The essence of money-laundering is that fraudulent or illegally derived assets and income are recycled into legitimate enterprises. That is the entire Federal Reserve project in a nutshell. Dodgy mortgages, phantom claims and phantom assets, are recycled via Fed purchase and "retired" to its opaque balance sheet. In exchange, the Fed gives cash to the owners of the phantom assets, cash which is fundamentally a claim on the future earnings and productivity of American citizens. Some might argue that the global drug mafia are the largest money-launderers in the world, and this might be correct. But $1.1 trillion is seriously monumental laundering, and now the Fed will be laundering another $480 billion a year in perpetuity, until it has laundered the entire portfolio of phantom mortgages and claims. The rule of law is dead in the U.S. It "cost too much" to the financial sector that rules the State, the Central Bank and thus the nation. Once the Fed has laundered all the phantom assets into cash assets and driven wages down another notch, then the process of transforming a nation of owners into a nation of serfs can be completed.
Here's the Fed's policy in plain English: Debt-serfdom is good because it enriches the banks. All hail debt-serfdom, our goal and our god!
For nearly 30 years, two of the world's largest economic nations (China and the US) have continually debauched debased the purchasing power of their currency. For the last 12 years, the rest of the world joined in. So who is winning the race to debase now? It appears globalization was really all about currency debasement and exporting inflation (i.e. loss of FX value) with debt being the inflation buffer (i.e. borrow to afford or vendor-financing - see AMZN). The problem now is the entire world is saturated with debt and so there is no-one left to export inflation to anymore. We do indeed live in interesting times.
The Federal Reserve is probably not ready to take the aggressive plunge into Nominal GDP Targeting, but it likely will. But if you think these measures are desperate, we have only just begun to push energy and financial systems beyond their capability. The launch of QE3 (and similar measures by the European central bank (ECB) in Europe) is like the crack! of a starting-gun to human psychology that carries the following, urgent message: Hey, humans – go get those resources quickly, before someone else does! Indeed, the most powerful lever for monetary policy remains our capacity for social competition. The open-ended promise to pursue a faster rate of growth at the expense of inflation, mal-investment, bubbles, and the environment places a new and fast pressure on human economies to perform.
A gang of 16 shady individuals have been arrested by Iranian officials for allegedly smuggling currencies outside the banking network in order to increase the value of foreign currencies and to disturb the public. As CNN reports, amid the protests in the clip below, Iran says the 16 unidentified individuals "had used an atmosphere of psychological war created by the enemy" and colluded with "certain domestic and foreign groups" to exacerbate conditions. One of the accused, allegedly, had $300mm going through a bank account and "will be dealt with soon." Those arrested "were the main players in the recent fluctuations in the foreign currency market," the Tehran Judiciary said in a statement as the public panics over a 60% drop in its currency's purchasing power in the last few weeks. Of course, a 99% drop in the USD's purchasing power is acceptable to the US public since it has been achieved over a century or so...
If there is any demarcation with profound implications going forward, it isn't the line between the 1% and the 99% or the line dividing the Status Quo into two safely complicit ideological camps: it is the divide between those who squarely face the burden of knowing the present is unsustainable and those who flee into the comforts of denial. Those who accept the burden of knowing are part of the solution, those who cling to denial are part of the problem. Those who accept the burden of knowing do not necessarily have answers, but they are alert to alternatives and potential solutions. Those in denial can only hope that reality can be buried for a while longer.
The mainstream media is attempting once again to draw the public’s opinion towards issues that are ultimately fringe issues that impact a small percentage of us in order to ignore the large-scale major issues that affect all of us.
Since the U.S. and E.U. first enacted sanctions against Iran, in 2010, the value of the Iranian rial (IRR) has plummeted, imposing untold misery on the Iranian people. When a currency collapses, you can be certain that other economic metrics are moving in a negative direction, too. Indeed, using new data from Iran’s foreign-exchange black market, we estimate that Iran’s monthly inflation rate has reached 69.6%. With a monthly inflation rate this high (over 50%), Iran is undoubtedly experiencing hyperinflation. The rial’s death spiral is wiping out the currency’s purchasing power
For all the obvious reasons, China's ruling elites will do their best in the next few months to project an image of unity and self-confidence, and to convince the rest of the world that the next generation of leaders is capable of maintaining the party's political monopoly. That is, unfortunately, a tough sell. Confidence in the party's internal cohesion and leadership has already been shaken by the Bo affair, endemic corruption, stagnation of reform in the last decade, a slowing economy, deteriorating relations with neighbors and the United States, and growing social unrest. The questions on many people's minds these days are how long the party can hold on to its power and whether the party can manage a democratic transition to save itself. China is in a socioeconomic environment in which autocratic governance becomes increasingly illegitimate and untenable as its rapid economic development has thrust the country past what is commonly known as the 'democratic transition zone' where autocratic regimes face increasing odds of regime change as income rises.
