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13 Black swans swirling above the US economy

BlackSwan

The black swans are circling like vultures now. Dark economic events seem to be flying in out of nowhere for those who have vision to see them. Even dovish New York Fed President William Dudley, who cannot tell the difference between money and hot air, sees a lot of black in the skies now and says that he is less confident about the economy than he was when he and his Feddish partners voted to raise interest rates last December:

 

Dudley, a close ally of Fed Chair Janet Yellen and a permanent voter on U.S. monetary policy, suggested that the sharp global economic slowdown, stock-market sell-off and oil price slide since the beginning of the year may force the Fed to tighten monetary policy even more slowly…. With turbulence in global financial markets reflecting mixed economic signals, the risks appear to have increased. (NewsMax)

 

Yes, Dudley did wrong with perfect timing and voted to raise interest rates into a crashing economy. For some reason, he didn’t see the global slowdown coming, never mind that it had already begun last fall; but he sure sees it now. He could have read all about it right here for months before he took part in an ill-fated decision. Now he’s losing confidence. If he’s not confident in the recovery, and he was one of the architects, why should you be?

 

US stock market cheerleader, Jim Cramer, is counting black swans, too

 

Jim Cramer, CNBC’s hyperactive host of Mad Money, thinks the Fed is flying blind. He believes the Fed might not understand the life of the common man from within their first-class flights to Fed meetings and chauffeured limousines. Gee, yathink?

 

I almost wonder if they live in a vacuum. Who are they talking to? Don’t they at least have some buddies who are concerned about a recession? Don’t they know some people are pulling back from investing…? When you look beyond the market’s tight linkage to the price of oil, the idea that we could be headed into a recession has become a powerful theme, a whispered undercurrent in this environment that surfaces whenever oil takes a dive. (NewsMax)

 

You almost wonder? Of course, they live in a vacuum. And from their vacuums, they are creating a world of Hoovervilles. Of course, Cramer likes to roll dice in the Fed’s Wall Street casino. He knows that Fed free money was the only game in town, driving the stock market higher in past years. He loved a good rigged game of predictable market gains! The market soared every time the Fed threw money around the craps tables. It didn’t even matter what number you rolled. Almost every bet was a winner. It’s hard to make money now without Fed free money floating down like confetti over the marketplace everyday.

So, yes, recession is now a powerful theme that keeps popping its ugly black head out from unexpected places, such as out of the mouth of Jim Cramer. It whispers among the chatter of Citigroup’s flock of analysts. It keeps JP Morgan meetings all aflutter. You hear it everywhere now. Not a day goes by without people wondering if recession is lurking in the wings.

 

Here are a few of the dark whispers and black swans that are swirling above the US economy

 

