This article originally appeared at The Daily Reckoning.
-- I don't remember the sound of wolves howling in the distance, but it was a darkly inauspicious start to the beginning of the Bernanke reign of monetary terror and pain, as Total Fed Credit at the Federal Reserve shot up by $6.7 billion last week, which is a handy measure of the amount of excess money and credit are being created - poof! -out of thin air by the monstrous Federal Reserve.
But that pales in comparison to the biggest and most unbelievable fraud, which is NOT that I pretend that I am a decent, caring human being, but that the total debt of the United States is now at $8.248 trillion, which is $8,248 billion, which is $8,248,000 million, which is enough to make instant millionaires out of 2.8% of the population of the country! We owe, as a taxpaying nation, enough money to create instant millionaires out of almost 1 in 30 people in the country! My God! My eyes bug out of my head and my stomach churns, going gorp gorp ga-lorp, at the very thought of such monetary, financial, economic and social malfeasance, and I think to myself "Do I have enough frozen pizzas and ammunition to sustain me during the economic upheaval that is coming?"
Now you want to know, "What upheaval?" Well, on the WorldNewsTrust.org site we read "The Laboratoire européen d'Anticipation Politique Europe 2020 (LEAP/E2020) now estimates to over 80% the probability that the week of March 20-26, 2006 will be the beginning of the most significant political crisis the world has known since the Fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, together with an economic and financial crisis of a scope comparable with that of 1929." I re-read and re-read and re-read that part about it being "comparable" to 1929, which is the year that the stock market crashed and ushered in the Great Depression. But there is, so these guys say, only an 80% chance of that, which is the exact odds my wife figured of our marriage lasting less than a week. They are obviously not interested in my matrimonial problems, and blithely continue "This last week of March 2006 will be the turning-point of a number of critical developments, resulting in an acceleration of all the factors leading to a major crisis, disregarding any American or Israeli military intervention against Iran. In case such an intervention is conducted, the probability of a major crisis to start rises up to 100%."
Of course, I could not let it pass without a snide and sneering comment that the Treasury Department of the United States has now, illegally, put us $64 billion dollars farther in debt, in just a couple of weeks, than is authorized by law! As aghast as that makes me, I can only imagine with horror what foreign creditors make of this terrifying development, now that the damned Treasury Department has proved to the world that laws mean nothing to it, nor to the executive branch, nor to the legislative branch, who all sit there watching and doing nothing.
Addison Wiggin at the DailyReckoning.com site thinks about that for a minute, and innocently asks "But you have to ask yourself, how much faith would you put in an I.O.U. from a friend who has sinking job prospects, soaring credit card bills, a double mortgage, a chronic gambling problem and - it turns out - a bad habit of lying about how much money he has in the first place?" I thought he was talking about The Mogambo there for a minute, especially about that "sinking job prospects" thing.
So I asked, "What do you mean about 'sinking job prospects', Addison?" He answered, "If you use the real statistics to calculate unemployment, the way we used to calculate it back in 1980, the real unemployment rate is a much more devastating 12.5%." Yow!
The good news, they say (but they are wrong) is that consumer spending went up, even if nobody is working, by 2.3% in January. How to explain it? Well, it could be that consumers are still spending those gift cards they received for Christmas, I suppose. Or they may be out spending money because they are getting raises and bonuses I haven't heard about, and never hear about, because every time I go in and ask for a raise, they say "What? Are you still working here?" and then I scram, hoping to leave well-enough alone. And it's worked out very well all these years, except for, you know, the raise thing.
Or it could be that that consumers are spending by cutting back on other things. For instance, Tom Dyson, writing for DailyWealth.com, reports that taxi drivers, by dint of their conversing with so many passengers in their cabs, have a good idea of what is really happening. One driver told Mr. Dyson that he thinks " The economy is bad at the moment." Mr. Dyson sums up the cabby's assessment as "Business is hard. No one goes out anymore."
The driver also has friends in the restaurant business, and "They are struggling to make ends meet. It used to be easy, but nobody's spending anymore."
