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Keynesian Ideas Can Only Make Things Worse

In the New York Times on September 8, 2020, Paul Krugman suggested that

“The CARES Act, enacted in March, gave the unemployed an extra $600 a week in benefits. This supplement played a crucial role in limiting extreme hardship; poverty may even have gone down”.

For Krugman and many economic commentators, it is the duty of the government to support the economy whenever it falls into an economic slump. Following in the footsteps of John Maynard Keynes, most economists hold that one cannot have complete trust in a market economy, which is seen as inherently unstable.  If left free the market economy could lead to self-destruction. Hence, there is the need for governments and central banks to manage the economy. Successful management in the Keynesian framework is done by influencing overall spending.

It is spending that generates income. Spending by one individual becomes income for another individual according to the Keynesian framework of thinking. Hence the more that is spent the better it is going to be. What drives the economy then is spending. If during a recession, consumers fail to spend then it is the role of the government to step in and boost overall spending in order to grow the economy.

In the Keynesian framework of thinking the output that an economy can generate with a given pool of resources (i.e. labour, tools and machinery, and technology) without causing inflation, is labelled as potential output. Hence the greater the pool of resources, all other things being equal, the more output can be generated.

If for whatever reasons the demand for the produced goods is not strong enough this leads to an economic slump. (Inadequate demand for goods leads to only a partial use of existent labour and capital goods).  In this framework then, it makes a lot of sense to boost government spending in order to strengthen demand and eliminate the economic slump.

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

Inflation as a Tool of the Radical Left

Inflation as a Tool of the Radical Left

dollars

“Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the Capitalist System was to debauch its currency….Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer way of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”1

Keynes does not provide a concrete source backing his words but deliberately used the phrase “is said to have declared.” For a good reason. As Frank W. Fetter (1899–1991) pointed out, there is no evidence at hand that Lenin actually said or wrote these words, and anyone quoting Lenin on inflation would be indeed be referring to Keynes’s opinion.2

Be that as it may, it is pretty obvious that Lenin had a good understanding of the evils of inflation caused by the issuance of large amounts of unbacked paper money. He writes:

There is another side to the problem of raising the fixed grain prices. This raising of prices involves a new chaotic increase in the issuing of paper money, a further increase in the cost of living, increased financial disorganisation and the approach of financial collapse. Everybody admits that the issuing of paper money constitutes the worst form of compulsory loan, that it most of all affects the conditions of the workers, of the poorest section of the population, and that it is the chief evil engendered by financial disorder.3

Indeed price inflation caused by the increase in the quantity of money does not only cause serious economic problems. It also brings severe sociopolitical problems. Inflation makes most people poorer, degrades their social status, destroys their dreams of a better life. People become desperate and open to radical political programs.

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

“Inflation” and America’s Accelerating Class War

“Inflation” and America’s Accelerating Class War

Those who don’t see the fragmentation, the scarcities and the battlelines being drawn will be surprised by the acceleration of the unraveling.

I recently came across the idea that inflation is a two-factor optimization problem: inflation is necessary for the macro-economy (or so we’re told) and so the trick for policy makers (and their statisticians who measure the economy) is to maximize inflation in the economy but only to the point that it doesn’t snuff out businesses and starve workers to death.

From this perspective, households have to grin and bear the negative consequences of inflation for the good of the whole economy.

This narrative, so typical of economics, ignores the core reality of “inflation” in America: it’s a battleground for the class war that’s accelerating. Allow me to explain.

“Inflation” affects different classes very differently. I put “inflation” in italics because it’s not one phenomenon, it’s numerous phenomena crammed into one deceptively simple word.

When “inflation” boosts the value of homes, stocks, bonds, diamonds, quatloos etc. to the moon, those who own these assets are cheering. When “inflation” reduces the purchasing power of wages, those whose only income is earned from their labor suffer a decline in their lifestyles as their wages buy fewer goods and services.

They are suffering while the wealthy owners of soaring assets are cheering.

The Federal Reserve and federal authorities are not neutral observers in this war. The Fed only cares about two things: enriching the banking sector and further enriching the already-rich.

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

A Powerful Ally to the Fed Just Boosted the Prospects for Inflation

Inflation Calculator

This week, Your News to Know rounds up the latest top stories involving gold and the overall economy. Stories include: ECB could follow the Fed’s pro-inflation policy, precious metals in a pandemic, and legendary silver coin to be sold for more than $10 million at an auction.

