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The Crisis Goes Up A Gear: Is This The Beginning Of The End For The Dollar?

The Crisis Goes Up A Gear: Is This The Beginning Of The End For The Dollar?



The Crisis Goes Up A Gear: Is This The Beginning Of The End For The Dollar? Tyler Durden Fri, 06/19/2020 - 22:50

Authored by Alasdair Macleod via,

Dollar-denominated financial markets appeared to suffer a dramatic change on or about the 23 March. This article examines the possibility that it marks the beginning of the end for the Fed’s dollar.

At this stage of an evolving economic and financial crisis, such thoughts are necessarily speculative. But an imminent banking crisis is now a near certainty, with most global systemically important banks in a weaker position than at the time of the Lehman crisis. US markets appear oblivious to this risk, though the ratings of G-SIBs in other jurisdictions do reflect specific banking risks rather than a systemic one at this stage.

A banking collapse will be a game-changer for financial markets, and we should then worry that the Fed has bound the dollar’s future to their fortunes.

The dollar could fail completely by the end of this year. Against that possibility a reset might be implemented, perhaps by reintroducing the greenback, which is not the same as the Fed’s dollar. Any reset is likely to fail unless the US Government desists from inflationary financing, which requires a radically changed mindset, even harder to imagine in a presidential election year.


The most important mistake economists and financial watchers make is to assume events and prices tomorrow are simply projections of those of today. It is the basis of all economic and financial modelling. Yet despite the hard lessons of experience economic forecasters persist with their misleading models.

Nowhere is the failure of linear projection from the past more important than in the lifeblood common to everything. While knowing that state-issued currencies change in their utility over time, almost no one expects their demise, other perhaps at some point in the far distant future. But what if this generally linear expectation is as wrong as all other forecasting models? What if the response to the current economic crisis is a more rapid depreciation of currencies? And what happens if they die altogether? And what are the consequences for the ordinary person?

This article explores these what-ifs. It examines the conditions that could lead to this outcome. History gives us a guide, not through extrapolation, but by telling us that every recorded currency collapse has occurred to fiat currencies unbacked by gold or silver. So, we know it will happen — eventually. Less understood is that the pattern is always the same: a prolonged period of falling purchasing power, followed by a sudden collapse when a currency’s users finally reject it. In terms of time the latter phase usually lasts approximately six months.

Assessing the turning point

The early morning of Monday, 23 March was a significant time, marking the top of the dollar’s trade-weighted index. At the same time, gold, silver and copper prices, having fallen in the weeks before turned sharply higher. And while oil initially followed, it was a month before it resumed its uptrend — delayed by the delivery hiatus in the futures markets which briefly drove the price negative. The S&P 500 rallied the following day, ending a near 30% decline before recovering all of it, and then some.

Something had changed. Either markets decided that economic growth, both in the US and the rest of the world was going to continue following lockdowns, and growing demand for key commodities was going to be resumed. Or, as the decline in the dollar’s TWI indicated, the purchasing power of the dollar was going to decline, and commodity prices were reflecting an accelerating downtrend for the dollar’s purchasing power.

The performance of the S&P 500 since 23 March, being unhinged from any business conditions, gives us a clue: the flood of money emanating from the Fed is fuelling stock prices. It is also fuelling prices of all other financial assets.

The turnaround in silver is a more subtle story, shown in the chart as the reciprocal of the more usual gold/silver ratio. Silver had been ignored, classed solely as an industrial metal. Gold was seen by the financial community as the only metallic hedge against uncertainty in the financial system. That changed on 23 March when the gold/silver ratio peaked at 125 on the previous business day. It is now beginning to outperform gold with the gold/silver ratio currently down to 98. We might look back and pinpoint this time as marking the beginning of a return to some moneyness in silver.

The weeks before had seen the Fed ease monetary policy. On 3 March, the Fed cut its funds rate from 1 ½% to 1%. In the accompanying announcement the Fed said that the fundamentals of the economy remained strong, but the coronavirus posed evolving risks to the economy.

