As he visited clients around the nation, JPMorgan CIO Michael Cembalest noted a number of questions repeated... why can’t the US spend more on infrastructure? why can’t the US spend more on worker retraining? why is less money being spent on training, employment and related social services? why is energy spending falling? The answer, ne explains below, to all these questions is the same: these categories are declining since they are being squeezed out by the inexorable rise in entitlement payments.
With the Crimea referendum passed and Russia ready to annex the region, the United States and the European Union have threatened sanctions. The full extent of these sanctions is not yet known, and announcements are pending for the end of March. If these measures are concrete, they will of course be followed inevitably by economic warfare, including a reduction of natural gas exports to the EU and the eventually full dump of the U.S. dollar by Russia and China. As I have discussed in recent articles, the result of these actions will be disastrous. For those of us in the liberty movement, it is now impossible to ignore the potential threat to our economy. No longer can people claim that “perhaps” there will be a crisis someday, that perhaps “five or 10 years” down the road we will have to face the music. No, the threat is here now, and it is very real.
- Possible debris off Australia a 'credible lead' for missing Malaysia jet (Reuters)
- Maldives and Afghanistan: Theories Blossom for Airliner (BBG)
- Ukraine Military Concedes on Crimea as Russia Takes Hold (BBG)
- Asia Stocks Drop on Fed; H-Share Index Enters Bear Market (BBG)
- Scientists say destructive solar blasts narrowly missed Earth in 2012 (Reuters)
- GM’s Ignition Victims Need Help From Bankruptcy Judge (BBG)
- U.S. Alleges Inside Traders Used Spycraft, Ate Evidence (WSJ)
- God Meets Profit in Obama Contraceptive Rule Court Case (BBG)
In investing you have opportunities that open up because dogmatic investors say “I don’t do ... ”
A 65-mile stretch of the Mississippi near New Orleans remained closed Monday after two vessels collided and caused an oil spill on Saturday in foggy conditions about 30 miles west of New Orleans. As NBC news reports, the Lindsay Ann Erickson crashed with the Hannah C. Settoon, which was pushing two barges carrying barrels of light crude oil that spilled into the river. Clean-up efforts are underway.
Asian equities are trading lower across the board on the back of some negative credit stories from China. Shanghai Securities News noted that ICBC and some other banks have curbed loans to developers in sectors such as steel and cement. Slower gains in home property prices in China’s tier 1 cities are also not helping sentiment. Beijing and Shenzhen prices rose 0.4% in January, which looks to be the slowest monthly gain since October 2012 according to Bloomberg. Elsewhere there are reports that a property developer in Hangzhou (Tier 2 city in China) is reducing its unit prices by 19%. Our property analysts noted that given the strong gains seen in Tier-1 and some bigger Tier-2 cities in 2013, a slowdown or negative trends in price growth should not be a surprise. Nevertheless, it has been a very weak day for Chinese and HK markets with the Shanghai Composite and the Hang Seng indices down -2.0% and -1.2% lower as we type. Across the region, bourses in Japan and Korea are down -1.0% and -0.6%, respectively.
Tickets to see this year's frigid battle between Seattle and Denver would have cost no more than $85 if they had kept pace with the government's perspective of inflation (CPI). If Super Bowl tickets had tracked the S&P 500's reflationary trajectory, they would cost $275. Instead, in what is the biggest surge in face-value prices YoY ever - more than doubling last year's - the highest Super Bowl tickets this year cost $2,600 face value, a record high. However, resale tickets – where the market really sets the price – tell a quite different (and more) negative story. It’s not simply a lukewarm economy.
Philadelpia may have booed Santa Claus, but last night it was New York's turn to boo a not so jolly, calorie-challenged man, embattled NJ governor Chris Christie, during the ceremonial Super Bowl “handoff” at Times square. However, in the aftermath of Friday's NYT revelations that evidence exists that Christie was aware about the real reason behind the bridge closures as they happened, onlookers only had a brief 30 seconds during which to boo Christie before he promptly departed the stage on his own.
The Shocking Reasons that Americans Are Right to Be More Afraid of Bad Government Policy than Terrorism
Speaking in New Orleans, the President is expected to discuss the economy and we are sure say "sorry" again for that... Perhaps the most interesting thing is that the local Democratic senator - up for re-election - will be skipping the speech. As USA Today notes, Sen. Mary Landrieu who is expected to face a tough re-election battle next year because of her support of Obama's health care law, has a long-standing commitment that will force her to miss the speech (but some political analysts suggest that the decision to skip the speech might be motivated in part by a desire to avoid images of her standing side-by-side with Obama).
One has to wonder if somewhere deep down a change is occurring in America. While stock prices soar to record highs, it is clear a growing number of 'real' people are realizing the nonsense that watching a 'market' as anything indicative of reality has become. The latest 'shift' is the appearance on New Orleans local TV of a two-minute primer on an "alternative" school of economic thought - Austrian Economics. While the anchor is careful to add the caveat that the mainstream economists think the world would be a terrible place if they didn't help us along, the brief clip begins with some useful common sense, "the market alone should decide the value of products and services. If a company is not successful, it should go bankrupt." Indeed...
"I have been cursed at a Chinese border. In Dubai, my passport was studied by three veiled women for over an hour and my suitcase completely dismembered. In the Philippines I had to bribe someone in order to get my visa extended for a few days. Borders, they can be tough, especially in countries known for corruption.
But never, ever, will I return to the United States of America."
- Excerpt from a must read article by Niels Gerson Lohman
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".
On the eve of the eighth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, which has been tracking recovery indicators since the early months after the storm, issued a snapshot of post-Katrina statistics... and the results are mixed. From the good (63% of New Orleans students passing vs 30% pre-Katrina); to the bad (rising adult unemployment and child poverty rates); to the ugly (rapidly collapsing population dynamics reflecting a very 'detroit'-like scenario), it seems there is still work to be done...
A study carried out recently by Nature Climate Change took a look at and analyzed past and present floods in the world and was able to predict the future floods that will take place concerning 136 cities.