Guest Post: Some Thoughts On Debts, Deficits & Economic Growth

Submitted by Lance Roberts of STA Wealth Management,

I recently posted some thoughts on "The Most Dangerous Line Uttered During The Debt Ceiling Debate" in which I discussed the idea of having to increase the government's debt limit in order to pay its bills.  The premise was rather simple.  As the government continues to increase its borrowing in order to meet spending requirements; the additional interest service requirement detracts dollars from productive uses.  As a consequence, over time, economic growth has slowed. This article, along with my conclusions, elicited some excellent questions that deserved some follow up.

Scott N. stated that:

"Not all government debt is created equal. We have bad deficits and good deficits. Good deficits are used to fund investments that will have a positive rate of return, properly determined. Those contribute to GDP."

He is absolutely correct.  This comment falls within the realm of Austrian economics which is something that I addressed in a previous missive entitled"The Breaking Point:"

"The Austrian business cycle theory attempts to explain business cycles through a set of ideas. The theory views business cycles 'as the inevitable consequence of excessive growth in bank credit, exacerbated by inherently damaging and ineffective central bank policies, which cause interest rates to remain too low for too long, resulting in excessive credit creation, speculative economic bubbles and lowered savings.'

 

Veil-Of-Money-Theory-102113

 

In other words, the proponents of Austrian economics believe that a sustained period of low interest rates, and excessive credit creation, results in a volatile and unstable imbalance between saving and investment.   In other words, low interest rates tend to stimulate borrowing from the banking system which in turn leads, as one would expect, to the expansion of credit.   This expansion of credit then, in turn, creates an expansion of the supply of money.

 

Therefore, the credit-sourced boom becomes unsustainable as artificially stimulated borrowing seeks out diminishing investment opportunities. Finally, the credit-sourced boom results in widespread malinvestments. When the exponential credit creation can no longer be sustained a 'credit contraction' occurs which ultimately shrinks the money supply and the markets finally 'clear' which then causes resources to be reallocated back towards more efficient uses."

 

This point was also addressed by Dr. Woody Brock during his presentation at the 2012 Altegris Investment Conference, wherein he stated (these are my personal notes):

"There is a huge debate over 'Austerity' versus 'Spending' which leads to increases in debt.

 

High debt to GDP ratios must ultimately be reduced. There is no question of this.

 

Rising debt levels erode economic prosperity over time. However, the word, 'deficit', has no real meaning – let me explain.

 

Let's take two different countries.

 

Country (A) spends $4 Trillion with receipts of only $3 Trillion. This leaves Country (A) with a $1 Trillion deficit. In order to make up the difference between the spending and the income; the Treasury must issue $1 Trillion in new debt. The new debt that is issued is only used to finance current spending (welfare) but generates no income. Therefore, the gap that is created continues to grow as the cycle is repeated.

 

Country (B) spends $4 Trillion and receives only $3 Trillion in income. However, the $1 Trillion of excess debt created was invested into projects and infrastructure that produced a positive rate of return. There is no real deficit as the rate of return on the investments ultimately fills the 'deficit' by paying for itself.

 

There is no disagreement about the need for government spending. The disagreement is with the abuse and waste of it.

 

Keynes' theory is that when private spending is low it should then be stimulated with public spending. The problem with this theory, while correct, is that it was badly abused. When the economy is strong and growing the public spending should be sharply reduced. This was never the case.

 

The problem today is that government spending is primarily unproductive in nature (roughly 70%) with only 30% going towards productive investments.  This is against the Arrow-Kurtz principles.  Today we are borrowing our children's future with debt. 'We are witnessing the 'hosing' of the young' he stated.

 

The U.S. has the labor, resources and capital for a resurgence of a 'Marshall Plan'. The development of infrastructure has high rates of return on each dollar spent. However, instead, the government spent trillions bailing out banks and supporting Wall Street which has had virtually NO rate of return."

The problem is that we have been running deficits since the beginning of 1980.  These deficits have retarded economic growth as the borrowed dollars were used for non-productive purposes.  Currently, it requires in excess of $5 of debt to produce $1 of economic growth.  This is ultimately unsustainable.  The chart below shows the annual change in GDP, the annual net increase in Federal Debt and the surplus or deficit.  The red dotted line is the polynomial trend line of the annual rates of economic growth.

Debt-GDP-Deficit-102113

This chart goes to address the point made by John L. in relation to economic growth rates versus debt:

"A vast majority will agree with your assertion. But the time lag effects I have pointed out have been bothering me ever since the seemingly perfect Rogoff and Reinhart bubble got deflated. That was another 'question everything' wake-up call."

This is an excellent point.  There are MANY factors that go into the reality that economic growth rates are slowing.  In fact, as I stated in "A History Of Real GDP & Population Growth" we are now running the lowest rates of economic growth in the history of the U.S.   This is not only because of the massive increases in debt but also to low rates of inflation, population growth, and real employment and wages. 

In regards to Reinhart & Rogoff's work on debt levels versus economic growth, while there was great controversy over the calculation of certain metrics, the end conclusion that rising debt does impede economic growth remains intact.  (R&R's Response To Critics Here) The only question is whether it is 90% or 130% or some other level.  The reality is that the "bang moment" has much to do with the underlying metrics of the country in question such as whether they are a sovereign currency issuer, a net exporter or importer, population growth, dependency ratios, wage levels, and, now, the level of central bank interventions.

