Getbig Bodybuilding, Figure and Fitness Forums
October 01, 2014, 11:34:27 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
 
   Home   Help Login Register  
Pages: 1 [2]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Inflation: "The Hidden Tax Hike" and what it means for you.  (Read 1419 times)
Soul Crusher
Competitors
Getbig V
*****
Posts: 8829


Doesnt lie about lifting.


« Reply #25 on: March 16, 2011, 06:16:19 AM »

Wholesale prices rise 1.6 pct. Biggest jump in food costs in 36 years (Dollar devaluation)
WashingtonPost ^


Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011




WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices jumped last month by the most in nearly two years due to higher energy costs and the steepest rise in food prices in 36 years. Excluding those volatile categories, inflation was tame.

The Labor Department says the Producer Price Index rose a seasonally adjusted 1.6 percent in February, double the 0.8 percent rise in the previous month. Outside of food and energy costs, the core index ticked up 0.2 percent, less than January’s 0.5 percent rise.

Food prices soared 3.9 percent last month, the biggest gain since November 1974. Most of that increase was due to a sharp rise in vegetable costs, which increased nearly 50 percent. That was the most in almost a year. Meat and dairy products also rose.


(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...


________________________ ________________________ _____________-


Obama = Carter
Report to moderator   Logged
225for70
Getbig IV
****
Gender: Male
Posts: 3135


Suckmymuscle is OneMoreRep's little bitch


« Reply #26 on: March 16, 2011, 06:45:18 AM »

Wholesale prices rise 1.6 pct. Biggest jump in food costs in 36 years (Dollar devaluation)
WashingtonPost ^


Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011




WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices jumped last month by the most in nearly two years due to higher energy costs and the steepest rise in food prices in 36 years. Excluding those volatile categories, inflation was tame.

The Labor Department says the Producer Price Index rose a seasonally adjusted 1.6 percent in February, double the 0.8 percent rise in the previous month. Outside of food and energy costs, the core index ticked up 0.2 percent, less than January’s 0.5 percent rise.

Food prices soared 3.9 percent last month, the biggest gain since November 1974. Most of that increase was due to a sharp rise in vegetable costs, which increased nearly 50 percent. That was the most in almost a year. Meat and dairy products also rose.


(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...


________________________ ________________________ _____________-


Obama = 3X worse than Carter

Fixed
Report to moderator   Logged
Soul Crusher
Competitors
Getbig V
*****
Posts: 8829


Doesnt lie about lifting.


« Reply #27 on: March 17, 2011, 06:36:47 PM »

US Cost of Living Hits Record, Passing Pre-Crisis High
Published: Thursday, 17 Mar 2011 | 4:09 PM ET Text Size By: John Melloy
Executive Producer, Fast Money




One would think that after the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, Americans could at least catch a break for a while with deflationary forces keeping the cost of living relatively low. That’s not the case.

 
A special index created by the Labor Department to measure the actual cost of living for Americans hit a record high in February, according to data released Thursday, surpassing the old high in July 2008. The Chained Consumer Price Index, released along with the more widely-watched CPI, increased 0.5 percent to 127.4, from 126.8 in January. In July 2008, just as the housing crisis was tightening its grip, the Chained Consumer Price Index hit its previous record of 126.9.

“The Federal Reserve continues to focus on the rate of change in inflation,” said Peter Bookvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak. “Sure, it’s moving at a slower pace, but the absolute cost of living is now back at a record high in a country that has seven million less jobs.”

The regular CPI, which has already been at a record for a while, increased 0.5 percent, the fastest pace in 1-1/2 years. However, the Fed’s preferred measure, CPI excluding food and energy, increased by just 0.2 percent.

“This speaks to the need for the Fed to include food and energy when they look at inflation rather than regard them as transient costs,” said Stephen Weiss of Short Hills Capital. “Perhaps the best way to look at this is to calculate a moving average over a certain period of time in order to smooth out the peaks and valleys.”

 


The so-called core CPI is used by the central bank because food and energy prices throughout history have proven to be volatile. However, one glance over the last two years at a chart of wheat or corn shows they’ve gone in one direction: up. And many traders say Fed Chairman Bernanke’s misplaced easy money policies are to blame.

