As we have discussed in the past, the large majority of American's live paycheck to paycheck. American's do not lack for a vehicle to invest savings in for retirement (Roth IRA's, IRA's, 401k's, SEP's, etc.) but lack the ability to save. The problem that needs to be addressed is from the economic front. With 92.8 million individuals excluded from the work force, 1 in 3 American's on some sort of Government assistance, stagnant wage growth over the last 5 years and 1 in 5 on food stamps, the issue is about employment rather than saving. Solve the employment problem in America and the retirement savings dilemma will begin to resolve itself. It seemed to me that the entire point of the MyRA was really more of about getting "votes" than actually helping middle class American's substantially change their retirement futures.
The problem is twofold. First, current accounts are a zero sum game, so future improvements in emerging market trade balances have to come at someone else’s expense. Second, we have had, over the past year, only modest growth in global trade; so if EM balances are to improve markedly, somebody’s will have to deteriorate. When the 1994-95 “tequila crisis” struck, the US current account deficit widened to allow for Mexico to adjust. The same thing happened in 1997 with the Asian crisis, in 2001 when Argentina blew, and in 2003 when SARS crippled Asia. In 1998, oil prices took the brunt of the adjustment as Russia hit the skids. In 2009-10, it was China’s turn to step up to the plate, with a stimulus-spurred import binge that meaningfully reduced its current account surplus. Which brings us to today and the question of who will adjust their growth lower (through a deterioration in their trade balances) to make some room for Argentina, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, Indonesia...? There are really five candidates...
With President Obama’s State of the Union Address and its associated campaign prominently featuring increased minimum wage, tired arguments for raising the minimum wage are being once again retreaded. Unfortunately, they compound failures of logic, measurement and evidence.
(Just yesterday, the government there announced that the Chinese renminbi (among other currencies) will become legal tender in Zimbabwe.)
Here's the global financial crisis in a nutshell: access to easy credit can solve a temporary liquidity problem, but it can't increase the value of collateral or generate income. Once the liquidity typhoon dies down, the insolvent pigs will plummet back to earth. That's what we're seeing in the periphery economies and shadow banking systems around the world.
Housing Bubble 2.0: "More Flipping, Bigger Profits, In Less Time" With 156,862 Homes Flipped In 2013Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/30/2014 11:43 -0400
The topic of home flipping is not new here ("Flip That House" In These Bubbling Cities, Housing Bubble 2.0 Edition: "25 Markets Where Flipping Homes Is Most Profitable", etc) - indeed that best-known flashback of the last housing bubble is easily one of the best indications just how fragile the current housing bubble truly is as investors gobble up real estate not with the intention of keeping it but merely to sell to the next greater fool, in the process setting marginal prices based purely on the availability of cheap money, money which has now been tapered by $20 billion in the past two months. However, to get the full picture on just how pervasive "house flipping" has become, we go to the source, RealtyTrac, which has just released its 2013 summary of this troubling trend.
The problem, though, is that once you embrace the Narrative of Central Bank Omnipotence to "explain" recent events, you can't compartmentalize it there. If the pattern of post-crisis Emerging Market growth rates is largely explained by US monetary accommodation or lack thereof ... well, the same must be true for pre-crisis Emerging Market growth rates. The inexorable conclusion is that Emerging Market growth rates are a function of Developed Market central bank liquidity measures and monetary policy, and that all Emerging Markets are, to one degree or another, Greece-like in their creation of unsustainable growth rates on the back of 20 years of The Great Moderation (as Bernanke referred to the decline in macroeconomic volatility from accommodative monetary policy) and the last 4 years of ZIRP. It was Barzini all along!
"On the one hand and in a stable state, tapering should lead to a gradual ‘normalization’ of yield levels – which mean that the 10 year should (assuming no crisis) ‘gradually’ trades toward nominal GDP minus some liquidity premium. However, ... should concerns build that global growth and inflationary expectations begin to drop too much (either due to Fed Taper or Geo-events), then Treasury values will recalibrate and yields could drop precipitously to 2.5%. If things got really bad, yields could fall quite a bit further."
If the Fed doesn't "save us" this afternoon - I don't know what will.
People have a strange habit of ridiculing economics for its assumptions and [benchmark] models of optimality. While modern mathematical economics (i.e., professional mathturbation) admittedly rely on sometimes outrageous assumptions that make most of the resulting predictions irrelevant, there is nothing ridiculous or unscientific about economic reasoning. This is the problem of relying on induction, and while it might work well in the natural sciences, and is less reliable but likely more beneficial than not in applied natural science (such as medicine), it is impossible in the social sciences.
The Federal Reserve is the primary engine of income/wealth inequality in the U.S. Eliminate "free money for cronies," bailouts of the "too big to fail" banks that own the Fed, manipulation of markets, the purchase of impaired private assets at high prices, and all the other tools of financialization the Fed wields to enforce its grip on the nation's throat--in other words, abolish the Fed--and the neofeudal structure that feeds inequality will vanish along with the feudal lords that enforced it. We don't need to "fix" things as much as remove the obstacles that are blocking the way forward. The Federal Reserve is the primary obstacle to reducing income/wealth inequality.
With food-stamp recipients dominated by 'working age Americans' for the first time in history; and 1.4 million having recently dropped off the benefits rolls, we suspect, extremely sadly, that the following breakdown of homelessness in America is about to get worse. Los Angeles has by far the greatest number of unsheltered homeless in America and New York City the largest population - at around 65,000 - of homeless people in the US. One wonders at the State of the Union tomorrow...
With emerging markets in panic mode, investors are bound to be reminded of the enduring observation, first made by a 19th century British businessman named John Mills, that: “Panics do not destroy capital; they merely reveal the extent to which it has been previously destroyed by its betrayal in hopelessly unproductive works.” With that in mind, investors seem happy to link the ongoing emerging market sell-off to either a) China’s large capital misallocation triggered by the 2008-11 credit boom or b) the Federal Reserve’s promise to start tapering last May, followed up now by the real thing. But could there perhaps be another explanation?
If we break below these... LOOK OUT BELOW.
The forest (the economy) can only remain vibrant and healthy if the dead wood is burned off in bankruptcy and insolvency. Retail commercial real estate is over-built and over-leveraged. If it is allowed to burn off as Nature intended, we can finally move forward.