828cloud

Data, Info and News of Life and Economy

Daily Archives: July 10, 2022

Charts: China Foreign Exchange Reserves Declined in June 2022

The lowest since March 2020

Source : Trading Economics

Chart: U.S. Housing Affordability At Lowest Level Since 1996

Rent/Income Ratio vs. Mortgage/Income Ratio

Source : Goldman Sachs

Humour: News in Cartoons

Welcome to 1984

Jim Rickards wrote . . . . . . . . .

I’ve been addressing the war on cash lately, and for good reason. While everyone’s attention is focused on the war in Ukraine, inflation and the Supreme Court, government plans to eliminate cash are accelerating.

For example, central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are coming even faster than many anticipated. The digital yuan is already here; it was introduced in China last February during the Winter Olympics.

Visitors to the Olympics were required to pay for meals, hotels, transportation, etc., using QR codes on their mobile phones that linked to digital yuan accounts. Nine other countries have already launched CBDCs. Europe is not far behind and is testing the digital euro under the auspices of the European Central Bank.

The U.S. was lagging, but is catching up fast.

The Federal Reserve was studying a possible Fed CBDC at a research facility at MIT. Now the idea has moved from the research stage to preliminary development.

Fed Chair Jay Powell said, “A U.S. CBDC could… potentially help maintain the dollar’s international standing.”

But this has little to do with technology or monetary policy and everything to do with herding you into digital cattle chutes where you can be slaughtered with account freezes, seizures, etc.

NOT Crypto

First off, CBDCs are not cryptocurrencies. The CBDCs are digital in form, are recorded on a ledger (maintained by a central bank or finance ministry and the message traffic is encrypted. Still, the resemblance to cryptos ends there.

The CBDC ledgers do not use blockchain, and CBDCs definitely do not embrace the decentralized issuance model hailed by the crypto crowd. CBDCs will be highly centralized and tightly controlled by central banks.

The CBDC ledger can be maintained in encrypted form by the central bank itself without the need for bank accounts or money market funds. Payments can be done with an iPhone or other device, with no need for credit cards or costly wire transfers.

Who needs bank accounts, checks, account statements, deposit slips and the other clunky features of a banking relationship when you can go completely digital with the Fed?

CBDCs are a technological advance, but they do not replace existing reserve currencies.

Not a New Currency

It’s important to understand that a CBDC is not a new currency. It’s just a new payment channel. A digital dollar is still a dollar. A digital euro is still a euro. It’s just that the currency never exists in physical form. It is always digital, and ownership is recorded on a ledger maintained by the central bank.

You will have an account showing how many digital dollars you own. They are transferred by an app on a smartphone or a desktop computer.

Of course, in many ways, dollar transactions are already digital. Most people receive money by wire transfer, go shopping with credit cards and pay bills online. All of those transactions are digital and encrypted. The difference with CBDCs is that you don’t need banks or credit card companies or even PayPal.

Again, everything can be done through the Fed with a single account for payment and receipt. CBDCs could disintermediate the entire banking and credit card sectors to a great extent.

Welcome to 1984

The other big difference is that it will give the government control of your money and the ability to put you under constant surveillance. In a world of CBDCs, the government will know every purchase you make, every transaction you conduct and even your physical whereabouts at the point of purchase.

It’s a short step from there to negative interest rates, account freezes, tax withholding from your account and even putting you under FBI investigation if you vote for the wrong candidate or give donations to the wrong political party.

If that sounds like a stretch, it’s not.

China is already using its CBDC to deny travel and educational opportunities to political dissidents. Canada seized the bank accounts and crypto accounts of nonviolent trucker protesters last winter.

These kinds of “social credit scores” and political suppression will be even easier to conduct when CBDCs are completely rolled out.

How does this relate to what is sometimes called the Great Reset? This would be the movement toward a single global reserve currency.

CBDCs and the Great Reset

Displacing the dollar would involve a meeting and agreement similar to the original Bretton Woods agreement of 1944. The agreement could take many forms. Still, the process would conform to what many call the Great Reset.

Still, things don’t happen that quickly in elite circles. Even Bretton Woods took over two years to design and another five years to implement even under the duress of World War II. The transition from sterling to the U.S. dollar as the leading reserve currency took 30 years from 1914 to 1944.

As they say, it’s complicated. Still, there are some huge changes that could emerge from the Great Reset.

For example, a new global currency regime would be an opportunity to devalue all major currencies in order to steal wealth from savers.

All currencies cannot devalue against all other currencies at the same time; that’s a mathematical impossibility. Yet all currencies could devalue simultaneously against gold. This could easily drive gold prices to $5,000 per ounce or much higher to increase the “inflation tax” (I’m sure you agree that you’re paying more than enough already!).