Over time, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has made changes to the regular CPI that it feels make it a better measure of inflation and closer to a cost of living index. It improved the way it averages out prices for items in the same category (e.g., apples) and also uses the often-criticized method of hedonic regression (if you're curious, you can learn more about that here) to account for increases in product quality.

In 2002, the BLS created this often-overlooked cost of living index in order to account for the kinds of substitutions consumers make when times are tough. It is supposed to be even closer to an actual “cost of living” measure than the regular CPI.

“For example, pork and beef are two separate CPI item categories,” according to the BLS web site. “If the price of pork increases while the price of beef does not, consumers might shift away from pork to beef. The C-CPI-U (Chain Consumer Price Index) is designed to account for this type of consumer substitution between CPI item categories. In this example, the C-CPI-U would rise, but not by as much as an index that was based on fixed purchase patterns.”

“As the cost of living increases, we are headed toward a bigger problem with the slowing of housing permits,” said JJ Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist at thinkorswim, a division of TD Ameritrade. “As the staples start to cost more, this could lead to a quick slowdown in the auto and technology sectors as an iPad is an easy thing to pass on if you are paying more for your gas and food and need to cut back somewhere.”

To be sure, it’s nearly impossible to get a perfect “cost of living” measure, and the BLS acknowledges this on their web site: “An unconditional cost-of-living index would go further, and take into account changes in non-market factors, such as the environment, crime, and education.”

Still, states will be cutting back services drastically this year at the very same time they are raising taxes in order to close enormous budget deficits and avoid a muni-bond defaults crisis. So while it may be the missing link to a perfect cost of living measure, one can assume that Americans will be paying more for unquantifiable services such as police enforcement and education, but getting them at a lesser quality.

Bottom line: The cost of living for Americans is now above where it was when housing prices were in a bubble, stock prices at a record, unemployment low and consumer confidence was soaring. Something has gotta give.

 

For the best market insight, catch 'Fast Money' each night at 5pm ET, and the ‘Halftime Report’ each afternoon at 12:30 ET on CNBC.


________________________ ________________________ ______


John Melloy is the Executive Producer of Fast Money. Before joining CNBC, he was an editor for Bloomberg News, overseeing the U.S. Stock Market coverage team.



http://www.cnbc.com/id/42130406

Report to moderator   Logged
Soul Crusher
Competitors
Getbig V
*****
Posts: 8829


Doesnt lie about lifting.


« Reply #28 on: March 20, 2011, 06:29:07 PM »

Companies raise prices on food, shoes, diapers (Heinz, Nike & Kraft)
CNNMoney.com ^ | March 20, 2011 | Annalyn Censky




Look out! From Huggies diapers to Nike shoes, Americans are about to get less bang for their buck on some of the biggest brands.

This week, paper-products maker Kimberly-Clark announced plans to raise prices on diapers and toilet paper later this summer. Nike said it would increase prices on their shoes. And food companies Kraft, Smuckers and Heinz recently announced price hikes on some of their brands.

"The increases are necessary to offset inflationary pressure from higher raw material and energy costs," Kimberly-Clark (KMB, Fortune 500) said in a press release.

Huggies diapers and Pull-Ups prices will rise by 3% to 7%, the company said. Cottonelle and Scott 1000 toilet paper will rise about 7%.

Kraft Foods (KFT, Fortune 500) raised its price on Maxwell House coffee by 22%, or 70 cents per pound, after Smuckers (SJM) said last month it would raise the price of Folgers by 10%.

The increases come as major brands struggle to keep their profit margins intact, amid surging costs on raw materials. Producer prices rose 1.6% in February alone, the the biggest jump in nearly two years, according to government data released Wednesday.

Until recently, producers and retailers resisted price hikes, fearing they would lose customers during a still-sluggish economy and high unemployment.


(Excerpt) Read more at money.cnn.com ...


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Report to moderator   Logged
Soul Crusher
Competitors
Getbig V
*****
Posts: 8829


Doesnt lie about lifting.


