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No One Gets Out Of Here Alive

NO ONE GETS OUT OF HERE ALIVE

“The seasons of time offer no guarantees. For modern societies, no less than for all forms of life, transformative change is discontinuous. For what seems an eternity, history goes nowhere – and then it suddenly flings us forward across some vast chaos that defies any mortal effort to plan our way there. The Fourth Turning will try our souls – and the saecular rhythm tells us that much will depend on how we face up to that trial. The saeculum does not reveal whether the story will have a happy ending, but it does tell us how and when our choices will make a difference.”  – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

As we wander through the fog of history in the making, unsure who is lying and who is telling the truth, seemingly blind to what comes next, I look to previous Fourth Turnings for a map of what might materialize during the 2nd half of this current Fourth Turning. After a tumultuous, harrowing inception to this Crisis in 2008/2009, we have been told all is well and are in the midst of an eleven-year economic expansion, with the stock market hitting all-time highs.

History seemed to stop and we’ve been treading water for over a decade. Outwardly, the establishment has convinced the masses, through propaganda and money printing, the world has returned to normal and the future is bright. I haven’t bought into this provable falsehood. Looking back to the Great Depression, we can get some perspective on our current position historically.

The Dow is up 450% since its 2009 low, which is the metric used by the establishment to prove their money printing solutions have succeeded in lifting the country from the depths of despair and depression.

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

China Is Disintegrating: Steel Demand, Property Sales, Traffic All Approaching Zero

China Is Disintegrating: Steel Demand, Property Sales, Traffic All Approaching Zero

In our ongoing attempts to glean some objective insight into what is actually happening “on the ground” in the notoriously opaque Chinese economy which has been hammered by the Coronavirus epidemic, yesterday we showed several “alternative” economic indicators such as real-time measurements of air pollution (a proxy for industrial output), daily coal consumption (a proxy for electricity usage and manufacturing) and traffic congestion levels (a proxy for commerce), before concluding that China’s economy appears to have ground to a halt.

That conclusion was cemented after looking at some other real-time charts which suggest that there is a very high probability that China’s GDP in Q1 will not only flatline, but crater deep in the red for one simple reason: there is no economic activity taking place whatsoever.

We start with China’s infrastructure and fixed asset investment, which until recently accounted for the bulk of Chinese GDP. As Goldman writes in an overnight report, in the Feb 7-13 week, steel apparent demand is down a whopping 40%, but that’s only because flat steel is down “only” 12% Y/Y as some car plants have ordered their employee to return to work (likely against their will as the epidemic still rages).

However, it is the far more important – for China’s GDP – construction steel sector where apparent demand has literally hit the bottom of the chart, down an unprecedented 88%, or as Goldman puts it, “construction steel demand is approaching zero.”

But wait, there’s more.

Courtesy of Capital Economics, which has compiled a handy breakdown of real-time China indicators, we can see the full extent of just how pervasive the crash in China’s economy has been, starting with familiar indicator, the average road congestion across 100 Chinese cities, which has collapsed into the New Year and has since failed to rebound.

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

1937

1937

We’ve talked about the year 2000 comparison (Party like it’s 1999). In 2020 markets went onto a similar structural tear just having rammed relentlessly higher. In 2000 markets famously topped in March following the Fed’s Y2K inspired liquidity injections in 1999 as markets had vastly disconnected from fundamental reality. Now that the truth is out we also know that markets are now vastly disconnected from fundamentals.

And the 2000 comparisons still hold water on a number of measures, price to sales, price to ebitda, market cap to GDP and of course relative weightings in favor of the few as the rally continues to narrow.

The top 2 stocks now have gone complete vertical especially as it relates to their weighting in the S&P:

This chart from Carter Worth on Fast Money last night and even he pointed out how in the lead up to the 2000 top there was some back and forth, but not here, just completely uninterrupted vertical.

One of the 2 stocks being Microsoft, a stock that now has nearly doubled since 2019 with a market cap expansion of over $700 billion for a total market cap of over $1.4 trillion. Historic.

And add the top 4 and their market caps you get this same vertical picture:

Everything screams reversion and correction, but nothing. The market just keeps going up and they keep buying the big cap tech stocks. Risk free. Or so it seems.

And given the large weightings of these few stocks $NDX just keeps ramping up vertically as well, also far outside the monthly Bollinger band:

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

The Coming Exponential Silver Price Movement

The Coming Exponential Silver Price Movement

As the global highly-leveraged debt-based financial system comes under serious stress, investors are going to finally realize that the silver market is very tiny and extremely undervalued.  This is when we will likely see the exponential silver price movement.  And, it’s not a matter of “IF,” but rather a case of “WHEN.”

