The Only Debate Topic That Matters

submitted by jwithrow.
Click here to get the Journal of a Wayward Philosopher by Email

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
The Only Debate Topic That Matters

September 29, 2016
Hot Springs, VA

Loading up the nation with debt and leaving it for the following generations to pay is morally irresponsible. Excessive debt is a means by which governments oppress the people and waste their substance. No nation has a right to contract debt for periods longer than the majority contracting it can expect to live. ” – Thomas Jefferson

The S&P closed out Wednesday at $2,171. Gold closed at $1,327 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $47.12 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 1.57%. Bitcoin is trading around $605 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

Nearly one-third of all Americans – almost 100 million people – tuned in to watch the first presidential debate earlier this week. This represents an increase in viewership by nearly 40% from the 2012 presidential debates, and it almost rivaled television’s biggest draw – the Super Bowl – which received 112 million viewers last year. Apparently the debate was aired on television throughout Europe as well.

I see these numbers and the first thing that pops into my head is a question: how in the world do the ratings agencies know how many people are sitting on the couch in front of a given television?

I didn’t spend too much time with this, but all of the numbers I have seen reference “viewers” and “people”, not “households”. They are very specific about this.

I can’t help but think about poor Winston in George Orwell’s 1984 – he sits down in front of his telescreen and while he is watching it, it is also watching him… Continue reading “The Only Debate Topic That Matters”

Monetary History in Ten Minutes

submitted by jwithrow.
Click here to get the Journal of a Wayward Philosopher by Email

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Monetary History in Ten Minutes

August 23, 2016
Hot Springs, VA

Money, moreover is the economic area most encrusted and entangled with centuries of government meddling. Many people – many economists – usually devoted to the free market stop short at money. Money, they insist, is different; it must be supplied by government and regulated by government. They never think of state control of money as interference in the free market… If we favor the free market in other directions, if we wish to eliminate government invasion of person and property, we have no more important task than to explore the ways and means of a free market in money.”Murray Rothbard

The S&P closed out Tuesday at $2,183. Gold closed at $1,343 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $46.81 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 1.58%. Bitcoin is trading around $585 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

Little Maddie is rapidly approaching her second birthday, and I swear she is going on twelve. Like her mother, Madison is quite adept at the art of talking, and she communicates with us very well. This makes life so much easier when she tells us exactly what she wants for dinner; it makes life just a touch more difficult when she wakes up in the wee hours of the morning and tells us she wants to watch Mickey Mouse.

While this seems terribly inconvenient to her parents now, I can only imagine how immaterial it will seem when Maddie is a teenager and we just hope she comes home before the wee hours of the morning. Nevertheless, it all makes perfect sense when she looks up at us with her blue eyes shining bright and says I love you sooo much!

Moving on to finance… Continue reading “Monetary History in Ten Minutes”

U.S. Government Overspending in the 2000s

excerpt from High Alert: How the Internet Reformation is causing a financial hurricane – and how to profit from it:government overspending

U.S. Government Overspending in the 2000s:

• $23 billion on pork (grants to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, bridges to nowhere, etc.)

• $20 billion in unspecified overpayments. (2001)

• $3.3 billion in overpayments from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, over 10% of the department’s total budget. (2001)

• $100 million on unused Defense Department tickets.

• $2 billion to farmers to not farm their land.

• $12 billion to $30 billion on farm subsidies to wealthy farmers and agribusiness.

• $60 billion on corporate welfare versus $43 billion on homeland security.

• Millions in unnecessary public works projects from Army Corps of Engineers.

• $600 million in food stamp overpayments.

• $120 million school lunch overpayments.

• $800 million veterans program overpayments.

• $1 billion from poor tracking of student loan recipients.

• $7 billion owed by Medicare contractors to the federal government.

• A White House review of just a sample of the federal budget identified $90 billion spent on programs deemed ineffective, marginally adequate, or operating under a flawed purpose or design.

• The Congressional Budget Office published a “Budget Options” book identifying $140 billion in potential spending cuts.

Debt as Far as the Eye Can See

submitted by jwithrow.debt

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Debt as Far as the Eye Can See

December 9, 2014
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P opened at $2,056 today. Gold is up around $1,218. Oil is still floating around $64 per barrel. Bitcoin is down to $347 per BTC, and the 10-year Treasury rate is 2.21% today.

In other news, U.S. national debt has now eclipsed $18 trillion. That’s: $18,000,000,000,000.00. Debt to GDP is now around 99%. To put this in perspective, U.S. national debt stood at $398 billion back in 1971 – 34% of GDP – when Tricky Dick put the “Out to Lunch” sign up in front of the international gold window.

Even more startling, total credit market debt now checks in at 330% of GDP. Mr. Market has been trying to wind down the credit market bubble for some time now, but the Federal Reserve has been fighting tooth and nail against him. The Fed’s weapon of choice: funny money! The Fed has purchased more than $4.3 trillion worth of bonds since 2008 in an effort to prop up asset prices and strangle interest rates.

Where did the Fed get this $4.3 trillion? As we pointed out in last week’s journal entry, the Fed got this $4.3 trillion from the same place it always gets money… it conjured every dime of it from thin air!

