Category Archive: 5.) The United States

Industrial Fading

It is time to start paying attention to PMI’s again, some of them. There are those like the ISM’s Manufacturing Index which remains off in a world of its own. The version of the goods economy suggested by this one index is very different than almost every other. It skyrocketed in late summer last year way out of line (highest in more than a decade) with any other economic account.

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The Relevant Word Is ‘Decline’

The English language headline for China’s National Bureau of Statistics’ press release on November 2018’s Big 3 was, National Economy Maintained Stable and Sound Momentum of Development in November. For those who, as noted yesterday, are wishing China’s economy bad news so as to lead to the supposed good news of a coordinated “stimulus” response this was itself a bad news/good news situation.

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“Yellow Vests” and the Downward Mobility of the Middle Class

Capital garners the gains, and labor's share continues eroding. That's the story of the 21st century. The middle class, virtually by definition, is not prepared for downward mobility. A systemic, semi-permanent decline in the standard of living isn't part of the implicit social contract that's been internalized by the middle class virtually everywhere:living standards are only supposed to rise.

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Sometimes Bad News Is Just Right

There is some hope among those viewing bad news as good news. In China, where alarms are currently sounding the loudest, next week begins the plenary session for the State Council and its working groups. For several days, Communist authorities will weigh all the relevant factors, as they see them, and will then come up with the broad strokes for economic policy in the coming year (2019).

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US Banks Haven’t Behaved Like This Since 2009

If there is one thing Ben Bernanke got right, it was this. In 2009 during the worst of the worst monetary crisis in four generations, the Federal Reserve’s Chairman was asked in front of Congress if we all should be worried about zombies. Senator Bob Corker wasn’t talking about the literal undead, rather a scenario much like Japan where the financial system entered a period of sustained agony – leading to the same in the real economy, one lost...

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Are We in a Recession Already?

The value of declaring the entire nation in or out of recession is limited. Recessions are typically only visible to statisticians long after the fact, but they are often visible in real time on the ground: business volume drops, people stop buying houses and vehicles, restaurants that were jammed are suddenly sepulchral and so on. There are well-known canaries in the coal mine in terms of indicators.

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Monthly Macro Monitor – December 2018 (VIDEO)

Economic thoughts and analysis from Alhambra Investments CEO Joe Calhoun.

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Converging Views Only Starts With Fed ‘Pause’

There’s no sign of inflation, markets are unsettled, and now new economic data keeps confirming that dark side. Forget each month, every day there is something else suggesting a slowdown. That much had been evident across much of the global economy, but this is now different. The US has apparently been infected, too, not that that is any surprise.

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Unexpected?

Now that the slowdown is being absorbed and even talked about openly, it will require a period of heavy CYA. This part is, or at least it has been at each of the past downturns, quite easy for its practitioners. It was all so “unexpected”, you see. Nobody could have seen it coming, therefore it just showed up out of nowhere unpredictably spoiling the heretofore unbreakable, incorruptible boom everyone was talking about just last week.

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The View from the Trenches of the Alternative Media

What's scarce in a world awash in free content and nearly infinite entertainment content? After 3,701 posts (from May 2005 to the present), here are my observations of the Alternative Media from the muddy trenches. It's increasingly difficult to make a living creating content outside the corporate matrix.

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Truth Is What We Hide, Self-Serving Cover Stories Are What We Sell

The fact that lies and cover stories are now the official norm only makes us love our servitude with greater devotion. We can summarize the current era in one sentence: truth is what we hide, self-serving cover stories are what we sell. Jean-Claude Juncker's famous quote captures the essence of the era: "When it becomes serious, you have to lie."

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Bearish on Fake Fixes

The conventional definition of a Bear is someone who expects stocks to decline. For those of us who are bearish on fake fixes, that definition doesn't apply: we aren't making guesses about future market gyrations (rip-your-face-off rallies, dizziness-inducing drops, boring melt-ups, etc.), we're focused on the impossibility of reforming or fixing a broken economic system.

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America Needs a New National Strategy

A productive national Strategy would systemically decentralize power and capital rather than concentrate both in the hands of a self-serving elite. If you ask America's well-paid punditry to define America's National Strategy, you'll most likely get the UNESCO version: America's national strategy is to support a Liberal Global Order (LGO) of global cooperation on the environment, trade, etc. and the encouragement of democracy, a liberal order that...

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Monthly Macro Monitor – November 2018

Is the Fed’s monetary tightening about over? Maybe, maybe not but there does seem to be some disagreement between Jerome Powell and his Vice Chair, Richard Clarida. Powell said just a little over a month ago that the Fed Funds rate was still “a long way from neutral” and that the Fed may ultimately need to go past neutral.

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The Direction Is (Globally) Clear

It is definitely one period that they got wrong. Still, IHS Markit’s Composite PMI for the US economy has been one of the better forward-looking indicators around. Tying to real GDP, this blend of manufacturing and services sentiment has predicted the general economic trend in the United States pretty closely. The latter half of 2015 was the big exception.

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Does the Market Need a Heimlich Maneuver?

For all we know, the panic selling is Wall Street's way of forcing the Fed's hand: stop with the rates increases already or Mr. Market expires. Markets everywhere are gagging on something: they're sagging, crashing, imploding, blowing up, dropping and generally exhibiting signs of distress.

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Eurodollar Futures: Powell May Figure It Out Sooner, He Won’t Have Any Other Choice

For Janet Yellen, during her somewhat brief single term she never made the same kind of effort as Ben Bernanke had. Her immediate predecessor, Bernanke, wanted to make the Federal Reserve into what he saw as the 21st century central bank icon. Monetary policy wouldn’t operate on the basis of secrecy and ambiguity. Transparency became far more than a buzzword.

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Does Any of This Make Sense?

Does any of this make sense? No. But it's so darn profitable to the oligarchy, it's difficult to escape debt-serfdom and tax-donkey servitude. We rarely ask "does this make any sense?" of things that are widely accepted as beneficial-- or if not beneficial, "the way it is," i.e. it can't be changed by non-elite (i.e. the bottom 99.5%) efforts.

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Retail Sales Marked By Revisions

Retail sales rebounded 0.8% in October 2018 from September 2018, but it’s the downward revisions to the prior months that are cause for attention. The estimates for particularly September were moved sharply lower. Total retail sales two months ago had been figured last month at $485.8 billion (unadjusted) originally, but are now believed to have been just $483.0 billion.

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The Implicit Desperation of China’s “Social Credit” System

Other governments are keenly interested in following China's lead. I've been pondering the excellent 1964 history of the Southern Song Dynasty's capital of Hangzhou, Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion, 1250-1276 by Jacques Gernet, in light of the Chinese government's unprecedented "Social Credit Score" system, which I addressed in Kafka's Nightmare Emerges: China's "Social Credit Score".

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