On 15 March, the Fed cut its funds rate again, this time to zero, but the statement now said the coronavirus had harmed communities and disrupted economic activity in many countries, including the US. On a twelve-month basis, overall price inflation and price increases for other than food and energy were running at below 2%. The Fed announced renewed quantitative easing of at least $500bn of Treasury purchases and $200bn of mortgage-backed securities “in the coming months”.  It was “prepared to use its full range of tools to support the flow of credit to households and businesses and thereby promote its maximum employment and price stability goals.”

That day the Fed made two other announcements. The first detailed arrangements for the encouragement of credit expansion to support both consumers and businesses, including the reduction of reserve ratios for all banks to zero. The second concerned the reduction of costs in drawing down USD swap lines at the other major central banks. They were followed over the course of the week by a series of announcements facilitating the availability of credit.

Clearly, the Fed was engaging the ultimate in aggressive monetary policies. And taking a phrase from the last head of the ECB, the Fed had signalled it was prepared to do whatever it takes without limitation. But the response in the markets took a week to develop into an inflection point, a normal pause before a new direction is found.

Central bank inflation and bank credit difficulties

Since the Fed is one step removed from the non-financial economy it relies on commercial banks to implement its monetary policy. But commercial banks will only act as the Fed’s agents if they are confident the rewards are greater than the risks involved. If the current crisis is simply a matter of the coronavirus being contained before everything returns to normal, then bankers might be prepared to take a punt on an increase of bank lending.

But as time passes, the losses mount. Business and consumer defaults are increasing, and the prospects for a rapid recovery appear to be receding. Furthermore, liquidity strains in the banking system are resurfacing, despite the massive injections of QE by the Fed. After subsiding from the panicky days of last September, overnight repos are on the increase again totalling anything between $20—$100bn daily.

It has been generally forgotten that the global economy was already facing a recession before the virus lockdowns. Trade wars between America and China and bank credit expansion having run for a decade were a repeat of the conditions that led to the Wall Street Crash in 1929, when the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act following the roaring twenties was enacted, bank credit imploded, and the 1930s depression followed. Similarly, banks are now highly leveraged on their balance sheets and fear of bad debts has taken over from lending greed. The global banking cohort is increasingly desperate to reduce balance sheet commitments at the same time as the Fed and other central banks are frantic to see them expanded.

It is no wonder that the Fed’s expansion has remained bottled up in financial markets, driving financial assets even further into dangerous overvaluation territory. Consequently, without liquidity flowing more freely into the non-financial economy, bad debts can only deteriorate further, with loan risk rapidly increasing for commercial banks.

Systemic issues are being ignored

When the coronavirus first became an economic issue, there were mounting concerns over payment failures in supply chains. In the US, these payments are effectively the equivalent of gross output, which at the end of last year was running at $38 trillion. While we regard gross output as the value of products as they flow through their production stages, the payments flow the other way, back down the chains. Therefore, the $38 trillion figure can be taken as proxy for the sum of all supply chain payments in the US, to which must be added the dollar equivalents of supply chain payments outside the US for semi-manufactured imports.

Not all supply chains have been completely disrupted, so the good news is payment disruptions onshore should be significantly less than $38 trillion but could easily be half that. But there is likely to be additional disruption from abroad, a point addressed by the Fed when it increased the number of central banks (but not China) having access to its swap lines.

The risks to commercial banks are not so much from the largest corporations, likely to be bailed out if in trouble, but from lower tiers of borrowers. This affects banks with exposure to collateralised loan obligations, which are bundled loans to companies often unable to raise funds any other way — today’s version of the collateralised debt obligations that blew up the banking system in 2008. Additionally, banks have direct loans and revolving capital exposure on their balance sheets with all businesses in the $38 trillion of onshore supply chains.

The market capitalisation of the US’s G-SIBs — global systemically important banks — is less than a trillion dollars. Yet the supply chain failures that they are expected to backstop are many trillions — multiple times their market capitalisation, and even of their balance sheet equity.

