The Beginning Of The End
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Quantitative Easing Worked For The Weimar Republic For A Little While Too

Wheelbarrow of MoneyThere is a reason why every fiat currency in the history of the world has eventually failed.  At some point, those issuing fiat currencies always find themselves giving in to the temptation to wildly print more money.  Sometimes, the motivation for doing this is good.  When an economy is really struggling, those that have been entrusted with the management of that economy can easily fall for the lie that things would be better if people just had “more money”.  Today, the Federal Reserve finds itself faced with a scenario that is very similar to what the Weimar Republic was facing nearly 100 years ago.  Like the Weimar Republic, the U.S. economy is also struggling and like the Weimar Republic, the U.S. government is absolutely drowning in debt.  Unfortunately, the Federal Reserve has decided to adopt the same solution that the Weimar Republic chose.  The Federal Reserve is recklessly printing money out of thin air, and in the short-term some positive things have come out of it.  But quantitative easing worked for the Weimar Republic for a little while too.  At first, more money caused economic activity to increase and unemployment was low.  But all of that money printing destroyed faith in German currency and in the German financial system and ultimately Germany experienced an economic meltdown that the world is still talking about today.  This is the path that the Federal Reserve is taking America down, but most Americans have absolutely no idea what is happening.

It is really easy to start printing money, but it is incredibly hard to stop.  Like any addict, the Fed is promising that they can quit at any time, but this month they refused to even start tapering their money printing a little bit.  The behavior of the Fed is so shameful that even CNBC is comparing it to a drug addict at this point…

The danger with addictions is they tend to become increasingly compulsive. That might be one moral of this week’s events.

A few days ago, expectations were sky-high that the Federal Reserve was about to reduce its current $85 billion monthly bond purchases. But then the Fed blinked, partly because it is worried that markets have already over-reacted to the mere thought of a policy shift.

Faced with a choice of curbing the addiction or providing more hits of the QE drug, in other words, it chose the latter.

So why won’t the Fed cut back on the reckless money printing?

Well, as Peter Schiff recently noted, Fed officials seem to be convinced that any “tapering” could result in the bursting of the massive financial bubbles that they have created…

The Fed understands, as the market seems not to, that the current “recovery” could not survive without continuation of massive monetary stimulus. Mainstream economists have mistaken the symptoms of the Fed’s monetary expansion, most notably rising stock and real estate prices, as signs of real and sustainable growth. But the current asset price bubbles have nothing to do with the real economy. To the contrary, they are setting up for a painful correction that will likely be worse than the one we experienced five years ago.

As I have written about previously, the Federal Reserve is usually very careful not to do anything which will hurt the short-term interests of the financial markets and the big banks.

But at this point the Fed is caught in a trap.  If it continues to pump, the financial bubbles that it has created will get even worse.  If it stops, those bubbles will burst.  But as Doug Kass noted recently, it is inevitable that these financial bubbles will burst at some point one way or another…

“Getting in was easy. Getting out—not so much. The Fed is trapped and can’t end tapering or else the bond and stock markets will blow up. The longer this continues the bigger the inevitable burst.”

In essence, we can have disaster now or disaster later.

But most Americans don’t care much about what is happening on Wall Street.  They just want economic conditions to get better for them and for those around them.  And to this day, the mainstream media continues to sell quantitative easing to the American people as an “economic stimulus” program by the Federal Reserve.

So has quantitative easing actually been good for the U.S. economy?

Not really.

For example, while the Fed has been recklessly printing money out of thin air, household incomes have actually been going down for five years in a row

Real Median Household Income

What about employment?

Don’t more Americans have jobs now?

Actually, that is not the case at all.  Posted below is a chart that shows how the percentage of working age Americans with a job has changed since the year 2000.  As you can see, the employment to population ratio fell from about 63 percent before the last recession down to underneath 59 percent at the end of 2009 and it has stayed there ever since

Employment-Population Ratio 2013

So where is the “employment recovery”?

Can you point it out to me?  Because I have been staring at this chart for a long time and I still can’t find it.

So if quantitative easing has not been good for average Americans, who has it been good for?

The wealthy, of course.

Just check out what billionaire hedge fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller told CNBC about quantitative easing the other day…

This is fantastic for every rich person,” he said Thursday, a day after the Fed’s stunning decision to delay tightening its monetary policy. “This is the biggest redistribution of wealth from the middle class and the poor to the rich ever.

