July 16, 2008
Darryl Robert Schoon
In college, I majored in political science with a focus on East Asia
(B.A. University of California at Davis, 1966). My in-depth study of
economics did not occur until much later.
In the 1990s, I became curious about the Great Depression and in the
course of my study, I realized that most of my preconceptions about
money and the economy were just that - preconceptions. I, like most
others, did not really understand the nature of money and the
economy. Now, I have some insights and answers about these critical
In October 2005, Marshall Thurber, a close friend from law school
convened The Positive Deviant Network (the PDN), a group of
individuals whom Marshall believed to be "out-of-the-box" thinkers
and I was asked to join. The PDN became a major catalyst in my
writings on economic issues.
When I discovered others in the PDN shared my concerns about the US
economy, I began writing down my thoughts. In March 2007 I presented
my findings to the Positive Deviant Network in the form of an
in-depth 148- page analysis, "How to Survive the Crisis and Prosper
In The Process."
The reception to my presentation, though controversial, generated a
significant amount of interest; and in May 2007, "How To Survive The
Crisis And Prosper In The Process" was made available at
www.survivethecrisis.com and I
began writing articles on economic issues.
The interest in the book and my writings has been gratifying. During
its first two months,
accessed by over 10,000 viewers from 93 countries. Clearly, we had
struck a chord and
www.drschoon.com, has been created
to address this interest.
Communism was a public relations gift to the
By diverting the dialogue to “controlled versus
free markets” it obscured the bankers' real intent—to insert debt into every
aspect of free markets. The bankers' overwhelming success however would
destroy both the bankers and the free markets on which they preyed.
Parasitoidism is the relationship between a host and parasite where
the host is ultimately killed by the parasite. This is what is happening to
the US . Once the most powerful and productive economy in the world, the US
, indebted by bankers and government spending beyond its ability to repay,
is headed towards sovereign bankruptcy.
The recent request by US Treasury Secretary—and more importantly former
Chairman and CEO of investment bank Goldman Sachs— Henry Paulson to
bail out Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac with US taxpayer dollars is
but another indication of this destructive and parasitic relationship
between bankers, government and the economy.
That a private banker from a large Wall Street investment bank is also
Secretary of the US Treasury is no coincidence. It is also no coincidence
that once again, public monies from the US Treasury are being used to rescue
private bankers and to indemnify their losses.
THE FOX IS IN THE
GOLDMAN'S SACHING OF AMERICA
Receiving taxpayer dollars from the US Treasury for their private benefit is
not new to Goldman Sachs. In 1990s, when the Mexican government
defaulted on its bonds, investors at Goldman Sachs' stood to lose billions
of dollars. They didn't.
Buried deep in the subsequent $40 billion US bailout of Mexico was a $4
billion payment to Goldman Sachs, gratis of the US Treasury indemnifying
Goldman Sachs against any losses on their investment in Mexican bonds.
fact that current US Treasury Secretary and former Goldman Sachs CEO
Henry Paulson also recently used US funds to underwrite JP Morgan
Chase's private buyout of investment bank Bear Stearns and is now proposing
to do the same with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is to be
For investment bankers, using public money to
privately profit is business as usual.
They're ruining what has been one of the
greatest economies in the world, [Bernanke and Paulson] are bailing out
their friends on Wall Street but there are 300 million Americans that
are going to have to pay for this.
Jim Rogers, Chairman of Rogers
Holdings, July 14, 2008
THE TUMESCENCE OF
THE DETUMESENCE OF DEBT
It often happens that only in retrospect does the truth become apparent—at
least to most. Seduced by the vain hope of eternal profits, investors
blindly followed Alan Greenspan's prognostications when he was appointed
the Federal Reserve in 1987; in the beginning, it appeared that
Greenspan was right.
Now, two decades later Greenspan's errors are
A former director at investment bank JP Morgan, Greenspan clearly understood
the role of credit in today's economy. What he didn't understand were its
limitations. Greenspan's reputation as a maestro of the markets was built on
his continual feeding of cheap credit into the US economy thereby bolstering
asset prices and the profits of investors.
Greenspan's reputation at the time was well deserved, much as BALCO the
illegal steroid provider deserves credit for Barry Bond's astonishing
achievements in baseball late in his career. Credit has the same affect on
markets as does steroids on athletic performance. That is why both are so
Greenspan's continual feeding of credit into America 's economy fueled the
greatest expansion of capital markets in history. This directly led to
America 's fatal misperception of credit as the cause of its wealth. It is
now beginning to dawn on America that credit, in actuality, is the cause of
Credit is but debt in disguise and the American economy is now collapsing
under the weight of that debt—the bankers' effluence, extraordinary and
compounding levels of public, private and business debt that in only decades
has completely drained America of its once immense productivity and wealth.
