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Lockdowns Make Time Stand Still


Rembrandt van Rijn Student at a table by candlelight c.1642
We would by now have expected the narrative surrounding COVID19 to be simpler to understand, but it’s not. We may understand much more about the disease and everything that has to do with it, but we’re finding there is so much that has been left unsaid, not discussed, neglected.

The discussion has been stuck in an All Else Being Equal (Ceteris Paribus) mode, but all things do not remain equal. It’s not even as if you get rid of the disease, all your problems go away. Not only do various COVID measures inflict huge damage on economies, on people’s jobs and incomes, they also cause entire new sets of health problems.

Epidemiologists and virologists are not equipped for such massive problems. They may be able to say the odd wise word in their field -and even that will be 90% rear-view mirror stuff, because they must compare what they see to what happened in the past-, but the disease doesn’t only affect their field. It affects many fields they have no knowledge of.

Their ideas are then taken on board by economists, not exactly the most scientific of sciences, and off go the government policies. But that was 6-7 months ago, and we learned so much since, right? By now we have involved for instance mental health experts on a large scale, right? Yeah, sure.

The point is, you can’t force lockdowns, masks etc. onto people, without looking at what the consequences of that will be. Because all things do not remain equal for 6-7 months.

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

How to Tackle the Depression Head On

How to Tackle the Depression Head On

“I want to see people get money.” – Donald J. Trump, U.S. President, September 17, 2020

“Now is not the time to worry about shrinking the deficit or shrinking the Fed balance sheet.” – Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, September 14, 2020

Money for the People

The real viral contagion that has infected the American populace is not an illness of the body.  It’s something far worse than COVID-19.  The American populace is suffering from an illness of the mind.

The general malady, as we diagnose it, is the unwavering belief that the government has an endless supply of free money, and the expectation that everyone, except the stinking rich, has claim to it.  Why pursue self-reliance and independence when a series of stimulus acts promises the more abundant life?  This viral contagion’s really ripped through the population in 2020.

For example, just a year ago, the American populace thought they could all live off the forced philanthropy of their neighbors.  That to pay Paul you had to first rob Peter.  The CARES Act proved to Boobus americanus that, without a shadow of a doubt, there’s free ‘money for the people’ in Washington.  Sí se puede!

This week the Congress did its part to further the greatest show on earth.  The people want stimulus.  Congress intends to get to them, in good time.

Of course, the need to sprinkle the Country with printing press money was already a foregone conclusion.  There was no discussion of the wisdom of not having a stimulus bill.  The debate at hand was centered on how much.

Crazy Nancy wants $3.4 trillion.  Senate Republicans want $500 billion.  Something called the House Problem Solvers Caucus wants $2 trillion.

President Trump wants Republicans to “go for the much higher numbers.”  His rationale: “it all comes back to the USA anyway (one way or another!).”

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

Harvest at Chez Cog

HARVEST AT CHEZ COG

It became obvious to Mrs. Cog and I by early February of this year (2020) that the next phase of socioeconomic crumble/chaos was being implemented both here in the USA as well as throughout the world. The rabbit hole just got deeper. Or more accurately, the deeper rabbit hole was just revealed.

Regardless of whether one believes the COVID-19 pandemic is real or not (we fall into that vast gray area in-between, which we are confidently informed by the mainstream media doesn’t actually exist) what is extremely hard to deny is the pandemic is being used politically to further enrich the already obscenely rich while turning the little people screws even tighter.

Case in point….27 million people remain unemployed (with more to follow as we enter the next stage of Great Depression 2.0) while the personal wealth of Jeff Bezos just passed $200 Billion…essentially doubling in less than 7 months.

For those of you who are like me and have a hard time with large numbers (I’m lost after counting 10 fingers and 10 toes) 200 billion is 200,000 times one million dollars. One billion is a thousand million. 200 billion is two hundred thousand million.

Clearly Bezos doesn’t need to sweat the rent or mortgage.

What this all meant to us back in February was we needed to accelerate our plans to install a greenhouse, along with other final touches to our little homestead we call home sweet home. While the capital improvements are never finished, the greenhouse was the last major building block we’d planned for many years.

Like busy beavers trying to beat the rising creek, we have been going non-stop since spring. Not only did I personally build and install the greenhouse on top of the contractor assisted leveled and graveled building pad (I also trenched in water and electric) but we also expanded the tilled portion of our fenced in garden by about 30%. This was all above and beyond the ‘normal’ things that need to be done in order to maintain our semi self sufficient lifestyle.

