Home » Posts tagged 'United States debt ceiling'
Tag Archives: United States debt ceiling
It is rare that investors are given a road map. It is rarer still that the vast majority of those who get it are unable to understand the clear signs and directions it contains. When this happens the few who can actually read the map find themselves in an enviable position. Such is currently the case with gold and gold-related investments.
The common wisdom on Wall Street is that gold has seen the moment of its greatness flicker. This confidence has been fueled by three beliefs: A) the Fed will soon begin trimming its monthly purchases of Treasury and Mortgage Backed Securities (commonly called the “taper”), B) the growing strength of the U.S. economy is creating investment opportunities that will cause people to dump defensive assets like gold, and C) the renewed confidence in the U.S. economy will shore up the dollar and severely diminish gold’s allure as a safe haven. All three of these assumptions are false. (Our new edition of the Global Investor Newsletter explores how the attraction never dimmed in India).
Recent developments suggest the opposite, that: A) the Fed has no exit strategy and is more likely to expand its QE program than diminish it, B) the U. S. economy is stuck in below-trend growth and possibly headed for another recession C) America’s refusal to deal with its fiscal problems will undermine international faith in the dollar.
Parallel confusion can be found in Wall Street’s reaction to the debt ceiling drama (for more on this see my prior commentary on the Debt Ceiling Delusions). Many had concluded that the danger was that Congress would fail to raise the ceiling. But the real peril was that it would be raised without any mitigating effort to get in front of our debt problems. Of course, that is just what happened.
These errors can be seen most clearly in the gold market. Last week, Goldman Sachs, the 800-pound gorilla of Wall Street, issued a research report that many read as gold’s obituary.The report declared that any kind of agreement in Washington that would forestall an immediate debt default, and defuse the crisis, would be a “slam dunk sell” for gold. Given that most people never believed Congress would really force the issue, the Goldman final note to its report initiated a panic selling in gold. Of course, just as I stated on numerous radio and television appearances in the day or so following the Goldman report, the “smartest guys in the room” turned out to be wrong. As soon as Congress agreed to kick the can, gold futures climbed $40 in one day.
Experts also warned that the dollar would decline if the debt ceiling was not raised. But when it was raised (actually it was suspended completely until February 2014) the dollar immediately sold off to a 8 ½ month low against the euro. Ironically many feared that failing to raise the debt ceiling would threaten the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency. In reality, it’s the continued lifting of that ceiling that is undermining its credibility.
The markets were similarly wrong-footed last month when the “The Taper That Wasn’t” caught everyone by surprise. The shock stemmed from Wall Street’s belief in the Fed’s false bravado and the conclusions of mainstream economists that the economy was improving. I countered by saying that the signs of improvement (most notably rising stock and real estate prices) were simply the direct results of the QE itself and that a removal of the QE would stop the “recovery” dead in its tracks. Despite the Fed surprise, most people still believe that it is itching to pull the taper trigger and that it will do so at its earliest opportunity (although many now concede that it may have to wait until this political mess is resolved). In contrast, I believe we are now stuck in a trap of infinite QE (which is the theme of my Newsletter issued last week).
The reality is that Washington has now committed itself to a policy of permanent debt increase and QE infinity that can only possibly end in one way: a currency crisis. While the dollar’s status as reserve currency, and America’s position as both the world’s largest economy and its largest debtor, will create a difficult and unpredictable path towards that destination, the ultimate arrival can’t be doubted. The fact that few investors are drawing these conclusions has allowed gold, and precious metal mining stocks, to remain close to multi year lows, even while these recent developments should be signaling otherwise. This creates an opportunity.
Gold moved from $300 to $1,800 not because investors believed the government would hold the line on debt, but because they believed that the U.S. fiscal position would get progressively worse. That is what happened this week. By deciding to once again kick the can down the road, Washington did not avoid a debt crisis. They simply delayed it. That is why I tried to inform investors that gold should rally if the debt limit were raised.Instead most investors put their faith in Goldman Sachs.
