“Release the Kraken”
This slogan has gained popularity in the last few years, from a rallying cry about former President Donald Trump’s failed reelection bid to hockey fans in Seattle. The slogan was first made famous in the 2010 movie “Clash of the Titans”. Release the Kracken slogan has morphed into a rallying cry of conspiracy (Baker, 2020). We have to go back to Greek mythology to discover that the Kracken is the name the movie producer used in the 2010 movie, a remake of the original 1981 movie, to describe the destructive sea monster that Perseus turned to stone by using the head of Medusa (Wiki). The common definition, according to Wiktionary, is to unleash a greatly destructive force (Wiktionary). I used this slogan to emphasize how inflation can destroy an economy.
It is difficult to discuss inflation without bringing the Federal Reserve (Fed) policies into the picture. As I mentioned in my book, the Federal Reserve was created in 1914 from the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. The Fed has what they call a dual mandate goal to ensure maximum employment and price stability (House, 2022). What happened?
The Perfect Storm
The Roman empire enjoyed a period of zero inflation for almost 200 years. Then, the rising public spending on infrastructure and the military led to a shortage of money. Because the leadership decided it was a good idea to hike taxes on the poor and middle class and devalue the currency, hyperinflation began. To make matters worse, Emperor Diocletian, when he assumed leadership, imposed price controls (Intertrader, 2021). A multitude of poor decisions caused the fall of the Roman Empire. Can you see any correlations to our current economic situation from the story above? I firmly believe if we fail to study history, we are doomed to repeat it.
In 2020, we entered a period of uncertainty the world has never experienced since the Black Death of 1347, the 1520s smallpox outbreaks, or the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. Our response to Covid-19 might have contributed more than the virus itself (Patterson, G., McIntyre, K., Clough, H., & Rushton, J., 2021). The mandatory lockdowns worldwide triggered numerous issues that would become clear in late 2021, like employment shortages and logistic shortfalls at a time when consumers were flush with cash from Government stimulus payments and itching to satisfy pent-up demand. The Fed’s policy of artificially keeping interest rates down only added fuel to a blaze of fat-lighter well consumed. One has to wonder if the Fed’s autonomy has been influenced by the political machine. Then, as if the current economy was a model of efficiency, our administration decided it was a good time to eliminate fossil fuels. The current restrictions on the fossil fuel industry have placed undo hardships on the American taxpayers and businesses with the rising fuel prices. Now, our administration is in a mad rush to locate more oil supply, even from countries who we already know to be terrible actors or supply “dirty” oil. As I stated in a previous article, the economic definition of a recession is declining wages, lost jobs, lower business revenues, and negative economic growth for several months. With the recent corporate news on lackluster earnings reports and two months of declining economic growth, we are now officially in a recession.
Inflation is not friendly to investors. Inflationary pressures can devastate the best-diversified investment portfolio. Stocks are hit hard because companies are dealing with rising costs, including overhead and expenses, and low inventory due to supply chain lagging. Bonds are particularly stressed because inflation brings the newer bonds in favor over the lower rates of older bonds, especially when the Fed is raising the fund rate to counter inflation. Many investors are uncertain about the direction of individual securities and may elect to sell out and just hold cash. Of course, selling out when the markets are down run contrary to investing logic. Why would you accept losses in a down market when, in reality, you should treat it as a buying opportunity? Holding your position is best because, over the long run, the market will recover and start yielding a positive return, even though the value of time is lost. Inflation places investors in a very precarious position with very few alternatives. Real estate is a great alternative, but inflation brings the cost of borrowing higher; therefore, profit margins dwindle.
I digress! It is easy for me to point the blame towards the Fed, the current administration’s restrictive fossil fuel policies, or the Covid lockdown of 2020 and into 2021. I have always been an excellent “armchair quarterback”. However, will blaming others move us forward to economic recovery? The Apostle Paul reminds us, in his letter to the Philippians, that we should forget those things which are in the past and set our goals towards the future prize of the call to Heaven.
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13–14, NKJV)
Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work! We have a Kracken to destroy!
Your faithful servant.
Baker, G. (2020, December 1). ‘release the Kraken’ slogan has taken on quite different meaning amid attempts to undermine election results. The Seattle Times. Retrieved August 1, 2022, from https://www.seattletimes.com/sports/kraken/release-the-kraken-slogan-has-taken-on-quite-different-meaning-amid-attempts-to-undermine-election-results/
Did inflation collapse the Roman Empire? Intertrader. (2021, June 1). Retrieved August 1, 2022, from https://www.intertrader.com/en/blog/did-inflation-collapse-the-roman-empire/
House, G. (2022). Investing in a Secular World, Discovering Biblical Truths about Money and Investing. Christian Faith Publishers.
Kraken. Clash of the Titans Wiki. (n.d.). Retrieved August 1, 2022, from https://clash-of-the-titans.fandom.com/wiki/Kraken
Patterson, G. E., McIntyre, K. M., Clough, H. E., & Rushton, J. (2021). Societal impacts of pandemics: Comparing covid-19 with history to focus our response. Frontiers. Retrieved August 1, 2022, from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2021.630449/full
Release the Kraken. Wiktionary. (n.d.). Retrieved August 1, 2022, from https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/release_the_kraken