Saturday, January 3, 2015

Phantom GDP, Deflationary QE and Releasing the Consumer Kraken

Money Daily stopped being a daily post blog in March, 2014. While the name remains the same, the posts are now on an intermittent basis, as conditions warrant, though it is advised to read the archives (from 2006-2014) regularly, even daily, for insights and historical perspective.

OK, this is a little mind exercise for the new year.

Capital consists of money, labor, and resources (land, materials, machinery, buildings, infrastructure).

The Fed has control of just one of these three essential tenets of economy: money.

They make it out of nothing (to be more succinct, they create money from government debt - the Mandrake Mechanism, well-explained by G. Edward Griffin, in his expose of the Federal Reserve, The Creature from Jekyll Island - there are PDFs of this book available, or, buy it from Amazon or eBay, just go look.)

GDP growth is a canard, which the Fed and government can - and do - conspire to adjust according to their whims, wants, needs.

Unless somebody's building something that wasn't there beforehand, or there are more people building things (population growth, which is, after all, potential capital) or being more productive (technology), the only way to increase GDP is through money creation, i.e., inflation, which, in its most strict definition is an increase in the money supply, and, that is the essence of QE.

So, why hasn't there been inflation? In addition to the various reasons offered in this article, allow these meager observations:
  • Money is moved off-shore
  • Money is wasted
  • Money goes into non-productive assets (stocks, especially stock buybacks, the most unproductive of all, actually deflationary)
  • but, fewer people are working (unemployment)
  • the amount of land in the US (and the world) is fixed
  • a building burns, becomes dilapidated (impaired asset) or is vacant (lots of homes like that in the US thanks to the banks), becomes less-valued, non-productive, heading towards zero value, and that is deflation on a grand scale.
So, the people who want programs to improve the infrastructure in the US (roads, bridges, power grid, etc.) are correct in assuming that such programs would improve the economy. More jobs, more income, more velocity of money, and, most importantly, better, more efficient, more productive infrastructure, which leads to better manufacturing, agriculture, i.e., a virtuous cycle.

What we have today is a nearly closed-loop of money creation and destruction. Government issues bonds, Fed (or one of their many conduits, or other central banks) buys them with newly-created-out-of-thin-air money. That money goes to banks, which buy stocks or hoard as reserves, adding nothing to the general economy. GDP stagnates. Any little that may trickle out as loans to businesses or mortgages, is actually productive, but the banks, being the arbiters of money and controllers of credit, don't trust the public, and, additionally, have a hard time making a profit at 2, 3, or 4%. The problem for the Fed is the massive oversupply in everything from existing homes to corn to cheap junk from China, to now, oil and gas.

You want inflation, raise interest rates, because the pent-up demand will be filled by banks which can make money at 5, 6, or 7%.

My conclusion is that either the Fed doesn't understand this process (unlikely), or they actually want stagnation and/or disinflation or deflation (very likely). Remember, the dollar was getting weak up until 2009 and beyond, but look what's happened, the dollar is strengthening, and people want more of those dollars (the 10-year yield at 2.15% is magnitudes better than the German bund or the Bank of Japan's 10-year yield.). The Fed, as usual, has been lying through their teeth about everything from the virtues of quantitative easing (QE, i.e., free money) to the strength of the global economy (fact: it's weak.). There's a long history of the Fed saying one thing and knowing that the complete opposite - or nearly so - is actually true. That's how they get everyone to go along with their schemes of booms, busts, inflations, depressions, recessions... they and their crony, member banks, front-running everything.

The past few years have been good years for investing (ask anyone with a 401k or stocks), but it's not going to last. Maybe a few more years, because, once the banks start lending again in earnest, the inflation spigot will be wide open and the Fed knows this.

The Fed knows exactly what it is doing, and they're doing it slowly, as to avoid shocks. Anybody who hasn't been able to prosper (as in paying down debt, cutting expenditures, improving existing infrastructure - remodel your house, add solar panels, buy a better vehicle, increase acreage of productive land, learn new skills or improve existing ones) has missed the boat.

Point in fact: In 2005,6,7,8, I could not get a credit card with less than 22% interest. In 2009, I got a 4% home equity line of credit for roughly 50% of the value of my property (owned free and clear) from a local credit union (thank God for them). That one valued asset (my home) has, along with the meager line of credit, in five years time, allowed me to pay off all my existing credit card debt, buy inventory for my business, buy other assets (mostly silver) then get deals from various banks (yes, the very ones which caused the near-catastrophe of 2008), which now has me in this most unusual predicament: I have 0% credit - some of it guaranteed through June, 2016 - in an amount which far exceeds my original 4% home equity line, much of which I have already paid back.

My trick, if I can pull it off, will be to use the 0% credit as ready cash as part of a down payment on a better property for my home and business. With interest rates so low, it's almost foolish NOT to make this move.

The only risk, as far as I can tell, is if my income nosedives (not likely) and I'm unable to service my debt. In that case, I pay the mortgage (and taxes, the government always get theirs, don't they?) first, and let the banks figure out what to do with the defaulted CC debt. Long story short, I could then file for bankruptcy protection, and, even though the CC debt would not be fully discharged, I could get restructured and/or some forebearance/forgiveness and, keep my home, which, in the long run, is all that matters, the REAL, productive, improvable capital.

Seriously, I've been stacking silver, hoarding cash and business inventory for four years, and it's about time to unleash the Kraken!

Banksters beware! You've enabled your own worst nightmare. More adventures in high finance are sure to follow.

Today's advice: Pay attention and stay liquid. Interest rates keep going lower, meaning there's still another two years of embraceable low interest rates to be had.

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