As the most recent arctic air blast rushes across the Northwest, the economies of the world appear to be at a crossroads. The coming three months are critical in determining humanity’s path forward. Will we cower with fear or step bolding forward with faith and courage into the unknown?
The past five years have taken a toll on the psyche of the financial markets and those who participate in them. On one hand, the cards have been stacked for raging inflation to take hold and decimate the debt based currencies the world has come to rely on, on the other, this obvious outcome has been stayed because 1) it is obvious, meaning bets are disproportionately placed on the side of inflation and 2) in a debt based currency system, new currency creation by definition means new debt creation, as debt obligations have rolled over into lower interest obligations over the past five years, a heavy undercurrent of deflation has been running against the inflationary pressures.
It is becoming clear that the ACA is having a more dramatic impact on the US landscape than anticipated. The good news is that after a few months, most consumers fates will have been sealed, for better or worse, and many will be able to carry on. By extension, many companies will be ready to deploy the capital that they have accumulated over the past several years through cost cutting and debt restructuring (for lack of a better term). Again, the table is set for inflation, will the scenario play out?
Hugh Hendry seems to think so, ceding the obvious case that inflation in asset prices is to be a part of the investment landscape for the foreseeable future. In his December 2013 Eclectica investment letter, which can be read over at Zero Hedge via the link below, he appears to be throwing in the towel on the bear case. In doing so, he makes a revealing statement on the current state of equity markets:
“…I have had to put aside qualitative analysis and be in this trending market.” as “…Playing it safe may be the greatest risk of all.”
Ultimately, the case for inflation or deflation rests with the consumers of the world. Will they cower in fear or step out boldly in faith and courage? We believe the next three months will yield the answer to that question, and that they will step out boldly.
What’s with the Bitcoin Roller Coaster?
Bitcoins, which continue to garner attention on numerous planes, as a novelty, a speculative vehicle, and the answer to creating a worldwide currency and payment system, has seen its price swing from $550 to $1,200 and land around $760 at this writing.
The price swings are normal for such a small, relatively illiquid market. Any large scale adoption event, which in the final analysis, is the driver of Bitcoins’ price at this stage, triggers a sell-off by those who have learned to speculate in the crypto currency.
The latest large scale adoption event in question this past week has been the increased interest in the currency by the Chinese.
In a recent interview, Bobby Lee outlined the reasons he believes that Bitcoin has garnered considerable interest in China over the last several weeks. Lee has a front row seat to this phenomena from his post at BTC China and cites two main reasons that the Chinese have taken a keen interest in the crypto currency.
First, the Chinese are, on whole, extremely gifted in math and sciences, which makes the concept of a digital currency fit into the cultural nomenclature more readily. As simply understanding what Bitcoin is may be the biggest hurdle to adopting and using it, the Chinese have a cultural leg up on many other cultures.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, is that the Chinese are net savers. As such, they are constantly seeking out investments and places to park their savings for a rainy day. Bitcoins appear to offer a strange form of asset protection, despite the breathtaking volatility in their price, as they are limited in the number that will be created by an algorithm.
Finally, one must remember that China does still impose capital controls on its citizens. Bitcoin, while not its chief aim, gives the Chinese investor a handy tool by which to move his or her capital out of the country with their mobile phone or PC. Something that simply cannot be accomplished with a bank account.
The Chinese, like the Cypriots and Argentines, are finding their culturally specific use for the world’s most popular crypto currency, and the price action, which has ranged from $1,200 USD to $700 during the past 72 hours, reflects just how volatile a freely traded, finite global currency can be.
Bitcoins are a rough equivalent to gold in the digital realm, and, as Lee notes, volatility is not going away any time soon. Yet if one can see past the price movements to understand the value in what is essentially the world’s largest collective math problem, one will see that Bitcoins at any price serve a very important purpose: They capture the monetary premium in action.
At the Mint we, along with the rest of the world, follow current events with a wary understanding that the world is slowly destabilizing.