  1. Gold is up 17% since the beginning of the year, while stocks are down about 5%. The flight of capital from the Wall Street casinos into gold provides a touchstone’s proof of how insecure major investors are feeling. (And that’s with a gold market that is, in my opinion, fully rigged by central banks not to get too excited. Central banks hate the laying of golden nest eggs. To keep people from filling their nests with gold, the central banks own the world’s greatest hoards of gold as ballast to dump whenever gold prices rise so that gold doesn’t compete too strongly against their proprietary product called “money.”)
  2. Citigroup says the chances of recession are high and only going up. The Citi’s gaggle said they suspect that global growth was actually about 2% annually if you correct China’s bogus numbers for its economy.
  3. JPMorgan strategists say they have scanned 115 years of US stock market history and have divined a sign that is 81% accurate in predicting recessions. That sign — two consecutive quarters of declines in corporate earnings — is fully in play now. The news gets worse: In ALL of the remaining 19% of the times, recession was only avoided by Federal Reserve stimulus or fiscal stimulus from the government, but the Fed just ended its stimulus, after exhausting its accelerant from years of pedal-to-the-metal acceleration; and the government has not been able to agree on a plan of fiscal stimulus for years! So, there goes our only hope of being one of the 19% of the times when the dark omen of double declines doesn’t deal us a bad hand!
  4. Another bad sign is when a survey of market analysts shows that the best investment strategy in recent months would have been to do the exact opposite of whatever your analyst told you to do. The stocks most beloved by analysts have fallen 11% in 2016, while the companies they ranked the worst are only down by 3.4% Come to think of it, that still means everything is down; but you’d still do best to put no stock in anything your analyst says.
  5. The G-20 failed to formalize any kind of global stimulus agreement, which investors were hoping for. (I wasn’t hoping for G-wizz salvation, but they were. I think all their stimulus accomplished was to defer the pain we are now about to face, making it so much worse for the upcoming months.) Several people warned that, if the G-20 meeting was an economic dud, the stock markets would tumble. I wasn’t one of them, and didn’t bother to repeat these warnings last week. The G-20 came up with nothing, and the markets went up. Still, we know there is no salvation about to emerge from that quarter either.
  6. Freddie Mac and Bank of America have returned to the hog trough in which they partner to offer 3% down mortgages. That has a nasty ring to it because it was about the final step in slackening loan terms before the mortgage crisis of 2008. Stupidly low down payments were the only way the government and friends were able to keep ratcheting up housing inflation by endlessly loosening credit terms so people could qualify for ever bigger loans. (We never learn because we are greedy like that.) The good news is that Bank of America skates away freely if any of these new loans default. (It’s good for them.) For the rest of us, it means that the company determining whether loans should be issued has nothing at risk and walks away free. I’m sure they will screen those loans well as they did last time. Once again, BofA is protected by the quasi-government entities. (Did I just say something about how stupid we are to never learn?) Meanwhile, banks are still sitting on defaulted mortgages from the first dip of the Great Recession.
  7. My recent warnings are already coming true! Subprime auto delinquencies are on the rise already. Repo rates are at historic highs! So, yes, the news last week and this was good again for auto manufacturers and dealers, who had a blockbuster month; but the bad news is they seem to be attaining that success the same way the housing industry did prior to 2008 and the same way it is doing now — by relaxing credit terms to the level where they assure higher levels of default. (And, again, we learned nothing because it is the same road car makers travelled into the last recession that became such a dead end of derelict Dodges and Daimlers.)
  8. Estimates are that as much as 40% of student loans are in technical default. That means the government has agreed to allow interest payments to float if the debtor passes a new income-based test Obama initiated. The government underwrites those loans with pass-through payments to the creditor while the student defers all payment or stops paying interest. I’m not against helping students avoid flocking into jail; but this is, nevertheless, 40% of a $1.3 trillion of debt obligation that taxpayers underwrite. I’ve been pointing this one out as a problem on the horizon for a few years. It’s now coming home to roost.
  9. Several states report their employee pension funds are underfunded by about 50%, and those figures are assuming rates of return on fund investments of 7-8%, which looks highly unlikely at present, meaning the problem is actually worse. “Underfunded” is a politically correct term for saying, “We made sure never to invest money into the fund so that we could buy the programs we wanted with our employees’ retirement so that our taxpayers would keep voting us into office. We enticed workers to give their life’s energy now in exchange for substantial retirement plans tomorrow. Now the miserable people feel entitled to what we promised them when we exacted cheap labor from them with the lure of deferred benefits.”
  10. China is sinking further. Factory output fell further in February. That means purchases of resources from other countries are also likely to keep falling, including oil. The drop month to month has been continuous for fifteen months. The service industry in China has also fallen to its lowest point … since 2009. The fall of service industries tends to follow the fall in manufacturing industries, so more decline in the service sector is expected. That’s with stimulus already happening, making it appear that stimulus may have little effect. With bank stimulus having no effect, that leaves China with the option of expanding its national debt to make government the buyer of last resort. They can build more empty skyscrapers — a certain road to nowhere.
  11. US productivity fell in the last quarter of 2015 at the fastest pace in two years. Perhaps that is the result of hiring cheaper, temporary labor with fewer benefits. You get what you pay for. Nevertheless, when productivity drops, you know wages are not likely to rise (not that they have ever risen much when productivity was improving).
  12. Golden Ocean Group, a massive global shipping company, says the overseas shipping industry has never seen things this bad. They expect that the dry-bulk shipping industry will soon be seeing a lot of bankruptcies just like the oil industry due to an oversupply of new vessels and a reduced demand for shipping of resources. According to Norwegian owner John Fredriksen, shipping hasn’t been this bad any time after the Vikings. One can now rent a 1,000-foot ship for a less than $1,000 a day. That’s the lowest price ever. A glut of supply at a time of falling demand is the recipe for widespread bankruptcy.
  13. The number of troubled companies is nearing its 2009 Peak. “A Moody’s Investors Service tally of the least-creditworthy companies rose by 10 to 274 this month, pushing it nearer to April 2009’s record 291. The list comprises companies rated at least six notches into junk territory with a negative outlook–which suggests a further downgrade could come soon.” (WSJ)