It seems hardly possible that the US banking system will survive the current supply chain disruption without help. The added bad news is that the US G-SIBs are rated much more highly in stock markets than their Chinese, Japanese, Eurozone, Swiss and UK competitors, shown in Figure 1 above. It indicates that a systemic failure in dollar-denominated financial markets is not widely expected, given the generally higher market ratings afforded to US G-SIBs than for those in other jurisdictions. This probably explains why this topic is not yet a significant issue for dollar investors, though individual bank failures are more obviously an issue in other jurisdictions, where some G-SIB price to book ratios are below 30% while those of US G-SIBs average 93%.

The next significant event therefore will almost certainly be the failure of a G-SIB, if not in America, then elsewhere. Given the sheer scale of the problems in supply chains in all currencies and the accumulating bad debts attributable to lockdowns it could happen in a matter of weeks. Presumably, failing banks will be taken into public ownership with the Fed backstopping it with yet more inflationary finance. The impact on the Fed’s balance sheet, which has already grown to over $7 trillion will probably be several times its current size. But that, on its own, may not be enough to destroy the dollar.

A more direct danger is posed from monetary policies aimed at supporting financial asset values. In common with other major central banks the Fed has become reliant on a policy of ultra-low interest rates to fund its government’s deficit. At the same time, there has been a longstanding belief, particularly in America, that rising prices for financial assets, chiefly stocks, have been vital to generate a wealth effect and therefore maintain public confidence in the economic outlook. In current markets, this overvaluation policy has been taken to extremes with even teenagers reportedly buying fractionalised stocks through aggregating platforms, such as Robinhood, as if it is a just another computer game.

The dollar’s inevitable descent

In more normal times the excessive speculation in the markets seen today would encourage the Fed to inject some caution into monetary policy; but the Fed cannot backtrack for fear of triggering a catastrophic collapse. Consequently, the future of the dollar has become firmly tied to that of confidence in financial markets.

With a rapidly escalating budget deficit the US Government has a growing funding requirement, the cost of which already absorbs $400bn in interest charges annually. The Trump administration had increased its deficit to record levels in the good times when tax revenue was buoyant. And now the crisis has hit, higher interest rates will expose the US Government to a debt trap. This is a weapon the Fed cannot use.

As noted above, the next market shock is likely to be a systemic failure in the banking system. It matters not where that occurs, but when it does it makes bank depositors autarkic. Not only do they withdraw funds from banks they deem to be at risk thereby increasing their problems, but they also reduce cross-border currency exposure. The dollar is most exposed of all currencies to the latter risk: on last known figures foreigners owned about $25 trillion in securities, short-term paper and bank deposits, while Americans held roughly half that invested mainly in illiquid production facilities abroad, limited portfolio exposure to listed securities and with very little liquid foreign currency exposure.

In our headline chart we noted that the dollar’s turning point was 23 March and its subsequent downturn was part of a bigger commodity picture with gold, silver, copper and — belatedly — oil prices rising. In March, US TIC data showed that foreigners reduced their dollar exposure by $227.9bn, only offset by US residents’ net sales of foreign securities of $133.3bn.[ii] Here is the evidence that in troubled times money heads for home. Additionally, that month saw a trade deficit of $44.4bn suggesting total foreign-related dollar selling amounted to $177.7bn. This is only part of a bigger dollar picture, but it does appear foreigners were reducing their dollar exposure at the time that the dollar’s TWI peaked on 23 March.

This is important, because there are two market factors that have always led to a fiat currency collapse. The first is selling by foreigners, which appears to have commenced, and in this respect the dollar is particularly exposed. With some $25 trillion invested in US securities etc., the potential destruction to the dollar’s purchasing power from this source is significant. As global trade shrinks further, not only will foreigners be driven by the need to redeploy dollars into their currencies of origin, but they will stop funding the US Government, choosing to sell down their US Treasury holdings, a process which has already started. If the Fed is to successfully fund the growing budget deficit it must absorb foreign sales of US Treasuries as well as maintain sufficient levels of QE to fund a rapidly increasing budget deficit.

