E-Economic Newsletter

By: The Mogambo Guru | Wed, Nov 22, 2006
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Provided as a courtesy of Agora Publishing and DailyReckoning.com.

-- These days I am paralyzed, consumed with dread at the unfolding economic drama, although I am somewhat mollified by the news that Total Fed Credit was down by a microscopic $400 million last week. So the Fed, I am somewhat relieved to note, is not going crazy with creating new excesses of money and credit with this particular method.

They did take the time to issue another $2.5 billion in actual cash, which seems weird, because when I go up to strangers and ask for money, they tell me they don't have any money. And then, when I get home, the family asks me for money, and I tell them the same thing! Like I said; weird!

And speaking of cash, which seems to be all anyone talks about around here anymore, Cash in Circulation is up $26 billion from this time a year ago, which is about $87 per man, woman and child in America, or about $350 for a family of four. You got yours? Me, neither.

And foreign central banks are still slopping around in the tons and tons of dollars that they end up with, as dollars are the principal export of the United States, to the tune of $850 billion a year in the trade deficit alone. And as these foreign central banks end up with the dollars until all the vaults and drawers and cabinets and closets are full of them, and they got rid of a few of them last week by putting another whopping $7.6 billion into their holdings of government and agency debt at the Fed, mostly because there isn't anything else to do with so damned much money, even though I generously offered to let them deposit the money with the First Mogambo Bank Of Earth (FMBOE), proudly serving this whole sector of the galaxy for almost three of your earth weeks, but they won't even return my calls.

But if you want to see something really, really eye-popping, then Savings/Other Deposits in the banks is the place to go, as they were up an astonishing $228 billion last week! In one week! This is huuuUUUuuuuge! A quarter of a trillion bucks appeared like magic in accounts at the banks! In one week! I guess this must be the arrival of the temporary Treasury accounts money that was recently authorized. But wow!

My breath comes in ragged gasps and my heart spasms involuntarily at the potential ramifications of the banks instantly having another huge $228 billion glob of deposits to tap into, to make new loans, enrich themselves, cause price inflation and increase indebtedness to finance a boom.

And I am positively woozy at the thought of this money multiplied by the almost-zero fractional reserve requirement of banks, as they now are required to hold less than one-percent of the total of bank deposits or marked-to-market assets as reserves against any new loans. Truly, I am aghast and terrified at this astonishing, astonishing, and (did I say "astonishing"?) astonishing amount of money flooding the banks.

When it gets like this, bad, bad things (BBT) are happening, and these acts of official desperation are merely symptoms, like when your stomach goes "bluruuUUUuuurp!" about twenty minutes after you eat that half a tuna (probably tuna) sandwich you found abandoned on top of the fax machine, so you figured it was probably still pretty fresh and safe to eat, and with prices being the way they are, I could, you know, save a few bucks with this "free" lunch.

But this is not about my unfortunate choice of luncheon entrees, but about this $228 billion that has appeared in the banks, which we suspect is the Federal Reserve frantically pulling every slimy trick in the book, and thus we know what we have to do! We run to gather up axes, pitchforks, scythes and flaming torches, preparatory to a march on Washington like the angry, unruly, irrational, drunken mob of blubbering halfwits that we are, shouting mindless revolutionary slogans and Striking A Blow For Liberty or something equally inflammatory. But we see with alarm that it is after 5:00 p.m.! Time's a-wastin'!

So you quickly call down to the hardware store and ask if they are open, and happily find that they are open for another hour yet! Anxiously inquiring about the equipment you need, you discover that not only do they not stock any scythes at all, but when you ask about the flaming torches, they laugh derisively and ask "What are you, crazy?", Naturally, I reply in typical Mogambo fashion, and I am screaming into the phone "You call yourself a hardware store, and yet I can't get simple flaming torch? And when I expose your blistering incompetence as a vendor of hardwares and gardening implements, you dare ask me if I am crazy?"

There was, of course, a lot more that I was going to say, but he was, besides being a total failure as a hardware professional, also extremely rude, and he said "Get lost, moron!" hung up!

So, now that I am sidetracked, consumed by plotting my revenge against a local hardware store, I have kind of lost interest in the angry mob marching on Washington thing. But I'm still astonished at it! And plenty angry and scared, too!