FANNIE MAE AND FREDDIE
MAC - WHO'S NEXT
US mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac own or guarantee
$5.2 trillion of US mortgages or nearly half of US mortgage debt. As of
March 31st , however, the combined capital of the two insurers was only $81
billion, 1.6 % of the total owned or guaranteed.
With US housing prices continuing to fall, it was evident, contrary to
government assurances, that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did not have the
requisite capital needed to meet future obligations. The sudden decline in
the value of their shares forced US authorities to come to their rescue;
but, it will not be the last time the US will be forced to act in such a
The systemic distress set in motion by last August's credit contraction is
still continuing and the recent collapse of Bear Stearns and now Fannie Mae
and Freddie Mac are witness to that fact. We are only one year into the
contraction and although the liquidity provided by central banks has gone
beyond all previous levels, financial institutions are continuing to falter
It is possible that the FDIC, the insurer of America 's savings deposits,
may be next. The capital of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac equaled 1.6 % of the
sums they guaranteed. Prior to last week, the FDIC had only 1.2 % of the
funds necessary to cover the accounts they insure.
It is now estimated the bank failure of IndyMac last week cost the FDIC 10 %
of its capital, leaving the FDIC with even less than its previous 1.2 % to
cover additional bank defaults. As it is, $1 billion approximately 5 % of
IndyMac's deposits were not covered by the FDIC and it is estimated 37 % or
$7.07 trillion of US deposits are also similarly exposed to bank failures.
As financial institutions continue to fail, bank failures will increase. As
usual, government regulators at the FDIC maintain there is no problem.
Believe them and you might soon have problems of you own.
PARASITE HOST COLLAPSE
When central banking was introduced in England in 1694 and in the US in
1913, it could not have been foreseen that the spread of credit based money
would lead to such levels of indebtedness that systemic collapse would be a
possibility, let alone occur.
Only time would make that fact apparent and it now appears that sufficient
time has passed.
The economist Hyman Minsky described the three sequential steps of debt in
capital markets in his Financial Instability Hypothesis.
Three distinct income-debt relations for
economic units, which are labeled as hedge, speculative, and Ponzi
finance, can be identified. Hedge financing units are those which can
fulfill all of their contractual payment obligations by their cash
flows: the greater the weight of equity financing in the liability
structure, the greater the likelihood that the unit is a hedge financing
Speculative finance units are units that can
meet their payment commitments on ‘income account' on their liabilities,
even as they cannot repay the principal out of income cash flows. Such
units need to ‘roll over' their liabilities – issue new debt to meet
commitments on maturing debt. For Ponzi units , the cash flows from
operations are not sufficient to fill either the repayment of principal
or the interest on outstanding debts by their cash flows from
Such units can sell assets or borrow.
Borrowing to pay interest or selling assets to pay interest (and even
dividends) on common stocks lowers the equity of a unit, even as it
increases liabilities and the prior commitment of future incomes.
It can be shown that if hedge financing dominates, then the economy may
well be an equilibrium-seeking and containing system. In contrast, the
greater the weight of speculative and Ponzi finance, the greater the
likelihood that the economy is a deviation-amplifying system. The first
theorem of the financial instability hypothesis is that the economy has
financing regimes under which it is stable, and financing regimes in
which it is unstable.
The second theorem of the financial
instability hypothesis is that over periods of prolonged prosperity, the
economy transits from financial relations that make for a stable system
to financial relations that make for an unstable system.
In particular, over a protracted period of good times, capitalist
economies tend to move to a financial structure in which there is a
large weight to units engaged in speculative and Ponzi finance.
Furthermore, if an economy is in an inflationary state, and the
authorities attempt to exorcise inflation by monetary constraint, then
speculative units will become Ponzi units and the net worth of
previously Ponzi units will quickly evaporate. Consequently, units with
cash flow shortfalls will be forced to try to make positions by selling
This is likely to lead to a collapse of
As the US is now increasingly meeting its debt
obligations by rolling over present debt and/or by borrowing, it is now
according to Minsky's model, clearly in the Ponzi finance mode which can
precede a collapse of asset values.
According to Minsky, capital markets over time become increasingly unstable.
Asset values in real estate are now collapsing, equities will be next, bonds
will follow. Almost one hundred years after the Federal Reserve introduced
debt-based money to America in 1913, both host and parasite are now
approaching the same end, parcus nex, sic economic death.
Not only is the host, the US economy, in imminent danger, so too are the
parasites, the banks. Bridgewater Associates, the giant US hedge fund, has
warned its clients that current bank losses may reach $1.6 trillion, four
times previous estimates.
The implications are discussed by financial journalist Ambrose
Evans-Pritchard in The Telegraph.co.uk, July 8, 2008
Bank losses from credit crisis may run to
$1,600bn, warns Bridgewater
by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Bridgewater Associates has issued an apocalyptic warning to clients that
bank losses from the worldwide credit crisis may reach $1,600bn
(£800bn), four times official estimates and enough to pose a grave risk
to the financial system.
