Once upon a time the people of Hong Kong were proud of the airline they thought of as their own, Cathay Pacific. When you boarded the green and white aircraft with the attractive stewardesses in Manila or Bangkok you felt you were already at home. Then along came the accountants. They chopped everything. Economy class […]
Category: United Kingdom
The Asian-American Community is its own Worst Enemy
By Ronald Chiang
I’ve been following online sentiment and Asian-Americans at large seem to be interested in the following:
- Issues surrounding ethnic identity
- Issues related to systematic exclusion in society
It seems that the majority of Asian-Americans dwell on their identity. On one hand, they tend to do what they can to fit in with the majority population, whether it is just learning to be a monolingual English speaker, studying a eurocentric view of Asian history, or trying hard to fit in.
For whatever reason, many Asian-Americans chose to pursue a monolingual existence with English being their native or primary language. They tend to not like speaking their cultural language (Chinese, Vietnamese, Gujarati) over some misguided attempt to fit in with the majority non-Asian peers in school or because they believe they are superior by virtue of living in the USA.
Then later in life, they lament about having a narrow life experience because they cannot pursue other professional opportunities due to a lack of knowledge in an Asian language or some sense of regret that they’ve compromised themselves.
Like most people, history in the United States for Asian-Americans is taught from a western standpoint often with the general concept that much of the US, Canada and Europe are rich and free while the rest of the world is poor and dependent on the USA for their futures. As a result, enough Asian-Americans grow up believing they are again superior by virtue of living in the United States and develop a tendency to look down on their unamericanized Asian peers.
Again, as they get older and learn about reality being Asian-American, they regret being indoctrinated in such a falsehood and sometimes overcompensate with zealous support of their native country (China, Korea) in such a manner, including but not limiting to nationalism, and apologism, that they make native citizens of those places seem unpatriotic.
Then lastly, like their parents and other immigrants, many Asian-Americans work too hard to “make it” in the USA by becoming financially secure and often compromise themselves to fit in. Some ways they’ve done this is by embracing the Model Minority stereotype, which implies that Asian-Americans will be accepted and fit in American society if they choose to become leading professionals in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) and avoid social issues of “undesirable minorities” like African-Americans and Latinos.
They’ve also persuaded the rest of the country that they do not need diversity programmes like other minorities because they’re superior Model Minorities and they can work hard to go anywhere. In extreme cases, they’ve gone out of their way to support Affirmative Action with calls to minimise Asian students to an absolute quantity in favour of diversity for everyone else (including White students).
Not surprisingly, because of the Asian-American community’s apathy and distance from diversity initiatives and the willingness of their majority to hold back their own community in favour of other groups, American society at large became indifferent to social issues in the Asian-American community ranging from dismissing Asians with personal struggles as “rejects” to simply keeping Asian-American media portrayals to an absolute minimum.
When the Asian-American community complains as a whole, the majority population does not take their calls seriously due to their ongoing claims of being Model Minorities, their willingness to put the interests of everyone else above their own community and their general need to stay inoffensive when faced with major social issues.
While it would be unfair to generalise the Asian-American community, the majority of individuals with such values tend to be those from California living in suburbs with upper-middle incomes, from families with university degrees, and have a misguided sense of social justice that involves letting everyone else benefit at their own expense.
These people are the reasons why no meaningful change has occurred among the Asian-American community due to outlandish fears of being grouped with the other minority groups, which often motivates them to avoid “rocking the boat” and an ongoing misguided belief that conforming to an untrue stereotype is the only way to succeed for a place in the USA.
Also, with the growth of social media and online forums these same individuals that often conform to stereotypes usually overcompensate for their perceived shortcomings by resorting to worshipping, if not cheerleading, events in their families’ ancestral country where they have no actual connection to their daily lives other than their ethnicity and known family history. Examples of this involve Chinese-Americans supporting China’s decision to restrict foreign NGOs or build artificial islands in disputed waters.
Frankly, I am frustrated by all of you Asian-Americans for being walking stereotypes that resort to passive and weak methods to overcompensate for a lack of self-respect and ignorance in their actual history. Moreover, any suggestions that Asian-Americans can improve their standing within the community through self-respect, understanding of their culture (bilingualism, history), and being assertive in society are often dismissed, invalidated and rejected by the majority who believe in conforming for the sake of pleasing others.
