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: Recession

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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U.S. Economy Powers Through Hurricanes, Beats Forecasts With Three-percent Growth in Third Quarter

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, October 27, 2017:  

Putting in its best six-month performance in three years, the U.S. economy barely skipped a beat in the third quarter, growing at a three-percent annual rate. That was just slightly behind the second quarter, which grew at 3.1 percent, but way ahead of economists who had forecast growth for the third quarter at just 2.5 percent.

The Commerce Department said

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Trump’s Growth Target Reduced to 3 Percent

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, July 17, 2017:  

For Mick Mulvaney, President Donald Trump’s director of his Office of Management and Budget (OMB), reality is setting in. On the campaign trail Trump repeatedly promised four percent growth in the GDP (gross domestic product): “We’re bringing it from 1 percent up to 4 percent. And I actually think we can go higher than 4 percent. I think you can go to 5 percent or 6 percent.” (October, 2016). Later that month he doubled down during a speech to an audience in North Carolina: “I’m going to get us to 4 percent growth and create 25 million jobs over a 10-year period.”

Mulvaney’s editorial in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday was unapologetic: “We are promoting MAGAnomics — and that means sustained 3 percent growth.” This new tag, which incorporates the acronym for “Make America Great Again,” is a play on “Reaganomics” from the 1980s:

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Will Mulvaney Have Any More Success with MAGAnomics than Stockman did with Reaganomics?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, July 17, 2017:

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

Mick Mulvaney.

After serving in the House as a Republican representative from Michigan, David Stockman served as President Ronald Reagan’s OMB director from January 1981 until he quit 4½ years later in frustration. He got half of Reaganomics passed – the tax reduction part. He failed in getting the other half passed – the government spending cut part.

Mick Mulvaney is now Trump’s OMB Director after serving in the House as a Republican from South Carolina. And his job is likely to be as difficult and frustrating as was Stockman’s.

It’s far too soon to speculate about Mulvaney.

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CBO Raises Its Deficit, Debt Forecasts in Latest Revision

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, July 5, 2017:  

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) just revised its January report with new data on spending, revenues, and economic growth. The revision isn’t good:

The projected rise in [annual] deficits would be the result of rapid growth in spending for federal retirement and health care programs targeted to older people, and to rising interest payments on the government’s debt, accompanied by only moderate growth in revenue collections.

In other words, the CBO simply doesn’t believe that President Trump’s plans to reduce regulation, cut taxes, and repeal ObamaCare will amount to much. Instead the government programs on autopilot — Social Security, Medicare, and especially debt service on the country’s $20 trillion national debt — will eat up nearly 80 percent of the government’s total budget in less than 10 years. Said the CBO:

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U.S. Rig Count Up, OPEC Influence Down

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, April 3, 2017:

An announcement on Friday by Baker Hughes, one of the world’s largest oil-field services companies, put one more nail in OPEC’s coffin. Despite the cartel’s attempt to manipulate world crude-oil prices to its benefit, the oil and gas rig count in the United States jumped by 15 last week and now sits at 824, an increase of 374 in just the last year.

Two days earlier, another nail had been pounded into place:

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Harry Dent, Meet Chris Hamilton

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, March 29, 2017:

For years Harry Dent (shown) has attempted to turn his demographic analyses into investment advice, with middling performance. It seems that when his advice doesn’t turn out well, he writes another book.

Take, for example, his The Demographic Cliff: How to Survive and Prosper During the Great Deflation Ahead. He contends that the economy can be traced and tracked using the behavior of consumers as they grow, mature and age. Young people marry, have families, buy homes, automobiles, and gadgets. Their acquisitions peak at around age 45 or so, and then decline over time into retirement.

His “waves” are like seasons: 

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Wall Street Facing Headwinds as Boomers Forced to Liquidate Their IRAs, 401Ks

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, March 28, 2017:

New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street in New ...

Under the law those reaching age 70 and a half must start taking their “required minimum distributions” (RMDs) from their various tax-deferred accounts. These include IRAs, 401Ks, profit-sharing plans, and SEPs. The trouble is that there are so many of them, and they control so many assets, that their RMDs are going to put enormous pressure on the stock market, according to Chris Hamilton, writing at his Econimica blog.

The Baby Boom population cohort is nearly 80 million people, and those born in 1946 are now 71, with millions following right behind. The top one percent own or control about one-third of that cohort’s assets, while the top 10 percent own more than two-thirds, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The real question, according to Hamilton, is this:

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Americans Eating Out Less Thanks to Higher Prices

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, February 24, 2017:

At Jamila's, a Tunesian restaurant on Maple St...

A Reuters/Ipsos survey released on Tuesday revealed that one-third of U.S. adults are eating out less frequently than they were just three months ago. Two-thirds of those staying home said it was because of higher restaurant prices. This news comes on top of reports that restaurant traffic was flat for all of 2016. In fact, the industry as a whole has gained just one percent in traffic since 2009.

Apologists for the industry offered all manner of explanations:

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Ford Cancels Plans for Mexico Plant, Shifts 700 jobs to United States

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, January 4, 2017:  

English: Ford Motor Company Headquarters, Dear...

Ford Motor Company Headquarters, Dearborn, Mi.

When Bill Ford, Ford Motor Company’s executive chairman, called President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday to inform him of his company’s decision to cancel its plans to build a new plant in Mexico and instead shift some of those new jobs to Michigan, liberal eyebrows were raised. Was this a “capitulation” to Trump? Was it a “sell-out?” Was it a “peace offering?”

