Dylan Grice On What Weimar Republic Popular Delusions Can Teach Us About Japan's Upcoming Hyperinflationary Bankruptcy

Tyler Durden's picture

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Sudden Debt's picture



B9K9's picture

Zero Hedge has long contended that Economists dwell so high up in their ivory towers of (flawed) theoretical construction, that they always ignore the simplest things that have the most profound systemic impact... such as demographics.

And there you have it. As long as you view economists as anything other than con men, you will always be at an extreme disadvantage.

Here's a useful analogy: What would it take for you to don a flashy hat, put on some outrageous clothing and go pimp some cheap watches on a fold-out table to clueless tourists in Times Square? $100k? $250k? Ok, how about $1m, some air-time on a "respectable" MSM channel, perhaps a chair position at a prestigious university, and admission to a couple of limited country-clubs?

Here's my private theory: What do some men of conscience due to alleviate their suppressed guilt? Does anyone else ever come across certain (anonymous) writings that are so well crafted & articulated that they seem to have been written perhaps by none other than Ben S. Bernanke himself?

I mean, it takes a real psychopath to repress this level of deceit. It wouldn't be without reason to surmise that some truth is leaking out already. Boy, after this thing blows, the confessions are gonna run deep & long.

mikla's picture


The hubris, the elitism, the godlike central-planning attitudes ...

I've met genius.  And, I've met brilliant idiots (really smart people that can't even tie their own shoes).  Those aren't economists.  Rather, economists are "Idiot morons" with no sense nor redeeming mental capability nor discipline.

StychoKiller's picture

"It's hard to make predictions, especially about the future!"

-- Yogi Berra

Economists are the same ilk as fortune tellers, sans the crystal ball.

snowball777's picture

Psychic's convention cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.

MarketTruth's picture

I mean, it takes a real psychopath to repress this level of deceit.

Or someone who once told the truth and now is pwned by the henchmen assassins of the Federal Reserve and Central Banking system. The below is from Greenspan from the 1960's. Of course he'd NEVER say such a thing today.

"In the absence of a gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value. If there were, the government would have to make its holding illegal, as was done in the case of gold. If everyone decided, for example, to convert all his bank deposits to silver or copper or any other good and thereafter decline to accept checks as payment for goods, bank deposits would lose their purchasing power and government-created bank credit would be worthless as claims on goods. The financial policy of the welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to be able to protect themselves.

This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists' tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. If one grasps this, one has no difficulty in understanding the statists' antagonism toward the gold standard." -- Alan Greenspan, 'Gold and Economic Freedom' in 1966.


ShankyS's picture

Short the duck - AFLAC (AFL) 70% of earnings from Japan.

B9K9's picture

Exactly my point. I sometimes wonder who the hell Another, Friend of Another and Friend of Friend of Another were/are.

Tribal members aren't Catholics; their economic sins can't be absolved through confession. They can't speak freely, but on cold, rainy nights all alone with their PC & the right encryption software, an expensive bottle of Scotch by their side, and a yearning for freeing the truth, they just might spill a few beans to those who can perceive the signs.

michael.suede's picture

I think focusing on demographic shifts is wrong.

Rothbard and Mises showed us exactly why the business cycle occurs and exactly what government intervention does to markets.

There is no need to speculate on demographic shifts.

I suppose this article makes a good point that can be used to further undermine Keynesian fallacies, but rather than focusing on demographics, we should focus on the known causes of the business cycle.

If one thinks logically about this, they will come to the conclusion that falling demographics does not necessarily support the argument on its own because technological innovation allows for massively expanded rates of productivity per-worker.

We have to turn to Mises and Rothbard for the real answers.

Raymond K Hassel's picture

I'd suggest a read of HS Dent, agree or disagree, his demographic approach to markets has some profound logic behind it.

michael.suede's picture

Well I just pointed out one blatant reason why they are wrong.  The only way a demographics based approach can account for changes in productivity is by making assumptions which are not grounded in hard reality.

