Why the Air Is About to Come Out of America's Bubble Economy - Peter Schiff
Published on July 18, 2017
00:00:00 I'm going to continue the talk from earlier today. By the way, if anybody has any questions, I will try to answer them at the booth outside. We'll have the booth over it, Gold Money and then if you have any cards that you filled out earlier today, you can hand them back to me.
00:00:22 In fact, if you didn’t get a card, you want to fill up your name, get them in my mailing list, I will – you can grab some at the booth or here, just past them up. Now, the U.S. economy is probably the most important economy from the perspective of most investors. We are the largest economy. We want to measure it by GDP. We are certainly the biggest debtors.
00:00:56 Americans borrow money from every other country. We borrow money from the poorest people in the world, are lending money to the United States. We are the world's biggest reporter. Of course we don’t pay for our imports with exports like a lot of other countries do. We just issue IOUs, so the world loans us the money that we need to buy the products that they produced. They're loaning us money now at the lowest interest rates in history. Why is that? Why is America able to borrow so much money in such a low rate of interest?
00:01:32 You're talking about interest rates that have never existed and this of course is not just United States. Other countries are borrowing money. Rates that have never been known in recorded history. If you think of interest, as the price of borrowing money, what determines prices supply and demand? Why would a society have low interest rates? It would be a society that has lot of savings. Lots of people were under consuming and saving and very few people were borrowing. Does that sound like the United States? It's actually the opposite of the United States right?
00:02:08 Nobody is saving. You'd have to be a moron to save but most people can't afford to save. They can't even afford to spend, right? They have to borrow. They don’t earn enough money. They have gone into debt in order to spend, so there's no savings. Of course, Governments, there's massive amount of Government debt and not just the Federal Government. The Federal Government has a $20 trillion national debt, but that's the tip of the iceberg, right?
00:02:34 There's a lot more beneath the surface. The Government guarantees all the student loans. It guarantees all the bank accounts. It guarantees all the pensions. Where is that liability? It's not part of that $20 trillion. Obviously, a lot of those contingency liabilities are going to be real. Then the Government has all sorts of debts like social security, Medicare, now Obama care, Trump care, maybe, who knows.
00:03:03 The Government has committed the taxpayer to all sorts of liabilities that are just as real as that $20 trillion because believe me, people who are expecting social security, they expect that money. Same thing for people who work for the government and they are expecting a government pension. Those government pensions are real liabilities, just like the box, that creditors bought. You add all that debt together and you're talking about, I don’t know, $100 trillion plus number.
00:03:33 Then you've got U.S. Corporations that are loaded up with debt. Why do you think the stock market is so high. Because companies are making all these profits now. Companies are able to buy back their shares with debt. They're able to sell bus at very, very low rates of interest and then take the proceeds and buyback their own stock and push up the value of their shares. What about American households? Do they have any savings? They're loaded up with debt. One of the statistics I hear which is really not true is that, oh well, American household debt is not as bad as it was, let's say in 2008. It's actually worse.
00:04:14 In fact, if you look at U.S. household debt, it has now eclipsed the levels it was at just before the 2008 financial crisis. We had a crisis that was brought about by excess debt and now we have more debt today, than we had then. It's actually worse because mortgage debt has actually come down rather significantly. If mortgage debt has come down, how is it that Americans have more debt now.
00:04:43 Because the homeowners ship rate in United States has fallen to a nearer 60 year loan. A lot of Americans that had homes and mortgages in 2008 don’t have either today, right? You can't have mortgage debt unless you own a home. A lot of homeowners are now renters so they don’t have that mortgage debt. What else they don’t have is they don’t have home equity. In 2008, a lot of Americans had houses that exceeded the value at least on paper of their mortgages, so they had an asset as part of their net worth.
00:05:19 Today, for a lot of Americans, that asset is gone. Yet the debts are still there. Why do Americans have more debt today despite the fact that a lot of Americans don’t have mortgages? That's because of credit card debt. It's because of student loans, and it's because of automobile debt, right? You have over a trillion dollars in each of these categories. If you add up all three, you've got over $3.5 trillion of student loans, credit card debt and auto-debt. That has been fueling U.S. consumption.
