Social Security Recipients May be in for a Rude Awakening Later this Year

There’s a larger problem: aligning retiree spending with Social Security checks

Social Security beneficiaries might not receive much of a cost-of-living adjustment next year — and some say recipients might not get anything at all.

COLA is linked to the consumer-price index, which has suffered lately because of low oil prices. Based on the CPI data between January and April of this year, COLA for next year would be zero, according to Mary Johnson, a Social Security policy analyst for The Senior Citizens League. There are still five months until the administration announces the COLA for 2021, which occurs in October.

Social Security benefits aren’t linked to retiree spending — and that’s a problem.

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Statistical Misdirection

By Alasdair Macleod – Re-Blogged From Gold Eagle

Economists who understand credit cycles expect the current cycle to enter its crisis stage at any moment. Furthermore, it combines with increasing trade tariffs between the two largest economies to echo the conditions that led to the 1929-32 Wall Street crash and the subsequent depression.

With the dollar tied to gold, there was no doubt about how the collapse in demand affected asset, commodity and consumer prices ninety years ago. If the turn of the current cycle leads to a similar outcome, it is unlikely to be properly reflected in official statistics for GDP.

This article explains why GDP is a statistical fallacy, and the use of an inflation deflator is not only inappropriate but has been manipulated to produce an outcome that wrongly attributes success to monetary policies. Therefore, if an economic slump follows the coming credit crisis, it is unlikely to be reflected in these key government statistics.

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It’s All About Real Rates Not The Dollar

By Michael Pento – Re-Blogged From Gold Eagle

The Federal Reserve’s recent need to supply $100’s of billions in new credit for the overnight repo market underscores the condition of dollar scarcity in the global financial system. This dearth of dollars and its concomitant strength has left most market watchers baffled.

Since 2008, the Fed has printed $3.8 trillion (with a “T”) of new dollars in an effort to weaken the currency and boost asset prices–one would then think the world should now be awash in dollar liquidity. Yet, surprisingly, there is still an insatiable demand for the greenback, leading many to wonder what is causing its strength.  And importantly for precious metals investors, there is a need to understand why this dreaded dollar strength has not served to undermine the bull market for gold.

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Measuring Recession

By Alasdair Macleod – Re-Blogged From Gold Money

Using nominal GDP, or GDP deflated by the CPI, as the principal guide to the state of the economy is a common mistake which will eventually prove very costly. Having convinced themselves that GDP measures economic progress, government statisticians have suppressed evidence of price inflation, giving the illusion of economic growth. Policy makers appear unaware that they are leeching ordinary people and their businesses of their wealth to the point where an economic and monetary collapse becomes inevitable. This article exposes how the authorities use GDP and the CPI to conceal the true deterioration of an economy.

Introduction

When an economy turns from expansion to contraction there is an order of events. The first signs are an unexpected increase in inventories of unsold goods, both accompanied with and followed by business surveys indicating a general softening in demand. For monetarists, this is often confirmed by an inverting yield curve, which tells them that at the margin the short-term rates set by the central bank are becoming too high for business conditions.

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Inflation Rises Most Since September 2008

Summary

Inflation as measured by the “core” Consumer Price Index, which removes the volatile food and energy segments, jumped in August at the highest rate in 11 years, by 2.39%, a smidgen above the prior peaks of July 2018 (2.35%), February 2016 (2.33%), and April 2012 (2.32%).

The US is currently undergoing the second oil-and-gas bust since mid-2014, or same oil-and-gas bust, with two parts separated by a sucker rally. And so energy prices, which have a weight of 7.8% in the overall CPI, dropped 4.4% from a year ago, with gasoline and diesel prices falling 7.0%.

In August, the CPI for services rose by 2.70% compared to a year ago.

In terms of percent change, the CPI for durable goods in August ticked up 0.6% – the fastest increase since May 2012.

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Alternate Inflation Charts

Re-Blogged From Shadow Stats

The CPI chart on the home page reflects our estimate of inflation for today as if it were calculated the same way it was in 1990. The CPI on the Alternate Data Series tab here reflects the CPI as if it were calculated using the methodologies in place in 1980. In general terms, methodological shifts in government reporting have depressed reported inflation, moving the concept of the CPI away from being a measure of the cost of living needed to maintain a constant standard of living.

Further definition is provided in our  CPI Glossary. Further background on the SGS-Alternate CPI series is available in our Public Comment on Inflation Measurement.

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New Inflation Indicator

By Keith Weiner – Re-Blogged From Gold Eagle

Last week, we wrote that regulations, taxes, environmental compliance, and fear of lawsuits forces companies to put useless ingredients into their products. We said:

“For example, milk comes from the ingredients of: land, cows, ranch labor, dairy labor, dairy capital equipment, distribution labor, distribution capital, and consumable containers.”

There are eight necessary ingredients, without which milk cannot be produced.

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Will The Fed Cut Its Interest Rate Forecast

By Arkadiusz Sieroń – Re-Blogged From Gold Eagle

Some important pieces of the US economic reports, including the latest nonfarm payrolls, have disappointed recently. May indicators (including the leading ones) have hit a soft patch it seems. Will that push the Fed to downgrade its dot-plot or fine-tune the monetary policy mix anyhow? Can gold jump in reaction to the Wednesday’s FOMC policy meeting?

February Payrolls Disappoint

U.S. nonfarm payrolls plunged in February, falling way short of expectations. The economy added just 20,000 jobs last month, following a rise of 311,000 in January (after an upward revision) and significantly below 172,000 forecasted by the economists. The number was the smallest increase since September 2017, as one can see in the chart below. On an annual basis, the pace of job creation increased slightly last month to 1.8 percent.