The giant US hedge fund said that it doubted whether lenders would be
able to shoulder the full losses, disguised until now by "mark-to-model"
methods of valuing structured credit.
"We are facing an avalanche of bad
assets. We have big doubts as to whether financial institutions will
be able to obtain enough new capital to cover their losses. The
credit crisis is going to get worse," said the group in a
confidential report, leaked to the Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung.
Bank losses on this scale would have
far-reaching effects. Lenders would have to curtail loans by roughly
10-to-one to preserve their capital ratios. This would imply a further
contraction of credit by up to $12,000bn worldwide unless banks could
raise fresh capital.
It would be almost impossible to attract or even find such sums from
investors. While sovereign wealth funds command roughly $3,000bn in
funds, this money is mostly committed already. The funds have grown
extremely wary of Western banks with sub-prime exposure after burning
their fingers so many times already.
Bridgewater said true losses would mushroom if the banks were compelled
to use "mark-to-market", which foretells a much crueler haircut for
investors in the outstanding pool of structured debt from mortgages,
credit cards, car loans and such like, together worth $26.6bn.
The International Monetary Fund has estimated bank losses of roughly
$400bn. A chunk has already been covered by fresh infusions of capital,
allowing the lenders to continue lubricating the global financial system
without having to squeeze credit too hard.
The great unknown is whether this is the end of the debacle. A number of
hedge funds believe the alleged losses - typically measured by the ABX
index - may overstate the likely level of defaults. They are buying the
spurned securities for as little as eight cents on the dollar.
If Bridgewater is anywhere near correct, governments alone have the
wherewithal to rescue the system. This would mean the de facto
nationalization of the banking systems in the US , Britain and Europe .
We are at the end of an era. Capitalism, itself,
is a misnomer.
It should instead be called creditism or
referred to by its subsequent state, debtism, for capital de facto
is credit, not money. This does not mean credit is not important. Credit is
an integral part of functioning economies but its use should be constrained
within gold and silver based monetary systems in order to prevent its abuse.
But in its present form where credit-based money (fiat money) completely
replaced gold and silver based currencies (savings-based money), central
bank originated credit has led to today's unsustainable levels of debt.
Trillions of dollars of that debt are now beginning to default and, as a
consequence, credit is being withdrawn by banks, the intermediaries of
credit in today's system. It will soon begin to appear that money is
becoming scarce. But that's an illusion. The money was never there in the
first place. It was only credit.
Real money, gold and silver currencies, were the first victims of central
banking in the US . The latest victims are those who are about to be
affected by the collapse of the US and global economy.
Central banking and its spawn, credit and debt,
are now everywhere and, unfortunately, so are the consequences.
GOLD SILVER & FIAT
The truth about money has been pushed out of public discussion by the
powerful forces closest to the spigots of credit and the trough of
government largesse. Now, because the edifice of paper money is crumbling,
the truth about money and gold and silver is finally being discussed—at
least on the internet.
Gold and silver are money is because gold and silver have intrinsic value
and function as storehouses of value as well as mediums of exchange. Fiat
money, paper money, has no intrinsic value. What fiat money does possess is
the ability to masquerade as money.
This ability, however, is temporary for governments and bankers cannot
resist the considerable temptation that paper money presents to them—for
governments, to spend what they do not have and for bankers, to extend
credit and debt beyond the limits gold and silver would otherwise present.
Money is a most interesting topic and because of its current abuse, we are
only now once again beginning to understand the monetary roles of gold and
silver. Recently, at Session IV of Gold Standard University Live, in
Hungary , I was fortunate to hear Professor Antal Fekete expound
on the historic role of gold in monetary systems.
It is self-evident that gold and silver possess monetary qualities that fiat
monies do not. What are less well-known are the virtues that such metals
bring to economies that understand their correct usage and role.
It is a world quite unlike ours, a world where producers and savers, not
speculators, are protected and rewarded, where the value of bonds are
constant, where interest rates are stable because of market forces, not
subject to the whims of politicians and bankers.
Such were the considerable thoughts and insights
Professor Fekete provided on these critical matters.
On our return from Hungary, Martha and I again
stopped at the Bank of England on Threadneedle Street in London, the
fountainhead of central bank credit-based money.
Over the Christmas holidays, I had worn my
bespoke pin-striped suit made of fine English gabardine complete with vest
and gold chain when I had my photo taken. This time, however, due to the
accelerating decline in the fortunes of central bankers everywhere, I
decided a more casual attire would be more appropriate.
Regarding fiat money, I cannot more highly recommend Ralph T. Foster's
Fiat Paper Money—The History And Evolution of our
Currency, a well researched and fascinating account of fiat
currencies throughout history. Once read, you will never again believe that
governments and bankers can resist the temptation to gain by the debasement
of currencies. Our present circumstances are a case in point.
Money is a most important matter and we should seek to understand its
history for our future depends upon it.