The Outage at the Federal Reserve


Armstrong Economics Blog/Central Banks Re-Posted Feb 27, 2021 by Martin Armstrong

The outage of the National Settlement Service and the Fedwire Securities Service, which provides issuance, settlement, and transfer services for Treasuries and other government securities, was down and this has caused some concern and then conspiracy theories mixed in. The Fed made progress reversing the shutdown within a couple of hours, however, this has illustrated that a long-term outage of the Fed’s online services could cause intense chaos across the world financial system, preventing banks and businesses from finalizing transactions and impeding basic banking functions.

The Federal Reserve said an outage of its key financial services on Wednesday was caused by a maintenance mistake and it is taking steps to prevent a recurrence. The official statement read:

“The incident was caused by an operational error involving an automated data center maintenance process that was inadvertently triggered during business hours,” a Fed spokeswoman said. Such tasks are normally performed after-hours, she said, adding, “This was human error.”

“Our technical teams have determined that the cause is a Federal Reserve operational error,” the Fed said on Wednesday on its website. “The Federal Reserve Banks have taken steps to help ensure the resilience of the Fedwire and NSS applications, including recovery to the point of failure.”

There was no power-outage so it does appear that the Federal Reserve was honestly calling it a disruption due to an ‘operational error’. This raises the issue of concern surrounding digital currency. Indeed, solar flares and other solarmass ejections that travel through space can overwhelm Earth’s atmosphere and generate powerful electric and magnetic fields. These magnetic storms can occasionally be intense enough to disrupt the operation of high-voltage electricity lines. A digital currency system could be brought to its knees with an EM attack.

(see report)

We do have an EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security which issued a report on China’s ability to conduct an Electromagnetic Pulse attack on the United States. China now has super-EMP weapons and could engage in a first-strike attack that could blackout the entire country. China could actually launch a surprise “Pearl Harbor” type attack that could produce a deadly blackout of the entire country. Indeed, China has built a network of satellites, high-speed missiles, and super-electromagnetic pulse weapons that could meltdown the electric power grid, fry critical communications, and even takeout the ability of our aircraft carrier groups to respond. All of this is possible today using EMP weapons rather than nuclear.

The outage at the Federal Reserve was not an attack, loss of power, or anything nefarious. It was indeed a human error. Nonetheless, this outage even for a few hours brought the economy to a halt. This is the system used by U.S. banks to execute some $3 trillion in transactions daily and the outage began around 11.15 am Eastern time on Wednesday, and remained down for more than three hours. Most of the key systems, including the backbone settlement services Fedwire and FedACH, were back online by 3 pm. Fedwire is the system for large transfers between banks which last year handled 184 million transactions totaling more than $840 trillion, or more than $3.3 trillion daily, according to Fed data.

Other affected systems included FedACH, the clearinghouse which generally handles smaller transactions such as paychecks, tax refunds, and utility bill payments. The National Settlement Service (NSS), used by depository institutions with Federal Reserve Bank master accounts, was also shutdown offline. Every other transaction service maintained by the Fed was also affected by the disruptions.

Fedwire Funds is the premier electronic funds-transfer service that banks, businesses, and government agencies rely on for mission-critical, same-day transactions. On a monthly basis, Fedwire handles more than 835,000 transactions a day on average, with a daily average dollar volume of $3.4 trillion.

CHIPS, a private-sector alternative to Fedwire run by The Clearing House, continued to operate normally. ET. CHIPS handles about $1.5 trillion a day, according to its website.

Is it Taxes or Debt Default Which Cause Revolution?


Armstrong Economics Blog/Revolution Re-Posted Feb 25, 2021 by Martin Armstrong

QUESTION: Marty, do you agree with other analysts who claim debt defaults create revolutions? From reading your work for decades now, I think you would say it was taxes. Am I correct?

