October 2, 2022

Explosive Gold Rally Is Imminent Based On Bearish Sentiment and Fundamentals

You know the world is changing when the head of the world’s biggest bond fund recommends gold as his first asset choice.

In this week’s Barron’s Roundtable, Bond King Bill Gross affirms his bullish view on gold due to his assessment that central banks will continue to suppress interest rates by purchasing vast amounts of government debt with printed money.  Gross notes that the financial system is now longer operating under free-market capitalism when the Fed is buying a “remarkable” 80% of debt issued by the U.S. Treasury.  Massive deficits are being funded with printed currency on a global scale never attempted in the past and sooner or later, according to Bill Gross, inflation will blow past the central bank’s targeted rate of 2.5%.

The really big risk comes when huge holders of U.S. debt such as China and Japan become disgusted with U.S. fiscal and monetary policies and decide to dump their treasuries as inflation decimates the value of their holdings.  Bill Gross tells Barron’s exactly what could go wrong and which gold investment he likes the best.

The big risk is that the Chinese would rather own something else. Investors can choose between artificially priced financial assets or real assets like oil and gold or, to be really safe, cash. The real risk to the financial markets is the marginal proclivity of investors to put their money in real assets, or under the mattress. Thus, my first recommendation is GLD — the SPDR Gold Trust exchange-traded fund. It has a fee, but it is an easy way for investors to buy a real asset.

Lots of things go into pricing gold, but real interest rates [adjusted for inflation] and expected inflation are two dominant considerations. Gold probably won’t move much from current levels unless real rates decline more or inflationary expectations rise from the current 2.5% to 3%, or higher. That’s what gets gold off the dime. It is a decent hedge. It doesn’t earn anything, but not much else earns anything either.

Pounding the table even harder than Gross, Fred Hickey, editor of the High-Tech Strategist, tells Barron’s that an explosive rally in gold seems imminent based on the massive bearish sentiment towards gold.  Long term, Hickey sees gold hitting at least $5,000 per ounce, a target that Gold and Silver Blog also sees as a very reasonable future price target.

Hickey: I am recommending gold, as I have done for many years. I will continue to do so until the gold price hits the blow-off stage, which is nowhere in sight. I am excited about gold because sentiment is so negative. Gold could have a sharp rally at any time. The Hulbert Gold Newsletter Sentiment Index went deeply negative last week, indicating that gold-newsletter writers are recommending net short positions. When that happens, gold almost always rallies. The daily sentiment index for gold is at a 12-year low. Short positions by large speculators have doubled in the past few months. Sales of American Eagle coins hit a five-year low in 2012. Yet, the environment for gold couldn’t be better. We talked today about massive money-printing by all the major central banks. Real interest rates are negative. These are the best possible conditions for a gold rally.

Felix said gold could rally to the $1,800-an-ounce level, and I agree. If it breaks that, it will go to $2,000 or more. As long as we have unlimited quantitative easing, we have the potential for unlimited gains in the gold price. Gold could go to $5,000 or even $10,000. You can buy gold through the GLD or IAU, as we discussed. This year I recommend physical gold. You can buy American Eagle coins, or gold bars. Everyone should have some physical gold, and almost no one in the U.S. does.

Hickey also says that the price of gold is nowhere near a “blow off stage”, despite constant mainstream press reports of gold’s imminent collapse.  For further discussion on this see The Gold Bubble Myth and Why There Is No Upside Limit For Gold and Silver Prices.

Nine Reasons Why You Must Own Gold

By: Deviant Investor

american-gold-eagle-coins

    • Gold has been real money (medium of exchange and a store of value) for over 3,000 years. It is still real money.
    • Gold has no counter-party risk. It is not someone else’s liability. It has intrinsic value that is recognized around the world.
    • ALL paper money systems have eventually failed. The intrinsic value of paper money is effectively zero; and all paper money has, throughout history, eventually devalued to zero.
    • Paper money is a liability of a central bank or a government that may be insolvent. The money issued by a central bank or government has value based NOT on its intrinsic value, but only upon people’s faith, trust, and confidence in that money. Occasionally that faith and confidence is misplaced. For example:

zimbabwe

    • The price of gold in US dollars since the year 2001 has been strongly correlated with the ever-increasing official national debt of the United States. Read $4,000 Gold! Yes, But When? Does anyone believe that the national debt will decrease or even remain constant over the next several years? NO! The national debt will increase even more rapidly over the next four years and so will the price of gold. Skeptical? Then look at the chart of national debt and the nearly parallel price of gold. Still skeptical? Do you remember gasoline selling for less than $.20 per gallon and gold selling for about $40? They have increased in price because there are currently many more dollars in circulation than in the 1960s – hence, it takes more dollars to buy an ounce of gold, a gallon of gasoline, a loaf of bread, a cup of coffee, or a fighter jet.

Click on image to enlarge.
  • Because governments and central banks issue paper money backed by nothing but faith and credit, they are in competition with gold which is real money. Should we be surprised when they discount the importance of gold and discourage ownership? Should we be surprised when the “Oracle of Omaha” denigrates gold ownership? (Berkshire Hathaway holds huge positions in banking stocks and Goldman Sachs stock.) Should we be surprised when news stories are heavily slanted against gold ownership?
  • Groucho Marx once said, “Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?” Who are you going to believe – the history of gold as valuable money while paper money failed, or the pronouncements of politicians, central banks, and the owners of bank stocks?
  • Who and what do you believe? It will be important to your financial well-being if (when) paper money accelerates its journey toward an intrinsic value of zero.
  • Are you going to believe history and current facts or less reliable information from politicians, central banks, and the owners of bank stocks?

GE Christenson
aka Deviant Investor

Gold and Silver Will Protect You From The Looming Financial Hurricane

By: GE Christenson

What Storm?

  • A hurricane of digital money created by central banks to purchase government debt and other dodgy assets from banks.
  • A tidal wave of deficit spending by governments around the world. It continues, regardless of whether you call it business as usual, stimulus, payoffs, or bailouts.
  • A perfect storm of derivatives – the weapons of mass financial destruction that continue to plague our financial system – but make $Billions (Maybe $Trillions) in profits for the huge banks.
  • A tornado of bailouts, giveaways, loans, and currency swaps from the Federal Reserve to backstop banks, politically connected individuals and corporations, European governments and others.
  • An approaching thunderstorm of new and higher taxes – perhaps a carbon tax, a VAT, and a wealth tax. We hope most of these will be downgraded to a hot air disturbance.
  • A tsunami of Japanese Yen based on the election of Prime Minister Abe and his avowed intention to weaken the Yen.

