Remember the movie, Jaws? Where that dandy theme rumbles as you can almost see the mega shark? Cue that up on the hi-fi because, brothers and sisters, the world has changed overnight.
BRICs Thrown in WW III
Specifically, the World (and drivers for WW III) became clear a couple of days ago when the story China’s central bank, BIS set up renminbi liquidity arrangement crossed.
Today, we’re tracking the ripples as media are beginning to connect the Big Dots on this: How China plans to counter Dollar’s Reserve Currency status using Yuan pool.
Hegemony or Gangland Murder?
The mainstream (thus far) has not caught on to the simple notion we’ve been planning on since 2001. That’s when a colleague and I figured out there are absolute limits to the debt-loading of a fiat (paper) currency. That that debt loaded buck in your wallet or purse. It’s worth just over 3% of what it would buy in 1913.
See, when a currency is NEW it has about zero accumulated debt. This is why a one-dollar steak dinner with all the fixings and a sharp knife even existed when the Fed was created in the depths of the winter congress back in 1913.
Sad to report, that’s really when – in our simplistic view – the fuse was lit.
As the accumulated national debt is loaded into “money” the purchasing power declines. More debt? Less value is retained by money.
To be sure, the one-dollar steak which had risen to $1.79 in 1926, and which was still holding $1.74 when the bottom fell out of the economy in 1929, had fallen to just $1.31 by 1933. $1.29 in 1935.
Even more important, however, was that massive economic damage had been wrought on the country: In World War I, more than 100,000 Americans were killed. It was a brutal slugfest in the trenches. More than 23 million were injured by some accounts.
I could cite minutia like this all day, but our 2001 work got to the idea that the theory-driven maximum duration of currency debasement should be 83.5 years, plus or minus election jiggering. Surprising to both of us was that the Dollar continues as strong as it has in recent times.
Unless of Course…
Unless we consider that so many dead, wounded, and angry Bonus Army veterans were demolished by the Depression that the 1913 “incept date” was changed up t0 a later date, like 1935. That was the Depression bargain window for steak dinners and consumer goods.
This is a worrisome concept to consider. Because that means the “run of the dollar” could have lasted until 2018.5.
Still, the band on the Titanic has played on; fueled by “free money” as interest rates were by then (2018) in freefall. A long-term view of the 10-year Treasury reveals that indeed rates bottomed – temporarily – in 2016. Dropped to around 1.488%.
But then, a funny thing happened: Rates began to rise and too quickly. That was promptly put to bed – and an even lower wash-out low interest in the range of 0.653 percent were ushed in by the release of Covid-19. It’s all rather graceful and all more than scary.
Economics? War by Other Means
This bottoming of interest rates has been played out on multiple levels.
The “first world” countries, led by the United States, used this (artificially thanks to Covid) extended interest rate bottom to rollover as much of their national debt to lower interest rate, longer duration bonds. The public was cared-for with “free money” which may be thought of as a kind of Works Progress Administration issue. Except it was via vaccines and shut ins.
the problem has evolved post-Covid however. There weren’t enough people willing to buy the American story at the effective lower bound of rates. So, we ended up buying our own bonds through the Fed balance sheet expansion.
Whee! Our “music on the Titanic” has played on continuously with only a change of “band leaders” from that firebrand Trump to the old-style “conductor of status quo.” Neither matter to Big Money.
In the global next tier down, a new attack on the U.S. dollar began solidifying this week with the BIS creating a Renminbi journal. This provides for international trade settlement using Chinese money and is crucial to the BRICs countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China).
These countries – not being stupid enough to export their manufacturing – remain the “Up and Comers” in the world. With sunset on American independence moving along both on domestic personal freedoms limitations, and also in economic independence, the U.S. continues into a “box canyon.” As the walls of this canyon squeeze in on us, fewer interested buyers of American “paper” assets will appear. We can’t make our own much-touted tech, our critical chips are in shooting range of China and North Korea, and the Buyed ’em administration can’t pass a lunch bill while the Washington Witch Trials drag out.
Which leaves only a major decline in lifestyles ahead as the powerful forces of economic determinism require higher tax rates and disassembly of the American Consumption Machine. It was fun while it lasted, though, wasn’t it?
Second World players (Brazil and India) are in good field position to table actual increases in their citizen’s experienced Quality of Life (QoL). Because by moving out of the dollar game – where inflation is coming like the Grimm Reaper – the fairytale of U.S. Dollar hegemony (dominance) will fade. Very short-term in the rate rise, bonds will be cheaper, and our purchasing power will hold. But it will end all too soon.
Our outlook is that as tax rates go up and disposable real purchasing power in America declines (you go shopping, right?), the excess production overseas (which we stupidly provided by exporting whole factories from the rust belt) will be sucked-up by their own populations which are on the way up. Thus, we see BRIC Money as potentially more solid than our own debt-loaded Buck.
