How to Obscure one of the Biggest Economic Problems in the US

By Doug Short, Advisor Perspectives:
Earlier this week I updated my commentary on Five Decades of Middle Class Wages, an analysis of Real Average Hourly Earnings of Production and Nonsupervisory Employees. During the 21st century and especially since the end of the Great Recession, wages have clearly been stagnant.
But, as Mark Twain famously remarked, ‘there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.’
I was, therefore, not surprised when a reader sent me a link to a blog article entitled ‘Real Wage Stagnation Is a Bit of a Myth.’ Seriously! The article featured a chart that included the very same earnings data series that I had used, but it came to quite the opposite conclusion:
‘Contrary to popular belief, wages have been rising a bit faster than prices. In other words, real wages haven’t stagnated as widely believed, but have been moving higher, albeit at a slow pace.’ All it takes is a simple statistical manipulation to paint a smiley face on the real wage data. And what is that? Choose a tame deflator for your inflation adjustment.
Below are two charts of the Average Hourly Earnings of Production and Nonsupervisory Employees stretching back to 1964, the year the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) initiated the series. The top chart is my analysis. The one below it is the optimistic variant that claims stagnation is a ‘myth’ (click them for larger versions).

This post was published at Wolf Street on August 24, 2014

India Imports 2559 MT Silver In 5 Months

While silver has been widely used as money in history, at the beginning of the 19th century gold became the dominant metal in trade. At the end of the 19th century central banks erupted around the world and began holding gold in reserve to back their currencies, the international monetary system in this period is known as the classic gold standard. When the last remnants of the gold standard were officially left behind n 1974, and the world was on a fiat standard, central banks held on to their gold. This can only be explained as insurance in case the fiat standard wouldn’t succeed, concomitant admitting there is a reasonable chance fiat money will fail.
Nowadays central bankers sporadically tell us about the true function of gold in the international monetary system. This is only logic if one realizes they (/the US) preferred to minimize the role of gold, in the hopes the fiat standard would provide them maximum flexibility to manage the monetary system. Jelle Zijlstra, president of the central bank of the Netherlands from 1967 to 1982, wrote in his autobiography of 1992:
Gold as the monetary cosmos’ sun.
To analyze gold’s gravity in its ultimate role as the sun in our monetary system I try to be acquainted with all the planets in orbit, black holes nearby and comets crossing the solar system. For example: foreign exchange markets, inflation, quantitative easing, too big to fail banks, derivatives, oil, geo-politics, the media, technical analysis, commodities and silver. I certainly do not pretend to be an expert in all fields (the cosmos), but to make a long story short; while always attributing more importance to gold I recently decided to pay more attention to the global silver market. Few events happen in isolation these days and I did some interesting findings with regard to the silver market worth digging into. In this post we’ll be examining some data from India.
Silver Because of the pressure on the current account deficit the Central Board of Excise and Customs of the Indian Government, raised the gold import duty in January 2013 from 4% to 6 %, in June to 8 % and in August to 10 %. The silver import duty was raised in January 2012 from 1,500 Rs/Kg to 6 % of the silver price and in August 2013 to 10 %. Since the import duties, or tariffs, were raised, the price of gold in India developed a higher premium (excluding the import duty) than silver, as can be seen in the charts below.

This post was published at Bullion Star on 21-08-2014

Peter Schiff: Fed Induced Phony Recovery is Bullish for Gold

Here’s Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital pointing out that the recent positive GDP numbers indicate that America is spending money – money that is just created by the Fed.  The GDP “is goosed.”   If the Fed decides to take all that easy money away, the propped up markets – stocks, housing, etc. – will collapse.  This, combined with the fact that most people don’t see the value of gold in this environment, makes Schiff even more bullish on the metal.

Jim Rickards: 2014 Expectations

In this audio clip from Physical Gold Fund, James Rickards of Tangent Capital talks about the Fed’s alternatives in 2014 and how they may carry out their tapering plans.  Rickards reviews the Fed’s actions, and how they’ve been unable to attain their specific goals, the forces of deflation versus inflation, as well as affects of nominal GDP growth in lieu of real GDP growth.  He also discusses gold and gives some interesting comments regarding why he holds it, how much of it should be a part of any investment portfolio, and its current trading environment  (specifically, that the current set-up could yield a major short-squeeze opportunity).  Listen to mp3 audio.

