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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Zero Hedge

Armed Thieves Steal Truckload Of Toilet Paper In Hong Kong Amid Worsening Shortage Of Basic Goods

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Looks like the sh*t is really about to hit the fan in Hong Kong...and we mean that literally.

In a shocking indication of just how bad shortages of basic goods have gotten as mainland China expands its lockdown to more than 700 million people and Hong Kong closes some of its borders, a gang of armed thieves in Hong Kong stole a truckload of toilet paper in a daring robbery last night.

Police say the t...



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Phil's Favorites

Bloomberg Has Built a Star Wars Machine to Try to Steal the Democratic Nomination

Courtesy of Pam Martens

Michael Bloomberg

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg is used to getting his way. After serving two terms as New York City’s Mayor as a Republican, he used his own vast stash of cash to repeal term limits and give himself another four-year term, running as an Independent. Now he has promised to do the unprecedented: spend $1 billion of his own money to install himself as President of the United States, running on the Democratic ticket.

Bloomberg’s campaign increasingly resembles an octopus with money gushing out of its tentacles into anything and everything that will inject Mic...



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Insider Scoop

AMX Buys Fellow Alabama Company Powell, Adds Reefer Capacity

Courtesy of Benzinga

Alabama Motor Express will push deeper into the refrigerated business with purchase of Powell Transport Solutions.

The acquisition, announced earlier this week, will bring 35 refrigerated trailers to AMX, the company said in a statement. A spokeswoman for AMX, in response to questions submitted by FreightWaves, said the company's business is currently about 10% refrigerated. The AMX fleet before the acquisition was 210 trailers, she said.

Powell's business is 100% refrigerated, according to the...



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Biotech & Health

Coronavirus: the blow to the Chinese economy could be felt for years

 

Coronavirus: the blow to the Chinese economy could be felt for years

Courtesy of Chusu He, Coventry University

Investors are still being fairly complacent about the novel coronavirus. After the number of new daily cases suddenly shot up to more than 15,000 on February 12 following more than a week of decline, there were some jitters in the markets. With Chinese authorities saying the increase was due to a decision to broaden the definition for diagnosing people, there were falls in the region of 1% in European markets, and smaller retrenchments in Asia and North America.

It is...



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Members' Corner

How to Stop Bill Barr

 

How to Stop Bill Barr

We must remove this cancer on our democracy.

Courtesy of Greg Olear, at PREVAIL, author of Dirty Rubles: An Introduction to Trump/Russia

...



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The Technical Traders

Is The Technology Sector Setting Up For A Crash? Part I

Courtesy of Technical Traders

One thing that continues to amaze our research team is the total scale and scope of the Capital Shift which is taking place across the globe.  For almost 5+ years, foreign investors have been piling into the US stock market chasing the stronger US dollar and continued advancement of US share prices. It is almost like there is no other place on the planet that will allow investors to pool capital into such a variety of strong assets while protecting against foreign capital risks.  Yet the one big question remains – when will a price reversion event hit the US stock
market?

So many researchers, even our team of researchers, believe we have found the keys to unloc...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Joe Friday Says Germany (DAX) Could Rally 30%, Happy Valentines Day For The Bulls!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

German DAX Index “weekly” Chart

The German DAX is one of the more important global stock market indices, as it represents the largest economy / market in the Euro Zone.

So it would be a real treat for the bulls to see this stock market index breakout as we celebrate Valentine’s Day.

The facts, Ma’am. Just the facts; The German DAX looks to have formed a bullish ascending triangle over the past 3 years and it is currently attempting to breakout above the top at (1)....



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ValueWalk

Russell 2000 Index (RUT) hits an almost one-month high

By Gorilla Trades. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Ad the Russell 2000 Index (INDEXRUSSELL: RUT) hit an almost one-month high today, commenting on today’s trading Gorilla Trades strategist Ken Berman said:

Q4 2019 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Russell 2000 Index (INDEXRUSSELL: RUT) Outperforms Large-Cap Benchmarks

While the overnight session was nothing short of scary stocks held on to most of yesterday's gains and small-caps even extended their winning streak. The Russell 2000 Index (INDEXRUSSELL: RUT) hit an almost one-month high today, finishing higher for the fourth day in a row while outperforming the large-cap benchmarks, and since the Volatility...



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Chart School

Dow theory warning from the Utilities Index

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Charles Dow died in 1902, and the investors should thank him for his ever lasting Dow Theory Analysis.

Carrying on this blog theme looking at the Utility stocks. Previous post.
Dow Jones Utility index could trade like the FANGs
Formula for when the Great Stock Market Rally ends



You can learn about Dow Theory here

This post is concerned wi...

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Digital Currencies

Bitcoin Price May Hit $27K All-Time High By Summer, Predicts Fundstrat's Tom Lee

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Authored by William Suberg via CoinTelegraph.com,

Bitcoin is primed for average gains of almost 200% over the next six months, one of its best-known supporters has told mainstream media. 

...



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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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Promotions

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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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