Investors should be concluding that America will never deal with its fiscal problems on its own terms. In fact, since we have now redefined the problem as the debt ceiling, rather than the debt itself, all efforts to solve the real problem may be cast aside. It now falls on our nation’s creditors to provide the badly needed financial discipline that our own elected leaders lack the courage to face. That discipline will take the form of a dollar crisis, which will morph into a sovereign debt crisis. This would send U.S. consumer prices soaring, push the economy deeper into recession, and exert massive upward pressure on U.S. interest rates. At that point the Fed will have a very difficult decision to make: vastly expand QE to buy up all the bonds that the world is trying to unload (which could crash the dollar), or to allow bonds to fall and interest rates to soar (thereby crashing the economy instead).
The hard choices that our leaders have just avoided will have to be made someday under far more burdensome circumstances. It will have to choose which promises to keep and which to break. Much of the government will be shut down, this time for real. If the Fed does the wrong thing and expands QE to keep rates low, the ensuing dollar collapse will be even more damaging to our economy and our creditors. Sure, none of the promises will be technically broken, but they will be rendered meaningless, as the bills will be paid with nearly worthless money.
In fact, the Chinese may finally be getting the message. Late last week, as the debt ceiling farce gathered steam in Washington, China’s state-run news agency issued perhaps its most dire warning to date on the subject: “it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world.” Sometimes maps can be very easy to read. If the dollar is doomed, gold should rise.
- Ron Paul On the Never Ending QE Cycle (tradethenewsroom.com)
- Manipulated Markets Prospects: Gold, U.S. Dollar, Bonds, Equities & Interest Rates (silverdoctors.com)
In this exclusive interview with Birch Gold Group, former Congressman Ron Paul shares his opinions on a number of topics, including investing in physical gold and silver, the future of the U.S. dollar and the role of the Federal Reserve. Read the full transcript below, or listen to the recorded version located below Congressman Paul’s photo
Rachel Mills for Birch Gold Group (BGG): This is Rachel Mills for Birch Gold Group. I am speaking with Ron Paul today. How are you, Ron Paul?
Ron Paul (RP): I am doing very well. Nice to talk to you Rachel.
BGG: It’s good to talk to you again, and by the way of information for Birch’s audience, I was your last press secretary on Capitol Hill in Congress and I worked for you for the 5 years. So I may be cheating a little bit because a lot of your answers to my questions I maybe have a pretty good guess at what you might say.
BGG: But, just really quick – today with you I’d like to go over several things. But I’d like to ask your opinion on things like Janet Yellen as the next Fed Chair, about debt ceiling and shutdown issues. I want to get into, briefly, if you are still a buyer of gold even though it is so “expensive”. But first I wanted to introduce Birch Gold’s listeners to your background a little bit because I think it’s fascinating. In 1971, Nixon closed the gold window which led to the end of the Bretton Woods agreement. That was very important event for you, I know for sure, because you knew at the time that it would eventually destroy the currency, which we are still experiencing. And you said that that was what got you into politics to begin with. Had you been reading Austrian economists before that?
RP: Yes, for a good while. As a matter of fact, it was 1971, there was confirmation of the Austrian economic writers who had been predicting that would happen as early as Henry Hazlitt said when the IMF was set up in 1945. He said it wouldn’t work and Bretton Woods would break down. And by the 50′s and the 60′s people were rejecting it and it was so artificial and it was fragile. So people did know that it was coming, and mainly it was coming because the governments pretended that the dollar would be as good as gold at $35 an ounce forever, yet they kept printing dollars and it was pretty simple logic to figure out there’ll be a limit. The governments worked real hard to convince the people that there was no problem, that the dollar would always be valued at $35 an ounce.
But finally the market overwhelmed. The politicians and Congresses, and Central Banks can manipulate things for a while but eventually if they are out of sync with the market, the market will overwhelm. And even if the government won’t permit it legally to do it, it just drives the whole system into the underground economy. So fixed exchange rates and different things don’t work, they just hide the fact. But in 1971, it was confirmation that everything that the Austrians were saying as far back as the beginning of the Bretton Woods, that was true. And of course we’ve been suffering the consequences from that ever since.
