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Keith Weiner

Keith Weiner

Keith Weiner is president of the Gold Standard Institute USA in Phoenix, Arizona, and CEO of the precious metals fund manager Monetary Metals. He created DiamondWare, a technology company that he sold to Nortel Networks in 2008. He writes about money, credit and gold. In March 2015 he moved his column from Forbes to

Articles by Keith Weiner

The Elephant in the Gold Room, Report 16 June

3 days ago

We will start this off with a pet peeve. Too often, one is reading something about gold. It starts off well enough, discussing problems with the dollar or the bond market or a real estate bubble… and them bam! Buy gold because the dollar is gonna be worthless! That number again is 1-800-BUY-GOLD or we have another 1-800-GOT-GOLD in case the lines on the first number are busy!
Whether the writer is a bullion dealer, or whether just some HODLer (a term from bitcoin—it means Holding On For Dear Life) hoping for a higher price, and an opportunity to unload some gold to make profit$, it matters not. The “buy gold” message undermines the economic point. Perhaps the economics (or pseudo-economics) point bolsters the

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Irredeemable Currency Is a Roach Motel, Report 9 June

10 days ago

In what has become a four-part series, we are looking at the monetary science of China’s potential strategy to nuke the Treasury bond market. In Part I, we gave a list of reasons why selling dollars would hurt China. In Part II we showed that interest rates, being that the dollar is irredeemable, are not subject to bond vigilantes. In Part III, we took on the Quantity Theory of Money head-on, and showed the counterintuitive property that, the more dollars are out there, the greater the demand.
Now in this essay, we will tie this all together.
You could say it in one sentence: the regime of irredeemable currency has unintended consequences. We often say that we do not prefer the term “unintended consequences” because

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Dollar Supply Creates Dollar Demand, Report 2 June

17 days ago

We have been discussing the impossibility of China nuking the Treasury bond market. We covered a list of challenges China would face. Then last week we showed that there cannot be such a thing as a bond vigilante in an irredeemable currency. Now we want to explore a different path to the same conclusion that China cannot nuke the Treasury bond market.
To review something we have said many times, the dollar is borrowed. It is not printed. Every time fresh new dollars are created, there is a borrower. There is never a giftee. The borrower has the dollar as an asset—but he also has a matching liability.
Once we understand that the balance sheet has assets and liabilities, it is senseless to talk about the increase in

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The Crime of ‘33, Report 27 May

23 days ago

Last week, we wrote about the impossibility of China nuking the Treasury bond market. Really, this is not about China but mostly about the nature of the dollar and the structure of the monetary system. We showed that there are a whole host of problems with the idea of selling a trillion dollars of Treasurys:
Yuan holders are selling yuan to buy dollars, PBOC can’t squander its dollar reserves
If it doesn’t buy another currency, it merely tightens monetary conditions in China
If it does, it will drive up the price of whatever it buys, but crash it when it sells later
It is still supporting the dollar, as the euro is (like the yuan) a dollar-derivative
It would lose money by holding the positon, due to the interest

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China’s Nuclear Option to Sell US Treasurys, Report 19 May

May 21, 2019

There is a drumbeat pounding on a monetary issue, which is now rising into a crescendo. The issue is: China might sell its holdings of Treasury bonds—well over $1 trillion—and crash the Treasury bond market. Since the interest rate is inverse to the bond price, a crash of the price would be a skyrocket of the rate. The US government would face spiraling costs of servicing its debt, and quickly collapse into bankruptcy. America could follow the path taken by Venezuela or Zimbabwe.
How serious is this threat?
The Independent Institute wrote (replete with a graphic purportedly showing a “nuclear bomb”) about it:
What would happen if the Chinese government were to weaponize its holdings of U.S. Treasury bonds by suddenly

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The Monetary Cause of Lower Prices, Report 12 May