Chart 1: Monthly changes in employment gains (red bars, in thousands of persons) from February 2014 to February 2019

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President Trump’s Trade Tantrum Triggers Slump

By Alasdair Macleod – Re-Blogged From Silver Phoenix

For decades, Western governments have been pursuing a policy of transferring wealth from the public to themselves, their licensed banks and the banks’ favoured customers by means of interest rate suppression and monetary inflation. Consequently, inflation of financial asset prices has benefited the financial sector to the detriment of those employed in the productive economy. Over time, this has badly weakened productive capacity and the long-term ability of the market economy to fund future government spending.

It is a situation which seems bound to eventually lead to major economic and monetary problems. Additionally, global economic prospects have worsened considerably as a result of President Trump’s tariff wars against China and others. Empirical evidence from the 1930s as well as economic analysis illustrate how trade tariffs have a devastating effect on domestic economic activity, a prospect wholly unexpected by today’s economists.

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Are Stocks Overvalued?

By Keith Weiner – Re-Blogged From Silver Phoenix

We could also have entitled this essay How to Measure Your Own Capital Destruction. But this headline would not have set expectations correctly. As always, when looking at the phenomenon of a credit-fueled boom, the destruction does not occur when prices crash. It occurs while they’re rising. But people don’t realize it, then, because rising prices are a lot of fun. They don’t realize their losses until the crash. So we want to look at stocks when they’re high, before people realize what’s happened to them.

How do you value a stock? The classic methodology, proposed by Benjamin Graham and Warren Buffet, is to discount future free cash flows. Let’s leave aside the problem of how to predict future revenues much less cash flows in our crazy resonant system with positive feedback. For purposes of this discussion, we will just assume that a stock generates a known and constant cash flow of, say, $1 per year, in perpetuity.

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Does Flat CPI In November Imply Flat Gold?

By Arkadiusz Sieron – Re-Blogged From Gold Eagle

Zero. The US inflation rate was unchanged in November. What does the flat CPI mean for the gold market?

What Happened With Inflation?

The CPI was unchanged in November, following an increase of 0.3 percent in October. It was the weakest number since March 2018, when monthly inflation fell about 0.1 percent. However, the flat reading was caused by a sharp decline in the price of gasoline – that subindex dropped 4.2 percent in November, offsetting increases in an array of prices including shelter and used cars and trucks. But the core CPI, which excludes food and energy prices, increased 0.2 percent last month, the same change as in October. So, don’t worry about the upcoming deflation.

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Wholesale Prices Rise Most in 6 Years as Gasoline, Food Jump

By Associated Press – Re-Blogged From Newsmax

U.S. wholesale prices rose by the most in six years last month, led higher by more expensive gas, food, and chemicals.

The Labor Department said Friday that the producer price index — which measures price increases before they reach the consumer — leapt 0.6 percent in October, after a smaller 0.2 percent rise in September. Producer prices increased 2.9 percent from a year earlier.

The “Strong Dollar” Buys Less

By Clint Siegner – Re-Blogged From Gold Eagle

Some of last week’s weakness in the stock market was attributed to surprisingly week jobs report on Friday. Non-farm payrolls came in significantly below projections.

However, much of that weakness was explained by Hurricane Florence. And the headline unemployment rate dropped to 3.7% – the lowest in almost 50 years.

Much was made of that, while almost nothing was made of the rate of employment at 60.4% – also near 50-year lows.

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The Yield Curve and Recession

   By Bob Shapiro

The Federal Reserve (FED) has raised interest rates 7 times during its latest tightening cycle, after almost 10 years of its previous rate suppression binge.

What tended to have happened in previous interest rate tightenings is that shorter term interest rates have risen somewhat faster than long rates, and at some point, short rates catch up to and pass long rates. This rare situation is referred to as an ‘Inverted Yield Curve.’

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Your Incredibly Shrinking Dollar

By Peter Schiff – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com

Over the last 12 months, the purchasing power of your dollar has dropped at the fastest rate since 2011.

According to the latest data released by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) jumped by 2.8% year-over-year in May. That follows on the heels of a 2.5% leap year-over-year in April.

In other words, prices are going up. That’s not good news for people who buy stuff.

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The Dangers of Investing Based on Phony Government Statistics

By Stefan Gleason – Re-Blogged From Money Metals Exchange

President Donald Trump recently took to Twitter to boast, “The U.S. has an increased economic value of more than 7 Trillion Dollars since the Election. May be the best economy in the history of our country. Record Jobs numbers. Nice!”

“We ran out of words to describe how good the jobs numbers are,” reported Neil Irwin of the New York Times, amplified in a Trump retweet. If you believe the headline numbers, joblessness is at a generational low with the economy booming.

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Greg Weldon: Stock Market “As Overextended As Anything I’ve Ever Seen”

By Mike Gleason – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com

Mike Gleason: It is my privilege now to welcome in Greg Weldon, CEO and President of Weldon Financial. Greg has over three decades of market research and trading experiencing, specializing in the metals and commodity markets and even authored a book in 2006 titled, Gold Trading Boot Camp where he accurately predicted the implosion of the U.S. credit market and urged people to buy gold when it was only $550 an ounce. He’s a highly sought-after presenter at financial conferences throughout the country and is a regular guest on many popular financial shows, and it’s great to have him back here on the Money Metals Podcast.

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Gettin’ High On Bubbles

By Keith Weiner – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com

Back in the drug-soaked, if not halcyon, days known at the sexual and drug revolution—the 1960’s—many people were on a quest for the “perfect trip”, and the “perfect hit of acid” (the drug lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD). We will no doubt generate some hate mail for saying this, but we don’t believe that anyone ever attained that goal. The perfect drug-induced high does not exist. Even if it seems fun while it lasts, the problem is that the consequences spill over into the real world.