Just imagine the consequences of a systemic failure. The spell cast over financial assets will be broken. First, investors and speculators are likely to turn their attention to equities, being obviously the most overvalued financial assets at a time of intensifying crisis. Foreign investors will join, selling down their portfolio exposure, repatriating some, if not all of the proceeds by selling dollars as well. Next, with a falling dollar and a growing sensitivity to the political aspect of the crisis, market participants will reassess the US Government’s funding requirements and question the yield suppression policy of the Fed. Dollar selling seems bound to intensify.

It will then become obvious to everyone that the Fed is sacrificing the dollar in order to fund the government, keep the banking system going and to support the economy by attempting to provide the liquidity to defray supply chain failures. It will already be demonstrably failing to support financial asset prices, which has become the visible manifestation of a successful monetary policy. It would be a miracle if this failure, in Trump’s election year with a socialistic president being lined up by the Democrats, does not lead to a full-blown financial and dollar crisis.

Unless the Fed can raise interest rates to the point where it is too expensive for speculators to short the dollar (which we can rule out), it will enter the second phase of its collapse, driven by US residents realising the dollar is losing purchasing power, rather than prices rising. The purchasing power of any money depends on the balance between money and goods maintained by its users. If they collectively reject the money in favour of goods, then money’s purchasing power declines, potentially to zero. Following foreign selling, this is the second phase of the destruction of a fiat currency, which in past examples have taken roughly six months for it to become worthless.

There are three factors that could shorten this timescale even further: the replacement of cash and cheques by digital payments, modern communications leading to the rapid spread of information, and as a consequence of the development of cryptocurrencies, wider public foreknowledge of the weaknesses of unbacked fiat currencies.

The case for fiat currency survival beyond 2020

The circumstantial evidence that the dollar will collapse before the year-end is mounting. Cassandra opened her casket, the evils escaped, and only hope remains trapped.

Or so it seems. We cannot divine the future. We can only sift the evidence, be aware of common fallacies and avoid the temptation to wrongly extrapolate from yesterday into the future. While our method may be better than the macroeconomic forecasting beloved of the establishment, a predicted outcome is never reality. And it is possible the US Treasury might attempt a reset, perhaps using Treasury dollars, otherwise known as greenbacks, which were last issued in 1971. But without axing government welfare commitments to the American public, returning to balanced budgets and abandoning Fed dollar denominated debt this sort of legerdemain is unconvincing. Furthermore, the dollar’s reserve role for other currencies would have to be abandoned because of the monetary inflation involved in Triffin’s dilemma. And other currencies tied to the Fed’s dollar held in their reserves would still face their own collapse.

A reset abandoning the Fed’s dollar in favour of greenbacks is possible. But history has shown that the introduction of a replacement currency for one that has collapsed fails unless government financing by monetary expansion is demonstrably abandoned. Only time will tell whether in a presidential election year the US Government musters the clarity of purpose to implement a new lasting dollar regime.

The US Treasury says it still has over 8,000 tonnes of gold. If it is willing to drop its neo-Keynesian economics and its long-standing denial of gold’s monetary function, America could reintroduce gold convertibility for the greenbacks. This would probably be a last resort. It reneges on the Fed’s balance sheet note — which in these conditions would be its only significant asset, involves the abandonment of the welfare state and America’s longstanding geopolitical aims, and it allows China to gain potential advantage by displacing the dollar with a more convincing gold convertibility of its own.

China has deliberately cornered the gold bullion market in plans that go back to the time of Deng. Almost certainly, following the introduction of its Regulations on the Control of Gold and Silver (1983), the Chinese state accumulated sufficient gold for its strategic purposes by the time it then permitted its citizens to buy gold with the opening of the Shanghai Gold Exchange in 2002. The gold acquired by the state at that time is not declared as monetary gold and the quantity is unknown, but after examining inward investment flows net of trade deficits in the 1980s and growing export surpluses subsequently, a ten per cent allocation of foreign exchange gained into gold at contemporary prices suggests a position of some 20,000 tonnes of bullion was likely to have been accumulated by 2002.

