Off The Cuff

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Off The Cuff: Why Does Our Society Refuse To Learn From Its Past Mistakes?

Our self-delusion is courting disaster
Friday, September 21, 2018, 12:30 AM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and John Rubino discuss:

  • Our Inability To Learn From The Past
    • Society is much less resilient because we keep making the same mistakes
  • The Litany Of Potential Future Calamaties
    • There's a growing risk too many will arrive at the same time
  • Currency Crises All Over The Globe
    • When will they start taking the dollar and Euro down with them?
  • The State Of Cryptocurrencies
    • Down nearly 80% since December. Where to next?

Recorded last week as Hurricane Florence was just arriving at the North Carolina shore, John and Chris noted how our chronic vulnerability to hurricanes and our inability to change our real estate development approach in light of them is symbolic of our society's self-imposed courting of disaster.

We could learn our lessons from the disasters we suffer, and adopt better behaviors afterwards. But we don't. We prefer to self-delude with magical thoughts that, despite the latest insult, we'll be spared in the future.

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Off The Cuff: Expect More Interest Rate Hikes

Hikes that the market has not yet priced in
Thursday, September 13, 2018, 12:20 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Axel Merk discuss:

  • Contagion Risk
    • Where will the Emerging Markets melt-down end?
  • Inflation On The Rise
    • Now cresting above 2%
  • More Fed Rate Hikes Coming
    • Not yet priced into the market
  • Gold/Silver Ratio
    • What is today's extreme level telling us?

Recorded last week, Axel -- who has close access to Federal Reserve insiders -- explains why he predicts the Fed will hike rates higher than the market currently expects.

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Off The Cuff: Why The Market Has To Crash

Too much bad debt
Monday, September 3, 2018, 2:25 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Mish Shedlock discuss:

  • Tax-Cut Sugar-High
    • Corporate earning shoot the moon, but wages are little changed
  • Emerging Markets Deja-Vu
    • Crisis always follows borrowing too much debt from foreign creditors
  • Our Captive Political System
    • The democratic dream has long been suffocated by those who control DC
  • A Gold Suprise?
    • Historical precendent strong suggests gold will rebound sharply soon

As the markets hang at record highs (yet again), Chris and Mish revisit the data -- are these levels justified by the data?

A fresh look makes it very hard to defend them. And while there are lots of reasons to support that conclusion, the core one is the same as it was prior to the 2008 crash: Too Much Bad Debt.

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Library of Congress

Off The Cuff: Swamped!

The "swamp" isn't draining. It's overflowing at this point.
Wednesday, August 29, 2018, 12:07 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and James Howard Kunstler discuss:

  • Complicit Insiders
    • Nearly everyone in DC has their hand in the cookie jar
  • No Heroes
    • There are no "good guys" left. Just varying degrees of criminals.
  • Not A US-Only Phenomenon
    • Most other countries/regions are as "swampy" as America (or worse)
  • A Hard Re-Set May Be The Inevitable Outcome
    • It's increasingly looking like a breakdown will occur. That may be the chance we need for real change.

James Howard Kunstler sits down this week to explain why he sees a systemic breakdown -- or "convulsion" -- is likely ahead, and why that may be our best opportunity to re-orient society on a saner path; provided we have the courage and smarts to abandon the 'leadership' and behavior that got us to this breaking point.

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Off The Cuff: Why Most Will Remain Unaware Until Its Too Late

The masses are focused on the wrong signals
Thursday, August 9, 2018, 9:35 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris discusses:

  • The Folly Of Pursuing Infinite Growth On A Finite Planet
    • Limits simply matter
  • The Signs Of Limits Are All Around Us
    • Depleting resources, stagnating wages, weakening economies
  • Few See The Signs Though
    • The "noise" of politics, media & markets distracts the masses
  • Where To Direct Your Focus
    • What to watch to track the onset of the approaching crisis

This week Chris gives a 30,000-foot view of the big predicaments facing our global society. Most of the signals of the arriving crises won't be tracked by most people -- draining aquifers, species loss, declining net energy. The masses are only going to pay attention when the signaling media they focus on -- the financial markets, the news reports, the unemployment rate, home prices  -- start to show panic. By then, it will be far too late to avoid the unfolding pain.

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John Tenniel

Off The Cuff: Tax Donkeys & Debt Serfs

The many are increasingly in servitude to the few
Friday, July 27, 2018, 12:15 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Charles Hugh Smith discuss:

  • Broken Signals
    • We're focusing on the wrong priorities, in the wrong order
  • Dangerous Hubris
    • We've removed critical buffers to risk
  • Tax Donkeys & Debt Serfs
    • The many are in servitude to the few
  • Late-Stage Empire Decline
    • Signs of it are everywhere in our economy & society

Charles breaks down for Chris how the masses are trapped by today's economy, forced to work harder and harder for a system that rewards them less and less, while the elites and unneccessary bureaucracy syphon off what profits remain.

