Household Incomes now equal to 1989 Levels – Rising Rents Bring Back Feudalism Society

The Fed surprised markets on Wednesday with their taper head fake.  Was it because the economy is booming?  No.  Was it because household incomes were growing?  Not exactly.  Was it because inflation is non-existent?  Not if we look at rents or medical care.  In fact, going through the Fed’s statement it is largely holding back on the taper because of fear of budget negotiations in Congress.  That is, we are hitting our debt ceiling yet again and the Fed wants some leverage here.  Yet the larger signs all pointed to a taper if we consider that rents are rising at nearly twice the rate of the overall CPI.  Also, the Census figures for 2012 were released and household income adjusting for inflation is now back to levels last seen in 1989.  Lost decade?  Try a lost generation.  Also, recent data highlighted that the wealthiest in our country are capturing most of the income gains and given this trend and the Fed’s taper-less September, the feudalism trade is fully on.

Household income

The Fed is the housing market.  Investors are dominating the market and this is their number one client.  It is no surprise that a moderate rise in rates has essentially clobbered the “normal” home buyers out in the market.  Regular buyers need every piece of help buying a home because household incomes have done this:

MedianHouseholdIncome

The above chart shows a full lost decade (24 years of weak income growth).  Even in real terms, household income has plunged since the recovery started in 2009:

2007: $55,627

2008: $53,644

2009: $53,285

2010: $51,892

2011: $51,100

2012: $51,017

The Fed is largely playing the market and ironically, these moves are likely to continue the wealth disparity in the US further as investors once again plow into the real estate market to chase yields.  For regular households, more income is going to go to housing on the rental front:

Rent vs CPI

Keep in mind that rising rents with falling incomes is not exactly a good combination.  Rents are rising at nearly twice the pace of the overall inflation rate.  This divergence has accelerated since 2012.  The Fed has made a one way bet here.  The Fed is operating under a QE forever scenario.  Take a look at the Fed balance sheet and tell me if you think a taper is in serious consideration:

fed balance sheet

The Fed is largely playing one big confidence game.  The too big to fail are even larger today.  Real estate investors are virtually half the market in 2013.  Even in expensive California nearly one-third of all home sales are going to investors (in Las Vegas it is closer to 60 percent).

Reconcile all the facts coming out this month:

-Household incomes adjusting for inflation are back to levels last seen in 1989 (24 years ago – a lost generation)

-50 percent of income generated in 2012 is going to the top 10 percent of earners (highest ever since the early 1900s)

-Rents are rising much faster than overall CPI

-Investors are gobbling up an incredibly large share of all real estate purchases

There has been a serious disconnect going on since the recovery hit and these kind of divergent data points suggest we are in a mania like mode.  Investors are largely chasing yield even on many deals that simply do make sense (i.e., cap rates are simply not panning out in many markets).  The Fed taper is merely a magician’s trick.  The Fed can’t taper to any large degree.  It is an end-game in the mortgage market.  The Fed is the housing market.  The Fed is largely focused on helping member banks so it is no surprise that banks are doing exceptionally well and many financial institutions are the largest real estate buyers in the current market.  For now, the investor trade will continue to play out even if people with common sense realize this is simply one giant shell game and the Fed is on its way to a $4 trillion balance sheet.  Doesn’t seen so farfetched that we are entering a modern age of feudalism.

Dr. Housing Bubble
http://www.doctorhousingbubble.com/federal-reserve-taper-household-income-lost-generation/?

The Dollar Losing Ground As The World’s Reserve Currency

Australia and China have announced that they will trade with each other without using the U.S. Dollar.  China and Russia will chip away at the Dollar’s reserve currency status by establishing direct payment in their own currencies with one trading partner after another.  When the world no longer considers the Dollar a necessary reserve currency, we will be in big trouble.  We will no longer be able to endlessly print money and kick the can further down the road.  That will be the end game for the fiat currency system that has been in place since Bretton Woods.

In a previous article by David Stockton on this blog, he makes the following statement about Richard Nixon, which I completely agree with:

“When Richard M. Nixon essentially defaulted on the nation’s debt obligations by finally ending the convertibility of gold to the dollar. That one act — arguably a sin graver than Watergate — meant the end of national financial discipline and the start of a four-decade spree during which we have lived high on the hog, running a cumulative $8 trillion current-account deficit.”

The following is an article that appeared in zerohedge.com that demonstrates how the world is changing and how the U.S. Dollar is unlikely to remain the worlds reserve currency.

Continue reading “The Dollar Losing Ground As The World’s Reserve Currency”

How Hyperinflation will Happen

First of all, I want to ask my readers to please excuse the fact that I haven’t posted here for awhile.  Various activities have kept me quite busy, leaving me little time to write.

I was sent a link to the following post today, and think it is an exceedingly important bit of information that investors need to read and assimilate, so I am passing it on to you.

Writing in zerohedge.com, a site which I have found consistently has valuable financial information, Gonzalo Lira proposes a scenario, the inevitable result of which is hyperinflation in America, and the world.  He distinguishes between Inflation, and Hyperinflation:

But hyperinflation is not an extension or amplification of inflation. Inflation and hyperinflation are two very distinct animals. They look the same—because in both cases, the currency loses its purchasing power—but they are not the same.

