Category Archive: The United States

Why We’re Doomed: Our Economy’s Toxic Inequality

Why are we doomed? Those consuming over-amped "news" feeds may be tempted to answer the culture wars, nuclear war with North Korea or the Trump Presidency. The one guaranteed source of doom is our broken financial system, which is visible in this chart of income inequality from the New York Times: Our Broken Economy, in One Simple Chart.

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United States: Still No Up

The Asian flu of the late 1990’s might have been more accurately described as the Asian dollar flu. It was the first major global test of the mature eurodollar system, and it was a severe disruption in the global economy. It doesn’t register as much here in the United States because of the dot-com bubble and the popular imagination about Alan Greenspan’s monetary stewardship in general.

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L’impact de la délocalisation de la production sur la balance commerciale US.

Dans la série sur la balance des paiements et les zooms sur les balances commerciales, voici l’évolution de la balance commerciale américaine. Nous voyons clairement qu’elle était neutralisée à 0 durant l’ère où les devises du monde devaient être arrimées, selon les Accords de Bretton Woods, au dollar qui lui-même était partiellement couvert par l’or.

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Data Dependent: Interest Rates Have Nowhere To Go

In October 2015, Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Bill Dudley admitted that the US economy might be slowing. In the typically understated fashion befitting the usual clownshow, he merely was acknowledging what was by then pretty obvious to anyone outside the economics profession.

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U.S. Export/Import: Losing Economic Trade

The oil effect continued to recede in late spring for more than just WTI prices or inflation rates. US trade on both sides, inbound and outbound, while still positive has stalled since the winter.

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Are We Already in Recession?

How shocked would you be if it was announced that the U.S. had just entered a recession, that is, a period in which gross domestic product (GDP) declines (when adjusted for inflation) for two or more quarters? Would you really be surprised to discover that the eight-year long "recovery," the weakest on record, had finally rolled over into recession?

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Ignore The Idiot

Of the economic releases of the past two weeks the one that got the most attention was the employment report. That report is seen by many market analysts as one of the most important and of course the Fed puts a lot of emphasis on it so the press spends an inordinate amount of time dissecting it.

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Oil Prices, CPI: Why Not Zero?

In the early throes of economic devastation in 1931, Sweden found itself particularly vulnerable to any number of destabilizing factors. The global economy had been hit by depression, and the Great Contraction was bearing down on the Swedish monetary system. The krona had always been linked to the British pound, so that when the Bank of England removed gold convertibility (left the gold standard) from its notes on September 19 that year the Swedish...

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Real GDP: The Staggering Costs

How do we measure what has been lost over the last ten years? There is no single way to calculate it, let alone a correct solution. There are so many sides to an economy that choosing one risks overstating that facet at the expense of another. It’s somewhat of an impossible task already given the staggering dimensions.

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Oil Prices: The Center Of The Inflation Debate

The mainstream media is about to be presented with another (small) gift. In its quest to discredit populism, the condition of inflation has become paramount for largely the right reasons (accidents do happen). In the context of the macro economy of 2017, inflation isn’t really about consumer prices except as a broad gauge of hidden monetary conditions.

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Is Another Oil Head-Fake Brewing?

Over the past decade I've addressed what I call Head-Fakes in the cost of oil/fossil fuel: even though we know the cost of extracting and processing oil will rise over time as the easy-to-get oil is depleted, oil occasionally plummets to such low prices that we're fooled into thinking it will remain cheap for a long time to come.

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U.S. Treasuries: Not Really Wrong On Bonds

It is often said that the market for US Treasuries is the deepest and most liquid in the world. While that’s true, we have to be careful about what it is we are talking about. There is no single US Treasury market, and often differences can be striking. The most prominent example was, of course, October 15, 2014.

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Why We’re So Risk-Averse: “We Can’t Take That Chance”

If our faith in the future and our resilience is near-zero, then we can't take any chances. You've probably noticed how risk-averse Hollywood has become: the big summer movies are all extensions of existing franchises--mixing up the superheroes in new combinations, or remaking hit films from the past--all safe bets.

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Inflation Is Not About Consumer Prices

I suspect President Trump has been told that markets don’t like radical changes. If there is one thing that any elected official is afraid of, it’s the internet flooded with reports of grave financial instability. We need only go back a year to find otherwise confident authorities suddenly reassessing their whole outlook.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Extending The Cycle

This economic cycle is one of the longest on record for the US, eight years and counting since the end of the last recession. It has also been, as almost everyone knows, a fairly weak expansion, one that has managed to disappoint both bull and bear.

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The Two Charts That Dictate the Future of the Economy

The stock market, bond yields and statistical measures of the economy can be gamed, manipulated and massaged by authorities, but the real economy cannot. This is espcially true for the core drivers of the economy, real (adjusted for inflation) household income and real disposable household income, i.e. the real income remaining after debt service (interest and principal), rent, healthcare co-payments and insurance and other essential living expenses.

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U.S. Consumer Price Index, Oil Prices: Why It Will Continue, Again Continued

Part of “reflation” was always going to be banks making more money in money. These days that is called FICC – Fixed Income, Currency, Commodities. There’s a bunch of activities included in that mix, but it’s mostly derivative trading books forming the backbone of math-as-money money. The better the revenue conditions in FICC, the more likely banks are going to want to do more of it, perhaps to the point of reversing what is just one quarter shy of...

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There Is Only One Empire: Finance

There's an entire sub-industry in journalism devoted to the idea that China is poised to replace the U.S. as the "global empire" / hegemon. This notion of global empire being something like a baton that gets passed from nation-state to nation-state is seriously misleading, in my view, for this reason:

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Reports on a Quarterly Survey Conducted: Qualifying Shortage (Labor)

There isn’t a day that goes by in 2017 where some study is released or anecdote is published purporting a sinister labor market development. There is a shortage of workers, we are told, often a very big one. The idea is simple enough; the media has been writing for years that the US economy was recovering, and they would very much like to either see one and be proven right (and that recent revived populism is illegitimate), or find an excuse why...

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U.S. Industrial Production: Industrial Drag

Completing a busy day of US economic data, Industrial Production was, like retail sales and inflation data, highly disappointing. Prior months were revised slightly lower, leaving IP year-over-year up just 2% in June 2017 (estimates for May were initially 2.2%). Revisions included, the annual growth rate has been stuck around 2% now for three months in a row, suggesting like those other accounts a pause or even possible end to the mini-improvement...

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