The questions posed by John, and Scott, were excellent.  My hope is that I have made a decent attempt at answering them.  There are no simple solutions to the issues that currently plague the U.S. and, unfortunately, the latest debt ceiling debate/government shutdown did nothing to institute any reforms whatsoever.  The "kick-the-can" solutions by fiscal policy makers continues to show little understanding about the drivers of real economic growth, the need to reduce governmental dependency or a real "wealth effect" that impacts more than just 1% of the population.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/HZGFd4td02k/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Guest Post: Some Thoughts On Debts, Deficits & Economic Growth

Submitted by Lance Roberts of STA Wealth Management,

I recently posted some thoughts on "The Most Dangerous Line Uttered During The Debt Ceiling Debate" in which I discussed the idea of having to increase the government's debt limit in order to pay its bills.  The premise was rather simple.  As the government continues to increase its borrowing in order to meet spending requirements; the additional interest service requirement detracts dollars from productive uses.  As a consequence, over time, economic growth has slowed. This article, along with my conclusions, elicited some excellent questions that deserved some follow up.

Scott N. stated that:

"Not all government debt is created equal. We have bad deficits and good deficits. Good deficits are used to fund investments that will have a positive rate of return, properly determined. Those contribute to GDP."

He is absolutely correct.  This comment falls within the realm of Austrian economics which is something that I addressed in a previous missive entitled"The Breaking Point:"

"The Austrian business cycle theory attempts to explain business cycles through a set of ideas. The theory views business cycles 'as the inevitable consequence of excessive growth in bank credit, exacerbated by inherently damaging and ineffective central bank policies, which cause interest rates to remain too low for too long, resulting in excessive credit creation, speculative economic bubbles and lowered savings.'

 

Veil-Of-Money-Theory-102113

 

In other words, the proponents of Austrian economics believe that a sustained period of low interest rates, and excessive credit creation, results in a volatile and unstable imbalance between saving and investment.   In other words, low interest rates tend to stimulate borrowing from the banking system which in turn leads, as one would expect, to the expansion of credit.   This expansion of credit then, in turn, creates an expansion of the supply of money.

 

Therefore, the credit-sourced boom becomes unsustainable as artificially stimulated borrowing seeks out diminishing investment opportunities. Finally, the credit-sourced boom results in widespread malinvestments. When the exponential credit creation can no longer be sustained a 'credit contraction' occurs which ultimately shrinks the money supply and the markets finally 'clear' which then causes resources to be reallocated back towards more efficient uses."

 

This point was also addressed by Dr. Woody Brock during his presentation at the 2012 Altegris Investment Conference, wherein he stated (these are my personal notes):

"There is a huge debate over 'Austerity' versus 'Spending' which leads to increases in debt.

 

High debt to GDP ratios must ultimately be reduced. There is no question of this.

 

Rising debt levels erode economic prosperity over time. However, the word, 'deficit', has no real meaning – let me explain.

 

Let's take two different countries.

 

Country (A) spends $4 Trillion with receipts of only $3 Trillion. This leaves Country (A) with a $1 Trillion deficit. In order to make up the difference between the spending and the income; the Treasury must issue $1 Trillion in new debt. The new debt that is issued is only used to finance current spending (welfare) but generates no income. Therefore, the gap that is created continues to grow as the cycle is repeated.

 

Country (B) spends $4 Trillion and receives only $3 Trillion in income. However, the $1 Trillion of excess debt created was invested into projects and infrastructure that produced a positive rate of return. There is no real deficit as the rate of return on the investments ultimately fills the 'deficit' by paying for itself.

 

There is no disagreement about the need for government spending. The disagreement is with the abuse and waste of it.

 

Keynes' theory is that when private spending is low it should then be stimulated with public spending. The problem with this theory, while correct, is that it was badly abused. When the economy is strong and growing the public spending should be sharply reduced. This was never the case.

 

The problem today is that government spending is primarily unproductive in nature (roughly 70%) with only 30% going towards productive investments.  This is against the Arrow-Kurtz principles.  Today we are borrowing our children's future with debt. 'We are witnessing the 'hosing' of the young' he stated.

 

The U.S. has the labor, resources and capital for a resurgence of a 'Marshall Plan'. The development of infrastructure has high rates of return on each dollar spent. However, instead, the government spent trillions bailing out banks and supporting Wall Street which has had virtually NO rate of return."

The problem is that we have been running deficits since the beginning of 1980.  T
hese deficits have retarded economic growth as the borrowed dollars were used for non-productive purposes.  Currently, it requires in excess of $5 of debt to produce $1 of economic growth.  This is ultimately unsustainable.  The chart below shows the annual change in GDP, the annual net increase in Federal Debt and the surplus or deficit.  The red dotted line is the polynomial trend line of the annual rates of economic growth.

Debt-GDP-Deficit-102113

This chart goes to address the point made by John L. in relation to economic growth rates versus debt:

"A vast majority will agree with your assertion. But the time lag effects I have pointed out have been bothering me ever since the seemingly perfect Rogoff and Reinhart bubble got deflated. That was another 'question everything' wake-up call."

This is an excellent point.  There are MANY factors that go into the reality that economic growth rates are slowing.  In fact, as I stated in "A History Of Real GDP & Population Growth" we are now running the lowest rates of economic growth in the history of the U.S.   This is not only because of the massive increases in debt but also to low rates of inflation, population growth, and real employment and wages. 

In regards to Reinhart & Rogoff's work on debt levels versus economic growth, while there was great controversy over the calculation of certain metrics, the end conclusion that rising debt does impede economic growth remains intact.  (R&R's Response To Critics Here) The only question is whether it is 90% or 130% or some other level.  The reality is that the "bang moment" has much to do with the underlying metrics of the country in question such as whether they are a sovereign currency issuer, a net exporter or importer, population growth, dependency ratios, wage levels, and, now, the level of central bank interventions.