00:05:55 It hasn’t been income, it's been debt. It's been the ability to buy things that you can afford on credit with cheap money. Now of course, some people will point to the low unemployment rate to say, well the U.S. economies are in good shape. Because look at how low the unemployment rate is, right? Its low as it's been, in like 50 or 60 years. If unemployment is really that low, right? First of all, why did so many people vote for Donald Trump? If the economy is that great, why didn’t people want more of the same?
00:06:29 Why didn’t people vote for Hilary Clinton so that all that great stuff would continue? Why did people wanted to change something that is good? Because that number nonsense. The way the Government measures unemployment is similar to the way they measure inflation. The number is not designed to be accurate. It's design to paint a rosy scenario so that people believe that things are better in the U.S. economy.
00:06:56 How did the unemployment rate get to be so low? Is it because so many Americans that used to be unemployed are now working? No. It's because so many Americans that used to be employed aren't even looking for jobs. If you're not looking for a job, then you're not counted as being unemployed.
00:07:14 The other way that the government was able to manufacture all these employment is by counting people who have part-time jobs as being employed. Because once upon a time, if you are a part-time job, that didn’t count. Especially if you were looking for a full-time job because sometimes, people take a part-time job just to make ends meet while they're looking for a full time job. If you still spend most of your time looking for work, you're unemployed, right?
00:07:41 If you're an engineer but you're cooking French fries for 20 hours a week and then you're spending the rest of your day looking an engineering job, you're an unemployed engineer. You're not a fry cook. Now, if you have any job, even if you work an hour a week, you're employed. Even if you spend the other 40 hours looking for a job, you don’t count as being unemployed.
00:08:05 In fact, if you have more than one part-time job, but all of your part-time jobs together add up to a full-time job, all those part-time jobs get scored by the Government as being full-time jobs. See, that's one of the reasons that we were able to create 200,000 jobs a month, month after month under Barack Obama, it was because we had this massive transition in the U.S. economy from full-time employment to part-time employment and a lot of that was driven by Obama care itself. Because when Obama care was passed, the law said that if you are an employer and you have 50 full-time workers, you have to provide very expensive health insurance for every one of your employees.
00:08:53 What that law effectively did would say that you're not going to have more than 50 employees. An employee has to be somebody who works full-time. You have to work 30 hours or more. What the employer said okay, we're not going to have more than 50 full-time employees and it's actually worst. Like if you own a bunch of Franchises.
00:09:14 Let's say I own a bunch of McDonald's Franchises, because sometimes four people own more than one restaurant. If I own five restaurants and collectively, all five of my restaurants have 50 employees, I got to pay the health insurance for everybody. It's not per restaurant, right? People that owned a number of these small restaurants knew, okay, I can't have full-time workers.
00:09:38 All throughout the United states, employers were transitioning from a full-time work force to a part-time workforce. Because it was too expensive to employee part-time people because of Obama care. Now what does that do to the numbers? That means all sorts of jobs are going to be created. Look at employment in United States.
00:10:00 You can look at employment in the restaurant industry, in waiters, waitresses, off the charts. We've created so many jobs yet few Americans were actually eating out. Look at what's happening to a lot of the restaurant stocks. Same thing in retail. We've created all these retail jobs. Yet retail store after store in America is shuttering, shuttering.
00:10:18 In fact, the retail industry in United States today is in worse shape, if you look at store closings, and layoffs, I mean just store closings rather and bankruptcies. Retail is in worse shape now than it was in 2008. If restaurants and people aren't needed out and if people are in shopping, it break in more stores.
00:10:38 Why has there so much clarity? Why have we created so many jobs in these sectors, 10 percent? I think 10 percent of all the jobs created under Barack Obama were created in retail. Restaurants, or stores, how's that possible?
00:10:53 Again, it's all because of the part-time people. If you lay off a full-time worker and you replace them with two part-time workers that's one plus one job, right? When they report to jobs, they don’t report quality of jobs. They take us report the net. If you lose 100,000 full-time jobs and you create 200,000 part-time jobs, that's plus 100,000.
