Kingpin-Free Colombia

This is the first time we’ve been in Colombia. Greener, more mountainous, richer, newer, and more flowery – it is many things we didn’t expect.

We’ve seen a lot of press on Medellín. It is supposed to be lively. It is “springtime all year round.” It is beautiful. And it is a lot safer now than when drug kingpin Pablo Escobar called it home.

We haven’t been here long enough to know if those things are true. All we know so far is that it is so modern, so big, and so wealthy that we are a bit disappointed.

We’d expected a bit more charm and authentic poverty. Maybe they are on the other side of town… we don’t know. We’ll let you know if we find out anything more…

 

pablo-escobarA mugshot of former Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar Gaviria – at the time he still seemed fairly confident. It is no exaggeration to say that he once owned Medellín lock, stock and barrel – but a great many things have changed in Colombia since his heyday. Notorious kingpin Pablo is no longer among the quick, but at the height of his power he was without a doubt the richest criminal ever, worth an estimated $30 billion. There is broad agreement that Medellín is a nicer place without him.

 

Addicted to Debt

On Monday, U.S. stocks continued their climb, with a 26-point step-up to yet another all-time high for the Dow. Treasuries, meanwhile, continued to sell off. The yield on the 10-year T-note – which moves in the opposite direction to prices – rose 8 basis points to 2.2%.

This follows last week’s turbulent action in the bond market, which saw Treasury yields hit a six-month high. We have our eye on the U.S. bond market. Prices have been going up – and yields have been going down – for 32 years.

And as prices have risen to the highest levels ever recorded, so has the amount of debt. It is as though the world couldn’t get enough of the stuff. It got to be like heroin: The more debt the world took on, the more it wanted… and the bigger the dose it needed to get a buzz on.

 

Consumer creditOne shudders to think what would happen if there were ever some real deleveraging. The fact that this tiny blip of a credit contraction after 2008 almost buried the entire financial system is testament to how fragile and rickety the system actually is – click to enlarge.

 

But after the 2008 credit crisis, it is as though the major developed economies are immune to the stuff. The Fed, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, and now the European Central Bank, have been buying it on the street corners. In the largest quantities ever.

But nothing much happens. At least, not in the real economy. Sooner or later (a phrase we can’t seem to avoid), the entire economy is bound to get the shakes. But we don’t know when sooner, or later, will come. If it comes now, it will be a source of great satisfaction here at the Diary. “Finally,” we will say to no one in particular. “We knew it couldn’t last!”

 

A Healthy End to the Bond Bull?

There is an alternative explanation for falling bond prices. Bond prices should fall, and yields should rise, when economic growth picks up. As economic growth rates speed up, wages tend to rise… and people open up their wallets.

Demand starts to outstrip the supply of goods and services. This drives up consumer prices. And interest rates start to rise. As rates go up, that raises bond yields and drives down bond prices.

This would be a healthy end to the epic bull market in bonds. A robust economy would allow central banks to raise rates and still allow debts to be paid down. But that is not what is happening. And it won’t happen. Junkies rarely go out and get a job… and gradually “taper off” their habit.

No. They have to crash… hit bottom… and sink into such misery that they have no choice but to go cold turkey. Now, major central banks are committed to QE and ZIRP forever. They have created an economy that is addicted to EZ money. It will have to be smashed to smithereens before the feds change their policies.

 

TNX10 year US treasury note yield. Following a steep decline from the beginning of 2014 to early 2015, yields have begun to perk up rather noticeably. However, the long term downtrend line from 1980 still remains intact at this juncture – click to enlarge.

 

An Impotent Fed

As colleague Chris Hunter reported yesterday to paid-up Bonner & Partners subscribers in The B&P Briefing:

 

“In April, industrial production fell for the fifth straight month. And in May, consumer sentiment fell to a seven-month low.

And now GDP growth is flat-lining … Following the 0.1% annualized growth rate in the first quarter, the Atlanta Fed’s “real-time” GDPNow forecasting model is predicting 0.7% growth for the second quarter.