The Austrian school has provided all the answers by necessarily grounding itself in the actions of the individual.

Any theory that is not unified in its macro/micro views is wrong.

One must be able to explain the actions of individual actors all the way up to the actions of full markets under one theoretical roof.


mikla's picture

You assert demographics will have no affect on social spending (e.g., Social Security expenditures, pension liabilities).

While a welfare state exists, demographics will ensure insolvency through cash-flow problems.  That is independent of any merits to Austrian theories regarding business cycles.

You would have better success making such an argument for China (not a welfare state), but similarly you have the problem of social unrest and overthrow of the government (and implicitly overflow of the the economic system).

Neither Western welfare states nor Eastern social unrest relate to any merits for Austrian theories regarding business cycle.

michael.suede's picture

I never said demographics have no affect on social spending.

I said any economic theory that bases itself on demographics is wrong.

There is a big difference.

And, contrary to what you just said, the Austrian theory has very clear answers to those issues.


mikla's picture

I never said demographics have no affect on social spending.

I said any economic theory that bases itself on demographics is wrong.

There is a big difference.

Ok, then we're talking past each other:  I'm asserting the business cycle is *irrelevant* because of social spending (e.g., sovereign debt service) and political and social upheaval.  (Your original comment referenced the business cycle, and I'm responding that the business cycle is *totally* irrelevant.)

Summary:  Japan won't even be a culture nor a nation in a couple decades because of demographics.  The business cycle in Japan is irrelevant.

And, contrary to what you just said, the Austrian theory has very clear answers to those issues.

Only if it is a socio-political theory, not an economic theory.

michael.suede's picture

I would argue that its not irrelevant because one must look at why the social services were put in place to begin with.  One must also have a clear rational theory to explain all the economic damage caused by social welfare institutions.

I contend that Japan would have the same economic problems they have now even if they had a growing population base. As we all know, ponzi schemes require new entrants to keep the pyramid going.  The Austrian theory shows why the ponzi is bad in the first place.



mikla's picture

I would argue that its not irrelevant because one must look at why the social services were put in place to begin with.

I don't think "why" is relevant at all.  The question is only whether or not Social Security and Pensions exist.  They do, and they can't pay, and they will default.  There's no fix, there's no resolution.  (Curiously, economists can't seem to figure that out.)

Economic theories aren't useful for everything.  For example, they have little value when your village of 85 meet two hundred people wielding machetes.  The domains of socio-political policy, behaviors, and culture (and perhaps chemistry and particle physics) seem to be more important in that type of scenario.

I contend that Japan would have the same economic problems they have now even if they had a growing population base.

Partly agree.  Japan's problems from the 80's never went away -- we merely time-shifted them to the present day.  However, demographics are the *sole* reason the pension and Social Security ponzi got to this level, so clearly they aren't *totally* irrelevant.  Further, demographics (and fraud) are the reason the ponzi ends now, taking the nation out with them, so they similarly aren't *totally* irrelevant.  For Japan, productivity and savings are in decline with the demographics, and they have *no hope* of re-establishing a society (i.e., the Japanese human capital doesn't exist, and will never exist).

For the US, demographics and simple math (not economics, not theories) are why the social contract will shortly be violated, and society will "reboot" after screwing a lot of Baby Boomers.

bob resurrected's picture

In a democracy, social welfare institutions will always be. Social welfare institutions depend on the Ponzi scheme. Therefore, demographics matter.


enobittep's picture

I am no economist, but this post has highlights an important variable in my mind that has / is not getting a lot of attention.   

In most developed economies, consumer consumption is a sizable contributor to GDP.  If there is steep decline in the consumer segment of such a country's population for any prolonged period of time, I can only see this having a negative effect on a countries GDP.  I believe Japan is a net exporter (?), so growth in worker productivity would surely help offset the impact of the population decline.

michael.suede's picture

In a normal free market, natural gains in productivity would be able to manage any swings in demographics with ease.

