The US Economy Thread

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Post by sportsczy Thu Oct 17, 2013 4:39 pm

@RedOranje wrote:Right, it's much better to play to their desires.
 No.  But it's all about debate and compromise in the US.  That's not how things get done.

That's why i love it when congress is controlled by one political party and the white house by another.  Checks and balances.  Neither side can go too extreme.  Sure it's gridlock. But I'd rather government do nothing then something stupid.

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Post by BarrileteCosmico Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:14 pm

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-23/central-banks-drop-tightening-talk-as-easy-money-goes-on.html

Pretty good interview and article
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Post by Yuri Yukuv Mon Nov 18, 2013 2:33 pm

So now that America is growing at 2.8% annualized in the last quarter and the S&P is at 1,800 where are the doubters?

Btw, Europe is still in recession Very Happy
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Post by VivaStPauli Mon Nov 18, 2013 7:08 pm

Yeah, the European part that swallowed all that neo-liberal BS about austerity is in recession. The investment-heavy, money-borrowin' dancin scum of the Social Democratic society is doing swell, thankyouverymuch.

So how is this vindicating your point? You got that explanation ready how this is in spite of the bailout, not because of it?

Europe is doing pretty differently depending on where you look. Countries in austerity are doing badly, those that kept investing and propping up failing companies are doing fine. The only country vaguely supporting a conservative economical point of view would be Ireland.

Enlighten me.
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Post by BarrileteCosmico Mon Nov 18, 2013 8:42 pm

Are we ignoring the fact that the countries you mention as doing fine as the ones that told the struggling ones that they had to engage in austerity or they would get no bail-out packages? scratch
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Post by VivaStPauli Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:07 pm

No no, we aren't, but that's not relevant. The austerity ideology is flawed, that the countries (like Germany, partly the US) that enforce them don't follow them themselves is hypocritical, but not really relevant.
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Post by BarrileteCosmico Tue Nov 19, 2013 5:07 am

The euro-zone as a whole is still in recession, though, right? Looking at places like Germany and saying "Well Germany is doing just fine, so it depends on where you look at" should have no more bearing than saying "Well, Texas is enjoying a high growth at the moment".

In any case I'm not sure who your original comment was targeted at since I don't recall anyone here defending austerity.
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Post by sportsczy Tue Nov 19, 2013 9:21 am

You can't look at debt as an overall number.  You need to look at total debt in comparison to GDP and the interest as a % of GDP.

Debt to GDP Ratio
Germany 81.7%
UK  88.7
France  89.9
Italy  126.1
Spain  85.3
Portugal  123.6
Greece  161.3

US  73.6

I can't readily find the interest to GDP ratio for the Europeans... but for he US, it's at 1.5% which has been constant pretty much for the last 13 years.

It's also very important to look at trends.  If GDP is growing, you can take on more debt without hurting your ratios.  But if your economy is stagnating, then additional debt crushes.

That's the issue with Europe.  Not only are their ratios extremely high... there's no growth for the most part.  So any additional debt is harmful.

Countries like Portugal, Spain and even Greece are currently seen extremely positively by the investment community because they took measures (austerity) to control debt growth in their current situation.  Now that they have done that, they are looking to stimulate growth.  Massive investment going into those countries right now.

Idiots like France have no growth, yet are spending like madmen.  Investors are running for the border lol.

US still has a lot of debt capacity.  That's not the issue.  What bothers americans is that, under Bill Clinton, we had a budget surplus his last few years... yes, we were making money lol.  We were below 50% debt to GDP ratio when Clinton left office.  Starting with Bush II, we're increasing debt massively to where it's at just below 80% now.  As an american, you ask yourself why?  What's changed?  We're financing wars...  that's the big one.  That's why you don't see the US jumping into any more wars, whether it's justified or not.

But austerity is the ONLY way for a lot of European countries right now.  They can't blindly invest into growth if the growth is uncertain because there is no room for failure.  Debt level are too high.  If growth doesn't happen, you will see a collapse with that strategy.  There are fundamental fiscal and administrative reasons why growth has been so poor in France for example... until those are fixed, just blindly investing will have little impact.  Nobody is going to invest heavily in a country that has a bad fiscal and political infrastructure.

Spain, Portugal and Greece have fixed and are continuing to fix their infrastructures while implementing austerity.  Once they decide to invest in growth, that investment will have a great chance to succeed as a result.
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Post by Yuri Yukuv Tue Nov 19, 2013 3:29 pm

@VivaStPauli wrote:Yeah, the European part that swallowed all that neo-liberal BS about austerity is in recession. The investment-heavy, money-borrowin' dancin scum of the Social Democratic society is doing swell, thankyouverymuch.

So how is this vindicating your point? You got that explanation ready how this is in spite of the bailout, not because of it?

