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Hyperinflation Warning for U.S.

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By now, most informed readers have at least a general understanding of the concept of “hyperinflation”. It is the exponential increase in the prices of goods, directly caused by the collapse of the currency in which those prices are denominated. Thus, when the United Nations issued a warning last week of a possible “crisis of confidence” and/or “collapse” of the U.S. dollar, this was also a direct warning of the imminent risk of hyperinflation in the U.S. economy.

There is nothing surprising here. Many prominent voices have been warning of the increasing inevitability of U.S. hyperinflation, beginning with Shadowstats economist John Williams, nearly a decade ago. However, when a myopic institution like the UN is now openly warning of the “looming risk” of the collapse of the U.S. dollar, then clearly the parameters have become desperate, indeed.

While many have some general familiarity with the concept of hyperinflation, few yet comprehend that the unique characteristics of the U.S. economy first make it more vulnerable to hyperinflation than any other developed economy; and second, would make any episode of hyperinflation inside the U.S. far more devastating than should the same fate befall any other developed economy.

This “uniqueness” centers on the fact that (for the moment) the U.S. dollar is still the “reserve currency” of the global economy: the money used for most international transactions. This status has been a tremendous boon to the U.S. economy for many decades. The artificial demand created for U.S. dollars because of its extensive use in global commerce pushed-up the value of the dollar beyond its actual worth.

This, in turn, produced two huge benefits for the U.S. economy. It produced an artificially high standard of living for U.S. citizens, and provided U.S. corporations with the added purchasing power for their capital which allowed these corporations to scoop-up foreign corporations at what amounted to discount prices.

Obviously the U.S. government has totally abused the privilege (and responsibility) of managing the world’s reserve currency. Decades of grossly excessive money-printing (especially since 2008) have caused an enormous glut of dollars in the world. It is this reckless behavior which is responsible for the global movement (now well underway) to phase-out the dollar as “reserve currency”. Indeed, various bilateral trade agreements and “currency swaps” have already reduced global demand for dollars by an amount in excess of $1 trillion per year.

The combination of grossly excessive supply and rapidly falling demand is enough by itself to put the U.S. dollar (and U.S. economy) on a “collision course” with hyperinflation. However, this is literally only half the story when we view the pending collapse of the dollar. The key dynamic here is the inherent worthlessness (today) of this debauched banker-paper.

Prior to 1971, when the world still retained a quasi-gold standard, there was at least some connection or “anchor” for the value of the dollar to a hard asset: gold. As a mechanism for “price stability”, it is literally impossible for hyperinflation to ever occur in an economy with a gold-backed currency.

To understand this principle, it is first necessary to appreciate that hyperinflation is a “crisis of confidence” even more than a reaction to economic fundamentals. What turns “high inflation” (even crippling inflation) into genuine “hyperinflation” is the ensuing panic of the domestic population to rid themselves of this banker-paper as quickly as possible. It is this stampede to rid themselves of their currency (by buying-up goods) which simultaneously causes the value of the currency to plummet (from lack of demand) while prices for goods skyrocket due to over-consumption.

This brings us to one of the elementary truths of all “fiat currencies” (i.e. “money” backed by nothing). Their “value” (indeed their survival) is wholly dependent on the continued confidence of the ‘sheep’ using this currency in their commerce. An un-backed paper currency is nothing but an (unsecured) “IOU” of the government issuing the currency. Indeed, all of our banker-paper is now created via debt.

Because there is no intrinsic value in our paper currencies (now that the gold standard is gone), bankers have tried to fake “value” in these currencies, by attaching debt to the creation of each and every new dollar. In other words, the U.S. dollar went from being a unit of currency which carried “value” to one which carried “obligation”.

The difference between a currency which has value versus one which only implies obligation is literally identical to the difference between a 1-oz gold coin, and an IOU to deliver 1 ounce of gold. The former has intrinsic value, while the value of the latter is only as good as its promise to deliver.

We can now see clearly the enormous difference between real (gold-backed) “money” and the bankers’ fiat paper. The value of the former is not dependent in any way on the “confidence” of the holder, while the value of the latter is totally dependent upon the confidence of the holder – and his/her trust in “the promise to pay”.

This obvious fact alone should have been enough to make all of our governments shun the bankers’ fiat-paper, since it is common knowledge that the success of any/all scams is also dependent on maintaining the confidence of the chumps being scammed. Indeed, the colloquialism “con man” is simply shortened from “confidence man”, since well over a century ago, our society was well aware that the primary tool of all scammers is the creation of the illusion of confidence in whatever scheme/scam they are hatching.

