Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Category Archives: Economics

SAVs are Raising Existential Questions for Car Companies

This article was first published at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, May 22, 2015:

SAVs are “shared autonomous vehicles” – driverless, robotic automobiles – and they are already raising serious questions that GM and Ford are just starting to address. Questions like: what business are we in today? What business will we be in tomorrow? Twenty-five years from now? Will we be in the car business or the transportation business? What does that mean? What do we do now so we’re still around and profitable then?

GM spokesman Jim Cain put the SAV revolution in the best possible light:

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Driverless Cars to Disrupt Industry, Benefit Consumers

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, May 21, 2015: 

English: Google driverless car operating on a ...

Google driverless car operating on a testing path

 

Brian Johnson, in his “Disruptive Mobility” report issued by Barclays Bank on Tuesday, sees that a future with driverless cars will mean far fewer cars on the road, a much smaller GM and Ford, and consumer travel costs cut by two-thirds. A generation from now there will be just 100 million cars on American roads (compared to 250 million today), and new car sales will fall below levels touched at the bottom of the Great Recession: less than 10 million a year.

This means that, unless they adapt and adopt new strategies, and perhaps a new business model, General Motors and Ford will likely be vastly smaller enterprises than they are today. He predicts that

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Mainstream Economists, the Herd Instinct, and GDP

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, May 20, 2015:

It’s no surprise, really. Most mainstream economists look at the world through Keynesian lenses, they attend the same conferences, read the same reports, are employed by companies in the same industry, hold degrees from the same universities, and are rewarded for having a view that doesn’t stray from the norm, even if that view is wrong. It’s a perfect reflection of the herd mentality: the impulse or tendency toward “clustering,” reflecting the need for conformity. It’s how economists make weathermen look good.

If their view turns out to be wrong, they adjust, slowly. If they are challenged or threatened,

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Atlanta Fed Drops GDP Growth Estimate to Under One Percent

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, May 19, 2015: 

Whenever new data on the economy is reported, the Atlanta branch of the Federal Reserve System (the Atlanta “Fed”) releases its proprietary “nowcast” on how well the economy is doing. For some time now, that forecast has embarrassed mainstream economists who have subsequently been forced to drop their own forecasts as the economy continues to slow.

In February GDPNow projected that the U.S. economy would grow by 1.9 percent in 2015, far below the rosy estimates by mainstream economists. Two weeks ago GDPNow projected growth at 1.2 percent. On May 13, it dropped further,

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Moody’s Lowers Chicago’s Debt Rating to Junk Status

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, May 13, 2015: 

Moody’s cut its rating on another $4 billion of Chicago’s debt to just above junk status, for a total of $13 billion that was downgraded on Tuesday. This is approaching two times the city’s total annual revenues, and fails to take into account the $550 million payment the city must make in December to keep the police and firemen’s pension plan solvent. Nor does it take into account the $230 million penalty the city must pay for terminating previous “swap” agreements that allowed it to continue to borrow at competitive rates.

With this two-level drop, $2 billion in additional penalties may come due, according to Moody’s: “[Our] current rating actions give the counterparties of these [swap] transactions the option to immediately demand up to $2.2 billion in accelerated principal and accrued interest [payments] and associated termination fees.”

Doing the math is frightening. But Chicago’s Budget Director Alex Holt seems unconcerned: 

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New York’s Fracking Ban Hurting Upstate New Yorkers

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, May 11, 2015: 

When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was running for reelection in 2012 he said he was concerned about the poor economy hurting residents in upstate New York, particularly those living along the state’s southern border with Pennsylvania. Residents of Broome and Bradford counties in particular could peer across the border and see residents of Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna county living better, paying less in taxes, and enjoying the economic benefits of the fracking boom.

Cuomo briefly considered lifting the state’s de facto ban on fracking in those counties as a way to give their residents a chance to enjoy some of those benefits.

But only briefly.

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China’s Economy Continues to Implode

This article was first published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, May 8, 2015: 

English: Scatter graph of the People's Republi...

Wolf Richter is one observer of the present world economic scene who hasn’t had his mind altered by drinking the Kool-Aid ladled out in Washington and in the economics departments of so many colleges and universities. After holding a number of C-level positions (CEO, COO, etc.) in large and successful private companies, he chucked it and went to live for a while in Switzerland. He started a blog with the ghastly name of Testosterone Pit, which he thankfully changed to Wolf Street last summer.

He has been watching economic events unfold (and unravel) in China for some time, but the latest from the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI) so startled him two weeks ago that he thought it was either a misprint, or that the index would bounce right back from its precipitous fall.

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China Export Shipping Declines by Two-thirds

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, May 7, 2015: 

Two weeks ago the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI), which tracks shipping rates from Shanghai to the world, fell off a cliff: down a breath-taking 67 percent from a year ago. Wolf Richter thought it was a statistical fluke.

