U.S. Launches Financial World War
by Michael Hudson via stan - Counterpunch Wednesday, Oct 13 2010, 6:28am
How the the Rest of the World Will Fight Back
What is to stop U.S. banks and their customers from creating $1 trillion, $10 trillion or even $50 trillion on their computer keyboards to buy up all the bonds and stocks in the world, along with all the land and other assets for sale in the hope of making capital gains and pocketing the arbitrage spreads by debt leveraging at less than 1 per cent interest cost? This is the game that is being played today.
Fed Chairman, 'money for nothing and the world for free!'
Finance is the new form of warfare – without the expense of a military overhead and an occupation against unwilling hosts. It is a competition in credit creation to buy foreign resources, real estate, public and privatized infrastructure, bonds and corporate stock ownership. Who needs an army when you can obtain the usual objective (monetary wealth and asset appropriation) simply by financial means? All that is required is for central banks to accept dollar credit of depreciating international value in payment for local assets. Victory promises to go to whatever economy’s banking system can create the most credit, using an army of computer keyboards to appropriate the world’s resources. The key is to persuade foreign central banks to accept this electronic credit.
U.S. officials demonize foreign countries as aggressive “currency manipulators” keeping their currencies weak. But they simply are trying to protect their currencies from being pushed up against the dollar by arbitrageurs and speculators flooding their financial markets with dollars. Foreign central banks find them obliged to choose between passively letting dollar inflows push up their exchange rates – thereby pricing their exports out of global markets – or recycling these dollar inflows into U.S. Treasury bills yielding only 1% and whose exchange value is declining. (Longer-term bonds risk a domestic dollar-price decline if U.S interest rates should rise.)
“Quantitative easing” is a euphemism for flooding economies with credit, that is, debt on the other side of the balance sheet. The Fed is pumping liquidity and reserves into the domestic financial system to reduce interest rates, ostensibly to enable banks to “earn their way” out of negative equity resulting from the bad loans made during the real estate bubble. But why would banks lend more under conditions where a third of U.S. homes already are in negative equity and the economy is shrinking as a result of debt deflation?
The problem is that U.S. quantitative easing is driving the dollar downward and other currencies up, much to the applause of currency speculators enjoying a quick and easy free lunch. Yet it is to defend this system that U.S. diplomats are threatening to plunge the world economy into financial anarchy if other countries do not agree to a replay of the 1985 Plaza Accord “as a possible framework for engineering an orderly decline in the dollar and avoiding potentially destabilizing trade fights.” The run-up to this weekend’s IMF meetings saw the United States threaten to derail the international financial system, bringing monetary chaos if it does not get its way. This threat has succeeded for the past few generations.
The world is seeing a competition in credit creation to buy foreign resources, real estate, public and privatized infrastructure, bonds and corporate stock ownership. This financial grab is occurring without an army to seize the land or take over the government. Finance is the new form of warfare – without the expense of a military overhead and an occupation against unwilling hosts. Indeed, this “currency war” so far has been voluntary among individual buyers and the sellers who receive surplus dollars for their assets. It is foreign economies that lose, as their central banks recycle this tidal wave of dollar “keyboard credit” back into low-yielding U.S. Treasury securities of declining international value.
For thousands of years tribute was extracted by conquering land and looting silver and gold, as in the sacking of Constantinople in 1204, or Incan Peru and Aztec Mexico three centuries later. But who needs a military war when the same objective can be won financially? Today’s preferred mode of warfare is financial. Victory in today’s monetary warfare promises to go to whatever economy’s banking system can create the most credit. Computer keyboards are today’s army appropriating the world’s resources.
The key to victory is to persuade foreign central banks to accept this electronic credit, bringing pressure to bear via the International Monetary Fund, meeting this last weekend. The aim is nothing as blatant as extracting overt tribute by military occupation. Who needs an army when you can obtain the usual objective (monetary wealth and asset appropriation) simply by financial means? All that is required is for central banks to accept dollar credit of depreciating international value in payment for local assets.
