Entries Tagged as 'Economics'

Useless Advice

Useless Advice

Useless Advice

To see how misleading the Fed’s interest rate hike projections have been in recent years, have a look at the chart below.
As you can see, projected interest rate hikes compared to actual rate hikes differ drastically.

I don’t know what’s worse… the Fed’s forward guidance track record or the people who actually trade on that guidance.

Yet there I was on Wednesday night watching a Harvard-educated “analyst” on Fox News telling “Special Report” anchor Brett Baier that the most important thing investors needed to be concerned with was the Fed’s plan to raise rates three times in 2017.

That’s utterly worthless advice.

Hold on. I am being kind.

That’s moronic advice.

The data clearly shows that the Fed doesn’t do what is says it’s going to do.

Look, does anyone not sniffing bath salts believe the Fed is going to continue raising rates on schedule if the U.S. stock market craters… or if Europe implodes… or if China’s credit bubble bursts?

Please.

There are countless Fed “variables” it will use to justify altering its plan… as it has in years past.

The bottom line is the only thing of value we learned from the Fed this week is they raised rates on Wednesday.

That’s it.

What it does in 2017 has no relation to its stated projections, just as was the case in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Worrying about the implications of the Fed’s rate hike timetable is a time-sucking charade designed to bleed you dry. The Fed and the media are never on your side.

Focus on the only truth you know, and that is the price action of all markets.

Let the price action dictate your actions, your buys and sells. That’s what winners do.

Please send me your comments to coveluncensored@agorafinancial.com. Let me know what you think of today’s issue.

Regards,

Michael Covel
Editor, Covel Uncensored

The Fed’s “Debt Monster” Is Calling the Shots

The Fed’s “Debt Monster”

Bill Bonner calls our attention to the danger:

You know our prediction: The Fed will never willingly lead interest rates to a neutral position.

It can’t. The FED  has created a debt monster. It must feed this Frankenstein with easy credit.

This time last year, the Fed began its “rate-tightening cycle.” That is, it began raising short-term interest rates.

It pledged to continue to do so in 2016. But then it diddled and dawdled, fiddled and fawdled… claiming to be on top of the situation… watching its “data” come in like a fisherman’s wife waiting for the return of the fleet… and not wanting to admit she was already a widow.

What it was really waiting for was a place to hide.

The Fed can raise short-term rates. But it will have to follow, not lead. It will have to hide in the shadow of rising consumer prices, staying “behind the curve” of inflation expectations.

That way, the expected real interest rate – the rate of return on your money above the rate of consumer price inflation – never really returns to neutral.

Already, the price of a barrel of crude oil – a key input into prices across the economy – is twice what it was 10 months ago. Leading business-cycle research firm the Economic Cycle Research Institute says the inflation cycle has turned positive.

And already, foreign nations are talking about retaliating against Team Trump by canceling orders and imposing new tariffs in their own versions of “better trade deals.”

This, too, is bound to raise prices.

Forget speculating on stocks, options, or other risky, low-probability moneymaking schemes. This wealth-building formula is the most reliable way to make seven figures in seven years or less in today’s uncertain economy…

Funny Money Antics

But if consumer price inflation were really a concern, the bond market would race ahead of the Fed, imposing its own regimen of rising yields.

The Fed’s increases would be too little and too late to have any real effect on the outcome.

Bondholders don’t care much about nominal rates. If consumer price inflation were to rise to the Fed’s 2% target, for example, bondholders might clamor for a 4% yield to give them a positive 2%.

That is a big increase over the 52-week low of 1.32% the yield on the 10-year Treasury note hit on July 4.

But you don’t get that kind of seismic shift without cracking some flower pots.

Much of the world’s $225 trillion in debt is calibrated to borrowers who will have a hard time surviving a 3% interest rate world, let alone a 4% one.

This is an economy that can stand a lot of grotesque and absurd “funny money” antics. It can survive a bizarre financial world; it can’t survive a normal one.

As inflation expectations increase, investors do not sit still and watch their retirements, their savings, and their fortunes get broken by inflation.

They don’t wait for the Fed’s policy-setting committee to meet. They don’t reflect calmly as the Fed’s wonks collect their “data” and create their “dot plots.”

Instead, they act out. The monster gets mad and starts throwing things.

First through the window are the bonds. They get chucked out before inflation manifests itself fully… and long before the Fed increases its key short-term rate.

Then, the “boom” turns quickly into stagflation… as higher borrowing costs pinch off growth even as consumer prices continue to rise.

