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For Those Who Don’t Understand Inflation

FOR THOSE WHO DON’T UNDERSTAND INFLATION

This article is a wake-up call for those who do not understand the true purpose of monetary inflation, and do not realise they are the suckers being robbed by monetary policy. With the world facing a deepening recession, monetary inflation will accelerate again. It is time for everyone to recognise the consequences.

Introduction

All this year I have been warning in a series of Goldmoney Insight articles that the turn of the credit cycle and the rise of American protectionism was the same combination that led to the Wall Street crash in 1929-32 and the depression that both accompanied and followed it. Those who follow statistics are now seeing the depressing evidence that history is rhyming, though they have yet to connect the dots. Understandably, their own experience is more relevant to them than the empirical evidence in history books.

They would benefit hugely from a study of the destructive power of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act combining with the end of the 1920s credit expansion. The devastating synergy between the two is what crippled the American and global economy. And as we slide into a renewed economic torpor, contemporary experience tells us the Fed and all the other central banks will coordinate their efforts to restore economic growth, cutting interest rates while accelerating the expansion of money and credit. The current generation of investors argues that this policy has always worked in the past (at least in the past they have experienced) so the valuation-basis for financial assets and property should stabilise and improve.

This brief summary of current thinking in financial markets ignores the fact that a catastrophic tariff-cum-credit-cycle mixture is baking in the economic cake. Crashing government bond yields, reflecting a flight to relative safety, are only the start of it.

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

Weekly Commentary: Abject Monetary Disorder

Weekly Commentary: Abject Monetary Disorder

A market week that began with a U.S./China trade “truce” ended with much stronger-than-expected (224k) June non-farm payrolls data. There were new intraweek record highs in equities and no let up in the global yield collapse. Lacking was increased clarity as to prospects for trade negotiations, economic growth and central bank policy.

Almost a week after Presidents Trump and Xi agreed to restart trade negotiations, there are few details as to what was actually discussed and agreed upon. The ratcheting down of tensions was widely expected in the markets. As anticipated, President Trump chose not to impose additional tariffs on Chinese imports. The softening of sanctions (allowing purchases from U.S. suppliers) on Huawei was the major surprise, although even on this point there is murkiness. After push back from U.S. security “hawks,” the administration stated the Chinese tech powerhouse remained blacklisted and had not been granted “general immunity.” Little wonder there was no mention of the Huawei concession from Chinese state media, only warnings of the U.S. propensity for “flip-flops.”

Analysts have generally responded cautiously to the “truce” and to prospects for an imminent trade deal. Equities, in the throes of speculative impulses and record highs, celebrated the reduced odds of near-term negative trade surprises during at least a temporary cooling off a vitriol.  

Global bond markets, enjoying their own speculative melee and attendant unprecedented low yields, were fazed neither by either the “truce” nor surging risk markets. German 10-year bund yields were down eight bps at Thursday’s lows, to a record negative 0.41%. French yields were down 13 bps for the week at Thursday’s record low negative 0.14%, with Swiss yields down another 12 bps to Thursday’s record low negative 0.67%.

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

US Braces For Chinese Retaliation: Scrambles To Find Alternative Rare-Earth Suppliers

US Braces For Chinese Retaliation: Scrambles To Find Alternative Rare-Earth Suppliers

With Beijing making louder noise by the day about using rare earth metals as a “nuclear” retaliation option in trade war with the US, Washington is not sitting on its thumbs waiting for the day China pulls the plug, and as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said today, the U.S. will take steps to ensure it doesn’t get cut off from the supply of rare earths.

As reported previously both in the Chinese and US press, Beijing has prepared a plan to restrict exports of rare earths to the U.S. if the trade war between the two nations deepens, and on Tuesday the Commerce Department released a report requested by President Donald Trump in December 2017, when he asked officials to look into U.S. access to so-called rare earths, a group of 17 elements including lanthanum and terbium, which are used in everything from the production of computer screens to missile systems and mobile phones.

