Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Economy Caught in Depression, Not Recession

Economy Caught in Depression, Not Recession

Positive gross domestic product readings and other mildly hopeful signs are masking an ugly truth: The US economy is in a 1930s-style Depression, Gluskin Sheff economist David Rosenberg said Tuesday.


Writing in his daily briefing to investors, Rosenberg said the Great Depression also had its high points, with a series of positive GDP reports and sharp stock market gains.

But then as now, those signs of recovery were unsustainable and only provided a false sense of stability, said Rosenberg.

Rosenberg calls current economic conditions "a depression, and not just some garden-variety recession," and notes that any good news both during the initial 1929-33 recession and the one that began in 2008 triggered "euphoric response."

"Such is human nature and nobody can be blamed for trying to be optimistic; however, in the money management business, we have a fiduciary responsibility to be as realistic as possible about the outlook for the economy and the market at all times," he said.

The 1929-33 recession saw six quarterly bounces in GDP with an average gain of 8 percent, sending the stock market to a 50 percent rally in early 1930 as investors thought the worst had passed.

"False premise," Rosenberg said. "And guess what? We may well be reliving history here. If you're keeping score, we have recorded four quarterly advances in real GDP, and the average is only 3%."


Yes Folks, Hindenburg Omen Tripped Again

The Hindenburg Omen reared its ugly head late last week, signaling more doom and gloom as stocks plod along amid the dog days of summer.


The Omen, a technical indicator which uses a plethora of data to foreshadow a , was tripped again on Friday, marking the second time since Aug. 12 it has occurred. (It also came close on Thursday, but one of its criteria fell short.)

The latest trigger has prompted the Omen’s creator, Jim Miekka, to exit the market. “I’m taking it seriously and I’m fully out of the market now,” Miekka, a blind mathematician, said in a telephone interview from his home in Surry, Maine. “I would’ve probably stayed in until the beginning of September,” depending on how the indicators varied. “That was my basic plan, until the Hindenburg came along.”

The Omen has been behind every market crash since 1987, but significant stock-market declines have followed only 25% of the time. So there’s a high likelihood that the Omen could be nothing more than a false signal.

But that isn’t stopping Miekka from taking any chances, especially as September, typically the market’s worst-performing month, sits only one week away.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

the Hindenburg Omen

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It may just be the summer doldrums, or the ominous occurrence of a Friday the 13 in mid-August, but the Hindenburg Omen -- a technical indicator of an impending stock market crash -- is suddenly as important a market mover as testimony from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke.


The blog Zero Hedge, writing in a vein that seems made for professional boxing or WWE pay-per-view event hype, describes the Hindenburg Omen as "Easily the most feared technical pattern in all of chartism (for the bullishly inclined). Those who know what it is, tend to have an atavistic reaction to its mere mention."

In case you hadn't heard, Thursday's action on the New York Stock Exchange registered a technical anomaly known as the Hindenburg Omen. Read: just like the doomed German airship, the markets are fated to crash and burn. Still worse, Wednesday's trading action almost sparked Hindenburg Omen conditions. It takes two Hindenburg Omen trading days within a 36 day window to trigger the end of life in the markets as we know it.

Writing on RealMoney.com, Rev Shark notes of the market voodoo that "the logic behind this ominous-sounding indicator is this: When there are internal inconsistencies in the market that are causing a simultaneously high level of new highs and new lows, a greater risk exists that the resulting confusion and uncertainty will cause market players to exit... When the herd is confused and moving in two different directions, internally that is going to cause some problems."

But first the facts. There was a correction in the markets this week, and the sell-off triggered the Hindenburg conditions. The Hindenburg Omen occurs when an unusually high number of companies in the New York Stock Exchange reach 52-week highs and lows at the same time. The proportion of NYSE stock highs and lows must both exceed 2.2% of the total listed on the exchange. The Hindenburg Omen last occurred in October 2008, according to UBS data.


Friday, August 13, 2010

"I believe that zero rates during a period of modest growth are a dangerous gamble," Hoenig said Friday.

The Federal Reserve is undertaking a "dangerous gamble" by keeping rates at near zero for so long, and must start raising rates or risk damaging the nascent U.S. recovery, a top Federal Reserve official said on Friday.


"To be clear, I am not advocating a tight monetary policy," Kansas City Reserve Bank President Thomas Hoenig said in the text of a speech to the Lincoln, Nebraska, Chamber of Commerce. "I am advocating a policy that remains accommodative but slowly firms as the economy itself expands and moves toward more balance."

Hoenig has been the lone dissenter on the Fed's policy-setting panel, which on Tuesday repeated the U.S. central bank's pledge to keep interest rates extraordinarily low for an "extended period."

The Fed took the further step of saying it would begin reinvesting cash from maturing mortgage bonds to buy more government debt. The decision reflected the Fed's concern over the slowdown in the economic recovery it helped bring about by cutting rates to near zero in December 2008 and buying nearly $1.3 trillion in mortgage-linked debt to shore up the housing market.

