Dead Malls: The Steady Decline of American Shopping Centers

By Competitive Enterprise Institute- Re-Blogged From Headline Wealth

The kind of American chain stores and retail formats that dominated the second half of the 20th century have fallen on hard times in the 21st, and commentary on this influential and dislocating trend has become a cottage industry unto itself. Amid coverage in the business press on topics like “the winners and losers of the retail apocalypse” and how “1 in 3 American malls are doomed,” there is even a vibrant and, to many, inexplicable cultural fascination with retail history and dead malls.

The question of how the United States ended up with so many large, enclosed suburban shopping centers built between 1960 and 2000 is an interesting one. Naturally, trends in urban planning and government housing policy played a role. We wouldn’t have had as many suburban malls—or as many suburbs—without the interstate highway system.

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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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Mighty Greenland Glacier Growing Again

  Re-Blogged From BBC News

European satellites have detailed the abrupt change in behaviour of one of Greenland’s most important glaciers.

In the 2000s, Jakobshavn Isbrae was the fastest flowing ice stream on the island, travelling at 17km a year.

As it sped to the ocean, its front end also retreated and thinned, dropping in height by as much as 20m year.

But now it’s all change. Jakobshavn is travelling much more slowly, and its trunk has even begun to thicken and lengthen.

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The Crisis of Europe’s Green Energy Agenda

By Benny Peiser, GWPF – Re-Blogged From WUWT

Presentation at the De-Greening Day, Amsterdam 7 March 2019

The EU’s green energy policies have

* increased energy prices significantly

* reduced competitiveness of European industries

* failed to solve the technological Achilles’ heel of intermittent renewables

* increased energy insecurity and dependence on Russian energy imports

* increased division between Western Europe and Central & Eastern Europe

* given rise to widespread public discontent and the rise of populist parties opposed to the green energy agenda

Here is a link to the complete presentation.   Worth a read and spreading around~ctm

CONTINUE READING –>

40 Years Of Reforms And Gold

By Arkadiusz Sieroń – Re-Blogged From Gold Eagle

The economic development of China is one of the most important events in the history of the world. In an unprecedentedly short time, millions of people have been taken out from poverty. But, as no country has ever developed so fast, that great story raises important worries.

We invite you to read our today’s article about the great progress China made in the last forty years and find out whether it’s too good to be true and it must end with some catastrophe, triggering rally in the gold prices.

One of the biggest risks for the global economy which can materialize this year is the slowdown of China’s economic growth. So, it is wise to analyze the current state of the Chinese economy – its implications for the gold market and what will happen next. As December 2018 marked the forty years of market reforms in China, we will adopt a long-term perspective, explaining how China transformed itself from a poor, backward and isolated country to the world’s economic power. We will examine what the global economy and the precious metals market can expect in China’s fifth decade of reform and development.

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Markets Are All About Flows

By Alasdair Macleod – Re-Blogged From GoldMoney

This article looks at prospective supply and demand factors for financial assets in the New Year and beyond. Investors should take into account money flowing into and out of financial assets as well as stock flows, particularly escalating government bond issuance, which looks likely to accelerate significantly in the coming years. It adds up to the fundamental case for physical gold and silver.

At this time of year, the thoughtful soul considers prospects for markets. Pundits are laying out their forecasts, and they fall into two broad camps. There are brokers and fund managers who talk of value. Their income and assets under management depend on continually inflating prices. Then there are the pessimists, a ragbag of doom-mongers who sweepingly point to risks on a grand scale. The collapse of Italy, Deutsche Bank, China, Brexit… take your pick. Very few engage on the subject that really matters, and that is the underlying monetary flows into and out of financial markets.

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Worldwide Debt Default Is A Real Possibility

By John Mauldin – Re-Blogged From Gold Eagle

Is debt good or bad? The answer is “Yes.”

Debt is future spending pulled forward in time. It lets you buy something now for which you otherwise don’t have cash yet.

