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Posts Tagged ‘Central Banking’

The_Phillip_Medhurst_Picture_Torah_122._Abraham_purchasing_Ephron._Genesis_cap_22_v_16._Hoet (2)
Abraham purchasing the cave of Machpelah from Ephron by Phillip Medhurst. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Abraham weighed out the silver for Ephron which he had named in the hearing of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, currency of the merchants.

  • Genesis 23:16

In his lecture “Money, Freedom and the Bible,” John Robbins argued that the manufacturing of money was not a proper function of government, because there is no warrant for this in Scripture.  The Bible charges the civil magistrate with the duty to punish evildoers and reward the good.  There is no mention of anywhere in Scripture of God granting civil governments the right to manufacture money.

The first time I heard this many years ago, I was shocked by this idea.  “But all governments manufacture money,” I thought to myself.  “If the government didn’t supply money, who would?” I continued.

Of course, my initial objection can be answered by pointing out that simply because a thing is done does not logically imply that it ought to be done.  In the 18th century, David Hume famously made this point.

Secondly, concerning who would supply money in the absence of governments, the answer to this is the market would take care of this.  As Robbins noted in his lecture, there is such an example of this in Genesis 23, where Abraham pays for the field to bury Sarah by weighing 400 shekels of silver, “currency of the merchant.”  Note that it was not the currency of Pharaoh, nor the currency of the King of the Hittites that Abraham weighed out.  It was the currency of the merchants.  That is to say, it was a unit of money that arose from the common practice of the free market.  Importantly, it was not a government issued currency, neither was it the product of a government licensed central bank.

For that reason, that it arose in the marketplace and was privately managed by the merchants who used it, the shekel weighed out by Abraham was an honest unit of money.  The same cannot be said for sovereign currencies of our day.  Not only do they fail to maintain purchasing power, but they are deliberately designed to lose value over time.  To this author’s knowledge, there is not one honest currency in use today, including, and perhaps especially, the U.S. Dollar.

Last week’s post titled “This is Going to Hurt, Part 1: Honestly Facing our National Bankruptcy,” discussed the disastrous economic numbers coming out as a result of the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.  Please note, I did not write, “the disastrous economic numbers coming out as a result of the coronavirus pandemic,” but, “the disastrous economic numbers coming out as a result of the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.” It is not the Chinese coronavirus that caused over 30 million Americans to lose their jobs in the past six weeks, it is decision, more accurately decisions, of various government officials that have led to this disaster.

But oddly, as I also noted, the stock market has rebounded even as economic activity has made record declines.  How can this be?  The short answer to this question is money printing on a mind-blowing scale by the U.S. Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States.

My purpose in this post is to lay out in non-technical language what a central bank is and what it does.  In subsequent posts, I shall illustrate the unbiblical, immoral nature of central banking by looking in detail at the origin, the workings and the disastrous effects Federal Reserve (the Fed) policy has had on our nation.

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Yahoo_Limit Down_2020_03_22_802pm

Yahoo finance reports US stock futures in ‘limit down’ status on Sunday, 3/22/2020.  Worth noting is Yahoo’s attribution of the crisis to the “coronavirus crisis.”  This is incorrect.  Our financial crisis is the responsibility of the Fed and those who justify and encourage its ungodly practices of debt creation, monetary debasement and bailouts.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28

That was an interesting week.  Last week, I’m talking about.  The one where, if we are still working, we’re doing so from makeshift home offices, the one where governors are locking down the citizenry of entire states and shutting down their economies, the one where the financial markets continue of crash at a rate comparable to, or even exceeding, that of 1929, and this at a time when the Fed is printing more funny money faster than it ever has.

It would seem that Humpty Dumpty indeed has fallen, and all the king’s horses and men are working feverishly to put him back together.  Will they succeed?  That depends on your definition of success.  It may well be that by printing enough money and bailing out not just individual companies, but entire industries, the powers that be may succeed in extending the current politico-financial system a bit longer.  Maybe another year of so.  Who knows?  Longer term, it is doubtful that the current governmental and financial structures currently in place will be able to survive in their current form.  Change is going to happen.

Just to give you a idea about how desperate some in the political establishment haver become, last week a member of Congress suggested  that the federal government provide every person in America – she did not say citizens, but every person in America, which includes, among others, illegal aliens – with a pre-loaded debit card in the amount of $2,000, which would be renewed with $1,000 per month for a year.  That works out to $660 billion for the first month, then $330 Billion for the next eleven months.  If I’ve done my math correctly, this works out to almost $4.2 trillion.