“Who owns assets—the rich, the billionaires. You think Warren Buffett hates this stuff? You think I hate this stuff? I had a very good day yesterday.”

Druckenmiller, whose net worth is estimated at more than $2 billion, said that the implication of the Fed’s policy is that the rich will spend their wealth and create jobs—essentially betting on “trickle-down economics.”

“I mean, maybe this trickle-down monetary policy that gives money to billionaires and hopefully we go spend it is going to work,” he said. “But it hasn’t worked for five years.”

Sadly, Druckenmiller is exactly correct.

Since the end of the last recession, the Dow has been on an unprecedented tear…

Dow Jones Industrial Average

Of course these stock prices have nothing to do with economic reality at this point, but for the moment those that are making giant piles of cash on Wall Street don’t really care.

Sadly, what very few people seem to understand is that what the Fed is doing is going to absolutely destroy confidence in our currency and in our financial system in the long-term.  Yeah, many investors have been raking in huge gobs of cash right now, but in the long run this is going to be bad for everybody.

We have now entered a money printing spiral from which there is no easy exit.  According to Graham Summers, the Fed has “crossed the Rubicon” and we are now “in the End Game”…

If tapering even $10-15 billion per month from $85 billion month QE programs would damage the economy, then we’re all up you know what creek without a paddle.

Put it this way… here we are, five years after 2008, and the Fed is stating point blank that the economy would absolutely collapse if it spent any less than $85 billion per month. This admission has proven just how long ago we crossed the Rubicon. We’re already in the End Game. Period.

Most Americans don’t really understand what quantitative easing is, and most don’t really try to understand it because “quantitative easing” sounds very complicated.

But it really isn’t that complicated.

The Federal Reserve is creating gigantic mountains of money out of thin air every month, and the Fed is using all of that newly created money to buy government debt and mortgage-backed securities.  Over the past several years, the value of the financial securities that the Fed has accumulated is greater than the total amount of publicly held debt that the U.S. government accumulated from the presidency of George Washington though the end of the presidency of Bill Clinton

The same day that the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee announced last week that the Fed would continue to buy $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and $45 billion in U.S. Treasury securities per month, the Fed also released its latest weekly accounting sheet indicating that it had already accumulated more Treasuries and MBS than the total value of the publicly held U.S. government debt amassed by all U.S. presidents from George Washington though Bill Clinton.

To say that this is a desperate move by the Fed would be a massive understatement.  We have never seen anything like this before in U.S. history.

And look at what all of this wild money printing has done to our money supply…

M1 Money Supply

In many ways, the chart above is reminiscent of what the Weimar Republic did during the early years of their hyperinflationary spiral…

Hyperinflation Weimar Republic

Just like the Weimar Republic, our money supply is beginning to grow at an exponential pace.

So far, complete and total disaster has not struck, so most people think that everything must be okay.

But it is not.

In a previous article, I included an outstanding illustration from Simon Black that I think would be extremely helpful here as well…

Let’s say you’re at a party in a small apartment that’s about 500 square feet in size. Then suddenly, at 11pm, a pipe bursts, starting a trickle into the living room.

Aside from the petty annoyance, would you feel like you were in danger? Probably not. This is a linear problem– the rate at which the water is leaking is more or less constant, so the guests can keep partying through the night without worry.

But let’s assume that it’s an exponential leak.

At first, there’s just one drop of water. But each minute, the rate doubles. So by 11:01pm, there’s 2 drops. By 11:02, 4 drops. And so forth.

By 11:27pm, there’s only six inches of standing water. Yet by 11:31pm, just four minutes later, the entire room is under nearly 8 feet of water. And the party’s over.

For nearly half an hour, it all seemed safe and manageable. People had all the time in the world to leave, right up until the bitter end. 11:27, 11:28, 11:29. Then it all went from benign to deadly in a matter of minutes.

Are you starting to get the picture?

What the Federal Reserve is doing is systematically destroying the U.S. dollar, and the rest of the world is starting to take notice.

Why should they continue to lend us trillions of dollars at super low interest rates when we are exploding the size of our money supply?

It is simply not rational for other nations to continue to lend us money at less than 3 percent a year when the real rate of inflation is somewhere around 8 to 10 percent and reckless money printing by the Fed threatens to greatly accelerate the devaluation of our currency.

