Blog Archives

Revealing the Real Rate of Inflation Would Crash the System

This week, I’ve noted that Consumer Prices Have Soared 160% Since 2001 while under-the-radar declines in value, quantity and quality are forms of Inflation Hidden in Plain Sight.

What would happen if the real rate of inflation was revealed? The entire status quo would immediately implode. Consider the immediate consequences to Social Security, interest rates and the cost of refinancing government debt.

Unbiased private-sector efforts to calculate the real rate of inflation have yielded a rate of around 7% to 13% per year, depending on the locale–many multiples of the official rate of around 1% per year.

So what happens if the status quo accepted the reality of 7+% inflation? Here are a few of the consequences:

1. Social Security beneficiaries would demand annual increases of 7+% instead of zero or near-zero annual increases. The Social Security system, which is already distributing more benefit payments that it is receiving in payroll tax revenues, would immediately go deep in the red.

(Please don’t claim the SSA Trust Fund will be solvent for decades. I’ve dismissed the fraud of the illusory Trust Fund many times. The reality is the federal government has to borrow every dollar of deficit spending by Social Security by selling more Treasury bonds, just as it borrows every other dollar of deficit spending.)

The Fraud at the Heart of Social Security (January 17, 2011)

The Problem with Social Security and Medicare (July 17, 2013)

The Social Security system would be revealed as unsustainable if real inflation (7+% annually) were made public.

2. Global investors might start demanding yields on Treasury bonds that are above the real rate of inflation. If inflation is running at 7%, then bond buyers would need to earn 8% per year just to earn a real return of 1%.

Central states are only able to sustain their enormous deficit spending because interest rates and bond yields are near-zero or even below zero. If the federal government suddenly had to pay 8% to roll over maturing government bonds, the cost of servicing the existing debt–never mind the cost of borrowing an additional $400 billion or more every year–would skyrocket, squeezing out all other government spending and triggering massive deficits just to pay the ballooning interest on existing debt.

Bond yields of 8+% would collapse the status quo of massive government deficit spending.

3. Private-sector interest rates would also rise, crushing private borrowing.How many autos, trucks and homes would sell if buyers had to pay 8% interest on new loans? A lot less than are being sold at 1% interest auto loans or 3.5% mortgages.

4. Any serious decline in private and state borrowing would implode the entire system. Recall that a very modest drop in new borrowing very nearly collapsed the global financial system in 2008-09, as the whole system depends on a permanently monstrous expansion of new borrowing to fund consumption, student loans, taxes, etc.

How many billions of dollars will be siphoned off the debt-serfs, oops, I mean students, should student loans be issued at interest rates north of 8%? (Some private student loans are already in the range of 8%; where will those go if inflation is recognized as running at 7% per year?)

The grim reality is that real inflation is 7+% per year, and this reality must be hidden behind bogus official calculations of inflation as this reality would collapse the entire status quo. Super-wealthy elites earning 10+% yields on stock, bond and real estate portfolios aren’t particularly impacted by 7% inflation; their real wealth continues to expand nicely.

Who’s being destroyed by 7+% real inflation? Everyone whose income has stagnated and everyone who depends on wages rather than assets to get by–in other words, the bottom 95%.

My new book is #7 on Kindle short reads -> politics and social science: Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform ($3.95 Kindle ebook, $8.95 print edition)For more, please visit the book’s website.

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We Need a Complete System Overhaul: 5 Charts That Blow Up the Status Quo

In an auto-mechanic analogy, the Powers That be are assuring us those grinding noises under the hood and the black smoke chugging out of the tailpipe are no big deal and can be fixed with a minor tuneup. They’re wrong; we need a total overhaul to avoid a total system breakdown.

The grinding noises and black smoke are telling us the engine of our economy is on its last legs. The Powers That Be (Federal Reserve, government at all levels, mainstream corporate media, etc.) have been masking the need for an overhaul with trickery for the past seven years, the financial equivalent of using heavy oil and spray-painting the battery to make it look new.

With the tranny and top end about to blow, the Status Quo keeps claiming everything’s running great and the new set of sparkplugs and minor valve adjustment (i.e. zero-interest rate policy and more banking regulations) have restored the economy to top performance. (more…)

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Looks Like I’ll Be Able to Retire Comfortably at Age 91

My advice is to focus not on retiring comfortably, but on working comfortably.

You’ve probably seen articles and adverts discussing how much money you’ll need to “retire comfortably.” The trick of course is the definition of comfortable. The general idea of comfortable (as I understand it) appears to be an income which enables the retiree to enjoy leisurely vacations on cruise ships, own a well-appointed RV for tooling around the countryside, and spend as much time on the golf links as he/she might want.

Needless to say, Social Security isn’t going to fund a comfortable retirement, unless the definition is watching TV with an box of kibble to snack on.


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Anatomy of a Failing State: Japan’s Budgetary Nightmare

Once the global economy rolls over into contraction, the tide will recede and Japan’s fiscal and monetary bankruptcy will become painfully apparent.

What do you get after 25 years of stagnation and Keynesian Cargo Cult monetary stimulus? A failing state, that’s what. The intellectually bankrupt ruling Elites of Japan have no solution for Japan’s slow stagnation, as real reform would diminish their wealth and power.

So their only “solution” is to double-down on monetary stimulus: flood the enfeebled Japanese economy with more credit and fiscal stimulus, a.k.a. building bridges to nowhere: Japan’s Monetary Pearl Harbor.

But reality isn’t as immobile as failed policies.


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The Rot Within, Part I: Our Ponzi Economy

Depending on blowing the next bubble to temporarily prop up the economy is the height of foolhardy shortsightedness.

All the conventional policy fixes proposed by Demopublican politicos, technocrats and the vast army of academic/think-tank apparatchiks are the equivalent of slapping a coat of paint on a fragile facade riddled with dryrot. All these fake-fixes share a few key characteristics:


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The Happy Story of Boomers Retiring on Their Generational Wealth Is Wrong

This happy story is wrong on multiple counts.

The conventional view of the Baby Boomers’ retirement is a happy story: since we’re living longer and remaining productive longer, Boomers will not be as much of a burden on Gen-X and Gen-Y as doom-and-gloomers assume.

Not only are Boomers staying productive longer, they will draw upon their vast generational wealth as they age, limiting the financial burden on younger generations.

This happy story is nicely summarized in this lengthy piece 
The Fear Factor:
Long-held predictions of economic chaos as baby boomers grow old are based on formulas that are just plain wrong.


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Want to Fix Income/Wealth Inequality? Here’s How

There is nothing fancy about these three solutions.

I have covered rising income/wealth inequality for many years in dozens of entries. Since Thomas Piketty’s new book has catapulted the topic into the media spotlight, it’s a good time to list solutions that go deeper than Piketty’s proposed global wealth tax–a proposal he characterizes as utopian.

Every solution is utopian, because the Financial Aristocracy and their central bank cronies have democracy by the throat. There is no legislative way to change the Status Quo when political power is for sale to the highest bidder, and central banks are issuing nearly-free money to the financial oligarchy that owns the political machinery.

But listing solutions is still important, because it reveals just how far from democracy, rule of law and free-market capitalism we have fallen.


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