Thus it is with all fiat currencies: they are nothing but the “confidence scams” of bankers. These scraps of (worthless) paper are “money” backed by nothing. And more than a thousand years of “history” with such paper has taught us another lesson as well: all such fiat currencies must return to their actual value – zero.

From the moment that the bankers seduced our governments into severing the final link with the gold standard, it was always inevitable that these fiat currencies would plunge to zero. The only “variable” was the amount of time it would take for the chumps to lose confidence in this banker-scam. In that respect, the bankers are their own worst enemies.

As I alluded to previously, the bankers are responsible for the grossly excessive printing of these paper currencies – driving them toward zero on the basis of “dilution” alone. However, even more rapidly, they have been driving our currencies toward zero with the insane explosion in sovereign debt – especially in the U.S.

Professor Lawrence Kotlikoff has calculated the combined debts and obligations of the U.S. government at over $200 trillion. With the “unfunded liabilities” of Social Security and Medicare amounting to roughly $100 trillion alone (before we begin looking at all the other debts/liabilities), obviously this is at least a reasonable “ballpark figure”. Equally obvious: it is utterly impossible for the U.S.’s puny $14 trillion economy to even service these debts for much longer.

As I have written frequently, U.S. interest rates are permanently frozen at 0%, because this deadbeat economy is so totally insolvent that even a 1% increase in interest rates would instantly send the U.S. economy into a deflationary death-spiral. With $60 trillion in current public and private debt, a 1% increase in U.S. interest rates would drain an extra $600 billion in interest payments out of the U.S. economy – every year.

This means subtracting an amount of capital equal to nearly the entire Obama “stimulus package” – every year. It would result in an immediate plunge in U.S. GDP of roughly 5%, even before all the “multipliers” went to work as that capital was subtracted. Indeed, I wrote a previous commentary demonstrating how a 0% interest rate proves that the U.S. dollar is already worthless today.

We arrive at the following parameters:

1) The supply of dollars has been ramped-up to all-time highs at the same time that demand for dollars has totally collapsed.

2) The combination of a totally unmanageable mountain of debt and interest rates which are permanently frozen at 0% mean that the “fundamental” value of the U.S. dollar has already sunk to zero.

3) U.S. hyperinflation will begin as soon as “the sheep” lose confidence in the value of the (worthless) dollar.

It is at this point that we can now analyze why the U.S. is more vulnerable to hyperinflation (and will be harmed much worse by it) than any other Western economy. While the U.S. has previously only experienced the benefits of having the world’s reserve currency, it has now brought itself to the point where it will experience the drawbacks of that role.

Being still the primary vehicle for international commerce, as well as the currency in which the world’s largest debts are denominated, there is somewhere in excess of $6 trillion in U.S. dollar holdings in the hands of foreign entities – either in the form of U.S. Treasuries, or dollars themselves. This means that while most episodes of hyperinflation throughout history have been driven by a domestic collapse in confidence, because of the vast numbers of U.S. dollar instruments held outside the country, the U.S. could suffer a currency-collapse (and the resultant hyperinflation) from either a loss in domestic confidence in the dollar or a loss of foreign confidence.

Because the bankers have already driven the value of the dollar to zero based on two separate fundamentals (complete insolvency and excessive currency-dilution), the “crisis of confidence” which leads to U.S. hyperinflation can also be due to either fears of insolvency or merely the consequence of excessive dilution (i.e. too much money-printing). Thus there are already four possible “triggers” for the collapse of confidence which leads to U.S. hyperinflation.

This is only half the “horror story” regarding the implications of hyperinflation for the U.S. economy, however. In the world’s most recent experience with hyperinflation: the collapse of Zimbabwe’s currency, obviously the domestic population of that nation has suffered greatly. What has substantially mitigated the suffering was the availability of a substitute currency to use in the “blackmarket” economy which inevitably arises when a nation experiences hyperinflation. Ironically, the substitute currency which has lessened the devastation of hyperinflation in Zimbabwe is the U.S. dollar – the reserve currency.

The obvious question then becomes: what will Americans do for a substitute currency once the U.S. dollar has “greater value” as toilet paper than as money? The answer is “no one knows”. Certainly the (relatively) small amounts of gold and silver currently being held and accumulated by Americans is a partial answer – but only a partial one.

There is far too little bullion available for circulation in the U.S. economy to allow it to function in any remotely normal manner. Much like the Japanese economy became totally disrupted when the earthquake/tsunami destroyed vital infrastructure (and supply chains), the collapse of the U.S. dollar would have a similar (but much worse) impact in disrupting U.S. commerce.

