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Government “Stimulus” Keeps Having a Diminishing Effect

Government “Stimulus” Keeps Having a Diminishing Effect

cash jump start

The United States economy recovered at a 6.5 percent annualized rate in the second quarter of 2021, and gross domestic product (GDP) is now above the prepandemic level. This should be viewed as good news until we put it in the context of the largest fiscal and monetary stimulus in recent history.

With the Federal Reserve purchasing $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and $80 billion in Treasurys every month, and the deficit expected to run above $2 trillion, one thing is clear: the diminishing effect of the stimulus is not just staggering, but the increasingly short impact of these programs is alarming.

The GDP figure is even worse considering the expectations. Wall Street expected a GDP growth of 8.5 percent and most analysts had trimmed their expectations in the past months. The vast majority of analysts were sure that real GDP would comfortably beat consensus estimates. It came in massively below.

What is wrong?

In recent times, mainstream economists only discuss the merit of stimulus plans based on the size of the programs. If it is not more than a trillion US dollars it is not even worth discussing. The government continues to announce trillion-dollar packages as if any growth at any cost were acceptable. How much is squandered, what parts are not working, and, more importantly, which ones generate negative returns on the economy are issues that are never discussed. If the eurozone grows slower than the United States, it is always blamed on an allegedly lower size of stimulus plans, even if the reality of figures shows otherwise, as the European Central Bank (ECB) balance sheet is significantly larger than the Fed’s relative to each economy’s GDP and the endless chain of fiscal stimulus plans in the eurozone is well documented.

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

Monetary Pumping and Resources

As a result of the recent strong stimulatory policies employed by the US government and the Fed, most commentators are of the view that the risk of a deepening slump in the US economy on account of the COVID-19 pandemic has now receded.

Some other commentators are not so certain that the risk has declined, arguing that the economy is still heading towards difficult times ahead. These commentators are of the view that to prevent the possible economic difficulties ahead authorities should continue with easy fiscal and monetary policies until the economy safely placed on the trajectory of stable economic growth.

Most commentators are of the view that by failing to act swiftly authorities are running the risk of raising the cost of an economic slump in terms of idle or unutilized resources such as labor and capital.

This way of thinking is succinctly summarized by Ludwig von Mises,

Here, they say, are plants and farms whose capacity to produce is either not used at all or not to its full extent. Here are piles of unsalable commodities and hosts of unemployed workers. But here are also masses of people who would be lucky if they only could satisfy their wants more amply. All that is lacking is credit. Additional credit would enable the entrepreneurs to resume or to expand production. The unemployed would find jobs again and could buy the products. This reasoning seems plausible. Nonetheless it is utterly wrong.

Conventional thinking argues that boosting the overall demand for goods and services is going to strengthen the supply of these goods and services – demand creates supply.

However, why should an increase in the overall demand be followed by the increase in the production of goods and services? This requires a suitable production structure that is going to permit the increase in the production.

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

New Infrastructure Will Not Come Good, Fast, And Cheap

New Infrastructure Will Not Come Good, Fast, And Cheap

Anyone naive enough to think America is about to receive a big gift of newfangled “fixed installations” needed in order to function should look long and hard at what is really being proposed. The “underlying structure” a country and the economy rely upon includes things such as roads, bridges, dams, water and sewer systems, railways and subways, airports, and harbors. None of these things are cheap to construct and when it comes to infrastructure the words, good, fast, and cheap should never be clustered together. While many people see government spending on infrastructure as a job creator and a silver bullet for our ailing economy I would like to raise a word of caution, things are not that simple. The cynical part of me thinks the American people should get ready to get bent over and taken advantage of.

Spending Trillions Likely To Result In An Epic Fail

Now that Biden’s massive Covid-19 relief package has been signed into law, talk is moving towards what is next on the agenda, That’s where, most likely, his infrastructure plan resides, and this is a plan set to explode the budget. If you think that $1.9 trillion is a lot of money, it pales next to what the Democrats are going to propose as they continue on their spending spree. It appears that Biden wants $3 trillion or more which should scare away moderates such as West Virginia’s Joe Manchin but it has not. Not only has Manchin not blinked at $3 trillion in new spending instead, he recently stated Congress should do “everything we possibly can” to pay for it. He said there should be “tax adjustments” to former President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax law to boost revenues, his endorsement of raising the corporate rate from the current 21 percent to at least 25 percent, however, would do little.…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

bruce wilds, advancing time blog, united states, government stimulus, infrastructure, crony capitalism

There’s a Serious Flaw to the Team Powell-Yellen Inflation Scheme

There’s a Serious Flaw to the Team Powell-Yellen Inflation Scheme

If you’re a wage earner, retiree, or a lowly saver, your wealth is in imminent danger.

