Jul 24 2013

The uneasiness of Quantitative Easing: How QE is ineffective with helping the broader economy in favor of boosting support for too big to fail banks.

Quantitative Easing outside of economic and financial circles is a mystery to most of the public.  In fact, start talking about the Federal Reserve and eyes will glaze over as if you were speaking in tongues.  The financial sector counts on the public being ignorant of such things.  That is why the failure of QE is such an important topic to discuss.  The consequences brought on by QE have resulted in massive distortions in the market.  First, we have incredibly high speculation once again from the financial sector (it never really went away and was the fodder for our last financial implosion).  QE simply provided an easy mechanism for cheaper funds via interest rate distortions.  The second key point is that banks have increased their leverage via easy debt and are crowding out smaller players in the market.  A perfect example is the flood of big money investors crowding into residential real estate.  QE has ultimately turned out to be a very selective bailout of the too big to fail banking sector.

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Jul 21 2013

Arrested development courtesy of student debt: How student debt is putting the lives of many young Americans on hold.

Many young Americans view student debt as a necessary evil in pursuing higher education.  The level of student debt now reaches Himalayan levels as many are falling behind on keeping up with payments.  A double-edged sword has befallen young Americans.  First, the path to middle class jobs no longer runs through a blue collar industry (as I’m sure Detroit would testify to this fact).  Second, the required skills for middle class jobs (i.e., healthcare, engineering, sciences, etc) run through formal education for better or worse.  The ability to pull oneself out of one class and have mobility to another is at the core of the American Dream.  Yet this dream is now becoming a debt filled labyrinth.  Recent college graduates are finding it difficult to buy a home or other typical life journeys when many already come out with mortgage like debt thanks to the student loans they carry.  Are we seeing a sort of economic arrested development for younger Americans courtesy of the maze of student debt?

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Jul 18 2013

Detroit files for bankruptcy while S&P 500 hits record high: The bifurcation of the American economy and the long decline of the American manufacturing base.

The US is full of economic dichotomies.  The DOW hit a peak when food stamp usage peaked.  Incomes for the wealthiest are reaching record levels while the median household income has fallen back to levels last seen in the mid-1990s.  And today, the once manufacturing powerhouse of Detroit is filing for bankruptcy at the exact same time that the S&P 500 reaches a record.  The symbolism cannot go unnoticed especially as a reflection of our so-called recovery.  We have offshored our blue collar workforce and this has helped a small group at the top at the expense of the working and middle class.  The low wage capitalism race is full speed ahead and Detroit is merely another bystander in the way.  How is it that we can offer lifeline after lifeline to banking giants while Detroit is left to contract and suffer a painful demise?  This isn’t to say that something should be done but it offers a bifurcated method of how we are operating today.  The financial giants are bailed out with corporate food stamps while the working class is left to fight the global forces of low wages on their own.  What else does the bankruptcy of Detroit tell us?

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Jul 15 2013

Part-time nation: What does it say when a vast portion of our society is now working at part-time jobs? 2013 scorecard: Minimum wage restaurant jobs added: 239,000. Manufacturing jobs added: 13,000.

One of the more troubling pieces of economic data I have seen is that excluding restaurant and bar employment, we are actually down nearly 2 million jobs in the private industry going back to the start of this long drawn out recession.  This is probably one of the narrowest recoveries in our nation’s history focused on a small portion of our population.  The trend towards being a part-time nation is part of the low wage predatory capitalist system we are living in.  Chart after chart shows how most of the economic gains over the last few decades have gone to a very small group of people.  Even on sites like Fiverr, you have talented people all around the world putting out quality work for something like $5 per project.  How is it feasible for someone to make a living off of something like this?  There was also a major legal case regarding how some companies exploit “internships” for essentially slave labor.  With the middle class shrinking can we survive as a nation with the bulk of our employment gains coming from temporary and low paid jobs?

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Jul 11 2013

The debt reckoning has arrived: Total debt owed now approaches $60 trillion while Fed wrestles with interest rate confidence game.

Some people may be oblivious to the recent historical interest rate moves being experienced in the bond markets.  Many on Wall Street probably assumed that the Fed had an unlimited ability to pull the wool over the eyes of the American public.  Yet the reaction with interest rates concludes an interesting chapter in American central banking policy.  The Fed can no longer preach for a lower interest rate.  After the brutal reaction, the Fed has softened its rhetoric on the “taper” of quantitative easing even though there is really no evidence showing the Fed is tapering anything at all.  The quick reversal in interest rates signifies a strong reaction by the market.  It is fascinating to see how much outside money is now flowing back into the US to purchase stocks, real estate, and other real tangible goods.  In other words, global investors are now demanding payment for all that cheap credit lent out.  The era of cheap debt is now reversing and the piper is demanding to be paid.

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Jul 9 2013

How much do Americans earn? How the other half lives and examining income growth and median income for US households in 2013.

How much do Americans earn?  Such an important and pivotal question is rarely examined in the mainstream press.  It almost appears to be a forbidden topic of discussion.  You would think that this question would warrant deeper examination given that income is the driving force of our consumer hungry economy.  Yet many people are driven to spend money they don’t have regardless of income because of the booming debt market.  Household income growth is the critical issue when it comes to maintaining a vibrant middle class.  You rarely get a straight answer when it comes to income growth because talking about incomes is taboo and actually is offensive in real life.  Try asking someone how much they make at a party and find out how quickly unpopular you will become.  Yet the data is frigid and cold but tells us many things about our economy.  What Americans earn sheds a deeper perspective as to how well households are doing in the current economy.  So how much do Americans earn at this stage in this so-called economic recovery?

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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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