“There is no intoxicant more dangerous than cheap money and excessive credit.”
– Benjamin M. Anderson, economist, 1929
SOURCES: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, CoinMarketCap, & Yahoo Finance.
DISCLAIMER: Performance of an index is not illustrative of any particular investment, nor is it possible to invest directly in an index. Figures above may not account for expenses and fees.
It’s official: CoViD-19 is a financial, health, and social crisis.
“Big Brother” in Washington is back making another intervention in the economy fiscally and monetarily with backing and funding of $3 Trillion authorized by Congress up to this point. In an effort to fight the pandemic through using their full range of tools including emergency lending powers and near zero interest rates employed by the Federal Reserve to try and hit their maximum employment as well as price stability goals, a V-shaped recovery seems to be underway despite the possibility of a second wave of coronavirus threatening current predictions on the economy bouncing back fully as states optimistically begin to re-open their businesses in the coming weeks. The Federal Reserve also as part of their CARES Act setup a new broad-based bond buying program with purchases of government-backed and mortgage-backed securities that they hope will accommodate economic conditions with over 20 million people displaced from the labor market so far.
Markets around the world are still grappling with the changing realities and “New Normal” after getting blindsided by a massive correction in asset prices that triggered a rush to cash ensuing from the global pandemic of CoViD-19. The chart above shows the year-to-date performance of various assets and markets as well as uses publicly available statistics relating to the Federal Reserve’s total assets on its balance sheet by displaying its Wednesday level of weekly asset purchases (less eliminations from consolidation), which more or less demonstrates the effect that our central bank’s hardworking money printer has on each asset or index with bitcoin making quick strides to outperform the rest.
The money created to boost and stimulate businesses as well as individuals is largely resulting in a dislocation of risk assets from the actual economy with its own serious issues as we are about to witness serious inequalities in wealth because of toying with ideas like Modern Monetary Theory and Universal Basic Income that are trying to become a part of this “New Normal” campaign that may change our lives culturally, economically, ideologically, politically, and socially forever.
SOURCE: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), M2 Money Stock [M2SL], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Link, May 20, 2020. Chart date range from January 1, 1998 to present. Shaded areas indicate U.S. recessions.
These type of monetary trials our government is allowing would have been labeled as Socialist in prior decades, or put plainly as “un-American,” and considering the size and scope of the money printing to fund these recent government handouts it would have been joked about as a surefire way to wreck the economy. Plus, the cavalier attitude the Federal Reserve has for summoning money “out of thin air” by simply marking up each member bank’s account in their private database is concerning and should be perceived as financial black magic in particular when it is impossible for the public to audit them.
Furthermore, it is particularly worrying the Federal Reserve slashed the ratio of Required Reserves for Depository Institutions to hold on hand to zero. Meaning now instead of being able to loan out 20 some dollars for every 1 held in deposit, each depository institution now can legally loan out as much money as they wish without actually having any money in the bank’s vault so it is created digitally for their reserves perpetually making the money supply larger. Reinforcing the exclusive control over the creation of money that seems eerily similar to Rule #11 on the popular board game with imitation money literally named, “Monopoly.”
SOURCE: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Assets: Total Assets: Total Assets (Less Eliminations From Consolidation): Wednesday Level [WALCL], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Link, May 20, 2020. Chart date range from December 12, 2002 to present. Shaded areas indicate U.S. recessions.
Clever financial maneuvers allowing for the creation of more and more money provided as additional liquidity so that banks remain solvent and moreover keep the economy alive by providing businesses loans to give them enough cash flow to “keep the lights on” or post positive earnings numbers to “keep the music going” are a danger to our free market and common sense American Capitalism. Optimistically, these injections allow a positive effect to take place on the small-to-medium sized businesses as well as companies publicly listed on our stock market by keeping them afloat with “cheap money” to keep propping up the entire economy while saying nothing about keeping a historic bull market alive.
