Blog/Sovereign Debt Crisis
Posted Mar 9, 2023 by Martin Armstrong
QUESTION: The sales pitch seems to be that there is this $2 quadrillion in global debt that overhangs everything. Paper assets, therefore, will all implode! They seem to be saying that everything has risen due to this debt bubble and it was all created with Zero interest rates. Now that they are going up, the debt bubble will burst and everything will decline. The story seems to be that this decades-long Boom Bust cycle was created over and over by the Federal Reserve.
This seems to be like you have said, they try to reduce everything to a single cause and effect.
What really happens?
ANSWER: These people seem to keep preaching the same story but have no historical understanding whatsoever of how the monetary system has ever worked. Their focus on the Federal Reserve shows that they are not looking at the world economy and they do not even comprehend how bad things really are outside the United States. They do not comprehend what is an interest rate. It is the compensation to a lender for his anticipation of inflation plus a profit. If I think the dollar will decline by 50%, why would I lend you dollars for a year if when you pay me back it buys half of what it did when I lent it to you?
Debt can be a performing asset. I advised many of the Takeover Boys during the 1980s. We would borrow in one currency to buy the asset in another using the computer to distinguish the long-term trends. I would not recommend that to someone just operating on a gut feeling.
We were also advising on real values, which Hollywood distorted and based the movie Wall Street with Michael Douglas and his famous speech on greed. What they did not really understand was that after a Public Wave that peaked in 1981, stocks were suppressed and the full-faith in government created the broadly supported bond market. Hence – bonds were conservative and stocks were risky. There were two aspects that were behind the entire Takeover Boom.
First, I was showing these charts and how in terms of book value, the Dow Jones bottomed in 1977. It was obvious that if you could buy a company, sell its assets, and double or triple your money, then the market was obviously not overpriced. We had forecast that the Dow was undervalued and that it would rise from the 1982 low of 769.98 and test the 2500 level in two years in 1985. Indeed, it reached 2695.47 by September 1987. We also projected that by the next decade, the Dow would test 6,000 on its next rally.
Even the press in Japan was shocked. We were also projected that Crude would fall below $10 in 1998. Indeed, that forecast was covered by Mark Pitman at Bloomberg News. It bottomed at $10.65 in 1998. In gold would forecast that it would drop to test $250 by 1999 completing a 19-year cycle low. Then gold would rally to test 1,000. Gold reached the $1,000 level by 2008. The Japanese press thought those forecasts were wild, to say the least.
The SECOND aspect of our advice to the takeover boys of the ’80s was something the press NEVER understood. We would advise borrowing in one currency for an asset in another. We were able to turn debt into a performing asset. We would make 20-40% profit on the currency alone. Often, the press would just look at the debt and not understand what we were even doing.
Most of this reasoning stems from Sir Tomas Gresham’s observations when he represented England at the Amsterdam exchange during the reign of Henry VI’s reign and debasement. As Henry debased the silver coinage as was taking place in Spain, the more they debased the coinage, the higher the inflation took place. His observation that bad money drives out the good has been grossly misunderstood. When I was growing up, they took the silver out of the coinage in 1965. People were culling out the silver showing that the debased new coinage of 1965 drove out of circulation the old silver coinage. The same thing has taken place with the copper pennings.
Because people hoard old coinage, the money supply shrinks. That then forces the government to issue far more debased coinage to compensate for the coinage that has been withdrawn from hoarding. Consequently, inflation unfolds for all tangible assets to rise in value as expressed in the newly debased coinage.
What these people always try to sell is the same old scenario that they cannot point to a single instance in history where everything collapses to dust but only gold survives. Such periods will typically result in revolution. When Caesar crossed the Rubicon, that was also all bout a debt crisis.
You must also understand that interest rates will be at their LOWEST internationally in the core economy of the Financial Capital of the World – which is the USA right now. The further you move from the center, the higher the interest rate will be. Hence, I have warned that the United States will be the LAST to fall – never the first. This is not based upon my opinion, this is simply historical fact.
We have interest rates back to 3000 BC and have studied the impact of such convulsions in economic history. As for the Debt Crisis that forced Caesar to cross the Rubicon, I suggest you read Anatomy of a Debt Crisis that appears, only Julius Caesar ever understood.
The Bottom Line is very simple. There is just no such period as people describe where everything turns to dust and only gold survives. Even if that were true, they what good would the gold do if everything else is worth ZERO? Gold would have also ZERO value since nothing would have value.
The real issue is that as government defaults unfold, tangible assets will rise in value for the amount of money in debt always dwarfs that in even the stock market. We are in a Sovereign Debt Crisis and that is very different from a private debt crisis.