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There is a reason why US consumer revolving (credit card) credit growth is getting lower and lower and lower and at last check posted a mere 0.2% annual increase.
That reason is that as the NY Fed disclosed moments ago, federal student loans officially crossed the $1 trillion level for the first time ever. Notably: the quarterly student loan balance has increased every quarter without fail for the past 10 years!
And just to prove that while credit card balances are plunging due to more stringent bank repayment requirements, this is more than offset by borrowers shifting to student loans, where the delinquency rate on student loans is soaring and has just hit an all time high of 11.83%, an increase of almost 1% compared to last quarter. Even according to just the government lax definition of delinquency, a whopping $120 billion in student loans will be discharged. Thank you Uncle Sam for your epically lax lending standards in a world in
which it is increasingly becoming probably that up to all of the loans will end up in deliquency.
A number of people have asked me to expand on how the rapid expansion of money supply leads to an effect the opposite of that intended: a fall in economic activity. This effect starts early in the recovery phase of the credit cycle, and is particularly marked today because of the aggressive rate of monetary inflation. This article takes the reader through the events that lead to this inevitable outcome.
There are two indisputable economic facts to bear in mind. The first is that GDP is simply a money-total of economic transactions, and a central bank fosters an increase in GDP by making available more money and therefore bank credit to inflate this number. This is not the same as genuine economic progress, which is what consumers desire and entrepreneurs provide in an unfettered market with reliable money. The second fact is that newly issued money is not absorbed into an economy evenly: it has to be handed to someone first, like a bank or government department, who in turn passes it on to someone else through their dealings and so on, step by step until it is finally dispersed.
As new money enters the economy, it naturally drives up the prices of goods bought with it. This means that someone seeking to buy a similar product without the benefit of new money finds it is more expensive, or put more correctly the purchasing power of his wages and savings has fallen relative to that product. Therefore, the new money benefits those that first obtain it at the expense of everyone else. Obviously, if large amounts of new money are being mobilised by a central bank, as is the case today, the transfer of wealth from those who receive the money later to those who get it early will be correspondingly greater.
Now let’s look at today’s monetary environment in the United States. The wealth-transfer effect is not being adequately recorded, because official inflation statistics do not capture the real increase in consumer prices. The difference between official figures and a truer estimate of US inflation is illustrated by John Williams of Shadowstats.com, who estimates it to be 7% higher than the official rate at roughly 9%, using the government’s computation methodology prior to 1980. Simplistically and assuming no wage inflation, this approximates to the current rate of wealth transfer from the majority of people to those that first receive the new money from the central bank.
The Fed is busy financing most of the Government’s borrowing. The newly-issued money in Government’s hands is distributed widely, and maintains prices of most basic goods and services at a higher level than they would otherwise be. However, in providing this funding, the Fed creates excess reserves on its own balance sheet, and it is this money we are considering.
The reserves on the Fed’s balance sheet are actually deposits, the assets of commercial banks and other domestic and foreign depository institutions that use the Fed as a bank, in the same way the rest of us have bank deposits at a commercial bank. So even though these deposits are on the Fed’s balance sheet, they are the property of individual banks.
These banks are free to draw down on their deposits at the Fed, just as you and I can draw down our deposits. However, because US banks have been risk-averse and under regulatory pressure to improve their own financial position, they have tended to leave money on deposit at the Fed, rather than employ it for financial activities. There are signs this is changing.
Rather than earn a quarter of one per cent, some of this deposit money has been employed in financial speculation in derivative markets, or found its way into the stock market, gone into residential property, and some is now going into consumer loans for credit-worthy borrowers.
In addition to the government’s deficit spending, these channels represent ways in which money is entering the economy. Furthermore, anyone working in the main finance centres is being paid well, so prices in New York and London are driven higher than in other cities and in the country as a whole. They spend their bonuses on flashy cars and country houses, benefiting salesmen and property values in fashionable locations. And with stock prices close to their all-time highs, investors with portfolios everywhere feel financially better off, so they can increase their spending as well.
All the extra spending boosts GDP, and to some extent it has a snowball effect. Banks loosen their purse strings a little more, and spending increases further. But the number of people benefiting is only a small minority of the population. The rest, low-paid workers on fixed incomes, pensioners, people living on modest savings in cash at the bank, and part time employed as well as the unemployed find their cost of living has gone up. They all think prices have risen, and don’t understand that their earnings, pensions and savings have been reduced by monetary inflation: they are the ultimate victims of wealth transfer.
