If there are two things that are scarce in the US it’s good jobs and affordable housing. But all is not lost, because apparently, there are some places in America where the Goldilocks combination of good jobs and affordable housing actually exists.
For all who are still confused why there are no wage hikes despite the Fed's relentless efforts to micromanage the economy and stimulate wage growth via trickle-down record high stock market prices, the answer is that there is wage growth. Just not for 83% of the working population. Now, with pundits parroting the “robust” jobs market refrain on the nightly news, “everyday Americans” are beginning to ask “where’s my raise?”
According to just released final data by the BLS, in Q1 labor productivity barely rose, growing 0.3% in Q1, following a -0.1% drop in the fourth quarter. Worse, on a sequential basis, productivity dipped by a -0.8% in Q1 (a 3.1% SAAR), after a -0.5% drop (-1.9% SAAR) in Q4. This is the first sequential drop in nonfarm productivity in 22 years, or since 1993!
That, in a nutshell, is also the real reason the US economy refuses to grow no matter how many billions in liquidity the Fed stuffs into it.
Given the rather depressing plight of the average US laborer, it’s little wonder that some workers are inclined to “alter their mood” a bit before punching the clock. Indeed, over the past 24 months, a decades-old trend towards falling workplace drug usage has reversed itself, with 4% of workers now testing positive for either legal or illegal drug use.
It is hard to believe that in these allegedly enlightened times this question even needs to be asked. Are there really educated adults who believe that by dropping helicopter money conjured from thin air, the central bank can actually make society wealthier? Well, yes there are. They spread this lunacy from the most respectable MSM platforms.
"Cook also told these millennials, 'Don't shrink from risk.' That's a musty old standard for commencement addresses: Find your passion, follow your dreams, take some risks, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. It cannot be lost among the most discerning grads that these commencement tips are coming from a generation that left them with crushing student debt, a wobbly job market, unaffordable real estate and cities increasingly ablaze."
Promptly upon release of today’s GDP update, Steve Liesman and his Wall Street economist pals spent 10 minutes bloviating about why the negative print should be completely ignored. The MSM cheerleaders like Liesman and his pals cannot see the handwriting on the wall because central bank bubble finance has essentially abolished the old rules of macro-economics. Someone should tell them that an economic deja vu is about to happen... all over again!
One might be predisposed to thinking that monetary policies aimed explicitly at inflating prices for the assets most likely to be concentrated in the hands of the wealthy would have a high likelihood of exacerbating the wealth divide. Not so, says Ben Bernanke in a new blog post. "Certainly, inequality and lack of social mobility are issues of first-order significance for economic policy in general. Should they also be first-order considerations for the making of monetary policy? I have my doubts."
Yesterday Japan amazed everyone when it reported that its unemployment rate had dropped yet again, this time to 3.3%, the lowest since April 1997. The paradox is that while the number of Japan's unemployed dropped by 20,000, the number of those employed plunged by 280,000! Or as Goldman calls, it "growth in jobholders looks to have peaked amid a lack of recovery momentum in the economy"
Before today's announcement, Charter had a market cap of $20 billion, less than half of Time Warner Cable's $48 billion. Or shown another way: a company with 6.3 million total subs is buying a company with 15.4 million subscribers.
It's official: after seeing it work so well for years in China, the US Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Statistics has officially replaced all of its excel models with just one function. The following.
If any evidence was needed that the market is dying at the zero bound, it came in this week’s violent 15-minute rip when the algos read the Fed’s release to mean there will be no rate hike in June. It put you in mind of monetary rigor mortis - the last spasm of something that’s already dead but doesn’t know it. The Great Financial Bubble dying at the zero bound has been inflating with just three interruptions - 1987, 2000 and 2008-09 - for the last 33 years. As a result, the market value of stocks, bonds and other debts have simply become decoupled from national income.
We have all read the latest crop of media articles challenging gold’s investment relevance. The typical approach to bearish gold analysis is to attribute hypothetical fears to gold investors, and then point out these concerns have failed to materialize. Sprott believes the investment thesis for gold is a bit more complex than simplistic motivations commonly cited in financial press. We would suggest gold’s relatively methodical advance since the turn of the millennium has had less to do with investor fears of hyperinflation or U.S. dollar collapse than it has with persistent desire to allocate a small portion of global wealth away from traditional financial assets and the fiat currencies in which they are priced.
That the Fed and other central banks have unleashed the speculative furies is an unassailable and baleful reality. What is going on here plain and simple is a one-sided game of chicken. The robo-traders and hedge fund buccaneers on Wall Street press the market higher on virtually no volume or conviction whenever macro-economic weakness presents itself, virtually daring the Fed to maintain is ultra-accommodative stance still longer. The casino gamblers will keep chop, chop choppin’ higher until they finally lose confidence that the Eccles building is heaven’s door to further riches. Then the machines will sell, sell, sell. There will be no credible Fed speakers to stop them.
Many activists are clamoring for a higher minimum wage. That's an admirable goal, but is that where the worst problem is? Even at the abysmally low wages of the present moment, we still have 938,000 people being turned away from McDonald's because there aren't enough McJobs. The real problem is the lack of meaningful work. In a world of machines and social alienation, meaningful work is as scarce as water in the drought-stricken California Central Valley.