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The (Very) Rich Get (Much) Richer

International Commentary

How do we define the term “obscenely wealthy”? We start with people who already have more wealth than any humans in the history of our species. We then watch these people getting much wealthier, much faster than anyone else on the planet. And then we listen to them lusting for even more wealth.

No one does a better job of illustrating obscene wealth than the lovers-of-Big-Money at Bloomberg. It’s recent headline summarizes this attitude perfectly:

Billionaires Worth $1.9 Trillion Seek Advantage in 2013

We have a handful of Oligarchs sitting on a mountain of wealth large enough to completely eliminate global poverty – with enough left over for they and their entire family clans to live lives of perpetual luxury. However this is not the truly “obscene” aspect of this paradigm. The true obscenity lies in the fact that these Oligarchs remain obsessed with getting much richer, much faster – and at the expense (literally) of everyone else.

Again, Bloomberg illustrates this for us with perfect clarity. It notes that these billionaires who were worth roughly $1.65 trillion at the beginning of 2012 are now worth $1.9 trillion at the end of 2012. That’s approximately a 15% increase in their total wealth, in one year, after paying(?) their taxes, and after all the lavish spending which characterizes the life of the average billionaire.

How many of the Working Poor got 15% wealthier last year – after paying their taxes and all their living expenses? Zero? Indeed, only the most entrepreneurial (or crooked) millionaires would have been able to increase their wealth at the obscene rate of these billionaires. Yet what do we hear out of the mouths of Billionaires like Warren Buffett? “Tax the millionaires.”

Specifically, tax the income of the millionaires (much harder). Note that the billionaires also have large incomes. However, once one acquires this obscene level of wealth, “income” becomes a trivial element of their total wealth.

Few billionaires have annual (taxable) “incomes” above $50 million/year. Yet for even a ‘bare’ billionaire this amounts to only 5% of their total wealth. So how did all of these billionaires get wealthier by an average of 15% last year alone? The untaxed appreciation of their vast assets.

Even if all the incomes of all the billionaires were taxed at 100%, these billionaires would still be getting wealthier much faster than anyone else in society.  This is why I continue to regularly point out in my commentaries that it is never possible to construct a fair tax system based on income taxation. Inevitably, income taxation makes those on the bottom much poorer, while allowing the Top-1% to accumulate (and hoard) wealth at a rate which would have made the kings and queens of the Middle Ages envious.

The only possible fair form of taxation is wealth taxation, specifically a flat wealth tax. Everyone pays the same rate, and no one (including the billionaires) is able to hide the vast majority of their wealth from the Tax Man. Thus when Warren Buffett says “tax the (incomes of the) millionaires”, he doesn’t say this because he wants to start paying his “fair share” of taxes. He says this so that he (and his Oligarch buddies) can continue to avoid paying their fair share.

Note that Bloomberg makes it clear that the Oligarchs aren’t satisfied with getting only 15% wealthier in one year. In 2013 they want an “advantage” for themselves. This presents two, obvious questions for readers.

How much richer do these Oligarchs think they are entitled to become in 2013? How much richer do the Oligarchs think the Little People are entitled to become in 2013?

 

The Three Legs of the Precious Metals Bull: Part II

Gold Commentary

In Part I, readers were again reminded of two of the primary reasons we should all be converting our decaying paper currencies to gold and silver. Currency dilution and price-suppression are realities which don’t merely suggest that bullion prices might rise in the future, but rather indicate why they must rise substantially.

However, precious metals investors don’t have to limit themselves to just those two reasons why bullion prices must rise dramatically over the longer term. There is a “third leg” to this argument which is an equally powerful dynamic, and also unequivocally certain to lead to much higher gold and silver prices.

Demographics:

I refer to the third leg of the precious metals bull as “demographics”, but in actuality this is just a reference to some of the extremely potent supply/demand fundamentals which are certain to drive bullion prices much higher.

In the global economy, it is common knowledge that there is a relentless transfer of wealth (and economic power) from West to East, as the thriving economies of Asia have real economic growth and real income growth amongst their populations.

