It’s become rather obvious that current stimulus plans are not working. Rather than scrap the madness and start over, our world political and economic leaders insist on a rather bizarre analysis that what they are doing is actually correct. But the reason for its ineffectiveness is that they haven’t done enough of it. In other words, yes the central banks and governments of the world have certainly dug themselves into a pretty deep hole. Yet, instead of trying to climb out or shout for help, they ask for more shovels – dig deeper! Many people have commented that all the world really needs is a little more confidence. Once people and companies become more comfortable they’ll start to spend again. This view is 100% correct – but what’s missing from this analysis is the reason confidence is declining. The reason for the decline is due to the very policy actions of our governments and central banks to help restore confidence. Their actions are actually causing people to have less confidence – talk about irony.
The Great Depression did not represent the failure of capitalism or some inherent suicidal tendency of the free market to plunge into cyclical depression - absent the constant ministrations of the state through monetary, fiscal, tax and regulatory interventions. Instead, the Great Depression was a unique historical occurrence - the delayed consequence of the monumental folly of the Great War, abetted by the financial deformations spawned by modern central banking. But ironically, the “failure of capitalism” explanation of the Great Depression is exactly what enabled the Warfare State to thrive and dominate the rest of the 20th century because it gave birth to what have become its twin handmaidens - Keynesian economics and monetary central planning. Together, these two doctrines eroded and eventually destroyed the great policy barrier - that is, the old-time religion of balanced budgets - that had kept America a relatively peaceful Republic until 1914. The good Ben (Franklin that is) said,” Sir you have a Republic if you can keep it”. We apparently haven’t.
One hundred years ago today the world was shook loose of its moorings. Every school boy knows that the assassination of the archduke of Austria at Sarajevo was the trigger that incited the bloody, destructive conflagration of the world’s nations known as the Great War. But this senseless eruption of unprecedented industrial state violence did not end with the armistice four years later. In fact, 1914 is the fulcrum of modern history. It is the year the Fed opened-up for business just as the carnage in northern France closed-down the prior magnificent half-century era of liberal internationalism and honest gold-backed money. So it was the Great War’s terrible aftermath - a century of drift toward statism, militarism and fiat money - that was actually triggered by the events at Sarajevo.
Since everyone and their pundit grandmother has opined on volatility in the past month, we will say no more and instead of Wall Street, we will do a Wallace Stevens, with 13 ways of looking at record low volatility, in charts.
As individuals, it is entirely acceptable to be "optimistic" about the future. However, "optimism" and "pessimism" are emotional biases that tend to obfuscate the critical thinking required to effectively assess the "risks". The current "hope" that Q1 was simply a "weather related" anomaly is also an emotionally driven skew. The underlying data suggests that while "weather" did play a role in the sluggishness of the economy, it was also just a reflection of the continued "boom bust" cycle that has existed since the end of the financial crisis. The current downturn in real final sales suggests that the underlying strength in the economy remains extremely fragile. More importantly, with final sales below levels normally associated with the onset of recessions, it suggests that the current rebound in activity from the sharp decline in Q1 could be transient.
The economic releases of the past few days are putting the lie to the Keynesian escape velocity myth. The latter is not just around the corner—-and 2014 is now virtually certain to mark the fifth year running when the boom predicted by Wall Street economist at the beginning of the year fizzled as actual results unfolded.
The economy must be doing great, right? The market's at all-time highs... We suspect President Obama will 'brush off' the Q1 GDP collapse and focus his 'remarks on the US economy' on how well America is doing; how exceptional it's growth is'; and how any minute now it's going to the moon alice (and not just the Fed balance sheet). And just a reminder, the last time Obama spoke aggressively on 'fixing' inequality, stocks were not happy. Remember, the greatest irony of it all...
With all eyes firmly focused on yesterday's disastrous GDP report (and ultimately dismissing it as 'weather' and one-off exogenous factors), we thought Bloomberg Brief's Rich Yamarone's analysis of a lesser-known (yet just as key) indicator of the state of US economic health was intriguing. As he notes, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Economic analysis, there has never been a time in history that year-over-year gross domestic income has been at its current pace (2.6 percent) without the U.S. economy ultimately falling into recession. That’s more than 50 years of history, which is about as good as one could ever hope for in an economic indicator.
How in the world does the government expect us to trust the economic numbers that they give us anymore? For a long time, many have suspected that they were being manipulated, and as you will see below it appears we now have proof that this is indeed the case.
The end game of three decades of excess is upon us, and we can't deny the weight of the debt imbalances that are currently in play. The medicine that the current administration is prescribing is a treatment for the common cold; in this case a normal business cycle recession. The problem is that the patient is suffering from a "debt cancer," and until the proper treatment is prescribed and implemented; the patient will most likely continue to suffer.
The government now has another measure which under-reports inflation by accounting chicanery...
I heard it said one day that I would never be as rich as my parents. They were baby-boomers, the people that benefited from the expansionary Thirty Glorious Years of the post-Second-World-War period.
- Minorities Seen Driving U.S. Household Growth (Reuters)
- GM prepares to recall some Cruze sedans with Takata air bags (Reuters)
- PBOC Halts Repos as China Money Rate Climbs to Seven-Week High (BBG)
- Ukraine Optimism Wavers on Peace as Cease-Fire Winds Down (BBG)
- Economic Rebound Seen Undercut by Weak Pay as Vote Winner (BBG)
- Cracks Open in Dark Pool Defense With Barclays Lawsuit (BBG)
- The Survivor: How Eric Holder outlasted his (many) critics (Politico)
- IBM, Lenovo Tackle Security Worries on Server Deal (WSJ)
- Militants take Iraqi gas field town, president calls parliament session (Reuters)
- Carney Surprises Confounding Markets as BOE Manages Guidance (BBG)
Remember when in January 2014, Q1 GDP was expected to rise 2.6%? Well, here comes the final Q1 GDP revision and it's a doozy: at -2.9%, far below the -1.8% expected and well below the -1.0% second revision, it is an absolute disaster, and is the worst print since Q1 2009.
Iin Q1, US total Federal debt rose by $250 billion, to a record (duh) $17.6 trillion. This debt "bought" a negative $74 billion in GDP, which declined to $17.0 trillion. Said otherwise, this was the first quarter since the end of the recession when debt rose (by a whopping amount), and when GDP declined sequentially in nominal terms.