As international trade continues to collapse, energy that would otherwise be spent on productive activities is increasingly directed towards military preparations as nationalistic animosity rises to take its place.
As we studied our MBA in Barcelona back in 2003, our EU history professor speculated privately to us that the US invasion of Iraq had more to do with keeping an eye on China than any existential threat that Iraq posed at the time.
Circa 2012, his words seem almost prophetic. Now, as the Israeli/Iranian nuclear rhetoric continues to escalate, there is a new conflict over an old dispute in the East China Sea between China and Japan which, if it continues to escalate, could theoretically force the US into hostilities with China.
It is hard to image a worse scenario in both Iran and China. At the same, it is hard to imagine a more likely scenario as world governments increasingly look for distractions to a failure of domestic economic policies.
As always, Statfor provides informed insight for the geographically challenged such as ourselves in the following report. Enjoy and stay fresh!
Sept. 29 will mark 40 years of normalized diplomatic relations between China and Japan, two countries that spent much of the 20th century in mutual enmity if not at outright war. The anniversary comes at a low point in Sino-Japanese relations amid a dispute over an island chain in the East China Sea known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan and Diaoyu Islands in China.
These islands, which are little more than uninhabited rocks, are not particularly valuable on their own. However, nationalist factions in both countries have used them to enflame old animosities; in China, the government has even helped organize the protests over Japan’s plan to purchase and nationalize the islands from their private owner. But China’s increased assertiveness is not limited only to this issue. Beijing has undertaken a high-profile expansion and improvement of its navy as a way to help safeguard its maritime interests, which Japan — an island nation necessarily dependent on access to sea-lanes — naturally views as a threat. Driven by its economic and political needs, China’s expanded military activity may awaken Japan from the pacifist slumber that has characterized it since the end of World War II.
An Old Conflict’s New Prominence
The current tensions surrounding the disputed islands began in April. During a visit to the United States, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, a hard-line nationalist known for his 1989 book The Japan That Can Say No, which advocated for a stronger international role for Japan not tied to U.S. interests or influence, said that the Tokyo municipal government was planning to buy three of the five Senkaku/Diaoyu islands from their private Japanese owner. Ishihara’s comments did little to stir up tensions at the time, but subsequent efforts to raise funds and press forward with the plan drew the attention and ultimately the involvement of the Japanese central government. The efforts also gave China a way to distract from its military and political standoff with the Philippines over control of parts of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
For decades, Tokyo and Beijing generally abided by a tacit agreement to keep the islands dispute quiet. Japan agreed not to carry out any new construction or let anyone land on the islands; China agreed to delay assertion of any claim to the islands and not let the dispute interfere with trade and political relations. Although flare-ups occurred, usually triggered by some altercation between the Japanese coast guard and Chinese fishing vessels or by nationalist Japanese or Chinese activists trying to land on the islands, the lingering territorial dispute played only a minor role in bilateral relations.
However, Ishihara’s plans for the Tokyo municipal government to take over the islands and eventually build security outposts there forced the Japanese government’s hand. Facing domestic political pressure to secure Japan’s claim to the islands, the government determined that the “nationalization” of the islands was the least contentious option. By keeping control over construction and landings, the central government would be able to keep up its side of the tacit agreement with China on managing the islands.
China saw Japan’s proposed nationalization as an opportunity to exploit. Even as Japan was debating what action to take, China began stirring up anti-Japanese sentiment and Beijing tacitly backed the move by a group of Hong Kong activists in August to sail to and land on the disputed islands. At the same time, Beijing prevented a Chinese-based fishing vessel from attempting the same thing, using Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous status as a way to distance itself from the action and retain greater flexibility in dealing with Japan.
As expected, the Japanese coast guard arrested the Hong Kong activists and impounded their ship, but Tokyo also swiftly released them to avoid escalating tensions. Less than a month later, after Japan’s final decision to purchase the islands from their private Japanese owner, anti-Japanese protests swept China, in many places devolving into riots and vandalism targeting Japanese products and companies. Although many of these protests were stage-managed by the government, the Chinese began to clamp down when some demonstrations got out of control. While still exploiting the anti-Japanese rhetoric, Chinese state-run media outlets have highlighted local governments’ efforts to identify and punish protesters who turned violent and warn that nationalist pride is no excuse for destructive behavior.
