Fed to End Inflation Fight Before Job is Done

Go way back, and further still.

To Florence, Italy.  In 1397.  To the establishment of the Medici Bank by Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici.

There you will find the early framework for interlinking banking, business, and politics to consolidate wealth and power.

The Medici family, during a stretch of the 15th century, was estimated to be the wealthiest family in Europe.  The family owned vast amounts of land, gold, and art.  And it used its wealth to acquire political power, first in Florence, and then extending out into Italy and Europe.

Strategic marriages also elevated the Medici family’s influence.  Catherine de Medici, for example, became the queen of France through her marriage to Henry II.

Not long after Medici Bank, the first real precursor to a modern-day central bank was formed.  In 1407, the Banco di San Giorgio was founded.  This bank served as the financial institution of the Republic of Genoa.  Its initial purpose was to bailout the government. Continue reading

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Red, White, and Blue

Economic Prism Insights: Articles on Gold, Stocks, Inflation, and FOMC[Editor’s Note: This edition of the Economic Prism has been published in years past to coincide with the Independence Day holiday.  The themes explored within grow more relevant with each passing year.  We are republishing it with several light updates.  Enjoy!]

Time and Place

The days are long and hot in the Northern Hemisphere when real American patriots spit upon their hands and hoist the red, white, and blue.  On July 4th, the free and brave, with duty and self-sacrifice, begrudgingly accept federal holiday pay to stand tall upon their own two feet.  Rugged individualism and uncompromising independence are essential to their character.

With purpose and intent, they assemble as merry mobs along the shoreline to celebrate American Independence.  Freedom lovers – descendants of Andrew Jackson – gather to eat hotdogs and pitch horseshoes while downing tipples of corn syrup and fermented grain.  When the sun slips beyond the western horizon and the stars twinkle bright, they hoot and holler at the brilliance of fireworks and sparkling pyrotechnics.

These festivities certify that even in an era of big government there remains a time and place to revel in the virtues of representative self-rule.  All are welcome, of course, so long as their vehicles are registered, they’ve paid their income taxes, and have proper documentation… including up to date vaccination records. Continue reading

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Crisis in the Making

Did you know that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) keeps a secret list of problem banks?

These are banks that are at risk of failing financially.

The list is maintained confidential.  So, it is impossible to know for certain if your bank is on it.  This is to keep trusting customers in the dark.  The last thing the FDIC wants is people pulling their deposits and triggering bank runs.

The idea is that by keeping the list confidential the FDIC can discreetly help the banks get their act together.  The goal is to prevent bank failures.

To qualify as a problem bank and be added to the secret list, a bank must score a CAMELS rating of 4 or 5 by FDIC examiners.  This nifty acronym represents the various criteria of a bank’s health that are evaluated by the FDIC.  Specifically, Capital, Assets, Management, Earnings, Liquidity, and Sensitivity.

Scores range from 1 to 5.  One is the best.  Five is the worst.

On May 29, the FDIC released its Quarterly Banking Profile for the first quarter of 2024.  Of note, was the addition of 11 banks to the FDIC’s problem banks list during the quarter.  That brought the total count from 52 to 63. Continue reading

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Double Nickels on the Dime

Lost in the election year noise and the zealous pursuit of World War III is one overarching fact.  The USA is rapidly going broke.  And no one can stop it.

We know digging into the particulars of Washington’s fiscal condition is a dreary and tedious undertaking.  There are certainly more exciting and fruitful ways you can spend your time.  But if you want to better understand why everything is broken, please indulge with us here.

So far in fiscal year 2024, from October 2023 through May 2024, the federal government has spent $4.49 trillion.  According to propaganda on the Treasury Department’s fiscal data website, this money was spent “to ensure the well-being of the people of the United States.”

How exactly all this spending ensures well-being is unclear.  Does it make your morning cup of joe taste better?  Does it enhance your health and ease your aches and pains?  Does it deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to your grocery store? Continue reading

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