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 06:15 -0500
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.
Almost three years ago we first highlighted the real math behind the surging entitlement class that America has become. So why does a large portion of the population choose not to work when there are many jobs available? The answer is simple. If you can receive 2-3 times as much money from unemployment, disability, and/or welfare benefits (subsidized housing, food stamps, free cellphones, etc.) as you can from a temporary or part-time job, and live a life of leisure, why work? This is the ugly reality we illustrated just six months ago and the situation - amid what is apparently called a 'recovery' remains a depressingly real sign of the times. The political allure of free is so strong that an alarming number of people choose to become wards of the entitlement/welfare state rather than captain their own destiny. Indeed, while many are 'proud', 49% of American households now receive one or more government transfer benefits amounting to 18% of all personal income and a burden of $7,400 for every American - seemingly threatening the supposed self-reliance that has long characterized the American national psyche.
When even the political elite are voicing concerns about the possible social implications of youth unemployment rates in Europe being so egregiously high, you know that there are problems. The question many have is that until now riots have been few and far between (most notably Sweden and Switzerland recently); so why are the main areas of massive unemployment not seeing the widespread chaos? The answer, perhaps unsurprisingly, is in government handouts but as Stratfor notes, time is running out for the benefit-beholden generation and perhaps the governments will finally see what so many have been fearful of.
Beneath the unemployment rate and headline jobs number is a world of labor market signals that few, if any, ever take the time to look at. ConvergEx's Nick Colas analyzes 10 under-reported signals to look for alternative clues about the direction of the job market and, in his words, the results aren’t pretty. We’re still 2 years away from full employment at the current pace of job growth, and more people are entering the labor force for the first time since the 1980s, adding to already fierce competition for open positions. Not to mention over 7% of those not in the labor force actually want a job right now (also intensifying competition), and the rate of job growth isn’t enough to offset the number of unemployed workers with expiring benefits. On the plus side, the number of re-entrants to the labor force is at a 4-year low. And for those who do have a job, average wages are higher than ever. However, the majority of the analysis shows the labor market remains stubbornly resistant to improvement - despite talking heads belief in 'taper'ing on improvements.
Since the end of the recession businesses have been increasing their bottom line profitability by massive cost cuts rather than increased revenue. Of course, one of the highest "costs" to any business is labor. One way that we can measure this view is by looking at corporate profits on a per employee basis. Currently, that ratio is at the highest level on record. The problem that businesses are beginning to face currently is that while they have slashed labor costs to the bone there is a point to where businesses simply cannot cut further. At this point businesses have to begin to "hoard" what labor they have, maximize that labor force's productivity (increase output with minimal increases in labor costs) and hire additional labor, primarily temporary, only when demand forces expansion. The issue of "labor hoarding" also explains the sharp drop in initial weekly jobless claims. This is likely obscuring the real weakness in the underlying economy. Without an increase in the demand part of the equation businesses are likely to continue resorting to further productivity increases to stretch the current labor force farther to protect profitability. However, as we may currently be witnessing, businesses may be reaching the limits of what they can do.
Last week at its regular policy-setting meeting, the Federal Reserve affirmed that it is prepared to increase its monthly purchases of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities if things don’t start looking up. In all, the Fed has pumped more than a half trillion dollars into the economy since announcing its latest round of “quantitative easing” (QE3) in September 2012. With no recovery in sight, where’s all this money going? It is creating bubbles. Bubbles in the housing sector, the stock market, and government debt. In the meantime, real families are suffering. We are certainly not in a recovery. We don’t see the long unemployment and soup kitchen lines like in the Great Depression, but that’s just because the lines are electronic now. We know what the real solution is: allow the marketplace to work. Restore sound money to the economy and the American people. Sound money is the bedrock for prosperity and the best check on big government and crony capitalism.
Any hopes that the S&P would hit a new all time high on horrible initial claims data may have been dashed following a report that initial claims for unemployment insurance dropped from an upward revised 355K (was 352K) to 339K, better than the expected 350K, and down to a nearly fresh five year low. It was unclear immediately following the report which states were estimated if any: as a reminder last week the DOL announced that 2 states had their data estimated. Continuing claims dropped from an upward revised 3093K to 3000K, the lowest in 5 years. Of course, with millions of people now prematurely out of the labor participation rate, what if any data the initial claims report provides these days, is very much unclear.