BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – “What if you were appointed to head the Fed? In your first week on the job, what would you do?”
The question was not exactly serious. Neither was the answer.
“We’d call in sick.”
Drying Winds, Hungry Cattle
We are on our way to the family ranch in northwestern Argentina. We’ll spend a couple of days in Buenos Aires… then fly up to Salta.
From there, it’s a six-hour drive, up and over the mountains, on dirt roads – stopping by a cattle ranch to inspect some of our animals – until we finally reach lasala, our ranch headquarters.
It’s been a hard year in the mountains.
Normally, we get about 5 inches of rain annually. But this year, the ranch has gotten only half its usual allotment. All of that moisture falls in January and February. Not another drop will drip on the ranch until next year.
That leaves another nine months of drying winds and hungry cattle.
But that is just the beginning of the bad news… More to come when we report from the ranch later this week.
In the meantime, we return to tackling the world’s problems.
A Return to Gold
Drought, old age, traffic congestion, meanness, purple drink, bad taste, rap, suburbs, cancer, government, Hillary Clinton, restaurant music, shorts, Facebook, obesity – there are a lot of things wrong in the world.
And most of them are not easily put right.
But there are some problems that could be solved overnight. Economic and financial problems, for example, solve themselves… if you let them.
Almost all the macro-money wounds suffered by the modern world are self-inflicted. Central banks and treasury departments around the world keep shooting themselves in the foot. But rather than stop manipulating the system… they buy another pair of shoes.
If we were miraculously appointed by President Trump to run the Fed, our first act would be to put the gun down.
We would announce that, henceforth, anyone waiting for the next rate hike would have to wait a long time. Because we wouldn’t be making any rate hikes… or rate cuts either. Instead, interest rates would have to take care of themselves. Lenders and borrowers would set their own rates.
But what about if banks got into trouble?
Ah… we’d take care of that too. We’d point out that the Fed would no longer lend to them in an emergency.
Our announcement: “To any bank that runs out of money: Drop dead.”
Then, we would put the entire Fed balance sheet – the more than $4 trillion in dodgy bonds it bought over the last eight years – up for sale.
And we would send layoff notices to the entire staff… telling them to clean out their desks, admonishing them that henceforth they would have to seek honest employment or try to land a job on Wall Street.
Had we the power, we would take one further step: We would declare that Americans could use whatever currency they wanted, that the dollar would once again be exchangeable for a fixed quantity of gold, and that the U.S. Treasury would accept any major currency – including bitcoin – in payment of taxes.
See how easy it would be? All of the heavy lifting could be accomplished before lunchtime on our first Monday on the job.
Then we would slip out the back of the Eccles Building… with luck, just before posse caught up to us.
And yet, those simple changes would eliminate most of the money troubles facing the U.S.
With no further gas coming in, the debt bubble would deflate. Bad investments, bad business, and overpriced assets would all lose air… and disappear.
The dollar would be solid again. It would represent real value, not counterfeit wealth.
Borrowing would be based on real savings, not just more hollow credits.
And – with only scarce capital to work with (rather than an unlimited supply of phony-baloney credit) – investors and entrepreneurs would be careful about what they did with their investments.
They would put capital to work only in projects that increased the real value of America’s assets, rather than those that merely shifted wealth from Main Street to Wall Street.
Admittedly, this would be a lot for the American people to take in. Most people have no idea how the money system works. The credit dollar is all they know. And they still have faith that the big heads at the Fed know what they are doing.
The newspapers and pundits would howl in alarm. Respectable economists would choke on their indignation. Lynch mobs would form. They would call our program “radical” and “irresponsible,” unaware that today’s system is the most radical, experimental, and irresponsible in history.
Our proposals would take the country back to a traditional and sensible money system. People would decide for themselves what kind of money they wanted to use… whether to save it… or spend it… and what price to put on it if they wanted to lend it out.
Would it work?
We don’t know, but we’d like to see someone give it a try.