Gold could move up further as the ECB looks to keep the euro down

If one believes that central bank policies are a primary driver of gold prices, the yellow metal should have plenty of room to go up even as it sits above its previous all-time high. Besides the Federal Reserve’s openness to inflation, gold should be buoyed by a surge of the euro and the European Central Bank’s (ECB) efforts to contain it.

Experts like Mechanical Engineering Industry Association’s chief economist Ralph Wiechers and Natixis strategist Dirk Schumacher note that an overly strong euro poses problems for the eurozone. It hinders both exporters and importers, slows the European economy, and can cause inflationary spikes in individual countries.

While the ECB might not be able to control the euro as easily, Schumacher’s firm expects them to try and push it down by introducing looser monetary policies. BNP Paribas’ analysts share a similar view, stating in a recent note that the ECB would also voice its desire to keep the euro lower. This was exemplified when former ECB vice president Vitor Constancio stated in an interview that the ECB would follow in the Fed’s wake by allowing inflation to run above the targeted rate for periods of time.

Strong currencies are among the biggest headwinds for gold prices, and inflation is one of its most powerful drivers. Given recent statements by officials from both central banks, it should come as no surprise that prominent investor Peter Schiff points to inflation as the next big thing that will power gold’s gains.

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

Inflation, deflation and other fallacies

Inflation, deflation and other fallacies

There can be little doubt that macroeconomic policies are failing around the world. The fallacies being exposed are so entrenched that there are bound to be twists and turns yet to come.

This article explains the fallacies behind inflation, deflation, economic performance and interest rates. They arise from the modern states’ overriding determination to access the wealth of its electorate instead of being driven by a genuine and considered concern for its welfare. Monetary inflation, which has become runaway, transfers wealth to the state from producers and consumers, and is about to accelerate. Everything about macroeconomics is now with that single economically destructive objective in mind.

Falling prices, the outcome of commercial competition and sound money are more aligned with the interests of ordinary people, but that is so derided by neo-Keynesians that today almost without exception everyone believes in inflationism.

And finally, we conclude that the escape from failing fiat will lead to rising nominal interest rates, with all the consequences which that entails. The inevitable outcome is a flight to commodities, including gold and silver, despite rising interest rates for fiat money.

Demand-siders and supply-siders

In a macroeconomics-driven world, economic fallacies abound. They are periodically trashed when disproved, only to arise again as received wisdom for a new generation of macroeconomists determined to justify their statist beliefs. The most egregious of these is that inflation can only occur as the handmaiden of economic growth, while deflation is similarly linked to a recession spinning out of control into the maelstrom of a slump.

This error is the opposite of the facts.

Conventionally, macroeconomists split into two groups. There are the Keynesians who believe in stimulating demand to ensure there will always be markets for goods and services, which they attempt to achieve through additional spending by governments and by discouraging saving, because it is consumption deferred.

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

Market Update: The Fed’s Big Lie

Market Update: The Fed’s Big Lie

Ignore Powell’s happy talk. The Fed is desperate and merely playing for time.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell announced on Thursday that the Fed will now shift its focus from hitting inflation targets and instead prioritize closing “unemployment shortfalls”.

This gives it the aircover to do “whatever it takes” until the unemployment rate is back down into the low single digits. Inflation can now run hotter than 2%, rates can stay at 0% (or go negative) for the next decade+, more QE…. all is fair game now in the pursuit of lower unemployment.

Essentially, the Fed is now tripling-down on the same failed policies that have created today’s zombie economy and the worst economic inequality in our nation’s history.

Rich 5% own 2/3 of the wealth

Perhaps the folks at the Fed are smarter than we think, and there’s actually a grand plan they’re pursuing that’s going to work out to society’s benefit?

Sadly no, reveals this week’s expert guest, Danielle DiMartino-Booth. Danielle knows the Fed inside and out, as she worked as a consultant for nearly a decade to Richard Fischer, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, including helping deal with the Great Financial Crisis. She knows how the organization runs, as well as the specific people running it.

And her assessment is that the Fed is trapped in a nightmare of its own making and is merely playing for time at this point. Everything it throws at the situation is designed to hopefully get the system to limp through the next quarter or two without breaking, at which point they’ll scramble to come up with the next short-term “solution”.

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

What Are You Going To Do As Our Money Dies?

What Are You Going To Do As Our Money Dies?

Central banks are killing our currency to protect the already-rich

In our recent article It’s Time To Position For The Endgame, Chris Martenson explained how the US Federal Reserve and its sister central banks around the world have been engaged in the largest and most egregious wealth transfer in all of history — one that has been drastically exacerbated by the covid-19 pandemic.

