Health Care Costs Are Rising Sharply, And It Will Get Much Worse

Submitted by Mish Shedlock of MishTalk

 

Inquiring minds are diving into Kaiser Family Foundation reports on health care. The charts and stats are not pretty, and they are sure to get worse.

Health Care Expenditures 1960-2014

The above chart from the Kasiser Family Foundation report Health Spending Explorer.

Deductible Spending Soars

Between 2004 and 2014, average payments for deductibles and coinsurance rose considerably faster than the overall cost for covered benefits, while the average payments for copayments fell. As can be seen in the chart below, over this time period, patient cost-sharing rose substantially faster than payments for care by health plans as insurance coverage became a little less generous.

The above chart from the Kasiser Family Foundation report Cost Sharing Payments Increasing Rapidly Over Time.

The above via Kaiser Family Tweet.

Huge Cost Increases Coming

Those charts hugely understate the problem. All date to 2014.

In January, CNSNews reported CBO: Obamacare Costs to Increase in 2016 As Millions More Get Subsidized Insurance.

Taxpayers will have to shell out an estimated $18 billion more to subsidize Obamacare in 2016 despite lower than expected enrollment in the health care exchanges, according to a forecast by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

 

In its latest 10-year economic forecast, CBO predicted that 13 million Americans would purchase health insurance through the Obamacare exchanges in 2016, with 11 million of them receiving government subsidies to help pay for their premiums.

 

But that figure is 40 percent lower than the 21 million enrollees CBO predicted last year would sign up.

 

Despite fewer than expected enrollees, the cost of running the exchanges will increase $18 billion, according to the CBO’s Budget and Economic Outlook: 2016 to 2026.

November Surprise

Many consumers will see large rate increases for the first time Nov. 1 — a week before they go to the polls.

Politico comments on Obamacare’s November Surprise.

The last thing Democrats want to contend with just a week before the 2016 presidential election is an outcry over double-digit insurance hikes as millions of Americans begin signing up for Obamacare.

 

But that looks increasingly likely as health plans socked by Obamacare losses look to regain their financial footing by raising rates.

 

Just a week after the nation’s largest insurer, UnitedHealth Group, pulled out of most Obamacare exchanges because it anticipates $650 million in losses this year, Aetna’s CEO said Thursday that his company expects to break even, but legislative fixes are needed to make the marketplace sustainable.

 

“I think a lot of insurance carriers expected red ink, but they didn’t expect this much red ink,” said Greg Scott, who oversees Deloitte’s health plans practice. “A number of carriers need double-digit increases.”

 

Republicans are already pouncing on UnitedHealth’s decision as proof the law is unworkable. “You’re seeing the beginning of the so-called insurance death spiral,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said last week.

Related Articles

Also consider Obamacare Redistribution and the Disincentive to Work.

Thanks to Obamacare, it is frequently better for a middle class family to get no raise than even a decent sized raise.

The wage point varies, but many will say “Dear employer, please don’t pay me more. It will cost me a lot of money”.

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Controversial North Carolina Bathroom Law Could Change, but May Make Life More Difficult For Transgender People

After months of backlash from numerous groups, leaders in the North Carolina General Assembly are preparing to introduce legislation to change certain provisions of the state’s controversial bathroom law.

If you recall, the Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill in March requiring individuals to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificate. In addition, the bill also prevented cities from passing any anti-discrimination protections that would apply to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people as well as other labor regulations.

That law—the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, commonly known as House Bill 2—was a response to an ordinance passed in Charlotte, which would have allowed transgender people to use the bathroom or locker room for the gender they identify with and prohibited discrimination for housing and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The statewide law was passed during a one-day special session, and was signed by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory after the session concluded.

Reaction to House Bill 2 has been heated. Businesses were quick to criticize McCrory and the General Assembly, and the law has been the subject of multiple lawsuits, including one from the United States Department of Justice.

However, conservatives have stood by House Bill 2, saying it will protect women and children from being sexually assaulted (though this claim lacks compelling support).

Three months after the law went on the books, leadership in the state’s House of Representatives has drafted legislation to modify it. According to television station WBTV, the draft comes as a result of conversations between political leaders and officials from the National Basketball Association (NBA). Charlotte is currently set to host the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, but the event’s future has come into question since House Bill 2 passed.

