Provided as a courtesy of Agora Publishing and DailyReckoning.com.
-- Nervously peering through the periscope of the Impregnable Mogambo Bunker (IMB), I see that Total Fed Credit is back to its old ways last week, and was up, but not by too much, as the increase was only $1.8 billion. But enough, hopefully, to keep things simmering until an economic miracle happens, which is what it will take at this point.
Elsewhere in the banks, I squint my eyes to discern that reserves are up by a billion or so, but still ludicrously, comically inadequate in comparison to the banks' enormous liabilities and assets, and so it constitutes a kind of "theater of the absurd" to even pay attention to it anymore.
Chuckling to ourselves at the revelation, we abruptly swing over to look at the Treasury, and we relieve the dramatic tension by humorously noting that they believe that a miracle is found in issuing bonds "like it is going out of style", as they foisted another $10 billion of US government debt on some unsuspecting idiots last week! This brings the total national debt up past a staggering $8.6 trillion, to a new, all-time, we-oughta-be-ashamed record. I gulp.
Wiping the sweat of fear from my eyes, I can also see a new mountain of money stacked up against the sky, as, to help things along, they even printed up more actual cash, taking the supply of greenback money up another $2.6 billion! In one week!
All in all, it's the same insane standard Federal Reserve/federal government modus operandi of the last few decades; bull markets will be manufactured from rampant government deficit-spending and financed by the Federal Reserve creating the money, however temporary the slim economic benefits, or how horrific the entire staggering historical record of governments repeatedly trying and tragically failing while attempting such incredible, astonishing stupidity.
And why is the government doing all of this? This timely question brings us to this week's fabulous editorial cartoon, for which I not win a Pulitzer Prize because of backstabbing political intrigue and insanely jealous competitors. I created it, as I usually do, by stealing an idea, this time from a cartoon by Christopher Weyant in an old Barron's that I cut out, and then lost track of, and have now re-discovered it.
Anyway, this is not about how my office is a mess or how the bewildering confusion, filth and rot is the perfect parallel to my whole stupid, wasted Mogambo life (SWML), but about this cartoon, see, that shows two couples sitting at a table in a Chinese restaurant, apparently finishing a Chinese dinner (but we don't know that for sure, as there are no discernable clues in the cartoon and Mr. Weyant won't pick up his phone and take my call because he knows I am on to him, the little weasel), and one of them is reading his fortune cookie. It says "You will soon be stuck with the check."
Now, here is where I turn this funny joke into another Mogambo Editorial Masterpiece (MEM). Imagine that the camera is pulled back and up, and from that vantage point we see that the restaurant has five tables in it, and there are two people at every table, and the waiters, and the dishwashers, and the chef, and the owner, and the owner's family are all looking at the guy as he reads the fortune cookie.
Next, I deftly edit the caption to read "You will soon be stuck with everybody's check, you stupid socialist moron! Or did you think that continually expanding the size and cost of government to support more and more people was possible over the long term, you ignorant Leftist yahoo?" Hahahaha! Now, I finish up by erasing Mr. Weyant's name, writing in my own, and then- voila! -all done! Suitable for framing, or nominating for a Pulitzer Prize, either way it's the perfect gift for the upcoming holidays! Order now!
As if sordid plagiarizing, a gift scam, bizarrely describing a stupid cartoon and dark humor about crushing debt, crushing lives and crushing whole economies was not surreal enough for you, and you crave yet more, then you will love the ITulip.com posting the headline "Fed Official Says Bad Data Fueled Rate Cuts, Housing Speculation" from the November 6, 2006 Wall Street Journal.
Firstly, we get "In an apparent and rare in-house critique, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said that because of faulty inflation data, the Fed kept interest rates too low for too long earlier this decade, fueling speculative housing activity. In this case, poor data led to a policy action that amplified speculative activity in the housing and other markets. Today...the housing market is undergoing a substantial correction and inflicting real costs to millions of homeowners across the country."
And what was this huge "faulty data" that is inflicting misery and suffering across the entire country? You're gonna love this! I know that you won't believe my summation of his remarks, as it would sound too stupid and you would accuse me of lying, even though this is one of the few cases where I am not, so here is the exact quote: "A couple of years later, however, after the inflation numbers had undergone a few revisions, we learned that inflation had actually been a half point higher than first thought." Hahahaha!
