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Reuters

It's Looking A Lot Like 2008 Now...

Did today's market plunge mark the start of the next crash?
Friday, February 2, 2018, 9:57 PM

Economic and market conditions are eerily like they were in late 2007/early 2008.

Remember back then? Everything was going great. Home prices were soaring. Jobs were plentiful.

The great cultural marketing machine was busy proclaiming that a new era of permanent prosperity had dawned, thanks to the steady leadership of Alan Greenspan and later Ben Bernanke. And only a small cadre of cranks, like me, was singing a different tune; warning instead that a painful reckoning in our financial system was approaching fast.

It's fitting that I'm writing this on Groundhog Day, as to these veteran eyes, it sure has been looking a lot like late 2007/early 2008 lately... » Read more

Insider

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Winning Against The Big Club

Protect & grow the purchasing power of your wealth
Friday, January 12, 2018, 8:43 PM

Executive Summary

  • Taking Advantage of Subsidies
  • The Importance of Adding New Income Streams
  • Income-Producing Assets
  • Hedges, Cost-Controls & Other Strategies

If you have not yet read Part 1: Drowning In The Money River, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

In Part 1, we compared official rates of inflation with hard data from the real world, and found that it’s not just the cost of burritos that has soared over 100% while inflation has supposedly been trundling along at 1% or 2% per year. The real killer is the soaring cost of big-ticket essentials such as rent, higher education and healthcare.

So what can we do about it? There are only a few strategies that can make a real difference: either qualify for subsidies (i.e. lower household income), own assets and income streams that keep up with real-world inflation, or radically reduce the cost structure of big-ticket household expenses.

Assets & Income Streams

One strategy to avoid being crushed by real-world inflation is to earn enough extra income to keep up with higher costs. This is problematic in an economy in which wages/salaries are declining as a share of the gross domestic product (GDP).

This is a long-term secular trend that is affecting not just middle-income workers but the highly educated technocrat/managerial class. This reality suggests that trying to earn more income via wages/salaries is akin to pushing sand uphill: it is possible, but it’s running up against powerful secular trends.

The alternative strategy is to seek assets and income streams that might increase purchasing more than wages/salaries.

The data speak volumes about the difference between wealthy households and middle-class households: the middle-class households’ primary asset is the family home, while the wealthy households’ primary asset is business equity: ownership of an enterprise or shares in enterprises.

Developing a profitable enterprise is easier said than done (it helps to inherit a family business), and there is no guarantee a business that’s successful today will still be successful next year.

Nonetheless, it’s striking that the middle class is heavily indebted, house-rich and business-equity poor, while the top 1% has little debt and is business equity-rich and relatively house-poor.

This is not to say it’s a poor investment to own a home, but it does suggest that you can beat the erosion of inflation by... » Read more

Insider

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Off The Cuff: Toxic Policies Are Killing The Economy

Ruining our tomorrow to benefit an elite few today
Wednesday, October 11, 2017, 1:56 AM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Wolf Richter discuss:

  • The Pricing Of Risk Is Kaput
    • Today's assets are priced at truly insane levels
  • As A Result, Safe Yields Are Non-Existent
    • Which is killing savers
  • The Masses Are Being Betrayed
    • Sacrificed for the benefit of a rarified few
  • The Housing Bubble 2.0 Appears Set To Pop
    • More data is showing a topping out

Wolf returns this week to discuss the toxic repercussions of today's gross mis-pricing of risk. It leads to increasingly dangerous mal-investment, elevating the heights from which prices will fall during a correction. The worst part about this is that this current Mother Of All Bubbles is a deliberate act of policy by the central planners, who are sacrificing the future of the many to benefit the today of an elite few:

Click to listen to a sample of this Off the Cuff Podcast or Enroll today to access the full audio and other premium content today.
Blog

Van Halen, M&Ms, And The Next Market Downturn

How watching the right indicators will avoid disaster
Friday, September 1, 2017, 7:28 PM

Believe it or not, the rock band Van Halen found a brilliant way to teach how having good indicators is key to achieving success.

This is extremely true for the world of investing, where you're deploying capital based upon an expected future return. How do you determine when it's a good time to enter into an investment? Once in it, how do monitor the conditions supporting your rationale for holding it -- are those changing? And if so, are they getting better or worse? When should you exit the position?

For all of these questions, the better the indicators you use, the more accurate and informed your decision-making will be. And the better your returns as an investor will be. » Read more

Insider

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Off The Cuff: Signs Of An Approaching Downturn

We're seeing more & more of them
Thursday, June 8, 2017, 12:00 AM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Wolf Richter discuss:

  • The Late-Stage Housing Bubble
    • From the US, to Canada, to China
  • Signs Of The Approaching Downturn
    • Data everywhere is flat-lining
  • Soaring Debt Levels
    • At levels that make 2008 look tame
  • Canary In The Coal Mine
    • The bullet-proof Bay Area showing weakness?

The diverse data sets that Wolf tracks are showing increasing signs of building weakness across the global economy:

We see weakness all over the place now in the United States. In terms of the corporate credit cycle, we have commercial and industrial loans flat-lining since November, meaning they have grown very strongly from the financial crisis and they peaked in October. Since then, it’s all just flat-lining.

