The study is called the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies and it tested 166,000 people aged 16 to 65 in more than 20 countries. It found that in math, reading and problem solving, American adults scored below the international average. We can’t say this is surprising, after all, the public allowed the big banks that destroyed the economy to gift themselves trillions in the aftermath of the financial crisis with barely a peep in response. You don’t have to be a problem solving genius to figure that one out.
Mass Surveillance Destroys Innovation, Trust, the U.S. Internet Market and Other Foundations of Prosperity
The financial crisis of 2008 killed a lot of things. It killed the line of credit, it killed the finances of millions of people around the world, it ousted governments and relegated leaders to the back offices and it was the kiss of death to a failed system and brought down entire states.
With spending habits waning amid soaring interestrates and rising gas prices, it is perhaps useful to note the trends in the stickiest of spending habits - tobacco, alcohol, and fast food...
Today we present the Target2-system and the fiscal bail-out facilities in our series on European efforts to bail out itself. For new readers, check out part 1 here http://bawerk.net/?p=123
Europe may be a union, but when it comes to the distribution of unemployment rates across its 27 member nations (and as of July 1 with the addition of Croatia, 28), it is anything but.
With Italy's sovereign bond yields hovering at 3 year lows, one could be forgiven for falling for the constant stream of gibberish from EU leaders that the worst is over. However, aside from the 'promised' OMT foot on the wind-pipe of non-domestic bond vigilantes (fighting an inexorable demand from self-referential banks and pension funds bidding for BTPs), the situation remains bad at best and in terms of debt-to-GDP, the worst since 1925 when Mussoilini was proclaimed fascist dictator. With Letta and his allies forming the 64th cabinet since WWII (and 27th since 1980) his lifespan seems limited to change anything and with Italy accounting for 16.5% of the EU's GDP (and forecast to contract 1.9% next year) - the current real GDP is smaller now than in 2001. Attempts to revive growth are about to be thrown into tumult once again as Berlusconi's party threatens mass resignation. As we noted last night, do not be fooled by the apparent tranquility in Europe.
The proud Q1 debt-to-GDP outliers, where the local economies are expected to continue plunging and thus send the stock markets (if mostly that in the US) surging, are the following:
- Euroarea: 92.2%, up from 88.2% a year ago
- Greece: 160.5%, up from 136.5% a year ago
- Italy: 130.3%; up from 123.8% a year ago
- Portugal: 127.2%, up from 112.3% a year ago
- Ireland: 125.1%, up from 106.8% a year ago
- Spain: 88.2%, up from 73.0% a year ago
- Netherlands: 72.0%, up from 66.7% a year ago
The recent decline in gold prices and the drain from physical ETFs have been interpreted by the media as signaling the end of the gold bull market. However, our analysis of the supply and demand dynamics underlying the gold market does not support this thesis. In our view, the bullion banks’ fractional gold deposit system is testing its limits. Too much paper gold exists for the amount of physical gold available. Demand from emerging markets, who do not settle for paper gold, has perturbed the status quo. Thus, our recommendation to investors is the following: empty unallocated gold accounts and redeem your gold in physical form (while you still can).
As everyone knows, the only reason to become a banker, and be subject to constant derision, abuse, scorn and hatred by the "99%", and potentially to a fate comparable to that of the aristocracy in France circa 1789, is a simple one: money. Specifically, get as much of in as short a time period as possible, be rewarded with a taxpayer bailout or two when massive bets go epically wrong, then convert all your cash into "hard assets" and escape to a non-extradition country before the latest credit bubble pops. In other words, a simple opportunity cost analysis. Which then begs the question: why are there bankers in the following European countries: Slovenia, Romania, Malta, Lithuania, Estonia, Czech Republic and Bulgaria. The one thing in common these countries have is that according to a just released European Banking Authority study, in the year ended 2011 not a single domiciled banker made over €1 million! In other words: bankers working for feudal peasant salaries. What a scam.
As southern Europe buckles under the weight of unserviceable debt and 60%+ youth unemployment rates, Germany is coasting along with an almost historically low unemployment rate; the disparity between Germany and its southern neighbors could not be more obvious. So it is ironic that Angela Merkel is leading the public pledge to ‘tackle’ the continent’s job crisis. Of course, European policy to deal with the jobs crisis is quite simple: print more money. Their latest initiative, a few billion more to fight the youth unemployment rate, was mercilessly eviscerated yesterday in the European Parliament by Nigel Farage... one of the few voices of reason left on the continent.
While we are told day-after-day just how 'fixed' Europe is; just how 'past the crisis' they are; and just how close to banking union; the reality is the nations of Europe are as disparate as they have ever been. We discussed the dismal unemployment picture last week, but one glance at the chart below will highlight the growing divergence between the haves and have-nots in Europe. As Bloomberg's Niraj Shah notes, unemployment rates are diverging at record levels in the euro area.
Jim Rogers was recently interviewed by GoldMoney and had plenty to say (as usual):
On Bernanke: "He doesn’t want to be around for the consequences of what he’s doing."
On Fiat: "Paper money doesn’t have a very glorious history, but again, nothing imposed by the government has a very long and glorious history."
On Europe's Crisis: "You can postpone it all you want, but the problems just mount."
On Capitalism: "You are not supposed to take money away from the competent people and give it to the incompetent so that the incompetent can compete with the competent people with their own money. That’s not the way capitalism is supposed to work."
Inflation slowed in 24 (of 27) EU nations in April to leave the average EU rate at 1.4% (versus 1.9% in March). Greece entered deflation in March for the first time in 45 years and Latvia consumer prices fell 0.4% in April (versus +2.8% a year ago). This notable plunge, while 'helpful' for the average spender in the short-term, is a problem, as Bloomberg's Niraj Shah notes, sustained falling prices will increase the nation's debt burden. At the other end of the spectrum, Romania and Estonia both have inflation running above 4% and 3% respectively. Of course, none of this serial 'depression' matters, since Draghi has your back and Hollande says "the crisis is over."