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Stability is destabilizing: The idea of Minsky moment

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  "Minsky's financial instability hypothesis depends critically on what amounts to a sociological insight. People change their minds about taking risks. They don't make a one-time rational judgment about debt use and stock market exposure and stick to it. Instead, they change their minds over time. And history is quite clear about how they change their minds. The longer the good times endure, the more people begin to see wisdom in risky strategies."

The Cost of Capitalism: Understanding Market Mayhem and Stabilizing our Economic Future, by Robert Barbera

The flaw with Capitalism is that it creates its own positive feedback loop, snowballing to the point where the accumulation of wealth and power hurts people — eventually even those at the top of the food chain. ”

Uncle Billy Cunctator
In comment to Economic Donkeys

 
  Banks are a clear case of market failure and their employees at the senior level have basically become the biggest bank robbers of all time. As for basing pay on current revenues and not profits over extended periods of time, then that is a clear case of market failure --  
  The banksters have been able to sell the “talent” myth to justify their outsized pay because they are the only ones able to deliver the type of GDP growth the U.S. economy needs in the short term, even if that kills the U.S. economy in the long term. You’ll be gone, I’ll be gone.  
  Unfortunately, many countries go broke pursuing war, if not financially, then morally (are the two different? – this post suggests otherwise).

I occurs to me that the U.S. is also in that flock; interventions justified by grand cause built on fallacy, the alpha and omega of failure. Is the financial apparatchik (or Nomenklatura, a term I like which, as many from the Soviet era, succinctly describes aspects of our situation today) fated also to the trash heap, despite the best efforts of the Man of the hour, Ben Bernanke?

 

Minsky moment is the synonym of financial crisis -- the moment when excessive leverage that was inevitably created by the financial system during the boom phase of the cycle, starts collapsing and financial system enter the state of deep crisis with many banks becoming insolvent to the level of leverage they accumulated.  Government bailout of financial institutions under neoliberalism follows (because as Senator Durbin noted banks own the place -- the Congress) and then overhand of excessive debt depress the economy that enters the stage of prolonged stagnation. 

The view developed in this volume identifies both real and financial causes for the Great Recession, including the real income stagnation suffered by households across most of the income distribution on one hand, and deregulation and institutional change in the financial sector on the other.

The interplay of these factors led to massive debt accumulation, particularly by U.S. households seeking to supplement stagnant incomes in their pursuit of increasing consumption aspirations. Household borrowing was spurred on by a financial sector rendered ever freer of inter- and postwar financial regulations. These regulations came to be seen as unnecessary fetters on an inherently self-regulating “free market,” an idealized notion in which financiers and policy makers placed increasing trust and confidence.

Ultimately, the self-reinforcing developments in the real and financial sectors proved deadly.

Minsky should be the most admired economist in the second half of the 21st. Century. His views are now partially accepted even by neoclassical economists with their stahostic  equilibrium of supply and demand nonsense. This is mainly dues because they have no other choice. But Minsky was more then astute researcher of business cycle and the Great Depression. Perhaps his writings on eradicating poverty will earn the respect that it may deserve with time as well.

In any case he was one of the first researchers who understood (after Keynes) that financialization is inherent in capitalism and is the key to its instability:

Capitalism is essentially a financial system, and the peculiar behavioral attributes of a capitalist economy center around the impact of finance upon system behavior.” Minsky (1967)

Fifty years ago, Minsky, following Marx, viewed instability as the central flaw of the financial system under capitalism, as its inherent flaw. But unlike Marx, who thought that the periodic crisis of overproduction  is the source of instability (as well as  impoverishment of workers), Minsky assumed that the key source of that instability in the cycles of business borrowing and fractional bank lending, when "good times" lead to excessive borrowing and overproduction (The Alternative To Neoliberalism )

Minsky on capitalism:

He called his model the "Financial Instability Hypothesis". According to Steve Keen, Minsky model boils down to three   statements:

  1. The employment rate will rise if economic growth exceeds the sum of population growth and growth in labor productivity;
  2. The wages share of output will rise if money wage demands exceed the sum of inflation and growth in labor productivity; and
  3. The private debt to GDP ratio will rise if the rate of growth of private debt exceeds the sum of inflation plus the rate of economic growth.

He considered the immanent rising of private debt to GDP ratio an immanent feature of capitalism that lead to financial crisis. While the ultimate feature of neoliberlaism is redistribution of wealth up (rising of inequality) it can continue only while private debt can compensate that sliding share of labor wages in GDP.

Several other source of financial instability were pointed out by others:

The idea of Minsky moment is related to the fact that the fractional reserve banking periodically causes credit collapse when the leveraged credit expansion goes into reverse. And mainstream economists do not want to talk about the fact that increasing confidence breeds increased leverage. So financial stability breeds instability and subsequent financial crisis. All actions to guarantee a market rise, ultimately guarantee it's destruction because greed will always take advantage of a "sure thing" and push it beyond reasonable boundaries.  In other words, marker players are no rational and assume that it would be foolish not to maximize leverage in a market which is going up. So the fractional reserve banking mechanisms ultimately and ironically lead to over lending and guarantee the subsequent crisis and the market's destruction. Stability breed instability.

That means that fractional reserve banking based economic system with private players (aka capitalism) is inherently unstable. And first of all because  fractional reserve banking is debt based. In order to have growth it must create debt. Eventually the pyramid of debt crushes and crisis hit. When the credit expansion fuels asset price bubbles, the dangers for the financial sector and the real economy are substantial because this way the credit boom bubble is inflated which eventually burst. The damage done to the economy by the bursting of credit boom bubbles is significant and long lasting.

Blissex said...

«When credit growth fuels asset price bubbles, the dangers for the financial sector and the real economy are much more substantial.»

So M Minsky 50 years ago and M Pettis 15 years ago (in his "The volatility machine") had it right? Who could have imagined! :-)

«In the past decades, central banks typically have taken a hands-off approach to asset price bubbles and credit booms.»

If only! They have been feeding credit-based asset price bubbles by at the same time weakening regulations to push up allowed capital-leverage ratios, and boosting the quantity of credit as high as possible, but specifically most for leveraged speculation on assets, by allowing vast-overvaluations on those assets.

Central banks have worked hard in most Anglo-American countries to redistribute income and wealth from "inflationary" worker incomes to "non-inflationary" rentier incomes via hyper-subsidizing with endless cheap credit the excesses of financial speculation in driving up asset prices.

Not very hands-off at all.

Steve Keen understands this.  http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/manifesto/

John Kay in his January 5 2010 FT column very aptly explained the systemic instability of financial sector hypothesis: 

The credit crunch of 2007-08 was the third phase of a larger and longer financial crisis. The first phase was the emerging market defaults of the 1990s. The second was the new economy boom and bust at the turn of the century. The third was the collapse of markets for structured debt products, which had grown so rapidly in the five years up to 2007.

The manifestation of the problem in each phase was different – first emerging markets, then stock markets, then debt. But the mechanics were essentially the same. Financial institutions identified a genuine economic change – the assimilation of some poor countries into the global economy, the opportunities offered to business by new information technology, and the development of opportunities to manage risk and maturity mismatch more effectively through markets. Competition to sell products led to wild exaggeration of the pace and scope of these trends. The resulting herd enthusiasm led to mispricing – particularly in asset markets, which yielded large, and largely illusory, profits, of which a substantial fraction was paid to employees.

Eventually, at the end of each phase, reality impinged. The activities that once seemed so profitable – funding the financial systems of emerging economies, promoting start-up internet businesses, trading in structured debt products – turned out, in fact, to have been a source of losses. Lenders had to make write-offs, most of the new economy stocks proved valueless and many structured products became unmarketable. Governments, and particularly the US government, reacted on each occasion by pumping money into the financial system in the hope of staving off wider collapse, with some degree of success. At the end of each phase, regulators and financial institutions declared that lessons had been learnt. While measures were implemented which, if they had been introduced five years earlier, might have prevented the most recent crisis from taking the particular form it did, these responses addressed the particular problem that had just occurred, rather than the underlying generic problems of skewed incentives and dysfunctional institutional structures.

The public support of markets provided on each occasion the fuel needed to stoke the next crisis. Each boom and bust is larger than the last. Since the alleviating action is also larger, the pattern is one of cycles of increasing amplitude.

I do not know what the epicenter of the next crisis will be, except that it is unlikely to involve structured debt products. I do know that unless human nature changes or there is fundamental change in the structure of the financial services industry – equally improbable – there will be another manifestation once again based on naive extrapolation and collective magical thinking. The recent crisis taxed to the full – the word tax is used deliberately – the resources of world governments and their citizens. Even if there is will to respond to the next crisis, the capacity to do so may not be there.

The citizens of that most placid of countries, Iceland, now backed by their president, have found a characteristically polite and restrained way of disputing an obligation to stump up large sums of cash to pay for the arrogance and greed of other people. They are right. We should listen to them before the same message is conveyed in much more violent form, in another place and at another time. But it seems unlikely that we will.

We made a mistake in the closing decades of the 20th century. We removed restrictions that had imposed functional separation on financial institutions. This led to businesses riddled with conflicts of interest and culture, controlled by warring groups of their own senior employees. The scale of resources such businesses commanded enabled them to wield influence to create a – for them – virtuous circle of growing economic and political power. That mistake will not be easily remedied, and that is why I view the new decade with great apprehension. In the name of free markets, we created a monster that threatens to destroy the very free markets we extol.

The economist Hyman Minsky was the first clearly formulate the financial instability hypothesis although I think Keynes understood the dynamic pretty well. He postulated that a world with a large financial sector and an excessive emphasis on the production of investment products creates instability both in terms of output and prices. In other words it automatically tends to generate credit and asset bubbles.  The key driver is the fact that financial professionals generally risk other people’s money and due to this fact have asymmetrical incentives:

This asymmetry is not a new observation of this systemic problem. Andrew Jackson noted it in much more polemic way long ago:

“Gentlemen, I have had men watching you for a long time and I am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the bank and annul its charter, I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I intend to rout you out, and by the grace of the Eternal God, will rout you out.”

This asymmetrical incentives ensure that the financial system is structurally biased toward taking on more risk than what should be taken. In other words it naturally tend to slide to the casino model, the with omnipresent reckless gambling as the primary and the most profitable mode of operation while an opportunities last.  The only way to counter this is to throw sand into the wheels of financial mechanism:  enforce strict regulations, limit money supplies and periodically jail too enthusiastic bankers. The latter is as important or even more important as the other two because bankers tend to abuse "limited liability" status like no other sector.

Asset inflation over the past 10 years and the subsequent catastrophe incurred is a way classic behavior of dynamic system with strong positive feedback loop.  Such behavior does not depends of personalities of bankers or policymakers, but is an immanent property of this class of dynamic systems. And the main driving force here was deregulation. So its important that new regulation has safety feature which make removal of it more complicated and requiring bigger majority like is the case with constitutional issues.

Another fact was the fact that due to perverted incentives, accounting in the banks was fraudulent from the very beginning and it was fraudulent on purpose.  Essentially accounting in banks automatically become as bad as law enforcement permits. This is a classic case of control fraud and from prevention standpoint is make sense to establish huge penalties for auditors, which might hurt healthy institutions but help to ensure that the most fraudulent institution lose these bank charter before affecting the whole system.  With the anti-regulatory zeal of Bush II administration the level of auditing became too superficial, almost non-existent. I remember perverted dances with Sarbanes–Oxley when it was clear from the very beginning that the real goal is not to strengthen accounting but to earn fees and to create as much profitable red tape as possible, in perfect Soviet bureaucracy style.