So is the General Assembly planning on making it easier for transgender people to use their preferred bathroom? Far from it. Based on the draft of the bill, it won’t just continue to be a hassle for these individuals to choose their bathroom—the change may make their lives more difficult.

If this draft were to become law, it would permit the government to create an official document recognizing someone’s gender reassignment. In order to receive this certificate, a trans person would have to submit an application as well as a statement from a doctor who “has examined the individual and can certify that the person has undergone sex reassignment surgery.”

As Reason‘s Scott Shackford noted when House Bill 2 was passed, the government should treat gay and transgender people the same way they treat straight people. Instead, North Carolina’s General Assembly is putting up a major hurdle to a minority group’s self-determination. Despite the backlash to House Bill 2, legislators are only slightly loosening the restrictions they’ve placed on people who, like everyone, have to use the bathroom.

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Is the ACLU’s Lawsuit Against Bad Anti-Hacking Law Ingenious or Terrifying?

The vague language of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) has made it prone to abuse by federal prosecutors.

This law’s alleged purpose is to fight cybercrimes and hackers. But the law is far more expansive, making it a federal crime to violate a web site’s “terms of service” as a user or to access a computer or network in an “unauthorized” fashion. Yes, the law is used to fight hackers trying to get into people’s bank accounts to steal their money. But it has also been used to put journalist Matthew Keys in prison for giving a password to a member of Anonymous, who then vandalized the website for the Los Angeles Times by changing a single headline. The law was also used against activist Aaron Swartz, who was arrested and charged for downloading huge numbers of academic studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with the intent of making them freely available to everybody. The prosecutor used the law as a hammer to try to push Swartz to accept a plea deal. Instead he committed suicide. It’s a terrible law that you’ve probably broken without even realizing.

And now the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing to challenge the constitutionality of the law. This is very good news. How they’re tackling it is both interesting, but also just a little bit troubling. Their argument is that the law has the side effect of chilling some online research and journalism investigations of some online commercial behavior. More specifically, this is research over whether online algorithms that put information and advertising in front of people’s eyeballs is influenced by discriminatory attitudes or intent. Are those sponsored ads you’re getting racist or sexist?

The CFAA barrier keeps academics and journalists from researching algorithmic behavior, stopping researchers from independently “auditing” what happens by keeping them from creating fake online profiles to see how advertising reacts. The terms of service of many websites prohibit the use of fake accounts or identities. Therefore using the same sort techniques used to sniff out discriminatory behavior in the “real world” in areas like job interviews and bank loans (fake applications) are legally not permissible. People, of course, create fake online profiles and identities anyway, but most people are not researchers or journalists who plan to publicly release the results of their investigations and would have to worry about legal retaliation.

But potentially bringing about an end to at least part of this broad law may be exchanging one type of legal threat with another. A look over the ACLU’s arguments for striking down that part of CFAA should set off alarms about what the future could bring:

As more and more of our transactions move online, and with much of our internet behavior lacking anonymity, it becomes easier for companies to target ads and services to individuals based on their perceived race, gender, or sexual orientation. Companies employ sophisticated computer algorithms to analyze the massive amounts of data they have about internet users. This use of “big data” enables websites to steer individuals toward different homes or credit offers or jobs—and they may do so based on users’ membership in a group protected by civil rights laws. In one example, a Carnegie Mellon study found that Google ads were being displayed differently based on the perceived gender of the user: Men were more likely to see ads for high-paying jobs than women. In another, preliminary research by the Federal Trade Commission showed the potential for ads for loans and credit cards to be targeted based on proxies for race, such as income and geography.

This steering may be intentional or it may happen unintentionally, for example when machine-learning algorithms evolve in response to flawed data sets reflecting existing disparities in the distribution of homes or jobs. Even the White House has acknowledged that “discrimination may ‘be the inadvertent outcome of the way big data technologies are structured and used.'”

