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Debt and Dollar Collapse Leading to Potential Stock Market Melt-Up,

Stock-Markets / Financial Markets 2020 Aug 10, 2020 - 11:05 AM GMT

By: Raymond_Matison

Stock-Markets

Crypto/Blockchain and Central Bank New Digital Currency Directing America’s Near-Term Future

In just a little over one hundred years people’s means of payment for trade has evolved from the original Constitutional requirement that money must consist of gold or silver, to a gold backed paper dollar currency, which at the will of the holder could be converted back into physical gold.  Then came the paper dollar currency which for Americans could not be converted into physical gold, while sovereign foreign countries maintained that privilege.  The last retreat from gold backing the dollar occurred in 1971, when the gold window was closed to foreign sovereigns.  Most of us are only familiar with the paper currency which has no precious metal backing and simply claims that it is a Federal Reserve Note of a specific denomination.


That fateful decision in 1971 allowed our central bank to issue “money” and accommodate any required level of government spending.  Wars could be financed, and welfare programs enabled.  Banks could issue credit in essentially unlimited amounts by making entries onto their ledgers.  Financialization of America’s economy followed, and globalization of markets realized.   

Debt’s soft beguiling capture of consumers

Starting from a low base of debt, consumers were able to borrow, and enjoy the fruits of tomorrow’s labor today.  The purchase and use of unearned goods was satisfying right up to the moment when the consumer could no longer service the debt, where default and repossession of goods loomed to spoil the party.  So the lax monetary policies of the FED and commercial banks did stimulate this economy for many years, and satisfied credit needs of those consumers who always needed “more”.  However, eventually debt has to be not only serviced, but repaid.  That is when the slow accumulation of individual debt in danger of default started to slow consumer spending and economic growth, while ever more frequent or significant stimulus could not increase growth.  

Debt levels have risen to a point where regardless of the ease of getting additional credit or a low rate of interest, consumers could not and would not take on additional debt.  To add to this burden, the virus pandemic reduced employment, incomes and ability to service debt.  In order to recover from the devastating effects of virus-induced national business shutdown, our government is expanding its fiscal policies – national spending programs intended to provide jobs and income to unemployed citizens.  These programs will be financed by additional national borrowing through the Federal Reserve.   Domestically, these programs are deemed necessary to avoid a slide into depression.  Internationally, additional programs are necessary to prevent developing country loan defaults.

The FED is doing now what is needed to provide liquidity to the world. This massive need for dollars around the world is based on the global use of dollars in trade as the global reserve currency.  Developing countries borrow in dollars, and must service their debt and ultimately repay their debt in dollars.  As a result, the world’s business community and its banks need dollar liquidity to survive, deterring the developing world’s economy from massive defaults and consequent bank failures which would ripple outward destabilizing the world’s banking system.  

The FED must be committed to rolling over loans, lending more, and provide the necessary liquidity - thereby averting the global looming shortage of dollars.  This means that the Federal Reserve will buy additional trillions in Treasury debt, and thereby create many more trillions of dollars - which will continue to reduce its purchasing power.  FED’s failure to buy additional debt with its simultaneous creation of dollars would cause massive loan defaults that could crash the global banking system.  Our central planners have now created a global financial environment through decades of fiat money expansion from which there is no route to recovery – and no escape.  Create the currency and expect unpredictable levels of price inflation collapsing the dollar’s value; or don’t create the currency and expect global loan implosion.

Consequences of the credit party

Most people wouldn’t even recognize that they have labored under financial repression for the last several decades – even as it has reduced interest income, depleted their savings and ruined financial soundness and futures of middle class citizens.  Over this time period it has also destroyed the growth of assets needed to provide adequate funding for pension assets. During this last phase of trying to address the government’s insurmountable debt quagmire, utilizing financial repression or inflating the debt to manageable levels will no longer suffice.  Unfortunately at this time it will require the partial or complete destruction of our fiat currency.

Developing countries’ economies, exports and profits are and will continue to be negatively affected by the corona virus.  Many business loans will fail, and when a large enough number of loans default, it will cause the failing of some local banks.  This failure will ripple across a developing country, and expand affecting a whole region.  This quickly arrives to affect the weaker countries of the European Union and soon affects all of Europe.  As the global economy is interconnected, this “financial infection” ultimately arrives to the United States – which has its own significant debt problems.

No government will voluntarily give up any control over the issuance of money, but in times of crisis people across the globe from countries around the world will quickly and naturally migrate to assets that may protect them from severe currency implosion loss.  People had trusted and believed in government, which they deemed rightfully to have a responsibility to keep their currency valuable.  With central bank created money loosing value, individuals will seek alternative systems of value, and assign increased value to gold, validity to Bitcoin and other decentralized and anonymous cryptocurrencies, conferring them money-like attributes.  The abuse that holders of devalued currencies will experience in the next two to three years will cause them to assign increasing legitimacy to what they will now see as the more trustworthy digital system - one government or the FED cannot debauch.  In response, the FED will move to eliminate paper currencies which can be hoarded or saved to a digital currency which they can completely control electronically.

