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When Prices Have No Meaning

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A reader recently passed along some fascinating material providing a detailed review of the Weimar Hyperinflation experienced by Germany in the 1920’s, along with some astute analysis of those events in order to give readers a clear picture of this economic catastrophe.

The purpose of this piece, however, is not to review that article; so those interested in further enlightenment will have to obtain it on their own. What my own reading of that analysis provided was both some interesting surprises, along with reinforcement of several of my own economic premises.

Among the most important of these is the illusory nature of “change.” The Weimer Hyperinflation provides us with a classic illustration of that concept. Viewed from nearly a century in the future, our assumption is that this “episode” was characterized by a consistent progression: either the parabolic explosion in prices (and collapse in the value of currency) which we are taught defines hyperinflation, or (at the least) some steady-but-dramatic linear progression.

In fact Germany’s hyperinflation did not unfold like that at all. Rather, there were dramatic ebbs and surges, including intervals of weeks at a time where the Reichsmark actually rose in value versus other currencies. Imagine the difficulty in trying to convince the Average German that their currency was “being destroyed by hyperinflation” when they saw it rising in value for weeks at a time. Hyperinflation, what hyperinflation?

Undoubtedly, these Average Germans told themselves that if there were any hyperinflation event that they would “see it coming.” They were wrong. With the modern citizens of our (collectively doomed) Western economies, their folly is two-fold.

First they suffer from the same self-delusion of the German people: that they would/will see any economic catastrophe coming; or (at worst) recognize the event as it is happening. This alone is a potentially terminal lapse of judgment. Secondly, these Sheep have been deceived by the statistical lies of our duplicitous governments.

The poster-child for this deceit is the U.S. government. For nearly four years a Cast of Liars (from government, media, and the banking community) have assured Americans that they have been enjoying an economic recovery.” Meanwhile, in the real world; the percentage of employed Americans continues to relentlessly decline, while retail sales in this “consumer economy” are collapsing.

The economy of the world’s Great Energy Glutton is so anemic that the U.S. is now a net energy exporter”; due to plummeting demand within its own (energy-intensive) economy. If those reality-checks are not enough to rouse Americans from their propaganda-induced stupor, perhaps one final question will accomplish this. How could a “four-year recovery” take the U.S. directly to an economic Cliff?

By definition, any “recovery” should be taking the U.S. economy away from any kind of economic cliff; since any honest characterization of an “economic recovery” directly and necessarily implies that the economy is healing. The Fiscal Cliff which the Corporate Media is trumpeting with as much hysteria as they can muster is proof (by itself) that there never was any U.S. economic recovery.

 

Prudent readers must confront two, ugly truths. They will not recognize even the most cataclysmic economic changes as they are approaching; and very likely not even grasp events as they are happening. Secondly, the vast majority of readers have been thoroughly deceived by the endless choruses of “don’t worry, be happy” emanating from the U.S. propaganda machine.

To these difficulties in simply understanding the (economic) world around us, we can add one more: a world of fantasy prices. There are several dynamics at play here. One of these dynamics is another lesson from the Weimar Hyperinflation.

There was a lag-time between the explosive/exponential money-printing which actually produced (produces) hyperinflation and the actual hyperinflationary surge in prices that took place. Put another way, the banksters of that era were also adept at manipulating markets. Or, expressed from a third perspective; while the German government (and its bankers) could delay the hyperinflation they were brewing they were powerless to prevent it.

The combination of manipulation and the panic which results from any collapsing market leads to another dynamic: the “dead-cat bounce” – where even worthless/near-worthless assets can temporarily rise in value, but only because the previous rate of collapse was temporarily excessive.

As our crippled financial system nears the point of collapse (and hyperinflation looms), yet another dynamic is part of the inherent definition of hyperinflation itself. Ultimately, in any hyperinflation paper currencies become effectively worthless. In other words, the difference in “value” between (for example) a $10 bill and a $1000 bill shrinks smaller and smaller – eventually disappearing completely (as both become worthless).

This directly implies a world of prices which are almost totally nominal/arbitrary – i.e. without any meaning. What is the “correct price” for a loaf of bread…in Monopoly Money? We immediately recognize that the question is absurd.

We understand that because Monopoly Money is worthless that any price is purely arbitrary. It’s no different than asking what the “price” of a loaf of bread is in terms of grains of sand. As with U.S. dollars, the grains of sand can be obtained in infinite quantities, and at zero cost. As I have explained previously, these parameters alone mean (as a matter of arithmetic) that the U.S. dollar must be already worthless.

The paradox here is that as our financial system spirals relentlessly toward some form of hyperinflationary point-of-no-return; as the prices of assets become steadily more nominal, arbitrary, and unreal; manipulation of markets (and asset prices) becomes steadily easier rather than more difficult.

Why are U.S. Treasuries at the “highest prices in history”; when the U.S. government has never been less solvent, much more supply is being dumped onto the market than at any other time in history, and all of the world’s other struggling governments no longer have any surplus funds to buy this overvalued paper? Together, those three parameters clearly dictate that U.S. Treasuries should be at their lowest prices in history – meaning U.S. interest rates should be at their highest rates in history today.