A half-point! Fifty basis points! Hahaha! We would not have had the housing boom, financed, as it was, by the Federal Reserve creating all that money to loan, and thus sparing millions of people across the entire country from suffering, if they had actually known- oh, Lord, if they had only known! -that inflation was a measly half point higher than they thought? Hahahaha! And I am supposed to believe this? Hahaha! Does he really think that I am really as stupid as I look, sound, act or test out according to some stupid lying IQ tests?
And other people don't laugh in his face when he says things like this? Hahaha! It only proves my thesis that Americans, and our media, and our schools, and our governments, are some of the dumbest, most gullible, most stupidly trusting low-IQ people in the history of the world, and we richly deserve the punishment we are going to get for acting so childishly, irresponsibly ignorant and just plain stupid.
And you're gonna love the next part as he defends this excruciatingly bad job of economic management by saying "When we consider the potential consequences of poor or incomplete data leading to suboptimal policy, central bankers must be, by necessity, knights errant of sorts, searching for the Holy Grail of economic data that is both timely and accurate." Knights! Hahahaha! They think of themselves as knights! On a holy mission, no less! Hahahaha!
Knights they may be, but they are a kind of knight I never heard about, as they apparently ride around the countryside robbing the poor and the middleclass, stripping them of their wealth by debasing their money and forcing them to plunge into un-payable debt, and then the brave knights give the wealth to the rich and the government so that they may wax richer and bigger, and in more need of more money next year, as if grubby, subsistence serfdom wasn't hard enough as it is! "Gadzooks! Knights!" we cry in alarm.
I am grinding my teeth at the thought, and grinding them so hard that sparks are actually flying out of my mouth. He vainly tries to calm me down by assuming a sudden gravitas, and he gravely says "It is complicating the [Fed's] task of achieving... sustainable non-inflationary growth." Hahahaha!
Now I am utterly speechless at the arrogance! The Fed is a total failure at achieving sustainable non-inflationary growth, as the 30% loss in the dollar in the past few measly years so richly, richly attests. And now the inevitable bursting of the inflationary bubbles in real estate, and the bursting of bubbles in stocks, and the bursting of the bubbles in bonds, and the bursting of the bubbles in the expansion of government, all created by the Federal Reserve creating the money to do it, is "complicating" the task of being a complete failure? Hahahaha!
I'm busting a gut here! And my tongue is all tied up in knots from reading the convoluted piece of mumbo-jumbo coming out of this guy's mouth, and now my tongue hurts, making me even more cranky, and I wish it was lunch time already so I could get something to eat, and maybe have enough left over to throw at this Federal Reserve moron as a kind of "performance art" thing, and maybe win a prize that way.
-- I was surprised to read the news from MarketWatch.com which said that the Federal Reserve reported that "U.S. consumer credit outstanding fell by the biggest amount since April 1992 in September as households took out fewer loans for items like automobiles and boats."
Well, this is not exactly true, as they subsequently admit that "Most of the decline was in so-called nonrevolving credit, like loans for cars and boats. Nonrevolving credit fell by $4.05 billion, or by a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.21%, to $1.50 billion."
I am not sure what in the hell this means, but it looks like they are saying that a fall of $4.05 billion is one thing, but another way of looking at it is to apparently mix up a seasonal adjustment of the inflation rate to more than halve the decline, or something. But anyway, I guess that the point is that it was down, regardless.
Anyway, it's not until later on you find out that, contrary to the big headline, "Revolving credit like credit card loans, meanwhile, grew by $2.85 billion, or at an annual rate of 4.00%, to $857 billion."
But the point is well taken; there was a net loss in combined spending, which means some businesses made less sales, and thus they made less profit. Oops! And that means, in turn, that shareholders will demand that heads roll and people be fired, and the first to go will be poor old Mogambo, as usual, as they are all out to get me, and this downturn thing is just a flimsy excuse to get rid of me, a treachery which I have cleverly seen coming all along, and then they wondered why I hate all of them and why I was so nasty to them all the time! Ha!
