Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Global Stagnation

"This brilliant, modern free trade system and all of its benefits cannot be implemented using the US dollar as a reserve currency. It shuts off commerce that in turn limits the use of commodities such as oil, metals, food and the like. Many hail the low price inflation in the US as a victory and ignore the intent other nations had in following "free trade". That being to promote a world economy, not just a US economy.

Understand that the increased use of commodities is a good thing. It's not just for the purpose of making rising chart pattern so speculators can sell their calls! Commodity usage creates real things and helps the lives of real people. When citizens gain real productive mechanisms, they hold real wealth. Some would have you believe that third world people are enriched by saving US treasury bonds, not true! The only way to increase world trade, with an eye on building new consumers in all countries, is to remove the overhang of "dollar settlement"."
FOA (3/14/99)


Dirty Float picked up in 1971 where Fiat 33 left off, and this post picks up in the present, where Dirty Float left off, where there is almost universal agreement among esteemed economists that, lately, the global economy (not to get too technical) sucks. Global stagnation, it is agreed, is the symptom of a mysterious economic disease that we, as a planet, picked up along the way; as for its causes and cures, there is little agreement. But before we dive into the problem ailing the present, let's take a little trip back in time... to 1938.

In 1938, nine years after the stock market crash of 1929, and during the final years of the Great Depression, an American economist named Alvin Hansen, sometimes called "the American Keynes", introduced an economic hypothesis called "secular stagnation". His idea was that fundamental economic forces might have been conspiring in a vicious cycle that prevented economic recovery resulting in permanent high unemployment and low growth.

The main forces in 1938, according to Hansen, were a declining birth rate and over-saving which was keeping people from spending (in Keynesian terms, an oversupply of savings in an aging population was suppressing aggregate demand). Shortly thereafter, however, WWII and the baby boom that followed discredited Hansen's theory, consigning it to little more than an economic footnote.

75 years later, on November 8, 2013, Hansen's secular stagnation hypothesis became popular once again when Larry Summers revived it during a speech at the IMF. [1] He followed that up with an article in the Financial Times:

"Is it possible that the US and other major global economies might not return to full employment and strong growth without the help of unconventional policy support? I raised that notion – the old idea of “secular stagnation” – recently in a talk hosted by the International Monetary Fund…" [2]

Summers' invocation of Hansen's "old idea" as a way to explain the current global stagnation brought comment and criticism from all corners of the Economics sphere. Those weighing in on the idea included names like Richard Koo, Barry Eichengreen, Paul Krugman and Alan Greenspan. The Economist called secular stagnation "a baggy concept, arguably too capacious for its own good." [3]

David Wessel, a prominent Economics journalist, suggested that "today's advocates of secular stagnation are as myopic [as Alvin Hansen was in 1938]," and that "we just have to be patient." [4] And Barry Eichengreen wrote, "Secular stagnation, we have learned, is an economist’s Rorchach Test. It means different things to different people." [5]

Paul Krugman loved the idea:

"I was very annoyed when Larry Summers made a big splash talking about secular stagnation at the IMF’s 2013 Annual Research Conference – annoyed not at Larry but at myself. You see, I had been groping toward more or less the same idea, and had blogged in that general direction (Krugman 2013) – but it wasn’t forceful, and Larry rightly gets credit for making the topic a front-burner issue… In what follows, I’ll lay out four reasons why secular stagnation deserves the buzz it’s now getting." [6]

I think the reason that Krugman finds it so exciting is because, as he writes in his chapter in an e-book titled Secular Stagnation: Facts, Causes and Cures, it may have some radical implications and therefore "requires a major rethinking of macroeconomic policy":

"Suppose that the economy really needs a 4% inflation target, but the central bank says: “That seems kind of radical, so let’s be more cautious and only target 2%”. This sounds prudent, but it may actually guarantee failure. In other words, the problem of getting effective monetary policy, always difficult at the zero lower bound, gets even harder if we have entered an era of secular stagnation.

What about fiscal policy? Here the standard argument is that deficit spending can serve as a bridge across a temporary problem, supporting demand while, for example, households pay down debt and restore the health of their balance sheets, at which point they begin spending normally again. Once that has happened, monetary policy can take over the job of sustaining demand while the government goes about restoring its own balance sheet. But what if a negative real natural rate isn’t a temporary phenomenon? Is there a fiscally sustainable way to keep supporting demand?

In this chapter I’ll leave these questions hanging. The crucial point, for now, is that the real possibility that we’ve entered an era of secular stagnation requires a major rethinking of macroeconomic policy." [6]

There are links down in the footnotes if you would like to study what secular stagnation means to 23 different economists. But for the purpose of this post, I'm going to focus mainly on what it means to Larry Summers, since he brought it up, and to Paul Krugman who largely agrees with Larry and is mostly concerned with today's low inflation.

One thing I should mention is that Larry Summers' "New Secular Stagnation Hypothesis" is a little different from its predecessor. Hansen's secular stagnation hypothesis in 1938 was essentially an observation of (what he thought was) permanent damage (or at least permanent changes) in the economy for which there was no cure. Hansen's "secular stagnation" was simply an explanation for why the economy had entered a state of permanent (or at least indefinitely long term, aka secular) stagnation.

Unlike Hansen's dismal outlook, Larry Summers wants you to know that his "New" secular stagnation (SecStag for short [5]) can be cured, by people like himself, by macroeconomists and public servants: "Today, secular stagnation should be viewed as a contingency to be insured against – not a fate to which we ought to be resigned." [2] "Finance is too important to leave entirely to financiers." [1]

Something we should always bear in mind, especially in complex discussions like this one, is the difference between cause, symptom and cure, and similarly, the difference between observation, prediction and prescription. Larry Summers reminds us of the important distinction between prescription and prediction with regard to financial bubbles: "Some have suggested that a belief in secular stagnation implies the desirability of bubbles to support demand. This idea confuses prediction with recommendation. It is, of course, better to support demand by supporting productive investment or highly valued consumption than by artificially inflating bubbles. On the other hand, it is only rational to recognise that low interest rates raise asset values and drive investors to take greater risks, making bubbles more likely." [2]

One of the criticisms of Summers' SecStag theory is that our economic model expectations are simply too high, that this is not stagnation we are experiencing right now, but rather a reversion to the long-term mean. Another criticism is that economic model growth measurement standards are simply outdated and not capable of properly counting Internet technology (IT) innovation as growth. Both make valid points about the shortcomings of economic models, but both also miss the big picture, in my view, which is that there really is a physical plane impairment that has been with us for a very long time, and has simply been masked by the same monetary plane phenomena that causes it.

Back in 1986, Larry Summers, along with Olivier Blanchard who is currently the chief economist at the IMF, noticed a certain ratcheting down in the employment numbers of prime-aged males in Europe starting in the 1970s. It was expected that, following a recession, employment would bounce back to previous levels, but in Europe they saw this "ratcheting down" starting in the 70s. In their 1986 paper titled "Hysteresis and the European Unemployment problem" [9], they coined the term "Eurosclerosis" because they thought it was only a European problem. That was in 1986, but current data shows that, from 1990-2012, that same "sclerosis" was happening in the US and China even more so than in Europe. [10]

The point is, what secular stagnation means to Larry Summers is a long-term economic impairment that extends all around the world. It doesn't necessarily mean zero or negative growth, but it does mean that real (physical plane) growth potential has declined substantially, and that this decline, this "ratcheting down" or "sclerosis" in real economic potential, is due to a monetary plane phenomenon. Summers makes it clear that this is more than just a hangover from the 2008 financial crisis, that it has been happening since at least the 1990s but that it was camouflaged by the stock market and housing bubbles. On this much, Larry and I are in full agreement.

The basis of Summers' hypothesis is that today we have a lack of demand (spending, consumption, capital investment and borrowing) facing a glut of savings (too much saved money flooding the system and driving down interest rates and lending standards as it faces a lack of demand from qualified borrowers). Summers believes that, in general, there is an equilibrium that is reached between savers and investors, and that the real interest rate (the nominal "safe" interest rate that can be earned without risk, minus the rate of inflation) is what shifts investor preferences at the margin from saving money (safety) to investing (risk-taking).

Furthermore, he believes that there is a theoretical real interest rate that corresponds with full employment, i.e., sufficient economic growth. He calls this theoretical rate the FERIR, which stands for the Full Employment Real Interest Rate. Others just call it the "natural" interest rate. Summers argues that this theoretical interest rate, which would be the target interest rate for a CB interested in economic growth and full employment, is now stuck well below zero. And because it is below zero, it cannot be practically reached by conventional monetary policy, including QE, and that's why we're stuck in the land of financial bubbles and secular stagnation. The bottom line is that "SecStag may force policymakers to choose between sluggish growth and bubbles." [5]

I'm sure that some of this sounds familiar to my readers. I have been writing for years about how a glut of passive savings crowds active money out of prudent activities thereby retarding the entire financial system. For years I have made the point that investing requires active specialization, and should therefore not be a passive activity. That naturally-passive, risk-averse savers are a large and distinct group, separate from investors, traders and speculators, and that only in the present dollar-based international monetary and financial system (the $IMFS) are they forced to swim with the sharks.

I have been writing for years about how the $IMFS has an unnecessary and terminal conflict built into its very DNA, like a congenital aneurysm just waiting to burst right when you least expect to die. How using the same medium (the dollar) as both the primary and secondary media of exchange (i.e., using the same unit—or fixed/pegged units—as both the tradable credit unit and the primary monetary reserve/savings asset) leads to friction, an inevitable conflict of interests between the real economy and the financial one.

Also, more than 15 years ago, FOA identified the dollar system itself as the cause of retarded economic growth. He said "the narrow margins it produces [in the real economy outside of the US/dollar-based financial one] shut down entire economies." He wrote, "This brilliant, modern free trade system and all of its benefits cannot be implemented using the US dollar as a reserve currency. It shuts off commerce…" See the quote at the top of this post! He also wrote that the $IMFS leaves "entire countries economically impaired in an effort to maintain the fictional valuations of 'US assets'."

"Shuts off commerce", "economically impaired"; does this sound like the economic stagnation we are experiencing? From the quote at the top: "Commodity usage creates real things and helps the lives of real people. When citizens gain real productive mechanisms, they hold real wealth." He's talking about productive businesses that generate income and create the "demand" for other goods and services that is lacking today when he says they hold real wealth. And the dollar reserve system, says FOA, prevents such "demand" from growing while maintaining "the fictional valuations of 'US assets'."

“Effective demand is dead in the water” and the effort to boost it via bond buying “has not worked,” said Mr. Greenspan. Boosting asset prices, however, has been “a terrific success.” [11]

That's from the Wall Street Journal reporting on an interview that Alan Greenspan gave at the CFR one month ago in which he was asked about Larry Summers' secular stagnation hypothesis. As I said at the top, there is wide agreement that "effective demand is dead in the water" right now. What there's not much agreement on is why, what to do about it, and whether or not it's a "secular" (long term) problem.

It's easy to believe that saving and investing are merely different ends of a preference continuum of "demand for safe assets" in which an overall shift toward investing spurs economic growth, while a shift toward saving or "safe assets" puts on the brakes. It's what virtually every economist believes. If that's what you believe, then the cause of this economic stagnation must be one of several explanations for the overall shift towards saving and deleveraging. And the cure, depending on whether you believe it to be a secular problem or not, can range from "we just have to be patient" to more government deficit spending and the official embrace of higher inflation rates to encourage spending, consumption and capital investment while discouraging saving.

If you can raise the inflation rate, then that makes the real rate of return on safe assets even more negative, which should cause savers to either spend or invest rather than sitting in "safe assets" that are losing value in real terms. That's the theory anyway, and here are Larry Summers' prescriptions:

What is to be done?

Broadly, to the extent that secular stagnation is a problem, there are two possible strategies for addressing its pernicious impacts.

• The first is to find ways to further reduce real interest rates.

These might include operating with a higher inflation rate target so that a zero nominal rate corresponds to a lower real rate. Or it might include finding ways such as quantitative easing that operate to reduce credit or term premiums. These strategies have the difficulty of course that even if they increase the level of output, they are also likely to increase financial stability risks, which in turn may have output consequences.

• The alternative is to raise demand by increasing investment and reducing saving.

This operates to raise the FERIR and so to promote financial stability as well as increased output and employment. How can this be accomplished? Appropriate strategies will vary from country to country and situation to situation. But they should include increased public investment, reductions in structural barriers to private investment and measures to promote business confidence, a commitment to maintain basic social protections so as to maintain spending power, and measures to reduce inequality and so redistribute income towards those with a higher propensity to spend. [8]

Some economists think that all we need is Summers' second prescription, primarily sufficient fiscal stimulus (i.e., much more government deficit spending), but Paul Krugman particularly likes the first one, the higher inflation rate target, so much so that he gave a presentation titled "Inflation Targets Reconsidered" on May 27, 2014 at an ECB Forum in Portugal. In the presentation, he argued for raising the inflation target from 2% to 4% or even higher. Here is the beginning of that presentation [brackets are mine]:

Inflation Targets Reconsidered

Over the course of the 1990s many of the world’s central banks converged on an inflation target of 2 percent. Why 2 percent, rather than 1 or 3? The target wasn’t arrived at via a particularly scientific process, but for a time 2 percent seemed to make both economic and political sense. On one side, it seemed high enough to render concerns about hitting the zero lower bound mostly moot; on the other, it was low enough to satisfy most of those worried about the distortionary effects of inflation. It was also low enough that those who wanted true price stability — zero inflation — could be deflected with the argument that official price statistics understated quality change, and that true inflation was in fact close to zero.

And as it was widely adopted, the 2 percent target also, of course, acquired the great advantage of conventionality: central bankers couldn’t easily be accused of acting irresponsibly when they had the same inflation target as everyone else.

More recently, however, the 2 percent target has come under much more scrutiny. The main reason is the experience of the global financial crisis and its aftermath, which strongly suggests that advanced economies are far more likely to hit the zero lower bound than previously believed, and that the economic costs of that constraint on conventional monetary policy are much larger than the pre-crisis conventional wisdom. In response, a number of respected macroeconomists, notably Blanchard (2010) and, much more forcefully, Ball (2013), have argued for a sharply higher target, say 4 percent.

But do even these critics go far enough? In this paper I will argue that they don’t — that the case for a higher inflation target is in fact even stronger than the critics have argued, for at least three reasons.

First, recent research and discussion of the possibilities of “secular stagnation” (Krugman 2013, Summers 2013) and/or secular downward trends in the natural real rate of interest (IMF 2014) suggests not just that the probability of zero-lower-bound episodes is higher than previously realized, but that it is growing; an inflation target that may have been defensible two decades ago is arguably much less defensible now.

Second, there are actually two zeroes that should be taken into account in setting an inflation target: downward nominal wage rigidity isn’t as hard a constraint as the interest rate ZLB, but there is now abundant evidence that cuts in nominal wages only take place under severe pressure, which means that real or relative wage adjustment becomes much harder at low inflation. Furthermore, we now have reason to believe that the need for large changes in relative wages occurs much more frequently than previously imagined, especially in an imperfectly integrated currency union like the euro area, and that such adjustments are much easier in a moderate-inflation environment than under deflation or low inflation.

Finally — and this is the main new element in this paper — there is growing evidence that economies entering a severe slump with low inflation can all too easily get stuck in an economic and political trap, in which there is a self-perpetuating feedback loop between economic weakness and low inflation. Escaping from this feedback loop appears to require more radical economic policies than are likely to be forthcoming. As a result, a relatively high inflation target in normal times can be regarded as a crucial form of insurance, a way of foreclosing the possibility of very bad outcomes.

This paper begins with a brief review of the standard arguments for a higher inflation target, then deals in turn with each of the further arguments I have just sketched out. I conclude with some speculation about the unwillingness of many central bankers to consider revising the inflation target despite dramatic changes in our information about how modern economies behave.

1. The two zeroes

If you polled the general public about what rate of inflation we should target, the answer would probably be zero — full price stability. Some economists and central bankers would agree: either they view any erosion of the purchasing power of money as illegitimate, in effect a form of expropriation, or they argue that even mild inflation degrades money’s role as a unit of account. There is even a case for persistent deflation: Milton Friedman’s optimal quantity of money paper famously argued that prices should fall at the rate of time preference, so that the private cost of holding cash to add liquidity matches its zero social cost.

In practice, however, the great majority of both economists and central bankers advocate modest positive inflation. Why? Because of the two zeroes.

The first zero is a hard one: nominal interest rates cannot fall below zero (except for trivial deviations involving transaction costs or the role of bills as collateral), because people always have the option of holding currency. This in turn sets a lower bound on the real interest rate, which can’t fall below [zero] minus the expected rate of inflation.

Meanwhile, central banks are trying to stabilize their economies, which means trying to set policy interest rates at the Wicksellian natural rate [Summers' FERIR], the rate consistent with more or less full employment. The problem is that the real natural rate of interest clearly fluctuates over time, rising during investment booms (whether these booms are well-grounded in fundamentals or reflect bubbles), falling when economies face adverse shocks. If expected inflation is low, this raises the possibility that there will be periods in which the central bank cannot cut rates to the natural rate, leading to output below potential and excess unemployment.

A positive expected rate of inflation reduces the size of this problem, because it allows real interest rates to go negative; and the easiest way to ensure that expected inflation is positive is to pursue a monetary policy that keeps inflation stable at a modestly positive rate. [12]

Notice that he mentioned the "Wicksellian natural rate" which I noted as being the same as Summers' FERIR. This theory of interest rates was Knut Wicksell's most influential contribution to Economics, published in 1898, and it comes from the Austrian School which theorized that an economic boom happened when the natural rate of interest was higher than the market (or monetary) rate of interest. [13] The inverse would be that an economic slump, or stagnation, would happen when the natural rate (or FERIR) was lower than the market rate of interest, which Larry Summers shows that it is today.

You might be wondering why I included such a long excerpt from Paul Krugman's paper. I did that on purpose, because I thought It was very good and provided some important insight into central banking. This being a gold blog, some of you probably assume that I think Paul Krugman is always wrong, perhaps even an idiot. But that assumption would be wrong. For example, on the subject of the gold standard and the unrighteousness of hard money (see here), and on whether or not normal inflation is akin to theft (see here), I'm basically in agreement with Paul, more so than with the hard money camp. [14]

Where we differ is in our perspectives on the big picture. Think of it like this: The $IMFS is like a fishbowl, and we are all like goldfish swimming around in that confined environment, wondering why our economy has stagnated and why there's no more room to grow. Krugman, Summers and everyone else are all trying to understand the cause in order to cure the problem within the confines of the fishbowl, while the fishbowl itself is the limiting factor.

It should be no surprise that a fish, immersed in water inside a fishbowl, would not identify the glass boundary as the problem and recommend breaking it in order to grow. Most would not even be aware of the bowl, and even if they were, breaking it would seem like a suicidal means of escape. So imagine that global stagnation is a real problem, but that all 23 economists and virtually everyone else discussing its possible causes and cures are all viewing it from an inside-the-fishbowl perspective, and that what I am offering you in this post is an out-of-the-fishbowl view, even though I'm stuck inside the fishbowl just like everyone else.

What if I told you that the fishbowl is only an illusion? That even though it confines us, we remain inside its boundary not because it really exists, but because we think it exists? And what if I told you that there's a big ocean out there, just waiting for us to break free from our self-imposed confinement? Does this analogy resonate with any of you?

Remember the scene in The Matrix where the little boy is teaching Neo how to bend a spoon like Uri Geller? The boy says, "Do not try and bend the spoon… that's impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth." "What truth?" asks Neo, and the boy responds, "There is no spoon." Neo puzzles, "There is no spoon?" And the boy explains, "Then you'll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself."

