Category Archive: 5.) The United States

Janus Powell

Again, who’s following who? As US Treasury yields drop and eurodollar futures prices rise, signaling expectations for lower money rates in the near future, Federal Reserve officials are catching up to them. It was these markets which first took further rate hikes off the table before there ever was a Fed “pause.”

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Monthly Macro Monitor – June 2019 (VIDEO)

Alhambra Investments CEO reviews economic charts from the past month and his opinion of what they mean.

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Is the Tech Bubble Bursting?

There are two other trends that don't attract quite the media attention that soaring profits do. Is the decade-long tech bubble finally popping? Tech bulls are overlooking the fundamental reality that the drivers of Big tech's phenomenal growth--financialization and expansion into mobile telephony-- are both losing momentum.

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A Quiet Revolution Is Brewing

Politics as practiced in a bygone era of stability no longer offers any solutions to these profound disruptions. I recently read a fascinating history of the social, political and economic context of the American Revolution: The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon Wood.

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Monthly Macro Monitor: Economic Reports

Is recession coming? Well, yeah, of course, it is but whether it is now, six months from now or 2 years from now or even longer is impossible to say right now. Our Jeff Snider has been dutifully documenting all the negativity reflected in the bond and money markets and he is certainly right that things are not moving in the right direction.

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More What’s Behind Yield Curve: Now Two Straight Negative Quarters For Corporate Profit

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) piled on more bad news to the otherwise pleasing GDP headline for the first quarter. In its first revision to the preliminary estimate, the government agency said output advanced just a little less than first thought. This wasn’t actually the substance of their message.

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Why Being a Politician Is No Longer Fun

As a society, we are ill-prepared for the end of "politics is the solution." It's fun to be a politician when there's plenty of tax revenues and borrowed money to distribute, and when the goodies get bipartisan support. An economy that's expanding all household incomes more or less equally is fun, fun, fun for politicians because more household income generates more income tax revenues and more spending that generates other taxes.

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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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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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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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