Central banks are the devil. They are like drug dealers except they administer regular doses of supposedly legally prescribed barbiturates to their addicts. The 'easy money' or 'credit' they create is an opiate and like all addictions there is a payback for the addicts, one exacted only in loss of health, misery and death.
The economic system is an addict, but that system is comprised of banks, corporations, non-profit organisations, small businesses all of which are communities. And what comprises communities, us, human beings - individuals. We are the addicts.
Popular economic academia understates human action in the economic equation of money. It is human preferences that determine our desire for goods and services and so in turn really determines the utility of money. Sadly the desire of the State to control money and administer it like a drug has left our economies unproductive and incapable of standing on their own two feet.
Our reliance on 'easy money' as facilitated by credit has become terminal. Like drug users we continue to attempt to find a heightened state of Nirvana. We continue to hark for the utopian days prior to the eruption of the post 2008 crisis, even though our well-being was fallacious and based on an illusion of wealth paid for by credit - a creditopia. The abuse of credit is what defined the Great Financial crisis and one that still defines our economic system and one which will define a much worse crisis to come.
Central bankers have begun a concerted effort to fight the global debt problem which has been stifling growth as tax revenues merely serve to finance debt servicing rather than addressing the repayment of principal outstanding. Omnipotent governors, Bernanke, Carney, Draghi, Svensson and Iwata or Kuroda (either are likely to replace Shirakawa) are to take a far more aggressive and activist role in pursuing a new framework for growth and inflation by seeking an alternative way to conduct monetary policy. It's called Nominal GDP Level targeting and it is in our opinion as significant a moment as Volcker's appointment to the Federal Reserve governorship in 1978.
Many will recall Volcker's moment was to engineer a swift monetary contraction and deceleration of the money velocity to try and reign in excessively high inflation and stabilise growth. It worked. Today we are witnessing an ‘Inverse Volcker’ moment, whereby the opposite is likely true.
The question remains are they all still ‘inflation nutters' as Mervyn King, the BoE Governor glibly referred to those central bankers who focussed solely on inflation targets to the potential detriment of stable growth, employment and exchange rates.
Are central bankers merely expanding the boundaries of monetary largesse by focusing on a broader mandate and merely evolving the singular variable approach of inflation targeting or have they finally found a solution to eradicating boom bust business cycles? This is a question we need to answer as we are currently witnessing a Central Bank Revolution which could portend severe consequences for prices in our economies - and all the attendant misery that comes with very high inflation.
Nominal GDP Level targeting advocates believe they have a plausible case for a change of mandate by central banks and one which is being gradually adopted, but we believe that like central banks they have misdiagnosed the cause of the crisis by failing to examine the impact of credit creation in our global economy.
Money matters less credit matters more.
Global economies are still credit driven and Keynesian counterfeiting has merely arrested the collapse. The maintenance of heightened credit levels by financing of deficits with 'easy' money is beginning to see prices and output rise in the short term. In the long run only higher prices will remain whilst growth stagnates. A classic monetarist conclusion.
Hinde Capital has provided a long and consistent discourse on the relationship between credit and growth. Policymakers by now may well grasp that sustainable growth is not possible as nations still have an overreliance on credit-based sectors, namely the F.I.R.E. sectors, (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate). This is an understatement as all sectors are now directly or indirectly underpinned by this false mammon called credit.
Once upon a time merely altering the levels of money in the economic system could help an economy expand and contract without creating excessive levels of inflation both in asset, goods and service prices. However as this fiat currency regime has grown older so has the ability of central bank policy to contain large swings in the business cycle.
It is our contention that central banks feel they need to maintain the balance of credit in the system as it currently stands by adjusting the money supply and monetary velocity (MV) but by doing so they merely circumvent the necessary adjustment in the economic system that comes about by market failure. If they don't allow this failure then any attempt to influence MV will only lead to higher prices (P) at the expense of output (T) in the famous monetary equation MV=PT.
Central Bank's Checklist Manifesto
At Hinde Capital we have attempted to codify both our objective and subjective observations of asset classes over the years and have naturally migrated to a checklist routine to eliminate any behavioural biases that lead to a misdiagnosis of events before an investment decision.
Renminbi becomes popular as more offshore centers take shape
INTERNATIONALIZATION OF RENMINBI - OFFSHORE CENTERS
The Chinese mainland is turning to more partners around the world to launch the next phase of yuan internationalization, with each partner selected to play a role. After Hong Kong was given an eight-year head start as an offshore business center for the yuan, recent developments in the use of the currency in Singapore, Taiwan and London have been "very encouraging", said Peng Xingyun, a researcher and financial specialist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. These developments may indicate a rising recognition of the currency worldwide, he said.
Taiwan (Feb 6th Interbank Operations throught Bank of China, Taipei Branch)
London ( Britain announced the launch of an offshore yuan currency and bond market in April) - > 4th offshore Hub
South Korea has recently allowed its commercial banks to tap into the yuan swap arrangement, and
Japan was able to conduct yuan trading in June.
The Bank of England said last month it is prepared in principle to become the first G7 central bank to enter into a foreign exchange swap agreement with China. Under a swap agreement, central banks agree to exchange each other's currency and can then lend the money out to domestic banks in cases of emergency. Swap agreements were previously confined to developing countries or economies with close bilateral trade connections.
They also reflect Chinese monetary authorities' accelerating pace of
Expanding offshore renminbi hubs, while moving toward the
Currency's convertibility for the capital account and
Forging ahead with domestic financial reform,
Nathan Chow, an economist at DBS Bank Ltd, said, "Market confidence in accepting renminbi for trade settlement will increase. In turn, this will encourage more participation from corporations and banks, potentially increasing the range of renminbi investment products."
Chow said Singapore will serve as a gateway to Southeast Asia, while Taiwan is expected to become a local hub for yuan settlement and trading.
Hong Kong's dominant role will remain, and the emergence of new offshore centers will expand the existing regime instead of creating competing systems, he said.
The People's Bank of China, the central bank, approved the Singapore branch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China on Feb 8 as the clearing bank in Singapore, which indicates the city state will become the third offshore yuan center after Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said the appointment marks a "milestone" and enables Singapore's financial center to play a useful role in facilitating greater use of the yuan.
The announcement came two days after Taiwan's banks started accepting deposits and conducting interbank trading in yuan. The People's Bank of China announced earlier that the Bank of China's Taipei branch will serve as the yuan-clearing bank on the island.
The yuan will quickly become a trade invoicing currency in Asia as the three offshore yuan centers are all in industrialized economies, the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group said in a research note. It added that South Korea has recently allowed its commercial banks to tap into the yuan swap arrangement, and Japan was able to conduct yuan trading in June.
Enthusiasm for boosting the use of the yuan has also spread outside of Asia.
The Bank of England said last month it is prepared in principle to become the first G7 central bank to enter into a foreign exchange swap agreement with China.
Under a swap agreement, central banks agree to exchange each other's currency and can then lend the money out to domestic banks in cases of emergency.
Peng said the move is a major breakthrough as swap agreements were previously confined to developing countries or economies with close bilateral trade connections.
"Now it's extended to a major world financial center of foreign exchange trade, and that means a lot," Peng said.
Britain announced the launch of an offshore yuan currency and bond market in April. The City of London's governing body said it is keen to speed up the city's push to become an offshore center for the yuan.
"(We are) working hard to increase awareness of and confidence in the use of renminbi products and services in London," said Mark Boleat, policy chairman of the City of London Corporation.
"Recent London figures showed particularly strong growth of spot renminbi forex (foreign exchange), which is evidence of the growing liquidity of the offshore yuan market (and) the increasing confidence of investors to trade in it," he said.
In the first half of 2012, the use of the yuan for trade transactions settled in London increased by 390 percent year-on-year to 2.2 billion yuan ($350 million).
By establishing a clearing bank, Singapore and Taiwan are able to independently accommodate yuan flows to and from the Chinese mainland.
This gives investors in Singapore and Taiwan access to many investment opportunities on the mainland unavailable to investors in other places, as the yuan is not freely convertible.
In comparison, offshore yuan accumulated in London can only flow into the Chinese mainland via Hong Kong's clearing bank, the Bank of China's Hong Kong branch.
But Boleat said he does not see an urgent need for London to have a clearing bank as the Hong Kong arrangements serve London's needs.
He added that maintaining a single pool of offshore yuan is important to the development of a liquid, global offshore market. "We hope that developments in other centers will not see segregated pools of renminbi being developed."
Zhu Yinan, a senior associate at the international law firm Clifford Chance, said a new yuan payment system being developed by the People's Bank of China that might be introduced in two years means London may not need its own clearing system at all, because the new arrangement may lead to 24-hour trading of the yuan with direct links between global banks and the central bank.
The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group estimated that yuan deposits may reach 100 billion yuan in Taiwan, 250 billion yuan in Singapore and 700 billion yuan in Hong Kong by the end of the year.
Yuan deposits in Hong Kong rose 5.6 percent in December to 603 billion yuan, an 18-fold jump from five years ago, while Taiwan banks held 1.3 billion yuan of deposits on Feb 6, when clearing of the currency started. As of June, the pool of yuan deposits in Singapore reached 60 billion yuan.
Sir Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, is on the brink of striking a deal with the People's Bank of China which would cement the UK's role as the leading G7 trade hub for the world's fastest growing currency.
A UK-China deal would be the latest in a string of bilateral currency agreements that has seen cross-border trading of the yuan expand four-fold since August 2010, and the first with a major developed economy
The Bank of England expects to sign a final agreement to set up a three-year yuan-sterling swap line "shortly", during a meeting between Sir Mervyn and his counterpart Zhou Xiaochuan in Beijing.
European and US officials have been pressing China for years to do more to open up the yuan to market forces, saying its artificial weakness was one of the key imbalances of the global economy.
Beijing is slowly delivering, although it still keeps a tight rein on gains for the currency for fear it will weaken its export-powerhouse economy, which has been the biggest engine of global growth for a decade.
This would be the latest in a string of bilateral currency agreements that has seen cross-border trading of the yuan expand four-fold since August 2010, and the first with a major developed economy.
