A great technology solves a problem that we didn’t know we had. It makes us aware of deprivations we didn’t know existed until we discover the new thing. Once discovered, we can’t go back.People in the 1950s, for example, never missed the smart phone. They were pleased to have a phone at all. But today, […]
Fifty years after the 1929 crash, a group of money managers and investment thinkers put together a collection of essays looking back at that experience. The result was a distillation of some pretty fine investment wisdom. Timely, I think, to review now.One of the contributors was Arthur Zeikel, then with Merrill Lynch. The title of […]
Although the mainstream media have turned its attention away from the wreckage of Obamacare, don’t think for a second that all is well.As the politicos in D.C. focus their attention on the midterm elections in November, now is a great time to study, prepare, and seek out the most affordable, accessible, and highest quality options […]
Turn on the tube and economic ignorance seems to be everywhere. There is constant shilling for more government. Business is demonized. Man is said to be trashing the environment. “Workers and women are oppressed” is the constant mantra.And members of the clueless media nod their heads in unison.Only John Stossel has provided the fresh air […]
In early July 1944, delegates from 44 countries gathered at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. A three-week summit took place, at which a new system was agreed to regulate the international monetary and financial order after the Second World War.The U.S. was already the world’s commercial powerhouse, having eclipsed the British […]
In the minds of many people around the world, including in the United States, the term “capitalism” carries the idea of unfairness, exploitation, undeserved privilege and power, and immoral profit making. What is often difficult to get people to understand is that this misplaced conception of “capitalism” has nothing to do with real free markets […]
Some people are saying it is just what the doctor ordered. Others are saying that the cure is worse than the disease.The Affordable Care Act? Reengagement in Iraq? Tea Party bullying in the GOP?Not this time. Just as protracted in the corridors of Congress and the White House is the debate over the proposed reform […]
In 2012, money mandarins running the European Union chose stagnation over restructuring. Here’s a consequence of that choice: expectations for a self-sustaining economic recovery keep getting crushed.Two years ago, European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi promised to do “whatever it takes” to hold the eurozone together. He bluffed nervous investors into believing in a […]
People jacked up about income inequality can find a new hobby. The 1% are victims of a doomsday machine, and the countdown is ticking. Machine, thy name is “family.”This came to mind as I was reading a preview of Columbia Professor Andrew Ang’s forthcoming, must-read book on Asset Management. Ang is that oxymoron, an exciting […]
It might sound like the latest new product from Apple, but IPAB is actually the newest major legal challenge to Obamacare.Recently, a three-judge panel in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco heard arguments about the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, a 15-member panel created by the Affordable Care Act and empowered […]
Americans have come to believe that the IRS and the income tax are inevitable parts of our lives. After all, most everyone alive today has lived his entire life under federal income taxation.It wasn’t always that way. For some 125 years, the American people lived without having any tax imposed upon their income.The obvious question […]
Here’s a fun fact: Although we all hate the U.S. dollar, as it continues to hemorrhage wealth, its foothold as the world’s reserve currency isn’t going to disappear overnight.A Russian gas deal with China won’t change that — as we’ll highlight below.But before we get to the nitty-gritty, let’s dive into a story that’s right […]
Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously used the term “forgotten man” in a 1932 speech to describe those at the bottom of the economic pyramid who, he felt, government should aid.But the originator of the phrase “forgotten man” had a whole different meaning in mind. He aimed to expose the seeming good intentions of government to reveal […]
The Keynesian disaster recovery plan has been to lower rates, force people to take more risk in search of yield, and entice others to borrow and spend and, magically, more jobs will be created. If people won’t buy stocks, central banks will.Back in 2011, Ben Bernanke, when asked if QE2 was driving up stock prices, […]
I want to share some insight and give you a front-row seat to America’s next big shale play.Let’s get to it…Over the past 10 years, the U.S. has turned the ship around, quite literally.We’ve gone from a country that was expecting to import massive amounts of oil and gas — to a country that’s sitting […]
Whatever your views on the role of government, one thing is clear: There will be no way to pay for it if the economy doesn’t grow. And I’m not talking by a measly percentage point or two. If we can’t find our way back to 5% annual economic growth or above soon, America’s accumulated federal […]
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumer prices are rising at a 2.1% annual rate. This suggests to us that the current stock market boom will die with a bang, rather than a whimper.Fed economists say they don’t think inflation rates are rising. They think the most recent reading is a fluke. But why […]
Politicians love raising the minimum wage because they don’t have to ask voters to pay more in taxes. They just dump the costs onto shop owners. But they don’t act like politicians and go into debt to pretend like they have all the money in the world. They face real world situations. And sometimes that means replacing workers with more affordable options...