A lifetime of schlepping and saving could be rapidly vaporized over the next several years.  In fact, the forces towards this end have already been set in motion.

Indeed, there are many forces at work.  But at the moment, the force above all forces is the extreme levels of money printing being jointly carried out by the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury.

Fed Chairman Jay Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have linked arms to crank up the printing presses in tandem.

This is what’s driving markets to price things – from copper to digital NFT art – in strange and shocking ways.  But what’s behind the money printing?

Surely it’s more than progressive politics – under the guise of virus recovery – run amok.

Where to begin?

The U.S. national debt is a good place to start.  And the U.S. national debt is now over $28 trillion.  Is that a big number?

As far as we can tell, $28 trillion is a really big number…even in the year 2021.  How do we know it’s a big number, aside from counting the twelve zeros that fall after the 28?

We know $28 trillion is a big number based on our everyday experience using dollars to buy goods and services.  You can still buy a lot of stuff with $28 trillion.  In truth, $28 trillion is so big it’s hard to comprehend.

Nonetheless, $28 trillion is not as big a number today as it was in 1950.  Back then, the relative bigness of $28 trillion was much larger.  It was unfathomable.

Crime of the Century

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

economic prism, mn gordon, janet yellen, inflation, jerome powell, fed, us federal reserve, central bank, stimulus, government stimulus, united states

Do We Really Think a Band-Aid Will Heal a Tumor?

Do We Really Think a Band-Aid Will Heal a Tumor?

Borrowing a quarter of the nation’s entire economic output every year to prop up an ineffective, corrupt status quo is putting a Band-Aid over a tumor.

If we misdiagnose the disease, our treatment won’t work. We’re all familiar with medical misdiagnoses, which lead to procedures and prescriptions that can’t possibly fix the patient’s illness because the source has been missed or misinterpreted.

Medical diagnoses are often tricky, as many general symptoms can arise from a variety of sources.

Social and economic ills can also be tricky to diagnose, and the diagnosis is hindered by political polarization and sacrosanct orthodoxies which make it difficult to have a rational discussion in public about many difficult issues.

If we can’t even discuss a problem, then that creates another problem, because problems that can’t be discussed openly cannot be solved.

There’s also a human tendency to choose the diagnosis with the easiest-at-hand solution. This allows us to quickly apply an approved solution and then declare the problem solved.

The current flood of financial stimulus is an example of this misdiagnosis and application of an easy solution which fails to address the underlying disorder.

The conventional diagnosis of the post-pandemic economy is that the only problem is people don’t have enough money, and so giving them money to spend will cure the financial damage the pandemic inflicted. (Never mind that the economy was rolling over in 2019 long before the pandemic, which served as a catalyst in a sick, unstable status quo.)

Creating $1.9 trillion out of thin air and distributing it is painless: who doesn’t like free money? But is a scarcity of cash the source of America’s economic malaise?

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

 

Stagflation Subterfuge: The Real Disaster Hidden By The Pandemic

Stagflation Subterfuge: The Real Disaster Hidden By The Pandemic

In recent economic news, headlines are being dominated by concerns over rising bond yields. Increased bond yields are a sign of a possible spike in inflation and, logically, they call for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in order to prevent that inflation.

Higher bond yields also mean there is a competitive alternative to stocks for investors – both factors that could trigger a plunge in the stock market.

If one studies the real history behind the stock market crash during the Great Depression, they will find that it was the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes that caused and prolonged the disaster after they had created an environment of cheap and easy money throughout the 1920s. Former Chairman Ben Bernanke openly admitted the Fed was responsible back in 2002 in a speech honoring Milton Friedman. He stated:

“In short, according to Friedman and Schwartz, because of institutional changes and misguided doctrines, the banking panics of the Great Contraction were much more severe and widespread than would have normally occurred during a downturn. Let me end my talk by abusing slightly my status as an official representative of the Federal Reserve. I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You’re right, we did it. We’re very sorry. But thanks to you, we won’t do it again.”

