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Fed Panic Boosts Bonds & Gold, Freaks Out Stock Investors
Jacob Hornberger: Let the Free Market Determine Rates, Pick the Best Money
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Welcome to this week’s Market Wrap Podcast, I’m Mike Gleason.
Coming up we’ll hear from a first-time guest Jacob Hornberger, founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation, author of the book My Passion for Liberty and also the winner of all three of this week’s Presidential primaries for the Libertarian party.
Jacob tells us how both the major political parties in America have been engaged in socialism, why he believes the Federal Reserve needs to be abolished, and how gold and silver can help to restore our broken monetary system. So, don’t miss a fascinating interview with one of the leaders of the modern-day libertarian movement, Jacob Hornberger, coming up after this week’s market update.
Another tumultuous week in equity and interest rate markets has helped fuel a big pop in safe-haven demand for gold and silver.
The major market moving event was, of course, the Federal Reserve’s emergency rate cut on Tuesday. The Fed slashed its overnight funds rate by 50 basis points. But even before the Fed acted, the bond market had already forced its hand as yields on the 10-year Treasury note plunged to record low levels.
By Friday morning, the 10-year treasury yielded less than a paltry 0.90%. That represents almost no reward in exchange for the risk involved. Bond buyers are apparently willing to make a decade-long bet on U.S. government finances remaining solid and inflation remaining extremely low.
It’s still possible for bonds to experience capital appreciation if rates ultimately head to zero or below – as they have already done in other parts of the world. The Fed is almost certain to cut rates again. There is a good chance at least some portion of the yield curve will be at zero later in the year.
As central bankers act furiously to devalue cash assets, the U.S. dollar is likely to come under downside pressure. If for no other reason than the Fed still has room to cut rates further while much of the rest of the developed world has already run out of conventional tools to depreciate their currencies.
There has been a lot of talk of “coordinated action” among world central banks. Perhaps they will all get together and roll out some sort of global quantitative easing or other unconventional forms of stimulus. Since zero and even negative interest rates haven’t had the desired effect, maybe they will just try dropping cash out of helicopters – or whatever the digital equivalent may be.
Gold is emerging as the strongest currency in the world since the outbreak of the coronavirus. Although the monetary metal got hammered in futures markets in last Friday’s trading, it has quickly recouped those losses. Gold is posting a healthy 5.0% gain this week to bring spot prices to $1,668 per ounce.
Gold is showing tremendous relative strength versus the stock market, which continues to swing wildly on a daily basis. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has so far suffered just a sharp correction in the big picture. It was just a month ago that the blue-chip average was hitting new record highs.
But when measured in terms of gold, the Dow is in a major bear market. In fact, the Dow:gold ratio dropped this week to a 3-year low of 15.6:1.
Another ratio we monitor closely is the gold:silver ratio. It is now trading at an extreme high of just over 96:1. You’d have to go all the way back to 1991 to find gold selling at a more elevated premium to silver – and then only briefly.
If coronavirus fears continue to drive markets, then gold could potentially spike to 100 times the silver price. But we suspect that when markets finally calm down and prospects for the global economy improve, silver will begin playing catch-up to gold. And it has a long way to go to get back to a more historically typical relationship with its more prestigious counterpart.
Silver prices currently check in at $17.26 an ounce and are a posting a 2.6% gain this week.
We are also seeing a big surge in demand for silver bullion products. The U.S. Mint reported that it sold 675,000 Silver Eagles in just the first three days of March. By comparison, it supplied dealers with just 650,000 Silver Eagles for the entire month of February.
Coming off of three years of subpar demand for physical precious metals – the downturn really began after the election of Donald Trump in November 2016 – this year could see a significant rebound.
Although fears of a debilitating global pandemic may fade – and we certainly hope they do – other drivers of bullion buying are likely to persist.
The Fed’s return to zero interest rate policy makes hard money look like an increasingly attractive place to hold wealth. Plus, we could see rising political uncertainties and worries heading into this fall’s election – especially if investors fear the outcome could be bad for Wall Street.
The threat of an overt socialist becoming president seems to have subsided with Bernie Sanders losing several key states to Joe Biden on Super Tuesday. But Sanders is still winning the youth vote overwhelmingly. That large and growing cohort of radical leftists could propel more AOC types into Congress and into powerful positions at the state and local level.
