TYR reads “…It’s a Different Economy”

College Grads: It’s a Different Economy @ Of Two Minds Charles Hugh Smith aptly summarizes and describes the structure of the post-2008 USA economy, a description that by extension and with some tweaks can be applied to most western economes. An economy in which processes in the making since the end of WW2, if not sooner, are finally rising to the fore. It is not pretty. One could perhaps add a couple of points, but perhaps one  would not dare. Let’s hope that his half-optimistic concluding remarks are right. I am not so sure. CHS:

1. Getting a college degree, even in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects, no longer guarantees a job.

2. Those millions of Baby Boomers clinging to their jobs can’t afford to retire, partly as a result of Federal Reserve bubble-blowing and zero-interest rates.

3. Many of those Boomers clinging to jobs are doing so to support you.

4. We now have a bifurcated economy: we have what’s left of the open-market economy and we have the cartel-state economy of various rentier arrangements. Arentier arrangement is one in which the input costs can keep rising due to political power/protection while the output declines.

Our economy is now dominated by rentier arrangements. This is one of the core reasons it is stagnating, the other being a parasitic, corrupt financial sector that depends on phantom collateral and accounting trickery for its survival.

Rentier arrangements include the financial sector (hated by the public but politically sacrosanct), the National Security State (you can never have enough people spying on the world, including Americans), healthcare (costs triple while the availability of care and the health of the populace decline) and education (college tuition rises 600% when adjusted for inflation but a third of the graduates learned essentially nothing).

Protected from the discipline of the market, these quasi-monopolies vacuum up an ever-increasing share of the national income while their output/yield declines. Where $200 million bought four top-line fighter aircraft a decade ago, now it buys one; we have reached the point where we can’t afford our own fighter aircraft. And many in the military conclude the $200 million-each F-35 Lightning (by some estimates of full program costs, $300 million each) is an underpowered, bug-ridden dog, less capable than competitors and the aircraft it replaces at four time the cost, the F-18 E/F Super Hornet.

For decades, those entering the rentier cartels were assured of lifetime security.Get a job in healthcare or education or the defense/national security sectors, and you had it made. But these bloated rentier arrangements are bankrupting the nation.

Lacking any limit on their cost inputs, these sectors have expanded at rates far exceeding the growth rate of the economy that supports them. Healthcare once absorbed roughly 5% of the economy; now it is consuming 18% and is on track to consume 20%. Healthcare alone will bankrupt the Federal government and the economy.

5. The private-sector economy is bifurcated as well.

6. The older generations will have to adjust to demographic and financial realities.

7. There are two sets of laws now: one for the Elites and the state, and one for the rest of us.

8. We are a free-lance nation.

He concludes:

There are opportunities, but they require a deep understanding of risk and security. A livelihood with day-to-day low-level insecurity and volatility is actually far more stable and secure than the cartel-state one that claims to be guaranteed.

The burdens of Fed manipulation and the cartel-state rentier arrangements will come home to roost between 2015-2017. Those who are willing to seek livelihoods in the non-cartel economy will likely have more security and satisfaction than those who believed that joining a rentier arrangement was a secure career.

There is a price to joining a parasitic rentier arrangement, a loss of integrity, agency and independence. Complicity in an unsustainable neofeudal society has a cost.

TYR 14 January 2013 reads: The Neoliberal Financial Skim

The Neoliberal Financial Skim @ Of Two Minds describes in 5 simple graphs how “the perfection of the Neoliberal order is a parasitic financial sector protected by the Central Bank and State”.

And how “the Central Bank and State protect the financial sector’s vast skim of the national income with a combination of toothless regulations and regulations that are only enforced for purposes of percetpion management”.

And how “when the aforementioned benign neglect is insufficient to divert the national income to the parasitic finance-rentier sector, then the Central Bank and State actively transfer taxpayer monies to the financial sector via tax breaks, loopholes, and massive direct and indirect subsidies.”

