Financial expert Chris Martenson with PeakProsperity.com joined The Glenn Beck Program on Monday to discuss what Glenn calls the largest currency war in the history of mankind.
"I believe we are in a global currency war, the Third World War of currency. First World War, currency war, was World War I then World War II, and this has been going back and forth with Jina since Ronald Reagan. But now Donald Trump is talking about trade barriers and specifically taking on China as the biggest manipulator of currency, which historically, they have been," Glenn said.
Instead of dealing with reality, we've decided to play the money game. What will it look like when the chickens come home to roost?
Read below or watch the clip for answers to these questions:
• Who is the biggest manipulator of currency?
• What's the impact of regulations and workplace safety laws in the US?
• What's the one thing credit bubbles can't stand?
• Did Italy do a Brexit this weekend?
• What's the real game being played right now?
Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors:
GLENN: Hello, America. And welcome to the program. We are in, what I believe is the largest currency war in the history of mankind. And it's the most wonderful time of the year. So this is all good stuff.
Chris Martenson, our currency guru is joining us to talk about what this means for your finance. Put things that you're hearing in the news like tweets about Jina, what does that actually mean to you? We begin there, right now.
GLENN: Beginning of next year, and throughout the year, I want to give you a handle on what I believe is coming, just as a student of history.
History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes. And I believe we are in a global currency war, the third world war of currency. First world war, currency war, was World War I. Then World War II. And this has been going back and forth with Jina since Ronald Reagan. But now Donald Trump is talking about trade barriers and specifically taking on China as the biggest manipulator of currency, which historically, they have been.
But we have decided to play the game all of these years for a reason.
You may want to stop playing the game. But I want you to understand what that means so you don't go in and then when the whole world falls apart, you go, "Well, why the hell didn't someone tell me this?" We have Chris Martenson on with us. Our guru from peakprosperity.com. Welcome, Chris. How are you?
CHRIS: Oh, I'm doing very well today. Thanks, Glenn.
GLENN: Can you put into perspective the -- the Taiwan and China talk about being the manipulator of -- the largest manipulator of currency?
First of all, is it true, or are we the biggest manipulator of currency?
CHRIS: I think the answer is yes. Everybody is manipulating their currencies at all times. And there's a good reason for it, if you can keep your currency weak or low, relative to your trading partners, it makes your goods more attractive. So if somebody has a widget to sell and you can keep your currency nice and low, well, you can sell more of them. China has been on an absolute industrial tear. They've been exporting like mad. So the thinking would be, in a normal world, their currency should rise in value, relative to other currencies, and that hasn't been happening. And so the charge is leveled that China is manipulating its currency to keep it low, to give it an unfair advantage, to give its manufacturers an unfair advantage. That's what Trump is talking about.
GLENN: So, I mean, really, we have to cut ourselves a break. The reason why America doesn't make the world's goods anymore is partly because our currency was always so strong that the rest of the world couldn't afford to buy our stuff. And we bought everybody else's stuff because it was good or good enough. And it was really cheap. We couldn't compete because of the value of their currency.
CHRIS: Well, indeed. That's part of the story, and the other part is that we give ourselves lots and lots of tasty regulations and workplace safety laws.
GLENN: Yes. Correct.
CHRIS: And all sorts of things like that.
CHRIS: And China doesn't burden itself in quite the same way. So they can compete.
CHRIS: So, yes, they have cheaper labor. But that's just part of the story. The rest of the story is, yes, they are keeping their currency nice and low. And so this has worked out really well for the United States. Sometimes people say, "Chris, the United States doesn't really export anymore." And it's not true.
We export a lot of dollars. We run a trade deficit, that if it was its own economy, would be around the eighth or the ninth largest in the world. It's an astonishing number that the United States imports more than we export. When we do that, it means basically we're exporting those dollars, and we're counting on places like China to hold on to those dollars and not send them back home.
GLENN: Why is that important?
CHRIS: Well, so what they have to do, if they're holding the dollars, what do they do with them?