Both Joe Biden and President Trump will talk a lot about unifying the country on the campaign trail. But the reality is that the U.S. is likely to remain as politically polarized as ever. There are no bipartisan solutions in sight for chronic problems such as trillion-dollar budget deficits.
All our big fiscal and economic issues are being handed off to the Fed to handle. The only strategy it has to deal with them is to paper over everything with more fiat dollars.
Well now, without further delay, let’s get right to this week’s exclusive interview.
Mike Gleason: It is my privilege now to welcome Jacob Hornberger, founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation, a non-profit educational foundation with a mission to present the principled case for the libertarian philosophy. Mr. Hornberger is a native of Texas, served a number of years in the U.S. Army Reserves and authored a book titled My Passion for Liberty with introductions by Ron Paul and Richard Ebeling, the latter having been a one-time guest on our podcast, as a matter of fact.
He also served as one of the essay judges for the 2019 Money Metals Exchange Scholarship, the first gold backed scholarship of the modern era. And perhaps most notably and at the risk of burying the lede in his impressive bio, last fall Jacob announced his candidacy for president as a member of the Libertarian party and is currently campaigning as he seeks his party's nomination.
It's a tremendous honor to have him on with us today. Jacob, thank you so much for the time and welcome, sir.
Jacob Hornberger: Well, thank you, Mike. It's nice to be here with y'all.
Mike Gleason: Well, let's begin by having you introduce yourself a little bit more for our listeners, above and beyond the bio I just read, for people that may not be familiar with your candidacy so they can get a sense of what Jacob Hornberger is all about as a person and as a candidate. Let's begin there.
Jacob Hornberger: Okay. Well, I grew up in Laredo, Texas on a farm on the Rio Grande, just outside the city limits. And I had always wanted to be a lawyer when I was a kid because my dad was a lawyer, I'd always go to court with him. So after college, I went to college of Virginia Military Institute and I got a degree in economics. And then I went to law school at the University of Texas and then started practicing law in Laredo, in partnership with my dad.
And then after about, three years or so, I discovered libertarianism, which just totally changed the course of my life. I started seeping myself in libertarian books, studying everything I could get my hands on and ultimately decided to leave the practice of law, and go to work for a libertarian foundation – the first libertarian educational foundation in the country called the Foundation for Economic Education, which was based in New York.
So, I stayed there a couple of years and then decided I wanted to start my own foundation, non-profit educational foundation that, as you pointed out, presents a very principled and uncompromising case for the libertarian philosophy and how it's the only practical approach to the many crises that afflict our land… healthcare, immigration, foreign policy, and so forth.
So, I started FFF in 1989 and I should emphasize that the foundation does not endorse my political candidacy, but I've been doing that now for 30 years in the educational arena. And so I finally decided I'd come to a point in my life where I wanted to take on these people who have destroyed our freedom in this country, both Democrats and Republicans in a more direct way. And so I decided I would do that by seeking the Libertarian party presidential nomination. And that's what I've been doing since 2nd of November is campaigning actively trying to win this nomination.
Mike Gleason: Well, excellent. We'll get more into the inner workings of the Libertarian party and how they go about selecting their nominee for president as it may be. It's a little bit different than the two major parties, which of course everybody seems to know full well about. And on that front, there's been some strife within Libertarian party ranks. Some Libertarians think leadership there has not done a great job when it comes to consistency in principles. Gary Johnson and Bill Weld headed the party's ticket in 2016, but did so without universal support from a good number of people both inside and outside the party. Weld in particular seemed to many like a garden variety RINO Republican rather than a true champion for limited government.
In fact, he joined the Republican party and he's challenging Trump in the primary. You are on the other hand, the real deal in our opinion and then the timing seems good. It looks to us like there is an opportunity this year, the roster of Democrat candidates is weak and Trump isn't exactly the most beloved figure in political history. And there will be voters looking for alternatives. The trick will be getting their attention, though.
Do you think you can unite libertarians, Jacob, and how about reaching disaffected voters in the other major parties? Because obviously it's a real uphill battle given the corporate media isn't going to be helping much.
Jacob Hornberger: Well, I think that the basic question that everyone in America has to answer for themselves is do you like the direction in which America's headed? This is a direction of socialism. We can see that reflected by the ascendancy of Bernie Sanders as well as the Democratic party in general, but also with the Republican party. The Republican party claims that they favor a free market system, but they support social security, Medicare, Medicaid. These are the crown jewels of America's socialist system in terms of the welfare state. And it doesn't stop there.