Inflation is when the economy overheats: It’s when an economy’s consumables (labor and commodities) are so in-demand because of economic growth, coupled with an expansionist credit environment, that the consumables rise in price. This forces all goods and services to rise in price as well, so that producers can keep up with costs. It is essentially a demand-driven phenomena.

Hyperinflation is the loss of faith in the currency. Prices rise in a hyperinflationary environment just like in an inflationary environment, but they rise not because people want more money for their labor or for commodities, but because people are trying to get out of the currency. It’s not that they want more money—they want less of the currency: So they will pay anything for a good which is not the currency.

He gives the likely scenario that will signal the start of hyperinflation and concludes that the only likely result of the massive deficits this administration is creating, as it seeks to prop up aggregate demand levels by way of fiscal “stimulus” spending—the classic Keynesian move, is hyperinflation.

But this Fed policy—call it “money-printing”, call it “liquidity injections”, call it “asset price stabilization”—has been overwhelmed by the credit contraction. Just as the Federal government has been unable to fill in the fall in aggregate demand by way of stimulus, the Fed has expanded its balance sheet from some $900 billion in the Fall of ’08, to about $2.3 trillion today—but that additional $1.4 trillion has been no match for the loss of credit. At best, the Fed has been able to alleviate the worst effects of the deflation—it certainly has not turned the deflationary environment into anything resembling inflation.

Yields are low, unemployment up, CPI numbers are down (and under some metrics, negative)—in short, everything screams “deflation”.

Therefore, the notion of talking about hyperinflation now, in this current macro-economic environment, would seem . . . well . . . crazy. Right?

Wrong: I would argue that the next step down in this world-historical Global Depression which we are experiencing will be hyperinflation.

I would highly recommend that you take 10 minutes and read the whole article. Being informed about what is likely to occur will enable you to take the necessary steps to be prepared for it. You don’t want to be the deer in the headlights when the car comes around the bend.

Past the Point of No Return?

Casey Research has an article, “The U.S. Government is About to Get Hit with the ‘Perfect Storm’ of Debt. Anyone concerned about the financial health of the US, and the world, should read the article.  Here is an excerpt:

Hearing President Obama’s economic peptalks, you might be under the impression that the U.S. needs to keep spending for just a little while longer to stimulate the economy – but then will swear off big deficits.

Reinforcing the point, to address concerns stirred by a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) forecast that the U.S. government will accumulate total deficits in excess of $6 trillion over the next decade, in February President Obama issued an executive order to create a bipartisan fiscal commission. The commission’s task is to deliver recommendations to the president by December 1 for limiting future deficits to 3% of GDP. (The FY 2009 deficit approached 10% of GDP. The FY 2010 deficit will probably go even higher.)

It’s our contention that the president’s fiscal commission is mostly for show; the 3% limit is just a hoop for the clowns to jump through. U.S. government finances are now past the point of no return; the U.S. government lacks not just the will but the ability to close the gap between revenue and expenditure.

At The Casey Report, we like to focus on facts. Unfortunately, when it comes to government debt, the facts aren’t pretty. They show that the country is already sliding towards financial collapse and hyperinflation in a way not dissimilar to the Weimar Republic.

Let’s first look at recent history to see how reliable CBO forecasts have been. In 1999 the CBO issued its 10-year forecast for 2000-2009 (see charts below). It looked as though we were heading into ten years of prosperity that would rescue us from little worries like the trillions in unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare.

As you can see in the charts titled “CBO Revenue Projections 2000 – 2009” and “CBO Outlay Projections 2000 – 2009,” the CBO expected a budget surplus in every year from 2000 to 2009. And not just that, but that the surpluses would grow at an annual rate of more than 13% and would accumulate to $2.5 trillion over the decade.

The article is quite sobering and indicates that it is possible we have reached the point of no return. Continue reading “Past the Point of No Return?”

Our Unsustainable Debt

Reason Magazine has an article in the June issue about United States debt.

America’s financial situation is unsustainable. In 2009 the federal government spent $3.5 trillion but collected only $2.1 trillion in revenue. The result was a $1.4 trillion deficit, up from $458 billion in 2008. That’s 10 percent of gross domestic product, a level unseen since World War II. Worse, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that we’ll be drowning in red ink for the foreseeable future, with annual deficits averaging $1 trillion during the next decade.

While these figures are dramatic, they pale in comparison to what the federal government owes foreign and domestic investors. According to the CBO, in 2009 America’s public debt reached $7.5 trillion, or 53 percent of GDP, the highest it has been in 50 years. In 2010 the debt will cross the 60 percent threshold, a level at which many economists believe a country is putting itself in financial peril.

The money used to pay our debt comes from the savings of Americans.  There will soon not be enough money from the savings of Americans which will mean that our government will increasingly have to look to foreign investors to loan us money (buy our bonds).  This is not a good financial situation for the US to be in.  We will not be able to sustain it over time.