Why Do We Need Shelter?

  • Derivatives involve huge counter-party risk. The international financial system seems increasingly shaky. Those derivatives might be triggered by a Greek government default, another Lehman-like implosion, or a “black-swan” event that causes derivative contracts be paid. Will the counter-parties be able and willing to pay as required? Was sufficient margin set aside to protect all those derivative contracts? Doubtful!
  • It seems that the $700 Trillion in derivatives is largely based on $70 Trillion of sovereign debt, much of which is of marginal quality. When the collateral is worth less than face value, the derivative is worth considerably less than face value, or perhaps nothing.
  • Medicare and Social Security costs to the US government are huge and increasing. More deficits and accelerating national debt will be the result.
  • Will the dollar weaken against other currencies? Will the bond bubble finally burst?
  • Consumer price inflation is here and increasing.

Where Is The Shelter?

The problems are unbacked paper assets, excess debt, too much government spending, massive government deficits, derivatives that could implode, and lack of political will to correct the problems. We need a shelter that will minimize these risks.

One shelter is to divest out of paper assets and into gold and silver bullion and coins, land, farms, hobby farms, diamonds, and other physical assets. If you must stay in paper, consider using ETFs for crude, grains, sugar, gold, silver and other commodities. Read Ten Steps to Safety.

Conclusions

The investment world is increasingly dangerous. Few understood in late 1999 that an epic crash in the NASDAQ was about to occur. Housing crashed despite a wide-spread belief that real estate always goes up. There are several candidates for another crash – sovereign debt, derivatives, and the dollar.

We can depend less upon the safety of paper assets. We can depend less upon 1′s and 0′s on a financial server that claim we have assets in a brokerage account. When your government is seeking revenue, your assets are less safe. As Doug Casey says, your government currently sees you as a milk cow but may eventually view you as a beef cow.

Give your savings and retirement a chance to preserve their purchasing power. Minimize currency risk, find an alternative to a CD that pays 1% per year or a 30 year bond that pays about 3% per year for 30 years and is guaranteed to be repaid with increasingly depreciated dollars. Gold from 1/1/2000 to 1/1/2013 (13 years – from $282 to $1,655) has increased at a compounded rate of 14% per year. You have choices!

Doug Casey believes we are currently exiting the eye of the financial hurricane that started with the financial crisis of 2008 and that the next phase of the financial storm is imminent. Assets could be “blown away,” and supposedly safe structures might collapse in the financial winds of change.

If the financial hurricane is downgraded to a minor storm, you will still be sheltered in gold, silver, and other physical assets and have lost nothing. However, if the hurricane destroys many paper assets, then gold and silver will shelter you until the storm wreckage is cleared and financial life begins anew.

GE Christenson
aka Deviant Investor

Gold Is The Only Asset With No Counterparty Risk

By: Axel Merk

While the introduction of a trillion-dollar coin has been shrugged off as nonsense, there are plenty of nonsensical concepts employed in our monetary system. Here we’ll shed light on a few of them.

Governments – or their central banks – can print a $100 bill. The value of such a piece of paper is worth exactly as much as the supply and demand of a currency dictates. Dollar bills are legal tender for payment of debt, but if someone does not like that the $100 bill is not backed by anything, then anyone is free to decline a $100 bill in exchange for services, and barter instead.

The problem arises when the government decrees that something is worth a certain amount, unless it becomes the basis of the government’s entire framework of reference, as in a gold standard. In my humble opinion, no one, let alone a government can precisely value anything. The value of goods, services, even debt, is in the eye of the beholder, and varies based on supply and demand:

  • Consumers buy goods or services because they believe they are “good value;” in other words, they only exchange money for goods in a deal where they see themselves benefiting. Consumers should not blame companies for “over-priced” goods or services; they should blame themselves for paying such prices.
  • The perception of what is good value varies from person to person. What may be a must-have $80 a month cable TV subscription, may be a waste to others. It also varies over time, as some may deem a vacation well worth the money during good times, but rather stay at homes when times are tough.
  • When monopolies or governments impose prices, distortions, such as supply disruptions can occur. Or conversely, when the government keeps the price of fuel artificially low, it can significantly erode the government’s ability to provide other services, possibly even bankrupt it.

The market currently prices platinum at over $1,600 a troy ounce. If the Treasury were to decree that a specially minted coin is worth $1,000,000,000,000 instead, no rational person would want to buy it. The argument is that the Federal Reserve could be coerced into accepting it at face value, crediting the Treasury’s account at the Fed with $1 trillion for it to spend. In our view, such a move, if it were upheld in the courts, would:

  • Highlight the not so well known fact that the Federal Reserve (Fed) does not mark its holdings to market. The lack of mark-to-market accounting leading up to the financial crisis is a key reason why the financial system was brought to its knees in 2008. A major loss at the Federal Reserve, such as writing down a $1 trillion coin to $1,600 may not be too worrisome for those that know that even a negative net worth won’t render a central bank inoperative. However, losses at the Fed would deprive the Treasury of what has become an annual transfer of almost $90 billion in “profits” (see MerkInsight Hidden Treasury Risks?).
  • Dilute the value of the dollar. If the Treasury whips up an additional trillion to spend through trickery, odds are that a trillion would no longer be worth what it used to be.

But wait, $1 trillion is already not worth what it used to be, and a $1 trillion coin has not even been minted. And I’m not talking about our grandparents: who had ever heard of trillion dollar deficits before the financial crisis? The Federal Reserve holds just under $3 trillion in assets, up by over $2 trillion since early 2008. When the Federal Reserve engages in “quantitative easing”, QE, QE1, QE2, QE3, QEn or however one wants to call it, the Fed buys securities (mortgage-backed securities, government bonds) from large banks, then credits such banks’ accounts at the Fed. Such credit is done through the use of a keyboard, creating money literally out of thin air. Even Fed Chair Bernanke refers to this process as printing money, even if banks have not deployed most of the money they have received to extend loans. However, the more money the Fed prints, the more debt securities it buys, the greater its income; it’s that argument that has allowed Bernanke to claim that his operations have been “profitable,” neglecting to state that such money printing may pose significant risks to the purchasing power of the dollar.

Note that we don’t need the Fed. Amongst others:

  • If the Treasury wants to issue debt, it can do so without the Fed.
  • If the Treasury wants to manage the maturity of the outstanding government debt portfolio, it can do so without the Fed’s
  • Operation Twist.

