Federal Reserve Confesses Sole Responsibility for All Recessions – The Great Recession Blog

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Federal Reserve Confesses Sole Responsibility for All Recessions

The Great Recession Blog
January 16, 2019
In a surprisingly candid admission, two former Federal Reserve chairs have stated that the Federal Reserve alone is responsible for creating all recessions in the United States.
First, former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke said that

Expansions don’t die of old age. They get murdered.

o clarify this statement, former Chair Janet Yellen placed the murder weapon in the Fed’s hands:

Two things usually end them…. One is financial imbalances, and the other is the Fed.

Read More: thegreatrecession.info/blog/federal-reserve-causes-all-recessions/

Lacy Hunt on the Unintended Consequences of Federal Reserve Policies

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The Financial Repression Authority interviewed Lacy Hunt, Chief Economist at Hoisington Management on Fed policies.

The interview below first appeared on the FRA website along with a video. The emphasis in italics is mine.

FRA: Hi, welcome to FRA’s Roundtable Insight. Today, we have Dr. Lacy Hunt. He’s an internationally recognized economist and the Executive V.P. and Chief Economist of Hoisington Investment Management Company, a firm that manages over $4.5 billion USD and specializing in the management of fixed income accounts for large institutional clients. He also served in the past as Senior Economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, where he was a member of the Federal Reserve System Committee on Financial Analysis. Welcome. Dr. Hunt.

Dr. Lacy Hunt: Nice to be with you, Richard.

FRA: Great. I thought we’d have a discussion on a variety of topics relating to the economy and the financial markets. You recently mentioned that you thought this was the worst economic expansion recovery in U.S. history since 1790. Wow. Can you elaborate?

Dr. Lacy Hunt: If you calculate the average growth rate in the expansions since 1790, this is a long-running expansion, but it’s the slowest and in the last 10 years the household sector lagged very, very badly. The rate of growth in real disposable household income per-capita is only 0.9 percent per year. And in the last 12 months, we’re up only 0.6 percent per year. So it’s a long-running expansion, but it’s been a poor expansion. There are certainly problems with some of the earlier data, but this appears to be the slowest expansion since the turn of the 18th Century and our households are the main problem for the growth rate lag.

FRA: And do you point a finger for this cause as primarily on the Federal Reserve or do you see structural changes happening to the economy?

Dr. Lacy Hunt: I think that the main element suppressing growth is the heavily leveraged U.S. economy. We have too much public and private debt, and this debt does not generate an income stream for the aggregate economy. As a result of the prolonged indebtedness, which is on the verge of going much higher because of problems in the governmental sector, the economy is now experiencing very poor demographics. We have a baby bust, a household formation bust, and the lowest birth rate since 1937. These demographics are exacerbating the problems because we have too much of the wrong type of debt and thus the velocity of money has been falling since 1997. Velocity this year is only 1.43 percent, which is the lowest since 1949. Furthermore, the debt creates a situation where monetary policy capabilities are asymmetric. In other words, a lot of action is needed to provoke even a muted impact on the economy, whereas the slightest monetary tightening goes a long way in depressing economic activity. So the root cause of this underperformance is extreme indebtedness.

FRA: And what about the Federal Reserve? How has it undermined the economy’s ability to grow?

Dr. Lacy Hunt: The Fed’s most serious mistake was made in the 1990s up until 2006 during which they allowed the private sector to become extremely over-indebted with the wrong type of debt. And, in essence, I think that quantitative easing, through the push for higher stock prices, created more problems than it has solved for the economy. QT caused the corporate executives to switch funds from real capital investments into financial investments through the paying of higher dividends, buying shares of their own companies, and buying back their shares from others. While this type of action does produce a higher stock market; it doesn’t generate a higher standard of living. And so, Federal Reserve policy has not improved the economy, although it certainly has well served components of the economy.

FRA: And due to that do you think that there’s been too much financial investment versus real economy investment in terms of diverting the economic financial resources away from the real economy?

Dr. Lacy Hunt: I think that’s the principal problem. Business debt last year reached a record high relative to GDP. As I said earlier, Fed policies have created a higher stock market but have not generated an improved standard of living. When the Reserve undertook quantitative easing, it was a signal to the corporate executives that the Fed preferred and would protect financial investments. But that meant financial assets were preferred over real side investments. And so QT is intermingling with the growth-depressing effects of too much debt. And the debt levels are getting ready to move substantially higher in our governmental sector. Government debt is already approaching 106 percent of GDP, a record high with the exception of a brief period during World War II. And by 2030, federal debt will be approximately 125 percent of GDP. For a long time, we’ve known about the issues that would inflate the entitlements — such as the prior-mentioned demographic problems — but there is an increasing likelihood that new federal programs with expenditure increases will further accelerate the growth in federal debt. I think there is clear evidence that increases in federal debt at these high levels relative to GDP over any measurable length of time, reduces economic activity. Thus, the multiplier is not a positive but negative figure, or otherwise exactly what economist David Ricardo hypothesized in his 1821 work. I have looked at the relationship between per capita changes in real GDP and government debt per capita and the relationship is negative, not positive. And so, we’re trying to solve an indebtedness problem by taking on more debt. You can get intermittent spurts of economic activity and inflation, but ultimately the debt is a millstone around the economy’s neck.