The official response, tremendous monetary stimulus by the central banks paired with massive fiscal stimulus from national legislatures, has been pitched as “saving the system”.

Yet, in reality, it has merely served to accelerate the transfer of capital from the public into the pockets of the already-rich.

Anyone with eyes can see how the central banks have abandoned all pretense of monetary fiduciary responsibility and have simply cranked their printing presses up to “maximum”:

In concert with this surge of liquidity, national legislatures have added their own emergency measures. In the US alone, the CARES Act pushed nearly $3 trillion in fiscal stimulus into the system, and will highly likely soon be followed by another $1-3 trillion depending on which party’s bill gets passed.

Despite these staggering sums, the amount of money trickling into the average US household has been meager and is drying up.

Instead, these $trillions are mostly finding their way into the coffers and share prices of corporations. We have seen the fastest and most extreme V-shaped recovery in the history of the financial markets since the March swoon. The major indices are now back to record all-time-highs, despite the major carnage covid-19 has wreaked on the global economy.

So who benefits from that? Oh yeah, the people who own those companies. The already-rich.

Remember: 84% of all stocks are owned by the top 10% of households.

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

Is High Inflation Now A Bigger Danger Than A Deflationary Crash?

Is High Inflation Now A Bigger Danger Than A Deflationary Crash?

What’s the more likely event at this point: a deflationary crash or runaway inflation?

For a long time, Peak Prosperity co-founder Adam Taggart and I have hewed to the “Ka-POOM!” theory, which states that a major deflation will scare the central banks so badly that they overreact and pour too much liquidity into the system, thereby destroying it.

To visualize how this will play out, think of what happened in Beirut this week. Customs officials there stored thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer at their seaport, for years.  The pile just sat there doing absolutely nothing.

After years of inaction, the port authorities became lulled into the erroneous conclusion that nothing would ever happen.

But then one day a spark came to life, starting a fire, and then all at once — POOM! — the entire thing blew up with devastating effect.

This analogy works pretty well here as we approach the Keynesian endgame facing the global economy.  The pile of $trillions in bad debts issued over the past decades has been the fertilizer.  Covid-19 was the spark. And now we’re simply waiting for the entire economic and financial system to explode.

The same process began in the US and has been unfolding across the world ever since after the gold standard was abandoned in 1971.  Untethered from any restraint, all that was left to staunch the flow of red ink was self-restraint and a concern for the future, both of which were in short supply.

Not only has debt been growing far faster than income (GDP) at the national level, but debts have been growing exponentially (i.e., ‘compounding’) ever since 1971:

That debt growth is a nearly perfect exponential curve upon which the entire systems of politics, banking and the economy have come to rely.

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

On Inflation (& How It’s Not What Happens Next)

Everyone is convinced the dollar is going to inflate because more dollars are entering the system.

But are they really?

That is the question that sparked a succinct Twitter thread by Travis K (@ColoradoTravis) explaining why inflation is not what happens next (emphasis ours):

Let’s take a look at how dollars are born and how they die.

A dollar is ‘born’ when a loan is made against collateral on a bank’s balance sheet. Banks can issue multiples of dollars for every dollar of collateral they have.

It’s this multiplication effect that expands the amount of total dollars.

Generally, banks are limited in how much they can lend – let’s say it’s 10x their collateral. So for every dollar of collateral they have, they can lend 10 dollars.

By so lending, they ‘birth’ new dollars into the system.

As banks lend more, more dollars are created and the money supply increases. This multiplicative lending is the chief driver of total dollars in the system.

Banks lending a lot → more total dollars and inflation.

When do dollars die?

Dollars ‘die’ when debts are paid back. This reverses the multiplication effect of lending, leading to less total dollars in the system and a contraction of total dollars in circulation.

So what is the Fed ‘printer’ doing – creating dollars, right? Actually no, not really.

The printer only increases the collateral banks have to lend against. It does not directly ‘birth’ dollars, only *potential* dollars.

Banks are still the midwives, and the only ones who birth dollars into the system by lending.

The Fed can increase collateral by 1000x but unless the banks lend against that collateral, dollars will not enter circulation for you and I to interact with.

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

Got Wood? Lumber Prices Explode To Record Highs Amid “Supply Chain Screw Ups”

When builders go to the lumberyard, they expect two-by-fours in ample supply. As Galvnews.com reports, it’s like expecting to find milk at the supermarket.

But, in recent months, something has changed… dramatically… Since the lows in early April, the price of Lumber (futures) has exploded 200%…

“We had to pay three times the price,” exclaims Ron Woods, the owner of Firehouse Builders, a general contracting company that specializes in building fences, decks and other smaller projects.