So I am with you in spirit as you march along! And good luck with that, you know, flaming torches thing. I'll speak to my hardware guy about it very soon.

-- The bad news is that, thanks to the last election, half the states in the USA now have legally-mandated higher minimum wages, most of them usually about 40% higher than the federal minimum wage of $5.15.

This is unalloyed bad news. If you don't believe me, then listen to Gerard Jackson, the Economic Editor of Brookes News, who cited economists Richard Vedder and Lowell Gallaway of the Employment Policies Institute, who found that there "was a correlation between minimum wage increases and poverty among 'the poorest of the poor.' In short, [effective] minimum wage increases raised the level of poverty. This is precisely what economics predicts."

And it is exactly what we will get more of, regardless of the glut of "economists", including some laughably lame-brained Nobel Prize crackpots, who have secured their place in the Mogambo Big Book Of Economic Infamy (MBBOEI) when they advocated, in writing, another raise in the minimum wage.

It boggles the mind that they would advocate such a thing when all of the other dozen or so raises in the minimum wage for the last 50 years have done absolutely nothing good for anybody, and have only left us with predictably more tragically poor people, a bigger government to take care of them, and higher prices for everybody, necessitating subsequent hikes in the minimum wage, raising prices, and continuing the spiral down, down, down to the Stygian depths of stinking economic hell and utter ruination.

And note that not one of these lowlife "economists" recommended that the damnable Federal Reserve stop creating excess money and credit, which is the cause of the price inflation that is bedeviling the low-wage worker in the first place! Idiots! First-class idiots!

Perhaps it is not for nothing that MoneyWeek.com brought up the fabled wage-price spiral, which is the unfortunate effect that when prices go up, it makes people demand higher wages, which makes prices go up, making people demand higher wages, which makes prices go up, which makes people demand higher wages, which makes prices go up, and it goes around and around and around, prices worsening and worsening and raising the levels of poverty and misery.

But if you really want an insight into some of the people responsible for this economic insanity that is plaguing the USA, and now the world, look no further than an op-ed piece in the 11/21 Wall Street Journal titled "The Economic Front". It is by Roger Altman who was "deputy secretary of the Treasury in the first Clinton Administration," and Alan Blinder, "a professor of economics at Princeton and former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board."

These banking "corporate insiders" are now waxing concerned that the rich are getting richer, and the middle class and the actual poor are getting poorer, which is what you expect from the sick, twisted economic system that has evolved in this country over the last 50 years.

But despite the apparent credentials of these two guys, heavyweights as they are in the economics biz, it is a load of crap from one end to the other, but the jewel is contained in the paragraph that starts off "What to do?" They start right in with an astounding admission and a lie when they go write "The problem is both deep-seated and longstanding, and there is no magic bullet to set things right"! Hahaha!

These two guys were, themselves, powerful deep-seated forces longstanding, who never raised a peep about anything the whole time, but were instead participants and raving cheerleaders of the whole sorry monetary mess of excesses the whole time! Now they are admitting that they failed, and their idiotic economic theory failed, and now all these serious economic results of their incompetence need fixing? Astonishing!

And their lie is that, despite their denial, there actually IS a "magic bullet to set things right!" I note that all the problems are caused by inflation in prices, and which all come from inflation in the money supply! So all you have to do, magic bullet-wise, is control the number of dollars in the economy (like as happens when the dollar was gold, as required by the Constitution for that very reason), and then keep the banks from acting stupid by greedily creating excessive amounts of money and credit to finance the damned booms, which always bust, and in their wakes always leave the aforementioned misery and suffering and mal-distribution of wealth and income.

Then, without an expandable money supply, the next time the government decides to spend a lot of money without raising taxes, but instead by borrowing all the money, they will have to literally borrow all the money in existence! Hahaha! Then, the economy suffers, the politicians who voted for that kind of profligate idiocy get voted out of office, intelligent people are elected on Congress, and things naturally are "set aright!"

It's all that simple! It's just that freaking simple! It's a magic bullet!

Well, despite their admitted dismal failure, Messrs. Altman and Blinder now have their own plan to set things aright! They go on to say that more socialism, communism and fascism will fix things, and that involves raising the federal minimum wage, increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit (a negative income tax, as the low-wage worker gets a tax refund in excess of all the taxes he paid!), "moving toward" universal health insurance (with all children immediately covered), moderating government spending and raising taxes, having someone pay for more education and training for America's workers so that they can, somehow, compete with foreign workers and yet make more money than they do, again getting the federal budget under control (which, they repeat, involves less spending and higher taxes), forced conservation measures to limit energy usage, and more research (paid for, I assume, by the federal government spending the money, either in grants or tax incentives) for developing energy alternatives. Hahahaha!

