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We Have Seen This Happen Before The Last 3 Recessions – And Now It Is The Worst It Has Ever Been

We Have Seen This Happen Before The Last 3 Recessions – And Now It Is The Worst It Has Ever Been

Since the last financial crisis, we have witnessed the greatest corporate debt binge in U.S. history.  Corporate debt has more than doubled since then, and it is now sitting at a grand total of more than 9 trillion dollars.  Of course there have been other colossal corporate debt binges throughout our history, and they all ended badly.  In fact, the ratio of corporate debt to U.S. GDP rose above 40 percent prior to each of the last three recessions, but this time around we have found a way to top that.  According to Forbes, the ratio of nonfinancial corporate debt to U.S. GDP is now nearly 50 percent…

Since the last recession, nonfinancial corporate debt has ballooned to more than $9 trillion as of November 2018, which is nearly half of U.S. GDP. As you can see below, each recession going back to the mid-1980s coincided with elevated debt-to-GDP levels—most notably the 2007-2008 financial crisis, the 2000 dot-com bubble and the early ’90s slowdown.

You can see the chart they are talking about right here, and it clearly shows that each of the last three recessions coincided with the bursting of an enormous corporate debt bubble.

This time around the corporate debt bubble is larger than it has ever been before, and risky corporate debt has been growing faster than any other category

Through 2023, as much as $4.88 trillion of this debt is scheduled to mature. And because of higher rates, many companies are increasingly having difficulty making interest payments on their debt, which is growing faster than the U.S. economy, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF).

On top of that, the very fastest-growing type of debt is riskier BBB-rated bonds—just one step up from “junk.” This is literally the junkiest corporate bond environment we’ve ever seen.

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

Chapter 7: Secrets, Ignorance and Lies: Money, Credit and Debt

CHAPTER 7: SECRETS, IGNORANCE AND LIES: MONEY, CREDIT AND DEBT.

“The tyranny of fraud is not less oppressive than that of force.” John Taylor of Caroline, Virginia (1814).

Our money system relies on people not understanding it. If people understood it, they would demand reform.[1]

The most outrageous falsehoods are propagated daily about money and banking. Here are one or two examples:

‘A commercial bank is fundamentally nothing more than a middleman to put these two groups of people (investors and entrepreneurs) together in an efficient way’.[2]

This untruth is repeated regularly in education and the media, and most people believe it. The ‘middleman’ story is denied repeatedly and explicitly by authorities who know about the system, and are honest.

Here are some authoritative denials of the ‘middleman’ narrative:

The Bank of England: “One common misconception is that banks act simply as intermediaries, lending out the deposits that savers place with them…[this] ignores the fact that, in reality in the modern economy, commercial banks are the creators of deposit money. …Rather than banks lending out deposits that are placed with them, the act of lending creates deposits – the reverse of the sequence typically described in textbooks.”[3]

Abbott Payson Usher (20th century banking historian): ‘The essential function of a banking system is the creation of credit, whether in the form of the current accounts of depositors, or in the form of notes. The form of credit is less important than the fact of credit creation.’[4]

Joseph Schumpeter (economist): ‘It is much more realistic to say that the banks ‘create credit’, that is, that they create deposits in their act of lending, than to say they lend the deposits that have been entrusted to them.’[5]

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

Counterfeiting Money Is a Crime — Whether Done by the Fed or A Private Individual

Counterfeiting Money Is a Crime — Whether Done by the Fed or A Private Individual

A few years ago, shortly after the 2008 subprime lending disaster, the Fed sent a public relations team around the country to conduct supposedly “educational sessions” about how the Fed works and the wonderful things it does. The public was invited, and there was a question and answer session at the end of the presentation. One such session was held in Des Moines, Iowa. At the time I was teaching a course in Austrian economics at the University of Iowa, so I lusted at the prospect of hearing complete nonsense and having a shot at asking a question. I was not disappointed.

The educational part of the session lasted about an hour, and it became clear to me that the panel of four knew almost nothing about monetary theory. They may even have been hired especially for this grand tour, because all were relatively young, well scrubbed, and very personable–let’s face it, not your typical Fed monetary policy wonks or bank examiners! The panelists discussed only one of the Fed’s two remits–its remit to promote the economic advancement of the nation. Its other remit is to safeguard the monetary system. However, the panelists did touched upon the Fed’s control of interest rates and ensuring that money continued to flow to housing and other high profile areas of the economy.