In fact, the surge in prices sent Lumber to its most expensive…ever!

A building boom? This is “great news” some might say as it indicates ‘demand’ is high and the economy is “getting back to normal,” right?

Wrong!

As Woods explains“the explanation they had for us was that COVID-19 shut down the plants that treat the wood, and that finally caught up.”

So, it’s the supply stupid! And looking at the US construction spending data confirms it is anything but ‘demand’:

“The supply chain was screwed up,” said Wilson, the owner of Wilson Construction in Galveston.

“Dimension sizes were in limited supplies; even something as simple as a two-by-four-by-twelve Southern yellow pine treated was in extremely short supply.”

In fact, as Galvnews.com reportsthe price changes are affecting all sorts of basic building materials, said Al Fichera, the owner of Fichera Builders in Galveston. In the past two weeks, sheets of plywood have gone from $15 a sheet to $34 a sheet, he said.

It’s normal for the price of building supplies to fluctuate, he said, but that kind of spike is unusual.

The situation now is that builders have to search wide and act fast to obtain the material they need.

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

Venezuela Has Gone Cashless (And That’s Not All)

Venezuela Has Gone Cashless (And That’s Not All)

Writing about the current situation in my country is becoming increasingly difficult. Just checking my personal chats with all the information I receive is heartbreaking. People I have known my entire life are having a very hard time and are being harassed.

Collecting information from friends and acquaintances has been very hard for me. Writing about it all without feeling the effect has proven to be very challenging. Keeping the cold shadow over my heart at bay when I talk with people is the reason for the delay in my writing.

One of the biggest pieces of news recently is that Venezuela has gone almost completely cashless. But that’s not all.

What happened to the reported economic recovery?

Disinformation. That is what happened.

National cash is gone. Electronic is the only currency accepted. Some exceptions are made in border cities, like San Cristobal. USD or Colombian Pesos are accepted there.

Gini Coefficient is used to measure inequality. Ranging from (1) 0% to (1) 100%: a higher Gini coefficient means greater inequality. According to Gini, Venezuela is around 39. One of the lowest in the region, with a trend towards equity.

This is absolutely laughable.

Why? Two factors. The first one being the absence of reliable data on Venezuela. The World Bank estimates, due to lack of information, the economic chaos, and total absence of transparency, it is quite difficult to trace the data. Even if some data is found, it’s going to be very hard to verify it and can’t be trusted. The latest national survey on living conditions (Encovi) indicates this coefficient at 51, which would rank it as the most unequal in Latin America after Brazil.

What about the cost of essential items?

These are a few of the most recent food prices. Amidst crisis, chaos and a pandemic they have remained relatively the same.

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

Dollar’s Purchasing Power Drops to Lowest Ever. Inflation Heats Up, as Fed Wants, After Simultaneous Supply & Demand Shocks

Dollar’s Purchasing Power Drops to Lowest Ever. Inflation Heats Up, as Fed Wants, After Simultaneous Supply & Demand Shocks

“We’re not even thinking about thinking about” slowing the decline of the dollar’s purchasing power — and thereby labor’s purchasing power.

A supply shock and a demand shock came together during the Pandemic, and it produced chaos in the pricing environment. There was a sudden collapse in demand in some segments of the economy – restaurants, gasoline, jet fuel, for example – and a surge in demand in other segments, such as eating at home, and anything to do with ecommerce, including transportation services focused on it.

These shifts came together with supply-chain interruptions and supply chains that were unprepared for the big shifts, leading to shortages in some parts of the economy – the supply shock. There were empty shelves in stores, while product was piling up with no buyers in other parts of the economy.

The sectors surrounding gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel fuel – oil and gas drilling, equipment manufacturers, transportation services, refineries, etc. – were thrown into turmoil as demand vanished, leading to a total collapse in energy prices. In April, in a bizarre moment in the history of the oil business, the price of the US benchmark crude WTI collapsed to negative -$37 a barrel.

Since then, the price of crude oil has risen sharply (now at positive +$41 a barrel), as demand for gasoline has returned to near-normal while demand for jet fuel remains in collapse-mode, as people are driving to go on vacations, instead of flying, and as business travel is essentially shut down.

As a result, for a few months, all of the inflation data was going haywire, with some prices plunging and others spiking. This is now being worked out of the system.

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

Did the Fed Just Unwittingly Light the Spark Towards 13% Inflation?

