Addison Wiggin

“The purpose of Newspeak,” George Orwell, wrote in his novel 1984, “was not only to provide a medium of expression for the worldview and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc [Orwell’s name for the ruling regime in 1984], but to make all other modes of thought impossible.”

The columnist William Pfaff, with whom we often agree, used Orwell’s quote yesterday to describe how the United States government has come to inextricably support the bases at Guantanamo, which he likens to Gulags of Stalinist Russia – only worse because Gulag sentences, at least, had an end date.

While closing the base seems to have become politically impossible, “something still might usefully be said about this situation,” Pfaff writes with perceptively dying hope. It’s “obviously a phenomenon of totalitarian character, emulating, no doubt wittingly, the destruction of judicial constraint in the Nazi system by means of arbitrary imprisonment in concentration camps and by methods generalized in Gestapo and SS practice, and in Stalinist Russia by its secret police and forced labor camps.”

If you haven’t read the piece, we recommend you do so here: Locked In.

As frightening as Pfaff’s perception of Guantanamo is, we couldn’t help but think of Orwell this morning when listening to NPR’s coverage of Office for National Statistics’ release of British gross domestic product (GDP) this morning.

Fact is, GDP in Great Britain turned positive again in the first quarter of 2011 – just barely. The statisticians in London reckon the UK economy grew 0.5%, making up for the 0.5% loss in Q4 2010.

The news was interpreted as a disaster by an analyst from the City talking to Morning Edition. The “austerity measures” put in place by the Cameron government will continue to “suppress” GDP, unless the central bank opens the monetary spigots to counter the closing of the fiscal ones.

Since quantitative easing (QE) in Britain has amounted to a quaint $121 billion since the panic of 2008 – out of nearly $5 trillion pursued by the US, European Union and Japan – the commentator presumes the English are doomed.

When asked to speculate on the effect of “austerity measures” proposed by the US president for the US economy, the commentator couldn’t fathom it. What might actually happen if the Fed pulled back on QE and Congress actually proposed to get spending in line?

Shiver me timbers. All economic activity is derived from government spending or monetary easing. To think of the economy in any other terms has become politically “irresponsible”… even “kookie”… these days. One can’t even imagine it.

The analogy between foreign policy and monetary policy would be a hoot, if the societal trend weren’t so ominous.

“Guantanamo has been a factor in what it is not unreasonable to call the totalitarianization of American political culture,” Pfaff asserts in his piece, “taking place through the effective prohibition (or demonization) of certain political stances, or of the advocacy of certain political positions, deemed ‘unpatriotic’ and therefore unacceptable in the political discourse of the nation – including, in some cases, in congressional discourse and debate.”

As much as it is heretical to disagree with foreign policy made behind closed doors by unelected officials, so is it equally impolite to question the wisdom of monetary policy made behind closed doors by another group of men in Washington.

We presume the press conferences now scheduled by the Federal Reserve, the first of which we’ll be witnessing this afternoon, are designed to open the closed doors.

But still we have our suspicions.

“What are the odds?” for example, we couldn’t help but thinking as we put pen to paper this morning “that on the eve of Ben Bernanke’s first regularly scheduled press conference the stock market has reached multiyear highs?”

The Dow and the S&P are now at levels last seen in June 2008. The Nasdaq, on a tear, hasn’t seen territory like this since January 2001.

Bernanke couldn’t ask for anything better. Why, we can just imagine the setting for this press conference.

Ben Bernanke - Mission Accomplished
“Yeah, baby, the wealth effect!”: Shock and awe econostyle.

“Stock prices rose and long-term interest rates fell,” Bernanke wrote in his Op-Ed in  the day after the Federal Reserve formally launched “QE2” last November, “when investors began to anticipate” a new round of easy money. Mission accomplished.

