Productivity Myths Shattered: Is Productivity Rising Or Falling? Why?

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,

The debate over productivity rages on. Some believe productivity is understated. Others believe it is overstated.

Janet Yellen believes a lack of strong productivity gains may be responsible for tepid wage gains.

Financial Times writer Edward Luce is confused, as are many others. Luce discusses The Mystery of Weak US Productivity.

Osborne on Productivity

In 2105, then UK chancellor George Osborne made boosting UK Productivity a Priority.

“Let me be clear: improving the productivity of our country is the route to raising standards of living for everyone in this country,” he said. “Our future prosperity depends on it.”

Greenspan on Productivity

In an Interview with Gold Investor Alan Greenspan blamed the aging of baby boomers.

We have been through a protracted period of stagnant productivity growth, particularly in the developed world, driven largely by the aging of the ‘baby boom’ generation. Social benefits (entitlements in the US) are crowding out gross domestic savings, the primary source for funding investment, dollar for dollar. The decline in gross domestic savings as a share of GDP has suppressed gross non-residential capital investment.

 

Output per hour has been growing at approximately 1⁄2% annually in the US and other developed countries over the past five years, compared with an earlier growth rate closer to 2%. That is a huge difference, which is reflected proportionately in the gross domestic product and in people’s standard of living.

 

As productivity growth slows down, the whole economic system slows down. That has provoked despair and a consequent rise in economic populism from Brexit to Trump. Populism is not a philosophy or a concept, like socialism or capitalism, for example. Rather it is a cry of pain, where people are saying: Do something. Help!

Yellen on Productivity

On May 22, 2015, Janet Yellen pointed a finger at the recession while also blaming low productivity for lack of wage growth in her Outlook for the Economy.

I have mentioned the tepid pace of wage gains in recent years, and while I do take this as evidence of slack in the labor market, it also may be a reflection of relatively weak productivity growth.

 

Economists debate how optimistic to be about our nation’s productivity prospects. Some argue that the decade starting in the mid-1990s was exceptional, with unusually large advances in information technologies, and that the more recent period provides a better guide to the future. Others are more optimistic, suggesting that recent technological innovation remains as impressive as ever, and that history shows it may take some years to fully reap the economic benefits of such innovations.7 I do not know who is right, but I do believe that, as a nation, we should be pursuing policies to support longer-run growth in productivity.

 

It also is possible that a portion of the relatively weak productivity growth we have seen recently may be the result of the recession itself.

G7 Productivity 1975-2015

Chart from the Resolution Foundation.

Myth #1 Shattered

Yellen blamed the recession and lack of productivity for poor earnings growth. Greenspan blamed the aging of baby boomers.

Given real earnings have been nearly flat since 1979 while real output is up 94.9%, those theories are obviously faulty.

Doesn’t the Fed bother to test their theories against actual data? You have the answer.

The Fed is puzzled over rising income inequality. It ought to look in the mirror. Its bubble-blowing tactics and insistence on 2% inflation in a technological price-deflationary world are to blame.

Myth #2 Shattered

Economists and writers are puzzled by the decline in productivity. I can explain in a series of charts.

The decline in overall productivity is tied to a slowdown in manufacturing productivity. This too should not be hard to figure out.

Despite all the talk of burger robots, trucking robots, Amazon robots etc, productivity enhancements in the service sector are very slow

  1. We need the same number if not more teachers, policeman, firefighters, etc.
  2. We need an increasing number of nurses due to aging and poor diets.
  3. We have not seen any enhancements in trucking or limo services.
  4. Amazon likely boosted productivity but that is at the expense of a decline in productivity at brick-and-mortar stores. It takes a minimum number of people just to open the doors.

Why the Slowdown in Manufacturing?

In the first quarter of 1979, there were 17.465 million manufacturing employees. The index of real output was 69.789.

In the fourth quarter of 2016, there were 12.235 million manufacturing employees, a decline of 5.23 million jobs. Meanwhile, the index of real output jumped to 86% 129.665.

The law of diminishing returns is in play. Robots are not going to eliminate every job.

Profit Warning

Manufacturing shipments are down vs the index of aggregate wages. This is a strong profit warning.

Productivity Overstated or Understated?