While most precious metals analysts focus on the systemic risks in the financial system to own Silver, I believe the real problem has to do with the HUGE ISSUES we are now facing with ENERGY.  In my newest video, The Coming Exponential Silver Price Movement, I discuss the two reasons why I believe we are going to BIG MOVE in the silver price.

In the video, I show why the huge U.S. Total Debt to GDP of 346% is unsustainable due to the coming collapse of the U.S. Shale Oil Industry.  Without oil production growth, there is no GDP growth. And, when there is no GDP growth, then the entire highly-leveraged debt-based financial system starts to disintegrate.

When Americans are faced with the task of “Protecting Wealth,” they will find out that “PAPER” or “DIGITS” will not make the CUT.  Why?  Paper money and Digits are based on future energy production.  Thus, they are ENERGY IOU’s.  However, Silver is money or wealth because it is a store of Energy Equivalent Value.

Also, in the video, I discuss some updated charts on U.S. Physical Silver Investment from 2010-2018 (Source: Metals Focus Silver Investment Report for the Silver Institute– OCT 2019):

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

Recession Arithmetic: What Would It Take?

Recession Arithmetic: What Would It Take?

David Rosenberg explores Recession Arithmetic in today’s Breakfast With Dave. I add a few charts of my own to discuss.

Rosenberg notes “Private fixed investment has declined two quarters in a row as of 2019 Q3. Since 1980, this has only happened twice outside of a recession.”

Here is the chart he presented.

Fixed Investment, Imports, Government Share of GDP

Since 1980 there have been five recessions in the U.S.and only once, after the dotcom bust in 2001, was there a recession that didn’t feature an outright decline in consumption expenditures in at least one quarter. Importantly, even historical comparisons are complicated. The economy has changed over the last 40 years. As an example, in Q4 of 1979, fixed investment was 20% of GDP, while in 2019 it makes up 17%. Meanwhile, imports have expanded from 10% of GDP to 15% and the consumer’s role has risen from 61% to 68% of the economy. All that to say, as the structure of the economy has evolved so too has its susceptibility to risks. The implication is that historical shocks would have different effects today than they did 40 years ago.

So, what similarities exist across time? Well, every recession features a decline in fixed investment (on average -9.8% from the pre-recession period), and an accompanying decline in imports (coincidentally also about -9.5% from the pre-recession period). Given the persistent trade deficit, it’s not surprising that declines in domestic activity would result in a drawdown in imports (i.e. a boost to GDP).

So, what does all of this mean for where we are in the cycle? Private fixed investment has declined two quarters in a row as of 2019 Q3. Since 1980, this has only happened two other times outside of a recession. The first was in the year following the burst of the dotcom bubble, as systemic overinvestment unwound itself over the course of eight quarters.

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

GDP Estimates Crash on Dismal Economic Reports

GDP Estimates Crash on Dismal Economic Reports

GDP Estimates are well below 1.0% following industrial production and retail sales estimates.

The GDPNow model forecast for the fourth quarter took a dive today to 0.3% from 1.0% a week ago. Similarly, the Nowcast model fell to 0.4% from 0.7%.

Pat Higgins at GDPNow explains:

“The GDPNow model estimate for real GDP growth (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the fourth quarter of 2019 is 0.3 percent on November 15, down from 1.0 percent on November 8. After this morning’s retail trade releases from the U.S. Census Bureau, and this morning’s industrial production report from the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, the nowcasts of fourth-quarter real personal consumption expenditures growth and fourth-quarter real gross private domestic investment growth decreased from 2.1 percent and -2.3 percent, respectively, to 1.7 percent and -4.4 percent, respectively.”

Real gross private domestic development is now clocking at -4.4%.

Wow.

Recession Warnings

A bit ago I noted Industrial Production Dives and It’s Not All Strike Related.

Trucking provide another recession warning: Freight Volumes Negative YoY for 11th Straight Month

Donald Broughton, founder of Broughton Capital and author the Cass Freight Index says the index signals contraction, possibly by the end of the year. That’s just one one month away.

Strike Resolved

The GM strike is resolved. We will soon find out how much strike-related damage there was, but the risk is over-estimating the rebound going forward.

The trade deal with China is still unresolved.