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

The Numbers Tell Us That The ‘Economic Recovery’ Is Dead And Businesses Are Failing At A Staggering Pace

The Numbers Tell Us That The ‘Economic Recovery’ Is Dead And Businesses Are Failing At A Staggering Pace

Even though economic conditions were absolutely awful, during the month of June the mainstream media kept insisting that the U.S. economy was “recovering” and the stock market kept surging on every hint of good news.  But now the “economic recovery” narrative is completely dead, because the numbers clearly show that the U.S. economy is rapidly moving in the wrong direction.  On Thursday, the Labor Department announced that another 1.416 million Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week.  Prior to this year, the all-time record for a single week was just 695,000, and so we are talking about a level of unemployment that is absolutely catastrophic.  But what is really alarming many analysts is that the number for last week was quite a bit higher than the number for the week before.  Many states are rolling out new restrictions as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to surge, and this is having a huge impact on economic activity.  For months I have been warning that fear of COVID-19 would prevent economic activity from returning to normal levels for the foreseeable future, and that is precisely what has happened.

Overall, more than 52 million Americans have filed new claims for unemployment benefits over the past 18 weeks, and that makes this the biggest spike in unemployment in U.S. history by a very wide margin.

In fact, this dwarfs all previous spikes by so much that the others are not even worth mentioning.

Of course it isn’t just the employment numbers that are depressingly bad.  According to Jefferies, in late June 19 percent of all U.S. small businesses were closed, but now that number has risen to 24.5 percent

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

The new deal is a bad old deal

The new deal is a bad old deal

So far, the current economic situation, together with the response by major governments, compares with the run-in to the depression of the 1930s. Yet to come in the repetitious credit cycle is the collapse in financial asset values and a banking crisis.

When the scale of the banking crisis is known the scale of monetary inflation involved will become more obvious. But in the politics of it, Trump is being set up as the equivalent of Herbert Hoover, and presumably Joe Biden, if he is well advised, will soon campaign as a latter-day Roosevelt. In Britain, Boris Johnson has already called for a modern “new deal”, and in his “Hundred Days” his Chancellor is delivering it.

In the thirties, prices fell, only offset by the dollar’s devaluation in January 1934. This time, monetary inflation knows no limit. The wealth destruction through monetary inflation will be an added burden to contend with compared with the situation ninety years ago.

Introduction

Boris Johnson recently compared his reconstruction plan with Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal. Such is the myth of FDR and his new deal that even libertarian Boris now invokes them. Unless he is just being political, he shows he knows little about the economic situation that led to the depression.

It would not be unusual, even for a libertarian politician. FDR is immensely popular with the inflationists who overwhelmingly wrote the economic history of the depression era. In fact, FDR was not the first “something must be done” American president, a policy which started with his predecessor, Herbert Hoover. But the story told is that FDR took over from heartless Hoover who had failed to step in and rescue the economy from a free-market catastrophe, by standing back and letting events take their course instead.

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

Drumbeats of the Epocalypse: The Economic Death March Has Come to Town!

Drumbeats of the Epocalypse: The Economic Death March Has Come to Town! 

Photo of breadlines during the Great Depression

The coronavirus pandemic inflicted a “swift and massive shock” that has caused the broadest collapse of the global economy since 1870 despite unprecedented government support, the World Bank said.

“This is a deeply sobering outlook, with the crisis likely to leave long-lasting scars and pose major global challenges,” said World Bank Group Vice President for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions Ceyla Pazarbasioglu….

The depth of the crisis will drive 70 to 100 million people into extreme poverty.

Yahoo! News

The Depression is deep, and the pain is wide.

Yet, the NADAQ is a rocket, attempting to break out of earth’s atmosphere. As I wrote several days ago and reiterated yesterday, saying I’d follow up with greater detail today, this bubble in stocks is the most extreme euphoria ever seen. It will, however, blow when the initial burst of good news from reopening gives way to the reality of all that did not recover after reopening.

That endless lineup of headlines is arriving now.

Since COVID-19 has been rebuilding its claimed outbreaks around the nation in the news, the market has become troubled, knocking the S&P 500 and the Dow back down to that seemingly magical 61% retracement fibonacci line on the charts that really big rallies after really big crashes like to top out at. 

As I mentioned yesterday, the Nasdaq has pressed on ahead in a tear. Here is how it looks relative to the rest of the economy (GDP). See if this picture looks stable to you:

Northman Trader

And how well did that work out last time?

