"The shale oil plays are going to be probably much less than a 10-year flash in the pan. They are very dependent on a lot of different things, including low interest rates and the ability to keep borrowing - which could turn around very quickly. Lower oil prices would tend to do the same thing. But even if you hypothesize that we can keep the low interest rates and that the oil price will stay up there, under the best of circumstances, the Barnett data says they probably will not go for very long... And so these companies put together optimistic financial statements that have the benefit of these extremely low interest rates. They keep adding debt onto debt onto debt. How long can they continue to get more debt to finance this whole operation? It's not a model that anybody who is very sensible would follow."
By standards of previous generations, the middle class has been stripmined of income, assets and purchasing power. So what does it take to be middle class nowadays? A recent paper used Census data to discuss what sort of income it takes to qualify as middle class but income is not the only the metric - indeed, it can be argued that 12 other factors are more telling measures of middle class membership than income.
As we explained over two months ago, and as the Fed is no doubt contemplating currently, the primary topic on the agenda of central bankers everywhere and certainly in the Marriner Eccles building, is how to boost inflation expectations as much as possible, preferably without doing a thing and merely jawboning "forward expectations" (or more explicitly through the much discussed nominal GDP targeting) in order to slowly but surely or very rapidly and even more surely, get to the core problem facing the developed world: an untenable mountain of debt, and specifically, inflating it away. Of course, higher rates without a concurrent pick up in economic activity means a stock market tumble, both in developed and emerging countries, as the Taper experiment over the summer showed so vividly, which in turn would crush what many agree is the Fed's only achievement over the past 5 years - creating and nurturing the "wealth effect" resulting from record high asset prices, which provides lubrication for financial conditions and permits the proper functioning of capital markets. Perhaps this is the main concern voiced by JPM's chief US economist Michael Feroli who today has issued an interesting piece titled simply enough: "Raising inflation expectations: a bad idea." Is this the first shot across the bow of a Fed which may announce its first taper as soon as two weeks from today, in order to gradually start pushing inflation expectations higher?
By any reasonable measure, we think it is safe to say that the last quarter of 2013 has been an insane game of economic Russian Roulette. Even more unsettling is the fact that most of the American population still has little to no clue that the U.S. was on the verge of a catastrophic catalyst event at least three times in the past three months alone, and that we face an even greater acceleration next year. Economic collapse is not necessarily an event, it is a process, the most frightening elements of which usually do not become visible until it is too late for common people to react in a productive way. All of the dangers covered in this article could very well set fires tomorrow, that is how close our nation is to the edge. However, the culmination of events so far seems to be setting the stage for something, an important something, in 2014.
Just as many expect that the #1 buyer of Treasuries (the Fed) will soon begin paring back its purchases, the top foreign holder (China) may cease buying, thereby opening a second front in the taper campaign. Little thought seems to be given to how the economy would react to 5% yields on 10 year Treasuries (a modest number in historical standards). The herd assumes that our stronger economy could handle such levels. That is why when it comes to tapering, the Fed is all bark and no bite. But the market understands none of this. This is not unusual in market history. When the spell is finally broken and markets wake up to reality, we will scratch our heads and wonder how we could ever have been so misguided.
We know the ten "people" that run the world, that 25 cities represent over half the world's GDP, and that the world's billionaires control a stunning $33 trillion in net worth... but who controls what the average joe-sixpack on Main Street buys? As PolicyMic notes, these ten mega corporations control the output of almost everything we buy - from household products to pet food and from jeans to jello. The so-called "Illusion of Choice," that these corporations (and their nepotistic inter-relationships) create is remarkable...
At this point it is incredible that there are any Americans that still trust anything that comes out of the administration's collective mouth. And of course it is not just Obama that has been lying to us. Corruption and deception are rampant throughout the entire federal government, and this has been the case for years. Now that some light is being shed on this, hopefully the American people will respond with overwhelming outrage and disgust. Aside from the now "fake" employment data, the following are five massive economic lies that the government has been telling you... Our financial system is far more vulnerable than we are being told. We are in the terminal phase of the greatest debt bubble in the history of the planet, and when this bubble bursts it is going to be an absolutely spectacular disaster. Please don't believe the mainstream media or the politicians when they promise you that everything is going to be okay.