I used the Matrix analogy at least once before, back in 2010, in How Can We Possibly Calculate the Future Value of Gold? Here's a quote:

"This transfer of wealth that is coming is not a direct and equal transfer. It is not like pouring one pitcher into another. It is more like flipping a switch on the virtual matrix. Turning off the monetary plane that hovers over the physical plane and claims to tell you how much "stored purchasing power" everyone has. When you turn it off, all that purchasing power disappears in a flash. And then what lies beneath is exposed in daylight, the real physical world. No real capital is destroyed, only the myth is destroyed. But true capital is exposed and revalued."

When the "virtual matrix" blinks off, which in this present analogy is a fishbowl, more than just the value of gold will be affected. $IMFS financial structures that support existing malinvestment while stifling competition will fail, uneconomical practices will face the harsh reality of the open sea, and economical ideas will have the space to grow and flourish. And lest any of you think this is a utopian dream I'm describing, I'll just add that it will be hell on wheels for many fish to adjust to the reality of the ocean.

My View

As I said, I agree with Krugman and Summers on the symptoms of global stagnation. Where I disagree is on the causes and cures. This is what my Freegold lens (my out-of-the-fishbowl perspective courtesy of FOA) reveals—a different cause and cure for today's global economic stagnation.

Okay, let's start with the low inflation problem. Remember that low inflation combined with a low or negative natural interest rate (the FERIR) leaves central banks stuck between a rock and a hard place, the rock being sluggish growth and the hard place being financial bubbles and instability. But with loose monetary policy and explosive growth in the money supply since the 1970s, what could possibly account for more than three decades of low inflation?

I'm talking about consumer price inflation here, which is where the rubber meets the road. Physical plane (the real world and the real economy) price inflation has been surprisingly low relative to growth in the monetary plane (the financial sector and the money supply). Here's how FOA described it:

FOA (10/3/01; 10:21:26MT - usagold.com msg#110)

"For decades, hard money thinkers have been looking for "price inflation" to show up at a level that accurately reflects the dollar's "printing inflation". But it never happened! Yes, we got our little 3, 4, 8 or 9% price inflation rates in nice little predictable cycles. We gasped in horror at these numbers, but these rates never came close to reflecting the total dollar expansion if at that moment it could actually be represented in total worldwide dollar debt. That creation of trillions and trillions of dollar equivalents should have, long ago, been reflected in a dollar goods "price inflation" that reached hyper status. But it didn't.

That "price inflation" never showed up because the world had to support its only money system until something could replace it. We as Americans came to think that our dollar, and its illusion of value, represented our special abilities; perhaps more pointedly our military and economic power. We conceived that this wonderful buying power, free of substantial goods price inflation, was our god given right; and the rest of the world could have this life too, if they could only be as good as us! Oh boy,,,,,, do we have some hard financial learning to do."

In a world with many different fiat currencies, the value of each one is a reflection of its economy. "Where the rubber meets the road" means where the monetary plane meets the physical plane, meaning that a currency is worth what its economy produces that can be bought with that currency. But price and value are not necessarily the same thing in the world of many different currencies.

In order to price something, you need a numéraire. So while the value of a currency is what its economy produces that can be purchased with that currency, the price of a currency is its exchange rate with other currencies from other economies. In a clean float with Freegold, I think that the price and value of each currency will be pretty close to equal, but that's not the case in the $IMFS.

The $IMFS is characterized by two things that work in tandem to not only misprice currencies relative to the physical plane, but to systemically cement the mispricing and make it cumulative over the long term rather than cyclical with periodic corrections. The two things are public- and private-sector capital flows between different currency zones. Capital flows between currency zones are monetary plane movements that cause physical plane imbalances, also known as current account or trade imbalances.

The public sector uses fiat currencies—primarily the US dollar—as international monetary system reserves, and the private sector uses fiat currencies—primarily the US dollar—as wealth items, collateral, financial reserves and savings. Private sector capital flows into the dollar and US-based dollar-denominated investments overprice the dollar relative to its physical plane value. This happens with other currencies as well, but the dollar is the one that the foreign public sector, by doing the dirty float, prevents from periodically correcting. The result is the perpetual US trade deficit that hasn't reversed in 40 years.

The perpetual US trade deficit is what reveals that the dollar is overvalued. This is caused by the foreign sector buying dollars as investments, savings and reserves. The foreign sector is divided into two subsectors, the foreign public sector and the foreign private sector. The foreign public sector is the foreign CBs, like the ECB and the PBOC. The foreign private sector is everyone else.

The foreign private sector loves all kinds of US investments, and it buys lots of dollars because of this love affair with Wall Street and the various US markets. This overvalues the dollar and causes the US trade deficit. But the foreign private sector isn't a constant source of dollar support because it acts only from the profit motive. Every once in a while, US markets come down and the foreign private sector flees out of the dollar. That's when the dollar exchange rate declines.

For the past 40+ years, certain foreign CBs have kept their currencies more or less pegged to the dollar. This meant buying dollars whenever the dollar's exchange rate declined. In effect, this acted as a "stop gap measure" for the dollar, and prevented its overvaluation from ever correcting. In effect, this exchange rate pegging with the dollar was the structural support that I write about. The foreign public sector bought dollars not with a profit motive, but for quite opposite reasons which translated into buying dollars whenever the rest of the foreign sector was fleeing from the dollar and its markets. This was structural support.

FOA (03/20/99; 11:34:12MDT - Msg ID:3615)

"Entire countries are economically impaired in an effort to maintain the fictional valuations of "US assets"! … It was the longest "stop gap measure" I have ever known to exist! A tremendous success by any standard, to keep the dollar stable for such a time. Many think it was "good old American know how" that did it. Well, now we will see…"

I apologize for repeating myself, but I think this is important. In essence, the "dirty float" or unofficial pegs to the US dollar were structural support. Not that they were primarily responsible for the overvaluation of the dollar (the foreign private sector was), but they kept it from collapsing and correcting each time the private sector retreated, including in the 2008 financial crisis. To understand how this structural support is responsible for the low inflation rate "problem", at least in dollar terms, please read this quote from FOA, as many times as it takes until it sinks in:

Friend of Another (9/22/98; 18:01:45 Msg ID:96)

"Using an overvalued dollar makes one feel as there is no inflation, even though there has been massive dollar currency inflation over the last twenty years (the real cause of price increases is when the exchange rate is allowed to balance a negative trade deficit)."

Many things, of course, can cause price inflation. Physical plane prices are really just the relative values of different things expressed using a common numéraire, and those relative values change all the time for many different supply and demand-related reasons. But overall inflation is a monetary phenomenon, a change in the price of the numéraire itself, which, as I said above, requires another numéraire. We often think of it as a case of more money versus fewer goods and services resulting in price inflation, but that's not necessarily the case when the global monetary and financial system promotes the hoarding rather than the spending of money acquired as surplus revenue.

Think about a trade surplus country like China, which has now accumulated nearly $4 trillion in foreign currency reserves. We can think of that $4T as surplus revenue that has been accumulated over the past 15 years, but the truth is that it was accumulated merely as a consequence of the dirty float of the Chinese currency. The effect was that it kept the price (the exchange rate) of the dollar elevated when it would have otherwise declined. This kept US imports cheap in dollars when they would have otherwise become more expensive, in other words, it kept US price inflation lower than it would otherwise have been. This effect is the same whether it is the foreign CBs or the foreign private sector hoarding dollars, but together, in tandem, the two sectors have kept the dollar perpetually overvalued for decades.

Another way we tend to think about inflation is as a decrease in production (supply) relative to consumption (demand) that results in an overall shortage of goods and services and therefore an overall rise in prices. But that doesn't necessarily work either. The US is a good example of an economy in which consumption (demand) is greater than production (supply), even as the US is one of the largest producers in the world. This is evident in the US trade deficit. Each month we consume about $40B more goods and services than we produce. The extra supply comes from abroad, where the rest of the world (ROW) in aggregate is producing about $40B more goods and services than it consumes each month. The ROW (in aggregate) is also buying about $40B in dollars for investment purchases, savings or monetary reserves each month.

As long as those two numbers are pretty close to each other, the US capital inflow and the US trade deficit, the dollar's exchange rate will be pretty stable. If the dollar is rising, then either the ROW is buying more dollars (capital inflow is increasing), or else US consumption (demand) is declining relative to US production (supply). Likewise, if the dollar is declining, then either the ROW is buying fewer dollars (capital inflow is decreasing or even reversing), or else US consumption is rising relative to US production. But when we look at these two variables, changes in net consumption happen relatively slowly while capital flows can literally turn on a dime.

Now, imagine that the $40B per month capital inflow suddenly stopped. You can imagine any number of causes, but perhaps a dramatic stock market correction would suffice. It doesn't even need to reverse and become a capital outflow, so you can imagine the money that's "already inside the US" running to the "safety" of Treasuries while money that's not already in dollars finds greener pastures elsewhere. As I've laid it out for you here, it should be clear that the dollar's price (its exchange rate) would plunge toward its physical plane value. The dollar's current price is based on a constant monetary inflow each and every month, not a balance of trade, so if that inflow stops, the price of a dollar drops.

When that happens, even if no price tags are changed inside or outside of the US, the prices of imports from the ROW will appear to have risen from the perspective of the dollar holder. And if the price tag of a net-import like oil which is priced in dollars isn't changed, then it will appear to have declined from the perspective of the foreign oil producer, so it will have to be raised. I hope you can see the "relativistic" effect on the prices of imports and exports when currency prices (exchange rates) change. While US imports will appear more expensive from inside the US, US exports will appear cheaper from the perspective of the ROW, and this relativistic (relative to your frame of reference) effect is present without changing any local price tags.

I don't want to spend too much time on this point, but what it means is that, in an open system with many different fiat currencies, the two things which I said characterize the $IMFS subjugate, supersede and overpower local inflation drivers. Those two things, once again, are oversized private sector international capital flows and their structural counterpart, public sector capital flows known as the dirty float. As FOA said, "the real cause of price increases is when the exchange rate is allowed to balance a negative trade deficit." In the present case, the cause of price stability in the $IMFS is the dirty float, in which exchange rates are not allowed to balance trade.

In a clean float, you'd have more closely balanced trade, and therefore the local inflation drivers targeted by monetary policy would begin to reassert their influence. Private sector capital flows would still have an effect, but it would correct periodically. And because changes occur more slowly in the physical than in the monetary plane, imbalances driven by private sector financial drifts would not become structural, cumulative and therefore systemically dangerous. Furthermore, and I hope to get into this more later, the predicted transition implies a smaller financial sector, smaller international capital flows, and a shift from financial pyramids and volatility churning into real economic enterprises as the most profitable focus for "hot money".

People, especially economists, tend to think they understand the causes of inflation. What I am proposing to you here is that, inside the $IMFS fishbowl, most of them are wrong, or at least what they understand theoretically is subjugated globally by the $IMFS and the dirty float. Look no farther than the US to see this in action. Here's the official inflation rate in the US for the last 30 years, from 1984-2014:

During that time, the US population grew by 35% and household incomes grew by 100%, meaning they doubled nominally. But that low inflation rate compounds to about 130% total over 30 years, which means household incomes haven't changed in real terms in 30 years, at least by the official inflation rate. But even though our incomes merely doubled in nominal terms, we spent as if they skyrocketed as shown in the 1,200% growth of total US debt to almost $60T:

As a consequence of all of that deficit spending, our cumulative checking accounts (basically the money supply aggregate that should affect consumer prices) grew by 900%, and our monetary base grew by 2,000% while cumulative consumer price inflation was only 130%. If this seems to violate what you thought you understood about the causes of inflation, you are not alone.

In my view, where we are today is stuck in a physical plane (real economy) that is subjugated, superseded, overpowered by and therefore subservient to the monetary plane (oversized financial capital flows). We have actually achieved a remarkable level of price stability for most of the world and for a very long time, but at what cost? In my view, there are two big costs, persistent economic stagnation in a relatively stable price environment, and inevitable periodic currency collapse.

Price stability mandates are only a means to an end which is a healthy and sustainable real economy, and yet, almost ironically, today's price stability continues at the cost of global economic stagnation. But this economic rut that we're in is not the only cost. Price inflation has been within acceptable levels for a very long time, aside from the occasional currency collapse or hyperinflation. And that's the second cost: the occasional currency collapses and bouts of hyperinflation.

You see, structural imbalances leave our landscape of many currencies vulnerable to abrupt and devastating corrections. It's like the tectonic plates on which we all live. The immense pressure that builds up around the edges is belied by the stable ground we feel most of the time, but every once in a while those plates correct themselves with disastrous effects.

Even with a higher target inflation rate like Krugman and Summers both recommend, monetary policy would likely have little or no effect as it stands today. In fact, we can see with our own eyes that it has little effect, as central banks have printed trillions in new reserves, practically monetizing consumption directly in some cases, while lowering both short and long term key interest rates to unprecedented lows, and still no effect on inflation.

Some have suggested that, in the case of Europe, the monetization of a broader range of assets, including gold, might be appropriate for monetary policy easing [15]. But all that does is raise demand for the monetized assets, likely raising the price, and in the case of gold causing inflow from other currency zones thereby putting downward pressure on the price of the currency itself. These kinds of purchases do not raise consumption, demand or create new borrowers, but instead they simply transfer existing purchasing power from the economy to prior asset holders. (And in the case of gold, CB purchases beyond a prudent reserve level are just currency manipulations that punish the workers in the economy while actually incentivizing lower consumption as more people will elect to forego current expenditures in order to buy gold: "Gold has always been funny in that way. So many people worldwide think of it as money, it tends to dry up as the price rises." - Another).

Even if they could get inflation up, I doubt that it would have the intended effect on the real economy. A certain rate of price inflation may well accompany the kind of economic growth that economists and central planners desire, but I'm not sure causation works in the direction they hope it does. In other words, economic growth may cause inflation, but inflation does not cause real economic growth. Here is a concrete example of what I mean:

By 1933, the annual US inflation rate was below -10%. Prices had fallen 60%, industrial production was down by half, millions were homeless and a quarter of the workforce was unemployed. FDR's inauguration on March 4, 1933 marked the lowest point in the worst depression in history, and it also occurred in the middle of a bank run. By the end of that day, 32 of the 48 states had already closed their banks, and the very next day, the day after his inauguration, FDR declared a four-day national bank holiday while Congress worked out a change in the dollar monetary system.

That monetary change of rules stopped price deflation in its tracks. By May, the monthly rate of inflation hit an annualized rate of 10%, and it even hit 40% annualized in June. [16]

The positive inflation rate, however, did little for the real economy in which unemployment remained in double digits until WWII. Five years after FDR's inauguration, Alvin Hansen would propose his secular stagnation hypothesis, and only gearing up for war in 1941 would finally drag the US economy out of its rut, and unemployment back down to low single digits.

During the post-war years of 1946-1953, with the US economy roaring on its own, cranking out a trade surplus with Europe as evident in the gold inflow which peaked in 1952 (see Fiat 33), we saw some of the highest price inflation rates ever, reaching 20% in 1947 and 10% in 1951. The point, once again, is that even though inflation may well accompany periods of economic growth, it does not follow that higher inflation rates cause higher economic growth.

Money Hoarding

For that matter, neither does low inflation—also known as price stability—cause economic growth. In my view, today's price stability has the same cause as today's low interest rates, which is also the same cause as today's global stagnation. As I've said many times before, correlation does not imply causation, and the treating of symptoms rarely cures the disease.

The "cause" that I am referring to is massive, systemic and global money hoarding. Money, at its essence, is credit. It is the credibility of future production revenue made spendable in the present (see Moneyness 2: Money is Credit). That is how new money comes into being, and then it circulates right along with the rest of the money pool as a medium of exchange in the present.

The hoarding of such credits, however, overvalues the unit of account itself, as the credits that are not hoarded enjoy a present purchasing power that would otherwise be lower if all existing "fungible credibility" circulated, and such credits were only held as short term balances rather than as wealth reserves. Hoarding, by the way, includes re-lending the credits to someone else, which is the primary way money is hoarded.

The re-lending of credits earned as surplus revenue simulates the money creation process without actually creating any new money, again overvaluing the unit itself as the credits enjoy a present purchasing power that would otherwise be lower if new money had actually been created. Re-lending is fine and normal to a degree. That degree is where it is done professionally, with one's own surplus revenue.

Where it becomes hazardous is when it is done systemically and passively by savers who leave it up to someone else to determine the lending standards. All of this money circulates in the same pool, so using credits as the system's reserves and the passive savings of virtually everyone in the world crowds the banks and professional investors within the financial and monetary arena. This crowding pushes the banks and professional investors into riskier and more questionable activities in order to make a living.

The result is low interest rates (because there is too much money competing for a limited pool of credible borrowers), lower lending standards (because passive money is being managed by people who make an up-front percentage and then have no more skin in the game), low inflation (because the process itself systematically overvalues the currency on an ongoing and cumulative basis), and economic stagnation (once debt and malinvestment levels reach a certain point of saturation). That's where we are today, in my view, on a global scale.

Money hoarded as savings or foreign reserves must find a vehicle to be hoarded into. This creates a massively oversized and passively generic demand for debt and equity investment vehicles, which leads to bubbles, malinvestment, debt saturation, across-the-board unprofitability, and ultimately to persistent economic stagnation where uneconomic and unprofitable businesses continue operating at a loss just to service their debt, and in some cases where government stimulus is involved, just to keep people employed. We see this happening everywhere today, even in China.

It is a vicious feedback loop, and it only gets worse as the viability of new products becomes secondary to their corporate presence in the investment markets. One of the main criticisms of the secular stagnation hypothesis, which I mentioned earlier, is that innovation and growth in the IT sector is underappreciated by economists. But just consider how many of the new rising stars in the tech industry are more about the business of selling shares than creating real economic value.

In essence, global savings (because in the $IMFS "savings" is defined as money hoarding) has outstripped profitable investment opportunities. There are more "savings" in the world today than there are truly-economic opportunities to make a profit, therefore the very act of saving for the future today worsens imprudent lending standards, inflates valuation bubbles in overpriced (and therefore unprofitable) industries, and promotes the illusion of new rising stars of productivity like Pets.com and Candy Crush.

In supply and demand terms, there is too much savings relative to investment opportunities that are profitable due to real economic value creation. The return on "savings" (interest in the case of debt and dividends or profits in the case of equity) is low because there is too much supply (savings) relative to demand (profitable opportunities). These are exactly the conditions in which bubbles arise—when "savings" or investment capital are in overabundance.

If you think it's good for the economy or for society in general to loan your surplus revenue to someone else, or to buy a company's stock, or even to stuff it in your mattress for later, guess again. You are part of the problem. If you're willing to give it away and forget about it, that's fine, but if you're hoping to reclaim that purchasing power at some point in the future, you are only adding to the congestion that is bringing the global economy to a standstill.

FOA (3/14/99; 16:17:55MDT - Msg ID:3362)

"Ironically, the very prospect of free world trade, so fought for by the American Administration, is the condition that the IMF/dollar system cannot handle! The debt built up from all of the past, unfree, protectionist old world trade is killing the transition. The policy is to sell free trade and the narrow margins it produces as they shut down entire economies because the low profits cannot service the old debt. Do you follow the logic and the problem? This brilliant, modern free trade system and all of its benefits cannot be implemented using the US dollar as a reserve currency. It shuts off commerce that in turn limits the use of commodities such as oil, metals, food and the like. Many hail the low price inflation in the US as a victory and ignore the intent other nations had in following "free trade". That being to promote a world economy, not just a US economy.

Enter the Euro! Understand that the increased use of commodities is a good thing. It's not just for the purpose of making a rising chart pattern so speculators can sell their calls! Commodity usage creates real things and helps the lives of real people. When citizens gain real productive mechanisms, they hold real wealth. Some would have you believe that third world people are enriched by saving US treasury bonds, not true! The only way to increase world trade, with an eye on building new consumers in all countries, is to remove the overhang of "dollar settlement".

The US started the free trade movement but quickly backed away when it was realized that the US currency, backed by debt through the fractional reserve system, would suffer severe inflation in the transition. Government guarantees would require the treasury (and Fed) to print unbelievable amounts of new currency to cover the unserviceable debt that Free Trade would create!"