Companies should be checking their own algorithms to ensure they are not discriminating. But that alone is not enough. Private actors may not want to admit to practices that violate civil rights laws, trigger the negative press that can flow from findings of discrimination, or modify what they perceive to be profitable business tools. That’s why robust outside journalism, testing, and research is necessary. For decades, courts and Congress have encouraged audit testing in the offline world—for example, where pairs of individuals of different races attempt to secure housing and jobs and compare outcomes. This kind of audit testing is the best way to determine whether members of protected classes are experiencing discrimination in transactions covered by civil rights laws, and as a result it’s been distinguished from laws prohibiting theft or fraud.

The text of the complaint (read here) makes it abundantly clear that one likely outcome—even a desirable outcome—could be civil rights lawsuits under other federal laws like the Fair Housing Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is not just about people trying to avoid being punished under one federal law. This is also potentially about getting evidence in order to use federal discrimination laws to punish private companies over the complex results of computer algorithms.

This is not to say that the ACLU itself plans to go around filing lawsuits willy nilly. But the ACLU and the people they’re representing in this case (one of whom is First Look Media, publishers of The Intercept), would not be the only people who be able to mobilize as a result of a friendly court ruling. Consider the lawyers (and their clients) who use the Americans with Disabilities Act to go from business to business looking for reasons to sue over frivolous concerns and eke out settlements. When the ACLU says, “Companies should be checking their own algorithms to ensure they are not discriminating,” there’s now a threat there, even if it’s not coming from the ACLU, isn’t there? Is that something even small businesses would have to pay attention to now? Is this going to be a new type of compliance cost? Could a business get into trouble for—as an example—buying targeted advertising that only reaches people in certain zip codes that have a high proportion of one race over another? Even if there are very good reasons for doing so, will a business is still now have to worry about having to defend against a lawsuit over it? Consider how many businesses settle complaints because the cost of fighting becomes too much of a burden.

It’s vexing, because the ACLU’s arguments for striking down that part of the law are compelling. There’s no reason that it should be a federal crime to do the same kind of auditing to determine discriminatory process that’s used through mailed applications or in-person interviews. Honestly it’s hard to justify making the violation of a sites “terms of service” a federal crime for any reason.

It’s disappointing, though, that ending one sort of abusive federal government prosecution may also be used as a tool to pry open new avenues to use the courts to harass people. The ACLU invokes redlining—the historical system of discrimination in which banks refused to provide mortgage loans in neighborhoods with high numbers of minorities. Does that really compare to which people get shown different types of online advertising?

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Futures Spike After Banks Unveil Tens Of Billions In Buybacks

Betwen BofA, Citi, JPMorgan, and now Goldman, (and excluding MS for now), announced buybacks totalling over $24 billion have sent US equity futures spiking after hours.

  • Bank of America Authorizes $5b Buyback; Boosts Div to 7.5c-Share
  • Citigroup Plans $8.6b Buyback; Lifts Qtr Div to 16c From 5c
  • JPMorgan Chase Plans $10.6b Buyback, Maintains qtr Div at 48c/shr
  • Goldman Sachs plans buybacks of stock, boosts quarterly dividend

Futures are up across the board… no matter what exposure to financials they have…

 

As The S&P spikes…

 

Some context…

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Fed Fails Deutsche Bank And Santander In Stress Test, As 31 Other Banks Unleash Dividend, Buyback Frenzy

One week ago, the Fed released the first part of its annual solvency stress test, which found that all 33 bank participants had passed, and would not need additional capital even in a severely adverse scenario which looked as follows:

The severely adverse scenario is characterized by a severe global recession accompanied by a period of heightened corporate financial stress and negative yields for short-term U.S. Treasury securities. In this scenario, the level of U.S. real GDP begins to decline in the first quarter of 2016 and reaches a trough in the first quarter of 2017 that is 6.25 percent below the pre-recession peak. The unemployment rate increases by 5 percentage points, to 10 percent, by the middle of 2017, and headline consumer price inflation rises from about 0.25 percent at an annual rate in the first quarter of 2016 to about 1.25 percent at an annual rate by the end of the recession.  Asset prices drop sharply in the scenario, consistent with the developments described above. Equity prices fall approximately 50 percent through the end of 2016, accompanied by a surge in equity  market volatility, which approaches the levels attained in 2008. House prices and commercial real estate prices also experience considerable declines, with house prices dropping 25 percent through the third quarter of 2018 and commercial real estate prices falling 30 percent through the second quarter of 2018.

