You Will Be Poor

There has been a progression through each iteration of monetary theft. A trial balloon launches, usually from academia, which proposes an “innovation” contrary to reigning practice and orthodoxy. A curmudgeonly minority reject it; the majority, securing their places on the intellectual fashion forefront, excoriate the old and after a suitable time for faux consideration and discussion, embrace the new.

The public, insufficiently appreciative of the arcane language, abstruse reasoning, and self-evident erudition and brilliance of the experts, sometimes presents an obstacle. It was hostile towards the US’s first foray into monetary theft: central banking. The anti-central bank contingent won battles for 137 years, but lost the war in 1913. J.P. Morgan and cronies laid the intellectual groundwork: conferences, scholarly papers, legislative proposals, and a Greek chorus of the day’s one-percenters singing at the top of their lungs that America needed to join the civilized world and establish its own central bank.

If you understand the main purpose of central banks, then notwithstanding obfuscatory “Fedspeak,” endless media drivel, and academics’ Greek-letter-laden equations, you know all you need to know about these larcenous institutions. They exist to make it easier for governments to steal, and everything else is window dressing. Gold is finite and requires real resources to find, mine, and mint; central banks’ fiat debt can be produced in infinite quantities at virtually zero cost and exchanged for the government’s fiat debt.

Substitute central bank “notes” for gold and the resources available to the government expand dramatically. It can, in conjunction with the central bank, conjure its own money. Couple a central bank with 1913’s other “innovation”—the income tax—and lovers of government had the wherewithal for their fondest dreams, one of which was American empire. World War I, the US’s first involvement in Europe’s wars, followed close after 1913’s depredations, notwithstanding President Wilson’s vow to stay out in his 1916 reelection campaign.

Franklin Roosevelt and Richard Nixon completed the switch from a gold-backed currency to fiat debt. After Nixon slammed shut the gold window in August, 1971, there have been no legal constraints (aside from the farcical debt ceiling) on either the creation of government debt or Federal Reserve purchases of that debt. The only constraints are political and those policy makers and central bank bureaucrats impose upon themselves, in other words none.

Whatever jolt debt monetization once might have given the economy has disappeared since the economy reached debt saturation before the last financial crisis. The increasing debt burden is slowing rather than promoting economic growth, and will soon, if it has not already, stop and reverse it. Elevation of financial asset and real estate prices (aka “bubble blowing”) supposedly promotes wealth effects that trickle down to the broader economy. The claim was dubious when first made during the housing bubble. Rising wealth inequality since then has revealed its absurdity. Whatever debt-based speculative “wealth” has been created has gone mostly to the financially well-connected who can borrow at negligible rates.

Quantitative easing was an application from central banking’s conventional tool kit—debt monetization—although its magnitude and global scale were unprecedented. More recent central bank “innovations”—zero and negative interest rates (ZIRP and NIRP) and now, proposed bans on cash—amount to outright theft. It is doubtful that even proponents believe their owntransparently phony rationalizations for these measures. ZIRP and NIRP destroy the return on saving while rewarding debtors. And who are the world’s biggest debtors? Profligate governments, who are financing their unsustainable improvidence at history’s lowest interest rates and picking the pockets of individuals, companies, pension funds, insurance companies, and other entities that must generate a reasonable safe current return to meet future liabilities.

Proposed bans on cash, or even active discouragement of its use, are the next milestone in governmental larceny. Once all “money” (a misnomer, it’s really debt; there has been no “real money” in the global financial system since 1971) is forced into the banking system, it doesn’t take much imagination or foresight to see what comes next. The civil liberties’ implications of the government keeping track of everyone’s money and how it’s spent are of course ominous. However, the main reason the government wants financial assets confined to the banking and financial system is so that it can purloin them. Once bank accounts, brokerage accounts, insurance accounts, pension funds, and other easy-to monitor repositories of financial assets become the only stores of value, the government can partially or wholly nationalize—steal—assets and perhaps the repositories themselves.

At every juncture, the government runs into the self-defeating consequences of its policies, ongoing larceny threatens future larceny. Increase debt, taxes, and regulation enough and the economy collapses, putting a dent in government’s revenues. Nobody worries about grandpa and grandma eating cat food because ZIRP and NIRP deprive them of retirement income, but when those policies threaten the solvency of the insurance industry and pension funds and the government may be called upon to bail them out, it’s cause for concern. Any future moves by central banks to raise interest rates will be driven by that unacknowledged concern.

The financial system as a whole is heavily leveraged, its liabilities are many times its equity. Economic collapse would wipe out financial system equity, as it did in 2008, whether deposits are forced to stay in the system or not. The government has no equity to wipe out. Forced to stay, deposits will be expropriated by the government for its benefit or the benefit of the financial repositories (so-called bail-ins). That’s obviously only a one-time expedient that will temporarily forestall, but not prevent, ultimate insolvency for either the government or the financial system.

Governments can outlaw or seize any asset, including cash, precious metals, real estate, chattels, overseas accounts, or intellectual property. In its desperate rapacity nothing is off the table. For individuals, reducing deposits within the financial system and converting them to precious metals or cash while ownership is still legal makes some sense. However, outlawing the former has the weight of Roosevelt’s 1933 precedent, and outlawing the latter is under consideration, so their value as mediums of exchange may be set in the black markets that will inevitably arise as the government continues to expand its destructive domination of the economy.

Absent the kind of collective, preemptive measures described in “Revolution in America” to leverage the government and financial system’s indebtedness, bankrupting them before they bankrupt us, your assets are sitting ducks. If inertia, wishful thinking, the “you go first” problem, and fear of legal consequences prevent the revolutionary initiative, the government will still give up the ghost…but not before it makes you poor.

The sole capital that is 100 percent safe is intellectual capital: what you know. They can’t nationalize self-reliance and your self may be the only one on which you can rely. If you have not already started, expanding your knowledge of skills useful in a time of collapse and chaos would be well-advised.

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Robert Gore

Robert Gore was born in 1958 in Livermore, California. He grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where both his parents worked for the Los Alamos National Laboratory. His undergraduate education was at UCLA. He graduated in 1980 summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a double major in economics and political science. He completed the JD/MBA program at UC Berkeley in 1984. He held part-time jobs throughout undergraduate and graduate school. He passed the bar exam and is an inactive member of the California Bar Association. Mr. Gore’s career in finance began in 1984 with a bank in San Francisco, trading municipal bonds. In 1985, he went to a Wall Street firm’s west coast municipal bond office in Los Angeles as a bond trader. He developed its block and institutional sales capabilities and after four years was promoted to manager of the region.