Whether it’s wise or not depends on what you buy. Debt to educate yourself so you can get a better job may be a good idea. Borrowing money to finance your vacation? Probably not.

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US Economy Will Slow to Crawl Next Year

[Economists tend to recognize Recessions long after they actually have started. -Bob]

Re-Blogged From Nwsmax

Goldman Sachs reportedly believes the U.S. economy will slow to a crawl next year.

“We expect tighter financial conditions and a fading fiscal stimulus to be the key drivers of the deceleration,” Goldman chief economist Jan Hatzius was quoted by CNBC as writing.

“Growth is likely to slow significantly next year, from a recent pace of 3.5 percent-plus to roughly our 1.75 percent estimate of potential by end-2019,” Hatzius wrote, according to CNBC.

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Buffett Spends $928 Million to Buy His Own Shares Back

[This may be one of the very few stock buybacks to make sense for stockholders – because company profits are growing quickly and other opportunities are hard to find. -Bob]

By Associated Press – Re-Blogged From Newsmax

Warren Buffett’s company more than quadrupled its third-quarter profits because of a huge paper gain in the value of its investments, although its insurance and railroad businesses also improved.

Notably, Buffett’s company bought back nearly $1 billion in stock during the quarter — the first time that’s happened in years — a possible sign that the world’s most famous investor has been unable to find attractive investments to purchase.

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Kudlow: Market Worried Democrats Will Overturn Trump Growth Policies

By F McGuire – Re-Blogged From Newsmax

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow says that Wall Street is plunging because of fear Democrats will win midterms and end President Donald Trump’s “pro-growth policies.”

Kudlow, speaking to reporters outside the White House on Tuesday, blamed the market decline on mid-term elections, CNBC.com reported.

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Fed Turns More Hawkish

By Arkadiusz Sieron– Re-Blogged From Gold Eagle

Powell and Co. hiked again. And the FOMC removed the important phrase about “accommodative” stance. What now for gold?

Yesterday, the FOMC published the monetary policy statement from its latest meeting that took place on September 25-26. In line with the expectations, the US central bank raised the federal funds rate by 25 basis points to the target range of 2 to 2.25 percent:

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Big Debt-Fueled GDP Number For The 2nd Quarter

By Michael Snyder – Re-Blogged From Freedom Outpost

What kind of number for GDP growth in the 2nd quarter will we get on Friday? The market consensus is somewhere around 4 percent, but there are many out there that are expecting a number above 5 percent. The last time we witnessed such a number was during the third quarter of 2014 when the U.S. economy grew by 5.2 percent. If Friday’s GDP figure is better than that, it will be the best report that we have had since 2003. But let’s keep things in perspective. In seven of the last 10 years, GDP growth was much lower than anticipated in the first quarter and much higher than anticipated in the second quarter. It looks like that pattern may play out again in 2018, and analysts are already warning us to expect a much lower number for the third quarter.

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Global Investment in Renewable Energy Has Stalled

By Steve Goreham – Re-Blogged From http://www.WattsUpWithThat.com

Earlier this month, the Trump Administration announced a decision to apply a 30 percent tariff on imported solar cells and panels. The Solar Industries Association denounced the measure, projecting job losses and cancellation of solar investments. But the solar tariff discussion hides a larger renewable energy issue. Global investment in renewables has stalled in the US, in Europe, and in many markets across the world.

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What Everyone Is Missing About The US Tax Cuts

By Steve Saville – Re-Blogged From http://www.Silver-Phoenix500.com

The changes to US taxes that were approved late last year have drawn acclaim and criticism, but in most cases both those who view the tax changes positively and those who view the tax changes negatively are missing two important points.

Most criticism of the tax changes boils down to one of three issues. The first is that the tax cuts favour the rich. This is true, but any meaningful tax cut will have to favour the people who pay most of the tax. Furthermore, contrary to the Keynesian belief system a tax cut will bring about the greatest long-term benefit to the overall economy if it favours people who are more likely to save/invest the additional income over people who are more likely to immediately spend the additional income on consumer items.

