Posts Tagged ‘Public Policy’

Japan’s Demographic Time Bomb Is Imploding

Mark suggests that Japan’s poor demographics are the cause of its "death spiral," whereas Ambrose Evens-Pritchard argues that too much government spending resulting in too much debt is at the heart of the problem. Could it be combination rather than an either-or? – Ilene

Japan’s Demographic Time Bomb Is Imploding

Hinamatsuri (Doll festival)

Courtesy of Mark Sunshine of the Sunshine Report

According to Ambrose Evans-Pritchard Japan is quickly turning into developed world’s sickest economy and could soon tip into an uncontrolled downward spiral. Evans-Pritchard reported last week in the Telegraph that Japan is reaching the point of no return where it won’t be able to meet its obligations and could enter a debt death spiral.

While Evans-Pritchard is one of my favorite writers, at the end of the article he comes to the wrong conclusion about what the West should learn from Japan. Evans-Pritchard suggests that too much government spending resulting in too much debt is the root cause of Japan’s problems and that the West needs to take notice and get government spending under control. While Evans-Pritchard is correct that Japan’s debt habit is unsustainable, the country’s debt problems are the result of its population imploding and the fuse finally burning out on its demographic time bomb. The Land of the Rising Sun is in trouble because it suffers from an insular society that discourages immigration and implicitly encourages low birth rates. For the last 50 Japan has been slowly committing demographic seppuku and now the inevitable is taking place, i.e., Japan’s population is crossed the tipping point so that its work force is both relatively old and shrinking and as a nation Japan can’t sustain its standard of living.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Japan is facing deflation, falling domestic demand, stagnant to shrinking GDP and, as of recently, a low national savings rate. They are all the result of Japan’s bad demographics.

Virtually all economics students learn that when the work force of a nation shrinks it is difficult if not impossible to sustain economic growth and a vibrant economy. Also, retirees tend to consume less than families that are raising children and as each generation ages towards retirement it tends to consume less and less causing domestic demand to shrink. Aging populations also have low savings rates because most retirees continue…
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Another Big Win For Energy Economics 101

Another Big Win For Energy Economics 101: Demand Destruction Isn’t Good For New Investment

Courtesy of Mark Sunshine of The Sunshine Report

Oil Refinery Workers Walk Out In Protest Over Foreign Workers

On Monday the Wall Street Journal ran an article that described the end of the golden era for oil refiners. It is a great article that, unfortunately, was published many years too late to be considered news. Just as gravity is a force that brings all objects to earth, public policy that destroys the demand for gasoline will hurt the refinery business. Not surprisingly, President Obama’s public policy initiatives that increase car and truck fuel efficiency have the side effect of hurting oil refinery and distribution businesses.

Just to be clear, I am not against the Administration’s effort to increase fuel efficiency in the vehicle fleet. Quite the contrary, it is a matter of national and economic security that we burn less imported fuel.  Increasing transportation fuel efficiency is a “must” for the United States. However, I don’t think that it is realistic to believe that the energy industry is act like an old trusted dog that knows when it it time to walk into the woods and die. And, it isn’t fair to the refinery and distribution businesses to ask them to effectively subsidize the rest of the economy’s shift to more fuel efficient vehicles and alternate energy without compensation.

The Wall Street Journal reported that over the next few years there is going to be global overcapacity among oil refiners. Not only is demand being reduced for refined products (particularly in the U.S.), but there is a lot of new and efficient capacity that is coming on line in Asia and the Middle East. That isn’t a prescription for a lot of new investment in refinery capacity or for good returns for existing refiners.

I have a couple of news flashes about the future of oil refinery and distribution that I am pretty sure are big news scoops (at least for most major media outlets).

  1. As gasoline demand drops refineries won’t be the only businesses whose investments are underperforming. There is going to be a lot of excess distribution and retailing capacity. So far the Wall Street Journal has only reported on excess refinery capacity. Distribution and retailing are the next segments of the industry that will experience overcapacity and the end of its


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How Much Longer Can This Bear Market Rally Last?

How Much Longer Can This Bear Market Rally Last?

bear marketCourtesy of Kevin Depew at Minyanville

How long, O Lord, how long? It’s always good to remember that the stock market is not the economy. Every day I come into the office to find literally dozens of emails complaining that the market is ignoring the relentlessly bearish news flow. But that doesn’t bother me. What will bother me is when we start getting good news. Markets tend to reach exhaustion on good news, not bad. And these days it’s hard to discern between what’s merely bad and what’s actually disastrous. So, let’s take a look at what the difference between the two really is, and what it means going forward.

A recently released Societe Generale report outlined a "Worst-Case Debt Scenario," one which they believe is a very low probability. Their central scenario assumes a slow global recovery, with private debt being transferred to governments. Fair enough. We’re well on our way there.

