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Van Halen, M&Ms, And The Next Market Downturn

Van Halen, M&Ms, And The Next Market Downturn

How watching the right indicators will avoid disaster

The planet-sized egos of rock & roll performers are legendary.

Few things symbolize this better than the outrageous requests they often make when on tour.

These requests are referred to as “riders”, and appear in the contract a tour venue receives in advance of the artist’s arrival. These contract riders specify the physical conditions that the singer/band requires to be in place before arriving to perform. Stage lighting settings, sound equipment, furnishings, etc — that kind of stuff.

And these rider requests can get pretty funky – often extremely so — when it comes to backstage perks the performers want.

For example: A wooden pond filled with koi carp (Eminem). A driver who will not speak or make eye contact (Katy Perry). 20 white kittens and 100 doves (Mariah Carey). Seven dwarves (Iggy Pop). 50,000 bees (Slayer). A sub-machine gun (Mötley Crüe). And, yes, even a great white shark (Hank III).

The practice of making these kind of outrageous demands stems from a rider Van Halen inserted into the contract for its 1982 world tour, which insisted on a bowl of M&Ms to be provided backstage, but with all of the brown M&Ms removed.

As this image below of the actual rider shows, the band was very explicit in its seriousness about this:

Once the media got whiff of this, it had a field day roasting the band’s narcissistic chutzpah. A new high-water mark of diva capriciousness had been established, which quickly became legend. A feat of prima donna pampering that subsequent performers have been trying to top ever since.

But as crazy as it sounds, Van Halen’s “no brown M&Ms” rider had nothing to do with caprice. There was a solid rationale behind it.

In fact, it was quite brilliant.

 

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

Finding the Root Cause of Recessions

Finding the Root Cause of Recessions

Two things bear most of the blame: external shocks and economic volatility.
Beware of shocks.
Photographer: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

The U.S. managed to avoid recession after the financial crisis, but Japan has succumbed to three contractions since 2009. Economic volatility is a key reason for this divergence, and that tells us a great deal about the risk of future U.S. recessions.

During this decade, both the U.S. and Japan have experienced multiple growth rate cycles, which consist of alternating periods of rising and falling economic growth. Japan had four growth rate cycle (GRC) downturns, three of which turned into recessions; the U.S. experienced three GRC downturns, none of which were recessionary. Why not?

In 2011, a Federal Reserve paper estimated the U.S. economy’s “stall speed,” below which it would plunge into a recession. U.S. growth promptly dropped below that threshold, yet no recession followed. So the concept — which seemed to have worked quite well since the 1950s — broke down and dropped out of the discourse.

Specifically, that estimate of the economy’s stall speed was 2 percent two-quarter annualized growth in real gross domestic income. In theory, the GDI is equal to real GDP, but is measured differently. While GDP adds up what the economy produces, such as goods and services, GDI sums up incomes, including wages, profits and taxes. The chart shows two-quarter annualized growth in real GDP for Japan (red line) and the U.S. (blue line), along with the 2 percent stall speed estimate

Most believe recessions are caused by shocks that then propagate through the economy. In contrast, our research shows that endogenous cyclical forces periodically open up windows of vulnerability for the economy, and that, once it is cyclically vulnerable, almost any exogenous shock can easily tip it into recession. Because such shocks tend to arrive sooner or later, an economy’s entry into a susceptible state is almost always followed by recession.

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

US Companies Are More Indebted, More Leveraged, Less Profitable, And More Richly Valued Than Ever

US Companies Are More Indebted, More Leveraged, Less Profitable, And More Richly Valued Than Ever

Via MauldinEconomics.com,

Once again I start with a warning: A recession is eventually coming and a financial crisis with it. There is a real potential for it to come soon, although serious tax reform could delay it.

But sooner or later, the pressures of too much government debt and too many government promises, plus growth that is continually grinding slower, will break out into a recession.

There is always another recession.

You can’t run your life and business as if you expect one to happen tomorrow, but you can make contingency plans. With each passing day, recession gets closer, but that’s no reason to be fearful if you’re prepared.

Troublesome Facts

Most have helpful source links, too. Here’s a short recap:

  • The S&P 500 cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings (CAPE) valuation has only been higher on one occasion, in the late 1990s. It is currently on par with levels preceding the Great Depression.
  • Total domestic corporate profits (w/o IVA/CCAdj) have grown at an annualized rate of just .097% over the last five years. Prior to this period and since 2000, five-year annualized profit growth was 7.95%. (Note: Period included two recessions.)
  • Over the last 10 years, S&P 500 corporations have returned more money to shareholders via share buybacks and dividends than they have earned.
  • At $8.6 trillion, corporate debt levels are 30% higher today than at their prior peak in September 2008.
  • At 45.3%, the ratio of corporate debt to GDP is at historical highs, having recently surpassed levels preceding the last two recessions.

