If the U.S. economy really is improving, then why are big U.S. retailers permanently shutting down thousands of stores? The “retail apocalypse” that I have written about so frequently appears to be accelerating. As you will see below, major U.S. retailers have announced that they are closing more than 6,000 locations, but economic conditions in this country are still fairly stable. So if this is happening already, what are things going to look like once the next recession strikes? For a long time, I have been pointing to 2015 as a major “turning point” for the U.S. economy, and I still feel that way. And since I started The Economic Collapse Blog at the end of 2009, I have never seen as many indications that we are headed into another major economic downturn as I do right now. If retailers are closing this many stores already, what are our malls and shopping centers going to look like a few years from now?
Including the professional class, perhaps 3% of the workforce is truly independent.
Being self-employed (i.e. owning your own small business that does not require employees) is an integral part of the American Dream. Many start out dreaming of a corner office in Corporate America, but as they move up the ladder, many become disillusioned by the process and the goal: do I really want to spend my life making big-shots even wealthier?
Bureaucracies (government and corporate) are safe sources of employment, but at a cost: they're often soul-deadening.
Many dream of making a living doing something they actually care about, and that often means striking out on your own, i.e. self-employment.
This raises an interesting question: how many self-employed people in the U.S. actually earn a middle class income? Since all the government statistics have a line at $50,000, and $50,000 might support a minimal middle class lifestyle in areas with a low cost of living, let's use $50,000 in annual income as our minimum. ...
This is a particularly scary piece to me. Click through for the full post.
Get ready for another ride on the economic roller coaster.
Last week, we got bad news about the economy when it was announced that the US gross domestic product barely rose in the first three months of 2015.
And it looks as though the 0.2 percent annualized growth reported by the Commerce Department for the winter months will turn into a contraction when revisions are made at the end of May.
Worse, GDP in the second quarter hasn’t gotten much better. The Atlanta Federal Reserve’s GDPNow, which tracks the economy in real time, has GDP growing at a wimpy 0.8 percent annual rate in the second quarter.
So the economy is doing poorly, right? Right — but you might not believe that in a few days. Why not?
The gold market is suffering on two fronts, said Barclays, which is helping prices remain at a six-week low.
LONDON (Bullion Street): The gold market is suffering on two fronts, said Barclays, which is helping prices remain at a six-week low.
“Gold sits under a cloud of a firmer interest rate environment, and scope for the first rate hike since 2006. Its spirits have been further dampened by a lacklustre physical market in China and India,” said commodity analysts at Barclays.
Gold has failed to fire in 2015, but its legions of admirers can thank Asia for a more bullish longer-term outlook, according to ANZ Research.
In a recently released report, titled “East to El Dorado: Asia and the Future of Gold,” the Australian bank’s economists said Asia’s growing wealth and love for the yellow metal would see the gold price exceed $2,000 an ounce by 2025, compared to current prices around $1,200.
According to ANZ’s Warren Hogan and Victor Thianpiriya, Asia will represent over half the global economy by 2050, with rising incomes supporting increased demand for gold investments. China and India are already the world’s two biggest gold consumers, with three-quarters of the world’s supplies sent to Asia and the Middle East in recent years.
However, average gold demand in Asia’s emerging economies is currently only half the level of that in developed economies, with demand also boosted by cultural factors such as Indian weddings. “We estimate that total retail and institutional gold demand for the ‘Asia 10’ region could amount to almost 5,000 metric tons per annum by 2030, up from 2,500 tons currently,” the authors said. ...
Only those know to swim parallel to the shore can escape the destructive rip-tide of debt and speculative risk pulling everyone to insecurity and impoverishment.
Longtime correspondent Kevin K. recently shared an extremely insightful analogy of our financial peril. Those of you who swim or body-surf in the ocean are familiar with rip-tides--strong currents shaped by the contours of inlets and bays that pull unwary swimmers rapidly out to sea.
Those with experience of rip-tides know that it is futile to swim against the tide--those who try will only exhaust themselves, and be carried away despite their exertions.
The only way to escape the rip-tide is to swim parallel to the shore. This succeeds because the rip-tide is like a narrow river; once the swimmer moves out of the strong flow, the current's deadly pull quickly subsides. ...
The entire economic and political structure is now dependent in one way or another on the continued expansion of financial markets.
The financial markets don't just dominate the economy--they now control everything. In 1999, the BBC broadcast a 4-part documentary by Adam Curtis, The Mayfair Set ( Episode 1: "Who Pays Wins" 58 minutes), that explored the way financial markets have come to dominate not just the economy but the political process and society.
