Posts Tagged ‘Michael Panzner’

Big Hole

Big Hole

Courtesy of Michael Panzner at Financial Armageddon 

Illustration of Light Drawn into a Black Hole

People have been throwing around numbers in the millions and billions and trillions since the crisis started. Over time, the data deluge has turned into a flood, and, occasionally, it is even hard for someone like me — who has been tracking and analyzing this stuff for a while — to get a grip on what it all means.

Maybe that’s the strategy: overwhelm the masses with endless zeroes and hope they either zone out or lose sight of the fact that those numbers represent decades of poor decisions, misguided policies, and illegal acts.

That said, sometimes all it takes to get to the bottom of some of those numbers is to recast the data in graphical form — because, like they say, "a picture is worth a thousand words." In "The Jobs Gap," the Washington Independent highlights research from one think tank that does just that, and what it says about the state of the employment market is pretty striking:

In light of last week’s dismal September jobs report, Heidi Shierholz, of the Economic Policy Institute, updates her estimates of how many jobs the United States needs to create to get back to where it was, employment-wise, when the recession started.

The labor market remains an estimated 8.1 million payroll jobs below where it was at the start of the recession in December 2007. This number includes both the 7.8 million jobs lost in the payroll data as currently published plus the announced preliminary benchmark revision of -366,000 jobs to last March’s employment level. And even this number understates the size of the gap in the labor market by failing to take into account the fact that simply to keep up with the growth in the working-age population, the labor market should have added around 3.4 million jobs since December 2007. This means the labor market is now roughly 11.5 million jobs below the level needed to restore the pre-recession unemployment rate (5.0 percent in December 2007).

In graphic terms:

Jobs-gap-480x388 

That begs the question: How will the economy get there? And leads to the worrying answer: It won’t, at least not anytime soon. Government spending — the kind that might, say, hire hundreds of thousands of construction workers — is out of the question. And that means private businesses will chip away at unemployment when the economy picks up a bit more, adding workers slowly, very slowly.


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‘I Love the Delusion of the Markets at this Point in the Cycle’

‘I Love the Delusion of the Markets at this Point in the Cycle’

Courtesy of Michael Panzner at Financial Armageddon 

Since I started publishing Financial Armageddon in late-2006, I’ve often railed against the incompetence and tomfoolery of highly-paid Wall Street "strategists" (note the double quotes). Many of these so-called experts are clueless data-regurgitators or ivory tower economists with above average communications skills. Indeed, it seems to me that most of the "stars" of the forecasting game are simply being rewarded for having the gift of gab, rather than their ability to look past the trees and size up the layout of the forest.

But as with most generalizations, there are exceptions. Surprisingly — yes, I am cynical — a very small number of those who know what they are talking about, have something intelligent to say, and know how to translate their insights into clear and interesting prose have been recognized as such. I am referring in particular to Albert Edwards, the number-one ranked global strategist for I-don’t-know-how-many-years running, and his sidekick Dylan Grice, who placed second overall in the 2010 Thomson Reuters Extel Survey, both of whom are members of the strategy team at Societe Generale.

In his most recent Global Strategy Weekly, Mr. Edwards touches upon two topics near-and-dear to my heart: the real state of the economy and the utter cluelessness of most equity investors [italics mind]:

The current situation reminds me of mid 2007. Investors then were content to stick their heads into very deep sand and ignore the fact that The Great Unwind had clearly begun. But in August and September 2007, even though the wheels were clearly falling off the global economy, the S&P still managed to rally 15%! The recent reaction to data suggests the market is in a similar deluded state of mind. Yet again, equity investors refuse to accept they are now locked in a Vulcan death grip and are about to fall unconscious.

The notion that the equity market predicts anything has always struck me as ludicrous. In the


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We Can Only Dream

We Can Only Dream

Courtesy of Michael Panzner of Financial Armageddon 

Children play with giant bubbles at the Glastonbury Festival 2010 in south west England, June 23, 2010. Picture taken June 23, 2010. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY)

Reports like those that follow help make it clear that the problems we face are structural rather than cyclical. Myriad bad policies and a distorted sense of economic reality — no doubt fed by ruthlessly self-interested corporate and political interests — encouraged large numbers of Americans to acquire knowledge, skills, and perspectives that are really only relevant in an easy-money-fueled economy.

Once the bubble bursts, however, they are as unprepared for changing times as a proverbial fish out of water. And yet, we still have a growing chorus of mindless Keynesians, ivory tower economists, Wall Street strategists, and assorted other pseudo-experts pushing for more stimulus, more borrowing, more tax cuts — more of the hair of the dog that bit us to begin with.

