Ever since the beginning of the financial crisis and quantitative easing, the question has been before us: How can the Federal Reserve maintain zero interest rates for banks and negative real interest rates for savers and bond holders when the US government is adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt every year via its budget deficits? Not long ago the Fed announced that it was going to continue this policy for another 2 or 3 years. Indeed, the Fed is locked into the policy. Without the artificially low interest rates, the debt service on the national debt would be so large that it would raise questions about the US Treasury’s credit rating and the viability of the dollar, and the trillions of dollars in Interest Rate Swaps and other derivatives would come unglued.
In other words, financial deregulation leading to Wall Street’s gambles, the US government’s decision to bail out the banks and to keep them afloat, and the Federal Reserve’s zero interest rate policy have put the economic future of the US and its currency in an untenable and dangerous position. It will not be possible to continue to flood the bond markets with $1.5 trillion in new issues each year when the interest rate on the bonds is less than the rate of inflation. Everyone who purchases a Treasury bond is purchasing a depreciating asset. Moreover, the capital risk of investing in Treasuries is very high. The low interest rate means that the price paid for the bond is very high. A rise in interest rates, which must come sooner or later, will collapse the price of the bonds and inflict capital losses on bond holders, both domestic and foreign.
The question is: when is sooner or later? The purpose of this article is to examine that question.
The national unemployment rate gets lots of attention, and lately more attention has been paid to the workforce participation rate since more Americans have given up looking for a job, but we can also see that an astounding 100 million Americans don’t have jobs.
Specifically, these are people who are part of the civilian over-16 non-institutional population who are either unemployed or not part of the workforce. According to the April jobs report, the number of jobless American stood at 100.9 million.
That’s an all-time record and it’s an increase of 26.2 million over the last 12 years. It’s as if we absorbed the entire adult population of Canada and not a single person had a job.
The numbers are staggering. The jobs-to-population ratio peaked 12 years ago. If we were to have the same ratio today, we would need 15.3 million more jobs, or 23.7 million fewer people.
(Note: The chart above is the Civilian Over-16 Non-Institutional Population minus the seasonally adjusted Civilian Workforce.)
Phi Beta Iota: As a number, that is almost precisely half the eligible voters in the USA.
… Are what again? As the following graphic from IBD demonstrates, for the first time in history, a majority of jobless workers over 25 have attended some college, and now outnumber those without a job who simply have a high school diploma or less. But at least those in the fomer category have tens of thousands of non-dischargeable debt to show for it.
.. Are what again? As the following graphic from IBD demonstrates, for the first time in history, a majority of jobless workers over 25 have attended some college, and now outnumber those without a job who simply have a high school diploma or less. But at least those in the fomer category have tens of thousands of non-dischargeable debt to show for it.
A new study has raised fresh concerns about the safety of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, concluding that fracking chemicals injected into the ground could migrate toward drinking water supplies far more quickly than experts have previously predicted.
More than 5,000 wells were drilled in the Marcellus between mid-2009 and mid-2010, according to the study, which was published in the journal Ground Water two weeks ago. Operators inject up to 4 million gallons of fluid, under more than 10,000 pounds of pressure, to drill and frack each well.
Scientists have theorized that impermeable layers of rock would keep the fluid, which contains benzene and other dangerous chemicals, safely locked nearly a mile below water supplies. This view of the earth’s underground geology is a cornerstone of the industry’s argument that fracking poses minimal threats to the environment.
But the study, using computer modeling, concluded that natural faults and fractures in the Marcellus, exacerbated by the effects of fracking itself, could allow chemicals to reach the surface in as little as “just a few years.”
“Simply put, [the rock layers] are not impermeable,” said the study’s author, Tom Myers, an independent hydrogeologist whose clients include the federal government and environmental groups.
“The Marcellus shale is being fracked into a very high permeability,” he said. “Fluids could move from most any injection process.”
POGO Source Page, May 8, 2012
Americans are tightening their belts, and it’s time for the U.S. government to do the same. In light of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the subsequent failure of the “Super Committee,” Congress is still desperately seeking ways to reduce spending. To this end, the Project On Government Oversight and Taxpayers for Common Sense have closely examined the proposed national security budget and found plenty of wasteful spending. Adjusted for inflation, U.S. national security spending is higher than at any point during the Cold War and accounts for more than half of all discretionary spending. However, the U.S. faces no existential threats as it did then, and U.S. defense needs are changing as the military draws down its presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Still, military spending at the Department of Defense (DoD) has increased by an astounding 95 percent from FY 2001 to the FY 2013 estimate, adjusted for inflation. Nuclear weapons spending at the Department of Energy (DOE) is projected to grow by billions of dollars over the next decade. And the federal government’s reliance on contractors, most of whom work on national security-related work and cost on average nearly twice as much as the federal workers who do the same job, is also driving budgets through the roof. It’s clear that any serious proposal to shrink the U.S. deficit must include cuts to the national security budget.