In China, per capita income was only around $1,000/year (USD) in 2003. By 2011, that figure had exploded to nearly $3,500 (USD) per person, and China’s government is expecting a further doubling of that total by 2020. Given the explicit recommendation by official (i.e. government) media for the Chinese people to invest those rising incomes in bullion, we don’t simply suspect that Chinese bullion demand will continue to increase; we can be certain of it.

In India, per capita income finally crossed the $1,000/year threshold in 2011, which has already unleashed a wave of discretionary consumption; as low debt-levels/high savings and a low cost of living mean that Indian households are already rising above a subsistence existence at even these modest income levels.

However, Indians were voracious consumers of bullion even before they rose above this subsistence level, as their peasantry (who lack access to banking services) use their bullion holdings (generally in the form of jewelry) as their means of saving their wealth. This deep, cultural affinity for bullion is obviously unlikely to diminish as incomes rise further.

Instead, as indicated in a recent commentary; India has a huge, national gold-deficit – requiring the importation of hundreds of tons of bullion per year to satisfy domestic demand. With silver also widely held among the populace, there is a large silver deficit as well.

Meanwhile, in Indonesia – another very large Asian population with rising incomes and a growing economy – gold currency has already been introduced into the economy several years ago. And the appetite for gold in the Middle East petro-economies is nothing short of legendary. This is still another demonstration of the general understanding in Asia of a principle which is (as of yet) beyond the ken of Western Sheep: gold is money; paper is merely currency.

 

The Three Legs of the Precious Metals Bull: Part I

Gold Commentary

Normally, at this time of year writers tend to turn their thoughts toward making predictions for the upcoming year. My own belief is that this practice has turned into a Fool’s Game; as the saturation-level corruption in our markets and endemic propaganda from the Corporate Media mean that rationality is out the window.

Without accurate information  and legitimate, vigilant regulation; our markets have become nothing but rigged casinos – where “the House” doesn’t even honour its losing bets when inconvenient. Prices are no longer the product of supply/demand fundamentals, but merely the outcomes of crime.

In such an environment, investors are forced to purely “play defense.” The object is not simply to seek out promising investment opportunities, but rather to survive the rapacious plundering of the banking cabal. It is not enough to identify assets which “should” or “probably” will turn a profit.

Instead, investors need to identify asset classes which must appreciate in value (over the long term) at a greater rate than the spiraling inflation generated from the exponential money-printing of the banksters. At the top of the list are gold and silver, humanity’s ultimate shield against financial crime in general and (predatory) inflation in particular.

For those craving certainty/security in the most uncertain of times, the precious metals bull market (which began over a decade ago) offers “three legs” of support; or (alternately) three reasons why we know that gold and silver must outperform most/all other asset classes in our current circumstances.

Excessive money-printing:

Currency dilution is neither a theory, nor is it some obscure concept which can only be grasped by those with training in economics. Rather, it is the obvious and inevitable result of a simple relationship of arithmetic.

Incredibly, while nearly all but the most novice of investors understand the concept of “dilution” when it applies to the printing of shares by our corporations, virtually none of those same investors comprehend the dilution of our (fiat) currencies – despite the fact that currency-dilution is precisely analagous to share-dilution in virtually every respect.

If a corporation prints excessive quantities of its own shares, the share price will plummet. If the corrupt (private) bankers holding monopolies to all of our sovereign(?) printing presses print these fiat currencies in excessive quantities, they must plummet in value (i.e. purchasing power). This is “inflation.”

As we saw with the hyperinflation of Weimar Germany, it is possible to delay the effects of even the most extreme/insane excesses of money-printing. However, it is never possible to prevent such monetary depravity from totally destroying the value of one’s own paper.

How much is “too much” when it comes to money-printing? Under ordinary (i.e. sane) circumstances that can be a difficult answer to determine. Unfortunately current parameters are “extraordinary” in every respect – and not for the better.

Current Western money-printing grossly exceeds any other time in any modern, major Western economy, with the exception of Weimar Germany. Worse still, it continues to ramp-up at an exponential rate. And even worse, we have these rapacious banksters now openly using words like “unlimited” (Europe) and “open-ended” (the U.S.) to describe their suicidal money-printing.

   

Paper-Gold Fraud Now Out In The Open

Gold Commentary

How do you “stretch” an ounce of gold? Obviously if you want an answer to that question you ask the bankers.