Britain's central bank has been eyeing such a deal for some time, saying last month it was ready "in principle" to adopt a currency swap line with its Chinese counterpart as the yuan starts to emerge as a world reserve currency.
The Bank of England expects to sign a final agreement to set up a three-year yuan-sterling swap line "shortly", during a meeting between Sir Mervyn and his counterpart Zhou Xiaochuan in Beijing.
It said the arrangement would be used to finance trade and direct investment between the two countries and to support domestic financial stability if needed.
"In the unlikely event that a generalised shortage of offshore renminbi liquidity emerges, the Bank of England will have the capability to provide renminbi liquidity to eligible institutions in the UK," said Sir Mervyn, using an alternative name for the Chinese currency.
Britain, anxious to bolster London's status as Europe's biggest financial centre, launched an offshore yuan currency and bond market to great fanfare last year
The just concluded G20 meeting issued a joint communiqué regarding the worries about global currency war and expressed the intention to "resolutely resist the competitive devaluations and oppose all forms of protectionism".
Japan's implementation of monetary easing policy and accelerated yen depreciation are accomplished facts, and
The United States' quantitative easing policy further exacerbated in the Obama second term.
It is worth noting that apart from the boycott statement solemnly vowed, the G20 meeting did not publicly accuse Japan and the United States' issuance of excessive currency. The impact of Japan and the United States' continuous implementation of loose monetary policies include at least two major potential disasters.
First is the disaster of bankruptcy. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy's economic adviser Jacques Attali said in his book "State Bankruptcy": "The Chinese people have monthly income of less than 1,000 Euros but are using the hard earned money through pinching and scraping to support the Americans who have 10 times their income." The latest data released by the U.S. Treasury Department show that China's holdings of U.S. debt topped 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars and is still the largest creditor of the United States. Faced with slowing domestic economy, the United States, Japan, and Europe have been relying in long term on "quantitative easing" policies to stimulate the economy. They operate at full capacity to print massive currency and issue a large number of treasury bonds to attract China and other developing countries to purchase. These are to promote economic recovery in the United States, but the debts lent by the creditors to the United States continuously shrink and evaporate as the dollar depreciates.
Second is the disaster of inflation. Improving the export competitiveness of their goods by depreciation of their currencies and depending on exports to get rid of the domestic economic downturn are just the wishful thinking of Japan and other countries. Although the G20 joint statement presented "We will not reduce our exchange rates in order to improve competitiveness of domestic goods in the international markets", no one is a fool in international competition. Once the U.S. dollar, yen, and euro depreciate, various countries will competitively depreciate their currencies and be forced to involve in the currency way. Central Bank of India relaxed monetary policy for the first time in nine months and announced to cut interest rates, while other developing countries fell into a tangle. However, the currencies of developing countries have lower degree of internationalization and mainly circulate domestically. The over-issued currencies cannot be digested and are bound to exacerbate asset bubbles and inflation. The over-issued currency by the developed countries can enter the developing countries through various evolved forms under our noses, but the currency printed by China can only be digested by the Chinese people. The yuan will have constantly increased appreciation against the U.S. dollars but continued to decline in purchasing power at home.
In a nutshell, the frenzied banknote printing of Japan and the United States is but to guide the source of trouble to others.
Therefore, the "resolute resistance against competitive devaluations" will have only no effect if only remained as idle theorization.
MOST CRITICAL TIPPING POINT ARTICLES TODAY
MOST CRITICAL TIPPING POINT ARTICLES THIS WEEK - Feb. 17th - Feb. 23rd, 2013
Since institutional memories are short, it is time to remind readers that it was the threat, and subsequent reality, of China overheating in the spring and summer of 2011 (when record high food prices sent the entire North African region in a state of coordinated revolt and gradually moved far east), when even the Great firewall of China could not block news of frequent break outs of localized violence from hungry and angry mobs, that halted and broke the spine of the great reflation trade then (and yes, 2013 has so far been a carbon copy replica of 2011 as we summarized in "It's Deja Vu, All Over Again: This Time Is... Completely The Same").
Furthermore, as only Zero Hedge forecast back in mid-2012, when ever other commentator was shouting over the rooftops that an RRR or interest rate cut out of Beijing was imminent, the PBOC would be the last to stimulate the market with monetary easing as it was well-aware that an entire developed world reflating at the same time would hit none other than China the fastest as the hot money flew straight into Shanghai. Just as it did in 2011. So instead China proceeded to engage in a series of daily reverse repos, or ultra-short term liquidity injections that prevented the advent of wholesale inflation: after all the Fed, the BOJ, the ECB and soon, the BOE, were doing it for them. And the last thing the country with the highest allotment of CPI, or book inflation, to food and energy can afford, is to let foreign central banks dictate its price level. After all, it has more than enough of its own.
Well, the Chinese New Year celebration is now over, the Year of the Snake is here, and those following the Shanghai Composite have lots to hiss about, as two out of two trading days have printed in the red. But a far bigger concern to not only those long the SHCOMP, but the "Great Reflation Trade - ver. 2013", is that just as two years ago, China appears set to pull out first, as once again inflation rears its ugly head. And where the PBOC goes, everyone else grudgingly has to follow: after all without China there is no marginal growth driver to the world economy.
End result: China's reverse repos, or liquidity providing operations, have ended after month of daily injections, and the first outright repo, or liquidity draining operation, just took place after eight months of dormancy.
Chinese authorities took a step to ease potential inflationary pressures Tuesday by using a key mechanism for the first time in eight months.
The move by the central bank to withdraw cash from the banking system is a reversal after months of pumping cash in. That cash flood was meant to reduce borrowing costs for businesses as the economy slowed last year—but recent data has shown growth picking up, along with the main determinants of inflation: housing and food prices.
The People's Bank of China used a liquidity-draining tool in the interbank market that enables the central bank to borrow money from commercial lenders. It withdrew 30 billion yuan ($4.81 billion) by offering 28-day repurchase agreements, alternatively known as repos. The PBOC hadn't offered repos since June.
"The central bank is trying to send a message that it will not tolerate too-easy liquidity conditions," Dariusz Kowalczyk, a senior economist at Crédit Agricole, ACA.FR +0.22% wrote in a research note.
The central bank had pumped a record amount of cash into the interbank market ahead of the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday, which ended Friday. The break typically spurs increased spending for gifts and travel, and shuts down financial markets.
Also pumping cash into the system have been overseas investors, as the economy picks up steam and expectations of yuan appreciation grow. The central bank and financial institutions bought a net 134.6 billion yuan of foreign currency in December, almost double the 73.6 billion yuan in November, according to Wall Street Journal calculations based on official data.
"The PBOC's move Tuesday was also likely triggered by an increase in capital flows into China and worries about inflation," said Yang Weixiao, a senior fixed-income analyst at Lianxun Securities.
The next question is how soon until the PBOC makes a courtesy call to the Fed, the ECB, and all other central banks, and politely requests that they shut it all down. Because while there may be slack elsewhere, China will no longer absorb the same systemic excess liquidity that has pushed gas prices to the highest level on this day in history, at the fastest pace in years.
Finally, for those wondering just what signal gold was waiting for to surge in the same parabolic fashion as it did in 2011, the answer is: this. Because unless the PBOC can get inflation under control, and this time it means getting one more central bank to cooperate with the BOJ now acting on behalf of Goldman's open-ended easing paradigm, the locals will hardly be preserving their purchasing power by warehousing pork and rice...
For those seeking a summary, here is the global endgame in fourteen points:
1. In the initial "boost phase" of credit expansion, credit-based capital ( i.e. debt-money) pours into expanding production and increasing productivity: new production facilities are built, new machine and software tools are purchased, etc. These investments greatly boost production of goods and services and are thus initially highly profitable.
2. As credit continues to expand, competitors can easily borrow the capital needed to push into every profitable sector. Expanding production leads to overcapacity, falling profit margins and stagnant wages across the entire economy.
Resources (oil, copper, etc.) may command higher prices, raising the input costs of production and the price the consumer pays. These higher prices are negative in that they reduce disposable income while creating no added value.
3. As investing in material production yields diminishing returns, capital flows into financial speculation, i.e. financialization, which generates profits from rapidly expanding credit and leverage that is backed by either phantom collateral or claims against risky counterparties or future productivity.
In other words, financialization is untethered from the real economy of producing goods and services.
4. Initially, financialization generates enormous profits as credit and leverage are extended first to the creditworthy borrowers and then to marginal borrowers.
5. The rapid expansion of credit and leverage far outpace the expansion of productive assets. Fast-expanding debt-money (i.e. borrowed money) must chase a limited pool of productive assets/income streams, inflating asset bubbles.
6. These asset bubbles create phantom collateral which is then leveraged into even greater credit expansion. The housing bubble and home-equity extraction are prime examples of theis dynamic.
7. The speculative credit-based bubble implodes, revealing the collateral as phantom and removing the foundation of future borrowing. Borrowers' assets vanish but their debt remains to be paid.
8. Since financialization extended credit to marginal borrowers (households, enterprises, governments), much of the outstanding debt is impaired: it cannot and will not be paid back. That leaves the lenders and their enabling Central Banks/States three choices:
A. The debt must be paid with vastly depreciated currency to preserve the appearance that it has been paid back.
B. The debt must be refinanced to preserve the illusion that it can and will be paid back at some later date.
C. The debt must be renounced, written down or written off and any remaining collateral liquidated.
9. Since wages have long been stagnant and the bubble-era debt must still be serviced, there is little non-speculative surplus income to drive more consumption.
10. In a desperate attempt to rekindle another cycle of credit/collateral expansion, Central Banks lower the yield on cash capital (savings) to near-zero and unleash wave after wave of essentially "free money" credit into the banking sector.
11. Since wages remain stagnant and creditworthy borrowers are scarce, banks have few places to make safe loans. The lower-risk strategy is to use the central bank funds to speculate in "risk-on" assets such as stocks, corporate bonds and real estate.
12. In a low-growth economy burdened with overcapacity in virtually every sector, all this debt-money is once again chasing a limited pool of productive assets/income streams.