How does she plan to pay for it?  This Congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), wants the Treasury to issue two $1 trillion platinum coins, have the Fed purchase the coins, then have the Treasury sweep the funds into the Treasury General account, from which the money would be disbursed to “every person in America.”

This is nothing but a massive dollar devaluation scheme, not unlike what FDR did in 1933-34 when he forced everyone to turn in his physical gold, then devalued the dollar about 70% against gold.  The biggest difference is that Tlaib’s scheme would be far more aggressive in devaluing the dollar, meaning it would be massively inflationary.  This can easily be seen if we consider the current price os platinum and the amount of investment grade platinum that is currently available.  The current price of platinum in US dollars is $618.61.  According to this article, there are about 8 million total ounces of investment grade platinum bullion available in the world.  At current prices, this means the total value of all investible platinum is about $5 billion.  If the US federal government used this entire 8 million ounces to mint two huge coins weighing 4 million ounces each, this implies that the dollar would be devalued against platinum to approx. 1/400 of its current value.  Put another way, platinum would go from $618.62 per ounce to around $247,444 per ounce.  Other prices would rise accordingly.  Put another way, the dollar would lose 99.75% of its value against platinum.  This is even enough to make an inflationist such as FDR blush.

Of course, it’s highly doubtful that, even if Tlaib’s scheme were put into practice, the coins – if you can call a 4 million troy ounce object a coin at all – would almost certainly be far smaller than in my example above.  This means that the devaluation of the dollar would be far greater than 99.75%

Further, Tlaib claims that her scheme is deficit-neutral, not requiring any new debt to be issued.  Perhaps I’m missing something here or have done my math wrong, but the cost of her program for one year is more than double the $2 Trillion value of her two proposed coins, so where does the other $2 trillion plus come from?

I went through the above exercise in some detail just to give you an example of the sort of absurd nonsense that passes for thinking among our leaders in Washington.  And while Tlaib’s scheme is ridiculous, it’s really not all that much more absurd than proposals being floated by the Trump administration.  Trump is talking about bailing out whole industries, having the federal government own stock of bailed out companies and sending checks to everyone as well.  President Trump himself has gone on record arguing for negative interest rates and quantitative easing.

As in 2008, so it is in 2020.  Government officials are running around with their hair on fire desperately trying to fix a debt crisis by, wait for it…taking on more debt!

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Eccles_2

The Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building in Washington D.C.

“[T]he Fed has one power that is unique to it alone: it enables the creation of money out of thin air.”

    – Ron Paul, End The Fed

The welfare state, the warfare state and the loss of liberty.

Inflation, extreme income inequality and the destruction of the middle class.

Exploding federal debt, skyrocketing federal deficits and a financial system on the brink of failure.

What do all these things have in common? To one degree or another, they are all the effects of the Federal Reserve System, more commonly known as the Fed, America’s central bank.

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Financial Crisis

A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.

    Proverbs 22:3

It was back in August that we began our look at the ongoing 2008 financial crisis. The immediate occasion for my writing on this topic was the sudden plunge in the US stock indices following the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates in late July. The market sold off hard, but managed to stabilize, or more accurately, was stabilized by the powers that be after a phone call by President Trump with three major bank CEO’s.

This was a similar situation to what happened around the end of the year in 2018. On December 23, the day before the Dow and S&P indices had their largest ever declines on Christmas Eve, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin placed individual calls to America’s six largest banks – Brian Moynihan, Bank of America; Michael Corbat, Citi; David Solomon, Goldman Sachs; Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan Chase; James Gorman, Morgan Stanley; Tim Sloan, Wells Fargo. When the market re-opened after the Christmas break on December 26, the Dow closed up 1,086.25 points, the largest single day gain in the history of the index. This huge day was after a terrible December and in the absence of any news that would have caused a market surge.

Was there a relationship between Mnuchin’s call on December 23 and the blast off in the stock market three days later? While this can’t be formally proven, in the opinion of this author it is the most likely explanation. In short, I think that Mnuchin told these CEO’s to buy the market and that they obliged.

If my understanding is correct, this means that at least twice in the period of eight months orders came down from on high to rescue the stock markets. What, I would ask you, does this say about the state of our financial system? What are we to think of a system that requires this level of manipulation to keep from crashing?

Of course, calls from Trump and Mnuchin are not the only sort of manipulation in the financial system. In the short time that I’ve been writing this series, we’ve seen additional extraordinary measures taken by the Fed to prop up the system.