In short, US corporations are simultaneously more indebted, less profitable, and more highly valued than they have been in a long time.

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

Why The Next Recession Will Morph into a Decades Long Depressionary Event…Or Worse

Why The Next Recession Will Morph into a Decades Long Depressionary Event…Or Worse

Economists spend inordinate time gauging the business cycle that they believe drives the US economy.  However, the real engine running in the background (and nearly entirely forgotten) is the population cycle.  The positive population cycle is such a long running macro trend thousands of years in the offing that it’s taken for granted.  It is wrongly assumed that upon every business cycle downturn, accommodative monetary and fiscal policies will ultimately spur greater demand and restart the business cycle once the excess capacity and inventories are drawn down.  However, I contend that the population cycle has been the primary factor in ending each recession…and this most macro of cycles is now rolling over.  Without this, America (nor the world) will truly emerge from the next recession…instead it will morph into an unending downward cycle of partial recoveries…contrary to all contemporary human experience.

The evidence for my contention begins with the 25-54yr/old US population, which peaked in December 2007 and remains below that peak ever since (this population is presently about 400k fewer than Dec of ’07).  However, total US full time employment is now 3.6 million above the previous peak in 2007.  This 25-54 to FT employment relationship is now 1:1…just as it was in 1980 and 1970.

Annual change in 25-54yr/old US population vs. annual change in total full time US employees (below).  The macro population cycle provided millions of new adults (consumers) and their increased demand restarted the more frequent gyrations of the micro business cycles…until 2008 and again now in 2017.  Some may take note that the Federal Reserve cost of money (the Federal Funds Rate in blue) generally followed the population cycle, only making some deviations for the business cycle along the way.But the change per 8 year periods of the 25-54yr/old population and total US full time employment turns out to be not so dissimilar.  In fact, it’s a pretty nice correlation.

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

The Next Recession May Be A Complete Reset Of All Asset Valuations

The Next Recession May Be A Complete Reset Of All Asset Valuations

Sometime this year, world public and private plus unfunded pensions will surpass $300 trillion. That is not even counting the $100 trillion in US government unfunded liabilities. Oops.

These obligations cannot be paid. A time is coming when the market and voters will realize this.

Will voters decide to tax “the rich” more? Will they increase their VAT rates and further slow growth? Will they reduce benefits? No matter what they decide, hard choices will bring political turmoil.

And that, of course, will mean market turmoil.

The Great Reset Will Cause a Horrible Global Recession

We are coming to a period I call “the Great Reset.” As it hits, we will have to deal, one way or another, with the largest twin bubbles in the history of the world. One of those bubbles is global debt, especially government debt. The other is the even larger bubble of government promises. The other is the even larger bubble of government promises.

History shows it is more than likely that the US will have a recession in the next few years. When it does come, it will likely blow the US government deficit up to $2 trillion a year.

Obama took eight years to run up a $10 trillion debt after the 2008 recession. It might take just five years after the next recession to run up the next $10 trillion.

Here is a chart my staff at Mauldin Economics created in late 2016 using Congressional Budget Office data. It shows what will happen in the next recession if revenues drop by the same percentage as they did in the last recession (without even counting likely higher expenditures this time).

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

What Should Be the Correct Money Supply Growth Rate?

Most economists believe that a growing economy requires a growing money stock, on grounds that growth gives rise to a greater demand for money, which must be accommodated.

Failing to do so, it is maintained, will lead to a decline in the prices of goods and services, which in turn will destabilize the economy and lead to an economic recession or, even worse, depression.

Since growth in money supply is of such importance, it is not surprising that economists are continuously searching for the right, or the optimum, growth rate of the money supply.

Some economists who are the followers of Milton Friedman – also known as monetarists – want the central bank to target the money supply growth rate to a fixed percentage. They hold that if this percentage is maintained over a prolonged period of time it will usher in an era of economic stability.

The idea that money must grow in order to sustain economic growth gives the impression that money somehow sustains economic activity.

According to Rothbard,

Money, per se, cannot be consumed and cannot be used directly as a producers’ good in the productive process. Money per se is therefore unproductive; it is dead stock and produces nothing[1].