Hopefully, see you at the next WEC again

KL

ANSWER: You are correct. Rome never had a national debt nor a central bank. State debt is really a post-Dark Age phenomenon and there have been plenty of sovereign defaults and the vast majority never involved revolution. The Spanish sovereign defaults took place, turning the country into a serial defaulter beginning in 1557 followed by 1570, 1575, 1596, 1607, and 1647 ending in a 3rd world status. Greece defaulted on its external sovereign debt obligations at least five previous times in the modern era (1826, 1843, 1860, 1894 and 1932). Even Magna Carta cut off the king’s ability to use the courts to raise money, which was before taxing the average person.

Anyone who claims that a sovereign default will unleash a revolution has not actually done the research. It is probably more of a sales pitch to get business with scare tactics. Both the American and French Revolutions were over taxes – not sovereign defaults.

We are headed into a revolutionary period, but it is being caused by this global hunt for taxation which is undermining the entire world economy. The sovereign default comes because of the collapse in commerce which is set in motion by raising taxes.

Yes, we are trying to pick a date for the next WEC. I am trying to be optimistic that our international clients can fly in. Of course, it all depends if Biden does not try to put a blockade around Florida because we have become the best state in America by preserving our freedom and it is at least far enough south to avoid the dip in the Jet Stream.

Deep Freezing In The Heart Of Texas


Re-Posted from GrrrGraphics.com FEB 22, 2021 AT 9:52 AM

AOC “Thinks” More Wind Turbines Will Solve ALl Our Problems

In Texas, the cold snap and power outages have finally abated. For nearly a week millions of Texans suffered power blackouts during severely cold weather. Water was out as well. For awhile, Texas was plunged into the Dark Ages.

Part of the problem is America’s crumbling infrastructure. It is something President Trump addressed. He wanted to build new power plants, airports, bridges, and highways. Instead we have Biden carrying on Obama’s work of destroying America for the benefit of socialism and our enemy, China.

Biden’s regime did not want Texans to resort to emergency measures and burn more fossil fuels. Instead they had to rely on malfunctioning wind and solar farms, which proved ineffectual. It’s a bitter cold irony that Texas is rich in oil, yet the power still went out and for those who did get power, their electric bills skyrocketed.

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez said her new Green New Deal would have helped to prevent the blackouts in Texas. It’s illogical for her to believe that climate change, global warming, and white supremacy are causing blackouts, but logic isn’t illuminating the socialist mind of AOC.

—Ben Garrison

Is This a Bubble?


Armstrong Economics Blog/Economics Re-Posted Feb 24, 2021 by Martin Armstrong

QUESTION: Mr. Armstrong,

My wife and I are trying to buy a second home. We live in Wisconsin and want a place somewhere warm. We are trying to buy in Florida, but we are financing it and we bid at the asking. However, on all of the properties, someone comes in with cash and ABOVE asking.

Are we buying into a bubble?  Is it best to wait?  I will only consider Florida because that is where you are based off of your computer.

Any guidance would be appreciated.

Best,

P

ANSWER: It does not appear to be a bubble. It is not just the real estate going up in Florida. The problem is limited supply and a mad dash out of New England, Illinois, and California. But this is taking place across the board. I was looking for a classic 328 Fararri of 1985 vintage. I use to have one in London. They were going for $50,000 on average. They are now running  $100-$150,000 in 3 months. The same is happening in collectibles and art. It simply appears that we are entering the phase of a massive shift from Public to Private assets. This is our Index we have provided to our Institutional clients over the decades. The historic low was 2009 post-1968. This trend appears to be in motion overall into 2032.

In real estate, very few places up for sale and they are selling very fast. The draconian measures in the Democratic states like New York and California have accelerated the migration out of those regions. More than 1 million people have fled New York City to Florida already. You have major chains shutting down in New York City. New Yorkers are fleeing to Florida and so are the restaurants from New York. New Yorkers are realizing that even when vaccinated, it will not return to normal. New Yorkers are even migrating to Texas. But with the Ice Storms there, they are already shifting to Florida. Places like New York City are just no longer safe as is the case now in many cities in California. Gun permits are soaring in New York because of the sharp rise in crime. Politicians do not understand anything. If you are in business and sales decline, you run sales to try to boost activity. In New York, you impose lockdowns, revenue declines, so the solution is tax taxes and fees like tolls. You can’t make up this sort of brain-dead mismanagement. On top of all of that, the lockdowns have resulted in alcohol abuse, kids committing suicide for they cannot learn remotely, the very fabric of society is being torn apart.