But the world has seen the Plaza Accord derail Japan’s economy by obliging its currency to appreciate while lowering interest rates by flooding its economy with enough credit to inflate a real estate bubble. The alternative to a new currency war “getting completely out of control,” the bank lobbyist suggested, is “to try and reach some broad understandings about where currencies should move.” However, IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was more realistic. “I'm not sure the mood is to have a new Plaza or Louvre accord,” he said at a press briefing. “We are in a different time today.” On the eve of the Washington IMF meetings he added: “The idea that there is an absolute need in a globalised world to work together may lose some steam.” (Alan Beattie Chris Giles and Michiyo Nakamoto, “Currency war fears dominate IMF talks,” Financial Times, October 9, 2010, and Alex Frangos, “Easy Money Churns Emerging Markets,” Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2010.)
Quite the contrary, he added: “We can understand that some element of capital controls [need to] be put in place.”
The great question in global finance today is thus how long other nations will continue to succumb as the cumulative costs rise into the financial stratosphere? The world is being forced to choose between financial anarchy and subordination to a new U.S. economic nationalism. This is what is prompting nations to create an alternative financial system altogether.
The global financial system already has seen one long and unsuccessful experiment in quantitative easing in Japan’s carry trade that sprouted in the wake of Japan’s financial bubble bursting after 1990. Bank of Japan liquidity enabled the banks to lend yen credit to arbitrageurs at a low interest rate to buy higher-yielding securities. Iceland, for example, was paying 15 per cent. So Japanese yen were converted into foreign currencies, pushing down its exchange rate.
It was Japan that refined the “carry trade” in its present-day form. After its financial and property bubble burst in 1990, the Bank of Japan sought to enable its banks to “earn their way out of negative equity” by supplying them with low-interest credit for them to lend out. Japan’s recession left little demand at home, so its banks developed the carry trade: lending at a low interest rate to arbitrageurs at home and abroad, to lend to countries offering the highest returns. Yen were borrowed to convert into dollars, euros, Icelandic kroner and Chinese renminbi to buy government bonds, private-sector bonds, stocks, currency options and other financial intermediation. This “carry trade” was capped by foreign arbitrage in bonds of countries such as Iceland, paying 15 per cent. Not much of this funding was used to finance new capital formation. It was purely financial in character – extractive, not productive.
By 2006 the United States and Europe were experiencing a Japan-style financial and real estate bubble. After it burst in 2008, they did what Japan’s banks did after 1990. Seeking to help U.S. banks work their way out of negative equity, the Federal Reserve flooded the economy with credit. The aim was to provide banks with more liquidity, in the hope that they would lend more to domestic borrowers. The economy would “borrow its way out of debt,” re-inflating asset prices real estate, stocks and bonds so as to deter home foreclosures and the ensuing wipeout of the collateral on bank balance sheets.
This is occurring today as U.S. liquidity spills over to foreign economies, increasing their exchange rates. Joseph Stiglitz recently explained that instead of helping the global recovery, the “flood of liquidity” from the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank is causing “chaos” in foreign exchange markets. “The irony is that the Fed is creating all this liquidity with the hope that it will revive the American economy. ... It’s doing nothing for the American economy, but it’s causing chaos over the rest of the world.” (Walter Brandimarte, “Fed, ECB throwing world into chaos: Stiglitz,” Reuters, Oct. 5, 2010, reporting on a talk by Prof. Stiglitz at Colombia University. )
Dirk Bezemer and Geoffrey Gardiner, in their paper “Quantitative Easing is Pushing on a String” , prepared for the Boeckler Conference, Berlin, October 29-30, 2010, make clear that “QE provides bank customers, not banks, with loanable funds. Central Banks can supply commercial banks with liquidity that facilitates interbank payments and payments by customers and banks to the government, but what banks lend is their own debt, not that of the central bank. Whether the funds are lent for useful purposes will depend, not on the adequacy of the supply of fund, but on whether the environment is encouraging to real investment.”
Quantitative easing subsidizes U.S. capital flight, pushing up non-dollar currency exchange rates
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s quantitative easing may not have set out to disrupt the global trade and financial system or start a round of currency speculation that is forcing other countries to defend their economies by rejecting the dollar as a pariah currency. But that is the result of the Fed’s decision in 2008 to keep unpayably high debts from defaulting by re-inflating U.S. real estate and financial markets. The aim is to pull home ownership out of negative equity, rescuing the banking system’s balance sheets and thus saving the government from having to indulge in a Tarp II, which looks politically impossible given the mood of most Americans.
