Keynes Was a Vicious Bastard, Report

By Keith Weiner

My goal is to make you mad. Not at me (though I expect to ruffle a few feathers with this one). At the evil being wrought in the name of fighting inflation and maximizing employment. And at the aggressive indifference to this evil, exhibited by the capitalists, the gold bugs, and the otherwise-free-marketers.

So, today I am going to do something I have never done. I am going to rant! I am even going to use vulgar language (which is totally justified).

In researching several recent articles, I re-read old passages from Keynes. Consider these snippets:

Continue reading Keynes Was a Vicious Bastard, Report

The Duality of Money, Report

By Keith Weiner

This is a pair of photographs taken by Keith Weiner, for a high school project. It seemed a fitting picture for the dual nature of money, the dual nature of wood both as logs to be consumed and dimensional lumber to be used to construct buildings.

Last week, in Is Capital Creation Beating Capital Consumption, we asked an important question which is not asked nearly often enough. Perhaps that’s because few even acknowledge that capital is being consumed, and fewer tie it to the falling interest rate (perhaps that is because the fact of the falling interest rate is, itself, controversial). At any rate, we showed a graph of Marginal Productivity of Debt.

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Pivotal Events – Precious Metals

By Bob Hoye

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Is Capital Creation Beating Capital Consumption?

By Keith Weiner

We have written numerous articles about capital consumption. Our monetary system has a falling interest rate, which causes both capital churn and conversion of one party’s wealth into another’s income. It also has too-low interest, which encourages borrowing to consume (which, as everyone knows, adds to Gross Domestic Product—GDP).

What Is Capital

At the same time, of course entrepreneurs are creating new capital. Keith wrote an article for Forbes, showing the incredible drop in wages from 1965 to 2011. There was not a revolution, because prices of goods such as milk dropped at nearly the same rate. The real price of milk dropped as much as it did, because of increased efficiency in production. The word for that which enables an increase in efficiency is capital.

Or, to put it another way, capital provides leverage for productive human effort. We don’t work any harder today, than they did in the ancient world (probably less hard). But we are much richer—we produce a lot more. The difference is capital. They had not accumulated much capital. So they were limited to brute labor, to a degree which we would find shocking today.

Continue reading Is Capital Creation Beating Capital Consumption?

Is Lending the Root of All Evil?

By Keith Weiner

Ayn Rand famously defended money. In Atlas Shrugged, Francisco D’Anconia says:

“So you think that money is the root of all evil? . . . Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?”

There needs to be a similar defense of the loan.

Continue reading Is Lending the Root of All Evil?

Central Planning is More Than Just Friction

By Keith Weiner

It is easy to think of government interference into the economy like a kind of friction. If producers and traders were fully free, then they could improve our quality of life—with new technologies, better products, and lower prices—at a rate of X. But the more that the government does, the more it burdens them. So instead of X rate of progress, we get the same end result but 10% slower or 20% slower.

Some would go so far as to say, “The free market finds ways to work even through government restrictions, taxes, and regulations.” We won’t address cardboard straws emerging where plastic straws are banned. Or gangs selling illegal drugs on the black market, when they are prohibited by law.

As usual, we want to talk about the most important kind of government intervention. And it happens to be the one kind of government intervention that is accepted by nearly everyone. The intervention supported by the otherwise-free-marketers.

Continue reading Central Planning is More Than Just Friction

What They Don’t Want You to Know About Prices, Report

By Keith Weiner

Last week, in part I of this essay, we discussed why a central planner cannot know the right interest rate. Central planner’s macroeconomic aggregate measures like GDP are blind to the problem of capital consumption, including especially capital consumption caused by the central plan itself. GDP has an intrinsic bias towards consumption, and makes no distinction between consumption of the yield on capital, and consumption of the capital per se. Between selling the golden egg, and cooking the goose that lays golden eggs.

One could quibble with this and say that, well, really, the central planners should use a different metric. This is not satisfying. It demands the retort, “if there is a better metric than GDP, then why aren’t they using it now?” GDP is, itself, supposed to be that better metric! Nominal GDP targeting is the darling central plan proposal of the Right, supposedly better than consumer price index and unemployment (as Modern Monetary Theory is the darling of the Left).

