"Over the last couple of decades, we have been engaged in an enormous national experiment, taking impressionable and often ignorant teenagers and young adults and seeing just how much student loan debt they can handle.There is a practical question at hand for people who feel as if they are in over their heads: Is it ever a good idea to try to beat the system by openly defying it and refusing to repay the debt that you willingly took on?"
After 27 years, honest price discovery has been destroyed, thereby reducing the nerve centers of capitalism - the money and capital markets - to little more than gambling casinos. Accordingly, speculative rent-seeking in the financial arena has replaced enterprenurial innovation and supply side investment and productivity as the modus operandi of the US economy. This has resulted in a severe diminution of main street growth and a massive redistribution of windfall wealth to the tiny share of households which own most of the financial assets. Warren Buffett’s $73 billion net worth is the poster boy for this untoward state of affairs. The massive and systematic falsification of asset prices which lies at the heart of this deformation of capitalism is a direct and unavoidable consequence of monetary central planning.
During the last 27 years the financial system has ballooned dramatically while the US economy has slowed to a crawl - a divergent trend that has intensified with the passage of time. While the rationale for monetary central planning is bogus, the model on which state intervention is based is even more invalid.
According to the BLS, after a torrid 2014, in which there was a 24% surge in beef prices which central planners blamed on everything except their policies, in May the Beef and Veal price index just rose to a new all time high of 260.8, up 12.3% from a year ago, and up 30% in the past two years.
If there were a robust jobs expansion starting early last year, then it must be considered more than somewhat suspect this year so far. Nonconformity in hires, quits and now layoffs call further into question both openings and the overall employment narrative, not the least of which traces back to the fact that they all share the same benchmark and subjective biases.
20 years ago this month, Bill Clinton unveiled the National Home Ownership Strategy, a 100-point plan designed to drive the home ownership rate in America to all-time highs. The plan succeeded — and now it has unraveled completely.
"Qualified households will be unable to move from renting to owning as housing-cost burdens, slow wage growth and student debt make it harder to cobble together even a modest down payment," WSJ says. As homeownership becomes increasingly unrealistic, demand for rentals will only increase, driving further increases in the cost of rental housing. The question then becomes this: what happens when a family that can't afford a down payment can no longer afford to pay the rent?
In the latest jobs report we find the following stunner: since the start of the Second Great Depression, the US has added 2.3 million "foreign-born" workers, offset by just 727K "native-born". This means that the "recovery" has almost entirely benefited foreign-born workers, to the tune fo 3 to 1 relative to native-born Americans!
It’s the breakdown of jobs by age that really screams out. It is a known fact that people in the 45 to 54 age bracket are in their prime earning and spending years. In the last year the number of employed 45 to 54 year olds has DECLINED by 67,000. It DECLINED in May by 51,000. It has DECLINED by 187,000 since February. It is a known fact that people over 55 dramatically reduce their spending as they approach and enter their retirement years. The Boomers have added 824,000 jobs in the last year, or 28% of all the new jobs added.
The last time the Establishment Survey was as robust as the past year or so was 1999; then, the average productivity was 3.7%! That number actually makes sense intuitively, since businesses would have good reason to go on a hiring spree. Porting that to the current period, as in the mathematical construction of productivity here, would mean, holding output constant, that total hours in the past five quarters would have been not +2.7% but -1.7%. These numbers literally do not add up.
All key asset classes are at or near a key inflection point: either yields breach through resistance levels and send risk lower across the board over inflation fears, or bond volatility comes crashing down and allowing the "wealth effect" stock rally to continue.
One of the defining features of jobs "recovery" and the main reason why wage growth has been so far below the Fed's expectations for years it has prevented wage inflation from appearing despite years of QE, is that the quality of jobs added month after month has disappointing. May was no difference. Yes, the headline print of 280K job additions was great, but a quick look at how the BLS got there shows that nothing has changed because four of the five main job additions were, as usual for the lowest paid jobs.
Contrary to expectations of a modest 226K increase in nonfarm payrolls, according to the BLS in May the US added a whopping 280K jobs, with the April print revised from 223K to 221K, but March revised higher from 85K to 119K. This was the highest monthly increase in payrolls since December of 2014. The unemployment rate rose from 5.4% to 5.5% on the number, as the number of employed Americans according to the Household Survey also rose by an almost equal 272K.
The most important not yet double seasonally-adjusted economic datapoint is upon us: in 90 minutes the BLS will report the May payrolls number which consensus expects to rise by 225K, (range of 140K to 305K), barely unchanged from April's 223K. The meaningless unemployment rate is expected to remain unchanged at 5.4%, even as the number of people not in the labor force likely will rise to a new record high. The most important variable, however, will be the hourly earnings with consensus expecting a 0.2% increase for all workers (the non-supervisory workers category is a different story entirely), up from the 0.1% increase in April.
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.