Hyperinflation

On Gold As A Hyperinflation Put

Gold has had an amazing recent run. From December 1999 to March 2012 the U.S. dollar price of gold rose more than 15.4% per annum, the U.S. Consumer Price Index increased by 2.5% per annum, while U.S. stock and bond markets registered annual gains of 1.5% and 6.4%, respectively. It is not surprising then that there is so much disagreement about gold’s future and it is this "Golden Dilemma" that a new paper by Erb and Harvey focuses on, analyzing at least six somewhat different arguments that have been advanced for owning gold: gold provides an inflation hedge; gold serves as a currency hedge; gold is an attractive alternative to assets with low real returns; gold a safe haven in times of stress; gold should be held because we are returning to a de facto world gold standard; and gold is “underowned”. The debate over the prospects for gold resembles in some sense the parable of the six blind men and the elephant. Different perspectives, different models, lead to different insights. Depending upon which rationale, or combination of rationales, one embraces, gold is either very expensive or attractive. However, one important conclusion is that their analysis shows that the price of gold is very sensitive to even a remote possibility of another Weimar Republic-like inflation episode. So while there is disagreement over gold as an inflation-hedge, it is critically a levered option on hyperinflation as even extraordinarily small probabilities of 'extreme' inflation will have a large impact on the possible future price of gold.

RickAckerman's picture

 

Savers and retirees aren’t the only ones getting screwed by interest rates that have been artificially suppressed by central banks around the world.  These days, banks themselves are finding it increasingly difficult to earn even a nominal return on instruments they consider safe. Just last week, Denmark’s Nationalbanken set its deposit rate below zero for the first time, effectively charging commercial banks and others a fee for parking their surpluses in krones. There are numerous reasons why the krone would be a magnet for idle money. For one, Denmark’s economy is among the strongest in Europe. Also, because Danes rejected euro-zone membership in 2000, they enjoy a degree of political and economic autonomy that their neighbors do not have. This will presumably make Denmark less susceptible to the shock waves that follow the inevitable implosion of Greece, Spain, Italy et al. Small wonder, then, that the global stewards of OPM would consider the krone a safe haven even though it now guarantees them at least a small loss on their money. From Denmark’s standpoint, the decision to follow the European Central Bank’s latest rate cut was unavoidable. The alternative would have been to sit idly by as the krone appreciated, hobbling the country’s exports and destabilizing its balance sheet.

 

Guest Post: The Real Testosterone Junkies

We especially enjoy reading things that we disagree with, and that challenge my own beliefs. Strong ideas are made stronger, and weak ideas dissolve in the spotlight of scrutiny. People who are unhappy to read criticisms of their own ideas are opening the floodgates to ignorance and dogmatism. Yet sometimes our own open-minded contrarianism leads us to something unbelievably shitty.

The financial system is being regulated by clueless schmucks — many of whom would also castigate Zero Hedge as a “big fat hoax”, while ignoring grift and degeneracy within the financial establishment and the TBTF banks. In the face of such grotesque incompetence who can blame market participants for wanting a hedge against zero?

Guest Post: The Socialization Of America Is Economically Impossible

I understand the dream of the common socialist.  I was, after all, once a Democrat.  I understand the disparity created in our society by corporatism (not capitalism, though some foolish socialists see them as exactly the same).  I understand the drive and the desire to help other human beings, especially those in dire need, and the tendency to see government as the ultimate solution to all our problems.  That said, let’s be honest; government is in the end just a tool used by one group or another to implement a particular methodology or set of principles.  Unfortunately, what most socialists today don’t seem to understand is that no matter what strategies they devise, they will NEVER have control.  And, those they wish to help will be led to suffer, because the establishment does not care about them, or you.  The establishment does not think of what it can give, it thinks about what it can take.  Socialism, in the minds of the elites, is a con-game which allows them to quarry the favor of the serfs, and nothing more. There are other powers at work in this world; powers that have the ability to play both sides of the political spectrum.  The money elite have been wielding the false left/right paradigm for centuries, and to great effect.  Whether socialism or corporatism prevails, they are the final victors, and the game continues onward… Knowing this fact, I find that my reactions to the entire Obamacare debate rather muddled.  Really, I see the whole event as a kind of circus, a mirage, a distraction.  Perhaps it is because I am first and foremost an economic analyst, and when looking at Obamacare and socialization in general, I see no tangibility.  I see no threat beyond what we as Americans already face.  Let me explain…

