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Thursday, August 19, 2010

U.S. Dollar Now Ripe For Catastrophic Devaluation


By Giordano Bruno


Normally when I cover subjects in the economy, I try to take a “macro” approach, giving an overall view of various financial elements around the world and how they are clearly connected to one another in a greater synchronous social force. That is to say, in Chinese domestic consumption, or European debt obligations, or Russian gold reserves, and in many other factors, is encoded the very future of our own American economy. Showing others how to decipher that code is my primary mission.

In this instance, however, I would like to focus chiefly on the U.S. Dollar, the private Federal Reserve currency which is now the basis for our entire financial system, not to mention a substantial basis for trade around the globe. For decades, the dollar (and by extension U.S. Treasury bonds) has been the standard by which foreign nations safeguard capital reserves, denominate debt, and in some cases have even pegged their own currency to maintain advantageous trade deficits. In the past, the Greenback has been treated as good as gold. Though many see this as a windfall for Americans, it is actually a very unfortunate circumstance.

The “world reserve” status of our currency created a demand for dollars, but through this, it also created a glut of Treasury bond holdings in foreign central banks, and an unserviceable national debt here at home. The combination of removing the dollar from the gold standard in tandem with gaining world reserve advantage allowed our government along with central bankers to create the most precarious illusory fiat currency in history. Could this process continue indefinitely? Its possible, but only if the demand for dollars continues to rise annually. As long as people want dollars in greater and greater amounts, we could continue to expand our debt into infinity. But what happens if demand for the dollar falls, or disappears entirely? The massive liabilities we have already accrued will no longer have the crutch of perpetual Treasury investment. We no longer would receive the busloads of foreign capital we need to continue functioning. The system we have staked the future of our culture on would disintegrate.

Anyone who uses common sense would easily conclude that it is highly unreasonable if not outlandish to expect that other countries will continue to pump more and more money every year into our very unstable system. Even if Treasury bond investment simply plateaued, remaining steady for years, we would still be crushed under the weight of our debt obligations. As our government expands, and our wars expand, so do our costs, and our interest payments. Eventually, every undisciplined debtor hits a state of critical mass; a point at which he runs out of options in extending his ability to outrun bankruptcy. We are seeing this right now in the U.S., most prominently in municipal debt in states such as California and Illinois. These are not just “local problems”. The growing insolvency in states is a direct reflection of the growing insolvency in the Federal Government.

Many people have at one time or another been caught up in their own debt race, trying to dodge bills and pay off one credit card with another credit card. They understand well that this terrible circle ends in ruin. This is the situation we are in as a nation.

Strangely though, some mainstream economists and analysts still contend that America will never face consequences for its fiscal debauchery. Why do they believe this despite all the evidence to the contrary? Because of a magical machine called a “printing press”.

“If foreign investment in our debt ceases”, they say, “The Federal Reserve can just PRINT the money our government needs to function out of thin air.” That is to say, these economists (which include men like Ben Bernanke) either truly believe that capital can be created out of nothing with no sacrifice attached, or, they KNOW there is a serious sacrifice attached, but intend to keep this fact from the American public. Regardless, the end result is the same; massive liquidity injections which continually monetize debt as it defaults, and Federal Reserve purchases of our own T-bonds. We are buying stock in our own dollar just to prop up its value and keep our country afloat!

The inflation vs. deflation debate has been raging for nearly three years, but I suspect that when all is said and done, we will find that both sides in a sense were correct. The people who consistently miss the mark on what is truly going on in the economy are those who blindly insist that this is an either/or situation. The fact is, we are seeing symptoms of BOTH deflation and inflation simultaneously. Deflation in jobs, stocks, real estate, and wages. Inflation in energy, food, and commodities. At bottom, we are seeing the worst of both worlds colliding to make a financial mutation, an aberration of the natural processes of supply and demand. Our economy has become a frothing rampaging Frankenstein’s monster bent on the destruction of its former benefactors; the American citizenry. Anyone who alleges otherwise is either a liar, or a fool.

