Category Archives: The Economy

Inflation?

The increase in average hourly earnings (AHE) was taken as a sign of economic strength. Well, no. AHE is aggregate earnings divided by aggregate hours worked. So if hours worked is declining faster than earnings, AHE goes up. But is a sign of weakness. From ECRI.

In another case of up means down, the NOPE index is signalling trouble.

Economy On Fire?

CNBC says the economy is “on fire” after today’s establishment survey report of an increase of 201,000 jobs.

From the household survey in the same report, the number of people employed fell by 423,000. The labor force shrank by 469,000.

Pretty weird fire, if you ask me. Mostly just reflects the fact the these are random numbers and guesses.

Savings And Confidence – Hmmm

Thanks to Zero Hedge

Credit Impulse

The credit impulse isn’t the sudden urge to borrow – it is the additional income and concomitant spending that results from an increase in aggregate debt. Spending capacity = net income + credit impulse. Credit impulse (annual) = current debt amount – year ago debt amount. Not complicated.

The credit impulse is how easy money creates economic expansion as economic entities – households, corporations, governments, etc. are able to spend more than they earn.

The downside is that, sooner or later, the entities reach the limit of their ability to borrow. The credit impulse disappears and the economy shrivels. Incomes diminish and defaults begin as entities can no longer service their debt. Credit becomes very difficult to obtain, lenders fail as capital losses mount and the economy accelerates downhill as the credit impulse goes negative as borrowers are unable to roll over their debt.

Let’er Rip, Potato Chip

Larry Kudlow, newly minted economic advisor, was on CNBC last night, advising that the Fed should “Let the economy rip.”

Larry, if you want to see what happens when a country monetizes its deficits, look south.

ECRI

ECRI says the global growth spurt is over.

The current situation is reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner cartoons. Intent of chasing his nemesis, the coyote almost always misses a sharp turn in the road, running right over a cliff edge. He realizes too late that he’s in midair, and plunges into the chasm below. That’s the crux of the problem for international economies and markets in danger of being blindsided by the cyclical downturn in global growth.

Credit Impulse

US household debt ended the year at $13.15 billion, a y-o-y increase of $402 billion and a record. This means that about 2% of GDP came from the increase in household debt alone. It is likely that when corporate and government debt increases are taken into account that the economy is operating at a substantial loss.

Hunger Games

I believed, and still believe, that Trump was the only choice. But, I have to say, the man is an economic idiot.

There are no winners in trade wars. Everybody loses. Look up “comparative advantage,” one of the few ideas from economics which is both counter-intuitive and actually useful.

Then there is the bubble in which he seems to take pride. And p*ss*ing away money on the military. Oh well.

Fed Minutes

Another day, more blather from the Fed. Risk is “on” with a vengeance as the Fed continues to demonstrate its unwillingness to “take away the punch bowl” as Fed Chairman Martin put it.  Apparently there is no such thing, in their minds, as too much stimulus. We’ll see about that. In my view, a financial catastrophe is almost inevitable at this point. Overpriced stocks and the fear of inflation have always been a toxic mixture. Add in the overhang of aggregate debt somewhere in the neighborhood of 350-400% of GDP and you have a recipe for a protracted decline to well below fair value, unlike 1987’s brief shock.

 

Inflation Is About To Disappear

The main factor is U.S. oil production,” the IEA said. “In just three months to November, crude output increased by a colossal 846 kb/d, and will soon overtake that of Saudi Arabia. By the end of this year, it might also overtake Russia to become the global leader.