Freedom And Sound Money: Two Sides Of A Coin

Freedom And Sound Money: Two Sides Of A Coin Authored by Thorsten Polleit via The Mises Institute, It is impossible to grasp the meaning of the idea of sound money if one does not realize that it was devised as an instrument for the protection of civil liberties against despotic inroads on the part of governments. Ideologically it belongs in the same class with political constitutions and bills of right. So wrote Ludwig von Mises in The Theory of Money and Credit in 1912. And further: The sound-money principle has two aspects. It is affirmative in approving the market's choice of a commonly used medium of exchange. It is negative in obstructing the government's propensity to meddle with the currency system. Against this backdrop, modern day monetary systems appear to have been drifting farther and farther away from the sound money principle in the last decades. In all countries of the so-called free world, money represents nowadays a government controlled irredeemable paper, or "fiat," money standard. The widely held view is that this money system would be compatible with the ideal of a free society and conducive to sustainable output and employment growth. To be sure, there are voices calling for caution. Taking a historical viewpoint, Milton Friedman stated: The world is now engaged in a great experiment to see whether it can fashion a different anchor, one that depends on government restraint rather than on the costs of acquiring a physical commodity. Irving Fisher, evaluating past experience, wrote: "Irredeemable paper money has almost invariably proved a curse to the country employing it." The primary cause for concern rests on a key characteristic of government controlled paper money: the system's unrestrained ability to expand money and credit supply. In contrast, under the (freely chosen) gold standard, money (e.g., gold) supply was expected to increase as well over time, but only in proportion to how the economy expanded—i.e., an increase in money demand, brought about by an increase in economic activity, would bring additional gold supply to the market (by, for instance, increased mining which would become increasingly profitable). As such, the gold standard puts an "automatic break" on money expansion—the latter would be, at least in theory, related to the economy's growth trend. The government controlled fiat money system has no inherent limit to money and credit expansion. In fact, quite the opposite holds true: Central banks, the monopolistic suppliers of governments' money, have actually been deliberately designed to be able to change money and credit supply by actually any amount at any time. To prevent abuse of their unlimited power over the quantity of money supply, most central banks have been granted political independence over the past decades. This has been done in order to keep politicians who, in order to get reelected, from trading off the benefits of a monetary policy induced stimulus to the economy against future costs in the form of inflation. In addition, many central banks have been mandated to seek low and stable inflation—measured by consumer price indices—as their primary objective. These two institutional factors—political independency and the mandate to preserve the purchasing power of money—are now widely seen as proper guarantees for preserving sound money. Be that as it may, Mises's concerns appear as relevant as ever: The dissociation of the currencies from a definitive and unchangeable gold parity has made the value of money a plaything of politics…. We are not very far now from a state of affairs in which "economic policy" is primarily understood to mean the question of influencing the purchasing power of money. Whereas the objective to preserve the value of government controlled paper money appears to be a laudable one, the truth is that it is (virtually) impossible to deliver on such a promise. In fact, there are often overwhelming political-economic incentives for a society to increase its money and credit supply, if possible, in order to influence societal developments according to ideological preset designs rather than relying on free market principles. This very tendency is particularly evidenced by the fact that central banks are regularly called upon to take into account output growth and the economy's job situation when setting interest rates. And these considerations are what seem to cause severe problems in a paper money system if and when there is no clear-cut limit to money and credit expansion. To bring home this point, it is instructive to take a brief look at the relationship between credit and nominal output and "wealth" growth (which is defined here, for simplicity, as gross domestic product plus stock market capitalization). The figure below shows the annual changes of US nominal gross domestic product (GDP) and bank credit in percent from 1974 to the beginning of 2022. As can be seen, both series are positively correlated in the period under review: On average, rising output had been accompanied by rising bank credit and vice versa. It is actually an instructive illustration of the Austrian business cycle theory (ABCT), which holds that the expansion of bank credit is not only closely associated with a boom-and-bust cycle, affecting both real magnitudes and goods prices, but its driving force. Also from 1974 to the beginning of 2022, the following figure shows the US money stock in billions of US dollars and the S&P 500 stock market index. The rising money stock is basically the re of result of the expansion of bank credit—through which new money is created. As can be seen, the development of the money stock trends on the same wavelength as the stock market. Why? On the one hand, the increase in nominal GDP over time is reflected in rising values of corporate valuations. On the other hand, the rising money stock pushes goods prices up, including stock prices. In other words: The stock market performance is—sometimes more so, sometimes less so—attributable to the fiat-money-caused goods price inflation. From the end of 2019 to the first quarter 2022 the US central bank increased the money stock M2 by 43 percent, while the stock market gained 63 percent in the same period. As the increase in the money stock helped inflating nominal GDP, it also translated into (substantially) higher stock prices. In other words: The monetary expansion caused "asset price inflation." Looking at these charts, the message seems to be: The chronic increase in credit and money supply has, on average, been "quite positive" for output and wealth. However, this would be a rather shortsighted interpretation. For a fiat money system, the expansion of credit and money makes a few benefit at the expense of many others. What is more, its "invisible effect" is that it prevents all the economic success and the resulting distributive income and wealth effects that had occurred had there not been an issuance of additional credit and fiat money. As even classical economic theorists warn, a money- and credit-induced stimulus to the economy is (as the ABCT shows) short-lived and will eventually lead to inflation, as outlined by David Hume in 1742: Augmentation (in the quantity of money) has no other effect than to heighten the price of labour and commodities…. in the progress towards these changes, the augmentation may have some influence, by exciting industry, but after the prices are settled … it has no manner of influence. However, the today's intellectual conviction of the economic mainstream, which is dominated by Keynesian economics, is that by lowering interest rates the central bank can stimulate growth and employment. So it does not take wonder that, especially so in periods in which inflation is seen to be "under control," central banks are pressured into an "expansionary" monetary policy to fight recession. In fact, it is widely considered "appropriate" if monetary policy keeps borrowing costs at the lowest level possible. In the work of Mises one finds a well-founded criticism of this broadly held conviction. He writes: Public opinion is prone to see in interest nothing but a merely institutional obstacle to the expansion of production. It does not realize that the discount of future goods as against present goods is a necessary and eternal category of human action and cannot be abolished by bank manipulation. In the eyes of cranks and demagogues, interest is a product of the sinister machinations of rugged exploiters. The age-old disapprobation of interest has been fully revived by modern interventionism. It clings to the dogma that it is one of the foremost duties of good government to lower the rate of interest as far as possible or to abolish it altogether. All present-day governments are fanatically committed to an easy money policy. Mises also outlines what the propensity to lower interest rates and increasing money and credit supply does to the economy. The Austrian school's monetary theory of the trade cycle maintains that it is monetary expansion which is at the heart of the economies' boom and bust cycles. Overly generous supply of money and credit induces what is usually called an "economic upswing." In it's wake, economic growth increases and employment rises. With the liquidity flush, however, come misalignments, a distortion of relative prices, so the theoretical reasoning is. Sooner or later, the artificial money and credit-fueled expansion is unsustainable and turns into a recession. In ignorance and/or in failing to identify the very forces responsible for the economic malaise, namely excessive money and credit creation in the past, falling output and rising unemployment provoke public calls for an even easier monetary policy. Central banks are not in a position to withstand such demands if they do not have any "anchoring"—that is a (fixed) rule which restrains the increase in money and credit supply in day-to-day operations. In the absence of such a limit, central banks, confronted with a severe economic crisis, are most likely to be forced to trade off the growth and employment objective against the preserving the value of money—thereby compromising a crucial pillar of the free society. Seen against this backdrop, today's monetary policy actually resembles a lawless undertaking. The zeitgeist holds that "inflation targeting" (IT)—the so-called state-of-the-art concept, from the point of view of most central banks—will do the trick to prevent monetary policy from causing unintended trouble. In practice, however, IT does not have any external anchor. Under IT, it is the central bank itself that calculates inflation forecasts which, in turn, determine how the bank set interest rates; setting a quantitative limit to money and credit expansion is usually not seen as a policy objective. IT can thus hardly inspire confidence that it will mitigate the threat to the value of paper money stemming from governments (in the form of fraud/misuse) and/or politically independent monetary policy makers (in the form of policy mistakes). The return to "monetary policy without rule" began in the early 1990s, when various central banks abandoned monetary aggregates as a major guide post for setting interest rates. It was argued that "demand for money" had become an unstable indicator in the "short term" and that, as such, money could no longer be used as a yardstick in setting monetary policy, particularly so as policy makers were making interest rate decisions every few weeks. However, that guide post has not been replaced with anything since then. In view of the return of discretion in monetary policy, it might be insightful to quote Hayek's concern; namely, that inflation "is the inevitable result of a policy which regards all the other decisions as data to which the supply of money must be adapted so that the damage done by other measures will be as little noticed as possible." In the long run, such a policy would cause central banks to become "the captives of their own decisions, when others force them to adopt measures that they know to be harmful." Echoing the warning that Ludwig von Mises gave back in The Theory of Money and Credit, Hayek concluded: The inflationary bias of our day is largely the result of the prevalence of the short-term view, which in turns stems from the great difficulty of recognising the more remote consequences of current measures, and from the inevitable preoccupation of practical men, and particularly politicians, with the immediate problems and the achievements of near goals. What can we learn from all this? The inherent risks of today's paper money standard—the very ability of expanding the stock of money and credit at will by actually any amount at any time—are no longer paid proper attention: Putting a limit on the expansion of money and credit does not rank among the essential ingredients for "modern" monetary policy making. The discretionary handling of paper money thus increases the potential for a costly failure substantially. A first step for moving back towards the sound money principle—which is doing justice to the ideal of a free society—would be to make monetary policy limiting—e.g., stopping altogether—money supply growth. Tyler Durden Sun, 05/22/2022 - 09:20.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMay 22nd, 2022

How To Get Rich From Nothing To Millions

The desire to become rich is universal. ‌But‌ ‌that‌ ‌probably impossible if you start with very little or no money. ‌After all, there’s an old saying “you have to have money to make money.” ‌If you don’t already have some cash to work with, you might think you’ll never be able to build significant wealth. […] The desire to become rich is universal. ‌But‌ ‌that‌ ‌probably impossible if you start with very little or no money. ‌After all, there’s an old saying “you have to have money to make money.” ‌If you don’t already have some cash to work with, you might think you’ll never be able to build significant wealth. However, this isn’t entirely true. ‌In spite of having little money to spare, there are steps you can take to ‌‌‌amass ‌a‌ ‌certain‌ ‌amount‌ ‌of wealth‌ ‌over‌ ‌time. That’s not to say that it won’t be easy. Depending on your geographic location, amount of debt, and income, this will be more challenging for some. Still, it’s possible. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q1 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Don’t believe me? Well, Andrew Carnegie, Oprah, Larry Ellison, Dolly Parton, Sheldon Adelson, George Soros, Ralph Lauren, and Shahid Khan all have inspiring rags to riches stories. Some grew up in poverty or had to overcome personal adversity, while others began their careers working below minimum wage. Simply put,‌ if you want to become a millionaire, ‌you‌ ‌have‌ ‌to‌ ‌start‌ ‌somewhere. You may feel as if you are behind others, but be sure not to compare yourself with‌ ‌others. ‌Put your focus on what you can control, like your own finances. After you get started, building wealth may not be as difficult as you thought. With that in mins, let’s look at some steps‌ ‌to‌ ‌get‌ ‌you‌ ‌started from getting rich from nothing to millions. Change your mindset. Changing your money mindset will affect how you see money, as well as how you relate to‌ ‌it. What’s more, it’s been determined that a positive attitude towards money can alleviate‌ ‌financial stress. Why is that a good thing? ‌As a result of avoiding financial stress, you’re‌ ‌likely‌ ‌to: Budget your money Conserve‌ ‌money Plan your shopping before you go Make sure you’re‌ ‌prepared‌ ‌for‌ ‌unexpected‌ ‌expenses For your financial situation to improve, you need to be able to do those things. In short, to know how to get rich from nothing, it’s important to adopt the right mindset. ‌After all, having the confidence that you possess the skills necessary to make money, then following through on the plan, is how you will succeed. ‌As a result, you will need plenty of patience to stay committed. Do the math. After that, crunch the numbers to determine what it takes to reach your seven-figure goal, suggests Grant Cardone, author of “The Millionaire Booklet: How To Get Super Rich.” “For any goal to be achievable, you must believe in its possibility as a realistic and doable goal,” writes Cardone. “The way to do this is simply by doing Million Dollar Math. How many different ways can you collect one million dollars?” According to Cardone, if you can convince 5,000 people to buy a $200 product, you will have $1 million. ‌Alternatively, if 5,000 people paid you $17 a month for a year, then you would also get ‌to‌ ‌$1‌ ‌million. ‌Even though these examples are highly simplified, Cardone’s point remains: “Do the math to create possibility, then create strategy,” says Cardone. Take a financial inventory. You need to know where you’re starting from before you can become rich. ‌An inventory of your financial assets can help you determine if you’re truly starting from 0‌ ‌(or‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌negative)‌ ‌with wealth‌ ‌creation. But, what exactly is a financial inventory? It’s simply an individual financial inventory is a list of all of one’s assets and liabilities. ‌If you want to figure this out, you might list everything you own on one side: A‌ ‌house Cars or other vehicles Bank accounts Investment accounts Collectibles, antiques or other heirlooms Life insurance policies On the other side, you’d list what you owe, including: A mortgage Auto‌ or personal ‌loans A student’s loan Credit cards The cost of medical care Taxes Loans for for your business Using a net worth calculator, you can plug the numbers from both sides in. ‌Using this indicator can show you how close, or how far, you are to reaching your long-term goals for becoming wealthy. Live below your means. Despite the misconception, you don’t have to be a ‌penny pincher or miss out on life experiences when you live below your means. ‌Actually, it “simply means that you’re spending less or equal than you’re making each month,” explains Deanna Ritchie in a previous Due article. “As a result, you aren’t putting yourself into debt by living off of plastic. And more importantly, this will help you create a more stable financial future.” “Of course, living within your means requires discipline and a little sacrifice,” adds Deanna. “However, if you stick with it, you’ll reap the following rewards, in addition to avoiding debt:” Anxiety and stress are reduced. Besides making you more successful, it’s also good for your health. Your credit score won’t be a concern for you. The‌ ‌ability‌ ‌to‌ ‌accumulate‌ ‌wealth. There will be more freedom for you. You’ll be financially secure. Living within your means. The question is how can one truly live within their means without depriving themselves? ‌Let me offer a few suggestions: Use the 50/30/20 rule to create a budget. ‌Spend a half of your income on necessities such as food and shelter, a third on wants, and a quarter on saving. Automate your savings to save money before you spend it. ‌Put another way, put a percentage of your paycheck into a savings or retirement account with automatic deposits. Don’t waste your money on unused expenses, such as gym memberships. Stop‌ ‌trying to keep up with ‌the‌ ‌Joneses. ‌Despite their apparent financial prosperity, they may be hiding their true financial status. They could, in fact, be deeply in ‌debt. Refrain from immediate‌ ‌gratification. ‌If you want to avoid paying full price for groceries, clothing, electronics, or travel, you might wait for a sale. Take advantage of‌ ‌tax‌ ‌deductions. A tax deduction reduces the amount of income that is taxable at the federal and state level. It is often advantageous to invest in retirement plans, make charitable contributions, and contribute to college funding if you are subject to taxes. Restructure‌ ‌your‌ ‌debt. ‌Conveniently repay your debt. ‌Debt consolidation or negotiating a better interest rate with lenders are two examples. Just say “no.” Furthermore, Jeff Rose, CFP® and founder of Good Financial Cents, suggests getting comfortable saying “no”‌ ‌to‌ ‌yourself. “This is important when you are shopping, or just out and about,” he ‌emphasizes. He urges avoiding impulse buys in this instance. ‌For example, buying something you like because it’s not too pricey. “Even worse is the ability to purchase things online nowadays and have it delivered to your doorstep in just a few days,” he adds. “If you do that several times a week, the spending can really add up.” “One trick is to enforce a ‘72 Hour Rule’ on any purchases, especially online items,” he ‌recommends. “If you really think you need to buy , after you add it to your cart make yourself wait 72 hours before you purchase it.” ‌You will be able to tell after three days if you need or if you just want the item (and do not need it). Start saving early. The‌ ‌simplest‌ ‌way‌ ‌to‌ ‌‌‌maximize ‌your‌ ‌savings‌? ‌Start‌ ‌as early as possible. In this way, you can leverage the power of compound interest. ‌Let’s say that you’re twenty years‌ ‌old. ‌Contributing $6,000 annually ($500 a month) for 40 years would result in your total investment being‌ ‌$240,000. Assuming a 7% return, the investment would have grown to more than $1.37 million due to compounding. ‌So, if you saved $500 a month, you would be a millionaire by the age of 57. Enhance‌ ‌your‌ ‌current‌ ‌income. By boosting your income, you can begin the journey towards becoming wealthy. ‌A great way and simple to do this is to ask for a raise at your present‌ ‌job. ‌It’s important that you have an excellent work record and have worked for the company for a while before before asking, though. ‌It is possible that if you are a good employee, they will increase your salary in order to keep you from looking for another position. What if your salary request is denied? ‌Well,‌ ‌if‌ ‌you‌ ‌have‌ ‌been‌ ‌working for your current employer for a long period of time and have done a good job, now is the time to move on to‌ ‌greener‌ ‌pastures. ‌Upgrade your resume and start looking for an opportunity that can give you the pay bump you deserve. If you want to get a better-paying job, you may also consider furthering your education. ‌As an alternative to taking out student loans for college, however, you can consider a career in the trades. Some examples would be an electrician, plumber, HVAC tech, dental assistant, or hairdresser. Also, trade career programs are usually less expensive and take less time to complete than colleges. Create multiple income streams. The old saying about not putting all your eggs in one basket applies to your income. ‌In fact, a millionaire typically ‌has‌ ‌seven‌ ‌streams‌ ‌of‌ ‌income. Why? ‌You create financial stability and grow your wealth faster when you diversify your income. With a side hustle as well as your day job, you can create two income streams instead of relying solely on one. ‌Your side hustle will still provide you with income if you do lose your job for some reason. ‌You‌ ‌can‌ ‌even‌ ‌expand your side hustle to a small business if it’s profitable. Your main job, a side job, passive income, investment accounts, interest from savings accounts, and rental properties are all examples of income streams. ‌The possibilities are endless. To become wealthy, you should establish multiple streams of income. It is important to understand that many get-rich-quick schemes are in fact just that — schemes. Therefore, instead of looking for a get rich quick scheme, focus on building multiple income stream. Invest wisely. Investing your money is a major step towards getting rich from nothing. ‌No matter what your financial situation is, you still can invest‌ ‌to‌ ‌‌‌begin ‌‌‌accumulating ‌wealth. Additionally, you will want to eventually diversify your investments, just as you create multiple income streams. Again, having multiple sources of income allows you to generate more income. Among them are: Stocks Bonds ETFs and mutual funds 401(k) IRAs Real estate Businesses Precious metals Environment, social and governance Just like with savings, investing early will help you build wealth faster. Just don’t let your fear of the stock marker hold you back. Work with a brokerage or robo-advisor to get you started. Avoid inflation. As I’m sure you’re well aware of right now, the price of everyday items rises automatically when inflation hits. ‌Overcoming this hurdle will be a challenge. But it’s doable. Perhaps you should look elsewhere for a less expensive option instead of that very expensive house. ‌Even though you’ll still get equity, it won’t put you in debt. Lifestyle inflation affects those living on minimum wage as well. ‌Even if you can’t trim out a lot of expenses, you can ‌become‌ ‌a‌ ‌millionaire. ‌Just be creative and persistent. If you received a salary increase at your job, you might have chosen to upgrade your vehicle instead of saving all that money. ‌Self-made‌ ‌millionaires‌ ‌avoid this kind of spending. Rather, they save this additional money. Or, they use it to pay down their debt. Almost everyone’s number one concern is food. ‌Food is essential, and your favorite brands may be more expensive than off-brand ones. ‌If you fit within a certain income bracket, you may be eligible for EBT or to receive food stamps from the government. Moreover, this can make it easier for you to save money while you buy food. Meal planning and making freezer meals are other ways to save money on food. If your wallet is hurting at the pump, you can save money on fuel using a gas app to find the best prices. Surround yourself with supporters. Because they are familiar, we often surround ourselves with naysayers and people who keep us down. ‌For anyone who wants to become something they aren’t, it is necessary to surround themselves with people who are already there or are en route. No matter how unlikely your ideas might sound, these people will support you instead of discouraging them. ‌Motivated people help each other achieve their goals and can be an inspiration. In the absence of anyone close to you or in your life who fits this description, do the next best thing. Read about someone who does. ‌Reading‌ ‌biographies‌ ‌of‌ ‌people‌ ‌with similar accomplishments keeps you motivated and on track. Perhaps you’ll even come up with ideas of your own based on their business savvy. ‌Consider people who were not born into wealth and privilege; rather, look for people who had an average life before becoming successful. Ask for help. When it comes to your finances, it’s incredibly easy to become overwhelmed. Case in point, planning for your retirement. With so many investment options and uncertainty, this can be ‌quite stressful. ‌In fact, 60% of working people are uneasy about planning their retirement. ‌In light of these numbers, it’s not surprising that only 25% of Americans say they are confident that they are planning for retirement correctly. This is why it’s so important to seek professional help. ‌Unfortunately, in America, only 29% use a financial advisor, while 65% do not. To ensure you’re making the right financial decisions, you should work with a qualified ‌advisor. A financial advisor can assist you in choosing investments, setting up a budget, and establishing a plan‌ ‌to‌ ‌reach‌ ‌your‌ ‌goals. ‌You can use that money once you’re ready to start investing it, and they can help you maximize its value. Don’t check out. “This is my most important tip,” Melissa Houston writes in Forbes. “Hiring financial help such as accountants and financial advisors does not leave you with the right to check out of the financial activity in your business.” “Nobody will care about your money as much as you do, so never give your financial power away,” adds Houston. ‌Invest the time to educate yourself on money management. Why? When you do, you can see what’s going on and know when an investment isn’t helping you achieve your goals. To sum it up, learning how to get rich is a process. ‌Despite the best financial habits, investments or business ideas, even the most successful ones can‌ ‌fail‌. ‌However, if you get educated and get assistance, you will be more likely to succeed, says Houston. Frequently Asked Questions How many millionaires are there in America? In their latest Global Wealth Report, Credit Suisse estimates there are ‌22 million‌ ‌millionaires‌ ‌in‌ ‌America. ‌That’s means almost 6.5% of the total population is millionaires. And, the amount of millionaires are growing. Why do I want to be a millionaire? Wanting to be a millionaire and knowing the why of becoming a millionaire are two completely different things. ‌For something to be accomplished, one must first understand why they want ‌it. Wanting to be a millionaire just to have a lot of money probably won’t provide you with the necessary drive to achieve it. Instead,‌ ‌take the time to examine why you would like to achieve‌ ‌your‌ ‌goals: Are you looking for financial stability by becoming a millionaire? Do you want to‌ ‌travel‌ ‌more? Are you looking to‌ ‌have‌ ‌more‌ ‌freedom? Is it to‌ ‌give‌ ‌back‌ ‌to‌ ‌your community? It’s also worth watching Simon Sinek’s TED talk on why a clear why is key to success in business. ‌Maybe you can find your own answer there. What’s the easiest way to become a millionaire? Using compound interest as soon as possible is the best way to become a millionaire. ‌Investing early will help you accumulate interest more quickly. ‌Investing early will also increase your interest income. As a rule of thumb, you should save‌ ‌15%‌ ‌of‌ ‌your‌ ‌income. ‌If you cut down on unnecessary expenses and get professional financial advice, you can also reach your million-dollar goal. ‌And, if possible, get a second job if you can upgrade your skills. In order to become a millionaire, how much do I have to invest? In order to become a millionaire, you must invest a certain amount of money based on your current situation. ‌ For instance, younger people have more time to accumulate wealth and a greater tolerance for risk, so they are able to sock away less money. ‌You’ll have to save more money every month if you wait until you’re older. How can I become rich with nothing? You can’t become rich doing nothing unless you come from a very wealthy family, expect to win the lottery, or a successful business idea. ‌If you want to become a millionaire, then you’ll need discipline, a plan, and, possibly, the help of a registered professional who can ‌guide you throughout your journey. Article by John Rampton, Due About the Author John Rampton is an entrepreneur and connector. When he was 23 years old while attending the University of Utah he was hurt in a construction accident. His leg was snapped in half. He was told by 13 doctors he would never walk again. Over the next 12 months he had several surgeries, stem cell injections and learned how to walk again. During this time he studied and mastered how to make money work for you, not against you. He has since taught thousands through books, courses and written over 5000 articles online about finance, entrepreneurship and productivity. He has been recognized as the Top Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine, Finance Expert by Time and Annuity Expert by Nasdaq. He is the Founder and CEO of Due. Updated on May 26, 2022, 2:17 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkMay 26th, 2022

How Breaking Up Big Tech Could Save Global Democracy, According to Proton Founder Andy Yen

This story first appeared in TIME’s Leadership Brief newsletter on May 1. To receive weekly emails of conversations with the world’s top CEOs and business decisionmakers, click here. Andy Yen is the founder and CEO of Proton, the company behind the encrypted email service ProtonMail and a suite of other privacy-focused products that are threatening… This story first appeared in TIME’s Leadership Brief newsletter on May 1. To receive weekly emails of conversations with the world’s top CEOs and business decisionmakers, click here. Andy Yen is the founder and CEO of Proton, the company behind the encrypted email service ProtonMail and a suite of other privacy-focused products that are threatening to turn the data-centric Big Tech industry on its head. Proton’s VPN service is currently one of the most-used privacy tools in Russia, helping millions of Russians evade Kremlin censorship amid the war in Ukraine. Here, in an extended interview excerpt from a profile published earlier this month in TIME, staff writer Billy Perrigo speaks with Yen about the rise of encrypted tech and what it means for the antitrust fight against the likes of Google and Facebook, and the future of the internet. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. For the average user, who might not be extremely clear on what the difference is between ProtonMail and Gmail, can you explain how ProtonMail is different? Google is an advertising company, fundamentally. You like to think that you’re Google’s customer, but you’re not really Google’s customer. What you are is the product that it is selling to its actual customers, which are the advertisers. Proton is a different model. Because our customers are the users, and we are here to serve the users. The challenge that Google will always have is because they’re essentially selling information about you to advertisers, they’re incentivized to essentially violate your privacy to the largest extent permissible by law and by user tolerance in order to extract the most value from your data. Our model is actually to protect your privacy as much as possible, because that is the reason why our customers are paying us. And I think that direct relationship allows for a much better alignment of interests between us as a business and what our customers actually want. Read More: Proton’s CEO Wanted to Fight Dictatorships. Now He’s Fighting Big Tech Too There have been several recent high profile incidents of web services being hacked. And one school of thought is that Google has teams of thousands of cybersecurity hands, and they can patch a vulnerability quickly after it is found. They have the capacity to act much more quickly than a smaller company like yours. Does that make them more secure? The best way to protect data is actually to not have it in the first place. So if we don’t have access to user data, if we’re not collecting and categorizing your most sensitive information, it’s not actually possible for an attacker to steal from Proton something that we do not possess. So a very good angle of protection is privacy first. Because that’s structurally just safer. And using end-to-end encryption everywhere helps with that. I don’t think security is a function of how big a company is, or how much money you have. Security is really your culture, your ethics, the way in which you build software. And what you put first. What many people maybe don’t understand is that privacy and security are actually two sides of the same coin. If you build something that is inherently private, it also tends to be more secure. You’re from Taiwan. Can you explain how that influenced your approach to leading Proton? Coming from Taiwan, you are, in many ways, on the frontlines of the battle between democracy and freedom. In Hong Kong, which is culturally and geographically very close, we saw how, within a very short period of time any semblance of freedom of speech, privacy, disappeared, right. And you saw that once you lost privacy, when you lost freedom of speech, you lost democracy, you lost freedom. So of course being from Taiwan does inform your worldview and your opinion, and I think the reason I created Proton, and the reason that I’m very deeply committed to our mission, is because there is a direct link between what we do and what I see, as ensuring that democracy and freedom can survive in the 21st century. (For coverage of the future of work, visit and sign up for the free Charter newsletter.) Proton recently lent its support to two antitrust bills in the U.S. Congress. Can you explain why? For a long time, people looked at antitrust and privacy as separate issues. And what is becoming more and more clear is that these are actually one issue. Today, if you go out and ask the average consumer, do they trust Google? Do they trust Facebook? Do they feel that their data is being adequately secured? Do they feel like they’re given the right amount of privacy online? The answer is no. People always want more security and privacy. One of the reasons privacy doesn’t really exist much online today is because there’s no competition. It doesn’t really matter how many privacy scandals Facebook has, right? At the end of the day, where else are you going to go? Who else are you going to get your services from? The FTC argued very strongly and correctly, in my mind, that once there was a lack of competition in this space, once Facebook had properly bought up all its competitors, it no longer needed to put emphasis on privacy, because it didn’t matter. What we know is, when there’s more competition, the consumers always win. And I think if we’re able to get more competition within the tech space, consumers around the world will see increased privacy, because all of a sudden, by making it easier for companies like Proton to compete on a level playing field with Google and other companies, Google will have to respond and provide more privacy in order to stay competitive. So I want to turn to Russia and the global instability that we’re witnessing. What role do you see your products playing in cases like the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but also the mass protests in Hong Kong? So in Russia, we have seen a 1,000% increase in the number of Proton VPN users. But Russia is not an isolated instance. It’s not even that unique. f you zoom out and look at just the past 12 months, Russia is probably one of maybe two dozen instances around the world. We have seen a big demand of Proton VPN and ProtonMail, because these are the services that enable a free flow of information. Today, if you want to find the truth in Russia, you need to use a VPN. If you want to communicate securely, you probably have to use a service like ProtonMail. And that’s just the reality. I think what this is really a reflection of is that today, if you look at the global population as a whole, 70% of the people alive on Earth today actually live in a dictatorship. That’s a mind boggling statistic that has actually increased quite a bit over the past couple of decades. I think the development, the proliferation, and also the widespread accessibility of services like Proton, with the values that we are promoting and helping to defend in an increasingly digitized world, is going to be the key towards reversing that trend. There’s been a lot of talk online recently about this new vision for the Internet with web3. What do you make of that? And to what extent do you see that as a viable vision for the future of the Internet? I look at it from a scientific standpoint. You do a lot of experiments. They don’t always succeed. Is that the model of the future? Is that going to work? Too early to tell. But just because it exists doesn’t mean it’s going to succeed. The web is full of examples of things that we thought were going to be the future of the internet that turned out not to be the future of the internet. The way that I think you should view the future is coming back to fundamental problems and fundamental needs, and if these solutions are the best way of solving them or not. If I look at Proton, for example, the fundamental need that we’re solving is privacy. And is privacy a fundamental need? Well, I think it is, I think it’s part of being human. So can I assume that you’re not going to be integrating blockchain into any of your projects anytime soon? Well, we would only do it if it is the best way to solve the actual user need. And what I have seen in a lot of blockchain projects is that often it’s not the best way to solve the actual user need......»»

Category: topSource: timeMay 20th, 2022

"It"s Not The Economy; It"s The Central Banks, Stupid!"

"It's Not The Economy; It's The Central Banks, Stupid!" Authored by Bill Blain via, “Who’s more foolish: the fool or the fool who follows him? Central Banks have one real job: avoid inflation! It’s here, and the consequences will be devasting as conventional rate-hiking wisdom is used to fight a wholly exogenous supply side shock. There may be alternatives, but “credibility” is everything to Central Banks. May the Fourth be with you! It’s Star Wars Day! Which is kind of apt as the global economy feels like it’s about to do a Death Star impression: exploding in a fireball of incandescent fury… all because someone skimped on the design of a monetary policy exhaust vent… You know the rest… Central Banks – Its all about Central Banks It’s all about central banks this week. Today the Fed is set to raise rates by a “massive” 50 bp and announce plans to cut its balance sheet. Tomorrow the Bank of England might go full hog and also hike 50 bp (taking its benchmark rate to 1.25%, the highest since 2009) and announce its Quantitative Tightening Plans. (Forget the ECB for the time being…) Lies ahead does pain and misery… said Yoda. It will get worse. If you think 1% UK rates will even scrape the sides of 8% plus inflation.. think again. Central Banks have only one real job. (Forget all the gibberish about full employment or other such distractions.) They exist to protect economies from the ravages of Galloping Inflation. Inflation is a dread economic disease that consumes empires, destroys nations, and turns sound economies to dust. Yet today, central bankers are hoping they can thread economies through the eye of a rising inflation storm, and inflate away the debt consequences of the last 14 years of monetary experimentation. (Simple bond market rule: inflation makes repaying long dated bonds simple.) It’s going to be a rough ride. There are estimates energy, food and commodities supply instabilities will trigger double-digit inflation by Q3 – which could still accelerate sharply as supply distortions magnify. The likelihood is the global economy slips into recession. Every 50 or so years, inflation returns. That seems to be an irrefutable rule of economic growth. As economies rise and fall in the boom and bust cycles we were once so familiar with, imbalances generate endogenous frictions sufficient to ignite inflation – price rises triggering wage demands, for instance.  Conventional wisdom says there is only one cure – stop the economy overheating by raising rates. It’s a blunt and imperfect tool, but inflation is not a laughing matter…. It needs to be addressed… robustly, say monetarist paladins. While my city contemporaries are scaring their younger staff with tales of 14% interest rates and 19% mortgages, you can feel the whole economy shudder as folk contemplate the implications of higher rates on the value of their pensions and homes. The smarter ones are more worried about job security than at any time during the pandemic. I am terrified what it may mean for my family. I fear our economies lack the resilience we had back then. Anyone with a modicum of understanding knows the crisis is coming. A monetary unravelling is about to occur that going to cost jobs, livelihoods and leave nations perhaps as economically damaged as Ukraine. It feels unavoidable. When it happens, the social consequences will be enormous – and I am seriously concerned about the ability of our “modern” economies like the UK to absorb the coming pressures. Ken Rogoff, ex-IMF economist, is on the wires saying the Fed needs to hike up to 5% to avoid a perfect storm of recessions. (Anyone still using “perfect storm” should probably be shot for the crime of lazy metaphors.) Smarter minds than I say the risks have been allowed to build up by central banks who have been too timid to address inflation and implement appropriate policies – despite seeing this crisis approach. That’s kind of unfair. Central Bankers are not bad people. They did what they could over the past 13 years – trying to stabilise the post Global Financial Crisis economy through a raft of unconventional monetary experimentation, policy choices the likes of which we’d never seen before. NIRP, ZIRP and QE (Negative Real Interest Rates, Zero Real Interest Rates and Quantitative Easing, since you were wondering) were all employed to stabilise the post GFC economy. Without them.. we’d have probably seen a wave of sovereign defaults, deep recession and increased banking failures causing industrial crisis. But there were consequences. During the pandemic, Central Banks played their part with emergency rate cuts and a host of other emergency measures in conjunction with governments; from bounce back loans to furlough programmes. They saved the global economy from a Covid meltdown. But monetary and fiscal interventions since 2008 have had massive consequences and created intense market distortions. They created the financial asset bubbles (that are now deflating) and have distorted the efficient allocation of capital by financial markets. By inflating the value of financial assets they made the rich richer, and the poor relatively poorer. The result has been widening income inequality. We’ve always known that at some stage the distortions of monetary policy would need to be addressed and purged – but… is this really the time to try? Conventional economists – the ones in positions of power in Central Banks and editing national newspapers – are prescribing a course of economic purgatives to address inflation though conventional higher rates. Such conventional policy will drive a wave of business failures, a bankruptcy quake, a redundancy shock, and financial retrenchment. It will be described by politicians as tough medicine, but we will be told it will mitigate inflation and unravel the systemic instabilities that have multiplied in the system as a result of post 2009 experimental monetary policy. It will be look profoundly unfair as the poorest in society will suffer most. It will all be a bit: “To save the global economy, we had to destroy it..” A few brave souls and economic free-thinkers have noted that current inflationary pressures have precious little to do with normal endogenous economic demand factors. The current tsunami of monetary inflation has everything to do with the current round of 3-Sigma exogenous supply shocks – soaring energy and food inflation triggered by the War in Ukraine, and supply chain breakdowns in the wake of Covid. If the global economy could address previous exogenous shock like Covid with constructive monetary policy, why not this exogenous inflation shock? I read a great line from David Janny, a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley, whose stuff I try to read: “The Fed can’t print commodities but they can certainly could expedite a recession.” Trying to treat an anaemic global economy on the verge of collapse though a course of bleeding, leeches and austerity fiscal programmes looks a recipe for social disaster. It hasn’t worked before. The consequences will be economic pain for millions of homeowners as mortgages soar, consumption plumets, unemployment trebles, while inflating away national debt. It’s a painful trade off. So why are central banks going to do it? As I said above, they hope they can navigate this inflation storm, and use it to inflate away debt. It’s no secret national debt has ballooned since the GFC. UK Govt debt has risen from £1 trillion in 2010 to £2.3 trillion today. Yet, the Bank of England currently holds £847 billion of Gilts – UK government debt. If they sell them into the market, that would create the expectation of a shocking and massive supply glut that will have one consequence – pushing up the yield on gilts to astronomical levels. It will mean the UK has to pay much, much more on any future gilt borrowing, severely curtailing the ability of the Government to fund its way through any further exogenous shocks – like war – through Gilt issuance. So, let me once again propose a solution. Every time the UK Treasury raises debt it does so by instructing the Debt Management Office to sell new Gilts. The DMO contacts the markets and sells them the new Gilts in the morning. Let’s say it’s a £10 bln issue. The £10 bln immediately appears on the balance sheet of the UK Treasury as a liability. In the afternoon, the same banks that bought the Gilts in the morning, sell them to The Bank of England (at a small mark-up, of course), where the new Gilts show up as an £10 bln asset on the Bank’s balance sheet. Lightbulb moment: A liability on the Treasury balance sheet and an asset on the Bank’s balance sheet…. That is an accounting issue. It is easily solved. It does mean £10 bln new cash has been added to the economy. (That’s effectively exactly the same as what happens when you borrow £100 from a high street bank – it doesn’t have £100, it “magically” creates it…) Since the current inflation shock is exogenous it doesn’t really matter that £10 bln has been added to the broad money in circulation. It would if the inflation shock was endogenous. Monetarist economists will be swearing at me at this point – they will not agree. Why don’t the Treasury and the Bank simply write off the £847 bln of Gilts the Bank holds – via the simple expedient of the Treasury buying the Gilts back in return for a Zonk – a single penny sized coin bearing the Queen’s head and face value of £847 bln. It could be displayed in the Bank’s rather fine museum. It may have a notional value of £847 bln, but be worthless and priceless at the same time. The UK’s national debt will then fall to a perfectly manageable level, allowing the country to combat this exogenous financial shock with supportive and appropriate policies. But, of course it won’t happen. That’s because Central Banks care most about their credibility. No Central Bank would dare take such a radical step if it might cost credibility, on the basis that if a national central bank loses credibility, then the currency will collapse, triggering a further inflationary tidal wave and a loss of national prestige.. But.. I bet the Fed, the ECB and BOJ are all thinking about it.. Tyler Durden Wed, 05/04/2022 - 08:48.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 4th, 2022

