Opposing Monetary Directions

“Real estate is the future of the monetary system,” declares a real estate bug.

Does this make any sense? We would ask him this.

“OK how will houses be borrowed and lent?”

“Look at this housing bond,” he says, pointing to a bond denominated in dollars, with principal and interest paid in dollars.

“What do you mean ‘housing’ bond’,” we ask, “it’s a bond denominated in dollars!”

“Yes, but housing is the collateral.”

OK, so it’s not a housing bond. It’s a dollar bond used to finance the purchase of houses. These are not the same thing at all, the way chalk and cheese are not the same thing, despite both being single-syllable words beginning with the letters “ch”.

 

 

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Perversity: Thy Name is Dollar


If you ask most people, “what is money?” they will answer that money is the generally accepted medium of exchange. If you ask Google Images, it will show you many pictures of green pieces of paper. Virtually everyone agrees that money means the dollar.

 

Image credit: Cildo Meireles

 

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The Different Theories on What Moves Gold and Silver Prices

For example, the Quantity Theory school attempts to relate the quantity (or change in quantity) of dollars, to each commodity. Generally, this theory predicts rising prices based on the reasoning of “more dollars chasing the same or fewer ounces of gold and silver.” The problem is that the new holders of these new dollars are not necessarily bidding up gold and silver (our thorough rebuttal to this is here).

The Conspiracy School thinks that there is a shadowy cabal, a price-manipulation cartel that decides what the gold and silver prices will be (our thorough rebuttal to this is in our Thoughtful Disagreement with Ted Butler).

Other schools attempt to compare mine production with industrial and jewelry demand. Or attempt to hold up a famous buyer of metal, while ignoring the thousands of not-famous sellers who sold the metal to said famous buyer. We should not make too much ado over a move of metal from one corner of the market to another (as we’ll discuss below).

 

 

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I write this with sadness, still, at the news of the death of my friend Heinz Blasnik. He is better known by his nom de plume, Pater Tenebrarum, who published the economics blog Acting Man and wrote for many other financial sites.

I met Heinz twice, at his home in Vienna. He was a kind and gracious host, sending his driver to pick me up and serving Austrian delicacies for lunch. When I met him, he was struggling near the end of a long illness which was the result of a youthful adventure. Even so, he retained a benevolent sense of life, and a positive spirit.

But this is not why I wanted to write this. We were friends because we shared some ideas. Important ideas. Ideas about the nature of the world, and mankind, and how man can work together and coordinate their productive activities. Economics and business are my life, and Heinz was the same way.

What better basis for a friendship than sharing important values?

Heinz was deeply, passionately interested in helping people understand economics. I know not how much time he gave to this cause—unpaid, as blogs do not make money—but it was surely more than I spend. He engaged with those who were interested. Sadly, Austrian economics is not mainstream, though there are more than enough people to keep a teacher—or sensei—busy. He was willing to correspond with me, and I credit his articles and emails for helping shape my own views.

We did not always agree. If you put 3 economists in a room then you have at least 4 opinions. But even when not, he listened with benevolent intention and did not make it personal. It was always about the ideas. I think this is an important and uncommon virtue.

On one of my visits, we discussed life, the universe, and everything. And he told me a bit about the Austrian welfare state. Which led me to write The Service Economy. I have traveled around the world, and I have shared food and drink with friends in many countries. Yet that one conversation with Heinz stands out as interesting and important. I can only recall one other discussion with one other friend that led directly to me writing an essay.

I don’t think Heinz believed in Heaven, but I hope everyone will understand when I say this. I would look forward to a day—many years in the future, I hope—when I could meet Heinz for beers in Heaven, and continue our conversation where it left off in 2021.

Adieu Heinz.

 

Dr. Keith Weiner is the president of the Gold Standard Institute USA, and CEO of Monetary Metals. Keith is a leading authority in the areas of gold, money, and credit and has made important contributions to the development of trading techniques founded upon the analysis of bid-ask spreads. Keith is a sought after speaker and regularly writes on economics. He is an Objectivist, and has his PhD from the New Austrian School of Economics. He lives with his wife near Phoenix, Arizona.

 

     

 

 

Putting the World on a Paper Standard

Half a century ago one of the most disastrous monetary policy decisions in US history was committed by Richard Nixon.  In a television address, the president declared that the nation would no longer redeem internationally dollars for gold.  Since the dollar was the world’s reserve currency, Nixon’s closing of the “Gold Window” put the world on an irredeemable paper monetary standard.

 

Richard Nixon during his televised speech on the “temporary” closing of the gold window (effectively a debt default). [PT]

 

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Lessons to be Learned from East Asia

The world should take a lesson from how East Asia ran itself in 2020. Japan had no lockdown. None. With an aging population, its death rate has been creeping up for many years. In 2020, it fell by 0.7%, as if Covid-19 was a life-saver.

 

Daily new cases in Singapore – Covid-19 seems to be pretty much under control there. [PT]

 

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Scavengers Out in Full Force

I have just returned from a visit to my family in India. It was hard to escape. To get to the US from India, I needed a COVID test. The Indian government has seriously restricted who can provide COVID testing, treatment, and vaccination. Private doctors and hospitals that are not approved face brutal legal consequences if they provide COVID treatment.

 

India’s experience with the COVID pandemic was particularly unpleasant… [PT]

 

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Shooting from the Hip

[ed. note: the tweets linked below mainly show videos from various lockdown phases]

 

Reminiscent of his demonetization effort in 2016, on 24th March 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, appeared on TV and declared an immediate nationwide curfew. No one was to be allowed to leave wherever he or she happened to be. All flights, trains (after 167 years of continual operation) and road transportation came to a complete, shrieking halt.

 

Stranded in India… [PT]

 

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Value Traps and Economic Ignorance

A financial analyst is often, or at least should be, more of a psychologist than a financial expert. There are companies that I knew fifteen years ago that had inherent value a multiple of what their stocks were trading at. Today, there continues to be similar upside, except that upside targets and share prices are lower. What went wrong?

 

A problem reaches the far North faster than climate change can melt all the ice. [PT]

 

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Dead Men Don’t Spend

The checks went forth yesterday.

And all the peoples rejoiced.

 

Stimulus blinders firmly attached! Let’s go! Mars is within reach! [PT]

 

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The Stress of Losing Billions

Up until the WallStreetBets crowd short squeezed Melvin Capital for a $7 billion loss, Robinhood had it made. But losing billions is stressful. And when your product blows up your customer the clucking that follows comes hot and heavy.

 

A surprise revival of business at Game-Stop… [PT]

 

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Silver Yo-Yo

The price of silver is going up and down like a yo-yo. On Sunday and into the first part of Monday, the price skyrocketed on news that Reddit was touting the metal. But as the data clearly showed, the price was not driven up by retail buying of physical metal.

 

Silver, March futures from Jan 27, 30 minute chart: a lot of volatility, but silver seems to have established a higher low after coming down from the initial spike. [PT]

 

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