Yesterday, the concrete cracked…the glass broke…empire continued to crumble.
Not that there was anything special about yesterday. This happens every day.
In the markets, the Dow fell 54 points. Gold rose to a new record of $1,587.
“Sell stocks on rallies; buy gold on dips.”
That has been our advice for the last 11 years. Don’t we have anything to add? Haven’t we discovered any new tricks? Isn’t it time to try a different strategy?
Nope. Stick with the formula. It’s a formula that doesn’t work very often. But when it does…it’s, well, golden.
It doesn’t work very often because empires and their money don’t fall apart very often. Usually, you can trust Caesar and coin to stay put. More or less. But now, Caesar’s money is phony. And it has allowed the empire to grow in absurd and grotesque ways…so its center of gravity no longer rests on a solid foundation. The whole thing tilts to the left…and appears close to toppling over.
According to the papers, Republicans and Democrats work feverishly to set things right. The Republicans want spending cuts, but no new taxes. The Democrats want higher taxes…but few spending cuts.
Surely they’ll get their act together sooner or later, say the journalists. If not, it will be like “committing suicide,” says a source in The Financial Times.
If so, we’d like to offer a sharp razor. Our reading of history shows that governments don’t stop borrowing and spending until they have to. And the sooner they have to – that is, the sooner the markets tell the politicians to ‘Drop Dead’ – the better off they are.
But that is not likely to happen. Congress has raised the debt ceiling 93 times in the last 94 years. Our guess is that it will strike a deal and do so again. That way, Congress, the White House and the vast bureaucracy can get back to doing what they do best – wrecking the economy.
Eventually, the markets will call a halt. But that is probably well in the future.
And here’s someone who shares our views. CNBC has the story:
A US default isn’t a matter of “if” but “when,” David Murrin, chief investment officer at Emergent Asset Management, told CNBC.
“It’s inevitable that the US will default – it’s essentially an empire which is overextended and in decline – and that its financial system will go with it,” he said.
In his book “Breaking the Code of History,” Murrin argues that the balance of power has shifted away from the West, with America as the superpower, towards the East, led by China.
He believes the US cannot afford to compete with the rise of Eastern powers.
“It’s very simple, its (America’s) empire system, its financial system is in decline, we’ve seen very little growth for over a decade apart from financial engineering and leveraging, which ultimately caused the debt crisis of 2008,” Murrin said.
“The only similar example is Britain. It was once an empire and when it lost its power over (the Suez Canal crisis of 1956) it had a large amount of loans outstanding to the Empire, and America owned most of that,” Murrin said. “That was the power America had over Britain and it ended the pound, but their values were very similar in terms of global geo-politics and the world didn’t really change that much.”
For investors wondering where to look in this environment, Murrin said one thing is clear: “You probably shouldn’t own dollar-denominated assets.”
Yes, dear reader, that noise you hear. It is an empire crumbling. The American Empire. The Anglo-Saxon Empire. The European Imperial Hegemony that has been in place at least since the invention of the steam engine.
The European democratic social welfare model – which took root in North America, Australia and other colonies throughout the globe – is putting in a giant, multi-decade top. Birthrates are low. GDP growth is low. Job creation is low. Debt is high. Its money corrupted by the paper-based dollar, the whole system has degenerated…ossified…and decayed. Now, it is dominated by frauds, incompetents and parasites.
Kurt Richebächer used to call it ‘late, degenerate capitalism.’ We call it Zombiedom!
Hold onto your gold.
We left you yesterday just as we were describing how the US slipped into corruption and degradation. It was nothing personal, we were about to say. It was nobody’s fault in particular. That’s just what happens.
We were also musing – on Bastille Day – on why monarchy was not such a bad system of government, after all. At least, Louis 16th was less sensitive to mob pressure; he didn’t have to keep his eye on the opinion polls. He could do things that were necessary, even when they were unpopular.
As a government matures, more and more people find ways to game the system. This is true of all forms of government, not just democracy. People always want to get ahead in the easiest, surest way possible. Often, it’s easier to steal money than to earn it. In a monarchy, people court favors and privileges from the ruling class, just as they do in any other system. They win battles, procure women, keep secrets or tell them, they don’t rebel…or they do, they are useful…or troublesome. They connive. They plot. They flatter. They use their elbows and their brains. They do what they have to do to gain an advantage.