 

That is not intended as an exhaustive list or even as a list of the worst things flying around us. That is just a short list of headline items from the past week’s news. So, call it the most current flurry of dark rumors and black swan events. Not all of these are true “black swans” because, if people were paying attention they could see them coming (for example, if they were reading this blog ; ) A “black swan” event is meant to mean a deadly event that comes in out of nowhere; but many refuse to see these things coming. For those people, who are wearing the blinders of economic denial, many things fly in out of nowhere that were anticipated by the minority that has been paying attention.

If you think either the global economy or the stock markets of this world are riding a rally back to success with all of that bad economic news in just one week, you’ve been hitting the happy juice again.

 

I’m not always right, but when I’m wrong, I’m still right

 

I sometimes miss my mark when I make predictions, but when I do, I admit it. Last fall, I missed it very pointedly on one thing. I predicted two major black swan events would contribute to a crashing stock market. One of those events would be that Republicans would let the US default on its debt by November third. Obviously, that dark swan never landed and is a bird that never bit.

Fortunately, I didn’t bet my blog on that one as I did with the other date I predicted for an event that did become a major contributor to an immediate stock market crash. Boehner wrangled his rascally gang into a going-away present for himself, and then they anointed Paul Ryan as the Great White Swan.

But I made a bigger point in that “Black Swan” article (linked at the start of this one)  over falling commodity prices. And that cause of a market crash proved true. So, the US stock market crashed, even though one of the anticipated causes didn’t happen. That’s the more important sense in which I say, somewhat tongue in cheek, “Even when I’m wrong I’m right.” It was the fall of the stock market that I bet my blog on, not which anticipated event would come through as the cause.

The one cause that I talked about that did come through remains the biggest, blackest swan of all. It’s the swan that floated in, drenched in cheap crude oil in January. That raging swan, black due to the deluge of oil, stomped the market every step of its way down, and it is still mucking about on the beach, stirring up trouble.

[Added note: Market lunacy (sheer euphoria) over the oily swan is growing worse each week. I can’t write fast enough to keep up with it. Take this article that I’m revising into this post after having published the post:

 

From the “successful” talks between Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi and his Venezuelan counterpart early last month, to the Feb. 16 Saudi-Russia output freeze announcement, to Iran’s rejection of the plan as “ridiculous,” the CBOE Crude Oil Volatility Index averaged the highest level since 2009. Since the pact was announced, the measure of expectations of price swings has tumbled to the lowest in almost two months while oil has gained about 18 percent to trade near $35. Since the Saudis and Russia reached an agreement to freeze output, volatility in the market has eased and oil prices have stabilized with the focus shifting back to fundamentals. (NewsMax)

 

In other words, because 1) the Russians stated they absolutely will not decrease oil production and because 2) the Saudis stated they absolutely will not decrease oil production, but will both maintain oil oversupply at the current level, and because 3) Iran said the whole concept of freezing production was stupid, so they have committed to increasing their rate of oversupply, the market stabilized. Now that everyone has been told for certain that the glut in oil will grow for months to come (because no one is cutting production while Iran is increasing theirs), the price of oil is going up, and stocks are going up. That’s just so absolutely stupid it turns my neck into a pretzel. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more ludicrous example of markets hearing only what they want to hear, even if they have to turn it inside out to stuff it into their ears.]

The point with the list above is is that no particular event has to happen to take the market down the next leg of its collapse. There are so many black-swan events and dark rumors waiting in the wings to take over that it is virtually certain some of these will grow to a size that becomes devastating, even after the crude swan is finished trashing everything around it. There is practically a parade of black swans lined up for action. Look at how many poked their heads up in just the past week — all just waiting their turn to have a go at the market.

Will it be bankruptcies in shipping, oil drilling, auto loans and student loans that pile up into a big enough heap to implode a couple of major banks; or will it be the Chinese flush turning into a whirlpool that sucks all industry down; or will the US economy manage to hold on until the next housing collapse when the next wave of adjustable-rate mortgage failures hits people who only put 3% down so that banks lose a bundle in foreclosures during a market of falling prices? Or will it simply be that recession is already here as a sinking tide that lowers all boats? Or will the next big drop arrive in next week’s list where a true black swan emerges that NO ONE saw coming, not even me?

