The major sudden bear markets of the last decades were not dreaded “black swan” events at all. They were perfectly predictable, by economic logic alone, the same logic that says governments cannot manipulate market prices without creating distortions that will always, without exception, be counterproductive. In the next stock market crash, we will be told that the fault was some surprising economic or geopolitical shock. Let’s remind ourselves now that this will be false.
The dominoes are beginning to fall. The initial spark in 2008 has triggered a series of unyielding responses by those in power, but further emergencies and unintended consequences juxtapose, connect and accelerate a chain reaction that will become uncontainable once a tipping point is reached. The fabric of society is tearing at points of extreme vulnerability, with depression, violence and war on the foreseeable horizon. Mr. President, the shadow of crisis has not passed. The looming shadow of crisis grows ever larger and darker by the day as this Crisis enters the most dangerous phase, where the existing social order will be swept away in a torrent of carnage and ferocious struggle. We are not a chosen people. We are not immune from dire outcomes.
You've probably seen articles and adverts discussing how much money you'll need to "retire comfortably." The trick of course is the definition of comfortable. The general idea of comfortable (as I understand it) appears to be an income which enables the retiree to enjoy leisurely vacations on cruise ships, own a well-appointed RV for tooling around the countryside, and spend as much time on the golf links as he/she might want. Needless to say, Social Security isn't going to fund a comfortable retirement, unless the definition is watching TV with an box of kibble to snack on. By this definition of retiring comfortably, I reckon I should be able to retire at age 91--assuming I can work another 30 years and the creek don't rise.
- Fed seen remaining patient with rate guidance amid global turmoil (Reuters)
- National Weather Service apologizes for blizzard forecast miss (CBS)
- Greek PM Tsipras pushes on with radical change, markets tumble (Reuters)
- Obama Drops Plan to Raise Taxes on ‘529’ College Savings Accounts (WSJ)
- Hard Choices on Easy Money Lie Ahead for Fed Chief (Hilsenrath)
- Debt That Once Boosted Its Cities Now Burdens China (WSJ)
- Skymark Said to File for Bankruptcy After Airbus Deal Flops (BBG)
- Heavy Fighting Drains Ukraine Government’s Options and Finances (WSJ)
Einstein advised “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”. Yet that’s mostly what I see happening today on many levels.
If we had to summarize what's wrong with Corporate America and the entire U.S. economy, we can start with all the intermediaries between the provider and the customer.
It's jolly good fun to discuss alternatives to the doomed status quo, but what choice do most of us have to participating in the current system, even if we loathe it? The lack of choice is of course a key characteristic of the status quo-- if alternatives were plentiful, how many would opt out of Corporate America and the Financial Nobility's manor house of debt servitude?
A desperate feeding frenzy takes its course.
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?
The financial, economic and political system has been captured by corporate fascist psychopaths. The Federal Reserve has aided and abetted this takeover. Their monetary manipulations have resulted in this deformity. The American middle class has been murdered. Decades of declining real wages have left them virtually penniless, in debt up to their eyeballs, angry, frustrated, and unable to jump start our moribund economy by buying more Chinese produced crap. Yellen, her Wall Street puppeteers, and the corporate titans should enjoy those record profits and record stock market highs. The artificial boom will lead to a real depression. Luckily for the oligarchs, most middle class Americans are already experiencing a depression and won’t notice the difference.
Job cut announcements in tech doubled from a year ago. Worst year since 2009.
"Reporters on the ground aren’t necessarily ideological, Attkisson says, but the major network news decisions get made by a handful of New York execs who read the same papers and think the same thoughts. Often they dream up stories beforehand and turn the reporters into 'casting agents,' told 'we need to find someone who will say...' that a given policy is good or bad. “We’re asked to create a reality that fits their New York image of what they believe,"
The Mindful one does not seek to change the world; he seeks to change himself.
Have the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average seen their highs for the year? At this point in 2014, it’s probably a coin toss. There are several factors in favor of a further rally, to be sure. Corporate profits are still robust, revenue expectations are modest, and long term interest rates remain equity-friendly. On the flip side of the U.S. equity market coin: long term valuations are toppy, plenty of other markets (commodities, bonds) seem to signal an impending global recession, and a host of geopolitical concerns now seem to be hitting a full boil. Also, let’s not forget that the Russell 2000 peaked in, oh, March (1209) and July (1208) and is down 8.8% from that last high. By that measure, equities are already rolling over. It is true that markets climb a wall of worry. Until it falls on them.
The key question now is “Can the U.S./global economy handle a meaningful downturn in financial asset prices?” The short answer is that it may not have a choice. The Federal Reserve has done what it can to juice the American economy and has the balance sheet to prove it. Central banks, for all their power, do not control long term capital allocation or corporate hiring practices. Fed Funds have been below 2% for six years. If the U.S. economy can’t continue to grow in 2015 as the Federal Reserve inches rates higher, there are clearly larger issues at play. And those private sector problems will need private sector solutions.