Six Steps Trump Can Take Toward Better Monetary Policy
Dec 17, 2016 6:45 PM
Submitted by JP Cortez & Stefan Gleason via The Mises Institute,
Since Nixon severed the final link to gold in 1971, the US dollar has lost more than 80% of its purchasing power, wreaking havoc on ordinary savers, conservative investors, and households on fixed incomes. Today, inflationary monetary policy continues to be a foundational tenet of all presidential administrations as politicians and central bankers have heedlessly been borrowing and printing currency without restraint in order to bankroll today’s bloated and insolvent federal government.
Movement in the direction of sound money is badly needed, and even without abolishing central banking, there are several steps that the Trump administration can take toward improving monetary policy.
Step One: Audit the Fed
From Ron Paul to Bernie Sanders and many people in between, there has been plenty of support for “Audit the Fed” legislation. Politicians and constituents alike agree that the Federal Reserve lacks even the most basic oversight a government-sponsored institution should have — particularly when its officials can make decisions which can bring the American economy to its knees.
Step Two: Audit the Gold
The last time there was a reasonably credible audit of America’s gold reserves was in the 1950s. Since then, there has been little more than peek-a-boo glances at the gold. The most recent status report done by the Department of the Treasury, claims that Fort Knox holds 147,341,858.382 fine troy ounces of gold.
However, many question the accuracy of that report and whether it tells the whole story. There is evidence the US Treasury has engaged in gold leasing and other financial alchemy. Even if all the gold is still held in US vaults, it may have been leased, sold, pledged as collateral, or could be encumbered in other ways.
Step Three: Remove Federal Taxation on Precious Metals
Another necessary step in freeing gold and silver to be used once again as money is to eliminate capital gains taxation on monetary metals. At the federal level, IRS bureaucrats insist that gold and silver be taxed when exchanged for Federal Reserve Notes — or when used in barter transactions.
When the federal government’s inflationary policies lower the purchasing power of the Federal Reserve Note, precious metals’ nominal dollar value generally rises, triggering a “gain.” The gain may be purely fictional in real terms. But these “gains” are still taxed — thus unfairly punishing people for owning precious metals as money.
Step Four, Five, and Six: Appoint Proponents of Sound Money to the Fed, CEA, and CFTC
President-elect Trump’s rhetoric is loaded with claims about getting people back to work. He’ll play a hand in that directly when he makes appointments throughout his presidency. Among the most impactful will be his appointments to the Federal Reserve.
The Federal Reserve, the privately held central bank of the United States, has an unrivaled ability to manipulate the economy. For much of the past 30 years, starting with Alan Greenspan, the Fed has loosened the money supply with low interest rates and quantitative easing. And it’s created moral hazards by bailing out irresponsible market players. Trump can appoint 4 of the 7 leading officials of the US central bank.
The Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) advises the president on economic policy and prepares the Economic Report of the President. The council is comprised of 3 members nominated by the president and approved by the Senate, and its members are typically professors on a leave of absence from their universities.
Trump has the opportunity to appoint new members to this advisory body. He should look to economists with a firm understanding of the benefits of sound money than selecting yet more Keynesian school economists who have been cheerleaders for central government planning and an inflationary monetary policy for decades.
The people Trump appoints to the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) will also have substantial impact on the markets. In the recent past, the CFTC received complaints about concentrated short selling done intentionally to push gold and silver prices down. For example, there is strong evidence that unscrupulous banks and traders often attack during periods of low liquidity in the markets such as the middle of the night.
The largest contributor to inflation and financial turmoil is dishonest money - enabling bureaucrats to run perpetual government deficits and pile up the federal debt. If Trump takes the steps outlined above, he can repair some of the damage.
Former Fed Advisor: State Pensions Time Bomb Spells Disaster For The US
ZeroHedge.com Dec 17, 2016 8:15 PM
Underfunded government pensions to the tune of $1.3 trillion, with a gap that just can’t be filled, is the ticking time bomb facing the US economy which faces dramatic cuts in public services - and potentially riots reminiscent of Athens six years ago - according to former Federal Reserve advisor, and President of Money Strong, Danielle DiMartino Booth.
