Economic Hell to Pay
"Like me getting drunk and surly, and then thinking that getting me drunker makes me more convivial. It does. For awhile. A very short while. And then, like in economics, there is hell to pay. With vomit, usually."
Michael Santoli, in Barron's, starts his Streetwise column with "It's one of the sturdiest clichés on Wall Street: No one can reliably forecast a recession."
Naturally, I disagree and ask, "Why not? Predicting inflation in prices is as easy as watching inflation in the money supply, which is as easy as predicting the price of gold going up in response, so why isn't predicting a recession (a bust) after watching the boom fizzle out just as easy?"
In fact, musician Steve Dore, troubadour of real money and now of Ron Paul's candidacy, sang the immortal line about recessions and busts that follow monetary booms, which is that, "It's not a matter of if, but when."
As a musician, he turns this into a cute little ditty by finishing off the phrase with "History repeats again", to create a couplet, which is not only profound and educational, but it rhymes, too, so you know it must be true, which, actually, it is, unfortunately.
And speaking of money and music, in case this MoGu newsletter thing doesn't work out for me, perhaps I can get into this music racket and make a lot of money, too, although I would have cleverly rhymed the original first line, "It's not a matter of if, but when," with something with a little more theatrical impact, such as "And if you don't think so, then you are really, really stupid, because the lesson of the whole last 4,000 freaking years of human history is that 'It's not a matter of if, but when', over and over and over, and that same history proves that if you think that having the government try to postpone an inevitable economic cataclysm through incurring more backbreaking debt and jumping through hoops of monetary and fiscal fire, thus devaluing the currency and causing price inflation, makes it any better, then you are even more stupid than I thought, and when I conquer and take over this stupid planet you call Earth and impose the Tyrannical Will Of The Mogambo (TWOTM) upon you, I will take special notice of low-IQ people like you and prevent you from breeding by neutering the whole stinking glob of you with some kind of Mogambo Neutering Ray (MNR), which is painful as hell if nothing else, and so the next time you think something stupid like that, perhaps you will stop and think again."
Please notice how my wonderful lyrics end up rhyming "when" with "again", too, proving that Mr. Dore, for all his talents, doesn't have a monopoly on lyrics, and (if I say so myself) he really takes a backseat to The Mogambo when it comes to tuneless viciousness, paranoid delusions and relentless psychotic megalomania.
While waiting for a Nashville music producer to call with a big recording contract, I have the time to note that the answer to Mr. Santoli's "cliché" is that it would be perfectly easy to predict a recession based on fundamentals, except that the government is going to "do something", because it always "does something", and the government is ready, willing and able to "do something" because it already employs one out of every seven workers in the country, it already spends half of all spending in the country, and the federal government is principally supported by the taxes paid by the financial services industry as it absorbs all these humongous globs of money, spent by the government, and obligingly created out of thin air by the Federal Reserve just for the purpose.
And while it is difficult to forecast the directions taken by the government, it is easy to forecast that gold, silver and oil (and indeed commodities of all kinds) will rise in price, because that is also the lesson of those selfsame 4,000 years of human economic history; governments have lots of power and money, and that is why the government attracts conmen and crooks, and these self-serving weenies can always be counted upon to bankrupt the country with debt and/or fiat currency.
Amazingly, I think I got through to Mr. Santoli! I note with satisfaction that he later said "In fact, it's arguable that the consumer discretionary sector, down 12% this year, and financials, off 17%, are pretty close to pricing in a consumer-and-credit recession." Exactly! You bet it is!
But he then posited that "Recessions are caused by a highly complex array of interacting forces", which is true, I guess, but it all comes down to spending or not spending, as I can prove with Say's Law.
And in line with this, George Ure at UrbanSurvival.com thinks that economist Jas Jain has the right idea, which is that "the most important number to watch is the consumer debt figure, because the growth of the economy depends on people continuing to take on ever-larger amounts of debt to keep the global game intact."
In fact, Mr. Ure says that, "Jas is prone to signing his emails 'It's the Debt, Stupid!' And with damn good reason. Remember that money can be printed easily enough, but it always depends on someone borrowing it into existence in a fractional reserve bankstering system to make it 'hit the street'."
Now, Mr. Jain knows this, and Mr. Ure knows this, and you and I know this, but believe me when I say that this idea is completely foreign to the Federal Reserve, whose entire stupid mathematical model of the economy crucially depends on the axiom that "If you build it, they will come", as they steadfastly believe that there always exists a level of interest rates that will lead to more borrowing, and more economic growth and more wonderful economic splendor.
Like me getting drunk and surly, and then thinking that getting me drunker makes me more convivial. It does. For awhile. A very short while. And then, like in economics, there is hell to pay. With vomit, usually.