Of course, with more than $15 trillion of outstanding debt this would instantly vaporize the U.S. economy; consuming more than 100% of tax revenues in interest payments alone. Thus manipulating Treasuries prices is Job #1 for the U.S. government – and the banking cabal whose Paper Empire is built atop this Ponzi-scheme.

Why are gold and silver prices seemingly “stuck” again in more sideways trading; just as the printing presses on both sides of the Atlantic explode in a new frenzy of “open-ended” and “unlimited” money-printing?

The answer to both of these questions is identical. As our paper currencies collectively plummet toward zero – with our morally bankrupt governments boasting about their competitive devaluation”the actual difference in value between the “highest prices in history” and “the lowest prices in history” steadily shrinks to zero as well.

Whether we have gold (currently) priced at $1700/oz and silver priced at $32/oz, or whether we add one (or two) zeros to those numbers is now practically nothing more than the arbitrary whim of bankster manipulation…with one important exception: inventories.

Today, the “price” of gold or silver means nothing more than how favorably we can exchange our soon-to-be-worthless banker paper for the world’s only Honest Money. Tomorrow, when inventories go to zero; this means that the “zeros” which have been (temporarily) artificially/fraudulently withheld from gold and silver must be added.

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Null
...
written by Null, December 07, 2012
I’m going to elaborate this point because it’s such an important one. I support so many of the things you write about, and I want you to maintain full credibility by not furthering ideas that are not true. My numbers here are rough for the sake of simplicity.

Imagine a river of oil flowing into the US. That river is 13 units big (in this case, each unit represents a percentage of global oil “production”.) That river is crude oil imports to the US. There is another river flowing into the US, but it flows up from the ground. That is domestic crude oil production, and this totals 8 units. The two of them sum to about 21 units, or 21% of total global oil production. All 21 units of this oil are then refined into more specialized petroleum products that people like to consume (no one in the western world consumes crude oil directly without further refining it, although the Saudi's do burn it directly to make electricity).

And there is also another river flowing into the US. This is the flow of refined petroleum products that other countries have already refined out of their own crude oil. This river is smaller, at 2 units big.

So then, the total amount of oil-derived material (crude oil plus refined products) flowing into the US is 13+2=15 units. Add in the river from domestic crude oil production (smilies/cool.gif and it’s 23 units. This is the pool of how much total refined petroleum products the US has to play with.

Now what happens is that 3 units of that 23 units of total refined petroleum product gets exported back out, because there isn’t enough internal demand for it. Therefore, the US is a net exporter of 3-2=1 units of refined petroleum product, which is what your linked graph represents. Total net oil-related trade is 13+2-3=12 units of imports.

So Americans get to consume 23-3=20 units of total refined petroleum products, but they only “produced” 8 units themselves, in the form of domestic crude oil that was refined into further petroleum products. 12 units of that consumption had to be imported. Therefore, the US imports 12/20= 60% of the oil-related energy it consumes. The math is tricky, and it is being deviously manipulated by the media to try to get Americans to believe they don't have an oil shortage.

Here is an article that explains this:

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8981
Jeff Nielson
...
written by Jeff Nielson, December 07, 2012
Jeff: in your next to last paragraph you mention "inventories". I assume you refer to the real lack of same in the PM sector which will prove to be the downfall of the PM paper shufflers. It's interesting that there have been quite a few articles lately that refer to a coming shortfall in physical due to the immense headwinds facing miners and the notion that we have already passed peak gold and perhaps silver as well.



Apberusdisvet, at this point I've sort of danced-around the subject of "peak gold" or "peak silver"; since it's less cut-and-dried, and in many ways more complicated than the concept of Peak Oil -- which is a reality.

We're seeing PLATEAUS of production, not because there are not still deposits in sufficient quantity and quality to boost production; but rather because prices have not been allowed to go high enough to stimulate production.

Here we see a HUGE difference with the energy sector. Oil prices have also been heavily suppressed; BUT there have been a near-infinite amount of SUBSIDY dollars made available to the Oligarchs to finance HIGH output at low prices.

That can't continue. Conversely, should our governments ever decide to start showering gold and silver mining companies with subsidies we would quickly see production surge higher (barring even more-extreme price suppression).
apberusdisvet
...
written by apberusdisvet, December 06, 2012
Jeff: in your next to last paragraph you mention "inventories". I assume you refer to the real lack of same in the PM sector which will prove to be the downfall of the PM paper shufflers. It's interesting that there have been quite a few articles lately that refer to a coming shortfall in physical due to the immense headwinds facing miners and the notion that we have already passed peak gold and perhaps silver as well.
Jeff Nielson
...
written by Jeff Nielson, December 06, 2012
OK, I don’t want to be too negative because I agree with most of what you are saying here Jeff, but I have to point out one glaring error in your statistics. When you say that the US has become a net energy exporter, nothing could be further from the truth. The US still imports 58% of the oil it burns. That number has gotten slightly smaller over the last few years as the US recession has hit the consumer hard, as you point out. But still, amazingly, about 11% of total global oil “production” gets funnelled into the US trade DEFICIT alone!! That’s 3.2 billion barrels a year which amounts to about $320 BILLION! Americans consume 21% of global oil production yet they represent 5% of the world’s population!...