00:11:20 In fact if you look at Americans now, the number of Americans who have two and three jobs at all-time record high. Many Americans now working three jobs but they don’t even make as much money now as they did when they had one real job. We lost a lot of productive jobs, a lot of goods producing jobs and we have all these low paying, service sector, non-productive jobs which is why the trade debts that keeps going. We're employing all these people, why don’t we see a reduction in trade debts? Because they're not making anything, right?
00:11:51 They're employed but they're not productively employed. When they spend their paychecks, they have to spend it on products that were made in other countries and so more and more stuff is being imported. You see the trade debts that's going up. They're not going down. If America has a real economic recovery, you would see our trade balances declining. People like say, oh no, when people are wealthy, they go out and spend more. No. When they're wealthy, they produce more, right? Production is a sign of affluence, right?
00:12:20 Debt and consumption are not, right? Or, let's say all America is just prosperous economy and that's why we're going into debt. A sign of prosperity is getting yourself out of debt, right? When you're paying off your liabilities and you're accumulating assets. That shows that a nation is as advancing. What the United States has been doing is we've been accumulating debt, but we put out all the statics and people look at, the unemployment rate is so low. The GDP keeps growing.
00:12:49 Well why does the GDP growing? The GDP I think is really growing is because the inflation, the actual inflation in U.S. economy is being underestimated. The government I just read that government economist are now claiming that inflation is being overstated, right. That it actually, that they need to change the measurement again. The last time they did this was sort of basking commission, right?
00:13:16 Back in the 1980s, the government said, hey, our inflation measures are wrong and we got to go and refigure it because the numbers are too low, right? They said that the official numbers we under estimating inflation. They went back and they change the way they calculate inflation. What do you know, now inflation is slower, right? Not because prices are rising more slowly, it's just because of the way that we measure the rice and of course, what are the politicians saying again with the economist.
00:13:45 They're saying that the current way that we calculate inflation is still not giving enough credit for improvement and quality. They're saying, we've got to make more reductions because things are getting so much better. They don’t really cost more. We're just getting so much more for our money. From my perspective, there are a lot of things where the quality is going way down.
00:14:08 In fact, there're probably more examples where you get less for more. None of that gets factored in to the CP. All sorts of things that used to be able to buy that were fully assembled. Now you buy and it's in 100 pieces. You got to put together yourself, but it takes you three or four hours. What's your time worth, right? According to the government, nothing, right?
00:14:30 There're a lot of products where it's going the other way. All these, government is trying to manipulate. Our nominal GDP growth in United States is been minimal, right? We haven't even had under Barack Obama, we didn’t have one year or three percent growth. Generally, we had growth of under 2 percent. We had 1.2 is what the government estimated annualized for the first quarter for the U.S. That's despite the fact that we've had the lowest inflation at least the lowest official measures of inflation ever.
00:15:02 I think if we had a more accurate, a more honest measure of inflation, the result would reveal that the United States is pretty much banned in recession for the entirety of this recovery. I mentioned it my talk earlier today that this is the first recovery that is actually weaker than the recession that we recovered from, right? It's the first recovery where people are poor at the end than at the beginning, right? Real net worth's went down during the recovery. Real wages fell during the recovery. It doesn’t sound like a recovery and the reason is because it's not. The government manufactured, it was statistics. The statistics in fool the voters. That's why the voters elected Donald Trump because they wanted change.
00:15:47 Unfortunately, they're not going to get change, they're going to get more of the same because I think we are now and I had mentioned earlier, headed for a complete collapse of the system. I don’t think there's much more air that can be put into this bubble, right?
00:16:03 The 2008 financial crisis was a sign that the end is here or end is near. That was the beginning of a process but the fact that the Central Banks and not just the Federal Reserve but Central Banks all right around the world have had to pull out the stops to try to keep the wheels from coming off this bus. You've got interest rates now in Europe that are negative, in Japan.
00:16:28 They're not negative here but real rates are negative in the United States because if you look at even the government’s own inflation measures as bad as they are still show that we have negative interest rates in real terms. The reason that Central Banks have been able to con the world into accepting this is the idea that there's no inflation. That there's never going to be inflation. This is about to change. If you look at measured inflation rates around the world as bad as these numbers are, you're still seeing official inflation in United States, Europe and Japan around five, six year highs all of these Central Banks.