Many believe productivity is understated. They cite cell phones and other technological advances.

That’s actually a reason to believe productivity is declining. People are tied to their phones for work. How many hours do people spend on the phone while on vacation, on weekends, or on their days off answering corporate emails?

There are no numbers on the above, nor are there any numbers on the hours that supervisors at McDonald’s, Target, Macys etc, put in. Given performance pressures on big box retailers, pressures to work more than 40 hours while getting paid for 40 hours must be intense.

Myth-Shattering Conclusions

  1. Declining productivity is not responsible for tepid wage gains as many, if not most economists believe.
  2. Declining overall productivity is directly tied to declining manufacturing productivity.
  3. Service sector productivity is likely overstated due to off-hours work by email or phone.
  4. The Fed’s serial bubble blowing efforts, bank bailouts, and insistence on 2% inflation in a deflationary world are to blame for stagnant real wages.
  5. The Fed cannot do a damn thing to increase productivity other than to get the hell out of they way. Abolishing the Fed would be an excellent start.

Those who are baffled by productivity never bothered to put their theories to rudimentary tests.

Nonetheless, Greenspan is correct on some things, especially social benefits crowding out genuine investment. Thus, those proposing some sort of guaranteed minimum living wage are totally off base.

Entitlements are already a massive problem, let’s not make them worse.  Massive handouts have never solved any economic problems, and never will.

Missing Data

Unfortunately, there is no data prior to 1979 for my Myth #1 chart.

It is quite possible, if not highly likely, the productivity mess that appears to have started in 1979 has its actual roots in 1971 when Nixon closed the gold window.

Regardless, the above charts show the secular stagnation theory of Larry Summers and Brad DeLong is highly suspect.

Secular Stagnation Thesis

Brad DeLong discusses Larry Summers’ “secular stagnation thesis” in Three, Four… Many Secular Stagnations!

DeLong list 17 reasons and his number one reason is “High income inequality, which boosts savings too much because the rich can’t think of other things they’d rather do with their money.

Pin the Tail on the Donkey

At no point does either DeLong or Summers pin the tail on this donkey. Neither can, because income inequality is a symptom of the problem.

That problem started the moment Nixon closed the gold window. The event is now described as “Nixon Shock”.

Indeed it was. Unencumbered by a need to redeem gold, credit exploded.

Credit Market Before and After Gold Window Closed

total-credit-market-debt3

Gold Window Synopsis

  1. Total credit exploded from $1.7 trillion to $63.5 trillion at the end of 2015.
  2. To service that growing pile of debt, the Fed had to keep slashing interest rates.
  3. Instead of allowing consumers to benefit from technological advances that are inherently price deflationary, the Fed sought to increase inflation. This is to the benefit of the banks and already wealthy.
  4. A policy of 2% inflation coupled with no restraints on trade deficits (thanks to removal of the gold window), encouraged the outsourcing of jobs.
  5. After the dot-com bubble burst in 2001, the Greenspan Fed stepped on gas blowing the biggest housing bubble on record. Then the Fed bailed out the banks, the asset holders and the wealthy. This chain of events left the median person being worse off than before.
  6. Given that executive pay is based on performance, rising share prices further benefited the top 1%.
  7. Fed policy itself, coupled with a rampant expansion of credit thanks to Nixon closing the gold window is totally responsible for the rising income inequality from 1971-present.

Attacking Symptoms

Instead of attacking the symptoms of the problem, as Summers and DeLong do, let’s be honest about the real problem. Let’s also be honest about the alleged scourge of deflation.

My Challenge to Keynesians “Prove Rising Prices Provide an Overall Economic Benefit” has gone unanswered.

There is no answer because history and logic both show that concerns over consumer price deflation are seriously misplaced.

The BIS did a study and found routine deflation was not any problem at all.

Deflation may actually boost output. Lower prices increase real incomes and wealth. And they may also make export goods more competitive,” stated the BIS study.

For a discussion of the BIS study, please see Historical Perspective on CPI Deflations: How Damaging are They?

The final irony in this ridiculous mix is central bank policies stimulate massive wealth inequality fueled by soaring stock prices.

Grasping Reality With Both Hands

Delong’s blog is entitled “Grasping Reality With Both Hands“. It would behoove, Delong, Summers, and Ben Bernanke to do just that.

