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Posts Tagged ‘Debt Crisis’

Mnuchin.Unemployment

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin warns that unemployment could reach 25%, a level equal to that of the Great Depression.  But according to economist John Williams, not only are we already at 25% unemployment, we’re well  past it.

Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.

  • Matthew 5:26

 

“Trump administration is ‘willing to spend whatever it takes’ to mitigate coronavirus crisis says Steven Mnuchin as he continue to facilitate bipartisan negotiations – but admits unemployment could hit 25%.”

That somewhat longish headline leads story from today, May 10, 2020 in the Daily Mail.  A few things are worth noting here.  First, the current economic crisis is called, inaccurately, the “coronavirus crisis.”  The massive unemployment and terrifying declines in industrial production that have hit the U.S. and other Western nations has not been caused by the coronavirus.  It is the government’s response to the coronavirus that is the immediate cause of the 20 + million private sector jobs lost in month of April.  To put that number is some perspective, the previous record monthly job loss number was 800,000 + which occurred during the height of the 2008 financial crisis in March 2009.  The virus did not shut down the economy and cause record job losses; the politicians and bureaucrats did.  By calling it the “coronavirus crisis,” politicians are attempting to shift the blame from themselves to a virus.

Second, the negotiations in which U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is immersed involved more money printing by the Federal Reserve and more deficit spending by Congress.  The truth, that Fed money printing and prodigal spending by Congress are the root cause of our current economic crisis, is nowhere to be seen.  Treasury Secretary Mnuchin wants you to believe that the cure for our financial woes us is doing more of the same things that put us in this mess in the first place.

Third, note well that Steve Mnuchin is facilitating “bipartisan negotiations.” As a lifelong Republican – I’m from the Tea Party/Ron Paul wing of the Republican party, not the mainstream, but nevertheless I am a Republican – I hate to admit that the my own party is in part responsible for the incompetent and immoral response to the coronavirus, a response that has included doling out literally trillions of dollars, dollars all which had to be borrowed into existence by the combined efforts of Congress and the Fed.  I would like to blame all of this on the Democrats, but that is simply would not be honest.  It is Democrats and Republicans conspiring together to spend money we don’t have in ways that were never authorized by the Constitution.  With a few exceptions, nary a peep of protest is heard from either party concerning the shockingly large spending programs already put in place, programs which Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) called, “the largest wealth transfer in history.”  And now Congress is colluding with the Trump administration on even more deficit spending.

Fourth, Steve Mnuchin admits that unemployment could hit 25%.  Here’s some news for Mr. Mnuchin, most likely unemployment is already well north of that figure.  Actually, it’s probably not news to him at all.  One suspects he already knows this.  What a lot of people don’t know is that the government changed the way it calculates unemployment.  In 1994, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stopped counting long-term discouraged workers – a long term discouraged worker is someone who has not attempted to find work in the last four weeks – as unemployed.  Previous to that, such person were included in the unemployment calculations released by the BLS.  John Williams is an economist who runs his own website called Shadow Stats.  Among the services he provides is a monthly calculation of the unemployment rate using government’s old method.  Want to take a guess at where he puts current unemployment?  Try 35%!  If Williams’ numbers are anywhere near accurate, we already have a far worse employment situation than what occurred during the Great Depression, which is usually estimated at 25%.  Presumably, that’s the reason Mnuchin picked the number that he did.

So much for the Daily Mail’s headline.

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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

When I began writing this series back in early August, I did so as a response to a hard selloff in the stock market that followed the Fed’s decision at the end of July to lower interest rates.  As I noted in that first post in this series, I decided on the title “The Ongoing Financial Crisis of 2008” because it is my view that the market melt down that began in earnest in the fall of that year has never really gone away.

What occurred was that central banks took money printing into hyper-drive in late 2008 and early 2009 and managed to reflate the stock market bubble that had popped earlier in 2008.  I likened their actions to what the prophet Ezekiel called plastering walls with untempered mortar.  In other words, the Fed addressed the symptoms of the financial crisis, but not the cause of the crisis itself.

Eleven years later, this is still the case.  Nothing has been fixed.  Nothing has improved.  In fact, not only have things not improved, they have gotten far worse.

The 2008 crisis, what is sometimes called the Global Financial Crisis or the GFC, was a debt crisis.  There was simply more debt in the financial system than could be repaid.  So what was the response of the Fed and the federal government?  They conspired to create even more debt to solve a crisis caused by too much debt, as if somehow more of the same thing that caused the problem in the first place was also the solution!

To borrow an English proverb, this was the financial equivalent of bringing coals to Newcastle.

If a man is an alcoholic, you don’t cure hm by giving him another bottle of whiskey.  While another bottle may make him feel better for the moment, in the long run it will kill him.  Yet this is not so very different from what governments and central banks all over the world did in 2008.  They went on a spending and money printing spree, which managed to kick the can down the road but did nothing to solve the underlying problem.

As a result, while the economies of the United States and other Western nations have appeared to recover their health, the underlying fundamentals of those economies have grown steadily worse.  Just in America, our national debt has more than doubled since 2008 and now sits at $23 trillion.

Just to give you as sense of how fast debt is now piling up, it took the federal government from the founding of our country until 1982 to compile $1 trillion in debt.  Now, even mainstream sources are predicting that the annual deficit for fiscal year 2020 – this is the federal government’s fiscal year which began on October 1, 2019 and ends on September 30, 2020 – will be in excess of $1 trillion.  In other words, the federal government is adding the same nominal amount of debt in a single year that it previously took about 200 years to accrue.