World Debt Downgrade Warning – Moody’s

World Debt Downgrade Warning – Moody’s 

Source: Moody’s

◆ A World Debt Downgrade Warning (WDDW) has been issued by credit rating agency Moody’s due to deepening global geopolitical uncertainty and risks

◆ Moody’s has issued a debt downgrade warning to the entire world on fears that severe political turmoil from London to Hong Kong poses a threat to the global economy (see News below)

◆ Moody’s have a bleak outlook for government debt amid political instability in a report published just this Monday

◆ Moody’s said political and geopolitical turbulence is exacerbating a slowdown in national and global GDP growth, aggravating structural ‘bottlenecks’ centred on massive banking and sovereign debt and increasing the risk of economic or financial shocks

◆ Moody’s identified the emergence of influential “populist” movements and suggested this is undermining the effectiveness of domestic policy, weakening institutional strength and compounding social and governance risks

◆ “Overall, the global environment is becoming less predictable for the 142 sovereigns we rate, encompassing $63.2 trillion in debt outstanding,” according to the report

Watch Podcast Here

NEWS and COMMENTARY

Moody’s issues debt downgrade warning to the entire world

Moody’s offers bleak outlook for government debt amid political instability

Moody’s has negative outlook for sovereigns

Gold firms as doubts over U.S.-China trade deal curb risk appetite

China likely to ‘intervene’ in Hong Kong’s affairs more following the protests (BAML)Trump says China trade deal ‘close’ but dashes hopes for signing details 

Global trade is likely contracting and we’re now ‘betting’ on a US-China deal, OECD chief says 

China’s gold-backed crypto looming as ‘Pearl Harbor type event’ for US dollar in 2020 – Keiser Report 


GOLD PRICES (LBMA – USD, GBP & EUR – AM/ PM Fix)

12-Nov-19 1455.00 1452.05, 1134.03, 1130.42 & 1319.69 1318.17
11-Nov-19 1465.50 1458.70, 1144.41 1132.39 & 1328.33 1321.87
08-Nov-19 1466.85 1464.15, 1144.58 1142.62 & 1328.09 1328.13
07-Nov-19 1484.10 1484.25, 1153.44 1156.82 & 1339.40 1341.76
06-Nov-19 1488.55 1486.05, 1155.26 1154.51 & 1342.23 1341.31
05-Nov-19 1504.60 1488.95, 1166.37 1156.17 & 1352.18 1344.67
04-Nov-19 1509.20 1509.45, 1168.57 1169.52 & 1352.39 1353.98
01-Nov-19 1509.85 1508.80, 1165.76 1164.49 & 1354.79 1351.28
31-Oct-19 1506.40 1510.95, 1163.09 1168.57 & 1348.53 1356.53

How the GDP Framework Creates the Illusion That By Means of Money Pumping the Central Bank Can Grow an Economy

HOW THE GDP FRAMEWORK CREATES THE ILLUSION THAT BY MEANS OF MONEY PUMPING THE CENTRAL BANK CAN GROW AN ECONOMY

In response to a weakening in the yearly growth rate of key economic indicators such as industrial production and real gross domestic product (GDP) some commentators have raised the alarm of the possibility of a recession emerging.

Some other commentators are dismissive of this arguing that the likelihood of a recession ahead is not very high given that other important indicators such as consumer outlays as depicted by the annual growth rate of retail sales and the state of employment appear to be in good shape (see charts).

Most experts tend to assess the strength of an economy in terms of real gross domestic product (GDP), which supposedly mirrors the total amount of final goods and services produced.

To calculate a total, several things must be added together. In order to add things together, they must have some unit in common. It is not possible however to add refrigerators to cars and shirts to obtain the total amount of final goods.

Since total real output cannot be defined in a meaningful way, obviously it cannot be quantified. To overcome this problem economists employ total monetary expenditure on goods, which they divide by an average price of goods. However, is the calculation of an average price possible?

Suppose two transactions are conducted. In the first transaction, one TV set is exchanged for $1,000. In the second transaction, one shirt is exchanged for $40. The price or the rate of exchange in the first transaction is $1000/1TV set. The price in the second transaction is $40/1shirt. In order to calculate the average price, we must add these two ratios and divide them by 2. However, $1000/1TV set cannot be added to $40/1shirt, implying that it is not possible to establish an average price.

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

Fourth Turning Economics

Fourth Turning Economics

“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 

Image result for total global debt 2019

The quote above captures the current Fourth Turning perfectly, even though it was written more than a decade before the 2008 financial tsunami struck. With global debt now exceeding $250 trillion, up 60% since the Crisis began, and $13 trillion of sovereign debt with negative yields, it is clear to all rational thinking individuals the next financial crisis will make 2008 look like a walk in the park. We are approaching the eleventh anniversary of this crisis period, with possibly a decade to go before a resolution.

