On the eve of the eighth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, which has been tracking recovery indicators since the early months after the storm, issued a snapshot of post-Katrina statistics... and the results are mixed. From the good (63% of New Orleans students passing vs 30% pre-Katrina); to the bad (rising adult unemployment and child poverty rates); to the ugly (rapidly collapsing population dynamics reflecting a very 'detroit'-like scenario), it seems there is still work to be done...
Barack Obama has been running around the country taking credit for an "economic recovery", but the truth is that things have not gotten better under Obama. Compared to when he first took office, a smaller percentage of the working age population is employed, the quality of our jobs has declined substantially and the middle class has been absolutely shredded. If we are really in the middle of an "economic recovery", why is the homeownership rate the lowest that it has been in 18 years? Why has the number of Americans on food stamps increased by nearly 50 percent while Obama has been in the White House? Why has the national debt gotten more than 6 trillion dollars larger during the Obama era? Obama should not be "taking credit" for anything when it comes to the economy. In fact, he should be deeply apologizing to the American people.
The percentage of Americans that are economically independent has dropped to a stunningly low level. What we have in America today is a situation where economic independence is being systematically eradicated and the government is increasingly being expected to provide our daily bread and to take care of all of us from the cradle to the grave. And once you become a serf of the state, it is very hard to resist anything the government is doing in a meaningful way. After all, the money that you are getting from the government is enabling you to survive. In essence, your allegiance has been at least partially purchased and you may not even realize it. At this point, the number of Americans that are financially dependent on the government is absolutely staggering, and it gets worse with each passing year. Just consider the following statistics...
So is President Obama the worst President in history?
It's only fitting that in a bizarro new normal, the news that passes for positive is either conflicting, reflexive or, well, simply bizarre. Last night was no exception as the "good" news came in the form of speculation that in order to promote its consumption tax hike, the Abe government would consider a corporate tax cut. How that helps the country with the 1 quadrillion yen in debt is not exactly clear, or how it makes consumer tax hikes any more palatable in a nation in which more people than anywhere in the world are retired and elderly, and thus removed from the corporate lifecycle, is just as nebulous. But the market liked it. Just as it liked the good ole' European cop out, of posting a surge in consumer confidence, or relying on reflexive indicators to represent an improvement in the economy, when in reality the only thing "improving" is the stock market. This happened when the German ZEW Economic Sentiment survey soared from 36.3 to 42.0 on expectations of a 39.9 print. So one must buy futures, or that's what the GETCO algo programming says.
The US trade deficit is now at its lowest point since that date and currently stands at $34.22 billion for the month ofJune 2013.
As Obama parades around middle-America, promoting hope-and-change amid a "Better-Bargain for the middle-class," it seemed only appropriate to lay out a few 'facts' before his next pronouncement. Once upon a time, the United States has the largest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the world. Sadly, things have dramatically changed in America since that time. There just aren't as many "middle class jobs" as there used to be. In fact, just six years ago there were about six million more full-time jobs in our economy than there are right now. Those jobs are being replaced by part-time jobs and temp jobs. We live at a time when incomes are going down but the cost of living just keeps going up. As a result, the middle class in America is being absolutely shredded and the ranks of the poor are steadily growing. The following are 44 facts about the death of the middle class that every American - especially President Obama - should know...
The American Homeownership Dream is officially dead. Long live the New Normal American Dream: Renting.
We take a new look at Japan from the 1980s to today in order to decipher what “Abenomics” might do to this fragile nation. We argue that moving Japan from its current stable, but unsustainable equilibrium, through activist monetary policy risk a run on the sovereign. We present part I and part II here today. We hope you enjoy it.
The optimism over the housing recovery has gotten well ahead of the underlying fundamentals. While the belief was that the Government, and Fed's, interventions would ignite the housing market creating an self-perpetuating recovery in the economy - it did not turn out that way. Instead it led to a speculative rush into buying rental properties creating a temporary, and artificial, inventory suppression. The risks to the housing story remains high due to the impact of higher taxes, stagnant wage growth, re-defaults of the 6-million modifications and workouts and a slowdown of speculative investment due to reduced profit margins. While there are many hopes pinned on the housing recovery as a "driver" of economic growth in 2013 and beyond - the data suggests that it might be quite a bit of wishful thinking.
A new Nielson survey on global consumer confidence for the 2nd quarter this year reveals that confidence is improving around the world. It works out to 55% of people around the world that believe that we are currently going through a recession, which means that this is the lowest figure surveyed for over two years.
If the worst retail sales number in 12 months doesn't send the S&P to 1,700 nothing will. Because that is precisely the data point we got moments ago when the Census bureau reported June retail sales growth of 0.4%, missing expectations of a 0.8% print and down from a downward revised 0.5%. However, the only growth in the headline number was thanks to auto and gas sales. Ex autos retail sales were unchanged on expectations of a 0.5% increase, while ex autos and gas the print was down -0.1%, crushing hopes of a +0.4% increase. Any minute now, however, the Fed's S&P500 trickle down wil, with a 4 year delay, hit the end consumer: the entire Princeton economics department pinky swears.
"In this respect the Gini coefficient had apparently reached in 2006 the previous high seen in 1929, prior to the Great Depression. This is a reminder that capitalism’s natural way of dealing with excesses is via business failure and liquidation; which is why wealth distribution would have become much less extreme as a consequence of the 2008 crisis if losses had been imposed on creditors to bust financial institutions, for example owners of bank bonds, in line with capitalist principles; as opposed to the favoured ‘bailout’ approach pursued for the most part by Washington. This means, unfortunately, not that the problem has been avoided but that the ‘great reckoning’ has been deferred to another day as the speculative classes have continued to game the system by resort to carry trades actively encouraged by the Fed and other central bankers, which is why fixed income markets freak out when they see signs of an exit."
The vast majority of Americans are going to be absolutely blindsided by what is coming. They don't understand how our financial system works, they don't understand how vulnerable it is, and most of them blindly trust that our leaders know exactly what they are doing and that they will be able to fix our problems. As a result, most Americans are simply not prepared for the massive storm that is heading our way. Most American families are living paycheck to paycheck, most of them are not storing up emergency food and supplies, and only a very small percentage of them are buying gold and silver for investment purposes. Right now we seem to be living in a "hope bubble" and people have become very complacent. They seem to have forgotten what happened back in 2008...