Welcome back debt! Total household debt rose by $63 billion last quarter pushing total household debt to $12.35 trillion. More than half of the debt increase came through auto loans.
The appetite for debt is now back in a furious way. Total household debt was up $63 billion last quarter driven largely by auto loans. Auto loans increased by $32 billion and the amount of auto debt outstanding is stunning. There is now a total of $1.14 trillion in auto loans floating in our economy. We’ve discussed that a large part of the growth has come in the form of subprime auto debt and that trend seems to be continuing. While Americans in many cases are too broke to afford a home, they are now able to purchase depreciating assets that lose value the minute they roll off the lot. This is unfortunately a bad omen since many families are trying to keep up the pretense of being middle class by buying cars that they cannot afford on credit. Debt is back and it must feel like a comfortable old shirt.
California is land to the $100k minimum wage state worker: 220,000 highly-compensated state employees cost the public $35 billion.
There is one thing to discuss the minimum wage for servers and many others that work in the low paid service industry but it is another thing to discuss “underpaid” state workers. That statement cannot be said for California’s state employees. In a country where the median household income is $52,000 California seems to be the land of largesse. There is this narrative that state workers take on jobs that pay much less than the private sector but the data in California shows something very different. In fact, there are armies of highly paid state workers. There was a study that looked at state workers and the number of people earning six-figures is somewhat mind boggling. Let us look at the figures.
While people argue about what is real and fake news the widening gulf of inequality in the real world only continues to expand. This is actually happening and for the ultra wealthy that hold most of the wealth, all of this distraction is a good thing. The latest wealth report from Deutsche Bank Research shows that wealth inequality is at levels last seen during the Roaring 20s. The problem with this kind of inequality is that it has come from largely hollowing out the middle class and also creating a large crony financial system that is designed to suck out productivity in the real economy and shuffle it over to folks in suits sitting behind Bloomberg terminals. In other words, those that work and build the economy get shafted from the financial hubs of the world. This global financial drain does not adhere to national borders but is driven by the worldwide financial elite that collect trophy apartments in major metro areas. All this happens while your typical American family struggles to buy a home. There is nothing fake about the current level of wealth inequality.
Housing in a time of rising mortgage rates: A big jump in mortgage rates is here to stay for these reasons.
In the midst of everything that is going on, the bond market took a big hit to the tune of $1 trillion. What this means is that mortgage rates tied to Treasury bonds had a massive move, the largest in many years. The 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate jumped to nearly 4 percent, the highest rate in a year. The trend looks to continue as the expectation of inflation is now expected to happen. There are a variety of reasons as to why this will happen and we will go into this later in the article. But this jump in the mortgage market happened during a time that the homeownership rate is already low because people are too broke to afford homes at inflated prices. This is a problem because people are already walking on a financial edge. The housing market just got more expensive for regular people.
The most expensive housing market in the world: Vancouver levies a $10,000 a year tax on empty homes. Not telling the truth and it becomes $10,000 a day.
While many areas of the US are now back near housing bubble territory after correcting, Canada never corrected and today has seen real estate values inch into the stratosphere. Global wealth, largely from China is fueling the flames of the Canadian housing bubble. While many that live in areas like Vancouver are frustrated in finding a rental or even affording a home, thousands of homes sit empty. Why? Because extremely wealthy foreigners use real estate as an exit hatch in various nations. These homes simply become trophies for the globally connected. Vancouver is taking some action levying a $10,000 a year tax on homes that sit empty. This might seem odd to you that a home would simply sit empty but this is the case in many high priced markets. Let us look at the most inflated housing market in the world.
94,609,000 adult Americans not in the labor force: In January 2009, 80,529,000 were not in the labor force. Now we’ve added 14 million Americans.
There is truly a silent majority in the United States and those are people that are not in the labor force. It is hard to believe but since January of 2009 we have added a whopping 14 million Americans to the already staggering number of adult Americans that are not in the labor force. Many older Americans are fully reliant on Social Security and are one missed direct deposit from being out on the streets and starving. Adults not in the labor force are largely ignored because they have weak purchasing power. Who is going to advertise to them? Yet this massive group makes up nearly one-third of the entire population. Are we heading to 100,000,000 adult Americans that will no longer be in the labor force?
The story of inflation between 1996 and 2016 is of rising prices in things that you need: Prices skyrocket for middle class goods and services.
Inflation is rarely discussed in the mainstream press. Most people wake up every day and simply believe that prices go up as a natural state. These deeply held assumptions usually crack when new revelations happen like centuries ago with new scientific discoveries showing that our planet is not the center of the universe. Yet somehow people hold on tightly refusing to acknowledge that inflation is caused directly by banks, governments, and central banks. It is interesting to look at inflation data over a 20 year period, form 1996 to 2016. What you will find in the data is that prices are soaring in the items people need, especially those items to enter into the middle class. Since wages are not keeping up, it is no surprise then that the middle class over this time has shrank into a minority class.