Posts Tagged ‘Hyperinflation’

2016: What’s the Point?

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

I hear and read endless speculation about this one and that one, and who’s in and who’s out, always superseded by the next day’s news, and always bereft of any measurable facts.  All of this can be both entertaining and frustrating.  All of it may be altogether pointless.  You see, the country is dying now.  By the time a new president is inaugurated in January of 2017, on our present course, it may not make any difference.  The country may be closing in on that tipping point, if we haven’t passed it already, at which nothing will be done to save us, irrespective of party, principles, or propaganda.  Our nation is deathly ill, if not terminal, and yet the politicians continue to chatter on as though there’s no end in sight.  Ignoring the stock market, which is many thousands of points over-valued due to cheap money practices at the Federal Reserve, this economy is a wreck.  As always, I urge my readers exercise care in what they believe or are willing to consider plausible.  In this post, I intend to revisit a topic I haven’t covered in a long while, because I think you ought to consider it.  The subject is the very real possibility of a hyperinflationary great depression that will make the 1930s look like a day at the beach.

As a reference to what hyperinflation looks like, here’s a graph of the infamous hyperinflation in the German Weimar Republic:

German Hyperinflation 1918-1924 (Wikipedia)

Long-time readers will remember I have used John Williams’ ShadowStats website as a reference in the past.  The nature of Mr. Williams’ warning hasn’t change, except to become substantially more strident inasmuch as such a calamity now seems to be possible at any moment.  For those of you who don’t remember, here was his Hyperinflation forecast of 2012:

2012 Hyperinflation Special Report(pdf format)

In 2014, Mr. Williams has updated his report, once in January, with a second installment in April. Here are links to these two in PDF format as well:

Hyperinflation 2014 – The End Game Begins

2014 Hyperinflation Special Report, Second Installment

 In these reports, Mr. Williams goes to extraordinary lengths to describe to you what I’ve told you right along, since the birth of this website:  Any alleged “economic recovery” was a fraud, and the nation is in deepening financial and economic trouble. Naturally, it’s not as though you hadn’t suspected it on your own, the obvious signs being what they are, but with the drumbeat of media, many people are soothed into complacency over a long enough time such that they begin to doubt what their own eyes and wallets are telling them.  In these most recent installments, Williams goes into great detail, putting numbers to the assumptions, providing actual data to support his conclusions.  In this sense, it is time for another reality check, because while the bulk of the people you know may well be ignoring hard reporting, in favor of popular media garbage, somebody ought to be warning them.   Chances are that being the good citizens most readers here tend to be, and being the sort of people who are trying to save their nation from disaster, you’ve been warning them right along.  Now, when they dismiss your warnings, you can dare them to read these reports.

If you’re among that number of people who are desirous of dismissing all of this as “Chicken Little” talk, I’d dare you directly.  Read these reports and if you aren’t at least a bit concerned, concerned enough to learn more, there’s no reaching you anyway.  In 2011, Sarah Palin and others were sounding the alarm.  She was ridiculed and mocked,  but the hard data supported her warnings.  All along, I’ve been warning you of the dangers of the monetary policy of the Federal Reserve, and the grotesque expenditures of the Federal Government.  In the years since 2008, when this latest crisis began, the Fed has borrowed into existence a sum approaching(if not exceeding) fifty trillion dollars.

All of this money-printing or “digitizing” will necessarily lead to a calamity of unprecedented scale.  There can be no escape from the laws of economics, any more than there can be an escape from the law of gravity.  The only question is: When? As Mr. Williams points out in his report, the conditions are already in place.  It’s simply a matter of triggers.  With that in mind, I’d ask my readers to prepare to the extent they are able.

Some will argue that all of this is tantamount to alarmist fear-mongering.  but Williams does offer this, in his second installment for 2014:

“Conceivably, immediate massive and fiscally painful action by the federal government to restore and maintain long-range U.S. government solvency still could avoid the looming dollar collapse, but the related political issues appear now to have been pushed off until after the 2014 midterm election, again, as those controlling the government continue to push politically-difficult choices and actions as far into the future as possible. That has been explicitly demonstrated in actions by both the White House and Congress in the last several years. Nonetheless, despite political efforts to dodge the issues, the U.S. dollar and the deficit do matter, and the looming financial storm likely will break before the election.”