The questions posed by John, and Scott, were excellent.  My hope is that I have made a decent attempt at answering them.  There are no simple solutions to the issues that currently plague the U.S. and, unfortunately, the latest debt ceiling debate/government shutdown did nothing to institute any reforms whatsoever.  The "kick-the-can" solutions by fiscal policy makers continues to show little understanding about the drivers of real economic growth, the need to reduce governmental dependency or a real "wealth effect" that impacts more than just 1% of the population.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/HZGFd4td02k/story01.htm Tyler Durden

You Break the Law Every Day … Without Even Knowing It

Wired notes:

James Duane, a professor at Regent Law School and former defense attorney, notes in his excellent lecture on why it is never a good idea to talk to the police:

Estimates of the current size of the body of federal criminal law vary. It has been reported that the Congressional Research Service cannot even count the current number of federal crimes. These laws are scattered in over 50 titles of the United States Code, encompassing roughly 27,000 pages. Worse yet, the statutory code sections often incorporate, by reference, the provisions and sanctions of administrative regulations promulgated by various regulatory agencies under congressional authorization. Estimates of how many such regulations exist are even less well settled, but the ABA thinks there are ”nearly 10,000.”

If the federal government can’t even count how many laws there are, what chance does an individual have of being certain that they are not acting in violation of one of them?

As Supreme Court Justice Breyer elaborates:

The complexity of modern federal criminal law, codified in several thousand sections of the United States Code and the virtually infinite variety of factual circumstances that might trigger an investigation into a possible violation of the law, make it difficult for anyone to know, in advance, just when a particular set of statements might later appear (to a prosecutor) to be relevant to some such investigation.

For instance, did you know that it is a federal crime to be in possession of a lobster under a certain size? It doesn’t matter if you bought it at a grocery store, if someone else gave it to you, if it’s dead or alive, if you found it after it died of natural causes, or even if you killed it while acting in self defense. You can go to jail because of a lobster.

 

If the federal government had access to every email you’ve ever written and every phone call you’ve ever made, it’s almost certain that they could find something you’ve done which violates a provision in the 27,000 pages of federal statues or 10,000 administrative regulations. You probably do have something to hide, you just don’t know it yet.

And that’s just federal laws.

Crazy State Laws


Here is a small sample of state and local laws which are claimed to be on the books as of today*:

Alabama

  • One is not allowed to play dominoes on Sundays
  • Men are not allowed to spit in front of the fairer sex
  • One is not allowed to wear a fake mustache to church

Alaska

  • It is legal to shoot bears, but walking up to a sleeping bear to take a photograph is strictly prohibited
  • It is prohibited to view a moose from an airplane

Arizona

  • Cars cannot be driven in reverse in Glendale, Arizona
  • An ordinance passed in Nogales prohibits wearing suspenders
  • Women are not allowed to wear pants in Tucson

Arkansas

  • Mispronouncing the name of the state of Arkansas is illegal

California

  • It is illegal to eat an orange sitting in a bathtub
  • In Riverside, one cannot carry their lunch down the street between 11 am to 1 pm.  Kissing on the lips is illegal in that town … unless both parties wipe their lips with carbonized rose water
  • A person is not allowed to wear cowboy boots in Blythe, if he does not own at least two cows
  • It is illegal to cry on the witness stand in Los Angeles
  • Cats and dogs in Ventura County can have sex only if they have the permit to do so
  • The copyright to the term ‘San Francisco’ is held by the city of San Francisco One cannot manufacture any item with the name San Francisco without the permission from the city

Connecticut

  • It is illegal to dispose of used razor blades
  • It is against the law to train dogs for obedience or any other purpose
  • It is illegal to kiss your wife on a Sunday in Hartford
  • It’s against the law to eat in your car, in Bloomfield

Delaware

  • It is illegal for anyone to fly over any water body without sufficient supplies of food and water

Florida

  • A husband is not allowed to kiss his wife’s breast
  • Only the missionary position is legal when having sex
  • It is an offense to bathe naked
  • It’s a crime to parachute on Sundays
  • Women are fined for falling asleep under the hair dryer and so is the salon owner

Georgia

  • In Jonesboro, it is illegal to say “Oh, Boy”

Hawaii

  • One is fined if one does not own a boat

Idaho

  • A man cannot gift his lover a box of candy that is less than fifty pounds in weight
  • It is strictly prohibited to walk along the street with a red-tipped cane
  • It is a crime to ride a merry-go-round on Sundays

Illinois

  • All bachelors should be called master, not mister, when addressed by their female counterparts according to a state law
  • It is illegal to speak English. The officially recognized language is ‘American’
  • It is illegal for barbers to use their fingers to apply shaving cream on a customer’s face
  • It is illegal for women over 200 pounds wearing shorts to ride horses, in Chicago
  • An individual may be arrested for vagrancy, if he does not have at least one dollar bill on person

Indiana

  • All males 18 to 50 years old must work six days a year on public roads
  • It is illegal to indulge in ‘spiteful gossip&
    rsquo; and ‘talking behind a person’s back’
  • It is illegal to take baths between the months of October and March
  • Mustaches are illegal if the bearer has a tendency to habitually kiss other humans
  • One is not allowed to carry a cocktail from the bar to a table; only the waiter or waitress can do it

Iowa

  • A man with a mustache may never kiss a woman in public
  • The ‘Ice Cream Man’ and his truck are banned in Indianola
  • Kisses may last for as much as, but no more than, five minutes
  • Within the city limits, a man is not allowed to wink at any woman he does not know in Ottumwa
  • A husband in Ames is not allowed to drink more than 3 gulps of beer while lying in bed with his wife after making love or holding the wife in his arms

Kansas

  • In Kansas City, one cannot say the name ‘George Washington’ without adding the phrase ‘blessed be his name’
  • Pedestrians crossing the highways at night must wear tail lights

Kentucky

  • No female weighing between 90 and 200 pounds shall appear in a bathing suit on any highway within the state, unless she be escorted by at least two officers, or unless she be armed with a club.
  • A person needs a license to walk around nude in his/her property
  • A woman may not buy a hat without her husband’s permission in Owensboro