This then raises the question – inflation or deflation? Will the Fed “do it again?”

Probably not in exactly the same way, but we will see elements of both inflation and deflation soon in the form of stagflation.

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

brandon smith, alt-market, stagflation, government stimulus, pandemic, lockdowns, central banks, fed, us federal reserve, great reset, globalists, globalism

Rabobank: The Everything Bubble Has Become More Everything And More Bubble

Rabobank: The Everything Bubble Has Become More Everything And More Bubble

Oh-No-Bi-Wan Kenobi

For those who haven’t seen it –and I accept there are now probably many readers who haven’t– there is a classic scene in the first Star Wars film (Episode IV) in which Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi tells his villainous duelling opponent, his former apprentice, Darth Vader: “You can’t win, Darth. If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can possible imagine.” Darth being Darth of course strikes him down: and Kenobi disappears entirely, leaving only his outer garment (but no shoes or underpants, etc.). So it looks like Darth has won the fight. Except Kenobi goes on to become an immortal ‘Force ghost’, who like a happier Banquo, helps guide Darth’s son to blow up the mega battle-station he has until then been prowling up and down menacingly.

We are less than a month into the Biden administration, and despite a slight down-day for stocks on Tuesday, it is quite clear, according to a slew of commentators, that the Everything Bubble has become more Everything and more Bubble. The Federal Reserve and other global central banks are still pouring their fully operational firepower into the economy, fully aware that little of this flows to productive assets or wages, and most of it to speculation: but when financial/asset speculation IS most of the ‘economy’, that looks like victory to them. Indeed, doesn’t it feel like victory to those who speak Bloombergian? There is more money than ever; a major global airline has decided you don’t have to wear masks in business or first class on long-haul flights; and the luxury Maldives is seeing record hotel occupancy!

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

The Next Wave Of Spending Will Not Bring Prosperity

The Next Wave Of Spending Will Not Bring Prosperity

We Are Starting A New Series Of Mistakes

The surprisingly bad job numbers recently released show America lost 140,000 jobs in December. A big part of the problem is that this is only one indicator of the carnage taking place in our economy. As small businesses close their doors forever, many of these jobs won’t be coming back. This translates into far higher deficits going forward as many more Americans exit the workforce. Adding to our dilemma is the answer to our problem being touted around includes giving substantial amounts of money to most Americans which reduces their incentive to get out and hustle to find work. This underlines the fact we should not confuse what some call “the latest economic rebound” with a “recovery.”After these numbers were released, Biden came out declaring his administration with its two newly elected Democrat Senators would hit the ground running.

 “The price tag will be high,” Biden said of his planned package in Wilmington, Delaware. He promised to lay out his proposals before taking office on Jan. 20, he also stated, “It will be in the trillions of dollars.” 

The package Biden laid out only came in at 1.9 trillion dollars disappointing some of his followers. This is because it does not include a great deal of what he has promised. Missing were things like spending on infrastructure and forgiving student loans. This, however, is only the first of many packages that will be rolling through congress in an effort to halt the economy from unraveling. To see how devastating the pandemic and the lock-downs instituted to slow its advance have been on the economy we only need to look to cities such as New York where it has become obvious the effects will be long term. Recent revelations that many large and notable companies now intend to relocate to smaller cities in coming years will only exacerbate these problems.

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

State of the American Debt-Slaves, Q3 2020: The Stimulus & Forbearance Phenomenon

State of the American Debt-Slaves, Q3 2020: The Stimulus & Forbearance Phenomenon

Auto loans jump after historic price spikes. Credit cards still in stimulus wonderland. Student-loan borrowers count on debt forgiveness, mmmkay.

Consumers have undertaken an astounding project instead of consuming: Paying down their credit cards. In September, outstanding balances of credit cards and other revolving credit ticked down by a tad to $949 billion, not seasonally adjusted, the lowest since July 2017.