A good starting point is “why” income inequality is rising as opposed to investigating ridiculous wealth-transfer schemes and government stimulus projects in a fool’s mission to fix a problem that Summers, DeLong, Bernanke, Krugman, and Yellen all fail to understand.

Finally, it would be a good idea to consider what happens when service sector productivity picks up (and it will, led by driverless trucks).

Here’s a hint for Yellen: Millions of workers will be displaced and demand for jobs will pick up. Wages pressures will be to the downside, the opposite of what Yellen believes.

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I am Jobe's picture

Tinder, FuckBook, Twitter, Linkdin , Instagram are considered Productivity Tools. Jus tlook around and the folks just wanting post and chat and post and chat. Dumb Fuck Americans 

froze25's picture

You know what hand out I want to see? Realistic tax breaks for working couples with kids that get destroyed from childcare expenses while the Welfare queens get something for absolutely nothing.

piceridu's picture

Great article ZH...the emperor has no clothes.

divingengineer's picture

Yes, I know mine runs $1,200 a month. That would be a welcome relief. We'd like to have another child, but only being two professionals, we cannot afford it. 

Killdo's picture

in Russia they have 3 years paid maternity leave (and it's the government that pays - not the company)

OpenThePodBayDoorHAL's picture

Mish almost gets to the point, but not quite.

Productivity is measured in GDP per capita.

GDP is measured in (wait for it): dollars.

So even if productivity was growing (people making more stuff than they used to), the amount of stuff per dollar is going the other way. 

There are 330 million Americans. Go ask any single one of them if they would be thrilled to pay prices from a year or two ago. Let alone 3-5 years ago.

End the Fed.

Consuelo's picture

+1000

 

$2200 rent checks (to cover a $2400 payment) from the Housing Assistance Program for (single) Women with 2 or more children.

 

I know.  It's my rental...    And it ain't in slumville either.   Townhome in middle-up area of the Bay Area.

 

I knows of what you speak Brother ---

konputa's picture

Seriously, where's the chart correlating the adoption of smart phones and the ubiquitous rise in social media/casual gaming on said smart phones? I see people on the damn things all the time. It doesn't matter if it's the bar tender, tax collector, land scaper, taxi driver, etc. They're all tuning out their shitty lives at the expense of productivity and paying customers.

Winston Churchill's picture

That was exactly what I was going to post.

Smart phones are an addiction just as bad as meth or crack.I took one away from an

employee, and honst to dog, within minutes she was having physical withdrawl symptoms, along

with mental jonesing.

Now theres a thought, maybe they're emmitting something that stimulates the same pleasure centers of the

brain to make us want to carry around our govt. spying device.

centerline's picture

There are some serious correlations between smart phones and drugs.  Addiction, whether it starts as something psychological or chemical, ultimately winds up affecting both. 

dead hobo's picture

Partly right but in an odd way.

Here's one better.

Maslow was right only food is not the problem. Too many people chasing too few jobs while technology creates rising productivity and central banks create a liquidity trap. 

Sort that one out.

Anopheles's picture

The "productivity" of the entire service industry and public service sectors is ZERO. 

As for social spending, again, zero productivity and a drain on the real economy becasue of regressive taxation to support it.   A country can't tax it's way to prosperity. 

froze25's picture

Nor can it shuffle paper from one pile to another and call it creating wealth.

divingengineer's picture

Froze, they work hard for their money. 

Do you realize that the money changers have to trade 60,000 barrels of paper oil for every real barrel of oil to keep the price artificially high?

That's a hell of a lot of work. For a bunch of thankless fucks like us. 

Justin Case's picture

The corporate investment is focused on production in China. Corporate investment in productivity is moar expensive than cheap labor, no benefits, pension plans and lax regulations abroad. Besides the fact that China has the worlds largest population with #2 India with Asia and EU all in close proximity. The concequence is the exchange rate, when those profits come back to merica in USD. It took 20 yrs. to exit merica and will take another 20 yrs. for industry to return to merica. merican industry and high USD helped develope Eurasia.

Winston Churchill's picture

Minimum of 20 years, and then an eternal game of catchup because it will be decades behind the competition.