Comparing US and Japan, albeit from SocGen’s more sanguine standpoint, there’s some reason to believe the US could feasibly accommodate a Japan-esque 200% of GDP debt burden, which would essentially double 2010′s projected 100% of GDP debt burden. The reason this might not collapse the dollar is because there are no attractive alternatives. Government debt is a global problem, and when you look at the US government debt on a comparative basis, the figures, while high, aren’t extraordinary — at least within that context. More on this momentarily.

As a brief digression, I don’t believe that all government debt is bad by definition. Some are dogmatic on that point. While I do find a framework for understanding economics through the Austrian school, the reality is that no one is going to be able to squeeze pure, free-market toothpaste back into the tube. In fact, Ron Paul’s quixotic quest to end the Federal Reserve could actually succeed… only I can promise you it would soon be replaced by a similar central bank mechanism with a different name, slightly altered agenda, and new cast members. In other words, more of the same; let’s be realistic.

Also, remember that governments worldwide have a long history of supporting failed industries only to turn around and re-privatize them at a later date. It’s the government version of the private-equity game (buy ‘em, repackage ‘em, sell…
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Banks Don’t Intentionally Overcharge Credit Card Customers…Or Do They?

This is not sun-shiny news, but a few words of caution about your bank statement from Mr. Sunshine. - Ilene

Banks Don’t Intentionally Overcharge Credit Card Customers…Or Do They?

sunshineCourtesy of Mark Sunshine of The Sunshine Report

Have you ever tried to recalculate the finance charges on your credit card bill? I am betting that few American’s know if their bank is overcharging them or not. 

I have to confess, for the last 28 years I was one of the people who trusted my bank and didn’t bother to check the interest calculation. After all, in 1966 when I opened my first bank account my mother told me that I could trust my bank and that they would never try to rip me off. 

But, this month my wife (she is a lot more attentive to details than me) appeared at the door of my home office (where I was busy watching a football game) and demanded that I recalculate the interest on one of our credit card bills.  Of course I didn’t want to do it. However, after a lot of spousal pushing (and during half time) I did what I was told. And, guess what? My wife was onto something. When I looked at the bill I was able to quickly confirm that we had been overcharged. The amount wasn’t much, $4.57, but then again, since we had a $0.00 balance subject to finance charges, $4.57 seemed like a lot. 

On Monday my wife called our bank and they immediately admitted their error and reversed the charge. But, the overcharge on one credit card bill made me wonder; could we be getting overcharged on all our credit cards and how would we know? 

So, I got the other credit card bills from my wife (she takes care of all of the finances in our family and pretty much everything else that is important). I discovered that despite paying the entire balance each month on our other cards we still were incurring finance charges. So, I read the rules on the back of the credit card bill. While I am a trained attorney, I haven’t practiced law in a while and am rusty in the arcane art of interpreting legal hieroglyphics. It took me a little while to decipher the credit card agreement and after working on it for about an hour I still wasn’t sure what it meant. My wife was much quicker (after all, she
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W, V, U, L or Z: What Direction Is The Economy Going?

Mark Sunshine discusses the possible shape of the eventual economic recovery – pick a letter, any letter.  Welcome Mark!

W, V, U, L or Z: What Direction Is The Economy Going?

Economic Nostradamus, predictions on economyCourtesy of Mark Sunshine at The Sunshine Report

Almost every day I am asked about the economic recovery and whether or not it is sustainable.

People ask because there is a constant barrage of economic predictions by economists that pretend that they know what will happen in the future even thought they still can’t figure out what happened in the past. Listening to economists and TV talking heads it’s clear that while everyone has an opinion, no one really knows if the recovery will take the form of a “W”, “V”, “U”, “V” or “Z” (I am not really sure what a “Z” recovery is but some really confusing economists are predicting it).

This time around almost all of the TV pundits are going be able to claim that they are the economic Nostradamus of our time because sooner or later graphs of economic growth are going to have the profile of most, if not all, of the letters of the alphabet. For the foreseeable future, economic growth is going to be volatile and somewhat random and almost every prediction will be right.

Rorschach test There is going to be a level of randomness to the growth trajectory of the economy as it inevitably grows, then grows at a slower pace, then grows at a faster pace, then shrinks a little, and then grows again. Unfortunately, given the seriousness of the economy’s problems, I think it will be a while before the U.S. is back on a sustainable high growth trajectory that is sustainable (thereby making the L crowd right as well).

So, like a Rorschach Test, for the next few years there will be something for everyone in the economic statistics.

The U.S. economy is starting to bounce back because of the positive cumulative effects of (i) an inventory rebuilding cycle (i.e., production of new inventory is rising because inventory stocks in many industries are depleted and need to be replenished), (ii) a lot of fiscal and monetary stimuli and (iii) productivity growth (one tiny, positive side effect of layoffs). The bounce from inventory restocking will be temporary and, as a result, if all other things remain constant, growth will taper off to a much slower pace late in the 4th quarter
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Phil's Favorites

This Time It's Different: Maybe? ...John Street Capital Joins Me On Panic With Friends

 

This Time It’s Different: Maybe? …John Street Capital Joins Me On Panic With Friends

Courtesy of Howard Lindzon

(Originally posted on July 10, 2020)

This made me laugh yesterday…

In the shoulda, coulda, woulda department today…a $500,000 investment in the Amazon IPO would be worth $1 billion today if you held it.

