The global economy is facing a structural surplus of labor and a scarcity of paid work. Here is the critical backdrop for the global recession that is unfolding and the stated desire of central banks and states everywhere for "economic growth": most of the so-called "growth" since the 2008 global financial meltdown was funded by sovereign debt and "free money" spun by central banks, not organic growth based on rising earned incomes. Take away the speculation dependent on "free money" and the global stimulus dependent on massive quantities of fresh debt, and how much "growth" would be left? The Internet has enabled enormous reductions of labor input. A mere 15 years ago when I first learned HTML (1997), you had to code your own site or learn some fairly sophisticated website creation/management software packages, and you needed to set up a server or pay a host. Now anyone can set up a Blogspot or equivalent blog for free in a few minutes with few (if any) technical skills, and the site is free. The other trend is the cost of labor in the developed West is rising as systemic friction adds cost without adding productivity. Workers in the U.S. only see their wages stagnate, but their employers see total labor costs rising as healthcare costs rise year after year. In effect, the U.S. pays an 8% VAT tax to support a bloated, paperwork-pushing, inefficient and fraud-laced healthcare system that costs twice as much as a percentage of GDP as other advanced democracies. No wonder many entrepreneurs are selling their high-overhead businesses and becoming flexible, low-cost one-person enterprises.
What are the classic signs of an asset bubble? People piling into an asset class to such an extent that it becomes unprofitable to do so. Treasury bonds are so overbought that they are now producing negative real yields (yield minus inflation). And so America’s creditors are now getting slapped quite heavily in the mouth by the Fed’s easy money inflationist policies. John Aziz proposes (much to the consternation of the monetarist-Keynesian “print money and watch your problems evaporate” establishment) that this is a very, very, very dangerous position. And that those economists who are calling for even greater inflation are playing with dynamite. See, while the establishment seems to largely believe that the negative return on treasuries will juice up the American economy — in other words that “hoarders” will stop hoarding and start spending — we believe that negative side-effects from these policies may cause severe harm. Do we really want to risk the inflationary impact of continuing to print money to monetise debt (and hiding the money in excess reserves, thereby temporarily hiding the inflation). As John wrote recently - "So, does the accumulation of excess reserves lead to inflation? Only so much as the frequentation of brothels leads to chlamydia and syphilis." We’d call that playing dice with the devil.
Stocks are currently priced for a 10% growth rate which makes bonds a safer investment in the current environment which cannot deliver 10% rates of returns. We are no longer in the era of capital appreciation and growth. The “baby boomers” are driving the demand for income which will keep pressure on finding yield which in turn reduces buying pressure on stocks. This is why even with the current stock market rally since the 2009 lows - equity funds have seen continual outflows. The “Capital Preservation” crowd will continue to grow relative to the “Capital Appreciation” crowd.... According to the recent McKinsey study the debt deleveraging cycles, in normal historical recessionary cycles, lasted on average six to seven years, with total debt as a percentage of GDP declining by roughly 25 percent. More importantly, while GDP contracted in the initial years of the deleveraging cycle it rebounded in the later years.
The trouble is that war is a great excuse for weapons contractors to make lots of money, and weapons contractors happily fund war-mongering politicians into power. That’s the self-perpetuating military industrial complex. So the problem then lies in differentiating the necessary actions from the unnecessary. I propose a simple heuristic for this purpose, one that if introduced would also render the war-mongering politician — the Congressman who votes to authorise, or the President who signs the authorisation into law — personally responsible:
If you start a war, you have to fight. If you cannot fight, then your nearest fit relative has to fight.
If history has taught one certain lesson, it is that the less fettered an economy, the better humankind is able to do what it does best: run from trouble and run toward opportunity. In this way mistakes are quickly resolved and progress assured. Conversely, the deeper the muck of regulation, mandates, taxes, subsidies and other bureaucratic meddling, the slower we humans are in following our natural instincts until the point that progress is slowed or even stopped. It is said that history doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes. In the current circumstances, it appears that enough time has passed that current generations have completely forgotten the critical connection between the ability of humans to freely pursue their aspirations and economic progress. You can see this ignorance in the popular demand for even more, not less, meddling in the affairs of humankind. Should this trend continue – and for reasons I will touch on momentarily, I firmly believe it will – then the aspirations of the productive minority will soon be dampened by ever higher taxes and other attempts to "level the playing field" and the global economy, already in tatters, will fall off the edge. There is no more timely nor acute example of this growing trend than what is currently going on in France. I refer, of course, to the first round of the presidential election process, scheduled for this weekend.