If government is going to do anything at all — which seems inevitable, like it or not — wouldn’t it be better if the those in charge focused on telling people the cold, hard truth about where things stand; directed efforts towards helping Americans adjust to a new operating environment, instead of the one that is not coming back; and, rejigged policy incentives — like those that favor borrowing and homeownership — in ways that might prove more beneficial in the long run?

Oh well, we can only dream.

~~~

"U.S. Jobless Rate Hints at Permanent Shift" (The Globe and Mail)

As the United States continues its battle with high unemployment, policy makers are confronting a troubling question: What if they’ve been taking the wrong approach to fixing the ailing job market?

Some prominent economists and policy makers are…suggesting the real problem isn’t lack of consumer spending – it’s that the unemployed don’t have the right skills to fill the jobs that are open.

These people are now theorizing that the financial crisis has altered the structure of the U.S. labour market, perhaps permanently.

If they’re right, the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve will need to change their approach to increasing employment because their current one, which is aimed at stoking spending, could end up exacerbating the conditions that led to the financial crisis.

Raghuram Rajan, a professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, argues the U.S.’s high unemployment rate is the result of structural changes rather than a cyclical downturn in demand. He reasons the U.S. housing bubble


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Who Knows Better?

Who Knows Better?

Courtesy of Michael Panzner at Financial Armageddon 

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In my latest column for DailyFinance, "The Disconnect Between Consumer Confidence and Retail Sales," I argue that the yawning gap between these two measures is telling us something. Chances are, it’s saying that consumers know better than the official statistics about what’s really going on in the U.S. economy.

Click here to read the article. 


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‘Double-Dips Are Not as Infrequent as You Might Think’

‘Double-Dips Are Not as Infrequent as You Might Think’

Courtesy of Michael Panzner at Financial Armageddon 

Morgan Stanley’s Stephen Roach is the featured guest on the Wall Street Journal’s Big Interview, and unlike many of his peers, he relies on facts rather than fantasy in formulating his economic outlook. Given what you and I already know about the reality on the ground, it’s no surprise to find that Mr. Roach is less than sanguine about where things stand:

WSJ: You’ve been warning of a disappointing U.S. recovery, so I’d like to ask you right off the bat: Just how likely do you see the prospects of a double-dip kind of event?

Roach: I give it a higher probability than most — maybe 40% at some point over the next year. We have a weak recovery, weak labor market, weak consumer purchasing power, and a consumer — 70% of the economy — that is still massively overextended in terms of debt; unprepared in terms of savings; and unable to rely to rely on property and credit bubbles to support consumption. So, if you have a disappointing consumer and any kind of an unexpected shock, you can go down again.

Here is the full interview:

 


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Seeing Through the Fog of Funny Money Policymaking

Seeing Through the Fog of Funny Money Policymaking

Lighthouse in fog, night (Digital)

Courtesy of Michael Panzner at Financial Armageddon

OK, let’s go through this one more time. Despite what we keep hearing from the politicians and moneymen, things are not getting better. Yes, we have seen the economic equivalent of a dead cat bounce — how could we not, given the trillions that have been thrown at the system — but it is simply not sustainable.

The reality is that we’ve just careened through decades of overborrowing and malinvestment, which created an array of dangerous imbalances and undermined our nation’s economic foundations. Now that the party is over, the wreckage is going to weigh on our prospects for years, if not decades.

Unfortunately, those who live in a bubble (i.e., Washington) or who’ve come to depend on them (e.g., Wall Street) have not seen through the fog of funny money policymaking. But as Bloomberg reports in "Americans Grow More Pessimistic on Economy, Nation’s Direction," the average Joe (and Jane) seem to have their eyes wide open when it comes to today’s depressing reality.

BloombergSurvey 
[Click on table to enlarge]

Americans have grown gloomier about both the economy and the nation’s direction over the past three months even as the U.S. shows signs of moving from recession to recovery.

Almost half the people now feel less financially secure than when President Barack Obama took office in January, a Bloomberg National Poll shows.

Those concerns have put consumers in a miserly mood as they head to the mall for holiday shopping, with half the country planning to spend less on gifts than last year and few buyers willing to run up credit-card debt for Christmas.

“The recession may be over, but the administration seems to be losing the battle when it comes to winning the hearts and minds of Americans,” says Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist for Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York. “This is important because the spending of consumers is the main factor that will turn the economic recovery into a self- sustaining one.”

Obama yesterday addressed anxiety over the economy with a speech proposing new spending on the nation’s transportation system, tax credits to spur hiring by small businesses and incentives to make homes more energy efficient.