Deregulation also increases systemic risk by influencing the real goals of financial organizations. At some point of deregulation process the goal of higher remuneration for the top brass becomes self-sustainable trend  and replaces all other goals of the financial organization. This is the essence of  Martin Taylor’s, the former chief executive of Barclays,  article FT.com - Innumerate bankers were ripe for a reckoning in the Financial Times (Dec 15, 2009), which is worth reading in its entirety:

City people have always been paid well relative to others, but megabonuses are quite new. From my own experience, in the mid-1990s no more than four or five employees of Barclays’ then investment bank were paid more than £1m, and no one got near £2m. Around the turn of the millennium across the market things began to take off, and accelerated rapidly – after a pause in 2001-03 – so that exceptionally high remuneration, not just individually, but in total, was paid out between 2004 and 2007.

Observers of financial services saw unbelievable prosperity and apparently immense value added. Yet two years later the whole industry was bankrupt. A simple reason underlies this: any industry that pays out in cash colossal accounting profits that are largely imaginary will go bust quickly. Not only has the industry – and by extension societies that depend on it – been spending money that is no longer there, it has been giving away money that it only imagined it had in the first place. Worse, it seems to want to do it all again.

What were the sources of this imaginary wealth?

In the last two of these the bank was not receiving any income, merely “booking revenues”. How could they pay this non-existent wealth out in cash to their employees? Because they had no measure of cash flow to tell them they were idiots, and because everyone else was doing it. Paying out 50 per cent of revenues to staff had become the rule, even when the “revenues” did not actually consist of money.

In the next phase instability is amplified by the way governments and central banks respond to crises caused by credit bubble: the state has powerful means to end a recession, but the policies it uses give rise to the next phase of instability, the next bubble…. When money is virtually free – or, at least, at 0.5 per cent – traders feel stupid if they don’t leverage up to the hilt. Thus previous bubble and crash become a dress rehearsal for the next.

Resulting self-sustaining "boom-bust" cycle is very close how electronic systems with positive feedback loop behave and   cannot be explained by neo-classical macroeconomic models. Like with electronic devices the financial institution in this mode are unable to provide the services that are needed.

As Minsky noted long ago (sited from Stephen Mihm  Why capitalism fails Boston Globe):

Modern finance, he argued, was far from the stabilizing force that mainstream economics portrayed: rather, it was a system that created the illusion of stability while simultaneously creating the conditions for an inevitable and dramatic collapse.

...our whole financial system contains the seeds of its own destruction. “Instability,” he wrote, “is an inherent and inescapable flaw of capitalism.”

Minsky’s vision might have been dark, but he was not a fatalist; he believed it was possible to craft policies that could blunt the collateral damage caused by financial crises. But with a growing number of economists eager to declare the recession over, and the crisis itself apparently behind us, these policies may prove as discomforting as the theories that prompted them in the first place. Indeed, as economists re-embrace Minsky’s prophetic insights, it is far from clear that they’re ready to reckon with the full implications of what he saw.

And he understood the roots of the current credit bubble much better that neoclassical economists like Bernanke: 
As people forget that failure is a possibility, a “euphoric economy” eventually develops, fueled by the rise of far riskier borrowers - what [Minsky] called speculative borrowers, those whose income would cover interest payments but not the principal; and those he called “Ponzi borrowers,” those whose income could cover neither, and could only pay their bills by borrowing still further.

As these latter categories grew, the overall economy would shift from a conservative but profitable environment to a much more freewheeling system dominated by players whose survival depended not on sound business plans, but on borrowed money and freely available credit.

 Minsky’s financial instability hypothesis suggests that when optimism is high and ample funds are available for investment, investors tend to migrate from the safe hedge end of the Minsky spectrum to the risky speculative and Ponzi end. Indeed, in the current crisis, investors tried to raise returns by increasing leverage and switching to financing via short-term—sometimes overnight— borrowing (Too late to learn?):

In the church of Friedman, inflation was the ol' devil tempting the good folk; the 1980s seemed to prove that, let loose, it would cause untold havoc on the populace. But, as Barbera notes:

The last five major global cyclical events were the early 1990s recession - largely occasioned by the US Savings & Loan crisis, the collapse of Japan Inc after the stock market crash of 1990, the Asian crisis of the mid-1990s, the fabulous technology boom/bust cycle at the turn of the millennium, and the unprecedented rise and then collapse for US residential real estate in 2007-2008. All five episodes delivered recessions, either global or regional. In no case was there a significant prior acceleration of wages and general prices. In each case, an investment boom and an associated asset market ran to improbable heights and then collapsed. From 1945 to 1985, there was no recession caused by the instability of investment prompted by financial speculation - and since 1985 there has been no recession that has not been caused by these factors.
Thus, meet the devil in Minsky's paradise - "an investment boom and an associated asset market [that] ran to improbable heights and then collapsed".

According the Barbera, "Minsky's financial instability hypothesis depends critically on what amounts to a sociological insight. People change their minds about taking risks. They don't make a one-time rational judgment about debt use and stock market exposure and stick to it. Instead, they change their minds over time. And history is quite clear about how they change their minds. The longer the good times endure, the more people begin to see wisdom in risky strategies."

Current economy state can be called following Paul McCulley a "stable disequilibrium" very similar to a state  a sand pile.  All this pile of  stocks, debt instruments, derivatives, credit default swaps and God know corresponds to a  pile of sand that is on the verse of losing stability. Each financial player works hard to maximize their own personal outcome but the "invisible hand" effect in adding sand to the pile that is increasing systemic instability. According to Minsky, the longer such situation continues the more likely and violent an "avalanche".

The late Hunt Taylor wrote, in 2006:

"Let us start with what we know. First, these markets look nothing like anything I've ever encountered before. Their stunning complexity, the staggering number of tradable instruments and their interconnectedness, the light-speed at which information moves, the degree to which the movement of one instrument triggers nonlinear reactions along chains of related derivatives, and the requisite level of mathematics necessary to price them speak to the reality that we are now sailing in uncharted waters.

"... I've had 30-plus years of learning experiences in markets, all of which tell me that technology and telecommunications will not do away with human greed and ignorance. I think we will drive the car faster and faster until something bad happens. And I think it will come, like a comet, from that part of the night sky where we least expect it."

This is a gold age for bankers. As Peter Boone Simon Johnson wrote in New Republic (The Next Financial Crisis ):

Banking was once a dangerous profession. In Britain, for instance, bankers faced “unlimited liability”--that is, if you ran a bank, and the bank couldn’t repay depositors or other creditors, those people had the right to confiscate all your personal assets and income until you repaid. It wasn’t until the second half of the nineteenth century that Britain established limited liability for bank owners. From that point on, British bankers no longer assumed much financial risk themselves.

In the United States, there was great experimentation with banking during the 1800s, but those involved in the enterprise typically made a substantial commitment of their own capital. For example, there was a well-established tradition of “double liability,” in which stockholders were responsible for twice the original value of their shares in a bank. This encouraged stockholders to carefully monitor bank executives and employees. And, in turn, it placed a lot of pressure on those who managed banks. If they fared poorly, they typically faced personal and professional ruin. The idea that a bank executive would retain wealth and social status in the event of a self-induced calamity would have struck everyone--including bank executives themselves--as ludicrous.

Enter, in the early part of the twentieth century, the Federal Reserve. The Fed was founded in 1913, but discussion about whether to create a central bank had swirled for years. “No one can carefully study the experience of the other great commercial nations,” argued Republican Senator Nelson Aldrich in an influential 1909 speech, “without being convinced that disastrous results of recurring financial crises have been successfully prevented by a proper organization of capital and by the adoption of wise methods of banking and of currency”--in other words, a central bank. In November 1910, Aldrich and a small group of top financiers met on an isolated island off the coast of Georgia. There, they hammered out a draft plan to create a strong central bank that would be owned by banks themselves.

What these bankers essentially wanted was a bailout mechanism for the aftermath of speculative crashes--something more durable than J.P. Morgan, who saved the day in the Panic of 1907 but couldn’t be counted on to live forever. While they sought informal government backing and substantial government financial support for their new venture, the bankers also wanted it to remain free of government interference, oversight, or control.

Another destabilizing fact is so called myth of invisible hand which is closely related to the myth about market self-regulation. The misunderstood argument of Adam Smith [1776], the founder of modern economics, that free markets led to efficient outcomes, “as if by an invisible hand” has played a central role in these debates: it suggested that we could, by and large, rely on markets without government intervention. About "invisible hand" deification, see The Invisible Hand, Trumped by Darwin - NYTimes.com. One of the most important counterargument against financial market self-regulation is existence of so called  “Minsky moments”:

“Minsky” was shorthand for Hyman Minsky, an Amercan macroeconomist who died over a decade ago.  He predicted almost exactly the kind of meltdown that recently hammered the global economy. He believed in capitalism, but also believed it had almost a genetic weakness. Modern finance, he argued, was far from the stabilizing force that mainstream economics portrayed: rather, it was a system that created the illusion of stability while simultaneously creating the conditions for an inevitable and dramatic collapse.

In other words, the one person who foresaw the crisis also believed that our whole financial system contains the seeds of its own destruction. “Instability,” he wrote, “is an inherent and inescapable flaw of capitalism.”

Minsky believed it was possible to craft policies that could blunt the collateral damage caused by financial crises. As economists re-embrace Minsky’s prophetic insights, it is far from clear that they’re ready to reckon with the full implications of what he saw.

Misnky theory was not well recived due to powerful orthodoxy, born in the years after World War II, known as the neoclassical synthesis. The older belief in a self-regulating, self-stabilizing free market had selectively absorbed a few insights from John Maynard Keynes, the great economist of the 1930s who wrote extensively of the ways that capitalism might fail to maintain full employment. Most economists still believed that free-market capitalism was a fundamentally stable basis for an economy, though thanks to Keynes, some now acknowledged that government might under certain circumstances play a role in keeping the economy - and employment - on an even keel.

Economists like Paul Samuelson became the public face of the new establishment; he and others at a handful of top universities became deeply influential in Washington. In theory, Minsky could have been an academic star in this new establishment: Like Samuelson, he earned his doctorate in economics at Harvard University, where he studied with legendary Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter, as well as future Nobel laureate Wassily Leontief.

But Minsky was cut from different cloth than many of the other big names. The descendent of immigrants from Minsk, in modern-day Belarus, Minsky was a red-diaper baby, the son of Menshevik socialists. While most economists spent the 1950s and 1960s toiling over mathematical models, Minsky pursued research on poverty, hardly the hottest subfield of economics. With long, wild, white hair, Minsky was closer to the counterculture than to mainstream economics. He was, recalls the economist L. Randall Wray, a former student, a “character.”

So while his colleagues from graduate school went on to win Nobel prizes and rise to the top of academia, Minsky languished. He drifted from Brown to Berkeley and eventually to Washington University. Indeed, many economists weren’t even aware of his work. One assessment of Minsky published in 1997 simply noted that his “work has not had a major influence in the macroeconomic discussions of the last thirty years.”

Yet he was busy. In addition to poverty, Minsky began to delve into the field of finance, which despite its seeming importance had no place in the theories formulated by Samuelson and others. He also began to ask a simple, if disturbing question: “Can ‘it’ happen again?” - where “it” was, like Harry Potter’s nemesis Voldemort, the thing that could not be named: the Great Depression.

In his writings, Minsky looked to his intellectual hero, Keynes, arguably the greatest economist of the 20th century. But where most economists drew a single, simplistic lesson from Keynes - that government could step in and micromanage the economy, smooth out the business cycle, and keep things on an even keel - Minsky had no interest in what he and a handful of other dissident economists came to call “bastard Keynesianism.”

Instead, Minsky drew his own, far darker, lessons from Keynes’s landmark writings, which dealt not only with the problem of unemployment, but with money and banking. Although Keynes had never stated this explicitly, Minsky argued that Keynes’s collective work amounted to a powerful argument that capitalism was by its very nature unstable and prone to collapse. Far from trending toward some magical state of equilibrium, capitalism would inevitably do the opposite. It would lurch over a cliff.