FRA: So would you say that we have migrated to a sort of financial economy?

Dr. Lacy Hunt: Let me give you a couple of examples. There’s so much liquidity in the financial markets, particularly the stock market, that a lot of the economic news is constructively interpreted even when it’s unconstructive. Virtually the world believes that the United States is experiencing large job gains and the idea that such productivity may be incorrect is hardly considered. But the rate of growth in payroll employment on a 12-month basis peaked at 2.4 percent in early 2015 and for the last 12 months, has sunk to 1.4 percent. What is even more critical — if you look at just the expansions and don’t include the recessions since 1968 – is that the average growth in employment in an expansion year was 1.9 percent. And in the last 12 months, we are half a percentage point under that figure. Yet, given these numbers, there is an erroneous perception that the employment gains are strong. And this view undermines the improvement in the standard of living. And because of the liquidity and the need of some investors to fully participate in the rising stock market, investors tend to overlook other important developments. If we go back to the 12 months ending November of 2015, real average hourly earnings were up about 2.5 percent. And in the latest 12 months, real average hourly earnings gained a miniscule 0.2 percent. The liquidity tends to push the focus away from the more realistic interpretation of the economy for certain types of assets.

However, the weak performance overall and the deceleration in some of the indicators that I just referred to is not unnoticed by the bond market. So, we have a dichotomy in which the stock market is strongly up but the long-term bond yields are down. Now, the short-term yields are up because they are under the control or heavy influence of the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve is in the process of raising the short-term rates and winding down their portfolio. They sold 20 billion dollars of government agency securities in October and November, pushing up the short-term rates. Erstwhile, the long-term rates — which look at some of the more important economic fundamentals — are actually declining.

Another element not in the public understanding, since the Federal Reserve no longer produces this sort of monetary analysis, is a very sharp slowdown in the money supply’s rate of growth, bank loans, and within important credit aggregates. Last year, the M2 money supply was up 7 percent. In the latest 12 months, it decelerated to less than 4.5 percent. The rate of growth in bank loans and commercial paper, which topped out on a 12- month basis about 9 percent, is now under 4 percent. So the Fed is raising the short-term rates, reducing the monetary base, and causing a tightening in the financial side of the economy. Some investors understand what is happening and yet it’s not in the general psyche because such monetary analysis is increasingly rare.

However, another more public indicator is the very dramatic flattening of the yield curve. And when the yield curve flattens in such a way, first of all, it’s a symptom that monetary restraint is beginning to bite. Now, the slowdown in money supply growth and the bank credit flattening of the yield curve will occur well before there is any noticeable impact on a broad array of economic indicators or long lags in monetary policy. But when the yield curve starts flattening, that intensifies the effect of the monetary tightening because it takes away or, at the very least, greatly reduces the profitability of the banks and all those that act like banks. Banks make a profit by borrowing short and lending long. When those spreads recede, bank profitability is hurt, particularly for the higher, riskier types of bank loans since not enough spread exists to cover the risk premium. So the banks begin to pull back, further intensifying the restraint pressing on economic growth. To the vast majority of investors, we have an economy that is apparently doing well, but in fact there are elements right beneath the surface that strongly suggest to me that the outlook for 2018 is considerably more guarded than conventional wisdom implies.

FRA: And do you see the potential for an inverted yield curve in the near future?

Dr. Lacy Hunt: I’m not sure that we will have to invert because the economy is so heavily indebted and the velocity of money is its lowest since 1949. Now, a number of people have pointed out that we typically invert before a recession and historically such inversions have been the case most of the time — but not always if you go back far enough in time — and you should since this is not a normal economy. For example, money supply growth since 1900 has averaged about 7 percent per annum, whereas, currently, the rate of growth in M2 is about 36 percent below the long-term average, indicating a very weak growth rate. And the velocity of money is lower than all of the years since 1942 — with the exception of 7 years — and the economy has never been this heavily indebted. And so the yield curve could possibly approach inversion, but it may or may not occur or stay there very long because at that stage of the game, the flattening of the yield curve will greatly intensify all the other effects — the reduction in the reserve, monetary, and credit aggregates, as well as the weakness in velocity. And when this reduction becomes apparent, the Federal Reserve will not be able to reverse gears quickly enough to ameliorate the impact produced upon future economic growth.

FRA: So do you still see a secular low in bond yields on the long into the yield curve remaining in the future sometime?

Dr. Lacy Hunt: The lows have not been seen. The path there will remain extremely volatile. We will have episodes in which the long yields rise. My attitude is that the long yields can go up over the short run for any number of causes. While many elements work out of the system in the long end, yields cannot stay up. When yields go up — especially now that the yield curve is flattening — this intensifies monetary restraint, which puts downward pressure on commodities. This puts upward pressure on the value of the dollar and cuts back on the lending operations. Something I think has been somewhat overlooked in general euphoria over the strength of economic indicators, is the that commercial and industrial loans for all of the banks in the United States are now only up one-tenth of one percent in the last 12 months. There are forward-looking elements that have historically been very important for signaling that change is ahead. They don’t tell us the timing — timing is always difficult — but they are flashing signals that should be observed.

FRA: And as this plays out, do you see monetary policy and fiscal policy is changing, like will we get fiscal policy stimulus? Will there be a change in monetary policy and how will that look like?