When QE first started, the added demand for U.S. government debt by the Federal Reserve helped drive long-term interest rates down to record low levels.

But in the long-term, the only rational response by all other buyers of U.S. government debt will be to demand a much higher rate of return because of the rapid devaluation of U.S. currency.

So QE drives down long-term interest rates in the short-term, but in the long-term the only rational direction for long-term interest rates to go is much, much higher and in recent months we have already started to see this.

The only way that the Fed can stop this is by increasing the amount of quantitative easing.

Right now, the Fed is buying roughly half a trillion dollars worth of U.S. Treasuries a year, but the U.S. government issues close to a trillion dollars of new debt and must roll over about 3 trillion dollars of existing debt each year.

If the Federal Reserve eventually decides to buy all of the debt, then interest rates won’t be a major problem.  But if the Fed goes that far our financial system would be regarded as a total joke by the remainder of the globe and we would reach hyperinflation much more rapidly.

If the Federal Reserve stops buying debt completely, the financial bubbles that they have created will burst and we will rapidly be facing a financial crisis even worse than what we experienced back in 2008.

But almost whatever the Fed does at this point, the rest of the world will probably continue to start to move away from the U.S. dollar as the de facto reserve currency of the planet.  This move is just beginning, but it is going to have major implications for us in the years ahead.  This is a topic that I will be addressing extensively in future articles.

Most of the debate about quantitative easing has focused on the impact that it will have on the U.S. economy in the short-term.

That is a huge mistake.

Of much greatest importance is what quantitative easing means for the long-term.

The rest of the world is losing confidence in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. debt because of the reckless money printing that the Fed has been doing.

But we desperately need the rest of the world to use “the petrodollar” and to lend us the money that we need to pay our bills.

As the rest of the planet starts to reject the U.S. dollar and starts to demand a much higher rate of return to lend us money, the U.S. economy is going to experience a tremendous amount of pain.

It is hard to put into words how foolish the Federal Reserve has been.  The Fed is systematically destroying what was once the strongest financial system in the world, and in the end we are all going to pay the price.

Why Are The Banksters Telling Us To Sell Our Gold When They Are Hoarding Gold Like Crazy?

Why Are The Banksters Telling Us To Sell Our Gold When They Are Hoarding Gold Like Crazy?The big banks are breathlessly proclaiming that now is the time to sell your gold.  They are warning that we have now entered a “bear market” for gold and that the price of gold will continue to decline for the rest of the year.  So should we believe them?  Well, their warnings might be more credible if the central banks of the world were not hoarding gold like crazy.  During 2012, central bank gold buying was at the highest level that we have seen in almost 50 years.  Meanwhile, insider buying of gold stocks has now reached multi-year highs and the U.S. Mint cannot even keep up with the insatiable demand for silver eagle coins.  So what in the world is actually going on here?  Right now, the central banks of the world are indulging in a money printing binge that reminds many of what happened during the early days of the Weimar Republic.  When you flood the financial system with paper money, that is eventually going to cause the prices for hard assets to go up dramatically.  Could it be possible that the banksters are trying to drive down the price of both gold and silver so that they can gobble it up cheaply?  Do they want to be the ones sitting on all of the “real money” once the paper money bubble that we are living in finally bursts?

Over the past few weeks, nearly every major newspaper in the world has run at least one story telling people that it is time to sell their gold.  For example, the following is from a recent Wall Street Journal article entitled “Goldman Sachs Turns Bearish on Gold“…

Another longtime gold bull is turning tail.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said Wednesday that gold’s prospects for the year have eroded, recommending investors close out long positions and initiate bearish bets, or shorts. The shift in outlook was the latest among banks and investors who have soured on gold as its dozen-year runup has been followed by a 12% decline in the last six months.

Goldman began the year predicting gold would decline in the second half of 2013, but said Wednesday the drop began earlier than expected and doesn’t appear likely to reverse. Like others, the firm said the usual catalysts that have been bullish for gold during its run are no longer working.

Major banks over in Europe are issuing similar warnings about the price of gold.  The following is from a Marketwatch article entitled “Sell gold, buy oil, Societe Generale analysts say“…

Analysts at Societe Generale predict in a note Thursday that gold prices will fall below $1,400 by the year’s end and continue heading south next year.

