Archive for December, 2010
By Nicholas Larkin, Pham-Duy Nguyen and Tony C. Dreibus – Dec 28, 2010 7:20 AM PT
At a time when money managers’ concerns have swung between record government stimulus and the potential for a new recession, investors remain bullish on commodities that beat stocks and bonds for a second year.
The benchmark Standard & Poor’s GSCI gauge advanced 20 percent, more than the 9.1 percent gain in the MSCI World Index of stocks and 5.3 percent return on a Bank of America Merrill Lynch index of Treasuries. Currency traders are betting on a stronger dollar, sending a contrarian signal because commodities moved in an opposite direction to the currency in 16 of the past 20 quarters, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Silver, an investment and an industrial material, will jump as much as 37 percent next year, leading gains in the 15 commodities covered in a Bloomberg survey of more than 100 analysts, traders and investors. Zinc, this year’s worst- performing metal, will appreciate 21 percent. Arabica coffee, which reached a 13-year high last week, will be the weakest performer, adding no more than about 7 percent.
The strength in demand “has been a surprise considering that we’ve just come out of the worst recession since the 1930s and carnage in most asset classes,” London-based Roxana Mohammadian-Molina, one of a team of 18 analysts at Barclays Capital who correctly called the bottom in oil and copper last year, said by phone Dec. 22. The bank says U.S. natural gas, will be the only one of the 25 commodity prices it follows that will average less next year.
Global stocks are still about $11 trillion short of the record $62.6 trillion of market capitalization reached in October 2007, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Over the same period, commodity assets under management rose about 80 percent to $354 billion, and will attract a total of $60 billion in new money this year, the second most after 2009, Barclays estimates.
The S&P GSCI Index is extending last year’s 50 percent advance, which also beat the 27 percent jump in the MSCI World Index and the 3.7 percent loss on Treasuries.
Investors favored raw materials this year as China, the biggest user of everything from coal to iron ore to zinc, led the recovery from the first global recession since World War II. With economies now expanding, competition for raw materials is intensifying.
U.S. growth will rise to 3.25 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, from 2.5 percent in the first, according to the median estimates of as many as 66 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. China’s will slow to 9 percent next year from 10 percent in 2010, still three times the rate of the U.S. and six times the speed of the euro zone, the surveys show. China on Dec. 26 raised interest rates to counter inflation.
Commodities gaining the most will be those in which China is least self-sufficient and with the smallest spare production capacity, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts led by London-based Jeffrey Currie. Oil, copper, cotton, soybeans and platinum are the bank’s top picks.
Goldman on Dec. 13 forecast an 18 percent advance in raw materials in 12 months, led by a 28 percent gain in precious metals. That tallies with the results of the Bloomberg survey.
Silver, the precious metal most used in industry, will rise 37 percent to as high as $40 an ounce next year from $29.1238 an ounce Dec. 24 in trading in London, the survey shows. Palladium, used in catalytic converters for cars, will jump as much as 18 percent to $900 an ounce from $764 in trading in London Dec. 24.
Silver futures for March delivery rose 53 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $29.785 an ounce at 10:14 a.m. on the Comex in New York. Palladium futures for March delivery gained $11.90, or 1.6 percent, to $779 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Markets in London are closed for a second day today for public holidays.
“Investors will be cycling out of gold and into silver, platinum and palladium if financial and economic conditions improve,” said Jeffrey Christian, managing director of CPM Group, a research company in New York.
Christian correctly predicted in January that gold would reach $1,400 an ounce this year and is now forecasting prices to peak at $1,550 in the first quarter before declining as low as $1,200. The median forecast in the Bloomberg survey is for a 23 percent gain to as high as $1,700. Gold reached a record $1,431.25 Dec. 7 in London and closed at $1,381.47 Dec. 24.
Gold futures for February delivery rose $18.70 or 1.4 percent, to $1,401.60 on the Comex.
The popularity of precious metals suggests investors are seeking safety as governments and central banks pump money into economies to shore up recovery.
The Federal Reserve has kept its benchmark interest rate near zero since December 2008 and plans to inject $600 billion into the economy through June by purchasing government bonds through so-called quantitative easing. It already bought $1.7 trillion of securities in a first phase that ended in March.
“I like gold because I’m concerned that our fiscal and monetary policies don’t make any sense,” David Einhorn, the president of Greenlight Capital Inc., which manages about $6.8 billion of assets, said in an interview in New York. “It leads potentially to a risk of greater instability later.”
Investors increased precious-metals holdings by 22 percent to a record 17,390 metric tons in the 10 months to Dec. 17, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That’s worth about $111 billion, of which 84 percent is in gold and 13 percent in silver, with the remainder in platinum and palladium.
Returns for commodity investors may be lower than the spot index suggests. The S&P GSCI Total Return Index, tracking the net amount received, rose 8.4 percent this year, reflecting the cost of maintaining positions in futures markets. When longer- dated contracts cost more than those for immediate delivery, a market structure known as contango, investors pay a premium to maintain their holdings as positions expire.
Gains in commodities may evaporate if currency traders’ bets that the dollar will strengthen are right.
Contracts on the dollar appreciating against the euro are at a three-month high and the U.S. Dollar Index gauge against six counterparts rose 6 percent since Nov. 4. The inverse relationship between the currency market and commodities last month reached the highest level in more than a year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Commodity experts in the Bloomberg survey are betting this time will be different amid surging demand and dwindling stockpiles.
Copper use will outpace supply by 825,000 tons next year, more than twice the inventory in LME-monitored warehouses, according to Barclays Capital. Prices which reached a record $9,392 a ton on Dec. 21 in London will rise to $10,475 next year, the Bloomberg survey shows. Zinc will be the best- performing industrial metal, advancing as much as 21 percent to $2,800 a ton from $2,308 in London on Dec. 24.
Copper futures for delivery in March rose 2.25 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $4.3025 a pound on the Comex. Earlier, the metal climbed to an all-time high of $4.3195.
Demand may also come from new exchange-traded products. ETF Securities Ltd. started offering investors ETPs backed by copper, tin and nickel this month, attracting about $25 million so far. JPMorgan Chase & Co., BlackRock Inc. and Credit Suisse Group AG also plan similar products.
A stronger dollar may also be trumped by weather in agricultural markets. Wheat as much as doubled since June and corn jumped 83 percent as Russia’s worst drought in at least a half century, flooding in Canada and parched fields in Kazakhstan and Europe ruined crops.
While wheat should rise as much as 17 percent to $9.13 a bushel next year from $7.83 in Chicago on Dec. 23 and corn 14 percent to $7 a bushel from $6.14, coffee was picked as likely to be the worst performer in the Bloomberg survey. Analysts see a gain of no more than 7 percent to $2.53 a pound from $2.359 a pound in New York on Dec. 23.
Wheat futures for March delivery climbed 8.5 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $7.8875 a bushel today on the Chicago Board of Trade. Corn futures for March delivery rose 3.5 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $6.1875 a bushel, the eighth straight gain. Arabica- coffee futures for March delivery rose 1.05 cent, or 0.4 percent, to $2.385 a pound on ICE Futures U.S. in New York.
“We don’t see an imminent threat to commodity prices in 2011,” said Evan Smith, who helps manage $900 million at U.S. Global Investors Inc. in San Antonio. “You will still have concern over currency stability and in emerging economies there’s the wealth effect that’s driving demand.”
Read the original article HERE.
By Porter Stansberry
A little over ten years ago I founded Stansberry & Associates Investment Research. It has become one of the largest and most recognized investment research companies in the world, serving hundreds of thousands of subscribers in more than 120 countries.
You may know of our firm because of the work we did over the last several years – helping investors avoid the big disasters associated with Wall Street’s collapse.
We warned investors to avoid Fannie and Freddie, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and General Motors and dozens of other companies that have since collapsed. We even helped our subscribers find opportunities to profit from these moves by shorting stocks and buying put options. To my knowledge, no other research firm in the world can match our record of correctly predicting the catastrophe that occurred in 2008.
But that’s not why I created this letter.
I reference our success and experience with Wall Street’s latest crisis because we believe there is an even bigger crisis lurking – something that will shake the very foundation of America.
And that is why I’ve spent a significant amount of time and money in the past few months preparing this letter.