FOA (03/20/99; 11:34:12MDT - Msg ID:3615)

"It was understood some time ago that the $US would indeed become "debted out" as digital currencies go. It was the logical conclusion to the world reserve money being removed from the gold exchange standard… We arrive at the final result today, with the dollar so expanded that it is failing the "free trade conversion" the world so craves. Entire countries are economically impaired in an effort to maintain the fictional valuations of "US assets"! …

It was the longest "stop gap measure" I have ever known to exist! A tremendous success by any standard, to keep the dollar stable for such a time. Many think it was "good old American know how" that did it. Well, now we will see "who knows how" as the world unwinds all of this dollar debt! …

As it is, this is created through BIS manipulations of foreign exchange (dirty float) and official money flows out of all non reserve currencies … One might have expected that others (as in the markets) would already be deducing the "secret moves" and re-evaluating the value of the dollar accordingly… this is not a "New York day trade", but rather a world money transformation that will affect you "down to the shoes on your feet"… Also, history usually documents that the most earth moving events were obvious, all along, but no one believed them!"

The Cure

The cure for global stagnation, I think, is very simple. In fact, unlike Krugman and Summers, I don't have a prescription. What would be my recommendation is already happening, so I only have a prediction for how and why it will end.

There is a common misconception that the sale of foreign goods and services in exchange for US dollars is what overvalues the dollar—foreign oil priced in dollars being the prime example, but China has also been selling other goods in exchange for dollars for a long time. In other words, it is a misconception that the international use of dollars as a medium of exchange is what keeps the $IMFS going.

This misconception, sometimes called the petrodollar theory, is so common that it is ubiquitous, not just in the conspiratard community, but in the mainstream as well. So I'm going to explain briefly the truth of the matter. You will need to understand this if you would like to accurately understand how and why it will end.

There are two ways for the foreign sector to buy dollars. One is by trading goods and services for them, and the other is through the foreign currency exchange. So, as a foreigner, you can buy dollars either with goods and services or with another currency. I'm not even necessarily talking about trade directly with the US, because you can buy dollars from other foreigners in both of these ways as well.

The US trades more than $2.2T worth of goods and services with the rest of the world each year. We export $2.2T worth of goods and services, and in exchange for them we also import $2.2T worth of goods and services. Dollars are the medium of exchange for all of them so, as you can imagine, there is a large pool of dollars circulating internationally. Think of it like this: A foreign exporter buys dollars with his goods and services, and then he sells the dollars to a foreign importer (in exchange for the local currency) who then uses the dollars to buy goods and services from the US. This happens each year to the tune of more than $2.2T.

In my scenario, you have $2.2T in dollars being bought with goods and services, and another $2.2T being bought with foreign currency (by the foreign importers who buy goods and services from the US). That would be balanced trade if that was all that was happening, but it's not. At the foreign currency exchange, where dollars are bought with foreign currency (rather than goods and services), there is also another group of dollar buyers competing with the foreign importers.

For simplicity's sake, let's call this second group the foreign investors and central banks. On average for the last several years, this group has bought about $500B each year which it has used for purposes other than buying goods and services. In 2006, this group's dollar buying peaked at an all-time high of about $750B, but for the last six years it has averaged almost exactly $500B per year. Instead of buying goods and services, these dollars were purchased in order to be hoarded, i.e., to buy dollar-denominated financial assets, like US stocks, bonds, Treasuries, real estate and foreign direct investment (FDI) inside the US.

The easiest way to understand the effect I'm trying to explain is to picture this second group bidding against the first group. The first group is foreign importers who buy $2.2T each year to be used to buy US goods and services. The second group is foreign investors and CBs who buy $500B each year to be used to buy US financial investments (aka IOUs). Together, they represent a foreign sector demand for $2.7T in dollars per year, which overvalues the dollar and causes the physical plane imbalance more commonly called the US trade deficit.

As I said above, we (the US) export $2.2T and we import $2.2T worth of goods and services. But we also import an extra $500B worth of goods and services which meets that extra demand for dollars from the second group, the foreign investors and central banks. Those extra imports are our trade deficit, and the important point here is that our trade deficit is caused solely by that extra demand for dollars from the second group, the foreign investors and foreign CBs. It is not caused by the fact that so many goods worldwide can be purchased in dollars that most American importers aren't even aware that other currencies exist.

The fact that many goods and services worldwide—once again oil being the prime example—can be purchased with US dollars does play a supporting role, but it is not the cause of the dollar's overvaluation. And in order to accurately understand how and why the $IMFS, and therefore global stagnation, will end, you need to understand its true cause. Oil being priced in dollars supports the dollar's overvaluation only insofar as the foreign oil producers themselves choose to hoard the dollars they earn as surplus revenue.

Secondarily, it provides the central banks engaged in the dirty float a false pretense for their excessive purchases of US dollars. You'd be surprised at how many people actually believe that China bought trillions of dollars as a rainy-day reserve fund simply because oil, food and many other global necessities are priced in dollars.

The cause of the dollar's overvaluation is the exorbitant hoarding of dollars by foreigners, including both foreign investors (which, yes, includes some of the foreign oil producers, though not to a great extent) and foreign central banks doing the dirty float. And of those two (foreign investors and foreign CBs), it is the CBs that were the cause of the perpetuation which lasted many decades, because they were the ones who bought dollars when everyone else was not.

Eliminate that particular cause, and you don't immediately eliminate the overvaluation, but you do end its perpetuation. And that's where I think we are today.

There have been a number of articles lately, both in the conspiratard media and in the mainstream, like this, this and this, about how the plunging price of oil spells doom for the dollar. $45 oil didn't doom the system in 2009, nor did $26 oil in 2001 or $16 oil in 1998, and $68 oil isn't going to doom it today. Something else is. The oil narrative is predicated on the common misconception that I outlined above, and is therefore wrong. But that doesn't mean the system is not doomed, it only reveals an inaccurate understanding of how and why it will end.

According to the narrative in those articles I linked, the fat lady should have already sung, if not in 2008, then at least in 2012, 2013, or at the beginning of this year at the latest. Yet the dollar is stronger than it has been in four years, the stock market is soaring at all-time highs, our trade deficit is currently above its six-year average at $516B annualized, and official price inflation is holding steady at 1.7%. There must be a better narrative, and there is.

Here's a chart by the French bank BNP Paribas from the Reuters article above. It shows what it calls "petrodollar exports" which it says were negative this year for the first time in 18 years.

Like I said, if this were the whole picture, then the fat lady would have already sung, but it's not and she hasn't… yet. I think this chart is misleading in many ways. "Petrodollar exports" is supposed to mean dollars spent on foreign oil priced in dollars that were then "recycled" back into US financial markets and other dollar-denominated debt. But all it really shows is foreign private sector dollar investment from part of the ROW. Excluded from the chart are Japan, Europe and the foreign CBs.

Look at 2008 in the chart. The blue is Asia excluding Japan, and it's negative in 2008. Yet 2008 was the PBOC's second-largest dollar buying spree ever, with an accumulation of $250B in Treasuries that year. The PBOC surpassed 2008 two years later in 2010 by buying $265B that year, and notice that the entire "petrodollar exports" for 2010 in that chart don't even total $200B. I don't have the data for the chart, but it looks like about $185B for 2010. In 2010, our trade deficit was $499B. $265B was purchased by the PBOC, and about $185B from "petrodollar exports", for a total of $450B. Something must be missing, and it is. Europe's private sector!

Notice, also, that those two years, 2008 and 2010, contained big dips in the dollar's price. In 2008, the dollar hit its all-time low of 71.5, and in 2010, it plunged from 88 in June down to 76 in October, a 14% plunge reminiscent of 1978 (see "Q2 1978" in Dirty Float). Remember I said that CBs doing the dirty buy dollars when everyone else is running away? Well it appears that the PBOC did just that, and it's not in that petrodollar chart.

Here's another chart, this one by Frank Knopers of Marketupdate.nl. It doesn't entirely complete the picture, but it fills in a good portion of what's missing:

This chart is only Treasuries, and you'll notice it's quite large precisely where the "petrodollar exports" one was small, and small where the petrodollar one was large. In this chart, Asia is red, and you'll notice how it dominates in 2008-2011 while in the last chart, where Asia was blue, it was but a minor concern. Also look at 2006, and how it's actually the lowest point in the past decade in this chart while it was the highest point in the last one.

We're looking at an incomplete picture in both of these charts, and also if we take them together the picture is still incomplete. That's because the total capital flow includes sectors, markets and actors that are not accounted for on either one of these charts. But if we understand how the balance of payments works, then we know that the physical plane trade deficit is the sum total of the monetary plane (capital) flows, of which these two charts merely give us a partial view.

Now imagine that the monetary plane "capital inflow" into the US suddenly stopped, turned on a dime, panicked, or whatever… it just vanished—poof. It would look something like this:

Notice that the numbers no longer balance. Suddenly the US is trying to import $2.7T in goods and services while only exporting $2.2T in goods and services. This puts an extra $500B in dollars per year into the foreign sector for which there is no longer a demand. As I said above, the demand caused the flow in the first place and, because the foreign public and private sectors worked in tandem, perpetuated it for decades. But, remember I also said that changes in net consumption happen slowly while capital flows can literally turn on a dime. The inertial differential between the two planes is critical in this instance.

One way or another, however, those numbers will balance in short order. Perhaps the red numbers could drop from $2.7T to $2.2T, or the black numbers could increase to $2.7T. Think about what would have to happen in short order, in real terms, for either of those scenarios to work. To foresee how these two numbers will reconcile, you must think in real, physical plane terms. You must think about those numbers representing a real volume of goods and services flowing in either direction, and the inertia of the demand to keep that real volume unchanged.

What you'll find, if you play out this thought experiment honestly, is that the weakest link in the whole system, the one that will lose its grip and make those numbers meet, is where the rubber meets the road—the prices that connect the dollar to the physical plane of goods and services. First the price of a dollar (its exchange rate) will slip, because there is suddenly a $2.7T supply meeting a $2.2T demand. This will have two initial effects. 1. It will send more dollars back to the US bidding up the price of US goods and services (real price inflation). 2. It will make those US imports appear relatively more expensive from the frame of reference of the dollar holder (relativistic price inflation).

Normally, this would mean a quick devaluation of the dollar, say for simplicity of calculation, by 50% or something. If that happened, you'd see those numbers rising quickly, but with the black numbers rising faster than the red until they meet at $4.4T (a 50% devaluation of the dollar). In real terms, US exports would have remained the same, but US imports would have shrunk from what would have been $5.4T after the devaluation to only $4.4T, an 18.5% reduction in imports in real terms, and a 100% reduction in net consumption by the US as a whole.

The sudden elimination of net consumption by the US as a whole is what FOA called "crashing our lifestyle," but he added in the very next sentence: "Something our currency management policy will confront with dollar printing to avert." A simple devaluation of the dollar would not only eliminate our trade deficit immediately, but in the case of the dollar because it is the global standard for savings and reserves totaling more than $60T, it would deliver a global haircut in real terms to the value of those savings and reserves. Nominally they would still be the same, but their real value would have been halved.

That, alone, would probably be enough to start a cascading avalanche of panic out of dollar holdings that would take the dollar much lower than the initial devaluation. But what FOA wrote—"Something our currency management policy will confront with dollar printing to avert"—is even more true today than when he wrote it and will, in my view, precede and amplify the avalanche, making the US dollar look more like the Zimbabwe dollar than the krona, peso or ruble in the end.

The reason I say it is more true today than when he wrote it is that, when he wrote it, the US private sector was the primary net consumer. But ever since the 2008 financial crisis, the US private sector is no longer a net consumer. We have, in essence, already "crashed our lifestyle." Yet the US as a whole, which in sectoral terms means the US private sector plus the US public sector (the USG), hasn't crashed its lifestyle at all.

Beginning in 2009, the net consumption of the US public sector, the US federal government, with net consumption defined as spending in excess of income, has been equal to or greater than the net consumption of the US public and private sectors combined. Stated simply, the USG's budget deficit has been equal to or greater than the US trade deficit for the last six years.

What this means, if you play out my thought experiment honestly, is that "the sudden elimination of net consumption" will be borne entirely, or at least almost entirely, by the one entity that can unilaterally, not unlike Mugabe, "confront with dollar printing to avert" (or at least attempt to avoid) bearing the brunt of that crash of lifestyle. That singular entity is the USG, and that's the basis for my view of how the US dollar will come to look more like the Zimbabwe dollar in the end.

FOA (3/17/2000; 9:16:57MT - usagold.com msg#13)

"We are only just now arriving at a time period that will bring about "The Currency Wars". Everything prior to this was only a preparation period to build an alternative currency. The years spent traveling this road were done to prepare the world for an escape medium when the dollar finally began its "price" hyper-inflation stage.

Few investors can "grasp" that in reality, our dollar has already been hyper inflated , but without the higher price effects. Years of deficit spending, over borrowing, debt expansion have created an illusion that the dollar was immune to price inflation. This illusion is evident in our massive trade deficit as it carries on with no negative effects on dollar exchange rates. Clearly other investors, outside the Central Banks were helping in the dollar support process without knowing they were buying into a dying currency system.

The only thing that kept this process from showing up in the prices of everyday goods was the support other Central Banks showed for our currency through exchange intervention. As I pointed out in my other writings, this support was convoluted at best and done over 15 to 20 years. Still, it's been done with a purpose all this time. That purpose was to maintain the dollar for world economic trade, without which we would all sink into depression…

The first signs that official dollar support is winding down is seen in real world pricing and official policy. The most obvious "first" price sensitive arena to reflect a "real coming inflation" is not gold as so many think, it's the stock markets. Their long term bull run, mostly starting around the early 80s completely reflected this official sanction of world dollar expansion without price inflation. It's only in the last year that we can see where equity markets are telegraphing a transition into dollar expansion "without world support". Better said, major price inflation is coming on a level equal to hyper status. Many stock markets have headed straight up in reflection of this."

Trail Guide (03/22/00; 07:53:28MDT - Msg ID:27266)

"The whole system is spiraling out of control now. We just call it the end of a currencies "timeline" and leave it at that. Most everyone else will eventually call it the beginning of dollar hyperinflation."

FOA (9/23/2000; 9:26:10MD - usagold.com msg#39)

"Again; it's the dollar that's caught in a vice because its exchange value is rising while its native buying power is somewhat the same. In order to balance the dollar's strength, native goods prices should be falling. By staying the same, its effects on our exchange rate process makes the local price of US goods ever more noncompetitive to sell to world markets…

Left on its own, such a process would expose the dollar structure to the bankrupt / hyper inflated position it has been in for many years. The US trade deficit would grow until the flow of dollars destroys our dollar reserve system. From where I swim in the ocean (in deep water), this is exactly the unending process we have embarked on. This time it will not reverse…

Truly, the ECB is not interested in "crashing" the system, rather let's "transition" the system into a more fair order. If intervention is needed, it's needed to keep the American economy from failing too fast from the coming hyperinflation of its currency. If the ECB is worried about the "exchange rate" being too far out of whack, it's a worry about its effect in generating a dollar system meltdown from deficit trade. Not a total failure of the Euro as so many report. When the time comes, and it will; the dollar will begin its fall away from its own past policy failure. Until that time, for the benefit of oil producers and many others, let's move as far down this Euro/gold trail as possible. Without a breakdown."

Trail Guide (10/07/00; 21:53:36MT - usagold.com msg#: 38526)

"I expect to see the Euro Zone taking off with some price inflation and a declining trade surplus heading toward deficit. All the while the US goes hyper with mountains of dollars coming home. And I don't mean coming home for investment. I mean coming home to exercise delivery against real US produced goods. I expect that before this is over, we (US) might be forced to use our gold card to help devalue the dollar. That would involve a forced restructuring of the gold markets so as to make gold rise. A few political heads would roll if this takes place. Believe it!"

Trail Guide (10/21/00; 08:50:07MT - usagold.com msg#: 39569)

"Once the ball starts rolling, it's good bye dollar overvaluation,,,,, and hello US hyper inflation. Especially if we want to keep our DOW and financial structure away from bookkeeping failure. Roaring prices for goods, yes, but bookkeeping failure, no! This is how a real inflation plays out!"

Trail Guide (10/24/00; 10:58:56MT - usagold.com msg#: 39784)

"Our currency will be lowered to non reserve status no matter what route we take. Just as in many other historic examples and present examples around the world, nation states always choose hyperinflation when no other way out is offered. No nation on earth has ever cascaded themselves into deflation once they are off the gold money system."

FOA (12/02/00; 11:40:02MD - usagold.com msg#49)

"Thoughts spoken with a background of coming hyperinflation—

It's almost impossible to compare our (FOA & Another) outcome of all this to other opinions because we have built our actions and testimony upon the one-way flow of this timeline transition.

We say "one way and one way only" and waver not! Own physical gold and position one's other interests with regards to a changing reserve currency dynamic.

Most every commentary written that is somewhat at odds with us, uses a foundation of a continued sound dollar financial structure as its base. Be it; deflation alone and/or deflation with some return to a gold exchange standard OR a total failure of other world bodies to reach for other acceptable alternative structures. Some say a little inflation will arrive and lift all boats within a "more of the same" dollar world. Indeed, their boats include a paper gold system and its ongoing use by the gold producing industry. All of these concepts are yesterday's outcomes and will be washed away in this great storm…

In our time and for the first time in the modern US dollar history, the US will embark into a classic hyperinflation for the sake of retaining its own lessened dollar for trade use. As destructive as that might be to players in this financial house, it is better than immediate total economic failure. It will evolve in a form much like the course of any other third world country, if its currency too was suddenly deprived of world reserve status. We will, like people the world over, learn to live with it and live in it. Truly, our dollar and economy will not go away, but its function, use and value will change dramatically."

Trail Guide (05/12/01; 09:57:47MT - usagold.com msg#: 53470)

"I know that far too many think the system is healthy enough to go on forever maintaining their lifestyle. It won't. Currency systems come and go with time and our dollar is being phased out. Eventually, as the next reserve system unfolds, our US inflation rate will spike into hyper status. Not because the dollar or our economy is suddenly nonfunctional, but because all the past "inflation tax deficits" that we built up over decades will come due. Then, not only the price of using our fiat system will be exposed,,,,, the price of all the political bailouts and American lifestyle enhancements will come due also. It will require a hugh devaluation of the dollar to cover this debt. It will appear to us as a sudden, hyperinflation, imposed on us by an unfair, European government,,,, out to get us."

FOA (06/12/01; 11:23:21MT - usagold.com msg#77)

"As the dollar tumbles on exchange markets, so too will our cost rise to produce anything (massive hyper price inflation). Rendering a net / net non gain in world trade advantage."

Trail Guide (06/12/01; 19:26:58MT - usagold.com msg#: 55977)

"Do you know how many national currencies in the world today experience an average of over 20% inflation rates? Do you know how many of those nations also experience almost hyper rates? More than a few, my friend. The point is that even in super inflation dynamics, modern people still use the fiat. Even as the governments lop off zeros weekly. Sure everyone has gold and hard dollars,,,,, but they don't spend them as much as they do their currency notes.

My point is that we will all be doing just as in Mexico; spending pesos while holding dollars and gold. Only in America we will be saving gold, putting aside Euros and spending inflating dollars. When the dollar goes completely hyper, we will resort to Euros, not gold or silver. The times have changed, my friend, you are fighting a war that will not begin. The world will use only one hard metal as wealth, gold! Because as Randy puts it: "we don't need a redundant wealth asset to hold in reserve". Silver is a good commodity but has no future in either the Euro System asset structure or my private wealth. Gold is the place to be and the events to follow will show this to be true."