I personally am not thrilled about this. Traffic has increased noticeably. Please go to the east coast! Even my house has doubled in value in four years. Florida is the safe-haven in the United States with no state income tax and no ice storms and a governor who has rejected the Democrat’s lockdown agenda that destroys society and business. It reminds me of my favorite movie, Brave Heart, being of Scottish heritage. They may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom. Just sometimes, you have to stand up against tyranny or you and your posterity will lose everything.

Cleopatra – Coins – Migrations


Armstrong Economics Blog/History Re-Posted Feb 24, 2021 by Martin Armstrong

QUESTION: Marty, I watched a documentary on Cleopatra. Strange how she was married to her younger brothers. They said nobody knows what she really looked like but I thought if anyone would really know, it must be you. Was she the most beautiful woman of antiquity or was that legend?

FR

ANSWER: Plutarch does remark that the Romans pitied Antony for having callously evicted his dutiful wife Octavia from their house, “especially those who had seen Cleopatra and knew that neither in youthfulness nor beauty was she superior to Octavia” (LVII.3). It was said that her seductive abilities were superior, not necessarily her looks.

When we look at the coinage, that is how we are often able to identify the bust. They had created models for the coin engravers to follow for their images. Therefore, we can refer to the coins to get a real sense of who someone really was.

In the case of Cleopatra,  coins clearly support what Plutarch wrote and he tends to be more historically accurate in general. The Romans I believe claimed she was so beautiful because Octavia was said to have been stunning. However, claiming Cleopatra was beautiful may be more of a rationale for her seducing both Caesar and Antony.

As for marrying her brother, there were two trends that gave rise to that practice. In ancient Egypt at that period in time, one was considered very lucky to have married their sister. Perhaps it was just keeping the property in family hands. In the case of Cleopatra, her family from Ptolemy I who was a general of Alexander the Great, were Greeks – not Egyptian. So some of the claims that Cleopatra was African were really absurd.

The son of Ptolemy I became Ptolemy II Philadelphos which meant “brotherly love” but not in the Christian sense, in terms of incest. Therefore, the entire family line of the Prolemy I were Greeks and nobody intermarried with an Egyptian.

The Ancient Egyptians were not a black race but were Phoenicians in origin. The question of the race of ancient Egyptians was always a hotly debated topic but the art does not support an African heritage.  They appear to be more of the white race of Greeks which was the same for the Carthaginians. The dispute was really settled with DNA taken from mummies which revealed they were not of African origin.

The fall of the Bronze Age civilizations throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa, with the single exception of the Egyptians barely holding on, was the result of the invasion from up north of what was called the Sea People. There was most likely a pole migration which caused the temperature to drop sharply up north and inspired the migration south.

The freezing of the Whooly Mamouths in Siberia is estimated to have been about 10,000 years ago which may also account for why recorded history really beings about 6,000 BC. Dwarf woolly mammoths survived until about 4,000 years ago on Wrangel’s Island, north of Russia), and now their remains are disappearing fast.

It certainly appears that there was a dramatic shift in climate around 2,000 BC which impacted the migration out of Africa reversing the trend backward.

Rome Police Defend Protesters in Solidarity


Armstrong Economics Blog/Italy Re-Posted Feb 24, 2021 by Martin Armstrong

Many people have written in to say this is all too depressing. I explain that by posting what is taking place globally, you can see that RESISTANCE IS NOT FUTILE. I reported previously how the police in Naples turned and joined the protesters. Now the same is taking place in Rome. The people are starting to rise up. One reader just wrote in about Pennsylvania. Resistance is starting to appear everywhere. It is building as we move into 2022. Schwab, you better head to Mars sooner than later as you list among your 8 predictions for Agenda 2030!

