The US economy is a house of cards. Every aspect of it is fraudulent, and the illusion of recovery is created with fraudulent statistics. American capitalism itself is an illusion. However, Washington has unique subjects. Americans will take endless abuse and blame some outside government for their predicament – Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, China, Russia. Such an insouciant and passive people are ideal targets for looting, and their economy, hollowed-out by looting, is a house of cards.
Dispassionate discussion of the near-term forces at work in the foreign exchange market.
Despite popular belief, very few things in our world are exactly what they seem. That which is painted as righteous is often evil. That which is painted as kind is often malicious. That which is painted as simple is often complex. That which is painted as complex often ends up being disturbingly two dimensional. Regardless, if a person is willing to look only at the immediate surface of a thing, he will never understand the content of the thing. This fact is nowhere more evident than in the growing “tensions” between the elites of the West and the elites of the East over the crisis in Ukraine. The centralization of power is best achieved during moments of bewildering calamity. The conjuring of crises is one of the oldest methods of elitist dominance. Not only can they confuse and frighten the masses into malleability, but they can also ride to the public’s rescue as heroes and saviors later on. The Hegelian dialectic is the mainstay of tyrants.
"I got to ask [Bernanke] all these questions that had been on my mind for a very long period of time, right? And then on the other side, it was like sort of frightening because the answers weren’t any better than I thought that they might be." - David Einhorn
"as a businessman, I’m thrilled... never dreamed we'd [borrow so cheaply] at artificial rates... it's Nirvana... unless you look at the truth of the matter and the impact it has on your customers and your employees... that’s a much darker story... for every businessman in America and any economist that has their heads screwed on right, it’s an ominous situation... But look at it from a consumers’ point of view or a working person’s point of view, who’s paying for all this cheap money? Well, right now, the Fed is. I thought Bernie Madoff went to jail for that."
Robot is a Czech word, meaning ‘forced labor’. It’s a bit like slavery, but when it’s a machine nobody gives a damn.
I do have a heightened sense of alertness to what may be in store should the hubris of the current market run fail to permeate into forecasts and expectation announcements over the coming months.
This time is different - check; Moral Hazard - check; Easy Money - check; Overblown growth stories - check; No valuation anchor - check; Conspicuous consumption - check; Ponzi finance - check... and, of course, Irrational exuberance: check!
The risky borrowing indicators are troubling. They show that we’ve reverted to old habits of borrowing far more than we can fund with non-money savings. At almost 10% of GDP in 2013, risky borrowing is higher than in all but the early 1970s and middle part of the last decade. This tells us that we’re accumulating risk at a rapid clip, although not for as long as in those earlier episodes. (Yet.) Worse still, policymakers and mainstream economists are unperturbed, failing to acknowledge that some types of financing are riskier than others. It’s as if we’re stuck at a 1970s Pepsi Challenge booth, watching people debate cola tastes with no mention of health risks. With ample evidence of these risks, how can this be? One theory is that the current generation of mainstream economists staked their careers on the soda business, filling resumes with research on topics such as sweetness and carbonation, but nothing on health. It’s just too big a step for them to acknowledge that the old research is unhelpful and the resumes hollow. We can only hope that the unpopular, long-term thinkers who are willing to take that step become more influential over time. In the meantime, keep an eye on the sources of financing and, in particular, the three indicators of risky borrowing discussed below.
Did you know that there are nearly 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now? And 20 percent of all families in the United States do not have a single member that is employed. So how in the world can the government claim that the unemployment rate has "dropped" to "6.3 percent"? Well, it all comes down to how you define who is "unemployed". For example, last month the government moved another 988,000 Americans into the "not in the labor force" category. According to the government, at this moment there are 9.75 million Americans that are "unemployed" and there are 92.02 million Americans that are "not in the labor force" for a grand total of 101.77 million working age Americans that do not have a job. Back in April 2000, only 5.48 million Americans were unemployed and only 69.27 million Americans were "not in the labor force" for a grand total of 74.75 million Americans without a job. That means that the number of working age Americans without a job has risen by 27 million since the year 2000. Any way that you want to slice that, it is bad news.
The still-dominant consensus view that America’s economy is poised to single-handedly yank the world out of its lethargy is likely to be disappointed once again with the odds high that our economy will remain burdened by growth-inhibiting monetary policies. In addition, it will continue to be negatively impacted by various other impediments, including a populace that is increasingly under-employed, an unwieldy and inscrutable tax code, a Rube Goldberg-like healthcare system, an increasingly ossified infrastructure, and a regulatory apparatus that congests the lungs of our economy, small businesses... weaning the stock market off of casino capitalism promises to be anything but pain-free. But did any responsible adult really believe there would be no pay-back for all these years of the Fed’s force-fed gains? If you do, you probably also believe foie gras grows on trees.
You don’t benefit from it, but you pay for it as a result of the government losing out. Yes, the government complacently sits back and does nothing while tax havens enable people to put their money hidden away in some secret off-shore excuse for a bank while at the very same time the taxpayer ends up paying for what the state is losing out on.
Speaking at The Brooking Institution on April 12, Reserve Bank Of India Governor Raghuram Rajan - no stranger to controversial truthiness (as we have noted here and here) - made clear his views on the rest of the world's central bankers as he concluded, "the first step to prescribing the right medicine is to recognize the cause of the illness. And, when it comes to what is ailing the global economy, extreme monetary easing has been more cause than cure. The sooner we recognize that, the stronger and more sustainable the global economic recovery will be."
The early session risk on trade, which materialized after the Pfizer confirmation it was seeking to buy AstraZeneca, and which sent the GBPUSD to its highest level since 2009, and also sent the EURUSD and EURJPY soaring in the process lifting US equity futures, has started to fizzle on the most recent news out of Ukraine, where the pro-Russian mayor of Ukraine's second largest city of Kharkiv was shot in the back in an apparent assassination attempt, which happened hours before the US is set to announce more sanctions against the Kremlin and its closest financial oligarchs. As a result, futures have pared gaisn modestly, especially since AstraZeneca made it clear with its initial reponse it has no interest in Pfizer's offer in its current format.