It's close to Halloween, so why not one in basic economics? Here goes. Fact # 1: No currency in the entire world is backed by anything, be it precious metals, mulberry leaves, scrap metal, copper, acreage, or cotton thread. All currencies in the world, including the Swiss Franc, are merely pieces of paper with various inscriptions, engravings of local heroes or presidents, famous buildings, or something which attempts to give confidence to the users. This is a first. At no time previous to maybe 1971, or even later perhaps, has there been a single currency in the entire world which was un-backed by SOMETHING.
Suppose you needed money, and you lived next door to me. I had a printing press in the basement, and was turning out counterfeit hundred dollar bills. I offered to loan you $10,000, which I ran off of my press. You were delighted, but turned a bit sour when I asked for interest on the loan. "But you created the hundred dollar bills out of nothing," was your argument.
"So What? They spent, didn't they? You paid your bills with them, didn't you? If you went to the bank and borrowed hundred dollar bills, they would want interest, wouldn't they? Their hundred dollar bills were created out of nothing also. So why shouldn't I be entitled to interest as well?" The argument is so basic, that I am preaching to the choir, and I know it. However new people read my drivel each week, so it may be new to them. But now to the horror story for Halloween.
Since no currency is worth anything, other than the paper on which it is printed, how is it that the economies of the world continue to grow and flourish? That's a good question. War is a very profitable business, and when there is no war, governments always figure out a way to have a war. FDR was in a quagmire over the Great Depression, and everything he tried to do, failed. He spent hundreds of millions creating jobs, which cleared out forests, built new post offices, and gave handouts to the needy. He built thousands of government buildings, and hired artists to paint pictures and carve wonderful statues out of the purest marble to decorate public buildings. He created new cabinet positions, which hired tens of thousands of people to shuffle papers and do basically worthless work, other than harass the rest of us. He built the entire "Federal Triangle" of buildings, which are between 14th St, 6th St, Constitution and Pennsylvania Aves. in downtown D.C. These buildings are architecturally wonderful, and stand today in stark contrast to the orange crates piled on top of each other, which foolish, tasteless, talentless architects have built by the thousands since then, in all cities around the world.
The depression continued, in spite of FDR's spending. Actually, considering the value of the dollar in FDR's time, compared to today's dollar, which is worth 95% less, he actually outspent Bush. Still, the depression continued. What to do? "Let's see now, Germany has betrayed its treaty with Russia, and England is fighting Germany. I'll send arms to England, which will outrage the Germans, and maybe they'll declare war on us. (They did). Then, I'll deny Japan the use of the Panama Canal, and stop selling them scrap steel, and cut off their oil too, and maybe they'll do something rash." (They did). It worked. America was quickly out of the Great Depression, and we were in a gigantic war, which was hugely profitable to everyone…except the 362,000 dead Americans, of course.
WW II destroyed the manufacturing ability of Japan, England, Germany, and for that matter, most of the world. America was left with factories steel mills, and lots of natural resources. Whoopee. FDR was long dead, and his successors have managed to keep the good old military-industrial complex going quite nicely, haven't they? The economy, in spite of the actual facts of the matter, seems to be working, even though it isn't. Isn't? Not quite. America has huge debts to everyone, including domestic debts of trillions of dollars. It has record foreclosures, record credit card debt. There were no credit cards to speak of 50 years ago, and to buy a home, one had to fork over a 20% down-payment. No more. So we owe everyone, and far too many are skimming along with no savings, and lots of payments.
Suppose the rest of the world is in the same predicament as is America and its citizens? Suppose in America, opinions change swiftly? Opinions about how wonderful it all is. Picture a home owner, who for decades has loved his home, kept it well painted and clean, with wonderful furniture, a swimming pool, and lovely garden and lawn. One day, as he was walking to his bedroom, his foot went through the floor, and he discovered that termites had been eating his home over the years. Munch, munch, munch, and all he noted were these peculiar "flying ants" every spring. Had he known that termite queens looked like flying ants, he might have taken steps to protect his lovely home. As it was, his home had become structurally unsound, thanks to hidden munching termites. (Termites have to have access to water, so they need to get into the ground, or they die.)
Aren't the world's currencies like a termite ridden home? Not to stretch a point, but think about it. All looks fine. All is wonderful, except for a few chunks such as huge consumer and government debt and shaky real estate. But the Chinese and others keep buying our debt, and we keep buying their merchandise. The military-industrial complex is in high gear, and the guns, planes, and bombs keep coming off the assembly lines. Government issued statistics look very encouraging, and they say unemployment is down, with lots of new jobs being created. The Dow is breaking records, so what could possibly go wrong?
Suppose government statistics were discovered to be wrong, misleading, and actual lies, designed to keep the public happy? Suppose governments around the world were cooking books and statistics? Suppose, all the paper shuffling, stock manipulations, publicity, media cover-ups, and other baloney, were gradually thrown out with the garbage, by more and more people, till the balance was upset? (Did you know that the average worker on Wall Street makes $300,000 a year?) If even 25% of America woke up, our economy would be over. The rest of the world? If we go, they go too, in my opinion.
So here's the world's 'reserve' currency, which isn't worth a shovel full of sand, except by law, we have to use it, and most ignoramuses think the buck is glorious. More and more are waking up, and that is a fact. No one wants to think of a world-wide economic collapse, or even an American one, but is it too far-fetched an idea to even consider? The militarism goes on, and even if the republicans lose, it will continue. Don't you really think that the D.C. Gang knows that the entire 'prosperity' is razor thin? Don't you think that the Fed knows the game could be over eventually, due to the fact that dollars by the trillions are running off the presses each year? Isn't it obvious that Bush spending $230 million to re-build the Lebanon that Israel destroyed, might just drive another itty bitty small nail in the American coffin?
On May 12th, in Peoria Illinois, the Department of Justice threw out a tax evasion case with prejudice, meaning that it can never again be re-opened. It never went to trial. They didn't want it to go to trial, because the publicity could have caused mass evasion of the unconstitutional tax. The defense was that the 1040 form is illegal, and in violation of the 44U.S.C. 3500-3520 Act, also known as the "Paperwork Reduction Act." According to 3512 of the Act, no federal form is legal unless it has an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number, and the 1040 doesn't. Then there is the film "From Freedom to Fascism," which is playing in theatres across America, which says there is no law requiring payment of income taxes, with but a few exceptions. Suppose millions of Americans stop paying? This would be another nail.
Suppose the real estate bust continues, as I think it will, and have been predicting for two years now, and we have millions upon millions of foreclosures on farms and homes. Remember the dust bowl and Great Depression, when there were millions of homeless and people selling apples on street corners? If the dollar fails, and the only thing keeping it from failing is propaganda and lies; hundreds of millions of Americans will have lost their savings, because 99% of Americans, if they manage to save at all, save in dollars. If the wealthy are holders of paper dollars and paper dollar instruments, and the paper dollar fails, where is the robust economy we all seem to witness now? I admit that when I start writing, I get carried away, and my two fingers just dance over the keyboard. Sorry, but for god's sake, protect yourself with something other than papers of all kinds.
Don Stott has been a precious metals dealer since 1977, has written five books, hundreds of columns, and his web site is www.coloradogold.com