 

Today, moments ago the Fed released the second part of its stress test, the Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR), one which gives banks the green light (or in some cases not) to return capital to shareholders.

What it found is that what Morgan Stanley conditionally passed the stress test and was “not objected to” it is required to “address certain weaknesses and resubmit its plan by the end of 2016.” The Fed also found that Deutsche Bank and Santander’s US units had failed the stress tests. This is what it said: “The Federal Reserve Board on Wednesday announced it has not objected to the capital plans of 30 bank holding companies participating in the Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR). The Board objected to two firms’ plans. One other firm’s plan was not objected to, but the firm is being required to address certain weaknesses and resubmit its plan by the end of 2016.”

Who passed without question? Some 30 companies:

The Federal Reserve did not object to the capital plans of Ally Financial, Inc.; American Express Company; BancWest Corporation; Bank of America Corporation; The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation; BB&T Corporation; BBVA Compass Bancshares, Inc.; BMO Financial Corp.; Capital One Financial Corporation; Citigroup, Inc.; Citizens Financial Group; Comerica Incorporated; Discover Financial Services; Fifth Third Bancorp; Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.; HSBC North America Holdings, Inc.; Huntington Bancshares, Inc.; JP Morgan Chase & Co.; Keycorp; M&T Bank Corporation; MUFG Americas Holdings Corporation; Northern Trust Corp.; The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.; Regions Financial Corporation; State Street Corporation; SunTrust Banks, Inc.; TD Group US Holdings LLC; U.S. Bancorp; Wells Fargo & Company; and Zions Bancorporation. M&T Bank Corporation met minimum capital requirements on a post-stress basis after submitting an adjusted capital action.

Morgan Stanley, however, did not do quite as well, and the while the Fed did not object to the capital plan of Morgan Stanley, it “is requiring the firm to submit a new capital plan by the end of the fourth quarter of 2016 to address certain weaknesses in its capital planning processes.”

Finally, “the Fed objected to the capital plans of Deutsche Bank Trust Corporation and Santander Holdings USA, Inc. based on qualitative concerns. The Federal Reserve did not object to any capital plans based on quantitative grounds.”

Ironically, just moments after the Fed announced that Morgan Stanley may have deficiencies, it announced that it is boosting its dividend to $0.20/share and will repurchase up to $3.5 billion in stock, adding that it sees itself “fully meeting requirements within the timeline.”

MS stock dipped at first, then ripped right back into the green.

 

And with the Fed out of the way, all other banks have unleashed a veritable feeding frenzy of dividend hikes and buybacks.

  • Bank of America Authorizes $5b Buyback; Boosts Div to 7.5c-Share
  • Citigroup Plans $8.6b Buyback; Lifts Qtr Div to 16c From 5c
  • JPMorgan Chase Plans $10.6b Buyback, Maintains qtr Div at 48c/shr
  • Huntington Bancshares to Boost Qtr Div. to 8c From 7c/Shr
  • U.S. Bancorp to Buy Back $2.6b of Shares, Boosts Div. by 9.8%
  • Zions Bancorp Plans to Boost Dividend, Buyback
  • Citi to buy back up to $8.6 billion in shares, boost dividend to 16c/share
  • State Street to Buy Up to $1.4b; Boosts Dividend to 38c Vs 34c
  • Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Plan Includes Common Dividends of $120m
  • Discover Financial to Buy Back Up to $1.95b of Stock, Boost Div. to 30s/shr from 28c.

We expect many more to boost their dividend and buyback plans before the night is over. And since all of these transactions will be debt-funded, and since other banks will pocket the commission, expect a feeding frenzy of cross bank revenue thanks to yield starved investors who have no choice but to give banks their money all as a result of the Fed’s policies which today pushed the 30Y just shy of record low yields.

The full CCAR report can be found here.

