by ilene - October 7th, 2010 5:52 pm
Courtesy of Michael Snyder at Economic Collapse
The U.S. economy is being slowly but surely destroyed and many Americans have no idea that it is happening. That is at least partially due to the fact that most financial news is entirely focused on the short-term. Whenever a key economic statistic goes up the financial markets surge and analysts rejoice. Whenever a key economic statistic goes down the financial markets decline and analysts speak of the potential for a "double-dip" recession. You could literally get whiplash as you watch the financial ping pong ball bounce back and forth between good news and bad news. But focusing on short-term statistics is not the correct way to analyze the U.S. economy. It is the long-term trends that reveal the truth. The reality is that there are certain underlying foundational problems that are destroying the U.S. economy a little bit more every single day.
11 of those foundational problems are discussed below. They are undeniable and they are constantly getting worse. If they are not corrected (and there is no indication that they will be) they will destroy not only our economy but also our entire way of life. The sad truth is that it would be hard to understate just how desperate the situation is for the U.S. economy.
Long-Term Trend #1: The Deindustrialization Of America
The United States is being deindustrialized at a pace that is almost impossible to believe. But now that millions upon millions of people have lost their jobs, more Americans than ever are starting to wake up and believe it.
A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 69 percent of Americans now believe that free trade agreements have cost America jobs. Ten years ago the majority of Americans had great faith in the new "global economy" that we were all being merged into, but now the tide has turned.…
by ilene - September 2nd, 2010 10:33 am
Rick’s updated economic charts are less than encouraging – consumer demand is not improving, nor is the recession over as measured by consumer demand for discretionary durable goods. But Rick would argue against a simple Great Recovery and possible a double dip, in favor of a continuation of the original, complex "dip" – The Great Recession. – Ilene
Courtesy of Rick Davis at Consumer Metrics Institute
The "Great Recession" that began in 2008 has had many nuances, some of which can only be seen in data with higher resolution than that provided by the BEA or NBER. Our day-by-day profile of consumer demand helps us understand triggering events while also making it clear that many recent changes in consumer behavior have begun to linger — much as the recession itself now appears to have done.
We have previously reported that consumer demand for discretionary durable goods is now at recessionary levels after starting to contract on a year-over-year basis on January 15, 2010. On the surface this would indicate a "double-dip" recession following the 2008 economic event. We may have inadvertently promoted the "double-dip" aspect of 2010′s contraction by often graphing the two events superimposed upon each other in our "Contraction Watch" chart — as though they were independent episodes:
But to even a casual observer there is something unsettling in the above chart, especially if we’ve been told that the "Great Recession" was a once-in-a-lifetime event that required once-in-a-lifetime amounts of new national debt to fix. Clearly, the 2010 contraction already appears well on the way to equaling or exceeding the "Great Recession" in severity despite those "fixes."
By the end of August, the 2010 contraction had out-lasted the "Great Recession" in duration, and was contracting at a rate that we might expect to see only once in every 15 years. But it is highly unlikely that two fully independent contractions this severe would happen only two years apart — just as the 1937 recession is not generally thought to be just another closely spaced severe recession, but is rather seen in the proper context.
by ilene - July 12th, 2010 10:46 pm
Courtesy of James Howard Kunstler
On a hot Saturday in mid-July in my corner of the country, when everyone else is cavorting on Million Dollar Beach at Lake George, or plying the aisles of the home Depot, or riding their motorcycles in faux-outlaw hordes, I like to slip away to the neglected places where nobody goes. I seek out the places of industrial ruin – there are many around here in the upper Hudson Valley, and they are mostly right along the river itself, because there are many spots where the water tumbles and falls in a way that human beings could capture that power and direct it to useful work.
I always bring my French easel, a wooden contraption ingeniously designed to fold up into a box, to which I have bolted on backpack straps. To me, these ruins of America’s industrial past are as compelling as the ruins of ancient Rome were to Thomas Cole and his painter-contemporaries, who took refuge in history at the exact moment that their own new nation began racing into its industrial future.
I’ve been haunting this particular site in Hudson Falls, New York, all summer so far. Originally called Bakers Falls, it evolved over a hundred-odd years into an extremely complex set of dams, spillways, intakes, revetments, channels, gangways, and hydroelectric bric-a-brac all worked into the crumbly shale that forms the original cliff. From a vantage on the west side of the river, you can clearly read the layered history of industry as though it was a section of sedimentary rock from the Mesozoic.