But more likely, inflation is not really surging… Not yet.

And most likely, it will be the painfully apparent when the U.S. economy goes into recession next year.

Then, it will be stocks’ turn to get tossed out, while bonds sneak back in through the side door.

It will also be apparent that the Fed has taken another false step… that the recovery was a sham… and that it’s the debt monster calling the shots, not Janet Yellen.

Regards,

Bill Bonner

The Retirement Savings Crisis: What Will Fix It?

The Retirement Savings Crisis: What Will Fix It?

The Retirement Savings Crisis: What Will Fix It?

The numbers are staggering. An astounding $14 trillion retirement crisis is looming for millions of Americans. Nearly a third of the workforce does not own a single retirement account – not a 401(k), not an individual retirement account (IRA). Of those who do own a retirement account, the median account balance is a mere $3,000. Rising costs, longer lives and the very human tendency to not worry about it because it’ll all turn out OK in the end is driving the numbers. There are ways to fix the retirement savings crisis before it’s too late. Here’s how.

No Retirement Plan? Get One

If you think your Social Security check will be enough to live on during retirement, think again. The Social Security board of trustees anticipates that by the year 2035, all excess cash reserves will be gone. Benefits could be cut as well. Even if neither of these events occur, Social Security benefits will barely touch your living expenses. You need more.

If you don’t participate in an employer-sponsored IRA or 401(k)plan, sign up if your company offers one. You have to start somewhere and automatic contributions are a great way to do just that.

Consult a Professional Retirement Planner – Now

One 401(k) or IRA is not enough to live a comfortable retirement. Investment portfolio management, retirement savings management and strategy development are all services a professional provides to help you achieve your financial goals. A professional looks at where you are now, what you have to do to live a comfortable retirement and develops a plan to get you there. Professionals recommend the investments that work best for you, no matter what your age or financial picture. A retirement manager creates a customized solution that may include mutual funds, ETFs, annuities and other types of investments. If you’re older and starting to save late in the game, you may be reluctant to seek the help of a professional. You may feel embarrassed or ashamed, but there’s no need. Retirement planners are there to help and many have successfully helped clients in your situation – or, at least the financial planner you work with should be experienced in helping others in your situation. In fact, if you’re starting late, you need the expert advice a professional retirement planner brings to the table.

Living Longer Means Working Longer

One of the biggest reasons for the retirement savings crisis is the longer and overall healthier lives of today’s population. The amount of savings needed now far outpaces what used to be the norm. What’s a great way to improve your own retirement outlook? By working longer. There are potential problems with working harder, however. Economist David Neumark’s research indicates that employers tend to discriminate against older workers. And, there’s the problem of health issues as people age. Still, if at all possible, working longer ensures a more comfortable retirement when the time comes.

Don’t Wait

It’s much easier to do nothing and hope it all comes together in the end. But, the longer you put off, the less you’ll have later on. If you take steps now to increase your savings and reduce spending, you can avoid becoming part of the retirement savings crisis.

Gabby Revel, Founder, writer, editor & administrator at Fertile Content, is a freelance writer who specializes in lifestyle topics, as well as science and technology, investing, and personal finance. She also has a passion for adorable dogs of all kinds. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

What does the new frontier of negative interest rates in the global arena mean for investors?

What does the new frontier of negative interest rates in the global arena mean for investors?

What does the new frontier of negative interest rates in the global arena mean for investors?

 

Cindy Yeap / The Edge Malaysia discusses “What does the new frontier of negative interest rates in the global arena mean for investors?”

“For RHB Research Institute executive chairman and chief economist Lim Chee Sing, NIRP “can only be seen as a temporary expedient to hold up financial markets”, albeit one that has little room to push for more economic growth in this relatively mature stage of the growth cycle.

“That means rising investment premiums and heightened market volatility will likely be the order of the day in the days ahead. Portfolio investors may have no choice but to build some degree of defensiveness into their portfolios to balance out the risks. This implies rising appetite for high-yield stocks,” Lim says.

“Even dividend stocks have caveats in the days ahead, largely due to their rich valuations vis-à-vis tougher conditions to grow at the same rate as before. For example, sin stocks might have to contend with higher taxes; the fees for telecommunications spectrum refarming have yet to be revealed; and consumer stocks have to contend with the possibility of a further tightening of consumer spending. Then, there is the higher labour cost.

“The focus should be on stocks with an improved business model, reasonable earnings visibility, strong cash flow, a dividend policy and, thus, sustainable dividend payments. Of course, one cannot ignore valuations but rich valuation stocks are still susceptible to a selldown should the global economy take a turn for the worse,” Lim adds.