The announced objective is not materializing. The Fed’s new credit creation is not increasing bank loans to real estate, consumers or businesses. Banks are not lending – at home, that is. They are collecting on past loans. This is why the U.S. savings rate is jumping. The “saving” that is reported (up from zero to 3 per cent of GDP) is taking the form of paying down debt, not building up liquid funds on which to draw. Just as hoarding diverts revenue away from being spent on goods and services, so debt repayment shrinks spendable income.
So Bernanke created $2 trillion in new Federal Reserve credit. And now (October 2010) the Fed is proposing to increase the Fed’s money creation by another $1 trillion over the coming year. This is what has led gold prices to surge and investors to move out of weakening “paper currencies” since early September – and prompted other nations to protect their own economies accordingly.
It is hardly surprising that banks are not lending to an economy being shrunk by debt deflation. The entire quantitative easing has been sent abroad, mainly to the BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India and China. “Recent research at the International Monetary Fund has shown conclusively that G4 monetary easing has in the past transferred itself almost completely to the emerging economies … since 1995, the stance of monetary policy in Asia has been almost entirely determined by the monetary stance of the G4 – the US, eurozone, Japan and China – led by the Fed.” According to the IMF, “equity prices in Asia and Latin America generally rise when excess liquidity is transferred from the G4 to the emerging economies.”
Borrowing unprecedented amounts from U.S., Japanese and British banks to buy bonds, stocks and currencies in the BRIC and Third World countries is a self-feeding expansion. Speculative inflows into these countries are pushing up their currencies as well as their asset prices, but. Their central banks settle these transactions in dollars, whose value falls as measured in their own local currencies.
U.S. officials say that this is all part of the free market. “It is not good for the world for the burden of solving this broader problem … to rest on the shoulders of the United States,” insisted Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on Wednesday.
So other countries are solving the problem on their own. Japan is trying to hold down its exchange rate by selling yen and buying U.S. Treasury bonds in the face of its carry trade being unwound as arbitrageurs are paying back the yen that they earlier borrowed to buy higher-yielding but increasingly risky sovereign debt from countries such as Greece. Paying back these arbitrage loans has pushed up the yen’s exchange rate by 12 per cent against the dollar so far during 2010. On Tuesday, October 5, Bank of Japan governor Masaaki Shirakawa announced that Japan had “no choice” but to “spend 5 trillion yen ($60 billion) to buy government bonds, corporate IOUs, real-estate investment trust funds and exchange-traded funds – the latter two a departure from past practice.”
This “sterilization” of unwanted financial speculation is precisely what the United States has criticized China for doing. China has tried more “normal” ways to recycle its trade surplus, by seeking out U.S. companies to buy. But Congress would not let CNOOC buy into U.S. oil refinery capacity a few years ago, and the Canadian government is now being urged to block China’s attempt to purchase its potash resources. This leaves little option for China and other countries but to hold their currencies stable by purchasing U.S. and European government bonds.
This has become the problem for all countries today. As presently structured, the international financial system rewards speculation and makes it difficult for central banks to maintain stability without forced loans to the U.S. Government that has long enjoyed a near monopoly in providing central bank reserves. As noted earlier, arbitrageurs obtain a twofold gain: the arbitrage margin between Brazil’s nearly 12 per cent yield on its long-term government bonds and the cost of U.S. credit (1 per cent), plus the foreign-exchange gain resulting from the fact that the outflow from dollars into reals has pushed up the real’s exchange rate some 30 per cent – from R$2.50 at the start of 2009 to $1.75 last week. Taking into account the ability to leverage $1 million of one’s own equity investment to buy $100 million of foreign securities, the rate of return is 3000 per cent since January 2009.
