The 21 Key Statistics About The Explosive Growth Of Poverty In America

If the economy is getting better, then why does poverty in America continue to grow so rapidly?  Yes, the stock market has been hitting all-time highs recently, but also the number of Americans living in poverty has now reached a level not seen since the 1960s.  Yes, corporate profits are at levels never seen before, but so is the number of Americans on food stamps.  Yes, housing prices have started to rebound a little bit (especially in wealthy areas), but there are also more than a million public school students in America that are homeless.  That is the first time that has ever happened in U.S. history. So should we measure our economic progress by the false stock market bubble that has been inflated by Ben Bernanke's reckless money printing, or should we measure our economic progress by how the poor and the middle class are doing?  Because if we look at how average Americans are doing these days, then there is not much to be excited about. Unfortunately, that bubble of false hope is not going to last much longer.  In fact, we are already seeing signs that it is getting ready to burst.

Frontrunning: April 3

  • Cyprus leader invites family firm probe (FT)
  • How the Fed fueled an explosion in subprime auto loans (Reuters)
  • Wal-Mart Customers Complain Bare Shelves Are Widespread (BBG)
  • JC Penney CEO gets no bonus, stock award after dismal year (Reuters)
  • New Bird Flu Virus Kills 2 in China, Sparking WHO Probe (BBG)
  • Algorithms Play Matchmaker to Fight 7.7% U.S. Unemployment (BBG)
  • Fed hawk Lacker and dove Evans face off over inflation (Reuters)
  • Infamous silver market "cornerer" WH Hunt Becomes Billionaire on Bakken Oil After Bankruptcy (BBG)
  • Japan Auto Sales Fall on Subsidy End as Korea Extends Drop (BBG)
  • Black Hawks Near North Korea Show Risk in U.S. Command Shift (BBG)
  • SEC Embraces Social Media (WSJ)
  • Tesla Touts ‘True Out of Pocket’ Financing for Model S (BBG)
  • U.K. Banks Try to Dodge Bonus Caps by Defining Risk-Taker (BBG)

Stockman On Bernanke's Actions: "The Ultimate Consequence Will Be A Train-Wreck"

There is "not a chance," that the Fed will be able to unwind its balance sheet in an orderly manner, "because everybody is front-running [them]," as the Fed is creating "serial bubbles," that are increasingly hard to manage since "we're getting in deeper and deeper every time." David Stockman has been vociferously honest in the last few days and his Bloomberg Radio interview with Tom Keene was extremely so. While Keene tries his best to remain upbeat and his permabullish self, Stockman just keeps coming with body blow after body blow to the thesis that this 'recovery' is sustainable. "They are using a rosy scenario forecast for the next ten years that would make the rosy scenario of the 1981 Reagan administration look like an ugly duckling," he exclaims, adding that the Keynesian Krugmanites' confidence is "disingenuous" - "the elephant in the room - the Fed," that are for now enabling rates to stay where they are. The full transcript below provides much food for thought but he warns, if the Fed ever pulled back, even modestly, "there would be a tremendous panic sell off in the bond market because it is entirely propped up... It's to late to go cold turkey."

Frontrunning: April 2

  • The revolving door continues: Mary Schapiro joins Promontory Financial (WSJ)
  • First Peek at Health-Law Cost (WSJ)
  • Abe warns over Japan inflation target: warns 2% inflation target may not be reached within two years (FT)
  • BoJ's Kuroda tested by divided board (Reuters)
  • Nanjing poultry butcher fourth person infected with H7N9 bird flu (SCMP)
  • What time do top CEOs wake up? (Guardian)
  • Cyprus Seeks More Time to Meet Targets in Talks With Troika (BBG)
  • Investors Ignore Negativity at Their Peril (WSJ)
  • Apple bows to Chinese pressure (FT)
  • One can only laugh: North Korea to restart nuclear reactor in weapons bid (Reuters)
  • Visa Demand Jumps (WSJ)
  • Bloomberg's refutation of Stockman: yes, yes but... look over there, stocks are up! (BBG)