FOA (07/27/01; 15:20:44MT - usagold.com msg#85)

"Make no mistake, we are not calling for price inflation to end the dollar's reserve reign! We are calling for "inflationary policy" to dethrone it while said hyperinflation follows…

The very changes needed in our money universe, today, would kill dollar demand by devaluing all dollar assets in super higher gold prices. The debts and the dollars would remain; only 90% of their current illusion of value would vanish. Hyperinflation in prices of all wealth objects will be the workout result of this process. As such, opposing dollar political motive will force the US to give the markets what is needed; both gold and gold prices beyond imagination."

FOA (11/2/01; 12:35:27MT - usagold.com msg#128)

"The evolution of Political will is now driving the dollar into an end time hyper inflation from where we will not return. That is our call. Bet your wealth on the other theorist's call if you want more of their last 30 years of hard money success."

This hyperinflationary picture I paint (and if you'd like to read more about it, I'd recommend these three posts as a good place to start) may seem extreme and inconceivable, but I don't think it is. Nor do I think it is all that bad. As there are usually two sides to everything, there's a good side to dollar hyperinflation as well! ;D

Yes, it will destroy probably close to $100T in savings and monetary reserves worldwide (not counting all the fancy derivatives), but it will also destroy the debt those savings and reserves are built upon. And in so doing, it will destroy the virtual fishbowl that today confines the global economy, holding it in a state of secular stagnation. Yes, this is the cure, and like I said, I don't have a prescription for making it happen because what would be my recommendation is already happening.

As to whether or not it will happen, my view is unequivocally that it is absolutely and positively inevitable. As for when, my view that it could happen at any moment is more than just a feeling and a realization that it's decades overdue. It is, in fact, informed by two simple but important things.

First, all of the US markets are "already badly overpriced", while the foreign markets "are less so". So says Jeremy Grantham in his latest "Bubble Watch Update" newsletter. Grantham's firm has more than $112B in assets under management, and he has built his reputation on correctly identifying bubbles as they were happening. [17] Yet all signs are that the foreign private sector is still piling into the dollar short-bus as if it's the only ride in town. The miraculous dollar and its many markets are doing quite well, even as a correction like we haven't seen in at least six years appears to be on the horizon. That would be one of those times when, over the last several decades at least, the foreign public sector stepped in and bought precisely what everyone else was running away from… the dollar. But will it happen this time?

I don't think so, and that's the second thing. All signs are that the dirty float is finished. The ECB has made it quite clear that it will not be interfering with exchange rates anymore, and so have many other central banks. Even in the face of epic weakness, Russia's central bank has, over the past three months, repeatedly reaffirmed its new policy of a "free floating" ruble, here, here, here, here and even here back on Sept. 2nd.

Since publishing Dirty Float on August 3rd, I have also seen free floating exchange rate articles pertaining to Canada, Myanmar, Brazil and Hong Kong. Clean float, as a concept, almost seems to be trending! ;D

The PBOC has reportedly stepped back from its daily interventions in the [currency] market, and well it should stop. Exchange rate manipulation is anathema to its 28 bilateral currency swap agreements, three of which (Sri Lanka, Qatar and Canada) are new since Dirty Float was published. Also new since then are RMB trading centers in Paris, Luxembourg, Toronto and Doha, Qatar. China's currency is finally ready to float, and what do you know, its Treasury holdings are the same today as they were in 2011. The dirty float is dead. Long live the clean float.

Then again, there's still the chance that the drying-up of the subterranean stream (the flow of physical gold through London) will precede the monetary plane's inevitable time bomb, so who knows which one will happen first. A couple of recent statements on this front were Jeremy East's comment at the LBMA conference last June: "We are seeing gold flows circumventing the London market when, historically, gold would typically find its way to London and then out again. So we are seeing a bypass of the London market…" And this comment from a gold refiner via FT.com just last month: "I have to fly gold from Zurich to London, because there just is not enough gold on offer in London. You never used to have to do that."

My recommendation is to be prepared now, because that's the best way to avoid stress and regrets, which, IMO, are two things that are well worth avoiding. Either way it ends, I can't imagine how it could take too much longer.

FOA (2/28/2000; 10:18:13MT - usagold.com msg#8)

"Central banks gorged themselves with worthless dollar reserves and prevented a hyperinflation of the dollar in the process. They did this, because they knew that gold had the ability to completely replace any and all loss of dollar reserve value once a new system was in operation."

FOA (03/02/00; 20:15:21MT - usagold.com msg#9)

"Soon, bullion will return to doing what it did centuries ago. Representing the value of the world's assets and productive wealth. Only, with the world having far more in the way of modern things than ever before in its history, "Freegold" trading as a "reserve asset" will be valued as never before."

Trail Guide (03/04/00; 17:50:29MDT - Msg ID:26375)

"At first dollar hyper inflation will not be reflected in a rising price of gold on the current dollar paper gold market. It will be reflected in a corresponding lack of real gold relative to outstanding contracts! A physical gold shortage will happen "first", as the contract price system slowly defaults in an ever lower price. Next the paper markets will totally fail from non availability. That means a super low (discounted) bid price for contract gold. That's the same price the stock market players currently value your gold shares with.

Once the dollar gold contract system fails (and this will be happening during a full blown "hidden" price inflation), a physical gold market will develop,,,, whether officially (Euroland) or black market style.

The point is that during this dollar inflation, physical gold will be in almost no supply and its price will be 10X the paper price. No body, and I mean NO BODY is going to be cashing out of gold shares or any form of paper gold and doing an even swap! Every gold mine that operates using the dollar gold market to sell into,,,, does its financing with and is hedged leveraged with dollar based Bullion Banks ,,,,,, is going to see their stock ride the paper gold market to its end."

FOA (4/19/01; 17:50:29MT - usagold.com msg#65)

"The dollar is toast because most of the world doesn't like the management policy. They didn't like it in 71, but tolerated it because gold was supposed to keep flowing in repatriation payments. And if they didn't like it back then, they god awful hate it now!

We like to think that the dollar is what it is because we are so good. (smile) But, the truth is that for over a two decade period +, none of our economic policy, our trade financing policy, our defense policy or our internal lifestyle policy has pleased anyone outside these borders. We managed the dollar for us (U.S.) and the rest could just follow along.

Our fiat currency has survived all these years because others have supported our dollar flow in a way that kept it from crashing its exchange rate. We talk and think like we are winning the tug-of-war when, in fact, they just aren't pulling too hard. Waiting for their own system to form up."

Looking Forward

As I wrote earlier, my predicted transition implies a smaller financial sector, smaller international capital flows, and a shift from financial pyramids and volatility churning into real economic enterprises as the most profitable focus for "hot money". I know that many of my readers find this "glimpsing the hereafter" stuff challenging. I mean, everyone's into stocks and bonds today, right? So won't they run back into the warm embrace of paper IOUs right away?

Well, remember the Roaring 20s when everybody including the shoeshine boy was in the markets? After that crash, the average saver did not want to touch the stuff for four or five decades, and that was without hyperinflation wiping out his or her "savings" to 0.01% of their previous purchasing power. This time, I think it will be quite obvious that the only things "left standing" will be "real things".

Even among real things, the degree of purchasing power retention in real terms will vary greatly. This should lead to the usual mentality of risk reduction and channel future savings to a different focal point than today. And it's not just about the focal point which is for truly surplus (i.e., not needed anytime soon) revenue, but all forms of real wealth that enhance one's standard of living through their presence and use will gain widespread appreciation. Like nice, heirloom-quality household goods and furniture, instead of the cheap crap we buy today with the virtually-unlimited credit from an overvalued currency.

Ensuring that you own your home free and clear by retirement is another thing we should see post $IMFS, because it reduces risk. And no, I'm not talking about anything like the housing market speculation of today. All this "glimpsing the hereafter" stuff is based on common sense flowing from the elimination of money hoarding which will have proven so disastrous through the reset. This is what FOA explained so brilliantly, how our very human nature leads our behavior, especially through change.

One other thing I mentioned earlier that I want to expand upon in this final section is that any central bank purchases of gold, or any foreign currency for that matter, beyond a level that is prudent for normal international banking liquidity needs and emergencies (a level which I might add that all major CBs already have in reserve), are just currency manipulations that punish the workers in their own economy by reducing the purchasing power of their wages and transferring that purchasing power to someone else. Such transfers do not increase aggregate demand (i.e., purchasing power), they only transfer it from one person to another.

You may have seen the term "GOMO" used recently, which means Gold Open Market Operations or a CB buying or selling gold on the open market. While this idea has been associated with Freegold, I will tell you now that I don't agree that it is part of Freegold, a good idea, or even that we should expect to see it tried by the incompetent. Don't count on GOMO, because it's not what you are probably thinking it is.

I see a lot of people falling into the trap of thinking that "physical gold purchases can only be good no matter who's doing it", because they are thinking of their own holdings and projecting that personal feeling onto a CB that represents an entire economy made up of both debtors and savers. If you thought it was hard to think like a giant, it's even harder to think like a CB. A giant can underconsume and save just like us, but if a CB tries to do the same thing, it's not really saving. It is merely preventing the exchange rate from balancing trade via the relative prices of goods and services, and thereby mispricing its currency and unnecessarily punishing its own labor force.

Look at China. Over the past 15 years the PBOC has accumulated $4T in foreign currency reserves. To do that, it printed $4T-worth of yuan base money. Such printing should have been massively inflationary in China, but it wasn't. Look at China's inflation rate over the past 15 years:

Pretty mild for having printed $4T in new base money, right? The PBOC didn't stimulate demand in its economy with all that printing, instead it suppressed it locally and transferred it to someone else… to us in the US! :D That's all the PBOC did by manipulating its currency. It punished its own workers in its own economy by lowering the purchasing power of their wages below where it would have been otherwise, and it transferred that purchasing power to us.

Now, if a CB buys gold instead, it will be punishing the workers in its own economy in the same way, by lowering the purchasing power of their wages below where it would have been if it hadn't bought gold, and it will be transferring that purchasing power to… you guessed it… anyone who has gold! Sounds good, right? Well don't count on it, because it doesn't increase aggregate demand or consumption, it only transfers it. Gold is not a form of monetary policy, even if someone at the ECB inappropriately mentioned it along with debt and other market assets.

Gold falls under reserves, and not monetary policy, by the ECB's own definitions. It's on every single ECB weekly statement:

Items not related to monetary policy operations (includes gold, foreign currencies and foreign debt)

Items related to monetary policy operations (includes things like lending facilities, refinancing facilities, deposit facilities, LTROs, securities market programs, etc…, many different things, but not gold)

Monetary policy will be the same in Freegold as it is today… raising and lowering interest rates or other ways of easing and tightening, and buying debt if rates get too low. The difference is that they'll only do it within their own currency zone, because the dirty float will be finished.

The ECB's own statements make it clear, every week: Monetary policy, by definition, is stuff you do at home; Reserves—gold and foreign currency/foreign debt—and operations pertaining to reserves, are not part of monetary policy. They are exchange rate manipulations, and the ECB has made it clear that they aren't doing the dirty anymore. Monetary policy won't change. If you hate this system because of CB monetary policy, then you'll probably hate the next one as well.

What will change is that exchange rates will no longer be manipulated, therefore foreign currency, foreign debt and gold will just sit there, unchanged, on the CB balance sheets. Simple as that. The CBs will still mess with interest rates, reserve requirements, and buy debt and other stuff within their own currency zones, because that's what has at least a little effect on aggregate demand.

In Fiat 33, Dirty Float and now Global Stagnation, I have traced the evolution of the global exchange rate regime, from the fixed exchange rates of Bretton Woods, to the "exchange rate anarchy" of the 1970s, to the dirty float of 1979-2013, and now to the clean float that will take us well into the future. At the beginning of Fiat 33 back in June, I made a statement which bothered some of you:

I know that some of you are skeptical about what I am saying. You're probably thinking that Freegold relies somehow on gold and whether or not it is embraced by the masses. But here's another thing that will probably surprise you in the end. Gold has little to do with "Freegold the monetary system"!

I knew what I had in mind would take several posts to explain. I knew what I was writing at the beginning would be confusing and maybe even a little controversial, but I hoped that it would eventually make sense after I finally got out what I had in mind. So now my question to you is whether or not the beginning of Fiat 33 finally makes sense to you. I hope it does. I'll end with the part I'm referring to, so please let me know if it now makes sense, or if I've still got more work to do. ;D

From Fiat 33:

I know I haven't written a post in a while, but my plan right now is to write a series of posts, this being the first, that will hopefully paint a nice big picture for you of what Freegold is all about. I've had the idea for a while now to write a post about what, precisely, constitutes the overvaluation of the dollar today, as that relates directly to the deflation versus currency collapse/hyperinflation debate.

In order to see how the dollar can collapse against the physical plane of real goods and services, you must understand how and why it is overvalued today, not just in the monetary plane with its monumental overhang of "financial savings", but also in the very real physical plane of production and trade. In the end, you might be surprised to discover how the dollar would still collapse in value even if we could hypothetically erase, block or sterilize the massive overhang of dollars and "financial wealth" that has accumulated in the monetary plane from rushing out into the physical plane.

As it turned out, this topic was much bigger in scope than I could possibly tackle in one post. In fact, I believe it encompasses virtually everything required for understanding what Freegold is truly about. And again, in the end, I think you may be surprised to discover how simple it really is, but it's going to take me a little while to get there.

I don't know how long or how many posts it will take me to explain what I have in mind. I'm not working off an outline. But here's a bit of a spoiler for those of you who are impatient, don't like to read, or don't care about understanding it deeply and would rather just have an abstract that can be easily dismissed so you can get back to tradable technical analysis.

Freegold is all about gradual, natural and automatic adjustment mechanisms in the modern world of fiat currencies. An adjustment mechanism is quite simply anything that periodically corrects physical plane imbalances. In economics, the term adjustment mechanism is often used to describe the flow of gold between different countries back when gold was used as base money in those countries. But this is not at all what Freegold is about, so I am using the term in a much broader context that applies at any scale, from the global scale on down to the individual.

Whenever you buy a gold coin, or even a coffee at Starbucks for that matter, that's a simple example of an adjustment mechanism at the individual level. Monetary plane balances (like "financial wealth", the "idea of long term debt being held as a money asset", or even cash in your wallet) represent physical plane imbalances. Whenever monetary balances are reduced, real world imbalances are reduced. Likewise, when monetary balances are accumulated, physical plane imbalances increase. It's a simple concept and a simple view.

The flow of money within a common currency zone, like the United States for example, is the most basic and automatic adjustment mechanism. Other adjustment mechanisms include changes in wages and in the prices of various goods and services in general and in different locales, and the movement of people and capital from one location to another.

Wherever multiple currencies interact, like on planet Earth for example, changes in the exchange rate between them are the primary adjustment mechanism. Fixing, pegging or otherwise manipulating the exchange rate of different currencies does, in fact, preclude other adjustment mechanisms and causes imbalances to accumulate, often to the point that abrupt adjustment becomes unavoidable, economically disruptive and financially destructive, in other words, painful.

Currency collapse and hyperinflation are natural but not gradual adjustment mechanisms. Floating exchange rates are a more gradual adjustment mechanism between different currency zones.

These adjustment mechanisms have always been with us, so the real change in Freegold is the "gradual, natural and automatic" part. Gradual (or ongoing) is self-explanatory, but what I mean by "natural and automatic" is that these ongoing adjustments will be allowed to happen or made by choice, not forced or induced by a central bank, because such ongoing adjustments will be in the self-interest of anyone in a position to choose, on any scale.

I know that some of you are skeptical about what I am saying. You're probably thinking that Freegold relies somehow on gold and whether or not it is embraced by the masses. But here's another thing that will probably surprise you in the end. Gold has little to do with "Freegold the monetary system"! Gold is not a key part of the monetary adjustment mechanisms in Freegold. The price and physical movements of gold won't even matter to the monetary system. Any movements of gold in price, ownership or location will be irrelevant to the monetary system of the future.

Freegold is the true unshackling of gold from the monetary system. In Freegold, a properly functioning monetary system requires nothing of gold. In Freegold, the international monetary system won't require gold to change price or location in order for it (the new IMFS) to function. That's why it's called Freegold. Gold is finally and truly set free from its shackles to the monetary system.

Make sense yet? ;D


[1] Larry Summers appeared on a panel with Ben Bernanke, Stan Fischer and Ken Rogoff at the 14th Annual IMF Economic Forum on Friday, November 8, 2013. The panel, Policy Responses to Crises, included a discussion of optimal policy responses to mitigate the adverse effects of crises. http://youtu.be/KYpVzBbQIX0?t=2m11s
[2] Why stagnation might prove to be the new normal By Lawrence Summers, Financial Times, Dec 15 2013
[3] Secular Stagnation – Fad or Fact? The Economist, Aug 16th 2014
[4] Is The Economy Suffering From Secular Stagnation? NPR, Sept. 9 2014
[5] Secular Stagnation:
Facts, Causes and Cures
A VoxEU.org eBook by the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), Chapter 2, "Secular stagnation: A review of the issues" by Barry Eichengreen
[6] Ibid., Chapter 4, "Four observations on secular stagnation" by Paul Krugman
[7] U.S. Economic Prospects: Secular Stagnation, Hysteresis, and the Zero Lower Bound by Larry Summers, Business Economics 2014
[8] Ibid. [5], Chapter 1, "Reflections on the 'New Secular Stagnation Hypothesis'" by Larry Summers
[9] Hysteresis and the European Unemployment problem Blanchard and Summers (1986)
[10] Ibid. [5], Introduction, Figures 1, 2 & 3, Source: World Bank online database
[11] Former Fed Chief Greenspan Worried About Future of Monetary Policy The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 29 2014
[12] Inflation targets reconsidered Paper presented by Paul Krugman on May 27, 2014 at the ECB Forum on Central Banking: Monetary policy in a changing financial landscape
[13] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knut_Wicksell#Theoretical_contributions
[14] Gold is like distilled, pure physical wealth, and in that sense it is "monetary wealth" in that it is kind of like the ambassador representing the physical plane while residing in the monetary plane and acting as its most liquid physical reserve asset. Other than that, any entanglement between money (economic credit) and gold (pure physical wealth) is unrighteous at best, and deadly at worst. True wealth is hard, but true money is "easy" by definition. Hard money is practically an oxymoron if you really consider the money concept. Therefore if normal inflation is theft, then so is the value you lose when you buy a brand new car and drive it off the lot. Misusing something as a wealth reserve is user error, not malfunction.
[15] http://www.ecb.europa.eu/press/key/date/2014/html/sp141117.de.html Google translated from German: "The Board of Governors has unanimously advocated, where appropriate, to take further unconventional measures to counteract a lengthy period to lower inflation. Theoretically, this also includes the purchase of government bonds or other assets such as gold, shares, Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) etc.." Yves Mersch, Nov. 17 2014
[16] Source: Puncturing Deflation Myths, Part 1- Inflation During The Great Depression by Daniel R. Amerman, CFA. Feb. 12, 2009
[17] Jeremy Grantham: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_Grantham#Views_on_market_bubbles_and_the_2007-2008_credit_crisis Quote source: http://www.businessinsider.com/grantham-guesses-stocks-work-20-30-higher-2013-11


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Jim Okefenokee said...


Just woke up from my afternoon nap. Time for a beer and a jolly good read.

Michael dV said...

Second!!... of December....

M said...

ooohh yeah. Finally..

Aquilus said...

This is an instant classic.

It ties together so many topics and facets that it deserves to be read again and again until it "sinks in"!!!

Delusional Investing said...

Thank you FOFOA. More than worth the wait. I think I now fully understand... until your next post.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant FOFOA, thank you! Totally worth the wait.

Can someone help me understand this sentence from the post:

"Yet all signs are that the foreign private sector is still piling into the dollar short bus as if it's the only ride in town."

How is then that the dollar index is going so strong?

Michael dV said...

I see now that we (I) have been focused so much on the gold revaluation that it made it seem like gold would be central to the next system. On the central bank level it will be rarely used. To future savers gold will be thought of occasionally just as one might think of their savings now. The importance of revaluation will probably fade quickly for most people. For those without savings both now and in the future gold will not even seem to be part of the system. To those waiting for gold to assume a much higher price it seems today to be the central tenet.