Brazil has been more a victim than a beneficiary of what is euphemized as a “capital inflow.” The inflow of foreign money has pushed up the real by 4 per cent in just over a month (from September 1 through early October). The past year’s run-up has eroded the competitiveness of Brazilian exports, prompting the government to impose 4 per cent tax on foreign purchases of its bonds on October 4 to deter the currency’s rise. “It’s not only a currency war,” Finance Minister Guido Mantega said on Monday. “It tends to become a trade war and this is our concern.” And Thailand’s central bank director Wongwatoo Potirat warned that his country was considering similar taxes and currency trade restrictions to stem the baht’s rise, and Subir Gokarn, deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India announced that his country also was reviewing defenses against the “potential threat” of inward capital flows.”
Such inflows do not provide capital for tangible investment. They are predatory, and cause currency fluctuation that disrupts trade patterns while creating enormous trading profits for large financial institutions and their customers. Yet most discussions of exchange rate treat the balance of payments and exchange rates as if they were determined purely by commodity trade and “purchasing power parity,” not by the financial flows and military spending that actually dominate the balance of payments. The reality is that today’s financial interregnum – anarchic “free” markets prior to countries hurriedly putting up their own monetary defenses – provides the arbitrage opportunity of the century. This is what bank lobbyists have been pressing for. It has little to do with the welfare of workers.
The potentially largest speculative prize of all promises to be an upward revaluation of China’s renminbi. The House Ways and Means Committee is backing this gamble, by demanding that China raise its exchange rate by the 20 per cent that the Treasury and Federal Reserve are suggesting. A revaluation of this magnitude would enable speculators to put down 1 per cent equity – say, $1 million to borrow $99 million and buy Chinese renminbi forward. The revaluation being demanded would produce a 2000 per cent profit of $20 million by turning the $100 million bet (and just $1 million “serious money”) into $120 million. Banks can trade on much larger, nearly infinitely leveraged margins, much like drawing up CDO swaps and other derivative plays.
This kind of money already has been made by speculating on Brazilian, Indian and Chinese securities and those of other countries whose exchange rates have been forced up by credit-flight out of the dollar, which has fallen by 7 per cent against a basket of currencies since early September when the Federal Reserve floated the prospect of quantitative easing. During the week leading up to the IMF meetings in Washington, the Thai baht and Indian rupee soared in anticipation that the United States and Britain would block any attempts by foreign countries to change the financial system and curb disruptive currency gambling.
This capital outflow from the United States has indeed helped domestic banks rebuild their balance sheets, as the Fed intended. But in the process the international financial system has been victimized as collateral damage. This prompted Chinese officials to counter U.S. attempts to blame it for running a trade surplus by retorting that U.S. financial aggression “risked bringing mutual destruction upon the great economic powers.
From the gold-exchange standard to the Treasury-bill standard to “free credit” anarchy
Indeed, the standoff between the United States and other countries at the IMF meetings in Washington this weekend threatens to cause the most serious rupture since the breakdown of the London Monetary Conference in 1933. The global financial system threatens once again to break apart, deranging the world’s trade and investment relationships – or to take a new form that will leave the United States isolated in the face of its structural long-term balance-of-payments deficit.
This crisis provides an opportunity – indeed, a need – to step back and review the longue durée of international financial evolution to see where past trends are leading and what paths need to be re-tracked. For many centuries prior to 1971, nations settled their balance of payments in gold or silver. This “money of the world,” as Sir James Steuart called gold in 1767, formed the basis of domestic currency as well. Until 1971 each U.S. Federal Reserve note was backed 25 per cent by gold, valued at $35 an ounce. Countries had to obtain gold by running trade and payments surpluses in order to increase their money supply to facilitate general economic expansion. And when they ran trade deficits or undertook military campaigns, central banks restricted the supply of domestic credit to raise interest rates and attract foreign financial inflows.
As long as this behavioral condition remained in place, the international financial system operated fairly smoothly under checks and balances, albeit under “stop-go” policies when business expansions led to trade and payments deficits. Countries running such deficits raised their interest rates to attract foreign capital, while slashing government spending, raising taxes on consumers and slowing the domestic economy so as to reduce the purchase of imports.
What destabilized this system was war spending. War-related transactions spanning World Wars I and II enabled the United States to accumulate some 80 per cent of the world’s monetary gold by 1950. This made the dollar a virtual proxy for gold. But after the Korean War broke out, U.S. overseas military spending accounted for the entire payments deficit during the 1950s and ‘60s and early ‘70s. Private-sector trade and investment was exactly in balance.
