Posts Tagged ‘hyperinflation’

Preparing for Civil War Two

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Many reactionaries compare today’s America to the latter days of the Roman Republic, reflect on the excellence of the early Roman empire, and hope for a military coup that ends the corrupt and decadent American republic, replacing it with disciplined imperium.

The reigns of the five good Roman emperors illustrate that the reign of stationary bandit, an absolute dictator secure in his power, fearing neither votes nor coups nor riot nor military insurrection, is a pretty good system.  He has an incentive to shear the sheep, but not flay them, while other forms of government tend to flaying.  Observe that taxes on the rich are everywhere far above the Laffer limit, and in many places, such as Greece, taxes on the working poor are far above the Laffer limit.

Unfortunately such a tranquil transition seems improbable, for every officer above company grade in the US army is selected not only for political correctness, but, more importantly, for lack of military competence.  The Cathedral fears losing a war with the US military far more than it fears the US military losing a war with some external enemy.  A successful coup requires a leader who commands a reasonable level of respect from the junior officers. Being such a potential coup maker absolutely disqualifies officers for promotion above company grade.

Nor could the US military provide order after such a transition, for order requires legitimacy, and such a tranquil transition would leave the new imperator illegitimate.  Coercive power is insufficient to enable a government to govern. (more…)


Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Total sales are rising ten percent a year in nominal terms.    Surprise surprise, shadowstats estimates ten percent inflation per year if we use the measure of inflation that was used in the the 1980s.    Hawaiian Libertarian reports that that is pretty much what he is seeing when he puts his money down.

So what is the true rate of inflation?

There is no one true rate of inflation, since to estimate inflation, one has to compare apples and oranges, and there is no one valid way of doing this.

But if inflation is substantially less than ten percent a year, we are consuming substantially more goods this year than last year.  Do you think we are consuming substantially more goods this year than last year?

But whatever the true rate of inflation might be, it is increasing.  It is not increasing fast as I expected, not increasing very fast at all.  It is increasing at about two percent a year, so if this year inflation was not ten percent, but eight percent, next year it will be ten percent a year, and the year after that, twelve percent a year.  The rate at which prices increase, is itself increasing.

This does not sound all that terrifying, but recall that hyperinflation begins as the collapse of a paper bubble.  Everyone wakes up one morning realizing that inflation is a lot higher than they thought and will only get worse, so they all try to unload their paper at the same time for tangibles:  Land in productive use, gold, ammo, guns, non perishable food items, alcohol,  and suchlike, also overseas non tangible assets, paper assets regulated by solvent governments.

Only to discover that they cannot all unload their paper money at the same time.

If the rate of inflation is high and increasing, sooner or later, it suddenly starts to increase a lot faster.  Suppose inflation this year was seven percent, then next year it will nine percent, which is not imminent doom.  If people are not panicking today, they are unlikely to panic tomorrow. The end is not nigh.  But the end, nonetheless, is in sight.



Monday, November 8th, 2010

Officially, America has near zero inflation and a mere ten percent official unemployment.  Odd that it has a mere ten percent unemployment when the proportion of young adult males with jobs has dropped a lot more than ten percent.

As with third world and Marxist countries, the government’s reaction to bad news is to declare a new era of prosperity.  The recession is officially over.  With an unprecedented proportion of the workforce on the government payroll, productivity has officially risen to amazing heights and somehow, despite the big increase in the proportion of people on the government payroll, public spending has officially not risen much.

Unofficial inflation, however, is starting to look quite frightening:

Market Ticker tells us:

I just got back from the grocery store.  Eggs, which were $1.60 two weeks ago, are now $1.99/dz.  Butter?  Two boxes for $6 – on sale.  The same two boxes were $4.50 a couple months ago.  Land-O-Lakes Brand?  $4.89 – each.
Cheese?  8oz bricks were commonly 3/$5 as recently as September.  Now?  $3.50 – for one.
But there’s no inflation, you see.
Oh, and on the way home I passed the gas station.  It was $2.59 for regular a couple of weeks ago.  Now?  $2.89.  30 cents in about 2 weeks, a 12% increase.

This is consistent with inflation rates of thirty to fifty percent per year, early hyperinflation rates.