Dr. Lacy Hunt: Here’s my attitude: the new federal initiatives, whether tax cuts or infrastructure or otherwise will not provide a boost to the economy if they are funded with increases in debt — that’s where we’re at. And by the way, it’s been that way for some time. If you go back to 2009, we had a one-trillion-dollar stimulus package that was said to be inflationary and was going to boost economic growth, but yet we still had this very poor expansion and little inflation except for intermittent bouts here and there, largely from highly-priced inelastic goods. All the while, the inflation rate has trended lower.

For example, when President Reagan cut taxes, government debt was 31 percent of GDP and now that’s 106 percent on its way to 120-125 percent. And so if you go back and if you read Ricardo’s great article in 1821, he was asked whether it made a difference as to whether the Napoleonic wars were financed by taxes or by borrowing. Ricardo said that, theoretically, either way private sector activity was going to be suppressed. Now we have a lot of evidence, including some that I produced, that the government multiplier is negative, not positive, over a three-year period. Thus, the tax cuts may work for a very short while, but not on balance. And if the tax cuts were revenue-neutral and financed by reductions in government expenditures that would be a positive since the evidence shows tax multipliers are more favorable than expenditure multipliers. Such a theoretical proposal would provide greater efficiency for private sector spending and government spending. There’s also evidence that you would lower the cost of capital, but that’s not what we’re talking about is it? We’re talking about a debt-financed tax cut and we’re not talking about a revenue-neutral infrastructure plan, just as we were not talking about a revenue-neutral stimulus package in 2009. We’re talking about the debt-financed variety of tax cuts and at this stage of the game, this will make us more vulnerable, except for a few fleeting instances.

I will say this: when you have a debt-financed infrastructure program or tax cut, there will be pockets within the economy that will benefit, but the aggregate economic performance will not benefit and so fiscal policy, as I see it, is not really going to be helpful. The risk is that the debt buildup will add to the problems. There is extensive academic research indicating that when government debt rises above 90 percent of GDP for more than five years, this trend will reduce the economy’s growth rate by a third. Remember, we’re at 106 percent debt to GDP and there’s evidence these higher levels of debt have a non-linear effect. In other words, we use up growth at a faster pace. And there’s a lot of evidence from the available data that we’re even losing a half of our growth rate from the trend. For example, GDP has risen at 2.1 percent per capita since 1790. The latest 10 years produced a reduction to 1.0 percent. And so we should have lost only seven-tenths or come down at 1.3 over 1 but we didn’t and this is a consequence that we have to deal with. We’re not in a position to ignore the debt levels. Fiscal policy can be talked about, we can debate about it, and we can proclaim its benefits, but I don’t see them in the current environment just as I didn’t see them in 2009. I would change my tune if they were revenue-neutral, but that’s not the issue here.

To me, inflation is a money-price-wage spiral not a wage-price spiral as with the Phillips curve. The way inflations begin is by money supply growth acceleration not being offset by weakness in velocity, which shifts the aggregate demand curve inward. Remember, the aggregate demand curve is equal to money times the velocity by algebraic substitution as evidenced in all the leading textbooks on macroeconomics. So you have declines in the money supply and velocity, which will make the aggregate demand curve shift inward over time. This shift gives you a lower price level and a lower level of real GDP. It doesn’t happen every quarter or even every year, but it’s the basic trend. Thus, monetary policy is in the process not of decelerating money supply growth and by a significant amount. If the Fed adheres to their schedule of quantitative tightening, I calculate M2 will grow by the end of the first quarter – it’s currently running around four and a half percent – and the year over year growth rate will be down to less than 3 percent. And so monetary policy is taking steps to lower the reserve monetary and credit aggregates, and these actions will further flatten the curve because they can press the short rates upward. But I think the long-term investors will understand that the inflationary prospects on a fundamental basis are weakening not strengthening.

FRA: And do you see these trends as being exacerbated on the emerging government pension fund crisis? Could there be more debt used to solve that like for bailouts? Do you see that potentially happening?

Dr. Lacy Hunt: Well the main problem with government debt is that we’re going to have approximately one million folks a year reach age 70 in the next 14 to 15 years and we’ve known that this was coming, but we didn’t prepare for it. We’ve made a lot of promises under Social Security Medicare and the Affordable Care Act and government debt will have to be used to fund the entitlement benefits — I don’t see any other way around it. Another overlooked problem is that the actual federal fiscal situation is much worse than these surface numbers. For example, in the last three years, the budget deficit worsened each year. If you sum the budget deficits for 2015, 2016 and 2017, the sum is 1.2 trillion, but a lot of what was previously called “outlays” have been moved off budget — we call them investments (such as student loans) and there are other examples. The actual increase in federal debt in the last three years is 3.2 trillion. So the budget deficit is actually greatly understating what is happening to the level of federal debt which wasn’t always the case. Furthermore, the deficit was made worse by a 2015 bipartisan deal between Congress and the White House. And while neither party is blameless — they both agreed on the deal — yet it doesn’t change the fact that the federal situation is deteriorating and at a much worse rate than the deficit numbers themselves indicate.

FRA: And what about for state and local jurisdiction locales, in terms of their government pension funds? Could there be federal level bailouts at that level?