Presently, both China and Japan are working to keep the dispute within manageable parameters after a month of heightened tensions. China has shifted to disrupting trade with Japan on a local level, with some Japanese products reportedly taking much longer to clear customs, while Japan has dispatched a deputy foreign minister for discussions with Beijing. Chinese maritime surveillance ships continue to make incursions into the area around the disputed islands, and there are reports of hundreds or even thousands of Chinese fishing vessels in the East China Sea gathered near the waters around the islands, but both Japan and China appear to be controlling their actions. Neither side can publicly give in on its territorial stance, and both are looking for ways to gain politically without allowing the situation to degrade further.
Political Dilemmas in Beijing and Tokyo
The islands dispute is occurring as China and Japan, the world’s second- and third-largest economies, are both experiencing political crises at home and facing uncertain economic paths forward. But the dispute also reflects the very different positions of the two countries in their developmental history and in East Asia’s balance of power.
China, the emerging power in Asia, has seen decades of rapid economic growth but is now confronted with a systemic crisis, one already experienced by Japan in the early 1990s and by South Korea and the other Asian tigers later in the decade. China is reaching the limits of the debt-financed, export-driven economic model and must now deal with the economic and social consequences of this change. That this comes amid a once-in-a-decade leadership transition only exacerbates China’s political unease as it debates options for transitioning to a more sustainable economic model. But while China’s economic expansion may have plateaued, its military development is still growing.
The Chinese military is becoming a more modern fighting force, more active in influencing Chinese foreign policy and more assertive of its role regionally. The People’s Liberation Army Navy on Sept. 23 accepted the delivery of China’s first aircraft carrier, and the ship serves as a symbol of the country’s military expansion. While Beijing views the carrier as a tool to assert Chinese interests regionally (and perhaps around the globe over the longer term) in the same manner that the United States uses its carrier fleet, for now China has only one, and the country is new to carrier fleet and aviation operations. Having a single carrier offers perhaps more limitations than opportunities for its use, all while raising the concerns and inviting reaction from neighboring states.
Japan, by contrast, has seen two decades of economic malaise characterized by a general stagnation in growth, though not necessarily a devolution of overall economic power. Still, it took those two decades for the Chinese economy, growing at double-digit rates, to even catch the Japanese economy. Despite the malaise, there is plenty of latent strength in the Japanese economy. Japan’s main problem is its lack of economic dynamism, a concern that is beginning to be reflected in Japanese politics, where new forces are rising to challenge the political status quo. The long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party lost power to the opposition Democratic Party of Japan in 2009, and both mainstream parties are facing new challenges from independents, non-traditional candidates and the emerging regionalist parties, which espouse nationalism and call for a more aggressive foreign policy.
Even before the rise of the regionalist parties, Japan had begun moving slowly but inexorably from its post-World War II military constraints. With China’s growing military strength, North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and even South Korean military expansion, Japan has cautiously watched as the potential threats to its maritime interests have emerged, and it has begun to take action. The United States, in part because it wants to share the burden of maintaining security with its allies, has encouraged Tokyo’s efforts to take a more active role in regional and international security, commensurate with Japan’s overall economic influence.
Concurrent with Japan’s economic stagnation, the past two decades have seen the country quietly reform its Self-Defense Forces, expanding the allowable missions as it re-interprets the country’s constitutionally mandated restrictions on offensive activity. For example, Japan has raised the status of the defense agency to the defense ministry, expanded joint training operations within its armed forces and with their civilian counterparts, shifted its views on the joint development and sale of weapons systems, integrated more heavily with U.S. anti-missile systems and begun deploying its own helicopter carriers.