Central Bank digital currency projects

To a varying degree Central banks worldwide are researching or contemplating the eventual introduction of electronic digital currency whereby cash (paper money) is ultimately eliminated.  There are several important reasons why digital currency is important to banking.  One oft-repeated reason is that in a system of digital currency, no customer-driven run on a bank is possible.  Whereas a bank could run out of paper money if a large group of depositors were to demand cash, they can never run out of electronic digits.  A run on a digital bank is simply not possible.  This, of course, is very powerful benefit to banks. 

The cost of printing paper currency is far lower than the cost associated with mining gold, and issuing gold coins.  Yet the cost of digital currency is next to nothing when compared to the cost of printing.  Finally, the costs of minting coins is substantial, since they include the use of materials such as copper, nickel, or zinc which are far more expensive than electronic digits.  By comparison digital currency is very cost efficient and convenient. 

Banks have pointed out that much criminal trade takes place with use of cash, and use it as a reason to eliminate cash.  While it is true that the illegal drug trade is conducted exclusively with anonymous cash, it is not pointed out that banks across the globe have been paying multibillion dollar fines for laundering this drug money.  Thus banks have demonstrated themselves to be far more criminal than the public in the handling of cash, and bank processing vast flows of foreign and domestic dollars and other currencies.

The real issue with digital currency is that it again requires people’s trust in government and its agencies – trust which has been breached repeatedly if not ceaselessly.  With digital currency, facial recognition system usage may be necessary to protect against the hacking of one’s digital currency account.  Independent Americans would reject outright the government intrusion into the privacy of its citizens and total electronic monitoring of their activities, which centrally planned digital currency could necessitate.  Every activity that would include an electronic payment, would identify its location and would be time-stamped for the government to examine.  In this sense, there would no longer be any privacy.  

But regardless of how digital currency usage will affect people, we can be sure that it will be implemented.  For example Bank of England’s governor Andrew Bailey has stated: "We are looking at the question of, should we create a Bank of England digital currency. We'll go on looking at it, as it does have huge implications on the nature of payments and society."  Of course there are many central banks that now are working on the details of implementing such a system, and the Bank of International Settlements solidly supports this activity.  Central banks cannot allow private industry to be leading innovators and usurp the issuance of electronic tokens (which can function as money) that could reduce central bank global chokehold on the issuance of “money”.  But the innovation of the blockchain related to the advent of Bitcoin requires that banks develop a transparent system compatible with and use this distributed ledger technology.  

Central bank digital currencies initially will be introduced as an add-on, or complement to the current cash system.  This would not seem threatening, as its adoption would be a choice for the consumer to make.  However with the passage of time more people would adopt the e-currency as it is more convenient to use.  As less fiat cash circulates in the system, banks will argue that the cost of maintaining this older less efficient system makes no sense, and therefore at some specific time in the future, paper cash will no longer be acceptable as a means of payment.  So at this future time the only option will be to use digital or virtual currency.  To the extent global citizens will not have embraced some decentralized dependable nongovernmental cryptocurrencies, the central banks will have swooped up everyone under its control.  

China’s use of digital payments systems

China is ahead of most of the developed world in terms of electronic payments systems.

While such facts are not advertised in the West, over 90% of Chinese mobile payments are processed by Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay systems, which is turning China into a very dynamic consumer, e-commerce economy.  At least in major cities people use their smart phones to pay for their consumer purchases.  The need to carry any cash on the person has evaporated.  In fact, cash and credit cards are no longer used in some parts of China. The ease of conducting trade has been increased, and its cost has been decreased – a win/win for their consumers. 

In China state banks have been required by its government to charge very low fees for payment processing.  Accordingly, it is a system that is widely accepted by its citizenry, and is cost efficient.  As a result, electronic payments in China are ubiquitous. The Chinese also exhibit little resistance to facial recognition systems.  By comparison, the charges for electronic payments processing is far more expensive in the United States, highlighted by charges exceeding 20% for late payments on credit cards, and we cringe at the prospect of being tagged by a government surveillance system.

China is called a Communist Party controlled nation – which is true.  However, historically, for thousands of years China was an advanced empire whose emperor and government was conquered by the more militarily advanced European countries in the 19th century.  Then in order to maintain its global primacy, the then hegemon of the world saw it as convenient to have Communism rise in contentious parts of the world.  China, composed of millions of dirt-poor citizens of that time believed in that new system as they had nothing to lose.  Their Confucian system had been displaced.  Mao Zedong policies (many of them ineffective or destructive) were implemented, and when he died he was laid to rest in Tiananmen Square, conferring to him the place of highest honor.  Less noticed is the fact that after Mao’s death, Confucius has also been laid to rest in Tiananmen Square, underscoring China’s acknowledging its older system of governance of Confucianism.  Call the current political system what you choose: Communism, Socialism with Chinese characteristics, or State Capitalism, it is difficult to argue that over nearly a half a century Chinese leadership has delivered plenty for its citizenry.