Bankers have earned their generalized contempt in our societies, going back literally thousands of years. Formerly known as the “money-changers”, their Original Sin is well-known to anyone who has studied the history of these professional thieves.

As money-changers, they would graciously offer to “hold” peoples’ (heavy, bulky) gold for them; and exchange that for their convenient, light-as-a-feather “gold certificates.” Always the banksters would end up issuing far more certificates for gold than they actually had the gold to cover – and “fractional-reserve banking” was invented.

Eventually the insatiable greed of the banker would result in him issuing such an enormous surplus of “gold certificates” versus the actual gold he held that this money-dilution would be noticed by the general population. The bankers’ gold-scam would then quickly collapse and vast numbers of ordinary people would be wiped out (and so “capital punishment” was invented).

Thus ask a bankster how to stretch an ounce of gold, and (for thousands of years) his answer would be automatic: sell “paper gold.” Flash-forward two thousand years or so, and we see the banksters looking to fall back on their oldest crime to attempt to wallpaper over some of their newer ones.

We have a huge gold deficit (and silver deficit, as well) in the world today. New, incremental demand for gold grossly exceeds annual incremental mine-supply. This has become a permanent deficit, which by itself is absolute proof of market-manipulation.

The virtues of (actual) “free markets” are well-known to anyone familiar with basic market dynamics: they self-correct. If supply exceeds demand, the price falls to a sufficient level to discourage more supply and encourage more demand – until those simultaneous dynamics achieve equilibrium: supply and demand matching, with prices stable.

Conversely, where demand exceeds supply; prices must rise sufficiently so that more supply is encouraged and more demand is discouraged, until once again equilibrium is achieved. Thus a permanent supply-deficit is ipso facto proof of price-suppression.

The problem with the price-suppression of any kind of physical “good” is always the same, one inevitably runs out of inventory as the repressed supply and excessive demand caused by artificially low prices means that buyers will always outnumber sellers.

In the case of the banksters’ perennial gold-suppression scheme; their supply-deficit dilemma has caused them to recently focus on one target: the population of India. As the world’s most consistently voracious consumers of gold, permanently under-pricing gold has caused a predictable effect. There is a large “gold deficit” in India, as India must import vast quantities of gold each year to satisfy the excessive demand for gold caused by selling it at give-away prices.

As is generally the case, the Corporate Media has totally perverted its own explanation of this scenario. India’s large gold-deficit is being called a “current account deficit” – i.e. a paper deficit. This is absurd on multiple levels.

 

Smashing The Big Banks: Only The First Step

US Commentary

It was encouraging to see a recent article in the N.Y. Times arguing for the necessity of smashing the Big Bank Oligopoly in the U.S. Apparently not everyone has forgotten the basic fundamentals of economics.

Going all the way back to Adam Smith; all the economic theorists have acknowledged a central premise of capitalism: oligopolies (and/or monopolies) are predatory, parasitic abominations which can never be allowed to evolve in our economies. Or, as I put more succinctly in a previous commentary, “too big to fail = too big to exist.”

This premise is so self-evident that it should not even require elaboration. Yet the fact that these Vampire Banks not only exist but continue to grow shows that this simple truth is still not grasped by more than a small fraction of the population.

What is “too big to fail”? It is a group of (arrogant) Banking Oligarchs saying to the U.S. government (and governments across the West): “we’re so important that you must save us…or else.”

This is extortion. It cost U.S. taxpayers somewhere in the neighbourhood of $15 trillion in assorted hand-outs, 0% “loans”, and “guarantees” when Wall Street made its extortion demands in 2008. Since that time, the U.S. economy is much weaker, much more debt-leveraged (i.e. insolvent); and the Wall Street Vampires have been allowed to get even bigger.

The result? Serial extortion – in the form of the latest “QE” from the Federal Reserve: $500 billion per year in blackmail payments, ad infinitum. Purchasing the worst financial feces from the Wall Street Vampires, and taking this directly out of the pockets of ordinary Americans (via currency dilution).

Incredibly, the Sheep still don’t understand even this bankster crime of theft-in-broad-daylight, so perhaps a simple example will illustrate it. Seven Castaways are stranded on a desert isle. Even though they only have one “good” to purchase in their economy (coconuts); one of the Castaways happened to bring along a printing press, and so they decide to have their own money.