In other words, getting our financial and fiscal house in order could still serve to avoid this calamity, but as he notes, and as we are all too aware, the probability of that being done is low. The question isn’t “Will there be pain?” The real question is whether it will be pain we choose while we maintain the ability to moderate it, or an uncontrolled and apocalyptic pain from which there will be no recovery.  We’re very much like a stage four cancer patient in that only the most radical treatments have any chance of saving us, and the chemotherapy and radiation will be so severe and thorough as to inflict more pain than we might want to endure, but failing to choose this, the results are known and unavoidable.

I have significant doubts as to whether there exists the political will to induce pain via the radical treatments necessary.  The politicians in Washington DC are hoping to stave-off this calamity through the current election cycle.  I believe this is folly, but I also know they’re banking on the notion that they will be able to deal with this after the election, but you and I know the truth: There’s always another election.  The dust will still be settling from the 2014 election when the first real moves for 2016 begin.  They will already begin to make the political calculi about how to survive through the next election, or how to save the next election for their respective parties, but none of them will be thinking about any of this. The truth is that saving the nation will be furthest from their minds.

We have a president who is a functional economic illiterate, driven by dogma of a failed ideology.  We have a Congress driven by short-run notions of self-preservation of their power.  We have a people who possess a low tolerance for bad news in good times, and a complete intolerance for self-imposed discipline particularly where it implies any sort of pain.  It’s time to consider what all of this will combine to create in the coming years, if you haven’t done the math already. People are talking about 2016 like that represents some sort of panacea, but ladies and gentlemen, our nation may not make it until 2016.

 Editor’s note: I realize that the linked reports from John Williams’ site constitute a fair bit of reading, but like most issues, the devils lie in the details. Understanding the roots of our impending calamity, and the historical precedents as well as the actual manipulations of statistics by the current regime are critical in understanding what is afoot. While it’s a lot of reading, it’s entirely worthwhile.

Note 2: There was an error in the links to the two 2014 reports. These have been fixed.

Staring Down the Barrel of a Gun We Loaded

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

We Loaded It...

I’ve written and re-written this piece a number of times, in part because I don’t wish to cause undo angst, but also in part because I don’t wish to cause too little.  You can blame Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Congresses past and present, or Ben Bernanke and his predecessors for all it matters, because in the context and scope of your life, it won’t make much difference.  We are headed for a complete collapse, and the collapse is no longer some vague notion in some nebulous, faraway universe of remote possibilities.  At least one analyst has concluded that by 2014, at the latest, this country is going to enter a period of economic turmoil that will make the Great Depression of the 1930s look like a garden party.  The media won’t tell you this, whether CNN or the New York Times; neither FoxNews nor the Wall Street Journal.  We are staring directly at the muzzle of a colossal gun, and it’s aimed at the heads of every American, but neither the current President nor the current Congress will tell you how bad it has become.  For two generations or more, the hand-writing has been on the wall, but unlike ordinary ink that will fade with the passage of time, this bit of script has become bolder, heavier and finally, indelible.  There will be no avoiding it.  There will be no escape.  This time, we will go down, and we may well never stage a comeback. The gun is aimed at our heads, and we loaded it.

To understand this will take a little time, although regular readers of this site will know most if not all of the gory details.  For a brief primer on what will soon confront us, please take a look at this report on Hyperinflation at John Williams’ Shadow Government Statistics website.  It’s lengthy, but it is information every American should learn and know, because while it is a bit of a reading chore, particularly for those whose eyes glaze over at the first hint of economic and financial terminology, it is nevertheless important information, and Williams does a remarkable job of not allowing the material to become overly dry. His report really doesn’t need any dressing-up or embellishment to be terrifying.

If you’ve been paying attention to the news beyond the international developments of the last few days, you will not have missed the fact that today, the US credit rating was again down-graded again by Egan Jones.  You should expect this trend to continue for some time, but this downgrade, like the last round of them a little more than one year ago, really doesn’t tell us anything we should not have known: Our currency is on the verge of collapse, and our ability to repay debt is becoming more challenged, but the fools in Washington DC don’t tell you about it because they’re afraid if you knew how bad it really is, you might react badly.  In the movies Armageddon and Deep Impact, the governments portrayed did their best to keep their respective impending disasters secret for as long as possible.  The thinking was: If it’s inevitable, such that all we can do is make things worse between now and the impact(s) by disclosing it in advance, we should say nothing until the last possible moment.  Another way of looking at this is the question I once posited:

“The government is spending like there’s no tomorrow. What if there isn’t?”

