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The Fed is Fighting the Wrong Battle Again… And Creating Yet Another Crisis | Zero Hedge

The Fed is Fighting the Wrong Battle Again… And Creating Yet Another Crisis | Zero Hedge.

A critical element for investors to consider is that the Fed is not forward thinking when it comes to monetary policy. Indeed, if we reflect on the last 15 years, we see that the Fed has been well behind the curve on everything.

First and foremost, recall that Alan Greenspan was concerned about deflation after the Tech Crash (this, in part is why he hired Ben Bernanke, who was considered an expert on the Great Depression).

Bernanke and Greenspan, both fearing deflation (Bernanke’s first speech at the Fed was titled “Deflation: Making Sure It Doesn’t Happen Here”), created one of the most extraordinary bouts of IN-flation the US has ever seen.

From 1999 to 2008, oil rose from $10 per barrel to over $140 per barrel. Does deflation look like it was the issue here?

Over the same time period, housing prices staged their biggest bubble in US history, rising over three standard deviations away from their historic relationship to incomes.

Here are food prices during the period in which Greenspan and then Bernanke saw deflation as the biggest threat to the US economy:

The message here is clear, the Greenspan/ Bernanke Fed was so far behind the economic curve, that it created one of the biggest inflationary bubbles in history in its quest to avoid deflation.

Indeed, by the time deflation did hit (in the epic crash of 2007-2008), the Fed was caught totally off guard. During this period, Bernanke repeatedly stating that the subprime bust was contained and that the overall spillage into the economy would be minimal.

Deflation reigned from late 2007 to early 2009 with the Fed effectively powerless to stop it. Then asset prices bottomed in the first half of 2009. From this point onward, generally speaking, prices have risen.

The Fed, however, continued to battle deflation in the post-2009 era, unveiling one extraordinary monetary policy after another. They’ve done this at a period in which stocks and oil have skyrocketed:

 

Home prices bottomed in 2011 and have since turned up as well (in some areas, prices now exceed their bubble peaks):

 

 

Which brings us to today. Inflation is once again rearing its head in the financial system with the cost of living rising swiftly in early 2014.

 

Rents, home prices, food prices, energy prices, you name it, they’re all rising.

 

And the Fed is once again behind the curve. Indeed, Janet Yellen and Bill Evans, two prominent members what is now the Yellen Fed (Bernanke stepped down in January), have both recently stated that inflation is too low. They’ve also emphasized that rates need to remain at or near ZERO for at least a year or two more.

 

Investors should take note of this. The Fed claims to be proactive, but its track record shows it to be way behind the curve with monetary policy for at least two decades. Barring some major development, there is little reason to believe the Yellen Fed will somehow be different (Yellen herself is a huge proponent of QE and the Fed’s other extraordinary monetary measures).

 

Which means… by the time the Fed moves to quash inflation, the latter will be a much, much bigger problem than it is today.

 

For a FREE Special Report on how to protect your portfolio from inflation, swing by

www.gainspainscapital.com

 

Best Regards

Phoenix Capital Research

The Fed is Fighting the Wrong Battle Again… And Creating Yet Another Crisis | Zero Hedge

The Fed is Fighting the Wrong Battle Again… And Creating Yet Another Crisis | Zero Hedge.

A critical element for investors to consider is that the Fed is not forward thinking when it comes to monetary policy. Indeed, if we reflect on the last 15 years, we see that the Fed has been well behind the curve on everything.

First and foremost, recall that Alan Greenspan was concerned about deflation after the Tech Crash (this, in part is why he hired Ben Bernanke, who was considered an expert on the Great Depression).

Bernanke and Greenspan, both fearing deflation (Bernanke’s first speech at the Fed was titled “Deflation: Making Sure It Doesn’t Happen Here”), created one of the most extraordinary bouts of IN-flation the US has ever seen.

From 1999 to 2008, oil rose from $10 per barrel to over $140 per barrel. Does deflation look like it was the issue here?

Over the same time period, housing prices staged their biggest bubble in US history, rising over three standard deviations away from their historic relationship to incomes.

Here are food prices during the period in which Greenspan and then Bernanke saw deflation as the biggest threat to the US economy:

The message here is clear, the Greenspan/ Bernanke Fed was so far behind the economic curve, that it created one of the biggest inflationary bubbles in history in its quest to avoid deflation.

Indeed, by the time deflation did hit (in the epic crash of 2007-2008), the Fed was caught totally off guard. During this period, Bernanke repeatedly stating that the subprime bust was contained and that the overall spillage into the economy would be minimal.

Deflation reigned from late 2007 to early 2009 with the Fed effectively powerless to stop it. Then asset prices bottomed in the first half of 2009. From this point onward, generally speaking, prices have risen.

The Fed, however, continued to battle deflation in the post-2009 era, unveiling one extraordinary monetary policy after another. They’ve done this at a period in which stocks and oil have skyrocketed:

 

Home prices bottomed in 2011 and have since turned up as well (in some areas, prices now exceed their bubble peaks):

 

 

Which brings us to today. Inflation is once again rearing its head in the financial system with the cost of living rising swiftly in early 2014.