As she picks apart the danger signs with the US on the precipice of recession, it’s the impending pensions crisis that keeps her awake at night, sharing the gloomy sentiment laid out in an extensive March 2016 Citi report titled "The coming pensions crisis."
With few people taking part in what little recovery the US has had, and given how stretched pensions are, checks are going to have to be written from Washington sooner than you think, DiMartino Booth told Real Vision TV in an interview. “The Baby Boomers are no longer an actuarial theory,” she said. “They're a reality. The checks are being written.”
A Bulldozer Couldn’t Fill the State Pensions Gap
The $1.3 trillion pensions deficit just takes into account state and municipal obligations, and with promised returns of 8% and funds compounding at 3% for decades it will take nothing short of an economic miracle to recover. “The average state pension in the last fiscal year returned something south of 1%. You cannot fill that gap with a bulldozer, impossible,” DiMartino Booth said. “Anyone who knows their compounding tables knows you don't make that up. You don't get that back unless you get some miracle.”
The last time we saw significant market weakness, the baby boomers pretty much accepted that they would be retiring at 70 instead of 65, she added. “Well, guess what? They're turning 71. And the physiological decision to stay in the workforce won't work for much longer. And that means that these pensions are going to come under tremendous amounts of pressure.
“And the idea that we can escape what's to come, given demographically what we're staring at is naive at best. And it's reckless at worst,” DiMartino Booth said. “And when you throw private equity and all of the dry powder that they have -- that they're sitting on -- still waiting to deploy on pensions’ behalf, at really egregious valuations, yeah, it's hard to sleep at night.”
Pension Fund Underfunding is Ground Zero
The interview with Real Vision was held in Dallas, which DiMartino Booth said is Ground Zero for the pensions crisis, where returns for the $2.27 billion Police and Fire Pension System have suffered due to risky investments in real estate made over a decade ago. Huge withdrawals are now taking place, amid concerns over the future viability of the pension scheme, which commentators say could be flat broke in a little over ten years.
“We're seeing this surge of people trying to retire early and take the money. Because they see it's not going to be there. And if that dynamic and that belief spreads-- forget all the other problems,” DiMartino Booth said. “The pension fund -- underfunding is Ground Zero.”
The gravity of the situation with the lack of returns is magnified by the fact that the underperformance has been going on for between ten and 15 years. Calpers, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System is a case in point, amid reports that it returned just 0.6% last year compared with its long term target of 7.5%. With the legal language tightly written on pensions like this across the country, such that states and municipalities won’t be able to break free of their obligations, DiMartino Booth thinks the endgame will evoke memories of the Winter of Discontent in London in 1979 and more recently the riots in Athens as key public services are cut.
Angry Country, Angry World – The Wealth Effect is Dead
“This is where the smile comes off my face. We are an angry country. We're an angry world. The wealth effect is dead. The inequality divide is unlike anything we've seen since the years that preceded the Great Depression,” she told Real Vision TV. “Where's the money going to come from? And the answer is, for now, they cut services. I've just written about the Winter of Discontent and the rubbish piled up in central London streets in 1979, as Thatcher was coming in. I worry about the ambulance not getting there in time. I worry about firefighters being cut to the bone and policemen.”
The seriousness of the issue might not have hit home yet in Denver, where the state budget for tulips had to be cut recently to top up the pension fund, she said, but what happens when you are not talking about flowers anymore and when you are talking about a very populous state like Illinois?
“If the actuaries are going to force the checks to be written and reduce the rate of returned assumptions to anything remotely related to reality, then we won't be laughing anymore looking in the rear view mirror at the riots in the streets of Athens a few years back,” DiMartino Booth warned.
Visit Real Vision TV to watch this exclusive full interview, free to all. Real Vision TV is a video-on-demand channel for finance, offering over 500 videos from 200 of the world’s sharpest investment minds. Think of it as what CNBC could have been if it actually focused on quality of content.
