Gross Domestic Product
Spend more than 30 minutes watching TV in California and you will be bombarded by politicians proclaiming they single-handedly balanced the budget, brought prosperity back to the Silicon Valley alone, and turned water into wine. Yet, oddly, there is one thing none of them seem too quick to admit to. As CBS reports, the state office in charge of keeping track of California taxpayers’ money made tens of billions of accounting mistakes. CBS added it up and came up with a big number: $31.65 billion in errors. That’s more than the gross domestic product of Iceland and Jamaica combined.
How Britain Calculates Its Hooker "GDP Boost": 60,879 Prostitutes x 25 Clients Per Week x £67.16 Per VisitSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/29/2014 20:02 -0500
First it was Italy which, as we reported last week, had decided to "boost" its GDP by adding the estimated impact of cocaine and hookers. And now, riding on the coattails of this economics gimmick designed solely to make the economy appear more solvent, it is Britain's turn, whose Office for National Statistics will also add add up the "contribution" made by prostitutes and drug dealers. According to the Guardian "for the first time official statisticians are measuring the value to the UK economy of sex work and drug dealing – and they have discovered these unsavoury hidden-economy trades make roughly the same contribution as farming – and only slightly less than book and newspaper publishers added together."
"Artificial, credit-stained activity will never be more than a fleeting substitute for fundamental demand. And when the artificiality inevitably subsides, what is left is far worse than not having entertained it at the start. That too is a testament against the illicit concept of neutrality. We may all be dead in the long run, but it used to be nice to enjoy the fruits of free economic expansion whilst awaiting the unavoidable."
A year ago it was the US which first "boosted" America's GDP by $500 billion - literally out of thin air - when it arbitrarily decided to include "intangibles" to the components that 'make up' GDP (in the process cutting over 5% from the US Debt/GDP ratio). Then Spain joined the fray. Then Greece. Then the UK. Then Nigeria, which showed those deveoped Keynesian basket cases how it is really done, when it doubled the size of its GDP overnight when it decided to change the base year of its GDP calculations. Now it is Italy's turn, and like everything else Italy does, this latest "revision" of the definition of GDP easily wins in the style points category. As Bloomberg reports, "Italy will include prostitution and illegal drug sales in the gross domestic product calculation this year." Yup: blow and hookers. And that, ladies and gents, how it's done.
In a well-crafted 688 words published just 5 minutes after the minutes were exposed to the public, the Wall Street Journal's Jon Hilsenrath provides what bullish equity market believers might consider one of his more hawkish commentaries on what the Fed is really thinking. "Federal Reserve officials turned their attention to longer-run issues at their April policy meeting," he noted; adding that discussion of the Fed's "exit strategy" from low interest rates has heated up in recent weeks. His summation - lots of talk, no action... not what the bad-news-is-good-news crowd wants to hear.
It's the same old story: in order to make its economy appear healthier than it is, India attempted to centrally-plan and force a country of 1.2 billion to stop buying gold, going against centuries of, pardon the pun, tradition. It failed, and the result was an epic surge in gold smuggling. So now, with a new government in place, India is considering lifting the world's most draconian gold capital controls since FDR issued Executive Order 6102. Will it? And what will that mean for the price of gold? Find out soon enough.
A specter is haunting Washington, an unnerving vision of a Sino-Russian alliance wedded to an expansive symbiosis of trade and commerce across much of the Eurasian land mass - at the expense of the United States.
Confirming yet again that the global "recovery" benefits some (very few) more than others (the non-very few), is the latest news out of the UK where the Sunday Times reports that the 1000 richest Britons now hold a cumulative £519 billion in wealth: a number which increased by 15% in the past year as the real disposable incomes of the non-richest declined. Putting this number in context, the "most well-off Britons now own the equivalent of a third of the country's gross domestic product (GDP)." Another way of looking at it: the wealth of 1000 Britons is 3.5x greater than the GDP of Greece.
- Qatar Bank: Deutsche Bank to raise $11 bln with help from Qatar (Reuters)
- AstraZeneca rejects Pfizer's take-it-or-leave-it offer (Reuters)
- China Home-Price Growth Slowdown Spreads as Sellers Discount (BBG)
- The new face of NSA: Mike Rogers (Reuters)
- Putin orders troops near Ukraine to return home (AP)
- Wall of Worry Rebuilt as Nasdaq Rout Sends Cash to High (Nasdaq)
- Bank of England's Mark Carney highlights housing market's risk to UK economy (Guardian)
- Greek Selloff Shows Rush for Exit Recalling Crisis (BBG)
- Anti-austerity Greek radicals ahead in Athens local election (AFP)
Thank god for Germany, whose Q1 GDP printed at 0.8%, above the expected 0.7%, and higher than Q4's 0.4%, or else the Eurozone's very disappointing Q1 GDP, which printed at 0.2% or half the expected 0.4%, could have been flat or negative.
Having questioned whether Tim Geithner leaked every Fed announcement to the banks during his tenure (but did not mention it in his memoirs) and shown that traders acted on information at faster than the speed of light (and thus were indeed aware of leaked decisions ahead of time), it should be no surprise that a new research paper has found “robust evidence” that some traders have been getting early news of U.S. Federal Reserve rate announcements and then trading on it during the Fed’s media lockup. The trading anomalies that Bernile and his colleagues spotted begin about 15 minutes before the news embargo is lifted and continue at a fairly even pace and are "statistically significant and in the direction of the subsequent policy surprise." So - are the markets rigged?
There's not much good news for housing these days. For a little while, the Fed's suppression of interest rates juiced housing enough to distract Americans from weak job creation and stagnant real wages. Don't have a job? No problem! Just borrow against the appreciation of your house to feed your family. But Yellen's interest rate wand looks to be out of magic. The government had a pipe dream of white picket fences for everyone. But Americans can't refinance their way to wealth. Especially in the Greater Depression.
Every wondered why the rest of the world envied the US middle-class? There were many reasons once, a long time ago and one of them was their affluence, their wealth, their ability to be able to afford whatever they wanted.
As the nation shivered through February and March and saw it's gross domestic product collapse as humans hibernated, President Obama sought sunnier climes to ensure US supremacy on the world-leader's golf handicap rankings. As The Washington Times reports, however, Obama’s trips this year to the golfing playgrounds of Palm Springs and Key Largo cost taxpayers nearly $3 million for flight expenses alone on Air Force One.
As tensions between all parties in Eastern Europe boil over, Chris Martenson provides a brief tour through just some of the antics surrounding the US' involvement in bringing about change (you can believe in!) in Ukraine. We raise these items to counter the usual clutter and complete lack of context being provided in the US press and to illustrate that the US is already in pretty deep and therefore unlikely to back down now. Before we move on, do you not find it at all strange that the US media, usually extremely sensitive to anti-semitism, has given the McCain and Nuland support of the Svoboda party a complete pass? I find it to be like the case of "the dog that did not bark", meaning the silence reveals a very fickle moral compass at the heart of the western press. The demonization of Putin as the bad guy here is near complete in western media. But there’s plenty of mischief all around and, as usual, the US finds itself with some pretty strange bedfellows as it seeks an outcome it likes.