May 14, 2019

We have deviated, these past several weeks, from matters monetary. We have written a lot about a nonmonetary driver of higher prices—mandatory useless ingredients. The government forces businesses to put ingredients into their products that consumers don’t know about, and don’t want. These useless ingredients, such as ADA-compliant bathrooms and supply chain tracking, add a lot to the price of every good. Of course higher prices are reflected in the Consumer Price Index. And people say it is inflation.
We have also discussed a nonmonetary driver of lower prices. Every productive business is constantly working to remove useless ingredients too. They are not allowed to remove government-mandated useless ingredients,

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Nonmonetary Cause of Lower Prices, Report 5 May

May 7, 2019

Over the past several weeks, we have debunked the idea that purchasing power—i.e. what a dollar can buy—is intrinsic to the currency itself. We have discussed a large non-monetary force that drives up prices. Governments at every level force producers to add useless ingredients, via regulation, taxation, labor law, environmentalism, etc. These are ingredients that the consumer does not value, and often does not even know are included in the production process. However, these useless ingredients can get quite expensive, especially in industries that are heavily regulated such as health care.
What Force Pushes Prices Down?
There is another non-monetary force, and this one is pushing prices down. Producers are

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Money Metals Exchange Lease #1 (silver)

May 6, 2019

Monetary Metals leased silver to Money Metals Exchange, to support the growth of its gold and silver bullion  business. The metal is held in the form of inventory in its vault.
For more information see Monetary Metals’ press release.
Metal: Silver
Commencement Date: May 1, 2019
Term: 1 year
Lease Rate: 2.2% net to investors

Silver Offers for Money Metals Exchange – Click to enlarge

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Quantum Metal Lease #1 (gold)
West Virginia Joins Growing Sound Money Movement – Six Other States Now Weighing Their Own Bills to End Taxes on Gold & Silver
Monetary Metals Leases Gold to Quantum

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Monetary Metals Leases Silver to Money Metals Exchange

May 3, 2019

Scottsdale, Ariz, May 3, 2019—Monetary Metals® announces that it has leased silver to Money Metals Exchange® to support the growth of its business of selling gold and silver at retail and wholesale. Investors earn 2.2% on their silver, which is held in Money Metals’ vault in the form of silver products.
Monetary Metals has a disruptive model, leasing gold and silver from investors who own it and providing it to businesses who need it, typically for inventory or work-in-progress.
Investors benefit, because they earn a return rather than pay storage costs on their metal. Gold- and silver-using businesses benefit, as the lease is their lowest-cost capital. And the lease is more user-friendly, with no need to be hedged

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The Spreads Blow Out, Update 1 May

May 2, 2019

The bid-ask spread of both (spot) gold and silver has blown out. Both, on March 1.

In gold, the spread had been humming along around 13 cents—gold is the most marketable commodity, and this is the proof, a bid-ask spread around 1bps—until… *BAM!* It explodes to around 35 cents, or two and half times as wide. On the same day, silver went from half a cent to 1.5 cents, or about triple.
We zoomed out far enough—it does not interfere with chart readability in the slightest—to see the last time the silver spread changed radically. That was Nov 13, 2017, and the spread had been three times higher again (i.e. over 4 cents). Nothing happened to the price at that time, though a few weeks later the price began dropping and

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Is Keith Weiner an Iconoclast? Report 28 Apr

April 30, 2019

We have a postscript to our ongoing discussion of inflation. A reader pointed out that Levis 501 jeans are $39.19 on Amazon (in Keith’s size—Amazon advertises prices as low as $16.31, which we assume is for either a very small size that uses less fabric, or an odd size that isn’t selling). Think of the enormity of this. The jeans were $50 in 1983. After 36 years of relentless inflation (or hot air about inflation), the price is down to $39.31. Down 21.4%.
Of course, we just employed a slight sleight of hand. After introducing the concept of useless ingredients, we now showed a lower price on Amazon. Amazon has cut out some ingredients which are useless to many consumers: (1) displaying products on a shelf, (2) in a

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The Two Faces of Inflation, Report 22 Apr

