Cash For Clunkers

John Taylor's Must Read Op-Ed Calling For The Great Reset

John Taylor, the "Fed Chairman who should have been", has penned a terrific op-ed in the WSJ. Advocating nothing short of a great reset, this is one of today's must read pieces: "If government interventions are the economic problem, then the solution is to unwind them. Some lament that with the high debt and bloated Fed balance sheet, we have run out of monetary and fiscal ammunition, but this may be a blessing in disguise. The way forward is not more spending, greater debt and continued zero-interest rates, but spending control and a return to free-market principles. Unfortunately, as the recent debate over the debt limit indicates, narrow political partisanship can get in the way of a solution. The historical evidence on what works and what doesn't is not partisan. The harmful interventionist policies of the 1970s were supported by Democrats and Republicans alike. So were the less interventionist polices in the 1980s and '90s. So was the recent interventionist revival, and so can be the restoration of less interventionist policy going forward. "

Guest Post: A Fistful Of Dollars - Part Two

It is not easy to destroy the greatest empire in the history of mankind. The 20th Century was the American Century, but as with all empires, the combination of hubris, monetary debasement, imperial overreach and delusional overconfidence have set in motion the inevitable downfall of the American Empire. The policies, decisions, beliefs, and institutions implemented over decades have led the country to the threshold of financial disaster. Based on my observations, a catastrophic combination of demographics, fiat currency debasement, titanic levels of debt, smothering taxation, power in the hands of the few and Wall Street greed have led us to peak Empire. It will be downhill from here as we experience collapse, revolution and ultimately, retribution for the guilty and presumed guilty. I have already addressed the Baby Boomer generation’s contribution to our current plight, to the delight and accolades of Boomers across the land in For a Few Dollars More – Part One. The Boomers were a victim of their size and the timing of their arrival on the scene of empire collapse. Their delusions of debt based wealth and me first attitude could not have been satiated without the creation of the Federal Reserve and the institution of the personal income tax in 1913.

Bad News For GM: As China's Own "Cash For Clunkers" Program Ends, Car Sales Come Far Below Expectations; BYD Sales Plunge

Two months ago we reported that the recently bailed out Unionized Carmaker, for whom China (where they apparently do not care about falling steering wheels) has become a market more important than even the US, had seen some jarring demand weakness, following a 10% drop in January sales. We now learn that GM was not only the beneficiary of last year's Cash For Clunkers program in the US, but has been the recipient of recent incentives offered in the domestic Chinese market. Alas those are now over, and as Bloomberg reports "China’s passenger-car sales grew in March at a pace that was below forecasts after incentives ended and fuel prices rose, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said." That's putting it mildly: for an economy in which a growth rate of 10% is considered stagnating, what happened in March was equivalent to a drubbing: "Dispatches of cars including multipurpose vehicles and sport-utility vehicles to dealerships rose 6.52 percent from a year earlier to 1.3 million units, the association said in a statement today. That pace was about one-tenth of the 63 percent sales increase reported in March of last year." Which brings us to the question of the day: how does one spell "short GM" in Mandarin? Yet the irony of the day award goes to Charlie Munger, who may or may not have been completely "open" with his purchase of BYD shares: BYD sales plunge in March by 41% (Y/Y). Suck it in, Charlie.

Lear Capital: The Future of QE and Gold

Everyday Congressman Paul Ryan steals a few headlines with his plan to balance the Federal Budget. Ryan's plan is to cut $650 billion a year from the deficit.

To get a better feel for what this really means, let's take a few steps back to the beginning of the credit crisis. To rescue banks and stimulate the economy, the budget deficit increased from $455 billion in 2008 to $1.416 trillion in 2009. This deficit funded TARP and a variety of stimulus efforts from Cash for Clunkers to Energy Efficient Appliance credits.

Guest Post: Top 10 Keynesian Ways To Boost The US Economy

Keynesian economists are propagandizing the media with a unified message; in one breath lightly touching on the human tragedy in Japan, while in the next anticipating with delight the economic recovery it will (supposedly) create. The natural disaster in Japan is tragic both on a human level and economically. Japan may, possibly, enjoy a GDP boost in six months or so as a result of some rebuilding, but the billions in present-day lost productivity will easily negate any future upside...Let’s follow the Keynesian approach. I have come up with the top ten ways we can boost the US economy using that same Keynesian rationale.

Phoenix Capital Research's picture

Over the last 30 years, the US has built up record debts on a personal, state, and national level. Consumers thought they were financially stable so long as they could cover the interest payments on their credit cards, states created program after program few if any of which they could afford, and the Federal Government issued $30-50 trillion in debt and liabilities (counting Social Security and Medicare).

Guest Post: Profiting From Policy

These days, it’s hard to draw any conclusion other than that the train is gaining speed on wobbly tracks perched over a rickety bridge. Most notably, unemployment has again risen – to 9.8% from 9.6% – very much not the direction things should be headed given the amount of money the government has pumped into the economy. The latest data shows that this nation of 310 million souls managed to add just 39,000 jobs in November. That, unfortunately, falls short of even keeping up with a population growth of about 1% – doing just that requires generating a net of about 250,000 jobs a month. As for eating away at the millions of unemployed and the many millions more who are underemployed… oh, well. Of course, the mainstream financial media wastes no time in pointing to this latest dismalia as proof positive that the Fed’s recent decision to energetically restoke the money machine with upwards of $100 billion a month was the right decision. This despite the clear evidence that adding debt to debt is having no real effect, except begetting more debt. This is a lesson that, so far, appears to be making no headway in the cognitions of Washington’s policy makers, even with the latest election results delivering a sharp rap across the knuckles to the power elite.