There are education grants, farm subsidies, foreign aid, corporate bailouts, the whole realm of welfare state programs. So, if you liked this direction where you've got death and suffering, like with the war on immigrants, the foreign wars that are going on, all the foreign interventionism, the coups, the assassinations. If you like this direction, you can vote for either Trump or Biden or Sanders, any of them. It doesn't matter which one you vote for. Because you're going to get the same direction. Donald Trump has turned out to be nothing more than a continuation of Barack Obama and George W. Bush.
But if you want a new direction, a different direction, a direction that goes genuinely in the direction of freedom, economic liberty, free markets, private property, and a limited government Republic, then come and join us. Join me. This is my campaign. And when I first started thinking about running, I wasn't sure of the reaction that I would get from LP members, because the Libertarian party is composed of many, many reform-minded type of Libertarians… the ones that are willing to settle for reform of the welfare warfare state, serfdom under which we live.
So, they come up with plans like school vouchers and state health savings accounts and all these did keep the system intact. While I wasn't sure where I would land in this and how people would respond to a principled message of liberty that entails the dismantling of these programs, including Social Security, Medicare, the Federal Reserve, a free market monetary system, immigration controls, open borders, free trade and open immigration. And it's been very gratifying, Mike, because the message is resonating really powerfully within this party. So far, we won three primaries yesterday on Super Tuesday, the three primaries that the LP was in. I won all three of those in Massachusetts, California and North Carolina.
I've won straw polls in California, Florida, Arkansas. I won the Iowa caucuses; I won the Minnesota caucuses. This is telling me that that LP members are responding positively to what I'm calling a campaign of principle for the party of principle. The Libertarian party calls itself the party of principle. And ever since I served three terms on the platform committee in the 90s for the national party, I've always believed, and I believe more strongly now than ever that are our principles in the Libertarian party are our greatest assets. Not only because they lead to liberty, but also because they are the only practical solution to the crises the Democrats and Republicans have forced it upon our land with their socialism, interventionism regulation and overall statism.
Mike Gleason: Yeah, very well put. One thing you mentioned there, the Federal Reserve and I want to key on that for a moment. Ron Paul made the case to the American public about the corrupt and anti-free market nature of the Federal Reserve. He is the only candidate in recent memory to make serious political hay with his criticism of the central bank. He got remarkable traction, particularly with young people, but ending the Fed pretty much died as a political issue when Ron Paul left government. The Fed once again operates with impunity, blowing bubbles and distorting the economy. When the bubble pops next time officials there will probably dodge the blame once again. In fact, they will most likely trot out even more extreme policy measures with great cheers from Wall Street of course.
It's amazing that they keep getting away with this. After all, many of the president's supporters are fixed income retirees. Trump is leaning hard on the Fed to cut interest rates even further, but people don't seem worried about what lower rates are already doing to people who rely on interest for income.
So, what will it take for citizens to wake up and start holding the central bank and politicians accountable here, Jacob?
Jacob Hornberger: I think doing exactly what Ron Paul did and just speaking the truth. And I think that's why Ron Paul was so successful and even one of my real life heroes. I mean, it was a real honor when he agreed to write the introduction to my book and it turned out to be a very nice introduction – my book, My Passion for Liberty. Ron spoke the truth and I think that's what resonated in people and that's exactly the truth I'm going to speak. The Federal Reserve is really nothing more than a socialist institution.
It's socialism in the sense that they are involved in central planning, central government planning, which is a core feature of socialism. So, you have a government board that is planning the monetary affair of countless people, hundreds of millions of people. It simply cannot be done as Friedrich Hayek, the Nobel Prize winning Libertarian economist pointed out, this is the pretense of knowledge, what he called the fatal conceit. That people think they can, that government thinks they can plan economic activity, and all they do is create crises and chaos. Ludwig von Mises called it planned chaos.
Well, look what they've done since the Fed was established in 1913. They ended up destroying the finest monetary system in history, that our system was founded on gold coins and silver coins. Anybody who reads the Constitution can see that. The Constitution even says, "No state shall make anything but gold coins and silver coins, legal tender." And the Fed by over-printing the debt instruments, the promise is to pay gold and silver inflated the money supply so much that that's what ended up leading to the stock market crash in 1929, which of course they blame on the free enterprise system. When it was a direct result of monetary manipulation by the Fed and that's been documented by economists like Milton Friedman, another libertarian who won a Nobel prize.
