News & Analysis
Ben and Barry's Inflation Problem
Inflation caused by Bernanke's "Quantitative Easing" may doom Obama's re-election. Here's a political equation that ought to furrow the brows of everybody working to get a second term for President Obama: QE1+QT1=DEFEAT. For those not cursed to be economists, QE1 stands for Quantitative Easing, while QT1 means "Quantitative Tightening. According to Ralph Benko, writing in Forbes, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke may be about to doom the Obama re-election effort with that equation. – SF Examiner/Forbes
Dominant Social Theme: The president may be doomed by factors beyond his control. It is a kind of Greek tragedy.
Free-Market Analysis: There seems to be no doubt that Barack Obama is obsessed with gaining a second term as president of the United States. But this article (excerpted above) makes some very good points about how monetary policy plays into presidential politics. We will examine them further, below.
Ben Bernanke's monetary stimulation has been pervasive and ongoing; it has also been historically massive. Never before has a central bank dumped US$20-$50 trillion into the marketplace within a two year time-span as the Fed under Bernanke seems to have done. And Bernanke, it should be noted, is not the only one following these policies. Other central banks have been printing as well to ameliorate the lingering effects of the 2008 economic crisis.
The argument of the above article, which first appeared in Forbes, is that sooner or later the money that has been printed and shoved into bank coffers will start to circulate. This will happen when people wish to spend more, thus gradually increasing the velocity of money and allowing banks to lend if they wish to. As banks begin to respond to consumer demand – having rebuilt their own balance sheets – the dollars that are lingering in bank vaults will be injected into the larger economy causing price inflation.
The thrust of the article – the analysis and ultimate conclusion – is that price inflation should begin to peak as the US presidential campaign begins in earnest. At that point the Fed and Bernanke will be faced with several unpalatable alternatives. Either price inflation expands (risking hyperinflation) or the Fed begins to raise rates in earnest, eventually choking off the "recovery" (which always happens as the business cycle turns) and the economy lapses back into recession.
The article acknowledges all this and has the good sense, as well, to point out that slowing monetary velocity (as we have often mentioned) is not a scientific endeavor. Here's the salient quote: "In the grim reality of the world dollar system, this is virtually impossible. Vivek Ranadivé, the smartest guy in Silicon Valley you've never heard of, astutely wrote in 2007, 'If you applied the Federal Reserve approach to ensuring a suitable temperature in your home, you would turn the heater on and off every three months, overheating or under-heating your house.'"
This is not idle speculation anymore. For months, even years, people have been warning that one cannot dump trillions of dollars into the American economy, and the world's, without creating significant price inflation. At the beginning of March, Bloomberg reported that commodities reached a two-year high; cocoa reached a 32-year high (though there are political reasons why cocoa has soared having to do with the current political turmoil in the Ivory Coast).
Cotton prices have climbed "above the price reached during the cotton embargo of the American civil war in the 1860s," the Financial Times reported. And of course the price of oil continues to rise, and will go even higher because of the Japanese nuclear disaster. Commodity price hikes have an impact on price inflation in the broader economy. One is speaking, the article notes, of months, however, not years. By the end of 2011, or certainly sometime in 2012, price inflation will become a major challenge to the Federal Reserve and, thus, eventually, to the administration itself.
Bernanke has given several extraordinary interviews of late in which he has maintained almost defiantly that he is "100 percent" confident that the Fed can reduce liquidity at the appropriate time and do so with the efficiency. This flies in the face of both history and logic. Historically, central banks do NOT do a good job of controlling price inflation. Afraid of ruining the recovery, they tend to be timid which gives rise to even higher prices. Then, afraid suddenly of hyperinflation, central bankers over-react and tend to push the economy back into recession with a series of pre-emptive rate hikes.
This pattern can be seen most clearly in the US itself in the late 1970s. The Fed initially was not aggressive enough with price inflation, which spiked into the double digits. When Paul Volcker took over as Fed Chairman he wasted no time in raising interest rates aggressively while apparently throttling back on money creation itself. The result was an aggressive diminishment of price inflation, but also a terrible recession that came close to bankrupting a slew of Western money-center commercial banks.