13. This drives returns to near-zero while at the same time increasing the risk that the resulting asset bubbles will once again implode.
14. As a result, total credit owed remain high even as wages remain stagnant, along with the rest of the real economy. Credit growth falls, along with the velocity of money, as the central bank-issued credit (and the gains from the latest central-bank inflated asset bubbles) pools up in investment banks, hedge funds and corporations.
The net result: an over-indebted, overcapacity economy cannot generate real expansion. It can only generate speculative asset bubbles that will implode, destroying the latest round of phantom collateral.
That is the endgame in three charts. Checkmate, game over.
US ECONOMIC REPORTS & ANALYSIS
CENTRAL BANKING MONETARY POLICIES, ACTIONS & ACTIVITIES
FED JANUARY MEETING MINUTES - Members Attempting to Throw a Curve Ball To Diffuse Marekt Euphoria
Fed Signals Possible Slowing of QE Amid Debate Over Policy risks 02-21-13 Bloomberg Brief
The Federal reserve signaled it may consider slowing the pace of asset purchases as officials extended a debate over whether record monetary easing risks unleashing inflation or fueling asset price bubbles.
Several participants at the Federal open market Committee’s Jan. 29-30 meeting “emphasized that the committee should be prepared to vary the pace of asset purchases, either in response to changes in the economic outlook or as its evaluation of the efficacy and costs of such purchases evolved,” according to the minutes of the gathering released yesterday.
Policy makers in December started debating when to halt bond buying that has pushed the Fed’s assets to more than $3 trillion, prompting warnings by some officials that the program will complicate an eventual withdrawal of stimulus.
With inflation below their long-term goal of 2 percent, policy makers are forging ahead with record accommodation to stoke an economy that shrank 0.1 percent last quarter. The Fed has pushed the benchmark interest rate close to zero and expanded its balance sheet to more than $3 trillion.
MONETARY POLICY - A Conundrum for the World's Central Bankers
A simple observation last week by the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee speaks volumes to the historic evolution of modern central banking – a process that is consequential, unprecedented and inadequately covered in traditional “money and banking” texts.
In its February 7 statement, the MPC stated that, due to a sluggish UK economy facing fiscal contraction, it is “appropriate to look through the temporary, albeit protracted, period of above-target inflation”. And it sure has been “protracted”; and will remain so.
The last time UK inflation came in below target was November 2009. If official projections are accurate, inflation will stay above target until the third quarter of 2014 – or a divergence of more than 50 consecutive months. To quote Mike Amey, my Pimco colleague, the target has become a “loose reference tool”.
The BoE is not the only central bank coping with inconsistencies. The European Central Bank has repeatedly been forced to react in ways once deemed contrary to its philosophy and practices. Under pressure from the new government, the Bank of Japan is in the midst of a historical U-turn.
Emerging economies are also struggling to respond. Some subordinate domestic objectives to the unusual activism of western central banks. Others experiment with “heterodox” measures. And yet others flip-flop in their search for the right policy mix.
Then there is the global dimension, including the risk of a currency war that has less to do with trade tensions and more with unconventional monetary policy. Just last week, Felipe Larrain, Chile’s minister of finance, warned in the Financial Times that “by seeking relief at the expense of other economies, [quantitative easing] is, in its essence, a globally counterproductive policy”.
To many, including politicians itching to interfere, central banking is stuck between a conundrum and incoherence. So here are a few pointers on where the debate stands, and where it should go.
With many other policy makers essentially missing in action, central banks find themselves in leadership roles not out of choice but necessity. Given imperfect tools, their involvement entails, to use the US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke’s phrase, “benefits, costs and risks”. They believe that macroeconomic benefits will outweigh the collateral damage; and they hope that they will buy sufficient time for others to respond properly and for economies to heal endogenously.
The dilemma of modern central banking was captured well last week by incoming BoE governor Mark Carney in his testimony to the UK House of Commons Treasury committee. While recognising the risks of further QE, the current Bank of Canada chief argued that central banks should act to avoid sluggish growth raising the natural unemployment rate via hysteresis.
The fundamental problem is that central banks are pursuing too many objectives with too few instruments. That is why outcomes consistently fall short of their expectations; and also why talk of exit is repeatedly shelved.
Absent better support from other policy makers, central banks will be dragged deeper into policy experimentation. Meanwhile, with incentive structures failing to align properly, perverse reactions are clear – from persistent (and, in Europe’s case, increasing) policy complacency elsewhere to distorted market functioning leading to potentially harmful resource allocations.
Then there is the biggest issue of all: the effects of unconventional monetary measures are likely to become volatile and highly binary if a growing number of central banks around the world feel they have no choice but to join the current western policy stance.
A larger global shift to expansionary monetary policy would enhance the probability of triggering “wealth effects” and “animal spirits”: the two channels through which policy-bolstered asset prices translate into better economic fundamentals. With that, the greater the likelihood of a pivot from “supported growth” to “genuine growth”.
However, relative pricing channels, including currency relationship, would be crippled if too many central banks were to opt for the same policy. Harmful beggar-thy-neighbour effects would amplify damage from artificial surges in asset prices that encourage irresponsible risk taking, fuel “bad inflation” and worsen the risk of disorderly economic and financial deleveraging.
Neither historical experiences nor analytical studies point convincingly to how the systemic effects will ultimately tip. What is clear, however, is that the probability distribution could be significantly improved if central banks were to get stronger support from those who touch more directly productivity and demand, as well as from multilateral institutions mandated with global policy co-ordination. This is where both debate and advocacy should focus.
The writer is the chief executive and co-chief investment officer of Pimco
MONETARY POLICY - History of Over-reaction and Incorrect-reaction
"Central Bankers and policymakers can’t stop themselves from interfering." To be fair on them (unusual in his case), SocGen's Albert Edwards admits the pressure to do something in the face of “bad” economic news is overwhelming. The general public or more inconveniently, the electorate, clamor for action from policymakers to counter any economic pain. Any ‘Austrian School’-type suggestion that it is best to let the cycle play out is derided as heartless and defeatist. Something can and must always be done. Whether intervention makes things worse in the medium to long run is an inconvenience that can be ignored until later. We feel Edwards pain as he "sheds tears of despair as [he] was reminded of the blundering incompetence of our overconfident policymakers, whose interventions, despite their best intentions, seem to bring about financial crises with increasing rather than decreasing regularity."
MONETARY POLICY - It was Inevitable That the Absurd Would Become Public Policy
I fail to see any moral force to the idea that fiat money should only promote private spending
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” This comment of Mark Twain applies with great force to policy on money and banking. Some are sure that the troubled western economies suffer from a surfeit of money. Meanwhile, orthodox policy makers believe that the right way to revive economies is by forcing private spending back up. Almost everybody agrees that monetary financing of governments is lethal. These beliefs are all false.
When arguing that monetary policy is already too loose, critics point to exceptionally low interest rates and the expansion of central bank balance sheets. Yet Milton Friedman himself, doyen of postwar monetary economists, argued that the quantity of money alone matters.
Measures of broad money have stagnated since the crisis began, despite ultra-low interest rates and rapid growth in the balance sheets of central banks. Data on “divisia money” (a well-known way of aggregating the components of broad money), computed by the Center for Financial Stability in New York, show that broad money (M4) was 17 per cent below its 1967-2008 trend in December 2012. The US has suffered from famine, not surfeit.
As Claudio Borio of the Bank for International Settlements puts it in a recent paper, “The financial cycle and macroeconomics: what have we learnt?”, “deposits are not endowments that precede loan formation; it is loans that create deposits”. Thus, when banks cease to lend, deposits stagnate. In the UK, the lending counterpart of M4 was 17 per cent lower at the end of 2012 than in March 2009. (See charts.)
Those convinced hyperinflation is around the corner believe that banks expand their lending in direct response to their holdings of reserves at the central bank. Under a gold standard, reserves are indeed limited. Banks need to look at them rather carefully.
Under fiat (that is, government-made) money, however, the supply of reserves is potentially infinite. True, central banks can pretend reserves are limited. In practice, however, central banks will advance reserves without limit to any solvent bank (and, as we have seen, to insolvent ones). With central banks able to supply reserves at will, the constraints on lending are solvency and profitability. Expanding banking reserves is an ineffective way to increase lending, not a dangerous one.
In normal circumstances, bank lending responds to changes in interest rates set by central banks. But, as Lord Turner, chairman of the UK’s Financial Services Authority, argued in an important lecture given last week, “Debt, Money and Mephistopheles”, this lever is broken.
The response of policy makers is to try even harder to make the private sector lend and spend. Central banks can indeed drive the prices of bonds, equities, foreign currency and other assets to the moon, thereby stimulating private spending. But, as Lord Turner also argues, the costs of this approach might turn out to be high. There is “a danger that in seeking to escape from the deleveraging trap created by past excesses we may build up future vulnerabilities”. William White, former BIS chief economist, expressed a similar concern in a paper on “Ultra Easy Monetary Policy and the Law of Unintended Consequences”, last year.
Alternatives exist. As Lord Turner notes, a group of economists at the University of Chicago responded to the Depression by arguing for severing the link between the supply of credit to the private sector and creation of money. Henry Simons was the main proponent. But Irving Fisher of Yale University supported the idea, as did Friedman in “A Monetary and Fiscal Framework for Economic Stability”, published in 1948.
The essence of this plan was 100 per cent backing of deposits by public debt. This scheme, they argued, would eliminate the instability of private credit and debt, dramatically reduce overt public debt and largely eliminate the many defects of current forms of private debt. “The Chicago Plan Revisited”, a recent working paper from the International Monetary Fund, concludes that the scheme would indeed bring these benefits.
Let us not go so far. But this plan still brings out two important points.
First, it is impossible to justify the conventional view that fiat money should operate almost exclusively via today’s system of private borrowing and lending. Why should state-created currency be predominantly employed to back the money created by banks as a byproduct of often irresponsible lending? Why is it good to support the leveraging of private property, but not the supply of public infrastructure? I fail to see any moral force to the idea that fiat money should only promote private, not public, spending.
