In one month, the average 30 year fixed rate mortgage has jumped by over 60 basis points. What does this mean for net purchasing power? Well, as the chart below shows, assuming a $2000/month budget to be spent on amortizing a mortgage (or otherwise spent for rent), it means that suddenly instead of being able to afford a $425K house, the average consumer can buy a $395K house . This means that, all else equal, housing just sustained a 7% drop in the average equlibrium price based on what buyers can afford. But assuming the current selloff in rates continues, things are going to get much worse: we may be seeing 5%, 5.5% even 6% and higher mortgages in the immediate future. It also means that a buyer who could previously afford a $506K house with a $2,000 monthly budget at an interest rate of 2.5% will be able to afford only $316K if and when the average 30 Year fixed hits 6.5%: a 40% drop in affordability based on just a 4% increase in interest rates!
A suddenly seemingly hawkish Ben Bernanke may be giving the impression he is preparing to taper because he feels confident enough about the recovery (just don't ask him about sudden dramatic rises in yields: that "puzzles" him). Yet as those who have been reading Zero Hedge for the past three years know, this jobs "recovery" is purely quantitative (not to mention seasonally adjusted): the quality of jobs regained is, in a word, abysmal, with the bulk of new job creation benefiting part-time and minimum-wage jobs. If anything, this loss of saving power, is the backdrop not for a recovery, but for a depression far more acute than the current "sugar-high" one when the Fed finally pulls the training wheels off, and when the US consumer realizes that all purchasing power is gone, all gone, and in exchange the only valuable and competitive job skills gained have been, well, absolutely none.
The following three minutes of absolute perfection uttered by CNBC's Rick Santelli is dangerous for anyone living in Kyle Bass' "intellectually dishonest" alter-world of denial and "unicorns and rainbows" as the Chicagoan goes off on the ignorance of everyone in these so-called markets. When every talking head is bullish and the world is going so great that we should all "buy stocks," Santelli demands we ask Bernanke - "what are you scared of," that keeps you pumping this much money into the system for this long? Simply put, Santelli's epic rant is the filter that every investor (or member of the public) should be viewing financial media and the Fed today (or in fact every day).
There's no way to sugarcoat the dismal performance of the precious metals in recent months. But a revisitation of the reasons for owning them reveals no cracks in the underlying thesis for doing so. In fact, there are a number of new compelling developments arguing that the long heartbreak for gold and silver holders will soon be over.
Those who believe the economy is recovering are ignorant of the facts. Other than the Great Depression no US recovery (and I don’t believe we are in a recovery) taken longer. Eventually it may take more than a decade like the 1930s. Or perhaps it will be like Japan which is in its third decade of “recovery.” The truth is that our economy is spent, exhausted and filled with misallocations and distortions made much worse by government interventions. There is no recovery, nor will there be one until a massive purge (usually referred to as a depression) occurs. This event will result in bankruptcies that release scarce, misallocated physical capital from unproductive and unwanted areas to places where it is needed and can be utilized efficiently. Rather than allow this pre-condition to an economic recovery and a growing, efficient economy, politicians want to prevent it. They use smoke, mirrors and propaganda (lies) to hide the reality of our sick economy. Their obfuscations continue, but the effective life is limited.
In the latest month of data, April, the Fed just disclosed that of the $11.1 billion in crease in total consumer credit, only 6% was in revolving credit. The balance, or $10.4 billion, was non-revolving, and thus was used to pay for that new Chevy Impala and/or "Keynesian Shamanomics 101 for Dummies." And of course, all was funded by the US government.
While Wall Street is implicitly conflicted in its actions, there is also another group of individuals who are also just as conflicted - corporate executives. Today, more than ever, corporate executives are compensated by stock options, and other stock based compensation, which are tied to rising stock prices. There are billions at stake in many cases and the game of "beat the Wall Street estimate" is critical in keeping corporate stock prices elevated. Unfortunately, this leads to a wide variety of gimmicks to boost bottom line profitability which is not necessarily in the best interest of long term profitability or shareholders. Today we will discuss four tools that have been at the heart of the surge in profitability since 2009 and why such profitability has failed to boost the economy. While the Fed's ongoing interventions since 2009 have provided the necessary support to the current economic cycle it will not "repeal" the business cycle completely. The Fed's actions work to pull forward future consumption to support the current economy. This is turn has boosted corporate profitability as the effectiveness of corporate profitability tools were most effective. However, such actions leave a void in the future that must be filled by organic economic growth. The problem comes when such growth doesn't appear.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement of his hodgepodge of old ideas and new contradictions.