Manufacturing ISM Tumbles, Biggest Miss In 13 Months

Typically, when the ISM-leading Chicago PMI has a horrible print as it did last week, the subsequent ISM response in a "baffle with BS" centrally planned regime is one of a stunning beat just to make sure all vacuum tubes are kept on their binary toes, and the bad news is good news, good news is better news meme continues propagating. Not this time: moments ago, the March ISM printed at 51.3, the biggest miss to expectations (of 54.0) in 13 months, in fact below the lowest estimate, driven by a collapse in New Orders which tumbled from 57.8 to 51.4, as the rapid deceleration in the US economy is confirmed in virtually every recent metric. The good news, and what will be used to spin the market back into green following its epic 0.2% selloff on the news, is that the Employment Index rose from 52.6 to 54.2, the highest since June 2012. Elsewhere, the 1.2% increase in construction spending came in better than estimated... on a seasonally adjusted basis. Unadjusted it had its biggest drop since July 2011 but who cares: we all live in a seasonally-adjusted "reality" in which only the daily record S&P prints matter. And now, with yet another economic miss in tow, we resume your regularly scheduled no-volume Federal Reserve mandated "stock market" levitation.

Guest Post: A Roadmap For American Grand Strategy Part 3 (Of 3)

Following Part 1's discussion of America's Dangerous Drift, and Part 2's succincy summation of why America needs a Grand Strategy, today's Part 3 concludes with a discussion of the 'choice' American leaders have: "A decline in America’s leadership role and the emergence of a highly unstable world is a serious possibility. In reality, decline is not a foregone conclusion but a deliberate political choice that builds from a failure to define what matters most to the nation." When we step back from the language and imperatives of grand strategy, the case for the United States to rethink its grand strategy is fundamentally simple. It is designed to meet serious threats while creating and taking advantage of strategic opportunities. To continue on the present course of "drifting" from crisis to crisis effectively invites powers to believe that America is in decline. Worse, Americans, too, might believe wrongly that the nation’s decline is inevitable. If we are to assure America’s future security and prosperity, we need a new national grand strategy that harnesses America’s spirit, sense of optimism, and perseverance to help the nation meet the challenges and grasp the opportunities of this era. When we think about the alternatives, the United States simply has no choice.

China Down Fifth Day In A Row Means US Is Alone In Yet Another Forced Market Ramp Attempt

This is the third day in a row that an attempt to mount an overnight ramp out of the US has fizzled, with first the Nikkei closing down for the second day in a row and snapping a week-long rally, and then the Shanghai Composite following suit with its 5th consecutive drop in a row as the rumblings out of the PBOC on the inflation front get louder and louder, following PBOC governor Zhou's statement that inflation expectations must be stabilized and that great importance must be attached to inflation. Stirring the pot further was SAFE chief Yi Gang who joined the Chinese chorus warning against a currency war, by saying the G20 should avoid competitive currency devaluations. Obviously China is on the edge, and only the US stock market is completely oblivious that the marginal economy may soon force itself to enter outright contraction to offset the G-7 exported hot money keeping China's real estate beyond bubbly. Finally, SocGen released a note last night title "A strong case for easing Korean monetary policy" which confirms that it is only a brief matter of time before the Asian currency war goes thermonuclear. Moving to Europe, it should surprise nobody that the only key data point, Eurozone Industrial Production for January missed badly, printing at -0.4% on expectations of a -0.1% contraction, down from a 0.9% revised print in December as the European recession shows no signs of abating. So while the rest of the world did bad or worse than expected for the third day in a row, it will be up to the POMO and seasonally adjusted retail sales data in the US to offset the ongoing global contraction, and to send the perfectly manipulated Dow Jones to yet another all time high, in direct refutation of logic and every previous market reality ever.