Louisiana

  • It is considered illegal for a woman to drive a car unless her husband is waving a flag in front of it

Maine

  • Shoelaces must be tied while walking down the street in Portland
  • It is illegal to blow one’s nose in public in Waterville

Maryland

  • Eating while swimming in the ocean is prohibited in Maryland
  • It is illegal to mistreat oysters in Baltimore
  • A kiss more than one second is illegal in Halethrope
  • A woman is not allowed to go through her husband’s pocket while he is sleeping
  • One cannot swear within the city limits of Baltimore

Massachusetts

  • Any person caught eating peanuts in church may be jailed for up to one year
  • It is illegal to take a bath unless prescribed by a physician, in Boston
  • It is illegal to peep into the windows of automobiles in Milford

Michigan

  • A wife’s hair belongs to her husband, and it is illegal to alter her hairstyle without his permission
  • One may not swear in front of women and children
  • It is illegal to sleep in a bathtub in Detroit

Minnesota

  • It is compulsory for all men driving a motorcycle to wear shirts
  • Each and every man in Brainerd is required to grow a beard by law
  • No child under the age of 12 is allowed to talk over the phone unless monitored by a parent in Blue Earth
  • In Alexandria, it is illegal for any man to make love to his wife with the smell of garlic, onions or sardines in his breath If the wife requests him, it becomes mandatory for the husband to brush his teeth
  • Hamburgers are not to be eaten on Sundays in St Cloud

Mississippi

  • It is illegal for a man to be sexually aroused in public
  • It is illegal to create unnecessary noises in Oxford

Missouri

  • It is illegal for four unrelated women to rent an apartment together (to prevent prostitution)
  • Yard waste may be burned any day except on Sundays, in Buckner
  • Hard objects cannot be thrown by hand in Excelsior Springs
  • Dancing is strictly prohibited in Purdy

Montana

  • It is considered felony for a wife to open her husband’s mail
  • It is illegal for a man and a woman to have sex in any position other than missionary style
  • It is illegal for unmarried women to fish without a companion

Nebraska

  • If a child cannot hold back a burp during church service, the parents can be arrested
  • It is not legal for a tavern owner to serve beer unless a nice kettle of soup is also brewing
  • A man is not allowed to run around with a shaved chest
  • It is illegal to sleep naked in a hotel/motel room
  • The owner of every hotel in Hastings is required to provide each guest with a clean and pressed nightshirt. No couple, even if they are married, may sleep together in the nude. Nor may they have sex unless they are wearing one of these clean, white cotton nightshirts
  • Barbers are forbidden from eating onions between 7 am and 7 pm, in Waterloo

Nevada

  • Sex without a condom is considered illegal
  • Men who wear mustaches are forbidden from kissing women, in Eureka
  • Walking down the street without a mask is illegal in Elko (the  prevalent explanation is that the city council thought it would be easier to identify robbers if everyone wore a mask, and they could describe the specific mask worn by the robber)

New Hampshire

  • New Hampshire law forbids you to tap your feet, nod your head, or in any way keep time to the music in a tavern, restaurant, or cafe
  • Citizens may not relieve themselves while looking up on Sundays
  • Any cattle that crosses state roads must be fitted with a device to gather its feces

New Jersey

  • It is against the law to ‘frown’ at a police officer
  • One may not dance or wear shorts on the main avenue
  • All cats must wear three bells to warn birds of their whereabouts
  • It is forbidden for a woman, on a Sunday, to walk down Broad Street without wearing a petticoat
  • It is illegal to buy ice cream after 6 pm, in Newark
  • Lovers in Liberty Corner should avoid satisfying their lustful urges in a parked car. If the horn accidentally sounds while they are frolicking behind the wheel, the couple can face a jail term

New Mexico

  • It’s forbidden for a female to appear unshaven in public in Carrizozo, New Mexico

New York

  • While riding in an elevator, one must talk to no one, and fold his hands while looking towards the door
  • It is illegal for a woman to be on the street wearing ‘body hugging clothing’
  • A fine of $25 can be levied for flirting. This is an old law that specifically prohibits men from turning around on any city street and looking ‘at a woman in that way’. If convicted a second time for a crime of this magnitude, it calls for the violating male to be forced to wear a ‘pair of horse-blinders’ wherever and whe
    never he goes outside for a stroll
  • A man can’t go outside while wearing a jacket and pants that do not match, in Carmel
  • It is illegal to eat on the street in residential neighborhoods, and the only beverage you can drink on the beach is water in a clear plastic bottle, in Ocean City

North Carolina

  • All couples staying overnight in a hotel must have a room with double beds that are at least two feet apart. Making love in the space between the beds is strictly forbidden
  • In Charlotte, women must be swathed in at least 16 yards of fabric before stepping out into public
  • Fights between cats and dogs are prohibited in Barber
  • Before a man asks for a woman’s hand in marriage, he must be inspected by all the barnyard animals on the young woman’s family’s property, to ensure a harmonious farm life, in Raleigh
  • It is required that one must pay a property tax on their dog, in Rocky Mount

North Dakota

  • It is illegal to lie down and fall asleep with your shoes on
  • It’s against state law to serve beer and pretzels at the same time in any bar or restaurant
  • You may be jailed for wearing a hat while dancing, or even for wearing a hat to a function where dancing is taking place, in Fargo

Ohio

  • It is against the law to roller skate without notifying the police
  • Women are forbidden from wearing patent leather shoes (to avoid men seeing the reflection of their underwear)
  • It is illegal to run out of gas
  • Breastfeeding is not allowed in public
  • It’s illegal to catch mice without a hunting license in Cleveland
  • Any person who leans against a public building will be subject to fines in Clinton County
  • It’s illegal for a woman to strip off her clothing while standing in front of a man’s picture, in Oxford
  • You cannot eat a donut and walk backwards on a city street