Congress and the Administration love the Fed because it is an off-balance sheet entity for the government with special features; the Fed has ‘unlimited resources’ (it can print its own money); and the Fed can have a negative net worth without defaulting.

The way a trillion dollar coin could work is if not just one, but all platinum coins of the same fine ounce content (say one troy ounce) were decreed to be worth $1 trillion. It would be the re-introduction of a gold, well, platinum standard, as it would link the value of a precious metal to the value of the currency. The government would quite likely want to punish any speculators that are front-running the idea of valuing platinum at $1 trillion, possibly even outlawing private ownership. But it would put the value into context and anyone could buy a substitute. Pricing of all goods and services would adjust to reflect the new value of $1 trillion for a troy ounce of platinum. In plain English, such a move would substantially move up the price level.

We deem the re-introduction of a precious metals standard to be rather unlikely, precisely because it takes away the power of Congress to spend: it could only spend money if it got hold of more platinum. Unless, of course, Congress realizes that it may get away with not backing all of the currency with platinum or resets the price of a platinum coin yet again. Soon enough, the “platinum window” would be closed again, just as Richard Nixon closed the gold window in 1971. Let’s call it a coincidence Nixon would have turned 100 years old this year, just as the Federal Reserve is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

While most agree that a $1 trillion platinum coin is a silly idea, few think that a $100 bill is also absurd. There are indeed key differences:

  • $100 bills are all one and the same. Well, almost. In some developing countries, newer bills are worth more than older ones (because of counterfeit bills in circulation).
  • A platinum coin has intrinsic value: its fine ounce content of platinum. In contrast, the $100 bill is worth the paper it is printed on.

To be precise, a $100 bill is a Federal Reserve Note:

  • The holder of a $100 bill may deposit such bill into his or her account.
  • The bank can deposit the $100 bill at the Fed. In turn, the Fed will credit the bank with $100 in checking account.
  • The bank can withdraw the deposit of $100 from the Fed.
  • The bank account holder can withdraw $100 from the bank yet again.

Importantly, the $100 is always an obligation: an obligation of the bank, the government (through FDIC insurance in case of default of the bank) and the Fed (currency in circulation appears on the liability side of the Fed’s balance sheet). Most currency is not issued in paper, but in electronic form. Banks receiving a $100 electronic credit can, through the rules of fractional reserve banking, lend out a multiple of such deposits. Because of this, currency always carries counter-party risk. By regulation, if the counter-party is the Federal Reserve or the Treasury, it is considered to be risk-free. But it’s still a debt security. Moreover, the rating agency Standard & Poor’s does not consider US debt risk-free, having downgraded it because of the dysfunctional political process in addressing the long-term sustainability of U.S. deficits.

In contrast, a coin in itself does not have counter-party risk. It’s a coin with intrinsic value. If a government decreed a value onto that coin, there’s a risk that such decree may change or be undermined.

Precious metals coins may be considered barbarous relics, but at least they do not carry counterparty risk. Indeed, we like the fact that gold in particular has comparatively little industrial application, making it a pure play on monetary policy.

So what is an investor to do? In our opinion, investors must gauge for themselves what something is worth, rather than rely on a government. That applies to the dollar as much as it does to a platinum coin or any security. Notably, forget about the notion that something is risk-free. Those trusting their governments to preserve the purchasing power of their savings will be the losers. Those throwing out the risk free component in their asset allocation models may well come out with fewer bruises.

And while the gold standard has some admirable features, democracies tend to favor spending over balancing books. Over the past 100 years, we have moved further and further away from the gold standard. While a collapse of the fiat monetary system might temporarily get us back on a gold standard, don’t trust a government to take care of you. In practice, this means that investors need to create their personal frame of reference as to how to deploy investments; rational investors are unlikely to mint a personal $1 trillion coin, realizing that no one would pay $1 trillion for it. It also means there is no single safe haven during times of crisis. The fact that precious metals have no counter-party risk is an attractive feature, but don’t kid yourself: if your daily expenses are in U.S. dollar, the value of your purchasing power will fluctuate. Investors must be able to sleep at night with their investments; if not, consider reducing your exposure.

Is volatility with regard to the U.S. dollar an argument against owning precious metals? No, but one needs to be keenly aware of the risks of any investment, including perceived safe havens. To manage the risk to the U.S. Dollar, investors may also want to consider actively managing dollar risk. Please join our Webinar this Tuesday, January 15, 2013, that focuses on our outlook for the dollar, gold and currencies for 2013. Please also sign up for our newsletter to be informed as we discuss global dynamics and their impact on gold and currencies.

Axel Merk

Axel Merk is President and Chief Investment Officer, Merk Investments.

Merk Investments, Manager of the Merk Funds.

Non-Predictions For Gold and Silver

 

Non-Predictions for 2013 and 2014

A train wreck is in process. We have been warned. Protect your finances, investments, and retirement. The official numbers may not represent reality.

By: GE Christenson

More of the Same

  • More money printing by central banks. A trillion here and a trillion there, printed money everywhere.
  • More deficit spending. $3 Billion per day, but who cares?
  • More useless commentary about controlling spending, but the result will be increased spending and more useless commentary.
  • More and higher taxes. More consumer price inflation.
  • More QE. Printing money props up the stock market, but for how long?
  • More debt. More student loans, more credit card debt, more mortgages, more sovereign debt, and eventually some nasty defaults.

Less of the Same

  • Less Congressional credibility – low and going lower.
  • Less belief in a better future. It is difficult to believe in a brighter future when the food stamps and welfare payments just don’t buy what they used to.
  • Less employment. People continue to drop out of the employment statistics because they have given up hope of finding work. This is called “structural unemployment.”
  • Less purchasing power for the dollar. The more the central banks print, the higher the cost of food, fuel, beer, and wine.
  • Lower standard of living. With much higher costs, the standard of living for most Americans will continue to decline.

About the Same

  • The media will continue to assure us that gold is in a bubble – a decade of nonsense – wrong then and wrong now.
  • The media will assure us that silver prices are volatile. That and $2.11 will buy a grande coffee.
  • Inflation and unemployment will continue to be under-reported, even in non-election years.
  • Congressional accomplishments will continue to be over-reported.
  • SNAFU: System Non-functional, All Funding Unlimited.
  • TBTF banks will remain Too Big To Fail.
  • European financial troubles will continue. Ditto for Japan, the UK, and the US.
  • The Federal Reserve will bail out banks and fund much of the government deficit. They will claim this benefits both employment and the economy. That benefit plus $2.11 will buy a grande coffee.

