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
Note from dshort: Following up on yesterday's preliminary report on U.S. Light Vehicle sales, I've update the charts below.
For the past few years I've been following a couple of transportation metrics: Vehicle Miles Traveled and Gasoline Volume Sales. For both series I focus on the population adjusted data. Let's now do something similar with the Light Vehicle Sales report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. This data series stretches back to January 1976. Since that first data point, the Civilian Noninstitutional Population Age 16 and Over (i.e., driving age not in the military or an inmate) has risen 61.7%.
In a surprise move, the RBI just cut its main interest rates for the second time in two months, taking it from 6.75% to 6.50%, in what the central bank calls a “pre-emptive” policy move, but what is in reality merely a confirmation that so far in 2015 at least 20 central banks have lowered their interest rate.
From the statement:
The RBI notes that the rupee has remained strong relative to peer countries. While an excessively strong rupee is undesirable, it too creates disinflationary impulses…
...softer readings on inflation are expected to come in through the first half of 2015-16 before firming up to below 6 per cent in the second half. The fiscal consol...
Markit has new reports out today on service activity in China and Japan.
The former shows a bit of growth, the latter contraction. Because the reports are diffusion indices that give no weighting to the size of the companies reporting, one must look at these reports with a broad brush.
Despite low trading volume, a strong dollar, mixed economic and earnings reports, paralyzing weather conditions throughout much of the U.S., and ominous global news events, stocks continue to march ever higher. The world remains on edge about potential Black Swan events from the likes of Russia, Greece, or ISIS (or lone wolf extremists). Moreover, the economic recovery of the U.S. may be feeling the pull of the proverbial ball-and-chain from the rest of the world’s economies. Nevertheless, awash in investable cash, global investors see few choices better than U.S. equities.
In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart, review our weekly fundamentals-based SectorCast rankings of the ten U.S. business sectors, and then ...
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Chris Kimble's chart for KOL shows a recently beaten down ETF struggling to pull itself up from the ashes. As the chart shows, KOL has recently drifted down to levels not seen since the financial crisis of 2008-9.
Bouncing or recovering with energy in general, coal prices appear to have stabilized in the short-term. Reflecting coal prices, KOL has traded between $13.45 and $19.75 during the past year. Bouncing from lows, KOL traded around 2% higher yesterday from $14.26 to $14.48 on high volume. It traded another 3.6% higher in after hours to $15, possibly related to ...
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PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs! The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down! The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months. What could go wrong?
Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.
Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies. A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...
Stocks got off to a rocky start on the first trading day in December, with the S&P 500 Index slipping just below 2050 on Monday. Based on one large bullish SPX options trade executed on Wednesday, however, such price action is not likely to break the trend of strong gains observed in the benchmark index since mid-October. It looks like one options market participant purchased 25,000 of the 31Dec’14 2105/2115 call spreads at a net premium of $2.70 each. The trade cost $6.75mm to put on, and represents the maximum potential loss on the position should the 2105 calls expire worthless at the end of December. The call spread could reap profits of as much as $7.30 per spread, or $18.25mm, in the event that the SPX ends the year above 2115. The index would need to rally 2.0% over the current level...
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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