« Reply #29 on: March 20, 2011, 06:45:35 PM »


STOP THE DENIAL: Inflation Is Accelerating, Consumers Are Getting Squeezed
John Mauldin, Thoughts From The Frontline | Mar. 20, 2011, 8:36 AM | 2,785 |  42



Actual gas prices in San Francisco last month.
.
What happens when the Fed is finished with QE2? I have been letting that filter into my thinking lately as I look at the economic landscape and the data we have seen the past few weeks.

Correlation is not causation, as I often say, but all we can do is look back at what happened last time and speculate about the future.

A very dangerous occupation, but your fearless analyst will plunge on ahead into the jungle of a very hazy future. You come with me at your own risk!

Quickly, a big Mauldin thanks to those who already bought my book, Endgame, as it made the New York Times bestseller list yesterday, earlier than I thought it would. That would be my 4th, and that and my kids are about my only small claims to fame. I have ruthlessly promoted the book to you, and so this week I resist my inner promotional demon and simply provide a link to
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1118004574/frontlinethou-20 where you can read the reviews and buy the book if you have not, or get it in your local stores. At the end of the letter, I note that I will be at a book launch party in London Monday evening, and would love to have you stop by. Details below. And now to this week’s letter.

The End of QE2?
The Fed committed to buying $600 billion of Treasuries between the beginning of QE2 in November and the end of June. June is 3 months away. What will happen when that buying goes away? The hope when QE2 kicked off was that it would be enough to get the economy rolling, so that further stimulus would not be deemed necessary. We’ll survey how that is working out, with a quick look at some recent data, and then we go back and see what happened the last time the Fed stopped quantitative easing.

First, the guy on the street is getting squeezed. Real US consumer spending slowed in January and looks like it did only marginally better in February. The Fed argues that inflation is mild, as they prefer to look at “core” inflation (inflation without considering food and energy). If you look at it that way, they are right. And in normal times, I can kind of see why we strip out energy and food, as they are very volatile price points and can move a lot from month to month.

But that argument gets a lot weaker when your main policy, that of significant quantitative easing, is perhaps CAUSING the rise in food and energy (as well as weakening the dollar)! If the Fed policy is at least contributing to the cause of total inflation, arguing that food and energy don’t count doesn’t hold water. Let’s look at the following chart from economy.com.



In particular, notice the rise in the last three months since the beginning of QE2. Inflation is running at over 5% on an annualized basis. Companies like Kimberly (diapers, etc.), Colgate, P&G, and others all announced 5-7% price increases this week. These are companies that provide staples we all buy. Those prices matter. Even Wal-Mart will have to pass those increases on. To say that food and energy don’t matter misses the point. These items have real economic impact.

As my friend David Rosenberg wrote this morning:

“In February, there was no inflation at all in average weekly wage-based earnings but there was 0.5% inflation in consumer prices, meaning that real work-related income was crushed 0.5% and has now deflated in each of the past four months and in five of the past six months, during which it has contracted at a 2.3% annual rate. Once the effects of fiscal stimuli wear off, this negative income trend will show through in a much more visible slowing in real consumer spending that we doubt the markets have fully discounted. So far, what has happened in equities has been treated as a financial event – just wait until the economic event follows suit. And it’s not only fiscal stimulus that is soon to subside. We still have that 86% correlation over the past two years between movements in the Fed balance sheet and the direction of the S&P 500 – this too will come home to roost before long, whether or not we end up seeing a resolution to the crises in Japan, Libya or Bahrain.”

He goes on to give us this chart:



How’s that QE2 thingy working for you, Mr./Ms. Average Worker? Prices up, income down? And remember, most workers got the equivalent of a 2% pay hike with the temporary boost in Social Security, which goes away at the end of the year (and without which the economy and consumer spending would be even worse!).

Maybe that’s why New York Fed Chief William Dudley got heckled this week. (Courtesy of the Agora 5 Minute Forecast:)

“Dudley – a 21-year vet of Goldman Sachs – stepped out of his bubble to explain Fed policy to real people in Queens.