Finally, at the end of the presentation, those with questions were asked to form a queue and advance one at a time to a microphone. I was last in a line of about a dozen. Here’s my recollection of what followed:

Me: You say that you (the Fed) have the power to increase the money supply. Is that right?

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

Lacy Hunt Blasts MMT and Speaks of Hyperinflation If Implemented

Lacy Hunt Blasts MMT and Speaks of Hyperinflation If Implemented

In the Hoisington First Quarter Review, Lacy Hunt blasts MMT as “self-perpetuating” inflation.

Please consider the Hoisington Investment Quarterly Outlook for the first quarter of 2019.

MMT Leads to Hyperinflation

Under existing statutes, Fed liabilities, which they can create without limits, are not permitted to be used to pay U.S. government expenditures. As such, the Fed’s liabilities are not legal tender. They can only purchase a limited class of assets, such as U.S. Treasury and federal agency securities, from the banks, who in turn hold the proceeds from this sale in a reserve account at one of the Federal Reserve banks. There is currently, however, a real live proposal to make the Fed’s liabilities legal tender so that the Fed can directly fund the expenditures of the federal government – this is MMT – and it would require a change in law, i.e. a rewrite of the Federal Reserve Act.

This is not a theoretical exercise. Harvard Professor Kenneth Rogoff, writing in ProjectSyndicate.org (March 4, 2019), states “A number of leading U.S. progressives, who may well be in power after the 2020 elections, advocate using the Fed’s balance sheet as a cash cow to fund expansive new social programs, especially in view of current low inflation and interest rates.” How would MMT be implemented and what would be the economic implications? The process would be something like this: The Treasury would issue zero maturity and zero interest rate liabilities to the Fed, who in turn, would increase the Treasury’s balances at the Federal Reserve Banks. The Treasury, in turn, could spend these deposits directly to pay for programs, personnel, etc. Thus, the Fed, which is part of the government, would be funding its parent with a worthless IOU.

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

New money meets the cost of change: how local currencies save economies and communities, and help them flourish

New money meets the cost of change: how local currencies save economies and communities, and help them flourish 

In times of crisis and other upheavals, local communities have discovered that one answer to being failed by the mainstream economy is to print your own currency. Responses also range from age-old barter systems to time-banking and modern digital currencies. They demonstrate the kind of re-imagining of the economy needed for rapid transition, and show how people and communities can reveal their greatest strengths when times are hardest and most uncertain.

Spurred by lessons from successful initiatives, now some major cities and regions are seeing permanent benefits from having their own money or exchange system. Local currencies can strengthen neighbourhood ties and allow people to make friends – they are a focal point for the community-minded. In the US, for example, California alone has 19 city currencies, many formed after the financial crisis of 2007 – 2008. Lending to small businesses plummeted, with impacts particularly hitting African Americans, women and Latinos – people from historically marginalised groups. Community currencies empowered people to have more say over where money circulated, giving them a greater stake in their economic future. A different approach, Time Credits in the UK – a national network of time banks – has been effective in addressing many different types of need, from eldercare and schools to drugs and alcohol misuse.

But with financial crises becoming seemingly more frequent and extreme, the speed with which communities in one European country devised its own solution during the Eurozone crisis, stands testimony to the potential for rapid economic reinvention. When trouble hit Greece, in the port city of Volos, people turned their backs on the failed mainstream economic system to grow their own parallel economy. In 2011, eggs, milk and jam could be bought at market using a new, informal barter currency, a Local Alternative Unit, or TEM as it is known domestically.

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

How Asset Inflation Will End–This Time

HOW ASSET INFLATION WILL END — THIS TIME

Life after death for asset inflation: this is what happens when “speculative fever” remains high even after monetary inflation has paused. This may well have been the situation in global markets during 2019 so far. But history and principle suggest that life after death in this monetary sense is short.

Readers may find it odd to be talking about a pause in monetary inflation at a time when the Fed has cancelled programmed rate rises and the ECB has embarked (March 7) on yet further “radical” policy moves. Moreover, the “core” US inflation rate (as measured by PCE) is still at virtually 2 per cent year-on-year.

Yet we know from past cycles that in the early stages of recession many market participants — and, crucially, central banks — mistakenly view a stall in rate rises or actual rate cuts as stimulatory. Later with the benefit of hindsight these policy moves turn out to be insufficient to prevent a tightening of monetary conditions already in process but unrecognized.

Even had monetary conditions been easing rather than tightening, it is highly dubious whether this difference would have meant the powerful momentum behind the business cycle moving into its recession phase would have lessened substantially.

