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What’s the G-7? An international economist explains

The G-7 nations, which include the US and UK, form the foundation of the modern global economy.

G-7 heads of state and the presidents of the European Commission and European Council pose for pictures. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

What the G-7 is

The Group of 7 is an informal group of seven powerful democracies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. The presidents of the European Commission and European Council also attend G-7 meetings because several of Europe’s largest countries are also members.

Membership, which is decided internally, hasn’t changed much since the group’s founding in 1975. At the time, it included only six countries, all of which still belong. Canada joined a year later. Russia joined as an eighth member in 1998, temporarily changing the group’s moniker to the G-8, but Russia was ousted after it annexed Crimea in 2014.

Together, these seven wealthy nations form the foundation of the modern global economy and the cooperative rules-based system on which it is built.

Why the G-7 matters

The G-7 countries make up about 40% of the world economy, down from nearly 70% a few decades ago.

Despite the decline, the economic might of G-7 nations remains undeniable, not least due to their collective position as countries at the forefront of technological innovation and industrial know-how. Moreover, G-7 economies are inextricably interwoven with global supply chains, which means that a policy change or economic shock in one G-7 country will, for better or worse, have ripple effects across the globe.

Ultimately, the G-7 may be the best hope for quick, decisive and meaningful policy action on pressing global problems.

While the G-7 doesn’t have the institutional clout of the United Nations, the World Trade Organization or NATO, it also doesn’t have their institutional red tape or bureaucracy.

And although the G-7 is a subset of the ascendant G20 – which also includes rising economic powerhouses China, India and Brazil – the G-7 has another advantage: it’s much easier to achieve consensus in an intimate group of similar nations than it is to find common ground among diverse nations with very different economic and political priorities.

Leaders of the U.S., U.K., France, West Germany, Japan and Italy pose for a picture during a meeting of the then-G-6 in 1975.
Back in 1975, when what is now known as the G-7 was formed, only six nations belonged. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

What the G-7 does

The world is facing profound challenges, from the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change to authoritarianism and attacks on democracy.

None of these issues colors neatly within the lines of national borders. Countries need to cooperate to find solutions that do not simply kick the can to their neighbors.

An example of meaningful action by the G-7 is its June 5, 2021, announcement of an agreement on global minimum corporate tax rates, which marked a watershed moment in international taxation. If successful, the agreement could mean the end of tax havens and a dramatic shift in how companies record their profits around the world.

[You’re smart and curious about the world. So are The Conversation’s authors and editors. You can read us daily by subscribing to our newsletter.]

Emily J. Blanchard does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Economics

Baltimore City Responds After Dozens Of Businesses Threaten Not To Pay Taxes

Baltimore City Responds After Dozens Of Businesses Threaten Not To Pay Taxes

This weekend, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) closed down multiple city streets around the Inner Harbor, in a stretch called "Fells Point," after dozens…

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Baltimore City Responds After Dozens Of Businesses Threaten Not To Pay Taxes

This weekend, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) closed down multiple city streets around the Inner Harbor, in a stretch called "Fells Point," after dozens of local businesses threatened the new city government, run by Mayor Brandon Scott, to not pay taxes because they're "fed up and frustrated" with the outburst of violence. 

Last week, 37 restaurants and small businesses sent a letter to the mayor's office titled "Letter to City Leaders From Fells Point Business Leaders." They threatened to stop paying city taxes and other fees until "basic and essential municipal services are restored." This comes as Madam State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby halted petty crimes during the pandemic and made such a measure permanent - the idea was to decrease violent crime, but that seems to have severely backfired.

What's happened in the historic bar strict is absolute mayhem at night, transformed into a dangerous area where violent and rowdy crowds have ruined the once pleasant atmosphere along with multiple shootings. 

So this weekend, BPD closed down streets around Fells Point, which includes parts of Aliceanna, Thames, and Bond streets.

In addition, Maryland State Police will conduct sobriety checkpoints in Fells Point. 

Local news WJZ13's Mike Hellgren tweets a couple of images of the increased police presence across Fells Point.

