Why the U.S. is heading for hyperinflation — and what will happen when it arrives Bonds will be losers, stock picking trickier and high-priced tech stocks a sell, writes Frank Giustra. So how can you protect yourself from the coming disaster?


U.S. job openings fell in April to the lowest level since 2021. But they remained at historically strong levels despite high interest rates and signs the economy is slowing.

The Labor Department reported Tuesday that employers posted 8.1 million vacancies in April, down from a revised 8.4 million in March. The March figures had originally come in at 8.5 million.

Still, layoffs fell, and the number of Americans quitting their jobs — a sign of confidence in their prospects — rose in April.

Monthly job openings have come down steadily a peak of 12.2 million in March 2022 — as the economy’s recovery from COVID-19 lockdowns left companies desperate for workers — but they remain at a high level. Before 2021, they never topped 8 million — a threshold they have now reached for 38 straight months.

The high level of job openings reflects a surprisingly strong U.S. labor market. When the Federal Reserve began raising interest rates in March 2022 to combat a resurgence in inflation, the higher borrowing costs were expected to tip the economy into recession and push up unemployment.

Instead, the economy kept growing and employers continued to hire. The United States has averaged a solid 234,000 new jobs a month over the last year. On Friday, the Labor Department is expected to report that employers added another 180,000 jobs, according to a survey of forecasters by the data firm FactSet.

The unemployment rate is expected to come in at 3.9%, which would be the 28th straight month it’s been below 4%. That would be the longest such streak since a 35-month run from 1951 through 1953 during the Korean War.

Still, high rates are taking a toll. The economy grew at an annual rate of just 1.3% from January through March, the slowest since spring 2022. Much of the first-quarter slowdown was caused by volatile factors such as a surge in imports and a reduction in business inventories. Consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of U.S. economic activity, kept growing but at a slower annual pace — 2%, down from 3.3% in the last three months of 2023.

The economy had been expected to get a lift from lower rates. The Fed signaled that it planned to cut its benchmark rate three times this year. But the start of the cuts keeps getting pushed back because inflation remains stubbornly above the central bank’s 2% target.

Now Wall Street investors don’t expect the first cut until the Fed’s September meeting, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

Fed policymakers likely welcome lower job openings — a relatively painless way to cool a hot job market and reduce pressure on companies to raise wages, which can feed inflation.

“Overall, job openings are still elevated, signaling strong demand for workers,’' said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. ”But they continue to move in the right direction, towards pre-pandemic readings, pointing to an ongoing normalization between supply and demand for labor.’'

It’s dangerous. It’s addictive. Get off your phone.

Kids constantly hear about the downsides of social media from the adults in their lives, often in the form of dire warnings and commands. However these adults did not grow up with social media themselves.

They didn’t get a phone handed to them as toddlers, just to keep them quiet in a restaurant. They didn’t join TikTok’s predecessor Musica.ly and do silly dances before they even learned to read. They didn’t have their schools shut down in a global pandemic, their connections to friends and peers relegated to phone and computer screens.

Kids coming of age with social media are forging ahead in a whole new world. And now that they are getting older, they have some advice for their younger peers.

Here’s what they wish they knew when they first got online.

“You don’t have to share everything”

“It’s so easy to look at your friends’ stories and feel this feeling of FOMO, of missing out and comparing yourself, like: ‘Oh, my friend just got a new car.’ It’s like this overwhelming sense of comparison. But the things that people post on social media, it’s just the highlight reel, like the 1% of their life that they want to showcase to other people.”

—Bao Le, 18, a freshman at Vanderbilt University

“Don’t take it too seriously”

“My main point of advice would be not to take it too seriously. Be yourself. I feel like what I was exposed to as a 12-year-old was much more limited than what is accessible to 12–12-year-olds nowadays. Younger kids want to be who they idolize. And when the TikTok stars or the social media stars are 20, 18, 16, they’re going to want to be like them. You’re getting younger kids who are now obsessing over products and brands, and it’s just getting really hard to be young. And it shouldn’t be really hard to be young. You should be enjoying childhood. And we shouldn’t be rushing to grow up. It’s OK to be 12. It’s OK to be young. It’s OK to enjoy childhood.”

—Doreen Malata, 22, a senior at the University of Maryland

“How addictive it is”

“It seems like it would be really easy to just put your phone down and stop scrolling. But it is not. If there was advice that I could give to my younger self, it would be to tell my parents to set up time limits for me — even though I would have never said that when I was starting social media. Also, I personally would not let my kid have TikTok. I would try to resist it as long as I could. It’s so addictive.”

