Nothing lasts forever: Why the perceptions of North Korea may be different from reality
As the U.S. Greater Depression progresses, depicted most vividly in the collapse in the “civilian participation rate” (the number of people working in the economy) and the “velocity of money” (the heartbeat of the economy) - indicating an economy which is not merely in decline, but rather is being sucked downward in a terminal (and accelerating) death-spiral. There is another even more concerning statistic: U.S. “gasoline consumption” – as measured by the U.S. EIA itself – has plummeted by nearly 75%, from its all-time peak in July of 1998. A near-75% collapse in U.S. gasoline consumption has occurred in little more than 15 years... "recovery"
Did you hear the one about the Vegas gambler, the Pro golfer, and the Wall Street insider? Straight off the pages of some Hollywood script, the Wall Street Journal reports that Federal investigators are pursuing a major insider-trading probe involving finance, gambling and sports, examining the trading of investor Carl Icahn, golfer Phil Mickelson and Las Vegas bettor William "Billy" Walters. All three men have denied any investigations or "no comment"-ed about "well timed" stock trades in Clorox in 2011 - around the time Icahn made a $10.2bn bid for the company. Mr. Walters and Mr. Mickelson, 43, play golf together; and rather comedically, Mr. Icahn said he didn't know who Mr. Mickelson was...?
There’s a long and comprehensive To-Do list that has been waiting for us since at least 2008, when the nation received one forceful blow upside its thick head. We refuse to pay attention.
One hundred and ten of Greece’s best beaches (70,000 lots) are on sale by Greece’s privatization agency, the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED) in the name of supposed 'development' and 'utilization of public assets' as the prerequisite for receiving more handouts from the Troika. "This sale of the land must happen," explains one Greek civil servant, "we need this now, quickly. Tell the Russians and the Qataris to hurry up!" But as KeepTalkingGreece notes, not everyone is so exuberant about a supposedly recovered Greece dumping assets in order to pay back its European bailout banker overlords. With SYRIZA taking the lead in elections, the euro-skeptic sentiment is likely only to rise.
Monetary central planning at the zero bound embodies a destructive internal contradiction. It inherently generates rampant speculation in real estate and financial assets because ZIRP massively subsidizes the cost of carry. At the same time, its practitioners are institutionally disposed to bubble denial because they falsely believe that their policies are what is keeping the real economy advancing - even if currently it is at a sub-normal pace by historical standards. Without fail, therefore, monetary central planners keep their feet on the accelerator to the very end, boasting that the “in-coming data” shows the macro-economy approaching the nirvana of full-employment. What they are actually doing, however, is driving the financial system to unsustainable extremes of valuation and speculation - and eventually to a crash landing. We have had two of these processions of the lemmings - that is, Fed driven cycles of bubble inflation and bust - already in this century. Now we are at the asymptote of the third.
Fiat money is at base a form of indirect wealth transfer from those forced to hold the money to those issuing the money.
Last week we highlighted just how "rigged" the casino really is (real casinos - as opposed to the equity markets) and while that was shocking, the USA can be proud of another exceptionalism... As The Economist notes, at $119 billion in 2013, the United States was the biggest gambling loser in the world. However, on a per capita basis, Australia and Singapore top the list.
After losing $4 billion as both a lender and equity-holder, Deutsche Bank has decided now is the time to sell The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The lucky buyer of the 3000-room hotel and casino... none other than America's largest landlord - Blackstone Group. The formerly biggest "buy-to-rent" private equity firm is paying $1.7 billion for the Vegas hotspot after having piled $3.5 billion into property across the city and other parts of Nevada. It is ironic that it was Steve Wynn, another Vegas magnate, who recently noted just how great times were for the 'big guy' seeking cheap financing (and, unfortunately, just how bad it was for the average joe).
Over a third of the global population is now overweight, and the percentages are increasing. Some neuroscientists have suggested that the rise of so-called "hyperpalatable foods" may partially explain the unprecedented rates of obesity.
As another week passes by the markets have made no real movement in months. News flow, outside of Yellen's testimony, was also rather slow as first quarter's earnings season begins to come to a close. However, there were a few articles that we read this week that we thought you might find interesting as well... from the dangers of hidden leverage (in the re-burgeoning CDO markets) to the history if bubbles (and their lack of logic) and the demise of the US small business.
Some people are either born or nurtured into a time warp and never seem to escape. That’s Janet Yellen’s apparent problem with the “bathtub economics” of the 1960s neo-Keynesians. As has now been apparent for decades, the Great Inflation of the 1970s was a live fire drill that proved Keynesian activism doesn’t work. That particular historic trauma showed that “full employment” and “potential GDP” were imaginary figments from scribblers in Ivy League economics departments—not something that is targetable by the fiscal and monetary authorities or even measureable in a free market economy. Even more crucially, the double digit inflation, faltering growth and repetitive boom and bust macro-cycles of the 1970s and early 1980s proved in spades that interventionist manipulations designed to achieve so-called “full-employment” actually did the opposite—that is, they only amplified economic instability and underperformance as the decade wore on.
Understanding Cuba’s past and present illustrates the consequences of misguided economic policy and how it impacts socially.
- Ukraine attacks rebel city, helicopter shot down (Reuters)
- Euro Unemployment Holds Near Record Amid Factory Gains (BBG)
- Yellen’s Fed Resigned to Diminished Growth Expectations (BBG)
- Junket Figure's Disappearance Shakes Macau's Gambling Industry (WSJ)
- China tried to undermine economic report showing its ascendancy (WSJ)
- Liquidity Trap Hitting AAA Bonds Has ATP CEO Sounding Alarm (BBG)
- AstraZeneca Snubs Pfizer Approach That U.K. Won’t Block (BBG)
- Missing Jet Recordings May Have Been 'Edited' (NBC)
- RBS turns corner as first-quarter profit trebles (Reuters)
- Japan household spending hits four-decade high, wages key to outlook (RTRS) while Real Incomes Drop 3.3% in March, 6th straight decline