“Ahh,” you may say, “but this time it is only because then denominator (GDP) has crashed so hard.” 

“Nay,” I say.

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

Global Trade Recovery Could Be Weakened By Multiple Disputes

Global Trade Recovery Could Be Weakened By Multiple Disputes

According to CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, world trade experienced an “unprecedented” decline in April as major economies suffered from strict lockdowns due to coronavirus. The volume of global trade in goods dropped by 12.1% MoM in April (the largest monthly contraction since records began in 2000). On a three-month moving average, the index was also down 7.2% in April (largest decline since March 2009) and should contract even more in May.

However, WTO Director‑General, Roberto Azevêdo, noted that “The fall in trade we are now seeing is historically large – in fact, it would be the steepest on record. But there is an important silver lining here: it could have been much worse.” In the details, the latest WTO report highlighted that “In light of available trade data for the second quarter, the April forecast’s pessimistic scenario, which assumed even greater health and economic costs than what had transpired, appears less likely.”

As a matter of fact, latest high frequency data suggest that the worst seems behind us (if there is no second coronavirus wave later this year) with the Baltic Dry Index recovering since late May/early June. Looking at the 20-day moving average, the index could even turn positive on a YoY basis in early July.

The ongoing normalization (reopening) in China, Eurozone, several U.S. states and Asian countries imply that both private investment and household expenditures will mechanically rebound from 3Q20 so that global trade growth will exit almost two years of recession.

Nevertheless, excluding several risks such as a second coronavirus wave, several trade disputes could slow the recovery. First of all, the long-lasting clash between U.S. and China. Despite positive comments from U.S. officials, the latest figures showed that, even if China boosts significantly its purchases of U.S. goods, it will be far from meetings U.S. demands defined in the “phase one” agreement.

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

Americans Have Already Skipped Payments On More Than 100 Million Loans, And Job Losses Continue To Escalate

Americans Have Already Skipped Payments On More Than 100 Million Loans, And Job Losses Continue To Escalate

Those that have been hoping for some sort of a “V-shaped recovery” have had their hopes completely dashed.  U.S. workers continue to lose jobs at a staggering rate, and economic activity continues to remain at deeply suppressed levels all over the nation.  Of course this wasn’t supposed to happen now that states have been “reopening” their economies.  We were told that things would soon be getting back to normal and that the economic numbers would rebound dramatically.  But that is not happening.  In fact, the number of Americans that filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week was much higher than expected

Weekly jobless claims stayed above 1 million for the 13th consecutive week as the coronavirus pandemic continued to hammer the U.S. economy.

First-time claims totaled 1.5 million last week, higher than the 1.3 million that economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting. The government report’s total was 58,000 lower than the previous week’s 1.566 million, which was revised up by 24,000.

To put this in perspective, let me once again remind my readers that prior to this year the all-time record for a single week was just 695,000.  So even though more than 44 million Americans had already filed initial claims for unemployment benefits before this latest report, there were still enough new people losing jobs to more than double that old record from 1982.

That is just astounding.  We were told that the economy would be regaining huge amounts of jobs by now, but instead job losses remain at a catastrophic level that is unlike anything that we have ever seen before in all of U.S. history.

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

No, The U.S. Economy Will Definitely Not Be Returning To “Normal”. In Fact, Things Will Soon Get Even Worse.

No, The U.S. Economy Will Definitely Not Be Returning To “Normal”. In Fact, Things Will Soon Get Even Worse.

2020 has been quite a year so far.  It has been one nightmare after another, and yet the economic optimists continue to insist that economic activity will soon snap back to normal levels somehow.  So the economic optimists aren’t really alarmed by the fact that the core areas of our major cities have been torched, gutted and looted by rioters, because they assume that all of this violence is just a temporary phenomenon and that any damage that has been done can be repaired.  And they aren’t really alarmed by the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic is starting to escalate again.  In fact, over the last seven days we have seen the number of newly confirmed cases around the globe hit levels that we have never seen before.  They just assume that “the worst is behind us” and that the vast majority of the businesses and jobs that have been lost during this pandemic will be quickly recovered.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they were actually correct?

Sadly, the truth is that economic conditions will not be returning to normal.  Yes, some of the jobs that were lost will be recovered as states start to “reopen” their economies.  But more than 100,000 businesses have already permanently closed during this new economic downturn, and all of those jobs are lost forever.