Unemployment in November stood at 10 percent, a drop from 10.2 percent in


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A Tsunami of Red Ink

A Tsunami of Red Ink

red inkCourtesy of Michael Panzner at Financial Armageddon

Just over a week ago, Bloomberg revealed in "Geithner Says Commercial Real Estate Woes Won’t Spark Crisis," that the U.S. Treasury Secretary did not appear to be overly concerned about the threat posed by brewing problems in the commercial property sector:

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said commercial real estate woes won’t set off a new banking crisis, in remarks to the Economic Club of Chicago.

“I don’t think so,” Geithner said, when asked whether commercial real estate could set off another banking meltdown. “That’s a problem the economy can manage through even though it’s going to be still exceptionally difficult.”

The global economy has accelerated since the worst of the recession and banking crisis last year, Geithner said, noting a U.S. Commerce Department report today showing the economy expanded 3.5 percent in the third quarter.

“You can say now with confidence that the financial system is stable, the economy is stabilized,” Geithner said. “You can see the first signs of growth here and around the world.”

Is he serious? All you have to do is spend about 15 minutes reading through just a few of the reports that were published recently and it quickly becomes apparent that a tsunami of red ink is forming in the sector, ready to come crashing down on the whole of the banking sector — as well as the economy — in the immediate period ahead:

"Why This Real Estate Bust Is Different" (BusinessWeek)

Unrealistic assumptions, layers of investors, sky-high prices, and possible fraud will make it hard to clean up the mess in commercial real estate

When Goldman Sachs (GS) sold complex bonds backed by the Arizona Grand Resort and other commercial properties in 2006, it suggested the returns would be strong. The 164-acre luxury Arizona Grand, set against the Sonoran Desert in Phoenix, boasted an award-winning golf course, deluxe spa, and several swank restaurants. The on-site water park was named one of the best in the country by the Travel Channel. With the resort’s new owners planning to refurbish hotel rooms and common areas, Goldman told investors that the renovations would help boost cash flow.

As was so often the case during the real estate boom, the lofty projections didn’t pan out. When the economy softened and business travel


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Sympathy for the Treasury

Wondering what happened at the bloggers-Treasury officials’ get-together?  Here’s Steve Randy Waldman’s account of the meeting. – Ilene

Sympathy for the Treasury

us treasury buildingCourtesy of Steve Randy Waldman of Interfluidity

On Monday, I was among a group of eight bloggers who attended a discussion with "senior Treasury officials" in Washington. Several nice accounts of that meeting have already been posted (see roundup below). Here’s mine.

First, I’d like to thank the "senior Treasury officials" for taking the time to meet with us, and for being very gracious hosts. Whatever disagreements one might have, in statistical if not moral terms it was an extreme privilege to sit across a conference table and have a chance to speak with these people. And despite the limitations of the event, I’d rather there be more of this kind of thing than less. So a sincere tip o’the hat to all of our hosts. Thank you for having us.

The second thing I’d like to discuss is corruption. Not, I hasten to add, the corruption of senior Treasury officials, but my own. As a slime mold with a cable modem, it was very flattering to be invited to a meeting at the US Treasury. A tour guide came through with two visitors before the meeting began, and chattily announced that the table I was sitting at had belonged to FDR. It very clearly was not the purpose of the meeting for policymakers to pick our brains. The e-mail invitation we received came from the Treasury’s department of Public Affairs. Treasury’s goal in meeting with us was to inform the public discussion of their past and continuing policies. (Note that I use the word "inform" in the sense outlined in a previous post. It is not about true or false, but about shaping behavior.)

Nevertheless, vanity outshines reason, and I could not help but hope that someone in the bowels of power had read my effluent and decided I should be part of the brain trust. The mere invitation made me more favorably disposed to policymakers. Further, sitting across a table transforms a television talking head into a human being, and cordial conversation with a human being creates a relationship. Most corrupt acts don’t take the form of clearly immoral choices. People fight those. Corruption thrives where there is a tension between institutional and interpersonal ethics. There is "the…
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Bad C’s

Bad C’s prompts me to recycle my introduction to George Washington’s Blog’s "The Ongoing Cover Up of the Truth Behind the Financial Crisis May Lead to Another Crash":

Our freedom depends on our government enforcing and abiding by the law. It’s apparent that we are headed down the slippery slope Justice Louis Brandeis describes in Olmstead v. United States (1928):Justice Louis Brandeis

"In a government of laws, the existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipotent teacher. For good or ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If government becomes a lawbreaker it breeds contempt for law: it invites every man to become a law unto himself. It invites anarchy."