If you want to know how weak the economy really is all you need to do is look at the 30-year bond. It is one of the best economic indicators available today. If economic conditions are robust then the yield will be rising and vice versa. What the current low levels of yield on 30 year bonds is telling you is that the underlying economy is weak. "The 30-year yield is not at these low levels DUE to the Federal Reserve; but in SPITE OF the Fed," Hunt said. The actions of the Federal Reserve have continued to undermine the economy which is reflected by the low yield of the 30 year bond. The "cancerous" side effects of nonproductive debt are being reflected in real disposable incomes. Just over the last two years real disposable incomes slid from 5% in 2010 and -0.5% in 2012 on a 3-month percentage change at an annual rate basis. This is critically important to understand. While the media remains focused on GDP it is the wrong measure by which to measure the economy. A truly growing economy leads to rises in prosperity. GDP does NOT measure prosperity — it measures spending. It is the measure of real personal incomes that measures prosperity. Prosperity MUST come from rising incomes.
Bottom line: financialization and substituting debt for income have run their course. They're not coming back, no matter how hard the Federal Reserve pushes on the string. Both of these interwined trends have traced S-curves and are now in terminal decline: Those hoping the economy is "recovering" on the backs of financial speculation/ legerdemain and ramped up borrowing by the lower 95% will be profoundly disappointed when reality trumps fantasy.
As Oilprice.com embarks on its Top 5 series, we thought it expedient to begin with our take on the key figures shaping and influencing U.S. renewable energy efforts, not least because the issue of energy security is being prioritized in campaigning ahead of U.S. presidential elections. In considering from the numerous choices for these top five slots, we take into account a number of variables, including investment in renewable energy, the ability to influence policy and shape public opinion, and advocacy efforts. This goes well beyond simply counting coin – it is about innovation, imagination, vision, risk and patience. Arguably, these people will play an important role in your life and leisure, for better or worse.
Nut cases. That’s what they are. And if you take an interest in them, you are a nut case, too. That’s the consensus among credentialed economists who describe advocates of a return to the monetary regime known as the gold standard. In fact, the economic pack will marginalize you as a weirdo faster than you can say "Jacques Rueff," if you even raise the topic of monetary policy in relation to gold. If we are going to speak of consensus, let’s not forget one that is truly universal: Our economic system stands a good chance of breakdown in coming years. The only way to limit damage from such a breakdown is to ready ourselves to choose other models by learning about them now. Not to do so would be nuts.
"I would very much like to learn your thoughts on what careers may be viable for our children. With the future likely to change our lives so dramatically, where do you see opportunities for some form of career growth and some form of stability?"
- Let go of old models of financial security. Do not assume a government job means 30 years of security and a fat pension thereafter. That's the past, not the future.
- Assume monopolies and cartels imposed by the State will be disrupted and implode. The key example here is the sickcare system imposed by the State. For decades people have seen sickcare expand year after year, and so it seems sensible to assume that joining healthcare a.k.a. sickcare was a path to security.
- The best career strategy going forward is to assemble multiple skillsets. What we know is that current models will be disrupted, but we cannot know the future. Thus we cannot know which skillsets will be demand. That may change constantly; "security" will flow not from clinging to failing institutions for 30 years but by being flexible and adaptive.
Those calling for taxing the richest more are not doing the same cost-benefit analysis I am doing that suggests that raising taxes won’t raise more revenue. But they’re not unfairly looking for a scapegoat, either. While probably the greatest culprits for the problems of recent are in government (Bush, Greenspan, Obama, Bernanke) Americans are right to be mad at the rich.
This isn’t about tax. This is about jobs, and growth. The rich, above and beyond any other group have the ability to ameliorate the economic malaise by spending and creating jobs, creating new products and new wealth. The top 1% control 42% of all financial wealth. But that money isn’t moving very much at all— the velocity of money is at historic lows. It should not be surprising that growth remains depressed and unemployment remains stubbornly high.
