BALTIMORE – The Dow rose on Wednesday morning… after Janet Yellen made soothing remarks about a “gradual” return to normal interest rates. Then investors must have realized that returning to normal is not on the Fed’s agenda. The Dow finished the day down 99 points.
We haven’t seen normal central bank policy since the Nixon years. Normal is a currency backed by gold, not by PhD economists. Only briefly and episodically, over the last 2000 years, has the world flirted with pure paper or “fiat” money. Every time, the affair was over in a short time… and regretted for a long time.
The result of the usurpation of money by government
Under a gold standard, credit comes from savings. Thus limited, interest rates typically stand somewhere in the 3% to 6% range. They do not roll around on the barroom floor with the spilt beer, drunks, and sawdust.
Real credit comes from money that is saved… taken out of the consumer economy so that it can be used for emergencies and capital investments. When it is paid back – usually out of increased output – the world is a richer place.
But try to trick the economy with phony credit – money that was never earned and never saved – and you are just asking for trouble. Said Jörg Guido Hülsmann, a senior fellow at the Mises Institute:
“In no period of human history has paper money spontaneously emerged on the free market. In all known historical cases, paper money has come into existence through government-sponsored breach of contract and other violations of private property rights.”
Jörg-Guido Hülsmann – a staunch proponent of a free market in money (you can read his book “The Ethics of Money Production” for free here, pdf)
Photo via mises.de
Giving out more money always gives the economy a temporary lift. People think they are richer. They spend; they want more and more. But then what? Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises said:
“The boom cannot continue indefinitely. There are two alternatives. Either the banks continue the credit expansion without restriction and thus cause constantly mounting price increases and an ever-growing orgy of speculation – which, as in all other cases of unlimited inflation, ends in a “crack-up boom” and in a collapse of the money and credit system. Or the banks stop before this point is reached, voluntarily renounce further credit expansion, and thus bring about the crisis. The depression follows in both instances.”
Are you ready, dear reader?
No need to hurry. Because central banks are attempting to continue the credit expansion, without restriction. In other words, there’s a lot more nonsense coming down the pike. Twice this century, markets have tested the resolve of policymakers. “How far will they go?” Mr. Market wanted to know. “What dumb thing will they do next?” he wondered.
European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi spoke for all the world’s central bankers when he assured the financial elites there would be “no limits” to what he might do. We have had seven years of ZIRP (zero-interest-rate policy) in the U.S. Japan has been at zero for over 15 years. Now, a third of the world’s sovereign debt carries subzero nominal yields… That is before you account for inflation.
$5.5 trillion in government bonds are sporting negative yields as of early 2016.
And for the first time since 2008, U.S. corporations are having trouble borrowing more money to increase dividends. Energy companies, tech companies, and the banks all are drifting to the edge of defaults and bankruptcies. Last Tuesday, shares in oil major BP fell 10%, after reporting an annual loss of $5.2 billion.
After making big bets on the energy sector, billionaire investor Carl Icahn’s investment vehicle, Icahn Enterprises, dropped to its lowest point in three years… down 68% from its 2013 peak. And shares in Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, and UniCredit – all big European banks – have more or less been cut in half.
The Bank of Japan is now on its tenth QE program. Over the last two years, it has added 338% to Japan’s monetary base (made up of bank reserves and physical currency). Over the same period, the average household income has fallen by 7%.
Now, with the total failure of ZIRP, Japan is doubling down… with NIRP (negative-interest-rate policy). This has pushed the yields on 10-year Japanese government bonds into negative territory.
The Japanese government now gets paid to borrow. Henceforth, there will be no need to raise taxes… or even to levy them at all. Borrowers are now effectively being taxed to park their money with the government.
Meanwhile, our sources tell us that a property in the Hamptons has sold for a record-breaking $110 million. The so-called Lily Pond Lane sale – of three properties on 6.4 acres with 284 feet of oceanfront – is said to be the fifth most expensive residential purchase in U.S. history. We don’t know. But our guess is that its place in the record books is secure… at least for a while.
Boom… bust… boom…none of this is normal – except when you are suffering an old fashioned, run-of-the-mill bout of monetary nuttiness. In that “orgy of speculation,” the sky is the limit.
Then the sky falls on your head.
Sometimes, the sky really is falling….
Illustration by Penator
Charts by: dollardaze.com, acting-man.com, FT, BigCharts
Chart and image captions by PT
The above article originally appeared at the Diary of a Rogue Economist, written for Bonner & Partners. Bill Bonner founded Agora, Inc in 1978. It has since grown into one of the largest independent newsletter publishing companies in the world. He has also written three New York Times bestselling books, Financial Reckoning Day, Empire of Debt and Mobs, Messiahs and Markets.
It is that time of the year again – our semi-annual funding drive begins today. Give us a little hand in offsetting the costs of running this blog, as advertising revenue alone is insufficient. You can help us reach our modest funding goal by donating either via paypal or bitcoin. Those of you who have made a ton of money based on some of the things we have said in these pages (we actually made a few good calls lately!), please feel free to up your donations accordingly (we are sorry if you have followed one of our bad calls. This is of course your own fault). Other than that, we can only repeat that donations to this site are apt to secure many benefits. These range from sound sleep, to children including you in their songs, to the potential of obtaining privileges in the afterlife (the latter cannot be guaranteed, but it seems highly likely). As always, we are greatly honored by your readership and hope that our special mixture of entertainment and education is adding a little value to your life!
