Most of our readers probably know what we think of minimum wages, but let us briefly recapitulate: there is neither a sensible economic, nor a sensible ethical argument supporting the idea. So when we saw that the Swiss will vote in a national referendum May 18 on whether to create a minimum wage of 22 francs ($25) per hour, or 4,000 francs a month, we were stunned... If Swiss voters agree to introducing a new minimum wage law, they would end up doing incalculable damage to Switzerland's entrepreneurial culture. At the moment, Switzerland is still one of the freest economies in the world. It has been extremely successful so far and its achievements would clearly be put at risk. Hopefully Switzerland's voters won't be swayed by union's arguments.
That the official rate of inflation doesn't reflect reality is obvious to anyone paying college tuition and healthcare out of pocket. The debate over the accuracy of the official consumer price index (CPI) and personal consumption expenditures (PCE--the so-called core rate of inflation) has raged for years, with no resolution in sight. So why does the government maintain such a transparently inaccurate and misleading metric? For three reasons.
In all honesty, we were a little confused whether to call this Tuesday Humor or Tuesday Schizophrenia, because moments ago the biggest dove at the Fed, Minneapolis Fed's one-time converted uberhawk Kocherlakota (who recall fired his two biggest hawkish opponents at his regional Fed) just came up with the most idiotic, and hence hilarious, thing a president of the one institution whose only job is to devalue the fiat currency of the host nation can say:
- KOCHERLAKOTA SEES ‘REAL EROSION’ OF PEOPLE’S PURCHASING POWER
Yep - the biggest dove in the Fed - the only person who disagreed with the Fed's decision to continue tapering - is suddenly worried about the erosion in your purchasing power dear people. What nobility. What humanism.
After warning that hardware is dead, my thesis has foreshadowed the slashing of the equity values of Apple, Blackberry, Samsung, Nokia and HTC despite the fact that the sell side has said otherwise. Now I've enabled the whole world to profit on the premise
Fundamentals are always important over the long term. That said, it has become quite clear that company financials are not what’s moving this market. If fundamentals mattered then the words and decisions of central bankers wouldn’t be the most important headlines. Simply put, the economic fundamentals do not support stock prices. Is this the top? There’s no way to tell. Do some areas of the market look like past bubbles once did? Without a doubt. The last step up before the fall is often characterized by a feeling that the market is invincible. Despite the S&P’s incredible run, it cannot continue to rally forever. Eventually, economic fundamentals will matter again and when that happens it’s likely that the market will sell off.
If the Fed is so powerful, why is it so cowardly and fearful that it has to cloak its theft of our money and its transfer of the wealth to the banks? What's it so afraid of? That we might wake up to the fact that we're being Fed to the sharks, every day, one morsel at a time?
The reasons to hold gold (and silver), and we mean physical bullion, are pretty straightforward. So let’s begin with the primary ones:
- To protect against monetary recklessness
- As insulation against fiscal foolishness
- As insurance against the possibility of a major calamity in the banking/financial system
- For the embedded 'option value' that will pay out handsomely if gold is re-monetized
The punch line is this: Gold (and silver) is not in bubble territory, and its largest gains remain yet to be realized; especially if current monetary, fiscal, and fundamental supply-and-demand trends remain in play.
Curious why March hourly wages fell, and why the weekly number continues to trend at a near-recession level, and certainly one that does not support a 2% inflation growth case? Here's why: in March the best paying industry groups - information, financial activities and manufacturing (which actually saw a drop of 1,000 jobs in the past month) - added a cumulative total of... 2,000 jobs among them. Where was the bulk of the job gains? At the worst paying sectors of course.
One way to understand why the global financial meltdown occurred in 2008 and not in 2012 is all the oxygen in the room had been consumed. In the U.S. housing market, there was nobody left to buy an overpriced house with a no-document liar loan because everyone who was qualified to buy a McMansion in the middle of nowhere had already bought three and everyone who wasn't qualified had purchased a McMansion to flip with a liar loan. Once the pool of credulous buyers evaporated, the dominoes fell, eventually circling the globe. Right now China is at the top of the S-Curve, and the problems of stagnation are still ahead.
"Tanaka Kikinzoku Jewelry, a precious metals specialist, reported that sales of gold ingots across seven of its shops are up more than 500% this month. At the company’s flagship store in Ginza on Thursday, people queued for up to three hours to buy 500g bars worth about Y2.3m ($22,500). March has been the busiest month in Tanaka’s 120-year history."... "Investors are being drawn to the metal not just because of higher taxes, said Itsuo Toshima, an adviser to pension funds.“Slowly and steadily, people are preparing for the worst, which is the failure of Abenomics." “To protect the value of wealth, gold comes into play as an inflation hedge, and if the economy goes back to deflationary circumstances then, again, money seeking safe havens would flow into gold."
Two years ago, on April 2, 2012, long before it became abundantly clear to even the most clueless CNBC hacks, we said that there will be no capex boom as long as corporate management teams abuse ZIRP (and yes, it is all the Fed's fault as we further explained) to allocate capital, most of it courtesy of low-cost debt, by providing quick returns to activist investors through dividends and buybacks, instead of reallocating the funds to grow the company by investing in Capex (the latest proof of the unprecedented lack of capital spending growth increase came earlier today) and SG&A or at least M&A. Two years later after our post, whose conclusion has been proven empirically by what has happened in the US economy where CapEx still refuses to pick up despite endless lies of some recovery that refuses to materialize except in talking head year-end bonuses, none other than the head of the world's largest asset manager, BlackRock's Larry Fink admits we were right all along.
In the land of the free and the home of the entitled, the sad (but true) nature of income inequality's inexorable rise in the past few years has a somewhat more startling impact on the future. With work being punished for the marginal employee and the wealth effect concentrated in the hands of the great and good, the following two charts show clearly the sad fact that those who need to save for the future the most don't (and likely can't) and those with all the income save the most (and thus 'spend' the least). As we noted previously, the rich have the assets and the poor have the debt (and debt is not wealth).
When you ponder the implications of allowing a small group of powerful wealthy unaccountable men to control the currency of a nation over the last one hundred years, you understand why our public education system sucks. The average American has experienced a fourteen year recession caused by the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve. Our leaders could have learned the lesson of two Fed induced collapses in the space of eight years and voluntarily abandoned the policies of reckless credit expansion, instead embracing policies encouraging saving, capital investment and balanced budgets. They have chosen the same cure as the disease, which will lead to crisis, catastrophe and collapse.
Let's examine what happened from the beginning. An extreme right wing group, with US and NATO support (according to released internal transcripts), overthrew the legitimate Ukrainian government (illegally) via violent coup. The fact that this group had western support is not important really, but should be noted. So according to 'international law' - this 'country' is NOT Ukraine. Ukraine cease to exist when this happened. The new 'government' - not popularly elected, seized control by force.
The red flags contained in the national and global headlines that have come out thus far in 2014 should have spooked investors and economic forecasters. Instead the markets have barely noticed. It seems that the majority opinion on Wall Street and Washington is that we have entered an era of good fortune made possible by the benevolent hand of the Federal Reserve. Ben Bernanke and now Janet Yellen have apparently removed all the economic rough edges that would normally draw blood. As a result of this monetary "baby-proofing," a strong economy is no longer considered necessary for rising stock and real estate prices. But unfortunately, everything has a price, even free money.