Contest for East Asian Supremacy
China is struggling with the new role of the military in its foreign relations, while Japan is seeing a slow re-emergence of the military as a tool of its foreign relations. China’s two-decade-plus surge in economic growth is reaching its logical limit, yet given the sheer size of China’s population and its lack of progress switching to a more consumption-based economy, Beijing still has a long way to go before it achieves any sort of equitable distribution of resources and benefits. This leaves China’s leaders facing rising social tensions with fewer new resources at their disposal. Japan, after two decades of society effectively agreeing to preserve social stability at the cost of economic restructuring and upheaval, is now reaching the limits of its patience with a bureaucratic system that is best known for its inertia.
Both countries are seeing a rise in the acceptability of nationalism, both are envisioning an increasingly active role for their militaries, and both occupy the same strategic space. With Washington increasing its focus on the Asia-Pacific region, Beijing is worried that a resurgent Japan could assist the United States on constraining China in an echo of the Cold War containment strategy.
We are now seeing the early stage of another shift in Asian power. It is perhaps no coincidence that the 1972 re-establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Japan followed U.S. President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China. The Senkaku/Diaoyu islands were not even an issue at the time, since they were still under U.S. administration. Japan’s defense was largely subsumed by the United States, and Japan had long ago traded away its military rights for easy access to U.S. markets and U.S. protection. The shift in U.S.-China relations opened the way for the rapid development of China-Japan relations.
The United States’ underlying interest is maintaining a perpetual balance between Asia’s two key powers so neither is able to challenging Washington’s own primacy in the Pacific. During World War II, this led the United States to lend support to China in its struggle against imperial Japan. The United States’ current role backing a Japanese military resurgence against China’s growing power falls along the same line. As China lurches into a new economic cycle, one that will very likely force deep shifts in the country’s internal political economy, it is not hard to imagine China and Japan’s underlying geopolitical balance shifting again. And when that happens, so too could the role of the United States.
According to reports on Chinese imports of gold from Hong Kong, the People’s Republic is on track to import more gold bullion in 2012 than the entire official holdings of the ECB. What does it mean for us, fellow taxpayer? Our guest contributor Brad Evans, who is writing on behalf of BullionVault, explores this economic trend and possible implications for your portfolio in the following insightful editorial. Enjoy and stay fresh!
Should You Accumulate Gold Like China?
In recent years, much has been written and speculated about the idea of Chinese authorities buying up massive amounts of gold bullion. Indeed, the amount of gold going to China has increased notably over the course of the past few years, and it certainly seems as if the country is making a concerted effort to accumulate a great deal of the precious metal resource. Is this just a passing trend, representative of independent economic movements, or a greater strategy with implications for the worldwide economy? Ultimately that remains to be seen, but one result of China’s accumulation of gold bullion is clear.
With many of the world’s dominant economies located in the United States and the Euro zone, the U.S. and countries that use the Euro generally prefer to keep the cost of gold low, if possible, so as to avoid the strengthening of the resource against their respective currencies. As things stand now, and have for some time, the U.S. dollar and the Euro are generally seen as popular reserve currencies, meaning that people in other economic zones frequently turn to the U.S. dollar and the Euro as the ultimate safe haven. As long as the price of gold remains relatively low, the dollar and Euro remain strong as reserve currencies. Therefore, it is plain to see why China buying up massive amounts of gold bullion may lead to an unwanted shift in gold prices that could take the focus away from the reserve currency status that U.S. dollar and Euro enjoy.
Perhaps more important for many people is how this economic strategy of China’s could affect your finances. World economic trends will come and go, and economies will strengthen and weaken accordingly – but can you benefit from buying up gold bullion in your personal life, on a smaller scale, in the same way that China hopes to benefit in the long run internationally? While you certainly can’t hope to influence any worldwide economic trends on your own – accumulating gold bullion may not be a bad strategy to consider if you feel that the price of gold will be rising relative to other assets in the coming years.