Gordon Chang: What To Do About China

Gordon Chang: What To Do About China Authored by Gordon Chang via The Gatestone Institute, Since about 2018, Chinese officials have been talking about the moon and Mars as sovereign Chinese territory, part of the People's Republic of China. This means that China considers those heavenly bodies to be like the South China Sea. This also means that China will exclude other nations from going to the moon and Mars if they have the capability to do so. We do not have to speculate about that: Chinese officials say this is what they are going to do. [W]hen Biden says, "Oh, the Chinese just want to compete with us," he is wrong. They do not want to "compete" within the international system. They do not even want to change that system... They want to overthrow it altogether, period. Is Xi Jinping really that bold... to start another war? ... First, China considers the United States to be its enemy. Second the United States is no longer deterring China. China feels it has a big green light to do whatever it wants. We Americans don't pay attention to propaganda... After all, these are just words. At this particular time, these words... [suggest] to me that China is laying the justification for a strike on the United States. We keep ignoring what Beijing is saying. We kept ignoring what Osama bin Laden was saying. We have to remember that the Chinese regime, unlike the Japanese, always warn its adversaries about what it is going to do The second reason war is coming is that America's deterrence of China is breaking down. Di's message was that with cash, China can do anything it wants, and that all Americans would take cash. He mentioned two words in this regard: Hunter Biden. In February, [Biden] had a two‑hour phone call with Xi Jinping. By Biden's own admission, he didn't raise the issue of the origins of COVID‑19 even once. If you are Xi Jinping, after you put down the receiver, your first thought is, "I just got away with killing hundreds of thousands of Americans." We have news that China is building something like 345 missile silos in three locations: in Gansu, Xinjiang, and in Inner Mongolia. These silos are clearly built to accommodate the DF‑41. The DF‑41 has a range of about 9,300 miles, which means that it can reach any part of the United States. The DF‑41 carries 10 warheads. This means that China could, in about two years..., have a bigger arsenal than ours. ...we have to assume the worst because Chinese leaders and Chinese generals, on occasion, unprovoked, have made threats to nuke American cities. In July, 2021 China tested a hypersonic glide warhead, which circled the world. This signals China intends to violate the Outer Space Treaty, to which China is a party. As of today, more than eight million people have died outside China. What happened? No one imposed costs on China. For at least a half‑decade, maybe a little bit longer, Chinese military researchers have been openly writing about a new type of biological warfare....They talk about a new type of biological warfare of "specific ethnic genetic attacks." In other words, pathogens that will leave the Chinese immune but sicken and kill everybody else, which means that the next disease from China can be a civilization killer. A lot of military analysts talk about how the first seconds of a war with China are going to be fought in outer space. They are going to blind our satellites, take them down, do all sorts of stuff. Those statements are wrong. The first day of war against the United States occurs about six months earlier, when they release pathogens in the United States. Then we are going to have that day in space. The war starts here, with a pathogen ‑‑ a virus, a microbe, a bug of some kind. That is where it begins. The One‑China policy is something many people misunderstand. Probably because Beijing uses propaganda to try to fuzzy up the issue.... China has a One‑China principle: that Taiwan is part of the People's Republic of China, full stop. We have a One‑China policy..., that the status of Taiwan is unresolved.... that the resolution of the status of Taiwan must be with the consent of people on both sides of the Strait. We need a policy of "strategic clarity," where we tell China that we will defend Taiwan. We also say we will extend a mutual defense treaty to Taiwan if it wants it, and we will put American troops on the island as a tripwire. We are Americans. We naturally assume that there are solutions, and good solutions, to every problem. After three decades of truly misguided China policy, there are no ... solutions that are "undangerous." ...The current trend of policy is unsustainable. There will be no American republic if we continue to do what we are currently doing and if we continue to allow China to do what it does. I do not think that enforcing a trade deal will start World War III. China has not met its obligations. As of a few months ago, China had met about 62% of its commitments..... We should be increasing the tariffs that President Trump imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Remember, those tariffs are meant to be a remedy for the theft of US intellectual property. China has continued to steal US IP. As matter of fact, it has gotten worse... I do not think that we should be trying to foster integration of Wall Street into China's markets.... Do not take it from me, just look at their failure to comply with very simple, easy‑to‑comply-with requirements. It was a mistake. The best response would be if we hit them with everything at once because China right now is weak. If we were going to pick the number one thing to do, I would think trade. China now has a debt crisis, so they are not going to invest their way out of this crisis, which means the only way they can save their economy is net exports. We should stop buying their stuff. China has bought the political establishment in the Solomon Islands, except for one brave man named David Suidani. Recently, somebody got the bright idea of publishing all of the specific payments that Beijing has made to Solomon Islands politicians.... We should be doing this with payments to American politicians, we should be doing this across the board. What bothers me is that, although their assumptions about China have demonstrably been proven wrong, American policymakers still continue with the same policies. There is, in some people's mind, an unbreakable view that we have to cooperate with China.... This is what people learn in international relations school when they go to Georgetown, and they become totally stupid. Clearly, Nike and Apple and other companies are now, at this very moment, trying to prevent Congress from enacting toughened rules on the importation of forced‑labor products into our country. Moreover, the Chinese regime is even more casualty‑averse than we are. Even if Beijing thinks it can take Taiwan by force, it is probably not going to invade because it knows an invasion would be unpopular with most people in China. It is not going to risk hundreds of thousands of casualties that would result from an invasion. Unfortunately..., we taught the Chinese that they can without cost engage in these dangerous maneuvers of intercepting our planes and our ships. That is the problem: because as we have taught the Chinese to be more aggressive, they have been. [W]e should have made it clear to the Chinese leadership that they cannot kill Americans without cost. Hundreds of thousands Americans have been killed by a disease that China deliberately spread. From October 2020 to October 2021, more than 105,000 Americans died from fentanyl -- which China has purposefully, as a matter of state and Communist Party policy -- sold to Americans... we have to change course. I would close China's four remaining consulates. I would also strip the Chinese embassy down to the ambassador and his personal staff. The thousands who are in Washington, DC, they would be out. I would also raise tariffs to 3,600%, or whatever. This is a good time to do it. We have supply chain disruptions. We are not getting products from China anyway. We can actually start to do this sort of stuff. I would... just hammer those guys all the time verbally. People may think, "Those are just words." For communists, words are really important, because they are an insecure regime where propaganda is absolutely critical. I would be going after the Communists on human rights, I would be going after them on occupying the South China Sea, on Taiwan, unrelentingly -- because I would want to show the world that the United States is no longer afraid of China.... State Department people, they are frightened. We need to say to the Chinese regime, like Dulles, "I'm not afraid of you. I'm going after you, and I'm going to win." Is Xi Jinping really that bold... to start another war?... First, China considers the United States to be its enemy. Second the United States is no longer deterring China. China feels it has a big green light to do whatever it wants. All the conditions for history's next great war are in place. Jim Holmes, the Wiley Professor at the Naval War College, actually talks about this period as being 1937. 1937 was the year in which if you were in Europe or America, you could sense the trouble. If you were in Asia in 1937, you would be even more worried, because that year saw Japan's second invasion of China that decade. No matter where you lived, however, you could not be sure that the worst would happen, that great armies and navies around the world would clash. There was still hope that the situation could be managed. As we now know, the worst did happen. In fact, what happened was worse than what anyone thought at the time. We are now, thanks to China, back to 1937. We will begin our discussion in Afghanistan. Beijing has had long‑standing relations with the Afghan Taliban, going back before 9/11, and continuing through that event. After the US drove the Taliban from power and while it was conducting an insurgency, China was selling the group arms, including anti‑aircraft missiles, that were used to kill American and NATO forces. China's support for killing Americans has continued to today. In December 2020, Indian Intelligence was instrumental, in Afghanistan, in breaking up a ring of Chinese spies and members of the Haqqani Network. The Trump administration believed that the Chinese portion of that ring was actually paying cash for killing Americans. What can happen next? We should not be surprised if China gives the Taliban an atomic weapon to be used against an American city. Would they be that vicious? We have to remember that China purposefully, over the course of decades, proliferated its nuclear weapons technology to Pakistan and then helped Pakistan sell that Chinese technology around the world to regimes such as Iran's and North Korea's. Today, China supports the Taliban. We know this because China has kept open its embassy in Kabul. China is also running interference for the Taliban in the United Nations Security Council. It is urging countries to support that insurgent group with aid. It looks as if the Taliban's main financial backers these days are the Chinese. Beijing is hoping to cash in on its relationship in Central Asia. Unfortunately, there is a man named Biden, who is helping them. In early August, Biden issued an executive order setting a goal that by 2030, half of all American vehicles should be electric‑powered. To be electric‑powered, we need rare earth minerals, we need lithium. As many people have said, Afghanistan is the Saudi Arabia of rare earths and lithium. If Beijing can mine this, it makes the United States even more dependent on China. It certainly helps the Taliban immeasurably. Unfortunately, Beijing has more than just Afghanistan in mind. The Chinese want to take away our sovereignty, and that of other nations, and rule the world. They actually even want to rule the near parts of the solar system. Yes, that does sound far‑fetched, but, no, I'm not exaggerating. Chinese President Xi Jinping would like to end the current international system. On July 1, in a landmark speech, in connection with the centennial of China's ruling organization, he said this: "The Communist Party of China and the Chinese people, with their bravery and tenacity, solemnly proclaim to the world that the Chinese people are not only good at taking down the old world, but also good in building a new one." By that, China's leader means ending the international system, the Westphalian international system. It means he wants to impose China's imperial‑era notions of governance, where Chinese emperors believed they not only had the Mandate of Heaven over tianxia, or all under Heaven, but that Heaven actually compelled the Chinese to rule the entire world. Xi Jinping has been using tianxia themes for decades, and so have his subordinates, including Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who in September 2017 wrote an article in Study Times, the Central Party School's influential newspaper. In that article, Wang Yi wrote that Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy ‑‑ a "thought" in Communist Party lingo is an important body of ideological work ‑‑ Wang Yi wrote that Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy made innovations on and transcended the traditional theories of Western international relations of the past 300 years. Take 2017, subtract 300 years, and you almost get to 1648, which means that Wang Yi, with his time reference, was pointing to the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, which established the current system of sovereign states. When Wang Yi writes that Xi Jinping wants to transcend that system, he is really telling us that China's leader does not want sovereign states, or at least no more of them than China. This means that when Biden says, "Oh, the Chinese just want to compete with us," he is wrong. They do not want to "compete" within the international system. They do not even want to change that system so it is more to their liking. They want to overthrow it altogether, period. China is also revolutionary with regard to the solar system. Since about 2018, Chinese officials have been talking about the moon and Mars as sovereign Chinese territory. In other words, as part of the People's Republic of China. This means that China considers those heavenly bodies to be like the South China Sea: theirs and theirs alone. This also means that China will exclude other nations from going to the moon and Mars if they have the capability to do so. We do not have to speculate about that: Chinese officials say this is what they are going to do. Let us return to April 2021. Beijing announced the name of its Mars rover. "We are naming the Mars rover Zhurong," the Chinese said, "because Zhurong was the god of fire in Chinese mythology, " How nice. Yes, Zhurong is the god of fire. What Beijing did not tell us is that Zhurong is also the god of war—and the god of the South China Sea. Is Xi Jinping really that bold or that desperate to start another war? Two points. First, China considers the United States to be its enemy. The second point is that the United States is no longer deterring China. China feels it has a big green light to do whatever it wants. On the first point, about our enemy status, we have to go back to May 2019. People's Daily, the most authoritative publication in China, actually carried a piece that declared a "people's war" on the US. This was not just some isolated thought. On August 29th 2021, People's Daily came out with a landmark piece that accused the United States of committing "barbaric" acts against China. Again, this was during a month of hostile propaganda blasts from China. On the August 29th, Global Times, which is controlled by People's Daily, came right out and also said that the United States was an enemy or like an enemy. We Americans don't pay attention to propaganda. The question is, should we be concerned about what China is saying? After all, these are just words. At this particular time, these words are significant. The strident anti‑Americanism suggests to me that China is laying the justification for a strike on the United States. We keep ignoring what Beijing is saying. We kept ignoring what Osama bin Laden was saying. We have to remember that the Chinese regime, unlike the Japanese, always warn its adversaries about what it is going to do. Jim Lilley, our great ambassador to Beijing during the Tiananmen Massacre, actually said that China always telegraphs its punches. At this moment, China is telegraphing a punch. That hostility, unfortunately, is not something we can do very much about. The Chinese Communist regime inherently idealizes struggle, and it demands that others show subservience to it. The second reason war is coming is that America's deterrence of China is breaking down. That is evident from what the Chinese are saying. In March of 2021, China sent its top two diplomats, Yang Jiechi and Wang Yi, to Anchorage to meet our top officials, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Yang, in chilling words, said the US could no longer talk to China "from a position of strength." We saw the same theme during the fall of Kabul. China then was saying, "Look, those Americans, they can't deal with the insurgent Taliban. How can they hope to counter us magnificent Chinese?" Global Times actually came out with a piece referring to Americans: "They can't win wars anymore." We also saw propaganda at that same time directed at Taiwan. Global Times was saying, again, in an editorial, an important signal of official Chinese thinking, "When we decide to invade, Taiwan will fall within hours and the US will not come to help." It is probably no coincidence that this propaganda came at the time of incursions into Taiwan's air-defense identification zone. We need to be concerned with more than just the intensity and with the frequency of these flights, however. We have to be concerned that China was sending H‑6K bombers; they are nuclear‑capable. Something is wrong. Global Times recently came out with an editorial with the title, "Time to warn Taiwan secessionists and their fomenters: war is real." Beijing is at this moment saying things heard before history's great conflicts. The Chinese regime right now seems to be feeling incredibly arrogant. We heard this on November 28th in 2020, when Di Dongsheng, an academic in Beijing, gave a lecture live-streamed to China. Di showed the arrogance of the Chinese elite. More importantly, he was showing that the Chinese elite no longer wanted to hide how they felt. Di, for instance, openly stated that China could determine outcomes at the highest levels of the American political system. Di's message was that with cash, China can do anything it wants, and that all Americans would take cash. He mentioned two words in this regard: Hunter Biden. Unfortunately, President Joe Biden is reinforcing this notion. China, for instance, has so far killed nearly one million Americans with a disease that it deliberately spread beyond its borders. Yet, what happened? Nothing. We know that China was able to spread this disease with its close relationship with the World Health Organization. President Trump, in July of 2020, took us out of the WHO. What did Biden do? In his first hours in office, on January 20th, 2021, he put us back into the WHO. In February, he had a two‑hour phone call with Xi Jinping. By Biden's own admission, he didn't raise the issue of the origins of COVID‑19 even once. If you are Xi Jinping, after you put down the receiver, your first thought is, "I just got away with killing hundreds of thousands of Americans." Then there's somebody named John Kerry. Our republic is not safe when John Kerry carries a diplomatic passport, as he now does. He is willing to make almost any deal to get China to sign an enhanced climate arrangement. Kerry gave a revealing interview to David Westin of Bloomberg on September 22, 2021. Westin asked him, "What is the process by which one trades off climate against human rights?" Climate against human rights? Kerry came back and said, "Well, life is always full of tough choices in the relationship between nations." Tough choices? We Americans need to ask, "What is Kerry willing to give up to get his climate deal?" Democracies tend to deal with each other in the way that Kerry says. If we are nice to a democracy, that will lead to warm relations; warm relations will lead to deals, long‑standing ties. Kerry thinks that the Chinese communists think that way. Unfortunately, they do not. We know this because Kerry's successor as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in February 2009, said in public, "I'm not going to press the Chinese on human rights because I've got bigger fish to fry." She then went to Beijing a day after saying that and got no cooperation from the Chinese. Even worse, just weeks after that, China felt so bold that it attacked an unarmed US Navy reconnaissance vessel in the South China Sea. The attack was so serious that it constituted an act of war. The Chinese simply do not think the way that Kerry believes they do. All of this, when you put it together, means that the risk of war is much higher than we tend to think. Conflict with today's aggressor is going to be more destructive than it was in the 1930s. We have news that China is building something like 345 missile silos in three locations: in Gansu, Xinjiang, and in Inner Mongolia. These silos are clearly built to accommodate the DF‑41. The DF‑41 has a range of about 9,300 miles, which means that it can reach any part of the United States. The DF‑41 carries 10 warheads. This means that China could, in about two years, as some experts think, have a bigger arsenal than ours. China has built decoy silos before. We are not sure they are going to put all 345 missiles into these facilities, but we have to assume the worst because Chinese leaders and Chinese generals, on occasion, unprovoked, have made threats to nuke American cities. This, of course, calls into question their official no‑first‑use policy, and also a lot of other things. China will not talk to us about arms control. We have to be concerned that China and Russia, which already are coordinating their military activities, would gang up against us with their arsenals. In July, 2021 China tested a hypersonic glide warhead, which circled the world. This signals China intends to violate the Outer Space Treaty, to which China is a party. It also shows that in hypersonic technology, which was developed by Americans, China is now at least a decade ahead of us in fielding a weapon. Why is China doing all this now? The country is coming apart at the seams. There is, for instance, a debt crisis. Evergrande and other property developers have started to default. It is more than just a crisis of companies. China is basically now having its 2008. Even more important than that, they have an economy that is stumbling and a food crisis that is worsening year to year. They know their environment is exhausted. Of course, they also are suffering from a continuing COVID‑19 epidemic. To make matters worse, all of this is occurring while China is on the edge of the steepest demographic decline in history in the absence of war or disease. Two Chinese demographers recently stated that China's population will probably halve in 45 years. If you run out those projections, it means that by the end of the century, China will be about a third of its current size, basically about the same number of people as the United States. These developments are roiling the political system. Xi Jinping is being blamed for these debacles. We know he has a low threshold of risk. Xi now has all the incentive in the world to deflect popular and regime discontent by lashing out. In 1966, Mao Zedong, the founder of the People's Republic, was sidelined in Beijing. What did he do? He started the Cultural Revolution. He tried to use the Chinese people against his political enemies. That created a decade of chaos. Xi Jinping is trying to do the same thing with his "common prosperity" program. The difference is that Mao did not have the means to plunge the world into war. Xi, with his shiny new military, clearly does have that ability. So here is a 1930s scenario to consider. The next time China starts a conflict, whether accidentally or on purpose, we could see that China's friends -- Russia, North Korea, Iran, Pakistan -- either in coordination with China or just taking advantage of the situation, move against their enemies. That would be Ukraine in the case of Russia, South Korea in the case of North Korea, Israel in the case of Iran, India in the case of Pakistan, and Morocco in the case of Algeria. We could see crises at both ends of the European landmass and in Africa at the same time. This is how world wars start. *  *  * Question: Why do you believe China attacked the world with coronavirus? Chang: I believe that SARS‑CoV‑2, the pathogen that causes COVID‑19, is not natural. There are, for example, unnatural arrangements of amino acids, like the double‑CGG sequence, that do not occur in nature. We do not have a hundred percent assurance on where this pathogen came from. We do, however, have a hundred percent assurance on something else: that for about five weeks, maybe even five months, Chinese leaders knew that this disease was highly transmissible, from one human to the next, but they told the world that it was not. At the same time as they were locking down their own country ‑‑ Xi Jinping by locking down was indicating that he thought this was an effective way of stopping the disease -- he was pressuring other countries not to impose travel restrictions and quarantines on arrivals from China. It was those arrivals from China that turned what should have been an epidemic confined to the central part of China, into a global pandemic. As of today, more than eight million people have died outside China. What happened? No one imposed costs on China. For at least a half‑decade, maybe a little bit longer, Chinese military researchers have been openly writing about a new type of biological warfare. This was, for instance, in the 2017 edition of "The Science of Military Strategy," the authoritative publication of China's National Defense University. They talk about a new type of biological warfare of "specific ethnic genetic attacks." In other words, pathogens that will leave the Chinese immune but sicken and kill everybody else, which means that the next disease from China can be a civilization killer. Remember, Xi Jinping must be thinking, "I just got away with killing eight million people. Why wouldn't I unleash a biological attack on the United States? Look what the virus has done not only to kill Americans but also to divide American society." A lot of military analysts talk about how the first seconds of a war with China are going to be fought in outer space. They are going to blind our satellites, take them down, do all sorts of stuff. Those statements are wrong. The first day of war against the United States occurs about six months earlier, when they release pathogens in the United States. Then we are going to have that day in space. The war starts here, with a pathogen ‑‑ a virus, a microbe, a bug of some kind. That is where it begins. Question: You mentioned 1939. Taiwan is the Poland of today. We get mixed signals: Biden invites the Taiwanese foreign minister to his inauguration, but then we hear Ned Price, his State Department spokesman, say that America will always respect the One‑China policy. Meaning, we're sidelining defending Taiwan? Chang: The One‑China policy is something many people misunderstand. Probably because Beijing uses propaganda to try to fuzzy up the issue. China has a One‑China principle: that Taiwan is part of the People's Republic of China, full stop. We have a One‑China policy, which is different. We recognize Beijing as the legitimate government of China. We also say that the status of Taiwan is unresolved. Then, the third part of our One‑China policy is that the resolution of the status of Taiwan must be with the consent of people on both sides of the Strait. In other words, that is code for peace, a peaceful resolution. Our policies are defined by the One‑China policy, the Three Communiques, Reagan's Six Assurances, and the Taiwan Relations Act. Our policy is difficult for someone named Joe Biden to articulate, because he came back from a campaign trip to Michigan, and he was asked by a reporter about Taiwan, and Biden said, "Don't worry about this. We got it covered. I had a phone call with Xi Jinping and he agreed to abide by the Taiwan agreement." In official US discourse, there is no such thing as a "Taiwan agreement." Some reporter then asked Ned Price what did Biden mean by the Taiwan agreement. Ned Price said, "The Taiwan agreement means the Three Communiques the Six Assurances, the Taiwan Relations Act, and the One‑China policy." Ned Price could not have been telling the truth because Xi Jinping did not agree to America's position on Taiwan. That is clear. There is complete fuzziness or outright lying in the Biden administration about this. Biden's policies on Taiwan are not horrible, but they are also not appropriate for this time. decades, we have had this policy of "strategic ambiguity," where we do not tell either side what we would do in the face of imminent conflict. That worked in a benign period. We are no longer in a benign period. We are in one of the most dangerous periods in history. We need a policy of "strategic clarity," where we tell China that we will defend Taiwan. We also say we will extend a mutual defense treaty to Taiwan if it wants it, and we will put American troops on the island as a tripwire. Question: You think he is not saying that because he has no intention of actually doing it, so in a way, he is telling the truth? Chang: The mind of Biden is difficult to understand. We do not know what the administration would do. We have never known, after Allen Dulles, what any administration would do, with regard to Taiwan. We knew what Dulles would have done. We have got to be really concerned because there are voices in the administration that would give Taiwan, and give other parts of the world, to China. It would probably start with John Kerry; that is only a guess. Question: You mentioned earlier the growing Chinese economic problems. Would you use taking action on the enormous trade deficits we run with China to contribute to that problem? Chang: Yes, we should absolutely do that. Go back to a day which, in my mind, lives in infamy, which is January 15th, 2020, when President Trump signed the Phase One trade deal, which I think was a mistake. In that Phase One trade deal, it was very easy for China to comply, because there were specific targets that China had to meet in buying US goods and services. This was "managed trade." China has not met its obligations. As of a few months ago, China had met about 62% of its commitments. That means, they have dishonored this deal in a material and significant way. If nothing else, China has failed to meet its Phase One trade deal commitments. We should be increasing the tariffs that President Trump imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Remember, those tariffs are meant to be a remedy for the theft of US intellectual property. China has continued to steal US IP. As matter of fact, it has gotten worse: for instance, these Chinese anti‑lawsuit injunctions, which they have started to institute. We need to do something: China steals somewhere between $300 to $600 billion worth of US intellectual property each year. That is a grievous wound on the US economy, it is a grievous wound on our society in general. We need to do something about it. Question: As a follow‑up on that, Japan commenced World War II because of the tariffs Roosevelt was strapping on oil imports into Japan, do you think that might well have the same effect on China, where we do begin to impose stiffer tariffs on American imports? Chang: That is a really important question, to which nobody has an answer. I do not think that China would start a war over tariffs. Let me answer this question in a different way. We are Americans. We naturally assume that there are solutions, and good solutions, to every problem. After three decades of truly misguided China policy, there are no good solutions. There are no solutions that are "undangerous." Every solution, going forward, carries great risk. The current trend of policy is unsustainable. There will be no American republic if we continue to do what we are currently doing and if we continue to allow China to do what it does. I do not think that enforcing a trade deal will start World War III. The point is, we have no choice right now. First, I don't think the Chinese were ever going to honor the Phase One agreement . This was not a deal where there were some fuzzy requirements. This deal was very clear: China buys these amounts of agricultural products by such and such date, China buys so many manufactured products by such and such date. This was not rocket science. China purposefully decided not to honor it. There are also other issues regarding the trade deal do not think that we should be trying to foster integration of Wall Street into China's markets, which is what the Phase One deal also contemplated. Goldman Sachs ran away like a bandit on that. There are lot of objections to it. I do not think we should be trading with China, for a lot of reasons. The Phase One trade deal, in my mind, was a great mistake. Do not take it from me, just look at their failure to comply with very simple, easy‑to‑comply-with requirements. It was a mistake. Question: Concerning cybersecurity, as we saw in the recent departure of a Pentagon official, ringing the alarm on how we are completely vulnerable to China's cyberattacks. From your perspective, what would an attack look like on China that would hurt them? What particular institutions would be the most vulnerable? Is it exposing their secrets? Is it something on their financial system? Is it something on their medical system or critical infrastructure? What does the best way look like to damage them? Also, regarding what you mentioned about Afghanistan, we know that China has been making inroads into Pakistan as a check on American hegemony in relationships with India and Afghanistan. Now that the Afghanistan domino is down, what do you see in the future for Pakistan's nuclear capability, in conjunction with Chinese backing, to move ever further westward towards Afghanistan, and endangering Middle East security? Chang: Right now, India has been disheartened by what happened, because India was one of the main backers of the Afghan government. What we did in New Delhi was delegitimize our friends, so that now the pro‑Russian, the pro‑Chinese elements in the Indian national security establishment are basically setting the tone. This is terrible. What has happened, though, in Pakistan itself, is not an unmitigated disaster for us, because China has suffered blowback there. There is an Afghan Taliban, and there is a Pakistani Taliban. They have diametrically‑opposed policies on China. The Afghan Taliban is an ally of China; the Pakistani Taliban kill Chinese. They do that because they want to destabilize Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. Beijing supports Islamabad. The calculation on part of the Pakistani Taliban is, "We kill Chinese, we destabilize Islamabad, we then get to set up the caliphate in Pakistan." What has happened is, with this incredible success of the Afghan Taliban, that the Pakistani Taliban has been re‑energized -- not good news for China. China has something called the China‑Pakistan Economic Corridor, part of their Belt and Road Initiative. Ultimately that is going to be something like $62 billion of investment into Pakistani roads, airports, electric power plants, utilities, all the rest of it. I am very happy that China is in Pakistan, because they are now dealing with a situation that they have no solutions to. It's like Winston Churchill on Italy, "It's now your turn." We should never have had good relations with Pakistan. That was always a short‑term compromise that, even in the short term, undermined American interests. The point is that China is now having troubles in Pakistan because of their success in Afghanistan. Pakistan is important to China for a number of reasons. One of them is, they want it as an outlet to the Indian Ocean that bypasses the Malacca Strait -- a choke point that the US Navy ‑‑ in their view ‑‑ could easily close off, which is correct. They want to bypass that, but their port in Gwadar is a failure in many respects. Gwadar is in Pakistan's Baluchistan. The Baluchs are one of the most oppressed minorities on earth. They have now taken to violence against the Chinese, and they have been effective. Pakistan is a failure for China. The best response would be if we hit them with everything at once because China right now is weak. If we were going to pick the number one thing to do, I would think trade. Trade is really what they need right now. Their economy is stalling. There are three parts to the Chinese economy, as there are to all economies: consumption, investment, and net exports. Their consumption right now is extremely weak from indicators that we have. The question is can they invest? China now has a debt crisis, so they are not going to invest their way out of this crisis, which means the only way they can save their economy is net exports. We should stop buying their stuff. We have extraordinary supply chain disruptions right now. It should be pretty easy for us to make the case that we must become self‑sufficient on a number of items. Hit them on trade. Hit them on investment, publicize the bank account details of Chinese leaders. All these things that we do, we do it all at the same time. We can maybe get rid of these guys. Question: In the Solomon Islands, they published China's under-the-table payments to political figures. Should we do the same thing with China's leaders? Chang: Yes. There is now a contest for the Solomon Islands, which includes Guadalcanal. China has bought the political establishment in the Solomon Islands, except for one brave man named David Suidani. Recently, somebody got the bright idea of publishing all of the specific payments that Beijing has made to Solomon Islands politicians. This was really good news. We should be doing this with payments to American politicians, we should be doing this across the board. Why don't we publish their payments to politicians around the world? Let's expose these guys, let's go after them. Let's root out Chinese influence, because they are subverting our political system. Similarly, we should also be publishing the bank account details of all these Chinese leaders, because they are corrupt as hell. Question: Could you comment, please, on what you think is the nature of the personal relationships between Hunter Biden, his father, and Chinese financial institutions. How has it, if at all, affected American foreign policy towards China, and how will it affect that policy? Chang: There are two things here. There are the financial ties. Hunter Biden has connections with Chinese institutions, which you cannot explain in the absence of corruption. For instance, he has a relationship with Bohai Harvest Partners, BHR. China puts a lot of money into the care of foreign investment managers. The two billion, or whatever the number is, is not that large, but they only put money with people who have a track record in managing investments. Hunter Biden only has a track record of being the son of Joe Biden. There are three investigations of Hunter Biden right now. There is the Wilmington US Attorney's Office, the FBI -- I don't place very much hope in either of these – but the third one might actually bear some fruit: the IRS investigation of Hunter Biden. Let us say, for the moment, that Biden is able to corrupt all three of these investigations. Yet money always leaves a trail. We are going to find out one way or another. Peter Schweizer, for instance, is working on a book on the Biden cash. Eventually, we are going to know about that. What worries me is not so much the money trail -- and of course, there's the art sales, a subject in itself, because we will find out. What worries me is that Hunter Biden, by his own admission, is a troubled individual. He has been to China a number of times. He has probably committed some embarrassing act there, which means that the Ministry of State Security has audio and video recordings of this. Those are the things that can be used for blackmail. We Americans would never know about it, because blackmail does not necessarily leave a trail. This is what we should be most concerned about. Biden has now had two long phone calls with Xi Jinping. The February call, plus also one a few months ago. We do not know what was said. I would be very worried that when Xi Jinping wants to say something, there will be a phone call to Biden, and it would be Xi doing the talking without note takers. Question: Please tell us about the China desk over the 30 years, the influence of the bureaucracy on politics; what can they affect? Chang: I do not agree with our China policy establishment in Washington, in general, and specifically the State Department and NSC. This a complicated issue. First, there is this notion after the end of the Cold War, that the nature of governments did not matter. You could trade with them, you could strengthen them, and it would not have national security implications. That was wrong for a number of reasons, as we are now seeing. What bothers me is that, although their assumptions about China have demonstrably been proven wrong, American policymakers still continue with the same policies. There is, in some people's mind, an unbreakable view that we have to cooperate with China. You hear this from Blinken all the time: "We've got to cooperate where we can." It is this formulation which is tired, and which has not produced the types of policies that are necessary to defend our republic. That is the unfortunate thing. This is what people learn in international relations school when they go to Georgetown, and they become totally stupid. We Americans should be upset because we have a political class that is not defending us. They are not defending us because they have these notions of China. George Kennan understood the nature of the Soviet Union. I do not understand why we cannot understand the true nature of the Chinese regime. Part of it is because we have Wall Street, we have Walmart, and they carry China's water. There are more of us than there are of them in this country. We have to exercise our vote to make sure that we implement China policies that actually protect us. Policies that protect us are going to be drastic and they will be extreme, but absolutely, we have now dug ourselves into such a hole after three decades of truly misguided views on China, that I don't know what else to say. This is not some partisan complaint. Liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, all have truly misguided China policies. I do not know what it takes to break this view, except maybe for the deaths of American servicemen and women. Question: Is the big obstacle American businesses which, in donations to Biden, are the ones stopping decoupling of commerce, and saying, "Do not have war; we would rather earn money"? Chang: It is. You have, for instance, Nike. There are a number of different companies, but Nike comes to mind right now, because they love to lecture us about racism. For years they were operating a factory in Qingdao, in the northeastern part of China, that resembled a concentration camp. The laborers were Uighur and Kazakh women, brought there on cattle cars and forced to work. This factory, technically, was operated by a South Korean sub‑contractor, but that contractor had a three‑decade relationship with Nike. Nike had to know what was going on. This was forced labor, perhaps even slave labor. Clearly, Nike and Apple and other companies are now, at this very moment, trying to prevent Congress from enacting toughened rules on the importation of forced‑labor products into our country. One of the good things Trump did was, towards the end of his four years, he started to vigorously enforce the statutes that are already on the books, about products that are made with forced and slave labor. Biden, to his credit, has continued tougher enforcement. Right now, the big struggle is not the enforcement, but enhancing those rules. Apple and all of these companies are now very much trying to prevent amendment of those laws. It's business, but it's also immoral. Question: It is not just big Wall Street firms. There are companies that print the Bible. Most Bibles are now printed in China. When President Trump imposed the tariffs, a lot of the Bible printers who depended on China actually went to Trump and said, "You cannot put those tariffs in because then the cost of Bibles will go up." Chang: Most everyone lobbies for China. We have to take away their incentive to do so. Question: What are the chances that China's going to invade Taiwan? Chang: There is no clear answer. There are a number of factors that promote stability. One of them is that, for China to invade Taiwan, Xi Jinping has to give some general or admiral basically total control over the Chinese military. That makes this flag officer the most powerful person in China. Xi is not about to do that. Moreover, the Chinese regime is even more casualty‑adverse than we are. Even if Beijing thinks it can take Taiwan by force, it is probably not going to invade because it knows an invasion would be unpopular with most people in China. It is not going to risk hundreds of thousands of casualties that would result from an invasion. The reason we have to be concerned is because it is not just a question of Xi Jinping waking up one morning and saying, "I want to invade Taiwan." The danger is the risk of accidental contact, in the skies or on the seas, around Taiwan. We know that China has been engaging in hostile conduct, and this is not just the incursions into Taiwan's air-defense identification zone. There are also dangerous intercepts of the US Navy and the US Air Force in the global commons. One of those accidents could spiral out of control. We saw this on April 1st, 2001, with the EP‑3, where a Chinese jet clipped the wing of that slow‑moving propeller plane of the US Navy. The only reason we got through it was that George W. Bush, to his eternal shame, paid China a sum that was essentially a ransom. He allowed our crew to be held for 11 days. He allowed the Chinese to strip that plane. This was wrong. This was the worst incident in US diplomatic history, but Bush's craven response did get us through it. Unfortunately, by getting through it we taught the Chinese that they can without cost engage in these dangerous maneuvers of intercepting our planes and our ships. That is the problem: because as we have taught the Chinese to be more aggressive, they have been. One of these incidents will go wrong. The law of averages says that. Then we have to really worry. Question: You don't think Xi thinks, "Oh well, we can sacrifice a few million Chinese"? Chang: On the night of June 15th, 2020, there was a clash between Chinese and Indian soldiers in Ladakh, in the Galwan Valley. That was a Chinese sneak attack on Indian-controlled territory. That night, 20 Indian soldiers were killed. China did not admit to any casualties. The Indians were saying that they killed about 45 Chinese soldiers that night. Remember, this was June 15th of 2020. It took until February of 2021 for China to admit that four Chinese soldiers died. TASS, the Russian news agency, recently issued a story reporting that 45 Chinese soldiers actually died that night. This incident shows you how risk‑averse and casualty‑averse the Chinese Communist Party is. They are willing to intimidate, they are willing to do all sorts of things. They are, however, loath to fight sustained engagements. Remember, that the number one goal of Chinese foreign policy is not to take over Taiwan. The number one goal of Chinese foreign policy is to preserve Communist Party rule. If the Communist Party feels that the Chinese people are not on board with an invasion of Taiwan, they will not do it even if they think they will be successful. Right now, the Chinese people are not in any mood for a full‑scale invasion of Taiwan. On the other hand, Xi Jinping has a very low threshold of risk. He took a consensual political system where no Chinese leader got too much blame or too much credit, because everybody shared in decisions, and Xi took power from everybody, which means, he ended up with full accountability, which means -- he is now fully responsible. In 2017, when everything was going China's way, this was great for Xi Jinping because he got all the credit. Now in 2021, where things are not going China's way, he is getting all the blame. The other thing, is that Xi has raised the cost of losing a political struggle in China. In the Deng Xiaoping era, Deng reduced the cost of losing a struggle. In the Maoist era, if you lost a struggle, you potentially lost your life. In Deng's era, if you lost a struggle, you got a nice house, a comfortable life. Xi Jinping has reversed that. Now the cost of losing a political struggle in China is very high. So there is now a combination of these two developments. Xi has full accountability. He knows that if he is thrown out of power, he loses not just power. He loses his freedom, his assets, potentially his life. If he has nothing to lose, however, it means that he can start a war, either "accidentally" or on purpose. He could be thinking, "I'm dying anyway, so why don't I just roll the dice and see if I can get out of this?" That is the reason why this moment is so exceedingly risky. When you look at the internal dynamics inside China right now, we are dealing with a system in crisis. Question: China has a conference coming up in a year or so. What does Chairman Xi want to do to make sure he gets through that conference with triumph? Chang: The Communist Party has recently been holding its National Congresses once every five years. If the pattern follows -- and that is an if -- the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party will be held either October or November of next year. This is an important Congress, more so than most of them because Xi Jinping is looking for an unprecedented third term as general secretary of the Communist Party. If you go back six months ago, maybe a year, everyone was saying, "Oh, Xi Jinping. No problem. He's president for life. He's going to get his third term. He will get his fourth term. He will get his fifth term, as long as he lives. This guy is there forever." Right now, that assumption is no longer valid. We do not know what's going to happen because he is being blamed for everything. Remember, as we get close to the 20th National Congress, Xi Jinping knows he has to show "success." Showing "success" could very well mean killing some more Indians or killing Americans or killing Japanese or something. We just don't know what is going to happen. Prior to the National Congress, there is the sixth plenum of the 19th Congress. Who knows what is going to happen there. The Communist Party calendar, as you point out, does dictate the way Xi Jinping interacts with the world. Question: Going back to the wing-clip incident, what should Bush have done? Chang: What Bush should have done is immediately demand the return of that plane. What he should have done was to impose trade sanctions, investment sanctions, whatever, to get our plane back. We were fortunate, in the sense that our aviators were returned, but they were returned in a way that has made relations with China worse, because we taught the Chinese regime to be more aggressive and more belligerent. We created the problems of today and of tomorrow. I would have imposed sanction after sanction after sanction, and just demand that they return the plane and the pilots. Remember, that at some point, it was in China's interests to return our aviators. The costs would have been too high for the Chinese to keep them. We did not use that leverage on them. While we are on this topic, we should have made it clear to the Chinese leadership that they cannot kill Americans without cost. Hundreds of thousands Americans have been killed by a disease that China deliberately spread. In one year, from 2020 to 2021, nearly 80,000 Americans died from fentanyl, which China has purposefully, as a matter of state and Communist Party policy -- sold to Americans. China is killing us. We have to do something different. I'm not saying that we have good solutions; we don't. But we have to change course. Question: Biden is continuing this hostage thing with Huawei, returning the CFO of Huawei in exchange for two Canadians. Have we taught the Chinese that they can grab more hostages? Chang: President Trump was right to seek the extradition of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies. Biden, in a deal, released her. She did not even have to plead guilty to any Federal crime. She signed a statement, which I hope we'll be able to use against Huawei. As soon as Meng was released, China released the "two Michaels," the two Canadians who were grabbed within days of our seeking extradition of Meng Wanzhou. In other words, the two Michaels were hostages. We have taught China that any time that we try to enforce our own laws, they can just grab Americans. They have grabbed Americans as hostages before, but this case is high profile. They grabbed Americans, and then they grabbed Canadians, and they got away with it. They are going to do it again. We are creating the incentives for Beijing to act even more dangerously and lawlessly and criminally in the future. This has to stop. Question: On the off-chance that the current leader does not maintain his position, what are your thoughts on the leaders that we should keep an eye on? Chang: There is no one who stands out among the members of the Politburo Standing Committee. That is purposeful. Xi Jinping has made sure that there is nobody who can be considered a successor; that is the last thing he wants. If there is a change in leadership, the new leader probably will come from Jiang Zemin's Shanghai Gang faction. Jiang was China's leader before Hu Jintao, and Hu came before Xi Jinping. There is now a lot of factional infighting. Most of the reporting shows that Jiang has been trying to unseat Xi Jinping because Xi has been putting Jiang's allies in jail. Remember, the Communist Party is not a monolith. It has a lot of factions. Jiang's faction is not the only one. There is something called the Communist Youth League of Hu Jintao. It could, therefore, be anybody. Question: Double question: You did not talk about Hong Kong. Is Hong Kong lost forever to the Chinese Communist Party? Second question, if you could, what are the three policies that you would change right away? Chang: Hong Kong is not lost forever. In Hong Kong, there is an insurgency. We know from the history of insurgencies that they die away -- and they come back. We have seen this in Hong Kong. The big protests in Hong Kong, remember, 2003, 2014, 2019. In those interim periods, everyone said, "Oh, the protest movement is gone." It wasn't. China has been very effective with its national security law, but there is still resistance in Hong Kong. There is still a lot of fight there. It may not manifest itself for quite some time, but this struggle is not over, especially if the United States stands behind the people there. Biden, although he campaigned on helping Hong Kong, has done nothing. On the second question, I would close China's four remaining consulates. I would also strip the Chinese embassy down to the ambassador and his personal staff. The thousands who are in Washington, DC, they would be out. I would also raise tariffs to 3,600%, or whatever. This is a good time to do it. We have supply chain disruptions. We are not getting products from China anyway. We can actually start to do this sort of stuff. The third thing, I would do what Pompeo did, just hammer those guys all the time verbally. People may think, "Those are just words." For communists, words are really important, because they are an insecure regime where propaganda is absolutely critical. I would be going after the Communists on human rights, I would be going after them on occupying the South China Sea, on Taiwan, unrelentingly -- because I would want to show the world that the United States is no longer afraid of China. We have taught the world that we are afraid of dealing with the Chinese. State Department people, they are frightened. We need to say to the Chinese regime, like Dulles, "I'm not afraid of you. I'm going after you, and I'm going to win." Tyler Durden Sun, 05/01/2022 - 23:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 2nd, 2022

Slave-Coin Or Freedom-Coin: Which Way Western Man?