At the very heart of this nightmare, we find the U.S. Greenback; perhaps the number one reason the economic meltdown was engineered by global banks in the first place (yes, I said ‘engineered’). The sovereign ideology of the U.S. is the only thing left standing in the way of complete centralized economic control, and by extension, political control, by the top 2% wealthiest people in the world, who now hold around 50% of all the world’s assets. The dollar, though a fraudulent fiat currency, is still a representation of that sovereign drive, at least in terms of finance. Its position as the foremost traded currency on the planet affords us great leeway in our ability to spend without fear. It is the glue holding absolutely everything together. With most of our industry shipped overseas, and our communities completely reliant on a 70% service based system, the Dollar is the only homemade “product” America has left to lean on.

Unfortunately, the strength of our currency is waning, and nearing outright collapse. It is something we have been talking about for the past two years at least, which has drawn some into a false sense of security. The signs have been muddled in the MSM fog, but now the picture is becoming clear. Will the dollar crash tomorrow? That’s hard to say. What I do know, is that all the elements necessary for a catastrophic dollar devaluation have moved into place, especially in the past month. That is to say, there is now nothing preventing a steady and precipitous fall in the Greenback over the next six months or more. Below are many signals which indicate such an event is near:

Dollar Index Plummeting: Interestingly, there has been very little coverage in the mainstream news of the dollar’s continuous 9 week decline, the longest straight weekly decline since 2004. One would think this is something that might concern the general public, and not just investors:

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dollar-consolidates-as-markets-await-payrolls-2010-08-06

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-07/dollar-index-falls-a-ninth-week-longest-since-2004-as-fed-meeting-looms.html

The dollar is also nearing a 15 year low versus the Japanese Yen:

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6713HB20100806

Only in the past few days have some MSM analysts ventured a response to this issue. So far, their primary excuse is that the dollar decline is due to the coming Federal Reserve meeting on August 10th, in which many suspect that the Fed will announce further stimulus measures and further inflation of the dollar. Of course, most Fed stimulus has remained undisclosed to the public, so there is really no way of knowing if they ever actually stopped their injections at all. Also, this excuse does not explain the 9 week duration of the dollar slide, especially since two months ago very few people even considered the possibility that the Fed would openly announce more liquidity measures.

Some economists might argue that the dollar has declined severely in the past, but has always come back. That is true, however, in those instances the dollar was not falling at the same time as stocks! Yes, the traditional inverse relationship between the DOW and the dollar seems to be ending, and this is a dour sign for the Greenback. In the past, the dollar has benefited as a safe haven investment. When stocks went south, investors would throw their money into dollar backed securities like Treasuries in order to protect their savings. This caused the dollar to go up in value. In the past few months, though, the dollar has begun to fall in tandem with stocks, meaning, people no longer trust the dollar as a safe haven investment as they used to. If this trend continues over the next few months, it may be a sign of nearing dollar collapse.

For those who want to keep tabs on the dollar index, go here:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/quote?ticker=DXY:IND

China In Position: We have been warning at Neithercorp Press for years that China was positioning itself to dump its vast holdings of U.S. Treasury bonds and allow its currency, the Yuan or RMB, to appreciate in value. China has aspirations of world reserve status, and they have openly stated their goal of replacing the dollar as the premier internationally traded currency. I received a lot of ridicule back in 2008 and 2009 for suggesting that China was morphing its financial system away from exports and becoming a consumer based hub for the East in preparation to dump the dollar. Needless to say, China has indeed done this, all while MSM talking heads and their parroting followers continued to deny it was occurring. Now, members of China’s financial community, including former central bank advisers, are openly calling for the Chinese government to end its investment in American debt:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-03/treasuries-lack-safety-liquidity-for-china-yu-yongding-says.html

This news is compounded by an announcement from the Chinese Central Bank which set the gold investment community ablaze; China’s government is now fully opening markets to support gold investment and is even helping its banks to begin diversifying into gold:

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6743ZF20100805

In China’s strictly controlled economy, such a change of policy is tremendous news with serious implications. China is the largest gold producer in the world, yet, the demand for precious metals is so high (especially by their central bank) that they are increasing shipments from overseas sources. This is good news for gold investors, but bad news for the dollar. China suddenly opens the gold floodgates (gold is the primary hedge against dollar collapse) while at the same time openly discussing the liquidation of their U.S. Treasury reserves? This is not a coincidence.

