In real terms, the price of crude oil has not been more expensive since the Pennsylvania Boom over 150 years ago…
via Zero Hedge http://ift.tt/1jsMYYC Tyler Durden
In real terms, the price of crude oil has not been more expensive since the Pennsylvania Boom over 150 years ago…
via Zero Hedge http://ift.tt/1jsMYYC Tyler Durden
Submitted by Luke Eastwood of LukeEastwood.com,
To much trumpeting the IMF have kindly agreed to help out desperate and war torn Ukraine. How wonderful they are we are all meant to think, but the truth couldn’t be more opposite.
The International Monetary Fund was set up in 1945, describing itself as an “organization of 188 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.”
This all sounds very laudable, but in reality the IMF has a very different purpose from that which is stated. If you look at the history of the IMF’s intervention in countries around the world you will see a trail of disaster and looting that repeats time and time again wherever they go.
The many countries that are involved are supposed to have some influence but this is proportional to their financial clout, which in truth means that the USA has most of the control of what happens and many countries have effectively no say at all.
My opinion of the IMF, concurs with that of John Perkins, author of ‘Confessions Of An Economic Hitman’, his views being that of an insider in the system and mine merely as an observer. He succinctly points out that major western nations use financial warfare to get what they want and gain influence over other countries – the IMF being one of the tools with which they do this.
Caribbean countries such as Jamaica have been destroyed by trade agreements and much the same thing has happened throughout Africa, South America and Asia at various times since world war II. What the IMF does is somewhat similar to a thug loan shark. The loan shark lends money to people who can’t afford to borrow so that the borrower ends up having to not eat to make the payments or face having broken legs.
In a more subtle way, the IMF behaves in a similar way. Countries are given a ‘helping hand’ as loans that they will have great difficulty paying back. In return for the loans the IMF wants interest and regular repayments and ‘restructuring’ of the country’s assets. What this actually means is the asset stripping of sovereign nations so that their economic wealth is transferred from the country’s/public’s ownership into private hands.
This has happened in Europe recently, with countries such as Greece, Portugal, Ireland and even Spain and Italy faced with the prospect of having to sell off national assets in order to finance repayment of loans to either the IMF or EU. Private consortiums, owned by the banks or oligarchs buy up a nation’s forests, coal industry, water supply etc so that instead of the country receiving income from its recourses the private company makes all the money off the backs of the increasingly impoverished population.
At the moment the Ukrainian people might welcome the IMF but you can be sure that in a short time the country will be financially raped and the population plunged into even worse poverty as a result of IMF ‘assistance’. Here in Ireland we are realizing the foolishness of the IMF/EU bailouts that is making life increasingly difficult for ordinary citizens while the government ponders selling off our resources.
Any country with sense (like Iceland) would show the IMF the door and find a better way of clawing its way out of economic problems. Iceland is a perfect example of how a country could solve its own problems – but no-one in the media talks about this – the corpocracy does not want anyone else getting the same idea. Surely, if every nation took the same actions the corporate take over of sovereign nations would fall flat on its face wouldn’t it?
via Zero Hedge http://ift.tt/1nq5ZpL Tyler Durden
Tonight’s episode of The
Independents (Fox Business Network, 9 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. PT,
with re-airs three hours later) begins with a topic that’s gotten
some play here today at Hit & Run: The latest
Republican attack on the alleged “isolationism” of Sen. Rand Paul
(R-Kentucky). Joining to discuss will be Party Panelists Michael Malice (insane
contributor) and Guy
Benson (Townhall political editor). Those two are
also slated to debate Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s
return to active duty, the mom who was jailed for
letting her 9-year-old play unsupervised in the park, and the
man who declared a wretched part of North Africa his own kingdom so
appoint his daughter a princess.