By August 1971, war spending in Vietnam and other foreign countries forced the United States to suspend gold convertibility of the dollar through sales via the London Gold Pool. But largely by inertia, central banks continued to settle their payments balances in U.S. Treasury securities. After all, there was no other asset in sufficient supply to form the basis for central bank monetary reserves. But replacing gold – a pure asset – with dollar-denominated U.S. Treasury debt transformed the global financial system. It became debt-based, not asset-based. And geopolitically, the Treasury-bill standard made the United States immune from the traditional balance-of-payments and financial constraints, enabling its capital markets to become more highly debt-leveraged and “innovative.” It also enabled the U.S. Government to wage foreign policy and military campaigns without much regard for the balance of payments.
The problem is that the supply of dollar credit has become potentially infinite. The “dollar glut” has grown in proportion to the U.S. payments deficit. Growth in central bank reserves and sovereign-country funds has taken the form of recycling of dollar inflows into new purchases of U.S. Treasury securities – thereby making foreign central banks (and taxpayers) responsible for financing most of the U.S. federal budget deficit. The fact that this deficit is largely military in nature – for purposes that many foreign voters oppose – makes this lock-in particularly galling. So it hardly is surprising that foreign countries are seeking an alternative.
Contrary to most public media posturing, the U.S. payments deficit – and hence, other countries’ payments surpluses – is not primarily a trade deficit. Foreign military spending has accelerated despite the Cold War ending with dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Even more important has been rising capital outflows from the United States. Banks lent to foreign governments from Third World countries, to other deficit countries to cover their national payments deficits, to private borrowers to buy the foreign infrastructure being privatized, foreign stocks and bonds, and to arbitrageurs to borrow at a low interest rate to buy higher-yielding securities abroad.
The corollary is that other countries’ balance-of-payments surpluses do not stem primarily from trade relations, but from financial speculation and a spillover of U.S. global military spending. Under these conditions the maneuvering for quick returns by banks and their arbitrage customers is distorting exchange rates for international trade. U.S. “quantitative easing” is coming to be perceived as a euphemism for a predatory financial attack on the rest of the world. Trade and currency stability are part of the “collateral damage” being caused by the Federal Reserve and Treasury flooding the economy with liquidity in their attempt to re-inflate U.S. asset prices. Faced with U.S. quantitative easing flooding the economy with reserves to “save the banks” from negative equity, all countries are obliged to act as “currency manipulators.” So much money is made by purely financial speculation that “real” economies are being destroyed.
The coming capital controls
The global financial system is being broken up as U.S. monetary officials change the rules they laid down nearly half a century ago. Prior to the United States going off gold in 1971, nobody dreamed that an economy – especially the United States – would create unlimited credit on computer keyboards and not see its currency plunge. But that is what happens under the Treasury-bill standard of international finance. Under this condition, foreign countries can prevent their currencies from rising against the dollar (thereby pricing their labor and exports out of foreign markets) only by (1) recycling dollar inflows into U.S. Treasury securities, (2) by imposing capital controls, or (3) by avoiding use of the dollar or other currencies used by financial speculators in economies promoting “quantitative easing.”
Malaysia successfully used capital controls during the 1997 Asian Crisis to prevent short-sellers from covering their bets. This confronted speculators with a short squeeze that George Soros says made him lose money on the attempted raid. Other countries are now reviewing how to impose capital controls to protect themselves from the tsunami of credit from flowing into their currencies and buying up their assets – along with gold and other commodities that are turning into vehicles for speculation rather than actual use in production. Brazil took a modest step along this path by using tax policy rather than outright capital controls when it taxed foreign buyers of its bonds last week.
If other nations take this route, it will reverse the policy of open and unprotected capital markets adopted after World War II. This trend threatens to lead to the kind of international monetary practice found from the 1930s into the ‘50s: dual exchange rates, one for financial movements and another for trade. It probably would mean replacing the IMF, World Bank and WTO with a new set of institutions, isolating U.S., British and Eurozone representation.
