Monthly Archives: October 2019

[KR1449] Keiser Report: Will China announce it’s got 20,000 tons of gold?

In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max and Stacy discuss the financialized economy hitting the wall of reality where no innovation has been implemented in decades and all past wealth creation has been monetized and spent several times over. GE announces a freeze on pension benefits as one of the kings of throwing good capital at share buyback stock price manipulation schemes discovers it is nearly broke. In the second half, Max continues his interview with Alasdair Macleod of Goldmoney.com. In this segment, they discuss the rise of China, its large purchases of gold, and Alasdair’s belief that China may one day announce that it has over 20,000 tons of gold. Should Beijing do this, the dollar is toast, he says.

America 2019: Even the Wealthy Are Poorer in Everything That Matters

A good friend related a story that goes directly to the heart of what’s broken in our way of life. My friend went to a reunion in Silicon Valley attended by the most successful cohort in America: super-smart, highly educated people in their mid-40s who have achieved the highest levels of professional accomplishment and built enormous financial wealth, with net worths not just in the millions but in many cases in the tens of millions of dollars.

These are people at the apex of the American economy and society, those who did everything right, worked hard and grasped the brass ring of conventional success.

Yet when the meeting broke into small groups and individuals were asked to speak briefly about their lives, more than a few people teared up and began weeping. My friend was struck by the disconnect between their tremendous success and their personal misery–of failed marriages, of being trapped in their jobs, in feeling their sacrifices weren’t worth it and in sensing the shallowness of their success and the poverty of their inner lives.

Not every super-successful person was miserable, of course; some had shifted gears to lower-paid work they found more fulfilling and others still loved their careers. But what was near-universal was the desire to get the heck out of Silicon Valley and leave its pressure-cooker lifestyle in the dust.

It takes a great deal of honesty and inner strength to admit in public that conventional success hasn’t delivered the glorious fulfillment and happiness we’re scripted to expect.

Ours is a culture of forced optimism. The scripts of forced optimism are repeated daily in endless loops: the “fix” for misery is gratitude (hence everyone interviewed after a “win” must express gratitude and humility) and a menu of self-help tricks: mindfulness, better management of our productivity, etc., in a near-infinite profusion of “5 things you can do to improve your life” lists that gush out of America’s prodigious self-help industry.

All of this is intended to obscure the reality that even the wealthy are poorer in everything that really matters. We measure “wealth” in financial terms, but as the super-successful and super-wealthy discover, financial wealth doesn’t translate into well-being, fulfilling relationships, agency, health or the other forms of intangible capital that make up “real wealth.”

I’ve just completed a book that explores these topics in depth: Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power and A.I. in a Traumatized World.

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Will the Clintons Destroy the Democratic Party?

Let’s start by stipulating my bias: I would cheer the collapse of both self-serving, venal political parties, which have stood by for decades as the rich have become immeasurably richer and the politically powerful few have disempowered the many. The transparent “populist” bleatings of both parties–“we serve the people!”–sound increasingly like stale, pathetically disconnected from reality Soviet-era propaganda.

Let’s say I’m a relatively disinterested observer other than my fervent wish that both corrupt, self-serving parties slide into the dustbin of history, the sooner the better.

The Republicans were hijacked by Donald Trump and given a binary choice: accept Trump as their candidate and have a chance of winning, or reject him and guarantee losing. After surveying the wreckage left by the Bush dynasty and Romney’s loss, the Repubs swallowed their distrust and distaste for The Donald and chose winning over losing–the easily predictable choice for all politicos.

The Democrats chose to enact a Greek tragedy featuring off-the-charts hubris. Despite Hillary’s private email server, the Clinton Foundation’s shameless shakedowns for millions of dollars in “contributions” (the polite word for influence peddling), and her delight in mocking those who chose not to vote for her as “deplorables,” the Democrats were supremely confident that the Clinton dynasty would sweep them to an easy and overwhelming victory.

As the Greek dramatists understood, hubris doesn’t just invite disaster, it welcomes disaster.

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What’s Holding Up the Market?

What’s holding up the U.S. stock market? The facile answer is the Federal Reserve (“the Fed has our back,” “don’t fight the Fed,” etc.) but this doesn’t actually describe the mechanisms in play or the consequences of a market that levitates ever higher on the promise of more Fed money-for-nothing injected into the diseased veins of the financial system.

