Tag Archives: inflation

Why All Governments are in Debt

Here is a concise and eloquent statement by Godfrey Bloom, a member of the European Parliament (MEP), describing the fraud that is being perpetrated on the people of every country by the politicians and bankers who collude to perpetuate to central banking regime.

The central banking regime enables parasitic drains on the economy in the form of unnecessary interest charges levied on the people’s use of their own credit, and chronic deficit spending by national governments that is enabled by putting counterfeit money into circulation under color of law.

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Who’s Left, who’s Right, and who should issue money?

I have in my possession, a copy of a copy of an essay by E. C. Riegel, one of many that I gleaned from the files of Spencer MacCallum who had the foresight to rescue Riegel’s literary legacy from oblivion, and the good sense to make his insightful works on money and freedom generally available. The article titled, The Right Is Still To Come, is transcribed below. It bears no date, but I would guess that it was probably written sometime between 1945 and Riegel’s death in 1953.

In the very first paragraph, Riegel sets forth the essential target of his argument, saying, “The professed socialists and the professed anti-socialists are united as monetary socialists in the common superstition that money springs from the State.” I long ago took Riegel’s argument to heart and have taken up the cause of dispelling that superstition, most notably in Chapter 8, The Separation of Money and State, in my book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization.

I personally try to avoid using imprecise terminology and political clichés that are emotionally charged and tend to get in the way of rational thinking. Riegel, on the other hand, can be forgiven for some slight indulgence in political rhetoric that seems to us perhaps judgmental and outdated.  Keep in mind that he lived in tumultuous times that were scarred by two world wars, the great depression, and the rise of totalitarian governments bearing the various labels of fascist, communist, or socialist (any critique of Capitalism in the west at that time was overwhelmed and suppressed in a number of ways). These are the terms that defined people’s loyalties, as nations contested violently with one another to decide how people should be governed. The reader should not be put off by Riegel’s framing his arguments in terms of left, right, socialist, capitalist, and collectivist. His writings clearly show that he was, after all, a champion of peace, freedom, and social justice.

The emphasis of particular sections in the following essay has been added by me to highlight major points.–t.h.g.

THE RIGHT IS STILL TO COME by E.C. Riegel

On the left stands the socialist, back of him stand a hundred capitalists.  All society is composed of conscious and unconscious socialists.  The professed socialists and the professed anti-socialists are united as monetary socialists in the common superstition that money springs from the State.  The birth of the Right awaits disillusionment from this all-confounding fallacy.

There are advocates of many different money reforms but none renounces the basic error of the socialization of the money system.  To none of the believers in free enterprise does it seem incongruous to leave the State in complete control of the medium whereby free enterprise must articulate.  The right to freely contract and the sanctity of contract is seen as cardinal to free enterprise.  Yet, to leave to the State the power to alter contracts by altering the meaning of the money unit in terms of which all contracts are expressed, does not seem to professed capitalists contradictory.  Thus the State exercises its most vicious interventionism by making itself a party to all contracts, an unbidden and perverting party.

Some would limit, by various devices, the amount of “money” the State should issue.  Others would limit the amount of “credit money” that business men should issue.  Still others would abolish the later entirely, counting only government issues as genuine money.  None would abolish so-called money issues by government, leaving the money issuing power to the only true issuers, the private enterprisers.

With monetary socialization accepted, the choice is confined to different methods of perversion.  There is no monetary Right and since free money is basic to a free economy, there is no philosophy of the Right.  To merely complain against the drift toward socialism does not make one a true anti-socialist.  To propose or support political money reforms does not make one’s surrender to socialization any less abject, nor betrayal of free enterprise less vicious.

The trend toward socialism was set when business men accepted the cry, better called superstition, that money issuance and control are functions of political government—the political money system.  That fallacy, until exploded, makes the progressive socialization of the entire economy inevitable.  The pace of this perversion is not determined by the amount of resistance offered by the alleged opponents of socialism, but by the degree that the State indulges its perversive power by emissions of false money into the blood stream of business.

The pace of this perversion is quickening all over the world; a huge flood of water-money threatens to inundate all.  Can we preclude disaster by bringing those who call themselves anti-socialists over from the Left to the yet unoccupied Right?  Can we induce businessmen to think and act in terms of the economic means rather than the political means?  Can we build an economic statesmanship?  In short, can we sell capitalism to capitalists?  If we can we will save private enterprise and the social order.  If not, the deluge.

Painful as it may be to change habits of thought, (if indeed, prevailing money ideas can be called the product of thought) the triumph of free enterprise over socialism and tyranny can be accomplished only by the renunciation of the fallacy of political money power and the assertion of exclusive power of private enterprise to control and issue money.  When we realize that the political money system has operated almost from the beginning of money, it may be seen what a break with tradition this proposal involves.

The long existence of the political money system does not, however, imply continuity of operation or vindication.  There have been countless instances of the breakdown of national money units through excessive dilution of the money stream by the State.  All money circulations have been a mixture of genuine money issued by private enterprisers and spurious issues by the State.  Following these breakdowns the State set up new money units and repudiated the old.  During the transition from the old to the new, exchange has been kept alive by resort to other national units that were still relatively stable.

What makes the present inflationary crisis unprecedented is the universality of the decline of political money units and that the U.S. dollar, the strongest unit, is being subjected to blood transfusion to sustain other units.  Thus the superstructure of the entire political money system is being bolstered by timbers taken from the foundation with the ultimate result that the whole structure will collapse together.  It is therefore imperative that we change superstitious money ideas for rational ones before it is too late to avoid worldwide chaos.