In short, I want to talk about a specific event that will take place in America’s very near future… which could actually bring our country and our way of life to a grinding halt.
This looming crisis is related to the financial crisis of 2008… but it is infinitely more dangerous, as I’ll explain in this letter.
As this problem comes to a head, I expect there to be riots in the streets… arrests on an unprecedented scale… and martial law, enforced by the U.S. military.
Believe me, I don’t make this prediction lightly and I have no interest in trying to scare you.
I’m simply following my research to its logical conclusion.
I did the same when I tracked Fannie and Freddie’s accounting. The same with General Motors. And Bear Stearns and the rest. And when I began giving this warning in 2006 no one took me very seriously… not at first. Back then, most mainstream commentators just ignored me.
And when I presented my case and exposed the facts at economic conferences, they got angry. They couldn’t refute my research… but they weren’t ready to accept the enormity of its conclusions either.
That’s why, before I go any further, I have to warn you…
What I am going to say is controversial. It will offend many people… Democrats, Republicans, and Tea Partiers, alike. In fact, I’ve already received dozens of pieces of hate mail.
And… the ideas and solutions I’m going to present might seem somewhat radical to you at first… perhaps even “un-American.”
My guess is that, as you read this letter… you’ll say: “There’s no way this could really happen… not here.”
But just remember:
No one believed me three years ago when I said the world’s largest mortgage bankers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would soon go bankrupt.
And no one believed me when I said GM would soon be bankrupt as well… or that the same would happen to General Growth Properties (the biggest owner of mall property in America).
But again, that’s exactly what happened.
And that brings us to today…
The same financial problems I’ve been tracking from bank to bank, from company to company for the last five years have now found their way into the U.S. Treasury. I’ll explain how this came to be. What it means is critically important to you and every American…
The next phase in this crisis will threaten our very way of life.
The savings of millions will be wiped out. This disaster will change your business and your work. It will dramatically affect your savings accounts, investments, and retirement.
It will change everything about your normal way of life: where you vacation… where you send you kids or grandkids to school… how and where you shop… the way you protect your family and home.
I’ll explain how I know these events are about to happen. You can decide for yourself if I’m full of hot air. As for me, I’m more certain about this looming crisis than I’ve been about anything else in my life.
I know that debts don’t just disappear. I know that bailouts have big consequences. And, unlike most of the pundits on TV, I know a lot about finance and accounting.
Of course, the most important part of this situation is not what is happening… but rather what you can do about it.
In other words: Will you be prepared when the proverbial $@*% hits the fan?
Don’t worry, I’m not organizing a rally or demonstration. And I’ve turned down every request to run for political office.
Instead, I want to show you exactly what I’m doing personally, to protect and even grow my own money, and how you can prepare as well.
You see, I can tell you with near 100% certainty that most Americans will not know what to do when commodity prices – things like milk, bread and gasoline – soar. They won’t know what to do when banks close… and their credit cards stop working. Or when they’re not allowed to buy gold or foreign currencies. Or when food stamps fail…
In short, our way of life in America is about to change – I promise you. In this letter I’ll show you exactly what is happening.
You can challenge every single one of my facts and you’ll find that I’m right about each allegation I make.
And then you can decide for yourself.
Will you act now to protect yourself and your family from the catastrophe that’s brewing right now in Washington?
I hope so. And that’s why I wrote this letter.
I’m going to walk you through exactly what I am doing personally, and what you can do as well. I can’t promise you’ll emerge from this crisis completely unharmed – but I can just about guarantee you’ll be a lot better off than people who don’t follow these simple steps.
But I’m getting ahead of myself just a bit.
Let me back up and show you in the simplest terms possible what is going on, why I am so concerned, and what I believe will happen in the next 12 months…
The Greatest Danger
America Has Ever Faced?
In short, I believe that we as Americans are about to see a major, major collapse in our national monetary system, and our normal way of life.
Basically, for many years now, our government has been borrowing so much money (very often using short-term loans), that very soon, we will no longer be able to afford even the interest on these loans.
Again… I say these things as an expert in accounting and financial research.
You may not think things are THAT BAD in the U.S. economy, but consider this simple fact from the National Inflation Association:
Even if all U.S. citizens were taxed 100% of their income… it would still not be enough to balance the Federal budget! We’d still have to borrow money, just to maintain the status quo.
That’s absolutely incredible, isn’t it?
Yet I’ve never seen this fact reported anywhere else.
Normally I study these kinds of numbers when I’m looking at a business to invest in or to recommend to my readers. But lately I’ve spent most of my time looking into our national balance sheet, because as the banking system collapsed in 2008, all of the bad debts were absorbed by the world’s governments.
For example, when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collapsed in the summer of 2008, the U.S. government responded by simply guaranteeing all of their outstanding debt.
Since then these companies have recorded hundreds of billions of losses – all of which were passed along to the government. Yes, you can still get mortgages today. And yes, Freddie and Fannie are still in business. But costs associated with these programs are piling up at the U.S. Treasury – and they are enormously expensive.
These losses and trillions in other private obligations are now the responsibility of the U.S. government.
The problem is, even before this crisis, our government was deeply in debt. With each additional commitment we sink further and further into debt… closing in upon the moment that we can simply no longer afford even the interest payments on our obligations.
According to even my most conservative calculations (using numbers provided by the Congressional Budget Office) a debt default by the U.S. government would be inevitable – were it not for one simple anomaly… the one thing that has saved the United States so far.
I’m talking about our country’s unique ability to simply print more money.
You see, the U.S. government has one very important weapon to use in this crisis: It is the only debtor in the world who can legally print U.S. dollars. And the U.S. dollar is what’s known as “the world’s reserve currency.”
The dollar forms the basis of the world’s financial system. It is what banks around the world hold in reserve against their loans.
That’s a secret that most politicians don’t understand:
As things stand now, the U.S. government can’t go broke in any ordinary sense of the word because it can simply print dollars to pay for its bad debts. (It’s been doing so since March of 2009).
That might sound pretty good at first. Since we can always just print more money, what is there to worry about…?
Well, let me show you…
You see, as things stand today, America is the only country in the world that doesn’t have to pay for its imports in a foreign currency.
Let’s say you’re a German and you want to buy oil from Saudi Arabia. You can’t just pay for your oil in German marks (or the new euro currency), because the oil is priced in dollars.
So you have to buy dollars first, then buy your oil.
And that means the value of the German currency is of great importance to the German government. To maintain the value of its currency Germans must produce at least as much as they consume from around the world, otherwise the value of its currency will begin to fall, causing prices to rise and its standard of living to decline.
But in America…?
We can consume as much as we want without worrying about acquiring the money to pay for it, because our dollars are accepted everywhere around the word. In short, for decades now, we haven’t had to produce anything or export anything to get all the dollars we needed to buy all the oil (and other goods) our country required.
All we had to do was borrow the money.
And boy did we. Take a look at this chart…
Even as late as the 1970s, America was the world’s largest creditor. But by the mid-1980s we’d become a debtor to the world. And since the late 1990s we’ve been the world’s LARGEST debtor.
Today, our government owes more money to more people than anyone else in the world.
And that was before the financial crisis!
In short, with all of these bad debts piling up, we’ve had to begin repaying our debts by printing trillions of new dollars. The impact of this is only just now beginning to be felt.
And once our creditors figure out what’s happening, they’re going to be very angry.
I believe they will either completely stop accepting dollars in repayment… or greatly discount the value of these new dollars. I’m sure you think that sounds crazy, but as I’ll show you, it is already happening.
And that will make our consumption-led way of life impossible to afford.
Just think about the price of oil…
Access to cheap oil has been America’s #1 gift of owning the world’s reserve currency.
This has made gas cheaper in the U.S. than almost anywhere else in the developed world. I know you may think gas prices have skyrocketed in recent years… but look at how much less we pay than other developed nations…
And here’s the thing…
If oil is no longer priced in dollars, the price of oil for Americans will skyrocket immediately. It will change our lives, overnight.
Airline travel will get much more expensive. The cost to ship goods by truck to grocery stores around the country will get much more expensive. Farming itself will get a lot more costly… so will commuting to work… taking a taxi… just about everything we do will suddenly get much more expensive.