With that in mind, I honestly do not expect any meaningful change in the perception and treatment of the Asian-American community by Asian-Americans themselves and by other Americans in my lifetime.
Question: I’ve read political forums and debates on CNN and I just can’t understand what the debates and discussions in Hong Kong, China are about. Can you please explain to me the political issues that Hong Kong is now tackling and current events?
Hong Kong was formally a British colony. On July 1st, 1997, Hong Kong entered a 50 year transition period (it will end in 2047) to Chinese rule. The Hong Kong people do not like the Chinese government (except those involved in government or business) and are terrified of becoming part of China. The idea of the transition period is that Hong Kong will still have its own government and not be fully integrated into China right away. This kind of gradual change would diffuse the anger and outrage of the Hong Kong people over time.
In the meantime, China is socially, politically, culturally, linguistically, economically and physically enveloping Hong Kong. Currently, huge numbers of mainland tourists who spend money very well are critical for Hong Kong’s economy. In the mind of these tourists, Hong Kong is a part of China. As a result, they do not change their culture, try to speak Cantonese or even English when they visit. They spit, shit in the streets, and are offensive to the local people. But because they spend so much money, locals have to speak there language. As a result, Cantonese is on the decline even in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is part of the pearl delta region. The mainland is currently rapidly developing that entire pearl delta region to create a mega city that is roughly the size of Denmark. Hong Kong will inevitably be swallowed by this city.
In a nutshell, the outrage in Hong Kong now is their response to being gradually consumed by the mainland in almost every aspect of life. This is a misunderstanding of the 50 year transition period. Locals want it to be a 50 year extension of autonomous rule, but really it is the period of gradual takeover by the mainland.
Also, as the New Territories (the northern part of Hong Kong which borders Mainland China) are developed, the Hong Kong government (which is really just a puppet of the mainland) is planning to bring in many mainlanders as permanent residents of Hong Kong. As Hong Kongers become more and more diluted, they lose their voice. That voice is already so weak because they don’t even have suffrage and can’t vote for their political leader (who already needs to be approved by the central government anyway).
The loudest Hong Kong people, especially youngsters, want to select their own leader in the 2017 election, but Beijing wants to keep some control of Hong Kong by limiting whom Hong Kong voters can vote for.
As part of an “Occupy Central” campaign, a non-binding referendum is staged to get public endorsement for the demand of nomination by the public, as opposed to just a small group of Beijing loyalists representatives called the “nominating committee,” which is stipulated in the Basic Law (some sort of mini constitution for Hong Kong). The result of the referendum doesn’t matter that much really. It represents over 750,000 voters’ wish to have a say in who can be voted in the 2017 election.
What’s next is that, before the end of the year, Hong Kong government will have to release to the public a proposed method of selecting Hong Kong’s Chief Executive in 2017. Occupy Central threatens to blockade traffic in Central, the business district, if the proposal doesn’t fit their demand of a “universal suffrage in accordance with international standards.” Hong Kong government and Beijing officials have deplored the disruptive protest, which its organizers call “civil disobedience”. More political chaos will ensue. It might agitate Hong Kong activists and make them do more radical things, such as storming government or legislative buildings.
Another key thing to realize about the environment now is that June-July is a very sensitive time for Hong Kongers politically. The anniversary of Tienanmen Square, even though it did not take place in Hong Kong, is very important to Hong Kongers. July 1st is the anniversary of the beginning of the transition period.
Ever since Maragaret Thatcher handed Hong Kong back to China in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, Hong Kong has been going downhill.
|Hong Kong, alternatively known by its initials H.K., is a city-state and is a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea.|
After 1997, it seemed like the handover wasn’t such a bad idea to the eyes of many. A good number of Hong Kongers who emigrated to Canada, Australia, the UK and even America moved back to Hong Kong to take advantage of the emerging Chinese market and the improvements in the city since they left.
Even John Stossel used the post-97 Hong Kong as an example of the wonders of “Economic Freedom” in his now-infamous “Is America Number One?” special. The late Milton Friedman claimed that he was wrong about Hong Kong going into decline in his revised introduction to his popular “Freedom and Capitalism” book. If only Milton Friedman knew what happened to Hong Kong since his passing.