“It might not have been the first time Dudley attempted to gain the trust of the hoi polloi, but we’re pretty sure it’ll be the last. The details here were reported widely. We divined the scene from a Reuters report.

“First Dudley swore up and down that inflation was no problem. ‘When was the last time, sir,’ came a reply from the audience, ‘that you went grocery shopping?’”

“Dudley boldly proceeded to explain the concept of ‘core CPI’ – the cost-of-living measure designed for people who don’t eat or consume energy. Heh, we know firsthand how well that goes over…

“Then in a brilliant stroke, he pointed to Apple’s shiny new iPad 2 to illustrate his point. ‘Today you can buy an iPad 2 that costs the same as an iPad 1 that is twice as powerful,’ he gamely explained. ‘You have to look at the prices of all things.’

“‘I can’t eat an iPad,’ someone yelled from the crowd.”

Ouch. (For the record, I do go to the grocery store and Wal-Mart and Home Depot, as well as other less frugal venues.)

And core inflation may soon be under pressure. There were two articles yesterday, one from Yahoo and the other on Bloomberg. Both related to rising pressure on rental costs. (My recent lease renewal increase was significantly above core CPI!) (From http://realestate.yahoo.com/promo/rents-could-rise-10-in-some-cities.html)

“Already, rental vacancy rates have dipped below the 10% mark, where they had been lodged for most of the past three years. ‘The demand for rental housing has already started to increase,’ said Peggy Alford, president of Rent.com… By 2012, she predicts the vacancy rate will hover at a mere 5%. And with fewer units on the market, prices will explode.”

Look at this graph showing their projections:



Here’s what to pay attention to. Notice that since 2002 (or thereabouts) rental costs have been flat, and down of late (inflation-adjusted). If Rent.com projections are anywhere close, we could see a rise in rents of 15% by the end of 2012.

Let’s remember that 23% of the CPI and 40% of core CPI is Owner Equivalent Rent. If they are right, that adds about 3% to total CPI and 6% to core CPI! Will the Fed be telling us to focus on core inflation in 12-18 months? And those prices will start to show up steadily.

“This is a sharp change from the recession, when many Americans couldn't afford to live on their own. More than 1.2 million young adults moved back in with their parents from 2005 to 2010, said Lesley Deutch of John Burns Real Estate Consulting. Many others doubled up together.

“As a result, landlords had to reduce prices and offer big incentives to snag renters. Now that the recession is easing, many of these young people are ready to find new digs, mostly as renters, not owners. Plus, the foreclosure crisis continues unabated, and the millions losing their homes are looking for new places to live.”

Producer Prices Up 35-40% in the Last Six Months
Then let’s look at business. The Producer Price Index was out this week, and it was way up – 1.6% for the month, or an annualized 20%+. Even if you look at the last year, it was up a real 5.8%. That is inflation in the pipeline. Look at this chart from economy.com. Notice the trend since QE2 was announced in August and implemented in November.



I won’t bore you with the details, but for those interested, go to www.bloomberg.com and search for “Japan supply issues” and further on “semiconductors.” It is clear that, at least for a while, prices of electronics and tools are going to rise as one company after another is shutting its production lines down in Japan. Auto manufacturing plants in the US will have to close soon, as critical parts from Japan are not going to be forthcoming. Flat screen TVs? The iPad 2 I keep trying to find? All sorts of companies are going to get their costs squeezed even further. Remember, the above PPI numbers are from before the Japanese earthquake and tsunami and nuclear disaster.

(I was in Tokyo less than two weeks ago. I can’t imagine the stress and anguish going on there. The scope of the disaster is just shattering. I encourage my readers to go to http://american.redcross.org and donate directly to their Japanese fund or the charity of your choice.

A few details from Japan, though, gleaned from here and there. Sony alone makes 10% of the world’s laptop batteries. Japan is responsible for 30% of global flash memory, 20% of semi-conductors, and 40% of electronic components.

The point is that the Fed has created real pressure in the price pipeline, primarily on basic commodities and energy. “Crude” goods, which is basically materials before there is any value added, are up 28% from a year ago and pushing an annualized 35-40% for the last six months. Those costs are filtering in to final finished products. And when you add in the supply-related problems from the recent disaster? It is not a pretty picture for profits.