“Gerald Ambrose, CEO of Aberdeen Islamic Asset Management Sdn Bhd, too, noted expensive valuations after a good run in recent years.

“We are keeping a close eye on notable high-yield companies, like the cellular phone companies, the brewers, tobacco companies and the REITs (real estate investment trusts). We’re currently about halfway though the 4Q2015 results season and to be honest, a lot of the better-managed companies have been able to find efficiencies to enable dividend payout to remain high. However, after outperforming for over a year, a lot of the high dividend yield companies are hardly cheap,” he says.”

BOTTOM LINE: Focus your strategy on yield and gold. Gold is an alternative when interest rates are negative adjusted for taxes and inflation.

The Difference Between a Good Analyst and a Great Analyst

I came across this piece from Quandl and it got me thinking about about politics and experts and analysts. Quandl is a data site that offers information on thousands of stocks, with historical data going back decades and futures data to help you forecast trends. They created this graphic to help novice analysts get ahead in the industry.
the Difference Between a Good and a Great Analyst

I love to talk politics. My dad and I conversed and analysed and argued about the Vietnam War and every other thing that was worth discussing. Sometimes they were heated. College was a disappointment. I thought there were would be more conversations in depth much like the ones between dad and me. Sadly, that only occurred in the classroom … infrequently. In my adult life, once in a while there is a conversation I look back on with fondness. Those conversations  with new friends or in depth conversations over a fine dinner. Today, it is hard to have conversations when each participant is holding on to biases and attaching their ego to those opinions.

I want to have conversations with great analysts.

When I was a broker, I made the most money for my clients when I could analyse the facts, and draw conclusions from those facts that were outside the norm. If you saw The Big Short you saw great analysts reach conclusions that were farseeing. The consequences of their conclusions were far reaching.made them huge piles of money.

It is one thing to develop a story about the future of Germany or Cuba if you are a citizen, another thing altogether to draw the conclusion that being Jewish in Germany is existential; it is another thing to be Cuban and realize that the door to Spain is the only escape and it will close soon.

To stand in a place and observe that a country that spends more than it takes in and builds up debt to the point that they can barely pay the interest is a good analyst. To be a great analyst it takes courage to conclude that this cannot stand and it’s time to leave.

Great analysts tell stories that are believable and motivate others to take action. Strive to become a great analyst.

Folks, It’s Happening All Over America!


Are We On the Verge of Another 2008?

That’s the question that Phoenix Capital Research asks.

For six years, the world has operated under a complete delusion that Central Banks somehow fixed the 2008 Crisis.

All of the arguments claiming this defied common sense. A 5th grader would tell you that you cannot solve a debt problem by issuing more debt. Similarly, anyone with a functioning brain could tell you that a bunch of academics with no real-world experience, none of whom have ever started a business or created a single job can’t “save” the economy.

However, there is an AWFUL lot of money at stake in believing these lies. So the media and the banks and the politicians were happy to promote them. Indeed, one could very easily argue that nearly all of the wealth and power held by those at the top of the economy stem from this fiction.

So it’s little surprise that no one would admit the facts: that the Fed and other Central Banks not only don’t have a clue how to fix the problem, but that they actually have almost no incentive to do so.

So here are the facts:

1)   The REAL problem for the financial system is the bond bubble. In 2008 when the crisis hit it was $80 trillion. It has since grown to over $100 trillion.

2)   The derivatives market that uses this bond bubble as collateral is over $555 trillion in size.

3)   Many of the large multinational corporations, sovereign governments, and even municipalities have used derivatives to fake earnings and hide debt. NO ONE knows to what degree this has been the case, but given that 20% of corporate CFOs have admitted to faking earnings in the past, it’s likely a significant amount.

4)   Corporations today are more leveraged than they were in 2007. As Stanley Druckenmiller noted recently, in 2007 corporate bonds were $3.5 trillion… today they are $7 trillion: an amount equal to nearly 50% of US GDP.

5)   The Central Banks are now all leveraged at levels greater than or equal to where Lehman Brothers was when it imploded. The Fed is leveraged at 78 to 1. The ECB is leveraged at over 26 to 1. Lehman Brothers was leveraged at 30 to 1.

6)   The Central Banks have no idea how to exit their strategies. Fed minutes released from 2009 show Janet Yellen was worried about how to exit when the Fed’s balance sheet was $1.3 trillion (back in 2009). Today it’s over $4.5 trillion.