And just remember: In order for prices to start skyrocketing, all that has to happen is that other countries start preferring payments in something besides U.S. dollars.
The U.S. dollar has been the world’s currency for decades now… so most Americans don’t have a clue about what the repercussions are of losing this status.
You might think this could never happen… but it happens all the time when countries get too far in debt or when they consume too much or produce too little.
In fact, the same thing happened to Great Britain in the 1970s.
Most people don’t know this, but British Sterling was the reserve currency for most of the world for nearly 200 years… for most of the 18th and 19th centuries.
It continued to play this role until after World War II, when America was forced to prop up Britain’s economy with foreign aid – remember the famous Marshall Plan, when we gave billions to help European countries rebuild?
Unfortunately though, Britain pursued a socialist national agenda. The government took over all of the major industries. Like Barack Obama, Britain’s leaders wanted to “spread the wealth around.” Pretty soon the country was flat broke.
The final straw for Britain came in 1967, when things got so bad the Labour Party (the socialists) decided to “devalue” the British currency by 14%, overnight. They believed this would make it easier for people to afford their debts.
In reality, what it did was make anyone holding British sterling 14% poorer, overnight, and it made everything in Britain, much, much more expensive in the coming years.
And for the country as a whole, it ushered in one of the worst decades in modern British history.
Most Americans don’t know about Britain’s “Winter of Discontent” in the late 1970s, when the government put a freeze on wages. There were continuous strikes in nearly every sector… grave diggers, trash collectors… even hospital workers. Things got so bad at one point that many hospitals were reduced to accepting emergency patients only.
In 1975, inflation in Britain skyrocketed 26.9%… in a single year!
The government also imposed what was known as the “Three Day Week” in 1974. In short, businesses were limited to using electricity for only three specified consecutive days’ each week and they were prohibited from working longer hours on those days. Television companies were required to cease broadcasting at 10.30pm… to save electricity.
The extreme problems in the economy led to Britain being nicknamed, “the sick man of Europe.”
Just how bad were things, exactly?
Well, listen to several Brits tell of their experiences. Their stories were collected recently by the BBC television channel…
John Blackburn, from Wetherby said:
“I was a control engineer at Huddersfield Power Station at the time and part of my duty was to switch off the supply to various substations around the town, according to an official rota. On many an evening shift I would have to switch off the power to my own home before going back for a candle-lit supper!”
Richard Evans, from London, recalls:
“My mother had to cross a picket line to get into the maternity hospital (they told her she couldn’t come in….). My Grandmother had to bring in food for her to eat, and clean towels and bedding.”
David Stoker, Guildford, said:
“I lived in the North East near Newcastle and I vividly remember my grandmother and I walking from one shop to another in search of candles to buy. All were sold out. Innovatively, butchers placed string down cartons of drippings which we bought… These worked although the smell and risk of fire made them less practical than candles.”
Imagine… Britain was a global superpower for 150 years. But when they started intentionally devaluing their currency, things went straight down hill.
Maybe you don’t think something similar can happen here… but I’m telling you… it’s already underway!
In fact, the exchange value of the U.S. dollar has fallen about 8% so far this year. And its rate of decline is accelerating.
What happened to the British currency is now happening to the U.S. dollar.
Not only will the price of gas, oil, and other commodities skyrocket in America, almost EVERYTHING we consume will immediately get more expensive. All the clothing, furniture, and household goods we import from China.
All the food we get from Central and South America… all the electronics, televisions, computers, and cars we get from Asia and Europe.
In fact, it’s happening, right now before our eyes: The price of gold is up 85% since the financial crisis. Oil prices have doubled. Soy beans are way up. Copper prices are up more than 170% since 2009. Cotton prices are up 80%… in just the past few months, since July of this year!
As Wesley Card, the head of a clothing company that includes brands like Dockers and Anne Klein, recently said: “It’s really a no-choice situation. Prices have to come up.”
The chart below shows how much a few key commodities have skyrocketed in price, just since the beginning of 2009…
Of course, skyrocketing commodity prices are just the beginning.
There are other disastrous consequences to the U.S. dollar losing status as the world’s currency…
For example, there would be much less demand for U.S. dollars around the globe, so interest rates will skyrocket. Instead of getting a mortgage at today’s incredibly low rates of 4.5%, it might cost you 8% or even 10% or 15%.
Imagine what that would do to housing prices!
Stock prices will likely plummet by at least 40% in a matter of weeks as a result of this event in the currency markets.
It will cost every American business A LOT more money for supplies and materials. No one will be able to get a loan… and no bank will want to make loans.
In short, when the U.S. dollar loses its spot as the world’s ‘reserve currency,’ it will cause a brutal downturn in the economy, which I expect will be about 10-times worse than the mortgage crisis of 2008.
You see, what will also happen as a result of this currency crisis, and the end of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency, will be massive inflation, the likes of which we have never seen before.
When everyone is trying to get rid of their dollars, the government is printing more and more to pay debts, and no one wants to own them, the crisis will reach epic proportions.
Just look for example, at what happened to one European country that faced this type of crisis in the 1990s…
This is what happens during a major hyperinflation in the real world.
By the early 1990s, the national government of one European nation had spent nearly all its savings. So what did they do next? Simple… they began to steal the savings of private citizens by limiting people’s access to their money in government-controlled banks.
And of course, to finance the daily operations of maintaining their basic infrastructure, they started printing money, big time. Even so, the country’s basic infrastructure began to fall apart. There were potholes in the street, broken water pipes… elevators that never got repaired… and entire construction projects that simply shut down, before being completed.
At this point, the unemployment rate was more than 30%.
Not too bad, right?
But it got worse… much worse.
You see, once you start down the dangerous road of printing money, things can get extremely bad, very quickly.
As San Jose State University Economics Professor Dr. Thayer Watkins, an expert on countries that try to inflate their way out of big debts, wrote on this particular disaster:
“The government tried to counter the inflation by imposing price controls. But when inflation continued, the government price controls made the price producers were getting so ridiculously low that they simply stopped producing. bakers stopped making bread… slaughterhouses refused to sell meat to the stores… other stores closed down”
So what did the government do next to try to curb inflation?
Well, one bright idea they had was to force stores to fill out government documents every time they increased prices. They thought that this would slow down price increases, because the paperwork would take so much time!
But like many government plans, this one had terrible, unintended consequences.
Since stores had to dedicate an employee to do nothing but register this paperwork, and since the process took so long, stores began to raise prices on basic goods at even higher rates, so that they didn’t have to come back and file more paperwork!
Incredible, isn’t it?
Then, of course the government did what all governments do during periods of hyperinflation: They created a new currency… which basically removed six zeroes from the old one. So 100,000,000 old units were soon worth 100 new units. Of course, this didn’t work either… it never does.
Between October of 1993 and January 1995, prices increase by, get this: 5 quadrillion percent. That’s…
In other words, a loaf of bread that cost $1 in 1993, suddenly cost
Yes, that’s $50 TRILLION.
I know, it’s laughable… but I can guarantee that the people of this once proud European country weren’t laughing one bit, especially those living on a fixed income.
Of course, at this point, the country completely fell apart. As Dr. Thayer Watkins wrote:
“The social structure began to collapse. Thieves robbed hospitals and clinics of scarce pharmaceuticals and then sold them in front of the same places they robbed. The railway workers went on strike and closed down the country’s rail system.”
At this point, businesses and citizens across the country basically refused to take the local currency.
Instead, everyone started dealing in German Marks. Keep in mind, the daily rate of inflation was nearly 100%.
Can you imagine the panic in a society when the price of just about everything doubles… every single day? It was absolute pandemonium, and the economy basically came to a grinding halt. It was like living in a war zone. Truckers stopped delivering goods. Stores, restaurants, and gas stations all shut down.
In fact, the only way to get gas was to buy it on the side of the road, from someone selling it out of a plastic can.
Steve Hanke, an Economics professor at Johns Hopkins, wrote that:
“People couldn’t afford to buy food in the free market – they kept from starving by either waiting in long lines at state stores for irregularly supplied rations of low-quality staples, or by relying on relatives who lived in the countryside.
For long periods, all [the] gas stations were closed, with the exception of one station that catered to foreigners and embassy personnel. People also spent an inordinate amount of time at the foreign-exchange black markets, where they traded huge piles of near-worthless money for a single German mark or US dollar note.”