There is no way of establishing the facts, and therefore statements about the Chinese state’s ownership of bullion are necessarily speculative. But additional evidence is compelling:

  • China is now the largest gold mining nation by far, extracting an estimated 4,200 tonnes since 2010, more than any other nation. This has been driven by government policy.

  • The state controls all Chinese gold and silver refining, taking in doré from abroad to add to Chinese stocks. At the same time, virtually no Chinese refined gold kilo bars are permitted to leave the country.

  • In 2002, when the Shanghai Gold Exchange was set up by the Peoples’ Bank of China the Chinese government encouraged its nationals to acquire physical gold, even advertising its attractions in state media. Since 2010 alone, 17,200 tonnes have been delivered into public hands by the SGE. These figures were achieved by importing bullion from the West in enormous quantities.

  • Its allies in Asia, principally members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, have also been acquiring gold. Russia has been particularly aggressive in dumping dollars for gold.

  • China now dominates physical gold markets and can be said to control them.

Given all these verifiable facts, it seems unlikely that a state which centrally plans would not have acquired for its own use substantial quantities of bullion ahead of the establishment of the SGE. America knows it and continues to resist gold having a monetary role. If America’s anti-gold policy changed, it would restrict the dollar’s circulation abroad. It would mark the end of dollar hegemony and a gold-backed yuan would become the foreign currency of choice throughout Asia, eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Conclusions and consequences

A banking crisis in the coming weeks is an increasingly likely event, given the scale of disruption to supply chains. The escalation of bankruptcies and of non-performing loans worldwide will almost certainly take the banking system down. It will be a watershed, a wake-up call to all those who expect a return to normality after the coronavirus passes.

For the moment, central banks are throwing money at the problem; money which remains stuck in financial assets, inflating them even further, and not being transmitted to the non-financial economy by banks already over-leveraged to failing borrowers.

We can be certain central bankers and government treasury departments are only now grasping the enormity of these problems, but they are still behaving as if chucking money at them is a viable solution. They will only destroy their unbacked fiat currencies, and that destruction, starting with the dollar, is already in progress. The clock is ticking from 23 March. While there may be attempts at a fiat money reset, without clear legal commitments from central banks and treasury departments to end inflationary financing, any reset will only delay currency destruction by a matter of months.

The consequences of such an outcome are always devastating, the more so because all major westernised central banks are committed to the same inflationary policies at the same time. The political consequences do not bear thinking about.

At some stage, hopefully sooner rather than later, metallic money will regain circulation. And when prices are set in gold or silver, perhaps through fully backed substitutes, the stability they bring will end the trappings of fiat currencies. All this destruction is measured in current terms, nearly all from statistics collected by the Bank for International Settlements.

Gone will be worldwide fiat currency debt, amounting to some $250—$300 trillion. Gone will be all OTC derivatives which settle in fiat, amounting to a further $560 trillion. Gone will be listed derivatives, a further $33 trillion. Gone will be options, a further $65 trillion. All these, totalling over $900 trillion, are only part of the destruction.

Global deposits held as bank balances totalling $60 trillion will evaporate. Worldwide equity markets denominated in fiat are a further $70 trillion; anything that does not migrate from fiat pricing disappears, including most, if not all ETFs. Goodbye to hedge funds. Goodbye to offshore financial centres. Goodbye to onshore financial centres. Goodbye to $100 trillion of fiat money.

Life will be very different, and those not prepared for it, principally by retaining a store of non-fiat, sound money, which can only be physical gold and silver until credible substitutes arise, will face impoverishment. Measured in real money, the value of non-financial physical assets will collapse due to the preponderance of desperate sellers to whom survival is most important, even though priced in worthless fiat their prices will have risen. The experience of inflationary collapses in Germany and Austria in the early 1920s showed the way, when country estates went for almost nothing in gold-back dollars and $100 would buy a mansion in Berlin.

