Hurricane season is nearly upon us, and every time a hurricane strikes, television and radio commentators and would-be economists are quick to proclaim the growth-boosting consequences of the vicissitudes of nature. Of course, if this were true, why wait for the next calamity? Let’s create one by bulldozing New York City and marvel at the growth-boosting activity engendered. Destroying homes, buildings, and capital equipment will undoubtedly help parts of the construction industry and possibly regional economies, but it is a mistake to conclude it will boost overall growth.
When investors hear "bull markets are bull markets until they aren't," their initial response is "no, duh!." However, if that statement is so obvious, why do we spend so much time in trying to predict the future? It is interesting that we are extremely skeptical of fortune tellers, palm readers and psychics but flock to Wall Street analysts and economists that are nothing more than "fortune tellers" in suits. The reality is that no one is actually prescient. It is all a "best guess" with nothing assured except what "is." Currently, the bull market cycle that began in 2009 remains intact. It is, what "is." The hypnotic chant of the "bullish mantra" will lull individuals from a momentary state of consciousness back into the dream world of complacency. It is from that place that investors have typically harbored the worst outcomes.
Banking didn’t start out as a reckless, parasitical plaything of a moneyed and politically-connected aristocracy.
During the bubblicious years from 2000 through 2014, while Wall Street used control fraud and virtually free money provided by the Fed to siphon off hundreds of billions of ill-gotten profits from the economy, the average middle class family saw their income drop and their debt load soar. This is crony capitalism success at its finest. The oligarchs count on the fact math challenged, iGadget distracted, Facebook focused, public school educated morons will never understand the impact of inflation on their daily lives. The pliant co-conspirators in the dying legacy media regurgitate nominal government reported income figures which show median household income growing by 30% over the last fourteen years. In reality, the real median household income has FALLEN by 7% since 2000 and 7.5% since its 2008 peak. Again, using a true inflation figure would yield declines exceeding 15%.
Four years and three prime ministers after Greece’s then premier, George Papandreou, requested an international bailout that slammed his nation with painful austerity (but saved the EU banks), Bloomberg notes that political instability still haunts Greece. Despite issuing bonds and GDP coming in slightly better than expected (still in recession/depression), former Prime Minister Costas Simitis of Pasok admits "The euro crisis seems to be over but its causes have not withered away," and if election polls are anything to go by, the fragile fraud that is a Greek recovery is set for problems Samaras' governing coalition as Syriza (the opposition that rejected the bailout terms) support soars and Pasok plunged to sixth place with just 5.5% support. In addition, retroactive taxes on gains are weighing on European bond markets (and Greek stocks).
While Asia in general may be slowing now that China's epic debt creation machine is starting to break down, when it comes to trends within Asia not everyone is equal. And nowhere is this more visible than when comparing Japan, that dynamo of Asia in the 1980s and 1990s, and China, that other "New Normal" dynamo which carried the world across the Great Depression chasm. For the best representation of Japan's epic fall from economic relevance and, inversely, China's superpower ascendancy, here is one chart showing how vastly more relevant to Asia China now is compared to Japan just under 20 years ago.
More Reasons QE Is a Dud
Despite popular belief, very few things in our world are exactly what they seem. That which is painted as righteous is often evil. That which is painted as kind is often malicious. That which is painted as simple is often complex. That which is painted as complex often ends up being disturbingly two dimensional. Regardless, if a person is willing to look only at the immediate surface of a thing, he will never understand the content of the thing. This fact is nowhere more evident than in the growing “tensions” between the elites of the West and the elites of the East over the crisis in Ukraine. The centralization of power is best achieved during moments of bewildering calamity. The conjuring of crises is one of the oldest methods of elitist dominance. Not only can they confuse and frighten the masses into malleability, but they can also ride to the public’s rescue as heroes and saviors later on. The Hegelian dialectic is the mainstay of tyrants.
6 Years After the Financial Crisis Hit, The Big Banks Are Still Committing Massive Crimes
Did you know that there are nearly 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now? And 20 percent of all families in the United States do not have a single member that is employed. So how in the world can the government claim that the unemployment rate has "dropped" to "6.3 percent"? Well, it all comes down to how you define who is "unemployed". For example, last month the government moved another 988,000 Americans into the "not in the labor force" category. According to the government, at this moment there are 9.75 million Americans that are "unemployed" and there are 92.02 million Americans that are "not in the labor force" for a grand total of 101.77 million working age Americans that do not have a job. Back in April 2000, only 5.48 million Americans were unemployed and only 69.27 million Americans were "not in the labor force" for a grand total of 74.75 million Americans without a job. That means that the number of working age Americans without a job has risen by 27 million since the year 2000. Any way that you want to slice that, it is bad news.
There is an old Wall Street axiom that goes "Sell in May and go away, come again after St. Leger's day." Of course, as with all Wall Street axioms, they are viewed by the media to be "valid" only if they work every single year. The reality is that no axiom, investment discipline or strategy works all the time. It is the cumulative effect over long periods of time which defines success or failure. Today's selected readings, both for and against this particular "Wall Street wisdom," provide some statistical insight.
Taking another peek beneath the only headline that vacuum tubes and algos care about, namely the headline establishment survey print, reveals another mockery of a "recovery", because in addition to the farce that 1 million Americans were added to the "not in labor force" number, a breakdown of jobs added by age group reveals more of the same. Namely, in the one most important age group for jobs, those workers aged 25-54 which represent the bulk of the US labor force and are also the best and most productive group, the total number of jobs tumbled from 95,360K to 95,151K, a drop of 209K!
Jobs soar higher by 288K, far higher than expected 218K, and well above the 203K revised
Unemployment rate 6.3%, tumbles from 6.7% and well below expected 6.6%
Average hourly earnings M/M +0.0%, Exp. 0.2%; Average hourly earnings all employees Y/Y: 1.9%, Exp. 2.1%
Challenging a Sacred Cow of Banking Dogma
"The leaders of the Developed World have chipped away at the solidity that would ordinarily justify confidence in their leadership, markets and currencies, such that confidence can be lost at any moment. If confidence in a sound system is unfairly lost, then countertrend forces can act to stem the panic and restore stability. But a justified loss of confidence in an unsound system would generate much more damage and be, for a period of time and price, unstoppable. That result is what governments have risked by their poor policies, their lack of attention to the risks posed by the inventions of the modern financial system, and their neglect of the fiscal balance sheet. Since this combination is relatively new, particularly the enormity of Developed World debt and obligations, as well as the complexity and extraordinarily high leverage of the financial system (especially given the size of derivatives books), there is no way to tell exactly how it all will end. Badly, we guess." - Paul Singer