We have the Federal government’s massive and flagrant display of lawlessness, and population somewhere on the way from apathy to dependency in the Fatal Sequence cycle of civilization. – Ilene

Michael Panzner elaborates on this theme: 

Bad C’s

Courtesy of Michael Panzner of Financial Armageddon

Before the era of Frankenstein Finance and the fanatical focus on fee-based income, lenders tried to hold themselves out as models of probity (for the skeptics out there, I did say "try."). Those responsible for making credit-granting decisions and looking after the interests of shareholders also demanded that borrowers meet certain standards before they would see even a dime of their employers’ money. These criteria are known as the "5 C’s of Credit," which are the

key elements a borrower should have to obtain credit: character (integrity), capacity (sufficient cash flow to service the obligation), capital (net worth), collateral (assets to secure the debt), and conditions (of the borrower and the overall economy).

In an interesting twist of fate, the firms that have traditionally decided who should get credit have been put in the position of needing extraordinary amounts of other people’s money just to stay alive. Unfortunately, based on what we’ve seen so far, including reports like those that follow, it’s doubtful whether most, if not all, of today’s troubled financial institutions would even qualify for a loan based on traditional measures of suitability — like "character," for example — if their friends in high places weren’t so intimately involved in the process.

"Wall Street’s


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Armageddon, Round Two?

Armageddon, Round Two?

Courtesy of Michael Panzner at Financial Armageddon

In Financial Armageddon, I wrote about "four impending catastrophes": debt, government guarantees, the retirement system, and derivatives. But well before the first pages of my manuscript saw the light of day, I was particularly concerned about the latter aspect.

In fact, I’ll let you in on a little secret: the article I published in November 2005, "The Coming Disaster in the Derivatives Market," was actually derived from material in my original book proposal, tentatively entitled FWMDs: Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction, after Warren Buffett’s famous remarks on the subject in Berkshire Hathaway’s 2002 annual report.

Eventually, the publisher and I decided that there was a bigger story there, which proved to be far more accurate than anybody (including me) realized at the time, and I set forth my vision of how the derivatives menace would come to interact with the various other threats I saw lurking in the shadows.

Yet even with all that has happened so far, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the house of cards that was built on this labyrinthine mass of paper promises remains a serious threat to the financial system and the economy.

To be sure, I’m not the only one who feels this way. Even some of the better known financial experts are worried, as CNBC.com reveals in "Derivatives Could Cause Another Meltdown: Mobius":

Derivatives caused the market Armageddon of recent years and if left unchecked by global leaders, the same market could cause another catastrophe, Mark Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Asset Management, told CNBC Monday.

When asked by a CNBC viewer what kind of Armageddon could be expected if the derivatives problem is not addressed, Mobius replied: “The same kind of Armageddon that we just had, what we just saw in the last few years has been caused by derivatives.”

The lack of liquidity, transparency, coupled with its sheer size means the derivatives market poses a major risk to financial stability, according to Mobius. The currency derivatives market is especially at risk of causing problems, but interest-rate derivatives also, he said.

Mobius thinks that global leaders meeting for the G20 summit in Pittsburgh next week should focus almost solely on the derivatives trade. Debates over how much bankers are paid in bonuses should be bumped down the agenda,


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Insider Scoop

Amazon Warehouse Workers Plan Monday Walkout To Protest Lack Of Coronavirus Protection

Courtesy of Benzinga

Amazon.com Inc.'s (NASDAQ: AMZN) workers at the company's Staten Island warehouse are planning a mass walkout on Monday to protest against what they call a lack of protection provided during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

What Happened

Anywhere between 50 to 200 workers are expected to participate in the walkout, Christian Smalls, as assistant manager at the New York...



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Phil's Favorites

10 ways to spot online misinformation

 

10 ways to spot online misinformation

When you share information online, do it responsibly. Sitthiphong/Getty Images

Courtesy of H. Colleen Sinclair, Mississippi State University

Propagandists are already working to sow disinformation and social discord in the run-up to the November elections.

Many of their efforts have focused on social media, where people’s limited attention spans push them to ...



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Members' Corner

10 ways to spot online misinformation

 

10 ways to spot online misinformation

When you share information online, do it responsibly. Sitthiphong/Getty Images

Courtesy of H. Colleen Sinclair, Mississippi State University

Propagandists are already working to sow disinformation and social discord in the run-up to the November elections.

Many of their efforts have focused on social media, where people’s limited attention spans push them to ...