Still, the economists pretend like this is all normal. Some of them say that the Fed should have bought fewer bonds; $4.3 trillion worth was too much. Other economists say the Fed didn’t buy enough! So they write their articles and conduct their interviews and everyone sleeps sound at night. I can’t help but wonder – do they think this can go on forever? Do they think the Fed can reverse course whenever they darn well please? Do they think at all?

I don’t know if mainstream U.S. finance really is arrogant enough to think there are no consequences to all of this financial chicanery or if they are just playing a big sleight-of-hand game, but the world seems to slowly be waking up to the fiat monetary system that has allowed debt to pile up faster than 5:00 Beltway traffic.

Though the Swiss Gold Referendum didn’t pass last month, it does suggest a change in the financial wind. The initiative would have prevented the Swiss National Bank from selling any of Switzerland’s gold reserves and it would have required a 20% gold backing to the Swiss Franc. The fact that this initiative made it to a vote indicates a growing apprehensiveness towards the international monetary system.

This apprehensiveness is not limited to Switzerland. Germany, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands have each expressed interest in repatriating their gold reserves held in foreign central banks. Additionally, both China and Russia have been buying gold hand over fist. The Russian Central Bank bought nearly 20 tons of gold in October alone. We don’t know exactly how much gold China has been buying – they haven’t reported their full reserve numbers in several years. China and Russia aren’t alone; global gold demand now eats up more supply than miners can produce at current prices.

2013 was a record setting year for precious metals purchases from the U.S. Mint and 2014 sales are on pace to surpass that record. The U.S. Mint sold 3,426,000 ounces of silver in November alone. Perth Mint sold 851,836 ounces of silver in November. India imported 169 million ounces of silver through the first ten months of 2014. The precious metals are clearly being viewed as a life-boat in a sea of rising debt.

In addition to the precious metal rush, several major U.S. financial firms have been using depressed interest rates to gobble up real assets recently as well. The Blackstone Group has been buying domestic real estate like it was last call and Berkshire Hathaway acquired Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp (BNSF) – a railroad company. Shrewd analysts suggest Berkshire’s purchase of BNSF was a hard asset play to mitigate expected inflation; railroads are nothing but hard assets hauling other hard assets around the country.

Are all of the precious metal purchases and hard asset acquisitions just a coincidence?

Maybe deficits really aren’t that big of a deal. Maybe the Fed really can navigate through the uncharted waters of debt and derivatives. Maybe the fiat monetary system really has supplanted Mr. Market’s choice for good. Maybe financial asset prices really can go to the moon and never come back down.

But I wouldn’t bet on it.

More to come,






Joe Withrow
Wayward Philosopher

For more of Joe’s thoughts on the “Great Reset” please read “The Individual is Rising” which is available at The book is also available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions.

Image Source: WilliamBanzai7 – Zero Hedge

The Case for Gold and Silver Bullion

submitted by jwithrow.Gold Bullion

While gold and silver prices have declined in 2013, the fundamental case for owning gold and silver bullion is still growing.

The mainstream media has been quick to pronounce the death of the precious metals as an asset class with their evidence being the recent price depreciation of both gold and silver. Theirs is a very short term and self-serving view; the long term fundamentals have not changed.

The Federal Reserve did taper its money printing, but guess what? The creature from Jekyll Island is still creating $75 billion new dollars every single month to purchase U.S. Treasury bonds and mortgage backed securities. Meanwhile, Congress has quietly done away with the sequester spending ‘cuts’ and will continue to spend gargantuan amounts of money in 2014 – money they do not have.

What’s so humorous about this is the fact that the sequester did not cut any real spending in the first place – it simply curtailed proposed future spending increases. We suppose the thought of curtailed spending increases kept the Congress critters up too late at night.

And it’s not just the U.S.

Japan has promised to continue to keep their central bank money printer on turbo gear. Estimates suggest that the U.S. and Japan together will create nearly $2 trillion over the next 12 month period. Meanwhile, the Eurozone experiment is still on the verge of blowing up and not one single G-20 country operates with a balanced budget.

Simply put, the economies of the developed world have run up massive amounts of debt that cannot possibly be paid back in full. The massive debt has been serviced primarily by central bank funny money up to this point, but we are quite sure that the funny money policies cannot possibly last forever. And the longer the printing presses continue to run, the less valuable our paper currencies will be.

That’s why we adamantly believe that gold and silver bullion will be a vital part of a diversified portfolio in the coming years as the economic endgame of central bank funny money policy plays out.

Now, we don’t think it would be prudent to hold 100% of one’s assets in gold and silver. We look at the precious metals more as insurance against destructive monetary policies. Oh, and we should probably clarify that we mean physical gold and silver bullion in your possession, not an ETF.

So if you expect the value of your paper currency to increase then you may not be interested in holding gold or silver bullion. But if you expect the value of your paper currency to decrease then purchasing gold and silver bullion may be very wise.  Given the long term fundamentals, we would suggest that the value of our paper currency is ultimately only going to go in one direction.

And that direction is back to paper currency’s inherent value…

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