The fact is that we don’t need Hollywood or the Mayans to provide apocalyptic scenarios to fulfill this role in our immediate future.  Our Federal Reserve(hereafter, simply “the Fed”) in concert with our Federal government have created something nearly as disastrous, and potentially, every bit as deadly.  As Ben Bernanke uses his powers as Chairman of the Fed to undertake another round of quantitative easing.  As you’ll remember from previous rounds of this same tactic, this amounts to money printing, a way to inject more cash into the market in the attempt to stimulate lending and business activity.  The problem is that each time this is done, what actually happens is that the value of the dollar falls versus commodities such as oil, or other energy sources, and the cost of everything increases.  When this happens, it makes it harder for business to operate, harder for consumers to spend such cash as they may have, and otherwise has precisely the exact opposite effect, all while driving us closer to the brink.  Bernanke is trying to drive us away from a deflationary cycle that could result if the economy stalls too steeply, but the problem is that he’s going to cause what will be infinitely worse.

At the same time, our Congress and our President have added to the problem, because each time they borrow money, the Fed is printing it into existence.  In short, both our fiscal and monetary policies are rigged in favor of inflation, and with all the money-printing, it is only a matter of time before the dollar becomes completely worthless in the world market.  Any small displacement in the market could lead to our economic demise.  Williams’ report for 2012 goes so far as to suggest that you concentrate on bare survival strategies, and defending yourself in the face of complete political and social disintegration.

I know that you’ve been reading about a “financial cliff” somewhere in the distant and murky future, but what I’m telling you to do at this point is that the veil of fog is beginning to lift because that future is no longer distant.  Williams’ report explains thoroughly the main causes of our impending doom, and this isn’t some conspiracy nut.  When he published this update earlier this year, his warnings sounded eerily like my own, and also those of a few other people who have been sounding the alarm, including some in talk radio, in conservative media, and notably, Governor Palin.  At the time of the announcement of QE2, Gov. Palin did a rather bold thing:  She announced to the world the dangers and the certain results.  Naturally, since her evaluation was based on sound economic understanding, her conclusions might well have seemed prophetic in light of all that has happened since.  The truth is that she was merely telling you what must be based on the immutable laws of the universe: There are no free lunches…or anything.

I believe this is one of the reasons the Republican leadership in Congress has done nothing to substantially obstruct President Obama’s agenda.  It is true that they would have faced some political consequences, but what’s more the case is that they are every bit as aware of the impending collapse as anybody in the executive branch.  One might view Congress cynically, and suppose they are “getting while the getting’s good,” and there’s no doubt that some of that goes on, but it’s also true that the problem is so gargantuan that they do not see how they can correct it without throwing the country into complete chaos, and since that’s what’s coming anyway, they see no point in hurrying the matter.

Some have concluded that Bernanke is taking this up now in order to try to help Obama’s re-election, and while there may be some truth to it, the fact is that the situation has been and remains much worse than you’re being told by the media.  We have been in a bottom-bouncing depression since at least 2009, and nothing has animated us very far from the floor.  As I have written many times, they stimulate via the printing press and the deficit, and we get a brief improvement, but then the increased costs in the market come home to roost, and we’re set back to a place no better than before as the costs, driven in large measure by the inflationary effects of the stimulus that quickly act as a brake upon the alleged “recovery” that never materializes.

Elsewhere on Williams’ site, you can find a detailed examination of his treatment of unemployment, and the numbers will shock you.  Add to this the tidbits about the deficit and inflation, and you will begin to understand how you’ve been misled, not only by the media and the administration, but also by decades of shoulder-shrugging politicians in both parties.  By Williams’ assessment, it may be impossible to rescue our nation any longer.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have been urging you since the inception of this blog to make preparations to the best of your abilities.  I hope you’ve been diligent.  Check out Williams’ Hyperinflation report, and think it through carefully.  The evidence of your own daily lives has been telling you all of the happy-talk about “economic recovery” had been a farce.  Like the approach of a colossal asteroid, the government’s ability to hide the impending disaster or disguise the seriousness of our worsening situation has begun to fail.  That is really the only significant meaning of the latest downgrade.  They can’t hide it much longer.  The Piper will be paid.

