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Historical lessons in prosperity vs. poverty

Historical lessons in prosperity vs. poverty

As the grandson of Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan had a lot to prove.

So he set his eyes on the biggest prize in the known world at the time: southern China.

Kublai Khan completed his conquest of China in 1279, forging a new empire and creating the Yuan dynasty.

The Mongols were known for their expensive habits— they liked war and women especially. So when the money started to run out, administrators in the Yuan dynasty started printing paper money.

Yuan officials weren’t the first to come up with this idea; the government from the prior Song dynasty had also printed paper money. But there was a huge difference—

Paper currency from the Song dynasty, known as guanzi, was backed by copper, silver, and gold coins.

The Yuan currency, however, was backed by nothing. So whenever the government started to run out of money, they simply printed more.

By 1350, Kublai Khan had been dead for decades. But the Yuan dynasty’s economic overseers were still printing paper money like crazy. And it was causing severe hyperinflation across China.

People’s lives were turned upside down by the government’s fiscal irresponsibility, and rebellions broke out across the country.

By 1368, the Yuan dynasty had completely collapsed, and a destitute peasant farmer-turned-monk named Zhu Yuanzhang rose up to become Emperor and found the new Ming Dynasty.

To stimulate the economy ravaged by inflation, the Ming dynasty created an unprecedented level of economic freedom.

Markets and industries were deregulated; the government abandoned its monopoly on salt production, for example, and merchants were encouraged to allow market competition to set prices.

In time, the government stabilized the currency and reintroduced metallic coins. And by the 1500s Ming officials even allowed foreign currencies like the Spanish Silver Dollar to circulate in China.

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

Cash-Strapped Iraq Drastically Devalues Dinar As Fears Of Nationwide Unrest Grow

Cash-Strapped Iraq Drastically Devalues Dinar As Fears Of Nationwide Unrest Grow

According to the latest IMF forecasts, Iraq’s GDP will contract 12% this year, more than that of any other OPEC member under a production quota.

A global pandemic-induced demand slump (among other domestic issues) has pushed Iraq – under its OPEC membership – to slash oil production by over 12% year-over-year (however, Iraq, along with other nations such as Nigeria, has pumped above its quota on several occasions since then).

In the most recent sign of Baghdad’s growing desperation for cash as its economy unravels, Iraq sought an upfront payment of about $2 billion in exchange for a long-term crude-supply contract as state coffers dwindle and school teachers go unpaid.

As Bloomberg reports, the letter from SOMO, the Iraqi state-owned agency in charge of petroleum exports, was first reported by the Iraq Oil Report.

“SOMO, on behalf of the Ministry of Oil, has the interest to propose a long-term crude-supply deal in exchange for prepayment for a fraction of the total allocated quantity,” according to the letter, which was marked strictly confidential.

The anxiety is rising as officials fear a repeat of the upheaval last year that brought down the government and saw hundreds of protesters killed.

All of which has led to the decision to devalue the Dinar… drastically.

As Bloomberg’s Khalid Al-Ansary reports, the central bank reduced the official rate to 1,450 dinar per dollar, the first devaluation since 2003, it said in a statement. That’s from about 1,190 previously. Dollars will be resold to local banks at 1,460 dinar apiece.

Inflation imminent? or hyperinflation?

The embattled nation’s central bank is taking the steps to avoid depleting its foreign-currency reserves…

Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, who came to power in May, has warned that the government will struggle to pay civil servants without raising more debt.

“In America Money Does Grow on Trees”

Full Commitment

This week provided additional confirmation that America is fully committed to a program of currency destruction.  Decades of terminal intelligence have gotten us to this special place.  We will have more on this in a moment.  But first some words on being fully committed.

Say hello to the provider of bacon… lots of bacon, in this case. [PT]

We have never gutted a hog.  But we hear it is a bloody mess.  The volume of blood that gushes out – as in, ‘bleeding like a stuck pig’ – is profuse.

Contemplating a bacon and egg breakfast plate reveals two types of commitments.  That of the chicken.  And that of the pig.  You may know this allegory.  The chicken is involved in providing for the breakfast.  It provides the eggs.  But the pig is fully committed to it.  For the pig must perish to provide the bacon.

America is presently bleeding like a stuck pig.  Public and private debts are hemorrhaging a bloody mess.  For example, the budget deficit for fiscal year 2020 which concluded on September 30 was $3.3 trillion.  By this, the federal government spent double what it generated via tax receipts and other confiscatory measures.  And the federal debt held by the public is now well over 100 percent of GDP.

