On Economy

     

 

 

What Determines a Currency’s Value?

At the end of March the price of the euro in terms of US dollars closed at 1.1378. This was an increase of 4.7 percent from February when it increased by 0.3 percent. The yearly growth rate of the price of the euro in US dollar terms jumped to 6 percent in March from minus 2.9 percent in February.

 

1-EURUSDEUR-USD, 2007 – today, monthly – click to enlarge.

 

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The Wild 1990s

Not so long ago, during 1990’s, the connecting world of the connected world we now know was literally and comprehensively in the development stage during those wild crazy go go years before the crash in technology stocks in 2000.

 

Nasdaq BubbleThe infamous tech bubble of the 1990s – to this day the greatest stock market bubble ever seen in the US (in terms of multiple expansion, intensity, public participation, speed and extent of the blow-off phase) – click to enlarge.

 

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The Cracks in the Economy’s Foundation Become Bigger

Last week the Bureau of Economic Analysis has updated its gross output data for US industries until the end of Q4 2015. Unfortunately these data are only available with a considerable lag, but they used to be published only once every few years in the past, so the current situation represents a significant improvement.

 

decay-3Decay…

Photo credit: bargewanderlust

 

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The Largest Online Marketplace in the World

This company is twice the size of Enron at its peak ($100 billion). Pharmaceutical giant Valeant, which blew up in the last year, was only $90 billion at its peak. Before I get to what the stock is, let me tell you where it is: China.

I recently heard an excellent presentation by Anne Stevenson-Yang at Grant’s Spring Investment conference. Stevenson-Yang is the cofounder of J Capital Research, based in Hong Kong. J Cap provides independent research on China’s stocks and its economy.

 

Jack MaCEO Jack Ma, wagging a finger (bad sign)

Photo credit: Kiyoshi Ota / Bloomberg

 

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Intel Employees Get RIF’d

Dark storm clouds gather along the economic horizon.  They multiply ominously with each passing day.  The recovery, weak as it has been, has run for nearly seven years.  Now it appears to be sputtering and stalling out.

 

1-INTCIntel (INTC), monthly. The stock has performed fairly well since 2009 (most stocks have), but has yet to regain its bubble peak made 16 years ago. Its recent earnings report (“beating expectations”, natch) reminded us strongly of the accounting games played by IBM over the past few years, which were mainly designed to mask the ever more worrisome decline in its business. In Intel’s case the casino punters are still buying it (they’ll believe almost anything after all), at IBM it has stopped working – click to enlarge.

 

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Lost From the Get-Go

There must be some dark corner of Hell warming up for modern, mainstream economists. They helped bring on the worst bubble ever… with their theories of efficient markets and modern portfolio management. They failed to see it for what it was. Then, when trouble came, they made it worse. But instead of atoning in a dank cell, these same economists strut onto the stage to congratulate themselves.

 

KeynesThe scalawag himself. Keynes provided governments with the “scientific” fig leaf fore interventionism that economists had previously denied them. The cost in terms of economic and technological progress is incalculable.

Photo via MIT Press

 

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 “Prepping” for Recession

GUALFIN, Argentina – Stocks are going up all over the world. Meanwhile, it appears to us that the U.S. economy is going down. Go figure.

For instance, a labor-market index created by Fed economists… and closely watched by Fed chief Janet Yellen… has fallen for three straight months. It’s the first time that’s happened since 2009.

 

1-labor market conditionsIn spite of relatively strong payrolls data, the Fed’s labor market conditions index doesn’t look so hot – click to enlarge.

 

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The Oppressed U.S. Taxpayer

This year, Americans’ day of tribute to their federal overlords falls on April 18.  As calculated by the Tax Foundation, the average American will work from January 1 to April 24 (Tax Freedom Day) to pay his share of taxes to all levels of government with some $3.3 trillion to be forked over to the federal government and $1.6 trillion to state and local jurisdictions. [1]

 

us-taxpayerWhile any talk of tax cuts are verboten on the Democratic side of the presidential campaign, the remaining Republican contenders have offered their views on the matter suggesting a flat tax, reduction in corporate tax rates, and a call for the consolidation of the current tax bracket from seven to four. [2]

Image via forbes.com

 

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Business under Pressure

A recent post by Mish points to the fact that many of the business-related data that have been released in recent months continue to point to growing weakness in many parts of the business sector. We show a few charts illustrating the situation below:

 

1-Total Business SalesA long term chart of total business sales. The recent decline seems congruent with a recession, but many other indicators are not yet confirming a recession – click to enlarge.

 

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Wicked Don Giovanni

GUALFIN, Argentina – Tuesday evening, we went to the main opera house in Buenos Aires, the Teatro Colón, to see Mozart’s Don Giovanni. On our way over, our taxi driver told us that Luciano Pavarotti rated it as the second best opera house in the world (after La Scala in Milan).

 

Teatro Colon as seen from Avenida 9 de julio, night view Image

The Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. Sorry, chaps, only second best. Still, that makes it the best this side of the great pond.

Photo credit: Arnaldo Colombaroli

 

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Consumer Ambivalence

What’s up with U.S. consumers?  They seem to have come to their senses at the worst possible time.  They can no longer be counted on to push economic growth up and to the right.  Specifically, they’re not spending money on stuff.

 

Red Boxing GlovesA little public service on etymology: “Double whammy” was reportedly first used in a 1941 Oakland Tribune article related to boxing. It means a devastating blow, setback or catastrophe. In today’s economy, it often means “good summary”.

Photo credit: Pixelrobot

 

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Positivist Delusions

[ed. note: this article was originally published on March 5 2013 – Bill Bonner was on his way to his ranch in Argentina, so here is a classic from the archives]

We’re still thinking about how so many smart people came to believe things that aren’t true. Krugman, Stiglitz, Friedman, Summers, Bernanke, Yellen – all seem to have a simpleton’s view of how the world works.

 

 

SimpletonsA bunch of famous people with a simpleton view of how the world works…who not only seriously think the economy can and should be “planned”, but arrogantly believe they are the ones who should do it. It’s a bit like the crazy guy who doesn’t know he’s crazy.

 

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