(As a footnote here: under a gold standard regime there is no claim that monetary conditions will evolve perfectly in line with contracyclical fine-tuning. Both in principle and fact monetary conditions could tighten there at first as recessionary forces gathered. Under sound money, however, contracyclical forces would emerge strongly into the recession as directed by the invisible hand.)

Under a fiat money regime, monetary tightening can occur in the transition of a business cycle into recession, despite the opposite intention of the central bank policy-makers, due to endogenous factors such as an undetected increase in demand for money or a fall in the underlying “money multipliers.”

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

Preppers save for a rainy day: Why financial planning is crucial for surviving an economic downturn

Preppers save for a rainy day: Why financial planning is crucial for surviving an economic downturn

Image: Preppers save for a rainy day: Why financial planning is crucial for surviving an economic downturn

(Natural News) As a prepper, one of the first things that you need to learn is the importance of financial preparedness. Don’t wait until an economic collapse before you start settling your debts or saving money. (h/t to TimGamble.com)

The basics of financial preparedness

Personal, business, or government debt is bad. It will stress you out, and it makes you more vulnerable to economic downturns.

To become financially prepared, you must first eliminate consumer debt. This includes credit cards, car loans, payday loans, personal loan, and installment plans.

To clear your debts, you may need to make sacrifices, such as:

  • Putting off major purchases.
  • Avoiding impulse purchases (e.g. luxury items, etc).
  • Bringing your own lunch to school or work.
  • Having a major yard sale to raise some money.
  • Starting a second job.

Making these sacrifices may seem hard, but keep in mind that in the end, the benefits will be more than worth it. (Related: 7 obvious warning signs we are heading for an economic meltdown.)

Second, you need to have emergency savings. Start by holding yard sales or getting a second job. Put the money somewhere safe, such as an insured certificate of deposit(CD). A CD is a type of federally insured savings account with a fixed interest rate and fixed date of withdrawal or maturity date. CDs don’t usually have monthly fees and they are different from traditional savings accounts in several ways. Savings accounts let you deposit and withdraw funds rather freely.

However, with a CD you agree to leave your money in the bank for a set amount of time (know as the “term length”). If you do access the money in a CD, you will need to pay a penalty. Term lengths can range from several days to a decade. The standard range of options for CDs is between three months and five years.

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

MMT Is a Recipe for Revolution

MMT Is a Recipe for Revolution

Historian Stephen Mihm recently argued that based on his reading of the monetary system of colonial Massachusetts, modern monetary theory (MMT), which he cheekily referred to as PMT (Puritan monetary theory), “worked — up to a point.”

One can forgive him for misunderstanding America’s colonial monetary system, which was so much more complex than our current arrangements that scholars are still fighting over some basic details.

Clearly, though, America’s colonial monetary experience exposes the fallacy at the heart of MMT (which might be better called postmodern monetary theory): the best monetary policy for the government is not necessarily the best monetary policy for the economy. As Samuel Sewall noted in his diary, “I was at the making of the first Bills of Credit in the year 1690: they were not Made for want of Money, but for want of Money in the Treasury.”

While true that colonial governments controlled the money supply by directly issuing (or lendin)  and then retiring pieces of paper, their macroeconomic track record was abysmal, except when they carefully obeyed the market signals created by sterling exchange rates and the price of gold and silver in terms of paper money.

MMT in the colonial period often led to periods of ruinous inflation and, less well-understood, revolution-inducing deflation.

South Carolina and New England were the poster colonies for inflation, in part because they bore the brunt of colonial wars against their rival Spanish and French empires. Relative peace and following market signals eventually stabilized prices in South Carolina. 

In New England, however, Rhode Island for decades was able to act as a “money pump” that forced inflation on other New England colonies until they abandoned MMT entirely in the early 1750s.

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

The One True Thing

wikimedia 

The One True Thing

Until you understand it, it will rule your life.

Until you see clearly how the rules of society work, you will be trapped within a system of control.

What you mistake for reality is instead a fabricated simulation, designed to keep you trapped right where the system wants you.

Your social conditioning, education, and family structures program you with a set of beliefs, values and norms — often unexamined — that “properly” align you in such a way that you focus your life and labor on keeping the existing social hierarchy in place and that you never deeply question this arrangement.

Put visually, your culture is in the shape of a pyramid. And what keeps you pinned to your particular layer is your belief system. 

Every civilization has its own defining narratives that, while beautifully diverse, all generate exactly the same structure: a pyramid consisting of many more people at the bottom than at the top.