Let’s go back and look at a graph from friend Vitaliy Katsenelson, from a few weeks ago. It points out that corporate profits are back close to all-time highs as a percentage of GDP.



As the brilliant Jeremy Grantham says, and I am paraphrasing, corporate profits are among the most mean-reverting of all statistics. And this makes sense unless capitalism is broke. High profits entice competitors to come in and take market share by selling for less.

If corporate profits went back (mean-reverted) to their longer-term average, P/E ratios would be close to 24 at today’s prices. Corporations have some room to absorb some price increases, but at the expense of the bottom line.

What Happens When We Come to the End of QE2?
We have only one instance where the Fed cut back on quantitative easing, and that was last year. It is a data set of one, but it is all we have. So, let’s look at what happened. As noted by several sources (but I am looking at Rosie’s list right now), the Fed let its balance sheet contract by some 12% from late April to late August. Quoting:

“Now over that interval ...

“The S&P 500 sagged from 1,217 to 1,064….

The S&P 600 small caps fell from 394 to 330….

The best performing equity sectors were telecom services, utilities, consumer staples, and health care. In other words — the defensives. The worst performers were financials, tech, energy, and consumer discretionary….

Baa spreads widened +56bps from 237bps to 296bps…

CRB futures dropped from 279 to 267….

Oil went from $84.30 a barrel to $75.20….

The VIX index jumped from 16.6 to 24.5….

The trade-weighted dollar index (major currencies) firmed to 76.5 from 75.5….

Gold was the commodity that bucked the trend as it acted as a refuge at a time of intensifying economic and financial uncertainty — to $1,235 an ounce from $1,140 and even with a more stable-to-strong U.S. dollar too….

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note plunged to 2.66% from 3.84%…”

What will happen this time around? Is the economy strong enough to grow on its own without stimulus, or strong enough that the Fed will be reluctant to continue with QE3?

My friends at Macroeconomic Advisors have reduced their first-quarter GDP projection to 2.5%. Morgan Stanley has dropped theirs from 4.5% less than six weeks ago to 2.9% today. That is a huge drop in a short time for a forecasting model. Forecasts at other economic shops are being slashed as well. States and local governments, as I have continuously noted, are cutting more than 1% of GDP from their budgets as I write. That translates into real-world pressure on the GDP (even if it’stemporary, which I believe it to be, we live in the present).

I am not ready to use the “R” word, but Muddle Through could show up with a true vengeance this summer, with higher inflation and slower growth. I lived through the ’70s, and frankly, I would just as soon not go see that movie again.

The danger here is that the Fed (Bernanke) watches the economy slow and decides we need another round of quantitative easing. I have resisted that idea but, as I have noted, sometimes we need to think about the unthinkable.

And thus, I come to the end of the letter with a brief note on a very worrisome conversation I had yesterday with Martin Barnes, editor of the esteemed Bank Credit Analyst. Martin is one of the people I call when I want to know what the Fed might do. I guess I was looking for assurance that the Fed would not do QE3. I did not get it.

“Look, John” (insert Scottish brogue as I paraphrase), “if the Fed sees the economy rolling over into recession they will put their mandate for employment ahead of their mandate for stable prices.”

“But that would mean higher inflation in the face of a slow economy.”

“And?” he shot back. “That would just be the price of trying to increase employment, in their minds.”

“But at some point you have to bring out your inner Volker!” I intoned. “What about the future?”

The conversation continued, but I never got my warm and fuzzy assurances. For the record, another round of QE, unless there is a true liquidity crisis (and the last QE did not qualify!), would be a disaster, at least from the cheap seats where I sit. There are all sorts of inflationary and stagflationary consequences, none of which I like.

Brief plug: This April, at my Strategic Investment Conference, the first two questions that each speaker will get at the end of their presentation will be, first, “What will happen when QE2 goes away?” and second, “Under what conditions will the Fed launch QE3?”