Dont’ miss the graphs, courtesy of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

TYR 19 November 2012 reads

Global Shadow Banking System Rises To $67 Trillion, Just Shy Of 100% Of Global GDP @ Zerohedge In case you assumed that 4 years after the onset of the present global financial crisis risks are at least gradually decreasing, please look again. The Financial Stability Board (FSB) in its latest report on the Shadow Banking System (SBS) has increased the global estimate for the size of the SBS by some $5 to 6 trillion in aggregate, bringing the 2011 estimate from $60 trillion with last year’s narrow coverage to $67 trillion, virtually the same as global GDP of $70 trillion at the end of 2011.

The Three “Financial Structure” Paradigms Of Modern Finance @ Zerohedge Please note how the second, “massive shadow banking system financing”, and third, “Central Bank finance based system”, paradigms are gradually displacing the traditional first paradigm, “conventional banking deposits as the main financing source”. As Zerohedge remarks…”the coordinated central bank cartel becomes the one and only source of money. And not just any money, but the definition of ‘Gresham Law’ money, as creeping central planning and ubiquitous monetization, means very soon only central banks will be the source of any incremental leverage, while all ‘good credit’ is slowly but surely driven out of the system”….”It is this third paradigm that is the preamble to the final collapse, because just before the endgame, it will be every central bank against everyone else, and against itself, whereby the only way to get ahead is to destroy your own currency of exchange as fast as possible, at first on a relative basis, by devaluing against all other currencies in a closed loop, then on an absolute, by devaluing against hard assets.”

“The Fed Will Destroy The World” – Mark Faber

In an interview on Bloomberg TV today, Mark Faber comments on the FED’s decision yesterday to start a QE (money printing) program of indefinite size and duration, starting at a rate of 40 billion per month of Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS).

The most interesting and frightening part of the FED’s press release reads “… If the outlook for the labor market does not improve substantially, the Committee will continue its purchases of agency mortgage-backed securities, undertake additional asset purchases, and employ its other policy tools as appropriate until such improvement is achieved in a context of price stability…”, meaning money will be diluted ad infinitum if need be.

In Mark Faber’s words: “The fallacy of monetary policy in the U.S. is to believe this money will go to the man on the street. It won’t. It goes to the Mayfair economy of the well-to-do people and boosts asset prices of Warhols…Very happy. Very good for the Fed. Congratulations, Mr. Bernanke. I’m happy. My asset values go up but as a responsible citizen I have to say the monetary policies of the U.S. will destroy the world.

Die wirkliche Wirklichkeit

We argued in a recent post that the ESM violates Germany’s constitution and the EU treaties. Today the German Constitutional Court (GCC) ruled that the ESM and its ‘fiscal treaty’ on budget discipline do not violate the country’s Basic Law and do not undermine the Bundestag`s sovereignty over budget issues, according to Openeurope. Although the full ruling is expected in early 2013, Openeurope remarks a few aspects of today’s resolution:

  1. Cap of €190bn on German ESM contribution, which can only be overturned by the Bundestag.
  2. Both houses of German Parliament need to be adequately informed about all ESM decisions – something which needs to be enshrined in “international law”.
  3. Reinforced that Bundestag approval needed for all activations of the ESM.
  4. Explicit ban on ESM borrowing directly from European Central Bank (ECB).
  5. The German Government can terminate ESM at any time, as recognised under “customary international law”.
  6. In its full ruling, expected in early 2013, the Court will also consider whether the ECB’s bond-buying programme, the OMT, has transferred illegal degrees of sovereignty to the EU-level.

If respected, #1 ruling would limit some of the potential risks that the creation of the ESM pose to the countries (and ultimately their taxpayers) funding the ESM, most specially Germany. Effective maximum potential financial costs to Germany would be capped at 190 billion Euros, invalidating the articles of the ESM allowing for potentially unlimited liabilities.

#2 and #3 reinforces Bundestag veto over ESM activation: the decision also states that any future ESM bailouts will require parliamentary approval, stating that the Bundestag “must individually approve every large-scale federal aid measure on the international or European Union level”.

#4 bans on the ESM borrowing from the ECB: the Court says that “borrowing by the ESM from the European Central Bank” would be incompatible with EU law (Article 123 TFEU). This is a surprisingly categorical rebuke, especially over an issue of EU rather than German law.