Why no State Can Issue Money

To understand money is to understand why it cannot spring from any government, national, state or city.

The purpose of money is to obviate the necessity for contemporary delivery of value by both parties to an exchange transaction and thus greatly expand exchange.

By means of money its issuer is enabled to purchase values from any supplier, who, in turn, is enabled to do likewise, the money ultimately reaching a supplier who has need of the issuer’s values and thus the reciprocating trader is found and exchange is completed and the money retired.  Account is balanced by passage of value both ways, the medium, money, having no value.

Money can be issued only by a buyer who later, as seller, redeems his issue.  He must, to stay in business, bid for money with value because that is his only way of gaining income. He must price his values competitively or he can make no sale.  Thus, by his circumstance of being a private enterpriser he is ideally suited to issue and redeem money.

Contrast the State’s situation.  It is not a trader; it does not sell.  It needs not bid for money; it merely requisitions it by taxation. Since it has no way of redeeming money by open competitive bidding, it cannot issue it and its professed money issues are inescapably spurious.

The power and need to issue money is inherent in private enterprisers and thus it operates under natural checks and balances, while to the State it is entirely unnecessary and unnatural and no amount of fixing can supply the requisites that it lacks, nor is there the slightest reason for undertaking such artificiality.  The State would never have gotten into its present unnatural position of its own necessities, for, it always had its taxing power, before the advent of money, to levy in kind and under money exchange to levy on money.  It was forced into its anomalous position by the ignorance of businessmen who, not understanding money resorted to the superstitious belief that it needed the State’s imprimatur.

In spite of all the abortiveness of the political money experience professed friends of private enterprise and self-styled anti-socialists continue their efforts to perpetuate it by added gadgets.  None has contributed in the slightest degree toward liberating private enterprise from it.  Private enterprisers do not even know that, as bank borrower they are money issuers.  They think that their participation in the money system is a secondary one and that even this depends upon a grant from the State.  The truth is that every money unit ever issued has come from private enterprisers and that no money has ever or ever can be issued by any state.  The only thing that makes it possible for the delusive political money system to operate at all is that the true money issued by businessmen serves as a host for the parasite issues of government to feed upon.  No government could build a money circulation of itself anymore than a farmer can produce watered milk from the pump alone.  In this metaphor government is the pump and private business is the cow.

How the political Money System Sabotages Private Enterprise

Every businessman knows that stock splits involve an increase in the number of shares without an increase in capital.  What he does not understand is that so-called money issues by government are but money splits involving merely an increase in the number of units without an increase in the money supply.  The analogy ends there.  In stock splits the corporation does not rob the stock holder.  In the process of money splits the government issues them by taking goods and services out of the market, thus robbing the economy, thereby depreciating the power of each money unit.  This is called inflation and inflation is in turn defined, naively, as “too much money chasing too few goods”, whereas it is but the same amount of real money mixed with spurious money with the economy robbed in the sum of the spurious money.

With the so-called capitalist world deluded into thinking that what government issues is money, the process of sabotaging the economy has open sesame.  It enables the State to practice paternalism and paternalism is the mother of socialism.

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Americas failed policies and destruction of the middle class

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Treasury Secretary. He is a knowledgeable and astute observer of geopolitics and the domestic and global economies. In the following article which appears in Counterpuch, he describes quite clearly, and I think accurately, the present situation and the prospects for America. It’s well worth reading in its entirety.–t.h.g.

American Freefall

by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

Washington has been at war since October, 2001. This war took a back seat when Bush concocted another excuse to order the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a war that went on without significant success for 8 years and has left Iraq in chaos with dozens more killed and wounded every day, a new strong man in place of the illegally executed former strongman, and the likelihood of the ongoing violence becoming civil war.

Upon his election, President Obama foolishly sent more troops to Afghanistan and renewed the intensity of that war, now in its eleventh year, to no successful effect.

These two wars have been expensive. According to estimates by Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, when all costs are counted the Iraq invasion cost US taxpayers $3 trillion dollars. Ditto for the Afghan war. In other words, the two gratuitous wars doubled the US public debt. This is the reason there is no money for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, the environment, and the social safety net.

Americans got nothing out of the wars, but as the war debt will never be paid off, US citizens and their descendants will have to pay interest on $6,000 billion of war debt in perpetuity.

Not content with these wars, the Bush/Obama regime is conducting military operations in violation of international law in Pakistan, Yemen, and Africa, organized the overthrow by armed conflict of the government in Libya, is currently working to overthrow the Syrian government, and continues to marshall military forces against Iran.

Finding the Muslim adversaries insufficient for its energies and budget, Washington has encircled Russia with military bases and has begun the encirclement of China. Washington has announced that the bulk of its naval forces will be shifted to the Pacific over the next few years, and Washington is working to reestablish its naval base in the Philippines, construct a new one on a South Korean island, acquire a naval base in Viet Nam, and air and troop bases elsewhere in Asia.

In Thailand Washington is attempting to purchase with the usual bribes an air base used in the Vietnam war. There is opposition as the country does not wish to be drawn into Washington’ s orchestrated conflict with China. Downplaying the real reason for the airbase, Washington, according to Thai newspapers, told the Thai government that the base was needed for “humanitarian missions.” This didn’t fly, so Washington had NASA ask for the air base in order to conduct “weather experiments.” Whether this ruse is sufficient cover remains to be seen.

US Marines have been sent to Australia and elsewhere in Asia. To corral China and Russia (and Iran) is a massive undertaking for a country that is financially busted. With wars and bankster bailouts, Bush and Obama have doubled the US national debt while failing to address the disintegration of the US economy and rising hardships of US citizens.