The following list updates our recommendations from 2011 and details nearly $700 billion in savings over the next ten years, including cuts to wasteful weapons systems as well as limits on out-of-control contract spending. We found programs for which there are cheaper yet equally effective alternatives, and programs that can be cancelled or delayed without putting America’s security at risk.
The Project On Government Oversight is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.
Taxpayers for Common Sense is a nonpartisan budget watchdog serving as an independent voice for American taxpayers. Its mission is to achieve a government that spends taxpayer dollars responsibly and operates within its means. TCS works with individuals, policymakers, and the media to increase transparency, expose and eliminate wasteful and corrupt subsidies, earmarks, and corporate welfare, and hold decision makers accountable.
Source and More Data
Lord James of Blackheath, House of Lords [VIDEO 11:10] from 2010, now circulating
Breaking news Lord James of Blackheath has spoken in the House of Lords holding evidence of three transactions of 5 Trillion each and a transaction of 750,000 metric tonnes of gold and has called for an investigation.
I think there are three possible conclusions that may come from it. I think there may have been a massive piece of money laundering committed by a major government which ought to know better and that it has effectively undermined the integrity of the British bank the Royal Bank of Scotland, in doing so. The second alternative is that a major American department has an agency that has gone rogue on it because it has been wound up and has created a structure out of which they are seeking to get at least 50 billion Euros as a payoff. And the third possibility is that this is an extraordinarily elaborate fraud which has not been carried out but which has been prepared in order to provide a threat to one government or more if they don’t pay them off. So there are three possibilities and this all needs a very urgent review.
My Lords, it starts in April and May of 2009, with the alleged transfer to the United Kingdom, to HSBC of a sum of 5 trillion dollars and seven days later, in comes another 5 trillion dollars to HSBC, and then 3 weeks later another 5 trillion. 5 trillion in each case. Sorry. A total of 15 trillion dollars is alleged to have been passed into the hands of HSBC for onward transit to the Royal Bank of Scotland and we need to look at where this came from and what the history of this money is. And I have been trying to sort out the sequence by which this money has been created and from where it has come from for a long time.
In this interview, Ellis Martin speaks with Jim Sinclair about the “positive employment outlook” reported by the government and the media and the exuberance associated with it. Where do these numbers come from? Mr. Sinclair also has compelling advice for the listener regarding how to protect oneself from the ultimate endgame related to Quantitative Easing and the decline of the dollar. What is China’s direct influence or input in QE 3? Is it in their best interests to prop up the dollar and the US economy? How relevent is the Yuan? Listen to another unedited interview.
If you have any money and you want to understand the lies that “your” government tells you with statistics, subscribe to John Williams shadowstats.com.
John Williams is the best and utterly truthful statistician that we the people have.
The charts below come from John Williams Hyperinflation Report, January 25, 2012. The commentary is supplied by me.
Here is the chart of real average weekly earnings deflated by the US government’s own measure of inflation, which as I pointed out in my recent column, Economics Lesson 1, understates true inflation.
This chart (below) shows the behavior of inflation as measured by “our” government’s official measure, CPI-U (bottom line) and John Williams measure which uses the official methodology of when I was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury. The gap between the top and bottom lines represents the amount of money that was due to Social Security recipients and others whose income was indexed to inflation that was diverted by the government to wars, police state, and bankers’ bailouts.
This next chart shows the gains that gold and the Swiss franc have made against the US dollar. The Swiss franc is the top line and gold is the bottom. When gold and the Swiss franc rise, the dollar is falling. Notice that during President Reagan’s first term, when I was in the Treasury, gold and the Swiss franc dropped, that is, the dollar rose in purchasing power. Obviously, the supply-side policy that Reagan implemented strengthened the US dollar. It was only with the advent of the Bush policy of endless trillion dollar wars, reaffirmed by Obama, that the US dollar and economy collapsed relative to gold and hard currencies.
The recent drop in the Swiss franc is due to the Swiss government announcing that the country’s exports could not tolerate any further run up in the franc’s value, and that the Swiss central bank would print new francs to accommodate future inflows of dollars and euros. In other words, Switzerland was forced to import US inflation in order to protect its exports.
Here is nonfarm payroll employment. As you can see, the US economy has been in recession for four years despite the easiest monetary policy and largest government deficits in US history.