 

Rents, home prices, food prices, energy prices, you name it, they’re all rising.

 

And the Fed is once again behind the curve. Indeed, Janet Yellen and Bill Evans, two prominent members what is now the Yellen Fed (Bernanke stepped down in January), have both recently stated that inflation is too low. They’ve also emphasized that rates need to remain at or near ZERO for at least a year or two more.

 

Investors should take note of this. The Fed claims to be proactive, but its track record shows it to be way behind the curve with monetary policy for at least two decades. Barring some major development, there is little reason to believe the Yellen Fed will somehow be different (Yellen herself is a huge proponent of QE and the Fed’s other extraordinary monetary measures).

 

Which means… by the time the Fed moves to quash inflation, the latter will be a much, much bigger problem than it is today.

 

For a FREE Special Report on how to protect your portfolio from inflation, swing by

www.gainspainscapital.com

 

Best Regards

Phoenix Capital Research

No, Deflation is Not a ‘Danger’ |

No, Deflation is Not a ‘Danger’ |.

March 7, 2014 | Author 

The ‘Deflation Danger’ Should Abate …

What is it with this perennial fear the chief money printers have of falling prices? Not that we are likely to see it happen, but if it does, what of it? Bloomberg reports on the recent ECB decision with the following headline: Draghi Says Deflation Danger Should Abate as Economy Revives

The headline alone is a hodge-podge of arrant nonsense. First of all, ‘deflation’ (this is to say, falling prices), is not a ‘danger’. Speaking for ourselves and billions of earth’s consumers: we love it when prices fall! It means our incomes go further and our savings will buy more as well. What’s not to love?

The problem is of course that when prices decline, the ‘wrong’ sectors of society actually benefit, while those whose bread is buttered by the inflation tax would no longer benefit at the expense of everybody else. But they never say that, do they? Has Draghi ever explained why he believes deflation to be a danger? No, we are just supposed to know/accept that it is.

Secondly, the ‘as economy revives’ part makes no sense whatsoever. Why and how should a genuinely reviving economy produce inflation? Economic growth occurs when more goods and services are produced. Their prices should, ceteris paribus, fall (of course, we are not supposed to inquire too deeply into which ceteris likely won’t remain paribus if Draghi gets his wish).

From Bloomberg:

“ European Central Bank President Mario Draghi signaled that deflation risks in the euro region are easing for now after new forecasts showed that inflation will approach their target by the end of 2016.

The news that has come out since the last monetary policy meeting are by and large on the positive side,” he told reporters in Frankfurt today after the central bank kept itsmain interest rate at 0.25 percent. He also indicated that money markets are under control at the moment, lessening the need for emergency liquidity measures.

Draghi is facing down the threat of deflation in an economy still recovering from a debt crisis that threatened to rip it apart less than two years ago. New ECB forecasts today underscore his view that the 18-nation bloc will escape a Japan-style period of falling prices as momentum in the economy improves.”

(emphasis added)

We have highlighted the sentence above because we keep reading about the ‘Japan-style deflation trap’ for many, many years now. You would think that Japan was a third world country by now the way this keeps being portrayed as a kind of monetary evil incarnate that destroys the economy. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

Inflation is Not Equivalent to Economic Growth

‘Inflation’ is not the same as ‘economic growth’ – on the contrary, it both causes and frequently masks economic retrogression. How much inflation has there been in the euro area over time? Let’s have a look.


Euro Area TMS-a

The euro area’s true money supply since 1980. One can only shudder at this depiction of ‘deflation danger’ in action – click to enlarge.


What about prices though? Let’s have a look-see:


HCPI-LT-wow chartSince 1960, there was exactly one year during which prices according to the ‘CPI’ measure actually fell, namely in 2009, by a grand total of 0.5% – click to enlarge.

As Austrian economists have long explained, it is simply untrue that prices must rise for the economy to grow. Consumersobviously benefit from falling prices (only Keynesian like Paul Krugman don’t realize that, as their thought processes are evidently unsullied by logic and/or common sense). All of us can easily ascertain how beneficial the decline in computer prices, cell- and smart phone prices, prices for TV screens, etc. is. Naturally, it would be even better if all prices fell, not only those on a select group of consumer goods.

What about producers? Won’t they suffer? By simply looking at the share prices and earnings of the companies that make all the technological gadgets the prices of which have been continually declining for decades, everybody should realize immediately that the answer must be a resounding NO. This is by the way not only true of the firms that are in the final stages of the production process, i.e. the stages closest to the consumer. It is obviously also true for the firms in the higher stages of the capital structure. But why? It is quite simple actually: prices are imputed all along the chain of production. What is important for these companies to thrive are not the nominal prices of the products they sell, but the price spreadsbetween their input and output.

In fact, the computer/electronics sector is the one that comes closest to showing us how things would likely look in a free, unhampered market economy.

Of course, in said free, unhampered market economy, Mr. Draghi and a host of other central planners would have to look for a new job.

