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The U.S. Faces A Catastrophic Food Supply Crisis In America As Farmers Struggle

The U.S. Faces A Catastrophic Food Supply Crisis In America As Farmers Struggle

American farmers are battling several issues when it comes to producing our food.  Regulated low prices, tariffs, and the inability to export have all cut into the salaries of farmers.  They are officially in crisis mode, just like the United States’ food supply.

“The farm economy’s in pretty tough shape,” said John Newton, chief economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation. “When you look out on the horizon of things to come, you start to see some cracks.” Average farm income has fallen to near 15-year lows under president Donald Trump’s policies, and in some areas of the country, farm bankruptcies are soaring.  And with slightly higher interest rates, many don’t see borrowing more money as an option.  “A lot of farmers are going to give the president the benefit of the doubt, and have to date. But the longer the trade war goes on, the more that dynamic changes,” said Brian Kuehl, executive director of Farmers for Free Trade, according to Politico.

With no end to the disastrous trade war in sight, many farmers have traveled to Washington to share their plights with the president himself hoping that he’ll end the trade war that’s exacerbating an already precarious food crisis.  Farmers make up a fairly large chunk of president Trump’s base, and an unwillingness to put food production in the United States first could be detrimental for Trump reelection chances in 2020. It could also be the beginning of a catastrophic food shortage.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis warned back in November of rising Chapter 12 bankruptcies used by family farmers to restructure massive amounts of debt. The Fed said that the strain of low commodity prices “is starting to show up not just in bottom-line profitability, but in simple viability.”

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

U.S.-China War May Be “Just A Shot Away”

U.S.-China War May Be “Just A Shot Away” 

– “World’s most dangerous hotspot” is in the South China Sea
– Currency and trade wars can lead to shooting wars warns Rickards
– Chinese buildup in South China Sea like ‘preparing for World War III’ says US senator (see news)
– U.S.-China shooting war could be, as Mick Jagger put it, “just a shot away…”


Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks after reviewing the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy fleet in the South China Sea on April 12. Xi has urged the PLAN to better prepare for combat, according to state media reports. (Li Gang/Xinhua via AP)

The World’s Most Dangerous Hotspot

By Jim Rickards for the Daily Reckoning

I have warned repeatedly that currency wars and trade wars can lead to shooting wars. Both history and analysis support this thesis.

Currency wars do not exist all the time; they arise under certain conditions and persist until there is either systemic reform or systemic collapse. The conditions that give rise to currency wars are too much debt and too little growth.

In those circumstances, countries try to steal growth from trading partners by cheapening their currencies to promote exports and create export-related jobs.

The problem with currency wars is that they are zero-sum or negative-sum games. It is true that countries can obtain short-term relief by cheapening their currencies, but sooner than later, their trading partners also cheapen their currencies to regain the export advantage.

This process of tit-for-tat devaluations feeds on itself with the pendulum of short-term trade advantage swinging back and forth and no one getting any further ahead.

After a few years, the futility of currency wars becomes apparent, and countries resort to trade wars. This consists of punitive tariffs, export subsidies and nontariff barriers to trade.

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

Risks to the Global Economy in 2019

crystal ball economicsAdam Gault/Getty Image

Risks to the Global Economy in 2019

Over the course of this year and next, the biggest economic risks will emerge in those areas where investors think recent patterns are unlikely to change. They will include a growth recession in China, a rise in global long-term real interest rates, and a crescendo of populist economic policies.

CAMBRIDGE – As Mark Twain never said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you think you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Over the course of this year and next, the biggest economic risks will emerge in those areas where investors think recent patterns are unlikely to change. They will include a growth recession in China, a rise in global long-term real interest rates, and a crescendo of populist economic policies that undermine the credibility of central bank independence, resulting in higher interest rates on “safe” advanced-country government bonds.

A significant Chinese slowdown may already be unfolding. US President Donald Trump’s trade war has shaken confidence, but this is only a downward shove to an economy that was already slowing as it makes the transition from export- and investment-led growth to more sustainable domestic consumption-led growth. How much the Chinese economy will slow is an open question; but, given the inherent contradiction between an ever-more centralized Party-led political system and the need for a more decentralized consumer-led economic system, long-term growth could fall quite dramatically.

Unfortunately, the option of avoiding the transition to consumer-led growth and continuing to promote exports and real-estate investment is not very attractive, either. China is already a dominant global exporter, and there is neither market space nor political tolerance to allow it to maintain its previous pace of export expansion. Bolstering growth through investment, particularly in residential real estate (which accounts for the lion’s share of Chinese construction output) – is also ever more challenging.

