The illusion of prosperity under central banking

Robert Murphy, Hans Hermann Hoppe, Ron and Rand Paul, Peter Schiff, Harry Dent, Michael Burry, David Stockman, Jim Rickards, etc.: these are just some of the influential Austrian economics-educated figures who have vehemently protested the past decade-plus of economic policies in America.  Their voices have been drowned out by the droves rooting for Obama and fixated on the “change” and “hope” platitudes that have been tossed around in his many speeches.  Little do they know that the central banking policies propped up under the Obama presidency have created nothing more than a band aid on a growing tumor.

What’s happening with employment and debt? If you’ve been inquisitive enough to question national unemployment numbers I’m proud enough of your performance to give you one gold star sticker, which is worth about as much as the money printed by the Federal Reserve…  Real unemployment is measured by the U-6 and probably shows an even bigger picture through the “labor force participation rate.”  While official unemployment statistics are shown to be around 4.9%, the U-6 is around 9.9% and the labor force participation rate even worse, showing only 63% of working age adults somehow involved in work.  That means 37% are no longer even pursuing work.  This figure has decreased steadily since 2007 from 67%, while the unemployment figures that are reported by the Fed and the Obama Administration have shown the complete opposite…  The ruse is up.  Our lower and middle classes are saddled in debt while lacking any gainful employment

What’s happening with the Fed and Banks? The Federal Reserve’s primary goal since 2008 has been to create a spending-rich environment through low interest rates which would then be balanced out by an eventual rise in interest rates (higher interest on bank accounts means more consumer savings).  So what actually happened?  The Fed launched two measures that were supposed to boost spending: 1) lowering interest rates by lowering the rate at which banks could lend each other money (usually overnight) and 2) quantitative easing: the mass purchase of treasuries and other securities by the Federal Reserve with a stream of yearly cash flows by means of creating money out of thin air.  It sounds ridiculous because it is ridiculous.  By purchasing massive amounts of bonds through QE and lowering interest rates, would-be bond buyers had few options are were forced to accept miserable yields.  Consequentially, wealthy investors looked to park their investments in higher yielding speculations such as stocks.  The years from 2009 to 2014 marked one of the most odd, consistent increases in stock prices in history.  If it looks too good to be true it’s because it is.  Price-to-earnings ratios are through the roof in some industries where investors have over-speculated.

Where it’s headed from here:  The lower classes have remained financially weak since the crisis because little value has been created in terms of actual production and manufacturing jobs.  The following analysis is my own assessment, and I would appreciate criticism of these assumptions: The stimulus package worked the way any Austrian economist would have told you it worked: it created finite value by means of taking other peoples money.  A road construction job only lasts so long.  Krugman argued the stimulus should have been larger, which makes sense, but I am confident the vast majority of these government stimulus programs create very little value.  Wind energy?  Cash for clunkers?  Road construction?  I mean how many of these jobs can you reasonably expect to sustain the lower classes of the U.S. economy?  Krugman thinks these stimulus jobs initiate a healthy pattern of spending but it obviously fell short: banks aren’t making loans to consumers anymore because their stimulus jobs and part-time work as Starbucks cashiers aren’t creating any spending opportunities. Because consumers aren’t spending the stock market has stalled.  Quantitative easing has stopped, which means speculation on the stock market has to stop.  Loans to consumers have stopped because they don’t actually have any money.  The entire system has just… stalled.  People aren’t spending money anymore and this has terrible consequences.  Paul Krugman seems to believe infrastructure spending is a panacea, whereas real, intrinsic value is created through a healthy manufacturing sector, or at the very least, companies that keep their operations on American soil.