Continue reading What They Don’t Want You to Know About Prices, Report

A Precious Metals Update

By NFTRH

I reserve most of the work on precious metals for NFTRH weekly reports and in-week updates because it is done on a consistent basis, with the work done previously key to the narrative making sense in real time and going forward. In other words, in order to not be out there stabbing in the dark you need to have an ongoing, adjustable plan that makes sense at all times with the macro markets around it.

So that said, let’s take a snapshot of where things stand currently with the understanding that this work will need future updates, which will probably not be made publicly. It is up to the reader to do the work required to put context to the picture. Meanwhile, this will free up more space in next week’s NFTRH 538 to focus on some quality miner charts, which sometimes take a back seat to the macro/sector stuff.

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Who Knows the Right Interest Rate, Report

By Keith Weiner

On January 6, we wrote the Surest Way to Overthrow Capitalism. We said:

“In a future article, we will expand on why these two statements are true principles: (1) there is no way a central planner could set the right rate, even if he knew and (2) only a free market can know the right rate.”

Today’s article is part one of that promised article.

Let’s consider how to know the right rate, first. It should not be controversial to say that if the government sets a price cap, say on a loaf of bread, that this harms bakers. So the bakers will seek every possible way out of it. First, they may try shrinking the loaf. But, gotcha! The government regulator anticipated that, and there is a heap of rules dictating the minimum size of a loaf, weight, length, width, depth, density, etc. Next, the bakery industry changes the name. They don’t sell loaves of bread any more, they call them bread cakes. And so on.

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Modern Monetary Theory: A Cargo Cult, Report

By Keith Weiner

Newly elected Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently said that Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) absolutely needed to be “a larger part of our conversation.” Her comment shines a spotlight on MMT. So what is it? According to Wikipedia, it is:

“a macroeconomic theory that describes the currency as a public monopoly and unemployment as the evidence that a currency monopolist is restricting the supply of the financial assets needed to pay taxes and satisfy savings desires.”

It is uncontroversial to say that the Federal Reserve has a monopoly on the dollar. So let’s look at the second proposition. Unemployment, MMT holds, is evidence that the supply of dollars is restricted.

In other words, more money causes more employment!

This does not sound very different from what the New Keynesians say. Keith analyzed former Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s seminal paper on the economics of labor for Forbes:

“Here is their [Yellen and co-author Ackerloff] tenuous chain of logic:

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The Rampant Corruption Inside Pan American Silver (PAAS) Peru

By Otto Rock

A fascinating report out of the regional news site Cajabamba Peru yesterday, showing the type of corruption that’s rife inside the Pan American Silver (PAAS) operations in Peru. The case has come to light because of the recent takeover of Tahoe Resources by PAAS, as the central figure in the corruption, one Christian Dávila Grados, was brought into the ex-TAHO operations from another mine and immediately went about cutting large slices of pie for his friends and family. When this came to the attention of locals in and around the La Arnea and Shahuindo mines and they found out that truly local companies (the people that should benefit) were being cold-shouldered and contracts awarded to Dávila’s chosen few, we on the outside finally get to see what must be rife inside PAAS (and perhaps for many years). Examples of the contracts include:

Continue reading The Rampant Corruption Inside Pan American Silver (PAAS) Peru

The Dollar Works Just Fine, Report

By Keith Weiner

Last week, we joked that we don’t challenge beliefs. Here’s one that we want to challenge today: the dollar doesn’t work as a currency, because it’s losing value. Even the dollar’s proponents, admit it loses value. The Fed itself states that its mandate is price stability—which it admits means relentless two percent annual debasement (Orwell would be proud). So there is no question that the dollar loses value. The only mainstream debate is whether this is good or bad.

Our focus today is whether this is why the dollar doesn’t work, why it’s failing.

Prices have been rising for 100 years. There is no reason why they couldn’t go on rising for another 100. Or 1000. The inflation argument, as we call it, does not reach anyone other than those who already think the dollar is failing. The rest shrug it off. Most people really care only if their income goes up slower than prices go up.

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