BGG: Yeah and I’ve heard people argue that the dollar is doing well against other currencies. But I know for Austrians and for people who understand gold, like you and me, that’s not much solace because it’s all on a race to the bottom.
RP: Right and the ultimate measure of the value of the currency is what it purchases, so gold is a good indicator long term, I don’t think it’s a good indicator short term, because there are a lot of factors, just like in the 50′s and 60′s, they were able to hold gold at $35 an ounce when it should have been $235 an ounce! But anyway, overall in the long term it’s what the dollar will purchase. And even though our government tells us today there is no inflation, they are trying to get prices to rise at at least 2% a year, yet there are some things in our economy, the prices are soaring: the price of a bond, the price of education, the price of medical care – all of these things are going up.
So there is a lot of price inflation, but that’s the ultimate tests. You can measure one currency against another, gold is a long-term indicator. But if none of the prices were affected by printing money, it would be no big deal. But they are and of course the major problem is not only the price increases, it’s the malinvestment, the overinvestment, the bubbles that form and the corrections that have to come. That’s where the real problem is, in addition to the cost of living going up and hurting the poor and the middle class, much more so than it will the wealthy.
BGG: Right, which leads nicely to Janet Yellen as the next Fed Chair, as recently has been announced. What do you think of Janet Yellen? Do you think she’s going to solve all our problems?
RP: No, she’ll make them worse. She’s inherited a mess, although she was a participant in the mess and she always argued for more inflation. One thing I find a little bit interesting is that she has a reputation for transparency. She wants to tell the markets exactly what their decisions are early on and let the markets know what they are doing. But if it comes true transparency, like allowing an audit of the Federal Reserve, and letting us know who they bail out and when they bail out and what they did in ’09 with their trillions of dollars, and all the international transactions, there’s no way that’s going to be permissible. Because that’s where all the power and control is accomplished, it’s behind the scenes with the Fed on international transactions.
But if anything, she takes a position, not only did she endorse what Bernanke was doing, she was always much more dovish on trying to prevent prices from going up and having, you know, price inflation. She was arguing the case for even more, so the odds of her having the guts or the wisdom to start backing off the purchase of debt, it’s slim to none. So that will certainly continue and it’s still working on the surface. The longer it lasts, the worse the correction will be when eventually people give up on our dollar and give up on our debt.
BGG: So do you think Larry Summers would have been any better? He was rumored to be Obama’s preferred choice. What do you think?
RP: No, the policies wouldn’t be all that different, even if he had been slightly more reserved in credit creation. He was also a person that would… there is a subjective factor in markets too – and he would have added as another subjective factor because people didn’t like him. And he might be just, you know, annoying the marketplaces because that is a factor, they might trust him less. But overall they’re very much the same – both of them. Anybody who can even be considered to be Chairman of the Federal Reserve will be an endorser of Keynesian economics, that the lender of last resort is crucial for the banks and all the currencies and Central Banks of the world.
And they believe, though of course, the most important role for the Fed – and Congress never talks about it, but they secretly acknowledge it – without the Fed, who would buy the debt? And if somebody didn’t buy the debt, interest rates would soar. So even this big talk about all the arguments in Washington on the issues of war and spending and welfare and debt, they’re in total agreement with each other, and they all support the Fed’s role in being not only the lender but the printer of the last resort. Print what you need… but just common sense tells you that this can’t last.
BGG: Who would’ve you picked?
RP: I would’ve picked nobody. I don’t think we should have a Fed, so I wouldn’t pick a Chairman. But even though in the Presidential campaign when they pushed me – “well, you’ll have to pick someone to unwind it” or something like that – I always threw out Jim Grant’s name. Because I’ve known him, he’s an Austrian economist, he knows that monetizing the debt is bad and if they were trying to work on a transition, somebody like that, you know, would move us in the right direction. But he wouldn’t last either because if he decided right now to only buy $75 billion worth of government debt per month, the markets would crash probably and then they would want to throw him out. So it’s a system that is very friable and unworkable and since they will not work out of it gracefully and deliberately, you know, we will probably go on to having amajor crash of the dollar – that’s what I see happening.