Anopheles's picture

You are mistaken about why companies left.  They didn't "leave", they were FORCED out by tens of thousands of government regulations.   Regulations for everything from environment, to worker safety and benefits (vacation, wages, training, workers rights, etc).  

Each regulation on it's own, is minor.  However the weight of tens of thousands of regulations is what has forced companies to look elsewhere. Companies can't  do any thing without dozens of governemnt inspectors sticking their noses up their asses. 

Unless those regulations are DRAMATICALLY scaled back, those jobs will NEVER return. 

Great example is about 5 years ago, the LAST primary lead smelter in the US shut down.   They couldn't meet EPA standards without a hundred million dollar "upgrade" and tremendously higher operating costs. 

So what happens to lead/tin/zinc ore that's mined in the US?  It's concentrated mechanically (cold) and then shipped to Canada or China for processing/smelting.   Of course, all those jobs were exported too.  And they will never come back, becasue of the same regulations that caused them to leave in the first place. 

Justin Case's picture

They didn't "leave"

No it was the magnet of moar profits and bonuses. If there is moar money to be made it attracts corporations like flies on steaming shit.

higher operating costs and high USD pushed them to countries with currency advantages. Automotive industry moved to Mexico to save on shipping costs and a lower peso.

Red tape is an issue today but I believe it was the lure of profits 30 years ago and the population on that side of the Spacific Ocean. Population of billions consumes alot moar than the Americas. 300 mil in US and 30 mil in Canada. Why not manufacture yoar product in the country that has the largest consumer base in the world and the next country is a stone throw from the plant. (India) Shipping costs to merica are less than shipping to China and India where consumption is far higher.

Anopheles's picture

You are wrong.  Moving offshore, especially 20 to 30 years ago was generally a disaster for companies.   A LOT moved production back or did joint ventures.  .  

What you find today is that companies are not offshoring their production, they are teaming up with offshore suppliers who are local to the countries.   

Look at Apple.  They don't have offshore factories, they subcontract all their work to dozens of offshore firms.  

Justin Case's picture

Here are companies gone out of the USA

3Com
3M

A
Accenture
Adaptec
ADC
Adobe Systems
Advanced Energy Industries
Aetna
Affiliated Computer Services
A.G. Edwards
Agere Systems
Agilent Tech.
AIG
Alamo Rent A Car
Albertson's
Allen Systems Group
Alliance Semiconductor
Allstate
Alpha Thought Global
Amazon.com
AMD
American Express
American Household
American Management Systems
American Standard
Amphenol Corp.
Analog Devices
Andrew Corp.
Anheuser-Busch
AOL
Apple
Applied Materials
A.T. Cross Company
AT&T
AT&T Wireless
A.T. Kearney
Automatic Data Processing
Avanade
Avery Dennison

B
Bank of America
Bank of New York
Bank One
BearingPoint
Bear Stearns
Bechtel
BellSouth
Best Buy
Black & Decker
BMC Software
Boeing
Brocade
Bumble Bee

C
Cadence Design Systems
Capital One
Carrier
Cendant
Cerner Corporation
Charles Schwab
ChevronTexaco
CIBER
Ciena
Cigna
Circuit City, Inc.
Cisco Systems
Citigroup
CNA
Coca-Cola
Cognizant Technology Solutions
Columbia House
Comcast Holdings
Computer Associates
Computer Sciences Corporation
CompuServe
Continental Airlines
Convergys
Cooper Tire & Rubber
Cooper Tools
Countrywide Financial
COVAD Comm.
CSX
Cummins
Cypress Semiconductor

D
Dana Corporation
Delco Remy
Dell Computer
Delphi
Delta Air Lines
Direct TV
Discover
Document Sciences Corp.
Dow Chemical
Dun & Bradstreet
DuPont

E
Earthlink
Eastman Kodak
Eaton Corporation
EDS
Electroglas
Electronics for Imaging
Eli Lilly
EMC
Emerson Electric
En Pointe Technologies
Equifax
Ernst & Young
Ethan Allen
Evolving Systems
Expedia
ExxonMobil

F
Fair Isaac
Fedders Corporation
Federated Dept. Stores
Fidelity Investments
Financial Techologies International
First American Title Ins.
First Data
Fluor
Ford Motor
Franklin Mint
Franklin Templeton
Freeborders
Fruit of the Loom