The Jackalope said...

This was a tough one for me. I understand ( and understood) how the hoarding of dollars overvalues our currency. Got it.

I understand how the structure of our financial system and demand for our dollars forces us into a trade deficit. Got it.

What I don't understand is how QE has apparent ended, structural support from foreign CB's seems to have waned, if not ended. Where are those dollars going? Why haven't we seen any inflation yet? I know the conventional wisdom here a few years back was QE is never going to end or it was game over. It did, we seem to still be going along fine.

Unknown said...

A little more free-floating yuan stuff..


Indenture said...

If you have found any enlightenment from this post please consider a donation.

There is a bright yellow box at the top of the page
You may click it now
We will wait...

Thank You

Anand Srivastava said...

This was a very illuminating post.

So if I understood right. The next financial meltdown will not be papered over, because no CB will absorb the liquidity created by Fed to fight the meltdown.

The crisis itself could due to the bursting of any large enough bubble or physical gold going MIA.

Any CB that has enough currency swap agreements cannot absorb the liquidity, because that will be tantamount to reneging on their promise to the other CBs with whom they have agreements. This is why Russia is not doing monetary manipulations to keep its currency high artificially.

The post also destroys the FreeFiat position that Gold will be widely used for currency manipulation.

I think that EZ CBs (the ones that are facing debt problems) have a large amount of gold, which they may sell to make whole the guys that received the haircut or will receive haircuts. They may also pay off the debt using the gold. I think this would not be considered currency manipulation. This is the point I am not very clear on. Am I right here?

bercolowin said...

Doesn't it currently appear as if we're further removed from this scenario than ever? The dollar is strengthening AND the US is currently clawing its way back as an energy exporter and reshoring industry.

(...If I understand correctly, because this stuff is almost impossible to keep inside your head all at once...)

Polly Metallic said...

If I understand correctly, you are saying that gold is not the key component in the new system, it merely operates in the background as a final means to settle balance of payments between countries. The most critical component of the new monetary system is that financial decisions by all players will be built on their own self-interests in a system where all currencies are on an equal footing. The false valuations and distortions of the old $IMFS will no longer influence the monetary plane.

Roacheforque said...

Excellent way to shed new light on the old FOA quotes.

But especially this:
"Furthermore ... the predicted transition implies a smaller financial sector, smaller international capital flows, and a shift from financial pyramids and volatility churning into real economic enterprises as the most profitable focus for "hot money".

Back when I was blogging at letthemfail.us, my frustration at the bailouts of systemic failure were agonizing - and then I found FOFOA and began to understand the only thing that a shrimp like me could ever really do to make a difference, was to "follow in those footsteps" of the inevitable outcome.

Holding gold on principle far exceeds the value of any potential windfall profit upon revaluation. And while possession will never "force" FREEGOLD, you get to live with the knowledge that you are accomplishing the only effective form of "activism" that a shrimp can ever achieve, making a small statement about moving toward a better system, where meritocracy re-emerges, and failure is allowed to run its course.

The social impact will be a marvel to witness. I hope I live long enough to see the positive side of this change in full bloom - like a flower ...


Michael dV said...

and the dollar just hit 89!

Carl said...

FOFOA: "This time, I think it will be quite obvious that the only things "left standing" will be "real things"."

Interesting. Let me ask you; is credit as currency a "real thing"? Will the bank debt being utilized as digital dollars be "left standing" when this thing referred to as a 'global economy' becomes unglued and flies apart?

The dork of cork said...

We have seen a complete breakdown of Europe under the euro system.
The huge consumption of capital goods needed to supply basic consumption is absurd and a simple result of this Venetian non national malice and has nothing to do with the true Europe of village and market town.
Peoples real standard of living , even in the periphery was higher in the 1960s as they could buy all local goods available.
Trade is much more then sexy transcontinental highways , it must first work at the local , regional and national level.
The author is in denial.
Europe continues to implode.
Atlantic based capitalists are plotting major generalized warfare in central europe so as to concentrate capital on american seaboards and the UK.

The author continues to sail on the Nile , talking about free gold.

Unknown said...

I found this financial news post quite funny in light of FOFOA's latest post.

Tommy2Tone said...

wow...all fucking day...work accomplished= zero ;)
Best day eva :)

Prolly chicken vs. egg but this:

"Gold is not a key part of the monetary adjustment mechanisms in Freegold."

But but, without gold, TWA, (the wealth asset) how would savers get out of the way?
Therefore, gold is very important to that adjustment.

MatrixSentry said...

This post will be understood to be perhaps FOFOA's greatest to date.

Crystal clear and concise. Everything you need to know in order to answer what and why is here. If you can read this post and understand it, you will have the destination firmly in your sights.

Lights out writing FOFOA!

Time to hit the donate button to show my appreciation.

Michael dV said...

kinda funny...
to the average citizen inflation is kinda like the weather, it just comes in on the breeze, it's cause is no more considered than would be the cause of a hurricane. Now we see that economists have the same problem in understanding stagnation. It just shows up.
It seems there should be a profession that looks into the cause of such things.
Meteorology has made great strides with understanding the weather.

Victory said...

FOFOA, you sun of gun....did it again!!!!!!

Joe Vanderbilt, could be this type of short bus

Steve said...

Oh yeah, sure this filled some holes in my understanding, great job!
But still I too have remaining blanks (probably totally obvious for others) like, indeed, why this dollar strengthening at present and why were the Chinese then collecting 4T in debt papers? while, according to the post "The PBOC didn't stimulate demand in its economy with all that printing, instead it suppressed it locally and transferred it to someone else… to us in the US! :D That's all the PBOC did by manipulating its currency" Did they have no choice to do else?

@ Tom R
And I found this financial news post quite funny in light of FOFOA's latest post. To free float or to dirty float, thats the question here I guess.


"Yevgeny Fyodorov, who chairs the Russian parliament's economic policy committee, accused the central bank of sabotage, telling local media that it was "an institutional enemy of the country."

The bank's "crime" is failing to prevent the ruble from plunging about 37% against the dollar in the last six months -- despite spending tens of billions of foreign currency reserves trying to prop it up.

It intervened in the market again this week, buying another 36.9 billion rubles ($700 million) on Monday in its first such move since allowing the currency to float freely in November".

speedspirit said...

FOFOA - Question I hope NO pray you will answer!

There is much going on to implement SDR's for CB's to use post the dollar's death and does this fit into the FreeGold Theory ?

I would hate to think the IMF SDR frankenstein monetary system will punish Gold investors for another decade.

tEON said...


does this fit into the FreeGold Theory ?


China still does not have the Yuan as part of the SDR basket...

JBVO2 said...

The UK also has a large current account deficit and low consumer price inflation. Does this mean private and official foreign capital flows, similar to those flowing into the US, have kept price inflation low even though sterling, unlike the dollar, is not the reserve currency?

Robert said...

Dork of Cork, I am not sure I understand your criticism. Yes, Europe has its problems, and yes Another, FOA and FOFOA have extolled the virtues of the structure of the Euro compared to the USD. But what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Another, FOA and FOFOA acknowledged the political dimension of objections to the Euro. And to my knowledge FOFOA has never denied that the Euro system has resulted in imbalances within the Eurozone. Certainly those imbalances are causing political pressure to build. But what does that have to do with the Freegold thesis? Do you believe that all the world's economic problems would be solved if Europe never adopted the Euro? If Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal could simply devalue their own currencies, would everything be just fine? I think not. I think we would still have the same problem of global stagnation, a savings glut, malinvestment, mispricing of risk, and a greatly overvalued USD. I know mainstream view on this board is that no country will ever leave the Eurozone. Period. I do not share this view. I think that one or more countries might leave, and the Euro might be declared to be a political failure. But I think the currency will live on (unless Germany withdraws), and any future political crisis will have little effect on the Euro as a currency.

You dismiss the Freegold, but where do you see global stagnation and a buildup of massive imbalances leading us? 50 more years of the same? If Freegold is not the endgame, what is?

Roacheforque said...

The problem is, and always has been, the weath reserve asset and the means of exchange being one and the same - debt. Think back to the savers and the spenders. In this post we see the systemic "hoarding" of debt as a means to prolong certain benefits with long term disastrous consequences.
I thought the term "hoarding" was aptly applied here, since it is the same term that the debt devoted economies use to disparage the prudent SAVING of gold.
Those same economies encourage the "hoarding of debt" among their own people, whereas in China private saving in gold is encouraged.
Which will you devote your life to? Equity or Debt?
I agree with Matrix, this post is borderline poetic, and one of the very best.

Dim said...

gamblesmurf - I think that is a good question.

My understanding is that the USD will not steadily decline – remember how FOFOA wrote that capital flows can turn on a dime? Yes the USD is appreciating at the moment, but what if there is a market shakeout again like in 2008? There may not be any foreign CB support next time. The USD will not steadily decline but it will drop like a rock.

byiamBYoung said...

Woah, very enlightening post.

FOFOA, I have to say, you have a phenomenal gift for divining the wisdom from the archives and weaving them together with contemporary data, to deliver a rock solid blast of understanding. I learned much...again. Many thanks.

Blake said...

This post connected some dots for me and I have reduced my understanding to the following:

At the CB level, a gold revaluation will serve two purposes: to 1) recapitalize debtor nations; and 2) compensate saver nations. This revaluation is the necessary (albeit artificial) adjustment mechanism to rid the real world imbalances caused by monetary imbalances (i.e, dollar overhang). After revaluation, gold will serve no other function at the CB level other than as the wealth reserve par excellence, to be deployed for "international banking liquidity needs and emergencies". And in the final analysis, this free gold paradigm will allow for the "gradual, natural and automatic adjustment mechanisms in the modern world of fiat currencies". In other words, it will naturally prevent the very imbalances that required the revaluation in the first instance.

For decades and increasingly so now, Giants have been front-running this paradigm shift by slowly, yet methodically, accumulating physical gold (the reference point of wealth in the next paradigm). Their goal in accumulating physical gold is not to grow their wealth but rather, to safely shuttle (read preserve) that wealth from the existing paradigm to the next one. Shrimps incidentally gain the windfall of revaluation (smile).

As for what precipitates the paradigm shift, it is one of two possibilities:

1) Asset deflation met with hyper-printing (“front lawn dump”); or

2) Subterranean flow of physical gold ceases and must be revalued to coax gold out of hiding.

Indenture said...


Sam said...

Great post.

Michael dV said...

After a second reading (well rested) I agree with Matrix, if you can read and understand this post you will understand the destination of the monetary system. If you are new it will require a good deal of background catch up. In addition to the 2 prior pieces fofoa alludes to there are supporting pieces for those as well.
Since I started getting interested in the monetary system in 2010 I have logged over 8000 hours in front of the computer screen and with a nose in various books, I have understood, lost it and regained understanding. I spend time on YT listening to the loonies I read Zerohedge again mostly read ridiculous ideas easily disproven.
The one binding though that allows me now to decide with confidence if something is likely or likely bullshit is the freegold perspective. It is the only system of monetary thought that deals with each aspect of the monetary system that could produce a different result and show how it all points to 'where we are going.
I too worry that some weird intervention might disrupt the course we see but FG helps me see these as low probability events. An asteroid could cause a freegold delay too but for those planning with reason and in a reasonable frame of probability I think fofoa is showing the way better than anyone else writing at this time...so thanks fofoa and all contributors.

spr said...

This stuff is well over my pay grade; I see through a glass, darkly. Very darkly - when I can see at-all.

Having done my 45 years hard yakka, retired on 7% just 'comfortable' and now doing it tough, I'm seriously considering the following:
1. Pull everything out of the banks etc
2. Put 50% in gold under the cherry tree
3. Put 50% in cash, under the apple tree.

Can that plan be re-hypothesized or bailed in?

Bjorn said...

jojo I was going to write the same thing.

I think you have a reasonable plan there. Just don´t tell anyone.

vizeet srivastava said...

Thanks FOFOA for another jewel in the series. I wish I could get printed edition of your series and of course series of FOA and Another.
When Matrix will collapse and we see the reality. Individuals behavior will change.
The whole process of holding gold for so many years have taught us and revaluation will teach us more.
Many who hold gold to live like rich after revaluation will not actually live that way. The whole process of Trillions of dollars evaporating in front of our eyes will make us value our possessions.

Anonymous said...

That "short bus" reference is quite obscure for non-americans. But thanks Victory, now I get it. :-)

One Bad Adder said...

Quite the divergence ($PoG:altDX) going on these last few weeks - in order to slow the Dollar down??

Winters said...

FOFOA doesn't do timings but this warmed my heart:
"I can't imagine how it could take too much longer."

The Krugman snippet on inflation reminds me of FOA talking about the tribe and how we would always do things right by the tribe as a whole even if it meant sacrificing some individual wealth.

The dork of cork said...

I have embraced social credit theory and no longer believe in the time value of money concept.

Unknown said...


I think you are right - the passage through transition could itself transform our attitudes to wealth and how we chose to deploy it.


I enjoyed your back of an envelope summary of the above proceedings.

Anand Srivastava said...


I guess rereading it the "3" wasn't a very good choice of number. I was thinking about countries that would be able to handle low oil price and thought SA would be among them. But it seems SA requires a higher oil price. Maybe SA will be able to reduce their budget, or they might be thinking about using the USTs :-).

Also with breaking off, I meant breaking off from USD. And doing trading directly with consumers.

Georgiew89 said...

Some people think that gold with NOT be revalued and that we will still be trading paper (SDR bonds). Anybody that knows more than me want to comment?

link here:

Bjorn said...

Gerogiew89 just scroll up to tEON:s comment and use the link.

Tommy2Tone said...

If you type this into google:


followed by your search term so it looks like this:

site:fofoa.blogspot.com sdr

You will get results from just this blog.

Zebedee said...

@ Georgiew89

I've read quite a bit of JC Collins and although he comes across as authoritative, I don't buy in to his connecting of the dots re. SDRs.

I noticed our friend 'Archer' in amongst the comments there offering the Freegold theory and although JC acknowledged his comment, failed to mention anything further. He seems a tad one-eyed IMO.

I suggest you do what Bjorn suggested above. That's what I did after reading JC.

Golly gosh FOFOA. Soooo much to digest between moooo milking sessions lol. Great stuff - thankyou :)

The dork of cork said...

I would point you to vlads recent efforts to reinstall a national capitalistic monopoly.......as he seeks to defend Russia against euro market state entropy.
Also the British trade stats is changing its dogma on gold , it now want to reverse its post 1986 practice of:-) not counting private monetary gold,

It now sees this as a good again rather then private money.

M said...

Not sure if FOFOA would agree with this but...

Fofoa is saying that the petrodollars are not what is keeping the system afloat now and the charts prove it. It's the mercantilists in Asia that are supporting this until death.

But I would say that the reason why the mercantilists bought into the dollar originally was because of the petrodollar. And the reason the petrodollar took hold originally is because it was backed by gold.

So sure, petrodollar flows now , are not what is keeping the dollar afloat , but the myth behind the petrodollar is the reason why the mercantilists are hoarding it.

M said...

Russia can rival Saudi Arabia in oil market share and is accepting local currency swaps as payment. Does that not shatter the myth behind the petrodollar? Not only does it shatter the myth, it also consigns the whole petrodollar/Saudi Arabia/US military construct to the dustbin of history. This is why I happen to think the Saudis are not cutting production and there is 100 Abrams tanks on the way to Europe. And the U.S. Is probably willing to sacrifice shale if the falling oil price will slow down Rissia.

The dork of cork said...

To argue that the European system is 'free trade" is very wide of the mark.
Forced mercantilism or causing various money deflations so that people regions and nations to export real goods in return for scarce currency us mist certainly not free trade.

The uks yearly pink book 'geographical" section proves that the London is operating as Venice in the middle ages - directing energy into a capitalist vortice.

Blake said...

I went back and re-read “Deflation or Hyperinflation”. In that post, FOFOA details how the “Elites”, namely, “Financial (Wall Street) Elites, the politically powerful (including politically connected corporations and unions/union pension funds), the “banksters robbing us blind” and “CONgress” are “debtors”.

As such, not only will these debtors benefit from hyperinflation as their debts are inflated away but more importantly, these “Elite debtors” stand to benefit further still because they will have access to the cash first and will use the same to outrun the rest of US “in the race to spend and win the competition to retain [a] standard of living”.

My question is thus: Is this not a risky proposition for these Elites as they will effectively be bidding against themselves to acquire wealth? Are we to assume that these “Elite debtors” will fight over the physical wealth carcass and risk that they indeed won’t get their fair share (i.e, get out-run by other “Elite debtors”)?

Tommy2Tone said...

Yes and yes.

Although to describe them as acquiring wealth at that moment in time is misleading IMO. It's more a fight for survival at that time or more like:
"when a thousand hungry lions fight for one scrap of food, small dogs should hide with what's in their belly."

Dork- myopia.
You suffer it. I suggest you RRTFB to be cured.

Sam said...

Oil gave dollars value when it was in freefall to save the global economy so that they could continue to sell oil and get gold for their oil. Conspiritardation ran from there.

I think the point is other currencies are also part of the chain and therefore dollars aren’t hoarded for oil. You would only need to hoard oil if the chain ended with the dollar. Other currencies can convert to dollars which converts to oil. So the chain looks more like this:

sub currencies – dollars – oil

This chain of conversion exists which means you can get oil with any currency it’s just a two step process instead of a one step process. Again, I don’t need to hoard dollars to buy oil unless the chain of conversion doesn’t exist. Just like you can call dollars “petrodollars” you can call all other currencies “dollarcurrencies” if it helps. They are backed by dollars, given value by dollars for all intents and purposes, because of the very fact that they can be converted into dollars at a market price on demand.

If I had a 1000 sacks of apples in my garage and I wanted 1 sack of oranges only a fool would say, sorry Sam, you can’t buy oranges because you don’t have any currency. My apples are convertible into currency and my currency is then convertible into oranges. I don’t need to have currency, just something that can be convertible into currency, to eventually get me some oranges. In fact if I have something real, something the world wants, something of value. I’m good. Commodities, currencies, heck just my name and signature if worthy of credit is enough to buy oil.

M said...


Russia has oil on the offer like this: sub currency-oil

Saudi Arabia still has oil only on the offer like this : sub currency-dollars-oil

China is buying oil both ways from both vendors.

The origins of the dollar hoarding of the last 5 years lie in the petro part of the petrodollar regardless what the charts are saying today

Anonymous said...


Robert said...

Dork of Cork, it sounds like you have been drinking too much of the MMT Wray/Kelton koolaid over at NC. What does social credit theory have to say about Triffin's dilemma? Or the topic of the most recent discussion, global stagnation? Does it even recognize FOFOA's dilemma as a dilemma? To the MMT crowd, the solution is always the same, more government spending. But fiscal stimulus has not exactly worked for Japan, has it? No problem, says MMT, it has not blown up Japan and will not blow up Japan, so full speed ahead! I can understand the political reasons for pushing the MMT agenda, but in the end I think it's all sophistry. If you want to understand what's really going on you need to dig a lot deeper.

Jeff said...

GOMO a no go:

Draghi on QE: we discussed all assets but gold

Eric C said...

I am unclear why GOMO doesn't make sense from a FG perspective. I am unclear why you say GOMO just passes purchasing power from society to gold holders when I see FG as also passing purchasing power to gold holders. Are you saying FG increases total society purchasing power while GOMO does not?

Great post, enjoyed it a bunch

gull_mann said...

A great (must read) article by Paul Mylchreest entitled: "Long Nikkei/Short Gold: Profitable, dangerous and missed by everybody?"


Leopard said...

“Dis-Accumulation” on a World Scale: Pillage, Plunder and Wealth


Edwardo said...

Mr. Mylchreest seems to me to fall into a rather large category of "professionals" who come close, oh so close, to truly understanding what they observe, but who don't quite manage to attain enlightenment in the absence of the Freegold lens.