Fiscal prudency would require that the US start generating budget surpluses to repay our debt.  Following the course laid out by the current administration the future looks bleak.  This administration has plans to run the US debt up to unprecedented levels rather than reducing it.

Probable result of this activity: significant inflation, weakness of American currency against other currencies, an extraordinarily large amount of our gross national product going to service the huge debt burden, loss of confidence in America, inability of our economy to generate innovative new industries, inability to finance new construction and a host of other economic maladies.

We need to fire Keynes and hire Hayek as soon as possible.

Read the whole article in Reason Magazine.

The Treasury Now Has A Vested Interest In Tanking Stock Market

There is an article on the Zero Hedge Financial Analysis Web Page relating to the fact that the Treasury is running out of options.   It has to move quickly out of risky assets into risk-free bill holdings.  That will likely result in a stock market crash. This is a technical article, so I have attempted to summarize the conclusions in this space. You should read the whole article.

In other words, a stock market crash is long-overdue if the Treasury does not want to face a major spike in rates and drop in Treasury demand in the immediate future.

First, and this is no surprise to anyone, the US is on collision course with an unmitigated funding disaster. As the chart below demonstrates, the US has been issuing roughly $147 billion a month for the past 17 months, in a period in which total US Federal debt has increased from $10 trillion to $12.6 trillion. With recently passed healthcare reform, look for the red line indicating total debt to go increasingly exponential.

Like we said, nothing surprising here as we spend ourselves into bankruptcy. The only reason why this has not escalated yet has been the Fed’s ability to keep rates low on the short end, translating into modest low long-end rates as well, despite the curve being at record wides. The progression over time of average interest rates by Bills, Notes and Bonds, as presented by Treasury Direct, is shown below. This should also not come as much of a surprise, as it has been well known that the Fed’s only prerogative in the past two years has been to buy every yielding security in sight to keep rates low.

The conclusion of the article is that the Treasury needs to generate a demand for Treasury Bills or become insolvent. This can be done in one of two ways. 1) Raise interest rates on TBills, which the Fed does not want to do. 2) Cause a situation where capital will rush to Treasury Bills for safety.

The article concludes:

The reason for this: 1) rates on Bills can only go 0.2% lower before hitting zero, and 2) nobody wants Bills anymore. China certainly has been selling Bills, and US citizens, balking at money market rates, are definitely not going to lock their money into Bills which yield the same if not less. The Treasury’s natural response – bringing back the SFP 56-Day Cash Management Bills back. Today, the Treasury auctioned off the 5th $25 billion SFP chunk, on its way to filling up the $200 billion CMB tank full. Yet this is merely a stop-gap measure, and it is responsible for the slight bump higher in February Bill holdings compared to January. Alas, the Treasury will need to generate wholesale interest for Bills in some way in the near future, or else it will drown itself in the vicious cycle combination of increasing interest payments pushing rates higher, etc. And what creates a scramble for Bills better than anything?

Why a massive market crash of course.

Are we predicting one will happen? Of course not; in this market what is expected to happen is that last thing that will happen. We merely point out the logic and what the empirical evidence is demonstrating. Either the Treasury will need to expand the SFP program to far beyond the $200 billion cap, or it will need to get rates on Notes and Bills even lower at a time when the broader market is already expecting a rise in Rates. And in the meantime, it will continue issuing roughly $150-200 billion in debt each and every month to fund in increasingly bankrupt government.

What we can predict with certainty, is that the Treasury is on an inevitable collision course with insolvency, courtesy of a government run amok. And absent a major shift in capital out of risky assets into risk-free equivalents, it is going to get increasingly more difficult to control the runaway beast of rabid and uncontrollable deficit spending.

Read the whole article. We have just taken on a huge spending program through the new Obamacare health plan that will greatly exacerbate the problem. We have to understand that the people running our government have no intention of trying to keep the U.S. solvent, even as our AAA credit rating is in jeopardy. To be informed is to be prepared.

Warren Buffet has a better credit rating than the USA

By Daniel Kruger and Bryan Keogh

March 22 (Bloomberg) — The bond market is saying that it’s safer to lend to Warren Buffett than Barack Obama.

Warren Buffet
Warren Buffet

Two-year notes sold by the billionaire’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. in February yield 3.5 basis points less than Treasuries of similar maturity, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Procter & Gamble Co., Johnson & Johnson and Lowe’s Cos. debt also traded at lower yields in recent weeks, a situation former Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. chief fixed-income strategist Jack Malvey calls an “exceedingly rare” event in the history of the bond market.

The $2.59 trillion of Treasury Department sales since the start of 2009 have created a glut as the budget deficit swelled to a post-World War II-record 10 percent of the economy and raised concerns whether the U.S. deserves its AAA credit rating. The increased borrowing may also undermine the first-quarter rally in Treasuries as the economy improves.

“It’s a slap upside the head of the government,” said Mitchell Stapley, the chief fixed-income officer in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at Fifth Third Asset Management, which oversees $22 billion. “It could be the moment where hopefully you realize that risk is beginning to creep into your credit profile and the costs associated with that can be pretty scary.” Continue reading “Warren Buffet has a better credit rating than the USA”