If you have been to, or seen videos of China you surely have been surprised by what you saw. This writer has seen what Communist controlled countries looked like 30-40 years ago, and China today does not look like a Communist run country.  Whole new cities have been built, even as they are not yet fully occupied.  New high speed railroads cross the country.  Their rollout of G5 communications networks are proceeding nearly apace, even as the United States tries to impede its global arrival.  China’s everyday electronic payment systems are visibly advanced over those in the States and are embraced by their public.  China revels in its poverty rate decline, while the West contends with increasing wealth disparity.   It is a fair question to ask, by comparison what benefits has America’s politicians – in the “land of the free” - achieved for its citizens in the last half century?  

Blockchain Cryptocurrency emancipation

Technology has been replacing jobs over the last century or more.  When agricultural machinery provided efficiencies, many of the displaced workers took new jobs in manufacturing while some sought work in expanding government.  When manufacturing efficiencies reduced jobs in that industry, the growing electronics industry and continuing expansion of government provided additional job opportunities.  Now, with the new efficiencies provided through the internet, artificial intelligence and robotics, finally industry and government simply won’t be able to have enough jobs for everyone.  To add to this already great societal disruption, a new concept for replacing centralized trust, usually vested in banks, has been developed through widely distributed computer networks.  All of this will be highly disruptive globally for the next decade.               

In their 2015 published book, The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Digital

Money Are Challenging the Global Economic Order, by Paul Vigna and Michael J.

Casey, these authors bring great insights to readers about this new technology, and its

implied shaping of our financial future.

“Bitcoin is a groundbreaking digital technology with the potential to radically change the way we conduct banking and commerce, and to bring billions of people from the emerging markets into a modern, integrated, digitized, globalized economy.”

“Since strangers could not do business with each other without the banks, the world’s increasingly complex and interconnected economies became utterly dependent on the bankers’ intermediation.  The ledgers they kept inside their institutions became the vital means through which societies kept track of the debts and payments that arose among their citizens.  Thus the banks created the ultimate rent seeking business, positioning themselves as the fee-charging gatekeepers, managers of the financial traffic that made economies tick.  Anyone sitting at the sending or receiving end of that traffic had no choice but to deal with a bank.”

“The simple genius of this technology is that it cuts away the middleman yet maintains an infrastructure that allow strangers to deal with each other.  It does this by taking the all-important role of ledger-keeping away from centralized financial institutions and handing it to a network of autonomous computers, creating a decentralized system of trust that operates outside the control of any one institution.”

“Bitcoin and blockchain is a system of online exchange that uses encryption to allow two parties to exchange tokens of value without divulging vulnerable information about themselves or their financial accounts.  It is intended to operate outside the traditional banking structure and allows people to send digital money directly to each other- peer to peer as the concept of middleman-free commerce is known.  No banks or credit-card companies are needed.  No payments processors or other ‘trusted” third parties are involved. In effect it is a form of digital cash.”

“At its core this technology is a form of social organization that promises to shift the control of money and information away from the powerful elites and delivers it to the people to whom it belongs, putting them back in charge of their assets and talents.’

“At its core, bitcoin the technology refers to the system’s protocol, a common phrase in software terminology that describes a fundamental set of programming instructions that allow computers to communicate with each other. The system employs encryption, which lets users key in special passwords to send digital money directly to each other, without revealing those passwords to any person or institution.  Just as important, it lays out the steps that computers in the network must perform to reach a consensus on the validity of each transaction.”

For its part, the Beijing government just issued a plan for it to become a hub of blockchain innovation over the next two years.  Some China banks are already testing the use of e-currency.  The rest of the world is “working on the idea.” Domestically, Facebook is developing Libra, an electronic currency, and Pay Pal is developing a plan to offer cryptocurrency transactions to its 300 million users.  Digital currency will change the world and the way it conducts business, and early implementers sovereign or private will benefit from it.

What will happen with markets and our fiat currency?

The FED has determined and signaled as to what our collective future will be regarding financial markets, precious metals, and the ultimate value of our fiat dollar currency.  Their actions during the course of 2020, and recent comments by FED Chairman Powell confirms that the FED will create any and all the dollars needed, and keep interest rates minimal for the government to function.  This conjecture is also confirmed by the fact that the price of gold is now rising to record levels.  What this means is that the FED is taking action which it knows will destroy the dollar.