Second, in the present exceptional circumstances, when expanding private credit and spending is so hard, if not downright dangerous, the case for using the state’s power to create credit and money in support of public spending is strong. The quantity of extra central bank money required would surely be smaller than under today’s scattergun quantitative easing. Why not employ monetary financing to recapitalise commercial banks, build infrastructure or cut taxes? The case for letting fiscal deficits facilitate private deleveraging, without undue expansion in overt public debt, is surely also strong.
What makes this policy so powerful is the combination of fiscal spending with monetary expansion: Keynesians can enjoy the former; monetarists the latter. Provided the decision on the scale of financing rests in the hands of the central bank and it, in turn, looks at the impact of the policy on the economy, this need not even generate high inflation, let alone hyperinflation. This would require discussions between the ministry of finance and the independent central bank. So be it. That cannot be avoided in extreme predicaments.
Cancer sufferers have to undergo dangerous treatments. Yet the result can still be a cure. As Lord Turner notes, “Japan should have done some outright monetary financing over the last 20 years, and if it had done so would now have a higher nominal gross domestic product, some combination of a higher price level and a higher real output level, and a lower debt to gross domestic product ratio”. The conventional policy turned out to be dangerous. Whether this is also true of troubled countries today can be debated. But the view that it is never right to respond to a financial crisis with monetary financing of a consciously expanded fiscal deficit – helicopter money, in brief – is wrong. It simply has to be in the tool kit.
MONETARY POLICY - 7 Lost years now means "monetary financing of the fiscal deficit
The current regime is meant to stabilise inflation and help stabilise the economy. It has failed
Are the targets and instruments of the UK’s monetary policy framework “fit for purpose”? For once, this ugly phrase sums up the predicament well. With the economy in the doldrums and the arrival of Mark Carney as governor of the Bank of England in July, this is the ideal time for a rigorous, comprehensive and open debate.
In written evidence, he noted that “under flexible inflation targeting, the central bank seeks to return inflation to its medium-term target while mitigating volatility in other dimensions of the economy that matter for welfare, such as employment and financial stability. For most shocks, these goals are complementary. However, for shocks that pose a trade-off between these different objectives, or that tilt the balance of risks in one direction, the central bank can vary the horizon over which inflation is returned to target.”
Mr Carney considers flexible inflation targeting the “most effective monetary policy framework implemented thus far. As a result, the bar for alteration is very high.” He agrees, then, with Sir Mervyn King, his predecessor, who argued in January that “the anchoring of inflation expectations has been the most successful aspect of the inflation targeting regime ... It would be irresponsible to lose that.”
Yet proponents of the current regime (of which I was one) justified it not only on the proposition that it would stabilise inflation, but that it would help stabilise the economy. It failed to do so. In terms of lost output, the current slump is far worse than the inflationary 1970s and disinflationary early 1980s. Even with growth at 1.5 per cent a year from now on, output would return to its level of the first quarter of 2008 only in the first quarter of 2015: in brief, seven lost years. This is abysmal, even if a productivity collapse (with worrying longer-term implications) shielded employment.
Moreover, even if one believes that today’s fashionable nostrum – “macroprudential regulation” – would have prevented this dire outcome, what should be done today, while the economy is trapped in a post-bubble slump? In written evidence, Simon Wren-Lewis of Oxford university argues that there is now “a clear conflict” between what a sensible UK monetary policy would be doing and what is actually happening.
“Inflation targeting in the UK is not working, and something needs to change,”
he writes. I agree. So what is to be done?
First, there needs to be a government-led assessment of the inflation-targeting regime, particularly of how well it operates while interest rates are at their lower bound.
Second, the BoE has to reconsider how it develops and communicates policy during this exceptional period, including its exit from unconventional policies.
Finally, as Adair Turner, chairman of the Financial Services Authority, argued in an important lecture this week, even greater attention needed to be paid to the “how” of monetary policy in exceptional times than to its targets. In particular, he argued, money creation was a legitimate and powerful tool, in such circumstances.
Altering the longer-term regime would rightly take time. This is most obvious if one considers a popular alternative: a shift to targeting nominal gross domestic product.
Yet, as Charles Goodhart of the London School of Economics and co-authors note in a recent paper, this attractive idea has drawbacks: the target is far less transparent than prices; the data are not only published quarterly, but are constantly revised; the impact on expectations might even be highly destabilising; and it would be extremely difficult to fix on a target for the growth or level of nominal GDP, given the uncertainties about potential real growth and the fact that nominal GDP is now 13 per cent below the pre-crisis trend. The difficulty of agreeing quickly on any alternatives might rule the notion out for immediate needs.
If so, the focus, particularly of the BoE, should now be on shifting expectations and making policy more effective. The least that should be done would be to make the Monetary Policy Committee’s expected path of interest rates more transparent and, as the US Federal Reserve has done, indicate the triggers for subsequent tightening. One way to reinforce credibility of commitments would be to indicate that the MPC is focusing on the rate of rise in labour earnings, as an indicator of inflationary pressure, as well as the misleading consumer price index.
Yet I agree with Lord Turner that the even more important question is how to make any policy effective. This, inevitably, raises questions about how monetary policy works in an environment of ultra-low interest rates. Lord Turner thinks the unthinkable: namely, monetary financing of the fiscal deficit. So should policy makers.
The FT recently called for a serious debate on the idea that budget deficits should be permanently monetised by the central banks. So far the most prominent response from an active policy maker has come from Lord Adair Turner, the outgoing Chairman of the UK Financial Services Authority, and a former candidate to become Governor of the Bank of England .
Lord Turner is under no illusion that his discussion of this policy option will open him to ridicule or worse in some quarters. He expects to be called a “dangerous man”, which is a strange description for this typically cerebral product of McKinsey. Yet he considers this risk worthwhile because he believes there should be a rational comparison between OMF or overt monetary finance (a less inflammatory term than the usual “helicopter money”) and the quantitative easing favoured by today’s central bankers.
In public, central bankers like Ben Bernanke, Mark Carney and of course the entire ECB remain firmly opposed to this idea. But it is probably being implemented in Japan, and I have been surprised (and worried) at the willingness of mainstream central bankers in the US and the UK to contemplate the option in private. This blog serves as a reminder of the serious dangers involved.
The Difference Between OMF and QE
If implemented as stated, there is little difference between QE and OMF in the short run, but a very large difference in the long run.
Both policies involve the purchase of government debt by central banks to finance budget deficits, using newly created bank reserves to finance the purchases . The key difference is that in the case of QE, the bonds are (in theory) only parked temporarily at the central bank, while under OMF the purchases are never intended to be reversed. This means that the increase in the monetary base is temporary in the case of QE, and permanent in the case of OMF.
A second difference is that, in the Turner version of OMF, there is also a deliberate rise in the budget deficit, compared to what otherwise would have happened. This means that the policy requires co-operation between the fiscal and monetary authorities, while QE is built around the proposition that the two policies are determined at arms length.
In theory, QE involves no increase in the budget deficit, only a different form of financing for a given deficit. However, the Turner version is not the only possible formulation of OMF. It is possible to leave the budget deficit unchanged in both cases and simply focus on the difference between financing methods.
Under OMF, the ultimate link between budget deficits and public debt is broken. (Money does not count as debt.) In contrast, this link is maintained under QE, because eventually the private sector needs to repurchase the bonds held by the central banks.
This means that the private sector must assume that its savings will one day be tapped to fund budget deficits under QE, while savings will never be tapped under OMF. The breakage of the link between the government’s decision to run a budget deficit, and the public’s willingness to finance deficits at acceptable interest rates, removes the critical discipline which markets impose on governments. You do not have to be a fan of Machiavelli to believe that this might end badly.
Because it does not tap private savings, OMF financing will be much more expansionary than QE on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Supporters of OMF, like Lord Turner, see this as an advantage, and say that it means that the medicine would need to be applied in much smaller doses than QE. The possibility of introducing OMF in small doses, controlled by the central banks, is seductive: supporters argue that not all roads necessarily lead to Zimbabwe.
Lord Turner argues that permanent money financing of deficits has an impressive intellectual lineage, including Chicago economists Milton Friedman and Henry Simons. However, it is more normally associated with the work of Abba Lerner, a radical economist who departed the LSE for the US in 1937 and gained notoriety by arguing that the financing of budget deficits should be determined only by the impact it has on inflation and interest rates, with no a priori preference for bond financing over monetary creation as the normally preferred method. Lerner’s writings, which are sometimes regarded as more Keynesian than Keynes himself , have inspired the school of modern monetary theory which thrives nowadays on the web.
However, today’s leading Keynesians like Paul Krugman differ from the MMT school, because they believe that in the long run, once the economy has escaped from its current liquidity trap, the monetary base must be brought back to normal, following a period of QE, in order to prevent inflation rising. Furthermore, they tend to believe that the stimulative effect of budgetary policy is measured, to a first approximation, by the size of the budget deficit, and not by the form in which it is financed. Finally, they do not worry much about the stock of public debt, or about Ricardian equivalence, so they are not attracted by financing methods which create money in order to hold public debt down.
The traditional concern of central bankers is, of course, that the permanent monetisation of budget deficits will lead to an unhinging of inflation expectations. That is not exactly an original objection, but it cannot be swept under the carpet.
Lord Turner responds as follows. He believes that all forms of monetary or fiscal stimulus, conventional or unconventional, work by increasing nominal demand in the economy. Once demand is increased, the split between higher prices and higher real output is determined separately, according to whether there is enough spare capacity to allow real output to expand in line with the extra demand. The particular method used to increase demand is independent of how inflation responds to the monetary stimulus.
Turner prefers to choose a method which he knows will be successful in boosting demand, rather than worrying about the different inflationary consequences of different methods, because he does not allow much role for inflation expectations to be affected differently by OMF compared to QE. But there is the rub.
In both monetarist and new Keynesian models of the economy, permanent monetisation will eventually produce higher inflation , although “eventually” may refer to a very long time indeed. It is much more likely that inflation expectations could rise markedly under permanent monetisation and, in my view, that is not a price worth paying for (perhaps temporarily) higher output.
