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Posts Tagged ‘The Fed’

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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NYSE

The New York Stock Exchange. Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.

Luke 15:14

Coronavirus live updates:  Washington state weighs mandatory measures to contain outbreak” is the most recent headline on CNBC. As has been the case with countless other headlines over the past few weeks, it announces another possible government action, this time by the State of Washington, to combat the spread of coronavirus in the U.S.  My point in citing this headline is not to commend or to criticize Washington for its program, but merely to illustrate that coronavirus continues to be the lead story in the American press, a position that for the most part it’s held for at least a month.

Admittedly, the coronavirus story has proven difficult for this author to assess.  A big part of the problem is the lack of credible sources.  The Communist Chinese government is not necessarily the most reliable source of information concerning the state of affairs in the country.  Then again, the Western press, specifically the American mainstream media, is no better, at least in the opinion of this author. For example, two weeks ago the New York Times ran a “helpful” opinion piece titled “Let’s Call It Trumpvirus” which attempted to lay the blame for the current coronavirus crisis on the president.

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Coronavirus

CNBC headline on 2/21/20.  They want you to think it’s the Coronavirus that’s behind the stock market selloff, but the truth lies elsewhere.

“But we will certainly do whatever has gone out of our own mouth, to burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem.  For then we had plenty of food, were well-off, and saw no trouble.”

  • Jeremiah 44:17

In his book Logic, Gordon Clark noted a number of informal logical fallacies.  On page 17, he mentioned, among others, a fallacy called in Latin post hoc ergo propter hoc, or as we would say it in English, “after this, therefore because of this.” This logical error, hereafter the post hoc fallacy, involves asserting that, because event B took place after event A, that A is what caused B.

Now it’s true that there can be a cause and effect relationship between an earlier event and a late event.  In Jeremiah 44, the prophet, speaking for God, states, “You have seen all the calamity that I have brought on Jerusalem…because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke Me to anger.”  God makes it entirely clear in this passage that the prior disobedience of the people of Judah was the cause of his bringing judgment on Jerusalem.  We don’t have to guess at why the Babylonians leveled Jerusalem and burned the temple in 586 BC, God tells us explicitly both the cause and the effect.

Later in chapter 44, we get the reaction from the people to whom Jeremiah was prophesying.  As it turned out, they didn’t much care for his sermon. Part of their response to Jeremiah was a classic case of post hoc fallacy.  See if you can spot it.

But we will certainly do whatever has gone out of our own mouth, to burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem.  For then we had plenty of food, were well-off, and saw no trouble. But since we stopped burning incense to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offering to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine (Jeremiah 44:17-18).

Did I say, see if you can spot it?  Reading this passage further, it seems to me that there are two post hoc fallacies to be found.  In the first place, the people argue that their burning incense and pouring out drink offerings were the cause of their prosperity when they were in the land, when, in fact, it was God’s grace that provided for them.  Second, they attributed their current state of exile to their worshipping the queen of heaven, when, in fact, the cause of their exile was God’s punishing them for their disobedience.

I bring up the preceding Biblical example of post hoc fallacy to introduce the main point of this post, which is to refute the linkage, put forward by mainstream financial reporters, the outbreak of the Corona virus in China is reason for the recent stock market sell off and spike in the price of gold.

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Eccles_2

The Eccles Building, the main office of the Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C.

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

  • John 3:19-20

The words from John at the top of this post are readily recognized by Christians as coming from Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus, the Pharisee who came to inquire of him one night.  The immediate application of Jesus’ words is, of course, to himself as the light who came into the world and was rejected of men, for they loved evil and feared lest their deeds should be exposed.

But while Christ said these words in the context of explaining his person and purpose for coming in the flesh to Nicodemus, his comments have a wider application.  They are a specific case of a broader principle we see in Scripture, that of the Christian principle of openness and honesty.  Those who love the truth do what they do in the open.  They let their light shine before men that others may see their goods works and glorify their Father in heaven.  On the other hand, those who practice evil, those who have something to hide, they do their work in the dark, fearing to be seen by men.

One application of the principle of openness and light is the Christian idea of government as a servant of the people, not as their master.  When the disciples argued about who was the greatest, Jesus explained the Christian concept of leadership, which was radically different from the model the world offered.  Christ explained that the rulers of the Gentiles “exercised lordship” (lorded it over) them, but such was not to be the case among his followers.  Following Jesus example, those who would be first in the Kingdom of Heaven were to be servants of all.

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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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“The greatest threat facing middle and working class Americans is our depreciating paper currency.”

    – Ron Paul

Gold, Peace, And Prosperity, The Birth Of A New Currency
by Congressman Ron Paul (Auburn, Alabama: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 2011, 91 pages with index).

There is, perhaps, no more critical subject facing our nation at the moment than the activities of the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States of America. But while the Fed’s actions over the past 100 years have had a profoundly negative effect on the lives of nearly all Americans, very few people are aware of the ways in which they are robbed by Fed policy. Even more frustrating from the standpoint of those who believe in sound money is that that there appears to be little desire on the part of Americans to cure their ignorance by studying the machinations of these masters of the universe who run the Fed.

