by ilene - January 18th, 2011 4:21 pm
Courtesy of Michael Snyder at Economic Collapse
2010 was quite a year, wasn’t it? 2010 will be remembered for a lot of things, but for those living in the United States, one of the main things that last year will be remembered for is economic decline. The number of foreclosure filings set a new record, the number of home repossessions set a new record, the number of bankruptcies went up again, the number of Americans that became so discouraged that they simply quit looking for work reached a new all-time high and the number of Americans on food stamps kept setting a brand new record every single month. Meanwhile, U.S. government debt reached record highs, state government debt reached record highs and local government debt reached record highs. What a mess! In fact, even many of the "good" economic records that were set during 2010 were indications of underlying economic weakness. For example, the price of gold set an all-time record during 2010, but one of the primary reasons for the increase in the price of gold was that the U.S. dollar was rapidly losing value. Most Americans had been hoping that 2010 would be the beginning of better times, but unfortunately economic conditions just kept getting worse.
So will things improve in 2011? That would be nice, but at this point there are not a whole lot of reasons to be optimistic about the economy. The truth is that we are trapped in a period of long-term economic decline and we are now paying the price for decades of horrible decisions.
Amazingly, many of our politicians and many in the mainstream media have declared that "the recession is over" and that the U.S. economy is steadily improving now.
Well, if anyone tries to tell you that the economy got better in 2010, just show them the statistics below. That should shut them up for a while.
The following are 20 new economic records that were set during 2010….
#1 An all-time record of 2.87 million U.S. households received a foreclosure filing in 2010.
#2 The number of homes that were actually repossessed reached the 1 million mark for the first time ever during 2010.
#3 The price of gold moved above $1400 an ounce for the first time ever during 2010.
#4 According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, approximately 1.53 million consumer bankruptcy petitions were filed in 2010, which was up 9 percent…
by Phil Davis - October 8th, 2010 8:36 am
I try to keep politics out of the weekly posts but screw that!
That disgusting, vile, son-of-a-bitch (just my opinion, we report – you decide!) Newt Gingrich is on a 12-city pre-election tour where he is advising Republican candidates to frame the choice for voters between Democrats as "the party of food stamps" while selling the GOP as "the party of paychecks."
With a truly shocking 42M Americans in such dire straits that they need food stamps to make ends meet (and our study of the shopping habits of the poor last week clearly illustrated that this aid is the only way they can eat as they shop the same day the checks come every month), Gingrich this week distributed a memo to Republican hopefuls saying they should use the final month to stress tax and spending cuts as a way to spur job growth while attacking Democratic policies as detrimental that effort.
"It’s perfectly fair to say they are earning the title of the party of food stamps," he said. "By contrast, we have historically since Ronald Reagan of 1980 been the party of job creation."
The party of job creation??? Ha! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha – ha! Ha, ha, ha. Ha! OK, I think I’m done now. Ha! OK, now I can go on (but I’m still giggling). I will sum up the very cogent point I made to Members early this morning by simply saying: Is this out of touch elitist wealth-sucking windbag totally insane or just a big, fat liar? Let’s look at a chart:
What? Don’t like this one? Do you think it’s unfair to keep picking on poor W? I hear this all the time, Obama’s been in office 21 months, he needs to OWN this recession now and we need to stop looking at the idiot who caused it and pretend it was all Obama’s fault since he took office in the month that job losses maxed out at 850,000.
As logical as that line of reasoning may be, I do like to try to keep a historical perspective on things. We republished a full set of charts that illustrate my points from Member Chat over at Seeking Alpha, so you can view them here, but let me share just two that I find relevant. For the first chart, let’s take a look…
by ilene - September 5th, 2010 3:00 pm
Courtesy of Mish
In multiple posts Paul Krugman is saying "I told you so". For example, please consider Nobody Could Have Predicted
Pictures support the view that stimulus worked as long as it lasted, boosting the economy — which is the same conclusion Adam Posen drew from Japan’s experience in the 1990s: Fiscal policy works when it is tried.
But the stimulus wasn’t nearly big enough to restore full employment — as I warned from the beginning. And it was set up to fade out in the second half of 2010.
So what was supposed to happen? The invisible cavalry were supposed to ride to the rescue.
