Category Archive: 5) Global Macro

The Transitory Story, I Repeat, The Transitory Story

Understand what the word “transitory” truly means in this context. It is no different than Ben Bernanke saying, essentially, subprime is contained. To the Fed Chairman in early 2007, this one little corner of the mortgage market in an otherwise booming economy was a transitory blip that booming economy would easily withstand. Just eight days before Bernanke would testify confidently before Congress, the FOMC had met to discuss their lying eyes....

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Proposed Negative Rates Really Expose The Bond Market’s Appreciation For What Is Nothing More Than Magic Number Theory

By far, the biggest problem in Economics is that it has no sense of itself. There are no self-correction mechanisms embedded within the discipline to make it disciplined. Without having any objective goals from which to measure, the goal is itself. Nobel Prize winning economist Ronald Coase talked about this deficiency in his Nobel Lecture:

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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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A spanner in the works

While Trump’s weekend tweets have created fresh uncertainties around US trade talks with China, some perspective is needed.At the weekend, US President Trump threatened to increase the tariff rate on Chinese imports as he believes that US-China trade negotiations are going “too slowly”. Importantly, Trump’s threats do not mean bilateral talks are breaking down. Indeed, the Chinese government confirmed today that its trade delegation would still go...

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What Would It Take to Spark a Rural/Small-Town Revival?

There are many historical models in which the spending/investing of wealthy families drives the expansion of local economies. The increase in farm debt while farm income declines is putting unbearable financial pressure on American farmers, who must be differentiated from giant agri-business corporations. This is placing immense pressure on farmers, pressure which manifests in rising suicide rates.

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Good Riddance to a “Nothing-Burger” Trade Deal

China has expanded its domestic debt to fund its growth, much of which qualifies as malinvestment, creating financial vulnerabilities its government is anxious to mask. As I noted in Trade Deal Follies: The U.S. Has Embraced the World's Worst Negotiating Tactics (April 8, 2019), the trade deal was a Nothing-Burger for the U.S. Without any consequences for violating trade deals, China violates all trade deals, starting with the WTO.

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