It is tempting to place the blame for the U.S. economy’s deep woes at the feet of our corrupt, captured political system of governance and those who captured it via concentrated wealth and power. But that would avoid looking at the crises unfolding in global capitalism itself.
From the "progressive" ideology, the "problem" is inequality of income and wealth, and the "solution" is to take more of the wealth and income away from "the rich" (i.e. those who make more than I do) and redistribute to the "have-less" citizenry.
From the "conservative" ideology, the "problem" is that the Central State, in cahoots with public unions and Corporate Overlords, grabs an ever-larger share of the national income to redistribute to reward its cronies and favorites. In so doing, it mis-allocates the nation’s capital away from productive investments and strangles free enterprise, the only real engine of wealth.
There is of course a grain of truth in each point of view. As I describe in Survival+, there is a positive feedback in the process of concentrating wealth and thus political power: the more wealth one acquires, themore political influence one can purchase, which then enables the accumulation of even more wealth as the State/Elite partnership showers benefits and monoplies on those who fund elections, i.e. the wealthy.
This process eventually leads to over-reach, when the nation’s capital and income are so concentrated that the economy become precariously imbalanced and thus vulernerable to devolution and collapse. Returns on favoritism and capital become marginal, and it take more complexity and capital to wring ever-smaller profits and power from ever-greater investments.
It is also true that the State and the Power Elites mask their massive redistribution to the wealthy and powerful behind politically popular redistributions to the lower-income and/or unproductive citizenry, garnering their loyalty and complicity.
It is also true that as the State and its private-sector Elites channel an ever-larger percentage of the national income to the Central State and its fiefdoms, both public and private, then the productive class suffers a decline in energy, wealth and income. It is also true that the State makes its investment decisions based on favoritism (lobbies, political…
In 1968, the poverty rate in the US was 12.8%. Since then, we have introduced or vastly expanded the following:
job training courses
community development block grants
urban redevelopment schemes
aid to families with dependent children (AFDC)
social security disability income
section 8 housing grants
emergency assistance to needy families with children
college scholarship aid
free and reduced price lunches
Currently, the poverty rate is around 12.3%. More importantly, most of our cities have become unlivable, so that most college-educated families simply do not live within the city borders of Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Newark, etc. More programs, worse results.
Dr. Max Gammon was a British physician who noticed that although government spent significantly more on health care than it had previously in the 1960s, the National Health Service didn’t seem any better for it. After an extensive study of the British system of socialized medicine, Gammon formulated his law: "In a bureaucratic system, increase in expenditure will be matched by fall in production…such systems will act rather like ‘black holes,’ in the economic universe, simultaneously sucking in resources, and shrinking in terms of emitted production."
As the economy sorts itself out from the recent financial turmoil, we are very likely to have lower growth rates for quite a few years. We described the reasons for this last quarter: writing down excessive loans and curtailing expenditures as we realize we are not as rich as we thought.
Economic expansion will also be held back by the decreasing growth of available man hours. Since 2000, this growth has declined to below 1% per year from an average of 1.62% for the prior 50 years. Over the next 30 years, it is almost certain to continue to decline to about 0.5%, ignoring the temporary cyclical bounce in employment that we will get as the current severe recession ends.
Behind these two issues, however, lurks another longer-term and more important factor affecting future growth, and that is the increasing limitations on resources: we are simply running out of everything at a dangerous rate. We apparently have trouble processing numeric issues of this kind, and this missing faculty will cause considerable grief. We do not understand the implications of exponential or compound growth rates: the main implication being that they are impossible to sustain.
No better example of resource limitation in the face of both denial and strong efforts can be found than
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
Another in what seems to be a small parade of scandals involving secretly recorded tapes of Federal Reserve regulators emerged last week. What a number of writers (including me) have written about regulatory capture over the past decade was brought out into the open, at least for a while. My brilliant young friend (40 seems young to me now) Justin Fox, editorial director of the Harvard Business Review and business and economic columnist for Time magazine, published a thoughtful essay this week, outlining some of the issues surrounding the whole concept of banking regulations.