None of this is expected. It may not happen, but the chances of it happening  appear to have increased significantly from 23 March.

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Many CDC Blunders Exaggerated Severity Of COVID-19: Study

Many CDC Blunders Exaggerated Severity Of COVID-19: Study

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The U.S. Centers…



Many CDC Blunders Exaggerated Severity Of COVID-19: Study

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made at least 25 statistical or numerical errors during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the overwhelming majority exaggerated the severity of the pandemic, according to a new study.

Researchers who have been tracking CDC errors compiled 25 instances where the agency offered demonstrably false information. For each instance, they analyzed whether the error exaggerated or downplayed the severity of COVID-19.

Of the 25 instances, 20 exaggerated the severity, the researchers reported in the study, which was published ahead of peer review on March 23.

The CDC has expressed significant concern about COVID-19 misinformation. In order for the CDC to be a credible source of information, they must improve the accuracy of the data they provide,” the authors wrote.

The CDC did not respond to a request for comment.

Most Errors Involved Children

Most of the errors were about COVID-19’s impact on children.

In mid-2021, for instance, the CDC claimed that 4 percent of the deaths attributed to COVID-19 were kids. The actual percentage was 0.04 percent. The CDC eventually corrected the misinformation, months after being alerted to the issue.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky falsely told a White House press briefing in October 2021 that there had been 745 COVID-19 deaths in children, but the actual number, based on CDC death certificate analysis, was 558.

Walensky and other CDC officials also falsely said in 2022 that COVID-19 was a top five cause of death for children, citing a study that gathered CDC data instead of looking at the data directly. The officials have not corrected the false claims.

Other errors include the CDC claiming in 2022 that pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations were “increasing again” when they’d actually peaked two weeks earlier; CDC officials in 2023 including deaths among infants younger than 6 months old when reporting COVID-19 deaths among children; and Walensky on Feb. 9, 2023, exaggerating the pediatric death toll before Congress.

“These errors suggest the CDC consistently exaggerates the impact of COVID-19 on children,” the authors of the study said.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Fri, 03/24/2023 - 20:20

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NIH awards researchers $7.5 million to create data support center for opioid use disorder and pain management research

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – March 24, 2023 – Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine have been awarded a five-year, $7.5 million grant…



WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – March 24, 2023 – Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine have been awarded a five-year, $7.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Helping End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) initiative.

Credit: Wake Forest University School of Medicine

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – March 24, 2023 – Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine have been awarded a five-year, $7.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Helping End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) initiative.

The NIH HEAL initiative, which launched in 2018, was created to find scientific solutions to stem the national opioid and pain public health crises. The funding is part of the HEAL Data 2 Action (HD2A) program, designed to use real-time data to guide actions and change processes toward reducing overdoses and improving opioid use disorder treatment and pain management.

With the support of the grant, researchers will create a data infrastructure support center to assist HD2A innovation projects at other institutions across the country. These innovation projects are designed to address gaps in four areas—prevention, harm reduction, treatment of opioid use disorder and recovery support.

“Our center’s goal is to remove barriers so that solutions can be more streamlined and rapidly distributed,” said Meredith C.B. Adams, M.D., associate professor of anesthesiology, biomedical informatics, physiology and pharmacology, and public health sciences at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

By monitoring opioid overdoses in real time, researchers will be able to identify trends and gaps in resources in local communities where services are most needed.

“We will collect and analyze data that will inform prevention and treatment services,” Adams said. “We’re shifting chronic pain and opioid care in communities to quickly offer solutions.”

The center will also develop data related resources, education and training related to substance use, pain management and the reduction of opioid overdoses.

According to the CDC, there was a 29% increase in drug overdose deaths in the U.S.  in 2020, and nearly 75% of those deaths involved an opioid.

“Given the scope of the opioid crises, which was only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s imperative that we improve and create new prevention strategies,” Adams said. “The funding will create the infrastructure for rapid intervention.”

