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Showing posts with label Debt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Debt. Show all posts

Monday, June 24, 2013

Neil Howe: The Fourth Turning Has Arrived

by Adam Taggart

In 1996, demographers William Strauss and Neil Howe published the book The Fourth Turning. This study of generational cycles ("turnings") in America revealed predictable social trends that recur throughout history, and warned of a coming crisis (a "fourth turning") based on this research.

Fourth turnings are defined by disorder and great changes brought on by a breakdown of the systems and operating principles that dominated the prior three turnings.

Our society has entered a fourth turning (consisting of the twenty-year periods leading up to and out of it immediately.)It is a season you have to move through before you are born again -- so to speak -- as a society, and regain institutional confidence. You have to go through a crucible to get there.
I think the fourth turning started -- probably, if I were to date it now -- in 2008: the realigning election in that year of Barack Obama against John McCain. And, obviously, simultaneously with that, as we all recall, an epic, historic crash of the global economy from which we still have not recovered.
We are sort of hobbling along in kind of a low-earth orbit, with continued high unemployment and excess capacity -- not just in the United States, but around the world. And, of course, all the rules of economic policy seem broken and lie in fragments on the floor. People are wondering what the heck do we do in this new era. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Microeconomics of Inflation

by Martin Sibileau

A week later and everyone is a bit more nervous, with the speculation that US sovereign debt purchases by the Federal Reserve will wind down and with the Bank of Japan completely cornered.
In anticipation to the debate on the Fed’s bond purchase tapering, on April 28th (see here) I wrote why the Federal Reserve cannot exit Quantitative Easing: Any tightening must be preceded by a change in policy that addresses fiscal deficits. It has absolutely nothing to do with unemployment or activity levels. Furthermore, it will require international coordination. This is also not possible. The Bank of Japan is helplessly facing the collapse of the country’s sovereign debt, the European Monetary Union is anything but what its name indicates, with one of its members under capital controls, and China is improvising as its credit bubble bursts.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

America’s Bubble Economy Is Going To Become An Economic Black Hole

By Michael

What is going to happen when the greatest economic bubble in the history of the world pops?  The mainstream media never talks about that.  They are much too busy covering the latest dogfights in Washington and what Justin Bieber has been up to.  And most Americans seem to think that if the Dow keeps setting new all-time highs that everything must be okay.  Sadly, that is not the case at all.  Right now, the U.S. economy is exhibiting all of the classic symptoms of a bubble economy.  You can see this when you step back and take a longer-term view of things.  Over the past decade, we have added more than 10 trillion dollars to the national debt.  But most Americans have shown very little concern as the balance on our national credit card has soared from 6 trillion dollars to nearly 17 trillion dollars.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Preparing for Inflationary Times

by Jeff Clark

"All this money printing, massive debt, and reckless deficit spending – and we have 2% inflation? I'm beginning to believe that either the deflationists are right, or the Fed's interventions are working." – Anonymous Casey Research reader
The CPI, in our view, does not accurately measure inflation, which accounts for some of the discrepancy our reader is pointing out. However, the proper definition of inflation is "an increase in the quantity of money," which we've had in spades. We've not experienced the concomitant increase in prices, which is what we're addressing in this article.
It's logical to assume that when you create more of something, you dilute the value of what's already in existence. That's exactly what has happened to the US dollar since the 2008 financial crisis hit. Economics 101 says this should lead to higher inflation – yet official Consumer Price Index (CPI) levels remain benign.
It's this unexpected development that led a reader to pen the above quote. Is the inflation argument dead? If so, does that mean gold's big run is over? It's a timely question since the current selloff in gold is largely attributed to low inflation expectations.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Fed in 2012

by David Howden

The Federal Reserve Board recently announced the preliminary and unaudited results of its 2012 operations. For those of us cautioning against the Fed’s increasingly dramatic operations, the results come as no big surprise. For those who think the Fed is fighting to save the economy, the results deserve a closer look.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Italy Is Not Spain - It's Worse

