ETC

Spanish Debt, Bank Borrowings Soar To Highest In Decades As Home Prices Fall By Most Ever While GDP Shrinks

If only the Fed or ECB could print another Spain with the same facility that they engage in currency destruction, (and make no mistake: yesterday's "open-ended" Fed easing, is today's ECB "open-ended" intervention, is tomorrow's BOJ, is Sunday's PBOC, etc.), now might be the time. Because things in Spain, no matter what one is told, are getting progressively worse. The reason: on one hand the continuing surge in regions and total debt, both of which jumped in Q2, on the other hand Spanish bank borrowings from the ECB soared to €389 billion in August, a new record, and up from €376 billion, just as TARGET2 liabilities rose to a new record of €429 billion as well, explaining where that surge in German TARGET2 claims went, on the third hand housing prices collapsed by 14.4% in Q2, the most ever, and tying all the hands together was that the Spanish economy contracted. But please ignore the details. Focus on the important things, such as the surge in the Ibex, the S&P, consumer confidence, gold, crude, etc, however long these continue. Because unless there is such a thing as a free lunch, with every incremental injection, all Bernanke proves is that the underlying reality is far worse than what is telegraphed to the people.

Overnight Summary: All Eyes On The Central Printer

While this and that may have happened overnight, the only thing that matters today is what the FOMC presents to a market which has now priced in well over 100% of a new easing round. Except little movement until Bernanke speaks, and with that removes any doubt that i) the Fed, like the ECB, are both political creations comprised of unelected academics, and ii) the entire modern capitalist world is nothing but a Pavlovian creation that responds only to promises of liquidity injections. Luckily, if nothing else, this will once and for all shut up anyone who claims that the market reflects the economy, it doesn't; that a "virtuous economic cycle" is possible under the new centrally planned normal, it isn't, and that the US economy is recovering 4 years after Lehman collapsed. It never did, and without $14 trillion in central bank liquidity injections over the same period, the world, as represented by the S&P, would be in a mindblowing depression, which it will still get back to once the surge in hard asset inflation offsets any incremental liquidity provided by the central planning academics as Citi warned yesterday.

Guest Post: Cui Bono Fed: Who Benefits from the Federal Reserve?

Cui bono--to whose benefit?--is a skeptic's scalpel that cuts through the fat of propaganda and political expediency to the hard truth. Since the world has been trained (in Pavlovian fashion) to hang on every word issued by America's privately owned central bank, the Federal Reserve, it's appropriate to ask a simple but profound question: Who benefits from the Fed's existence and its policies of loaning "free money" to banks at 0% and ZIRP (zero interest rate policy)? The Status Quo's answer is "the American people," of course, a deliciously juicy layer of "Big Lie" propaganda and obfuscation. Any healthy political and financial system would have broken the fraud-based system and dismantled the failed banks en masse in an orderly fashion. One institution stopped this from happening: the Federal Reserve. The Fed exists to serve the banks. Everything else is propaganda. Ever-expanding debt leaves America a nation of wealthy banks and increasingly impoverished debt-serfs. Cui bono, baby.

Guest Post: The Federal Reserve's Cargo Cult Magic: Housing Will Lift the Economy (Again)

I have often identified Keynesian economists and the Federal Reserve as cargo cults. After the U.S. won World War II in the Pacific Theater, its forces left huge stockpiles of goods behind on remote South Pacific islands because it wasn’t worth taking it all back to America. After the Americans left, some islanders, nostalgic for the seemingly endless fleet of ships loaded with technological goodies, started Cargo Cults that believed magical rituals and incantations would bring the ships of “free” wealth back. Some mimicked technology by painting radio dials on rocks and using the phantom radio to “call back” the “free wealth” ships. The Keynesians are like deluded members of a Cargo Cult. They ignore the reality of debt, rising interest payments and the resulting debt-serfdom in their belief that money spent indiscriminately on friction, fraud, speculation and malinvestment will magically call back the fleet of rapid growth. To the Keynesian, a Bridge to Nowhere is equally worthy of borrowed money as a high-tech factory. They are unable to distinguish between sterile sand and fertilizer, and unable to grasp the fact that ever-rising debt leaves America a nation of wealthy banks and increasingly impoverished debt-serfs.

Guest Post: Hedging Against Capital Controls: Opening An Account Overseas

Two signs that fear and instability have reached critical mass are capital flight and capital controls. Capital flight is people and enterprises moving their capital (cash and liquid assets) to an overseas "safe haven" to avoid devaluation of the currency or confiscation of their capital/assets. (Devaluation can be seen as one method of confiscation; high taxes are another.) Capital controls are the Central State's way of stemming the flood of cash leaving the country. Why do they want to stop money leaving? If we think of each Central State as a neofeudal fiefdom, we understand the motivation: citizens are in effect serfs who serve the State and its financial nobility. If the serfs move their capital out of the fiefdom, it is no longer available as collateral for the banks and a source of revenue for the State. Once capital has drained away, borrowing and lending shrink, cutting off the revenue source of the banks (financial nobility). Since financial activity also declines as cash is withdrawn from the system, the State's "skim"--transaction fees, sales taxes, VAT taxes, income taxes, wealth taxes, etc.--also declines. Both the State and its financial nobility are at increasing risk of decline and eventual implosion as capital flees the fiefdom. The Central State imposes capital controls as a means of Elite self-preservation.

Guest Post: Matthew Stein Asks "How Prepared Are You?"