Does that mean that no-one should ever contemplate using permanent monetisation? Well, never is a long time, encompassing many possible scenarios. Adair Turner and Martin Wolf make a very convincing case that Japan cannot find any other way out of the public debt trap into which it has fallen, except default or deep recession. Japan needs actively to raise inflation expectations. But neither the US nor the UK are anywhere there yet.
 Lord Turner’s analysis can be found in a detailed speech here, or in an interview with the FT here. Martin Wolf provides a sympathetic response here.
 The central bank does not have to buy bonds in the open market; it could also credit the government’s bank account in exchange for treasury bills, allowing the government to pay cheques directly to the public.
 A really interesting short article on the relationship between Keynes and Lerner, written by David Colander in 1984, explains that Keynes adjusted the public statements of his views so that they would be more acceptable to the political establishment. Lerner, in contrast, followed the logic of Keynesian economics remorselessly to the final destination. Some people may think this is what is happening today with helicopter money. Lerner’s most influential articles on this topic from the 1940s are here and here.
 Printing money by central banks is called seigniorage. In theory, there is a “safe” amount of seigniorage which any central bank can do without causing inflation, since the public’s demand for the monetary base will grow in line with nominal GDP. This has led to suggestions that the central bank can print money today up to the limit of its future “safe” limit of seigniorage, without causing inflation. This suggestion requires a more detailed discussion at a later date, but in my opinion it does not prevent inflation expectations from rising if OMF is introduced.
TECHNICALS & MARKET ANALYTICS
CURRENCY WARS - Who Will Devalue - Where there is Limited Asset Value
“Price is what you pay; value is what you get.”
– Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett’s aphorism has been rightly celebrated. But to be a true value investor, it helps to have values.
Courtesy of near-zero interest rates and global competitive currency debauchery, it is increasingly difficult to assess the value of anything, as denominated in units of anything else.
To put it another way, the business of investing rationally becomes problematic when a significant number of market participants are pursuing maximum nominal returns without a second thought as to the real (inflation-adjusted) value of those returns.
Hedge fund manager Kyle Bass alluded to this problem recently when he pointed out that the Zimbabwean stock market had been the last decade’s best performer, but that owning the entire index would only buy you three eggs.
It is not just Zimbabwe. Markets everywhere, in just about everything, have now decoupled not just from their underlying economies but from reality.
There are signs that Buffett himself has decoupled from the value investing philosophy that made him the world’s most successful investor. Berkshire Hathaway is paying almost 20 percent more than Heinz stock’s all-time high in the deal announced last week, and the equivalent of 21 times 2013 earnings as opposed to the 16 times multiple which is the last decade’s average.
Say what you like about the business, but Buffett has not bought it cheaply.
To us, the more intriguing aspect to Warren Buffett is that he gives every indication of not understanding money. As he says, gold “gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or some place. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head.”
Note that phrase: “It has no utility”. But utility, usefulness, purpose, value comes down to context. Context is everything. As Adam Fergusson bleakly put it in his moving account of Weimar Inflation in ‘When Money Dies’,
“In hyperinflation, a kilo of potatoes was worth, to some, more than the family silver; a side of pork more than the grand piano. A prostitute in the family was better than an infant corpse; theft was preferable to starvation; warmth was finer than honour, clothing more essential than democracy, food more needed than freedom.”
Buffett is chained to a rock of convention. He is hardwired to pursue money and he is very good at that pursuit. But he is not well programmed to consider the relative utility of money or its attributes as a lasting store of value.
Since 2000, the price of gold has outperformed the price of Berkshire Hathaway stock by over 300%. No particular surprise, then, that he should hate the stuff.
Likewise, many investors are losing faith in gold on the basis that its price in US dollars has recently declined. Context is everything. Express the price of gold in another currency, the Japanese Yen, and gold looks relatively buoyant:
So it comes down to what sort of money you want. And in an environment of competitive currency devaulation, it’s an important choice to make.
In making that decision, this helpful chart is used by fund managers at Stratton Street Capital to help assess sovereign credit quality. They suggest, and we believe, that it also has merit in assessing likely currency movements too.
In a global deleveraging that is likely to persist for some years, the heavily indebted countries (the darker colors in the chart above) will desperately need to attract foreign capital to help service their heavy debt loads. And in order to do so, they will likely devalue their currencies.
But one currency it doesn’t highlight is gold. There is an increasingly disorderly currency war going on out there, and the advantage of gold is clear– they can’t print it, they can’t default on it, and there will always be demand for it.
Simply put, in the global currency wars, owning gold is like abandoning the battlefield altogether.
MARKET VALUATIONS - Even Buffett Now Agrees for first time Since 2007
Based on Heinz' new best friend from Omaha's "best single measure of where valuations stand at any given momen," US equities are now over-valued for the first time since 2007. Buffett's measure - the percentage of total market cap (TMC) relative to the US GNP - as Cullen Roche indicates on Bloomberg's Chart of the Day, crossed 100% this week into stretched territory. As Gurufocus notes, this implies a mere return of around 3.3% annualized (including dividends) ove rthe folowing years - though as is clear from the chart below - the ride is extremely bumpy...
COMMODITY CORNER - HARD ASSETS
2013 - STATISM
CONSTITUTION IN PERIL - Bill of Rights Under Attack
Preface: While a lot of people talk about the loss of our Constitutional liberties, people usually speak in a vague, generalized manner … or focus on only one issue and ignore the rest.
This post explains the liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights – the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution – and provides a scorecard on the extent of the loss of each right.
The 1st Amendment protects speech, religion, assembly and the press:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Like many academics, I was happy to blissfully ignore the Second Amendment. It did not fit neatly into my socially liberal agenda.
It is hard to read the Second Amendment and not honestly conclude that the Framers intended gun ownership to be an individual right. It is true that the amendment begins with a reference to militias: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Accordingly, it is argued, this amendment protects the right of the militia to bear arms, not the individual.
Yet, if true, the Second Amendment would be effectively declared a defunct provision. The National Guard is not a true militia in the sense of the Second Amendment and, since the District and others believe governments can ban guns entirely, the Second Amendment would be read out of existence.
More important, the mere reference to a purpose of the Second Amendment does not alter the fact that an individual right is created. The right of the people to keep and bear arms is stated in the same way as the right to free speech or free press. The statement of a purpose was intended to reaffirm the power of the states and the people against the central government. At the time, many feared the federal government and its national army. Gun ownership was viewed as a deterrent against abuse by the government, which would be less likely to mess with a well-armed populace.
Considering the Framers and their own traditions of hunting and self-defense, it is clear that they would have viewed such ownership as an individual right — consistent with the plain meaning of the amendment.
None of this is easy for someone raised to believe that the Second Amendment was the dividing line between the enlightenment and the dark ages of American culture. Yet, it is time to honestly reconsider this amendment and admit that … here’s the really hard part … the NRA may have been right. This does not mean that Charlton Heston is the new Rosa Parks or that no restrictions can be placed on gun ownership. But it does appear that gun ownership was made a protected right by the Framers and, while we might not celebrate it, it is time that we recognize it.
The gun control debate – including which weapons and magazines are banned – is still in flux …
The 3rd Amendment prohibits the government forcing people to house soldiers:
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Hey … we’re still honoring one of the Amendments! Score one for We the People!
The 4th Amendment prevents unlawful search and seizure:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The domestic use of drones to spy on Americans clearly violates the Fourth Amendment and limits our rights to personal privacy.
Paul introduced a bill to “protect individual privacy against unwarranted governmental intrusion through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles commonly called drones.”
Emptywheel notes in a post entitled “The OTHER Assault on the Fourth Amendment in the NDAA? Drones at Your Airport?”:
As the map above makes clear–taken from this 2010 report–DOD [the Department of Defense] plans to have drones all over the country by 2015.
Many police departments are also using drones to spy on us. As the Hill reported:
At least 13 state and local police agencies around the country have used drones in the field or in training, according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, an industry trade group. The Federal Aviation Administration has predicted that by the end of the decade, 30,000 commercial and government drones could be flying over U.S. skies.
“Drones should only be used if subject to a powerful framework that regulates their use in order to avoid abuse and invasions of privacy,” Chris Calabrese, a legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said during a congressional forum in Texas last month.
He argued police should only fly drones over private property if they have a warrant, information collected with drones should be promptly destroyed when it’s no longer needed and domestic drones should not carry any weapons.
He argued that drones pose a more serious threat to privacy than helicopters because they are cheaper to use and can hover in the sky for longer periods of time.
A congressional report earlier this year predicted that drones could soon be equipped with technologies to identify faces or track people based on their height, age, gender and skin color.
As the top spy chief at the U.S. National Security Agency explained this week, the American government is collecting some 100 billion 1,000-character emails per day, and 20 trillion communications of all types per year.
He says that the government has collected all of the communications of congressional leaders, generals and everyone else in the U.S. for the last 10 years.
He further explains that he set up the NSA’s system so that all of the information would automatically be encrypted, so that the government had to obtain a search warrant based upon probably cause before a particular suspect’s communications could be decrypted. [He specifically did this to comply with the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure.] But the NSA now collects all data in an unencrypted form, so that no probable cause is needed to view any citizen’s information. He says that it is actually cheaper and easier to store the data in an encrypted format: so the government’s current system is being done for political – not practical – purposes.
He says that if anyone gets on the government’s “enemies list”, then the stored information will be used to target them. Specifically, he notes that if the government decides it doesn’t like someone, it analyzes all of the data it has collected on that person and his or her associates over the last 10 years to build a case against him.
Transit authorities in cities across the country are quietly installing microphone-enabled surveillance systems on public buses that would give them the ability to record and store private conversations….
The systems are being installed in San Francisco, Baltimore, and other cities with funding from the Department of Homeland Security in some cases ….
The systems use cables or WiFi to pair audio conversations with camera images in order to produce synchronous recordings. Audio and video can be monitored in real-time, but are also stored onboard in blackbox-like devices, generally for 30 days, for later retrieval. Four to six cameras with mics are generally installed throughout a bus, including one near the driver and one on the exterior of the bus.