Oklahoma

  • Women are forbidden from doing their own hair without being licensed by the state
  • Dogs must have a permit signed by the mayor in order to congregate in groups of three or more on private property
  • By law, a kiss can last for 3 minutes, in Tulsa
  • It is against the law to open a soda bottle without the supervision of a licensed engineer, in Tulsa

Oregon

  • One may not bathe without wearing ‘suitable clothing’, i.e. that which covers one’s body from neck to knee
  • It is illegal to whisper ‘dirty’ things in your lover’s ear during sex
  • Anyone with a bad reputation is prohibited from distributing malt beverages, in Oregon

Pennsylvania

  • Any motorist driving along a country road at night must stop every mile and send up a rocket signal, wait 10 minutes for the road to be cleared of livestock, and continue
  • Any motorist who sights a team of horses coming towards him must pull well off the road, cover his car with a blanket or canvas that blends with the countryside, and let the horses pass. If the horses appear skittish, the motorist must take his car apart, piece by piece, and hide it under the nearest bushes
  • No man may purchase alcohol without written consent from his wife
  • It is illegal to sing in your bathtub
  • Ministers are forbidden from performing marriages when either the bride or groom is drunk
  • Men are banned from getting aroused in public, in Allentown

Rhode Island

It is illegal to sell toothpaste and a toothbrush to the same customer on a Sunday, in Providence

South Dakota

  • Movies that show police officers being struck, beaten, or treated in an offensive manner, are forbidden

Tennessee

  • It is illegal for a woman to call a man for a date
  • It is illegal for a woman to drive a car unless there is a man either running or walking in front of it waving a red flag to warn the approaching motorists and pedestrians, in Memphis

Texas

  • The entire Encyclopedia Britannica is banned in Texas because it contains a formula for making beer at home
  • One needs a 5 dollar permit before going barefoot
  • It is illegal for kids to have unusual haircuts, in Mesquite

Utah

  • It is illegal not to drink milk
  • It is a felony to persistently tread on the cracks between paving stones on the sidewalk of a state highway

Vermont

  • Denying the existence of God is considered illegal
  • Women must obtain written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth

Virginia

  • All bathtubs are to be kept outside in the yard and not inside the house
  • One cannot work on a Sunday
  • Driving without shoes is prohibited
  • Children are not allowed to go trick-or-treating on Halloween
  • It’s against the law to tickle a girl under her chin with a feather duster in order to get her attention, in Newport
  • It is illegal to kick your wife out of bed, in Lebanon

Washington

  • One needs a license to sell condoms in Washington state

West Virginia

  • It is unlawful for chickens to lay eggs before 8 am and after 4 pm
  • One is not allowed to snooze on the train
  • It’s against the law to eat candy less than an hour and a half before church service in the town of Salem

Wisconsin

  • Car dealers cannot sell cars on Sundays
  • It is illegal to wake a fireman when he is asleep

Wyoming

  • Women cannot stand within 5 feet of a bar while drinking
  • One is not allowed to take pictures of a rabbit during the month of June
  • In Cheyenne, residents cannot take a shower on Wednesdays

Do you imagine that it is possible for you to go through life without violating a federal, state or local law?   It’s impossible.

As Stalin’s notorious chief of secret police famously said:

Show me the man and I will find the crime.

NSA Spying Can Trap You In Suspected Wrongdoing

Top NSA whistleblower William Binney – the former head of the National Security Agency’s global digital data gathering program – has repeatedly explained that just because you “haven’t done anything wrong” doesn’t mean you can’t be severely harmed by spying:

The problem is, if they think they’re not doing anything that’s wrong, they don’t get to define that. The central government does.

Binney explains that the government is storing everything, and creating a searchable database … to be used whenever it wants, for any purpose it wants (even just going after someone it doesn’t like).

And he notes that the government will go after anyone who is on its enemies list:

If you ever get on their enemies list, like Petraeus did, then you can be drawn into that surveillance.

Similarly, Edward Snowden said:

Because even if you’re not doing anything wrong you’re being watched and recorded. And the storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude … to where it’s getting to the point where you don’t have to have done anything wrong. You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody – even by a wrong call. And then they can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with. And attack you on that basis to sort to derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer.

 

[If people don't oppose the surveillance state now] it will be turnkey tyranny.

Remember, it’s not just the NSA which is spying on your. Numerous government agencies are spying on all of your data, and sharing that information with federal, state and local law enforcement, the drug enforcement agency, the IRS and many others. So if any of those agencies thinks – rightly or wrongly – that you might have broken a law, they might target you.

 

Get it?

Mass surveillance is incredibly dangerous … and no one is immune.

* We’ve checked some of these, and verified that they are still on the books today.  We have not checked all of them.

 


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/dTM6XU25oFM/story01.htm George Washington

Spot The Odd One Out

All of these things are not like the other… except one!

 

In all the following charts, the green line is the S&P 500…

 

Crude Oil is diverging…

 

High Yield Credit is diverging…

 

US Macro Fundamentals are diverging…

 

10Y Yields are diverging…

 

The USD is diverging…

 

Earnings expectations are diverging…

and Current earnings are diverging…

 

Current US GDP is diverging…

 

US GDP expectations are diverging…

 

and Dr. Copper is diverging…

 

But… there is one "asset" that is not diverging from the S&P 500…

 

Still think its "all about the fundamentals"…?

