Not Immune

Cold winds of deflation gust across the autumn economic landscape.  Global trade languishes and commodities rust away like abandoned scrap metal with a visible dusting of frost.  The economic optimism that embellished markets heading into 2015 have cooled as the year moves through its final stretch.

 

winterPhoto credit: David Byrne

 

If you recall, the popular storyline since late last year has been that the U.S. economy is moderately improving while the world’s other major economies – Japan, China, and Europe – are rolling over.  The U.S. economy would power through.  Moreover, stock prices had achieved a permanently high plateau.

 

Global tradeGrowth in global trade has been slowing down for some time. This chart is slightly dated, but in US dollar terms, global export growth has recently turned deeply negative – click to enlarge.

 

But somewhere between collapsing oil prices, dollar strength, and consumer lethargy the economy’s narrative has drifted off plot.  The theme has transitioned from one of renewed growth and recovery to one of recurring sickness and stagnation.  Mass malinvestments in U.S. shale oil, Brazilian mines, and Chinese factories and real estate must be reckoned with.

Price adjustments, bankruptcies, and debt restructuring must be painfully worked through like a strawberry picker hunkered over a seemingly endless furrow row of over ripening fruits.  Sore backs, burnt necks, and tender fingers are what the over-all economy has in front of it.  The U.S. economy is not immune to the global disorder after all.

More evidence is revealed each week that the unexpected is happening.  Instead of economic strength and robust growth, economic fundamentals are breaking down.  Manufacturing is slowing.  Consumer spending is soft.  For additional edification, let’s turn to Dr. Copper…

 

The Void of Worldwide Non-Activity

Dr. Copper – the metal with a PhD in economics – is always the first to know which way the economy will go.  Copper’s broad use in industry and many different sectors of the economy, ranging from infrastructure to housing and consumer electronics, makes it a good early indicator of economic activity.

 

CopperCopper, monthly over the past ten years. From $4,60/ lb. To $2.08/ lb. since the peak in 2011 – click to enlarge.

 

When copper prices rise, economic activity soon increases.  When copper prices fall the economy often then stagnates.  Thus, here’s the latest from Dr. Copper and his industrial metals cohorts…

As Bloomberg reported earlier this week:

 

“Copper plunged to the lowest intraday price since May 2009 on concern Chinese demand is slowing and as the dollar traded near its strongest level in more than a decade. Lead touched the lowest since 2010, while all industrial metals retreated.

The metal used in power cables and wiring lost as much as 2.1 percent to $4,590 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange before trading at $4,654 by 4:51 p.m. in Singapore, while futures slumped as much as 4.3 percent in Shanghai.

Codelco, the largest producer, has cut the premium it will charge buyers in China next year by the most since the global financial crisis, while Arc Resources Co. predicts a 10 percent drop in refined imports by the biggest consumer in 2016.”

 

No doubt, marking price levels last seen during the depths of the Great Recession would not be happening if the economy was strengthening.  If demand was robust industrial metals prices would be going up.  Instead, they continue their slide into the void of worldwide non-activity.  Stocks may soon follow…

 

The Long, Cold Winter Ahead

The last time copper prices were this low, in May 2009, stocks were also much lower.  Yet, today, they’re at extremely lofty prices.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average is currently over 17,500.  Back then, the Dow was less than half that…it ranged in the low 8,000s.

In other words, stocks are still up while the economy is slowing down.  Perhaps the economy is taking a brief pause before roaring back to life.  Most likely it’s hunkering down for the long, cold winter ahead.

Financialization, namely massive amounts of leverage, has made the disconnect between the stock market and the economy extend wider and longer than ever before.  Maybe another speculative melt up is ahead.  Who knows?  Maybe DOW 20,000 or 30,000 is in the cards.

With enough monetary deception anything’s possible.  But, nonetheless, gravity still exists.  Stocks cannot go up for ever. After a six year bull market, accompanied by a lackluster recovery, stocks could return to prior levels that were in line with present commodity prices.  Remember, just a few years ago, Dow 8,000 matched up with current copper prices.  Soon it likely will again.

 

Charts by: CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Analysis, stockcharts

 

Image captions by PT

 

M N. Gordon is the editor and publisher of the Economic Prism.