The truth is these central banks’ lending facilities and programs are not new mechanisms in financial engineering because many of them were employed during the previous crises to take the global markets off life support after collapsing from decades of too much easy money sloshing around the banking system. While interest rates were falling, the “easy money” flowing around the economy was inducing an irrational exuberance as well as rampant speculation in housing and stock markets which lead to the wanton lending eventually drying up when credit markets suddenly froze from news of government intervention as well as stiff regulations coming through the pipeline following a long series of predatory industry practices rife with moral hazard.
Today, we are seeing the opposite and will have too much lending that will end up saturating the monetary bases to the point that it will create inflationary headwinds for fiat currencies and likely be the tailwind for risk assets predominately with fixed supplies such as bitcoin or gold.
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Unemployment Rate [UNRATE], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Link, May 20, 2020. NASDAQ OMX Group, NASDAQ Composite Index [NASDAQCOM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Link, May 20, 2020. Chart date range from January 1, 1998 to present. Shaded areas indicate U.S. recessions.
Despite the crumbling of our actual economy as unemployment reaches levels not seen since The Great Depression with claims reaching 2008’s peak in just two months time, stimulus programs are back with a vengeance doing their best to keep the market artificially inflated and stocks staging a recoveries back to all-time-highs with mountains of money being readily supplied by our central bank’s operations in hopes of stimulating life back into institutions that otherwise would have failed in a free market without the government.
According to Arbor Trading & Research and Bloomberg, there are nearly 2.2 million individuals – or about 2 percent of the total workforce – with a high concentration employed at energy, hospitality, industrial, leisure, technology, and restaurant companies that are still operating yet being unable to pay off their debt making them “zombie companies.” Much of the money in these bailouts and lending facilities is being used to prevent insolvencies as well as buoy the markets and financial system leading people to the realization that they are second-class citizens compared to the banks and “Walking Dead”-like corporations (just looking at the proportions of the CARES Act) making them wonder, “Does it need to come at the cost of good old fashioned free market American Capitalism?” It is detestable how these politicians keep encouraging the expansion of these programs to make sure stock market keeps going up while it benefits their private interests groups as well as own fortunes as they are simultaneously widening the wealth gap.
Democrat or Republican, both sides are conveniently ignoring the fact that these financial measures come at the expense of future generation’s wealth with their children, grandchildren, and so forth having to pay off all the interest and servicing all the debt of the older generations in office before them.
SOURCE: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Federal Debt: Total Public Debt as Percent of Gross Domestic Product [GFDEGDQ188S], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Link, May 20, 2020. Chart date range from January 1, 1998 to present. Shaded areas indicate U.S. recessions.
As the federal deficit widens further with the money being used to shore up and sustain a lackluster economic landscape, it is harming Americans in two ways: either a loss in purchasing power from monetary debasement from the incredible amount of money printing, OR they lose funding that would have otherwise been used to clean the environment, build new roads while fixing old ones, access to free public broadband WiFi, and help schools deliver a quality education among all of the other great things it could have been spent on alternatively.
The banknotes in the United States have the words “In God We Trust” printed onto the backs of them as if He had control over the value they carry besides the officials and politicians who are meeting in private behind closed doors of the boardrooms actually making those decisions. A core argument against bitcoin is the volatility associated with its price but it doesn’t get enough credit for its accessibility, auditability, divisibility, liquidity, portability, scarcity, security, and 99.98% network up time (higher than Amazon, Facebook, and Google) that should it ever become the backing of the United States Dollar should make us consider changing the famous phrasing on the back of them to instead say, “In Code We Trust.”
SOURCE: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Monetary Base; Total [BOGMBASEW], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Link, May 20, 2020. Chart date range from January 1, 1998 to present. Shaded areas indicate U.S. recessions.
Bitcoin’s demand is mainly driven by its verifiable trust in the creation of a finite 21 million total coins that are minted on a deflationary basis with a predetermined schedule over the next hundred years dictated by an algorithm rather than blindly trusting in an inflationary, unpredictable system with an infinite supply dictated by a cabal of bureaucrats who pass through the “revolving door” of Wall Street and Washington moving back-and-forth from high power banking positions to exclusive positions in government and politics. Bitcoin is a global network that is open 24 hours, 7 days a week with a market of buyers and sellers finding a price at market equilibrium with their own self-interests in mind at any given moment without any central body governing it, just a protocol.
