Modern investing offers the promise that investors who "do their homework" and use data more intelligently than the herd can gain a valuable edge. But what if the underlying data available to the investing public is fundamentally flawed?
It's easy to expand the money supply and difficult to expand the actual production of real goods in the real world. Expanding the money supply and issuing debt that lacks collateral is just like printing quatloos on the desert island: you can print a million quatloos but that doesn't create a single additional coconut. If you print enough quatloos, then people will no longer accept them in exchange for coconuts. You will actually need a real coconut to exchange for fish. This is why Greek towns are reportedly reverting to barter, the exchange of real goods for other real goods. We can anticipate that silver and gold will soon enter the barter as means of exchange that can't be counterfeited or printed by wise-guys (central bankers).This is what happens when abstract representations, i.e. "money," vanish into thin air. Alternative systems of exchanging goods and services arise: actual goods are exchanged via barter, tangible concentrations of value that cannot be counterfeited such as gold and silver are used as a means of exchange, letters of credit or equivalent are traded and settled with tangible goods or gold/silver, and eventually, a means of exchange ("money") that is backed by tangible goods in the real world that can be trusted to actually represent the value being traded might enter the market. That which is phantom will vanish into thin air, while the real goods and services remain to be traded in the real world.
The thing about GDP, is that it doesn’t really measure wealth creation, or the size of the economy. It measures a derivative of that: money circulation. If Congress passed a law saying that everyone in America had to smoke meth (hey, if you can mandate the purchase of health insurance, why not mandate drug consumption in the name of increasing GDP?) and gamble all their disposable income on horse racing, GDP would almost certainly improve. And that’s growth, right? Except it isn’t. Real growth comes from innovation, productivity, imagination, and hard work. You can attempt to quantify it, but there is no easy catch-all number that will give you a quick and simple insight.
The White House announced it was getting into the commodities game in an effort to protect consumers from some of the geopolitical factors spilling over into the retail gasoline market. OPEC and the IEA both said in their monthly reports that market perceptions were behind higher energy prices, not physical shortages. High gasoline prices make for angry constituents. That means politicians, especially politicians fighting to keep their paychecks, start pointing their legislative guns at Wall Street almost as soon as the gavel strikes. Apart from the murky waters of economic nuance, however, President Obama said that, no matter what, American commuters need gasoline. Speculation aside, maybe that's the problem. Gasoline is a necessity and that's in part why the debate ensues. Without massive subsidies, gasoline is going to get more expensive no matter what the politicians say. And until commuters move beyond the carbon mindset, that ride to work will continue to be a rough one.
One scene from the movie Titanic depicts a lounge in one of the upper class quarters of the ship as it slowly sinks beneath the waves. Notwithstanding the vessel listing alarmingly, a motley band of toff revelers are determined to go out in the finest style. Some continue to play at cards with a fatalistic resolve while others determinedly quaff spirits direct from the bottle. Having considered for some time the most appropriate metaphor for the current market environment, we think this may be it: one may be doomed, but one can still party on. Having already hit the iceberg, one major problem we see is the common perspective for both investors and the asset management industry to view debt and equity as the entire universe of investor choices available. Having long exhausted the armory of conventional policies to keep the unsustainably indebted show on the road, increasingly desperate politicians are doing increasingly desperate things, be that gifting money to the IMF in a brazen display of fiscal denial that we can ill afford (US, UK) or simply stealing from other sovereigns (Argentina). The ironic triumph of the Keynesians means that, in trying to save the economy, our central bank may end up destroying it completely by means of the printing press; as a consequence, we now get to experience some of the full-on horror of the Japanese malaise.
I don't how the future will unfold, not just because I'm an idiot but because it's unknowable. Though we cannot know the future, we do know two very important things: 1) that which is unsustainable will implode, and 2) the present Status Quo is unsustainable. That ultimately leaves us with a single question: what are we going to do about it? In my view, it's not important that we agree on solutions--agreement would in fact be a catastrophe, for dissent and decentralization are the essential characteristics of any sustainable "solution." What is important is that we realize the future boils down to a simple choice: do we passively comply with the Status Quo feudalism or do we resist?.... That is the false choice provided by the Status Quo: do you want to buy/sell/drink sugar water or saccharine? There is another choice: do we want to passively self-destruct in servitude to the Status Quo or do we want to join those with a positive vision for the future? Every act is a choice, and the future is in our hands.
No wonder one third of Americans are obese. The crap we are shoveling into our bodies is on par with the misinformation, propaganda and lies that are being programmed into our minds by government bureaucrats, corrupt politicians, corporate media gurus, and central banker puppets. Chief Clinton propaganda mouthpiece, James Carville, famously remarked during the 1992 presidential campaign that, “It’s the economy, stupid”. Clinton was able to successfully convince the American voters that George Bush’s handling of the economy caused the 1991 recession. In retrospect, it was revealed the economy had been recovering for months prior to the election. No one could ever accuse the American people of being perceptive, realistic or critical thinking when it comes to economics, math, history or distinguishing between truth or lies. Our government controlled public school system has successfully dumbed down the populace to a level where they enjoy their slavery and prefer conscious ignorance to critical thought.