Hong Kong at this time is slipping from being an international city in Asia to becoming just another Tier 2 mainland Chinese city. The economic freedom that is frequently cited by right-wing economists, libertarians, and traditional liberals is becoming obsolete. In 2013, the start-up HKTV was denied a television broadcast licence on the grounds that the company was not a division of a major corporation.
On the other hand, cable operators with friends in government were able to easily security television licences bringing the number of free-to-air networks to being run by now 4 corporations. Later attempts by HKTV to air as an online service were also blocked by the Hong Kong government. I am not sure if this is economic freedom but it sounds like a form of corporatism or socialism for the wealthy to me.
The reality is economic freedom is no longer real in Hong Kong unless you’re the head of a major HK corporation or in bed with the government. Any attempts to dream big or become massive will only be crushed by the establishment due to their need to preserve their own status quo. As far as they’re concerned, people can still continue to exist as small or medium-sized business owners but never at a corporate level.
So this weekend in the #adlife, Omnicom and Publicis Groupe announced they will merge into a creatively named holding company called Publicis Omnicom Groupe. What this means is that they will become the largest advertising holding company eclipsing WPP and leaving IPG and Havas behind.
From the company’s point of view, this will be a win-win with their increase in overall market share, synergies between formerly competing shops/agencies, and increased efficiencies. In other words, this will suck for the average ad professional since there will just be an illusion of choice when switching shops, possible redundancies due to consolidation, and aggressive cost-cutting in reduced healthcare and 401k benefits. Regardless, this will be great because it will increase overall ROI for shareholders, result in an increase in freelancers from all the project layoffs, and lower starting salaries due to the glut in freelancers and reduced costs.
On the flipside, this will be a boon for indie shops since they have a chance to steal some business away from the corporate agencies. With the merger, there are now clearer conflicts of interests and less stability for the ad professional, something indie shops could take care if they make the right decisions.
This will also be great for the other holding companies due to the expected increase in freelancers and available talent. With the increase in freelancers due to resignations or layoffs, this means companies can work harder to get contract work at lower rates or lower starting salaries since we all know that a glut in talent leads to lower costs. Also, this merger will get other holding companies such as IPG, Havas or even Dentsu to start thinking about merging or strategic alliances.
All this news about holding companies merging at the corporate level may seen boring and academic, but the short story is that all ad professionals need to start protecting their necks. Whether this means kissing up to the department heads or senior colleagues to get them to protect them or act as their advocates during restructuring time or simply switching jobs before things get bad at the office, everyone is on their own in light of these changes.
This means people who are out of the job will expect to be competing with more freelancers for gigs or will need to pare down their expectations for salaries or benefits. Most of all, everyone needs to get ready for shops being reshuffled, re-branded, realigned and relaunched similar to what WPP did with G2 when they merged it with related shops and relaunched it as Geometry something after severing its links with Grey.
Also, the Asian economies are going to slow down so don’t expect to find work in this side of the world because ad spend if also going down just like in North America and Europe. Or this could all fail due to anti-trust regulations in the US and EU.
NEW YORK—In a historic announcement that analysts say marks major changes for the advertising industry, senior leadership at Omnicom Group, Inc. and Publicis Groupe SA outlined plans on Sunday to merge the advertising giants into one firm, bringing together the largest collection of people with no discernible skills whatsoever. “With thousands of employees and billions of dollars of assets between them, the consolidation of Omnicom and Publicis will create an intimidating workforce of 135,000 utterly talentless men and women who are not marketable in any industry other than their own and whose jobs add zero value to society at large,” market analyst Mark Goodnough said of the planned $35 billion merger, adding that not a single person involved in the merger has ever made anything with his hands, knows anything about information technology, or is capable of doing quality writing or research. “These two ad behemoths will have the industry’s largest and most formidable talent pool of people called ‘creatives’ who have never created a single thing in their lives and whose only apparent ability is to trick other people.” At press time, over $500 billion was spent on advertising last year.
Paul B. Farrell
May 24, 2011, 12:01 a.m. EDT
Commentary: Tax cuts, wars, rates, dollar, new crash coming
By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — “My G.O.P. destroyed the U.S. economy.” Yes, that is exactly what David Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in a New York Times op-ed piece. Not “is destroying,” the GOP has “destroyed” the U.S. economy, setting up an “American Apocalypse.” And it’s getting worse.