Slave-Coin Or Freedom-Coin: Which Way Western Man? Authored by Aleksandar Svetski via Bitcoin Magazine, Modern society must make the decision to succumb to centralized digital money, or rally around the freedom and sovereignty of bitcoin... We as individuals in a modern society becoming more technocratically dystopian by the day, will inevitably be faced with a choice. Succumb to the allure of a centrally owned and issued digital money (panopticoin) or a truly sovereign, organic, digital money with roots in the physical (Bitcoin). The west is no longer The West. It no longer even deserves to be capitalized. What made it great and successful, the Enlightenment values and the sovereignty of the individual, are all but dissolved in the morass of modernity’s mindlessness. Gone are the days of excellence, greatness and “standing out.” In are the days of conformity, compliance, “acceptance,” participation awards and “fitting in.” The values and virtues that made the West great have been replaced with the incessant cry for comfort and convenience, in return for obedience. The crescendo of this horrific orchestra is nigh. Gaslighting is the norm, and like Orwell predicted, War is now peace, Freedom is now slavery, Ignorance is now strength. In place of the article, I could just stick a bunch of images up…but alas…I am a writer. Collage by author Collage by author WOKE IDEOLOGY IN THE WEST The west was not defeated by a single blow. It was death by a thousand minute and meaningless cuts. From pronouns to equality, scientism, welfare, climate alarmism, political correctness, this incessant need to deconstruct objective reality into completely arbitrary subjective falsehoods has transformed the once-great West into a cesspool of moral relativism. When everything matters, nothing matters. It truly has become clownworld. Source: @nvk Twitter We used to aspire to greatness and excellence. We were interested in the idea of quality, of worth and of value. Now: there is no more value — like the money we conjure out of thin air and use to measure human action and all resources. Everything has been supposedly made “abundant” (because we have no anchor to real cost) and as a result, we’re drowning in excess quantities of fake wealth and junk that does not matter, whether this be NFTs, moronic media, reality TV, garbage music, fake celebrities, brainwashing at school, nursing-home-level politicians or scamdemics. And because we spend all our time lying to ourselves and burning through real resources, we’re simultaneously suffering from shortages in areas that do matter — energy, food, responsibility, intelligence and courage. We used to be pioneers. We used to envision our place in the stars. Now we bicker and worry about our place in the dirt: It’s a sad time for humanity, and dare I say that only god knows when we come out on the other end, if we do so at all. THE GREAT BIFURCATION The empire of lies cannot last, and it will collapse either on top of all of us, or atop only some. I sincerely hope the latter for the only meaningful and realistic goal we have left, as sovereign intelligent individuals, is to limit the collateral damage. As we embark on this pursuit, and as the collapse of these false orders inevitably occur, it’s my belief that Homo sapiens will bifurcate into two primary camps, and perhaps even species (after many generations): Homo Hystericus/Homo Lemmingus Homo Bitcoinicus The former are the classic mid-wit/NPC/shitcoiner/statist persona — those who lack personal control and restraint, and as such project that lack onto the rest of the world. A key characteristic is the yearning to reduce the diverse constituents of a complex organism into simple numbers, and transform these systems into mere spreadsheets. They are the doctors who believe health is the absence of disease, that disease is the absence of modern medicine and that depression is the absence of Prozac or MDMA. They lack the capacity to think holistically and they view all fractal, complex systems as linear and isolated from the whole. They have major control issues because they lack self-control, and thus compensate by attempting to control others. They are willing to trade the diversity and complexity of life for sterility and linearity of control. Homo Bitcoinicus on the other hand will be the kind of individual who continues to become more robust, sovereign and self-reliant. They will be too busy practicing self-mastery and building something of value to bother with meddling in other people’s lives. They will live more local, they will own the product of their labor, they will trade freely and they will have no master. They will own stuff and be happy. And of course, among Homo Bitcoinicus there will be diverse classes of people arranged into hierarchies of competence. They will not be built upon some arbitrary authority-by-decree, but via the emergence of natural leaders and masters of their craft. This is what nobility means in the classical sense. To be noble is something to aspire toward, not something to sneer at. To be noble is to pursue excellence and greatness. It is my hope that the “New West” will be both built and populated by Homo Bitcoinicus. But before we get there, there will be a significant price to pay. I’ve experienced first-hand the vitriolic nihilism, short-termism and mindlessness from lemmings who believe in fantasies like “pumpamentals,” surveillance states, digital identities and Ponzi schemes. These meaningless, empty pursuits have an allure to the masses which will be hard for Bitcoin’s core value proposition to compete with. Most of these people don’t want responsibility. They don't produce anything.They want a leader (overlord)- They want UBI. They want to be told what to do and they want a safety net provided by their masters. Enter crypto… THE PRIMARY ATTACK VECTOR Wonder Boy + Tech + Blockchain + VCs + WEF + Academia + UBI If that’s a “prince,” we know exactly how sickly both the world and “crypto” are. The ideal way to ensure the sheep get led to the slaughter is to encourage them to run in that direction themselves. In fact, if those sheep have some actual wealth and resources, you may even be able to get them to buy their own ticket to the slaughterhouse. This is what Ethereum and the broader VC-backed shitcoin industry is:An expensive ticket to your own spot in the techno-gulags of the 21st century. Synthetic wombs, bugs, soylent and the metaverse await you. Here’s your Bored Ape jpeg, a copy of Harari’s 21 Lessons and proof of iris-scan. You may now proceed to your pod. Collage by author. Meet your new masters. For all the crypto-bros, whether larping about freedom or chasing “muh gains,” — congratulations. Seriously. You’re trading your freedom for some monopoly money, and trading Klaus Schwab for Vitalik Buterin. There is no honor or courage in this. Furthermore, there is no morality. There is only the loss of one’s soul. Free money and airdrops are tools to get you sucked into the racket. Nothing in life comes for free; there is always a cost. In this case, it will be the cost of your own sovereignty. A lemming will always trade their freedom for the free scraps wiped off the (network) table at which your overlords eat. Don’t be one of them. And if you can avoid that siren call, then have the courage to not be one of the opportunists who acquires the scraps first to sell to the others. That does not make you better. Men with integrity are those who can show restraint, and in a world where sound values are continually being eroded and structures are falling apart, restraint is an asset the best of us must necessarily possess. CRYPTO = GLOBALIST DICTATORSHIP Bitcoin = Individual Freedom. At the center of the divide for “Western Man” lies this choice: Crypto or Bitcoin This may sound like an exaggerated statement, but it’s true. Legacy fintech will dissolve and be absorbed into this new technological paradigm, irrespective of how moronic it is and the quantity of smoke and mirrors used to obfuscate their real operation. Bitcoin fundamentally changed everything, and one of the unfortunate trade-offs that had to be made in open-sourcing money, was a world where the money-printer would in a sense be “democratized.” It’s made it easier for any dweeb to just spin up their own shitcoin, get some funding and roll it out; as such the legitimacy of national currencies issued by nation-states will continue to diminish. The only option available to legacy finance and central banking is to either partner with organizations such as ConsenSys (which they are already doing), or simply fund them, whether overtly or covertly. This is the “attack vector” that not enough intelligent people are talking about. I made it clear to Pomp on his podcast about a year ago now, and if anything, my suspicions have proved accurate: If you’re supporting these shitcoins, then you are in fact part of the problem. You’re adding liquidity, you’re justifying their existence, and you’re making the Overton window more inclusive for scammers, idiots and the literal enemy. Crypto is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and the sheeple are falling for it, hook, line and sinker. WHY DO WE HAVE BITCOIN IN THE FIRST PLACE? There are many reasons, but to sum up a few of them, Bitcoin is: The removal of “rulers” or “issuers” of money. The removal of monetary inflation. The de-monopolization of money, forever. The placement of money into the realm of physical and natural laws. The fusion of energy (universal “physical” currency) to money (in the metaphysical sense). The magnitude of this achievement is staggering and the inability for people to comprehend it is both mind-numbingly frustrating, but also expected, considering the nihilistic pets humans have become. Perhaps the words on this page jolt you. Or perhaps I’m yelling at clouds. I do not know, but I will try my best to remind you that fiat is the enemy, in every sense of the word and in every incarnation. Shitcoins are just replicating the fiat we already have, but on a more digital standard, in a clear attempt to build technocratic oligarchies. Do you want to give one of these nerds, who are no different than Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, ultimate power over you? Supporting shitcoins is not only a path to financial bankruptcy, but it is morally bankrupt. You’re supporting not only the scammers who create them, but you’re helping lead other sheep to the slaughter and you’re just slowing down the best chance we have to break the abomination that is the state. “The construct” discussion by Morpheus in the original “Matrix” movie is likely the best quote in the history of film and I bring it up in almost every fifth article I write. But it rings so true. Those in the system will fight to save it, even though they are enslaved by it and you are trying to free them from their shackles! It’s mind-boggling, but I guess that’s what happens when everybody is in a constant trance. Zombies walk forth blindly and the very meaning of the images they see and the words they hear are changed. The word “crypto” for example used to be short for cryptography or crypto-anarchy. It’s now shorthand for cryptocurrencies, which unfortunately boils down to: Outright Ponzi schemes. Idiot ideas run by naive nerds. A machination of a globalist government. I don’t know which exactly is the most potentially harmful, but I’d venture to say the last one. Ethereum, for example, is one of the more pernicious of these machinations. Not only is the “Ethereum Foundation” (the existence of a foundation should give away what this thing is) infused with World Economic Forum participants, but Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin founded ConsenSys which owns Infura which practically the entire Ethereum network runs on. Lubin is part of the old guard: worked at Goldman Sachs and I believe is in bed with the agencies attempting to reduce the world into a spreadsheet and humans into numbers to populate it with (WEF, BlackRock, et al.). How is any of this antifragile? How is this in any way related to what Bitcoin stands for? How are you sovereign when the foundation upon which the promise to you has been made is literally owned by a couple of people. You are another product, in the same way you’re Zuckerberg’s product on Facebook. Charles Hoskisson and his “Cordanoh” shitcoin is another example. Here’s Hoskinson talking at Davos in 2020 about social credit systems being built on blockchains. If you didn’t know, Davos is the annual meeting put on by the WEF, where insiders and parasites fly in with private jets to talk about how the rest of us should own nothing, reduce our carbon footprint and be happy eating bugs. “Blockchain for social good.” These charlatans (Hoskinson is in his early 30s by the way; the whole late-40s professor look is a charade) and the think tanks they put together are either: Ignorant, arrogant fools with access to too much money, who believe you’re too stupid to decide what “good” is, so they must build a system that enforces their definition of “social good” on your behalf. Malicious, malevolent maniacs with access to too much money, whobelieve you’re too stupid to decide what “good” is, so they must build a system that enforces their definition of “social good” on your behalf. Either way, their wet dreams of globalist techno-utopias are panopticons in the making. Hoskinson claims that his goal is to build a “global stock market, a global venture capital for the poorest people in the world” by implementing a so-called self-sovereign identity on the network he owns “and pair that with the tracking and traceability and the ability to know that people are spending money correctly.” Thank you, oh lord Hoskinson. Without you, I would never know how to spend the product of my own labor. I would simply starve, naked and alone on the streets. That’s how dumb these people think we all are. …..unfortunately, for the Homo Hystericus subset of humanity, they may be right. BITCOIN VERSUS SHITCOIN (ETHEREUM AS AN EXAMPLE) They are not the same. And if you’re a shitcoiner, we are not the same. 1. THE RULING CLASS Ethereum changes nothing about the legacy financial and governance system, other than using some bitcoin-like technology for payments and the replacement of old-school bankers and politicians with nerds and new-school, globalist politicians, like Aya Miyaguchi, a board member of the Ethereum Foundation and member of the World Economic Forum (the think tank behind lockdowns, climate change hysteria and injection mandates). In fact, the very existence of an “Ethereum foundation” tells you enough about what this project is. It’s a private company (like the Federal Reserve) disguised as a startup-like get-rich-quick scheme, designed to use your money to fund their way into control. Been telling this for how long now? Crypto is an attack on #bitcoin Wake up. We are not the same. — ......... (@GhostofSvetski) January 18, 2022 We’ve seen what happens when the ruling class of Ethereum (its founders) don’t like the outcome. From the DAO hack to the multiple hard forks, to the transitions of “what Ethereum is.” It all just represents a new cabal that is there to run your life. 2. ENFORCEABILITY AND VERIFIABILITY Bitcoin is special not because it has a “fixed supply,” but because its fixed supply is both verifiable and enforceable. Verifiable with a single request, that your full node can ping back immediately. Enforceable because your full node runs Bitcoin. Not Infura. The fact that it’s in sync with other full nodes means that you have a global Bitcoin network. You cannot run an Ethereum Node, nor can you even know the supply. Pierre Rochard tore them apart in 2020-2021 when he asked an honest question to the Ethereum community about the total supply. Hundreds of different answers came back, followed by an uproar about “that doesn’t matter.” Well that’s fantastic. These idiots literally built a monetary network which functions just like the old system, except slower and a little more open/accessible. Congratulations sir, you got played. 3. PROOF-OF-STAKE VERSUS PROOF-OF-WORK Proof-of-stake is literally the definition of central banking, just in a digital capacity. In fact, it’s even worse because the entity that created, pre-mined and launched the currency is the one that ultimately runs the network and can do so with minimal checks and balances. With Ethereum, you’ve got the ruling class, who pre-mined 70% of the coin, who still own most of it, who run all (like four…lol) of the nodes, who operate the foundation and are now going to hard fork and move Ethereum onto proof-of-stake, where those with the most “stake,” i.e., the ruling class, get to make all the decisions. How do you think things play out when the incentives are structured as such? Proof-of-stake as a means for reaching monetary consensus is a cancer because it is untethered to the only true universal currency that exists: energy. The destruction of society, of families, of the environment and of the very fabric of society emerges from waste. The greatest source of waste comes from the edifice that supports and is supported by fiat money. Because there is no cost of production, it does not map or translate to resource or energy utilization. Because it can be conjured out of thin air and is used to measure things that cannot be conjured up, we proceed to burn through both human resources (time, intelligence, effort) and scarce natural resources (matter and energy), none the wiser. It’s a tragedy. Supporting Ethereum and any of these other coins is simply getting behind modalities that operate on the same premises. More rulers, who will waste more resources → and we’re back to where we are today. A tragedy of the commons with a leaky valve installed by modern parasites. The result will only be more unnatural inequality thanks to what I’m going to call The Buterin Effect (a modern version of the “Cantillon effect”). Proof of stake + Pre-mines + Rulers = The Buterin Effect = Unnatural Inequality IN CLOSING Bitcoin is anarchy in its purest form. Crypto is predicated on the idea of rulers. Bitcoin is predicated on the idea of voluntary rules. All cryptos fundamentally work on the idea of a governing body and are interested in developing abstracted means of social consensus that are unrelated to raw work or energy utilization. Bitcoin functions on the basis that the individual governs themselves and consensus is achieved through voluntary agreement, and participation is priced through work and energy expenditure in the real world. That’s how digital and physical are anchored. Crypto is being designed for Homo Hystericus; Ethereum, specifically, is basically PanoptiCoin. It’s a tool used to trick the lemmings away from bitcoin and walk them right into Slave Coin, with a new set of rulers, who can change the rules whenever they want to, mid-game. Bitcoin on the other hand, offers an even entry, enforceable and verifiable rules, proof-of-work (so no cheating, no seigniorage and no unfair advantages), a fixed supply and no “ruler” to change the rules. Take your pick. Freedom Coin or Slave Coin. As I said on stage at Bitcoin 2021, the line that will divide those who are free and those who are slaves, will be those who have bitcoin and those who do not. So…Which Way, Western Man? Will you be a serf for Vitalik, Klaus, A16Z or Hoskinson? Will you trade your labor for some Ethereum (or similar) and await your airdropped UBI, like a good little pet? Or: Will you be a sovereign individual who owns himself, his wealth and his property? Each has a price. One short term, the other long term. Choose wisely... *  *  * Aleks Svetski is the author of “The UnCommunist Manifesto”, The Bitcoin Times, and Host of Tyler Durden Tue, 04/19/2022 - 18:10.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytApr 19th, 2022

Whither Bitcoin?

Whither Bitcoin? Authored by Eric Yakes via, The world stands on the precipice of a monetary restructuring, with bitcoin seemingly the most likely to be adopted... albeit slowly. INTRODUCTION The world is reorganizing. People are attempting to comprehend the implications of recent events across a variety of dimensions: politically, geopolitically, economically, financially and socially. A feeling of uncertainty has eclipsed global affairs and individuals are developing an increased reliance on the thoughts of those bold enough to attempt comprehension. Experts are everywhere, but the expert is nowhere. I am not claiming to be an expert on anything, either. I read, write and do my best to piece together an understanding of vague and complex concepts. I’ve spent some time reading and thinking through various concepts and believe we are witnessing an inflection point of global trust. My goal is to explain the framework that led me to this conclusion. I’ll generally avoid discussing geopolitics and focus on the monetary and financial implications of this shift we are witnessing. The best place to start is understanding trust. THE WORLD RUNS ON TRUST We are witnessing a shift in global trust, setting the table for a new global monetary order. Consider Antal Fekete’s introduction from his seminal work Whither Gold?: “The year 1971 was a milestone in the history of money and credit. Previously, in the world's most developed countries, money (and hence credit) was tied to a positive value: the value of a well-defined quantity of a good of well-defined quality. In 1971 this tie was cut. Ever since, money has been tied not to positive but to negative values -- the value of debt instruments.” Debt instruments (credit) are built on trust — the most fundamental construct of organization. Organization allowed humanity to genetically eclipse its ancestors. Relationships, whether between individuals or groups, hinge on trust. Societies developed technologies and social structures to reduce the need for trust through reputations, security and money. Reputations reduce the need to trust because they represent an individual’s pattern of behavior: You trust some people more than others because of how they’ve acted in the past. Security reduces the need to trust that others will not hurt you in some form. You build a fence because you don’t trust your neighbors. You lock your car because you don’t trust your community. Your government has a military because it doesn’t trust other governments. Security is the price you pay to avoid the costs of vulnerability. Money reduces the need to trust that an individual will return a favor to you in the future. When you provide an individual a good or service, rather than trusting that they will return it to you in the future, they can immediately trade money to you, eliminating the need to trust. Stated differently, money reduces the need to trust that positive outcomes will happen while reputations and security reduces the need to trust that negative outcomes won’t happen. When money became entirely unanchored from gold in 1971, the value of money became a function of reputations and security, requiring trust. Before then, money was tied to the commodity gold, which maintained value through its well-defined quality and well-defined quantity and therefore didn’t require trust. Trust at a global level appears to be shifting across reputations and security, and thus credit money: Reputations — countries are trusting each other’s reputations less. The U.S. government’s reputation throughout recent history has been a global pillar of political stability and standard of financial and economic prudency. This is changing. The rise of U.S. populism has hindered its reputation as a politically stable country that allies depend on and rivals fear. Unprecedented economic and financial policy measures (e.g., bailouts, deficit spending, monetary inflation, debt issuance, etc.) are causing international powers to question the stability of the U.S. financial system. A hindrance to the reputation of the U.S. is a hindrance on the value of its money, to be discussed below. Security — countries are witnessing a contraction in global military order. The U.S. has been reducing its military presence and the world is shifting from a unipolar to a multipolar structure of order. The U.S.’ withdrawal of its military presence abroad has reduced its role as the monitor of international order and given rise to the military presence of rival nations. Reducing the assurance of its military presence internationally reduces the value of the dollar. Money — countries are losing trust in the international monetary order. Money has existed as either a commodity or credit (debt). Commodity money is not subject to trust through the reputations and security of governments while credit money is. Our modern system is entirely credit-based and the credit of the U.S. is the pillar upon which it exists. If the global reserve currency is based on credit, then the reputation and security of the U.S. is paramount to maintaining international monetary order. Trust in political and financial stability impacts the value of the dollar as does its holders’ demand for liquidity and stability. However, it’s not just U.S. credit money that is losing trust; it’s all credit money. As political and financial stability decline, we are witnessing a shift away from credit money entirely, incentivizing the adoption of commodity money. U.S. DEBT IS NOT RISK FREE Most recently, the reputation of U.S. credit has declined in an unprecedented way. Foreign governments historically trusted that the U.S. government’s debt is risk free. When financial sanctions froze Russia’s foreign exchange reserves, the U.S. undermined this risk-free reputation, as even reserves are now subject to confiscation. The ability to freeze the reserve assets of another country removed a foreign government’s right to either repay its debts or spend those assets. Now, international observers are realizing that these debts are not risk free. As the debt of the U.S. government is what backs its currency, this is a significant cause for concern. When the U.S. government issues debt, and demand from domestic and foreign buyers of it isn’t strong enough, the Federal Reserve prints money to purchase it in the open market and generate demand. Thus, the more U.S. debt countries are willing to buy, the stronger the U.S. dollar becomes — requiring less money printing by the Fed to indirectly enable government spending. Trust in the U.S. government’s credit has now been damaged, and thus so has the credit of the dollar. Further, trust in credit is declining in general, leaving commodity money as the more trustless option. First, I will examine this shift in the U.S. which applies specifically to its reputation and security, and then discuss the shifts in global credit (money). U.S. Dollar Dominance Will foreign governments attempt to de-dollarize? This question is complex as it not only requires an understanding of the global banking and payment systems but also maintains a geopolitical background. Countries around the world, both allies and rivals, have strong incentives to end global dollar hegemony. By utilizing the dollar a country is subject to the purview of the U.S. government and its financial institutions and infrastructure. To better understand this, let’s start by defining money: The above figure from my book shows the three functions of money as a store of value, medium of exchange and unit of account, as well as the supporting monetary properties of each below them. Each function plays a role in international financial markets: Store of Value — fulfilling this function drives reserve currency status. U.S. currency and debt is ~60% of global foreign reserves. A country will denominate its foreign exchange reserve assets in the most creditworthy assets — defined by their stability and liquidity. Medium of Exchange — this function is closely tied to being a unit of account. The dollar is the dominant invoicing currency in international trade and the euro is a close second, both of which fluctuate around ~40% of total. The dollar is also 64% of foreign currency debt issuance, meaning countries mostly denominate their debt in dollars. This creates demand for the dollar and is important. Since the U.S. issues more debt than domestic and foreign buyers are naturally willing to buy, they must print dollars to buy it in the market, which is inflationary (all else equal). The more foreign demand they can create for these newly printed dollars, the lower the inflationary impact from printing new dollars. This foreign demand becomes entrenched as countries denominate their contracts in the dollar, allowing the U.S. to monetize their debt. Unit of Account — Oil and other commodity contracts are often denominated in U.S. dollars (e.g., the petrodollar system). This creates artificial demand for the dollar, supporting its value while the U.S. government continually issues debt beyond amounts domestic and foreign buyers would be willing to purchase without the Fed creating demand for it. The petrodollar system was created by Nixon in response to a multi-year depreciation of the dollar after its fixed convertibility into gold was removed in 1971. In 1973, Nixon struck a deal with Saudi Arabia in which every barrel of oil purchased from the Saudis would be denominated in the U.S. dollar and in exchange, the U.S. would offer them military protection. By 1975, all OPEC nations agreed to price their own oil supplies in dollars in exchange for military protection. This system spurred artificial demand for the dollar and its value was now tied to demand for energy (oil). This effectively entrenched the U.S. dollar as a global unit of account, allowing it more leeway in its practices of money printing to generate demand for its debt. For example, you may not like that the U.S. is continually increasing its deficit spending (hindering its store of value function), but your trade contracts require you to use the dollar (supporting its medium of exchange and unit of account function), so you have to use dollars anyway. Put simply, if foreign governments won’t buy U.S. debt, then the U.S. government will print money to buy it from itself and contracts require foreign governments to use that newly printed money. In this sense, when the U.S. government’s creditworthiness (reputation) falls short, its military capabilities (security) pick up the slack. The U.S. trades military protection for increased foreign dollar demand, enabling it to continuously run a deficit. Let’s summarize. Since its establishment, the dollar has served the functions of money best at an international level because it can be easily traded in global markets (i.e., it’s liquid), and contracts are denominated in it (e.g., trade and debt contracts). As U.S. capital markets are the broadest, most liquid and maintain a track record of secure property rights (i.e., strong reputation), it makes sense that countries would utilize it because there is a relatively lower risk of significant upheaval in U.S. capital markets. Contrast this idea with the Chinese renminbi which has struggled to gain dominance as a global store of value, medium of exchange and unit of account due to the political uncertainty of its government (i.e., poor reputation) which maintains capital controls on foreign exchange markets and frequently intervenes to manipulate its price. U.S. foreign intervention is rare. Further, having a strong military presence enforces dollar demand for commodity trade per agreements with foreign countries. Countries that denominate contracts in dollars would need to be comfortable trading away military security from the U.S. to buck this trend. With belligerent Eastern leaders increasing their expanse, this security need is considerable. Let’s look at how the functions of money are enabled by a country’s reputation and security: Reputation: primarily enables the store of value function of its currency. Specifically, countries that maintain political and economic stability, and relatively free capital markets, develop a reputation for safety that backs their currency. This safety can also be thought of as creditworthiness. Security: primarily enables the medium of exchange and unit of account functions of its currency. Widespread contract denomination and deep liquidity of a currency entrench its demand in global markets. Military power is what entrenches this demand in the first place. If the reputation of the U.S. declines and its military power withdraws, demand for its currency decreases as well. With the shifts in these two variables in front of mind, let’s consider how demand for the dollar could be affected. OVERVIEW OF THE GLOBAL MONETARY SYSTEM Global liquidity and contract denomination can be measured by analyzing foreign reserves, foreign debt issuance, and foreign transactions/volume. Dollar foreign exchange reserves gradually declined from 71% to 60% since the year 2000. Three percent of the decline is accounted for in the euro, 2% from the pound, 2% from the renminbi and the remaining 4% from other currencies. More than half of the 11 percentage point decline has come from China and other economies (e.g., Australian dollars, Canadian dollars, Swiss francs, et al.). While the U.S. dollar decline in dominance is material, it obviously remains dominant. The primary takeaway is that most of the decline in dollar dominance is being captured by smaller currencies, indicating that global reserves are gradually becoming more dispersed. Note that this data should be interpreted with caution as the fall in dollar dominance since 2016 occurred when previous non-reporting countries (e.g., China) began gradually revealing their FX reserves to the IMF. Further, governments don’t have to be honest about the numbers they report — the politically sensitive nature of this information makes it ripe for manipulation. Source: IMF Foreign debt issuance in USD (other countries borrowing in contracts denominated in dollars) has also gradually declined by ~9% since 2000, while the euro has gained ~10%. Debt issuance of the remaining economies was relatively flat over this period so most of the change in dollar debt issued can be attributed to the euro. Source: Federal Reserve The currency composition of foreign transactions is interesting. Historically, globalization has increased the demand for cross-border payments primarily due to: Manufacturers expanding supply chains across borders. Cross-border asset management. International trade. International remittances (e.g., migrants sending money home). This poses a problem for smaller economies: the more intermediaries that are involved in cross-border transactions, the slower and more expensive these payments become. High-volume currencies, such as the dollar, have a shorter chain of intermediaries while lower-volume currencies (e.g., emerging markets) have a longer chain of intermediaries. This is important because it is these emerging markets that stand to lose the most from international payments and for this reason alternative systems are attractive to them. Source: Bank of England If we look at the trend in composition of foreign payments it’s evident that the dollar's share of invoicing is materially greater than its share of exports, illuminating its outsized role of invoicing in proportion to trade. The euro has been competing with the dollar in terms of invoicing share, but this is driven by its usage for export trade among EU countries. For the rest of the world, export share has been, on average, greater than 50% while invoicing share has remained less than 20% on average. Source: Journal of International Economics Lastly, let’s discuss the volume of trade. A currency with high volume of trade means that it is relatively more liquid and thus, more attractive as a trade vehicle. The chart below shows the proportions of volume traded by currency. The dollar has remained dominant and constant since 2000, expressing its desirability as a liquid global currency. What’s important is that the volume of all major global reserve currencies have declined slightly while the volume of “other” smaller world currencies has increased from 15% to 22% in proportion. Source: BIS Triennial Survey; (Note: typically these numbers are shown on a 200% scale — e.g., for 2019 USD would be 88.4% out of 200% — because there are two legs to every foreign exchange trade. I’ve condensed this to a 100% scale for ease of interpretation of the proportions). The dollar is dominant across every metric, although it has been gradually declining. Most notably, economies that are not major world reserves are: Gaining dominance as reserves and thus world FX reserves are becoming more dispersed. Utilizing the dollar for foreign transactions in significantly greater proportions than their exports and limited by a long chain of intermediaries when attempting to use their domestic currencies. Hurt the most by long chains of global intermediaries for their transactions and thus stand to gain the most from alternative systems. Increasing their share of foreign exchange volume (liquidity) while all the major reserve currencies are declining. There exists a trend whereby the smaller and less dominant currencies of the world are expanding but are still limited by dollar dominance. Pair this trend with the global political fragmentation occurring and their continued expansion becomes more plausible. As the U.S. withdraws its military power globally, which backs the dollar’s functions as a medium of exchange and unit of account, it decreases demand for its currency to serve these functions. Further, the dollar’s creditworthiness has declined since implementing the Russian sanctions. The trends of declining U.S. military presence and creditworthiness, as well as increased global fragmentation, indicate that the global monetary regime could experience drastic change in the near term. THE GLOBAL MONETARY SYSTEM IS SHIFTING Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, and the U.S. subsequently implemented a swath of economic and financial sanctions. I believe history will look back on this event as the initial catalyst of change towards a new era of global monetary order. Three global realizations subsequently occurred: Realization #1: Economic sanctions placed on Russia signaled to the world that US sovereign assets are not risk free. U.S. control over the global monetary system subjects all participating nations to the authority of the U.S. Effectively, ~$300 billion of Russia’s ~$640 billion in foreign exchange reserves were “frozen” (no longer spendable) and it was partially banned (energy still allowed) from the SWIFT international payments system. However, Russia had been de-dollarizing and building up alternative reserves as protection from sanctions throughout previous years. Now Russia is looking for alternatives, China being the obvious partner, but India, Brazil and Argentina are also discussing cooperation. Economic sanctions of this magnitude by the West are unprecedented. This has signaled to countries around the world the risk they run through dependence on the dollar. This doesn’t mean that these countries will begin cooperating as they are all subject to constraints under an international spiderweb of trade and financial relationships. For example, Marko Papic explains in “Geopolitical Alpha” how China is heavily constrained by the satisfaction of its growing middle class (the majority of its population) and fearful that they could fall into the middle-income trap (GDP per capita stalling within the $1,000-12,000 range). Their debt cycle has peaked and economically they are in a vulnerable position. Chinese leaders understand that the middle-income trap has historically brought the death of communist regimes. This is where the U.S. has leverage over China. Economic and financial sanctions targeting this demographic can prevent growth in productivity and that is what China is most afraid of. Just because China wants to partner with Russia and achieve “world domination” does not mean that they will do so since they are subject to constraints. The most important aspect of this realization is that U.S. dollar assets are not risk free: they maintain a risk of appropriation by the U.S. government. Countries with plans to act out of accordance with U.S. interests will likely start de-dollarizing before doing so. However, as much as countries would prefer to opt out of this dollar dependency, they are constrained in doing so as well. Realization #2: It’s not just the U.S. that has economic power over reserves, it’s fiat reserve nations in general. Owning fiat currencies and assets in reserves creates uncertain political risks, increasing the desirability of commodities as reserve assets. Let’s talk about commodity money vs. debt (fiat) money. In his recent paper, Zoltan Pozsar describes how the death of the dollar system has arrived. Russia is a major global commodity exporter and the sanctions have bifurcated the value of their commodities. Similar to subprime mortgages in the 2008 financial crisis, Russian commodities have become “subprime” commodities. They’ve subsequently declined materially in value as much of the world is no longer buying them. Non-Russian commodities are increasing in value as anti-Russia countries are now all purchasing them while the global supply has shrunk materially. This has created volatility in commodity markets, markets that have been (apparently) neglected by financial system risk monitors. Commodity traders often borrow money from exchanges to place their trades, with the underlying commodities as collateral. If the price of the underlying commodity moves too much in the wrong direction, the exchanges tell them that they need to pay more collateral to back their borrowed money (trader get margin-called). Now, traders take both sides in these markets (they bet the price will go up or that it will go down) and therefore, regardless of which direction the price moves, somebody is getting margin-called. This means that as price volatility is introduced to the system, traders need to pay more money to the exchange as collateral. What if the traders don’t have more money to give as collateral? Then the exchange has to cover it. What if the exchanges can’t cover it? Then we have a major credit contraction in the commodity markets on our hands as people start pulling money out of the system. This could lead to large bankruptcies within a core segment of the global financial system. In the fiat world, credit contractions are always backstopped — such as the Fed printing money to bail out the financial system in 2008. What is unique to this situation is that the “subprime” collateral of Russian commodities is what Western central banks would need to step in and buy — but they can’t because their governments are the ones who prevented buying it in the first place. So, who is going to buy it? China. China could print money and effectively bail out the Russian commodity market. If so, China would strengthen its balance sheet with commodities which would strengthen its monetary position as a store of value, all else equal. The Chinese renminbi (also called the “yuan”) would also begin spreading more widely as a global medium of exchange as countries that want to participate in this discounted commodity trade utilize the yuan in doing so. People are referring to this as the growth of the “petroyuan” or “euroyuan” (like the petrodollar and eurodollar, just the yuan). China is also in discussions with Saudi Arabia to denominate oil sales in the yuan. As China is the largest importer of Saudi oil, it makes sense that the Saudis would consider denominating trade in its currency. Further, the lack of U.S. military support for the Saudis in Yemen is all the more reason to switch to dollar alternatives. However, the more the Saudis denominate oil in contracts other than the dollar, the more they risk losing U.S. military protection and would likely become subject to the military influence of China. If the yuan spreads wide enough, it could grow as a unit of account, as trade contracts become denominated in it. This structure of incentives implies two expectations: Alternatives to the U.S. global monetary system will strengthen. Demand for commodity money will strengthen relative to debt-based fiat money. However, the renminbi is only 2.4% of global reserves and has a long way to go towards international monetary dominance. Countries are much less comfortable utilizing the yuan over the dollar for trade due to its political uncertainty risks, control over the capital account and the risk of dependence on Chinese military security. A common expectation is that either the West or the East is going to be dominant once the dust settles. What’s more likely is that the system will continue splitting and we’ll have multiple monetary systems emerge around the globe as countries attempt to de-dollarize — referred to as a multipolar system. Multipolarity will be driven by political and economic self-interest among countries and the removal of trust from the system. The point about trust is key. As countries trust fiat money less, they will choose commodity-based money that requires less trust in an institution to measure its risk. Whether or not China becomes the buyer of last resort for Russian commodities, global leaders are realizing the value of commodities as reserve assets. Commodities are real and credit is trust. Bitcoin is commodity-like money, the scarcest in the world that resides on trustless and disintermediated payment infrastructure. Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, Russia had restricted crypto assets within its economy. Since then, Russia’s position has changed drastically. In 2020, Russia gave crypto assets legal status but banned their use for payments. As recently as January 2022, Russia’s central bank proposed banning the use and mining of crypto assets, citing threats to financial stability and monetary sovereignty. This was in contrast to Russia’s ministry of finance, which had proposed regulating it rather than outright banning it. By February, Russia chose to regulate crypto assets, due to the fear that it would emerge as a black market regardless. By March, a Russian government official announced it would consider accepting bitcoin for energy exports. Russia’s change of heart can be attributed to the desire for commodity money as well as the disintermediated payment infrastructure that Bitcoin can be transferred upon — leading to the third realization. Realization #3: Crypto asset infrastructure is more efficient than traditional financial infrastructure. Because it is disintermediated, it offers a method of possession and transfer of assets that is simply not possible with intermediated traditional financial infrastructure. Donations in support of Ukraine via crypto assets (amounting to nearly $100 million as of this writing) demonstrated to the world the rapidness and efficiency of transferring value via just an internet connection, without relying on financial institutions. It further demonstrated the ability to maintain possession of assets without reliance on financial institutions. These are critical features to have as a war refugee. Emerging economies are paying attention as this is particularly valuable to them. Bitcoin has been used to donate roughly $30 million to Ukraine since the start of the war. Subsequently, a Russian official stated that it will consider accepting bitcoin, which I believe is because they are aware that bitcoin is the only digital asset that can be used in a purely trustless manner. Bitcoin’s role on both sides of the conflict demonstrated that it is apolitical while the freezing of fiat reserves demonstrated that their value is highly political. Let’s tie this all together. Right now, countries are rethinking the type of money they are using and the payment systems they are transferring it on. They will become more avoidant of fiat money (credit), as it is easily frozen, and they are realizing the disintermediated nature of digital payment infrastructure. Consider these motivations alongside the trend of an increasingly fragmented system of global currencies. We’re witnessing a shift towards commodity money among a more fragmented system of currencies moving across disintermediated payment infrastructure. Emerging economies, particularly those removed from global politics, are postured as the first movers towards this shift. While I don’t expect that the dollar will lose primacy anytime soon, its creditworthiness and military backing is being called into question. Consequently, the growth and fragmentation of non-dollar reserves and denominations opens the market of foreign exchange to consider alternatives. For their reserves, countries will trust fiat less and commodities more. There is a shift emerging towards trustless money and desire for trustless payment systems. ALTERNATIVES TO THE GLOBAL MONETARY SYSTEM We are witnessing a decline in global trust with the realization that the age of digital money is upon us. Understand that I am referring to incremental adoption of digital money and not full-scale dominance — incremental adoption will likely be the path of least resistance. I expect countries to increasingly adopt trustless commodity assets on disintermediated payment infrastructure, which is what Bitcoin provides. The primary limiting factor to this adoption of bitcoin will be its stability and liquidity. As bitcoin matures into adolescence, I expect this growth to increase rapidly. Countries that want a digital store of value will prefer bitcoin for its sound monetary properties. The countries most interested and least restrained in adopting digital assets will be among the fragmented developing world as they stand to gain the most for the least amount of political cost. While these incremental shifts will be occurring in tandem, I expect the first major shift will be towards commodity reserves. Official reserve managers prioritize safety, liquidity and yield when choosing their reserve assets. Gold is valuable in these respects and will play a dominant role. However, bitcoin’s trustless nature will not be overlooked, and countries will consider it as a reserve despite its tradeoffs with gold, to be discussed below. Let’s walk through what bitcoin adoption could look like: Source: World Gold Council; Advanced reserve economies includes the BIS, BOE, BOJ, ECB (and its national member banks), Federal Reserve, IMF and SNB. Since 2000, gold as a percentage of total reserves has been declining for advanced economies and growing for China, Russia and the other smaller economies. So, the trend towards commodity reserves is already in place. Over this same period gold reserves have fluctuated between nine and 14% of total reserves. Today, total reserves (both gold and FX reserves) amount to $16 trillion, 13% of which ($2.2 trillion) is gold reserves. We can see in the below chart that gold as a percentage of reserves has been rising since 2015, the same year the U.S. froze Iran’s reserves (this was ~$2 billion, a much smaller amount than the Russia sanctions). Source: World Gold Council. Reserves have been growing rapidly in China, Russia and smaller economies as a whole. The chart below shows that non-advanced economies have increased their total reserves by 9.4x and gold reserves by 10x, while advanced economies have increased total reserves by only 4x. China, Russia and the smaller economies command $12.5 trillion in total reserves and $700 billion of those are in gold. Source: World Gold Council. The growth and size of smaller economy reserves is important when considering bitcoin adoption among them as a reserve asset. Smaller countries will ideally want an asset that is liquid, stable, grows in value, disintermediated and trustless. The below illustrative comparison stack ranks broad reserve asset categories by these qualities on a scale of 1-5 (obviously, this is not a science but an illustrative visualization to facilitate discussion): Countries adopt different reserve assets for different reasons, which is why they diversify their holdings. This assessment focuses on the interests of emerging economies for bitcoin adoption considerations. Bitcoin is liquid, although not nearly as liquid as fiat assets and gold. Bitcoin isn’t stable. Standard reserve assets, including gold, are much more stable. Bitcoin will likely offer a much higher capital appreciation than fiat assets and gold over the long run. Bitcoin is the most disintermediated as it has a truly trustless network — this is its primary value proposition. Storing bitcoin doesn’t require trusted intermediaries and thus can be stored without the risk of appropriation — a risk for fiat assets. This point is important because gold does not maintain this quality as it is expensive to move, store and verify. Thus, bitcoin’s primary advantage over gold is its disintermediated infrastructure which allows for trustless movement and storage. With these considerations in mind, I believe the smaller emerging economies that are largely removed from political influence will spearhead the adoption of bitcoin as a reserve asset gradually. The world is growing increasingly multipolar. As the U.S. withdraws its international security and fiat continues to lose creditworthiness, emerging economies will be considering bitcoin adoption. While the reputation of the U.S. is in decline, China’s reputation is far worse. This line of reasoning will make bitcoin attractive. Its primary value-add will be its disintermediated infrastructure which enables trustless payments and storage. As bitcoin continues to mature, its attractiveness will continue to increase. If you think the sovereign fear of limiting its domestic monetary control is a strong incentive to prevent bitcoin adoption, consider what happened in Russia. If you think countries won’t adopt bitcoin for fear of losing monetary control, consider what happened in Russia. While Russia’s central bank wanted to ban bitcoin, the finance ministry opted to regulate it. After Russia was sanctioned, it has been considering accepting bitcoin for energy exports. I think Russia’s behavior shows that even totalitarian regimes will allow bitcoin adoption for the sake of international sovereignty. Countries that demand less control over their economies will be even more willing to accept this tradeoff. There are many reasons that countries would want to prevent bitcoin adoption, but on net the positive incentives of its adoption are strong enough to outweigh the negative. Let’s apply this to the shifts in global reputations and security: Reputations: political and economic stability is becoming increasingly riskier for fiat, credit-based assets. Bitcoin is a safe haven from these risks, as it is fundamentally apolitical. Bitcoin’s reputation is one of high stability, due to its immutability, which is insulated from global politics. No matter what happens, Bitcoin will keep producing blocks and its supply schedule remains the same. Bitcoin is a commodity that requires no trust in the credit of an institution. Security: because Bitcoin cannot trade military support for its usage, it will likely be hindered as a global medium of exchange for some time. Its lack of price stability further limits this form of adoption. Networks such as the Lightning Network enable transactions in fiat assets, like the dollar, over Bitcoin’s network. Although the Lightning Network is still in its infancy, I anticipate this will draw increased demand to Bitcoin as a settlement network — increasing the store of value function of its native currency. It’s important to understand that fiat assets will be used as a medium of exchange for some time due to their stability and liquidity, but the payment infrastructure of bitcoin can bridge the gap in this adoption. Hopefully, as more countries adopt the Bitcoin standard the need for military security will decline. Until then, a multipolar world of fiat assets will be utilized in exchange for military security, with a preference for disintermediated payment infrastructure. CONCLUSION Trust is diminishing among global reputations as countries implement economic and geopolitical warfare, causing a reduction in globalization and shift towards a multipolar monetary system. U.S. military withdrawal and economic sanctions have illuminated the lack of security within credit-based fiat money, which incentivizes a shift towards commodity money. Moreover, economic sanctions are forcing some countries, and signaling to others, that alternative financial infrastructure to the U.S. dollar system is necessary. These shifts in the global zeitgeist are demonstrating to the world the value of commodity money on a disintermediated settlement network. Bitcoin is postured as the primary reserve asset for adoption in this category. I expect bitcoin to benefit in a material way from this global contraction in trust. However, there are strong limitations to full-scale adoption of such a system. The dollar isn’t going away anytime soon, and significant growth and infrastructure is required for emerging economies to utilize bitcoin at scale. Adoption will be gradual, and that is a good thing. Growth in fiat assets over Bitcoin settlement infrastructure will benefit bitcoin. Enabling a permissionless money with the strongest monetary properties will spawn an era of personal freedom and wealth creation for individuals, instead of the incumbent institutions. Despite the state of the world, I’m excited for the future. Whither Bitcoin? Tyler Durden Fri, 04/15/2022 - 13:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytApr 15th, 2022

