What do you do when that stimulus money runs out? You whip out the credit card.
Consumer debt was up 10% in May, according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve, and we saw a big jump in credit card balances for the first time since February 2020.
The markets have obsessed over what the Fed is saying while almost completely ignoring what it’s actually doing.
After the June FOMC meeting, markets reacted to the hint that the Fed might start raising interest rates in 2023 instead of 2024. But of course, it didn’t move rates up from zero. And while the Fed apparently talked about talking about tapering its quantitative easing bond-buying program, it continues to expand its balance sheet at a torrid pace.
The US government continues to borrow money at a frenetic pace in order to cover its massive spending spree. It runs huge deficits month after month and there is more spending coming down the pike. The national debt is over $28 trillion and it is about to begin surging upward again. But with the exception of a few contrarians, most people don’t worry about the national debt. The conventional wisdom seems to be that since none of the doomsday predictions about skyrocketing debt haven’t come to pass, there’s nothing to worry about.
Of course, nothing is a problem until it is. And even if the borrowing and spending don’t ultimately precipitate a crisis, it is undermining the economy. The bottom line is more debt means less growth.
Is inflation “transitory,” the result of a quickly recovering post-pandemic economy as Jerome Powell insists? Or is it a long-term phenomenon resulting from loose monetary policy that’s not about to abate anytime soon? Peter Schiff recently participated in the “great inflation debate” on RT’s Cross Talk with Peter Lavelle, along with American Institute for Economic Research economist Pete Earle and Renaissance Capital economist Sofia Donets.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen did a big flip-flop this week. Her comments and her subsequent attempt to walk them back were telling. She accidentally revealed the ugly truth about inflation and the central bank’s ability to deal with it. In this episode of the Friday Gold Wrap, host Mike Maharrey takes Yellen to task. He also talks about the recent rally in both gold and silver.
Every time the economy gets into trouble, governments and central banks react the same way – they cut interest rates and loosen monetary policy to stimulate borrowing and spending. The idea is that the “stimulus” will increase demand and pull the economy out of trouble. But there is a dark side to this policy – debt. And debt is slowly poisoning the economy.
We’ve talked extensively about the growing levels of debt in the economy. The national debt recently eclipsed $28 trillion. Corporate debt was already skyrocketing prior to the pandemic. All of this is driven by loose Federal Reserve monetary policy designed to drive borrowing. And people wonder why Peter Schiff insists the Fed can’t actually let interest rates rise to fight inflation.
As economist Doug French highlighted, there’s another segment of the economy buried in debt – the commercial real estate market. The problem is compounded by the fact that the value of commercial real estate is falling like a rock thanks to a shift toward work-at-home and the brick-and-mortar retail apocalypse. In a nutshell, the commercial real estate market is plagued by too much debt and not enough assets.
On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell called for a “society-wide” commitment to reaching full employment, calling for “contributions from across government and the private sector.” He said getting people back to work would require “continued support from both near-term policy and longer-run investments.” He also dismissed concerns about debt saying the focus needs to be on the economy’s immediate needs. As Peter Schiff put it in his podcast, Powell handed the US Treasury a blank check.
This year will mark the 50th anniversary of President Richard Nixon severing America – and the world – from its last tie to the gold standard. The rapid devaluing of the dollar is the most obvious result. But another consequence has been an enormous national debt that continues to grow at a staggering pace. Most people don’t realize it, but this is a direct and intentional result of the current fiat money system.
There were a number of inauspicious records set in 2020 and the impacts will continue to reverberate through the economy in the future.
These three records were actually linked. The money printing and expansion of the Fed balance sheet were necessary to monetize the massive federal debt. And there is no sign that anything will be different in 2021.