25 Cities On The Brink Of Disaster: "Don't Be Here When Things Get Violent, Unsafe, & Fragile"
ZeroHedge.com Dec 13, 2016 5:22 AM
Submitted by Mac Slavo via SHTFPlan.com,
The 21st Century is inching ever closer towards chaos… and the time to get out of the big city is upon us.
With economic conditions, growing crises, desperate populations looking to scratch by, and more hatred and division than at any previous point in American history, the city has become a dangerous and unruly setting – and finding yourseld in one that is falling apart could be the worst mistake you ever make.
People are living in bigger urban zones than ever before… these megacities are the hotspots of global activity. But many are also proving to be the most dangerous place to be in a collapse. Crime is rampant, order is shaken and many people become willing to take advantage of the situation. Many areas are vulnerable to natural disasters, and have already lost control during past emergencies.
In other places, widespread unemployment is simply taking its toll through increases in theft and violence. Whatever the reason, there are many places where things are falling apart, badly.
As Wired reported, disaster is looming on a worldwide basis, but some are approaching total collapse, thanks to a storm of factors:
Using data on 2,100 cities, Robert Muggah has found which factors make an area more likely to become violent, unsafe and fragile. The data show 30 cities on the brink of disaster and what could cause it.
Cities were rated based on factors including: conflict, fragility, population growth, unemployment rate, access to services, income inequality, air pollution, homicide rate, killings in terrorist attacks, political violence and the risk of natural disaster.
Natural disaster has proved very disruptive lately, as tsunamis and earthquakes have recently devastated New Zealand and rattled nearby Australia. Though things are fairly stable in these Western democracies, their geographical vulnerability to serious tectonic activity makes their civilization far than stable. Auckland, New Zealand made the list for risky cities.
But Haiti was even harder hit. The 2010 earthquake caused widespread devastation in a place that was already one of the poorest on the planet. The 2016 hurricane in Haiti proved that despite billions of dollars in donation, philanthropy and intervention by the likes of the Clinton Foundation, Haiti was still extremely vulnerable. Hundreds of thousands of people were once again displaced as their homes were destroyed; local governments and global NGOs did little to nothing to secure basic necessities, and the place remains one crisis away from total instability. Port-au-Prince, the capital and most populous city there is already a very risky and poverty prone place, and could become much worse in the wake of a disaster.
Brazil’s megacities are so saturated with the urban poor, and short on basic resources including drinking water, they literally millions of people are on the brink. Riots are possible, and a survival crisis could factor in for Sao Paolo, where 8 million people are at risk of having no access to water. Predictably, many cities in Colombia remain extremely fragile due to the ongoing drug war conflicts that have claimed lives, and left millions of people at the mercy of gang rule.
Venezuela has proven to be a special case, of near precision collapse, as its currency tanks and economic warfare brings people to their knees as they are forced to wait in line for rations, trade on the black market and deal in worthless cash. Socialism has worsened the problems created by the emergency drop in the oil prices. Caracas remains the biggest pool of hungry, poor and increasingly fed up people.
Guatamala City, Mixco and Villa Neuva, Guetemala as well as San Pedro Sula, Honduras were identified as particularly vulnerable cities in Central America, as refugees continue to seek amnesty in the United States to escape the ongoing turmoil in their own countries.
Perhaps surprising to some, many major European cities are quite vulnerable as well to global economic pressures via sharp increases in immigration, “rape” scandals and social concerns about terrorism.
London, UK is one of the wealthiest cities, and yet it faces enormous pressures from overwhelming immigration, from growing economic disparity and from cultural clashes, threats of terrorism – and now, fighting between political factions over Brexit and other issues.
The Eastern bloc is especially vulnerable to these pressures that could lead to a growing unrest. France, Germany, Sweden and Norway also face major instability over immigration and cultural issues.
But some of the most unstable cities on the planet rank among those in the United States.