Futures Surge On Beijing Market Rescue, Ukraine Ceasefire Hopes As Fed Rate Hike Looms

Futures Surge On Beijing Market Rescue, Ukraine Ceasefire Hopes As Fed Rate Hike Looms Normally, the first rate hike in more than four years meant to spark a "shallow" recession and destroy commodity demand would not be viewed positively by markets (unless it leads to another mega QE, which it will), but today is an exception with global stocks and US futures surging after the Kremlin hinted at progress in peace talks with Ukraine, adding to positive sentiment stoked by China’s vow to stabilize its battered markets which sent Hong Kong stocks soaring by the most on record. At 730am, S&P futures are up 1.3%, with Nasdaq futs +1.8% outperforming amid overnight tech action, influencing European sectors, on the back of China's jawboning stocks higher and constructive commentary from Ukraine's Zelensky and Russia's Lavrov. European bourses are also firmer across the board, Euro Stoxx 50 +3.3%, after a firmer handover from the Asia session and on geopolitical optimism.  Treasuries were steady and the dollar slipped ahead of the Federal Reserve rates decision. In FX, DXY reels amid support for EUR on yield action ahead of noted EUR/USD option interest at the NY cut. Core debt is depressed, with yields continuing to climb and the German 10yr through 38bps. WTI and Brent are consolidating and have most recently dipped into negative territory as premia unwinds. Tech companies led the US premarket gains, with Tesla rising 3.3% while U.S.-listed Chinese stocks rebounded from a steep selloff after China’s promise to boost financial markets and stimulate economic growth. ADRs of Alibaba and Baidu were both up at least 20% in premarket trading, while Didi Global Inc. jumped more than 40%. Other notable premarket movers: Electric vehicle stocks climb in premarket trading as Chinese automaker BYD follows Tesla in hiking car prices due to surging raw material costs. Lucid +3.3% (LCID US); Rivian +3.1% (RIVN US); Tesla +2.5% (TSLA US); Nikola +2.3% (NKLA US). U.S.-listed casino operators with exposure to Macau jump in premarket trading as Asian and European stocks rally after a pledge from China to keep capital markets stable. Las Vegas Sands (LVS US) +7.5%. Smartsheet (SMAR US) shares dropped 5.3% in U.S. postmarket trading on Tuesday after the software company reported its fourth-quarter results, with analysts flagging that the firm’s plans to increase investments weighed despite a robust set of earnings. (LOTZ US) fell 14% in extended trading Tuesday after the company said Lev Pekerwill step down as CEO and director effective on April 15. In addition to closely watching progress in talks between Ukraine and Russia, which are set to resume, all eyes today will be on the Federal Reserve’s meeting, where policy makers are widely expected to kick off a rate-hiking cycle to tackle red-hot inflation (see our preview here) John Stoltzfus, chief investment strategist at Oppenheimer Asset Management, said he expected five to six quarter-point increases this year. “The equity market is likely to digest a 25-basis point hike easily with enough market participants expecting it to temper the consumer demand that has been fueling higher prices for many goods,” he wrote in a note. “The risk of additional commodity price inflation notwithstanding, we expect the Fed to remain sensitive to the implications for U.S. economic health.” Here is a snapshot of some of the latest Russia headlines: Ukrainian President Zelensky stated that the positions of Ukraine and Russia at negotiations sound more realistic, but more time is still needed and noted that Ukraine must recognise it will not join NATO. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov says peace talks with Ukraine are not easy but there is some hope for a compromise. Ukraine's neutral status is being seriously discussed and some formulations of agreements with Ukraine are nearing being agreed. Subsequently, Russian negotiator says that negotiations with Ukraine are slow and difficult, Russia sincerely wishes for peace soon, according to Interfax. Russia's Kremlin says the idea of creating a demilitarised Ukraine, like an Austria/Sweden model, could be seen as a compromise. In Europe, the technology, consumer and travel industries led the Stoxx Europe 600 Index up 2%. Prosus jumped a record 20% in Amsterdam. By contrast, Avast slumped 14% in London, its biggest drop in more than two years.  European tech shares lead a rebound in the broader market Wednesday, as a pledge from Beijing to stabilize financial markets and support overseas listings helps boost appetite for risk; the Stoxx Tech Index rose as much as 5%. Food delivery stocks also soared, with Just Eat +7.4%, Deliveroo +6.1%, Delivery Hero +7%, HelloFresh +6.3%. Semiconductor stocks were also higher with Soitec +6%, BE Semi +5.6%, ASM International +4.9%, ASML +4.3%. Asian stocks climbed, headed for their first gain in four sessions, as Chinese shares staged a strong rebound after the nation vowed to keep its equity market stable and support overseas share listings. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rallied as much as 3.3%, poised for its biggest increase since 2020. A gauge of Chinese firms listed in Hong Kong jumped by the most since 2008,  while the Hang Seng Tech index added a record 20%.  Tencent, Alibaba Group and Meituan were the biggest contributors to the regional gauge’s advance, each rising at least 23%. The sharp rebound came after Chinese shares were mired in a deep selloff amid worries related to Beijing’s ties with Russia and delisting risks for Chinese stocks traded in the U.S. A comprehensive statement by the State Council addressing investors’ concerns over Beijing’s tech crackdown and property woes lifted sentiment significantly (more here). The market believes “this is a solid bottom, so many are buying back shares rapidly” following the positive signal by the regulators, said Castor Pang, head of research at Core Pacific Yamaichi. “The market was indeed oversold and irrational in the dramatic rout, so real money is back doing bottom fishing.” Asian investors also awaited the Federal Reserve’s statement after its two-day meeting, which is expected to raise interest rates for the first time in three years to cool surging prices, despite growth risks stemming from the Russia-Ukraine war. The outcome from diplomatic talks between Russia and Ukraine on Wednesday is also on the watch list In rates, treasuries beyond the front end remain slightly cheaper after paring declines during European session. Yields are higher by 1.7bp in 7-year sector, where underperformance further cheapens the 2s7s30s fly; it exceeded 0bp for first time since March 1. Thirty-year Treasury yields climbed to the highest level since mid-2019 before paring.  10-year yield, higher by 1.8bp at ~2.16%, outperforms bunds by 4bp with Euro Stoxx 50 higher by 3.6% vs 1.2% for S&P 500 futures. Focal points of U.S. session include FOMC rate decision and Chair Powell’s press conference 30 minutes later. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell a second day as the greenback weakened against all of its Group-of-10 peers apart from the yen. The euro rose above $1.10 and European benchmark yields rose, with Bunds underperforming euro- area peers. Sweden’s krona soared to more than a one-month high versus the euro after Riksbank Governor Stefan Ingves said the Swedish central bank will probably have to raise interest rates earlier than its previous timeline of 2024. The Norwegian krone, the Australian and Canadian dollars were also among the best G-10 performers, supported by China’s vows to stabilize the stock market. Hedging sterling overnight comes at the highest cost since late 2020 as war premiums meet event risks stemming from the upcoming Federal Reserve and Bank of England meetings. Australia’s bonds gained after weak second-tier data, while New Zealand’s notes fell after data showed the current- account deficit to be at its widest since 2009. The yen was little changed following a seven-day slide. Japan ran a trade deficit for a seventh month in February at 668.3 billion yen ($5.8 billion) after recording the second-largest deficit on record in January. Oil prices surged about 8.6% last month. In commodities, crude futures drift higher, WTI adds ~2%, regaining a $98-handle, Brent holds near $102.50. LME nickel dropped by the new 5% exchange limit on the resumption of trade, most other base metals trade in positive territory. Spot gold trades a narrow range near $1,920/oz. In crypto, bitcoin has recouped from overnight pressure and is holding onto the USD 40k mark once more. Japan's crypto authority could announce a relaxation of coin listing rules next week. Looking ahead at today’s data releases, retail sales, business inventories and the NAHB Housing Market Index will be due in the US. Elsewhere, CPI and wholesale trade sales will be released in Canada. Earnings include Lennar, E.ON and Inditex. But all eyes on the Fed. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.9% to 4,302.00 STOXX Europe 600 up 2.2% to 444.48 MXAP up 3.3% to 171.08 MXAPJ up 4.2% to 554.77 Nikkei up 1.6% to 25,762.01 Topix up 1.5% to 1,853.25 Hang Seng Index up 9.1% to 20,087.50 Shanghai Composite up 3.5% to 3,170.71 Sensex up 1.4% to 56,541.13 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 1.1% to 7,175.24 Kospi up 1.4% to 2,659.23 German 10Y yield little changed at 0.40% Euro up 0.4% to $1.1002 Brent Futures up 3.2% to $103.14/bbl Gold spot down 0.1% to $1,915.81 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.43% to 98.67 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia’s “positions in the negotiations sound more realistic” as the two sides are scheduled for another round of talks on Wednesday. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also said there is some hope for compromise, but progress remains difficult The Federal Reserve is poised to raise interest rates Wednesday for the first time since 2018, with investors focused on how aggressive central bankers plan to be in tackling the hottest inflation in four decades Currency speculators are looking less convinced that recent dollar strength, which has been spurred by war-related haven flows and expectations for Federal Reserve policy tightening, can run much further. Leveraged funds have cut their overall long positions against major-currency peers by more than two-thirds so far this year In the years following the financial crisis, the Bank of England stuck resolutely to easy money while fiscal policy got tough when Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne imposed swingeing budget cuts. But as the economy grapples with the highest inflation level in three decades and the fallout from the war in Ukraine, it’s BOE Governor Andrew Bailey who’s playing the bogeyman Russia spent years building a giant stash of gold, an asset that central banks can turn to during a crisis. But any attempt to sell it will now be a challenge just when it’s needed most The London Metal Exchange halted electronic trading in nickel minutes after it restarted, citing a technical issue with its new daily limit, as prices plunged when the market opened after a week-long suspension. A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk APAC stocks gained after Wall St closed at session highs amid a rally in growth stocks and retreat in oil prices below USD 100/bbl. ASX 200 was underpinned with all sectors in the green and the index led by tech following the duration bias stateside. Nikkei 225 gained amid expectations for Japanese PM Kishida to order the compilation of additional stimulus. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp. were positive amid a rebound from the tech rout and as local press suggested continued possibility of a rate cut with gains exacerbated after China's State Council vowed to keep stock markets stable. Top Asian News Foxconn Partly Restarts Shenzhen iPhone Hub Hit by Lockdown IPhone Assembler Hon Hai Beats Estimates on Holiday Demand China CBIRC to Unveil Policies to Bolster Capital Markets China’s Strong Growth Data Questioned, Mocked on Social Media European bourses are firmer across the board, Euro Stoxx 50 +3.3%, after a firmer Wall St/APAC handover amid some constructive Russia-Ukraine commentary. In-fitting with this, sectors are all in the green with cyclicals outperforming and defensives lagging, but still positive, influenced by Tech amid APAC performance. Stateside, US futures are firmer across the board, NQ +1.9% outperforms, in-fitting with sectors, but attention does turn to the sessions' FOMC announcement. Tesla (TSLA) is suspending production at its Shanghai factory for two days, amid COVID related restrictions via Reuters citing an internal notice Top European News EQT Inks Private Equity’s Boldest Asia Move With Baring Deal MFE Bid for Mediaset Espana Is Just the Beginning: Analysts Germany’s Coalition at Odds Over Response to Energy Crisis Shell Is Said to Vie With Adani, Greenko for Actis’s Sprng In FX, Aussie regroups on multiple props including recovery in iron ore and renewed risk appetite to probe technical resistance ahead of 0.7250 vs its US rival where the 21 DMA resides. Euro retests 1.1000 against the Dollar amidst reversion to pronounced bear-steepening in EGBs, but decent option expiry interest at the round number may thwart again (1.23bln for NY cut). Loonie rebounds in advance of Canadian CPI that comes alongside US retail sales and before FOMC, USD/CAD pivoting 1.2750 and DXY drifting down from 99.000. Yen undermined by risk on flows and wider than forecast Japanese trade deficit, USD/JPY back up in proximity of circa 118.45 peak. Yuan pares recent losses as China’s State Council promises to stabilise stocks and Vice Premier pledges measures to support the economy; USD/CNH around 6.3650 vs 6.4100+ at one stage yesterday. In commodities, WTI and Brent are consolidating and have most recently dipped into negative territory amid the latest Russia- Ukraine updates removing further geopolitical-premia. A move that has seen the benchmarks dip further below USD 95.00/bbl and USD 99.00/bbl respectively. US Energy Inventory Data Expectations (bbls): Crude +3.8mln (exp. -1.4mln), Cushing +2.3mln, Gasoline -3.8mln (exp. -1.6mln), Distillate +0.9mln exp. -1.8mln) IEA OMR: lowers 2022 demand growth forecast by 950k BPD to 2.1mln BPD for an average of 99.7mln BPD, details available here. LME says that amid a system error, a small number of trades were executed below the lower daily price limit for Nickel, such trades executed on LMESelect will be cancelled; after LME Nickel resumed and hit limit down US Event Calendar 7am: March MBA Mortgage Applications, prior 8.5% 8:30am: Feb. Import Price Index YoY, est. 11.3%, prior 10.8%   8:30am: Feb. Import Price Index ex Petroleu, est. 0.8%, prior 1.4% 8:30am: Feb. Import Price Index MoM, est. 1.6%, prior 2.0% 8:30am: Feb. Retail Sales Control Group, est. 0.3%, prior 4.8% 8:30am: Feb. Retail Sales Ex Auto and Gas, est. 0.4%, prior 3.8% 8:30am: Feb. Retail Sales Ex Auto MoM, est. 0.9%, prior 3.3% 8:30am: Feb. Export Price Index YoY, est. 14.4%, prior 15.1% 8:30am: Feb. Export Price Index MoM, est. 1.2%, prior 2.9% 8:30am: Feb. Retail Sales Advance MoM, est. 0.4%, prior 3.8% 10am: Jan. Business Inventories, est. 1.1%, prior 2.1% 10am: March NAHB Housing Market Index, est. 81, prior 82 2pm: March FOMC Rate Decision DB 's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap   I’ve been working in financial markets for 27 years and I’ve really only seen three Fed hiking cycles so today is a big day as the Fed will likely kick off my fourth with a 25bps move. Ironically I’ll also be picking up my first pair of varifocal glasses today which means at least I’ll be able to read the small print in the release. Another sign of age to go alongside the two bad knees and bad back. Our economists expect (full preview here) the Fed to raise rates by 25bps, taking a first step in what they anticipate will be a series of rate hikes which will raise the fed funds rate by +175bps by the end of the year. On the dot plot, the team expects the median dot to show six rate hikes this year, with policy rates reaching and perhaps passing estimates of neutral by 2024. Despite the uncertainty garnered by the war in Europe, they expect Chair Powell to maintain a hawkish tone and reiterate the Fed’s commitment to fighting inflation this year. On the balance sheet, our US econ team believes the Fed will release their plans for QT at today’s meeting, which they dive into detail on with Tim Wessel from my team here). In short, they expect the Fed will start QT in June, with the balance sheet shrinking by around $3 trillion until early 2025. The Fed will be attempting to wrestle the narrative back from geopolitics, which has been and will likely be the predominant market story for a time. On that front, DB has compiled a research compendium on all things Russia-Ukraine conflict related as it enters its fourth week, link here. The piece has links to numerous DB publications on the implications and what it means for economics and various asset prices. Turning to yesterday’s news from the conflict, western countries and Russia exchanged a new set of sanctions. In particular, the EU approved its fourth package of sanctions, which notably features a ban on new investments in the energy sector in Russia and limits exports of various equipment and technology goods. Russia also submitted a request to leave the Council of Europe. However, risk sentiment was buoyed later in the New York session when a senior aide to President Zelenksy noted that Russia had softened their negotiation stance, and that talks between representatives have become “more constructive”. President Zelensky for his part noted the negotiations were difficult but signalled there was room for compromise. Meanwhile, President Biden will travel to Europe next week to meet with NATO allies at a summit of European Union leaders. The US also announced another tranche of aid for Ukraine. On commodities, Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, said that sanctions imposed on Russia will not prevent it from cooperating with Iran, and the US confirmed it would not sanction activity covered under a renewed nuclear deal, which was an important hurdle for progress on a deal, potentially enabling Iranian oil supply to return to market. This drove crude futures lower with WTI (-6.38%) and Brent (-6.54%) both closing below $100 even if the later has edge back above that landmark this morning. Since hitting their intraday peak last Tuesday, WTI and Brent futures are now both down -25%. In Europe, equities posted modest losses, with the STOXX 600 dropping -0.28%. Though in the US, risk sentiment pushed indices into the green, with the S&P 500 gaining +2.14% on a broad-based gain that saw 446 companies finish the day in positive territory, the third highest reading this year. Mega-cap shares did particularly well, as the FANG+ index climbed +3.13%. Only the energy sector declined in the S&P 500, falling -3.73%, on the back of falling oil prices and a recent run of outperformance. The broad rally coincided with the VIX falling below 30ppts, dropping -1.94ppts to 29.83ppts, for the first time since the last week of February. Sovereign bond yields were also less volatile than in recent sessions. European yields dropped across the board, with 10yr bund, OAT, and BTP yields falling -3.5bps, -2.8bps, and -6.5bps, respectively. Falling breakevens led the move with the large drop in oil, with 10yr German breakevens sliding -8.7bps. Treasury yields posted modest increases ahead of today’s FOMC meeting, with 10yr yields climbing +1.1bps. They are fairly flat overnight. Another story that hit the wires yesterday suggested that Saudi Arabia was considering accepting payments denominated in renminbi instead of US dollars for its oil exports to China. The news led to a renminbi appreciation against the dollar but it is still unclear what the long-term implications may be. It comes at a time when Saudi-US relations are strained, so it is not clear how much the headlines are political maneuvering versus legitimate signs of international trade and finance trying to wean itself of dollar dependence in light of the historic economic sanctions the US and allies brought to bear against Russia. After all, stories of the dollar’s demise as the pre-eminent global reserve currency have been around almost as long as the dollar has been the pre-eminent global reserve currency. More directly, Saudi Arabia maintains a dollar peg, so some level of dollar dependence will persist in the kingdom. Nevertheless, one to watch over the medium term. Overnight in Asia, equities are up after strong gains on Wall Street with the Hang Seng (+3.21%) leading the way across the region as beaten up Chinese tech stocks have rebounded. Elsewhere, the Nikkei (+1.48%) and Kospi (+0.95%) are both up while gains in mainland Chinese stocks are more muted with the Shanghai Composite (+0.04%) and CSI (+0.49%) slightly higher as the nation grapples with its most severe Covid outbreak. Shanghai state officials yesterday downplayed the possibility of implementing a full lockdown for now but urged its financial and business district workers to work from home. Moving ahead, US equity futures indicate a steady start with contracts on the S&P 500 (-0.05%) Nasdaq (+0.13%) close to unchanged. US bond yields are steady. Elsewhere, President Biden’s nomination for the Vice Chair of Supervision at the Fed, Sarah Bloom Raskin, withdrew her nomination as it became clear that she would not receive the necessary Senate votes to be confirmed. In data, US PPI that came at +0.8% vs expectations of +0.9%, while the numbers ex-food and energy increased +0.2% versus expectations of +0.6% increase. Looking ahead at today’s data releases, retail sales, business inventories and the NAHB Housing Market Index will be due in the US. Elsewhere, CPI and wholesale trade sales will be released in Canada. Earnings include Lennar, E.ON and Inditex. But all eyes on the Fed. Tyler Durden Wed, 03/16/2022 - 07:50.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMar 16th, 2022

The UK And Its Lost Opportunities

The UK And Its Lost Opportunities Authored by Alasdair Macleod via, Two years after leaving the EU Britain has made almost none of the promised progress towards economic liberalisation. While Brussels hasn’t been helpful, libertarian ministers in the Tory government have been both conquered by the bureaucracy of the civil service and even turned into high spending statists. There has been no attempt to reduce the state’s suffocating dominance over the economy. On current policies, the private sector is set to continue its long-term decline, with higher taxes and ever-increasing regulation. But it needn’t be so. This article looks at the dangers and opportunities that Britain faces, principally inflation, the challenge of government spending, of maintaining a balanced budget, trade policy and why Britain should just declare unilateral free trade, foreign policy in a world where the future is American decline and a rising Russia—China partnership, and the economic craziness of the green agenda. There is no sign that these important issues are being addressed in a constructive and statesman-like manner. Fortunately or unfortunately, rising interest rates threaten to bring forward a crisis of bank credit of such magnitude that fiat currencies are likely to be undermined. Most of the policies recommended herein should be incorporated after the banking and currency crisis has passed as part of a reset designed to avoid repeating the mistakes of big government, Keynesianism, and the socialisation of economic resources. Decline and fall “This is the week a government that began with such promise finally lost its soul. Its great policy relaunch is a tragic mush, proof that it no longer believes in anything, not even in its self-preservation.” Allister Heath, Editor of The Sunday Telegraph writing in today’s Daily Telegraph 3 February Two years ago this week, Britain formally left the EU. Yet, it is estimated there are 20,000 pieces of primary EU legislation still on the statute books. And only now is there going to be an effort to remove or replace them with UK legislation. Obviously, going through them one by one would tie the legislative calendar up for years, so it is proposed to deal with them through an omnibus Brexit Freedoms Bill. Excuse me for being cynical, but one wonders that if the Prime Minister had not come under pressure from Partygate, would this distraction from it have got to first base? After two years of inaction, why now? And it transpires that instead of doing away with unnecessary regulations as suggested in the Brexit Freedoms Bill, legislative priority will be given to the economically destructive green agenda. This underlines Allister Heath’s comment above. There is also irrefutable evidence that a remain-supporting civil service has continually frustrated the executive over Brexit and has discouraged all meaningful economic reform. The way the Brexit Freedoms Bill is likely to play out is for every piece of EU legislation dropped, new UK regulations of similar or even tighter restrictions on production freedom will be introduced — drafted by the civil service bureaucracy with its Remainer sympathies. For improvement, read deterioration. It will require ministers in all departments to strongly resist this tendency — there’s not much hope of that. The track record of British government is not good. Since Margaret Thatcher was elected, successive conservative administrations have pledged to reduce unnecessary state intervention and ended up fostering the opposite. They raise taxes every time they are elected, even though they market themselves as the low tax party. While the number of quangos (quasi-autonomous national government organisations) has been reduced, in practice it is because they have been merged rather than abandoned and their remits have remained intact. Another measure of government intervention, the proportion of government spending to total GDP, has risen from about 40% to over 50% in 2020. An unfair comparison given the impact of covid, some would say. But there is little sign that the explosion of government spending will come back to former levels. Like the unelected bureaucracy in Brussels from which the nation sought to escape, the UK’s civil service has no concept of the economic benefits of free markets. Without having any skin in the game, they believe that government agencies are in the best position to decide economic outcomes for the common good. Decades of Keynesian reasoning, belief in bureaucratic process and never having had to work in a competitive environment have all fostered an arrogance of purpose in support of increasing statist economic management. It is a delusion that will end in crisis, as it did in 1975 when under a Labour government Britain was driven to borrow funds from the IMF that were reserved for third world nations. Against this background of restrictions to economic progress, the nation is unprepared to deal with some major issues appearing on the horizon. This article examines some of them: inflation, state spending, trade policies, foreign policies, and the economic harm from the green agenda. These are just some of the areas where policies can be improved for the good of the nation and create opportunities for greatness through economic strength. Inflation In common with other central banks, the Bank of England would have us believe that inflation is of prices only, failing to mention changes in the quantity of currency and credit in circulation. Yet even schoolchildren in primary education will tell you that if a cake is cut into a greater number of pieces, you do not end up with more cake; you end up with smaller pieces. It is the same with the money supply, or more correctly the quantity of currency and credit. Instead, central banks seem to believe in the parable of the feeding of the five thousand: five loaves and two fishes can be subdivided to satisfy the multitudes with some left over. The source of an increase in the general price level is increasing quantities of currency and credit, leading to each unit buying less, just like the smaller slices of cake. And measured by the Bank of England’s M4 (the broadest measure of currency and credit) the currency cake has been subdivided into many more smaller pieces in recent times. Figure 1 shows that M4 has increased from £1.82 trillion at the time of the Lehman failure to £2.96 trillion last September, an increase of 63%. But the rate of increase accelerated substantially in the first six months of 2020 to an annualised rate of 19.3%. This is the engine driving prices of goods higher, and to a lesser extent, services. At that time, currency inflation was everywhere, leading to significantly higher commodity prices. The commodity inputs to industry represent sharply rising production costs, coupled with skill shortages and supply chain disruptions. But these are merely the evidence of the currency cake being more thinly sliced. Buying and installing a new kitchen in your house requires more of the smaller slices of the currency cake than it did last year. All else being equal, there are still significant price effects to come with past currency debasements yet to work their way through to prices. And given that monetary policy is to meet rising prices by raising interest rates while still inflating, higher interest rates will follow as well. The effect on bond yields and equity prices will be beyond doubt. But all else is never equal, and the effect of higher production costs will be to close uneconomic production and put overindebted manufacturers out of business. This development is already becoming evident globally, with the post-pandemic bounce-back already fading. Being undermined, the effect on financial collateral values is likely to make banks more cautious, reduce bank lending, and at the margin increase the rate of foreclosures. The problem is that most currency in circulation is the counterpart of bank credit. A bond and equity bear market will lead to a contraction of bank credit, triggering policies designed to counter deflation. What will the Bank of England do? Undoubtedly, it will want to increase its monetary stimulation at a time of rising interest rates and falling financial values. The Bank will also find itself replacing contracting bank credit to keep the illusion of prosperity alive. The issuance of base currency will not be a trivial matter. But according to the Keynesians, who can only equate price levels with consumer demand, inflation during an economic slump should never happen. Worse, it will come at a time when UK banks are highly leveraged at record levels — Barclay’s, for example, has a ratio of assets to equity of about twenty times. And as the European financial centre, London is highly exposed to counterparty risk from the Eurozone which, being in a desperately fragile condition, is a major systemic threat. With these increased dangers so obviously present, it would behove the Bank and the Treasury to rebuild the national gold reserves, so foolishly sold down by Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor. It is the only insurance policy against a systemic and currency collapse that is becoming more likely as inflationary policies are pursued. Government spending As mentioned above, in 2020 the government’s share of GDP rose to over 50% and there appears to be no attempt to rein it in. And for all the rhetoric about post-Brexit Britain being an attractive place to do business, any government taking half of everyone’s income and profits in the form of taxes will fail to attract as many international businesses to locate in Britain as would otherwise be possible. Government spending is inherently wasteful. To enhance economic performance, the solution is to cut government spending to as low as possible in the shortest possible time and to reduce taxes with it. But instead, the Treasury is seeking to cover the budget deficit, which was £250bn in the last fiscal year (11.7% of GDP) by increasing taxes without reforming wasteful government spending. The civil service has protected its practices by seeing off attempts by government appointees, such as Dominic Cummings, to remodel the civil service on more effective lines. Critics of the Treasury’s policies say it is better to cut taxes to encourage growth which in future will generate the taxes to cover the deficit. But with the state already taking half of everyone’s income on average in taxes, the increase in the deficit while maintaining government spending will only add to inflationary pressures. The transfer of wealth from the private sector to the public sector by the expansion of currency will more than negate any benefit to the private sector from lower taxes. And the higher interest rates from yet higher price inflation will bankrupt overindebted borrowers in a highly leveraged economy. Those who think the Bank of England is clueless about finances and economics should not omit the Treasury from their criticisms. About the only thing the Treasury gets right is the necessity to eliminate the budget deficit, albeit by the wrong approach which is simply to increase the tax burden on the private sector. But in this objective it has consistently failed, as shown in Figure 2. From the seventies, budget deficits have only been eliminated briefly in the boom times of fiscal 1989/90 and 2000/01. The OBR’s forecast of a return to near balance in 2023/24 is a demonstration of wishful thinking. On the verge of a new downturn in production brought about by unsustainable cost pressures, the deficit is likely to decline only marginally, if at all. Budget deficits create an additional problem, because without an increase in consumer savings (discouraged by the Keynesians), national accounting shows that a twin trade deficit is the consequence. And without the trade deficit contracting, the Remainers in the establishment are bound to claim that Brexit has not delivered the benefits in trade promised by the Brexiteers. Trade policy Besides gaining political independence, Brexit was said to lead to an opportunity for better terms of trade than could be obtained as a member of the EU. Britain’s industrial history and heritage is as an entrepôt, whereby goods were imported, processed, and re-exported to international markets. The concept of freeports was promoted with this in mind. The UK government has so far made laborious progress in signing trade agreements in a protectionist world. A far better approach would be to abandon trade agreements and tariffs altogether, with the sole exception of protecting some agricultural produce, for which special treatment can be justified. Today, agriculture is a small part of the economy, and the benefits to the consumer of scrapping tariffs are relatively minor, but risk fundamentally bankrupting important parts of the rural economy. To understand why Britain should abandon trade agreements for tariff free trade, we should refer to David Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage. Ricardo argued that if a distant producer was better at producing a good or service than a local one which is therefore unable to compete, then it is better to reap the benefit of the distant production and for the local producer to either find a better way of manufacturing the product, or to deploy the capital of production elsewhere. The theory was put to the test by Robert Peel, who as Prime Minister rescinded and finally repealed the Corn Laws between 1846—1849. The consequence for the British economy was that lower food prices in what was for most of the population a subsistence economy allowed the labouring masses to buy other things to improve their standard of living. Not only did living standards improve, but employment was created in the woollen, cotton, and tobacco industries and much else besides. Furthermore, other countries began to adopt free trade policies, which combined with sound money led to widespread economic improvement. By the First World War, over 80% of the world’s shipping then afloat, central to international trade, had been built in Britain. The situation today is different, in that the effect of removing food tariffs from what has become a relatively small sector is far too emotive for the potential gain. This is less true of industry, despite the undoubted cries that would emanate from protectionists. But a Glaswegian is perfectly free to buy a product made in Birmingham, or to contract for a service provided from London, even if there is an equivalent available in Glasgow. But what’s the difference between our Glaswegian buying something from Birmingham, compared with Stuttgart, or Lyons, or China? The answer is none, other than he gets more choice, and the signal sent to domestic manufacturers is they are uncompetitive. And it’s no good claiming that foreigners are unfair competition. If a foreign manufacturer is subsidised in its production, that is all to the benefit of UK consumers. Tariffs are a tax on consumers and lead to less efficient domestic production. The benefit for Britain is that if it becomes a genuinely free trade centre, international manufacturing and service activities would gravitate to the UK, providing additional employment — all the empirical evidence confirms this is what happens. It would be a direct challenge to the EU’s Fortress Europe trade policies designed to keep foreigners out. And to the degree that tariff reform is promoted, Britain would be doing the world a favour, because as in Robert Peel’s time, other nations would likely follow suit. The dirty truth about tariffs is that they are a tax on one’s own people as well as an unnecessary restriction of trade. Instead of recognising this truth and the evidence of its own experience, Britain is pursuing a halfway-house of laborious trade agreements. Through limited relief on taxes, the half-hearted proposal to set up free ports is an admission of the burden the government places on business in the normal course: otherwise, why are free ports an incentive? Far better to reduce taxes on all production and remove the tariff burdens on everyone. This conservative administration started with constructive trade policies, but the permanent establishment has whittled them down to the point where they are likely to be minimised and ineffective, confirming in its Remainer yearnings that Brexit was a political and economic blunder. Foreign policy One of the opportunities presented by Brexit was for the UK government to think through its foreign policy agenda, and how Britain can best serve itself and the rest of the world. The history of its foreign policy might have provided a guide, though it seems to have been ignored. Instead, Britain is sticking to the Foreign Office’s and intelligence services’ status quo, which is basically to be unquestioningly allied through the five-eyes partnership with America. Admittedly, it would have been difficult to do otherwise in the wake of President Trump’s successful takedown of Huawei, spreading fear of Chinese spying in a modern version of reds under the bed. But the reality of modern geopolitics is that Halford Mackinder’s Heartland Theory, first presented to the Royal Geographical Society in London in 1904, is coming true: “Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island; who rules the World-Island commands the world.” — Mackinder, Democratic Ideals and Reality, p. 150 There can be no doubt that the alliance between Putin’s Russia and Xi’s China together with the other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation are proving Mackinder’s prophecy and that they are destined to become the dominant geopolitical force in the world. Therefore, Britain remains hitched in the long term to the eventual loser when it should be reconsidering its relationship with Eastern European nations, for which read Russia. A substantial rethink over foreign policy is due, and instead of the status quo, there is profit to be had in studying the status quo ante — Britain’s foreign policies at the time of the Napoleonic wars and subsequently. Lord Liverpool was Prime Minister, with Castlereagh as Foreign Secretary and Wellington as commander-in-chief of the army. They had an iron rule never to interfere in a foreign state’s domestic policies but only to act to protect British interests. Those interests principally concern trade, and they guided foreign policy and protected British property in the colonies until the First World War. Compared with the foreign policy principals of the nineteenth century, the support given to American hegemony in attacking nations in the Middle East and North Africa on purely political grounds has been a disaster, leading to unnecessary deaths and the displacement of millions of refugees. Some of these ventures could have been prevented if Britain had not joined in. Britain’s refusal to support a Syrian invasion after a parliamentary vote turned it down was a rare example of Britain standing up for its own interests, no thanks to a government which would otherwise have sent the troops in. The US is dragging its heels with respect to a trade agreement with the UK, and that should be considered as well. A modern Castlereagh would take these factors into consideration in proposing a new treaty securing trade and defence considerations for both European nations and Russia, thereby respecting their sovereignties. There are enough elements in play for a sensible outcome, particularly if America is made to accept that its role in Europe is divisive and that it has no option but to accommodate compromise. The British government is in a unique position to broker a deal, if it can demonstrate political independence from all parties, including America. The green agenda The government’s green agenda, whereby the nation is mandated to cut carbon emissions by 78% from 1990 levels by 2035 with a target of net zero by 2050 is a deliberate policy of economic destruction. After the boost to non-fossil fuel investment, initially funded by yet more government spending, the costs imposed on the population to replace domestic heating by gas and oil with heat pumps is prohibitive and impractical. It can only be achieved by the destruction and rebuilding of swathes of existing residential and commercial properties. The energy available will be overdependent on unreliable wind and solar panel sources, and the available supply will be facing far larger demands on the grid than imposed today. Keynesians advising the government seem to believe that all the investment and rebuilding to new ecological standards stimulates economic activity — this has been argued by them before in the context of post-war reconstruction. But then Bastiat’s broken window fallacy, whereby the alternative use of economic resources is not being considered, appears to have passed them by. The green replacement of transport logistics, which is well over 95% diesel driven, is a destruction of efficient and current capacity to be replaced by electrical powered transportation whose energy source is to be shared with all other energy demands. The only possible solution to the problem created by climate change activism involves the rapid development of nuclear energy. But besides taking decades from drawing board to switch on, nuclear is stymied on cost grounds, with wind and solar being far cheaper on a per therm basis. Furthermore, only 16% of Britain’s electricity supply is nuclear, and almost half of that is due to be decommissioned by 2025, with only one new plant under construction. The UK government’s green policies are propelling the nation into an energy disaster, when it has substantial fossil fuel reserves available in the form of coal and natural gas. Coal driven electricity supply has been reduced to under 3%. Instead of being phased out it should be brought back into supply production, because scrubbers remove almost all particulates and sulphates, and doubtless can be further developed to deal with CO2 emissions as well. There are good reasons to reinstate coal and for that matter gas fracking. China and India retain and are increasing their coal powered supplies, giving them a significant energy price advantage for their own economies over the West. And while they have signed up to eventually reducing their coal dependency, it is a promise to do so at a vanishingly future date. On energy grounds alone, Britain along with other European nations are committing themselves to swapping their economic status with emerging nations, so that when the latter have fully emerged, Britain and Europe will then have the third world status. Whatever climate change debate merits, it is an argument which is not to be confused with economics. It must be admitted that in the enthusiasm for doing away with fossil fuels and primary and reliable sources of energy, under this current government the outlook for Britain’s economy is of an accelerated decline. The likely outcome of government policies From what started as a government of ministers with a strong libertarian approach, two years later we see the opportunity to improve Britain’s economic consequences sadly squandered. Politically, the position is fragile, with the Prime Minister struggling to survive in the wake of the report on Partygate and the ongoing police investigation. Furthermore, he appears to have found it far easier and more pleasurable to increase spending than address wasteful government spending. It is difficult to be optimistic, with the signs that the permanent civil service establishment remains firmly in charge and is increasing its economic and bureaucratic influence over weak ministries. Perhaps the most important of the difficulties outlined above is monetary inflation, likely to lead to higher interest rates in the coming months. This is not a trend isolated to sterling, and even on a best-case basis whereby a Conservative government addresses the issues raised in this article, it is very likely that attempts at economic, monetary, trade policy, foreign policy, and administrative reforms will be overtaken by the repetitive cycle of bank lending contraction. So highly geared have banks in the Eurozone become, for which London acts as the principal financial centre, that rising interest rates seem sure to trigger a global banking crisis with London as an epicentre on a scale larger than that of thirteen years ago when Lehman failed. Such an event is likely to destroy not only banking and central banking as we know it today, but currencies, the debasement of which socialising governments increasingly rely upon. Nevertheless, the issues raised in this article will remain and need to be addressed after a currency and credit crisis has passed and economic stability begins to return. The role for a British government with respect to foreign policy will become more important, particularly for post-crisis European political stability when the euro and possibly the entire Brussels construct have been destroyed. In this event the threat of another European war cannot be dismissed, and we will need the wisdom of a modern Lord Liverpool and Viscount Castlereagh. The destruction of the fiat currency system will provide opportunities for a reset, based on the lessons learned. The post-crisis government must learn from the mistakes of past errors and be the servant of the people and not its master. It must not interfere in the economy, and keep its size to the minimum possible, taxing no more than 10—15% of everyone’s income and profits. It must restrict its role to providing a framework for contract and criminal law and the policing of the latter, as well as the defence of the realm. It must not respond to any demands for special treatment from either businesses or individuals. Individuals must take full responsibility for their own actions, and any welfare strictly limited. And most importantly, the state must ensure that currency is sound, backed by and exchangeable for gold coin. Tyler Durden Sun, 02/06/2022 - 07:35.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 6th, 2022

What If People Actually Controlled The Government?