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

Some Confucian Calm, Please!

SOME CONFUCIAN CALM, PLEASE!

The United States and China look like two punch-drunk prizefighters squaring off for a major championship fight. They have no good reason to fight and every reason to cooperate now that both their stock markets have been in turmoil.

Six hundred point market swings down and then up look like symptoms of economic nervous breakdown.

Factions in both nations are beating the war drums, putting presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping under growing pressure to be more aggressive.

Trump shoulders much of the blame for having started this unnecessary confrontation by imposing heavy duties on Chinese goods. The US president has turned the old maxim on its head that nations that trade heavily don’t go to war. The US and China, both huge trading partners, appear headed to military clashes, or even full scale war, if their governments don’t come to their senses soon.

Trump was clearly trying to bully China into major trade concessions and better commercial behavior. He is right about this. I’ve done business in China for over 15 years and seen every kind of chicanery, fakery and double-dealing imaginable. China learned from the French that the First Commandment is ‘Thou Shalt Not Import.’

The Japanese are no better. I recall Japanese health authorities telling my pharma firm that all our tablets had to be triangular shaped to make them nearly impossible to swallow.

Theft of technology is indeed rampant, as Trump asserts. But has he looked into CIA and NSA’s techno spying recently? They ransacked the Soviet Union during its last dying days. Much of our postwar missile technology was developed by German scientists spirited off to the USA. After the Sputnik launch in 1957, I recall seeing a German cartoon showing a Soviet and US satellite in orbit next to one another. One whispers to the other, ‘Now that we’re alone, let’s speak German!’

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

Global Economic Slump Imminent As Korean Exports ‘Canary’ Crashes

In the latest sign that the slowdown in China and the global trade war is weighing on global commerce, South Korea’s exports fell  in December. The 1.2% YoY decline was dramatically below the +2.5% YoY expected and missed even the most pessimistic forecast (which was still a rise).

Korean exports were hit by falling memory-chip and oil prices and cooling demand from China and imports also disappointed, rising 0.9% YoY.

“The (annual) decline came about a month earlier than I thought, but I expect Korean exports to be weak throughout the first half of this year, posting low single-digit growth at best,” said Lee Seung-hoon, an economist at Meritz Securities.

South Korea is the first major exporter to report trade data each month, so provides an early reading of global trade; and as the world’s leading exporter of computer chips, ships, cars and petroleum products, December’s data is a major red flag for the global economy.

As the chart below shows, Global equity market earnings growth (and contraction) is extremely tightly correlated to Korean export growth (or contraction)…

So maybe global stocks are on to something with their recent collapse as they increasingly price in an earnings recession.

America’s Technology and Sanctions War Will End, by Bifurcating the Global Economy

America’s Technology and Sanctions War Will End, by Bifurcating the Global Economy

America’s Technology and Sanctions War Will End, by Bifurcating the Global Economy

“The true reason behind the US-China ‘trade’ war has little to do with actual trade … What is really at the basis of the ongoing civilizational conflict between the US and China … are China’s ambitions to be a leader in next-generation technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), which rest on whether or not it can design and manufacture cutting-edge chips, and is why Xi has pledged at least $150 billion to build up the sector”, Zerohedge writes.

Nothing new here: yet behind that ambition, lies another, further ambition and a little mentioned ‘elephant in the room’: that the ‘trade war’ is also the first stage to a new arms race between the US & China – albeit of a different genre of arms race. This ‘new generation’ arms-race is all about reaching national superiority in technology over the longer-term, via Quantum Computing, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Hypersonic Warplanes, Electronic Vehicles, Robotics, and Cyber-Security.

The blueprint for it, in China, is in the public domain. It is ‘Made in China 2025’ (now downplayed, but far from forgotten). And the Chinese expenditure commitment ($ 150 billion) to take the tech lead – will be met ‘head on’ (as Zerohedge puts it), “by a [counterpart] ‘America First’ strategy: Hence the ‘arms race’ in tech spending … is intimately linked with defence spending. Note: military spending by the US and China is forecast by the IMF to rise substantially in coming decades, but the stunner is: that by 2050, China is set to overtake the US, spending $4tn on its military, while the US is $1 trillion less, or $3tn … This means that sometime around 2038, roughly two decades from now, China will surpass the US in military spending.”

