Monthly Archives: October 2019

[KR1455] Keiser Report: So Sleepy

In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max and Stacy discuss a BBC journalist who visited rural Ohio to see what voters thought about the situation in Syria. Almost all of them said that they were too busy working multiple jobs and ‘too sleepy to concentrate.’ This reminds Stacy of the story of Warren Buffett calling then Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson in the middle of the night, during the 2008 financial crisis, to convince him to inject $250 billion directly into the banks. Paulson recalled that he was so sleepy he thought ‘Warren’ was his mother’s gardener. He got the bailout. In the second half, Max talks to Dmitry Orlov of Club Orlov about his views on anti-Russia hysteria and whether or not China will surpass the US as an economic power. Orlov believes China’s economic policy is what he calls ‘Stalinism 2.0.’

Has California Lost The Mandate of Heaven?

In Chinese history, natural disasters were viewed as portents that the The Mandate of Heaven (tianming or “Heaven’s will”) had been withdrawn from the ruling dynasty. Broadening this concept a bit to regional dominance and power, we might ask: has California lost the Mandate of Heaven?

How many conflagrations does it take for it to sink in that the Golden State has lost its lustre in some profoundly karmic fashion?

How many messes of human excrement on our doorstep does it take to realize the situation will never get better, it can only get worse–much worse?

How many power blackouts, traffic gridlocks and mandatory evacuations does it take for those in denial to accept that the Mandate of Heaven has been withdrawn?

Young residents of the state have never experienced the velocity and depth of California’s famous busts. The last real spot of bother in California’s economy occurred almost 30 years ago in the early 1990s. Since then, it’s been one boom after another.

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Will MMT Work as Intended, Or Will It Trigger the Collapse of “Money”?

Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is presented as a means to painlessly fund the large-scale infrastructure / alternative energy spending the nation needs to rebuild and modernize.

While most people support the goal of useful fiscal stimulus (as opposed to paying people to dig holes and fill them), the question remains: Will MMT work as advertised?

Rather than dismiss it out of hand, I’m trying to approach the subject without ideological bias.

What Exactly Is MMT?

The basic idea of MMT (as I understand it) is that the economy is not running at 100% capacity–there is capital, equipment, people and resources which could be put to work to better society, and the chief impediment to making full use of our capacity is a lack of funding for projects that would benefit society.

In other words, the only thing standing in the way of broad-based, socially beneficial spending / progress is a lack of money (funding).

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[KR1454] Keiser Report: Commerce with all nations

In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max and Stacy discuss the battle between old principles and new and ask what Thomas Jefferson meant when he wrote that “Money, not morality, is the principle commerce of civilized nations.” And is Angela Merkel right to think first of her domestic manufacturers? What, also, does it mean that China now has more millionaires than America?

In the second half, Max talks to Dan Collins, a businessman and investor who lived in China for twenty years before moving back to the USA this year. They discuss the NBA, Huawei, COSCO and Tesla’s Gigafactory in Shanghai

[KR1453] Keiser Report: Paper is Poverty, a Ghost of Money

In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max and Stacy discuss the spooky signs across the world that prove ‘paper is, indeed, poverty,’ for it is a ‘ghost of money’ rather than money itself. And as such, it can hide all sorts of scary things like unpayable, toxic and fraudulent debts.

In the second half, Max talks to Ross Ashcroft, the host of Renegade Inc., about the UK’s ‘Serious Fraud Office’ quietly ending their ‘inquiry’ into the overwhelming evidence of serious fraud that happened during the Libor rigging scandal in the 2007-2009 period. They also discuss the failure of neoliberal economics as seen in protests across the globe and in the ‘botched’ PFI contracts in the UK.

The Unraveling Quickens

The central thesis of my new book Will You Be Richer or Poorer? is the financial “wealth” we’ve supposedly gained (or at least a few of us have gained) in the past 20 years has masked the unraveling of our intangible capital: the resilience of our economy, our social capital, i.e. our ability to find common ground and solve real-world problems, our sense that the playing field, while not entirely level, is not two-tiered, and our sense of economic security–have all been shredded.