With Rajoy quietly gloating at his political fraud being off the front-pages thanks to Italian elections, it seems the more we dig into Italian reality, the weaker the story becomes. The meme of the last few years has been that "at least we're not as bad as Greece" and rightly so, for as Bloomberg's Niraj Shah notes today, Greece's poverty rate is a stunning 31% (against Holland's 15.7%). However, while all eyes have been focused on Spain's dismal economy, the sad reality is that Italy is worse than Spain in that its poverty rate is a breath-taking 28.2% (relative to Spain's 27%) - even though the unemployment rates in the two nations are vastly different (Spain 26% and Italy 11.2%). Given this fact it is perhaps not surprising that the 'people' voted against austerity and furthermore, that Italy's CDS has pushed above Spain's for the first time in over a year.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Gold & the Developed World in the Face of Massive Change in the Next Two Decades

by Julian D. W. Phillips

In the last five years, we have seen the start of the decline of the developed world and the real impact of the economic rise of China on that world. What lies ahead? James Wolfensohn, the ex-president of the World Bank gave a short lecture in which he forecasts what the world’s cash flows would be like in 2030:

·For the last century and far more, 80% of the cash flow of the world flowed to what we know as the developed world where 20% of the people lived. Twenty percent of the cash flow went to the underdeveloped world where 80% of the world’s population lived.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Euro-Land Banks In Trouble

by Tyler Durden

A Record Amount of Bad Loans

A recent study by Ernst & Young has revealed that euro-land banks in the aggregate now hold € 918 billion ($1.23 trn.) in non-performing loans (7.6% of all loans outstanding). E&Y sees about 15.5% of all loans in Spain and 10.2% of all loans in Italy as likely to be in NPL status (this exceeds the most recent official numbers somewhat).
In light of such staggering numbers, the idea to use the ESM for direct bank recapitalization seems somewhat ambitious. This is especially so as the idea to employ the ESM to take over the costs of already bailed out banks is being pushed by a number of euro area members. No doubt Ireland and Spain would be happy to see that (in fact, Spain is already the 'exception' as the ESM is potentially on the hook for € 100 billion for its banks – but this is structured as a loan to Spain's government, not a direct bank bailout).
The problem is that if the ESM wants to retain its AAA rating, it will have to back any financing it obtains from the markets with far higher guarantees if it rescues banks rather than governments. Given that what has been pumped into ailing euro-zone banks to date already amounts to €300 billion,  its official capacity could be quickly exceeded if these existing bailout commitments were taken over by it.

bank rescue
Taxpayer-funded bank rescues in the euro area so far – the total already amounts to €300 billion, and that is not counting what might be used to bail out Cypriot banks and what may still be required in Italy and Spain (chart via Die Welt).

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fractional Reserve Banking: The Source of All Evil?

by Paul Tustain - Bullion Vault

I'm getting very suspicious of anything which regulators think is "safe" collateral...

Fractional Reserve Banking is not responsible for the bad practice of 'creating money', writes Paul Tustain, founder and CEO of BullionVault.

It is a speed limit on money creation, put in place by a Central Bank to stop banks doing too much of what comes naturally to them.

The Central Bank used to leave lending decisions to bankers, and step in to liquidate them when they screwed up. But in a world of Deposit Protection Insurance and bank bailouts, the Central Bank picks up the tab for excessive money creation. To limit the risk, they impose the 'Fractional Reserve' to try to calm the commercial banks down. But it is only necessary because we have a timid central bank which lacks the gumption to swing its axe in the direction of bad banks.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