I never understood why the Obama administration thought this would happen so soon; history tells us that the effects of a financial crisis on private spending are normally protracted. And sure enough, the cavalry has not arrived.
Stimulus and Full Employment
The idea we can stimulate the economy to full employment is about as silly as silly gets. Krugman wanted double the stimulus we got. Well, we got zero benefit unemployment-wise from the stimulus and in my book infinity times zero is still zero.
Yes, unemployment fell from 10.1% to 9.5% but all of that decrease, if not more than all of that decrease, was a result of a falling participation rate. The bottom line is neither the Fed increasing its balance sheet by $trillions nor a $1.4 trillion deficit did a thing to lower unemployment.
Of course the Keynesian clowns will holler things would have been worse in the absence of stimulus. Really?! Would banks be lending more? Would small businesses be hiring?
Full Employment Made Easy
Krugman wants full employment. I suppose the government could easily employ everyone who does not have a job. Then again, didn’t we effectively do just that?
Here is a snip from "Contained Depression" that suggests we did.
We are certainly in a depression. However, 40 million people on food stamps as of August 2010, masks that depression. The cost of the food stamp program is on schedule to exceed $60 billion in fiscal 2010. For comparison purposes, there was just over 11 million on food stamps in 2005.
Please note there are 14.6 million unemployed, but of them 4.5 million of them are receiving regular unemployment
by ilene - September 1st, 2010 12:04 pm
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
So you thought communist states go down without a fight? Wrong: here is Rosenberg who explains why both China and the US are now actively involved in the business of propping up anything and everything. And totally off topic, Rosie confirms that the liquidity trends in the mutual fund industry continue to deteriorate: "As for liquidity ratios, equity funds portfolio manages have theirs at an all-time low of 3.4%, down from 3.8% in June. Tack on the fact that there are really not very many shorts to be covered – since the market peaked in April, short interest is 4.3% of the S&P 500 market cap (in August 2008 it was 6%) and there’s not a whole lot of underlying fund-flow support for the stock market here." In other words, throw in a few more market down days, a few more weeks of redemptions (and at 16 weeks in a row, there is no reason why this should change), and the liquidation theme will promptly be added to the new normal.
THE VISIBLE HAND
The two largest economies in the world are being sustained by the long arm of the law. At least in China it’s to be expected that a communist country would be fuelled by command central, but in this miracle story, below the surface it is becoming abundantly clear that Beijing is becoming increasingly involved. The front page article of the Monday NYT uncovered how the economy is delivering its red-hot growth rates: “New data from the World Bank show that the proportion of industrial production by companies controlled by the Chinese state edged up last year … investment by state-controlled companies skyrocketed, driven by hundreds of billions of government spending and state bank lending.” No wonder the Chinese economy and stock market have diverged.
Is it really much different in the U.S.A. today with every 1 in 6 Americans now receiving some form of government assistance? More than 50 million Americans, from food stamps, to Medicaid, to extended jobless benefits, are on one or more taxpayer-supported programs. This likely explains why this depression does not have that 1930s feel of despair to it. But a depression it is.
In a depression, radical
by ilene - August 25th, 2010 3:28 pm
Courtesy of Mish
Kevin Feltes, an economist for the Jerome Levy Forecasting Center, solicited my opinion on a couple of their recent articles.
Levy comes down on the side of deflation, as do I. However, the devil is in the details, as always. I will go through one of their articles in a point-by-point fashion, stating where I agree and disagree with their analysis.
This is a long post. Please give it some time.
Please consider Widespread Fear of the Wrong Kind of Price Instability.
It is not inflation but more disinflation and ultimately deflation that lie ahead in the 2010s.
Inflation worries remain a major part of the market backdrop, and the past year has brought new price stability concerns to investors. During that time, we have written about inflation fears, deflation risks, and the relationships between price trends and monetary policy, fiscal policy, Treasury debt levels, foreign debt holdings, and various other issues. We have argued that rising inflation will not be a threat in the coming years and that disinflation and some deflation are the real worries. Our position remains unchanged.