BGG: Yeah, scary. Moving on, I wanted to ask you about the debt ceiling. We are up against the debt ceiling again, as we always find ourselves every few months it seems. And so, we’ve had an impending crisis if they don’t raise the debt ceiling, which everyone expects they will find a way to raise it. But then, before you know it, we will be right up against it again. So what is the point of the debt ceiling anymore?
RP: Well, it was intended to restrain government but some people don’t even like it, they want to get rid of it, just so the government never has to be hesitant in spending as much as they want. But you’re right: Once they raise it, they just go back to doing the same thing. The debt ceiling isn’t as necessary – this October 17th day isn’t as crucial as they pretend, because that’s an arbitrary date. They could have picked the 16th or the 20th or any date they wanted.
Besides, the national debt hasn’t moved since May because they’re always taking money elsewhere and spending it and paying all the bills. So they can continue to do that for a week or a month or a year if they really wanted to. Just pay the bills as the money comes in and they could always pay the interest rates. And the other thing… if, say, we were in charge and we wanted to change things to work our way out of it and we wanted to deal with this national debt, just eliminate the debt we owe to the Federal Reserve. We pay a lot of interest to the Federal Reserve and they turn this money and they use this money for all kinds of things, so I would just wipe that debt off the books. But if we did that today, that means they would have a lot of room for more debt – that would lower the national debt by $2 trillion.
BGG: Yeah but it wouldn’t solve the spending problems…
RP: This government would spend more money if we got this freebie! But I would only think that would be worthwhile thinking about it is, you know, to tide this over and work our way out of it. But when the reforms are necessary when a crash comes and if we have to pay off the debt, you don’t have to pay the debt to the Federal Reserve if you are going to eliminate it or restore confidence and quit printing and quit monetizing debt – you could eliminate that. There is no moral obligation, there is really no legal obligation either because the institution isn’t even constitutional, you know…
BGG: …institution to begin with, yeah. It seems like debt ceiling, the only purpose anymore is just to create an artificial crisis which Washington seems to thrive on.
RP: Yeah they do and then they argue which authoritarian is going to run they show. And they don’t argue over the issue, it’s just the matter of which one, and then they are always talking about compromise, but they’re never talking about compromise between two authoritarians who want to manage the economy in different ways. They always want those who believe in limited government, the Constitution and freedom to give up so much of it, and then they call it, you know, a “good” thing to sacrifice liberty for the benefit of the authoritarians. But the authoritarians are in charge and I don’t think that people who don’t believe in that system should yield anything.
I think that we all should stick to our guns and say that the rule of law is important, our privacy is important, our First Amendment is important, the way we go to war is important, and never give in. But right now these battles that we have when it comes down to shutting down government as a political stunt or the debt limit, it’s another stunt for the two variations of compulsion, you know, by government. They’re fighting over who has the power. And I think the American people are sick and tired of it, and rightfully so, but I don’t think they fully understand that it’s actually where the divisions are. They keep thinking that, you know, if those of us who believed in limited government would just give in and say, “Okay, go ahead and increase the national debt instead of by $1 trillion, increase it by $500 billion and worry about it next week”, and that’s supposed to be a good type of compromise. It solves nothing and makes our problems worse.
BGG: Yeah, and that’s why I appreciate Birch Gold trying to educate people and win on that front, I know it’s important to you. But I wanted to ask you: Are you still a buyer of gold? It has gotten so “expensive”, some people even say there is a gold bubble. Is it possible for gold to be in a bubble?
RP: Well, it can get out of whack, people can buy… right now, of course gold is in a bit of a correction. So it’s different than a bubble that occurs when the interest rates are very low in the dollar system and then people overdo things and they overbuy. But markets aren’t always smooth, and the gold market isn’t smooth, so it goes up, it might go up too much, and at times too fast and then it makes a correction because the traders are in there and they have all kinds of motivation. If people look at it long-term, you know, from when the Fed started when it was $20 an ounce up to the time it went up $1,900 an ounce, you know, that’s more of the trend. Of course now it’s down. Instead of people arguing that it’s too “expensive”, I would think people who are in it for the long term, it looks to me like this would be a very good time to buy.
