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Trend is Clear – Rapid Decline of World Economy – Egon von Greyerz

Trend is Clear – Rapid Decline of World Economy – Egon von Greyerz

Financial and precious metals expert Egon von Greyerz (EvG) says don’t expect the global financial situation to get better anytime soon. EvG says, “You know what the politicians are doing now? Theresa May is my best example. These politicians are just running around posing and acting, but they are not achieving anything, and they are not achieving anything because the world is in a mess. What we are seeing the beginning of is the decline of the western world economy, which means the whole world economy. . . . There is no use in putting a time period on it, that it’s going to happen this year or next year. The trend is clear. We know that the world economy is in a mess. It’s going to decline, and in my view, it’s going to be a rapid decline.. . . Gold will reflect all of this, and currencies will be totally debased. . . . You don’t need a lot, you might only need another few snowflakes to trigger this avalanche. It could come in a month or in three months time because the system is a fake system. . . . I count $2 quadrillion in money. If you add debt, unfunded liabilities and the risk of derivatives, you come up to $2 quadrillion of debt and liabilities. The global GDP is $70 trillion. . . . So, you are talking about 30 times global GDP.”

What could go wrong? EvG says, “You don’t need much to go wrong. It will happen. They have no remedy anymore. 2007 to 2009, I have said many times that was a rehearsal. The real thing is coming now or in the next few years, and no money printing will ever stop it. They will try, but they will fail. This is why you will get the depressionary hyperinflation, and when that fails you get the implosion of the system.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Paper Lanterns

Paper Lanterns

Mud Volcanoes

There are numerous explanations for just what in the heck is going on with the economy.  Some are good.  Many are bad.  Today we’ll do our part to bring clarity to disorder…

 

Two data series it is worth paying attention to at the moment: the unemployment rate (U3) and initial claims. As the chart at the top shows, when the former makes a low it is time to worry about the economy. Low points in the U3 UE rate slightly lead the beginning of recessions. Claims on the other hand are near coincident indicators of the stock market, this is to say, lows in initial claims tend to happen within a time period of four to six weeks surrounding major stock market peaks (in most cases they lead slightly, but small lags have occasionally occurred as well). Note: neither indicator confirms an imminent turning point as of yet – initial claims would e.g. have to rise to around 300k in order to do so. The same is true of other major recession indicators, their most recent readings do not yet confirm that the business cycle is about to turn down. However, there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that indicates such a downturn may soon be confirmed, including recent market moves (i.e., deteriorating stock prices and rising credit spreads). [PT]

Several backward looking economic fundamentals show all is well. Third quarter gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 3.5 percent. And the unemployment rate, if you exclude something called discouraged workers, is just 3.7 percent – a near 50 year low.  By these metrics, the economy’s never been better.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Stability without Growth: Keynes in an Age of Climate Breakdown

What do Keynesian Democrats think about the movement for post-growth and de-growth economics? Dean Baker, a senior economist at the Center for Economic Policy Research in Washington, DC, has given us some insight into this question. In a recent blog post, republished by Counterpunch, he takes aim at two articles that I wrote for Foreign Policy in which I argue that it is not feasible to reduce our emissions and resource use in line with planetary boundaries while at the same time pursuing exponential GDP growth.

Baker agrees — thankfully — that we need to dramatically reduce emissions and resource use to prevent ecological collapse. But he thinks that this is entirely compatible with continued GDP growth.

Let’s imagine, he says, that a new government imposes massive taxes on greenhouse gas emissions and resource extraction while at the same time increasing spending on clean technologies, with subsidies for electric vehicles and mass transit systems. Baker believes that this will shift patterns of consumption toward goods that are less emissions and resource intensive. People will spend their money on movies and plays, for example, or on gyms and nice restaurants and new computer software. So GDP will continue growing forever while emissions and resource use declines.

It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? I, for one, would embrace such an outcome. After all, if growth was green, why would anyone have a problem with it? Baker makes the mistake of believing that degrowthers are focused on reducing GDP. We are not. Like him, we want to reduce material throughput. But we accept that doing so will probably mean that GDP will not continue to grow, and we argue that this needn’t be a catastrophe — on the contrary, it can be managed in a way that improves people’s well-being.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Degrowth as a concrete utopia

Degrowth as a concrete utopia

Economic growth can’t reduce inequalities; it merely postpones confronting exploitation. Español

“My Visit to the Mountain Homestead.” Credit: Flickr/Eli Duke. CC BY 2.0.

