Today, more than 10,000 Baby Boomers will retire. This is going to happen day after day, month after month, year after year until 2030. It is the greatest demographic tsunami in the history of the United States, and we are woefully unprepared for it. We have made financial promises to the Baby Boomers worth tens of trillions of dollars that we simply are not going to be able to keep. Even if we didn't have all of the other massive economic problems that we are currently dealing with, this retirement crisis would be enough to destroy our economy all by itself. During the first half of this century, the number of senior citizens in the United States is being projected to more than double. As a nation, we are already drowning in debt. So where in the world are we going to get the money to take care of all of these elderly people?
It is remarkable that, Marc Faber begins, despite the growth the US has enjoyed since the 1960s, the poverty rate has barely changed. Faber believes there are far more “poor” people today as a percentage of the population than there were in the 1960s, because lower middle-class and middle-class people have moved into the ranks of the poor. In his opinion, the increase in poverty rests on four pillars: cultural and social factors, educational issues, excessive debt, and government handouts, which encourage people not to work. Other factors include: international competition, which keeps wages down; and monetary policies, which create bubbles and impoverish the majority... “It’s pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness; poverty and wealth have both failed.”
While Washington debates over what is the proper explanation of the CBO's report which explicitly states that millions of workers will drop out of the labor force over the next decade thanks to Obamacare, Obama himself may have finally thrown in the towel, realizing that the longer the full implementation of Obamacare is delayed, the longer the myth that it is a viable Ponzi scheme - as opposed to non-viable - can persist. Perhaps this explains why AP reports that the White House is now considering an extension of the president's decision to let people keep their individual insurance policies even if they are not compliant with the health care overhaul, according to two top industry officials.
Those following the ever encroaching progression of the US welfare state will hardly be surprised by the latest data on US government spending broken down by the 11 largest outlays: spending on almost everything was down or unchanged in the first fiscal quarter of 2014 compared to a year ago except for healthcare and, of course, social security, which has finally caught up with the government's medicare and medicaid outlays. The good news: as a result of still low interest rates, and the Fed's check-kiting remittance of interest on monetized debt, Treasury outlays have tumbled to less than $100 billion in the quarter. This number will not stay this low for long.
With President Obama’s State of the Union Address and its associated campaign prominently featuring increased minimum wage, tired arguments for raising the minimum wage are being once again retreaded. Unfortunately, they compound failures of logic, measurement and evidence.
While everyone focuses on the turmoiling in Emerging Markets, a good, old standby is back - the periodic "debt ceiling" IMAX tragicomedy. Recall that the debt limit, which has been suspended since October 17, is scheduled to be reinstated on February 8. At that time, the nation will be operating right at the debt limit, and the Treasury Department will use extraordinary measures to temporarily issue additional public debt to meet federal financial obligations as it always does during episodes of political posturing that without fail take place until the 11th hour, 59th minute, and 59th second. However, unlike last year when there was a 5 month interval between hitting the debt ceiling, and the day the Treasury's funds fully ran out - the infamous X Date - this time the emergency measures will only last a limited time. What this means when looking at a calendar, is that the Treasury may not have sufficient cash-on-hand to cover all obligations due as soon as February 28.
- Emerging markets pray for Wall Street tumble (Reuters)
- Yellen Faces Test Bernanke Failed: Ease Bubbles (BBG)
- Samsung sets new smartphone sales record in fourth quarter, widens lead over Apple (Reuters)
- China’s Foreign-Reserves Investment Chief Said to Depart Agency (BBG)
- China’s Rescue of Troubled Trust May Stoke Risk-Taking (BBG)
- Ukraine PM Azarov offers to resign 'to help end conflict' (Reuters) ... And Russia says may reconsider aid if this happens
- But... but... it was all gold's fault: India Unexpectedly Raises Rate as Rupee Risks Inflation Goal (BBG)
- Former Belgian king 'boycotting' public events after complaining £760,000 is not enough to live on (Telegraph)
- Greek disposable income tumbles 8% in Q3 (Kathimerini)
- Emerging market sell-off raises specter of contagion (Reuters)
- China Bank Regulator Said to Issue Alert on Coal Mine Loans (BBG)
- Argentina to Ease FX Controls After Peso Devaluation (BBG)
- Pimco's Gross problem: who can succeed the 'Bond King'? (Reuters)
- Ukraine protesters seize building, put up more barricades (Reuters)
- Mideast Turmoil Dominates Gathering of Business Elite (WSJ)
- Central Banks Withdraw Dollar Funding (WSJ) - oh really?
