Société Générale (“SocGen”) recently published a special report entitled “The end of the gold era” that garnered far more attention than we think it deserved. The majority of the report focused on SocGen’s “crash scenario” for gold wherein they suggest that gold could fall well below their 2013 target of US$1,375/oz. It also included a classic criticism that we’ve heard so many times before: that the gold price is in “bubble territory”. We have problems with both suggestions.
The enduring myth of the post-2008 era is that central-planning money printing and deficit spending would soon spark a self-sustaining recovery. Once consumers and businesses stepped up their own borrowing and spending, the central bank and state would then pare back money printing and deficit spending, as the increase in private-sector spending would fuel further borrowing and spending, i.e. become self-sustaining. The reality is the mythical self-sustaining recovery is the carrot dangled in front of a credulous public: though we're constantly reassured "we're almost there" (the promised land of self-sustaining recovery), the mythical recovery remains out of reach, no matter how much money is printed or borrowed and blown in fiscal stimulus. There are several key reasons for this.
Debt-serfdom and the dominance of Financial Power are two sides of the same coin. Let's be clear about three things: 1. Too Big to Fail financialization is the metastasizing cancer that has crippled democracy and capitalism; 2. Financialization feeds on expanding debt and cannot survive without it; and 3. Debt is serfdom. Debt is the mechanism of the Financial Powers' dominance and the chains of our serfdom. Eliminate debt and you eliminate the foundation of banks' power and the financial bondage of serfdom. Though it would dearly love to, the State cannot force anyone to take on debt except as taxpayers. We do not have to remain debt-serfs, nor accept our servitude as unavoidable or fated. Debt = serfdom. There is another way to live, frugally, with only short-term debts that are paid off in a few short years. We either accept the consumerist-narcissist debt-serf programming or reject it. We are neither victims nor bystanders. The choice is ours.
"All this money printing, massive debt, and reckless deficit spending – and we have 2% inflation? I'm beginning to believe that either the deflationists are right, or the Fed's interventions are working." While a low CPI may be puzzling in the midst of massive, global currency abuse, there are three realities about inflation that convince us it's not only coming, but will catch an unsuspecting citizenry off guard. Let's take a look at why we're convinced inflation will be one of the next big catalysts for the gold price...
On the surface, it may seem innocuous for Germany to move some pallets of gold closer to home. The Bundesbank said the purpose of the move was to "build trust and confidence domestically, and the ability to exchange gold for foreign currencies at gold-trading centers abroad within a short space of time." It's just satisfying the worries of the commoners. What your friendly government economist doesn't reveal and the mainstream journalist doesn't report (or doesn't understand) is that in the event of a US bankruptcy, euro implosion, or similar financial catastrophe, access to gold would almost certainly be limited. If other countries follow Germany's path or the mistrust between central bankers grows, the next logical step would be to clamp down on gold exports. It would be the beginning of the kind of stringent capital controls Doug Casey and a few others have warned about for years. Think about it: is it really so far-fetched to think politicians wouldn't somehow restrict the movement of gold if their currencies and/or economies were failing? Remember, India keeps tinkering with ideas like this already. What this means for you and me is that moving gold outside your country – especially if you're a US citizen – could be banned.
The American spirit is rooted in the belief of a better tomorrow. Its success has been due to generations of men and women who toiled, through both hardship and boom times, to make that dream a reality. But at some point over the past several decades, that hope for a better tomorrow became an expectation. Or perhaps a perceived entitlement is more accurate. It became assumed that the future would be more prosperous than today, irrespective of the actual steps being taken in the here and now. And for a prolonged time – characterized by plentiful and cheap energy, accelerating globalization, technical innovation, and the financialization of the economy – it seemed like this assumption was a certain bet. But these wonderful tailwinds that America has been enjoying for so many decades are sputtering out. The forces of resource scarcity, debt saturation, price inflation, and physical limits will impact our way of life dramatically more going forward than living generations have experienced to date. And Americans, who had the luxury of abandoning savings and sacrifice for consumerism and credit financing, are on a collision course with that reality.