And the only time this ever happened in the past, it’s been affiliated with a recession because these are loans that companies take out to fund equipment purchases and for expansion purposes and for the things that are useful to an economy. These are not loans that are used to buy back stocks. This is not for financial engineering. These are actual productive funds. And when you see companies putting a lid on this, they’re not expanding anymore. They’ve borrowed as much as they’re going to borrow, and at some point, these commercial industrial loans will turn down. And this has happened in every recession before.

Plus, we have now a surge in bankruptcies in the United States in terms of commercial bankruptcies. I just did a report on that earlier in May. The prior peak in bankruptcies was during the financial crisis.

Click to listen to a sample of this Off the Cuff Podcast or Enroll today to access the full audio and other premium content today. » Read more

Blog

adirondackalmanack.com

A Murderous Complacency

Dark omens are circling everywhere in today's markets
Friday, February 3, 2017, 5:38 PM

Running PeakProsperity.com requires me to read and process a lot of data on a daily basis. As it's hard to digest it all in real-time, I keep a running list of charts, tables and articles that catch my attention, to return to when I have the time to give them my full attention.

Lately, that list has been getting quite long. And it's largely full of indicators that concern me, signals that the long era of "extend and pretend" in today's markets may finally be at its terminus.

Like crows circling overhead, everyday brings with it new worrisome statistics that portend an ill change ahead. Indeed, these signs are increasing so quickly now that it's hard not to feel like Tippi Hedren in Hitchcock's classic The Birds. » Read more

Podcast

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Wolf Richter: The Economy Is Cracking Under Too Much Debt

Housing, restaurants & retail are suffering
Sunday, October 16, 2016, 1:25 PM

Wolf Richter joins the podcast this week to discuss the deterioration of the global macro situation, and how he is seeing growing signs of recession breaking out across the economy. » Read more

Insider

How My Personal Portfolio Is Positioned Right Now

You've asked. I answer.
Friday, June 24, 2016, 4:46 PM

Executive Summary

If you have not yet read Part 1: Fortunes Will Be Made & Lost When Capital Flees To Safety available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

So, given the conclusions in Part 1 -- as well as the larger risks to the economy and financial markets that we analyze daily here at Peak Prosperity -- how am I positioning my own personal investments?

I get asked this question often. Often enough that I'm deciding to open the kimono here and let it drop to the ground. Everyone interested to look will get the full frontal.

Before I do though, let me make a few things absolutely clear. This is NOT personal financial advice. The investment choices I've made are based on my own unique situation, financial goals and risk tolerance. And I may change these choices at any moment given new market developments. What's appropriate for me may not be for you, so DO NOT blindly duplicate what I'm doing.

As always, we recommend working with a professional financial adviser to build an investment plan customized to your own needs and objectives. (If you do not have a financial adviser or do not feel comfortable with your current adviser's expertise in the market risks we discuss here at PeakProsperity.com, consider scheduling a free consultation with our endorsed adviser)

Suffice it to say, any investment ideas sparked by this report should be reviewed with your financial adviser before taking any action. Am I being excessively repetitive here in order to drive this point home? Good...

OK, with that out of the way, let's get started. I'll walk through the asset classes I own and my rationale for holding each.

The strategy behind my portfolio allocation is of my own devise, though it has been influenced in no small part by the good folks at New Harbor Financial, Peak Prosperity's aforementioned endorsed financial adviser.

At a high level, it has been constructed to address my strongly-held conclusions that:

  • Prices of most asset classes are dangerously overvalued
  • The risk of another economic contraction on par with (or greater than) the Great Recession within the next 2-4 years is uncomfortably high
  • The most likely path is we will experience a short period of coming deflation, followed soon after by one of high inflation as central banks starting printing currency without restraint (the Ka-POOM theory)
  • Capital will increasingly want to flow from paper assets (tertiary wealth) into tangible ones (primary and secondary wealth)
  • This is a time to prioritize protecting capital (defense) over speculating on how to grow it (offense)
  • Diversification is wise: just be emotionally prepared that some of your bets, by definition, will not pay off
  • In today's world of financial repression, no asset class is truly "safe". As such, asset performance is all relative.

This is not a swing-for-the-fences portfolio. It's much more of a prepare-for-the-storm approach... » Read more

Blog

Observations From The Heart Of Silicon Valley

The calm before the storm?
Thursday, May 19, 2016, 8:11 PM

Yesterday I made the 2-hour drive back to Silicon Valley, where I lived for 15 years before moving out to the country.

I rarely go back, as I miss very little about the hyper-elite scene there. When I do, though, I feel I have a useful 'insider-now-outsider' perspective that allows me to see things there more accurately than those who live in that fishbowl 24/7.

What hit me most strongly upon arriving back in the Menlo Park/Palo Alto area, is how little of the craziness has changed since I left 4 years ago. I don't mean 'unchanged' though; rather that the same craziness is there, just more extreme than ever. » Read more

What Should I Do?

Billy Rioux: Log-Home-Adventures

#1 Tips For Building Log Homes

21 Log Cabin Builders Share Their Thoughts
Wednesday, February 10, 2016, 4:45 PM

Ever dreamed of building a sustainable and beautiful log home?   Want to have a small cabin in an off-grid homestead?  Below are the #1 tips and pieces of advice from 21 log cabin owners, builders and manufacturers for making your log cabin project a success! We really hope you find useful insights and knowledge to use and apply when building your log cabin home. » Read more