Force and Chicanery
A quick word of warning. Yesterday was the day the Fed began ‘running off’ its balance sheet. That means it is no longer buying bonds. From MarketWatch:
‘In a nutshell, “quantitative tightening” is the opposite of “quantitative easing”: It’s basically a way to reduce the money supply floating around in the economy…It’s seen as likely to drive up real or inflation-adjusted yields, which in turn makes stocks somewhat less attractive. And it should put upward pressure on Treasury term premia, or the compensation investors need for bearing interest-rate risks over the life of a bond.’
It was the Fed’s quantitative easing that ballooned its balance sheet and set the stock market dancing. My colleague Tom Dyson believes quantitative tightening — not the Fed’s baby step rate hikes — will bring the party to an end.
Most likely, we’ll see some scary and exciting days on Wall Street as tipsy revellers find their cars, head out onto the highway, and end up in a ditch.
But we left you hanging yesterday, didn’t we?
You wanted to know how ‘the law’ could end up on the wrong side of ‘the people’, didn’t you? You probably also wondered what damned difference it makes.
We’re not interested in political philosophy either. We’re just connecting the dots to get a clearer idea of what’s ahead. We look at one…and then another. Gradually…then suddenly…a picture appears.
Decree and flimflam
For example, yesterday came word of a new ‘law’ — actually, a whole set of regulations, edicts, and proclamations. Reuters:
‘The Biden administration will announce on Wednesday more than $2.1 billion in funding to shore up weaknesses in the country’s food supply system exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
‘U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will unveil the new funding, designed to enhance competition in food processing and distribution, increase access to healthy food, and expand markets for farmers, during a speech at Georgetown University.’
Translation: Mr Vilsack, whose department grows no grains, delivers no milk, and neither sows nor reaps, will take US$2.1 billion from ‘the people’ who do and distribute it to his pet projects, friends, favoured clients, and other well-lobbied insiders. The result: farmers and the public will be poorer…and less able to buy food.
That is how the ruling elite rolls — by decree and flimflam. And it’s why their new ‘laws’ are almost always on the wrong side of the people they’re supposed to serve. Unlike the consensual ‘rules of the road’, the new laws do not make it easier for ‘the people’ to get where they want to go. Instead, they force them to detour in a different direction.
Jumping to a conclusion, here’s what we see: the entire global ruling caste, led by the upper 0.001% who gather at Davos, Switzerland, is like a group of heirs to a vast fortune who have no idea how the money was made.
Just look at the US’s jefes. Most have spent their whole lives in politics. Now they appear to be almost preternaturally dumb, with a stupidity that is somewhere between sublime and miraculous. Ms Yellen didn’t see the price increases coming — even though she is a PhD economist; she thought inflation was too low. How was that possible?
The President’s ‘sanctions war’ against Russia is undermining the dollar-based world financial system, raising prices of food and energy, risking nuclear war, and threatening millions with famine. (Admittedly, Joe ‘the Big Guy’ Biden knows much more about the Ukraine than we do; his family earned big money from Ukrainian payoffs.)
And the US Congress voted overwhelmingly — with no debate! — to give US$40 billion to Ukraine, even though it has no dog in the fight and no money to give to anyone. Didn’t Congress know that ‘the people’ have no interest in who misgoverns the Donbass? And didn’t Ms Yellen tell them that the money is needed at home? Washington Examiner ‘New budget numbers show the US careening toward calamity’:
‘The Center for a Responsible Federal Budget, a respected nonpartisan group, reminded us yet again Tuesday that federal spending plans and debt levels are unsustainable. Lawmakers should get serious about debt reduction now — before it’s too late.
‘Counting only debt held by the public — which is some 20% lower than total government debt, including intra-governmental transfers — CRFB says that absent strong corrective action, the federal debt is likely to reach 125% of gross domestic product within a decade. ‘Most nations are in a serious danger zone for economic collapse when debt exceeds 100% of GDP.’
Where did all that debt come from? Since 1999, the feds have made US$25 trillion in new ‘investments’ (the increase in Federal debt); nearly every penny has been lost.
They promised that debt and money printing would stimulate the economy; instead, real wages are falling…and the economy staggers from one crisis to the next.
They promised more equality; instead, the rich are richer than ever and the gap between rich and poor has grown much wider.
They promised peace and security; instead, they’ve entered one pointless war after another…including risking a nuclear war with Russia.
And now their inflation tax makes almost everyone poorer and brings millions more of the world’s poorest people to the edge of starvation.
So what do they do? Admit failure and retire? Send out a confessional tweet?
‘Alas, you can’t make people better off by tricking up an economy with phony money and fake interest rates. Or by bossing them around with laws and edicts. Sorry.’
Nah…they never do that.
Instead, they double down. They get tough. They find new enemies. Russians! White supremacists! Climate change deniers! They use propaganda and censorship to build support…and advertise their own corruption as virtue. After all, they’re fighting for democracy, for equality, for zero-carbon emissions and a virus-free world! And when BS fails, they turn to brute force to stay in control.
But force and chicanery are enemies of wealth. The more the elite tries to control ‘the people’, the less real wealth they produce.
Hold on to your hat. Next week we’ll connect more dots…and look ahead to poverty, chaos, crime, and the decline of Western civilisation. Whee!
For The Daily Reckoning Australia