My point has always been that with so much bad economic news building up in the world and such monstrous overhangs of national, corporate and personal debt — mostly worse than the last time around — the odds are strongly stacked on the side of major trouble. If you’re wise you’ll prepare for that in reasonable and prudent ways.

 

How to get ready for any black swans that come:

 

  • ManAboutDallas

    Mr. Haggith? You desperately need a literate editor; or, at the very least, a proofreader with more command of the English language than you.

  • Just came across this nifty little article in the Financial Times of London:

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/europes-banks-find-a-dumping-ground-for-their-losses-1457260207

    This is a primer for banks’ version of “the dog ate my homework.” The comments at the bottom of the article are spot on.

    But don’t worry, the banks are well-funded and in great shape!

  • QEternity

    BTW, maybe not a swan today, but what do we do with a generation of kids that can’t work?

    http://fee.org/articles/the-minimum-wage-and-the-end-of-teen-work/

  • QEternity

    Welp, at least I pulled some profits from the market the last two months. I expect the squeeze to end soon, and down we go again!

  • Michael Massey

    The problem with the economy is people elected in government believe they know what’s best for the economy. The problem is They Don’t. The thing they never learn is keep your hands off the economy and eventually it will right itself. You can’t compound debt and more debt and truely think the economy will right itself. Politicians are inept. They have never owned and run a business, such as a huge economy.

    • The thing that gets me is the number of seemingly smart people who still argue (even with the mountain of debt we’ve now piled up) that, if you print your own money, there is NO LIMIT to how much debt you can pile up because you can print the money you need to service the debt.

      Really? Then why don’t we just print enough right now to pay off the entire debt in one day? Just sayin’.

  • Alleged Comment

    They are raising taxes INSANE amounts to cover pension losses. We should not pay for OVER PAID employees.

    People are getting paid ridiculous amounts for what they do.

    • People EARNED their pensions. That money is OWED TO THEM. As far as I’m concerned it is not even an option on the table. If you promised someone something in order to extract labor from them, then you darn well better pay them all you promised, and if that turns out to be a much harder burden than you though it was, too bad!

      Most government employees are not overpaid. Sure, those paid at the top are paid well, but the average police officer, fireman, park worker, these people are not overpaid. They do all right, but it’s nothing excessive. Unless you’re the Chief of Police or Fire Marshall, or one step below those positions, the rest are far from overpaid.

      When taxpayers strip pensions away from those people because they don’t want to pay higher taxes, that’s called stealing. You got the labor out of those people who worked to keep your life safe, but now you don’t want to pay them what was extracted from them on a promise. The reason they are ENTITLED to those things is because they worked for them, they gave a portion of their life for them AND they would never have given up that time if it were not for those promises made to them, WHICH THEY TRUSTED YOU TO MAKE GOO ON.

      • AT

        Forming a public employee union and colluding with the politicians who promise the most benefits against the public interest is stealing. These people will not be paid and don’t deserved to be paid the full value of their pensions.

        • So, public employees, being the useless trash that you know them to be, are thieves, if they unionize. Being less than human, they are not entitled to form unions as humans do. Mostly, they are not entitled to form unions because you’re their employer (in the sense that you help fund their wages). Therefore, they should have no right to unionize like people do because that is not in your personal best interest. (Most likely you don’t like unions at all anyway.)

          In turn, you (as the one who probably considers yourself their employer), elect the CEO and all of executive leaders of this corporation that we call America, but feel that you have absolutely no obligation to honor the deals that your elected leaders promised to this less-than-human chaff that fills the public halls. Therefore, it is not stealing if you deprive them of the benefits that your elected CEO and the other execs on the board promised.

          If you were part of a union for a manufacturer, and reached an agreement with the leaders of the manufacturing company, you’d call that a “union agreement.” But, as we are talking about a union that is working for a government reaching an agreement with the leaders of the government (whom you helped elect), that’s “collusion.”

          I think they should take the money promised to public servants and pay them retirement out of all available Social Security funds. Your attitude is as bad as the attitude that was adopted toward Indians. It does’t matter what our former elected leaders promised in treaties. These people do not deserve this, so we should not honor our agreement!

