Despite the authorities' best efforts to keep everything orderly, we know how this global Game of Geopolitical Tetris ends: "Players lose a typical game of Tetris when they can no longer keep up with the increasing speed, and the Tetriminos stack up to the top of the playing field. This is commonly referred to as topping out."
"I’m tired of being outraged!"
Let’s see. Between July 2007 and January 2009, the median US residential housing price plunged from $230k to $165k or by 30%. That must have been some kind of super “tax cut”.
The global oil price collapse now unfolding is not putting a single dime into the pockets of American households - the CNBC talking heads to the contrary notwithstanding. What is happening is the vast flood of mispriced debt and capital, which flowed into the energy sector owning to the Fed’s lunatic ZIRP and QE policies, is now rapidly deflating. That will reduce bubble spending and investment, not add to economic growth. It’s the housing bust all over again.
And the final punch in the gut on this bloodbathy Friday some from French Fitch which just downgraded France from AA+ to AA: "The weak outlook for the French economy impairs the prospects for fiscal consolidation and stabilising the public debt ratio. The French economy underperformed Fitch's and the government's expectations in 1H14 as it struggled to find any growth momentum, in common with a number of other eurozone countries. Underlying trends remained weak despite the economy growing more strongly than expected in 3Q, when inventories and public spending provided an uplift. Euro depreciation and lower oil prices will provide some boost to growth in 2015. Fitch's near-term GDP growth projections are unchanged from the October review of 0.4% in 2014 and 0.8% in 2015, down from 0.7% and 1.2% previously. Continued high unemployment at 10.5% is also weighing on economic and fiscal prospects."
In order to "suggest" that the US economy had grown by a far greater than expected run-rate, the BEA was forced to revise away personal income, and "assume" these had instead been invested in the US economy, in the form of a surge of durable goods purchases. Sure enough, while both incomes and savings tumbled, spending magically surged: So if that "statistical" amount of money you thought you had saved in the BEA's savings.xls spreadsheet just dropped by 10%, fear not dear Americans: it was all used for a good cause: to fabricate a much stronger than expected Q3 GDP number.
The global financial system has come unglued. Everywhere the real world evidence points to cooling growth, faltering investment, slowing trade, vast excess industrial capacity, peak private debt, public fiscal exhaustion, currency wars, intensified politico-military conflict and an unprecedented disconnect between debt-saturated real economies and irrationally exuberant financial markets.
Keynesian fiscal policies and central banking regimes have buried the public sectors of most of the world’s major economies in unsustainable debt. Now they propose to double down on more of the same because an entire generation of politicians have been house-trained in permanent fiscal profligacy and endless kicking of the fiscal can down the road. To be sure, in perhaps putting off Japan’s day of fiscal reckoning once again, Prime Minister Abe is proving himself to be a certifiable madman. In short order, however, he will have plenty of company all around the planet.
Do you want to know why Millennials seem so angry? We promised them that if they worked hard, stayed out of trouble and got good grades that they would be able to achieve the "American Dream". We told them not to worry about accumulating very high levels of student loan debt because there would be good jobs waiting for them at the end of the rainbow once they graduated. Well, it turns out that we lied to them.
The bottom line, or rather, negative line, is the Millennials' savings, because "after a flirtation with thrift after the recession, young Americans have stopped saving. Adults under age 35—the so-called millennial generation—currently have a savings rate of negative 2%, meaning they are burning through their assets or going into debt, according to Moody’s Analytics. That compares with a positive savings rate of about 3% for those age 35 to 44, 6% for those 45 to 54, and 13% for those 55 and older."
This may be excessively optimistic on my part, but there seems to be a slow change in the way the world thinks about reserve currencies. For a long time it was widely accepted that reserve currency status granted the provider of the currency substantial economic benefits. For much of my career I pretty much accepted the consensus, but as one starts to think more seriously about the components of the balance of payments, it is clear Keynes wad right in his call for a hybrid currency when he recognized that once the reserve currency was no longer constrained by gold convertibility, the world needed an alternative way to prevent destabilizing imbalances from developing. On the heels of Treasury Economist Kenneth Austin and former-Obama chief economist Jared Bernstein discussing the end of the USD as a reserve currency, Michael Pettis summarizes 10 reasons the USD's reserve status has become an 'exorbitant burden'.
Despite 2nd Slowest Income Growth In 2014, Spending Rises Most Since March Driven By Subprime, Car SalesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/29/2014 07:38 -0500
Mission releverage accomplished. Personal Income rose 0.3% in August (very slightly below Bloomberg's median estimate), the 2nd slowest growth of the year. Personal spending however jumped 0.5%, beating the 0.4% expectations, and its equal best growth since March. What was spending focused on? Why autosales, which accounted for about half of the spending. And what funded this spending? Why subprime car loans of course; it sure wasn't the real disposable income per capita which was a paltry $37,684 in August.
"Washington is absolutely correct, in my opinion, to want to boost American consumption, but the Fed seems to be trying to boost consumption by igniting another asset bubble in the hopes that, like before 2007, Americans will feel “richer” and so will consume more. This isn't sustainable, however, and will leave us, as Paul and Druckenmiller fear, even more heavily indebted and more dangerously exposed to the underlying weakness in demand."
Judging by the just released personal income and spending data, consumers are already forecasting a long, harsh winter. With incomes and outlays expected to rise by 0.3% and 0.2% respectively, the July data was a big dud, missing on both expectations, and while income rose by a modest 0.2%, far below the 0.5% in June, it was personal spending which in fact declined by 0.1%, a major drop from the 0.4% increase in the prior month, and the first outright decline in spending since January. As CNBC's Steve Liesman explained the disappointing data: "weather."
The ragged Keynesian excuse that all will be well in Japan once the jump in the consumption tax from 5% to 8% is fully digested is false. Here’s the problem: this is just the beginning of an endless march upwards of Japan’s tax burden to close the yawning fiscal gap left after the current round of tax increases, and to finance its growing retirement colony. There is no possibility that Abenomics will result in “escape velocity” Japan style and that Japan can grow its way out of it enormous fiscal trap. Instead, nominal and real growth will remain pinned to the flatline owing to peak debt, soaring retirements, a shrinking tax base and a tax burden which will rise as far as the eye can see. Call that a Keynesian dystopia. It is a cautionary tale for our times. And Japan, unfortunately, is just patient zero.
During the last 64 months “buying the dips” has been a fabulously successful proposition. So yesterday’s 2% dip will undoubtedly be construed as still another buying opportunity by the well-trained seals and computerized algos which populate the Wall Street casino. But that could be a fatal mistake for one overpowering reason: The radical monetary policy experiment behind this parabolic graph is in the final stages of its appointed path toward self-destruction.
For the third month in a row, personal spending missed Bloomberg's median expectation. However, as incomes rose 0.4% in June so spending also rose 0.4% - its best MoM rise in 3 months. The biggest MoM rise was in energy goods and services (+1.67% MoM - the biggest rise this year) - hardly the things sustainable recoveries are built on. The personal savings rate was flat MoM at 5.3% - the same 'peak' level it hit in the middle of 2013.