Charts by: ECB


No, Deflation is Not a ‘Danger’ |

No, Deflation is Not a ‘Danger’ |.

March 7, 2014 | Author 

The ‘Deflation Danger’ Should Abate …

What is it with this perennial fear the chief money printers have of falling prices? Not that we are likely to see it happen, but if it does, what of it? Bloomberg reports on the recent ECB decision with the following headline: Draghi Says Deflation Danger Should Abate as Economy Revives

The headline alone is a hodge-podge of arrant nonsense. First of all, ‘deflation’ (this is to say, falling prices), is not a ‘danger’. Speaking for ourselves and billions of earth’s consumers: we love it when prices fall! It means our incomes go further and our savings will buy more as well. What’s not to love?

The problem is of course that when prices decline, the ‘wrong’ sectors of society actually benefit, while those whose bread is buttered by the inflation tax would no longer benefit at the expense of everybody else. But they never say that, do they? Has Draghi ever explained why he believes deflation to be a danger? No, we are just supposed to know/accept that it is.

Secondly, the ‘as economy revives’ part makes no sense whatsoever. Why and how should a genuinely reviving economy produce inflation? Economic growth occurs when more goods and services are produced. Their prices should, ceteris paribus, fall (of course, we are not supposed to inquire too deeply into which ceteris likely won’t remain paribus if Draghi gets his wish).

From Bloomberg:

“ European Central Bank President Mario Draghi signaled that deflation risks in the euro region are easing for now after new forecasts showed that inflation will approach their target by the end of 2016.

The news that has come out since the last monetary policy meeting are by and large on the positive side,” he told reporters in Frankfurt today after the central bank kept itsmain interest rate at 0.25 percent. He also indicated that money markets are under control at the moment, lessening the need for emergency liquidity measures.

Draghi is facing down the threat of deflation in an economy still recovering from a debt crisis that threatened to rip it apart less than two years ago. New ECB forecasts today underscore his view that the 18-nation bloc will escape a Japan-style period of falling prices as momentum in the economy improves.”

(emphasis added)

We have highlighted the sentence above because we keep reading about the ‘Japan-style deflation trap’ for many, many years now. You would think that Japan was a third world country by now the way this keeps being portrayed as a kind of monetary evil incarnate that destroys the economy. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

Inflation is Not Equivalent to Economic Growth

‘Inflation’ is not the same as ‘economic growth’ – on the contrary, it both causes and frequently masks economic retrogression. How much inflation has there been in the euro area over time? Let’s have a look.


Euro Area TMS-a

The euro area’s true money supply since 1980. One can only shudder at this depiction of ‘deflation danger’ in action – click to enlarge.


What about prices though? Let’s have a look-see:


HCPI-LT-wow chartSince 1960, there was exactly one year during which prices according to the ‘CPI’ measure actually fell, namely in 2009, by a grand total of 0.5% – click to enlarge.

As Austrian economists have long explained, it is simply untrue that prices must rise for the economy to grow. Consumersobviously benefit from falling prices (only Keynesian like Paul Krugman don’t realize that, as their thought processes are evidently unsullied by logic and/or common sense). All of us can easily ascertain how beneficial the decline in computer prices, cell- and smart phone prices, prices for TV screens, etc. is. Naturally, it would be even better if all prices fell, not only those on a select group of consumer goods.

What about producers? Won’t they suffer? By simply looking at the share prices and earnings of the companies that make all the technological gadgets the prices of which have been continually declining for decades, everybody should realize immediately that the answer must be a resounding NO. This is by the way not only true of the firms that are in the final stages of the production process, i.e. the stages closest to the consumer. It is obviously also true for the firms in the higher stages of the capital structure. But why? It is quite simple actually: prices are imputed all along the chain of production. What is important for these companies to thrive are not the nominal prices of the products they sell, but the price spreadsbetween their input and output.

In fact, the computer/electronics sector is the one that comes closest to showing us how things would likely look in a free, unhampered market economy.

Of course, in said free, unhampered market economy, Mr. Draghi and a host of other central planners would have to look for a new job.

Charts by: ECB


What Blows Up First? Part 3: Subprime Countries

What Blows Up First? Part 3: Subprime Countries.

by John Rubino on January 27, 2014 

One of the reasons the rich countries’ excessive money creation hasn’t ignited a generalized inflation is that today’s global economy is, well, global. When the Fed dumps trillions of dollars into the US banking system, that liquidity is free to flow wherever it wants. And in the past few years it has chosen to visit Brazil, China, Thailand, and the rest of the developing world.

This tidal wave of hot money bid up asset prices and led emerging market governments and businesses to borrow a lot more than they would have otherwise. Like the recipients of subprime mortgages in 2006, they were seduced by easy money and fooled into placing bets that could only work out if the credit kept flowing forever.