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

“Jarring” FedEx Outlook Cut Suggests “Severe Global Recession”

FedEx shares tumbled 7% after what Morgan Stanley called a “jarring” cut to its annual forecasts, suggesting global growth is slowing far more than most expect, and prompting expectations of an “uber-dovish hike” by the Fed.

The global logistics bellwether slashed its outlook just three months after raising the view, reflecting an unexpected and abrupt change in the company’s view of the global economy amid rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China. Not only were the cuts were deeper than the Street expected according to Morgan Stanley analyst Ravi Shanker, but everyone is pointing to the following comment from the press release: “Global trade has slowed in recent months and leading indicators point to ongoing deceleration in global trade near-term.”

Needless to say, with little in terms of warning, Morgan Stanley was shocked by the magnitude and severity of the cut, and suggested that this implies a “severe global recession” is unfolding:

“We recognize that global growth has slowed but we are very surprised by the magnitude of the headwind, which is what might be seen in a severe recession,” Shanker wrote. “We believe global growth concerns are also likely to get worse before they get better next year, which could mean more of a drag on FY20 EPS.”

Quoted by Bloomberg, Shankar also said that the Express unit is also likely to remain an overhang, Shanker said, as FedEx management didn’t provide an outlook for fiscal 2020 or its timeline for improving the cargo airline, which has been hit by worsening economic conditions in Europe.

FedEx shares tumbled 7% on Wednesday morning, the lowest intraday price in about two years and the 10th decline for FedEx in 11 days.

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

The Trade War Distraction: Huawei And Linchpin Theory

The Trade War Distraction: Huawei And Linchpin Theory

Since the beginning of this year, I have been warning that trade tariffs initiated by Donald Trump would develop into a full-blown trade war with China, and perhaps other nations, and that the timing of this trade war is rather suspicious. Suspicious how? Almost every instance of further escalation was made by Trump around the exact time that the Federal Reserve was also making a large cut to its balance sheet or raising interest rates. Instead of focusing on the fact that extreme volatility has returned to markets because central banks are pulling the plug on life support, the mainstream media is holding up the trade war as the ultimate culprit behind the accelerating crash.

In other words, Trump’s trade war is acting as a perfect distraction from the crisis which the banking establishment has now deliberately triggered.

The initial response to my suggestion by a minority of liberty movement activists and skeptics was outright denial. Some people argued that the trade war would be over before it even began and that China would immediately capitulate in fear of losing the U.S. consumer market. Others argued that the trade war “had been started by the Chinese years ago” and Trump was simply “fighting back.”

Clearly, the trade war is not fading away as many assumed. As I predicted, it is only continuing to grow. And the notion that a trade war is necessary at this time in defense of the U.S. economy ignores certain realities. For example, the trade deficit itself was never “theft” by the Chinese, but a BARTER between the Chinese and the U.S. government and U.S. corporations.

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

Blain: “I Think The Global Trade War Is Now A Shooting War”

Blain’s Morning Porridge submitted by Bill Blain

“Why So Serious?”

I think the Global Trade War is now a shooting war.

A few weeks ago one of my very smart CIO contacts warned me the real story of the year isn’t just the implications for supply chains from a Trade Spat, but a more fundamental “Tech Cold War” between China and the US for dominance. It’s a battle that will shortly reach epic proportions, force huge change in the global tech supply chain, and has massive implications for current incumbents.

Over this last few days, its all going off. The US, Australia, NZ and the UK have banned Huawei from new 5G systems over embedded spy tech and “security” issues. Now we learn that even as Xi and Trump were meeting, the CFO of Huawei was arrested in Canada for violating US sanctions on Iran! She is also the daughter of Hauwei’s founder.

I suspect the news will trigger a massive downtrade in stocks today. Brace, Brace, Brace!

The core objective of Trump’s trade war threats are to contain China’s becoming a technological equal and competitor after all its learnt from access and replication of US tech. If we see a full Tech War with lines drawn, then its potentially clobbers everything from Apple down. It means a choice between US Tech or China Tech.

“Made in China 2025” is the Chinese target of becoming the leader in tech, and avoiding just being a US manufacturing centre. Its happening – Hauwei’s lead in 5G is just one example.

More on this next week – but its going to be a massive story. Blade Runner anyone?

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

The Ghost of Christmas Present


Apparently one additional world leader turned up in Buenos Aires without fanfare this weekend. The General Secretary of the North Pole, known popularly as Santa Claus, took his latest-model hypersonic sleigh to the G-20 Meeting, and made sure that the global financial elite would find their Christmas stockings stuffed with sugarplums one last time before the great reflation bull market dies of incredulity.