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Zero Hedge

"The Scope For Pain Is Immense" - China's Consumer Default Tsunami Has Started

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

One month ago we reported that "China Faces Financial Armageddon With 85% Of Businesses Set To Run Out Of Cash In 3 Months", in which we explained that while China's giant state-owned SOEs will likely have enough of a liquidity lifeblood to last them for 2-3 quarters, it is the country's small businesses that are facing a head on collision with an iceberg, because ...



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Biotech/COVID-19

The world before this coronavirus and after cannot be the same

 

The world before this coronavirus and after cannot be the same

Gettyimages

Courtesy of Ian Goldin, University of Oxford and Robert Muggah, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio)

With COVID-19 infections now evident in 176 countries, the pandemic is the most significant threat to humanity since the second world war. Then, as now, confidence in international cooperation and institutions plumbed new lows.

While the on...



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Digital Currencies

While coronavirus rages, bitcoin has made a leap towards the mainstream

 

While coronavirus rages, bitcoin has made a leap towards the mainstream

Get used to it. Anastasiia Bakai

Courtesy of Iwa Salami, University of East London

Anyone holding bitcoin would have watched the market with alarm in recent weeks. The virtual currency, whose price other cryptocurrencies like ethereum and litecoin largely follow, plummeted from more than US$10,000 (£8,206) in mid-February to briefly below US$4,000 on March 13. Despite recovering to the mid-US$6,000s at the time of writin...



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The Technical Traders

These Index Charts Will Calm You Down

Courtesy of Technical Traders

I put together this video that will calm you down, because knowing where are within the stock market cycles, and the economy makes all the difference.

This is the worst time to be starting a business that’s for sure. I have talked about this is past videos and events I attended that bear markets are fantastic opportunities if you can retain your capital until late in the bear market cycle. If you can do this, you will find countless opportunities to invest money. From buying businesses, franchises, real estate, equipment, and stocks at a considerable discount that would make today’s prices look ridiculous (which they are).

Take a quick watch of this video because it shows you ...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Broadest Of All Stock Indices Testing Critical Support, Says Joe Friday!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

One of the broadest indices in the states remains in a long-term bullish trend, where a critical support test is in play.

The chart looks at the Wilshire 5000 on a monthly basis over the past 35-years.

The index has spent the majority of the past three decades inside of rising channel (1). It hit the top of this multi-decade channel to start off the year, where it created a monthly bearish reversal pattern.

Weakness the past 2-months has the index testing rising support and the December 2018 lows at (2).

Joe...



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Chart School

Cycle Trading - Funny when it comes due

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Non believers of cycles become fast believers when the heat of the moment is upon them.

Just has we have birthdays, so does the market, regular cycles of time and price. The market news of the cycle turn may change each time, but the time is regular. Markets are not a random walk.


Success comes from strategy and the execution of a plan.















Changes in the world is the source of all market moves, to catch an...

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ValueWalk

Entrepreneurial activity and business ownership on the rise

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Indicating strong health of entrepreneurship, both entrepreneurial activity and established business ownership in the United States have trended upwards over the past 19 years, according to the 2019/2020 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Global Report, released March 3rd in Miami at the GEM Annual Meeting.

Q4 2019 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

The Benefit Of Entrepreneurial Activity ...

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Feb. 26, 1pm EST

Click HERE to join the PSW weekly webinar at 1 pm EST.

Phil will discuss positions, COVID-19, market volatility -- the selloff -- and more! 

This week, we also have a special presentation from Mike Anton of TradeExchange.com. It's a new service that we're excited to be a part of! 

Mike will show off the TradeExchange's new platform which you can try for free.  

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Lee's Free Thinking

Why Blaming the Repo Market is Like Blaming the Australian Bush Fires

 

Why Blaming the Repo Market is Like Blaming the Australian Bush Fires

Courtesy of  

The repo market problem isn’t the problem. It’s a sideshow, a diversion, and a joke. It’s a symptom of the problem.

Today, I got a note from Liquidity Trader subscriber David, a professional investor, and it got me to thinking. Here’s what David wrote:

Lee,

The ‘experts’ I hear from keep saying that once 300B more in reserves have ...



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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

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Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.