Just got back from our trip to the ranch.
As near as we can tell, the financial world conveniently remained on hold while we were gone. As of Sunday night, little had changed. Gold, stocks…economists…politicians – they’re all about where we left them. That is to say, the bear market rally on Wall Street continued. The feds continued to pervert the economy with their bailouts. Economists continued to call a spade a petunia. And politicians and commentators continued to blab and bluster about nothing.
But yesterday, the rally on Wall Street got smacked in the chops. The Dow fell 289 points. Oil dropped to $45. Investors were selling stocks – mostly financials – and turning to the dollar and gold for safety. The dollar rose to $1.29 per euro. Gold returned to $887.
The most important fact still sits like an alien spaceship on the White House lawn – so monstrous and dumbfounding that people don’t know what to make of it…so they simply ignore it. The U.S. government is spending $13 trillion – nearly an entire year’s output – to ‘fix’ the problems caused by the worldwide financial meltdown. Of course, they can’t actually fix anything. Companies that are losing money are still going to be losing money. Investors are still going to take losses on stocks and bonds that were overpriced. Bad debts are still bad. Bad investments are still bad. A kiss is still a kiss. A smile is still a smile. Time goes by just like it always did.
But this $13 trillion of extra spending is bound to have some big effect. What?
A Financial Times article, written by one of Obama’s advisors, makes a guess:
“The unprecedented explosion of the US fiscal deficit raises the spectre of high future inflation. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the president’s budget implies a fiscal deficit of 13 per cent of gross domestic product in 2009 and nearly 10 per cent in 2010. Even with a strong economic recovery, the ratio of government debt to GDP would double to 80 per cent in the next 10 years.
“…the potential inflationary danger is that the large US fiscal deficit will lead to an increase in the supply of money. This inevitably happens in developing countries that do not have the ability to issue interest-bearing debt and must therefore finance their deficits by printing money. In contrast, when deficits do not lead to an increased supply of money, the evidence shows that they do not cause sustained price increases.
“But now the large US fiscal deficits are being accompanied by rapid increases in the money supply and by even more ominous increases in commercial bank reserves that could later be converted into faster money growth. The broad money supply (M2) is already increasing at an annual rate of nearly 15 per cent. The excess reserves of the banking system have ballooned from less than $3bn a year ago to more than $700bn (€536bn, £474bn) now.
“The deep recession means that there is no immediate risk of inflation. The aggregate demand for labour and goods and services is much less than the potential supply. But when the economy begins to recover, the Fed will have to reduce the excessive stock of money and, more critically, prevent the large volume of excess reserves in the banks from causing an inflationary explosion of money and credit.”
If that was a bit hard to follow, here is our friend, Ron Paul, with a more succinct explanation:
“When I talk to many teenagers, [and] grade schoolers, they seem to have no problem comprehending the fact that if you just create a lot of money, it’ll be like monopoly money and it won’t have value,” he told the I.O.U.S.A. crew when they sat down with him for an interview for the film.
“Governments do that for all kinds of reasons, especially to enhance political power to fight wars we shouldn’t be fighting or to be passing welfare programs that aren’t deserved. When you print that money, the value of that dollar has to go down and then one of the consequences of inflating the money will be higher prices. But there are a lot of other problems with inflating, it causes financial bubbles and it causes a lot of economic distortions and unemployment – but inflation is very simple. When governments create new money out of thin air, you have inflation.”
Inflation? When? How much?
No one can say.
Maybe not for a long time. But when it comes…it will take our breath away. That’s why we urge you to protect yourself and your money while you can. Especially now, with just shy of $11 trillion in debt already piled up… another $8.5 trillion already committed to the bailouts… and $3.6 trillion more in new spending on the table.
for Markets and Money