Did the Fed Just Unwittingly Light the Spark Towards 13% Inflation?

fed spark

The Fed just announced a major shift in its approach to inflation, and the move is not getting nearly the attention that it deserves. That is, of course, unless you don’t mind inflation moving higher than any other time in recent memory.

Writing for ThinkAdvisor, Tim Duy, senior director of the Oregon Economic Forum at the University of Oregon, explains the potential for the upcoming shift:

Having learned a hard lesson in the last recovery — don’t tighten monetary policy too early — the central bank is leaning in the opposite direction. In practice, that means the Fed will not just emphasize actual inflation over forecasted inflation, but will also attempt to push the inflation rate above its 2% target. It’s a whole new ballgame.

The Fed has already come close to “overheating” the economy in the past, and just last year, started to let inflation “run hot.”

Thanks to the pandemic, the “official” rate of inflation has cooled off a bit this year. But now, it appears the Fed’s own Governor Lael Brainard sees inflation as unbalanced, with the only solution being to offset that imbalance and focus.

Here’s how the Fed is setting the stage for rising inflation again…

Brainard made this fairly clear in recent commentary captured on Robert Wenzel’s Economic Policy Journal:

Brainard pointed out that “research suggests that refraining from liftoff until inflation reaches 2% could lead to some modest temporary overshooting, which would help offset the previous underperformance.”

Wenzel provided an analogy to illustrate the situation, writing: “This type of goose-inflation policy action is the equivalent of the early 20th-century medical practice of prescribing smoking to treat asthma.”

You can see the official CPI inflation for the U.S. illustrated below, before much (if any) change in Fed policy has taken place:

cpi inflation

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

Inflation

Inflation

Inflation

Remember all those “green shoots?”

That was the ubiquitous phrase used by White House officials and TV talking heads in 2009 to describe how the U.S. economy was coming back to life after the 2008 global financial crisis.

The problem was we did not get green shoots, we got more like brown weeds.

The economy did recover, yes, but it was the slowest recovery in U.S. history.

After the green shoots theory had been discredited, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner promised a “recovery summer” in 2010.

That didn’t happen either.

The recovery did continue, but it took years for the stock market to return to its previous highs and even longer for unemployment to come down to levels that could be regarded as close to full employment.

Now, in the aftermath of the 2020 pandemic and market crash, we’re getting the same happy talk.

Green Shoots, or Brown Weeds?

The White House is talking about “pent-up demand” as the economy reopens and consumers flock to stores and restaurants to make up for the lost spending during the March to July pandemic lockdown.

But, the data shows that the “pent-up demand” theory is just as much of a mirage as the green shoots we heard about a decade ago..

Many of the businesses that closed have failed in the meantime. They will never reopen and those lost jobs are never coming back. Even people who kept their jobs are not spending like it’s 2019, they’re saving at record levels.

Meanwhile, the “reopening” of the economy is now in doubt.

In some cities, the reopening was derailed by riots that left shopping districts in ruins. In other cities, the reopening was stopped in its tracks by new outbreaks of the virus that led to new lockdowns and strict application of rules on wearing masks and social distancing.

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

Money Supply Growth in May Again Surges to an All-Time High

MONEY SUPPLY GROWTH IN MAY AGAIN SURGES TO AN ALL-TIME HIGH

Money supply growth surged to another all-time high in May, following April’s all-time high that came in the wake of unprecedented quantitative easing, central bank asset purchases, and various stimulus packages.

The growth rate has never been higher, with the 1970s the only period that comes close. It was expected that money supply growth would surge in recent months. This usually happens in the wake of the early months of a recession or financial crisis. The magnitude of the growth rate, however, was unexpected.

During May 2020, year-over-year (YOY) growth in the money supply was at 29.8 percent. That’s up from April’s rate of 21.3 percent, and up from May 2019’s rate of 2.15 percent. Historically, this is a very large surge in growth both month over month and year over year. It is also quite a reversal from the trend that only just ended in August of last year, when growth rates were nearly bottoming out around 2 percent. In August, the growth rate hit a 120-month low, falling to the lowest growth rates we’d seen since 2007.

tms1.png

tms

The money supply metric used here—the “true” or Rothbard-Salerno money supply measure (TMS)—is the metric developed by Murray Rothbard and Joseph Salerno, and is designed to provide a better measure of money supply fluctuations than M2. The Mises Institute now offers regular updates on this metric and its growth. This measure of the money supply differs from M2 in that it includes Treasury deposits at the Fed (and excludes short-time deposits, traveler’s checks, and retail money funds).

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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