Ludwig von Mises
We are observing the emergence of a new phase in The Golden Age of the Central Banker – the cult phase – to use the sociological lingo. Joseph Heller’s brilliant book provides the starting point, not only by calling attention to the prevalence and power of Catch-22’s in the investment world today, but also in the creation of a self-regulated, faith-based system of social behavior. A Catch-22 world is not a happy world, but it is a very stable world, at least on its own terms. Change is very unlikely to come from within, and internal market risk indicators are all quite benign. But external market risk indicators are all screaming red, as the global environment has rarely been this worrisome for political shocks, trade/forex shocks, and supply shocks with the scope and power to challenge the Central Banking gods.
The surreal nature of this world as we enter 2015 feels like being trapped in a Fellini movie. The .1% party like it’s 1999, central bankers not only don’t take away the punch bowl – they spike it with 200% grain alcohol, the purveyors of propaganda in the mainstream media encourage the party to reach Caligula orgy levels, the captured political class and their government apparatchiks propagate manipulated and massaged economic data to convince the masses their standard of living isn’t really deteriorating, and the entire façade is supposedly validated by all-time highs in the stock market. It’s nothing but mass delusion perpetuated by the issuance of prodigious amounts of debt by central bankers around the globe. But now, the year of consequences may have finally arrived.
As a new year begins, it is easy to consider that the prospects for freedom in America and in many other parts of the world to seem dim. After all, government continues to grow bigger and more intrusive, along with tax burdens that siphon off vast amounts of private wealth. Extrapolating these trends out for the foreseeable future, it would seem that the chances for winning liberty are highly unlikely. There is only one problem with this pessimistic forecast: the future is unpredictable and apparent trends do change.
The fate of countries like Japan is really in the hands of central bankers. However, central planners are not able to manipulate markets infinitely. At a certain point, something has to give. That is when the markets will give up and disbelief will replace trust. In such a bust scenario, people flee down the Golden Pyramid of asset classes to their safe haven, being gold.
As Charles Dickens himself admits, Ebenezer Scrooge is a thoroughly peaceful man, guilty of no true crime, who has robbed no one. Therefore, we must conclude that his wealth is a sign of his ability to please at least some people, and as Michael Levin notes: “Dickens doesn't mention Scrooge's satisfied customers, but there must have been plenty of them for Scrooge to have gotten so rich.” As a miser and businessman, Scrooge provides numerous valuable services to the community including, as Walter Block has shown, driving down prices and making liquidity available to those who, unlike the wrongly maligned misers, have been either unwilling or unable to save in comparable amounts. His business prowess notwithstanding, however, a closer look at Scrooge’s economics suggests some significant blind spots in several areas. Scrooge, as displayed in many of his comments and observations, misunderstands some key economics concepts.
Despite the authorities' best efforts to keep everything orderly, we know how this global Game of Geopolitical Tetris ends: "Players lose a typical game of Tetris when they can no longer keep up with the increasing speed, and the Tetriminos stack up to the top of the playing field. This is commonly referred to as topping out."
"I’m tired of being outraged!"
A specter is haunting the world, the specter of two percent inflationism. Whether pronounced by the U.S. Federal Reserve or the European Central Bank, or from the Bank of Japan, many monetary central planners have declared their determination to impose a certain minimum of rising prices on their societies and economies. One of the oldest of economic fallacies continues to dominate and guide the thinking of monetary policy makers: that printing money is the magic elixir for the creating of sustainable prosperity. Once the inflationary monetary expansion ends or is slowed down, it is discovered that the artificially created supply and demand patterns and relative price and wage structure are inconsistent with non-inflationary market conditions. Governments and their monetary central planners, therefore, are the cause and not the solution to the instabilities and hardships of inflations and recessions.
Nobel Prize Winning Economists, Federal Reserve Chair and Other Top Experts: War Is BAD for the Economy
"When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing; when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors; when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you; when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice; you may know that your society is doomed." – Ayn Rand; Atlas Shrugged, 1957
The “unintended consequences” of the negative interest rate policy will vastly outweigh the perceived advantages of any short term boost to economic activity they may provoke. Given that the failure of these interventions is already absolutely certain, we must be prepared for even more interventions to “fix” the failures produced by the previous ones. Many modern-day intellectuals appear quite keen on abolishing the market economy and replacing it with some form of command economy (just as long as their personal plans are implemented of course). They should be careful what they wish for.
"We are living in an aberrational world. It’s all driven by an orgy of money printing...it sure feels to me that we’re nearing the day that it spins out of control. By the end of this year or by the start of next year, without QE, the market is going down."
"To maintain your sanity, you need to turn off the hype machines of some of the financial media like CNBC."
The financial, economic and political system has been captured by corporate fascist psychopaths. The Federal Reserve has aided and abetted this takeover. Their monetary manipulations have resulted in this deformity. The American middle class has been murdered. Decades of declining real wages have left them virtually penniless, in debt up to their eyeballs, angry, frustrated, and unable to jump start our moribund economy by buying more Chinese produced crap. Yellen, her Wall Street puppeteers, and the corporate titans should enjoy those record profits and record stock market highs. The artificial boom will lead to a real depression. Luckily for the oligarchs, most middle class Americans are already experiencing a depression and won’t notice the difference.
The term “anarcho-capitalism” has, we might say, rather an arresting quality. But while the term itself may jolt the newcomer, the ideas it embodies are compelling and attractive: (1) each human being, to use John Locke’s formulation, “has a property in his own person”; (2) there ought to be a single moral code binding all people, whether they are employed by the State or not; and (3) society can run itself without central direction.
Because the masses in a democratic polity are deeply imbued with the ideology of egalitarianism and the myth of majority rule, the ruling elites who control and benefit from the state recognize the utmost importance of concealing its oligarchic and exploitative nature from the masses. Continual war making against foreign enemies is a perfect way to disguise the naked clash of interests between the taxpaying and tax-consuming classes.
This misdirection of capital, labor and raw materials away from that allocation and use consistent with people’s actual decisions to consume and to save, means that every monetary-induced inflationary boom carries within it the seeds of an eventual and inescapable economic downturn.