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

Tag Archives: Keynesian

The U.S. Economy is Built on Papier-mâché and Politicians’ Promises

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, November 1, 2017:

What a perfect definition of the American economy! Papier-mâché is defined as a “composite material consisting of paper pieces of pulp, sometimes reinforced with textiles, bound with an adhesive such as glue, starch, or wallpaper paste.” Add in a dose of political promises that everyone knows cannot be kept – not even close – and we have the American economy.

From a distance it looks pretty good. More than pretty good: to the untrained eye the American economy is setting world records, to wit:

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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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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.”

If Dudley is Right, Then Let’s Pray for the Flooding of the Entire Country!

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, September 11, 2017:

Cover of "The Emperor's New Clothes"

Cover of The Emperor’s New Clothes

Taken to its logical conclusion, William Dudley, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, thinks a flood covering all of the United States would stimulate the economy. Several sources confirmed that this is what Dudley said on Friday in an interview at CNBC concerning the economic effects of hurricanes Harvey and Irma:

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Has Janet Yellen Tripped the Bernanke Indicator?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, July 14, 2017:

Official portrait of Federal Reserve Chairman ...

Official portrait of former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke

During a question and answer period following her talk at the British Academy in London on June 27, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen was asked if there could possibly be a repeat of the 2007-2008 financial crisis. She answered:

I think the system is much safer and much sounder [today]. We are doing a lot more to try to look for financial stability risks that may not be immediately apparent, but to look in corners of the financial system that are not subject to regulation, outside those areas in order to try to detect threats to financial stability that may be emerging….

 

Would I say there will never, ever be another financial crisis? You know probably that would be going too far but I do think we’re much safer and I hope that it will not be in our lifetimes and I don’t believe it will be.

Historians will remember similar assurances from then-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke just before the real estate crash that led to the financial crisis back in 2007:

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Trump, Mexico Settle Sugar Dispute Just in Time for NAFTA Renegotiations

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, June 7, 2017: 

The sugar settlement between the United States and Mexico, announced on Tuesday by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, sets the stage for the NAFTA “renegotiation” scheduled to begin in August. And the settlement is going to cost Americans more to satisfy their sweet tooths.

At bottom, it’s all about protecting an inefficient American industry from foreign competition. Sugar is an enormous industry, and economic and political interests want to keep protections in place in order to save it from foreign competition. On one side is Big Sugar:

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Moody’s Credit Downgrade of China First in Almost 30 Years

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, May 25, 2017:

China GDP

China GDP

Moody’s Investors Service, one of the big three credit-rating services in the country, downgraded China’s creditworthiness one full notch on Wednesday. It moved the world’s second-largest economy from Aa3 (“high quality [with] very low risk”) to A1 (Upper-medium grade [with] low credit risk”). It explained why:

The downgrade reflects Moody’s expectations that China’s financial strength will erode somewhat over the coming years, with economy-wide debt continuing to grow as potential growth slows.

That “potential growth” has been slowing since at least 2010. In that year Chinese government agencies reported growth in excess of 10 percent. By 2014, it had slowed to 7.3 percent, to 6.9 percent in 2015, and is now at a reported 6.7 percent.

Moody’s is late to the game.

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Trump Picks Neocon to Head Council of Economic Advisors

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, April 10, 2017:

President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he would nominate Kevin Hassett as chairman of his Council of Economic Advisors. Immediately, Glenn Hubbard, a neocon serving as a visiting scholar at the “conservative” American Enterprise Institute (AEI), piped up to laud Hassett’s nomination and Trump’s wisdom in selecting him for the position: “He’s not just a standard-issue really good economist, [Hassett is] someone who knows how policy works. The tax changes being considered are really aimed at boosting investment, so I think Kevin is exactly the right person.”

He’s the right person if Trump wants someone whose resumé includes stints at the

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Trump Stumbles Again: Appoints Interventionist to head his Council of Economic Advisors

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, April 10, 2017:

Cover of "DOW 36,000 : The New Strategy f...

One way to test a hypothesis is to apply it to the real world. Two renowned, highly-regarded, and elite-college trained economists did just that. In 1999 James Glassman, the founding executive director of the George W. Bush Institute (Harvard-trained with a BA in government), and Kevin Hassett, BA in Economics from Swarthmore and Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, wrote Dow 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting from the Coming Rise in the Stock Market. So sure were they about their prediction they went on the road to promote it, claiming that “stocks are now in the midst of a one-time-only rise to much higher ground – to the neighborhood of 36,000 on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.”

On December 31, 1999 the Dow stood at 11,497. A little over three years later the Dow closed (on March 6, 2003) at 7,673, a drop of 3,823 points, costing those who bought the book and took their advice one-third of their investment.

But both persisted,

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Will Mick Mulvaney Pull Trump’s Financial Fat Out of the Fire?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, December 19, 2016:  

English: Official portrait of US Rep. Mick Mul...

Michael “Mick” Mulvaney (shown) rode the Tea Party wave in 2010 into Congress, replacing a 14-term Democrat from South Carolina’s 5th District. He has been handily reelected ever since. He took his oath of office seriously, saying in 2010 that “If political reporters want to know what drives the Tea Partiers, it is their belief in the Constitution. That’s what has always driven me in politics and will guide me in Congress.”

He remained as true to his word as any of those riding the same wave,

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The Four “Wild Cards” in Trump’s Handful of Advisors

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, November 11, 2016:  

English: Logo of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc....

Nervous conservatives are looking for signs that the “establishment” – i.e., Goldman Sachs, big banks, the Council on Foreign Relations, George Soros, etc. – having been unable to derail Donald Trump’s march to the presidency, is going instead to infiltrate and insinuate its operatives into the new Trump administration. Many of them remember the successful infiltration and subsequent manipulation of the Reagan administration with the naming of establishment insider James Baker as Reagan’s chief of staff.