Onwards&helli...



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Biotech/COVID-19

How deadly is COVID-19? A biostatistician explores the question

 

How deadly is COVID-19? A biostatistician explores the question

The number of confirmed and probable deaths from COVID-19 in New York City was 23,247 as of July 10, which is more than eight times the number who died in the 9/11 attack. Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images

Courtesy of Ron Fricker, Virginia Tech

The latest statistics, as of July 10, show COVID-19-related deaths in U.S. are just under 1,000 per day nationally, which is down from a peak averag...



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Zero Hedge

Taleb: Tail-Risk Hedges Are Now A Necessity

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Authored by Michelle Jones via ValueWalk.com,

Tail risk hedges are designed to only pay off when the markets suddenly plunge, so many investors don’t have the stomach to carry them. However, one expert on tail risk funds advises investors not to be in the market right now if they aren’t using a tail hedge.

No V-shaped recov...

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Digital Currencies

Chainlink Crypto Surges To A New All-Time High - Here's Why...

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Authored by Joseph Young via CoinTelegraph.com,

Surging volume, price discovery, and new partnerships pushed Chainlink price to a new all-time high at $8.48...

image courtesy of CoinTelegraph

...

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The Technical Traders

Gold & Silver Measured Moves

Courtesy of Technical Traders

The next few weeks are certain to attract much attention to precious metals.  Hardly anyone can argue that Gold has not experienced an incredible upside price rally over the last 12+ months.  Recently, Gold closed above $1800 for the first time since 2011.  Our researchers believe the next target is $1935.  Keep reading to learn why we believe this is the next major price target for Gold.

Gold Weekly Price Analysis

Over the past 18+ months, Gold continues to develop price patterns that seem to be replicating going forward.  This pattern consists of an advance in price followed by consolidation/rotation in price to set up a new momentum base.  The example of this price advance ...



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ValueWalk

How Banks Can Mitigate Credit Losses

By David Donovan. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Without question, the economic impact caused by COVID-19 has rocked companies and consumers across the globe. Big companies are drawing heavily on credit lines. Mom and pop shops are struggling to stay afloat, despite the government funding small business loans to the tune of $659 billion, of which $130 billion is still unclaimed. Companies are now trying to figure out how they can proactively address high risk borrowers to avoid massive defaults that will inevitably putting banks in an even stickier predicament.

Q2 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

With more than 40% of the econo...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Commodity Index Price Reversal Raises Hope for "Double Bottom"

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

It’s been a rough decade for commodities… but there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

As you can see in today’s chart, the Equal Weight Commodity Index made new decade lows this spring at (1).

In general, this is bearish. BUT, prices reversed higher with a little attitude. Precious metals has been strong and crude oil is well off its lows.

This has given life to a potential double bottom pattern, as this year’s lows came in and around the 2009 financial crisis lows.

Is it possible that Commodities have created a long-term double bottom at (1)? Poss...



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Chart School

Dow 2020 Crash Watch - Update

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Like 1929 the markets have bounced. This time it is on the back of the FED $6.5T money printing.

Previous Post: Dow 2020 Crash Watch 

But can the FED blow $6T every time the market rolls down to test support.

Yes, maybe before the US 2020 elections the FED will do 'what it takes'. But post elections not so much, the year 2021 is a long way from the next election (presidential or congress) and defense of the markets may not be so supportive at $6T or $10T per market smash. The FED may hesitate, and that will be window for stocks to break lower.

The 36 month simple moving a...

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Lee's Free Thinking

These Charts Show COVID 19 Is Spreading in the US and Will Kill the Economy

 

These Charts Show COVID 19 Is Spreading in the US and Will Kill the Economy

Courtesy of  

The COVID 19 pandemic is, predictably, worsening again in much of the US. Only the Northeast, and to a lesser extent some Midwestern states, have been consistently improving. And that trend could also reverse as those states fully reopen.

The problem in the US seems to be widespread public resistance to recommended practices of social distancing and mask wearing. In countries where these practices have been practi...



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Members' Corner

Coronavirus, 'Plandemic' and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking

 

Coronavirus, 'Plandemic' and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking

No matter the details of the plot, conspiracy theories follow common patterns of thought. Ranta Images/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Courtesy of John Cook, George Mason University; Sander van der Linden, University of Cambridge; Stephan Lewandowsky...



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Insider Scoop

Economic Data Scheduled For Friday

Courtesy of Benzinga

  • Data on nonfarm payrolls and unemployment rate for March will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.
  • US Services Purchasing Managers' Index for March is scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. ET.
  • The ISM's non-manufacturing index for March will be released at 10:00 a.m. ET.
  • The Baker Hughes North American rig count report for the latest week is scheduled for release at 1:00 p.m. ET.
...

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Promotions

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

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

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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

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About Phil:

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.