from The Dollar Vigilante:
by Steve St. Angelo, SRSrocco:
While official sources forecast U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to surpass $20 trillion this year, the real figure is probably much less. So how much less is real U.S. GDP? Well, that depends on how it is measured. If we factor in energy consumption and the increase in total public debt, U.S. GDP is likely less than half of the current figure.
Yes, it sounds insane to say that the current U.S. GDP is likely overstated by at least 50%, but if we go by fundamental data, it isn’t that crazy at all. Unfortunately, Americans have been conditioned to believe that money grows on trees and energy comes from the Wizard of Oz. Thus, if we need more money, then the U.S. Treasury can print more Federal Reserve Notes, or we can swipe the credit card. And, if we need electricity, we just switch on the light. Easy… Peasy.
Due to the highly complex nature of the world in which we live in today, the individual is clueless as to the tremendous amount of energy and work that it takes to produce the foods we eat and the goods, energy, and materials we consume. So, it should be no surprise that U.S. GDP can be overstated by 50%+.
If we go by the data that shows the growth of Global GDP is related to the growth of Global Oil Supply, then it is very quite easy to spot inflated GDP figures. However, you have to be able to understand this essential ENERGY=GDP relationship. Of course, this is not taught in business or economic classes in high school or college. Instead, the economic teachers focus on the insane theory of SUPPLY vs. DEMAND. If individuals are taught GARBAGE, then their thinking and reasoning is GARBAGE. So, we really can’t blame them.
In looking at the following chart by Gail Tverberg, the increase in Global GDP corresponds to the rise in Global Oil Supply:
As the annual growth percentage of World Oil Supply declined in the periods shown in the chart above, the same trend took place in World GDP. If we can understand the OIL-GDP relationship figures in the chart, then it is impossible for a country to grow its GDP if it does not increase its energy consumption.
A perfect example of a country that increased both its energy consumption and GDP, is China. We can clearly see that as China’s total energy consumption increased from 2000 to 2011, so did its GDP:
Read More @ SRSrocco.com
from Don Quijones, Wolf Street:
There are rumors currently doing the rounds that Italy’s banking problems have finally been put to rest. The FTSE Italia All-Share Banks Index has soared about 40% over the last 12 months, about double the advance by the Euro Stoxx Banks Index. Six of the top seven gainers in the latter index this year are Italian.
The story of Italy’s non-performing loans, which just a year ago terrified global investors and posed a systemic threat to the entire Eurozone economy, “is over,” according to Fabrizio Pagani, the chief of staff at Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance. Pagani believes that now that the banking sector is well and truly on the mend, work should begin to take consolidation of the sector to a new level.
“There are too many banks,” Pagani told Bloomberg. “And in this sense, Monte dei Paschi could play a role. I think this could start this year.”
There’s clearly lots of room for consolidation in Italy, home to roughly 500 banks, many of which are small local or regional savings banks with tens or hundreds of millions of euros in assets. At the top end of the scale, Italy’s ten biggest banks control roughly 50% of the industry. The goal is to increase thatto 70-75% to bring it more in line with the levels of banking concentration in other EU countries. In Spain, for example, the five biggest banks — Santander, BBVA, CaixaBank, Bankia and Sabadell — control 72% of the market.
The problem is that, while last year’s bail out of Monte dei Paschi di Siena may have restored a certain amount of investor confidence to Italy’s banking sector, many of the largest banking groups are still extremely fragile, with stubbornly high non-performing loan (NPL) ratios. Even Intesa Sanpaolo, which is widely regarded as Italy’s most stable large bank, had a bad-loan ratio of 13% at the end of September, compared to a European average of 4.5%.
As such, trying to find suitable merger partners that are not going to drag each other further down is not going to be an easy task. Intesa is still trying to digest tens of billions of assets from Banca Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca, the two mid-size collapsed banks it gobbled up at the government’s insistence in June last year. As for Unicredit, Italy’s only global systemically important bank (G-SIB), it’s barely back on its own two feet after successfully completing the biggest ever capital expansion in Italian history last year.
So, if the two biggest banks are most likely out of the equation for now, who could Pagani be thinking about? For the moment he says it’s too early to say.
But while Pagani keeps mum, Giovanni Razzoli, an analyst at Equita SIM, has identified five potential suitors — Monte dei Paschi di Siena (now majority owned by the State), Banco BPM, BPER Banca, Credito Valtellinese and Banca Carige — that could be merged into one mega-bank. He’s even given his masterplan a name, with suitably dark undertones: Project Overlord.
Three of the banks have one obvious thing in common: they have all been, or are in the process of being, rescued, either by taxpayers or shareholders, or a combination of both.
Despite being bailed out with €8.5 billion of taxpayer funds last year, in contravention of new EU rules on banking resolution, Monte dei Paschi is still far from out of the woods. In early February the bank reported total losses in 2017 of €3.5 billion, as a result of falling revenue, loan write-downs, and one-off charges. Since then its stock, which resumed trading on Oct. 25 after a 10-month hiatus, has tumbled over 15%. Now valued at €3.18, the shares are 51% below the €6.49 that Italian taxpayers paid during the latest rescue.