Dr. Lacy Hunt: Again, what are they going to bail them out with? You’re going to have to sell Federal Securities. And one of the multipliers on new sales of Federal debt is negative, not positive. Forget what was taught you in your macroeconomic class 30, 20, or even 15 years ago. When I was in graduate school, I was taught that the government multiplier was somewhere between four and five percent. Now, it looks like the multiplier is at best zero and even possibly slightly negative.

FRA: Great insight as always. How can our listeners learn more about your work, Dr. Hunt?

Dr. Lacy Hunt: We put out a quarterly letter as a public service. Write to us at hoisingtonmgt.com and we’ll put your name on the subscription list. We don’t spam you with marketing so please go ahead and subscribe.

FRA: Okay, great. Thank you very much for being on the Program, Dr. Hunt. Thank you.

Dr. Lacy Hunt: My pleasure Richard. Nice to be with you

Economics as Taught

Note Lacy’s comments on what he learned in graduate school. Lacy once told me that he had to “unlearn” nearly everything he was taught in school about economic.

Multiple generations of economists have been trained to believe inflation is a good thing, saving is bad, that there are no consequences for piling up debt.

Read More: https://www.themaven.net/mishtalk/economics/lacy-hunt-on-the-unintended-consequences-of-federal-reserve-policies-pkS9lRO0dUuFbK-J0ONqCQ

You’re Just Not Prepared For What’s Coming–Not even close

Ignorance is Strength - Image of school children before Big Brother eyes.

Friday, December 1, 2017

I hate to break it to you, but chances are you’re just not prepared for what’s coming. Not even close.

Don’t take it personally. I’m simply playing the odds.

After spending more than a decade warning people all over the world about the futility of pursuing infinite exponential economic growth on a finite planet, I can tell you this: very few are even aware of the nature of our predicament.

An even smaller subset is either physically or financially ready for the sort of future barreling down on us. Even fewer are mentally prepared for it.

And make no mistake: it’s the mental and emotional preparation that matters the most. If you can’t cope with adversity and uncertainty, you’re going to be toast in the coming years.

Those of us intending to persevere need to start by looking unflinchingly at the data, and then allowing time to let it sink in.  Change is coming – which isn’t a problem in and of itself. But it’s pace is likely to be. Rapid change is difficult for humans to process.

Those frightened by today’s over-inflated asset prices fear how quickly the current bubbles throughout our financial markets will deflate/implode. Who knows when they’ll pop?  What will the eventual trigger(s) be? All we know for sure is that every bubble in history inevitably found its pin.

These bubbles – blown by central bankers serially addicted to creating them (and then riding to the rescue to fix them) – are the largest in all of history. That means they’re going to be the most destructive in history when they finally let go.

Millions of households will lose trillions of dollars in net worth. Jobs will evaporate, causing the tens of millions of families living paycheck to paycheck serious harm.

These are the kind of painful consequences central bank follies result in. They’re particularly regrettable because they could have been completely avoided if only we’d taken our medicine during the last crisis back in 2008.  But we didn’t. We let the Federal Reserve –the instiution largely responsible for creating the Great Financial Crisis — conspire with its brethern central banks to ‘paper over’ our problems.

So now we are at the apex of the most incredible nest of financial bubbles in all of human history.

One of my favorite charts is below, which shows that even the smartest minds among us (Sir Isaac Newton, in this case) can succumb to the mania of a bubble:

How Newton's Fortune Fell To Earth chart

It’s enormously difficult to resist the social pressure to become involved.

But all bubbles burst — painfully of course. That’s their very nature.

Mathematically, it’s impossible for half or more of a bubble’s participants to close out their positions for a gain. But in reality, it’s even worse. Being generous, maybe 10% manage to get out in time.

That means the remaining 90% don’t. For these bagholders, the losses will range from ‘painful’ to ‘financially fatal’.

Which brings us to the conclusion that a similar proportion of people will be emotionally unprepared for the bursting of these bubbles.  Again, playing the odds, I’m talking about you.

How Exponentials Work Against You

Bubbles are destructive in the same manner as ocean waves. Their force is not linear, but exponential.

That means that a wave’s energy increases as the square of its height. A 4-foot wave has 16 times the force of a 1-foot wave; something any surfer knows from experience.  A 1-foot wave will nudge you.  A 4-foot wave will smash you, filling your bathing suit and various body orifices with sand and shells.  A 10-foot wave has 100 times more destructive power. It can kill you if it manages to pin you against something solid.

A small, localized bubble — such as one only affecting tulip investors in Holland, or a relatively small number of speculators caught up in buying swampland in Florida — will have a small impact.  Consider those 1-foot waves.

A larger bubble inflating an entire nation’s real estate market will be far more destructive. Like the US in 2007. Or like Australia and Canada today.  Those bubbles were (or will be when they burst) 4-foot waves.

The current nest of global bubbles in nearly every financial asset (stocks, bonds, real estate, fine art, collectibles, etc) is entirely without precedent. How big are these in wave terms? Are they a series of 8-foot waves? Or more like 12-footers?

At this magnitude level, it doesn’t really matter. They’re going to be very, very destructive when they break.

Our focus now needs to be figuring out how to avoid getting pinned to the coral reef below when they do.

Understanding ‘Real’ Wealth

In order to fully understand this story, we have to start right at the beginning and ask “What is wealth?”