Update: With the 2012 election lineup up for grabs, Stockman may be the GOP’s best candidate for president. A hero in American politics, he’s a rare no-B.S. truth-teller who’s been delivering the same message since his 1986 “Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed,” an expose written after leaving the White House.
Better yet, he’s the kind of fighter who could easily go the distance with Obama on the key issues that will dominate the 2012 election: the economy, employment, interest rates, entitlements, war budgets, the devalued dollar, our rapidly collapsing monetary system, another meltdown.
Last fall, Stockman’s hard-hitting op-ed was loaded with jabs like: “If there were such a thing as Chapter 11 for politicians, the Republican push to extend the unaffordable Bush tax cuts would amount to a bankruptcy filing. The nation’s public debt” screams “for austerity and sacrifice,” instead, the GOP insisted “the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers be spared even a three-percentage-point rate increase.” Obama blinked, pulled his punch. Let’s get both in the ring. See Paul B. Farrell’s ‘Reagan insider: GOP destroyed U.S. economy.’
Stockman’s latest attack proves he’s still a powerful fighter. Recently, Reason magazine’s editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie did a long interview with Stockman. The title builds on the book: “The Triumph of Politics Over Economics.” But instead of just looking back at the failure of a self-destructive Reaganomics, an older and wiser Stockman focuses us on the paradigm shift that’s destroying America from within.
Warning: GOP’s self-destructive capitalism wrecking U.S. economy
In this new “Triumph of Politics Over Economics” we see America at a crossroads, struggling to redefine itself. Politicians have become the new economists. Politicians and their big money backers and lobbyists now rule the American economy like banana-republic dictators. Stockman calls this corrupt system the new “crony capitalism.” The old capitalist economics that made America the world’s greatest superpower no longer exist.
Today, professional economists are no more than hired guns for politicians with myopic ideologies and huge bankrolls that make it easy to justify lying, cheating and stealing from investors, workers, consumers, savers and taxpayers. Capitalism has morphed into a monopoly ruled by politicians who are serving a wealthy elite. Competition is a joke. Democracy is a farce. “We the People” no longer exists.
Stockman has seen all of it. And he knows that while his message hasn’t stopped the “GOP from destroying the U.S. economy,” the coming crisis will trigger another megacrash, bigger than the dot-com crash and subprime meltdown combined.
David Stockman, former budget director for former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, following a 2007 court appearance in New York.
Indeed, Stockman warns of an inevitability: Another major crisis is necessary to wake up Wall Street and Washington to the fact that Reaganomics really is destroying America from within. We dissected the Stockman-Gillespie interview several times, gleaning 10 principled facts seen fueling the political drama surrounding the 2012 elections and challenging all Americans at this historic turning point, facts demanding we wake up, before it’s too late:
1. Politicians are addicts, can’t stop spending America’s future
Reagan’s big government policies “led to the utter failure of spending control.” Today America is “living way beyond our means,” and yet politicians are incapable of thinking past the next election. “They hear the squeaky wheel, and they respond. … money has become such a massive force in the electoral process” making politicians “slaves” to big money and special-interest lobbyists.
2. Cutting taxes: a cruel joke, defers big tax burden onto kids
“In pure philosophy, lower tax rates would be better.” But when we got a “Republican government in the Bush era … nothing was cut. Everything was ratified. In fact, they added to Medicare through the drug benefit.” Our “welfare state that seems immutable politically … you’re kidding yourself if you think cutting taxes today is really cutting taxes. We’re simply deferring massive tax increases into the future, unfairly and immorally putting huge debt burdens on future generations.” Tax-cutting is a “massive Christmas tree of special-interest tax benefits and loopholes … reducing the revenue” and “almost no spending was cut, and the defense budget soared out of control.”
3. Social Security is a myth: Forget 2036, there’s no money today
“The combination of Medicare and Social Security” is “the heart of the budget, and the top one-third of that goes to retirees who have private assets, private pensions, other sources of income. They shouldn’t be dependent on the government … and there really is no trust fund there — that’s all fiscal mythology … that money wasn’t saved or hived … it was spent on cotton subsidies and bribes to warlords in Afghanistan. The fact is, this is simply an intergenerational transfer program. … social insurance is a myth,” that bank is empty.