Ten Coconut Dollars are printed for each Castaway per month. Suddenly, one month one of the Castaways (let’s call him “Gilligan”) gets a brilliant idea as to how “they can all get rich”: print more money. Instead of printing only ten Coconut Dollars per Castaway each month they would print one thousand Coconut Dollars. So even if they never got rescued, they would soon all be “rich.”

Lacking any “Professor” to explain the folly of Gilligan’s plan, they all agree. However, what the Castaways quickly discover is that none of them are getting any wealthier at all. With their tiny island economy flooded with Coconut Dollars (one hundred times more), all that has happened is that prices also increased by a factor of one hundred.

Now let’s change our scenario slightly, and introduce a new Castaway: “Banker.” Banker happens to be the owner of the printing press, and Banker gets a different idea for “getting wealthy.” With complete control over the printing press, Banker decides that from now on while each of the other Castaways will continue to get ten Coconut Dollars each month that he will receive one thousand Coconut Dollars monthly.

Suddenly the dynamics change dramatically. Instead of our first example, where no one got any wealthier as price increases (naturally) matched the increase in the money supply; we have a much different scenario. Banker becomes wealthier and wealthier, as he continually gets a massive, new supply of Coconut Dollars.

   

Gold-Confiscation Coming To India?

Gold Commentary

As one of the loudest voices warning of the risks of “bullion confiscation” by our governments; it was no surprise to me to see the Corporate Media singing the virtues of bullion confiscation. What was a surprise is where this “initiative” purportedly originates: India.

Readers who follow the precious metals market are familiar with the dynamics here. Western Sheep choose to hold the bankers’ fraudulent paper currencies – despite our governments openly/explicitly driving the values of those currencies to zero with their “competitive devaluation.” It was this foolhardy mistake which is a major factor behind the greater-than-50% decline in the U.S. standard of living over the past 40 years.

Meanwhile the “peasants” in India (as well as many/most urban residents) do not engage in similar, suicidal behavior. They park their wealth in gold (and silver) bullion – immune to the print-and-dilute theft inherent in every fiat-currency system. It is one of the key reasons why Asian standards of living are rising, while those of the West plummet downward at the fastest rate in history.

In my own naivete, I had assumed that our predatory Western governments would target their own people for bullion confiscation, and look to steal the modest amount of savings of the shrewd minority in our societies who do hold precious metals. But apparently the bankers and Oligarchs have their sights set on a bigger prize: the largest private holdings of bullion in the world, in India.

Let’s be clear that this is obviously a Western proposal, as indicated by the English-speaking “front” organization used to deliver this propaganda. What is the substance of the proposal?

Households and temples carry about 25,000 metric tons [of gold] and a successful plan to gather at least 10 percent of the gold reserves for lending to jewelers will ensure supplies for three years…

So here we see the modest goal of the Western Oligarchs: harvesting (i.e. confiscating) “at least 10 percent” of Indians’ gold, and to apparently repeat this harvest every three years – since the propagandists putting forth this trial-balloon claim that a 10% harvest would only deal with the supposed “problem” faced by India for three years.

We see further evidence that the entity spewing this banker propaganda is nothing but a Western mouthpiece, as any genuine “Indian” entity would understand that proposing to plunder the gold from India’s religious temples would be an absolute “non-starter” for its ¾ billion population.

Just as phony as the organization itself is the supposed “problem” which this bullion-confiscation scheme claims to address: what it calls India’s “current account deficit.” Here a quick definition is in order for those not conversant with this economic jargon.

A current account deficit (or surplus) represents the flow of “money” into/out of an economy. Just as nations have “trade deficits” (and surpluses), so too it is a necessary proposition of arithmetic that each year there will be some nations with net in-flows of capital, and others with net out-flows.

What is phony here is the lie behind the mythical “current account deficit” of India. As the world’s largest importer of gold bullion, each year India has a large out-flow of the bankers’ bogus paper currencies and a large in-flow of real money: gold. Obviously you cannot have a “current account deficit” (or surplus) in exchanging one form of money for another.