“These critical minerals are often overlooked but modern life without them would be impossible,” Ross said in a statement. “Through the recommendations detailed in this report, the federal government will take unprecedented action to ensure that the United States will not be cut off from these vital materials.”

While some have minimized the consequences of a potential rare earth boycott of the US by China, the report acknowledged the potential danger to the U.S. of being shut out of foreign supplies of rare earths.

“The United States is heavily dependent on critical mineral imports,” according to the report. “If China or Russia were to stop exports to the United States and its allies for a prolonged period — similar to China’s rare earths embargo in 2010 — an extended supply disruption could cause significant shocks throughout U.S. and foreign critical mineral supply chains.”

China accounts for more than 70% of global output of rare earths. Ironically, the U.S. was the leading global producer of rare earths from the 1960s to the 80s, when production began shifting off shore.

The Zeitgeist Knows

The Zeitgeist Knows


Who said the global economy was a permanent installation in the human condition? The head cheerleader was The New York Times’s Tom Friedman, with his 1999 book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, the trumpet blast for the new order of things. Since then, we partied like it was 1999, with a few grand mal seizures of the banking system along the way, some experiments in creating failed states abroad, and the descent of America’s middle-class into a Disney version of Hieronymus Bosch’s Last Judgment — which is kind of what you see on the streets of Los Angeles these days.

Guess what: the global economy is winding down, and pretty rapidly. Trade wars are the most obvious symptom. The tensions underlying that spring from human population overshoot with its punishing externalities, resource depletion, and the perversities of money in accelerated motion, generating friction and heat. They also come from the fact that techno-industrialism was a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end — and we’re closer to the end than we are to the middle. There will be no going back to the prior party, whatever way we pretend to negotiate our way around or through these quandaries.

The USA-China romance was bound to end in divorce, which Mr. Trump is surreptitiously suing for now under the guise of a negotiated trade rebalancing. The US has got a chronic financial disease known as Triffin’s Dilemma, a set of disorders endemic to any world reserve currency. The disease initially expressed itself in President Nixon’s ditching the US dollar’s gold backing in 1971. By then, the world had noticed the dollar’s declining value trend-line, and threatened to drain Fort Knox to counter the effects of holding those dollars. Since then, all world currencies have been based on nothing but the idea that national economies would forever and always pump out more wealth.

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

Not Winning: Collapse in Global Trade Escalates, Imports -2.7%, Exports -4.0%

Not Winning: Collapse in Global Trade Escalates, Imports -2.7%, Exports -4.0%

Those who claim that Trump has already won or is sure to win the trade war need to ponder actual trade results.

Exports rose 1.0% in March with imports up a reported 0.9%. That progress was taken away and then some in April.

The Census Bureau Advance Trade report shows the balance of trade widened by 0.3%. The details, as noted by Econoday are downright ugly.

Sharp declines in exports are unwelcome headlines in April’s advance data on goods trade. The monthly deficit remains very deep, at $72.1 billion with exports falling 4.2 percent year-on-year and with imports also down, 2.7 percent lower. The deficit compares unfavorably with a $71.3 billion monthly average in the first quarter that marks a weak opening for net exports in the second quarter.

Capital goods are the US’s largest exports and these fell 6.5 percent in the month to $44.3 billion. Compared with April last year, capital goods exports are down 3.7 percent. Auto exports are also down, 7.2 percent lower to $12.9 billion and 6.7 percent below last year. The only export component showing a gain is food & feeds which rose 0.5 percent to $11.2 billion but which is nevertheless 6.2 percent below April last year.

The decline on the import side is also led by a 3.5 percent decline for capital goods ($55.4 billion) but also includes 3.1 percent and 2.3 percent monthly declines in autos ($30.9 billion) and consumer goods ($54.2 billion) as well as a 1.1 percent drop in foods ($12.8 billion).

Global trade figures have been contracting and the latest US numbers are part of that picture. Today’s report gets second-quarter GDP, already held down by contractions for April retail sales and industrial production, off to a slow start.