I will pose them to Martin Barnes, Marc Faber, Niall Ferguson, Louis-Vincent Gave, Paul McCulley, David Rosenberg, and Gary Shilling – and John Paulson has agreed to speak as well! They will be joined by Neil Howe (The Fourth Turning, and demographics guru) and George Friedman of Stratfor, as well as your humble analyst and Altegris partner Jon Sundt. I mean, really, is there a conference anywhere this year that has a line-up that powerful?

The conference is April 28-30 in La Jolla. It is filling up fast. You can register at https://hedge-fund-conference.com/2011/invitation.aspx?ref=mauldin. Sadly, it is for accredited investors only, but I will report back to you the answers from the speakers to those questions.

London, Malta, Milan, Zurich, Salt Lake, and New York
I am off to London tomorrow. I will be guest hosting Squawk Box on CNBC London at 7 AM (gasp!), then do various meetings, and that night will be with co-author Jonathan Tepper for our book-launch party at the Mint Hotels - Tower of London Hotel, 7 Pepys Street, City of London. If you can, RSVP to endgame@variantperception.com so we can have some idea of how many are coming. I know, last minute and all, but that’s my life!

The next day I fly to Malta for board meetings, then on to Milan for a public presentation, then on to Zug and Zurich, before heading back. The next weekend I am off to Salt Lake for CMG partner Steve Blumenthal’s 50th birthday bash, then to NYC on Sunday for three days of media and meetings. I will update you with the media schedule next Friday, but right now I know I am on Fast Money for the first time on Monday the 4th. That should be interesting. I am a little slower than those guys, but maybe they can slow down for the old man.

The Japanese disaster has gotten to me more than most similar tragedies. Maybe it is because I was there less than a week before the earthquake. Maybe it is the thought of all those elderly people who have lost everything, with no place to go back to, and enduring horrible weather conditions. I have had letters from readers who have friends there, and the stories they relate show a nation that has energy problems, with gas rationing, and that means that trucks have a hard time delivering food. Empty shelves are the norm, and reports of people running out of food keep coming to me.

For whatever reason, it has me thinking about how fragile life is, how short our time is, and how I need to focus on the important things, like family and friends. I do enjoy the business and my work (maybe too much!), but I need to make sure there is balance, as do we all.

The Japanese are a resilient people and will rebound, but they could use our help. Again, think about giving to the Red Cross or your own favorite charity. And let’s pray that they can figure this nuclear thing out soon.

Your getting on yet another airplane analyst,

John Mauldin
John@FrontlineThoughts.com



Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/mauldin-inflation-accelerating-2011-3#ixzz1HC6xUMNd

Report to moderator   Logged
Soul Crusher
Competitors
Getbig V
*****
Posts: 8829


Doesnt lie about lifting.


« Reply #30 on: July 25, 2011, 02:05:47 PM »

BUMP for TU 
Report to moderator   Logged
Soul Crusher
Competitors
Getbig V
*****
Posts: 8829


Doesnt lie about lifting.


« Reply #31 on: February 04, 2013, 06:55:38 PM »

Skip to comments.
We Are All Going To Die From Inflation Says Bill Gross
 Points and Figures ^ | February 3, 2013 | Jeff Carter

Posted on Monday, February 04, 2013 6:56:29 PM by lbryce

They say that time is money. What they don’t say is that money may be running out of time.

There may be a natural evolution to our fractionally reserved credit system that characterizes modern global finance. Much like the universe, which began with a big bang nearly 14 billion years ago, but is expanding so rapidly that scientists predict it will all end in a “big freeze” trillions of years from now, our current monetary system seems to require perpetual expansion to maintain its existence. And too, the advancing entropy in the physical universe may in fact portend a similar decline of “energy” and “heat” within the credit markets. If so, then the legitimate response of creditors, debtors and investors inextricably intertwined within it, should logically be to ask about the economic and investment implications of its ongoing transition.

