September 18th, 2018
Summer heat and humidity have returned to the South Carolina Midlands. We must wait a bit longer for the tiresome weather pattern to ease. In the meantime our attention turns to the daily political and monetary spasms that pass for the news-of-the-day.
The Kavanagh-Ford hearing next week promises to be another Washington based circus. We'll be treated to the salacious allegations that surround a teenage party of 36 years ago. Judge Kavanaugh would have been 17 and Ms. Ford 15. Media reporters and commentators are having a field day discussing the details of the alledged encounter between young Mr. Kavanaugh and the youthful cheerleader.
But looming over the scene is a shadow cast by the financial markets. Commentator Jim Quinn writes, "The masses are as unprepared for the onslaught of consequences from the unholy trinity of debt, civic decay and global disorder as they are for hurricanes bearing down on their homes."
Is Quinn crying wolf? The economy is said to be booming. We should be content. But the elevated economy is supported by debt levels the world has never seen before. And surely civic decay and global disorder are pushing the limits.
The ghost of the ancient Publilius Cyrus keeps reminding us "All debts must be paid, either by the borrower or the lender."
No one appears to believe that any more, but he may be right.
Yesterday was the 231st anniversary of the day Ben Franklin emerged from a lengthy session of representatives of the American colonies. A woman is said to have shouted "Well, Doctor - what have a got? A republic or a monarchy?"
Franklin is reported to have answered with the famous line, "A republic. If you can keep it."
From what we can tell Americans today are quite fuzzy on the facts about their republic. Small wonder. It has morphed into a democracy. Hardly anyone calls it a republic except when they are pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes.
Don Willett, an Appeals Court judge, reports today that 71 percent can't identify the Constiution as the supreme law of the land. Also, some 10 percent of U.S. college graduates think "Judge Judy" sits on the Supreme Court. (!)
Surveys indicate that only 32 percent of these "educated" people can name all three branches of government, and 33 percent can't name a single one.
Wha' hoppen? In our long ago days in Junior High School (now known as Middle School) facts about the Constitution were drummed into our heads. We got the impression that a home without a copy of the founding document was on a par with a home without a Bible.
We live today in an era in which more information is available to more citizens than ever before in history. Unfortunately, its sheer abundance is heavily laced with distortion and falsehoods. (Think of all the advertising that passes across your computer screen disguised as "news.") The propaganda industry has never been more powerful now that the eyes and ears of most of the citizenry are readily available to the manipulators. Sadly, promoting the precepts of the Constitution is very low on the agenda of propagandists, educators, and information media.
Drifting away from the Constitution is a bad idea. The Founders warned us it would be hard to hold on to. Too bad we don't listen.
Monday WeatherIT'S A LOVELY DAY IN OUR S.C.CAPITAL CITY. Remnants of Florence moved to the north and the Tar Heel State got the brunt of wind and rainfall. A lot of the water is heading down the streams of South Carlina and flood watches continue.
Commerce slowed wa-a-ay down here in the heart of South Carolina. What the economic impact will be we cannot guess - - but it will be substantial.
This episode was one of those "rainy day events" that we were supposed to be saving money for. However, governments, corporations, and individuals have drifted away from such old-fashioned notions and rely on their creditworthiness to meet unexpected expenses.
The question arises - how deeply into monetary debt can the world go before the consequences produce catastrophe? We have no idea. And we're well aware of the downside of saving money for those "rainy days." Leaving cash in a bank account at a measly 1/2 percent. The inflation rate is currently 2 percent or more, which means money saved is losing purchasing power of about 1 1/2 percent. That's a tiny bit better than stowing cash under a mattress. Then it loses purchasing power at the full rate of price inflation.
Is it possible to stop inflating?
Of course. But it would require the government to run balanced budgets and stop creating fiat currency at at the present phenomenal rate. This would require some belt-tightening and rare is the politician who is interested in doing that. Slashing spending is hardly the traditional way to gather votes at election time.
Examine the present situation in Venezuela for the tragic consequences of runaway inflation. History is strewn with such examples, but present first world money managers say they have the correct formula and "It can't happen here."
We're not so sure.
A bold prediction! Von Greyerz may be all wet. We'll find out.
It's true that sharp corrections in financial markets tend to occur in the autumn, but this Zurich based gold bug has flat out predicted big trouble in the weeks ahead. We'll put a memorandum in our journal and come back to visit his prediction by the end of the year.
We are being reminded by news media today that we've reached the 10th anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse which triggered a sharp recession. A massive monetary intervention saved the day, but staggering debt has been part of the consequence.