As Gordon T. Long and I discuss in our latest half-hour video program, What’s Holding the Market Up? (34 minutes), the primary prop under stock valuations are corporate buybacks, which total in the trillions of dollars since the 2008-09 Global Financial Meltdown and the Fed’s “rescue of the rich,” which continues to this day.

Rather than risk capital in productive investments, U.S. corporations have borrowed trillions of dollars and used the cash to buy back their own shares. The Fed’s suppression of interest rates has incentivized stock buybacks in several ways:

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[KR1445] Keiser Report: Get Off Zero

On this episode of the Keiser Report, Max and Stacy discuss how negative rates are rewriting the rules of modern finance, which has been built on the Black-Scholes model. As time must have a value for many of the pricing models to work, it is more difficult to price risk accurately. In the second half, Max continues his conversation with Mark Yusko of Morgan Creek Capital. In this segment, they discuss illogical and crazy negative interest rates as evidence of kleptocracy, and why it is also a good reason to ‘get off zero’ in relation to bitcoin.

Democracy Is Now a Hindrance to the Imperial State

If we step back from the histrionics of impeachment and indeed, the past four years of political circus, we have to wonder if America’s democracy is little more than an elaborate simulation, a counterfeit democracy that matches our counterfeit capitalism (Matt Stoller’s term).

If we review the mechanics of our “democracy,” we find that swapping which party controls Congress doesn’t really change the policies of The Imperial State, the central state that oversees America’s global commercial and geopolitical empire.

Next, consider the high return rate of incumbents. Once in power, politicos can skim the millions of dollars in campaign contributions needed to win re-election.

Then there’s the some are more equal than others nature of the judicial system that serves the interests of financial and political elites: Bernie Madoff was free to continue his Ponzi scheme for years despite whistleblower attempts to instigate a federal investigation, and pedophile /schmoozer / “intelligence agency asset” Jeffrey Epstein was free to exploit underage teens and pile up $200 million after a wrist-slap conviction.

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[KR1444] Keiser Report: Make Recessions Great Again

In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max and Stacy continue their discussion of the repo chaos and ask if there is a squeeze on the dollar, as Rick Ackerman suggests. If house flippers are still easily to get credit, what exactly is going on with the big banks that they’ve suddenly created a liquidity crisis? In the second half, Max talks to Mark Yusko of Morgan Creek Capital about the repo market situation and QE4Ever, the Killer Ds and how we can make recessions great again by allowing the business cycle to happen. They also discuss stock buybacks as stealth QE.

Could Pricey Urban Meccas become Crime-Ridden Ghost Towns?

If there is any trend that’s viewed as permanent, it’s the enduring attraction of coastal urban meccas: despite the insane rents and housing costs, that’s where the jobs, the opportunities and the desirable urban culture are.

Nice, but like many other things the status quo considers permanent, this could reverse very quickly, and all those pricey urban meccas could become crime-ridden ghost towns. How could such a reversal occur?

1. Those in the top 10% who can leave reach an inflection point and decide to leave. The top 1% who live in enclaves filled with politicians, celebrities and the uber-wealthy see no reason to leave, as the police make sure no human feces land on their doorstep.

It’s everyone who lives outside these protected enclaves, in neighborhoods exposed to exasperating (and increasingly dangerous) decay who will reach a point where the “urban lifestyle” is no longer worth the sacrifices and costs.

It might be needles and human feces on the sidewalk, it might be petty crime such as your mail being stolen for the umpteenth time, it might be soul-crushing commutes that finally do crush your soul, or in Berkeley, California, it might be getting a $300 ticket for not bringing your bicycle to a complete stop at every empty intersection on a city bikeway. (I’ve personally witnessed motorcycle officers nailing dozens of bicyclists with these $300 tickets.)

It might be something that shreds the flimsy facade of safety and security complacent urban dwellers have taken for granted, something that acts as the last grain of sand on the growing pile of reasons to get the heck out that triggers the decision.

Not everyone can move, but many in the top tier can, and will. Living in a decaying situation is not a necessity for these lucky few, it’s an option.

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