Most would answer this by saying “money”, and then maybe add “stocks and bonds”. But those aren’t actually wealth.

All financial assets are just claims on real wealth, not actually wealth itself.  A pile of money has use and utility because you can buy stuff with it.  But real wealth is the “stuff” — food, clothes, land, oil, and so forth.  If you couldn’t buy anything with your money/stocks/bonds, their worth would revert to the value of the paper they’re printed on (if you’re lucky enough to hold an actual certificate). It’s that simple.

Which means that keeping a tight relationship between ‘real wealth’ and the claims on it should be job #1 of any central bank. But not the Fed, apparently. It’s has increased the number of claims by a mind-boggling amount over the past several years. Same with the BoJ, the ECB, and the other major central banks around the world. They’ve embarked on a very different course, one that has disrupted the long-standing relationship between the markers of wealth and real wealth itself.

They are aided and abetted by both the media and our educational institutions, which reinforce the idea that the claims on wealth are the same as real wealth itself.  It’s a handy system, of course, as long as everyone believes it. It has proved a great system for keeping the poor people poor and the rich people rich.

But trouble begins when the system gets seriously out of whack. People begin to question why their money has any value at all if the central banks can just print up as much as they want. Any time they want. And hand it out for free in unlimited quantities to the banks. Who have their own mechanism (i.e., fractional reserve banking) for creating even more money out of thin air.

Pretty slick, right?  Convince everyone that something you literally make in unlimited quantities out of thin air has value. So much so that, if you lack it, you end up living under a bridge, starving.

Let’s express this visually.

“GDP” is a measure of the amount of goods and services available and financial asset prices represent the claims (it’s not a very accurate measure of real wealth, but it’s the best one we’ve got, so we’ll use it). Look at how divergent asset prices get from GDP as bubbles develop:

Asset Prices vs GDP chart

(Source)

What we see in the above chart is that the claims on the economy should, quite intuitively, track the economy itself.  Bubbles occurred whenever the claims on the economy, the so-called financial assets (stocks, bonds and derivatives), get too far ahead of the economy itself.

This is a very important point. The claims on the economy are just that: claims.  They are not the economy itself!

Yes the Dot-Com crash hurt.  But that was the equivalent of a 1-foot wave.  Yes, the housing bubble hurt, and that was a 2-foot wave.  The current bubble is vastly larger than the prior two, and is the 4-foot wave in our analogy — if we’re lucky.  It might turn out to be a 10-footer.

The mystery to me is how people have forgotten the lessons of prior bubbles so rapidly.  How they cannot see the current bubbles even as the data is right there, and so easy to come by.  I suppose the mania of a bubble, the ‘high’ of easy returns, just makes people blind to reality.

It used to take a generation or longer to forget the painful lessons of a bubble. The victims had to age and die off before a future generation could repeat the mistakes anew.

But now, we have the same generation repeating the same mistakes three times in less than 20 years. Go figure.

In this story, wishful thinking and self-delusion have harmful consequences. It’s no different than taking up a lifelong habit of chain-smoking as a young teen.  Sure, you may be one of the few who lives a long full life in spite of the risks, but the odds are definitely not in your favor.

The inevitable destruction caused by the current froth of bubbles is going to hurt a lot of people, institutions, pensions, industries and countries.  Nobody will be spared when these burst.  The only question left to be answered is: Who’s going to eat the losses?

This is not a future question for a future time; it’s one that’s being answered daily already.  Pensioners are already taking cuts.  Puerto Rico will not be fully rebuilt.  Shale wells drilled when oil was $100/barrel, but being drained empty at $50/barrel, represent capital already hopelessly betrayed. Young graduates with $100,000 of student debt face lost decades of capital building. The losers are already emerging.

And there’s many more to follow.  This story is much closer to the beginning than the end.

The bubbles have yet to burst. We’re just seeing the water at the shore’s edge beginning to retreat, wondering how large the wave will be when it arrives. Hoping that it’s not a monster tsunami.

The End Is Nigh

History’s largest bubbles have had the exact same root cause: an expansion of credit that causes leverage to go up faster than the income available to service it.

Simply put: bubbles exist when asset price inflation rises beyond what incomes can sustain. They are everywhere and always a credit-fueled phenomenon.

S&P 500 price chart

(Source @hussmanjp )

Look at the ridiculous trajectory of the S&P 500, especially since Trump got elected. I don’t know about you, but pretty much everything that has happened in the US over the past year has been either a diplomatic clown show or a financial cruelty to the average citizen. And yet prices have risen at their highest pace in two decades?

My view is that the Trump election was a totally unexpected black swan shock for the global central banking cartel, and it freaked out.  With the Dow down -1,000 points in the late night hours following Trump’s surprise win, the central banks dumped gobs and oodles of money into the equity markets to prevent carnage.

All that money calmed investors and sent prices roaring higher over the following months. The resulting 80-degree rocket launch will hurt a lot when it comes back to earth. Good going central banks!

This is all happening when we’re as close as ever to a military (if not nuclear) confrontation with North Korea, Russia is busy beefing up its war machine, Saudi Arabia has pivoted away from the US towards China and Russia, and most of our European allies are inching away from us.

Meanwhile, the FCC is about to rule against the vast majority of the public and allow US corporations to turn the internet into a pay-for-play toll road — completely undermining the core principle of the most transformative and useful invention of the millennium. By eliminating net neutrality the FCC has ruled ‘against’ you, and ‘for’ the continued usurious profits of the cable companies.