G
Gateway
GE Capital
General Electric
General Motors
GlobespanVirata
Goldman Sachs
Goodrich
Google
Greenpoint Mortgage
Guardian Life Insurance

H
The Hartford Financial Services Group
HealthAxis
Helen of Troy Corp.
Hewitt Associates
Hewlett-Packard
The Holmes Group
Honeywell
HSN
Humana

I
IBM
iGate Corporation
IndyMac Bancorp
Infogain
Innodata Isogen
Innova Solutions
Intel
Intl. Paper
Intuit
Invacare
ITT Educational Services

J
Jabil Circuit
Jacobs Engineering
Jacuzzi
JDS Uniphase
Johnson Controls
Johnson & Johnson
JPMorgan Chase
Juniper Networks

K
KANA Software
Kaiser Permanente
Keane
KeyCorp
KLA-Tencor
Kraft Foods
Kulicke and Soffa Industries
Kwikset

L
Lawson Software
Lehman Brothers
Levi Strauss
Lexmark International
Lifescan
Lillian Vernon
Linksys
Lionbridge Technologies
LiveBridge
Lockheed Martin
Lowe's
Lucent

M
Maritz
Marshall Fields
Mattel
Maytag
McDATA Corporation
McKinsey & CO
Medtronic
Mellon Bank
Merrill Corporation
Merrill Lynch
Metasolv
MetLife
Microsoft
Monsanto
Morgan Stanley
Motorola

N
Nabco
National City Corporation
National Life
National Semiconductor
NCR Corporation
neoIT
NETGEAR
Network Associates
Newell Rubbermaid
New York Life Insurance Co.
Northwest Airlines

O
Office Depot
Ohio Art
ON Semiconductor
Oracle
OshKosh B'Gosh
Otis Elevator Co.
Outsource Partners International
Owens Corning

P
palmOne
Parker-Hannifin
Parsons E&C
Pearson Digital Learning
Pericom Semiconductor
Perot Systems
Pfizer
Pitney Bowes
Planar Systems
Portal Software
Pratt & Whitney
Primus Telecom
Procter & Gamble
ProQuest
Providian Financial
Prudential Insurance

Q
Quark
Qwest Comm.

R
Rainbow Technologies
Radio Shack
Rawlings Sporting Goods
Raytheon Aircraft
RCG Information Technology
Regence Group
Rogers
Rohm & Haas
RR Donnelley & Sons
Russell Corporation

S
Sabre
SAIC
Sallie Mae
Sanmina-SCI
SBC Comm.
SEI Investments
Siebel Systems
Sikorsky
SMC Networks
Solectron
Sovereign Bancorp
Sprint
Sprint PCS
Stanley Furniture
Stanley Works
Starkist Seafood
State Farm Insurance
State Street
StorageTek
StrategicPoint Investment Advisors
Sun Microsystems
SunTrust Banks
Supra Telecom
SurePrep
The Sutherland Group
Sykes Enterprises
Symbol Technologies
Synygy

T
Target
Tecumseh
Telcordia
Teleflex
TeleTech
Tellabs
Teradyne
Texas Inst.
Textron
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
Time Warner
Tower Automotive
Toys "R" Us
Trans Union
Travelocity
Triquint Semiconductor
Tropical Sportswear
TRW Automotive
Tyco Electronics
Tyco Intl.

U
Union Pacific Railroad
Unisys
UnitedHealth Group Inc.
United Online
United Tech.
USAA

V
Valence Technology
VA Software
Veritas
Verizon
VF Corporation
Vishay

W
Wachovia Bank
Washington Group Intl.
Washington Mutual
WellChoice
Werner Co.
West Corporation
Weyerhaeuser
Whirlpool
Wolverine World Wide
WorldCom
Wyeth

X
Xpitax

Y
Yahoo!
www.cnn.com/lou

 

Ton Heijmen, senior advisor to The Conference Board. “One survey respondent noted it has taken his company several years to discover the impact of labor arbitrage disappears in fewer than three years. Companies are now shifting from cost-driven offshoring to a multidimensional value proposition in creating a global footprint.”