The federal budget deficit, quarterly, as of Q2 2020. [PT]

There is no way the debt will be honestly paid.  It is mathematically impossible.  Nor will it be paid through an honest default.  That is politically unacceptable.

The debt, however, will be paid dishonestly.  It will be paid through dollar debasement.  America is fully committed to this.  Here’s why…

Words of Omission

Tuesday’s presidential debate has been called many things.  Most descriptions have cast it in a negative light.  Some political pundits used French to describe, in colorful terms, what type of show it was.

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

This Analyst Says Gold’s Pullback is Proof that Higher Prices Are to Come

Precious Metals Soaring

This week, Your News to Know rounds up the latest top stories involving gold and the overall economy. Stories include: Gold has more room to run, why central banks have been buying gold for over a decade, and two massive gold nuggets worth $250,000 found in Australia.

Standard Chartered: Gold has more to show this year despite hitting a new all-time high

For a steady asset such as gold, a rapid breach of its decade-old all-time high is quite a showing. Yet, according to multiple analysts, the metal could stagger market watchers some more by the end of the year. Since blazing past $2,000, gold has pulled back as some expected, yet seems unwilling to go below the $1,940 level if the previous two weeks are any indicator.

Standard Chartered Private Bank’s Manpreet Gill attributes gold’s correction to a slight recovery in the 10-year Treasury yield amid an increase in risk sentiment. If this is indeed the reason for the pullback, the development is actually positive for gold, as the general consensus is that sovereign bond yields are on a firm downwards spiral, with no central bank showing any inclination towards elevating its benchmark rate.

“We have quite a bit of one-sided positioning in gold and I think, you know, that’s actually unwound quite quickly. A lot of our proprietary indicators are telling us exactly that,” said Gill, while acknowledging that central bankers are favoring a cap on their bond yields.

In a recent note, Fitch Solutions’ analysts likewise said that gold should keep moving up for the rest of the year and pass its August high in doing so in the absence of any notable headwinds. “We expect gold prices to remain supported in the coming months with rising geopolitical tensions and an uneven and slow global economic recovery,” said the team in the note.

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

Mauldin: We Are On The Brink Of The Second “Great Depression.”

Mauldin: We Are On The Brink Of The Second “Great Depression.”

You really need to watch this video of a recent conversation between Ray Dalio and Paul Tudor Jones. Their part is about the first 40 minutes.

In this video, Ray highlights some problematic similarities between our times and the 1930s. Both feature:

  1. a large wealth gap
  2. the absence of effective monetary policy
  3. a change in the world order, in this case the rise of China and the potential for trade wars/technology wars/capital wars.

He threw in a few quick comments as their time was running out, alluding to the potential for the end of the world reserve system and the collapse of fiat monetary regimes.

Maybe it was in his rush to finish as their time is drawing to a close, but it certainly sounded a more challenging tone than I have seen in his writings.

Currency Wars

It brought to mind an essay I read last week from my favorite central banker, former BIS Chief Economist William White.

He was warning about potential currency wars, aiming particularly at the US Treasury’s seeming desire for a weaker dollar. Ditto for other governments around the world. He believes this is a prescription for disaster.

One possibility is that it might lead to a disorderly end to the current dollar based regime, which is already under strain for a variety of both economic and geopolitical reasons. To destroy an old, admittedly suboptimal, regime without having prepared a replacement could prove very costly to trade and economic growth.

Perhaps even worse, conducting a currency war implies directing monetary policy to something other than domestic price stability. There ceases to be a domestic anchor to constrain the expansion of central bank balance sheets.

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

FIAT CURRENCY ENDGAME: You Will Not Like This ONE BIT!

FIAT CURRENCY ENDGAME: You Will Not Like This ONE BIT!

No One Comes Back From This Uninjured. In one word, the devaluation is set to ESCALATE.

In fact, I term it Competitive Devaluation. There are several countries that will be the pioneers of it, but it will eventually reach the United States of America. In Europe and in Japan, we are closer to seeing it happening; in the next 2-5 years, you’ll hear about governments’ first official plans to do this.

They will NOT alert the media to notify the public to own gold and silver. They haven’t thus far (and they won’t going forward, either), and meanwhile they’ve been accumulating them at the fastest pace in more than half a century.

The central banks want to buy gold, uninterrupted. Since they do not buy silver, the mania that will ensue in that niche market will be huge.

Not just gold and silver stand to gain from devaluation; companies that are able to increase prices and not lose consumers will be great winners as well. These are the world-dominators with pricing power, and I will profile my top-5 holdings for the Endgame Decade (2020-2029) in a Special Report due to be published by September 30th.