Credit card balances spike in December during the shopping season and then decline during credit-hangover season in January and February. In March, they start rising again. But not this year. In March, credit-card balances fell, and then in April, when the stimulus checks arrived and when people stopped going out and spending money, credit-card balances plunged the most ever. And they have continued to tick down every month since then (not seasonally adjusted). By the end of September, according to Federal Reserve data on Friday, they were down 9.2% from September last year:

And it’s not because consumers are defaulting on their credit cards, with banks writing off the defaulted balances. On the contrary. Credit card delinquency rates have also dropped. It’s because consumers are paying down their credit cards, and they’re spending less.

They had a lot of help in form of government money – the stimulus checks and the extra unemployment benefits of $600 a week, and then of $300 a week, both now expired, and the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance [PUA] program for gig workers that has been surrounded by allegations of massive fraud, and so on. Whether fraudulent or not, this money got into the hands of consumers.

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

Reaching the End of Early Stimulus – What’s Ahead?

Reaching the End of Early Stimulus – What’s Ahead?

Many people thought that COVID-19 would be gone with a short shutdown. They also thought that the world’s economic problems could be cured with a six month “dose” of stimulus.

It is increasingly clear that neither of these assumptions is correct. Despite the claims of epidemiologists, our best efforts have never been able to reduce the number of newly reported COVID-19 cases for the world as a whole for any significant period of time. In fact, the latest week seems to be the highest week so far.

Figure 1. Chart of worldwide COVID-19 new cases, in chart prepared by Worldometer with data through September 20, 2020.

At the same time, the economy, despite all of the stimulus, is not doing very well. Airlines are doing very poorly. The parts of the economy that are dependent upon tourism are having huge problems. This reduces the “upside” of economic recovery, pretty much everywhere, until it can be corrected.

Another part of the world economy doing poorly is clothing sales. For example, many fewer people are attending concerts, weddings, funerals, out-of-town business meetings and conventions, leading to a need for fewer “dressy” clothes. Also, with air travel greatly reduced, people don’t need new clothing for visiting places with different climates, either. Most clothing is bought by people from rich countries but made by people in poor countries. This cutback in clothing purchases disproportionately affects people who are already very poor. The loss of jobs in these countries may lead to an inability to afford food, for those who are laid off.

Besides these difficult to solve problems, initial programs set up to help mitigate job losses are running out. What kinds of things might governments do, if they are running short of borrowing capacity, and medical solutions still seem to be far away?

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

Keynesian Ideas Can Only Make Things Worse

In the New York Times on September 8, 2020, Paul Krugman suggested that

“The CARES Act, enacted in March, gave the unemployed an extra $600 a week in benefits. This supplement played a crucial role in limiting extreme hardship; poverty may even have gone down”.

For Krugman and many economic commentators, it is the duty of the government to support the economy whenever it falls into an economic slump. Following in the footsteps of John Maynard Keynes, most economists hold that one cannot have complete trust in a market economy, which is seen as inherently unstable.  If left free the market economy could lead to self-destruction. Hence, there is the need for governments and central banks to manage the economy. Successful management in the Keynesian framework is done by influencing overall spending.

It is spending that generates income. Spending by one individual becomes income for another individual according to the Keynesian framework of thinking. Hence the more that is spent the better it is going to be. What drives the economy then is spending. If during a recession, consumers fail to spend then it is the role of the government to step in and boost overall spending in order to grow the economy.

In the Keynesian framework of thinking the output that an economy can generate with a given pool of resources (i.e. labour, tools and machinery, and technology) without causing inflation, is labelled as potential output. Hence the greater the pool of resources, all other things being equal, the more output can be generated.

If for whatever reasons the demand for the produced goods is not strong enough this leads to an economic slump. (Inadequate demand for goods leads to only a partial use of existent labour and capital goods).  In this framework then, it makes a lot of sense to boost government spending in order to strengthen demand and eliminate the economic slump.

…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…

What’s to Be Done Now with All These Zombie Companies?

What’s to Be Done Now with All These Zombie Companies?

Saving the Zombies in Europe.

Europe’s zombie firms are multiplying like never before. In Germany, one of the few European economies that has weathered the virus crisis reasonably well, an estimated 550,000 firms — roughly one-sixth of the total — could already be classified as “zombies”, according to research by the credit agency Creditreform. It’s a similar story in Switzerland.