The number of operating busses dropped by 60%… and busses were so crowded that drivers couldn’t even collect fares. Government ordered blackouts left people without heat and electricity for long periods of time.
In another ridiculous government move, they actually made it illegal to NOT accept a personal check.
Imagine… you could write a check… and in the several days that it typically takes for a check to clear, inflation would wipe out almost all of the cost of covering your check.
Of course, as is typical, the government took none of the blame. As Dr. Thayer Watkins reported, the government’s official position was that the hyperinflation occurred “because of the unjustly implemented sanctions against the people and state.”
Again… I know what you are thinking… “just because it happened in Europe doesn’t it mean it can happen here, right”?
Well guess what…
The same thing that happened in this European country – Yugoslavia – also just happened in Iceland and Greece, but on a less dramatic scale. Of course, the only reason the situations in Greece and Iceland weren’t worse is because of giant foreign bailouts. Yes… that’s right… more debt to solve the problem of already existing, insurmountable debts.
It’s all going to come to a head soon. Much sooner than most people think.
Remember too that in roughly the past 100 years this type of debt crisis has reared its ugly head in Germany, Russia, Austria, Poland, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Poland, the Ukraine, Japan, and China.
And I believe it will soon happen right here in the United States.
Don’t believe me?
Well, the truth is that it’s already happening at the local and state levels. Take a look…
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington, D.C.-based think-tank, at least 46 states face huge budget shortfalls for 2011, on top of the deficits they still haven’t completely figured out for 2010.
The center reports that the total state budget shortfall could reach $160 billion.
And although many states got federal help over the past year, that aid is now gone.
So what are these desperate governments trying to do?
You probably won’t believe their proposals…
* SELL EVERYTHING: The state of Arizona, for example, announced earlier this year that it is selling $735 million worth of government-owned buildings, but will still occupy them by paying a 20-year lease. The government is selling the legislative buildings, the House and Senate, the State Capitol Executive Tower, the state fairgrounds, even prisons.
* RELEASE PRISONERS: In California, the state has taken the radical step of opening its prison doors and releasing thousands of inmates. About 11% of the state budget ($8 billion) goes to the penal system (more than they spend on higher education).
So California is slashing the number of inmates by 6,500 next year. In other words, they are cutting loose about 4% of the prison population.
Incredibly, other states, including New York, may soon do the same thing.
* LIFE INSURANCE: In Georgia, the government is proposing taking out “dead peasant” policies on state employees. When these folks die, the money won’t go to the dead person’s family… but to the state coffers, to help pay for more programs, insurance, and pension liabilities!
It’s simply incredible, isn’t it?
State and municipal governments are so broke, and so desperate, that they are taking unprecedented steps to at least temporarily avoid bankruptcy. Nearly every state in the union is talking about legalizing some form of gambling, to boost tax revenue. California still wants to legalize marijuana, even though it was defeated in the recent election.
Of course, none of these ridiculous steps will work on the long run.
And the truly amazing thing is that the U.S. Federal government is in even worse shape than the local governments! The only reason we haven’t seen the full brunt of this crisis yet on the federal level is because we’ve just continued to pile on more and more debt.
The states can’t print money… but the Federal government can (at least for now). And for the moment, this is all that is preventing a currency collapse of unprecedented proportions.
And this is the important point: What most people don’t realize is that the U.S. government can only continue printing dollars… as long as the U.S. dollar remains the world’s reserve currency.
In other words, this is all going to fall apart much sooner than people think. In fact, it’s already happening…
The first steps are already well underway. It is happening right now… before our very eyes.
I can’t stress this enough: You need to act now in order to protect your assets, and grow your savings in the next few years. In the next few minutes, I’m going to show you exactly how I’m protecting my own money, and what I recommend doing with your own.
But first, let me show you what exactly is going on right now…
“America… must be very worried”
Like I said, most Americans don’t believe the U.S. dollar could ever lose its spot as the world’s reserve currency.
But I am here to tell you… this process is already well underway.
For example, although it went almost completely unreported in the U.S. press, last fall, a group of the world’s most powerful countries, including China, Japan, Russia, and France, got together for a secret meeting – WITHOUT the United States being present or even knowing about the meeting.
Veteran Middle East report Robert Fisk reported on this even in the Britain’s Independent newspaper:
“In the most profound financial change in recent Middle East history, Gulf Arabs are planning – along with China, Russia, Japan and France – to end dollar dealings for oil, moving instead to a basket of currencies including the Japanese Yen, Chinese yuan, the euro, gold and a new, unified currency planned for nations in the Gulf Co-operation Council, including Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar.”
Fisk also interviewed a Chinese banker who said:
“These plans will change the face of international financial transactions. America and Britain must be very worried. You will know how worried by the thunder of denials this news will generate.”
And sure enough, after Fisk published the details of this secret meeting, U.S. officials and central bankers from around the globe denied these plans.
But as the old central banking adage goes… how do you know exactly when a currency will be devalued?
The answer: Right AFTER the head of the central bank goes on television to adamantly deny that any such transaction will occur. (And guess who just went public in recent weeks with a statement about how the U.S. will “not devalue its currency”? Yes, you guessed it… U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.)
You see, the last thing a central banker wants to do in the midst of a devaluation is to give people a warning BEFORE he can devalue. So they have to deny, deny, deny. After the announcement is made, it’s too late for citizens and investors to get out.
Like I said, what’s incredible is that this story of a secret meeting among most of the major powers besides the U.S. was greatly under reported in the American press.
But you know what… the way I see it, it’s much more telling to look at actions rather than government press releases.
For example, here is what is happening, right now in the real world.
When you read these facts, I think you’ll agree with me that the U.S. dollar’s days are numbered, as far as remaining the world’s reserve currency.
China is getting out
Cheng Siwei, a former vice-chairman of the Standing Committee, said that China is going to stop putting so much money into U.S. dollars, and will instead look to the Japanese Yen and the Euro.
China holds more U.S. dollars than anyone else on the planet. But China is getting out of the U.S. dollar as fast as they can without crashing their own economy.
Look at this chart…
It shows that China’s holdings of U.S. dollars peaked in 2009, but China is unloading as many dollars as they can, as quickly as possible.
And this is just one sign of the end of the U.S. dollar standard.
There are many more…
The dollar is no longer good here
As I am sure you are aware, for years the U.S. dollar has been accepted almost universally around the globe.
Heck, many times when I’ve traveled, I never even bothered to convert to the local currency, because I knew everyone would take my dollars.
Well, that’s simply not the case anymore…
HSBC, one of the largest banks in Mexico, no longer allows you to deposit U.S. dollars into their banks. They’ve done this on the heels of money-laundering allegations, but we suspect they also simply don’t want to be stuck with tons of U.S. dollars, as the currency continues to decline.
This move would have been unfathomable 10 years ago… that a big bank in Mexico would no longer accept U.S. dollars for deposit. But today it is the harsh reality.
And Mexico is not the only place this is occurring…
Reuters reports that the same thing has happened in 2008 in one of Europe’s most popular tourist spots…
Currency exchange outlets in Amsterdam have been reportedly turning away customers who want to exchange their U.S. dollars for Euros.
As one traveling American told the Reuters news agency: “Our dollar is worth maybe zero over here,” said Mary Kelly, an American tourist from Indianapolis, Indiana, in front of the Anne Frank house. “It’s hard to find a place to exchange. We have to go downtown, to the central station or post office.”
In India, the country’s tourism minister said in 2008 that U.S. dollars will no longer be accepted at the country’s heritage tourist sites, like the Taj Mahal. And the U.S. dollar is no longer good anywhere in Cuba.
The New York Times reports that: “now, many shops in China no longer accept dollar-based credit cards issued by foreign banks… and foreigners cannot convert American dollars into renminbi beyond a given quota.”
Iran, of course, has already moved all of its reserves out of U.S. dollars, and Kuwait de-pegged it’s currency from the dollar a few years ago:
Bloomberg News recently reported that China and Russia plan to start trading in each other’s currencies to diminish the dollar’s role in global trade. “Given the risk to the dollar and U.S. assets from their fiscal position, they want to reduce their dependence on the dollar as an invoicing currency,” said Bhanu Baweja, of UBS bank.