Here is consumer confidence. Do you see a recovery despite all the recovery hype from politicians and the financial media?
Here is housing starts. Do you see a recovery?
Here is real GDP deflated according to the methodology used when I was in the US Treasury.
Here is real retail sales deflated by the traditional, as contrasted with the current, substitution-based, measure of inflation.
These graphs courtesy of John Williams make it completely clear that there is no economic recovery. In place of recovery, we have hype from politicians, Wall Street, and the presstitute media. The “recovery” is no more real than Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” or Iranian “nukes” or the Obama regime’s phony story of assassinating last year an undefended Osama bin Laden, allegedly the mastermind of Islamic terrorism, left by al Qaeda to the mercy of a US Seal team, a man who was widely reported to have died from renal failure in December 2001, a man who denied any responsibility for 9/11.
A government and media that will deceive you about simple things such as inflation, unemployment, and GDP growth, will lie to you about everything.
Phi Beta Iota: Here is the paraphrase as reported previously, from Ellen Seidman, former member of the National Economic Council:
CIA reports only focus on foreign economic conditions. They don’t do domestic economic conditions and so I cannot get a strategic analysis that compares and contrasts strengths and weaknesses of the industries I am responsible for. On the other hand, Treasury, Commerce, and the Fed are terrible at the business of intelligence — they don’t know how to produce intelligence.
 Seidman was speaking to the Open Source Lunch Club on January 1, 1994. Her observations were subsequently reported in OSS Notices 94001 dated February 21, 1994
Europe: Updates. In an interview with a French daily on 25 December, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde stressed that Europe’s financial crisis is turning into “a crisis of confidence in public debt and the solidity of the financial system.
Greece: According to an IMF source involved in discussions with Greece, the situation in Athens is “deteriorating” and “a further 10-15 billion euros ($13.1-19.6 billion) still needs to be found.” Banks may be asked to agree to write off 65 % instead of 50% of Greece’s debt.
France: The French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) said on 26 December that there were 29,000 new job seekers “without any occupation” in November, up 1.1% over October. The year-on-year increase reached 5.2%. In total, 2,844,800 people did not have any occupation, the highest such figure since November 1999.
An economist at the French Observatory of Economic Conditions speculated that France’s unemployment rate — which currently stands at 9.3% — will reach 10.7% by the end of 2012, and predicted that Paris will not succeed in bringing the deficit down to 3% of GDP by 2013.
Spain: At a news conference on 26 December, Spanish Economy Minister Luis De Guindos said that the Spanish economy had suffered a “relapse” and would record negative growth in the fourth quarter of 2011. De Guindos warned that “the next two months are not going to be easy, neither from a growth nor a jobs point of view.”
Comment: According to the Financial Times and multiple economists the fate of the euro depends on what happens in Italy. This week Italy intends to auction bonds worth Euros 20 billion. The market reaction to the auction will be an important indicator of whether the central bankers have found a way to stabilize the financial crisis, or have just made it worse.
All analysts of European economics predict a recession in 2012. They differ only about how severe it will be. In an integrated global economy, the ripple effects from Europe will drag the US and the Chinese economies, among all others.
Phi Beta Iota: Christine Lagarde, perhaps because she is a woman with a smaller ego and larger intuition than most men, appears to be the first Epoch A leader to “get” that we are all calling into question the very existence of the Western financial system that is rooted in fraud, waste, and abuse. When she begins to point to Iceland as an example, and to demand that Western countries arrest and try Goldman Sachs, Morgan, Citi-Bank, Bank of America, and other officials for high crimes against the public, the healing can begin. Until then, the West is avoiding the fundamentals.
We are going to move from denial to realization. Physical world events will drive the process of realization. The primary trend is between stability and instability. We are moving from a multi-class system running from Super Elite to Unperson into a model of have’s and have-nots, the unpersons. Labor has become a problem because less than 500 million are involved in life support activities thereby leaving more than 7 billion people very vulnerable to dependency (and treated as expendable containers). We are watching a redistribution process bound towards divestiture as more people become unpersons. Destruction of paper assets, debt collapse, bank failure, and war are all part of the redistribution process. With more unpeople, it becomes easier to reduce population through death and abuse. Our current economic structure has at least six trajectories of support; the physical world, human capital, transportation, technology, rule of law,and money.
Fukishima, Katrina, Gulf of Mexico oil spill — all examples of entire populations treated as “unpersons.”
An economic model that seeks to include the cost of negative externalities into the pricing of goods and services. Supporters of this type of economic system feel products and activities that direct or indirectly cause harmful consequences to living beings and/or the environment should be accordingly taxed to reflect the somewhat hidden costs.