Bitcoin address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke
One Response to “Are You Ready for a Crack-Up Boom?”
Most read in the last 20 days:
- Gold Price Skyrockets in India after Currency Ban – Part III
When Money Dies In part-I of the dispatch we talked about what happened during the first two days after Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi banned Rs 500 and Rs 1000 banknotes, comprising of 88% of the monetary value of cash in circulation. In part-II, we talked about the scenes, chaos, desperation, and massive loss of productive capacity that this ban had led to over the next few days. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi – another finger-wagger, as can be seen in this...
- Gold Price Skyrockets in India after Currency Ban – Part II
Chaos in the Wake of the Ban Here is a link to Part 1, about what happened in the first two days after India's government made Rs 500 (~$7.50) and Rs 1,000 (~$15) banknotes illegal. They can now only be converted to Rs 100 (~$1.50) or lower denomination notes, at bank branches or post offices. Banks were closed the first day after the decision. What follows is the crux of what has happened over the subsequent four days. India's prime minister Nahendra Modi, author of the...
- Gold Price Skyrockets in India after Currency Ban – Part IV
A Market Gripped by Fear The Indian Prime Minister announced on 8th November 2016 that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes would no longer be legal tender. Linked are Part-I, Part-II and Part-III updates on the rapidly encroaching police state. The economic and social mess that Modi has created is unprecedented. It will go down in history as an epitome of naivety and arrogance due to Modi’s self-centered desire to increase tax-collection at any cost. Indian jewelry...
- A Note on Gold and India – What is Driving the Gold Price?
Hidden Motives It is well-known that India's government wants to coerce its population into “modernizing” its financial behavior and abandoning its traditions. The recent ban on large-denomination banknotes was not only meant to fight corruption. Obviously, this very bad Indian has way too much cash. Just look at him, he looks suspicious! Photo via thenewsminute.com In fact, as our friend Jayant Bhandari has pointed out, fresh avenues for corruption ...
- India's Currency Debacle – An Interview with Jayant Bhandari
A Major Crisis Last week Jayant Bhandari related the story of the overnight ban of certain banknotes in India under cover of “stamping out corruption” (see Gold Price Skyrockets In India after Currency Ban Part 1 and Part 2 for the details). Banned 500 rupee banknotes The problem is inter alia that the sudden ban of these banknotes has hit the Indian economy quite hard, given that 97% of all transactions in the country are cash-based. Not only that, it has...
- Will the Swamp Swallow Trump?
Permanently Skewed TRUMP HOTEL, New York – Trump’s rambling army – professionals, amateurs, camp followers, and profiteers – is marching south, down the I-95 corridor. There, on the banks of the Potomac, it will fight its next big battle. Lieutenants in Trump's army: Bannon, Flynn & Sessions Photo credit: Drew Angerer / AFP Here at the Diary, we do not like to get involved in politics. But this is a special time in the history of our planet – a...
- There Are Two Types of Credit — One of Them Leads to Booms and Busts
Stumped by the Bust In the slump of a cycle, businesses that were thriving begin to experience difficulties or go under. They do so not because of firm-specific entrepreneurial errors but rather in tandem with whole sectors of the economy. People who were wealthy yesterday have become poor today. Factories that were busy yesterday are shut down today, and workers are out of jobs. What has caused the bust? The modern-day economic orthodoxy continues to be unable to provide...
- All Aboard! Trump’s Express Train to the Future
Free Money! BALTIMORE – Last week, the Dow punched up above 19,000 – a new all-time record. And on Monday, the Dow, the S&P 500, the Nasdaq, and the small-cap Russell 2000 each hit new all-time highs. The last time that happened was on the last day of December 1999. Ironically, two events that were almost universally expected to trigger large stock market declines were followed by quite rapid and strong gains. Would the market have fallen if Hillary Clinton had won...
- Attaining Self-Destruct Velocity
Bad Monday Some Monday mornings are better than others. Others are worse than some. For one Amazon employee, this past Monday morning was particularly bad. No doubt, the poor fellow would have been better off he’d called in sick to work. Such a simple decision would have saved him from extreme agony. But, unfortunately, he showed up at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters and put on a public and painful display of madness. Good-bye cruel world! On this our planet,...
- Gold Bull Market Remains Intact – Long Term Fundamentals Outweigh Short Term Market Gyrations
A Strong First Half of the Year, Followed by Another Retreat In early 2016 gold had a big bull run. The precious metal rose close to 25% this year, pushed higher in a summer rally that peaked on July 10th. Gold experienced a bumpy ride over the remainder of the summer though, as investors became increasingly concerned about a potential rate hike by the Federal Reserve. Uncertainty returned to gold market and has intensified further since then. Initially, gold rallied sharply...
- Too Early for “Inflation Bets”?
The Trump Trade After 35 years of waiting... so many false signals... so often deceived... so often disappointed... bond bears gathered on rooftops as though awaiting the Second Coming. Many times, investors have said to themselves, “This is it! This is the end of the Great Bull Market in Bonds!” The long bond's long cycle – red rectangles indicate when the post 1980 bull market was held to be “over” or “over for sure” or “100% over”, etc. We have...
- About that Economic Inequality
Illusory Riches, Obvious Impoverishment I address this essay to two groups. One group is those among the liberty movement, who believe that there’s nothing wrong with inequality. These are often Objectivists, who unknowingly defend a regime that artificially suppresses working people. And suddenly, you feel much lighter... The other group is those among the Left who still call themselves liberals. They say they don’t like inequality, but nevertheless...