Europe is doing pretty differently depending on where you look. Countries in austerity are doing badly, those that kept investing and propping up failing companies are doing fine. The only country vaguely supporting a conservative economical point of view would be Ireland.

Enlighten me.
Pro-Union anti investment Europe is in recession because of those policies and inability to adopt to a changing world.

While in the US government spending has been hit hard by the sequester and government shutdowns there was huge amount of money pumping and communication from the central bank, this is as opposed to Europe where central bank balance sheets peaked a year ago and we are currently seeing disinflation hopefully soon turning into deflation.

To say that the current recovery is because of 2009 fiscal spending and subsequent withdrawal of liquidity through UST issuance is not just ignorant but dangerous, in fact it was 2012 moves of increased liquidity by hiked up and well communicated targeted buying in combination with deficit reduction which this recovery can be attributed to.
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Post by BarrileteCosmico Tue Nov 19, 2013 3:32 pm

@Yuri Yukuv wrote:Pro-Union anti investment Europe is in recession because of those policies and inability to adopt to a changing world.

While in the US government spending has been hit hard by the sequester and government  shutdowns there was huge amount of money pumping and communication from the central bank, this is as opposed to Europe where central bank balance sheets peaked a year ago and we are currently seeing disinflation hopefully soon turning into deflation.

To say that the current recovery is because of 2009 fiscal spending and subsequent withdrawal of liquidity through UST issuance is not just ignorant but dangerous, in fact it was 2012 moves of increased liquidity by hiked up and well communicated targeted buying in combination with deficit reduction which this recovery can be attributed to.
Agreed with your larger points, but why do you want to see deflation in Europe?
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Post by Yuri Yukuv Tue Nov 19, 2013 3:40 pm

Agreed with your larger points, but why do you want to see deflation in Europe?[/quote]Hopefully it will accelerate the break up of unions

huge problem in Europe now is that because of Unions and Old Man's networks the corporation are keeping older less flexible less productive and more expensive employees while not hiring more flexible more productive and younger employees. If this is not solved ASAP it will result in even larger problems for Europe.
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Post by BarrileteCosmico Tue Nov 19, 2013 3:43 pm

Oh, well I don't agree with that at all Laughing What europe needs right now is way more inflation to spur consumption and investment, possibly a higher inflation target.
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Post by Yuri Yukuv Tue Nov 19, 2013 3:47 pm

@BarrileteCosmico wrote:Oh, well I don't agree with that at all :lol:What europe needs right now is way more inflation to spur consumption and investment, possibly a higher inflation target.
In an ideal world yes that would be preferred path, however Germans will never let it happen.

If I was dictator of Europe I would do the following:

-Better ECB communication and start of a QE program with a set unemployement or NGDP target

-Break up of union power and liberal labor policies

-Retire older people in the government

-Discretionary fiscal investment in the economy to counter the point above

-Better political union

-Better investment laws and more flexible/clear rules enabling growth in pharma/tech/fashion which are where Europe has an edge in relative to the world.
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Post by sportsczy Wed Nov 20, 2013 5:47 pm

You guys are obviously economists... i'm a businessman who was in the private equity world. You have to understand that, for an investor, it comes to risk-adjusted IRR. In a very simplified way, that's all it is. Asia, SA and even Africa are now competing for investment with many of the European member countries because the risk difference is becoming less and less.

Cost of capital is rising for European countries. That's a disaster. Once investment firms focus their energies elsewhere, it's going to take quite an effort to bring them back.

For example, my old firm wouldn't touch French real estate with a 10 foot pole right now... too much political and fiscal uncertainty. They've moved the funds that were targeted for here to Asia instead. Opened an office there.
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Post by BarrileteCosmico Wed Nov 20, 2013 8:09 pm

@Yuri Yukuv wrote:In an ideal world yes that would be preferred path, however Germans will never let it happen.

If I was dictator of Europe I would do the following:

-Better ECB communication and start of a QE program with a set unemployement or NGDP target

-Break up of union power and liberal labor policies

-Retire older people in the government


-Discretionary fiscal investment in the economy to counter the point above

-Better political union

-Better investment laws and more flexible/clear rules enabling growth in pharma/tech/fashion which are where Europe has an edge in relative to the world.
I don't really think breaking up the union power will bring relief in the short term. That's an issue that affects their long term competitiveness but the problems in the euro-zone right now are clearly demand-driven.

Also the age of retirement should probably be raised. In Italy a significant portion of the population retires at a mere 55 years old as the average life becomes longer.

Other than that I agree with the rest.
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Post by VivaStPauli Wed Nov 20, 2013 10:03 pm

Breaking up union power ruined the northern two thirds of Britain, so aside from being objectively proven the most bullshit part of Thatcherism, I'm sure Yuri'll love it.