The annual US budget deficit is adding to the accumulated debt at about $1.5 trillion per year with no prospect of declining. The financial system is broken and requires ongoing bailouts. The economy is busted and has been unable to create high-paying jobs, indeed any jobs. Despite years of population growth, payroll employment as of mid-2012 is the same as in 2005 and substantially below 2008. Yet, the government and financial presstitute media tell us that we have a recovery.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in 2011 was only 1 million more than in 2002. As it takes about 150,000 new jobs each month to stay even with population growth, that leaves a decade long job deficit of 15 million jobs.

The US unemployment and inflation rates are far higher than reported. In previous columns I have explained, based on statistician John Williams’ work (shadowstats.com), the reasons that the government’s headline numbers are serious understatements. The headline (U3) unemployment rate of 8.2% counts no discouraged workers who have given up on finding a job. The government has a second unemployment rate (U6), seldom reported, which includes short-term discouraged workers. That rate is 15%. When the long-term discouraged workers are added in, the current US unemployment rate is 22%, a number closer to the unemployment rate of the Great Depression than to the unemployment rates of postwar recessions.

Changes in the way inflation is measured have destroyed the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as a measure of the cost of living. The new methodology is substitution based. If the price of an item in the index rises, a lower priced alternative takes its place. In addition, some price rises are labeled quality improvements whether they are or not and thus do not show up in the CPI. People still have to pay the higher price, but it is not counted as inflation.

Currently, the substitution-based rate of inflation is about 2%. However, when inflation is measured as the actual cost of living, the rate of inflation is 5%.

The Misery Index is the sum of the inflation and unemployment rates. The level of the current Misery Index depends on whether the new rigged measures are used, which understate the misery, or the former methodology that accurately measures it. Prior to the November 1980 election, the Misery Index hit 22%, which was one reason for Reagan’s victory over President Carter. Today if we use previous methodology, the Misery Index stands at 27%. But if we use the new rigged methodology, the Misery Index is 10%.

The understatement of inflation serves to boost Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP is calculated in current dollars. To be able to determine whether GDP rose because of price rises or because of increases in real output, GDP is deflated by the CPI. The higher the inflation rate, the less the growth in real output and vice versa. When the substitution based methodology is used to measure inflation, the US economy experienced real growth in the 21st century except for the sharp dip during 2008-2010.

However, if the cost-of-living based methodology is used, except for a short period during 2004, the US economy has experienced no real growth since 2000. The lack of employment and real GDP growth go together with the decline in real household median income. The growth in consumer debt substituted for the lack of income growth and kept the economy going until consumers exhausted their ability to take on more debt. With the consumer dead in the water, the outlook for economic recovery is poor.

Politicians and the Federal Reserve are making the outlook even worse. At a time of high unemployment and debt-stressed households, politicians at local, state, and federal levels are cutting back on government provision of health care, pensions, food stamps, housing subsidies and every other element of the social safety net. These cutbacks, of course, further reduce aggregate demand and the ability of income stressed Americans to survive.

The Federal Reserve has interest rates so low that retirees and others living on their savings can earn nothing on their money. The interest rates paid on bank CDs and government and corporate bonds are lower than the rate of inflation. To live on interest income, a person has to purchase Greek, Spanish, or Italian bonds and run the risk of capital loss. The Federal Reserve’s policy of negative interest rates forces retirees to spend down their capital in order to live. In other words, the Fed’s policy is destroying personal savings as people are forced to spend their capital in order to cover living expenses.

In June the Federal Reserve announced that it was going to continue its policy of driving nominal interest rates even lower, this time focusing on long-term Treasury bonds. The Fed said it would be purchasing $400 billion of the Treasury’s 30-year bonds. Driving interest rates down means driving bond prices up. With 5-year Treasury bonds paying only seven-tenths of one percent and 10-year Treasuries paying only 1.6%, below even the official rate of inflation, Americans desperate for yield move into 30-year bonds currently paying 2.7%. However, the the high bond prices mean that the risk of capital loss is very high.

The Fed’s debt monetization, or a drop in the exchange value of the dollar as other countries move away from its use to settle their balance of payments, could set off inflation that would take interest rates out of the Fed’s control. As interest rates rise, bond prices fall.

In other words, bonds are now the bubble that real estate, stocks, and derivatives were. When this bubble pops, Americans will take another big hit to their remaining wealth.

It makes no sense to invest in long-term bonds at negative interest rates when the federal government is piling up debt that the Federal Reserve is monetizing and when other countries are moving away from the flood of dollars. The potential for a rising rate of inflation is high from debt monetization and from a drop in the dollar’s exchange value. Yet, bond fund portfolio managers have to follow the herd into longer term maturities or see their performance relative to their peers drop to the bottom of the rankings.

Some individual investors and foreign central banks, anticipating the dollar’s loss of value, are accumulating gold and silver bullion. Realizing the danger to the dollar and its policy from the rapid rise in the price of bullion during 2011, the Federal Reserve has arranged offsetting action. When the demand for physical bullion drives up the price, short sales of bullion in the paper market are used to drive the price back down. Similarly, when investors begin to flee Treasuries, thus causing interest rates to rise, J.P. Morgan and other dependencies of the Federal Reserve sell interest-rate swaps, thus offsetting the effect on interest rates of the bond sales. (Keep in mind that interest rates rise when bond prices fall and vice versa.)