It’s a mad mad mad mad world

By Detlev Schlichter 

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s new prime minister, has some exciting new ideas about how to make Japan’s economy grow. How about the government borrows a lot of money and spends it on building bridges and roads all over the country?
If that doesn’t sound so new, it is because it isn’t. It is what Japan has been doing for 20 years, and it is the main reason why Japan is now the most heavily indebted nation on the planet – and still not growing a lot. Its debt-to-GDP ratio stands at an eye-watering, world-record 230 percent, which already guarantees that the country’s pensioners-to-be (and Japan has a lot of those) will never be repaid with anything of true value for the government bonds they kept patiently accumulating in their pension funds, and that they optimistically keep calling ‘assets’.
But never mind. The Keynesians agree that this policy was a roaring success, and that this is why the country needs more of it, as, strangely, Japan has still not regained self-sufficient growth after 2 decades of such a policy. Hmmm. Well, in any case, surely the next set of roads and bridges are going to make all the difference. I suggest that this should be called the ‘Krugman-doctrine’, after the outstanding Keynesian thinker, Paul Krugman: even if a few trillion of new government debt and a few trillion of newly-printed paper-money have not revitalized your economy, the next trillion in government deficit-spending and the next trillion in new central-bank money will finally get the economy going. “Just keep the foot on the gas pedal until the economy grows, damn it!”

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Trends to Watch in 2013

Rather than attempt to predict the unpredictable – that is, specific events and price levels – let’s look instead for key dynamics that will play out over the next two to three years. Though the specific timelines of crises are inherently unpredictable, it is still useful to understand the eventual consequences of influential trends.
In other words: policies that appear to have been successful for the past four years may continue to appear successful for a year or two longer. But that very success comes at a steep, and as yet unpaid, price in suppressed systemic risk, cost, and consequence.

Trend #1: Central Planning intervention in stock and bond markets will continue, despite diminishing returns on Central State/Bank intervention

Friday, December 28, 2012

Why are (Smart) Investors Buying 50 Times More Physical Silver than Gold?

By: Eric Sprott

As long-time students of precious metals investing, there are certain things we understand. One is that, historically, the availability ratio of silver to gold has had a direct influence on the price of the metals. The current availability ratio of physical silver to gold for investment purposes is approximately 3:1. So, why is it that investors are allocating their dollars to silver at a much higher ratio? What is it that these “smart” investors understand? Let’s have a look at the numbers and see if it’s time for investors to do as a wise man once said and “follow the money.”
Average annual gold mine production is approximately 80 million ounces, which together with an estimated average 50 million ounces of annual recycled gold, totals around 130 million ounces available per year. In comparison, annual mined silver production has averaged around 750 million ounces, while recycled silver is estimated at 250 million ounces per year, which adds up to approximately 1 billion ounces. Using this data, there is roughly 8 times more silver available to buy than there is gold. However, not all gold and silver is available for investment purposes, due to their use in industrial applications. It is estimated that for investment purposes (jewelry, bars and coins), the annual availability of gold is roughly 120 million ounces, and of silver it is 350 million ounces. Therefore, the ratio of physical silver availability to gold availability is 350/120, or ~3:1.1

The Fed Doubles The Dosage

On December 12th, the Federal Reserve announced the most aggressive program of monetary stimulus ever undertaken in peacetime. Beginning in January, the Fed will more than double the amount of fiat money it creates each month from $40 billion to $85 billion. On an annualized basis that amounts to more than $1 trillion a year. This week we will consider 1) What they did; 2) Why they did it; and, 3) What impact it will have on asset prices over the short-term.
What They Did:
In a nutshell, the Fed announced it will more than double the amount of fiat money it creates each month and that it will use that money to buy government bonds and mortgage-backed securities until the unemployment rate drops substantially or until the inflation rate accelerates. The press release stated:
 “…the Committee will continue purchasing additional agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $40 billion per month. The Committee also will purchase longer-term Treasury securities … initially at a pace of $45 billion per month.”