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Currency Exchange Value Dynamics

By Alasdair Macleod – Re-Blogged From http://www.Silver-Phoenix500.com

In a recent article I postulated that the dollar could lose all its purchasing power with a rapidity that will come as an unpleasant bombshell, even to those who already see inflation as society’s greatest problem in the future. The key to understanding why this may be so lies in human reactions to the monetary consequences of the next credit crisis. The undermining of the dollar as a currency affects all other fiat currencies, because it is the reserve currency and all financial markets use it as the pricing medium for commodities and for much of international trade.

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Inflation Is Not Under Control

By Keith Weiner – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com

Let’s continue on our topic of capital consumption. It’s an important area of study, as our system of central bank socialism imposes many incentives to consume and destroy capital. As capital is the leverage that increases the productivity of human effort, it is vital that we understand what’s happening. We do not work harder today, than they worked 200 years ago, or in the ancient world. Yet we produce so much more, that obesity is a disease more of the poor than the rich. Destruction of capital will cause us to produce less, and that will mean reverting to a lower quality of life.

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As a Matter of INTEREST, Talk of Inflation Fear, the Fed’s Perfect Unwind, Concern about Wages is ALL Economic Denial

By David Haggith – Re-Blogged From Great Recession Blog

The Federal Reserve is now hacking its own zombie recovery to death and eating it by reversing the actions it employed to create this artificially supported recovery. Each time the Fed unwinds its balance sheet, 10-year bond rates recoil, and the stock market dances along in countermoves and wild swings. The main theme of my blog has always been that the Fed’s centrally planned economic recovery dies as soon as the artificial life-support is removed.

Blinded by economic denial because they are evangelists to the Fed’s religion, market pundits are finding any rationale they can to avoid connecting the Fed’s Great Unwind with these huge swings in long-term interest rates and the obviously corresponding counter-swings of the stock market. For those who have eyes to see, however, it should be clear that the world’s largest bond and stock markets are shuddering as the supports are removed.

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Unsound Money Is Crucifying Pensions

By Alasdair Macleod – Re-Blogged From http://www.Silver-Phoenix500.com

Deficits are mounting in pension obligations. It is a global problem over which pension trustees are helpless. It is also a problem that’s brushed under the carpet, with prospective and current pensioners generally unaware of the threat to their retirement. Investors in companies with defined benefit schemes, schemes which promise an inflation-adjusted entitlement based on final salary, generally ignore this important issue, as do most stock market analysts. Analysts know the deficits are there, but so long as they are buried in the notes to the accounts and not actually represented in-your-face on balance sheets, the assumption appears to be they can ignore them.

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Trump’s Tax Cuts: The Good, The Bad, and the Inflationary

By Stefan Gleason – Re-Blogged From Money Metals Exchange

At last, tax reform is happening! Last week, President Donald Trump celebrated the passage of the most important legislation so far of his presidency.

The final bill falls far short of the “file on a postcard” promise of Trump’s campaign. It even falls short of the bill trotted out by Congressional Republicans just a few weeks ago. It is, nevertheless, the most significant tax overhaul in more than a decade.

Corporations and most individual taxpayers will see lower overall rates. That’s the good news.

Unfortunately, there is also some not so good news investors need to be aware of.

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Out Of Money By November 29th

By Dan Amerman – Re-Blogged From http://www.Silver-Phoenix500.com

“Social Security benefit indexing is not only not based on retiree expenses – but quite ironically, it is designed to exclude retiree expenses.”

In this analysis we will combine two “technicalities” that many people have probably never even thought about, and show how in combination and over the course of a retirement – they can completely change our day to day quality of life.

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Out Of Money By December 12th – Social Security Partial Inflation Indexing (Part 2)

By Daniel Amerman – Re-Blogged From http://www.Silver-Phoenix500.com

Most advice on long-term planning for retirement and Social Security benefits is based on the assumption that Social Security will fully keep up with inflation. As we are establishing in this series of analyses, the full inflation indexing of Social Security is a myth and there are major implications for standard of living in retirement as well as the associated decisions with regard to both Social Security and investment planning.

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Jobs, Wages, and Growth

   By Bob Shapiro

I posted an article wondering why wages haven’t been going up faster, considering that the Jobs picture looks so good. Though many of you may agree with the article, I’d like to offer an alternative point of view.

Have jobs been increasing dramatically? No, the official numbers are being misreported in news stories. What IS happening is that the US jobs market continues to lose full time workers while gaining a larger number of part time positions.

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Really Bad Ideas, Part 5: An Inflation Target

By John Rubino – Re-Blogged From Dollar Collapse

Central banks in general and the Fed in particular are struggling to understand a world in which they’ve thrown everything they have at the economy without generating “beneficial” inflation. Their confusion can be traced back to some profoundly false assumptions.

Here’s a good overview of the current debate:

Fed ‘should defend’ inflation target or risk losing credibility: Bullard

(Reuters) – The Fed needs to mount a clear defense of its 2 percent inflation target and stop raising rates until the pace of price increases strengthens, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said on Thursday.

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The Best Predictor Of Future Inflation Is Flashing “WARNING!”

By Graham Summers – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com

The Fed is dramatically understating real inflation.

As you know, I’ve been very critical of the Fed’s inflation measures for years. The official inflation measure (Consumer Price Index or CPI) does a horrible job of measuring the actual cost of living for Americans.

I have long stated that this is intentional as the purpose of CPI is to hide the true rate of inflation so the Fed can paper over the decline in living standards that has plagued the US for the last few decades.

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Fed’s Dudley Drops Bombshell: Low Inflation “Actually Might Be a Good Thing”

By Wolf Richter – Re-Blogged From Wolf Street

QE unwind in September, “another rate hike later this year.”

The media have been talking themselves into a lather about how the less-than-2% inflation would force the Fed to stop hiking rates. But William Dudley, president of the New York Fed and one of the most influential voices on the policy-setting Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC), just dropped a stunning bombshell about low inflation – why it might be low and how that “actually might be a good thing.”