I can't believe my eyes that I am reading this stuff! And not once - not once! - did they mention the Federal Reserve's role in all of this: Causing the inflation which has caused all the problems!

-- Inflation will be what will destroy us, but not quite yet, as we gather from Bloomberg.com, in a essay titled "U.S. Economy: Consumer Prices Decline, Reassuring Fed (Update3)"! They report that "The consumer price index dropped 0.5 percent, matching September's retreat, the Labor Department said today in Washington. Excluding food and energy, prices rose 0.1 percent, the smallest increase in eight months."

They go on to say that the news is still not good, in that "On a year-over-year basis, consumer prices were up 1.3 percent, compared with 2.1 percent during the 12 months ended in September." While this is not as horrendous as it is going to get, 1.3% inflation is still too high, as inflation of anything above zero inflation is too high.

It gets much more interesting when they go on to say "The smaller increase reflects a decline in energy prices from a year earlier, when they soared after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita disrupted production on the U.S. Gulf Coast." Whoa! Let me get this straight; inflation was up, but it would have been dramatically higher if the price of energy wasn't down from a big spike last year thanks to a killer hurricane that impacted the oil business and thus spiked prices? Hahaha!

Well, they don't address my scorn directly, but I notice that, quickly enough, they went on to explain that "Energy prices fell 7.0 percent in October, after a 7.2 percent decline the month before. Gasoline prices fell 11.1 percent, following a 13.5 percent decrease for September. Fuel oil costs fell 6.1 percent. Natural gas prices dropped a record 7.7 percent."

Well, this lack of price inflation must be big news to FieldandStream.blogs.com, from whence comes the headline "Ammo Shortage: Panic Now! Beat the Rush!" They write "In case you haven't noticed, the price of ammunition has been rising slowly, and it is not about to stop. Not by a durn sight. The reason is that the prices of the metals that go into almost all ammo--lead, copper, and zinc--have risen exponentially. Here are some examples: In 45 days this year, the price of lead went up 31 percent. In one day this year, the price of copper went up 7 percent. The prices of lead, zinc, and copper have gone up 300 percent in the last three years."

300% inflation in three years! I am agog!

I expect Ben Bernanke to write this worrywart to inform him that after a Hedonic Inflation Adjustment, the same kind that is proudly used by government and government lapdogs alike to discount price inflation, there was no increase in price!

This is possible because of the sleazy new hedonic smoothing devices cooked up by Michael Boskin and the equally despicable Alan Greenspan, one of which is the Substitution Effect, which means that so many customers were turned off by the higher prices of ammo that they substituted a cheaper alternative in their market basket of armaments, namely kitchen knives and cleavers, which are lower in price.

Therefore, using this magical technique, there was actually a huge deflation in the Weaponry Price Index (WPI)! Therefore, the Federal Reserve is fully justified in heading off this terrifying deflation, which is why the terrified Federal Reserve is creating so terrifyingly much excess money and credit even as we speak!

The editors, with a stunned look on their faces, look at me like I am crazy. In return, I think that they are crazy if they don't understand that the Federal Reserve and the government are lying to them about inflation. It's a tense moment, an uneasy standoff, until they, abruptly, rudely dismiss the official methodology of the Federal Reserve! They instead keep doggedly insisting that there is actual inflation in bullet prices because (and they apparently think that this is important) they are standing right there looking at prices going up!

Furthermore, they can even explain it, which they do by saying "There are a couple of reasons for this: China and India are now manufacturing stuff that requires the three metals, and they want their share. And, as with oil refineries, there are only so many smelters that can transform ore into metal."

Their summation of the situation was "So if you think that ammo and components are expensive now (actually, they aren't), you ain't seen nothin' yet!"