Making it the freest market in the world by efficiently allowing peers that are unknown to each other the ability to barter as well as reach an agreement about bitcoin’s value without being confined by a cadre of intermediares, exchange trading hours, market circuit breakers, untimely back-office settlements, and rent-seeking middlemen charging superfluous fees.
SOURCE: Coinbase, Coinbase Bitcoin [CBBTCUSD], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Link, May 20, 2020. Chart date range from March 14, 2015 to present.
While the purchasing power of the dollar has gotten obliterated by debasement and inflation, it feels as if $20 today buys what $5 did a decade ago and could help explain why most older folk’s stories detail how cheap everything used to be “back in their day.” Judging from its limited history, bitcoin has the opposite effect where $5 in bitcoin a decade ago feels like should be worth much, much more than $20 today.
It is developing an interesting investment hypothesis where bitcoin is viewed as a store-of-value or method for savings as well as wealth creation over the long-term with a good probability of it earning more dollars potentially as the money supply will have gotten so large that it becomes detrimental to their purchasing power versus bitcoin’s since it will only become exceedingly more scarce thus more valuable compared to fiat currencies like United States Dollars if demand continues to rise for fixed, non-sovereign digital assets similar to bitcoin.
SOURCE: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Velocity of M2 Money Stock [M2V], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Link, May 20, 2020. Chart date range from January 1, 1998 to present. Shaded areas indicate U.S. recessions.
The velocity of money is dropping considerably in this new millennium suggesting people who are earning basically no interest on it in their savings accounts are under the impression they would acquire more value or preserve their wealth by investing it rather than truly spending and transacting with it in the economy. Fiat currency inflation is a tax on savers that makes the poor more poor and the rich more rich.
Inflation influences people into spending more on investments too. Economic and social media trends tied into recent events are pointing out that money is not being used in the economy as much as it is being invested, and it majorly accelerated after the government issued stimulus checks to many anxious retail investors with little else to gamble on with the moratorium on most sporting events.
It also may be an indication of the loss of trust that people have for our government and financial institutions as their incompetence and irresponsibility has become quite apparent even in these modern times.
SOURCE: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, St. Louis Fed Financial Stress Index [STLFSI2], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Link, May 20, 2020. Chart date range from January 1, 1998 to present. (The baseline, zero, is viewed as representing normal financial market conditions and negative values suggest below-average financial market stress while positive values suggest above-average financial market stress.) Shaded areas indicate U.S. recessions.
It is tough to blame people for being weary of our government and financial institutions judging their actions responding to past crises.
Given their past failings after seeing President Richard Nixon unhook the U.S. Dollar’s backing from gold and observing a so-called wealth management visionary and former NASDAQ chairman named Bernard “Bernie” Madoff with close ties to financial watchdogs mastermind the biggest Ponzi scheme in history to the tune of tens of billions, might make for a couple of convincing examples of why multiple generations might be losing faith in them. In the bailout boondoggle of 2008, the largest institutions in the world were bailed out while working class Americans lost their life savings in an utter betrayal ensuring that the wealthiest faction of the population kept receiving huge bonus checks and throwing lavish parties at the taxpayer’s expense.
Money by and large has lost its meaning since that time and become less tied into reality as it has become far more digital with its increasing issuance by the Federal Reserve. The long-term stability of the United States Dollar is especially concerning since there is not a reserve requirement currently capping the amount of money that any ordinary bank can conjure from nothing.
SOURCE: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Venezuela / U.S. Foreign Exchange Rate [DEXVZUS], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Link, May 20, 2020. Chart date range from December 31, 2018 to present.