Then the Fed, spooked by nascent bubbles in equities and real estate, began to talk about scaling back its money printing*. The hot money started flowing back into the US and out of the developing world. And again just like subprime mortgages, the most leveraged and/or badly managed emerging markets have begun to implode, threatening to pull down everyone else. A sampling of recent headlines:

Contagion Spreads in Emerging Markets as Crises Grow

Investors Flee Developing World

Erosion of Argentine Peso Sends a Shudder Through Latin America

The Entire World is Unraveling Before Our Eyes

Chinese Debt Debacle Supports Soros’ ‘Eerie’ Portrayal

Venezuela Enacts “Law of Fair Prices”

Argentina Returns to Villa Miseria

Indian Rupee Falls to 2-Month Low; Joins Emerging Market Sell-Off

Turkey’s ‘Embarrassing’ Intervention Fails to Curb Lira Sell-Off

Prudent Bear’s Doug Noland as usual gets it exactly right in his most recent Credit Bubble Bulletin. Here are a few excerpts from a much longer article that should be read by everyone who wants to understand the causes and implications of the emerging-market implosion:

Virtually the entire emerging market “complex” has been enveloped in protracted destabilizing financial and economic Bubbles. In particular, for five years now unprecedented “developed” world central bank-induced liquidity has spurred unsound economic and financial booms. The massive investment and “hot money” flows are illustrated by the multi-trillion growth of EM central bank international reserve holdings. There have of course been disparate resulting impacts on EM financial and economic systems. But I believe in all cases this tsunami of liquidity and speculation has had deleterious consequences, certainly including fomenting systemic dependencies to foreign-sourced flows. In seemingly all cases, protracted Bubbles have inflated societal expectations.

For a while, central bank willingness to use reserves to support individual currencies bolsters market confidence in a country’s currency, bonds and financial system more generally. But at some point a central bank begins losing the battle to accelerating outflows. A tough decision is made to back away from market intervention to safeguard increasingly precious reserve holdings. Immediately, the marketplace must then contend with a faltering currency, surging yields, unstable financial markets and rapidly waning liquidity generally. Things unravel quickly.

The issue of EM sovereign and corporate borrowings in dollar (and euro and yen) denominated debt has speedily become a critical “macro” issue. More than five years of unprecedented global dollar liquidity excess spurred a historic boom in dollar-denominated borrowings. The marketplace assumed ongoing dollar devaluation/EM currency appreciation. There became essentially insatiable market demand for higher-yielding EM debt, replete with all the distortions in risk perceptions, market mispricing and associated maladjustment one should expect from years of unlimited cheap finance. As was the case with U.S. subprime, it’s always the riskiest borrowers that most intensively feast at the trough of easy “money.”

So, too many high-risk borrowers – from vulnerable economies and Credit systems – accumulated debt denominated in U.S. and other foreign currencies – for too long. Now, currencies are faltering, “hot money” is exiting, Credit conditions are tightening and economic conditions are rapidly deteriorating. It’s a problematic confluence that will find scores of borrowers challenged to service untenable debt loads, especially for borrowings denominated in appreciating non-domestic currencies. This tightening of finance then becomes a pressing economic issue, further pressuring EM currencies and financial systems – the brutal downside of a protracted globalized Credit and speculative cycle.

In many cases, this was all part of a colossal “global reflation trade.” Today, many EM economies confront the exact opposite: mounting disinflationary forces for things sold into global markets. Falling prices, especially throughout the commodities complex, have pressured domestic currencies. This became a major systemic risk after huge speculative flows arrived in anticipation of buoyant currencies, attractive securities markets, and enticing business opportunities. The commodities boom was to fuel general and sustained economic booms. EM was to finally play catchup to “developed.”

Now, Bubbles are faltering right and left – and fearful “money” is heading for the (closing?) exits. And, as the global pool of speculative finance reverses course, the scale of economic maladjustment and financial system impairment begins to come into clearer focus. It’s time for the marketplace to remove the beer goggles.

No less important is the historic – and ongoing – boom in manufacturing capacity in China and throughout Asia. This has created excess capacity and increasing pricing pressure for too many manufactured things, a situation only worsened by Japan’s aggressive currency devaluation. This dilemma, with parallels to the commodity economies, becomes especially problematic because of the enormous debt buildup over recent years. While this is a serious issue for the entire region, it has become a major pressing problem in China.

At the same time, data this week provided added confirmation (see “China Bubble Watch”) that China’s spectacular apartment Bubble continues to run out of control. When Chinese officials quickly backed away from Credit tightening measures this past summer, already overheated housing markets turned even hotter. Now officials confront a dangerous situation: Acute fragility in segments of its “shadow” financing of corporate and local government debt festers concurrently with ongoing “terminal phase” excess throughout housing finance. China’s financial and economic systems have grown dependent upon massive ongoing Credit expansion, while the quality of new Credit is suspect at best. It’s that fateful “terminal phase” exponential growth in systemic risk playing out in historic proportions. Global markets have begun to take notice.

There are critical market issues with no clear answers. For one, how much speculative “hot money” has and continues to flood into China to play their elevated yields in a currency that is (at the least) expected to remain pegged to the U.S. dollar? If there is a significant “hot money” issue, any reversal of speculative flows would surely speed up this unfolding Credit crisis. And, of course, any significant tightening of Chinese Credit would reverberate around the globe, especially for already vulnerable EM economies and financial systems.