Unmasking The Unintended Consequences Of US Central Planning

The NIA continues with its series of bite-sized video documentaries exposing the stupidity and lies out of the US government. While the previous clip looked at a fictitious world in which the dollar had just died, today's is one which analyzes the plethora of unintended consequences that emerge as a result of the government's centrally planned tinkering. As always, it is a must watch, even if one does not agree with the NIA's overarching theme that government policies will ultimately result in uncontrollable price moves following the destruction of the reserve currency.

EB's picture

While Bernanke was putting the finishing touches on QE2 in DC, 50 global financial regulators met at the New York Fed to discuss regulation of world's largest market. Instead of financial reform measures, what is being created is simply a massive new power center headed by the CFTC from which those at the top will vainly attempt to manipulate market prices and entrench favored institutions within the new framework.

Today's Economic Data Highlights

Quiet day: Retail sales, Empire manufacturing, and business inventories. New $7-9 billion POMO launches, hopefully without glitches this time, at 10:15 am.

Guest Post: Bernanke’s ‘Cash For Spelunkers’

Like “cash for clunkers,” the housing tax credit and other attempts to provide short-term fuel, the Federal Reserve’s second round of quantitative easing can only buy a little time to fix what ails the economy. Unfortunately, in the prior instances, the short-term fuel led to short-term complacency about the economic trajectory, leading policymakers to let down their guard. In the end, all that resulted was a letdown for the economy. What’s different about quantitative easing — an effort to lower market interest rates by bidding up Treasury debt — is that the Fed has no ability to direct its fire. What’s likely is that much of the investment capital freed up by Fed purchases of Treasury debt will overshoot its target — the U.S. economy — and flow to emerging markets and especially into commodities that serve as a hedge against a falling dollar.

Guest Post: Currency Wars: Debase, Default, Deny!

In September 2008 the US came to a fork in the road. The Public Policy decision to not seize the banks, to not place them in bankruptcy court with the government acting as the Debtor-in-Possession (DIP), to not split them up by selling off the assets to successful and solvent entities, set the world on the path to global currency wars. By lowering interest rates and effectively guaranteeing a weak dollar through undisciplined fiscal policy, the US ignited an almost riskless global US$ Carry Trade and triggered an uncontrolled Currency War with the mercantilist, export driven Asian economies. We are now debasing the US dollar with reckless spending and money printing with the policies of Quantitative Easing (QE) and the expectations of QE II. Both are nothing more than effectively defaulting on our obligations to sound money policy and a “strong US$”. Meanwhile with a straight face we deny that this is our intention. It’s called debase, default and deny.

Guest Post: Is America On A Burning Platform?

The Federal Reserve is pulling out all the stops in attempting to invigorate the American economy. The stock market is surging. Everything is surging. The optimists are crowing that all is well. Deficits don’t matter. We can borrow our way to prosperity. Cutting taxes will not add $4 trillion to the National Debt if not paid for with spending cuts. All is well. So, the question remains. Was David Walker wrong? Are we actually on a perfectly sturdy solid platform? Or, are we on the Deepwater Horizon as it burns and crumbles into the sea? Let’s examine both storylines and decide which is true.

RealtyTrac Reports Q3 Foreclosures Hit All Time Record... Just In Time For The Plunge

Looks like someone may have had a little advance notice on October's foreclosure semi-moratorium festivities. According to RealtyTrac, September foreclosures marked a 5 month high of 347,420, jumping 3% from the previous month and 1% from September 2009, even as the 3rd quarters marked the highest foreclosure activity on record. For the first time in history, bank repossessions (REOs) surpassed 100K, hitting 102,134. Providing some much needed color on what is actually happening in the foreclosure market, James Saccio, CEO of RealtyTrac said: "Lenders foreclosed on a record number of properties in September and in the third quarter, taking a bite out of the backlog of distressed properties where the foreclosure process was delayed by foreclosure prevention efforts over the past 20 months. We expect to see a dip in those bank repossessions — and possibly earlier stages of the foreclosure process — in the fourth quarter as several major lenders have halted foreclosure sales in some states while they review irregularities in foreclosure-processing documentation that has been called into question in recent weeks." And plunge, foreclosure activity will: the 24 judicial foreclosure states most affected by the foreclosure documentation issue accounted for 40 percent of all foreclosure activity in the third quarter and 36 percent of bank repossessions, or REOs. And the worst part is precisely what Jim Cramer thought was going to represent a boost to home prices, confirming just how little the man understand basic market principles: "If the lenders can resolve the documentation issue quickly, then we would expect the temporary lull in foreclosure activity to be followed by a parallel spike in activity as many of the delayed foreclosures move forward in the foreclosure process. However, if the documentation issue cannot be quickly resolved and expands to more lenders we could see a chilling effect on the overall housing market as sales of pre-foreclosure and foreclosed properties, which account for nearly one-third of all sales, dry up and the shadow inventory of distressed properties grows — causing more uncertainty about home prices.” In other words: a complete housing market collapse.

Phoenix Capital Research's picture

At some point, and I cannot tell you when, the US is going to find itself facing a situation very similar to that of Greece. Indeed, if Greece’s numbers are “Crisis Worthy” investors should consider that the US’s fiscal condition is in fact AS BAD IF NOT WORSE than Greece’s.

The US is expected to run a $1.7 trillion deficit in 2010. Assuming that the GDP numbers are accurate (they’re not, but that’s an article for another time), the US economy is in the ballpark of $14 trillion. This means we’re running a deficit equal to 12.3% of GDP. That’s RIGHT next to Greece.

Then of course, you’ve got our Debt-to-GDP ratio. If you ignore unfunded liabilities like Social Security and Medicare, the US already has a Debt-to-GDP ratio of 98.1%. That’s only slightly off of Greece’s Debt-to-GDP of 112%.