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Jim Rickards Exclusive: Dollar May Become “Local Currency Of The U.S.” Only

By Money Metals Exchange. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Coming up we’ll hear part one of an amazing two-part interview with Jim Rickards, author of Currency Wars, The New Case for Gold and The Road to Ruin. Jim shares his insights on the Fed’s supposed plan to unwind its balance sheet and what it will mean for the economy and for gold prices. He’ll discuss some potential fireworks involving the U.S. dollar as it continues losing its reserve currency status. Don’t miss a must-hear interview with Jim Rickards, coming up after this week’s market update.


Mike Gleason: It is my great privilege to be joined now by James Rickards. Mr. Rickards is editor of Strategic Intelligence, a monthly newsletter, and Director of the James Rickards Project, an inquiry into the complex dynamics of geopolitics and global capital. He’s also the author of several bestselling books including The Death of Money, Currency Wars, The New Case for Gold, and now his latest book The Road to Ruin.

Jim Rickards Dollar Local Currency

In addition to his achievements as a writer and author, Jim is also a portfolio manager, lawyer and renowned economic commentator having been interviewed by CNBC, the BBC, Bloomberg, Fox News and CNN just to name a few. And we’re also happy to have him back on the Money Metals Podcast.

Jim, thanks for coming on with us again today. We really appreciate your time. How are you?

Jim Rickards: I’m fine, Mike. Thanks. Great to be with you. Thanks for having me.

Mike Gleason: Absolutely. Well first off, Jim, last week, the fed increased the fed funds rate by another quarter of a point as most of us expected, but during that meeting, we also heard Janet Yellen say she wants to normalize the Fed’s balance sheet, which means the Fed could be dumping about $50 billion in financial assets into the marketplace each month. Now you’ve been a longtime and outspoken critic of the fed and their policies over the years. So, what are your thoughts here, Jim? Do you believe they will actually follow through on this idea of selling off more than $4 trillion in bonds and other assets on the Fed’s books? And if so, what do you think the market reaction would be including the gold market?

Jim Rickards: Well, I do think they’re going to follow through. Of course, it’s important to understand the mechanics of the Fed. They’re actually not going to sell any bonds. But they are going to reduce their balance sheet by probably two to two and a half trillion. So just to go through the history and the math and the actual mechanics there, so prior to the financial crisis of 2008, the Fed’s balance sheet was about $800 billion. As a result of QE1, QE2, QE3, and everything else the fed has done in the meantime, they got that balance sheet up to $4.5 trillion. By the way, if the Fed were a hedge fund, they’d be leveraged 115 to one. They look a really bad hedge fund. But that’s how much the Fed is leveraged, they have about 40 billion of equity, versus 4.5 trillion of assets. Mostly U.S. government securities of various kinds. So, they’re leveraged well over 100 to one.

And if you mark the balance sheet to market, not always but sometimes depending on what interest rates are doing, they’re actually technically insolvent. There have been times, again not all the times, but times when the mark to market basis, the Fed would have negative equity or basically would be broke if they were anyone other than the Fed. So that’s how leveraged they are. That’s how bad it is.

Now, what they want to do is to get the balance sheet down to what they consider normal. Now normal is completely subjective. There’s no rigorous scientific formula for what’s normal. The way you would do it is go back to 2008, start with the 800 billion, and say well look, if we had grown the balance sheet on the prior path, where would we be today in 2017, going into 2018, 2019? That number’s around two trillion. I mean it wouldn’t have been 800 billion. They’re not going to hold it steady. But probably just two to two and a half trillion for an approximation, which means that they have to reduce the balance sheet by two trillion dollars or more to get back to normal.

Now the question is, how do you do that? And again, I just want to emphasize, they’re not going to sell any bonds. What they do is they let them mature. If you want to go buy a treasury bond, let’s say we bought a 5-year note, five years ago and it was maturing today. What would happen? The Treasury just sends you the money. It’s like any bond. You don’t have to sell it. You don’t have to do anything with it. They just send you the money. They have your account and the money just shows up in your account. Well, it’s the same thing with the Fed, they have all these trillions of treasury notes and bonds and bills and mortgages and all that. And when they mature, the Treasury just sends them the money.

So, if that’s true, which it is, why hasn’t the balance sheet been going down all along? Well the answer is, they have been reinvesting the proceeds. So, as I say, if you have a 5-year note you bought five years ago, it matures, treasury sends you the money. Well the Fed has been going out buying a new 5-year note to replace the 5-year note that just matured. So that holds the balance sheet constant. During QE, they were actually doing more than that. They were not only rolling over the existing balance sheet. They were buying new securities with money from thin air.

That, by the way, for listeners who may not be familiar, that is how the Fed creates money. So, the Federal Reserve calls one of the so-called primary dealers which are the big banks. It’s Goldman Sachs, City, JP Morgan, the usual suspects. And they say, “offer me 10-year notes or 5-year notes, whatever.” And the dealer will offer them a price. And the Fed will say, “Okay, you’re done.” And then the dealer delivers the treasury notes to the Fed. And the Fed pays for them. But the money comes from nowhere. If you or I called Merrill Lynch of Goldman Sachs or somebody and said, I’d like to buy some 10-year treasury notes, they would sell them to us, but we’d have to pay for them with real money. I mean the money would come out of our brokerage account or a bank account. Whereas when the Fed does it, they just say, “Here’s the money.” And it literally comes from thin air.

So that’s what Quantitative Easing was. That was printing money to buy bonds to build up the balance sheet. And then that money went into the banking system. Of course, all the banks did was give it back to the Fed in the from excess reserves. On which they got interest, so the whole thing

The post Jim Rickards Exclusive: Dollar May Become “Local Currency Of The U.S.” Only appeared first on ValueWalk.

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