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THE
ROCKET SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS


An Often Overlooked Issue!
by Professor von Braun

May 22nd, 2009

What I have referred to before in earlier articles as the great credit contraction is now well and truly underway. The credit expansion period is over and what we are seeing now is the effects of what happens when a fiat monetary system reaches the limits of its ability to both inflate the value of non productive assets, and defer settlement via the ongoing renewal of existing debt.
 
Attempts by governments and central banks to reinflate declining asset prices via large infusions of psuedo capital into the banking system so that the issuing of credit can be 'kick started' are doomed to fail.
 
House prices will continue to decline, unemployment will rise, tax revenues will decline further, government debt levels will continue to rise and people's net worth will also decline. This is a given!
 
This is what happens when you get a major credit contraction. In simple terms it is like the tide going out prior to the tsunami coming in.
 
Since a monetary debacle of this size has not been seen before, there is nothing to compare it with, for not even the depression of the 1930's comes close. Then people still had savings and the US $ was, until late 1933, pegged to gold at $20.67 per ounce.
 
Today all debts are now due, since the banking system can no longer lend its way out of its own dilemma and this is what needs to be clearly understood by investors. The dollar is a liability and as such being in cash is also a liability. Government securities are also liabilities, but the issue of liabilities versus real assets is more widespread than that.
 
The precious metals are not a liability, and ownership of them is a very wise move given the uncertainty surrounding everything else that is happening. We have seen calls by some market analysts for the Dow to be at 400, 600 and 'under a 1000.' "What does that mean?" you may well ask.
 
It means that you have a collapsed banking system along with massive unemployment and no cashflow of any consequence being generated within the system itself. What will happen to brokerage houses if you have the Dow at 400? What will stock exchanges look like if there is a collapse through to these levels? How will capital be raised when there is no capital left?
 
Cashflow during the credit expansion period was 'created' by the banks themselves via home equity lines, credit cards, and a series of market bubbles. Productivity, which should have been the benchmark by which to measure cashflow went off to all sorts of different places such as Asia, India, China and now we have a situation that the holders of US dollar denominated 'reserves' are located outside the US. There is little by way of actual 'reserves' within the US itself, hence the need to issue more debt.
 
In addition, money that has been spent within in the US by its residents has mostly been spent on items that have little, if any, appreciative value. On the contrary, electronic gadgets tend to depreciate, as do autos, as do fridges, freezers, washing machines and dryers. The real estate bubble has now clearly demonstrated that house prices can and do decline. Those who have been saving for their retirement are in a double bind, since in most cases what they believed was assets are now being seen as liabilities. That second house purchase is now a liability and even the primary residence is, in many cases, under water.
 
The root cause of all of this is the banking system itself and its mismanagement, with some not so little help from both Congress and the Senate, along with the failure of the deregulation of the systems put in place during the 1930's to stop this from happening. There still seems to be  a complete lack of understanding of what the problem actually is, which is clearly demonstrated by the attempts so far to fix the banking systems dilemma.
 
The often overlooked issue is CASHFLOW! Where is your income going to come from now that the capital gains machine is broken? Even if you are sitting in cash and own high quality government securities (whatever they are), with a 3% return, what can you buy into that can offer a cashflow that is reasonably safe and secure?
 
What is going to be left to buy when the music stops, when Mr. Fiat finally succumbs to Alzheimer's disease and you are left holding his empty bag of promises to pay?
 
Anything that has debt attached to it is a liability that won't go away. Any sector that is dependant on people spending money on goods or entertainment that provides revenue to service their debt has a problem and all aspects of the economy are at risk. Real estate, both residential and commercial, travel & leisure, retailing, the auto industry, even the medical profession will be facing lower revenues. The economy is not something that can be easily isolated into safe & unsafe sectors as it is all interconnected via the banking system which can no longer inflate the value of the underlying assets, regardless of what they are.
 
The example given by President Roosevelt's revaluing of gold in 1934 is of interest and contains pointers to the issue of cashflow. Small mining operations sprung up in many parts of the US. The reworking of tailings dumps from previous operations became common and with the increase in price gold mining became one of the few sources of consistent cashflow. Employment for miners was assured and towns that were close to producing mines did not nearly suffer the downturns and bank closures of areas that were not.
 
The production of gold is as close to guaranteed cashflow as you can get, even if gold is confiscated and a new 'official' price created, the gold that is being mined does have to be purchased and paid for by somebody. Will there be a resurgence of small privately owned gold mines?
 
Very few have understood the predicament the banking industry is in. The banks have been in the business of asset inflation and for a while it seemed to be working. But when it became the only game in town, everybody joined in and the ability to keep a lid on the issuance of debt was lost. Productivity was forgotten about as the technological advances gave people access to what appeared to be the goods, but was nothing other than an image.
 
The need for savings was ignored and now we have a compounding to the downside as assets continue lose their value. Ownership of debt is now being seen for what it is, something that can become problematic very quickly. Investors with capital are few and far between and assets that have strong cashflow potential are also few and far between.
 
The coming cashflow shortage will affect all entities from the Federal Government, to the states, the counties, pension plans, investors and homeowners alike.


The Prof can be contacted by email at profvonb2@aol.com

Copyright by Professor von Braun. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted at USAGOLD by permission.

