Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Putin’s World: Why Russia’s Showdown with the West Will Worsen - John_Mauldin
2. Stocks Bull Market Grinds Bears into Dust, Is Santa Rally Sustainable? - Nadeem_Walayat
3. Gold and Silver 2015 Trend Forecasts, Prices to Go BOOM - Austin_Galt
4.Gold Price Golden Bottom? - Toby_Connor
5.Gold Price and Miners Soar on Huge Volume - P_Radomski_CFA
6.Stock Market and the Jaws of Life or Death? - Rambus_Chartology
7.Gold Price 2015 - EWI
8.Manipulated Stock Market Short Squeezes to Another All Time High - The China Syndrome - Nadeem_Walayat
9.Gold, Silver, Crude and S&P Ending Wedge Patterns - DeviantInvestor
10.Is the Gold And Silver Golden Rule Broken? - Michael_Noonan
Last 5 days
All Hail the King U.S. Dollar - Trend Forecast - 24th Nov 14
Where Is China Economy On The Map Exactly? - 24th Nov 14
Most of The World Economies Panic - Is The US Next? - 24th Nov 14
Stock Market Exhaustion Gap? - 24th Nov 14
Gold Golden Gains Come After The Pain - 24th Nov 14
Crude Oil and Stock Market Setting The Stage For The Next Recession - 23rd Nov 14
This Publicly-Owned Bank Is Outperforming Wall Street - 23rd Nov 14
Who’s Ready For $30 Crude Oil Price? - 23rd Nov 14
Strategic, Methodological and Developmental Importance of Knowledge Consumption - 23rd Nov 14
Manipulated Stock Market Short Squeezes to Another All Time High - The China Syndrome - 23rd Nov 14
Gold Price 2015 - 22nd Nov 14
Stock Market Medium Term Top? - 22nd Nov 14
Is the Gold And Silver Golden Rule Broken? - 22nd Nov 14
Malaysia's Subsidy and Budget Deficit Conundrum - 22nd Nov 14
Investors Hated Gold at Precisely the Wrong Time: What About Now? - 22nd Nov 14
Gold and GLD ETF Selloff - 22nd Nov 14
Currency Wars, the Ruble and Keynes - 21st Nov 14
Stock Market Investor Sentiment in The Balance - 21st Nov 14
Two Biotech Stocks Set to Double on One Powerful Catalyst - 21st Nov 14
Swiss Gold Poll Likely Tighter Than Polls Suggest - 21st Nov 14
Gold's Volatility and Other Things to Watch - 21st Nov 14
Australia Stock Market and AUD Dollar Analysis (ASX200 and AUDUSD) - 21st Nov 14
New Algae Research May Have Uncovered an “Energy Forest” Under the Sea - 21st Nov 14
The Cultural and Political Consequences of Fiat Money - 20th Nov 14
United States Social Crisis - No One Told You When to Run, You Missed the Starting Gun! - 20th Nov 14
Euro-Zone Tooth Fairy Economics, Spain Needs to leave the Euro - 20th Nov 14
Ebola Threat Remains a Risk - New Deaths in Nebraska and New York - 20th Nov 14
Stock Market and the Jaws of Life or Death? - 20th Nov 14
Putin’s World: Why Russia’s Showdown with the West Will Worsen - 20th Nov 14
Making Money While The World Burns - 20th Nov 14
Why This "Quiet Zone" Is Now Tech Stocks Biggest Profit Sector - 20th Nov 14
My Favorite Stock McDonalds Just Got Kicked Off My “Buy” List - 19th Nov 14
European Economies in Perpetual State of Shock, What's Scarier Than Deflation? - 19th Nov 14
Breakfast with a Lord of War and Nuclear Weapons - 19th Nov 14
The U.S. Economy’s Ebb and Flow - 19th Nov 14
What You Need to Know Before Investing in Alibaba - 19th Nov 14
Forget About Crude Oil Price Testing 2009 Low - 19th Nov 14
What Blows Up First? Part 5: Shale Oil Junk Bonds - 19th Nov 14
Bitcoin Price Did We Just See an Important Slump? - 18th Nov 14
How to Profit From Oversold Crude Oil Price - 18th Nov 14
Stock Valuations Outrunning Profits Growth - And the Band Played On - 18th Nov 14
ECB Buy Gold Bullion? Japan's Monetary Policy Dubbed "Ponzi Scheme" - 18th Nov 14
Gold, Silver, Crude and S&P Ending Wedge Patterns - 18th Nov 14
How High Could USD/JPY Go? - 18th Nov 14
On Obama and the Nature of Failed Presidencies - 18th Nov 14
Globalism Free Trade Immigration Connection - 18th Nov 14
An Epiphany From Hell - Buy Gold and Silver - 18th Nov 14
Too Difficult to Get a U.S. Home Loan - 18th Nov 14
Has the Gold Bear Trap Been Set - 18th Nov 14

