Those of you who have been regular readers of this site have seen me use this phrase to describe the Western Central Bankers. I wish to explain this a bit further so you can understand my take on this modern phenomenon.
Back during the Medieval Period, a craft developed which attempted to find a method whereby common, ordinary and PLENTIFUL materials, could be transmuted into something rare, precious and accordingly, valuable. Through various experiments, they took lead, iron and other metals and tried to create a foolproof method for generating untold sums of wealth and thereby prosperity.
We all know that such attempts ended in disappointment/failure but at least we did enhance somewhat our understanding of chemistry and some other earth sciences a bit in the process.
Fast forward to today - what we are witnessing in the Central Bank actions of this last decade is unprecedented as far as its scope but not in its goal when we clear away all the fog and obfuscations involved. The goal of these modern day alchemists remains EXACTLY the SAME as that of the quacks of the Medieval period, namely, the transmutation of common, ordinary and plentiful materials into something of value which will herald in a new era of lasting prosperity.
What I am referring to goes by various names, Quantitative Easing, Bond Buying Programs, Inflation Targeting, etc. but in its essence it is identical. It is no less than the attempt by Central Banks to turn paper into something of value. In this case it is even worse, because it takes DEBT and somehow cosmically turns that into VALUE by declaring it an asset. I cannot think of anything more opposed to sound logic and economic common sense and yet this is where we are at today.
Think about what these hucksters have foisted upon this generation - As the governments of the West sinking deeper and deeper into a debt abyss, these Central Banks "buy" this debt (government IOU's from technically insolvent nations) by the creation of electronic digits in a computer which they then credit to a primary dealer (large bank). This large bank then declares this an asset against which it may generate loans and thus the new "credit" makes its way down through the economy ending up, supposedy, in creating more spending (more debt) which in turn is supposed to stimulate demand for all manner of products and services.
Along the line, the size of the debt burden gets bigger and bigger and bigger, while the citizens are told not to concern themselves with such things. "Don't worry" we are told, "The Fed can continue to enlarge its balance sheet and accomodate as much liquidity as is needed to deal with matters."
MEanwhile, here in the US, the federal debt is now firmly over 100% DEBT to GDP. The last time that this happened in this nation was back during WWII, when the nation was forced to deficit spend in order to ramp up for that conflict. However, and this is key, the DEBT/GDP ratio did not stay there long as the path for that ratio was one of decline. Today however, and this is what is absolutely terrifying, the trajectory for the US debt is not one of decline. Quite the contrary, it is one of a PARABOLIC INCREASE. We only have to look 4 years out the curve to see that the nation's deficit will increase by a minimum of $4 TRILLION taking the total well over $20 TRILLION. Heaven only knows where we will be in a decade!
Yet, this CERTAIN DEVELOPMENT seems to have been completely and utterly relegated to the back corner of some faraway room when it comes to the current wave of euphoria, and I might add, downright GIDDINESS, that has infected the chattering financial class and the majority of the wildly bullish analysts now urging continued buying of stocks by investors worldwide. Shortsightedly, they point to corporate profits, low interest rates and continued intervention by the Federal Reserve to make their point that equities are the GO TO investment that the public needs to buy right now, because "they are still cheap". It is as if an intoxicating brew or opiate has been poured out from on high upon the generation who are declaring with absolute confidence that the "worst is over".
Case in point is Japan, which has a DEBT to GDP ratio of over 200% and is climbing. As a matter of fact, the new government there ran on a platform that it would force the Bank of Japan to target an inflation rate of 2%. In other words, buy as much debt, print as much yen, etc. as is needed to FORCE inflation to move to a 2% rate. Take one look at what this has done to the value of the Yen, but particularly to the value of the Yen compared to Gold. It has plunged 16% against the value of the US Dollar in 5 months.
It has fallen a whopping 80% against the value of an ounce of gold in 12 years time.
The same thing is happening to the Yen in relation to the Euro, against which is continues to also plummet.
If you think that the grand experiment is not going to impact the average Japanese citizen, take a look at the following chart of Brent Crude oil when priced in terms of the Yen. Notice the rocket shot higher that has occured since the currency began strongly devaluing. Crude oil prices in Japan are certainly experiencing that "benign" inflationary impact. Since Japan imports the vast bulk of its crude oil, its devaluation of the yen, caused by massive yen printing/creation, is going to hit the average Japanese citizen quite harshly.
Another chart is the Brent Crude in Dollar terms just to provide a gauge to see that while crude has been rising even in Dollar terms, the rise in not nearly as pronounced as it is in Yen terms.
That brings us fact to our initial point. What the Western Central Banks have all opted to do is basically the same as the Japanese although the Japanese, to their credit, are far more open and honest about what they are attempting.
This is the reason that heretofore the GRAND EXPERIMENT of the MODERN DAY ALCHEMISTS has not yet ended in apparent failure. In a world in which only one nation was engaged in this massive bond buying/liquidity injection/money creation attempt, that nation would see its currency collapse in value against the other major global currencies, thereby impacting its average citizen (the middle class and especially the poor) as their standard of living inexorably declines, much to their bewilderment and loss to explain. Rampant inflation would be seen even in the midst of a soaring stock market as the inflation manifests itself FIRST in that sector.
Were the Fed the only Central Bank engaged in this madness, the Dollar would have already gone the path of the Yen and begun its INEVITABLE and UNAVOIDABLE devaluation. Both the Yen and the British Pound however are beating the Dollar to the devaluation punch.
Even at that, the US Dollar is still barely holding its own right now. Look the monthly chart and see how the Dollar is beginning to sink. Again, were it not for the weakness in the Yen and the British Pound, the Dollar would be the "sick man" of the global economy based on the sheer size of this Federal Reserve alchemy.
"When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe." … Frederic Bastiat
Evil talks about tolerance only when it’s weak. When it gains the upper hand, its vanity always requires the destruction of the good and the innocent, because the example of good and innocent lives is an ongoing witness against it. So it always has been. So it always will be. And America has no special immunity to becoming an enemy of its own founding beliefs about human freedom, human dignity, the limited power of the state, and the sovereignty of God. – Archbishop Chaput
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