manufacturing

Podcast

Yann Arthus/National Geographic Society

James Howard Kunstler: The World's Greatest Misallocation Of Resources

And why we appear poised to repeat it
Sunday, January 22, 2017, 2:11 PM

James Howard Kunstler returns to the podcast this week, observing that despite the baton being handed to a new American president, the massive predicaments we face as a society remain the same. And it seems the incoming administration is just as in denial of them as the old.

Kunstler adds fresh critique to his now decades-old warning that we are sleepwalking our way deep into the Long Emergency. The longer we delude ourselves and waste our energies in pursuit of reviving the failed "endless growth" model, the farther our journey back to a sustainable way of living will be when our current system collapses. » Read more

Insider

Gunnar3000 | Dreamstime.com

The Time For Shorting the Market Is Approaching

The dashboard of warning signals is getting bright
Wednesday, February 26, 2014, 8:55 PM

Executive Summary

  • Why stocks may average 0% return (!) for the next decade
  • The depressing data in
    • Retail sales
    • Housing
    • Manufacturing
    • Consumer confidence
  • Why the time to short the market is looking near

If you have not yet read The Stock Market's Shaky Foundation, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

To be sure, there is one piece of fundamental information that has supported equity prices; and that’s corporate earnings.

Those have vaulted to new highs, despite the weak economic recovery, on the back of ultra-cheap borrowing (which reduces interest costs which are deducted from earnings), government deficit spending, and low household savings:

While the parabolic rise in corporate earnings is quite impressive, they are also historically unprecedented and certainly unsustainable. 

When we look at the same chart seen above but on a percent change yr/yr basis we see that they have been slowing down remarkably and aren't that far above the zero mark... » Read more

Insider

We're All Turning Japanese

Japan is the proxy for our future
Tuesday, September 10, 2013, 1:40 PM

Executive Summary

  • As goes Japan's efforts to rescue it's economy, so will go the U.S. and E.U.
  • Japan's options:
    • Outsource its manufacturing base
    • Replace as much human labor with automation as it can
    • Rush to trade its depreciating currency for hard assets around the world
  • What Japan is telling us about the Keynesian endpoint

If you have not yet read Part I: Abenomics' Dismal Anniversary, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

Japan Is Reflecting the Future of Western Economies

While many observers continue to follow Europe as the proxy for post-growth dynamics in the OECD, it's actually Japan that merits the closest analysis.

Much farther along in its post-growth phase, bloated with government debt and having tried a number of big-bang initiatives over the decades, Japan not the U.S. or Europe is leading the way. The country has never really recovered from the gigantic property and stock bubble over twenty years ago.

As proof, just consider the biggest trading story of the past 12 months. Was it the Federal Reserve's intention to taper? How about the chaos in emerging market currencies in countries like India and Indonesia? Or perhaps the continued economic depression in peripheral Europe, as countries like Spain, Portugal, and Greece re-run the 1930s, with mass unemployment and people burning wood from forests to say warm? No, not even such dramatic suffering in Europe was enough to move markets or the EUR currency much this past year.

Instead, it was Abenomics and the front-running (and then chasing) of wildly huge moves in both the Nikkei and JPY that helped drive liquidity and speculative juices across all markets. It is not a coincidence that the peak of this frenzy in May heralded the peak in many markets.

But Japan has more than a financial problem. Despite the hand-wringing about Japan's debt, the world has ignored for some time now Japan's debt-to-GDP, GDP on an absolute basis, and Japan's low cost of capital. Japan borrows. Japan prints. Japan devalues. But the world doesn't care.

An issue the world may finally begin to care about, however, is that Japan has failed to launch itself out of deflation and is making very little progress in its struggle now. Indeed, Japan has a demographics problem and a resources problem that far outweigh its financial problems. To this point, instead of launching into recovery, Japan is running with the resources Red Queen, as every step of its currency devaluation is met with rising costs to import the raw materials Japan uses to make its goods... » Read more

Blog

The Siren Song of the Robot

It may not be the boon we're counting on
Tuesday, January 29, 2013, 1:03 PM

The quest for cheap energy and cheap labor is a conquering human urge, one that has played out with notable ferocity starting with the Industrial Revolution. The introduction of coal into British manufacturing and the more recent outsourcing of Western manufacturing to Asia have marked key thresholds in this ongoing progression.

But despite the harvesting of additional productivity gains from the more recent revolution in information technology, the suite of macro data suggests that the rate of advancement in physical production has slowed, notably, in the past thirty years.

Seen in this light, the greatest gains to global industrial production were probably enjoyed from the late 18th century (when coal extraction and use began in earnest) into the mid-20th century (when oil reached broad distribution). In contrast, computers, the Internet, and the leveraging of developing world labor might eventually be seen as the finishing touches on this great industrial wave. » Read more