April 23, 2019

We have a postscript to last week’s article. We said that rising prices today are not due to the dollar going down. It’s not that the dollar buys less. It’s that producers are forced to include more and more ingredients, which are not only useless to the consumer. But even invisible to the consumer. For example, dairy producers must provide ADA-compliant bathrooms to their employees. The producer may give you less milk for your dollar, but now they’re giving you ADA-bathroom’ed-employees. You may not value it, but it’s in the milk.
On Twitter, one guy defended the Quantity Theory of Money this way: inflation (i.e. monetary debasement) is offset by going to China, where they don’t have an Environmental Protection

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New Inflation Indicator, Report 14 Apr

April 16, 2019

Last week, we wrote that regulations, taxes, environmental compliance, and fear of lawsuits forces companies to put useless ingredients into their products. We said:
“For example, milk comes from the ingredients of: land, cows, ranch labor, dairy labor, dairy capital equipment, distribution labor, distribution capital, and consumable containers.”
There are eight necessary ingredients, without which milk cannot be produced.
But, today, the welfare, regulatory, and litigation state forces dairy producers to add numerous other ingredients such as paying for food stamps for unemployable people in the inner cities hundreds of miles away from the dairy farm, tracking tags, giant wheelchair accessible bathrooms, etc. We

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Debt and Profit in Russell 2000 Firms

April 12, 2019

This week, the Supply and Demand Report featured a graph of debt vs profitability in the Russell 2000. Here’s the graph again:
This graph shows a theme that we, and practically no one else(!) have been discussing for years. It is the diminishing marginal utility of debt. In this case, more and more debt is required to add what looks like less and less profit (we don’t have the raw data, only the graphic).
We do not view the coming end of this incredible false boom in biblical terms, nor in a malevolent sense that man gets his comeuppance for daring to build something. We don’t see it as inevitable that what goes up must come down. And we don’t believe that all good things come to ruin in the end.
We see it as math’s

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What Causes Loss of Purchasing Power, Report 7 Apr

April 9, 2019

We have written much about the notion of inflation. We don’t want to rehash our many previous points, but to look at the idea of purchasing power from a new angle. Purchasing power is assumed to be intrinsic to the currency. We have said that the problem with the word inflation is that it treats two different phenomena as if they are the same. One is the presumed effect of rising quantity of dollars. The other is the effect of rising regulatory and tax burdens.
Let’s use milk as an example. Suppose milk was $1 per gallon. Many would say that a dollar is worth one gallon of milk. Or, alternatively, a dollar’s purchasing power is one gallon of milk. Suppose that later, the price of milk goes up to $2. Then, people say

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Will Basel III Send Gold to the Moon, Report 2 Apr

April 2, 2019

A number of commentators have predicted that the rules of the Basel III bank regulations will cause gold to skyrocket (no, this article is not about our view that gold does not go up, that it’s the dollar going down, that the lighthouse does not go up, it’s the sinking ship going down in the storm).
Will it? It would be easy to say—as with all of their other predictions of gold to infinity and beyond—“wait and see.” But where’s the fun in that? We’d rather look into the nature of the claim, how banks operate, and what the regulation actually says.
So who wants to understand a bank balance sheet, and regulators’ view of bank risk? In other words, who wants to understand whether gold will skyrocket?
If you’re still

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On Board Keynes Express to Ruin, Report 24 Mar

March 26, 2019

Last week, I ranted about the problem with our monetary system and trajectory: falling interest rates is Keynes’ evil genius plan to destroy civilization. This week, I continue the theme—if in a more measured tone—addressing the ideas predominant among the groups who are most likely to fight against Keynes’ destructionism. They are: the capitalists, the gold bugs, and the otherwise-free-marketers. I do not write this to attack any particular people, nor indeed as an attack at all. My purpose comes from my belief that to fix a problem, one must understand the nature of the problem.
I highlight these groups because, if there is ever to be a real movement to reform our monetary system, it would come from one of these

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Keynes Was a Vicious Bastard, Report 17 Mar

