If You Have a Bank Deposit, You Will Be Charged to Save Money

AIKEN, South Carolina – The Dow had a good day on Monday. Up 229 points… or about 1.5% [ed note: it didn’t last]. The significance of that is uncertain. Is the market staging a comeback from this year’s losses? Or is it just lollygagging around as usual? TBD.

We are still aghast and agog over the spread of NIRP – negative-interest-rate policy. In Japan, for example… where almost two-thirds of government debt carries a negative yield… savers pay a bankrupt government for the privilege of lending it fictitious money.

 

Japan 10-Year Bond Yield(WeeklyJGB yield, weekly – this one is truly from the “you couldn’t make this up” department.

 

It is a trifecta of absurdity: First, the money is phony. Second, the borrower is insolvent. Third, the interest rate is less than nothing.

And yet, this is not just some strange fluke or financial skullduggery. Central banks in Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, the euro zone, and Japan – all of them presumably run by sober adults – have pushed their key lending rates into negative territory, too.

They’re doing this to drive bank lending rates into negative territory. Not only will bondholders pay to lend money to governments but also anyone with a bank deposit will be charged to save money. And now, the Fed is considering following suit… and pushing its key rate into negative territory.

When asked whether the Fed would consider taking its rates negative, during her recent grilling on Capitol Hill, Janet Yellen left the door wide open:

In light of the experience of European countries and others that have gone to negative rates,” she said, “we’re taking a look at them again.

 

1015house-of-cardsThe fixers …

Cartoon by B. Rich

 

Head Buster

Yesterday, after spending the night near Charlottesville, Virginia, we drove down to South Carolina, puzzling over NIRP on the long drive. It is a real head buster… It only makes sense if you don’t try to make sense of it.

The logic, as we reminded readers yesterday, is that everything in the world of money is relative. If the economy is backing up, you think you are making progress just by standing still.

The interest rate you have to pay on borrowed funds is also known as the “hurdle rate.” You have to be able to earn more than the interest rate – the hurdle rate – or it doesn’t pay to borrow money. But what if the interest rate is below zero?

Suddenly, even a dead man, stretched out on the ground like a fallen post, can clear the hurdle. When interest rates are backing up, in other words, even a corpse will appear to be moving forward. But wait. He isn’t really moving forward, is he?

 

hurdles02A little bit lower, and the dead can jump them too….

Photo via nordicskiracer.com

 

Monetary scholars Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz had a theory about the Great Depression. They said the authorities, who failed to keep the quantity of money topped up, were to blame. This is what is known as “monetarism” – the idea that maintaining the right supply of money in the economy is what keeps it on an even keel.

Today, credit is money. When borrowers stop borrowing, credit goes down. And if credit goes down, a recession… or depression… is almost unavoidable. Negative interest rates are a desperate move. Central bankers believe it will keep the money supply from contracting by encouraging people to borrow.

But what a crazy system: People must go further and further into debt (get poorer), or it melts down!

 

schwartz and friedmanAnna Schwartz and Milton Friedman – their well-meant, but completely erroneous interpretation of the Fed’s failings during the Great Depression has done incalculable harm ever since. Note: it is simply untrue that the Fed didn’t attempt to print its way out of the depression. Between the fall of 2919 and early 1933, its balance sheet expanded by more than 400%! The money supply did contract – but for reasons that were at the time outside of the Fed’s control.

Photo credit: Teresa Zabala / The New York Times, The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

 

South… Then West

Our drive took us south and then west. We followed the Jerry Falwell Highway to the Seminole Trail… from the hilltop mansions of the Piedmont region of Virginia through the hollows and hardscrabble farms farther south… past the sleek edifices of Charlotte, North Carolina, and down through the scrub pines of the Carolinas.