A lack of supply-side economics: Peter Schiff characterized it so well when he said Americans are getting China to buy our treasuries so that we can go and spend money on goods made in China.  The overall hollowing out of the manufacturing economy in America has made us a nation of spenders who don’t actually produce anything.  We have intellectual capital and lots of land, but where is our manufacturing economy?  Where are the great steel factories that line the Great Lakes?  Over the years, manufacturing has been steadily outsourced due to excessive regulations, union presence, and ridiculous rates of taxation.  This talking point has been misconstrued for years with Democrats claiming we simply can’t compete with third-world labor rates.  The truth of the matter is that once you take into account significant decrease in quality, setting up shop, and extra transport costs, the benefit of manufacturing overseas is not that much greater than the cost.  Just lowering corporate tax rates alone would prevent so many corporate inversions that have happened in recent years.  Is it any coincidence that the strongest manufacturing centers in America are in Tennessee, Mississippi and Georgia where unions are the weakest and tax rates are some of the lowest?

So what’s the international consequence of our excessive spending and lack of productive capability?  China will look towards slowing US treasury purchases while anchoring their currency around a gold standard.  They clearly realize this is in their own best interests because it provides an intrinsic value to their currency that won’t inflate.

The smartest idiot in the room?: The American economy is partially held together by the fact that we are one of the least screwed-up countries in the world.  Where else will investors put their money?  Russia?  Argentina?  France?   It’s true that we are one of the smartest idiots in the room, but that can’t change the fact that we have serious internal structural issues.  Our lower and middle classes are hollowed out, plain and simple.  At some point the Federal Reserve will come clean and reveal their hand.  It’s going to show poor job growth and low economic output.  We have to revamp the entire system if this is to work properly.  Food for thought: the last president to pay off America’s debt in it’s entirely was Andrew Jackson, the guy who was removed from the 20 dollar bill last week.  Is this symbolic or what?

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8 years later, nobody understands what went wrong…

I recently watched The Big Short, which was a phenomenal movie that explained the toxic result of decades-worth of bad policies designed to increase economic growth while skirting personal responsibility.  Can we at least agree on this?  This is endemic to economics in general, as people are always looking for ways to easily hop into the engineered “middle class” that Democrats like to drone about so often.  But what amazes me is the sheer volume of so-called “professional” opinions on the internet that STILL cannot comprehend what caused this financial meltdown.  Isn’t it funny how the voices that were being silenced prior to the recession are the same ones being silenced after the recession as our Keynesian government attempts to bludgeon the economy once again?  Think about that for a minute…  In fact, a number of journalists scoffed at Michael Burry for voicing his views on the post-2008 economy!

After the financial meltdown, economists from CATO Institute and AEI came out with comprehensive research regarding the overwhelming role of government policy, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac in creating this disaster.  70% of the mortgages that defaulted in the crisis were backed by one of these two institutions, while banks were blackmailed, through government policies, to take on these high-risk loans.

Left-wing logic and outrage ensues: “well… the percentage of homeowners classified as ‘poor’ stayed stable at 6% through the lead up to the financial crisis.”  Since when does that mean anything?  The idea is that prospective home buyers regardless of their socio-economic status were taking on mortgages they couldn’t pay off.  If someone made the 2007 standard per capita GDP in America of $48,000 per year but took on a mortgage for a the average house priced at approximately $325,000 in early 2007, they’re still classified as “middle class” even though they’re going to default on their mortgage with almost absolute certainty…

I gathered a snippet from a nerdwallet calculator using 2007 GDP per capita figures.  According to this calculator, a homeowner who can put forth a $10,000 down payment on $48,000 year can afford a home worth $183,000 in Cleveland, Ohio (a city with a mid-priced housing market).

Average Mortgage 2007.PNG

The safe and easy alternative is to NEVER buy a home unless you have so much money lying around that you can safely afford to do anything you want.

The more I learn, the more cynical I become about the general state of society where NOBODY learns to take responsibility for his/her actions.  As Julius Evola stated, the only solution for the critical, rational, and analytical thinker is to “Ride the Tiger” of insanity, pursuing paths independently against the chaotic tides of society.  I guess improvement comes at a very slow pace.  Just be grateful for the privileges we all have in society today. However bleak future events may seem, somehow our incredibly dysfunctional society manages to progress forward.  At the same time, those who refuse to be complacent and constantly seek the truth must speak up and let their voices be heard.