European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde just held her first policy meeting and press conference of the new year. On the surface it looked like a nothing burger.
No new alphabet soup programs, no changes to interest rates, no changes to the existing QE program (€20/month). She didn’t put forth anything new except that she would begin a year-long policy review for the first time in more than a decade.
That’s the stuff making the headlines. But that’s not the news.
The news mostly came from the World Economic Forum at Davos this week. There “The Davos Crowd” got together to lecture the world about climate change. It did so using its typical tactics of fear mongering while exploiting children.
Saint Greta Thunberg was there to harangue us about plant food while President Donald Trump reminded everyone that without the U.S.’s massive increase in oil output there wouldn’t be a need for such a gathering since the global economy would have crashed.
Or is that the point of the annual convocation of oligarchs that is Davos? Because to listen to them talk, the fundamental problem with the world is that there are too many people. Or, at least, too many people not willing to live with less as they have defined it. The arguments for climate change are inherently Malthusian, projecting out trends linearly which then cause catastrophic parabolic interactions with other systems.
There’s no room for climate cycles in their analysis. Frankly, there’s no room for physics either.
Again, that’s what they keep telling us is going to happen. This is how they structure their fear mongering about rising tides, polar bear extinctions and all the other predictions that quite simply haven’t come true.
Take a short-term trend, project it to infinity and then make us feel guilty for being sufficiently respectful of their brilliance and insouciance.
Matthew Ehret had a great article recently at Strategic Culture Foundation about the epistemological underpinnings of these types of political movements by looking specifically at the neoconservatives.
And he identified the functional split between the ones pushing these agendas for their own cynical purposes and the true believers they’ve drafted to proselytize them.
Under the broad umbrella of “neo-conservative” one should properly differentiate those who really believe in their ideology and are trapped under the invisible cage of its unexamined assumptions vs. that smaller yet more important segment that created and manages the ideology from the top…
… To re-state my meaning: This group doesn’t necessarily believe in the ideological group they manage any more than a parent believes in that tooth fairy which they promote in order to achieve certain behavioral patterns in their children.
The same analysis can be applied to climate change. Do you really think Al Gore, George Soros and Christine Lagarde believe in this runaway catastrophic global temperature rise nonsense? Really?
Or do you think they just mouth the words because virtue signaling like that is the most effective way to sell to us policies they want to implement which benefit them, their worldview and their own pockets?
Of course, that’s the case.
What’s truly terrible (and terrifying) is that they then radicalize children like Greta Thunberg through blatantly anti-intellectual propaganda, making them into political Children of the Corn ready to destroy all the nonbelievers and heretics. They raise an army of zombies ready to feast on the impure brains of climate deniers (whatever the hell that phrase means!) and rid the population of such heathens.
And if that doesn’t work then they’ll hound them out of existence, moving on to the next stage, denying them a voice and a livelihood through the money changing channels they control.
But none of that was on Christine Lagarde’s lips at her press conference. She’s too skilled at this to say what she really thought.
What she was actually saying, along with other major central bankers at Davos like Mark Carney of the Bank of England, is that the next financial crisis is just over the horizon and they will need to print inhuman amounts of money to paper it all over.
From the Fed to the IMF to the Bank of Japan, the entire inner circle of monetary policy high priests is in agreement now: To save the planet from climate change we have to print trillions for new infrastructure spending.
This is a lie.
They have to print trillions to keep trillions of bonds and assets from falling in price. They have failed to create price inflation because we are in a deflationary downward spiral. While they continue to inflate asset prices — stocks and bonds — they cannot stimulate real economic growth.
Real GDP growth in the Euro-zone is negative one percent. Inflation there is running 1.3% against GDP growth of 0.2%. Negative interest rates are destroying savers and the pool of real savings, hollowing out the real economy even faster.
That policy will have to change in 2020. Something will have to give. Politically, Lagarde was put in charge of the ECB to coordinate policy with the IMF and the other central banks to begin a massive tax-and-spend-and-print fest. She’s the one with enough political clout to force the Germans away from ruinous austerity.
And they will do this under the rubric of saving the planet from climate change. Spending trillions moving us away from cheap, abundant energy towards fundamentally capital destructive ones, like solar and wind, electric cars that don’t start when it’s cold, while centralizing even more control over the global economy having destroyed the pricing system for risk assessment, i.e. interest rates.
This is the new green law Lagarde was laying down in Strasbourg and Davos this week. The central banks know they are facing a crisis that is bigger than them — a sovereign debt crisis that will call into question why we ever listened to these odious, incompetent and venal people in the first place.
And they think now they can wrap themselves in the green cloak of righteousness and save us from a planet rapidly getting colder while preparing us for one that’s supposed to be getting warmer will save them from our ire when their systems collapse?
That may be the most arrogant part of this entire sordid affair.
What investors need to do is listen to these people very carefully and then act so as to protect themselves from them. The markets are beginning to wake up that the euro is toast. It broke down hard after Lagarde spoke Thursday.
Oil prices continue to slide because there’s a glut and the money the Fed is printing is going to prop up dollar funding markets not to building new businesses. Gold finally decided that it was done flirting with breaking back below $1,550 per ounce and the U.S. Dollar Index extended its rally off year-end lows.
Equity markets finally realized there’s a lot of air beneath them and that the central banks have no answers to the problems the real markets are facing. They are now just telling us fairy tales and hoping the children go back to bed.
• Money & Markets contributor Tom Luongo is the publisher of the Gold Goats ‘n Guns Newsletter. His work also is published at Strategic Culture Foundation, LewRockwell.com, Zerohedge and Russia Insider. A Libertarian adherent to Austrian economics, he applies those lessons to geopolitics, gold and central bank policy.