00:17:06 Now even in Europe the CPI now is 1.9 percent year over year increase. That’s it. They can't let it go any higher, right? If you ever listen to Mario Droggy, he always says that the goal of our monetary policy is to have inflation close to but below 2 percent. That’s it, 1.9. You can't really get much closer than that and if you get to 2, that’s too high.
00:17:35 They're going to have to start back tracking. People are going to find out and Central Bankers are going to find out that inflation is a very difficult genie to put back on the bottle. You cannot stop on a dime. This whole inflation targeting is complete nonsense that we need some positive amount of inflation as if inflation is actually beneficial. That without inflation, right? When I say inflation they really mean rising prices, right?
00:18:03 Commerce thinks we need price to rise by almost 2 percent a year. If they don’t it's going to be a disaster, right? Prices going up only by 1 percent. Why is that a problem? If the cost of living goes up one percent why is that worse than the cost of living going up to two percent? What's the problem is the cost of living goes down? Isn't that good thing, right? If my cost are lower, if food is cheaper, if education is cheaper, if healthcare is cheaper. What's wrong with that, right?
00:18:33 My cell phones get cheaper. No one complains about that. That’s not a bad thing. Computers get cheaper, right? This whole stuff is a bunch of nonsense. The governments are trying to justify inflation by trying to claim that it's good for us. It's not good for us. It's good for governments. It's good for debtors, right.
00:18:51 What's going to happen is as these inflation rates pick up and they're going to pick up in the United States as well. What are the Central Banks going to do particularly in the United States? Nothing. It's all talk and no bite. The U.S. Economy as I said earlier this phony recovery has about run out of steam, right?
00:19:10 We have this recovery has been going on for eight, nine years or something like that. It started 2009. It's already I think the second or third longest recovery in U.S. history. It is the weakest recovery in U.S. history even the way that government measures it. It's required more stimulus. We've had more government stimulus than ever before. More money printing, more artificial and all they can produce is one of the weakest recoveries ever.
00:19:37 According to the budget that Donald Trump just submitted to Congress it's going to last for another 10 years. America is not going to have recession according to Trump for at least another 10 years. According to Trump the economy is going to grow by 3 percent average during those 10 years that we have no recession despite the fact that we haven't had one in what, eight years.
00:20:00 Which would mean that if the Trump budget is correct this is going to be the longest expansion in U.S. history. It'll be more than two as long as the second longest, right? None of this stuff is true.
00:20:16 Once the economy turns down which it will. I mean we could enter a recession this year. We could be there. Remember the government doesn’t admit you're in a recession in many cases till it's almost over. Remember the Great Recession of 2008. I was going on television shows summer of '08 talking about this recession that I thought was coming. We were already in it, right.
00:20:42 The people I was arguing with we're saying oh no, no, there's no recession coming. Everything is great, right, in mid-2008. When they went back and tried to figure out the beginning of the recession they went back and changed all the GDP numbers.
00:20:59 They went back to the fourth quarter of 2007. They said that’s when recession began. They didn't admit that till it was close to the end of 2008. Then they went backwards and they said all the numbers that we gave were wrong. The first quarter which the government said we grew at 1.2 percent. Who knows?
00:21:18 Six months from now, nine months from now they could go back and say no, the economy contracted. We got some numbers wrong. A lot of the numbers are just guessing anyway. Again the inflation numbers are much too low to be believable. We go back into recession. The Federal Reserve is going to what are they going to do? They're going to cut interest rates. By how much are they going to cut them? They are almost at zero. Even if they succeed.
00:21:45 Let's assume they raise interest rates again in June, right? The markets figure the odds of that are 100 percent. If that’s true despite how bad the economic data because remember the Federal Reserve has been saying the whole time that their data dependent. Meanwhile, the data that they claim on to depend on has been lousy, right?
00:22:05 One of the reasons I thought the Fed was not going to raise rates was because I thought they would use the week data as an excuse not to raise rates. They were dumb enough to raise rates anyway. It’s not because we don’t need higher interest rates. They should be much higher.