It was no fluke. In the next two weeks the SCFI for Northern Europe fell another 14 percent, an all-time low. Wrote Richter: “Something big is going on in the China-Europe trade.”

The collapse is being echoed by other indexes reflecting the breathtaking decline in China’s exports. For example

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Do Negative Interest Rates Portend a Negative Economy?

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, May 4, 2015:

Last Thursday the London Daily Telegraph’s assistant editor, Jeremy Warner, reported an astonishing statistic: Almost a third of all government debt in the eurozone is paying negative interest rates. That’s more than $2 trillion in government bonds, and, it appears, investors are happy that they aren’t paying even more.

Fifty percent of French bonds now trade with a negative yield, while 70 percent of Germany’s bonds trade at a negative yield. More remarkably, in Spain, which was on the verge of insolvency just a few years ago, 17 percent of its government bonds now trade with a negative yield.

This is counterintuitive, which explains why Keynesians, those who believe that “demand” in an economy can be artificially increased by manipulating taxes and the money supply, have no explanation for it. In theory,

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More Keynesian Insanity: Negative Interest Rates

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, May 4, 2015:

There’s a corollary to the insanity rule. It’s called the Keynesian Corollary: When something doesn’t work, do more of it. When history is written about the coming Second Great Recession, historians will likely note July 2012 as the turning point. That was when Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank (ECB) said during a panel discussion that the ECB “is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. And believe me, it will be enough.”

Other historians might list that as one of the top ten “famous last words” ever issued by a human being. Since that moment bond yields across the world have dropped, and dropped, and dropped. On Thursday Jeremy Warner, the London Daily Telegraph’s assistant editor, announced that

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First-quarter GDP Report Is Awful

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmereican.com on Wednesday, April 29, 2015: 

Logo of the United States Bureau of Economic A...

The report released Wednesday morning by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) was stark: The economy stalled in the first quarter in every sector, with overall growth barely positive, and embarrassing once again economists who predicted substantially better results. According to the BEA the economy in the first quarter grew at an annual rate of just 0.2 percent, compared to estimates of between 1.0 and 2.0 percent by the “experts.”

Personal spending dropped by nearly two thirds from the fourth quarter of 2014; durable goods purchases fell by more than 80 percent; and non-durable goods purchases almost disappeared compared to the last quarter, falling by 0.3 percent compared to an increase of more than four percent. The service industry limped along at two-thirds of last quarter’s pace.

Investment in business capital equipment went negative, as did

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DOE Ignores Green Complaints, Issues LNG Export Permits

This article was first published at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, April 29, 2015: 

Prior to last September there was only one port fitted out to export liquefied natural gas to customers abroad: the ConocoPhillips’ Kenai LNG Terminal near Anchorage, Alaska. But when environmentalists got word that Obama’s Department of Energy was about to issue permits allowing two more ports to be built on the Gulf Coast, they rolled out their big guns in protest. Said Kate DeAngelis, an anti-energy, anti-fracking, climate change activist and campaigner for Friends of the Earth:

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Energy Department Approves Six LNG Export Plants; More Coming

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, April 28, 2015:

On April 14, the Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission published a remarkable summary of its recent approvals for private energy companies to build LNG (liquid natural gas) export plants along the East and Gulf Coasts.

What’s remarkable is that for decades the DOE has bought the argument that exporting LNG to customers around the world might jeopardize its supply here in the United States. It also bought the argument that allowing private producers to ship their product overseas would only encourage more fracking here with its claimed attendant but unproven dangers to the environment.

That the DOE is giving approval to LNG export facilities is proof that reality has finally replaced ideology at the agency, at least for the moment. As expected,

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Hybrid Owners Trading Them in for SUVs

This article was first published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, April 24, 2015:

English: A Tesla Roadster, Reva i and Ford Th!...

A Tesla Roadster, Reva i and Ford Th!nk electric

 

Back before his credibility had been so greatly tarnished along with his confidence in government as a solution to every problem, President Obama made a promise in his 2011 State of the Union speech that realists knew he couldn’t keep: he was going to put one million electric and hybrid vehicles (EVs) on the road by 2015:

With more [government funded] research and [tax credit] incentives, we can break our dependence upon oil … and become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

The Department of Energy (DOE) called his proclamation a “key milestone toward dramatically reducing dependence on oil and ensuring that America leads in the growing electric vehicle manufacturing industry.” The agency boasted that already those manufacturers were ramping up to produce more than 1.2 million EVs by 2015, thanks to government subsidies, consumer tax credits, federally funded programs to help cities prepare for the growing demand for EV charging stations, as well as continued and increasing “support” [read: grants and loans] for R and D.