GE Christenson
aka Deviant Investor

All Money Printing Schemes End Badly

By: GE Christenson

William H. Gross (manages the largest bond fund in the world – PIMCO) has much to say about Quantitative Easing and money printing. His latest article, Money For Nothin’ Writing Checks For Free, discusses Quantitative Easing (printing money) and the inevitable consequences. He notes that central banks have printed over six trillion dollars in the last few years. This begs the question, “Why not print even more?” Mr. Gross and many others have suggested that central banks should be hesitant with money printing schemes since they tend to end badly. He also quotes Sir Isaac Newton regarding the temporary success (and subsequent crash) of the English government’s money printing in the early 1700s South Seas bubble, “I can calculate the movement of the stars but not the madness of men.

What about the madness of men? Do YOU really believe the following are true?

  • Congress can NOT reduce spending! (Would the deficit be eliminated if members of congress lost their salary and benefits every year the government overspent revenues?)
  • We can solve an excess debt crisis by creating more debt! (Will vodka also cure alcoholism?)
  • Printing money (QE4Ever) will create economic prosperity! (It creates wealth for banks, but not for the economy.)
  • More government, at much more cost, will improve the economy!
  • 47,000,000 Americans on food stamps (SNAP) indicates a recovering economy!
  • Paper money will always have value and will always be accepted in payment for real goods! (History indicates otherwise.)
  • Loaning money to an insolvent government at about 3% per year for 30 years is a good investment when the government has assured us that it will devalue the dollars used to repay the loan!

What about the sanity of men? Is it more sensible to believe the following?

  • YOU can control your finances, wealth, and retirement.
  • Gold is real money.
  • Physical assets are safer than paper assets or digital “money” on a computer server. Avoid the train wreck.
  • Gold will retain its value, dollars will not.
  • If you own physical assets, you have less need to trust the safety of the stock market or the bond market.
  • Physical assets are much less vulnerable to the actions of central banks, the “Plunge Protection Team,” High Frequency Trading, and other market manipulations.

Conclusion

“A man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest.” Simon & Garfunkel

If the government needs money for excessive expenditures, it sees loans and a central bank that “prints money” and disregards the inevitable inflation.

If a bank sees huge unrealized losses on mortgages, derivatives, and mortgage-backed securities, it sees bailouts from the Federal Reserve along with lobbyists purchasing favorable legislation and disregards the economic cost to the nation.

If an aware individual sees unbacked paper money being printed in quantity, he buys physical assets such as gold and silver and disregards the continual media noise and nonsense.

Avoid the madness of men, and seek the safety and sanity of gold and silver. We have been warned.

GE Christenson
aka Deviant Investor

Why The $1 Trillion Platinum Coin Idea Won’t Work

With the United States rapidly approaching the debt ceiling limit, a dysfunctional and divided Congress appears unable to agree on either spending cuts or an increase in the debt ceiling.  Absent some grand Congressional compromise, America’s nonstop trillion dollar deficit spending will rapidly push the nation to the brink of default before the end of next month.

Although the idea of default seems like a low probability to many people, if such an event were to occur, the result could be disastrous to both the markets and the economy.  Americans have always been able to come up with ingenious solutions before falling off the precipice and this time is no different.  The idea of minting a $1 trillion dollar face value platinum coin to cover our spending needs has quickly garnered national attention.

Predictably, opinions vary greatly as to the legality and efficacy of using a coin worth about $1,700 to fund a trillion dollars worth of spending.  The trillion dollar coin idea, ridiculed as irresponsible by some, is seen by others as a legitimate manner in which to resolve our deficit crisis.  For fiscal conservatives, the mere thought of proclaiming a common coin to have a trillion dollar value in order to remain solvent, is a wretched sign of how incredibly tenuous the financial condition of the United States has become.

In no particular order, here are some of the arguments regarding the trillion dollar coin.

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) announced that he would introduce a bill to stop the proposal to mint high-value platinum coins to pay the federal government’s bills.   Rep. Walden said, “Some people are in denial about the need to reduce spending and balance the budget. This scheme to mint trillion dollar platinum coins is absurd and dangerous, and would be laughable if the proponents weren’t so serious about it as a solution. I’m introducing a bill to stop it in its tracks.”

A Washington Research Group analyst said, “The President could assert that that 14th amendment negates the requirement for Congress to raise the debt ceiling.  Or Treasury could mint a $1 trillion platinum coin and deposit it at the Federal Reserve.  Neither are great options.  We see chaos if the market has to confront Treasuries where the debt is backed by Congress and those where it is not backed by Congress.  For banks, this might be as bad as an actual default. The economic uncertainty could cause lending to grind to a halt, the disruptions could cause unemployment to spike which means higher loan losses, and interest rates could skyrocket as the market is unsure whether one of these creative solutions is even legal.”

According to Bloomberg:

In general, the Treasury Department is not allowed to just print money if it feels like it. It must defer to the Federal Reserve’s control of the money supply. But there is an exception: Platinum coins may be struck with whatever specifications the Treasury secretary sees fit, including denomination.

This law was intended to allow the production of commemorative coins for collectors. But it can also be used to create large-denomination coins that Treasury can deposit with the Fed to finance payment of the government’s bills, in lieu of issuing debt.

What the law should say is that the executive branch may borrow to pay whatever obligations the federal government has, but may not print. Unfortunately, when we hit the debt ceiling, the situation will be backwards: The administration will not be allowed to borrow, but it can print in unlimited quantities.

Economist Paul Krugman, who believes that the United States effectively has no limit on its spending ability, thinks using a $1 trillion dollar coin would solve our debt limit crisis.

Should President Obama be willing to print a $1 trillion platinum coin if Republicans try to force America into default? Yes, absolutely. He will, after all, be faced with a choice between two alternatives: one that’s silly but benign, the other that’s equally silly but both vile and disastrous. The decision should be obvious.

Enter the platinum coin. There’s a legal loophole allowing the Treasury to mint platinum coins in any denomination the secretary chooses. Yes, it was intended to allow commemorative collector’s items — but that’s not what the letter of the law says. And by minting a $1 trillion coin, then depositing it at the Fed, the Treasury could acquire enough cash to sidestep the debt ceiling — while doing no economic harm at all.