The central bank starts to accumulate them in China. And so they can't just hold on to dollars. So they hold on to treasuries instead. And because they're buying our treasuries in the United States, what happens next is that keeps our interest rates low.
So if China suddenly decided to reverse this policy -- let's say Trump comes out and labels them a currency manipulator, goes after them hard, China could just turn around and decide to start selling all of those treasuries. And if they do that, our interest rates will rise.
Well, you want to talk about World War I, World War II, where are we in this story? We're in the middle of the largest credit bubble in all of human history. One thing credit bubbles really can't stand is rising rates of interest. That's what would result if China started selling its treasuries.
GLENN: Chris, over the next few weeks -- and I would like to bring you in so we could spend a day before we talk about this on the air. But I am more and more convinced that -- first of all, do you believe we're in a World War III scenario of just a currency war?
CHRIS: Well, we are -- everybody -- all the central banks are doing everything they can to try and keep this whole thing stitched together. And as they do that, Glenn. They're creating larger and larger imbalances. The imbalances in Europe are large enough to tear it apart. They're very afraid of the rise of populism over there. They've seen this story before.
The difference between what is happening with the Chinese, the Japanese, the United States central banks, all these enormous imbalances are building up. And nobody has a plan for how to resolve them. If we don't, there's a good chance they resolve chaotically, which is just a fancy way of saying, "Stuff just breaks down, and then we see what happens."
GLENN: Yeah. What does it mean for Italy this weekend? Italy had the opportunity to solve things, if you will, or at least still keep playing the game. They kind of did a Trump or a Brexit this weekend and said, "No," to the plan of their Prime Minister over there. So now he is stepping down. And it looks like it's, again, another Brexit.
What does this mean?
CHRIS: This -- you know, a lot of people -- I've seen a lot of ink written already that says, "Well, this is just people not understanding the bigger issues. And maybe they're a little bit racist or more like Trump or something or something."
But the truth is, Glenn, that the people of Italy have been suffering for a long time. The average people have been suffering for a long time. I think it's been since 1998 since their economy has been growing. And the people of Italy have had to endure with less and less and less. And they've just been getting squeezed. So I view this again -- they call it pop, like I say, this or that. Really, it's just economics. When people find their daily lives getting harder and harder, it creates social tension.
This was another opportunity for the elites this time in Italy, to figure out how they're going to start listening to their people.
Renzi was deciding not to do that. And the people of Italy, very convincingly -- nearly 60 percent, I think, is the last number I saw, said, "No, it's time for us to be part of this story as well." That's really what's going on here. And the bigger picture, the thing we can talk about over the coming weeks is, the only question that has to be answered at this stage of the credit bubble is: Who is going to eat the losses?
GLENN: Explain that.
CHRIS: Well, when something can't be paid back, it won't be. And so the banks are always trying to figure out how they don't get to eat the losses. They're always looking for a bailout in some form, or in this case in Europe, now bail-ins. But somebody's going to have to take the losses.
So in the case of Italy, their banks have 360 billion euros of non-performing loans. Those are loans that aren't being paid. That's 20 percent of Italian GDP. There's no possible way that they can cover that.
GLENN: Oh, my gosh.
CHRIS: So the question now is: Who is going to eat the losses? And the politicians would love that to be the taxpayers. They create inflation, which is a stealth way of stealing that from all the people. Sometimes they just do the bailout and make the taxpayers pay directly. But the people are starting to say, "No. This is unfair. We don't like this. And the losses should actually belong to the people who made the bad decisions. Maybe that's the banks. Maybe that's the politicians." So this is the real game that's being played right now.
GLENN: But how do they pay for it? How do the banks and the politicians pay for that? They can't. How are you going to give that to the politicians?
CHRIS: Well, they're going to have to suffer with austerity so that the government is going to have to say, "Look, we can't just dip into the coffers for this. We're going to have to tighten our belts." Guess what, every one of the politicians who was involved in that gets swept out of office. It's a real career killer when you have to tell people, "It's time to pay for all of the bad decisions."
