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Economic and Monetary Outlook For 2021

The most important event in the new year is likely to be the Fed losing control of its iron grip on markets. The dollar’s declining trend is already well established against other currencies and commodities, leading to this outcome.

Events in 2021 will be the consequence of a developing hyperinflation of the dollar. Foreign holders of dollars and dollar assets — currently totalling $27.7 trillion — are sure to increase the pace of reducing their exposure. This is a primal threat to the Fed’s policy of using QE to continually inflate assets in the name of promoting a wealth effect and continuing to finance a rapidly increasing federal government deficit by supressing interest rates.

Bubbles will then pop, leaving establishment investors exposed to a combined collapse of fiat currencies, bonds and equity markets, which could turn out to be very rapid. The question remaining is what will replace collapsing fiat currencies: limited issue distributed ledger cryptos, such as bitcoin, or precious metals, such as gold?

Clearly, when the dust settles, it will be gold for no other reason that central banks already own it in their reserves, and it has a long track record of success as money in the past.

This article examines the 2020 economic and financial background to likely developments in 2021 before arriving at its conclusions.

Introduction

It is that time again when we reflect on recent events and what might be ahead of us in the new year. 2020 was dominated by a pre-March descent into a financial slump, when the S&P500 index lost a third of its value between January and March, until the Fed cut its funds rate to zero on 16 March and followed up with a statement of intent to expand QE without limit on the following Monday.

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

 

This is a Recipe for Hot Inflation in 2021

This is a Recipe for Hot Inflation in 2021

Get ready for a tsunami of liquidity to hit the financial system.

President Trump has already signed a COVID-19 stimulus bill that will give $600 to most Americans. The House of Representatives has since passed a bill to increase the amount to $2,000.

So that’s a massive wave of money flowing into the economy.

On top of this, the Fed has just pumped $162 BILLION into the financial system in the last two weeks.

Chart, line chart Description automatically generated

To provide some perspective here.

During the apex of its monetary policy response to the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, the Fed was printing $80 billion in new money per month.

It just printed $162 billion in 14 days

Again, a tsunami of liquidity is going to hit the financial system in 2021.And unlike in 2008, this time it’s going to unleash hot inflation.

One of the most baffling aspects of policymakers’ response to the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 was the total lack of inflation appearing in the broader economy.

After all, in 2008 central banks embarked on the most aggressive monetary easing in history (up until that point). Between 2008 and 2016, central banks:

  1. Cut interest rates over 650 times.
  2. Printed over $12 TRILLION in new money.
  3. And pushed over $10 trillion bond yields into NEGATIVE territory.

And yet, for the most part, inflation was nowhere to be found. Yes, the cost of the living for most Americans continued to rise, but it didn’t rise any faster than it had in the preceding 30 years. Indeed, on a year over year basis, inflation never managed to stay above 2% for very long.

So where was the inflation?

It was in stocks, housing prices, and other assets. All of the money central banks printed never got into the real economy. It went to the banks. And the banks either used it to speculate in the stock market (investment banks) or they sat on it.

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

Plus ça change: A French Lesson in Monetary Debauchery

Plus ça change: A French Lesson in Monetary Debauchery

Fiscal policy shifted into turbo-charged, warp speed, overdrive early into the COVID related recession. To facilitate the borrowing binge, the Federal Reserve took unprecedented monetary actions. In 2020, the fiscal deficit (November 2019- October 2020) rose $3.1 trillion and was matched one for one with a $3.2 trillion increase in the Fed’s balance sheet.

The Fed is indirectly funding the government, but are they printing money? Technically they are not. However, they are inching closer through various funding programs in coordination with the Treasury Department.

Will the Fed ever print money? In our opinion, it is becoming increasingly likely as the requirements to service the interest and principal on existing debt, plus new debt, far exceeds what the economy is producing.

Given the increasingly dire mismatch between debt and economic activity, we think it is helpful to retell a tale we wrote about in 2015.  This article is more than a history lesson. It effectively illustrates the road on which the U.S. and many other nations currently travel.

This story is not a forecast but a simple reminder of what has repeatedly happened in the past.  

As you read, notice the lines French politicians use to persuade the opposition to justify money printing.  Note the similarities to the rationales used by central bankers, MMT’ers, and neo-Keynesian economists today. Then, as now, monetary policy is promoted as a cure for economic ills. As we are now constantly reminded, massive monetary actions have manageable consequences, and failure is blamed on not acting boldly enough.

Our gratitude to the late Andrew D. White, on whose work we relied heavily. The exquisite account of France circa the 1780-the 1790s was well documented in his paper entitled “Fiat Money Inflation in France” published in-1896. Any unattributed quotes were taken from his paper.