The point of all this information is to establish that except for the 1 percent, the incomes and wealth of Americans are being cut back across the board. From 2002 through 2011 the economy lost 3.5 million manufacturing jobs. These jobs were replaced with lowerpaying waitress and bartender jobs (1,189,000), ambulatory health care service jobs (1,512,000) and social assistance jobs (578,000).

These replacement jobs in domestic services mean that on a net basis US consumer income was moved out of the country. Potential aggregate demand in the US dropped by the differences in pay in the job categories. Clearly and unambiguously, jobs offshoring lowered US disposable income and US GDP and, thereby, employment.

Despite the lack of an economic base, Washington’s hegemonic aspirations continue unabated. Other countries are amused at Washington’s unawareness. Russia, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa are forming an agreement to abandon the US dollar as the currency for international settlement between themselves.

On July 4 the China Daily reported: “Japanese politicians and prominent academics from China and Japan urged Tokyo on Tuesday to abandon its outdated foreign policy of leaning on the West and accept China as a key partner as important as the United States. The Tokyo Consensus, a joint statement issued at the end of the Beijing-Tokyo Forum, also called on both countries to expand trade and promote a free-trade agreement for China, Japan and South Korea. “

This means that Japan is in play.

The Chinese government, more intelligent than Washington, is responding to Washington’s military threats by enticing away Washington’s two key Asian allies. As the Chinese economy is now as large as the US and on far firmer footing, and as Japan now has more trade with China than with the US, the enticement is appealing.

Moreover, China is next door, and Washington is distant and drowning in its hubris. Washington, which flicked its middle finger to international law and to its own law and Constitution with its arrogance and gratuitous and illegal wars and with its assertion of the right to murder its own citizens and those of its allies, such as Pakistan, has made the United States a pariah state.

Washington still controls its bought-and-paid-for NATO puppets, but these puppet states are overwhelmed with derivative debt problems brought to them by Wall Street and by sovereign debt problems, some of which were covered up by Wall Street’s Goldman Sachs.

Europe is on the ropes and has no money with which to subsidize Washington’s wars of hegemony.

Washington is becoming an isolated and despised element of the world community. Washington has purchased Europe, Canada, Australia, the former Soviet state of Georgia (and almost Ukraine), and Columbia, and continues its effort to purchase the entire world, but sentiment is turning against the rising Gestapo state that has shown itself to be lawless, ruthless, and indifferent, even hostile, to human life and human rights.

A government, whose military was unable with the help of the UK to occupy Iraq after eight years and was forced to end the conflict by putting the “insurgents” on the US military payroll and to pay them to stop killing American troops, and a government whose military has been unable to subdue a few thousand lightly armed Taliban after 11 years, is over the top when it organizes war against Iran, Russia, and China.

The only prospect Washington has of prevailing in such an undertaking is first use of nuclear weapons, of catching its demonized opponents off guard by nuking them out of the blue. In other words, by the elimination of life on earth.

Is this Washington’s program revealed by the neoconservative warmonger, Bill Kristol, who had no shame to ask publicly: “What’s the good of nuclear weapons if you can’t use them?

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.  He is the author of HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, published by CounterPunch/AK Press. Dr. Roberts’ latest book is Economies in Collapse: The Failure of Globalism, published in Europe, June, 2012.He can be reached through his website.

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Who buys US bonds when foreign countries and investors won’t?

Answer: The Federal Reserve

Question: Where does the Fed get the money to buy the bonds?

Answer: It creates it.

That’s right, the Fed has no money, but the Congress long ago empowered the Federal Reserve Bank to create money by buying government (and other) securities. This is known as “monetizing the debt,” which amounts to nothing more than “legalized” counterfeiting of dollars, and it has the same results as the injection of any other form of counterfeit money—the dilution of purchasing power of all the dollars already in circulation and the erosion of the value of all dollar-denominated assets.

Currency inflation must ultimately result in price inflation as those empty dollars (based on empty promises) work their way through the economy. Further, as those Fed-created dollars get deposited in banks, the banks are able to multiply their lending on the basis of these new “reserves.”

In an opinion article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal last Wednesday, a former Treasury official says that:

“The recently released Federal Reserve Flow of Funds report for all of 2011 reveals that Federal Reserve purchases of Treasury debt mask reduced demand for U.S. sovereign obligations. Last year the Fed purchased a stunning 61% of the total net Treasury issuance, up from negligible amounts prior to the 2008 financial crisis.”

You might consider that to be a stealthy form of “quantitative easing.”

You can find out more about that, along with some pretty good analysis in an article that appears on the Money News website.

Another (more honest) take on the economy

In his recent article that appeared in Counterpunch, Paul Craig Roberts, tells the story of the American economy as it really is.–t.h.g.

February 01, 2012

The Emperor Has No Clothes.  Economics 101

by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

Last Friday (January 27) the US Bureau of Economic Analysis announced its advance estimate that in the last quarter of 2011 the economy grew at an annual rate of 2.8% in real inflation-adjusted terms, an increase from the annual rate of growth in the third quarter.

Good news, right?

Wrong.  If you want to know what is really happening, you must turn to John Williams at shadowstats.com.

What the presstitute media did not tell us is that almost the entire gain In GDP growth was due to “involuntary inventory build-up,” that is, more goods were produced than were sold.

Net of the unsold goods, the annualized real growth rate was eight-tenths of one percent.

And even that tiny growth rate is an exaggeration, because it is deflated with a measure of inflation that understates inflation. The US government’s measure of inflation no longer measures a constant standard of living.  Instead, the government’s inflation measure relies on substitution of cheaper goods for those that rise in price. In other words, the government holds the measure of inflation down by measuring a declining standard of living. This permits our rulers to divert cost-of-living-adjustments that should be paid to Social Security recipients to wars of aggression, police state, and banker bailouts.