00:22:20 The Fed doesn’t care about doing what's right. The Fed cares about kicking the can down the road and just kind of putting band aides on a cancer because they don’t anybody to know how bad it is. When we have this next downturn since rates are only 1 percent, even if they raise them again, right, they'll be one to one in a quarter if they raise one more time, right.
00:22:44 Then we have recession. How much can they cut from 1 to zero? How much stimulus is that going to be? Where is this stimulus going to come from? The Fed has already said it, Quantitative Easing. They're going to do it all over again because they're convinced it worked so great the first time. Well it never worked the first time. That’s why the recession was so bad because the government interfered.
00:23:07 The government didn't allow the market. What should the Federal Reserve have done in the aftermath of 2008? They should have recognized that their policies caused the problem. That it was keeping interest rates too low that caused the speculative excesses and the economic imbalances. They should have allowed free market forces to correct the problems that they created. Instead they made all those problems bigger.
00:23:34 They bought us another phony recovery. Now we're going to have to deal with a real recession because when the Fed has to go back to QE4 that’s it. When the Fed did the first round of QE1 the dollar started to fall. Gold rose up to $1,900 an ounce, right? Because people began to be worried. This is not going to end well. This is bad. This is going to kill the dollar. They were right.
00:24:07 Then they became convinced they were wrong because all of sudden the Fed announced we're going to end this policy. We're going to topper Quantitative Easing. Everybody started talking about what a success the program was because now we're going to end it, right? Yeah, I mean it's easy to proclaim a success. It's easier to say we're going to end it without actually doing it. Yes, they've succeeded in raising interest rates up a tiny bit. Have they normalized them? Not even close.
00:24:39 Has their balance sheet shrunk? No, not by a dollar. They have, not only had they not allowed any bonds to roll off. They've reinvested every nickel in interest. Every interest payment that the Federal Reserve has received on any bonds that it owns it's used that money to buy more bonds.
00:24:59 The Fed is not been able to unwind this policy at all. They've nudge interest rates up a little bit. They're already setting the country up for the next recession. I think this one is going to be worse than the great recession. We have far more debt now than we had then. All the banks that were too big too fair we're they're much bigger now and they'll fail again.
00:25:19 They're going to have to go back to QE4. When this happens the world is going to recognize wait minute if they were not able to normalize interest rates the last time, if they could shrink a four and half trillion dollar balance sheet how are they going to shrink an eight trillion balance sheet or a $10 trillion balance sheet? Who knows how big this balance sheet is going to have to get, right, as a result of the next Quantitative Easing Program.
00:25:48 We go into the next recession they're going to have a tax cut, right? The government is going to cut taxes. No one’s going to be against the tax cut in a recession. Of course we're going to have this big infrastructure spending, right? The government is going to try to stimulate the economy by borrowing money and fixing roads or building bridges, if our deficits are already seven, eight hundred billion.
00:26:12 The national debt actually grows in America by about a trillion a year but somehow the budget deficit is not quite that high because a lot of the debt is off budget. It doesn’t matter if it's off budget. We still have to finance it. If we already have budget deficits of close of a trillion dollars a year during the recovery where are they going to go in the next recession, right? In the Great Recession they shot up to a trillion. This time they can go to two trillion.
00:26:37 Now how is the U.S. Government going to borrow two trillion dollars a year on top of all the money they have to borrow because our national debt is financed with short term paper, right? It's all like an adjustable rate mortgage. The Government doesn’t borrow for 30 years. It borrows for 30 days.
00:26:53 Now of course the Federal Reserve is pretending that it's going to unwind its balance sheet. Now the reason I say it's pretending is because it can't do it because if we're going to run large budget deficits how is the Federal Reserve going to sell bonds in competition with the Treasury. See a lot of people say well the Fed is not going to sell. They're just going to let the bonds mature and not roll them over.
00:27:15 That’s the same thing because if the Federal Reserve doesn’t roll over its debt then the Treasury has to sell an additional amount of debt that’s the same that isn't rolled over to repay the Fed because the Treasury doesn’t have dollars. The Federal Reserve creates dollars. The U.S. Treasury can't create any dollars so if the U.S. Treasury wants to get dollars to repay the Fed it has to borrow them in the market.