Money’s main job is simply to fulfill the role of the medium of exchange. Money doesn’t sustain or fund real economic activity. The means of sustenance, or funding, is provided by saved real goods and services. By fulfilling its role as a medium of exchange, money just facilitates the flow of goods and services between producers and consumers.

Historically, many different goods have been used as the medium of exchange. On this, Mises observed that, over time,

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

This Region Of The World Is Being Hit By The Worst Economic Collapse It Has Ever Experienced

This Region Of The World Is Being Hit By The Worst Economic Collapse It Has Ever Experienced

South America On The Globe - Public DomainThe ninth largest economy in the entire world is currently experiencing “its longest and deepest recession in recorded history”, and in a country right next door people are being encouraged to label their trash so that the thousands upon thousands of desperately hungry people that are digging through trash bins on the streets can find discarded food more easily.  Of course the two nations that I am talking about are Brazil and Venezuela.  The Brazilian economy was once the seventh largest on the globe, but after shrinking for eight consecutive quarters it has now fallen to ninth place.  And in Venezuela the economic collapse has gotten so bad that more than 70 percent of the population lost weight last year due to a severe lack of food.  Most of us living in the northern hemisphere don’t think that anything like this could happen to us any time soon, but the truth is that trouble signs are already starting to erupt all around us.  It is just a matter of time before the things currently happening in Brazil and Venezuela start happening here, but unfortunately most people are not heeding the warnings.

Just a few years ago, the Brazilian economy was absolutely roaring and it was being hailed as a model for the rest of the world to follow.  But now Brazil’s GDP has been imploding for two years in a row, and this downturn is being described as “the worst recession in recorded history” for that South American nation…

Latin America’s largest economy Brazil has contracted by 3.6 percent in 2016, shrinking for the second year in a row; statistics agency IBGE said on Tuesday. It confirmed the country is facing its longest and deepest recession in recorded history.

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

“Recessionary” Demand Forces New York Harbor To Divert Gasoline Shipments

“Recessionary” Demand Forces New York Harbor To Divert Gasoline Shipments

Two weeks ago, Goldman analysts were stunned when they noted that in recent weeks gasoline demand in the US has collapsed to levels that suggest not all is well with the economy. In fact, as the bank’s oil expert Damien Courvalin said “to achieve the 5.9% decline suggested by the weekly data, our model requires PCE to contract 6%, in other words, a recession.”

Goldman then quickly changed the unpleasant narrative – one which would suggest that the US economy is in far worse shape than official data represent – and provided several alternative explanations why such a “sudden collapse is unlikely” and said that “we view the larger than seasonal ytd builds in US gasoline stocks as driven by transient supply factors rather than persistent demand issues.”

Perhaps, but so far those “transient” supply factors are only getting more chronic, and as supply continues to grow in anticipation of a demand bounce that refuses to materialize, leading to ever louder speculation that there is something very wrong with the US consumer…

… gasoline inventories have hit record levels, and nowhere is this more obvious than on the East Coast, where as Bloomberg writes overnight, “the biggest gasoline market in the U.S. is bursting at the seams.”

As a result, just like during last year’s unprecedented gasoline glut which, too, was supposed to be “transient”, but has only gotten worse, traders are now lining up to export gasoline and diesel from New York Harbor, an area that normally relies on fuel imports from Europe and eastern Canada.

While at least 6 cargoes that were headed to New York from Europe in January and early February were diverted to the Caribbean or the U.S. Gulf Coast, that wasn’t enough to stem the oversupply building up in terminals along the Eastern Seaboard. Record-high inventories in the region are now pushing prices low enough to turn the typical trade flow on its head.

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

Recession 2017? Things Are Happening That Usually Never Happen Unless A New Recession Is Beginning

Recession 2017? Things Are Happening That Usually Never Happen Unless A New Recession Is Beginning

New Crisis - Public DomainIs the U.S. economy about to get slammed by a major recession?  According to Gallup, U.S. economic confidence has soared to the highest level ever recorded, but meanwhile a whole host of key economic indicators are absolutely screaming that a new recession is beginning.  And if the U.S. economy does officially enter recession territory in 2017, it certainly won’t be a shock, because the truth is that we are well overdue for one.  Donald Trump has inherited quite an economic mess from Barack Obama, and it was probably inevitable that we were headed for a significant economic downturn no matter who won the election.