The kickoff for unwinding QE appears to be in the can. There’s unanimous support for it on the FOMC. It appears to be scheduled for the September meeting. The market has digested the coming “balance sheet normalization.” Stocks have risen and long-term yields have fallen, and financial conditions have eased further, which is the opposite of what the Fed wants to accomplish; it wants to tighten financial conditions. So it will keep tightening its policy until financial conditions are tightening.

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Inflation Is No Longer In Stealth Mode

By Mark O’Byrne – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com

  • IHS Markit index shows UK households pessimistic about finances for 2017-208
  • UK household finances remain under intense pressure from rising living costs
  • 58 percent of respondents expected higher interest rates in 12 months time
  • Inflation in the United Kingdom currently at near four-year high
  • Prices up prices by 2.9pc year-on-year, biggest annual increase since June 2013
  • In May consumer spending in the UK fell for the first time in almost four years

By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. John Maynard Keynes, The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919)

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The Housing Bubble Is Back

By John Rubino – Re-Blogged From Dollar Collapse

Last week I ran into a friend whom I’d been worrying about. He’s a real estate appraiser and his work had been drying up as interest rates rose and homeowners stopped refinancing their mortgages.

But now he’s back to being happily swamped because instead of refinancing, everyone is buying — often, he says, for above the asking price.

A couple of days later my wife and I were at a slide show put on by friends just back from New Zealand. They’d heard that a neighbor was thinking about selling his house and on an impulse made him an offer. He accepted, and our friends became instant homeowners.

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Median Household Wealth Has Declined by 40 Percent Since 2007

By John Mauldin – Re-Blogged From http://www.newsmax.com

Nominal US household wealth is at an all-time high. But my friend Marc Faber (publisher of the Gloom Boom & Doom Report) says that’s mostly an illusion.

Below, Marc looks at the relationship between asset prices and US household wealth, and the effect of that relationship on the economy.

It seems the wealth of the top 0.1% has vastly improved in recent decades (and the top 10% haven’t done at all badly). But “the median household’s or asset owner’s wealth has declined by close to 40% in real terms (adjusted by the CPI) from its peak in 2007.”

Image: Marc Faber: Median Household Wealth Has Declined by 40 Percent Since 2007

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Markets – PMs vs Stocks

cropped-bob-shapiro.jpg   By Bob Shapiro

Precious Metals have been referred to as the Anti-Stock Market. It’s easy to see, looked at over long periods of time, that when Stock indices are in Bull Markets, Gold & Silver generally move downward. And, when stocks go into Bear Markets, the Metals shine.

Surely, this relationship is not ironclad, but it does hold more often than not. So, looking at Stocks can provide an edge when trying to tell the future direction for Gold & Silver.

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Perilous Government Finances

By Alasdair Macleod – Re-Blogged From http://www.Silver-Phoenix500.com

President-elect Trump stated in his victory speech that he intends to make America great again by infrastructure spending. Unfortunately, he is unlikely to have the room for manoeuvre to achieve this ambition as well as his intended tax cuts, because the Government’s finances are already in a perilous state.

It is also becoming increasingly likely that the next fiscal year will be characterised by growing price inflation and belated increases in interest rates, against a background of rising raw material prices. That being the case, public finances are not only already fragile, but they are likely to become more so from now on, without any extra spending on infrastructure or fiscal stimulus. So far, most informed commentaries on the prospects for inflation have concentrated on the negative effects of an expansionary monetary policy on the private sector. With the pending appointment of a new President with ideas of his own, this article turns our attention to the effects on government finances.

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Lying About Inflation While Food Prices Skyrocket

By Dale Netherton – Re-Blogged From iPatriot

Here’s an interesting statistic. In a recent survey, the Food and Agriculture Organization said its index which monitors monthly price changes for a variety of staples averaged 231 points in January — the highest level since records began in 1990.  This was in 2011.  How can this be ignored by so many?  The government has decided food prices are too volatile to be considered in how we measure inflation.  Doesn’t this theory have to be substantiated when food prices are not volatile and just keep rising?  What difference does it make to the consumer if what they are paying more for is considered exempt from being reported?  In other words the price you are paying for food is going up but we are not going to report it going up because it might go down?  Meanwhile if you are on a fixed income you will have to do with less while we cast an illusion that the inflation we are creating with printed money won’t be reported as threatening to your standard of living.

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Preparing For Post-Election Social Unrest

By Mike Gleason – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com

The 2016 election year is bringing out the worst among some elements of society. From vandalism to physical assaults to large scale race riots to terrorist bombings and mall stabbings, social disorder has become a more prominent feature of life in a polarized America.

It’s easy (and politically convenient) for the establishment media to blame Donald Trump for inflaming the political divide. In reality, Trump supporters have far more often been the victims rather than the instigators of political violence.

Moreover, the forces driving social unrest have been building for years. And they are being encouraged and funded by far-left organizations.

The riotous “Black Lives Matter” movement has received more than $100 million from leftist foundations including billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Institute.

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Housing Bubble II – It’s Happening Again

By Andy Sutton & Graham Mehl – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com

This will be a bit different article because we are not reporting on something that has already happened; we’re dealing with something that is ongoing and developing. Graham will handle roughly the first half of the article, then Andy will handle the second. Please bear with us as we try to break this editorial into two distinct pieces. You’ll understand as you read it why we chose to handle this in such a fashion.

Since everything in the blogosphere goes by what is officially declared by who, so forth, and so on, ditto, ditto, etc, etc, we are officially declaring there is yet ANOTHER bubble – this one in housing. Again. Perhaps ‘still’ is the proper word rather than ‘again since the first one never really was totally washed out of the system. As an addendum to our very well-received ‘American Economics’ piece, we’ll add a corollary: binges are good, purges are not to be tolerated unless absolutely necessary. If a purge becomes necessary, it will be only enough to give the Proletariat the idea that the problem is actually gone. A purge will never last longer than is absolutely necessary since that might affect consumer spending and the consumetariat’s voracious appetite for debt and financial self-mutilation.