 


    



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Dan Loeb’s Third Point Returns 10% Of Capital Amid “Concerns About The Global Economy”

It seemed as if this morning’s exuberant run into US equities would never stop but it would appear that comments from none other than Dan Loeb has (for now) put an end to the exuberance. With fundamentals collapsing, and even Cramer’s “Cult stocks” tumbling, today’s rally was yet another blindlingly obvious insight into the fact that this market is entirely artificial and Third Point’s Dan Loeb, worried about the global economy, has reduced his exposure to equities. Furthermore, he plans to return 10% of capital to investors. Not exactly the wealth-effect enhancing, confidence-inspiring action that the Fed hoped for…

Even the cult stocks are rolling over…

 

Via Third Point:

On US Equities:

These sales decreased long equity exposure, a move consistent with our growing concerns at the time about the global economy

Year-End Return of Investor Capital

Third Point’s assets under management are currently $14 billion. Our increased size is primarily a result of a net annualized return since January 1, 2009 of 24% to investors in the flagship Partners fund and 29% in our slightly levered Ultra fund, which have led growth in the capital base since our initial close to new inflows in mid-2011. In an effort to moderate this growth, we have decided to give back a portion of 2013’s cumulative profits to investors.

 

We plan to return approximately 10% of capital in our private funds. This amount will be based on year-end account balances and will include any requested redemptions from investors, the deadline for which is October 31st. The capital return will be made to all applicable investors on a pro rata basis, but will exclude employee investments and the investment from our listed vehicle feeder fund (which will separately pay a redemption-funded dividend).

 

It seems increasingly the biggest (and smartest) players in the room are sensing the music is beginning to stop… Soros, Oaktree, and Klarman’s Baupost among many others…


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/R48dzawC5Uo/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Dan Loeb's Third Point Returns 10% Of Capital Amid "Concerns About The Global Economy"

It seemed as if this morning’s exuberant run into US equities would never stop but it would appear that comments from none other than Dan Loeb has (for now) put an end to the exuberance. With fundamentals collapsing, and even Cramer’s “Cult stocks” tumbling, today’s rally was yet another blindlingly obvious insight into the fact that this market is entirely artificial and Third Point’s Dan Loeb, worried about the global economy, has reduced his exposure to equities. Furthermore, he plans to return 10% of capital to investors. Not exactly the wealth-effect enhancing, confidence-inspiring action that the Fed hoped for…

Even the cult stocks are rolling over…

 

Via Third Point:

On US Equities:

These sales decreased long equity exposure, a move consistent with our growing concerns at the time about the global economy

Year-End Return of Investor Capital

Third Point’s assets under management are currently $14 billion. Our increased size is primarily a result of a net annualized return since January 1, 2009 of 24% to investors in the flagship Partners fund and 29% in our slightly levered Ultra fund, which have led growth in the capital base since our initial close to new inflows in mid-2011. In an effort to moderate this growth, we have decided to give back a portion of 2013’s cumulative profits to investors.

 

We plan to return approximately 10% of capital in our private funds. This amount will be based on year-end account balances and will include any requested redemptions from investors, the deadline for which is October 31st. The capital return will be made to all applicable investors on a pro rata basis, but will exclude employee investments and the investment from our listed vehicle feeder fund (which will separately pay a redemption-funded dividend).

 

It seems increasingly the biggest (and smartest) players in the room are sensing the music is beginning to stop… Soros, Oaktree, and Klarman’s Baupost among many others…


    



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Chart Of The Day: Average New York Banker Makes 5.2 More Than Average Non-Banker

The annual New York State Comptroller report on “The Securities Industry in New York City” is traditionally full of relevant information about the state of Wall Street (previously here) from the perspective of the biggest beneficiary of a strong and vibrant Wall Street: the New Your State tax authority which is happy to collect as much taxes on soaring Wall Street bonuses as the law, and IRS audits, will allow. We list the full report highlights below, but the most salient point is the following: in New York City, the average banker made $360,700 in 2012. This is 5.2 more than the average non-financial job in the city (i.e., all other jobs).

The good news: This is one whole turn lower than the peak 6.2x hit in 2007.

The bad news: Twenty-five years ago, this number was 2.0x.

Which is also the reason why a few hundred thousand bankers pray to
Alan Greenspan every night, and sacrifice a filet mignon in gratitude to
both him and the Great Moderation, which allowed this mindboggling run
up to occur in the first place.

More from the report:

The average salary (including bonuses) paid to securities industry employees in New York City grew rapidly from 2003 through 2007, when it peaked at $401,500. The average salary fell sharply in 2009 as the financial crisis deepened, but much of the loss was regained in 2010. Since then, salaries have remained stable, averaging $360,700 in 2012 (see Figure 4). While the 2012 average salary was less than the 2007 peak, it was higher than in any year prior to 2007, and was by far the highest average among the City’s major industries.

 

The disparity between the average salary in the City’s securities industry and in the rest of the private sector remains wide, even though recently it has narrowed slightly. In 2012, the average salary in the securities industry was 5.2 times greater than the average in the rest of the private sector ($69,200). At its peak in 2007, the average was 6.2 times greater. Twenty-five years ago, the average salary in the industry was twice as high as in other industries.

Yet looking at the actual amount of bonuses paid out one wouldn’t believe that the ratio was as sticky near its all time highs, as it has been. The chart below shows the amount of actual bonus pool by year on Wall Street. Certainly not at the highs that bankers have grown to expect over the past decade:

So how is the per banker comp still so high? Simple: the number of bankers is being slashed at a pace not seen seen the Lehman bankruptcy.

Why is this important:

OSC estimates that each new job created (or lost) in the securities industry leads to the creation (or loss) of two additional jobs in other industries in the City.

 

The size of the multiplier reflects the high income levels associated with the industry and its importance in the City’s economy. These additional (or fewer) jobs result from Wall Street firms engaging in additional (or fewer) business-to-business transactions (e.g., with professional services firms and other financial firms), and from Wall Street employees increasing (or decreasing) their household spending on such things as restaurants, stores, travel and personal services.

 

OSC also estimates that each Wall Street job created (or lost) results in one additional (or fewer) job elsewhere in New York State, primarily in the City’s suburbs. Many Wall Street employees are commuters, who live and spend in the suburbs, thereby supporting local businesses and generating jobs.