One of the key indicators to watch is average weekly hours.  When the economy shifts into recession mode, employers tend to start cutting back hours, and that is happening right now.  In fact, as Graham Summers has pointed out, we just witnessed the largest percentage decline in average weekly hours since the recession of 2008…

Average Weekly Hours

In addition to the decline in hours, Summers has suggested that there are a number of other reasons to believe that a new recession is here…

The fact is that the GDP growth of 4%-5% is not just around the corner. The US most likely slid into recession in the last three months. GDP growth collapsed in 4Q16, with a large portion of the “growth” coming from accounting gimmicks.

Consider the following:

  • Tax receipts indicate the US is in recession.
  • Gross private domestic investment indicates were are in a recession.
  • Retailers are showing that the US consumer is tapped out (see AMZN’s recent miss).
  • UPS, another economic bellweather, dramatically lowered 2017 forecasts.

To me, even more alarming is the tightening of lending standards.  In our debt-based economy, the flow of credit is absolutely critical to economic growth, and when credit starts to get tight that almost always leads to a recession.

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

David Collum: We’ve Got A Recession Coming

David Collum: We’ve Got A Recession Coming

A bad one, at that

Whether or not you’ve had time yet to plow your way through David Collum’s excellent 2016 Year in Review, our annual podcast with Dave always brings additional color to light — and this year’s is no exception.

Any model based on an assumed 7.5% return is doomed. As you get low returns, our pensions get in trouble. And whenever the returns shoot above the norm they say “Well, this is excess.” And they scoop it up. So every time they are above water they scoop it up. How? They stop contributing. They start using the money for other stuff. Think of a sine wave oscillating about the mean — even if you guessed the mean correctly, if every time it is on the high side you skim it you’ll never get the mean; and that’s what the pension managers have done. And companies just stop contributing to pension plans and started calling the retained funds “profits”, which causes equities to go up and makes the thing get out of whack.

We’ve got a recession coming, one of the full-blown kind. And I don’t know what will happen. My prediction is that it is going to be a bad one. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that is when things start unwinding, counter party risk kicks in and faulty business models start showing up as bad and they start collapsing. All the accounting problems that built up behind the scenes so that the people cook the books to get their bonuses up and they made these crazy assumptions — under the protective cloak of a recession, CEOs can get away with announcing anything because they say Hey, don’t look at me. It’s a recession.

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

The Floodgates Begin To Open

The Floodgates Begin To Open

Now “anemic” is becoming “non-existent.” In the US, mini-credit-bubbles like auto loans, home mortgages and student loans are sputtering, leading economists to dial back their rosy scenarios for 2016. The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow forecast for Q3 growth, for instance, was a robust 3.8% in August but is now less than 2% — and still falling.

gdp-now-oct-16

Not surprisingly, everyone is starting to panic. In the UK, where admittedly Brexit has created a unique situation:

Mark Carney: Bank of England will tolerate higher inflation for the sake of growth

(Telegraph) – Official data on Friday showed house building, infrastructure and public construction all slumped in August, indicating that the UK’s building industry is slowing sharply and could even enter a recession. Construction output dropped by 1.5pc in the month, an unexpected drop after growth of 0.6pc in July, according to the Office for National Statistics. Separate Bank of England figures showed banks suffered a big drop in demand in the months following the Brexit vote as fewer Britons were prepared to take major financial decisions. Demand for mortgages dipped strongly, with a net balance of 44pc of banks reporting a fall in customer interest – the biggest negative score in almost two years.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney told an audience in Nottingham that the current environment of low inflation was “going to change”, with the drop in the value of the pound likely to push up prices across the economy.

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

 

Great Causes, a Sea of Debt and the 2017 Recession

NORMANDY, FRANCE – We continue our work with the bomb squad. Myth disposal is dangerous work: People love their myths more than they love life itself. They may kill for money. But they die for their religions, their governments, their clans… and their ideas.

voltaireFamous French hippie and author Voltaire. He wears the same sardonic grin in every painting, whether he’s depicted at a young or an old age, doesn’t matter. His real name was François-Marie Arouet; he adopted the pen name Voltaire (one of 178 different ones he used) after spending 11 months incarcerated in a windowless cell in the Bastille, following the publication of a satirical verse in which he insinuated that the French regent practiced incest with his own daughter. Said regent was the infamous Duc d’Orleans, who shortly thereafter conspired with John Law to utterly ruin the country’s currency and economy in an early central banking experiment. Voltaire’s decision to insult him in advance reveals his excellent foresight and character judgment. The aristocracy was never sure whether it should fear Voltaire for his anti-authoritarian streak, or love him for his wit.