The unraveling of everything that actually matters is quickening. While every “news” outlet cheerleads the stock market (“The Dow soared today as investor optimism rose… blah blah blah”), our “leadership” and our media don’t even attempt to measure what’s unraveling, much less address the underlying causes.

The hope is that if we ignore what’s unraveling, it will magically go away. But that’s not how reality works.

The unraveling is gathering momentum because prices have been pushing higher while wages lag, feeding the rising precariousness and inequality of our economy. The connection between people losing ground and social disorder/disunity has been well established by historians such as Peter Turchin Ages of Discord and David Hackett Fischer The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History.

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Prying Open the Overton Window

The Overton Window describes the spectrum of concepts, policies and approaches that can be publicly discussed without being ridiculed or marginalized as “too radical,” “unworkable,” “crazy,” etc. The narrower the Overton Window, the greater the impoverishment of public dialog and the fewer the solutions available.

Those holding power in a socio-economic-political system that’s unraveling devote their remaining energy to closing the Overton Window so that only “approved” narratives and policies that support the status quo are “allowed” into the public sphere.

Everything outside this narrow band of status-quo-supportive narratives is immediately disparaged as “fake news,” “Kremlin talking points,” or other highly charged accusations designed to close the Overton Window–a process Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman called manufacturing consent: if no “outside” ideas are allowed, people accept the status quo as “all there is and all there can possibly be.”

This narrow Overton Window benefits those in power who are “legally looting” the system.

There is another source of a narrow Overton Window: the cultural, social and political elites have no new ideas and so they cling to doing more of what’s failed, relying on the past successes of now-failing strategies to cement their power.

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What We’ve Lost

A documentary on the decline of small farms and the rural economy in France highlights what we’ve lost in the decades-long rush to globalize and financialize everything on the planet— what we call Neoliberalism, the ideology of turning everything into a global market controlled by The Tyranny of Price and cheap credit issued to corporations and banks by central banks.

After Winter, Spring (2012) was made by an American who moved to a small village in the Dordogne region of France to recover something of her childhood on a small Pennsylvania farm.

The farmers–self-described as paysanspeasants in English, (a translation I don’t consider entirely accurate, for reasons too complex to go into here)– describe the financial difficulties of earning enough to survive without outside jobs.

One young farmer who is taking over the family dairy from his aging parents encapsulates the economic reality of small farms: in the 1960s, they had 3 or 4 cows, now they have 100, but their income is the same.

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Welcome to the USSR: the United States of Suppression and Repression

When propaganda is cleverly engineered, people don’t even recognize it as propaganda: welcome to the USSR, the United States of Suppression and Repression. The propaganda in the U.S. has reached such a high state that the majority of people accept it as “pravda” (truth), even as their limbic system’s BS detector is sensing there is a great disturbance in the Force.

Inflation is a good example. The official (i.e. propaganda) inflation rate is increasingly detached from the real-world declines in the purchasing power of the bottom 80%, yet the jabbering talking heads on TV repeat the “low inflation” story with such conviction that the dissonance between the “official narrative” and the real world must be “our fault”–a classic technique of brainwashing.

To give some examples: healthcare is over 18% of the nation’s GDP, yet it makes up only 8.7% of the Consumer price Index. Hundreds of thousands of families have to declare bankruptcy as a result of crushing healthcare bills, but on the CPI components chart, it’s a tiny little sliver just a bit more than recreation (5.7%).

Then there’s education, which includes the $1.4 trillion borrowed by student debt-serfs–which is only part of the tsunami of cash gushing into the coffers of the higher-education cartel. Yet education & communication (which presumably includes the Internet / mobile telephone service cartel’s soaring prices) is another tiny sliver of the CPI, just 6.6%, a bit more than fun-and-games recreation.

As for housing costs, former Soviet apparatchiks must be high-fiving the Federal agencies for their inventive confusion of reality with magical made-up “statistics.” To estimate housing costs, the federal agency in charge of ginning up a low inflation number asks homeowners to guess what their house would rent for, were it being rented–what’s known as equivalent rent.

