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.
The year 2020 is coming to a merciful end. As it was with pretty much everything, it was a nutty year for the economy and the precious metals markets. We all hope 2021 will be better, but it seems unlikely that it will be any less nutty. In this special Thursday episode of the Friday Gold Wrap podcast, host Mike Maharrey takes a look back at 2020 and speculates on what could lie ahead in 2021.
So far, the US has escaped negative interest rates as a matter of central bank policy. Back in May, many thought a Fed move to negative rates was a real possibility. Of course, much of the world has operated under negative rates as a matter of policy for years. The European Central Bank (ECB) launched negative rates in June 2014. The Bank of Japan (BOJ) introduced negative rates in January 2016. Both are still maintaining a negative rate policy today.
While the Fed has resisted the temptation of a negative rate policy so far, that doesn’t mean Americans have escaped the reality of below-zero real rates. In fact, the world is awash in negative-yielding debt.
The Dow Jones cracked 30,000 this week and stocks continue to surge generally upward as investors are embracing risk-on sentiment based on high hopes a vaccine may put an end to the coronavirus pandemic. But there’s more to it than that. In this episode of the Friday Gold Wrap podcast, host Mike Maharrey takes a deeper look at what’s really driving this market mania, and he also takes down the myth that printing more money means more wealth.
US taxpayers are on the hook for a $435 billion loss on the $1.37 trillion in student loans that were on the government’s books at the beginning of this year, according to an internal study by the Department of Education recently reported by the Wall Street Journal.
That’s before any loan forgiveness program that might come down the pike under the Biden administration. And the massive number doesn’t account for any student loans issued going forward. It also does not include student loans issued by private lenders but still guaranteed by the federal government.
Student loan debt continues to surge despite falling college enrollment.
In Q3, student loan balances rose by $23 billion from the second quarter, according to the latest Federal Reserve data.