No less important is the historic – and ongoing – boom in manufacturing capacity in China and throughout Asia. This has created excess capacity and increasing pricing pressure for too many manufactured things, a situation only worsened by Japan’s aggressive currency devaluation. This dilemma, with parallels to the commodity economies, becomes especially problematic because of the enormous debt buildup over recent years. While this is a serious issue for the entire region, it has become a major pressing problem in China.

The crucial point here is that this crisis is not a case of one or two little countries screwing up. It’s everywhere, from Latin America to Asia to Eastern Europe. Each country’s problems are unique, but virtually all can be traced back to the destabilizing effects of hot money created by rich countries attempting to export their debt problems to the rest of the world. ZIRP, QE and all the rest succeeded for a while in creating the illusion of recovery in the US, Europe and Japan, but now it’s blow-back time. The mess we’ve made in the subprime countries will, like rising defaults on liar loans and interest-only mortgages in 2007, start moving from periphery to core. As Noland notes:

Yet another crisis market issue became more pressing this week. The Japanese yen gained 2.0% versus the dollar. Yen gains were even more noteworthy against other currencies. The yen rose 4.2% against the Brazilian real, 3.9% versus the Chilean peso, 3.5% against the Mexican peso, 3.9% versus the South African rand, 3.8% against the South Korean won, 3.0% versus the Canadian dollar and 3.0% versus the Australian dollar.

I have surmised that the so-called “yen carry trade” (borrow/short in yen and use proceeds to lever in higher-yielding instruments) could be the largest speculative trade in history. Market trading dynamics this week certainly did not dissuade. When the yen rises, negative market dynamics rather quickly gather momentum. From my perspective, all the major speculative trades come under pressure when the yen strengthens; from EM, to the European “periphery,” to U.S. equities and corporate debt.

It’s worth noting that the beloved European “periphery” trade reversed course this week. The spread between German and both Spain and Italy 10-year sovereign yields widened 19 bps this week. Even the France to Germany spread widened 6 bps this week to an almost 9-month high (72bps). Stocks were slammed for 5.7% and 3.1% in Spain and Italy, wiping out most what had been strong January gains.

Even U.S. equities succumbed to global pressures. Notably, the cyclicals and financials were hit hard. Both have been Wall Street darlings on the bullish premise of a strengthening U.S. (and global) recovery and waning Credit and financial risk. Yet both groups this week seemed to recognize the reality that what is unfolding in China and EM actually matter – and they’re not pro-global growth. With recent extreme bullish sentiment, U.S. equities would appear particularly vulnerable to a global “risk off” market dynamic.

To summarize: 
Developed world banks have lent hundreds of billions of dollars to emerging market businesses and governments. If these debts go bad, those already-impaired banks will be looking at massive, perhaps fatal losses. Meanwhile, trillions of dollars of derivatives have been written by banks and hedge funds on emerging market debt and currencies, with money center banks serving as counterparties on both sides of these contracts. They net out their long and short exposures to hide the true risk, but let just one major counterparty fail and the scam will be exposed, as it was in 2008 when AIG’s implosion nearly bankrupted Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase.

Last but not least, individuals and pension funds in the developed world have invested hundreds of billions of dollars in emerging market stock and bond funds, which are now looking like huge year-ahead losers. The global balance sheet, in short, is about to get a lot more fragile.

So, just as pretty much everyone in the sound money community predicted, tapering will end sooner rather than later when a panicked Fed announces some kind of bigger and better shock-and-awe debt monetization plan. The European Central Bank, which actually shrank its balance sheet in 2013, will reverse course and start monetizing debt on a vast scale. As for Japan, who knows what they can get away with, since their government debt is, as a percentage of GDP, already twice that of the US.

The real question is not whether more debt monetization is coming, but whether it will come soon enough to preserve the asset price bubbles that are right this minute being punctured by the emerging market implosion. If not, it really is 2008 all over again.

The previous articles in this series:

What Blows Up First, Part 1: Europe

What Blows Up First, Part 2: Japan

“Money printing” in this case refers to currency creation in all its forms, electronic and physical.

 

charles hugh smith-Theft Is Deflationary–Especially the Crony-Capitalist/State Kind

charles hugh smith-Theft Is Deflationary–Especially the Crony-Capitalist/State Kind.

Monopoly power in all its forms–in our system, crony capitalism and its partner, the neofeudal state–enables theft on a systemic scale.

If a monopoly forces its customers to pay more for low-quality goods and services because they have no choice, how is that not theft?

If the Mafia raises the price of “protection” on small businesses (another case of monopoly and no other choice), how is that extortion not theft?

When a local government raises junk fees to fund its cronies’ excessive (i.e. non-market-rate) salaries and pensions, how is that monopoly power to extort more money from those with no other choice any different from Mafia extortion/theft?

If a pharmaceutical company extends a patent on a costly medication by changing the dosage slightly, how is that not theft via regulatory capture? If a government contractor charges the Pentagon $1,000 for a hammer (all those overhead charges, tsk-tsk–lobbying corrupt politicos costs a lot, you know), how is that not theft of taxpayers’ money?

