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

Dow Crosses 23,000 for the First Time in History

Performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Index ...

Performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Index during Black Monday

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, October 17, 2017:

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), colloquially called “The Dow,” crossed over the 23,000 benchmark level early Tuesday morning for the first time in history. The Dow, which tracks the stocks of 30 major corporations, has gained 25 percent since the election while the NASDAQ (which tracks the stock performance of a vastly larger and more diversified range of companies across the globe) is up 27 percent. The S&P 500 Index (which tracks the stock performance of 500 American companies) is up 19 percent.

The Wall Street Journal had no trouble finding money managers who were willing to comment positively on the news. Mark Freeman, chief investment officer and portfolio manager at Westwood Holdings Group (which invests $22 billion for its customers), told the Journal:

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What if Your Customer Can’t Buy Your Product, but Wants to?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, October 16, 2017:

There are two basic rules of economics. The first is: if prices go down, more will be demanded. The second is: both sides of any economic transaction must benefit or there’s no deal.

The fracking revolution in the United States has pushed the price of crude oil down to the point where it is threatening the very existence of the OPEC cartel. Consumers are saving at the pump and the energy industry in the U.S. employs more than 10 million people, making up eight percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

But there’s been an all but invisible transformation taking place in natural gas. At least two of the Big Oil companies sell more natural gas than they do crude oil.

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U.S. Natural Gas Exports to Add 500,000 Jobs, $73 Billion to Economy

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, October 16, 2017:

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker, section vi...

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker, section view from side.

The latest estimate from API, the energy trade group, is that increased exports of LNG (liquefied natural gas) over the next 20 years will add nearly 500,000 jobs to the American economy and $73 billion to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Marty Durbin, API’s chief strategy officer, stated, “This report confirms that increasing U.S. LNG exports would bring great benefits to American workers and consumers and [to] the U.S. economy. Increasing the use of U.S. natural gas throughout the world means more production here at home, cleaner air, and increased energy security for our nation and our allies.”

The revolution taking place in natural gas has been almost completely overlooked.

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EV Revolution to Drive Oil to $10 a Barrel, Says Forecaster

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, October 16, 2017:

Shell Oil Company

Chris Watling, the CEO of Longview Economics, told CNBC on Friday that Saudi Arabia should hasten the sale of part of its Aramco oil company while the price of crude is still high: “I think they need to get it away quick before oil goes to $10 [per barrel].” Added Watling: “We forget, don’t we? 120 years ago the world didn’t live on oil. Oil hasn’t always driven the global economy. The point is, alternative energy in some form is gathering speed.… Things are changing.”

Watling’s views coincide with those of Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) in their just-released 2017 Long Term Electric Vehicle Outlook, which concluded that by 2040

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Frustrated Trump Attacks “ObamaCare Nightmare” via Executive Order

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, October 12, 2017:

Increasingly frustrated over Congress’ inability or unwillingness to dismantle ObamaCare, President Trump tweeted earlier this week, “Since Congress can’t get its act together on HealthCare, I will be using the power of the pen to give great HealthCare to many people — FAST”; and now he has.

Of course the president cannot “give” anything to someone that hasn’t been taken from someone else, but other than that, the president is heading in the right direction. Leaks concerning his executive order, which he signed on Thursday, were confirmed: His order points to less government intervention and more individual freedom.

Calling the present Affordable Care Act an “Obamacare Nightmare,” Trump said his alternative is better:

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Latest Report: Crude Won’t See $60 a Barrel For at Least a Year

English: Flag of the Organization of Petroleum...

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, October 13, 2017:

According to oil seers, there are two magic numbers: the five-year average of five billion barrels in crude-oil reserves held around the world in salt caverns, oil tankers, and oil storage tanks; and $60 for a barrel of oil, priced in London.

In January there were 318 million barrels of “surplus” crude above that five-year average, but by the end of September that number had dropped to “only” 170 million barrels of “surplus.” Oil traders saw the trend toward “balance” — that magical, mystical, and entirely theoretical moment when worldwide crude-oil inventories would hit that five billion barrel marker and thus be “balanced” — and started getting excited. Placing bets that oil prices would move higher as worldwide inventories continued to drop, they placed bullish bets in the futures market, which hit new highs in September.