-- The yield curve is still inverted, in that investors are mysteriously demanding to be paid higher interest rates for holding short-term debt (when the risks are more easily predicted), but they will accept lower interest rates to hold long-term debt (where the risks are unknowable with any degree of precision).
This is very weird, and that is why an inversion of the yield curve is such Big Freaking News (BFN). In that regard, Bloomberg reports that European government bonds have an inverted yield curve, and for the first time in six years. "A so-called inverted yield curve hasn't been seen since August 2000 during the ECB's previous series of rate increases", they say.
But apparently neither the fact that the yield curve is historically uncanny in predicting recessions (and even the very few times when it is wrong, the performance of the stock market ain't nothing to get excited about, as it usually is nothing) nor that the curve last inverted right before the Crash of 2000 made any impact whatsoever on Martin Price, the director of fixed income portfolio at Sarasin Chiswell, who says "Some people talk about recessions, but I don't see it as a sign of one." Hahahaha! I laugh!
Apparently Richard McGuire at RBC Capital Markets loves to hear me laugh, too, and so he obligingly adds, "I don't think it's a recessionary signal, it's a bit simplistic to look at yield curves as a sign of recession." Hahaha! Thanks for the chortle, Richard!
To add to the convivial scene, even Bloomberg seems entranced by the musical qualities of my charming laugh, and they quote, for my obvious enjoyment, Alan Greenspan, the world's leading economically clueless bungler, saying that a yield curve inversion as a portent of Something Very, Very Bad (SVVB) is "a misconception", and that the yield curve's "efficacy as a forecasting tool had diminished very dramatically."
But pay attention! What he is actually admitting is that the yield curve inversion used to have oodles and oodles of efficacy, and thus back then you could take it to the freaking bank that when that when the yield curve went into inversion you were going to have a tough time pretty soon because the Federal Reserve had screwed up, again, and inflation was going to eat somebody's guts out, but that nowadays it ain't got so much, as he says, "efficacy" in forecasting economic performance.
I was, probably like you, on the edge of my seat, anxiously waiting to hear what Greenspan thought was causing an inverted yield curve that was so benign in its effects. Blabber jabber yammer. And then, when I finally found out, my contempt for Alan Greenspan went up a few notches, as he says it is a "conundrum", which is Greenspan-speak (when you read between the lines and interpret how his lips curl in a sneer when he says the word "conundrum") for "I refuse to believe the sheer tonnage of evidence that I am the world's leading economically clueless bungler, just like that stupid Mogambo idiot (SMI) says I am! Now I am reduced to comically saying that I somehow have no idea why the yield curve is inverted, and that yield curves are not so significant nowadays, anyway, probably because the world's central banks, thanks to their own fiat currencies, fractional-reserve banking systems and outright lying and fraud, can do anything we, and they, want, including saying preposterous things with a straight face, like saying that a yield curve inversion is a 'conundrum' when it is obviously much, much more than that, and all of it is ugly, ugly, ugly! Uglier than even that idiot Mogambo (TIM) envisions, and I, Alan Greenspan, cruelly laugh and impatiently await the sublime delight of hearing your screams of unbearable pain and tormented anguish as inflation eats you alive, as I am the true living Satan (TLS)!"
Okay, I admit, I got carried away there at the end, and I made up that whole last part, and pretty much everything else too, but I think you get the drift. Conundrum. Ha!
Larry Edelson of Money and Markets apparently doesn't care about either me or any drift, and with a breathtaking brevity says "In just the past week, the price of the 30-year benchmark Treasury bond swooned by two full points." The upshot is that, he says, we can "Expect a disaster in the Treasury bond market."
-- Troy Schwensen, of The Global Speculator newsletter, has taken a look at the price of gold in Australian dollars versus inflation and interest rates during the 24 years from 1982 to 2006. "We can see that in this period where high interest rates eventually tamed core inflation, the actual price of Gold fell below the theoretical value, as people regained confidence in the financial system and interest rates eventually declined. This consequently fueled unprecedented gains in financial assets."
