This article was originally published by Charles Hugh Smith at Of Two Minds Blog.
As for stock markets–the devil take the hindmost.
Let’s keep it simple: US dollar up, stocks down. US dollar down stocks up. Stocks up, billionaires get richer. Since that spot of bother in March 2020 when the US dollar (USD) soared and stocks cratered, the USD has been in a free-fall, boosting the wealth of America’s Robber Barons and various other skimmers, scammers, and other undeserving scoundrels.
Chief among the undeserving scoundrels feasting on the decline of the USD are global stock markets which have soared not because revenues and profits are soaring but because the USD has plummeted.
The Federal Reserve is widely worshiped as the Ultimate Power in the Universe, a kind of financial Death Star. The Fed has seen fit to crush the USD to further boost the wealth of billionaires and save global stock markets from their well-deserved ruin. Saving the world, ho-hum, just another day for the god-like Fed.
But something doesn’t quite add up here, for as the all-powerful Fed devalues the US dollar, it destroys the exorbitant privilege of America’s reserve currency. What’s the exorbitant privilege? Simply this: the owner of a reserve currency can create “money” (USD) out of thin air and trade it for autos, oil, semiconductors–real-world goods that were not created out of thin air. Rather, all these real-world goods required tremendous investment and significant costs to be produced and transported.
The exorbitant privilege is something for nothing–a remarkably good deal. And yet the universal expectation is the Fed is going to throw that privilege in the dumpster by pushing the USD into the ground, first by devaluing it relative other currencies and then by letting hyper-inflation destroy what’s left of its purchasing power.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the ability to create “money” out of thin air and trade it for real-world goods is the foundation of America’s global power, what I call the Imperial Project. The same can be said for the other reserve currencies, the euro and the yen. (Since China’s currency is pegged to the US dollar, it is not a true reserve currency; it is only a derivative of the USD.)
So let me get this straight: the Fed is consciously choosing to undermine and then lay waste to the foundation of American power–just to boost Robber Barons and zombie global stock markets? I don’t think so. That the Fed would pursue a suicidal destruction of the purchasing power of the dollar just to boost stock markets and billionaires–that beggars belief.
The Fed is not the Empire, it is the handmaiden of the Empire. The Fed’s dual mandate– for PR purposes, stable employment and prices–is actually balancing the conflicting demands of a global and domestic currency–Triffin’s Paradox writ large.
The inherent problem with a reserve currency is that it must meet global economic needs and domestic needs, and these are intrinsically in conflict. America’s billionaires and pension funds want the US stock market to loft higher on the back of a declining USD, but that diminishes the global purchasing power of the USD–a trend heading for economic ruin.
The Fed has had numerous reasons to weaken the dollar since March: a desperate need to “save” global stock markets from well-deserved collapse, and an equally desperate need to keep the dollar weak so global debtors with loans denominated in dollars can manage to service their trillions in USD-denominated debts.
But drawing a line extending this short-term necessity all the way to hyper-inflationary oblivion is a grave misreading of the Empire’s need for the exorbitant privilege of a strong dollar.
The Fed is about done with its “rescue” of billionaires and global markets and debtors. Against virtually all expectations of seers, pundits, gurus, etc. the USD is about to start serving the Empire in its foundational role. As for stock markets–the devil take the hindmost.