I’ve run across a couple of interesting stories in the last few days that readers should be aware of.
– In early 2006 the Federal Reserve got rid of reporting on M3, the total amount of US dollars in circulation worldwide, whether electronic, printed, or otherwise accounted for. The offical reason was that the Fed claimed it wasn’t a very accurate or relevant figure to track, while some economists and conspiracy theorists believed that this was a precursor to the Fed starting to inject massive ammounts of liquidity into the markets to keep the dollar afloat and the US government open for business. Several sites have reconstructed M3 based on other stats, and what do the numbers show? Why, they show that overall M3 is up 11.5 percent this year. In other words, the good folks over at the Fed have created $11.50 out of thin air for each $100 in circulation worldwide.
What happens when they dilute the puchasing power of money this way? Inflation happens. Have you noticed your bills for food, power and taxes rising faster than your wages? When costs are rising by 8-10% a year, and your savings account is earning a whopping 1.5% interest, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Likewise, at an 11.5% inflationary rate, is it any wonder why Wall Street punishes corporations that fail to keep profits rising faster than that? Expect more of the same next year, and every year after that until the dollar finally crumbles under the pressure. The best investment I can see is in acquiring necessary tools and equipment now while prices are still low.
– CNN is reporting that a new ice island has been formed in the Arctic Ocean where a large piece of the ice shelf attached to Ellesmere Island has snapped off. An ice sheet the size of 100,000 football fields (or around 41 square miles) became a new ice island in about an hour one day in late 2005, according to scientists in both Canada and the USA. The experts are warning about this being another sign of climate change and thresholds being crossed, etc. I still don’t expect the US to do anything serious about it until we personally are devastated. That seems to be the way of things.
– Speaking of climate change, 2006 was the third-warmest year on record for Minnesota. It’s late December and the ground still isn’t frozen here in the great brown north.