Digital Tulip Wilt
One other area where the U.S. has been flanked is in digital tulips. Because in Russia reports one site: “…All cryptocurrency-to-fiat transactions must be conducted through bank accounts, and users must go through know-your-customer (KYC) checks with both banks and cryptocurrency exchanges.”
In China? “Crypto is fully banned in China and 8 other countries.”
India – the “i” in BRICs – is also wringing out the tulips, according to one site we checked: “All crypto (or virtual digital asset) gains will be taxed effective April 1, 2023, and the 1% TDS will come into effect as of July 1. However, on Feb. 3, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) announced crypto transactions conducted between 2021 and April 2022 will also be subject to this new tax.” Retroactive taxation? You bet.
No government stands without absolute control of its money. Are we the only people to read history?
Which leaves only Brazil: And in April Brazil passes bill to regulate cryptocurrencies.
U.S. Behind the 8-Ball
All these factors bring us to this morning’s International Trade figures. As I explained in the Monday report, imports are down two months running through the Port of Los Angeles this year (April and May inbound).
In addition to this, the Association of American Railroads tells us:
“For the first 24 weeks of 2022, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 5,529,499 carloads, up 0.02 percent from the same point last year; and 6,349,485 intermodal units, down 6.3 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 24 weeks of 2022 was 11,878,984 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 3.5 percent compared to last year.”
Could be worse, I suppose; Mexico’s rail traffic is down more than 15%.
From here – in our view – it only gets worse for many years to come. The Dollar will perhaps reach momentary parity with Europe, but as we’ve told you before, Europe is its own economic septic tank. That’s an ugly cauldron of megalomaniacal power-hungry, war-starting, bankster class stooges who have also made up a fiat nightmare with the Euro. Gnomes of Zurich who schooled us talk paper but stack gold.
The U.S. and Europe may be able to continue their “leadership charade” by selling each-other’s paper assets back and forth. But far be it from us to suggest how to extend play of this totally corrupt game. Not my Treasury, not our print shop.
Two Global Currencies are headed into War. China and Russia (along with India and Brazil) in one New World Order. Collapsing Europe, dragged into war and the hollowed-out US Dollar victims on the other. What could go wrong?
With this cheery perspective, let’s get down to data, shall we?
Before I rip open the envelope, just remember that these trade figures are tilted. They are based on dollars. The US is in a pop of dollar strength (*we’re paying more interest on our debt money).
Imagine the same number of overseas widgets coming in. But twice as much money bidding for them.
See what happens? Dollarized Trade figures DOUBLE. Which is why container counting of Twenty -foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) down at the docks is a much cleaner methodology.
With that warning in hand:
Advance International Trade in Goods
The international trade deficit was $104.3 billion in May, down $2.4 billion from $106.7 billion in April. Exports of goods for May were $176.6 billion, $2.0 billion more than April exports. Imports of goods for May were $280.9 billion, $0.4 billion less than April imports.
Strong Dollar makes the deficit smaller – for now. We simply pay less in this window. When it slams shut? BIG trouble.
But there is another problem lurking – and that is retail inventory build. People have a sense that bad juju is ahead so they may be pulling in their horns even before more (of Biden’s wrongheaded) economic impacts settle in.
Advance Wholesale Inventories
Wholesale inventories for May, adjusted for seasonal variations and trading day differences, but not for price changes, were estimated at an end-of-month level of $880.6 billion, up 2.0 percent (±0.2 percent) from April 2022, and were up 25.0 percent (±1.4 percent) from May 2021. The March 2022 to April 2022 percentage change was revised from up 2.2 percent (±0.2 percent) to up 2.3 percent (±0.4 percent).
With today’s figures and with some actuals for May out of the SoCal ports, you can visualize the “political reality gap” which distractions like the 50-year running BS over Roe versus Re-election keep most people from thinking about.
Shotgun News Analytics
Requires no particular aim – which suits us fine.
Are you still working? Maybe a click to Should You Claim Social Security Early Due to Benefit Cuts? | The Motley Fool is worth your time. Remember, the party line is Social Security will still be able to pay 76% of current benefits just based on current tax receipts even in 2035. Which totally ignores the reality that we’re facing huge inflation till we get to the “fresh outta money” point.
And if there’s crappy employment (since we could be in an economic depression by then) maybe 50% of current benefits on an inflation-adjusted basis is more reasonable. Talk to your financial planner, though a lot of them are still drinking the Kool-Aid. (Normalcy bias, selling the highest commission investment products and so forth. Which is all fine, but do you have a house/place to live that’s free and clear?)
