Economic Outlook

Marc Faber: Not Much Good News for Canada

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 1.47.41 PMFaber says U.S. equity markets are currently “extremely oversold” and that a short-term rebound may be in the mix, but he argues more pain is likely to emerge. He also highlights precious metals as the one asset class that may offer a glimmer of hope for commodity-producing economies such as Canada and some safety for investors looking to shield their investments.
“There’s not much other good news for Canada at the present time,” he said.

….read it all HERE

Jim Rogers: Bullish on dollar as markets may have more turmoil in next year or two

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 8.36.28 AMJim Rogers of Rogers Holdings for his take on the Yuan devaluation and the global markets.

Jim Rogers: First of all, this is not devaluation. I am not sure why people outside China are saying that for many years. The American government, IMF, me and others have said please let your market determine what happens to the currency. So finally the Chinese said okay and the Yuan went down 2% one day and 1% another day. But that is not devaluation.

The Japanese Yen is down 50%……

…read more excerpts HERE

 

Kim Jong Un Declares War as Armstrongs War Cycle Turns Up

cycleofwar-2014

Martin Armstrongs many articles on the war cycle includes As the War Cycle Turns Up – Middle East Is Going Nuts written by Martin on August 21st/2015. Yet here we are today with a new threat coming from Kim Jong Un in this article Kim Jong Un has declared a ‘quasi-state of war’ against South Korea. As Business Insider writes North and South Korea appeared headed toward another clash, as Seoul refused an ultimatum that it halt anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts by Saturday afternoon or face military action and North Korea said its troops were on a war footing.” 

To read the full article on Kim Jong Un’s threat go HERE

 

 

 

 

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

The government released their monthly CPI report this week. Even though it came in at an annualized rate of 3.6%, they and their mouthpieces in the corporate mainstream media dutifully downplayed the uptrend. They can’t let the plebs know the truth. That might upend their economic recovery storyline and put a crimp into their artificial free money, zero interest rate, stock market rally. If they were to admit inflation is rising, the Fed would be forced to raise rates. That is unacceptable in our rigged .01% economy. There are banker bonuses, CEO stock options, corporate stock buyback earnings per share goals and captured politician elections at stake.

The corporate MSM immediately shifted the focus to the annual CPI figure of 0.1%. That’s right. Your government keepers expect you to believe the prices you pay to live your everyday life have been essentially flat in the last year. Anyone who lives in the real world, not the BLS Bizarro world of models, seasonal adjustments, hedonic adjustments, and substitution adjustments, knows this is a lie. The original concept of CPI was to measure the true cost of maintaining a constant standard of living. It should reflect your true inflation of out of pocket costs to live a daily existence in this country.

Instead, it has become a manipulated statistic using academic theories as a cover to systematically under-report the true level of inflation. The purpose has been to cut annual cost of living adjustments to Social Security and other government benefits, while over-estimating the true level of GDP. Artificially low inflation figures allow the mega-corporations who control the country to keep wage increases to workers low. Under-reporting the true level of inflation also allows the Federal Reserve to keep their discount rate far lower than it would be in an honest free market. The Wall Street banks, who own and control the Federal Reserve, are free to charge 18% on credit card balances while paying .25% to savers. The manipulation of the CPI benefits the vested interests, impoverishes the masses, and slowly but surely contributes to the destruction of our economic system.

A deep dive into Table 2 from the BLS reveals some truth and uncovers more lies. Their weighting of everyday living expenditures is warped and purposefully misleading. Let’s look at the annual increases in some food items we might consume in the course of a month, living in this empire of lies:

  • Ground Beef – 10.1%
  • Roast Beef – 11.8%
  • Steak – 11.1%
  • Eggs – 21.8%
  • Chicken – 3.7%
  • Coffee – 3.4%
  • Sugar – 4.2%
  • Candy – 4.6%
  • Snacks – 3.5%
  • Salt & Seasonings – 5.3%
  • Food Away From Home – 3.0%

Despite these documented increases, the BLS says food inflation only ran at 1.8% in the last year. They show large decreases in pork, seafood, dairy, and vegetable prices. I grocery shop every week. I buy milk, fish, and vegetables and the prices have not fallen. The price of pork products has decreased from all-time highs, but is still well above prices from a few years ago. The BLS fraudulently keeps the food price increase lower by assuming you switch from beef to pork when the price of beef soars. That assumption does not lower the price of food. The assumption essentially builds in a lower standard of living for you in their model of the world. The other ridiculous assumption is the weighting for food eaten away from home. Giving this a weighting of 5.8% is outrageous when everyone knows obese Americans are chowing down at Taco Bell and the millions of other purveyors of toxic food sludge multiple times per day.