All iPhone components produced by various companies are shipped to Foxconn, a Taiwanese company located in China

Another perk, didn't work out,

The European Commission in Brussels is preparing to accuse the world’s biggest company of getting special treatment from the Irish government in exchange for creating jobs. It could result in a record fine of several billion euro.

wmbz's picture

 "Summers, DeLong, Bernanke, Krugman, and Yellen all fail to understand".

Oh I think they understand full well...The wealth transfer thing! Doing all they can to increase it.

Angry White Guy's picture

All these government asshats with PhDs can't see the fucking obvious.  Hardly any incentive to work any more, b/c the commpanies people work for shit on them constantly, treat them like mules and for the trouble the government steals 25 or 35 percent from said worker before he even sees it, to use for programs thats work against said individual.

 

I for one, used to work for a shitty mortgage company flying around setting up branches for them.  Shit on me at any chance, my contribution wasn't valued, management didn't work to make life easier, they actively made it harder and they had more money than GOD and refused to give a raise unless I threatened to quit - this happened TWICE in three years.  I finally had enough, took a job where I have no travel, they pay less but they expect almost nothing out of me.  I effectively have given the middle finger to the system.  

A Russian would say "We pretend to work they pretend to pay."  You know what's sick?  The job pays $10k/yr less and due to the shitty tax structure in this country my pay is almost the same...these fuckin idiot Jewish PhD will never get it, because they don't want to get it and they know what they are doing.

I should (in a normal economy and society LMAO) be wanting more responsibility and more pay and be furthering my career.  Fuck that.  Why?  So the jew.gov can steal more?  NO incentive to work more for the powers that be that I HATE WITH ALL MY BEING.

I can't be the only one.  /rant off

Angry White Guy's picture

Thanks.  Reading that drivel above from the Shyster money changers basically sent me off.

centerline's picture

Deserved.  Greenspan's words are pretty sick.  Truth and lies all tied together with intent to decieve.  And at the same time wash his hands.  Sorry there Greenspan... that shit doesn't work here.

Justin Case's picture

they had more money than GOD and refused to give a raise unless I threatened to quit

The effort to demonize unions started years back, b/c they make it difficult to hire and fire, skip pay raises, benefits, pension plans, abuse by management etc. I don't like that type of working environment personally, but the unions have brought in a lot of benefits, such as breaks, working conditions, safety, vacation pay, holiday pay, overtime pay, sick pay, 2 wks termination pay etc. Today we take all that for granted and most Gov'ts have set those as standards of employment. 

They are moving towards the disposable workers.

Angry White Guy's picture

The babyboomers who run these companies could give a shit about their employees and it wasn't always that way.  I harbor alot of generational hatred.  They ruined the country with their SJW horseshit and me me me mentality.  Now, no one has anything.  Dickheads the lot of em.

Bill of Rights's picture

Nope your not Sir, I too quit the system a long time ago...I trade full time, sure its a rigged market, and if you know this you use it to your full advantage.

 

Hard physical Work is a joke....as is the pay rate. Its a modern day version of slavery..

Angry White Guy's picture

I work for a sports team now doing low level IT.  Since it's so far beneath my skill level I've automated 90% (oops automation is increasing productivity) of my job responsibilites and I coast most of the time.  Get lots of paid time off (something becoming more and more scarce.

Sad, but I think we're one of the lucky ones.  Lots of enslaved that don't have those choices.  I pray for them and us both.

CJgipper's picture

My monthly mortgage, insurance, property tax, electric bill, gas bill, water bill, phone/internet bill, health insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, and long term disability insurance are all TOTAL less than my monthly tax bill.  Stew on that for just a bit.

I've done the same math.  I could make half what I do now and live the same life.  Translation:  I could work less than half what I do now and live the same life if I just made a couple of tweaks to my career and business structure.  Why haven't I, or why haven't I yet?  That's the question, isn't it? 

Angry White Guy's picture

Well, why not?  I actively on the daily seek ways to starve the beast.

Yukon Cornholius's picture

It starts by giving up your car. If you still lease/finance/own a car you ain't starving shit.

CJgipper's picture

Wrong.  That changes nothing.  As long as you're making a mid-large reported income, you're paying (or getting shot by the IRS agents when they come).