Worse, heath care premiums continue to increase by double-digits each year. They’re going up by a horrifying 45% in Florida and 57% in Georgia, to name just two unfortunate states out of many.

And to really rub salt in the wounds of the nation, the DC swamp is busy passing a tax change that will further drive an enormous gap between the 0.1% and everybody else by lowering taxes on corporate profits (already the lowest in the world if you measure both tax on profits and value-added taxes).

How to pay for the massive cost of this deficit-exploding bill?  Easy, just eliminate deductions for average people (such as the state and local tax deductions) and begin taxing the waived tuition of graduate students. That’s right, the government helped to massively bloat tuition fees via massive lending to students and then wants to squeeze the poorest and hardest-working among them.

I wish I were kidding here. But like a cruel joke re-told at the wrong moment, the GOP is busy destroying the meager and precarious financial situation of our citizens just so it can toss a few more dollars into the already-bloated wallets of the richest people in the country.

The long rise of the ultra-wealthy is not some mystery.  It arose as a predictable consequence of the financialization of, well…everything that began in the 1980’s:

US Wealth Inequality chart

The above chart speaks to a deeply unfair system that punishes hard working people in order to give more to those who merely shuffle financial instruments around or own financial assets.

This is the system that the Fed is working so hard to preserve. This is the system that Washington DC is working so hard to sustain.

It’s flat out unfair and punitive.  It both punishes and rewards the wrong folks, respectively.  Debtors are provided relief while savers are punished.  The young are saddled with debts and face impossible costs of living mainly to preserve the illusion of wealth for a little longer for the generation in front of them.

For so many reasons, folks, none of this is sustainable. If the system doesn’t crash first under the weight of its excessive debts or the puncturing of its many asset price bubbles, the brewing class and generational wars will boil over if the status quo trajectory continues for much longer.

In Part 2: When The Bubbles Burst… we detail what to expect as the unraveling starts. When these bubbles burst, as they inevitably must, the aftermath is going to be especially ugly.

Understand the likely path the carnage is going to take and position yourself wisely ahead of the crisis — so that you and those you care about can weather the turmoil as safely as possible.

Remember: the role of bubble markets is to injure as many people as badly as possible when they burst. Don’t be one of the victims.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

Fed Stunner: Top 1% Of Americans Are 70% Wealthier Than The Bottom 90% | Zero Hedge

George-Carlin_They-Own-You

Today, the Federal Reserve released its triennial Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) which collects information about family incomes, net worth, balance sheet components, credit use, and other financial outcomes.  A superficial flip through the first few pages of the 2016 SCF as most will do, reveals “broad-based gains in income and net worth since the previous time the survey was conducted, in 2013” as the Fed puts it. Unfortunately, reading between the lines reveals that while net worth and income did increase in the past three years, it was exclusively for the “top 10%” of Americans. The “bottom 90%” got virtually nothing of this so-called recovery.

First, here is the report’s summary, taken verbatim and meant to demonstrate just what a great job at “wealth creation” the Fed is doing:

  • Between 2013 and 2016, median family income grew 10 percent, and mean family income grew 14 percent
  • Families throughout the income distribution experienced gains in average real incomes between 2013 and 2016, reversing the trend from 2010 to 2013, when real incomes fell or remained stagnant for all but the top of the income distribution.
  • Families without a high school diploma and nonwhite and Hispanic families experienced larger proportional gains in incomes than other families between 2013 and 2016, although more-educated families and white non-Hispanic families continue to have higher incomes than other families.

So far, so good. However, the next bullet is the first troubling admission that not all is well:

  • Families at the top of the income distribution saw larger gains in income between 2013 and 2016 than other families, consistent with widening income inequality.

Considering that one of the longest-running themes on this website has been the destruction of the middle class by the Fed, and the unprecedented transfer of wealth from the lower and middle-classes to wealthiest as a result of trillions in global, coordinated QE, we decided to focus on the bolded bullet. Luckily, the Fed did most of the work for us, and as the report’s authors write in a sidebar titled “Recent Trends in the Distribution of Income and Wealth”, the Fed authors admit that “The distribution of income and wealth has grown increasingly unequal in recent years. The Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) has played a crucial role in our understanding of these trends because the survey collects data on net worth in addition to income, and it pays particular attention to sampling affluent families.”

First, a look at the distribution of income by various wealth buckets, “indicates that the shares of income and wealth held by affluent families have reached historically high levels since the modern SCF began in 1989.”

In case this is unclear, this is the Fed admitting that the rich have never made more money than they do now.

As the following chart shows, the share of income received by the top 1% of families was 20.3% in 2013 and rose to 23.8% in 2016. The top 1% of families now receives nearly as large a share of total income as the next highest 9 percent of families combined (percentiles 91 through 99), who received 26.5 percent of all income. This share has remained fairly stable over the past quarter of a century. Correspondingly, the rising income share of the top 1 percent mirrors the declining income share of the bottom 90 percent of the distribution, which fell to 49.7 percent in 2016, the lowest on record.

But while income may be bad, wealth is worse. Much worse.