This is history; but history in monetary terms is driven by logic of currency manipulation and its inherent difficulty. Logically, central bankers do not have the tools necessary to drain liquidity properly; and this is why they are always doing too little or too much. Central bankers claim that they can figure out the tendencies of an economy by watching various, broad money supply gauges. In reality, of course, such indices are both unreliable and backward looking.
This is the ultimate weakness of central banking. There are NO tools that really provide insight into what the economy is doing in real time. Inevitably, the central banker is looking into the proverbial rear view mirror, responding to what the economy has already done rather than what is actually taking place at the actual moment-in-time. This is also in fact, why central banking price fixing of the value and supply of money (for that is what it is) doesn't work. They know this.
Trying to slow down the economy is ultimately just as distortive as printing money. The difference is that while printing money usually causes a boom, draining velocity inevitably causes a bust – a recession or even a depression. This is why central bankers are much better, or certainly more enthusiastic, about adding money than subtracting it. The latter process has a good deal more political and economic risk involved.
Bernanke has maintained that, "the most important lesson of all is that price stability should be a key objective of monetary policy." But these are just words. Bernanke, despite his bravado, has no more tools at his command than any other central banker. He appears more powerful or at least more certain because he has presided over the single biggest injection of monetary material into an economy that has ever taken place. But creating a historical disaster is not necessarily proof of competence. The ability to create a massive monetary injury does not necessarily add to one's competence.
At some point, there will come a rupture between the Obama administration and Ben Bernanke's monetary regime. Perhaps what is to come has not yet occurred to Obama. But he is a thin-skinned and ambitious man. He no doubt sees a second term as vindication for what he has gone through and the extraordinary vilification to which he has been subject. In other words, it is an emotional issue for him. Likely, he will treat his monetary dilemma in the same fashion.
If this is a correct analysis, then Obama will surely pressure Bernanke (privately if not publicly) to restrain himself and the Fed when it comes to slowing the economy. If he is successful, the economy will move from price inflation to something approaching price hyper-inflation given the vast sums of currency that can potentially circulate. And the more successful he is, ironically, the worse the ultimate disaster will surely be.
Sooner or later, the Fed like all central banks in the face of price inflation will have to tighten. But if Obama puts enough pressure on Bernanke and is able to affect Fed policy then the US must probably face a kind of monetary whiplash. First price inflation will become a serious problem; then as panic sets in monetary tightening will be applied harder than it would have been otherwise and the economy will be constricted and severely damaged. This is the sad tale of the 1970s and there is no reason to believe it will not be repeated.
Obama is fond of saying that elections have consequences. Monetary policy, which is not hypothetical but which is acted on, has consequences, too. There seems no doubt that the US and the world are headed toward a bout of sustained price inflation. The only question is how bad it will be, how much chaos it will cause and how out-of-control it will become. The second question then is how fiercely central banks will react, and how deep a slump will be created as a result.
The betting here is that the second decade of the 2000s will be like the 1970s on steroids. The amount of money that it has taken to reliquify the dollar reserve system is truly unfathomable. People simply have no idea of the sheer magnitude of central banking irresponsibility in this regard. To salvage an unsalvageable system, central banks knowingly created the "mother of all price inflations." Now Bernanke et al. will have to deal with it. And in Bernanke's case, he will have to do so within the middle of an election cycle.
Bernanke actually wanted a second term, probably because he was frightened about what would be revealed if he stepped away from the helm. Also, having in large part created the problem, he no doubt believes he is in the best position to fix it, or at least ameliorate the worst of the excesses. It is obviously a delicate balancing act; though one could speculate (and we have) that Bernanke et al. are purposefully trying to destabilize the dollar reserve currency to generate conditions more sympathetic to a (non dollar) global currency, perhaps the IMF's SDRs.
We would venture to say that a tipping point may be closer than mainstream media commentators tend to believe. If the system dissolves before other arrangements can be made, then the money masters will effectively lose control and the global game will collapse. In such a case, it is perfectly possible, as we have argued on many occasions, that the world or at least the West might in some fashion default to a market-based gold and silver standard along with free banking.
Conclusion: What is also clear, however, is that if chaos does overwhelm the current system and people truly lose faith, then Bernanke will likely come to regret that he campaigned so hard for a second term. He will surely become a most vilified individual, along with entire central banking priesthood. Obama will not regret a second term, as he probably will not have one.