One of the 37 concerned business owners on the list is Bill Packo, who owns Barley's Backyard and has been operating in Fells Point for three decades. He spoke with WJZ13 about the out of control violence and public drunkenness:

"It's a shame. What they're letting happen to Fells Point is what they let happen in the Inner Harbor, and now it has made its way here," Packo said. "There's alcohol being sold by individuals out there, drugs, and clearly we all know about the shootings that took place last weekend. But there needs to be some control out there. There is none whatsoever."

BPD's mobile police command was spotted outside another shop in the bar district. It looks very dystopic. 

Meanwhile, Scott, who was newly elected, skipped out on the virtual community town hall meeting on Thursday at 7 p.m that was to address the issues in Fells Point. 

Packo called out Scott for not attending the meeting: 

"It's an embarrassment to the city. It's an embarrassment to the mayor no matter what the schedule was," he said.

Again, as we've said before, the chaos in Fells Point comes as the city descends into what could be the most violent period ever. Mosby has halted police officers going after petty crimes that have inadvertently backfired. Another liberal-run town with good intentions in policies not exactly panning out as they thought. 

Local news WMAR2's Eddie Kadhim interviewed a man who summed up the city's response in Fells Point: 

Another man said the violent crime in low-income neighborhoods is just spilling over into the downtown area. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 06/12/2021 - 15:00

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Economics

Real Interest Rates Suggest It’s A Good Time To Buy And Hold Gold

Real Interest Rates Suggest It’s A Good Time To Buy And Hold Gold

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,

Let’s investigate the relationship between real interest rates and the price of gold.

Real means inflation adjusted. 

I calcula

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Real Interest Rates Suggest It's A Good Time To Buy And Hold Gold

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,

Let's investigate the relationship between real interest rates and the price of gold.

Real means inflation adjusted. 

I calculated the real interest rate by subtracting year-over-year CPI from the current 3-month T-bill yield. 

One could also use the Fed Funds Rate or 1-month T-Bill rate as the yields are all about the same. 

The following chart puts the negative interest rate theory to the test,

Real Interest Rate vs Price of Gold 

The chart above shows the monthly gold close, not monthly highs. That explains why the 1980 top does not show.

Synopsis

Gold took off in the stagflation years then collapsed from $850 to $250 an ounce with inflation every step of the way.

Note that between 1980 and 2000, the Fed kept real interest rates in positive territory except for one minor and brief moment.

In response to the DotCom bust, housing bust,  and Covid-19 recessions, rates have been generally negative.

The first question mark around 2006, gold kept rising despite positive rates, but that is if one believes the CPI. If one factors in housing, real rates were indeed quite negative.

One might also argue the chart reflects anticipation of the financial stress of a housing collapse.

The second question mark pertains to ECB president Mario Draghi's statement "We will do whatever it takes to save the Euro and believe me, it will be enough".  

Simultaneously, in the US, expectations there was endless speculation about Fed normalization, ending QE, Tapering, hiking rates, etc. 

People actually believed the Fed would do all those things and that made for a rough spell as gold fell from over $1900 an ounce to around $1100.

Timing vs Magnitude

Real interest rates suggest nothing about magnitude of the move. Rather, it's a directional indicator. 

It goes along with what I have stated previously about faith in central banks. 

When the Fed has positive real rates, gold tends to do poorly. 

Real interest rates approached 7% in early 1980's. If that happened now, the 3-month T-bill would yield an astonishing 12%. 

How likely is that?

*  *  *

Like these reports? I hope so, and if you do, please Subscribe to MishTalk Email Alerts. Subscribers get an email alert of each post as they happen.

Tyler Durden Sat, 06/12/2021 - 20:30

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Economics

Visualizing The History Of US Inflation Over 100 Years

Visualizing The History Of US Inflation Over 100 Years

Is inflation rising?

The consumer price index (CPI), an index used as a proxy for inflation in consumer prices, offers some answers. In 2020, inflation dropped to 1.4%, the lowest rate..

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Visualizing The History Of US Inflation Over 100 Years

Is inflation rising?