Hayek, while a brilliant mind, was not right on everything. He saw the welfare state is legitimate, a need for regulation into private industries such as education and food, and the necessity of the state in providing for individual and national defense. Yet even he was able to distinguish how political power attracts those who will use in the worst manner. The Secret Service agents who procured prostitutes may be relieved of their duty but it will only serve as a cautionary tale for the rest to keep their off-duty exploits better concealed in the future. The waste and graft will go on despite a pledge from Obama for a “rigorous” probe and his potential successor’s promise to “clean house.” These promises are just political theater used to conceal the playground like mentality which possesses the attitudes of all those who wield the guns of the state.
Throughout the postwar period, banks have almost always lent out all the way up to the reserve requirement. So, does the accumulation of excess reserves lead to inflation? Only so much as the frequentation of brothels leads to chlamydia and syphilis. Excess reserves are only non-inflationary so long as the banks — the people holding the reserves — play along with the Fed-Treasury game of monetising debt and trying to hide the inflation . The banks don’t have to lend these reserves out, just as having sex with hookers doesn’t have to lead to an infection. But eventually — so long as you do it enough — the condom will break. As soon as banks start to lend beyond the economy’s inherent productivity (which lest we forget is around the same level as ten years ago) there will be inflation.
So far, 2012 has been a banner year for the stock market, which recently closed the books on its best first quarter in 14 years. But Casey Research Chairman Doug Casey insists that time is running out on the ticking time bombs. Next week when Casey Research's spring summit gets underway, Casey will open the first general session addressing the question of whether the inevitable is now imminent. In another exclusive interview with The Gold Report, Casey tells us that he foresees extreme volatility "as the titanic forces of inflation and deflation fight with each other" and a forced shift to speculation to either protect or build wealth.
The Congressional Budget Office has just released three very telling infographics which, unintentionally, spell out a pretty dreary picture of US government finances. At the very bottom corner is a most disingenuous statement that says ”Net Interest not included.” In other words, they didn’t bother to include the $454,393,280,417.03 (nearly half a trillion dollars) that the US government spent on interest last year. To put this number in perspective, the US paid more in interest last year than the entire GDP of Saudi Arabia, or the combined GDPs of the smallest 82 economies in the world. Not exactly a trivial number… unless you’re Tim Geithner. A few days ago, Geithner quipped on NBC’s Meet the Press that there is ”no risk” of the US turning into Greece over the next few years due to such extraordinary fiscal imbalances. This is the same guy who said there was no risk of the US losing its AAA credit rating, and that inflation on a global level is “not high on the list of concerns…” Whether it’s lies, ignorance, or arrogance is irrelevant at this point. The situation is what it is. It’s not going to go away just because the political leadership denies it. Each one of us has a choice. We can either bury our heads in the sand, just like they’re doing… or embrace reality and take control of our own financial futures.
The U.S. stock market is getting a wedgie, and so is the U.S. dollar. That matters, as wedges tend to break up or down in a big way. Stocks are a "risk-on" trade, the dollar is a "risk-off" trade, so they are riding a see-saw with wedgies. Yes, I realize this is an unpleasant image, so let's turn to the charts.
The political left misunderstands the causes of income inequality —confused by the belief that government can somehow challenge the corporate and financial power it created in the first place — and thus proposes politically unrealistic (non-) solutions, particularly campaign finance reform, and raising taxes on the rich and corporations. Yes, the left are well-intentioned. Yes, they identify many of the right problems. But how can government effectively regulate or challenge the power of the financial sector, megabanks and large corporations, when government is almost invariably composed of the favourite sons of those organisations? How can anyone seriously expect a beneficiary of the oligopolies — whether it’s Obama, McCain, Romney, Bush, Gore, Kerry, or any of the establishment Washingtonian crowd — to not favour their donors, and their personal and familial interests? How can we not expect them to favour the system that they emerged through, and which favoured them? In reality, the system of corporatism that created the income inequality will inevitably degenerate of its own accord. The only question is when…
Milton Friedman was a proponent of so-called “floating” exchange rates between the various irredeemable paper currencies that he promoted as the proper monetary system. Many have noted that the currencies do not “float”; they sink at differing rates, sometimes one is sinking faster and then another. This article focuses on something else. Under gold, a nation or an individual cannot sustain a deficit forever. A deficit is when one consumes more than one produces. One has a negative cash flow, and eventually one runs out of money. The economy of a household or a national is therefore subject to discipline—sooner or later. Friedman asserted that floating exchange rates would impose the same kind of forces on a nation to balance its exports and imports. He claimed that if a nation ran a deficit, that this would cause its currency to fall in value relative to the other currencies. And this drop would tend to reverse the deficits as the country would find it expensive to import and buyers would find its goods cheap to import. Friedman was wrong.
Here are four charts of wages, income and consumption. The charts depict changes from a year ago (also called year-over-year) and the percentage of change from a year ago. These measure rates of change as opposed to absolute changes, and so they are useful in identifying trends... The build-out of Internet infrastructure that culminated in the dot-com boom boosted employment, wages and consumption, and the credit-housing bubble of the mid-2000s also boosted income and consumption. Now that these temporary conditions have faded, what's left is the relentless chewing up of traditional industries by the Web as distributed software boosts productivity while slashing the number of people required to create value. What's remarkable about the first chart is the increase in volatility in recent years: the changes in wages and salaries are increasingly dramatic. This might be reflecting the dynamics of the global economy pulling wages lower while massive financial-stimulus policies of the Central State and bank (the Federal government and the Federal Reserve) act to artificially boost wages with trillions of dollars in borrowed/printed money.