If you are like me, you probably need to live someplace. Food and shelter are the most basic of needs in a society. But according to the BLS they account for less than 50% of your expenses. Let’s examine some shelter related costs to see how badly the BLS is lying in this area:

  • Rent – 3.5%
  • Owner’s Equivalent Rent – 3.0%
  • Insurance – 3.1%
  • Water, Sewer, Trash – 4.7%
  • Household Operations – 3.6%

There is so much wrong with the BLS data, I don’t know where to start. The rental market has been on fire since 2012. Builders are erecting apartments at a breakneck pace. Independent, non-captured, neutral real estate organizations show rents surging to all time highs, growing by 5.1% on an annual basis. Real rents in the real world have grown by 14% since 2012. The BLS says they’ve grown by 9%. Who do you believe?

38322 a

It’s funny how the mysterious owner’s equivalent rent calculation spits out a 3% increase in the last year. National home prices, based on

Case Shiller data and NAR data shows prices up between 5% and 10% in the last year and up by 25% since 2012. Mortgage rates have risen to 4% from the low 3% range. Property taxes are soaring across the country as indebted localities rape taxpayers to pay for their gold plated government benefits and pensions. Evidently the BLS just ignores prices, mortgage payments, and real estate taxes when calculating their lies.

 

The final outrage is the weighting applied by the BLS to the owners equivalent rent. It accounts for 24% of the CPI calculation, virtually the same as it did in 2007. In case you haven’t noticed, the home ownership rate has plunged to 22 year lows since 2007, as millions of foreclosures booted people out of homes and millions of millennials are so loaded with student loan debt and stuck with low paying Obama jobs that home ownership is a distant dream. How can the BLS continue to weight home ownership at the same level when the percentage of rental units has soared?

38322 b

There is no question the BLS should have dramatically increased the weighting of rental housing. In reality, the large increases in rental rates and the surge of rental households reflects a much higher inflation rate than is being reported by the government. The BLS figure is a blatant lie. The recent report from the Center for Housing Studies reveals the falsity of the government reported propaganda. Over 20.7 million renter households (49.0%) pay more than 30% of their income on housing. More than a quarter of all renter households, or 11.2 million, spend more than 50% of their income on housing. The median US renter household earned $32,700 in 2013 and spent $900 per month on housing costs. Renter housing costs are gross rents, which include contract rents and utilities. If the median renter household spends 33% of their income on housing costs how can the BLS give it only a 7.2% weighting in the CPI calculation?

38322 c

The Center for Housing Studies report drives a stake into the heart of the manipulated, politically massaged, false data put out by the BLS to keep the masses sedated and their bosses fat, happy and rich:

Over the span of just 10 years, the share of renters aged 25–34 with cost burdens (paying more than 30 percent of their incomes for housing) increased from 40 percent to 46 percent, while the share with severe burdens (paying more than 50 percent of income) rose from 19 percent to 23 percent. During roughly the same period, the share of renters aged 25–34 with student loan debt jumped from 30 percent in 2004 to 41 percent in 2013, with the average amount of debt up 50 percent, to $30,700.

The faux journalists in the dying legacy media act baffled by the continued real decline in retail sales when the answer is staring them right in the face. True inflation in essential living expenses combined with declining real wages and increasing debt burdens has left the average household with little or no money to spend.

The next blatantly manipulated false data is related to healthcare. Let’s peruse some this detailed inflation data:

  • Prescription Drugs – 4.8%
  • Non-Prescription Drugs – Negative 1.6%
  • Medical Equipment – 0.0%
  • Medical Care Services – 2.3%
  • Hospital Services – 3.5%
  • Health Insurance – 0.7%

Anyone living in the real world knows Obamacare has resulted in a tremendous increase in demand for drugs, medical services, and medical equipment. Health insurance companies, drug companies, drug wholesalers, hospital corporations, and drug stores are reporting record profits as their stock prices hit all-time highs. When was the last time you saw prices drop or stay flat in the healthcare arena?

It is patently outrageous for the BLS to report an annual health insurance cost increase of a mere 0.7%. The annual cost of employee sponsored health insurance is 6.3% higher than last year, with the employee portion skyrocketing by 8.0% based on real data in the real world. I work for the largest employer in Philadelphia, with the most negotiating clout against insurers, and my portion has gone up by 10% to 20% annually for the last five years. Everyone working for a company has experienced the same or higher increases.