Another factor of some weight is the issue of weak spending power within China. Some argue that China’s low interest rates are creating a savings shortfall for Chinese consumers, making their move towards a consumption based economy difficult. What they don’t realize though is that this is yet another reason for the Chinese government to dump T-bonds and create a surge in the Yuan’s value. This would be an ideal method for increasing the buying power of the Chinese consumer:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-06/china-rates-seen-robbing-consumers-to-help-banks-as-5-growth-risk-looms.html

Whether or not China’s goal is to help global banks deliberately destroy the dollar, they have the perfect alibi: The U.S. government demanded that China let the Yuan rise in value, China’s new consumer based economy needs a stronger Yuan if they are to survive, and the U.S. dollar is no longer a safe investment anyway. I’ll say it again; China is now ready to dump the dollar at anytime.

Housing Market Threatens Dollar: Remember Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? You know, the mortgage agencies which hold $5 Trillion in sinking real estate securities? The companies that our Treasury has promised a never-ending bailout to? Well, they are back again. Fannie Mae has asked for yet another bailout after continued shortfalls. I have lost track of how many bailouts this makes:

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fannie-taps-treasury-again-after-quarterly-loss-2010-08-05

These bailouts drag directly on our national debt, and are costing the American taxpayer billions. Why do Freddie and Fannie still need money? Because the housing market is still falling apart! The Treasury and Barack Obama recently admitted that they had “underestimated” the number of homeowners who were still behind on their mortgage payments by two months or more even after receiving government help through the HAMP program:

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE67553520100807?type=politicsNews

Nearly 20% of homeowners who received government aid are re-defaulting on their mortgages or are near re-default. The government originally reported that the number was only 7.7%. I remember well when the skewed numbers were released and the stock market rallied in jubilee at the success of the HAMP measures. It seemed to me that the government numbers did not jive at all with the rising rate of foreclosures. According to the Obama Administration and Treasury officials, it was an “error” on the fault of Fannie Mae. I suspect it was not error at all, but a deliberate effort to artificially pump up the so called recovery, just as the Labor Department has done in the past with unemployment statistics.

What does housing have to do with the Dollar? First, the Treasury’s commitment to Fannie and Freddie has placed the U.S. taxpayer at the edge of an endless debt vacuum. As long as real estate continues to crumble, as long as people continue to lose their jobs and default on their mortgages, we will have to continue bailing out Fannie and Freddie. This creates the potential for trillions of dollars of debt that will be monetized by the Federal Reserve, putting even more strain on the dollar. Second, the further into debt our country goes, the more tempted other countries will be to back out of U.S. Treasury investment. Currently, the vast majority of Treasury purchases by foreign buyers are short term, maturing in a matter of weeks. The U.S. cannot sustain itself on short term investment. I believe that our nation’s debt issues including the endless fallout from the mortgage crisis will cause a detrimental loss of faith in the dollar and I believe this will occur soon.

States Will Ask For Their Own Bailouts: States have accumulated over $2.4 Trillion in municipal debt (official number) over the past two years alone:

http://www.newsmax.com/Headline/debt-state-governments-local-trillion-federal-rich-states-poor-states/2010/08/01/id/366260

Local bond debts now take up at least 22% of our country’s GDP. These figures do not include the states’ $3 Trillion in pension obligations, which means we are looking more along the lines of 50% of our national GDP tied up in state debt. This has caused some Federal programs to be implemented while others are diminished. For instance, $14 billion has been taken from ‘future’ 2013 food stamp programs to help pay for teachers and school lunch programs now:

http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2010/08/food_stamps_or_teachers_congre.html

How this works, I’m not really sure. It sounds very similar to the government method of “borrowing” from future Social Security accounts to pay for other programs today. It’s not surprising that Social Security is now (officially) in the red, and it is guaranteed that my generation will not see a penny of it when we retire (Retire?! Ha! I crack myself up!):

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/aug/5/social-security-red-first-time-ever/

The point is, not only California and Illinois, but many other states as well, are on the verge of municipal default. Some agencies still rate municipal debt very high, but they also rated subprime mortgages very high, and look what happened! No one in their right mind wants to touch municipal bonds today, and this will invariably lead to insolvency in cities and states, I believe we will see this begin before the year is out.