The American Enterprise Institute explains how the platinum coin concept would work:

There are limits on how much paper money the U.S. can circulate and rules that govern coinage on gold, silver, and copper.  BUT, the Treasury has broad discretion on coins made from platinum.  The theory goes that the U.S. Mint would create a handful of trillion dollar (or more) platinum coins.  The President would then order the coins deposited at the Fed, who would then put the coin(s) in the Treasury who now can pay all their bills and a default is removed from the equation.  The effects on the currency market and inflation are unclear, to say the least.

According to CNN:

Normally, the Federal Reserve is charged with issuing currency. But U.S. law, specifically 31 USC § 5112, also grants Treasury permission to “mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins.”

This section of law was meant to allow for the printing of commemorative coins and the like. But the Treasury Secretary has the authority to mint these coins in any denomination he or she sees fit.

Why The $1 Trillion Platinum Coin Idea Won’t Work

The genesis of the trillion dollar platinum coin scheme derives from the law (Title 31, Section 5112, (31 U.S.C. § 5112(k)) passed by Congress under their constitutional power to coin money and regulate the value thereof.  This particular law was passed to give the U.S. Mint the authority to produce the American Eagle Platinum Bullion and Proof coins, without restriction to the American Eagle products program.

The Secretary may mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins in accordance with such specifications, designs, varieties, quantities, denominations, and inscriptions as the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, may prescribe from time to time.

As argued in some of the commentary above, it seems clear that the law would allow the Secretary to authorize the U.S. Mint to produce a platinum of any stated denomination, including one trillion dollars.

The Federal Reserve would receive a coin on which would yield a profit of $1 trillion dollars based on the concept of seigniorage, which is the difference between the cost to produce the coin and the “face value” of the money stamped on it by the U.S. Mint.  However, under the rules of both the American Eagle program and other commemorative programs, the coin does not become “legal tender” until the U.S. Mint is paid for the coin with other legal tender or an appropriately valued amount of bullion.  Until the U.S. Mint was paid, the Federal Reserve would possess a rather beautiful coin worth only about $1,700, representing the intrinsic value of the platinum contained therein.

In the recent case of the government confiscation of 1933 Saint-Gauden Double Eagle gold coins from the heirs of Israel Swift, the court ruling confirmed the validity of the legal tender concept.  In the court ruling, Judge Davis cites precedents, including the government’s original case against Israel Swift in 1934, and confirmed that until a U.S. Mint coin is bought and paid for, the coin is not considered to be legal tender.  The concept of a coin not becoming legal tender until it was paid for was further confirmed in the sale of the Fenton-Farouk 1933 Double Eagle gold coin.  When the Double Eagle was sold on July 30, 2002, for $7.6 million, an additional $20 was required to be paid to “monetize” the face value of the coin in order for it to become legal currency.

Exactly how would the U.S. Mint be paid in order for the $1 trillion coin to become official legal tender?  If the Federal Reserve accepts the trillion dollar coin from the U.S. Mint, they would incur a $1 trillion liability to the U.S. Mint.  To offset the liability to the U.S. Mint, the U.S. Treasury would have sell $1 trillion in bonds which can’t legally be done due to the limits placed on its borrowing capacity by the debt ceiling limit.  The idea of a $1 trillion platinum coin becomes a fatally flawed solution that solves nothing.

So why can’t the Federal Reserve simply “print money” to pay for the $1 trillion coin?  As explained by Paul Krugman, the Fed does not legally have the power to print money, with one rather dubious exception.

First, as a legal matter the Federal government can’t just print money to pay its bills, with one peculiar exception. Instead, money has to be created by the Federal Reserve, which then puts it into circulation by buying Federal debt. You may say that this is an artificial distinction, because the Fed is effectively part of the government; but legally, the distinction matters, and the debt bought by the Fed counts against the debt ceiling.

Furthermore, Krugman admits that the platinum coin idea is a “gimmick” since the coin would effectively have the same value as other outstanding Treasury debt and the Treasury would have to eventually buy the coin back with additional borrowings.  Somewhat surprisingly, Krugman also concedes that despite the fact that much of the government’s current spending is financed by the Fed’s money printing, we cannot ignore the ultimate consequences of huge holdings of Treasury debt held by the Fed.

It’s true that printing money isn’t at all inflationary under current conditions — that is, with the economy depressed and interest rates up against the zero lower bound. But eventually these conditions will end. At that point, to prevent a sharp rise in inflation the Fed will want to pull back much of the monetary base it created in response to the crisis, which means selling off the Federal debt it bought. So even though right now that debt is just a claim by one more or less governmental agency on another governmental agency, it will eventually turn into debt held by the public.

The entire concept of the United States funding itself with a manufactured $1 trillion dollar coin of nominal intrinsic value is fraught with danger since it highlights the extent to which we are willing to debase the value of the U.S. dollar to continue massive deficit spending – at some point our creditors will begin to take notice.  Think of Japan and China who each hold more than $1 trillion in U.S. Treasury debt securities.

Aside from the fact that the minting of a $1 trillion dollar coin is probably legal, it is not a workable solution since the coin would be of no value until it was paid for as explained above.  As discussed in Bloomberg, instead of pursuing dubious policies that will ultimately alarm the nation’s creditors, the challenge of compromising on the debt ceiling should be viewed as an opportunity for Congress to take responsibility for the nation’s future fiscal policies.

Watch what he did, not what he says. President Barack Obama says he won’t agree to spending cuts in return for Republicans’ raising the debt ceiling. Yet he did exactly that in 2011. And he should do it again.

The debt ceiling ought to be raised because nobody has a plan to eliminate the deficit immediately, and there is no popular support for doing what that would take. A congressman who isn’t presenting and supporting a zero-deficit-now plan has an obligation to give the federal government the additional borrowing authority that continued deficits make necessary.

For liberals, that’s the end of the matter. The debt ceiling should be raised without any spending cuts attached, and ideally it should be raised to infinity. One common argument goes like this: Since Congress sets spending and tax levels, no good purpose is served by holding a separate vote making it possible for the government to follow Congress’s original instructions.

That argument would have more force if the federal budget were the result of a deliberate policy. Instead, more and more of our spending rises on autopilot because of decisions made long ago, and nobody is forced to take responsibility for the gap between revenue and commitments. Bills to raise the debt ceiling are the only occasions when congressmen and the president come close to doing so. They are thus appropriate moments to attack the trends that are driving our rising debt.

More On This Topic – “Creating Money Out of Thin Air”

Former U.S. Mint Director: The $1 Trillion Platinum Coin Ain’t Worth a Plugged Nickel

The $1 trillion platinum coin is a desperate gimmick of questionable legality and doesn’t even come close to solving our fiscal problems.