          And that, folks, is America’s biggest problem — self-interest and a lack of honor. In this case, complete unwillingness to honor contractual agreements made with millions of people who don’t make a dime more than you do. (Forget the headline winners with their big government salaries. They’re not a part of those unions anyhow. We’re talking the police officers, fire fighters, janitors, maintenance workers, all not getting the retirement promised to them … if this kind of thinking prevails.)

          –David

          • AT

            That’s a pretty good summary of my opinion. Unions are simply vehicles for legal extortion of either private companies or other members of the public. The self-interest and dishonor is by politicians who promise to take from one group of citizens and give to another in return for votes and at the same time refuse to levy the funds necessary to make the promised future payouts. Across all levels of government and much of the private sector these payouts cannot and will not all be made. It doesn’t matter what you think they are owed.

  • TVA pensions to be cut: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/04/business/pension-benefit-cuts-planned-at-tva-breaking-a-federal-firewall.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

    Slight unrelated, but interesting for what it says about, say, the untouchable public-school teachers union and its pensions in various states.

    One such teacher, retired and a friend of mine, has been urging my daughter to get her teaching degree so she will have the “safety net” of a teacher’s benefits (pension and lifetime healthcare) when she retires in 30 years. “The pension and benefits are sacrosanct; they’re not going anywhere,” he said with complete belief. I told him, “Look around you! That kind of payout is not sustainable.”

    I don’t think any “guaranteed” pension is — except for corporate CEOs.

    • It’s so immoral that I cannot believe any court in the land allows it, but they seem to be getting away with it. How can you PROMISE someone a pension that is a set percentage of their final wages or that has an agreed inflator, etc., use that to lure them into giving your their life’s energy for years and years; then, when they near retirement, just reduce what you offered them … AFTER THEY ALREADY EARNED IT.

      It was part of their wage! If you cannot afford it, you lied! That’s YOUR problem … or should be. If you’re a governmental body, and you got people to work for government wages (usually less than private sector wages) because of your great government benefits, and you didn’t do what you needed to do in collecting taxes all those years to put aside enough money to make those pension pay outs, TOUGH. You should have to raise taxes now on all your taxpayers to pay those OTHER TAX PAYERS who worked for you what you promised. If you don’t so that you don’t have to endure the wrath of those your taxing, your simply robbing those who worked for you. That means the taxpayers are robbing them by not making good on their government’s own promises.

      It’s just so blatantly unfair. Right as they reach retirement age, pull a bait and switch, and say, “Sorry.” No, I think the “sorry” needs to go the other way: “Sorry. You PROMISED IT, and it is the ONLY reason I worked for you, so pay up.. Gotta sell some parkland. Well, too bad. You promised it. I earned it. You owe it. Pay up.”

      • The U.S. is not alone in pension under-funding. Europe faces catastrophe:

        http://www.wsj.com/articles/europe-faces-pension-predicament-1457287588

      • Brenda Smith

        You are missing so many points Dave. Don’t get me wrong. I agree with you in theory, but and it is a big butt, I retired last year from public service and find I am taking home more income than when I worked full time. This is not sustainable by any stretch of the imagination. I hope the people vote into office their favorite crook or crook du jure or pervert or what ever and the gravy train keeps rolling right along. But as you can plainly see in your own missives the approaching black clouds… they can only be blown away for so long.
        It would be real cute for government to sell the parks to pay off a bankrupt pension plan. I am all for that too… along with selling off everything owned by the government. Just who has the money to buy that stuff? Just is who is the government? Just what and where is the government’s property? If you do not dare to entertain ideas of inter dimensional realities and forces at work then you are as insane as the rest of us. The hidden spiritual hierarchy runs the show and no one will interfere with their mission. Or God’s mission here. Opps, I did it again.

      • AT

        My wife’s grandfather worked in the NY public school system for 30 years making a comfortable living and retired at 55. He then lived a comfortable retired life of leisure for 40 more years, getting paid far, far more than he earned while working. That’s just wrong.

        • Same can be said of people in the military who only had to work twenty years to get their pensions. But that was what was promised to them, and that PROMISE of great early retirement benefits was a major factor in their choice to go full career in the military. Take it away from them now (or support a government that says it will), and you make yourself a liar by becoming party to fraudulent promises.