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The Fed Has Set Us Up For A Massive 50% Market Collapse

By Graham Summers – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com

The Fed is running a virtual repeat of 1937.

The common narrative is that the Fed “didn’t do enough” during the Great Depression. This is used to justify the Fed’s use of non-stop extraordinary monetary policy post-2008.

But it’s a total lie.

The Fed went bananas in the aftermath of 1929, expanding its balance sheet by 300%. On a relative basis, the Fed’s balance sheet grew from 5% of US GDP to 23% of GDP.

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Federal Reserve Risks Markets Shock With September Rate Hike

Re-Blogged From http://www.Newsmax.com

Janet Yellen will deliver “the biggest shock to markets since taking over as chair of the Federal Reserve” should the U.S. central bank raise interest rates this month, a Financial Times survey of Wall Street economists has found.

The FT reported that 85 percent of those polled expect the central bank to refrain from a rate hike at a meeting next week.

The central bank last raised borrowing costs in December, ending seven years of near-zero rates. Policymakers signaled in June they could still hike rates twice in what remained of 2016.

Policymakers will go into the meeting divided, with some concerned current low rates will fuel a surge in inflation while another camp has argued that the Fed should not rush to raise rates.

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Ready or Not the Recession May Have Already Arrived

By Michael Pento – Re-Blogged From http://www.PentoPort.com

While investors have been focused on the perennial failed hope for a second half economic recovery, they have been missing the most salient point: the US most likely entered into a recession at the end of last quarter.

That’s right, when adjusting nominal GDP growth for Core Consumer Price Inflation for the average of the past two-quarters the recession is already here. But before we look deeper into this, let’s first look at the following five charts that illustrate the economy has been steadily deteriorating for the past few years and that the pace of decline has recently picked up steam.

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Negative US Yields

cropped-bob-shapiro.jpg   By Bob Shapiro

The real – after inflation – yield on US Treasuries is NEGATIVE all the way down the maturity yield curve.

As I write, the 30 year T-Bond is listed at 2.14%. The May CPI came in at 0.2% – in line with the recent trend – showing the CPI rising at a 2.4% annual rate. So a 2.14% yield and a 2.4% CPI indicates a negative real yield of -0.26% per year. Over the 30 year life of a T-Bond, an “investor” would be guaranteed to lose about 7.5% of his capital!

Yields Curve 070516

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Brexit and the US

cropped-bob-shapiro.jpg   By Bob Shapiro

It’s official – UK voters have chosen to take themselves out of the European Community and to resume taking responsibility for their own economic fate.

Predictably, world markets, as well as the Pound and Euro, have reacted with irrational fear. I expect that it won’t be long before all these markets’ participants realize that the world hasn’t ended. At least a major part of today’s panic likely will be reversed, possibly as early as Monday.

The actual exit of the UK from the EC will take upwards of two years to become final. A lot can happen in that time. A lot of the UK’s potential benefit from Brexit can be negotiated away or legislated away.

The big benefit that I see is the hundreds of thousands of pages of EC regulations no longer applying – no longer impoverishing – the people of the UK. However, it is far from unlikely that some UK legislators are petrified at the prospects of the Freedom – they may try to legislatively protect their Economy from “suffering the full benefits.”

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Startling Inflation News Illustrates The Failure Of Easy Money

By John Rubino – Re-Blogged From http://www.Silver-Phoenix500.com

After three decades of epic deficit spending and three years of extraordinary money creation, Japan’s economy is enjoying a rollicking inflationary boom. Just kidding. Exactly the opposite is happening:

Japan households’ inflation expectations hit three-year low – BOJ

(Reuters) – Japanese households’ sentiment worsened in the three months to March and their expectations of inflation fell to levels before the Bank of Japan deployed its massive asset-buying programme three years ago, a central bank survey showed.

The survey’s bleaker outlook keeps alive expectations of additional monetary stimulus even as BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda maintained his optimism that the world’s third-largest economy was recovering moderately.

Kuroda, however, warned that he was closely watching how a recent surge in the yen and slumping Tokyo stock prices could affect the outlook.

“Global financial markets remain unstable as investors are becoming increasingly risk averse due to uncertainty over the outlook of emerging and resource-exporting economies,” Kuroda said in a speech at an annual meeting of trust banks on Monday.

“The BOJ won’t hesitate to take additional easing steps if needed to achieve its inflation target,” he said.

The BOJ’s quarterly survey on people’s livelihood showed the ratio of households who expect prices to rise a year from now stood at 75.7 percent in March, down from 77.6 percent in December and the lowest level since March 2013.

A separate index measuring households’ confidence about the economy stood at minus 22.5 in March, worsening from minus 17.3 in December to the lowest level since March 2015.

The gloomy outcome underscores the dilemma the BOJ faces as it battles mounting external headwinds for the economy with its dwindling policy tool-kit.

The BOJ’s adoption of a massive asset-buying programme, dubbed “quantitative and qualitative easing,” in April 2013 was intended to spur public expectations that prices will rise, and in turn, encouraging households and firms to spend.

That has failed to materialise, forcing the central bank to add negative interest rates to QQE in January in a fresh attempt to accelerate inflation towards its ambitious 2 percent target.

The move has failed to arrest a worrying spike in the yen or boost business confidence. Japan’s economy contracted in October-December last year and analysts expect it to post only feeble growth, if any, in January-March. Inflation has also ground to a halt, keeping the BOJ under pressure to ease again in coming months.

A separate poll by private think tank Japan Center for Economic Research, among the most comprehensive surveys conducted on Japanese analysts, showed 39 of the 44 analysts surveyed projecting that the next BOJ move would be further monetary easing.

