In 1993, there was a great debate carried live on national TV between then-Vice President Al Gore and Dallas entrepreneur Ross Perot. The issue was the pros and cons of going global. Equally unusual in terms of today’s political alignment was the right-leaning Perot (as the Donald Trump of his time) arguing against globalism. His position was that the lower wages abroad would result in a “giant sucking sound” of jobs lost to lower-wage countries. Well two decades later, there is no doubt who got it right.Continue reading—>
For a country with little penchant to tax and a greater penchant to spend, financing its fiscal deficit is an ongoing chore. When it comes to financing its deficits, governments have tricks up their collective sleeves – not available to the private sector. What makes it easy to finance a deeply indebted country is that its debt is placed — not sold and doesn’t meet a market test. Hence yields are not a deterrent to further indebtedness.Continue reading—>
Driving the economy to fuller employment is a macroeconomic policy success. But it comes at a cost of higher employee costs and generally reduced profit and stock returns. Some firms, in this global economy, produce with foreign labor and benefit from weaker foreign currencies. Hence, there will be both purring cats and offsetting dogs in diversified portfolios. Investment returns call for targeting those firms gaining cost advantages via foreign labor.Continue reading—>
Baby Boomer entitlements are now upon us with an acceleration in the government debt overhang. In a novel approach to debt containment, the European Central Bank pays high enough prices for existing debt to create a cash bonus to issuers of debt but with adverse incentives and unfortunate side effects.
We must conclude, the rules of propriety have changed regarding debt. We were naïve to believe that when governments borrowed they intended to tax in the future and retire debt. Instead reliance is being placed on the central banks to not just neutralize debtor governments’ debt but award governments a monetary subsidy to keep on issuing debt.
The developed world economies have high government debt loads and as a result retard economic growth. The adoption of central bank quantitative ease (QE) is billed as a monetary policy but in reality is a fiscal policy of debt service reduction. QE creates microscopic bond market yield that in turn creates capital flight. This further lowers income and raises the debt ratio. So efforts to do “Whatever it takes” to save the sovereign are too late and counterproductive.Continue reading—>
It’s long been in the DNA of market observers that when money growth outpaces the economy’s growth, booms are created and so are busts. The latest is the oil boombustology with greater impact than is commonly understood. This raises the question of what is left of growth in the US economy without oil expansion.Continue reading—>
With the U. S. economy having achieved lift-off momentum, the Federal Reserve has ended it epic and historic bond buy known as quantitative ease. The corollary reflex is that interest rates will return to our historic sense of normal, but that is not occurring. The Fed is not all-powerful and is losing pricing control to collective global forces.Continue reading—>
Few who lived through the “runaway” inflation of the 1970s would have dreamed that someday inflation would be a desirable public policy? We have come to find out that it surely beats deflation. But how to achieve inflation has proven to be elusive.Continue reading—>
John Maynard Keynes had an idea that seemed good at the time (the 1930s): Governments can stimulate an economy with what he called “loan-expenditures” — that is, debt-financed spending. This past week, the UK is paying down its World War I debt, as if we needed a reminder. Debt doesn’t go away; it just accumulates, requiring additional taxes to pay the forever-interest meter and miring its own economy as well as their trading partners.Continue reading—>
Not since the days when Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer charged his friends for the privilege of painting his fence has the world gone quite so upside down and backwards as when the European Central Bank pushed market interest rates into negative territory. This means borrowers are being paid to borrow. This, in the mind of the Fed’s Chairwoman serves “the welfare of everyone” though it serves the welfare of no one.Continue reading—>