Then again, it may be (and I think it is) that consumer spending went up not because consumers are actually buying MORE stuff, but that the stuff they ARE buying merely costs more, which it is. Remember, the report says only that consumers spent more, not that they bought more stuff!
Of course, being officially diagnosed with Mogambo Fear And Paranoia Syndrome (MFAPS) means I see inflation and treachery everywhere. For you non-medical professionals, MFAPS is the heartbreaking condition where you fear inflation as the greatest threat to mankind, because it is. Furthermore, you see enemies everywhere, mostly on the political Left, as that group of grinning morons actually believe that spending more money, and having a bigger government, and having more of the population dependent upon government spending and government support will (insert drum-roll) solve problems, which is so absurdly stupid that it is all I can do to restrain myself from actually tracking Democrat politicians down, one by one, grabbing them by the neck, and slapping their silly damned faces until they get some smarts. And in case anyone asks you, you can tell them yes, I am MORE than willing to keep slapping, slapping, slapping their stupid little smarmy faces for as long as it takes, too!
And since we are talking about inflation, for some bad news on the inflation front, the Producer Price Index rose 0.3 percent in January, and I am reminded that the PPI rose 0.6 percent in December, too. PPI is supposed to measure the prices paid to those who actually produce something, like factories, refiners and farmers, who then sell the value-added product to other intermediaries, one after another, until it gets to the final consumer, which is me, who has to pay a price high enough so that a lot of middlemen can make a profit, even as they, too, battle the dark forces of higher prices and higher taxes.
The Core Producer Price Index, which happily excludes food and energy prices, rose 0.4 percent in January. I gulp and open my eyes real wide in this cute and comical little way that I have, which I call the Mogambo Cute And Comical Little Way That I Have (MCACLWTIH), when I am getting ready to plotz from fear right here on the spot and probably soil my pants.
Bloomberg News, apparently thinking that I am real funny, replies with their own attempt at dry, weird humor, and they write "The report may raise concern that businesses will pass rising raw materials costs on to consumers." Hahahaha! What did they say? Hahahaha! Can you name ANY cost that is NOT passed along to the freaking consumer? Hahaha! This is too rich!
How in the hell can a business stay in business UNLESS they can pass along all the costs? Before I can get a good rant going, here comes Zapata George Blake, which is a hell of a terrific name, writing at FinancialSense.com, saying "If there are no profits, our corporations will cease to exist. Not all will cease to exist, but those that are engaged in high employee cost, or in manufacturing of items that are in direct competition with China, such as automobiles, steel, aluminum, light bulbs, television sets, etc. If you make it in a factory, you'll probably be out of business."
Standing up and striding back the microphone, I was intending to launch into how this is a good thing for gold, and a bad thing for stocks, bonds and houses, but before I could say anything, Mr. Blake endears himself to the crowd by telling them how to make money on it! He says "The only surefire investment opportunity," he says " is to have the things that the Chinese must purchase, things that they don't have: oil, natural gas, copper, certain grades of coal, all of the base metals such as zinc, lead, and in particular uranium. Uranium will be in great demand. The other main class of items they will need is agricultural." Why agricultural? Well, he says the Chinese have "7% or the world's agricultural land, 24% of the world's population."
And although we are completely unrelated, notice how he, too, focuses on the exact same macroeconomic things on which I focus, the chief one being prices, including (and especially) the price of energy.
"The rising cost of energy and the falling value of our dollar in world markets," he goes on to say, will make our energy costs "soar beyond belief."
"Beyond belief"? This is the most second-most horrible news that could befall you. The worse news is learning that I bought the house next door to you, which would explain the "For Sale" signs in all the yards on the block
Byron King, who does NOT live next door to The Mogambo and is disinterested in even thinking about it because he says it makes him "queasy", tells us that the oil problem of falling supply is not going away. It is getting worse: "Princeton Geology Professor Ken Deffeyes has come out with a new statement about the timing of Hubbert's Peak. According to his calculations, the world passed the geological peak of its oil production in December of 2005."