In effect, politicians now look to the markets for policy guidance, and any market turbulence now causes governments to quickly amend their policies to "rescue" the all-important markets from instability. ...
... It's not just banks that have become too big to fail; the markets themselves are now too influential and big to fail. ...
China intends to ramp up trade with Russia to $100 billion in 2015, the Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Hui has said. The $4.7 billion increase from last year cements the countries commitment to boosting cooperation in finance and energy.
"We intend to increase bilateral trade to $100 billion this year,” Hui said at a news conference in Moscow Wednesday, as quoted by TASS. In 2014, trade between the two countries was worth $95.3 billion.
In a move to further internationalise the use of its currency in global trade, China appears to be seeking to have the yuan included in the basket of currencies that make up the IMF’s Special Drawing Right. Currently the US Dollar, the Euro, The British Pound Sterling and the Japanese yen in varying percentages form the current SDR basket, but this is due for review this year with initial meetings to be held next month and a final decision on any changes to the basket should be made by October.
Why is all this suddenly seen as so significant? China has already had some considerable success in internationalising the use of the yuan through bilateral deals but the general consensus is that it would like it to be recognised as A global reserve currency. Perhaps not THE global reserve currency – yet – but to rank alongside the dollar in particular given it sees that the...
Western banks are reportedly refusing to transfer foreign currency payments from Crimea via the SWIFT transaction system. In December Visa, MasterCard and PayPal stopped providing services to the peninsula.
Transactions by residents and companies registered in Crimea are not being processed and even blocked, the Russian newspaper Vedomosti said on Tuesday, referring to unnamed official of one of the payment systems.
“If a client is registered in Crimea, foreign banks will block the foreign currency payments made by him,” another official from one of the Russian payment systems was cited as saying to the newspaper.
From Jeff Thomas for Doug Casey’s International Man:
Historically, when a nation’s debt exceeds its ability to repay even the interest, it can be assumed that the currency will collapse. Typically, governments exacerbate the situation by printing large amounts of currency notes in an effort to inflate the problem away, or at least postpone it.
The greater the level of debt, the more dramatic the inflation must be to counter it. The more dramatic the inflation, the greater the danger that hyperinflation will take place. No government has ever been able to control hyperinflation. If it occurs, it does so quickly and always ends with a crash.
Although there are observers (myself included) who frequently discuss what a reserve-currency crash would mean to the world, there is little or no discussion as to how this would impact people on the street level, and perhaps that discussion should begin.
May 5 – Gold $1193.80 up $6.20 - Silver $16.56 up 14 cents
"When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost." … Billy Graham
As is almost always the case, the price of gold was leaned on at the standard PLAN A time in London when The Gold Cartel traders reported for work, but their nudge was thwarted pretty quickly. Gold took off again going into the Comex trading hours and managed to reach $1200 where it was stopped dead in its tracks. James Mc early this morning…
Rules are rules
Bill, Yesterday’s circled number was $1186.30, and while gold slightly exceeded it, and the 1% rule at the end of the day there was a clear gravitational pull bringing it back. After the 6:00 PM access trade opened it was clearly being held in check for the next 7 hours right around $1186. Cartel rule #1 is also apparent today; with the high tick so far exactly today’s circled number of $1198.70. As of 10:10 AM gold is getting the kitchen sink thrown at it at +1%. As always any big nearby number such as $1200 is irrelevant. It’s all about control, and the fact that $1200 is nearby is just coincidence. The cartel has proven over and over they will stop gold rallies at ANY number, as long as it is the prescribed percentage.
Money manager and financial expert Catherine Austin Fitts is worried about exploding global debt. It has almost doubled since 2007, and Fitts says, “Yes, I am worried about it, and I still think the chance for collapse is relatively small, but I am very worried about the level of violence going up to deal with the tensions resulting from this. If you look at the debt, there are several things to point out. One, the debt is very high, but it is bifurcated between who is borrowing a currency they can print and people who are borrowing a currency they can’t print. That’s of great concern to us because with a global slowdown, a lot of people have borrowed in dollars, and now they got to pay it back at the same time they have to earn dollars, where it is tougher to do.”
Recent Reuters headline: China’s gold imports from Hong Kong dipped to 7-month low. The brief article which followed implied that Chinese gold demand was also dropping in commenting that Honk Kong imports remain a proxy for Chinese gold demand. They used to be, but not any more!