38322 d

Even the Obamacare exchanges are seeing double digit premium increases in many states. Studies from Price Waterhouse Coopers and McKinsey found increases in average premiums between 6% and 10% across the country. It takes major cajones for the BLS to report 0.7% health insurance inflation, but their job is not to report factual information. Their job is to keep the ignorant masses ignorant of their plight. The bigger the lie, the more likely it is to be believed. The even more ridiculous aspect to the BLS data is that health insurance is weighted at .75% in the CPI calculation. The median household income in this country is $52,000. Employees are paying approximately $4,000 in health insurance per year on average. That is 7.7% of their income. The BLS weighting is absurd. Using a true inflation rate and true weighting would add at least 2% to the CPI figure.

38322 e

Another area that impacts every American every day is transportation. People need to drive or take public transportation in order to live their lives. Here are some more crucial inflation data points from the BLS:

  • New Cars – 1.2%
  • Used Cars – Negative 0.7%
  • Gasoline – Negative 23.3%
  • Vehicle Leasing – Negative 1.1%
  • Vehicle Insurance – 5.1%
  • Parking & Tolls – 2.4%
  • Public Transportation – Negative 3.2%

So we have near record levels of new auto sales, driven by subprime auto debt and 7 year 0% financing, with average vehicle prices at all-time highs, and the BLS reports prices only went up 1.2% in the last year. Edmunds, the authority in auto data, says prices went up 2.6% in the last year. Do you believe the BLS model or real data from the real world, broken down by automaker and vehicle? The even more ridiculous contention is that used car prices fell. I’ve bought two used cars in the last year and I can attest that prices are not falling. Edmunds reported that used car prices have risen by 7.1% in the last year. Leases as a percentage of total auto sales is also at record levels. Does this really jive with a decrease in leasing expenses? I think not.

There are 254 million passenger vehicles registered in the United States. We have a record level of auto loan debt totaling $1 trillion and a record level of auto leases. According to Edmunds, the average monthly car payment is $479. That is $5,748 per year. That equals 11% of the median household income. Why would the BLS only give this category a 5.7% weighting? Bankrupt states across the country have been jacking up tolls. The BLS says they went up by 2.4%. My beloved state of Pennsylvania has increased them by 10% per year for the last three years. The BLS says the cost of public transportation is plummeting. Has a Amtrak or any municipal public transportation system EVER reduced fares? Not a chance. They need more revenue to fund the government pensions of their union employees.

There are a few other categories that might be of interest to you:

  • Banking Fees – 5.9%
  • College Tuition – 3.4%
  • Childcare – 4.3%
  • Sporting Events – 8.8%
  • Pet Care – 3.5%
  • Cigarettes – 2.5%
  • Alcohol Served Away from Home – 4.0%

Isn’t it delightful that your friendly neighborhood Wall Street bank gets free money from the Fed, charges you 18% on your credit card balance, pays you nothing for your deposits, and then jacks up your bank fees? The relentless inflation in college tuition is being driven by the relentless doling out of student loans by the Federal Government to people who aren’t intellectually capable of completing college level material. The $1.4 trillion of student loans will never be repaid. The taxpayer will be on the hook for hundreds of billions in write-offs.

To celebrate the near zero inflation reported by your friendly government drones at the BLS take your family of four to a baseball game, spending $160 for tickets, $25 to park your car, $20 for two warm beers, $10 for two sodas, $24 for four hot dogs, and $10 for an order of cheese fries. Make sure you toast Greenspan, Bernanke, Yellen and the rest of the Federal Reserve governors who have purposefully reduced the purchasing power of your dollar by 96% over the last century.

You know your true level of inflation. You know it’s not 0.1%. You know it’s somewhere between 4% and 10%. You know your government is lying to you. You know the captured corporate media perpetuates the lies. You know those in control of the government must lie to keep their Ponzi scheme going. You know they are just following the Edward Bernays playbook. They want you to believe it’s for your own good. Do you think it’s for your own good?