Some are choosing to ignore all of this in the hope that a change of administration might give us one last chance at a way out, but irrespective of the outcome in November, the chances that our currency survives three more years in its current form is probably fewer than one in ten.  The possibility that we will survive as a nation may be somewhat less.  Fixing this problem will require the institution of spending cuts on a scale that may cause complete social collapse.  Do we expect John Boehner to take on such a monumental chore?  Even if the Republicans take the Senate, Mitch McConnell isn’t exactly the picture of courageous and vigorous leadership.

Saving our nation is no longer simply a political problem in the sense of replacing certain politicians.  It’s a cultural and economic crisis as well, and with all that is going on abroad, it may come down to a matter of literal survival.  It’s time that we begin to face up to this, because our politicians aren’t going to address the  problem until it no longer matters, at which point, they’ll do nothing, but we’ll pay the price.  We always do.  People have asked me what we could do to remedy the problem, but when I tell them, they look away, because they don’t want to face the implications that attend the proposed actions.

At present, we have an annual published deficit of around $1.3 Trillion.  As Mr. Williams’ report makes plain, if the government were forced to use GAAP(Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) in their accounting, the actual annual deficit is in the neighborhood of $5 Trillion. The added $3.7 Trillion consists of new future obligations that the government does not pay, but has promised at some future date.  Many refer to these as the “unfunded liabilities” of our government, but they add up to a staggering amount, in the range of $80 to $120 Trillion dollars in promises.  When one makes promises on this scale, it is sure to affect one’s creditworthiness, never mind one’s credit rating.

Consider the fact that our government collects approximately $2.5 Trillion in taxes, fees, and the like throughout the year, but that this is still well short of the $3.8 Trillion it spends, and then propose cuts in response.  Here’s a dirty, ugly secret the DC crowd won’t point out to you: If you cut everything that is not an entitlement program or debt service, you would still have a deficit.  That’s right, if you eliminated every bureaucrat, soldier, judge, roads project, education expenditure, and all of the other things that government does apart from pay interest on its debt or send payments to individuals through entitlement programs, you could not balance the budget.

What this makes clear is that the problem exists not on the “discretionary” line of the ledger, but entirely on the “non-discretionary” lines in the book.  Leftists will argue that the problem is the lack of revenues, but that’s an absurd hoax. Anything done to increase revenues at this point will actually cause them to decline.  Increased tax rates?  People will earn less to avoid the taxes.  Even those who want to earn more won’t be able to because there will be insufficient demand in the marketplace to provide the commerce needed to generate the revenues we have now.

The only answer to this problem is sharp cuts in government spending, combined with a cessation of Quantitative Easing.  The entitlement programs have become such a massive anchor on our economy that it cannot recover, and they have squeezed out all other spending.  This is why people look away when you explain to them the problem.  They know what it implies about all of our sacred cows in the entitlement sector of government.  As with the old lament, everybody is in favor of massive government cuts until we arrive at their favorite Federal program.  At that point, you are given a stack of excuses, complaints, and ultimately: “Never mind.”

I have news for you, and it’s not pleasant:  These programs will end.  Virtually all of them.  None of them will survive in their current form, if at all.  We are like Greece, only worse, and much larger.  The question our elected leaders have not faced is whether to break the news to us now, while there is some small hope of recovery, or whether they shall just “get while the getting’s good,” and make off in the dark of night after the collapse, leaving us to figure it out.  The fact is that I can’t blame them for opting toward the latter, because we will be worse than Greece in every dimension and measure, both in size, but also in degree, and I believe when a responsible politician ever tells this truth, he will be pilloried, at first in media, and then later by mobs.  Paul Ryan has had just the first taste of this.  Sarah Palin was mocked for such warnings to an extent I’ve never seen for simply stating the dangers of QE2 and all the money-printing.  She was right, naturally, as is Paul Ryan on the matter of entitlements.

The problem is now that it may be too late for any sort of remediation.  The problem has become too vast, and it is as late as that.  What we can do as individuals is to grasp the reality laid out before us.  We can prepare ourselves and our families.  We can vote accordingly.  We can make noise about it.  In the end, we may be forced to watch our nation slide back into the pre-industrial, pre-republican muck from which it emerged.  It’s been a long decline, and we’ve mostly done little but to urge it on as a people.  We’re peering down the loaded barrel, and it’s been our finger’s twitch upon which we are waiting.

One false move… A hiccough… One little lurch…