But this is not about energy and how higher energy costs are going to make prices rise, but about inflation, which is the measure of prices that have ALREADY risen. And in that regard, the Labor Department said that U.S. import prices climbed 1.3 percent in January!! Note the rare use of the double exclamation point, which, if you use your Official Mogambo Decoder Ring (OMDR), means for you to gather up your gold and your guns and get the car gassed and ready to go.
They say that the cost of imported petroleum shot up 6.4 percent, which is plenty bad enough, but (and you had better sit down for this) EXPORT prices also rose 0.7 percent! This export stuff is the stuff we are, and correct me if I am wrong here, exporting! This is the stuff that is supposed to be going down in price, thanks to a weaker dollar! Yet 0.7 inflation in one month, times 12 months a year, comes out to 8.4% inflation a year!
Well, about this time Bloomberg sees all the attention I am getting by reporting the horrifying inflation statistics, and they grab the microphone out of my hand and say that we ain't seen nuthin' yet, as "Costs of intermediate goods, those used in earlier stages of production, rose 1.2 percent last month and are up 9.3 percent in the 12 months ended in January." Gaaahhh! I'm screaming in fear! My heart is pounding through my chest and I feel woozy.
Then Bloomberg turns and sees me lying there, prostrate on the floor, ostensibly killed by the shock of the terrible inflation news. Poor, poor Mogambo! Then they decide to test me and see if I am really dead so they get the celebration started for real. So they soothingly say "Prices of raw materials, or so-called crude goods, fell 0.5 percent." At that, the lifeless body of the Mogambo stirred, the flicker of life kept alive by the desperate hope that maybe, just maybe, I've got this thing all wrong! Maybe everybody is right; I really DON'T have any idea what in the hell I am talking about! After all, "Prices of raw materials, or so-called crude goods, fell 0.5 percent." Maybe we are NOT doomed!
Encouraged, I struggle back from the brink of death and despair. As I slowly regain consciousness, I can hear my wife screaming and fighting with the paramedics "Pull the plug! He wants to die with dignity!" which only increased my desire to live, since dead men can't exact revenge. But then I forgot all about her, and gave up hope when Bloomberg admitted that the prices of raw materials "were up 23.6 percent in the last 12 months."
Even Eric Fry at the DailyReckoning.com admits that the stupid Mogambo was actually right about something for once. Well, he did not actually say those exact words, but you can get the drift of it when he says that Jim Rogers " correctly notes that 'costs are going through the roof' for many commodity producers, thereby reducing the profits they would be earning from the soaring prices of their products."
See? See? See what I mean about profits going down if you don't pass along your costs to the final consumer? Less profits! But I'll bet that his CEO and a couple of muscle-bound goons from security aren't going to go tramping down to Jim Rogers' office and chase him down the hall, zapping HIM in the butt with Tazer stun guns and yelling at him "And don't come back, you stupid Mogambo idiot!"
Mr. Fry ignores them zapping me and my crying like a little baby, and casually goes on to report that "As anticipated, steel makers, copper miners, gold miners, fertilizer producers, chemical companies and many other types of commodity-based companies are all suffering from a toxic combination of high energy prices and mounting labor costs. Therefore, profit growth at many resource companies is, in fact, grinding to a halt."
And it is not just domestic producers that are going to make less profit. And if there is one thing that I am sure of, it is that foreign producers may be known for a lot of things, but being forgiving about making less profit is not one of them, as I gather from once working for a company that was bought out by a Asian firm, and they were always in my office, poking me with their chopsticks and saying "More profit! More profit, Mogambo-pig!" But, to be fair, I get the same treatment from any America producer so stupid as to hire me, too. In short, profit is ALL that producers think about.
And if you what to see the kind of thing that you can expect from soaring inflation, Todd L. forwarded a news clip from Indianapolis that reports "High prices being offered for scrap metals have driven thieves to steal manhole covers from city streets and aluminum siding from homes. Now, the thieves have turned to stripping copper tubing from outdoor condensers on home air conditioners."