And yes, the level of economic activity will rise as states end their lockdowns, but it will still be much lower than it was before COVID-19 started spreading like wildfire in the United States.

At this point, even the perpetually optimistic OECD is admitting that global economic activity as a whole will be way down in 2020

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

Most U.S. States Have ‘Reopened’ Their Economies, So Why Does Unemployment Continue To Spiral Out Of Control?

Most U.S. States Have ‘Reopened’ Their Economies, So Why Does Unemployment Continue To Spiral Out Of Control?

This wasn’t supposed to happen.  Once states started to “reopen” their economies, the tsunami of unemployment was supposed to end.  But instead, we continue to see Americans lose jobs at a pace that is far beyond anything we have ever seen before in all of U.S. history.  All the way back in 1982, there was a week when 695,000 Americans filed initial claims for unemployment benefits, and that all-time record was never broken until this year.  Of course we have seen monster number after monster number here in 2020, and we just learned that last week another 1.877 million Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits…

Filings for unemployment insurance claims totaled 1.877 million last week in a sign that the worst is over for the coronavirus-related jobs crisis but that the level of unemployment remains stubbornly high.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for 1.775 million new claims. The Labor Department’s total nevertheless represented a decline from the previous week’s upwardly revised total of 2.126 million.

So even though more than 40 million Americans had already lost their jobs in 2020, there were still enough people losing their jobs last week to surpass the old record from 1982 by more than a million.

Just think about that.

Overall, a grand total of 42.6 million Americans have now lost their jobs since the pandemic began, and that makes this the largest spike in unemployment in all of U.S. history by a very wide margin.

And when the monthly employment report comes out on Friday, the official U.S. unemployment rate is expected to surpass 20 percent

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

10 Numbers That Show The U.S. Has Fallen Into A Horrifying Economic Depression

10 Numbers That Show The U.S. Has Fallen Into A Horrifying Economic Depression

The last recession was really, really bad, but it was never like this.  It is time for us to face reality, and that means admitting that the U.S. economy has plunged into a depression.  This is already the worst economic downturn that America has experienced since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and we are right in the middle of the largest spike in unemployment in all of U.S. history by a very wide margin.  Of course it was fear of COVID-19 that burst our economic bubble, and fear of this virus is going to be with us for a very long time to come.  So we need to brace ourselves for an extended economic crisis, and at this point even Time Magazine is openly referring to this new downturn as an “economic depression”.  Needless to say, there will be a tremendous amount of debate about how deep it will eventually become, but everyone should be able to agree that our nation hasn’t seen anything like this since before World War II.

In order to prove my point, let me share the following 10 numbers with you…

#1 According to a study that was just released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, more than 100,000 U.S. businesses have already permanently shut down during this pandemic, and that represents millions of jobs that are never coming back.

#2 The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is now projecting that U.S. GDP will shrink by 42.8 percent during the second quarter…

A new GDP forecast from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta for the three months through June estimates an unprecedented drop of 42.8 percent. The bank describes the data as a “nowcast” or real-time, compared with the official government report of GDP, which is dated. The first-quarter preliminary data, which showed a 4.8 percent dip, included a limited period of impact from COVID-19.

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

A Taste Of What Is Coming – Food Prices Just Increased By The Most That We Have Seen Since 1974

A Taste Of What Is Coming – Food Prices Just Increased By The Most That We Have Seen Since 1974

Get ready to pay much more for groceries.  I have been warning that the flood of new money that the Federal Reserve and Congress have been pumping into the system would have very serious consequences, and I have also been warning that food prices would be shooting higher.  When things start getting really crazy, demand for food and other basic essentials goes way up, and meanwhile this pandemic has significantly disrupted production of certain products.  So even though most of the economy is currently still in a deflationary phase, food prices are beginning to spike.  In fact, the U.S. Labor Department says that we just witnessed the largest one month increase since February 1974

The Labor Department reported Tuesday that prices U.S. consumers paid for groceries jumped 2.6% in April, the largest one-month pop since February 1974. The spike in supermarket prices was broad based and impacted items from broccoli and ham to oatmeal and tuna.

The price of the meats, poultry, fish and eggs category rose 4.3%, fruits and vegetables climbed 1.5%, cereals and bakery products advanced 2.9%, and dairy goods gained 1.5%.

Sadly, this is just the beginning.

Prior to this pandemic, Americans spent about 10 percent of their incomes on food.

As this new economic depression deepens, expect that number to eventually more than double.