During the height of the 'Goldilocks economy' of the mid-1990s, Mat Stein wrote When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency , a master compendium of do-it-yourself preparation skills. Fast-forward to today's Great Recession, drought-stricken, $100+ oil, post-Katrina, post-Fukushima world -- many are realizing the prudence of taking basic precautionary steps to reduce their vulnerability to whatever the future may bring. Whether you're concerned about the fallout from a breakdown of today's weakened global economy, or simply want to be better able to deal with the aftermath of a natural disaster if you live in an earthquake/hurricane/flood/wildfire/tornado-prone part of the world, the personal resiliency measures Mat recommends make sense for almost everyone to consider. It's important to note that Mat isn't a doomer bent on fanning fears of a zombie apocalypse (though those concerned about social collapse will find much utility in his work), but believes that our current fossil fuel-driven, hyper-consumptive, and over-leveraged way of life is not sustainable.

Guest Post: Bernanke’s Jobs Estimate

Quantitative easing hasn’t been about jobs. If this was about jobs or stimulating demand, Bernanke would have aimed the helicopter drops at the wider public, as many economists have suggested. This policy of dropping cash directly to the banks is bailing out a dangerous and morally-hazardous financial sector and too-big-to-fail megabanks that remain dangerously overleveraged and under-capitalised, needing endless new liquidity just to keep past debts serviceable. There has been plenty of cash helicopter-dropped onto Wall Street, but nobody on Wall Street has gone to jail for causing the 2008 crisis. Criminal banksters get the huge liquidity injections they want, and the rest get less than crumbs.

Guest Post: How "Crazy Survivalists" Make The World A Better Place

I was recently interviewed by a journalist for a local newspaper who was developing a story on the exponential rise of the “prepper lifestyle” in America, most especially in Western Montana.  Being an outsider to the Liberty Movement, she was naturally curious as to what motivated us to make what some in our culture would see as a drastic and bewildering leap away from the mainstream.  She was equally fascinated with our willingness to travel great distances and make substantial sacrifices to live in regions like the American Redoubt.  I will not deny, Montana has indeed become a “hotbed” of survivalism and Constitutionalism, or what the Southern Poverty Law Center would call “extremism and domestic terrorism”.  I lived in Pittsburgh for years while writing for Neithercorp and Alt-Market and rarely ran into like minded individuals aware of the tenuous status of our society.  Within days of moving to Montana, I was being recognized by complete strangers in supermarkets excited to discuss the inner workings of Keynesian monetary corruption, precious metals investment, and Alinsky disinformation tactics.  Yeah…I know…it’s weird. After living for a while in the Redoubt, you begin to forget that there are still many people in this country that are utterly oblivious to the epic dangers around them, as well as painfully helpless in knowing what to do when those dangers land on their doorsteps.  Speaking with the newspaper reporter, and my experiences at Paulfest in Tampa, Florida, reminded me that the world has yet to be reminded of the value of survivalism.  There is still a gap, a disconnect, a psychological twitch of the masses, and it compels me to explain, yet again, what they are missing.

Guest Post: Is Anybody Else Tired Of Buying And Owning Stuff?

There is so much stuff floating around America that we end up with stuff we didn't buy or even ask for--old laptops, bicycles (abandoned on our property, left by neighbors moving away, left to us by elderly neighbors who passed on, etc.) and clothing, to mention but a few of of the things that we have "inherited." I make a point to be a "good citizen" by taking outdated printers, modems and other electronics to the recycling yard; others aren't so civic-minded, as proven by the piles of high-tech detritus that litter street corners and dumpsites around the nation. When the university students leave town in May, dumpster after dumpster is filled with broken Ikea furniture and old mattresses, many of recent vintage. It isn't worth hauling any of it home. They will buy more future-landfill at Ikea when they settle down somewhere else. My new mantra is "please don't give us anything we won't consume in a few days."

The Post Globalized World Part 1: Why The PIGS Are Out Of Luck

There are three key factors to modeling trade flows - or relevance - in a post-globalization world. While competitiveness is important, countries gain from being generally 'Technology-rich', 'Labor-rich', and/or 'Resource-rich'. The following chart, from Deutsche Bank, shows where the world's countries fit into the Venn diagram of give-and-take in a post-globalization market. The red oval highlights where Italy, Greece, Portugal, and Spain (and Argentina sadly enough) do not fit into this picture. Two words - Euro-sustainability?

Guest Post: Now That The Easy Stuff Has Failed, All That's Left Is The Hard Stuff

The disregard for the future and the fundamentals of fiscal well-being is about to reap consequences. The Powers That Be counted on "time healing all," as if the mere passage of time would magically heal a broken economy and political machine. Time heals all--unless you have an aggressive cancer. The system has been pushed to extremes: the expectations are impossibly high, the promises are impossibly generous and the sums of money demanded by the vested interests "just to stay afloat" are stratospheric. The "run to fail" levers have all been pushed to the maximum, and it is simply too politically painful to make any real-world adjustments that might save the system from imploding. Nobody wants a crisis, yet a crisis is the only thing that can save the system from implosion.

Guest Post: Does the Iranian Government Have A Right To A Nuclear Bomb?

The heightening tension between the United States government and Iran’s is based off of the fallacious notion that nuclear weapons have a legitimate purpose outside of killing enormous amounts of people.  Yet they have no other real purpose in the end.  Governments possess nuclear weaponry because there is little recourse for state-sanctioned murder.  The millions of innocent lives that stand to be vanquished off the face of the Earth have little meaning to the power-tripping political elite.  So while the Iranian government’s pursuance of nuclear weapons should be condemned, the United States government, the Israeli government, and others capable of waging nuclear war are in no place to criticize.