Read More: www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-09-27/fed-stunner-top-1-americans-are-70-wealthier-bottom-90

High Ranking CIA Agent Blows Whistle On The Deep State And Shadow Government

Cocaine Import Agency Seal

By Aaron Kesel

A CIA whistleblower, Kevin Shipp, has emerged from the wolves den to expose the deep state and the shadow government which he calls two entirely separate entities.

“The shadow government controls the deep state and manipulates our elected government behind the scenes,” Shipp warned in a recent talk at a Geoengineeringwatch.org conference.

Shipp had a series of slides explaining how the deep state and shadow government functions as well as the horrific crimes they are committing against U.S. citizens.

Some of the revelations the former CIA anti-terrorism counter intelligence officer revealed included that “Google Earth was set up through the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and InQtel.” Indeed he is correct, the CIA and NGA owned the company Google acquired, Keyhole Inc., paying an undisclosed sum for the company to turn its tech into what we now know as Google Earth. Another curious investor in Keyhole Inc. was none other than the venture capital firm In-Q-Tel run by the CIA according to a press release at the time.

Shipp also disclosed that the agency known as the Joint Special Ops Command (JSOC) is the “president’s secret army” which he can use for secret assassinations, overturning governments and things the American people don’t know about.

FBI warrantless searches violate the Fourth Amendment with national security letters, which Shipp noted enables them to walk into your employer’s office and demand all your financial records and if he or she says anything about them being there they can put your supervisor in jail or drop a case against themselves using the “State’s Secret Privilege law.”

“The top of the shadow government is the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency,” Shipp said.

Shipp expressed that the CIA was created through the Council on Foreign relations with no congressional approval, and historically the CFR is also tied into the mainstream media (MSM.) He elaborated that the CIA was the “central node” of the shadow government and controlled all of other 16 intelligence agencies despite the existence of the DNI. The agency also controls defense and intelligence contractors, can manipulate the president and political decisions, has the power to start wars, torture, initiate coups, and commit false flag attacks he said.

As Shipp stated, the CIA was created through executive order by then President Harry Truman by the signing of the National Security Act of 1947.

According to Shipp, the deep state is comprised of the military industrial complex, intelligence contractors, defense contractors, MIC lobbyist, Wall St (offshore accounts), Federal Reserve, IMF/World Bank, Treasury, Foreign lobbyists, and Central Banks.

In the shocking, explosive presentation, Shipp went on to express that there are “over 10,000 secret sites in the U.S.” that formed after 9/11. There are “1,291 secret government agencies, 1,931 large private corporations and over 4,800,000 Americans that he knows of who have a secrecy clearance, and 854,000 who have Top Secret clearance, explaining they signed their lives away bound by an agreement.

He also detailed how Congress is owned by the Military Industrial Complex through the Congressional Armed Services Committee (48 senior members of Congress) giving those members money in return for a vote on the spending bill for the military and intelligence budget.

He even touched on what he called the “secret intelligence industrial complex,” which he called the center of the shadow government including the CIA, NSA, NRO, and NGA.

Shipp further stated that around the “secret intelligence industrial complex” you have the big five conglomerate of intelligence contractors – Leidos Holdings, CSRA, CACI, SAIC, and Booz Allen Hamilton. He noted that the work they do is “top secret and unreported.”

The whistleblower remarked that these intelligence contractors are accountable to no one including Congress, echoing the words of Senator Daniel Inouye when he himself blew the whistle on the shadow government during the Iran-Contra hearings in 1987.

At the time Inouye expressed that the “shadow government had its own funding mechanism, shadowy Navy, and Air Force freedom to pursue its own goals free from all checks and balances and free from the law itself.”

High Ranking CIA Agent Blows Whistle On The Deep State And Shadow Government

Read More: www.activistpost.com/2017/09/high-ranking-cia-whistleblower-deep-state-shadow-government.html

The Federal Reserve Is Destroying America | Peak Prosperity

Federal Reserve Logo

Perhaps I should start with a disclaimer of sorts. Yes, I realize that the people working at the Federal Reserve, as well as the other central banks around the world, are just people.  Like the rest of us, they have egos, fears, worries, hopes, and dreams. I’m sure pretty much all of them go home each night believing they are basically good and caring individuals, doing important work.

But they’re destroying America.  They might have good intentions, but they are working with bad models. Ones that lead to truly horrible outcomes.

One of the chief failings of central banks is that they are slaves to an impossible idea; the notion that humans are free to pursue perpetual exponential economic growth on a finite planet.  To be more specific: central banks are actually in the business of promoting perpetual exponential growth of debt.

But since growth in credit drives growth in consumption, the two are concepts are so intimately linked as to be indistinguishable from each other.  They both rest upon an impossibility.  Central banks are in the business of sustaining the unsustainable which is, of course, an impossible job.

I can only guess at the amount of emotional energy required to maintain the integrity of the edifice of self-delusion necessary to go home from a central banking job feeling OK about oneself and one’s role in the world.  It must be immense.

I rather imagine it’s not unlike the key positions of leadership at Easter Island around the time the last trees were being felled and the last stone heads were being erected.  “This is what we do,” they probably said to each other and their followers.  “This is what we’ve always done.  Pay no attention to those few crackpot haters who warn that in pursuing our way of life we’re instead destroying it.”