Privacy and security expert Ashkan Soltani told the Daily that the audio could easily be coupled with facial recognition systems or audio recognition technology to identify passengers caught on the recordings.
Street lights that can spy installed in some American cities
America welcomes a new brand of smart street lightning systems: energy-efficient, long-lasting, complete with LED screens to show ads. They can also spy on citizens in a way George Orwell would not have imagined in his worst nightmare.
With a price tag of $3,000+ apiece, according to an ABC report, the street lights are now being rolled out in Detroit, Chicago and Pittsburgh, and may soon mushroom all across the country.
Part of the Intellistreets systems made by the company Illuminating Concepts, they have a number of “homeland security applications” attached.
Each has a microprocessor “essentially similar to an iPhone,” capable of wireless communication. Each can capture images and count people for the police through a digital camera, record conversations of passers-by and even give voice commands thanks to a built-in speaker.
Ron Harwood, president and founder of Illuminating Concepts, says he eyed the creation of such a system after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Hurricane Katrina disaster. He is “working with Homeland Security” to deliver his dream of making people “more informed and safer.”
The TSA has moved way past airports, trains and sports stadiums, and is deploying mobile scanners to spy on people all over the place. This means that traveling within the United States is no longer a private affair. (And they’re probably bluffing, but the Department of Homeland Security claims they will soon be able to know your adrenaline level, what you ate for breakfast and what you’re thinking … from 164 feet away.)
In addition, the ACLU published a map in 2006 showing that nearly two-thirds of the American public – 197.4 million people – live within a “constitution-free zone” within 100 miles of land and coastal borders:
Normally under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the American people are not generally subject to random and arbitrary stops and searches.
The border, however, has always been an exception. There, the longstanding view is that the normal rules do not apply. For example the authorities do not need a warrant or probable cause to conduct a “routine search.”
But what is “the border”? According to the government, it is a 100-mile wide strip that wraps around the “external boundary” of the United States.
As a result of this claimed authority, individuals who are far away from the border, American citizens traveling from one place in America to another, are being stopped and harassed in ways that our Constitution does not permit.
Border Patrol has been setting up checkpoints inland — on highways in states such as California, Texas and Arizona, and at ferry terminals in Washington State. Typically, the agents ask drivers and passengers about their citizenship. Unfortunately, our courts so far have permitted these kinds of checkpoints – legally speaking, they are “administrative” stops that are permitted only for the specific purpose of protecting the nation’s borders. They cannot become general drug-search or other law enforcement efforts.
However, these stops by Border Patrol agents are not remaining confined to that border security purpose. On the roads of California and elsewhere in the nation – places far removed from the actual border – agents are stopping, interrogating, and searching Americans on an everyday basis with absolutely no suspicion of wrongdoing.
The bottom line is that the extraordinary authorities that the government possesses at the border are spilling into regular American streets.
Border agents don’t need probable cause and they don’t need a stinking warrant since they don’t need to prove any reasonable suspicion first. Nor, sadly, do two out of three people have First Amendment protection; it is as if DHS has voided those Constitutional amendments and protections they provide to nearly 200 million Americans.
Don’t be silly by thinking this means only if you are physically trying to cross the international border. As we saw when discussing the DEA using license plate readers and data-mining to track Americans movements, the U.S. “border” stretches out 100 miles beyond the true border. Godfather Politics added:
But wait, it gets even better! If you live anywhere in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey or Rhode Island, DHS says the search zones encompass the entire state.
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have a “longstanding constitutional and statutory authority permitting suspicionless and warrantless searches of merchandise at the border and its functional equivalent.” This applies to electronic devices, according to the recent CLCR “Border Searches of Electronic Devices” executive summary [PDF]:
The overall authority to conduct border searches without suspicion or warrant is clear and longstanding, and courts have not treated searches of electronic devices any differently than searches of other objects. We conclude that CBP’s and ICE’s current border search policies comply with the Fourth Amendment. We also conclude that imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits. However, we do think that recording more information about why searches are performed would help managers and leadership supervise the use of border search authority, and this is what we recommended; CBP has agreed and has implemented this change beginning in FY2012.
Some critics argue that a heightened level of suspicion should be required before officers search laptop computers in order to avoid chilling First Amendment rights. However, we conclude that the laptop border searches allowed under the ICE and CBP Directives do not violate travelers’ First Amendment rights.
The ACLU said, Wait one darn minute! Hello, what happened to the Constitution? Where is the rest of CLCR report on the “policy of combing through and sometimes confiscating travelers’ laptops, cell phones, and other electronic devices—even when there is no suspicion of wrongdoing?” DHS maintains it is not violating our constitutional rights, so the ACLU said:
If it’s true that our rights are safe and that DHS is doing all the things it needs to do to safeguard them, then why won’t it show us the results of its assessment? And why would it be legitimate to keep a report about the impact of a policy on the public’s rights hidden from the very public being affected?
As ChristianPost wrote, “Your constitutional rights have been repealed in ten states. No, this isn’t a joke. It is not exaggeration or hyperbole. If you are in ten states in the United States, your some of your rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights have been made null and void.”
The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the entire DHS report about suspicionless and warrantless “border” searches of electronic devices. ACLU attorney Catherine Crump said “We hope to establish that the Department of Homeland Security can’t simply assert that its practices are legitimate without showing us the evidence, and to make it clear that the government’s own analyses of how our fundamental rights apply to new technologies should be openly accessible to the public for review and debate.”
Wired pointed out in 2008 that the courts have routinely upheld such constitution-free zones:
Federal agents at the border do not need any reason to search through travelers’ laptops, cell phones or digital cameras for evidence of crimes, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, extending the government’s power to look through belongings like suitcases at the border to electronics.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the government, finding that the so-called border exception to the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches applied not just to suitcases and papers, but also to electronics.
Travelers should be aware that anything on their mobile devices can be searched by government agents, who may also seize the devices and keep them for weeks or months. When in doubt, think about whether online storage or encryption might be tools you should use to prevent the feds from rummaging through your journal, your company’s confidential business plans or naked pictures of you and your-of-age partner in adult fun.
The 5th Amendment addresses due process of law, eminent domain, double jeopardy and grand jury:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
The 6th Amendment guarantees the right to hear the criminal charges levied against us and to be able to confront the witnesses who have testified against us, as well as speedy criminal trials, and a public defender for those who cannot hire an attorney:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Subjecting people to indefinite detention or assassination obviously violates the 6th Amendment right to a jury trial. In both cases, the defendants is “disposed of” without ever receiving a trial … and often without ever hearing the charges against them.
More and more commonly, the government prosecutes cases based upon “secret evidence” that they don’t show to the defendant … or sometimes even the judge hearing the case.
The 7th Amendment guarantees trial by jury in federal court for civil cases:
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
While Justice Scalia disingenuously argues that torture does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment because it is meant to produce information – not punish – he’s wrong. It’s not only cruel and unusual … it is technically a form of terrorism.
By working hand-in-glove with giant corporations to defraud us into paying for a lower quality of life, the government is trampling our basic rights as human beings.
The 10th Amendment provides that powers not specifically given to the Federal government are reserved to the states or individual:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Two of the central principles of America’s Founding Fathers are:
(1) The government is created and empowered with the consent of the people
(2) Separation of powers
Today, most Americans believe that the government is threatening – rather than protecting – freedom … and that it is no longer acting with the “consent of the governed”.
And the federal government is trampling the separation of powers by stepping on the toes of the states and the people. For example, former head S&L prosecutor Bill Black – now a professor of law and economics – notes:
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the resident examiners and regional staff of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency [both] competed to weaken federal regulation and aggressively used the preemption doctrine to try to prevent state investigations of and actions against fraudulent mortgage lenders.
Indeed, the federal government is doing everything it can to stick its nose into every aspect of our lives … and act like Big Brother.
Conclusion: While a few of the liberties enshrined in the Bill of Rights still exist, the overall scorecard of the government’s respect for our freedom: a failing grade.
Some dovish sounding minutes from the Bank of England came out this morning.
And the pound is getting drilled.
The pound is one of the most hated currencies right now thanks to a deteriorating economy, deteriorating trade balances, and the belief that more aggressive policy by the Bank of England is likely in the future.
Here's a chart showing the steep drop just over the last 10 days
CURRENCY WARS - Rules of Engagement
Allows countries to use monetary and fiscal policy for domestic goals. It does not sanction foreign exchange targeting.
There was something important coming from the G20 meeting, but it is not the currency wars that have captured so many imaginations in the media and blogosphere. It was about corporate taxes, but before turning to it, let's try to put the currency statement in perspective.
As many recognize, the currency market is prone to being used to pursue beggar-thy-neighbor policies of competitive devaluations. The danger is that it leads to trade wars and then shooting wars. The rules of engagement, as they have evolved over the last quarter of a century or so, are essentially three-fold.
First, exchange rates are not proper goals of policy. Economic growth and price stability are the proper goals of policy.
Second, foreign exchange prices are best set by the market in a flexible way to help foster the adjustment process and a reduction of global disequilibrium in terms of trade and capital flows.
Third, while avoiding excess volatility, currency prices ought to reflect underlying economic fundamentals and avoid chronic exchange rate misalignments. On those rare occasions when action, is needed, it should be coordinated and not unilateral.
The G20 statement, like the G7 statement earlier in the week, restated these longstanding principles. That members agree not to target exchange rates for competitive purposes was a pointed reminder to Japanese officials to refrain from talking about bilateral exchange rate targets. And indeed, over the past couple of weeks, Japanese officials have changed their rhetoric and have not talked about specific dollar-yen rates.
Rarely in stories about currency wars has China been cited. Yet, it is an indicated co-conspirator, as it were. The G20 reference to moving more rapidly toward market determined exchange rates and the importance of avoiding persistent misalignments was clearly addressed to China, and some other East Asian and Middle East countries.