Note that country balances aren’t posted with the advance report but will follow with the subsequent international trade report that will also include data on services.

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

Beijing “Seriously Considering” Rare-Earth Export Ban

Beijing “Seriously Considering” Rare-Earth Export Ban

Following what was a mostly quiet holiday weekend for trade-war-related rhetoric (other than a dollop of trade-deal optimism offer by President Trump, little was said by either side), Beijing has started the holiday-shortened week by reiterating threats to embrace what we have described as a ‘nuclear’ option: restricting exports of rare earth metals to the US.

Global Times editor Hu Xijin, who has emerged as one of the most influential Communist Party mouthpieces since President Trump increased tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, tweeted that China is “seriously considering restricting rare earths exports to the US.”

Based on what I know, China is seriously considering restricting rare earth exports to the US. . China may also take other countermeasures in the future.

There are signs that these warnings should be taken seriously: One week ago, President Xi and Vice Premier Liu He, China’s top trade negotiator, visited a rare earth metals mine in Jiangxi province. Rare earths, which are vital for the manufacture of everything from microchips to batteries, to LED displays to night-vision goggles, have been excluded from US tariffs.

Rare

Though other Chinese officials have denied that export curbs were being considered, Xi’s visit was widely viewed as a symbolic warning. Seven out of every 10 tons of rare earth metals mined last year were produced by Chinese mines. One analyst warned that Xi’s visit was intended to send “a strong message” to the US.

Beijing is limited in its ability to retaliate against Washington’s tariffs by the fact that there simply aren’t enough American-made goods flowing into the Chinese market. Because of these limits, it’s widely suspected that Beijing will find other ways to retaliate. Though they are more plentiful than precious metals like gold and platinum, rare earths can be expensive to refine and extract.

Four

The tension has sparked a 30% increase in ‘heavy rare earth’ metals.

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

China Enraged After US Sails Two Destroyers Through Taiwan Strait

China Enraged After US Sails Two Destroyers Through Taiwan Strait

Just in case the “world tech and trade war I” was not enough to send US-China relations back decades, on Wednesday the US military sent two Navy destroyers through the Taiwan Strait in its latest transit through the sensitive waterway, “angering China” at a time of tense relations between the world’s two biggest economies.

While trade war between the two superpowers is raging, so far at least there have been no shooting incidents, and yet the US seems eager to provide just the right “excuse” for a trade war to become a “kinetic” one, as Taiwan is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, where in addition to the increasingly bitter trade war, China’s increasingly muscular military posture in the South China Sea has prompted the United States to conducts frequent freedom-of-navigation patrols.

Meanwhile, the voyage will be viewed by self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support from the Trump administration amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing, which views the island as a breakaway province and has vowed it will never let it become fully independent.

The transit was carried out by the destroyer Preble and the Navy oil tanker Walter S. Diehl, a U.S. military spokesman told Reuters.

The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,”Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, said in a statement.

And while Doss said all interactions were safe and professional, China was less enthusiastic, and its Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Beijing had lodged “stern representations” with the United States.

“The Taiwan issue is the most sensitive in China-U.S. relations,” he told a daily news briefing in Beijing. 

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

99 Lead Balloons… Are About To Come Crashing Down

99 Lead Balloons… Are About To Come Crashing Down

‘Lead balloon.’ That graphic description of public failure apparently dates from the US in 1924, and ironically was itself such a poorly-received idiom that it didn’t appear in the American press again until 1947. A few decades later, and the phrase was so well known that a derivative of it inspired one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Today, 99 lead balloons fill our sky.

To illustrate the point I don’t even have to look at headlines about the US-China trade war – though I could pick any number of them showing how serious this is getting, and how global the impact is likely to be. My favourite today contains a quote from a US semiconductor maker who states We’re too far into free trade that the world cannot have countries not trading.” Sorry mate, 1913 called and wants its ‘Great Illusion’ back; indeed, reports are that China’s surveillance camera-maker Hikvision is next in the US firing line. Standing with me not on the side of the (Norman) Angells is Eli Lake writing for Bloomberg, who argues The tech cold war has begun. To which I can only say: It’s about time. If this ban is just a bit of brinkmanship designed to pry a better trade deal out of Beijing, however, then it’s a blunder. The national security implications raised by Huawei’s technology transcend any trade dispute.” And while US tech is in the headlines, so is US farming, where federal subsidies are set to rise sharply to offset trade-war pain.