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

Why M1 Money Supply (Cash) is Skyrocketing Like No Time in History

Why M1 Money Supply (Cash) is Skyrocketing Like No Time in History

Plane made of burning dollar bills symbolizes price inflation and the Fed moving to digital currencyIn my last Patron Post, which I eventually made available to everyone, I revealed a little-known (at the time) fact that M1 money supply (the most liquid forms of cash — bills, checks and basic savings accounts) had grown faster than any time in history. I showed that using a graph like the following, which is now brought up to the most current data:

With part of December now in the picture, you can see the faintest hint at the top of the steep late-November climb that shows the climb may be rounding off.

I noted,

That is a massive amount of new cash money — historically massive — done almost covertly in the quickest burst ever — and yet it did not even cause the stock market to blink!… The graphs … make it clear why inflation under the new regime could become a much more serious problem than the limp moves seen over all the years of the Great Recovery, the difference being how fast the Fed’s QE is now converting into cash

… and I asked,

Why did such an enormous surge in money supply happen in the last two weeks of November with no financial articles being written about it and no statements from the Fed about it? What is going on behind the scenes at the Fed and/or US treasury right now?

…and I promised I would look into and get back to you on it.

I think that I may have found a couple of answers, so I am getting back to you on that as promised.

This could be due to Biden’s promised termination of tax welfare to the rich

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

The Most Hopeful Scenario for 2021

The Most Hopeful Scenario for 2021

Choose wisely, America, or the options for a positive outcome will vanish like mist in Death Valley on a clear July afternoon.

From the point of view of evolution, the most hopeful scenario for 2021 is the sudden and complete collapse of everything that is obsolete, inefficient, ineffective and sclerotic. When obsolete systems and entities pass away quickly, the cost and pain are processed and absorbed quickly as well: enterprises go bankrupt and their assets are liquidated, failed ventures close, and schemes that didn’t yield the desired benefits are scrapped.

This is the evolutionary process. Whatever has lost its selective advantages will succumb to selective pressures and fade away.

The problem arises when self-serving insiders siphon resources to keep their obsolete, inefficient, ineffective and sclerotic gravy-train protected from selective pressures. Keeping a terminally ill human alive is an analogy: it’s possible to extend the life of a terminally ill person at enormous expense and effort, but the patient isn’t restored to their previous health or vigor–that is no longer even a possibility. They are no longer their previous self, and this is why people choose to avoid extraordinary interventions in their final phase of life.

Economically obsolete / terminal entities, on the other hand, always choose extraordinary monetary interventions to keep their gravy-train alive, even if they bleed the rest of the economy dry in the process.

If the buggy-whip industry existed today, Congress would grant it billions of dollars in low-interest loans, tax breaks and direct subsidies so those who made fortunes in the buggy-whip industry would continue to prosper, not from a productive activity but from subsidies and loans that ultimately weaken the entire economy and society.

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

BREAKING NEWS: Shocking Increase In U.S. Money Supply In Past Two Weeks

BREAKING NEWS: Shocking Increase In U.S. Money Supply In Past Two Weeks

The increase in the U.S. money supply in the past two weeks is absolutely shocking.  Something must be seriously wrong behind the scenes at the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve for the M1 Money Supply to increase more in the past two weeks than it did in six weeks during the beginning of the pandemic shutdowns in late March.

I wrote about this in my last subscriber video, INVESTOR WARNING: Markets Just Propped Up By Half-Trillion In Liquidity, Brace For Major Correction Ahead.  In just one week, the M1 Money Supply surged by $498 billion.  While that was stunning, I was quite shocked to see another huge increase in the past week.

The FRED – St. Louis Federal Reserve just updated their M1 Money Supply figures showing another increase of $312 billion, on top of the $498 billion added the week prior.  So, the total increase in the U.S. M1 Money Supply for Nov 16th to Nov 30th is a shocking $809 billion.  Compare that to the $388 billion increase from Mar 16th to Mar 30th when the pandemic shutdowns first began.

Do you know how much $810 billion equals?  That turns out to be four years of global gold mine supply totaling 440 million or 40 years of global silver mine supply of 32 billion oz.  This is beyond stunning to see this much of an increase without any news release by the U.S. Treasury or Federal Reserve.

Of course, it made sense to see the M1 Money Supply to increase after the pandemic shutdowns and stock market meltdown… BUT WHY NOW???  Take a look at the following chart from the St. Louis Fed (FRED).

From March 16th to April 27th, the U.S. M1 Money Supply increased $773 billion… six weeks.  Why on earth has the M1 Money Supply increased $810 billion… in TWO WEEKS!!!