Murray Rothbard, the Austrian School of Economics. So, you look at the decade after decade after decade and you're right, they just print the money to finance ever-growing expenditures of the welfare-warfare state, all their foreign escapades, all their welfare state escapades here and they just debased the value of people's money. And who paid the biggest price for this? It's the people at the bottom of the economic ladder like you pointed out, people on fixed income.
And the advantage of this kind of system is that the average person doesn't realize why prices are rising across society. So, he starts blame it on rapacious businessmen and profiteers and speculators and the Fed just smiles and laughs because they know they're the ones responsible for it. So, what's the solution? Yes, end the Fed abolish it, dismantle it and instead of returning to a gold coin, silver coin standard that the federal government manages, which is the second-best alternative; the best alternative is a free market monetary system.
This was pointed out by Friedrich Hayek and in an essay called the Denationalization of Money where you just leave money to the free market. If the free market chooses gold coins, silver coins, American Express bank notes, bitcoins as the money that's being used or a combination of all the things... the free market produces the best of everything. We've learned that both theoretically and practically. So, that's what I'm calling for is dismantling this whole central planning agency and having a free market monetary system.
Mike Gleason: Do you think sound money has a real chance of revival in the current political climate? Obviously, we heard Trump talk about that on the 2016 campaign trail, haven't heard much about it since. But where do you think that's headed? Is it basically going to take a crisis of the currency, a hyperinflationary type of event for people to sort of find religion when it comes to gold and silver as the only true money?
Jacob Hornberger: Well, I hope not because at that time when there's a big crisis, you don't necessarily get freedom. Sometimes you get tyranny. I mean, that's what happened in the Great Depression. The Fed caused the stock market crash. And instead of abolishing the Fed at that point, people turned to Roosevelt and his New Deal, which was just an autocratic authoritarian control over economic activity. And that's what ushered in social security, which had originated among German socialists. And you had the National Industrial Recovery Act, which was straight out of Benito Mussolini fascist book out of Italy.
So, I would like to think that it can be done before that happens and that's just the power of ideas. Throughout history, there's been times when people respond to principles and ideals. This is how we get things like freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and freedom of the press, the right to keep and bear arms, due process of law, the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. It's because people at that time in history, rose above their daily problems in life and said, "Let's go for this grand shift in how a society operates by enshrining these basic liberties into law." And I think that if we happen to hit that kind of period, and I think the time is right, I think people are looking at the Republicans and just shaking their heads. They're looking at the Democrats and shaking their head.
I think we Libertarians have a tremendous opportunity right now to lift people's vision and say, "Let's go for something big." Let's lead the world out of this statist mirage, out of the socialism, the interventionism, the imperialism, the central planning and lead the world to the highest reaches of freedom that mankind's ever seen. Now that takes vision, it takes foresight, it takes wisdom. But I think the American people might be ready for something like that.
Mike Gleason: Yeah, certainly takes education as well. And I'm glad there's people out there like yourself that are trying to move forward that cause and get more people educated. Because that is what it takes. Now, the gold standard has made some rounds in the news again after Judy Shelton’s Fed confirmation hearing. Would you support Dr. Shelton's confirmation, Jacob?
Jacob Hornberger: Well, it's not really so much supporting her. I don't get involved in that because to me, getting better people to run this system is not the solution. You could staff the Fed with nothing but Austrian economics Libertarian professors and it wouldn't make any difference because nobody is able to manage this system. We already see what the Fed's doing in response to this coronavirus. I mean, what are they doing? Lowering interest rates. I mean, they are just so weird. What are they saying? "Oh, we're going to stimulate the economy." Well, we've gone through this bubble bursting syndrome before.
They inflate the bubble with these artificially low interest rates. They encourage businesses to go out and invest in new production because people are buying things now because of these artificial interest rates, and then all of a sudden the bubble bursts like it did in 2008 and you have all these people going broke and bankrupt and all because of Fed manipulation. So, I prefer to think in terms not so much in how do we get better people in the Fed, whether it's Judy Shelton or anybody else. How do we get a better monetary system? And that necessarily means getting rid of the Fed rather than getting better people into the Fed.
