This article originally appeared at The Daily Reckoning.
-- I am sitting, alone, in the Impenetrable Mogambo Bunker Of Ultimate Defensive Posture (IMBOUDP), and voices that insist they are my "family" are begging me to open the blast-proof door and at least give them back the TV remote control. So I decide to ask them an easy question to find out if they are really my family or, as I suspect, nefarious imposters. So I shout out, "Hey! Morons!" and someone shouts back "We don't like being called morons, daddy!" And so I say, "Okay, Einstein; do you know what the Federal Reserve has done to the value of your money since the Fed was created in 1913, only faster and faster and faster until you can't catch your breath anymore? Huh? Do ya, moron?" And they admit "Well, no. But we know that's why you have locked yourself in there with the TV remote!" Triumphantly I exclaim "Then you're all morons!"
Please notice that I asked them an easy question, when I could have asked them something more difficult due to its recent-osity, such as "Do you know how much more debt the Congress just authorized to be loaded onto our breaking backs?" The answer is, in case you were wondering, $781 billion, bringing the total official Treasury debt limit to just under nine trillion dollars. In case you, for some reason, like seeing all the zeroes, it is written out as $9,000,000,000,000.00. That's nine huge, insanely gigantic trillion dollars, which comes to roughly about $90,000 for everybody who has a job in the whole freaking country. At 5% interest, your government will pay out $450 billion a year just in interest payments alone! Which is, again roughly, about $4,500 for everybody who has a job.
Anyway, the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, who is, they say, a Republican Senator from Iowa, said that they are passing the huge increase in the national debt limit because "It is necessary to preserve the full faith and credit of the federal government." Hahahaha! Meanwhile, this same Senator and his fellow Senate buddies have also, according to the Associated Press, been working on their proposed version of next year's budget, and have "adopted a $2.8 trillion budget blueprint that anticipates deficits greater than $350 billion for both this year and next."
Wait a minute! The government he so proudly represents budgets only a $350 billion deficit for the next fiscal year, and yet the same government, at the same time, allowed the Treasury to issue $781 billion in new bonds, which is only enough to last them about a year? More than twice as much? Hahaha! This is too rich! "Full faith and credit!" And this is the Senate Finance Committee Chairman saying this! Hahaha! "Full faith and credit!"
Wiping bitter tears of laughter from my eyes, I next read that, as a kind of comic coda, Ben Bernanke, chairman of the horrid Federal Reserve, has announced that the sheer reputation of the Federal Reserve will be enough to keep interest rates lower than they otherwise would be. Hahaha! Another example of "full faith and credit." Hahaha!
This is the same Federal Reserve that, last week, created another $4.7 billion in Total Fed Credit, which itself is the subject of the popular Mogambo Scout campfire song, "Fount of Fiat Money from Thin Freaking Air", which ends with the famous Mogambo death chant (MDC) "We're all freaking doomed! We're all freaking doomed!"
I laugh because this is true "theater of the absurd" at its absolute best! It reminds me of one of my first junior-management jobs, when I proudly proposed that we tell the stockholders that we are going to have a $30,000 deficit (which sounded better than "That damned Mogambo idiot produced a loss after only three weeks on the job"), but instead we borrow massively against the "full faith and credit" of the company to get as much cash as we could get our filthy hands on, more and more, until it added up to a freaking fortune for each of us, and then we all quit the stupid, now-bankrupt company and it's board of directors, and retire in splendor!
Like Senator Grassley, R-Iowa, I thought it was a great idea! Maybe my greatest Mogambo idea (GMI) ever! Alas, my budding career as hot shot executive and "world's youngest zillionaire" was cut tragically short by the pandemonium in the boardroom following my presentation, what with the chairman slumping in his chair, clutching his chest in pain and pointing his stupid finger at me, screaming "He's the anti-Christ! He's the anti-Christ!" But this Grassley dork gets re-elected time after time for the same damned thing! See? I TOLD you everyone is always out to get me!
Forbes magazine reports this as Treasury Secretary John Snow warning Congress that they had better pony up $781 in new borrowing authority because it was "critical to provide certainty to financial markets that the integrity of the obligations of the United States will not be compromised." Hahaha! Integrity? At the last possible minute the debtor got his creditors to extend more emergency credit, and THIS is your "integrity?" Hahahaha! Or maybe "integrity" is the government lying about inflation, which tricks somebody into loaning their money too cheaply to the lying government, and thus the USA pays back the loans with cheaper dollars, thus screwing the lender out of precious buying power. Hahaha! "Integrity!"