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Gold Report 2015

United States Exporting Inflation Worldwide - From Credit to Money, Part II

Economics / Money Supply Feb 01, 2008 - 02:32 PM GMT

By: Adrian_Ash

Economics

"Living in a credit era, we cannot go back to a currency era without massive upheavals..."- Robert L.Smitley, Popular Financial Delusions (1933)

WHY DON'T we just do away with all the different currencies of the world, and settle on one single money to buy, sell, invest and light our cigars with?


Because as it is, the Babel we live in – where 143 different kinds of currency either change hands or act as a way of measuring prices around the globe – keeps finding itself in no end of trouble.

"The Rupee rose on Friday," reports LiveMint, the Wall Street Journal 's Mumbai offering, "as investors bought the Indian unit for its higher yields after a hefty interest rate cut by the US Federal Reserve.

"But concerns weighed that the Indian central bank would intervene against the local unit, as it is widely suspected of doing in recent months."

"There was some suspected intervention against the Singapore Dollar at 1.4270," added a currency trader in the tiny Asian state to Reuters last week, "so I guess players are wary." Across the Pacific, the Argentine Peso has meantime lost more than 10% of its value against the US Dollar over the last four years thanks to "continued central bank intervention" says the newswire elsewhere.

And as the world's stock markets have tumbled this month, the central banks of the Philippines , Malaysia and Turkey are also rumored to have stepped into the open market, dumping their own currency and buying the US Dollar in a bid to support it and thus keep their export-economies cheap to foreign customers.

Put another way, as Benn Steil of the Council of Foreign Relations said at a recent meeting (or so the Washington Post reports), "the United States is exporting inflation worldwide" by forcing these sovereign nations to print up mountains of their own currency with which to buy the ailing greenback.

Countries like China and the Middle Eastern petro-kingdoms peg their currencies to the Dollar – the world's No.1 reserve currency, and still top dog after all these years. So they "thus [peg themselves] to US monetary policy" too.

And US monetary policy, quite clearly, is inflationary right now. That makes monetary policy inflationary everywhere from Abu Dhabi to Beijing . Even those of us lucky enough to sit outside the "Dollar Zone" can expect rates to slide in tandem.

Slashing almost a third off the cost of borrowing dollars inside eight days – and then offering to lend US banks $60 billion in 28-day loans every two weeks – makes for quite the game of "follow my leader", don't you think?

Ah, but over in the dozy spires of pan-global political day-dreams, abolishing sovereign currencies and anointing one, single money in their place would smooth the wheels of commerce and boost world GDP overnight. Apparently.

"Annual transaction costs of $400 billion [would] be eliminated," reckons Morrison Bonpasse, editor of The Single Global Currency (2007 edition) published by Munich University . "Global currency imbalances will [also] be eliminated," he adds, along with "all Balance of Payments problems...currency crises...currency speculation...and the need for foreign exchange reserves (with a current annual opportunity cost of approximately $470 billion)."

Indeed, "worldwide interest rates will be lower than the current average due to the elimination of currency risk" – and you've just got to love cheaper money!

So what's not to like? "National currencies and global markets simply do not mix," wrote Ben Steil in the policy-wonk's favorite glossy, Foreign Affairs , last May.

"Together they make a deadly brew of currency crises and geopolitical tension and create ready pretexts for damaging protectionism. In order to globalize safely, countries should abandon monetary nationalism and abolish unwanted currencies, the source of much of today's instability."

Instability being a bad thing – the kind of thing that knocks the S&P lower by 7% inside one month, for instance – it should be abolished, right? The beautiful stability of Western Europe 's economies just goes to prove how remarkable a single currency could prove.

"Spanish and Italian manufacturers are clearly struggling in the headwinds of weaker global growth, the strong Euro, high oil prices and eroding demand in domestic markets," said Jacques Cailloux, economist at Royal Bank of Scotland in London, to Dow Jones newswires today after the Eurozone's Purchasing Managers Index for January showed a slight rise overall.

"Against this, French and German manufacturers continue to do well, at least for the time being, but German producers have failed to fully make up the pace lost last autumn."

Why the disparity? According to most Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Greek politicians, the cost of borrowing Euros is too high. According to the latest inflation data for the 14-nation currency zone, however, it's still way too low.