The response will be predictable; states will ask for Federal assistance to the tune of billions, leading eventually to trillions. States did receive some bailout funds up until December of last year, but it was nowhere near the capital they needed to survive. States are also rapidly losing revenues due to lower property taxes, lower consumer activity, etc. They have nowhere else to turn except a new Federal bailout specifically designated for municipal debt (unless the states want to actually grow some courage and assert 10th Amendment rights, taking back full control of their economies).

Again, the issue is and always has been DEBT. No government in the world has the ability to truly solve debt problems with more debt. There is always a price in making the attempt, and the price is usually steep. In our case, the price is the destruction of our currency. State debts will translate to Federal debts, which will translate to fiat creation and monetization, which will translate to loss of dollar faith, which will translate to loss of the dollar, period.

Turning Point For The Dollar, And For Us…

If you feel like you are looking out over the ocean at the towering black anvil cloud of an approaching tempest, that’s because you are. There are always indicators. The air electrifies, the waters whip and swell, the atmosphere grows heavy. Economics is the same way. After a time, you begin to feel the intensity of the financial stratum. The imbalances of the markets crackle, and thunderous roar of the typhoon grows near.

I and many other researchers hear this sound in terms of the U.S. dollar. The potential for a monetary breakdown has arrived.

I find there is persistent confusion amongst analysts as to what constitutes inflation. In my humble opinion, any event which causes the dollar to devalue and prices to rise is inflation. This does not necessarily require “overprinting” of physical money to take place, though I do believe overprinting is happening behind closed doors. The dollar can be compromised in many ways, not just through runaway fiat creation. Any loss of our world reserve status will result in a major devaluation. Any extended dumping of U.S. T-bonds by other countries will result in major devaluation. The endless accumulation of national debt without the backing of foreign capital will result in major devaluation. All of these problems are active in our economy right now. The end result; simultaneous inflation and deflation, and they don’t cancel each other out!

Some people regard this kind of information as “fear mongering”, or “doom and gloom”. Fear mongering suggests an exaggeration or even fabrication of facts in order to frighten the reader towards some particular end. It’s supposed to somehow benefit the fear monger. Nothing written above is an exaggeration, only a relay of the cold hard reality we face as a society, and frankly, I gain nothing by frightening anyone with these facts, not even notoriety, since I report under a pen-name. At bottom, if someone is terrified by the truth, that is their problem, not mine. The accusation does make me grin sometimes…

I have even come across a few people in the survivor and preparation field who seem strangely bothered by our efforts. The behavior is puzzling, but I suspect that some see the realm of collapse information as their own personal domain, one they would like to keep to themselves. And some, perhaps, feel that we are dwelling too much on the activators of collapse, when we should just make a few preparations and then go on with our day.

I and other researchers do what we do because we want others to be aware and organized. We give you the difficult data because we want you to stay informed and up to date on the latest developments, developments we feel you have a right to know about and the strength to take. Our goal is to fill the void of information that the MSM has left in its wake. There is a difference between paranoia, and vigilance. The paranoid only see threats in truth, threats they feel they can do nothing about. The vigilant see opportunities, ways of using the truth to deal with the dangers ahead. By keeping track of economic developments, the vigilant are far more mentally prepared than any survivalist who chooses to ignore them.

The gravity of the coming currency crisis is a crucial issue. According to the data, it is no longer a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’ it will reveal itself completely. We aren’t dealing with hypotheticals here, we are dealing with eventualities. The sooner the American public accepts this, the sooner we can confront the trouble head on.

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