Tuesday, January 18, 2011

US Debt Ceiling Vote to Ignite Armageddon in Bond Markets? Key Indicators all Point to Inflation

1/18/2011 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…
For some months now we have been wrestling with the notion that there will be a major collapse in the Bond Markets.  We have speculated as to the causes and possible effects in these chronicles, comparing the coming events to the battle of Armageddon, famously prophesied by John in the book of Revelation, Chapter 16.  Bondholders have been lured into a valley, and our guess is that they are about to get slaughtered.
When and how will this occur?  This is the subject of our speculation today.  Be forewarned, fellow Gambler, that we do not have any sort of inside information.  Rather, we rely on our own wild imagination and questionable powers of deduction.  Actual events may differ dramatically from what we imagine, and we pray that they will!
Our current speculation has its origin in digesting the reality of the upcoming Congressional vote as to whether or not to raise the debt ceiling.  In the past, this would barely have been news.  The government almost always, without fail, spends more money than it takes in. This is one of the few things that you can count on a democratically elected government to do.  To cover the deficit, the government must issue debt.  Since there is almost always a deficit and there is almost always interest to be paid on existing debt, the amount of debt owed by the government must always increase.  This is the basis of our current insane monetary system.
 But wait!  Along comes a group of Congressmen and women that either don't understand the game or are unwilling to play along any longer.  They appear, at least from their rhetoric, to be set to vote AGAINST raising the debt ceiling (the total amount of debt that the US Government can officially borrow).  In theory, this would mean that Government expenditures would have to be immediately reduced by $1 Trillion, the projected deficit for current fiscal year, and further reduced to give them the ability to roll over the roughly $3 Trillion dollars worth of US Treasury debt that is set to mature in 2011, even assuming that it can be rolled over at 0% interest.  Both of these are plausible but highly unlikely scenarios.
The General Trajectory of Our Insane Monetary System Resembles a Warp Curve!
As an aside, you can watch all of the dizzying US Debt statistics here.  We advise you to take some Dramamine beforehand.
However, a "NO" vote on raising the debt ceiling would make these highly unlikely scenarios not only likely but absolutely necessary.  A "NO" vote would likely trigger a sell-off not only in the US Treasury Debt Markets but also in every fixed income and equity market on the planet.  This sell-off would lead to an unprecedented amount of cash chasing around a finite number of real goods.  
In short, the end result of a "NO" vote would be a paralyzed Government and hyperinflation.
On the other hand, a "YES" vote is no picnic either.  Many of these Congressmen and women were around the last time they had to vote on a measure with such broad reaching financial implications.  Does the TARP Fiasco of 2008 ring a bell?
On the bright side, a "NO" vote would bring an abrupt end to the insanity of the present world monetary system.  A system that is based on debt, not real money, which causes the productive forces of mankind to cannibalize themselves.  After the initial shock, a "NO" vote would be a great thing for mankind.  Do today's politicians have the backbone to do this?  Only time will tell, but here at The Mint, we believe that at this point a "NO" vote or a stall tactic (which is practically the same thing) may in fact be likely to occur this spring.  We are not alone in this boat, as back in November former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin alluded to this vote as a possible "trigger" for a "rout in the Treasury Market."
While all signs in the Bond Markets point to an implosion, either this spring or at some unspecified date in the future, all of our Key Indicators here at The Mint are continuing to point to Inflation.  It is for this very reason that we observe them daily, to ensure that our hypothesis is correct.  These are the "cards" the we hold as gamblers.  Each one merits in depth study as to its economic significance but we will spare our fellow gamblers this depth for now and jump directly to the practical application. 
At the end of every Mint, we present the Key Indicators.  We encourage you to compare them with the Key Indicators from previous Mints.  If the Key Indicators are generally higher (with three exceptions) than they have been in the past, we expect inflation, maybe a lot of it.  If they are lower, we would expect deflation.  The magnitude of the inflation or deflation depends upon the magnitude of the changes in the numbers.
The three exceptions, of course, are the "FED Target Rate", the "MINT Perceived Target Rate", and the "Inflation Rate (CPI)."  In the case of these three indicators, if the number is lower than it has been in the past, we can expect inflation.  If they are higher, we would expect deflation.   
You may also click on each data point below for a link to its source to better perform trend analysis.
The timing of what is to come is a mystery.  Based on recent data, inflation is walking up the drive but still a ways from the door.  If we had to guess, we would expect inflation in full force by January 2012.  If Congress pulls the trigger with a "NO" vote this spring, it could arrive quite a bit sooner.
As Kenny Rogers wisely said, "Know when to walk away and know when to run!"
Stay Fresh!
P.S.  If you enjoy or at least tolerate The Mint please share us with your friends, family, and associates!
Key Indicators for Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

*See FED Perceived Economic Effect Rate Chart at bottom of blog.  This rate is the FED Target rate with a 39 month lag, representing the time it takes for the FED Target rate changes to affect the real economy.  This is a 39 months head start that the FED member banks have on the rest of us on using the new money that is created.