Category Archives: Inflation

The Fed Tapeworm Is ‘Tapering,’ Or So We’re Told

Debt, Economy, Federal Reserve Bank, Inflation

As if Quantitative Easing were not deceptive enough a term, now we have “tapering.”

The money mafia had been “easing” to the tune of $85 billion in monthly bond purchases. If they’ve admitted to this much, you can be sure it’s much more.

Now Federal Reserve watchers are suggesting that the Fed’s “$85 billion a month bond buying program” may be winding down to … “$75 billion a month.”

The consequence of Ben Bernanke’s non-stop monetary stimulus, of course, is a rise in prices, stocks included. Homes too. It should be obvious too that an increase in the price of an item is not the same as an appreciation in it value.


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Easy Money, Soaring Stocks & A Stagnant Economy

Business, Debt, Federal Reserve Bank, Inflation, Middle East

Some in mainstream media are making good progress in connecting Ben Bernanke’s non-stop monetary stimulus to a rise in all prices, stock-market prices included.

The Fed’s monthly confetti of funny-money stands at “$85 billion total every month.” The Fed’s balance sheet reflects “more than $3 trillion.”

The Fed, explains Elizabeth MacDonald (Fox Business News), purchases mortgage-backed and Treasury securities from Fed dealers.”

You can see how hooked the market is to the central bank’s money printing — the correlation in fact is rather astonishing. It shows the government and the central bank’s power to create money, manipulate market prices, and transfer wealth. The market is powered ahead by a growing strength in corporate profits, too.

Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, is more than hip to the “monetary Ritalin” scam:

…And, for some, there is a deeply imbedded worry that the Fed’s contortion of the yield curve and cost of money cannot last forever, or, if it lasts too long, will eventually result in financial bubbles and/or uncontrollable inflation, adding another uncertainty to the plethora of uncertain factors that already plague them. “Credit is super-abundant and stock market behavior is conditioned not so much by the fundamental performance of its underlying companies but by increasing doses of monetary Ritalin.

Then again, if you listen to the likes of Shepard Smith (also on Fox News) or Brooke Baldwin (CNN) expatiate on the topic of a stagnant economy against the backdrop of soaring stocks—you’ll hear their extra curricula exhortation for The Ben Bernanke to keep those interest rates low. Lovely!


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Some Economic Fundamentals

Barack Obama, Business, Debt, Economy, Inflation

Against the backdrop of the White House’s budget, a “$3.778 trillion spending plan for the year that begins in October, which called for about $1 trillion in tax increases over 10 years and higher spending on programs such as education, transportation and mental-health services” (WSJ), consider the following:

* “The top 1 percent of Americans in income pays 37 percent of all income taxes. The top half of wage earners pays 98 percent of all income taxes” (Pat Buchanan).

* “9 million Americans ages 20 to 64 years old – nearly 5 percent of the working-age population – is receiving disability pay (Pat Buchanan). 81,000 Americans went on disability just last month. The government is spending $260 billion a year on disability programs, more than it spends on food stamps and welfare combined (Lou Dobbs).

* 47.8 million Americans receive food stamps, “at a cost of $80 billion” (Pat Buchanan). The percentage of Americans on food stamps has risen by 70 percent since 2008.

* 90 million Americans have dropped out of the labor force (Here).

* 50 million Americans are living below the poverty line (Lou Dobbs).

* And who can forget the national debt? It’s $16.8 trillion.


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Happy Days Are Here Again In … La-La Land

Britain, Debt, Economy, Government, Inflation

Across the pond, U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne is singing from the Bush and Obama hymn sheet. A neo- Keynesian naturally, Osborne is intent on excessive spending as a model of economic growth. What better way than a housing bubble to bring about that brief burst of spending before the bust?

Tightening credit conditions and foreclosures signal to this man (counter-intuitively, of course) that it is time for the debt-laden borrower to borrow more money he can’t repay; that it is time for those who do not spend money they don’t have, to subsidize those who do.

It’s all good, promises Bloomberg.com:

Osborne yesterday pledged 3.5 billion pounds ($5.3 billion) to help buyers of new homes with loans of as much as 20 percent of the property’s value, broadening an existing program beyond first-time purchasers. He also announced a plan to guarantee as much as 130 billion pounds of new mortgages to fuel demand from purchasers with limited cash for a deposit.

At least the chancellor delivered a 2013 budget. At a glance, here are “the key points of Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget,” via BBC News (a doff of the hat to our friend in the UK):

FUEL, ALCOHOL AND CIGARETTES
September’s 3p fuel duty rise scrapped
April’s 3p rise in beer duty scrapped. Instead, beer duty to be cut by 1p
Annual inflation +2% rise in beer duty to be ended but “duty escalator” to remain in place for wine, cider and spirits
Cigarette duties unchanged – continuing to rise by inflation +5%

INCOME TAX
Limit at which people start paying tax to be raised to £10,000 in 2014 – a year earlier than planned

HOUSING
Shared equity schemes extended, with interest-free loans for homebuyers up to 20% of value of new-build properties
Bank guarantees to underpin £130bn of new mortgage lending for three years from 2014

STATE OF THE ECONOMY
Growth forecast for 2013 halved to 0.6% from 1.2% in December
Office for Budget Responsibility watchdog predicts UK will escape recession this year
Growth predicted to be 1.8% in 2014; 2.3% in 2015; 2.7% in 2016 and 2.8% in 2017.