Buying gold bullion is simple enough. You just need to head to a precious metal trading site such a s BullionVault, where you can buy and sell gold as you please according to constantly updated world prices. These sites also offer you various convenient and secure storage options, meaning that if you want to you can easily accumulate a great deal of gold bullion. However, before making this or any investment decision it is important to formulate a sound investment strategy. For example, if you are looking for short-term stability or gains, gold investment may be risky at the moment, as the dollar is strengthening and gold may be weakening. But for long-term gains, this may be a strategy worth considering.
This has been a guest post on behalf of BullionVault, written by freelancer Brad Evans.
The following is a Mint classic in its original form. Can the simplicity of Benford’s law, a statistical proof of the law of diminishing marginal returns, explain lower relative growth rates in developed economies? Judge for yourself:
2/4/2011 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…
For anyone who read yesterday’s Mint, you will be happy to know that we do not recall any of our dreams from last night. We did, however, send inquiries to members of the Arkansas legislature to see if they could help us interpret our dream about them. We do not anticipate any response but you never know. If anyone can help to explain it we figure it would be them. Please do not ask why we dreamt about the Arkansas Legislature, for we have no answer.
What we can do, however, is to continue to develop our current hypothesis. As you may recall from yesterday‘s Mint, it is:
“As a predominantly Engineered (Socialist) economy becomes less Engineered and more Organic (Capitalist), it experiences exponentially increasing rates of economic growth. Conversely as a predominantly Organic economy becomes more Engineered, it experiences exponentially decreasing rates of economic growth.”
We will define economic growth as an increase in capital goods within an economy. For lack of a better measure, we have looked at year over year GDP growth in the East and the West. We say for lack of a better measure because in the current insane monetary system where debt is money and money is debt, it is arguable that what is measured as GDP growth is actually the rate at which the economy is cannibalizing itself. But that is a subject for a different day.
For the sake of simplicity, we further postulate that the Eastern economies (China, Japan, etc.) more closely resemble “Engineered” or state controlled economies and that Western Economies (US, France, etc.) more closely resemble “Organic” or Capitalist economies. These may not be perfect definitions on a country by country basis but the general distinction between East and West will give us a good starting point in trying to confirm or deny our hypothesis on a country by country basis. Naturally, the US and China, the world’s largest trade relationship, should be our first case study.
What complicates matters is that there does not exist, to our knowledge, a perfectly Organic nor a perfectly Engineered economy on the planet that would be available for study. Rather, we will encounter a jumbled mix of qualities within a country that will make it seem at once Organic and Engineered. What we are looking for, then, is evidence that and economy is becoming generally more Organic or generally less Engineered and vice versa.
If our hypothesis is correct, we would expect to see an Eastern economy, which is moving from a state of being Engineered to a state of being allowed to grow Organically, grow its GDP at a faster rate year over year than an economy that is moving from a state of Organic growth to a state of being Engineered. We expect that Organic growth not only creates wealth faster but does a better job of maintaining the capital that has been previously accumulated. On the other hand, any attempt to Engineer an economy has the consequence of destroying capital and reducing wealth on a net basis.
We must say up front that part of this growth has to do with an interesting statistical nuance that is known as “Benford’s Law.” In summary, Benford’s Law states that:
“in lists of numbers from many (but not all) real-life sources of data, the leading digit is distributed in a specific, non-uniform way.”
Benford’s Law appears to flay in the face of logic. Why don’t the leading digits (1-9) simply occur 10% of the time, as logic may suggest? The reason is that, as something grows exponentially, as the GDP of an Organic Economy may, the data sets produced such as GDP measured in terms of dollars tend to take longer to double from 1 to 2, or from 1,000,000 to 2,000,000, than they do to double from say 2,000,000 to 4,000,0000, etc. The tendency is so strong and widespread that it even applies to the measurement of natural phenomenon such as earthquakes, infectious diseases, and even pulsars! Should it come as any surprise that it applies to a country’s GDP measurement as well?
