In a recent tweet, U.S. president Donald Trump delved into an explosive, all-caps-loaded mini-rant about the necessity of getting “interest rates down to ZERO, or less.” The bombastic politician stressed the need for America to refinance its debt, trailing off with some superficially conservative speak about the U.S. and its “great currency, power, and balance sheet,” and calling the Fed “boneheads” for refusing to inflate credit bubbles further. Sycophantic support of the leader aside, negative interest rate policies (NIRP) are slowly but surely gaining prominence worldwide, setting everyone up for a fall that can only be solved by sound money and sound economic principle.
As the popular idiom goes, talk is cheap and lies are expensive. When it comes to national interest rate policies worldwide, the story is the same. While slashing rates may create short-term growth in a given economy, the long-term effect is to inflate credit bubbles which ultimately have to burst if not paid for. With the U.S. national debt currently sitting at over $22.5 trillion, it’s hard to imagine anything being paid up on. Ever.
While Trump’s tweet is worded to please the ears of an openly conservative-identifying support base, the underlying implications of what is being suggested are about as “conservative” as deciding to spend one’s entire paycheck at the strip club, and then selling plasma to fund a Maoist commune of unemployed California college hippie kids, all in order to receive their moral support later for help paying one’s bills.
NIRP policies are racking the world with more debt than ever recently, and while the flowery talk may sound pretty, it’s the common individual who always eats the dirt. Take Japan, for example. The current consumption tax was set to 8% in April, 2014. Next month, on October 1, it will jump to 10%. This is spite of the Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) current quantitative easing-friendly (QE) national interest rate of -0.1%. As Investopedia’s Sean Ross accurately surmises:
Wherever they have been tried, chronically low-interest rates and huge monetary expansions have failed to promote real economic growth. Quantitative easing (QE) did not achieve its stated objectives in the United States or the European Union (EU), and chronic low-interest rates have been unable to revive Japan’s once-thriving economy.
To deal with the hike and mask the downward spiral into recession, some Japanese businesses are simply changing price displays to not include tax, in a desperate bid to soften the perceived impact of the gutting.
Denmark and the 2008 U.S. Housing Crisis
As news.Bitcoin.com has reported previously, negative interest rates in Europe are “saving” local economies and value holders to the tune of more debt, illiquidity, and negative yielding bonds. Taking out loans for housing is now very cheap in Denmark, with some mortgage financing even dipping into the negative territory. Thanks to the fact that borrowing has never been cheaper, Danes are expected to take out more and more loans. For Americans and others familiar with the housing crisis and collapse of 2007-08, all of this sounds eerily familiar.
Prior to the U.S. housing crisis and ensuing global recession, the American government was — as per Trump’s current prescription — slashing interest rates. The federal funds rate was lowered from 6.5% to 1.75% in December 2001, and the liquidity that followed attracted borrowers without adequate income or assets to seek out low-quality loans. Lenders and banks were happy to oblige.
House prices shot up thanks to the new money on the market, and by June 2003 the interest rate was cut further to 1%, which was the lowest in 45 years. Sub-prime loans were then being repackaged and sold to investors as collateralized debt, and when people began to default, the whole house of cards imploded. The government’s solution? Just print hundreds of billions of dollars to buy the bad loans, further devaluing the U.S. dollar and increasing the national debt. For those with eyes to see, this is all a game being played with Monopoly money, where the banker can simply create more cash willy-nilly at any time. Trump may call bitcoin a “thin air” currency, but the truth is that his beloved USD is the real vapid scam being pushed here.
Nature Abhors a Vacuum – Sound Money As a Hedge
These days, more and more investors are talking about hedging against a global liquidity crisis with crypto and gold. The foundational reasons are fairly simple: both assets are limited (supply and demand dynamics thus protect against inflation), and both assets can be controlled privately, without the approval of third parties like governments or major banks. This is in stark contrast to the fiat model, where money is created arbitrarily, and the supply adjusted by self-interested third parties with little to no incentive to serve the currency’s larger userbase.
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) recently released a letter to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on September 12, announcing they are “self-certifying an increase of the spot month position limits for the Bitcoin Futures contract (the “Contract”), commencing with the October 2019 contract month and beyond.”
Intercontinental Exchange’s (ICE) Bakkt has announced they will launch daily and monthly bitcoin futures on September 23.
Bakkt Warehouse custody is live.
Now accepting customer bitcoin deposits and withdrawals. Only 17 days until the Bakkt Daily and Monthly Futures contracts launch on Sep 23.
For the everyday investor not interested in high-falutin, leveraged futures as a hedge, simply holding and investing in gold and bitcoin serves the same basic purpose, and often with less risk. In today’s volatile economic climate where major governments — even in traditionally anti-negative interest, Five Eyes Alliance (FVEY) countries — are chopping rates like there’s no tomorrow, an action as simple as holding sound money quietly is a move that could potentially save much financial heartache down the road.
Japan, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, and major banks like the European Central Bank and UBS are already employing negative rates. Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. are experimenting with slashing rates consistently. President Trump’s wild proclamation that this is just what the doctor ordered comes at a time of worldwide skepticism, when more and more individuals are waking up to the fact that no matter how much money is printed, resources are limited, and supply and demand is a reality that must be faced.
Should the vacuum seal of negative rates and Keynesian QE crack, rest assured that the oxygen of free market principles and sound money will rush in to fill the gaps immediately, but there may not be enough to go around. In this light, Trump’s call for more credit can be seen as a call to individuals worldwide to invest in sound money as soon as possible, and with importunity.
What are your thoughts on Trump’s tweet? Let us know in the comments section below.
Op-ed disclaimer: This is an Op-ed article. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the Op-ed article. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the content. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any information in this Op-ed article.
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Graham Smith is an American expat living in Japan, and the founder of Voluntary Japan—an initiative dedicated to spreading the philosophies of unschooling, individual self-ownership, and economic freedom in the land of the rising sun.