This is also the same Treasury department that, the day after President Bush signed the enabling legislation, somehow sold $78 billion in government debt in ONE FREAKING DAY, taking us from $8,270 billion in national debt to $8,348 billion! Hahaha! Ten percent of the entire increase in the debt limit, in one lousy day! Hahaha! "Integrity!"
Afterwards, instead of having a cigarette and telling me that he will respect me in the morning while pressing cab fare into my hand, Mr. Snow complimented Congress for "protecting the full faith and credit of the United States" by allowing him to plunge the massively over-indebted nation further into debt by another $781 billion.
Parenthetically, why $781 billion? I explain thusly: Because $780 billion would be too little, see, and $782 billion would be too much. Thus informed, you think to yourself " Gosh! Ya think so?" Well, no, I don't, and I don't think that the Washington Post does either, which reports "Mr. Bush has managed to rack up more new debt during his five years in office than the entire debt amassed by the United States through 1988. And there is more to come: The president's budget envisions the debt rising to $11.5 trillion by 2011."
Well, it looks like the President and The Mogambo disagree as to what we "envision" the national debt rising to by 2011, because I say it will be a HELL of a lot higher than another $3 billion (30% higher) in 5 years! Look at the graph! It's exploding! We're talking another $5 or $6 trillion! At least! So much debt makes me howl like a banshee in my fury! OwwwwWWWwwww!
Okay, I see that the police have arrived, and are demanding that I stop screaming at the top of my lungs "We're freaking doomed!" over and over, and to come down off the roof. My lesson plan shows that I was going to launch into a senseless and ceaseless Mogambo tirade (SACMT) about how increases in debt and money lead to price inflation and economic collapse. But all is not lost! You can learn the same lesson if I turn things over to Doug Noland, of the Credit Bubble Bulletin at PrudentBear.com, who calmly reports "The February Consumer Price Index was up 3.6% y-o-y. February Import Prices were 7.4% higher than a year ago."
I pause on my way down to pay attention to the response of the crowd to this terrible news about inflation in import prices. Nothing! Instantly, I return to the studio and hit the "replay" button, and sure enough, Mr. Noland clearly and unequivocally said "February Import Prices were 7.4% higher than a year ago." And yet there was no response from the crowd! Somebody coughed nervously. Otherwise it was eerily silent, except that in the background you could faintly hear The Mogambo screaming "Noooooo! 7.4% inflation! We're freaking doomed!" as they dragged him into the back of a police car. And then it was quiet, and finally everyone went home.
-- If you want something ELSE to worry about since you are already frightened by the monetary nightmare that is happening to your money and your economy, then consider the essay entitled "Our Worst Nightmare-The Bubble Has Burst!" by Dudley Baker & Lorimer Wilson. Seat belts on? Okay, abstracting slightly, let's go! " Housing Starts Up 14.5%. Building Permits Up 6.8%. Applications for Purchase of New Homes Down 1.2%. Index of Pending Existing Home Re-sales Down 1.1%. New Home Sales Down 5%. Existing Home Sales Down 2.8%. Inventory of Unsold Existing Homes Up 2.4%. Inventory of Unsold New Homes Up 1.2%. Median Home Prices Down 2%. Affordability Down to 14 year Low. Foreclosures Up 27%. California Home Sales Down 24.1%. Massachusetts Home Sales Down 21%. Listings Up 41%. Florida Existing Home Sales Down 19%. Alabama Existing Home Sales Down 21.5%. Listings Up 17%. Pennsylvania Existing Home Sales Down 17%. Minnesota Home Sales Down 7%. Inventory Up 35%."
Your challenge, to claim the fabulous prize awaiting you behind Door Number One, is to find one thing, one tiny little thing, one eensy-weensy thing in that whole damned paragraph that could possibly be considered the least bit positive to the economy. Especially to an economy where more than half of growth in GDP is directly attributable to people taking equity out of their still-inflating, over-valued houses (by the brain-dead expedient of merely going farther into debt) and spending the money, and who were engaging in that strange and ridiculous behaviour because, as perverse as it sounds, it made a strained kind of sense, because every one of those things in the whole paragraph was the exact opposite from today!
Bill Bonner of DailyReckoning.com hears me talking about this, and offers the news that "The Mortgage Bankers Association expects mortgage originations to drop off by 20% this year; it says refinancing should fall by 40%." My face goes ashen, but Mr. Bonner doesn't notice my slipping into Mogambo Panic Mode (MPM), and casually goes on to quote Angelo R. Mozilo, the CEO of Countrywide, the big mortgage lender, who says "I would expect a general decline of 5% to 10% throughout the country, some areas 20%...and in areas where you have had heavy speculation, you could have 30%."