Translation: less Wall Street jobs, much less NY State (and City) taxes.

Here is what the report had to say on the topic of banker bonuses:

Like most businesses, financial firms report compensation (i.e., base salary, fringe benefits and bonuses, including deferred remuneration) on an accrual basis of accounting. As such, cash bonuses paid in January through March of one calendar year (for work performed during the prior calendar year) are reported in the prior year’s financial statements. For example, most of the resources that are being set aside for cash bonuses in 2013 will be paid out during the first quarter of 2014.

 

Previously, most bonuses reflected work done in a given year and were paid in cash. This tended to reward short-term profits at the expense of long-term performance. In response to new regulations and other compensation reforms designed to reduce excessive risk-taking, firms have raised base salaries, and now pay a smaller share of bonuses in the current year while a larger share is deferred to future years in the form of cash, stock options or other forms of compensation. Clawback provisions have also been implemented.6 In addition, a greater share of bonuses is now being paid outside the traditional bonus period, making it harder to distinguish bonuses from base salaries.

 

While these developments have made estimating the size of the cash bonus pool more difficult, they have also  reduced volatility in industry tax payments to the State and City. Collections now reflect an average of bonus payments from several years, allowing strong years to offset weak years.

 

In February 2013, OSC estimated that the cash bonus pool for securities industry workers in New York City paid during the traditional bonus season grew by 8 percent to $20 billion (see Figure 3). The increase in the size of the cash bonus pool reflects a number of developments, including payments received for work done in 2012, when profits were strong, and the realization of bonuses deferred from prior years (including income accelerated into 2012 from future years to avoid the higher federal income tax rates that took effect in  2013).

 

Total compensation for the broker/dealer operations of member firms of the New York Stock Exchange increased by 5.5 percent during the first half of 2013, and an OSC examination of the financial statements of a sample of large and small firms (including firms that engage in a broader range of activities than traditional broker/dealer operations) also found that compensation was higher than last year.7 These trends suggested that bonuses might be higher in 2013, but recent developments have cast doubt on that outlook. Although it is too early to predict the size  of the 2013 bonus pool, bonus awards traditionally vary by firm and by business activity.

Other highlights from the report:

  • The average salary in the securities industry in New York City was
    $360,700 in 2012. While the 2012 average was less than the 2
    007 peak, it
    was higher than in any year prior to 2007, and was 5.2 times greater
    than the  average salary in the rest of the private sector.
  • The securities industry had a strong first half of 2013, with broker/dealer profits of $10.1 billion, but profitability is likely to be lower in the second half of the year.
  • Despite strong profits over the past four years, the securities industry is smaller in New York City than before the financial crisis. Securities industry employment totaled 163,400 jobs in August 2013, 25,600 fewer (13.5 percent) than before the crisis.
  • The securities industry showed strong job growth during the first part of the recovery (adding 9,600 jobs), but since August 2011 it has resumed streamlining and has lost 7,300 jobs.
  • New York City has experienced very strong private sector job growth during the recovery, but the securities industry has made only a small contribution (less than 1 percent). In contrast, the industry played a much larger role in employment growth during prior recoveries.
  • The securities industry is one of the City’s main economic engines. Even though the industry accounted for only 5 percent of private sector jobs in 2012, it accounted for 22 percent of wages.
  • OSC estimates that City tax payments from securities industry-related activities (including capital gains) grew by 27 percent to $3.8 billion last fiscal year, fueled by changes in federal tax rates. This represents the second-highest level on record, and is higher than before the crisis.
  • Last fiscal year, securities-related activities accounted for 16 percent of New York State’s tax revenue and 8.5 percent of New York City’s.
  • Regulatory reform has proceeded at a slow pace. Less than half (40 percent) of the rules required by the Dodd-Frank Act have been completed, although the industry has begun to modify its practices in anticipation of regulatory changes

Full report can be found here.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/SILhmp5EQss/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Panic Buying Continues

Despite NFLX giving back half its after-hours gains, the NASDAQ is surging to new 13-year highs, the S&P cash crosses 1750 (to new all-time highs), and the Dow Transports explodes higher (to yet another record) for the ninth of the last 10 days. All of this as the USD is monkey-hammered and the EUR surges to 2-year highs… Treasury yields are dropping fast (down 5-7bps across the curve). As we noted last week, US equities have caught up entirely to the Fed balance sheet. Gold (back above its 100DMA) and silver are surging and oil is pressing back up towards $100. The reason for all this exuberance: the jobs number was sufficiently horrible it has moved the tapering consensus to March 2014 of beyond…

Gold has broken above its 100DMA…

 

Treasury yields are dropping fast…

 

EURUSD at 2-year highs…

 

US equities just won't stop…

 

and this is why…

Perhaps equities will stall here as they have reached their short-term Fed balance sheet fair value… or not…

 

Charts: Bloomberg


    



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Guest Post: Why We Face Ruin

Originally posted at The World Complex blog,

A nice compendium of UK economic data has recently appeared (h/t NESS). You are encouraged to download data sets for your own nefarious purposes.

As an example, I have decided to plot UK unemployment rate against the measure of confidence I proposed on these pages a couple of years ago. To recap, the confidence ratio is the ratio of outstanding public debt (in dollars) to the dollar value of the country's gold holdings. I chose "confidence" as presumably this ratio can only be high for a country in which investors have great confidence. For those of a different mindset, it can be viewed as a measure of a country's ruin (although it would be better to include other foreign currency reserves).
 

UK unemployment data from the site mentioned above. UK debt came from google public data. UK gold holdings came from the data sets available from the World Gold Council. To find the dollar value of gold holdings, I used averaged annual prices available at Kitco. Average conversion rate of GBP to USD available here (although I don't remember where I got it for the original posting, which was up to 2011).