Breitbart.com Senior Editor at Large Ben Shapiro will
come on to talk about his “8
Reasons to Close the Border Now” piece; New York City
Councilman Andy King will defend his proposal to
require background checks on those creepy Times Square cartoon
characters, Kmele Foster
will (of course!) defend the Bolivian government’s new law
legalizing employment for 10-year-olds, and the co-hosts will
chew on that great Reason-Rupe
Millennials poll that we haven’t talked about enough here on
AS IF THAT WASN’T ENOUGH, the online-only aftershow begins on
just after 10. Follow The Independents on Facebook at
follow on Twitter @ independentsFBN, tweet
during the show & we’ll use the best. Click on this page
for more video of past segments.
from Hit & Run http://ift.tt/1nAivro
When we first brought the transformation of the American economy into a part-time worker society in 2010, many scoffed and suggested that when the ‘recovery’ really gets going the temp jobs will all be morphed into high-paying full-time jobs. That hasn’t happened, and in fact, as we noted most recently, it’s got worse.
As Mort Zuckerman blasts in his rampagingly honest WSJ Op-Ed, “Most people will have the impression that the 288,000 jobs created last month were full-time. Not so.” And more directly, “most Americans wouldn’t call this an economic recovery.” The lack of breadwinners working full time is a burgeoning disaster that we have covered extensively. There are 48 million people in the U.S. in low-wage jobs, resulting, as Zuckerman concludes, “Faith in the American dream is eroding fast.”
As Mort Zuckerman rages – echoing our analysis…
There has been a distinctive odor of hype lately about the national jobs report for June. Most people will have the impression that the 288,000 jobs created last month were full-time. Not so.
The Obama administration and much of the media trumpeting the figure overlooked that the government numbers didn’t distinguish between new part-time and full-time jobs.
On July 2 President Obama boasted that the jobs report “showed the sixth straight month of job growth” in the private economy. “Make no mistake,” he said. “We are headed in the right direction.” What he failed to mention is that only 47.7% of adults in the U.S. are working full time.
There are numerous reasons for this but the most recent and most-telling is Obamacare…
But there is one clear political contribution to the dismal jobs trend. Many employers cut workers’ hours to avoid the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to provide health insurance to anyone working 30 hours a week or more.
The unintended consequence of President Obama’s “signature legislation”? Fewer full-time workers. In many cases two people are working the same number of hours that one had previously worked.
As Zuckerman concludes…Most Americans wouldn’t call this an economic recovery.
Yes, we’re not technically in a recession as the recovery began in mid-2009, but high-wage industries have lost a million positions since 2007. Low-paying jobs are gaining and now account for 44% of all employment growth since employment hit bottom in February 2010, with by far the most growth—3.8 million jobs—in low-wage industries. The number of long-term unemployed remains at historically high levels, standing at more than three million in June. The proportion of Americans in the labor force is at a 36-year low, 62.8%, down from 66% in 2008.
Part-time jobs are no longer the domain of the young. Many are taken by adults in their prime working years—25 to 54 years of age—and many are single men and women without high-school diplomas.
Why is this happening? It can’t all be attributed to the unforeseen consequences of the Affordable Care Act. The longer workers have been out of a job, the more likely they are to take a part-time job to make ends meet.
The result: Faith in the American dream is eroding fast.
The feeling is that the rules aren’t fair and the system has been rigged in favor of business and against the average person. The share of financial compensation and outputs going to labor has dropped to less than 60% today from about 65% before 1980.
The great American job machine is spluttering. We are going through the weakest post-recession recovery the U.S. has ever experienced, with growth half of what it was after four previous recessions. And that’s despite the most expansive monetary policy in history and the largest fiscal stimulus since World War II.
That is why the June numbers are so distressing. Five years after the Great Recession, more than 24 million working-age Americans remain jobless, working part-time involuntarily or having left the workforce.
We are not in the middle of a recovery. We are in the middle of a muddle-through, and there’s no point in pretending that the sky is blue when so many millions can attest to dark clouds.
* * *
Nothing to add but “bravo”
via Zero Hedge http://ift.tt/1mPK1AG Tyler Durden
Submitted by John Cochran via Mises Economic blog,
Paul Krugman is at it again – distorting or misinterpreting work by other economists to attack critics of today’s central bank driven low interest rate environment and to defend policy status quo or to push for even more stimulus. This time the economist is Knut Wicksell whose work in both monetary theory and capital theory was part of foundation for Mises’s development of Austrian business cycle theory (ABCT). Krugman’s rant is in response to Neil Irwin’s commentary on booms and bubbles in asset prices driven by central bank policy and his target is Austrian influenced economists and Wall Street analysts and pundits with a pointed jab at recent work from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). From Krugman:
The proximate cause is obvious: policy interest rates are very low, and expected to remain low, so money is pouring into alternative assets, driving their yields down too. The question is what you think about this situation.