Then there’s mid-sized lender Carige, with assets of €26 billion. In December it completed a €500 million share issue that very nearly flopped. Together with a completed exchange of subordinated bonds into senior bonds and ongoing asset disposals, the capital increase is expected to raise about €1 billion of capital, according to rating agency Moody’s. The proceeds will largely be used to write down and then dispose of €1.9 billion of problem loans.
Credito Valtellinese (or Creval) is in a similar situation having reported a €332 million loss for 2017 in preparation for its own €700 million rights issue. Since then its shares have tumbled from €0.16 to €0.11 cents.
In other words, Operation Overload would involve joining at the hip three banks that are barely capable of standing on their own two feet, even with all the public and/or private support they’ve received, with two other banks — one of which (Banco BPM) is barely a year old after being spawned from the merger last year of two large cooperative banks, Banco Popolare and BPM.
For an indication of what could ensue one need only recall what happened to Spain’s very own frankenbank, Bankia, which was created in 2010 by melding together six failing regional savings banks with a larger and seemingly healthier lender, Caja Madrid. Less than a year after its public launch, in 2011, Bankia collapsed in such emphatic style that, to be reanimated, it needed the biggest ever public bailout in Spanish history.
Read More @ WolfStreet.com
by Mac Slavo, SHTFPlan:
The Fed has created a mountain of problems for everyone in the United States and every single solution that they come up with leads to even more problems. Ron Paul recently discussed what the Fed has done, how it tries to keep things going, and the inevitable economic crisis that is coming.
Ron Paul has been one of the few steadfast proponents of liberty, which is likely why he’s no longer associated with the government at all. In a recent video, Paul discussed the problems the Federal Reserve created and why their solutions will generate an economic crisis of epic proportions.
“They [The Fed] have a lot of power, but their main goal is to do central economic planning which always fails. It’s also a gimmick because they have meetings, they are supposed to have eight a year, and then there’s a big announcement…they come out and they make a statement and the chairman is interviewed, and then, later on, you get the minutes. It’s big fanfare. But I see it as mostly propaganda, just carrying a message. Getting it from the people who really run things, the deep state, and they get it out there. But it does have a lot of effect on the market. I actually believe that there are some people who know how fictitious the Fed really is and how inept it is, but still watch it because they know a lot of other people are going to pay attention…the deep state is not a part of the government, but they have a lot of influence.”
Paul went on to explain that often we are told it’s not right to criticize the Fed. But that will change.
“The next downturn, which I think will come soon, the Fed’s not going to get credit for getting us out of it. They didn’t get any credit for getting us out this last recession which we’re really, in many ways, still in…times are different. But times are getting much worse now. This next downturn is going to be a serious one and the Fed doesn’t have any magic whatsoever…central economic planning never works no matter how long they get away with it.”
And something we’ve heard from top financial experts such as Peter Schiff, Paul also says there’s a trend to ditch the dollar, which will lead to its collapse.
Read More @ SHTFPlan.com
Owners of Manhattan’s commercial real-estate might soon begin to regret their decision to hike rents to absurdly high levels in the hope of attracting the next Chase, Bank of America or Duane Reade capable of paying their extortionate prices.
As Bloomberg reports, owners of prime retail storefronts in the heart of Soho – a trendy shopping district in downtown Manhattan – are struggling to find and retain tenants willing to pay the record rents being demanded by landlords.
The Bloomberg story begins by recounting the story of one boutique clothing shop that threatened to vacate its space six years early and just eat its security deposit unless the landlord agreed to a lower rate.
The Kooples, a French clothing seller, is threatening to vacate its space six years ahead of schedule if it can’t get landlord Thor Equities to cut the rent. With brick-and-mortar stores suffering from a retail industry shakeout, the company says it isn’t making enough money at the property and wants to focus on the web.
The scene unfolding on the cobblestones of one of New York’s trendiest shopping areas shows the increasingly fraught negotiations between tenants and landlords as vacancies soar and retail rents plunge. Similar scenarios are playing out along Madison Avenue to the north and along other thoroughfares in the city that have long been a draw for those shopping for designer clothing and other luxury goods. Property owners are confronting demands once unheard of in Manhattan, from rent reductions to short-term leases.
Read More @ ZeroHedge.com
by Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse Blog:
If the U.S. economy is in good shape, then why has economic growth been so anemic for more than a decade? It has been 12 long years since the economy grew by at least 3 percent, and for most of that time my website has been one of the leading voices chronicling America’s long-term economic problems. In 2017, U.S. GDP increased by just 2.3 percent, but at least that was better than the pathetic 1.5 percent figure that was posted for 2016. With Donald Trump in the White House, we have taken some steps in the right direction, but we must never forget that our long-term economic and financial problems continue to steadily get worse.