The economics of expanding the currency base at a exponentially increasing rates is not good for its value, just ask any Venezuelan how they witnessed their country’s currency comparatively become worthless as a result of socioeconomic and political crises leading to hyperinflation. Bitcoin’s supply dynamics are unrivaled by fiat currency since it has programmatic scarcity built-in plus its advantage of an unknown pseudo-anonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, who disappeared mysteriously online and holds no influence over the network other than a potential cache of a million coins that have yet to be moved.
At the pace the United States Dollar is heading, it may not be so farfetched to think that it is possible for the world’s reserve currency to experience hyperinflation too considering the current leadership looks upon corrupt dictatorships with a certain fondness presenting bitcoin an attractive, uncorrelated asset opportunity to hedge against inflation and political uncertainty.
SOURCE: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Currency in Circulation [CURRCIR], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Link, May 20, 2020. Chart date range from August 1, 1917 to present.
This month many bitcoin-ers celebrated Crypto de Mayo in full force with Bitcoin’s third halving event in its history with the mining reward dropping from 12.5 bitcoin per block to 6.25 bitcoin per block until it halves again in about 4 years time or another 210,000 blocks.
It was mostly a non-event besides the entertaining tidbit in the codebase of the block preceding the 630,000th including a New York Times headline from April 9th this year entitled, “With $2.3T Injection, Fed’s Plan Far Exceeds 2008 Rescue.” That headline being mentioned was significant because it’s an homage to Satoshi’s genesis block, the first block ever mined or 0 out of X blocks, on Bitcoin’s proof-of-work chain that originally included another headline in its codebase from The Times on January 3rd, 2009 saying, “Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.”
Simply, bitcoin is minted less and less over time until there is a total of 21 million coins released into circulation without any sort of bailouts, emergency lending powers, or quantitative easing. It is what it is.
SOURCE: Systemic Bliss Research
Despite having high hopes prices would skyrocket following the recent halving (admittedly having some of my own), it demonstrates how bitcoin is still a belief system much like any other currency that has their value derived from its supply and demand if it is not pegged to the value of another asset. Regardless of the deluge of new United States Dollars pouring into the system, bitcoin probably will not begin to really soar in price until the country gradually comes around to realize that they are drowning in liquidity.
The rising stock of the world reserve currencies causing inflation will drive demand for digital assets with controlled or fixed supplies such as bitcoin or hard assets for example like gold, silver, and real estate to a degree that all are presenting an opportunity for serious wealth preservation and protection in purchasing power relative to a basket of world reserve currencies.
SOURCE: Systemic Bliss Research
One major paradigm shift in the 21st century most probably will be the leap and transition away from debt-based money towards math-based money. Personal freedom and privacy to a large extent have been losing battles with encroaching efforts by nation states as well as monopolistic companies and corporations commodifying the personal data of citizens and users, which only makes matters worse as the banking industry has already been co-opted by our state to adopt practices that gives them unlimited and ultimate control over the personal finances of every American with the power of garnishing their funds, freezing accounts, or stopping transactions.
Bitcoin outshines gold and greenbacks due to the liberty inherent to it by design because users holding their own private keys have taken back control without the need of a “trusted” custodian or institution that may otherwise implement asset seizures, blocks on transactions, charge exorbitant fees, limit withdrawals, or subject people to strict regulatory measures in an attempt to stifle the adoption and growth for its application and use as a medium of exchange, store of value, and unit of account.
SOURCE: Systemic Bliss Research
The image above provides a visual representation of the difference between what a one million dollar “coin” looks like between gold and bitcoin, and it helps illuminate the advantages and disadvantages for one over the other. Ironically, the giant gold coin pictured is one of six coins ever minted and was stolen out of a Berlin museum in March 2017 highlighting its vulnerability to physical theft.
Gold can be costly and expensive to store, not to mention, certificates on its reserves can be easily faked whereas bitcoin is relatively cheaper, simpler, and more verifiable as well as secure with practically anyone with just a computer or mobile phone being capable of seizing custody of their bitcoin’s private key using best practices such as cold storage and two-factor-authentication to create a strong security measures to protect their funds from hackers or thieves.
SOURCE: CNBC (Link to above for the full article.)