This insight bore the stamp of his advisor Joseph Schumpeter, the noted Austrian economist now famous for documenting capitalism’s ceaseless process of “creative destruction.” But Minsky spent more time thinking about destruction than creation. In doing so, he formulated an intriguing theory: not only was capitalism prone to collapse, he argued, it was precisely its periods of economic stability that would set the stage for monumental crises.

Minsky called his idea the “Financial Instability Hypothesis.” In the wake of a depression, he noted, financial institutions are extraordinarily conservative, as are businesses. With the borrowers and the lenders who fuel the economy all steering clear of high-risk deals, things go smoothly: loans are almost always paid on time, businesses generally succeed, and everyone does well. That success, however, inevitably encourages borrowers and lenders to take on more risk in the reasonable hope of making more money. As Minsky observed, “Success breeds a disregard of the possibility of failure.”

As people forget that failure is a possibility, a “euphoric economy” eventually develops, fueled by the rise of far riskier borrowers - what he called speculative borrowers, those whose income would cover interest payments but not the principal; and those he called “Ponzi borrowers,” those whose income could cover neither, and could only pay their bills by borrowing still further. As these latter categories grew, the overall economy would shift from a conservative but profitable environment to a much more freewheeling system dominated by players whose survival depended not on sound business plans, but on borrowed money and freely available credit.

Once that kind of economy had developed, any panic could wreck the market. The failure of a single firm, for example, or the revelation of a staggering fraud could trigger fear and a sudden, economy-wide attempt to shed debt. This watershed moment - what was later dubbed the “Minsky moment” - would create an environment deeply inhospitable to all borrowers. The speculators and Ponzi borrowers would collapse first, as they lost access to the credit they needed to survive. Even the more stable players might find themselves unable to pay their debt without selling off assets; their forced sales would send asset prices spiraling downward, and inevitably, the entire rickety financial edifice would start to collapse. Businesses would falter, and the crisis would spill over to the “real” economy that depended on the now-collapsing financial system.

From the 1960s onward, Minsky elaborated on this hypothesis. At the time he believed that this shift was already underway: postwar stability, financial innovation, and the receding memory of the Great Depression were gradually setting the stage for a crisis of epic proportions. Most of what he had to say fell on deaf ears. The 1960s were an era of solid growth, and although the economic stagnation of the 1970s was a blow to mainstream neo-Keynesian economics, it did not send policymakers scurrying to Minsky. Instead, a new free market fundamentalism took root: government was the problem, not the solution.

Moreover, the new dogma coincided with a remarkable era of stability. The period from the late 1980s onward has been dubbed the “Great Moderation,” a time of shallow recessions and great resilience among most major industrial economies. Things had never been more stable. The likelihood that “it” could happen again now seemed laughable.

Yet throughout this period, the financial system - not the economy, but finance as an industry - was growing by leaps and bounds. Minsky spent the last years of his life, in the early 1990s, warning of the dangers of securitization and other forms of financial innovation, but few economists listened. Nor did they pay attention to consumers’ and companies’ growing dependence on debt, and the growing use of leverage within the financial system.

By the end of the 20th century, the financial system that Minsky had warned about had materialized, complete with speculative borrowers, Ponzi borrowers, and precious few of the conservative borrowers who were the bedrock of a truly stable economy. Over decades, we really had forgotten the meaning of risk. When storied financial firms started to fall, sending shockwaves through the “real” economy, his predictions started to look a lot like a road map.

“This wasn’t a Minsky moment,” explains Randall Wray. “It was a Minsky half-century.”

Minsky is now all the rage. A year ago, an influential Financial Times columnist confided to readers that rereading Minsky’s 1986 “masterpiece” - “Stabilizing an Unstable Economy” - “helped clear my mind on this crisis.” Others joined the chorus. Earlier this year, two economic heavyweights - Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong - both tipped their hats to him in public forums. Indeed, the Nobel Prize-winning Krugman titled one of the Robbins lectures at the London School of Economics “The Night They Re-read Minsky.”

Today most economists, it’s safe to say, are probably reading Minsky for the first time, trying to fit his unconventional insights into the theoretical scaffolding of their profession. If Minsky were alive today, he would no doubt applaud this belated acknowledgment, even if it has come at a terrible cost. As he once wryly observed, “There is nothing wrong with macroeconomics that another depression [won’t] cure.”

But does Minsky’s work offer us any practical help? If capitalism is inherently self-destructive and unstable - never mind that it produces inequality and unemployment, as Keynes had observed - now what?

After spending his life warning of the perils of the complacency that comes with stability - and having it fall on deaf ears - Minsky was understandably pessimistic about the ability to short-circuit the tragic cycle of boom and bust. But he did believe that much could be done to ameliorate the damage.

To prevent the Minsky moment from becoming a national calamity, part of his solution (which was shared with other economists) was to have the Federal Reserve - what he liked to call the “Big Bank” - step into the breach and act as a lender of last resort to firms under siege. By throwing lines of liquidity to foundering firms, the Federal Reserve could break the cycle and stabilize the financial system. It failed to do so during the Great Depression, when it stood by and let a banking crisis spiral out of control. This time, under the leadership of Ben Bernanke - like Minsky, a scholar of the Depression - it took a very different approach, becoming a lender of last resort to everything from hedge funds to investment banks to money market funds.

Minsky’s other solution, however, was considerably more radical and less palatable politically. The preferred mainstream tactic for pulling the economy out of a crisis was - and is - based on the Keynesian notion of “priming the pump” by sending money that will employ lots of high-skilled, unionized labor - by building a new high-speed train line, for example.

Minsky, however, argued for a “bubble-up” approach, sending money to the poor and unskilled first. The government - or what he liked to call “Big Government” - should become the “employer of last resort,” he said, offering a job to anyone who wanted one at a set minimum wage. It would be paid to workers who would supply child care, clean streets, and provide services that would give taxpayers a visible return on their dollars. In being available to everyone, it would be even more ambitious than the New Deal, sharply reducing the welfare rolls by guaranteeing a job for anyone who was able to work. Such a program would not only help the poor and unskilled, he believed, but would put a floor beneath everyone else’s wages too, preventing salaries of more skilled workers from falling too precipitously, and sending benefits up the socioeconomic ladder.

While economists may be acknowledging some of Minsky’s points on financial instability, it’s safe to say that even liberal policymakers are still a long way from thinking about such an expanded role for the American government. If nothing else, an expensive full-employment program would veer far too close to socialism for the comfort of politicians. For his part, Wray thinks that the critics are apt to misunderstand Minsky. “He saw these ideas as perfectly consistent with capitalism,” says Wray. “They would make capitalism better.”

But not perfect. Indeed, if there’s anything to be drawn from Minsky’s collected work, it’s that perfection, like stability and equilibrium, are mirages. Minsky did not share his profession’s quaint belief that everything could be reduced to a tidy model, or a pat theory. His was a kind of existential economics: capitalism, like life itself, is difficult, even tragic. “There is no simple answer to the problems of our capitalism,” wrote Minsky. “There is no solution that can be transformed into a catchy phrase and carried on banners.”

It’s a sentiment that may limit the extent to which Minsky becomes part of any new orthodoxy. But that’s probably how he would have preferred it, believes liberal economist James Galbraith. “I think he would resist being domesticated,” says Galbraith. “He spent his career in professional isolation.”

Stephen Mihm is a history professor at the University of Georgia and author of “A Nation of Counterfeiters” (Harvard, 2007). © Copyright 2009 Globe Newspaper Company.

 

Attempts to reinvent Minsky will never stop

Here is one such paper   Leveraged Bubbles (Sep 01, 2015)

The conclusion to "Leveraged bubbles," by Òscar Jordà, Moritz Schularick, and Alan Taylor:

... In this column, we turned to economic history for the first comprehensive assessment of the economic risks of asset price bubbles. We provide evidence about which types of bubbles matter and how their economic costs differ. Our historical analysis shows that not all bubbles are created equal. When credit growth fuels asset price bubbles, the dangers for the financial sector and the real economy are much more substantial. The damage done to the economy by the bursting of credit boom bubbles is significant and long lasting.
In the past decades, central banks typically have taken a hands-off approach to asset price bubbles and credit booms. This way of thinking has been criticised by some institutions, such as the BIS, that took a less rosy view of the self-equilibrating tendencies of financial markets and warned of the potentially grave consequences of leveraged asset price bubbles. The findings presented here can inform ongoing efforts to devise better macro-financial theory and real-world applications at a time when policymakers are still searching for new approaches in the aftermath of the Great Recession.
Posted by Mark Thoma on Tuesday, September 1, 2015 at 09:25 AM in Economics, Financial System | Permalink  Comments (8)

Double Capitulation said...

"bursting of credit boom bubbles is significant and long lasting.

In the past decades, central banks typically have taken"
~~Òscar Jordà, Moritz Schularick, and Alan Taylor:~

Did Kurt Vonnegut once quip

"Each fed governor likes to live on the edge, further out on a limb where she can see more then hope against hope that limb will not break until she leaves office." ?

Imprecisely, yet left us with a memorable hint of both his genius and fed governor's stupidity.
 

djb said...

of course if wages kept up with productivity, there would not have been as much of a bubble because people could have paid more, and borrowed less

but I doubt BIS was worried about that particular issue

Peter K. -> djb...

"This way of thinking has been criticised by some institutions, such as the BIS, that took a less rosy view of the self-equilibrating tendencies of financial markets and warned of the potentially grave consequences of leveraged asset price bubbles."

Likewise I don't the believe the BIS is big on tighter regulation of the banks. As Krugman and others have pointed out, the BIS is always for raising rates but switches rationals. Sometimes it's about inflation, sometimes bubbles.
 

mulp -> djb...

We need a Fed that sets as policy buying long term debt that funds new infrastructure projects that are required by Federal regulation to pay prevailing aka higher wages.

If in 2010, the Fed had bought $3 trillion in bonds for such projects as building the NE HSR, for all the cities fixing their century old water and sewer systems, California's HSR, bonds for replacement bridges with tunnels as option, rerouting rail to eliminate grade crossings to speed for freight and truck traffic, then the Fed could have done what Republicans have done up until the Republicans decided to punish all the We the People for electing Obama.

Any debt issued that does not build new capital assets requiring American labor, ie, debt paying labor costs, is totally worthless to the economy.

Other than for some existing constant wealth redistribution purposes - during 2008-2011 savers were protected against having their wealth taken from them and given to the borrowers who had long ago spent it.

Arne said...

Is there some data on the extent to which asset price rises are credit fueled or not. My memory (which does not qualify as a data source) says that the housing bubble was much more so than the dot-com bubble.

Blissex said...

«When credit growth fuels asset price bubbles, the dangers for the financial sector and the real economy are much more substantial.»

So M Minsky 50 years ago and M Pettis 15 years ago (in his "The volatility machine") had it right? Who could have imagined! :-)

«In the past decades, central banks typically have taken a hands-off approach to asset price bubbles and credit booms.»

If only! They have been feeding credit-based asset price bubbles by at the same time weakening regulations to push up allowed capital-leverage ratios, and boosting the quantity of credit as high as possible, but specifically most for leveraged speculation on assets, by allowing vast-overvaluations on those assets.

Central banks have worked hard in most Anglo-American countries to redistribute income and wealth from "inflationary" worker incomes to "non-inflationary" rentier incomes via hyper-subsidizing with endless cheap credit the excesses of financial speculation in driving up asset prices.

Not very hands-off at all.

mulp -> Blissex...

Are you questioning creating wealth by price inflation of decaying asset which are churned in pump and dump?

Do you believe selling and reselling the same fixed quantity of assets creates jobs through the wealth effect of workers spending money they don't have to buy things on credit they can't pay back to keep up with the rich?

Wealth. Creating wealth. Wealth effect. Capital gains. Money in your pocket.

Signs of free lunch economic smoke and mirrors.

Wealth is created by paid labor or hard labor by the owner of the created wealth. But paying labor costs as a virtue is not something an economist is allowed to say in the post Reagan victory world.


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Old News ;-)

[Nov 13, 2018] "I understand your house is on fire ."