Once the suppliers of raw materials and other goods to the U.S. economy stopped accepting U.S. dollars as payment, U.S. businesses would have no way to keep that flow of goods coming. Industry would shut-down. Retailers would close due to a lack of goods on their shelves, so even if Americans wanted to “barter” for the necessities of life, they would quickly find retailers closed – and those few who retained any stock would a) charge exorbitant prices; and b) would likely only accept gold or silver as payment.

The problem for the U.S. economy in this scenario is that its own collapse would certainly threaten the solvency of the Euro zone, and the “Euro” is the only other currency with both the status(?) and a large enough supply to be usable as a valid substitute in the U.S. The question is whether those businesses inside the U.S. who had stopped using dollars would be any more receptive toward another form of un-backed banker-paper (of highly questionable worth)?

The Canadian dollar would also offer a partial solution to the U.S. However, while the CAD may be viewed as less risky than either the USD or the Euro, once again the problem of insufficient supply arises. With the U.S. economy being (at the moment) ten times as large as Canada’s economy, there simply isn’t a large enough quantity of such currency to function as a surrogate for the U.S. economy.

The U.S. economy is careening toward hyperinflation. The U.S. government is either oblivious as to what is happening, powerless to do anything about it , or both. The only way for ordinary Americans to cushion the shock of what lies ahead (in addition to stocking-up on “necessities”) is to accumulate as much “physical” gold and silver as possible.

At that point Americans will only be able to hope that the U.S. government doesn’t repeat what it did during the Great Depression – and once again  confiscate the gold and silver of Americans…

 

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bobbbny
...
written by bobbbny, June 01, 2011
The only difference is that the USSR was far, far better prepared for a collapse than the US is today. The USSR already had a flourishing black market, and many communities were self sufficient in food. In the US, everything depends on "just in time" deliveries from great distances.
Most Americans today would be utterly baffled by a closing of supermarkets, fast food restaurants, and gas stations.
Utter panic would set in within three days.
Jeff Nielson
...
written by Jeff Nielson, June 01, 2011
Earl, there are MANY obvious parallels between the Soviet Union of the 1980's and the U.S. of today.

Both economies were totally hollowed-out to support OBSCENE war-machines. Both have/had leadership which was both antagonistic toward its own people and also TOTALLY detached from the real world.

The combination of FIRST destroying one's economy, and then COMPOUNDING that idiocy by not even REALIZING what they have done is why we can safely conclude that the U.S. is heading (soon) for a very similar implosion.
Earl
...
written by Earl, June 01, 2011
Jeff,

Excellent piece of writing. Thank You!

Now a question comes to mind. After seeing many bussiness failures. I'm thinking small bussiness. They all had one thing in common-
They maxed out credit suppliers, took deposits, and basically "took the money and ran".

Do you see the USA, breaking up like the USSR ?

Thank You
Earl
Null
...
written by Null, May 31, 2011
Good article Jeff, I’m currently planning to leave North America. One point though, when you said that governments issue the currency, it is my understanding that they don’t. The central banks issue it right? And like everyone else, the governments have to borrow it (at interest) from private banks, which creates the whole ponzi scheme. If the government instead issued the currency itself, then wouldn’t that by definition eliminate the debt problem? The government would print up as much debt free paper or digital dollars it wants, then spend them into the economy as part of its expenditures, and stipulate that people have to pay taxes back to the government with them, as well as accepting them as payment for goods. Then when people pay their taxes the government takes that money back out of the system to maintain a stable currency. Couple this with freegold and freesilver, where people can use whatever means they want to store wealth (be it gold, silver, platinum, or government fiat paper), so that government fiat paper is only really intended for transaction purposes, and this would be a totally debt free monetary system. If the government printed too much money for political purposes then inflation would rise and people would move their wealth over to gold and silver.
bobbbny
...
written by bobbbny, May 30, 2011
Jeff; There is nothing for me to add.
That sums it all up in a nutshell.
This is why I have become a prepper.
There is no way out for the bankrupt bankster nations.
Buy physical metals. Buy food. Become energy self sufficient.
Get prepared.
Jeff Nielson
...
written by Jeff Nielson, May 30, 2011
It is when we talk about these paper currencies collapsing like dominoes that we see even more clearly how all this banker-paper is nothing but a collection of Ponzi-schemes.
redpill
...
written by redpill, May 30, 2011
Thanks Jeff,

yes, there is much psychology - once the cofidence in the dollar has passed by the US will likely experience hyperinflation: "Who gives (paper-)money value? human beeings !"
The euro will also collapse, because it's a dollar derivate (the euro is backed bei the US-dollar by 70 - 80%, you can see it, when you take a look at the balance sheet of the ECB)

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