Zombie firms are over-leveraged, high-risk companies with a business model that is not remotely self-sustaining, since they need to constantly raise fresh money from new creditors to pay off existing creditors. According to the Bank for International Settlements’ definition, they are unable to cover debt servicing costs with their EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) over an extended period.

The number of zombie companies has been rising across Europe and the Anglosphere — due to of two main factors:

  • Central banks’ easy money forever policies, which brought interest rates down to such low levels that even firms with a reasonable chance of default have been able to continue issuing debt at serviceable rates. Many large zombie firms have also been bailed out, in some cases more than once. Spanish green energy giant Abengoa has been bailed out three times in five years.
  • The tendency of poorly capitalized banks to continually roll over or restructure bad loans. This is particularly prevalent in parts of the Eurozone where banks are especially weak, such as Italy.

A Bank of America report from July posits that the UK accounts for a staggering one third of all zombie companies in Europe. They represent 20% of all companies in the U.K, up four percentage points since March, according to a new paper by the conservative think tank Onward. In the two hardest-hit sectors — accommodation and food services, and arts, entertainment and recreation — the proportion of zombie firms has soared by 9 and 11 percentage points respectively, to 23% and 26%.

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

Massive Lines Form Outside Virginia Food Bank As Demand Hits One Million Meals Per Month

The economic recovery has stalled, and in some cases, reversed. The $600 unemployment benefits that Americans received following the virus pandemic that crashed the economy in March-April expired on July 31, which means a fiscal cliff has been underway for 44 days (as of Sept. 14).

Millions of people are still out of work, their emergency savings wiped out, and insurmountable debts are increasing. As former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen warned in August, Congress’ inability to pass another round of stimulus checks could weigh on the economic recovery.

Readers may recall about a quarter of all personal income is derived from the government – so when a lapse in stimulus checks extends for well over one month – that could lead to new consumer stress.

In Richmond, Virginia, about 125 miles south of Washington, D.C., a food bank has been shelling out more than one million meals per month as the metro area battles deep economic scarring sustained by the virus-induced recession.

Kim Hill, the Chesterfield Food Bank CEO, told ABC 8News, “a lot of Chesterfield residents are showing up to get food would be an understatement — they’ve been averaging over a million meals a month.”

“You roll down that window, and you see the tears in that person’s eyes who never thought they would need the help of a food bank,” Hill said. “It breaks your heart.”

She said the volume of people her food bank is feeding is more than triple the levels versus last year. With increased demand, Hill said more volunteers are needed to handle the greater volumes.

“The life at the food bank here, we think it has changed forever,” Hill said. “Hunger should not exist in our country. We are one of the richest countries in the world, we need to be able to take care of our own people.”

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

Book Review: The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People’s Economy

In January, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its Budget and Economic outlook for 2020 to 2030. It is horrific reading. Federal budget deficits are projected to rise from $1.0 trillion this year to $1.3 trillion over the next 10 years.

Federal debt will rise to 98% of GDP by 2030, “its highest percentage since 1946,” the CBO says. “By 2050, debt would be 180% of GDP—far higher than it has ever been.” And that was before Covid-19 hit. Now those numbers will be much, much worse.

On top of this, politicians have been announcing grand schemes for further spending: $47 billion on free college tuition, $1 trillion for new infrastructure, $1.4 trillion to write off student loan debt, at least $7 trillion on the Green New Deal and $32 trillion on Medicare for All. By one estimate, these new proposals total an estimated $42.5 trillion over the next decade.

Adding these new spending proposals to the flood of red ink the CBO projects just from following the current path, the federal government is set to face a serious fiscal crisis in the not-too-distant future.

KEEP PRINTING

Or, perhaps not. There is an idea afoot in economics that, as Bernie Sanders’ former economic advisor Stephanie Kelton argues in her new book The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People’s Economy, could revolutionize the field in the same way that Copernicus did to astronomy by showing that the earth orbited the sun.

Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) states that “in almost all instances federal deficits are good for the economy. They are necessary.” That being so, we don’t have to worry about this coming deluge of red ink, indeed:

…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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