When the methodology that measures a constant standard of living is used to deflate nominal GDP, the result is a shrinking US economy. It becomes clear that the US economy has had no recovery and has now been in deep recession for four years despite the proclamation by the National Bureau of Economic Research of a recovery based on the rigged official numbers.

A government can always produce the illusion of economic growth by underestimating the rate of inflation. There is no question that a substitution-based measure of inflation understates the inflation that people experience. More proof that there has been no economic recovery is available from those data series that are unaffected by inflation. If the economy were in fact recovering, these date series would be picking up. Instead, they are flat or declining, as John Williams demonstrates.

For example, according to the government’s own data, payroll employment in December 2011 is less than in 2001. Meanwhile, there has been a decade of population growth. The presstitute media calls the alleged economic recovery a “jobless recovery,” which is a contradiction in terms. There can be no recovery without a growth in employment and consumer income.

Real average weekly earnings (deflated by the government’s CPI-W) have never recovered their 1973 peak. Real median household income (deflated by the government’s CPI-U) has not recovered its 2001 peak and is below the 1969 level. If earnings were deflated by the original methodology instead of by the new substitution-based methodology, the picture would be bleaker.

Consumer confidence shows no recovery and is far below the level of a decade ago.

How does an economy recover without a recovery in consumer confidence?

Housing starts have remained flat since 2009 and are  below their previous peak.

Retail sales are  below the index level of January 2000.

Industrial production remains  below the index level of January 2000.

To repeat, the only indicator of economic recovery is the GDP deflated with an understated measure of inflation.

The US economy cannot recover, because the US economy depends on consumer expenditures for more than 70% of its activity. The offshoring of middle class jobs has stopped the rise in middle class income and caused a drop in consumer spending power.

The Federal Reserve under Alan Greenspan compensated for the absence of US consumer income growth with a policy of easy credit and a policy of driving up home prices with low interest rates. This policy allowed people to refinance their homes and to spend the inflated equity in their homes that Greenspan’s policy created.

In other words, an increase in consumer indebtedness and dissavings drove the economy in the place of the missing growth in consumer incomes.

Today, consumers are too indebted to borrow, and banks are too insolvent to lend. Therefore, there is no possibility of further debt expansion as a substitute for real income growth. An offshored economy is a dead and exhausted economy.

The consequences of a dead economy when the government is wasting trillions of dollars in wars of naked aggression and in bailouts of fraudulent financial institutions is a government budget that can only be financed by printing money.

The consequence of printing money when jobs have been moved offshore is an inflationary depression. This catastrophe could begin to unfold this year or in 2013. If Europe’s problems worsen, flight into dollars could delay sharp rises in US inflation until 2014.

The emperor has no clothes, and sooner or later this will be recognized.

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.  His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached through his website

My Summer 2011 Newsletter

The long silence

It’s been a long time since I sent out my previous newsletter in mid-February. That doesn’t mean I’ve been inactive—quite the contrary, I’ve just been too busy to document all the things I’ve been doing or to compile the list of important links and resources I want you to know about. This edition is intended to remedy that.

I returned to the U.S. from Asia in mid-February for a four month stint, but am now back in Thailand for an indefinite period. While in America, much of my time and energy was taken up with preparing and delivering some new presentations, providing media interviews, and trying in vain to keep up with email and other correspondence. The first few weeks in Tucson were devoted to resting up, reconnecting with friends and colleagues, and taking care of some personal business details.

By the middle of April, I had completed a new presentation which elaborates the themes that I began expounding more than a year ago about societal metamorphosis and the “Butterfly economy,” and added more material about “new finance” to my perennial topic of alternative exchange.

The North American tour

Long-time friend and associate, Les Squires, made it possible for me to venture up to Colorado for a few days in April to conduct a series of presentations, discussions, and consultations. Highlights of that trip included my presentation titled, Money and Finance in the Emerging Butterfly Economy, which I delivered to the Highland City Club in Boulder, and another presentation on The Butterfly Economy at the Louisville Public Library. These were co-sponsored by various Transitions groups and individuals and will eventually be made available on my website http://beyondmoney.net.

I had a rewarding but exhausting trip back east in May, with family visits sandwiched in between presentations in Florida and Toronto. The first of these was a workshop that I was asked to provide for members of the Financial Planning Association at their annual retreat. I titled it, Financial Planning in the Emerging Butterfly Economy: Realities, Trends and Discontinuities. You can view the power point slide show at https://beyondmoney.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/greco-fpa-powerpointrevpost.pps. I have a recording of my narrative which I would like to combine with the slide show but I’ll need some help to do that. If anyone has the skills and the time to work with me on that, I’d greatly appreciate it.

The hardest part was the last 4 days in Toronto where I gave a lecture at the MINT film festival on the first day, two TV interviews on the second, and workshops on the third and fourth days, with a lot of consultations in between. That trip was hosted by Glen Alan who, as the new director, has put renewed vigor into the Toronto Dollar currency project. Glen, who happens to be a musician and operates a professional recording studio, is well-connected, very effective, and a fountain of energy.

All of the Toronto proceedings were professionally recorded and are in the process of being edited. Glen and Ron Elmy are putting together a DVD that will be available from The MINT Film Festival website in less than a month. Watch for it on http://mintff.org. You can download a short video teaser now at http://www.ronelmy.com/files/thg.zip.

Already posted are my interview with Frank Touby (at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvCruoYcN4Q), and my interview with Hugh Reilly (at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7nOYCRHjOY&feature=player_detailpage).