However, Hoenig said Friday he believes the economy "barring specific shocks and bad policy ...should continue to grow over the next several quarters."

The Fed should raise its short-term target to 1 percent, pause to wait for the economy to adjust, and then raise it to 2 percent once it is clear the recovery is on a reasonable growth path, he said, repeating a proposal he has made before.

"I believe that zero rates during a period of modest growth are a dangerous gamble," Hoenig said Friday.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Obama presidency increasingly resembles a modern-day Ancien Régime: extravagant and out of touch with the American people

The Obama presidency increasingly resembles a modern-day Ancien Régime: extravagant and out of touch with the American people

Nile Gardiner is a Washington-based foreign affairs analyst and political commentator. He appears frequently on American and British television and radio, including Fox News Channel, CNN, BBC, Sky News, and NPR


What the great French historian Alexis de Tocqueville would make of today’s Obama administration were he alive today is anyone’s guess. But I would wager that the author of L’Ancien Régime and Democracy in America would be less than impressed with the extravagance and arrogance on display among the White House elites that rule America as though they had been handed some divine right to govern with impunity.

It is the kind of impunity that has been highlighted on the world stage this week by Michelle Obama’s hugely costly trip to Spain, which has prompted a New York Post columnist Andrea Tantaros to dub the First Lady a contemporary Marie Antoinette. As The Telegraph reports, while the Obamas are covering their own vacation expenses such as accommodation, the trip may cost US taxpayers as much as $375,000 in terms of secret service security and flight costs on Air Force Two.

The timing of this lavish European vacation could not have come at a worse moment, when unemployment in America stands at 10 percent, and large numbers of Americans are fighting to survive financially in the wake of the global economic downturn. It sends a message of indifference, even contempt, for the millions of Americans who are struggling just to feed their families on a daily basis and pay the mortgage, while the size of the national debt balloons to Greek-style proportions.

While the liberal-dominated US mainstream media have largely ignored the story, it is all over the blogosphere and talk radio, and will undoubtedly add to the President’s free falling poll ratings. As much as the media establishment turn a blind eye to stories like this, which are major news in the international media, the American public is increasingly turning to alternative news sources, including the British press, which has a far less deferential approach towards the White House.

The First Lady’s ill-conceived trip to Marbella and the complete disregard for public opinion and concerns over excessive government spending is symbolic of a far wider problem with the Obama presidency – the overarching disdain for the principles of limited government, individual liberty and free enterprise that have built the United States over the course of nearly two and a half centuries into the most powerful and free nation on earth.

It is epitomised above all by the President’s relentless drive towards big government against the will of the American people, and the dramatic increases in government spending and borrowing, which threaten to leave the US hugely in debt for generations. It is also showcased by Barack Obama’s drive towards a socialised health care system, which, as I’ve noted before, is “a thinly disguised vanity project for a president who is committed to transforming the United States from the world’s most successful large-scale free enterprise economy, to a highly interventionist society with a massive role for centralized government.”

There is however a political revolution fast approaching Washington that is driven not by mob rule but by the power of ideas and principles, based upon the ideals of the Founding Fathers and the US Constitution. It is a distinctly conservative revolution that is sweeping America and is reflected in almost every poll ahead of this November’s mid-terms. It is based on a belief in individual liberty, limited government, and above all, political accountability from the ruling elites. The Obama administration’s mantra may well be “let them eat cake”, as it continues to gorge itself on taxpayers’ money, but it will be looking nervously over its shoulder as public unease mounts.


Failure Generation : Time to admit Obamanomics has failed

Time to admit Obamanomics has failed
Examiner Editorial
August 8, 2010

Chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers Christina Romer is retiring during one of the worst economic downturns our country has experienced.

It's no coincidence that Christina Romer, chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, announced her retirement the day before Friday's brutal unemployment report. With 131,000 more jobs lost in July, and downward revisions of 97,000 for the previous two months, it's easy to see why she would start looking for the exits.

Romer is best known for drafting the February 2009 report "The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan," which the White House used as an ammunition belt in the fight to gain passage of its $862 billion economic stimulus bill (the actual cost of which exceeds $1 trillion when interest is included). Romer predicted that following passage of the stimulus bill, unemployment would plateau below 8 percent last fall and by this month register at 7 percent. That's not close enough for government work, as unemployment stands at 9.5 percent today. It would be higher except that hundreds of thousands of frustrated job seekers have given up looking for new jobs and dropped out of the labor force.

Predictably, the stimulus bill has proven to be an extraordinary waste of borrowed money that has failed to create jobs, generate economic growth or do much of anything other than line the pockets of White House political allies. That and give $308 million in subsidies to BP before the Gulf oil spill disaster, and subsidize a study on what happens when monkeys snort coke.