Under existing economic conditions and constraints, this may be the best and perhaps the only action that the FED can now reasonably take.  The popular expectation is that printing more dollars would quickly bring about its value demise.  However, understanding that in a period of global financial crisis that the rest of the world will rush to the still perceived safety of the dollar for protection enables continued printing.  That dollar will likely not lose value quickly – but steadily over the next several years.  It’s still a desperate maneuver which simply delays the ultimate outcome.

As the dollar value decline accelerates, an unexpected intermediate result could boost stock prices as the stock market melts upward.  Economic fundamentals don’t matter during this time period.  As the dollar loses value the price of goods sold rises, and this inflation is reflected in higher sales, and higher stock prices.  Such an event with rising stock market prices took place a century ago as Weimar Germany’s ceaseless printing of the Deutschmark was destroying its currency.  The stock market rose before the lack of faith in its currency finally crashed its stock market and the currency.  If we experience similar consequences, the stock market can rise more before the final crash. 

In a nutshell

The government is committed to expanded fiscal policies during the covid-19 virus disruption of our economy.  Accordingly, our national government deficits and debt will continue to grow further, beyond any capabilities of servicing or repayment.  Likewise, state and municipal governments are in a dire financial deficit position, and “zombie” corporations are saddled with record debt.  Finally, the consumer is experiencing historically unprecedented unemployment with a commensurate decline in income capability to service record credit card, auto loan credit, and mortgage loan or rent payments – risking nationwide mass eviction.  The perfect storm for multiple credit and loan defaults has now arrived.

The FED has committed to lend and print all the money government wants to spend or inject into the economy.  These policies will seriously reduce the purchasing power of our dollar global reserve currency - or completely destroy it over the next several years.  Gold and silver will continue to rise in terms of depreciating dollars.  Other assets including digital cryptocurrencies will be sought as a refuge by citizens trying to escape the destruction brought about by central bank and government loss in value of our fiat dollar.

Global central banks including the FED will use this crisis to establish a new national digital currency ultimately eliminating its paper counterpart.  Conversion to digital currencies globally will provide governments ample opportunities for obfuscation – that is, a means to partially hide the real loss or damage to fiat currency, savings, pension funds, and other financial assets – but the devastation will be unprecedented. 

Based on economics, the stock market should have been declining for the last several years, as real corporate profits have not risen for eight years, and equity valuations are at record levels by most measures.   However, based on depreciated dollars and following the lead of the FED, but ignoring fundamentals, the equities market could rise further as the dollar continues to weaken – producing a Weimar type market melt-up.  High risk investors may want to speculate in the dollar decline market melt-up.  But even as the dollar declines there is no guarantee that the market must rise.  In addition, such a market rise could be followed by a fast decline with narrow exits which could force an investor give up any gains achieved.  Near term market direction is not preordained, even as the longer term is certain.

This author has maintained that being out of the market with financial assets principally converted to precious metals, and sitting on the sidelines is the low risk and low stress, but defensive and profitable way to safeguard one’s assets.  See:  FOMO or FOPA or Au?

When the stock market catches up with the fundamentals, we will experience a time which Lord Rothschild in the 1800s had described as a period “when there is blood in the streets” - the perfect entry point for new financial investments.  That time is increasingly nearer.

There is no longer any need to state that economic or market dislocations are coming – they are here now!  Every quarter, government financial data will reconfirm erosion in our economic data, loss of value in our fiat currency, and our declining global influence.  Individual Americans will feel the catastrophic economic crisis in their homes through the material devastation in their personal lives, as the collapse of credit, income and trade reduces our former abundance of consumer products and ability to pay for them. 

Our centralized banking system and purchased government representatives have brought us incrementally over decades towards economic and financial destruction, and germinated a financial viral infection of socialism and communism in our society, and anarchy to our streets.  They have undermined and sabotaged our cherished form of republican government, and confiscated our freedom of speech, liberty, and right to assembly.   

America’s July 4, 1776 Declaration of Independence states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.  That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from consent of the governed.  That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government …”    

With little doubt, we can assume that Jefferson will be proven correct again, and “this Right” will be exercised by the people.

Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence also wrote “ If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow around the banks will deprive the people of all property – until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”  How prescient!  With tens of millions of people now unable to pay their rent or mortgages – the nation is precisely at the point that Jefferson foresaw.  This is where we are now as a nation.  Fortunately, he also foresaw the solution stating “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”  This is our nation’s near-term future.

Raymond Matison

Mr. Matison was an Institutional Investor magazine top ten financial analyst of the insurance industry, founded Kidder Peabody’s investment banking activities in the insurance industry, and was a Director, Investment Banking in Merrill Lynch Capital Markets.   He can be e-mailed at rmatison@msn.com

Copyright © 2020 Raymond Matison - All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilizing methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


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