But I ain't buying this apparent drop in officially-measured price inflation, either, as falling prices in a rampant monetary inflation, especially a stupefying, excessive, massive, insane monetary inflation like the world is seeing now, defies the entire history of economics. Hahaha! I laugh in scorn and derision, making my big ol' funky Mogambo butt (BOFMB) jiggle and shake at anyone who thinks otherwise. And so the continuation of the rise in the prices of oil, bullets, gold, silver, pizza, sugared soft drinks and yummy chocolate confections will be doubly sweet, as my BOFMB will be bigger and more jiggly.

But since the government admitted that prices are still going up, only more slowly, it is therefore very interesting that the Real Wealth Report newsletter says that "Inflation is going to continue to accelerate higher" because "Overall, producer prices -- the prices of goods produced by manufacturers and that are ultimately passed on to consumers -- are currently rising faster than consumer prices, at an annual rate of more than 7.2%."

I gasp in horror! 7.2%! This is inflation that is roaring, roaring, roaring out of freaking control here! What in the hell is going on?

And, as if that was not bad enough, it is going to get worse because "More than 3 billion people in China and across Asia are coming out of the dark ages ... joining Western society ... building homes ... installing modern plumbing ... buying cars ... tasting new foods ... having their desires awakened ... and consuming natural resources like never before! Believe me: When almost half the total population of the entire world suddenly begins demanding a scarce natural resource, you can count on prices shooting for the moon!"

Almost as an afterthought, we almost get blindsided by the blockbuster news "And China's demand for oil? Soaring! In fact, oil imports literally jumped off the charts in 2005 -- up 45%!"

If you want a real Mogambo thrill (RMT) as your homework assignment tonight, graph out a demand curve for oil, charting "barrels per year" on the vertical Y-axis, and "years until I am dead" on the horizontal X-axis, and use that to plot the demand curve of something that increases by 45% a year.

Here's a little hint: In only ten years, with demand increasing at 45% a year, China will be using 41 times more oil than it does now right now! Hahaha! Ten years!

And, if you want another hint, then in another 10 years (for the next twenty years in all), a constant increase of 45% a year in Chinese oil demand extrapolates to 1,687 barrels of oil for every barrel they are using right now! Hahahaha! And since this astounding new demand is only considering China, and when you include all the other nations that are busily industrializing and expanding over the next twenty years, too, you find it is impossible to 1) supply that much oil and 2) keep from laughing at the ludicrous idea of oil production rising to match such an outrageous increase in demand.

And so oil will be, like it always is, everywhere, for everything, all the time, rationed by price as determined by where the demand curve meets the supply curve, and then hahaha! Guess what? Welcome to inflationary hell!

And if inflation going up is the same as the dollar going down, then foreigners who own dollar-denominated assets must be feeling some heat right about now.

And if you don't believe me, then you could call my bluff by picking up the phone and randomly calling, for instance, a Japanese person, and ask them how they are faring, investment-wise, in their dollar-denominated assets, thanks to the dollar falling in value.

But wait! I have some good news: As part of a particularly onerous court settlement, I actually did some real research, and this exhaustive Mogambo survey turned up several interesting points. Firstly, when we randomly called phone numbers in Japan, we found that the person who answered the phone always answered in Japanese! Not much immigration, I figure! So that's kind of interesting, I suppose.

Furthermore, we learned that when we said that we wished to speak with them about their investments, they all claimed "No speakee Engrish!" Subsequently, we further learned that your typical Japanese person gets all huffy when you call them a bunch of liars, because I know that they all speak English, and all I want to know is how much they have suffered in their portfolio, thanks to the dollar going down, and they keep insisting "No speakee Engrish, big Mogambo creep (BMC)!" and then hanging up on me!

Well, to make a long story short, although we have used up our entire research budget, we still have no hard data at this point, but that we are sure we are on to something significant. In our report, we noted that persistently demanding an answer to our question was strongly, strongly correlated with how angry they got when we just kept calling them back, over and over, demanding to know about their dollar-denominated investments, all of which proves, of course, that we have hit a very sensitive nerve! Very sensitive nerve, indeed!

Thus, we can safely say, thanks to this fabulous and expensive Mogambo Research Project (MRP), that Japanese investors are showing substantial losses, and they are quite angry about it.

-- From Ron R., a self-professed Mogambo Wannabe (but without the sick, perverted and gluttonous stuff, even though that is the best part of Mogambo-hood), we get a link to MarketWatch.com, where we read "Bernanke said whether to target money supply growth or interest rates to achieve the Fed's goal of price stability is a simple empirical question as to which works better. The Fed's view is that interest rates have a more stable relationship to inflation rates than the growth of money supply does."