To defend itself, the IMF is proposing to act as a “central bank” creating what was called “paper gold” in the late 1960s – artificial credit in the form of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). However, other countries already have complained that voting control remains dominated by the major promoters of arbitrage speculation – the United States, Britain and Eurozone. And the IMF’s Articles of Agreement prevent countries from protecting themselves, characterizing this as “interfering” with “open capital markets.” So the impasse reached this weekend appears to be permanent. As one report summarized matters: “‘There is only one obstacle, which is the agreement of the members,’ said a frustrated Kahn .”
Paul Martin, the former Canadian prime minister who helped create the G20 after the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis, said “said the big powers were largely immune to being named andshamed.” And in a Financial Times interview Mohamed El Erian, a former senior IMF official and now chief executive of Pimco said, “You have a burst pipe behind the wall and the water is coming out. You have to fix the pipe, not just patch the wall.”
The BRIC countries are simply creating their own parallel system. In September, China supported a Russian proposal to start direct trading between the yuan and the ruble. It has brokered a similar deal with Brazil. And on the eve of the IMF meetings in Washington on Friday, October 8, Chinese Premier Wen stopped off in Istanbul to reach agreement with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to use their own currencies in tripling Turkish-Chinese trade to $50 billion over the next five years, effectively excluding the U.S. dollar. “We are forming an economic strategic partnership … In all of our relations, we have agreed to use the lira and yuan,” Mr. Erdogan said.
On the deepest economic lane, the present global financial breakdown is part of the price to be paid for the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury refusing to accept a prime axiom of banking: Debts that cannot be paid, won’t be. They tried to “save” the banking system from debt write-downs in 2008 by keeping the debt overhead in place. The resulting repayment burden continues to shrink the U.S. economy, while the Fed’s way to help the banks “earn their way out of negative equity” has been to fuel a flood of international financial speculation. Faced with normalizing world trade or providing opportunities for predatory finance, the U.S. and Britain have thrown their weigh behind the latter. Targeted economies understandably seeking alternative arrangements.
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A Plunge into a Monetary No Man’s Land
by Bob Chapman via reed - Global Research Wednesday, Oct 13 2010, 8:23pm
The question keeps swirling around regarding the Fed and just how much Treasury paper they can buy from the market under current rules. Our guess is about $1.7 trillion. A good part of that may well be in notes, which will probably keep long dated rates low. On the other hand they may increase the current limit, and buy everything in sight.
That probably means the 10-year T-note could fall from its current level of 2.50% yield to 1.5% yield and mortgages, as we stated before could fall to 3.38% on the 30-year fixed rate loan. This kind of spirited buying would tend to crowd out other buyers forcing them into corporates, foreign bonds, commodities and gold and silver, as well as back into the stock market. This kind of policy means major monetization, higher inflation and perhaps eventually into hyperinflation. Needless to say, this is a very dangerous game.
A plunge into a monetary no man’s land. The liquidity that will be set loose in the POMO market will be enormous and the avalanche will begin early next year and it will cause asset price inflation. These antics will also suppress the value of the dollar forcing a test of 71.18 and perhaps breaking that long-term support level.
Bank reserve liquidity will likely surge to $3 trillion. Will the banks aggressively lend or will borrowers balk due to such unusual conditions? That also means the Fed balance sheet could reach $4 trillion. Then the question arises, if this doesn’t kick start a recovery can QE3 be kicked up to $8 trillion? What will inflation be like under QE2? Will it be 14% or 34%? Will hyperinflation begin, or will that be left to the duration of QE3? We do not have all those answers, but we are entering very dangerous territory.
In reaction to this massive monetary onslaught the dollar will fall, the stock market will hold its own, the Treasury-Agency markets will remain relatively unchanged, commodities will rise and gold and silver will increase in value exponentially. All the funds created have to have someplace to go and it certainly won’t be into real estate with its massive inventory overhang in spite of historically low interest rates. Once in place, whether it is QE2 or QE3, the time frame will be squeezed probably into a 3-year window, or less. The election may change the makeup of Congress and the Senate, but the Fed’s direction is set. They have no other choice other than what they are doing to extend the time line of collapse. These policies won ‘t work and all the elitists are aware of that. Within three years we should have a crunching deflationary collapse. Interest rates would rise and bonds fall, the stock market would collapse, commodities would hold their own or perhaps give up some gains and gold and silver being the only remaining real money would hold their own or move higher. We might add that the LBMA, Comex and GLD and SLV would have long before collapsed. Confidence in the system will have been crushed.