Can Bedford’s Law Explain Higher GDP Growth Rates for Developing Countrie
What does this have to do with our hypothesis? We are still wondering ourselves, but we think it has something to do with how the GDP growth percentage increase is measured. For a rapidly increasing GDP number, as we would expect to see in a developing economy moving from an Engineered state to an Organic state, the percentage increases would appear greater for data points between 1,000,000 and 2,000,000, for example. Since Bedford’s Law says that roughly 30% of the readings will start with one, as a smaller economy doubles in size, its rates of GDP growth expressed as a percentage will be higher than those of an economy moving from, say, 2,000,000 to 3,000,000. This rate of exponential growth would decrease and perhaps turn negative in an economy moving from an Organic state to an Engineered state.
To sum it up, the higher GDP growth percentage of an economy becoming less Engineered is because the Engineered economy is starting the GDP growth race from a very low GDP number. Logic and Benford’s Law dictate that it will outpace growth rates of the already high GDP Organic economies.
As an economy, once you’ve gone Organic, there is no turning back. The longer you stay Organic, the more dangerous becomes any attempt to Engineer it. The Dodd-Frank Financial Reform and Health Care Reform are large scale attempts to further Engineer the US’s Organic economy. Is it any wonder, then, that its growth rates should lag those of the East?
What a week it has been, and we are only halfway through it! Societe Generale, BNP Paribas, and many other European banks are bracing for the impact of a pending Greek default which would likely be followed in short order by an Irish, Spanish, Portuguese, and possibly Italian default as club med prepares to give the collective finger to their German, ECB, and IMF taskmasters.
There were rumors that BNP could not borrow dollars yesterday and today we saw why. The large French banks, of which BNP at $2 Trillion in assets is the largest, collectively hold assets of $8 Billion, which is four times France’s annual GDP. This, in theory, makes nationalization of these banks impossible and the meager, strings attached handouts offered by China are of little comfort.
Zerohedge.com posted an excerpt of a report by Jeffries which spelled out a probable endgame scenario in Europe which involves sloppy nationalizations of the financial sector and a repudiation of the Euro by the defaulting countries in order to print the drachmas, pesetas, liras, etc. necessary to make good on the newly nationalized banks’ liabilities.
The PIGS have nothing to lose at this point and it will be EUROUGLY for those who cling to the Euro.
We are all preparing to learn a great lesson about faith in paper currencies and it looks like for the Europeans, class is in session.
Yesterday, we were attempting to explain the concept of inflation coming in disguise. We speculated that the disguise would come in the form of a “10:1 reverse split” being declared for the current USD. In other words, a new US Dollar would be introduced which would be worth 10 old US dollars. We left off with a question, “What’s the big deal? Why does this matter?”
This, of course, is what most monetary and governmental representatives think as well. It makes the move almost a no-brainer.
We must beware of the money changers! They seem innocent, yet are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Yes, fellow taxpayer, under the reverse split scenario, dollar holders will be robbed. Quietly, and, if not for the following humble explanation, completely unaware. It is as Keynes famously said:
“The best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens”
(Editor’s note: today inflation is accepted as “sound” economic policy thanks to meddlers such as Mr. Keynes.)
How, then, will dollar holders have their wealth confiscated? A change like this initially robs those who can least afford to be robbed, the poor. And the thievery is made all the more sinister because the thieves employ unwitting merchants and tax collectors with which to fleece them.
The following is a practical example of how the theft will take place:
One would be hard pressed to find a more suitable and pleasant example if instant price inflation than that of the Spanish cup of coffee, pleasantly sipped at mid-morning with friends and colleagues.
This cup of coffee, a constitutional right of Spaniards for generations, could be enjoyed for a mere 100 pesetas circa 1995, in the era before the peseta was to be pegged and converted into the then conceptual Euro currency.
This 100 peseta price held more or less firm until the Euro coins began to circulate in 2002. The Euro/Peseta conversion rate had been pegged at 166.386:1 in 1995. In 2002, the same cup of coffee was now 1 Euro, an overnight 66% increase.