The emergence of interest in degrowth can be traced back to the 1st International Degrowth Conference organized in Paris in 2008. At this conference, degrowth was defined as a “voluntary transition towards a just, participatory, and ecologically sustainable society,” so challenging the dogma of economic growth. Another five international conferences were organized between 2010 and 2018, with the latest in Malmo in August.

This year also saw the publication of Giorgos Kallis’ landmark book Degrowth,which opens with three bold statements. First, the global economy should slow down to avert the destruction of Earth’s life support systems, because a higher rate of production and consumption will run parallel to higher rates of damage to the environment. Hence, we should extract, produce and consume less, and we should do it all differently. Since growth-based economies collapse without growth we have to establish a radically different economic system and way of living in order to prosper in the future.

Second, economic growth is no longer desirable. An increasing share of GDP growth is devoted to ‘defensive expenditure,’ meaning the costs people face as a result of environmental externalities such as pollution. Hence, growth (at least in rich countries) has become “un-economic:” its benefits no longer exceed its costs.

Third, growth is always based on exploitation, because it is driven by investment that, in turn, depends on surplus. If capitalists or governments paid for the real value of work then they would have no surplus and there would be no growth. Hence, growth cannot reduce inequalities; it merely postpones confronting exploitation.

The growth paradigm.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Global GDP Still Propped Up By A Massive Amount Of Debt

Global GDP Still Propped Up By A Massive Amount Of Debt

While the government agencies and economists continue to publish strong GDP figures, they seem to overlook how much debt it took to produce that growth.  Or should I say, the “supposed growth.”  The days of adding one dollar of debt to get one dollar of GDP growth have been long gone for more than 40 years.  And, as global debt has increased, it has forced governments to lower interest rates.

Yes, it’s really that simple.  I get a good chuckle when I hear analysts talk about rising interest rates to 10-15%.  If the U.S. Government interest rate on the Treasury Bonds increased to just 5%, Uncle Sam would be paying over a trillion dollars a year just to service the debt.  So, no… we aren’t going to see 10-15% rates again.

Well, we could… but, most of the global debt would have to collapse or be forgiven.  Unfortunately, if global debt vaporizes or is forgiven, then the entire economy collapses as well.  We must remember, GDP growth is also driven by oil production growth.  There is no way in HADES that the oil industry can fund future production with 10-15% interest rates.  IT JUST AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN.

Why?  If it weren’t for the Fed dropping rates down to nearly zero, the Great U.S. Shale Oil Ponzi Scheme and the six million barrels per day of unprofitable shale oil production would have been a pipe dream.  I can assure you that the shale oil industry could not fund operations or service their debt with 10-15% interest rates.

Most shale oil companies are paying on average between 4-5% interest to service their debt.  If the companies’ interest rates double or triple, then it would make it extremely difficult to service the shale industry debt that is estimated to be $280-$300 billion.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why we get bad diagnoses for the world’s energy-economy problems

Why we get bad diagnoses for the world’s energy-economy problems

The world economy seems to be seriously ill. The problem is not overly high oil prices, but that does not rule out energy as being a major underlying problem.

Two of the symptoms of the economy’s malaise are slow wage growth and increasing wage disparity. Tariffs are being added as solutions to these issues. Radical leaders are increasingly being elected. The Bank for International Settlements and the International Monetary Fund have raised concerns about the world’s aggregate debt levels. The IMF has even suggested that a second Great Depression might be ahead if major banks should fail in the manner that Lehman Brothers did in 2008.

Figure 1. Ratio of Core Debt Growth (non-financial debt including governmental debt) to GDP, based on data of the Bank of International Settlements.

If the economy were a human being, we would send it to a physician for a diagnosis regarding what is wrong. What really is needed is a physician who has a wide overview, and thus can understand the many symptoms. Hopefully, the physician can also provide a reasonable prognosis of what lies ahead.