It's the next part that gets our attention when he says "We can see now in 2006 that a massive disconnect again exists between the actual and theoretical prices," and that the difference this time is that "Actual is just 33% of Theoretical".
So, trying to understand what is going on, it seems that somewhere along the line the high price of gold fell to its theoretical value, and then overshot on the downside. And that's where we are now. And now the actual price is 300% below its theoretical value!
My sensitive Mogambo Investment Opportunity Sensors (MIOS) spring to alert, and an inner voice says "Hmmm! This reverting to the mean thing seems intriguing to me for some reason! But why? Why? Why?"
Being a real stupid kind of guy, I missed the obvious conclusion that gold will again revert to the mean by going up in price until it reaches its theoretical value. Fortunately, there was a kindergarten class taking a field trip through Mogambo Galactic Headquarters (MGH), and Larry, one of the smart-aleck little kids, sees me laboring over this an said, "Hey! Stupid Mogambo Idiot (SMI)! It means gold will rise 300% and then overshoot to the upside, dork!"
My intense gratitude at learning this valuable piece of information exactly offset my supreme irritation at being addressed so rudely by a little 5-year old brat that I can easily beat up if I want to, so watch it punk. Successfully throttling my rage, I ended up letting him off with sticking a "kick me" sign on his back, but he saw me and started running.
I had a big grin on my face and was just starting to take off after him when Larry's teacher imploringly looks to Mr. Schwensen for help in controlling what appears to be developing into another Unfortunate Mogambo Incident (UMI), who saves the day by putting it into a pithy nutshell when he went on to say "Rising interest rates and high levels of debt are obviously not a good combination."
Immediately, spurred to action by his words, I change course, and am running out of the door to get some more money, probably by begging from total strangers, as my "friends" are all tapped out (so they say, the liars!), and using the money to buy more gold. But as I am leaving, I stop in my tracks when he says that I may be making a mistake in not begging money with which to buy platinum instead!
"Hmmm!" I say to myself! "Tell me more!" So they did, and it seems that John Ross Crooks at Money and Markets wrote "The automotive and jewelry industries account for roughly 80% of annual demand for the metal. These days, about half of the world's platinum goes into jewelry. Mines in South Africa and Russia account for 90% of the world's platinum. All told, about five million ounces of the metal get hauled out of the ground annually. In case you're wondering, that's nothing compared to annual gold and silver production of 82 million ounces and 547 million ounces, respectively."
I raise my hand, interrupting to ask, "Now, this is all very interesting, dude, but what is the point of it all to someone who is just interested in making a whole lot of money as fast as he possibly can so he can get out of this stupid town and away from these stupid people?"
Apparently he lives a very sheltered life, and I guess he has never seen a sociopath consumed by raw, naked greed before, but, obviously repulsed, he nonetheless graciously replies "This year, stocks of platinum are expected to fall short of demand for the eighth year in a row", which assumes I know how the supply/demand dynamic works. And brother, do I ever!
-- As if to buttress my case for somehow accumulating a stake in crude oil, Dan Denning, editor of the Australian Daily Reckoning, writes "the IEA released its World Energy Outlook 2006."
While lengthy, at 596 pages, he says "You don't have to read all 596 pages to understand the Outlook's basic proposition", which is terrific news for me because I sure as hell wasn't going to read no stinking 596 pages of anything that is not pornographic and with a lot of steamy pictures, too. He says the summary is simplicity itself: "Demand for energy is growing. Supply is not."
Now, if you are familiar with the graph of the supply and demand curves and how they equilibrate at some price, then the phrase "Demand for energy is growing. Supply is not" surely caused your budding Mogambo Larval Greed Gland (MLGG) to squish some "avarice hormone" into your bloodstream, and now you are fixated, like a hungry predator upon prey, on what happens to the price of oil when "Demand for energy is growing. Supply is not."
And since we buy most of our oil from foreigners, paying a rising price for it is only a part of the problem. A falling dollar is, to use a Real-Life Mogambo Example (RLME), like me going into the convenience store and selecting a candy bar that costs one dollar, but then handing the clerk three quarters and just walking out with the candy.