Nov 13, 2018 | twitter.com

[Nov 03, 2018] Crashed How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World Adam Tooze 9780670024933 Amazon.com Books

Nov 03, 2018 | www.amazon.com

"An intelligent explanation of the mechanisms that produced the crisis and the response to it...One of the great strengths of Tooze's book is to demonstrate the deeply intertwined nature of the European and American financial systems." -- The New York Times Book Review

wsmrer 5.0 out of 5 stars 2008 Neoliberalism crashes the state rushes back-- just in time August 10, 2018 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

"Whereas since the 1970s the incessant mantra of the spokespeople of the financial industry had been free markets and light touch regulation, what they were now demanding was the mobilization of all of the resources of the state to save society's financial infrastructure from a threat of systemic implosion, a threat they likened to a military emergency." (Loc. 3172-3174)

Adam Tooze takes the well know Financial Crisis of 2007-08 through its full history of international ramifications and brings it up to the present with the question of whether the large organizations, structures and processes on the one hand; decision, debate, argument and action on the other that managed to fall into place in that crisis period in this and many other countries will develop if needed again. "The political in "political economy" demands to be taken seriously." (Loc. 11694). That he does.

Tooze is an Economic Historian and Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World is a wonderfully rich enquiry into causes and effects of the Financial Crisis and how the failing of poorly managed greed motivated practices of a few financial institutions, and their subprime mortgagees, tumbled economies in the developed and developing world, causing events that matched the Great Depression's dislocation and could have matched its duration, springing from world wide money markets "interlocking matrix" of corporate balance sheets -- bank to bank."

A warning he is not kind to existing political beings, the Republican Party in particular " to judge by the record of the last ten years, it is incapable of legislating or cooperating effectively in government." (Loc.11704)
His criticism is, in fairness, based on technical management grounds, and he does find fault as well with the inner core of the Obama advisors and their primary concerns for the financial sectors well being, rather than nationwide happenings where homes and incomes disappeared.

This reviewer's favorite (not mentioned by Tooze) is the early 2009 comment of Larry Sumners when Christina D. Romer, the chairwoman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers and leading authority on the Great Depression saw a need for $1.8 trillion stimulus package, "What have you been smoking?"
Sumners, Geithner, and Orszag, who favored transferring $700 billion to the banks to offset possible bank failures and such -- became policy. Tooze mentions that by 2012 Sumners was concerned by the slowness of the U.S. economy's recovery taking, as it did, 8 years to reach 2008 levels of employment.

Can an Economic History be an exciting read? Tooze gives us over 700 pages of just that, but much will be familiar as reported news and may be skimmed, and some of the Fed's expanded international roles very dense in content. His strength is the knowledge of what could have happened, had solutions not been found, and how agreements were reached out of public sight.
" the world economy is not run by medium-sized entrepreneurs but by a few thousand massive corporations, with interlocking shareholdings controlled by a tiny group of asset managers. (Loc.418-419).
Add wily politicians and hard driven bankers EU Ukraine and China you have an adventure.

Corporate control is not new -- rich descriptions of its inner connections are.
Adam Tooze does this well a reference work for years to come.
5 stars

David Shulman 5.0 out of 5 stars The World in Crisis August 22, 2018 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

Columbia history professor Adam Tooze, an authority on the inter-war years, has offered up an authoritative history of the financial crises and their aftermath that have beset the world since 2008. He integrates economics, the plumbing of the interbank financial system and the politics of the major players in how and why the financial crisis of 2008 developed and the course of the very uneven recovery that followed. I must note that Tooze has some very clear biases in that he views the history through a social democratic prism and is very critical of the congressional Republican caucus and the go slow policies of the European Central Bank under Trichet. To him the banks got bailed out while millions of people suffered as collateral damage from a crisis that was largely made by the financial system. His view may very well be correct, but many readers might differ. Simply put, to save the economy policy makers had to stop the bleeding.

He starts off with the hot topic of 2005; the need for fiscal consolidation in the United States. Aside from a few dissidents, most economists saw the need for the U.S. to close its fiscal deficit and did not see the structural crisis that was developing underneath them. Although he does mention Hyman Minsky a few times in the book, he leaves out Minsky's most important insight that "stability leads to instability" as market participants are lulled into a false sense of security. It therefore was against the backdrop of the "great moderation" that the crisis began. And it was the seemingly calm environment that lulled all too many regulators to sleep.

The underbelly of the financial system was and still is in many respects is the wholesale funding system where too many banks are largely funded in repo and commercial paper markets. This mismatch was exacerbated by the use of asset-backed commercial paper to fund long term mortgage securities. It was problems in that market that triggered the crisis in August 2007.

The crisis explodes when Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy in September 2008. In Tooze's view the decision to let Lehman fail was political, not economic. After that the gates of hell are opened causing the Bush Administration and the Federal Reserve to ask for $750 billion dollar TARP bailout of the major banks. It was in the Congressional fight over this appropriation where Tooze believes the split in the Republican Party between the business conservative and social populist wing hardens. We are living with that through this day. The TARP program passes with Democratic votes. Tooze also notes that there was great continuity between the Bush and early Obama policies with respect to the banks and auto bailout. Recall that in late 2008 and early 2009 nationalization of the banks was on the table. Tooze also correctly notes that the major beneficiary of the TARP program was Citicorp, the most exposed U.S. bank to the wholesale funding system.

Concurrent with TARP the Bernanke Fed embarks on its first quantitative easing program where it buys up not only treasuries, but mortgage backed securities as well. It was with the latter Europe's banks were bailed out. Half of the first QE went to bail out Europe's troubled banks. When combined the dollar swap lines with QE, Europe's central banks essentially became branches of the Fed. Now here is a problem. Where in the Federal Reserve Act does it say that the Fed is the central bank to the world? To some it maybe a stretch.

Tooze applauds Obama's stimulus policy but rightly says it was too small. There should have been more infrastructure in it. To my view there could have been more infrastructure if only Obama was willing to deal with the Republicans by offering to waive environmental reviews and prevailing wage rules. He never tried for fear of offending his labor and environmental constituencies. Tooze also gives great credit to China with it all out monetary and fiscal policies. That triggered a revival in the energy and natural resource economies of Australia and Brazil thereby helping global recovery.

He then turns to the slow responses in Europe and the political wrangling over the tragedy that was to befall Greece. It came down to the power of Angela Merkel and her unwillingness to have the frugal German taxpayer subsidize the profligate Greeks. As they say "all politics is local". The logjam in Europe doesn't really break until Mario Draghi makes an off-the-cuff remark at a London speech in July 2012 by saying the ECB will do "whatever it takes" to engender European recovery.

As a byproduct of bailing out the banks and failing to directly help the average citizen a rash of populism, mostly of the rightwing variety, breaks out all over leading to Brexit, Orban in Hungary, a stronger rightwing in Germany and, of course, Donald Trump. But to me it wasn't only banking policy that created this. The huge surge in immigration into Europe has a lot more to do with it. Tooze under-rates this factor. He also under-rates the risk of having a monetary policy that is too easy and too long. The same type of Minsky risk discussed earlier is now present in the global economy: witness Turkey, for example. Thus it is too early to tell whether or not the all-out monetary policy of the past decade will be judged a success from the vantage point of 2030.

Adam Tooze has written an important book and I view it as must read for a serious lay reader to get a better understanding of the economic and political policies of the past decade.

[Nov 01, 2018] The 2018 Globie Crashed by Joseph Joyce

Notable quotes:
"... Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World ..."
"... Grave New World: The End of Globalization, the Return of History ..."
"... Global Inequality ..."
"... Currency Power: Understanding Monetary Rivalry ..."
"... The Shifts and the Shocks: What We've Learned–and Have Still to Learn–from the Financial Crisis ..."
Nov 01, 2018 | angrybearblog.com

Each year I choose a book to be the Globalization Book of the Year, i.e., the "Globie". The prize is strictly honorific and does not come with a check. But I do like to single out books that are particularly insightful about some aspect of globalization. Previous winners are listed at the bottom.

This year's choice is Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World by Adam Tooze of Yale University . Tooze, an historian, traces the events leading up to the crisis and the subsequent ten years. He points out in the introduction that this account is different from one he may have written several years ago. At that time Barak Obama had won re-election in 2012 on the basis of a slow but steady recovery in the U.S. Europe was further behind, but the emerging markets were growing rapidly, due to the demand for their commodities from a steadily-growing China as well as capital inflows searching for higher returns than those available in the advanced economies.

But the economic recovery has brought new challenges, which have swept aside established politicians and parties. Obama was succeeded by Donald Trump, who promised to restore America to some form of past greatness. His policy agenda includes trade disputes with a broad range of countries, and he is particularly eager to impose trade tariffs on China. The current meltdown in stock prices follows a rise in interest rates normal at this stage of the business cycle but also is based on fears of the consequences of the trade measures.

Europe has its own discontents. In the United Kingdom, voters have approved leaving the European Union. The European Commission has expressed its disapproval of the Italian government's fiscal plans. Several east European governments have voiced opposition to the governance norms of the West European nations. Angela Merkel's decision to step down as head of her party leaves Europe without its most respected leader.

All these events are outcomes of the crisis, which Tooze emphasizes was a trans-Atlantic event. European banks had purchased held large amounts of U.S. mortgage-backed securities that they financed with borrowed dollars. When liquidity in the markets disappeared, the European banks faced the challenge of financing their obligations. Tooze explains how the Federal Reserve supported the European banks using swap lines with the European Central Bank and other central banks, as well as including the domestic subsidiaries of the foreign banks in their liquidity support operations in the U.S. As a result, Tooze claims:

"What happened in the fall of 2008 was not the relativization of the dollar, but the reverse, a dramatic reassertion of the pivotal role of America's central bank. Far from withering away, the Fed's response gave an entirely new dimension to the global dollar" (Tooze, p. 219)

The focused policies of U.S. policymakers stood in sharp contrast to those of their European counterparts. Ireland and Spain had to deal with their own banking crises following the collapse of their housing bubbles, and Portugal suffered from anemic growth. But Greece's sovereign debt posed the largest challenge, and exposed the fault line in the Eurozone between those who believed that such crises required a national response and those who looked for a broader European resolution. As a result, Greece lurched from one lending program to another. The IMF was treated as a junior partner by the European governments that sought to evade facing the consequences of Greek insolvency, and the Fund's reputation suffered new blows due to its involvement with the various rescue operations.The ECB only demonstrated a firm commitment to its stabilizing role in July 2012, when its President Mario Draghi announced that "Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro."

China followed another route. The government there engaged in a surge of stimulus spending combined with expansionary monetary policies. The result was continued growth that allowed the Chinese government to demonstrate its leadership capabilities at a time when the U.S. was abandoning its obligations. But the ensuing credit boom was accompanied by a rise in private (mainly corporate) lending that has left China with a total debt to GDP ratio of over 250%, a level usually followed by some form of financial collapse. Chinese officials are well aware of the domestic challenge they face at the same time as their dispute with the U.S. intensifies.

Tooze demonstrates that the crisis has let loose a range of responses that continue to play out. He ends the book by pointing to a similarity of recent events and those of 1914. He raises several questions: "How does a great moderation end? How do huge risks build up that are little understood and barely controllable? How do great tectonic shifts in the global world order unload in sudden earthquakes?" Ten years after a truly global crisis, we are still seeking answers to these questions.