Quite a few people — including a lot of people on Wall Street, at the BIS, and so on — look at this and say that it’s terrible: the Fed is keeping interest rates “artificially low” and thereby distorting asset prices across the board, and it will all end in grief.
But for Krugman there is no reason to panic, rates are not too low and there are no asset price bubbles:
Mainly, though, there simply isn’t any macroeconomic case for claiming that interest rates are wildly depressed relative to fundamentals, and not much reason to believe that assets in general are overvalued.
Robert Murphy at Mises Canada exposes the fallacy of Krugman’s argument:
Krugman is supposed to be a technical wizard who throws up an impressive array of mathematical models to justify his policy conclusions. Well, in this case he tries to get his readers to accept first derivatives in place of levels. Nope: However you slice it, central banks have pushed interest rates artificially low. That’s why their balance sheets have exploded. It is astonishing that Krugman is trying to justify this outcome as “natural.”
What I find interesting here is Krugman’s explicit attempt to discredit the recent BIS warning, based on the work of Mises and Hayek, of Central bank excesses. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, (“Stop Us before We Kill Again”):
The Bank for International Settlements issued a report warning that global monetary policies are reaching their useful limit and may be contributing to financial excesses that could turn out badly if central bankers aren’t careful.
“Financial markets are euphoric, in the grip of an aggressive search for yield,” Claudio Borio, head of the monetary and economic department at the BIS in Basel, Switzerland, said as the club issued its annual report. “And yet investment in the real economy remains weak while the macroeconomic and geopolitical outlook is still highly uncertain.”
Austrian influenced work by current BIS economist Claudio Borio and former Head of Monetary and Economic Department of the BIS, William R. White is highlighted here. As a side note, I would like to think work by Fred Glahe and I perhaps planted a seed for some of this work as White often cites our Keynes-Hayek Debate when he introduces Hayek. A more detailed list and discussion of recent mainstream work on ABCT is developed Nicolas Cachanosky can be accessed from links provided here.
Andreas Hoffmann, co-winner of the 2014 Lawrence W. Fertig Prize in Austrian Economics for Monetary Nationalism and International Economic Instability, has had his paper “Zero-Interest Rate Policy and Unintended Consequences in Emerging Markets” has been accepted for publication in The World Economy (pdf upon request). The abstract:
Since 2009, central banks in the major advanced economies have held interest rates at very low levels to stabilize financial markets and support the recovery of their economies. This paper outlines the unintended consequences of the prolonged period of very low world funding interest rates in emerging markets. The paper is informed by a Mises-Hayek-BIS view on credit booms and Mises’ law of unintended consequences. Consistent with the presented credit boom view, the paper shows that the period of low world funding interest rates is associated with a rise in volatile capital flows and asset market bubbles in fast-growing emerging markets. As suggested by Mises’ law, the unintended consequences give rise to a new wave of interventionism as policymakers in emerging markets increasingly reintroduce financially repressive measures to isolate the economies from foreign capital inflows.
Interesting addition illustrating the renewed influence of Hayek and Mises is the reference to this increasingly influential emphasis on credit booms as Mises-Hayek-BIS view.
via Zero Hedge http://ift.tt/1oBpkFO Tyler Durden
Ed Krayewski and
J.D. Tuccille have both pointed out today, Texas Gov. Rick
Perry went out of his way on Friday to single out for criticism the
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky). If the sight of a putative 2016 GOP
presidential aspirant explicitly defining himself in opposition to
Paul’s foreign policy looks familiar, that’s because it is.
Here’s a partial list of distancing exercises from the man whom
Zogby Analytics last week asserted “is
emerging as the frontrunner in this race.” They are listed in
chronological order, though I’m sure John Bolton (among others)
probably slung more barbs back when he was
first floated as an anti-Paul candidate. If you can think of
other candidates, please add them in the comments.