Real estate prices in metropolitan areas will also continue to rise; these are hard assets that are difficult to increase in supply, but my analysis is that of the three – world-class companies, precious metals, and real estate, silver will be the BEST PERFORMER.

Courtesy: U.S. Global Investors

Central banks are not able to inflate the real debt levels away. The most extreme case of this is Japan, whose central bank has done ALMOST everything under the sun to relieve the country of its deflationary spiral and has failed miserably. 

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

Suffering the Profanity of Plentiful Cheap Money

Suffering the Profanity of Plentiful Cheap Money

What if the savings in your bank account lost 55 percent of its value over the last 12 months?  Would you be somewhat peeved?  Would you transfer some of your savings to another currency?

That was the favored approach in Argentina – where the official inflation rate’s 55 percent.  But no more.  On September 2, President Mauricio Macri resorted to capital controls to preserve the central bank’s foreign exchange reserves and prop up the peso.  What gives?

Just fifteen months ago Macri secured the biggest bailout in the International Monetary Fund’s history.  Now Argentina’s delaying payment to its creditors and is rapidly approaching what will be its third sovereign default this century.  On top of that, Macri’s Peronist rival Alberto Fernández will likely take his job come election day in October.

Alas, for Macri and his countrymen, a painful lesson is being exacted.  You can’t solve a debt problem with more debt.  Eventually the currency buckles and you’re left with two poisons to pick from: inflation or default.  With Macri’s latest capital controls scheme he’s choosing to take swigs of both.

Make of Argentina’s woes what you will.  Central bankers in the United States are also guilty of programs of mass money debasement.  They may have a bigger economy to better mask their malice.  But despite what the MMT delusionals say the day of reckoning always arrives – and always at the worst possible time.

Indeed, the U.S. dollar hasn’t lost 55 percent of its value over the last 12 months.  However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ own inflation calculator, the dollar’s lost 55 percent of its value since 1988.  In other words, it takes $1 to purchase what $0.45 could buy during President Reagan’s last year in office.

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

Peter Schiff Compares Trade War to “Battle at Little Bighorn”

Peter Schiff Compares Trade War to “Battle at Little Bighorn”

Peter Schiff Compares Trade War to Battle at Little Bighorn
Photo by Gage Skidmore  | CC BY | Photoshopped

Political commentators are increasingly critical of U.S. trade policy, particularly tariffs and the trade war with China. Radio host Peter Schiff went so far as to compare U.S. trade policies to General Custer and the Battle of Little Bighorn. Meanwhile, some economic red flags seem to support their worries.

In today’s polarized political climate, there is one topic both the Left and the Right seem to agree on: the trade war with China is eventually going to hurt the average American.

Radio host Peter Schiff has been hammering on the economic dangers posed by tariffs for months. He even compared the resulting trade war with China to General Custer’s Last Stand.

“General George Custer met his doom charging into a battle he thought he could win against an opponent he did not understand. Based on [certain] views about the fast-emerging trade war with China, it looks to me that [the U.S.]…is charging into an economic version of Little Bighorn.

“By mistaking the real nature of international trade, the costs of tariffs, the effects of currency movements, and the supposed ease with which the United States could quickly re-establish itself as a low-cost manufacturer, [the U.S.] risks shredding the safety nets that have undergirded the U.S. economy for decades and plunging us into a war we are ill-equipped to fight.”

Those are strong words. But is Schiff’s Little Bighorn analogy accurate? Are these tariffs pushing the U.S. toward a disastrous economic “ambush” that could devastate America’s economy? Let’s look at some economic indicators to see what they point to.

Currency Manipulation

Marc Chandler, chief market strategist at Bannockburn, agrees that China’s recent currency devaluation is part of an escalating trade war: “This is another step in the currency war. This also makes trade more difficult.”

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

Powell Rate Cut Unleashes Volatility Tsunami

Powell Rate Cut Unleashes Volatility Tsunami

It wasn’t supposed to work this way.

In the rate cut playbook envisioned by Trump, Powell’s July 31st rate cut was supposed to send stocks higher while crushing the dollar. However, when the FOMC announce a “mid-cycle”, 25bps cut, the outcome was not only a surge in the dollar but also a surge in volatility not seen so far this year.