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Deflation Must Be Embraced

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

There are two problems with understanding deflation: it is ill defined, and it has a bad name. This article puts deflation into its proper context. This is an important topic for advocates of gold as money, who will be aware that sound money, in theory, leads to lower prices over time and is often criticised as an objective, because it is not an inflationary stimulation.

The simplest definition for deflation is that it is when the quantity of money contracts. This can come about in one or more of three ways. The central bank may reduce the quantity of base money, commercial banks may reduce the amount of bank credit, or foreigners, in possession of your currency from an imbalance of trade, sell it to the central bank.

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In China, Innovation Cuts Both Ways

By Matthew Bey – Re-Blogged From https://worldview.stratfor.com

China is in a bind. The heavy industry that propelled the country’s economy through three decades of dizzying growth has reached its limits. To escape the dreaded middle-income trap, China will need to shift its focus from low-end manufacturing to other economic industries, namely the technology sector. Beijing has put tech at the center of its long-term economic strategy through campaigns such as Made in China 2025 and Internet Plus. But these initiatives alone won’t push the Chinese economy past its current plateau. The tech sector is notorious for relentless innovation. And innovation requires flexibility.

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Consumer Spending Stalls as Core Inflation Moderates

By Thomson Reuters – Re-Blogged From Newsmax

U.S. consumer spending barely rose in August likely as Hurricane Harvey weighed on auto sales and annual inflation increased at its slowest pace since late 2015, pointing to a moderation in economic growth in the third quarter.

The weak report from the Commerce Department on Friday did little to change expectations that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates in December. Chair Janet Yellen said on Tuesday the Fed needed to continue gradual rate hikes despite uncertainty about the path of inflation.

“We think current economic conditions are heavily impacted by the effect of the recent hurricanes,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York. “The Fed will rightly look over any soft patch for economic growth in the third quarter.”

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Here’s The True Definition Of A Recession

By Frank Shostak – Re-Blogged From http://www.Silver-Phoenix500.com

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the institution that dates the peaks and troughs of the business cycles,

A recession is a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales. A recession begins just after the economy reaches a peak of activity and ends as the economy reaches its trough.

In the view of the NBER dating committee, because a recession influences the economy broadly and is not confined to one sector, it makes sense to pay attention to a single best measure of aggregate economic activity, which is real GDP. The NBER dating committee views real GDP as the single best measure of aggregate economic activity.

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Can Trump Get 3 Percent Growth?

By Peter Morici – Re-Blogged From Newsmax

President Donald Trump’s economic team paints a rosier picture about what his policies could accomplish than the economics profession is willing to endorse.

His team is formulating budget and tax proposals that project 3 percent annual growth, while the number crunchers at the Congressional Budget Office estimate only 1.9 percent.

How fast the economy can grow comes down to the simple sum of likely worker productivity and labor force growth. Since the financial crisis, productivity has advanced about 1 percent a year, as compared to the 2 percent in prior decades.

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According To “Unmassaged Data” The US Economy Is Rolling Over

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

Yet another “unmassaged” data point has shown that the US economy is rolling over.

If you’ve been reading me for a while you know that one of my biggest pet peeves is the fact that headline US economic data (GDP growth, unemployment, inflation, etc.) is massaged to the point of being fiction.

For this reason, in order to get a real read on the economy, you have to look for economic metrics that are unpopular enough that the beancounters don’t bother adjusting them.

Case in point, look at the latest employment trend for S&P 500 companies (H/T Sam Ro).

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Economic Stagnation

By Gerald Peters – Re-Blogged From http://www.Silver-Phoenix500.com

So we have once again seen official reports about sub-par economic growth. Some are constantly perplexed as to why growth is so weak. I believe it will eventually become more obvious to everyone that debt is one of the major problems causing our current stagnation.

