The Pandemic of Money Printing
While Australia frets about a few hundred daily COVID-19 cases, the covid death toll here in the UK was revised down by 5,000. Yes, down.
No, there are not 5,000 covid undead roaming the streets of London. It was all just an administrative error…which increased the death toll by 12%.
The BBC summed it up best: ‘Someone who recovered from Covid-19 in March and died in a car crash in July would have been counted as a coronavirus death.’ But not anymore.
So, do you think the scientific studies of COVID-19 fatality rates will be retracted en masse? Me neither.
Now 12% doesn’t sound like much. But consider this, also from the BBC: ‘And figures for deaths in England for the most recent week of data — 18 to 24 July — will drop by 75%, from 442 to 111.’ In other words, the data by which Britain’s political response to covid was measured in the media last month was four times worse than reality…
Hundreds of articles about second waves, comparisons to other countries, and debates about the lockdown were based on figures 400% out of whack.
I think I could do a better job of identifying the cause of death than that margin of error. Especially if they died in a car crash months after their covid test.
Which begs the question. If the government can’t count dead people, nor what they died of, how accurate is the rest of the data?
And what about timing? In Germany, the politicians have discovered that 900 people who tested positive for COVID-19 haven’t been notified a fortnight or more after their tests. I wonder what they’ve been doing during that time…
New Zealand discovered a covid cluster and blamed imported goods from an American company as the source. When the Chinese did this, blaming the initial COVID-19 outbreak on goods imported from the US, everyone laughed at them.
In Australia, covid is supposedly respecting state borders. What entire oceans and seas can’t do elsewhere in the world, the Tweed River can.
What my Queensland dwelling friend refers to as ‘Mexico’ is riddled with cases. But, north of the Tweed, only the Mexicans who escaped are covid positive, of course…
People’s capacity to believe is out of control. It’s so exasperating. I thought that nothing would make people question statistics and government data more than the COVID-19 mess. I was hoping for a renaissance of scepticism. Cynicism, even. ‘Nothing is official until it is denied by the government’ sort of thing.
I had hoped people would no longer believe government statistics, nor the scientific and economic models based on those stats. They would be freed from being able to make ideological arguments based on dodgy data and analysis. They’d have to think instead of spout others’ statistical nonsense.
Instead, the pandemic seems to have had the opposite effect. People mistake titbits of dodgy data for reality more than ever. And, because any particular batch of covid data can be twisted to fit any particular batch of political views, people are living and breathing the numbers, often at each other.
The word ‘Sweden’ has become an invitation for an argument. It works better than spilling your drink on someone used to. I suppose you’re not allowed to do the latter anymore…
There’s nothing like winding other people up over statistics. Because, if the other person denies them, you can call them a crazed conspiracy theorist. And that settles the argument — they’re too nuts to deserve listening to. Even when the statistics get revised by 75% and clusters appear inside covid-free nations…
Mask wearing, vaccination acceptance, lockdown compliance, and every other pandemic activity is now an ideological and political statement. Something you put on Facebook before you actually do it. You only need to check which celebrities support what position to figure out your own view.
The only people struggling are the ones who both support vaccinations and hate Russia.
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But the political drama is only just beginning. Because the US presidential race is on. And both candidates are spouting so much incoherent nonsense that even their critics can’t quite figure out how to counter their arguments.
I suppose that’s what happens when political arguments are so tribal that it doesn’t matter what the leaders say. You end up with candidates who can’t string together a sentence.
Don’t get me wrong, they can still argue. But nobody knows what they’re arguing about. Which suits everyone considering voting, at this point. They don’t have to inform themselves if their pick doesn’t make sense. Nobody will catch them out on any policy position, because nobody can discern any such position.
But where does it all lead? And what does it mean for financial markets?
Well, societies have a habit of going a bit bonkers like this in periods of money printing.
I know you think it’s the pandemic delivering the madness. But consider whether we could even have a lockdown if the governments of the world couldn’t finance their deficits spending rescue plans with central bank financial support.
People couldn’t pay their mortgages and rents, buy enough food, nor go on holiday to Japan like my sister-in-law did while collecting 80% of her salary on a government financed furlough…
In other words, we would have to return to normal life in the midst of a pandemic. And normality has a habit of sobering people up, fast.
People are paid printed money to stay home
Instead, we get a lockdown purgatory. Sponsored by central bankers and their invention; the printing press. People are being paid printed money to stay home and watch Netflix. No wonder they go mad.
Of course, the printing press is not a new invention. And we know where the path of monetising deficits leads. That’s why it had to be made illegal in Europe before the Germans would sign up to the euro. But what’s law during a pandemic?
No doubt the Germans can smell what’s up. A pandemic? A roaring stock market? A housing boom during an economic depression? Money printing? Social unrest?
We must be in the 20s again!
This is undoubtedly good news. The 20s were roaring, they say. Especially in Berlin.
The trouble is what comes next
You see, under the system of recording financial transactions we use, debt is still recorded. And, even if money can be printed, debt must still be repaid.
This creates the incentive and the need to do something stupid.
Eventually, the combination of deficit spending and money printing leads to so much debt that taxation and austerity just won’t solve the problem. Only inflation can reduce the value of that much government debt.
But governments won’t be able to stop spending and printing. The inflation will get out of control, as it did in the late 20s in Germany and the 70s in the West.
I can see all this coming. But here’s what I’m still struggling with…
How does it affect Australia?
You see, commodities tend to outperform during inflation. And Australia’s levels of government debt aren’t as bad as the rest of the developed world. It may be a safe haven.
But the government’s decent fiscal position may be temporary. It just looks good before our politicians have to bail out the banks. That’s what happened to Ireland.
And an inflationary commodity boom isn’t a real one.
So, you tell me, how does Australia fare in an inflationary boom?
Please write in your answers here: DR feedback page.
Until next time,
Editor, The Daily Reckoning Australia