Fed's John Williams Opens Mouth, Proves He Has No Clue About Modern Money Creation

There is a saying that it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. Today, the San Fran Fed's John Williams, and by proxy the Federal Reserve in general, spoke out, and once again removed all doubt that they have no idea how modern money and inflation interact. In a speech titled, appropriately enough, "Monetary Policy, Money, and Inflation", essentially made the case that this time is different and that no matter how much printing the Fed engages in, there will be no inflation. To wit: "In a world where the Fed pays interest on bank reserves, traditional theories that tell of a mechanical link between reserves, money supply, and, ultimately, inflation are no longer valid. Over the past four years, the Federal Reserve has more than tripled the monetary base, a key determinant of money supply. Some commentators have sounded an alarm that this massive expansion of the monetary base will inexorably lead to high inflation, à la Friedman.Despite these dire predictions, inflation in the United States has been the dog that didn’t bark." He then proceeds to add some pretty (if completely irrelevant) charts of the money multipliers which as we all know have plummeted and concludes by saying "Recent developments make a compelling case that traditional textbook views of the connections between monetary policy, money, and inflation are outdated and need to be revised." And actually, he is correct: the way most people approach monetary policy is 100% wrong. The problem is that the Fed is the biggest culprit, and while others merely conceive of gibberish in the form of three letter economic theories, which usually has the words Modern, or Revised (and why note Super or Turbo), to make them sound more credible, they ultimately harm nobody. The Fed's power to impair, however, is endless, and as such it bears analyzing just how and why the Fed is absolutely wrong.

Guest Post: Could This Make Ben Bernanke A Soviet Dictator?

Could this make Ben Bernanke a Soviet dictator?
More than two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Iron Curtain is still alive and well in an often forgotten corner of Eastern Europe… albeit a kindler, gentler version. Belarus has been ruled by the same person, Alexandr Lukashenko, practically since its independence in the early 1990s. He has total control of every facet of the country, from media and information flow, to education, to the military and ‘State Security Agency’ (which is still called the KGB), to the centrally planned economy. Perhaps nowhere is this more obvious than with respect to the nation’s currency, the Belarusian ruble. In 2009, one US dollar bought roughly 2,200 Belarusian rubles. In 2010, that number rose to 2,800. A year later, over 3,000. And today, one US dollar is worth over 8,000 rubles. On the black market, it’s much, much higher. (You can just imagine how much the ruble has lost against gold and silver over the same period.)

The "American Exceptionalism" Paradigm Is Broken

The revaluation that is underway now is beyond the simple scope of corporate earnings valuations, going to the very core of the system itself.  Just like the equity pricing regime (and investor expectations for equity assets) needs to adjust to the twelve-year-old bear market reality, pricing within the global banking system as a whole needs to adjust to the reality that the artificial growth of the economic textbook is not replicable.  The economic truth of 2012 is that much of the science of economics, and the foundation that gives to finance and financial pricing, was a temporal anomaly befitting only those specific conditions of that bygone era.  In other words, the entire financial world needs to reset itself outside the paradigm of pre-2008.  The secular bear market in US equities is one strand of this changing landscape, perhaps the first stirring of the collapse of the activist central bank experiment. In the end, the potential selling pressure of the dollar shortage is irresistible, no matter how “cheap” stock prices are to earnings, but none of it may matter in the grander scheme of a dramatic reset to the global system.  The inability of that global system to escape this critical state, to simply move beyond crisis and function “normally” again, demonstrates conclusively, in my opinion, the foundational transformation that is still taking place well beyond the stock bear.  Everything is a locked feedback loop of negative pressures in this age, no matter how much we want to see “value” where and how it used to exist. 

Paradigm shifts are rarely orderly, but there are warning signs.

Peak Monthly Inflation In 1945 Hungary: 12,950,000,000,000,000% And Other Hyprinflationary Facts

For some reason, whenever people want to make a historical example of a hyperinflationary period, they always bring up the Weimar Republic, aka Germany in 1920-1923. Yet with a highest monthly inflation of just under 30,000%, Weimar was a true walk in the park compared to the 309,000,000% monthly inflation in 1992-1994 Serbia, but especially to the 12,950,000,000,000,000% inflation that Hungarians had to deal with in the aftermath of WWII. For these and more  comparative examples of hyperinflation, particularly relevant now that the entire world is rumored (for now) to be getting ready to print, see below.