00:27:39 If it's not borrowing from the Fed it has to find a private buyer. Can you imagine having two trillion dollar deficits and at the same time the Federal Reserve or the Treasury having to borrow another 500 billion to pay off the Fed. Who's going to be buying all those bonds? Nobody. Who's buying bonds now? No real investor is buying U.S. Treasuries, 10 year treasuries at what 2 percent, whatever they're at or 30 year treasuries or not even 3 percent. Nobody is dumb enough to think that’s a good investment.
00:28:12 The buyers are foreign Central Banks. The buyers have been the Fed. The Fed is holding on to a huge portfolio of long term treasuries. Banks have them because they are required to have them as asset. Specula's, what happens is people borrow money short and then they buy treasuries and they live off the carry. If you do that with a lot of borrowed money you can make money.
00:28:35 There're no real investors in this market. I think that when the Fed goes back to QE4 nobody is going to believe that this is a success. Nobody is going to believe that it's going to end. As the official inflation numbers continue to move higher, right? The Fed inflation rate is 2.5 percent, 3 percent, 3.5 percent, 4 percent and they can go there very quickly. We're not too far. We're at 2.3, 2.4 percent right now. We're already above their so called 2 percent level.
00:29:07 Remember 4 percent inflation is where Nixon imposed wage and price controls. We're to go through 4 percent inflation. The Fed is going to do nothing. Why can't they do anything? Because it's impossible. Because we have too much debt. What would happen? What would happen if interest rates went up to 5 percent? What would the interest be on a 20 trillion dollar national debt? A trillion dollars a year.
00:29:27 That’s about four times what we spend right now. Where will the U.S. Government get the extra money to pay the higher interest? What would happen to the housing bubble if mortgage rates went up? What would happen to corporations if interest’s rates went up? What would happen to commercial real estate in the United States? It would all implode.
00:29:44 The whole house of cards is being held up by these artificially low interest rates. The only way we can service this debt is with these low interest rates. I mean we can never repay it. When our creditors figure that out that’s when they want their money back. That’s when the music is going to stop.
00:30:00 What's going to happen is as we go to QE, I don’t think the Foreign Central Banks are going to be financing it again. Remember Donald Trump will label people currency manipulators, right? No one is going to want to just start printing money and buying up dollars to artificially prop up the dollar where Trump is probably calling for weaker dollar and trying to single out countries that are manipulating the currency markets. What they're really doing is propping up the dollar.
00:30:22 When they stop propping up the dollar it's going to collapse. I think that ultimately the Federal Reserve sacrifices the dollar. It's the one thing that they don’t care about because they want to keep the bond bubble inflated. They want to keep the real estate bubble inflated. They want to keep the stock bubble inflated. The only way they can do that is by printing money and trying to postpone the pain.
00:30:44 By doing that they made the pain that much worse. All these bubbles are going to deflate because eventually the Federal Reserve is going to have to choose between turning the dollar into monopoly money, having hyperinflation or reluctantly and much too late eventually letting interest rates go up. They're not just going to go up a little.
00:31:04 They're going to go up a lot. They're not going to stop at 5 percent. Remember under Ronald Reagan and Paul Volker they went to 20 percent. If they can go to 20 percent back then when the United States was in much better shape economically. We had a much better balance sheet in 1980 than we do today.
00:31:18 If they can get to 20 percent then they can go there again and imagine what happens in the economy if that’s the case. I see there that I'm out of time. If anybody has any questions about this or what to do again I had the talk earlier about how to prepare your portfolio. I don’t think this is something that’s going to happen off in the distance. This is something that is going to happen soon as far as the scheme of your portfolio and your investments.
00:31:45 The quicker you can insulate yourself from this, the quicker you could devise a portfolio that will profit from this. There are going to be people that going to make money from what's going to happen. I mean far more people are going to lose money and more important than losing money, they're going to lose the purchasing power that’s associated with their money.
00:32:02 You're going to have a lot of poor people that are rich in paper currency. They're not going to be able to buy anything. The key is preserving your purchasing power and owning the assets that will retain that purchasing power and actually grow in purchasing power as this crisis unfolds.
00:32:18 Thank you.