What If People Actually Controlled The Government? Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The Brownstone Institute, Imagine, if you will, the following system... Government is managed by elected representatives who are in turn elected by the people. Government is further restrained by checks and balances between three branches, each of which is accountable ultimately to the people who live under the laws. Unlike the ancient system of government in which the only people who were truly free were the aristocracy, under this new system, every adult citizen has political rights. No one rules over anyone without accountability.  Also part of this, no one in government has a permanent job that is exempt from oversight. The laws and rules under which people live are not invented by faceless bureaucrats but rather by representatives with names who can be voted out.  In that way, we give the idea of freedom the best-possible hope.  Sounds dreamy? A bit. We haven’t had that system in the US for a very long time, even if what I just mapped out seems more or less like what the US Constitution set up.  There are two main reasons why we are so far from that ideal.  First, the US system was supposed to exalt the juridical sovereignty of the “several states” so that the central government was of secondary importance.  Second, a fourth branch of government gradually came into existence. It is what we now call the administrative state. It consists of millions of employees with maximum power who answer to absolutely no one. The Federal Register lists 432 agencies that currently employ people who are beyond legislative reach but they still make policy and determine the structure of the regime under which we live. But we the people have no real control over them.  Not even the president can control them. This system was created with one piece of legislation in 1883 called the Pendleton Act. The New Deal exploited the new system. The administrative state even got its own constitution in 1946 called the Administrative Procedures Act. The 1984 Supreme Court decision in Chevron vs NRDC even entrenched deference to the agency’s interpretation of the law.  The result is something the Founders never imagined: hundreds of three-letter agencies exercising hegemonic control over the country. Everyone got to know this system well from 2020 as the CDC invented myriad rules on the spot that shut businesses and churches and even legislated how many people you could have in your home for a party.  This problem vexxed Donald Trump, who came to power with the promise to drain the swamp. He soon discovered that he could not because most federal employees were beyond his reach. Things got wildly out of hand after he made the enormous error of greenlighting lockdowns in a March 16, 2020 press conference. After that point and all the way until the election, his presidential powers slipped ever further as the administrative bureaucracy wielded power without precedent.  Two weeks before the election, the Trump administration innovated a solution. It was Executive Order 13957 that created a new category of federal employment called Schedule F. Any employee involved at any level in policy making would be subject to presidential oversight. It makes sense: these are executive-level agencies so the president, because he bears responsibility for what they do, should have some personnel control over them.  This order was immediately reversed by Biden when he took office, leaving Schedule F a dead letter. The administrative state is once again safe from oversight.  Let us quote Trump’s executive order at length so that we can see the thinking here. Then we’ll deal with various objections. It reads as follows: To effectively carry out the broad array of activities assigned to the executive branch under law, the President and his appointees must rely on men and women in the Federal service employed in positions of a confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating character. Faithful execution of the law requires that the President have appropriate management oversight regarding this select cadre of professionals. The Federal Government benefits from career professionals in positions that are not normally subject to change as a result of a Presidential transition but who discharge significant duties and exercise significant discretion in formulating and implementing executive branch policy and programs under the laws of the United States. The heads of executive departments and agencies (agencies) and the American people also entrust these career professionals with non‑public information that must be kept confidential… Given the importance of the functions they discharge, employees in such positions must display appropriate temperament, acumen, impartiality, and sound judgment. Due to these requirements, agencies should have a greater degree of appointment flexibility with respect to these employees than is afforded by the existing competitive service process. Further, effective performance management of employees in confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, the Government’s current performance management is inadequate, as recognized by Federal workers themselves. For instance, the 2016 Merit Principles Survey reveals that less than a quarter of Federal employees believe their agency addresses poor performers effectively. Separating employees who cannot or will not meet required performance standards is important, and it is particularly important with regard to employees in confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions. High performance by such employees can meaningfully enhance agency operations, while poor performance can significantly hinder them. Senior agency officials report that poor performance by career employees in policy-relevant positions has resulted in long delays and substandard-quality work for important agency projects, such as drafting and issuing regulations. Pursuant to my authority under section 3302(1) of title 5, United States Code, I find that conditions of good administration make necessary an exception to the competitive hiring rules and examinations for career positions in the Federal service of a confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating character. These conditions include the need to provide agency heads with additional flexibility to assess prospective appointees without the limitations imposed by competitive service selection procedures. Placing these positions in the excepted service will mitigate undue limitations on their selection. This action will also give agencies greater ability and discretion to assess critical qualities in applicants to fill these positions, such as work ethic, judgment, and ability to meet the particular needs of the agency. These are all qualities individuals should have before wielding the authority inherent in their prospective positions, and agencies should be able to assess candidates without proceeding through complicated and elaborate competitive service processes or rating procedures that do not necessarily reflect their particular needs. Conditions of good administration similarly make necessary excepting such positions from the adverse action procedures set forth in chapter 75 of title 5, United States Code. Chapter 75 of title 5, United States Code, requires agencies to comply with extensive procedures before taking adverse action against an employee. These requirements can make removing poorly performing employees difficult. Only a quarter of Federal supervisors are confident that they could remove a poor performer. Career employees in confidential, policy-determining, policy‑making, and policy-advocating positions wield significant influence over Government operations and effectiveness. Agencies need the flexibility to expeditiously remove poorly performing employees from these positions without facing extensive delays or litigation. Part of the order pushed an internal review of all agencies to reclassify employees, thus making them subject to normal standards of employment – the same ones that every person in the private sector adheres to.  Why is there resistance aside from the high-stakes effort to keep the current despotism in place? Let’s look at the sincere objections.  Schedule F would bring back the spoils system The term itself is a smear of system in which the elected leadership can actually make a difference in public life. Are cronies hired? Yes. Are good people sometimes fired? Probably. But the alternative is dictatorship by the bureaucracy itself and that is what is truly intolerable. Instead of the “spoils system,” a state in which the elected leaders can enact policy by controlling personnel is called representative democracy. It is also the system the Constitution gave us.  Trump issued Schedule F because he wanted more power  Depends on what you mean by more power. More power over the bureaucracy, yes, but the driving motivation here was to emancipate power from being ruled by bureaucrats that he could not control. It was also designed to stop the bureaucracy from working directly with the media to undermine through lies and smears the work of the administration. In words, elected leaders absolutely do need more power over the deep state.  This would gut government of expertise  There is this strange presumption that educational credentials and a permanent job equals expertise plus good outcomes. That is very obviously untrue. Good outcomes come from basic competence and a work ethic. Those are in short supply in government precisely because the turnover rate is less than zero, unlike the private sector. Anyone who has worked in a federal agency knows this. The best way to unleash genuine expertise is through normal job accountability.  Presidents would use this to politicize the bureaucracy  This is a decent point but the bureaucracy is already heavily politicized, and always in the direction of policies that push more power and money toward the government. Everyone knows this. Is there a danger that a radically and dangerous president would press bureaucrats into even further politicization? Yes, but there is an easy solution to this one: cut the reach and power of the agencies themselves, consistent with the Constitution. Finally – a crucial point – elected leaders could override the influence of private industry which has captured their operations. Bureaucracies would get around this by minimizing Schedule F designations  They would certainly attempt this but that would require that employees refrain from ”policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions.” That would be very great! If they eschewed Schedule F and did that anyway, the Office of Personnel Management could hunt them down and the agency itself would be responsible for illegal actions.  There are surely some downsides to the system as Trump imagined it but all of them trace to the inflated powers of the federal government itself. Yes, a vastly ambitious government machinery will always need bureaucracies and they will always have problems with waste, abuse, and unneeded exercise of power. Perhaps, then, the best long-term effect of Schedule F would be to inspire a rethinking of government’s role in a free society.  It seems remarkable that the executive order creating Schedule F was issued at all. It needs to be pressed upon any future reformers as a path to revisit, ideally with legislative support. Until that time, there will continue to be the grave problem that our elected officials are positioned to be little more than dancing marionettes while the administrative state wields all the real power.  Tyler Durden Fri, 07/01/2022 - 23:10.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJul 1st, 2022

Victor Davis Hanson: America Is More Fragile Than The Left Understands

Victor Davis Hanson: America Is More Fragile Than The Left Understands Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via, "There is a great deal of ruin in a nation." - Adam Smith The Left has been tempting fate since January 2021 - applying its nihilist medicine to America on the premise that such a rich patient can ride out any toxic shock. Our elites assume that all our nation’s past violent protests, all its would-be revolutions, all its cultural upheavals, all its institutionalized lawlessness were predicated on one central truth—America’s central core is so strong, so rich, and so resilient that it can withstand almost any assault.  So, we can afford 120 days in 2020 of mass rioting, $2 billion in damage, some 35 killed, and 1,500 police injured.  We can easily survive an Afghanistan, and our utter and complete military humiliation. There was no problem in abandoning some $70-80 billion in military loot to terrorists. Who cares that we tossed off a billion-dollar new embassy, and jettisoned a $300-million refitted air base, as long as our pride flags were waving in Kabul? Certainly, we can afford to restructure all our universities, eliminate free expression and speech, and institute Maoist cultural revolutionary fervor in our revered institutions of higher learning—once the world’s greatest levers of scientific advancement and technological progress.  We can jettison merit in every endeavor, from banning the world’s great books to grading math tests to running chemistry experiments. And still, a resilient America won’t notice. We assumed that our foundational documents—the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution—our natural bounty in North America, our cherished rule of law, our legal immigration traditions that drew in the most audacious and hardworking on the planet, and our guarantees of personal freedom and liberty led to such staggering wealth and affluence that nothing much that this mediocre generation could do would ever endanger our resilience. But such inheritances are not written in stone. America, as the world’s only successful multiracial democratic republic, was always fragile. It was and is always one generation away from disappearing—should any cohort become so foolish as to mock its past, dismantle its institutions, revert to tribalism, redistribute rather than create wealth, and consume rather than invest.  We are that generation. And we have an accounting with nature’s limitations, given there is always a corrective, not a nice one, but remediation nonetheless for every excess.  Our major cities are no longer safe. Somehow, the Left has nearly wrecked San Francisco in less than a decade. A once beautiful and vibrant city is lawless, dirty, toxic, often boarded up, and losing population. It has turned into a medieval keep of well-protected knights in secure fiefs while everyone else is engaged in a bellum omnium contra omnes. We know it is so because California public officials talk of anything and everything—Roe v. Wade, transitions to electric cars, hundreds of millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief for illegal aliens—to mask their utter impotence to address feces in the street, the random assaults on the vulnerable, and the inability to park a car and return to it intact. Ditto the Dodge City downtowns of Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Baltimore, Washington, and a host of others. In just four or five years, they have given up on fully funding the police, aggressive prosecutors indicting the violent, and ubiquitous civil servants ensuring the streets are free of trash, vermin, flotsam, jetsam, and human excrement.  There are natural reactions to such excess. The most terrifying is that our once-great cities, especially their downtowns, will simply shrink into something like ghost towns—our versions of an out-West Bodie, or an abandoned Roman city in the sand like Leptis Magna, or a Chernobyl.  But the culprit will not be a played-out mine, or encroaching desert, or a nuclear meltdown, but the progressive leadership of a worn-out, bankrupt people who no longer possess the confidence to keep their urban civilization safe and viable. And so, they either fled, or joined the mob, or locked themselves up in fortified citadels, both in fear to go out and terrified of losing what they owned.  We are seeing that deterioration already in our major cities. Stores are boarded up. Women cease to walk alone after sunset. Police officers walking the beat are now rare. Hate crimes, smash-and-grab robberies, and carjackings go unpunished. Streets are filthy and littered. Commerce and human interaction cease at dusk, as if in expectation that zombies will emerge to control the streets. Criminals when arrested are not always identified—the media censoring names and descriptions on their own selective theories of social justice. But again, the culprit is not the COVID plague or want of money. It is us, we who turned over our cities to the incompetent, the selfish, the timid, and the violent.  There is again an antidote. But doubling the police force, bringing back broken-windows policing, electing tough prosecutors, moving the homeless from the downtown into hospitals and supervised shelters beyond the suburbs, arresting, convicting, and incarcerating the guilty—all that seems well beyond this generation’s capacity.  Would not such efforts be unfair to the mere rock-thrower? Who says the fentanyl user has no right to defecate on the street? Would not our jails become overcrowded? Would the incarcerated be unduly overrepresented by this or that group? Joe Biden took a strong economy—albeit one that after three serial spendthrift presidencies faced huge national debt and a rendezvous with fiscal sobriety—and has utterly ruined it.  He discouraged labor participation with federal checks. He ensured that his minions on the politicized Federal Reserve Board would keep interest rates artificially low. Biden inflated the money supply while debasing the value of the currency. He brought back mindless regulation and put ideological commissars in place to ensure the corporations, banks, and Wall Street would be woke, allowing ideology to warp ancient economic laws that kept prices stable, supply and demand in balance, and incentives to work and profit.  Many thought Biden would have needed at least four or five years to wreck such a strong economy with such nihilism rather than a mere 16 months. Yet nature is about to step in with a recession and perhaps even a depression to correct the Biden madness. If interest rates rise, capital dries up, businesses close, employers cut back, consumers no longer have access to easy money, and the nation becomes inert, then the country will be worse off, spend less—and that too will be a brutal solution of sorts to Biden’s hyperinflation and stagflation. Still, it is hard to see how anyone in the government might prefer the proper and necessary medicine at this late hour. An updated Simpson-Bowles plan still could address long-term insolvency. Meaningless regulations could be pruned back. The tax code could be radically altered and simplified to encourage investment rather than consumption. Entitlements could be calibrated by incentives to become productive rather than to remain inert. All of that might return us to a sound currency, a strong GDP, long-term financial solvency, and general prosperity for all. But are not such medicines perceived as worse than the disease? There is an answer to the open border, when upwards of 4 million illegal aliens will flow into the United States in a mere two years, for the most part without audits, English, capital, income, and vaccinations—and with no idea how to house, feed, or provide health care for millions without background checks. At this late date, the corrections of stopping catch and release, ending amnesties, hiring more border patrol officers and immigration judges, or building more detention centers are too little too late. Eventually, Americans will become acculturated to large enclaves of endemic poverty, as millions with no familiarity with the United States are neither assimilated nor integrated.  The border will then disappear, and northern Mexico and the southern United States will become indistinguishable, as millions simply drift back and forth in the manner of an ancient Gaul or Germania. Large areas of Texas, Arizona, and California are already returning to such pre-state status. Or the alternate corrective will be the completion of a massive wall from the Pacific to the Gulf, with strict audits of all would-be immigrants, immediate deportations for lawbreakers, and legal only immigration that is measured, diverse, and meritocratic. We are reaching the inflection point quickly and will either experience the absolute destruction of the border or a radical backlash, given that the current mess is unsustainable. Either a nation with borders survives or a tribal and nomadic region supplants it. If America chooses to shut down refineries, put our rich oil and natural gas fields off-limits, cancel pipelines, and demonize the fossil fuel industry, then, of course, prices for carbon fuels will explode.  The Biden Administration talks nonsensically about Teslas, batteries, and electric replacements. But it is not greenlighting mining for the critical minerals needed for batteries. It is not encouraging nuclear power plants to provide enough power for a clean fleet of 200 million electric cars. There is no Marshall Plan to wean America off mostly non-polluting natural gas and gasoline onto electricity-hungry engines. Instead, Biden begs the Saudis, the Russians, the Venezuelans, and even the Iranians to pump the fuel he will not. He seeks to drain the Strategic Petroleum Reserve that can supply only a fraction of the oil America gulps daily. He defines his own pre-midterm, self-created mess as a national emergency to tap a reserve he could never fill or refill. So, what is the natural corrective to unaffordable fuel?  A likely Biden recession or depression, in which the middle classes simply do not enjoy jobs that pay enough to afford $6-9-a-gallon gas. And so, they will not drive. Vacations, optional shopping trips, and visits to friends—all that and more will taper off. Gas will stabilize at near-European levels, and the people, as planned, will be rerouted into dirty and unsafe subways and mass transit.  Biden will be happy. But America won’t be the same mobile country.  America’s bounty was predicated on each generation following the prompt of the prior, modulating when change was necessary, but not daring to tamper with the foundational principles and values that explained our singular wealth, power, and leisure.  This generation in its arrogance tested fate. It felt itself smarter and morally superior to its betters of the past. It lost that wager and now we the public are paying for its foolishness. To destroy America as we have always known it, there was far less necessary to ruin than our elite believed. Like a stunned adolescent whose reckless incompetence totaled the family car, the Left seems shocked that America proved so fragile after all. Tyler Durden Mon, 06/27/2022 - 16:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 27th, 2022

Suze Orman predicts stubborn inflation, more pain for stocks, and a recession by early next year. Here are her 10 best quotes from a new interview.

The "Women & Money" author warns against betting the farm on crypto, and expects oil prices to surge and house prices to be resilient. Suze Orman.Riccardo S. Savi / Contributor/ Getty Images Suze Orman predicts stubborn inflation, more pressure on stocks, and a recession by early next year. The personal-finance expert sees oil prices soaring and house prices holding up. Orman views crypto as a risky investment, and recommends owning stocks that pay solid dividends. Inflation will linger, stocks will tumble further, and the US economy will slump into a recession, Suze Orman said in a recent Yahoo Finance interview.Orman, a personal-finance guru, is the author of "Women & Money" and hosts a podcast of the same name. She touted income stocks, predicted oil prices would climb even higher, dismissed fears of a housing crash, and recommended investors limit their exposure to cryptocurrencies.Here are Orman's 10 best quotes, lightly edited for length and clarity:1. "People really, really need to get that this is here to stay for quite a while." (Orman was referring to elevated inflation.)2. "What do you do with money today? It's a bit tricky if you ask me." (She underscored the challenge of finding investments that will generate returns above the rate of inflation.)3. "I personally think we are heading into a recession, a mild one, either at the end of this year or the beginning of next year." (Orman added that many Americans have seen their retirement accounts shrink in value, and have had to cash out investments to pay their bills, putting them in a precarious position even if there isn't a recession.)4. "If you lose your job, this time the government isn't going to save you, you're going to have to save yourself. If you don't have at least a 12-month emergency fund, you better start working on that right now, because if you don't, you could find yourself in serious trouble." 5. "I don't think this is the end of it by any means. We're experiencing a bull bounce within a bear market. We have a whole lot more to go down, and come August, September, that's when we may see it get a little bit ugly." (Orman was referring to the stock market's tumble and partial recovery this year.)6. "Overall, if you want to be safe and sound, get dividend-paying stocks that are paying you at least 3% or more. Make sure you know about the companies and how they work, so at least you're getting something while these markets continue down."7. "Oil will go up to about $135, maybe $145 a barrel. But you need to watch your oil stocks carefully, because it can turn on a dime." (Orman's price target suggests up to 41% upside for West Texas Intermediate crude, which was trading at about $103 at the time of writing.)8. "I don't think you're going to see homes go down in value really. The truth is, real estate always does pretty well during a recession. What will change, however, is the anxiety of buyers." (Orman predicted house sellers would no longer receive dozens of offers above their asking prices, and warned buyers would face pricier mortgages and higher property taxes, insurance premiums, and maintenance costs.)9. "Bitcoin, ethereum, solana, all of them — you have to be a little careful right now. It seems like they may be regulated under commodities, and what does that do to the freedom of them? My advice is you can put a small part of your portfolio in it, no more than 5%. I would only put money in it that I could afford to lose, because there are too many unknowns with it."10. "I hate the fact that kids are taking out such large student loans. I'm not even sure, given artificial intelligence and where things are going, that our workforce isn't going to be replaced by robots and machines. Will they even find a job in the future, and was college worth it? I don't know."Read more: After another brutal week for stocks and a big rate hike by the Fed are we closing in on a market bottom? 3 experts weigh in on where all this leaves investorsRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJun 22nd, 2022

DEFCON 2... Or Cutting Off The Nose To Spite The Face

DEFCON 2... Or Cutting Off The Nose To Spite The Face By Peter Tchir of Academy Securities I had difficulty choosing a title for today. DEFCON 2 made a lot of sense as I’m increasingly worried about the economy and the market – for this summer. On the one hand I’m so perplexed by the messaging that the Fed is prepared to trigger a recession in its fight with inflation that I can’t help but think about cutting off your nose to spite the face. I could almost see Powell starting the press conference with “this is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you,” which based on my experience, is rarely true. Inflation - Food To expect monetary policy to reduce food prices seems like a stretch. We all must consume some basic level of food regardless of our income level. Sure, maybe the rich eat more Kraft dinners with fancy ketchup [apologies to the Barenaked Ladies], but food consumption seems relatively inelastic. Maybe lowering the cost of fuel will help reduce the cost of food [shipping, the farmer's use of diesel, etc.], but I'm not sure that will happen quickly enough [or be impactful enough] to help the average consumer in the meantime. Many of those consumers are now facing higher costs of funding - anything from credit cards to ARMs, or any new loan that they are looking at. The supply chain disruption in primarily wheat [and other basic groins due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine] is real and is likely to lost into next year. The longer that lasts, the more stockpiles will be eroded. That is a problem not impacted much one way or the other by interest rates. The shortage of fertilizer [a topic of conversation] will admittedly be helped by reduced energy prices [if the Fed achieves that], but again, I'm not sure this provides much near-term relief, Food, which may or may not be accurately reflected in official inflation measures [when I write may or may not I mean definitely not, but don't want to sound too aggressive] is unlikely to see price declines to the point where the consumer is helped materially. While the official data may or may not be accurate, the consumers know the "real world'' costs and that is affecting their behavior, their sentiment, their outlook, and ultimately their spending, I remain extremely worried about food inflation. Inflation - Energy I'm not sure that even the "after school" specials that used to air on broadcast TV [that always had a morality message] could come up with a plot where the "hero" beats up on the "villain" for most of the show, only to realize that the "villain" has something they need, Then the "hero" reaches out to the "villain" to strike a "mutually" beneficial deal and the "villain," which is so overjoyed to become part of the "good team," immediately acquiesces to that and ignores all the previous messaging, Weirdly, it is a plot too unbelievable for a children's special, but one that "we" (collectively] seem to think will work with Iron, Venezuela, and the Saudis. I won't even touch on the "side plot" of the long-overlooked friend, eagerly waiting for o word of encouragement from the "hero" and ready to step up and deliver, finding itself being treated worse than the "villain" at a time of need. If you missed the Academv Podcast that was "dropped" (I think that's the cool term for it] on Friday, I highly recommend listening to it, General Kearney [ret,] leads the conversation, along with Rachel Washburn, Michael Rodriguez [from an ESG perspective], and me, on nuclear proliferation, the nuclear geopolitical landscape, and also, crucially important, thoughts on the future of nuclear energy, But I've digressed, as those energy issues are really more issues related to D.C. and policy rather than anything controlled by interest rates and Fed policy, But maybe after all I didn't digress that much because I don't see how Fed policy helps reduce energy prices, other than if they are "successful” in derailing the economy. Again, much like food, individuals can only tinker with their need for energy. All of this has a limited impact on overall consumption: keeping the house warmer in the summer, colder in the carpooling a winter, carpooling a bit more, being more organized on errands, convincing the bosses that WFH is good for the environment, etc. Higher energy costs are already causing the demand shrinkage from consumers and I don't see any direct way that higher rates will help reduce gas demand or prices, unless, again, the Fed is "successful" in making the economy worse by a significant margin. On the other side of the coin, higher interest rates seem likely to increase the cost of new production and storage. Any company tying up working capital or expanding production is now experiencing higher interest costs and logic dictates that they will try and pass some of those costs on or not embark on some projects due to the higher cost of funds, So, the rate hikes’ direct impact on energy prices is to probably push them higher as the production and distribution systems face higher costs. Reducing Energy Prices, aka, Hitting the Economy Hard If interest rates are going to reduce energy prices it is going to come from cratering demand for anything and everything that uses energy that can be affected by interest rates! Housing/Real Estate/Construction. I have no idea how much energy goes into building a new home, but I assume a non-trivial amount, The materials that go into constructing a building can be energy intensive [copper piping, etc,], The transportation of these materials to the building site is also expensive, We are already seeing negative data in the housing sector [new home permits are down, expectations for new home sales are declining, the Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index is at its lowest level in a decade [except very briefly in March 2020 during the Covid lockdowns], I'm sure I could find more dato pointing to housing slowing, but maybe highlighting that the 5/1 ARM national average is at 4.1% versus 2.75% at the start of the year, is sufficient, We could look at 30-year mortgages and really shock you, but I think that the 5/1 is as interesting as the rate environment because it demonstrates that there is little relief anywhere along the curve for those needing new mortgages. Autos. Annualized total U.S, auto sales [published by WARD'S automotive] have fallen recently. This measure has been "choppy" to say the least as auto sales have clearly been hit by supply issues. For many makes and models, I'm hearing the wait time is 6 months for a car where you pick the features and it is built to your specifications [which had become the "normal" way of buying cars]. So, maybe, just maybe, the sales here are still being impacted by that, but I’d have to guess that rising auto loan costs are playing a role as well. The Manheim used vehicle value index is still very high, but has stabilized of late. If that stabilization is related to higher loan costs, then it is bad for the auto industry. If it is related to new cars and trucks being more readily available, it isn't a great sign, since that means the new auto sales indications cannot be entirely explained away by supply constraints. My understanding, given the steel and other components, is a lot of energy goes into producing a new automobile. So, I guess it is "good" news that slowing auto sales [and presumably production] will curb energy demand? Consumer Purchases and Delivery, Everywhere you turn there are stories and anecdotes about consumer purchasing slowing down, CONsumer CONfidence [as discussed last weekend] is atrocious! Not only does energy go into the production of the goods that the consumer was purchasing, but with home delivery being such a feature of today's purchasing behavior, energy consumption should go down as delivery services slow down [and as they continue to become more efficient - a process spurred on by higher gas prices]. I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry. Higher interest rates will "help" reduce demand for autos, housing, and general consumer consumption, Apparently, that is good, because it reduces demand for energy and energy inflation [as well as inflation for those products]. I can see that, but I cannot help but think that we need to Be Careful What You Wish For! A Special Place in Hell for Inventories I fear that inventories were a big part of the rise in inflation and would contribute to stabilizing prices [all else being equal] and that recent rate hikes are going to turn a "normal" normalization into something far more dangerous, Manufacturing and Trade Inventories grew from 2014 until COVID at a steady pace, This seemed to correlate nicely with the growing U.S. and global economy. They dropped with supply chain issues, but were back to pre-COVID levels by last summer. Then, from late last summer until the end of April [most recent data point for this series], these inventories grew rapidly! Companies worried about supply chain issues overstocked. This could lead to much lower future orders. Companies shifting to "just in case" from "just in time" need higher inventories, so that part would be stable, but costs of carrying inventory have increased, Maybe companies used straight line extrapolation to accumulate inventory to meet expected consumer demand. That is bad for inventories if the demand isn't materializing! It is extra bad if consumers pulled forward demand in response to their supply chain concerns, meaning that any simplistic estimate of future demand [always problematic, though easy] is even further off the mark as the extrapolation was based on a faulty premise [which is not thinking consumers responded to supply chain issues]. We may have an inventory overhang in the economy. While inventories are significantly higher than pre-COVID levels, the number of people working has still not returned to pre-COVID levels, Yeah, I get that it is far easier to "spend now, pay later" than it used to be through a variety of fintech solutions [ignoring rising interest costs] and that the "wealth effect" and "gambling" culture allows for more spending per job [or maybe it did a few months ago, but not now?] Maybe I'm just a stick in the mud, but... When I look at this chart, I see the correlation between total number of people working and inventory has been completely dislocated! [It also makes me question some of the supply chain issues we allegedly have]. Again, this potential inventory overhang is "amazing" if you want to slow orders and "fix" inflation by having to work off excess inventory rather than adding more. Apologies, if you're tired of reading my snarky comments about things being "good" for inflation fighting. I'm tired of writing them, but cannot think of what else to do. But the Economy is So Resilient? More on this later,,. The "Disruptive Portfolio" Wealth Destruction We have examined the concept of Disruptive Portfolio Construction and continue to think that this is playing a major role in how markets are trading, but increasingly this creates a potential shock to the economy, Let's start with crypto, Bitcoin briefly dropped below $19,000 Saturday morning. I have no idea where it will be by the time you are reading this, but I am targeting $10,000 or less for bitcoin within a month or so. First the "altcoins" [some of which are derisively referred to as "sh*t-coins"] are a complete mess. Solana is down 88% from its November 2021 highs and is roughly back to where it "debuted" in June 2012. Dogecoin, which I think was originally created as a joke, but rose to 70 cents [I think the weekend of Elon Musk's Saturday Night Live appearance] is back to 5 cents, which I guess is still good for something that was originally created as a joke. Ethereum, a "smart contract" that has some use cases very different than bitcoin and was often talked about as a superior product, is down 80% from its November 2021 highs. Under the Bloomberg CRYP page there are 25 things listed as "Crypto Assets". Maybe if I looked at each one I'd find some with a different story, but somehow, I doubt it. Okay, I lied, I couldn't resist, I had never heard of Polkadot, but it looks like it was launched in April 2021 at $40, declined to $11, rallied to $54 in November 2021, and is now down to $7 [at least the name is still cute]. But bitcoin is the story I’m looking at because it is the biggest and the one that seems to have the most direct ties to the broader market. Crypto, to me, is often about adoption. It was why I got bullish a couple of years ago and caught at least part of the wave. Back then, every day some new, easier, better way to own crypto was being announced. Companies and famous billionaires were putting it on their corporate balance sheets. FOMO was everywhere with people racing to put ever higher targets on its future price and those who didn't have anyone to jump on to the bandwagon with were hiring people who could put on an ever-higher price target with a straight face. That ended a while ago and we are in the "disadoption" phase [spellcheck says disadoption isn't a word, but I'm sticking with it]. Or as I wrote the other day, which the FT picked up on, we have moved from FOMO [Fear Of Missing Out] to FOHO [Fear of Holding On]. Even more concerning is a world where HODLING [originally either a mistype of HOLDING that gained traction or short for Holding On for Dear Life] is more prevalent and many people are now unable to exit their positions even if they wanted to. There are some serious "plumbing" issues right now in the crypto space. Maybe the decentralized nature of crypto will work and be extremely resilient [I cannot fully discount that possibility] but maybe, just maybe, there is a reason banks and exchanges have regulators who enforce rules to protect everyone [yes, I can already see the flame mail accusing me of FUD and not understanding how self-regulating is better, etc, but then all I do is spend about 10 minutes looking at some of the shills out there and fall back to thinking "adult supervision" might be wise]. Stablecoins. Stablecoins are what I would call a "thunk" layer in programming language, It is an intermediate layer between two things, in this case, cryptocurrencies and fiat, Terra/LUNA got wiped out, but it was an "algo" based stablecoin which many, in hindsight, say was a flawed design [clearly it was], but that didn't stop it from growing to $20 billion with some big-name investors engaged. Tether is the one garnering a lot of attention now. It is still the largest stablecoin and it did survive on "attack" of sorts after the Terra/LUNA fiasco. The issue with Tether is that it purports to be fully backed by "safe" assets, yet will not produce audited financials. The disarray in stablecoins should at the very least slow adoption. Freezing Accounts. Celsius blocked withdrawals 5 days ago and as of the time I'm typing this, it was still frozen. Babel Finance announced Friday that it would stop withdrawals. I found this one particularly interesting, as in May, according to news reports, it raised $80 million in a Series B financing, valuing it at $2 billion. Maybe needing to suspend withdrawals isn't a big issue, or maybe it is a sign of how rapidly things can change in the space? Right now, I’d be more worried about extracting value from the system rather than adding to the system. Yes, these are isolated cases [so far] and there are some big players in the space which presumably are not at risk of such an event, but having lived through WorldCom and Enron, and then the mortgage fiasco of 2008, I'm heavily skewed to believing that the piping issues will spread and get worse before they get better. Industry Layoffs. In a rapidly evolving industry, one with so much potential, it makes me nervous how quickly we are seeing layoffs announced publicly or finding out about them privately. Maybe I'm cynical, but to me that signals that the insiders aren't seeing adoption increase, which for anything as momentum dependent as crypto has been, seems like a signal for more pain. The big question is how many of the "whales" and big "hodlers" will buy here to stabilize their existing holdings or whether some level of risk management is deemed prudent. You cannot go more than two minutes talking to a true believer without "generational wealth" being mentioned [trust me, I've tried]. At what point does wanting to stay really rich become the goal rather than trying for generational wealth, even if it means converting back ("cringe") to something as miserable as fiat? I expect more wealth destruction in crypto and that will hurt the economy! The wealth itself is gone, curbing spending [I'm already noticing how much I miss the Lambo photos all over social media]. The jobs are now disappearing, curbing spending. The advertising will likely slow down [though not having to watch Matt Damon or LeBron wax on about crypto might be a good thing for our sanity]. But seriously, ad dollars from this lucrative source [I'm assuming it's lucrative given how often ads appear in my social stream, during major sporting events, and even in an arena [or two] could be drying up just as retailers are also struggling. It seems that every week there is a conference somewhere dedicated to crypto [with Miami and Austin seemingly becoming a non-stop crypto conference/party]. This could turn out to hurt many companies and even some cities, Semiconductor purchases could decline. Mining rigs have been a big user of semiconductors, All you have to do is pull up a chart of bitcoin versus some select semi-conductor manufacturers and the correlation is obvious, Energy usage could decline. If mining slows [as a function of lower prices and less activity] then we might see less energy used by the crypto mining industry [the public miners are in some cases down almost 90% from their November 2021 highs, presumably because the industry is less profitable]. Ultimately this could reduce energy prices and semiconductor prices/backlogs, which would generally be good for the broader economy and would help the Fed on their inflation fight, but could hurt some individual firms that rely on this industry. My outlook for crypto is that we have more downside in sight and that will hurt broader markets and might do far more damage to the economy than many of the crypto haters realize. It is fine to dislike crypto, but it is naïve not to realize how much wealth was there helping spending and how impactful a slowdown on this industry could be! Which brings me briefly to "disruptive" stocks. The wealth created by these companies was simply astounding, Whether remaining in the hands of private equity or coming public through IPOs or via a SPAC, there was incredible wealth generated, Investors were rewarded, but so were the founders, sponsors, and employees! There was great wealth created as these innovators and disruptors [along with a mix of more traditional companies] were rewarded. I am extremely concerned about the employee wealth lost. I cannot imagine the personal wealth destruction that has occurred for many, especially mid-level to mildly senior employees. Just enough of a taste of the equity exposure to do well.  Many have restrictions so have not exited and many had options, not all of which were struck at zero, so they may be back to zero, That wealth lost has to translate into lower economic activity, especially as the losses seem more persistent than they might have been a few months ago! But investors have also been hit hard, and possibly harder than most people factor in. I will use ARKK here to illustrate an important point and why a subset of investors is in far more financial difficulty than might be apparent [assuming "traditional" portfolio construction]. ARKK, not accounting for dividends, is back to where it traded in the aftermath of the COVID shutdowns in March 2020. The number of shares outstanding have almost tripled since then. Yes, the number of shares traded daily is large and they frequently change hands, but on average, this shows that some large number of shares were issued as the fund price rallied. Many of those investors [on average] were originally reworded, but now, on average, those shares are somewhere between small losses and serious carnage. ARKK is down to $7.7 billion in AUM as of Friday from a peak of $28 billion in March 2021. The bulk of that change in market cap can be attributed to performance as shares outstanding are still near their peak. I highlight ARKK because I don't feel like talking about individual companies, the portfolio has changed so much, the performance is more generic than company specific, and ETFs are often just the observable "tip of the iceberg" of major trends that are more difficult to observe, but are still happening, TQQQ, the triple leveraged QQQ, exhibits a similar pattern and all the gambling stocks are doing poorly, which I attribute to incredible wealth destruction for a subset of investors, The three groups that I believe were most hurt are: Relatively young people, who took a very aggressive approach to trading/gambling [with relatively small amounts of money] that they can make back via their job earnings over time [or they might now need a job if they were living off of the trading/gambling money]. I don't see a material economic impact from this group, It may even encourage workforce participation, Aggressive disruptive investors. Many people went all-in on some version of a disruptive portfolio [I didn't even bring up those who treated mega-tech stocks as a bank account with dividends and upside], There could be some serious wealth lost here that will affect the economy [and is likely already affecting the economy], Employees, some of whom also adopted disruptive portfolios. As the likelihood of a near-term rebound recedes, there will be wealth preservation as a focus. The number of IPOs and SPACs that are not just below their all-time highs, but below their launch prices, is scary, and that really hurts the employees, or at least those who couldn't sell, didn't sell, or sold, but diversified into a disruptive portfolio. This is all deflationary (which I’m told is a good thing] but I cannot see how this is a good thing for the economy or broader markets! But the Economy is So Resilient? I challenge this. If we have an inventory overhang, the economy may grind to a halt far quicker than many are expecting. If banks start tightening lending practices [clear evidence this is occurring and will likely get worse than better] we will see credit contraction and that will feed into the economy, rapidly. We have NEVER gone from low rates and QE to higher rates and QT successfully [we haven't had many attempts, but I remain convinced that QE is very different than rate cuts and that it affects asset prices quite directly - see Stop Trying to Translate Balance Sheet to BPS. The wealth effect must be bad overall and devastating to some segments. My view is that: Things definitely hit faster than people realized. Often the inflection point has already occurred while many are still applying straight line extrapolation to what they perceive to be the still “existing" trend. "Gumming" up the piping often leads to more problems, rather than a quick solution [and I completely believe the current high levels of volatility in markets and lack of depth in liquidity is a form of gumming up the pipes]. If the problem hits the financial sector it is too late (unless immediate/strong support from central banks is provided). So far, the banking sector is looking good, though Europe is lagging the U.S, in that respect. The ECB came up with half-hearted efforts to reduce Italian bond yields relative to others. The JGB stuck to their yield curve targeting, but markets will soon just expect that to get reversed at their next meeting. Finally, the Fed, unlike in March 2020, will have difficulty reversing course and helping. The good news is so far this isn’t hitting the banking system, but I am watching this sector closely, especially in Europe. Risk happens fast! It's a phrase often said, but often ignored. I'm not ignoring it right now. Commodity Wars? This is a bigger question, and one that is coming up more frequently, but have we entered into a global "war" to secure natural resources? I think that, increasingly, this is the reality we live in and that will be inflationary, just like reshoring, onshoring, securing supply chains, and “transforming“ energy production/ distribution, etc., will all be inflationary longer-term as well, But I've taken up too much space already today and that isn’t a question that needs to be answered to drive my current thinking, Bottom Line I am including what I wrote last week because it largely worked and my views haven't materially changed, I added some color and exactness on the views while definitely shifting from DEFCON 3 to DEFC0N2. I want to own Treasuries here at the wide end of the range, but for the first time, I'm scared that we could break out of this range (big problem]. The 10-year finished almost unchanged on the week, going from 3.16% last Friday to close at 3.23% (it did gap to 3.48% on Tuesday]. The swings in the 2-year were even more "insane" given the level and maturity. So, as recession talk heats up, yields should go down, but I’d spend a bit of option premium protecting against a rapid gap to higher yields. Credit spreads should outperform equities here, though both may be weak, (Verbatim from last week]. Equities could be hit by the double whammy of earnings concerns and multiple reduction. I am told there is a lot of support, but I think that we see new lows this week unless central banks change their tune, which seems incredibly unlikely). I still find it mind boggling that we prefer recession to inflation. Crypto should remain under pressure. I think bitcoin will be sub $20k< before it reaches $35k. Now I think it will be $12,000 before $24,000. Have a great Father's Day and enjoy the Juneteenth long weekend! (Though, I have to admit, I kind of wish markets were open on Monday because this is the trading environment that deep down, I have to admit, I enjoy!] Tyler Durden Tue, 06/21/2022 - 07:20.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJun 21st, 2022