4. Reaganomics loves war: Military spending is off the table
“Reagan was utterly uninterested in any detail of the defense budget, of any of the claims for dollars made by the Pentagon,” says Stockman in a passage that sounds like the GOP’s policy in 2011. “He gave them a blank check, without question, and that … ballooned spending just as we were massively reducing the revenue” and “it created an enormous political impasse. … Spending increases were so huge in defense that it became almost impossible to get anybody to … go after the food-stamp program or school lunches, when you’re just showering tens of billions of dollars on ammunition accounts and spare parts replacements and a massive expansion of the Navy.” Or wasting another “hundred billion dollars on wars of occupation in places that are the ends of the earth.”
5. Gross leadership failure: clueless ex-Goldman CEO at Treasury
“[Henry] Paulson frankly is the most incompetent, reckless secretary of the Treasury that we’ve had in modern history, if ever. He had no schooling in public policy, he had no schooling in the longer-term issues of fiscal management, or even what sound money is all about.” When “the crisis metastasized in” 2008 Paulson got “panicked calls from his buddies on Wall Street who were seeing their pyramids of debt coming crashing down.” And when Goldman Sachs’ stock cratered, Paulson really panicked. “There was no philosophy behind it; there was never an analysis done.” Driven by a clear conflict of interest, he wanted to protect the $600 million fortune he built at Goldman, while saving his Wall Street buddies from bankruptcy. So Paulson failed the American people.
6. Bank bailouts: Bad economics now accelerating America’s decline
Paulson’s panicky failure “was a profound moment in political history in September 2008, … Even the House Republicans knew in their better judgment that it was a terrible idea, and they voted initially against it.” In fact, “the only panic that occurred was in” Paulson’s panicky mind. “Big pyramids of debt on Wall Street were coming crashing down. Had we allowed nature to take its course, maybe Goldman Sachs stock would have gone down to $10. But that’s their problem and that’s the problem of speculators who owned the stock, not a systemic problem for the economy.” Instead, Paulson’s panic made matters worse.
7. In a “free market,” Wall Street banks must be free to fail
“The fundamental principle of free-market capitalism is that you have to be free to fail as well as succeed,” but “when you go in the opposite direction and socialize losses and privatize gains, you will destroy” our system of capitalism. Why? Because moral hazard encourages new “reckless risk taking, misallocation of capital.”
8. Today’s “crony capitalism” is destroying our faith in America
Wall Street is killing trust in the economy: “Once the broader public sees that the cronies of capitalism are bailed out by their friends in Washington or the Fed, why should they believe that the system we have is fair or is working in their interest? It’s just politicizing even further the economy and suffocating the only hope that we have for real prosperity.”
9. Derivatives speculation: Wall Street gambles in shady casinos
Gold was “at the heart of it a fixed exchange rate system” before 1971 obligating “each country to settle its accounts at the end of every year … Chronic payments deficits and you were going to… lose your monetary reserves.” But when we “went to pure fiat money … financial volatility and instability” created a “massive speculative casino … Today probably 99% of currency futures are for speculation and 1% might be for legitimate trade hedging. That’s the problem we have in the whole financial system today.”
10. Too-greedy-to-fail banks are creating another bigger meltdown
Before the crisis hit in 2007, “the top four banks in this country had $5 trillion of assets combined. After the whole crisis of too-big-to-fail and all of the bailouts, today the top four banks have $7 trillion of asset footings.” Simultaneously, fear has “been generated on Main Street, and the appropriate antipathy that’s developed towards the crony-capitalist policy of bailing out anybody that’s big and strong like GM and Goldman Sachs” has created a new “generation of workers that’s going to be turned into tax slaves … That will have to change … but it will only change when the crisis comes … it’s unavoidable.”
Yes unavoidable: American capitalism is so corrupted that change is impossible without a megameltdown, a historic paradigm shift with an inevitable collapse. Stockman knows well the political process is manipulated by a wealthy elite that cares nothing of the people, nothing of Main Street, nothing of the future of America. They care only for themselves.