As I travel around Idaho’s first congressional district, I often tell voters that we have not had a year of 3 percent economic growth since the middle of the Bush administration, and a lot of people have a really hard time believing that this is accurate. But of course it is 100 percent true, and earlier today CNS News published an article highlighting this fact…
The United States has gone a record 12 straight years without 3-percent growth in real Gross Domestic Product, according to data released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
This drought is highly, highly unusual. In fact, before this 12 year stretch the previous record was just four years…
Before the current period, when the nation has seen twelve straight years without 3 percent growth in real GDP, the longest stretch of years in which real GDP did not grow by at least 3 percent was during the Great Depression—when there were four straight years (1930-1933) when real GDP did not grow that much.
Have we entered a new era of low economic growth?
Is 3 percent the best that we can hope for from now on?
I have pointed out many times that Barack Obama was the only president in all of U.S. history never to have a single year of 3 percent economic growth, and he had two terms to try to achieve that.
Of course the U.S. economy began struggling far before Obama entered the White House. As the U.S. has increasingly embraced socialism, our once vibrant economy has really had a tough time. In fact, since the end of the Reagan administration our economic growth numbers have not been good at all…
The last time it grew by more than 7 percent was 1984, when Ronald Reagan was president. That year, it grew by 7.3 percent.
In the years after 1984, the highest level of economic growth achieved by the United States was in 1999, when real GDP grew by 4.7 percent.
Hopefully things can turn around under President Trump, and that it is why it is so imperative that we send pro-Trump candidates for Congress to Washington.
The U.S. economy is way overdue for a recession, and many believe that the next major economic downturn is right around the corner. We just witnessed the worst February for stocks in 9 years, and the Dow ended the month on a huge down note. Hopefully things will rebound in March, but there is absolutely no guarantee that will happen.
The following are some more facts about what transpired in February from Zero Hedge…
- Trannies worst month since Jan 2016
- Small Caps worst month since Oct 2016
- VIX biggest monthly jump since Aug 2015
- 30Y TSY Yield biggest monthly jump since Nov 2016
- 2Y TSY Yield up 6 straight months
- HY Credit (HYG) worst month since Jan 2016
- HY Spreads worst month since Sept 2015
- USD Index up most since Feb 2017
- WTI worst month since Aug 2017
- Gold worst month since Sept 2017
- Silver worst month since Nov 2016
I know that I didn’t write very much this month, and that is because I have been relentlessly working to win my race for Congress.
Read More @ TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com
by Pam Martens and Russ Martens, Wall st On Parade:
Investors have been whiplashed so far this week and it’s only Wednesday morning. On Monday, the Dow rocketed ahead by 399 points. On Tuesday, it plunged by 299 points. What changed investor sentiment so dramatically in 24 hours?
David Stockman, the former Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan who blogs at Contra Corner, appeared on CNBC yesterday to size up the situation. Commenting on the new Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, who gave testimony for the first time in his new role before the House Financial Services Committee yesterday, Stockman said he thinks Powell is “missing three giant skunks sitting on the wood pile.”
The biggest skunk according to Stockman is an “epic monetary fiscal collision” that Stockman says he hasn’t seen before in his lifetime. Stockman explained that starting this October, which begins the Federal government’s Fiscal 2019, the government is going to borrow $1.2 trillion. Stockman called this “an astronomical number” given that the U.S. is ten years into an expansion. (Borrowing of that magnitude has traditionally been done only during a deep recession.)
At the same time says Stockman, the Federal Reserve has pivoted to Quantitative Tightening (QT) “and they will be dumping $600 billion” of their bonds into the market at the same time as the government is pumping up debt issuance. (The Federal Reserve began trimming back its purchases of Treasury bonds in October of last year in order to normalize its bloated balance sheet that resulted from the financial crisis. That trimming, which is an effective tightening of monetary policy, will expand this year.
The Fed’s $600 billion combined with the $1.2 trillion from the government means that $1.8 trillion in Treasuries “will be looking for a home” in Fiscal 2019 said Stockman. This leads Stockman to believe that the market simply can’t clear all of this debt at anywhere near the 2.90 percent interest rate at which the 10-year U.S. Treasury has been trading. He says there is going to be a “monumental yield shock” that will take 10-year Treasury yields to 3 to 4 percent “and probably overshoot beyond that.”
Another big skunk explains Stockman is that there will not be the help coming from other central banks around the world as there has been in the past decade. They’re also in wind-down mode.
In his House testimony yesterday, Powell rattled markets by using the words “robust” to describe the job market and “more stimulative” to describe fiscal policy. He also said that “wages should increase at a faster pace.” The full context was as follows in his written testimony:
“The robust job market should continue to support growth in household incomes and consumer spending, solid economic growth among our trading partners should lead to further gains in U.S. exports, and upbeat business sentiment and strong sales growth will likely continue to boost business investment. Moreover, fiscal policy is becoming more stimulative. In this environment, we anticipate that inflation on a 12-month basis will move up this year and stabilize around the FOMC’s 2 percent objective over the medium term.
“Wages should increase at a faster pace as well. The Committee views the near-term risks to the economic outlook as roughly balanced but will continue to monitor inflation developments closely.”
Read More @ WallStOnParade.com