Betting on the ups and downs of economic cycles is risky business, but those who do it successfully usually wind up with a fair amount of wealth. Von Greyerz is a contrarian, choosing to acquire assets when they are out of fashion. (The old "buy low and sell high" theory.) He also encourages patience. SUBMERGING MARKETS
THE WEATHER WATCH.
The National Hurricane Center says that hurricane Florence will deteriorate into a tropical storm as it marches across our state, probably dumping a great deal of rain on our town.What's a dollar?
We're holed up in Columbia, South Carolina's capital city, and it appears we're in for a good soaking. Sustained winds of only 20 to 30MPH are expected here, but with Florence meandering through the state over the weekend the potential for a drenching rainfall is a sure thing.
The economic effect is already being felt. Schools and other government agencies are closed, events are being canceled by the hundreds, and a costly interruption in commerce is taking place.
Then there are the farmers racing to haul in crops. Flooded fields at harvest time equal near ruin for the agricultural industry.
So, in these parts we expect weather to be the number one story for the next few days.
Dat ol' Debbil, Socialism!
"Bernie Sanders got the ball rolling," says Professor Mike Rozeff,"then socialists Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley won Democratic primary slots. Bill Maher says Americans are already socialists and the country is quasi-socialist. Comedian Jim Carrey has chipped in: “We have to say yes to socialism — to the word and everything. We have to stop apologizing.” Elizabeth Warren proposes to socialize corporate ownership, taking ownership away from stockholders."
Hey, what's going on here? Is it possible that by the elections of 2020 we'll be seriously considering pushing the U.S. into Socialism?
We wouldn't be surprised. America has been edging its way in that direction for nearly 90 years. It will take only a few billion dollar's worth of clever advertising to convince a voting majority that full blown socialism is the only political path the nation should consider. A frightening number of first-time voters appear to be thinking in that direction,particularly since the liberal left have floated the idea of "free college." SOCIALIST EUPHEMISMS
We can't put a number on it, but we're guessing that the dollar value of time wasted dodging phony (and malicious) email - plus the precious time wasted in answering robo calls - runs into the millions, if not billions, of dollars. Think also of the people who fall into the traps set by the greedy pests who perpetrate this stuff.
And we are so sick of the heavily accented guy who calls to say he is a Microsoft representative who has detected a serious flaw in our computer and wants to help us fix it. We thank him for pointing it out and say we'll report it immediately to our "I.T. guy"...then hang up.
Lately this email warning has been showing up.
It appears to have been sent from France and has nothing to do with ATT/Yahoo. And notice the "You're advise to switch" line. No competent company would let grammatical errors like that slip by.
We're still searching for a good guess on the dollar loss users suffer from the phishing thieves on the Internet. Any help a reader can provide will be appreciated! ~Ye Ed
When we were born a dollar was, by definition, 1/20th of a troy ounce of gold. People didn't use gold in daily transactions. They used paper notes, redeemable in gold or silver, and coins made mostly of silver. Everyone knew that a dollar was "as good as gold," and they could trade a ten dollar bill for a $10.00 gold eagle coin if they wished.
All that changed in 1933 when the new president, Franklin Roosevelt, called in the privately held gold to bolster the holdings of the U.S. Treasury. Times were tough. An economic depression had struck.
Fifteen years later, in 1948, Rep.Howard Buffett of Nebraska called for a restoration of a monetary gold standard in order to thwart the rising rate of paper money inflation. (Note: The U.S. Constitution called for a monetary system based on precious metals and there was never an annulment or amendment of the provision.)
The Sound Money faction has been relegated to the back burner for 85 years and there's not much chance of it gaining any traction. However, Rep. Alexander Mooney (R) WVA is pushing Bill 5404 aiming to define the U.S. Dollar as a measure of gold. The bill will surely languish in committee, but it quickens the pulse of that small faction of citizens yearning to restore the dollar to a unit of measure whose value can be trusted over a period of time.
The late Howard Buffett said, in 1948, that "politicians of both parties will oppose the restoration of the restoration of gold, although they outwardly will seemingly favor it."
He was right. But remaining blind to the problem of the rapidly depreciating dollar is foolish. And dangerous.
Invoke the 25th amendment and how the sparks will fly!
Section 4 is so complex it makes the scholars cry.
Ratified fifty-one years ago, when LBJ was prez,
Section 4 was never used - so a scholar says.
When Bay State Senator Elizabeth Warren went on the warpath about invoking the
25th Amendment to the Constitution we looked it up. It was drafted after the assassination
of John F.Kennedy and ratified in February of 1967. Although presidents have invoked
Section 3 when dealing with medical procedures, such as being sedated for surgery, the far
more complicated Section 4 has never been used.