Japan only has to worry about demographics shifts because of its ponzi welfare system.  If people were allowed to save the money they are currently forced to put into the ponzi, they would have plenty of resources left to deal with demographics shifts.

The problems all come from government allocating those saved resources into unproductive areas, there by wasting them, rather than allowing them to be used to grow the economy. 

A further comment on GDP spending - GDP spending also includes government expenditures.  This is totally ridiculous, since government expenditures are never spent productively.  Hiring a thousand more bureaucrats or building a dozen new aircraft carriers does not enrich the private sector of the economy one bit.  Since they can't export the carriers and the bureaucrats aren't making anything productive, it can be considered spending on resources that were totally wasted.




StychoKiller's picture

Bingo!  We have a winner!  ALL market distortions can be laid at the feet of the Govt!  I'm saving your post.

midtowng's picture

I think demographics are extremely important and not well understood. OTOH, I don't think the demographic shift will have as much impact on America as it has on Japan.

Thorlyx's picture

Soylent green might be an answer.

Running on Empty's picture

As long as it's made from Amanda I would eat that all day long.....

centerline's picture

Do you serve white wine or red wine with that?

BlackChicken's picture

Since the underlying protein comes from red meat, I would say red wine would pair the best here...

Might I suggest a fantastic red Zin from Robert Biale?

merehuman's picture

Eat me with dignity. And dont blame me for the bellyache

Ripped Chunk's picture

"Japan might just have spent the best part of twenty years trying to fiscally stimulate its way out of a demographic compression"

Bingo! ALL trends are driven by demographics.  Boomers !!!! Epic Collapse !!!!

1100-TACTICAL-12's picture

to many people in the cart, and not enough pulling it..

PhotonJohn's picture

Speaking of trends, I know the US has not been strong for a while but looking at those top charts against Japan's...things do not look good!

septicshock's picture

let the games begin.

duo's picture

Exponentially growing debt-based money can survive is the population is growing exponentially (though with a smaller exponent).

"Economic growth" should be expunged from the lexicon of economics.  Per capita income (productivity) is what really matters.  Everything else is Ponzi.

MrTrader's picture

"quartered by four of Bernanke's most vicious and bloodthirsty printers"....LOL ! Good laugh.

Pseudo Anonym's picture

stand-up comedy mat'l. making funny things funnier; that's what I call talent.
But, are things really so fucked up these days that all we have left is satire? That's what I want to know.

StychoKiller's picture

I hear ya!  I'm waiting for the slapstick of seeing TPTB getting hit with baseball bats, numerous times!

Azannoth's picture

The unfunded obligations and debt due is rising expotentialy where as population and economic growth is stagnating, guess where that leads <clif/>

Eureka Springs's picture

I'm still wringing out my beach towel... trying to get all the anti Keynesian slobber and spittle off my monitor. And I still don't get what particular aspect of Keynesian policy so upsets the author?

Seems to me the free marketeer Chicago Schoolers have no regard for human issues which massive demographic shifts cause. How dare Keynesians even try seems to be their best transparent attack.

michael.suede's picture

" Chicago Schoolers have no regard for human issues"

Which is code for:

I want free stuff by using the power of government to loot people because I'm a selfish hippie that likes to smoke pot and do nothing except make music and write poetry for a living.

Praise Mao.

Wealth redistribution is the ultimate in selfishness, it doesn't matter if its corporate subsidies or welfare handouts.

Eureka Springs's picture

Malarkey, wealth redistribution of one kind or another is a given in any circumstance i have ever read about. Unfortunately the measure of wealth by so many seems to be far to willing to forget things like health or living standards of all.


I know very few people who want or expect something for nothing. As a percentage of grift clearly the top are the overwhelming champions of that angle.


michael.suede's picture

That's probably because you learned economics from a public school teacher.

It stands to reason that anyone who earns a paycheck by holding a gun to another persons head is going to support wealth redistribution.

In a sane rational society, violent looting of the public by plutocrats is not necessary.


