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”

The Current Financial System is Terminal

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

Despite the talk of rosy numbers, of deficits coming down and jobs being created, citizens of the West, especially in the US, face an uncertain outlook and a challenging future. Many Americans live from paycheck to paycheck — highly leveraged and bereft of any honest money. They are overwhelmingly exposed to whatever it is that those who are the most powerful believe appropriate or profitable to themselves in the sociopolitical or economic arena.

The current financial system is not salvageable. It is entropic, prone to decay. Central banks have to print more and more money to keep up with the spending of the politicians who, in turn, spend more and more to buy the favor of increasingly disaffected voters. Fiat money devalues more and more quickly, and the printing presses run day and night. Prosperity is just around the corner but never arrives and, in fact, recedes despite official pronouncements to the contrary.

The productivity isn’t there any longer, yet in the USA, certainly more than Europe as of this writing, the average household is loaded to the eyeballs in debt and is still urged to take on more. Why? Because foreign buyers continue to purchase American debt, allowing US citizens, even if they don’t know it, to fund their lifestyles at least in part with overseas loans. Who could blame the Chinese for trying to unload some of its dollar reserves by buying resource companies that help to ensure they have enough control over their own productive destiny?

As the currency devalues, the US middle class will be squeezed even harder. The public sector will continue to swell, just as it has overseas. The money and credit in the system continue to expand until the volume simply can’t be contained by economic activity. It becomes overwhelming — triggering hyperinflation and sweeping revaluations. Today, this very scenario is taking place — and tomorrow, as the financial hurricane bears down, it will be even worse.

Again, these results are predictable. Anyone who studies money knows how government fiat-money systems end up. History tells us they always collapse. And we are facing a collapse now.

The Folly of the Fed’s Central Planning

by Ron Paul – Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity:Ron Paul

Over the last 100 years the Fed has had many mandates and policy changes in its pursuit of becoming the chief central economic planner for the United States. Not only has it pursued this utopian dream of planning the US economy and financing every boondoggle conceivable in the welfare/warfare state, it has become the manipulator of the premier world reserve currency.

As Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke explained to me, the once profoundly successful world currency – gold – was no longer money. This meant that he believed, and the world has accepted, the fiat dollar as the most important currency of the world, and the US has the privilege and responsibility for managing it. He might even believe, along with his Fed colleagues, both past and present, that the fiat dollar will replace gold for millennia to come. I remain unconvinced.

At its inception the Fed got its marching orders: to become the ultimate lender of last resort to banks and business interests. And to do that it needed an “elastic” currency. The supporters of the new central bank in 1913 were well aware that commodity money did not “stretch” enough to satisfy the politician’s appetite for welfare and war spending. A printing press and computer, along with the removal of the gold standard, would eventually provide the tools for a worldwide fiat currency. We’ve been there since 1971 and the results are not good.

Many modifications of policy mandates occurred between 1913 and 1971, and the Fed continues today in a desperate effort to prevent the total unwinding and collapse of a monetary system built on sand. A storm is brewing and when it hits, it will reveal the fragility of the entire world financial system.

The Fed and its friends in the financial industry are frantically hoping their next mandate or strategy for managing the system will continue to bail them out of each new crisis.

The seeds were sown with the passage of the Federal Reserve Act in December 1913. The lender of last resort would target special beneficiaries with its ability to create unlimited credit. It was granted power to channel credit in a special way. Average citizens, struggling with a mortgage or a small business about to go under, were not the Fed’s concern. Commercial, agricultural, and industrial paper was to be bought when the Fed’s friends were in trouble and the economy needed to be propped up. At its inception the Fed was given no permission to buy speculative financial debt or U.S. Treasury debt.

It didn’t take long for Congress to amend the Federal Reserve Act to allow the purchase of US debt to finance World War I and subsequently all the many wars to follow. These changes eventually led to trillions of dollars being used in the current crisis to bail out banks and mortgage companies in over their heads with derivative speculations and worthless mortgage-backed securities.

It took a while to go from a gold standard in 1913 to the unbelievable paper bailouts that occurred during the crash of 2008 and 2009.

In 1979 the dual mandate was proposed by Congress to solve the problem of high inflation and high unemployment, which defied the conventional wisdom of the Phillips curve that supported the idea that inflation could be a trade-off for decreasing unemployment. The stagflation of the 1970s was an eye-opener for all the establishment and government economists. None of them had anticipated the serious financial and banking problems in the 1970s that concluded with very high interest rates.

That’s when the Congress instructed the Fed to follow a “dual mandate” to achieve, through monetary manipulation, a policy of “stable prices” and “maximum employment.” The goal was to have Congress wave a wand and presto the problem would be solved, without the Fed giving up power to create money out of thin air that allows it to guarantee a bailout for its Wall Street friends and the financial markets when needed.

The dual mandate was really a triple mandate. The Fed was also instructed to maintain “moderate long-term interest rates.” “Moderate” was not defined. I now have personally witnessed nominal interest rates as high as 21% and rates below 1%. Real interest rates today are actually below zero.

The dual, or the triple mandate, has only compounded the problems we face today. Temporary relief was achieved in the 1980s and confidence in the dollar was restored after Volcker raised interest rates up to 21%, but structural problems remained.