Previous Globie Winners:

[Oct 30, 2018] Anyone working at IBM after 1993 should have had no expectation of a lifetime career

Under neoliberlaism the idea of loyalty between a corporation and an employee makes no more sense than loyalty between a motel and its guests.
Notable quotes:
"... Any expectation of "loyalty", that two-way relationship of employee/company from an earlier time, was wishful thinking ..."
"... With all the automation going on around the world, these business leaders better worry about people not having money to buy their goods and services plus what are they going to do with the surplus of labor ..."
"... This is the nail in the coffin. As an IT manager responsible for selecting and purchasing software, I will never again recommend IBM products ..."
"... The way I saw it, every time I received a paycheck from IBM in exchange for two weeks' work, we were (almost) even. I did not owe them anything else and they did not owe me anything. The way I saw it, every time I received a paycheck from IBM in exchange for two weeks' work, we were (almost) even. I did not owe them anything else and they did not owe me anything. The idea of loyalty between a corporation and an at-will employee makes no more sense than loyalty between a motel and its guests. ..."
"... The annual unemployment rate topped 8% in 1975 and would reach nearly 10% in 1982. The economy seemed trapped in the new nightmare of stagflation," so called because it combined low economic growth and high unemployment ("stagnation") with high rates of inflation. And the prime rate hit 20% by 1980. ..."
Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org
Jeff Russell , Thursday, March 22, 2018 4:31 PM
I started at IBM 3 days out of college in 1979 and retired in 2017. I was satisfied with my choice and never felt mistreated because I had no expectation of lifetime employment, especially after the pivotal period in the 1990's when IBM almost went out of business. The company survived that period by dramatically restructuring both manufacturing costs and sales expense including the firing of tens of thousands of employees. These actions were well documented in the business news of the time, the obvious alternative was bankruptcy.

I told the authors that anyone working at IBM after 1993 should have had no expectation of a lifetime career. Downsizing, outsourcing, movement of work around the globe was already commonplace at all such international companies. Any expectation of "loyalty", that two-way relationship of employee/company from an earlier time, was wishful thinking .

I was always prepared to be sent packing, without cause, at any time and always had my resume up-to-date. I stayed because of interesting work, respectful supervisors, and adequate compensation.

The "resource action" that forced my decision to retire was no surprise, the company that hired me had been gone for decades.

DDRLSGC Jeff Russell , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
With all the automation going on around the world, these business leaders better worry about people not having money to buy their goods and services plus what are they going to do with the surplus of labor
John Kauai Jeff Russell , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
I had, more or less, the same experience at Cisco. They paid me to quit. Luckily, I was ready for it.

The article mentions IBMs 3 failures. So who was it that was responsible for not anticipating the transitions? It is hard enough doing what you already know. Perhaps companies should be spending more on figuring out "what's next" and not continually playing catch-up by dumping the older workers for the new.

MichiganRefugee , Friday, March 23, 2018 9:52 AM
I was laid off by IBM after 29 years and 4 months. I had received a division award in previous year, and my last PBC appraisal was 2+ (high performer.) The company I left was not the company I started with. Top management--starting with Gerstner--has steadily made IBM a less desirable place to work. They now treat employees as interchangeable assets and nothing more. I cannot/would not recommend IBM as an employer to any young programmer.
George Purcell , Friday, March 23, 2018 7:41 AM
Truly awesome work. I do want to add one thing, however--the entire rhetoric about "too many old white guys" that has become so common absolutely contributes to the notion that this sort of behavior is not just acceptable but in some twisted way admirable as well.
Bob Fritz , Thursday, March 22, 2018 7:35 PM
I read the article and all the comments.

Is anyone surprised that so many young people don't think capitalism is a good system any more?

I ran a high technology electronic systems company for years. We ran it "the old way." If you worked hard, and tried, we would bend over backwards to keep you. If technology or business conditions eliminated your job, we would try to train you for a new one. Our people were loyal, not like IBMers today. I honestly think that's the best way to be profitable.

People afraid of being unjustly RIFFed will always lack vitality.

petervonstackelberg , Thursday, March 22, 2018 2:00 PM
I'm glad someone is finally paying attention to age discrimination. IBM apparently is just one of many organizations that discriminate.

I'm in the middle of my own fight with the State University of New York (SUNY) over age discrimination. I was terminated by a one of the technical colleges in the SUNY System. The EEOC/New York State Division of Human Rights (NYDHR) found that "PROBABLE CAUSE (NYDHR's emphasis) exists to believe that the Respondent (Alfred State College - SUNY) has engaged in or is engaging in the unlawful discriminatory practice complained of." Investigators for NYDHR interviewed several witnesses, who testified that representatives of the college made statements such as "we need new faces", "three old men" attending a meeting, an older faculty member described as an "albatross", and "we ought to get rid of the old white guys". Witnesses said these statements were made by the Vice President of Academic Affairs and a dean at the college.

davosil , Sunday, March 25, 2018 5:00 PM
This saga at IBM is simply a microcosm of our overall economy. Older workers get ousted in favor of younger, cheaper workers; way too many jobs get outsourced; and so many workers today [young and old] can barely land a full-time job.
This is the behavior that our system incentivises (and gets away with) in this post Reagan Revolution era where deregulation is lauded and unions have been undermined & demonized. We need to seriously re-work 'work', and in order to do this we need to purge Republicans at every level, as they CLEARLY only serve corporate bottom-lines - not workers - by championing tax codes that reward outsourcing, fight a livable minimum wage, eliminate pensions, bust unions, fight pay equity for women & family leave, stack the Supreme Court with radical ideologues who blatantly rule for corporations over people all the time, etc. etc. ~35 years of basically uninterrupted Conservative economic policy & ideology has proven disastrous for workers and our quality of life. As goes your middle class, so goes your country.
ThinkingAloud , Friday, March 23, 2018 7:18 AM
The last five words are chilling... This is an award-winning piece....
RetiredIBM.manager , Thursday, March 22, 2018 7:39 PM
I am a retired IBM manager having had to execute many of these resource reduction programs.. too many.. as a matter of fact. ProPUBLICA....You nailed it!
David , Thursday, March 22, 2018 3:22 PM
IBM has always treated its customer-facing roles like Disney -- as cast members who need to match a part in a play. In the 60s and 70s, it was the white-shirt, blue-suit white men whom IBM leaders thought looked like mainframe salesmen. Now, rather than actually build a credible cloud to compete with Amazon and Microsoft, IBM changes the cast to look like cloud salespeople. (I work for Microsoft. Commenting for myself alone.)
CRAW David ,

Now IBM still treats their employees like Disney - by replacing them with H-1B workers.

MHV IBMer , Friday, March 23, 2018 10:35 PM
I am a survivor, the rare employee who has been at IBM for over 35 years. I have seen many, many layoff programs over 20 years now. I have seen tens of thousands people let go from the Hudson Valley of N.Y. Those of us who have survived, know and lived through what this article so accurately described. I currently work with 3 laid off/retired and rehired contractors. I have seen age discrimination daily for over 15 years. It is not only limited to layoffs, it is rampant throughout the company. Promotions, bonuses, transfers for opportunities, good reviews, etc... are gone if you are over 45. I have seen people under 30 given promotions to levels that many people worked 25 years for. IBM knows that these younger employees see how they treat us so they think they can buy them off. Come to think of it, I guess they actually are! They are ageist, there is no doubt, it is about time everyone knew. Excellent article.
Goldie Romero , Friday, March 23, 2018 2:31 PM
Nice article, but seriously this is old news. IBM has been at this for ...oh twenty years or more.
I don't really have a problem with it in terms of a corporation trying to make money. But I do have a problem with how IBM also likes to avoid layoffs by giving folks over 40 intentionally poor reviews, essentially trying to drive people out. Just have the guts to tell people, we don't need you anymore, bye. But to string people along as the overseas workers come in...c'mon just be honest with your workers.
High tech over 40 is not easy...I suggest folks prep for a career change before 50. Then you can have the last laugh on a company like IBM.
jblog , Friday, March 23, 2018 10:37 AM
From pages 190-191 of my novel, Ordinary Man (Amazon):

Throughout it all, layoffs became common, impacting mostly older employees with many years of service. These job cuts were dribbled out in small numbers to conceal them from the outside world, but employees could plainly see what was going on.

The laid off employees were supplanted by offshoring work to low-costs countries and hiring younger employees, often only on temporary contracts that offered low pay and no benefits – a process pejoratively referred to by veteran employees as "downsourcing." The recruitment of these younger workers was done under the guise of bringing in fresh skills, but while many of the new hires brought new abilities and vitality, they lacked the knowledge and perspective that comes with experience.

Frequently, an older more experienced worker would be asked to help educate newer employees, only to be terminated shortly after completing the task. And the new hires weren't fooled by what they witnessed and experienced at OpenSwitch, perceiving very quickly that the company had no real interest in investing in them for the long term. To the contrary, the objective was clearly to grind as much work out of them as possible, without offering any hope of increased reward or opportunity.

Most of the young recruits left after only a year or two – which, again, was part of the true agenda at the company. Senior management viewed employees not as talent, but simply as cost, and didn't want anyone sticking around long enough to move up the pay scale.

turquoisewaters , Thursday, March 22, 2018 10:19 PM
This is why you need unions.
Aaron Stackpole , Thursday, March 22, 2018 5:23 PM
This is the nail in the coffin. As an IT manager responsible for selecting and purchasing software, I will never again recommend IBM products. I love AIX and have worked with a lot if IBM products but not anymore. Good luck with the millennials though...
awb22 , Thursday, March 22, 2018 12:14 PM
The same thing has been going on at other companies, since the end of WWII. It's unethical, whether the illegality can be proven or not.

In the RTP area, where I live, I know many, many current and former employees. Times have changed, but the distinction between right and wrong hasn't.

Dave Allen , Thursday, March 22, 2018 1:07 PM
I worked for four major corporations (HP, Intel, Control Data Corporation, and Micron Semiconductor) before I was hired by IBM as a rare (at that time) experienced new hire.

Even though I ended up working for IBM for 21 years, and retired in 2013, because of my experiences at those other companies, I never considered IBM my "family."

The way I saw it, every time I received a paycheck from IBM in exchange for two weeks' work, we were (almost) even. I did not owe them anything else and they did not owe me anything. The way I saw it, every time I received a paycheck from IBM in exchange for two weeks' work, we were (almost) even. I did not owe them anything else and they did not owe me anything. The idea of loyalty between a corporation and an at-will employee makes no more sense than loyalty between a motel and its guests.

It is a business arrangement, not a love affair. Every individual needs to continually assess their skills and their value to their employer. If they are not commensurate, it is the employee's responsibility to either acquire new skills or seek a new employer.

Your employer will not hesitate to lay you off if your skills are no longer needed, or if they can hire someone who can do your job just as well for less pay. That is free enterprise, and it works for people willing to take advantage of it.

sometimestheyaresomewhatright Dave Allen , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
I basically agree. But why should it be OK for a company to fire you just to replace you with a younger you? If all that they accomplish is lowering their health care costs (which is what this is really about). If the company is paying about the same for the same work, why is firing older workers for being older OK?
Dave Allen sometimestheyaresomewhatright , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Good question. The point I was trying to make is that people need to watch out for themselves and not expect their employer to do what is "best" for the employee. I think that is true whatever age the employee happens to be.

Whether employers should be able to discriminate against (treat differently) their employees based on age, gender, race, religion, etc. is a political question. Morally, I don't think they should discriminate. Politically, I think it is a slippery slope when the government starts imposing regulations on free enterprise. Government almost always creates more problems than they fix.

DDRLSGC Dave Allen , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Sorry, but when you deregulate the free enterprise, it created more problems than it fixes and that is a fact that has been proven for the last 38 years.
Danllo DDRLSGC , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
That's just plain false. Deregulation creates competiiton. Competition for talented and skilled workers creates opportunities for those that wish to be employed and for those that wish to start new ventures. For example, when Ma Bell was regulated and had a monopoly on telecommunications there was no innovation in the telecom inudstry. However, when it was deregulated, cell phones, internet, etc exploded ... creating billionaires and millionaires while also improving the quality of life.
DDRLSGC Danllo , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
No, it happens to be true. When Reagan deregulate the economy, a lot of those corporate raiders just took over the companies, sold off the assets, and pocketed the money. What quality of life? Half of American lived near the poverty level and the wages for the workers have been stagnant for the last 38 years compared to a well-regulated economy in places like Germany and the Scandinavian countries where the workers have good wages and a far better standard of living than in the USA. Why do you think the Norwegians told Trump that they will not be immigrating to the USA anytime soon?
NotSure DDRLSGC , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
What were the economic conditions before Regan? It was a nightmare before Regan.