—Sienna Keene, 17, a high school senior in Orinda, California

“Take a social media detox”

“When you first get these apps, it hits you — like, BOOM, there is so much content. Styles, fashion models. It really impacts you heavily when you first get it, this feeling of: ‘How do they do it? How do they look like this? How do they get clothes like that?’ When you’re new to social media, these trends can overtake you. I started to use screentime (monitoring) on my phone and limit the amount of time I am on social media. I’ve been taking phone detoxes. On weekends, I’ll take a social media detox for 10 hours or the majority of the day. I’ll hang out with my family, and ride my bike. I only have notifications for my messages and workspaces. I don’t have any notifications on for social media apps.”

—Ava Havidic, 18, a high school senior in Broward County, Florida

“You are the one in control”

“Often I hear the term ‘social media user,’ but I felt like I was being used by social media. I had this routine of scrolling mindlessly through TikTok, just scrolling and scrolling and comparing myself to other people. It ultimately really affected my body image, my perception of what was considered beautiful or accepted into society. But the only thing I was getting out of social media was feeling fatigued, or I would feel sad.

“You can use social media to amplify your passions, but in order to do that you need to do a lot of work outside of social media, to discover who you are as a person, what matters to you, and what contributions you can make to the world.”

—Lea Nepomuceno, 18, a freshman at George Washington University

“It’s a waste of time”

“I would say just don’t use it. It’s kind of a waste of time. You’re just having conversations about pointless things, random pop culture stuff. It just sucks your time. You’re not really getting anything out of it, just short-term satisfaction. It’s kind of meaningless. I know this is kind of outlandish, but I feel like there should be some sort of age limit because I don’t think children should be on the internet.”

—Mikael Makonnen, 18, a freshman at American University

“A lot of it is not real”

“A lot of people make their life artificial so that they’re perceived in a certain way. And I think going into social media, I wish I knew it is a tool to learn from. There’s so much information, and you’re able to learn so much about different things. ... I wish people had that outlook rather than the whole idea of other people viewing you and having to be seen a certain way.”

Nour Mahmoud, 21, a junior at Virginia Commonwealth University

“It’s OK to put up boundaries and block someone”

“You can’t scroll on TikTok or look through Instagram without seeing supermodels who have edited their photos and are promoting unrealistic beauty standards. I don’t want to see these girls who pretend to be fitness influencers but are just promoting an eating disorder like “body checking” on my feed. That is one thing I wish I knew when I started: that it is OK to not want to look at that or want to consume it. It’s OK to protect yourself and your own body image. Another thing I wish I knew is that not everyone on social media is your friend. When you are young and impressionable and people are reaching out to you, just know that not everyone is as friendly as you think they are.”

—Madeleine Maestre, 18, a freshman at Santa Clara University

The Amazon Labor Union, a grassroots labor group that won a major victory at an Amazon warehouse two years ago, has agreed to affiliate with the Teamsters union, a move that’s bound to inject new energy into the struggling organization.

Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien announced the affiliation during the union’s general executive board meeting in Washington on Tuesday, the union wrote in a post on X.

If ratified, members of the Amazon Labor Union, which belongs to one warehouse located in the New York City borough of Staten Island, will essentially join the Teamsters as an “autonomous” local union with the same rights and duties as a standard chapter, according to the agreement.

The Teamsters said its board has already unanimously approved the affiliation, a step that will bring them closer to their goal of unionizing Amazon’s non-corporate workforce.

Amazon Labor Union President Chris Smalls wrote in a post on X that the labor group was combining forces “with one of the most powerful unions to take on Amazon together.”

“Our message is clear we want a Contract and we want it now,” Smalls wrote, referring to the union contract his organization still hasn’t been able to secure more than two years after becoming the only one to ever pull off a labor win at Amazon warehouse in the U.S.

Since then, the ALU has faced many other challenges, including two election losses at other Amazon warehouses and internal strife about its organizing strategy. Some organizers have left to form the ALU Democratic Reform Caucus, a dissident group that sued the union last year to force an election for new leadership. That election is expected to be held in July outside of the warehouse that voted to unionize, said Arthur Schwartz, an attorney who represents the dissident group.

Already, the agreement announced by the leaders of both organizations is facing pushback from the caucus. Schwartz said the Teamsters have indicated they want the ALU membership to ratify the new agreement before the union holds its internal leadership election in July. But he said that will pose a challenge because the ALU currently doesn’t have an updated list of members, which the caucus has been seeking for the internal election that’s currently underway.

Representatives for Amazon and the Teamsters did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

In the opinion piece I wrote last week, I warned of a looming financial crisis in the U.S. (and other Western nations) fuelled by spiraling debt, money printing, and a broken political system — and that most people will be unprepared.

Although much of the population is anxious, no one can imagine a worst-case scenario, simply because, unlike my parents’ generation, our generation has never experienced the effects of a depression, hyperinflation, or war. The sad reality is that history has shown us that these cycles occur every 70 to 100 years and the patterns leading up to these crises are recognizable. 