Regulation is supposed to keep you safe and make the economy function smoothly. At least that’s what they tell you in the news. But there’s another cost to regulation. One that you won’t hear about unless you have to deal with directly. And for the people in the economy who do, they’re the ones who have to pay the final cost.
The experts will tell you the recession is over, but they’re only torturing the data to hide the truth. The economy never recovered from the downturn it experienced. But the downturn happened in 2000, not 2008. The country’s been in the middle of a 14 year recession and hardly anyone knows the truth.
Every time Bitcoin crashes, it winds up at a price greater than it’s previous high. Yet the experts still call it a currency fad that will fade away. But a little over a year since it really took up, the digital currency is still going strong, and is once again seeing its price rise. But is there another reason why people are buying Bitcoins.
All paper currency has a shelf life. It could be 5 years or 500 years, but at some point, the value of any paper currency eventually reaches zero. That's why, for centuries, people have turned to one shiny metal to safeguard their personal store of wealth. And, as Jim Rickards explains, you still have that option. Read on...
According to some estimates, one man - whose name you're probably not familiar with - has saved over a billion lives. Who is he? And how has he influenced the current crop of innovators? Josh Grasmick explains...
It’s a destructive cycle that comes around everytime your politicians ask you to take to the polls. The government’s meddling creates unexpected problems that eventually overshadow the planners’ original intentions. But that only leads the way for even more interventions.
Politicians love inflation. It’s a way to pay for the government’s debts without upsetting the public by raising taxes, or their special interests by cutting government. So they’ll flood the economy with easy money and eat away at your savings. But that’s only part of the story...
You can count the number of people who went to jail over the 2008 financial crisis on one hand. Which is strange considering the U.S. loves to put people away in jail. But as one author discovered in his most recent book, having the right connections and a big enough bank account, can protect you from even the worst crimes.
Obama recently claimed this was the “Decade of the Brain”. But it not the first time the government made that promise. The last time they did it, they wasted millions of your tax dollars. Now they’re back for round two. But this time, their failure could mean more than squandered money. It could mean making Alzheimer’s even worse for those who suffer from it.
World unemployment is on the verge of breaking new records. This trend will continue until 2017. That’s the news from the International Labour Organization (ILO) in their annual employment report.
Currently, 2009 is the record year for world joblessness, at 198 million. In its 2012 Global Employment Trends report (source), the ILO believes unemployment numbers will rise by over 5 million this year to reach 202 million, topping 2009′s record.
The report goes on to predict that unemployment will rise further in 2014, to reach 205 million. “Unemployment remains as dire as it was during the crisis in 2009,” Ekkehard Ernst, chief of the ILO’s employment trends unit, told CNBC.
But how could this be? More Keynesian monetary power has been thrown at the global meltdown than ever in history. And why? To bring down unemployment. That’s the problem that the Keynesian prescription is supposed to fix.
The U.S. central bank has increased its balance sheet from less than $900 billion pre-crash to a new record of $2.946 trillion on Jan. 16. The growth is expected to continue to $4 trillion with its latest plan to purchase $85 billion in Treasury and mortgage debt each and every month until the headline unemployment rate in the U.S. falls to 6.5%.
The Japanese government insists it’s a major change that the Bank of Japan agreed recently to launch an “open-ended” commitment to ending deflation through asset purchases and adopted, for the first time, a firm 2% inflation target in a document jointly issued with political leaders. Somehow, everyone forgets the Japanese central bank has been stimulating that economy for more than two decades to no avail.
ECB chairman Mario Draghi has become the leader of the European Union. He wasn’t elected by the people, but was elevated as such when he vowed to do “whatever it takes” to preserve the euro. He’s now the face of the ECU. The Daily Bell writes,
“Therein lies the evidence of Draghi’s divinity. He has vowed, like Beowulf pursuing Grendel, to slay the beast of European dissonance. His weapon is currency debasement, and his lair is the magnificence of the ECB headquarters.
He is, according to Reuters, a hero for the ages, at once modest and savvy, confident and yet inclusive. He is a leader of men and a wonderful wielder of the public purse.”
Draghi was the Financial Times person of the year last year, the same honor bestowed on Ben Bernanke by Time magazine in 2009. In fact, Time called Draghi the “savior of Europe” last year, while Bernanke’s picture graced the cover of The Atlantic above bold letters “THE HERO.”