Oddly, no one in Washington seems the least bit concerned about this.  Not the Democrats.  Not the Republicans.  No one except an odd fellow here and there such as Senator Rand Paul.

The Bible teaches us that debt is a burden.  At best, it is something that is to be used prudently and paid off timely.

Yet we all live with a debt-based financial system that, not only encourages debt, but actually requires debt to increase at a faster and faster pace just to keep the system from imploding.  This debt-based system of financial perdition was put in place in the United States with the passing of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.  The Fed has been destroying not only the financial fabric of the nation, but its moral fabric as well, for over 100 years.

What is true of America is also the case with all other Western nations.

We have become enslaved by debt, and all the more with each passing year.

But just as untempered mortar quickly shows itself when exposed to a little rain, so too are the phony fixes put in place in 2008 beginning to come unglued.  In fact, this author has been amazed by how badly the financial system has deteriorated in the past three months he has been writing this series.

In just that short time, the Fed has, apparently on a permanent basis, started baling out the overnight repo market, twice cut interest rates and resumed Quantitative Easing (QE).  These are all various forms of money printing, which have the long-run effect of weakening the dollar resulting in higher prices and a lower standard of living.

And these are just the activities they openly acknowledge.  In the opinion of this author, the Fed rigs all financial markets 24/7 to provide the appearance of normalcy.  Stocks, bonds, real estate and oil are propped up, while precious metals – gold and silver – and crypto currencies are suppressed.

Bet even as the Fed rigs all markets and the government statisticians put out phony economic numbers designed to understate unemployment and inflation while overstating economic growth, there are some stats that cannot be rigged.

If one looks closely at the economic numbers that are put out, he will see that, all the economic cheer leading from the administration aside, there is almost no good economic news to be found.  Here is just a sample of recent headlines showing just how serious things are getting:

 

I could easily produce many more such headlines, but I trust the reader gets the point that, economically speaking, things aren’t all that great out there.  What’s even more remarkable is that these headlines are showing up at a time when the Fed has put the money printing pedal to the metal, intervening more aggressively in the market than at any time since the height of the 2008 crisis.

But while all that money printing has, apparently, not turned around the economy, the stock market is hitting new record highs.

So which is it?  Are we to believe, the stock market, the politicians and the Wall Street cheer leaders, who tell us everything is awesome, or the economic statistics which point to an oncoming recession?

For my part, I’ll trust the economic statistics.  Not, mind you, because I think economic statistics furnish us with knowledge.  Only the 66 books of the Bible do that.  No, it’s not that economic statistics are true that causes me to trust them.  Rather, it is that the monetary and fiscal policies pursued by central banks and Western governments – that is to say, money printing and deficit spending – are morally bankrupt and will, in the long-run, inevitably lead to financial bankruptcy as well.

All this naturally leads to the question, when will the next economic crisis hit?  My answer:  I don’t know.

In my opinion, the entire world economic system should have collapsed in 2008, but extraordinary action by the world’s central banks managed to resuscitate the system.  The financial system could easily have collapsed any time since then, but for the ongoing interventions – both public and secret – of central banks and governments ever since.

In short, we’ve all been living on borrowed time.

So how much more time are the masters of the universe able, or even willing, to buy?  I don’t know.

In my opinion, the apparent quickening pace of the slide into recession seems to indicate that the time before the next major financial crisis is relatively short.  That said, this author has been amazed at the ability of the establishment to maintain order as long as they have, so I would caution against any predictions that the wheels are definitely going to come off in the short-term.  Quite obviously, the Trump administration is doing everything in its power to maintain normalcy until after the November 2020 elections, which are just under a year away.  Can they hold things together until then?  We’ll see.

But regardless of the timing, it is my thesis that a major financial crisis is coming.  This will not be a garden variety recession.  It will be like the 2008 crisis, only worse, for the simple reason that the debt crisis has gotten worse.  Instead of dealing honestly with things in 2008, all we did was double down on the debt and kicked the can down the road.

But the point is coming when the can is no longer kickable.

That’s when things will get interesting.

And that’s the reason I’ve written this series on prepping.  The bill for our debts is coming due, and I have a great burden to alert my fellow Christians to this, so that they may, as the prudent man in Proverbs 22:3, foresee trouble coming and hide themselves.

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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 CrisisTrump touts ‘strongest economy in the world’ after disappointing jobs report,” ran a recent headline that managed to capture both the official line of the Trump administration and the contrasting reality portrayed by many recent underlying economic data points.

The February 2019 jobs report, released in early March, was expected to show a gain of 190,000 jobs, but instead reflected a gain of only 20,000. That’s a big miss in anybody’s book.

Now one could argue that President Trump’s statement is not negated by the disappointing jobs report. The US could indeed have the strongest economy in the world – depending on how one defines “strong” – and still do a face plant when it comes to the production of new jobs. All that is required for these two ideas to be true at the same time is for the rest of the world to be in a bigger mess than the US.

It is the contention, however, of this author that, in spite of all the talk of a booming economy coming from the Administration and from various sources on Wall Street and in the media, the US economy is not doing well and, in fact, is very likely headed into recession. It may actually be in recession as of this writing. Below are thirteen reasons why this author thinks so.

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