Nevertheless, the stock market crashed in 1987 and the Fed needed more help. President Reagan’s Executive Order 12631 created the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, also known as the Plunge Protection Team. This Executive Order gave more power to the Federal Reserve, Treasury, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Securities and Exchange Commission to come to the rescue of Wall Street if market declines got out of hand. Though their friends on Wall Street were bailed out in the 2000 and 2008 panics, this new power obviously did not create a sound economy. Secrecy was of the utmost importance to prevent the public from seeing just how this “mandate” operated and exactly who was benefiting.

Since 2008 real economic growth has not returned. From the viewpoint of the central economic planners, wages aren’t going up fast enough, which is like saying the currency is not being debased rapidly enough. That’s the same explanation they give for prices not rising fast enough as measured by the government-rigged Consumer Price Index. In essence it seems like they believe that making the cost of living go up for average people is a solution to the economic crisis. Rather bizarre!

The obsession now is to get price inflation up to at least a 2% level per year. The assumption is that if the Fed can get prices to rise, the economy will rebound. This too is monetary policy nonsense.

If the result of a congressional mandate placed on the Fed for moderate and stable interest rates results in interest rates ranging from 0% to 21%, then believing the Fed can achieve a healthy economy by getting consumer prices to increase by 2% per year is a pie-in-the-sky dream. Money managers CAN’T do it and if they could it would achieve nothing except compounding the errors that have been driving monetary policy for a hundred years.

A mandate for 2% price inflation is not only a goal for the central planners in the United States but for most central bankers worldwide.

It’s interesting to note that the idea of a 2% inflation rate was conceived 25 years ago in New Zealand to curtail double-digit price inflation. The claim was made that since conditions improved in New Zealand after they lowered their inflation rate to 2% that there was something magical about it. And from this they assumed that anything lower than 2% must be a detriment and the inflation rate must be raised. Of course, the only tool central bankers have to achieve this rate is to print money and hope it flows in the direction of raising the particular prices that the Fed wants to raise.

One problem is that although newly created money by central banks does inflate prices, the central planners can’t control which prices will increase or when it will happen. Instead of consumer prices rising, the price inflation may go into other areas, as determined by millions of individuals making their own choices. Today we can find very high prices for stocks, bonds, educational costs, medical care and food, yet the CPI stays under 2%.

The CPI, though the Fed currently wants it to be even higher, is misreported on the low side. The Fed’s real goal is to make sure there is no opposition to the money printing press they need to run at full speed to keep the financial markets afloat. This is for the purpose of propping up in particular stock prices, debt derivatives, and bonds in order to take care of their friends on Wall Street.

This “mandate” that the Fed follows, unlike others, is of their own creation. No questions are asked by the legislators, who are always in need of monetary inflation to paper over the debt run up by welfare/warfare spending. There will be a day when the obsession with the goal of zero interest rates and 2% price inflation will be laughed at by future economic historians. It will be seen as just as silly as John Law’s inflationary scheme in the 18th century for perpetual wealth for France by creating the Mississippi bubble – which ended in disaster. After a mere two years, 1719 to 1720, of runaway inflation Law was forced to leave France in disgrace. The current scenario will not be precisely the same as with this giant bubble but the consequences will very likely be much greater than that which occurred with the bursting of the Mississippi bubble.

The fiat dollar standard is worldwide and nothing similar to this has ever existed before. The Fed and all the world central banks now endorse the monetary principles that motivated John Law in his goal of a new paradigm for French prosperity. His thesis was simple: first increase paper notes in order to increase the money supply in circulation. This he claimed would revitalize the finances of the French government and the French economy. His theory was no more complicated than that.

This is exactly what the Federal Reserve has been attempting to do for the past six years. It has created $4 trillion of new money, and used it to buy government Treasury bills and $1.7 trillion of worthless home mortgages. Real growth and a high standard of living for a large majority of Americans have not occurred, whereas the Wall Street elite have done quite well. This has resulted in aggravating the persistent class warfare that has been going on for quite some time.

The Fed has failed at following its many mandates, whether legislatively directed or spontaneously decided upon by the Fed itself – like the 2% price inflation rate. But in addition, to compound the mischief caused by distorting the much-needed market rate of interest, the Fed is much more involved than just running the printing presses. It regulates and manages the inflation tax. The Fed was the chief architect of the bailouts in 2008. It facilitates the accumulation of government debt, whether it’s to finance wars or the welfare transfer programs directed at both rich and poor. The Fed provides a backstop for the speculative derivatives dealings of the banks considered too big to fail. Together with the FDIC’s insurance for bank accounts, these programs generate a huge moral hazard while the Fed obfuscates monetary and economic reality.

The Federal Reserve reports that it has over 300 PhD’s on its payroll. There are hundreds more in the Federal Reserve’s District Banks and many more associated scholars under contract at many universities. The exact cost to get all this wonderful advice is unknown. The Federal Reserve on its website assures the American public that these economists “represent an exceptional diverse range of interest in specific area of expertise.” Of course this is with the exception that gold is of no interest to them in their hundreds and thousands of papers written for the Fed.

This academic effort by subsidized learned professors ensures that our college graduates are well-indoctrinated in the ways of inflation and economic planning. As a consequence too, essentially all members of Congress have learned these same lessons.

Fed policy is a hodgepodge of monetary mismanagement and economic interference in the marketplace. Sadly, little effort is being made to seriously consider real monetary reform, which is what we need. That will only come after a major currency crisis.

I have quite frequently made the point about the error of central banks assuming that they know exactly what interest rates best serve the economy and at what rate price inflation should be. Currently the obsession with a 2% increase in the CPI per year and a zero rate of interest is rather silly.