The Surveillance State on Steroids

Another change would be that CBDCs make it much easier to impose negative interest rates, confiscations and account freezes on some or all account holders.

This can be used for simple policy purposes or as a tool of the total surveillance state. Surveillance of incorrect behavior as defined by the Communist Party is the real driver of the digital yuan more than any aspirations to a yuan reserve currency role.

All of these shifts are now underway. The U.S. won’t adopt its own CBDC overnight, but it’s coming sooner or later.

The endgame for CBDCs would closely resemble George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. It would be a world of negative interest rates, forced tax collection, government confiscation, account freezes and constant surveillance.

You might not be able to fight back easily in the world of CBDCs, but there is one nondigital, nonhackable, nontraceable form of money you can still use.

It’s called gold.


Source : Daily Reckoning

Infographic: Interest Rate Hikes vs. Inflation Rate, by Country

See large image . . . . . .

Source : Visual Capitalist

Aching Backs in Seniors: An Expert’s Guide to Pain Meds

Amy Norton wrote . . . . . . . . .

Back and neck pain are often an unfortunate part of aging, but older adults can safely find relief with various medications, a new research review concludes.

The review of 138 clinical trials breaks down the evidence on medication options for seniors with “spine-related” pain — essentially any aches along the neck and back.

An overarching point is, there is no one-size-fits-all remedy, according to senior researcher Dr. Michael Perloff, a neurologist at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center.

Medication choices, he said, depend partly on the underlying cause of the pain. But particularly with older adults, any co-existing health conditions and medications they are taking are also a factor.

“You do have to be careful about medication interactions and side effects,” Perloff said.

At the same time, those issues should not bar older adults from getting pain relief, he stressed.

“If you’re an older person and you’ve been told there are no options for managing your pain, you may need to see a pain specialist,” Perloff noted.

“There’s a lot we can do with the weapons of medication, injections, physical therapy and, in some cases, surgery,” he added.

With younger adults, back and neck aches are often muscle-related. While that can be true for older adults, too, Perloff said, they often have pain related to degenerative changes in the spine — such as wear-and-tear breakdown in the discs or cartilage cushioning the spinal joints.

For that type of pain, common painkillers, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen, can help, the review found.

NSAIDs, like ibuprofen and naproxen (Motrin, Aleve), are more effective than acetaminophen (Tylenol), Perloff said. But acetaminophen may be the safer choice for some seniors, including those who are at increased risk of stomach bleeding, or who have kidney or heart disease.

With NSAIDs, limited use is key. Perloff’s team recommends that older people take them for two or three days during a pain flare-up, but avoid using them for weeks at a time.

“With chronic pain, it’s often up and down,” Perloff noted. “So your treatment needs are different at different times.”

In some cases, pain stems from a pinched nerve. One example is sciatica, where the sciatic nerve is compressed — often by a disc in the lower spine that slips out of place. That can cause pain that radiates from the lower back down the back of the leg.

NSAIDs can help ease sciatica, the review found. But another option, Perloff said, is medication specific to nerve pain — namely, gabapentin and pregabalin.

Those medications come with their own potential side effects, including dizziness and balance problems. So, the review found, any benefits have to be weighed against those risks, especially for older people who are taking other medications that can cause dizziness and falls, such as benzodiazepines.

Among the other findings:

  • Certain muscle relaxants, like carisoprodol and chlorzoxazone, carry a risk of sedation and falls. But some others, including tizanidine and baclofen, can safely ease older adults’ neck or back pain, in low doses.
  • For chronic low back pain, some antidepressants — especially duloxetine (Cymbalta) — have proven helpful in trials. They may be good choices, Perloff said, when an older adult has both pain and depression symptoms.
  • When oral drugs fail, injections of painkillers or anti-inflammatory corticosteroids may help with chronic pain.

The review, published recently in the journal Drugs & Aging, focused on medications. But Perloff said that when his patients have chronic pain — generally three months or more — he’s probably also prescribing physical therapy.

“Physical therapy can be valuable for optimizing and maintaining function,” agreed Dr. Robert Griffin, an anesthesiologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City who specializes in evaluating and treating back and neck issues.

Griffin, who reviewed the findings, also pointed to some other options. They include trigger point injections, where medication is injected into painful “knots” in the muscles; radiofrequency ablation, where radio-wave heat is applied to specific nerve tissue, to decrease pain signals from that area; and acupuncture and meditation, which may help ease symptoms or provide help in coping with them.

As for when people should see a health care provider for a painful back or neck, Griffin said “anytime they feel help is needed.”

He stressed, though, that people should seek medical care right away if they have additional symptoms that could indicate a serious health condition. Those include limb weakness, changes in bladder or bowel function, fever or unexplained weight loss.


Source: HealthDay

Chart: China’s Rise to Economic Superpower

Source : Statista