Mr. Bonner goes on to say "Remembering that homeowners extracted trillions of dollars worth of equity as their homes became 'worth' more and more as prices climbed, and they spent it, increasingly, over the last decade or so. Now their debt is higher, and their houses will be worth less. And I cannot imagine the horror that is going to be unleashed if houses drop."
All the other reporters were dutifully writing all this down, but I stood up in the back of the crowd and loudly proclaimed "I, The Mogambo, can easily imagine the horror, Bill! I mean, Mr. Bonner, sir!" I was going to tell him about the horrors of the increases in horrible poverty as standards of living horribly fall and fall, as prices horribly rise higher than wages, as taxes horribly rise higher than wages, too, and pretty soon there are horrible riots in the horrible streets and horrible burglaries are on the rise and horrible gangs of horribly desperate people wander aimlessly, ransacking everything. But he ignores me, and doesn't ask me for my stupid opinion, maybe because of that accidental-familiarity "Bill" thing, or maybe he's still peeved about the twenty bucks I borrowed and promised to pay back, but never did, and when he called me on the phone about it, I thought he was just another creditor, and so I automatically said "Screw you, bloodsucker!" and hung up, which I realize now was probably a big, BIG mistake.
So I'm thinking about this as Mr. Bonner goes on, "For one thing, all of this consumer-spending-via-debt is considered responsible for somewhere between 40% and 80% of economic growth last year."
For another thing, a more terrifying thing, local governments took in more ad valorem property taxes, and voters allowed more people to tax my property (I now have ten different groups taxing my house, ranging from schools (three), City taxes, different water agencies (three), juvenile welfare, a "planning council", and buses), and all of them took all this new tax money from higher housing values and they massively increased spending, year after year, which they should not have done. And the counties and the states and the federal government also took in huge wads of taxes, stamps, duties, assessments, costs and fees on all of it, and then they, too, spent every last stinking dime, which made more and more people dependent on government spending, further distorting and mal-investing the economy.
So I am laying there on the floor, gagging up blood from hearing this horrible economic news, and everybody is tripping over me and kicking at me, saying "Go home and sober up, Mogambo, you idiot!" Out of the corner of my eye I can see Mr. Bonner saying to the adoring crowd "The U.S. is running a current account deficit of 7% of GDP - and rising. If we could tell anything from reading history's other financial farces, we would guess that what awaits the U.S. dollar is inflation and then hyperinflation."
I feel my heart go "Urk!" Did he say "inflation and then hyperinflation?" I am suddenly cold and sick, partly because of the terrible retribution that awaits the world as a result of the insane monetary policies of the Greenspan years at the Federal Reserve, and partly because it appears that one of the people kicking me is my own wife, and she's screaming, "Take that, you disgusting pervert!" like I don't get enough of that verbal-abuse crap at home or something. Maybe it was a hallucination, but it seemed so real!
- Sometimes I able (with my eerie Mogambo powers of ESP (EMPOESP)) to predict when I will have a flat tire, such as when I drive up to my house and one of my stupid neighbors has clearly had enough of my waking them up at 4:00 a.m. and screaming "Your money is being killed! Prepare to die!" crap, and now the whole family is out on the front lawn shooting at me with rifles as I drive by. When that happens, I can somehow sense that one of the tires will go flat, and sure enough, it usually does! Pow! Weird!
Well, from Reuters we get one of those EMPOESP moments, as Reuters writes "The dollar slipped to session lows on Wednesday after a Treasury Department report showed that net capital inflows into the United States in January failed to cover that month's record trade deficit." Not only that, but it was "the second month in a row that net inflows into U.S. assets failed to cover the country's trade gap." Now we really ARE screwed!
-- An Associated Press article by Gina Holland says that Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sandra Day O'Connor, present and former Justices of the Supreme Court, have "been the targets of death threats." I say, "Welcome to the club!"
The article goes on to report how "Over the past few months O'Connor has complained that criticism, mainly by Republicans, has threatened judicial independence to deal with difficult issues like gay marriage." Hahaha! She thinks that she and her Supreme Court brethren are to be exempt from criticism? Hahaha! No wonder they have been getting death threats! She sits on the Supreme Court, making all these wacky decisions and staunchly upholding erroneous Supreme Court decisions of the past. The kid with the freckles in the front row raises his hand and asks "Like what, Mister Mogambo?" I glare at him, gruffly ask, "Mister Mogambo, what?" and he damned near craps in his pants, but finally he blurts out "Mister Mogambo, sir!"
