disinflation

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The Ka-POOM! Survival Guide

How to end up on the winning side of the Wealth Transfer
Saturday, March 11, 2017, 1:02 AM

Executive Summary

  • Understanding the details of the Ka-POOM! theory
  • The end game: hyperinflation
  • Transitioning to tangible (vs paper) assets
  • The critical importance of timing as things switch from deflation to runaway inflation

If you have not yet read Part 1: When This All Blows Up,  available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

Ka-POOM!

Now it’s time to revisit the Ka-POOM theory which posits that bubbles will be blown, then they will deflate (or threaten to, more precisely), and that will then be met with more money printing.  Our view is that this cycle will continue until the entire system is utterly ruined, the underlying currencies destroyed.

What the 2008 financial crisis made clear is that when natural market forces work to purge the oversupply of poor-quality debt from the system. The bad mortgages (think subprime), the bad sovereign debts (think Greece), and the loan portfolios of over-extended financial institutions (think Citibank) represented ‘poor quality debt.’  When the market (finally) figured out that those debts would never be repaid at face value, or perhaps at all, turmoil erupted.

During times like these a vicious sequence begins: the market demands higher interest rates for the increased risks it sees. This makes debts harder to service, ultimately triggering defaults, which only compounds the difficulties as interest costs and defaults spiral ever upwards until the system is purged.  Think of it as nature’s way of removing bad credit from the world, the way a lion chases the lamest antelope first.

Because in our fiat currency system ‘all money is loaned into existence’ (see chapters 7 and 8 of The Crash Course on-line video series), during periods of high debt default, the money supply shrinks. Money is created when a loan is made and, conversely, money disappears when a debt defaults (or is paid back). This is the textbook definition of deflation—a common symptom of which is falling prices the cause of which is that there’s just less money (and/or credit) available to chase goods and services.

As a reminder, money is a claim on real wealth and debt is a claim on future money.  All that happens when we borrow more and more is that we push our problems of paying for what we want out into the future.  Which means that... » Read more

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When This All Blows Up...

Understanding the how & when of the next economic crash
Saturday, March 11, 2017, 1:01 AM

This report marks the end of a series of three big trains of thought. The first explained how we’re living through the Mother Of All Financial Bubbles. The next detailed the Great Wealth Transfer that is now underway, siphoning our wealth into the pockets of an elite few.

This concluding report predicts how these deleterious and unsustainable trends will inevitably ‘resolve’ (which is a pleasant way of saying ‘blow up’.) » Read more

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Why Demand Will Become Even More Scarce

Prospects for disinflation in 2014
Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 1:14 PM

Executive Summary

  • Anemic employment & wages growth depresses the odds of near-term interest rate hikes
  • Why energy costs increases are experiencing a lull, keeping inflation lower than many expected
  • The demographic arguments for deflation
  • Why the US is becoming more vulnerable to a repricing of natural gas -- vs oil -- in the coming decade

If you have not yet read Part I: When Every Country Wants to Sell, Who Buys?, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

The most recent US jobs report was once again a disappointment, despite the headline number of 192,000 jobs created. Over the past two years, the economy has reliably created about 150,000 jobs per month. This has been just enough to keep up with population growth, but alas, not enough to put the long-term unemployed back to work. The concerning data in the report came in the details of the jobs created: as usual--and this has been a trend for several years now--mostly in the lower wage sectors. A few wrap-up tweets from Dan Alpert of Westwood Capital summed up the facts rather nicely:

Other notable observations from recent trends in US jobs reports include the fact that job creation in 2013 was no higher than in 2012. Not exactly an encouraging trend for those who would be looking for inflation risk, or strong growth in 2014.

But perhaps worst of all has been the number of workers leaving the workforce. Part of this can be explained, of course, by demographic retirements. It's no secret that the US has an aging population, and there's a bulge of retiring workers that will admittedly create some gaps in the labor market over the next decade. But the large numbers of workers exiting the workforce is also explained by discouraged workers, and that unemployment benefits for many have started running out.

What many in the public do not understand, is that workers taking unemployment checks are counted as active seekers of employment. They are added to the composition of the workforce, and when they continue to take unemployment checks but do not find work, they serve to keep the unemployment rate elevated. But when unemployment benefits expire, and workers leave the workforce, the unemployment rate may... » Read more

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Why Social & Environmental Imbalances Are Becoming the Biggest Risks

As the story becomes more desperate
Tuesday, November 19, 2013, 2:14 PM

Executive Summary

  • The growing risk of disinflation
  • Why instability in the U.S. is accelerating
  • The danger of social rifts emerging in the near future between economic classes
  • Why environmental constraints and social instability may trump energy issues going forward

If you have not yet read What Happened to the Future?, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

If this is the case, it echoes the realization now dawning on economists in the U.S. that an acceleration in the economy, which many expected, is simply not going to arrive. As was discussed in previous essays, OECD GDP growth appears to be converging once again at a level below 2.00%. The U.S. is on track to achieve only 1.6% GDP growth this year. This is a primary reason why inflation, again outside of natural resources has still not broken out, or even appeared. Moreover, the U.S. and the OECD could once again be on the verge of disinflation.

One notable and important piece of the disinflation puzzle is the continued growth in inequality. As income growth narrows to a tiny vanishing point among workers, it’s become increasingly difficult to mount economic growth across many industries. Demand for goods from the 1% is robust. Demand from the rest of the populace continues to dwindle. It may be hard to believe, but policy makers, politicians, and gasp! even economists and financiers used to be deeply concerned about wealth inequality. Today, it’s as if enough time has passed for an entire generation to forget the destructive structural damage that long-term inequality can wreak on an economy.

For those of you who remember, one of the more severe cases of wealth inequality for many decades was the country of Brazil. Tellingly, it was not until Brazil elected a reformer, Lula, that the country left behind its days of boom-and-bust, debt crises, inflation, and general instability and embarked on its current path as a more balanced, sustainable economy. Coincidence? Not likely.

But what’s really scary is... » Read more