Stagnation, Inflation, Deflation, Dis-Inflation – and more – Hyper-inflation?
Back in 2010, in October, William H. Bonner of Agora Financial, a Baltimore based Financial Publishing house and regular commentator on the Financial Markets, released the following piece. Since then, the markets have boomed in some areas, and bust in others. But the real value of many of life’s essentials: Food, Clothing, Shelter and the basic necessities of life, and many of life’s “nice to haves” – Copper, Tin, Zinc, Nickel, Iron, Gold, Silver and of course Oil and Gas, have all experienced significant price changes. But are the prices accurate? Do they reflect the effort and cost of capital needed to extract them, or of their true value, if we run out of them? We may live to find out…
That’s the trouble when you start printing money for nothing, the people who get it first make the most profit, and the further it spreads out from the central bank, the less profit it appears to make. But the good Central Bankers, will do everything they think they can to make things better. The only question is: “For whom?”
Read on to find out.
Plaza II Accord
Bill Bonner – Friday, October 15, 2010
Keynes was right about one thing…
Peace talks broke down last weekend. Observers had expected the IMF meeting on the weekend to result in the equivalent of the Peace of Amiens or the Surrender at Appomattox. But Treasury secretaries and central bankers went home, unpacked their bags, and resumed their premeditated mischief.
The dollar went down. Why would anyone pay 100 cents for an old, worn out greenback when the Fed promises to create trillions more of them, brand spanking new? Europe and Japan resumed firing with their new QE guns. Asian nations sent out snipers to intervene in the currency markets directly. And China and the US resorted to “trench warfare,” reported The Financial Times, neither apparently ready to give up an inch; that is, neither was prepared to allow its currency to buy more today than it did yesterday. In America, China has become an election-year bogeyman. The electorate seems convinced that any nation that stockpiles $2 trillion worth of America’s I.O.U. greenbacks must be up to no good.
So, the war goes on. But it is an ersatz war. All the combatants really want the same thing – to debauch their currencies at the expense of savers and creditors. Sooner or later, they’ll conspire to get the job done. A full 93% of US financial professionals believe the Federal Reserve Bank is on the case. It is expected to launch major debauch in November. Investors have run up almost all asset classes in anticipation. The Dow passed 11,000 on Friday. Soft and hard commodities hit new highs. And if, on a given day, gold does not set a new record, it is probably because the markets are closed.
What a remarkable period in financial history! We can hardly believe our luck. Absurd things are happening. John Maynard Keynes was wrong about practically everything. But he was right about this:
There is no subtler, surer means of overturning society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction and does it in a way that not one man in a million is able to diagnose.
And we get to see it live. And probably dead. The US dollar fell under the control of the debauchers, partially, in 1913…when America’s central bank was formed…then fully, in 1971, when gold backing for the dollar was completely eliminated. In the 100 years before the Fed was formed, the dollar lost not a penny of its value. In the almost 100 years since, it has lost almost all of them. If the greenback were to lose another 5% of its 1914 value, there would be nothing left at all.
Such slow larceny bothered no one. As long as the dollar slid gradually, and peacefully towards worthlessness it seemed almost natural, even healthy. Central bankers could mix with polite company and hold their heads up. None was arrested, as far as we know. None was so tormented by his crime that he had to be restrained or sedated. But now central banks are committing their felonies in broad daylight. Economists argue for more. But investors are confused and worried. Today, they buy gold. Tomorrow they may buy shotguns.
But what else can the managers do? After increasing for 61 years, the volume of credit in the US – and hence, the volume of sales – is no longer expanding. This leaves householders with debt to pay down and exporters with no alternative but to fight for market share. What to do about it? Lower the value of the currency! But in a correction, the natural thing is for prices to go down with a decline in demand. So, money tends to become more upright just when the managers would most like to see it slouch.
The poor central bankers. They are victims of their own delusions of competence. They have never actually managed anything successfully. When the economy is expanding, they exacerbate the boom. When it is contracting, they slow down the correction. And now, they fight a currency war not of their own choosing, but of their own making. The war is their response to the correction, which results from the bubble, which was caused largely by the managers themselves.
And now they’re looking for a hotel where they can do it again. It was at the Plaza Hotel in New York in 1985 that they managed their Treaty of Versailles. It ended the currency war of the early ’80s…and prepared the way for an even bigger war later on. Back then, Japan was the go-go economy. Like China today, Japan was the world’s leading exporter. It wanted to keep the yen low. The US meanwhile, was losing market share. James Baker and the other US managers threatened sanctions. Japan gave in. By early the following year, the yen was 40% higher against the dollar and Japan’s GDP growth rate had been cut in half. But the managers fixed that problem as they fix them all. In Japan, they cut rates 4 times in 1986, creating a flood of hot money. Four years later, Japan was the envy of the entire world. In January of 1990, the Nikkei Dow hit a new record – 4 times higher than it was when the Plaza Accords were signed. Then, the bubble popped. You don’t need to be reminded of what happened next. The Nikkei crashed. Real estate crashed. Everything crashed. The economy went into a 20-year tailspin, failing to create a single new job in two decades. Neither stocks, nor real estate, nor the economy ever recovered.
