Posts tagged economy
Posts tagged economy
February 6th, 2012
In one of the most shamefully disingenuous reports we’ve seen in years, the US Labor Department released the latest employment figures on Friday showing that the headline US unemployment rate had fallen to 8.3%.
Champagne and sound bites were pre-positioned in Washington as the self-congratulatory praise flowed like the bubbly. President Obama, beaming like he’d just caught the winning touchdown pass, told the American people on Sunday that he ‘deserved’ a second term.
They call it the headline unemployment rate for a reason… it’s the only number that the papers tend to run. All weekend long, mainstream press ran headlines like:
“Unemployment rate falls to 8.3%; fifth straight monthly decline” (LA Times)
“Jobless rate drops to lowest level in almost three years” (MSNBC.com)
“Unemployment rate drops to 8.3 percent” (Christian Science Monitor)
“Hiring surges in January; jobless rate at 8.3 pct.” (Atlanta Journal Constitution)
“Jobless Rate Falls to 8.3%, Altering Face of Campaign” (New York Times)
“Unemployment report: January job gains have economists rethinking outlooks” (Washington Post)
Needless to say, few outlets with any meaningful reach covered the real story behind the employment figures– the Labor Department simply took 1.2 million Americans out of the labor force. In other words, the unemployment rate fell because the Labor Department deliberately did not count 1.2 million unemployed people.
[Note: I highly recommend that you read ZeroHedge.com, one of the only sources of undistorted economic reality on the Internet.]
It’s the same Orwellian style logic (WAR IS PEACE. DEBT IS WEALTH.) that prevailed during the Soviet Union– outright lies and deceitful reports painting a rosy picture of the economy and its glorious leaders, masking a dismal reality. It’s nothing but propaganda in the worst form.
This has been going on for years in the United States, as evidenced by the chart below:
By Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com
1 FEBRUARY 2012
If you only got your news from the mainstream media (MSM), it’s easy to understand whyso many people think the economy is not all that bad. For example, yesterday, I heard the “R” word a lot. No, I am not talking about recession but “recovery.” This is preposterous when you consider the latest report from the Case-Shiller Home Price Index that was released yesterday. The spin from the MSM said home prices were down from October to November by 1.3%. Makes you think—ok, not too bad. The real story is home prices declined on average by nearly 4% year over year. A quote straight from the actual Case-Shiller press release said, “For a second consecutive month, 19 of the 20 cities covered by the indices also saw home prices decrease. The 10- and 20-City Composites posted annual returns of -3.6% and -3.7% versus November 2010, respectively. These are worse than the -3.2% and -3.4% respective rates reported for October.” (Click here for the complete Case-Shiller press release.)
Are you getting this? The real estate market is getting worse. The only city that saw an increase was the pork capital of the world—Washington D.C., and prices were only up by a paltry .5% year over year! All the folks I heard, yesterday, on the MSM talked as if the so-called “recovery” was alive and well, when the evidence shows unfolding disaster. Please keep in mind, home prices are falling despite the fact the Federal Reserve is suppressing interest rates. A 30-year mortgage is going for around 4%. What do you think will happen when rates rise to around 6.5% (a very good historical rate)? Don’t you think home prices will continue to slide?
Yesterday, I heard at least two different “experts” say the economy was “getting better.” The latest news about the Baltic Dry Index (BDI is mostly a measurement of global shipping rates) says just the opposite. Brandon Smith, from Alt-Market.com, says the BDI “is plummeting like a wingless 747 into the swampy mire of what I believe will soon be historical lows.” Smith says this is foretelling bad times, not good. (Click here to read his most excellent post.)
Another ominous sign was brought to us by the Federal Reserve last week. It announced it will hold a key interest rate to near 0% through 2014 instead of 2013. Why is the Fed urgently extending this rate now? Couldn’t the Fed have told us next year it was extending the 0% interest rate for another year? Why now? Because the economy sucks and they see it sucking for at least three more years. This is NOT a recovery, and the Fed basically admitted it.
February 1st, 2012
The latest Case-Shiller numbers released yesterday showed that the US residential housing market is still very weak. After three straight months of declines, home prices are now at 2003 levels. Duh.
To some, it was a shocking revelation. The pundits I saw discussing it yesterday practically had a seizure they were in such disbelief. CNBC even ran an article on their website in response, extolling the strong fundamentals of US housing.
Let’s look at those fundamentals:
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by Gonzalo Lira
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2012
This is the problem Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve currently have—and it’s their own stupid fault: They have promised to maintain interest rates at effectively 0% until at least the end of 2014—they have in fact announced this zero interest-rate policy (ZIRP) as the hallmark of their strategy to reignite the economy—
—but then they’re surprised when businesses aren’t borrowing more. They’re surprised when lending is in fact contracting. They’re surprised when the American economy doesn’t start borrowing—and thus growing—like crazy.
