Recent Quote of the Week from Zero Hedge:
Whoever controls the volume of money in our country is absolute master of all industry and commerce…and when you realize that the entire system is very easily controlled, one way or another, by few powerful men at the top, you will not have to be told how periods of inflation and depression originate.
– President James Garfield, 2 weeks before his assassination.
I spend several hours a day, combing through the news to find that one bit of analysis that you need – just that one bit.
And usually, that’s all you need, right?
Just the one.
Unfortunately, there are so many deadly threats coming our way that… well, I have to decide between telling you about one thing that will destroy you, or the other thing.
This is one of those times.
Really. It’s not just bad anymore. It’s REALLY bad.
I really hope that you’re paying attention. I really do.
February 16, 2012 – Charles Hugh Smith
The economy will expand if you believe it is expanding–because you’ll be “animal spirited” into buying a lot of stuff on credit that you can’t afford.
It all boils down to perception–that’s the insight at the heart of the Grand Game of Perception Management. Economists speak of magical “animal spirits” that fuel economic expansion, but this is simply a colorful term for perception management: when people perceive others reaping outsized gains in profits or pleasure from taking risky bets and freely spending borrowed money, then they will feel an overpowering urge to follow the herd and leverage their capital (if any) and disposable income (if any) into risky bets and zealous over-consumption, i.e. “animal spirits.”
Conversely, when said risky bets blow up and participants have lost their ever-loving derrieres by following the herd, then “animal spirits” quickly dissipate as the herd thunders off a cliff to its financial demise.
The task of the financial/political/media Status Quo is to convince Americans to overlook the abundant evidence of economic deterioration and focus on heavily juiced “evidence” of robust “growth.”
The game plan is this: if the Status Quo can convince you that the economy has righted itself and from here on in everything will get better and better, every day and in every way, then we will abandon financial rationality and start buying homes we can’t afford on credit, cars we can’t afford on credit and boatloads of stuff from China that we don’t need on credit (of course looking cool is a “need,” i.e. having an iPad to carry around).
In other words, believing it is so will make it so. That is the essence of the campaign to stimulate “animal spirits” confidence: though the economy is actually tanking, if they can only convince us the Dow is moving to 15,000 and then on to 20,000, jobs are being created left and right and things are looking up everywhere, then the resulting piranha-like shopping-feeding-frenzy will create the expansion that is currently chimerical.
This “feel-good” promotion of “growth” is also designed to persuade the millions of holdouts earning nothing on their IRA funds to drop all that cash back into the stock market, which is “breaking out to new highs.” (Isn’t that what they said in January 2000?)
And just in case this propaganda campaign fails to do the trick, the Federal Reserve has destroyed the return on savings and cash, all in the hope that the decimated, income-starved herd will turn from rationally avoiding risk to irrationally embracing it out of sheer desperation.
“Perception management” can be usefully shortened to a one-syllable word: “con.” The confidence-man’s most basic tool is to create the surface sheen of success with minimal investment of time and capital. Thus the con-man buys a couple of designer suits, rents a cubbyhole office with a prestigious address, leases a 500-series Mercedes vehicle, counterfeits some diplomas or other signifiers of Elite status and achievement, and then goes to work conning his credulous marks.
This exactly describes the strategy being pursued by Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner, the financial media, and America’s scabrous political class. Consider one of the Status Quo’s most valuable cons, the unemployment rate as calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
If we look at this chart from the St. Louis Federal Reserve, we see that employment–the actual number of people with jobs, as opposed to those who are without jobs–we see that the number of people with jobs has declined recently and is now at the same level of 3rd quarter 2009, a few months after it was officially declared that the recession had ended.
The official unemployment rate was 10% in October 2009, when about 140 million people were found to have some sort of job, and now that the same number of people have been found to have some sort of job (140 million), the unemployment rate is now only 8.3%, even though the nation has added roughly 6 million residents to the workforce.
THE MATTERHORN INTERVIEW – February 2012, By Lars Schall
John Embry, the chief investment strategist at Sprott Asset Management, talks in this exclusive interview about the motives and the means of certain interests to prevent a free gold market; tells the reason why the gold price will remain high; shows the opportunities in silver; and explains: “Gold is about the furthest thing from a bubble that I can think of.“
An industry expert in precious metals, his experience as a portfolio management specialist spans more than 45 years: John Embry, the chief investment strategist at Sprott Asset Management. He began his investment career as a Stock Selection Analyst and Portfolio Manager at Great West Life. Mr. Embry then became a Vice President of Pension Investments for the entire firm. After 23 years with the firm, he became a Partner at United Bond and Share, the investment counseling firm acquired by Royal Bank in 1987. Afterwards he was named Vice-President, Equities and Portfolio Manager at RBC Global Investment Management, a $33 billion organization where he oversaw $5 billion in assets, including the Royal Canadian Equity Fund and the Royal Precious Metals Fund. In March 2003 Mr. Embry joined Sprott Asset Management with focus on the Sprott Gold and Precious Minerals Fund and the Sprott Strategic Offshore Gold Fund Ltd. He plays an instrumental role in the corporate and investment policy of the firm.
Mr. Embry, the perhaps best report I have ever read on the gold market was “Not Free, Not Fair: The Long-Term Manipulation of the Gold Price,” written by Andrew Hepburn and you. (1) I would like to talk with you at the beginning about the findings of that report. First of all, why do you think it is relevant whether the gold price is free or not?
John Embry: Thank you for the very generous compliment. It is essential that the gold market be free. It functions as the so called “canary in the coal mine” and its price should be allowed to reflect excesses in a pure fiat monetary system. The continued suppression of the gold price was a key factor in the many financial bubbles which have essentially wrecked the monetary system as we know it.
What has the evidence been that the gold market isn’t a free market?
John Embry: Our report which was written 7 ½ years ago revealed all sorts of chicanery in the gold market and we only used evidence which could be corroborated. Considerable additional evidence has piled up subsequently but two smoking guns are the repetitive counter intuitive price action and evidence of widespread clandestine leasing of western central bank gold.
Mac Slavo, February 16th, 2012, SHTFplan.com
That a default in Europe is coming has never been the question. For the astute observer the only thing at issue is how and when it will happen. While the mainstream financial media and government officials have tried to spin this story as one that involves only Greek debt, the fact of the matter is that this isn’t isolated to a single country. Italy, Portugal, Ireland and most other European countries are in exactly the same boat.
Despite all of the propaganda and machinations from leading financial powers like the United States, Germany, and France, it’s should be clear that there is no viable solution to the debt debacle facing Europe. As such, we should understand that a situation similar to what led to the Great Depression of the 1930′s is now unfolding once again. The ability of entire nations to pay off their debt is now in question, and given the sheer size of the numbers we’re talking about, any reasonable person could agree that there is simply no plausible resolution that will make all parties whole again.
This has been playing out in Greece for nearly three years, and we may very well be just weeks away from the dreaded moment when it finally becomes official. An exclusive report detailing internal bank documents from two major Wall Street players says that we may have much less time than we think as insiders prepare for a financial doomsday next month…