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Did We All Miss the Housing Bottom?

Posted Monday, 12 January 2009 | Digg This ArticleDigg It! | Source:

by Howard S. Katz


The current issue of the One-handed Economist features some very bearish patterns in the U.S. dollar. This is the moment of truth for the establishment. They are about to be destroyed, and they do not have a clue.

For almost 4 months, they have been arguing that the U.S. economy is in a financial crisis of a "deflationary" nature. They cited the very minor and normal commodity declines of this past summer as evidence. They wildly exaggerated the real estate decline by shifting from one indicator to another, always picking the indicator which happened to be down that month. Here is the actual median home price (U.S.) as reported by the Census Bureau.

As you can see, housing prices did decline in 2007. But they hit bottom in Jan. 2008, and have been flat to slightly higher since that time. You can check these figures at You know what the media's monthly reports on housing look like: DOWN 14%...DOWN 18%. DOWN, DOWN, DOWN.

How do they turn the rise from $216,000 in Jan. '08 to $220,000 in Nov. '08 into such a "decline?" Well one month they may use the actual number above. But the next month the number is bullish (not what they want); so they report the 12 month change. In April '08, both the one-month and the 12-month changes were positive. So they forgot about April and reported the 3-month average (Jan., Feb. and March) for '08 against the same 3 months for '07. This was reported immediately after the April figures were released. Everyone expected the report to be about the April figure. But the April figure was up and hence was not reported.

When they are really under fire, they switch to the Case-Shiller index. It has a 10 city and a 20 city. That gives 2 more figures, one of which (the 1 month or the 12 month) is likely to be down.

And yet the real news about housing prices in 2008 was that the decline of 2007 was stabilized suggesting that housing might be ready for a turn to the upside. To avoid drawing this optimistic conclusion, your newspaper did not technically lie. But it slanted the reports so that you would draw the wrong conclusion. It did not lie technically, but it lied in substance.

Write to the editor of your local paper, and tell him that he has been lying to you about housing prices. What use is a newspaper that lies? No use at all. Throw it in the trash and spend your time seeking the real truth.

The truth shall make ye rich. The establishment shall make ye poor.

If the establishment is correct, then no one in his right mind should buy commodities at this time. According to these people a wave of deflation has come out of nowhere, and all prices will be going down. According to the One-handed Economist a wave of "deflation" can only come from a decline in the money supply, and all declines (or advances) in the money supply in history have been caused by the government. Further, the One-handed Economist points out that the U.S. Government, over the past 4 months, has started its greatest money expansion in history. Since Sept. '08, Federal Reserve credit is up by 150%, and the monetary base is up by 100%. The money supply proper will take some time because it is largely created by the private banking system, and this moves more slowly.

Furthermore, although exact timing is less certain, I am fairly confident that bottoms are in for many commodities. Gold bottomed Oct. 24. Cocoa bottomed Oct. 24. Platinum bottomed Oct. 27. Silver bottomed Oct. 28. The CRB index bottomed Dec. 5. Corn, wheat and soybeans bottomed Dec. 5. Coffee bottomed Dec. 5. Unleaded gasoline bottomed Dec. 24. And crude oil bottomed Dec. 26. The establishment seems not to have noticed, but many commodities have been in uptrends since the turn of the millennium. For them to have 5-7 month declines is completely normal and does not indicate a reversal of trend. Just the opposite, what indicates a long term top in a commodity is a spike top, such as occurred in gold on Jan. 21, 1980.

I have pointed out that all of the establishment's evidence for a general "deflation" is of the self-fulfilling variety. The newspapers report that there is going to be a decline in such and such an area of the economy. An executive in the advertising department of a retail outlet reads this and decides to cut back on his newspaper advertising. Therefore his store pulls in fewer customers and records lower sales for the Christmas season. Another executive lays off workers in anticipation of a slower period. Over and over the media makes their gloomy forecasts come true, at least for the short term. So, you see, they can make up any lie at all, and the self-fulfilling aspect will make it appear to be true.

However, we know what happens to these self-fulfilling prophecies. They come true for a short period of time. Then the basic demand of the people for goods breaks through. All the indicators rebound. It turns out that the economy is not caught in a wave of "deflation." It is caught in a wave of "inflation."