The sequence of events is familiar to all by now: at first, Powell’s rate cut spooked the market which had been expected either a 50bps cut, or an explicit promise of an easing cycle. It got neither, and neither did Trump, who the very next day realized that with the Fed now explicitly focusing on global uncertainties, read trade war, as a catalyst for future rate cuts as demonstrated by the following infamous chart

…. decided to escalate the trade war with China by announcing 10% tariffs on the remaining $300BN in Chinese imports, sending stocks and bond yields plunging, and the market pricing in as much as 100bps of more rate cuts in 12 months, forcing Powell to cut far more than just another 25bps or so as the Fed Chair suggested in the July FOMC meeting.

China immediately retaliated by devaluing the Yuan below 7.00 for the first time since 2008 and halting US ag imports, which in turn prompted the US Treasury to declare China a currency manipulator. Meanwhile, China’s yuan devaluation means the White House is set to unveil even higher tariffs, resulting in an even weaker yuan, and so on, in a toxic feedback loop that may soon escalate the trade and currency war into an all-out shooting war.

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

Hyperinflation is Becoming Common in The 21st Century

Hyperinflation is Becoming Common in The 21st Century

How destructive is hyperinflation? To quote economist Thomas Sowell, “Hyperinflation can take virtually your entire life’s savings, without the government having to bother raising the official tax rate at all.”

A number of countries are currently experiencing the destructive effects of hyperinflation.

With the Venezuelan Bolivar at above 2,000,000 percent inflation, buying anything, even if something should be available, is virtually impossible. At towns along the Columbian border, food and medicine are bought with dollars or pesos. The Bolivar has simply lost any kind of value.

Foreign currency has become a critical means of survival in Venezuela. More than 40,000 Venezuelans, desperate for work and food, cross the border to Columbia each day. If they find work, they are paid in pesos. Should food be available, that, too, is purchased with pesos. Bolivars have become almost irrelevant to many Venezuelans. Most other currencies are eagerly accepted.

During the recent blackout that left Venezuela in the dark, food and medicine could only be bought with cash, as the electronic payment systems were non-functional. In Venezuela, cash means any foreign currency. In Maracaibo, the country’s second largest city, only U.S. currency greater than the dollar bill was accepted.

Foreign currency becomes available through friends and family who have permanently escaped the country and can send back cash. Those without such connections suffer. Some stores won’t accept the bolivar, and those that do charge a price Venezuelans cannot afford. Anyone lucky enough to have a job finds that the minimum wage of 18,000 bolivars, or $6.00, does not buy much.

With Venezuela in a state of turmoil as Maduro is fighting for his life, even the scarce goods that used to occupy the shelves are becoming rarer. This, of course, makes them more expensive, even when paid for with U.S. dollars. Even the dollar is becoming a victim of Venezuelan inflation.

 …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…

Weekly Commentary: “Whatever They Want” Coming Home to Roost

Weekly Commentary: “Whatever They Want” Coming Home to Roost

Let’s begin with global. China’s yuan (CNY) traded to 6.9644 to the dollar in early-Friday trading, almost matching the low (vs. dollar) from December 2016 (6.9649). CNY is basically trading at lows going back to 2008 – and has neared the key psychological 7.0 level. CNY rallied late in Friday trading to close the week at 6.9435. From Bloomberg (Tian Chen): “Three traders said at least one big Chinese bank sold the dollar, triggering stop-losses.” Earlier, a PBOC governor “told a briefing that the central bank would continue taking measures to stabilize sentiment. We have dealt with short-sellers of the yuan a few years ago, and we are very familiar with each other. I think we both have vivid memories of the past.”
The PBOC eventually won that 2016 skirmish with the CNY “shorts”. In general, however, you don’t want your central bank feeling compelled to do battle against the markets. It’s no sign of strength. For “developing” central banks, in particular, it has too often in the past proved a perilous proposition. Threats and actions are taken, and a lot can ride on the market’s response. In a brewing confrontation, the market will test the central bank. If the central bank’s response appears ineffective, markets will instinctively pounce.

Often unobtrusively, the stakes can grow incredibly large. There’s a dynamic that has been replayed in the past throughout the emerging markets. Bubbles are pierced and “hot money” heads for the exits. Central banks and government officials then work aggressively to bolster their faltering currencies. These efforts appear to stabilize the situation for a period of time, although the relative calm masks assertive market efforts to hedge against future currency devaluation in the derivatives markets.

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

“What A Disaster”: Chaos Returns To Venezuela One Day After Massive Devaluation

Just one day after Venezuela’s historic currency devaluation, which lopped off 5 zeros from the currency and prices while bizarrely pegging the “sovereign Bolivar” – the country’s latest currency incarnation – to the petro, an oil-backed cryptocurrency (which has been banned by the US Treasury), chaos has predictably returned to the country with the greatest petroleum deposits in the world…. and hyperinflation failed to depart for even one day.