In democracy, they grease the legislature to get special laws limiting competition…special tax breaks…bailouts…jobs…and titles. Why do you think Wall Street is the single largest contributor to Congressional campaign coffers? Because it has a lot at stake. And who would have thought – 100 years ago – that the president of the United States needed a well-paid assistant in charge of African-American Media? Does he also have an assistant in charge of Irish-American Media? And who covers the Yiddish press for him?
There’s a little niche…a sinecure…a bit of spare change for almost everyone.
As time goes on, the number of leeches, parasites, and blood-suckers multiplies. You see it at the local level as at the national one. If you want to build a house in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland, for example, you have to be prepared to pay thousands of dollars in bribes. Engineers, clerks, administrators, environmental protectors – a whole gauntlet of zombies stands between you and finally breaking ground.
Last week, at the dump, we noticed a large group of men in clean white shirts and hard hats wandering around. They seemed to have notebooks in their hands and stopped from time to time to write something down.
Who were they? Surely they were on the government payroll somewhere, somehow; they were probably making sure that the county dump was run according the latest standards of Zombiedom.
But it is not just government that is corroded. The private sector – especially those parts of it that are most closely connected to government – gets twisted too. Education in America is a government industry – even though there are plenty of private schools and universities. At the university level, it is almost impossible to exist without doing Washington’s bidding. Students are supported by grants and loans – coming from the government. And universities depend on government research and other projects for a major part of their funding.
Plus, the universities are no different from any other advanced, degenerate system. As they age, they too are full of their own tweedy leeches. Americans came to believe that their children would do better in life if they had a university education. This proposition was so little challenged that it led to almost a complete lack of price resistance. The more people paid, the better they liked it; presumably, because they were sending their children to the ‘best’ universities. Families mortgaged their houses in an effort to pay for their children’s college education.
Now, of course, the nation is saturated with university graduates who are largely illiterate and incompetent. People are beginning to realize that a college diploma is as bad an investment as a house. The Financial Times:
The cost of education…in the US has soared in recent decades while median incomes have stagnated… In the past decade, tuition rates at public universities have risen 5.6% a year above inflation…
“Over the past 60 years,” says Jim O’Neill, head of the Thiel Foundation, “owning a house became part of the American Dream. People were told: ‘buy a house, don’t worry about the price; you’ll earn it all back later.’ Now it’s the same thing with college.”
In the curious way that Zombiedom takes over, the idea that a university degree would pay off was not entirely an illusion. As society became zombified, the value of phony professionalism grew. Degrees and qualifications are important in organizations that don’t actually produce anything. An active, profit-oriented entrepreneur will not particularly care if a person has a degree or not; he wants a producer. But universities, the health care industry, many large corporations, and the government itself are not output oriented. Usually, no one knows if they do anything useful or not. So, how can they select or advance employees – except by reference to degrees and qualifications?
The cost of a university education, as a percentage of disposable household income, has risen from about 18% in 1985 to nearly 35% today. But did a college degree really pay off? Guess how much more a university graduate earns today…in real terms…than, say, a college graduate in 1985.
More to come…
Bill Bonnerfor The Daily Reckoning
Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America's most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind The Daily Reckoning. Dice Have No Memory: Big Bets & Bad Economics from Paris to the Pampas, the newest book from Bill Bonner, is the definitive compendium of Bill's daily reckonings from more than a decade: 1999-2010.
I love how DR readers have suddenly grown quiet on issues of “terror” and the “War in Eye-rack”.
Back in the day, more than a few attacked Bill for his belittling of the “War on Terror”, and berated him for underestimating al-Qaida and its “capacity to do evil”.
Where are they now? Bill was right all along, and the DR readers’ silence on this issue speaks volumes. Bin Laden bankrupted us. The terrorists have won.
So long, America. Glad it cost you $4.7 trillion to capture and murder one man. Was nice knowing ya.
“led by China”
that’s funny. without the u.s. and european markets china is little more than a rice paddy. they are going to implode so hard …. well at least several hundred million of them are still mud-mucking peasants, they’ll survive. more than us.
“Bin Laden bankrupted us.”
that’s funny too. between the top of the debt dollar pyramid and demographic decline bin laden was a mere fluff ball.
If bin Laden was such a fluffball, why’d we drop $5 trillion (and counting) to catch him and his band of 90 fighters?
Yeah, and quick let’s throw the only evidence in the ocean so nobody can dig him up and check the DNA.