Money has corrupted our political system. We’ve lost our moral compass. “The Triumph of Politics Over Economics” is a self-destructing ideology. Money has driven all politicians into a bizarre conspiracy that’s destroying America from within. And nothing can stop this overarching historical cycle …nothing but a thundering crisis will shock America awake.
There isn’t too much going on in the world except for the Arab Revolts. So far Egypt and Tunisia have changed their rulers while it is still in process in Libya and Yemen. Things are just getting started in Syria while the revolt in Bahrain is crushed with the help of some Saudi and Emirati forces. The other countries like Jordan and Morocco are proactively avoiding a revolt by appeasing the disgruntled citizens. It would be nice to see changes in Yemen and Libya with as little violence as possible but it looks like those uprisings are simply beyond the point of nonviolence.
And how does this affect any of us? For one, the price of petrol has already gone up as a result of the instability and it will make it less appealing for foreign investment to go into places where the revolts are ongoing or brutally crushed. On the other hand, it is a boon to oil speculators and the cause of short-term shocks in the financial markets. I can only hope that the people’s revolutions in Yemen and Libya sort themselves out before it starts attracting more unwanted elements.
The Japanese earthquake and tsunami was just devastating. This earthquake was the “big one” pundits, geologists, and survivalists always feared in Japan. It is fortunate that only northeast Japan was affected and I’m glad that 2 of my former classmates and a former instructor are out of danger. Even my penpal who I have not spoken to in over a year is no longer in danger. The major complaints from them are the trains running late or being cancelled (just like with NJTransit trains) and making a strange effort to adjust despite all the loss of life and potential nuclear meltdown.
The people of Japan, like America, are generally pleasant and poorly informed and their government, like America, is run by a group of semi-corrupt idiots. These parallels help explain how Japan, despite all its might and sophistication, could have allowed itself to suffer a devastating tsunami that wiped out its historic communities and leave themselves open to a potential nuclear meltdown. Like Japan, for all its might and ability to wage a War of Terror on the Muslim World, America also allowed itself to suffer a devastating hurricane that ravaged historic regions and left themselves without the means to properly rebuild. There are some similarities to America and Japan and it would be no surprise if America lurches into a Lost Decade like its Japanese friend, but I digress.
In the past, I found it easy to simply repost an article and give a running commentary on the various points written in the article. Now, I find I lost the drive that allowed me to write paragraphs of coherent and focused commentary that made parts of this blog popular in the first place. It will take me some time to get back into that state of mind after being ravaged by a thankless relationship, a thankless jobs, and a thankless circle of friends.
This cartoon made my day:
Egypt: Preview of America in 2015
The rioting and looting taking place in Egypt is primarily a result of massive food inflation and shows what all major cities in the United States will likely look like come year 2015 due to the Federal Reserve’s zero percent interest rates and quantitative easing to infinity. On December 16th, 2009, NIA named Time Magazine’s 2009 ‘Person of the Year’ Ben Bernanke our ‘Villain of the Year’, saying he created “unprecedented amounts of inflation in unprecedented ways” and “When it costs $20 for a gallon of milk in a few years, Americans will have nobody to thank more than Bernanke.”
What started out a few weeks ago as protests in Algeria with citizens chanting “Bring Us Sugar!” and five citizens being killed, quickly spread to civil unrest in Tunisia which saw 14 more civilian deaths, and has now spread to riots in Egypt where 300 Egyptian citizens have been killed. Food inflation in Egypt has reached 20% and citizens in the nation already spend about 40% of their monthly expenditures on food. Americans for decades have been blessed with cheap food, spending only 13% of their expenditures on food, but this is about to change.
NIA was the first to predict the recent explosion in agricultural commodity prices in our October 30th, 2009, article entitled, “U.S. Inflation to Appear Next in Food and Agriculture”, which said we have a “perfect storm for an explosion in agriculture prices”. A couple of months later in ‘NIA’s Top 10 Predictions for 2010’ we predicted “Major Food Shortages” and said, “Inventories of agricultural products are the lowest they have been in decades yet the prices of many agricultural commodities are down 70% to 80% from their all time highs adjusted for real inflation”. Over the past year, agricultural commodities as a whole have outperformed almost every other type of asset, with silver being one of only a few other assets keeping pace with agriculture. (On December 11th, 2009, NIA declared silver the best investment for the next decade at $17.40 per ounce and it has so far risen 64% to its current price of $28.39 per ounce).
