[Editor's Note: This article is by Casey Research and reprinted by permission. It presents a good overview and hits on the material issues discussed during the panel I joined while in Phoenix at the Cambridge House Investment Conference.
2009 appears to be shaping up to trump 2008. The peaceful rallies of about 15,000 in Orange County, California for the Tea Party 2009 are a forecast of things to come. As I discussed in Five Weeks of Silver Backwardation; it is now 7 weeks and this is extremely unusual. During the great credit contraction it will be difficult to even retain one's wealth let alone grow it. I really hope everyone has adequately prepared themselves.]
THERE IS ALWAYS A SILVER LINING
Here at Casey Research, we are trying not to be overly pessimistic, but there’s no denying the mass of bad news coming to us from all fronts: the forces of collectivism are using the cover of the crisis they largely created, aided and abetted by capitalism’s quislings, to roll over the individual.
Even so, contained within the dire reportage is also some very good news for you personally.
THE BAD NEWS
As fully anticipated, with its first budget plan, the Obama administration has fired a salvo into the side of the productive classes. For those of you who are not U.S. citizens, feel free to use Team Obama as a proxy for what is likely to occur where you reside.
Yes, we expected the $1.75 trillion budget deficit, which will, by the time all is said and done, come in a lot closer to the $2.5 trillion number anticipated some months ago by our Chief Economist Bud Conrad.
Yes, we expected the government to begin raising taxes, which they are proposing to do with vigor – starting with an increase of $1.4 trillion on the people who earn in excess of $250,000 a year. “Right on!” shouts the mob, on the way out the door to burn Porsches.
For no other purpose than to keep the record straight, it’s worth noting that thanks to the government’s steady dose of inflation, $250,000 today will only buy you 77% of what it would have in 1998… and 56% of what it would have in 1988.
A decade from now, given the inflation rate we expect, the dollar’s purchasing power will erode by another 50%, and probably a lot more than that. In fact, at the current rate of money creation, by the time the dust settles, $250,000 might be the annual wage commanded by burger flippers.
But, hey, look at the bright side, at that point everyone will be rich!
The further details of Obama’s budget plan are a hodgepodge of this and that, some of which we even agree with (like cutting business subsidies). On the whole, however, the overarching mandate appears to be to thrust the hand of government, like some motion picture kung fu villain, deep into the heart of American enterprise.
And government’s expansion is far from over. The news continues to pour in…
Citigroup to get another $25 billion bailout from the U.S. Treasury.
Treasury officials work on bailout plan for auto parts manufacturers.
President Obama exploring automatic workplace pensions and an expansion of unemployment insurance.
AIG, now a government lap puppy, takes another big loss, and is again looking to its master for another handout.
Speaking of lap puppies, Fannie Mae, has lost another $25 billion and is looking for $15 billion more from the Treasury. The value of this zombie institution’s net assets is now a negative $105 billion, and eroding. Great investment of your tax dollars, eh?
Then there’s the new administration’s cap-and-trade green tax… a stunning new initiative that will bring many U.S. businesses to their knees.
There is more, so much more, including a $638 billion reserve fund for healthcare reform in the president’s budget that loudly broadcasts that, “Yes, we’re going there.” There being nationalized health care.
However, there’s also some good news to be found in the way things will be.
THE GOOD NEWS
My fellow citizens of planet Earth, it is now abundantly clear that the trend toward socialism in all its many disguises is about to, once again, shift into high gear.
We’ve been here before, encouraged by the words of Karl Marx, a distinctly unsuccessful individual (to read his life story is to read of almost unending misery, poverty, and discontent) but a decidedly successful phrase-coiner, knocking the world off its axis with his “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”
While no one with any real sense of history, not to mention economics, can take any overt joy at the prospect of the dark clouds of collectivism looming high in the sky above us, there is, if you pay close attention, a very big opportunity in all of this.
Namely, we are now presented with a relatively rare chance to see with some clarity into the future.
Imagine if eight years from now you could step into a time machine and zip right back to this very moment. How much money do you think you could make?
Well, just because the chattering masses have the blinders on as they march forward to their collective penury doesn’t mean we need to join them. And, if we are even a little bit careful, we won’t.
So, what is it about the future we can now see? Some broad strokes…
Rising interest rates.
A price capitulation in real estate, with a collapse in commercial.
Exchange controls (now that Team Obama is raising your taxes, you don’t really think they’re going to let you pick up your wealth and leave, do you? The window for global diversification will soon be closing.)
The return of mega-labor unions.
Trade wars, shooting wars, and other forms of heightened geopolitical tension.
This is a topic we are discussing at greater length, backed up with specific recommendations, in the March edition of The Casey Report, released on March 3. Among its many highlights, Doug Casey has contributed an article titled “Street Fighting Man” about the prospects for social unrest.
Provided you keep your personal wealth profile low (there was a reason Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, drove a beat-up pickup truck), your financial powder dry, and, maybe most important of all, retain your sense of humor, the opportunities in the unfolding crisis will be abundant.
Whatever you do, don’t be complacent about what’s coming.
We are long past the point where doing nothing is an option. Review your personal finances, cut out unnecessary expenses, talk to your accountant about tax planning, and, if you’re a U.S. citizen, consider moving at least some of your wealth out of the country while you still can (but please, don’t try to hide it… that’s a fool’s errand). If you own gold, only you and your spouse, if you have one, should be aware of it.
Ask yourself, “If I just dropped in from eight years in the future, what measures would I take?”
Now, take them.
There is no time to lose in taking the necessary steps to preserve (and multiply) your wealth. The best way to do so is going with the flow and playing the trend… a strategy that can pay off handsomely, even in an economic crisis.