Every civilization throughout history had One True Thing that determined each person’s position on that pyramid.

In some past eras, it was royal bloodline. In ancient Egyptian culture, it stemmed from being a direct descendent of the Sun god Ra. And today, it’s a function of how much money you have.

No matter the marker, the pecking order is held in place because everyone accepts the rules.  They’re fully understood by the citizenry, and are only rarely questioned (usually at great personal risk). 

But even though accepted as “100% true” by the participants of one culture, social markers often don’t translate when applied to another.

For instance, if you traveled back in time to the height of the Aztec empire with $1 billion in cash, your paper bills wouldn’t have any accepted value.  You’d probably have trouble acquiring even a single tortilla with them.

Your modern currency just wouldn’t be money to that ancient culture.

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

The True Size Of The U.S. National Debt, Including Unfunded Liabilities, Is 222 Trillion Dollars

The True Size Of The U.S. National Debt, Including Unfunded Liabilities, Is 222 Trillion Dollars

The United States is on a path to financial ruin, and everyone can see what is happening, but nobody can seem to come up with a way to stop it.  According to the U.S. Treasury, the federal government is currently 22 trillion dollars in debt, and that represents the single largest debt in the history of the planet.  Over the past decade, we have been adding to that debt at a rate of about 1.1 trillion dollars a year, and we will add more than a trillion dollars to that total once again this year.  But when you add in our unfunded liabilities, our long-term financial outlook as a nation looks downright apocalyptic.  According to Boston University economics professor Laurence Kotlikoff, the U.S. is currently facing 200 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities, and when you add that number to our 22 trillion dollar debt, you get a grand total of 222 trillion dollars.

Of course we are never going to pay back all of this debt.

The truth is that we are just going to keep accumulating more debt until the system completely and utterly collapses.

And even though the federal government is the biggest offender, there are also others to blame for the mess that we find ourselves in.  State and local governments are more than 3 trillion dollars in debt, corporate debt has more than doubled since the last financial crisis, and U.S. consumers are more than 13 trillion dollars in debt.

When you add it all together, the total amount of debt in our society is well above 300 percent of GDP, and it keeps rising with each passing year.

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

The Problem With Modern Monetary Theory

THE PROBLEM WITH MODERN MONETARY THEORY

According to the Modern Money Theory (MMT), money is a thing that the State decides upon. Following the ideas of the German economist, Georg Knapp, the MMT simply regards money as a token. For instance, when an individual places a coat in the cloakroom of a theatre, he receives a tin disc or a paper receipt. This receipt or a disc is a proof that the individual is entitled to demand the return of his coat. The token was labelled by Knapp as chartal or a pay token.

On this way of thinking money is seen as a chartal means of payments. According to the MMT, the material used to manufacture the tokens is irrelevant – it can be gold, silver, or any other metal or it can even be paper. Hence, the definition of money according to the MMT is what the State decides it is going to be[1].

According to this theory, the value of money is established because the State forces people to pay taxes with the money that the State has decided upon. The State taxes have to be paid with the money tokens issued by the State. The State also has the ability to control the value of money through its declaration of how much it is willing to pay for a certain commodity produced by the private sector. What we have here is a situation wherein the State exchanges empty tokens for goods and services produced by individuals. It then requires them to pay taxes with part of the tokens.

If one dissects the whole process one would discover that it is about an exchange of worthless tokens for real goods and services i.e. nothing for something.

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

The Demise of Physical Money: A Retail Worker’s Perspective

The Demise of Physical Money: A Retail Worker’s Perspective

Something I have come to realise about money is that the more you come into direct contact with it, the less alluring it becomes. That may sound like a hollow platitude, but when your history of paid work has predominately involved handling thousands of pounds through face to face transactions and back office duties, the worthlessness of fiat currency burrows into your psyche.

That is not a fatuous comment. I recognise that the entity I proclaim to be worthless is the same entity that allows me to eat and to sleep with a roof over my head. Nevertheless, it is not as simple as surmising that it is the intrinsic value of money that grants the ability to exchange funds for goods. Money has no intrinsic value as I came to discover.

This time two years ago I secured a job working in the cash office of a UK supermarket. It was an opportunity that came about just as I had begun to question the true nature and value of money.

My perception of cash changed on coming across a postcard pack published by the Bank of England called, ‘Your Money: What the Bank Does‘. The pack is no longer available through the bank’s revamped website, but fortunately I downloaded a copy before it was taken down.

Contained within the pack is a section titled, ‘Banknotes and the Promise to Pay‘. Here, the bank offers up a compelling question:

What gives modern banknotes their face value, when they cost only a few pence to make?