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Attorney General Meets Privately With Bill Clinton, Mike Tyson Not Speaking at RNC, UFO Advocate Dares Government to Indict Him: P.M. Links

  • Attorney General Loretta Lynch met privately with Bill Clinton in Phoenix, but insists they didn’t discuss the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton or any other “pending matters” within the Justice Department.
  • Donald Trump denies Mike Tyson was invited to speak at the Republican National Convention this summer in Cleveland.
  • President Obama, the president of Mexico, and the prime minister of Canada met in Ottawa for a North American Leaders’ Summit.
  • Misty Snow became the first openly transgendered Senate nominee when she won the Democratic primary in Utah.
  • A UFO disclosure advocate in Canada said he’s daring the U.S. government over his release of government documents detailing the tracking of nearly 2,000 UFOs by NORAD.
  • Miss Teen USA, to be held in Las Vegas next month, will be dropping its swimsuit competition.
  • Outrage over a “decidedly non-feminist” clue perceived as insensitive in The New York Times crossword puzzle.

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August 15th – The Date Which Will Live In Monetary Infamy

Authored by 720Global's Michael Lebowitz via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

Before reading this article we highly recommend reading “The Death of the Virtuous Cycle” to provide better context.

July 4th – June 6th – September 11th August 15th

You likely associated the first three dates above with transformative events in U.S. history. August 15th, however, may have you scratching your head.

August 15, 1971 was the date that President Richard Nixon shocked the world when he closed the gold window, thus eliminating free convertibility of the U.S. dollar to gold. This infamous ‘new economic policy’, or “Nixon Shock”, thereby removed the requirement that the U.S. dollar be backed by gold reserves. From that fateful day forward, constraints were removed that previously hindered the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) ability to manage the U.S. money supply. Decades later, slowing economic growth, nonexistent wage growth, growing wealth disparity, deteriorating productivity growth and other economic ills lay in the wake of Nixon’s verdict.

The Transformation of the Federal Reserve and Alan Greenspan

With the stroke of President Nixon’s pen a new standard of economic policy was imposed upon the American people and with it came promises of increased economic growth, high levels of employment and general prosperity. What we know now, almost 50 years later, is that unshackling the U.S. monetary system from the discipline of a gold standard, allowed the Fed to play a leading role in replacing the Virtuous Cycle with an Un-Virtuous Cycle. Eliminating the risk of global redemption of U.S. dollars for gold also eliminated the discipline, the checks and balances, on deficit spending by the government and its citizens. As the debt accumulated, the requirement on the Fed to drive interest rates lower became mandatory to enable the economic system to service that debt.

In this new post-1971 era, the Fed approached monetary policy in a pre-emptive fashion with increasing aggression. In other words, the Fed, more often than not, forced interest rates below levels that would likely have been prevalent if determined by the free market. The strategy was to unnaturally mitigate even minor and healthy economic corrections and to encourage more public and private borrowing to drive consumption, indirectly discouraging savings. The purpose was to create more economic growth than there would otherwise have been.

This new and aggressive form of monetary policy is epitomized by the transformation of Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. Greenspan came into office in 1987 as an Ayn Rand disciple, a vocal supporter of free-markets. Beginning with the October 19, 1987 “Black Monday” stock market crash, however, he began to fully appreciate his ability to control interest rates, the money supply and ultimately economic activity. He was able to stem the undesirable effects of various financial crises, and spur economic growth when he believed it to be warranted. Greenspan converted from a free market activist, preaching that markets should naturally set their own interest rates, to one promoting the Fed’s role in determining “appropriate” levels of interest rates and economic growth.

In 2006, after 18 years as Chairman of the Federal Reserve and nicknamed “The Maestro”, he retired and handed the baton to Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen, both of whom have followed in his active and aggressive monetary policy ways.

Proof

The Fed’s powerful effect on interest rates made it cheaper for households and government to borrow and spend, and therefore debt was made more attractive to citizens and politicians. Personal consumption and government spending are the largest components of economic activity, accounting for approximately 70% and 20% of GDP respectively.

The following graph illustrates the degree to which interest rates across the maturity curve became progressively more appealing to borrowers over time. The graph below shows inflation-adjusted or “real” U.S. Treasury interest rates (yields) to provide a clear comparison of interest rates through various inflationary and economic periods. Since 2003, many of the data points in the graph are negative, creating an environment which outright penalizes savers and benefits borrowers.