The rules of engagement allow and encourage countries to pursue monetary and fiscal policies directed at domestic goals. For several years Japan has been encouraged to reflate its economy. That it appears to be doing so is not problem. No one in the G7 or the G20 have objected to that. The criticism levied against Japanese officials is when they try to manage the currency, suggesting certain targets, and/or overt attempts by the government to undermine what is seen as the independence of the central bank.
It also means that the (unconventional) easing of monetary policy by the Federal Reserve is also not an act of (currency) war. Leaving aside the occasional comment by Brazil's finance minister and a rare comment by a Chinese official, few in positions of responsibility accuse the US of engaging in a competitive devaluation.
The referees of the rules of engagement as it were, like the IMF, the G20 and the G7 generally agree that although the risks may be there, the conditions and practices now do not meet the threshold of competitive devaluations, a currency war or trade war. We expect the rhetoric in the traditional and social media about currency wars will die down in the coming period.
The currency wars have been over-hyped. There is less there than meets the eye. The rules of engagement allow for countries to use monetary and fiscal policy for domestic goals. It does not sanction foreign exchange targeting.
Overhaul of International Corporate Tax Practices
The focus on currency wars distracts from other and arguably more important issues. Much of coverage of the G20 statement focused on the foreign exchange market, but has missed what is likely an even more important story.
The G20 have begun a process that could lead to the largest overhaul of international corporate tax practices since the 1920s. The combination of the fiscal pressures at home and the increased importance of intellectual property (e.g., royalties, licensing fees) and questionable transfer pricing corporate practices has elicited a response.
The official goal is to develop measures to stop tax arbitrage--the shifting of profits from home countries in order to pay lower taxes elsewhere. A recent OECD study found multinational companies were increasingly booking profits in different countries from where they were generated in order to avoid taxes.
The role of intangibles, like intellectual property rights, services and brands have grown in importance but are difficult to value. International royalty and license fee payments paid to different subsidiaries within the same business group have soared. The growing volume of e-commerce also raises issues of the proper tax jurisdiction that are not handled well by the current tax rules.
This comes even as OECD government have cut statutory corporate tax rates from an average of 32.6% in 2000 to 25.4% in 2011. The effective tax rate, which is what corporations actually pay, is often much lower due to assorted deductions and allowances.
Recent reports showing that a number of large well-known global companies, such as Starbucks, Apple, Google, Amazon used complicated inter-company transaction to reduce their tax liabilities has helped spur official action. The big accounting firms are also being called out for the assistance they provide in helping businesses avoid taxes.
Essentially, the OECD has called for, and the G20 appears to have signed off on, a new effort to modernize the international tax architecture, which could be ready in the next couple of years. Three committees have been established and more from them will likely be heard around the July G20 meeting.
The UK will head up a committee to look at transfer prices and the sales to subsidiaries to shift profits from high to low tax jurisdictions. It is illegal, for example, to structure a particular transaction for the purpose of skirting the law (it is sometimes referred to as "kiting"). For example, it is unlawful for one to withdraw $5000 twice instead of withdrawing $10,000 once in order to avoid reporting requirements. Can the same principle apply to businesses?
Germany will head up a committee that investigates way in which companies have reduced the tax base in the accounting of income and assets. France and the US will lead the third committee, looking at e-commerce in particular, and the proper tax jurisdictions.
The Obama Administration has been wrestling with the same issue. Once we get past the sequester and the continuing resolution (authorizes government spending even without a budget), look for corporate tax reform to become more salient. The fact that it will come after the other events, gives Obama some leverage with the business community, even when it came to the fiscal cliff.
It is ironic that Obama, who has been accused of being a socialist, is on record of favoring corporate tax reform that include a cut in the top corporate rate to 28% from 35%. More important than the loopholes he wants to close to pay for the tax cut, is how overseas earnings should be taxed.
Currently, the US taxes corporate profits earned abroad only when it is repatriated--brought back to the US. Last month, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service reported that US-based companies are increasingly shifting profits to tax havens such as Bermuda and Switzerland. Senator Sanders (VT) has introduced legislation to end the current tax deferral and force companies to pay taxes on their foreign earnings. Some studies suggest that the higher levels of cash US corporations are holding is partly a function of these tax avoidance efforts.
At the end of last year, Obama expressed some sympathy for some form of territorial system, which taxes domestic not foreign income. It could exempt offshore corporate profits from US taxes, seemingly shifting the stance of the 2012 election campaign. Currently, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Hong Kong employ a territorial tax system.
The real news from the G20 meeting is the formal beginning of a process that could very well lead the largest substantial change in international corporate tax system in almost a century.
THE CURRENCY WAR GAME - "I rebalance my economy, you competitively devalue"
Failure by the G-20 to take a more aggressive stance on monetary easing could help intensify currency wars.
There's a back to the future feel about the global economy right now. The only question is back to what future? The obvious answer considering the events of the past week is
The 1970s. There are plenty of echoes in the world today of the
rising unemployment and
political uncertainty that marked that troubled decade.
Over the weekend, finance ministers and central-bank governors from the Group of 20 industrialized nations tried to play down fears of new currency wars that have been spooking markets since last month's election of a new Japanese government. The
Bank of England recently became the latest central bank to relax its inflation-fighting credentials by formally abandoning its long-standing objective of returning inflation to its 2% target within two years.
Meanwhile European gross domestic product shrank by more than forecast in the fourth quarter, creating fresh uncertainty over when the recession will end.
But it doesn't take much of a leap of imagination to see shadows of a very different decade: as in the early Noughties, the dominant dynamic in the markets today is a desperate search for yield that is fueling potential asset bubbles across global markets. Just as the U.S. Federal Reserve loosened monetary policy in the aftermath of the dotcom crash, central banks have been again flooding the world with easy money to try to pull the global economy out of its current malaise. And as in the past decade, there is evidence that all this liquidity is leading to asset-price inflation even as consumer-price inflation remains low, with concerns about bubbles in assets as varied as Swiss, Canadian and London real estate, emerging-market equities and the European corporate-credit market.
At the same time, some believe Warren Buffett's proposed $28 billion takeover of Heinz may mark the start of a new giant leveraged buyout boom. On this analysis, the seeds of the next financial crisis may be being sown before the current one is over.
So which decade will the current one resemble? The reality is that talk of 1970s-style currency wars looks premature. True, the G-20 statement designed to cool anxieties was bland and unconvincing; it acknowledged that "excess volatility of financial flows and disorderly movements in exchange rates have adverse implications for economic and financial stability" and it committed governments to "refrain from competitive devaluation."
That still leaves ample scope for further devaluations so long as they happen to be:
the serendipitous byproduct of domestic monetary policy pursued for domestic reasons rather than efforts to "target our exchange rates for competitive purposes."
Indeed, the global currency debate is full of humbug.
The U.S. was the first country to be accused of waging currency war, when Brazil objected to the Federal Reserve's second round of quantitative easing in 2011, which was widely seen as a naked attempt to drive down the dollar.
The new Japanese government may now claim that its promise of a massive monetary and fiscal stimulus is solely designed to boost the domestic economy but it has made little secret of its desire to see a weaker yen.
Similarly, Bank of England Governor Mervyn King has been open in his view that a further devaluation of sterling, on top of the 20% depreciation since the start of the global financial crisis is needed to further rebalance the economy—even while warning that other countries risk triggering competitive depreciations.
In fact, Mr. King could be said to have coined a new irregular verb: "I rebalance my economy, you competitively devalue, he has started a currency war."
Even so, there are good reasons to believe that talk of currency wars is, for the moment, just talk. First, it is hard to argue that any advanced economy has so far secured a significant competitive advantage via its exchange rate. Even after Japan's near-20% devaluation this year, the yen is still trading within its long-term range, having been significantly overvalued over the past few years as it attracted safe-haven flows in response to the euro crisis. Similarly, the recent rise in the euro is hardly conducive to growth and has caused some anxiety in some European capitals, but the currency is still within its long-term range against the dollar.
The exception is the U.K., which has somehow escaped international censure despite the biggest depreciation of any major currency—perhaps because it has apparently derived so little benefit from it.
Besides, it's hard these days to win a currency war. So long as global consumer-price inflation is low, estimates of spare capacity are high and central banks are willing to "look through" short-term inflation spikes, every country has access to the chief weapon needed to fight the war—ultraloose domestic monetary policy. Indeed, the yen's previous rise partly reflects the Bank of Japan's reluctance to expand its balance sheet as much as the Fed, BOE, or the European Central Bank. At the same time, the global prohibition on competitive devaluations appears asymmetric; countries that have intervened to prevent their currencies rising, such as Switzerland, have so far escaped censure. Goldman SachsGS -0.60%argues this de-facto global stand-off over currencies represents an unofficial Global Exchange Rate Mechanism.
POLITCAL REACTION KEY
But if the price of avoiding currency wars is even looser monetary policy, this brings risks of a different kind. How policy makers respond to possible new asset-price bubbles will be crucial in determining whether the rest of this decade is a replay of the '70s, the Noughties or something more benign.
On this score, perhaps the most interesting development last week was the Swiss National Bank's SNBN.EB +1.67%decision to impose extra capital requirements on Swiss banks' exposures to the domestic mortgage market. This was one of the first attempts by a central bank to try out the big new idea of the postcrisis world: macro-prudential regulation. Whether it succeeds in cooling an over-heating market remains to be seen.
Nor is it clear how ready other central banks are to use these new powers. After all, central banks have so far largely welcomed rising asset prices as a sign of restored confidence and view low yields as creating an incentive for investment.
In the absence of domestic political support, it would take a brave policy maker to argue that soaring asset prices risk creating a new debt-fueled misallocation of capital and threaten to pull away the punch bowl. But perhaps they're made of sterner stuff these days.