But Japan is a unique case; easy money is generating excellent growth and rising inflation pretty much everywhere else. Just kidding again. The US, after multiple QEs and a doubling of federal debt, is looking a lot like Japan:

Consumers’ Inflation Expectations Fell Again in March, Fed Says

U.S. consumers’ expectations for inflation declined in March following a rise from record lows the month before, according to Federal Reserve Bank of New York data released Monday.

The numbers, which have been highlighted recently as a potential cause for concern by top officials including Fed Chair Janet Yellen and New York Fed President William Dudley, may add to the debate over downside risks to the U.S. central bank’s 2 percent inflation target. These risks have contributed to policy makers’ cautious approach to tightening monetary policy this year following a decision in December to raise interest rates for the first time in almost a decade.

The median respondent to the New York Fed’s March Survey of Consumer Expectations expected inflation to be 2.5 percent three years from now, down from 2.6 percent in the February survey. In January, expected inflation three years ahead was 2.45 percent, marking the lowest level in data going back to June 2013.

The New York Fed divides survey respondents into two groups based on a short aptitude test: high-numeracy and low-numeracy. Expected inflation among high-numeracy respondents, which tends to be more stable than that for low-numeracy respondents, declined to a record low in March.

The drop came despite a rise in expected gasoline prices. The median survey respondent in March expected the cost of gas to be 7.3 percent higher a year.

This is odd, since oil prices have stabilized and a consensus seems to be forming around the idea that inflation is about to pick up. Some talking heads are even wondering how the Fed will respond to the above-target inflation that’s coming. See Just how much of an overshoot on inflation will the Fed tolerate?

So what’s with all the pessimistic consumers?

Well, a data series from PriceStats (related to MIT’s Billion Prices project, I think) that measures a wide variety of prices in real time has the answer: Prices are actually falling faster than the official CPI number indicates, and have not picked up as oil has stabilized. In fact, the US has been in deflation for the past five months.

So it’s no surprise that people who are actually buying the stuff that’s falling in price would register this fact and answer surveys with deflationary sentiments. It’s also no surprise that central banks, which presumably see the same data, would be looking for ways to ease even further (Japan and Europe) or walk back their previous threats to tighten (the US Fed) — apparently in the hope that increasing the dose will cure the credit addiction.

[Disclaimer by Bob Shapiro – CPI numbers noted above don’t seem to square with reality. The official CPI dipped below zero very briefly a year ago, whereas the chart above implies they hovered around – both above and below – zero since 2008. And, calculated as they were in 1980, the CPI hasn’t been below 5% for the last 30 years!]

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Two Down – Two to Go

By Peter Schiff – Re-Blogged From Euro Pacific Capital

The Federal Reserve’s years-long campaign to sheepishly back away from its own policy forecasts continued in earnest last week when it officially reduced the four expected 2016 quarter point hikes, suggested back in December, to just two. Given the deteriorating economic outlook, I believe there can be little doubt that the Fed will soon complete the capitulation process and remove all expectations for additional hikes this year. Even before that happens, savvy observers should have already concluded that the Federal Reserve is stuck in the monetary mud just as firmly now as it has been since the dawn of the financial crisis back in 2008.
Rather than actively voicing its retreat in either its March policy statement or in Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s press conference, the market-moving policy shift was buried in the minutia of the Fed’s “dot plot” information array, in which each voting committee member signals their assumptions of where interest rates will be in various points in the future. Those tea leaves needed to be read to reach the conclusion that policy just got significantly  more dovish. But despite the Fed’s soft peddling, the policy shift made an immediate impact on markets, with the dollar getting hit by a variety of rival currencies and gold (and more significantly gold miners) climbing to multi-month highs.

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Technology, Prices, and Money Printing

cropped-bob-shapiro.jpg   By Bob Shapiro

What effect, if any, do technological improvements have on the general price level? I believe that technology causes prices to go down. Here’s why.

Back in College Economics 101, a professor explained how prices are set by companies. He said they subtract their cost estimates from various projected selling prices to find the various possible profit margins. Then they chart that against the expected units sold at the various prices.

Where the two graphs cross gives the maximum profit (but companies would trim the volume, and raise the “best” price, to achieve a desired ROI (Return on Investment)). In the real business world, its nowhere near that exact, but the general outline of the process makes some sense.

To be sure, there are a ton of estimates that need to be made. Businesses which do a poor job of the estimation process, risk going out of business (prices set too high -> not enough customers, prices too low -> not enough profit) . Over time, this leaves only better estimators as suppliers of goods and services.

Now, the number that a business can improve is the cost to produce the product. If technology improves, it can reduce the costs to produce. For example, if human technology improves, through employee training for example, quality goes up and reject rate goes down, so the cost for the value offered goes down, leaving room for more profit and a lower selling price.

Image result for technology clipart

If process technology improves, as when Henry Ford introduced the production line, costs fall allowing selling prices also to fall. And, if machinery technology improves, as when CNC controls allowed for greater use of robotics in manufacturing, costs and prices will tend to go down.

The point is that, any time that any form of technology improves, the price of the item sold will go down – or more correctly the value to the customer will go up. Over time, better value will replace lesser value, and the general price level for all items offered onto the market will go down.

Yes, the basket of goods and services offered will change over time. Yes, the concept of combining the prices of apples and oranges into a general price level is sketchy at best. But, if all else were held equal for 100 years (yes, an impossibility), you would expect the prices to be lower, and value to be higher, for eggs & milk, dresses & suits, pots & pans, cars, homes, computers & pianos, and everything else offered for sale.

In fact, during the 1800s, while the US was on a Gold or Gold/Silver Monetary Standard, prices did indeed decline.