It’s even happening here in the USA
Most Americans don’t know that some states in the Mid-West are already using “alternative currencies”…
An NBC News affiliate in Michigan reports that
“new types of money are popping up across Mid-Michigan and supporters say, it’s not counterfeit, but rather a competing currency. Right now, for example, you can buy a meal or visit a chiropractor without using actual U.S. legal tender.”
What most Americans don’t realize is that this is all totally legal.
The U.S. Treasury Dept web site says that, according to Coinage Act of 1965: “There is… no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services.”
I saw one report that says there are now 150 of these alternative local U.S. currencies being accepted around the country!
USA Today reports that the largest of these local currencies is a currency called “Berkshares,” which are being used in the Berkshires region of western Massachusetts.
According to the paper:
“Since its start in 2006, the system, the largest of its kind in the country, has circulated $2.3 million worth of BerkShares.”
And even in places that do not yet have local currencies, store owners may now actually prefer foreign currencies rather than U.S. dollars…
In Washington, DC, just 25 miles from my office, some stores have begun accepting euros. Of course, the euro isn’t much more stable than the dollar right now. But my point is that most people don’t understand there is NO FEDERAL REQUIREMENT in the United States for a private store to accept dollars for non-debt transactions.
You see, no matter what the government decides, stores and businesses will accept whatever they believe is a strong currency.
As Texas Representative Ron Paul wrote recently:
“If you walk into a 7-11 to buy a soda, the clerk doesn’t have to accept your dollars, he could demand euros, silver, or copper. But because legal tender laws backing the dollar have caused the dollar to drive other currencies out of circulation, [right now] it is easier for stores to accept dollars.”
Well, all that is quickly changing…
Many places in Texas now accept Mexican pesos for payment. “Euros Accepted” signs are popping up in of all places: Manhattan. And not only Manhattan, but in New York’s favorite summer playground… the Hamptons.
There, an art gallery assistant was quoted by The Real Deal: “I wouldn’t want to discourage a sale in any way because of a currency issue.”
And it’s not just small stores that are accepting other methods of payment besides U.S. dollars.
The Chicago mercantile exchange the world’s largest futures and commodities exchange board), now accepts gold to settle futures contracts. Until recently, the exchange typically accepted only U.S. treasuries and bonds as payment.
These guys obviously see the writing on the wall.
This would have all been completely unthinkable 10 years ago, but today it’s a reality. And this trend is going to keep moving incredibly fast.
That is why…
The smartest investors are taking action…
Bill Gross, who probably knows as much about currencies and debt as anyone in the world, runs the world’s biggest bond fund. He was quoted by Bloomberg:
“We’ve told all of our clients that if you only had one idea, one investment, it would be to buy an investment in a non-dollar currency. That should be on top of the list.”
Jim Rogers, one of the world’s most successful multi-millionaire investors writes:
“The dollar is not just in decline; it’s a mess. If something isn’t done soon, I believe the dollar could lose its status as the world’s reserve currency and medium of exchange, something that would lead to a huge decline in the standard of living for U.S. citizens like nothing we’ve seen in nearly a century.”
I know… you probably still don’t believe it can happen here in the United States. But think about it…
Are we as Americans really immune to the laws of economics and finance?
I don’t think so.
And every circumstance I know of, in which a government has tried to inflate its debts away, has ended in disaster. It will happen here too.
As Jim Rogers says:
“History teaches us that such imprudent monetary and fiscal behavior has always led to economic disaster.”
This is why World Bank president, Robert B. Zoellick, in a speech at the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, recently said: “The United States would be mistaken to take for granted the dollar’s place as the world’s predominant reserve currency. Looking forward, there will increasingly be other options to the dollar.”
And this is why the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently published a paper calling for a new global world currency.
A paper entitled “Reserve Accumulation and International Monetary Stability,” written by the Strategy, Policy and Review Department of the IMF, recommends that the world adopt a global currency called the “Bancor” with a global central bank to administer the currency.
The report is dated April 13, 2010… and no, unfortunately this is not just a bad rumor.
This is a deadly serious proposal in an official document from one of most powerful institutions in the world.
Do you see where this is all heading?
As Brazilian economist and strategist Ricardo C. Amaral wrote recently:
“The US dollar served its purpose since the end of WW II and became the major foreign exchange reserve currency… [but] the days of the US dollar playing that special role… has reached the end of the line, since today that system is very sick and it is dying a slow death…
Mr. Amaral added that we will soon see: “the major collapse of the US dollar creating the biggest international monetary crisis the world has ever seen…”
This is why gold and silver prices are soaring:
It’s not a matter of “if” the U.S. dollar will lose its status as the world’s reserve currency… it’s simply a matter of “when.”
Investors know there are serious, serious problems with the U.S. dollar, so they are fleeing to precious metals, which have historically been very reliable when a country has major currency problems.
In short: It’s not hard to see why people are no longer accepting U.S. dollars… and why many foreign countries are pushing for a new world reserve currency.
The good news is, no matter what happens, I’ve found several ways for you to protect your savings – and you could even make 3- to 5-times your money over the next few years.
I’ll show you exactly what to do in a moment. But first let me explain why the collapse of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency could happen much sooner than most people expect…
The REAL State
of the U.S. Economy
I know many of my friends, colleagues, and family members are still in serious denial.
In the world of psychology, they call this the “normalcy bias.”
You see, the normalcy bias actually refers to our natural reactions when facing a crisis.
The normalcy bias causes smart people to underestimate the possibility of a disaster and its effects. In short: People believe that since something has never happened before… it never will. We are all guilty of it… it’s just human nature.
The normalcy bias also makes people unable to deal with a disaster, once it has occurred. Basically… people have a really hard time preparing for and dealing with something they have never experienced.
The normalcy bias often results in unnecessary deaths in disaster situations. For example, think about the Jewish populations of World War II…
As Barton Biggs reports in his book, Wealth, War, and Wisdom:
“By the end of 1935, 100,000 Jews had left Germany, but 450,000 still [remained]. Wealthy Jewish families… kept thinking and hoping that the worst was over…
Many of the German Jews, brilliant, cultured, and cosmopolitan as they were, were too complacent. They had been in Germany so long and were so well established, they simply couldn’t believe there was going to be a crisis that would endanger them. They were too comfortable. They believed the Nazi’s anti-Semitism was an episodic event and that Hitler’s bark was worse than his bite. [They] reacted sluggishly to the rise of Hitler for completely understandable but tragically erroneous reasons. Events moved much faster than they could imagine.”
This is one of the most tragic examples of the devastating effects of the “normalcy bias” the world has ever seen.
Just think about what was going on at the time. Jews were arrested, beaten, taxed, robbed, and jailed for no reason other than the fact that they practiced a particular religion. As a result, they were shipped off to concentration camps. Their houses and businesses were seized.
Yet most Jews STILL didn’t leave Nazi Germany, because they simply couldn’t believe that things would get as bad as they did. That’s the normalcy bias… with devastating results.
We saw the same thing happen during Hurricane Katrina…
Even as it became clear that the levee system was not going to work, tens of thousands of people stayed in their homes, directly in the line of the oncoming waves of water.
People had never seen things get this bad before… so they simply didn’t believe it could happen. As a result, nearly 2,000 residents died.
Again… it’s the “normalcy bias.”
We simply refuse to see the evidence that’s right in front of our face, because it is unlike anything we have experienced before.
The normalcy bias kicks in… and we continue to go about our lives as if nothing is unusual or out of the ordinary.
Well, we’re seeing the same thing happen in the United States right now.
We have been the world’s most powerful country for nearly 100 years. The U.S. dollar has reigned supreme as the world’s reserve currency for more than 50 years.
Most of us in America simply cannot fathom these things changing. But I promise you this: Things are changing… and faster than most people realize.
For a moment, just look at a tiny fraction of the evidence around us….
** 13% OF POPULATION ON FOODSTAMPS
Did you know that there are now nearly 42 million Americans on food stamps? That’s nearly 13% of the entire population. Those numbers are up 17.5% from last year… and the number of Americans on food stamps has gone up every month for 19 months.
Can a country really be in good shape when 13% of the population can’t even afford to buy food?
