It's a common story throughout human history. There’s almost always an elite, or government, with a ‘scarcity’ mentality that believes in the zero sum game, i.e. for anyone to be a winner, someone else has to be a loser. When they’re short of cash, governments almost invariably raise taxes. Of course, the numbers show that raising taxes rarely affects total tax revenue. There’s a very looooong history which clearly establishes this point. And you’d think that a government would look at the data and recognize the obvious truth: their scarcity mentality doesn’t work. But no. Sadly, in the face of such overwhelming data, the Obama administration is now pushing to raise tax rates once again...
How does the economy really work? In our view, both energy and debt play an extremely important role in an economic system. Once energy supply and other aspects of the economy start hitting diminishing returns, there is a serious chance that a debt implosion will bring the whole system down. In this first piece of this story, we explain how the economy is tied to energy, and how the leveraging impact of cheap energy creates economic growth.
When President Obama ascends to the podium this evening to deliver his State of the Union address, he’ll undoubtedly shine a spotlight on the many strengths of America. The real issue, however, isn’t where the United States is today. The problem is where it’s going. And quickly...
Yesterday, the IRS announced the International Data Exchange Service. If you’ve not heard of it, it’s is an outgrowth of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which requires every single bank in the world to get in bed with IRS to share information about customers. We’ve said this over and over, FATCA is probably the dumbest law in the history of the United States. And we don’t say that lightly, because there’s definitely stiff competition. Like any other bankrupt government, the US government has taken to intimidating its own citizens and the entire world in an attempt to make ends meet. But the fact is that tax revenues actually haven’t improved at all. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the rest of the world is one day going to create its own alternative system. One that would no longer rely on the US dollar.
By now, it is no secret that the one state that conventional wisdom expects to suffer the most as a result of the crude collapse is the one state that through the Great Recession was the primary provider of (well-paying) job creation, the same state which is now expected to enter into a full-blown recession. But is it really Texas that will be impacted the most? The answer, at least according to a recent Pew report, is a resounding no.
Mainstream Media in the US seem to emphasize the positive aspects of the drop in prices. If our only problem were high oil prices, then low oil prices would seem to be a solution. Unfortunately, the problem we are encountering now is extremely low prices. If prices continue at this low level, or go even lower, we are in deep trouble with respect to future oil extraction. The situation is much more worrisome than most people would expect. Even if there are some temporary good effects, they will be more than offset by bad effects, some of which could be very bad indeed. We may be reaching limits of a finite world.
Einstein advised “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”. Yet that’s mostly what I see happening today on many levels.
If the BOJ’s mad money printers were treated as monetary pariahs by the rest of the world, it would at least imply that a modicum of sanity remains on the planet. But just the opposite is the case. Establishment institutions like the IMF, the US treasury and the other major central banks urge them on, while the Keynesian arson squad led by Professor Krugman actually faults Japan for being too tepid with its “stimulus”. Now comes several new data points that absolutely confirm Japan is a financial mad house...
The Global Monetary Reset is under way, but people have not noticed it yet. The key is the move to zero interest rates.
Yesterday's epic market surge, the biggest Dow surge since December 2011 on the back of the most violent short squeeze in three years, highlighted just why being caught wrong side in an illiquid market can be terminal to one's asset management career (especially if on margin), and thus why hedge funds are so leery of dipping more than their toe in especially on the short side, resulting in a 6th consecutive year of underperformance relative to the confidence-boosting policy tool that is the S&P. And with today's session the last Friday before Christmas week, compounded by a quadruple witching option expiration, expect even less liquidity and even more violent moves as a few E-mini oddlots take out the entire stack on either the bid or ask side. Keep an eye on the USDJPY which, now that equities have decided to ignore both HY and energy prices, is the only driver for risk left: this means the usual pre-US open upward momentum ignition rigging will be rife to set a positive tone ahead of today's session.
Simply put, the US government has reached a point of no return.
Having already raised rates and devalued the Naira (and widened its trading bands), the Nigerian currency continues to collapse to new record lows as crude crashes lower and lower. Having tumbled 11.5% since oil prices peaked, the Naira is holdinga round 184/USD - over 9% above the new peg and dramatically outside of the new trading bands of +/-5% as it seems capital flight is out of control. That is probably why, as Bloomberg reports, Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has commented that Nigeria won’t resort to printing money or imprudent borrowing as it adjusts to lower prices of oil. “This is not the first time this country has gone through lower oil prices and it will not be the last,” she said - making it very clear that Nigeria is not Zimbabwe (yet).
America has created a moral hazard for all Americans in that we feel we always have a fail safe no matter what we do because we’ve always succeeded. But so too had every other great dynasty until it didn’t. If we do not force a change in our economic policies we are very close to and perhaps already past the point of no return. I have no witting quip to end this article. The economic landscape we face today is nothing short of dire. And at the risk of sounding overdramatic we either force a policy change, suffer the short term pain and restructure or we and all future generations will live in a very different America from the one our folks left us.
On October 22, 1981, the government of the United States of America accumulated an astounding $1 TRILLION in debt. At that point, it had taken the country 74,984 days (more than 205 years) to accumulate its first trillion in debt. It would take less than five years to accumulate its second trillion. And as the US government just hit $18 trillion in debt on Friday afternoon, it has taken a measly 403 days to accumulate its most recent trillion. There’s so much misinformation and propaganda about this; let’s examine some of the biggest lies out there about the US debt...
Over four centuries ago, the Dutch East India Company made history as the world’s first IPO. Known as VOC in the Netherlands, the company was one of the most successful ventures in the last several hundred years. When adjusted for inflation, its highest market capitalization would be worth over $7 TRILLION today (i.e. ten times the size of Apple).