The annual unemployment rate topped 8% in 1975 and would reach nearly 10% in 1982. The economy seemed trapped in the new nightmare of stagflation," so called because it combined low economic growth and high unemployment ("stagnation") with high rates of inflation. And the prime rate hit 20% by 1980.
DDRLSGC NotSure , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
At least we had a manufacturing base in the USA, strong regulations of corporations, corporate scandals were far and few, businesses did not go under so quickly, prices of goods and services did not go through the roof, people had pensions and could reasonably live off them, and recessions did not last so long or go so deep until Reagan came into office. In Under Reagan, the jobs were allowed to be send overseas, unions were busted up, pensions were reduced or eliminated, wages except those of the CEOs were staganent, and the economic conditions under Bush, Senior and Bush, Jr. were no better except that Bush, Jr, was the first president to have a net minus below zero growth, so every time we get a Republican Administration, the economy really turns into a nightmare. That is a fact.

You have the Republicans in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin using Reaganomics and they are economic disaster areas.

DDRLSGC NotSure , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
You had an industrial base in the USA, lots of banks and savings and loans to choose from, lots of mom and pop stores, strong government regulation of the economy, able to live off your pensions, strong unions and employment laws along with the court system to back you up against corporate malfeasance. All that was gone when Reagan and the two Bushes came into office.
james Foster , Thursday, March 29, 2018 8:37 PM
Amazingly accurate article. The once great IBM now a dishonest and unscrupulous corporation concerned more about earnings per share than employees, customers, or social responsibility. In Global Services most likely 75% or more jobs are no longer in the US - can't believe a word coming out of Armonk.
Philip Meyer james Foster , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
I'm not sure there was ever a paradise in employment. Yeah, you can say there was more job stability 50 or 60 years ago, but that applied to a much smaller workforce than today (mostly white men). It is a drag, but there are also lot more of us old farts than there used to be and we live a lot longer in retirement as well. I don't see any magic bullet fix either.
George A , Tuesday, March 27, 2018 6:12 PM
Warning to Google/Facebook/Apple etc. All you young people will get old. It's inevitable. Do you think those companies will take care of you?
econdataus , Sunday, March 25, 2018 3:01 PM
Great article. What's especially infuriating is that the industry continues to claim that there is a shortage of STEM workers. For example, google "claim of 1.4 million computer science jobs with only 400,000 computer science graduates to fill them". If companies would openly say, "we have plenty of young STEM workers and prefer them to most older STEM workers", we could at least start addressing the problem. But they continue to promote the lie of there being a STEM shortage. They just want as big a labor pool as possible, unemployed workers be damned.
Buzz , Friday, March 23, 2018 12:00 PM
I've worked there 17 years and have worried about being layed off for about 11 of them. Moral is in the toilet. Bonuses for the rank and file are in the under 1% range while the CEO gets millions. Pay raises have been non existent or well under inflation for years. Adjusting for inflation, I make $6K less than I did my first day. My group is a handful of people as at least 1/2 have quit or retired. To support our customers, we used to have several people, now we have one or two and if someone is sick or on vacation, our support structure is to hope nothing breaks. We can't keep millennials because of pay, benefits and the expectation of being available 24/7 because we're shorthanded. As the unemployment rate drops, more leave to find a different job, leaving the old people as they are less willing to start over with pay, vacation, moving, selling a house, pulling kids from school, etc. The younger people are generally less likely to be willing to work as needed on off hours or to pull work from a busier colleague. I honestly have no idea what the plan is when the people who know what they are doing start to retire, we are way top heavy with 30-40 year guys who are on their way out, very few of the 10-20 year guys due to hiring freezes and we can't keep new people past 2-3 years. It's like our support business model is designed to fail.
OrangeGina , Friday, March 23, 2018 11:41 AM
Make no mistake. The three and four letter acronyms and other mushy corporate speak may differ from firm to firm, but this is going on in every large tech company old enough to have a large population of workers over 50. I hope others will now be exposed.
JeffMo , Friday, March 23, 2018 10:23 AM
This article hits the nail right on the head, as I come up on my 1 year anniversary from being....ahem....'retired' from 23 years at IBM....and I'll be damned if I give them the satisfaction of thinking this was like a 'death' to me. It was the greatest thing that could have ever happened. Ginny and the board should be ashamed of themselves, but they won't be.
Frankie , Friday, March 23, 2018 1:00 AM
Starting around age 40 you start to see age discrimination. I think this is largely due to economics, like increased vacation times, higher wages, but most of all the perception that older workers will run up the medical costs. You can pass all the age related discrimination laws you want, but look how ineffective that has been.

If you contrast this with the German workforce, you see that they have more older workers with the skills and younger workers without are having a difficult time getting in. So what's the difference? There are laws about how many vacation weeks that are given and there is a national medical system that everyone pays, so discrimination isn't seen in the same light.

The US is the only hold out maybe with South Africa that doesn't have a good national medical insurance program for everyone. Not only do we pay more than the rest of the world, but we also have discrimination because of it.

Rick Gundlach , Thursday, March 22, 2018 11:38 PM
This is very good, and this is IBM. I know. I was plaintiff in Gundlach v. IBM Japan, 983 F.Supp.2d 389, which involved their violating Japanese labor law when I worked in Japan. The New York federal judge purposely ignored key points of Japanese labor law, and also refused to apply Title VII and Age Discrimination in Employment to the parent company in Westchester County. It is a huge, self-described "global" company with little demonstrated loyalty to America and Americans. Pennsylvania is suing them for $170 million on a botched upgrade of the state's unemployment system.
Jeff , Thursday, March 22, 2018 2:05 PM
In early 2013 I was given a 3 PBC rating for my 2012 performance, the main reason cited by my manager being that my team lead thought I "seemed distracted". Five months later I was included in a "resource action", and was gone by July. I was 20 months shy of 55. Younger coworkers were retained. That was about two years after the product I worked on for over a decade was off-shored.

Through a fluke of someone from the old, disbanded team remembering me, I was rehired two years later - ironically in a customer support position for the very product I helped develop.

While I appreciated my years of service, previous salary, and previous benefits being reinstated, a couple years into it I realized I just wasn't cut out for the demands of the job - especially the significant 24x7 pager duty. Last June I received email describing a "Transition to Retirement" plan I was eligible for, took it, and my last day will be June 30. I still dislike the job, but that plan reclassified me as part time, thus ending pager duty for me. The job still sucks, but at least I no longer have to despair over numerous week long 24x7 stints throughout the year.

A significant disappointment occurred a couple weeks ago. I was discussing healthcare options with another person leaving the company who hadn't been resource-actioned as I had, and learned the hard way I lost over $30,000 in some sort of future medical benefit account the company had established and funded at some point. I'm not sure I was ever even aware of it. That would have funded several years of healthcare insurance during the 8 years until I'm eligible for Medicare. I wouldn't be surprised if their not having to give me that had something to do with my seeming "distracted" to them. <rolls eyes="">

What's really painful is the history of that former account can still be viewed at Fidelity, where it associates my departure date in 2013 with my having "forfeited" that money. Um, no. I did not forfeit that money, nor would I have. I had absolutely no choice in the matter. I find the use of the word 'forfeited' to describe what happened as both disingenuous and offensive. That said, I don't know whether's that's IBM's or Fidelity's terminology, though.

Herb Jeff , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Jeff, You should call Fidelity. I recently received a letter from the US Department of Labor that they discovered that IBM was "holding" funds that belonged to me that I was never told about. This might be similar or same story .

[Oct 14, 2018] Hedge Fund CIO: "Some See Parallels Between Today And The Late-1930s, Which Led To World War II" by Eric Peters

Notable quotes:
"... Virtually every investment portfolio measures risk by utilizing some combination of volatility and correlation, both of which are backward-looking and low. But the present is knowable. The past too. And the multi-decade trends that carried us to today produced levels of inequality rarely seen. ..."
"... To an observer, it's neither right nor wrong, it simply is. Some see parallels between today and the late-1930s, which led to World War II. We also see parallels with the mid-1960s, which led to The Great Inflation. ..."
Oct 14, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Submitted by Eric Peters of One River Asset Management

The future is unknowable. Yet never has capital been so concentrated in strategies that depend on the future closely resembling the past. The most dominant of these strategies requires bonds to rally when stocks fall. For decades, both rose inexorably. And a new array of increasingly complex and illiquid strategies depends on a jump in volatility to be followed by a rapid decline of equal magnitude. They appear uncorrelated until they are not.

Virtually every investment portfolio measures risk by utilizing some combination of volatility and correlation, both of which are backward-looking and low. But the present is knowable. The past too. And the multi-decade trends that carried us to today produced levels of inequality rarely seen.

Low levels of inflation, growth, productivity, and volatility are features of this cycle's increasingly unequal distribution. But cycle extremes produce pressures that reverse their direction.

On cue, an anti-establishment political wave washed away the globalists, with promises to turn the tide. Such change is nothing new, just another loop around the sun.

Now signs of a cycle swing abound; shifting trade agreements, global supply chains, military dynamics, immigration, wage pressures, polarization, nationalism, tribalism.

To an observer, it's neither right nor wrong, it simply is. Some see parallels between today and the late-1930s, which led to World War II. We also see parallels with the mid-1960s, which led to The Great Inflation.

What comes next is sure to look different still. But investment strategies that prospered from the past decade's low inflation, growth, productivity and volatility will face headwinds as this cycle turns.

Those strategies that suffered should enjoy tailwinds. That's how cycles work . And we know the 1940s was a strong decade for Trend performance. The 1970s was the best decade for Trend in 150yrs. And following cycle turns in both the 1930s and 1960s, the world became a profoundly volatile place.

* * *

And, as a bonus, here are three observations from Peters on what he calls " Groundhog Day"

"Starting in the mid-1960s several significant policy changes, made in the context of a belief that inflation wasn't a concern, all but caused the outcome that was considered impossible," wrote Lindsay Politi in her latest thought piece. "The first proximate catalyst to the great inflation was the Tax Reduction Act of 1964. At the time, it was the largest tax cut in American history. The Act slashed income taxes, especially on higher income households, by reducing income taxes by 20% across the board in addition to reducing corporate rates . The expectation was that the tax cut would ultimately increase total tax revenue by lowering unemployment, increasing consumption, and increasing the incentive for companies to invest and modernize their capital stock. The tax cut did increase growth, but it also pushed unemployment very low, to one of the only sustained periods of unemployment below 4% in the post war period."

"The 2nd policy change was how employment was considered," continued Lindsay. "In the mid-1960s, there was concern about a cultural divide. The US social critic Michael Harrington spoke about "The Other America": the unskilled Americans in mostly rural areas who had a "culture of poverty" and were being left behind by the post war economic boom of the 1950s. In that context the drop in the unemployment rate after the tax cut was welcome. The belief was that pushing the unemployment rate to very low levels would help transfer wealth from the prosperous urban and suburban areas to "The Other America." They thought that, while very low unemployment might increase inflation, the increase would only be modest, and the social benefits of modestly higher inflation and lower unemployment were desirable. At the time, there wasn't a uniform theory for the relationship between inflation and unemployment, so when inflation started to increase with very low unemployment rates it wasn't a concern."

"A 3rd proximate cause of The Great Inflation was the failure to appreciate a significant, structural productivity decline. Capital deepening for WWII and the Korean War had boosted productivity. However, much lower peacetime capital spending had caused productivity growth to slow. Despite the relative lack of capital spending, productivity declines were generally dismissed . It became clear at the end of the 1960s into the early 1970s that inflation has a self-reinforcing trend. Stability in inflation can reinforce stability, but acceleration also reinforces acceleration. As inflation increases, all else equal, it lowers real interest rates which stimulates growth, creating higher inflation. It 's part of why anchored inflation expectations are so critical to inflation staying low, but also why expectations of higher inflation can be hard to fight."