Guest Post: Let's Stop Fooling Ourselves: Americans Can't Afford the Future

The American spirit is rooted in the belief of a better tomorrow. Its success has been due to generations of men and women who toiled, through both hardship and boom times, to make that dream a reality. But at some point over the past several decades, that hope for a better tomorrow became an expectation. Or perhaps a perceived entitlement is more accurate. It became assumed that the future would be more prosperous than today, irrespective of the actual steps being taken in the here and now. And for a prolonged time characterized by plentiful and cheap energy, accelerating globalization, technical innovation, and the financialization of the economy it seemed like this assumption was a certain bet. But these wonderful tailwinds that America has been enjoying for so many decades are sputtering out. The forces of resource scarcity, debt saturation, price inflation, and physical limits will impact our way of life dramatically more going forward than living generations have experienced to date. And Americans, who had the luxury of abandoning savings and sacrifice for consumerism and credit financing, are on a collision course with that reality.

David Stockman On "The Great Deformation" And The US Treasury As "The M&A Department Of Goldman Sachs"

The fiscal cliff is permanent and insurmountable. It stands at the edge of a $20 trillion abyss of deficits over the next decade. And this estimation is conservative, based on sober economic assumptions and the dug-in tax and spending positions of the two parties, both powerfully abetted by lobbies and special interests which fight for every paragraph of loophole ridden tax code and each line of a grossly bloated budget. Fiscal cliffs as far as the eye can see are the deeply troubling outcome of the Great Deformation. They are the result of capture of the state, especially its central bank, the Federal Reserve, by crony capitalist forces deeply inimical to free markets and democracy. Why we are mired in this virtually unsolvable problem is the reason I wrote this book. It originated in my being flabbergasted when the Republican White House in September 2008 proposed the $700 billion TARP bailout of Wall Street. When the courageous House Republicans who voted it down were forced to walk the plank a second time in betrayal of their principled stand, my sense of disbelief turned into a not-inconsiderable outrage. Likewise, I was shocked to read of the blatant deal making, bribing, and bullying of the troubled big banks being conducted out of the treasury secretary’s office, as if it were the M&A department of Goldman Sachs.

Guest Post: The Hollowing Out Of Private-Sector Employment

The following five charts reflect the hollowing out of the private-sector employment. This has profound implications for education, taxes, housing and inequality. What no one dares admit is that the U.S. economy is burdened by overcapacity (too many malls, restaurants, MRI machines, etc.) and too much debt, much of which was taken on to fund mal-investments. We suffer from a systemic failure of imagination. The financial and political Aristocracy that rules the neofeudal, financialized economy have no other model other than debt-based misallocation of capital and endless growth of debt-based consumption. That this model is broken and cannot possibly get us where we need to go does not matter; they will continue to do more of what's failed because they have no alternative model that leaves their power and wealth intact.

Guest Post: The Ethics Of Repudiation

Do you ever get the feeling that no one in the Washington power elite is willing to seriously deal with the major economic threat to future prosperity facing the United States today: mounting government debt and the associated deficits? As a taxpayer, you did not borrow the funds, you did not spend the funds, and you have no moral obligation to repay the funds. Rothbard’s recommendation: “I propose, then, a seemingly drastic but actually far less destructive way of paying off the public debt at a single blow: outright debt repudiation.” Repudiation is not only a sound economic solution to our fiscal crisis, but it is also the morally correct solution.

Guest Post: Programs That Should Be Cut - But Won’t Be Cut - From The Federal Budget

Washington is laying on the malaise pretty thick lately over automatic budget cuts set to take effect in March, with admonitions and partisan attacks galore.  Of course, those of us who are educated in the finer points of our corrupt puppet government are well aware that the public debate between Democrats and Republicans amounts to nothing more than a farcical battle of Rock’Em Sock’Em Robots with only one set of hands behind the controls.  The reality is, their decisions are scripted, their votes are purchased, and they knew months ago exactly how America’s fiscal cliff situation would progress.  The drama that now ensues on the hill is meant for OUR benefit and distraction, and no one else. There are plenty of irrelevant federal appendages out there that could be amputated, but probably won’t be, while other more useful programs will come under fire.  In the end, the budget cuts are not about saving money; they are about social maneuvering and political gain.  They will be used as an excuse for everything, and will produce nothing favorable, not because cuts are not needed, but because the people in charge of them are not trustworthy.