          Your time to complain about it and do something about it was 70 years ago, when the promise was first made to dear old grandad. Apparently not enough people spoke out against it for the entire thirty years that he worked, and the promise remained in place. If you vote for a government that will take what was promised away from him after he retired, then you are placing your own self-interest in keeping taxes down ahead of truth and honest in government. You vote to strip others of what they gave their labor to get (be they teachers or soldiers) because you don’t want to pay what was promised now that it pinches you.

          Never mind, that people had THIRTY years to vote that government out of office while grandad was working, and probably a lot longer prior to the beginning of his teaching career, as I doubt he was the first teacher hired under those pension agreements.

          And THAT is robbery of the elderly to save yourself.

  • Donald Sergent

    Good morning, Dave. Looks like the PPT is going to try to jam the futures over 17000 before the NFP data is even released. Frontrunning—God Bless Amerika!

    • Good morning, Donald.

      The front running (as if the projections are the facts) and the outright cooking of the books has become disgusting in the extreme. Who knows how the Plunge Protection Team managed their seasonal adjustments. They have moved so far into fantasy figures in the last few years, that its hard to believe numbers when even the actual “data” is released. I pointed out in an article not too long ago that, in the winter of Dec. 2014, the BLS — otherwise known as the Bureau of Lying Statistics — adjusted labor numbers way up because the winter was unseasonably COLD that year and that likely put a damper on hiring in the construction industry. Therefore, they reasoned the ACTUAL new jobs number was way lower than the economy would have “really” created. So, they adjusted the actual number that was something like 9,000 new hires up by more than ten times that amount. This yea, in Dec. 2015, they argued that the same region was unseasonably WARM and that likely put a damper on people going out and getting new jobs because they were taking days off in the sun and because no one was shopping because they didn’t need warm clothes, so retail hiring was likely down (never mind that the job numbers were for December, and most holiday retail hiring happens mid-November). So completely opposite weather patterns caused the same jobs adjustment for differing reasons. In other words, spin it how you want, just spin it.

      Thus, my initial thought today, even after the real numbers are released (versus the projected guesses) is to say, “How much of those gains were actual gains, and how much were the season adjustment?” With the December data, the real gains for the entire month were something like 11,000 new jobs. The adjustment was more than ten times the actual jobs added just like the pervious year.

      Same thing happens with GDP. It comes out looking like it went up; then you dig into the numbers and find that the only thing that caused it to go up was that health care soared as a result of Obamacare. Just what we need is healthcare making more money because they’ve either vastly increased what they charge or because we have a rapidly growing epidemic of sick people. So, what the stock market treated as good news was the fact that either 1) health care costs are soaring astronomically or 2) a new plague has begun and we don’t know about it.

      Our official data reports are starting to look more overcooked than China’s.

      –David

      • Ha! Too right, Dave:
        “they’ve either vastly increased what they charge or because we have a rapidly growing epidemic of sick people”

        Both, Dave. We have a rapidly growing epidemic of sick people BECAUSE the healthcare industry has vastly increased what they charge.

        I know it makes me sick. And mad. Mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!

        • And there is nothing like a health-care system that “makes you sick.”

          • Brenda Smith

            The sick/dead-care-system makes you dead too. The green card Doctors killed my wife a few months ago.

      • Donald Sergent

        hit this a while back–they know—but they don’t dare tell us, because confidence is all
        http://www.tullettprebon.com/Documents/strategyinsights/TPSI_009_Perfect_Storm_009.pdf

        • Just their opening line is worth going to the link:

          “The economy as we know it is facing a lethal confluence of four critical factors – the fall-out from the biggest debt bubble in history; a disastrous experiment with globalisation; the massaging of data to the point where economic trends are obscured; and, most important of all, the approach of an energy-returns cliff-edge.”

          That sums it up well.

          –David

          • Donald Sergent

            One of the problems with economics

            is that its practitioners preach a

            concentration on money, whereas

            money is the language rather than

            the substance of the real economy.

            Ultimately, the economy is – and

            always has been – a surplus energy

            equation, governed by the laws of

            thermodynamics, not those of

            the market.

        • Wow, they wrote this in January 2013!