For the full thought piece: Lessons from the Origins of The Great Inflation for Today – What the mid-1960s Can Teach Us About Trading Current Markets


Paracelsus , 13 minutes ago link

Most people forget that Hitler was elected to power, and then proceeded to make himself a dictator.

Germany escaped much of the 1929 crash effects, but in 1932 a Rothschild bank in Austria failed (Kredit-Anstalt) after being forced to absorb two smaller banks which were insolvent.

Along with the failure of two other German banks around that time period, hyper-inflation of the currency returned to German society. Savers saw their life savings disappear overnight.

During the elections, the Nazi's gained enough seats that they rose to power. Hitler promised to stabilize the currency,reduce unemployment, and stop the running gun battles in the street.He achieved all of these goals. Hitler was a liar and worse, a micro-manager. But so was Churchill, who would keep his staff up until the early hours of the morning on a regular basis.

To avoid the hardship of not having substantial hard currency reserves, Germany engaged in a great deal of barter trade in the late thirties. Because this sidelined the banks, they objected to this economic activity, which desperate countries have used for thousands of years.

Archive_file , 9 minutes ago link

Hitler also rose to power because liberals were discredit and offered nothing but rhetoric.

Davidduke2000 , 28 minutes ago link

the difference is WWIII will finish in few hours with the US-UK completely wiped off the map as well as part of China and Russia.

DocMims , 56 minutes ago link

Tariffs will cause the sky to fall and the oceans to burn.

There. Fixed it for you.

Get back to building child sweat shops and loansharking the 3rd world.

johngaltfla , 58 minutes ago link

One word:

Facepalm.

Enderjedi , 1 hour ago link

Wasn't there another recent globalist agenda article today about parallels between tariffs and the onset of the great depression?

ardent , 1 hour ago link

America will undergo KARMA for perpetuating

the Greatest Injustice of the 20th Century.

markmotive , 1 hour ago link

Unlike WWII we now have nuclear weapons.

https://www.risktopia.com/2018/10/the-nuclear-war-movie-all-should-watch.html

mabuhay1 , 1 hour ago link

The current tariffs are not the same as the ones that brought about the Great Depression, nor were tariffs the cause of World War 2. Your analogies are false and misleading to the extreme.

Handful of Dust , 1 hour ago link

Lots of writers are trying to make Trump look bad. Where were they during the real second depression under Bush and Soweeto bin Bama?

The writer sounds like the wookie, Mooshell Obama and her "feeling of hopelessness" over the Trump election.

I personally have not seen small businessmen so happy after years of Obama's Reign of Terror.

Davidduke2000 , 22 minutes ago link

I want the republicans and trump to stay in power however all his tariffs and sanctions are harming the us more than yo think. of course it takes a couple of years to realize the damage , but the deficit is easy to realize this years it will be over $1.3 trillion next year $ 1.5 trillion in addition to the $22 trillion obama left, in other words you are fucked.

romanmoment , 1 hour ago link

Everyone sees parallels to WW2....and WW1....and the American Civil War....and the Russian Revolution....and The Thirty Years War.....and.....and....and.....

A bunch of broken clocks. One thing I know for sure, nobody knows a ******* thing and there will definitely be another very nasty world war.

Fiscal.Enema , 1 hour ago link

Well, Nuclear winter is one way to solve global warming. It deals with the population crisis too.

JimmyJones , 1 hour ago link

I read "Tragedy and Hope" (great read, highly recommend it) it goes into great detail on the players throughout history, from what's in there I would say it's way more like pre-WW1 then 2.

[Sep 19, 2018] The Minsky Moment Ten Years After by Barkley Rosser

Notable quotes:
"... My take on Minsky moment is that banking introduces positive feedback loop into the system, making it (as any dynamic system with strong positive feedback loop) unstable. ..."
"... To compensate you need to introduce negative feedback loop in a form of regulation and legal system that vigorously prosecute financial oligarchy "transgressions," instilling fear and damping its predatory behavior and parasitic rents instincts. In a way number of bankers who go to jail each year is metric of stability of the system. Which was a feature (subverted and inconsistent from the beginning and decimated in 70th) of New Deal Capitalism. ..."
Sep 18, 2018 | angrybearblog.com

These days are the tenth anniversary of the biggest Minsky Moment since the Great Depression. While when it happened most commentators mentioned Minsky and many even called it a "Minsky Moment," most of the commentary now does not use that term and much does not even mention Minsky, much less Charles Kindleberger or Keynes. Rather much of the discussion has focused now on the failure of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2017. A new book by Lawrence Ball has argued that the Fed could have bailed LB out as they did with Bear Stearns in February of that year, with Ball at least, and some others, suggesting that would have resolved everything, no big crash, no Great Recession, no angry populist movement more recently, heck, all hunky dory if only the Fed had been more responsible, although Ball especially points his finger at Bush's Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, for especially pressuring Bernanke and Geithner at the Fed not to repeat Bear Stearns. And indeed when they decided not to support Lehman, the Fed received widespread praise in much of the media initially, before its fall blew out AIG and brought down most of the pyramid of highly leveraged derivatives of derivatives coming out of the US mortgage market ,which had been declining for over two years.

Indeed, I agree with Dean Baker as I have on so many times regarding all this that while Lehman may have been the straw that broke the camel's back, it was the camel's back breaking that was the problem, and it was almost certainly going to blow big time reasonably soon then. It it was not Lehman, it was going to be something else. Indeed, on July 12, 2008, I posted here on Econospeak a forecast of this, declaring "It looks like we might be finally reaching the big crash in the US mortgage market after a period of distress that started last August (if not earlier)."

I drew on Minsky's argument (backed by Kindleberger in his Manias, Panics, and Crashes ) that the vast majority of major speculative bubbles experience periods of gradual decline after their peaks prior to really seriously crashing during what Minsky labeled the "period of financial distress," a term he adopted from the corporate finance literature. The US housing market had been falling since July, 2006. The bond markets had been declining since August, 2007, the stock market had been declining since October, 2007, and about the time I posted that, the oil market reached an all-time nominal peak of $147 per barrel and began a straight plunge that reached about $30 per barrel in November, 2008. This was a massively accelerating period of distress with the real economy also dropping, led by falling residential consumption. In mid-September the Minsky Moment arrived, and the floor dropped out of not just these US markets, but pretty much all markets around the world, with world economy then falling into the Great Recession.

Let me note something I have seen nobody commenting on in all this outpouring on this anniversary. This is how the immediate Minsky Moment ended. Many might say it was the TARP or the stress tests or the fiscal stimulus, All of these helped to turn around the broader slide that followed by the Minsky Moment. But there was a more immediate crisis that went on for several days following the Lehman collapse, peaking on Sept. 17 and 18, but with obscure reporting about what went down then. This was when nobody at the Board of Governors went home; cots made an appearance. This was the point when those at the Fed scrambled to keep the whole thing from turning into 1931 and largely succeeded. The immediate problem was that the collapse of AIG following the collapse of Lehman was putting massive pressure on top European banks, especially Deutsches Bank and BNP Paribas. Supposedly the European Central Bank (ECB) should have been able to handle this But along with all this the ECB was facing a massive run on the euro as money fled to the "safe haven" of the US dollar, so ironic given that the US markets generated this mess.

Anyway, as Neil Irwinin The Alchemists (especially Chap. 11) documented, the crucial move that halted the collapse of the euro and the threat of a fullout global collapse was a set of swaps the Fed pulled off that led to it taking about $600 billion of Eurojunk from the distressed European banks through the ECB onto the Fed balance sheet. These troubled assets were gradually and very quietly rolled off the Fed balance sheet over the next six months to be replaced by mortgage backed securities. This was the save the Fed pulled off at the worst moment of the Minsky Moment. The Fed policymakers can be criticized for not seeing what was coming (although several people there had spotted it earlier and issued warnings, including Janet Yellen in 2005 and Geithner in a prescient speech in Hong Kong in September, 2006, in which he recognized that the housing related financial markets were highly opaque and fragile). But this particular move was an absolute save, even though it remains today very little known, even to well-informed observers.

Barkley Rosser


run75441 , September 18, 2018 7:07 am

Barkley:

A few days ago, it was just a housing bubble to which a few of us pointed out an abnormal housing bubble created by fraud and greed on Wall Street. The market was riddled with false promises to pay through CDS, countering naked-CDS both of which had little if any reserves in this case to back up each AIG CDS insuring Goldman Sachs securities. When Goldman Sachs made that call to AIG, there were few funds to pay out and AIG was on the verge of collapse.

And today, some of those very same created banks under TARP which were gambling then and some of which had legal issues are free from the stress testing Dodd – Frank imposed upon banks with assets greater than $50 billion. Did the new limit need to be $250 billion? Volcker thought $100 billion was adequate and Frank argued for a slightly higher limit well under $250 billion. The fox is in the chicken coop again with Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, UBS, and Credit Suisse not being regulated as closely and 25 of the largest 38 banks under less regulation. These are not community banks and they helped to bring us to our knees. Is it still necessary for American Express to be a bank and have access to low interest rates the Fed offers? I think not; but, others may disagree with me. It is not a bank.

You remember the miracle the Fed pulled off as detailed in The Alchemists which I also read at your recommendation. I remember the fraud and greed on Wall Street for which Main Street paid for with lost equity, jobs, etc. I remember the anger of Wall Street Execs who were denied bonuses and states who had exhausted unemployment funding denying workers unemployment. We were rescued from a worse fate; but, the memory of the cure the nation's citizenry had to take for Wall Street greed and fraud leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

EMichael , September 18, 2018 8:39 am

This never ending meme about Tarp saving the banks is really starting to aggravate me. The Fed saved the banking system(on both sides of the Atlantic) before Tarp issued one dollar, and they did so with trillions, not billions, of loans and guarantees that stopped the run on the banks and mutual funds on both sides of the Atlantic.

Just look at the amounts. Tarp gave out $250 billion to the banks. Do people seriously think this saved the banking system? Or that Wells goes under without their $25 billion loan?

Tarp was window dressing and pr, not a solution by any stretch of the imagination.

"Bloomberg ran quite a story, yesterday. It stems from a Freedom of Information Act Request that yielded the details of previously secret borrowing from the federal government to the biggest banks.

The bottom line, reports Bloomberg, by March of 2009, the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion "to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year." The lending began in August of 2007.

The reporting from Bloomberg Markets Magazine is spectacular, so we hope you click over and give the exhaustive piece a read."

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2011/11/28/142854391/report-fed-committed-7-77-trillion-to-rescue-banks

run75441 , September 18, 2018 11:57 am

EM:

If you pick up The Alchemist, I believe you will see all of this ($7 trillion) explained in there. TARP was used to buy up junk MBS from banks by the Treasury and separate from the FED. It was also used to buy up bank stock to give them reserves. It saved two of the three OEMs too.

Ken Houghton , September 18, 2018 11:52 am

The general U.S. mortgage market died on Hallwe'en 2006. By the first quarter of 2007, it was dead even for IBs who owned originators.

There were two IBs who were dependent on MBS for their profits: Bear and Lehmann. Doesn't mean they didn't have other businesses, but their earnings would go from a V-8 to a 3-cylinder.

Bear went first, and ShitforBrains Fuld & Co. had six months after that to shore up capital, find a buyer, or go under.

We all knew that the reason Bear was saved wasn't out of generosity, but because it really would have had a systemic effect had it gone through bankruptcy proceedings. But THAT was because Bear had two core businesses, and the other one was Custodial Services.

Had Bear gone through bankruptcy, those Customer funds would have been inaccessible for at least 30 days.

Lehmann had no similar function; failure of Lehmann was failure of Lehmann.