Looking at the above chart, we see GDP growth rates have been getting weaker each decade. The economy used to grow at 7 or 8 %…then 5 or 6%…then 4%…then 3%. Currently. There is only 2% growth. Moreover, after the next recession we will be lucky to see 1% growth as the norm. Follow the trend and we see that the US economy will probably be at 0% economic growth after 2030. To be sure after 2040 we will probably see negative growth as the norm. By the way, the chart of retail sales growth looks the same. This trend has continued regardless of which political party controls the White House or Congress.

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Government Stimulus is an Oxymoron

By Michael Pento – Re-Blogged From PentoPort

The accumulation of Debt, at its very essence, is simply borrowing consumption from the future. And this is true on any level of debt, be it either public or private. Just as savings is deferred consumption, the exact opposite is true for debt. Therefore, it can only be beneficial in the long-term if it leads to an expansion of productivity in the present. If the funds borrowed do not improve output per unit of labor it is much more difficult to pay back that debt and any perceived benefit ends up being nothing more than an ephemeral illusion.

This is the reason why public debt is the most pernicious variety. The problem with government spending is that it mostly amounts to little more than hole-digging and filling. Borrowing money to pay people to empty the ocean onto the beach may temporarily increase employment and demand in the economy. But since this is merely state directed busy work, it does not grow the economy and expand productivity. Thus, the result is a rise in the debt to GDP ratio.

The 2008 financial crisis led to the passage of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, referred to as TARP, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and a rapid increase in government transfer payments, which produced multiple years of record deficits. The accumulation of those deficits sent the U.S. National debt to GDP ratio leaping from 64% in 2007, to over 104% today.

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“Price inflation” Is Not The Biggest Problem

By Steve Saville – Re-Blogged From The Speculative Investor

All else remaining equal, an increase in the supply of money will lead to a decrease in the purchasing-power (price) of money. Furthermore, this is the only effect of monetary inflation that the average economist or central banker cares about. Increases in the money supply are therefore generally considered to be harmless or even beneficial as long as the purchasing-power of money is perceived to be fairly stable*. However, reduced purchasing-power for money is not the most important adverse effect of monetary inflation.

If an increase in the supply of money led to a proportional shift in prices throughout the economy, then its consequences would be both easy to see and not particularly troublesome. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it happens. What actually happens is that monetary inflation causes changes in relative prices, with the spending of the first recipients of the newly-created money determining the prices that rise the first and the most.

Changes in relative prices generate signals that direct investment. The further these signals are from reality, that is, the more these signals are distorted by the creation of new money, the more investing errors there will be and the less productive the economy will become.

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Unraveling The Secular Stagnation Story

By Steven H Hanke – Re-Blogged From http://www.Silver-Phoenix500.com

Secular stagnation is said to be present when economic growth is negligible or nonexistent over a considerable span of time. Today, secular stagnation has become a popular mantra of the chattering classes, particularly in the United States. The idea is not new, however.

Alvin Hansen, an early and prominent Keynesian economist at Harvard University, popularized the notion of secular stagnation in the 1930s. In his presidential address to the American Economic Association in 1938, he asserted that the U.S. was a mature economy that was stuck in a rut. Hansen reasoned that technological innovations had come to an end; that the great American frontier (read: natural resources) was closed; and that population growth was stagnating. So, according to Hansen, investment opportunities would be scarce, and there would be nothing ahead except secular economic stagnation. The only way out was more government spending. It would be used to boost investment via public works projects. For Hansen and the Keynesians of that era, stagnation was a symptom of market failure, and the antidote was government largesse.

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Is India The New China?

By Frank Holmes – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com

A “slow-growth trap.” That’s how the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) described the global economy last week in its latest Global Economic Outlook. The group sees world GDP advancing only 3 percent in 2016, the same as last year with a slight bump up to 3.3 percent in 2017.