We are heading for a crisis that will be exponentially worse than 2008. The global Central Banks have literally bet the financial system that their theories will work.  They haven’t. All they’ve done is set the stage for an even worse crisis in which entire countries will go bankrupt.

The situation is clear: the 2008 Crisis was the warm up. The next Crisis will be THE REAL Crisis. The Crisis in which Central Banking itself will fail.

If you’re an investor who wants to increase your wealth dramatically, then you NEED to take out a trial subscription to our paid premium investment newsletter Private Wealth Advisory.

Top 5 Senior Friendly Cities in USA

Senior Friendly Cities

Senior Friendly Cities

Retirement is an inevitable phase of life; one that requires decisions to be made in advance. Senior citizens look forward to spending this time in an enjoyable yet affordable location. Senior friendly cities should not only provide citizens with high quality of life but should also not put a strain on the budget. Here is a list of top 5 senior friendly cities to live in

1.Minneapolis – Minnesota

This city is ideal for citizens that are looking for health care facilities and safe environment. The city offers an excellent transportation system with low crime rates and a stable economy that offers ample job opportunities for senior citizens.

With a wide range of music and historic entertainment forums, this city provides an extremely gratifying social life to the citizens. Moreover, it offers several spiritual places that allow citizens to offer their religious prayers in sacred places.

2.Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

With highly efficient transportation system and low crime rates, this city is suitable for citizens that are looking for security and good housing faculties. The economy of the city is also stable and study reveals that it enjoys extremely low levels of unemployment rates and offers high quality health care facilities.

The city is also known as the hub of entertainment and therefore is suitable for citizens who are looking forward at spending an enjoyable yet affordable time in the old age.

3.Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH

Senior citizens who are looking forward to re-training or gaining further education would find this city full of opportunities as it offers more than hundred education institutes. Moreover, the city has a rich cultural heritage that allows senior citizens to visit music and historic venues and theatres that provide high quality entertainment.

The healthcare facilities within the city are of extremely high quality whereas the transportation system is also quite efficient. The city has an extremely alluring social life for citizens who want to engage with peers and friends and to visit various locations across the city. The crime rate within the city is also considerably low.

4.Provo-Orem, Utah

The city offers a healthy lifestyle to the citizens who want to age comfortably. The city offers high levels of security and safety while also provides the citizens with the ability to embark on new careers or start a business.

5.San Francisco, California

This city is ranked considerably high in the health and longevity continuum whereas the environment of the city is ranked as the best across the country and thus is ideal for citizens who want to enjoy extremely pleasant weather conditions around the year.

Apart from these factors, the city has one of the best transportation systems across the world and offers an extremely pleasing social life.  Moreover, the crime rate within the city is also not very high.

Author Bio
Andy is a keen and passionate blogger and he’s been doing it for almost five years now. His favorite topics include senior issues and healthcare. If Andy is not writing, his time is being consumed by distributing Patient Handling items and other merchandises regarding mobility.

Impact of Oil Prices to Housing Prices

In April, 2015 I wrote an article for a Houston client that was never used. Today Zero Hedge has an article titled “NAR Admits Oil Slump Finally Hits Housing Sales” that says in part, “We were told that low oil prices were unequivocally good for America, so it’s odd that, after seeing the weakest growth in pending home sales since Nov 2014, NAR blames “softness in sales on oil-related job losses from low oil prices.” Pending home sales grew 2.1% YoY in October, (way below the 4.3% expected growth and 3.2% growth in September).”

So here is the article that I wrote: Impact of Oil Prices to Housing Prices

Impact of Oil Prices to Housing Prices

Impact of Oil Prices to Housing Prices

A paper delivered in April 2011 by Rachel Ang and Xiaobing Shaui titled “The Financial Impact of Oil Prices on the Housing Market in the Houston Economy” examined the relationship between the impact of oil prices to housing prices, unemployment rate, and population in Houston. The chart above shows as oil prices increased to $80, the population increased from 3.6 million to almost 5.4 million. The census data for the area in 2010 was 5,920,416. The Texas Department of State Health Services projects the population of Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land MSA to be 6,473,316 in 2014.The study concluded, “There is a significant correlation between oil prices and housing prices in Houston.” Duh, you say!

Impact of Oil Prices to Housing Prices

Impact of Oil Prices to Housing Prices

The next question of the research was “To what degree are oil prices correlated with unemployment rate in Houston?” The study concluded “There is a significant correlation between oil prices and unemployment rate in Houston.”