Rep. Peter King (R-New
“A number of people in the last several months, particularly in
New York but also around the country, were concerned about what
they feel is a lack of a real defense policy or defense debate
among Republican candidates for president, focusing primarily on
Rand Paul and Ted Cruz,” King said during an appearance on MSNBC’s
“Morning Joe.” […]
“It bothers me when the leading Republicans out there, someone
like Rand Paul, seems more concerned about an American being killed
in Starbucks by a CIA drone than he is about Islamic
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie:
“As a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W.
Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, I just want us to be really cautious,
because this strain of libertarianism that’s going through both
parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very
dangerous thought,” Christie said.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida):
“On issue after issue, these voices have used the increasing
uncertainty abroad and the economic insecurity here at home to
argue for it’s best for America to stay on the sidelines,” Rubio
said. “Now there’s no denying that a globally engaged America comes
at a steep price, but the history of our still young nation shows
and is full of warnings that a lack of American engagement and
leadership comes with an even higher price of it’s own.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas):
“I’m a big fan of Rand Paul. He and I are good friends. But I
don’t agree with him on foreign policy,” Cruz said. “I think U.S.
leadership is critical in the world. And I agree with him that we
should be very reluctant to deploy military force abroad. But I
think there is a vital role, just as Ronald Reagan did… The United
States has a responsibility to defend our values.”
“I see the Rand Paul wing of the Republican Party for what it
is: allied with Barack Obama’s foreign policy. I think that’s a
very serious threat to our own security.”
“[A]nyone who thinks Edward Snowden is a hero in unfit to
Texas Gov. Rick Perry:
[I]t’s disheartening to hear fellow Republicans, such as
Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), suggest that our nation should ignore
what’s happening in Iraq. The main problem with this argument is
that it means ignoring the profound threat that the group now
calling itself the Islamic State poses to the United
States and the world.
Reason has a long archive on Rand Paul’s challenge to entrenched
GOP foreign policy;
from Hit & Run http://ift.tt/1sgBTNg
Today saw the mainstream media congratulate themselves over the demise of the anti-status-quo indicator – gold. The precious metal dropped over 2% on the day amid major volumes in futures – its biggest drop in 2014. However, it seems the GLD ETF decided today’s dump was the right opportunity to load up on the “put against the idiocy of the political cycle,” which saw its largest inflow since August 2011. The ongoing oscillation between the paper and physical markets (amid the chaos that China’s Qingdao ponzi has created) appears to have shifted trend as the last 2 months has seen the biggest net inflows in 2 years (since pre-German gold repatriation).
with consistent inflows the heaviest since German repatriation requests began…
Makes one wonder if that “rumor” of German cancelling its gold recall had something to it…
via Zero Hedge http://ift.tt/1sgtGsp Tyler Durden
Submitted by David Stockman of Contra Corner blog,
The central banks of the world are massively and insouciantly pursuing financial instability. That’s the inherent result of the 68 straight months of zero money market rates that have been forced into the global financial system by the Fed and its confederates at the BOJ, ECB and BOE. ZIRP fuels endless carry trades and the harvesting of every manner of profit spread between negligible “funding” costs and positive yields and returns on a wide spectrum of risk assets.
Moreover, this central bank sponsored regime of ZIRP and money market pegging contains a built-in accelerator. As carry trade speculators drive asset prices steadily higher and fixed income spreads steadily thinner—- fear and short interest is driven out of the casino, making buying on the dips ever more profitable and less risky. Indeed, the explicit promise by central banks that the money market rate will remain frozen for the duration and that ample warning of any change in rate policy will be “transparently” announced is the single worst policy imaginable from the point of view of financial stability. It means that the speculator’s worst nightmare—–suddenly going “upside down” due to a sharp spike in funding costs—-is eliminated by central bank writ.
Stated differently, ZIRP systematically dismantles the market’s natural stability mechanisms. One natural deterrent to excessive financial gambling, for example, is the cost of hedging a speculator’s portfolio of “risk assets” against a broad market plunge. In an honest market environment, hedging costs consume a high share of profits, thereby sharply limiting risk appetites and the amount of capital attracted to speculative trading.