Sarah Palin is, as usual, on the ball, while ruling class is floating away in La La Land, sincerely puzzled that the peasants are failing to eat cake.

This is the decisive test of Keynesianism.  Of course, we already had a decisive test of Keynesianism:  The Japanese crisis.  Keynesianism failed dismally, to which the Keynesians replied that Japan’s troubles were the result of not applying Keynesianism vigorously enough.    This time, however, it has been applied vigorously enough.  The results should be apparent by around 2012-2016.  The fat lady has not yet sung, but so far, things are not looking good for Keynesianism.

Money is a matter of functions four,
a medium, a measure, a standard, a store.

There is a conflict between the use of money as a store and the use of money as a standard, since if everyone wants to store value at the same time, the value of money is apt to rise, and if everyone wants to use their store at the same time, the value is apt to fall.  Keynesianism therefore addresses a real problem, but its proposed solution tells the ruling class what they want to hear – that they can buy votes with money they do not have, that they can eat their cake and have it to, which is of course not true, and not a solution to the problem.  Keynesianism addresses a real problem, but is not a real solution.

It seems to me that a sounder solution would be to target the long run value of money.  If people had confidence that in the long run, the value of money would be constant, that inflation would run for a few years to be followed by deflation, and deflation would run for a few years to followed by inflation, that what goes up must come down, then I doubt that natural fluctuations would be large or damaging.   Fluctuations are large and damaging because there is no telling what the future value of money is likely to be, because Keynesianism makes money dangerously ineffectual as either a standard or as a store.  This large uncertainty destabilizes the economy.  The objective of monetary policy should be to give people confidence that the value of money will be the same in twenty or thirty years, even if it fluctuates a bit from year to year.

Of course, I am prescribing what an honest issuer of fiat money should do, if he cares about the long term, and wants everyone to continue using the fiat money he issues.  Since issuers of fiat money sooner or later find themselves in a situation where the major question is whether the political leadership will survive another week, such advice is unlikely to be heeded.  Keynesianism will continue to be believed, not because it is true, but because issuers of fiat money are compelled to act as if it was true.

hyperinflation of the US$

Friday, October 29th, 2010

A great storm first manifest as clouds on the horizon. The Republicans are going to wish they had not won the 2010 November elections.

Supposedly US inflation is near zero, yet food, fuel, and heating oil has risen substantially.

Gonzalo points out

Grains as a class have risen over 33% year-over-year. Refined oil products have risen just shy of 13%, with home heating oil rising 18% year-over-year. In other words: Food, gasoline and heating oil have risen by double digits since 2009. And the 2010-‘11 winter in the northern hemisphere is approaching.

Supposedly, food in the supermarket is not rising, or not rising yet, yet bulk prices of the commodities you need to live on have risen by thirty to fifty percent.

If this has not shown up in the supermarkets yet, it is going to show up mighty soon.

The storm, inflation rates that are quite obviously disruptive and unacceptable, will likely be raging vigorously some time in 2012. There may well be continued reluctance to admit what is happening. I will not be much surprised if official statistics and the New York Times announce that everything is coming up roses even in 2012

Officially, all is roses today, yet Case Research reports

commodity prices

Explanations of the oil price rise

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

My explanation for high oil prices is the collapse of oil states. Arnold Kling argues that instead the problem is that investors fear the collapse of advanced states, so are reluctant to take their money.

My explanation is that oil states are increasingly short of the competence to pump oil, the ability to provide security to people pumping oil, and the credibility to make deals with people who are competent to pump oil — for example it is difficult for foreign companies to pump oil in Nigeria, because there are too many different bandits and terrorists to pay them all off, and difficult for foreigners to pump oil in Venezuela or Mexico, because the government cannot credibly promise not steal everything, and difficult for the Venezuelan government to pump oil, since it could not run a pie stand, plus the security situation in Mexico, though better than Nigeria, is deteriorating.

Arnold Kling, however, argues that the problem is the increasingly scary on book and off book debt levels of the advanced nations, in particular the US. Investors fear hyperinflation. Where to put their money? Answer: Buy commodities that are underground, and leave them underground.