First, it may be legal to mint a platinum bullion coin with a $1 trillion face value, but it’s not legal to pass it off as actually worth $1 trillion if there isn’t $1 trillion of platinum in it. That’s because it’s a bullion coin and not a legal circulating coin. The face value of a bullion coin has no relationship with the metal content because the value is in the metal, whose price fluctuates daily.

Second, for a coin to be worth its face value, it has to be made as a circulating coin.

The Fed would pay the Mint face value for the coin. After deducting the cost of the coin, the Mint would return the balance to the Treasury. All this needs to be done before we run out of money. Good luck with that.

Third, the current law does allow the Mint to make a platinum proof coin and does not specify whether this applies to a bullion coin or a circulating coin. A proof coin refers to a mirror-like finish and is made for coin collectors. However, a proof coin must be accepted at face value. Some have argued that the law can be stretched to allow for a platinum circulating coin, but this would not be consistent with the intent of the original legislation.

But let’s ignore the law for a moment. Let’s assume that a $1 trillion circulating coin could be created. It would be no different than creating money out of thin air.

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Gold Will Benefit From The Coming Currency Turmoil

By:  Axel Merk, Merk Investments

Sidetracked by the discussion over the “fiscal cliff” and possibly a New Year’s hangover, it’s time to face 2013 in earnest. Is the yen doomed? Will the euro shine? What about Asian and emerging market currencies? Will gold continue its ascent? And the greenback, will it be in the red?

Before we look too far forward, let’s get some context:

  • “Central banks hope for the best, but plan for the worst” was our theme a year ago. With everyone afraid of the fallout from the Eurozone, printing presses in major markets were working overtime. We argued this would benefit currencies of smaller countries – be that the so-called commodity currencies or select Asian currencies – that feel less of a need to “take out insurance.”
  • While we were positive on the euro when it approached 1.18 versus the U.S. dollar in 2010, arguing the challenges are serious, but ought to be primarily expressed in the spreads of the Eurozone bond market. Then in the fall of 2011, we grew increasingly cautious because of the lack of process: just as it is difficult to value a company if one doesn’t know what management is up to, it’s difficult to value a currency if policy makers have no plan. In the spring of 2012, when we were most negative about the euro, we lamented the lack of process in a Financial Times column. European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi appeared to agree with our concerns, imploring policy makers to define processes, set deadlines, hold people accountable. After his “do whatever it takes” speech in July 2012, he took it upon himself to impose a process on European policy makers in early August 1. We published a piece “Draghi’s genius” where we called for a bottom in the euro. We were inundated with negative feedback in the immediate aftermath of our analysis from professional and retail investors alike, confirming that were not following the herd, nor buying something that’s too expensive.
  • While we liked commodity currencies in the first half of the year because of printing presses in larger economies working overtime, we grew a little cautious as the year moved on, partly because of valuations. Each commodity currency has its own set of dynamics, as well as their own Achilles heel: in the case of the Australian dollar, we had some concerns about its two tier domestic economy (not all of Australia was benefiting from the commodity boom), but also about the perceived slowdown in China.
  • We studied the Chinese leadership transition with great interest; while 2012 may have been a year in transition, more on the dynamics as we see them play out below.
  • Back in the U.S., we squandered another year to get the house in order. The fiscal cliff was a distraction; we need entitlement reform to make deficits sustainable. Europeans have no patent on kicking the can down the road. But unlike Europe, the U.S. has a current account deficit, making it more vulnerable should investors demand more compensation to finance U.S. deficits (that is, higher interest rates).
  • Japan: the more dysfunctional the Japanese government has been, the less it could spend, the less pressure it could exert on the Bank of Japan. Add to that a current account surplus, and all this “bad news” was good news for the yen. Countries with a current account surplus don’t need inflows from abroad to finance government deficits; as a result, the absence of economic growth that keeps foreign investors away is of no detriment to the currency. Conversely, countries with current account deficits tend to pursue policies fostering economic growth to attract capital from abroad. However, in late 2012, we published a piece “Is the Yen Doomed?” What happened? Japan was about to have a strong government. More in the outlook below.

We believe the currency markets are well suited for decision-making based on macro-analysis. Just as throughout 2012 the themes were evolving, please keep in mind that our 2013 outlook may be outdated the moment it is published, as we update our views based on new information or a new analysis of old information. Still, those who have followed us over the years are well aware that we like to shift our views within a framework. Please consider our 2013 outlook in this context:

  • We believe the yen is indeed doomed. We remove the question mark. Prime Minister Abe’s new government sets the stage, but key to watch are:
    • Abe’s government will appoint the three top positions at the Bank of Japan, as the governor and both deputy governors retire. Recent appointees have already been more dovish. Japanese culture is said to prefer talk over action, but the time for dovish talk may finally be over (despite their dovish reputation, the Bank of Japan barely expanded its balance sheet since 2008; in many ways, of the major central banks, only the Reserve Bank of Australia has been more hawkish).
    • Japan’s current account is sliding towards a deficit. That means, deficits will start to matter, eventually pushing up the cost of borrowing, making a 200%+ debt-to-GDP ratio unsustainable.
    • Abe’s government is as determined as it is blind. Abe believes a major spending program is just what Japan needs. As far as the yen is concerned, Abe may be getting far more than he is bargaining for.
    • But isn’t everyone negative on the yen already? Historically, it’s been most painful to short the yen; as such, many have not walked their talk. We expect some fierce rallies in the yen throughout the year. Having said that, the yen looks a lot like Nasdaq in 2000 to us. Not as far as technicals are concerned, but as far as the potential to fall without much reprieve.
  • The euro may be the rock star of 2013. Boring is beautiful. Sure, there are plenty of problems, but the euro is morphing into yet another currency, but is still priced as if it had a contagious disease. While the Fed, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan are all likely to engage in further balance sheet expansion (we refer to it as “printing money” as assets are purchased by central banks, paid for by entries on computer keyboards, creating money out of thin air), there’s a chance the ECB balance sheet may actually shrink. That’s because some banks have indicated they will pay back early part of the €1 trillion in 3-year loans taken from the ECB. Some suggest the ECB might print a boatload of money should the “Outright Monetary Transaction” (OMT) program be activated to buy the debt of peripheral Eurozone countries. Keep in mind that the OMT program would be sterilized, likely by offering interest on deposits at the ECB. As such, the OMT would lower spreads in the Eurozone and, through that, act as a massive stimulus. In our assessment, however, such a stimulus is far less inflationary than central bank action in other regions. It’s no longer a taboo to be positive on the euro, but most we talk to are at best “closet bulls.”
  • The British pound sterling. The Brits are getting a new governor at the Bank of England (BoE) in the summer, the current head of the Bank of Canada (BoC), Carney. One of the first speeches Carney gave after his appointment was made public was about nominal GDP targeting. Carney will have a chance to replace many of the current BoE board members. That’s the good news, as the old men’s club is in need of a makeover. The not-so-good news is for the sterling. British 10 year borrowing costs have just crossed above those of France. We’ll monitor this closely.
  • As the head of the BoC, Carney was particularly apt at talking down the Loonie, the Canadian dollar, whenever it appeared to strengthen. If Macklem, his current deputy, is appointed, we may get a real hawk at the helm of the BoC. We are positive on the Loonie heading into 2013, but will monitor developments closely, as there are economic cross-currents that, for now, Canada appears to be handling very well.
  • Staying with commodity currencies, we are cautiously optimistic on the Australian dollar (China better than expected; monetary policy more hawkish than priced in) and New Zealand dollar (more hawkish monetary policy on better than expected growth). We continue to stay away from the Brazilean real and leave it for masochistic speculators looking for excitement.
  • We are positive on Norway’s currency (joining the above mentioned rock star, with greater volatility), yet cautious on Sweden’s (priced to perfection is not ideal when things are not perfect, even in Sweden).
  • China: the new leadership has indicated that liquidity for the Chinese yuan may be their top currency priority. That’s great news, as we believe it implies policies that attract investment, not just from the outside, but also with regard to a development of a more vibrant domestic fixed income market. We are more positive on China than many; more on that, in an upcoming newsletter (click to sign up to receive Merk Insights)
  • Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan: all positive, benefiting from both internal forces, but also beneficiaries of actions in other large economies. If we have to pick a favorite today, it would be Korea, but keep in mind that the Korean won is the most volatile of these currencies.
  • Singapore: we continue to like the Singapore dollar. A year ago, we started using it as a substitute for the euro (rather than using the U.S. dollar as the safe haven currency). The currency may well lag the euro’s rise, but the lower risk profile of the currency makes it a potentially valuable component in a diversified basket of currencies.
  • Gold. We expect the volatility in gold to be elevated in 2013, but consider it good news, as it keeps the momentum players at bay. We own gold not for the crisis of 2008, not for the potential contagion from Europe, but because there is too much debt in the world. We think inflation is likely a key component of how developed countries will try to deal with their massive debt burdens, even as cultural differences will make dynamics play out rather differently in different countries. Please see merkinvestments.com/gold for more in-depth discussion on our outlook on gold.

And what about the U.S. dollar? While much of the discussion above is relative to the U.S dollar, the greenback itself warrants its own analysis:

  • Investors in the U.S. should fear growth. The spring of 2012 saw the bond market sell off rather sharply as a couple of economic indicators in a row came out positively. Bernanke wants to keep the cost of borrowing low, but can only control the yield curve so much. That’s why, in our assessment, he is emphasizing employment rather than inflation, in an effort to prevent a major sell-off in the bond market before the recovery is firmly established. Growth is dollar negative because the bond market would turn into a bear market: foreigners’ love for U.S. Treasuries might wane, just as it historically often does during early and mid-phases of an economic upturn as the bond market is in a bear market.
  • Good luck to Bernanke to raising rates in 15 minutes, as he promised he could do in a 60 Minutes interview. Sure he can, but because there’s so much leverage in the economy, any tightening would have an amplified effect. At best, we might get a rather volatile monetary policy. But we are promised by the Fed that this is not a concern for 2013.
  • Both of these, however, suggest volatility will rise in the bond market. Remember what got the housing bubble to burst? An uptick in volatility. That’s because leveraged players, momentum players run for the hills when volatility picks up. And a lot of money has chased Treasuries, praised as the best investment for over two decades. We don’t need foreigners to sell their U.S. bonds for there to be a rude awakening in the bond market; we merely need a return to historic levels of volatility. Why is this relevant to a dollar discussion? Because a bond market selloff makes it more expensive for the U.S. to finance its deficits. Please see our recent analysis of the risks posed to the dollar by a bond market selloff for a more in-depth discussion on this topic.

Axel Merk is President and Chief Investment Officer, Merk Investments. Merk Investments, Manager of the Merk Funds.

THE ONGOING COLLAPSE IN THE PURCHASING POWER OF THE DOLLAR IS IRREVERSIBLE – TEN STEPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF

By GE Christenson

  • Our financial system, as it currently operates, is unsustainable. Unproductive debt cannot exponentially increase forever. I assume this is obvious to almost everyone. Jim Sinclair says, “The financial system is simply FUBAR. It is that simple. The reason to own all things gold is that simple.” FUBAR has several meanings, but my interpretation of FUBAR is: “Fiscally Unbalanced Beyond Any Reconciliation.”
  • The U.S. government deficits are, on average, larger every year. This means that the total (official) national debt is not only increasing each year but also that the rate of increase is accelerating. Since 10/1/2000 the national debt has increased about 9.1% per year, but since 10/1/2007 it has increased 12.2% per year. Worse, this is only the official debt and does not even consider the net present value of unfunded Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and government employee pensions and liabilities. Depending on who is calculating the liabilities, the total unfunded liability is approximately $100 Trillion to $230 Trillion and the annual increase is perhaps $7 – $11 Trillion. (The entire U.S. GDP is about $15 Trillion per year – for comparison.) This will not end well.
  • In essence, the above two facts are incompatible – hence an economic train wreck is in process. What could happen? Follow the logic here.
  • When there is too much of something, it loses value. If we have too many eggs, the price drops. If too many autos are for sale, there will be lower prices for autos. Central banks around the world are currently producing amazing quantities of dollars, euros, yen, and most other unbacked paper currencies. Hence, their value will decrease against the commodities we need for survival – food, energy, and so forth.
  • There is too much debt in our financial system, whether measured in nominal value or as a percentage of GDP. Hence the value of that debt will decline. Some debts will default, bonds will decline in value as interest rates inevitably rise, and other debt will drop in value and purchasing power.
  • Politicians have made excessive guarantees for future benefits to Social Security recipients, Medicare recipients, government pensions, and others. Those guarantees cannot all be delivered as promised, hence they will decline in value and purchasing power, or the promises will not be fulfilled.

Why are the following ten steps necessary?