Or how about this…
** SHANTY TOWNS COMING TO YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD
Although it’s gone almost completely unreported in the mainstream press, in a dozen or so cities across the nation (like Fresno, Sacramento, and Nashville), there are hundreds of people living in modern-day, Depression-era shanty towns.
The Fresno shanty town has received the most publicity, after a visit by Oprah Winfrey. There, about 2,000 residents are homeless. They even have a security desk at the shelter, because the encampment has gotten so large. City officials say they have three major encampments near downtown, and smaller settlements along two local highways.
** 43% OF AMERICAN FAMILIES ARE ESSENTIALLY BROKE
According to a recent article on MSN Money, about 43% of the American families spend more than they earn each year.
Look at this chart… it’s unbelievable..
The average household carries $8,000 in credit card debt… and personal bankruptcies have doubled in the past decade.
How in the world can we possibly spend our way out of the current crisis?
We certainly can’t do it with savings… the only answer is to print more money, which will hasten the fall of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
** THE MYSTERY OF DISAPPEARING JOBS
There’s simply no one better at bending statistics than the U.S. government. Take the unemployment rate, for example. Back in the 1930s, anyone without a job but not retired was considered “unemployed.”
Today, however, the government calculates unemployment mainly by counting the number of people receiving unemployment benefits. So when people’s benefits expire, they are no longer counted… and the unemployment rate actually falls! Ridiculous… I know.
But the reality is, the true unemployment rate is much, much higher than what the government is reporting.
If you don’t believe me, look at two recent job postings I read about last week..
In Long Island City, an estimated 2,000 people waited in line at the local employment office – some for as long as four days! – to apply for 100 elevator mechanic apprenticeship positions.
And in Massillon, Ohio, 700 people recently applied for a single janitorial job… paying $16 an hour, plus benefits!
The point is, our country is not growing jobs, because the government makes it harder and harder for businesses. With current regulations in place, our country will never experience the type of growth necessary to dig our government out of the hole they’ve put themselves in.
I’m sure you think I’m exaggerating, but just look at what the CEO of one of America’s most important companies said just a few weeks ago..
Intel CEO Paul Otellini said in a recent speech: “I can tell you definitively that it costs $1 billion more per factory for me to build, equip, and operate a semiconductor manufacturing facility in the United States”
He said that 90% of the additional costs are not from higher labor rates… but from higher taxes and regulatory charges, which other nations simply don’t impose.
Cypress Semiconductor CEO T.J. Rodgers agreed that the problem is not higher U.S. wages, but anti-business laws. He was quoted in an interview with CNET News: “The killer factor in California for a manufacturer to create, say, a thousand blue-collar jobs is a hostile government that doesn’t want you there and demonstrates it in thousands of ways.”
Few Americans today realize that we have the second highest corporate tax rate in the world. And since Japan’s new prime minister just announced that he plans to reduce the country’s corporate tax rate by 15%… the U.S. will soon have THE highest corporate tax rate in the world.
Why would anyone want to start a business here, when they can do it for less money…and keep more of the money they make… by locating elsewhere?
It’s just another good reason to avoid the U.S. dollar…
So is this:
** DEBT-RIDDEN U.S. COMPANIES
Did you know that in 1979, there were 61 American companies that earned a top-level AAA credit rating from Moody’s?
Today, there are only four: Automatic Data Processing, Exxon, Johnson & Johnson, and Microsoft
Does this sound like an economic recovery to you… when only four companies in the entire country are stable enough to earn a triple-A credit rating?
Me neither. But it’s nothing compared to what’s going on in the housing sector…
** A CRAZY LAS VEGAS ECONOMICS STORY
You want to know how crazy things are in the U.S. right now…
Consider the bizarre state of the Las Vegas housing market, where The New York Times reports that building is booming again in a city where nearly 10,000 new houses are empty, thousands are in foreclosure, thousands of regular people have simply stopped paying their mortgages and average prices are down more than 60% since 2006.
What could possibly be driving this building mania?
Well, it turns are that buyers don’t want homes that were built during the boom, because they sit in neighborhoods that look like ghost towns, and because many of these never-occupied houses are filled with cockroaches and other critters.
So local builders are doing the worst possible thing they could be doing in Las Vegas right now… building more homes! Similar scenarios are taking shape in Phoenix and other U.S. cities.
Of course, this might look good for economic numbers, but all it does is make the situation much, much worse in the long run.
Want to see another crazy trick some businesses are using to artificially boost their earnings numbers?
This is just incredible to me…
** OUR HOPE FOR THE FUTURE: NEW JERSEY’S HOMELESS
If you’ve been reading my work at all over the past few years, you know that I am extremely bearish on the “for profit” education sector, such as University of Phoenix.
What could possibly be wrong with these institutions that offer inexpensive education to tens of thousands of students across the country?
Well, to me it’s just another symptom of how distorted and crazy our economy and country has become. Here’s what I mean…
One of the crazy practices institutions employ is to actually enroll homeless people into their programs.
You probably think I’m making this up… but even Business Week recently ran a report on this practice.
Why would they do this?
Well, because these folks qualify for federal grants and loans used to pay for college tuition fees. According to reports I read, the University of Phoenix, for instance, relies on federal funds for more than 85% of its revenues.
At another for-profit school, Drake College of Business, almost 5% of the student body at its Newark, N.J., campus is homeless, Business Week recently reported.
Of course, the majority of these students will never be able to repay their loans. But the colleges certainly don’t care… that’s the government’s problem… not theirs.
Once again, it’s the taxpayers like you and me who will be left holding the bag.
And here’s another good reason why investors are afraid of holding dollars right now…
** IN THE STOCK MARKET, IT’S 1937 ALL OVER AGAIN
One of the most worrisome problems in the stock market right now is that we are basically repeating the exact same situation that occurred from 1937 to 1942.
Most Americans think we’ve had this amazing stock market recovery since the financial crisis of 2008… and we have to a certain extent.
But we are by no means out of the woods.
In fact, during America’s last real economic collapse, in the 1930s and 1940s, we saw a similar drop and recovery… before the markets crashed all over again.
In fact, the situation is eerily similar.
Look at this chart… it’s one of the scariest I’ve seen in a long time. It shows an overlay of what happened in the stock market in 1937 compared to 2008.
In both situations, we saw big crashes, of about the exact same magnitude… then a big recovery, again of about the same size.
But what will happen next?
Well, if history is any guide, we could well have another big leg down in the stock market. That’s exactly what happened 70 years ago.
And with all of the problems left unresolved in our economy today, it could certainly happen again, especially if the U.S. dollar loses its reserve status.
As The Wall Street Journal reported:
“Over the last year the stock market has followed a path eerily similar to 1937. First, a strong, rapid run to a recovery high – same pace, same magnitude. Then a correction – again, the same. Will we continue on the path that led the correction of 1937 into a collapse in 1938?
The point is, the cards are seriously stacked against us.
This looming currency crisis is inevitable.
Almost every state in the country is on the verge of bankruptcy. We have borrowed an impossible amount of money, which we’ll never be able to pay back.
Our economy is an absolute mess. Taxes are sky high already… and will certainly go much higher over the next few years. And nearly all of the world’s major financial players are preparing for an alternative to the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
Read the entire article HERE.
Nomura Research Institute’s Richard Koo says that what the world is experiencing right now, a “balance sheet recession,” is different from traditional recessions. However, Japan recently experienced a similar type of recession, and Koo says we can learn a lot from that country’s experiences. Interviewed by Daniel Erasmus at King’s College, April 2010.
Following the initial movie preview is the interview with Charles Ferguson. In this interview, INET’s Executive Director Rob Johnson talks to Charles Ferguson, the director of the new documentary film “Inside Job,” about corruption in academia, the failure of both political parties in dealing with the financial crisis, and the potential for change.
New York Times
By SEWELL CHAN
Published: December 26, 2010
WASHINGTON — As the Federal Reserve debates whether to scale back, continue or expand its $600 billion effort to nurse the economic recovery, four men will have a newly prominent role in influencing the central bank’s path.
One is an economist who fears that the Fed’s easy-money policies could lead to manias like the housing bubble that burst in 2007. Another is a Texas Democrat who served in the Clinton White House, but is wary of the Fed’s aggressive efforts to combat unemployment.