Yes, Keynesians believe more money and lower rates equal less unemployment. Central bankers have been elevated to godlike status, but the BOJ’s, Bernanke’s, and Draghi’s not-so-secret sauce clearly hasn’t worked.
Sure, many of the newly unemployed live outside the developed world, but when Ben and Mario start printing, the effects are felt all over the world.
“The main transmission mechanism of global spillovers has been through international trade, but regions such as Latin America and the Caribbean have also suffered from increased volatility of international capital flows,” the CNBC report said.
The ILO also added, “The indecision of policymakers in several countries has led to uncertainty about future conditions and reinforced corporate tendencies to increase cash holdings or pay dividends, rather than expand capacity and hire new workers.”
Indecisive? Hardly. Central bankers have one tool — money printing. They do it either fast or slow. They already collectively have the pedal to the metal and are on the verge of flipping the jet propulsion switch.
However, Christina Romer, former chairwoman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, writes in the Gray Lady that the Fed has moved slowly, and wonders, “Why are some policymakers threatening to undo the recent actions?” She’s referring to comments by presidents at two Midwestern Federal Reserve banks.
“It is a very aggressive policy, and it is making me a little bit nervous that we are overcommitting to the easy policy,” St. Louis Fed President James Bullard told reporters after a speech to the Wisconsin Bankers Association. “We are taking risk.”
Kansas City Federal Reserve President Esther George, sounding almost Austrian, said, “Monetary policy, by contributing to financial imbalances and instability, can just as easily aggravate unemployment as heal it.”
Romer and her husband, professor David Romer, believe pessimistic attitudes have hampered the central bank’s effectiveness. The Romers write in a paper titled “The Most Dangerous Idea in Federal Reserve History: Monetary Policy Doesn’t Matter” that pessimists at the Fed during the early 1930s led to “inaction in the face of the largest downturn in American history.”
That sounds good, except the Fed did all it could to expand the money supply. In his book America’s Great Depression, Murray Rothbard chronicles the Fed’s continued actions from after the stock market crash of 1929 to 1932. Jeffrey Tucker quoted Rothbard at length in a recent article.
Following the stock market crash, Rothbard writes that the government’s easy money program dropped rediscount rates 42%. Despite this move, the money supply remained constant while production and employment fell.
In 1931, the Fed did its best to inflate by raising controlled reserves. Citizens foiled this plan by converting their bank accounts to currency. Rothbard writes that “the will of the public caused bank reserves to decline by $400 million in the latter half of 1931, and the money supply, as a consequence, fell by over $4 billion in the same period.”
The next year, while the Fed stimulated, banks did not lend the money out, but instead piled up excess reserves. Just as banks have done in the current crisis. “Naturally,” Rothbard continues, “the banks, deeply worried by the bank failures that had been and were still taking place, were reluctant to expand their deposits further, and failed to do so.”
Rothbard, evidently, isn’t on the Romers’ reading list. Today, the Fed is peddling as fast as it can, but commercial bankers and their regulators have their feet on the brakes. Maybe borrowers want to borrow when rates are low, but lenders sure don’t want to lend, especially while they are still licking their wounds from the real estate crash.
It was the same in the early 1930s. As Rothbard summarized:
“In a time of depression and financial crisis, banks will be reluctant to lend or invest, (a) to avoid endangering the confidence of their customers, and (b) to avoid the risk of lending to or investing in ventures that might default. The artificial cheap money policy in 1932 greatly lowered interest rates all around, and, therefore, further discouraged the banks from making loans or investments.”
Businesses are storing cash, waiting for the smoke to clear. Hiring people is expensive, and the Fed has trampled the primary signaling mechanism to the market. Austrian economists would say that these low rates only serve to deceive entrepreneurs into believing that people have saved more than they really have and that money should be invested in higher-order goods, such as factories and equipment.
In that case, these low rates only prop up the prices of real estate and other capital assets that likely need more downward adjustment from the boom. A normalization of rates will hasten that process and get people back to work.
But don’t hold your breath. After all, Romer isn’t reading Rothbard, and central bankers aren’t perusing this space. They’ll keep printing money that goes only to Wall Street speculation, the press will call them heroes, and you’ll still be stuck trying to find your way out of their mess.
How do you navigate the topsy-turvy world created by these superhuman central banker heroes? Addison Wiggin has seen this train coming for years. Here are 47 ways you can protect yourself from a shrinking dollar.
More unemployment will mean more money printing, which will mean more unemployment, which will mean… surely you have it by now.