So I look a the class, and say "The worst decision the Supreme Court has ever made was when they ruled that it was, perversely, Constitutional for our money to NOT be made of silver and gold, even though the Constitution clearly requires that it SHALL be. With that one traitorous action by the Supreme Court, all of today's economic troubles were born."
Noticing the blank look on their faces, I cleverly switch to the patented Mogambo Educational Tirade (MET), meaning "To get louder and louder while degenerating into a personal attack of the listener and how stupid their parents must have been to have produced a child so abysmally stupid." So, accordingly, I start out nice and sweet, and explain "If the government tried to run budget deficits with an economy using gold as money, see, then somebody had to buy the bonds by selling something else. And this took money out of savings and out of the economy, and the economy suffered, and the money re-entered the economy via government spending, which distorts the economy, and then things start falling apart and the dollar falls in value, and Congress learned the hard way that you can't do that kind of silly crap and expect to be re-elected."
I paused to let that sink in. I continue, the audience sitting spellbound, hanging on my every Mogambo word (EMW), "But the Supreme Court, in their most wretched hour of infamy, gave the FDR and the government carte blanche to create as much money as they want, any time they want, in direct violation of the Constitution! And every Supreme Court, and every Congress, and every President since the 30's has been criminally complicit in, in that they did nothing to rectify this despicable perfidy!" I leap to my feet, fists thrust defiantly into the air! "The ultimate economic outrage!", I thunder. "And the price of such economic treachery and stupidity is inflation! Grinding, terrifying inflation that will destroy your economy and eat your stupid guts out, you stupid little kids! Didn't your stupid parents tell you about this, or are you so stupid you just forgot?"
Well, as you can imagine, the place immediately erupted with screaming, hollering and general panic, until the teacher finally jumped into the fray, all huffy and puffy, saying "Mr. Mogambo! Please stop! They are only children! Little five-year old children, you horrible man!" and I coldly replied "I KNOW they are only five years old, you stupid little twit, as I am looking right at them. But they are the future of America (FOA), and I have to make sure they learn this important Mogambo stuff (IMS) before you and your stupid, public-school education establishment Leftist yahoos start brainwashing them! Now, make them shut the hell up and start taking some notes!" Instead of answering my stinging charges, she abruptly claps her hands and announces it was "nap time" and sends the little tattletale Billie Fisher to fetch the school Principal..
But this is not about how it was a crying shame that I was too late to save some kindergarteners from public-school indoctrination, but about how the people on the Supreme Court are getting death threats. Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I certainly do NOT want to see anybody killed or even harmed, but I proudly admit that I'd like to drag the black-robed Supreme Court weenies and weenie-ettes out into the street by their hair and force them look at how much prices have gone up, year after year, thanks to them! Now the government is forced to provide (because prices have gone up so high that people can't pay them) welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits, Social Security payments that FAR exceed what the recipients paid into the system, etc. Hell, the federal government is now forced to increase in the latest budget, by $3 billion dollars a year, money to pay the damned heating bills of the poor! And in Britain, things are no better, as an estimated 10% of the population can't afford to heat their houses now!
And how many more people are now, thanks to rising prices, relying on government handouts, or going without health insurance, or going without property insurance, or going without automobile insurance, or going without more and more things all the time? Lots! And why? Because the dollar has continually lost purchasing power, thanks to the horrible Federal Reserve constantly creating more and more money and credit! Which is so unnecessarily stupid that it is only allowed because the damned Supreme Court betrayed America and the Constitution!
I would thrust the faces of the Supreme Court at all this, and scream at them "THIS is the result of your actions, you horrid, gutless traitors! You have allowed the government to produce the horror of inflation, by letting them print up and spend more money, and all because you are your fellow scumbags at the Supreme Court betrayed your sworn duty to uphold the Constitution, which requires that money shall only be of silver and gold!"
And don't come running to me, whining and complaining about how this is torturing Supreme Court Justices because, fortunately, these kinds of torture techniques are now allowed by the Bush Administration if someone is your enemy. And worse, too. Much worse.
-- I see that stock markets plunged in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar. The total value of the stock bourses is estimated to be less than one trillion dollars, but it is down $150 billion (from their 2005 values) and $250 from the peak they had reached. On the other hand, these same Gulf markets increased almost 700% since 2001, as of all that glorious money poured in from around the world by selling oil at $60 a barrel versus selling it at $25 a barrel.