 

A Different Look At Freeport Energy Deal

US Commentary

 

There were a number of points to examine regarding Freeport Copper & Gold Inc’s $9 billion purchase of two energy companies. Sadly, it doesn’t appear that the Corporate Media has latched onto any of them.

One report characterized this deal as:

a bold bid to diversify into the U.S. energy sector as copper’s prospects wane.

While this quote does absolutely nothing to explain the Freeport deal, it does perhaps come close to a record for cramming the most idiocy into a fourteen word sentence-fragment.

Let’s begin with the suggestion that “copper’s prospects” have waned. Has anyone heard the government of China (or any of the other Asian Tigers) proclaim that they planned to “stop growing” their economies? Has anyone ever heard of a modern economy which could develop itself without large amounts of copper (particularly copper wiring)?

The ¾ of the world’s population in “emerging economies” are at most ¼ of the way toward catching up with the more technologically advanced West. This means we are still in the early stages of the longest/strongest global economic boom in history. Thus the inference that Freeport is somehow bailing-out of copper production and moving into oil & gas is just silly.

Similarly, the suggestion further into the same article that it has become “too hard to find” new copper projects to develop (and that’s why Freeport is moving into energy) is an absurd interpretation of the actual dynamics here. Unlike oil, no one is talking about “peak copper.” There is plenty of copper in the world. All that has changed is that as the richest deposits get mined-out these mega-producers have been forced to move toward lower-grade projects – in order to find the mega-tonnages that these mining giants lust over.

Here we get to the true purpose of the Freeport deal: hedging. What we are supposed to believe here is that none of the business news reporters from Forbes, or Reuters, or these other Corporate Media enclaves understand that mining companies use lots of energy. Apart from wages, energy costs are far-and-away the largest cost of production.

As lower-grade copper deposits (in the future) make copper miners like Freeport even more energy-intensive companies, and Peak Oil ensures that energy prices will increase at least as fast as copper prices; this is not a “bold move” at all. Rather, it would be reckless for these mining giants to forge ahead with their operations without some strategic plan in place to mitigate against rising energy prices.

Indeed, the Yahoo article explicitly notes that “a handful of major miners” have already added oil & gas assets. Yet despite now several examples of what is an obvious hedging strategy, we’re supposed to believe that no one in the Corporate Media can figure out what is really going on here?

   

Revett Minerals: Copper, Silver, and ‘Green’

Silver Commentary

by Brian Boutilier

 

As 2012 winds down and I look ahead to the investment climate in 2013, I’m troubled by increasing warnings of potential “hyperinflation” ahead. As an investor, one way I can deal with this potential threat is to look for producing mining companies with large, verified resource deposits, and the capacity to develop these resources. One Company which fits that description is Revett Minerals, a copper and silver miner that I recently had the pleasure of visiting on a recent tour of their operations.

Imagine if you will, a morning walk, the muted foot-falls of leather on a dirt path. The quiet of a valley morning unbroken, the view ringed by the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness of Montana. An inverted mist hanging over a stream, the air so moist it seems a shame to let the morning sun break up such a splendorous sight. A bend in the road, and another scene evolves.

There are banked hills, and earthworks akin to what The Army of Engineers would create, such as for a small reservoir. Upon further inspection, this appears as an upper plateau, tall grass growing pale under the sun, the valley a few hundred meters distant. In that valley, a stream runs through, laden with trout; frogs sunning themselves on the bank. A stand of yellow pines blankets the far hillside, fair cover for elk to calf in the spring.

This scene is disrupted by activity in the foreground, pipes are delivering a brown, clay-like slurry coming from the direction of the mountain range above. Its contents landing like a soft serve, piling up over time. Pan out, and one sees that there were hundreds of square meters of this dried slurry, aging, drying out, creating fields that are being planted. Something is going on here, perhaps some conservation experiment by the forest service?

Readers need to appreciate the natural beauty of Northern Montana. I just described the scene at the Troy Operation of Revett Minerals – an operating copper/silver mine -- amid the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness of the surrounding area. The “conservation experiment” is their tailing pond/fields.