They cite two main reasons:

1.  Inflation has so far stayed low and now investors are beginning to see economic conditions that would justify an end to the Fed’s quantitative easing program.
2.  The dollar has started trending higher, which should make gold prices move lower as the physical gold market is extremely oversupplied without continued large-scale investor buying.

And even Asian banks are telling people to sell their gold at this point.  According to CNBC, Japanese banking giant Nomura is another major international bank that has turned “bearish” on gold…

Nomura forecast gold prices will fall in 2013, on Thursday, becoming the latest bank to turn bearish on the precious metal which has been a favorite hedge for investors who fear aggressive monetary stimulus will lead to rising inflation.

“For the first time since 2008, in our view, the investment environment for gold is deteriorating as economic recovery, rising interest rates and still benign Western inflation (for now) will likely leave some investors rethinking their cumulative $240 billion investment in gold over the past four years,” wrote Nomura analysts in a sector note on Thursday.

A lot of financial analysts are urging people to dump gold and to jump into stocks where they “can get a much better return”.  They make it sound like it is only going to be downhill for gold from here.  The following is from a recent CNBC article entitled “Gold’s ‘Death Cross’ Isn’t All Investors Are Worried About“…

Gold is flashing the “death cross” but the bearish chart pattern is not the only thing scaring investors.

The magnetic appeal of a rising stock market has pulled some investment funds away from the yellow metal. Since the beginning of the year, stocks are up nearly 7 percent and gold is down nearly 6 percent.

But if gold is such a bad investment, then why are the central banks of the world hoarding gold like crazy?

According to the World Gold Council, gold buying by global central banks in 2012 was at the highest level that we have seen since 1964

Worldwide gold demand in 2012 was another record high of $236.4 billion in the World Gold Council’s latest report. This was up 6% in value terms in the fourth quarter to $66.2 billion, the highest fourth quarter on record. Global gold demand in the fourth quarter of 2012 was up 4% to 1,195.9 tonnes.

Central bank buying for 2012 rose by 17% over 2011 to some 534.6 tonnes. As far as central bank gold buying, this was the highest level since 1964. Central bank purchases stood at 145 tonnes in the fourth quarter. That is up 9% from the fourth quarter of 2011, and the eighth consecutive quarter in which central banks were net purchasers of gold.

This all comes on the heels of decades when global central banks were net sellers of gold.  Marcus Grubb, a Managing Director at the World Gold Council, says that we are witnessing a fundamental change in behavior by global central banks…

Central banks’ move from net sellers of gold, to net buyers that we have seen in recent years, has continued apace.  The official sector purchases across the world are now at their highest level for almost half a century.

Meanwhile, insiders seem to think that gold stocks are actually quite undervalued right now.  In fact, insider buying of gold stocks is now at a level that we have not seen in quite some time.  The following is an excerpt from a recent Globe and Mail article entitled “Insider buying of gold stocks surges to multi-year highs“…

The TSX global gold index has lost about a third of its value over the past two years. The S&P/TSX Venture Exchange, stock full of gold mining juniors, hit a multi-year low this month.

Yet, executives and officers who work within those businesses are showing remarkable confidence that the sector is poised for better times.

In addition, the demand for physical silver in the United States seems to be greater than ever before.  According to the U.S. Mint, demand for physical silver coins hit a new all-time record high during the month of February.

And demand for silver coins has not abated since then.  Just check out what has been happening in April so far

The US Mint has updated April sales statistics for the first time since last week, and to no surprise, the Mint again reported more massive sales, with another 833,000 silver eagles reported sold Monday!   The April total through 6 business days is now 1.645 million ounces, bringing the 2013 total to a massive 15.868 million ounces.  In response to the continued massive demand for silver eagles, the mint also has begun rationing sales of silver eagles to primary dealers resulting in supply delays!  Just as was seen in January, tight physical supplies have seen premiums on ASE’s skyrocketing over the weekend and throughout the day, as ASE’s are rapidly becoming as scarce as 90%!

Something does not appear to add up here.

I also found it very interesting that according to Reuters, Cyprus is being forced to sell most of their gold reserves in order to help fund the bailout of their banking system…

Cyprus has agreed to sell excess gold reserves to raise around 400 million euros (341 million pounds) and help finance its part of its bailout, an assessment of Cypriot financing needs prepared by the European Commission showed.