In spite of all the mandates, flip-flopping on policy, and irrational regulatory exuberance, there’s an overwhelming fear that is shared by all central bankers, on which they dwell day and night. That is the dreaded possibility of DEFLATION.

A major problem is that of defining the terms commonly used. It’s hard to explain a policy dealing with deflation when Keynesians claim a falling average price level – something hard to measure – is deflation, when the Austrian free-market school describes deflation as a decrease in the money supply.

The hysterical fear of deflation is because deflation is equated with the 1930s Great Depression and all central banks now are doing everything conceivable to prevent that from happening again through massive monetary inflation. Though the money supply is rapidly rising and some prices like oil are falling, we are NOT experiencing deflation.

Under today’s conditions, fighting the deflation phantom only prevents the needed correction and liquidation from decades of an inflationary/mal-investment bubble economy.

It is true that even though there is lots of monetary inflation being generated, much of it is not going where the planners would like it to go. Economic growth is stagnant and lots of bubbles are being formed, like in stocks, student debt, oil drilling, and others. Our economic planners don’t realize it but they are having trouble with centrally controlling individual “human action.”

Real economic growth is being hindered by a rational and justified loss of confidence in planning business expansions. This is a consequence of the chaos caused by the Fed’s encouragement of over-taxation, excessive regulations, and diverting wealth away from domestic investments and instead using it in wealth-consuming and dangerous unnecessary wars overseas. Without the Fed monetizing debt, these excesses would not occur.

Lessons yet to be learned:

1. Increasing money and credit by the Fed is not the same as increasing wealth. It in fact does the opposite.

2. More government spending is not equivalent to increasing wealth.

3. Liquidation of debt and correction in wages, salaries, and consumer prices is not the monster that many fear.

4. Corrections, allowed to run their course, are beneficial and should not be prolonged by bailouts with massive monetary inflation.

5. The people spending their own money is far superior to the government spending it for them.

6. Propping up stock and bond prices, the current Fed goal, is not a road to economic recovery.

7. Though bailouts help the insiders and the elite 1%, they hinder the economic recovery.

8. Production and savings should be the source of capital needed for economic growth.

9. Monetary expansion can never substitute for savings but guarantees mal–investment.

10. Market rates of interest are required to provide for the economic calculation necessary for growth and reversing an economic downturn.

11. Wars provide no solution to a recession/depression. Wars only make a country poorer while war profiteers benefit.

12. Bits of paper with ink on them or computer entries are not money – gold is.

13. Higher consumer prices per se have nothing to do with a healthy economy.

14. Lower consumer prices should be expected in a healthy economy as we experienced with computers, TVs, and cell phones.

All this effort by thousands of planners in the Federal Reserve, Congress, and the bureaucracy to achieve a stable financial system and healthy economic growth has failed.

It must be the case that it has all been misdirected. And just maybe a free market and a limited government philosophy are the answers for sorting it all out without the economic planners setting interest and CPI rate increases.

A simpler solution to achieving a healthy economy would be to concentrate on providing a “SOUND DOLLAR” as the Founders of the country suggested. A gold dollar will always outperform a paper dollar in duration and economic performance while holding government growth in check. This is the only monetary system that protects liberty while enhancing the opportunity for peace and prosperity.

Article originally posted at The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

How to Insulate Your Portfolio from the Fed’s Financial Destruction

submitted by jwithrow.zen garden portfolio

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
How to Insulate Your Portfolio from the Fed’s Financial Destruction

January 16, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P opened at $1,992 today. Gold is up to $1,267 per ounce. Oil is back down under $47 per barrel. Bitcoin is checking in at $210 per BTC, and the 10-year Treasury rate opened at 1.72% today. Famed Swiss economist Marc Faber went on record at a global strategy session this week saying he expected gold to go up significantly in 2015 – possibly even 30%.

Yesterday we examined the Fed’s activity since 2007 and we noticed $3.61 trillion dollars sloshing around in the financial system that didn’t exist previously. Then we put two and two together and realized the answer was four… not five as the mainstream media claims. We came to the conclusion that the entire financial system is now dependent upon exponential credit creation out of thin air and that financial destruction cometh once the credit expansion stops.

Today let’s discuss some ideas for insulating our balance sheet from the ongoing financial crisis and the inevitable crack-up on the horizon.

The first and most important thing to understand is the difference between real money and fiat money. The Fed (and other central banks) issue fiat money at will – created from nothing. Dollars, euros, yen… none of them are real money; they are all fiat. These currencies do not represent real work, savings, or wealth and they certainly are not backed by anything of substance.

Most of these currencies exist as digital units out in cyberspace but if you read one of the paper notes in circulation it is completely honest with you:

”This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.”

That means central bank notes are really good for paying debts but that’s about the extent of it.

All of these currencies depreciate over time in terms of purchasing power because they have no intrinsic value and their supply is unlimited. Even when a currency is “strong” as the U.S. dollar is currently, it is only strong measured against other currencies. Measure the dollar against your cost of living and you will see the real picture.

The point is we can’t trust central bank money.

Which leads us to the first way to insulate your portfolio from the Fed’s carnage: convert fiat money into real money – gold and silver. Gold and silver were demonetized in the late 60’s and early 70’s and the establishment has been downplaying their significance ever since. But there is a reason every central bank in the world still stockpiles gold. Gold and silver have been money for centuries and that is not going to change in a brief fifty year time span. Maybe one day cryptocurrencies will take the torch from gold and silver but that day is not today.