A third is a precocious economist who graduated from Princeton at 19. And the fourth is the only one who agreed wholeheartedly with the Fed’s chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, that the economy was at risk of falling into a dangerous cycle of deflation last summer and that an additional monetary boost was needed.
The four men are presidents of regional Fed banks, and under an arcane system that dates to the Depression, they will become voting members in 2011 on the Federal Open Market Committee, which gathers eight times a year around a 27-foot mahogany table to influence the supply of credit in the economy.
While Mr. Bernanke remains the dominant voice on which route the Fed takes, the change in voting composition is likely to give the committee a somewhat more hawkish cast. This could amplify anxieties about unforeseen effects of Mr. Bernanke’s policies and potentially contribute to the increasingly politicized atmosphere surrounding the Fed.
Since the Fed embarked last month on a second round of quantitative easing — a strategy of buying government securities to hold down mortgage and other long-term interest rates — it has faced an outpouring of criticism from foreign central banks and conservative Republicans.
One of them, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, who is in line to become chairman of the House Budget Committee, said he thought that dissenters within the Fed would influence whether Mr. Bernanke “throttles back, or keeps going,” with the bond-buying plan.
“We’re playing with fire, flirting with disaster,” Mr. Ryan said of the plan, which he believes could jeopardize the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency and touch off future inflation.
Most economists think the Fed is unlikely to drastically alter its policy direction, though some of the new members could nudge policy toward more restraint and less activism. Two of the four new voters are viewed as hawkish on inflation, meaning that they tend to be more worried about unleashing future inflation than they are about reducing unemployment in the short run.
The committee will be “a little more hawkish, on net, although I don’t think it’s a sea change,” said Jan Hatzius, the chief United States economist at Goldman Sachs.
Of the four new voting members, the one drawing the most attention is Charles I. Plosser, 62, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia since 2006.
Mr. Plosser, who formerly taught at the University of Rochester, argued in a speech at the libertarian Cato Institute last month that monetary policy “went off track” a few years ago, an acknowledgment of the criticism that the Fed kept interest rates too low from 2003 to 2005, contributing to the housing bubble.
“I’d like the recovery to be faster, but I’m not sure monetary policy can do much about that,” he said in an interview.
Mr. Plosser said that he has thought all along that the economic slowdown over the summer was temporary and that he “wasn’t a big fan” of Mr. Bernanke’s asset-purchase plan. He wants the Fed to move back toward normal policy.
“If we wait too long, and the economy really begins to pick up and we are too late in reacting, we could end up behind the curve and we could end up with more instability,” he said.
Most economists expect Mr. Plosser to dissent, possibly repeatedly, in 2011, inheriting a role played by Thomas M. Hoenig, president of the Kansas City Fed, who was the lone dissenter eight times this year but does not have a vote next year.
Richard W. Fisher, president of the Dallas Fed since 2005, is another potential dissenter. A former investment banker, he was the Democratic nominee for the Senate in 1994, but lost to Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican. He was a deputy United States trade representative during President Bill Clinton’s second term.
Compared with most Democratic politicians, Mr. Fisher, 61, is wary of the Fed’s latest moves. “The remedy for what ails the economy is, in my view, in the hands of the fiscal and regulatory authorities, not the Fed,” he said in a speech last month.
His views are also in line with those of fiscal conservatives, like Mr. Ryan, who think the Fed is abetting huge government deficits by “monetizing the federal debt.”
Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 47, the Princeton graduate, who became president of the Minneapolis Fed last year, will be voting for the first time. He has been more measured about quantitative easing. In a speech last month, he called it “a move in the right direction” but said the ultimate effects were “likely to be relatively modest.”
The fourth new voting member, Charles L. Evans, 52, has led the Chicago Fed since 2007. Unlike the other three, he is associated with the camp of so-called doves within the Fed, who are worried about chronic, long-term joblessness and think the recovery is still quite fragile.
Mr. Evans has advocated price-level targeting, a strategy that would allow inflation to run slightly above the desired level in the future to make up for inflation’s being too low today. But in an October speech, he conceded that the proposal would be “a hard pill to swallow” for an institution whose credibility rested on its successes at taming high inflation in the early 1980s.
Mr. Evans is likely to side with Mr. Bernanke on the bond purchases; if anything, he might even push to expand them beyond $600 billion if the recovery weakened again.
The Federal Open Market Committee comprises the Fed’s seven-member board of governors in Washington, including Mr. Bernanke; the president of the New York Fed, who is a permanent member; and four members drawn from the heads of the 11 other banks, who share votes through a rotation.
“It’s true that voting members get more attention in the press, but whether people are voting or nonvoting members, everyone has an equal voice at the table and an equal part in the discussions,” said Randall S. Kroszner, a former Fed governor and a professor at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. “It’s a consensus-based organization.”
For now, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and other major forecasters expect the Fed will carry out its plan to buy $600 billion in securities — neither scaling back the program early, nor extending it past June. But Mr. Bernanke has left his options open, and the committee is likely to wait until the spring before deciding.
Read the entire article HERE.
By Michael Pento
Dec. 15 2010 – 2:14 pm
Don’t be surprised that I say investors should not fight the Fed. The Fed controls the money supply and it is foolish to go against its actions. However, what the Fed says it wants to achieve and what it claims its intentions actually are is, in reality, sometimes quite different than the true economic ramifications of its actions.
To be specific, the Fed is on record saying that the purpose of quantitative easing is to lower interest rates and spur a rebound in bank lending, which is primarily intended to boost housing prices. But the Fed expands the money supply (creates inflation), which lowers the purchasing power of the currency.
Since sovereign interest rate levels are a function of inflation, currency and default risk, the result of the Fed’s actions were never in any doubt. A higher rate of inflation always causes bond yields to rise. Therefore, this recent rise in yields makes perfect sense. Not only have Bernanke’s actions produced rising inflation—as he indicated was his desire—but the recent increase in the projected 2011 deficit has caused an increase in both currency and default risk.
Despite what you hear from the MSM, the soaring 10-year note yield is not the result of increasing growth expectations. Since growth cannot cause inflation, why would it affect the yield on Treasuries? If anything, growth should cause yields to fall due to a stronger currency and a lower risk of default.
And even though the government claims that in the 12 months ended in November, consumer prices increased by just 1.1 percent, inflation is here and prices are still rising. The CRB Index is up over 20% since the announcement of QEII in August! Surging commodity prices courtesy of Benjamin Bernanke have placed tremendous strain on the margins of producers. And have caused those who are out of work and underemployed to pay more for what they consume.
Once you understand the economics of what is occurring, you can clearly grasp why shorting the long end of the Treasury market is actually going along with the Fed; not fighting it.
Read the original article HERE.
If you haven’t read them yet, this is part 3 out of 3 past articles. Here are the links to the two prior posts:
And now Part 3:
Here are a few more reasons why I am absolutely certain Americans will experience high rates of inflation and how you can profit from it.
David Campbell on December 19th, 2010
Founder of Hassle-free Cashflow Investing
Professional Investor and Developer
In my last newsletter, I said the Federal Reserve must inflate the price of real estate by 50% or banks will continue to fail in huge numbers. Why is this?
In areas such as California, Florida, and Nevada, radical fluctuations in home prices occurred between 2001-2010, causing prices to rapidly inflate and rapidly fall. This rapid swing in home prices left banks exposed.
A bank originating an $80 loan uses $10 of its own equity and it borrows an additional $70 to fund the loan. KEY POINT: Banks mostly loan out money that is borrowed from the Fed or created from thin air through the fractional reserve banking system.
Let’s look at a case study: In 2005, a borrower took out an $80 loan against a house worth $100. From 2005-2010, the price of the real estate dropped from $100 to $50 and in 2005 the borrower stops paying.
The bank CANNOT foreclose and resell the property, because the bank will not have enough money to repay the $70 it borrowed to fund the original loan. The lender can choose to take a loss on its $10 of equity, but if the lending bank defaults on the $70 it borrowed to make the loan, the bank is bankrupt and must close its doors. This is the reason over 300 American banks have closed their doors in the past 2 years.