But according to the monthly report issued by the International Energy Agency (EIA) on Thursday, that’s likely to be as good as it’s going to get:

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Unwinding ObamaCare

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, October 13, 2017:

Those in the freedom fight know how to get rid of unnecessary, unconstitutional programs: starve them and/or let the free market compete against them. Either way, they’re done for. President Trump’s Executive Order issued on Thursday does both.

That’s why his order was so much more than just allowing the free market to operate in providing healthcare coverages. It set a pattern for further rescissions and reductions of other unnecessary and anti-freedom government programs. What President Trump said was music to the ears of those committed to free market principles and who have been fighting for years to see a day like Thursday arrive and hear a president say the following:

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China Forcing Private Businesses to Support Failing State-owned Enterprises

China Unicom

China Unicom

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, October 11, 2017: 

The latest report from Caixin/Markit should surprise no one watching China’s continuing economic decline. On Monday Caixin/Markit announced that its purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for China’s services sector fell in September to the lowest level since December 2015, and close to the lowest recorded since the survey began in 2005.

Its PMI for China’s manufacturing sector also fell in September, causing Zhengsheng Zhong, a director at CEBM Group, to add that these numbers “suggesting downward pressure on [China’s] economic growth may re-emerge in the fourth quarter.”

Indeed they might. As The New American and others have noted,

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OPEC is Textbook Example of Classic Cartel

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, October 11, 2017:

the new OPEC headquarters in Vienna Español: S...

OPEC headquarters in Vienna

Free market economists have long considered OPEC as a textbook example of the anti-free market cartel. Its mission statement confirms it:

To coordinate and unify the petroleum policies of its member countries and ensure the stabilization of oil markets, in order to secure an efficient, economic, and regular supply of petroleum to consumers, a steady income to producers, and a fair return on capital for those investing in the petroleum industry.

This is of course the “siren song” of every cartel:

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OPEC Asks U.S. Oil Industry to Join Its Cartel

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, October 10, 2017:

At a speech in New Delhi on Sunday, OPEC’s Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo offered an olive branch to the American oil industry: Come join our cartel and together we’ll keep prices up and everyone profitable. These are his exact words:

We urge our friends [we’re all friends, now] in the shale basins of North America to take this shared responsibility with all [the] seriousness it deserves, as one of the key lessons learned from the current unique supply-driven cycle.

Translation:

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Jobs Report Shows Remarkable Economic Resiliency After Hurricanes

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, October 6, 2017: 

Even the headline was positive. Despite losing 200,000 jobs temporarily due to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the American economy’s growth elsewhere all but made up for them. The Labor Department reported a net 33,000 jobs loss in September, the first negative number since 2010.

Other signs of economic strength were revealed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

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Two Credit Agencies Drop Hartford’s Ratings Further Into Junk Status

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, September 27, 2017:

Flag of City of Hartford

Flag of City of Hartford

S&P Global Ratings and Moody’s Investors Services dropped Hartford, Connecticut’s credit rating nearly to the bottom of their rating schedules on Tuesday, one day after Mayor Luke Bronin said no to the city’s two bond insurers who offered to refinance the city’s debt further out into the future.

Explained S&P,

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Trump’s Regulatory Rollbacks Already Being Felt

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, September 22, 2017:

English: G. Edward Griffin

G. Edward Griffin

The latest report from the American Action Forum (AAF), which has been tracking President Trump’s promise to deregulate American businesses, continues to be upbeat. In April it had found that the repeal or delay of regulations imposed during the Obama administration could lead to $86 billion “in net fiscal effects” for taxpayers as a result. The latest from AAF said that the trend downward in regulations and upward in freedom from them continues apace.

In July the Washington Post counted 860 regulations that the Trump administration was either pulling or suspending, and then included commentary from anti-Trump liberals that

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China is Suffering from the Same Curse as the U.S.: Too Much Debt, Too Little Growth

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, September 22, 2017:  

Live video feed of Zig Ziglar speaking at the ...

Zig Ziglar speaking at the Get Motivated Seminar at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California.