-- Foreign holdings of U.S debt deposited at the Federal Reserve zoomed up by another $12.644 billion last week . This is strangely at odds with the news that Net Foreign Purchase of Securities fell to $56.6 billion in December, from $91.6 billion in November of last year. This is a drop of $35 billion, or, in percentage terms, 38%.
But foreigners soaking up almost thirteen freaking billions of dollars in one week helps explain why money supplies around the world are exploding. And that unholy thing means that when there is massive inflation in the money supply like this, then you will soon see inflation in the prices of some things, then inflation in the prices of a lot of things, and eventually in all things.
But, for some perverse reason that future historians will make whole careers arguing about, the moronic people of America think all of these price inflations are good! Hahaha! A nation of morons! I sort of remember a quote by Benjamin Franklin, who was asked, when they finished work on the Constitution, "And what kind of government do we have?" and he replied "A democracy, if you can keep it."
What he surely meant by that enigmatic phrase was if you let people decide tax policy, the numerous have-not people will always vote to give themselves somebody else's money. A democratic, majority-rule government always elects to provide a "free lunch" for everybody! Whee! Thus, democracy will ultimately destroy the economy. That is why the Founding Fathers wrote into the Constitution that money shall only be of silver and gold, which is the only thing that would possibly prevent it.
But this tirade is NOT about how a nation of Leftist ignoramuses and big-heart-yet-small-intellect morons destroyed America via democracy, or how that same dank, dismal democracy guided the nation's fiscal policy (governmental taxing and spending), which, in turn, picked the people who ran the nation's monetary policy (the banking system). And then the government spent, and spent, and spent, and then the banks created the money, created the money, created the money to finance these perpetual budget deficits!* Notice the exclamation point AND the asterisk. This is a new Mogambo punctuation innovation (MPI), which I use to indicate that this is the most stupid economic idea that I, The Mogambo, have ever heard.
I can hear you thinking to yourself, "Big deal! That doesn't mean much, because The Mogambo is really ignorant about most things! Especially, for example, his appalling lack of social skills. And he eats like a pig!" To this I can only reply, "Touché!"
But now you have fallen into my trap! Suddenly springing the snare, I call into evidence Defense Exhibit 327, the Bonner and Wiggin book "Empire of Debt", which is has not only been adjudged to be one of the top (I turn to the jury, stare at them, and repeat the word "top") economics books of 2005 by both the Economist and Barron's magazines and many other fine publications, but it also demonstrates, beyond a doubt (again I turn to the jury, stare them down, and repeat "beyond a doubt!") the ugly fact - FACT! - that there is no example of the success of this fruitcake idea of "free money for everybody" anywhere in history! In fact, history is full of, and I am talking freaking fuuuuuuullllllll of, countries that HAVE had governments that printed more and more money for the government to spend. And it ended tragically for ALL of them! The inflation in the money supply that produced inflation in prices destroyed them all!
I turn to the jury, fall to my knees, and raise my arms to them, as if pleading for them to please, please, please understand the enormous gravity of the situation, and I finish my brilliant testimony by saying "I weep for us!" and then fall, slowly, to the floor, sobbing.
With a flourish, I spring to my feet, spin around, face the judge and announce "I have no further questions of this witness!" And the judge says "YOU'RE the witness, you blockhead!" Then I say "Then the witness is dismissed, and the case is dismissed!"
And if inflation shows up in the price of food, then that is the time when you suddenly realize, to your horror, that The Mogambo was right about this monetary insanity thing, and how it always leads to inflation, and that leads to misery and degradation of the economy. And that leads to societal anger and desperation. And that leads to panic when you realize that you did NOT build a massive defensive fortress of steel-reinforced concrete and lead shielding in your backyard, and you suddenly get the idea that maybe you can come over to MY Mogambo Impregnable Bunker of Fear (MIBOF). And then you chuckle to yourself when you realize that, by now, there is nothing but scorched earth for a quarter-mile radius around my house and you couldn't even get close.
