"We simply exhausted the productivity benefits of prior innovations. In the late 19th century, hugely important 'general purpose' technologies, like electricity and the internal combustion engine, were invented."
While Reverse QE, or QT, or whatever one wants to call it has become traditionally associated with Emerging Markets and petroleum exporters, nobody had linked it with one of the most advanced Developed Markets in the world which also happens to be an oil exporter, the market with the largest sovereign wealth fun in the world: Norway. That is about to change because as Bloomberg report, "the future may already be here", a future in which Norway's gargantuan $830 billion sovereign wealth fund, the product of two decades of capital accumulation courtesy of Norway's vast petroleum reserves and oil trade, is forced to begin liquidating its vast assets.
- U.S., Allies Demand Russia Stop Attacks on Syria Opposition (BBG)
- Russian Airstrikes Defend Strategic Assad Regime Stronghold on Syria’s Coast (WSJ)
- Emerging Stocks Head for Weekly Advance Before U.S. Jobs Data (BBG)
- Wage Strife Clouds Car-Sales Boom (WSJ)
- Oregon town reels from classroom carnage (Reuters)
- Oregon shooter came from California, described as shy and skittish (Reuters)
The consequences of all this are grim, but the timing is hard to predict. Perhaps the government can somehow borrow amounts that no one previously thought possible. But its creditors will look for repayment. Either the creditors are going to walk away unhappy (in the case of default), or the holders of all dollars are going to be stuck with worthless paper (in the case of hyperinflation), or the taxpayers’ pockets will be looted (the longer things muddle along), or most likely a combination of all three will happen. This will not be a happy story for all but a few of us.
Who would have thought that decades of ZIRP, an aborted attempt to hike rates over a decade ago, and the annual monetization of well over 10% of sovereign debt would lead to a toxic debt spiral, regardless of how many "Abenomics" arrows one throws at it? Apparently Standard and Poors just had its a-ha subprime flashbulb moment and moments ago, a little over 4 years after it downgraded the US from its legendary AAA-rating which led to angry phone calls from Tim Geithner and a painful US government lawsuit, downgraded Japan from AA- to A+. The reason: rising doubt Abenomics is working.
We can look at official statistics to get a sense of inflation, but these numbers are totally meaningless. When I was a kid, my father earned enough money to support his family with a single salary. We had a house, a car, an occasional vacation, and we never missed a meal. All on one income. But those days are long gone. Now it’s almost obligatory to live in a dual-income household just to make ends meet. The official statistics never paint this picture.
It’s all emotional bullshit because what one hardly ever reads about from these Trumpeteer Marionettes is an actual discussion about Trump on the issues. It’s more important to squeeze out yet another orgasmic fountain of joy because he threw out some Univision reporter; “Oh, look! Isn’t zee Donald just Wunderbar!!” Screw that. So, let’s look at what The Donald believes... by his own words.
Just a few weeks ago, US talk show host Stephen Colbert was asked if he thought that Donald Trump had a chance of becoming President of the United States. Colbert responded sincerely. “Honestly, he could. And that’s not an opinion of Trump. That’s my opinion of our nation.” He’s right. The Land of the Free may very well be ready for something completely different. And Trump certainly seems able to deliver.
All of this raises an interesting question about the future of the US dollar. Because if an economy as large and powerful as China’s has had to concede defeat, does this mean that “King Dollar” will rule forever? No chance.
- China central bank tries to soothe global markets, says no reason for yuan to fall further (Reuters)
- Huge blasts at Chinese port kill 44, with hundreds injured (Reuters)
- China efforts to slow yuan fall hoist Europe shares, bond yields (Reuters)
- Greek Economy Unexpectedly Surged Before Capital Controls (BBG)
- Joe Biden Is Sounding Out Allies About a 2016 Bid (WSJ)
- U.K. Tries to Kick-Start Shale Gas With Planning Speedup (BBG)
The economy operates within a finite world, so at some point, a problem of diminishing returns develops. In other words, it takes more and more effort (human labor and use of resources) to produce a given quantity of oil or food, or fresh water, or other desirable products. The problem of slowing economic growth is very closely related to the question: How can the limits we are reaching be expected to play out in a finite world? Many people imagine that we will “run out” of some necessary resource, such as oil, but we see the situation differently. Here are a few issues that may not be obvious.
Earlier this week I told you about Social Security’s Disability Insurance Trust Fund (DI), which will become insolvent in a matter of months. The DI problem (just like the rest of Social Security) has been a long time coming. But rather than form some meaningful solution, Congress has instead opted to commit financial fraud by commingling DI monies together with the other Social Security funds. Now comes the Highway Trust Fund. The difference between DI and the Highway Trust fund is that this one won’t be insolvent in a matter of years or months. Their own data shows that it may very well be toast… today.
The so-called “trustees” of the social security system issued their annual report last week and the stenographers of the financial press dutifully reported that the day of reckoning when the trust funds run dry has been put off another year - until 2034. So take a breath and kick the can. That’s five Presidential elections away!
...Except that is not what the report really says.