At the moment there appear to be four “wild cards” out of the dozens Trump has already invited into his inner circle: Steven Mnuchin, Peter Navarro, John Paulson, and Carter Page.

The first and most obvious one is Steven Mnuchin, the head of Dune Capital Management and former director at Goldman Sachs, where he amassed a personal fortune estimated at more than $40 million as head of the firm’s trading desk. A graduate of Yale,

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Trump Adds to His List of Advisors

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, November 10, 2016:  

English: Deck of cards used in the game piquet

In March, Donald Trump trotted out an early list of foreign-policy advisors on whom he would be relying if he were elected president. In an interview with the Washington Post, Trump said, “I can give you some of the names … Walid Phares, who you probably know, PhD, adviser to the House of Representatives Caucus, and counter-terrorism expert; Carter Page, PhD; George Papadopoulos — he’s an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy; the Honorable Joseph Schmitz, [former] inspector general at the Department of Defense; [retired] Gen. Keith Kellogg; and I have quite a few more.”

In August he added “quite a few more” and then, the day after he was elected, Trump added still more, this time in the economic policy area.

There are at least four “wild cards” in the deck that Trump is building,

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Candidates Silent as Government Spending Jumps, Deficit Increases

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, October 17, 2016:  

On Friday, the Treasury Department published the final revenue and spending numbers for the federal government for Fiscal Year 2016, which ended on September 30. According to Treasury’s report, spending increased significantly (by nearly five percent) over the previous year, to more than $3.8 trillion, while revenues remained essentially flat from the year before, at $3.25 trillion. That left a shortfall of approximately $600 billion, forcing the government to borrow 15 cents of every dollar it spent last year. And the two presidential candidates have remained disturbingly silent about the issue.

Said Robert Bixby, the executive director of the Concord Coalition, a non-partisan group that favors reducing the deficit,

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The Global Recession Claims its First Victim: Hanjin Shipping

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, September 9, 2016:  

English: Hanjin container ship

One of Hanjin’s container ships looking for a place to unload.

When the question about a tree falling in the forest is asked, it’s usually posed as a philosophical one: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” The question is never asked: “What if someone is around who doesn’t want to hear it?”

That appears to explain the kept media’s deafness over the state of the global economy. Even when the Wall Street Journal reported on the bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping, the world’s seventh largest container shipping company, not one word was spent on asking why. Instead

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Hanjin Bankruptcy: a Harbinger for the Global Economy?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, September 8, 2016:  

English: A Delmas operated Container ship NICO...

South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping was the world’s seventh-largest container shipping company, moving (until last week) 100 million tons of cargo on its 200 cargo ships from manufacturers to retailers across the globe. Last week, following years of losses as the global economy has slowed, Hanjin declared bankruptcy. That move stranded 90 of those ships as off-loading companies refused to unload them over concerns that they wouldn’t be paid.

Even an offer of $90 million from what’s left of Hanjin (including $36 million from the personal assets of its chairman) fell far short of the necessary $543 million estimated to unload all of its ships that are now circling ports around the world.

Concerns are mounting that

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On Cue, the US Mainstream Media Claims Brazil’s New President as “Free Market”

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, September 2nd, 2016: 

Português do Brasil: Michel Temer durante a co...

Michel Temer

The mainstream media lavished unwarranted praise on Brazil’s new president, socialist Michel Temer, on Wednesday following his ascension to the post after Dilma Rousseff was ousted from it. The Wall Street Journal called it a “new start” for Brazil, while USA Today mischaracterized the crook as “a center-right” politician and “a pro-business, free-market advocate.” The New York Times gushed that Rousseff’s impeachment and Temer’s inauguration “puts a definitive end to 13 years of governing by the leftist [read: communist] Workers’ Party.”

This was followed up by promises from the new socialist-in-chief himself:

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Michel Temer, Brazil’s New President, Faces Massive Challenges

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, September 1, 2016:  

English: The newly elected president of the Ch...

Brazil’s new president, Michel Temer

Just after being sworn in as Brazil’s new president, and just before jetting off to the G-20 meeting in China to hobnob with the global elites, Michel Temer took time on Wednesday to make a promise to Brazilians: “From today on, the expectations are much higher for the [new] government. I hope that in these two years and four months [when his term ends in 2018], we do what we have declared: put Brazil back on track.”

That’s an expression more of hope than reality: Little is likely to change except the name of Brazil’s president. Temer faces challenges that would stagger Godzilla:

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The Coming Puerto Rican Bailout

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, August 29, 2016:  

On or before September 1, President Obama will complete the eight appointments to the oversight board created when he signed PROMESA (Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act) into law on June 30. Those already on the board include Republican Senators Orrin Hatch and Marco Rubio, Democrat Senator Bill Nelson and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez.

In theory the board will have the power to override the island’s government, delay litigation, fire government workers, and “suggest” other ways the island can begin to recover from its present economic implosion. It has been described as a “de facto” Chapter 9 bankruptcy. In practice it is likely that,

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Rio 2016 Olympic Games Likely to Hasten Brazil’s Bankruptcy

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, June 20, 2016:  

Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympics bid logo.

A postmortem on Rio 2016 is likely to show a loss. History might record a cataclysmic disaster. Seven years ago when the IOC awarded the 2016 summer Olympics to Brazil, the main concern was crime in the city of Rio de Janeiro. At the time IOC spokesman Mark Adams told the AP: “We have confidence in [Brazil’s] capacity to deliver a safe Games in seven years. Security is of course a very important aspect of any Olympic Games….”

At the time Rio was one of the top ten most crime-ridden cities in the world. But everything else seemed to bode well:

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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.