As far as Fed exit strategy is concerned there is none. There can be none.
Bonds, those instruments of guaranteed confiscation, are certainly not the place to be.Total return before inflation is dreadful. After real inflation it’s horrible. Even the market has done better and commodities, gold and silver are up more than 20%. `
The Fed has become the country’s lifeline and we find that deeply disturbing inasmuch as it was the Fed that is responsible for the current position we are in. Our latest look shows the Fed now the second largest owner of US Treasuries. Last week they overtook Japan to place second behind China. Of course, this is madness, but if foreigners are unwilling to buy and the Fed has to buy to keep interest rates low, they have to be the buyers of last resort. This policy began in June unbeknownst to most and has precipitated the slide in the value of the dollar and has heightened the flight into gold, silver and commodities.
The question now is can the Fed do this indefinitely and how high will inflation go as a result of such a policy? Trillions of dollars of old debt is coming due with some $150 billion in new debt monthly. Each month that debt grows exponentially far into the future. Capsulating the debt spiral we can come to no other conclusion then there is going to eventually be a default, which will be preceded by hyperinflation. That is when the public no longer has confidence in the currency and abandons it by using it as soon as it comes into their possession. This is where we are eventually headed. The timing is difficult because we do not know when the major nations will finally capitulate. The past week we heard comments from Brazil regarding the possibility of a meeting similar to the Plaza Accord meetings of 1985, in order to address the growing currency war and the failure of the US dollar. We predicted such an event this past May and thought that this could come about by the end of the year or early next year. We thought it could be overridden by QE2 that could have been underway in June and July. That did happen via the repo market and some bank lending, but not nearly enough to keep the system moving parallel.
The result has been stagnation, higher inflation and unemployment and the Fed forcibly being thrust into the treasury and Agency markets, as buyers of last resort. What is really distasteful about all this is that the Fed continues to lie about what they are really up too. That in part is why it is easy for the Fed to elevate the stock market in anticipation of the November election. The reaction to that has been a very powerful gold, silver and commodities markets.
The financial regulation, the Dodd-Frank bill, failed to stop some of the worst excesses in structured assets and derivatives; an area that is essentially unregulated. In order for banks and securities firms to pull in more profits they are being encouraged to commit financial fraud and not be subject to regulations.
Little or nothing was done about derivatives and that is where the trouble also lies, as well as in structured assets based upon corporate and Treasury debt. These are being sold to retail clients based on higher yields, which also involves subprime debt and auction rate securities. You would think these fools would have learned something after watching the terrible losses of the past few years. Obviously not, they are determined to lose their investments. That brings us back to our old adage, never, ever, ever chase a yield, it can only end in losses. Worse yet, there are no real after markets in these securities. You are at the mercy of the seller. Another problem is that the regulators do not even know this is going on. That is understandable. If you file a formal complaint concerning naked short selling they are abusive and ignore you. This follows the arrogance of the Fed and the SEC to listen to warnings from the financial communities that subprime mortgages; ABS, MBS and CDOs were toxic bombs about to explode. They as well refused to look into the legalistics of the mortgages, the packaging of the bonds and the obvious phony rating systems proffered by S&P, Fitch and Moody’s. Worse yet, they have for the past few years been guaranteeing the mortgages via Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae and FHA that started the problems in the first place.
These results are not the result of stupidity, incompetence or arrogance. It was planned that way. This is your government and the privately owned Fed at work.
The net short position in the Commitment of Traders report of commercials hit a new high this past week, that is over 308,000 contracts, all of which we believe are in a losing position. The situation in the gold and silver shares is similar. In times past such a large net short position has been intimidating and often led to a breakdown in gold prices. Not this time. We saw a one-day correction and that we believe is it. Money and credit are expanding at a furious clip, economic policy is dreadful and we just saw ¾’s of the administrations financial complement abandon ship. The lone important survivor is Tim Geithner, who is incompetent and cannot properly file his income tax. The dollar remains under pressure versus other major currencies, and all currencies are lower versus gold. The euro is under terrible pressure as is the entire EU. All nations to various degrees are increasing money supply at a rate of plus 10%. As we have stated so often production of gold and silver have been declining for years with no new large projects in sight. We have strong gold and silver markets for the next almost five months. We now have China as a major buying factor in the market along with Russia and traditional India.
