Posts Tagged ‘GDP’
by Phoenix Capital Research
While the world is awash in liquidity, no one seems to notice that it’s actually in the form of leverage or cheap debt, NOT real capital or equity.
The US banking system as a whole is leveraged at 13-to-1. While this is not horrible relative to Europe’s banking system (more on this in a moment), these levels still mean that an 8% drop in asset values wipes out ALL equity.
Then you have Europe’s banking system, which is leveraged at 26-to-1. Anecdotally, this is borderline Lehman Brothers (30 to 1). At these levels, even a 4% drop in asset prices wipes out ALL equity.
Japan’s banks are leveraged at 23 to 1. France’s are 26 to 1. Germany is 32 to 1.
You get the idea.
However, worse than any of these the US Federal Reserve. With $2.8 trillion in assets and only $52 billion in capital, the Fed is leveraged at 53 to 1. Yes, 53 to 1.
My question is: if the Fed prints money for itself… is it “raising capital?” More to the point… if that was true why doesn’t the Fed do it? Why maintain these leverage levels?
Only Bernanke can know… but the rest of us should feel a very serious shudder when we consider that THE bank that’s supposed to bailout the world/ fix the problems plaguing the financial system, is in fact even more leveraged that most of the institutions it’s helping.
Yes, stocks are rallying now based on the view that more QE 3 or monetary easing is on the way… but they’re missing the BIG picture here.
The BIG picture is that there is far too much debt in the financial system. Europe’s getting taken to the cleaners today… but these very same issues are going to spread to Japan and the US in short order. Even China, which is considered THE creditor nation of the world, is estimated to post a REAL Debt to GDP ratio of 200%.
Yes, 200%. China.
So the idea that somehow the world’s going to pass through this current chapter in its history without some MAJOR fireworks/ systemic failure, seems a little too optimistic.
Folks, something VERY bad is brewing behind the scenes. The Sarkozy- Merkel talks, the short-selling bans, the halted stocks, the leveraged EFSF, the hints of QE 3, all of this is telling us that the financial system is on DEFCON 1 Red Alert.
Ignore stocks, they’re ALWAYS the last to “get it.” The credit markets are jamming up just like they did in 2008. The banking system is flashing all the same signals as well.
Read the entire article HERE.
By: Erika Gudmundson
U.S. Department of the Treasury
April 4, 2011
The Honorable Harry Reid
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Mr. Leader:
I am writing to update you on the Treasury Department’s projections regarding when the statutory debt limit will be reached and to inform you about the limits of the available measures at our disposal to delay that date temporarily.
In our previous communications to Congress, we provided regular estimates of the likely time period in which the debt limit could be reached. We can now make that projection with more precision. The Treasury Department now projects that the debt limit will be reached no later than May 16, 2011. This is a projection based on the expected level of tax receipts, the timing of our commitments and obligations over the next several weeks, and our judgment concerning the level of cash balances we need to operate. Although these projections could change, we do not believe they are likely to change in a way that would give Congress more time in which to act. Treasury will provide an update of this projection in early May.
If the debt limit is not increased by May 16, the Treasury Department has authority to take certain extraordinary measures, described in detail in the appendix, to temporarily postpone the date that the United States would otherwise default on its obligations. These actions, which have been employed during previous debt limit impasses, would be exhausted after approximately eight weeks, meaning no headroom to borrow within the limit would be available after about July 8, 2011. At that point the Treasury would have no remaining borrowing authority, and the available cash balances would be inadequate for us to operate with a sufficient margin to meet our commitments securely.
As Secretary of the Treasury, I would prefer to avoid resorting to these extraordinary measures. The longer Congress fails to act, the more we risk that investors here and around the world will lose confidence in our ability to meet our commitments and our obligations.
If Congress does not act by May 16, I will take all measures available to me to give Congress additional time to act and to protect the creditworthiness of the country. These measures, however, only provide a limited degree of flexibility—much less flexibility than when our deficits were smaller.
As the leaders of both parties in both houses of Congress have recognized, increasing the limit is necessary to allow the United States to meet obligations that have been previously authorized and appropriated by Congress. Increasing the limit does not increase the obligations we have as a Nation; it simply permits the Treasury to fund those obligations that Congress has already established.
If Congress failed to increase the debt limit, a broad range of government payments would have to be stopped, limited or delayed, including military salaries and retirement benefits, Social Security and Medicare payments, interest on the debt, unemployment benefits and tax refunds. This would cause severe hardship to American families and raise questions about our ability to defend our national security interests. In addition, defaulting on legal obligations of the United States would lead to sharply higher interest rates and borrowing costs, declining home values and reduced retirement savings for Americans. Default would cause a financial crisis potentially more severe than the crisis from which we are only now starting to recover.
