March 15, 2016
The Zika virus is the newest threat to humanity, especially pregnant women, so they say. Big Pharma is working feverishly to create a vaccine. Chances are the vaccine will be created, highly profitable, and Big Pharma will be “held harmless” for injuries to those who were vaccinated.
Add GM mosquitos, birth defects, Brazilian Olympics, big profits, and the story becomes a huge distraction. John Rappoport has suggested there is more to the story.
There is money to be made on vaccines and GM mosquitos, and money to be lost if sales of pesticides and other chemicals are reduced. It is clear in which direction the politics will lean.
The Zika virus should remind us of other strange activities in the financial world.
——– Speculation and Sarcasm Alert ————-
What if we think of ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Program) as a financial virus, created and distributed by the central banks, that infects pools of savings? Symptoms are:
- The ZIRP virus weakens and gradually destroys pension funds. Retirees, beware of this virus!
- The ZIRP virus destroys income for personal savers. People saved for decades and now their savings yield little or nothing in interest.
- The same has occurred with Insurance companies – they earn little on their bonds compared to what they previously earned.
- Governments must (in theory) increase their contributions to retirement plans to supplement the decreased earnings due to the deleterious effects of the ZIRP virus. Consequently some governments are closer to insolvency and should curtail expenditures. Retirees, this is another warning!
- The bond market is further levitated in its 35 year bull market. This benefits the political and financial elite … until it crashes.
The ZIRP virus is a nasty virus that affects many people, pension plans, insurance companies, and government budgets. Central banks have concocted this virus and it has infected many pools of savings.
But there are worse viruses than the ZIRP virus!
The ZIRP virus has mutated into a nastier version – the NIRP virus, otherwise known as the Negative Interest Rate Program virus. Currently over $7 Trillion in sovereign debt has been infected with this virus and the quantity of infected debt increases daily.
From John Rubino:
“Yesterday Japan’s government borrowed money on terms that require the lenders to pay rather than receive interest for ten years. And not only was that bond issue snapped up, it was vastly oversubscribed. This raises a lot of questions, the chief being ‘why would anyone voluntarily commit to something that’s guaranteed to lose money for a decade?’
The short, obvious answer is that the world’s central banks are creating so much excess cash that there seems to be nowhere else for it to go.”
The NIRP virus is similar in symptoms and consequences to the ZIRP virus:
- Pension funds are destroyed even more rapidly.
- Personal savers will, once infected by the NIRP virus, experience the questionable privilege of loaning money to their favorite bank and, if the bank survives, receiving back less than they “deposited.”
- Insurance company earnings are hurt by the NIRP virus. Perhaps rates will rise.
- Many governments, which are already in financial trouble, will increasingly underfund their pension plans after they have been infected with the NIRP virus.
There are other consequences besides insolvent private pension plans, retirees unable to earn enough from savings, insurance companies earning too little, and government pension plans becoming insolvent quicker.
From Bill Gross (quoted by Rubino):
“Capitalism does not function well, and profit growth is stunted, if short-term and long-term yields near the zero bound are low and the yield curve inappropriately flat.”
From John Rubino:
“They [life insurance companies] price their policies on the assumption of a mid-single digit positive return on their bond portfolios. Turn that return negative and all of a sudden the world’s life insurers are either unprofitable or insolvent. And that’s a big industry.
“Pension funds, meanwhile, operate the same way, taking in and investing contributions against future obligations. Many US pension plans are already borderline broke and in a NIRP environment they’ll suffer a mass extinction.”
Repeat: regarding the effects of the ZIRP and NIRP viruses:
- Capitalism does not function well.
- Life insurance companies become unprofitable or insolvent.
- Pension funds: expect mass extinction.
- Retirees and future retirees: This is your warning! Read an article from John Mauldin.
However, an even more destructive mutation of the NIRP virus has been sighted and may infect larger pools of capital:
It is possible the NIRP virus will mutate into the NIR-BAM virus. The Negative Interest Rate with Bank Account Mandatory virus would require that all cash be deposited into bank accounts that are “taxed” each year with negative interest rates. In other words, you can’t win and you must play the game. The NIR-BAM virus is spreading in Europe and Japan, and a few early signs have been seen in the U.S. An outbreak or epidemic is possible.
The ZIRP virus, NIRP virus, and a potential outbreak of the NIR-BAM virus are destructive to savers, pension plans, insurance companies, economies, and governments who fund pension plans. These viruses have mutated from QE and central bank diseases, and all the consequences of these diseases and viruses have not yet been fully realized.
Going forward we might expect additional QE, continued ZIRP and NIRP, deflation in paper financial markets, weakened economic activities, a banking system crash, and a renaissance in gold and silver markets as people seek protection from the effects of the ZIRP and NIRP viruses.
Economies could deteriorate further as more capital, people and markets are infected by financial viruses. Fortunately, gold and silver have no counter-party risk and both are likely to prosper as other investments experience the deadly consequences of the ZIRP and NIRP virus. Also, gold and silver will help protect savers from the NIR-BAM virus if it becomes an epidemic.
Gold and silver might diminish worries and help people sleep, and thereby improve their immune systems, which will also help protect people from the Zika virus.
Gold and Silver will thrive – as paper assets are increasingly infected by financial viruses.