That is a good-looking example of negative correlation. It tells us that the unemployment falls when the confidence ratio is high. Now, there are three ways for a government to increase that confidence ratio:

1) increase debt

 

2) sell off gold

 

3) pray for the price of gold to fall (obviously in a non-manipulative manner that doesn't direct profits to favoured entities).

The fall in confidence that we observed in the latter half of the last decade was entirely due to the rising price of gold. Look at what that did to the unemployment rate! Clearly the fault of gold-bugs and conspiracy theorists. The rising price of gold completely overrode the excellent work of the British Parliament in driving up the country's debt. As for Gordon Brown, he was a hero! His only flaw was in not going far enough. If he had sold all the UK's gold, imagine how low unemployment would be today!

This wouldn't be a post on the World Complex if we didn't do some kind of state space portrait, so here it is: unemployment rate vs. confidence ratio.

Policy decisions of British Parliament and their impact on unemployment can be followed from the above chart. Clearly the government in the 1970s laboured under the delusion that reducing debts would benefit the economy(1). They were rewarded for their imprudence by spiking unemployment in the early 1980s.

By the mid-1990s, they had discovered the golden ticket. With the rising confidence ratio, the UK was rewarded with a falling unemployment rate. Then came Gordon Brown's heroics–by aggressively selling gold he caused the confidence ratio to fall and the UK was showered with new jobs!

There was a small crisis in the latter part of the last decade. But since then–clearly back on track. If the forward evolution of the system follows a similar catenary to the period 1993-2005, then a mere quadrupling of the confidence ratio will restore the unemployment rate to about 6%. The most prudent way to achieve this would be to immediately sell off 75% of Britain's remaining gold (2).

I find this approach to finances inspiring, and am willing to give it a try. Here at The World Complex, the unemployment rate is unusually high (technically I am welcome to go to the office, but the treasury is empty). Looking at my finances, I see the problem–I have very little debt and high savings (although much lower than they were two years ago, thanks to the ongoing turmoil in the junior mining market). To rectify this oversight, I will be issuing bonds. For reasons of fiscal prudence, I will try to keep my confidence ratio below 100, and will begin an auction for $25 million in debt next Thursday (3). No cheap google ad payouts here!

Notes:

(1) the rising price of gold may have had something to do with this. But this proves my point! Rising gold price = rising unemployment, you naughty gold bugs.

(2) in my opinion it would be too difficult to drive the gold price back down to $300/oz.

(3) securities officers and other sarcastically challenged individuals take note–this is intended as sarcasm. Your participation is welcome.


    



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Goldman: “Weaker Than Expected” Jobs Report Means No Taper Before March

Yesterday Goldman explained why glorious and abysmal job numbers would both be sufficient to propel the Stalingrad and Poor to new ATH. So far, they were right. And while the number was not exactly abysmal (ironically, the market is now hung up on weaker than expected data just to make sure Uncle Ben and Uncle Janet stay around as long as possible), it was, as Goldman’s Jan Hatzius just announced, “somewhat weaker than expected, as the disappointment on September payroll growth was only partly offset by back-month revisions, while average hourly earnings grew more slowly than expected.” He said a bunch of other things too, but the most notable was that “this report makes it more likely that the Fed pushes the first reduction in the pace of its asset purchases into 2014… we think that March is the most likely date under our economic forecast.” And since it is now obvious that the Fed is completely oblivious to what ongoing QE does to high quality collateral (which it is now soaking up at a pace of 0.4% in 10Yr equivs per week), full steam ahead it is. We expect Dudley to get his Hatzius marching orders shortly.

From Goldman:

The unemployment rate ticked down, but benefitted from favorable rounding and a small decline in the participation rate on an unrounded basis. Although December remains a possibility, this report makes it more likely that the Fed pushes the first reduction in the pace of its asset purchases into 2014. While the uncertainty is considerable, we think that March is the most likely date under our economic forecast, and the assumption that the next set of fiscal deadlines proves less disruptive than the most recent set.

MAIN POINTS:

1. Payroll employment rose 148k in September (vs consensus 180k). While August employment growth was revised up?as has been the typical pattern in recent years?July employment growth was revised down, leaving the net revision to the prior two months only +9k. By industry, all of the slowdown in job growth relative to August was found in private service-providing industries, as employment in leisure and hospitality fell 13k (vs. +21k in August) and employment in health and education services rose only 14k (vs +61k in August). In contrast, construction employment rebounded (+20k), potentially due in part to more favorable weather in September, while government added 22k jobs, entirely due to the state and local sector. This morning’s report leaves the 3-month trend in payroll job growth at +143k and the 12-month trend at +185k.

2. The unemployment rate declined by one-tenth to 7.2% to one decimal place (vs consensus 7.3%). On an unrounded basis, the decline was a smaller four basis points to 7.235%. Although employment grew by 133k according to the household survey, on a payroll-consistent basis?adjusting for definitional differences between the two surveys?employment declined 195k. While the labor force participation rate held constant to one decimal place at 63.2%, on an unrounded basis the rate continued to edge down slightly.

3. Average hourly earnings grew only 0.1% in September (vs consensus +0.2%), leaving the 12-month rate of increase at 2.1%. The average hourly workweek was unchanged at 34.5. The index of aggregate weekly hours?the product of workers and hours per worker?grew at an only-modest 1.1% annual rate during Q3.

4. Although December remains a possibility, this report makes it more likely that the Fed pushes the first reduction in the pace of its asset purchases into 2014. While the uncertainty is considerable, we think that March is the most likely date under our economic forecast, and the assumption that the next set of fiscal deadlines proves less disruptive than the most recent set. We continue to expect the first increase in the fed funds target rate in 2016 Q1.

5. With the employment report, manufacturing data, and sentiment surveys in hand, we start our September CAI at 2.6%, down from 3.1% in August.


    



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