Cue Hyperinflation In 5... 4... 3...

This pretty much says it all:

  • BOE'S POSEN SAYS TIME FOR CENTRAL BANKS, INCLUDING BOE, TO BUY PRIVATE ASSETS
  • POSEN SAYS BUYING PRIVATE-SECTOR ASSETS WOULD HELP ECONOMY

Buy. Real. Assets. Now

Guest Post: Debt Is Not Wealth

Deflation has effectively been abolished by central banking. But is it sustainable? The endless post-Keynesian outgrowth of debt suggests not. In fact, what is ultimately suggested is that the abolition of small-scale deflationary liquidations has just primed the system for a much, much larger liquidation later on. Central bankers have shirked the historical growth cycle consisting both of periods of growth and expansion, as well as periods of contraction and liquidation. They have certainly had a good run. Those warning of impending hyperinflation following 2008 were proven wrong; deflationary forces offset the inflationary impact of bailouts and monetary expansion, even as food prices hit records, and revolutions spread throughout emerging markets. And Japan — the prototypical unliquidated zombie economy — has been stuck in a depressive rut for most of the last twenty years. These interventions, it seems, have pernicious negative side-effects. Those twin delusions central bankers have sought to cater to — for creditors, that debt is wealth and should never be liquidated, and for debtors that debt is an easy or free lunch — have been smashed by the juggernaut of history many times before. While we cannot know exactly when, or exactly how — and in spite of the best efforts of central bankers — we think they will soon be smashed again.

Phoenix Capital Research's picture

 

To be clear, the Fed, indeed, Global Central Banks in general, have never had to deal with a problem the size of the coming EU’s Banking Crisis. I want to stress all of these facts because I am often labeled as being just “doom and gloom” all the time. But I am not in fact doom and gloom. I am a realist. And EU is a colossal mess beyond the scope of anyone’s imagination. The World’s Central Banks cannot possibly hope to contain it. They literally have one of two choices:

  1. Monetize everything (hyperinflation)
  2. Allow the defaults and collapse to happen (mega-deflation)

Things That Make You Go Hmmm - Such As The "Grexit"

“I don’t envisage, not even for one second, Greece leaving. This is nonsense, this is propaganda.”

– Jean-Claude Juncker, Chairman EuroGroup FinMin Committee

 

When it becomes serious, you have to lie.’’

– Jean-Claude Juncker, Same guy

The ECB Presents: Inflation Island

After a day full of depressing news, what is the best way to unwind? By pretending one is former Goldman employee Mario Draghi and having to grapple with 4 make believe scenarios, of course. These are: deflation, price stabeeleetee, high inflation and hyperinflation. But instead of actually being in his shoes, and stuck in a damp Frankfurt basement with the manual for Heidelberg: Mainstream 80, Web-fed Rotary Printer, figuring out how to put it into overdrive, one can have fun from the comfort of one's own REOed and mortgage-free (thank you Congressional Politburo) home courtesy of the following ECB video game. Good luck, and may the printiest man win.

Next Stop: Dow 100,000

We thought that Jeremy Siegel, Laszlo "the Ruler" Birinyi and Jim Altucher were optimistic with their stock market targets. Sadly, with their equal to or less than 20,000 Dow Jones predictions, the three merely come off as rank amateurs, especially when compared to the forecast of BNP's head of fixed income Philippe Gijesels, who sees the stock market at 100,000 at some point over the next 25 years. However, unlike the previous trio who bases its forecasts on misguided expectations of economic growth, Gijesels may actually end up being right, because his estimate is predicated on one simple thing: hyperinflation, or specifically 12.2% inflation each year, which for a country like America is tantamount to the dreaded H-word. The other premise used by Gijesels: too much debt which has to be inflated. And actually, he is spot on. The only problem is that when the Dow hits 100,000 due to money printing, which is his underlying thesis, one will needed scientific notation to express the price of any hard asset (and most certainly gold), because if America falls in a two-decade long Weimar republic phase, the Dow may well be 100,000 or 100 googol - the truth is it won't matter as the money this number translated to would be absolutely meaningless. Just ask the Weimar Germans, who may have had some tremendous monthly increases in their 401(k) statements, but all they really cared about is whether they had the latest and most fashionable wheelbarrow model.