Individual specialists studying the world’s economic and energy problems tend to look at these problems from narrow points of view. Some examples include:

  •  Curve fitting and cycle analysis using economic data by country since World War II, as is often performed by economists
  • Analysis of oil supply based on technically recoverable reserves or resources
  • Analysis of fresh water supply problems
  • Analysis of population problems, including rising population relative to arable land, and rising retiree population relative to working population
  • Analysis of ocean problems, including rising acidity and depleting fish stocks
  • Analysis of the expected impact of CO2 production from fossil fuels on climate
  • Analysis of rising debt levels

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Fourth Turning & War of the Worlds

THE FOURTH TURNING & WAR OF THE WORLDS

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“In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party. The catalyst will unfold according to a basic Crisis dynamic that underlies all of these scenarios: An initial spark will trigger a chain reaction of unyielding responses and further emergencies. The core elements of these scenarios (debt, civic decay, global disorder) will matter more than the details, which the catalyst will juxtapose and connect in some unknowable way. If foreign societies are also entering a Fourth Turning, this could accelerate the chain reaction. At home and abroad, these events will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric at points of extreme vulnerability – problem areas where America will have neglected, denied, or delayed needed action.” – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe

The paragraph above captures everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen during this Fourth Turning. It was written over two decades ago, but no one can deny its accuracy regarding our present situation. The spark was a financial crash. The response to the financial crash by the financial and governmental entities, along with their Deep State co-conspirators who created the financial collapse due to their greed and malfeasance, led to the incomprehensible election of Donald Trump, as the deplorables in flyover country evoked revenge upon the corrupt establishment.

The chain reaction of unyielding responses by the left and the right accelerates at a breakneck pace, with absolutely no possibility of compromise. A new emergency or winner take all battle seems to be occurring on a weekly basis, with the mid-term elections as the likely trigger for the next phase of this Fourth Turning.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Here’s a Simple Solution to the Growth/De-Growth Debate

HERE’S A SIMPLE SOLUTION TO THE GROWTH/DE-GROWTH DEBATE

A number of high-profile economists – people like Carlota Perez and Michael Liebreich – have recently come out swinging in favor of “green growth” theory, trying to assuage mounting public concerns about the fact that climate change and ecological breakdown are being driven by capitalist growth.

What’s interesting about these interventions is that they explicitly pit themselves against their opposite – the idea of de-growth.  Even just a year or two ago, de-growth wouldn’t have been part of the conversation.  Once the province of ecological economists, it’s now gaining more mainstream attention as the evidence against growth mounts – and orthodox economists have no choice but to reckon with it.

But as they try to edge their way around certain prickly facts, their arguments get stranger and stranger.

Green growth theory relies on the assumption that GDP growth can be permanently and absolutely decoupled from resource use and emissions, and at a pace that’s fast enough to reverse ecological breakdown and keep us under 1.5 degrees, so that GDP can continue growing forever while environmental impacts decline.

There’s just one problem.  There’s no evidence that this is feasible.

Let’s start with emissions.  Fortunately, we know that GDP can be absolutely decoupled from emissions.  The real question is whether we can decarbonize fast enough to stay under 1.5 degrees, without relying on fanciful negative emissions technologies.  The answer, sadly, is no.  If we carry on with growth as usual, we need to decarbonize at a rate of 11% per year. That’s more than five times faster than the historic rate of decarbonization and about three times faster than what scientists project is possible, even under highly optimistic conditions.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Degrowth: A Call For Radical Abundance

When orthodox economists first encounter the idea of degrowth, they often jump to the conclusion that the objective is to reduce GDP.  And because they see GDP as equivalent to social wealth, this makes them very upset.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I reject the fetishization of GDP as an objective in the existing economy, so it would make little sense for me to focus on GDP as the objective of a degrowth economy.  Wanting to cut GDP is as senseless as wanting to grow it.

The objective, rather, is to scale down the material throughput of the economy.  From an ecological standpoint, that’s what matters.  And indeed some orthodox economists might even agree.  Where we differ is that while they persist in believing (against the evidence) that this can be done while continuing to grow GDP, I acknowledge that it is likely to result in a reduction of GDP, at least as we presently measure it.  In other words, if we were to keep measuring the economy by GDP, that’s what we would see in a degrowth scenario.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay, because we know that human beings can thrive without extremely high levels of GDP.

There are many pieces to this argument, but I want to focus on one here in particular.  One of the core claims of degrowth economics is that by restoring public services and expanding the commons, people will be able to access the goods that they need to live well without needing high levels of income.