First there was the bailout of the overnight Repo market. Originally, this was to be for a few days in September. Next, they extended it to a couple weeks. Then it got pushed out to the second week of November, then it was January 2020. Just last week, Fed President James Bullard expressed his preference for a “standing repo facility.” By this he seems to mean that he wants the current repo market intervention by the Fed to become a permanent policy tool of the central bank.

And that’s not all. Last week on Wednesday, the Fed started QE4. With this latest iteration of what in 2008 was termed an “emergency policy,” the Fed will by purchasing $60 billion a month in T-Bill (T-Bills are short-term US Treasury debt instruments). Where, you ask, does the Fed get the $60 billion per month to conduct QE4? They get it by a process that, were you or I to try it, we’d be arrested. In short, they counterfeit it out of thin air.

Here’s another question you may want to ask yourself. If the economy is doing so great as we’re constantly being told by the mainstream financial press, why is the Fed running simultaneous bailouts of both the overnight repo market and the bond market, both of which are designed to prop up the stock market? The obvious answer is that, far from being the greatest economy ever, the US, and indeed the world’s, financial markets are a mess and getting messier by the day. All the hype you hear about how great the economy is doing is propaganda designed to keep you locked into the system for the benefit of those who run it.

In light of the enormous lies that are being told to the American people by government officials, by bankers, and by the press, in the opinion of this author it is imperative that God’s people hear the truth about the financial state of the country and some sound advice about how to take measures to protect themselves financially. That is the purpose of this week’s installment.

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Financial Crisis

“In his book…A Christian View of Men and Things [Gordon] Clark comments that the growth of government is the greatest tragedy of the twentieth century.”

    – John W. Robbins, “The Growth of Government in the United States

The thesis underlying this series of posts and reflected in the series’ titles, is that the 2008 financial crisis never really went away. Yes, the stock market has recovered and gone on to hit new highs. Yes, we don’t see massive layoffs taking place or people standing in bread lines. So the visual cues that we expect in a financial crisis are not present.

Further, we see announcements in the press stating how strong the American economy is, and various statistics are brought forth to prove this, perhaps most notably a low unemployment rate.

Donald Trump has been very aggressive at touting the strength of the American economy. The day after the worst stock market plunge of 2019, the President tweeted, “The United States is now, by far, the Biggest, Strongest and Most Powerful Economy in the World, it is not even close! As other falter, we will only get stronger. Consumers are in the best shape ever, plenty of cash. Business Optimism is at an All Time High!”

Now at least some of this is likely true. Objectively speaking, America has the world’s largest economy as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP). But there are reasons to doubt some of the President’s other claims.

For example, while the President says that consumers are in the best shape ever, the very next day CNBC ran a story announcing that Americans are more indebted than ever before. This hardly supports the President’s claim that consumers are in the best shape ever.

And if the economy is doing so well, why, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, has the labor force participation rate never recovered to the pre-crisis level?

If everything is so great, why has President Trump publicly called for more Quantitative Easing (QE) and interest rate cuts? QE is a radical money printing scheme which was used by the Federal Reserve as an emergency measure to save the financial system in the 2008 crisis. Since QE is an emergency measure that was used to stave off financial collapse, why is it that, on the one hand, President Trump is telling us that the economy is doing great under his leadership, but, on the other hand, is calling for emergency QE as if the financial system were collapsing again?

Another item contradicting the official narrative that everything is awesome with the economy is the calls for interest rate cuts. In the link above, Trump was calling for the Fed to lower interest rates. In a strong economy, demand for money is reflected in rising, not falling, interest rates. If the President is calling for the Fed to lower interest rates, by implication, he is saying the economy is stalling out, not charging ahead.

In the opinion of this writer, the struggles of ordinary Americans to find work and to make ends meet are reflective of a financial system in disarray, not one experiencing rapid growth.

Further, it is my view that the economic problems roiling America stem from the fact the American government and financial elite have refused for more than a decade now to deal honestly with the serious financial crisis facing the United States. At the root of the problem is the Fed, America’s central bank. Central banking is inherently immoral, unchristian, and destructive of the legitimate interests of the great bulk of the American people.

One of the great evils that flows from central banking is another great plague of modern society: Big Government.

In the quote at the top of this page, John Robbins noted that Gordon Clark thought that the growth of government in the United States was the greatest tragedy of the twentieth century. Considering all the evils of that century, Clark’s statement is remarkable indeed.