The last two option expirations were non-events and that may continue. It is everything that shouldn’t be. Lo and behold, central banks have become gold buyers not sellers and the European control banks have sold virtually nothing for two years. We might ask the US where is Germany’s gold. Zero interest rates have made it much less expensive for players to be long gold and silver. Inflation has been cranked up and should reach 14% by the end of 2011. Commodities are again going through the roof. Inflation, real inflation, is already at 7%, not the 1.6% the government feeds us. The dollar’s reverse head and shoulders pattern is looking ominous. The government has lost control of their gold price suppression and they are losing control of the economy. Within the next two years it will be a disaster for the world economy.
One of the very important aspects as a result of the strength of gold is the geopolitical implications. We have Russia, China and the rest of the BRIC nations lined up on one side and the US, and Europe lined up on the other. Not only are they accumulating gold in a big way but they seem to be telling us that there is no US gold in Fort Knox, under the Fed in NYC or in West Point, and what gold is there belongs to other parties. We’ll find out in time, but is that really good enough. As Ron Paul says let’s finally audit the Fed. It has been 56 years since an audit has been done. As a result there are going to be economic, financial, and political ramifications from the stockpiling and price of gold, if in fact the US doesn’t have any or has very little left. Government and those who control it have lied for years, so what makes one think it will be any different this time. If these BRIC nations continue to accumulate gold and the West doesn’t we are in for some ferocious problems, if we have little or no gold. The official holdings of these BRIC nations is declared at about 10% of what the US, UK and Europe has, but because of past experiences we believe it is closer to 15%.
No one really knows what western central bank gold holdings are, because they have been shrouded in secrecy, leased and held on the books as still existing and the lies about what they have are legend. The central bankers only think that they have a need to know. Even the Fed has used millions of taxpayer dollars buying off Congress, so that the gold hoard will not be audited. As a result for the past dozen years we have had an evolving financial, currency and free trade war on our hands. They all are part of the same problem and strategic planners do not know how to solve the dilemma. The options opened to the West are no longer there because they are broke and all have a financial Ponzi scheme going via their central banks. The opposing players know that. Each day that passes sees less US dollar denominated paper being purchased. This is why it has been important for Western central banks to control gold prices. They stupidly have allowed buyers, such as the BRIC nations, to buy gold for 30% of what it should be selling for. At the same time their suppression program has had very limited success over the past 15 years. Gold moved from $252 to $1,350 over that period. Over the last nine years it has risen almost 20% annually on a compound basis.
Russia has been a persistent gold buyer both of domestic production and in world markets. China has bought domestic production, but has not been aggressive as Russia in world markets, choosing a subtle market approach. We believe China will have to become much more progressive in the markets as their dollar holding rise, unless of course, there is a third world war. It is not difficult for China to use intermediaries to buy, as they have done in the past. China strongly markets both gold and silver to its citizens particularly in exchange for dollars. As a result of this Chinese approach, the overall BRIC approach and buying by the rest of the world, control of gold trading will soon be at an end. You might say how do we know this? It is a good question. Markets are not scientific they are an art form and we have been deeply involved in this gold and silver venue for over 50 years. As time passed you know what to look for and what to expect. That is how we project what should happen. The long study of finance, monetary policy and the desire for total world control have allowed us to back into what we believe will happen. For the past 21 years we have done that and have been right 98% of the time. Consequently we have an excellent opportunity of continuing to be correct.
The bankers, Wall Street and the City of London have lost and they know it. Talk radio and the Internet have exposed what they are up to worldwide and there is no way for them to stop it short of a revolution or WWIII. The time has passed for them to successfully pull off such a diversion and get away with it or survive. They have craftily interconnected just about everything. Gold has again become the ultimate currency and anything to disrupt gold’s position would now bring down the entire financial system worldwide. The bottom line is if you do not own gold and silver coins, bullion and shares you are a fool. Both metals are headed considerably higher and there is no changing that.
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