Major central banks of the world have set in motion a chain of events likely to result in their own decline and the eventual demise of fiat money. Of late there has been growing concerns about the risk of bankruptcy to central banks, due to the trillions of dollars in debt instruments being carried on the balance sheets of the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, Bank of Japan and Bank of England. Recently the chairman of the Federal Reserve for the United States had to answer a growing number of questions about how he could exit these immense positions, which are poised to grow beyond four trillion dollars on the Fed’s balance sheet alone. Ben Bernanke’s responses should give no one comfort. Yet focusing on the risk of bankruptcy to central banks, actually ignores the real risks around the demise of the world’s fiat money system. Nor are market observers appreciating how the current central banking conundrum is likely to eventually give rise to a return to hard money.
With the media focused on the political circus around the debt ceiling, not much attention was paid outside of financial circles to the newest GDP data announced late in July. But it is likely of more concern than the government’s self imposed borrowing limit. The first six months of 2011 were estimated to be the weakest in terms of economic growth since the recovery began. The first quarter is now estimated to have posted annualized growth of just 0.4 percent with the second delivering an uptick of only 1.3 percent. As a result economic forecasts are being lowered for future growth.
The Federal Reserve has painted itself into a corner, where there is no easy way out. The current global monetary system is headed for trouble. Dangers around rising inflation coupled with a weak employment environment, aka stagflation, are building. America already has the weak job market, and now as my previous post pointed out there are warning signs that the Fed’s latest policy moves are translating into inflationary forces. Having already focused on some of those signs, I am going to take a moment here to describe the dynamics of the problem. Although the leaders of the Fed not surprisingly argue there is nothing to worry about, there are three compelling reasons to believe otherwise.
There has been a lot of worrying in financial markets over the past few months. In fact quite a long list of looming disasters has been assembled. Will destabilization in the Middle East, especially if unrest reaches Saudi Arabia, send oil prices skyrocketing and the global economy spiraling? Could this wave of unrest spread to China? Will the earthquake in Japan trigger a financial crisis in that country, as more debt is added to an already formidable mountain of debt? Is Bill Gross signaling a debt crisis in the U.S. is eminent, as he pilots the world’s largest bond fund out of U.S. Treasuries? Irrespective of the U.S. Treasury market is a wave of defaults on its way in the municipal bond market? And what about real estate—are we now on our way to a second bottom with prices headed for a 20 percent or greater decline?
Prospects are excellent for a positive year in the stock market in 2011. Odds are good also for that strength to carry over into 2012, although it’s a bit early to prognosticate on next year. This bull market is still relatively young and should have further to run. Although I am no fan of the accommodative monetary policy of the Federal Reserve believing it led to the housing bubble and is fueling rises in commodity prices today, I am also quick to admit that in the near term it is a positive for the stock market. “Don’t Fight the Fed” is a popular saying among investors for good reason. The economy is growing, stock prices are rising and these trends will likely continue for a time.