Since about 2001, several sectors of the economy have become increasingly inefficient, in the sense that it takes more resources to produce a given output, such as 1000 barrels of oil. This growing inefficiency explains both slowing world economic growth and the sharp recent drop in prices of many commodities, including oil. The mechanism at work is what I would call the crowding out effect. As more resources are required for the increasingly inefficient sectors of the economy, fewer resources are available to the rest of the economy. As a result, wages stagnate or decline. Central banks find it necessary lower interest rates, to keep the economy going. What we seem to be seeing recently is a drop in price to what consumers can afford for some of these increasingly unaffordable sectors. Unless this situation can be turned around quickly, the whole system risks collapse.
As 2014 wheezes and coughs to its termination, I wanted to share some of what I consider to be the best posts of the year.
As Politico's Michael Grunwald writes below (we believe non-satirically), the midterm election’s discontent was illegitimate. The point is that Americans should cheer up! And whose fault is all the collective doom? Well, Bill De Blasio already explained that, as Grunwald confirms, the press has a problem reporting good news. So sit back, grab a drink (though swallow it first) and enjoy reading why "everything is awesome" in America (apart from a record 101.5 million Americans not working, record numbers on foodstamps, record numbers on disability, a record wealth divide, a record - and deadly - racial divide, record poverty, and record child homelessness).
After weeks of preparation by an umbrella group that calls itself the Santa Claus Repudiation Organization Offering Greater Education, students at campuses across America spent Christmas Eve protesting what they consider a dangerous symbol of everything that is wrong with the world today.
2014 was quite a bizarre year. The past 12 months brought us MH370, Ebola, civil war in Ukraine, civil unrest in Ferguson, the rise of ISIS and the fall of the Democrats in the midterm elections. Our world is becoming crazier and more unstable with each passing day, and we have a feeling that things are going to accelerate greatly in 2015... despite record-er-est US stock prices.
Today's early close across markets likely means that the blow-off top multiple-expansion mania phase (because forward EPS estimates over the past couple - that means 2 to Janet Yellen fanatics - weeks have in fact declined) of 2014 may be coming to an end. However with already abysmal volumes literally grinding to an early halt at 1:15 pm Eastern today, and with a market as boring as this one, where any news is immediately interpreted as good, not matter how bad it actually is or how "revised" or "goal-seeked", we may see futures, which already are trading some 4 points above fair value, successfully levitate by another 20 points and hit Goldman's 2100 year end target - year-end for 2015 that is - one year ahead of time.
So what did Americans supposedly spend so much more on compared to the previous revision released one month ago? Was it cars? Furnishings? Housing and Utilities? Recreational Goods and RVs? Or maybe nondurable goods and financial services? Actually no. The answer, just as we predicted precisely 6 months ago is... well, just see for yourselves.
Confused how the US economy just "grew" by 5%? The following analysis explains it all...
The system itself is completely corrupt and thoroughly rigged folks. What started as the totalitarian tiptoe has now turned into an extremely dangerous crony capitalist state.
Despite the authorities' best efforts to keep everything orderly, we know how this global Game of Geopolitical Tetris ends: "Players lose a typical game of Tetris when they can no longer keep up with the increasing speed, and the Tetriminos stack up to the top of the playing field. This is commonly referred to as topping out."
"I’m tired of being outraged!"
Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. "I have not seen a year in which so many risks - some truly existential - piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. It feels like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows..."
"My name is Jasmine and I support President Obama's move to give affordable auto insurance for everyone."
Just like with the Mohammed Islam story, the religious belief by the cheerleading crew that the crashing price of oil is so "unambiguously, unquestionably, undisputably" good for the US is so taken for granted, that nobody actually checked the facts.So here is one such attempt by the FT, which writes that "almost $1 trillion of spending on future oil projects is at risk as a result of the plunge in crude to $60."
Those who voted for the omnibus to avoid a shutdown fail to grasp that the consequences of blindly expanding government are far worse than the consequences of a temporary government shutdown. A short or even long-term government shutdown is a small price to pay to avoid an economic calamity caused by Congress’ failure to reduce spending and debt.