When Zig Ziglar was trying to motivate salesmen, he would often tell them that “there aren’t very many problems that can’t be solved by sufficient production.” This, unfortunately, has been picked up by statist economists who have assumed that any production, at any cost, will solve any problem. Put another way, “We can grow our way out from under the massive debt we have. And we can grow the economy by stimulating it with borrowed funds.”

Zig would be appalled:

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S&P Downgrades China’s Credit Rating

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, September 21, 2017:  

Thanks to “diminished financial stability,” S&P Global Ratings downgraded China’s credit rating for the first time since 1999, adding, “China’s prolonged period of strong credit [debt] growth has increased its economic and financial risks. Although this credit [debt] growth had contributed to strong real gross domestic product growth and higher asset prices, we believe it has also diminished financial stability.”

The downgrade by S&P is the second one this year for China — Moody’s Investors Service dropped China’s rating in May — and was preceded by a warning from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in August that China’s growing debt binge was putting its economy into jeopardy.

The response by Chinese officials was as predictable as it was silly.

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If Socialism Is the Problem in Venezuela, More Sanctions Are Not the Solution

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, September 20, 2017:

Overshadowed by his remarks concerning North Korea’s “Rocket Man” and the “worst ever” Iranian nuclear deal, President Donald Trump’s views on Venezuela in his speech at the United Nations on Tuesday were soft-pedalled by the mainstream media.

But they were spot on:

The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented but that socialism has been faithfully implemented. From the Soviet Union to Cuba, Venezuela — wherever socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish, devastation and failure.

 

Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems

Trump then added, without being explicit:

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As the Fed Shrinks Its Balance Sheet, Nothing Can Go Wrong

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, September 20, 2017:

Investors and Wall Street gurus, seers, and prognosticators paid attention on Wednesday to the emanations from the Federal Reserve board meeting, hoping to glean more of the details about the “great unwinding” of the Fed’s enormously bloated balance sheet. In June, Fed Chair Janet Yellen suggested that the time was drawing near to begin reducing the Fed’s balance sheet and there were at least two ways to start: letting maturing bonds “roll off” instead of reinvesting the proceeds in new issues, and liquidating, ever so slowly, some U.S. treasuries, starting at $10 billion a month in October. That liquidation would increase on a quarterly basis until it topped out at $50 billion a month.

The goal, it was suggested, was to

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Impact of Fed’s Plan to Do a “QE Unwind”

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, September 19, 2017: 

English: Official picture of Janet Yellen from...

Janet Yellen

What makes tomorrow’s [today’s – Wednesday, September 20] meeting at the Federal Reserve so interesting to market watchers and bond investors is the likelihood that Fed Chair Janet Yellen will provide more details on her plans to begin unwinding the Fed’s balance sheet: how much, how fast, how soon, and what does it all mean? In addition, she is hoping to placate conservatives in Congress who remain unhappy over the Fed’s intervention in the markets in the aftermath of the real estate collapse that triggered the Great Recession.

In June, Yellen outlined some possible scenarios, which included letting some of the bonds on the central bank’s enormous $4.2 trillion balance sheet simply mature without reinvesting the funds in new issues. She suggested the Fed would also start selling off some $10 billion a month of existing securities, and then raise that amount every quarter until it reaches $50 billion a month. This way, by expanding on her plans, and by slowly — very slowly — shrinking the Fed massive balance sheet, she hopes to avoid another “taper tantrum” that bond investors experienced back in 2013 when then-chairman Ben Bernanke first said the Fed should start reducing some of its holdings of U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities.

If she provides sufficient clarity, and sufficient caution, Yellen might not only start the process without disrupting the market, but also avoid further criticism from congressional critics who think the Fed stepped way out of bounds in starting the whole “quantitative easing” (QE) program in the first place. In that way — again, if she is successful — she will not only cement into place the Fed as a necessary element in the American economy, but show that further “QE” expansions to meet future recessions are a legitimate tool.

Whether she can pull it off is an open question. Keynesian economist Austan Goolsbee, who headed Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors in 2010 and 2011, said, “The final exam, with the grade yet to be determined, is: can the Fed actually get out of this stuff?”