The world is at the beginning stages of an all out inflationary panic. Wheat, which NIA previously called on ‘NIAnswers’ its favorite investment besides gold and silver, is now up to a new 30-month high of $8.63 per bushel and has doubled in price since June of last year. Algeria bought 800,000 tonnes of wheat this past week, bringing their total purchases for the month of January up to 1.8 million tonnes, which was quadruple expectations. Saudi Arabia is also beginning to stockpile their inventories of wheat. Rice futures have gained 8% during the past few days with Bangladesh and Indonesia placing extraordinary large orders. Indonesia’s latest rice order was quadruple its normal allotment and Bangladesh plans to double rice purchases this year. Meanwhile, the U.S., which is the world’s third largest exporter of rice, is expected to cut production by 25% in 2011.
NIA considers rice to be one of the world’s most undervalued agricultural commodities at its current price of $15.96 per 100 pounds and forecasts a move back to its 2008 high of $24 per 100 pounds as soon as the end of 2011. NIA believes cotton, at its current price of $1.80 per pound, may have gotten a bit ahead of itself in the short-term. In NIA’s first ever article about agriculture on February 17th, 2009, we said that cotton’s “upside potential is astronomical” at its then price of $0.44 per pound. NIA pointed to increasing sales to textile companies in China and the fact that cotton was down 70% from its all time high as reasons to be very bullish on cotton at $0.44 per pound. Early NIA members could have made 309% on cotton, but today we see much bigger potential in rice. The recent spike in cotton reminds us of the 2008 spike in oil. Although we believe cotton will ultimately rise above $3 per pound later this decade, we could see a dip to below $1.40 per pound first.
Many people in the mainstream media have criticized NIA’s recent food inflation report, claiming that agricultural commodity prices have very little to do with prices of food in the supermarket. CNBC’s Steve Liesman, in particular, claims that “rising commodity prices won’t cause inflation”. Liesman has it backwards. NIA has never claimed that rising commodity prices cause inflation. Soaring budget deficits that the U.S. government can’t possibly pay for through taxation causes inflation when the Fed is forced to monetize the debt by printing money.
Rising commodity prices are only a symptom of inflation. The reason NIA was so bullish on agricultural commodities going back two years ago when we produced our first documentary ‘Hyperinflation Nation’, is because while gold is the best gauge of inflation and is often the best tool for predicting future money printing, agriculture is where the majority of the monetary inflation ends up going after the Fed’s newly printed money trickles down to the middle-class and poor. With gold prices already surging two years ago when we produced ‘Hyperinflation Nation’, NIA said in the documentary “food prices have the potential to surge most during hyperinflation”.
One thing NIA is almost 100% sure of is that come year 2015, middle-class Americans will be spending at least 30% to 40% of their income on food, similar to Egyptians today. As NIA warned in its latest documentary ‘End of Liberty’, if you don’t have enough money to accumulate physical gold and silver, it is important to begin establishing your own food storage, and store enough food to feed you and your family for at least six months during hyperinflation. Many store shelves in Egypt are now empty after recent panic buying, with shortages of nearly all major staple items throughout the country.
The U.S. Treasury is getting ready to sell $72 billion in new long-term bonds next week, as the U.S. rapidly approaches its $14.29 trillion debt limit. The debt limit is now expected to be reached by April 5th and Treasury Secretary Geithner warned the U.S. will see “catastrophic damage” if it isn’t raised. With the Federal Reserve now surpassing China and Japan as the largest holder of U.S. treasuries, the real “catastrophic damage” ahead will be hyperinflation as a result of the U.S. government doing absolutely nothing to dramatically cut spending. It is an absolute joke that Obama during his State of the Union address announced $400 billion in spending cuts over the next 10 years, but then the very next day, the Congressional Budget Office increased its 2011 budget deficit projection by $400 billion to $1.48 trillion.
Not raising the debt limit would be a good thing, as it would force Washington to live within its means. Sure, the stock market would collapse and the U.S. economy would enter into its next Great Depression, but at least it would save the U.S. dollar from losing all of its purchasing power. In fact, the standard of living for middle class Americans might actually improve if the government allowed the free market to put our economy into a depression, because goods and services would get cheaper.