There are more businesses pushing back now and not following Gov Wolf’s mandates and business guidelines. Following the 3 week shutdown that covered Christmas and New Years, when many businesses that were supposed to shutdown, did not shutdown and remained open for the duration in defiance. Now many businesses are following up with not enforcing the mask mandates, capacity restrictions, travel restrictions and other mandates, that many are just ignoring. Now there still are some true believers, but many in this area of PA are just moving on. A lot are just saying NO to the prick (Fauci and vaccines). Will be interesting to see where this all goes

Private Money


Armstrong Economics Blog/Cryptocurrency Re-Posted Feb 24, 2021 by Martin Armstrong

QUESTION: Marty, I found your passing comment on cash-like coupons by private stores becoming cash in the digital world. Could you elaborate?

thank you as always

BK

ANSWER: Aside from the ancient Roman prostitute token, we have often found private tokens emerge as money during periods of shortages in physical money. The Roman Emperor Tiberius (14-37AD) was notoriously frugal. Where his predecessor Augustus (27BC-14AD) minted coins like no other emperor with so many varieties well over a 100, Tiberius reduced everything to two designs and cut the money supply. He ended up creating a Financial Panic of 33AD which was also a shortage of cash like during the Great Depression.

Hence, we find not only the prostitute tokens but a full range of tokens with different numerals on the reverse expressing value. One theory argued that they were tickets for entrance to the theater or the games, and the numerals represented sections in the stands, or that they were brothel tokens, with the obverse representing a chosen “product” and the reverse the price. However, this theory seems unlikely when one considers that the two seemingly divergent themes are joined by the same die links to the numeral reverses.

Alberto Campana (“Le Spintriae: Tessere Romane con Raffigurazioni Erotiche,” in La Donna Romana Imagini e Vita Quotidiana [2009], pp. 43-96) has published a new die study of the erotic pieces, recording eight specimens with at least basic find spot information, most notably a sealed tomb in Modena, firmly dated to the mid-late Julio-Claudian period, as well as other examples found around the Roman world in Palestine, Gaul, Germany, and Britain, often in areas of military interest. He notes that these tokens (tesserae) are primarily struck in orichalcum, a metal more valuable than regular copper or bronze. He thought they might be game pieces from a now-forgotten board game, possibly a variant of duodecim scripta, a game resembling modern backgammon (“Les spintriae et leur possible fonction ludique,” in Archeothema 31 [2013], p. 66).

These theories that have tried to come up with an explanation for these tokens, or tesserae, fail to consider the economics of the time. When we look at such periods of austerity such as the American Civil War were there was a shortage of metal coins and the Great Depression where hundreds of cities were forced to print their own currency, then these tesserae from the time of Tiberius are more in line with the financial crisis of 33AD and the fact that Tiberius reduced the coinage dramatically and disapproved of real estate speculation at the time.

During the American Civil War, the shortage of coins led to private companies striking their own coinage, The reverse would often advertise the store but these tokens were generally accepted universally. They were treated as regular pennies.

We find also higher denominations where they used postage stamps as the backing. They were encased and again on the reverse, you will find the store advertising that they were the originator. Once more, these were universally accepted in common day to day commerce.

From the Panic of 1873, once again there was a shortage of coinage developing. Here we find an 1876 token issued by R. H. Macy & Company. The US demonetized silver in 1873 and stopped producing the silver half-dime. They also changed the design of much of the coinage. In 1874 they minted 14.1 million pennies but in 1876 it dropped to 7.9 million and in 1877 production collapsed to just 852,500. Indeed, the 1877 Indian Head pennies are rare due to the economic slump that began in 1873 continued with full force. Demand for United States coinage was at an all-time low, and families struggled to make ends meet. Saving even a penny for a coin collection was not an option for most Americans so these coins in uncirculated condition will often bring over $100,000.

