NEW YORK – Despite the Obama administration’s touting of lower unemployment figures, a strong dollar and a robust stock market, 2015 will be a year of economic turmoil, dollar panic and hyperinflation, claims economist John Williams, purveyor of the popular website ShadowStats.com and a well-known critic of politically manipulated government economic statistics.
Describing 2014 as a year of “market hype and manipulation,” Williams made his dire predictions in a special commentary issued this week for his newsletter subscribers.
Adding to the surreal depiction of Obama-era “good economic news” in the form of a low 5.6 percent December unemployment rate – down from a recession peak of 10 percent – Gallup Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton wrote a blistering op-ed attacking the government’s “extremely misleading” unemployment statistics.
“There’s no other way to say this,” wrote Clifton. “The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.”
Williams believes the actual unemployment stands at 23 percent, pointing out the Bureau of Labor Statistics excludes from the labor force anyone who is “so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks.”
Noting the Gallup chief’s surprising public rebuke, Williams says Main Street is not fooled by hype from the BLS.
“Main Street U.S.A. was not looking at a fully recovered and booming economy in the third quarter 2014, as of the November 4, 2014 election,” Williams wrote. “The exit-poll economic rating was consistent with an outright quarter-to-quarter contraction in real third-quarter GDP activity, a quarter that had ended on September 30th, more than one month before the election.”
Williams said voters certainly didn’t believe the headline 3.5 percent third-quarter growth published the week before the election.
“If they did not believe that, they most likely also did not believe the 5 percent revised growth rate published on December 23rd as the third estimate, second revision to third-quarter GDP growth,” he said.
Williams believes 2015 will be the year in which the Obama administration’s “Big Lie” regarding the economy’s strength will turn into the “Big Truth,” with Americans forced to deal with stock market turmoil and a dollar under attack and declining in value. He expects to see the real price of goods and services skyrocket, as the U.S. enters inevitably a long-term cycle of economic decline, persistent high unemployment and hyperinflation.
Clifton wrote: “While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the news – currently 5.6 percent. Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed. Trust me, the vast majority of them aren’t throwing parties to toast ‘falling’ unemployment.”
Williams agrees, contending the economy never recovered from the financial shock of 2008 and predicts 2015 will see the dollar collapse as hyperinflation begins to surge in the nation’s economy.
Williams concedes mainstream media headlines in 2014 painted a picture of a strong economy, allowing Obama to brag in his 2015 State of the Union address of his administration’s economic prowess.
“Headline circumstances generally were on the plus side in 2014, rarely have they been better, but underlying reality was not so positive, Williams wrote, listing the following as achievements for which the Obama administration took credit:
- After a first-quarter 2014 GDP contraction, the ensuing three quarters of GDP activity were the strongest of any three-quarter period of GDP growth in more than a decade.
- Payroll employment recovered its pre-recession high, while headline unemployment dropped to 5.6 percent in December, down from a recession peak of 10 percent.
- The cash-based federal budget deficit purportedly hit its lowest level since 2008, while the Fed was able to taper asset purchases in its quantitative easing.
- The stock market hit an all-time high, and the U.S. dollar rallied to multi-year highs, knocking down oil and gasoline prices.
But, in reality, Williams countered, payroll jobs surged based on soaring growth in people forced to work part-time jobs for economic reasons, continued weakness in the economy was evidenced partly by the November midterm election results that went strongly against the Obama administration, and the GAAP-based 2014 federal deficit held near an unsustainable $6 trillion level.
“With 2015 already underway, U.S. economic activity should slow sharply, as seen with key economic indicators in headline reporting, and in downside historical revisions,” Williams said. “Downside economic shocks should threaten the domestic stock market, intensify speculation as to renewed Federal Reserve accommodation, pummel the U.S. dollar, spike oil and gas prices, and eventually set the early stages of a domestic hyperinflation
“Underlying U.S. dollar fundamentals and shifting sentiment already are in motion, reflecting systemic distortions from the Panic of 2008, as they play out among major U.S. trading partners, including the Eurozone, Japan and Switzerland,” he said.
Williams further predicted the U.S. dollar will turn sharply lower in 2015, prompting a massive dollar selloff with panicked dumping occurring “relatively early” in the year.
Nor does Williams think the Federal Reserve could prop up the dollar this time by initiating yet a fourth round of Quantitative Easing, a policy in which the Fed agrees to buy hundreds of billions of dollars of debt issued by the U.S. treasury.
“QE4 could become a major factor behind crashing the dollar and boosting the price of gold,” he wrote. “The Fed has strung out its options for propping up the system as much as it could, with continual, negative impact on the U.S. economy.”
Williams concludes the basic choices for the United States in 2015 are to continue printing the money needed, leading to hyperinflation, or to slash federal spending while redesigning income redistribution programs, including Obamacare, which he views as a political impossibility even given the Republican majorities in Congress that resulted from the November midterm elections.
The only bright spot Williams sees for this year is that renewed dollar weakness and the resulting inflation spike “should boost the prices of gold and silver, where physical holding of those key precious metals remains the ultimate hedge against the pending inflation and financial crises.”