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"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up."

Arthur Koestler 

Thursday
Jul242014

Word Crimes

Weird Al is back! 

Tuesday
Jul222014

A Notable Rant

I am not sure that this got him fired, but it is noteworthy rant. 

Monday
Jul212014

Dollar Headed Up? 

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has an interesting article in the Telegraph:

The US Federal Reserve has begun to pivot. Monetary tightening is coming sooner than the world expected, with sober implications for overheated bourses, and for those in Asia, eastern Europe and Latin America that drank deepest from the draught of dollar liquidity.

We can expect a blistering dollar rally, perhaps akin to the early 1980s or the mid-1990s. It is fortuitous that the BRICS quintet of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have just launched their $100bn monetary fund to defend each other's currencies. Some of them may need it.

America's unemployment rate has fallen from 7.5pc to 6.1pc in 12 months. The country has been adding 230,000 jobs a month in the first half of this year.

As I have pointed out before, as long as the dollar continues to be used as the world's reserve currency any kind of economic "collapse" seems unlikely. Yes, I know that many of us "hard money types" are predicting a collapse. They are wrong. The power of the state is huge, and all its power will be used. But this does not mean that the US is exempt from the normal business cycle. The effect of a normal cycle will be more pronounced this time, but no catastrophe. 

The stock market is an example of what I mean. The value of a company is ultimately determined by the profits it makes. That stream of income a company makes is then evaluated based on current interest rates. The lower the interest rates, the higher the evaluation of that income stream is. So since corporate profits are relatively high, and since interest rates are the lowest they have ever been in recorded history, the value of stocks will decline as interest rates rise (and they will rise, that is the whole point of Evans-Pritchard's article.) (Btw, the dollar going up means that inflation will go down.) 

As the Federal Reserve tightens, interest rates will rise, stocks and real estate will go down, and the dollar will strengthen. While I too could be underestimating the power of the state, I predict a quite rocky next few years with another serious crisis in 2017. 

Wednesday
Jul162014

How Interest Rates Work

While it is no doubt presumptuous to advise Nobel Prize winners, It seems to me that in an additional response to Paul Krugman's blog post, a little basic economics is called for. 

The level of interest rates sends basic signals to investors, and if they are kept artificially low the signals are false ones. That rate affects all prices and all investment decisions. If an investor is considering an investment, the Return On Investment, ROI, is a crucial part of the investment process. Let's say that the interest rate is 5%. If the investor estimates that an investment will generate a return of 4%, the investment will not be made. Even at a return for the investment at 6%, this might not be enough margin for an investor to decide to invest. 

Here Are Some Effects of Lower Interest RatesWhy then is a lower rate of interest bad? Doesn't that mean that more investments are made? Yes, lower value investments are made for the "big boys." They are the ones that can borrow money at 2 to 3%.  But there is a huge risk because of the mismatch that exists in modern investment between the maturity of a loan and the maturity of an investment. When an investment loan rolls over and needs to be renewed, the borrower will pay what ever the current interest rate is. But the investment is not necessarily something that can be sold quickly. So a borrower may suddenly be paying 6% for an investment that only pays 4%. Unless the investor has other income that can be used for the bank payment, foreclosure is in the future.  

The result will be hugely deflationary. 

Will interest rates rise? Interest rates are not just low for recent times, they are not just low in living memory, they are the lowest they have even been in the history of the world. 

A rise in interest rates is inevitable. 

So if this rise in interest rates is deflationary, why am I predicting 50% inflation spread over 5 to 7 years? The reason is that the Federal Reserve will not allow the market to work and will re-inflate as the negative consequences of higher interest rates happen. In other words the Federal Reserve will over compensate. Then after the inflation occurs, the Federal Reserve will deflate again to prevent hyperinflation. 

We will have a very rocky time for the rest of the decade and a good part of the next decade.  

Get Ready. 

Tuesday
Jul152014

Ceased To Exist

Yesterday I mentioned that I found Casey's comment that America has ceased to exist as false, for it never "existed" in the first place. Obviously America exists. But what Casey means is that the American Dream has ceased to exist. My point was that it never did exist. Sure some can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, but throughout most of the US's history, well...their boot straps were broken. 

Rather than "reinvent the wheel," I thought I would point you to the blog of my friend and the beloved editor of the Prophecy Podcast. Pam Dewey has been blogging about the Myths of American History. Here's a link to the introduction to one of her blog series related to evaluating the American Dream, Painting a Rosy Past.  Many other mythperceptions about American History, on a wide variety of topics, are linked from her Introductory page to her Meet MythAmerica blog. 

This does not mean that you as an individual can't improve yourselves. Nor does it mean that you cannot prepare for the coming crisis. You can and should do both.