BORROWING
Borrowing of £114bn this year, up from previous £108bn forecast
Borrowing set to fall to £108bn, £97bn and £87bn, £61bn and £42bn in subsequent years
Borrowing as share of GDP to fall from 7.4% in 2013-14 to 5% in 2015-16
Debt as a share of GDP to increase from 75.9% in 2012-13 to 85.6% in 2016-17

SPENDING AND PAY
Most government departments to see budgets cut by 1% in each of next two years
Schools and NHS will be protected
£11.5bn in further cuts earmarked in 2015-16 Spending Review, up from £10bn
1% cap on public sector pay extended to 2015-16 and limits on “progression” pay rises in the sector
Military to be exempt from “progression” pay limits.
Proceeds of Libor banking fines to be given to good military causes, including Combat Stress charity

JOBS
600,000 more jobs expected this year than at same time last year
Claimant count to fall by 60,000

TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURE
An extra £15bn for new road, rail and construction projects by 2020, starting with £3bn in 2015-16

HELP FOR BUSINESS
Corporation tax to be cut by 1% to 20% in 2015
New employment allowance to cut National Insurance bills cut by £2,000 for every firm
450,000 small firms will pay no employer National Insurance
Government procurement from small firms to rise fivefold
Tax relief for investment in social enterprises
Stamp duty axed on shares traded on growth markets like Aim.
Tax avoidance and evasion measures, including agreements with Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey, aimed at recouping £3bn in unpaid taxes

ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Tax incentives for ultra low-emission cars
Pottery industry in Midlands to be exempt from climate change levy
Tax allowances for investment in shale gas

INFLATION
2% Bank of England inflation target to stay in place
Bank remit to be changed to focus on growth as well as inflation

PENSIONERS
Single flat-rate pension of £144 a week brought forward a year to 2016
Cap on social care costs confirmed

FAMILIES
20% tax relief on childcare up to £6,000 per child from 2015
£5,000 payments for those who lost money on Equitable Life policies bought before 1992. Extra money for those on low incomes


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US Already Inflicts ‘Deposit Taxes In Disguise’

Business, Debt, Democracy, Economy, Federal Reserve Bank, Inflation

“Savers Pay for Spenders,” our March 19 BAB post on Cyprus, asked:

WHY is state-sanctioned theft from Cypriot savers any different to your paycheck being docked for statutory payroll tax deductions?
WHY is state-sanctioned theft from Cypriot savers any different in principle to the statutory theft called the income tax; and, in particular, from the progressive income tax, where the rich (“savers”) are penalized for the sins of the rest?
As to taxes on assets: Property taxes, taxes on investments—why are these seizures of private property any different in principle to the lunge on Cypriot savings accounts the bankers and bureaucrats of Europe have made?
You’d think the US doesn’t tax assets. It does. And how are the taxes above different in principle from a bank deposit levy?

Today comes the news, (via Forbes), that Cyprus and its puppet masters have agreed that, “the Popular Bank of Cyprus (Laiki Bank) will wind down” [presumably this is journo babble for "close"].

Laiki Bank deposits above 100,000 euros—which aren’t protected by EU law—will be frozen and used to pay for the deal. The frozen accounts are expected to yield 4.2 billion euros ($5.5 billion), and account holders will see an estimated 30% to 40% haircut on assets. Far greater than the original 9.9% levy.

“Haircut” is yet more journo mumbo-jumbo. The correct word is “theft.” Large-scale robbery of private property.

Financier Peter Schiff completes the thought expressed in this post’s lede, above—and shared by every clear thinking libertarian. This is all a formality—a more in-your-face lunge for private property :

…isn’t inflation, which allows governments to pay off debt through the creation of new money that transfers purchasing power from savers to borrowers, just a deposit tax in disguise? (Read more about Japan’s plan to do just that). British citizens of all means have been living with such a three percent stealth tax for the past three years, and it is expected to stay that high for at least two more years. Yet a one-time tax of 6.75% in Cyprus is seen as the ultimate act of betrayal?
Many are lamenting that Cyprus’ membership in the EU prevents it from devaluing its own currency to get out of the jam. How would such a course be morally superior? Taking actual losses on deposits is no different than taking losses through devaluation and inflation. Both result in the loss of purchasing power. Asking for a depositor haircut at least deals with the problem honestly and immediately. Although it’s not quite as honest, devaluation can also be effective.


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A Confetti Of Funny-Money & Confidence In Confidence Men

Business, Debt, Economy, Federal Reserve Bank, Inflation

Big media (BM) is making a big noise about the stock-market rally, which the same BM attribute to King Tut’s animal spirits. Reports Bloomberg.com: “U.S. stocks rallied, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average above 14,000 for the first time in five years, as data on the labor market and manufacturing boosted confidence in the world’s biggest economy.”

The “market’s” confidence in confidence men, notwithstanding, how are these “Big Gains” possible in “a debt-fueled economy”?

Easily: The consequence of Ben Bernanke’s non-stop monetary stimulus is a rise in prices, stocks included. Homes too. But an increase in the price of an item is not the same as an appreciation in it value.

“Markets are now driven by stimulus, not fundamentals,” notes investor Peter Schiff, who also expects “deficits to approach $2 trillion annually before Obama leaves office.” (His is a reasonable assumption based in evidence.)

“Monetary and fiscal stimulus [are] pushing up stock and bond prices.”

…it is important to look at the nature of the rally. Most significantly we would bring investors’ attention to the increase in gold and oil and other assets that are expected to outperform in an inflationary economy.


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