The first large issue of Notgeld (Emergency money)started at the outbreak of World War I as coins were hoarded and metals were diverted for wartime uses. These notes were issued in small denominations. This currency was not legal tender — but was used and accepted on a voluntary basis within local areas. The advantage of issuing Notgeld (Emergency money) was that it stabilized local government and local markets, so people could buy and sell what they needed while government services kept functioning, plus it helped concentrate the official currency in the hands of the government, where it could be used for non-local transactions. This very same  trend emerged in the United States during the Great Depression. The central bank in Germany could not produce enough notes to keep up with inflation, so new Notgeld was issued in denominations of thousands, millions and billions of marks. Private Notgeld was also issued in the form of commodities or other currencies for backing: wheat, rye, sugar, coal, wood, natural gas, electricity, gold, or U.S. dollars, known as “Wertbeständige” or notes of “fixed value.”

LongBranchNJ-DepressionScrip

There was no “helicopter money” during the Great Depression for it was exactly the opposite – massive DEFLATION. There was a shortage of money to the point that hundreds of cities began to issue their own “Depression scrip.” You have to understand the dynamics of economic decline. People naturally hoard their money when they fear the future. The Great Depression was the very age of AUSTERITY where the assumption was that the collapse was due to a lack of confidence in government so they increased tax collection and cut spending, which unleashed both deflation and a dwindling money supply. This led many cities to create their own money due to the lack of money in circulation that was impacted by hoarding.

Worgl-Freigeld1

In Austria, there was an experiment to try to prevent people from hoarding cash during periods of economic crisis. This experiment was hailed as the “Miracle of Wörgl” which also took place during the Great Depression. The Wörgl Experiment began on July 31, 1932, the very month that the Dow Jones bottomed. The experiment involved issuing “Certified Compensation Bills” that were was a form of local currency known as Scrip or Freigeld. The monetary theories of the economist Silvio Gesell were applied by the town’s then-mayor, Michael Unterguggenberger. What differed from Gesell’s idea was that the currency would expire. Believe it or not, there are some governments looking into a currency that expires. Since World War II, Europe has issued currency that expired roughly every 10 years. This forced people to bring out the old currency to be swapped and thus prevented hoarding.

The central part of Gesell’s idea was how to stop the HOARDING of money. This is why FDR confiscated gold. He too saw the problem of people hoarding money and not spending it. This is part of every economic decline. If there is no CONFIDENCE in the future, people save more. This is simply human.

Money-Assets

Nevertheless, the Wörgl Experiment resulted in a growth in employment largely because they had to use the money. This allowed the local government projects to all be completed, which many called a miracle, for it appeared to defy the depression in the rest of the country. Inflation and deflation are also reputed to have been non-existent for the duration of the experiment. But this was simply the result of money expiring so there was no purpose in hoarding “money” or shifting it back to “asset” appreciation as in hyperinflation. Despite the appearance of success, the Wörgl Experiment was terminated by the Austrian National Bank on September 1, 1933.

This time, they are seeking to use digital currency to just totally eliminate physical money. No matter how politicians try to eliminate the underground economy, as we have witnessed since ancient times when there is a shortage of money that is when the private sector will respond. As I mentioned they will reestablish a rise to the reestablishment of barter and private tokens. In prison, cigarettes were money. Then packs of mackerel. Who knows what will emerge? USB sticks? Perhaps private paper money issued by companies that are a hybrid-coupon perhaps from stores like Macy’s. Big chain stores could easily issue coupons redeemable by the bare which will function as money.