We live at a time when global food supplies are becoming increasing stressed for a variety of reasons.  In wealthy countries this is going to force food prices aggressively higher, and in poor countries this is going to mean that a lot of people simply will not have enough to eat.

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

U.S. Depression? The V-Shaped Recovery Fades Away

U.S. Depression? The V-Shaped Recovery Fades Away

The recent jobless claims figures show how difficult it will be for the U.S. recovery to be as quick and strong as initially expected.

  • 7.7 million jobs were lost in Hospitality and Leisure in April, 2.5 million in Education and Health, with 2 million in Retail and another 2 million in Professional Services. These sectors are unlikely to recover fast and enough to compensate the job losses of the past month and even less likely to see the same level of wages of 2019.
  • Credit card delinquencies are rising, and retail sales are going to see a very modest recovery because household debt is increasing, wages are under pressure and most citizens are changing their consumption patterns, looking to strengthen their savings in case another shock arrives.
  • Corporate debt is rising to new records due to the collapse in operating revenues. As such, companies will likely take all possible measures to conserve cash flow, reduce expenditure and be prudent about hiring decisions. This will lead to slower job creation and investment even once the economy opens.
  • Tax increases are likely to affect the recovery. The government deficit is soaring, with the Treasury looking at $2 trillion of new debt in 2020 due to the measures implemented to combat the economic impact of coronavirus. Unfortunately, the Democrats are looking to increase taxes just when the economy needs more investment and attraction of capital. If taxes rise significantly, what is already a weak outlook for capital expenditure and job creation is likely to worsen.

All of this makes a V-shaped recovery even more challenging than before. However, the U.S. economy is likely to recover faster than the Eurozone and suffer less in 2020.

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

We Are Witnessing Economic Carnage Like We Have Never Seen Before, And The Economy Is Going To Continue To Bleed Jobs

We Are Witnessing Economic Carnage Like We Have Never Seen Before, And The Economy Is Going To Continue To Bleed Jobs

Now we are up to 33.5 million jobs lost.  In just 7 weeks, the U.S. economy has been completely turned upside down, and the numbers are unlike anything that we have ever seen before.  On Thursday, the Labor Department announced that 3.17 million Americans filed initial claims for unemployment benefits last week.  That brings the grand total for this crisis up to 33.5 million, and that figure absolutely dwarfs what we witnessed during the last recession.  And as I discussed yesterday, even the mainstream media is now admitting that millions of those jobs are never coming back.

Yes, some Americans will be going back to work now that the lockdowns are being ended, but for now it is being projected that the job losses will continue to surpass any gains that are made by workers that are returning to their old jobs.

In fact, one prominent economist told CNBC that it will likely take until mid-June before the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits each week falls below a million…

At the current pace, the week claims numbers should fall below 1 million by mid-June, according to Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. “We’re very hopeful that June will see the beginnings of a rebound as states begin to reopen,” Shepherdson said.

To put that in perspective, prior to this year the all-time record for a single week was just 695,000.

So even when we get down to a million new claims each week, that will still be a catastrophic level.

And the truth is that these numbers don’t even tell the entire story.  Because state unemployment websites have been so overwhelmed, there are vast numbers of unemployed Americans that still have not been able to successfully file claims.

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

Straight Talk

Straight Talk

We live through very unique times, not only because of the shock of the coronavirus that recently hit the world unexpectedly, but also because of large complex structural issues that have been building for decades.

A popular mantra says the stock market is not the economy and the economy is not the stock market referring to the often seen disconnect between market prices and events taking place in the economy. The most recent example has been Wall Street rallying with each disastrous jobs report hitting the news wires. Even this last Friday markets rallied again unperturbed by the latest unemployment report showing the most severe collapse in employment in our recent history. Depression like figures, yet the Nasdaq is green on the year, the S&P 500 largely off the lows with many again predicting new highs to come. Why? Because of unprecedented liquidity flooding markets as a result of monetary intervention making the disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street even wider. We can pretend the stock market is not the economy, but there is no stock market without an economy yet we are witnessing an unprecedented disconnect between the two that has been building for years.

Can this disconnect be sustained? Are investors too optimistic about the current rally? What are the implications going forward?

These are complex issues everyone is confronted with and there are no easy answers. What an intellectually challenging and energizing time to be alive!

I am grabbling with these issues as much as you are, we all are. And for that reason the idea for an ongoing webinar arose, to find a format to discuss these issues in more depth and make the debate more accessible and personal.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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