No one wants to follow the Japanese down that road. Ben Bernanke manages the dollar, desperately trying to avoid it. And Premier Wen of China said it would be “a disaster for the world” if Western nations tried to force China in that direction. He’s right. But he needn’t worry about it. Disaster is coming anyway. The managers will make sure of it.
for The Daily Reckoning
And once more, the Banks are mired in controversy. Late on 12th June 2014, we heard that the UK., Chancellor of the Exchequer, will outline new laws to regulate the largely unregulated Foreign Exchange markets (For-Ex).
Every day, over $4 TRILLION changes hands globally in these markets, but several Big Banks – those closest to the Central Bankers, have been allegedly manipulating these markets for their own ends.
The Chancellor will make manipulating these markets a criminal offence.
I welcome the attempt to rein in the worst effects of the bankers actions, but it is a brave policeman, or Financial Conduct Authority, who will apply the new legislation, as Bankers have historically threatened governments of all political persuasions with dire effects if they apply regulations too rigidly.
If you don’t believe me, after the scandals that have come to light in the last five years, including LIBOR, Silver, Gold and other events such as the London Whale, then perhaps you need to read my free E-book, all 633 pages of it – “The Coming Battle”, which documents the worst excesses of these “Wizards of Oz” who pull the political strings from behind the curtain. These bankers who threaten governments, who manipulate stock-markets, Foreign exchange markets, Precious metals markets, and use their financial muscle, to wreak havoc when they fail to get the outcomes they feel they deserve.
But who can take them on?
The latest news from Iraq is ISIS appears to have taken control of parts of Western and Northern Iraq, and Eastern Syria.
Their goal it appears, is to create an Islamic Fundamentalist State. Part of me feels they deserve everything they get. BUT I should point out to all, and any who think that we ought to intervene again in the Middle-East, that our last attempts probably created this hotch-potch of anti-western sentiment – rapidly becoming a “Holy War”.
Besides just by ignoring the problem, these radicals will burn themselves out. Apart from the oil-fields in Northern Iraq, what do they have to sell? Oranges? Lemons? Mangoes? I am at a loss to call to memory anything that is exported from the middle-east apart from oil and/or gas. And therein lies the crux of their problem.
A modern economy has to pay for things that others have to sweat to build. German Engineering comes at great expense, and organisational and engineering expertise. British know-how in Financial Markets comes from a few centuries of having travelled the globe, and of having access to a large capital base, and expertise in how to make use of that. (And maybe that’s another topic of discussion for the future). Jamaica has the right climate for sugar cane, and so uses it to make Jamaican Rum. Mexico, has Silver mines, America has its software and computer hardware. Kenya has its tea and coffee plantations, and Japan, its electronics businesses. Each taking advantage of that country’s strengths.
Adam Smith the father of all economists, called it “comparative advantage”. What he meant was that each country should learn to make the best of its natural resources, and use its natural advantages to their fullest.
But as the world becomes more intertwined, the fruits and bounty of this planet will have to be paid for with real money, not money you can just print up at will. Money (Gold and Silver) has to be dug from the earth, smelted, refined into bars and coins, and thus the labour stored up in them – the knowledge, skills, ore, blood, sweat and tears, becomes a tradeable and valuable commodity. Pieces of paper with pretty pictures on, printed in their billions will not.
Education, research, and expertise gained over long periods gives countries an advantage in particular spheres. And asking the Lord Almighty, in whatever guise you see him, will not cut it anymore.
The Lord helps those who help themselves is a phrase I was brought up on. It is time for the middle-east to wake from its 1500 year slumber, and broaden its economic base through acceptance of certain verifiable truths.
Men are the captains of their own destiny not an all seeing prophet, or god from on-high. Such thinking should be reserved for the home and hearth.
Science, and the application of science – truths in physics, if you will, will improve the lot of the many. A country of fundamentalists, however ruled, who do not realise that they can only pay their way in the world by exchanging things of value, will, if ignored, like grapes of wrath, wither on the vine.
Forcing people to live a particular theocratic life in poverty, will mean they will take the first opportunity to leave. And the oil and gas will stay in the ground if others refuse to buy from these tyrants.
In the meantime, those oil and gas producers outside the middle-east, will be reaping the rewards as the oil price rises once more. Two small producers, I have had a smallholding with for over a year, for just such reasons are: Lenigas and Oil (AIM:LGO) and Sound Oil (AIM:SOU). Both have had good news of late and I believe are multi-baggers from here.
LGO operates in Spain and Trinidad and Tobago, and SOU operates in Italy.
As the world price of oil and gas rises due to the increasing political risks, these small businesses will find their product adds increasing amounts to the bottom line, and thus their prospects will rise alongside it.
Eventually, the public will wake up to the fact that the notes and coins in their wallets, and their bank accounts don’t represent real wealth, and demand alternatives to the currency dictated by governments. Alternatives that have stood the test of time, such as Gold and Silver, and newer alternatives such as the crypto-currencies, I’ve mentioned many times will stand out as value and wealth preservers – Bitcoin et-al, and Gold and Silver, will achieve their true place in the realm of matters economic just as they have always done when governments do stupid things like debauch the currency.
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