Saturday, December 22, 2012

What is wrong about the euro, and what is not

Every Monday morning the readers of the UK’s Daily Telegraph are treated to a sermon on the benefits of Keynesian stimulus economics, the dangers of belt-tightening and the unnecessary cruelty of ‘austerity’ imposed on Europe by the evil Hun. To this effect, the newspaper gives a whole page in its ‘Business’ section to Roger Bootle and Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, who explain that growth comes from government deficits and from the central bank printing money, and why can’t those stupid Europeans get it? The reader is left with the impression that, if only the European states could each have their little currencies back and merrily devalue and run some proper deficits again, Greece could be the economic powerhouse it was before the Germans took over.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard (AEP) increasingly faces the risk of running out of hyperbolic war-analogies sooner than the euro collapses. For months he has been numbing his readership with references to the Second World War or the First World War, or to ‘1930s-style policies’ so that not even the most casual reader on his way to the sports pages can be left in any doubt as to how bad this whole thing in Europe is, and how bad it will get, and importantly, who is responsible. From declining car sales in France to high youth-unemployment in Spain, everything is, according to AEP, the fault of Germany, a ‘foolish’ Germany. Apparently these nations had previously well-managed and dynamic economies but have now sadly fallen under the spell of Angela Merkel’s Thatcherite belief in balancing the books and her particularly Teutonic brand of fiscal sadism.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

QE 4: Folks, This Ain't Normal

by Chris Martenson

Okay, the Fed's recent decision to boost its monetary stimulus (a.k.a. "money printing," "quantitative easing," or simply "QE") by another $45 billion a month to a combined $85 billion per month demonstrates an almost complete departure from what a normal person might consider sensible.
To borrow a phrase from Joel Salatin: Folks, this ain't normal. To this I will add ...and it will end badly.
If you had stopped me on the street a few years ago and asked me what I thought would have happened in the stock, bond, foreign currency, and commodity markets on the day the Fed announced an $85 billion per month thin-air money printing program directed at government bonds, I never would have predicted what has actually come to pass.
I would have predicted soaring stock prices on the expectation that all this money would have to end up in the stock market eventually. I would have predicted the dollar to fall because who in their right mind would want to hold the currency of a country that is borrowing 46 cents (!) out of every dollar that it is spending while its central bank monetizes 100% of that craziness?
Further, I would have expected additional strength in the government bond market, because $85 billion pretty much covers all of the expected new issuance going forward, plus many entities still need to buy U.S. bonds for a variety of fiduciary reasons. With little product for sale and lots of bids by various players, one of which – the Fed – has a magic printing press and is not just price insensitive but actually seeking to drive prices higher (and yields lower), that's a recipe for rising prices.

Paul Krugman's Dangerous Misconceptions


How to Deal with Economic History


In a recent article at the NYT entitled 'Incredible Credibility', Paul Krugman once again takes aim at those who believe it may not be a good idea to let the government's debt rise without limit. In order to understand the backdrop to this, Krugman is a Keynesian who thinks that recessions should be fought by increasing the government deficit spending and printing gobs of money. Moreover, he is a past master at presenting whatever evidence appears to support his case, while ignoring or disparaging evidence that seems to contradict his beliefs.

Among the evidence he ignores we find e.g. the 'stagflation' of the 1970's, or the inability of Japan to revive its economy in spite of having embarked on the biggest government deficit spending spree ever in a modern industrialized economy. Evidence he likes to frequently disparage is the evident success of austerity policies in the Baltic nations (evident to all but Krugman, one might say).

As readers of this blog know, we are generally of the opinion that it is in any case impossible to decide or prove points of economic theory with the help of economic history – the method Krugman seems to regularly employ. This is why we listed the evidence he ignores or disparages: the fact that there exists both plenty of evidence that contradicts his views and a much smaller body of evidence that seems to support them at an unreflected first glance, already shows that the positivist approach to economic theory must be flawed.

An economist must in fact approach things exactly the other way around, but then again it is a well-known flaw of Keynesian thinking in general that it tends to put the cart before the horse (examples for this would be the idea that one can consume oneself to economic wealth instead of saving and investing toward that goal, or that employment creates growth; it is exactly the other way around in both cases).