The numbers may not be exact but you get the point. Currency changes offer a grand opportunity for price adjustments at the lower end. While on the surface, it appears that a cup of coffee that costs 1 monetary unit compared to one that costs 100 monetary units is an improvement. In fact, considering that many wages remained stagnant, it represented a considerable deterioration of overall purchasing power.
To this day, many Spaniards think of prices for larger items such as cars and houses in terms of pesetas. It is one thing to be duped on the value of a cup of coffee, quite another to be duped on the value of a car or house.
For a time, asset prices there did indeed rise as an indirect result of people fleeing the inflation caused by the change to the Euro. However, the devil of inflation is in the details. An overnight 66% increase in a cup of coffee can eat into a laborer’s stagnant wages quickly.
Once the transitory asset price increases have been burned through at the café, one is left with a nation that is collectively poorer and unable to make economic decisions because of these types of stealth price shifts.
Returning to the probable US Dollar reverse split, we can see that a 10:1 change from old to new dollars would likely result in a cup of coffee going for a nice round quarter (or 25 new cents). Which sounds like a trip back to the 70’s until you consider that we are talking about $2.50 of the old dollars for a plain cup of coffee which could be had for $1.50 before the switch.
One can rest assured, employers will be mindful to move the decimal point and nothing more on wage calculations. Voila! Overnight poverty, all with the stroke of a pen.
While one may hold out hope that any change in the monetary unit will be price neutral, the Spanish example shows us that lipstick on a pig does not make it any prettier, and coffee at 1 Euro is no tastier than it was at 100 pesetas, just more expensive.
We pray that you will prepare yourself by saving in gold and silver coins, which will retain and perhaps increase their relative value under such a scenario. Under current conditions (and probably more so after the G-7 begin to their coordinated action) anything that cannot be created by government decree, to paraphrase Michael Pento, will be preferable as a savings vehicle to the US Dollar.
Today’s Call: Yield on 10yr US Treasury bond to fall (price to rise). Currently 2.962%. Rationale:China warned today that a US default would be very harmful to many nations of the world, most of all China. While we believe that the US will eventually default, in the short term this type of news should be traded against. Short term safe haven buying will overwhelm any selling on this news. Result of Call for June 3, 2011: Caterpillar (CAT) to fall. Was $101.10, Currently $97.91. Good Call. Calls to Date: Good Calls: 27, Bad Calls: 18, Batting .600
*See FED Perceived Economic Effect Rate Chart at bottom of blog. This rate is the FED Target rate with a 39 month lag, representing the time it takes for the FED Target rate changes to affect the real economy. This is a 39 months head start that the FED member banks have on the rest of us on using the new money that is created.
It appears that the Chinese Socialist / Communist Experiment is beginning to rapidly unravel. From AP:
Rising prices are a political threat to China’s communist leaders and they have declared taming inflation their priority. But they suffered a setback in March, when a double-digit jump in food costs pushed inflation to a 32-month high of 5.4 percent. That was despite four interest rate hikes since October, curbs on bank lending and government orders to producers to hold down price increases.
Logically, this means price controls…
Attempts at price controls, subsidies for the poor and orders to local leaders to guarantee adequate vegetable supplies have had mixed results.
But price controls have nasty side effects…
In the southeast, export regions are suffering power shortages that force factories to suspend production every other day. Power companies are squeezed between low state-set rates and high gas and coal prices, so they have avoided adding more generating capacity despite double-digit annual increases in demand.
Enough said, right? But My favorite part is where the government promises to “manage” vegetable prices…
“I think you should have confidence in the Chinese government’s capability in managing vegetable prices well,” said a deputy commerce minister, Fu Ziying, at a news conference this week. He gave no time frame for when inflation might subside.
Centrally managing an economy is a futile and destructive exercise. Price controls of any kind inevitably lead to shortages. The Chinese are now taking a step backwards on their road to a Capitalist economic model.
Unfortunately, when you take a step backwards out of a high speed train going 400km per hour (which is what the Chinese economy essentially is), you can imagine that the results are not pretty. Unfortunately, the Chinese authorities are about to push the Chinese People off of the train.