When the Arab Spring sprung a few years ago, the world's eyes only really cared about one nation. If Saudi Arabia's elite could not keep paying off their poor, an uprising in the world's largest oil supplier could have significant (and catastrophic) consequences for the rest of the world. Of course, between being paid to lose weight (in gold) and raising unemployment insurance, the government has kept trouble at bay. However, things are shifting. As DPA repots, two police were killed after coming under heavy gunfire while trying to arrest several Shiite activists. Of course, this is a one off but notable in its occurrence for the first time since 2011. Saudi Arabia blames Iran of inciting its Shiite citizens to disturb security and stability.
While the Federal Reserve's interventions continue to create a wealth effect for market participants, it is something only enjoyed primarily by those at the upper end of the pay scale. For the rest of the country, the key issue is between the "have and have nots" - those that have a job and those that don't. While it is true that the country is creating jobs every month, the data may be suggesting it is "as good as it gets." Of course, this is a very disappointing statement when you consider that roughly 1 in 3 people sit outside of the workforce, 20% of the population uses food stamps, and 100 million people access some form of welfare assistance. The good news is, we aren't in a recession? Yet...
As the State of the Union address highlighted, both the Russia Federation and the United States have leaders that lean toward various degrees of autocratic government to achieve their agendas. President Putin rules with an iron fist and treats the legislative branch as an afterthought to use as needed but otherwise ignores. President Obama declares he will use executive action to get what he wants and quietly uses government agencies to intimidate and stifle his opposition in flagrant abuses of power. Putin has dismantled the Russian free press and imprisoned vocal opponents. The majority of the American press does Obama’s bidding for him while the administration puts movie makers in jail.
With Washington fighting over whether to stop emergency unemployment benefits in the US, the Saudi Arabian government has re-written their economic textbooks with some wonderful new logic. In an effort to encourage its citizens to seek jobs in private companies (as opposed to the majority in government jobs - which the IMF sees as unsustainable), the Saudis are introducing compulsory unemployment insurance for all citizens with jobs. As Reuters reports, "It may not be the most cost effective solution in the near term but if it helps normalise the labour market it is a price worth paying." With unemployment at 12%, and only 30-40% labor force participation, the costs could be significant.
All it took was a year or two of extremely obvious "catches" of leaked data for the government to begin to decide that perhaps, just perhaps, it is time to end the press lockup for each week's initial jobless claims data. As the WSJ reports, the original idea behind lockups was to give reporters time to digest complicated economic reports to produce accurate reports for the public. In the past decade, news organizations have also built expensive networks to send government data to high-speed investors who can make trades on the data before members of the public can react. Now, however, the BLS believes, "government data is for the public good and it is paid for by taxpayer dollars. There must be a commitment to a level playing field."
There seem to be two camps at Deutsche Bank these days: one, lead by the observant and somewhat contrarian Jim Reid, who recently asked the all important question about 2014 ("what if there is a recession?"), who accurately observed that something "structurally changed" since the great financial crisis (pretty clear what), and who even dared to suggest that the Fed will never taper, especially with the economy so late in the cycle already. And then there is Joe LaVorgna, best known for having a losing track record to Groundhog Phil. It appears that this morning Joey emerged from his lair deep inside 60 Wall, sniffed the cold air, and saw the shadow of a $10 billion taper, which is what he predicts the Fed will do tomorrow.
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".
Government Workers Told Not To Work On "Any Projects, Tasks, Activities Or Respond To Emails Or Voicemails"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/01/2013 07:15 -0400
Dear government workers: welcome to the private sector. This is what it feels like to have job insecurity. For the past 7 hours, some 800,000 suddenly idle Federal workers received furlough notices but were told they will still have to report to work for about four hours Tuesday even though the government is shutting down. Or, rather "work." As AP reports, various federal agencies said employees would be limited to doing work related to the shutdown, including changing voicemail messages, posting an out-of-office message on email, securing work stations and documents and completing time cards. At the Environmental Protection Agency, for example, employees were told they cannot work on "any projects, tasks, activities or respond to emails." The more cynical ones out there may ask: just how is that any change?
While the unemployment rate has been falling, currently at 7.3%, it has not been because of a strongly increasing workforce. Rather it has been a function of people leaving the workforce. This, of course, brings up the obvious question of how these people are live if they aren't working. A recent trip to Walmart answered that question...
Louisiana tops the nation's list of "improper" payments for unemployment insurance with a 3-year rate of 38.67%. Of course, this is the "improper" payments they know about (as only 29.7% of overpayments have been recovered). A stunning 28% of Louisanans who claimed benefits did so even after returning to work. However, while the Louisiana data points are bad, they are not alone. As the chart below shows... 16 states have "improper" payment rates of over 14%. One wonders why the world doesn't trust the US so much anymore?
‘The bigger they are, the harder they fall’ has always been true and is seemingly even more so today with regard to the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China)
The media, the financial markets and investors have become fixated on the unemployment rate, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, particularly since it was directly linked by the Federal Reserve to its current bond buying program. What is clearly evident is that, despite the headline reports, there is clearly an alarming divergence in employment from the long-term trend. The structural shift in employment away from manufacturing and production to a service and outsourced based economy has clearly created a deviation that will not likely be corrected for decades to come. The implications for the Federal Reserve, and the economy, should be concerning. While the hope is that the economy will suddenly spark back towards stronger growth; the supply/demand imbalance suggests otherwise.
Wall Street bankers, Washington politicians, economists and the media trumpet a substantial rebound in the U.S. economy, in the second half of 2013 and beyond, as a result of the Federal Reserve’s continued and open ended use of $85 billion dollars a month in quantitative easing. Learn why this is wishful thinking. Rather than do want is necessary to solve the ongoing 2008 credit crisis, those in power stoop to public relations tricks and propaganda.
Healthcare insurance illustrates how incremental increases can lead to systemic collapse.