There were "angry protests" that the stock markets went down, and the Kuwait Investment Authority, which is the state investment arm, came out and promised to inject cash into the market! Hahaha! You don't get market-rigging any more blatant than that! Hahaha!
Mark Lundeen looks at this and says " When a rich Arab pulls his money out of the stock market, don't expect him to do what the Americans did in 2001 and use real estate to leverage his portfolio. Gold and silver will be much higher a year from now."
Now, before I can say anything (like "Can I borrow some money to buy gold and silver?"), Roger Wiegand of TraderTracks.com hears this talk about gold and says that with or without Arabs' stock market problems, "Extreme demand pressures on gold are building, s upplies are diminishing precisely as demand is going parabolic. In 2004, four mines producing 400,000 ounces of gold or more, either closed or expected to shut down. Africa 's current gold production is no more than it was 80 years ago. It has slipped badly. New gold mines and expansions of older ones are expected to add 3 million ounces for 2006."
In response, "North American gold exploration investment has shot up from $193mm in 2001 to $521mm through 2004 and undoubtedly is much higher for 2005. Those are USA dollars invested in the gold mining industry exploration budgets for Canada and America. With lead time for new mine development being roughly eight years, explorers must be in for the long pull." And what will this price of gold be, lo those many years hence that are referred to, in the aggregate, as "the long pull"? Well, he is too wise to tread into that tricky swamp, but he does give you the starting place to begin your analysis. "Inflation adjusted gold should be $1700-$1800 today."
I can almost feel Ken Gerbino, of Kenneth J. Gerbino & Company, sneering that my vision is too narrow when I look at gold and silver.when writes that it is ALL commodities that are going higher and higher, especially copper, nickel, platinum, zinc and lead. "We are in an era where India and China need 5-6 times more raw materials than Europe and the U.S. did during the 30 years of booming economic expansion after WWII. However, the inventories of metals in the world's major warehouses (Comex, London Metal Exchange and Shanghai) are down by more than 80% in the last three years and all the easy mineral deposits found near surface over the last century have been mostly consumed. Minerals and metals are becoming more scarce."
He thus lights a roaring fire under the boiler of the steam-powered Mogambo profit-seeking machine (SPMPSM) when he says that "Three phenomena are converging right now that offer you a unique opportunity. 1) Prices are going up for gold, silver, copper, nickel, zinc, lead, uranium, and the platinum group. 2) Supply will be constrained for 5-7 years. 3) Warehouses are almost empty."
Rising demand against inadequate supply for years and years and years? Wow! Count me in! This is true "ground floor" stuff!
Mr. Wiegand offers one another clue as to the price of gold, and writes " Last year oil was dominant. From 2006 through 2009 gold will over-power oil prices on a two to one basis. Both gold and oil are in short supply." And if you want another source of demand for gold, he also says "The Russian central bank gold reserves are now up $2.3 billion ( US) for just last week alone."
I wasn't even thinking about hedge funds, but he says that maybe I should, because (and I paraphrase), that the rise in gold prices will attract speculators, and then more speculators, and then investors, and then the sharks, and hedge funds are no different than the rest of us when it comes to sniffing out profit-potential, and he says "We think those funds are going to buy in 2006 with a vengeance."
- Ron Paul, our heroic Congressional Representative from Texas, has introduced a bill to require the Federal Reserve to continue publishing M3, the broadest measure of the money supply, and one that they plan to start hiding from us. It is called " Sunshine in Monetary Policy Act (Introduced in House) HR 4892 IH." I am sure that your elected representative would be interested to hear how you feel about that.
On the other hand, with those idiotic new electronic voting machines that leave no trail, are un-auditable and thus make election fraud easy to do and impossible to prove, maybe your elected officials don't have to care anymore what in the hell you think or don't think. Ugh.
****Mogambo sez: -- I notice that the gold lease rates posted at Kitco.com are again converging to a rough singularity. In fact, short rates are actually higher than longer rates! If this resolves like it usually does, then soon the price of gold will shoot up and the lease rate spread will widen. It works to the advantage of the market manipulators in the same way that the yen-carry trade works, except that the rate spreads in gold are easier to manipulate, move a lot more, and move a lot faster.
And a late Tuesday breaking news item at GoldSeek.com reported that the SEC has approved the Barclays' proposed silver Exchange Traded Fund! Let the fun(d) begin! Hahaha!
But these are just mere trading observations, when the obvious truth is that any time is the right time a) to be in love and b) to buy silver, gold, oil and damned near any commodity you can name. And for a long time, too!