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

Gold & The Great Reset

The composition of the US dollar, including what it is backed by, has been replaced many times throughout America’s history. And another replacement is currently underway, warns monetary expert Mike Maloney.

After President Nixon fully severed its ties to gold, our government leaders have increasingly relied on expanding the currency supply to paper over (quite literally) today’s problems at the expense of the dollar’s purchasing power tomorrow.

As Mike explains in his excellent video series Hidden Secrets Of Money, such willful debasement of the currency by furtive and shortsighted politicians is nothing new. Over thousands of years, since the Romans intentionally progressively shrank the silver content of their coins, history is replete with such examples.

And now 2020 has arrived. The Federal Reserve’s response to the pandemic-induced economic slowdown has unleashed more ‘thin air’ creation of new dollars than ever seen at any prior moment in history:

21% of all US Dollars have been printed in 2020

And the leading developed countries of the world are now discussing the need for a Great Reset, in which it’s being proposed that new national cryptocurrencies (perhaps laying the groundwork towards a ‘one world currency’) replace the current existing fiat versions.

Using the lens of monetary history, Mike sees all this as simply a modern spin on the same cycles the world has seen before. Politicians will deform and abuse the currency for their own immediate needs until the system collapses, and a new, more sound alternative emerges from the ashes.

Which is why he remains so confident that gold will strengthen dramatically in the coming macro environment, despite being in a short-lived corrective phase at the moment. In fact, he sees today’s weakness as an excellent accumulation opportunity for both current holders as well as those new to owning precious metals.

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

Weekly Commentary: Pondering the New Secretary of the Treasury

Weekly Commentary: Pondering the New Secretary of the Treasury

The U.S. Goods Trade Deficit jumped to a then record $76 billion back in July 2008. A few short months later, financial chaos unleashed the “great recession” economic crisis. Traditionally, large trade deficits are evidence of loose monetary conditions and resulting unsustainable spending patterns. By May 2009 – only 10 months from an all-time record – the Goods Trade Deficit had shrunk to a seven-year low $35 billion. It’s worth noting, as well, that M2 money supply expanded $253 billion, or 3.1%, during 2009.
Fast forward to the current crisis period. M2 has surged $419 billion in only six weeks. Over the past 38 weeks, M2 has expanded an unprecedented $3.60 TN, with year-over-year growth of $3.785 TN, or 24.7%. October’s Goods Trade Deficit was reported Wednesday at $80.3 billion, lagging only August’s record $83.1 billion. Last month’s Trade Deficit was actually 21% ahead of pre-crisis October 2019.

No doubt about it, this crisis period is unique. More than three Trillion worth of Fed liquidity injections coupled with more than a Three Trillion fiscal deficit has thrown traditional crisis dynamics on its head. In this New Age Crisis backdrop, financial conditions have actually dramatically loosened. Money supply has skyrocketed, and stocks have gone on a wild speculative moonshot. Corporate bond issues surged to new records. And, as noted above, booming imports pushed the Goods Trade Deficit to an all-time high. At $170 billion, the second quarter Current Account Deficit was the largest since 2008.

The bloated services sector has accounted for a majority of historic job losses. Massive stimulus has bolstered spending on goods – which has led to the rapid recovery of imports. Home sales have boomed, with the strongest house price inflation in years. It’s only fitting that stimulus-induced “Terminal Phase” Bubble excess now engulfs the housing sector as well. That asset inflation and Bubble excess run rampant in the throes of crisis should have us all worried.

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

Why We Need a Free Market in Money

What is fiat money and what does it do?

This is essential to understand since today’s worldwide unbacked paper, or “fiat,” money regime is an economically and socially destructive scheme—with far-reaching and seriously harmful consequences. There is an answer, though, and this lies in ending the money production monopoly of states.

The Problem of Fiat Money

The US dollar, the Chinese renminbi, the euro, the Japanese yen, the British pound, and the Swiss franc represent fiat money.

Fiat money has three characteristics:

  1. Fiat money is money monopolized by the state’s central bank. It is created by central banks and commercial banks licensed by the state.
  2. Fiat money is mostly produced through bank credit expansion; it is created out of thin air.
  3. Fiat money is dematerialized money, consisting of colorful paper tickets and bits and bytes on computer hard drives.

Fiat money is by no means “harmless.”

Fiat money is inflationary. Its buying power dwindles over time, and history has shown that this entropy is almost as irreversible as gravity. Fiat money makes a select few rich at the expense of many others. The first to get new money benefit to the detriment of those on the bottom rung.