Unlike most individuals in the West, the rest of the world is preparing for a worst-case outcome. The Ukraine and Gaza wars have split the global community into competing camps: the West and the East, the G7 and the BRICS Plus nations. The Global South is trying to stay neutral but increasingly, Russia and China are pulling ahead in the war for the hearts and minds of many poorer nations. 

The biggest battle in this East versus West confrontation will be over the U.S. dollar’s reserve status. The idea that the dollar will remain the supreme currency no matter what because ‘there is no alternative’ (TINA) is being quickly disproven, and the U.S. is now witnessing ‘the ugly new alternatives’ (TUNA). Nations around the world are increasingly turning to other mechanisms to trade outside the U.S. dollar system and replacing U.S. dollar reserves with gold bullion. 

Printing money will be a vicious, uncontrollable cycle

So, how will a major crisis manifest itself? Firstly, as the U.S. runs out of foreign buyers for its Treasuries, the Fed will need to step in as it has in the past and become the buyer of last resort, but this time in much greater quantities. To do this it will have to print money — a lot of money.

Further money printing will scare away remaining buyers of U.S. debt, which will require higher long-term rates to compensate for the additional risk, which will in turn require even more money printing by the Fed to keep rates down becoming a vicious and uncontrollable cycle.

Once it is evident the spiral is uncontrollable, panic will set in and that’s when hyperinflation will come into play. What happens after that is difficult to predict and almost too scary to talk about: Societal implosion and external conflicts are just a couple of possible outcomes. None of it is pretty. 

Once U.S. policymakers sense an impending crisis, they will move swiftly to protect the system. And that means sacrificing the individual. Every nation has rolled out the same playbook throughout history. We will see capital controls, meaning you cannot convert your U.S. dollars to other currencies or export your money outside the country.

Even scarier, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Act passed by Congress in 2010 eliminated the option of bank bailouts, but opened the door for bank bail-ins. Simply put, bail-ins mean the banks can confiscate your deposits if they run into financial trouble. 

Your portfolio should be heavily skewed to hard assets

Finding ways to protect yourself from an impending crisis is not an easy task as there are so many variables to consider, and each one might require a different action. That said, it’s fair to say that the 60/40 traditional stock/bond portfolio is no longer valid.

Owning bonds is a guaranteed losing proposition in an inflationary environment. Stock picking will be a lot trickier than the passive ETF investing strategy many are accustomed to. I would rotate out of overpriced tech stocks and move into more defensive stocks. Your portfolio should be heavily skewed to hard assets, including commodities such as metals, energy, and food which have traditionally done well in inflationary times.

Geography is important as well. U.S. stocks are extremely overvalued as compared to emerging markets. It’s also perfectly legal to have bank accounts in other jurisdictions denominated in other currencies. This might provide protection in the event of capital controls.

That said, owning other currencies is not the best way to store value. Most fiat currencies are in a devaluation race to the bottom. Choosing one currency over another is like choosing between a cruise on the Bismarck or the Titanic. Of course, you need to have some cash in your portfolio in the event of a severe market crash which may precede or follow high inflation. 

Which leads us to gold. 

I may sound like a broken record, but I have not been wrong during the past two decades. Gold has outperformed stocks and bonds since 2001 and it will continue to perform, only now at an accelerated rate. When all else fails, gold is, and always has been, the last man standing — a hedge against human stupidity.

How high gold can go is anyone’s guess

Non-Western central banks and individual investors in BRICS nations have been buying large quantities of physical gold at an accelerating rate. They see the writing on the wall. In our part of the world, we are warned off gold by Wall Street and the financial media that is their mouthpiece. 

How high gold can go is anyone’s guess. It is a function of how far fiat currencies will fall. Here are a few data points to consider as a reminder of how gold performs against failing currencies. In Turkey, the gold price has gone up sevenfold in three years in lira terms.

In Argentina, it’s gone up 10-fold. Even in yen terms, it has doubled. Furthermore, had I told you in 1971 that gold would go up 27-fold in 10 years, would you have believed me? Well, it did. Ditto, if in 2001 I predicted it would go up eightfold in the next decade? The past is a powerful teacher.

For ultimate security, I recommend investing in physical gold, whether in bars or coins. The fine print in gold ETFs’ prospectuses ensures that in a crisis, your gold will not be available when you need it most. If you are willing to take on additional risk, own some gold mining shares with a low cost of production. 

All of this may make me sound like Chicken Little, but I urge you to dust off your history books. It’s all there in black and white. Technology may advance, but human nature stays the same. It would be prudent to prepare yourself. Anything less is reckless. 

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