GLENN: You know, I've been reading a lot about the -- the gold standard and -- and how we kind of got off it. And it's really much more complex. And the trade balance is so complex, and yet elegant in the way it kept everything balanced. But we don't do that anymore.
When the Weimar Republic had hyperinflation and they inflated their way out of things, first of all, they didn't inflate their way out of the reparations that they were supposed to. A lot of people think, I believe, that, oh, we're just -- the world is going to forgive America of this big debt. I don't think so.
Chris Martenson, do you believe they will?
CHRIS: No. How could they?
CHRIS: The world isn't an entity. When we say, you know, there's $7 trillion of US money out overseas, it's not just in a spot in some central bank where they can flick a pen. It's sitting in a French pension. It's sitting in the endowment for a small school. It's in people's 401(k)s and retirement accounts. It's parked all over the place.
So either everybody has to agree to forgive that, or we get back to the prime question, which is: Who eats the losses in this story? And the governments always want to try and inflate it away. That seems the simplest. It spreads the pain over a great many people.
But what your listeners need to know is that this is a game. This is a game that's been played for a very long time. And it's basically heads we win, tails you lose. And that's what's creating the populist backlash. People are starting to figure it out. We have information now that we can access and go, "Oh, is that the game." Right?
It's not like it was in the '50s, when you only had one newspaper. Now, we can go to other sources of information and say, "Oh, I see what they're doing here. This really isn't fair." And so that's what we're getting down to is that when people experience deep unfairness in their lives, they don't like it. And that's really, I think, a better explanation of what's happening than, you know, simple ignorance or something like that.
GLENN: Okay. So, Chris, when you -- we'll have you back. And I want to talk to you about the way the Weimar Republic stabilized their economy after hyperinflation. They attached it to land.
Can you tell me at all, when you come back, about what a scenario like that would mean. Does that mean the government takes the land? Do they do that with just the public land that they hold? Would they take our mortgages? How does that work? How did it work before? Because I'm more and more convinced -- and I'd love to hear your opinion on this now, that the central banks and the central planners actually thought the lessons from World War I, the Weimar Republic, and World War II, they think those actually worked. Didn't they?
CHRIS: Well, they kind of did. And this is a really important topic. It will take a little while to explain. But it's summarized like this: If you read all the accounts of what happened in the Weimar Republic, all the popular books and all the stuff in the library says, "Wow, there was a lot of wealth destruction. Look at all these middle class, upper middle class people. They lost everything."
When you really look at what happened though, no wealth was actually destroyed. Because real wealth are the factories, the farms, the streets, the cars -- it's the real productive wealth of the nation. That didn't go away. What happened? It got transferred.
CHRIS: And this happened in the 1920s and '30s in the United States as well. All these people owned farms. They went bust because the mortgages all went bust on them.
And when the dust settled, if you watched carefully, who owned the farms changed hands. So that's what I'm trying to alert people to, that this idea of what we're facing is not so much of a wealth destruction. It's a wealth transfer. But first, you got to understand what the real wealth is. And it's not the paper.
Let's start there next time you're on. Chris Martenson from Peak Prosperity. Thank you so much. Appreciate it, sir.
CHRIS: You're welcome. My pleasure.
GLENN: You bet.
Featured Image: Fake US Dollar and Turkish Lira currency often used as a novelty gift is seen for sale at a tobacco shop in a market on December 5, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey. As the Turkish Lira plunged to record lows in past weeks, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a speech Saturday said his political enemies were trying to sabotage the economy and urged citizens to convert their foreign currency savings into lira or gold. Borsa Istanbul, Turkey's main stock exchange, became the first institution to act on the presidents call, converting all it's cash assets to liras. Some local businesses in a show of support began offering incentives to customers who had proof of changing foreign currency to lira, with rewards such as free restaurant meals, free gifts and discounts on purchases and one funeral owner in the province of Bursa promised to give free tombstones to people who had protected their lira. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)