The fundamentalist retro-gang that has conquered Northern Iraq has decided it needs to go Taliban on cultural monuments it disapproves of. In short, the group is not only killing people that don't conform to its harsh version of Islam, it is also trying to erase all traces of their history and culture - "The demolition of structures erected above graves is a matter of great religious clarity." It is quite ironic that Saudi Arabia, allegedly one of the main financial backers of ISIS, is finally getting worried a bit in light of all these events. Luckily, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Not only do the Saudis believe that “ISIS will run out of steam” just before it gets to Mecca (see above), but more importantly, “the US State Department also issued a statement that it was “actively monitoring” the Iraqi situation” (apparently it neglected to “actively monitor” the Lebanese situation though). What could possibly go wrong?
Why aren't rising stock markets being greeted with wild celebrations? We think the study of socionomics may offer some clues.
First a big caveat: the following comes from CNN, the world's farce leader, so take it with a quarry of salt. That said, CNN's household access is pervasive and when it comes to setting the social mood based on a news report, be it completely fabricated or not, the news organization is second to none. Which may be precisely why it is CNN that is reporting that in Syria - a place just itching for the proverbial match to be struck on a mountain of geopolitical gunpowder involving all the key actors: from the US, to Russia, Europe, China, and of course Israel, said match may have just been lit. To wit: "Syrian state-run television reported Thursday that forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad killed three Westerners, including an American woman and a British national, who they claim were fighting with the rebels and were found with weapons and maps of government military facilities."
Our country has entered a period of Crisis. We may or may not successfully navigate our way through the visible icebergs and more dangerous icebergs just below the surface. The similarities between the course of our country and the maiden voyage of the Titanic are eerily allegorical...
The political class set in motion the eventual obliteration of our economic system with the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913. Placing the fate of the American people in the hands of a powerful cabal of unaccountable greedy wealthy elitist bankers was destined to lead to poverty for the many, riches for the connected crony capitalists, debasement of the currency, endless war, and ultimately the decline and fall of an empire. The 100 year downward spiral began gradually but has picked up steam in the last sixteen years, as the exponential growth model, built upon ever increasing levels of debt and an ever increasing supply of cheap oil, has proven to be unsustainable and unstable. Those in power are frantically using every tool at their disposal to convince Boobus Americanus they have everything under control and the system is operating normally. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We all know what's supposed to happen in the global economy: we get more of everything: more stuff manufactured, more coal dug up and burned, more "aggregate demand" i.e. insatiable desire for more of everything, more innovation, more wealth, more money printed, more debt taken on to buy more stuff and more education, more tourists occupying more beaches sipping more drinks, more strip malls built, more airports expanded, more jobs created, more taxes collected-- more "growth" of everything, in every way and every day. But what if this baseline scenario doesn't appear and the center cannot hold, and the Status Quo devolves - there will be less of everything, not more, and a gradual but steady erosion of all "growth" baselines: fewer jobs, lower wages, fewer taxes collected, less profits, fewer retail outlets. In this case, printing more money and spewing more reassuring propaganda will no longer tamp down the crisis. Rather, the failure of these Status Quo responses will unleash an even more destabilizing crisis.
When only a few dozen claim they understand how an economic system works we have crossed over from examining and describing a complex economic entity and into a religious cult based solely upon faith and belief.
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.
Over the weekend, we pointed out that the old mechanism for the People’s Bank of China to expand its balance sheet and create base money has been broken by new funds flow pattern, and it will sooner or later require some sort of large scale asset purchases programme a.k.a. quantitative easing to offset the impact of the broken mechanism (after other tools such as cutting RRR reach their limits). However, we also mentioned that as the private sector is currently quite overstretched and will start the deleveraging process (if they have not already started), and that would render traditional monetary tools useless, and quantitative easing ineffective. And that would necessitate deficit spending at both local and central government levels. If we have read the social mood correctly that China might be more pro-austerity than pro-Keynesian, and if policymakers indeed share that view, then the consequence in the near term could be rather grim. The delay in stimulus as well as the small size of it so far has already done damage, if you like. The economy is already on course to a hard landing.