My particular vision, interests and expertise are, I think, fairly well expressed in these interviews.

I’m hopeful that my Toronto visit and the follow-up activities will have a far reaching positive impact.

Funding the Common Good

CREW

Sometime toward the end of last year I mentioned an exciting new project called, CREW, the purpose of which is to provide a perpetual pool of capital to finance both for-profit and non-profit enterprises that help to create resilient, sustainable communities. It is one instance of an emerging phenomenon called crowd sourcing or crowd funding. CREW is not intended to provide any direct personal gain. Money we put in is not a loan, nor is it an ownership share, but a gift that is intended to be a permanent investment in the common good.

I have great expectations for this initiative, and as a member of the CREW Founder’s Circle, I invite you to join my CREW. We will together decide how the funds in our joint stewardship account will be invested. Just go to http://www.CREWfund.org/tomg, watch the short video, and click on the orange Join Now button.

Recent Posts to my Website

For those of you who do not regularly follow my posts, I’d like to highlight a few especially important ones. You can be notified of new posts by following me (tomazgreco) on Twitter.

  • The war against the middle class. It is ever more apparent that there is a deliberate policy to impoverish and disempower the middle class. As far back as 2006, billionaire Warren Buffet was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” More recently, Senator Bernie Sanders, in a speech to his Senate colleagues, plainly described the war that is being waged against the middle class by the super-wealthy elite and their minions in Congress. Find it at this post, https://beyondmoney.net/2011/03/28/what-happened-to-class-war-in-america/, and search “Sanders” on my site for additional material on the subject. This is not simply an American war, but one that is being waged globally, as we see from the austerity that is being imposed on Ireland, Greece, and other “developed” coutries.

One aspect of that war is the ongoing shifting of the tax burden from corporations and wealthy individuals onto the backs of the poor and middle-class. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich explains that part of it in a 2 minute video. See it at, https://beyondmoney.net/2011/06/20/the-truth-about-the-economy/.

Miscellany

  • I’ve written a new article, Reclaiming the Credit Commons, the Key to a Peaceful and Happy Society, that will be included in an anthology tentatively titled, Self-Sustaining Abundance: The Commons, Beyond Market and State. The book project is being supported by The Heinrich Boell Foundation of Germany, and is being co-edited by Silke Helfrich and David Bollier. It will be published early next year in English, German and Spanish.
  • One of my published articles will be included in the upcoming anthology What Comes After Money? which will be published later this year by Evolver Editions (http://www.evolvereditions.com) in partnership with North Atlantic Books, and will be distributed by Random House.
  • The Chinese translation of my book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization, is now in print.

I’m reassessing how I want to spend my time and energy from here on out. I’d like to be a little less busy, and direct the bulk of my attention to aspects of my work that are most creative, enjoyable, and effective. I’ll be cutting back on correspondence and lecturing, and emphasizing consultations and collaborations with groups and individuals working on projects that show promise of making major breakthroughs toward interest-free cashless trading, equitable finance, and economic democracy.

May we all find the courage to do what needs to be done, in a joyful spirit and with love in our hearts,

Thomas

Mobile phone (Thailand): +66 84 373 5645
Skype/Twitter name: tomazgreco

Fed buying bonds, hyper-inflation on the way

Below is a recent article from the National Inflation Association that describes 12 Warning Signs of U.S. Hyperinflation.

I think their analysis is correct but I’ll add here a few points that might make the entire matter easier to understand.

First, we must differentiate between monetary inflation and price inflation. Monetary inflation is the creation of money on an improper basis, notably the lending of money into circulation when banks purchase government bonds and other assets that do not bring additional goods and services into the market. Price inflation is the resultant increase in the general price level. Prices of individual goods and services can be affected by a number of different factors, but when prices increase virtually across the board, it is invariable the result of monetary mismanagement.

In the wake of monetary inflation, price inflation must inevitably follow. It may be delayed, but it cannot be avoided. In the case of a dominant power like the United States, the postponement may be extraordinarily long, but ultimately “the piper must be paid.” Price inflation can be postponed so long as some people, companies and countries have surplus income and these savers are willing to invest in government bonds.

In the case of the U.S. , China and other foreigners have been sending back their dollar earnings, not to buy American goods and assets, but to buy U.S. government bonds, in effect, financing the U.S. government deficits with money that already existed in the market. In other words, by selling bonds, the government is absorbing the savings, not just of foreigners, but also of domestic companies and individuals.

When aggregate savings are not sufficient to finance the deficits, the Fed and the commercial banks take up the slack by buying the government bonds, thus inflating the currency. The situation we see now is China and other countries who had been increasing their holdings of U.S. securities are now reducing their holdings. The same thing is happening domestically. That leaves the authorities with two choices: (1) offer higher interest rates on the bonds to entice investors to buy them, or (2) monetize the bonds by selling them to the central bank. The first option will have adverse effects on the budget, making the deficits even higher as interest costs rise. The second option (inflation of the currency) is the one currently being chosen, which must lead to price inflation very soon as that money gets spent by the government for weapons, bailouts, and all kinds of waste and payoffs, then trickles down through the economy. It is “legalized” counterfeit, and the counterfeiter is the one who gains from it. Those farther down on the earning/spending chain are badly hurt because the currency loses purchasing power at every step along the way.–t.h.g.