Take London, for instance.  Housing prices in London are astronomically high, to the point where a normal one-bedroom flat can cost upwards of $1 million.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

We Should Ditch GDP as a Measure of Economic Activity

This article exposes the false economic concepts behind GDP, which is only the visible tip of a large iceberg of economic deceit. Describing an increase in GDP as economic growth owes its meagre validity to imprecise definition. An economy does not grow, only the quantity of fiat currency deployed grows. A successful economy progresses our condition, our wealth, our standards of living. The evolution of misleading statistics such as GDP to their current condition is only governed by their usefulness to governments, not as an objective development of sound theory by seekers of truth.

There are perhaps two plausible reasons for producing the GDP statistic, other than employing statisticians, and both have nothing to do with economics. By compiling the figures, a government keeps track of its tax base, and it can enter into the game of my-country-is-bigger-than-yours.

In international comparisons of economic performance, gross domestic product adjusted for price inflation is the most common metric used. Countries are ranked by size, and success is measured by the rate of growth in GDP. This is important to the political class.

About two years ago, I was told that the Indonesian central bank had a plan to do away with cash entirely, because it would bring unrecorded transactions into Indonesia’s GDP, promoting it from sixteenth to perhaps the thirteenth largest nation measured by GDP. I have no idea if this was true, but allegedly, this was important to the Indonesian government.

We should not be surprised if going cashless is partly motivated to give the illusion of GDP growth, in the same way that in 2014 the EU decided to add in estimated contributions from prostitution and drug dealing. These are examples of why and how GDP is manipulated to produce a goal-sought answer.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US Gross National Debt Jumps by $1.27 Trillion in Fiscal 2018, Hits $21.5 Trillion

US Gross National Debt Jumps by $1.27 Trillion in Fiscal 2018, Hits $21.5 Trillion

But wait — these are the Boom Times!

The US gross national debt jumped by $84 billion on September 28, the last business day of fiscal year 2018, the Treasury Department reported Monday afternoon. During the entire fiscal year 2018, the gross national debt ballooned by $1.271 trillion to a breath-taking height of $21.52 trillion.

Just six months ago, on March 16, it had pierced the $21-trillion mark. At the end of September 2017, it was still $20.2 trillion. The flat spots in the chart below, followed by the vertical spikes, are the results of the debt-ceiling grandstanding in Congress:

These trillions are whizzing by so fast they’re hard to see. What was that, we asked? Where did that go?

Over the fiscal year, the gross national debt increased by 6.3% and now amounts to 105.4% of current-dollar GDP.

But this isn’t the Great Recession when tax revenues collapsed because millions of people lost their jobs and because companies lost money or went bankrupt as their sales collapsed and credit froze up; and when government expenditures soared because support payments such as unemployment compensation and food stamps soared, and because there was some stimulus spending too.

But no – these are the good times. Over the last 12-month period through Q2, the economy, as measured by nominal GDP grew 5.4%. “Nominal” GDP rather than inflation-adjusted (“real”) GDP because the debt isn’t adjusted for inflation either, and we want an apples-to-apples comparison.

The increases in the gross national debt have been a fiasco for many years. Even after the Great Recession was declared over and done with, the gross national debt increased on average by $954 billion per fiscal year from 2011 through 2017.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Strong GDP Data and Individuals’ Wellbeing

In the New York Times September 14 2018 in an article – We’re Measuring The Economy All Wrong, the writer of the article David Leonhardt complains that despite strong gross domestic product data (GDP) most people don’t feel it. The writer of the article argues that,

The trouble is that a handful of statistics dominate the public conversation about the economy despite the fact that they provide a misleading portrait of people’s lives. Even worse, the statistics have become more misleading over time.

According to the accepted rules of thumb, recessions are about at least two quarters of negative growth in real gross domestic product (GDP). Recessions, according to this way of thinking, are seen as something associated with the so-called strength of the economy. The stronger an economy is the less likely it is to fall into a recession. The major cause of recessions is seen as various shocks, such as a sharp increase in the price of oil or some disruptive political events, or natural disasters or a sudden fall in consumer outlays on goods and services. Obviously then, if an economy is strong enough to cope with these shocks then recessions can be prevented, or at least made less painful. For instance, a well-managed company with a well-managed inventory is likely to withstand the effects of various shocks versus a poorly managed company.