FED Monopoly Money

Since the FED (US Federal Reserve) was created in 1913, the supply of paper money – M2 – has increased by about 400 times (that’s NOT 400%!). Over the long term, such debasing of the currency will result in prices which are higher than without the money printing.

The BLS (biased) CPI has gone up about 24 times since then, while others (eg. http://www.ShadowStats.com) show about a 60 times increase in prices. Using a low side guess at technological improvement of 2% a year (3% might be more like it), we might expect a 7 fold improvement in prices/value over that 100+ years since the FED started printing. This gives about a 400 times increase in prices since 1913 (60*7)!

Instead of the price of a $1.00 item in 1913 going down to about $0.14 today, all of the FED’s debasement of the money supply has caused that $1.00 item from 1913 to go up to $24.00 (BLS numbers) or to $60.00 (ShadowStats.com numbers).

Now truly, other factors come into the equation. New items & categories of items are invented, and consumer preferences change.

With Gold and Silver, there can be times of large new supplies of these monies in the short run. But paper Dollars were needed to have the 400 times M2 increase we’ve seen with the FED. The FED has robbed all Americans with that 400 times printing of Dollars. All Americans are paying 400 times more than they would have paid. Americans’ life savings are losing value because of the FED’s unending printing.

We need to ratchet down the FED’s ability to create more paper Dollars, so that eventually, we can end the FED.

The Fed’s Nightmare Scenario

By Peter Schiff – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com

Operating under the mistaken belief that a modest dose of inflation is either a prerequisite for, or a by-product of, economic growth, the nation’s top economists have been assuring us for quite some time that inflation will stay very low until the currently mediocre economy finally catches fire. As a result, they believe that the low inflation of the past few months has frustrated Federal Reserve policy makers, who have been supposedly chomping at the bit to keep hiking rates in order to restore confidence in the present and to build the ability to cut rates in the future if the nation were to ever, god forbid, enter another recession.

In the weeks leading up to the Fed’s December 16 decision to raise rates by 25 basis points (their first increase in nearly a decade) the consensus expectations on Wall Street was that the Fed would deliver three or four additional interest rate hikes in 2016. But with the global markets now in turmoil, GDP slowing, and the stock market off to one of its worst starts in memory, a consensus began to emerge that the Fed is reluctantly out of the rate hiking business for the rest of the year.

With such thoughts firmly entrenched, many were largely caught off guard by the arrival last Friday (February 19th) of new inflation data from the Labor Department that showed that the core consumer price index (CPI) rose in January at a 2.2 % annualized rate, the highest in more than 4 years, well past the 2.0% benchmark that the Fed has supposedly been so desperately trying to reach. It was received as welcome news.

A Reuter’s story that provided immediate reaction to the inflation data summed up the good feeling with a quote by Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG Union Bank in New York, “It is a policymaker’s dream come true. They wanted more inflation and they got it.” The widely respected Jim Paulsen of Wells Capital Management said that the stronger inflation, combined with upticks in consumer spending and jobs data would force the Fed to get on with more rate hikes.

But higher inflation is not “a dream come true”. In reality it is the Fed’s worst possible nightmare. It will expose the error of their eight-year stimulus experiment and the Fed’s impotence in restoring health to an economy that it has turned into a walking zombie addicted to cheap money.

While most economists still want to believe that the recent slowdown in economic growth (.7% annualized in the 4th quarter of 2015, which could be revised lower on Friday) was either caused by the weather, confined to manufacturing, oil related, or just some kind of statistical fluke that will likely reverse in the current quarter, and that the stock market declines of 2016 have resulted from distress imported from abroad, a much more likely trigger for all these developments can be found in the Fed’s own policy.

The Chinese economic deceleration and market turmoil made little impact on U.S markets prior to the Fed’s rate hike. And although U.S. markets rallied slightly in the days around the historic December rate hike, they began falling hard just a few days later. Stocks remained on the downward path until a recent rally inspired by dovish comments from various Fed officials which led many to conclude that future rate hikes may be fewer and farther between then was originally believed.

In truth, the markets and the economy have been walloped not just by December’s quarter point increase, but from the hangover from the withdrawal of QE3, and the anticipation of higher rates in 2016, all of which contributed to a general tightening of monetary policy.

The correlation between monetary tightening and economic deceleration is not accidental. As it had been in Japan before us, the unprecedented stimulus that has been delivered by central banks, in the form of zero percent interest and trillions of dollars in quantitative easing bond purchases, failed to create a robust and healthy economy that could survive in its absence. Our stimulus, which was launched in the wake of the 2008 crash, may have prevented a deeper contraction in the short term, but it also prevented the economy from purging the excesses of artificial boom that preceded the crash. As a result, we are now carrying far more debt, and the nation is far more levered than it was prior to the Crisis of 2008. We have been able to muddle through with all this extra debt only because interest rates remained at zero and the Fed purchased so much of the longer-term debt.

In the past I argued that even a tiny, symbolic, quarter point increase would be sufficient to prick the enormous bubble that eight years of stimulus had inflated. Early results show that I was likely right on that point. The truth is that the economy may be entering a period of “stagflation” in which very low (or even negative) growth is accompanied by rising prices. This creates terrible conditions for consumers whereby prices rise but incomes don’t. This leads to diminished living standards.

The recent uptick in inflation does not somehow invalidate all the other signs that have pointed to a rapidly decelerating economy. Just because inflation picks up does not mean that things are getting better. It actually means they are about to get a whole lot worse. Stagflation is in fact THE nightmare scenario for the Fed. If inflation catches fire now, the Fed will be completely incapable of controlling it. If a measly 25 basis point increase could inflict the kind of damage already experienced, imagine what would happen if the Fed made a real attempt to raise rates to get out in front of rising inflation? With growth already close to zero, a monetary shock of 1% or 2% rates could send us into a recession that could end up putting Donald Trump into the White House. The Fed would prefer that fantasy never become reality.