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How They Convinced Trump To Lock Down

How They Convinced Trump To Lock Down

Authored by Jeffrey A. Tucker via Brownstone Institute,

An enduring mystery for three years is how…



How They Convinced Trump To Lock Down

Authored by Jeffrey A. Tucker via Brownstone Institute,

An enduring mystery for three years is how Donald Trump came to be the president who shut down American society for what turned out to be a manageable respiratory virus, setting off an unspeakable crisis with waves of destructive fallout that continue to this day. 

Let’s review the timeline and offer some well-founded speculations about what happened. 

On March 9, 2020, Trump was still of the opinion that the virus could be handled by normal means. 

Two days later, he changed his tune. He was ready to use the full power of the federal government in a war on the virus. 

What changed? Deborah Birx reports in her book that Trump had a friend die in a New York hospital and this is what shifted his opinion. Jared Kushner reports that he simply listened to reason. Mike Pence says he was persuaded that his staff would respect him more. No question (and based on all existing reports) that he found himself surrounded by “trusted advisors” amounting to about 5 or so people (including Mike Pence and Pfizer board member Scott Gottlieb)

It was only a week later when Trump issued the edict to close all “indoor and outdoor venues where people congregate,” initiating the biggest regime change in US history that flew in the face of all rights and liberties Americans had previously taken for granted. It was the ultimate in political triangulation: as John F. Kennedy cut taxes, Nixon opened China, and Clinton reformed welfare, Trump shut down the economy he promised to revive. This action confounded critics on all sides. 

A month later, Trump said his decision to have “turned off” the economy saved millions of lives, later even claiming to have saved billions. He has yet to admit error. 

Even as late as June 23rd of that year, Trump was demanding credit for having followed all of Fauci’s recommendations. Why do they love him and hate me, he wanted to know. 

Something about this story has never really added up. How could one person have been so persuaded by a handful of others such as Fauci, Birx, Pence, and Kushner and his friends? He surely had other sources of information – some other scenario or intelligence – that fed into his disastrous decision. 

In one version of events, his advisors simply pointed to the supposed success of Xi Jinping in enacting lockdowns in Wuhan, which the World Health Organization claimed had stopped infections and brought the virus under control. Perhaps his advisors flattered Trump with the observation that he is at least as great as the president of China so he should be bold and enact the same policies here. 

One problem with this scenario is timing. The Oval Office meetings that preceded his March 16, 2020, edict took place the weekend of the 14th and 15th, Friday and Saturday. It was already clear by the 11th that Trump was ready for lockdowns. This was the same day as Fauci’s deliberately misleading testimony to the House Oversight Committee in which he rattled the room with predictions of Hollywood-style carnage. 

On the 12th, Trump shut all travel from Europe, the UK, and Australia, causing huge human pile-ups at international airports. On the 13th, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a classified document that transferred control of pandemic policy from the CDC to the National Security Council and eventually the Department of Homeland Security. By the time that Trump met with Fauci and Birx in that legendary weekend, the country was already under quasi-martial law. 

Isolating the date in the trajectory here, it is apparent that whatever happened to change Trump occurred on March 10, 2020, the day after his Tweet saying there should be no shutdowns and one day before Fauci’s testimony. 

That something very likely revolves around the most substantial discovery we’ve made in three years of investigations. It was Debbie Lerman who first cracked the code: Covid policy was forged not by the public-health bureaucracies but by the national-security sector of the administrative state. She has further explained that this occurred because of two critical features of the response: 1) the belief that this virus came from a lab leak, and 2) the vaccine was the biosecurity countermeasure pushed by the same people as the fix. 

Knowing this, we gain greater insight into 1) why Trump changed his mind, 2) why he has never explained this momentous decision and otherwise completely avoids the topic, and 3) why it has been so unbearably difficult to find out any information about these mysterious few days other than the pablum served up in books designed to earn royalties for authors like Birx, Pence, and Kushner. 