As I was thinking about what confluence of economic factors might ignite the next bloody phase of this Fourth Turning, I realized economic factors have been the underlying cause of all four Crisis periods in American history.

Debt levels in eurozone, G7, US and Germany

The specific details of each crisis change, but economic catalysts have initiated all previous Fourth Turnings and led ultimately to bloody conflict. There is nothing in the current dynamic of this Fourth Turning which argues against a similar outcome. The immense debt, stock and real estate bubbles, created by feckless central bankers, corrupt politicians, and spineless government apparatchiks, have set the stage for the greatest financial calamity in world history.

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

A tale of two deflations

A tale of two deflations

Japanification is a term that has re-emerged recently.  It refers to the prolonged economic stagnation of Japan, which commenced after a financial crash in the early 1990s. The stagnation of Japan has been marked by very low inflation (recurring periods of deflation), stagnating productivity growth and a massive increase in government debt.

However, at the same time as the financial crisis that started the long stagnation in Japan, there was a similar crisis in a small northern country, Finland. Finland had followed such a similar economic trajectory as Japan that it was dubbed the “Japan of the North”. However, while Japan fell into a prolonged economic malaise, the Finnish economy returned to growth just four years after the onset of the crisis (see Figure 1).

What caused the difference between these two outcomes?

Figure 1. Volume of nominal, local currency GDP per capita in Finland and Japan between 1969 and 2018 (1969=100). Note: due to the recurrent deflation periods in Japan, comparisons using the constant (real) GDP per capita are not feasible. Source: GnS Economics, World Bank

The boom of Finland and Japan

Both Japan and Finland were relatively poor countries in the 1950s. Both were on the losing side of the Second World War (Japan had primarily fought against the U.S. and Finland against the Soviet Union) which made them temporary outcasts in the new global political order. After they regained a place in global politics, both established an ambitious industrialization program.

In both countries monetary and fiscal policies, under a regime of currency regulation, were used to channel resources towards industrialization. Capital flows were tightly-managed, and interest rates were set below market-clearing levels. This forced national savings toward investment and allowed for only essential consumption.

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

Global Debt Hits $246 Trillion, 320% Of GDP, As Developing Debt Hits All Time High

Global Debt Hits $246 Trillion, 320% Of GDP, As Developing Debt Hits All Time High

According to the latest IIF Global Debt Monitor released today, debt around the globe hit $246 trillion in Q1 2019, rising by $3 trillion in the quarter, and outpacing the rate of growth of the global economy as total debt/GDP rose to 320%

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NEW Global Debt Monitor: Global debt hit $246T in Q1 2019, nearly 320% of GDP.

Debt by sector, Q1 2019 (as % of GDP):
Households: 59.8%
Gov’t: 87.2%
Financial corporates: 80.8%

This was the second-highest dollar number on record after the first three months of 2018, though debt was higher in 2016 and 2017 as a share of world GDP. Total debt was broken down as follows:

  • Households: 60% of GDP
  • Non-financial corporates: 91% of GDP
  • Government 87% of GDP
  • Financial Corporations: 81% of GDP

And while the developed world has some more to go before regaining the prior all time leverage high, with borrowing led by the U.S. federal government and by global non-financial business, total debt in emerging markets hit a new all time high, thanks almost entirely to China… 

… which has been on such a debt issuance rampage, it would make even Uncle Sam blush, as Chinese corporations owed the equivalent of more than 155% of GDP in March, or nearly $21 trillion, up from about 100% of GDP, or $5 trillion, two decades ago.

And here is a startling fact: according to Fundamental Intelligence, a bond market consultancy, Chinese firms accounted for 42% of all corporate bonds issued in EMs this year, which it warned raised the risk of defaults next year and in 2021.

As a result of China’s ravenous debt appetite, emerging economies had the highest-ever level of debt (both corporate and household) at the end of Q1, both in dollar terms and as a share of their gross domestic product, according to the FT’s report  on the latest IIF data.

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

Bizarro World: The Herd Has Truly Gone MadYou’re not crazy. The world we now live in is

Bizarro World: The Herd Has Truly Gone MadYou’re not crazy. The world we now live in is

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.

~ Charles Mackay (1841)

Like me, you may often feel gobsmacked when looking at the world around you.

How did things get so screwed up?

The simple summary is: the world has gone mad.

It’s not the first time.

History is peppered with periods when the minds of men (and women) deviated far from the common good. The Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, the rise of the Third Reich, Stalin’s Great Purge, McCarthy’s Red Scares — to name just a few.