We have a hunch political liberals who are eager to see President Trump run out of office will strike out
in their attempt to do it under the formula prescribed by the 25th Amendment. But, on the bright side, it
might prompt people unfamiliar with the Constitution to get a copy and read it.
"Try being a conservative on the Upper West
Side of Manhattan," writies NY Sun editor Seth Lipsky
"Try being someone who believes we actually
need a strong military to defend ourselves against real enemies ... who
believes that Bernie Sanders’ socialism would work as well — namely, as
little — as socialism always has in the past ... who believes the
quality of life in New York City has plunged since Bill de Blasio was
elected mayor ... who respects the flag and has stopped watching NFL
football because of the whole kneeling thing ... who believes that if
the Palestinians really wanted peace, there would be peace tomorrow and
if the Israelis gave up their arms, they would all be dead tomorrow ...
who believes that America is not a racist nation, but is, in fact, one
of the most open and brilliant experiments in self-government, one that
has freed more people and fed more people than any other country in
Despite their conservative convictions, Lipsky and his wife, author Amity Schlaes, survive in the predominately liberal hotbed known as Manhattan.
Maybe. . .
Predicting the future is damned tough. Analyzing the past for clues about what MIGHT occur in the future is daunting, too. Sure, we can predict politial robo-calls will increase between now and November, and the federal government's need for money will continue to balloon until a Day of Reckoning - but we long ago put away our crystal ball concerning the future of the American experiment. We seem to be skating on thin ice.
Even experts confess they don't know what's coming. Peter Hug, for instance, makes a living keeping tabs on the international gold and silver markets. He says "There are some serious risks of contagion in the financial markets. It feels to me like something is about to happen."
One thing is certain: If "it" happens news media will place the blame on Donald J. Trump, ignoring the fact that the drift away from the tenets of the U.S. Constitution began with the national elections of 1932.
Swiss goldbug missed the Genoa bridge collapse by only 3 days.
"Having personally crossed the collapsed Genoa bridge three days before the accident, one is reminded of the major underinvestment in infrastructure worldwide (and also how ephemeral life is). Italy will now spend €80 billion, that they don’t have, to improve the country’s infrastructure.
"Driving around Italy you realize that this will be a drop in the ocean. Most countries have neglected infrastructure investments for a very long time. In USA for example, it is estimated by the American Association of Civil Engineers that $5 trillion needs to be invested by 2025 to fix roads, bridges, dams and other infrastructure. That is another $5 trillion that will be printed out of nowhere."
This gloomy observation comes from Egon von Greyers, the Swiss gold bug who has little faith in the ability of the world's fiat currencies to continue to support expanding debt-based spending. He points to the problems of Venezuela, Argentina, Turkey and others as "trouble on the periphery."
Should we bother reading von Greyers? It depends on whether the reader is concerned about the growing clash between sound money and fiat currency. The Last Hurrah.
These are either rollicking good times, or they aren't. Michael Snyder is worried.
#1 U.S. consumer credit just hit another all-time record high. In the second quarter of 2008, total consumer credit reached a grand total of $2.62 trillion , and now ten years later that number has soared to $3.87 trillion. That is an increase of 48 percent in just one decade.
#2 Student loan debt has surpassed 1.5 trillion dollars for the first time ever. Over the last 8 years, the total amount of student loan debt has shot uup 79 percent in the United States.
#3 According to the Federal Reserve, the credit card default rate in the U.S. has risen for 7 quarters in a row.
#4 One recent survey found that 42 percent of American consumers paid their credit card bill late “at least once in the last year”, and 24 percent of Americans consumers paid their credit card bills late “more than once in the last year”.
#5 Real wage growth in the United States just declined by the most that we have seen in 6 years.
#6 According to one recent study, the “rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991”.
#8 The size of the official U.S. budget deficit is up 21 percent up under President Trump.
#9 It is being projected that interest on the national debt will suirpass half a trillion dollars surpass for the first time ever this year.
#10 Goldman Sachs is projecting that the yearly U.S. budget deficit will surpass 2 trillion dollars by 2028. Michael Snyder
that Mr. Snyder's worries are worth considering, what's a bloke (or
bloke-ess) supposed to do about it? With economic history as a
guide we'd guess that an economic stumble awaits us all and it makes
sense to batten the hatches in advance of it. Avoiding
unnecessary debt strikes us as a reasonable measure. Living
within one's means is another.