Posted by Ingo Bischoff on 03/17/11 12:11 PM
"If this is a correct analysis, then Obama will surely pressure Bernanke (privately if not publicly) to restrain himself and the Fed when it comes to slowing the economy. If he is successful, the economy will move from price inflation to something approaching price hyper-inflation given the vast sums of currency that can potentially circulate. And the more successful he is, ironically, the worse the ultimate disaster will surely be."
Either way, Bernanke has the advantage over Obama. Obama will be unable to restrain himself from blaming the FED for lack of liquidity. If Bernanke provides it, he'll save the banks, but at the cost of hyperinflation dooming Obama's chances for reelection.
If he uses monetary restraint, which he actually doesn't want to do, he plunges the banks into insolvency, creating a depression for which the only blame will go to Obama. The timidity of the House Republicans lies in the fact that they don't want to do anything to deflect the blame that will be Obama's.
Obama is a "one term" president, no matter what the sycophants in the media tell you. Want to escape the "inevitable"? Remove the "legal tender" protection from the FRN as it regards payment of private debt.
Posted by WorkingClass on 03/17/11 11:52 AM
Link doesn't work. I am just copying and pasting using Firefox and Windows. Try again.
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Reply from The Daily Bell
Should work now ...
Posted by WorkingClass on 03/17/11 11:48 AM
Obama singlehandedly resurrected the Republican Party by alienating Democratic voters. Take a look at what these Democrats think of Obama.
Is Obama worse than Bush?
Click to view link
I have no doubt that the Oligarchy will retain Obama if possible. He has done and is doing an excellent job for them. But he is expendable and he knows it. Jeb Bush is a talented and experienced criminal and would be an acceptable replacement.
Raising interest rates will not choke off recovery because there is no recovery. Nothing Obama or the Fed can do or not do will avoid the utter collapse of the real economy.
Non-billionaire Americans should be focused on surviving the crash. When they are not doing that they might speculate on what a post imperial America might look like. Personally, I doubt it will feature D vs. R politics. The legacy parties will be remembered as the crooks who ruined the country.
Posted by Ol' Grey Ghost on 03/17/11 11:34 AM
I: Well, there it is, right on the front page of the morning paper. Food prices are rising due to the bad weather we've been having all around the world. There might be something to this global warming all them scientists have been talking about.
G: Yes, a shortage caused by some poor weather can cause a rise in that single crop price through the market but for everything to rise at the same time takes something that affects the value of the currency like quantitative easing.
I: Quantus-ate-a-wheezing? Does that have anything to do with the price of oil?
G: Quantitative easing and, no, it has nothing to do with oil. It has to do with the printing of more money so that the money becomes worth less and everything in relation to it is worth more.
I: Printing more money, huh? That's a good thing, right?
I: With more money then we can all pay these higher prices at the store for our food. Then maybe the government can raise the minimum wage so that poor people have more money, too.
G: Good grief! Where do I begin...
Click to view link
Posted by Kevin K. on 03/17/11 11:10 AM
The payment of taxes are what give Federal Reserve Notes their marginal utility.
It is true that taxes are unnecessary as inflation could pay for all. Taxes support the illusion of value to paper.
Posted by Adam E on 03/17/11 10:55 AM
Ah, yes. I wasn't thinking it through. These guys are puppets, but they're still human beings. That actually makes it more disturbing.
Posted by Adam E on 03/17/11 10:34 AM
"If this is a correct analysis, then Obama will surely pressure Bernanke (privately if not publicly) to restrain himself and the Fed when it comes to slowing the economy."
"Bernanke actually wanted a second term, probably because he was frightened about what would be revealed if he stepped away from the helm."
Is the DB really suggesting that politics at this level is about what the individual personalities want? This is how the MSM frames the discussion, like it's a soap opera. What's up, DB?
Reply from The Daily Bell
Yes, politics is always partially personal. Think of Richard Nixon proclaiming he was getting out of politics and the press would not have him "to kick around anymore." Or Ronald Reagan running over and over again until he finally won the presidential nomination at a fairly late age; or Bill Clinton ringing half the doorbells in New Hampshire in a frantic effort to win a primary and obliterate for an instant the nagging knowledge of his inner worthlessness and brutality ...
There are plenty of examples of this. Almost any politician is driven by personal demons (and ambition) as well as institutional pressures.