BGG: I would think so.
RP: So some people might say, “Oh well no, it’s too expensive, because it used to be $1,000 or $500 and I’ll wait for that.” No, I think this is a good time. I personally don’t get too much involved because I bought my insurance a few years ago at a different price. I look at gold as insurance and others will, you know, others might be just at a time where they can start buying their insurance against the dollar fiasco, and I would say this is as good time as any.
BGG: Yeah, I have a family member, I won’t get too specific who, but a family member who is inquiring about gold. It’s interesting to me because this person is not someone who is typically into economics and the things that I talk about. But now she’s looking around and getting a little bit nervous and thinking that gold might be a good investment, but wondering if it’s too late to jump in. So…
RP: Certainly if they thought it was too late that means that they must trust the government to balance the budget, and trust the Fed not to print any more money and that you’ll never see prices going up. And most people don’t buy into the government’s argument that the cost of living isn’t going up. People on fixed incomes… and this is one thing that conservatives and libertarians don’t give much credibility to, because we don’t like the setting of wages, you know, and pushing up minimum wages with the law… but the truth is, the cost of living has gone up much faster than the minimum wage.
But that’s characteristic: Cost of living goes up much faster than Social Security benefits. But the fault there is the currency, not the fault of laws not matching up with the system and compelling businesspeople to pay a certain amount. But no, I think the cost of living – which isn’t inflation in the ordinary sense – is very, very serious and that’s why people are saying, “I need more money, send me more money on my Social Security check” or “Send me more money by another law, the minimum wage law.” And this misses the point because it really is the nature of money and deficits and what the Fed does.
BGG: Right. Well, how is retirement treating you? Are you retired?
RP: Not really. I’m retired from Congress and that is good. Not that I didn’t enjoy working there with my staff but…
BGG: You have to say that!
RP: I’m just glad I’m not going back and forth on airplanes, on John Boehner’s schedule. But I have a lot of activities going on: I’m working hard on homeschooling, I have a curriculum on homeschooling, which I like, and the Internet programming, I do some radio broadcasting and write a book now and then, so I’m very happy with my schedule.
BGG: Yeah, I’ve looked into your homeschooling curriculum and I’m a subscriber to the Ron Paul Channel, so it’s all very exciting.
RP: Wonderful. Hey, RonPaulChannel.com.
BGG: Good! Well thank you so much for joining me today. I really enjoy talking to you. Again, my old boss, Congressman Ron Paul. Thank you so much.
RP: Thank you Rachel.
The U.S. Debt Ceiling Has Been Suspended
Posted by sierra2one
By: Tom Chatham
When is a debt ceiling not a ceiling? When it has been removed. That is the solution that was enacted on Wednesday night to fund the government for the next 90 days. This will last from Oct. 17, 2013 until Feb. 7, 2014. This has some very dangerous implications for Americans. It means as of right now there is no debt ceiling and the federals can spend as much as they like. With all of the previous spending by DHS, and the impending economic crash that we face in the near future, it is terrifying to think what the federals might buy in the next 90 days that they can use against American citizens.
With this scenario in place the writing is on the wall and foreigners can read it well even if Americans cannot. The dumping of treasuries will likely increase substantially over the next few months as the collapse becomes evident to everyone but Americans. This is the end game and most people don’t even know they are in it.
With the debt ceiling removed even temporarily, the government has the ability to overspend and when the ceiling is reinstated in 90 days any new debt over the current limit will not be debatable. The limit will automatically have to be raised to that amount. That is why President Obama answered “no” when asked if there would be a renewed debt debate next year. He knows he can bypass it. When the time comes for the House to raise the debt limit they will either have to raise it to encompass the additional spending or not raise it and possibly trigger a default. Either way the Democrats can blame the Republicans for the additional debt increase or a default.
