Jul 5 2013

The consequences of bubblenomics: Fed balance sheet increases to $3.5 trillion, negative interest rates since 2009, and part-time employment at record high.

While the Federal Reserve mumbles about tapering back quantitative easing, the balance sheet the Fed is carrying tells us an entirely different story.  The latest report shows that the Fed has grown its balance sheet to a stunning $3.5 trillion.  The ability to travel with an economic blindfold has been a strategy the Fed has been employing since the crisis unfolded in 2007.  What is certain is that this negative interest rate environment has fueled the wild spirits of banking speculation at the expense of the working and middle class.  As we look over the June employment report, we see a big trend towards a low wage America.  The large growth in employment came from part time work.  As the Fed becomes more aggressive with policy, we find ourselves in a modern bubblenomics system of booms and busts and most Americans are one step behind any opportunity for getting ahead.

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Jul 2 2013

Has the US lost control on debt market growth? Unbridled debt expansion at the nucleus of rising debt inequality in the United States. US total credit market debt now over 3 times larger than annual GDP.

There is one charge that can never be leveled against Americans and that would be that we somehow have an aversion to debt.  To the contrary, our love with debt has blossomed into a full blow addiction.  People confuse access to debt with actual real wealth.  However as the foreclosure crisis has taught millions, you really don’t own something fully until the debt is paid off.  The problem with this addiction is that we are now going deeper and deeper into a debt filled spiral.  The Federal Reserve has positioned us into a market where debt is necessary, but this debt has to come at an artificially low rate.  Any hint that rates will rise causes the market to quiver like a teenager at prom.  This is troubling because it is a sign of addiction and probably, a belief that there is no longer an out clause.  Anyone that has seen the show Intervention realizes how difficult it is to combat a serious addiction.  First, there needs to be an acknowledgment of a problem.  We are still steps away from recognizing this as an issue.

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Jun 29 2013

The most delinquent loan of them all: Student debt delinquencies at record levels on the eve of rates doubling. Half of college graduates working in jobs where their degree is not required.

If the news for college graduates couldn’t get any better.  Our woefully motivated millionaire Congress is unable to figure out what is necessary to stop the doubling of interest rates on student debt.  While the Fed can turn on a dime to rectify zero percent interest rates for member banks, trying to help the youth of the nation well, that is just too hard to do.  Milling around through the data I found that for the first time in history, student debt had the highest delinquency rate of all household debts.  This is a big deal given that Americans now carry over $1 trillion in student debt and most of it is in the hands of the young.  At the nucleus of this argument is that people are going into too much debt to finance their educational pursuits.  Collecting tips at the Olive Garden is not exactly going to payoff that $50,000 in student debt.  How is it that the Fed can subsidize big banks with zero percent rates so they can speculate in real estate and other ventures while college graduates are now faced with the doubling of interest rates?

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Jun 26 2013

Paycheck to paycheck and food stamp to food stamp: Study finds 3 out of 4 Americans are one financial emergency away from being out on the street.

The latest food stamp usage data was released with very little attention from the media.  47.7 million Americans are on food assistance spanning a record 23.1 million families.  Americans on food stamps reflects deep structural issues in the way our economy employs our population.  The recovery in many parts of the US is anything but.  What we are seeing is a growing (and permanent) class of people that will be part of a working (and growing non-working) poor segment of our population.  You would think with the proliferation of information that more opportunities would arise but many people are not keeping up.  There was also a survey showing that 3 out of 4 Americans are basically living paycheck to paycheck with 1 out of 4 living without any savings at all.  You would think this economic dilemma would make headline news but it doesn’t.  Is a paycheck to paycheck and food stamp to food stamp nation worth reporting on?

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Jun 23 2013

The banking system’s methodical way of punishing savers: How punishing savers is encouraging a low savings rate and high levels of debt.

Would you be motivated to save money if your rate of return was 0 percent?  That is the situation facing many Americans looking to put their hard earned dollars into the current banking system.  Underlying the zero percent stated rate however is the reality that the real rate is closer to negative three percent given the rate of inflation.  To keep it short and sweet, you will lose money simply by putting it into a regular savings account or even a certificate of deposit (CD).  The Federal Reserve carries a lot of power in our financial system.  The mere mention of shifting course sent the markets into a financial panic.  The problem of course is the Fed has conditioned a public to very low rates and risk is being mispriced.  These low rates in classical conditioning fashion have created a market addicted to lower and lower rates.  The current system punishes savers and the setup has worked when we look at data to discourage saving.

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Jun 20 2013

The Fed has built a financial pyramid based on unsustainable low rates. How the Fed is running out of economic curtains to hide behind when it comes to monetary policy.

The markets are pulling back dramatically because the Fed sneezed.  The Fed essentially said they would begin tapering off their experiments in quantitative easing by pulling back their bond purchases from $85 billion a month to $65 billion.  That is it.  Not a shocking revelation.  So why then are the markets plunging on this news?  The entire market is being driven by artificial stimulus that is largely helping the top one percent in society.  This is a primary reason on how we can have a peak in stocks while we have a peak in food stamp usage all at the same time.  A large part of the recovery has been fabricated by giving banks access to trillions of dollars in easy debt via the monetizing machinery while the working public has to grovel for any crumbs that are left over after the banks have their feast.  The Fed merely hinting at pulling back is slamming the market because many financial institutions gorging at the trough of low rates are sensing the 135 percent rally in stocks is coming to a close.

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Jun 17 2013

Has inflation fueled the two income household trap in the US? How inflation has eroded the purchasing power of the working and middle class.

Inflation in the United States is largely seen as a built in part of our economy.  People take it for granted as if this was simply the order of things.  Yet our central banking system has inflated our debt based financial system and subsequently, the value of money has eroded.  For example, most items that are financed through debt have increased dramatically during a time when household income has reverted to inflation adjusted levels of the 1990s.  The cost of inflation is hidden of course from the eyes of the public as to not shock people into action.  Playing with interest rates, a car that once cost $20,000 is now going for $30,000 but the monthly payment has remained the same thanks to the Fed’s unrelenting push to lower interest rates.  There is a cost to all of this of course.  If it were so simple to fix an economy, the Fed would simply send unlimited debit cards to each and every American.  Inflation is a threat to the economy from the perspective that it destroys the purchasing power of working and middle class Americans, those with limited access to debt.  In our economy, debt provides access to real assets and those with the most access to debt (banks) can lock into the larger share of assets (i.e., banks now buying up thousands of rental properties).  Is inflation a main culprit in the two income trap?

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