A country dies slowly. Those living during the decline of Rome were likely unaware that anything was happening. The decline took over a couple of hundred years. Anyone living during the decline only saw a small part of what was happening and likely never noticed it as anything other than ordinary. Countries don’t have genetically determined life spans. Nor do they die quickly, unless the cataclysm of some great war does them in. Even in such extreme cases, there are usually warning signs, which are more obvious in hindsight than at the time. Few citizens of a dying nation recognize the signs. Most are too busy trying to live their lives, sometimes not an easy task. Most cannot conceive of the death of a nation. But signs or symptoms precede death for a country often as they do for a person...
It’s no surprise to anyone that Americans have zero faith in their so-called “Representatives.” The vast majority of these folks are lying, thieving, white-collar criminals, and we all know it. The real question is what, if anything, are we going to do about it?
It appears there is something far more structural with America's long-term unemployment problem, something not even the "smartest academics in the (Marriner Eccles) room" can diagnose. Surprisingly, earlier today Gallup reported one factor that may be contributing to America's unemployment malaise - the same problem that is the reason for the insolvent US welfare state coffers: obesity. According to Gallup, Americans who have been out of work for a year or more are much more likely to be obese than those unemployed for a shorter time. The obesity rate rises from 22.8% among those unemployed for two weeks or less to 32.7% among those unemployed for 52 weeks or more.
According to a new Gallup pole, a record amount of Americans now disapprove of President Obama. Now, this is nothing new. Presidential approval ratings go up and down, and Mr. Obama has had a long-term slide thanks to… oh, we don’t know… a total avalanche of foul-ups ranging from the Obamacare fiasco to the IRS targeting his enemies to the VA scandal to the intelligence community’s surveillance of the press, et cetera ad infinitum. But here’s the interesting thing– this poll about the President’s approval rating. It’s about his image– who he is as a person. Do Americans think he’s a trustworthy person with strong character? Nope. Not even close.
Have you heard the one about the “economic recovery” in the United States? It’s quite funny, but it is not actually true. Every day, the establishment media points to the fact that global stock markets have soared to unprecedented heights as evidence that the economy is improving. But just because a bunch of wealthy people have gotten temporarily even richer on paper does not mean that the real economy is in good shape. In fact, as you will see below, things just continue to get even tougher for the poor and the middle class.
We are witnessing implied volatility on all asset classes simply collapse to the lowest levels witnessed in 20 years, or at least the lowest levels achieved prior to the GFC in early 2007.
If you believe that the U.S. economy is heading in the right direction, you really need to read this article. As we look toward the second half of 2014, there are economic red flags all over the place.
"The DEA doesn’t want the drug war to end,” said Nelson, when asked about a possible connection between the agency’s hatred of legal pot and its buddies in Sinaloa. “If it ends, they don’t get their toys and their budgets. Once it ends, they aren’t going to have the kind of influence in foreign government. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but where there’s smoke there’s probably fire.”
“We’ve spent 1.3 trillion since 1972 on the drug war. What have we gotten for that? Drugs are cheaper and easier to get than ever before,”
However, the Mexican drug cartels have been bailed out by America’s drug warriors who have cracked down on prescription pain killers.
"Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the National Debt." - Herbert Hoover
The roll off of the massive slice of the population known as "baby boomers" in the years ahead will have a significant and profound impact on the economy and the markets. In my opinion, there is simply not enough attention paid this issue and it is an important one. However, since demographic impacts take a very long time to mature, they are ignored by the mainstream media which are focused on the 24-hour news and market cycles.
The marriage rate in the United States has fallen to the lowest level ever recorded. So why is this happening? Well, the truth is that there are a lot of reasons why so many young people are choosing not to get married today. One big reason is money. Young adults in the U.S. are really struggling to find good jobs, and many are hesitant to take a big step like marriage without achieving a certain level of financial security first. And as you will see below, many young adults (especially women) do not even want to date someone that is not employed. In this harsh economic environment, money makes a big difference in the world of romance.
So much for the post-cold-weather, pent-up demand stoked spending spree as human beings emerge from hibernation and buy-buy-buy all the food/iPads/clothes/cars they did not buy during the stormy first quarter... First, Goldman confirms that retail sales actually fell 2%, and then, more broadly, Gallup confirms that Americans' reports of daily spending in April averaged $88, virtually the same as in March ($87) and February ($87). Keep praying to the god of hockey-sticks that the now grossly revised down GDP for Q1 is merely setting the US up for the mother of all v-shaped recoveries (or not)...
While every state has at least some residents who are looking for greener pastures; as Gallup reports, nowhere is the desire to move more prevalent than in Illinois and Connecticut. In both of these states, about half of residents say that if given the chance to move to a different state, they would like to do so (against an average 33% of all Americans who would prefer to live in another state than their own). The 'greenest pasture' or least disliked, according to Gallup, is Hawaii and Montana (where only 23% would prefer to leave). The biggest factor driving the desire to leave the current state - unsurprisingly - jobs (or business opportunities)... and Nevada residents (thank you Harry Reid) the most anxious to leave in the next 12 months.
While institutional investors and money managers have a very specific list of worries when it comes to their "financial concerns" such as Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), monthly/quarterly performance and redemption requests, losing top traders, what the year end bonus will be, order fill slippage, being frontrun by HFT algos, what the Fed chairwoman may say any given day, whether it is 3:30pm or if it is a Tuesday, ordinary Americans have a far simpler list of concerns. According to a recent Gallup poll, the one thing that has most Americans very/moderately worried is "whether or not they have enough money for retirement."
The average age at which U.S. retirees report retiring is 62, the highest Gallup has found since first asking Americans this question in 1991. While not a total surprise, given our previous discussion of the rise in employment that is so focused on the elder cohorts of society as they smash headlong into the realization that they have no retirement plan. As we pointed out here, the typical worker near retirement only has about 2 years of replacement income saved, or about 15 years short of the median lifespan post-retirement. What is perhaps more worrisome is the rapid rise that Gallup notes in the last few years, as we have pointed out in the past that in fact, over 60% of workers accumulated more debt than they contributed to retirement savings between 2010 and 2011.
The American people are increasingly waking up to the fact that nothing ever seems to change in Washington D.C. no matter which political party is in power. In fact, as you will see later on in this article, an all-time high 53 percent of all Americans believe that neither party "represents the American people". The mainstream media would have us believe that the Republicans and the Democrats are constantly fighting like cats and dogs, but the truth is that the Republicans want to take us to the same place that the Democrats want to take us - just a little more slowly perhaps. In the final analysis, it is hard to be optimistic about a political solution to any of our major problems in the near future. Most of our politicians are deeply corrupt, the American people are incredibly angry and are deeply divided, and the vast majority of campaigns for federal office are won by the candidate that raises the most money.