Post-Hyperinflationary Zimbabwe Welcomes The Holidays With 80% Unemployment, Empty ATMs And Paralyzed Transport

Zimbabwe's hyperinflation, courtesy of one Gideon Gono - the brilliant man behind such grand monetary experiments as QE and its offshoots throughout the developed world - and numerous one hundred trillion dollar Zimbabwe dollar bills, may have come and gone, and the country may no longer have a functioning currency of its own, but it certainly has the aftermath of the most recent episode of modern-era monetary hyperinflation to contend with. And with the holidays here, AP provides a very bleak snapshot of what the country which currently has an 80% unemployment, has to look forward to. Zimbabweans are facing bleak holidays this year amid rising poverty, food and cash shortages and political uncertainty, with some describing it as the worst since the formation of the coalition government in the southern African nation.... Banks have closed, ATMs have run out of cash and transport services have been paralyzed." It gets worse: "Zimbabwe's unemployment is pegged at around 80 percent with many people in Harare, the capital, eking out a living by selling vegetables and fruits on street corners." And all of this is after the massive economic imbalances in Zimbabwe's economy should have been "fixed" (or so conventional economic theory would have one believe) courtesy of hyperinflation, which left any savers in tatters, destroyed the value of the old currency, benefited solely debtors  but also allowed a fresh start to a government, which could only remain in power due to a violent power grab by the democratically elected-turned-dictator Robert Mugabe.

Demand For Gold "CombiBars" Soaring

One of the biggest complaints about gold - always a parallel currency to paper, and soon to be serial, once the world shifts to a post-paper currency reality in which faith in infinitely creatable electronic paper money is finally destroyed - is that it would be an impractical medium of exchange, as the traditional denominations are so large one would be unable to trade one ounce (and certainly one bar) for every day needs. This is also one of the main reasons various retail investors prefer silver over gold. All this may be changing courtesy of Swiss refiner Valcambi which has created a CombiBar, a credit-card sized, 50 gram block of 99.9 gold, which is precut, and which can easily be broken into one gram pieces which can then be used as forms of payment in an emergency. And since one gram of gold has roughly the value of two ounces of silver, it is a far more practical lowest common denominator unit of exchange than the traditional one ounce minimums in broad circulation.

Visualizing The Keynesian Endpoint

We recently posted Kyle Bass’s keynote speech at the Americatalyst 2012 conference. One of the main threads running through his thesis is the “Keynesian Endpoint”; covering debt super-cycles, the Federal Reserve’s inability to move rates from 0% and the (unintuitive) interconnectedness of sovereign default and hyperinflation. By way of clarification to global Ponzi we discussed earlier, Addogram has created an excellent infographic plotting the development of these ideas and mechanisms from 1792 to the present day.

Yves Lamoureux's picture

Gold’s recent move down is tracking our forecast.We saw an initial shock to gold as the pressure of higher rates moved through the system. What is perhaps lost on most market observers is the slowing pace of global liquidity flowing into the system. You could call the current situation a problem of velocity synchronicity.

Guest Post: What Causes Hyperinflations And Why We Have Not Seen One Yet

What causes hyperinflations? The answer is: Quasi-fiscal deficits (A quasi-fiscal deficit is the deficit of a central bank)! Why have we not seen hyperinflation yet? Because we have not had quasi-fiscal deficits! Essentially, hyperinflation is the ultimate and most expensive bailout of a broken banking system, which every holder of the currency is forced to pay for in a losing proposition, for it inevitably ends in its final destruction. Hyperinflation is the vomit of economic systems: Just like any other vomit, it’s a very good thing, because we can all finally feel better. We have puked the rotten stuff out of the system.

Guest Post: How To Spot A Hypocrite In The Gun Debate And Other Reflections On Newtown

What happened on December 14, 2012 was obviously a horrific tragedy that my simple mind can’t possibly wrap itself around, but what I can do is send my deepest thoughts, prayers and sympathies to all of those affected.  I can’t imagine the level of pain and suffering you are all experiencing.  This article; however, isn’t directed at you.  There is nothing I can do to ease your pain.  This article is for the rest of us who weren’t directly affected by the incident, but may be indirectly affected by certain parties’ emotional response to it and by those that will exploit it to justify agendas.