Also, demanding "better laws" is tautological BS.
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Post by Yuri Yukuv Wed Nov 20, 2013 11:39 pm

Germany and northern europe n general had union reform a while back with the part time systems and so on, southern european unions are more like those from pre depression US.

Unions pose a problem as they decrease investment and risk taking by corporations, they also create very sticky fixed costs which is dangerous when it is combined with debt and low inflation. (even worse deflation which has already arrived in periphery and will seep into the core)

Well my kind of good laws are probably the opposite of yours, mainly investment friendly and low tax for innovation


Last edited by Yuri Yukuv on Wed Nov 20, 2013 11:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Yuri Yukuv Wed Nov 20, 2013 11:41 pm

@BarrileteCosmico wrote:I don't really think breaking up the union power will bring relief in the short term. That's an issue that affects their long term competitiveness but the problems in the euro-zone right now are clearly demand-driven.

Also the age of retirement should probably be raised. In Italy a significant portion of the population retires at a mere 55 years old as the average life becomes longer.

Other than that I agree with the rest.
Have you seen summer's speech on secular stagnation?

Brilliance

http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2013/11/18/1696762/summers-on-bubbles-and-secular-stagnation-forever/
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Post by Yuri Yukuv Wed Nov 20, 2013 11:43 pm

@sportsczy wrote:You guys are obviously economists... i'm a businessman who was in the private equity world.  You have to understand that, for an investor, it comes to risk-adjusted IRR.  In a very simplified way, that's all it is.  Asia, SA and even Africa are now competing for investment with many of the European member countries because the risk difference is becoming less and less.  

Cost of capital is rising for European countries.  That's a disaster.  Once investment firms focus their energies elsewhere, it's going to take quite an effort to bring them back.

For example, my old firm wouldn't touch French real estate with a 10 foot pole right now...  too much political and fiscal uncertainty.  They've moved the funds that were targeted for here to Asia instead.  Opened an office there.
Ive voted against any new investment inflows into Europe for the past 3 years, wouldnt touch it with a stick
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Post by sportsczy Thu Nov 21, 2013 3:57 pm

You voted against investment inflows into Europe??.. wow. You guys are from the dark ages if i'm reading this correctly. I think i'm going to leave this thread then.
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Post by Yuri Yukuv Thu Nov 21, 2013 9:44 pm

@sportsczy wrote:You voted against investment inflows into Europe??.. wow.  You guys are from the dark ages if i'm reading this correctly.  I think i'm going to leave this thread then.
The only things worth buying in europe are german industrial exporters, five star hotels in the main tourist destinations, exporters of pharma and consumer staples and the occasional tech stocks. With the emerging market slowdown those all have question marks on them.

Europe is right now were Japan was in 1992, the beginning of a huge structural stagnation

European earnings are still way far away from peak whereas the US has surpassed them

Dont see why anyone should buy anything there
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Post by BarrileteCosmico Fri Jan 10, 2014 4:17 am

The biggest myths in economics: http://pragcap.com/the-biggest-myths-in-economics?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
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Post by Swanhends Thu Jul 03, 2014 6:03 pm

Think this thread deserves a bump - it's been neglected for too long

So unemployment numbers came out today. Median forecast was 215,000 jobs created, actual numbers were 288,000. Unemployment down to 6.1%

Not sure about you guys but I'm certainly a bit puzzled - very strong second quarter job numbers coinciding with what most people seem to expect is a RGDP hovering somewhere around 0% for the quarter?

While we're at it - this whole thread is late on the Piketty debate: Thoughts?
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Post by Swanhends Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:23 pm

Sumner on Central Bankers: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2014/07/governments_don.html

ssumner wrote:Governments don't create problems, they solve them.

Yes, I'm being sarcastic. I associate this view with American liberals. It often seems that when there is a problem such as the 2008 financial crisis, they immediately assume "the market" is to blame, and "more regulation" is the answer. On closer inspection it's also a view of policymakers, whether liberal or conservative.

A good example is central bankers. Milton Friedman liked to point out that Fed officials never accepted the blame for bad outcomes (in real time), but took credit for good outcomes. During the 1930s Fed officials did not accept the view that they had caused the Great Depression, or even the severe deflation of 1929-33. During the 1960s and 1970s they did not accept the view that they had caused the Great Inflation. But Fed officials did assert that improved policy had led to the Great Moderation of 1984-2007. They did willingly accept the duty of targeting inflation at roughly 2%, and took credit when inflation averaged roughly 2% in recent decades. The same is true of other central bankers. On the other hand, Fed officials did not accept responsibility for the fact that NGDP in 2009 fell at the sharpest rate since 1938.