Since Ben Bernanke is so obsessed with what is conventionally called the Great Depression, let us give some attention to this event. Bernanke, and all other establishment figures believe that this was a wave of "deflation" which simply came out of nowhere. They believe that such waves are inherent in a free economy. But the "deflation" of 1930-33 did not come out of nowhere. It was engineered by the Republicans. In 1920, the Republicans, observing that prices had doubled during WWI, decided that it would be good policy to bring them back down again. Since cigars had gone from 5¢ to 10¢ during the war, this policy of restoring the pre-WWI price level was expressed as, "What this country needs is a good 5¢ cigar."

First, this policy had been implemented after the price increases of the Civil War, and it had been very successful. It made the United States the richest country in the history of the world. Second, this policy had been very popular. The Republicans became the dominant party at this time, and the only Democrat who could get elected (Grover Cleveland) had a Republican economic policy (gold standard).

The Republicans' logic was very compelling. All the savers in the country had been cheated by the WWI depreciation of the currency. The currency had to be restored to its true value in order to make the savers whole. The Republicans were the party of the savers, and the savers were the large majority of the country.

The Democrats of that day cried, "What about the unemployed?" But the Republicans knew about the unemployed. They were basing their policy on what had happened after the Civil War. And after the Civil War there had been a "depression" (1873-79) almost as bad as that of 1930-33. Unemployment had soared during this period. The Republicans made two points. First, there were a lot more savers than unemployed; so their policy was for the benefit of the majority of the people. Second, the fact that the savers and the unemployed had different interests was temporary. It resulted from the fact that the Democrats had done wrong by depreciating the currency during the war. The unemployment of the 1930s was caused by the Democrats when they printed money to finance WWI. Further, the unemployment of the 1870s had been temporary, and that of the 1930s proved temporary as well. But the harm to the nation's savers which started after 1933 was permanent and had devastating effects on the U.S. economy.

So here is a policy which not only was consciously and deliberately adopted by the Government, but the policy was right and was for the greater good of the country. For Bernanke to argue that this was something that just came out of the sky and was bad shows that he does not have the slightest concept of what is going on in economics. If one actually studies economics, one finds that all price declines in American history were caused by declines in the money supply, which in turn were caused by the government. There has never been a liquidity trap where people had money but just decided not to spend it.

If there is intelligent life on Mars and a Martian were to visit America, he might point out, "Gee, you people have had rising prices for 53 years consecutively. The last year in which prices went down was 1955. I think you should be worried about prices going up, not down." And he might also point out, "Further, 1955 is celebrated in your popular culture as Happy Days. Maybe declining prices are a good thing, not a bad thing." Certainly the decline in gasoline over the last half of 2008 (temporary as it is) was a good thing. Maybe the President needs to appoint this Martian as his economic advisor.

Since that time, the Democrats have posed as the defender of the unemployed, and anyone who argues against their policies is slandered as lacking sympathy. First, they had "sympathy" for the minority of the people but completely lacked sympathy for the large majority. Second, the leader of the Democrats at that time, F.D.R., was a Wall Streeter (manager of a vulture fund), and he just happened to adopt a policy which caused a large rise in the stock market. (The DJI doubled from early '33 to early '34 and multiplied by almost 4 times by early '37.) He couldn't admit that this was his intention. He was pretending to be a traitor to his class. The unemployed were a convenient post on which he could hang his hat. He was trying to lower real wages. This would reduce unemployment. But he was trying to do it to increase the profits of the big corporations. It was hardly in the best interest of the working man.

Given that the supporters of Wall Street and the big corporations are now in control of the country and given that they have started a policy of a massive infusion of money, the question must be raised, how do you protect yourself? After all, this is the same policy which has reduced Zimbabwe (the former Rhodesia) to famine and disease. The first thing you have to do is to make a decision. Are prices going up, or are they going down? They can't do both, and what you need to do in the one case is exactly the opposite of what you need to do in the other. The media are lying to you because they represent the interests of Wall Street and the big corporations, and these people are trying to steal your wealth. You have to see through this lie if you are going to protect yourself.

I call myself the one-handed economist because this phrase comes from Harry Truman, who was fed up with the BS he was getting from F.D.R.'s economic advisors. When Truman would ask a straight question, they would give him double talk. "On the one hand"¦, but on the other hand." Truman got angry and said, "What this country needs is a good one-handed economist." Truman stopped the growth in the money supply and balanced the budget. Eisenhower continued his policy. Together they gave the country Happy Days. Today, both parties are in the pocket of Wall Street, and they are trying to rob you blind. Ben Bernanke is counterfeiter in chief.

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