From the National Inflation Association, March 26, 2011

12 Warning Signs of U.S. Hyperinflation

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive at the National Inflation Association (NIA) is what warning signs will there be when hyperinflation is imminent. In our opinion, the majority of the warning signs that hyperinflation is imminent are already here today, but most Americans are failing to properly recognize them. NIA believes that there is a serious risk of hyperinflation breaking out as soon as the second half of this calendar year and that hyperinflation is almost guaranteed to occur by the end of this decade.

In our estimation, the most likely time frame for a full-fledged outbreak of hyperinflation is between the years 2013 and 2015. Americans who wait until 2013 to prepare, will most likely see the majority of their purchasing power wiped out. It is essential that all Americans begin preparing for hyperinflation immediately.

Here are NIA’s top 12 warning signs that hyperinflation is about to occur:

1) The Federal Reserve is Buying 70% of U.S. Treasuries. The Federal Reserve has been buying 70% of all new U.S. treasury debt. Up until this year, the U.S. has been successful at exporting most of its inflation to the rest of the world, which is hoarding huge amounts of U.S. dollar reserves due to the U.S. dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency. In recent months, foreign central bank purchases of U.S. treasuries have declined from 50% down to 30%, and Federal Reserve purchases have increased from 10% up to 70%. This means U.S. government deficit spending is now directly leading to U.S. inflation that will destroy the standard of living for all Americans.

2) The Private Sector Has Stopped Purchasing U.S. Treasuries. The U.S. private sector was previously a buyer of 30% of U.S. government bonds sold. Today, the U.S. private sector has stopped buying U.S. treasuries and is dumping government debt. The Pimco Total Return Fund was recently the single largest private sector owner of U.S. government bonds, but has just reduced its U.S. treasury holdings down to zero. Although during the financial panic of 2008, investors purchased government bonds as a safe haven, during all future panics we believe precious metals will be the new safe haven.

3) China Moving Away from U.S. Dollar as Reserve Currency. The U.S. dollar became the world’s reserve currency because it was backed by gold and the U.S. had the world’s largest manufacturing base. Today, the U.S. dollar is no longer backed by gold and China has the world’s largest manufacturing base. There is no reason for the world to continue to transact products and commodities in U.S. dollars, when most of everything the world consumes is now produced in China. China has been taking steps to position the yuan to be the world’s new reserve currency.

The People’s Bank of China stated earlier this month, in a story that went largely unreported by the mainstream media, that it would respond to overseas demand for the yuan to be used as a reserve currency and allow the yuan to flow back into China more easily. China hopes to allow all exporters and importers to settle their cross border transactions in yuan by the end of 2011, as part of their plan to increase the yuan’s international role. NIA believes if China really wants to become the world’s next superpower and see to it that the U.S. simultaneously becomes the world’s next Zimbabwe, all China needs to do is use their $1.15 trillion in U.S. dollar reserves to accumulate gold and use that gold to back the yuan.

4) Japan to Begin Dumping U.S. Treasuries. Japan is the second largest holder of U.S. treasury securities with $885.9 billion in U.S. dollar reserves. Although China has reduced their U.S. treasury holdings for three straight months, Japan has increased their U.S. treasury holdings seven months in a row. Japan is the country that has been the most consistent at buying our debt for the past year, but that is about the change. Japan is likely going to have to spend $300 billion over the next year to rebuild parts of their country that were destroyed by the recent earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, and NIA believes their U.S. dollar reserves will be the most likely source of this funding. This will come at the worst possible time for the U.S., which needs Japan to increase their purchases of U.S. treasuries in order to fund our record budget deficits.

5) The Fed Funds Rate Remains Near Zero. The Federal Reserve has held the Fed Funds Rate at 0.00-0.25% since December 16th, 2008, a period of over 27 mo­nths. This is unprecedented and NIA believes the world is now flooded with excess liquidity of U.S. dollars.

When the nuclear reactors in Japan began overheating two weeks ago after their cooling systems failed due to a lack of electricity, TEPCO was forced to open relief valves to release radioactive steam into the air in order to avoid an explosion. The U.S. stock market is currently acting as a relief valve for all of the excess liquidity of U.S. dollars. The U.S. economy for all intents and purposes should currently be in a massive and extremely steep recession, but because of the Fed’s money printing, stock prices are rising because people don’t know what else to do with their dollars.

NIA believes gold, and especially silver, are much better hedges against inflation than U.S. equities, which is why for the past couple of years we have been predicting large declines in both the Dow/Gold and Gold/Silver ratios. These two ratios have been in free fall exactly like NIA projected.

The Dow/Gold ratio is the single most important chart all investors need to closely follow, but way too few actually do. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) itself is meaningless because it averages together the dollar based movements of 30 U.S. stocks. With just the DJIA, it is impossible to determine whether stocks are rising due to improving fundamentals and real growing investor demand, or if prices are rising simply because the money supply is expanding.

The Dow/Gold ratio illustrates the cyclical nature of the battle between paper assets like stocks and real hard assets like gold. The Dow/Gold ratio trends upward when an economy sees real economic growth and begins to trend downward when the growth phase ends and everybody becomes concerned about preserving wealth. With interest rates at 0%, the U.S. economy is on life support and wealth preservation is the focus of most investors. NIA believes the Dow/Gold ratio will decline to 1 before the hyperinflationary crisis is over and until the Dow/Gold ratio does decline to 1, investors should keep buying precious metals.

