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Olduvai III: Catacylsm
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How a Fragile Euro May Not Survive the Next Crisis

How a Fragile Euro May Not Survive the Next Crisis


A big US monetary inflation bang brought the euro into existence. Here’s a prediction: It’s death will occur in response to a different type of US monetary bang — the sudden emergence of a “deflationary interlude.” And this could come sooner than many expect.

The explanation of this sphynx-like puzzle starts with Paul Volcker’s abandonment of the road to sound money in 1985/6. The defining moment came when the then Fed Chief joined with President Reagan’s new Treasury Secretary, James Baker, in a campaign to devalue the dollar. The so-called “Plaza Accord”  of 1985 launched the offensive.

Volcker, the once notorious devaluation warrior of the Nixon Administration (as its Treasury under-secretary), never changed his spots, seeing large US trade deficits as dangerous. The alternative diagnosis — that in the early mid-1980s these were a transitory counterpart to increased US economic dynamism and a resurgent global demand for a now apparently hard dollar — just did not register with this top official.

Hence the opportunity to restore sound money. But this comes very rarely in history — only in fact, where high inflation has induced general political revulsion (as for example after the Civil War) — was inflation snuffed out. In the European context this meant the end of the brief hard-Deutsche-mark (DM) era and the birth of the soft euro.

The run-up of the DM in 1985-7 against other European currencies, as provoked by the US re-launch of monetary inflation, tipped the balance of political power inside Germany in favor of the European Monetary Union (EMU) project. The big exporting companies, the backbone of the ruling Christian Democrat Union (CDU) under Chancellor Kohl, won the day. The hard DM, an evident threat to their profits, had to go. The monetarist regime in Germany tottered towards a final collapse.

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

Inflation v Deflation–State Finances

There is a general belief, and that is all it is, that state finances fare better in an inflationary environment than a deflationary one. This perception arises from the transfer of wealth from lenders to the state through a devaluation of the currency, which occurs with monetary inflation, compared with the transfer of wealth from the state to its creditors through deflation. The effect is undoubtedly true, even though it is played down by governments, but it ignores what happens to continuing government obligations and finances.

This article looks at this aspect of government finances in the longer term, first on the route to eventual currency collapse which governments create for themselves by ensuring a continuing devaluation of their currencies, and then in a sound money environment with a positive outcome, for which there is good precedent. This is the second article exposing the fallacies of supposed advantages of inflation over deflation, the first being posted here.

Inflationary policies

While central bankers have convinced themselves, in defiance of normal human behaviour, that consumption is only stimulated by the prospect of higher prices, there can be little doubt that the unmentioned sub-text is the supposed benefits to borrowers in industry and for government itself. Furthermore, the purpose of gaining control over interest rates from free markets is to reduce the general level of interest rates paid to lenders, further robbing them of the benefits of making their capital available to willing borrowers.

All this is in defiance of the principles behind contract law, but the courts do not accept that the unbacked state-issued currency of today is no different from the gold-backed money of yesteryear, nor the same as tomorrow’s further debased currency. Tax on interest is an added distortion, reducing net interest received by holders of depreciating currency even more.

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

US Stock Market – An Accident Waiting to Happen

We have recently discussed the sorry state of the junk bond market, as well as the noteworthy decline in the annual growth rate of US money supply aggregates. The latter has finally manifested itself not only in terms of narrow monetary aggregates like M1 (see chart) and AMS (“Austrian money supply”, a.k.a. TMS-1, the narrow true money supply), but also in the broader true money supply aggregate TMS-2.

awhPhoto credit: Keith Maniac

As a reminder, here is the most recent chart of the year-on-year growth rate of TMS-2 :

1-TMS-2, annual rate of growthYear-on-year growth in money TMS-2 has declined to its slowest pace since November of 2008, shortly after Ben Bernanke’s money printing orgy had been unleashed – click to enlarge.

Below is a chart of the annual growth rate of narrow money AMS from the transcript of the October advisory board meeting of the Incrementum Fund. US money AMS is calculated by Dr. Frank Shostak. The chart shown below originally appeared in his AAS Economics Weekly Report of October 5, 2015.

As you can see, the growth rate of the narrow true money supply has fallen off the proverbial cliff recently. It is fair to assume that it will continue to be a leading indicator for the growth rate of TMS-2. Steven Saville of the Speculative Investor has recently mentioned that the sharp growth in euro area money supply (a chart of the growth differential between US and euro area AMS can be seen here) could well help to keep asset prices up longer, by offsetting the slowdown in US money supply growth to some extent.

This idea certainly has merit, as there exists empirical evidence to this effect. However, the US stock market will likely continue to be the leading international stock market. Should leveraged positions in the US market run into trouble, it will affect “risk asset” prices nearly everywhere. The danger that this could soon happen is clearly growing:

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

Planning begins for a euro-free Europe – Ludwig von Mises Institute Canada

Planning begins for a euro-free Europe – Ludwig von Mises Institute Canada.

From today’s Open Europe news summary:

In an interview with RTL, Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem admitted that the Dutch government looked at what would happen if plans to save the euro “didn’t succeed”. His predecessor Jan Kees de Jager added separately that the Netherlands had worked on the issue with Germany and that teams of experts looked at how the Guilder could be reintroduced.
Notice that the Dutch are consulting with Germany in planning for the demise of the euro. In my opinion the Dutch would not reintroduce the guilder; they would decide to become a deutsche mark country, as would many other European countries…perhaps all of Europe eventually. This would herald the beginning of the end of worldwide monetary inflation by central banks. If the US, Britain, China, and Japan did not stop debasing their currencies, demand to hold these currencies as central bank reserves would fall precipitously because international companies would want to settle their trades in the best currency available; i.e., the deutsche mark.

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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