Posted by RF on 03/17/11 10:32 AM
They elected him once already ? no? Americans are fooled easily with the media to assist- he was the first to make greater use of the Internet than ever before.. more than 50% of the vote--- the economic problems cannot be resolved with just another clown in the White House,they are deeper than a change of face can attend to.....
Posted by Jerry Alexander on 03/17/11 10:16 AM
The very odds of Barry being re elected are the same odds that Americans are fools.
Posted by Gnome on 03/17/11 10:15 AM
The PE creates all of the greenbacks it needs by fiat. Income tax seems more like a tribal submission ritual with existential sacrifice to enhance psychological "weight."
Reply from The Daily Bell
Ha, "a tribal submission ritual." You made the elves laugh out loud. Somewhere a set of twins is born, gurgling.
Posted by Matt R. on 03/17/11 10:13 AM
My mother told me this morning that she didn't understand why I keep attacking the Fed and am worried about the economy. Can someone from the DB fill in as foster parent for me?
Reply from The Daily Bell
We can find you a gnome. But you wouldn't last long.
Posted by Dave on 03/17/11 09:34 AM
I am on your side. People get agitated doing the 1040 and its' endless accompanying forms and publications, in order to attempt a guess at the correct tax amount intended to be pilfered.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Yes. First there is the "invisible" inflation tax and then the all-too-visible income tax.
Posted by RF on 03/17/11 09:26 AM
Barak & Ben , are perfect together, but saving the bankers has done little to save or re-create the working economy, that existed in the USA prior to the beginning of the decade....
Yes Berkshire Hathaway has had a record year, as several other billion dollar Wall Street funds, they claim the hedge funds are slowly gaini9ng back credibility, but the bond markets are soft--
The JOB markets, you know all those little people paying taxes, paying bills, raising families- they haven't found employment yet, and they are being dropped off unemployment after 2 years or more to a non-existant recovery as finding employment is only at entry level postions, minimum wage "opportunities" and scams , job search services,yeilding nothing concrete for thier children's futures....
The only reason Barak Obama may get a second term is because no one else wants the job this time....
Posted by Dave on 03/17/11 09:12 AM
They can see the future because they make it. We then react to it. Their activity is criminal. Central Banking is only one arm of the PE. Since the PE have controlling share of food and energy production, they can set the value of the dollar to anything they want.
DB, I guess I got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. You write excellent articles that I have not been able to find anywhere else, and I am grateful for that.
My appologies again.
Reply from The Daily Bell
No need to apologize! But one of our central focuses has been the "curse" of central banking in the modern age. It is probably THE central focus for us. We really try hard to get the point across: Central banking is price fixing (whatever else it is) and as such ruins economies as price-fixing always results in queues, shortages and general economic distortion and eventually disaster.
In the case of central banking, inevitable, endless money printing ruins whole economies, drives the middle classes into penury and sours the entire cultural fabric of a given nation-state. The culture turns rancid. People begin to hate each other. Fingers are pointing, though unfortunately not usually at the right culprits. It happens over and over. The rotting hulks of ruined economies dot the map like scuttled ships, all of them ransacked by central banking (and bankers) until they can barely float, turning upside-down eventually and sinking without a trace.
And then, again, like the Japanese after an earthquake people must start over, lay the keel, secure the ribs, build anew as solidly as they can. But how many times! If central banking is incorporated into the new design, more shipwrecks are guaranteed. In fact, the history of central banking is the history of misery, penury, impoverished children and desperate adults, broken families, crushed communities drowning in debt. It is a history written in blood and tears, no less than war; in fact it IS a war. People still don't realize. We have tried our best ....
Posted by Dave on 03/17/11 08:43 AM
My appologies for flying off the handle, I know better. I still think your articles are too soft on them. We will have inflation. The question is, have they gained all they need from the US, mainly resources. Or, in others words, is this the final pump before they ditch the dollar as the world reserve and move to something else?
Reply from The Daily Bell
"I still think your articles are too soft on them."
Who Needs Banks?
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Dominant Social Theme: Thank goodness for banks, the most valuable invention since the wheel.
Free-Market Analysis: We've often pointed out that banking is the "biggest bubble" " at least until a feedbacker pointed out to us that government actually is. But banks probably run a close second. In the 20th century, especially, central bankers were the unacknowledged priests of high finance and banks were (and are) their temples. It is instructive to notice how many banks have classical-style facades reminding one of, say, the Parthenon. Another sub dominant social theme: "Bow down if you will at the alter of probity and wealth! Here everything is made good again."