Jiffy Lube… Burger-in-a-Hurry… River of Life Church… Chick-fil-A… tumbledown shacks… brick ramblers… Jeff’s Tire… Joe’s Tire… Adult Superstore… Calvary Baptist… Liberty University… Church of the Redeemer… Lothian Lutheran (and not a single liquor store for 100 miles)… Prince of Peace Congregationalist… Grace’s Palm Readings… angus cattle in a field… red tractors… yellow tractors… green tractors… hundreds of RVs… barbed-wire fences… red dirt… mills… plants… warehouses… Jerry’s TV repair (abandoned)… a pile of sawdust as big as one of the Alps… Martha’s Café… Fat Boy Subs… rusty plows… fallen down barns…

“Eat More. Pay Less,” advertised a buffet restaurant.

 

jesus 2There are many ways to meet Jesus …

Photo via oddee.com

 

“Who was Jesus?” asks a billboard (helpfully offering a phone number: 1-888-THE-TRUTH).

“Accident? Get a lawyer FIRST,” suggests another.

In Columbia, we passed the South Carolina Center for Mental Health. Beneath it, a prankster had scrawled a message. We passed too quickly to read it carefully, but we thought it said:

“Half-wits,” with an arrow pointing to the left.

“Full retards,” with an arrow pointing to the right.

“Central bankers… straight ahead.”

 

KurodaThere’s one of them!

Photo credit: Toru Hanai / Reuters

 

Chart by: Investing.com

 

Chart and image captions by PT

 

The above article originally appeared as “If You Have a Bank Deposit, You Will Be Charged to Save Money” 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.

 

 
 

 
 

Dear Readers!

You may have noticed that our so-called “semiannual” funding drive, which started sometime in the summer if memory serves, has seamlessly segued into the winter. In fact, the year is almost over! We assure you this is not merely evidence of our chutzpa; rather, it is indicative of the fact that ad income still needs to be supplemented in order to support upkeep of the site. Naturally, the traditional benefits that can be spontaneously triggered by donations to this site remain operative regardless of the season - ranging from a boost to general well-being/happiness (inter alia featuring improved sleep & appetite), children including you in their songs, up to the likely allotment of privileges in the afterlife, etc., etc., but the Christmas season is probably an especially propitious time to cross our palms with silver. A special thank you to all readers who have already chipped in, your generosity is greatly appreciated. Regardless of that, we are honored by everybody's readership and hope we have managed to add a little value to your life.

   

Bitcoin address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke

   
 

One Response to “Trifecta of Absurdity”

  • FreemonSandlewould:

    Between the fall of 2919 and early 1933, its balance sheet expanded by more than 400%!

    Ok I’m thinking you have a Reverse Arrow(tm) time machine.