March 18, 2019

My goal is to make you mad. Not at me (though I expect to ruffle a few feathers with this one). At the evil being wrought in the name of fighting inflation and maximizing employment. And at the aggressive indifference to this evil, exhibited by the capitalists, the gold bugs, and the otherwise-free-marketers.
So, today I am going to do something I have never done. I am going to rant! I am even going to use vulgar language (which is totally justified).
In researching several recent articles, I re-read old passages from Keynes. Consider these snippets:
“For a little reflection will show what enormous social changes would result from a gradual disappearance of a rate of return on accumulated wealth.”
“In short, the

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The Duality of Money, Report 10 Mar

March 11, 2019

This is a pair of photographs taken by Keith Weiner, for a high school project. It seemed a fitting picture for the dual nature of money, the dual nature of wood both as logs to be consumed and dimensional lumber to be used to construct buildings.
Last week, in Is Capital Creation Beating Capital Consumption, we asked an important question which is not asked nearly often enough. Perhaps that’s because few even acknowledge that capital is being consumed, and fewer tie it to the falling interest rate (perhaps that is because the fact of the falling interest rate is, itself, controversial). At any rate, we showed a graph of Marginal Productivity of Debt.
We said that this shows that consumption of capital is winning the

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Is Capital Creation Beating Capital Consumption? Report 3 Mar

March 4, 2019

We have written numerous articles about capital consumption. Our monetary system has a falling interest rate, which causes both capital churn and conversion of one party’s wealth into another’s income. It also has too-low interest, which encourages borrowing to consume (which, as everyone knows, adds to Gross Domestic Product—GDP).
What Is Capital
At the same time, of course entrepreneurs are creating new capital. Keith wrote an article for Forbes, showing the incredible drop in wages from 1965 to 2011. There was not a revolution, because prices of goods such as milk dropped at nearly the same rate. The real price of milk dropped as much as it did, because of increased efficiency in production. The word for that

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Is Lending the Root of All Evil? Report 24 Feb

February 25, 2019

Ayn Rand famously defended money. In Atlas Shrugged, Francisco D’Anconia says:
“So you think that money is the root of all evil? . . . Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?”
There needs to be a similar defense of the loan.
The Attack On the Loan
As money has been

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Central Planning Is More than Just Friction, Report 17 February

February 19, 2019

It is easy to think of government interference into the economy like a kind of friction. If producers and traders were fully free, then they could improve our quality of life—with new technologies, better products, and lower prices—at a rate of X. But the more that the government does, the more it burdens them. So instead of X rate of progress, we get the same end result but 10% slower or 20% slower.
Some would go so far as to say, “The free market finds ways to work even through government restrictions, taxes, and regulations.” We won’t address cardboard straws emerging where plastic straws are banned. Or gangs selling illegal drugs on the black market, when they are prohibited by law.
As usual, we want to talk

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Quantum Metal Lease #1 (gold)

February 13, 2019

Monetary Metals leased gold to Quantum Metal, to support the growth of its gold distribution business through retail bank branches. The metal is held in the form of retail Perth Mint bars.
For more information see Monetary Metals’ press release.
Metal: Gold
Commencement Date: January 31, 2019
Term: 1 year
Lease Rate: 4.5% net to investors

Offers for Quantum Metal – Click to enlarge

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What They Don’t Want You to Know about Prices, Report 10 Feb

February 11, 2019

Last week, in part I of this essay, we discussed why a central planner cannot know the right interest rate. Central planner’s macroeconomic aggregate measures like GDP are blind to the problem of capital consumption, including especially capital consumption caused by the central plan itself. GDP has an intrinsic bias towards consumption, and makes no distinction between consumption of the yield on capital, and consumption of the capital per se. Between selling the golden egg, and cooking the goose that lays golden eggs.
One could quibble with this and say that, well, really, the central planners should use a different metric. This is not satisfying. It demands the retort, “if there is a better metric than GDP, then

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Monetary Metals Leases Gold to Quantum Metal