When the Federal Reserve drops the yield on savings to near-zero to funnel all that stolen wealth to its cronies on Wall Street, how is that not theft?

Monopoly power in all its forms–in our system, crony capitalism and its partner, the neofeudal state–enables theft on a systemic scale. When crony capitalism and the state are essentially one system, the propaganda organs of the state and mainstream corporate media combine to persuade the stripmined populace that their theft is not theft, it’s “capitalism and democracy at work.” This is known as The Big Lie. What we have is systemic theft, predation and exploitation.

Calling things what they really are would upset the apple cart of systemic exploitation.Let’s Call Things What They Really Are in 2014 (January 15, 2014)

Correspondent Jeff W. explains that all this systemic theft is inherently deflationary:

All forms of stealing are deflationary. Stealing cuts into the average citizen’s disposable income, it reduces how much he can buy. Because there are now fewer dollars chasing more goods, deflation is the inevitable result. Stealing is actually worse than a zero-sum game. Society loses more than the thief takes. In addition to losses from theft, a victim often has to spend more on security measures. Theft also has a chilling effect on capital investment and commerce in general.Consider how many different kinds of theft the American citizen is exposed to: street crime, sickcare industry ripoffs, legal system ripoffs including huge fines for traffic violations, high taxes, interest earnings on his savings that amount to ZIRP, a corporatist state determined to suppress his wages by any means necessary, unending victimization at the hands of predators enabled and protected by the state. If he owns a small business, he has to deal with a corrupt regulatory state, higher taxes, and an enlarged menagerie of predators. Today there are thieves everywhere.

So one big deflation trend is theft. As theft increases, deflation increases. As society collapses and thieves start roaming freely all over the landscape, a deflationary collapse can be expected—absent a determined and persistent campaign of money printing.

Exhibit A for the case that stealing is deflationary is the Dark Ages.Stealing was rampant in the Dark Ages. How did people react to that? By “going medieval.” They wore clothing that made them look poor so as to avoid attracting the attention of thieves. Their dwellings looked poor for the same reason. If they had cash, they would bury it in the ground; no one could be trusted. Unless one was an insider who could get protection from the state, no one’s property was safe.

Capital investments were much too risky, and out of the question. What were the price characteristics of the Dark Ages? Wages were low. Real estate valuations low. Prices of manufactured items (such as they were) were low. Only food was expensive. People can cut back on clothing and shelter, but there is a limit to how much they can cut back on food. In the Dark Ages, people really hunkered down and just focused on basic survival.

Exhibit B is Detroit. Detroit for many years has been a high crime area, i.e. it had lots of thieves running around. What are the price characteristics of Detroit? Wages low. Real estate valuations low. There is very little manufacturing being done inside the city limits today because of high property taxes and crime. There is also very little capital investment for the same reasons.

There is a vicious circle at work here. 1) Thieves control the government; 2) Which results in increased stealing; 3) Deflation results from that; 4) Which gives the thieves a reason to print money and give it to themselves; 5) Which enriches the thieves some more; 6) Which gives them more resources they can use to consolidate their control of the government; 7) Back to step 1.

Many people seem confused about how there could be deflation in the paper (or digital) money era. If they would recognize how much stealing is going on, and if they understood the powerful deflationary effect of stealing, then perhaps they would not be so surprised to observe price decreases, particularly in wages and the prices of manufactured products.

Thank you, Jeff, for explaining the causal connection between systemic theft and deflation. To all those terrified of deflation (for example, central bankers and their cronies holding trillions of dollars in phantom assets and illusory collateral), the solution is obvious: get rid of systemic theft. But since those terrified of deflation are at the top of the monopoly-power thievery pyramid, that is asking the impossible: for the thieves to relinquish their power to steal.

Signs Of Weimar Appearing In The U.S.?

Signs Of Weimar Appearing In The U.S.?.

This article was written by Graham Summers and originally published atPhoenixCapitalResearch.com

History is often written to benefit certain groups over others.

Indeed, you will often find the blame for some of the worst events in history placed on the wrong individuals or factors. Most Americans today continue to argue over liberal vs. conservative beliefs, unaware that the vast majority of economy ills plaguing the country originate in neither party but in the Federal Reserve, which has debased the US Dollar by over 95% in the 20thcentury alone.

With that in mind, I want to consider what actually caused the hyperinflationary period in Weimar Germany. Please consider the quote from Niall Ferguson’s book, “The Ascent of Money” regarding what really happened there:

Yet it would be wrong to see the hyperinflation of 1923 as a simple consequence ofthe Versailles Treaty. That was how the Germans liked to see it, of course…All of this was to overlook the domestic political roots of the monetary crisis. The Weimar tax system was feeble, not least because the new regime lacked legitimacy among higher income groups who declined to pay the taxes imposed on them.