How To Retire Early – The Definitive Guide

Have you dreamed of early retirement? ‌How about the freedom it brings – financial and otherwise? ‌It’s not just you who dreams of‌ ‌early‌ ‌retirement. In fact, since 1992, people have embraced the F.I.R.E. movement. ‌It has become more popular in recent years. ‌As an example, Natixis Investment Managers reported that Generation Y (ages 26-61) […] Have you dreamed of early retirement? ‌How about the freedom it brings – financial and otherwise? ‌It’s not just you who dreams of‌ ‌early‌ ‌retirement. In fact, since 1992, people have embraced the F.I.R.E. movement. ‌It has become more popular in recent years. ‌As an example, Natixis Investment Managers reported that Generation Y (ages 26-61) wants to retire at the age of 60 on average. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q1 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more There is a slight hiccup, unfortunately. 59% of Americans don’t believe that have enough to retire, let along retire early. There are number of reasons why a majority of people feel this way. Everything from overwhelming debt, the impact of the pandemic, and inflation. At the same time, all is not lost. ‌As well as getting your retirement savings back on track, you might be able to‌ still ‌retire‌ ‌early. How? Well, let’s show you in the following guide. What is Early Retirement? Before‌ ‌you commit to early retirement, make sure you understand what exactly it means. In the past, early retirement was defined as retiring before the age of‌ ‌65. ‌Technically, this is true. Nevertheless, it’s an evolving concept. You don’t have to give up work completely by taking early retirement. ‌Rather, your employment is purely voluntary. ‌That means you’re free to live your life as you see fit. Why? Because you have the financial freedom to do so. Believe it or not, people as young as 30 or 40 can take early retirement. ‌But most of them also work in some capacity, such as with their passion projects or other endeavors. More simply put, people who work this way do it for themselves, not because they have to. It is important to remember that work can be fulfilling, meaningful, and purposeful. ‌Additionally, some studies suggest that people who retire early and do not work at all may die earlier than those who remain employed. Conversely, early retirement enables you to spend more time with your family and friends. ‌You can‌ ‌also‌ ‌start your own company or pursue new hobbies. Or, maybe you’re burned out from the daily grind. For many, stopping working isn’t the ultimate goal. ‌Instead, it’s about having the freedom to do what you want. What are the Pros and Cons of Early Retirement? Getting to early retirement can be tough. But the rewards are typically worth all of the struggles once you reach it. ‌Again, as soon as you retire, you are free to spend it as you choose. Among the things you can do with all that free time are: Bond with family and friends. You can visit your friends and family more often when you retire and stay for longer periods of time. Take extended vacations. The question might arise, “Who on earth can spend a month in Europe or take weeklong cruises?” ‌Now that you’re retired, the answer is obvious: You can. Enjoy hobbies. Your days can be filled with the things that bring you joy once you retire, whether that is golf or ‌reading. Volunteer. There are many reasons why people do not volunteer, one of them being lack of‌ ‌time. ‌Giving back to your community becomes a lot easier once you retire. Early retirement might sound amazing, but there are a few downsides. ‌There are even experts who claim that early retirement isn’t worth the effort. ‌For‌ ‌example, 64% of Americans live‌ ‌paycheck‌ ‌to‌ ‌paycheck. ‌Thus, pushing yourself to fit into an early retirement plan can be stressful and counter-productive. Another drawback? You might get bored. In early retirement, you may wish that you were still working so you would have something to keep your mind occupied. Yes. You get to travel and engage with new hobbies. But, will this truly keep you stimulated for the next 40 or 50 years? Overall, the financial risks of early retirement are substantial. ‌That‌ ‌is,‌ ‌unless you‌ ‌have‌ ‌a number of sources of income or have ‌more‌ ‌than‌ ‌enough‌ ‌money‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌bank. If not, early retirement may ‌completely bankrupt your dreams. Phase 1: Pre-Retirement Planning When you’re young, you can adopt the right mindset and financial plan to help you retire early. If that sounds daunting, here’s how you can get the ball rolling. What does early retirement mean to you? Retiring early doesn’t mean you have to stop working — unless that’s your endgame. ‌Early retirement is instead a term used to describe a situation where an individual is not working‌ ‌‌to‌‌ ‌‌support themselves. It simply means that you’re financially independent enough to stop working your 9-to-5 job. ‌Nevertheless, you can still work part-time or find ways to earn a passive income. But, since you aren’t putting in 40 pus hours a week working, you can spend that time however you please. Early retirement begins with you figuring out what it means ‌to‌ ‌you. ‌‌‌After that, you can begin to move in that direction. ‌ The following questions may help you define‌ ‌your‌ ‌ideal‌ ‌early‌ ‌retirement: Are you planning on moving or staying in the same place? How will the cost of living change for you? Which kind of lifestyle are you looking for? Hobbies and travel are expensive, for example. ‌But, volunteering and spending time with your family are not. Would you prefer to work‌ ‌part-time,‌ ‌full-time,‌ ‌or‌ ‌not‌ ‌at‌ ‌all? By answering these questions accurately, you’ll be able to calculate when you’ll be able to retire. Save money on a larger scale. It’s crucial that you change your attitude about money if you’re committed to retiring‌ ‌early. ‌The process begins with making conscious trade-offs when spending money. Contrary to popular belief, ‌fiscal discipline along will not solve the problem. For example, cutting back on high-cost expenditures is ‌more sensible than giving up your daily latte. ‌You can stick to your budget by making your coffee at home. But you won’t be able to retire early with this method. You should, simply put, live ‌below‌ ‌your‌ ‌means. ‌This will allow you to save a significant portion‌ ‌of‌ ‌your‌ ‌earnings. What’s the appropriate amount to save? ‌Planners recommend saving 30% of one’s earnings over 40 years,‌ ‌instead‌ ‌of‌ ‌10%‌ ‌to‌ ‌15%. You might think that’s an impossible‌ ‌goal. ‌But it’s possible if you automate your savings. The reason being is that you’ll stash this money away before you can spend it. ‌You should also contribute to your savings whenever you receive a windfall of cash, such as a bonus or tax refund. Keep your lifestyle in check. It’s okay to reward yourself when you get a ‌generous raise or promotion. ‌However, with greater earnings comes a natural tendency to spend more money. ‌Financial‌ ‌advisors‌ ‌refer to this as “lifestyle creep.” How can you keep your lifestyle in check? You can save half of those additional dollars by setting up automatic deductions from your paycheck or making a bank transfer. But you should also refrain from feeling restricted when using your dollars. ‌If you find ways to cut costs or search for the best deals, you can still travel. Perhaps you could stay with a friend or family member rather than book a hotel. This can’t be stressed enough. Retiring doesn’t mean that you stop‌ ‌working. Taking a part-time job or starting a side business are possibilities. ‌Because you’re still generating an income, you can still enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. Become more aware‌ ‌of‌ ‌your‌ ‌financial‌ ‌decisions. Regardless of your retirement plan, the only way to achieve your retirement goals is to make wise financial decisions. ‌You can secure your financial success in the future if you make smart decisions today. What’s the best way to get started? ‌Get the basics down first, like; Spending only what you can afford. Create a budget to keep you from overspending. ‌‌If necessary, try creating a mock retirement budget with your monthly expenses for retirement as well. ‌To calculate how much maintaining that lifestyle would cost, you can work backwards. Paying‌ ‌off‌ ‌high-interest debts,‌ ‌such‌ ‌as‌ ‌credit‌ ‌cards. Creating a fund for emergencies so that you won’t be forced to tap into‌ ‌savings. Putting your tax returns and bonuses to good use, as well as your savings from unnecessary purchases. The obvious examples are paying off debt or contributing to a retirement or emergency fund. But, let’s also address the elephant in the room. Housing. Your‌ ‌house is probably your biggest expenditure, and therefore your biggest opportunity for savings. ‌According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend a third of their income on housing. In order to figure out what you can realistically afford, check out calculators provided by Bankrate, NerdWallet, or Mortgage Loan. If you can’t downsize and buy a home that you can actually pay off your mortgage in a shorter time-frame. More likely than not, you’ve heard this advice before. ‌There’s a good reason for this. ‌By following these steps, you can put money aside, plan for the future, and manage the unpredictable. Maximize your tax savings. Do you really want to retire‌ ‌early? ‌As much money as possible should be deposited in tax-favored accounts if that’s the case. Maximizing your 401(k) would be the logical starting point). ‌As of 2022, employees can contribute up to $20,500 ‌to‌ ‌their‌ ‌401(k). ‌The catch-up contribution for individuals over 50 years old in 2022 will be $6,000 more. You can also choose‌ ‌a‌ ‌Roth‌ ‌IRA. A Roth IRA contribution is‌ ‌after-tax. ‌However, you must meet certain income requirements to contribute to a Roth IRA. ‌To qualify, your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) must be under $144,000 in‌ ‌2022 if you’re filing as a single person. ‌To contribute to a Roth IRA for tax year 2022, your MAGI must be less than 214,000 if you’re married and file jointly. Combined,‌ ‌you‌ ‌can‌ ‌contribute‌ ‌these amounts to all ‌your‌ ‌IRAs; $6,000 for those under 50 $7,000 if you’re 50 years old or older Additionally, you can contribute a portion of the income from your side job as well as your regular job to a SEP-IRA. You may also want to consider putting as much into a health savings account as possible if you have a high-deductible health plan. ‌HSAs can sometimes be a better investment than 401(k)s when certain factors apply. ‌HSA earnings are not taxed if they are used to pay for qualified medical expenses today or in the future, and taxable withdrawals are also not allowed. ‌For a self-only plan, you can contribute $3,650, and for a family plan, $7,300 as of 2022 Phase 2: ‌Getting Ready to Dive Into Early Retirement Nearing your early retirement? ‌Make sure these key elements of your plan are in place. Make an estimation of‌ ‌your‌ ‌retirement‌ ‌savings. In order to plan a successful early retirement lifestyle, you must estimate your expenses and income. ‌You can estimate your retirement income by combining your Social Security, pension, and any side jobs you have. Most retirees depend on Social Security and, ‌less frequently, pensions for income. ‌With a pension, the payments are often available as early as age 55, and with Social Security at age 62. ‌If you take early benefits, however, your monthly benefits will be smaller. ‌In the long run, your retirement plan will be affected by Social Security, even if it is only the cream on top. You will be able to see the projected benefits on the Social Security website if you file early. ‌If you’re part of a couple who earns two incomes, it’s best to discuss your options with a Social Security offiicial or a financial professional. Suppose you die with a higher monthly benefit than your spouse. ‌The‌ ‌earlier you claim your benefits, the less you will receive, and the less your spouse will receive in the event you pass away. Ask your employer’s pension administrator how much your pension payment will be at different ages. ‌With this info, you’ll have a better idea of how much income you’ll get. You may have difficulty calculating your expenses, however. Establish a‌ ‌retirement‌ ‌budget. When you are within five years of your desired early retirement, think about the lifestyle you want and what it might cost you. ‌Determining where and what activities you will engage in will assist you with this. ‌It’s an incorrect belief that a person’s expenses will decrease after they stop working. ‌Actually, retired people spend about 20% more during retirement than during their working years. Even though you’ll have more time to spend on hobbies and trips, this obviously costs more. ‌Moreover, if you leave the workforce young, you can enjoy an active and most likely costly retirement if you are healthy and energetic. Budget items may rise faster than inflation overall, so you must keep this in mind. ‌For example, health care costs could rise as much as 7% or 10% annually. In some cases, a retirement income calculator such as‌ ‌T. Rowe Price’s Retirement Income Calculator ‌will let you know whether your retirement portfolio will allow you to retire early. Your retirement will be delayed if you reduce your lifestyle expectations, boost your savings, or delay your retirement. Just add up your pension, Social Security, and savings. ‌After this, calculate how much you would have to spend every month (including income taxes) if you were to retire five years early and become eligible for Social Security and pension benefits earlier. ‌It should give you an idea of how much you will need in retirement. But, to give you a ballpark figure, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey found that the average household earns $84,352 a year. In addition, the average household spends $72,258 each‌ ‌year. ‌The data also shows that roughly $5,854 is spent monthly on bills and other expenses. Make sure your health insurance is in place. Nobody wants to blow through retirement savings by paying for unanticipated medical expenses in the years between early retirement and Medicare eligibility. ‌Until‌ ‌you‌ ‌are eligible for Medicare, you will still need private health insurance. COBRA allows you to keep your employer-sponsored health insurance. But, you can also join the plan of your spouse or enroll in a health insurance plan through ‌AARP and other organizations may offer‌ ‌discounts‌ ‌on‌ ‌coverage as well. You might also want to think about long-term care insurance. ‌It’s not just the long-term care costs that can be expensive, it’s medical insurance too. ‌In order to save money, you might like to research it while you’re still young. Even if you have some sort of health insurance, taking care of yourself is a surefire way to keep healthcare costs at bay. The most obvious places to start is eating a nutritious and balanced diet and engaging in physical activity. Don’t take any risks‌ ‌with‌ ‌your‌ ‌portfolio. Suppose you’re planning to retire at 50. You should be more conservative with your portfolio in your late 40s than your peers who plan to keep working until 65. ‌The objective is to avoid what’s called‌ ‌”sequence‌ ‌of‌ ‌return‌ ‌risk.” ‌This is the risk of having a series of bad markets occur at a time when your finances are particularly fragile. In fact, according to Dr. Wade Pfau, professor of retirement income at the American College of Financial Services, this is what makes the first couple of years in retirement so dangerous. “I’ve estimated that if somebody is planning for a 30-year retirement, the market returns they experience in the first 10 years can explain 80% of the retirement outcome,” he told Barron’s. “If you get a market downturn early on, and markets recover later on, that doesn’t help all that much when you’re spending from that portfolio because you have less remaining to benefit from the subsequent market recovery.” The solution? “There are four ways to manage the sequence-of-return risk,” Dr. Pfau adds. “One, spend conservatively. Two, spend flexibly.” You can manage sequence-of-return risk if you can reduce your spending after a market downturn by not selling as many shares to meet spending needs. “A third option is to be strategic about volatility in your portfolio, even using the idea of a rising equity glide path,” he states. “The fourth option is using buffer assets like cash, a reverse mortgage or whole life policy with cash value.” Create a 10-year financial buffer. “At least five years before their early retirement date, investors should set aside the amount of money required to provide income for their first five years of retirement,” says Phil Lubinski, CFP, co-founder of IncomeConductor. “This will effectively put a 10-year buffer between the money they need for early income and any market volatility that could take place during their five-year countdown to retirement.” By setting aside this money from their main retirement savings, investors are able to protect the wealth they’ve accumulated. ‌The recommended five years of income can be rolled into a new IRA. ‌These funds can then be invested in a portfolio designed for capital preservation, such as one using cash-based investments such as‌ ‌Treasury‌ ‌Bills‌ ‌or‌ ‌bonds, suggest E. Napoletano and Benjamin Curry in Forbes. With a separate account for the money you’ll need for retirement, you give yourself a cushion in case the market experiences‌ ‌volatility. ‌You’ll have years to bounce back from any losses experienced in your remaining investments under this model. Phase 3: ‌Maintaining and Sustaining Your Finances So, you were able to retire early. Congratulations! ‌However, while you’re in the initial stage of retirement, keep an eye on your compass and be prepared to correct course. Keep your retirement funds secure. “One of the biggest misconceptions many people have is that retirement simply means living off of their pension, Social Security, or retirement savings,” notes Pierre Raymond, cofounder of Global Equity Analytics & Research Services LLC (GEARS). “While this may be the case for a minority of people, the latter reveals that some Americans have still not placed any stress on their financial future when they reach the age of retirement.” A retiree’s expenses can become more manageable by investing in various stocks and portfolios, or perhaps taking out an annuity. An annuity offers a guaranteed lifetime income. Because of this, it’s an ideal supplement to other income sources. Raymond also suggests that you have an investment portfolio and minimize withdrawals from retirement funds. And, as mentioned several times already, think about how you can introduce new income streams. Some suggestions would be: Starting a blog or online course. Renting out a spare bedroom. Providing baby-or-petsitting services. House-sit internationally. Being a freelancer or local business consultant. Tutoring. Selling handmade goods online. Take a strategic approach to‌ ‌Social‌ ‌Security. Did you know ‌you‌ ‌can‌ ‌‌‌manage ‌the‌ ‌size‌ ‌of‌ ‌your‌ ‌Social‌ ‌Security‌ ‌check? ‌Yes, you can – to an‌ ‌extent. ‌The key is when you start getting‌ ‌benefits. “About 1 out of 3 Social Security recipients apply for benefits at the earliest age, which is 62,” writes author and certified financial planner Liz Weston. “It’s often a mistake.” “Benefits grow by a guaranteed 5% to 8% each year that the applicant delays,” ‌she‌ ‌adds. “Starting early also can stunt the survivor benefit that one spouse will have to live on when the other dies.” Don’t rush it. ‌Wait‌‌ ‌‌until the right time comes. ‌This will increase your Social Security benefits. Seek the advice of‌ ‌a‌ ‌financial‌ ‌advisor. In order to retire early there are two major challenges to consider: It takes less time to save for retirement. After retirement, you’ll have more free time. You should work with a financial advisor regularly — unless you’re a financial expert yourself. ‌An advisor can help you to develop an investment strategy so that you can meet your retirement goals. ‌In addition, a financial planner can show you how much you have to invest per month to hit your goals over‌ ‌time. Even after retirement, it’s possible for you to work with your advisor to ensure that your retirement funds last. ‌Income streams include dividend income, required minimum distributions, Social Security, defined-benefit plans, and rental income from real estate. Trust is imperative since you’ll probably work together for a long time. ‌Likewise, an advisor’s fee shouldn’t just be based on their time, but also their expertise. ‌In the end, hiring an advisor with the right expertise is more than worth it. Follow your plan, but enjoy life as well. Discipline and time are both essential for executing and maintaining your plan. ‌Save and invest while you can, but don’t forget to take advantage of your youth. ‌If you dream of touring Patagonia, you should do it when you’re younger and ‌in‌ ‌good‌ ‌health. In the words of early retiree Steven Adcock, “Sacrifice is necessary to retire early, but it’s not all we do, either. It is important to treat and reward ourselves along the way by celebrating those smaller achievements.” Frequently Asked Retirement Questions When can I retire? There is no set age to retire. ‌As long as you are able to retire, you can leave the workforce whenever you wish. There are some factors, however, that may limit when you can‌ ‌retire. ‌Pensions are usually available to employees after 20 to 30 years of service. Aside from that, Social Security benefits aren’t available until the age of 62. And Medicare won’t kick in until ‌65. ‌So, people covered by their employer’s health insurance may not be able to retire until 65. How‌ ‌much‌ ‌money‌ ‌do‌ ‌I‌ ‌need‌ ‌for retirement? An individual’s retirement income depends on a variety of factors. The factors considered include Social Security benefits, monthly expenses, retirement age, and life expectancy. ‌It’s helpful to have a financial advisor help you figure out how much you’ll need for a comfortable retirement. How will early retirement affect my Social Security benefits? In general, you can receive Social Security retirement benefits as early as‌ ‌age 62. ‌Benefits may, however,‌ ‌be‌ ‌reduced‌ ‌by‌ ‌up‌ ‌to‌ ‌30%. “Workers planning for their retirement should be aware that retirement benefits depend on age at retirement,” notes the Social Security Administration. “If a worker begins receiving benefits before his/her normal (or full) retirement age, the worker will receive a reduced benefit. A worker can choose to retire as early as age 62, but doing so may result in a reduction of as much as 30 percent.” “Starting to receive benefits after normal retirement age may result in larger benefits,” adds the SSA. “With delayed retirement credits, a person can receive his or her largest benefit by retiring at age 70.” For each month before normal retirement age, you lose 5/9 of one percent of your benefits. ‌When the number of months over 36 is exceeded, the benefit is reduced by 5/12 of one percent per month. “For example, if the number of reduction months is 60 (the maximum number for retirement at 62 when normal retirement age is 67), then the benefit is reduced by 30 percent,” the SSA states. “This maximum reduction is calculated as 36 months times 5/9 of 1 percent plus 24 months times 5/12 of 1 percent.” Should I pay off my mortgage before retiring? At the end of the day, it’s a personal choice. ‌People who itemize deductions can reduce their taxes by paying mortgage interest. ‌In addition, if the interest rate is low enough, it might make more sense financially to invest money rather than pay off the debt. If you plan on retiring comfortably, it’s important to think about how paying off your mortgage will impact your ability to do so. ‌Though a debt-free retirement is ideal, don’t use too much money from a retirement account to pay off a house. What does a good monthly retirement income look like? An individual’s definition of an adequate monthly retirement income may differ from another’s. ‌Various factors will determine how much retirement income is adequate. ‌This includes your retirement lifestyle, any dependents you have (kids, grandkids, debts, etc.) and your health. A good retirement income is usually between 70% and 80% of an individual’s last income before retirement. Article by John Rampton, Due About the Author John Rampton is an entrepreneur and connector. When he was 23 years old while attending the University of Utah he was hurt in a construction accident. His leg was snapped in half. He was told by 13 doctors he would never walk again. Over the next 12 months he had several surgeries, stem cell injections and learned how to walk again. During this time he studied and mastered how to make money work for you, not against you. He has since taught thousands through books, courses and written over 5000 articles online about finance, entrepreneurship and productivity. He has been recognized as the Top Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine and Finance Expert by Time . He is the Founder and CEO of Due. Updated on Jun 14, 2022, 3:35 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkJun 14th, 2022

Protection From A Currency Collapse

Protection From A Currency Collapse Authored by Alasdair Macleod via, While markets seem becalmed, financial conditions are rapidly deteriorating. Last week Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase gave the clearest of signals that bank credit is beginning to contract. Russia has consolidated its rouble, which has now become the strongest currency by far. The Fed announced the previous week that its balance sheet is in negative equity. And there’s mounting evidence that we have a nascent crack-up boom. Russia now appears to be protecting the rouble from these developments in the West, while previously she was only attacking the dollar’s hegemony. China has yet to formulate a defensive currency policy but is likely to back the renminbi with a commodity basket, at least for foreign trade. If it is taken up more widely by the members if the Shanghai Cooperation organisation and the BRICS, the development of a new commodity-based super-currency in Central Asia could end the dollar’s global hegemony. These are major developments. And finally, due to widespread interest in the subject, I examine the outlook for residential property values in the event of a collapse of Western fiat currencies. The mechanics of an apocalypse Against the grain of the establishment, for years I have been warning that the world faces a fiat currency collapse. The reasoning was and still is because that’s where monetary and economic policies are taking us. The only questions arising are whether the authorities around the world would realise the dangers of their inflationary and socialistic policies and change course (extremely unlikely) and in that absence in what form would the final crisis take. History tells us that fiat currencies always fail, only to be replaced by Mankind’s sound money — metallic gold, and silver. And now that fiat currencies have seen a rapid debasement followed by soaring commodity and raw material prices, interest rates should be considerably higher. Yet, in the Eurozone and Japan they are still suppressed in negative territory. The reluctance of the ECB and the Bank of Japan to permit them to rise is palpable. Worse still, even with just the threat of a slowdown in the issuance of extra credit by the commercial banks, we suddenly face a sharp downturn in economic and financial activities. Commercial banks in the Eurozone and Japan are uncomfortably leveraged and unlikely to survive the mixture of higher interest rates, contracting bank credit, and an economic downturn without being bailed out by their respective central banks. But so massive are the central banks’ own bond positions that the losses from rising yields have put them in negative equity. Even the Fed, which is in a far better position than the ECB and BOJ, has admitted unrealised losses on its bond portfolio are $330bn, wiping out its balance sheet equity six times over. So, without the injection of huge amounts of new capital from their existing shareholders the major central banks are bust, the major commercial banks soon will be, and prices are rising uncontrollably driving interest rates and bond yields higher. And like a hole in the head, all we now need to complete the misery is a contraction in bank credit. On cue, last week we got a warning that this is also on the cards, when Jamie Dimon, boss of JPMorgan Chase, the largest commercial bank in America and the Fed’s principal conduit into the commercial banking network, upgraded his summary of the financial scene from “stormy” only nine days before, to “hurricane”. That was widely reported. Less observed were his remarks about what JPMorgan Chase was going to do about it. Dimon went on to say the bank is preparing itself for “a non-benign environment” and “bad outcomes”. We can be sure that the Fed will have spoken to Mr Dimon about this. JPMorgan’s chief economist, Bruce Kasman was then urgently tasked with rowing back, saying he only saw a slowdown. No matter. The signal is sent, and the damage is done. We are unlikely to hear from Dimon on this subject again. But you can bet your bottom dollar that the cohort of international bankers around the world will have taken note, if they hadn’t already, and will be drawing in their lending horns as well. The importance of monitoring bank credit is that when it begins to contract it always precipitates a crisis. This time the crisis revolves more around financial assets than in the past, because for the last forty years, bank credit expansion has increasingly focused not on stimulating production of real things — that has been chased overseas, but the creation of financial ephemera, such as unproductive debt, securitisations of securities, derivatives, and derivatives of derivatives. If you like, the world of unbacked currencies has generated a parallel world of purely financial assets. This is now changing. Commodities are creeping back into the monetary system indirectly due to sanctions against the world’s largest commodities exporter, Russia. Financing for speculation is already contracting, as shown in Figure 1. Given recent equity market weakness this is hardly surprising. But it should be borne in mind that this is unlikely to be driven by speculators cleverly taking profits at the top of the bull market. It is almost certainly forced upon them by margin calls, a fate similarly suffered by punters in cryptos. Bank deposits, which are the other side of bank credit, make up most of the currency in circulation. Since 2008, dollar bank deposits have increased by 160% to nearly $19.5 trillion (M3 less bank notes in circulation). But there is the additional problem of shadow bank credit, which is unknowable and is likely to evaporate with falling financial asset values. And Eurodollars, which similarly are outside the money supply figures will likely contract as well. We are now moving rapidly towards a human desire to protect what we have. This is fear, instead of the desire to make easy money, or greed. We can be reasonably certain that with the reluctance of banks to even maintain levels of bank credit the move is likely to be swift, catching the wider public unawares. It is the stuff of an apocalypse. A financial and economic crisis is now widely expected. Everyone I meet in finance senses the danger, without being able to put a finger on it. They are almost all talking of the authorities taking back control, perhaps of a financial reset, without knowing what that might be. But almost no one considers the possibility that this time the authorities will fail to stop a crisis before it turns our world upside down. Nevertheless, a crisis is always a shock when it comes. But its timing is always anchored in what is happening to bank credit. The bank credit cycle The true role of banks in the economy is as creators of and dealers in credit. The licence granted to them by the state allows them to issue credit where none had existed before. Initially, it stimulates economic activity and is welcomed. The negative consequences only become apparent later, in the form of a fall in the expanded currency’s purchasing power, firstly on the foreign exchanges, followed in markets for industrial commodities and raw materials, and then in the domestic economy. The seeds for the subsequent downturn having been sown by the earlier expansion of credit. As night follows day it duly follows and is triggered by credit contraction. Since the end of the Napoleonic wars, this cycle of credit expansion and contraction has had a regular periodicity of about ten years —sometimes shorter, sometimes longer. A cycle of bank credit is a more relevant description of the origin of periodic booms and slumps than describing them as a trade or business cycle, which implies that the origin is in the behaviour of banking customers rather than the banking system. How it comes about is important for an understanding of why it always leads to a contractionary crisis. The creation of bank credit is a simple matter of double entry bookkeeping. When a bank agrees to lend to a borrower, the loan appears on the banker’s balance sheet as an asset, for which there must be a corresponding liability. This liability is the credit marked on the borrower’s deposit account which will always match the loan shown as an asset. This is a far more profitable arrangement for the bank than paying interest on term deposits to match a bank’s loan, which is the way in which banks are commonly thought to originate credit. The relationship between his own capital and the amount of loan business that a banker undertakes is his principal consideration. By lending credit in quantities which are multiples of his own capital, he enhances the return on his equity. But he also exposes himself to a heightened risk from loan defaults. It follows that when he deems economic prospects to be good, he will lend more that he would otherwise. But bankers though their associations and social and business interactions tend to share a common view of economic prospects at any one time. Furthermore, they have their own sources of economic intelligence, some of which is shared on an industry-wide basis. They are also competitive and prepared to undercut rivals for loan business in good times, reducing their lending rates to below where a free-market rate would perhaps otherwise be. Being dealers in credit and not economists, they probably fail to grasp the fact that improving economic conditions — growth in Keynesian jargon — is little more than a reflection of their own credit expansion. The currency debasement from extra credit results in prices and interest rates rising, especially in fiat currencies, undermining business calculations and assumptions. Bankruptcies begin to increase as the headline below from last Monday’s Daily Telegraph shows: While this headline was about the UK, the same factors are evident elsewhere. No wonder Jamie Dimon is worried. As a rule of thumb, bank credit makes up about 90% of the circulating media, the other 10% being bank notes. Today in the US, bank notes in circulation stand at $2.272 trillion, and M3 broad money, which also contains narrower forms of money stands at $21.8 trillion, so bank notes are 10.4% of the total. The ratio in December 2018 following the Lehman crisis was 10.7%, similar ratios at different stages of the credit cycle. Therefore, at all stages of the cycle, it is the balance between greed for profit and fear of losses in the bankers’ collective minds that set the prospects for boom and bust, and not an increase in the note issue. A further consideration is the lending emphasis, whether credit has been extended primarily to manufacturers of consumer goods and providers of services to consumers, or whether credit has been extended mostly to support financial activities. Since London’s big-bang and America’s repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, the major banks have increasingly created credit for purely financial activities, leaving credit for Main Street in the hands of smaller banks. Because credit expansion has been aimed at supporting financial activities, it has inflated financial assets values. So, while central banks have been suppressing interest rates, the major banks have created the credit for buyers of financial assets to enjoy the most dramatic, widespread, and long-lasting of investment bubbles in financial history. Now that interest rates are on the rise, the bubble environment is over, to be replaced with a bear market. The smart money is leaving the stage, and the public faces an unwinding of the bubble. The combination of rising interest rates and contracting bank credit is as bearish as falling interest rates and the fuel of expanding bank credit were bullish. As loan collateral, banks have retained financial assets to a greater extent than in the past, and their attempts to protect themselves from losses by fire sales of stocks and bonds when they no longer cover loan obligations can only accelerate a financial market collapse. Russia’s new priority is to escape from the West’s crisis While the financial sanctions imposed on Russia have led to a tit-for-tat situation with Russia saying it will only accept payments in roubles from the “unfriendlies”, there can be little doubt that sanctions have come at an enormous cost to the imposers. In a recent interview, Putin correctly identified the West’s inflation problem: “In a TV interview that followed his meeting with the African Union head Macky Sall in Sochi, Putin added that attempts to blame Ukraine's turmoil for the West's skyrocketing cost of living amount to avoiding responsibility. Almost all governments used the fiscal stimulus to help people and businesses affected by the Covid-19 lockdowns. Putin stressed that Russia did so "much more carefully and precisely," without disrupting the macroeconomic picture or fuelling inflation. In the United States, by contrast, the money supply increased by 38% – or $5.9 trillion – in less than two years, in what he referred to as the ‘unprecedented output of the printing press’." This is important. While the West’s monetary authorities and their governments have suppressed the connection between the unprecedented increase in currency and credit and the consequence for prices, if the quote above is correct, Putin has nailed it. In all logic, since the Russians clearly understand the destabilising ramifications of the West’s monetary policies, it behoves them to protect themselves from the consequences. They will not want to see the rouble sink alongside western currencies. And indeed, the policy of tying Russian energy exports to settlements in roubles divorces the rouble from the West’s mounting financial crisis. It is further confirmation that Zoltan Pozsar’s description of a Bretton Woods 3, whereby currencies are moving from a world of financial activity towards commodity backing, is correct. It’s not just a Russian response in the context of a financial war, but now it’s a protectionist move. Russia enjoys the position of the world’s largest exporter of energy and commodities. For the West to cut itself off from Russia may be justifiable in the narrow political context of a proxy war in Ukraine, but it is madness in the economic perspective. The other nation upon which the West heavily relies, China, has yet to formulate a proper currency policy response. But the alacrity with which China began stockpiling commodities and grains following the Fed’s reduction of interest rates to the zero bound and its increase of QE to $120bn monthly in March 2020 shows she also understands the price consequences of the West’s inflationism. The difference between China and Russia is that while Russia is a commodity exporter, China is a commodity importer. Her currency position is therefore radically different. The Chinese advisers who have absorbed Keynesian economics will be arguing against a stronger currency relationship with the dollar, particularly at a time of a significant slowing of China’s GDP growth. They might also argue that they have preferential access to discounted Russian exports, the benefits of which would be squandered if the yuan strengthened materially. One can imagine that while Russia is certain about her “Bretton Woods 3 strategy”, China has yet to take some key decisions. But everything is relative. It is true that China is offered substantial discounts on Russian energy and other commodities. It is in her interests to accumulate as much of Russia’s commodities as she can — particularly energy. But it must be paid for. Broadly, there are two sources of funding. China can sell down its US Treasury holdings, or alternatively issue additional renminbi. The latter seems more likely since it would keep the dollar well away from any Chinese-Russian trade settlements and could accelerate the start of a new offshore renminbi market. All these moves are responses to a crisis brought about by Western sanctions. Given the history of price stability for energy and most other commodities measured in gold grammes, Russia’s move represents a barely transparent move away from the world of fiat and its associated financial ephemera to a proxy for a gold standard. It is a statist equivalent of the latter, whereby Russia uses commodity markets without having to deliver anything monetary. While protecting the rouble from a collapsing western currency and financial system it works for now, but it will have to evolve into a monetary system that is more secure. One possibility might be to use the new commodity-based trade currency planned for the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which is likely to rope in all the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation network, and possibly the commodity-exporting BRICS as well. It has been reported that even some Middle Eastern states have expressed interest though that’s hard to verify. In the financial war against the dollar, the announcement of the new currency’s terms would represent a significant escalation, cutting the dollar’s hegemony down at a stroke for over half the world’s population. It would also raise a question mark over the estimated $33 trillion dollars of US financial assets and bank deposits owned by foreigners. Timing is an issue, because if the new EAEU trade currency is introduced following a crisis for the dollar, the move would be protectionist rather than aggressive, but it seems likely to trigger substantial dollar liquidation in the foreign exchanges either way. The elephant in the currency room is gold. It is what Zoltan Pozsar of Credit Suisse terms “outside money”. That is, money which is not fiat produced by central banks by keystrokes on a computer, or by expansion of bank credit. A basket of commodities for the proposed EAEU trade currency is little more than a substitute for linking their currencies with gold. So, why don’t Russia and China just introduce gold standards? There are probably three reasons: A working gold standard, by which is meant an arrangement where members of the public and foreigners can exchange currency for coin or bullion takes away control over the currency from the state and places it in the hands of the public. This is a course of action that modern governments will only consider as a last resort, given their natural reluctance to cede control and power to the people. Nowhere is this truer than of dictatorial governments such as those governing Russia and China. It could be argued that to introduce a working gold standard would give America power to disrupt the currency by manipulating gold prices on international markets. But it is hard to see how any such disruption would be anything other than temporary and self-defeating. Proceeding nakedly into a gold standard, when America has spent the last fifty years telling everyone gold is a pet rock, yet at the same time grabbing everyone else’s gold (Germany, Libya, Venezuela, Ukraine… the list is pretty much endless) is probably the financial equivalent of a nuclear escalation, only to be considered as a last resort. Clearly, it is the most sensitive subject and a frontal challenge to the dollar’s post-Bretton Woods hegemony. The flight into real assets While national governments are considering their position in the wake of sanctions against Russia, the status of their reserves, and how best to protect themselves in a worsening financial conflict between Anglo-Saxon led NATO and Russia, ordinary people are acting in their own interest as well. Most of us are aware that second hand values for motor cars have soared, in many cases to levels higher than new models. The phenomenon is reported in yachts and power boats as well. And on Tuesday, it was reported that US citizens had escalated their credit card spending to unexpected heights. Is this evidence of a flight from zero-yielding bank deposits, or the emergence of wider concerns about rising prices and the need to acquire goods while they are available at anything like current prices? When it comes to their own interests, people are not stupid. They understand that prices are rising and there is no sign of this ending. Their mantra is to buy now before prices rise further, while they can be afforded and the liquidity is to hand. While it is probably too dramatic to call this behaviour a crack-up boom, unless something is done to stop it a crack-up boom appears to be developing. But the asset which is on many peoples’ minds is residential property. Where residential property prices are dependent on the availability and cost of mortgage finance, rising interest rates will undermine property values. Given that the loss of currencies’ purchasing power fails to be reflected yet in sufficiently high interest rates, mortgage rates for new and floating rate loans can be expected to rise substantially, driving residential property prices lower. But this assumes that a financial and currency crisis won’t occur before interest rates have risen sufficiently to discount future losses of a currency’s purchasing power. It seems unlikely that that will happen. It is more likely that increases of not more than a few per cent will be sufficient to destabilise the West’s monetary order, with systemic risk spreading rapidly from the weakest points — the Eurozone and Japan, where interest rates rising from negative values will expose as demonstrably insolvent the ECB and the Bank of Japan, while major commercial banks in both jurisdictions are the two most highly leveraged cohorts. That being the case, and if a banking crisis originating in a deflating financial asset bubble requires insolvent central banks to rescue commercial banks, there is a significant risk that the West’s fiat currencies could lose credibility and collapse as well. Therefore, as well as the effect of rising mortgage costs (which will probably be capped by the emerging crisis) we must consider residential property values measured in currencies which have imploded. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that measured nominally in fiat currencies, after a brief period of uncertainty property prices might rise. A million-dollar house today might become worth many millions, but many millions might buy only a few ounces of gold. That appears to have been the situation in 1923 Germany, reported by Stefan Zweig, the Austrian author who in his autobiography recounted that at the height of the inflation US$100 could buy you a decent town house in Berlin. It might have been several hundred million paper marks, but at the time US$100 was the equivalent of less than five ounces of gold. Any investor in real assets such as real estate and farmland must be prepared to look through a collapse of financial asset values and a currency crisis. For a time, they will have to suffer rents which don’t cover the costs of maintaining property. But the message from Germany in 1923 is that it is far better to hoard what the Romans told us is legally money, that is everlasting physical gold. And the lessons of history backed up by pure logic tell us loud and clear that gold is not a portfolio investment. It is no more than money. An incorruptible means of exchange to be hoarded and spent after all else has failed. Tyler Durden Sat, 06/11/2022 - 19:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 11th, 2022

