The Great Economic Transformation! The Chinese are suckers for adjectives to describe and give power and eminence to their attributes, actions or constructions. The Long March. The Cultural Revolution. The Great Wall, the Yellow River. A good adjective always makes it sound as if it’s true. The Chinese have taken over as the superlative attributor to everything. The tallest (soon-to-be) building in China, the Shanghai Tower, is the living proof that China plans on making itself into a byword for superlatives it’s ‘–est’ everything these days.
For all the talk China's economic problems are getting (and yes, its official PMI came just slightly ahead of expectations on Saturday printing at 50.8 with consensus looking for 50.0: after all the Politburo can't give the impression of an out of control stall), the real action continues to unfold in its primary derivative economy, that of Australia, and particularly its "China-feeder" resource space, which is a far more accurate indicator of the true demand picture in China than manipulated data out of Beijing. What is going on there, for those who have not been paying attention, is in one word, a disaster.
Don't believe those Press headlines that paint a rosy picture for SS. There's no good news in this report card.
Liberty knows what to do...
While the world is awash in central banker created Potemkin village analogies, Ireland has gone one step further. In a little over two weeks, the self-important leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) will be meeting at the Lough Erne Golf Resort in Northern Ireland. There’s a slight problem, however. Ireland’s economy is in shambles and many of the neighboring towns are in horrible shape. So what’s the solution? Simple, just pretend nothing’s wrong by remodeling storefronts long since abandoned just as you would in a Hollywood set. What about those pesky abandoned buildings and other eyesores of blight and destitution? No problem, just place colorful murals in front of them. It makes sense. After all, the response by the G8 to the financial collapse since the beginning has been to cover it up and pretend nothing happened.
We are rapidly approaching the end of cheap resources. The wealth of most Americans could get wiped out during the next decade due to commodity inflation. Focusing on your real purchasing power is critical. As this brief documentary discusses, what is it that makes gold so special? Merely a "tradition" as Bernanke would have us believe, or sound 'money'?
In the wake of the financial collapse of 2007, central banks around the world run by Keynesian zealots religiously applied the formulas they had been taught would boost aggregate demand and rescue the economy from the brink of total catastrophe. Easy money, going under the euphemistic moniker of “quantitative easing” was supposed to stimulate borrowing, spending and growth through the mechanism of historically low interest rates. Predictably, this approach failed miserably, as these kind of policy decisions largely miss the point of how the economy really works. As long as central banks continue to meddle with the money supply, investments will not be made efficiently and the economy as a whole will suffer.
As Barron's notes in this recent interview, Marc Faber view the world with a skeptical eye, and never hesitates to speak his mind when things don't look quite right. In other words, he would be the first in a crowd to tell you the emperor has no clothes, and has done so early, often, and aptly in the case of numerous investment bubbles. With even the world's bankers now concerned at 'unsustainable bubbles', it is therefore unsurprising that in the discussion below, Faber explains, among other things, the fallacy of the Fed's help "the problem is the money doesn't flow into the system evenly, how with money-printing "the majority loses, and the minority wins," and how, thanks to the further misallocation of capital, "people with assets are all doomed, because prices are grossly inflated globally for stocks and bonds." Faber says he buys gold every month, adding that "I want to have some assets that aren't in the banking system. When the asset bubble bursts, financial assets will be particularly vulnerable."
There is something very wrong with this Bloomberg article screengrab.
“It’s counterproductive to fight against windmills,” it explained
We discussed the new skirmishes this weekend in the very public debate about Carmen Reinhart’s and Kenneth Rogoff’s (RR) government debt research as they fought back against Paul Krugman's smear campaign. Krugman, of course, is one of the pundits who last month published “incomplete, exaggerated, erroneous and misleading” reports about RR’s research, as we explained at the time. We still haven’t found an RR critic who’s made a genuine effort to estimate how much debt is too much and in an effort to, we read Krugman's book (cover-to-cover) to see if there was anything more to Krugman’s positions than über-Keynesianism and boasts that his adversaries were proven wrong. Krugman's logic is full of holes. Near-term inflation and interest rate predictions have little to do with one’s beliefs about the mostly long-term risks of excessive debt. Krugman’s use of decidedly non-Keynesian episodes of debt reduction to justify his Keynesian beliefs reminds me of the many times (too many) that I’ve encountered 'circular reference' errors in Excel. His logic is no less flawed or 'circular.' But since there’s no spreadsheet involved, we’ll call it an error of induction. We think it’s time to change focus and consider the questionable thresholds, selective data use and induction error in Krugman’s work.
By now it is conventional wisdom that the Italian economy is foundering alongside all other peripheral European nations as a result of a failed artificial currency leading to an inability for external rebalancing, a flawed monetary system leading to a collapse in credit demand, and the lack of any structural reform (and sorry, but when your budget deficit is soaring alongside your debt it's anything but "austerity's fault"). However, there is hope. According to Italy's trade union CGIL, good news may be just around the corner as Italy looks set to recover its pre-crisis unemployment level... In 2076, or a brief 63 years from now. "So, you're telling me there's a chance."
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going” is a wonderful piece of linguistic wizardry. It can be read in two different ways. Either the 'tough' become fully engaged in combat and fight it out till the bitter end or the ‘tough’ up sticks and move out. It was supposedly Joseph P. Kennedy (father of US President John F. Kennedy) that gets the praise for having said it first.
As violent protests persist across Turkey, and spread from Istanbul to the capital Ankara, and Izmir, here is a visual summary of what is going on courtesy of Reuters.
This confluence of indicators tells us point blank that stocks are in a bubble. If I know this, I can assure you that Ben Bernanke and the Fed know it. And this is why the Fed is in deep trouble. I guarantee you Bernanke is hoping he can get to the exit as Fed Chairman before the stuff hits the fan.