CNN’s Poppy Harlow interviewed Ford’s president and chief operating officer Mark Fields following the company’s announcement, attacking him mercilessly with loaded questions. She peppered him with insinuations that

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Trump’s Treasury Secretary Nominee Wants to Sell Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac

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

English: The Colonial Revival headquarters of ...

The Colonial Revival headquarters of Fannie Mae

In an interview on FOX Business Network’s Mornings With Maria on Wednesday, Donald Trump’s nominee for treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, said one of Trump’s “top 10” priorities was to sell government-sponsored mortgage giants Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC). Referred to colloquially as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac respectively, Mnuchin told Maria:

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Saudi Arabia to Sell $10 Billion in Bonds to Shore Up Its Finances

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, October 19, 2016:  

Coat of Arms of Saudi Arabia

Coat of Arms of Saudi Arabia

Oil ministers from Saudi Arabia have been traveling the world doing investment “roadshows” to promote their $10-billion bond offering that hits the markets this week. In so doing, they must disclose the risks investors could be taking, and then price the bonds according to those risks.

The Saudis appear to be paying the price for losing their bet about American oil producers. In November 2014 they made a massive wager that they could

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Behind the Jobs Report: Weakness in Manufacturing, Transportation

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, October 7, 2016:  

The headline number from Friday’s jobs report was a tepid 156,000 new jobs created in September. Not only did this number fall short of economists’ expectations of 170,000, it was 19-percent below the average job growth of the last three months and 22 percent below the level of monthly job growth of 229,000 in 2015.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the agency reporting from inside the Labor Department, was none too sanguine itself in reporting the results:

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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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Puerto Rico to Default on $422M Payment Today; Likely Another $2B in July

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, May 2, 2016:  

Puerto Rico continued its “death spiral,” with its failure to make a $422 million interest payment on Monday on some of the island’s gigantic $73 billion debt. This comes on the heels of missed payments over the last year, and will be followed up by a $2 billion payment due on July 1, which it is also widely anticipated to miss. The payment is due from the island’s Government Development Bank (GDB), the main bond issuer and the island’s fiscal agent.

So far Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla (above) has, as noted previously in The New American, been able to keep the lights on and the water running by moving money around on the island’s balance sheet, paying only those with the highest and most enforceable claims and dealing as best he can with those holding lower credits. It was Padilla who said his island was in a “death spiral” as far back as last July, because his 3.5 million inhabitants, half of whom live in poverty, didn’t have the money.

But for decades Padilla and his predecessors acted as if they did have it,

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Is $40 Oil the New Normal?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, April 22, 2016:  

To the consternation of traders short the market, crude has jumped from $30 a barrel in late January to over $40 currently, with many indicators pointing to still higher prices. Was $30 the bottom? What will be the new ceiling?

Every bull market rises from the ashes of fear, disgust and despair. Traders and investors reasonably expected oil to bottom at well below $30, perhaps in the 20s, with some heavyweights, including Goldman Sachs, suggesting even lower prices. Some took short positions, certain that their calculus was correct: OPEC had maxxed out, American production seemed impervious to precipitous declines in rig counts, China’s economy was faltering and signs of recession were continuing to expose themselves around the globe, including the U.S. What could go wrong?

A little energy company, Callon Petroleum, showed exactly what could go wrong. Three times in the last six months the company has sold new shares to raise equity, and three times the company’s stock has risen. Logic and experience would suggest that dilution of shares would reduce their price. But with Callon, shares jumped from $4.21 in the middle of January to nearly $10 currently.

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Brazil’s Lower House Votes to Impeach President Rousseff; Little Likely to Change

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, April 19, 2016:  

Shouts of “Anybody but Dilma” resonated in Brazil’s lower house on Sunday as that body voted 367-137 to impeach President Dilma Rousseff.  After the dust settles, that is very likely what they are going to get: a change in name only. The corruption and anti-capitalist policies will remain.

Rousseff promised to fight impeachment every step of the way:

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Brazil’s Economy Entering Depression

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, March 28, 2016: 

English: Aerial view of Rio de Janeiro city ce...

English: Aerial view of Rio de Janeiro city center, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The latest numbers coming out of Brazil confirm what Goldman Sachs said last December: “What started as a recession … is now mutating into an outright economic depression, given the deep contraction of domestic demand.”

Translation: President Dilma Rousseff’s attempt to stimulate the slowing economy via massive insertions of new debt has in fact had the opposite result.

Consumers have cut back by more than eight percent across the board, while investment spending has declined more than 10 percent last year, with cumulative capital spending

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Another Keynesian Failure: Brazil

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, March 28, 2016:  

John Maynard Keynes Русский: Джон Мейнард Кейн...

John Maynard Keynes

Boiled down to its most crude elements, Keynesianism, according to Antony Mueller at the Mises Institute, is “the economic policy doctrine of growth by spending.” Since 2003, when the current political party in Brazil, first headed up by Lula and now by Dilma Rousseff, came to power, it installed it in spades. For a while it seemed to work: demand for Brazil’s raw materials: oil, iron ore, and agricultural products grew as China (also pursuing the “growth by spending” mantra) also grew.

But the boom, which at one point included Brazil as one of the BRIC (Russia, India, and China) nations that would soon overtake the developed world, went bust.

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Council on Foreign Relations Doesn’t Understand Voters’ Anger

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, March 25, 2016:  

In his article published by the Project Syndicate on Thursday, Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) revealed that he doesn’t understand voters’ anger manifesting itself in the unexpected success of candidates viewed as establishment outsiders such as Senator Ted Cruz and businessman Donald Trump.

He noted voters’ “considerable anxiety” and even their “outright anger” but cannot understand why they feel that way. After all, he said,

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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.