It is wise to maintain an asset allocation of 10-30% in physical gold and silver bullion. Precious metals will skyrocket in price measured against fiat currency as the Fed’s financial destruction plays out but in reality they are just a store of value. Precious metals will skyrocket in price only in terms of the fiat currency that is depreciating so dramatically.

Energy and commodity stocks, especially well managed resource companies, stand to boom as the monetary madness plays out as well. This is not a long-term strategy, however, so any gains captured during the commodity boom should be converted into hard assets or blue-chip equities after they have finished falling in price. There is enormous risk in the stock market so equities should make up a smaller portion of your asset allocation: 10-15% perhaps.

Despite everything said about fiat currency above, cash should still make up a large percentage of your portfolio; probably 20-30%. Cash loses purchasing power over time but it is still the primary medium of exchange so it is necessary to remain liquid. Ideally you should keep 6-12 months worth of reserve funds in cash and any cash above that threshold can be used to acquire assets as they go on sale. And plenty of assets will go on sale when the credit expansion stops.

The remainder of your asset allocation should be in real estate, provisions, other hard assets, and anything else that improves your quality of life. With all of the unjust systems and institutions to contend with it is easy to forget most of us are far richer than the wealthiest individuals living at the beginning of the 20th century. We have central heating and air in our homes, reliable auto travel over long distances, affordable air travel to anywhere in the world, way too much entertainment, cheap access to the internet which opens the door to all manner of information/commerce/entertainment, pocket-sized computers that double as telephones, and many other modern comforts that would be considered futuristic luxuries by the wealthiest of the wealthy one hundred years ago.

After properly aligning your portfolio to weather the Fed’s financial storm, focus on aligning your life to maximize fulfillment, purpose, and peace of mind. After all, your most valuable asset is time and time cannot be measured in financial terms.

More to come,







Joe Withrow
Wayward Philosopher

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

How the Fed Grows Government

by Hunter Hastings – Mises Daily
Article originally published in the January 2015 issue of BankNotesEccles Building

We are told that elections are important, but the most powerful state institution, the central bank, is totally out of reach of the voter.

Ludwig von Mises viewed democracy as a utilitarian concept. It was the form of political organization that allowed the majority to change the government without violent revolution. In Socialism, Mises writes “This it achieves by making the organs of the state legally dependent on the will of the majority of the moment.” He identified this form of political process as an essential enabler of capitalism and market exchange.

Mises extended this concept of utilitarian democracy to citizens’ control of the budget of the state, which they achieve by voting for the level of taxation that they deem to be appropriate. Otherwise, “if it is unnecessary to adjust the amount of expenditure to the means available, there is no limit to the spending of the great god State.” (Planning for Freedom, p. 90).

Today, this utilitarian function of democracy, and the concept of citizens’ limitations on government mission and government spending, has been taken away by the state via the creation and subsequent actions of central banks. The state carefully created a central bank that is independent of the voters and unaffected by the choices citizens express via the institutions of democracy. In the case of the US Federal Reserve, for example, the Board of Governors state that the Federal Reserve System “is considered an independent central bank because its monetary policy decisions do not have to be approved by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branches of government, it does not receive funding appropriated by the Congress, and the terms of the members of the Board of Governors span multiple presidential and congressional terms.”

Independent from Voters, But Not from Politicians

Importantly, the central bank is independent of the citizens in this way, but, in practice, not independent of politicians. Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, is quoted as asserting, “I never said the central bank is independent,” alluding to similar statements in two books he has written, and pointing to one-sided political pressure significantly limiting the FOMC’s range of discretion.

This institutionally independent, but politically directed central bank spearheads a process that enables largely unlimited government spending. It expands credit and enables fiat money, which is produced without practical limitation. Fiat money enables government to issue debt, which, at least so far, also has been pursued without restraint. The unlimited government debt enables unrestrained growth in government spending. The citizenry has no power to change this through any voting mechanism.

Thus, the state is set free from having to collect tax revenue before it can spend, and as Mises explained, in such a case, there is no limitation on government at all:

The government has but one source of revenue — taxes. No taxation is legal without parliamentary consent. But if the government has other sources of income it can free itself from this control.

In other words, when faced with the possibility of voter reprisals, members of Congress are reluctant to raise taxes. But if government spending no longer necessitates taxes, government becomes much more free to spend.

Without restraints on government spending, there are no restraints on government’s mission, or on the growth in the bureaucracy that administers the spending. The result is a continuous increase in regulations, and a continuous expansion of state power.

Has The Central Bank Limited Itself?

In the one hundred years since the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913, US federal government spending has grown from $15.9 billion to a budgeted $3,778 billion in 2014 (a number we now refer to as $3.8 trillion to make the numerator seem less egregious). Spending as a percentage of GDP has advanced from 7.5 percent to 41.6 percent over the same period. A comparison of regulation growth is more difficult, but over 80,000 pages are published in the Federal Register annually today, versus less than 5,000 annually in 1936.

The evidence, therefore, is that voting makes no difference to this lava flow of spending and regulation. Whatever the will of the majority of the moment, government spending and government power will continue to expand, with consequent reduction in the economic growth that is the primary goal of the society that is being governed.

John Locke opined that, when governments “act contrary to the end for which they were constituted,” they are at a “state of war” with the citizens, and resistance is lawful. (Two Treatises of Government, p. 74). The theory and practice of unhampered markets and individual liberty are particularly relevant at election time.