Some people think that even an idea as abstract as “freedom of speech” is worth dying for. It was Voltaire who said: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Most people jump onboard the train of a Great Cause with enthusiasm and conviction. But many have the good sense to hop off quietly before their lives are in real danger. We suspect that Mr. Voltaire would have done the same.

That’s why the deadliest myths are those that you can ride along with at no personal risk. Foreign wars, for example, are always a favorite.

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

88% Probability We Just Entered Recession & The Broken Monetary Mechanism That Got Us Here

88% Probability We Just Entered Recession & The Broken Monetary Mechanism That Got Us Here

But so allow me an attempt to mend some bridges.  Let’s start by looking at the various existing frameworks that drive economic policy.  We have Monetary policy (the banks), Fiscal policy (Congress), Microeconomic policy (Corporations).  So let’s look at each.

Let’s begin with Fiscal policy.  The very first issue that should jump out to everyone is that Congress has been utterly ineffective for almost 2 decades now.  That is because the partisanship has become so intense that there simply seems no room for compromise in an effort to get any reasonable piece of legislation done.  What we are left with is a slew of outdated fiscal policies.  Perhaps most detrimental is a corporate tax rate nearly twice that of many other developed nations.

The problem with relatively (to other nations) high corporate tax rates is it means that any domestic investment, everything else equal, has a significantly longer breakeven point.  Said another way, the return on domestic investment is much lower than the return on foreign capital investment (ceteris paribus).  This is a very intuitive concept, easily digestible by all.  The implication is that the relative level of corporate tax rates here in the US incentivize corporations to invest elsewhere.

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

Central Banks May Choose Helicopter Money Over Negative Rates

The US Federal Reserve (Fed) is considering raising rates. Is the “normalization” of interest rates about to happen which savers and investors have been yearning for? Most likely not. Policymakers are merely realizing that the policy of zero rates — or even negative rates as in the euro area or Switzerland — doesn’t work as intended.

The wider public is very much against it. Banks, for instance, run into trouble because their profits come under severe pressure in an environment of zero, let alone negative, interest rates. Bank clients start protesting as their bank deposits no longer earn a positive return. They even start redeeming their deposits in cash, thereby causing bank refinancing gaps.

Negative Rates Under Another Name

However, central banks are quite unlikely to abandon the idea of pushing real — that is inflation-adjusted — interest rates into the negative. What they might have in mind is allowing for “somewhat higher” nominal interest rates, accompanied by “somewhat higher” inflation, making sure that real interest rates remain in, or fall into, negative territory.

In this vein, the Federal Reserve of San Francisco suggested in a paper published on 15 August 2016 that monetary policy should rethink and possibly allow for an inflation of more than 2 percent.[1] The debate about higher inflation — say, 4 rather than 2 percent — is actually an old one; in academic circles it comes and goes in waves.

The central argument is that a somewhat higher inflation would “grease the wheel” of the economy, thereby supporting production and employment. Another argument has it that higher inflation would make it easier for the Fed to pull the economy out of recession, especially so if and when the “neutral interest rate” has come down considerably.

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

Global Recession? The Canadian Economy Shrinks At The Fastest Pace Since The Last Financial Crisis

Global Recession? The Canadian Economy Shrinks At The Fastest Pace Since The Last Financial Crisis

Canada - Public DomainThings have not been this bad for the Canadian economy since the last global recession.  During the second quarter of 2016, Canada’s GDP contracted at a 1.6 percent annualized rate.  That was the worst number in seven years, and it was even worse than most analysts were projecting.  This comes at a time when bad news is pouring in from all corners of the global economy.  While things in the United States are still relatively stable for the moment, the same cannot be said for much of the rest of the planet.  Canada in particular has been hit very hard by the collapse in oil prices, and the massive wildfire in northern Alberta back in May certainly did not help things.  The following comes from the BBC

The recent drop in GDP was larger than analysts had projected, but not far off the predicted 1.5% loss.

“[The figure] could have been worse, given the hit from the wildfire, and clearly confirms the disappointing downward trend in exports over the last few months,” said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

In May, wildfires devastated the parts of northern Alberta where much of Canada’s oil and natural gas is produced.

For many years, high oil prices and booming exports enabled the Canadian economy to significantly outperform the U.S. economy.  But now conditions have changed dramatically, and all of the economic bubbles up in Canada are starting to burst.  This includes the housing bubble, as we have seen home sales in the hottest markets such as Vancouver drop through the floor late in the summer.  In fact, it is being reported that home sales during the first two weeks of August in British Columbia were down a whopping 51 percent on a year over year basis.

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

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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