Yes, the latest scandal involved Goldman Sachs, and it took place in the US, but do you really think it’s much different in Europe or Japan? Actually, there are those who a...
He's back. A month after Appaloosa's David Tepper explained the end of the bond bull market was here (and 10Y rates are now 5bps lower), the trend-following master-of-the-universe explained to Bloomberg TV's Stephanie Ruhle and Erik Schatzker how the departure of Bill Gross from PIMCO was "nothing... who cares?"; why "the US economy is pretty good", how junk bonds are at "fair value" and stocks are cheap as "multiples are not high." Finally he explains how he "wish...
When it comes to monthly market volatility in the S&P 500, October tops the list, ranging from its 16.3% surge in 1974 to its 21.8% plunge in 1987. How will October 2014 stack up on the volatility scale? Time will tell. But the month certainly opened on a weak note, dropping 1.32%, the sixth largest one-day decline so far this year. The index closed a bit off its -1.52% intraday low at the start of the final hour of trading. The intraday range was at the 96th percentile of the 189 market days of 2014.
The selloff in equities was matched by a rally in Treasuries. The yield on the 10-year Note closed at 2.42%, down 10 bps from yesterday's close.
Here is a 15-minute chart of the past five sessions
As we see on the daily chart, today's selling came on increased volume.
Better than a Bitcoin? The Mexican Libertad is a real coin made out of silver or gold whose value is based on the price of silver or gold. It's tangible, like our coins and paper money, but the value is pegged to its weight in previous metal.
The Libertad is a Mexican coin that was first issued in 1981 in .999 fine gold and then in silver in 1982. Beginning in 1991, the Libertades became the only coins in the world that were issued in the convenient sizes of 1/20, 1/10, 1/4, 1/2, and 1 ounce—again, in both gold and silver. This made them very practical if they were to be used as currency.
The CBOE Vix Index topped 17.0 and the highest level since early-August on Monday morning amid declines in U.S. equities to start the trading week. The volatility index is off its earlier highs to trade 5.0% higher on the session at 15.65 as of 11:30 am ET. Options volume on the VIX is hovering near 360,000 contracts, or just more than 50% of the average daily reading of around 660,000 contracts. Calls are far more active than put options, as evidenced by the call/put ratio up above 4.2 in morning trading, perhaps as some traders position for volatility to stick around.
Large call spreads traded on the VIX today caught our attention as one big optio...
Yes, the market showed significant weakness last week for the first time in quite a while. In fact, the Dow Jones Industrial Average moved triple digits each day. But it was all quite predictable, as I suggested in last week's article, and certainly nothing to worry about. Now the market appears to be poised for a modest technical rebound, and longer term, U.S. equities should be in good shape for a year-end rally. However, I still believe more downside is in order before any new highs are challenged. Moreover, market breadth is important for a sustained bull run, so the challenge for investors will be to put together broader bullish conviction, including the small caps.
In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart, re...
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Ebola is spreading too quickly for Ebola-vaccine makers to conduct typical studies of safety and efficacy on experimental vaccines. Instead, vaccines will be tested for basic safety, but then deployed with protocols devised now in order to test for efficacy essentially on the field. Testing has to be expedited because the situation in West Africa gets worse every day while there are no approved vaccines or other treatments.
The chart below is from a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine showing estimates of the virus's trajectory projecting out to November 1, 2014. If current trends continue...
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Well PSW Subscribers....I am still here, barely. From my last post a few months ago to now, nothing has changed much, but there are a few bargins out there that as investors, should be put on the watch list (again) and if so desired....buy a small amount.
First, the media is on a tear against biotechs/pharma, ripping companies for their drug prices. Gilead's HepC drug, Sovaldi, is priced at $84K for the 12-week treatment. Pundits were screaming bloody murder that it was a total rip off, but when one investigates the other drugs out there, and the consequences of not taking Sovaldi vs. another drug combinations, then things become clearer. For instance, Olysio (JNJ) is about $66,000 for a 12-week treatment, but is approved for fewer types of patients AND...
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