  1. The best time to start preparing was about a decade ago. The second best time is today. Make a plan and act. Start by reducing living expenses and eliminating credit card debt.
  2. Expect sweeping changes! I hope the inevitable currency collapse is slow and gentle, not rapid and destructive, but history suggests rapid and painful are more likely.
  3. Phase out of paper assets and into something real. Gold, silver, diamonds, farm land, rental property, and buildings come to mind.
  4. Perspective – Perspective – Perspective! It is better to be early than late. It is better to trust yourself than to depend upon a government agency for your food and shelter. To whatever extent you can, take charge of your own financial affairs, savings, and retirement.
  5. Plan on huge inflation in consumer prices for food, energy, transportation, medical costs, and more.
  6. The middle class will be hurt the most. Those who plan and prepare will, as always, survive and prosper. Make a plan!
  7. Government control over the economy will increase. Surveillance on individuals will increase; there will be much less personal and financial privacy. Act accordingly!
  8. Social change will follow a currency collapse. It might be violent. The government is preparing in many ways for social violence. Are you?
  9. Currency induced cost-push inflation appears inevitable. When? As a guess, well before 2016. Gasoline costing $8.99 or more per gallon is a distinct possibility. Don’t discount this just because it sounds extreme. It might be a low estimate.
  10. Economic manipulations, mal-investments, and unsustainable policies will self-correct. Plan on corrections and adjustments that will bring painful consequences. The bigger the bubble, the more catastrophic the collapse and the larger the collateral damage. The sovereign debt and paper money bubbles appear VERY large and ready to pop.

Summary

Unproductive government debt cannot increase forever, but our financial system currently depends upon ever increasing expenditures and debt. There are far too many dollars in circulation, more debt than can be repaid, and massive unfunded liabilities have been created by the promises made by politicians. The purchasing power of the dollar must decline, many debts will not be repaid, and many promises for future benefits will be reduced in value or will simply disappear. Hence, the FUTURE income stream from debt-based assets is increasingly risky. A few to consider are:

  • Social Security benefits. The government must borrow or print to pay current benefits. The value (purchasing power) of future benefits will almost certainly decline.
  • Municipal and state bonds and pension promises are increasingly risky. Will more cities and states default on their bonds? Why are their pension plans, on average, increasingly underfunded? Will your pension plan remain safe? Consider moving your IRA into physical gold and silver safely stored outside the banking system.
  • US government 30 year bonds and 10 year notes will decline in price as interest rates rise, and will also decline in purchasing power as the dollar devalues. Why would you lend money (long-term) to an insolvent government at less than 3% interest per year when that government has assured you it will debase the currency and reduce the value of the debt you bought? Is this a financial train wreck in process?
  • Mutual funds and money markets based on bonds and other debt are at risk. If the underlying debt defaults, the value of the mutual funds and money markets will decline. Counter-party risk is real.

Why is debt based future income increasingly risky? The payoff will be delayed, defaulted or executed in mini-dollars after inflation and counter-party defaults have ravaged the purchasing power of those paper debts. We have Been Warned!

Would you prefer hard assets with no counter-party risk? Reread the Ten Steps To Safety, and then take charge of your financial life to whatever extent you can.

GE Christenson
aka Deviant Investor

The Fed Is Confiscating The Wealth Of The Middle Class By Destroying The Value Of The Dollar

Americans need to take a serious look at how the purchasing power of the dollar is being destroyed.  Rampant poverty, declining real incomes and higher prices are all the guaranteed results of a Federal Reserve that remains committed to destroying the value of the dollar.   A dollar saved today that has less purchasing power a year from now equates to the “silent” destruction of the dollar, an event which has gone virtually unnoticed and unprotested by the American public.

Act #4 of the Fed’s endless money printing campaign directly monetizes over a half a trillion dollars of U.S. deficit spending annually.  In addition to financing the Federal debt with printed dollars, the Fed has also explicitly endorsed  an inflation rate of 2.5% as being “acceptable.”

Impact Of 2.5% Inflation

Even a relatively “benign” inflation rate of 2.5% rapidly erodes the purchasing power of savings. Over a short 5 years, the purchasing power of $100,000 in savings is reduced to $88,110 at an inflation rate of 2.5%.  At a 5% inflation rate, the value after 5 years is only $77,378.  We don’t even want to look at how much purchasing power would be lost over a decade.

Both consumers and especially savers need to become aware of the wealth depletion caused by purchasing power loss.  From my experience, most people find it conceptually difficult to see a real loss (in purchasing power) when there has been no change in the principal amount of savings.  As John Maynard Keynes wrote in 1920, “By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.  By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some.  And not one man in a million will detect the theft.”

Incredibly, the desperate attempts of central banks to prop up the over-indebted financial system via inflation and money printing is viewed as beneficial by some misguided economists.  Japan’s decision to go all in with “unlimited quantitative easing” was applauded in a recent Slate commentary.

That’s because Shinzo Abe, the overwhelming favorite to lead the Liberal Democratic Party to victory, is running on a bold platform of unlimited quantitative easing and more inflation. If this works—and the odds are that it will—Abe will not only cure a great deal of what ails Japan, he’ll light a path forward for the rest of the developed world.

But if he (Abe) does manage to stick to his guns, the odds are good that it will work. Monetary expansion should reduce the price of the yen and goose exports. More importantly, it will push domestic real interest rates down and spur investment. Creating firm expectations that yen-denominated prices will be higher in the future than they are today should encourage firms and households alike to acquire real goods sooner rather than later. And all this ought to encourage everyone to be investing and spending more.

Bernanke said Japan’s central bankers needed Rooseveltian resolve, but the moral of the story may be that it takes a politician—a Roosevelt—to have the clout and legitimacy to make central banks act decisively when an economy gets firmly mired at the lower bound. If Abe can be that Roosevelt, he’ll not only be a hero of Japan but possibly of the whole world economy. After all, if America’s old advice to Japan turns out to work in practice as well as in theory, then maybe we’ll finally get around to taking our own advice for ourselves.

Does anyone think that Japan’s temporary benefit of a lower currency will not be met with competitive devaluations by other nations?  Exactly how will Japanese consumers be able to spend more if prices increase and wages remain stagnant due to the limiting effects of wage globalization?  The Slate author firmly espouses the lunacy of currency debasement as a wealth enabler despite the fact that no nation in history has ever printed its way to prosperity.

The fact that central banks have firmly committed themselves to money printing on an unimaginable scale is not a cause for hope but rather a clear signal of desperation.  Policy makers have run out of options and in an attempt to forestall the collapse of the financial system, have turned to the last resort option of unlimited money printing.