For these reasons, default by the United States is unthinkable. This is not a new or partisan judgment; it is a conclusion that has been shared by every Secretary of the Treasury, regardless of political party, in the modern era.
Treasury has been asked whether it would be possible for the Treasury to sell financial assets as a way to avoid or delay congressional action to raise the debt limit. This is not a viable option. To attempt a “fire sale” of financial assets in an effort to buy time for Congress to act would be damaging to financial markets and the economy and would undermine confidence in the United States.
Selling the Nation’s gold, for example, would undercut confidence in the United States both here and abroad. A rush to sell other financial assets, such as the remaining financial investments from the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act programs, would impose losses on American taxpayers and risk damaging the value of similar assets held by private investors without generating sufficient revenue to make an appreciable difference in when the debt limit must be raised. Likewise, for both legal and practical reasons, it is not feasible to sell the government’s portfolio of student loans.
Nor is it possible to avoid raising the debt limit by cutting spending or raising taxes. Because of the magnitude of past commitments by Congress, immediate cuts in spending or tax increases cannot make the necessary cash available. And, reductions in future spending commitments cannot supply the short-term cash needed. In order to avoid an increase in the debt limit, Congress would need to eliminate annual deficits immediately.
As the Congressional Research Service stated in its February 11, 2011 report:
“If the debt limit is reached and Treasury is no longer able to issue federal debt, federal spending would have to be decreased or federal revenues would have to be increased by a corresponding amount to cover the gap in what cannot be borrowed. To put this into context, the federal government would have to eliminate all spending on discretionary programs, cut nearly 70% of outlays for mandatory programs, increase revenue collection by nearly two-thirds, or take some combination of those actions in the second half of FY2011 (April through September 30, 2011) in order to avoid increasing the debt limit. Additional spending cuts and/or revenue increases would be required, under current policy, in FY2012 and beyond to avoid increasing the debt limit.” 
None of those budget policy choices is feasible or responsible. As a consequence, given that Congress has imposed on itself the requirement for periodic increases, there is no alternative to enactment of an increase in the debt limit.
I am encouraged that the leaders of both parties in both houses of Congress have clearly stated in public over the last few weeks and months that we cannot default on our obligations as a nation and therefore have to increase the debt limit. Because the date by which we need to increase the limit is growing nearer, I hope that the leadership in both houses will help us impress upon all Members the gravity of this issue and the imperative of timely action.
President Obama is strongly committed to working with both parties to restore fiscal responsibility, and he looks forward to working with Congress to achieve that critically important objective. In the meantime, it is critical that Congress act to increase the debt limit so that the full faith and credit of the United States is protected.
I hope this information is helpful as you plan the legislative schedule for the coming weeks.
Timothy F. Geithner
Identical letter sent to:
The Honorable John A. Boehner, Speaker of the House
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader
The Honorable Mitch McConnell, Senate Republican Leader
The Honorable Dave Camp, Chairman, House Committee on Ways and Means
The Honorable Sander M. Levin, Ranking Member, House Committee on Ways and Means
The Honorable Max Baucus, Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance
The Honorable Orrin Hatch, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Finance
All other Members of the 112th Congress
Read the entire post HERE.
The Economic Collapse
March 25, 2011
50,000 Manufacturing Jobs Have Been Lost Every Month Since 2001. Any economy that constantly consumes far more wealth than it produces is eventually going to be in for a very hard fall. Many point to relatively stable GDP numbers as evidence that the U.S. economy is doing okay, but the truth is that we have had to borrow increasingly massive amounts of money to keep GDP numbers up at that level. The U.S. government is going to run an all-time record deficit of about 1.65 trillion dollars this year and average household debt in the United States has now reached a level of 136% of average household income. But borrowing endless amounts of money and consuming massive amounts of wealth with that borrowed money is a road that leads to economic oblivion. The only way to have a healthy economy in the long run is to create wealth. But how can America create wealth if our industrial base is being absolutely destroyed? According to Forbes, the United States has lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobs per month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. Hundreds of formerly thriving industries in the United States are being totally wiped out. China uses every trick in the book to win trade battles. They deeply subsidize their domestic industries, they openly steal technology, they blatantly manipulate currency rates and they allow their citizens to be paid slave labor wages. So yes, the products coming from China are cheaper, but in the process tens of thousands of factories in the U.S. are shutting down, millions of jobs are being lost and the ability of America to create wealth is being compromised.
In 2010, the U.S. trade deficit was just a whisker under $500 billion. Much of that trade deficit was with China.
During 2010, we spent $365 billion on goods from China while they only spent $92 billion on goods from us.
Does a 4 to 1 ratio sound like a “fair and balanced” trade relationship to anyone out there?