Anybody watching the EUR/CHF exchange rate this year was wondering why the volatility the pair saw last year had completely left. The pair slowly fell from 1.2156 over 1.2040 at the end of Q1 to 1.2014 today. FX traders hoped on a hike of the floor from 1.20 to 1.25, as many Swiss politicians and companies requested. Banks sold masses of Long EUR/CHF certificates and options. The retail market measured in SSI (Speculative Sentiment Index) was 96% long EUR/CHF. We saw the typical Forex web sites telling regularly their masses of followers that the protagonists of these web sites were going long EUR/CHF in the hope that the SNB is going to act. This happened at multiple critical levels, at 1.2070, 1.2050, at 1.2030 and finally at 1.2010. The small FX trader was begging for months that the SNB would finally intervene. When all these people were long EUR/CHF, who was actually short, when the exchange rate continued to fall ? We speculated that some big accounts wanted their clients to be knocked out with their EUR/CHF longs, we thought that Swiss pension funds and big investors continued to repatriate their foreign funds. What did the SNB ? Did they support the hopes of the masses, of all these SNB rooters ? But on the back-door of all this rhetoric they did the complete opposite: The central bank was happy to get rid of their Euros at a higher price than the floor they had set in September 2011 !
There is really no argument whether there will be a recession in our future — the only question is the timing and cause of it. The latter point is the most important. Recessions do not just happen — they need a push. In 2011 the economy was just a breath away from a recession due to the dual impact of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami and the European debt crisis. Had it not been for the combined efforts of the Fed through "Operation Twist" and the Long Term Refinancing Operations via the ECB, a drop in oil prices and a plunge in utility costs due to the warmest winter in 65 years, it is entirely likely that that we may have already been discussing a "recession." The ECRI launched a debate that was literally heard around the world with their recessionary call in 2011. The weight of evidence as shown by our composite economic output indicator index shows that the ECRI call was most likely correct. However, the restart of manufacturing, primarily automotive, after the crisis in Japan combined with an effective $90 billion tax credit due to lower oil and utility costs, turned the previously slowing growth rate of the economy around over the last couple of quarters. Sustainability is becoming the question now as weather patterns return to a more normal cycle and the effects of the lower energy costs began to dissipate. In a more normal post recessionary recovery the third year should be closer to a 6-8% economic growth rate versus 2%. While 2% growth is much better than zero — the current sub-par pace of growth leaves the economy standing on the edge of the pool with very little stability to offset any unexpected "push" into the cold waters of recession. The problem is identifying what that "push" could likely be.
Modern economics is obsessed with modelling. An overwhelming majority of academic papers on the subject work like so: they take data, and use data to construct formal mathematical models of economic processes. Models mostly describe a situation, and describe how that situation would be changed by a given set of events; a very simple example is that as the supply of a good diminishes, its price will increase. Another is that deficit spending increases the national income. A mathematical model is a predictive tool created to demonstrate the outcome of events in a massively simplified alternate universe. As someone who rather enjoys voyages of the imagination, the use of mathematical models in economics is intriguing. The pretension that through using formal mathematical techniques and process we can not only accurately understand, but accurately predict the result of changes in the economy is highly seductive. After all, we can accurately predict the future, right?
The phrase “New World Order” is so loaded with explosive assumptions and perceptions that its very usage has become a kind of journalistic landmine. Many analysts (some in the mainstream) have attempted to write about and discuss this very real sociopolitical ideology in a plain and exploratory manner, using a fair hand and supporting data, only to be attacked, ridiculed, or completely ignored before they get a chance to put forward their work. The reason is quite simple; much of the general public has been mentally inoculated against the very whisper of the terminology. That is to say, they have been conditioned to exhibit a negative reaction to such discussion instinctively without even knowing why.... The Liberty Movement has always defined the NWO as a concerted effort by elitist organizations using political manipulation, economic subversion, and even war, to centralize global power into the hands of an unelected and unaccountable governing body. The goal; to one day completely dismantle individual, state, and national sovereignty. However, what I and many others hold as fact on the New World Order is not enough. We must examine the original source and how we came to our mutual conclusions.