As Romer fades back to her teaching post at Berkeley, Obama is adding to the economic misery by creating an environment of regulatory uncertainty. The Wall Street reform law Obama recently signed potentially requires 533 new regulations, 60 studies and 93 reports, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Obama's Environmental Protection Agency has 29 active rulemakings, and there are 100 new rules on the Labor Department's agenda and 26 at the Transportation Department.

Add Obama's determination to raise everybody's taxes by allowing the Bush cuts from 2001 and 2003 to expire Jan. 1, 2011, and it's easy to why banks, businesses and consumers are hoarding trillions of dollars that could otherwise spur economic growth. And we haven't even addressed the destructive effect on economic growth of Obama's nationalization of major portions of the economy, including the banks, health care and the auto industry.

The economy is stalling, unemployment seems stuck at European levels of idleness, the federal deficit and the national debt are at historic highs, public confidence in Congress is at its lowest-ever level and big majorities of Mainstream Americans say Obama has the country on the wrong path. Obamanomics has failed miserably and it's time for everybody in this town to admit it so we can move on.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/Time-to-admit-Obamanomics-has-failed-1008050-100154469.html#ixzz0wCOEd3Wv

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Failure generation : Will Washington's Failures Lead To Second American Revolution?

Will Washington's Failures Lead To Second American Revolution?
Posted 07/30/2010 06:30 PM ET


The Internet is a large-scale version of the "Committees of Correspondence" that led to the first American Revolution — and with Washington's failings now so obvious and awful, it may lead to another.

People are asking, "Is the government doing us more harm than good? Should we change what it does and the way it does it?"

Pruning the power of government begins with the imperial presidency.

Too many overreaching laws give the president too much discretion to make too many open-ended rules controlling too many aspects of our lives. There's no end to the harm an out-of-control president can do.

Bill Clinton lowered the culture, moral tone and strength of the nation — and left America vulnerable to attack. When it came, George W. Bush stood up for America, albeit sometimes clumsily.

Barack Obama, however, has pulled off the ultimate switcheroo: He's diminishing America from within — so far, successfully.

He may soon bankrupt us and replace our big merit-based capitalist economy with a small government-directed one of his own design.

He is undermining our constitutional traditions: The rule of law and our Anglo-Saxon concepts of private property hang in the balance. Obama may be the most "consequential" president ever.

The Wall Street Journal's steadfast Dorothy Rabinowitz wrote that Barack Obama is "an alien in the White House."

His bullying and offenses against the economy and job creation are so outrageous that CEOs in the Business Roundtable finally mustered the courage to call him "anti-business." Veteran Democrat Sen. Max Baucus blurted out that Obama is engineering the biggest government-forced "redistribution of income" in history.

Fear and uncertainty stalk the land. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says America's financial future is "unusually uncertain."

A Wall Street "fear gauge" based on predicted market volatility is flashing long-term panic. New data on the federal budget confirm that record-setting deficits in the $1.4 trillion range are now endemic.

Obama is building an imperium of public debt and crushing taxes, contrary to George Washington's wise farewell admonition: "cherish public credit ... use it as sparingly as possible ... avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt ... bear in mind, that towards the payment of debts there must be Revenue, that to have Revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised, which are not ... inconvenient and unpleasant ... ."

Opinion polls suggest that in the November mid-term elections, voters will replace the present Democratic majority in Congress with opposition Republicans — but that will not necessarily stop Obama.

A President Obama intent on achieving his transformative goals despite the disagreement of the American people has powerful weapons within reach. In one hand, he will have a veto pen to stop a new Republican Congress from repealing ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank takeover of banks.

In the other, he will have a fistful of executive orders, regulations and Obama-made fiats that have the force of law.

Under ObamaCare, he can issue new rules and regulations so insidiously powerful in their effect that higher-priced, lower-quality and rationed health care will quickly become ingrained, leaving a permanent stain.

Under Dodd-Frank, he and his agents will control all credit and financial transactions, rewarding friends and punishing opponents, discriminating on the basis of race, gender and political affiliation. Credit and liquidity may be choked by bureaucracy and politics — and the economy will suffer.

He and the EPA may try to impose by "regulatory" fiats many parts of the cap-and-trade and other climate legislation that failed in the Congress.

And by executive orders and the in terrorem effect of an industrywide "boot on the neck" policy, he can continue to diminish energy production in the United States.

By the trick of letting current-law tax rates "expire," he can impose a $3.5 trillion 10-year tax increase that damages job-creating capital investment in an economy struggling to recover. And by failing to enforce the law and leaving America's borders open, he can continue to repopulate America with unfortunate illegals whose skill and education levels are low and whose political attitudes are often not congenial to American-style democracy.

A wounded rampaging president can do much damage — and, like Caesar, the evil he does will live long after he leaves office, whenever that may be.

The overgrown, un-pruned power of the presidency to reward, punish and intimidate may now be so overwhelming that his re-election in 2012 is already assured — Chicago-style.

• Christian, an attorney, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Ford administration.

• Robbins, an economist, served at the Treasury Department in the Reagan administration.