One of the key insights from recent work in psychology is that humans tend to substitute easier problems rather than solve difficult problems. Daniel Kahneman explained this dynamic in his recent book Thinking, Fast and Slow. To "solve" a difficult problem we are unfamiliar with, we substitute a lesser problem we already know the answer to, and then declare we've "solved" the original (often knotty, complex) problem. The real problem then festers, unsolved and addressed, while the misguided "solution" only drains resources and exacerbates the real problem. An excellent example of this dynamic is higher education: the real problems are soaring costs and sharply declining yields in actual learning and in the real-world value of a diploma.
Despite Erdogan's paranoia over "an interest rate" lobby or blaming the Lira's collapse on the Fed, as Gavekal's Nick Andrews notes, Turkey is showing no signs of stabilization. As the sell-side scrambles to explain how this is all priced in and "contained," it is very apparent from the following chart just how vulnerable to contagion the world is if Turkey defaults. The country's liabilities have multipled dramatically in recent years with over $350 billion of foreign bank exposure to Turkey on an ultimate risk basis.
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.
Bitcoin Catches Attention Of Goldman Sachs (And Walmart, And Cisco): Goldman Director Joins Bitcoin StartupSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/28/2013 11:14 -0500
When Bitcoin fans were hoping for fast track adoption by the mainstream, catching the attention of the all-seeing eye of Sauron Goldman Sachs was probably low on their list of action items. Yet that is precisely what they got with the arrival of a Goldman Sachs board member Michele Burns, who recently joined the board of Boston-based Bitcoin payment processing system startup Circle Internet Financial. As Fortune reports "Circle launched earlier this year, and was founded by Jeremy Allaire, who has led other Internet start-ups, but recently has become a Bitcoin evangelist. The company got $9 million in funding from a number of venture capitalist firms. Jim Breyer, a partner at Accel and an early backer of Facebook (FB), is also on Circle's board, as is Raj Date, who recently left a top post at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Circle declined to comment about Burns. Two sources with knowledge of her move confirmed it."
There is a profound disconnect between the Higher Education cartel and the economy and what higher education should cost in a world where information, instruction, and knowledge have fallen to the cost of bandwidth; i.e., near zero. What was once costly and scarce (knowledge and instruction) is now nearly free and abundant, readily available on any digital device anywhere in the world with a connection to the Web. There is no need to concentrate students in a campus with a library; every web-connected digital device is a library and university combined. The Higher Education cartel is perfectly happy to encourage degree inflation (at enormous expense, of course), but this zeal for issuing student-loan-funded diplomas fails to address two structural disparities: the one between the skills needed to prosper in the emerging economy and the skills colleges are providing students, and the widening income/wealth/education gap between the wealthy and the non-wealthy.
If you listen to TV commentators, you’ve been told the worst is behind us. Growth is picking up, and Europe is coming out of its slumber. No one seems to be concerned that this tepid below-2-percent growth is being entirely fed by the central bank’s massive money printing. It’s a “growth at any price” policy. How quickly we forget. We currently fear Fed tapering, as we should. Yet, we should be even more fearful that it doesn’t taper. Today, we really have a dreaded choice of losing an arm now or two arms and a leg tomorrow. Because the price distortions have been massive, the adjustment will be horrendous. Government policy makers and government economists simply do not understand the critical role of prices in helping discovery and coordination.
It's never different this time. All too often we forget (whether by choice or happenstance) what occurred in the past - missing the lessons from history and, perhaps in an effort to deny the reality, maintaining the status quo that cradles us so warmly every night. In an effort to bring back some of that "memory" - and dispel the inevitable recency bias (and cognitive dissonance) as even the Fed is admitting markets are frothy, we bring you 1999's CNN Special "The New Economy - Boom Without End."
In the 21st century economy, if you want to stay employed, seek out a field that is ascending rather than declining. Most people understand that technology is fundamentally changing the nature of work and employment. These changes are also having a profound effect on the state of the US economy...
Forget Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of expansion ("growth") or recession - what really matters is the social recession, which continues to deepen in America. The term social recession has two distinct meanings: around 2000, the term was used to describe the erosion of social cohesion via the decline of institutions such as marriage and the rise of social problems such as teen pregnancy. We use the term social recession to describe a very different phenomenon, the social and cultural consequences of permanently recessionary economies such as Japan, and now Europe and the U.S.
The Japanese stereotype of excessive courtesy is being confirmed by the actions of prime minster Shinzo Abe who is giving the world a free and timely lesson on the dangers of overly accommodative monetary policy. Whether or not we benefit from the tutorial (Japan will surely not) depends on our ability to understand what is currently happening there. This time around investors in the Japanese market were similarly deluded by fairy tales. Leading economists told them that Japan could cheapen its currency to improve trade, use inflation to create real growth, increase prices to encourage spending, and drastically increase inflation without raising interest rates. In short, monetary policy was seen as substitute for an actual economy.
Now is the time to think about how you would live your life if your real value was appreciated and fairly compensated.
In 1993, management guru Peter Drucker published a short book entitled Post-Capitalist Society. Drucker identified that developed-world economies were entering a new knowledge-based era – as opposed to the preceding industrial-based era - which represented just as big a leap from the agrarian-based one it had superseded. From this perspective, the nation-state is no longer indispensable to the knowledge economy, and as a result, Drucker foresaw the emergence of new social structures would arise and co-exist with the nation-state. Drucker summed up the difference between what many term a post-industrial economy and what he calls a knowledge economy this way: "That knowledge has become the resource rather than a resource is what makes our society 'post-capitalist.' This fact changes – fundamentally – the structure of society. The means of production is and will be knowledge." Though he doesn’t state it directly, this means that the highly centralized sectors of the economy, from finance to government, will be disrupted by a rapidly evolving, decentralized “society of organizations.”
Since the Fed is doing all it can to relieve the big banks and all legacy debtors of their debt obligations, it is only fair that those incumbered with student debt - impacting those who can least afford it - and which is at least on the surface nondischargeable, are afforded the same opportunity. So here is a primer for the rest of us - those who don't have $1.8 trillion in very fungible reserves holed up with the Federal Reserve. As Christopher Glazek and Sean Monahan note, discharging student debt is a black-box dilemma. While bankruptcy protocols are always complex, student debt is loaded with its own special brand of illegibility. Debtors are misled by the media into thinking that discharging student loans is impossible and shamed into treating the mere notion of relief as a form of extravagant welfare-queenism - however, there is a way (or 12 ways) to show your future life prospects are characterized by a “certainty of hopelessness.”
Because humor is always the best and only cure to pervasive central planning that has made a mockery of traditional investing and capital allocation, and because nobody delivers unlimited sheer, unadulterated humor quite as well as one James J. Cramer when he is "recommending" stocks, here is the full text of Jim Cramer's "The Winners of the New World" speech delivered in February 2000. Because it really never is different this time.