10 Things You Didn't Know About Gold

With gold and silver down this morning - following a mysterious vertical plunge last night (once again) - we thought ConvergEx's Nick Colas' timely discussion of gold was worthwhile. As he notes, Gold is the ultimate personality test for investors.  Some hate it, excoriating its adherents for their lack of faith in human ingenuity – gold has been valuable since before humans could write. And some swear by the yellow metal, in the belief that it is the last vestige of rationality in a world of financial assets manipulated by central banks and opaque trading venues.  What gets lost in the wash is that gold is a commodity and can be analyzed as such. On that basis, here is the 'Top 10' list of real-world fundamentals for gold.

Guest Post: A Few Thoughts On Gold, Part 1 – Gold As An Investment

It must be pointed out that gold is certainly no longer the bargain it was at the lows over a decade ago (at which time Warren Buffett undoubtedly hated it just as much as today). This is by no means akin to saying that there is no longer a bull market in force though. What seems however extremely unlikely to us is that the long term bull market is anywhere near to being over. After all, the people in charge of  fiscal and monetary policy all over the globe are applying their 'tried and true' recipe to the perceived economic ills of the world in ever bigger gobs of 'more of the same'. Until that changes – and we feel pretty sure that the only thing that can usher in profound change on that score is a crisis of such proportions that the ability of said authorities to keep things under control by employing this recipe is simply overwhelmed – there is no reason not to hold gold in order to insure oneself against their depredations.


Central Bankers - Unorthodox Policy Options Left In The Armory

A week ago, Mark Carney was announced as the BoE’s next Governor amid much fanfare. This week, Japan’s election could herald a new more aggressive approach from the BoJ. 2013 will then see speculation mount about Bernanke’s successor and also likely see the operation of the ECB landmark OMT program. It will also mark the 100 years of the Fed and probably much reflection on their impact on the US/Global financial system. So, as Deutsche's Jim Reid notes, central banks will remain in the spotlight for 2013. However whilst their actions to date have certainly minimized the tail-risk post-GFC, they have yet to lift real GDP above their 2007/2008 peak in most countries and virtually every developed economy is operating well below what is perceived to be trend growth. QE would have been seen as highly unorthodox four years ago - and unique for most central banks stretching back through their history. However fast forward to today, that old unorthodoxy has become the new orthodoxy. But what have the world’s central banks got left to offer a world that at some point might be hungry for more?  as the world economy peers into the future and sees a growing threat of a recurring recessions and below target inflation, radical monetary policy may become increasingly appealing as elected politicians stuck in gridlock turn to (relatively) politically unconstrained central bankers to save them from their failings and get their economies racing again. For better or for worse.

Elliott's Paul Singer Reveals The Thing That Scares Him Most

"They say this is not massive money printing, but first they are wrong; and second, monetary authorities in the United States did not see the crash coming and the unsoundness of the financial system. In fact, right up until the crash they were saying that nothing like what happened could ever happen... This monetary policy, $3 trillion of bond buying in the United States, $3 trillion in Europe and another $2.5 trillion to $3 trillion in Japan, is unprecedented. ... If and when people lose confidence in paper money because of repeated bouts of quantitative easing and zero-percent interest rates—it could happen suddenly and in a ferocious manner in the commodity markets, in gold, possibly in real estate—interest rates could go up at the long end by hundreds of basis points in a very short time. I’m quite concerned as a money manager that we have to manage money, not just for the boundaries of what’s in front of our faces—maybe we’ll have a little tax increase or not, the fiscal cliff, or the stock market might go up or down 10% or 15%—but for a basic shift. The thing that scares me most is significant inflation, which could destroy our society."