I could choose from a series of stories in Turkey, where the authorities are both trying to prop up the currency and cutting rates at the same time(?), as well as about to clash with the US and NATO allies again over their preferred choice of anti-aircraft defence system in a major way.

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

China’s Nuclear Option to Sell US Treasurys, Report 19 May

China’s Nuclear Option to Sell US Treasurys, Report 19 May

There is a drumbeat pounding on a monetary issue, which is now rising into a crescendo. The issue is: China might sell its holdings of Treasury bonds—well over $1 trillion—and crash the Treasury bond market. Since the interest rate is inverse to the bond price, a crash of the price would be a skyrocket of the rate. The US government would face spiraling costs of servicing its debt, and quickly collapse into bankruptcy. America could follow the path taken by Venezuela or Zimbabwe.

How serious is this threat?

The Independent Institute wrote (replete with a graphic purportedly showing a “nuclear bomb”) about it:

What would happen if the Chinese government were to weaponize its holdings of U.S. Treasury bonds by suddenly selling off all of them?
That’s an option that has been suggested by Hu Xijin, the editor of the government-controlled Global Times.
Dumping its U.S. national debt holdings is considered to be China’s “nuclear option” for retaliating against the U.S. government in the trade war…

The Financial Time headline says it all: “China dumps US Treasuries at fastest pace in two years”. The body of the article uses that word “weaponise” (British spelling).

Bloomberg warns that, “Trade Feud Has Treasury Investors Eyeing China’s Holdings at Fed”. At least their article does not reiterate “weaponized”.

CNBC adds a new element, that in killing America, China would be destroying itself too. The article uses the word “weapon”, as well as calling it the “nuclear option.”

Capital Outflows

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard at the Telegraph is one of the few voices looking at the “accelerating pace of capital outflows from China”. He provides lots of good analysis that we would say is common sense, except it is presently uncommon (yes, yes, we know that common, here, refers to base logic not ubiquity).

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

On Hostile Coexistence with China

On Hostile Coexistence with China

President Trump’s trade war with China has quickly metastasized into every other domain of Sino-American relations.   Washington is now trying to dismantle China’s interdependence with the American economy, curb its role in global governance, counter its foreign investments, cripple its companies, block its technological advance, punish its many deviations from liberal ideology, contest its borders, map its defenses, and sustain the ability to penetrate those defenses at will.

The message of hostility to China these efforts send is consistent and apparently comprehensive.  Most Chinese believe it reflects an integrated U.S. view or strategy.  It does not.

There is no longer an orderly policy process in Washington to coordinate, moderate, or control policy formulation or implementation.  Instead, a populist president has effectively declared open season on China.  This permits everyone in his administration to go after China as they wish.  Every internationally engaged department and agency – the U.S. Special Trade Representative, the Departments of State, Treasury, Justice, Commerce, Defense, and Homeland Security – is doing its own thing about China.  The president has unleashed an undisciplined onslaught.  Evidently, he calculates that this will increase pressure on China to capitulate to his protectionist and mercantilist demands.  That would give him something to boast about as he seeks reelection in 2020.

Trump’s presidency has been built on lower middle-class fears of displacement by immigrants and outsourcing of jobs to foreigners.  His campaign found a footing in the anger of ordinary Americans – especially religious Americans – at the apparent contempt for them and indifference to their welfare of the country’s managerial and political elites.  For many, the trade imbalance with China and Chinese rip-offs of U.S. technology became the explanations of choice for increasingly unfair income distribution, declining equality of opportunity, the deindustrialization of the job market, and the erosion of optimism in the United States.