Places like Baltimore, Detroit, Washington D.C., New York, Philadelphia and other cities across the map are still deeply divided often police and race issues. Many have seen serious riots, looting and unrest. These social wedge issues are still being pushed from moneyed political interests, while political divide after the direction of the country has become sharp.
Dallas, Texas just suspended pension payments for some of its civil servants, a sign that financial insolvency could create an epidemic during the next crisis. Several states, like California, have over promised benefits to state employees in the pension programs, without ever planning to pay for them. If people lose it, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and the whole of the surrounding areas could simply erupt. Similar problems have left Detroit, Michigan and Puerto Rico, the commonwealth island, extremely vulnerable to bankruptcy and economic apocalypse that could contaminate the nation and global within hours.
If a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, hits the East or Gulf Coast, tens of millions of people could be caught up in traffic, locked in cities without food, and desperate to cling to order and survive. Likewise, if a major earthquake hit the West Coast, millions could be displaced and left without many options. That’s when things turn ugly.
The world is reaching a tipping point, and much chaos and instability could come crashing down anytime now. Many cities have made themselves open targets for collapse, with economic normalcy already hanging by a thread and populations already restless and growing increasingly discontent.
Be prepared. These things are building, and there are quite a few places you’d rather not be when the SHTF.
These Countries Have Nearly "Eliminated Cash From Circulation"
Dec 4, 2016 8:15 PM
The cashless society is catching up to all of us. As SHTFPlan.com's Mac Slavo notes,
Most of Europe has shifted that way, and now India is forcing the issue. In the United States, people are being acclimated to it, and may soon find that no other option is practical in the highly-digitized online world.
Once that takes hold, the banksters, bureaucrats and hackers will have total information on all your transactions, purchasing behavior, profiles about consumers, political and social background history and even predictive behavior, allowing them to control the population with ease.
If/when a major crisis hits, nothing will work if the grid goes down; nothing will take place that isn’t strictly authorized – apart from a barter and precious metals exchange system that will be marginalized to the pre-digital ghetto. In fact, as The Daily Coin's Rory Hall explains 1 out of 3 people in the world never uses cash... We recently learned how serious these criminals are about stealing the sovereignty of every person on planet earth. Actually, most people are willingly handing over their sovereignty to the banks/government and have no idea what they are actually doing.
When India banned (made illegal) the 500 and 1000 rupee banknote this move effected every 1 out of 7 people on planet earth. That means that every 7th person, anywhere and everywhere, you come in contact with may have been effected by this cash ban.
Our individual sovereignty is tied directly to our ability to move freely about. When every step we make is tracked by the bank/government our sovereignty is gone forever. Freely trading commerce is one of the cornerstones of human sovereignty. Without the ability to conduct business with whom we wish, when we wish we are nothing more than cattle to the overlords of the land.
An expat living in Thailand sent me an email last week, at the height of India blowing apart because the idiotic decision by Prime Minister Modi to eliminate the two most used bank notes in India. The email was to inform me that Thailand would be implementing a new policy in the early part of 2017 to completely eliminate coins from circulation. South Korea has already taken measures to eliminate coins from circulation.
Here is a google translation from the Korean website wikitree.co.kr (once you arrive you will need to translate from Korean language)
From next year, you can get the change of cash that you bought and paid at a convenience store on your transportation card.
In the mid to long term, not only transportation cards but also remittance to credit cards and accounts will be promoted, and the industry will be expanded to retail sector such as marts and pharmacies.
The Bank of Korea announced on the 21st [November] that it will provide a service to charge prepaid transportation cards at convenient stores from the first half of next year (2017) as the first stage of the demonstration project to realize “a society without coins”.
What’s happening in Thailand? Well, the government doesn’t even bother with trying to cover up the “scheme” to move people onto the tax farm – currency enslavement awaits for all that enter the great Bangkok Baht giveaway!!!
According to Bangkok.Coconuts.co (published in July 2016):
“Want to win a million baht? Go for e-payment,” says Thailand’s junta, offering a lucky draw as an incentive to use the new online payment scheme “PromptPay.” The government wants to encourage citizens to use the service for business, in an effort to bring some of the massive informal Thai economy onto the books and boost tax revenues.