At the same time, public money was spent recklessly, particularly on generous wage settlements for public sector unions. The combination of insufficient taxation and excessive spending created enormous deficits in 1919 and 1920 (in excess of 10 per cent of net national product), before the victors had even presented their reparations bill… Moreover, those in charge of Weimar economic policy in the early 1920s felt they had little incentive to stabilize German fiscal and monetary policy, even when an opportunity presented itself in the middle of 1920.

A common calculation among Germany’s financial elites was that runaway currency depreciation would force the Allied powers into revision the reparations settlement, since the effect would be to cheapen German exports.

What the Germans overlooked was that the inflation induced boom of 1920-22, at a time when the US and UK economies were in the depths of a post-war recession, caused an even bigger surge in imports, thus negating the economic pressure they had hoped to exert. At the heart of the German hyperinflation was a miscalculation.

You’ll note the frightening similarities to the US’s monetary policy today. We see:

1 Reckless spending of public money, particularly in the form of entitlement spending

2 Excessive spending resulting in massive deficits.

3 Little incentive for political leaders to rein in said spending.

4 Intentional currency depreciation in order to make debt payments more feasible.

This sounds like a blueprint for what US leaders (indeed most Western leaders) have engaged in post-2007. The multi-trillion Dollar question is if we’ve already crossed the line in terms of setting the stage for massive inflation down the road.

We believe that it is quite possible… for the following reasons.

The US now sports a Debt to GDP ratio of over 100%.

Every 1% rise in interest rates will result in over $100 billion more in interest payments on US debt.

Indications of inflation (stealth price hikes, wage protests, etc.) are showing up throughout the economy.

Indications that other countries are moving to abandon the US Dollar are present.

In a nutshell we are in a very dangerous position. This doesn’t mean hyperinflation HAS to occur. Indeed, history often times rhymes rather than repeats. However, the fact of the matter is that the same policies which create Weimar Germany are occurring in the US today. How they play out remains to be seen, but it is unlikely it will end well.

No inflation Friday: the dollar has lost 97% of its value against stamps

No inflation Friday: the dollar has lost 97% of its value against stamps.

5c Stamp

January 24, 2014
Sovereign Valley Farm, Chile

One of the greatest lies of the modern financial system (and that’s really saying something) is about inflation.

The puppet masters who control the system have managed to convince people that deflation = bad, and inflation = necessary evil.

Perhaps the even bigger lie is that of the actual inflation statistics. They tell us that there’s no inflation… or minimal inflation.

And they tell us that the ‘target’ rate is 2%. Bear in mind that 2% annual inflation means your currency will lose over 75% of its value during the course of your lifetime.

But these figures are massively understated. And you don’t have to look hard for proof.

US postage stamp rates, for example, are set to increase this weekend. They’ve been going up almost every year since 2006.

This weekend, the rate for a one-ounce first class letter will rise to 49c from 46c, a 6.5% increase. And the price to send a postcard will rise from 33c to 34c, a 3.0% increase.

If you take a longer-term view, the price of a postcard back in 1951 was just one cent. This means that the dollar has lost over 97% of its value against postcard shipping rates in the last six decades.

Let’s look at this another way.

According to the US Department of Labor, the average household income in 1950 was $4,237. This means that the average US household could afford to send 423,700 postcards back then.

Today’s median household income is $51,017 (and that’s from a majority of dual-income households). This means the average family in the Land of the Free can now afford to send about 150,050 postcards.

It’s a huge difference. The standard of living denominated in postcards has declined by nearly two-thirds since the 1950s.

Short-term, long-term, the conclusion is the same: Inflation exists.

And any suggestion to the contrary that inflation is ‘good’ or at least a ‘necessary evil’ is simply a lie. It destroys both purchasing power and standard of living.

Rational, thinking people need to be aware of this. If you hold a lot of your savings in a bank denominated in paper currencies like the dollar or euro, you will lose.

And I’d strongly urge you to consider holding at least a portion of your savings in stronger, more stable currencies, or better yet, alternative asset classes that cannot be inflated away by central bankers.

This includes productive real estate, precious metals, or even collectibles.

Inflation in Canada picks up but remains low at 1.2% – Business – CBC News

Inflation in Canada picks up but remains low at 1.2% – Business – CBC News.

Canada’s inflation rate quickened somewhat to 1.2 per cent in December, higher than November’s level but still low by historical standards.

Statistics Canada said Friday the consumer price index was led higher by gasoline, which was 4.7 per cent more expensive at the end of 2013 than it was at the end of 2012.

The loonie reacted mildly positively to the news, trading up about a quarter of a cent to 90.34 cents US.

Six of the eight categories of items that Statistics Canada tracks the price of were higher.

Prices increased in every province except B.C., where they were flat.

Loonie inches higher

If pump prices are stripped out, inflation would have come in at 1.1 per cent.

That’s still within the band of between one and three per cent, where the Bank of Canada likes to see the rate stay, but it has been on the lower end of that range for a while.

In its latest interest rate decision, the central bank said it expects inflation to remain subdued for a while yet.

Canada’s inflation rate averaged 0.9 per cent last year. That’s down from 1.5 per cent in 2012 and the softest rate since during the recession in 2009.