1. Why It Will Be Very Difficult for Inflation to Accelerate in the Next Few Years
The dominant influence on price trends in the near future and for years to come will be the deflationary influence of chronically high unemployment. The economy not only has gone through a deep recession but also has entered a contained depression, a long period of substandard economic performance, chronic financial problems, and generally high unemployment. The contained depression is likely to last about a decade; it will end in the latter half of the 2010s at the earliest and could stretch into the 2020s
In the years ahead, chronic high unemployment will weigh heavily on labor costs; chronic economic weakness will tend to keep profit margins under pressure and firms focused on cost control; and global instability and large areas of depression (contained or otherwise) will reduce upward pressures on prices of imported commodities and are likely to cause these prices to fall much of the time.
Even if imported commodity prices, most notably oil prices, rise sharply at times, they will not have a large, lasting effect on inflation as long as labor costs are decelerating or actually falling.
Labor costs are the dominant inflation influence not only because
by ilene - August 18th, 2010 7:58 pm
Courtesy of PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS, writing at CounterPunch
On August 17, Bloomberg reported a US government release that industrial production rose twice as much as forecast, climbing 1 percent. Bloomberg interpreted this to mean that “increased business investment is propelling the gains in manufacturing, which accounts for 11 percent of the world’s largest economy.”
The stock market rose.
Let’s look at this through the lens of statistician John Williams of shadowstats.com.
Williams reports that “the primary driver of a 1.0% monthly gain in seasonally-adjusted July industrial production” was “warped seasonal factors” caused by “the irregular patterns in U.S. auto production in the last two years.” Industrial production “shrank by 1.0% before seasonal adjustments.”
If the government and Bloomberg had announced that industrial production fell by 1.0% in July, would the stock market have risen 104 points on August 17?
Notice that Bloomberg reports that manufacturing accounts for 11 percent of the US economy. I remember when manufacturing accounted for 18% of the US economy. The decline of 39% is due to jobs offshoring.
Think about that. Wall Street and shareholders and executives of transnational corporations have made billions by moving 39% of US manufacturing offshore to boost the GDP and employment of foreign countries, such as China, while impoverishing their former American work force. Congress and the economics profession have cheered this on as “the New Economy.”
Bought-and-paid-for-economists told us that “the new economy” would make us all rich, and so did the financial press. We were well rid, they claimed, of the “old” industries and manufactures, the departure of which destroyed the tax base of so many American cities and states and the livelihood of millions of Americans.
The bought-and-paid-for-economists got all the media forums for a decade. While they lied, the US economy died.
Now, back to statistical deception. On August 17 the census Bureau reported a small gain in July 2010 residential construction housing starts. More hope orchestrated. In fact, the “gain,” as John Williams reports, was due to a large downward revision” in June’s reporting. The reported July “gain” would “have been a contraction” without the downward revision in June’s “gain.”
So, the overestimate of June housing not only made June look good, but also the downward correction of the June number makes July look good, because starts rose above the corrected June number. The same manipulation is likely to…
by ilene - July 31st, 2010 7:26 pm
Courtesy of PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS at CounterPunch
It is not unusual for members of the diminishing upper middle class to drop $20,000 or $30,000 on a big wedding. But for celebrities this large sum wouldn’t cover the wedding dress or the flowers.
When country music star Keith Urban married actress Nicole Kidman in 2006, their wedding cost $250,000. This large sum hardly counts as a celebrity wedding. When mega-millionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump married model Melania Knauss, the wedding bill was $1,000,000.
The marriages of Madonna and film director Guy Ritchie, Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren, and Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones pushed up the cost of celebrity marriages to $1.5 million.
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes upped the ante to $2,000,000.
Now comes the politicians’s daughter as celebrity. According to news reports, Chelsea Clinton’s wedding to investment banker Mark Mezvinsky on July 31 is costing papa Bill $3,000,000. According to the London Daily Mail, the total price tag will be about $5,000,000. The additional $2,000,000 apparently is being laid off on US Taxpayers as Secret Service costs for protecting former president Clinton and foreign heads of state, such as the presidents of France and Italy and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who are among the 500 invited guests along with Barbara Streisand, Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Ted Turner, and Clinton friend and donor Denise Rich, wife of the Clinton-pardoned felon.
Before we attend to the poor political judgment of such an extravagant affair during times of economic distress, let us wonder aloud where a poor boy who became governor of Arkansas and president of the United States got such a fortune that he can blow $3,000,000 on a wedding.