As Southeast Asian economies struggle and tax income misses budget targets, Thailand’s finance minister is hopeful that a nationwide e-payment scheme can add tax revenue of THB100 billion a year to the coffers.
Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong has estimated the move will save banks and businesses a combined THB75 billion a year, though other policymakers expect it could take some time for businesses to change their habits. Cash and checks now make up 80 percent of transactions.
A coup in May 2014 ended months of political unrest, but the generals have struggled to revive Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy as exports and consumption remain weak.
What about the most populace country on the planet: China? Well, they are, currently, in fourth place in use of digitized currency behind the U.S., Europe and Brazil. While none of these countries have eliminated cash from circulation, the banks/government make is sound “trendy”, convenient and oh so cool to never use cash. Why force a policy change when you can convince the people to hand over their freewill?
Although China still has some way to go before it catches up with countries such as the US and Sweden, the speed at which China has made the shift from cash towards cashless has surprised many. Non-cash payments have been growing by around 40 per cent a year and last year China moved into 4th place in the world for non-cash payments after the US, Europe and Brazil.
There are many reasons for China’s rapid transition away from cash. One is urbanisation, as non-cash payments are becoming both easy and popular. This is especially the case in top-tier cities such as Shanghai, Shenzhen and Beijing where it is both trendy and convenient to pay without using cash.
There is a huge variety of choices when it comes to making cashless payments and China UnionPay has definitely helped to encourage this, particularly in the case of debit cards, which outnumber credit cards in China by 10 to one. China has more than 4 billion cards on issue – almost enough for each adult to have about three each.
Mobile payments have also taken off in China – it has the largest proportion of people in the world using their mobile phones to make payments, online and physically. The purpose of going cashless is not for our “convenience”, it is specifically for the purpose of “saving the banks” and tax collections. Governments and banks could care-less about what is convenient for us. They are only concerned with how much of our wealth they can extract from every person who has any currency.
The population of South Korea is 50.22 million people or said another way about 1/6th the size of the United States. India, on the other hand, is populated by 1.33 BILLION people while there are 7.4 BILLION populating the world. With Thailand making moves to remove cash/coins from the people we need to add their population to the mix as well. With more than 68.22 Million people this brings the number of people that are being forced by their government to use digital currency to a whopping 1.45 BILLION people. If you add 40% of China’s population of 1.35 BILLION that equates to approximately 540 million people the number of people currently living within a cashless society breaches 2 Billion people or said another way 1 out of every 3.5 people we come into contact with everyday. Every 4th person you greet has nothing to do with cash. This does not take in account the top 3 nations using digitized currency for their transactions. If the U.S., Europe and Brazil were calculated we would be well below 1 out of 3 people never using cash for any transaction.
Some people that are reading this are telling themselves “so what?” those are distant far off lands that have nothing to do with the U.S. and this will never happen here. Well, not so fast.
Larry Summers, who is like an embedded tick at the Treasury Department of the United States, has called for the elimination of the $100 bill. With the elimination of the largest denominated bank note from circulation this would effectively kill the use of cash. Why? Because it would eliminate most of the total cash value from circulation in one-fell-swoop.
With $1.2 trillion in cash in circulation, as of July 2013 (now three year old information), not just in the United States but around the world, removing the $100 bill would deal a serious blow to the cash balance in circulation. Maybe not the amount of pieces of paper, but the cash value removed would be huge. Imagine going to a casino and hitting a blackjack table for $2,000 and the cashier hands you bundles of $50 bills (40) or worse, bundles of $20 bills (100)! $2,000 payout at a casino is not that a big deal. Having to handle the sheer volume of bank notes could potentially be a problem for the person receiving the windfall of paper.
If you have any misguided notion that a cashless society is not coming, just keep telling yourself that every time you use a debit card, credit card or your phone for your next purchase. With the elimination of cash we effectively hand over our individual human sovereignty to the banks and the government.