Catherine Mann, the OECD’s chief economist, urged policymakers around the world to prioritize structural reforms that “enhance market competition, innovation and dynamism,” as monetary policy has been used alone as the main tool for far too long. The longer the global economy remains in this “slow-growth trap,” Mann said, the harder it will become to revive market forces.

This is precisely in-line with what I, and many of my colleagues, have stressed for months now.

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China: Still the World’s Number One Heavy Metal Rock Star

By Frank Holmes – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com

I want to begin with a quote from a recent Cornerstone Macro report that succinctly summarizes the research firm’s view on growth prospects in emerging markets, China specifically. Emphasis is my own:

Our most out-of-consensus call this year is the belief that China, and by extension many emerging markets, will see a cyclical recovery in 2016. We understand the bearish case for emerging markets on a multiyear basis quite well, but we also recognize that in a given year, any stock, sector or region can have a cyclical rebound if the conditions are right. In fact, we’ve already seen leading indicators of economic activity and earnings perk up in 2016 as PMIs have rebounded in many areas of the world. That is all it takes for markets, from equities to CDS, to respond more favorably as overly pessimistic views get rerated. And like in most cyclical recoveries that take place in a regime of structural headwinds, we don’t expect it to last beyond a few quarters.

There’s a lot to unpack here, but I’ll say upfront that Cornerstone’s analysis is directly in line with our own, especially where the purchasing managers’ index (PMI) is concerned. China’s March PMI reading, at 49.7, was not only at its highest since February 2015 but it also crossed above its three-month moving average—a clear bullish signal, as I explained in-depth in January.

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US Secular Stagnation?

By Steven H Hanke – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com

Stagnationists have been around for centuries. They have embraced many economic theories about what causes economic stagnation. That’s a situation in which total output, or output per capita, is constant, falling slightly, or rising sluggishly. Stagnation can also be characterized by a situation in which unemployment is chronic and growing.

Before we delve into the secular stagnation debate – a debate that has become a hot topic – a few words about current economic developments in the U.S. are in order. What was recently noticed was the Federal Reserve’s increase, for the first time in nearly a decade, of the fed funds interest rate by 0.25 percent. What went unnoticed, but was perhaps more important, was that the money supply, broadly measured by the Center for Financial Stability’s Divisia M4, jumped to a 4.6 percent year-over-year growth rate. This was the largest increase since May 2013.

Since changes in the money supply, broadly determined, cause changes in nominal GDP, which contain real and inflation components, we can anticipate a pick-up in nominal aggregate demand in the U.S. Indeed, if M4 keeps growing at its current rate, nominal aggregate demand, measured by final sales to domestic purchasers, will probably reach its long-run average annual rate of 4.8 percent by mid-2016 (see the accompanying chart). This rate of nominal aggregate demand growth was last reached in 2006, almost ten years ago. So, the current economic news from the U.S. is encouraging.

But what about the secular stagnation debate? The secular stagnation thesis in a Keynesian form was popularized by Harvard University economist Alvin Hansen. In his presidential address to the American Economic Association in 1938, he asserted that the U.S. was a mature economy that was stuck in a rut that it could not escape from. Hansen reasoned that technological innovations had come to an end; that the great American frontier (read: natural resources) was closed; and that population growth was stagnating. So, according to Hansen, investment opportunities would be scarce, and there would be nothing ahead except secular economic stagnation; unless, fiscal policy was used to boost investment via public works projects.

Hansen’s economics were taken apart and discredited by many non-Keynesian economists. But, the scholarly death blow was dealt by George Terborgh in his 1945 classic The Bogey of Economic Maturity. In the real world, talk of stagnation in the U.S. ended abruptly with the post-World War II boom.

