Inflation or Hyperinflation? [FOFOA]

Whilst discussing the demise of the Canadian penny in front of a Congressional panel, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke demonstrates that “transactional currency is simply a notional, purely symbolic token medium of exchange, much more replaceable, resource-efficient and environmentally friendly than mining stupid metals for stupid coins.”
(NotReal News)

Remember my post around this same time last year titled Deflation or Hyperinflation? At that time, the debate between deflation and hyperinflation was all the rage, and so I wrote a post to a prominent and long-time deflationist named Rick Ackerman, who later stopped by in the comments. In fact, most of my hyperinflation posts have been written in the context of the deflationists’ arguments.

I can’t say that the debate has shifted from deflation to inflation over the last year, but it sure seems that the arguments coming across my desk these days are for rising inflation with the exclusion of hyperinflation. My position hasn’t changed. But this does give me the opportunity to present my position against a different premise, that of inflation without currency collapse. I would guess that some of you will have a completely different view of hyperinflation by the time you finish this post. If so, please let me know in the comments.

But first I need to make it clear once again that this hyperinflation discussion is not about timing. It’s about how it all ends, and it’s better (for a saver) to be a decade too early than a minute too late. The other side (whoever it may be) often tries to make the debate about timing. It is not about timing and I don’t do timing, but that doesn’t mean the end is far away. If anything, it’s overdue in the same way a big earthquake can be overdue. In ‘Deflation or Hyperinflation?’ I wrote:

The whole point of the [hyperinflation] debate is about the denouement, the final outcome of this 100-year dollar experiment. It is about the ultimate end, and the debate has been going on ever since the 70s when the dollar was separated from gold and it became clear that there would be an end. The debate is about determining the best stance someone should take who has plenty of net worth. And I do mean PLENTY. People of modest net worth, like me, can of course participate in the debate. But then it can become confusing at times when we think about shortages or supply disruptions of necessities like food. Of course you need to look out for life’s necessities first and foremost. But beyond that, there is real value to be gained by truly understanding this debate.

Here is FOA on timing, from a post in which he specifically predicted dollar “hyper price inflation”:


We, and I, as physical gold advocates, don’t need timing for this position! Timing is for poor, paper traders. We are neither and our solid, long term, one call over several years to hold physical gold will confirm our reasoning. There is no stress for me to own this ancient asset as it is in a good proportion to all my other wealth.

There is no trading an economic system whose currency is ending its timeline. Smart, quick talking players will joke at our expense until fast markets and locked down paper gold positions block their “trading even” move into physical at any relative cheap price. Mine owners will see any near term profits evaporate into a government induced pricing contango that constrains stock equity with forced selling at paper gold prices. 

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