Hunter Hastings is a member of the Mises Institute, a business consultant, and an adjunct faculty member at Hult International Business School

Please see the January 2015 issue of BankNotes for this article and others like it.

How Fiat Money Enslaves Society

submitted by currencies

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
How Fiat Money Enslaves Society

January 1, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

Happy New Year!

The markets stayed in bed today nursing their hangovers so we have no updates for you. Check back with us tomorrow for market updates.

We have recently been discussing the difference between fiat money and real money so I thought it would be prudent to kick off 2015 by discussing how fiat money enslaves society.

I know, nobody is walking around in shackles and chains – the slavery is much more subtle than that. But I firmly believe this is the single most important issue of our time. You cannot understand finance and economics unless you understand how fiat money operates. And you cannot become financially independent unless you understand finance and economics.

So here’s how it works:

Government creates a currency and decrees it money. Being the narcissist institution that it is, Government usually prints faces of past government officials on the physical currency. Next Government creates a central bank and declares that the central bank will issue and manage the currency. Government then implements an income tax to supplement the other taxes in existence and decrees that all taxes must be paid with the government’s currency. Government then passes legal tender laws requiring citizens to accept its currency as payment for all private debts as well. The penalty for not paying taxes or for not accepting government currency as payment is jail.

In this way the government/central bank alliance has effectively created a situation where everyone under the government’s claimed jurisdiction is forced to use its fiat money. There is no way to completely opt out; at minimum everyone has to acquire enough fiat money to pay taxes or else they will be thrown in jail. And we’re not talking about one or two little taxes; we are talking about taxes on all income earned, taxes on all investment gains earned, taxes on all real estate owned, taxes on all vehicles owned, taxes on all gas purchased for those vehicles, taxes on all food and goods purchased, and taxes on any inheritance received. Virtually everything you do is taxed!

Add up all of the taxes across all levels of government and it is very likely you are paying out 50% of what you earn in taxes, especially if you live in a major metropolitan city. That means you are working six months of the year just to pay the government.

But wait, it gets even better!

The central bank is free to issue as much new fiat money as it pleases and the record clearly shows that all central banks very much enjoy creating lots of new currency. The law of supply and demand tells us that each unit of currency will be worth less as new currency enters the economy – this is intuitive. What’s less intuitive is something called the Cantillon Effect.

Classical economist Richard Cantillon noticed something very important about inflation back around 1730 in France. Cantillon observed that the original recipients of newly created money enjoyed much higher standards of living at the expense of later recipients. The reason for this, Cantillon noted in his economic treatise Essai, is because of the disproportionate rise in prices as a result of inflation; prices do not rise until after the first recipients of the new money spend it into the general economy.

What this means is the very act of creating new money from nothing effectively steals purchasing power from everyone except those who first receive the new money!

So who first receives the new money? Why, governments and their favored institutions of course! This is how governments and their favored institutions grew to be so fantastically large in the 1900’s – they steadily picked the public’s pocket for an entire century!

To tie it all together: Government creates currency from nothing and forces you to use it by levying all manner of taxes on you that can only be paid with the government’s fiat money. Then Government’s buddy, the central bank, inflates the money supply which depreciates the value of the currency you are forced to use and transfers that lost purchasing power from you to Government. This makes it very difficult for you to save money because the money constantly loses value over time. The result is you have to work harder and harder just to pay off Government lest it throw you in jail. And that is how fiat money enslaves society.

This process is why you could drive down Main Street in Small Town USA back in 1950 and see bustling storefronts and a vibrant economy. Drive down that same Main Street today and you will probably see empty buildings and boarded up windows. You just can’t earn an honest living as a small proprietor or shopkeep anymore because you are Cantillon’s last recipient of new money in those businesses. Decades of unrestricted inflation has destroyed the value of the money to the point where small proprietors cannot earn enough of it to keep up with rising prices. Fiat money has hollowed out Middle America to the point where there’s not much of it left. This is exactly what has happened throughout history where fiat money has been implemented – the middle class is destroyed.

Governments have experimented with fiat money all through history and the most recent monetary model is the most deceptive to date. Fortunately, a fiat monetary system always sows the seeds of its own destruction and cannot last forever. In the meantime you can employ some basic financial strategies to protect yourself once you understand how the fiat money system works. We’ll look at some of those strategies in a later entry.

Until the morrow,







Joe Withrow
Wayward Philosopher

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

Capitalism Without the Capital

submitted by jwithrow.Adam Smith Plaque

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Capitalism Without the Capital

December 25, 2014
Hot Springs, VA

Merry Christmas!

The markets are closed today in honor of this wonderful holiday so we have no updates for you in this entry. Check back in with us tomorrow for market updates. We do have an important entry for you today, however. It’s not nearly as important as spending time with your family on Christmas Day but, since you are here nonetheless, we will carry on.

Earlier this month we watched as the U.S. national debt came up behind $18 trillion, whipped into the passing lane without signaling, and sped off into the distance. Where is the national debt going in such a rush? I’m not sure, but I’d wager it’s someplace not worth going to.

As the national debt raced past we noted that total credit market debt has ballooned up to 330% of GDP with considerable help from the Fed’s efforts to pump in $4.3 trillion worth of hot air.

The television analysts accept it all as normal but we must ask the question: How in the world did we get to this point?

Much of the apparent prosperity we have enjoyed over the last several years has been borrowed from the future. The world’s three major central banks – The Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, and the Bank of Japan – have each been engaged in an outrageous financial experiment; they have been creating massive amounts of currency out of thin air to purchase government debt by the boat-load.

