Initial Claims Slide Again; Trade Deficit Lowest Since 2009 Despite Soaring Dollar On Imports PlungeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/02/2015 08:52 -0400
The volatility in initial claims continues: after last week's drop to 282K pulled the heavily-watched number back under 300K, this week we have seen even less layoffs, with the DOL reporting that only 268K claims for unemployment benefits were filed in the past week, well below the 286K expected. The 4-week moving average was 285,500, a decrease of 14,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 3,250 from 297,000 to 300,250. And while it is no secret that US labor data leave much to be desired it was today's trade data that will shock many, after the BEA reported that in February, the US trade deficit collapsed to just $35.4 billion, a 17% plunge compared to the $42.7 billion January revision, and far below the $41.2 billion expected. The $7.3 billion drop in the deficit was the largest since the $8.3 billion drop posted in June of 2013. And even more notable: the total February deficit was the lowest since October 2009!
In the first part of this article series, we discussed the true state of global demand, along with the unstable situation within numerous indicators from exports to retail. Swiftly falling global demand for raw materials as well as consumer goods is an undeniable reality. This is a distinct problem in terms of the U.S., which has been, up until recently, the primary consumption driver for much of the world. As we will show, U.S. demand is about to fall even further into the abyss as real unemployment and personal debt take their toll.
If you want to know where the next bear market is, look around at the people who are enjoying unimaginable wealth. Mr. Market has a habit of correcting things over time. My guess is that you won’t be paid $200K/year to drive trucks in North Dakota for much longer. The best thing about capitalism is that everything is temporary. The last time around, people had the stock, could have sold it, and didn’t. Nothing lasts forever.
Many people ask why we can’t just cancel all debt, and start over again. To do so would probably mean canceling all bank accounts as well. Most of our current jobs would probably disappear. We would probably be without grid electricity and without oil for cars. It would be very difficult to start over from such a situation. We would truly have to start over from scratch. Those holding paper wealth can’t count on getting very much.
Despite tactical, rhetorical opposition to further expansion of the entitlement state by many voices in Washington, and firm resistance by an honorable and principled few, collusive bipartisan support for an ever-larger welfare state is the central fact of politics in our nation’s capital today, as it has been for decades. Until and unless America undergoes some sort of awakening that turns the public against its blandishments, or some sort of forcing financial crisis that suddenly restricts the resources available to it, continued growth of the entitlement state looks very likely in the years immediately ahead. And in at least that respect, America today does not look exceptional at all.
Wealth inequality isn't just a political issue - it's a survival issue. When a society hits a certain level of economic disparity, it is set on a path towards destruction. It happened to the Roman Empire, and it will happen to the United States.
Say what you want about the gold price languishing below $1200 (or not, as the case may be, after this week), and say what you want about the technical picture or the “6,000-year bubble,” as Citi’s Willem Buiter recently termed it; but know this: gold is an insurance policy — not a trading vehicle — and the time to assess gold is when people have a sudden need for insurance. When that day comes - and believe me, it’s coming - the price will be the very last thing that matters. It will be purely and simply a matter of securing possession - bubble or not - and at any price. That price will NOT be $1200. A “run” on the gold “bank” would undoubtedly lead to one of those Warren Buffett moments when a bunch of people are left standing naked on the shore. It is also a phenomenon which will begin quietly before suddenly exploding into life. If you listen very carefully, you can hear something happening...
- JP Morgan 200K
- Goldman Sachs 220K
- Citigroup 225K
- HSBC 230K
- UBS 230K
- Credit Suisse 235K
- Morgan Stanley 235K
- Deutsche Bank 250K
It appears the concept of no consequences is now deeply embedded in the American society. As Student loan debtloads surge ever higher - and opportunities grow ever lower - NBC News reports a rather stunning 24% of Millennials said they expect their loans will ultimately be forgiven, according to study released Wednesday by Junior Achievement and PwC US. That helps to explain why delinquency rates are at record highs - aside from the massive debtloads and no high-paying jobs - as students see bankers rigging every market in the world with little to no consequence, one can only imagine the lessons being learned.
Most defenders of the state assume that government services help the poor. And, sometimes, some poor people do benefit financially from government programs. But there’s a hidden cost: taxation and mandatory programs (Social Security, for instance) that hurt the needy by restricting their choices. Government taxes away income that low-income households could invest in improving their lives. At the same time, state-sponsored benefits create incentives that keep the poor trapped in poverty.
Facing up to the pressures of responsibility as a member of the European Union - having been told their treaty-busting budget plan was unacceptable - it seems France is resorting to the worst case scenario - cut spending! As Bloomberg reports, the glory days of France’s welfare model may be behind it, as France, which hasn't had a balanced budget since 1974, admits "for 40 years we have lived beyond our means," but French PM Valls is "convinced [France] can make up for lost time." His plan - streamlining unemployment benefits, cutting bonuses for newborns, and pegging family allowances to household income (all of which amount to a de facto re-writing of France’s welfare rules), are being spun positively: "It's not the end of a generous system,” government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said yesterday. "It's the end of spending that wasn't useful - and that's in order to preserve a system that is a costly one." We wonder how much those 'slightly used' guillotines are going for on eBay now?
The student loan debt bubble in America is spiraling out of control, and it is financially crippling an entire generation of young Americans. At this point, the grand total of student loan debt in the United States has reached a staggering 1.2 trillion dollars, and an all-time record high 40 million Americans are currently paying off student loan debts. Just when our young people should be planning on buying homes and starting families, they find themselves financially paralyzed by oppressive levels of debt. What makes all of this even worse is that only some of our college graduates are able to get the “good jobs” that we promised them.
With all eyes and ears firmly focused Janet Yellen's opening oratory this morning (due at 10ET), the contents of the rest of the conference appear to have been forgotten (and yet in the past have been among the most crucial to comprehend central banks' actions after the fact - forward guidance and QE for 2). As Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports, robots don’t steal jobs, the U.S. labor market is less flexible than it was, and workers haven’t suffered unprecedented periods out of work (and rehiring odds are the same as always), are among the conclusions of key papers being presented at the symposium, along with (unsurprisingly) findings that policymakers would benefit from a better understanding of labor market dynamics. The following is a brief review of their contents...
Many seem to believe that if we worked our way out of debt problems in the past, we can do the same thing again. The same assets may have new owners, but everything will work together in the long run. Businesses will continue operating, and people will continue to have jobs. We may have to adjust monetary policy, or perhaps regulation of financial institutions, but that is about all. I think this is where the story goes wrong. The situation we have now is very different, and far worse, than what happened in the past. We live in a much more tightly networked economy. This time, our problems are tied to the need for cheap, high quality energy products. The comfort we get from everything eventually working out in the past is false comfort.
With a 9 standard deviation range between the highest and lowest excuse for a forecast from the 81 "qualified" economists on Bloomberg's survey, there is plenty of room for noise to dominate signal with tomorrow's payrolls data. Goldman forecasts a softer-than-consensus 210k increase in non-farm-payrolls as May employment data flow looks more mixed, and they expect that the unemployment rate rose two-tenths to 6.5% in May (vs. consensus 6.4%). Average hourly earnings (AHE) are likely to be in focus again following several months of heightened attention to wage growth and labor market slack; Goldman expects an increase of 0.2% in May (vs. consensus 0.2%).