The U.S. economy may not be in an official recession – often measured by two back-to-back quarters of negative GDP growth – but it’s not far off…”

 

united-states-industrial-productionPetering out – growth in US industrial production – click to enlarge.

 

Oh, but what about the big boost the economy was supposed to get from lower oil prices? What happened to that? Didn’t happen. Americans didn’t spend their gasoline savings; they saved them instead.

After adjusting for inflation, the median household income is down 10% since 2000. So it’s no wonder most Americans aren’t feeling very expansive. And now, the price of oil is going back up. After hitting a low of $44 in March, today a barrel of U.S. crude oil sells for just under $59.

That leaves the Fed’s “stimulus” just as impotent as it has been for the last six years. Interest rates remain ultra low. But the real economy remains as flat and dull as a joint session of Congress. And the markets shudder …

 

Image captions by PT

 

Charts by: St. Louis Federal Reserve Research, StockCharts, TradingEconomics

 

The above article originally appeared at the Diary of a Rogue Economist, written for Bonner & Partners. Bill Bonner founded Agora, Inc in 1978. It has since grown into one of the largest independent newsletter publishing companies in the world. He has also written three New York Times bestselling books, Financial Reckoning Day, Empire of Debt and Mobs, Messiahs and Markets.

 

 

 

Emigrate While You Can... Learn More

 


 

 
 

Dear Readers!

You may have noticed that our so-called “semiannual” funding drive, which started sometime in the summer if memory serves, has seamlessly segued into the winter. In fact, the year is almost over! We assure you this is not merely evidence of our chutzpa; rather, it is indicative of the fact that ad income still needs to be supplemented in order to support upkeep of the site. Naturally, the traditional benefits that can be spontaneously triggered by donations to this site remain operative regardless of the season - ranging from a boost to general well-being/happiness (inter alia featuring improved sleep & appetite), children including you in their songs, up to the likely allotment of privileges in the afterlife, etc., etc., but the Christmas season is probably an especially propitious time to cross our palms with silver. A special thank you to all readers who have already chipped in, your generosity is greatly appreciated. Regardless of that, we are honored by everybody's readership and hope we have managed to add a little value to your life.

   

Bitcoin address: 12vB2LeWQNjWh59tyfWw23ySqJ9kTfJifA

   
 