Remember, debt is nothing more than a promise to pay for present spending with future earnings. These central banks, in collusion with their respective government, are really engaged in a scheme to transfer massive amounts of wealth from the public in the future to themselves in the present. There will be serious consequences to this madness.

It is important to realize that none of this chicanery has anything to do with capitalism… there’s no capital even in sight! The money created by the central banks of the world may act much like real capital, but it is just a clever impersonator.

Capital, according to the Ludwig von Mises Institute, is defined as the goods that were produced by previous stages of production but do not directly satisfy consumer’s needs. In short, capital is real savings and real resources.

Capital formation is actually quite simple – just save more than you consume and you will have capital.

We are currently doing the opposite – we are consuming way more than we produce. That’s how you end up with debt piled to the ceiling. This is true on the macro level (governments, multi-national corporations, etc.) and it is true on the micro level (individuals, local communities). The credit-based money and the massive debt have driven capital into hiding… we suspect for fear of being called a greedy capitalist.

And that, in a nutshell, is the answer to our question: we got to this point by embracing central banking and fiat money thus abandoning capitalism and its sound monetary system.

Sound Money once kept debt and the central planners at bay.

What was the secret?

Sound Money was like your grumpy friend that just won’t ever agree to do anything. You ask him to go to the movies and he says nope. You ask him to go to the ball game and he says he’ll watch it on T.V. You ask him to go to the bar and he says he has beer in the fridge at home already. Eventually you learn there’s nothing you can talk him into doing so you stop trying. That’s why governments and central banks hated Sound Money; it would never agree to any of their best laid plans.

You see, Sound Money could not be infinitely printed by governments or central banks. Originally, before governments got into the money business, money could not be printed at all; it had to be dug out of the ground and then minted into a coin. Later, governments took it upon themselves to stockpile gold in a vault and create paper currencies 100% backed by the gold. Always one to offer something it doesn’t have at a price it cannot sustain, Government reduced the gold backing of its currency over time and then, in 1971, it cut ties to gold altogether. That was the requiem for Sound Money and ever since then there has been absolutely no limits on the amount of currency central banks can create. Which means there has also been absolutely no limit on how much debt governments can rack up.

So here we are.

But just because there have been no limits to all of this economic madness in the short run does not mean there will never again be any limits. History shows that market forces cannot be perpetually suppressed and distorted – eventually the market will win out. The Day of Reckoning will come.

Until the morrow,






Joe Withrow
Wayward Philosopher

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

Real Money

submitted by jwithrow.Money

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Real Money

December 4, 2014
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P is buzzing around $2,069, gold is back up over $1,210, oil is checking in just under $67 after OPEC announced that they would not cut production, bitcoin is hanging around $373, and the 10-year Treasury rate is checking in at 2.29% today.

How about those prices at the pump, huh? Some resource analysts think that oil won’t remain this low for long. They point to the fact that several OPEC nations are dependent upon high oil prices to run their social welfare states and suggest that, coupled with increased demand over the coming winter, oil will be forced to climb back up the ladder. Other analysts suggest there are numerous oil companies still profitable at current price levels thus supply will remain strong and oil will hang around current prices for longer than expected.

We can’t know which analysts are right and which are wrong but we do know that numerous well-run resource companies have seen their stock price hammered as a result of oil’s decline while the S&P has continued to escalate up its stairway to heaven. Speculators may see this as the best opportunity to get into resource stocks since 2009. Natural resource prices are especially cyclical – low prices drive marginal producers out of business which reduces supply and leads to higher prices which attract marginal producers back to the industry. Booms lead to busts which lead back to booms. Those disciplined enough to buy the bust and sell the boom tend to do well in the resource sector.

Speaking of natural resources, it is the rejection of real money backed by precious metals that, more than anything, has led to the disturbing macroeconomic trends we have been analyzing recently.

In October we examined fiat money and realized that it has always been a major drain on society when implemented throughout history. We agreed fiat money is any currency that derives its value from government law and regulation and we noted that legal tender laws are what force the public to use the government’s money rather than the market’s money.

The academic economists would have you believe we have a complex and sophisticated monetary system. They would suggest that you cannot possibly understand it so you may as well leave it to the experts. The economists will use strange terminology when discussing the economy in newspapers and on television in order to confuse and bore you. Want to know their little secret?

Our economy operates mostly on fake money.

I know, it sounds ridiculous. How is it fake money if you can spend it? That’s exactly what makes the fake money so insidious – you can’t tell that it’s counterfeit.

I will attempt to explain myself by asking a simple question: where does our money come from?

Take your time, I will wait…

If you said “from thin air” then you are the winner! For the last forty years or so our money has been loaned into existence. The Federal Reserve loans new money to its member banks and to the U.S. Treasury and the new money then eventually finds its way into the general economy. Where did the Fed get this money to lend? It created it! From nothing. Ex nihilo nihil fit.

But wait, it gets better. This same process takes place every single time a bank originates a new loan. Say you go get a mortgage to purchase a new home. The bank supposedly lends its deposits to you at interest to finance your home. But this isn’t entirely true. First, the bank is only required to have a fraction of the loan in reserve – roughly 10%. So if your mortgage is $100,000 the bank is required to have at least $10,000 in deposits to support the loan. But does the bank actually take that $10,000 and give it to you? Of course not! That $10,000 in deposits stays right where it is. It could be spent tomorrow if the depositors took a trip to Vegas. So where does the money come from to finance your home?

Hint: it’s the same answer as above.