With the G-20 (and G-7) concluding with what appears to be a slap on the wrist and a wink-and-a-nod to Japan, it seems the game of competitive devaluation will continue. Much pixel and ink has been spilled the 'potential' winners and losers in such an evolving game, but as Bloomberg notes, there has been one winner in the last 10 years each time the world has fretted over "currency wars". As fear (and actuality) of currency wars flares, the USD has borne the brunt of the buying. From 2004's JPYtervention to Mantega's 2010 comments and each time in between, when competitive devaluation is on the world's lips, then the USD is implicitly bid as the currency du jour is offered to any and every willing carry trade riderthere is. The trouble is - for the lowly US investor - each time the USD is bid, so the US equity market has hit an FX-translated earnings hump and fallen back. So while talking heads will exaggerate the nominal performance of Japanese and British equity markets as their currencies free-fall, perhaps the US investor should be careful what they wish for.
As the world's reserve currency, the effect of a devaluation of a non-reserve currency (i.e. everything else) is implicitly to put upward buying pressure on the USD...
and each time the "currency war" flare has occurred, this USD strength has led to notable US equity weakness...
so perhaps, all those 'interventionist' hopers should be a little more nervous about the apparent decoupling of the US market - as its rotation unwinds...
2010 - EXTEND & PRETEND
CORPORATOCRACY - CRONY CAPITALSIM
GLOBAL FINANCIAL IMBALANCE
FIAT CURRENCY COLLAPSE - The Fiat Failure - NWO Linkage
We are talking about nothing more substantial than monopoly money being used for international trade. Put a US Dollar bill alongside a Monopoly bill and I say to you that the only difference between them is people's faith in the US Dollar Bill. As soon as that faith is shattered, either by planned devaluation or people becoming aware and a panic run, the dollar will be as worthless as the monopoly money.
So concerned am I about the impending collapse and the turmoil and trouble that will follow it, that I feel a Don Quixote desire to spread this warning and spare as many as I can from the heartache that will follow. To be truthful, however, I feel as John The Baptist, shouting in the wilderness "Make straight the way of the Lord".
Too many will not look at events and facts and take the time to dispassionately evaluate them, preferring instead to fall back on predetermined conditioning as to the accepted order of things and what they have been told to believe. Do you remember the 60's [I do], the wave of political unrest and questioning and protesting? There were debates on TV [when is the last time you saw a proper debate like they used to air?], protesters were given air time and the Vietnam war was stopped by political protest.
While under our capitalistic model, greed propelled growth and growth spawned waste. [Just check out our land-fills sometime]. In capitalism, a company has to either grow or die. Like fish in the sea, the bigger ones swallow the smaller ones and so get bigger. Companies gain political pressure, eventually becoming duopolies and monopolies capable of controlling economies and nations. These captains of industry work together to steer a nation in the direction which furthers their growth and profit, regardless of the social cost of such manoeuvring.
To maximise this headlong stampede to growth and wealth, there can be no better vehicle than war -war is the ultimate waste of human endeavour, life and natural resources.
The obstacle to this growth is the creation of capital - if pegged to a standard [say gold] then the expenditure is finite - it will match what you have in gold reserves. The FED skilfully and cleverly removed the Dollar, and subsequently other world currencies, from the gold standard; introduced worthless fiat money which they could mint to their heart's content. This coupled with the debt society and the path was set to exponential national debt. Totally, unrealistic debt which a country could never hope to repay.
All the time however, gold has been horded and stolen. When a person "buys gold" they don't get the gold they have bought - rather they get a piece of paper to say that they own a certain amount of gold. I call these "monopoly vouchers". Gold that was supposedly secured and held by the FED has transpired to be imaginary. Consider the episode whereby the FED refused an audit on the German gold being held - and agreed a delivery time of 7 years (yes, they will take seven years) to return to Germany what is rightfully theirs. Any reasonable person would ask, why was the gold not repatriated on demand? Surely if you own it and ask for it back, it is not unreasonable to expect immediate delivery? The most obvious answer is that it simply is not there.
The FED has engaged in fractional gold trading as they have done with fiat money. They have sold more than they hold and what is more, any full audit of the total certificates of gold held will show that it is more than known world gold reserves.
There was one hope only - that of wrestling power off the FED - to separate the FED from the control of money.
Executive Order 11110 AMENDMENT OF EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 10289
John F. Kennedy The White House, June 4, 1963.
By challenging the power of the FED and returning currency control to the government, J F Kennedy sealed his own fate - call it coincidence that both he and Lincoln met the same fate for similar actions.
With unlimited powers to print money and charge the government for it - the FED could feather the pocket of any corporation, government, NGO and individual that they desired. The concept that "everyone has a price" made it a simple matter for them to influence world events further emphasising the passage of Scripture;
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 1 Tim 6:10.
Although Executive Order 11110 has never been repealed [nor any other president tried to effect it] there reached a point very quickly, whereby it could not be executed as there simply was insufficient bullion to pay for the national debt. [Besides no president with the intestinal fortitude to challenge the FED].
Currently, there are some states talking about the introduction of their own currency, based on bullion. [Virginia is one, Utah is following suite]. Creating in effect, a dual economy - hold this thought as we will return to it later.
The New World Order [NWO] had tried to pre-empt this situation previously by the introduction of what was hoped to become a one World Currency - the Euro. [Or at least a currency to take over when the FED dollar crashed]. The actions of the central banks were firmly behind this move to take the sovereignty of nations by controlling the money supply. However, the move was a unmitigated disaster - just ask the PIGS group! The French are no better - they had to start a war against Libya to prevent Gaddafi withdrawing his Euro from French banks and establishing his Gold Dinar for Africa. French banks are teetering on the brink of collapse now, the demand for capital to be returned - capital that the banks do not have because of fractional banking - would have seen the bankruptcy of France. So once again a nation went to war for the banks.
The one currency cannot work - Greece can attest to that! They cannot compete against cheap imports from say Germany, while their exports are too small in revenue to meet their debt. By having to pay the same currency as Germany - they will never get out of the problem and continued increased loans, is just heaping coals upon the fire. If Greece had it's own currency, then it could devalue against the German currency [Euro] and so make further imports from Germany less attractive and exports from Greece, more attractive. Do you think the IMF masters would ever agree to that? No, they are too greedy and concerned for the worthless value of the loans that they have already advanced.
One thing I have noticed however, the Chinese people are not fools - they are astute businessmen. I have seen several reports of commentators visiting China and commenting on the number of new, modern cities that are built but not habited. Some have laughed at the situation and others have simply marvelled in wonderment at the purpose of these cities. I have an opinion as to the purpose of these cities and it goes like this.
China has been caught out holding vast sums of FED currency - after all, someone had to collect the money that was being printed. Some time ago, China came to the conclusion that this currency was actually worthless and they would not be able to redeem it in the future. The solution was to spend is as quickly as they could on tangible assets and resources. China has been buying up resources from around the world at an alarming rate - this buying spree has actually increased commodities prices much faster than any rise previously. The payment for all this resources going to China was worthless dollars. Not only that, but China has been on a buying spree purchasing farms and infrastructure around the world; I know that from events in New Zealand whereby China has taken a very keen interest in our dairy and beef farms - buying up one of the largest farms in New Zealand. The building of cities for future use is but an extension of this "prepper's" mentality. The divesting of US currency for something of value - spend it while you can and while it is still being accepted. [Similar to the concept I proposed in my previous article].
Whatever, someone is going to be left holding monopoly money; there is just so much of it out there and it has generated so much world debt. The eventual collapse of this currency will cause major ramifications for people and nations around the world.
Go back to my earlier comment about alternative currency based on bullion. The only escape for America is a drastic move; a move that would require courage and secrecy to carry out.
The American national debt is based on FED currency, whereas if Executive Order 11110 was enacted and currency minted by the government backed by bullion and guaranteed by the government in bullion was minted and distributed, the government would have it's own money with which to trade and maintain industry and public order. The debt having been effected in FED dollars, needs to be repaid in FED currency. The government could in effect, walk away from the debt and leave the FED holding it. In effect, the worthless FED currency can be dropped over night and with it all debt abolished that is based on that currency. All who are holding FED currency are holding fire fodder. The international ramifications of this are immense - what are the chances of this happening? Can it be done so secretly that the FED does not step in to kill it off before it is born? Or is the FED so arrogant that they are prepared to have the FED dollar fall into oblivion?
Some countries I feel, recognise this; countries such as Russia, China and Japan and this is partly behind the move to use their own currencies for trade between each other and the move to establish a "super currency" [proposed by Russia] for international trade. In doing so, they will lessen their exposure to the risk of holding FED currency and wrestle sovereign control of their currency from the NWO. Whatever the result, we are in for a period of austerity and responsible growth - expect a revaluation of all things that you own.
The questions to ask are; when will this happen - not if; and where will the International Travellers go when the FED collapses?
AUTHORITARIAN CONTROL - Apathy leads to the Inevitability of It Happening
I meet people that still believe that the world is fine. They believe things like:
The US government has plenty of money.
Government cares for its citizens.
The economy cannot crash.
We are not in a recession (Depression).
The lives of their children will be better than their own.
The government can continue to print money to fund promises they cannot afford.
Despite these untenable beliefs, these are not stupid people. Many are professionals who do quite well — doctors, lawyers, dentists, college professors, etc. They are not zombies, our walking dead, have no idea about what is happening around them no less the way things work in an economy, society or the world. It is our educated who should care yet seem to be oblivious to what lies ahead.
The ignorance and/or lack of concern of this group is perplexing and maddening. They are certainly capable of understanding. It is also in their interests to comprehend, as they are the ones who will lose the most. How does one open their eyes? What can they be shown to arouse them from their ignorance?
Sadly, I don’t have answers to these frustrating questions. It is not that others have not presented the information as much as these people refuse to acknowledge the implications. Are they all too busy? Are they idiot savants who are geniuses in their fields but not very smart away from it? Warnings come from many sources and from many different perspectives, yet they do not seem to penetrate the minds of those most capable of effecting change.
From a self-interest standpoint, this productive group should be the most concerned. After all, they are ground zero for the Socialist schemes that are destroying society. They are the ones that will be crushed in the redistribution dreams of our political class. Will they awaken too late? Or, will many of them just withdraw their productivity by retiring early, emigrating, etc.?
I don’t have answers to these questions, but I do know that this professional class is about to become prey for our predatory State. And, when that happens, they will hurt but not nearly as much as the rest of us.
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