"Annual inflation in the Eurozone jumped to a new high of 3.2% in January, the European Union's statistics bureau Eurostat estimated on Friday," reports the China Daily.

"The figure, including new Eurozone members Malta and Cyprus for the first time, was the highest since the single currency was introduced to world markets as an accounting currency in 1999. It rose from 3.1% in the previous two months and stayed well above the two percent ceiling preferred by the European Central Bank (ECB) for the fifth consecutive month."

Spain's minister of finance, Pedro Solbes, said last week that "there's significant debate" inside the European Central Bank about whether or not to cut interest rates as the global slowdown looms over Europe. But then, he faces re-election in March – and no one seemed to mind too much about interest-rates being too low during the Spanish real estate bubble that began bursting last year.

Property prices nearly tripled in Spain between 1997 and 2007, thanks to a wave of British ex-pats in search of a perma-tan and the sudden collapse in borrowing costs that preceded the birth of the Euro in 2000. Mortgage rates went from 11% in 1995 to below 6% and then 5% as the single currency delivered the hope of German-style monetary policy and German-style interest rates.

Across the sea in Ireland , house prices trebled in just seven short years after the introduction of the Euro. But not even a peak of just 4.0% in the Eurozone's cost of money could keep the bubble inflating forever.

Now "Spanish banks are issuing mortgage securities and asset-backed bonds on a massive scale to park at the European Central Bank," reports the London Telegraph , "using them as collateral to raise money at favorable rates from the official credit window in Frankfurt .

"The rating agency Moody's said lenders had issued a record €53 billion [$77bn] of mortgage- and asset-backed bonds in the fourth quarter of 2007, yet almost none of the securities have actually been placed on the open market. Most have been sent directly to the ECB for use in 'repo' operations."

So for all its tough talk on inflation, the European Central Bank is still feeding the growth of credit and money supplies in Europe . Any wonder the broad M3 money supply is swelling at a three-decade record rate? Any surprise that consumer-price inflation is surging beyond the ECB's grasp...?

And does anyone really imagine this isn't a problem?

"Living in a credit era," wrote Robert L.Smitley in his 1933 classic, Popular Financial Delusions , "we cannot go back to a currency era without massive upheavals. The cause of the great boom was credit expansion to an abnormal degree – the same cause as that for all booms under a credit system."

The world's central bankers all know this too well. Few of them, if any, believe a return to cash-only possible, let alone desirable. So if the world's consumers and investors choose to shut down the credit markets – both as borrowers and lenders – and pile into cash instead, then the world's central banks will just have to destroy cash in the hope of forcing a flight back into credit.

How else, we wonder here at BullionVault , would you characterize a cut of 125 basis points in the rewards paid on Dollars inside eight days...?

The panic starting last August – a panic that closed the West's mortgage markets almost entirely – can be beaten by central banks buying mortgage-backed bonds themselves if need be. The stock-market panic of January – a panic that knocked almost one-tenth off the value of equities worldwide – can be reversed by historic cuts to interest rates and a fresh flood of short-term loans to the banks.

Or so the central banks think. But the panic they're then causing as a direct result – a panic revealed by the surging Gold Price since August – might prove worse than the flight into cash that they're fighting:

A complete loss of faith in all official currency.

Might that lead to the one, single money that day-dreaming economists think can cure the world's evils? Whatever comes when the dust settles, you can be sure the world won't turn to using gold coins again.

Yes, Ben Bernanke's depression theories might be disputed – and yes, his current credit-inflation panic looks absurd. But history would seem to make clear that during the 1930s deflation, those nations which abandoned the Gold Standard soonest turned the corner the fastest and began to recover.

The "barbarous relic" of tying the supply of money to a real quantity of Gold Bullion can't make a comeback for as long as "deflation" and "depression" are still blamed on gold hoarders.

But that doesn't mean you can't hoard a little real wealth in the meantime. You might want to consider it if you're losing your faith in government money.

By Adrian Ash
BullionVault.com

Gold price chart, no delay | Free Report: 5 Myths of the Gold Market
City correspondent for The Daily Reckoning in London and a regular contributor to MoneyWeek magazine, Adrian Ash is the editor of Gold News and head of research at www.BullionVault.com , giving you direct access to investment gold, vaulted in Zurich , on $3 spreads and 0.8% dealing fees.

(c) BullionVault 2008

Please Note: This article is to inform your thinking, not lead it. Only you can decide the best place for your money, and any decision you make will put your money at risk. Information or data included here may have already been overtaken by events – and must be verified elsewhere – should you choose to act on it.

Adrian Ash Archive

© 2005-2014 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Free Report - Financial Markets 2014