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

Post-tariff considerations

Post-tariff considerations 

President Trump has declared he will extend tariffs of 25% on all America’s imports of Chinese goods. China is responding with tariff increases of its own. The consequences of this action and reaction will be to kick-start higher monetary inflation in America and an economic slump. This article explains how an overdue credit crisis will be made considerably worse by trade protectionism. It could become the credit crisis to end all credit crises and undermine the whole fiat currency system.

Introduction

Following President Trump’s imposition of 25% tariffs on all Chinese imports, it is time to assesses the consequences. Already, we have seen a contraction in US-China trade of 20% in the first three months of 2019 compared with the same quarter last year, and also compared with the average outturn for the whole of 2018.[i] This contraction was worse than that which followed the Lehman crisis.

In assessing the extent of the impact of Trump’s tariffs on the US economy, we must take into account a number of inter-related factors. Clearly, higher prices to US consumers will hit Chinese imports, which explains why they have dropped 20% so far, and why they will likely drop even more. Interestingly, US exports to China fell by the same percentage, though they are about one quarter of China’s exports to the US. 

These inter-related factors are, but not limited to:

  • The effect of the new tariff increases on trade volumes
  • The effect on US consumer prices
  • The effect on US production costs of tariffs on imported Chinese components
  • The consequences of retaliatory action on US exports to China
  • The recessionary impact of all the above on GDP
  • The consequences for the US budget deficit, allowing for likely tariff income to the US Treasury.

These are only first-order effects in what becomes an iterative process, and will be accompanied and followed by:

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

“Significant Slowdown” Spooks Maersk At Mediterranean’s Third Largest Port

“Significant Slowdown” Spooks Maersk At Mediterranean’s Third Largest Port

Malta Freeport, the third largest transshipment port in the Mediterranean region and located on the island of Malta, has seen a “significant slowdown in business activity” since 2H18.

One of its major clients, Maersk, the largest container ship and supply vessel operator in the world, has decided to move its operations from Malta to other ports in North Africa after Mediterranean shipping routes have been severely affected by the synchronized global slowdown.

The Times of Malta reported that Freeport’s management notified unions and other clients that Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) will be shifting operations from Malta to other African ports, is expected to reduce business at Malta’s container terminal by 35% next month.

Last year’s figures show the port handled 3.3 million containers in its transshipment activities, but with Maersk and MSC halting operations, that number is expected to be dramatically less.

A spokesman for Freeport confirmed to the Times of Malta that Maersk and MSC have departed.

“Maersk recently informed us that it will be shifting some of the services that are being carried out through Malta Freeport to a new fully-automated facility in Tangier Med, Morocco, and to Port Said in Egypt.”

Maersk has been operating from Malta for at least a decade, handling import shipping routes to and from China.

Industry sources said shipping volumes have already decreased at Freeport, as a severe economic slowdown in Europe and Asia have sent container rates between both regions into a tailspin in the last several quarters.

“The slowdown can already be felt and there are already fewer people working, particularly on overtime,” the source said. 

Last month, data from the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis revealed world trade volume fell 1.8% in the three months to January compared to the preceding three months as a global slowdown gained momentum.

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

US-China: the hardcore is yet to come

US-China: the hardcore is yet to come

A container ship unloads cargo at the port terminal in Long Beach, California on May 10, as talks to resolve the US-China trade battle ended Friday with no deal, but no breakdown. Photo: Mark Ralston / AFP

US-China: the hardcore is yet to come

The Trump administration’s response to China’s emergence has been to throw all sorts of spanners in the works, but tariffs won’t bring back manufacturing jobs

Let’s start with the “long” 16th Century – which, as with the 21st, also saw a turbulent process of marketization. At that time, the Jesuits and the Counter-Reformation were trying to rebound across Asia – but within a context where the rivalry between the Iberian superpowers of the age, Spain and Portugal, still lingered. 