A hand goes up in the front row. It's that pretty little reporter! I say "You have a question, my little pretty?" She says, "Yes, mighty, magnificent Mogambo (MMM)! From whence cometh the original money that financed all of this expansion of debt and government spending?" Seeing my opportunity, I tell her that I will have to discuss that with her personally, later, in my office, where we can be alone, and she says she'd rather slash her wrists, which I take as a "No." So I say to the crowd "Okay, the question was 'Where did all of the money come from that the government borrowed and spent?' which is, I might add, a very good question."
The pretty reporter smiles and blushes because she is pleased to be so complimented, and I figure that maybe she has changed her mind about, you know, the private office visit! So I look right at her, I raise one Mogambo eyebrow and provocatively lick the slobber on my lips, and she shakes her head to signify "no!" So I bid "farewell" to the foul temptress and her full, pouting lips, and I continue on as if she hadn't even been born by saying "The money came from the only place it CAN come from, you morons! You let the banks create credit out of thin freaking air, and then they loaned it out! That's how money becomes money, you idiots!"
-- Of all the reasons to sell stocks and bonds and houses now, before prices fall, Phil S. sent the DrKW "Fear and Greed Index", and it shows that we are heavily into the "greed" side of the chart, and about far enough to equal the middle of the year1987, just before the market, as they say, "crashed." Very interesting!
-- Thanks to Doug Noland for a quote from Bernanke's first appearance before Congress since he was appointed Fed chairman, where he is dismissing the importance of the inverted yield curve, even though this has ALWAYS signaled a downturn in the economy. "More importantly, in the past, when the inverted yield curve presaged a slowdown in the economy, it was usually in a situation where both long-term and short-term interest rates were actually quite high in real terms, suggesting a good bit of drag on the economy." Huh? Where in the hell did THAT come from?
But he does not answer my question, and instead he goes on to reveal the basic tenet of his whole, idiotic theory of economics, namely that interest rates are the ONLY thing that matter. Hahaha! What a buffoon! He virtually admits it when he says "With the real interest rate not creating a drag on economic activity, I don't anticipate that the term structure signals an oncoming slowing of the economy." Hahaha! And this laughable economic stupidity is the wellspring core belief of the majority of mainstream universities in America today! Debt doesn't matter! Budget deficits don't matter! Trade deficits don't matter! Energy costs don't matter! Housing prices don't matter! The value of the dollar doesn't matter! Only interest rates matter! Hahaha!
So you can rest assured that the Bernanke Fed is going to keep creating excess money and credit, and he will keep flooding the banks with it, and the banks will make more and more loans at cheaper and cheaper rates, creating more and more money as they completely debase the buying power of the dollar.
And speaking of debasing your dollars so that they buy less and less, Gary Tanashian of BiiWii.com enunciates my thinking perfectly when he says "Therefore, the ongoing debasement of the dollar remains my fundamental reason for being bullish gold. We are in a secular bull market in resources, commodities and hard money. We are in a secular bear market in paper currencies, being led lower by the world's reserve currency, the Federal Reserve Note."
And let's not forget silver! As Jon A. Nones at ResourceInvestor.com writes " According to the analyst, of all metals, silver is nearest to Hubbert's Peak."
- Aaron Russo, bless his Hollywood heart, is releasing a new movie entitled " America: From Freedom to Fascism". The reviewer says that "Aaron Russo has created a compelling and troubling documentary that indeed gives the impression that America has already moved from Freedom to Fascism. Russo is a bulldog as he prowls halls of government trying to get someone to just show him the Law that says a working citizen in the United States owes an Income Tax, or just to acknowledge prior Supreme Court rulings on the subject."
Later, there is "Another interview with a former IRS Commissioner who, now a high-powered D.C. attorney, can't seem to make the connection between Supreme Court decisions on the Constitutionality of the Income Tax and how the IRS regards 'voluntary compliance' with a law he's unable to articulate." Ugh.
****Mogambo sez: Keep buying silver, gold and oil. One day you will be very, very glad you did, or very, very sorry you didn't.