While luxury goods are in strong demand in London and New York, general merchants in the country find trading conditions tough. Higher prices are forcing most people to spend less, or to seek cheaper alternatives. Manufacturers of everyday goods have to find ways to reduce costs, including firing staff. After all if you transfer wealth from ordinary folk they will simply spend less and businesses will suffer.
So we have a paradox: growth in GDP remains positive; indeed artificially strong because of the under-recording of inflation, while in truth the economy is in a slump. The increase in GDP, which reflects the money being spent by the fortunate few before it is absorbed into general circulation, conceals a worse economic situation than before. The effect of an expansion of new money into an economy does not make the majority of people better off; instead it makes them worse off because of the wealth transfer effect. No wonder unemployment remains stubbornly high.
It is the commonest fallacy in economics today that monetary inflation stimulates activity. Instead, it benefits the few at the expense of the majority. The experience of all currency inflations is just that, and the worse the inflation the more the majority of the population is impoverished.
The problem for central banks is that the alternative to maintaining an increasing pace of monetary growth is to risk triggering a widespread debt crisis involving both over-indebted governments and also over-extended businesses and home-owners. This was why the concept of tapering, or putting a brake on the rate of money creation, destabilised worldwide markets and was rapidly abandoned. With undercapitalised banks already squeezed between bad debts and depositor liabilities, there is the potential for a cascade of financial failures. And while many central bankers could profit by reading and understanding this article, the truth is they are not appointed to face up to the reality that monetary inflation is economically destructive, and that escalating currency expansion taken to its logical conclusion means the currency itself will eventually become worthless.
- What is Money? (theepochtimes.com)
- Why You Don’t Feel Richer After Four Years of Recovery (safehaven.com)
- The euro is soaring. That’s terrible news for Europe. (washingtonpost.com)
Public corruption, based on all the evidence, appears rampant. And the ranks of those convicted in office have swelled to absolutely unacceptable levels. State Senators as well as State Assemblymen; elected officials as well as party leaders; city council members as well as town mayors; Democrats as well as Republicans.
– Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (the district that has failed to rein in the serial crimes by Wall Street’s biggest firms)
It’s no surprise to me that New York is exceedingly corrupt. It’s a huge city, with a ton of wealth and massive income inequality. That’s basically the primary breeding ground for wide-scale corruption. However, it also comes as no surprise to me that the situation has gotten a lot worse in recent years. After all, NYC is the headquarters of some of the largest financial institutions in the world. As such, some of the worst actors in the recent financial collapse call the city home. The whole world watched as these criminals and shysters not only evaded criminal charges, but were also rewarded trillions of dollars of public support for their efforts.
The example was set. Crime pays, and now the entire city seems to be following their lead.
Pam Martens has written and excellent article about corruption within New York’s legal system. Some excerpts from Counter Punch are below:
The insidious greed and public looting that Wall Street has nurtured to an art form in New York City is metastasizing like a virulent tumor strain throughout the state, fraying the social fabric and crushing people caught in its grip like bugs.
On Tuesday evening, September 17, 2013, Seema Kalia was scheduled to give testimony before the first public hearing of the New York State Moreland Commission on Public Corruption. But according to Michelle Duffy, a spokesperson for the Commission, when Kalia’s name was called that evening, there was no response.
Kalia could not respond because she was abruptly arrested in the foyer of a courtroom on the very morning she was set to give testimony, ostensibly for contacting her ex husband, a portfolio manager on Wall Street, seeking back support payments. Kalia is being charged with violating a court order barring her from contact with her husband because she is alleged to have thrown one of his own men’s shoes at him in 2012 – a device characterized by the District Attorney’s office as a “weapon.” Typically, a misdemeanor charge of this nature would not result in jail time.
In Kalia’s case, however, she has been jailed at Rikers Island since September 17 and when she went before a Judge on October 4, she was sent back to jail for another 33 days after she declined to plead guilty to attempting to do bodily harm with a “weapon.” Her bond was doubled from $7,500 to $15,000. The earliest she might be released is November 7, her next court date.