The answer may or may not surprise you:

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

The Real Problem With Modern Monetary Theory

The Real Problem With Modern Monetary Theory

The Real Problem With Modern Monetary Theory

MMT supporters will point to 2008 and say, “Just look at QE. In 2008, the Federal Reserve Balance sheet was $800 billion. But as a result of QE1, QE2, and QE3, that number went to $4.5 trillion. And the world didn’t end. To the contrary, the stock market went on a huge bull run.We did not have an economic crash. And again, inflation was muted.”

Fed chairman Jay Powell has criticized MMT, for example. But its advocates say Powell and other Fed officials hoist themselves on their own petard. That’s because they are the ones who actually proved that MMT works. They point to the fact that the Fed printed close to $4 trillion and nothing bad happened. So it should go ahead and print another $4 trillion.

This is one of the great ironies of the debate. The Fed criticizes MMT, but it was its very own money creation after 2008 that MMT advocates point to as proof that it works.

Their only quibble is that the benefit of all that money creation went to rich investors, the major banks and corporations. The rich simply got richer. MMT advocates say it will simply redirect the money towards the poor, students, everyday Americans, people who need healthcare and childcare. It would basically be QE for the people, instead of the rich.

And it will go into the real economy, where it will boost productivity and finally give us significant growth.

When I first encountered these arguments, I knew they weren’t right. Both my gut feeling and my more rigorous approach to my own theory of money told me MMT was wrong. But I must admit, their arguments were more difficult to answer than I expected. I had a tough time uncovering the logical flaws.

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

Politics Has Failed, Now Central Banks Are Failing

Politics Has Failed, Now Central Banks Are Failing

With each passing day, we get closer to the shift in the tide that will sweep away this self-serving delusion of the ruling elites like a crumbling sand castle.

Those living in revolutionary times are rarely aware of the tumult ahead: in 1766, a mere decade before the Declaration of Independence, virtually no one was calling for American independence. Indeed, in 1771, a mere 5 years before the rebellion was declared, the voices promoting independence were few and far between. 

The shift from a pre-revolutionary era to a revolutionary era took less than a year. Perhaps no one exemplified the rapidity and totality of radicalization more than Benjamin Franklin, who went from an avowed Loyalist bent on reform to a dedicated, zealous revolutionary at the tender age of 70. (Old dogs can learn new tricks, at least in revolutionary eras.)

Recall that news could only travel as fast as a ship between seaports or a horse on the colonies’ minimalist roads, and it took days to travel between Boston, Philadelphia and New York, and much longer to reach Williamsburg and Charleston and points west. Communications were slow and limited, and this makes the rapid change of the political tide even more extraordinary.

Are we in a pre-revolutionary era? Here’s clue #1: politics has failed. When the political process can no longer fix what’s broken, politics has failed. When entire classes of citizenry no longer feel represented, politics has failed. When the system delivers a steadily declining standard of living to the bottom 80% of households, politics has failed.

Clue #2: having failed, the political machinery passed the baton to the central bank, which attempted to fix what’s broken by creating money out of thin air.

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

FedEx Is Talking As If A Global Recession Has Already Begun – And The Numbers Back That Up

FedEx Is Talking As If A Global Recession Has Already Begun – And The Numbers Back That Up

“Slowing international macroeconomic conditions” is just a fancy way to say that the global economy is in big trouble.  For months, I have been warning that economic conditions are deteriorating, and we just keep getting more confirmation that we are facing the worst global downturn since the last financial crisis.  For the second time in three months, FedEx has slashed its revenue forecast for this year.  In an attempt to explain why revenue is declining, FedEx’s chief financial officer placed the blame squarely on the faltering global economy.  The following comes from CNBC

The multinational package delivery service reported declining international revenue as a result of unfavorable exchange rates and the negative effects of trade battles.

“Slowing international macroeconomic conditions and weaker global trade growth trends continue, as seen in the year-over-year decline in our FedEx Express international revenue,” Alan B. Graf, Jr., FedEx Corp. executive vice president and chief financial officer, said in statement.

The use of the word “trends” implies something that has been going on for an extended period of time, and obviously FedEx doesn’t expect things to get better any time soon if they have cut profit projections twice in just the last three months.

And FedEx certainly has a lot of company when it comes to having a gloomy outlook for the global economy.  In one recent article, Bloomberg boldly declared that the global economy is in the worst shape it has been “since the financial crisis a decade ago”

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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