The consumer price index (CPI), an index used as a proxy for inflation in consumer prices, offers some answers. In 2020, inflation dropped to 1.4%, the lowest rate since 2015. By comparison, inflation sits around 5.0% as of June 2021.

Given how the economic shock of COVID-19 depressed prices, rising price levels make sense. However, as Visual Capitalist's Dorothy Neufeld notes, other variables, such as a growing money supply and rising raw materials costs, could factor into rising inflation.

To show current price levels in context, this Markets in a Minute chart from New York Life Investments shows the history of inflation over 100 years.

U.S. Inflation: Early History

Between the founding of the U.S. in 1776 to the year 1914, one thing was for sure - wartime periods were met with high inflation.

At the time, the U.S. operated under a classical Gold Standard regime, with the dollar’s value tied to gold. During the Civil War and World War I, the U.S. went off the Gold Standard in order to print money and finance the war. When this occurred, it triggered inflationary episodes, with prices rising upwards of 20% in 1918.

However, when the government returned to a modified Gold Standard, deflationary periods followed, leading prices to effectively stabilize, on average, leading up to World War II.

The Move to Bretton Woods

Like post-World War I, the Great Depression of the 1930s coincided with deflationary pressures on prices. Due to the rigidity of the monetary system at the time, countries had difficulty increasing money supply to help boost their economy. Many countries exited the Gold Standard during this time, and by 1933 the U.S. abandoned it completely.

A decade later, with the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1944, global currency exchange values pegged to the dollar, while the dollar was pegged to gold. The U.S. held the majority of gold reserves, and the global reserve currency transitioned from the sterling pound to the dollar.

1970’s Regime Change

By 1971, the ability for gold to cover the supply of U.S. dollars in circulation became an increasing concern.

Leading up to this point, a surplus of money supply was created due to military expenses, foreign aid, and others. In response, President Richard Nixon abandoned the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1971 for a floating exchange, known as the “Nixon shock”. Under a floating exchange regime, rates fluctuate based on supply and demand relative to other currencies.

A few years later, oil shocks of 1973 and 1974 led inflation to soar past 12%. By 1979, inflation surged in excess of 13%.

The Volcker Era

In 1979, Federal Reserve Chair Paul Volcker was sworn in, and he introduced stark changes to combat inflation that differed from previous regimes.

Instead of managing inflation through interest rates, which the Federal Reserve had done previously, inflation would be managed through controlling the money supply. If the money supply was limited, this would cause interest rates to increase.

While interest rates jumped to 20% in 1980, by 1983 inflation dropped below 4% as the economy recovered from the recession of 1982, and oil prices rose more moderately. Over the last four decades, inflation levels have remained relatively stable since the measures of the Volcker era were put in place.

Fluctuating Prices Over History

Throughout U.S. history. there have been periods of high inflation.

As the chart below illustrates, at least four distinct periods of high inflation have emerged between 1800 and 2010. The GDP deflator measurement shown accounts for the price change of all of an economy’s goods and services, as opposed to the CPI index which is a fixed basket of goods.

It is measured as GDP Price Deflator = (Nominal GDP ÷ Real GDP) × 100.

According to this measure, inflation hit its highest levels in the 1910s, averaging nearly 8% annually over the decade. Between 1914 and 1918 money supply doubled to finance war efforts, compared to a 25% increase in GDP during this period.

U.S. Inflation: Present Day

As the U.S. economy reopens, consumer demand has strengthened.

Meanwhile, supply bottlenecks, from semiconductor chips to lumber, are causing strains on automotive and tech industries. While this points towards increasing inflation, some suggest that it may be temporary, as prices were depressed in 2020.

At the same time, the Federal Reserve is following an “average inflation targeting” regime, which means that if a previous inflation shortfall occurred in the previous year, it would allow for higher inflationary periods to make up for them. As the last decade has been characterized by low inflation and low interest rates, any prolonged period of inflation will likely have pronounced effects on investors and financial markets.

Tyler Durden Sat, 06/12/2021 - 19:00

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