One thing above all amazes me about these American industrial ruins: they’re not really very old. My grandfather was already reading law and drinking beer when some of this stuff was brand-new (or not even here yet!). Unlike Rome’s long, dawdling descent from greatness, America’s industrial fall seems to have happened in the space of a handclap. I suppose it was in the nature of the fossil fuel fiesta that these activities could only last as long as the basic energy resource was so cheap you hardly needed to figure it into the cost of doing business. Which is not to say that the human element didn’t change, too, since obviously it did – as America went…
by ilene - May 7th, 2010 5:38 pm
Courtesy of Karl Denninger, The Market Ticker
If you had any doubt about what I have been talking about during this entire ramp job off 666 – that the so-called "bull market" was in fact not much more than a handful of institutions buying shares with free Fed money and passing them between one another hoping to distribute them to you - you should be thoroughly disabused of your skepticism after yesterday.
"Revenge of the algorithms" writ large, basically.
We keep talking about how financial innovation has "helped consumers", "helped businesses" and "made markets more efficient."
Let me put this in nice, large letters for you:
That claim is one big fat LIE.
If you need anything more after yesterday to understand that all these "algos" have done is create systemic risk and permit a handful of very large institutions to siphon off more and more of your money into their pockets like an insane hoover vacuum cleaner on steroids, you need a lobotomy.
The crooners are of course out in force this morning, among them Jeff Immelt:
“This is a point in time when the world needs the U.S. to be a beacon of stability, a beacon of reliability,” Immelt said during an interview at the 92nd Street Y in New York with Norman Pearlstine, chairman of Bloomberg Businessweek. “The world doesn’t need the U.S. in a food fight right now, with everything that’s going on in Europe. We should be the safe harbor.”
But what’s his definition of this? Why, to make sure GE can continue to siphon off more and more money from the productive economy via GE Capital!
“Financial services is a very important industry in this country,” Immelt said. “Goldman Sachs has been a partner to GE for a long time. We trust them, they’ve done great work for us.”
Yep – hinky derivatives deals are great for Goldman, and might be great for GE as well. For the rest of the world that actually produces something? Not so much.
“This point about damning Wall Street isn’t good for the American economy,” Immelt said.
“Some theoreticians that convinced themselves that you can have a great, productive country
by ilene - May 4th, 2010 11:07 pm
Lagging GDP Confirms Consumer Slowdown
The Information that was Missing from Last Friday’s GDP Report
The April 30th GDP report issued by the Bureau of Economic Analysis ("BEA") of the U. S. Department of Commerce was a freeze-frame quarterly snapshot of a highly dynamic economy — an economy that another source indicates was in significant transition while the snapshot was being taken.
Compared to the 4th quarter of 2009, the annualized growth rate of the GDP had dropped by 43%. Depending on your point of view this could be interpreted either as a glass that is "half-full" or a glass that is "half-empty":
1) The "half-full" reading would mean that the GDP numbers confirm that the recovery had at least moderated to a historically normal growth rate. In this scenario the good news would have been that "the economy is still growing," albeit at a historically normal rate. The bad news would have been that a normal growth rate would only warrant normal P/E ratios in the equity
2) The "half-empty" reading would have meant that the near halving of the GDP’s growth rate confirmed that (at the factory level) the economy had finally begun to "roll over". If so, the BEA’s announcement portends even lower readings in the quarters to follow.
What was clearly missing in the "half-full/half-empty" debate was a feel for whether the level seen in the snapshot’s glass was stable or still dropping. At the Consumer Metrics Institute our measurements of the web-based consumer "demand" side economy support the "half-empty" reading of the new GDP data. The new GDP numbers (which are subject to at least two revisions) agree with where our "Daily Growth Index" was on November 24th, 2009, 18 weeks prior to the end of 2010′s first calendar quarter — and when that index was in precipitous decline.
Our indexes capture consumer activities in the "demand" side of the economy by mining consumer internet tracking data on a daily basis. This consumer "demand" flows downstream economically to the "supply" side factories over the following 18 weeks:
A look at our "Daily Growth Index" also shows that towards the end of November 2009 the "demand" side economic activity was dropping so quickly that a two week change in the sampling period would make a huge difference in the numbers being reported. If the sampling period had…