The value of real estate must increase (inflate) before the bank can clear the foreclosed asset off their balance sheets otherwise it will be forced to default on the money it borrowed to make the loans. If you hear about “shadow inventory” held by banks, it is foreclosed real estate that banks are unable to sell because it will trigger repayment of debt the bank cannot afford to repay. The US government is trying to save banks, by inflating real estate prices through a radical increase in the supply of money. The following chart published by the Federal Reserve may give you an idea of the staggering amount of money that is being created.
What is better for our economy, widespread bank failure or rapid inflation? The Federal Reserve has been explicit in its public commentary on this issue: aggressive inflation is preferable to continued bank failure. ‘Helicopter Ben Bernanke’ got his nickname by promising to jumpstart inflation by every means possible, even it if meant literally dropping cash from helicopters.
Inflation hasn’t hit the real estate sector yet, but it’s coming. The banking industry will stay in a nose dive and the Fed will keep printing money until real estate prices go up.
While the government publishes statistics about inflation in the form of the consumer price index (CPI), the CPI has a political agenda to radically underestimate true rates of inflation. Below is a chart from Casey Research that compares price changes of various commodities from Oct 2009 to Oct 2010. When core commodities like food and fuel increase 15-74% in a single year, you better pay attention to what’s going on.
Inflation moves in the following cycle:
1) increased money supply
2) increased commodity prices (food, energy, consumables)
3) increased manufacturing / wholesale prices
4) increased retail / consumer prices
5) increased wages
6) increased real estate prices
7) increased borrowing which further increases the money supply
This seven step cycle then repeats itself in perpetuity and the rate of inflation increases exponentially with the beginning of each new boom and bust cycle. Looking at today’s market data we are in between step three and four in the inflationary cycle.
Inflation is increased prices as a result of “printing money” or increased velocity of money. Change in velocity can impact inflation EQUALLY with the supply of currency. The effects of our rapidly increasing money supply are being temporarily masked by reduced velocity. Consumer confidence is low, unemployment is high, and people are hoarding cash. The result is moderate inflation. We will see radical inflation once the velocity of money ticks up.
Currency supply can increase to infinity, but velocity cannot reduce to zero. Reduced velocity is absorbing the majority of the increased currency supply, but this can’t go on forever. Look for signs that velocity is returning to the market and you will have a more accurate forecast of when inflation will enter the market.
A final, crucial point:
Knowing inflation is coming is very different than believing inflation is coming. The difference between knowing and believing is cognitive dissonance. People know driving without a seat belt is dangerous, but they do it anyway because they don’t believe the danger could happen to them. This is the way it is with inflation. A lot of smart people recognize the warning signs of pending inflation, but they are in disbelief that hyper inflation could happen to them – thereby erasing the value of their earnings, savings, retirement accounts, etc.
You can profit from inflation or become its victim! If you are like me and believe inflation is upon us, how will you prepare yourself for it? Doing nothing means your savings and wages will be decimated through increased consumer prices.
Acquiring Hassle-free Cashflow Real Estate is a very simple step towards prosperity and safety in the coming years. If you would like help building a successful real estate portfolio, please call me right away while prices are low, long term interest rates are low, and banks are still lending to qualified buyers. Inflation is coming, and this beautiful buyer’s market will not last forever.
Professional Investor / Developer / Financial Mentor
Founder of Hassle-Free Cash Flow Investing
Read the original Blog Post HERE.
By Tabassum Zakaria
WASHINGTON — Republican Congressman Ron Paul, the new head of the subcommittee that oversees the Federal Reserve, said on Sunday he will seek greater transparency but will not be sending subpoenas to the central bank chairman from Day One.
Paul, a longtime critic of the Fed, will be the new chairman of the domestic monetary policy subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee when the new Congress is seated in January.
“Now that doesn’t mean that the first week in January I send over a subpoena for (Fed Chairman Ben) Bernanke and demand that he come over with a pile of papers, I don’t think that would be logical,” Paul said in an interview on C-SPAN.
He will be sending requests for information to others at the Federal Reserve such as the accountants, “and say this is what I want, and to see what happens,” Paul said.
“And then they can still hide behind the law if I want to demand every transaction with foreign banks,” he said, adding that it would benefit Americans to know who was getting bailed out.
Paul has written a book called “End the Fed” and believes the dollar should be backed by gold or silver. The United States stopped linking the dollar to gold in 1971.
Read the entire article HERE.
By Diane C. Lade, Sun Sentinel
5:18 p.m. CST, December 17, 2010
What’s being billed as the first gold-dispensing ATM in the nation opened for business Friday at the Town Center in Boca Raton, spitting out an after-dinner-mint-sized gold bullion into the palm of its first customer.
The “Gold to go” gold bullion vending machine, developed by the German company Ex Oriente Lux AG, was brought to the states by PMX Gold LLC, a South Florida business that buys and sells lease purchase options on gold mines. Twenty “Gold to go” ATMs already are operating in malls, hotels and airports in Europe and the United Arab Emirates.
The first one installed, at the luxury Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi, is so popular that its inventory needs to be replenished daily, said Ex Oriente managing director Thomas Geissler. He thinks the concept will be equally successful in upscale U.S. communities like Boca. “Americans like vending machines,” he said.
Ex Oriente will be unveiling another ATM, with a different operating partner, in Las Vegas by the end of the month. PMX president and CEO Michael C. Hiler said he’s talking with Simon Property Group, Town Center’s owner, about staking a claim in some of its other malls.
The shiny gold-colored metal vending box, slightly smaller than a phone booth, is in the middle of the mall concourse leading to the food court. Buyers can chose from four weights of 0.999 Pure Credit Suisse gold bullion bars and two weights of U.S. minted American Eagle gold coins.
Prices on Friday ranged from $122 to about $1,400; the machine updates them every 10 minutes to keep current with gold rates. The ATM takes only U.S. dollars but will later be equipped to take credit cards, said PMX president and CEO Michael C. Hiler.
The vendors make between 4 percent and 15 percent commission, depending on the item’s weight, which is built into the price. Hiler said the ATMs in Europe each take in about 250,000 to 300,000 Euros monthly in sales, or $331,500 to $397,800 U.S. dollars.
Gold to go hopes to cash in on two emerging trends: recession-stunned Americans’ growing fascination with gold, and the increased sophistication of vending machines. “Cash for gold” storefronts have mushroomed over the past year, as precious metal prices reach record highs.
At the same time, vending kiosks — selling everything from designer purses, brand-name beauty products, DVD rentals and electronics — have sprung up at airports, grocery stores and malls. Industry analysts say the market for these high-tech machines is growing, as retailers see them as a way to reach shoppers without paying store rents or employees.
The gold coins and wafers dispensed by the ATMs look more like gifts than a hedge against inflation, popping out of the machine packaged in an elegant black box with gold lettering. Each tiny bar or coin comes with a certificate number and a money-back guarantee if it’s returned to PMX within 10 days, plus or minus any changes in the market rate.
Geissler said “Gold to go” customers pick a vending machine over a traditional bank because it’s quicker and in a relaxing, yet secure, environment. Tourists and shoppers looking for an unusual gift are among the machine’s biggest fans.
Read the entire article HERE.
September 16th, 2010 | Filed in Gold & Silver, Wealth Cycles
Of all the possible investment topics in the world right now, this one has been the most exciting to me since I began this journey in 2007, because the stakes, and the reward, has never been higher…
As I write this, the world sits upon the precipice of an unimaginable economic shift that will change the course of history in a way that has not been seen since the fall of the Roman Empire.
At this very moment, you and I are living through a process that will result in the largest wealth transfer mankind has ever known…
This transfer will fundamentally impact everything from our personal freedoms, to the balance of global power, to the next World War, to the emergence of an Asian Empire.
If you doubt this, that’s fine. So did the citizens of Germany.
The stakes are simple…
If you are among the 95% of people around the world who are uneducated and unaware of this event, you will lose everything. Your wealth will be transferred away from you.
If you are one of the few people who IS aware of this event, and if you position yourself correctly, the wealth from 95% of the planet will be transferred into your open arms.
This document will explain why this is happening, and how you can position yourself to be on the winning side.
Everything else… Real-Estate, stocks, bonds, your businesses… Everything… Is secondary in importance to understanding this, because they will all be effected by it.
- Mike Dillard
Listen to Mike Dillard’s exclusive video about where, when and why this is happening by entering your name and email address to the right. You do not want to miss what he is going to say.