It’s 2015. The manifesto proclaimed from on high in January 2011 has fallen a little short:

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Cachet Fades: Hybrid Owners Trading for SUVs

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, April 23, 2015: 

 

2004-2008 Toyota Prius photographed in Bethesd...

Toyota Prius

 

Tuesday’s announcement from Edmunds.com, the car-shopping website, that twice as many EV (electric and hybrid) owners are trading in their cars for gas-guzzling SUVs as they were just two years ago shouldn’t have caught anyone by surprise. The math never really made sense, and with gas prices half what they were two years ago, reality is neutering the “cachet” of owning an “environmentally friendly” automobile.

When gas was $4.67 a gallon in October 2012 it would take five years of gasoline savings to make up the difference between a Toyota Camry LE Hybrid ($28,230) and a Toyota Camry LE ($24,460). But with gas prices half that, it now takes more than 10 years to break even.

Not only is market reality disrupting and removing the “cachet,” it is also

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Hillary Finally Comes Clean: The Economy Is “Stalled”

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, April 21, 2015:

During Hillary Clinton’s road trip to New Hampshire on Monday, something remarkable occurred: She told the truth about the economy, telling her supporters that the economy has “stalled out” and, adding, “It’s not enough to tread water.”

A month ago while she was busy not running for president, Clinton never uttered a word about the weakening economy, giving mute evidence that she was unwilling to risk telling the truth and offending both the president and her Democrat supporters. This despite evidence that Americans have put economic worries at or near the top of their concerns for months on end. This despite the fact that the nation’s GDP fell off a cliff in January and February. This despite the fact that job growth since the start of the Great Recession has been half what it was during the Reagan recovery in the 1980s. This despite evidence that new business startups have continued their decline since 2009, and evidence that business investment in new enterprises has dropped sharply at the same time.

But evidence just released has so overwhelmed the Democrat stance that everything is ducky that it apparently has forced Clinton to admit what is obvious to the voters whose support she is seeking:

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House Votes to Repeal Federal Estate Tax

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, April 17, 2015: 

English: Official photograph of John Thune, U....

U.S. Senator John Thune from South Dakota

On Thursday the House voted, 240-179, to repeal the federal estate tax, setting the stage for a confrontation with the Senate and a veto threat by the president. Identical bills were presented in both houses of Congress, by Representative Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Senator John Thune (R-S.D.). Brady’s bill passed with the support of all but three Republicans and the defection of seven Democrats. Thune’s bill is expected to die in the Senate.

Said Brady: 

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Trinity Church Lawsuit Threatens Walmart’s Freedom to Sell Guns

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, April 8, 2015: 

Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan

Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan

If Walmart’s appeal of a court’s ruling last November fails, it would not only set the stage for huge changes in how corporate America runs its operations, but also represent a victory for anti-gunners interested in removing guns from Walmart’s shelves.

New York’s Trinity Wall Street Church, a historic, well-endowed (with an estimated $2 billion in assets), and politically liberal church, asked Walmart in early 2014 to include a proposal in its proxy materials for the company’s annual meeting. On the surface, the proposal seemed innocuous enough. All the church (which owns about $280,000 worth of Walmart stock) wanted was to make a slight change in the company’s board of directors charter: 

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Election Win Will Cost Chicago Even More

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, April 7, 2015:

, former White House Chief of Staff

Going into Tuesday’s runoff election, Mayor Rahm Emanuel held nearly a 20-point advantage over his rival, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a hard-left progressive member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Four years ago Emanuel won in a walk, taking 55 percent of the vote. In February he couldn’t even manage a majority, with just 46 percent, forcing Tuesday’s runoff. As a North Side small business owner explained:

[In February] I cast an “anybody-but-Rahm” vote. Rahm is not a likeable guy. Sadly, he has no competition. Chuy is a nice guy but doesn’t seem to have a clue what he would do if elected.

When I go back for the final vote, I will vote for Rahm. Maybe he has a chance of fixing some of the [city’s] financial problems.

That’s hardly likely. In the past four years, Emanuel’s abrasive personality and his leftist worldview have added immensely to Chicago’s woes:

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Little Old Lady About to Make History in the Oil Patch

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Thursday, April 2, 2015:

Cover of "Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make ...

Historians like people who make history. People like Rosa Parks (the “first lady of civil rights”), and Suzette Kelo (see Kelo v. City of New London). So much so that Laurel Thatcher Ulrich made herself known by writing “Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History,” in which she said:

Some history-making is intentional; much of it is accidental. People make history when they scale a mountain, ignite a bomb, or refuse to move to the back of the bus.

It may be that historians will someday add Sandra Ladra to that list.

Sandra Ladra was sitting in her recliner in her home in Prague, Oklahoma, on the evening of November 5, 2011, when

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.