By contrast, an extended regime of ZIRP, coupled with the central banks’ perceived “put” under risk assets, drives the cost of “downside insurance” to negligible levels because S&P 500 put writers are emboldened and subsidized to pick up nickels (i.e. options premium) in front of a benign central bank steamroller. This ultra-cheap downside insurance, in turn, attracts ever larger inflows of speculative capital to the casino.
This corrosive game has been underway ever since the Greenspan Fed panicked on Black Monday in October 1987 and flooded the stock market with liquidity. It is now such an endemic feature of Wall Street that it is falsely assumed to be the normal order of things. But, then, would anyone have been picking up nickels in front of the Volcker steamroller?
This dynamic is evident in the chart of the S&P 500 since the March 2009 bottom. The dips have gotten shallower and shallower as ZIRP and other pro-risk central bank policies have eroded the market’s natural defenses against excessive speculation. As of mid-2014, therefore, it can be fairly said that fear and short interest have been extinguished almost entirely. The Wall Street casino has thus become a one-way market that coils dangerously upward, divorced completely from the fundamentals of earnings and cash flow and real world economic conditions and prospects.
The inverse side of this coin is disappearance of volatility in the equity markets. As shown below, the current readings are at all-time lows, even below bottoms reached on the eve of the 2008 financial crisis. Needless to say, this dangerous condition does not appear by happenstance: its is the inexorable and systematic result of ZIRP and the associated tools of monetary central planning.
But all of this is ignored by the central banks because their Keynesian economic plumbing models contain a fatal flaw. These models purport to capture capitalism at work, but they contain no balance sheets and hardly any proxy for the financial markets which are at the heart of modern capitalist economies. As a result, central banks pursue ZIRP in order to inflate the plumbing system of the macro-economy with more “demand”—and hence more jobs, income, investment and GDP—-while ignoring the systematic destruction of financial stability that results from these very same policies.
As a consequence, Keynesian central bankers are bubble-blind. Whereas they monitor immense amounts of “in-coming” high-frequency macro-economic data that is trivial and “noisy” in the extreme, they ignore entirely “in-coming” financial market data that points to monumental troubles just ahead.
At the present time, for example, 40% of all syndicated loans are being taken down by sub-investment grade issuers. This is materially higher than the 2007 peak, and is accompanied by an even more virulent outbreak of “cov-lite” credit terms. Indeed, upwards of 60% of these junk loans have no protection against debt layering and cash stripping by equity holders—-notwithstanding their nominal “senior” status in the credit structure. The obvious implication, of course, is that the Fed “easy money” is being massively diverted into leveraged gambling and rent stripping by the LBO houses. Three times since 1988 this kind of financial deformation has led to a thundering bust in the junk credit market. Why would monetary central planners, who allegedly watch their so-called “dashboards” like a flock of hawks, think the outcome would be any different this time?
40pc of syndicated loans are to sub-investment grade borrowers
The monetary politburo remains unperturbed, of course, because they are not monitoring the composition and quality of credit. Their models simply stipulate that aggregate business loan growth will lead to more spending on capital assets and operational expansion including hiring. That assumption is manifestly wrong, however, because it is plainly evident that most of the massive expansion of business credit since the last peak has gone into financial engineering—-stock buybacks, LBO’s and cash M&A deals—-not expansion of productive business assets. Indeed, total non-financial business credit outstanding has risen from $11 trillion in December 2007 to $13.8 trillion at present, or by 25%, yet real business investment in plants and equipment is still $70 billion or 5% below its pre-crisis peak.
And that is “gross” spending for plant and equipment as recorded in the “I” term of the GDP accounts. The far more relevant measure with respect to economic health and future growth capacity is “net business investment” after accounting for depreciation and amortization allowances. That is, after accounting for the consumption of capital that occurred in the production of current period GDP. As shown below, that figure in real terms is 20% below the peak achieved two cycles back in the late 1990s.