It could go something like this. The government decides how much extra money they will need until after the elections next year and borrow it now. The money is dispersed into the usual slush funds until needed to avoid any new debt debates before the election. The Republicans will lose the ability to stop uncontrolled government growth next year and the Democrats will deprive them of any debt debates before Nov. This will give the Democrats a big edge in the elections and could allow them to take some seats in the house. Not that changing from one party to the other will change anything, it will just determine how fast we collapse.
By this time next year I suspect the Petrodollar will be on life support if not completely dead and high inflation will be rearing its’ ugly head. The governments answer to this will be price controls which will lead to shortages. Then things go downhill fast from there. That’s if we actually make it to next fall without a serious incident in the U.S. before then.
These are truly perilous times for the U.S. and everyone should prepare as they deem appropriate. The west line has shifted and we are now on the trailing edge of history. If we are to survive as a nation and prosper again we must learn to operate with a smaller more efficient economy as others before us have done. This will entail a smaller more localized economy with more small producers and a stable medium of exchange. The only alternative is to become a failed third world nation with no future.
- The Real Next Debt Ceiling Deadline Might Not Be Until June Or July (businessinsider.com)
- U.S. debt jumps $300 billion – tops $17 trillion for first time (washingtontimes.com)
- The Debt Ceiling Wasn’t Raised, Just Disregarded (personalliberty.com)
- Senate Debt Deal Includes Provision Lessening Congress’ Power On Debt Ceiling… (breitbart.com)
- How to Disarm Congress’s Suicide Bomb – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
The political class in Washington has failed to reach a deal. They are effectively playing a game of chicken with the markets to see who blinks first. As usual, there are plenty of lies and spin swirling around this situation.
The US Treasury has stated it will run out of cash on October 17.
This in of itself is a strange claim as technically we hit the debt limit back in May and have been resorting to “extraordinary” measures since then. I don’t recall anyone in at the Treasury talking about the importance of the “debt ceiling” then, do you?
Secondly, the Government has effectively been running a Ponzi scheme with our debt for the greater part of 20 years. Over $5.7 trillion of our debt is owned by the Federal Government, ($2.1 trillion is owned by the Fed, $2.6 trillion is owned by Social Security, and over $1 trillion is owned by various Federal Retirement entities).
Indeed, the single largest owner of US debt is not in fact China, but our own Government. We’ve been running this kind of scheme for over 20 years.
Now this is not to say that a debt ceiling breach or a possible default on some payments are NOT huge issues. What I am saying is that the US Government can shuffle money around just as it has for the last 20 years to insure that we meet our debt obligations….
- Ponzi Scheme National Debt? (billlawrencedittos.com)
- Lew’s Testimony on Debt Mirrors SEC’s Definition of Ponzi Scheme (cnsnews.com)
- The Biggest Ponzi Scheme In The History Of The World (thehovistrader.wordpress.com)
This chart from Citi’s Matt King pretty much sums it up (and contrary to what Magic Money Tree growers will tell you, debt is not wealth).
15 Bankers just paid a visit to the White House, listened to President Obama, and explained what a total disaster it would be if the US debt-ceiling is breached and Treasuries technically default. While the politicians exclaimed how bad a government shutdown would be, the banks have turned the panic dial to 11 as Goldman’s Lloyd Blankfein noted, bankers are “in a position to really know early what the consequences are,” and it would be catastrophic. The irony that the firm which the government is trying to fine $20 billion for selling fraudulent debt and giving bad advice is now providing the same government with advice on its own bad debt, is not lost on us as Dimon was among the visitors but it is Blankfein’s warning, echoing Obama, that will get the headlines, “they shouldn’t use the threat of causing the U.S. to fail on its obligation to repay debt as a cudgel.”…..
- Bankers Warn Obama, Don’t Mess With The Debt Ceiling (Again) (brotherjohnf.com)
- Left pushing Obama to raise the debt ceiling with executive order (headlineclicker.com)
- Obama Warns Wall Street On Debt Ceiling (outsidethebeltway.com)
- Krauthammer’s Take: Real Threat to Obama Lies With Debt Ceiling (nationalreview.com)