February 8, 2019

Malaysia’s leading gold distributor saves money with a Monetary Metals lease
Scottsdale, Ariz, February 8, 2019—Monetary Metals® announces that it has leased gold to Quantum Metal, to support the growth of its business of selling gold through retail banks. Investors earn 4.5% on their gold, which is held as Perth Mint minted gold bars in inventory.
Monetary Metals has a disruptive model, leasing gold from investors who own it and subleasing it to businesses who need it, typically for inventory or work-in-progress. Gold owners benefit, because they earn a return rather than pay storage costs. Gold-using businesses benefit, as the lease is the lowest-cost money in their capital structure. And the lease is more

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Who Knows the Right Interest Rate, Report 3 Feb 2019

February 4, 2019

On January 6, we wrote the Surest Way to Overthrow Capitalism. We said:
“In a future article, we will expand on why these two statements are true principles: (1) there is no way a central planner could set the right rate, even if he knew and (2) only a free market can know the right rate.”
Today’s article is part I that promised article.
Let’s consider how to know the right rate, first. It should not be controversial to say that if the government sets a price cap, say on a loaf of bread, that this harms bakers. So the bakers will seek every possible way out of it. First, they may try shrinking the loaf. But, gotcha! The government regulator anticipated that, and there is a heap of rules dictating the minimum size of

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Modern Monetary Theory: A Cargo Cult, Report 20 Jan 2019

January 28, 2019

Newly elected Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently said that Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) absolutely needed to be “a larger part of our conversation.” Her comment shines a spotlight on MMT. So what is it? According to Wikipedia, it is:
“a macroeconomic theory that describes the currency as a public monopoly and unemployment as the evidence that a currency monopolist is restricting the supply of the financial assets needed to pay taxes and satisfy savings desires.”
It is uncontroversial to say that the Federal Reserve has a monopoly on the dollar. So let’s look at the second proposition. Unemployment, MMT holds, is evidence that the supply of dollars is restricted.
In other words, more money causes more

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The Dollar Works Just Fine, Report 20 Jan 2019

January 23, 2019

Last week, we joked that we don’t challenge beliefs. Here’s one that we want to challenge today: the dollar doesn’t work as a currency, because it’s losing value. Even the dollar’s proponents, admit it loses value. The Fed itself states that its mandate is price stability—which it admits means relentless two percent annual debasement (Orwell would be proud). So there is no question that the dollar loses value. The only mainstream debate is whether this is good or bad.
Our focus today is whether this is why the dollar doesn’t work, why it’s failing.
Prices have been rising for 100 years. There is no reason why they couldn’t go on rising for another 100. Or 1000. The inflation argument, as we call it, does not reach

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Rising Interest and Prices, Report 13 Jan 2019

January 14, 2019

For years, people blamed the global financial crisis on greed. Doesn’t this make you want to scream out, “what, were people not greedy in 2007 or 1997??” Greed utterly fails to explain the phenomenon. It merely serves to reinforce a previously-held belief. Far be it from us to challenge previously-held beliefs (OK, OK, we may engage in some sacred-ox-goring from time to time), but this is not a scientific approach to explaining observed events. To properly understand a crisis, you have to look for the root cause. And if the crisis did not occur previously, your theory needs to explain why not then, and why only now.
Suppose an old company, XYZ, goes out of business. “Times change,” people say, to explain an economic

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Surest Way to Overthrow Capitalism, Report 6 Jan 2019

January 7, 2019

One of the most important problems in economics is: How do we know if an enterprise is creating or destroying wealth? The line between the two is objective, black and white. It should be clear that if business managers can’t tell the difference between a wealth-creating or wealth-destroying activity, then our whole society will be miserably poor.
Any manager will tell you that it’s easy. Just look at the profit and loss statement. Profit is so powerful an incentive for managers, that one could never persuade them to operate based on any other indicator. And it would work—if economists had done their jobs properly.
But have they?
As we have argued many times, economists have given their apologia for the regime of

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