A little while ago, Paul Ryan revealed his proposal for a US budget titled "the Path to Prosperity" which is a 91-page waste of time, because if America nearly fired more people than were employed as a result of an $85 billion reduction to the increasing US rate of spending, at least according to math and logic-challenged Maxine Waters, Ryan's suggestion to really gut spending by cutting $4.6 trillion from the deficit over the next decade would be Armageddon incarnate as interpreted by the Obama administration. Which, no matter what one thinks of Ryan's political views, is unfortunate as the fundamental ideas contained in the budget are spot on: America has an unsustainable spending problem which, however, simply can not be resolved, period. After all - why bother: Bernanke will fund US deficit spending until the very end. So while we present the budget in its entirety for those who need a handy paperback to print out, below we have cropped the key, read scariest charts, from Ryan's budget. They are self-explanatory.
How Far Will the Government Go to Defend the Too Big to Fail Banks?
Central bankers have been counting on "the wealth effect" to lift their economies out of the post-2009 global meltdown slump. The wealth effect concept is simple: flooding the economy with credit and zero-interest money boosts the value of assets such as housing, stocks and bonds. Those owning the assets feel wealthier, and thus more inclined to borrow and spend more money. This new spending creates more demand which then leads employers to hire more employees. Unfortunately for the bottom 90% who don't own enough stocks to feel any wealth effect, the central bankers got it wrong: wages don't rise as a result of the wealth effect, they rise from an increased production of goods and services. Despite unprecedented money-printing, zero interest rates and vast credit expansion, real wages have declined.
Well, this is awkward, but in our always fair and balanced way, we present the two sides of the GOP's response to Obama's SOTU - the 'official' Marco Rubio response and Rand Paul's Tea Party Express response, with speech excerpts and streams...
“If Congress refuses to obey its own rules, if Congress refuses to pass a budget, if Congress refuses to read the bills, then I say: Sweep the place clean. Limit their terms and send them home!”
The insanity that has gripped policymakers all over the world really is a sight to see. There was a time when central bankers were extremely careful not to do anything that might endanger the currency's value too much – in other words, they were intent on boiling the frog slowly. And why wouldn't they? After all, the amount by which the citizenry is plucked via depreciation of the currency every year is compounding, so that the men behind the curtain extract more than enough over time. The latest example for the growing chutzpa of these snake-oil sellers is provided by Lord Adair Turner in the UK (as it faces its triple-dip recession) - who sees the current policy is evidently failing, so he naturally concludes that there should not only be more of it, but it should become more brazen by veering off into the 'Weimaresque'.
There are no limits on Central State and financial Aristocracy exploitation, but there are limits on what debt-serfs can pay. Since we can't print money, there are limits for us debt-serfs. There are also limits on how much we can extract from a neocolonial/neofeudal system as wages. This neocolonial/neofeudal financialization model will implode under its own weight, and that will be the crisis.
On the surface, it may seem innocuous for Germany to move some pallets of gold closer to home. But most economists can't see the bigger implications and frequently miss the forest for the trees. What your friendly government economist doesn't reveal and the mainstream journalist doesn't report (or doesn't understand) is that in the event of a US bankruptcy, euro implosion, or similar financial catastrophe, access to gold would almost certainly be limited. If other countries follow Germany's path or the mistrust between central bankers grows, the next logical step would be to clamp down on gold exports. It would be the beginning of the kind of stringent capital controls Doug Casey and a few others have warned about for years. Think about it: is it really so far-fetched to think politicians wouldn't somehow restrict the movement of gold if their currencies and/or economies were failing? Remember, India keeps tinkering with ideas like this already.
The Keynesian belief that the government can print/ borrow and spend enough money to trigger self-sustaining prosperity is a nonsensical, magical-thinking Cargo Cult. The following charts show why it will continue to fail, with eventually catastrophic results: the returns on this unprecedented borrow-spend policy are diminishing to near-zero or negative. As long as the interest rate on debt is low, the path of least resistance is to keep borrowing to support politically untouchable fiefdoms, cartels and constituencies. Eventually, the cost of servicing the debt overwhelms the diminishing returns on the debt-based spending.
Cannot be resolved by decapitating the yen