What’s more, fiat money fosters speculative bubbles and capital misallocation, which culminate in crises. This is why economies go through boom and bust cycles. Fiat money lures states, banks, consumers, and firms into the trap of excessive debt. Sooner or later, borrowers find themselves in a deep hole with no way out.

Fiat money is easy to come by, so the government can finance its adventures and misadventures. Easy money; easy come, easy go. And the government keeps growing as it keeps spending…

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

The monetary logic for gold and silver

The monetary logic for gold and silver

A considered reflection of current events leads to only one conclusion, and that is accelerating inflation of the dollar’s money supply is firmly on the path to destroying the dollar’s purchasing power — completely.

This article looks at the theoretical and empirical evidence from previous fiat money collapses in order to impart the knowledge necessary for individuals to seek early protection from an annihilation of fiat currencies. It assesses the likely speed of the collapse of fiat money and debates the future of money in a post-fiat world, in which the likely successors are metallic money — gold and silver— and some would say cryptocurrencies.

Early action to lessen the impact of a failure of the fiat regime requires an understanding of the role of money in order to decide what will be the future money when fiat dies. Will we be pricing goods and services in gold or a cryptocurrency? Will gold be priced in bitcoin or bitcoin priced in gold? And if bitcoin is priced in gold, will its function of a store of value still exist?

Introduction

This week saw the news that a vaccine had been found to combat the coronavirus. At least it offers the prospect of humanity ridding itself of the virus in due course, but it will not be enough to rescue the global economy from its deeper problems. Monetary inflation is therefore far from running its course.

The reaction in financial markets to the vaccine news was contradictory: equity markets rallied strongly ignoring rapidly deteriorating fundamentals, and gold slumped on a minor recovery in the dollar’s trade weighted index. Rather than blindly accepting the reasons for outcomes put forward by the financial press we must accept that during these inflationary times that markets are not functioning efficiently.

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

The Bogus Case Against Gold

The Bogus Case Against Gold

Gold is in the early stages of its third great bull run that will take it to record heights.

The first two great bull markets were 1971-1980 (gold up 2,200%) and 1999-2011 (gold up 760%). After peaking in 2011, gold fell sharply from that peak to below $1,100 per ounce by 2015.

Now the third great bull market is underway. It began on December 16, 2015, when gold bottomed at $1,050 per ounce at the end of the 2011-2015 bear market. Since then, gold is up significantly, but it’s small change compared to 2,200% and 760% gains in the last two bull markets.

Still, most mainstream economists dismiss gold. They call it a barbarous relic and say it has no place in today’s monetary system.

But today, I want to remind you of the three main arguments mainstream economists make against gold and why they’re dead wrong.

There’s Just Not Enough Gold to Support the Money Supply!

The first one you may have heard many times. “Experts” say there’s not enough gold to support a global financial system. Gold can’t support all the world’s paper money, its assets and liabilities, its expanded balance sheets of all the banks and the financial institutions in the world. They say there’s not enough gold to support that money supply.

That argument is complete nonsense. It’s true that there’s a limited quantity of gold. But more importantly, there’s always enough gold to support the financial system. The key is to set its price correctly.

It is true that at today’s price of about $1,875 an ounce, pegging it to the existing money supply would be highly deflationary.

But to avoid that, all we have to do is increase the gold price. In other words, take the amount of existing gold, place it at, say, $14,000 an ounce, and there’s plenty of gold to support the money supply.

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

Today’s Contemplation: The Coming Collapse VIII

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Chitchen Itza, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

Once again, a comment I posted in response to an article on The Tyee.

Where to begin? I realise this article is primarily about a federal political party and its future but there are two underlying issues that are discussed that need far more exploration and understanding if we are going to be projecting where a particular party or even government will be down the road (let alone the entire world).

If we are going to be discussing energy and Peak Oil then there is SO much more to bring into the conversation. Yes, politics plays a role (as it always does) but the topic is vastly wider than sociopolitics. It encompasses virtually everything in our complex, globalised industrial world. Everything. From the way we create potable water, to how we feed ourselves, to how we build and heat our homes (I’ve purposely focused on the three items we NEED to live…everything else is icing but just as dependent on energy, especially fossil fuels).

First things first. There is NO substitute for fossil fuels. At least not one that can sustain our current world the way it is configured. No, alternatives to fossil fuels cannot do it. They are not ‘clean’ as the mining, refinement, and manufacturing processes for them are environmentally damaging. They have a low energy-return-on-energy-invested (EROEI) and provide little ‘bang for the buck’. They cannot fuel many important industrial processes such as steel and concrete production. They depend very much on continued exploitation of fossil fuel, both upstream and downstream. They are NOT a panacea.