If the repo market is being used to finance short positions to push down the price of gold, there is an irony since the repo market is a source of systemic risk to the financial system while gold is the ultimate safe haven asset .

The irony he refers to is miniscule compared to the infinitely greater irony that one homes in on when one is ordering the data according to the model provided by Another, FOA, and FOFOA. Mr. Mylchreest thinks the repo market is the source of systemic risk, but the repo market, however prone it is to act as a catalyst for financial mayhem, is, for all intents and purposes, but a symptom of the far greater danger embodied in the $IMFS. As some of us have come to learn, it is the very structure of the global monetary system itself that guarantees the existence of a repo market which is, as it were, empowered to act like a financial ticking time bomb. All this by way of saying that Mr. Mylchreest confuses cause and effect.

In the meantime, what he is observing, whatever the proximate mechanism may be- in his view, a long Nikkei, short gold trade- is the $IMFS acting in a predictable and (in this case) potentially suicidal manner. After all, causing paper gold to go belly up, will, in due course, have a positively transformational effect on the system.

john said...

Thank you FOFOA for another wonderful piece of our education. I think Putin's speech telling his people to prepare for hard times is the icing on the cake for me personally. They are actively seeking replacement of the dollar, they will let the ruble float no matter what and rally their people at the same time. He ain't backing down and will only make more allies from here. Will the US MIC standby and let this go down? That is the question, or will they actively seek to maintain status quo as the printing ramps. I don't see them going quietly, but I hope they have no choice but to do so.

Eric C said...

Hi Gull,

This is what I gather from the first few pages, yen sold for dollars, contracts or digital gold sold for dollars and the dollars can be used to help cover. It is a good read. Care to give a brief overview in relation to FG?

Michael dV said...

Russia just watching as oil falls is interesting. It seems as though they are saying, or getting ready for, a world in which goods are traded for goods and the currency is unimportant.
If China is buying the oil and Russia is getting Chinese manufactured goods the the ruble price in dollar is irrelevant isn't it. All they really need is an agreement that prices the goods in a way that the dollar price does not diminish the value of the goods Russia receives.
If China allows it's currency to fall, as the ruble is doing, then the dollar may as well not exist.
Oil for goods, currency only lubricates the trade.

vizeet srivastava said...

Hi all,
Is there a way to get information on Debt structure? I want to know how much India or other countries owns as debt in different currencies.

Roacheforque said...

My thoughts exactly. He does come close, but confuses corelation with causation. It is a much larger issue, and I do believe that most of these types see a small portion of the stream as opposed to the river in totality, and it's inexorable destination.

Roacheforque said...

I think you are correct also. And I do believe the details of the "30 year plan" will bear this out. They do not have time to construct a EURASIEX quite yet, but bypassing FOREX seems inevitable IMHO.

Roacheforque said...

BTW I think the fishbowl metaphor is quite instructive in this matter of the Mylchreest missive.

The dork of cork said...

You display a wonderful ignorance of social credit.
Social credit is distributionism used in a industrial surplus context
Mmt is a concentrating scheme.
Social creditors regard mmters as members of the war party and so they therefore don't really get along.
Before critic on your part I advice you to goggle a tube conversion
Entitled social credit table talk
Its a 2 hour+ conversation that gets into the guts of the subject.
The youngest chap produced a book on the subject with the help of the seniors.

The dork of cork said...

Triffen is dealing with the problem from the wrong end of the telescope.
Social credit does not engage in gold mercantilism of a national capitalistic monopoly
Think of the post 1648 nation state when thinking of the above.
What I regard as the 7 the circle of hell.
The violent state that externalizes the costs of capitalistic overproduction on others.
The one that Putin is trying to reinvent.
The euro occupies the 9th circle in my opinion.
The market state of entropy.

social credit has little capital goods to dump.
The costs of distribution are regarded as real costs that subtract from human consumption.

If you listen to Draghi or Smaghi they actually want to increase costs !!!!!!! / inflation without adding any company chips.

This is a policy of genocide that the Irish are familiar with post act of union in 1800.
1992 was our modern union nightmare.

M said...

So QE is technically over and Japan has been running a trade deficit for over 12 months now. Eventually something has to matter.

The dork of cork said...

The NakedCapitalism site is a very obvious American propaganda entity.
I like to imagine Yves Smith as the Nancy Travis character in air america.
She perhaps likes to fool herself she is doing good but at the end of the day she is working for the same outfit.

PS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ein anderer said...

Great post this. Where we can read so well educating in depth analysis like this? Worth for hitting the Donate-button again!

50sQuiff said...

I found this article problematic. If this is the case:

"So while the value of a currency is what its economy produces that can be purchased with that currency..."

Then it follows that the pricing of oil in dollars makes that currency uniquely valuable. It is the only currency to reflect not just what its economy produces, but also the economies of others.

Does it not also stand to reason that if oil receipts are received in dollars, it ensures that dollars coalesce in resource countries with a higher propensity to hoard, due to their natural desire to hedge against depleting reserves. I understand that the US would emit those dollars regardless, but they would end up elsewhere, where the tendency to dishoard may be greater.

The de facto pricing of oil in dollars also increases the dollar's potential market for hoarding). Dollars can wind up in the coffers of countries who do almost no business with the US, like Russia and their half trillion stash. The Pesos of this world don't have the same luxury obviously. At the risk of sounding like a conspiratard, that's surely another qualitative effect of the petrodollar.

Finally, I don't understand the difference between $55k gold as a consequence of Freegold and an ECB-induced "evil jerk" $55k gold. What makes ABS or Portuguese mortgages better (more moral?) than gold, when it comes to expanding one's supply of digital credit money? You have to buy something from someone, unless you want to go "helicopter".

It's unusual to see you try to make a moral case, FOFOA.

There's also something that isn't jiving with me when it comes to this new world of the Clean Float. I know that's not a particularly academic observation on my part, but it's my general feeling after giving these recent articles a single read. If floating exchange rates prevented imbalances, well, we'd have them right now. Sure, the system got hijacked, but doesn't it always? After all, if the gold standard prevented bubbles, credit collapse, war and global warming, we'd still be on it.

burningfiat said...

Great post FOFOA! Up there in the top of the field!

"So while the value of a currency is what its economy produces that can be purchased with that currency...", doesn't make the oil-pricing currency worth (as in value) more than other currencies! It's all supply and demand. Non-oil producing countries can also generate a trade surplus for many years. Like for instance Germany!
It's NOT petro that gives the dollar its unique position. Petro-trading usage only slightly raises demand (just a bit more for circulation. Increased velocity could also do the job alone BTW). It's the hoarding of surplus in $$ that really matters. A leftover from the gold exchange standard days. And yes I agree, the "petro-dollar" prestige might also contribute to the fact that institutions regress to hoarding surplus in dollars, lacking other options (living inside the fish-bowl as they do).

Let's all re-read this masterpiece one more time now and then butt heads again...

Sam said...

“Then it follows that the pricing of oil in dollars makes that currency uniquely valuable. It is the only currency to reflect not just what its economy produces, but also the economies of others.”

Wrong. A long time ago it gave a free falling currency a floor but today it does little to value the dollar. Think of dollars and all currencies for that matter as “store credit” for the country that prints it. If you could print unlimited amounts of store credit at Macy’s what is the value of that store credit? It’s whatever Macy’s can put out on the shelves. Even though you can trade it for other stuff outside of Macy’s in the end, in order to have value, it must be turned in for real stuff at Macy’s. For instance what if someone with oil wants to buy some cashmere sweaters for Christmas? Perhaps they would trade you some oil for your Macy’s store credit. Is Macy’s store credit now “overvalued” because of the PetroMacycredit? Does this make the Macy’s store credit worth more than what Macy’s can put on their shelf? No! The stuff on the shelves gives the store credit its value. ANYTHING OF VALUE can buy oil because ANYTHING OF VALUE can be converted into dollars and dollars are used to buy oil.

Sam said...

“Does it not also stand to reason that if oil receipts are received in dollars, it ensures that dollars coalesce in resource countries with a higher propensity to hoard, due to their natural desire to hedge against depleting reserves.”

Understanding that dollars are “store credit” at the Giant Macy’s called the United States of America, do you think it is prudent for Sears to give up tons of their merchandise of real stuff for trillions in store credit at Macy’s? I’d probably stack a little up in case I had a fire inside my store and I needed to maintain confidence in my Sears issued store credit by buying some of it back with Macy’s store credit until I got things stabilized. Anything beyond that would be foolish. Do you think the CB’s in these “resource countries” are stupid? You think they can’t take a look at the globs of USA store credit they and all the other stores in town have, and the amount of current and future stuff the USA could ever possibly put on their shelves, and do the math? Do not bet that they are stupid. It was not prudent to hoard and overvalue the dollar. It was done on purpose as a support to the system, a system we will see replaced a short order, and seen by all the big players as a great expense.

Jeff said...

"What makes ABS or Portuguese mortgages better (more moral?) than gold, when it comes to expanding one's supply of digital credit money?"

Someone should ask Draghi this question; why do you think he went out of his way to rule out GOMO? FOFOA drew a bright line between monetary policy and reserves. Perhaps Mario makes the same distinction?

FOFOA: "Gold is not a form of monetary policy..."

So if the ECB prints due to monetary policy they create liabilities used to buy assets denominated in their own currency. Internal (to their currency zone) QE, ie not gold.

Items not related to monetary policy operations (like gold) are not QE'd.

speedspirit said...

tEON thank you! FOFOA great site.

RJPadavona said...


Another excellent epistle! Although it might sound like heresy to some, I think your posts get better the more infrequent they are. I liken it to finally getting a piece of tail after being in prison for a few years.

The more rare something is, the more valuable it becomes. Whoa, that sounds like an objective analysis of subjective reasoning. I'm so confused. I better stop while I'm ahead. Wait, most people probably don't think I'm ahead.....

Tommy2Tone said...

Lol...I think your a head RJ. You're the BGH, the supreme leader, of course!

50sQuiff said...

"If you could print unlimited amounts of store credit at Macy’s what is the value of that store credit? It’s whatever Macy’s can put out on the shelves."

No, that's not a suitable analogy. The "store credit" in this case can be accepted at Macy's, but also your local Texaco gas station, Shell gas station, Gulf gas station, BP gas station, Total gas station.... you get the picture.

There is also a secondary market for non-Macy's store credit at other stores (eBay), but the credit tokens ALWAYS trade at a discount.

"Wrong. A long time ago it gave a free falling currency a floor but today it does little to value the dollar."

I think that's a rather presumptuous statement. If oil made the dollar the "focal point" wealth reserve in the first place, I find it hard to dismiss oil as a factor in the ongoing maintenance of that "focal point" status.

""So while the value of a currency is what its economy produces that can be purchased with that currency...", doesn't make the oil-pricing currency worth (as in value) more than other currencies! It's all supply and demand. Non-oil producing countries can also generate a trade surplus for many years. Like for instance Germany!"

But - per FOFOA - your euros would only have value to the extent they can purchase goods from the eurozone. Ignore the intermediaries, because that's just a recursive relationship. The euro only has value to the intermediary exchanger, to the extent their forex customer can purchase goods from the eurozone, and so on.

Not the case with the dollar, which is accepted for final settlement for oil. If you disagree, why did Kissinger even bother?

PS said...
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50sQuiff said...

"What makes ABS or Portuguese mortgages better (more moral?) than gold, when it comes to expanding one's supply of digital credit money?"

Someone should ask Draghi this question; why do you think he went out of his way to rule out GOMO? FOFOA drew a bright line between monetary policy and reserves. Perhaps Mario makes the same distinction?

Yeah, and the BOJ are not monetizing debt, because they said so. When a central banker voluntarily utters the word "gold" in a sentence, I see that as significant. Draghi did everything but wink and cross his fingers behind his back.

In any case, you're probably right. I don't see Gold QE happening. I have no insight into ECB policy and the EU is not ANOTHER's EU. It's still evidently a shambolic vassal state of the US.

FOFOA: "Gold is not a form of monetary policy..."

So if the ECB prints due to monetary policy they create liabilities used to buy assets denominated in their own currency. Internal (to their currency zone) QE, ie not gold.

I see what you're getting at, but third-parties can exchange euros for dollars to buy gold, and the ECB can buy gold from them. Can't the BIS facilitate gold purchases in euros?

I know that's not immediately stimulatory to say, the Portuguese housing market, but those euros can only buy eurozone goods, eurozone debt or - I guess - lower the euro's exchange rate.

50sQuiff said...
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50sQuiff said...

"How does that change anything about the fairly suitable analogy given that Texaco, Shell, Gulf, BP, Total shareholders ultimately want the stuff from Macy's --- not even needing oil from each other for themselves.............."

You're speculating that they will never need oil from each other. They fact is they can (and probably do) buy energy from others in dollars. The analogy is poor.

In any case, they stopped buying trying to buy up all the expensive items at Macy's decades ago. They instead hold Macy's credit for:

a) Political reasons (a key plank of the conspiratard's "Petrodollar" concept).
b) A wealth reserve in lieu of their depleting oil.

Oil is more important and pervasive than US goods and services. Therefore my simple and logical assumption is that oil is a more influential factor in pricing the dollar than US goods and services.

Then again, perhaps the Saudis sleep soundly in the knowledge their grandchildren will be able to buy social networking stocks somewhere down the line. Forget energy priced in dollars!

50sQuiff said...

Just two last thoughts.

Wouldn't GOMO allow a central bank to conduct monetary policy while simultaneously improving its reserve position?

Does the political neutrality of gold make it a better (more moral?) vehicle for QE?

Jeff said...

Wouldn't GOMO allow a central bank to conduct monetary policy while simultaneously improving its reserve position?

FOFOA: The ECB's own statements make it clear, every week: Monetary policy, by definition, is stuff you do at home; Reserves—gold and foreign currency/foreign debt—and operations pertaining to reserves, are not part of monetary policy. They are exchange rate manipulations, and the ECB has made it clear that they aren't doing the dirty anymore.

Dante_Eu said...

Oh man, I LUV fish bowl analogies!

It's dawning on more and more people that business as usual isn't coming back. Something else is. We can only wait and see.

In the meantime, all those Bo Polnys, Harvey Organs, Jim Willys, KingWorldies stories and narratives, can be stopped (In mid air, mind you!) and taken down, one by one.


Sam said...


Some comments make you appreciate FOFOA posts such as "moneyness" don't they? When you understand that money is credit it's easier to understand that credit/money gets its value from the creditor/money printer. That is to say final settlement isn't had until the credit is turned back in for something of real value in the real world. Everything else is only half a transaction. Forget countries and currencies for a second lets just say I traded you 10 hours of labor from Sam to be performed anytime in the future for a nice steak. That 10 hour contract of labor is credit and is technically something that can be traded. If you traded it to my neighbor for 10 gallons of oil, it wouldn't have any more or less value. In fact over time if my labor contract traded all throughout my neighborhood for higher and lower values fluctuating with market speculations none of it would truly change the source of the credit's true value. That being Sam's ability to perform the labor itself at some point, the skill in which I do my work, ect.

MatrixSentry said...

Regarding GOMO in the present $IMFS, perhaps there is some utility in asking whether such a mechanism serves the interests of the central bank, and further whether it would be practical in application?

A word generally comes to mind when I consider QE, solvency. QE as I understand it allows for specific targeted strikes on specific triggers of insolvency. These specific targeted strikes are conducted with guided "smart bombs" rather than with strategic weapons designed for total destruction of theatre. Practically speaking, we see efforts to attack the forces that threaten too big to fail entities rather than helicopter money that addresses the entire economic landscape.

Would GOMO serve the central banks in their efforts to focus the assault? I think GOMO is fine strategic weapon where you have conceded the battle but must absolutely attempt to win the war. Are the central banks prepared to concede the battle in all out effort to win the war? I think not.

What about practical apllication of GOMO even if we are to concede the CBs are ready to toss the towel? Where does the gold come from that they would purchase? Specifically, where would the gold come from at any price resembling the current price? If we accept that deliver of gold in size is impossible at current prices, like I do, would not a practical GOMO require a rapid and unbridled rise in gold to facilitate the flow required to satisfy demand? What does such a run in gold say to credibility of CBs and their fiat product?

Perhaps they can get their gold off market, in a manner that we surmize is utilized by Giants. I wonder if anyone will ask where the gold is coming from? Maybe someone would actually try the math and figure out what the price of that new golden asset actually was? What happens next?

Isn't it much easier to conduct MONETARY operations with something more MONEY like? Why not purchase something that is of unlimited quantity, rather than something far less than unlimited quantity that will result in unintended consequences?

Does the ECB intend to roll forth the demise of the $IMFS and the demonetization gold? I think the answer here is no. Do they intend to let nature takes its course and thereby let the $IMFS pass away on its own? Does the ECB want to be known as a murderer or just another victim of the untimely death of the $IMFS.

Someday credibility is going to be important again. Look at the cred the ECB is purchasing now. Why not demonstrate now what the new IMFS will look like and how it will operate? Gold de-monetized and relegated to a boring reserve asset, to be used only in an emergency. A life insurance policy. Other regional "assets" used to affect monetary policy within their zone in pursuit of stability goals. Most importantly, why transfer purchasing power to the USD at the expense of the citizenry within your monetary zone?

I eagerly wait for the next $IMFS crisis. We are due. Will the cavalry miraculously appear in an attempt to save the day once again? Will the world finally turn its backs on the USD?

I am leaning toward a collapse of the gold market that precipitates the inevitable transition. It resonates with me as the most natural expression of death, where the survivors are all joined together as "victims" of a particularly nasty Black Swan. No finger pointing, no black hats. Just the business of getting on with business.

Indenture said...

I'll take 10 hours of Sam credit!
After it had been passed around the FOFOA community, fluctuating in value, someone could turn it in and ask you to write your own Freegold post as final payment.
Ten hours of Sam writing would prove it's worth.

M said...

@ Sam

Money derives its value from what it was worth the day before. The U.S. economy was the last man standing after WW2. This is why it was chosen as the focal point currency for Bretton Woods 1. Then Bretton Woods 1 collapsed as gold was drained from the U.S. So then the U.S. made the deal with Saudi Arabia , to attach the dollar to the central bank of oil. This all just follows up on the point that the dollar was the last man standing after WW2.

I am not sure what your point even is. Why is the dollar hoarded to the death by the mercantilists ? There is no logical reasons behind it. You seem to be trying to give a logical reason for it.

Bright aurum said...


Sam said...

I'll take a +1 from indenture and a -1 from M anyday. M you seem to be talking about how a market values credit but not the source of the credit's value. For instance my 10 hours of labor contract is worth "whatever my last neighbor paid for it." But what if my neighbors don't know I've sold way more contracts than I could ever deliver on even if I lived 500 years? Markets can go up and down but are far from perfect at discovering value. The key is to know the source of something's value and with credit that's easy if you think about it. The source is the credit issuer and until that credit returns to the source all valuations of said credit are market speculations.

As for credits known as dollars it's history is obviously more dynamic than most credit. It was once not just credit but "as good as gold", propped up by oil, structurally supported via hoarding, ect. But these are all external factors that fool all of my neighbors that think a dollar is worth what the last guy paid for it. It's a credit, and until it returns home to be exchanged for something real your market based guesses at its value really don't matter. They don't change the source of the credit itself and they do not alter its true value.

Carillion said...

Well, it looks like the banks have finally decided on a plan to deal with the negative GOFO rates - stop reporting the GOFO monthly figures to the general public!

That will sort everything out, I am sure.


Michael dV said...

belangp has a video on YT that shows how to derive GOFO using still available data. It was recent but I have forgotten the title. Most of his stuff is pretty good.

PS said...
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vizeet srivastava said...
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vizeet srivastava said...

Michael dV,
I think value of GOFO is not very important. What is important is GOFO will be no more after Jan 30. This gives more power to fixing agencies to manipulate.

Unknown said...

