The Greater Depression has started. Most people don't know it because they can neither confront the thought nor understand the differences between this one and the last. As a climax approaches, many of the things that you've built your life around in the past are going to change and change radically.
We are experiencing 1970’s style stagflation, coming from the supply side, not demand. Prices are going up because Norges Bank continues to destroy the Norwegian Krone, turning it into the Nordic Peso. This is where they are “hiding” the damage to save rest of the economy. For example, housing prices will rise in NOK but fall in USD or gold (universal commodity) terms. It’s a shell game, leading to long term decline or even worse, an unexpected period of elevated inflation, requiring a rapid rise in interest rates.
Today, Reuters finally peels away the first layer of just how bad China's mass layoff wave will be when it reports that China aims to lay off 5-6 million state workers over the next two to three years as part of efforts to curb industrial overcapacity and pollution. As Reuters adds, "China's leadership, obsessed with maintaining stability and making sure redundancies do not lead to unrest, will spend nearly 150 billion yuan ($23 billion) to cover layoffs in just the coal and steel sectors in the next 2-3 years."
Initial jobless claims dropped notably last week (from 285 to 269k) but the overall trend (away from the noise) appears in tact. The smoother4-week average remains near 12-month highs and as Goldman notes weakness is widespread - "there is only limited evidence that the rise in claims is due to distress in the energy sector." Continuing claims dropped modestly to 2.239mm but, as Goldman adds, "the persistence of the recent move suggests more might be going on, and we are treating the increase as more than just noise."
At a printing factory in the western city of Chongqing, a Reuters reporter was present when a local official visited last week to make sure the boss paid his workers before the Year of the Monkey begins. The official declined to speak with Reuters, although the boss later said it was an attempt to prevent unrest. "That's what the government is most fearful of," said the factory owner, who did not want to be named.
With all of the focus on oil, not much attention has been paid to the impact the commodities downturn has had on other things people pull out of the ground in North America. Courtesy of the Washington Post, we get an in-depth look at the dramatic effect slumping demand and acute overcapacity in China has had on one corner of America’s Heartland: Minnesota's "iron ridge."
The dream and demand of Bernie Sanders and all of the other "democratic socialists" of all political parties is that all or at least significant parts of human life need to be micromanaged and controlled by government so people may be liberated from the "tyranny" of not having all they may want without finding effective ways of acquiring it through honest and peaceful work. The "freedom" about which Bernie Sanders speaks, and before him Franklin Roosevelt, in fact, involves a loss of liberty into an even greater degree of political paternalism.
So how do you grow household wealth by $18 trillion in the face of these dismal real world trends? In a word, with a printing press. But what happened today is that Draghi showed he is out of tricks and Yellen confessed she is out of excuses. Yes, this sucker is going down. And this time all the misguided economics professors turned central bankers in the world will be powerless to reverse the plunge.
The allure of ill-gotten oil money remains strong. The lull in drilling has given oil companies more time to scrutinize their operations -- and their losses. As Bloomberg reports, during booms "they are moving at such a rapid pace there’s not a lot of auditing and inventorying going on," said Gary Painter, sheriff in Midland County, Texas, in the oil-rich Permian Basin; but "whenever it slows down, they start looking for stuff and find out it never got delivered or it got delivered and it’s gone." From raw crude sucked from wells to expensive machinery that disappears out the back door, drillers from Texas to Colorado are struggling to stop theft that has only worsened amid tens of thousands of lost roughneck jobs.
"We expect the economy to continue to face strong headwinds from higher interest rates, exigent financing conditions, high inflation, significant labor market deterioration, higher levels of inventory in key industrial sectors, higher public tariffs and taxes, high levels of household indebtedness, weak external demand, soft commodity prices, political uncertainty, and extremely depressed consumer and business confidence."
Believers in "technology always creates more jobs than it destroys" never address the knotty issues of taxpayer subsidies, secular trends of higher labor costs, the eradication of low-skill jobs that pay enough to live on without taxpayer subsidies, or the structural surplus of conventional labor and capital--the scarcity value of both are dropping to zero. While many hope that every low-skill person can become a high-skilled worker, training people doesn't create jobs for them.
The 'crapification' of jobs is the direct result of the 'crapification' of the economy.
Having hit new 42-year lows last week, initial jobless claims once again beat expectations but rose very modestly from a revised 256k to 259k this week. This continues to diverge drastically from Challenger job cuts data, from weakening payrolls data, and from collapsing ISM survey employment indicators... so who is lying?
The current detachment between the financial markets and the real economy continues. The Federal Reserve's continued accommodative stance continues to support asset prices despite a decline in profit margins, an increase in deflationary pressures and a weak economic backdrop. So, while jobless claims and job openings may be touted as signs of an improving job market, the data suggests that we have likely seen the peak for this current economic cycle.