Addison Wiggin
for The Daily Reckoning

Addison Wiggin

Addison Wiggin is the executive publisher of Agora Financial, LLC, a fiercely independent economic forecasting and financial research firm. He's the creator and editorial director of Agora Financial's daily 5 Min. Forecast and editorial director of The Daily Reckoning. Wiggin is the founder of Agora Entertainment, executive producer and co-writer of I.O.U.S.A., which was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, the 2009 Critics Choice Award for Best Documentary Feature, and was also shortlisted for a 2009 Academy Award. He is the author of the companion book of the film I.O.U.S.A.and his second edition of The Demise of the Dollar, and Why it's Even Better for Your Investments was just fully revised and updated. Wiggin is a three-time New York Times best-selling author whose work has been recognized by The New York Times Magazine, The Economist, Worth, The New York Times, The Washington Post as well as major network news programs. He also co-authored international bestsellers Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt with Bill Bonner.

  • Boris

    Lots of shock, very little awe, nothing accomplished.

  • Kenn

    Mr.Pfaff is dead on the money. I never dreamed my country would be doing the things it is doing today. What else is there to say…

  • Deft

    There you go…we need a little more humor to lighten the insanity we’re living through.

    Actually we should send thank you cards to Benny. He’s been godsend for gold investors.

  • jmrbayoubobby

    perhaps it might read:

    stock and oil (with a heavy Texas accent)

  • kenn

    Gold is going no where,,, The dollar however, is devaluing rapidly. It’s surprising to me that some think their making money when after it’s all said and done,,, all their extra money is worth less…

  • Clem from the Hills

    Gold CAN increase in buying power because it’s demand can go up (as a store of value for example) or its supply can be restricted.

    Like any other commodity, it’s value can rise or fall through supply and demand. It can even reach bubble stage. It can be cornered and dumped as well.

    It can be mandated by law or it can be prohibited by law as well. How much would gold be worth if the government confiscated it under penalty of death. Presumably few people would want to own it. Then again, this would restrict supply…

    (Something like this may very well happen btw.) Gold bugs seldom address this issue.

Recent Articles

It’s Time to Buy Microcaps for Double-digit Gains

Greg Guenthner

Yup, small-caps are setting up for a comeback year. In fact, I believe they'll retake a leadership role in the markets in 2015. So now's your chance to set yourself up for potentially massive gains before these stocks start grabbing headlines again. Or... you can simply wait until some ex-purt on CNBC or Fox recommends them - and miss out on half the party. Your choice...


Can Money Printing Cause Deflation?

Marc Faber

"There has been an issue that has preoccupied my mind for a long time," writes Dr. Marc Faber. "In economics, it is generally accepted that if the quantity of money and credit is increased, prices will rise… However, since economics is so complex… I question whether the expansion of central banks' balance sheets and policies of zero interest rates could have a deflationary impact…" The good doctor wrestles with the question, in today's essay...


How Low Will Oil Go – And What Can You Do?

Matt Insley

The oil market has been under siege for six months. From service providers to producers this downturn has been painful. Of course, we’ve known all along that oil prices were a little toppy over the summer. In fact, when asked just how low oil prices could go I usually answered with a simple “lower than you’d expect…”


Cuba’s Berlin Wall Moment

Peter Coyne

Our forecast that Cuba would be open and integrated within 5-10 years is on track after yesterday's big announcement. Ahead of schedule, even. Click here to see how some investors have profited and what the island's likely future is...


The $4 LED Trend You Don’t Want to Miss

Chris Mayer

The opportunity to sell and install LEDs is enormous. We’re talking about over a billion lighting fixtures. And the areas with the largest potential -- like parking lots -- have barely begun to change. Banker to the presidents Chris Mayer says you could triple your money in this new tech trend. Here's what you need to know.


Forget the Oil Crash – Crush the Market With Biotech Stocks

Greg Guenthner

The Biotech iShares ETF is up 23% since the Oct. 15th bottom. No, that is not a typo. Biotechs have torched the S&P over the past two months--more than doubling the returns of the big index. And biotechs as a group are up more than 38% year-to-date. In fact, since we first highlighted the June comeback, the Biotech iShares have gone nowhere but up.


How to Make the Casinos Pay You for a Change

Greg Guenthner

It's a theme we've shared with you since April. And it's only gotten worse. The gaming industry has come under all sorts of pressure--a situation I first noticed in the charts. The powerful, multi-year uptrends started showing cracks. And it wasn't long before those cracks turned into gaping holes you could drive a friggin' truck through. That's where things stand today.