Based on a number of second-hand reports, all available clues we have assembled, and the context of the times, the following scenario seems most likely. On March 10, and in response to Trump’s dismissive tweet the day before, some trusted sources within and around the National Security Council (Matthew Pottinger and Michael Callahan, for example), and probably involving some from military command and others, came to Trump to let him know a highly classified secret. 

Imagine a scene from Get Smart with the Cone of Silence, for example. These are the events in the life of statecraft that infuse powerful people with a sense of their personal awesomeness. The fate of all of society rests on their shoulders and the decisions they make at this point. Of course they are sworn to intense secrecy following the great reveal. 

The revelation was that the virus was not a textbook virus but something far more threatening and terrible. It came from a research lab in Wuhan. It might in fact be a bioweapon. This is why Xi had to do extreme things to protect his people. The US should do the same, they said, and there is a fix available too and it is being carefully guarded by the military. 

It seems that the virus had already been mapped in order to make a vaccine to protect the population. Thanks to 20 years of research on mRNA platforms, they told him,  this vaccine can be rolled out in months, not years. That means that Trump can lock down and distribute vaccines to save everyone from the China virus, all in time for the election. Doing this would not only assure his reelection but guarantee that he would go down in history as one of the greatest US presidents of all time. 

This meeting might only have lasted an hour or two – and might have included a parade of people with the highest-level security clearances – but it was enough to convince Trump. After all, he had battled China for two previous years, imposing tariffs and making all sorts of threats. It was easy to believe at that point that China might have initiated biological warfare as retaliation. That’s why he made the decision to use all the power of the presidency to push a lockdown under emergency rule. 

To be sure, the Constitution does not allow him to override the discretion of the states but with the weight of the office complete with enough funding and persuasion, he could make it happen. And thus did he make the fateful decision that not only wrecked his presidency but the country too, imposing harms that will last a generation. 

It only took a few weeks for Trump to become suspicious about what happened. For weeks and months, he toggled between believing that he was tricked and believing that he did the right thing. He had already approved another 30 days of lockdowns and even inveighed against Georgia and later Florida for opening. He went so far as to claim that no state could open without his approval. 

He did not fully change his mind until August, when Scott Atlas revealed the whole con to him. 

There is another fascinating feature to this entirely plausible scenario. Even as Trump’s advisors were telling him that this could be a bioweapon leaked from the lab in China, we had Anthony Fauci and his cronies going to great lengths to deny it was a lab leak (even if they believed that it was). This created an interesting situation. The NIH and those surrounding Fauci were publicly insisting that the virus was of zoonotic origin, even as Trump’s circle was telling the president that it should be regarded as a bioweapon. 

Fauci belonged to both camps, which suggests that Trump very likely knew of Fauci’s deception all along: the “noble lie” to protect the public from knowing the truth. Trump had to be fine with that. 

Gradually following the lockdown edicts and the takeover by the Department of Homeland Security, in cooperation with a very hostile CDC, Trump lost power and influence over his own government, which is why his later Tweets urging a reopening fell on deaf ears. To top it off, the vaccine failed to arrive in time for the election. This is because Fauci himself delayed the rollout until after the election, claiming that the trials were not racially diverse enough. Thus Trump’s gambit completely failed, despite all the promises of those around him that it was a guaranteed way to win reelection.

To be sure, this scenario cannot be proven because the entire event – certainly the most dramatic political move in at least a generation and one with unspeakable costs for the country – remains cloaked in secrecy. Not even Senator Rand Paul can get the information he needs because it remains classified. If anyone thinks the Biden approval of releasing documents will show what we need, that person is naive. Still, the above scenario fits all available facts and it is confirmed by second-hand reports from inside the White House. 

It’s enough for a great movie or a play of Shakespearean levels of tragedy. And to this day, none of the main players are speaking openly about it. 

Jeffrey A. Tucker is Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Liberty or Lockdown, and thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

Tyler Durden Fri, 03/24/2023 - 17:40

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