But the ongoing failures of US banks provides us with the opportunity to ask, "banks, who needs 'em?" That this question still has the capacity to shock shows us how effective this central money power promotion really is. For most people, unfortunately, banks are the place from which they will think to seek funding to start a business venture or buy a home or refurbish a kitchen. In fact, banks are not necessary for any of this.
Neolithic banks were initially temple-places, apparently, and then more generally money warehouses for precious metals. In such places as America (during its time of free-banking) there were plenty of other sorts of warehouses including restaurants, hotels, etc. Many of these issued scrip in the form of receipts. And the receipts were accepted locally. Central banks also issued such scrip. In the modern day, these invoices are seen as "money," though they are no longer redeemable for gold or silver.
Because of legal tender laws and the vast powers of central banks, people seem generally to accept the power and scope of Western banks without much question. This is exactly as it should be in the view of the power elite that has set up the modern system and operates it. There ought to be no question about the functionality of banks. They are, in Willie Sutton's phrase, where the money is. And yet has this always been so? There is this, from Wikipedia, about banking in ancient Rome:
Banking during Roman times was not as we understand banking in modern times. During the Principate the majority of banking activities were conducted by private individuals, and not by large banking corporations that exist today. Moneylending not only allowed for those people who needed money to have access to it, but that through direct transference between bankers, the actual usage of currency was not needed because it could be done purely through financial intermediation.
Large investments were conducted and financed by the faeneratores (trans. financier), whilst those that worked professionally in the money business and were recognised as such were known by various names, such as argentarii (trans. banker), nummularii (trans. money changer), and coactores (trans. debt collector), but the vast majority of money-lenders in the Empire were private individuals, since anybody that had any additional capital and wished to lend it out, could easily do so.
Makes a lot of sense to us. We have noted in numerous articles that banks these days are merely conduits for central bank-created physical and electronic money. The reason for banks is mostly cosmetic. If banks did not exist, then it would be seen that central banks could just as easily distribute "money" directly to people from some central location like a post office. But if central banks did so, receivers would immediately understand the fraud that lies at the heart of modern banking " that there is no real money, only printed paper and electronic digits. For this reason, banks provide the necessary curtain behind which OZ resides.
The other reason for modern banking is to control the money-stuff. The privilege of printing money is an awesome one " literally a God-like power. It must be managed very carefully so people do not see too deeply into the process. Thus, printed money is distributed through various elaborate mechanisms, but mostly through dissemination to chosen "money center" banks. These banks, in turn, determine who gets the privilege of borrowing for various endeavors. The money trickles out, and sometimes (as today) it moves most sluggishly indeed.
It is a well-thought-out and rigorously controlled process. The promotion surrounding the process, as we have written, is quasi-religious. As with all such processes, there are vestments (gray suits), ceremonies (wherein the money-priests meet deep in the heart of the banking temple) and public announcements of what has been decided (proclamations by the major media). Occasionally, the chief central banker himself opines on economic circumstances " usually within the ambit of a carefully controlled public ceremony.
It is also noteworthy that much of the process of central banking has to do with divining the future (impossible of course). But this is an important part of the ritual. Only seers and prophets can foresee what the future holds, and central bankers especially are granted this gift by those around them.
One could go on and on about the religious parallels but you, dear reader, have probably figured them out already. The main point we would make is that all the functions of modern banking could be easily performed by individuals " and in Roman times finance was indeed a private affair. Mostly conducted by the wealthy, apparently, it involved promissory notes and other forms of guarantees that obviated the use of specie. In other words, the Roman system was a lot more sophisticated and liquid than it probably seems today.
There is really no reason why Citicorp has hundreds of thousands of employees. Or why bank headquarters soar in gleaming splendor in city-centers throughout the West. None of it is probably necessary. It is, in fact, for show, a dramatic charade; most involved in the accounting and legal analyses required by banks are unnecessary, the product of regulatory demands (negotiated by the same banks as barriers to entry). In fact the whole industry is unnecessary. It could be privatized entirely, as it is to some degree in the Muslim world (and was in Rome). This is, as we have pointed out many times, one of the reasons that the West is continually attacking the Middle East. Western banking must be globalized before Anglo-American world dominance can be realized.