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” – Edward Bernays – Propaganda – 1928

Via The Burning Platform

How Socialism Destroyed Puerto Rico, and How Capitalism Can Save It

UnknownWhile Greece is now dominating the debt default stage, the real tragedy is playing out much closer to home, with the downward spiral of Puerto Rico. As in Greece, the Puerto Rican economy has been destroyed by its participation in an unrealistic monetary system that it does not control and the failure of domestic politicians to confront their own insolvency. But the damage done to the Puerto Rican economy by the United States has been far more debilitating than whatever damage the European Union has inflicted on Greece. In fact, the lessons we should be learning in Puerto Rico, most notably how socialistic labor and tax policies can devastate an economy, should serve as a wake up call to those advocating prescribing the same for the mainland.  

The U.S. has bombed the territory of Puerto Rico with five supposedly well-meaning, but economically devastating policies. It has:

1. Exempted the Island’s government debt from all U.S. taxes in the Jones-Shaforth Act.

2. Eliminated U.S. tax breaks for private sector investment with the expiration of section 936 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.

3. Required the nation to abide by a restrictive trade arrangement.

4. Made the Island subject to the U.S. minimum wage.

5. Enabled Puerto Rico to offer generous welfare benefits relative to income.

While passage of such politically popular laws seems benign on the surface (and have allowed politicians to claim that their efforts have helped the poorest Puerto Ricans), in reality they have deepened the poverty of the very people the laws were supposedly designed to help. The lessons here are so obvious that only the most ardent supporters of government economic control can fail to comprehend them

Tax-Free Debt

By exempting U.S. citizens from taxes on interest paid on Puerto Rican sovereign debt, Washington sought to help the Puerto Rican economy by making it easier and cheaper for the Island’s government to borrow from the mainland. As a result, Puerto Rican government bonds became a staple holding of many U.S. municipal bond funds. As with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds a decade ago, many investors believed that these Puerto Rican bonds had an implied U.S. government guarantee. This meant that the Puerto Rican government could borrow for far less than it could have without such a belief. However, this subsidy did not grow the Puerto Rican economy, but simply the size of the government, which had the perverse effect of stifling private sector growth.  
 

In contrast to the tax-free income earned by Americans who buy Puerto Rican government bonds, those with the bad sense to lend to Puerto Rican businesses were taxed on the interest payments that they received. Businesses could have used the funds for actual capital investment (that could have increased the Island’s productivity), but instead the money flowed to the Government which used it to buy votes with generous public sector benefits that did nothing to grow the Island’s economy or put it in a better position to repay. That problem was left for future taxpayers who no politician seeking votes in the present cared about.

This dynamic is almost identical to what happened in Greece, where low borrowing costs, made possible by the strong euro currency and the implied backstop of the European Central Bank and the more solvent northern European nations, permitted the Greek government to borrow at far lower rates than its strained finances would have otherwise allowed.
 

Taxing Private Investment

Perversely, as the U.S. government made it easier for the Puerto Rican government to borrow, it made it harder for the private sector to do so. In 2006 the government ended a tax break that exempted corporate profits earned on private sector investment in Puerto Rico from U.S. taxes. As a result, U.S. businesses that had been making investments and hiring workers on the Island pulled up stakes and moved to more tax-friendly jurisdictions. The result was an erosion of the Island’s local tax base, just as more borrowing (made possible by triple tax-free government debt) obligated the remaining Puerto Rican taxpayers to greater future liabilities.

The Jones Act
 

The Jones Act, a 1920 law designed to protect the U.S. merchant marine from foreign competition, has had a devastating effect on Puerto Rico, and should be used as a cautionary tale to illustrate the dangers of trade barriers. Under the terms of this horrible law, foreign-flagged ships are prevented from carrying cargo between two U.S. ports. According to the law, Puerto Rico counts as a U.S. port. So a container ship bringing goods from China to the U.S. mainland is prevented from stopping in Puerto Rico on the way. Instead, the cargo must be dropped off at a mainland port, then reloaded onto an expensive U.S.-flagged ship, and transported back to Puerto Rico. As a result, shipping costs to and from Puerto Rico are the highest in the Caribbean. This reduces trade between Puerto Rico and the rest of the world. Since a large percentage of the finished goods used by Puerto Ricans are imported, the result is much higher consumer prices and fewer private sector jobs. Even though median incomes in Puerto Rico are only 63% of the poorest U.S. state, thanks to the Jones Act, the cost of living is actually higher than the average state.

The Federal Minimum Wage

In 1938 the Fair Labor Standards Act subjected Puerto Rico to a federal minimum wage, but it was not until 1983 that a 1974 act, which required that the Island match the mainland’s minimum wage, was fully phased in. The current Federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is 77% of Puerto Rico’s current median wage of $9.42. In contrast, the Federal minimum is only 43% of the U.S. median wage of almost $17 per hour (Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), May 2014). The U.S. minimum wage would have to be more than $13 per hour to match that Puerto Rico proportion. The disparity is greater when comparing minimum wage income to per capita income.
 