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Off The Cuff: Moral Hazard

The culprits (banks & corps) are protected from their crimes
Friday, July 20, 2018, 12:43 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and John Rubino discuss:

  • Moral Hazard
    • We've unwisely insulated the banks from the repercussions of their actions
  • The Protected Class & Rising Populist Anger
    • In many ways, the elite today are above the law. And public resentment is brewing.
  • Global Debt Is Accelerating
    • Wherever the breaking point is, we're now going to hit it sooner
  • The Coming Tech Wreck
    • Faith in the FAANGs is higher than ever. That's dangerous.

By insulating the players from the consequences of their actions, we've created the incentive to take extreme risk in the puruit of extreme profit. Why shouldn't the banks manipulate the system if their worst punishment is a weak slap on the wrist?

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Off The Cuff: Yes, The Central Banks Really Are Starting To Tighten

Expect EVERYTHING you know about the markets to change
Tuesday, July 10, 2018, 10:40 AM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Wolf Richter discuss:

  • Tesla As A Symbol Of Silicon Valley
    • Way more hype than substance right now
  • Are Central Banks Really Starting To Tighten?
    • It's looking like indeed so
  • How The Rising Dollar Is Killing Emerging Markets
    • It's just math. Really cruel math.
  • Popping Of The Global Housing Bubble?
    • Australia may be leading the way down

The Fed has reduced its balance sheet so far this year to the tune of $100 billion, and is hoping to be reducing at the rate of $50 billion per month by October. The ECB has announced it will stop making purchases by the end of the year. And, surpringly, even the profligate Bank of Japan is showing signs of reducing its balance sheet.

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Off The Cuff: The Trouble With Trade Wars

The uncertainty whipsaws markets, media & investors alike
Thursday, June 28, 2018, 6:37 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Axel Merk discuss:

  • The Trouble With Trade Wars
    • The uncertainty is whipsawing the markets
  • Actions Have Repercussions
    • China's investment in the US plummets
  • The Rules Of Brinksmanship
    • Chris & Axel give book recommendations
  • Oil & Gold
    • Where to from here?

It's hard to keep one's head in today's world. Developments are changing at a pace the world just can't handle. As a result, the uncertainty and confusion makes it very difficult to 'surf' events as they unfold.

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Off The Cuff: Why Governments Prefer A Currency Crisis To A Debt Crisis

Nothing's as destructive as cascasding debt defaults
Friday, June 1, 2018, 6:09 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Wolf Richter discuss:

  • Panic in Europe
    • Italy is threatening to destabilize the EU
  • Central Banks Have Wrecked The Market Mechanisms
    • And tapering will reveal the damage done
  • What's Better? A Debt Crisis Or A Currency Crisis?
    • It seems governments vastly prefer the latter
  • Is Deutche Bank Threatening To Start A Banking Crisis?
    • Maybe. And it would set the world aflame.

With the action happening in Europe this week, from the Italian debt panic, to the new Spain PM, to Deustche Bank's worsening prospects, Wolf Richter comes on the program to make sense of the developments in real-time.

Notably, Wolf explains why the world's central banks will work with their home governments to destroy their currencies rather than start defaulting on their debts. This is path he expects the future to take:

A debt crisis is devastating, and it's devastating selectively. A currency crisis is kind of more democratic. It hits everybody. But a debt crisis, it hits the people that are recipients of government aid the most. And that's the problem in Greece and other countries, they had to go on austerity. Little bitty pensions were cut and things like that happened to save a few pennies here and there. And when it's a currency crisis, everybody gets hit and it spreads across. And I think they understand that Japan is uniquely equipped to deal with a currency crisis because it has this large trade surplus and because it sits on a pile of foreign exchange reserves. So that won't really blow up the Japanese economy where as a debt crisis would completely implode the economy, and it would wreak havoc among the people from pensioners and aid recipients and the healthcare system and everything would just collapse. And they decided that's not going to happen.

So that's how I think we need to look at what's happening in Japan. They made a decision to prevent a debt crisis. and if they get a currency crisis, fine, they'll manage that. Italy doesn't have that option. Italy doesn't have its own currency, and it can't do that, so it can get a debt crisis. And that's what happened to Greece, and that's what happened to other countries. When they get a debt crisis it's really nasty. I hope Italy can avoid this thing, but debt crises are just the worst, absolutely the worst. But if a government needs to do anything, it's avoid a debt crisis.

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