Of course they do, you Fed morons! You adjust interest rates to changes in inflation! That is what you say you do, for crying out loud! That's your big monetary policy tool! Contemptuously, I sneer and say "Dorks!", and then I laugh.

I hear what seems to be an echo, only not as girlishly giggly as my own reedy voice. I spin around, and it is Ron, who also dismissed Bernanke, and says "Hahahahaha! Moron!", which pleases me, in that it shows that he has mastered both the Vocabulary Of The Mogambo (VOTM), and has acquired that Sensitive Mogambo Economic Sense (SMES) that allows one to detect a load of stinking dog crap without actually stepping in it.

For example, notice that the Fed cleverly defines inflation as prices, and not by its real definition, which is growth in the money supply! Hahaha! Apparently they were absent the day they taught that price inflation follows money inflation!

And I am not sure that the recent death of Milton Friedman was not caused by Ben Bernanke, chairman of the incompetent Federal Reserve, saying this crap, as this was the slap-in-the-face antithesis of what Milton Friedman believed, namely that money supply DOES matter! A lot! And I agree with Mr. Friedman, although you can see what it got him, and I'm starting to get a little more paranoid.

-- I feel it is time for me to leap atop my soapbox, and deliver yet another Stirring Mogambo Exhortation (SME) for you to buy silver, all you can, immediately, and how if you don't, then you are an idiot, because silver is going to go so up dramatically high in price (audience shouts out "How high, Mogambo?") that you will be able, for the first time ever, to literally buy your way into heaven! Religious scholars all agree that this is a very rare occurrence, and probably pretty blasphemous, too.

But, though I offer the promise of passage to paradise, people are yelling "Shut up, you stupid, blasphemous Mogambo creep (SBMC)! We're sick and tired of hearing about it, and we're sick and tired of you, too!"

Hurt and insulted, I turn the podium over to Ted Butler, writing at Jim Cook's InvestmentRarities.com site, and then I sit down in my chair, sulking and sullen.

Anyway, I'm actually glad it worked out this way, as I learn that he has some interesting ideas on how much actual silver exists in the world. He says that the highest estimate that he has seen for world-wide existing silver bullion is one billion ounces, but that most estimates vary "in the mid hundred million-ounce range."

Now, keeping that in mind, check this out: He goes on to write that inventories of silver have, since the end of WWII, fallen from 10 billion ounces to 1 billion. So, if WWII ended in 1945, which was 61 years ago, then this works out to 9 billion ounces of inventories of silver consumed in 61 years! Or, roughly, a billion ounces every seven years!

But no matter if existing above-ground silver is 200 million ounces or a billion, it is still a "lot less silver in existence than 30 to 60 years ago", and Superman could easily pick it up with one hand by this time, whereas lifting the whole erstwhile hoard of 10 billion ounces of silver in 1945 would probably have made him grunt like a pig, which is, I am sure you will agree, very telling.

Now we are down to our last 7 years of excess supply of silver, even assuming the best-case scenario, and you don't think silver is going to explode to the upside? Is there something seriously wrong with you or what?

-- And what does this all mean, macroeconomically, according to Mogambo the Magnificent (MTM)? He smiles enigmatically, and says that you know perfectly well what it means, but that you are so horrified that you don't want to admit it, and what you actually want is for The Mogambo to tell you that it ain't so, and that everything will be fine. But it is so. And it won't. And we both know it. Ugh.

****Mogambo sez: There are reasons why gold and silver have moved up recently, and they are the same reasons that will cause gold and silver to keep going up for a long, long time, too.

So meditate on that, my Greedy Mogambo Darlings (DMD). Ommmm. Soon you will achieve cosmic enlightenment about the true secret of investing. Ommmm.



The Mogambo Guru

Author: The Mogambo Guru

Richard Daughty, the angriest guy in economics
The Mogambo Guru

The Mogambo Guru

Richard Daughty (Mogambo Guru) is general partner and COO for Smith Consultant Group, serving the financial and medical communities, and the writer/publisher of the Mogambo Guru economic newsletter, an avocational exercise to better heap disrespect on those who desperately deserve it. The Mogambo Guru is quoted frequently in Barron's, The Daily Reckoning, and other fine publications.

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