The imposition of an insupportably high minimum wage has meant that entry level jobs simply don’t exist in Puerto Rico. Unemployment is over 12% (BLS), and the labor force participation rate is about 43% (as opposed to 63% on the mainland) (The World Bank). A “success” by the Obama administration in raising the Federal minimum to $10 per hour would mean that the minimum wage in Puerto Rico would be higher than the current medium wage. Such a move would result in layoffs on the Island and another step down into the economic pit. I predict that it could bring on a crisis similar to the one created in the last decade in American Somoa when that island’s economy was devastated by an unsustainable increase in the minimum wage.

It will be interesting to see if our progressive politicians will have enough forethought and mercy to exempt Puerto Rico from minimum wage increases. But to do so would force them to acknowledge the destructive nature of the law, an admission that they would take great pains to avoid. 

Welfare

In 2013 median income in Puerto Rico was just over half  that of the poorest state in the union (Mississippi) but welfare benefits are very similar. This means that the incentive to forgo public assistance in favor of a job is greatly reduced in Puerto Rico, as a larger percentage of those on public assistance would do better financially by turning down a low paying job. Because of these perverse incentives not to work, fewer than half of working age males are employed and 45% of the Island’s population lived below the federal poverty line (U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey Briefs issued Sep. 2014). According to a 2012 report by the New York Federal Reserve Bank, 40% of Island income consists of transfer payments, and 35% of the Island’s residents receive food stamps (Fox News Latino, 3/11/14).

In other words, Puerto Rico’s problems are strikingly similar to those of Greece. Its government spends chronically more than it raises in taxes, its economy is trapped in a regulatory morass, and its economic destiny is largely in the hands of others.

The solutions to Puerto Rico’s problems are simple, but politically toxic for mainland politicians to acknowledge. Puerto Rico must be allowed to declare bankruptcy, the Federal incentive for the Puerto Rican government to borrow money must be eliminated, Puerto Rico must be exempted from both the Jones Act and the Federal Minimum wage, and Federal welfare requirements must be reduced. Puerto Rico already has the huge advantages of being exempt from both the Federal Income Tax and Obamacare, so with a fresh start, free from oppressive debt and federal regulations, capitalism could quickly restore the prosperity socialism destroyed. With the current incentives provided by Acts 20 and 22 (which basically exempt Puerto Rico-sourced income for new arrivals from local as well as federal income tax – see my report on America’s Tax Free Zone) and with some additional local free market labor reforms, in a generation it’s possible that Puerto Ricans could enjoy higher per capita incomes than citizens of any U.S. state.

If Washington really wanted to accelerate the process, it should exempt mainland residents from all income taxes, including the AMT, on Puerto Rico-sourced investment income, including dividends, capital gains, and interest related to capital investment.

Read the original article at Euro Pacific Capital.

Best Selling author Peter Schiff is the CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital. His podcasts are available on The Peter Schiff Channel on Youtube

Marc Faber: Forget Greece, here’s what I’m worried about

“People are said the markets went down because of Greece. I don’t believe that for a minute. I believe markets went down because it’s becoming evident that the Chinese economy is not growing anymore.”

Also from Marc on July 11th

Marc Faber Warning : Global Economy Going in Recession By The End of 2015

The Federal Reserve may embark on more quantitative easing if the S&P 500 falls by 20 percent, according to Faber. In the link just above he also discusses China and Greece with Manus Cranny on Bloomberg Television’s “The Pulse.” 

 

 

UnknownDr. Marc Faber was born in Zurich, Switzerland and obtained a PhD in Economics at the University of Zurich. Between 1970 and 1978, Dr. Faber worked for White Weld & Company Limited in New York, Zurich and Hong Kong. From 1978 to February 1990, he was the Managing Director of Drexel Burnham Lambert (HK) Ltd. In 1990, he set up his own business, Marc Faber Limited which acts as an investment advisor and fund manager. Dr. Faber publishes a widely read monthly investment newsletter, “The Gloom Boom & Doom Report,” which highlights unusual investment opportunities, and is the author of several books including Tomorrow’s Gold: Asia’s age of discoverywhich was a best seller on Amazon. Dr. Faber is known for his “contrarian” investment approach and charismatic personality. He became infamous after calling the 1987 crash in US equities.