Gold_Peace_Prosperity

One of the principle reasons people remain in the chains of ignorance concerning the Fed is the reporting of mainstream financial journalists. The stories one sees in the mainstream press about financial matters – whether in print or on television, it matters not – seem designed more to steer people away from the truth about the workings of the Fed rather than lead them to understanding.

In stark contrast to the long-winded flim-flam one hears on most news outlets about the Fed, Ron Paul’s Gold, Peace, An Prosperity, The Birth Of A New Currency (hereafter Gold, Peace And Prosperity) is a breath of fresh air. In his typical fashion, Paul manages to be both profound and concise in his comments. This book, a short 91 pages including introductions by Henry Hazlitt and Murray Rothbard plus an index, equips the reader with more sound teaching about the problems with our current Federal Reserve system as well as how to fix it than entire shelves full of books by most authors.

Did I mention that this is a short book? Just to give you a sense of what I mean, it can be read in one sitting. When I re-read it for this review, it took me a little over two hours reading at a leisurely pace and taking notes. As John Robbins noted in his exposition of Philemon, many scholars make the assumption that nothing short can be profound. But this is a mistake. Gold, Peace, An Prosperity stands as proof of this.

Worth noting is that this book was first published in 1981. That is significant for the reason that Ron Paul was part of the Gold Commission convened by President Reagan at the time to study the possibility of returning the United States to the gold standard, an option that ultimately was voted down by the Commission. The next year, the Minority Report of the Gold Commission was published under the title The Case for Gold (see here for free pdf and epub downloads), which is considered something of a modern day classic by advocates of sound money. I would by all means recommend reading The Case for Gold, but I think Gold, Peace, An Prosperity is an even better place to start. While The Case for Gold provides more detail than Gold, Peace, And Prosperity, the latter is less technical in its language and much shorter, making it an ideal read for those just starting to learn about sound money, or, for that matter, those who would like a refresher course from one of the few statesmen of recent times who actually understands the monetary problems we face as a nation as well as what is needed to fix them.

In the first chapter of the book titled “Impending Social Strife?,” Paul writes, “We probably will see widespread civil disorder in the 1980s.” Looking back 38 years, some may be tempted to discount Paul’s argument for sound money by accusing him of being an alarmist. “You see,” they will say, “we didn’t have widespread civil unrest in the 1980s, so all this talk about economic collapse in 2019 is just so much conspiracy theory nonsense.”

What shall we say to this? Does the fact that widespread civil unrest did not occur in America in the 1980s refute Paul’s argument against the Fed and for sound money? No, it does not. While it may seem odd to many today that there was serious consideration of a return to the gold standard in the early 1980s, one has to remember the context. America had just gone through the terrible stagflation – stagflation was a term coined in the 1970s to describe a situation where there was simultaneous inflation and little or no economic growth, a state of affairs that the standard Keynesian economics of that time could not account for – of the 1970s that followed hard on the heels of President Nixon’s decision to take America off the Bretton Woods gold exchange standard in 1971. Just to give you a sense of the inflation of the 1970s, gold went from $35 dollars and ounce in 1971 to around $800 an ounce at its peak in 1980, a surge of roughly 2000%.

Second, all the problems that Paul identified in 1981 with the Fed are still with us today and are far larger than what they were when he first wrote. On October 22, 1981, 38 years ago almost to the day, the federal debt first topped $1 trillion. Today in 2019, it stands at over $22 trillion. According to this CCN article, the 2019 federal deficit – the deficit is the yearly amount by which federal spending outstrips tax revenue; the debt the total of all previous budgetary shortfalls – was $984 billion. Stop and think about that for a moment. It took the federal government over 200 years to accumulate $1 trillion debt, an amount it’s now adding on a yearly basis.

What Ron Paul did not foresee in 1981 was the cunning ruthlessness of the central bankers and the politicians to not only maintain the corrupt system, but also to expand it. In 1981, there was no Plunge Protection Team. No one had ever heard of Quantitative Easing and if anyone had spoken of negative interest rates, he would have been laughed to scorn. Yet the bankers, politicians and news media have managed not only to sell the public on all this financial flim-flam, but they make it seem downright normal. This was possible largely because the American people did not take to heart Paul’s warnings from 1981.

Ron Paul was right on target when he wrote, “The greatest threat facing middle and working class Americans is our depreciating paper currency.” This was true in 1981, and it’s true today in 2019.

I highly recommend Gold, Peace, An Prosperity. Not only is it a great primer on the dangers of the central banking, paper money and the importance of sound money, reading it makes me want to shout the title of a more recent book by Paul, End the Fed!

Chapters include: Foreword by Henry Hazlitt; Preface by Murray Rothbard; Impending Social Strife?; The People are Demanding an End to Inflation; Depreciation is Nothing New; “Not Worth a Continental”; The Best Medium of Exchange; Cross of Paper; How Our Money was Ruined; The Stage is Set; Is Business to Blame?; Are Banks to Blame?; Are Unions to Blame?; Inflation and the Business Cycle; The Guilt of the Economists; The Alternative to Inflation; Money and the Constitution; Morality and Transfer Payments; Citizen Control of Money; Day of Reckoning; Free Market Money?; Legal Tender Laws; An Historical Precedent; The End – or the Beginning; Index.

 

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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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