And in the following Bloomberg interview, Rickards talks more about gold and how even though 2013 has seen a bad year for the metal in paper terms, there is still major demand for obtaining gold in physical form.  Physical gold has been leaving the GLD ETF and going straight to China.  That the central banks have to drain the ETF in order to get the physical metal shows that there is very little of the stuff available elsewhere.  This is a must watch interview with James Rickards.




Fed Has No Choice But to Expand QE

Mike Maloney reviews chart data from the St. Louis Fed and shows the great currency expansion that has ensued since Richard Nixon took the dollar off the international gold standard in 1971.  The data also shows how the velocity of money has not increased, which is why we are not getting much inflation yet (as Jim Rickards has pointed out numerous times on this site already).  Instead, this money expansion has only benefited the banks and the elite, who are buying up real assets with all this printed money, leaving the rest of us with pure debt.

Side note: It might be an interesting exercise to compare what happened during the fall of the USSR when government cronies were able to buy up all the nation’s assets on the cheap, while everyone else suffered.  The fall of the US is similar – the assets might not be so cheap, but the money they’re using to buy them with is easy to get if you’re a banker or an elite crony.

Jim Rickards: The Fed’s Using the Wrong Models

James Rickards, author of Currency Wars, gave the following presentation at The Future of Money 2.0 in Bratislava, Slovakia on September 26, 2013.  A week later, Rickards gave the same presentation, though significantly abbreviated, at the Casey Research Summit in Tucson, Arizona.  In the presentation, he covers:

  • US Defense Department’s exercises in financial warfare.
  • Historical currency devaluations by countries to gain trade advantages.
  • Historical examples of re-establishing a gold standard after a currency collapse.
  • The current situation of Inflationary and Deflationary forces working against each other – an unstable situation.
  • Irving Fisher’s (and later Milton Friedman) theory of economics (Quantity Theory of Money … M x V = P x Q).
  • QE, Operation Twist, etc. have had no affect because money velocity is not responding.  2014 may bring efforts to put money directly into the hands of the people (e.i. Tax Cuts).
  • Complexity Theory may provide a better model for the Fed, as it shows that the economic system has become increasingly more interconnected across sectors.  It actually predicted the 2008 collapse and, unfortunately the model is even more densely integrated today, indicating a worse crash ahead.
  • The potential remedies the Fed or the IMF might enforce in response to the next collapse.

Jim Rickards on All the Taper Hype: Look at the Data!

Here’s some level-headed thinking from Jim Rickards, who was proven to be correct on his call that the Fed would not taper.  While the Fed would certainly like to taper, they’ve always stated that they would do so on the condition that the economic data continues to be strong.  But the economic reporting has been terrible, so the Fed didn’t taper and won’t until those reports show viable strength.  Jim also discusses what differences, if any, the upcoming Fed-chair change may make (none), gold’s future price expectations (higher) and his new book, The Death of Money (due out in April, 2014).


The Decline And Fall Of The Dollar & The USA

The following video from OneTruth4Life explains how America’s founding fathers created a sound money system, framed within Article I, section 8 of the Constitution.  It goes on to describe, in full detail, what’s happened since then – anti-Constitutional acts by certain government leaders and bankers, which debased the currency at various moments in history.  These acts seem to become more blatant as history proceeds, and have led to, or have been the primary motive for most, if not all, the military conflicts.  Furthermore, it will be the primary factor that will have brought the nation to its own doom at some point in the near future.


Tough Questions for Eric Sprott

Lauren Lyster puts the tough questions to Eric Sprott regarding gold and silver and whether or not investment in such is warranted, given the lackluster performance over the past year.  Sprott responds by pointing out that given the increases in quantities of the metal that have been purchased recently,  it’s highly likely that central banks have been leasing their physical gold into the marketplace in order to suppress the price.

  • In the last 12 years, the annual physical gold demand has increased by 2500 tonnes/year. But the supply of gold has remained flat.  Where does the new metal come from to meet this new demand?
  • Some rather prominent central banks have recently been subjected to questions asking about the validity of their gold claims held in foreign vaults (i.e. Germany and Austria).

The discussion continues to include:

  • The Fed is buying 90% of US Treasuries.  Japan and other central banks are practicing similar policies. Central banks of the world are trying to keep interest rates low for extended time frames, “which is ludicrous.”
  • Sprott expects silver to outperform gold in the next decade and points out the investment ratios he’s seeing from the entities making purchases of these two precious metals.
  • Lauren Lyster defines Hard Money and it’s relation to old and new central banking policies.
  • A record 47.7 million Americans are now on food stamps, according to the latest report from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Expect Currency War to Continue in 2013

Author of Currency Wars, Jim Rickards explains that the Fed’s easing programs have thus far failed to create their desired inflation, which, in their view, is required to boost US exports.  Although Japan will be allowed to weaken their currency, all the other currencies of the world will be strengthened as the US strives to further weaken the US dollar. Of course, gold is still the currency of choice to preserve wealth.