There never was much value in a college degree. With the exception of medicine, engineering and few others, -most college degrees represent nothing more than the ability to put up with non-sense like only a college or university can dish out. In the real world, employers will pay a premium to employees who have the demonstrated ability to indure non-sense, to do as they are told even when the ethics are questionable. The actual body of knowledge aquired while “learning” is of almost no value what-so-ever. All a degree represents now days, is the ability to be obedient and the willingness to sell out one’s soul for the betterment of some nefarious institution.
I’m loving seeing America slowly going down the big toilet bowl. The only thing they really do right is entertainment and culture – they need to make the entire country a huge theme park to entertain the world’s tourists. The whole country dressed up in blackface singing Mammie. How…..appropriate.
Exactly Bruce! I went to College for two years for nursing. I work a part time job and make more than the HR guy that hired me and he works full time! The idea of an education is a good idea, just choose your major wisely. A BA in pyschology or Human Services and you might as well get use to a few phrases like.. “Paper or plastic”, “would like that super sized with fries” ect….
…to make your own currency, you need three ingredients…a galvanized nail, silver dollar, your tongue…place nail onto coin then apply tongue…
“I’m loving seeing America slowly going down the big toilet bowl.”
do you think you won’t follow? or perhaps … you love seeing it go down precisely because you’ll follow? a “you first” kind of thing?
Bruce you sound like someone too lazy to ever try for a college degree. It takes work to complete it and it takes time away from the TV and the video games. The higher you go the harder it gets. Out of the almost twenty doctoral students who started writing their thesis only three of us graduated. The other 17 had completed all the course work, two 1000 hour internships and two six hour exams.
But hey you think their work is a waste of time. Everyone of those folks is a hard worker and that is what America needs to turn itself around. We are better of with them then some whiner who complains about everything writing to some blog as he sits in his mother’s basement on his computer. Get a life, do something. It would make you feel better I think.
Most Argentinians are still alive and well.
Put away the monopoly board and play some other game.
So forget the total fear.
“Last week, at the dump, we noticed a large group of men in clean white shirts and hard hats wandering around. They seemed to have notebooks in their hands and stopped from time to time to write something down.”
I know this is Daily Reckoning and the hate for all things government is high, but the above statement and its follow up are not based on any facts, just the dislike of government in all its forms. Maybe these government ‘parasites’ were there to monitor mercury and other pollutants leeching into groundwater. Did you ask them what they were doing, or just assume they were on the payroll to waste taxpayers’ money?
Regulation and government interference is not the great evil that DR sometimes makes it out to be. If we left everything to the free market I bet pollutants would be dumped at the cheapest and nearest convenience instead of properly disposed of. Who would check that standards are being met? No one, as by DR’s opinion any government oversight is an utter waste.
I have been an avid reader of your articles, a fan, love the way you put forward your thoughts, it is really scholastic. I have been reading it for a year now and don’t miss a single article, though I don’t have anything to invest. I have observed a few things about America and would like to share with you –
1. You have been wrong about the faith in American Dollars, though I am not an American.
2. Jesus factor will work with America for rest of the century at least.
3. It will remain the reserve currency of the world, as long as it manages to remain a super power.
4. American Dollars are still as good as GOLD, outside America. I don’t have to elaborate; it seems you have been travelling a lot.
5. This gives an advantage of printing machine. America can print as much money as it owes throughout its life-term without getting really affected.
6. She has to educate its populace and ingrain patriotism about “Made in USA products”.
By the way, how many industries have gone to China because the Americans don’t buy “Made in USA products”.
7. How come Walmart become one of the sixth largest customers of China.
8. Bring back those industries see the world pays 10 times more to purchase “Made in USA products”, AND I AM SURE I WILL PAY.
Suresh, what colour is the sky on your planet?
The worst thing about America going down the toilet is that few of our political leaders and fewer of our citizens realize that it is happening. These dreamers assume that everything will return to the status ante and nobody will ask us to pay off our debts, we will get back all those jobs lost to the rest of the world and a chorus of angels will descend from heaven singing ‘America the Beautiful’ with trumpet accompaniment.
A’int gonna happen, folks. What we oughtta do, but won’t, is to cut all governments in the US to 1/2 the present size with 1/3rd the present spending and eradicate most of the restrictions on business.
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Given a choice, Bernanke will likely strangle the currency (your money)... in favor of “strengthening” the economy.
Eventually, economic reality and markets will collide -- unfortunately, the higher the market, the harder the fall.
How certain business practices wind up jacking up costs before sticking you with the bill.
The Japanese Nikkei fell flat on its face overnight.
While Bernanke Runs Wild, Let’s Talk Ponies