Severity of a recession and the strength of the economy

We suggest that recessions are not about two quarters of negative growth in real GDP, or declines in various economic indicators as such. They are also not about successful inventory management. We would suggest that recessions are not about how resilient an economy is to various external and internal shocks.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

There Goes The Credit Impulse: Why Chinese Consumption Is On The Verge Of Collapse

Recently we discussed how in addition to the widely manipulated Chinese GDP data, new concerns had emerged about official data involving Chinese industrial profits, because while China’s National Bureau of Statistics has traditionally reported positive year-on-year growth rates in percentage terms, growth in absolute yuan terms has been negative. This deviation, which barely happened in the past, has reinforced scepticism over the quality of Chinese “data” and fueled fresh suspicion that the NBS generates data outcomes that match the policy goals of the Chinese government leadership instead of reflecting the true state of the economy.

More recently, similar worries have been noted over China’s consumption data, which have been sending what Goldman politely calls “mixed signals lately”, and which a more cynical take would dub “massaged”, if not outright fabricated. Which, with China’s economy increasingly turning into a consumption-driven model like that of the US, is a problem if economists, analysts and investors are unable to get an accurate grasp on consumption trends in the world’s second largest economy.

The problem in a nutshell: NBS retail sales slowed in Q2 and also in July, while NBS household consumption expenditure and GDP final consumption contribution (quarterly data) rebounded relatively strongly in Q2. Other widely observed consumption data include 100 major retailers’ sales, with the data painting a bearish picture in recent months and showing negative year-over-year growth in July.

This, as Goldman notes in a Saturday report, has led many investors to ask: where does the divergence come from and how has consumption been growing in reality?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Turkey: A harbinger of a global debt crisis?

The economic crisis brewing in Turkey seems to have surprised many. This was probably, at least partly, due to the ‘period of tranquility’ created by the central banks with theirs ‘unorthodox measures’. Many seem to have imagined that the “synchronized global growth” spurt were here to last. But, it was just a mirage, run by the stimulus of China and the major central banks.

As we warned in May, the global quantitative tightening will bring an end to the current business cycle. This is for a multitude of reasons (see Q-review 1/2018), but the most pressing of them is the fact that QT will raise interest rates and suppress liquidity. It will raise the costs of indebted companies, drive zombie companies to insolvency and ultimately crash the asset markets. A global debt crisis of epic proportions and depression are likely to follow. Turkey is showing what it might look like.

The debt conundrum

The current business cycle has had two exceptional features. First has been the steep rise in the balance sheets of central banks and the second the very fast growth of the non-financial sector debt, especially in the emerging economies. Figure 1 presents the private non-financial sector debt as a percentage of GDP in advanced and emerging economies. It shows the miniscule deleveraging in advanced economies and the harrowing rise in the private non-financial debt in the emerging economies since 2009.

Figure 1. Credit (debt) to non-financial private sector as a share of GDP in advanced and emerging economies. Source: GnS Economics, BIS

The rise of the non-financial private debt in emerging economies coincides with the QE programs of the major central banks.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

If the Economy is So Good, Why are Wages Flat?

If the Economy is So Good, Why are Wages Flat?

Photo by Nathaniel St. Clair

We are supposedly seven years into a “recovery” from the global economic collapse that commenced in 2008. The latest evidence offered to promote this oft-peddled mantra is that U.S. gross domestic product showed a strong uptick for the second quarter of 2018, an annualized rate of 4.1 percent, nearly double that of the first quarter.

Coupled with the ongoing decline in unemployment (although standard unemployment rates greatly underestimate the true rate of employment), orthodox economists, conservative propagandists and apologists for the Trump administration would have use believe happy days are here again.

So why aren’t our wages increasing?

In part, it is because the true unemployment rate is not nearly so low as the “official” unemployment rate used by governments around the world, and thus the ranks of unemployed and underemployed are sufficiently large that there is no upward pressure on wages. Orthodox economists, dedicated as they are to ignoring any evidence that doesn’t match their models designed to “prove” that all manners of capitalist excess are as natural as the tides of the ocean — and thus in practice the professional wing of conservative propagandists — have various excuses for stagnant wages and ever increasing inequality. A favorite among these is an alleged “skills mismatch” — too many unskilled workers and a shortage of skilled workers for the high-tech jobs of today.

The data tells a different story, however. A 2014 report by the National Employment Law Project found that low-wage jobs were created at a faster pace than higher-paid jobs were lost in the first years to that point. The Project reported this breakdown:

* Lower-wage industries ($9.48 per hour to $13.33) constituted 22 percent of the 2008-2010 losses, but 44 percent of jobs gained since then.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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