worried. A broad review of central bank legislation that’s under way is now taking a special look at the situation, with an interim report due as early as the summer.

Going Cashless: Bad for Tax Cheats, Privacy, the Poor: QuickTake

“If this development with cash disappearing happens too fast, it can be difficult to maintain the infrastructure” for handling cash, said Mats Dillen, the head of the parliamentary review. He declined to give more details on the types of proposals that could be included in the report.

Sweden is widely regarded as the most cashless society on the planet. Most of the country’s bank branches have stopped handling cash; many shops, museums and restaurants now only accept plastic or mobile payments. But there’s a downside, since many people, in particular the elderly, don’t have access to the digital society.

“One may get into a negative spiral which can threaten the cash infrastructure,” Dillen said. “It’s those types of issues we are looking more closely at.”

Last year, the amount of cash in circulation in Sweden dropped to the lowest level since 1990 and is more than 40 percent below its 2007 peak. The declines in 2016 and 2017 were the biggest on record.

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

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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