That what Henrique Rosales discovered when he went to an ATM on Tuesday – the day after Venezuela’s historic currency transformation took place – to withdraw Venezuela’s new currency: he found it dispensed a maximum of 10 sovereign bolivars a day, the equivalent of 15 U.S. cents.

“This money is going to disappear out of my hands in no time,” said the 29-year-old waiter, who told the Wall Street Journal he hasn’t seen cash in five months. He hasn’t been able to pay for bus fare and walks several miles a day from his hilltop slum to the seafood eatery where he works.

“I’m realizing the government has no plan to get us out of this nightmare. What a disaster.

Rosales’ reaction was predictable (we previewed the chaos that lay in store for the Latin American socialist paradise over the weekend): he is among the many Venezuelans swept by confusion and anger as the government of President Nicolás Maduro rolled out its latest economic overhaul as part of its struggle to keep up with the world’s greatest hyperinflation, surpassing even that of the Weimar Republic.

Maduro called the measures “a really impressive magical formula” intended to stabilize the economy, including a new, highly devalued currency as well as tax and wage increases.

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

Venezuela In Chaos After Maduro Announces Massive 95% Devaluation, New FX Rate Tied To Cryptocurrency

Chaos and confusion erupted across Venezuela, and most stores were shuttered on Saturday, after president Nicolas Maduro announced that the government would enact a massive currency devaluation, implement a new minimum wage, hike taxes, and also raise gasoline prices for most citizens even as the country struggles with the greatest hyperinflation on record, surpassing even that of the Weimar Republic.

As a result of the enacted actions, the new version of the bolivar will be pegged to the value of the state cryptocurrency, the etro, which according to Bloomberg amounts to a 95% devaluation of the official rate, and will trade in line with where the black market was; the government will also raise the minimum wage more than 3,000 percent,  which works out to about $30 a month.

Maduro said the new currency, set to enter circulation on Monday, will be called the “sovereign bolivar” and will be based on the petro, which is valued at $60 or 3,600 sovereign bolivars, after the redenomination planned for August 20 slashes five zeroes off the national currency. The minimum wage will be set at half that, 1,800 sovereign bolivars.  The government would cover the minimum wage increase at small and medium-size companies for 90 days, Maduro added. It was not clear what happens after.

“They’ve dollarized our prices. I am petrolizing salaries and petrolizing prices,” Maduro explained in a Friday televised address. “We are going to convert the petro into the reference that pegs the entire economy’s movements.”

In other words, for the first time ever, an oil-linked cryptocurrency effectively replaces the sovereign currency. As a result the petro, which will fluctuate dramatically, will be used to set prices for goods. The package of measures combine the necessary with the baffling, Luis Vicente Leon, president of the Caracas-based pollster Datanalisis, said in a Twitter post on Friday.

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

“Virtually Everybody Knew This Was Coming”

Was it Turkey’s “executive presidency” and its unwillingness to hike rates in the face of soaring inflation? Or maybe the record global debt accumulated over the past decade? Maybe the artificially low interest rates? Or perhaps it was the pervasive current account deficits amid easy outside capital. How about the rapid slowdown in China, its escalating trade war with the US, and the Yuan devaluation? Or perhaps it’s just the rising US interest rates and global quantitative tightening soaking up billions in excess liquidity?

However one justifies the current emerging market crisis, one thing is clear “virtually everybody knew this was coming.

At least that’s the common theme according to SocGen’s Albert Edwards, who after an extended absence has returned, with a new note looking at the turmoil gripping the EM sector. It’s hardly new territory for the SocGen strategist, who prior to his current role, was most famous for his correct predictions and observations on the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997.

Fast forward some 21 years, when the veteran SocGen strategist believes the current turmoil boils down to two things: the Fed’s ongoing tightening – a point we discussed earlier this week in “Forget About Turkey: Asia Is The Elephant In The Room” – and China’s rapid devaluation. Turmoil, which as Nedbank noted previously, is about much more than just Turkey, which is merely the symptomatic “tip of the iceberg.”

Here’s Edwards’ take on where we stand:

Many commentators have thought for some time that Turkey was a macro-accident waiting to happen. But the key issue is not Turkey’s idiosyncratic macro problems. The unfolding crisis in EM is the direct result of Fed tightening and the strong dollar. The Fed always raises rates until something breaks.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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