It is worth noting that many Keynesians were caught up, at least temporarily, in the secular stagnation fad. Even Paul Samuelson, a leader of the Keynesians – thanks, in part, to his popular textbook — was temporarily entrapped. But, like Houdini, he miraculously escaped. That said, there were things in Economics that Samuelson probably wished he had thrown overboard, too. My favorite from the 13th edition (1989) is: “The Soviet economy is proof that contrary to what many sceptics had earlier believed, a socialist command economy can function and even thrive.”

Today, another Harvard University economist, Larry Summers, is beating the drums for secular stagnation. And Summers isn’t just any Harvard economist. He was formerly the president of Harvard and a U.S. Treasury Secretary. Summers, like Hansen before him, argues that the government must step up to the plate and invest more to fill the gap left by deficiencies in private investment, so that the economy can be pulled out of its stagnation rut. He is preaching the stagnation gospel beyond the ivy-covered halls at Harvard. And, he is picking up followers. For example, Canada’s new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has latched onto Summers and the stagnation thesis. What better way to justify expanding government investments, or should we say white elephants?

For evidence to support Summers’ secular stagnation argument and his calls for more government investment, he points to the anemic private domestic capital expenditures in the U.S. As the accompanying chart shows, gross private domestic business investment, which does not include residential housing investment, has rebounded modestly since the great recession. But, most of this gross investment has been eaten up in the course of replacing capital that has been used up or became obsolete. Indeed, the private capital consumption allowances shown in the chart are huge. While these capital consumption figures are approximate, they are large enough to suggest that there is little left for net private business investment. This means that the total capital stock, after actually shrinking in 2009, has grown very little since then.

If we take a longer look, one starting in 1960, it appears that net private domestic investment as a percent of GDP has trended downward (see the accompanying chart). This is due to the fact that private capital consumption allowances as a percentage of GDP have trended upward. This shouldn’t surprise us. With the increasingly rapid rate of innovation, obsolescence and, therefore, capital consumption have increased. On the surface, these facts appear to give the stagnationists a reed to lean on. But, it’s a weak one.

To understand the troubling net investment picture, we must ask why businesses are so reluctant to invest. After all, it’s investment that fuels productivity and real economic growth. Are the stagnationists on to something? Have we really run out of attractive investment opportunities that require the government to step in and fill the void?

A recent book by Robert Higgs, Taking a Stand: Reflections on Life, Liberty, and the Economy, helps answer these questions. In 1997, Higgs first introduced the concept of “regime uncertainty” to explain the extraordinary duration of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Higgs’ regime uncertainty is, in short, uncertainty about the course of economic policy – the rules of the game concerning taxes and regulations, for example. These rules of the game affect the net benefits and free cash flows investors derived from their property. Indeed, the rules affect the security of their property rights. So, when the degree of regime uncertainty increases, investors’ risk-adjusted discount rates increase and their appetites for making investments diminish.

Since the Great Recession of 2009, regime uncertainty has been elevated. This has been measured by Scott R. Baker of Northwestern University, Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University and Steven J. Davis of the University of Chicago. Their “Economic Policy Uncertainty Index for the U.S.,” which was published by the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., measures, in one index number, Higgs’ regime uncertainty. In addition, there is a mountain of other evidence that confirms the ratcheting up of regime uncertainty during the tenure of the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. For example, a recent Pew Research Center survey finds that the percent of the public that trusts Washington, D.C. to do the right thing has fallen to all-time lows of around 20 percent.

So, contrary to the stagnationists’ assertions, the government is the problem, not the solution. Secular stagnation in the U.S. is just what it was when Alvin Hansen popularized it in the 1930s: Its bunk. Nothing more than a phony rationale for more government waste.

The Business Cycle & Government

cropped-bob-shapiro.jpg   By Bob Shapiro

Sometimes, people make stupid choices.

Wait! Let me be more kind. Sometimes, people make choices which don’t work out as well as they had hoped.

You may have a passion for reproductions of historic horse and buggy rigs, and you decide to invest your life savings to open a plant to produce buggy whips. My expectation (I certainly can be mistaken myself) is that your venture won’t meet your profit hopes.

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