The most compassion I can drum up for central bankers right now is to observe that they really do have an impossible job; and their training has been simply too narrow and dogmatic for them to detect the gaping, obvious flaws in their world views.  They never studied energy resource issues. Nor did they have to take any behavioral psychology classes that would have explained to them how deeply unfair economic practices are socially corrosive. Nor any history classes that would expose how such actions proved ruinous when they were applied in previous societies.

But here we are. The fact that the central bankers are either accidentally ignorant or purposely too lazy to explore the wider world of ideas is not one you can ignore any longer.  Real consequences are coming and there’s no ducking them.  We’re all in this big canoe of life together and the Fed and our political officials are exhorting us to paddle faster towards the roaring falls ahead.

You need to understand this. If you want to have any chance of navigating the future successfully, you have to understand what they are doing, how they are doing it, and why it will fail.  If you don’t take the time to sort out the mechanisms and implications…well, good luck.  You’re going to need it.

For those who prefer to rest their future prospects on Knowing instead of (misplaced) Hoping, read on.

Read More: www.peakprosperity.com/blog/109009/federal-reserve-destroying-america

Bill Hicks: USA arms smaller countries and Kennedy assassination

No wonder they killed this guy.

 

Charles Hugh Smith: Why Our System Is Broken: Cheap Credit Is King

The Fed has inflated our money to the point of no return just to give unlimited buying power to a select few individuals and banking corporations. When the monetary system crashes because of their manipulation, they’ll still own all the assets they bought.

Home Prices 2016 chart
Please don’t pop my echo bubble.
You want to fix the economic system, reduce political bribery and reduce rising income inequality? Shut off the cheap unlimited credit spigot to banks, financiers and corporations.
Cheap credit–newly issued money that can be borrowed at low rates of interest–is presented as the savior of our economic system, but in reality, it’s why our system is broken. The conventional economic pitch goes like this: cheap credit enables consumers to buy more goods and services (and since the system needs growth or it implodes, that’s good).
Cheap credit also enables companies to invest in new productive assets (capital).
Last but not least, low rates of interest enables the government at all levels to borrow money at relatively low cost.
That all sounds good in theory, but let’s see how cheap credit works in the real world.
The first thing we observe is those closest to the central bank credit spigot get the lowest rates and nearly unlimited lines of credit. J.Q. Citizen may be thrilled to get a 4% annual-rate mortgage, but the mega-millionaire closer to the credit spigot can borrow 10 times as much as J.Q. can, and at half the rate of interest.
Mega-corporations and financiers can borrow billions at rates as low as 1%, which given an official inflation rate of 2%, is actually a negative rate of real interest.
Money-center banks own the credit spigot, so they can create money out of thin air at .5%.
In other words, cash isn’t king in this perverse system: cheap credit is king. Those with access to cheap unlimited credit can scoop up all the productive assets, greatly increasing their wealth–and they can buy the political class, too, with campaign contributions and donations to false-front foundations.

Read More: charleshughsmith.blogspot.com/2017/01/why-our-system-is-broken-cheap-credit.html

COMMON SENSE – 2017

COMMON SENSE – 2017 – The Burning Platform

“Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain.” John Adams

Thomas Paine was born in 1737 in Britain. His first thirty seven years of life were pretty much a series of failures and disappointments. Business fiascos, firings, the death of his first wife and child, a failed second marriage, and bankruptcy plagued his early life. He then met Benjamin Franklin in 1774 and was convinced to emigrate to America, arriving in Philadelphia in November 1774. He thus became the Father of the American Revolution with the publication of Common Sense, pamphlets which crystallized opinion for colonial independence in 1776.

The first pamphlet was published in Philadelphia on January 10, 1776, and signed anonymously “by an Englishman.” It became an instantaneous sensation, swiftly disseminating 100,000 copies in three months among the two and a half million residents of the 13 colonies. Over 500,000 copies were sold during the course of the American Revolution. Paine published Common Sense after the battle of Lexington and Concord, making the argument the colonists should seek complete independence from Great Britain, rather than merely fighting against unfair levels of taxation. The pamphlets stirred the masses with a fighting spirit, instilling in them the backbone to resist a powerful empire.

It was read aloud in taverns, churches and town squares, promoting the notion of republicanism, bolstering fervor for complete separation from Britain, and boosting recruitment for the fledgling Continental Army. He rallied public opinion in favor of revolution among layman, farmers, businessmen and lawmakers. It compelled the colonists to make an immediate choice. It made the case against monarchy, aristocracy, tyranny and unfair taxation, offering Americans a solution – liberty and freedom. It was an important precursor to the Declaration of Independence, which was written six months later by Paine’s fellow revolutionaries.

Paine’s contribution to American independence 241 years ago during the first American Fourth Turning cannot be overstated. His clarion call for colonial unity against a tyrannical British monarch played a providential role in convincing farmers, shopkeepers, and tradesmen reconciliation with a hereditary monarchy was impossible, and armed separation was the only common sense option. He made the case breaking away from Britain was inevitable, and the time was now. Armed conflict had already occurred, but support for a full-fledged revolution had not yet coalesced within the thirteen colonies. Paine’s rhetorical style within the pamphlets aroused enough resentment against the British monarchy to rally men to arms, so their children wouldn’t have to fight their battles.

“I prefer peace, but if trouble must come, let it be in my time that my children may know peace.”Thomas Paine

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