Mike Gleason: Yeah, well put. Couldn't agree more on that. Well, as we begin to wrap up here, Jacob, tell us a little bit about how the Libertarian party selects its nominee for the November general election. Obviously, we had Super Tuesday this week. The libertarian party had a few primaries this past Tuesday. Talk about the process there and how your party goes about selecting a nominee for a November.
Jacob Hornberger: Yeah, it's really totally different from the Democrats and Republicans. Our nominee is selected 100% by the delegates at the National Nominating Convention, which will be held in Austin, Texas in the latter part of May. Now, how are those delegates selected? Well, each state Libertarian party has a convention, a state convention, where they elect the delegates to the national convention. And I've been to around 10 or so state conventions this year already. And in every state convention, there have been more people running for delegate slots than slots available, which is phenomenal.
I don't know if that's ever happened before, but it shows the excitement in this party. And I can feel the electricity when I go into these state conventions and participate with speeches or debates and so forth. Now, at the same time, the Libertarian party has been very successful in various states, which has earned them the right of being called major party status. And that entitles them to participate in the primary and caucus system of many states.
So yesterday, we were on the primary ballot in Massachusetts, California and North Carolina. And next week we're going to be on the Missouri ballot or I'm going to be on the Missouri ballot. I'm the only LP candidate that qualified for that. And then we had caucuses in Iowa and Minnesota, but none of those are binding on the delegates. They just ways to say, "Hey, look, I could win these things. I can campaign. Make me your nominee because this is what I can do." And so there's what in classic political parties are called beauty contests. They don't bind the delegates, but they give some guidance to the delegates that end up at the national convention as to who they want to select to be their nominee.
Mike Gleason: Yeah, we'll be following it closely for sure. Just one last question before we go. You mentioned Ron Paul obviously being one of your heroes or people you've looked up to. Any others throughout history that you've taken lots of guidance from or had great respect for?
Jacob Hornberger: Yeah. The man that really changed the course of my life was a man named Leonard E. Read who was the person who founded the Foundation for Economic Education and he published some books in the 50s, or the foundation did, which I discovered in the late 70s and that's what changed the course of my life. I later wrote an essay for The Freeman, which is published by FEE as it’s called FEE called Leonard Read Changed My Life. And then there's Ludwig von Mises who I consider, I think most Libertarians consider the greatest economist who has ever lived. He's played a major role in my intellectual development.
Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead were major books for me when I was first discovering libertarianism. And then there's Hayek and Milton Friedman and lots of others... Frédéric Bastiat, Henry Hazlitt. These are not common names in America. I'd like to make them common names if I am courted the honor of winning this nomination, because I think every American should know about Frédéric Bastiat and his little book The Law, and Henry Hazlitt's famous book in libertarian circles called Economics in One Lesson. Any college student who reads Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson will know more economics than most of the colleges professors in the country. So I think those are the majors that have had a big role in my life.
Mike Gleason: Well, great stuff. Thanks Jacob, take care and we certainly appreciate you coming on and wish you good luck on the upcoming election. And more importantly, we wish you success in educating the people out there about the importance of liberty and a free society, the harm of government overreach and overregulation and we wish you all the best there. We really appreciate the time. And before we let you go, please tell people how they can learn more about your campaign or anything else they should know.
Jacob Hornberger: Yeah. Well, to learn more about libertarianism, come to my foundation website, which again does not endorse my candidacy, but that's at fff.org. For people just Google the Future of Freedom Foundation. And then if they want to learn more about my campaign and hopefully maybe support me with a donation, come to JacobForLiberty.com you can read off my blog that I update regularly.
I have upcoming appearances where people can keep track, the media announcements that are mentioning me and interviews that I do and so those two sites, fff.org and JacobForLiberty.com. And thank you very much, Mike. I'm really appreciative for this nice interview. A big honor for me.
Mike Gleason: Well, absolutely. It's an honor for us as well and thank you again. Take care. Hope we can speak to you again down the road and a good luck on the campaign trail and have a great weekend, Jacob.
Jacob Hornberger: Thank you. You too Mike. Thank you. Bye-bye.
Mike Gleason: Well, that will do it for this week. Thanks again to Jacob Hornberger, founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation, found at fff.org and now a candidate for president in 2020. And you can find all the information about his noble efforts there along with ways you can support his candidacy at JacobForLiberty.com.
Well, be sure to check back here next Friday for our next Weekly Market Wrap Podcast. Until then, this has been Mike Gleason with Money Metals Exchange. Thanks for listening and have a great weekend, everybody.