Something drastic was required as so many enterprises were skidding into a ditch last month, especially FAANGs, cars, house sales, and oil, while the Grand Old Man of the Dow Jones, General Electric, was singing its death song like an old Arikara chief in the prairie twilight. The US threat of 25 percent tariffs on Chinese exports was shunted ahead 90 days, giving the almighty algos and their human errand boys one last shot at looting the future.

How exactly will this change the basic equation of China sending its industrial output to WalMart in exchange for American IOUs, while the trade deficit mounts ever-higher and the last holdouts of the US middle class sink into debt, addiction, and hopelessness? It won’t, of course, because Americans have to find another reason to get up in the morning besides reporting to the national demolition derby. I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t warm my heart to hear about x-hundred thousand “housing starts” every month, knowing that it represents the destruction of x-thousand acres of meadow, field, and forest, and that what’s being laid down on the landscape out there is soul-crushing infrastructure with no future.

It’s not hard to see why US life expectancy is going down, driven by the two new leading causes of death: opiate drugs and suicide — the former often in the service of the latter.

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

Food Crisis In The Making: Farm Bankruptcies Reach Horrifying Levels

Food Crisis In The Making: Farm Bankruptcies Reach Horrifying Levels

We are amidst a food crisis.  Farms in the United States Midwest are filing for chapter 12 bankruptcy at an alarming rate.  And many are saying president Donald Trump’s trade war is taking the most blame.

We hate to say we told you so, but we told you so. The trade war was a bad idea and everyday average Americans are footing the bill for this asinine policy of tariffs.  Now, the food supply could be in jeopardy because of political posturing and that will not bode well for already cash-strapped American families.

A total of 84 farms in the upper Midwest filed for bankruptcy between July 2017 and June 2018, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. That’s more than double the number of Chapter 12 filings during the same period in 2013 and 2014 in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana, reported Vox.

Farms that produce corn, soybeans, milk, and beef were all suffering due to low global demand and low prices before the trade war, according to economists, but president Trump’s trade war is making the problem even worse by exacerbating the weaknesses in the American economy. China has retaliated against the tariffs by slapping billions of dollars worth of tariffs on United States agriculture exports in response to Trump’s tariffs on Chinese products. Other countries, including Canada, have also added duties to US agriculture products in response to Trump’s tariffs on all imported steel and aluminum.

The worst part is perhaps the solution the government has proposed to the very real problem they have created. Things have gotten so bad that the Trump administration launched a $12 billion aid package for US farmers coping with retaliatory tariffs that foreign countries have imposed on their products.

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

China Ambassador Warns Of “Dire Consequences” If No Deal, Hints At “All Out” War

Earlier today, Trump’s chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow poured cold water on expectations for an imminent resolution of the US-China trade war when he said that negotiations in the run up to this week’s G-20 talks “haven’t yielded any progress”, and unless something changes, the “administration will move ahead with the next phase of tariffs.”

“Things have been moving very slowly between the two countries,” Kudlow said, adding that it was up to Xi to come up with new ideas to break the deadlock. And, echoing a report from the US Trade Representative published earlier this month, Kudlow said there hasn’t been much of a change in China’s approach. “We can’t find much change in their approach,” Kudlow told reporters. “President Xi may have a lot more to say in the bilateral [with Mr Trump], I hope he does by the way, I think we all hope he does…but at the moment, we don‘t see it.”

Just a few hours later, a report by Reuters confirmed that Kudlow won’t be “seeing it” for a long time, because according to China’s ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai, China is going to this week’s G-20 summit hoping for a deal to ease a damaging trade war with the United States, even as he warned of “dire consequences” if U.S. hardliners – read the trade hawks led by Peter Navarro – try to separate the world’s two largest economies.

China’s ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai 

Asked whether he though hardliners in the White House were seeking to separate the closely linked U.S. and Chinese economies, Cui said he did not think it was possible or helpful to do so, but warned that “I don’t know if people really realize the possible consequences – the impact, the negative impact – if there is such a decoupling.

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

How Are Chinese Stocks Responding to Tariffs With the US and a Slowdown in Asian Growth?