Return to the The Gilded Opinion Index Page

The Rocket School of Economics -- The Lecture Series Index

  • 22 May 2009 -- An Often Overlooked Issue!
  • 28 Mar 2009 -- Problematic Banking Systems!
  • 14 Nov 2008 -- What Exactly is an Asset?
  • 23 Aug 2008 -- Through the Looking Glass?
  • 02 Aug 2008 -- Compounding to the Downside!
  • 26 May 2008 -- Back to Basics Again!
  • 31 Mar 2008 -- The Broken Watch -- Part 2.
  • 27 Mar 2008 -- The Broken Watch -- Part 1.
  • 06 Feb 2008 -- The Financial Equivalent of Faulty Towers.
  • 10 Dec 2007 -- Monetary Systems & Productive Assets.
  • 14 Feb 2007 -- Divorced from Reality
  • 06 Sep 2006 -- Gold, Bankers, the Trade Deficit and Unsettled Transactions
  • 19 Jun 2006 -- When is a Reserve Not a Reserve?
  • 31 May 2006 -- The significance of August 15, 1971.
  • 08 Apr 2006 -- Keep Your Eye on the Ball!
  • 30 Mar 2006 -- What came first?
  • 11 Mar 2006 -- An Unanswered Question.
  • 08 Jan 2006 -- Where have all the projects gone!
  • 11 Dec 2005 -- Gorillas, Rising Gold Prices and Depreciating Paper Currencies!
  • 23 Oct 2005 -- Custodial Risk.
  • 16 Sep 2005 -- An Inherent Flaw.
  • 08 Aug 2005 -- Central Banks and 'Reserves'.
  • 31 Jul 2005 -- Central Bankers, Actors and 'We'.
  • 17 Jul 2005 -- Unintended Consequences! -- Part 3.
  • 07 Jul 2005 -- Unintended Consequences! -- Part 2.
  • 25 Jun 2005 -- Unintended Consequences! -- Part 1.
  • 14 Jun 2005 -- The Two Greater Fools Theory.
  • 03 Jun 2005 -- Real Money, Funny Money and YOU -- Part 4.
  • 30 May 2005 -- Real Money, Funny Money and YOU -- Part 3.
  • 26 May 2005 -- Real Money, Funny Money and YOU -- Part 2.
  • 21 May 2005 -- Real Money, Funny Money and YOU -- Part 1.
  • 09 Nov 2002 -- Carrying a Big Stick.
  • 17 Sep 2002 -- Wishful Thinking!
  • 27 Jul 2002 -- Gold Bugs Beware -- part 2.
  • 10 Jun 2002 -- Gold Bugs Beware!
  • 06 Apr 2002 -- Currencies versus Gold.
  • 26 Jan 2002 -- Bear Market Strategies.
  • 01 Jan 2002 -- 2002 -- A Perspective.
  • 20 Oct 2001 -- The Storm Clouds are Gathering.
  • 30 Sep 2001 -- What to Say?
  • 01 Jul 2001 -- ...Said the Fly to the Spider.
  • 14 Jun 2001 -- Upward and Downward!
  • 28 May 2001 -- Volatility Time, Again!
  • 14 May 2001 -- The Coming Bull Market in Gold Stocks?
  • 24 Feb 2001 -- High Hopes, Wishful Thinking & The Absurd
  • 20 Feb 2001 -- Who Put the Holes in the Swiss Cheese?
  • 22 Jan 2001 -- US Dollar Admits Identity Crisis!
  • 16 Jan 2001 -- Dear George W.
  • 24 Nov 2000 -- The Bubble Has Burst
  • 11 Nov 2000 -- The Media, Bull Markets & the Gold Price
  • 02 Nov 2000 -- Gold Stocks
  • 29 Oct 2000 -- Oh The Tangled Web We Weave ...When We Set Out to Deceive
  • 24 Oct 2000 -- A Mystery!
  • 16 Oct 2000 -- A Peso Here ...and a Few Thousand Pesos There
  • 10 Oct 2000 -- The Unfolding
  • 30 Sep 2000 -- What's Wrong with THIS Picture?
  • 25 Sep 2000 -- Buy Gold Now!!
  • 23 Sep 2000 -- The Times, They Are a' Changing
  • 15 Sep 2000 -- Time WILL Tell!
  • 27 Aug 2000 -- SS "Paper Assets" Begins to Take on Water
  • 06 Aug 2000 -- The Indian Summer
  • 26 Jun 2000 -- A Yellow Brick Wall
  • 22 May 2000 -- The King IS Naked
  • 30 Apr 2000 -- Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
  • 18 Apr 2000 -- Beware the Ides of March, April and May
  • 08 Apr 2000 -- Really, Sir Aldot!
  • 25 Mar 2000 -- Where To From Here?
  • 18 Mar 2000 -- The Gnomes of Zurich
  • 12 Mar 2000 -- The "New" Economy??
  • 06 Mar 2000 -- Two Questions
  • 04 Mar 2000 -- Iceberg Dead Ahead!
  • 28 Feb 2000 -- The Wizard of Oz
  • 06 Feb 2000 -- Here We Go Again!!
  • 15 Jan 2000 -- Comments on the Gold Market
  • 29 Dec 1999 -- No Raw Ingredients Required
  • 28 Dec 1999 -- No Way Out
  • 14 Dec 1999 -- Ho, Ho, Ho!
  • 07 Dec 1999 -- Greenspan's Bubble
  • 03 Dec 1999 -- Early Warning Signs


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