Immediately, you know something is wrong when he starts yelling at me, and I deny reality by replying "Sorry! Me no understandee Pakistani, sahib!" and he is yelling at me "I'm not Pakistani, creep! Now, come back here, you thieving little rat!" I am eating the candy bar as fast as I can while running, and by the time he catches me I have eaten the whole thing, and so when he tackles me on the ground, I just look up at him and say "Hey, homey! Chill out! I ain't done nothin'!"
Now, I don't know it was the peanuts caught between my teeth, or the fact that I had chocolate smeared all over my face and hands, or the fact that I politely explained to him that paying him less money now is exactly the same as paying him with more money that loses its buying power in the future, but he was surprisingly calm and cool. He even seemed to like it when I explained that we have brilliantly smoothed real, inflation-adjusted prices across the portals of time! We're time travelers!
Then I politely and generously explained how this is exactly what we are doing to OPEC and everybody else who will stupidly accept dollars in exchange for something, be it candy bars or oil. "Sooner or later that dollar is going to be worth 75 cents, you moron!: I explained "Which I already paid you! So shut your stupid hole, you conceited, greedy jerk! Everybody's getting screwed over!"
That was when, for some unexplained reason, he decided to get all huffy with me, and starts yelling "You stupid white cracker racist xenophobic paranoid nutcase thieving Mogambo pig! (SWCRXPNTMP)!" With my famous rapier-like wit, I reply "Touché, dude! But that does not change the facts of the case, namely that we are paying for oil with a depreciating money, and now I am merely doing the same thing to you with a candy bar, although one is a delicious and chewy confection of caramel, nuts and milk chocolate, while the other is a much better source of energy but tastes like crap! So, what do you want from me, stupid? You want me to drink oil? Is that what you want? Punk?"
Mr. Denning is horrified at this surprising and utterly bizarre chain of events, and he quickly tries to break it up by saying that the report is clearly succinct in that "we are on course for an expensive and dirty energy system that will go from crisis to crisis. It can mean more supply disruptions, meteorological disasters or both. This energy future is not only unsustainable, but it is doomed to failure."
And don't embarrass yourself by asking Mr. Denning or me for an example of the price of oil going down "in a crisis." Asking such a silly question is the sure sign of a rookie.
-- Gary North of Reality Check wins the coveted Mogambo Prize for this week, as has created the perfect description of why prices rise when the Federal Reserve creates more excess money and credit, which is a form of counterfeiting, in that money is created out of nothing. He writes "Prices rise in an economy for the same reason that they rise in an auction where counterfeiters have showed up." Hahaha! Perfect!
-- Last week I multiplied $90 by 12 months and got, as did everyone else, $1.08 trillion, but committed a typo and wrote down $1.8 trillion, which was apparently a source of delight to lots and lots of people. But I think I can manufacture a weird excuse out of the news from reader V., who writes "I just checked, and I realized that pennies now have about 1.1 cents of zinc in them, and nickels have 3 cents of nickel and 3 cents of copper in them, making them cost the government about 6 cents just in materials (forget about the cost of running the machines to mint the coins). I believe the last time we were in a situation in which the material of coins were worth more than the coins, back in 1970 or so, was right at the beginning of the greatest run in gold and silver ever."
I was replying with one of my patented Mogambo stupidities by saying "It sure sets up some interesting imbalances", while mentally trying to twist all of this to justify my typing $1.8 trillion instead of $1.08, and then it occurred to me "not to mention Gresham's Law!" This is the dictum that "Bad money chases out good money."
In the particular case here, it means that you secure a small discount for yourself when you pay a debt with dollar bills (bad money), and then take the coins you get in change (the good money) and store them until you have, without or without additional inflation in the prices of the metals, enough to smelt to realize your profit!
How much more evidence do you need of the horrendous, ruinous Federal Reserve inflation than the simple fact that the base metal in our coins is worth more than the face value of the coins? I mean, Jeez Louise! Total freaking failure (TFF)! Ugh.
****Mogambo sez: The next question is: "They kept the market up through the election. Can they keep these markets up until January 1, 2007, so as to lock in the profits and thus lock in the taxes people must pay?"
Who knows? They'll try. But gold and silver and oil will continue to go up, and that's enough for right now.