Our grandparents believed in the value of thrift, but many of their grandchildren don’t. That’s because cultural and economic values have changed dramatically over the last generations as political and media elites have convinced many Americans that saving is passé. So today, under the influence of Keynesian economists who champion government spending and high levels of consumption, thrift has been devalued (and is even punished). It is the government’s role, Keynes’s followers believe, to keep the boom going through spending. So it is consumption, not supply, that makes a successful economy, they say. Mainstream media rehashes the message that the consumer, not the producer, is the biggest part of the economy. Politicians agree... But, despite the Keynesian sentiments of much of our political and media elites, we owe it to our grandparents to re-learn the lessons of thrift.
David Stockman, author of The Great Deformation, summarizes the last quarter century thus: What has been growing is the wealth of the rich, the remit of the state, the girth of Wall Street, the debt burden of the people, the prosperity of the beltway and the sway of the three great branches of government - that is, the warfare state, the welfare state and the central bank...
What is flailing is the vast expanse of the Main Street economy where the great majority have experienced stagnant living standards, rising job insecurity, failure to accumulate material savings, rapidly approach old age and the certainty of a Hobbesian future where, inexorably, taxes will rise and social benefits will be cut...
He calls this condition "Sundown in America".
In light of this morning's Obama-Boehner volleys, we thought a reflection on the facts was useful. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its 2013 Long-Term Budget Outlook yesterday morning, and its government debt projections are dismal... But the CBO’s featured chart only tells a small part of the story. The baseline scenario happens to be bogus. Even as it shows our addiction to debt worsening, it doesn’t do justice to the severity of that addiction. (You may want to show the chart to your children. After all, they’ll be the ones who’ll have to deal with the debt we’re piling on today.)
Until six days before Lehman Brothers collapsed five years ago, the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s maintained the firm’s investment-grade rating of “A.” Moody’s waited even longer, downgrading Lehman one business day before it collapsed. How could reputable ratings agencies – and investment banks – misjudge things so badly? Regulators, bankers, and ratings agencies bear much of the blame for the crisis. But the near-meltdown was not so much a failure of capitalism as it was a failure of contemporary economic models’ understanding of the role and functioning of financial markets – and, more broadly, instability – in capitalist economies. Yet the mainstream of the economics profession insists that such mechanistic models retain validity.
Much to the amazement of doom-and-gloomers, everything's been fixed and as a result, everything's great. The list is impressive: China: fixed. Japan: fixed. Europe: fixed. U.S. healthcare: fixed. Africa: fixed. Mideast: well, not fixed, but no worse than a month ago, and that qualifies as fixed. Doom and gloomers have been wrong, just like Paul Krugman said. The solution to every problem is at hand: create more money and credit, in ever larger sums, until a tsunami of cash washes away all difficulties. Let's scroll through a brief summary of everything that's been fixed.
Despite Mariano Rajoy's solemn promises that awarding the 2020 Olympics to Madrid would boost the Spanish GDP by 1.8% and lead to the creation of anywhere between 168,000 and a few hundred million new jobs (the latter number is a joke but since it comes from Rajoy, both are equally credible), the Olympic committee cut the Spanish contender before the final, which pitted Tokyo vs Istanbul. And when the final votes were tallied it was not even a contest: with 60 to 36 votes, the 2020 Olympics Games will be held in Tokyo: the city that was supposed to host the event in 1940 but due to the break out of World War II the event was delayed until 1964 (when it was almost cancelled again, permanently, following a modest escalation in nuclear deterrence between the US and USSR surrounding Cuba). Let's hope history does not rhyme.
History is very clear: societies that organize themselves around a tiny elite who thinks they should control the entire system suffer a 100% failure rate, without exception. Today’s system shares similar fundamentals to nearly every other case of failed empire. And it’s foolish to think that this time will be any different.
India Central Bank Scrambles With Currency Collapse Fallout: Gives USD To Oil Companies, Everyone Else Tough LuckSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/28/2013 11:26 -0400
The aftermath of the biggest crash in the Indian rupee in history is becoming clear: business are scrambling to refine budgets, import and export activity is disappearing as there is zero clarity what the actual transaction prices net of FX are, purchases of hard assets are exploding as people are desperate to protect what little purchasing power they have left, capital controls are being instituted virtually everywhere, and the overall economy - at least that part that is reliant on foreign trade flows - is grinding to a halt. In fact, it got so bad, that moments ago the 1 month USDINR forward hit a ridiculous 70.