You starve the beast by having less reported income and greater deductible expenses.  You go to work for yourself, on paper anyway.  Your car becomes an expense.  Your boat is for client entertainment. Your trip to the beach?  it was to see a client.  EVERYTHING gets deducted.  on paper, you make nothing.  And that is the ONLY way to starve the beast. 

Justin Case's picture

A fella in Canada did what you are saying, The CRA told him that he hasn't made any profit from his business in 5 years, there for he must repay the $80k in tax deductions he claimed over that period.

LawsofPhysics's picture

All by design...

The same wealthy families have maintained power and control over REAL ASSETS and productive capacity for hundreds of years...

Angry White Guy's picture

French Revolutions...American revolutions....we need another one, a global revolution.  Some days I think I see the makings of it...maybe wishful thinking not sure.

divingengineer's picture

I think that's called "Going Galt".

Can't blame you, it is definately getting harder.

centerline's picture

I see this as similar to the concept of a group of people running from a bear.  You don't have to outrun it.  You just can't be the slowest.

What is coming is likely going to smash the current system.  In an ugly way.  But, it is not likely to happen as an event.  Rather a series of events over time.  Bad at first, then shittier, and shittier even.  Eventually enough people get eaten that the whole system goes into cardiac arrest. 

My take on it is to have enough resources, willpower, flexility, etc. to make it through until the point that the system rolls over.  After that... who knows.  But I'd rather take my chances on my own two feet if possible.

And... it's doesn't mean you can't "starve the beast" in the process.  In fact, it requires doing so.  But not in a "going Grizzly Adams" sort of way. Plus, the beast is already starving.

hongdo's picture

Well said.  It's the law of diminishing returns for most.  Senior management beats that law by leveraging all to hell and covering the bets by allocating resources to themselves from underlings. 

Silver Savior's picture

I don't like being productive at work. They need to hire more people. Where is the incentive for me? Making lazy shareholders rich?

wcvarones's picture

Reinhart & Rogoff showed that excessive debt depresses GDP growth.

Since GDP growth is productivity growth plus labor force growth, it follows that excessive debt depresses either productivity or labor force, or both.

My guess is most of that is on productivity, as debt prevents productivity-enhancing investment.

LawsofPhysics's picture

Moreover, eCONomists still believe in infinite growth in this biosphere with finite resources...

Good luck with that.

Justin Case's picture

Prostitution and drug dealers sales were guestimatated for their contribution to GDP in merica.

Silver Savior's picture

I still have no clue what the good ol days were like. I was born at a time everything started shutting down. I heard 1977 was a good year.

divingengineer's picture

When I hit the job market (real job, not delivering pizzas) in 93, it was on fire. You couldn't keep a construction crew, everyone was stealing tradesmen and working OT. 

Even the derelicts were working back then. Job market awash with money, all you had to do was reach out and grab a big handfull. 

Those were the good ol days.

Delivering pizzas circa 20 yrs old was pretty lucrative too though, I had more money in my pocket then than I do now with a "real job". 

Seasmoke's picture

Public parasites produce nothing. Yet they have salary. Benefits. Pensions better than most taxpayers.

divingengineer's picture

War, regulations and propaganda are nothing?

Those are the most valuable commodities in the world, my good fellow.

They dwarf the actual durable goods market.

Maybe you are approaching this "production" concept from the wrong angle if it is not paying off for you.

Not much money in "resistance", just ask the average Paleostain. 

BigFatUglyBubble's picture

In america there are dupers and dupees.  Sometimes some of us switch roles.  We don't make stuff.  We import chinese computers and type credits into it, that have an artificially high value because usa.gov forces the world to use them for transactions.  #winning

LawsofPhysics's picture

LMFAO!!!  When over 40% of your GDP is nothing but useless fucking paper/digit-pushing, things like "productivity" are fucking irrelevant. Want to be more productive using "mark to fantasy" acconting?  simply add another "zero".

We are so fucked.

moonmac's picture

In a Low Wage McJob Economy workers only produce just enough not to get terminated. If the unproductive worker does get fired they can walk 5 minutes down the road and get another McJob knowing full well their replacement will work even slower than them. We’re now trapped in a terrible cycle of Un-Productivity for those workers who perform most of the real work.