Eureka Springs's picture

We have a lot of problems, but your boogie men remind me of stories about bad acid trips.

Just how scary are you willing to be to avoid substintive discussion?

Oh look, someone just bought a loaf of bread with food stamps! Boo!

Now if someone could answer my question, what particular aspect of Keynesian policy in light of major demographic shifts and Japans response to such problems is so flawed? And what pray-tell, might be a better way?



michael.suede's picture

The better way is for government to stop looting the public through taxation and inflation.

I know it may be difficult to comprehend, but the wise overlords of government are piss poor at economic central planning.  Resources must be allocated by individual actors that are specialized in their respective fields.  Interest rates must be set by market forces in order for higher and lower order stages of production to be harmonized.  Welfare must be a function of charity rather than force.  Only through charity can the cream of the economy be given to the poor without taking from those who need the money themselves to create jobs and expand economic growth.

Japan will languish in agony forever, as will the US, because central planning does not work.  It only leads to economic disaster and total debt enslavement of the public.


Eureka Springs's picture


So how many of the 42 million on food stamps today have you stopped from making such a terrible mistake  in front of the food stamp office and helped out with charity? Just what charity aside from government could ever do this size of task? Shouldn't people like yourself who don't believe in it - and often spend time trying to destroy it... and have no solution, admit it and simply step aside and leave it to others. You don't have to pay much in taxation at all. I know from living through several economic levels. No taxation level I've ever experienced was ever a major cause of problems for me. Though I do believe it should be simplified a great deal. It's the ponzi schemers and their lobbyists who cause that fiasco.

I don't pretend to have answers myself, but i sure can smell a "let them all die" rat when I read one. And that in a nutshell is our countries/marketeers biggest problem. Not keyenes or taxes.


michael.suede's picture

Instead of "let them all die" - you should think of it as "let them all live"

The Soviets managed to kill some 7 million of their citizens through starvation by collectivizing their agriculture in order to control food production.

The rationale being they would be able to provide food for the poor without having to pay "profits" to the evil capitalist farmers.

In the end, the lack of a profit motive ended up destroying the Soviet agriculture industury, which cause them to starve to death.

Looting of the public can not solve complex social welfare issues.  It never has and it never will.  In a free society, jobs and wealth would be so abundant that the necessary charity could be managed entirely by the private sector.

It used to be this way in our past, and it can be that way in the future as well.


pachanguero's picture

I don't pretend to have answers myself, but i sure can smell a "let them all die" rat when I read one."""


And I can smell a "I will put a gun to your head to take YOUR money (In the name of the Poor) and give it to my friends who throw a few crumbs to the sheeple and that will make me "feel" like I give a shit about the poor so I don't really have to do anything my self cause I'm really a fucking hypocrite" rat when I read one too!

hamurobby's picture

You mean like maybe feed your neighbor and his kids after he cuts your grass or fixes your washing machine? not give them a card for food and a cell phone to look for work. There are jobs, just most people dont want them because they expect more than our service economy will pay. Soup lines were too degrading, and actually having family ties to fall back on was too much to ask of people. Its better to rely on the government instead of your family of neighbors. They have us right where they want us.

StychoKiller's picture

$50 Lesson I recently asked my friend's little girl what she wanted to be
when she grows up. She said she wanted to be President some day. Both of her
parents, liberal Democrats, were standing there, so I asked her, 'If you were
President what would be the first thing you would do?' She replied, 'I'd give
food and houses to all the homeless people.' Her parents beamed. 'Wow...what
a worthy goal.' I told her, 'But you don't have to wait until you're President
to do that. You can come over to my house and mow the lawn, pull weeds, and
rake my yard, and I'll pay you $50. Then I'll take you over to the grocery store
where a homeless guy hangs out, and you can give him the $50 to use toward food
and a new house.' She thought that over for a few seconds; then she looked me
straight in the eye and asked, 'Why doesn't the homeless guy come over and do
the work, and you just pay him the $50?' I said, 'Welcome to the Republican Party!'

So much for altruism!