On the surface, Canada's 1.2% inflation is negligible, and barely enough to keep up with the pace of overall growth as mandated by a few central bank academics. It is below the surface, however, that one finds the scary truth. Because when stripping away the sliding energy prices (which at the recent pace of short covering among oil speculators are about to surge) some scary numbers emerge, such as a 3.8% monthly jump in food prices, primarily as a result of a whopping 30-40% increase in select meat prices in the last 8 months. So how do ordinary people survive in an environment of soaring food prices?
What is the real story of energy and the economy? We hear two predominant energy stories. One is the story economists tell: The economy can grow forever; energy shortages will have no impact on the economy. We can simply substitute other forms of energy, or do without. Another version of the energy and the economy story is the view of many who believe in the “Peak Oil” theory. According to this view, oil supply can decrease with only a minor impact on the economy. The economy will continue along as before, except with higher prices. These higher prices encourage the production of alternatives, such wind and solar. At this point, it is not just peak oilers who endorse this view, but many others as well. In our view, the real story of energy and the economy is much less favorable than either of these views.
To maintain its hegemony, the U.S. must by all means prevent the emergence of rival powers and impede possible current as well as future threats that could emanate from oil states. The ideal condition for enforcing its own goals at a low cost would be the fragmentation of antagonistic power centers through ethnic and religious strife, civil wars, chaos and deep-seated mistrust in the Middle East – always following the well-known premise of ‘divide and rule.’ In fact, we are currently experiencing tremendous changes towards such a chaotic state of affairs.
The conventional class structure is divided along the lines of income, i.e. the wealthy, upper middle class, middle class, lower middle class and the poor. But this 3.5-class structure did not capture the changing nature of employment, income and wealth/political power; which more appropriately subdivides into America's socio-economic spectrum into nine classes. This is neofeudal, a term we use to describe a society and economy dominated by financialization and the apex of wealth and political power that wealth buys. The classes below this apex are either tax donkeys, Upper Caste technocrats serving the apex, or the lower classes that are bought off with social welfare and various modern iterations of bread and circuses.
Whether today’s most feted “intellectual leaders” and policy makers are correctly diagnosing problems or misdiagnosing them, their proposals are never anything but “viciously statist” to paraphrase Hans-Hermann Hoppe. They seemingly don’t realize that economic freedom is the sine qua non for personal freedom. One simply cannot have the latter without the former. None of them seem to believe that people can be trusted to be in charge of their own affairs. The debate over the “inequality problem” is an excellent case in point. It isn’t as if the knowledge required to understand the problem weren’t readily available. However, most of these people were educated in statist institutions, and have rarely been exposed to any non-statist ideological viewpoints. The possibilities offered by solutions that do not involve the State in every nook and cranny of the economy and our daily lives don’t even occur to them. And of course, the best social engineering plans are always their personal ones.
Mohamed El-Erian's comments this week caused a stir among the status quo-huggers, as they were clearly a valuation call on the financial markets suggesting that currently having capital invested was likely to yield substantially lower or negative return in the future. This is an extremely important concept in understanding the "real value of cash." Not unlike the rhetoric of the late 1990’s or mid-2000’s, there is no shortage of rationalizations for why such currently extraordinary valuations are reasonable and justifiable. The fact remains firmly in place, stocks are expensive. Of course, since Wall Street does not make fees on investors holding cash, maybe there is another reason they are so adamant that you remain invested all the time.
Centrally issued money centralizes wealth and generates systemic inequality. This is equally true of all centrally issued currencies. But the inequity that is intrinsic to this system is politically, socially and financially destabilizing, and so this system is unsustainable.
Corporate profits are back at the levels reached in 1990, 1999 and 2008 that presaged recessions and a sharp downturn in sales and employment.
Money doesn’t go “into” the stock market – it goes through it from a buyer to a seller. The resulting price changes are purely changes in the relative value that people place on these pieces of paper, and amount to changes the amount of “paper wealth” in the economy. These changes should emphatically be distinguished from the real wealth of the economy, and the underlying stream of cash flows that will be generated over time.
With the Fed supposedly steeling itself at last to remove a little of its emergency ‘accommodation’, it has suddenly become fashionable to warn of the awful parallels with 1937 as an excuse The Fed must not act today. We strongly refute the analogy. Instead, the real Ghost of ’37 takes the form of mean-spirited and, counter-productive 'pitchfork populism' politics and the spectre should not be conjured up to excuse the central bank from further delaying its overdue embarkation on the long road back to normality and policy minimalism.
When discussing the Iran "deal" which isn't a deal, but merely a " Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action", there are two key things one must keep in mind: the location of Iran's nuclear facilities and its oil infrastructure. Here is a quick take on both.
After a few days of dollar weakness due to concerns that the Fed's rate hike intentions have been derailed following some undisputedly ugly economic data (perhaps the Fed should just make it clear there will never be rate hikes during the winter ever again) the USD has resumed its rise, and as a result risk assets, after surging early in the overnight session driven by the Nikkei225 and the Emini, the "strong dollar is bad for risk" trade has re-emerged, with the Nikkei dropping almost 500 points off its intraday highs, with US equity futures poised to open lower once more, sliding nearly 20 points in the overnight session, and surprising the BTFDers who have not seen five consecutive days of "risk-off" in a long time.
“If you’re unhappy with what you’ve had over the last 50 years, you have an unfortunate misappraisal of life... should all be prepared for adjusting to a world that is harder..."
The global debt glut, plus the related money printing efforts by the world's central banks to try to stimulate further credit growth at all costs, leads us to conclude that a major currency crisis -- actually, multiple major currency crises -- are practically inevitable at this point. To understand better the anatomy of a currency collapse, Philip Haslam - author of the book When Money Destroys Nations, and an authority on monetary history, who more recently spent much time in Zimbabwe collecting dozens of accounts of the experiences real people had as the currency there failed - explains the six 'gorge' process to hyperinflation.
In the first part of this series we discussed Greece and its ongoing negotiations with the European Union – particularly with Germany – and how the complicated history between these two countries makes it exceedingly difficult for the Greek people to accept the terms on offer from the EU. This time we will turn our attention north, to a different kind of conflict. This one has also wrought economic devastation to a European country, but of a much higher intensity. It is the first civil war that the European continent has seen since the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, when the regional superpower of Yugoslavia was ultimately broken up amidst a series of separatist and independence movements. Today’s conflict will almost certainly result in a similar outcome for its host country. I’m talking, of course, about Ukraine. Let’s take a closer look.