So exactly who will they be selling that gold to?

And I also found it very interesting to learn that Comex gold inventories have been falling dramatically over the last few months.  The following is from a recent article by Tekoa Da Silva

A stunning piece of information was brought to my attention yesterday. Amid all the mainstream talk of the end of the gold bull market (and the end of the gold mining industry), something has been discretely happening behind the scenes.

Over the last 90 days without any announcement, stocks of gold held at Comex warehouses plunged by the largest figure ever on record during a single quarter since eligible record keeping began in 2001 (roughly the beginning of the bull market).

In particular, something very unusual appears to be happening with JP Morgan Chase’s gold…

JP Morgan Chase’s reported gold stockpile dropped by over 1.2 million oz.’s, or rather, a staggering $1.8 billion dollars worth of physical gold was removed from it’s vaults during the last 120 days.

So what does all of this mean?

I don’t know.  But I would like to find out.  Someone is definitely up to something.

Meanwhile, the central banks of the globe seem determined to put their reckless money printing into overdrive.

For example, the Bank of Japan actually plans to double the monetary base of that country by the end of 2014 as a recent Time Magazine article described…

On Thursday, the new governor of the Bank of Japan (BOJ), Haruhiko Kuroda, announced that the central bank would double the monetary base of the country — adding an additional $1.4 trillion — by the end of 2014 in an attempt to end the deflation plaguing the economy. To achieve that, Kuroda will buy government bonds and other assets to inject cash into the economy — what has now become familiar as quantitative easing, or QE — to bump inflation up to a targeted 2%. The plan is part of a greater strategy ushered in by new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to restart the economy through massive fiscal and monetary stimulus. It also expands on the efforts by the Federal Reserve, Bank of England and European Central Bank to stimulate growth and smooth over financial turmoil by infusing huge sums of new money into the global economy.

Many in the western world have been extremely critical of this move, but the truth is that we actually started this “currency war”.  The Federal Reserve has been recklessly printing money for years, and even though we are now supposedly in the midst of an “economic recovery”, the Fed is actually doing more quantitative easing than ever.

Anyone that thinks that gold and silver are bad investments for the long-term when the central banks of the world are being so reckless should have their heads examined.

However, I do believe that gold and silver will experience wild fluctuations in price over the next several years.  When the next stock market crash happens, gold and silver will go down.  It happened back in 2008 and it will happen again.

But in response to the next major financial crisis, I believe that the central banks of the globe will become more reckless than anyone ever dreamed possible.  At that point I believe that we will see gold and silver soar to unprecedented heights.

Yes, there will be huge ups and downs for gold and silver.  But in the long-term, both gold and silver are going to go far, far higher than they are today.

So what do you think will happen to gold and silver in the years ahead?  Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

Got Gold?

Quantitative Easing Did Not Work For The Weimar Republic Either

Did printing vast quantities of money work for the Weimar Republic?  Nope.  And it won’t work for us either.  If printing money was the secret to economic success, we could just print up a trillion dollars for every American and be done with it.  The truth is that making everyone in America a trillionaire would not mean that we would all suddenly be wealthy.  There would be the same amount of “real wealth” in our economy as before.  But what it would do is render our currency meaningless and totally destroy faith in our financial system.  Sadly, we have not learned the lessons that history has tried to teach us.  Back in April 1919, it took 12 German marks to get 1 U.S. dollar.  By December 1923, it took approximately 4 trillion German marks to get 1 U.S. dollar.  So was the Weimar Republic better off after all of the “quantitative easing” that they did or worse off?  Of course they were worse off.  They destroyed their currency and wrecked all confidence in their financial system.  There was an old joke that if you left a wheelbarrow full of money sitting around in the Weimar Republic that thieves would take the wheelbarrow and they would leave the money behind.  Will things eventually get that bad in the United States someday?

Of course we are not going to see hyperinflation in the U.S. this week or this month.

But don’t think that it will never happen.

The people of Germany never thought that it would happen to them, but it did.

The following is an excerpt from a Wikipedia article about the Weimar Republic.  Take note of the similarities between what the Weimar Republic experienced and what we are going through today….