Circling back to Venezuela, according to court documents this month its central bank is entrenched in a dispute with the Bank of England over the return of $1B worth of gold that it is holding for them who wants to use the reserves to fund its pandemic response. Exemplifying concerns over the reliability and trust of central banks who are custodians as well as the “lenders of last resort” who are showing they do not always comply with their obligations or requests by foreign governments in the most challenging and uncertain times and it is making citizens around the world question where they stand as well as who the central banks are really defending.
How much longer can trust be maintained for financial institutions and a system that prioritizes banks and companies over people as well as fails to act in good faith along with track records of corruption, incompetence, and mismanagement?
The pandemic has effectively pulled back the veil for many investors, seeing who was swimming naked “when the tides goes out.” Traders young and old are realizing even the most prophetic names on Wall Street were not as masterful and mighty as they might have otherwise been historically after their earnings calls and performance for the first quarter of this year. It has put a chilling effect on value investing with the likes of Warren Buffet going against his own advice and taking a bath on bad investments like airline stocks all while his stockpile of cash has never been bigger.
Traditionally, successful investors only needed to have two things: diversification and patience. Investing in stock market indexes was touted as the most practical strategy often by the “Oracle of Omaha” for anyone looking for a passive strategy rather than having to actively managing one’s own investments day-to-day. His methods have come under scrutiny as of late by even some unconventional critics like Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports.
Younger and more inexperienced traders, arguably degenerate gamblers, are recognizing the opportunity to move into a market with money pouring in the system from the central bank after learning the sage advice of Wall Street saying, “Don’t fight the Fed.” It could be said there is also a fear of missing out on another potentially huge opportunity like buying stocks at the bottom in 2009. After the past couple of financial crises, older and more wealthy generations are less willing to take on such risk with their retirement money so it may jeopardize the future value and viability of passive investing and leave the hungry young stock market scions holding worthless portfolios in the end after being led to believe, “Stonks only go up.”
Changes in demographic and economic trends are inspiring various funds as well as investors commonly referred to as “smart money” like a16z (Andreessen Horowitz), Renaissance Technologies flagship Medallion hedge fund, and Paul Tudor Jones to make headlines that they investing in bitcoin directly if not its derivatives.
Paul Tudor Jones even went so far to say in his investor letter The Great Monetary Inflation,
“Bitcoin reminds me of gold when I first got in the business in 1976…”
These public announcements of late are significant for an industry that is not always vocal about their decisions due to the career and reputation risk aside from being fearful of being in bad company by doing so. Considering the headwinds that the United States Dollar is facing with looming inflation, the smart money knows it produces a real opportunity for hard assets like bitcoin and the market for investment-grade crypto assets as a whole to outperform other asset classes into the foreseeable future if trajectories continue going upwards for the issuance of fiat currencies that threatens putting them all “up in smoke.”
Economists and investors who are as savvy as they are sophisticated have begun rethinking their bias and resistance towards bitcoin and crypto assets because of the monetary and fiscal policies being enacted that are known to be destructive to the value and stability of our nation’s currency.
Our relationship with money has gotten so complicated due to the private interests of a small faction of the population holding such a high concentration of wealth with lobbyists and politicians eager to accept their campaign contributions as well as appoint officials willing to layout guidelines and guardrails so that it further enriches them and increases their own purchasing power by allowing more affluent and experienced investors to participate in early investing rounds with cheaper shares than when they go public in lieu of smaller investors boxing them out of the best investments respectively.
In addition, the acceptance and passage of legislation to continually create more dollar bills, digitally or physically, fosters a conflict of interest in our nation’s capitol that rewards poor decision making with lucrative jobs, material wealth, or influence which is why many around the world believe that bitcoin as a border-less, leader-less, and nation-less asset with a fixed supply has the only real shot at a Separation of Money and State.
SOURCE: Systemic Bliss Research using data from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Recent Balance Sheet Trends, Link, May 20, 2020. Diagram date range from 1913 to present, each square represents roughly 100 Billion dollars that comes to a total of about $7 Trillion dollars.