Wait a minute–don’t we have actual sales data for houses, and actual rent data? Yes we do, but those are verboten because they reflect skyrocketing inflation in housing costs, which is not allowed. So we use some fake guessing-game numbers, and the corporate media dutifully delivers the “pravda” that inflation is 1.6% annually–basically signal noise, while in the real world (as measured by the Chapwood Index) is running between 9% and 13% annually. How the Chapwood Index is calculated)

As the dissonance between the real world experienced by the citizenry and what they’re told is “pravda” by the media reaches extremes, the media is forced to double-down on the propaganda, shouting down, marginalizing, discrediting, demonetizing and suppressing dissenters via character assassination, following the old Soviet script to a tee.

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Economic Decay Leads to Social and Political Decay

It seems my rant yesterday (Let Me Know When It’s Over) upset a lot of people, many of whom felt I trivialized the differences between the parties and all the reforms that people believe will right wrongs and reduce suffering.

OK, I get it, there are differences, but if the “reform” doesn’t change the source of the suffering and injustice, it’s just window-dressing that makes the supporter feel virtuous. Want an example? Let’s take the the “cruel and unusual punishment” for drug-law offenders, many of whom are African-American males whose lives are effectively hobbled by felony convictions and long sentences in America’s Drug War Gulag.

You want a “reform” that actually gets to the root and solves the source of the injustice? It’s simple: decriminalize all drugs and recognize drug use as a medical and social issue rather than a criminal-justice / Gulag issue. But that won’t happen because too many people are making too much money off the Gulag, which is now a public and private-prison Gulag.

(Other advanced nations have had success with this structural change. Maybe we could learn something from their examples?)

If you’re not ready to demand the full decriminalization of all drugs, then you’re not really interested in solving the problem; you’re just seeking virtue-signaling “reforms” that don’t upset the power structure. And since any real solution necessarily disrupts the power structure benefiting from the status quo, all the painless “reforms” are ineffective.

In other words, either go big and change the power structure or go home and stop promoting your own virtue. This is why the economy is floundering despite all the warm and fuzzy headlines about stocks rising due to the Federal Reserve lowering interest rates: we collectively refuse to consider structural changes in the way “money” is created in our perverse system–perverse because the way “money” is created guarantees soaring inequality.

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Let Me Know When It’s Over

Let me me know when it’s over: yes, all of it: the impeachment, the trade dispute with China, U.S. involvement in Syria, the manic stock market rally and the 2020 election.

I’m not interested in following every twist and turn of the endless trauma-drama because none of it changes anything: Swapping Pence for Trump changes nothing, and then swapping Warren for Pence in 2020 doesn’t change anything, either: the rot is too deep for any one person to do much beyond feel-good virtue-signaling and symbolic gestures (tax the billionaires, etc.)

The entire political process has devolved to staged battles in the Bread and Circuses Coliseum, entertainment that is highly profitable for the corporate media that whips the partisan mobs into a frenzy and highly useful for the status quo, as the sound and fury signifying nothing serves to distract the restive audience from the decline of everything of value: civil liberties, free expression, social mobility, free markets and so on.

The nation is in the deadly grip of cartels, monopolies and bureaucracies tasked with increasing and protecting the continuing concentration of wealth and power in financial and political elites.

We are eating our seed corn while borrowing profligately from the future to create an illusion of growth–an illusion that requires ever greater levels of intervention / manipulation and propaganda. Dissent must be buried or silenced, as the absurd disconnects from reality reach new extremes.

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[KR1450] Keiser Report: GOLD: The Trust Anchor for Financial System

In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max and Stacy discuss the recent report from the Dutch National Bank explaining why it holds 615 tons of gold which the bank considers the ‘trust anchor for the financial system.’ This statement and others in the report could be yet another sign of the end of fiat.

In the second half, Max interviews Michael Pento of PentoPort.com about the repo markets, gold, QE4, and more.