So you get $100,000 in fresh new money and give it to the seller in exchange for the house. The seller uses your new money to pay off his mortgage and often there is a little bit leftover. The seller calls this profit and puts it in his account and the economy’s money pool gets a little bit bigger: there is now more money in the system then there was before you financed your house.

The economists use terms like ‘M1’, ‘M2’, and ‘money multiplier’ to make this seem like a complicated system but as you can see it’s pretty simple. It’s just a journal entry and a few clicks of the mouse and… PRESTO!

No one noticed a little extra money sneaking into the system here and there at first. But the rate at which new money entered the system increased dramatically as the money supply grew. Forty years later we are starting to see the ill-effects of exponentially expanding credit-based money. This credit expansion has distorted all aspects of the economy because money is half of every transaction. Financial planning and analysis is extremely difficult if no one knows what one unit of money will be worth from one year to the next. It’s always apples to oranges.

So where did our money come from before the fiat money explosion? Money has taken on many different shapes and sizes throughout history but if you go back just a little bit in modern history, say to the mid-19th century, you will probably find yourself using the market’s choice for real money – gold and silver. A little bit later – the late 19th century or so – governments muscled their way into the money business and, instead of just minting gold and silver coins, they created national currencies but they fully backed these currencies with gold or silver. While fully convertible, the currencies operated much like real money but it didn’t take long for governments to reduce the real money backing. They found this so pleasant, they eventually got rid of all currency ties to real money altogether!

One of the big advantages to using real money is that it tends to maintain purchasing power over long periods of time. You can expect real money today to be roughly as valuable as real money ten years from today. You could actually save this real money if you wanted to! Saving leads to capital formation which can drive steady economic activity without the need for massive credit expansion which always results in booms and busts.

There are numerous other advantages to using real money but wife Rachel will fuss at me for making this post long and boring as it is so we will have to come back to them in a later entry.

More to come,






Joe Withrow
Wayward Philosopher

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

Real History

submitted by jwithrow.History

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Real History

October 15, 2014
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P is checking in at $1,851 today, gold is up to $1,236, oil is down to $80.34, bitcoin is around $396, and the 10-year has plummeted to 2.01%.  The 10-year Treasury rate must have been afraid of its shadow this week.

Wife Rachel said my entry yesterday about the history of fiat currency bored her so much she fell asleep reading it.  Sorry about that.

I see history as quite fascinating.  Not the history that comes in Department of Education approved politically correct textbooks, mind you, but real history.  Real history isn’t piecemeal highlights with names, places, and dates to remember; it is so much more important than that.  Real history doesn’t show up in textbooks or in classrooms.

Real history is friend Wade’s family letters housed on his family farm in South Carolina.  The letters were written by the original owners of the farm – his ancestors – and they have been passed down from generation to generation since.  Real history is a five-bedroom brick home sitting atop “town hill” in Covington, Virginia built by my great-great-grandfather after emigrating from Lebanon in the late 19th century and opening a restaurant.  This house comes complete with a Lebanese-style tiered garden on the side of the mountain.  I can only imagine how many other pieces of real history are out there, passed down from generation to generation and discussed over Thanksgiving dinner.

But what is important with real history?  Not so much the names, dates, and places as interesting as they may be.  Instead, it is the ideas, values, and lessons that come with real history that are really important.  These intangibles, if heeded, are what truly shape the future.

The textbook history tells me Napoleon invaded Russia and his army got wiped out.  What do I learn from this?  Don’t invade Russia?  I will be sure not to make that mistake.  Real history tells me great-great-grandfather emigrated from Lebanon, opened a restaurant, and worked like crazy to create a better life for his family.  I am a part of that legacy.  What do I learn from this?  Free enterprise has the power to liberate and elevate individuals, families, and communities.  This is a real, actionable lesson that is much more valuable to me than learning not to invade Russia.

Real history is mostly ‘private’ information while textbook history is ‘public’ information.  What’s taught in the classroom and what comes on the news is also public information.  Our society places a very high value on this public information; we love to hang around the water cooler and talk about it.  It is to the point now where we seem to think that public information is all there is.  We think the school teaches us everything we need to know and we think the news reports all aspects of all events to us every day.

Our worldview, which determines how we think and act, is shaped by this public information.

The problem is public information is riddled with holes and often less than helpful.  “Don’t invade Russia” is sound advice but I was extremely unlikely to do so in the first place.  If we value public information then we waste quite a bit of time on things that aren’t very relevant to us at all.  Should Ray Rice have been banned?  Should I buy Alibaba stock post-IPO?  How will the mid-term elections go?  Who will run for President in 2016?

Who cares?!

Football is just entertainment and unless you had Ray Rice on your fantasy team his private life probably doesn’t concern you much.  Alibaba is the largest e-commerce company in the world and its IPO was welcomed with all manner of press and hoopla.  But IPOs are designed for the insiders to get rich by selling their private stock to the public at an inflated valuation.  This works best when the media pumps up the IPO story over and over again.  You don’t want to be on the public side of an IPO, you want to be on the private side.  And the mid-term elections are largely irrelevant as is the presidential election in 2016.  No matter who wins the debt will continue to spiral out of control until the U.S. dollar is supplanted from its perch as the international reserve currency… probably by the IMF’s “Special Drawing Rights” (SDR).  No amount of campaigning and voting will prepare you for the inevitable; probably best to stop wasting time and start preparing for the Great Reset now.