Conclusion: The article excerpted at the beginning of this analysis points out that "the contraction (of US banking) represents an enduring threat to capital, lending and the economy." As we have tried to show in this article, such a contraction does no such thing. It represents a threat mostly to the perception that banks and banking are indeed necessary in any capacity " other than as warehouses for storing gold and silver. And in the past, most people stored their gold and silver in clay pots in the ground near or within their houses. Was this such a bad idea?
Posted by Dave on 03/17/11 08:27 AM
Aw c'mon DB!
You are still under the delusion that central banking is trying to do us right, but fail in their incompetence. Central banking is a monopolisation of our banking system for the purpose of draining the wealth of a Nation.
They accomplish it by a pumping action. Boom and bust. They gain on each cycle. The important thing for them is that the economy is always moving, either up or down. The last thing they want is stability. When Bernake says,
"the most important lesson of all is that price stability should be a key objective of monetary policy"
that should be a clue, because they always state the opposite of their grievous intention. They work 10 or 20 years out and implment policy to steer an economy. They know which way it is headed long before it happens. Give me a break.
Reply from The Daily Bell
"You are still under the delusion that central banking is trying to do us right, but fail in their incompetence."
This is simply untrue. Toward the bottom of the article we stated the following:
"It is obviously a delicate balancing act; though one could speculate (and we have) that Bernanke et al. are purposefully trying to destabilize the dollar reserve currency to generate conditions more sympathetic to a (non dollar) global currency, perhaps the IMF's SDRs."
This sounds to you as if we are "under a delusion" regarding central banking? Also, we have written probably 500 articles expressing your sentiments - central banking is a kind knowing rapine aimed at draining the middle classes of wealth and generally ruining the nation. It is a theme of ours. But there's a limit (even for us) as to how many times we can repeat it.
Finally, while central banks and central bankers do knowingly hollow out economies there is a limit. You cannot do too much too fast or people will begin to act out and put the system in jeopardy.
So there comes a point where even the most cynical central banker is going to work hard to "stabilize" the economy so that the entire scheme is not wrecked by an angry, out-of-control mob. It is not "slash and burn" all the time, every day. The bias is there as is the intention. But the activities are more nuanced ...
Posted by John Danforth on 03/17/11 08:09 AM
I agree that if the elites become tired of Obama, they will simply put him is a vise by raising rates and pushing everything into a huge recession. It will be game over for him if it isn't already.
The hit to Japan's economy might well be a black swan event that precipitates a worldwide succession of failures. Let's hope not. All actions of government and press seem to be aimed at preventing panic. Not very reassuring.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Ha, you apparently subscribe to the general theory, "Whatever 'they' are suggesting believe the opposite ... "
Posted by JeffC on 03/17/11 07:51 AM
I continue to read article after article, espousing QE as the death of the dollar. Sure, it has taken a hit, but still appears to rebound, when all seems stacked against it. Is this attributable to the fact that there is no viable (safer) alternative?
At this writing, the US dollar index is testing the atmosphere below 76. A level not seen since November. Immediately following the November dip, it rebounded to well over 80.
Is this merely the yo-yo effect caused by Ben's tweaking or a real test to determine who has the stomach to jump off the USD merry-go-round?
Reply from The Daily Bell
Who knows why currencies trade where they do. Austrian analysis gives us the tools to make general assessments about the business cycle and monetary inflation. When central banks print too much money, sooner or later they have to tighten. It's fairly simple.
What is complicated is that never before in the history of humankind has any institution issued currency in bulk - trillions and trillions - as the Fed has in the past few years. This leads to the inevitable conclusion that the tightening this time round will be a good deal worse than ever before and that if it is not prosecuted properly, the price inflation could turn to hyperinflation and lead to the death of the currency itself.
Posted by Denis on 03/17/11 06:39 AM
"If the system dissolves before other arrangements can be made, then the money masters will effectively lose control and the global game will collapse."
Above statement makes the difference between going to gold/silver 100% or remain only partially beacause some SDR's will come into play.
What is DB's stuff opinion or what would you bet on ?
Reply from The Daily Bell
We have no idea what will happen, except that price inflation is surely in the offing. We are only making educated guesses about elite trends ... The Anglosphere seems under more pressure today than it has been in one or two centuries, if that is any help.