“When we are already below [our inflation] target, as we are today, we care more about downside risks than upside ones,” Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz said earlier this week.

That’s the central bank’s way of saying it’s less concerned about prices rising to fast, and instead focused on ensuring the economy doesn’t slip any further into disinflation or even deflation.

There’s a lag time of a few months before the impact of Canada’s lower loonie is likely to show itself in inflation data. So economists are expecting the inflation number to come in on the low end of the central bank’s target range for the next several months.

“The inching up in year-on-year [inflation] should not give the [central bank] very much solace on inflation,” Scotiabank said in a commentary Friday morning.

“We don’t expect annual CPI to remain above 1 per cent for too long,” the bank said.

Should We Wallow in the Rising Stock Market?

Should We Wallow in the Rising Stock Market?.

by David John Marotta & Megan Russell | 01-19-2014

sad puppya

Keynesian economists have cited the rising U.S. stock market as evidence that the economy is picking up steam. Then they’ve been surprised by the unemployment and lack of hiring. The stock market, despite record highs, is not correlated to the performance of the overall economy.

The misery index is an economic indicator of unemployment plus inflation. Together these two measurements represent significant economic hardship for the country. The misery index was used frequently during the Nixon, Ford and Carter years as a scorecard to show how government policy can harm working people.

In December, the official unemployment rate decreased to 6.7% . But this was not really good news .

In contrast, officially reported unemployment numbers decrease when enough time passes to discourage the unemployed from looking for work. A decrease is not necessarily beneficial; an increase is clearly detrimental.

In the United States, we need to add a minimum of 127,000 jobs per month just to account for our annual population increase . Last month, only 74,000 jobs were added, the lowest increase since January 2011. Of those, 55,000 were added in the retail sector during the holidays. With so many unemployed experienced workers, many recent college graduates are left chasing too few rookie positions.

The purported decrease in unemployment largely reflects how the government measures it. The unemployment rate only describes people who are currently working or looking for work.

Labor force participation rate 2013/12

During particularly bad times, the unemployment rate frequently decreases by the number of people dropping out of the jobs market entirely . In December, the job participation rate fell to 62.8%, its lowest level in 35 years. According to Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute , if these missing workers were included in the calculation, the unemployment rate would be 10.2%.

Unemployment has never been measured very accurately . Calculations do not count those who have just entered the labor force and haven’t found a job yet, who have been searching for employment so long they have given up the search , who work part time but are actively seeking full-time work and who are actively seeking employment but were not included in the monthly jobs survey.

Unemployment in its truest definition, meaning the portion of people who do not have any job, is 37.2%. This number obviously includes some people who are not or never plan to seek employment. But it does describe how many people are not able to, do not want to or cannot find a way to work. Policies that remove the barriers to employment, thus decreasing this number, are obviously beneficial.

In contrast, officially reported unemployment numbers decrease when enough time passes to discourage the unemployed from looking for work. A decrease is not necessarily beneficial; an increase is clearly detrimental.

So how could our stock market be at such record highs while so many are unemployed? Given current government policies, it is specifically by avoiding U.S. workers that companies are keeping their profits strong. Obamacare punishes large companies for each full-time worker and provides strong incentives for small businesses to stay below 50 full-time-equivalent employees. Automation and outsourcing are making U.S. companies more profitable at the expense of U.S. employment.

Inflation, the other half of the misery index, assists stock prices as well. Every month, the Federal Reserve has been injecting $85 billion into the money supply. This devaluation of the currency causes inflation that naturally pushes all prices, including stock prices, higher.

The broadest measure of inflation is the Consumer Price Index. But since 1997, the government has manipulated the raw data and significantly underreported inflation. Now they use a “hedonic deprecator.” If the quality of a commodity increases more than its price, the quality increase is counted as deflation. And because consumers use “creative substitution,” switching from an expensive good to a similar but cheaper good, the government argues that only a portion of price increases should be counted as inflation.

ShadowStats Inflation

These tricks, along with a host of other dubious accounting schemes, underreport inflation by about 3%. Today, inflation is officially 1.24%. According to Shadow Stats , which computes the old way, it is closer to 4.5%.

Think of that 4.5% of actual inflation as a tax on anyone who is storing their money in dollars. And since 1997 that 3% annual underreporting has had the effect of cutting Social Security benefits by a cumulative 40%.

Today, the misery index would be 7.54 using official numbers. Using Shierholz’s measurement including discouraged workers (10.2%) and the historical method of calculating inflation (4.5%), the current misery index is closer to 14.7, worse even than during the Ford administration.

The younger and more economically disadvantaged members of society feel the misery most acutely. But the economics is much more complex than adding laws to help them directly. Longer unemployment benefits or subsidized government-run health care contribute to systemic government policies that discourage production and employment.

Meanwhile, the stock market can occasionally benefit from the misery index. It does not correlate to an economic recovery but is a powerful financial asset for those wise enough to remain invested and diversified during all kinds of economic movements.

Photo by Fiona McAllister used here under Flickr Creative Commons.

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