The Fed has been essentially flying blind for years, moving outside not only its mandate (to maximize labor force participation while keeping inflation under control) but its past experience. Said David Blanchflower, a Dartmouth College economist (read: Keynesian) who was on the monetary policy committee of the Bank of England from 2006 to 2009, expressed it perfectly: “We had no idea what we should buy, how much, for how long … [and] there is no idea on the way going out.”

It was all a grand experiment: expand the money supply to keep interest rates so far below market rates that people seeking income would take higher risks — i.e., dividend-paying stocks, real estate ventures, etc. — and home owners would find it easier to buy houses. This was the Keynesian antidote to the economic collapse. Rather than let the economy right itself by itself (see America’s recession and recovery in 1920-1921), Keynesians suffer the hubris to think they know better than the market, and intervened, resulting in the longest, slowest recovery from a recession in American history.

Once the Fed began to embark on its plan to bail out banks and other financial institutions in the wake of the real estate collapse, there was no going back. When the federal government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — mortgage insurers that were approaching bankruptcy — it found that it needed to buy up billions of their failing mortgages. That explains why $1.7 billion of the Fed’s balance sheet consists of mortgages and mortgage-backed securities.

But when that didn’t work the Fed adopted the strategy of “quantitative easing” (QE) — creating money to spur spending across the economy — which some observers thought would never end.

But it did end, in 2014, and the Fed has been sitting on its massive pile of government and mortgage debt, waiting for the economy to revive enough so it could be offloaded without major economic disruptions.

The Fed won’t be unwinding its entire portfolio. Instead it expects to reduce it by between $800 billion and $1 trillion over the next few years, leaving in place a balance sheet of between $2.5 and $3.2 trillion. This means that the Fed will never again see days when its balance sheet shrinks all the way back to the $900 billion it had prior to the Great Recession.

Its plan should have little impact on short-term rates. Using the 10-year Treasury as the standard, when Yellen’s plan (assuming it begins in October) kicks in, it might boost its yield by perhaps a quarter of a percentage point. This would be the natural result of increasing supply in a market with a fixed demand. When more is supplied, prices will go down. In the bond market that translates into a mini-interest rate hike.

But demand from abroad for U.S. bonds continues to be strong. Yields on 10-year bonds issued by foreign governments such as Japan’s and Germany’s remain far below U.S. 10-year bonds and so any increase in rates here will only make them more attractive to foreign buyers.

In fact, once Yellen has filled in the details, as she is expected to do on Wednesday, investors and market watchers are likely to express a sigh of relief, and continue the Fed-fueled rally in stocks that began in 2009 and that shows little sign of stopping. Diane Swonk, chief economist at DS Economics, agrees: “The start to reducing the Fed’s balance sheet is an action the markets are ready for. The Fed has laid out a roadmap and there is really a sense of relief to finally get it started.”

Hurricanes Hammer OPEC as Well

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, September 11, 2017: 

English: Flag of the Organization of Petroleum...

Estimates are that Hurricane Irma knocked out the power to nearly six million Floridians’ homes and businesses, while both Harvey and Irma have either destroyed or heavily damaged 300,000 homes in Texas and hundreds of thousands more in Florida. Further estimates are that these two massive storms have reduced demand for oil by nearly a million barrels a day.

This is being reflected in the price of NYMEX (New York Mercantile Exchange) crude oil dropping to $47 a barrel early Monday. Last Wednesday crude was selling at more than $49.

Part of the problem facing OPEC and its grand plan to cut production to raise oil prices was its assumption that

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New York Fed: Economy Will Benefit From Harvey and Irma

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, September 11, 2017:

Frédéric Bastiat

Frédéric Bastiat

In a statement reflecting a worldview taught by all major universities and espoused by central bankers around the world, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, William Dudley, said on Friday that, on net, the destruction wrought by the hurricanes will be positive for the economy: “[The initial] effects tend to be pretty transitory. [But] the long-run effect of these disasters unfortunately is it actually lifts economic activity because you have to rebuild all the things that have been damaged by the storms.”

Dudley got the first part right:

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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.