FOFOA referenced in Safehaven.com article on backwardation

PS said...
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M said...

@ carillon

Somebody like Peter Schiff, in the spirit of kicking GATA around, will say that GOFO doesn't matter anyway. Because it must be some random coincidence that somebody decided to cover up GOFO.

Michael dV said...

VS and Carillion
Here is the belangp YT vid I mentioned.
In it he shows how to calculate the GOFO with information that will still be available after they stop publishing the actual GOFO. I suppose it will slow some people down but to those who believe it is important it is not going away.
I guess they don't want it widely known that long term GOFO is negative but just not publishing the numbers won't change the facts.

vizeet srivastava said...

Something weird is going on in gold price. Can anyone shed some light on it? I mean if anyone can make sense out of it.
I see gold jumping. Doesn't look normal.

Roacheforque said...

From Reuters:
"By contrast, if the renminbi at some point showed substantial independent movement against the major currencies and if its neighbours' and trading partners' currencies shared that movement, then it might be said that 'the renminbi bloc is here'"

Carillion said...

Michael dv

Thanks for the link! Keeping an eye on what the GOFO rate would be might prove to be useful. I also agree with your sentiments: the banks' approach is like preventing weather forecasts from being made in an attempt to change the weather - it won't change a thing, let alone stop the soon to arrive year of the rains.


You may want to have a read of this article to make sense of the current paper gold movements:


It looks like shorting gold and being long on the Nikkei is currently in vogue, causing an inverse relationship between the two. And right on queue, the Nikkei was down last night, and so paper gold was up today. Still, with Abenomics in full swing, I think we can assume that this inverse relationship will hold for a while yet, perhaps until the yen is dropping quicker than the Nikkei is rising. Or until the gold derivative market breaks...

Anonymous said...


So close, yet so far. All he needs for Christmas is a freegold lens.

M.I.A. said...

Thank you FOFOA.

I have printed off and read and re-read and re-read the recent 4 part mini-series and I just have two queries.

First: In Global Stagnation you say "The dollar's current price is based on a constant monetary inflow each and every month, not a balance of trade, so if that inflow stops, the price of a dollar drops." But hasn't that inflow already been replaced by the Fed purchasing Treasuries? Does that have the same effect (I would presume so), then how come the US$ is apparently strengthening? (Is the strengthening due to the current run to the perceived "safest" currency?)

Second: Right now both China and the Eurozone have heaps of issues and neither look to have a currency that is (currently) a contender for next world reserve currency. So what then if the great reset happens soon? (SDRs?)

Other blog followers please chip in to put me straight!
Happy holidays to one and all here on the Trail.

Sam said...


I'll take the second question because it's the easy one and I'm limited on time. First of all there won't be another "reserve" currency in so much as a reserve currency was designed to be saved because it was redeemable for gold. There will be internationally dominate currencies though which is where some of the confusion can come into play. It's why and how the Euro is both simultaneously designed to replace the dollar and be nothing like it at the same time. As for various countries struggling most of these issues stem from the effects of playing under the rules of our currently broken and ineffective monetary system. A new system will mean new winners and losers. Finally the Euro and Europe's success are not tied at the hip. Europe can go through major pains, booms and busts, ect. and it's currency will be fine the whole time because of its single mandate on inflation and no ties to employment or any nation state

M.I.A. said...

Thank you Sam x 2. First for your response (yep that helps) and second for paragraph (and thread) earlier (amazingly succinct summary).
"As for credits known as dollars it's history is obviously more dynamic than most credit. It was once not just credit but "as good as gold", propped up by oil, structurally supported via hoarding, ect. But these are all external factors that fool all of my neighbors that think a dollar is worth what the last guy paid for it. It's a credit, and until it returns home to be exchanged for something real your market based guesses at its value really don't matter. They don't change the source of the credit itself and they do not alter its true value."

M.I.A. said...

To FOFOA: I am genuinely happy that you outed yourself in the on-line interviews you put up a while back and have stated and re-stated your agenda (most recently in "Six"). It is nice to know you are a regular kinda guy (while appreciating you are just so not a regular kinda guy). I am in awe. How on earth do you write these series posts without an outline and yet make them very readable, logical and clear? I am so pleased you chose to follow Another and FOA. This blog is most definitely not "noise" (a la NNT). I come here to maintain my sanity in this insane world. It helps. Thank you. Thank you.

Edwardo said...

vizeet said,

Something weird is going on in gold price. Can anyone shed some light on it? I mean if anyone can make sense out of it.

I don't know what you are referring to, but what I am finding interesting is how poorly the miners are performing versus contract gold. And contract gold's rally over the last six weeks is far from spectacular.

Bjorn said...

I think perhaps I know what you´re getting at vizeet? I think the last couple of weeks have been unusual in that there has been a lot of very quick, jerky moves. Almost like the market is trying to make big moves but someone (a ham fist?) is trying to balance and contain them. Not just in gold but other markets and most notably the dollar index.
Just a feeling I have from spending way too much time looking at 1 min and 5 min charts.

Zebedee said...

Gold in (AUD) aussie dollars hit a 9 month high today. Who would have thought that given the widespread doom and gloom out there in the gold blogosphere.

Getting expensive too in relation to oil currently sitting just under 20:1 for those who use that as a guide.

Reasonably happy days here in oz for gold owners, not so much for the miners though or aussie dollar holders. Things seem to be just starting to fall apart here in the so called 'lucky country'.

michael3c2000 said...

Check out the huge and very liberal "daily trading collars"! What a nice symbolic gesture- paying explicit lip service to maintaining order in the midst of "volatility", all the while implicitly sending the metals off on their journey with best wishes for a nice trip!

M said...


Yeah Gold is sitting well in CAD too. It's been around $1400 even before the oil selloff. I made a post about an oil bear market in the summer. Not surprised to see it happening. Yet nobody wants it to happen. Not Russia, the ME or the U.S. Oil will probably go the same way gold has for the last 3 years. $40 is in the cards

M said...

The US trade deficit in manufactured goods hit an all time high last month.

So the deficit in the physical plane has never been higher.

Michael dV said...

M ...gold is irrelevant to the working of the economy but oil is needed. If producers can't make pumping turn a profit it will stop the world. How did it affect the world in 2008? I was not paying attention then.

M said...

In 2008, so much money was printed so fast that the conditions that led up to the crisis were recreated. Oil bounced so fast that nothing really had to be done at the producer level. And oil was getting an inflation bid as well as speculation bids.

This now is simply a supply glut. Like any other oil bear market. The world isn't going to stop. Strong oil companies will shut in wells and reduce supply. The weak producers will go under.

Oil is so financialized that serous weakness will probably created another financial crisis. Canadian banks will be insolvent as Albertans, who havnt felt a real recession since 1998, start defaulting on their debt. The whole shale space in the US will get flushed out. Basically , another bail out is in the cards. As well as more QE.

KnallGold said...

Today I've read that Russia sold Gold, it didn't sound logical though - now I see they couldn't read the balance sheet. Don't believe everything the media says.


runninggloves said...

the funny thing is that the media is still able to successfully convince the masses that QE is a temporary phenomenon. flipping that switch on the virtual matrix might not be an overnight event, but shall it start when the people start to believe QE is permanent?

Sam said...


Since nobody answered your first question I'll take it on briefly. When anyone but the FED buys a treasury they don't increase the money supply of dollars. Instead they lend dollars that were used to buy real stuff back to the US government to spend again on more real stuff. This unnaturally props up the value of dollars. When the FED buys treasuries the money supply is increased. The increase in supply is not offset by the usual decrease that occurs when previously spent dollars are loaned back to the source.

One Bad Adder said...

This $Gold seasonal Chart: http://www.321gold.com/charts/seasonalgc.gif - indicates a "price" uptick around this time of year consistent with current observations. Beware however the sudden drop-off at Dec contract expiry.
This one: -http://stockcharts.com/h-sc/ui?s=$XAD&p=D&yr=0&mn=3&dy=0&id=p98263975659 - depicts the $Aussie : $PoG ...and this one: -http://stockcharts.com/h-sc/ui?s=$ONE:$USD&p=W&yr=3&mn=0&dy=0&id=p54846352368 - is the relative performance - $US (inverted) vis-a-vee $PoG.
Despite Systemically being on-the-brink ...situation appears "NORMAL".

goFO said...

Great article! Hey, FOFOA: Can you fly?

M.I.A. said...

Sam, thank you for your comments.
"It's why and how the Euro is both simultaneously designed to replace the dollar and be nothing like it at the same time."
really helped. Am still working through your latest comment but I think I am getting there.

Unknown said...

Im really thinking silver will be left behind in the coming freegold revaluation after reading this latest post. Even at this crap ratio of 75:1 or so does anyone else think it would be a wise idea to trade in silver for gold? Seems the ratio would go to 300:1 or even worse in freegold. Thoughts?

Sam said...

Hi Michael

Yes from a FG perspective silver will be big loser compared to gold. Dollars will devalue against all real things, including silver, but only Gold will be the focal point for savings. There is no need to have more than one place for savings to go as there can never be not enough gold or too high of a price for gold. Silver on the other hand has some real practical uses in society. A real high price in silver would rob the world of a useful industrial metal. For this and other reasons Giants will avoid it. A good argument can actually be made that Silver is currently over valued against all other things except dollars. This is because of a current misplaced investment demand from hard money advocates

Unknown said...

Thank you Sam. Pretty much hit the nail on the head of what I was thinking. Guess I need to trade in 90% of my silver for gold, I think it is the wise choice. Thanks again.

M said...

Draghi wants out

According to well-placed sources who include a prominent private investor and a senior journalist in Rome. “Draghi wants out, fed up and stymied by Berlin,” one of these sources wrote in a note just before the weekend. In a subsequent message: “I am hearing from several [official] sources that he is entirely fed up with the monetary politics he confronts.”

This is great news.

Just seen a speech with James Grant. At the end, he said some good advice is to read When money Dies by Adam Ferguson. I am about half way through. The similarities to the lead up to that hyperinflation and now are downright scary. We are in the thick of it right now. The scariest part was how other countries, who were in decent financial shape, followed Germany's lead into the ground. And how braindead keynesians are capable of being. In the middle of the hyperinflation, the Krugmans of the time surmised that because prices were going up faster then the expansion of the money supply, that printing money was not the cause. Also in the middle of the actual hyperinflation, the government ramped up keynesian spending on infrastructure.

Hopefully the next ECB chair is German.

Indenture said...

Michael M. - You might want to trade in 99.9% of your silver and only keep a few as a memento. A few silver coins for the children to play with is enough because you shouldn't be storing value in silver. Consider them toy or trinkets, but as the old adage goes, 'only buy as much gold as you understand'.

M.I.A. - Have you read 'Euro Gold'?

Unknown said...

Indenture - haha, point well taken. No need to hold silver. Appreciate the comment, wish I would have found this place sooner, I wouldn't have even bought it in the first place. Better late than never. :)

Dim said...

Michael M, I'd guess many of us had to suck it up and swap silver once we understood freegold enough. It helped me sleep much better.

If you haven't already, I recommend reading FOFOAs 'Focal Point Gold' and 'Kicking The Hornet Nest', which address the issue of silver directly.

M.I.A. said...

Sam - have now. Cheers!

Unknown said...

The turning of the worm.

While we wait, and watch.

Carillion said...

Hello Michael M,

Personally, I wouldn't recommend selling all of your silver. Remember that the dollar and other fiat currencies may be hyper-inflating to zero before the freegold transition comes into effect, or while gold is in hiding. At that point, you won't want to sell your gold, but your paper currency might be worthless. That is the time that silver will be of great use.

So keep some silver as spending money. The most extreme period of hyperinflation typically lasts for about three months, so having up to three months of spending money in silver for necessities would be very practical, in my view. Remember that silver was used for trade during the 2008 bout of hyperinflation in Zimbabwe.

Finally, make sure that this silver is either stored at your home or very close by, as you may need to get your hands on it quite quickly for emergencies. Don't store it in a foreign vault!

I hope that helps!

burningfiat said...

Michael M, please don't assume it's a given that silver will hold any value during the transition. As my favorite silver-commenter Poopyjim says in previous comments on this blog:

And no, silver is NO DEFENSE for your gold during the transition, ya joker. Around that time is when I expect we'll break through my target of 10000:1 GSR. If I wanted something which might serve to defend the precious during the transition, I would get EUROS. And in fact, I am thinking of doing just that.


Silver could do quite well... right up until it actually matters - you know, that 'Ahhhh! My currency is worthless and I need food!' moment? All those silver eagles will be hitting the market pretty fast at that point. *oops* so that's why it's called poor man's gold!

I certainly see what Jim means! All of those silvertards holding silver as "spending money" (like Carillion says) will want to spend it all at once... You do the math!

Ken_C said...

I am not sure that you can say for certain that silver will collapse to zero like fiat will. I am not sure of the exact numbers but the amount of silver in circulation, storage, hiding pales in comparison to the amount of fiat in currency or digital form. If currency is worthless then silver will have "some" value.

FWIW I traded almost all of my silver for gold last year. I still have some eagles. they are very pretty and they make nice small token gifts and who knows they may be of some value.

Indenture said...

Ken C - Exactly! Silver Eagles are perfect for token gifts and they are very pretty . There is something satisfying about the feel and weight of an Eagle. But for value? When it counts? Stock your pantry now and be done with the thought so years from now you can sit with your grandchild on your knee and say, "I remember when..." as you hand him the coin.

Canadarob said...

With oil in a free fall, has the rubber met the road? I haven't seen much discussion/speculation on what's going on. Is the falling oil price related to someone not getting their gold or is it just a chess move. All the uninformed lemmings around me go on and on about it being a supply/demand issue but I don't buy it yet at the same time I don't have a logical explanation.

Ken_C said...

Indenture - Actually I am giving the Eagles to my grandchildren now as small gifts for birthdays and stocking stuffer Christmas gifts and such.
I expect to give them my gold also when I pass but I hope that is later.......much later.

byiamBYoung said...


I certainly can't fully answer your question, but the falling oil price (to me) appears to be mostly about oversupply and lower demand. I heard just tonight that US refineries are operating at their highest capacity in quite some time, maybe ever. This, combined with OPEC continuing without cutting back, and a generally lower global demand due to softening economic conditions is hammering the oil price. And from what I am reading, this bottoming out may be with us for a while.

Some speculate that there is an aim to harm Russia in the mix, and that may be true, but I haven't seen any direct evidence that that is true. Who knows?

Since in the US, shale wells give out after only a couple of years, and given the junk nature of much of the shale financing, we are now in a pickle.

New well starts have dropped severely (something like 40% down), and it looks like there is virtually no current appetite for the HY credit that funds these ventures. It may be that the shale boom is hitting a very formidable wall.

I have no idea how this could affect the wider markets, with derivative plays here and there, but since (as I understand) the lion's share of the US economic recovery is attributable to shale oil and the peripheral support industries they spawned, it could be a serious problem lumbering toward us.

I'm reading as fast as I can on this topic, because it looks (to me) like the type of hull breach that could really monkey hammer the world economy. And I don't know if the world economy can handle another massive shock of this size, if one of this size has ever happened.

Maybe someone more informed can chime in and add some context. As a casual observer, though, this event has my full attention.

Archer said...

Canadarob asks,

Has the rubber met the road. Is the falling oil price related to someone not getting their gold or is it just a chess move

I doubt it means that some *giant* isn't getting their gold. I think gold would have properly gone into hiding by now were that the case. But if the price of oil falls far enough, it may well signify and/or set in motion conditions that the $IMFS can not overcome.

Despite your reservations along this line, consider, for a moment, that the excessively debt laden global economy is, in fact, faltering again, and that this has put strong downward pressure on oil prices. Meanwhile, some of the stronger OPEC producers have astutely seem this as an opportunity to get one up on the competition. As such they are in no hurry to make production cuts. Thrown into this nasty bargain, much of the competition can't stop producing, because they just flat out need the revenue. All in all it's a super recipe for what we have now, a free fall in crude oil prices.

But wait, there's more. To my way of thinking, the so called shale oil and gas miracle in the U.S. has been, in the main, yet another example in a long line of $IMFS induced malinvestment and misallocation of capital follies. It's signature achievement may well have been to have created a global structural glut of energy right into the teeth of a world whose growth was grinding to a halt due to overly burdensome debt obligations built up over a generation or two.

From where I sit, this latest misbegotten adventure in $IMFS induced ponzi finance stands a decent chance of acting as the catalyst for something of much greater impact than just crashing oil prices.

Michael dV said...

Harry Dent...just in case anyone was wondering if Harry had come around yet...nope...still sees 700 dollar gold and deflation. Just listened to Greg Hunter interview him. He hasn't changed one note in his tune....see saved ya 20 minutes.

Unknown said...

Any thoughts on Gunvor ceasing gold trading?
What are the key words in this quote?
"documented origin" or "steady supplies"
I doubt they are worried about selling 'conflict metal'

‘Gunvor executives decided to abandon the precious metals trading business partly because of difficulties in finding steady supplies of gold where the origin could be well documented.’

john said...

In an extreme event when gold hides and people panic there may be a small window to unload silver at a good profit, but you'd have to be extremely lucky to be in the right place at the right time to do it.

Michael dV said...

I know nothing about that company but a worry about the source of gold seems odd. I suppose it could be pressure from the USA but how much suspicious gold is there floating around the world? One of the beautiful things about gold is that it can be melted and all traces of it's origin can just disappear. One just needs some one to claim it was old family gold.....very odd...maybe dealing in size is different but gold is always an opaque market so again...makes no sense.

Unknown said...

Gunvor group, from their website:
"Gunvor Group is one of the world’s largest independent commodities trading houses by turnover, creating logistics solutions that safely and efficiently move physical energy, metals and bulk materials from where they are sourced and stored to where they are demanded most"


Unknown said...

Doesn't look like I can edit my post so here is a separate post with a link to an article mentioning the difficulty of getting hold of gold with known origin.


LD said...
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LD said...

From the Guvnor website:

Precious Metals
Operating out of Singapore, Gunvor supplies customers with risk management, physical purchasing and sales, and market information. Our trading team has deep experience in the global financial and capital markets, and we maintain a network in precious metal trading around the world.

Note the focus on purchasing and sales of physical gold. Maybe the flow of gold is shrinking. And maybe gold is going into hiding.

Anyone with more accurate reasons for exiting the physical gold trade? Do share.

LD said...

More consolidation in the gold industry


GOLD & SILVER refining will end at Johnson Matthey Plc next March after more than 160 years, as the UK-listed chemicals and technology company sells the brand's last two major bullion refining plants to Asahi Holdings of Japan.

Anyone with JM bars? They could become collectors items.

JJ said...

Maybe this oil slump could be the last pull to a deflationary slump (disregarding bubbles) before HI sets in?

The reason for OPEC not to cut could be whatever but it will IMO give deflation.., which must be fought to maintain the dollar..,

Lower oilprices give bigger trade/budget deficit for USA which IMO will most likely be met with printing.

Lower oilprices should also give goldshorts incentive to push prices further down.., maybe towards 700-1000 USD? In this deflationary slump, is where I expect to see divergence between physical and paper in gold.

I'm aware that I skip a lot of (obvious) steps/dots in this reasoning but English being my third language -- I'm excused -- :-)

speedspirit said...

Can someone please post a link to "Kicking a Hornets Nest" so I can read FOFOA's thoughts on Silver investing.

Zebedee said...

@ speedspirit


Tommy2Tone said...

@ Speedspirit

jojo said...
If you type this into google:


followed by your search term so it looks like this:

site:fofoa.blogspot.com sdr

You will get results from just this blog.
December 4, 2014 at 6:22 AM

Marco Polo said...

Tumultuous day. Ruble savaged by speculators on the markets. Prediction: another sharp rise in Russian interest rates overnight. Next will be tight capital controls and Russian default. Strikes, widespread unrest. Trouble is Putin has very high approval ratings within Russia. He will find it very easy to blame external enemies of the motherland.