So the American economy obviously doesn’t benefit from ZIRP. In fact, it stagnates because of ZIRP.
Leaving aside the deplorable notion that debt-fueled consumption is “growth”, businesses are not going to borrow to expand during the announced period of ZIRP, because business owners will say, “I’m really not sure if my market is growing—and since I can get a low-interest loan for at least the next three years, I think I’m going to hold off on any expansion of my business, hold off on hiring new workers, and instead wait and see if the economy really does pick up. If it doesn’t pick up, I won’t have more debt to service. And if it does pick up, I can always borrow and expand later.”
“I can always borrow and expand later”: That’s what every sensible business owner is saying today. Why eat free chocolate now—when I can eat it for free later? Why borrow for free now—when I can borrow for free later?
And of course, later becomes never.
So then, if businesses—and the wider economy—do not benefit from ZIRP, who does?
Why, the banks and the Federal government! (Yeah, I know:How am I not surprised … ?)
See, the banks get their 0% loan from the Federal Reserve—and promptly go out and buy U.S. Treasury bonds, yielding 2% or so. Sure, a 2% yield is nothing—but it’s a whole lot of something when it is risk-free, and adds massively to the banks’ bottom line. And ultimately to the banksters’ bonuses. After all, the Federal government isn’t borrowing twenty bucks for gas: It’s borrowing $1.6 trillion a year—every year.
Thus the Federal government, that glutton for debt, also benefits from ZIRP.
Worse still, ZIRP is a disincentive to reduce the deficit and the overall debt. Since Bernanke and the Federal Reserve are putting out 0% money over the next three years, the Federal government will be under zero-pressure to reduce the deficit and pay down the debt. In fact, ZIRP encourages fiscal irresponsibility. After all, it is the rising coupon payment which eventually leads to rising debt levels being choked off.
ZIRP doesn’t eliminate the Minsky Moment—that is, the Day of Debt Reckoning. Rather, ZIRP merely postpones it—while making it a whole lot bigger.
Thus the Federal Reserve’s zero interest-rate policy does not help businesses expand and thus hire more workers to restart the economy; it does not encourage banks to lend to economically productive sectors; and it does not get the Federal government to begin reducing the deficit, let alone the debt.
In fact, ZIRP makes all these problems worse.
Podcast: Lew Rockwell talks to Bob Wenzel about Ron Paul, the establishment, government insider-trading, and the scary economic future.
by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BRUSSELS January 30, 2012
BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgian trade unions organizing a nationwide strike Monday called on leaders attending the European Union summit in Brussels to move away from austerity measures and start boosting growth and employment.
The 27 EU leaders converging on Brussels for their informal summit were largely unaffected by a train and public transport strike, even though some had to come through a small military airport instead of the main one in Brussels.
“We used our military plane — very small — but it functions. It is quite cold, but nevertheless we came,” said Finland Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen.
Belgium’s three main unions have called for efforts to reinvigorate the European economy by centering on taxing multinationals and boosting public investment instead of slashing public services and imposing a pension reform that forces people to work longer and cuts payments in some cases.
One of the country’s airports was closed and Brussels’ international airport suffered cancellations, delays and diversions. Traffic delays were limited since many people either worked from home or took a day off.
Trade union leaders converged at the summit building for a small demonstration, demanding a better deal for the workers.
“What we need is growth. Growth creates jobs. And you don’t get growth when you suck the oxygen out of the economy by austerity, austerity, and then some,” said Christian Democrat union leader Marc Leemans.
Overall, 23 million people are jobless across the EU, 10 percent of the active population.
Bernard Lietaer has been studying the implementation of monetary systems for over thirty years. Trained as a civil engineer and economist, he has worked as a central banker, fund manager, university professor and consultant to governments, corporations and communities. He travels the globe researching and speaking about currency systems and is the author of numerous books and articles.
In his 2011 PopTech presentation, he argues against a monoculture of currency – fiat currency, that is, such as the dollar, euro, or yuan – in favor of a high diversity of currencies such as the WIR, Dora, and other local currencies, which he believes, are shown to provide high resilience to communities and nations.
He posits that it’s been scientifically proven that we need more than one currency, noting that patriarchal cultures have always had monopolies of a central currency, and matrifocal societies have always had a multiplicity of currencies. He believes we can rebalance our current monetary system woes through a rebalancing of the masculine and feminine in the money domain and that “political democracy without monetary democracy just doesn’t work”.
Submitted by: shiracoffee