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The Federal Reserve and "New Economic Thinking"

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

In a MarketWatch.com story we learn the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is now advising the Federal Reserve on the timing of its expected hike in interest rates.  What caught my eye first, though, was the backdrop for the photo op with the first ladies of finance (with apologies to Frau Merkel).

It seems there is "New Economic Thinking" out there.  My first reaction was: "Oh, let me guess, it's different this time..."

The story goes on to note the supposedly low rate of inflation and how the Fed should wait until they have "clear signs of wage and price inflation."  Even under normal circumstances - and I am not talking about economics but about data, statistics and reporting - if the Fed waits until the data shows wage and price inflation, the pressures have already built up in the system.  The only question is how much lag there will be between the building pressures and the explosion.

This brings me to something I have written about before.  John Williams shows convincingly that the Executive branch (in the departments of Commerce and Labor) are gaming the stats on inflation.  Because the inflation rate then affects just about every other economic 'headline' stat (including GDP, the reported rate of economic growth), the 'data' on which the Fed depends is GUBAR'd (gimmicked-up beyond all recognition).  This only makes it all but certain that by the time real inflation overcomes gimmicked stats, and the government will no longer be able to put a smiley face on the harsh reality, it will be way too late for the Fed to do anything.

Yup, that's "New Economic Thinking" for you...

But these "institutes" have always intrigued me...  Here we have some form of organization hosting the heads of the Federal Reserve and the IMF.  Who are they?  Where does their money come from?

So I went to the IRS website, and put their name in double-quotes in the 'Name' field (that would be "Institute for New Economic Thinking" - the double-quotes are important to restrict the search to that exact name).  The reader can try that for themselves and will discover the IRS record, along with the tax id number.

From there I went to the Foundation Center's page where you can find IRS Form 990 filings for non-profit organizations.  Entering their tax id number (without the dash) produced their filings beginning in 2011.  I started there and read through their 2011 tax filings.  Because I have helped run non-profits before, I know my way around these filings and - after being shocked at how well capitalized this particular organization was right out of the gate, I immediately went to page 24 on the PDF, or Part I of Schedule B, where you find info on the contributors.

This was pretty boring reading other than seeing Paul Volcker on the list ($1,000,000), but the real story was the entry right before Volcker.  The "Open Society Institute" is listed as donating no less than $25,000,000.  Yes, that is 25 million...  Seeing as their total grants received for the year is reported as $26,342,823, that one $25M gift is 95% of the first year's money.  Boy, wouldn't I love to run a non-profit with that kind of "seed" money!

That, of course, sends me back to the IRS site, now to put in "Open Society Institute" into the 'Name' field.  Sure enough, there they are, tax id number and all.  Plug in the tax id number in the Foundation Center's 990 finder, and the last three years filings are listed.  Again, I start with the 2011 filing - I am interested in finding out who throws $25M into a brand new non-profit.  I start on page 1 and see they granted out a little over $100M.  So the Institute for New Economic Thinking is fully 25% of their grant distribution.  (The INET 990 does not specify an accounting year other than the calendar year for 2011 and the OSI expressly states the calendar year, so I know I am comparing equivalent accounting periods.)  Curiously, Part IX-A requires a report of the four largest charitable contributions.  The $25M to the INET does not show up... the largest recipient got a paltry $9.4M (poor folks). Hmmmm....

Both organizations report as 501(c)(3) non-profits.  These are supposed to be even more tightly regulated than the 501(c)(4) organizations that have been in the news related to IRS targeting of conservative organizations.  In both cases, they answer "No" to Part VII(a) questions 1(a) and 1(b) - asking if they are involved in political activities.  I guess advocating for "old" economic thinking (e.g. a gold standard) is political when done by a grass-roots Tea Party organization, but "new" economic thinking is not - go figure.

So I scroll down to Part XV to see who is involved... by now I have my suspicions.  And sure enough, there he is: George Soros.

Mr. Soros has been the subject of a lot of conspiracy theories on the conservative blogosphere.  I tend strongly toward skepticism, so I am not going to be one to parrot sensationalist rhetoric.  But there is enough of Soros in his own words to present cause for concern.  In particular this:
If truth be known, I carried some rather potent messianic fantasies with me from childhood which I felt I had to control, otherwise I might end up in the loony bin. But when I made my way in the world I wanted to indulge myself in my fantasies to the extent that I could afford.
Soros is the man who dumped $10B worth of British Pound Sterling in 1992, effectively breaking the Bank of England, forcing a devaluation of the Pound and booking $2B in profits (nearly $1B in one day) - all at the expense of ordinary British savers who saw their purchasing power disappear overnight.

And there they are - the first ladies of finance sitting on a dais back-dropped by a non-profit all but unilaterally stood up and funded by Soros.  In 2012 Open Society gave INET $12.5M out of $20,132,887 (62%) and another $6.5M (for a total of $19M or 91% from the two combined) came from an organization named the Pyewacket Foundation. In 2013 INET took in $20,945,965 and reported $6,646,585 in grants - $6,307,971 from Open Society (95%).

Criously, Pyewacket's 2012 Form 990 only shows $290,000 in grants paid (and $648,948 in total expenses/disbursements).  One wonders where the $6.5M gift is accounted for.  Indeed, across 2011-2013 Pyewacket's total grants reported is only $2.14M, and INET does not appear on any of these three filings' Section XV listings of grant recipients.  Yet INET reports having received $6.5M from them in 2012.

One wonders what the messiah has in mind for the dollar as he whispers in the ears of Ms. Yellen and Ms. Legarde.

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