The mainstream recovery narrative has an astounding “recency bias”. According to all the CNBC talking heads, the 192,000 NFP jobs gain reported on Friday constituted another “strong” report card. Well, let’s see. Approximately 75 months ago (December 2007) at the cyclical peak before the so-called Great Recession, the BLS reported 138.4 million NFP jobs. When the hosanna chorus broke into song last Friday, the reported figure was 137.9 million NFP jobs. By the lights of old-fashioned subtraction, therefore, we are still 500k jobs short—notwithstanding $3.5 trillion of money printing in the interim. The truth is, all the ballyhooed “new jobs” celebrated on bubblevision month-after-month have actually been “born again” jobs. That is, jobs which were created during the Fed’s 2002-2007 bubble inflation; lost in the aftermath of the September 2008 meltdown; and then “recovered” during the renewed bubble inflation now underway.
Following the March Jobs Report, ConvergEx's Nick Colas got to thinking about the composition of employment growth rather than just the headline number. Is every new job created really the same when it comes to overall economic impact? Consider that the average household income in Maryland is $69,920, versus $39,592 in Mississippi. Or that Mining and Logging jobs pay, on average, $28.77/hour and Retail Trade positions average only $14.22/hour. To expand on this point, Colas came up with three 'Ideal' marginal hires, when considering which jobs bring the most "bang" for the wage/employment "buck". At this point in the cycle we should be focused on job quality as much as quantity.
It seems two states is not enough for billionaire investor George Soros (who is ranked the 9th most influential marijuane user in the US). As The Washington Times' Kelly Riddell reports, advocacy groups are leading the campaign to crush marijuana prohibition from coast-to-coast, and 83-year-old Soros is helping line the pockets of those making that push. "Through a network of nonprofit groups, Mr. Soros has spent at least $80 million on the legalization effort since 1994, when he diverted a portion of his foundation’s funds to organizations exploring alternative drug policies, according to tax filings," Riddell notes, adding that the Soros-affiliated Foundation to Promote an Open Society donates roughly $4 million annually to the Drug Policy Alliance.
The stock market really was rigged... “It’s 2009,” Katsuyama says. “This had been happening to me for almost two years. There’s no way I’m the first guy to have figured this out. So what happened to everyone else?” The question seemed to answer itself: Anyone who understood the problem was making money off it...
It seems if you can't beat the digital dickweeds, then you join 'em. Dennis Kneale, infamous for his exclamations regarding bloggers while working for CNBC, has finally been let go by Fox also... these are his tips on how to be unemployed (at age 56!) via his new blog...
Simple: just don't pay the mortgage. Because here is what happens next: shortly thereafter foreclosure proceedings will begin and at some point, far in the distant future, the bank will finally complete the foreclosure process, claiming the property and putting it on the block with intent to resell (or simply raze it). How far in the future? According to RealtyTrac, the average duration of the foreclosure process for zombie foreclosures is an average of a record 1,031 days. Or just shy of 3 years.
The latest foreclosure news out of RealtyTrac is out, and provides the latest proof that if there is a housing recovery somewhere, it sure isn't in the US, where the dislocations in the supply/demand for real estate are so profound that one in five homes in the foreclosure process has been vacated by the distressed homeowner. To wit: "As of the first quarter of 2014, a total of 152,033 U.S. properties in the foreclosure process (excluding bank-owned properties) had been vacated by the distressed homeowner, representing 21 percent of all properties in the foreclosure process." This means that neither the distressed homeowner or the foreclosing lender taking responsibility for maintenance and upkeep of the home, leading to a veritable army of Vacant Dead housing units that are spreading like zombies across the nation in the most improbable housing "recovery" of all time.
In what Democrats must be hoping is not a bellwether for the mid-term elections, Republican David Jolly won a closely watched special election in a battleground district in Florida yesterday. As WaPo reports, Democrats and Republicans spent millions of dollars with Jolly favoring repealing and replacing Obamacare, which was a central focus of the campaign, while his Democratic opponent did not. The race was close (Jolly won by 3,400 votes of the 183,000 cast), but as WaPo notes, the Florida result is likely to raise Democrat concerns (especially considering the Democrat's money advantage in the race).
The Fed and the other major central banks have been planting time bombs all over the global financial system for years, but especially since their post-crisis money printing spree incepted in the fall of 2008. Now comes a new leader to the Eccles Building who is not only bubble-blind like her two predecessors, but is also apparently bubble-mute. Janet Yellen is pleased to speak of financial bubbles as a “misalignment of asset prices,” and professes not to espy any on the horizon. Actually, the Fed’s bubble blindness stems from even worse than servility. The problem is an irredeemably flawed monetary doctrine that tracks, targets and aims to goose Keynesian GDP flows using the crude tools of central banking. Not surprisingly, therefore, our monetary central planners are always, well, surprised, when financial fire storms break-out. Even now, after more than a half-dozen collapses since the Greenspan era of Bubble Finance incepted in 1987, they don’t recognize that it is they who are carrying what amounts to monetary gas cans.
In what is one of the most disturbing private prison stories you’ll ever hear, a facility in Idaho run by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) in under investigation by the FBI due to claims it was so violent inmates called it “Gladiator School.” So how does a prison transform into such a place? Apparently, CCA was so eager to cut costs that it chose to understaff the facility and hand over control to prison gangs.
Jefferies, Deutsche Bank, and now Citi and JPMorgan are all facing a collapse in trading volumes as Bloomberg reports the two banks brace for a fourth straight drop in first-quarter trading revenues - a period of the year when the largest investment banks typically earn the most from that business. “It sounds like more bloodletting on Wall Street,” warns one analyst, as Citi expects trading revenue to drop by a “high mid-teens” percentage.
Let’s move on to the third piece of the puzzle. The routine exploitation of the weakness and most gullible members of society, teenage girls. The crazy thing here is not that some random selection of underage girls are being led to click on ads that direct them to adult video cam sites and dangerous dietary supplements, but that they represent the primary demographic clicking on these ads. This story from the Wall Street Journal is sure to make your blood boil no matter who you are, but particularly if you are a parent with young children.
That the bulk of Americans (especially those 4+ million whose insurance policies have recently been cancelled as a result of the ACA) have to pay more for healthcare as a result of Obamacare, is now largely accepted and well-known. But did you know that the cost of Obamacare is slowly metastasizing to other places? Such as your restaurant bill.
Presenting Exhibit A.
Just like the rental bubble whose bursting we chronicled here just last week, so the institutional bubble has just popped, which we know courtesy of RealtyTrac data reporting that institutional investors — defined as entities purchasing at least 10 properties in a calendar year — accounted for 5.2 percent of all U.S. residential property sales in January, down from 7.9 percent in December and down from 8.2 percent in January 2013. This was the biggest one month plunge in history. It gets worse: the January share of institutional investor purchases represented the lowest monthly level since March 2012 — a 22-month low.
A national average sounds an alarm: investors that drove up the housing market are bailing out