720Global-Chart1-062916

The next graph tells the same story but in a different light. It compares the Federal Funds rate (the Fed controlled interest rate that banks charge each other for overnight borrowing) to the growth rate of economic output (GDP). This comparison is based on a theory proposed by Knut Wicksell, a 19th century economist. In the Theory of Interest (1898) he proposes that there is an optimal interest rate. Any interest rate other than that rate would have negative consequences for long term economic growth. When rates are too high and above the optimal rate, the economy would languish. Conversely, lower than optimal rates lead to over-borrowing, capital misallocation and speculation eventually resulting in economic hardships. To calculate the optimal rate, Wicksell used market rates of interest as compared to GDP.

720Global-Chart2-062916

In order to gauge the direct influence the Fed exerted on interest rates within Wicksell’s framework we compare the Fed Funds rate to GDP.  Like the prior graph, notice the declining trend pointing to “easier” borrowing conditions. Additionally, note that since 2000 the spread between Fed Funds and GDP has largely been negative. As the spread declined, borrowers were further lead to speculation and misallocated capital, exactly what Wicksell theorized would occur with rates below the optimal level. The tech bubble, real-estate bubble and many other asset bubbles provide supporting evidence to his theory.

The Smoking Gun

The graphs above make a good case that the Fed has been overly-aggressive in their use of interest rate policy to increase the desire to borrow and ultimately drive consumption. We fortify this claim by comparing the Fed’s monetary policy actions to their congressionally set mandate to erase any doubt you may still have. The following is the 1977 amended Federal Reserve Act stating the monetary objectives of the Fed.  This is often referred to as the dual mandate.

“The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Open Market Committee shall maintain long run growth of the monetary and credit aggregates commensurate with the economy’s long run potential to increase production, so as to promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates.”

To paraphrase – the Fed should allow the money supply and debt outstanding to grow at a rate matching the potential economic growth rate in order to help achieve their mandated goals.

Since 1977, the year the mandate was issued, the annualized growth rate of credit and the monetary base increased at over twice the rate of the economy’s potential growth rate (productivity + population growth).  The two measures rose annually 42% and 65% respectively faster than actual economic growth.

Commensurate is not a word we would use to describe the relationships of those growth rates to that of the economy’s potential growth rate!

The Hangover

In a Virtuous Cycle, saving and investment lead to productivity gains, increased production growth and ultimately growing prosperity which then further perpetuates the cycle. In the Un-Virtuous Cycle, debt leads to consumption which leads to more debt and more consumption in a vicious self-fulfilling spiral.  In the Un-Virtuous Cycle, savings, investment and productivity are neglected. Declining productivity growth causes a decline in the potential economic growth rate, thus requiring ever-greater levels of debt to maintain current levels of economic growth. This debt trap also requires ever lower interest rates to allow the growing mountain of debt to be serviced.

With almost 50 years of history there is sufficient data to judge the effects of the Fed’s monetary policy experiment. The first graph below highlights the exponential growth in debt (black line) which coincided with the decline in the personal savings rate (orange) and the Fed Funds rate (green).

720Global-Chart3-062916

As the savings rate slowed, investment naturally followed suit and, as the Virtuous Cycle dictates, productivity growth declined. The graph below highlights the decline in the productivity growth rate. The dotted black line allows one to compare the productivity growth rate prior to the removal of the gold standard to the period afterwards. The 10-year average growth rate (green) also highlights the stark difference in productivity growth rates before and after the early 1970’s. Please note, the green line denotes a ten-year average growth rate. Recent readings over the prior two years and other measures of productivity are very close to zero.

720Global-Chart4-062916

Over the long term, economic growth is largely a function of productivity growth. The graph below compares GDP to what it might have looked like had the productivity growth trend of pre-1971 continued.  Clearly, the unrealized productive output would have gone a long way toward keeping today’s debt levels manageable, incomes more balanced across the population and the standard of living rising for the country as a whole.

720Global-Chart5-062916

The graphs below show the secular trend in economic growth and the lack of real income growth over the last 20 years.

720Global-Chart6-062916

720Global-Chart7-062916

A Feeble Rebuttal

Some may contend that debt was not only employed to satisfy immediate consumption needs but also used for investment purposes. While some debt was certainly allocated toward productive investment, the data clearly argues that a large majority of the debt was either used for consumptive purposes or was poorly invested in investments that were unsuccessful in increasing productivity. Had debt been employed successfully in productivity enhancing investments, GDP and productivity would have increased at a similar or greater pace than the rise in debt.  In the 1970’s $1.66 of new debt created $1.00 of economic growth. Since that time, debt has grown at three times the rate of economic activity and it now takes $4.47 of new debt to create the same $1.00 of economic growth.