Like it or not, we are now living during a similar era of self-destructive mass delusion. When the majority is pursuing — even cheering on — behaviors that undermine its well-being. Except this time, the stakes are higher than ever; our species’ very existence is at risk.

Bizarro Economics

Evidence that the economy is sliding into recession continues to mount.

GDP is slowing. Earnings warnings issued by publicly-traded companies are at a 13-year high. The most reliable recession predictor of the past 50 years, an inverted US Treasury curve, has been in place for the past quarter.

Yet the major stock indices hit all-time highs earlier this week. And every one of the 38 assets in the broad-based asset basket tracked by Deutsche Bank was up for the month of June — something that has never happened in the 150 years prior to 2019.

It has become all-too clear that markets today are no longer driven by business fundamentals. Only central bank-provided liquidity matters. As long as the flood of cheap credit continues to flow (via rock-bottom/negative interest rates and purchase programs), keeping cash-destroying companies alive and enabling record share buybacks, all boats will rise.

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

Australia Lowers Rate to Historic Low of 1%

Australia Lowers Rate to Historic Low of 1% 

The Reserve Bank of Australia has cut the official cash rate for the second month in a row to 1%. As we head into the turning point of the Economic Confidence Model come January 2020, the unemployment rate increased to 5.2% in April. GDP growth remains very low at 0.4%, wage growth is sluggish, inflation is well below target, and retail sales are struggling. None of this will change until after the ECM turns as people begin to see that central banks are incapable of managing the economy.

What were Roman Taxes v Modern Taxes?

What were Roman Taxes v Modern Taxes? 

QUESTION: You do a lot of comparison to the Roman Empire. What was the size of the government relative to GDP? Can you estimate that?

GY

ANSWER: The Roman economy was more like the USA during the mid-19th century in that it was pre-industrial. About 80% of its inhabitants worked in agriculture, which was about where we were in 1840. There was no social agenda of trying to redistribute wealth from one class to the other. Still, there were social programs. But the socialistic agenda that was adopted by modern governments has sought not merely to redistribute wealth among the classes, but it has justified bigger government on a grand scale never before witnessed in history. The tax rate in the ancient Roman Empire was about 5% with some paying as little as 2%. The actual cost of government during the Roman Empire was minimal compared to the modern standard. The Roman Emperor Trajan (98-117 AD) formalized the alimenta, which was a welfare program that helped orphans and poor children throughout Italy. It provided general funds as well as food and subsidized education. The program was supported initially out of Dacian War booty, and then later by a combination of estate taxes and philanthropy. So there were programs to take care of people who needed help.

Virtually all the taxes and rents raised by the imperial government were spent on the military, which came out to be about 80% of the imperial budget in 150 AD. This military spending constituted about 2.5% of the empire’s GDP. Obviously, we do not really see separatists movement until the mid-3rd century when Valerian I (253-260 AD) was captured by the Persians. With the cost of the military coming in about 2.5%, this explains the lack of tax rebellions.

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

The Economy Has Fundamentally Changed in the 21st Century–and Not for the Better

The Economy Has Fundamentally Changed in the 21st Century–and Not for the Better

The net result is we have an economy that’s supposedly expanding smartly while our well-being and financial security are collapsing.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and other metrics of economic activity don’t measure either broad-based prosperity or well-being. Elites skimming financialization profits by expanding corporate debt and issuing more loans to commoners while spending more on their lifestyles boosts GDP quite nicely while the security and well-being of the bottom 90% plummets.

Under the hood of “recovery” and a higher GDP, life has gotten harder and more insecure for the bottom 90%. The key is not to look just at wages (trending up, we’re assured) or inflation (near-zero, we’re assured) but at aspects of daily life (lived experience) that cannot be captured by conventional economic / financial attempts at quantifying the economy.

How do we quantify the cost of the financial anxiety provoked by huge insurance deductibles or staggering healthcare bills? What matters isn’t just whether the patient or their family has to declare bankruptcy because they can’t afford the enormous co-pays: what matters is the debilitating stress caused by having to decide between risking an operation and bankrupting the family or foregoing the operation and hoping for a miracle.Or how about the eventual cost of foregoing healthcare except in emergencies due to having to pay cash for any care due to the high deductibles?

Small stresses add up, leading to chronic stress and a host of debilitating consequences. Consider the daily commute to work, which has become longer and more stressful due to increasing congestion and the limits of public transport infrastructure that hasn’t been improved or expanded in decades.Why New York City Stopped Building Subways (via Mark G.) Unlike most other great cities, New York’s rapid transit system remains frozen in time: Commuters on their iPhones are standing in stations scarcely changed from nearly 80 years ago.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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