- Samsung warns of weak earnings growth this quarter (FT)
- Three explosions rock Cairo, killing 5 (USA Today)
An example of Microsoft legislating profits that is so simple to understand even most Americans should be able to get it.
The Beige Book may well be renamed the Boring Book due to the uniformity of its monthly pronouncements, but a few things stands out in a report that saw moderate expansion in the economy across most of the US:
- the Fed said most districts reported increases in home sales... except we assume for San Francisco where home sales plunged to 6 year low,
- the Fed sees "very few reports of staff cuts of plant closings"... which we guess ignores the December jobs reports where the least jobs were added since January 2011,
- the Fed said nine districts reported an increase in retail spending... which is curious considering retail traffic plunged and the holiday spending season was the worst since 2009,
- the Fed said almost half of district reported prices were stable... which probably means the Fed's inflation benchmark is now well below 2%
- and Finally, the Fed said eight district reported upward movement in wages... which also is confusing considering real disposable income per capita just dropped into the negative.
Oh well: we suppose we will take the Fed's word for it.
By now the distinction that "enrollment" in Obamacare does not actually mean coverage should be painfully clear: one still has to pay, and according to a recent analysis up to 50% of "enrollees" in any given state have not paid, which means the White House's number of 2.1 million sign ups through December 28 is vastly overstating the reality (especially if one ignores the 5+ million of torn up, lost insurance policies as a result of Obamacare). But even if one clearly delineates what is meant by "enrollment" in the most epic failure of a ponzi scheme to ever emerge from a developed nation (with a recently disclosed penchant for Big Brother-yness), what conclusions can one draw about the current participants in obligatory, socialized insurance as most recently disclosed by the administration? Here is the summary: only 24% of all new insured are in the targeted 28-34 age group; only 21% of participants will get no subsidy (which means 79% will be subsidized), and finally more women (54%) than men have signed up.
Have you seen the economic recovery? We haven’t either. But it is bound to be around here somewhere, because the National Bureau of Economic Research spotted it in June 2009, four and one-half years ago. It is a shy and reclusive recovery, like the “New Economy” and all those promised new economy jobs. I haven’t seen them either, but we know they are here, somewhere, because the economists said so. At a time when most Americans are running out of coping mechanisms, the US faces a possible financial collapse and a high rate of inflation from dollar depreciation as the Fed pours out newly created money in an effort to support the rigged financial markets. It remains to be seen whether the chickens can be kept from coming home to roost for another year.
In the first step towards President Obama's income inequality fight, he is unveiling "Promise Zones" today... we can't wait to hear this one..."Promise Zones are a new way of doing business,” the administration official said. “They will be led by local community leadership working toward a common goal … supported by the federal government.” Participants will get priority for federal grants and help applying from an array of agencies. Wonderful, sounds great - how are we paying for that again?
The evidence here is clear. QE does not generate jobs in the broad economy.
Yesterday we described how so-called "Progressives" are pimping for the Empire. The same is true of so-called "Conservatives." Conservatives are masters at projecting a preachy devotion to a limited state, democracy, liberty and free enterprise while their support of the Central State undermines every one of these values. Conservatives are like the preacher who issues stern sermons on righteousness every Sunday while skimming big money from pimping sordid, destructive policies Monday through Saturday. "Conservatives" and "Progressives" alike are pimping for the Empire when they support the Central State's essentially unlimited powers.