Category Archive: 5) Global Macro

Europe Comes Apart, And That’s Before #4

In May 2018, the European Parliament found that it was incredibly popular. Commissioning what it calls the Eurobarameter survey, the EU’s governing body said that two-thirds of Europeans inside the bloc believed that membership had benefited their own countries. It was the highest showing since 1983. Voters in May 2019 don’t appear to have agreed with last year’s survey.

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Lesson of the S-Curve: Doing More of What’s Failed Will Fail Spectacularly

I often refer to the S-Curve because Nature so often tracks this curve of ignition, rapid expansion, stagnation and decline. One lesson of the S-Curve is that the human bias to keep doing more of what worked so well in the past leads to doing more of what failed even as results turn negative.

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Forget “Money”: What Will Matter Are Water, Energy, Soil and Food–and a Shared National Purpose

If you want to identify tomorrow's superpowers, overlay maps of fresh water, energy, grain/cereal surpluses and arable land. The status quo measures wealth with "money," but "money" is not what's valuable. "Money" (in quotes because the global economy operates on intrinsically valueless fiat currencies being "money") is wealth only if it can purchase what's actually valuable.

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China’s Insurmountable Global Weakness: Its Currency

If China wants superpower status, it will have to issue its currency in size and let the global FX market discover its price. Quick history quiz: in all of recorded history, how many superpowers pegged their currency to the currency of a rival superpower? Put another way: how many superpowers have made their own currency dependent on another superpower's currency?

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Technology Is Not Just Disruptive, It’s Disastrously Deflationary

Deflation eats credit-dependent, mass-consumption economies alive from the inside. While AI (artificial intelligence) garners the headlines, the next wave of disruptive technologies extend far beyond AI: as the chart of technologies rapidly being adopted shows, this wave includes new materials and processes as well as the "usual suspects" of machine learning, natural language processing, data mining and so on.

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Weakening Japanese momentum behind strong GDP figures

Japan’s latest GDP report reveals some notable weakness in the economy despite the strong headline figures.The preliminary reading of Japanese GDP for Q1 shows that the economy grew by 2.1% q-o-q annualised, beating the consensus forecast of -0.2%.However, behind the strong headline figures, details of the GDP report reveal some broad-based weakening in momentum.Declining corporate capex and sluggish household consumption both drag on domestic...

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Two Intertwined Dynamics Are Transforming the Economy: Technology and Financialization

If you want to understand how the economy is being transformed, look at the intersection of Big Tech, financialization and the central state. The two dynamics transforming the economy--technology and financialization--are intertwined yet widely viewed as unrelated. Critics and proponents of each largely ignore the other dynamic: critics of institutionalized fraud and other manifestations of financialization implicitly assume the economy will return...

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Japan’s Surprise Positive Is A Huge Minus

Preliminary estimates show that Japanese GDP surprised to the upside by a significant amount. According to Japan’s Cabinet Office, Real GDP expanded by 0.5% (seasonally-adjusted) in the first quarter of 2019 from the last quarter of 2018. That’s an annual rate of +2.1%. Most analysts had been expecting around a 0.2% contraction, which would’ve been the third quarterly minus out of the last five.

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The Normalization and Institutionalization of Fraud

Normalizing and institutionalizing fraud undermines the foundations of the economy and the financial system. I am indebted to Manoj Samanta (twitter: @flation_debate) for the insightful concept the commoditization of fraud. The first step in the commoditization of fraud is to normalize fraud as Business as Usual (BAU) to the point that it's no longer viewed as "wrong," destructive or an aberration of evil-doers but as an accepted way to maximize...

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Downward Mobility Matters More Than Liberal-Conservative Labels

The real heresy here is the American economy is now rigged for downward mobility. In the conventional narrative, one's economic class is overshadowed by one's political belief structure: liberal, conservative, libertarian, etc. In terms of economic class, the conventional narrative divides people into their ideological beliefs about economic ideologies: free market capitalism, socialism, etc.

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Global Doves Expire: Fed Pause Fizzles (US Retail Sales)

Before the stock market’s slide beginning in early October, for most people they heard the economy was booming, the labor market was unbelievably good, an inflationary breakout just over the horizon. Jay Powell did as much as anyone to foster this belief, chief caretaker to the narrative. He and his fellow central bankers couldn’t use the word “strong” enough.

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Core sovereign bond yields – update

We are adjusting downward our year-end targets for the 10-year US Treasury and Bund yields.Taking hold of two important changes to our central macroeconomic scenarios, we are adjusting downward our year-end target for the 10-year US Treasury yield from 3.0% to 2.8% and the Bund yield from 0.5% to 0.3%. 

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Effective Recession First In Japan?

For a lot of people, a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative GDP. This is called the technical definition in the mainstream and financial media. While this specific pattern can indicate a change in the business cycle, it’s really only one narrow case. Recessions are not just tied to GDP. In the US, the Economists who make the determination (the NBER) will tell you recessions aren’t always so straightforward.

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The Economy Has Fundamentally Changed in the 21st Century–and Not for the Better

The net result is we have an economy that's supposedly expanding smartly while our well-being and financial security are collapsing. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and other metrics of economic activity don't measure either broad-based prosperity or well-being. Elites skimming financialization profits by expanding corporate debt and issuing more loans to commoners while spending more on their lifestyles boosts GDP quite nicely while the security and...

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Burnout Nation

A number of recent surveys reflect a widespread sense of financial stress and symptoms of poor health in America's workers, particularly the younger generations. There's no real mystery as to the cause of this economic anxiety:

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Trade Wars Have Arrived, But It’s Trade Winter That Hurts

There is truth to the trade war. That’s a big problem because it’s not the only problem. It isn’t even the main one. Given that, it’s easy to look at tariffs and see all our current ills in them. The Census Bureau reports today that the trade wars have definitely arrived. In March 2019, US imports from China plummeted by nearly 19% year-over-year.

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Unrealistically Great Expectations

Let's see if we can tie together four social dynamics: the elite college admissions scandal, the decline in social mobility, the rising sense of entitlement and the unrealistically 'great expectations' of many Americans. As many have noted, the nation's financial and status rewards are increasingly flowing to the top 5%, what many call a winner-take-all or winner-take-most economy.

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The Great Unraveling Begins: Distraction, Lies, Infighting, Betrayal

There are two basic pathways to systemic collapse: external shocks or internal decay. The two are not mutually exclusive, of course; it can be argued that the most common path is internal decay weakens the empire/state and an external shock pushes the rotted structure off the cliff.

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China’s Export Story Is Everyone’s Economic Base Case

The first time the global economy was all set to boom, officials were at least more cautious. Chastened by years of setbacks and false dawns, in early 2014 they were encouraged nonetheless. The US was on the precipice of a boom (the first time), it was said, and though Europe was struggling it was positive with a more aggressive ECB emerging.

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What’s Germany’s GDP Without Factories

It was a startling statement for the time. Mario Draghi had only been on the job as President of the European Central Bank for a few months by then, taking over for the hapless Jean Claude-Trichet who was unceremoniously retired at the end of October 2011 amidst “unexpected” chaos and turmoil. It was Trichet who contributed much to the tumult, having idiotically raised rates (twice) during 2011 even as warning signs of crisis and economic weakness...

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