In short, the combination of faltering investment in real plant and equipment juxtaposed to peak levels of leveraged loan finance should be a warning sign of growing financial instability. Instead, the central bankers bray that valuation multiples are not out of line and financial institution leverage is reasonably well-contained.
The “valuations are normal” line proffered by Yellen and her band of money printers, however, is simply an adaptation of the Wall Street hockey sticks based on projected earnings ex-items. That is to say, the kind of “earnings” estimates that omitted on average 23% of actual P&L charges over the course the 2007-2010 boom and bust cycle owing to non-recurring write-downs of goodwill, plants, leases and restructuring costs, among countless other real expenses—all of which ultimately consume corporate cash and capital. As I demonstrated in “The Great Deformation”, cumulative S&P 500 “earnings less items” over that four-year period amounted to $2.42 trillion compared to GAAP reported earnings—-that is, the kind that you don’t go to jail for reporting to the SEC—of only $1.87 trillion.
Consequently, the Fed fails to see the in-coming data on financial instability because it isn’t looking for it, and is simply tossing out Wall Street sell-side propaganda as a sop. The disappearance of volatility in the S&P 500 chart shown at the beginning, for example, is nearly an identical replica of the run-up to the 2007 stock market peak. Yet the appearance of a proven warning sign of a bubble top has been resolutely ignored.
The fact is, PE multiples are far above “normal” based on GAAP earnings in historical context. During the LTM period ending in Q1 2014, S&P 500 earnings amounted to $100 per share after adjustment for a recent change in pension accounting that is not reflected in the historical data. Accordingly, even the big cap “broad” market is trading at 19.6X reported earnings—a level achieved historically only at points when the stock market was on the verge an implosion.
Moreover, today’s $100 per share of earnings are highly artificial owing to massive share buybacks funded by cheap debt and by deep repression of interest carry costs. The S&P 500 companies carry upwards of $3 trillion in debt, but were interest rates to normalize— earnings per share would drop by upwards of $10. Likewise, profit margins are at an all-time high, indicating that the inevitable “mean-regression” will chop significant additional amounts out of currently reported profits.
In other words, at a point which is month #61 of the current business cycle, and thereby already beyond than the average cycle since 1950, why would any one in their right mind say a market is not bubbly when it’s trading at nearly 20X reported earnings. Indeed, in a world where interest rate and profit rate normalization must inevitably come, the capitalization rate for current earnings should be well below normal—-not extended into the nosebleed section of historical results.
And this applies to almost any other measure of valuation in risk asset markets. The Russell 2000, for example, still stands at the absurd height of 85X reported earnings. The cyclically adjusted S&P stands at 24X, or six turns higher than its half century average. The Tobin’s Q measure is also far more stretched than in 2007.
Likewise, emerging markets have piled on $2 trillion in foreign currency debt since 2008. This makes them far more significant in the global financial scheme than they were in 2008 or even at the time of the East Asia crisis of the late 1990s. And that is not even considering the massive house of cards in China, where credit market debt has soared from $1 trillion at the turn of the century to $25 trillion today.
At the end of the day, the Fed and its fellow traveling central banks have systematically dismantled the natural stability mechanisms of financial markets. Accordingly, financial markets have now become dangerous casinos in which speculative bubbles are guaranteed to build to dangerous extremes as the central bank driven financial inflation gathers force. That’s where we are now. Again.
via Zero Hedge http://ift.tt/1sgtGse Tyler Durden
What’s so amusing about today’s article from the New York Times titled, At Dinner Tables, Restless President Finds Intellectual Escape, is that the author appears to be quite sympathetic to Obama. She seems to want to portray the President as a real statesman; one who is so far above politics and the pedestrian task of being Commander in Chief that he finds it necessary to flee his responsibilities in order to find intellectual escape while dining extravagantly with “elites” in Europe. In contrast, he merely comes across as the arrogant, disconnected, oligarch coddler he is.
The article also seems to say something important about the New York Times’ own disconnectedness, particularly considering the paper’s Pentagon correspondent recently referred to the American public as children, with the government and mainstream media playing the role of parents.
from Liberty Blitzkrieg http://ift.tt/1wnpTY0