Monday, December 15, 2008

Ron Paul and the Great Contraction

Ron Paul has made himself the spokesman of the gold crowd that has maintained a minority position on gold since the War of Independence. He has through his dynamic candidacy brought another generation into that world. It makes enticing reading.

Unfortunately, it is all dangerous rubbish and capable of driving catastrophic financial policy. We today are in the midst of a global credit contraction. That means a global deflation of pricing structures. Or haven’t you noticed?
The first wave is always in commodity prices. Commodities are now busted and the only one with a sustainable upside is oil because we have lost supply elasticity and we are waiting now for the production shoe to drop with disastrous repercussions.

The fact is that the global financial system lent trillions of dollars and now needs to get a lot of it repaid in order to cover accelerating losses, while at the same time shore up their balance sheets to maintain the good loans that they have.

The money that is been printed today on fabulous terms is to replace all this credit that has disappeared.

Let me make this as clear as humanly possible, so that you can understand just how ugly this all is.

If the auto industry defaults on and never pays back fifty billion dollars (not actually very likely) the American financial industry will eat the loss as a capital loss. It will then be unable to lend 500 billion to a trillion dollars to the rest of us, nicely wiping out any benefit from the so called mortgage bailout. You wonder why the industry is hoarding cash and taking its time to reenter the lending market? You would too.

And yes we still have not solved the mortgage problem in the one way that it might be solved as I posted a couple of months ago. Liquidation pressures continue to mount and no bank can solve it alone and the liquidation blowout will continue to destroy bank capital.

The Great Depression wiped out the banking system for exactly the same reason. The Great Contractor is loose and has not been visibly halted yet. We are hoping that the prompt injection of massive liquidity will stem the tide and I believe it should. In this case it must start soon with a major uptick in the volume of house sales to reassure frightened bankers.

Right now, the fed is struggling to prevent a sharp reduction in the real money supply.

The gold crowd’s prescriptions would take us back to a dollar a day, little credit and a financial depression every decade that would keep the population impoverished. I think I will pass.

And yes the auto industry needs to go through the rigors of chapter 11 in order to break their labour contracts so that their costs can match those of their onshore competitors. Otherwise we will revisit this particular disaster and the industry will be in far worse shape and be able to save far fewer jobs. Remember British Leyland.

Ron Paul: Bailouts Will 'Destroy the Dollar'

Thursday, December 11, 2008 12:26 PM

By: Jim Meyers

U.S. Representative and former presidential candidate Ron Paul tells Newsmax that bailouts of U.S. corporations are “bad morally” — and says current federal economic policies “will literally destroy the dollar.”

He also insists that the use of “counterfeit” paper money instead of a gold-backed currency is “insane,” and declares it is “foolhardy” for Barack Obama to propose national health care under the present economic conditions.

The Texas legislator ran for president as the Libertarian candidate in 1988, and sought the Republican presidential nomination beginning in March 2007. He withdrew this past June and did not endorse GOP candidate John McCain.

Asked by Newsmax’s Ashley Martella about the bailouts of Wall Street, the banking industry and apparently the Big Three automakers, Paul — a member of the House Financial Services Committee — said:

“I think we’re going in the wrong direction and I strongly oppose it.

“I find it to be bad economics. I find it bad morally to transfer wealth from one group of people to another no matter what kind of problems they have…

“Lo and behold, the Constitution doesn’t talk much about allowing Congress to go and bail out their friends. So I oppose it from practical and well as philosophic reasons.”

Martella noted that some of the big problems automakers face are union-related, such as commitments to life-long pensions and health care for retired workers.

Paul said the automakers are “sort of trapped because they’ve signed these contracts…

“These commitments, which had been signed onto by the pressure of the unions, which were backed up by law, [have] brought them to their knees.

“If we take the funds from those people who have been more efficient to prop this system up, we’ll never see the correction…

“Excessive labor costs are very very important but the business people, the people who run the car companies, won’t dare say so, or won’t say very much, because they can’t offend the liberals in Congress who are the ones who are going to bail them out.”

Paul said his fellow legislators are “working real hard, we’re working overtime, maybe this weekend we’re going to work real hard to prolong the agony and not allow the market to correct the imbalances.”

Paul has called for abandoning the Federal Reserve System and returning the nation to a gold and silver standard. He told Newsmax why.

“It’s not so much that gold is perfect, it’s that paper is insane. To give politicians and bureaucrats and secret bankers the license to counterfeit money and create money out of thin air is destined to fail, and it has. That’s why we’ve had this financial bubble develop since the linkage to gold has been severed in 1971…

“Now they’re trying desperately to print and spend, but the bubble was overwhelming and the bursting of this bubble is something they can’t contain. It would never happen under a gold standard because there would be no legal right for our central bank to spend money and create money out of thin air. The arrogance of it all is unbelievable.

“If we continue doing what we’re doing now, we will literally destroy the dollar.”

Paul, who is a physician, was critical of Obama’s stated aim of developing a national health care plan. He said: “He has no money. Where is he going to get the money?

“He has no intention of bringing our troops home. He’s talked a little about Iraq, but we’re maintaining a world empire to the tune of a trillion dollars a year. He wants more troops in Afghanistan … You have to save some money someplace.

“So if you want to help some people who are sick, we’ll have to change our foreign policy and bring our troops home.

“I believe that all goods and services in a free society should be by voluntary means and never through government coercion. The more the government’s involved, the more money they spend, and the more they pretend they’re helping, it does but one thing — it pushes prices up.

“When Obama says something like that, somebody in the media someday would have to say, ‘Where are you going to get the money?’ If he’s going to steal it from someone, who is he going to steal from? The producers are hurting. The corporations are bankrupt. There’s no funding.

“Instead of coming back to a balanced budget and living within our means, to propose national health care, and not attack our empire, is just foolhardy and will seal our fate.”

An opponent of the Patriot Act, Paul was asked if he would give any credit to the measure for keeping Americans safe since 9/11.

“No, not really,” he said. “All it’s done is regulate people. We’ve regulated the American people. The people are less free, but the fact that we haven’t had an attack is probably just a coincidence.”

Paul was especially popular on college campuses during his most recent presidential campaign. Martella asked: “Did you sort of feel like a rock star when you spoke to college students?”

Paul responded: “No, not really. I’m pleased that they’re interested in the issue of freedom and individual responsibility, so I’m delighted with that, but I guess the rock star status goes to Obama and others.”

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