Putin will go postal and annex more territory. This is a very high stakes game. Be under no illusion, WWIII has started.

Indenture said...


"Beyond that, I say buy only as much gold as your understanding allows. For many who have read my blog for years, understanding has led them to be 90% to 100% in physical gold. I, myself, am very close to that. And I know a few that have been 100% all in since the late 90s, with $millions in physical gold. But you don’t do that unless you have complete understanding of what you are doing and why. Only buy a percentage of gold equal to your understanding. 5% is a no-brainer and anything less than 5% is reckless pigheadedness with what's happening today. That’s my best advice."

Indenture said...

Marco Polo: Russian default? Could you explain?

Roacheforque said...

Current events certainly seem indicative of A and FOA's (how will you know the end is nigh) predictions, like gold and the dollar rising together, FX and gold volatility, etc... As FOFOA has mentioned in this last post, "My recommendation is to be prepared now, because that's the best way to avoid stress and regrets, which, IMO, are two things that are well worth avoiding. Either way it ends, I can't imagine how it could take too much longer.
A good time to stock the pantry I suspect!

Carillion said...

Burningfiat says:

"All of those silvertards holding silver as "spending money" (like Carillion says) will want to spend it all at once... You do the math!"

Less than 1% of those living in the West hold any silver bullion, so where is this avalanche of silver going to come from which will make it worthless in say, the UK or the US during a period of hyper-inflation?

Also, can you define the term "silvertard" for me? How much silver bullion do you have to own to to be considered a "silvertard"?

Still, buying Euros and stocking the pantry in preparation also makes sense. I think we can at least agree on that much.

Blake said...

I've been re-reading some mid-2012 posts about paper vs. physical gold.


Those posts essentially posit that paper gold is used, at least partly, to quell/manage physical demand: If flow is tight, then paper gold is allowed to rise so that less physical is needed to meet the (presumable) currency demand for gold.

Doesn't this seem to contradict the notion that gold in size trades at a different (i.e., higher) price?

Indenture said...

FOFOA posits that gold in size trades at $55,000 in 2009 dollars. Paper gold is incapable of climbing that high because it would destroy the $IMFS. There is no contradiction.

Indenture said...


burningfiat said...

Carillion, you said it yourself: Silver is spending money.
Talk about supply overhang!

10000:1 GSR FTW

My Silvertard definition: If you own silver because you expect it to perform during a collapse (but wont spend your gold) and at that exact same time expect others, experiencing the same collapse, to buy your silver, you might be a Silvertard.

Blake said...

Indenture -

If the "price" of gold is managed upwards to help alleviate tight flow and, therefore, keep gold flowing to where it needs to go, that would imply that the "price" of gold is at least relevant to physical flow dynamics, no? In other words, there are not two discrete levels of gold price.

Canadarob said...

I own a little bit of silver because the bottom line is no one knows what will happen so I like to be in both. You may find your self in a situation where someone will give you their truck for an ounce of silver that cost you $20.00. No one knows but I'm going to keep a couple ounces just in case because it costs me virtually nothing.

Indenture said...

Blake: Gold must flow to those who absolutely require it.

Try reading these:

Jeff said...

Guvnor: “Because of difficulties in finding STEADY supplies of gold where the ORIGIN could be well documented”

Aren't the steadiest supplies of gold from the miners, via the refiners? Someone move closer to the miners?

The Writer: London unspins, but the World does not notice. Tiger wiskers, are ground fine and prepared for the feast. Eat carefully, West.

Indenture said...


Also try:

Michael dV said...

Freegolders understand that the ECB has a big red button that says: In Case of Emergency Buy Big Gold. this would kill the paper gold market and shake gold derivatives. I wonder if Putin realizes he has the same big red button. He certainly has the US dollars to buy big gold.

Archer said...

Canadarob wrote:

You may find your self in a situation where someone will give you their truck for an ounce of silver that cost you $20.00.

Should you find someone monumentally benighted, you may make such a trade, but that's about the only circumstance in which you can expect to be so lucky. The rest of the community will have no use for your silver.

Robert said...

The best strategy is to plan now so that you can live at home without the need to buy anything at all for 6 months. If the world descends into economic chaos I plan to ride out the storm by cutting my consumption and living simply until the storm passes. What would I use silver coins to buy that I do not already have? Apart from food, which I have already purchased, there is some risk (however remote) about stable utility supply (but I guarantee that the utility companies won't be taking silver coins). But what else? Essential medicines? It's gotta be a short list. I would love to take a 6 month vacation from the world and read all of those unread books on my shelves.

Michael dV said...

FG has an appeal of a gold revaluation.There are good arguments for why it cold happen, I see no such reason for silver to emerge in that way. In my opinion it is a fantasy. We have had several folks here share their experience during hyperinflation. It is always the currency that is used up to the bitter end.
That means you must exchange metal for currency. I'm convinced gold will be far superior to silver but many cling to the notion silver will somehow be 'a better deal'. I think many see gold as 'too expensive' even though a gram of gold is only 40 bucks now.
If there is a sudden collapse and unrest I'm with you. Learning to play a few new songs and reading. If I have to venture out I will consider it failure of planning.

Jeff said...


What's the difference between an honest broker and a fence? If I came to you with a heretofore unknown painting by Picasso, and told you it was an old family possession, would you help me sell it? Suppose you had heard rumors that the dictator of Libya had been thought to have such a painting, and it was now missing, or that the nation of Ukraine had misplaced some artwork in their recent unpleasantness. Will you buy trouble?

With very valuable things, provenance matters very much.


Anand Srivastava said...

Marco Polo:
What default are you talking about?

I am hearing that their treasury is overflowing with rubles. Yes foreign imports have become more expensive, but are Russians really need any critical items from the rest of the world. I think they make everything. The deficit was purely to buy luxury items. With the Ruble crisis, the luxury items will no longer be bought. It will actually cause problems with the external world.

Russia doesn't have much debt which would need to be defaulted on. Its not post war Germany, with imposed payments.

Russia is in a much better position than US will be after then next crisis. I think Shale oil can precipitate the next crisis. I think the price of oil is going to stay low, and it looks like it is going to go below 40.

Canadarob said...

Archer, I agree that gold is the better buy. I think people trying to convince themselves that silver is a better buy are doing just that, trying to convince themselves. I don't want to get into a big heated debate about it because we are probably on the same page. I do like to keep a little silver for that small chance of a big trade.
Something else that nags at me however, is, what is jpmorgan so big in the silver suppressing business? I am curious what an ounce of silver will be worth. I do t think $5-$10 is realistic like some people seem to think. But I I don't really know. I mean, isn't it undervalued just by the amount of paper silver?

Unknown said...

It looks to me as if there is some political game going on in Silver and for that reason I also like to hold some. In case of a black swan moon shot. I am mainly thinking about the open interest of 730M oz and what happened leading up to Dec with Dec contracts en masse choosing to quit instead of rolling over (or taking delivery). This despite the negative GOFO rate. Despite this the total open interest, where the longs are hugely under water has remained stubbornly high. It just feels like someone for some purpose is using silver as a pressure point.

KnallGold said...

" I wonder if Putin realizes he has the same big red button. He certainly has the US dollars to buy big gold. "

Yeah, but the traders (raiders) want RUSSIA'S Gold, of course such an article had to be expected:


With the increase in sanctions (again) from the USA just now, when Lawrow tried to deescalate, it is clear that America is in its final attack.

And where the hell is German politics? Don't wanna start a rant but Draghi might be onto something. German Angst explains so much, well, if it can't be changed, make them more angst about deflation!

Oil: to the posters above, of course it's supply and demand but we have learned that the oil price is political. Aside that, it's interesting to note the difference to 2007, prices are falling now and there aren't food shortages. A lower oil price could be viewed as positive but it induced more anxiety.

Last week, imho, marked a switch in psychology, towards deflation.

Spengler said...

"I do t think $5-$10 is realistic like some people
seem to think. But I I don't really know."

When I first bought silver (before I discovered this blog), mining analysts like srsroccoreport reported it was priced below production costs. Today, it is even more so below production costs (said to be above $20 on average). Back then, I was looking for something outside paper to protect my purchasing power, and not so much for a 'launch to the moon'. Silver seemed prudent, because I figured mining below production costs can't be sustained in the long run.

Thanks to this blog, I now understand that gold is the right wealth reserve. So I sold much of the silver at a loss and only added gold ever since. I still think of the remaining silver as to be undervalued too because of the mining costs analyses, so I don't mind to still have some. If FG were to happen before silver is priced at a more sustainable level, then that's ok with me too. Afterall, my main purpose to begin with was to save purchasing power.

Jorge said...



This post has been one of the most illuminating for me and has really helped me further my understanding of the ideas behind Freegold. I'm still not quite at the point where I can synthesize the argument on my own, but I've been reading the site for a while now, and only lately has the full picture begun to form in my mind.

There are still many areas that I'm not clear about, and I'm hoping to discuss with you guys.

1) About the stock market

I understand that the stock market is manipulated and distorted, first by central banks in purchasing assets and by large funds which are chasing returns so that they can meet their obligations to their members. That said, however, stock investments also represent investments in real assets, not only paper, so I don't quite see what is so bad about them. In a high inflation or hyperinflation scenario, I would expect the value of a company's cash & bond holdings to decline, but at the same time, as the economy becomes less financialized and as real assets comprise a larger share of the overall economy, the value of those real assets should act as a counterweight and raise the value of those companies that have a real business behind them. I would expect this even if the currency itself is destroyed, since the destruction of a currency doesn't destroy real assets, and a company's real assets will still be there.

I am personally favourable toward index funds, and the historical record shows that the market return exceeds other type of investments and savings over the long term, even through the Great Depression and other recessions of the past. I get the value of gold and other savings for the short term, but I don't see them being in the same class as investments, and I don't see why investments would not be important going forward. In fact, if the economy is going to be stronger after we pass through the fire of currencies, then I would expect that to be very bullish for the markets in the longer term.


Jorge said...


2) About the US economy

If I understand the argument correctly, the trigger is going to be when the next crisis hits and foreign central banks refuse to prop up the USD by filling in the collapse of private purchasing. The counterargument for why it hasn't happened yet is because the world still needs the USD and needs the US economy to continue consuming so that they can industrialize their own economies.

The part that I am less clear on, is why wouldn't the game go on for another 10 years, or longer? Another thought the trigger would come back at the end of the last century, but the game has gone on for a decade and a half since then. I look around at the world, and while the US economy may have problems, I don't see how it's better anywhere else in the world. The US has Silicon Valley and still retains some elements of free-market thinking and entrepreneurialism. In Europe, I see a bunch of welfare states and masses of unemployed, and in Asia I see a lot of copying and crony capitalism, and a lack of true innovation & liberalization. Whatever problems the US has, I don't see anywhere else in the world where it's better.

3) About populism

Should the transition happen, I have fears about what that will do to elected governments and the economic system. Most people, including the intelligent and well-educated, are ignorant of basic economics and lean socialist, perhaps due to our evolutionary history of living in small tribes with no capital accumulation. To these people, the free market and free trade are right-wing myths propagated by big business and the Republican party in order to benefit evil capitalists and increase the exploitation of the 99% by the 1%. Anyone who supports these ideals hates poor people and needs to be purged in the revolution to come.

Again, where can someone go to escape this? I live in a high-tax province in Canada, but I don't really see many opportunities out there. The US? Not somewhere I want to go to at this point in history. Europe? Too anti-immigrant, high taxes, bad economies and much less economically free than Canada. Asia? Learning the language would be difficult, these countries are too homogenous and anti-immigrant, and in the case of China, far too polluted and unfree.

The only real option seems to me to be a rich city-state like Singapore, but unless one is already independently wealthy and has connections, I don't see how one could get started there. The socialists are right in that the 1% are the only ones that really have options to escape the coming conflagration. For the rest of us, most of the world is one giant tax-farm, and I don't really see any good options out there.

I would really appreciate some insights and discussion from those of you who are less ignorant than I am on these subjects. :)

Tommy2Tone said...


1) You are saying you prefer stocks (paper) over a revaluation of gold (physical). If you read on at this blog, you may change your mind. Yes, some stocks will make it through the fire. Gold , on the other hand, will be revalued against all goods and services.
Regarding your idea of a counterweight, please read this post:

Also check out:

" I get the value of gold and other savings for the short term, but I don't see them being in the same class as investments, and I don't see why investments would not be important going forward. In fact, if the economy is going to be stronger after we pass through the fire of currencies, then I would expect that to be very bullish for the markets in the longer term."

is pretty messed up.
Gold, savings and then "short term" are not compatible.
I would suggest you read the Moneyness series and if you haven't read The Debtors and Savers, then please, start there.(http://fofoa.blogspot.com/2011/11/moneyness.html)
We aren't just "passing through the fire of currencies"- there's a revaluation coming.
Have you read the Candid View series? (august 2013)

2) You are right, it could happen in 10 years or at lunch today. Best to be prepared. More reading here will also help you understand how it is that it is really past due.
Remember as you look around at other economies and countries- you are seeing the current state of the worlds continued use of a dying system. If you are looking for somewhere to "be better", well you may be looking for a while. That's on par with tilting at windmills IMO.

3) This has been discussed a lot in past years and the basic consensus is, stay where your at. Prepare yourself to be self sufficient for 6 months or more. The storm metaphor is very apt. Prepare to hunker down for a hurricane of epic proportions that could last 6-12 months.

Knotty Pine said...

Hi Jorge, welcome to the blog and thanks for the thoughtful post.

For me personally I see nothing wrong with investing in an index fund after the reset. Today the stock market and the $USD itself are horribly overvalued. I think there will be a time to consider investing in the US markets but that time is not now.

My focus is how to preserve my wealth through the transition. I believe the best way is to save in physical gold. It sounds to me like you are viewing investing as a form of saving but to me they are very different.

No one here knows how the transition will play out or how long the $IMFS can survive. When I found this blog I decided to develop a plan for long term wealth preservation and that includes saving a portion of my excess production in gold. I don't even think about it much anymore and certainly would be losing sleep if I was still worried about timing the transition.

I don't know how much of the blog you have read but here are a couple of posts that may help:


Knotty Pine said...

Dumping The Dollar?

Jorge said...

Hi Jojo, Knotty Pine,

Thank you for the warm welcome and advice. My previous reply to you guys was lost. :(

To keep it short, I want the transition to come and I believe that gold will be the best way of preserving wealth. I may have misspoke here. About savings & investment, I know that they are not the same, but for me, investments are still a form of savings because I'll be selling them at some point in my life to reap the capital gained.

After the transition, I'm confused as to whether this community believes that gold will outperform equities for long-term capital growth. Would we not want to continue investing in equities, and would they not continue to be the best means of long-term growth?

If I'm totally off-base, I'm happy to continue to further my understanding of things.

Indenture said...

Jorge: As long as you understand that Savings (in physical gold) are simply to preserve purchasing power since the price of gold will rise with inflation and that Investing (in what ever form you think will generate income) is a risk then you are closer to understanding Freegold.

There is no risk being a Saver.
There is risk being an Investor.

Will Investing generate more purchasing power than Saving? Possibly. But there is risk.

To move through the transition it is optimal to be a Saver.
After transition allocate the amount of risk you are willing to accept based on your desire for more 'possible' purchasing power.

Reality Show said...

Hi Jorge, it is the current system that blurs the distinction between savings and investments. Savers are encouraged to combat currency depreciation by seeking a higher yield through investing, but that entails taking on both currency, capital and counter-party risk. Maybe you'll reap some nominal gain one day, maybe you'll sell to stem losses. Who knows? But investments are not savings, they are risk ventures.

I hold gold as savings, not for capital appreciation but for wealth preservation, with zero counter-party risk. I also hold some silver as a hedge against a pre-FG depreciation in my particular non-Dollar currency zone. I imagine there are a few Russians who are glad they held silver over Rubles recently.

Anyways, the links offered above really help to illustrate the distinctions from an FG perspective.

Tommy2Tone said...

Hi Jorge,

"but for me, investments are still a form of savings because I'll be selling them at some point in my life to reap the capital gained."

What's tricky is that while that statement has proven true for around 30 years,or more, at this point in time things are on the cusp of changing. There is a transition to account for if you develop the view that the freegold lens affords.
One can't invest his way through this coming storm.
Get out of the monetary plane and into the physical plane and batten down the hatches.

As far as after the transition, you really should read that Candid View series, plus the glimpsing hereafter series.
Yes there will still be investing and risk but no where near the size, nor with the amount of players as today.
Most people are really savers who would prefer to save their purchasing power versus being forced into investing it- which is what passes as saving today for too many people.
Today, it's Focal Point Paper.
Then, it will be Focal Point Gold (also the name of a post you should read).
It's commonly said around here : RTFB or RRTFB which is: read (or) reread the f'ing blog :)
It's not a smartass reply. It's the truth. Read read read. :)

Jorge said...

Thank you for the replies, I really appreciate it, and I have some more clarity now about all of this. I understand that the transition is the crucial point to get through, so that enough wealth remains to make a decision about investing and saving once we get past that point. It might still be index funds for the long term, but if a large part of the historical returns is due to asset inflation that doesn't return, then maybe the markets won't be as important in the future.

I still worry about populism and tax farming, though. I hope that balance to the world economy brings some balance here as well.

I'll get on reading. :)

JJ said...


A very simplified way of looking at this could be that the biggest commodity bubble in the history of mankind is about to burst since the commodity is no longer needed, in the way it is used today, due to.., well.., the system evolving. This bubble consists of the US$.

This has been in the cards since (depending on how u value insight) at least the 60-ies. But the story is really as old as mankind.

And you want more of this commodity? Invest in it? The (most?) CBs have stopped supporting the bubble and without this support the bubble can fullfil its purpose.., blow up..,

Maybe it would be helpful if u could imagine Zimbabwe $ as US$? Being in Zimbabwe and no way out.., would u really invest(save/trade/HFT in the Zimbabwe stock exchange.., on some safe index product? In the long run?

Blake said...

I just re-read "Think Like A Giant"


From that post, we assume the USG budget deficit is funded by either savers or the FED.

FOFOA posited in October 2012 that the USG would increase it's spending and that the Fed would monetize the same because savers wouldn't pick up the slack. Effectively, the USG wouldn't crash it's lifestyle and the FED would print like crazy to keep them that way.

Fast forward to today. The budget deficit is down and QE has apparently ended. FOFOA posited that if no new QE was announced, we should look to the dollar exchange rate and/or CPI (where the rubber meets the road). Yet today, the dollar is ripping higher and prices are stable.

What are we to make of an apparently declining budget deficit? To me, it seems this is playing out exactly opposite of what we were expecting back in October 2012.

The Jackalope said...

Excellent question Blake, I too would love to read a satisfactory answer to that question.

Anand Srivastava said...

Jorge: If you were in Russia and you were invested in index funds there. Would you love it at the moment.

Similar would be US stocks during transition. The difference would be that US will be printing while Russia is not

Anand Srivastava said...

I think at the moment there are too many stupid foreigners piling into dollars. Will this state continue through the next crisis is the question this post delved into. When the next crisis hits there will be a dollar problem and no foreign CB will step in.

That is how I read it. The low oil may precipitate the next one.

The Jackalope said...

I think blaming "stupid foreigners" for that not coming to pass is a bit of a cop out. Whats to say they wont stay stupid?

Archer said...

Stu Ungar wrote:

I think blaming "stupid foreigners" for that not coming to pass is a bit of a cop out. Whats to say they wont stay stupid?

It's not a cop out. it's precisely on point. "Stupid foreigners" won't continue to act stupidly when their dumb money gets roughed up. Dumb money is hot money. Dumb money will bolt in a way that "official" money will not, because official money is about system maintenance, not profit.

The monthly TIC data shows pretty clearly that official money ain't there like it used to be, but private money remains...for now.

The Jackalope said...

Given the expected and predicted continued strength in the dollar, what will cause that to happen?

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