The cause of the immense acceleration of prices that occurred during the German hyperinflation of 1922–23 seemed unclear and unpredictable to those who lived through it, but in retrospect was relatively simple. The Treaty of Versailles imposed a huge debt on Germany that could be paid only in gold or foreign currency. With its gold depleted, the German government attempted to buy foreign currency with German currency, but this caused the German Mark to fall rapidly in value, which greatly increased the number of Marks needed to buy more foreign currency. This caused German prices of goods to rise rapidly which increase the cost of operating the German government which could not be financed by raising taxes. The resulting budget deficit increased rapidly and was financed by the central bank creating more money. When the German people realized that their money was rapidly losing value, they tried to spend it quickly. This increase in monetary velocity caused still more rapid increase in prices which created a vicious cycle. This placed the government and banks between two unacceptable alternatives: if they stopped the inflation this would cause immediate bankruptcies, unemployment, strikes, hunger, violence, collapse of civil order, insurrection, and revolution. If they continued the inflation they would default on their foreign debt. The attempts to avoid both unemployment and insolvency ultimately failed when Germany had both.

When the Weimar Republic first started rapidly printing money everything seemed fine at first.  Economic activity was buzzing and unemployment was very low.

But as the following chart shows, when hyperinflation kicks in, it can happen very quickly.  By late 1922, the effects of all of the money printing were really starting to hit the German economy….

Once you start printing money it is really, really hard to stop.

By late 1922, inflation was officially out of control.  An article in The Economist described what happened next….

Prices roared up. So did unemployment, modest as 1923 began. As October ended, 19% of metal-workers were officially out of work, and half of those left were on short time. Feeble attempts had been made to stabilise prices. Some German states had issued their own would-be stable currency: Baden’s was secured on the revenue of state forests, Hanover’s convertible into a given quantity of rye. The central authorities issued what became known as “gold loan” notes, payable in 1935. Then, on November 15th, came the Rentenmark, worth 1,000 billion paper marks, or just under 24 American cents, like the gold mark of 1914.

Hyperinflation hurts the poor, the elderly and those on fixed incomes the worst.  The following is an excerpt from a work by Adam Fergusson….

The rentier classes who depended on savings or pensions, and anyone on a fixed income, were soon in penury, their possessions sold. Barter often took over from purchase. By law rents could not be raised, which allowed employers to pay low wages and impoverished landlords in a country where renting was the norm. The professional classes — lawyers, doctors, scientists, professors — found little demand for their services. In due course, the trade unions, no longer able to strike for higher wages (often uncertain what to ask for, so fast became the mark’s fall from day to day), went to the wall, too.

Workers regularly got wage increases during this time, but they never seemed to keep up with the horrible inflation that was raging all around them.  So they steadily became poorer even though the amount of money they were bringing home was steadily increasing.

People started to lose all faith in the currency and in the financial system.  This had an absolutely devastating effect on the German population.  American author Pearl Buck was living in Germany at the time and the following is what she wrote about what she saw….

“The cities were still there, the houses not yet bombed and in ruins, but the victims were millions of people. They had lost their fortunes, their savings; they were dazed and inflation-shocked and did not understand how it had happened to them and who the foe was who had defeated them. Yet they had lost their self-assurance, their feeling that they themselves could be the masters of their own lives if only they worked hard enough; and lost, too, were the old values of morals, of ethics, of decency.”

Of course not everyone in Germany was opposed to the rampant inflation that was happening.  There were some business people that became very wealthy during this time.  The hyperinflation rendered their past debts meaningless, and by investing paper money (that would soon be worthless) into assets that would greatly appreciate thanks to inflation, many of them made out like bandits.

The key was to take your paper money and spend it on something that would hold value (or even increase in value) as rapidly as possible.

The introduction of the Rentenmark brought an end to hyperinflation, but the damage to the stability of the German economy had been done.  The German economy went through several wild swings which ultimately resulted in the rise of the Nazis.  The following description of this time period is from an article by Alex Kurtagic….

The post-hyperinflationary credit crunch was, not surprisingly followed by a credit boom: starved of money and basic necessities for so long (do not forget the hyperinflation had come directly after defeat in The Great War), many funded lavish lifestyles through borrowing during the second half of the 1920s. We know how that ended, of course: in The Great Depression, which eventually saw the end of the Weimar Republic and the beginning of the National Socialist era.

By the end of the decade unemployment really started to take hold in Germany as the following statistics reveal….