          • Donald Sergent

            I think when TARP/QE1 ended and ZIRP remained in place as policy at the FED, and the V shaped Main Street recovery didn’t magically appear, a lot of people began to revisit the themes of “The Limits To Growth.” It is, unfortunately, a recurring theme, that certain groups or individuals will look behind the curtain to try to discern the underlying reality, identify vulnerabilities and formulate a response. Equally unfortunately, Capitalism in the age of debt based currencies is like a shark—it must grow (move forward), or die. We are averse to narratives that say we cant have it all, so we create ones that do.

            • Donald Sergent

              From 1957– he’s a little pedantic in his sociology references, but that energy is the master resource has been known for a long time

              http://energybulletin.net/23151.html
              resources-the root of all conflict
              .

      • JulietteofOhio

        Great summation!

    • I’m jumping in here, just to add that while the Dow soars on the February jobs report, my email inbox is inundated with “job” offers — all service sector, all low paying, and mostly part-time with no benefits.

      So, if this is what the stellar jobs report is based on, it means that the vast majority of Americans are still surviving hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck, working 2-3 jobs just to put food on the table.

      But, hey, somebody’s getting rich riding that stock market rocket — before it fizzles, crashes and burns.

      • And that is what we have seen throughout the vaunted “recovery.” CONSTANTLY AND CONSISTENTLY (can I emphasize it more), we have seen, if you dig into the numbers, that good-paying jobs with great benefits are shriveling away and being replaced by temporary and part-time jobs with miserable pay and no benefits … and that is RECOVERY.

        We have also seen constantly that the number of people who were once employed and who are now no longer participating in the job force is GROWING and is HUGE. While the number of immigrants who are newly entering the country and getting jobs almost exactly matches the number of citizens displaced from the work force who are staying out because they won’t work for the new lower wages with no benefits.

        Do the math, folks, and figure out what is happening. American workers are being outsourced by bringing cheaper labor to compete. We’ve been “insourcing the outsourcing,” as I like to call it, throughout the “recovery.” And there are relatively poor American laborers who will tell you that competition is a good thing, so you just need to suck that up and lower your standard of living and compete. But your competing against people who are used to living with banana leaves as roofing material.

        • JulietteofOhio

          Good response. I love John Kasich’s bragging about how great things are in Ohio. They could be worse, probably, but the “new” Obama economy is feudal in most respects. I started off my working life with a college degree, low wages and no benefits, but didn’t think I’d end up this way. Fortunately, my husband has one of the few old-fashioned, decent, jobs left in NW Ohio. The company for which I worked went belly-up in 2008, taking any private retirement with it, plus any chance to build up social security pay-out, for however long SS lasts. My husband’s employer, sensing which way the wind blows, halted their pension programs, so we’re saving as much as possible each month to make it through retirement, if there’s any such thing. Note that we’re not “investing”. I don’t trust anything anymore.

          • Hi, Juliette. Welcome to the blog.

            Yes, it’s a feudal system, and the new serfs are immigrants. That’s why Republican and Democrat rulers both want as many of them as possible. They are not a landed class, as most are renters. They are not a voting class, so they have no control in the country in which they live (because many of them are illegal). They work cheap and live poor. Thus, they are truly the modern version of peasants. The illegal ones are most desired by the upper class because, being illegal, they have to work extra cheap and take miserable circumstances without complaining, or they might get banished.

            –David

  • History, man. It’s funny how it just keeps repeating itself.

    Last time (2008), it was credit default swaps lurking as baloney in the mortgage slice-and-dice machine.

    Now it’s an oil glut with a knife held to our global throat by those sweet businessmen in OPEC and the Middle East who can’t wait to eviscerate the West — and by China, who can’t wait either, only their weapon of choice is an opaque government and business model of voodoo economics, run by an elite core of Commies who probably have gold toilets and Buddhas spewing Dom Perignon from its nipples (or wherever) and dancing girls galore. (Let’s hope they’re at least not underage. Good luck with that fantasy!)

    Anyhoo, the euphoria just keeps on a-comin’. I mean, the market meisters are beside themselves with the Dow up a couple of percentage points in the past 3 days. March Madness, folks! Even Jim Cramer — Jim Cramer, for God’s sake — has begun to see the light.

    Hand me a Tsingtao, barkeep, and a turban. I need to bone up on my Mandarin and Arabic.

    • I couldn’t have put it more colorfully, myself. : )

      As for Cramer, who woulda thunk he’d be preachin’ the new gospel?

      –David

      • He’s not as dumb as his circus antics, that’s for sure!