Our trade deficit with China in 2010 was the largest trade deficit that one country has ever had with another country in the history of the world.
In fact, the U.S. trade deficit with China in 2010 was 27 times larger than it was back in 1990.
Needless to say, that is not a good trend.
Our industrial base and our ability to create wealth is being wiped out so rapidly that it has now become a very serious threat to our national security.
According to Forbes, there is only one steel plant inside the United States that is still capable of producing steel of high enough quality to meet the needs of the U.S. military, and even that plant has been bought by a European company.
Meanwhile, China produced 11 times as much steel as America did last year.
Not only that, China is now the number one supplier of components that are critical to the operation of U.S. defense systems.
How in the world did we let that happen?
So what happens if we have a conflict with China someday?
But of more immediate concern is the loss of jobs that the destruction of our industrial base is causing.
For example, the Ivex Packaging Paper plant in Joliet, Illinois just announced that it is shutting down for good after 97 years in business. 79 good jobs will be lost. Meanwhile, China has become the number one producer of paper products in the entire world.
But China is not just wiping the floor with us when it comes to things like steel and paper.
The truth is that China has now become the world’s largest exporter of high technology products. Back in 1998, the United States had 25 percent of the world’s high tech export market and China had just 10 percent. Ten years later, the United States had less than 15 percent and China’s share had soared to 20 percent.
So how is China doing it? Well, as noted above, they are pulling every trick that they can think of.
Most Americans think that we have “free trade” with nations such as China. That is a complete and total lie and anyone that believes that we have “free trade” with China does not know what they are talking about.
China subsidizes their domestic industries to such an extreme extent that many global industries no longer even come close to resembling “free markets” as a recent story in Forbes noted….
According to a story in the January 20, 2009 New York Times, government subsidies so thoroughly disrupted pricing in the global market for antibiotics that many western producers had to either move facilities to Asia or exit the business entirely. The reason this might matter to intelligence analysts is that the last U.S. source of key ingredients for antibiotics — a Bristol-Myers Squibb plant in East Syracuse, New York — has now closed, leaving the U.S. dependent on foreign sources in a future conflict.
Our politicians and our business leaders have pursued economic policies that are so self-destructive that it defies explanation.
How in the world could anyone be so stupid?
Since 2001, over 42,000 U.S. factories have closed down for good. Millions of jobs have been lost. The ability of the once great American economic machine to create wealth has been neutered.
The business environment in America is completely and totally pathetic at this point. The number of small businesses that are being created is also way, way down.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 403,765 small businesses were created in the 12 months that ended in March 2009. That was down 17.3% from the previous year, and it was the smallest number of small businesses created since records began being kept in 1977.
The truth is that the U.S. economy is dying.
We continue to consume about the same amount of wealth that we always have, but our net worth is declining.
According to the Federal Reserve, more than two-thirds of Americans have seen their net worth decline during this economic downturn. In fact, the Fed says that between 2007 and 2009, the wealth of the average American family declined by 23%.
So if it seems like your family and everyone around you is getting poorer, that is because it really is happening.
We really are becoming poorer as a nation.
We can see evidence of this all around us. Just consider a few of the examples that have been in the news in recent days….
*One school district in the Chicago area is laying off 363 teachers.
*The U.S. Postal Service is offering $20,000 buyouts to thousands of workers as they attempt to slash 7,500 good paying jobs.
*The city of Detroit, once a shining example of middle class America, is now a rotting cesspool of economic decline and it saw its population decline by 25 percent over the decade that recently ended.
Americans are not feeling the full impact of America’s industrial decline yet because we have been filling the gap in wealth creation with massive amounts of debt.
In the years since 1975, the United States had run a total trade deficit of 7.5 trillion dollars with the rest of the world. That 7.5 trillion dollars could have gone to support U.S. businesses and U.S. workers, but instead it left the country and went into the hands of foreigners that do not pay taxes.
Read the entire article HERE.
Submitted by Tyler Durden
02/11/2011 14:05 -0500
Just in case there was still any lingering doubt that prices in the US are surging far above whatever the CPI may indicate, we present the MIT Billion Price Project. Unlike the CPI which is a gross misrepresentation of what is really happening on the ground in price terms, MIT actually compiles real time price data about a universe of products. From the methodology section: “our data are collected every day from online retailers using a software that scans the underlying code in public webpages and stores the relevant price information in a database. The resulting dataset contains daily prices on the full array of products sold by these retailers. Our data include information on product descriptions, package sizes, brands, special characteristics (e.g. “organic”), and whether the item is on sale or price control.” The attached chart confirms what anyone (but not Ben Bernanke) who actually buys goods and services in the US knows all too well.
As for monthly inflation, compared to the CPI, it is also not pretty:
Original Source HERE.