Seattle Orders $4 per Hour Extra for Essential Workers Causing More Company Closures


Armstrong Economics Blog/Regulation Re-Posted Feb 23, 2021 by Martin Armstrong

The Seatle government has directed that people who are “essential” workers during this pandemic are to be now paid $4 per hour extra for hazard pay. Kroger grocery has decided to close its stores. There is simply no proof of a pandemic and far more people die from cancer than COVID and grocery stores do high volume with a very low markup, but politicians do not understand how businesses operate. The press touts 500,000 have now died from COVID to scare the hell out of everyone, yet the total number of deaths 606,520 deaths are expected in the US in 2020 from Cancer, and of 1,806,590 new cancer cases were reported. The government does not outlaw cigarettes nor do they lock down the country. 1.35 million people die in road accidents worldwide every year, but we do not outlaw cars.

Both Fauci and the World Health Organization are touting the Great Reset. Both are supposed to be confined to health. Yet both are supporting Klaus Schwab’s attempt to take over the world and install his vision of economic precisely as Karl Marx. When will the world wake up and smell the poison in the air?

Raising the Minimum Wage


Armstrong Economics Blog/Economics Re-Posted Feb 23, 2021 by Martin Armstrong

The Democrats stuffed into the $1.9 trillion stimulus package a hike in the minimum wage from $7.25 for covered nonexempt employees to $15. Many states also have minimum wage laws. In cases where an employee is subject to both the state and federal minimum wage laws, the employee is entitled to the higher of the two minimum wages.

In Florida, I voted for a hike in the minimum wage over the next six years which will increase gradually to $15 an hour. On November 3, 2020, over 60% of Floridian voters approved Amendment 2, which increases the minimum wage and amends Florida’s Constitution. Under the new mandate, Florida’s minimum wage rate (currently, $8.56) will increase to $10 an hour in September 2021. The minimum wage then will increase by $1 each year until it reaches $15 an hour in 2026. The minimum wage rate applies to all public and private sector employers, regardless of size or number of employees.

Employers must use the following hourly minimum wage schedule for non-tipped employees:

  • Through December 31, 2020 – $8.56
  • January 1, 2021 – $8.65
  • September 30, 2021 – $10.00
  • September 30, 2022 – $11.00
  • September 30, 2023 – $12.00
  • September 30, 2024 – $13.00
  • September 30, 2025 – $14.00
  • September 30, 2026 – $15.00

I voted for it because by 2026 we should see a rise in inflation due to shortages. However, the Federal bill increases the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour as soon as the bill is passed, raising to $11.00 an hour one year later, $12.50 two years later, $14.00 three years later, and $15.00 an hour beginning the fourth year following passage of the legislation.

While I am generally opposed to increasing the minimum wage because that has traditionally been the entry-level for kids in school, I would prefer to see the minimum wage qualified by age. Raising the minimum wage for part-time students will have an adverse impact on employment. Because of all of the extra-costs for an employer and regulations that politicians think will protect workers, this will merely increase the incentive to replace jobs with self-service screens and robots.

Eliminating employees is a dramatic cost reduction up to as much as 70% for most service-oriented businesses especially in hospitality. The danger of these lockdowns, masks, and social-distancing is that it is not merely breaking the bonds of human interaction, we have heard from corporate clients in hospitality that the prolonged lockdown crisis is shifting the business model toward robots rapidly because they cannot afford to pay staff to sit around for nothing.

We held our World Economic Conference in Orlando at the Hilton which is usually jammed-packed. This time, we had the hotel to ourselves and they were so ecstatic that we were even there. The hotel was running at 5% capacity and all but one restaurant was close. Additionally, there was no room service.

If we do not appreciate that rising healthcare costs are seriously impacting small businesses and their ability to hire staff, the trend toward self-service screens, internet-like ordering, and robots will wipe out entry-level jobs. This is such a serious issue that politicians should not be allowed to play with just to win votes and they think it sounds good. Almost 80% of the economy today is service-oriented. Nobody can destroy an economy like corrupt politicians. Increasing the minimum wage should really be differentiated by age as to not deter the youth from getting their first job. It must be looked at as a whole with all the other regulations and costs. When we were advising Japanese companies who wanted to open up in Europe, those in manufacture we put in Britain because the cost associated with employees were 40% less than in Germany back then. We make strategic decisions globally based upon all the inputs – not just one to put on a show.