 

Summary

August 15, 2016 will mark the 45th anniversary of President Nixon’s decision to close the gold window. U.S. citizens and the government are now beholden to the consequences of years of accumulated debt and weak productivity growth that have occurred since that day. Now, seven years after the end of the financial crisis and recession, these consequences are in plain sight. The Fed finds themselves crippled under an imprudent zero interest rate policy and unable to raise interest rates due fear of stoking another crisis.  Worse, other central banks, in a similar quest to keep prior debt serviceable and generate even more debt induced economic growth, have pushed beyond the realm of reality into negative interest rates. In fact, an astonishing $10 trillion worth of sovereign bonds now trade with a negative yield.

The evidence of these failed policies is apparent. However one must consider the basic facts and peer beyond the narrative being fed to the public by the central bankers, Wall Street, and politicians. There is nothing normal about any of this. It therefore goes without saying, but we will say it anyway – investment strategies based on historic norms should be carefully reconsidered.

*  *  *

Michael Lebowitz of 720 Global Research is an investment consultant, specializing in macroeconomic research, valuations, asset allocation, and risk management. 

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Meet Donald Zuckerberg – Facebook Founder Builds ‘Oppressive’ Wall Around $100 Million Hawaii Property

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 2.19.54 PM

Just in case you’re still wondering why the world’s so-called “elites” are losing credibility and respect faster than Mario Draghi can say “whatever it takes…”

New York Magazine reports:

In April, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told a crowd of developers that he heard “fearful voices calling for building walls.” At the time it was widely assumed he was talking about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. But perhaps he was just hearing the voices echoing across his enormous Hawaiian estate?

continue reading

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From Brexit Wounds To Buying Panic (In Bonds & Stocks)

Record low bond yields, Brexit uncertainty, and the biggest crash in home sales in 6 years… BTFD you idiot!!

But "we're halfway there…"

 

Since the Brexit vote, UK's FTSE 100 is now positive and by far the world's best performing stock market since Thursday's close…

 

Volume has been non-existent during the bounce…

 

US equities have retraced almost two-thirds of their losses (near Fib61.8% retrace in Dow and S&P…notice that both are now perfectly back to the Brexit bounce highs from Monday

 

Leaving Trannies and Small Caps worst since pre-Brexit still but bouncing back…

 

With futures showing better the bounce to some supportive levels…

 

And US equities completely decoupled from bonds, bullion, and cable…

 

Amid a massive short squeeze…biggest since 2011

 

VIX has collapsed in the last 3 days – holding support around the 50- and 100-day moving averages…

 

With the VIX hedge unwinds driving the fear index below its pre-Brexit lows…

 

Just in case you were not conmpletely convinved of what fucking farce this market is – here is NKE, which had a dismal report last night just had its best day in 4 months – swinging from down over 6% to up almost 3% (as index buyers lifted The Dow member)…

 

But while bank stocks have bounced ahead of CCAR, they remain down notably post-Brexit…

 

Treasury yields were mixed today… as 2Y continued to underperform the rest of the curve… but note that the longer-end underperformed late on today as chatter of rate-locks hitting the market ahead of a heavy calendar expected…

 

Driving 2s30s to its flattest since Jan 2008 (recession) but bank stocks didn't care…

 

But 10Y and 30Y neared record low closes…before bouncing late on (with 10Y >1.50%)

 

The USD Index slipped lower again…

 

As the post-Brexit Cable bounce continues…Despite being down hard from the 1.50 pre-Brexit level – the bounce has been imporessive off the 1.31 lows…seems like 1.40 brexit bounce may be target but today seemed to run out of steam quickly..

 

Against the weaker USD, commodities all rose on the day with PMs doing well early and then crude melting up later on…

 

Silver topped Brexit highs…

 

Following API last night and DOE today, the machines had only one thing in mind… on yet another NYMEX close ramp

 

Charts: Bloomberg

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