#6 addresses not the ESM but the latest ECB asset purchase program, named Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT). The GCC suggested in its press release that the ECB’s OMT will be considered in its final ruling on these complaints. The exact criteria upon which the programme will be assessed is unclear but broadly the Court will determine whether it transfers additional German sovereignty to the European level above and beyond that which the country has committed itself to in the EU Treaties.

What does it all mean? With a firm cap on the ESM, the ECB is now most certainly the only actor with deep enough pockets to put Spain and Italy on life-support – together with the OMT announcement the ruling has shifted the burden back to the ECB. However, the ruling and the role of the Bundestag highlights that activating the OMT will be challenging, since in order to qualify for ECB bond-buying, a country must first get funding from the ESM – and be subject to conditions. If the Bundestag agrees to activate more bailouts, it will most certainly push for harsher conditions than what debtor countries – most importantly Spain – are willing to accept. In the long-term, under current arrangements of linking ESM and OMT, the latter is also effectively capped and subject to a Bundestag veto.

If this is so, the caveats in the GCC’s resolution are not minor, why did markets continue to rally today? An answer to this question is hinted in today’s Die Welt’s article, Karlsruhe weiß, wo Europas Hammer der Macht hängt, whose last sentence goes like this: “the GCC, that for us is almost as holy as the Bundesbank, is only one of the Players in the european Game, and not the most powerful one” (“Das Bundesverfassungsgericht, das uns fast so heilig ist wie die Deutsche Bundesbank, ist auch nur ein Spieler im europäischen Spiel, und nicht der mächtigste”).

If, from a german perspective, its constitutional court is not the biggest, ultimate player, who is? If, as Die Welt’s article also implies, the GCC takes its decisions not only considering Germany’s Basic Law, but also in the context of the “wirkliche WirklichkeitI”, the “real reality”, what is that reality’s content?. Mr. Thomas Schmid, the author of Die Welt’s article, hints at the European Union’s centralist drive that gradually hollows national sovereignty and places it in supranational bodies, most specially the ECB, Mario Draghi’s ECB, that does no longer fear to antagonize its most important member, the Bundesbank. The ECB, that is also supposed to be the supervisor of ALL european banks, according to the latest proposal of the European Commission (EC), emerges as an almost all-powerful institution, mostly unaccountable to national governments and not even to the European Union. What and who does the ECB stand for?. Certainly not monetary orthodoxy and price stability as is written in its charter. In whose hands does Germany’s sovereignty lay? Perhaps a review of Mr. Mario Draghi’s biography would be helpful in answering this question.

“The tears I have cried over Germany have dried. I have washed my face.” – Marlene Dietrich

As 54% of Germans Want Constitutional Court to Kill the ESM doubts about next wednesday’s resolution of the German Constitutional Court (GCC) increase in the financial community

Germans could be consigned to serfdom to save the Euro @ The Guardian In this article Mr. Gunnar Beck argues that the ISM might ruin Germany and leave the country in a sutuation of practical serfdom

“Don’t Count Your Hahnchen”: 40% Chance German Court Does Not Ratify ESM @ Zerohedge Even among the anglosaxon financial communtiy, doubts arise as to the resolution of the GCC on wednesday. A “yes” to the ESM no longer seems a done deal, according to Morgan Stanley

Are The Krimson Karlsruhe Knights About To Say Ni-en? @ Zerohedge Bank of America, Berenberg and Daiwa Capital also have some doubts about the GCC`s resolution

TYR 9 September 2012 reads

Five Years Since The Great Financial Crisis: “No Growth, No Deleveraging” @ Zerohedge It illustrates the lack of debt deleveraging in developed economies from 2007 until now

Diverging like it is 1929 @ Safehaven  Interesting comparison of the divergence of market action and fundamentals today and in 1929

The Repricing of Oil @ Peak Prosperity It shows the fragility of the supply/demand balance in the oil market and how the present worldwide recessionary conditions mask the latent scarcity of oil, limiting the scope of price decreases and showing the potential for big price increases in a not too distant future