We might conclude from the study that the last time oil prices were this low, population was about 5 million according to the study and according to the census figures about 500,000 higher, so about 5.5 million. That might mean Houston could lose 1 million people or at best remain flat from here. Second, that the last time oil prices were this low, unemployment was near 6% to 7%. Right now Houston has the lowest unemployment of the major cities in the US.

Last June, 2014, oil prices hovered near $100 and since the first of the year has traded between $45 and $55. So far the fall in oil prices hasn’t had much effect except for a cancellation of some major high rise housing projects. Belt tightening as it were. The big question is what’s next for oil? Some suggest our storage capacity in Oklahoma is full and oil will have to be sold into the market to make room for new supply. That would be bad for oil prices. Others are worried about the geo politics of oil. The Mid East is aflame with terrorists close to seizing another choke point in Aden. A cut off in oil could send oil prices rocketing.

Houston seems to be at a crossroads.

If Houston experiences layoffs by the big energy companies in Houston and higher unemployment, housing will feel the impact. The financial stress brings on financial stress in the family leading to higher debt to maintain the standard of living, divorce because of money woes, downsizing to make ends meet, and homeowners wanting to move where jobs are plentiful.

If oil prices rebound, more people will conclude that Houston for a lot of reasons, is a great place to move to. The weather is wonderful most of the year, education is one of the best in the country, and there is a lively arts and culture environment. If sports and outdoor activities are your interests, then Houston has it all. The demand for homes in the $300,000 to $500,000 range will surge and prices of housing will rise to meet the demand.

It all depends on oil. Whatever oil prices do, Houston has been through it and will weather it and come out bigger and stronger. That’s what veteran real estate people know from experience.

A 100 Billion Dollar Fraud

Bill Bonner today compares the fraud of Volkswagen, a 100 Billion Dollar Fraud, to another fraud. As far as we know, nobody suffered as a result of Volkswagen, yet they will pay mightly. Fannie Mae on the other hand…let Bill Bonner tell it:

Yesterday also brought news of another corporate faux pas…

This time, by one of America’s government-sponsored mortgage giants, Fannie Mae.

The case also involved hiding something. But this time, the result was genuine suffering on behalf of millions of U.S. homeowners.

Fortune magazine reports:

On Monday afternoon, Thomas Lund [one of the highest ranking former officials of Fannie Mae] settled charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission back in 2011 that he helped deceive shareholders of Fannie Mae in the run-up to the financial crisis.

The suit claimed that Lund, who was the head of Fannie’s single-family division, helped hide more than $100 billion of subprime exposure from Fannie’s shareholders, allowing it to continue to back more and more risky loans.

Now, here we have a clearer case. Thanks in part to Mr. Lund’s chicanery, the bubble in mortgage finance caught investors unaware. This resulted in losses of at least $8 trillion in the U.S. stock market alone.

Mortgage debt had become a key component of Wall Street collateral. When housing prices fell, many of the big banks were faced with insolvency.

Arguably, in September 2008, this brought the entire financial industry – and the world economy – to the edge of collapse.

Losses in the housing market were colossal and came with great personal suffering. We don’t remember the number. But something like 10 million households found themselves “underwater,” with mortgage debt in excess of the value of their houses.

Millions of people lost their homes when lenders repossessed them.

Remember “jingle mail”?

Underwater homeowners had no choice: They just mailed their house keys back to the mortgage companies. Whole families were living in cheap motels and improvised lodgings.

You’d think Mr. Lund would want to duck. Surely, the SEC – when it ruled this week – would throw the book at him.

But wait. Mr. Lund was in finance, not manufacturing. He was not making cars. He was not making anything!

He was taking cheap money that didn’t belong to him (thanks to the Fed’s EZ money policies) and lending it to people who couldn’t pay it back.
Thomas Lund’s Parting Gift…
So, when Mr. Lund looked up at the judge on Monday… and said, “Judge, what will be my fine?”… the judge didn’t look at Mr. Lund and say, “Boy, you got 99.”

Instead, Fortune continues:

Lund’s penalty for his role: a mere $10,000. What’s more, the penalty won’t even be considered a fine. The SEC agreed to classify the payment officially as a “gift to the U.S. government,” not an actual punishment.

But the worst part is this: Lund won’t even pay the penalty. The agreement allows Fannie to make the payment for him, which it has agreed to do. And don’t forget: The government had to bail out Fannie and still controls it.

Of course, Lund was not a German industrialist. He was a true American crony.


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