When it came time for the general public to testify about public corruption, it wasn’t legislative leaders the witnesses railed against, it was corrupt judges. Multiple witnesses testified to having real estate property stolen through corrupt court proceedings. One witness, Dale Javino, said he was cheated out of his life savings in bankruptcy court and what happened to him “is like what happens in Nazi Germany…”
Janice Schacter, a retired attorney, said that the Thomas Street location of the New York State Supreme Court “is pay to play; orders are not enforced, laws are not applied, domestic violence is treated with derision and conflicts of interest are ignored. Deference and preferential treatment are given to wealthy spouses and lawyers of prestigious firms.” Schacter also testified that the judge involved in her case attempted to censor her contact with the press by threatening to send her to jail at Rikers Island for 20 days. She said she was still having nightmares about it.
The one thing that sets the two apart is that Seema Kalia is behind bars in Rikers Island over a misdemeanor charge which is incorrectly listed as a Class D Felony at the New York City Department of Correction inmate lookup web site. I provided the correct information to the Department of Correction, showing that the shoe-throwing incident had previously been reduced to a misdemeanor by the District Attorney’s office, and asking if someone might have provided phony documents to incarcerate Ms. Kalia. A response was promised by my deadline. None was forthcoming.
In 2007, New York State Supreme Court Judge Gerald P. Garson was convicted of accepting bribes from divorce attorney Paul Siminovsky.During an eight-month investigation by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, a video camera secretly placed in Garson’s chambers captured Siminovsky plying Garson with expensive cigars and cash. In court proceedings, Siminovsky testified that he entertained the judge with drinks and meals in exchange for favorable courtroom treatment. Siminovsky pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in jail.
After years of appeals, Garson, who had heard over 1,100 divorce cases, served only 2 ½ years in prison before being paroled on December 23, 2009. His maximum term could have been as much as 15 years at the time of sentencing but he received a sentence of 3 to 10 years. His early release set off protests with signs saying “Crime Pays In New York City” and “Justice for Sale.”
If one needs the ultimate proof that New York cannot heal itself, consider the amount of the bail bond that was set prior to sentencing after Judge Garson was convicted of accepting bribes while seated as a New York State Supreme Court Judge. His bond was set at $15,000. That’s the amount set in Seema Kalia’s case for a misdemeanor charge stemming from throwing a man’s shoe.
A $15,000 bond for a woman throwing a shoe at her Wall Street ex-husband, and a $15,000 bond for a state Supreme Court judge for accepting bribes. That pretty much sums it up.
Good thing Mayor Bloomberg is focused on arresting Banksy when the city’s legal system has become one giant cesspool of fraud and corruption.
Full article here.
- New York State Is Facing a Contagion of Corruption (wallstreetonparade.com)
- New York Times website subject to ‘malicious external attack’ (theguardian.com)
- The New York Times website is offline for some due to alleged ‘external attack’ (thenextweb.com)
- Syrian Electronic Army attack suspected on New York Times (bangordailynews.com)
- The New York Times website goes down by suspected hack (neowin.net)
- New York Times website goes down in possible Syrian-led hack (upi.com)
- ‘New York Times’ Website Goes Down After ‘Malicious External Attack’ (mashable.com)
- Chesapeake Energy Stops Holding NY Landowners Hostage In Fracking Leases (ecowatch.com)
- As N.Y. fracking ban drags on, leading energy company backs out (washingtontimes.com)
- Anti-Frackers Win – Chesapeake Gives Up New York Gas Leases (forbes.com)
- Chesapeake (CHK) Drops Energy Leases in Fracking-shy New York (wallstreetpit.com)
- Billionaire Bloomberg urges teens to skip college and become plumbers (refreshingnews99.blogspot.in)
- NYC Mayor Bloomberg reportedly threatens to ‘fucking destroy’ the taxi industry (theverge.com)
- Mayor Bloomberg Reportedly Told NY Taxi Boss ‘I Am Going To Destroy Your F—ing Industry’ (businessinsider.com)
- Pimco Defends $8.5 Billion BofA Mortgage Accord – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- BofA could still put Countrywide into bankruptcy, executive says (uk.reuters.com)
- New York AG May Follow Greeberg Case, Drop Claims Against BofA Over Merrill (insurancejournal.com)
- Tar Sands Solutions Network launches oil sands news aggregation site (vancouverobserver.com)
- Students, Community Protest Utah Tar Sands Conference (southwestearthfirst.wordpress.com)
- Academics warn Canada against further tar sands production (guardian.co.uk)
- UK signals support for EU import of Canadian tar sands oil (guardian.co.uk)