Noting that "everything suggests the Syrian regime used chemical weapons," France's President Hollande this morning stated
*HOLLANDE SAYS SYRIAN CHEMICAL ATTACK REQUIRES RESPONSE and FRANCE IS READY TO PUNISH USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS
Perhaps this is subtle way to solve his nation's economic problems (just ask Krugman). French jobseekers just hit another all-time high; and following the utter failure of the Mali incursion to raise Hollande's popularity, perhaps he will reinstate the draft (for the millions of unemployed), invade, and then promptly surrender (leaving oil-rich Syria with the problem?)
[Summer|Winter]: watch out.
- OBAMA TO USE ADMINISTRATIVE AUTHORITY TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE
- OBAMA TO INVEST IN TECHNOLOGY TO MAKE FOSSIL FUELS CLEANER
- OBAMA CLIMATE PLAN IS NOT A WAR ON COAL, MONIZ SAYS
We have no idea what any of that means or what administrative authority Obama has to unilaterally declare war on, well, climate. But if Obama is taking on the unprecedented Arctic heat cold and is about to usher in centrally-planned weather, we would be nervous if we were Syria. Very nervous.
One of the most published academics on gold in the world is Dr Brian Lucey of Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and he and another academic who has frequently covered the gold market, Dr Constantin Gurdgiev have just this week had an excellent research paper on gold published.
They have researched the gold market, along with Dr Cetin Ciner of the University of North Carolina and their paper, ‘Hedges and safe havens: An examination of stocks, bonds, gold, oil and exchange rates’ finds that gold is a hedge against US dollar and British pound risk due to “its monetary asset role.”
No one can predict accurately at what point slower growth will start producing political turmoil on a scale that’s unprecedented in the China that Deng made, what the magic number is, or even whether there’s an iron connection between economic and political crises. Yet the increase in capital flight from China and soaring applications for American and European residential visas by well-heeled Chinese suggest that the elite is hedging its bets. Some may be overstating things, but the rebalancing camp is too sanguine.This much is certain: China’s leaders are in uncharted waters, and because of the diminishing utility of the established formula for rapid growth their maps may be of questionable value.
The New York metro region’s recovery from Superstorm Sandy is well under way. Spending on restoration and rebuilding activities following a natural disaster is a potentially powerful economic stimulus to the affected area. Indeed, money from outside the region - in the form of federal aid and private insurance payments - flowing to the damaged areas in the region gives a temporary boost to economic activity. But, in the latest NYFed-driven tax-payer-funded research study, the PhDs ask "does this mean that Sandy - along with the federal aid and insurance payouts associated with it - was actually good for the region’s economy?" All sounds very Krugmanesque, however, hidden deep in the study is the awful truth... "So while this [stimulus driven] economic activity may have been boosted from such spending, the region’s net wealth hasn’t changed."
This insane world was created through decades of bad decisions, believing in false prophets, choosing current consumption over sustainable long-term savings based growth, electing corruptible men who promised voters entitlements that were mathematically impossible to deliver, the disintegration of a sense of civic and community obligation and a gradual degradation of the national intelligence and character. There is a common denominator in all the bubbles created over the last century – Wall Street bankers and their puppets at the Federal Reserve. Fractional reserve banking, control of a fiat currency by a privately owned central bank, and an economy dependent upon ever increasing levels of debt are nothing more than ingredients of a Ponzi scheme that will ultimately implode and destroy the worldwide financial system. Since 1913 we have been enduring the largest fraud and embezzlement scheme in world history, but the law of diminishing returns is revealing the plot and illuminating the culprits. Bernanke and his cronies have proven themselves to be highly educated one trick pony protectors of the status quo. Bernanke will eventually roll craps. When he does, the collapse will be epic and 2008 will seem like a walk in the park.
Today’s bizarre confluence of negative real interest rates, money printing, eurozone sovereign default, aberrant asset prices, high unemployment, political polarization, growing distrust… none of it was supposed to happen. It is the unintended consequence of past crisis-fighting campaigns, like a troupe of comedy firemen leaving behind them a bigger fire than the one they came to extinguish. What will be the unintended consequences of today’s firefighting? We shudder to think.