But the real nightmare for the Fed is not the extra body blow higher prices will deliver to already bruised consumer, but the knockout punch that will be delivered to its own credibility. The markets believe the Fed has a duel mandate, to promote employment and to maintain price stability. But it is currently operating like it has just a single unspoken mandate: to continue to shower markets with easy money until asset prices and incomes rise high enough to reduce the real value of our debts to the point where they can actually be serviced with higher rates, regardless of what happens to employment or consumer prices along the way.

If you recall back in 2009 and 2010, when unemployment was in the 8% to 10% range, former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke initially indicated that the fed would raise rates from zero once unemployment fell to 6.5%. At the time I wrote that it was a bluff, and that if those goalposts were ever reached, they would be moved. That is exactly what happened. But when 5% unemployment finally backed the Fed into a credibility corner it had to do something symbolic. This resulted in the 25 basis points we got in December. Yet even as official unemployment is now 4.9%, the Fed can postpone future, more damaging rate hikes, so long as low-inflation provides the cover.

But can the Fed get away with moving its inflation goal post as easily as it had for unemployment? In fact, the Fed has already done so, with little backlash at all. When created by Congress the Federal Reserve was tasked with maintaining “price stability”. The meaning of “stability” should be clear to anyone with a rudimentary grasp of the English language: it means not moving. In economic terms, this should mean a state where prices neither rise nor fall. Yet the Fed has been able to redefine price stability to mean prices that rise at a minimum of 2% per year. Nowhere does such a target appear in the founding documents of the Federal Reserve. But it seems as if Janet Yellen has borrowed a page from activist Supreme Court justices (unlike the late Antonin Scalia) who do not look to the original intent of the framers of the Constitution, but their own “interpretation” based on the changing political zeitgeist.

The Fed’s new Orwellian mandate is to prevent price stability by forcing price to rise 2% per year. What has historically been seen as a ceiling on price stability, that would have forced tighter policy, is now generally accepted as being a floor to perpetuate ultra-loose monetary policy. The Fed has accomplished this self-serving goal with the help of naïve economists who have convinced most that 2% inflation is a necessary component of economic growth.

But as officially measured consumer prices surpass the 2% threshold by an ever-wider margin, (which could occur in earnest once oil prices find a bottom) how far up will the Fed be able to move that goal post before the markets question their resolve? Will the Fed allow 3% or 4% inflation to go unchallenged? President Nixon imposed wage and price controls when inflation reached 4%. It’s amazing that 2% inflation is now considered perfection, yet 4% was so horrific that such a draconian approach was politically acceptable to rein it in.

Once markets figure out that the Fed is all hat and no cattle when it comes to fighting inflation, the bottom should drop out of the dollar, consumer price increases could accelerate even faster, and the biggest bubble of them all, the one in U.S. Treasuries may finally be pricked. That is when the Fed’s nightmare scenario finally becomes everyone’s reality.

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The Truth About GDP

By Alasdair Macleod – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com

“I can prove anything by statistics except the truth” – George Canning

Canning’s aphorism is as valid today as when he was Britain’s Prime Minister in 1817. Unfortunately, his wisdom is ignored completely by mainstream economists. Nowhere is this error more important than in defining economic activity, where the abuse of statistics is taken to levels that would have even surprised Canning.

Today we describe the economy as being in one of two states, growth or recession. We arrive at a judgment of its condition by taking the sum total of the transactions selected by statisticians and then deflating this total by a rate of inflation devised by them under direct or indirect political direction. Nominal gross domestic product is created and thereby adjusted and termed real GDP.

The errors in the method encourage a bias towards a general increase in the GDP trend by under-recording the rate of price inflation. From here it is a short step to associate rising prices only with an increase in economic activity. It also follows, based on these assumptions, that falling prices are to be avoided at all costs.

Assumptions, assumptions, all are assumptions. They lead to a ridiculous conclusion, that falling prices are evidence of falling demand, recession or even depression. Another of Canning’s aphorisms was that there is nothing so sublime as the truth. There’s no sublimity here. If there was, the improvement in everyone’s standard of living through falling prices for communications, access to data, and the technology in our homes and everyday life could not possibly have happened.

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Fed’s Serious Inflation Risks

By Adam Hamilton – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com

Traders today universally believe inflation is dead, that there is no persistent decline in the purchasing power of money.  That’s what government price indexes around the world are indicating.  But this false notion is one of recent years’ main Fed-conjured illusions.  Price inflation is the result of rising money supplies, and they have been skyrocketing.  Serious risks are mounting that they will spill into price levels.

As simple as money seems, it is very complex in both theory and practice.  We all understand the idea of working to earn money to buy goods and services.  But the seminal treatise on money, the legendary economist Ludwig von Mises’ “The Theory of Money and Credit” published in 1912, weighed in at 445 pages!  Money is a topic that endlessly preoccupies elite central bankers with doctorates in economics.

Money is ultimately a commodity, its value determined by its own fundamental supply and demand.  If demand exceeds supply for any given currency, its price will rise relative to other currencies.  As this money grows more valuable, it takes relatively less to buy goods and services.  The persistent increase in the purchasing power of money, resulting in a persistent decrease in general price levels, is deflation.

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Numbers Lousy – FED Scared Witless

cropped-bob-shapiro.jpg   By Bob Shapiro

Several statistics were reported this week, and in large measure, they disappointed analysts. Personal Income was up, but Personal Spending was up even more. This means that Americans were adding even more debt to their balance sheets. Since Saving is where the Capital comes from to help grow our Capitalist system, this means negative growth down the road.

PCE Prices were up only 0.1% in August (same as July), but these numbers generally are in the fairy tale category. Looking instead at the CPI, the way it used to be calculated in 1980 (via http://www.ShadowStats.com), inflation is running at around 7½%.

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