Following closely on the heels of Spain's budget and banking audit debacle, France prepares to unveil its budget (taxing business, bankers, and beer). The positive spin will be deafening as politicians are already proclaiming 'realistic and ambitious' growth targets as getting the country 'back on the rails'. UnMondeLibre's Emmanuel Martin comments "How ironic? The French Presidential candidate who once campaigned with the slogan of 'growth vs. austerity' is now, as President, preparing to give the French the biggest taxation shock ever – a growth killer that is." What matters is the type of path to fiscal responsibility, and, unfortunately, Mr Hollande chose 'austerity with more taxes and no reform'. With France being a crucial player in the Euro-game, one wonders whether this might actually not mean the end of the Euro sooner.
If we look at what's skyrocketed in price (healthcare, college tuition), we find they are government funded and supported. This is not a coincidence. Inflation is generally viewed as a monetary phenomenon (print money excessively and you get inflation), but let's use a very simple definition: any loss of purchasing power. If your income buys fewer goods and services, for whatever mix of reasons (geopolitical, weather, monetary, fiscal, etc.), that's inflation "on the ground." Government spending and intervention fuel inflation, and the Federal Reserve enables that spending and inflation by monetizing Federal deficits. Eventually, declining wages lead to demand destruction, as households consume fewer goods and services. But inflation that is being driven by government spending will not decrease, as the demand is being supported by a borrow-and-spend Central State supported by a monetize-Federal-debt-til-Doomsday Federal Reserve.
Ray Dalio recently described the characteristics of a “beautiful deleveraging” in which equal doses of austerity, write-downs, and inflation gradually lighten the load of impaired debt. Two things can turn beautiful inflation into ugly inflation: Wages don’t inflate along with prices and the currency depreciates as money is printed excessively. This might not matter for a nation that is a net exporter of goods and services. But for nations that import essentials such as oil and grain, this is a catastrophe, as wages are flat while the cost of imported energy and food skyrocket. Households have less money to spend, and servicing debt becomes increasingly burdensome. Welcome to the United States of Ugly Inflation. Real household income (i.e., adjusted for official inflation) has declined 8% since 2007; the cost of oil, medical care and higher education has climbed; and government revenues have stagnated even as demand for government services has increased. As a result, the entire beautiful deleveraging scenario is at risk.
Today's quote of the day award goes to...
- AHMADINEJAD SAYS SITUATION IN IRAN `NOT SO DIRE'
- AHMADINEJAD SAYS IRAN ECONOMY `CERTAINLY BETTER' THAN U.S., EU
The irony of course is that absent the trillions in fiat created out of thin air by the "developed world's" central banks, and the destruction of the purchasing power of their populations, he would be absolutely right. The bigger irony is that the Iran is by far winning the global race to debase, with its currency hitting a new record low of 26,500 vs the USD just yesterday, and has lost more than half of its value in the past year. Needless to say, Iran's epic ability to destroy its currency with such utter disdain is making central bankers around the world green with envy.
There has been a lot of ink spilled about how the stock market performs during Presidential election years generally leaning to why investors should be fully invested to the hilt. The current election year, with just three months remaining, has certainly played out to historical norms with the markets advancing on expectations of continued government interventions even as economic and fundamentals deteriorate. To wit Bespoke Investment Group wrote back in July: "We have highlighted the similarities between this year and prior Presidential Election years numerous times. Most recently, in early July we noted the fact that based on the historical pattern, the S&P 500 could see a modest pullback in mid-July coinciding with the kick-off of earnings season. Sure enough, the market saw some choppiness about a week and a half ago and subsequently rebounded in the middle of last week. Holding to the historical pattern, that rebound came right at the same time that the market historically sees its summer low. If the pattern continues, the S&P 500 could be set up for a nice rally to end the Summer. Will it hold? Only time will tell, but if the historical pattern has worked so far, what's to stop it from continuing?"
It's becoming clear that there is only one sensible solution ahead of us as the Eurozone’s problems evolve: Germany and the other countries suited to a strong currency should leave. If they do, the European Central Bank (ECB) will be free to pursue the easy money policies recommended by Keynesians and monetarists alike. It's increasingly clear that Germany has no option but to behave like any creditor seeking to protect its interests – and do its best to defuse the growing resentment against her from the Eurozone’s debtors. If Germany is to abandon the euro, it has to do so as quickly and elegantly as possible. It must be able to demonstrate that it has no alternative and that it is the best solution for all parties involved. Germany’s politicians know this. For the moment they are frozen in a state of inaction, but there is a general election to concentrate their minds in about a year’s time - and Germany’s electorate is becoming acutely aware of the enormity of the task. It has become obvious to many people from all walks of life in Germany that the euro has done them no good, and, far from reaping benefits, they are actually less wealthy as a result of it.
Never try to teach a pig to sing, advised Robert Heinlein. It wastes your time and it annoys the pig. Similarly, never try to convince a central banker that his policies are destructive. After five years of enduring crisis, market prices are no longer determined by the considered assessment of independent investors acting rationally (if indeed they ever were), but simply by expectations of further monetary stimulus. So far, those expectations have not been disappointed. The Fed, the ECB and lately even the BoJ have gone “all- in” in their fight to ensure that after a grotesque explosion in credit, insolvent governments and private sector banks will be defended to the very last taxpayer. Conventional wisdom is that such moves are justified during this period of economic slowdown, as everyone agrees that the market is ’deleveraging’. But as the consistently excellent Doug Noland points out, this idea of deleveraging (i.e. reduction of available credit) in the US is a myth.