Money Under Fire

 

A reminder of the great wealth transfer underway

Today we welcome a cohort of new readers visiting PeakProsperity.com for the first time. This article is to give them our best grounding in the massive wealth transfer underway.

Our hope is that our longtime readers will likely benefit from a revisitation of the fundamentals, as well.

One serious predicament we face is that the current leaders in the halls of monetary and political power do not appear to understand the dimensions of our situation. The mind-boggling part about it is that the situation is easy to understand.

Our collective predicament is simply this: Nothing can grow forever.

Sooner or later, everything must cease growing, or it will exhaust its environs and thereby destroy itself.  The Fed is busy doing everything in its considerable power to get credit (that is, debt) growing again so that we can get back to what it considers to be “normal.”

But the problem is or the predicament, I should more accurately say is that the recent past was not normal.  You’ve probably all seen this next chart.  It shows total debt in the U.S. as a percent of GDP:


(Source)

Somewhere right around 1980, things really changed, and debt began climbing far faster than GDP. And that, right there, is the long and the short of why any attempt to continue the behavior that got us to this point is certain to fail.

It is simply not possible to grow your debts faster than your income forever. However, that’s been the practice since 1980, and every current politician and Federal Reserve official developed their opinions about ‘how the world works’ during the 33-year period between 1980 and 2013.

Put bluntly, they want to get us back on that same track, and as soon as possible. The reason?  Because every major power center, be that in D.C. or on Wall Street, tuned their thinking, systems, and sense of entitlement during that period. And, frankly, a huge number of financial firms and political careers will melt away if/when that credit expansion finally stops.

And stop it will; that’s just a mathematical certainty. It’s now extremely doubtful that the Fed or D.C. will willingly cease the current Herculean efforts towards reviving this flawed practice of borrowing too much, too fast. So we have to expect that it will be some form of financial accident that finally breaks the stranglehold of failed thinking that infects current leadership.

The Math

As you can see in this next chart, since 1970, TCMD has been growing exponentially and almost perfectly, too. (The R2 is over 0.99, for you science types):

I’ve pointed out the tiny little wiggle that happened in 2008-2009, which apparently nearly brought down the entire global financial system. That little deviation was practically too much all on its own.

Now debts are climbing again at a quite nice pace. That’s mainly due to the Fed monetizing U.S. federal debt just to keep things patched together.

What happens to the current $57 trillion in TCMD as it advances by 8% per year for 30 years?  It mushrooms into a silly number: $573 trillion. That is, an 8% growth paradigm gives us a tenfold increase in total credit in just thirty years:

For perspective, the GDP of the entire globe was just $85 trillion in 2012. Even if we advance global GDP by some hefty number, like 4% per year for the next 30 years, under an 8% growth regime, U.S. credit would be twice as large as global GDP in 2043 (!)

That gets us to $185 trillion, or another $128 trillion higher than today a more than 3x increase:

Again, What might we borrow (only) $128 trillion for, over the next 30 years? 

When I run these numbers, I am entirely confident that the rate of growth in debt between 1980 and 2013 will not be recreated between 2013 and 2043. With just one caveat: I’ve been assuming that dollars remain valuable. If dollars were to lose 90% or more of their value (say, perhaps due to our central bank creating too many of them?), then it’s entirely possible to achieve any sorts of fantastical numbers one wishes to see.

Think it could never happen?

The Case For Hard Assets

This is the critical takeaway from all of the math above: For the Fed to achieve anything even close to the historical rate of credit growth, the dollar will have to lose a tremendous amount of its purchasing power. I truly believe this is the Fed’s grand plan, if we may call it that, and it has nothing to do with what’s best for the people of this land. Instead, it’s entirely about keeping the financial system primed with sufficient new credit to prevent it from imploding.

There’s a preponderance of data that shows the world’s major asset markets are dangerously overvalued. And when these asset bubbles start to burst, the ‘save haven’ markets — like gold and silver — that investment capital will try to flee to are ridiculously small. Investors who do not start moving their capital in advance of crisis will be forced to pay much higher prices for safety — or may find they can’t get into these haven assets at any price: (see source for video)

Full article: Money Under Fire (Peak Prosperity)

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