We are stuck with fossil fuels, until and unless we are ready and willing to give up probably 90% or more of what we consider ‘modernity’.

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

Japan Embraced Debt As a Way Out of Its Budget Crisis. It’s Not Working.

The sudden resignation of Japans Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has led to evaluations of his so-called Abenomics. Many have praised Abe’s aggressive monetary policy because the long shopping list of the Bank of Japan (government bonds, corporate bonds, ETFs and real estate investment trusts) has inflated stock and real estate prices (Shirai 2020Financial Times 2020). Concerns remain on the fiscal side since Abe’s consumption tax hikes from 5 percent to 8 percent in 2014 and to 10 percent in 2019 are widely seen as a failure (The Economist 2020). Indeed, Abe resolved Japan’s deep-seated fiscal problems only superficially.

Figure 1: Tax Revenues of Japan’s Central Government

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Source: Ministry of Finance, Japan.

The core of the problem is cheap money issued by the Bank of Japan, which had caused a stock and real estate bubble in the second half of the 1980s. While the bubble had inflated tax revenues, its bursting was followed by an unprecedented economic slump during which the corporate and income tax revenues collapsed from 43 trillion yen (approx. 390 billion dollars) in 1990 to 23 trillion yen (approx. 185 billion dollars) in 2012 (Figure 1), when Abe took office.

Figure 2: Social Security Expenditure and Local Allocation Tax as Share of Total Tax Revenues

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Source: Ministry of Finance, Japan. Central Government.

At the same time Japan’s aging population ballooned the government contributions to the public pension and health insurance system, from 12 trillion yen (approx. 110 billion dollars) in 1990 to 36 trillion yen (approx. 327 billion dollars) in 2019. In addition, the so-called local allocation tax grants of around 16 trillion yen per year (approx. 145 billion dollars) to the economically exhausted Japanese periphery continued to constitute a heavy burden for the central government. In the wake of the global financial crisis, both together had increased far beyond the central governments’ tax revenues (Figure 2).

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

Can Constant Money Growth Rule Prevent Boom-Bust Cycles?

According to the Nobel Laureate in Economics, Milton Friedman, the key cause of the business cycles is the fluctuations in the growth rate of money supply. Friedman held that what is required for the elimination of these cycles is for central bank policy makers to aim at a fixed growth rate of money supply:

My choice at the moment would be a legislated rule instructing the monetary authority to achieve a specified rate of growth in the stock of money. For this purpose, I would define the stock of money as including currency outside commercial banks plus all deposits of commercial banks. I would specify that the Reserve System should see to it that the total stock of money so defined rises month by month, and indeed, so far as possible, day by day, at an annual rate of X per cent, where X is some number between 3 and 5. The precise definition of money adopted and the precise rate of growth chosen make far less difference than the definite choice of a particular definition and a particular rate of growth.[1]

Could however, the implementation of the constant money supply growth rule eliminate economic fluctuations?

Honest money versus money out of “thin air”

Originally, paper money was not regarded as money but merely as a representation of gold. Various paper money receipts represented claims on gold stored with the banks. The holders of paper receipts could convert them into gold whenever they deemed necessary. Because people found it more convenient to use paper receipts to exchange for goods and services, these receipts came to be regarded as money.

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

The Hazards of 4 More Years of Jerome Powell

Whether Trump or Biden is elected in November, they will have to decide whether or not to appoint Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell to another term.

And if he is appointed again, the way he continues to handle the continuing ripple effects of the COVID-19 “shutdown” economy will be critical.

So let’s examine why the decision to reappoint him is important, then take a quick tour of some of Powell’s recent performance.

piece from Paul R. La Monica provides a take on the importance of Powell’s re-appointment, beginning with the response to the market’s plummet earlier this year:

The Fed quickly lowered rates to zero in March and has since launched trillions of dollars worth of lending programs… Powell’s swift actions have won him praise from many economists and investing experts on Wall Street.

“Powell should get a second term if he wants it. He deserves credit for the speed and magnitude of the Fed’s response to Covid-19,” said Larry Adam, chief investment officer of Raymond James.

Mr. Adam and the article are correct on one point. The Powell-authorized “moon shot” in response to a dramatic market drop was certainly a fast move.

George Calhoun, professor of quantitative finance at the Stevens Institute of Technology, agreed with Powell’s quick decision to print trillions:

When the crisis hit, Powell went all out and opened the spigots. I’m not sure what rationale would be to have someone totally different at the Fed. Monetary policy has been effective.

Any person in Powell’s position could have made the same call, of course. We just have to hope that the long-term ripple effects don’t eventually reveal that his reaction was too much, too fast, or perhaps unnecessary.

…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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