The problem is central banks have created a vast pool of credit-money that is far larger than the pool of sound investment opportunities. Why are asset bubbles constantly popping up around the globe? The answer is actually quite simple. Asset bubbles are now so ubiquitous that we've habituated to extraordinary excesses as the New Normal; the stock market of the world's third largest economy (Japan) can rise by 60% in a matter of months and this is met with enthusiasm rather than horror: oh goody, another bubblicious rise to catch on the way up and then dump before it pops. Have you seen the futures for 'roo bellies and bat guano? To the moon, Baby! The key feature of the New Normal bubbles is that they are finance-driven: the secular market demand for housing (new homes and rental housing) in post-bubble markets such as Phoenix has not skyrocketed; the huge leaps in housing valuations are driven by finance, i.e. huge pools of cheap credit seeking a yield somewhere, anywhere:
If you look at the history of financial crises in Argentina, you will see there is almost no 10-year period when there isn't a financial crisis. Argentines have become masters at dealing with things like inflation and ridiculous government policies. How can the actions of the Argentine government give us insight into what a desperate government is capable of and what might be in store for the United States? The current Argentine government is dominated by true believers – young people who have that idealistic notion of equality for all, and who believe that government mandates can fix anything that ails. They are hardcore socialists, leaning towards communism. But, as is the case in the United States, they really don't know what they are doing and so pursue policies that are incredibly shortsighted. They are uninformed as far as history and economics are concerned and blunder from one harebrained policy to another. There is literally nothing that they will not try. It is like a textbook case in government gone mad. There is a lesson to be learned from all of this, and I think it is a very important one. When it comes right down to it, any government – not just the Argentine government, but the US government as well – will simply do whatever it thinks it needs to do to keep the status quo intact, with no moral or ethical considerations.
And the beat goes on! More studies, more surveys, more statistics, more data to feed the ongoing fires in present day American cultural wars. Last week, the Pew Research Center released a study stating that women are now the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of households with children in the US. A figure which more than doubled that of a generation ago. Economic circumstances usually determine the need for multiple breadwinners in a household, and the household today in no way resembles the nuclear family of yesteryear. Perhaps we would not be in these dire economic straits if instead of Erickson’s dominant males governing the US during the past 32 years… we had been ruled by brainy dominant females - not the Amazon-cliché type. They couldn’t have fared any worse - as simply put: Americans - well, the bottom 80 percent - have lost control of their economic destiny…
Today, there is almost zero truth in mainstream media. The fascist corporate-banking-government machine has ensured that mainstream media has now become the official department of propaganda, not only in political news, but also regarding nearly all financial news as well.
It may come as a surprise to some that the total level of commercial bank loans outstanding as of the most recent week, May 22, was "only" $7.303 trillion. We say only because this number is $20 billion less than the total commercial loans outstanding as of the weeks following the Lehman failure, just before the most epic deleveraging episode in recent US history began. It is also just $600 billion higher than the cyclical lows of $6.7 trillion (net of the February 2010 readjustment of the commercial loan terminology). So does this mean that deposits in the US financial system have been unchanged in the past nearly 5 years? Not at all. As the chart below shows, while commercial loans have flatlined, deposits, which previously used to track loans on a dollar for dollar basis, took off, and are now at $9.4 trillion (as per the latest H.8), or $2.2 trillion more than the $7.2 trillion when commercial banks loan hits a record in October 2008, just after Lehman filed. What's more notable, is that as of the latest week, the excess of deposits over loans just hit an all time record of $2.079 trillion
Neil Macdonald of the CBC recently did an investigative piece on central bankers and what they’re doing to the world’s economies. Mark Carney was featured heavily. He told Macdonald, “there is no secret cabal orchestrating things,” despite CBC’s own findings earlier in the program. Central bankers around the world meet in Basel, Switzerland for secretive meetings. Of course, central banks have – and have always had – enormous power that remained more-or-less hidden until 2008. A paradigm shift is occurring where a large number of people (particularly young people) are questioning their assumptions. Some of them are even beginning to read economists like Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard. The “economics” of central bankers can now be revealed for what it truly is: statistical propaganda. Not only is the “Keynesian school” of economics unsound – the entire social science is bunk. Only the Austrian tradition can explain economic phenomena in such a way that makes common sense, scientific. Carney is asking us to trust him. This cannot be done. He is not speaking truth; he is speaking nonsense.
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'?