Guest Post: Too Big To Understand

One thing that has undergone hyperinflation in recent years is the length of financial regulations. Big, messy legislation leaves legal loopholes that clever and highly-paid lawyers and (non-) compliance officers can cut through. Bigger and more extensive regulation can make a system less well-regulated. We propose that this is what the big banks will use Dodd-Frank to accomplish. We predict that the regulatory hyperinflation will make the financial industry and the wider economy much more fragile.

Tim Knight from Slope of Hope's picture

Well, my fellow Slope-a-Dopes, although this will undoubtedly be a dreadful decidedly devastating disappointment to many of you, I have chosen to put away my almighty artistically asinine alliteration pen for this Sunday's super significant spectacularly special EP.  Instead of dazzling you with my proficient pathetically putrid pitiful prose, I will focus my alertly astute attention on a stupefyingly serious subject.

The Year 2012 In Perspective

As in any other Ponzi scheme, when the weakest link breaks, the chain breaks. The risk of such a break-up, applied to economics, is known as systemic risk or “correlation going to 1”. As the weakest link (i.e. the Euro zone) was coupled to the chain of the Fed, global systemic risk (or correlation) dropped. Apparently, those managing a correlation trade in IG9 (i.e. investment grade credit index series 9) for a well-known global bank did not understand this. But it would be misguided to conclude that the concept has now been understood, because there are too many analysts and fund managers who still interpret this coupling as a success at eliminating or decreasing tail risk. No such thing could be farther from the truth. What they call tail risk, namely the break-up of the Euro zone is not a “tail” risk. It is the logical consequence of the institutional structure of the European Monetary Union, which lacks fiscal union and a common balance sheet.... And to think that because corporations and banks in the Euro zone now have access to cheap US dollar funding, the recession will not bring defaults, will be a very costly mistake. Those potential defaults are not a tail risk either: If you tax a nation to death, destroy its capital markets, nourish its unemployment, condemn it to an expensive currency and give its corporations liquidity at stupidly low costs you can only expect one outcome: Defaults. The fact that they shall be addressed with even more US dollars coming from the Fed in no way justifies complacency.

Guest Post: Where To From Here?

We face one of the deepest crises in history. A prognosis for the economic future requires a deepening of the concepts of inflation and deflation. Inflation is a political phenomenon because monetary aggregates are not determined by market forces but are planned by central banks in agreement with governments. Inflation is a tax affecting all real incomes. Inflation is a precondition of extreme deflation: depression. Should in fact the overall debt collapse, there would be an extreme deflation or depression because the money aggregate would contract dramatically. In fact the money equivalent to the defaulted debt would literally vanish. It is for this reason that central banks monetize new debt at a lower interest rates, raising its value. All the financial bubbles and the mass of derivatives are just the consequence of debt monetization. How will this all end? In history, debt monetization has always produced hyperinflation. In Western countries, despite the exponential debt a runaway inflation has not yet occurred. Monetary policy has only inflated the financial sector, starving the private one, which is showing a bias towards a deflationary depression. Unfortunately governments and banks will go for more inflation. As history teaches, besides money the freedom of citizens can also be the victim.

Squatting On The Shoulders Of Midgets

Isaac Newton, the father of classical mechanics and progenitor of nearly every technology we use today, was easily one of the top 10 most influential minds in all of human history... Yet as accomplished as he was, Newton credited the brilliant scientists and philosophers who came before him, acknowledging that his insights would not have been remotely possible without the foundations laid by great thinkers– Archimedes, da Vinci, Descartes, etc. No doubt, all great ideas flourish by expanding upon the works of others. Unfortunately, so do terrible ones. And one of the worst ideas in history that continues to play out today is the grand experiment of fiat money. The idea is simple. Rather than allowing money to be scarce and have intrinsic value, our fiat system grants power to a tiny elite to conjure money out of thin air. Presumably, if the ones in control are smart, honest guys, then everything should be fine. Fiat was a total failure right from the beginning... and yet the economic engines deep below are steered by people who worship at the cult of bad ideas.