Expanding the discussion, Lauren Lyster interviews Jim Rickards, where he clarifies the Fed’s tactics:

  • The economy has failed to recover despite the Fed’s actions so far because the consumer has not been willing to spend or invest.  Hence money velocity has remained nil.
  • The Fed is trying to induce more spending by: (1) Forcing a negative interest rate as an incentive for more borrowing, and (2) Scaring the public into buying stuff through the threat of future inflation.
  • The inflation, they hope, will be the result of all the currency wars with other nations, especially China – cheapening the dollar will make imports more expensive.

It’s a race between the Fed trying to achieve their goals and the whole system imploading because of a loss of confidence in the dollar.

Attacking the Rich?

All this talk in Washington about going after the rich to pay more taxes is just a smoke screen.  As Rick Santelli explains in the clip below, the arguments between the Democrats and Republicans are using numbers that ignore inflation & mislead the public on who they’re actually targeting with tax increases.

  • To say that the tax increases will only affect those making $250K/year is really talking about those making $165K/year (in 1993 dollars), which is a 35% miss when it comes to being honest about the actual situation our economy is facing.
  • Or worse, when they talk about only taxing the millionaires and yet begin their arguments with finding ways to tax those making $250K/year, that’s a 75% miss.

The main point is that by ignoring the inflation, these government leaders are purposely hiding their ever-increasing extortion of wealth from the middle class, not from the rich!


RT: The Empire of Debt and the Election

In this episode of Russia Today’s Capital Account, Lauren Lyster interviews Bill Bonner, author of Empire of Debt. The highlights include:

  • Do the statistics and reports generated by the government help anyone determine the real state of the economy?  GDP, CPI and Unemployment reports “mean something, but they don’t mean what they say it means.”
  • A economic system based on fiat/paper money has never lasted in the past. Ever since 1971, when Nixon closed the gold window,  the resources of the country have been used unwisely, investing in programs that destroy the country’s wealth.  In order for real economic growth, this practice must be changed so that resources are invested in initiatives that build wealth.
  • The outcome of the presidential election will not alter the current course. Instead, the election is basically a contest to determine which group of ‘zombies‘ will get government sponsorship. A Romney win will ensure the military industrial complex stays in business, while an Obama victory will further the social/welfare state.
  • The government employing stimulus as a policy to help the economy is ridiculous. Again, it doesn’t help the overall economy generate wealth, it only serves those favored cronies with close ties to those in political office.

Jim Rickards on War – Currency or Otherwise

In his book Currency Wars, Jim Rickards reveals his participation in war games sponsored by the Secretary of Defense in 2008. The objective of these particular games was to discover how nations of the world might use financial instruments to wage war on each other and to gain some perspective on their effectiveness.  In the video below, he goes a step further and hypothesizes on what events might take place between the US and China as the world economy continues to slide into the toilet.  Rickards ends the video with a probable sequence of events that will take place if we stay on the current path.

Greed, Fear, Bubbles and Market Madness

Grant Williams, of Vulpes Investment Management, provides us with a brilliant presentation explaining how greed and fear play into the making of economic bubbles.  After giving a few examples of historic bubbles of the past, Williams then goes on to describe two bubbles in the present.  Spoiler alert!

Williams presents the latter two bubbles happening today as one nearing a collapse and the other in a “sweet spot” ready to enter the hyper-inflating mania phase.

G. Edward Griffin: The Federal Reserve is a Cartel

Eighteen years ago, G. Edward Griffin wrote The Creature from Jekyll Island and exposed the Federal Reserve’s true nature.  Since that initial writing, the knowledge of the fact that the Fed is not a government institution, but a privately owned central banking cartel has expanded in public awareness. In this remarkably lucid interview with Casey Research’s Louis James, Griffin discusses:

  • The growing size of government
  • The decline of the purchasing power of the US dollar
  • The two-party political system is really a cover for a one-party system
  • The realistic expectations of public awakening prior to a collapse
  • The Fed is a cartel. Furthermore, it’s a partnership between the bankers and politicians
  • Why we have not seen hyperinflation (yet)
  • The system has changed from a free enterprise, competitive system to a politically connected, non-productive system, which will inevitably lead to totalitarianism
  • The possibilities for America to reverse course and avoid catastrophe