September 1928 – 650,000 unemployed

September 1929 – 1,320,000 unemployed

September 1930 – 3,000,000 unemployed

September 1931 – 4,350,000 unemployed

September 1932 – 5,102,000 unemployed

January 1933 – 6,100,000 unemployed

By the end of 1932, over 30 percent of all German workers were unemployed.  This created an environment where people were hungry for “change”.

On January 30th, 1933 Hitler was sworn in as chancellor, and the rest is history.

So where will all of this money printing take America?

As I wrote about in a previous article, the amount of excess reserves that banks have stashed with the Federal Reserve has risen from about 9 billion dollars on September 10th, 2008 to about 1.5 trillion dollars today….

What is going to happen to inflation when all of those excess reserves start flowing out into the regular economy?

It won’t be pretty.

Just consider the ominous words that Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser used earlier this week….

“Inflation is going to occur when excess reserves of this huge balance sheet begin to flow outside into the real economy.  I can’t tell you when that’s going to happen.”

“When that does begin if we don’t engage in a fairly aggressive and effective policy of preventing that from happening, there’s no question in my mind that that will lead to lots of inflation.”

Oh great.

And so what is Bernanke doing?

He is printing up lots more money.

But isn’t this supposed to help the economy?

I wouldn’t count on it.

According to USA Today, the following is what Plosser says about the effect that QE3 is likely to have on our economy….

“We are unlikely to see much benefit to growth or to employment from further asset purchases.”

But we will get more inflation, so our monthly budgets will not go as far as they did before.

The other day I was going to the supermarket, and my wife told me that she wanted some croissants.  When I got to the bakery section I discovered that it was $4.49 for just four croissants.

If it had just been for me, I would have never gotten them.  I am the kind of shopper that doesn’t even want to look at something unless there is a sale tag on it.

But I did get the croissants for my wife.

Unfortunately, thanks to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke soon none of us may be able to afford to buy croissants.

I still remember the days when I could fill up my entire shopping cart for 20 bucks.

And it was not that long ago – I am talking about the late 90s.

But paying more for food is not the greatest danger we are facing.  Bernanke is destroying the credibility of our currency and he is destroying faith in our financial system.

Bernanke may believe that he is preventing the next great collapse from happening, but the truth is that what he is doing is going to make the eventual collapse far worse.

Better get your wheelbarrows ready.

Spain And Italy Are Toast Unless Germany Allows The ECB To Print Trillions Of Euros

The financial chess game in Europe is still being played out, but in the end it is going to boil down to one very fundamental decision.  Is Germany going to allow the ECB to print up trillions of euros and use those euros to buy up the sovereign debt of troubled eurozone members such as Spain and Italy or not?  Nothing short of this is going to solve the problems in Europe.  You can forget the ESM and the EFSF.  Anyone that thinks they are going to solve the problems in Europe is someone that would also take a water pistol to fight a raging wildfire.  No, the only thing that is going to keep Spain and Italy from collapsing under the weight of a mountain of debt is a financial nuke.  The ECB needs to have the power to print up trillions of euros and use that money to buy up massive amounts of sovereign debt in order to guarantee that Spain and Italy will be able to borrow lots more money at very low interest rates.  In fact, this is probably what European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has in mind when he says that he is going to “do whatever it takes to preserve the euro”.  However, there is one giant problem.  The ECB is not going to be able to do this unless Germany allows them to.  And after enduring the horror of hyperinflation under the Weimar Republic, Germany is not too keen on introducing trillions upon trillions of new euros into the European economy.  If Germany allows the ECB to go down this path, Germany will end up experiencing tremendous inflation and the only benefit for Germany will be that the eurozone was kept together.  That doesn’t sound like a very good deal for Germany.

Right now, the yield on 10 year Spanish bonds is above 7 percent and the yield on 10 year Italian bonds is above 6 percent.

Those are unsustainable levels.

The only thing that is going to bring those bond yields down permanently to where they need to be is unlimited ECB intervention.

But that is not going to happen without German permission.

Meanwhile, the situation in Spain gets worse by the day.

An article in Der Spiegel recently described the slow motion bank run that is systematically ripping the Spanish banking system to shreds….

Capital outflows from Spain more than quadrupled in May to €41.3 billion ($50.7 billion) compared with May 2011, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Spanish central bank.

