Economy Heading for a Systemic Collapse into Hyperinflationary Great Depression
Aug 05, 2010
When Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke admits to seeing an “unusually uncertain” economy ahead, it’s pretty terrifying to imagine what he’s really thinking. What John Williams envisions—and he’s by no means looking to the far horizon—is a systemic collapse, a hyperinflationary great depression and the cessation of normal commerce. Despite that bleak outlook, however, when the economist and editor of ShadowStats.com sat down for this exclusive Energy Report interview, he also had some good news.
The Energy Report: A few months back, John, you said, “if you strangle liquidity you always contract an economy and deliberately or not, liquidity is being strangled, resulting in sharp declines in consumer credit, commercial and industrial loans.” Does this mean it would spur more economic growth if banks actually started lending?
John Williams: It sure wouldn’t hurt. We’re still seeing contractions in liquidity, and that’s adjusted for inflation. In real terms, M3 money supply is down almost 8% year-over-year. It’s the sharpest fall in the post -World War II era. It’s not so much the depth of the decline in the liquidity or the duration, but the fact that the liquidity turns negative year-over-year that signals the economy turning down.
We had the signal in December of 2009 indicating intensification of the downturn, in this case, within six to nine months. We’re in that timeframe now and see softening numbers. People are talking about a weaker economy. Even Mr. Bernanke has described the economy as “unusually uncertain” in terms of its outlook. Wording like that from the Fed is a pretty good indication that something’s afoot.
TER: Why is M3 still contracting?
JW: Just as you noted, the banks are not lending. The money the Fed put into the system in terms of buying mortgage-backed securities from the banks and trying to help bank liquidity ended up back with the Fed as excess reserves. We have well over $1 trillion there; had the banks loaned that money in the normal stream of commerce, it would have added more than $10 trillion to the broad money supply, which otherwise is up around $14 trillion. That certainly would have had some inflationary impact if not in terms of actual business activity. You can’t always get the economy to grow by pushing money into it. Sometimes it’s like pushing on a string.
TER: And you say that a contracting money supply is a sure sign of trouble?