  • Despite US tariffs, China’s September trade balance with the US reached a record high
  • A number of China’s Asian neighbours have seen a deceleration in growth
  • The Shanghai Composite has fallen more than 50% since 2015, the PE ratio is 7.2
  • Government bond yields have eased and the currency is lower against a rising US$

During 2018 Chinese financial markets have been on the move. 10yr bond yields rose from all-time lows throughout 2017 but have since declined: –

China bonds 2006-2018

Source: Trading Economics, PRC Ministry of Finance

Despite this easing of monetary conditions the negative impact US tariffs, continues to weigh on the Chinese stock market: –

China shanghai index 1990-2018

Source: Trading Economics, OTC, CFD

Despite being a leader in frontier technologies such as e-commerce (China has 733mln internet users compared with 391mln in India, 413mln in the EU and a mere 246mln in the US) the recent decline in tech giants Alibaba (BABA) and Tencent (TCEHY) have added to financial market woes. However, as the chart above shows, Chinese stocks have been in a bear-market since 2015. Some of its Asian neighbours have followed a similar trajectory as their economies have slowed in response to a US$ strength and US trade policy.

The notionally pegged Chinese currency has also weakened against the US$, testing it lowest levels in almost a decade: –

China currency 2008-2018

Source: Trading Economics

Meanwhile, President Xi has now announced plans to rebalance China’s economy towards consumption, turning it into an importing superpower. Surely something has to give.

The IMF expects Chinese GDP to grow at 6.6% in 2018. They continue to point to signs of economic progress: –

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

World’s Largest Asset Manager Warns: The Dollar’s Days As Global Reserve Currency Are Numbered

Have BlackRock CEO Larry Fink and Russian President Vladimir Putin been comparing notes?

In comments that sound eerily similar to a warning issued by Putin, who warned during a speech last month that the US risked undermining the dollar’s reserve currency status with its sanctions regime, the CEO of the world’s largest asset-management firm said Tuesday during a panel discussion at the New Economic Forum in Singapore that the US dollar’s status as the world’s dominant currency wouldn’t last forever.

Fink

And instead of citing external factors like China’s expanding economic clout and influence, or an insurgent Russia, Fink pointed to the widening US budget deficit as the biggest risk to the dollar’s status as the global hegemon. And while it might not happen tomorrow, or next year, over time, as US interest rates rise and the federal government strains under its tremendous debt burden, the creditors who were once eager to buy up Treasury bonds will gradually disappear.

“We’re going to move there over time” Fink said.

Instead of working with its creditors like China, the US is fighting them by engaging in an acrimonious trade war. Fink said that, in his experience, it’s never wise to fight with your lenders.

“The problem is we are living with a deficit that is very large. We are fighting with our creditors right now worldwide,” Fink said.

“Generally, when you fight with your banker, it’s not a good outcome,” he said.

“I wouldn’t recommend you fight with your lenders, and we’re fighting with our lenders. Forty percent of the U.S. deficit is funded by external factors. No other country has that.”

And as interest rates rise and the government struggles with its newfound debt premium, collateral damage in the equity market will be almost inevitable.

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

 

“No One Has Outlawed Recessions” Stockman Sees S&P Fair Value “Way Below 2000”

“If you’re a rational investor, you need only two words in your vocabulary: Trump and sell,” says David Stockman, former President Reagan’s Office of Management and Budget director, warning that a 40% stock market plunge is closing in on Wall Street.

While not the first time Stockman has warned of a catastrophe waiting to happen in markets, he told CNBC’s Futures Now that, after the worst monthly loss for global stocks since the financial crisis, that the early rumblings of that epic downturn are finally here.

“No one has outlawed recessions. We’re within a year or two of one,”  adding that:

“fair value of the S&P going into the next recession is well below 2000, 1500 – way below where we are today.”

According to Stockman, Trump’s efforts to get the Fed to stop hiking rates from historical lows is misdirected…

“He’s attacking the Fed for going too quick when it’s been dithering for eight years. The funds rate at 2.13 percent is still below inflation,”

Specifically, Stockman notes the trade war is a major reason why investors should brace for a prolonged sell-off.

“The trade war is not remotely rational,” he said.

If the dispute worsens, it “is going to hit the whole goods economy with inflation like you’ve never seen before because China supplies about 30 percent of the goods in the categories we import.”

Stockman ends on an even more ominous note:

“We’re going to be in a recession, and we’re going to have another market correction which will be pretty brutal,” Stockman said.

“[Trump]’s playing with fire at the very top of an aging expansion.”

For now, all traders can think about is tomorrow – but we suspect Stockman will be right in the end.

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