In the first five months of 2012, a total of €163 billion left the country, the figures indicate. During the same period a year earlier, Spain recorded a net inflow of €14.6 billion.

If those numbers sound really bad to you, that is because they are really bad.

At this point, authorities in Spain are starting to panic.  According to Graham Summers, Spain has imposed the following new capital restrictions during the last month alone….

  • A minimum fine of  €10,000 for taxpayers who do not report their foreign accounts.
  • Secondary fines of  €5,000 for each additional account
  • No cash transactions greater than €2,500
  • Cash transaction restrictions apply to individuals and businesses

How would you feel if the U.S. government permanently banned all cash transactions greater than $2,500?

That is how crazy things have already become in Spain.

We should see the government of Spain formally ask for a bailout pretty soon here.

Italy should follow fairly quickly thereafter.

But right now there is not enough money to completely bail either one of them out.

In the end, either the ECB is going to do it or it is not going to get done.

A moment of truth is rapidly approaching for Europe, and nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the central banks of the world are on “red alert” at this point….

Ben Bernanke and Mario Draghi, with words but not yet actions, demonstrated this week that they are on red alert about the global economy.

Expectations are now high that Mr. Bernanke’s Federal Reserve and Mr. Draghi’s European Central Bank will act soon to address those worries. But both face immense tactical and political challenges and neither has a handbook to follow.

So what happens if Germany does not allow the ECB to print up trillions of new euros?

Financial journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard recently described what is at stake in all of this….

Failure to halt a full-blown debt debacle in Spain and Italy at this delicate juncture – with China, India and Brazil by now in the grip of a broken credit cycle and the US on the cusp of fresh recession even before the “fiscal cliff” hits – would tip the entire global system into a downward spin, triggering the sort of feedback loop that caused such havoc in late 2008.

As I have written about so frequently, time is running out for the global financial system.

Even Germany is starting to feel the pain.  This week we learned that unemployment in Germany has risen for four months in a row.

So what comes next?

There is actually a key date that is coming up in September.  The Federal Constitutional Court in Germany will rule on the legality of German participation in the European Stability Mechanism on September 12th.

If it is ruled that Germany cannot participate in the European Stability Mechanism then that is going to create all sorts of chaos.  At that point all future European bailouts would be called into question and many would start counting down the days to the break up of the entire eurozone.

If Germany did end up leaving the eurozone, the transition would not be as difficult as many may think.

For example, most Americans may not realize this but Deutsche Marks are currently accepted at many retail stores throughout Germany.  The following comes from a recent Wall Street Journal article….

Shopping for pain reliever here on a recent sunny morning, Ulrike Berger giddily counted her coins and approached the pharmacy counter. She had just enough to make the purchase: 31.09 deutsche marks.

“They just feel nice to hold again,” the 55-year-old preschool teacher marveled, cupping the grubby coins fished from the crevices of her castaway living room sofa. “And they’re still worth something.”

Behind the counter of Rolf-Dieter Schaetzle’s pharmacy in this southern German village lay a tray full of deutsche mark notes and coins—a month’s worth of sales.

I have a feeling that it would be much easier for Germany to leave the euro than it would be for most other eurozone members to.

The months ahead are certainly going to be very interesting, that is for sure.

Europe is heading for a date with destiny, and what transpires in Europe is going to shake the rest of the globe.

Sadly, most Americans still aren’t too concerned with what is going on in Europe right now.

Well, if you still don’t think that the problems in Europe are going to affect the United States, just check this news item from the Guardian….

General Motors’ profits fell 41% in the second quarter as troubles in Europe undercut strong sales in North America.

America’s largest automaker made $1.5bn in the second quarter of 2012, compared with $2.5bn for the same period last year. Revenue fell to $37.6bn from $39.4bn in the second quarter of 2011. The results exceeded analysts’ estimates, but further underlined Europe’s drag on the US economy.

Profits at General Motors are down 41 percent and Europe is being blamed.

The global economy is more tightly integrated than ever before, and there is no way that the financial system of Europe collapses without it taking down the United States as well.

And considering the fact that the U.S. economy has already been steadily collapsing, the last thing we need is for Europe to come along and take our legs out from underneath us.

So what do all of you think about the problems in Europe?

Do you see any possible solution?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….

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