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • 21st Century Shoe-Shine Boys
      Anecdotal Flags are Waved   "If a shoeshine boy can predict where this market is going to go, then it's no place for a man with a lot of money to lose." - Joseph Kennedy   It is actually a true story as far as we know – Joseph Kennedy, by all accounts an extremely shrewd businessman and investor (despite the fact that he had graduated in economics*), really did get his shoes shined on Wall Street one fine morning, and the shoe-shine boy, one Pat Bologna, asked him if...
  • India: The Genie of Lawlessness is out of the Bottle
      Recapitulation (Part XVI, the Last) Since the announcement of demonetization of Indian currency on 8th November 2016, I have written a large number of articles. The issue is not so much that the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is a tyrant and extremely simplistic in his thinking (which he is), or that demonetization and the new sales tax system were horribly ill-conceived (which they were). Time erases all tyrants from the map, and eventually from people’s...
  • Christopher Columbus and the Falsification of History
      Crazed Decision The Los Angeles City Council’s recent, crazed decision* to replace Christopher Columbus Day with one celebrating “indigenous peoples” can be traced to the falsification of history and denigration of European man which began in earnest in the 1960s throughout the educational establishment (from grade school through the universities), book publishing, and the print and electronic media.   Christopher Columbus at the Court of the Catholic Monarchs (a...
  • The Government Debt Paradox: Pick Your Poison
      Lasting Debt “Rule one: Never allow a crisis to go to waste,” said President Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in November of 2008.  “They are opportunities to do big things.”   Rahm Emanuel looks happy. He should be – he is the mayor of Chicago, which is best described as crisis incarnate. Or maybe the proper term is perma-crisis? Anyway, it undoubtedly looks like a giant opportunity from his perspective, a gift that keeps on giving, so to speak. [PT] Photo...
  • The Forking Paradise - Precious Metals Supply and Demand Report
      Forking Incentives A month ago, we wrote about the bitcoin fork. We described the fork:   Picture a bank, the old-fashioned kind. Call it Acme (sorry, we watched too much Coyote and Road Runner growing up). A group of disgruntled employees leave. They take a copy of the book of accounts. They set up a new bank across the street, Wile E Bank. To win customers, they say if you had an account at Acme Bank, you now have an account at Wile, with the same balance!   BCH, son...
  • The United States of Hubris
      Improving the World, One Death at a Time If anyone should have any questions about whether the United States of America is not the most aggressive, warlike, and terrorist nation on the face of the earth, its latest proposed action against the supposed rogue state of North Korea should allay any such doubts.   Throughout history, the problem with empires has always been the same: no matter how stable and invincible they appeared, eventually they ran into “imperial...
  • Long Term Statistics on AAPL
      Introductory Remarks by PT Below we present a recent article by the Mole discussing a number of technical statistics on the behavior of AAPL over time. Since the company has the largest market cap in the US stock market (~ USD 850 billion – a valuation that exceeds that of entire industries), it is the biggest component of capitalization-weighted big cap indexes and the ETFs based on them. It is also a component of the price-weighted DJIA. It is fair to say that the performance of...
  • Tragedy of the Speculations
      The Instability Problem Bitcoin is often promoted as the antidote to the madness of fiat irredeemable currencies. It is also promoted as their replacement. Bitcoin is promoted not only as money, but the future money, and our monetary future. In fact, it is not.   A tragedy... get the hankies out! :) [PT]   Why not? To answer, let us start with a look at the incentives offered by bitcoin. We saw a comment this week, which is apropos:   "Crypto is so...
  • To Hell In A Bucket
      No-one Cares... “No one really cares about the U.S. federal debt,” remarked a colleague and Economic Prism reader earlier in the week.  “You keep writing about it as if anyone gives a lick.” We could tell he was just warming up.  So, we settled back into our chair and made ourselves comfortable.   The federal debtberg, which no-one cares about (yet). We have added the most recent bar manually, as the charts published by the Fed will only be updated at the end of the...
  • Despite 24/7 Trading: Bitcoin Investors are Taking off for the Weekend on Friday Already
      Crypto-Statistics In the last issue of Seasonal Insights I have discussed how the S&P 500 Index performs on individual days of the week. In this issue I will show an analysis of the average cumulative annual returns of bitcoin on individual days of the week.   Bitcoin, daily. While this is beside the point, we note the crypto-currency (and other “alt coins” as well) has minor performance issues lately. The white line indicates important lateral support, but this looks to...
  • Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      Fundamental Developments There were big moves in the metals markets this week. The price of gold was up an additional $21 and that of silver $0.30. Will the dollar fall further?As always, we are interested in the fundamentals of supply and demand as measured by the basis. But first, here are the charts of the prices of gold and silver, and the gold-silver ratio.   Gold and silver prices in USD terms (as of last week Friday) - click to enlarge.   Next, this is a...
  • Janet Yellen's 78-Month Plan for the National Monetary Policy of the United States
      Past the Point of No Return Adventures in depravity are nearly always confronted with the unpleasant reality that stopping the degeneracy is much more difficult than starting it.  This realization, and the unsettling feeling that comes with it, usually surfaces just after passing the point of no return.  That's when the cucumber has pickled over and the prospect of turning back is no longer an option.   Depravity and bedlam through the ages. The blue barge of perdition in the...

Support Acting Man

j9TJzzN

Austrian Theory and Investment

Archive

350x200

THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

Realtime Charts

 

Gold in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Gold in EUR:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Silver in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Platinum in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

USD - Index:

[Most Recent USD from www.kitco.com]

 

 
Buy Silver Now!
 
Buy Gold Now!
 

Oilprice.com