At one point during the evening, when pressed about whether his Quantitative Easing program was good for Wall Street at the expense of Main Street, Ben Bernanke flat out denied it, saying that such a premise is "simply not true". He defended his printing $85 billion per month, suggesting that fixing interest rates at zero is beneficial for society because, among other things, it allows people to 'buy cars'. I saw these words coming out of his mouth and thought to myself, "Is this guy f'ing serious?" Cars. Wow. As if going into debt to purchase a rapidly depreciating consumer item is somehow a victory for the people.
One can debate whether QE has benefitted Main Street or Wall Street until one is blue in the face, even though five years later, the answer is perfectly clear to all but the staunchest Keynesians and monetarists (and if it isn't, just pay attention to the 3:30 pm S&P ramp every day). One thing, however, that is undisputed is what the market itself says about where the QE money ends up when it is being spent by its recipients. And that story is so simple even a Keynesian would get it. Stated briefly, luxury retailers such as Tiffany, Coach and LVMH are now up 500% since the Lehman lows, and about 30% above the prior cycle highs. On the other hand, regular retailers such as Macy's, Kohl's and JC Penney are barely up 100% from the crisis lows, and still more than 30% below the last bubble highs.
In 1997, the SE Asian Tigers all faced severe economic stresses, partially triggered by a primarily foreign capital-funded massive real estate bubble in Thailand. Today the EXACT same thing is happening as untempered foreign investment into Thailand’s real estate market has created not a “soaring” real estate market as economists always incorrectly explain them, but massive real estate market distortions better known as a bubble.
If one was a foreigner visiting for the first time, one would think Space Available was the hot new retailer in the country. Thousands of Space Available signs dot the bleak landscape, as office buildings, strip malls, and industrial complexes wither and die. At least the Chinese "Space Available" sign manufacturers are doing well. The only buildings doing brisk business are the food banks and homeless shelters. However, reports like the recent one from SNL Financial – Branch Networks Continue to Shrink - are emblematic of the mal-investment spurred by the Federal Reserve easy money policies, zero interest rates, and QEternity... In a truly free, non-manipulated market the weak would be culled, new dynamic competitors would fill the void, and consumers would benefit. However, extending debt payment schedules of the largest zombie entities and pretending you will get paid has been the mantra of the insolvent zombie Wall Street banks since 2009.
When Tim Geithner announced his departure from the US Treasury in January, the only question was how long would it take the former NY Fed head to get a job with the only industry that he cared about as either a Fed or Treasury official: Wall Street. Tim did his best to diffuse such speculation with amusing stories about writing books, which were accentuated by his refusal to join the Fed chairmanship race. Why not? After all there was nobody that Wall Street would benefit more from as the head of the Fed than TurboTax Tim. Today, less than a year after his exit from public service, the answer has presented itself - Tim Geithner is joining private equity titan Warburg Pincus, his first private sector job in decades since working for Henry Kissinger early in his career.
You pack of fringe Zero Hedge low brows!
"I can only say: I'm sorry, America. As a former Federal Reserve official, I was responsible for executing the centerpiece program of the Fed's first plunge into the bond-buying experiment known as quantitative easing.... We were working feverishly to preserve the impression that the Fed knew what it was doing... The central bank continues to spin QE as a tool for helping Main Street. But I've come to recognize the program for what it really is: the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time.... Having racked up hundreds of billions of dollars in opaque Fed subsidies, U.S. banks have seen their collective stock price triple since March 2009. The biggest ones have only become more of a cartel: 0.2% of them now control more than 70% of the U.S. bank assets. As for the rest of America, good luck..... The implication is that the Fed is dutifully compensating for the rest of Washington's dysfunction. But the Fed is at the center of that dysfunction. Case in point: It has allowed QE to become Wall Street's new "too big to fail" policy."
For almost two years (most recently this week), we have been vociferously explaining the dismal fact that "quantity" of jobs in this recovery is no match for dreadful "quality" of jobs as the "born-again jobs scam" contonues to roll on. Bloomberg's Matthew Klein has decided that nine pictures are better than a thousand words as he explains (in short sentences and simple charts) what the jobs report really means...