I thought of this pattern when reading a recent interview of Peter Praet, a top official at the ECB:

interview wrote:Unlike growth, the inflation figures are not in line with your scenarios. How do you explain this?
We have had to significantly revise our inflation forecasts for 2014, trimming them from 1.1% to 0.7% since December 2013. Low inflation is no longer caused purely by adjustments in certain euro area countries, and by lower energy and food prices. Normally, a fall in prices would be able to support purchasing power and, therefore, domestic demand. But demand has remained weak, including in the biggest euro area economies.

My immediate reaction was "never reason from price change." Lars Christensen had the same reaction. The response is poorly worded; for instance he confuses "demand" with "quantity demanded." But lots of people make that mistake. Is there a nugget of truth in this remark?

Perhaps the official was trying to say that "normally" the ECB is quite effective at keeping core inflation close to 2%. If successful, a fall in headline inflation to less than 1% would be caused by lower food and oil prices, presumably due to a rise in aggregate supply. In that case the lower inflation rate would be associated with higher output (a higher "aggregate quantity demanded.") In this particular case, however, aggregate demand has fallen (the line shifted), along with the lower inflation. That's not normal.

That is the most charitable reading I can give to the quotation. But unfortunately it doesn't really help, because Mr. Praet also says the following:

interview wrote:What are the brakes on growth?
Monetary policy cannot do it all. France has been affected by the slowing growth of its neighbours. But basically, it's investment that is causing a particularly serious problem. Another factor is the relative weakness of its export capacity.

This answer needs to be interpreted in the context of my charitable interpretation of the preceding quotation. (The alternative, the idea that top ECB officials don't know the difference between AS and AD, is too horrible to contemplate.)

So we can assume from the first quotation that the ECB believes the eurozone has an AD deficiency, and this is causing the sub-2% inflation. It's not the "normal" positive AS shock. But isn't an AD-generated shift in inflation exactly what an inflation targeting central bank can and should control? Of course it is. Like the Fed, the ECB has eagerly accepted the notion that it has the ability and duty to keep inflation near to 2%. And like the Fed, when inflation is near to 2% it takes all the credit.

So why is Mr. Praet so pessimistic about the ability of monetary stimulus to boost AD in France? The answer he gives is truly astonishing. Monetary policy cannot boost AD sufficiently because the real problem is:

1. Investment
2. Exports
3. The weak economy of France's (eurozone) neighbors

I see this sort of bizarre reasoning all the time, but rarely in such a stark form. Open any textbook and look at how eurozone monetary stimulus would be expected to help France. Here are the transmission mechanisms you will see:

1. More eurozone investment (lower real interest rates)
2. More eurozone exports (weaker currency)
3. More French exports (stronger economy in other eurozone countries.)

In other words, the ECB official has claimed that a lack of monetary stimulus is not the problem, because the real problems are precisely the sectors that would be helped by monetary stimulus.

Keep in mind that this is merely an extreme example of a thought process that occurs in central banks all over the world, almost all the time. It goes far beyond American liberalism. Indeed the ECB central bankers are relatively conservative. Rather it is deeply embedded in human nature. People who make decisions are very reluctant to acknowledge that subsequent bad outcomes are the result of those decisions. (Think Iraq.)

For you math jocks, here is a mathematical translation of the absurdity:

NGDP = M*V
NGDP = C + I + G + NX

Increases in the money supply obviously cannot boost NGDP, because the real problem is excessively low consumption, investment, government spending, and net exports. Don't think top government officials would ever be so blind as to think this way? Think again.

PS. Here's the equation that they should put in principles textbooks:

M*V = C + I + G + NX

It will never happen---as it might get students thinking dangerous thoughts.

HT: Nicolas Goetzmann
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Post by BarrileteCosmico Fri Aug 08, 2014 9:31 pm

Mboy sumner Proud

I think the real problem is not that ECB economists are stupid but that many professional economists are committed to a certain model and don't take the time to re-learn new ideas out there. Most people just stick by what they were taught and work within that frame of reference.

Sumner of course understands this and is playing the long game, going after the new generation of economists.
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Post by Yuri Yukuv Thu Sep 25, 2014 1:00 am

@Yuri Yukuv wrote:
@sportsczy wrote:You voted against investment inflows into Europe??.. wow.  You guys are from the dark ages if i'm reading this correctly.  I think i'm going to leave this thread then.
The only things worth buying in europe are german industrial exporters, five star hotels in the main tourist destinations, exporters of pharma and consumer staples and the occasional tech stocks. With the emerging market slowdown those all have question marks on them.

Europe is right now were Japan was in 1992, the beginning of a huge structural stagnation

European earnings are still way far away from peak whereas the US has surpassed them

Dont see why anyone should buy anything there


Glad I have been vindicated on this
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