Our central bank and government’s duplicity lies in their privatization of gains and socialization of losses, specifically financially engineering unethical schemes for the “Too Big To Fail” banks to pick winners and losers in corporate bailouts as well as producing economic stimulus efforts that puts the burden on ordinary citizens losing their jobs and/or the value of their hard earned life savings in the process. Money printing mania sweeping across the globe keeps asset values artificially inflated, which helps the wealthy stay disproportionately wealthy from simply holding diverse portfolios of scarce assets whose values rise in comparison to the fiat currencies with increasing monetary bases destroying their value and purchasing power relatively.
The Separation of Money and State is the only logical solution to adopt and prevent class warfare because a decentralized financial system could effectively address the problems undermining the integrity of our current global financial system as well as would advance our capabilities as citizens, humans, and nations by embracing bitcoin as the reserve currency of the world since it’s the hardest and most honest as well as transparent form of money there is in the entire world.
“We’re not out of ammunition by a long shot.”
– Jerome Powell (Appearing on CBS’s 60 Minutes airing May 17, 2020)
Easy money benefits the banks and bankers, they borrow from the Federal Reserve at 0.5% to then turn around and generate 3.5% on that money through Treasuries (at least until rates begin to rise) generating more money for themselves “risk-free” while you must borrow at higher rates and take on additional risk to achieve the same return. Hard money on the contrary benefits society and the people by not allowing an aristocratic group to enrich themselves through coercing their cronies to use the nation’s money printer to do so.
It’s time to make the hard decision of turning our easy money problem into our advantage by using it to solve for the hard money solution, or “Plan B” rather, and start backing our newly minted currencies with bitcoin that is held in reserve for the wealth of all nations and peoples in a new free, global, and transparent macro economy.
If we have learned anything from this ensuing debacle this year, it has been to not trust in any institution public or private with too much fidelity since they have not been as forthcoming with us as we may have hoped.
After assessing the tweet above and its following thread, the current president and his administration are either ignorant to the truth that the United States Dollar the currency of choice for drug trafficking, money launders, and criminals in general because there is no public ledger of any transaction that would be available to anyone around global like Bitcoin, OR, the more likely scenario being he and his colleagues in the nation’s capitol know its superiority and fear its disruptive power to many of their biggest donors and political contributors plus own influence as well as sway in spite of the Federal Reserve claiming independence.
Hence, it is only appropriate that people reassess their biases against bitcoin and do their homework on reclaiming their sovereignty and peacefully protesting against the dog and pony show in Washington D.C. by adopting bitcoin as well as its principles including decentralization and taking the necessary steps to “becoming your own bank” by securely backing up and storing your private keys for safekeeping in cold-storage wallets.
Governments have authorized the seizure of citizen’s gold before to back their failing currency with it, so don’t think that it won’t do the same with bitcoin when the time comes that the dollar loses its world reserve status.
The question remains, “Will you continue to trust in corruptible intermediaries, institutions, or third-parties with the safekeeping of your money as well as the preservation of its value who have been debasing it for a long time coming, or, will you seize back control over it by protecting it with allocating a small portion that you’re willing to lose in bitcoin and other crypto assets?”
It may be more harmful NOT holding any than it might be to forgo it, think about just dipping in toe before taking the full dive.
To the moon, and all the best!
“A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Governments in the civilized world no longer a Government by free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of men.”
– President Woodrow Wilson (Quoted in “National Economy and the Banking System,” Senate Documents Co. 3, No. 23, 76th Congress, 1st session, 1939.)
SCHUSTER: You simply flooded the system with money?
POWELL: Yes, we did. That’s another way to think about it, we did.
SCHUSTER: Where does it come from, do you just print it?
POWELL: We print it digitally. So we, uh, you know, as a central bank have the ability to create money digitally, and we do that by buying Treasury Bills, or Bonds, or other government guaranteed securities. And that actually increases the money supply. We also print actual currency and we distribute that through the Federal Reserve banks.
Chair Powell’s full 60-minute interview transcript available here.