But before mimicking T.S. Eliot on the way our monetary system might evolve, let me first describe the “big bang” beginning of credit markets, so that you can more closely recognize its transition. The creation of credit in our modern day fractional reserve banking system began with a deposit and the profitable expansion of that deposit via leverage. Banks and other lenders don’t always keep 100% of their deposits in the “vault” at any one time – in fact they keep very little – thus the term “fractional reserves.” That first deposit then, and the explosion outward of 10x and more of levered lending, is modern day finance’s equivalent of the big bang. When it began is actually harder to determine than the birth of the physical universe but it certainly accelerated with the invention of central banking – the U.S. in 1913 – and with it the increased confidence that these newly licensed lenders of last resort would provide support to financial and real economies. Banking and central banks were and remain essential elements of a productive global economy.

But they carried within them an inherent instability that required the perpetual creation of more and more credit to stay alive. Those initial loans from that first deposit? They were made most certainly at yields close to the rate of real growth and creation of real wealth in the economy. Lenders demanded that yield because of their risk, and borrowers were speculating that the profit on their fledgling enterprises would exceed the interest expense on those loans. In many cases, they succeeded. But the economy as a whole could not logically grow faster than the real interest rates required to pay creditors, in combination with the near double-digit returns that equity holders demanded to support the initial leverage – unless it was supplied with additional credit to pay the tab. In a sense this was a “Sixteen Tons” metaphor: Another day older and deeper in debt, except few within the credit system itself understood the implications.

Economist Hyman Minsky did. With credit now expanding, the sophisticated economic model provided by Minsky was working its way toward what he called Ponzi finance. First, he claimed the system would borrow in low amounts and be relatively self-sustaining – what he termed “Hedge” finance. Then the system would gain courage, lever more into a “Speculative” finance mode which required more credit to pay back previous borrowings at maturity. Finally, the end phase of “Ponzi” finance would appear when additional credit would be required just to cover increasingly burdensome interest payments, with accelerating inflation the end result.

Minsky’s concept, developed nearly a half century ago shortly after the explosive decoupling of the dollar from gold in 1971, was primarily a cyclically contained model that acknowledged recession and then rejuvenation once the system’s leverage had been reduced. That was then. He perhaps could not have imagined the hyperbolic, as opposed to linear, secular rise in U.S. credit creation that has occurred since as shown in Chart 1. (Patterns for other developed economies are similar.) While there has been cyclical delevering, it has always been mild – even during the Volcker era of 1979-81. When Minsky formulated his theory in the early 70s, credit outstanding in the U.S. totaled $3 trillion. Today, at $56 trillion and counting, it is a monster that requires perpetually increasing amounts of fuel, a supernova star that expands and expands, yet, in the process begins to consume itself. Each additional dollar of credit seems to create less and less heat. In the 1980s, it took $4 of new credit to generate $1 of real GDP. Over the last decade, it has taken $10, and since 2006, $20 to produce the same result. Minsky’s Ponzi finance at the 2013 stage goes more and more to creditors and market speculators and less and less to the real economy. This “Credit New Normal” is entropic much like the physical universe and the “heat” or real growth that new credit now generates becomes less and less each year: 2% real growth now instead of an historical 3.5% over the past 50 years; likely even less as the future unfolds.



Not only is more and more anemic credit created by lenders as its “sixteen tons” becomes “thirty-two,” then “sixty-four,” but in the process, today’s near zero bound interest rates cripple savers and business models previously constructed on the basis of positive real yields and wider margins for loans. Net interest margins at banks compress; liabilities at insurance companies threaten their levered equity; and underfunded pension plans require greater contributions from their corporate funders unless regulatory agencies intervene. What has followed has been a gradual erosion of real growth as layoffs, bank branch closings and business consolidations create less of a need for labor and physical plant expansion. In effect, the initial magic of credit creation turns less magical, in some cases even destructive and begins to consume credit markets at the margin as well as portions of the real economy it has created. For readers demanding a more model-driven, historical example of the negative impact of zero based interest rates, they have only to witness the modern day example of Japan. With interest rates close to zero for the last decade or more, a sharply declining rate of investment in productive plants and equipment, shown in Chart 2, is the best evidence. A Japanese credit market supernova, exploding and then contracting onto itself. Money and credit may be losing heat and running out of time in other developed economies as well, including the U.S
Report to moderator   Logged
Pages: 1 [2]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Theme created by Egad Community. Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!