Null, you need to pay a little closer attention to the PRECISE language that is being used here (and perhaps give me a little more credit too - lol).

Yes, the U.S. is still a major IMPORTER of crude oil each year: to feed the Oligarchs' refineries. But that's NOT what I was talking about. I said the U.S. is now a "net ENERGY exporter".

The U.S. has never and will never export a single DROP of crude oil. But it's collapsing economy is now unable to USE all the diesel oil, and heating oil, and even GASOLINE being produced by those refineries.

And it is now exporting so MUCH of the output of those refineries that it is now a "net energy exporter." smilies/smiley.gif
Jeff Nielson
...
written by Jeff Nielson, December 06, 2012
Jeff,
This long time follower has always said that when you realize it's time to prepare, it's too late to prepare.
The Weimer Inflation was a fits & starts event, but when it took off, it went hyperbolic.
They all do.
They always will.
Interestingly, with the exception of 5th century Rome & France under Louis XIV, all the other 21 hyperinflations in history have occurred after the beginning of the 20th century, specifically beginning with 1923.
That coincides precisely with the global completion of the central banking scheme.

Interesting that just a day after the announcement of the single biggest month in sales of US Gold Eagles to ordinary citizens, someone sold 20,000 tons of gold paper on the Crimex at 8:30 AM, knocking the price down $40.
Want to buy gold, sheeple? Look at how unstable it is!

The tendency not to recognize change as it is occurring is human nature.
People believe that because things have been a certain way, they will continue that way.
It happened in 1923.
It happened in 1933, when 80% of German Jews did not leave because this Hitler was just another politician who wouldn't last.
It's happening today as people just don't see the deterioration in their lifestyles and their loss of liberty.

My opinion you know.
It's intractable.
It's going to crash/default/hyperinflate.
Let's get it over with and start over.

Be well.
Be prepared.
Be vigilant.


Yes Bobbbny.

The tragedy/irony here is that the people who read this piece most closely are those who ALREADY have taken various steps to protec themselves -- and are (more or less) aware of the (secret) collapse taking place.

Sadly, of those who really, really need a wake-up call like this; most will simply shrug it off -- or not even take the time to read it in the first place. smilies/sad.gif
Null
...
written by Null, December 05, 2012
OK, I don’t want to be too negative because I agree with most of what you are saying here Jeff, but I have to point out one glaring error in your statistics. When you say that the US has become a net energy exporter, nothing could be further from the truth. The US still imports 58% of the oil it burns. That number has gotten slightly smaller over the last few years as the US recession has hit the consumer hard, as you point out. But still, amazingly, about 11% of total global oil “production” gets funnelled into the US trade DEFICIT alone!! That’s 3.2 billion barrels a year which amounts to about $320 BILLION! Americans consume 21% of global oil production yet they represent 5% of the world’s population!

Anyone can look at the stats themselves by downloading an Excel spreadsheet detailing energy use of all types by all countries, available from the BP Statistical Review, which is as reasonably close to being accurate as one could hope to get.

http://www.bp.com/sectionbodycopy.do?categoryId=7500&contentId=7068481

What’s actually happened is that the US has been such a historical oil hog that it has perfected the art of building efficient oil refineries. And since the US consumer has been hit so hard lately, much of that oil refining capacity sits idle. So it turns out to be profitable to import crude oil, refine it, and then send it back out as finished petroleum PRODUCTS like gasoline to the higher priced international market.

And what’s worse is that when the dollar gets destroyed and is no longer the world’s reserve currency, that oil trade deficit will no longer be able to be maintained and instantly, America will be forced to get by on at most half as much oil as today. This will cause social chaos. And that trajectory will only get worse because US oil production has been going down since 1971 and it will intensify.
bobbbny
...
written by bobbbny, December 05, 2012
Jeff,
This long time follower has always said that when you realize it's time to prepare, it's too late to prepare.
The Weimer Inflation was a fits & starts event, but when it took off, it went hyperbolic.
They all do.
They always will.
Interestingly, with the exception of 5th century Rome & France under Louis XIV, all the other 21 hyperinflations in history have occurred after the beginning of the 20th century, specifically beginning with 1923.
That coincides precisely with the global completion of the central banking scheme.

Interesting that just a day after the announcement of the single biggest month in sales of US Gold Eagles to ordinary citizens, someone sold 20,000 tons of gold paper on the Crimex at 8:30 AM, knocking the price down $40.
Want to buy gold, sheeple? Look at how unstable it is!

The tendency not to recognize change as it is occurring is human nature.
People believe that because things have been a certain way, they will continue that way.
It happened in 1923.
It happened in 1933, when 80% of German Jews did not leave because this Hitler was just another politician who wouldn't last.
It's happening today as people just don't see the deterioration in their lifestyles and their loss of liberty.

My opinion you know.
It's intractable.
It's going to crash/default/hyperinflate.
Let's get it over with and start over.

Be well.
Be prepared.
Be vigilant.

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