75+ sweet gift ideas for your girlfriend that span all of her interests

We rounded up 76 thoughtful gifts to give your girlfriend, from keepsake jewelry to helpful tech and fitness accessories. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.We rounded up 76 thoughtful gifts to give your girlfriend, from keepsake jewelry to helpful tech and fitness accessories.Brightland/SonosGiving gifts as a couple can be a lot of fun. You know your partner: What they love, what rituals they enjoy, what small daily annoyances you could possibly solve with a thoughtful gift. You also know how much they'll appreciate a gift that comes from you.Odds are you want to give them something wonderful — whatever your price range is. All most of us need is a little direction and a few great options to pick from, so we put together a list of our favorite gift ideas for girlfriends of all personalities and interests to help guide you.Check out 76 great gifts for your girlfriend in 2022:Home and kitchenA small cold brew coffee makerAmazonAirtight Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker, available at Amazon, $35.99This small cold brew maker (available in 1-liter and 1.5-liter options) makes coffee's less acidic, smoother cousin cold brew in 12 hours in the fridge, so there's a minimal hassle and always a treat ready in the morning on your girlfriend's way out the door to work. A weighted blanket for better restAmazonYnM Weighted Blanket, available at Amazon, $36.50Weighted blankets help create more restful sleep by "grounding" the body, and YnM makes some of the most popular and affordable weighted blankets on the internet. There are multiple sizes and weights for the ideal fit and width (they recommend picking whichever is about 10% of your body weight), and the segmented design allows you to move around without displacing all the weighted beads inside. A high quality scented candle she'll light all the timeNordstromKacey Musgraves and Boy Smells Slow Burn Candle, available at Nordstrom, from $46Kacey Musgrave's collaboration with Boy Smells, a popular emergent candle brand, is woody and dark, with hints of smoked papyrus and amber with ginger and black pepper. We also love Otherland if you're looking for a gift from another on-the-rise startup she may have seen ads for online. For traditional candles, we'd recommend going with Le Labo, Diptyque, and Byredo if they're within your budget. A standing desk for a home office upgradeFullyJarvis Bamboo Standing Desk, available at Fully, from $509.15If she's working from home, your girlfriend might love a home office upgrade the most. We ranked the Fully Jarvis the best standing desk; it provides the right blend of features and reliable performance. Its customizations for style, height, and accessories make it adaptable to pretty much any need. A Dutch oven to elevate their bread gameLodgeLodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, available at Walmart, $79.90Did your girlfriend get into baking bread and, miraculously, stay committed to it? If so, a really nice Dutch oven can help elevate her experience. You can get something great for under $100, or you can splurge on a beautiful Le Creuset. Other meaningful upgrades include a cooling rack, according to the famous baker Apollonia Poilâne.A framed keepsake of a favorite memoryFramebridgeFramed photo, available at Framebridge, from $49Gift Card, available at Framebridge, from $25Framebridge makes custom framing a bit more affordable. You can print or paint something on your own and have it framed, or have them print and frame it, and you can take advantage of the team of designers for help deciding what frame to get. A one-size-fits-all lid that instantly declutters the cabinetsMade InSilicone Universal Lid Kit, available at Made In, $69This was one of the gifts that professional chefs recommended to us for avid home cooks. If your girlfriend loves to cook and has a plethora of differently sized pots and pans with all the corresponding lids, having one universal lid can declutter and streamline their space in one move. A customized map of her favorite placeGrafomapCustom Map Poster, available at Grafomap, from $49Grafomap lets you design custom maps of anywhere in the world — like the first place you met, the best trip you ever took together, or the hometown she couldn't wait to show you. It's unique, thoughtful, and pretty inexpensive.  You can find our full review here.An 8-in-1 pan that helps to declutter your homeOur PlaceAlways Pan, available at Our Place, $145If you're spending more time at home cooking together — or re-organizing the kitchen — she may appreciate a good 8-in-1 cookware hack.The Always Pan from startup Our Place is a frying pan, saute pan, steamer, skillet, saucier, saucepan, non-stick pan, spatula, and spoon rest in the space of a single pan. In other words, a clever generalist that's extremely convenient for small spaces or minimalist cooks. You can read our review here.Personalized cartoon couple mugsUncommon GoodsPersonalized Family Mugs, available at Uncommon Goods, from $30These cute mugs can be personalized for what you're like as a couple, making for a special weekend morning coffee routine or just a nice reminder in the kitchen cabinet. On the back, you can add a family name and the year the couple was established if you'd like. A large print on fine art paper of a favorite memoryartifact uprisingLarge Format Prints, available at Artifact Uprising, from $19Artifact Uprising makes luxury prints at accessible prices — and they make especially thoughtful gifts that look like they should cost much more. Get one of their favorite photos printed on archival fine art paper for $20 and up, or thoughtful cards for as little as $1 per custom card. You can also make a color series photo book for $19, a set of prints for $8, and a personalized calendar on a handcrafted wood clipboard for $26.A mug that keeps hot drinks hot for up to six hours straightHydro FlaskHydro Flask Mug, 12 oz, available at Hydro Flask, from $24.95This mug is a common desk companion for the Insider Reviews team. The 12-ounce coffee mug has the company's proprietary TempShield insulation that made its water bottles famous. This mug will keep hot drinks hot for up to six hours, and cold drinks cold up to 24 hours. Read our full review of it here.Comfy, high-end sheets at the best price on the marketBrooklinenLuxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle, available at Brooklinen, from $231.41Brooklinen is one of our favorite companies, point-blank. We think they make the best high-end sheets at the best price on the market, and most of the Insider Reviews team uses Brooklinen on their own beds.The Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle comes in plenty of colors and patterns, and you can mix and match them to suit your taste. Grab a gift card if you want to give her more freedom. If you opt for a sheet bundle, she'll receive a core sheet set (fitted, flat, two pillowcases), duvet cover, and two extra pillowcases in a soft, smooth 480-thread-count weave.A houseplant that arrives already potted and is easy to care forLeon & GeorgeSilver Evergreen, available at Leon & George, from $149Leon & George is a San Francisco startup that will send beautiful plants — potted in stylish, minimalist pots — to your girlfriend's door. All she has to do is to occasionally add water. Flowers are wonderful, but houseplants have a much longer shelf life, and most of Leon & George's options are very easy to care for. We'd also recommend checking out Bloomscape for small plant trios under $70.  A beautiful bouquetUrban StemsFlower Bouquets, available at Urban Stems, $55Send flowers to her doorstep. We're fans of UrbanStems; Its bouquets are one of the best things we've ever tested. If you're looking for something that won't be gone after a couple of weeks, you'll also find options for potted plants and low-maintenance, decor-friendly dried bouquets.A pasta maker you can use togetherWilliams SonomaImperia Pasta Machine, available at Williams Sonoma, $149.95Bring the pasta maker and the fixings to make a delicious meal together. It's relatively easy to get the hang of, and you can enjoy quality time with the bonus of incredible ravioli or fettuccine on the other end of it. Food and drinksDelicious sweets from a famous NYC bakeryMilk BarMilk Bar Treats, available at Milk Bar, from $27If your girlfriend has a sweet tooth, send her Milk Bar — the company delivers its iconic and decadent cakes, cookies, and truffles to her doorstep.Her favorite specialty food straight from the sourceGoldbelly/InstagramOrder her favorite specialty foods using Goldbelly, from $28Goldbelly makes it possible to satisfy your girlfriend's most specific and nostalgic cravings no matter where they live in the US — a cheesecake from Junior's, deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati, and more. Browse the iconic gifts section for inspiration. A subscription that sends her a six-month world tour of teasAtlas Tea ClubAtlas Tea Club 6 Month Subscription, available at Atlas Tea Club, $99This subscription sends your girlfriend single-origin teas from the best tea-growing regions in the world for six months. She'll get two delicious options sent to her home each month.A gift card to a popular wine subscription clubWincGift Card, available at Winc, from $50Winc is a personalized wine club — and we think it's the best one you can belong to overall. Members take a wine palate profile quiz and then choose from the personalized wine suggestions. Each bottle has extensive tasting notes and serving recommendations online, and makes it easy to discover similar bottles. Gift her a Winc gift card, and she can take a wine palate profile quiz and get started with her own customized suggestions. A gift card for delicious, healthy meals she can make in about 30 secondsDaily HarvestGift Card, available at Daily Harvest, from $50Daily Harvest is a food startup that makes it possible to eat healthy, delicious meals for less than $10 each even if you only have 30 seconds to spare for prep time. Meals are pre-portioned, delicious, and designed by both a chef and a nutritionist to make sure they're tasty and good for you. It addressed most of my healthy eating roadblocks. The internet's favorite olive oilBrightlandAwake Olive Oil, available at Brightland, $37Brightland's olive oils make great gifts for cooks and anyone else who loves to entertain. The white bottles protect the EVOO from light damage and look nice displayed on a countertop. Find a full review here. A cooking class from one of the nation's top chefsCozymeal/InstagramGift Card, available at Cozymeal, from $50With a Cozymeal class, you and your girlfriend can learn how to make anything from fresh pasta to Argentinian staple dishes from the nation's top chefs. In addition to cooking classes, Cozymeal offers food tours in various cities (when it's safe to do so). Fancy popcorn and a movie nightWilliams SonomaAmish Popcorn Gift Set, available at Williams Sonoma, from $29.95Make a reservation at a nice outdoor restaurant, stock up on your girlfriend's favorite movie candy and some fun drinks ahead of time (wrap them for an extra wow-factor), and create your own in-house cinema experience. Or, perhaps even better, order a bunch of take-out from your favorite local restaurants.A subscription to a coffee service that sends coffees specifically for her taste preferencesDriftaway Facebook3-Month Subscription, available at Driftaway Coffee, from $54If your girlfriend loves coffee, she'll probably love to try Driftaway. It's a gourmet coffee subscription that gets smarter the longer you use it, remembering your preferences and steering you towards increasingly accurate brews for your specific tastes. The first shipment will be a tasting kit with four coffee profiles, which she'll rate online or in the app to start getting personalized options.TechThe best Apple Watch we've triedAppleApple Watch Series 7, available at Amazon, from $383.97If you're looking for a great gift and not concerned about staying in an under-$200 budget, we'd recommend the Apple Watch Series 7.Currently, we think it's the best Apple Watch. The Series 7 can charge up to 80% in 45 minutes, and it's the most advanced version with features such as blood oxygen saturation measuring and an electrocardiogram scanner to detect abnormalities in the heart's rhythm. The best noise-canceling headphonesAmazonSony Noise-Canceling Wireless Headphones, available at Amazon, $348If your girlfriend is into music, the best gift is the one that improves her everyday music-listening experience. For that, we recommend our favorite noise-canceling headphones — Sony's WH-1000XM4 — that balance sound quality, noise cancellation, and comfort at a solid price.You can find more good noise-canceling headphone options here.A tracker for finding cell phones and wallets quicklyAmazonTile Pro, available at Amazon, $34.99When your girlfriend can't find her phone, all she has to do is click the Tile button to make her phone ring, even if it's on silent. We've found them especially useful lately. Apple AirPods Pro for when she's on the moveCrystal Cox/Business InsiderApple AirPods Pro, available at Amazon, $197We love Apple's AirPods Pro for Apple users. They're no-hassle, work with Apple products, have decent sound and noise cancellation, are water-resistant, have a wireless charging case, and feel more comfortable than standard AirPods. You'll find more wireless earbuds we love here.A new waterproof Kindle Paperwhite for reading anywhereAmazonKindle Paperwhite, available at Amazon, $139.99If your girlfriend is a reader, we'd suggest looking at Amazon's new Kindle Paperwhite; it's the company's thinnest and lightest yet, with double the storage. Perhaps the best features are that it's waterproof and has a built-in adjustable light for the perfect reading environment indoors or outdoors, day or night. If she loves a nice, relaxing bath, pair this with a caddy, bath bombs, and a glass of wine for a relaxing night in that you've already taken care of.A small, portable projector to curl up and watch movies withAmazonNebula Projector, available at Amazon, $249.99This is one of the most portable (and affordable) projectors. It's about the size of a soda can, weighs one pound, and has crisp image quality and 360° sound. Use it at home or bring it with you on your travels. Find a full review of the Anker Nebula Capsule here. A powerful, customizable massage gunTheragunTheragun PRO, available at Therabody, $599This is the best massage gun we've tested — though it's also on the higher end of what you would expect to pay. We loved it in part due to its two-year warranty, adjustable massage arm, customizable speeds, 60 lbs of no-stall force, six different heads, an extra battery, and how easy it is to use. If you can't give your girlfriend an unlimited pass to professional massages, this is a nice in-between option. A convenient phone sanitizerPhoneSoapPhoneSoap 3 Smartphone UV Sanitizer, available at PhoneSoap, $79.95This small, easy-to-use device uses UV-C light to sanitize a phone, killing 99.9% of common household germs.The new Sonos Move portable speakerAmazonSonos Move, available at Best Buy, $399.99The Sonos Move is one of the best speakers on the market. It's powerful, can be controlled by voice or an app, and has Amazon Alexa built-in so on WiFi you can play music, check the news, set alarms, get your questions answered, and more, without much effort.Clothing and accessoriesA pair of beautiful pearl earrings she'll own for years to comeStone and StrandElliptical Pearl Huggies, available at Stone and Strand, $250Pearls are timeless, but they're also one of the jewelry trends we're keeping an eye on in 2022. This pair, from the women-led startup Stone and Strand, is made with 14K gold with freshwater pearls.A versatile exercise dressOutdoor VoicesThe Exercise Dress, available at Outdoor Voices, $100Given the popularity of the Exercise Dress, we wouldn't be surprised if this was on your girlfriend's wish list. The Exercise Dress is comfortable, versatile, and cute — which has made it a cult-favorite item. If she's a fan of dresses, Outdoor Voices, or clothes she can wear all day long, this may be a good option. A delicate, timeless diamond necklaceAurateDiamond Bezel Necklace, available at Aurate, $320This is something your girlfriend will wear and own forever. A delicate diamond necklace is an essential piece and will (probably) never go out of style. This option is from one of our favorite startups, AUrate — an ethical fine jewelry startup founded by two women from the Netherlands and Morocco, respectively. The best socks she'll ever wearBombasWomen's Performance Running Ankle Sock 3-Pack, available at Bombas, $49.50Bombas makes the best socks we've ever tried, and they're a gift we find ourselves giving every year to loved ones. They're lightweight, moisture-wicking, and built to circumvent annoyances like uncomfortable seams and heel slipping.Earrings made with her birthstoneMejuriAmethyst Flat Sphere Studs, available at Mejuri, $148If your girlfriend wears jewelry, birthstone earrings that she can keep forever are a thoughtful, personalized gift she'll wear often.  Matching underwear from one of the internet's favorite startupsMeUndiesMatching Underwear, available at MeUndies, $40Get yourself and your girlfriend festive matching underwear — which also happen to be some of the most comfortable pairs we've ever found. MeUndies gives you the options to create your own personalized set — two styles listed for women, two styles listed for men, a mix, and whichever length or cut you and your partner prefer. A monogrammed jewelry case from a minimalist fashion startupCuyanaLeather Jewelry Case, available at Cuyana, $98 (+ $15 for monogram)Keeping track of tiny and delicate jewelry is difficult — but jewelry cases are a pretty and useful solution. This is a thoughtful and personalized gift, especially if you've gotten your girlfriend jewelry in the past, or plan to in the future. It's made from premium leather, comes in many colors, and can be monogrammed with her initials. Cuyana is a cool leather bag startup she may have already heard of. A pair of blue-light-blocking glasses that look good enough to wear outside of the houseFelix GrayFaraday Glasses, available at Felix Gray, from $95If she's ever complained about strain from constant screens, you can help mitigate it with a pair of blue-light-blocking glasses. They might even help with sleep.A stylish, savvy carry-on with an external battery packAwayCarry-On, available at Away, from $275Away's hyper-popular suitcases deserve their hype. Their hard shell is lightweight but durable, their 360° spinner wheels make for seamless traveling, and the external (and ejectable and TSA-compliant) battery pack included can charge a smartphone five times over so she never has to sit behind a trash can at the airport for access to an outlet again. It's also guaranteed for life by Away. Find our full review here.Silky, breathable leggingsEverlanePerform Leggings, available at Everlane, $68Everlane's Perform Leggings are some of our all-time favorites — they're breathable and silky, like a slightly less expensive version of Alo leggings. You can read a full review of the Everlane Perform Leggings and see pictures of them here.The comfiest sneakersAllbirdsWomen's Wool Runners, available at Allbirds, $110The classic Wool Runners make a great gift for the uninitiated, though we'd also highly recommend the brand's casual cup sole Wool Piper for everyday wear if that's more your partner's style. You can find our full review of the Runners here, and the Wool Pipers here.A satin-lined beanieAndrea Bossi/Business InsiderKink & Coil Satin-Lined Beanie, $36Most people with naturally curly hair avoid wearing hats to reduce frizz, but Kink and Coil's satin-lined beanie solves that issue. Just like a silk pillowcase or a bonnet, the inside of the beanie is designed to protect your hair from frizz and damage. On top of that, the pom-pom can be removed, if she'd prefer to wear the hat without it.We spoke with a trichologist to learn more about how satin- and silk-lined beanies can benefit anyone with curly or high-porosity hair. A cashmere crew from Everlane that she'll own foreverEverlaneThe Cashmere Crew, available at Everlane, $145For a closet staple she'll own for years to come, Everlane's $120 Cashmere Crew (available in various colors) is about the safest choice you can make. Everlane has plenty of great gifts (you can find the Everlane basics we wear repeatedly here), so you can't really go wrong. A stylish leather makeup pouch that's thoughtful and easy to travel withDagne DoverHunter Toiletry Bag, available at Dagne Dover, from $40Dagne Dover is quickly becoming one of the best women's handbag companies to know, and its toiletry pouches are a great and relatively affordable gift. The small size holds a handful of go-to toiletries, and the large should have enough space for all of the grooming essentials.A comfy zip-up for the months aheadPatagoniaBetter Sweater, available at Patagonia, from $139Patagonia makes our favorite athleisure options overall, and that definitely includes the Better Sweater. It works in pretty much any environment — in the office, at home, on a hike, or on a casual night out — and has zippered pockets to keep hands warm in the cold months. We're also big fans of the 1/4 Zip option.A stylish weekender to keep her organized on the goCaraa SportStudio Tote, available at Caraa, from $180Caraa Sport makes some of the most functional and best-looking gym bags on the market. This one can transition from tote to backpack by adding straps. It also has a hidden shoe compartment and a waterproof and antimicrobial lining. You can read our full review of this bag here.A pair of silky sweatsAloTailored sweatpants, available at Alo, $118These feel like sweats (in a knit jersey material) but have the sort of tailored fit that you'll find in a nice pair of trousers. So, they feel wonderful and look a bit nicer than the average pair. A new pair of comfy BirkenstocksNordstromBirkenstocks, available at Nordstrom, $134.95If your girlfriend wears the unbelievably comfortable Birkenstocks most days, she might appreciate a new, unblemished pair. They're also in style. BeautyThe best bathrobe money can buyParachuteClassic Turkish Cotton Robe, available at Parachute, $87.20We think the Parachute Classic Turkish Cotton Robe is the best robe on the market. It's soft, fluffy, and absorbent like a towel. It's also got nice deep pockets and a secure waist tie.The cult-favorite hair repair conditioner on her wish listAmazonOlaplex No. 3 Hair Repairing Treatment, available at Amazon, $28This is one gift that will have your girlfriend asking you, "how did you know about this?" If Olaplex isn't already in her shower, it might be on her wish list. The Olaplex No. 3 is good for any hair type and is meant to reduce breakage and strengthen hair from within.16 highly-rated sheet masksAmazonDermal Sheet Mask Set, available at Amazon, $22.99Grab 39 sheet masks to make it easier for your girlfriend to have a frequent and well-deserved "treat yourself" day. These are highly rated and have both vitamin E and collagen included for healthy, happy skin.   The Dyson Airwrap she's seen all over the internetBest BuyDyson Airwrap Complete Styler, available at Best Buy, $599.99The Dyson Airwrap is a minor internet celebrity — so it might already be on your girlfriend's wish list. It replaces three hair devices (blow dryer, straightener, and curling iron) and uses a technology similar to jet engines. In the end, it's a way to get a salon-grade blowout at home, and different attachments let her achieve different styles. Find a Dyson Airwrap review with photos here.But, the cost is a whopping $549, and there are some decent alternatives on the market for far less ($30-$150). If you're looking for a less splashy gift, the Dyson Hair Dryer is also excellent. A small skincare tool that removes 99.5% of dirt, oil, and makeup residueAmazonForeo Luna Play Plus 2, available at Foreo, $89In the category of things your girlfriend may love but hasn't asked for yet: Foreo facial brushes. Our team swears by these gentle yet effective cleansing devices. They have hygienic silicone bristles and come in five different models for different skin types. The Luna is small enough to bring on the go, so your partner can maintain their skincare routine while traveling. A cult-favorite hair towel that reduces damage and cuts drying time by 50%AquisAquis Rapid Dry Hair Towel, available at Anthropologie, $30Aquis' cult-favorite hair towels can cut the amount of time it takes for her hair to dry in half — a claim we're happy to report holds up. The proprietary fabric also means there's less damage to wet hair while it dries. An award-winning at-home facialSephoraDrunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial, available at Sephora, $80This is an award-winning mask with a big following in the beauty and skincare community. It's $80, but it's an at-home pro-quality facial your girlfriend can use anytime — which is a fraction of the price required for regular facials.Fitness and hobbiesAn expertly designed plannerAmazonSelf Journal, available at Amazon, $31.99 The Self Journal is an undated, 13-week planner that's designed for daily use and quarterly planning. It helps its owner break projects and goals into manageable chunks. We love it.If she's working towards a big goal, this could be a really thoughtful resource — especially if it's the kind of goal you can't help her achieve otherwise.A funny card that pays homage to your girlfriend's favorite TV showEtsySuccession Cousin Greg Birthday Card, available at Etsy, from $4.66You could pick up a card from Walgreens on your way to exchange gifts, but it's so much more thoughtful if you think ahead. For that, we suggest heading to Etsy for affordable, creative, and unique gifts.As Cousin Greg said, "if it is to be said, so it is…"A 215-piece art kit for creative projectsAmazonArt 101 215-Piece Wood Art Set, available at Amazon, $43.70If your girlfriend loves to create art, this 215-Piece art kit includes everything she'll need for projects: crayons, colored pencils, oil pastels, fine line markers, watercolor cakes, and acrylic paint.Tickets to an excellent future concertStubHubConcert Tickets Gift Card, available at StubHub, starting at $25No matter when your girlfriend's favorite musicians are performing again, a gift card for concert tickets won't go to waste — and it gives both of you something to look forward to.A high-tech towel that keeps her from slipping around during yoga classesMandukaManduka Yogitoes Yoga Mat Towel, available at Amazon, from $46.72Manduka is known for making the best yoga products, and their Yogitoes towel is one of the most loved. It has tiny 100% silicone nubs on one side that grab yoga mats and keep yogis from slipping around during the exercise. Having a good towel can make a big difference. It also comes in 19 great colors and gets eco-friendly points. Each Yogitoes towel is made from eight recycled plastic water bottles, and made with dyes free of azo, lead, or heavy metal. A video message from someone she loves almost as much as youCameoCameo Video Messages, available at Cameo, from $1Whether it's your girlfriend's favorite actor, comedian, or athlete, you're likely to find someone she admires on Cameo. Cameo allows celebrities to send custom video messages to recipients for nearly any occasion, and a personalized video is a gift that she'll never forget. A disposable camera that doesn't take you out of the momentGamesgamer024 The gamer/YouTubeDisposable camera, available at Target, $15.99Interested in preserving memories without taking yourself out of them? A good disposable camera or a film camera can take the pressure away from perfection so you and your girlfriend can focus on just savoring experiences together.A planned trip for the two of you to take togetherAirbnbAirbnb Gift Card, available at Airbnb, from $25If you want to gift an experience you and your girlfriend can enjoy together, grab a card, a gift card to Airbnb, and come up with a few location ideas to choose from. You can also book a hotel in your city on or Expedia for a sweet staycation. *This gift can be saved and used at a later date.A pass to get into a bunch of boutique fitness classesClasspassClassPass Gift Card, available at ClassPass, from $5Boutique fitness classes are expensive, which can make trying new workouts — either for variety or to figure out what we like — less appealing. ClassPass solves both issues. It's relatively affordable, and members can access a neverending catalog of great workouts with small class sizes. If your partner is getting back into fitness after over a year of at-home workouts, we'd highly recommend a gift card here for whenever they're ready to use it.A year-long MasterClass membership to learn about things she's passionate aboutMasterClassAnnual Membership, available at MasterClass, from $180/yearWe love MasterClass because it kind of feels like entertainment. Classes are short, there's no homework, and she can listen to just the audio like it's a podcast.The site hosts classes taught by well-known celebrities and industry leaders — from Neil deGrasse Tyson teaching Scientific Thinking and Communication to Malcolm Gladwell on Writing, Shonda Rhimes on Writing for Television, and Bob Iger on Business Strategy and Leadership. You can read our full review here.A sleek fitness tracker that includes heart rate monitoringFitbitFitbit Inspire 2, available at Best Buy, $99.95Fitbit's affordable Inspire 2 tracker has no shortage of useful features to keep someone informed about their physical activity — tracking calorie burn, resting heart rate, and heart rate zones.An exercise bike for staying active indoorsNordicTrackCommercial S22i Studio Cycle, available at NordicTrack, $1,899If money is of no object and your partner is trying to figure out how to exercise while staying indoors, an exercise bike is a particularly thoughtful and useful gift right now. We like the NordicTrack option the most overall, but we also like and recommend options that are under $200. A card game that's meant to deepen personal connectionsUrban OutfittersWe're Not Really Strangers Card Game, available at Urban Outfitters, $30This card game, from the popular Instagram account We're Not Really Strangers, is designed to enhance connections between people with different levels: perceptions, connection, and reflection. Not only is it a card game you haven't played before, but it's also a thoughtful activity you can enjoy with your girlfriend.A great foam rollerTB12Vibrating Pliability Roller, available at TB12, $160If your girlfriend is very physically active, a foam roller is a nice gift to aid in her workout recovery and soreness. This one is our favorite because it has four levels of vibration, a pattern that targets muscle groups, and a durable exterior. But, if your budget doesn't fit a $160 foam roller, never fear — we like some under-$50 options too. A subscription to a book club that sends her great hardcovers once per monthBook of the Month/Instagram3-Month Subscription, available at Book of the Month, $49.99If she's a bookworm, Book of the Month is an especially thoughtful and unique gift — it's a book club that has been around since 1926, and it's credited with discovering some of the most beloved books of all time ("Gone with the Wind" and "Catcher in the Rye" to name a couple). If you gift her a subscription, she'll receive a hardcover book delivered to her door once a month. Books are selected by a team of experts and celebrity guest judges.If she's really more into audiobooks or e-reading now rather than hardcovers, check out a gift subscription to Scribd (full review here).Hiking boots she'll thank you forREIForge GTX Hiking Boots, available at REI, $174.73Hiking boots are the MVP of hiking gear, and the right shoes can make all the difference thanks to their fit, ankle support, cushioning, and tread. Overall, we'd recommend getting the Tecninca Forge GTX boots – they're the best overall pair. But you can find suggestions for specific hikes — a pair for backpacking, a day hiking pair — in our buying guide to the best feminine hiking shoes here.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 10th, 2022

Fearing Looming Bubble, State Treasurers Square Up Against ESG"s "Invisible Fist"

Fearing Looming Bubble, State Treasurers Square Up Against ESG's "Invisible Fist" Authored by Nathan Worcester via The Epoch Times, Environmental, social and governance ratings batter states, choke off capital from fossil fuel industry... State treasurers spoke out against the imposition of environmental, social and governance (ESG) scoring on public money in a June 8 press conference, with one official comparing it to the social justice-driven push for universal homeownership that helped trigger the Great Recession. “I would be very concerned about investing in green energy right now,” said Utah State Treasurer Marlo Oaks, in response to a question from The Epoch Times. He did not rule out the possibility of an ESG bubble similar to the housing one that burst during the late 2000s—an event that drove the nation’s worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. That bubble was inflated in part by two government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Beginning in earnest with the Clinton administration’s 1995 National Homeownership Strategy, which committed to “expanding creative financing” for home buyers, the firms continually reduced the requirements for loans. By 2006, fully 43 percent of first-time home buyers put down no deposit, according to a study from the National Association of Realtors. In contrast to the “invisible hand”—Adam Smith’s metaphor for the operation of the free market—Oaks sees ESG as an “invisible fist.” Oaks was one signatory to an April 21 letter from Utah’s governor, senators, congressional representatives and other public officials in response to S&P Global’s issuance of ESG ratings for US states and territories. “Considering recent global events, the current economic situation in the United States, and the unreliability and inherently political nature of ESG factors in investment decisions, we view this newfound focus on ESG as politicizing the ratings process. “It is deeply counterproductive, misleading, potentially damaging to the entities being rated, and possibly illegal,” Oaks and his colleagues argued in that letter. Idaho officials sent a similar letter to S&P Global on May 18. They echoed the Utah letter’s concerns with the firm’s scoring of American energy companies relative to some of their foreign counterparts. China’s state-owned Sinopec, for example, earned a 41 from S&P Global. ExxonMobil Corporation, by contrast, received a 36, while Chevron Corporation received a 39. Sinopec’s sub-scores on both “social” and “governance and economic” factors were well above the industry mean. The results raise questions about the rankings’ reliability in light of the use of forced labor in China as well as the Chinese Communist Party’s heavy influence over corporate governance in the country. For example, in an analysis of executive-level shake-ups in China’s oil industry during 2011, experts from the Brookings Institution and Ian Bremmer’s Eurasia Group opined that the movement of leaders from one company to another is “a blatant reminder of the CCP’s control over China’s flagship firms.” Another speaker at the June 8 press conference, West Virginia’s Treasurer Riley Moore, made headlines in January when the state divested from Blackrock over its ESG practices. “In West Virginia, we’re an energy state. We produce coal, gas, and oil—and this ESG movement in its current form is really an existential threat to our jobs, our economy, and our tax revenue,” Moore told reporters. A law passed by the West Virginia Senate on March 12 will exclude financial institutions from competitive bidding with the state if they are boycotting fossil fuel companies. Financial institutions slated for inclusion on West Virginia’s contracting blacklist will be sent letters allowing them to appeal the decision. Thirty days later, the full list will be published. Moore told reporters that those initial letters will likely be sent out at the end of this week. He also suggested ESG scoring could soon be incorporated into individuals’ credit scores—for example, through favorable mortgage rates for people who put solar panels on their homes. In a follow-up interview with The Epoch Times on June 8, Riley cited a presentation from J. Michael Evans, president of China’s Alibaba Group, to the World Economic Forum. Evans said his company is developing an “individualized carbon footprint tracker,” which he claimed would let consumers measure their travel, food consumption, and more. “You’re going to come to a very logical conclusion if we continue down this path,” Moore told The Epoch Times. He agreed that the economy could be facing an ESG bubble. Moore argued coal prices could be an indicator—the international benchmark for a tonne of coal has shot up from less than $50 in September 2020 to roughly $400 today. “The coal producers are booked out through 2023. They can’t produce any more than they are right now,” he added. Kentucky State Treasurer Allison Ball also addressed reporters at the June 8 press conference, arguing that the application of ESG could violate her state’s laws. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron agrees. In a May 26 opinion prompted by an inquiry from Ball, officials from Cameron’s office concurred that ESG asset management practices run afoul of Kentucky law. “This isn’t really about profitability. It’s not about retirement security. It’s not about your investments. It’s about political activism. And they’re doing it in a way that they could not do through the democratic process,” Ball told reporters. “ESG today is misallocating capital, in that it’s not providing capital where it is desperately needed, in the traditional energy space—and it’s leading to higher gas prices,” Oaks said. Left-wing activists and financiers have celebrated the movement of investments from the hydrocarbon sector, arguing that pressure in that direction is both ethically and financially sound. “Getting lenders to choke off money to fossil fuel companies is the next needed move for the industry to address the material risks that the coal, oil and gas industry faces,” said Green Century Capital Management’s Leslie Samuelrich, as quoted in a February 2021 CNBC article. “Fossil fuel mining, exploration, and extraction all are capital intensive activities that demand constant access to capital. If capital costs rise or the supply of capital is reduced, projects can become uneconomical and fossil fuel companies can see their valuations fall,” wrote David Carlin in a February 2021 article for Forbes, “The Case for Fossil Fuel Divestment.” He argued that coal, oil, and natural gas companies may face “a grim financial future” if their reserves remain untapped as a result of political or financial pressure, suggesting that divestment advocates are “making a savvy financial decision.” While ESG has trended in a leftward direction, at least one fund appears to offer a more conservative alternative. The exchange-traded fund (ETF) Inspire Investing, which claims to offer “Biblically responsible investing” in the vein of ESG, has bucked ESG trends by investing in the firearms companies Sturm Ruger & Company and Vista Outdoor, as reported by Bloomberg Law and confirmed by Inspire’s Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Yet, speakers at the June 8 press conference told The Epoch Times they reject the notion of pushing ESG to the right through state power over public pensions. “We just want the politics to come back to a neutral base,” said Derek Kreifels of the State Financial Officers Foundation, adding that the use of public pension funds to advance a political agenda was “the big offense with ESG.” “If you want to invest in some second amendment ETF, please feel free to do it. We don’t want to be forced to invest in that,” Moore said. Robert Netzly, president and CEO of Inspire, told The Epoch Times, “We believe that the solution to gun violence is not removing firearms from law-abiding citizens, but strong law enforcement removing criminals from our streets. “We believe state pensions should not be forced to invest along any particular ESG guidelines, but should have the freedom to do so if they decide that is in the best interest of their constituents.” The Epoch Times has reached out to S&P Global and Alibaba Group. Tyler Durden Thu, 06/09/2022 - 14:25.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJun 9th, 2022

The Top 5 Investment Plays for Blockchain

There are plenty of ways to invest in blockchain these days. Dave breaks down five categories that can help you find fundamentally-sound investments with real, sustainable businesses. The early days of blockchain are behind us now. The “Bitcoin Mania” of late 2017 has come and gone. By now, most of you are familiar with at least the basics of cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and Bitcoin. Many of you likely have some sort of exposure to cryptocurrencies. It is easier than ever to own crypto thanks to the launch of Bitcoin ETFs. You do not have to have a wallet or an exchange app on your phone, you can load up in BTCUSD as easily as you buy shares of Nvidia.Now, a new class of crypto has emerged. The space has evolved and profits will mount up for those who take advantage. Those who don’t adapt will be left behind. New, exciting, ten-bagger profit potential themes are all around us. Rather than just searching for Bitcoin, big money has been made in non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and meme-coins like Dogecoin and Shiba Inu, while DeFi (decentralized finance) has become the name of the game.The new opportunities do not come without risk. Do a quick Google search for “Luna Terra Stablecoin” and you’ll see exactly what I mean. How do you know the coin you’ve decided to load up on is going to hit or miss? How will you profit amidst this backdrop of an ever-changing landscape?In a world where Central Banks have opened the spigots and quantitative easing has become the norm, crypto is taking on a new role. Bitcoin has seen its legitimization as an asset class. Bitcoin futures volumes have been shooting up month by month. Publicly traded companies here in the U.S. are beginning to load up Bitcoin reserves on their balance sheets.Yes, you read that correctly. Companies and shareholders alike are making the conscious decision to diversify their cash holdings by adding cryptocurrency. We are not talking about a hundred bucks here or there, we are talking billions of dollars. In total, 27 publicly traded companies are holding over $7 billion in Bitcoin. Between ETFs, countries like Nicaragua, public and private companies, there is over $64 billion in Bitcoin being held on balance sheets like treasuries.What happens if this becomes standard practice across all publicly traded companies? That increase in demand is likely to spark yet another surge past all-time highs.Behind the market’s recent headlines about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Fed starting to unwind its balance sheet, the land grab in the blockchain world has begun. It started as a gimmick, with companies changing their names to attract new investors. Now, it has evolved to well-established industries using the blockchain technology to cut costs, improve margins and boost their bottom lines. Huge corporations like Walmart, UnitedHealth, and BMW have been adapting blockchain technology to suit their needs. And it’s more than just concepts and budding partnerships, there are real-world applications for blockchain which are already making huge changes in industries across the world. The revolution is just beginning.A few short years ago, no one would have thought that these digital assets would be used to purchase real-world goods. Companies all over the world are now accepting crypto as payment. You can now use Bitcoin to buy a Tesla or even a trip to the movies at AMC. How about a trip to the moon with Dogecoin? No, seriously, you can use Dogecoin to pay SpaceX for an upcoming space mission.In this article, I’m going to make sure you’re not going to get hurt chasing fake blockchain companies and instead, steer you towards investment ideas which are still fundamentally sound and built around real, sustainable businesses. Legitimization was a big buzzword surrounding Bitcoin. Nowadays it’s all about the Ethereum blockchain and decentralized finance. It has the power to take everyday companies and turn them into the next big thing.Continued . . .------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------"10X Bigger Than the Internet"Zacks targets giant gains from the innovative businesses behind blockchain – the emerging "Internet of Money." Industry revenue is projected to skyrocket from $4.9 billion in 2021 to $228 billion by 2028. Shareholders in this space could make life-changing gains without speculating on volatile cryptocurrencies.According to government sources, blockchain technology could become "10 times more valuable than the internet." And just like the early days of internet stocks, the profit potential is tremendous. Don’t miss your chance to catch our top picks to tap this phenomenon.See our blockchain stocks now >>------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------When looking at the cryptocurrency ecosystem, you find that there are plenty of ways to invest in the blockchain. We can break down these stocks into five main categories.1) The “Picks and Axes” and Miners During the gold rush, the ones who really got rich were the ones selling the picks and axes. That is, the companies which provided the tools for the speculators to go out and try to find their fortunes. In the cryptocurrency world, this refers to the companies which make the chips and hardware used for mining operations. Examples would include a host of semiconductor companies.Then there are the miners themselves. Miners confirm transactions from node to node by solving the cryptographic problem and are then rewarded in units of the cryptocurrency. Already we are seeing publicly traded companies which “mine” cryptocurrency. These companies mine the currency then immediately sell them on the open market and pass through the gains to shareholders. Think of them as you would a pipeline company in the energy sector. These companies are small now, but could become much larger in time.There are even “green miners” out there. These are companies that use renewable energy to power their crypto mining operations. Dividends are increased over time because the negative draw of electricity costs are not a major factor.2) The Cloud No other industry has been as dependent on the cloud for its development as blockchain. The need to distribute a ledger across the world, with no centralized ownership or authority overseeing transactions plays into the strengths of the cloud. However, the cloud is still at risk here, as blockchain technology can distribute storage across the globe, fighting the centralized nature of traditional cloud services. Still, this industry can adapt the technology to benefit. 3) Decentralized Finance (DeFi) Among the most disruptive industries for blockchain is payment processing. Rather than your traditional financial intermediary, blockchain technology allows for a distributed, open, public ledger where transactions are confirmed by other nodes in the chain for a fee that’s much smaller than your typical fees coming from more traditional processors.Blockchain tech is also perfect for lending, allowing a lender to spread their risk across thousands of loans in an instant, no matter the size of the lender. We are just at the tip of the iceberg in this arena.Smart contracts can trade on these ledgers. These contracts can automatically make scheduled payments. There is no third-party authenticator needed. These contracts can also easily be bought and sold across the blockchain, providing fast access and instant liquidity.4) Investors, Business Development Companies and Consulting There will be a wave of companies looking for ways to incorporate blockchain technology into their existing businesses. Already, large consulting companies are beginning to offer services helping companies to integrate the new tech. Gartner has even developed a site dedicated to this purpose.Some publicly traded companies are acting as incubators for other budding cryptocurrencies. There are nearly 18,000 cryptocurrencies in the world with a total market cap in excess of $1.8 trillion. The total worldwide crypto market volume exceeds $77 billion daily. These investors and business development companies invest in promising crypto companies before they hit the mainstream.5) Futures and ETFs The largest news event of the past year for Bitcoin has to be the approval of Bitcoin ETFs. It made investing in Bitcoin as easy as buying an individual stock. It’s not just Bitcoin anymore. Ethereum has emerged as the next fully legitimized cryptocurrency. It is only a matter of time before the SEC finally gives in and allows an Ethereum-based ETF to hit the market. Already, futures contracts for each are traded thousands of times on large exchanges in the U.S. including the widely respected CME Group.Bottom Line Blockchain technology is already having a major impact on almost every industry you can think of, and that impact will only accelerate over time. In fact, experts predict the space will soar +4,525% from $4.9 billion in 2021 to $228 billion by 2028.Just like the early days when the internet was the new emerging technology, investors have a chance to pocket huge gains. That's why I invite you to look into our portfolio service Blockchain Innovators.It cuts through the gimmicks and hype to uncover strong, often little-known companies driving blockchain technology – from supplying chips and hardware to fintech firms and payment processing.We look for stocks with explosive profit potential and long-term sustained growth. In fact, the portfolio is currently riding 6 triple-digit gains reaching as high as +294.6%, +336.2%, even +547.1%.¹Most importantly, there’s still time for you to get in on them because we believe all 6 still have a long way to grow.Bonus Report: When you look into Blockchain Innovators, you're also invited to download our newly released Special Report on another fast-emerging industry – NFT Investment Guide: 5 Surprising Picks. “Non Fungible Tokens” are unique and irreplaceable digital assets. They’re another investment with almost limitless upside. Already at $35 billion today in revenue, NFTs look to reach $80 billion in 2025.This opportunity ends Sunday, January 12, so I suggest that you look into it right away.See our Blockchain Innovators stocks and bonus NFT report now >>Good Investing,Dave BartosiakDave is Zacks' resident blockchain expert. A successful early crypto investor, he selects stocks and delivers exclusive commentary for our newest portfolio, Blockchain Innovators.¹ As of 6/7/2022. The results listed above are not (or may not be) representative of the performance of all selections made by Zacks Investment Research's newsletter editors. Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report To read this article on click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksJun 8th, 2022

The 32 best enemies-to-lovers books to swoon over this summer, from fun rom-coms to seductive fantasy novels

From classics like "Pride and Prejudice" to newer hits like "Beach Read," these are some of the best enemies-to-lovers books. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.Some of the best enemies-to-lovers books include "Pride and Prejudice," "The Hating Game," and "Red, White & Royal Blue."Amazon; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderWhen you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Enemies-to-lovers is one of the most popular romance tropes. Readers love witnessing bitter rivalries dissolve into a sweet love. You might recognize classic enemies-to-lovers stories like "Pride and Prejudice." The romance genre is full of unique and adorable love stories but with so many different facets of the genre, subgenres or "tropes" have emerged such as "fake dating," "forced proximity," or "enemies-to-lovers." Tropes offer an outline for the plot from which exciting plots and memorable characters emerge and allow readers to find their favorite romance style again and again. "Enemies-to-lovers" is one of the best and most popular tropes that you might recognize from classics like "Pride and Prejudice" or bestsellers like "Red, White & Royal Blue." Whether they're set on a fabulous island or a darkly magical land, here are some of readers' favorite enemies-to-lovers romance reads.The 32 best enemies-to-lovers books in 2022:Descriptions are provided by Amazon and lightly edited for length."Pride and Prejudice" by Jane AustenAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $6.99When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited; he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. Jane Austen's best-loved novel is an unforgettable story about the inaccuracy of first impressions, the power of reason, and above all, the strange dynamics of human relationships and emotions."Dating Dr. Dil" by Nisha SharmaGoodreadsAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $13.60Simone Larkspur loves her job as a pastry expert for a cookbook publisher until the company pivots to video and Simone finds herself stumbling and failing to create great content. When Simone's new kitchen test manager effortlessly and infuriatingly becomes a viral sensation, Simone is forced to work with Ray and their obnoxious personality in close quarters. In "Chef's Kiss", everything gets even more complicated when Ray comes out as nonbinary to a swell of mixed reactions — and Simone must choose between her career and the person who's been slowly melting her heart."Chef's Kiss" by TJ AlexanderAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $13.60Simone Larkspur is a perfectionist pastry expert with a dream job at The Discerning Chef, a venerable cookbook publisher in New York City. But when The Discerning Chef decides to bring their brand into the 21st century by pivoting to video, Simone is thrust into the spotlight and finds herself failing at something for the first time in her life.To make matters worse, Simone has to deal with Ray Lyton, the new test kitchen manager, whose obnoxious cheer and outgoing personality are like oil to Simone's water. But the more they work together, the more Simone realizes her heart may be softening like butter for Ray.Things get even more complicated when Ray comes out at work as nonbinary to mixed reactions—and Simone must choose between the career she fought so hard for and the person who just might take the cake (and her heart)."West Side Love Story" by Priscilla OliverasGoodreadsAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $11.66Having grown up in the nurturing household of Casa Capuleta, Mariana will do anything for familia. To solve her adoptive parents' financial problems amid their rapidly changing San Antonio comunidad, Mariana and her younger sisters are determined to win the Battle of the Mariachi Bands. That means competing against Hugo Montero, their father's archnemesis, and his band and escalating a decades-old feud. To Angelo Montero's familia, Mariana is also strictly off-limits. But that doesn't stop him from pursuing her. As their secret affair intensifies and the competition grows fierce, they're swept up in a brewing storm of betrayals, rivalries, and broken ties. "She Gets the Girl" by Rachael Lippincott and Alyson DerrickAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $14.32Alex Blackwood is a little bit headstrong, with a dash of chaos and a whole lot of flirt. Molly Parker has everything in her life totally in control, except for her complete awkwardness with just about anyone besides her mom. She knows she's in love with the impossibly cool Cora Myers. She just…hasn't actually talked to her yet.When Alex, fresh off a bad (but hopefully not permanent) breakup, discovers Molly's hidden crush as their paths cross the night before classes start, they realize they might have a common interest after all. Because maybe if Alex volunteers to help Molly learn how to get her dream girl to fall for her, she can prove to her ex that she's not a selfish flirt. As the two embark on their five-step plans to get their girls to fall for them, though, they both begin to wonder if maybe they're the ones falling…for each other."The Stand-In" by Lily ChuAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $11.99Gracie Reed is doing just fine. Sure, she was fired by her overly "friendly" boss, and yes she still hasn't gotten her mother into the nursing home of their dreams, but she's healthy, she's (somewhat) happy, and she's (mostly) holding it all together.But when a mysterious SUV pulls up beside her, revealing Chinese cinema's golden couple Wei Fangli and Sam Yao, Gracie's world is turned on its head. The famous actress has a proposition: due to their uncanny resemblance, Fangli wants Gracie to be her stand-in. The catch? Gracie will have to be escorted by Sam, the most attractive―and infuriating―man Gracie's ever met."Beach Read" by Emily HenryAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $7.36A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck with their respective writer's blocks engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters. They strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. Everyone will finish a book, and no one will fall in love. Really."The Spanish Love Deception" by Elena ArmasAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $17.99A wedding. A trip to Spain. The most infuriating man. And three days of pretending. Or, in other words, a plan that will never work.Four weeks wasn't a lot of time to find someone willing to cross the Atlantic — from NYC and all the way to Spain — for a wedding. Let alone someone eager to play along with my charade. But that didn't mean I was desperate enough to bring the 6'4 blue-eyed pain in my ass standing before me: Aaron Blackford. The man whose main occupation was making my blood boil had just offered himself to be my date, right after inserting his nose in my business and calling me delusional and himself my best option. Was it worth the suffering to bring my colleague and bane of my existence as my fake boyfriend to my sister's wedding? Or was I better off coming clean and facing the consequences?"Poison Study (The Chronicles of Ixia Book 0)" by Maria V. SnyderAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $11.59About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace — and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.And so, Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dusté, and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia, and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again, and choices must be made. But this time, the outcomes aren't so clear."A Touch of Darkness" by Scarlett St. ClairAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $14.54Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist. Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world, and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible. After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead, and the terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever. The bet does more than expose Persephone's failure as a goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows — and it's forbidden."The Hating Game" by Sally ThorneAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $9.19Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can't understand Joshua's joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy's overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head, and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job… But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn't hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn't hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game."Red Queen" by Victoria AveyardAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $6.98Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood — those with common, Red blood serve the Silver-blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and she is betrothed to one of his sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard — a growing Red rebellion — even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction."Beautiful Disaster" by Jamie McGuireAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $9.90The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn't drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University's Walking One-Night Stand.Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby wants — and needs — to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby's resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis's apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match. "Red, White & Royal Blue" by Casey McQuistonAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $9.97What happens when America's First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius ― his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There's only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: Staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper  and more dangerous than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? "The Shadows Between Us" by Tricia LevensellerAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $10.99Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:1) Woo the Shadow King.2) Marry him.3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King's power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she's going to do everything within her power to get it.But Alessandra's not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen ― all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?"The Viscount Who Loved Me: Bridgerton (Bridgerton Book 2)" by Julia QuinnAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $9.19This time the gossip columnists have it wrong. London's most elusive bachelor Anthony Bridgerton hasn't just decided to marry — he's even chosen a wife! The only obstacle is his intended's older sister, Kate Sheffield — the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom. The spirited schemer is driving Anthony mad with her determination to stop the betrothal, but when he closes his eyes at night, Kate's the woman haunting his increasingly erotic dreams...Contrary to popular belief, Kate is quite sure that reformed rakes do not make the best husbands — and Anthony Bridgerton is the most wicked rogue of them all. Kate's determined to protect her sister — but she fears her own heart is vulnerable. And when Anthony's lips touch hers, she's suddenly afraid she might not be able to resist the reprehensible rake herself..."The Cruel Prince" by Holly BlackAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $10.99Of course, I want to be like them. They're beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever. And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered, and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. 10 years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans — especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.To win a place at the Court, she must defy him — and face the consequences."Wuthering Heights" by Emily BronteAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $7.36Lockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange, situated on the bleak Yorkshire moors, is forced to seek shelter one night at Wuthering Heights, the home of his landlord. There he discovers the history of the tempestuous events that took place years before. What unfolds is the tale of the intense love between the foundling Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw. Catherine, forced to choose between passionate, tortured Heathcliff and gentle, well-bred Edgar Linton, surrendered to the expectations of her class. As Heathcliff's bitterness and vengeance at his betrayal are visited upon the next generation, their innocent heirs must struggle to escape the legacy of the past."The Unhoneymooners" by Christina LaurenAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $8.44Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: From inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion… she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.Olive braces herself for wedding hell — determined to put on a brave face. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren't affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there's a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo.Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, 10 days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is… Olive doesn't mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be."If I Never Met You" by Mhairi McFarlaneAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $10.72When her partner of over a decade suddenly ends things, Laurie is left reeling — not only because they work at the same law firm, and she has to see him every day. Her once perfect life is in shambles, and the thought of dating again in the age of Tinder is nothing short of horrifying. When news of her ex's pregnant girlfriend hits the office grapevine, taking the humiliation lying down is not an option. Then a chance encounter in a broken-down elevator with the office playboy opens up a new possibility.Jamie Carter doesn't believe in love, but he needs a respectable, steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Laurie wants a hot new man to give the rumor mill something else to talk about. It's the perfect proposition: a fauxmance played out on social media, with strategically staged photographs and a specific end date in mind. With the plan hatched, Laurie and Jamie begin to flaunt their new couple status, to the astonishment — and jealousy — of their friends and colleagues. But there's a fine line between pretending to be in love and actually falling for your charming, handsome fake boyfriend..."Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove, #1)" by Shelby MahurinAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $10.59Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.As a huntsman of the Church, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. But when Lou pulls a wicked stunt, the two are forced into an impossible situation — marriage.Lou, unable to ignore her growing feelings yet powerless to change what she is, must make a choice. And love makes fools of us all."The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2)" by Holly BlackAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $10.99You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring. The first lesson is to make yourself strong.Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world."Six of Crows (Six of Crows, 1)" by Leigh BardugoAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $7.99Ketterdam: A bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price ― and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...A convict with a thirst for revenge. A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager. A runaway with a privileged past. A spy known as the Wraith. A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction ― if they don't kill each other first."Bully (Fall Away, #1)" by Penelope DouglasAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $14.40My name is Tate. He doesn't call me that, though. He would never refer to me by a friendly nickname. No, he'll barely even speak to me. But he still won't leave me alone.We were best friends once. Then he turned on me and made it his mission to ruin my life. I was humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got worse as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to stay out of his way. I even went away for a year just to avoid him.But I'm done hiding from him now, and there's no way I'll allow him to ruin another year. He might not have changed, but I have. It's time to fight back."A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)" by Sarah J. MaasAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $10.80When 19-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a terrifying creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not truly a beast, but one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled her world.At least, he's not a beast all the time.As she adapts to her new home, her feelings for the faerie, Tamlin, transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But something is not right in the faerie lands. An ancient, wicked shadow is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it or doom Tamlin-and his world-forever."To Kill a Kingdom" by Alexandra ChristoAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $9.89Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of 17 princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most ― a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian's heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby ― it's his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she's more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good ― but can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind's greatest enemy?"Punk 57" by Penelope DouglasAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $13.99Misha: I can't help but smile at the lyrics in her letter. She misses me. In fifth grade, my teacher set us up with pen pals from a different school. Thinking I was a girl, with a name like Misha, the other teacher paired me up with her student, Ryen. My teacher, believing Ryen was a boy like me, agreed. It didn't take long for us to figure out the mistake. And in no time at all, we were arguing about everything. The best take-out pizza. Android vs. iPhone. Whether or not Eminem is the greatest rapper ever… And that was the start. For the next seven years, it was us. We only had three rules: No social media, no phone numbers, no pictures. We had a good thing going. Why ruin it? Until I run across a photo of a girl online. Name's Ryen, loves Gallo's pizza, and worships her iPhone. What are the chances? F*ck it. I need to meet her. I just don't expect to hate what I find. Ryen: He hasn't written in three months. Something's wrong. Did he die? Get arrested? Knowing Misha, neither would be a stretch. Without him around, I'm going crazy. I need to know someone is listening. It's my own fault. I should've gotten his phone number or picture or something. He could be gone forever. Or right under my nose, and I wouldn't even know it."From Lukov with Love" by Mariana ZapataAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $18.99If someone were to ask Jasmine Santos to describe the last few years of her life with a single word, it would definitely be a four-letter one. After 17 years — and countless broken bones and broken promises — she knows her window to compete in figure skating is coming to a close. But when the offer of a lifetime comes in from an arrogant idiot she's spent the last decade dreaming about pushing in the way of a moving bus, Jasmine might have to reconsider everything. Including Ivan Lukov."From Blood and Ash (Blood and Ash, #1)" by Jennifer L. ArmentroutAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $18.65Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy's life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.The entire kingdom's future rests on Poppy's shoulders. But when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard, honor-bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden."These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights, #1)" by Chloe GongAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $14.98The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is 18-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang — a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette's first love… and first betrayal.But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns — and grudges — aside and work together, for if they can't stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule."The Bridge Kingdom (The Bridge Kingdom, #1)" by Danielle L. JensenAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $13.49The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom enriches itself and deprives its rivals, including Lara's homeland. So when she's sent as a bride under the guise of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture its impenetrable defenses. And the defenses of its king.Yet as she infiltrates her new home and gains a deeper understanding of the war to possess the bridge, Lara begins to question whether she's the hero or the villain. And as her feelings for Aren transform from frosty hostility to fierce passion, Lara must choose which kingdom she'll save... and which kingdom she'll destroy."Paper Princess (The Royals, #1") by Erin WattAmazonAvailable on Amazon and Bookshop from $16.14Ella Harper is a survivor ― a pragmatic optimist. She's spent her whole life moving from town to town with her flighty mother, struggling to make ends meet and believing that someday she'll climb out of the gutter. After her mother's death, Ella is truly alone.Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons, who all hate her. Each Royal boy is more magnetic than the last, but none as captivating as Reed Royal, the boy who is determined to send her back to where she came from.Reed doesn't want her. He says she doesn't belong with the Royals. He might be right.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJun 7th, 2022