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • Venezuela – An Economic Catastrophe in Charts
      The Final Stage of a Crack-Up Boom For economists the dire downward spiral of Venezuela's economy holds the same fascination black holes hold for physicists. Both illustrate what happens amid the most extreme conditions imaginable. It is thought that this may potentially provide clues of a more general nature. The remnants of massive imploded stars are inanimate and many light years distant; regardless of how violent conditions in their vicinity are, they cannot touch us. Unfortunately,...
  • The Degrading Facts of a Fake Money Hole in the Head
      Squishy Fact Finding Mission Today we begin with the facts.  But not just the facts; the facts of the facts.  We want to better understand just what it is that is provoking today’s ludicrous world. To clarify, we are not after the cold hard facts; those with no opinions, like the commutative property of addition. Rather, we are after the warm squishy facts; the type of facts that depend on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.   Fact-related pleas... [PT]   The facts,...
  • Thirteen Reckonings Hanging in the Balance
      A Fake Money World The NASDAQ slipped below 8,000 this week. But you can table your reservations.  The record bull market in U.S. stocks is still on. With a little imagination, and the assistance of crude chart projections, DOW 40,000 could be eclipsed by the end of the decade.  Remember, anything and everything’s possible with enough fake money.   Driven by a handful of big cap tech companies, the Nasdaq Composite has made new highs – but the broad market (here shown in...
  • Jayant Bhandari - The US Dollar vs. Other Currencies and Gold
      Maurice Jackson Speaks with Jayant Bhandari About Emerging Market Currencies, the Trade War, US Foreign Policy and More Maurice Jackson of Proven & Probable has recently conducted a new interview with our friend and occasional contributor to this site, Jayant Bhandari, who is inter alia the host of the annual Capitalism and Morality seminar.   Maurice Jackson (left) and Jayant Bhandari (right)   A wide range of topics is discussed, from the strong US dollar and...
  • Gold-Silver Ratio Message - Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      Fundamental Developments Last week the price of gold fell three bucks, and that of silver fell a quarter of a buck. But let us take a look at the supply and demand fundamentals of both metals. Also, we have an interesting development in the gold-silver ratio, a topic we have not addressed in a while. First, here is the chart of the prices of gold and silver.   Gold and silver priced in USD   Next, this is a graph of the gold price measured in silver, otherwise...
  • September – The Most Dangerous Month to Invest
      The Biggest Crashes in History Happened in September and October In the last installment of Seasonal Insights we wrote about the media sector – an industry that typically tends to perform very poorly in the month of August. Upon receiving positive feedback, we decided to build on this topic. This week we are are discussing several international markets that tend to be weak during September and will look at what drives this recurring pattern.   Mark Twain, a renowned...
  • US Equities – Approaching an Inflection Point
      A Lengthy Non-Confirmation As we have frequently pointed out in recent months, since beginning to rise from the lows of the sharp but brief downturn after the late January blow-off high, the US stock market is bereft of uniformity. Instead, an uncommonly lengthy non-confirmation between the the strongest indexes and the broad market has been established. The chart below illustrates the situation – it compares the performance of the DJIA (still no new high since January, although...
  • Honest Work for Dishonest Pay
      Misadventures and Mishaps Over the past decade, in the wake of the 2008-09 debt crisis, the impossible has happened.  The sickness of too much debt has been seemingly cured with massive dosages of even more debt.  This, no doubt, is evidence that there are wonders and miracles above and beyond 24-hour home deliveries of Taco Bell via Door Dash.   The global debtberg: at the end of 2017, it had grown to USD 237 trillion. Obviously this is by now a slightly dated figure, as debt...
  • Gold-Silver Ratio Hits 10-Year High - Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      Fundamental Developments The price of gold dropped five bucks, and that of silver 40 cents last week. But let’s take a look at the supply and demand fundamentals of both metals. Also, we continue to follow the development in the gold-silver ratio.   One can buy a lot of silver for one's gold these days. Silver has become extraordinarily cheap, but keep in mind that it was even cheaper vs. gold in the early 1990s (see the section on silver further below for the details)....
  • Corporate Credit – A Chasm Between Risk Perceptions and Actual Risk
      Shifts in Credit-Land: Repatriation Hurts Small Corporate Borrowers A recent Bloomberg article informs us that US companies with large cash hoards (such as AAPL and ORCL) were sizable players in corporate debt markets, supplying plenty of funds to borrowers in need of US dollars. Ever since US tax cuts have prompted repatriation flows, a “$300 billion-per-year hole” has been left in the market, as Bloomberg puts it. The chart below depicts the situation as of the end of August (not...
  • Dubious Prophecies & Perverse Incentives - Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      Suspect Predictions, Ill Wishes and Worthwhile Targets of Scorn This price of gold fell three bucks, and the price of silver fell ten cents last week. Perhaps because of the ongoing $150 price drop so far since April, we saw some doozy email subjects and article headlines this week.   Panic on the inflation Titanic. [PT]   One notable one, from the man who confidently asserted we will have hyperinflation by the end of the year — in 2009 — now says that the...
  • Gold and Gold Stocks – Small Rays of Light in the Vale of Tears
      A Rebound Gets Underway – Will It Have Legs? Ever since the gold indexes have broken below the shelf of support that has held them aloft since late 2016 (around 165-170 points in the HUI Index), the sector was not much to write home about, to put it mildly. Precious metals stocks will continue to battle the headwinds of institutional tax loss selling until the end of October, to be followed by the not-quite-as-strong headwinds of individual tax loss selling in the final weeks of the...

Support Acting Man

Item Guides

Austrian Theory and Investment

j9TJzzN

The Review Insider

Archive

Dog Blow

350x200

THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

Realtime Charts

 

Gold in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Gold in EUR:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Silver in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Platinum in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

USD - Index:

[Most Recent USD from www.kitco.com]

 

Mish Talk

 
Buy Silver Now!
 
Buy Gold Now!
 

Oilprice.com