The American people did not take up a collection to reward him for his service to them.
Where did the money come from? Who was he really serving during his eight years in office?
How did Tony Blair and his wife, Cherrie, end up with an annual income of ten million pounds (approximately $15 million dollars) as soon as he left office? Who was Blair really serving?
These are not polite questions, and they are infrequently asked.
by ilene - May 13th, 2010 4:13 pm
Courtesy of Mish
Hello recovery, where art thou? Month after month, the number of food stamp recipients hits news records.
Please consider Food-stamp tally nears 40 million, sets record.
Nearly 40 million Americans received food stamps — the latest in an ever-higher string of record enrollment that dates from December 2008 and the U.S. recession, according to a government update.
Enrollment has set a record each month since reaching 31.78 million in December 2008. USDA estimates enrollment will average 40.5 million people this fiscal year, which ends Sept 30, at a cost of up to $59 billion. For fiscal 2011, average enrollment is forecast for 43.3 million people.
Snap, Crackle, Pop
It’s no longer supposed to be called "food stamp" program but rather SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
No matter what you call it, another 260,000 are on it than last month. However, data is way lagging. A quick check of my calendar says it’s May. The SNAP data reported Friday, May 7 is from February.
Excuse me for asking, but how hard is it to count the number of people in a program getting free benefits? Is it really so difficult that it takes months to count?
Here is an interesting tidbit from the article, "Research suggests that one in three eligible people are not receiving benefits."
My quick math suggests approximately 53 million people could be receiving SNAPs but only 40 million are.
Note: 53 million was arrived at by taking 1/3 of 40 million and adding it ti 40 million. Another possible intrepretation, perhaps more likely, is 40 million is 2/3 of 60 million.
by ilene - April 24th, 2010 4:41 pm
Courtesy of David DeGraw, AmpedStatus Report
This report was originally released as a six-part series. The first part was published on February 15, 2010. The last part was published on February 27, 2010.
- I: Casualties of Economic Terrorism, Surveying the Damage
- II: The Rise of the Economic Elite
- III: Exposing Our Enemy: Meet the Economic Elite
- IV: The Financial Coup d’Etat
- V: Overcoming the Divide and Conquer Strategy
- VI: How to Fight Back and Win: Common Ground Issues That Must Be Won
> Download full report with graphics and links.
> Download printer-friendly version.
but the success of its disappearing act depends on equally strenuous efforts
on the part of an American public anxious to believe in egalitarian fictions
and unwilling to see what is hidden in plain sight.”
– Michael Lind, To Have and to Have Not
It’s time for 99% of Americans to mobilize and aggressively move on common sense political reforms.
Yes, of course, we all have very strong differences of opinion on many issues. However, like our Founding Fathers before us, we must put aside our differences and unite to fight a common enemy.
by ilene - April 7th, 2010 10:24 am
Courtesy of Mish
Food stamp usage is up again except the program is now called SNAP Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Inquiring minds are looking at a SNAP Participation Table that shows a record 39,430,724 receive SNAP benefits, a 22.4% increase from a year ago.
Biggest State Increases
Arizona – 32.9%
Colorado – 32.9%
Florida – 38.6%
Idaho – 45.7%
Nevada – 46.9%
Rhode Island – 42.4%
South Dakota – 32.6%
Utah – 37.3%
Wisconsin – 38.9%
Wyoming – 40.0%
Those numbers are as of January 2010
Household SNAP participants increased from 12,728,981 in Fiscal Year 2008 to 15,232,105 in fiscal year 2009, a 16.4% increase. For comparison purposes, watch the growth in household participation.
SNAP Household Participation
FY 2005 – 11,197,377
FY 2006 – 11,734,491
FY 2007 – 11,789,594
FY 2008 – 12,728,981
FY 2009 – 15,232,105
Cost of SNAP Program
FY 2005 – $31.07 Billion
FY 2006 – $32.91 Billion
FY 2007 – $33.19 Billion
FY 2008 – $37.66 Billion
FY 2009 – $53.63 Billion
Household and cost numbers are as of March 30, 2010.
Clearly the recession took its toll, and will continue to do so until there is a dramatic decrease in the unemployment rate.