The U.S. economy has become a drug addict that is dependent on cheap and easy money from the Federal Reserve. While Wall Street bankers took home a record $135 billion in total compensation in 2010, up 5.7% from $128 billion in 2009, this money was stolen from middle-class and poor Americans through inflation. The more monetary inflation (heroin) the Federal Reserve creates to satisfy the (in the words of Gerald Celente) “money junkies” on Wall Street, the more middle-class and poor Americans become dependent on unemployment checks and food stamps just to survive. Millions of American students are graduating college with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt but no jobs. Luckily for them (but not holders of U.S. dollars), NIA is hearing reports from both unemployed and underemployed college graduates with student loans that the government is reducing their required monthly payments by sometimes 90% or more based on their current incomes.
China and Japan recently saw their credit ratings downgraded, while the U.S. credit rating remains at “AAA”. NIA believes it would make far more sense for the world’s largest debtor nation to be downgraded instead of the world’s two largest creditor nations. The Federal Reserve’s second round of quantitative easing has yet to even reach the halfway point and the Fed already holds about $1.11 trillion in U.S. treasuries. By the time QE2 is over at the end of June, the Fed will own $1.6 trillion in U.S. treasuries, about what China and Japan own combined. Shockingly, Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig is already dropping hints about QE3. According to Hoenig, the Fed may consider extending treasury purchases beyond June 30th, 2010, (the scheduled completion date for QE2) if U.S. economic data looks disappointing.
With the Fed taking over as the largest holder of U.S. treasuries, China is beginning to rapidly move away from the U.S. dollar and into gold. In just the first 10 months of 2010, China imported 209 metric tons of gold compared to 45 metric tons in all of 2009, a stunning five-fold increase. While the western world is downplaying the threat of inflation as much as possible, Asian countries understand that hyperinflation is the most devastating thing that can possibly happen to any economy. The demand for gold in Asia now is the most intense it has ever been, as they look to tackle rising inflation before it becomes hyperinflation.
The Chinese are so smart that families are now giving each other gold bullion as gifts instead of traditional red envelopes filled with cash. China is now on track to soon surpass India as the world’s largest consumer of gold. The China Securities Regulatory Commission recently gave Beijing-based Lion Fund Management Co. approval to create a fund that will invest into foreign gold ETFs.
U.S. stock mutual funds saw $6.7 billion in net inflows during the past two weeks, the most in any two week period since May of 2009. The rioting, looting, and civil unrest in Egypt is now making the U.S. look like the safe haven of the world, even though it should be considered the riskiest place to invest. From the Dow’s low in August until now, about $38 billion was actually removed from U.S. stock mutual funds, despite the stock market rising 20%. The Dow Jones has risen from September until now solely due to the Federal Reserve printing around $350 billion out of thin air. When central banks print money, stock markets often act as a relief valve due to there being too much inflation going into the hands of financial institutions.
The U.S. M2 money supply surged by $46.6 billion during the week ending January 17th to a record $8.8623 trillion, following a rise during the previous week of $7.6 billion. The rise in the M2 money supply over the past two weeks of $54.2 billion equals an annualized increase of 16%. The M2 multiplier now stands at 4.218 compared to a long-term average of 10. When QE2 is complete, the Fed’s monetary base will likely stand at $2.59 trillion. A return to the long-term average M2 multiplier of 10 means we are due to see a 192% increase in the M2 money supply and that is not even including a possible QE3 and QE4.
The U.S. economic ponzi scheme could unravel very quickly in the years ahead, with the velocity of money increasing faster than anybody expects. As more Americans learn about NIA and become educated to the truth about the U.S. economy and inflation, a complete loss of confidence in the U.S. dollar could occur very suddenly. It is important for all Americans to prepare as if hyperinflation will be here tomorrow. At least in Egypt, their currency still has purchasing power and their citizens are trying to carry out a regime change before it is too late. By 2015 in America, it will already be too late and the civil unrest here has the potential to be many times worse.
It is important to spread the word about NIA to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, if you want America to survive hyperinflation. Please tell everybody you know to become members of NIA for free immediately at: http://inflation.us