A more significant article from Bloomberg on Swiss gold exports- probably by far the biggest source of Chinese gold imports – in March noted that 46.4 tonnes was exported directly to mainland China, and only 30 tonnes to Hong Kong. Thus 60% to China and 40% to Hong Kong. This massive change in gold export routes from a year earlier when most Swiss gold going to China was still being routed through Hong Kong, failed to elicit any comment at the time. We had noted earlier here also that U.S. gold exports to China were increasingly being sent direct after virtually all going through Hong Kong in early 2014: 36% of October U.S. gold exports to China went direct rather than via Hong Kong
During January to March period this year, China's retail jewellery sales grew to RMB81.9 billion ($13.2 billion), an increase of 3.6% from a year earlier.
BEIJING (Bullion Street): China's retail jewellery sales advanced in March this year, according to latest government data.
Retail sales of gold, silver and jewellery in China during March totalled RMB25.8 billion ($4.15 billion), rose 19.3% from a year earlier, JNA reported citing data from the National Bureau of Statistics of China.
May 1 (Gold Investing News) — Earlier this month, Switzerland was in the spotlight when it became the first country to sell 10-year government bonds with a negative yield.
Many investors wondered what the news would mean for the gold space, and Resource Investing News took a stab at answering that question, ultimately determining that it’s tough to say what the impact might be. Indeed, HSBC’s Stephen Major likely summed it up best with the statement, “[w]e have unconventional central bank policies at work so you have to expect unconventional outcomes.”
A similar topic came to the fore this week, and while it’s just as complicated, its impact for precious metals investors is a little more clear. Here’s a breakdown of that topic and what its impact could be. ...
The US economy has suddenly stalled. A blizzard of shockingly weak figures raise the awful possibility that America's six-year growth cycle since the Great Recession has already rolled over, with unsettling implications for the world. Worse yet, this apparent exhaustion is taking hold even before the Federal Reserve has begun to raise interest rates or to drain any of its $3.7 trillion of quantitative easing and balance-sheet expansion. Former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers warned in Davos earlier this year that the Fed typically needs to cut rates by three or four percentage points to combat each cyclical downturn. It is currently at zero. "Are we anywhere near the point when we have 3pc or 4pc running room to cut rates? This is why I am worried," he said.
Japan continues to provide the best refutation of monetary policy as anything other than destructive. With its economy stripped bare of dynamic essentials after thirty years of the Bank of Japan’s “lead”, marginal changes are left as remnants of nothing more than monetary transmission. In the space of QQE, that has used up and destroyed what was left of Japan’s once-dominant trade position, leaving the economy to hollow out from the inside as Japan Inc transfers to Offshore Inc.
Even the press toward the 2% inflation target has been pushed back, as if 2 years and a quadrillion (give or take a few trillions) yen were not enough to begin with. Back in April 2013, BoJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda mentioned that his policy would be “flexible” (using that exact term) with regard to reaching the target and the manner in doing so, but it was clear then that he was talking about the exact opposite case ...
Click through for the rest. But this is how QE works. Benefiting the upper echelon.
April 28 (WSJ) — China’s gold consumption showed signs of recovering in the first three months this year after plunging in 2014, as relatively low bullion prices attract Asian interest, especially in gold jewelry. Demand in the first quarter rose 1.1% compared with a year earlier to 326.68 metric tons, China Gold Association president Song Xin said Tuesday. China is likely to maintain this trend in demand growth for the rest of this year, Mr. Song said at an industry conference.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta has already calculated that the first-quarter GDP will be 0.1 percent on an annualized basis. Put in plain English, this means that the economy grew a barely noticeable 0.025 percent during 2015’s first three months. Let me paint you a picture another way: If someone hadn’t purchased two packs of bubble gum in Peoria, the GDP might have been negative. The excitement will come if Commerce manages to come up with a number that’s substantially different than that of the Atlanta Fed, which just started keeping regular tabs on GDP.
The country’s total gold production during the previous fiscal year from April 2014 to March 2015 dropped nearly 8% when compared with the previous fiscal year. India gold output dropped 8% to 1.43 tonne in FY 2015
Just like in the world of fashion, economic terminologies come in and out of vogue. One such economic term trending recently is Secular Stagnation. First proposed by Keynesian economist Alvin Hansen back in the 1930s, Secular Stagnation was coined to explain America's dismal economic performance -- in which sluggish growth and employment levels were well below potential. The term is now back in style thanks to the likes of the contemporary heroes of Keynesian economics, like Larry Summers and Paul Krugman; and is based on the notion that a chronic savings glut has resulted in the economy operating well below potential. The notion that the developed world is trapped in some type of stagnation is something I can agree with. However, the reasoning offered for this stagnation completely dismisses the role of central banks and assumes low growth and interest rates are instead being driven by those pesky savers.
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