6) Year-Over-Year CPI Growth Has Increased 92% in Three Months. In November of 2010, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS)’s consumer price index (CPI) grew by 1.1% over November of 2009. In February of 2011, the BLS’s CPI grew by 2.11% over February of 2010, above the Fed’s informal inflation target of 1.5% to 2%. An increase in year-over-year CPI growth from 1.1% in November of last year to 2.11% in February of this year means that the CPI’s growth rate increased by approximately 92% over a period of just three months. Imagine if the year-over-year CPI growth rate continues to increase by 92% every three months. In 9 to 12 months from now we could be looking at a price inflation rate of over 15%. Even if the BLS manages to artificially hold the CPI down around 5% or 6%, NIA believes the real rate of price inflation will still rise into the double-digits within the next year.

7) Mainstream Media Denying Fed’s Target Passed. You would think that year-over-year CPI growth rising from 1.1% to 2.11% over a period of three months for an increase of 92% would generate a lot of media attention, especially considering that it has now surpassed the Fed’s informal inflation target of 1.5% to 2%. Instead of acknowledging that inflation is beginning to spiral out of control and encouraging Americans to prepare for hyperinflation like NIA has been doing for years, the media decided to conveniently change the way it defines the Fed’s informal target.

The media is now claiming that the Fed’s informal inflation target of 1.5% to 2% is based off of year-over-year changes in the BLS’s core-CPI figures. Core-CPI, as most of you already know, is a meaningless number that excludes food and energy prices. Its sole purpose is to be used to mislead the public in situations like this. We guarantee that if core-CPI had just surpassed 2% and the normal CPI was still below 2%, the media would be focusing on the normal CPI number, claiming that it remains below the Fed’s target and therefore inflation is low and not a problem.

The fact of the matter is, food and energy are the two most important things Americans need to live and survive. If the BLS was going to exclude something from the CPI, you would think they would exclude goods that Americans don’t consume on a daily basis. The BLS claims food and energy prices are excluded because they are most volatile. However, by excluding food and energy, core-CPI numbers are primarily driven by rents. Considering that we just came out of the largest Real Estate bubble in world history, there is a glut of homes available to rent on the market. NIA has been saying for years that being a landlord will be the worst business to be in during hyperinflation, because it will be impossible for landlords to increase rents at the same rate as overall price inflation. Food and energy prices will always increase at a much faster rate than rents.

8) Record U.S. Budget Deficit in February of $222.5 Billion. The U.S. government just reported a record budget deficit for the month of February of $222.5 billion. February’s budget deficit was more than the entire fiscal year of 2007. In fact, February’s deficit on an annualized basis was $2.67 trillion. NIA believes this is just a preview of future annual budget deficits, and we will see annual budget deficits surpass $2.67 trillion within the next several years.

9) High Budget Deficit as Percentage of Expenditures. The projected U.S. budget deficit for fiscal year 2011 of $1.645 trillion is 43% of total projected government expenditures in 2011 of $3.819 trillion. That is almost exactly the same level of Brazil’s budget deficit as a percentage of expenditures right before they experienced hyperinflation in 1993 and it is higher than Bolivia’s budget deficit as a percentage of expenditures right before they experienced hyperinflation in 1985. The only way a country can survive with such a large deficit as a percentage of expenditures and not have hyperinflation, is if foreigners are lending enough money to pay for the bulk of their deficit spending. Hyperinflation broke out in Brazil and Bolivia when foreigners stopped lending and central banks began monetizing the bulk of their deficit spending, and that is exactly what is taking place today in the U.S.

10) Obama Lies About Foreign Policy. President Obama campaigned as an anti-war President who would get our troops out of Iraq. NIA believes that many Libertarian voters actually voted for Obama in 2008 over John McCain because they felt Obama was more likely to end our wars that are adding greatly to our budget deficits and making the U.S. a lot less safe as a result. Obama may have reduced troop levels in Iraq, but he increased troops levels in Afghanistan, and is now sending troops into Libya for no reason.

The U.S. is now beginning to occupy Libya, when Libya didn’t do anything to the U.S. and they are no threat to the U.S. Obama has increased our overall overseas troop levels since becoming President and the U.S. is now spending $1 trillion annually on military expenses, which includes the costs to maintain over 700 military bases in 135 countries around the world. There is no way that we can continue on with our overseas military presence without seeing hyperinflation.

11) Obama Changes Definition of Balanced Budget. In the White House’s budget projections for the next 10 years, they don’t project that the U.S. will ever come close to achieving a real balanced budget. In fact, after projecting declining budget deficits up until the year 2015 (NIA believes we are unlikely to see any major dip in our budget deficits due to rising interest payments on our national debt), the White House projects our budget deficits to begin increasing again up until the year 2021. Obama recently signed an executive order to create the “National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform”, with a mission to “propose recommendations designed to balance the budget, excluding interest payments on the debt, by 2015”. Obama is redefining a balanced budget to exclude interest payments on our national debt, because he knows interest payments are about to explode and it will be impossible to truly balance the budget.

12) U.S. Faces Largest Ever Interest Payment Increases. With U.S. inflation beginning to spiral out of control, NIA believes it is 100% guaranteed that we will soon see a large spike in long-term bond yields. Not only that, but within the next couple of years, NIA believes the Federal Reserve will be forced to raise the Fed Funds Rate in a last-ditch effort to prevent hyperinflation. When both short and long-term interest rates start to rise, so will the interest payments on our national debt. With the public portion of our national debt now exceeding $10 trillion, we could see interest payments on our debt reach $500 billion within the next year or two, and over $1 trillion somewhere around mid-decade. When interest payments reach $1 trillion, they will likely be around 30% to 40% of government tax receipts, up from interest payments being only 9% of tax receipts today. No country has ever seen interest payments on their debt reach 40% of tax receipts without hyperinflation occurring in the years to come.

http://inflation.us/hyperinflationwarningsigns.html