Public information is similar to the fiat currency we discussed yesterday.  Maybe a little bit of it won’t do too much harm but go past that line and you are going to be in a world of financial hurt.  So in this humble philosopher’s opinion: focus on real history and private information.  The rest is probably just noise.

Hopefully this one doesn’t put wife to sleep.  On second thought, maybe it’s for the best.

More to come,







Joe Withrow
Wayward Philosopher

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

Fiat Money Undermines Society

submitted by jwithrow.Fiat Money

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Fiat Money Undermines Society

October 14, 2014
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P is checking in at $1,878 today, gold is up to $1,234, oil is down to $85, bitcoin is up to $403, and the 10-year is now down to 2.20%.  All in a day’s work, I suppose.

Autumn is truly a beautiful season.  There is a gentle, crisp breeze in the air up here in the mountains of Virginia and a myriad of red, orange, and yellow leaves dot the landscape.  As we await Maddie’s entrance, wife Rachel and I will spend the day making homemade apple cider to celebrate such a fine season!

Last week I suggested that fiat money always seems to undermine the morality and stability of society throughout history.  Let’s examine this a little bit more today.

First, we must be clear about what fiat money is.  Fiat money is any currency that derives its value from government law and regulation.  The word ‘fiat’ is Latin for “let it be done”.  Essentially, fiat money is what the government says is money.  Once decreeing something as money, governments usually force people and businesses to use whatever it is through legal tender laws.  Fiat money has taken different forms throughout history.  Today we primarily use electronic credit-based national currencies (U.S. dollars, Euros, Yen, etc.) as our fiat money.  We still use fiat paper currency also but we are gradually transitioning away from this form of money.  Here in the United States we use “Federal Reserve Notes” as our paper currency.  Take a look at what the bills in your wallet say to confirm this.

Societies, to the extent that you can pinpoint a beginning and end to them, have not started out with fiat money.  Historically, society starts out with free-market money – usually gold, silver, or some other valuable commodity – and then unwittingly moves to fiat money as its government becomes more and more corrupt.

Rome was using a pure silver “denarius” at the beginning of the 1st century, A.D.  Roman emperors then learned how to ‘print’ money by melting down their silver coins, adding cheap base metal into the mix, then re-minting the denarius with a lower silver content.  This enabled them to mint more silver coins than they had melted down, but the denarius was no longer pure silver.

The denarius was 85% silver by the year 100.  By 218, the denarius was down to only 43% silver content.  And by year 244 the denarius contained only .05% silver.  This meant that each Roman denarius coin could purchase 99.95% less than what it could originally purchase!  In other words, everyday prices were 99.95% higher for Romans in year 244 than they were in year 1.

So why in the world did the Roman emperors debase their currency so much?  Why, for great wars, great public works, and to enrich themselves, of course!  You have read all about the Roman Empire in the history textbooks.  Maintaining an empire requires soldiers and soldiers require food, water, and payment.  Oh, and weapons.  This gets more and more expensive as the empire gets bigger and bigger.  I bet you have read about the coliseum too – it was very expensive to build and maintain.  Who was going to pay for it all?

The emperor certainly wasn’t about to curtail his lavish lifestyle to chip in.  Instead he turned to dishonest fiat money: he melted down silver coins and made more of them with a lesser silver content.  Then he paid the soldiers and workers and pretended like nothing was different about the money.  As the currency was debased, Roman society got poorer and the government became more corrupt.  Eventually the Roman Empire became impoverished and collapsed.

Looking farther east, Marco Polo documented the use of fiat money in China:

“You might say that [Kublai] has the secret of alchemy in perfection… the Khan causes every year to be made such a vast quantity of this money, which costs him nothing, that it must equal in amount all the treasure of the world.”

He continues:

“Population and trade had greatly increased, but the emissions of paper notes were suffered to largely outrun both… All the beneficial effects of a currency that is allowed to expand with a growth of population and trade were now turned into those evil effects that flow from a currency emitted in excess of such growth.  These effects were not slow to develop themselves… The best families in the empire were ruined, a new set of men came into the control of public affairs, and the country became the scene of internecine warfare and confusion.”

The same thing happened in France when John Law introduced fiat paper currency in 1716: the currency was inflated into oblivion and the society was impoverished.  And in Weimar Germany in the 1920’s – it got to the point where Germans were using paper marks to heat their furnaces!  Argentina has followed suit a couple times in the late 1900’s.  Zimbabwe was one of the wealthiest countries in Africa until its government ramped up the printing presses in 2008 and implemented price controls.  It wasn’t long before civilized society was wiped out in Zimbabwe and people could no longer get enough food and water for themselves.

Do you notice a trend?

Fast forward to present day: the U.S. dollar has lost 98% of its value since the Federal Reserve was implemented in 1913.  Much of this devaluation has occurred since all ties to gold were removed in 1971.  What has happened to our cost of living?

Technology has also boomed since 1971 such that the means of production and distribution are much more efficient today than ever before.  It seems to me this scenario should have reduced the cost of living for everyone.  But has it?  It wasn’t that long ago when an average American household consisted of only one wage earner.  This one income was enough to provide a high quality of life for the family while the spouse stayed home to raise the kids.  Most households now require two incomes just to get by.

The American standard of living is going in the wrong direction and this is largely due to fiat money.  Further, the fiat money is used primarily for the same things it has always been used for throughout history – war, public works, and the enrichment of the political class…

I will leave it there for today but I hope my point was made.

Until the morrow,







Joe Withrow
Wayward Philosopher

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