It is the contention of this author that America is going bankrupt as a result of big government, a great evil which itself is the child of the prior great evil of central banking. Yet there is no serious attempt on the part of elected officials of either party to address this situation.

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Financial Crisis

A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself; The simple pass on and are punished.

    – Proverbs 27:12

In light of the recent upheavals in the financial markets, it seemed good to me to take this occasion to update my comments on ongoing financial crisis. I say ongoing, because it is my contention that the crisis that first manifested itself in 2008 has never really gone away.

In Ezekiel we read God’s complaint against the prophets of Israel. At one point he says, “Because, indeed, because they [the prophets] have seduced My people, saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace – and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with untempered mortar – say to those who plaster it with untempered mortar, that it will fall. There will be flooding rain, and you, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall tear it down. Surely, when the wall has fallen, will it not be said to you, ‘Where is the mortar with which you plastered it?’ ”

Such a wall, one built with untempered mortar, may appear sound. But when faced with the elements, it’s shoddy construction becomes evident to all.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expressed a similar idea when he compared the man who built his house on sand with the man who built upon the rock. For all we know, the house built on sand may have been beautiful in appearance, but it lacked a firm foundation and it fell. The house built on the rock took the beating and stood strong.

It is the contention of this author that the relative prosperity that the West has enjoyed since 2008 is rapidly coming to an end for the same reason that both Ezekiel and Jesus described: The real causes of the 2008 crisis have never been addressed, only papered over with fake solutions. Fakery, it would appear, is coming to an end.

In the following post, and perhaps posts, I’d like to explore at least some of the factors that are driving the West to bankruptcy. I’d also like to discuss what Christians can do to prepare themselves for the difficult financial times that lie ahead. Finally, I’d like to discuss what Christians can do once the collapse occurs to begin to rebuild our civilization on a sounder footing than we have today.

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.Youre-FiredThe big story this past week? Pretty obviously it was Donald Trump’s decision to reprise his role on the Apprentice, issuing a “Comey, you’re fired” to the now former FBI Director.

As with any decision of this sort, the was a sharp divide along party lines. Some Republicans cheered the news. Democrats, on the other hand, railed against the decision.

Writing in The New Yorker, John Cassidy opined, “At a time like this, it is important to express things plainly. On Tuesday evening, Donald Trump acted like a despot.”

Oh, spare me. The republic will survive.

Generally speaking, the hiring and firing of federal bureaucrats is not a terribly interesting topic. But in Comey’s case, a few words are in order.

For my part, I lost all respect for the man last summer when he failed to recommend charges against a clearly guilty Hillary Clinton in the Servergate scandal.

Then, just a week before the November vote, Comey claimed he was reopening the investigation, only to shut it down just a few days later. This made Comey appear indecisive.

A third failure of judgment on Comey’s part was his decision to launch an investigation into Trump’s dealings with Russia, based, as it was, in part on the debunked “Golden Shower” dossier.

So we have an FBI Director who wouldn’t recommend charges against Hillary Clinton, against whom there was a mountain of evidence suggesting serious wrongdoing during her term as Secretary of State, but who continued to doggedly pursue the case against Donald Trump, a case notable for its complete lack of actual evidence.

So, should Comey have been fired? Yes.He failed the biggest test of his career when he refused to recommend charges against a clearly guilty Hillary Clinton. Thankfully, the American people showed better judgment than he did by refusing to put her in office.

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Obama_This is going to hurtI know. I know. I’m late with my Week In Review. I could tell you the dog ate my homework, but I don’t think that that would fly.

Actually, I blame it on the IRS.

You see, as is the case with most folks who work in finance and accounting, during the first quarter of every year I get monkey hammered at work all for the purpose of meeting some arbitrary government deadline. Oh well. At least the over time’s good money.

And not only am I late this week, but I’m also going be short owing to another government program, Daylight savings time. I have to admit I do like the late sunsets, but that whole spring forward thing? It just kills me.

So without further ado and so I can get to bed at a decent hour, let’s look at some of this week’s top stories.

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rinkeby-riots

A policeman inspects a burned out vehicle following the riots in Rinkeby, Stockholm.

Some things seem to naturally go together. Peanut butter and jelly come to mind as a natural pairing. Baseball and summertime? I’m in. Even the terms “blowhard” and “politician” evoke a certain warmth of familiarity within me.

 

But riots and Sweden??!! Surely, you jest! Nevertheless, as they say, truth is stranger than fiction…

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