Tired of Trump-Bashing? How about Rudy-bashing? Five Colleges Won’t Rescind Rudy Giuliani’s Honorary Degrees. Toss in pronoun silliness and the RvW pig with lipstick and we’d have the makings of a profitable media empire.
Back at the Witch Trials, meantime: Tuesday’s surprise Jan. 6 hearing comes with a bold claim. Same kind of headline-mongering democrap we heard about “Russian collusion with Trump” isn’t it? (I mean, refried and all.)
Let’s all spend more on war! G-7 summit ends with pledge to help Ukraine ‘as long as necessary’.
Air-Based Rally still on. But! Fund manager: Investors should learn from past bear markets.
File under Happy-Talk: Europe’s central bank ready to ‘stamp out’ surging inflation. Sure, you bet. Umbrella Academy finance?
All in the name of science, mind you: We stumbled on this in our wide-ranging research this week: Pharmacokinetics of Cannabidiol Following Intranasal, Intrarectal, and Oral Administration in Healthy Dogs. Poochie duchy research deluxe? No. Zeus the cat demands a parallel feline study – says it could be, um, 50 shades of interesting.
Far more useful medical note: Flu shots linked to 40-percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s onset – Study Finds.
ATR: Tastes of Youth
From the old reporter’s notebook:
So, there was this place in Seattle, years ago, called King’s Cafe. I’m not the only one to rave about the quality of the food there. Here’s another journo’s take on the place. Closing time at the International District’s King Cafe.
During much of my news reporting time – when there wasn’t often time to eat while covering busy press conferences and the usual urban mayhem of a bit city – two places ended up as favorites.
The “321 Cafe” across from the Public Safety Building (a/k/a the “cop shop”). A fresh Gai’s Bakery French loaf with perfect rare roast beef -piled high, thinly sliced onion, a bit of lettuce, ‘maters, and a schmear of mayo. Hard to beat that while thumbing through MIR reports (miscellaneous incident reports) in the press room. While trading jabs with the dicks who came by for the fresher coffee and cuter office help. (Oh Jesus, can I even write this anymore without the threat of jail time or Correctness terrorism?)
King’s Cafe was different.
I’d usually just have a bowl of soup. Not just ANY soup. The “Lunch Special won ton soup” and a big bowl of Hong Kong Beef Noodles.
The waiter (Greg something) was always there with occasional things to talk about. But mainly lightning-fast service.
This past week a strange craving came over me for the won ton soup. Finally – 50-years after the fact – I’ve come up with an almost taste-alike that can be built almost anywhere.
Goes like this:
One package Lipton Chicken Noodle soup. The kind where you dump the mix into 3 cups of boiling water. Except for this, use 3 1/2 cups. Hard rolling boil.
Into this, put in a full cup (or more) of freshly chopped Bok Choi. Chinese cabbage will work, but not nearly as well. The overtones of the bok choi matter hugely.
Also have ready 3-4 precooked link sausage. Not the maple flavored, though. Just regular. Sliced into 1/8th to 1/4-inch chunks.
Now comes the magic: About 3/4ths of a tablespoon of hoisin sauce. And while you’re at it, a half teaspoon of soy (or Tamari – which is gluten-free soy) sauce. A splash of mirin (Japanese cooking wine).
Then – importantly – a half teaspoon of oyster sauce.
A heavy half cup of very thinly sliced fresh mushrooms, too. Tiniest shake of cayenne you can manage is optional. Another option is a handful of (thawed) tiny frozen salad shrimp (cleaned and deveined).
Boil it all for about 5-minutes. Then turn off heat and adjust the seasoning. I usually end up with closer to a teaspoon of hoisin being used and a similar size oyster sauce dollop. Occasionally, three drops of fresh ginger juice, too.
Wait 5 to 7 minutes to cool just a bit.
What you get for all this, dialed into your own (now burned) tongue, will be a somewhat close approximation of the flavor of the King’s Cafe soup.
Served with a half-pound of Chinese BBQ pork, there is nothing finer for a winter hot lunch. If it’s an accompaniment to something else, then 4-5 slices of REAL BBQ pork go into the soup.
The tooth of this, is nowhere near original, though. See, the sausage and the shrimp were rolled up in the won ton wrappers. This just gets you in the ballpark of the taste.
With a three-day weekend coming up, we like to spend a bit more focus than usual on food around here, and what fun is a holiday if you can’t eat, drink, and be merry?
A small (half liter) of Ozeki hot sake is a good pairing. But don’t expect to drive (or get much else done) for the rest of the afternoon, though.
Now it’s time to go add ingredients to the Thursday shopping run. You’ll want that chore done in advance of Friday when the smart people stock up, and before Saturday when the planning-impaired are out.
Write when you get full,