Holiday Spending Season Begins With Decline At Brick-And-Mortar Outlets Offset By Jump In Online PurchasesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/30/2014 11:24 -0500
There was much hope for America's struggling brick-and-mortar retail outlets that aided by plunging gasoline prices, Americans would come out in droves to chase Black Friday (and increasingly Thanksgiving) blockbuster deals on the ground across America's increasingly troubled shopping malls and retail outlets. And while there was the usual hysteria on select occasions (see this post for video evidence), for yet another year American shoppers spent slightly less money during Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday than across the same two days in 2013, according to research firm ShopperTrak. Sales at brick-and-mortar retail stores came to about $12.29 billion on Thursday and Friday, a 0.5% decrease to the $12.35 billion spent during the same two days last year.
The frenzied acquisition of more stuff is supposed to be an unalloyed good: good for "growth," good for the consumer who presumably benefits from more stuff and good for governments collecting taxes on the purchase of all the stuff. But the frenzy to acquire more stuff raises a question: do we own our stuff, or does our stuff own us?
You can’t force people to spend, not if you’re a government, not if you’re a central bank. And if you try regardless, chances are you wind up scaring people into even less spending. That’s the perfect picture of Japan right there. There’s no such thing as central bank omnipotence, and this is where that shows maybe more than anywhere else. And if you can’t force people to spend, you can’t create growth either, so that myth is thrown out with the same bathwater in one fell swoop. Some may say and think deflation is a good thing, but I say deflation kills economies and societies. Deflation is not about lower prices, it’s about lower spending. Which will down the line lead to lower prices, but then the damage has already been done, it’s just that nobody noticed, because everyone thinks inflation and deflation are about prices, and therefore looks exclusively at prices.
The final days of US empire are fast approaching. Perhaps its end will pass slowly and gradually, or perhaps the event will unfold rapidly and catastrophically. Maybe chaos will break loose, or maybe its demise will be organized well and proceed smoothly. This nobody knows, but the end of empire is coming as surely as day follows night and sun follows rain. Overexpansion, overreach and over-indebtedness will take their toll—as all past empires have discovered.
Western dominance was born from a distrust in the dominant reserve currency at the time. Its decline will be because they followed the same route. And the canary in the coal mine is what’s happening in Switzerland this weekend.
"Gold Is A 6,000 Year Old Bubble" - Citi's Dutch Strategist Throws Up All Over Gold, Days After Dutch Gold RepatriationSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/27/2014 17:40 -0500
"Gold is the world’s most persistent bubble: 6,000 years old and going strong" - Citigroup's Willem Buiter.
Dear Willem, thank you for that valiant effort. After reading a few thousands words of shallow propaganda we understand your "confusion": our advice, if you want to understand what gold really is, read the following from Kyle Bass: "Buying gold is just buying a put against the idiocy of the political cycle. It's That Simple." Because if there is a bubble that is even bigger and longer than the "6000-year-old gold bubble" it is that of human corruption, greed, and idiocy. And that doesn't even include the stupidity of those who don't grasp this simple truth.
It's not a bubble. Until it is...
Since moral hazard - the disconnect of risk and consequence - is the fundamental cause of the global meltdown of 2008, the only solution is to eliminate moral hazard. By this we mean de-institutionalizing moral hazard. But de-institutionalizing moral hazard means smashing the vested interests' primary engine of wealth and political power. Playing monetary games has done nothing to eliminate moral hazard; indeed, playing monetary games cannot possibly eliminate moral hazard, as monetary policy enforces moral hazard.
First Germany, then the Netherlands, perhaps Switzerland this weekend, and now the French right-wing Front National, which shockingly came first in May's European parliament elections, and whose leader Marine Le Pen is currently polling in first place in a hypothetical presidential election (in both a first and run off round), ahead of president Hollande, has sent a letter to the governor of the French Central Bank, the Banque de France, demanding that France join the list of nations which have repatriated, or at least tried to, their gold.
All the stimulus, all $50 trillion or so globally, has been thrown into the fire, and look at where we are. There’s nothing left, and there won’t be another $50 trillion. Sure, stock markets set records. But who cares with oil at $40? Calling for more QE, from Japan and/or Europe or even grandma Yellen, is either entirely useless or will work only to prop up stock markets for a very short time. Diminishing returns. The one word that comes to mind here is bloodbath.
Why is Bitcoin dangerous and of little intrinsic value? Because my local Central Banker Told Me So! - OR - The lasting message from the highly Centralized, Centrally Planned, Central Banks of the World? "We think, so you don't have to!"
All that the Fed, BoJ (Bank of Japan), the Bank of England etc. have been concerned with is the preservation of private banks and the continued propping up of stock markets. None of these institutions really care about the real-world economy, real-world inflation or the ability of individuals to maintain their lives in a prolonged period of economic contraction. When you couple high real inflation with stagnation or reduction in wages over the years since the 2008 crash then real-world buying power of most individuals is drastically reduced. This doesn’t just make people depressed, it makes them angry – hardworking people do not expect or deserve to be thrust into poverty.
"This last 1900 point Dow Jones push upwards - and the Ebola events leading into it - it was so orchestrated and heightened at critical points but the ascent and push straight up in price, and sideways nonreaction after was completely unlike anything I've seen before. After going up for a record-breaking amount of time the last five or so years, in a nonlinear exponential mania type of ascent, there should normally be tremendous volatility that follows... After this year and especially this last 1900 point Dow run up in October, and post non-reaction, that I am 100 percent confident that that one buyer is our own Federal Reserve or other central banks with a goal to "stimulate" our economy by directly buying stock index futures."
Lately, we hear a lot about Orwell’s “1984? and Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” but perhaps the best crystal ball to our current state of affairs is Plato’s Republic. You see both Rand and Orwell were describing a world outside of themselves. A world they couldn’t understand or accept. And while those works are brilliant and incredibly prophetic, I expect that to understand a world borne of narcissistic sociopathy one must examine the construct of such a world by a narcissistic sociopath.
In the final part of Hugh Hendry's 3-part (part 1 and part 2 here) interview with MoneyWeek's Merryn Somerset the Sanguine Scot, perhaps surprisingly to some given his previous negativity - though fitting with his world view of fiat currency destruction - believes "to bet against China or Chinese equities, or the Chinese currency is to bet against the omnipotence of central banks. One day that will be the right trade, just not ready or sure that that is the right trade today."