This isn’t some “sideshow” for Environmentalists, but an operation within the operation, and one that Revett is very proud of. We spent as nearly as much time touring the tailings and conservation areas as we did the mine and the mill. Many in society have a pre-existing distrust of large mining operations, and the environmental hazards that they pose.

That being stated, it can be hard for some to wrap their heads around the idea that mining operations and conservation aren’t mutually exclusive. Yet when visiting Revett Minerals, you simply wouldn’t know you were near a mining operation if you didn’t have the sign to remind you.

One approaches the plant, and mine on a simple gravel road, ending in what appears to be a town garage in a rural area. The mine is further above, at the foot of the mountain with the ground-level entrance virtually out of sight. The ramp and tunnels ascend into the mountain. This is a unique ore body. While “underground”, it isn’t deep. There are few watering issues, the water runs naturally from mountaintop, down through the mountain. Even when its raining outside, or with snow melting in the spring, the water drainage issues through the mountain are minimal.

The ore-body consist primarily of 0.7% copper and 1 oz/ton silver, and is reportedly quite benign, having no arsenic or other chemicals that would harm the groundwater. They have to monitor the copper they are extracting, and a few other trace elements. The mine is a pleasant 55-60 degrees or so, and remains fairly constant throughout the year: mining heaven, and a robust workforce that appreciate how good they have it.

Because the ore-body is nearly devoid of chemicals such as arsenic, this makes it a comparatively clean operation from mine to mill to tailings pond below. The plant has no cyanide circuit, the end product is concentrate which is shipped to a smelter, for electrowinning and the eventual production of copper and silver. There are no leach fields, no liners; so consequently the ground water is not in danger of contamination by cyanide or other toxic chemicals.

 

When Prices Have No Meaning

Gold Commentary

A reader recently passed along some fascinating material providing a detailed review of the Weimar Hyperinflation experienced by Germany in the 1920’s, along with some astute analysis of those events in order to give readers a clear picture of this economic catastrophe.

The purpose of this piece, however, is not to review that article; so those interested in further enlightenment will have to obtain it on their own. What my own reading of that analysis provided was both some interesting surprises, along with reinforcement of several of my own economic premises.

Among the most important of these is the illusory nature of “change.” The Weimer Hyperinflation provides us with a classic illustration of that concept. Viewed from nearly a century in the future, our assumption is that this “episode” was characterized by a consistent progression: either the parabolic explosion in prices (and collapse in the value of currency) which we are taught defines hyperinflation, or (at the least) some steady-but-dramatic linear progression.

In fact Germany’s hyperinflation did not unfold like that at all. Rather, there were dramatic ebbs and surges, including intervals of weeks at a time where the Reichsmark actually rose in value versus other currencies. Imagine the difficulty in trying to convince the Average German that their currency was “being destroyed by hyperinflation” when they saw it rising in value for weeks at a time. Hyperinflation, what hyperinflation?

Undoubtedly, these Average Germans told themselves that if there were any hyperinflation event that they would “see it coming.” They were wrong. With the modern citizens of our (collectively doomed) Western economies, their folly is two-fold.

First they suffer from the same self-delusion of the German people: that they would/will see any economic catastrophe coming; or (at worst) recognize the event as it is happening. This alone is a potentially terminal lapse of judgment. Secondly, these Sheep have been deceived by the statistical lies of our duplicitous governments.

The poster-child for this deceit is the U.S. government. For nearly four years a Cast of Liars (from government, media, and the banking community) have assured Americans that they have been enjoying an economic recovery.” Meanwhile, in the real world; the percentage of employed Americans continues to relentlessly decline, while retail sales in this “consumer economy” are collapsing.

The economy of the world’s Great Energy Glutton is so anemic that the U.S. is now a net energy exporter”; due to plummeting demand within its own (energy-intensive) economy. If those reality-checks are not enough to rouse Americans from their propaganda-induced stupor, perhaps one final question will accomplish this. How could a “four-year recovery” take the U.S. directly to an economic Cliff?

By definition, any “recovery” should be taking the U.S. economy away from any kind of economic cliff; since any honest characterization of an “economic recovery” directly and necessarily implies that the economy is healing. The Fiscal Cliff which the Corporate Media is trumpeting with as much hysteria as they can muster is proof (by itself) that there never was any U.S. economic recovery.

   

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