Recession, Prices, & The Final Crack-Up Boom

Recession, Prices, & The Final Crack-Up Boom Authored by Alasdair Macleod via, Initiated by monetarists, the debate between an outlook for inflation versus recession intensifies. We appear to be moving on from the stagflation story into outright fears of the consequences of monetary tightening and of interest rate overkill. In common with statisticians in other jurisdictions, Britain’s Office for Budget Responsibility is still effectively saying that inflation of prices is transient, though the prospect of a return towards the 2% target has been deferred until 2024. Chancellor Sunak blithely accepts these figures to justify a one-off hit on oil producers, when, surely, with his financial expertise he must know the situation is likely to be very different from the OBR’s forecasts. This article clarifies why an entirely different outcome is virtually certain. To explain why, the reasonings of monetarists and neo-Keynesians are discussed and the errors in their understanding of the causes of inflation is exposed. Finally, we can see in plainer sight the evolving risk leading towards a systemic fiat currency crisis encompassing banks, central banks, and fiat currencies themselves. It involves understanding that inflation is not rising prices but a diminishing purchasing power for currency and bank deposits, and that the changes in the quantity of currency and credit discussed by monetarists are not the most important issue. In a world awash with currency and bank deposits the real concern is the increasing desire of economic actors to reduce these balances in favour of an increase in their ownership of physical assets and goods. As the crisis unfolds, we can expect increasing numbers of the public to attempt to reduce their cash and bank deposits with catastrophic consequences for their currencies’ purchasing power. That being so, we appear to be on a fast track towards a final crack-up boom whereby the public attempts to reduce their holdings of currency and bank deposits, evidenced by selected non-financial asset and basic consumer items prices beginning to rise rapidly. Introduction In the mainstream investment media, the narrative for the economic outlook is evolving. From inflation, by which is commonly meant rising prices, the MSIM say we now face the prospect of recession. While dramatic, current inflation rates are seen to be a temporary phenomenon driven by factors such as Russian sanctions, Chinese covid lockdowns, component shortages and staffing problems. Therefore, it is said, inflation remains transient — it’s just that it will take a little longer than originally thought by Jay Powell to return to the 2% target. We were reminded of this in Britain last week when Chancellor Sunak delivered his “temporary targeted energy profits levy”, which by any other name was an emergency budget. Note the word “temporary”. This was justified by the figures from the supposedly independent Office for Budget Responsibility. The OBR still forecasts a return to 2% price inflation but deferred until early 2024 after a temporary peak of 9%. Therefore, the OBR deems it is still transient. Incidentally, the OBR’s forecasting record has been deemed by independent observers as “really terrible”. Absolved himself of any responsibility for the OBR’s inflation estimates, Sunak is spending £15bn on subsidies for households’ fuel costs, claiming to recover it from oil producers on the argument that they are enjoying an unexpected windfall, courtesy of Vladimir Putin, to be used to finance a one-off temporary situation. That being the case, don’t hold your breath waiting for Shell and BP to submit a bill to Sunak for having to write off their extensive Russian investments and distribution businesses because of UK government sanctions against Russia. But we digress from our topic, which is about the future course of prices, more specifically the unmeasurable general price level in the context of economic prospects. And what if the OBR’s figures, which are like those of all other statist statisticians in other jurisdictions, turn out to be hideously wrong? There is no doubt that they and the MSIM are clutching at a straw labelled “hope”. Hope that a recession will lead to lower consumer demand taking the heat out of higher prices. Hope that Putin’s war will end rapidly in his defeat. Hope that Western sanctions will collapse the Russian economy. Hope that supply chains will be rapidly restored to normal. But even if all these expectations turn out to be true, old-school economic analysis unbiased by statist interests suggests that interest rates will still have to go significantly higher, bankrupting businesses, governments, and even central banks overloaded with their QE-derived portfolios. The establishment, the mainstream media and government agencies are deluding themselves over prospects for prices. Modern macroeconomics in the form of both monetarism and Keynesianism is not equipped to understand the economic relationships that determine the future purchasing power of fiat currencies. Taking our cue from the stagflationary seventies, when Keynesianism was discredited, and Milton Friedman of the Chicago monetary school came to prominence, we must critically examine both creeds. In this article we look at what the monetarists are saying, then the neo-Keynesian mainstream approach, and finally the true position and the outcome it is likely to lead to. Since monetarists are now warning that a slowdown in credit creation is tilting dangers away from inflation towards recession, we shall consider the errors in the monetarist approach first. Monetary theory has not yet adapted itself for pure fiat Monetarist economists are now telling us that the growth of money supply is slowing, pointing to a recession. But that is only true if all the hoped-for changes in prices comes from the side of goods and services and not that of the currency. No modern monetarist appears to take that into account in his or her analysis of price prospects, bundling up this crucial issue in velocity of circulation. This is why they often preface their analysis by assuming there is no change in velocity of circulation. While they have turned their backs on sound money, which can only be metallic gold or silver and their credible substitutes, their analysis of the relationship between currency and prices has not been adequately revised to account for changes in the purchasing power of pure fiat currencies. It is vitally important to understand why it matters. A proper gold coin exchange standard turns a currency into a gold substitute, which the public is almost always content to hold through cycles of bank credit. While there are always factors that alter the purchasing power of gold and its relationship with its credible substitutes, the purchasing power of a properly backed currency and associated media in the form of notes and bank deposits varies relatively little compared with our experience today, particularly if free markets permit arbitrage between different currencies acting as alternative gold substitutes. This is demonstrated in Figure 1 below of the oil price measured firstly in gold-grammes and currencies under the Bretton Woods agreement until 1971, and then gold-grammes and pure fiat currencies subsequently. The price stability, while economic actors accepted that the dollar was tied to gold and therefore a credible substitute along with the currencies fixed against it, was evident before the Bretton Woods agreement was suspended. Yet the quantity of currency and deposits in dollars and sterling expanded significantly during this period, more so for sterling which suffered a devaluation against the dollar in 1967. The figures for the euro before its creation in 2000 are for the Deutsche mark, which by following sounder money policies while it existed explains why the oil price in euros is recorded as not having risen as much as in sterling and the dollar. The message from oil’s price history is that volatility is in fiat currencies and not oil. In gold-grammes there has been remarkably little price variation. Therefore, the pricing relationship between a sound currency backed by gold differs substantially from the fiat world we live with today, and there has been very little change in monetarist theory to reflect this fact beyond mere technicalities. The lesson learned is that under a gold standard, an expansion of the currency and bank deposits is tolerated to a greater extent than under a pure fiat regime. But an expansion of the media of exchange can only be tolerated within limits, which is why first the London gold pool failed in the late 1960s and then the Bretton Woods system was abandoned in 1971. Under a gold standard, an expansion of the quantity of bank credit will be reflected in a currency’s purchasing power as the new media is absorbed into general circulation. But if note-issuing banks stand by their promise to offer coin conversion to allcomers that will be the extent of it and economic actors know it. This is the basis behind classical monetarism, which relates with Cantillon’s insight about how new money enters circulation, driving up prices in its wake. From John Stuart Mill to Irving Fisher, it has been mathematically expressed and refined into the equation of exchange. In his earlier writings, even Keynes understood monetarist theory, giving an adequate description of it in his Tract on Monetary Reform, written in 1923 when Germany’s papiermark was collapsing. But even under the gold standard, the monetarist school failed to incorporate the reality of the human factor in their equation of exchange, which has since become a glaring omission with respect to fiat currency regimes. Buyers and sellers of goods and services do not concern themselves with the general price level and velocity of circulation; they are only concerned with their immediate and foreseeable needs. And they are certainly unaware of changes in the quantity of currency and credit and the total value of past transactions in the economy. Consumers and businesses pay no attention to these elements of the fundamental monetarist equation. In essence, this is the disconnection between monetarism and catallactic reality. Instead, the equation of exchange is made to always balance by the spurious concept of velocity of circulation, a mental image of money engendering its own utility rather than being simply a medium of exchange between buyers and sellers of goods and services. And mathematicians who otherwise insist on the discipline of balance in their equations are seemingly prepared in the field of monetary analysis to introduce a variable whose function is only to ensure the equation always balances when without it, it does not. Besides monetarism failing to account for the human actions of consumers and businesses, over time there have been substantial shifts in how money is used for purposes not included in consumer transactions — the bedrock of consumer price indices and of gross domestic product. The financialisation of the US and other major economies together with the manufacture of consumer and intermediate goods being delegated to emerging economies have radically changed the profiles of the US and the other G7 economies. To assume, as the monetarists do, that the growth of money supply can be applied pro rata to consumer activity is a further error because much of the money supply does not relate to prices of goods and services. Furthermore, when cash and bank deposits are retained by consumers and businesses, for them they represent the true function of money, which is to act as liquidity for future purchases. They are not concerned with past transactions. Therefore, the ratio of cash and instant liquidity to anticipated consumption is what really matters in determining purchasing power and cannot be captured in the equation of exchange. Monetarists have stuck with an equation of exchange whose faults did not matter materially under proper gold standards. Besides ignoring the human element in the marketplace, their error is now to persist with the equation of exchange in a radically different fiat environment. The role of cash and credit reserves In their ignorance of the importance of the ratio between cash and credit relative to prospective purchases of goods and services, all macroeconomists commit a major blunder. It allows them to argue inaccurately that an economic slowdown triggered by a reduction in the growth of currency and credit will automatically lead to a fall in the rate of increase in the general price level. Having warned central banks earlier of the inflation problem with a degree of success, this is what now lies behind monetarists’ forecasts of a sharp slowdown in the rate of price increases. A more realistic approach is to try to understand the factors likely to affect the preferences of individuals within a market society. For individuals to be entirely static in their preferences is obviously untrue and they will respond as a cohort to the changing economic environment. It is individuals who set the purchasing power of money in the context of their need for a medium of exchange — no one else does. As Ludwig von Mises put it in his Critique of Interventionism: “Because everybody wishes to have a certain amount of cash, sometimes more sometimes less, there is a demand for money. Money is never simply in the economic system, in the national economy, it is never simply circulating. All the money available is always in the cash holdings of somebody. Every piece of money may one day — sometimes oftener, sometimes more seldom — pass from one man’s cash holding to another man’s ownership. At every moment it is owned by somebody and is a part of his cash holdings. The decisions of individuals regarding the magnitude of their cash holdings constitute the ultimate factor in the formation of purchasing power.” For clarification, we should add to this quotation from Mises that cash and deposits include those held by businesses and investors, an important factor in this age of financialisation. Aside from fluctuations in bank credit, units of currency are never destroyed. It is the marginal demand for cash that sets it value, its purchasing power. It therefore follows that a relatively minor shift in the average desire to hold cash and bank deposits will have a disproportionate effect on the currency’s purchasing power. Central bankers’ instincts work to maintain levels of bank credit, replacing it with central bank currency when necessary. Any sign of a contraction of bank credit, which would tend to support the currency’s purchasing power, is met with an interest rate reduction and/or increases in the note issue and in addition today increases of bank deposits on the central bank’s balance sheet through QE. The expansion of global central bank balance sheets in this way has been mostly continuous following the Lehman crisis in 2008 until March, since when they began to contract slightly in aggregate — hence the monetarists’ warnings of an impending slowdown in the rate of price inflation. But the slowdown in money supply growth is small beer compared with the total problem. The quantity of dollar notes and bank deposits has tripled since the Lehman crisis and GDP has risen by only two-thirds. GDP does not account for all economic transactions — trading in financial assets is excluded from GDP along with that of most used goods. Even allowing for these factors, the quantity of currency liquidity for economic actors must have increased to unaccustomed levels. This is further confirmed by the Fed’s reverse repo balances, which absorb excess liquidity of currency and credit currently standing at about $2 trillion, which is 9% of M2 broad money supply. In all Western jurisdictions, consuming populations are collectively seeing their cash and bank deposits buy less today than in the past. Furthermore, with prices rising at the fastest rate seen in decades, they see little or no interest compensation for retaining balances of currencies losing purchasing power. In these circumstances and given the immediate outlook for prices they are more likely to seek to decrease their cash and credit balances in favour of acquiring goods and services, even when they are not for immediate use. The conventional solution to this problem is the one deployed by Paul Volcker in 1980, which is to raise interest rates sufficiently to counter the desire of economic actors to reduce their spending liquidity. The snag is that an increase in the Fed funds rate today sufficient to restore faith in holding bank deposits would have to be to a level which would generate widespread bankruptcies, undermine government finances, and even threaten the solvency of central banks, thereby bringing forward an economic and banking crisis as a deliberate act of policy. The egregious errors of the neo-Keynesian cohort Unlike the monetarists, most neo-Keynesians have discarded entirely the link between the quantity of currency and credit and their purchasing power. Even today, it is neo-Keynesians who dominate monetary and economic policy-making, though perhaps monetarism will experience a policy revival. But for now, with respect to inflation money is rarely mentioned in central bank monetary committee reports. The errors in what has evolved from macroeconomic pseudo-science into beliefs based on a quicksand of assumptions are now so numerous that any hope that those in control know what they are doing must be rejected. The initial error was Keynes’s dismissal of Say’s law in his General Theory by literary legerdemain to invent macroeconomics, which somehow hovers over economic reality without being governed by the same factors. From it springs the belief that the state knows best with respect to economic affairs and that all the faults lie with markets. Every time belief in the state’s supremacy is threatened, the Keynesians have sought to supress the evidence offered by markets. Failure at a national level has been dealt with by extending policies internationally so that all the major central banks now work together in group-thinking unison to control markets. We have global monetary coordination at the Bank for International Settlements. And at the World Economic Forum which is trying to muscle in on the act we now see neo-Marxism emerge with the desire for all property and personal behaviour to be ceded to the state. As they say, “own nothing and you will be happy”. The consequence is that when neo-Keynesianism finally fails it will be a global crisis and there will be no escape from the consequences in one’s own jurisdiction. The current ideological position is that prices are formed by the interaction of supply and demand and little else. They make the same error as the monetarists in assuming that in any transaction the currency is constant and all the change in prices comes from the goods side: money is wholly objective, and all the price subjectivity is entirely in the goods. This was indeed true when money was sound and is still assumed to be the case for fiat currencies by all individuals at the point of transaction. But it ignores the question over a currency’s future purchasing power, which is what the science of economics should be about. The error leads to a black-and-white assumption that an economy is either growing or it is in recession — the definitions of which, like almost all things Keynesian, are somewhat fluid and indistinct. Adherents are guided religiously by imperfect statistics which cannot capture human action and whose construction is evolved to support the monetary and economic policies of the day. It is a case of Humpty Dumpty saying, “It means what I chose it to mean —neither more nor less” Lewis Caroll fans will know that Alice responded, “The question is whether you can make words mean so many different things”. To which Humpty replied,” The question is which is to be master —that’s all.” So long as the neo-Keynesians are Masters of Policy their imprecisions of definition will guarantee and magnify an eventual economic failure. The final policy crisis is approaching Whether a macroeconomist is a monetarist or neo-Keynesian, the reliance on statistics, mathematics, and belief in the supremacy of the state in economic and monetary affairs ill-equips them for dealing with an impending systemic and currency crisis. The monetarists argue that the slowdown in monetary growth means that the danger is now of a recession, not inflation. The neo-Keynesians believe that any threat to economic growth from the failures of free markets requires further stimulation. The measure everyone uses is growth in gross domestic product, which only reflects the quantity of currency and credit applied to transactions included in the statistic. It tells us nothing about why currency and credit is used. Monetary growth is not economic progress, which is what increases a nation’s wealth. Instead, self-serving statistics cover up the transfer of wealth from the producers in an economy to the unproductive state and its interests through excessive taxation and currency debasement, leaving the entire nation, including the state itself eventually, worse off. For this reason, attempts to increase economic growth merely worsen the situation, beyond the immediate apparent benefits. There will come a point when the public wakes up to the illusion of monetary debasement. Until recently, there has been little evidence of this awareness, which is why the monetarists have been broadly correct about the price effects of the rapid expansion of currency and credit in recent years. But as discussed above, the expansion of currency and bank deposits has been substantially greater than the increase in GDP, which despite its direction into financial speculation and other activities outside GDP has led to an accumulation of over $2 trillion of excess liquidity no one wants in US dollar reverse repos at the Fed. The growth in the level of personal liquidity and credit available explains why the increase in the general price level for goods and services has lagged the growth of currency and deposits, because at the margin since the Lehman crisis the public, including businesses and financial entities, has been accumulating additional liquidity instead of buying goods. This accelerated during covid lockdowns to be subsequently released in a wave of excess demand, fuelling a sharp rise in the general level of prices, not anticipated by the monetary authorities who immediately dismissed the rise as transient. The build-up of liquidity and its subsequent release into purchases of goods is reflected in the savings rate for the US shown in Figure 2 below. The personal saving rate does not isolate from the total the accumulating level of spending liquidity as opposed to that allocated for investment. The underlying level of personal liquidity will have accumulated over time as a part of total personal savings in line with the growth of currency and bank deposits since the Lehman crisis. The restrictions on spending behaviour during lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 exacerbated the situation, forcing a degree of liquidity reduction which drove the general level of prices significantly higher. Profits and losses resulting from dealing in financial assets and cryptocurrencies are not included in the personal savings rate statistics either. This matters to the extent that bank credit is used to leverage investment. Nor is the accumulation of cash in corporations and financial entities, which are a significant factor. But whatever the level of it, there can be little doubt that the levels of liquidity held by economic actors are unaccustomedly high. The accumulation of reverse repos representing unwanted liquidity informs us that the public, including businesses, are so sated with excess liquidity that they may already be trying to reduce it, particularly if they expect further increases in prices. In that event they will almost certainly bring forward future purchases to alter the relationship between personal liquidity and goods. It is a situation in America which is edging towards a crack-up boom. A crack-up boom occurs when the public as a cohort attempts to reduce the overall level of its currency and deposits in favour of goods towards a final point of rejecting the currency entirely. So far, economic history has recorded only one version, which is when after a period of accelerating debasement of a fiat currency the public finally wakes up to the certainty that a currency is becoming worthless and all hope that it might somehow survive as a medium of exchange must be abandoned. To this, perhaps we can add another: the consequences of a collapse of the world’s major monetary institutions in unison. How excess liquidity is likely to play out We have established beyond reasonable doubt that the US economy is awash with personal liquidity. And if one man disposes of his liquidity to another in a transaction the currency and bank deposit still exists. But aggregate personal liquidity can be reduced by the contraction of bank credit. As interest rates rise, thereby exposing malinvestments, the banks will be quick to protect themselves by withdrawing credit. As originally described by Irving Fisher, a contraction of bank credit risks triggering a self-feeding liquidation of loan collateral. Initially, we can expect central banks to counter this contraction by redoubling efforts to suppress bond yields, reinstitute more aggressive QE, and standing ready to bail out banks. These are all measures which are in the central banker’s instruction manual. But the conditions leading to a crack-up boom appear to be already developing despite the increasing likelihood of contracting bank credit. The deteriorating outlook for bank credit and the impact on highly leveraged banks, particularly in Japan and the Eurozone, is likely to accelerate the flight out of bank deposits to — where? Regulators have deliberately reduced access to currency cash so a bank depositor can only dispose of larger sums by transferring them to someone else. Before an initial rise in interest rates began to undermine financial asset values, a transfer of a bank deposit to a seller of a financial asset was a viable alternative. That is now an increasingly unattractive option due to the changed interest rate environment. Consequently, the principal alternative to holding bank deposits is to acquire physical assets and consumer items for future use. But even that assumes an overall stability in the public’s collective willingness to hold bank deposits, which without a significant rise in interest rates is unlikely to be the case. The reluctance of a potential seller to increase his bank deposits is already being reflected in prices for big ticket items, such as motor cars, residential property, fine and not-so-fine art, and an increasing selection of second-hand goods. This is not an environment that will respond positively to yet more currency debasement and interest rate suppression as the monetary authorities struggle to maintain control over markets. The global financial bubble is already beginning to implode, and the central banks which have accumulated large portfolios through quantitative easing are descending into negative equity. Only this week, the US Fed announced that it has unrealised portfolio losses of $330bn against equity of only $50bn. The Fed can cover this discrepancy if it is permitted by the US Treasury to revalue its gold note to current market prices – but further rises in bond yields will rapidly wipe even that out. Other central banks do not have this leeway, and in the cases of the ECB and the Bank of Japan, they are invested in considerably longer average bond maturities, which means that as interest rates rise their unrealised losses will be magnified. So, the major central banks are insolvent or close to it and will themselves have to be recapitalised. At the same time, they will be required to backstop a rapidly deteriorating economic situation. And being run by executives whose economic advisers do not understand both economics nor money itself, it all amounts to a recipe for a final cock-up crack-up boom as economic actors seek to protect themselves. As the situation unfolds and economic actors become aware of the true inadequacies of bureaucratic group-thinking central bankers, the descent into the ultimate collapse of fiat currencies could be swift. It is now the only way in which all that excess faux liquidity can be expunged. Tyler Durden Sat, 06/04/2022 - 13:30.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJun 4th, 2022

28 historical fiction books that will whisk you away to a different world

Explore the best historical fiction books, from new releases to recent classics like "Pachinko" and "Where the Crawdads Sing." Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Some of the best historical fiction books of all time include "The Vanishing Half," "Pachinko," "The Nightingale," "Where the Crawdads Sing," and "The Underground Railroad."Amazon; Rachel Mendelson/Insider Historical fiction books transport us through time. They captivate readers and illuminate an important moment in history. Our recommendations range from historical fiction classics to new releases. Books can transport us across galaxies and mythical lands. With historical fiction books in particular, we can be taken through time by characters who illuminate real events and stories that demand to be told. Our favorite historical fiction novels may highlight the trials of refugees in the early 1900s or a familial tale that stretches generations, but they all use compelling characters and memorable plots to bring the past to life.  To create this list of recommendations, we looked at readers' favorite historical fiction books of all time, from new titles on bestseller lists to classics that are still receiving rave reviews on Goodreads. So whether you want to explore 12th-century England or a Pulitzer Prize-winning story about the underground railroad, here are some of the best historical fiction books to read in 2022.The 28 best historical fiction books of all time:A historical fiction book about books, World War II, and murderAmazon"The Diamond Eye" by Kate Quinn, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.19Known for her bestseller "The Rose Code," Quinn's latest historical fiction read is about a bookworm name Mila Pavlichenko who becomes World War II's deadliest sniper when she's pulled from her life and thrust onto the battlefield. Torn once again from her world after her 300th kill, Mila is sent on a goodwill tour in America where an old foe and a new enemy bring the battlefield and haunting demons across the world for the deadliest battle of Mila's life. A historical fiction read that serves as a lens for forced sterilizationBookshop"Take My Hand" by Dolen Perkins-Valdez, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $18.90Civil Townsend is fresh out of nursing school in 1973 when her new job at the local family planning clinic introduces her to the Williams sisters who, at ages 11 and 13, have their lives irrevocably changed forever. Based on the true horror of forced sterilization of poor Black people and the case of Mary Alice and Minnie Lee Relf, "Take My Hand" is a moving and gripping novel that not only illuminates real events but highlights the importance of even one voice in the face of injustice. A historical fiction story within a storyAmazon"Trust" by Hernan Diaz, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $25.20All of New York seems to have read "Bonds," a 1938 novel about the mysterious wealth of Benjamin and Helen Rask in the 1920s, though this isn't the only version of the story. A book within a book, "Trust" tells a story where fact is interwoven with fiction, allowing the reader to unravel the truth as money, power, and what the characters want to believe about themselves manipulates the truth.A historical fiction book about separated and reconnected siblingsAmazon"We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies" by Tsering Yangzom Lama, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $24.30Lhamo and Tenkyi are sisters who have just survived a perilous journey across the Himalayas to a refugee camp on the border of Nepal as China invaded Tibet in 1959, though the trip left them orphaned. Decades later, the sisters are separated but connected through Lhamo's daughter, who finds a statue in a collector's vault that was once from her mother's village, carved in the image of a nameless saint and known for vanishing and reappearing in times of need.A historical fiction critique on sexism in the science industryAmazon"Lessons in Chemistry" by Bonnie Garmus, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $18.48In 1960s California, Elizabeth Zott's career as a chemist in a male-dominated science industry takes a sharp turn when she finds herself the star of America's favorite cooking show. With an unusual and revolutionary approach to cooking, Elizabeth isn't just teaching women a new way to cook — she's teaching them how to defy the status quo in this delightful and hilarious new historical fiction read.  A historical fiction story that's part coming-of-age and part murder mysteryAmazon"Where The Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.98 In this coming-of-age story driven by the mystery of a possible murder, Kya Clark is a young woman with only one day of schooling who's been surviving alone in the marsh since she was seven, earning herself the nickname "Marsh Girl." When a popular boy is found dead, Kya is an immediate suspect. This novel shows both the beauty of the natural world and the violence of pain, shifting between Kya's resilient life on the marsh and the tantalizing murder mystery. A multi-generational historical fiction story of a Korean family's migration to JapanAmazon"Pachinko" by Min Jin Lee, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.99 This National Book Award finalist takes place in the early 1900s Korea where readers meet Sunja, a teenage girl who falls in love with a wealthy stranger who promises her the world. When she discovers that he's married and she's pregnant, Sunja must instead accept a proposal from a minister on his way to Japan, rejecting the powerful father of her son in the process. This read contains a lot of fascinating history and follows four generations of a Korean family through Japanese colonization, war, and the divide of North and South Korea.A historical fiction book about women’s bravery during World War IIAmazon"The Nightingale" by Kristin Hannah, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $8.18"The Nightingale" takes place in France and begins just before the Nazi invasion in 1939. It's the story of unbreakable resolve and an untold perspective of World War II, following two sisters as one trying to keep her daughter safe as a German captain claims her home, while the other risks her life by joining the resistance. Despite being over 400 pages, it's a fast read that brought me to tears on more than one occasion and is my personal favorite historical fiction book.An intertwining historical fiction tale of twin sistersAmazon"The Vanishing Half" by Brit Bennett, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $18.65 "The Vanishing Half" is a historical fiction novel about twin sisters who grew up to live very different lives. At 16, the Vignes twins run away together from their small, Black town to later separate and become starkly different women whose fates still manage to intersect through their children. Years later, one sister once again lives in their hometown with her daughter, while the other lives with her white husband, quietly passing as a white woman. Told from the 1950s to the 1990s, this is a generational story of identity, community, and family that was widely considered one of the best books of 2020.An award-winning historical fiction classicAmazon"Beloved" by Toni Morrison, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.31 Winner of the 1988 Pulitzer Prize, Toni Morrison's "Beloved" is a devastating and unflinching story of slavery and survival. Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio. Yet, 18 years later, she's still tormented by her memories of the farm and the ones she left behind. Now, her home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, whose tombstone is engraved with only "Beloved." This story is an emotional and brutal tale of the complex legacy of slavery.A historical fiction read about love and relationships between womenAmazon"Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" by Lisa See, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.19With flowing prose that easily transports readers to 19th century China, Lisa See shows how the power of friendship can help us endure life's greatest challenges. Lily and Snow Flower were paired as emotional matches when they were seven years old, communicating with each other in "nu shu" or women's writing, a secret code women used to communicate despite seclusion. Through the years, Lily and Snow Flower share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments through messages sent on fans, outlining the agony of foot-binding, the joys of motherhood, and their thoughts on their arranged marriages.A Holocaust historical fiction novel with an original narratorAmazon"The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $6.99 Set in 1939 Nazi Germany, Liesel is a foster girl living outside of Munich who begins to steal books after finding "The Gravedigger's Handbook" partially buried by her brother's grave. As she falls in love with reading, the country around her descends deeper into war. When her foster family hides a Jewish man in their basement, Liesel's understanding of the death and danger surrounding her grows as her exterior world shrinks. Narrated by Death, this is an intense and emotional World War II story as Liesel steals books from wherever she can — including Nazi book burnings.A heart-racing historical fiction story about escaping slaveryAmazon"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.25 Cora is an enslaved young girl in Georgia, an outcast who knows she must escape before she reaches womanhood and faces even greater horrors. When Cora and her new friend decide to flee through the Underground Railroad, they soon find they're being hunted. The pair travels from state to state, risking their lives for the chance of freedom. Colson Whitehead's ability to instill in readers the terror that Cora feelsis astounding, making it no surprise this extraordinary title won the National Book Award in 2016 and the Pulitzer Prize in 2017.A heartbreaking historical fiction book about friendshipAmazon"The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.50 Set in Afghanistan from 1963-2001, this book tells the story of Amir, a wealthy young boy, and his best friend Hassan, the son of his father's servant. Like brothers, the boys spend their days flying kites to escape the difficulties of their lives, until a devastating act changes their relationship forever. This is a moving tale of friendship, guilt, and redemption that follows the real-world histories of military intervention and the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan while keeping the relationships between Amir, his father, and Hassan in the foreground.A lyrical historical fiction bookAmazon"The Water Dancer" by Ta-Nehisi Coates, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $12.31 "The Water Dancer" is a historical fiction novel that combines elements of magical realism in an engaging and moving story of memory, family, and slavery. Hiram Walker is the enslaved Black son of a plantation owner who has the ability to remember everything except his mother, taken and sold by his father when Hiram was only nine. After Hiram has a near-death experience, he decides he must escape the plantation and rescue his family in this dramatic and heart-racing journey. A historical fiction novel about an empowered henna artistAmazon"The Henna Artist" by Alka Joshiavailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.98 "The Henna Artist" is an immersive read that tells the stories of many women in Jaipur in the 1950s. At only 17, Lakshmi is the most highly sought-after henna artist in Jaipur, having recently escaped her abusive marriage. While creating beautiful henna for her wealthy clients, she becomes a confidant to many women, offering wise advice while avoiding gossip. One day, Lakshmi is confronted by her husband, who brings her a young sister she didn't know she had. With her secure and independent life in jeopardy, Lakshmi must care for her teenage sister on her journey to a life she never knew she wanted.  A familial historical fiction book that spans centuriesAmazon"Homegoing" by Yaa Ghasi, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $8.82 "Homegoing" is a multi-generational story that spans 300 years and is beloved by readers for the unforgettable forces that shape families on opposite sides of the world. In 18th century Ghana, two half-sisters are born in different villages, each unaware of the other's existence. One is married off into wealth, while the other is imprisoned in the dungeons of her sister's castle, soon sold into the slave trade and raised in American slavery. This tale of legacy follows the descendents of each sister through centuries of colonization, migration, and war. A queer historical fiction book set in UruguayAmazon"Cantoras" by Caroline De Robertis, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.29In 1977, Uruguay was ruled by an authoritarian military dictatorship under which homosexuality was not just a crime, but punishable by unspeakable means. Despite the dangers, five cantoras (women who sing) find each other through a friendship that blooms to love, family, and freedom. This novel is a passionate celebration of the safety and sanctuary of found families that begins with a trip to an isolated cape. A lyrical, Indigenous historical fiction novelAmazon"Where the Dead Sit Talking" by Brandon Hobson, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.69 "Where the Dead Sit Talking" is an emotional and authentic coming-of-age story featuring Sequoyah, who is placed in foster care after his single mother is jailed on drug charges. Set in 1980s Oklahoma, Sequoyah is a 15-year-old Cherokee boy and a survivor of childhood trauma and abuse. He quickly bonds with another Indigenous foster girl named Rosemary, sharing their past pains and precarious present in this award-winning, profound novel of suffering and strength.A historical fiction story of love and redemptionAmazon"The Color Purple" by Alice Walker, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.99The winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, this historical fiction book is about Celie and Nettie, two sisters who were separated as girls yet connect through letters spanning 20 years. This book brings to light the extent of abuse women of color have often faced and been expected to quietly endure — a devastating and emotional read about the resiliency of the human spirit and the persistent bond of sisterhood.A historical fiction story about spiritual growthAmazon"The Samurai's Garden" by Gail Tsukiyama, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.19This historical fiction book is about the emotional and spiritual journey of a young Chinese painter named Stephen, set against the backdrop of the Japanese invasion of China in the late 1930s. When Stephen is sent to his family's coastal home to recover from tuberculosis, he meets four new people, including Matsu — a samurai of the soul who's dedicated himself to living a generous and nurturing life and helps Stephen gain physical, mental, and spiritual strength as the novel progresses.A historical fiction novel that follows a family over 200 yearsAmazon"The House of the Spirits" by Isabel Allendeavailable at Amazon and Bookshop, from $12.79 Spanning three generations of a family in Chile, "The House of the Spirits" incorporates magical realism into an epic narrative that weaves joy, love, and fate through a history of rich culture and political unrest. Beginning just after World War I, this novel follows the women of the Trueba family whose gifts, triumphs, and tragedies are reflected in each generation of beautiful and meticulously crafted characters.An engrossing historical fiction journey in 12th century EnglandAmazon"The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $7Ken Follett is most well-known as a bestselling thriller writer, so it's no surprise this hugely popular historical fiction novel has all the suspense, passion, and intricacies for which he's revered. Set in 12th century England, this medieval story of morality, betrayal, and love is about a monk who is driven to build a Gothic cathedral so great it will dawn a new age. Told with vivid detail, "The Pillars of the Earth" brings an incredible cast of characters and their hardships to life.A historical fiction novel interwoven with magical realismAmazon"The Night Tiger" by Yangsze Choo, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.59 "The Night Tiger" is a historical fiction read that incorporates elements of magical realism, ancient superstition, and mystery to create a lush and exhilarating coming-of-age story set in 1930s Malaysia. Rin is a young Chinese houseboy and Ji Lin is an apprentice dressmaker, their paths unlikely to cross until their journeys intertwine over a severed finger. Rin has 49 days to reunite his master's missing finger with his body, lest his soul roams the earth. One night, Ji Lin's dance partner leaves her a severed finger. Convinced it's bad luck, she sets out to return it to its owner.A historical fiction retelling of Indigenous heroesAmazon"A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two" by Joseph Bruchac, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $6.73 The Navajo Code Talkers were an instrumental group of native men who used their language to code messages during World War II, saving countless American lives. In this fictionalized retelling, Ned Begay is a teenage Navajo boy who becomes a code talker through rigorous Marine Corps training, fighting through some of the war's most brutal battles. While the novel highlights the discrimination the Navajo men faced, the story is also a celebration of Navajo culture and the code-talker heroes of World War II.An emotionally trying historical fiction bookAmazon"The Darkest Child" by Delores Phillips, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.99 Set in 1958 Georgia, Tangy Mae is 13 years old and one of 10 children, the darkest-skinned of her siblings and dubbed the ugliest by her light-skinned mother. The siblings all suffer horrific emotional and physical abuse by their mother, so when Tangy Mae is offered a spot in a nearby high school looking to assemble its first integrated class, she knows how life-changing yet impossible escaping her mother may prove to be.A historical fiction read that begins in a remote village in ChinaAmazon"The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane" by Lisa See, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $12.91 Li-yan is raised in a remote mountain village where the lives of those in the community revolve around tradition, ritual, and tea farming. When a stranger arrives in the first automobile the villagers have ever seen, it dawns a modern awakening for the community and some begin to reject its customs and traditions. When Li-yan has a child out of wedlock, she brings the baby to an orphanage and leaves her village in search of an education and city life while her daughter is raised in California by her adoptive parents in this story of heritage, familial bonds, and sacrifice.A vibrant historical fiction story set during the Civil WarAmazon"Gone with the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $3.95This classic historical fiction novel was originally published in 1936 but is set in Georgia in 1861 during the Civil War. The story focuses on Scarlett O'Hara, the spoiled daughter of a wealthy plantation owner whose life is forever changed by the Civil War. This is an intense book that captures the depth of transformation during the war, known for the manipulative and selfish ways of the unlikeable main character. "Gone with the Wind" won a Pulitzer Prize in 1937 and is widely considered a great American novel.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 31st, 2022