The Reformation first attached itself to the Dutch trade thalassocracy – a seaborne empire, under which commerce was paramount – over strict propaganda of religious dogma. Britain’s maritime realm was still biding its time. The emergence of Protestantism proceeded in parallel to the emergence of neo-Confucianism in East Asia.

Fast forward to our turbulent times. Marketization – renamed as globalization – seems to be in crisis. But not in the Middle Kingdom, which is now investing in globalization 2.0 amid increasing rivalry with the other superpower, the US. 

The American thalassocracy is being superseded by the Revenge of the Heartland, in the form of the Russia-China strategic partnership – for whom Eurasian trade integration, as expressed by the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is paramount over the Make America Great Again (MAGA) dogma. 

Meanwhile, the re-emergence of Right populism in the West mirrors the re-emergence of pragmatic neo-Confucianism across Asia.

BRI – the prime vehicle for Eurasia integration – would have never come to light without China’s four decades of breakneck economic development.

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

Stocks Crater – 3.5 Trillion Dollars In Global Market Cap Wiped Out – China Considers “Dumping U.S. Treasuries”

Stocks Crater – 3.5 Trillion Dollars In Global Market Cap Wiped Out – China Considers “Dumping U.S. Treasuries”

Wall Street responded to our escalating trade war with China by throwing a bit of a temper tantrum.  On Monday the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 617 points, and that was the worst day for the Dow since January 3rd.  But things were even worse for the Nasdaq.  It had its worst day since December 4th, and overall the Nasdaq is now down 6.3 percent in just the last six trading sessions.  Of course it isn’t just in the United States that stocks are declining.  Since last Monday, a total of approximately $3.5 trillion in market cap has been wiped out on global stock markets.  And since it doesn’t look like we are going to get any sort of a trade deal any time soon, this could potentially be just the beginning of our problems.

China fired a shot that was heard around the world on Monday when they announced that they would be dramatically raising tariffs on U.S. goods

China will raise tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods in retaliation for the U.S. decision to hike duties on Chinese goods, the Chinese Finance Ministry said Monday.

Beijing will increase tariffs on more than 5,000 products to as high as 25%. Duties on some other goods will increase to 20%. Those rates will rise from either 10% or 5% previously.

According to CNBC, these new tariffs are going to be particularly damaging for U.S. farmers…

The duties in large part target U.S. farmers, who largely supported Trump in 2016 but suffered from previous shots in the Trump administration’s trade war with China. The thousands of products include peanuts, sugar, wheat, chicken and turkey.

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

Seeds Sown for Major Transatlantic Trade War Starting in May

Seeds Sown for Major Transatlantic Trade War Starting in May 

Trump wants a trade treaty with the EU to include agriculture. France says no. It only takes one.

Trump has made a considerable number of trade threats only to eventually back down. Will it play out that way again?

For a number of reasons, I think Trump will act this time. First, let’s look at the threats.

Severe Pain

On February 25, Trump told the EU Play Ball or ‘We’re Going to Tariff the Hell Out of You’

“The European Union is very, very tough. Very, very tough. They don’t allow our products in. They don’t allow our farming goods in,” Trump said at a meeting with U.S. governors, according to a transcript from the White House. He added that “maybe, in certain ways,” the EU is “tougher than China.”

On March 14, Trump Warned EU of ‘Severe’ Economic Pain if No Progress On Trade Talks.

Partial Agreement Won’t Fly

On April 15, Reuters reported EU Ready to Launch U.S. Trade Talks, but Without Agriculture.

The EU approved two areas for negotiation, opposed by France with an abstention from Belgium. But agriculture was not included, leaving the 28-country bloc at odds with Washington, which has insisted on including farm products in the talks.

EU trade agreement are unanimous. Tiny countries can and have influenced outcomes. It took over a decade to get an agreement with Canada over concerns of tiny nations.

Even if US-EU trade talks take place, nothing will come of them and Trump will quickly get frustrated.

Climate Change Now in the Picture

On April 18, France has signaled it will not cooperate with Trump in any way.

Please consider the new French demand: No EU-US Trade Talks Unless Trump Supports Climate Deal.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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