 

 
 

 
 

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: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke

   
 

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • 21st Century Shoe-Shine Boys
      Anecdotal Flags are Waved   "If a shoeshine boy can predict where this market is going to go, then it's no place for a man with a lot of money to lose." - Joseph Kennedy   It is actually a true story as far as we know – Joseph Kennedy, by all accounts an extremely shrewd businessman and investor (despite the fact that he had graduated in economics*), really did get his shoes shined on Wall Street one fine morning, and the shoe-shine boy, one Pat Bologna, asked him if...
  • India: The Genie of Lawlessness is out of the Bottle
      Recapitulation (Part XVI, the Last) Since the announcement of demonetization of Indian currency on 8th November 2016, I have written a large number of articles. The issue is not so much that the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is a tyrant and extremely simplistic in his thinking (which he is), or that demonetization and the new sales tax system were horribly ill-conceived (which they were). Time erases all tyrants from the map, and eventually from people’s...
  • Christopher Columbus and the Falsification of History
      Crazed Decision The Los Angeles City Council’s recent, crazed decision* to replace Christopher Columbus Day with one celebrating “indigenous peoples” can be traced to the falsification of history and denigration of European man which began in earnest in the 1960s throughout the educational establishment (from grade school through the universities), book publishing, and the print and electronic media.   Christopher Columbus at the Court of the Catholic Monarchs (a...
  • The Government Debt Paradox: Pick Your Poison
      Lasting Debt “Rule one: Never allow a crisis to go to waste,” said President Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in November of 2008.  “They are opportunities to do big things.”   Rahm Emanuel looks happy. He should be – he is the mayor of Chicago, which is best described as crisis incarnate. Or maybe the proper term is perma-crisis? Anyway, it undoubtedly looks like a giant opportunity from his perspective, a gift that keeps on giving, so to speak. [PT] Photo...
  • The Forking Paradise - Precious Metals Supply and Demand Report
      Forking Incentives A month ago, we wrote about the bitcoin fork. We described the fork:   Picture a bank, the old-fashioned kind. Call it Acme (sorry, we watched too much Coyote and Road Runner growing up). A group of disgruntled employees leave. They take a copy of the book of accounts. They set up a new bank across the street, Wile E Bank. To win customers, they say if you had an account at Acme Bank, you now have an account at Wile, with the same balance!   BCH, son...
  • The United States of Hubris
      Improving the World, One Death at a Time If anyone should have any questions about whether the United States of America is not the most aggressive, warlike, and terrorist nation on the face of the earth, its latest proposed action against the supposed rogue state of North Korea should allay any such doubts.   Throughout history, the problem with empires has always been the same: no matter how stable and invincible they appeared, eventually they ran into “imperial...
  • Long Term Statistics on AAPL
      Introductory Remarks by PT Below we present a recent article by the Mole discussing a number of technical statistics on the behavior of AAPL over time. Since the company has the largest market cap in the US stock market (~ USD 850 billion – a valuation that exceeds that of entire industries), it is the biggest component of capitalization-weighted big cap indexes and the ETFs based on them. It is also a component of the price-weighted DJIA. It is fair to say that the performance of...
  • Tragedy of the Speculations
      The Instability Problem Bitcoin is often promoted as the antidote to the madness of fiat irredeemable currencies. It is also promoted as their replacement. Bitcoin is promoted not only as money, but the future money, and our monetary future. In fact, it is not.   A tragedy... get the hankies out! :) [PT]   Why not? To answer, let us start with a look at the incentives offered by bitcoin. We saw a comment this week, which is apropos:   "Crypto is so...
  • To Hell In A Bucket
      No-one Cares... “No one really cares about the U.S. federal debt,” remarked a colleague and Economic Prism reader earlier in the week.  “You keep writing about it as if anyone gives a lick.” We could tell he was just warming up.  So, we settled back into our chair and made ourselves comfortable.   The federal debtberg, which no-one cares about (yet). We have added the most recent bar manually, as the charts published by the Fed will only be updated at the end of the...
  • Despite 24/7 Trading: Bitcoin Investors are Taking off for the Weekend on Friday Already
      Crypto-Statistics In the last issue of Seasonal Insights I have discussed how the S&P 500 Index performs on individual days of the week. In this issue I will show an analysis of the average cumulative annual returns of bitcoin on individual days of the week.   Bitcoin, daily. While this is beside the point, we note the crypto-currency (and other “alt coins” as well) has minor performance issues lately. The white line indicates important lateral support, but this looks to...
  • Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      Fundamental Developments There were big moves in the metals markets this week. The price of gold was up an additional $21 and that of silver $0.30. Will the dollar fall further?As always, we are interested in the fundamentals of supply and demand as measured by the basis. But first, here are the charts of the prices of gold and silver, and the gold-silver ratio.   Gold and silver prices in USD terms (as of last week Friday) - click to enlarge.   Next, this is a...
  • Janet Yellen's 78-Month Plan for the National Monetary Policy of the United States
      Past the Point of No Return Adventures in depravity are nearly always confronted with the unpleasant reality that stopping the degeneracy is much more difficult than starting it.  This realization, and the unsettling feeling that comes with it, usually surfaces just after passing the point of no return.  That's when the cucumber has pickled over and the prospect of turning back is no longer an option.   Depravity and bedlam through the ages. The blue barge of perdition in the...

Support Acting Man

j9TJzzN

Austrian Theory and Investment

Archive

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]

 

 
Buy Silver Now!
 
Buy Gold Now!
 

Oilprice.com