Fuld knew all of this and still fucked around for six months pretending he was driving a 911 instead of a Geo Metro.

Lawrence Ball is a brain-dead idiot if he thinks saving that firm would have in any way made things better.

likbez , September 18, 2018 12:41 pm

My take on Minsky moment is that banking introduces positive feedback loop into the system, making it (as any dynamic system with strong positive feedback loop) unstable.

To compensate you need to introduce negative feedback loop in a form of regulation and legal system that vigorously prosecute financial oligarchy "transgressions," instilling fear and damping its predatory behavior and parasitic rents instincts. In a way number of bankers who go to jail each year is metric of stability of the system. Which was a feature (subverted and inconsistent from the beginning and decimated in 70th) of New Deal Capitalism.

As neoliberalism is essentially revenge of financial oligarchy which became the ruling class again, this positive feedback loop is an immanent feature of neoliberalism.

Financial oligarchy is not interesting in regulation and legal framework that suppresses its predatory and parasitic "instincts." So this is by definition is an unstable system prone to periodic financial "collapses." In which the government needs to step in and save the system.

So the question about the 2008 financial crisis is when the next one commences and how destructive it will be. Not why it happened.

likbez , September 18, 2018 12:47 pm

In a perverse way the percentage of financial executives who go to jail each year might be viewed as a metric of stability of the financial system ;-)

[Sep 18, 2018] The Minsky Moment Ten Years After

Sep 18, 2018 | angrybearblog.com

Barkley Rosser | September 18, 2018 6:01 am

Taxes/regulation US/Global Economics The Minsky Moment Ten Years After These days are the tenth anniversary of the biggest Minsky Moment since the Great Depression. While when it happened most commentators mentioned Minsky and many even called it a "Minsky Moment," most of the commentary now does not use that term and much does not even mention Minsky, much less Charles Kindleberger or Keynes. Rather much of the discussion has focused now on the failure of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2017. A new book by Lawrence Ball has argued that the Fed could have bailed LB out as they did with Bear Stearns in February of that year, with Ball at least, and some others, suggesting that would have resolved everything, no big crash, no Great Recession, no angry populist movement more recently, heck, all hunky dory if only the Fed had been more responsible, although Ball especially points his finger at Bush's Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, for especially pressuring Bernanke and Geithner at the Fed not to repeat Bear Stearns. And indeed when they decided not to support Lehman, the Fed received widespread praise in much of the media initially, before its fall blew out AIG and brought down most of the pyramid of highly leveraged derivatives of derivatives coming out of the US mortgage market ,which had been declining for over two years.

Indeed, I agree with Dean Baker as I have on so many times regarding all this that while Lehman may have been the straw that broke the camel's back, it was the camel's back breaking that was the problem, and it was almost certainly going to blow big time reasonably soon then. It it was not Lehman, it was going to be something else. Indeed, on July 12, 2008, I posted here on Econospeak a forecast of this, declaring "It looks like we might be finally reaching the big crash in the US mortgage market after a period of distress that started last August (if not earlier)."

I drew on Minsky's argument (backed by Kindleberger in his Manias, Panics, and Crashes ) that the vast majority of major speculative bubbles experience periods of gradual decline after their peaks prior to really seriously crashing during what Minsky labeled the "period of financial distress," a term he adopted from the corporate finance literature. The US housing market had been falling since July, 2006. The bond markets had been declining since August, 2007, the stock market had been declining since October, 2007, and about the time I posted that, the oil market reached an all-time nominal peak of $147 per barrel and began a straight plunge that reached about $30 per barrel in November, 2008. This was a massively accelerating period of distress with the real economy also dropping, led by falling residential consumption. In mid-September the Minsky Moment arrived, and the floor dropped out of not just these US markets, but pretty much all markets around the world, with world economy then falling into the Great Recession.

Let me note something I have seen nobody commenting on in all this outpouring on this anniversary. This is how the immediate Minsky Moment ended. Many might say it was the TARP or the stress tests or the fiscal stimulus, All of these helped to turn around the broader slide that followed by the Minsky Moment. But there was a more immediate crisis that went on for several days following the Lehman collapse, peaking on Sept. 17 and 18, but with obscure reporting about what went down then. This was when nobody at the Board of Governors went home; cots made an appearance. This was the point when those at the Fed scrambled to keep the whole thing from turning into 1931 and largely succeeded. The immediate problem was that the collapse of AIG following the collapse of Lehman was putting massive pressure on top European banks, especially Deutsches Bank and BNP Paribas. Supposedly the European Central Bank (ECB) should have been able to handle this But along with all this the ECB was facing a massive run on the euro as money fled to the "safe haven" of the US dollar, so ironic given that the US markets generated this mess.

Anyway, as Neil Irwinin The Alchemists (especially Chap. 11) documented, the crucial move that halted the collapse of the euro and the threat of a fullout global collapse was a set of swaps the Fed pulled off that led to it taking about $600 billion of Eurojunk from the distressed European banks through the ECB onto the Fed balance sheet. These troubled assets were gradually and very quietly rolled off the Fed balance sheet over the next six months to be replaced by mortgage backed securities. This was the save the Fed pulled off at the worst moment of the Minsky Moment. The Fed policymakers can be criticized for not seeing what was coming (although several people there had spotted it earlier and issued warnings, including Janet Yellen in 2005 and Geithner in a prescient speech in Hong Kong in September, 2006, in which he recognized that the housing related financial markets were highly opaque and fragile). But this particular move was an absolute save, even though it remains today very little known, even to well-informed observers.

Barkley Rosser


run75441 , September 18, 2018 7:07 am

Barkley:

A few days ago, it was just a housing bubble to which a few of us pointed out an abnormal housing bubble created by fraud and greed on Wall Street. The market was riddled with false promises to pay through CDS, countering naked-CDS both of which had little if any reserves in this case to back up each AIG CDS insuring Goldman Sachs securities. When Goldman Sachs made that call to AIG, there were few funds to pay out and AIG was on the verge of collapse.

And today, some of those very same created banks under TARP which were gambling then and some of which had legal issues are free from the stress testing Dodd – Frank imposed upon banks with assets greater than $50 billion. Did the new limit need to be $250 billion? Volcker thought $100 billion was adequate and Frank argued for a slightly higher limit well under $250 billion. The fox is in the chicken coop again with Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, UBS, and Credit Suisse not being regulated as closely and 25 of the largest 38 banks under less regulation. These are not community banks and they helped to bring us to our knees. Is it still necessary for American Express to be a bank and have access to low interest rates the Fed offers? I think not; but, others may disagree with me. It is not a bank.

You remember the miracle the Fed pulled off as detailed in The Alchemists which I also read at your recommendation. I remember the fraud and greed on Wall Street for which Main Street paid for with lost equity, jobs, etc. I remember the anger of Wall Street Execs who were denied bonuses and states who had exhausted unemployment funding denying workers unemployment. We were rescued from a worse fate; but, the memory of the cure the nation's citizenry had to take for Wall Street greed and fraud leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

EMichael , September 18, 2018 8:39 am

This never ending meme about Tarp saving the banks is really starting to aggravate me. The Fed saved the banking system(on both sides of the Atlantic) before Tarp issued one dollar, and they did so with trillions, not billions, of loans and guarantees that stopped the run on the banks and mutual funds on both sides of the Atlantic.

Just look at the amounts. Tarp gave out $250 billion to the banks. Do people seriously think this saved the banking system? Or that Wells goes under without their $25 billion loan?

Tarp was window dressing and pr, not a solution by any stretch of the imagination.

"Bloomberg ran quite a story, yesterday. It stems from a Freedom of Information Act Request that yielded the details of previously secret borrowing from the federal government to the biggest banks.

The bottom line, reports Bloomberg, by March of 2009, the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion "to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year." The lending began in August of 2007.

The reporting from Bloomberg Markets Magazine is spectacular, so we hope you click over and give the exhaustive piece a read."

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2011/11/28/142854391/report-fed-committed-7-77-trillion-to-rescue-banks

run75441 , September 18, 2018 11:57 am

EM:

If you pick up The Alchemist, I believe you will see all of this ($7 trillion) explained in there. TARP was used to buy up junk MBS from banks by the Treasury and separate from the FED. It was also used to buy up bank stock to give them reserves. It saved two of the three OEMs too.

Ken Houghton , September 18, 2018 11:52 am

The general U.S. mortgage market died on Hallwe'en 2006. By the first quarter of 2007, it was dead even for IBs who owned originators.

There were two IBs who were dependent on MBS for their profits: Bear and Lehmann. Doesn't mean they didn't have other businesses, but their earnings would go from a V-8 to a 3-cylinder.

Bear went first, and ShitforBrains Fuld & Co. had six months after that to shore up capital, find a buyer, or go under.

We all knew that the reason Bear was saved wasn't out of generosity, but because it really would have had a systemic effect had it gone through bankruptcy proceedings. But THAT was because Bear had two core businesses, and the other one was Custodial Services.

Had Bear gone through bankruptcy, those Customer funds would have been inaccessible for at least 30 days.

Lehmann had no similar function; failure of Lehmann was failure of Lehmann.

Fuld knew all of this and still fucked around for six months pretending he was driving a 911 instead of a Geo Metro.

Lawrence Ball is a brain-dead idiot if he thinks saving that firm would have in any way made things better.

likbez , September 18, 2018 12:41 pm

My take on Minsky moment is that banking introduces positive feedback loop into the system, making it (as any dynamic system with strong positive feedback loop) unstable.

To compensate you need to introduce negative feedback loop in a form of regulation and legal system that vigorously prosecute financial oligarchy "transgressions," instilling fear and damping its predatory behavior and parasitic rents instincts. In a way number of bankers who go to jail each year is metric of stability of the system. Which was a feature (subverted and inconsistent from the beginning and decimated in 70th) of New Deal Capitalism.

As neoliberalism is essentially revenge of financial oligarchy which became the ruling class again, this positive feedback loop is an immanent feature of neoliberalism.

Financial oligarchy is not interesting in regulation and legal framework that suppresses its predatory and parasitic "instincts." So this is by definition is an unstable system prone to periodic financial "collapses." In which the government needs to step in and save the system.

So the question about the 2008 financial crisis is when the next one commences and how destructive it will be. Not why it happened.

likbez , September 18, 2018 12:47 pm

In a perverse way the percentage of financial executives who go to jail each year might be viewed as a metric of stability of the financial system ;-)

[Sep 15, 2018] Ten Misconceptions About Financial Crisis on 10-Year Anniversary

Sep 15, 2018 | www.bloomberg.com

One of the most intriguing aspects of the 2007-09 financial crisis is how little understanding there is of what actually occurred. Some of this has to do with the complexities of the event, as well as how hard it is to identify forces lurking below the surface that had built up over the years.

Even a decade later, many people still cling to false ideas about the underlying causes (there wasn't just one, folks!) of the crisis. What follows are my 10 favorite flawed memes, misunderstandings and just outright falsehoods about the financial crisis and its aftermath:

No. 1. Lehman's collapse caused the crisis : "If only we had saved Lehman Brothers, we could have avoided the crisis," goes a popular lament. This reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the scale of the dislocations. To accept this premise -- former Lehman employees are some of the loudest apostles of this theory -- then one has to pretend an entire universe of other issues didn't exist.

Lehman, like Bear Stearns before it, suffered from many of the same issues that afflicted most of the U.S.'s other big banks and brokers: too much junk paper, too much leverage, too little capital and deficient risk controls. Lehman was simply among the most overleveraged and undercapitalized of the lot.

No. 2. If not for X, we would have been OK: Take your pick of things to insert here, but it's important to understand that this was not a single event , but rather the result of many factors that came together over time. These include: the Federal Reserve's ultralow interest rates, a fundamentally weak recovery from the dot-com collapse, the housing boom and bust, huge amounts of financial leverage, securitization of mortgages, the embrace of derivatives and reckless deregulation of the financial industry that enabled much of the above, and more. I depicted these elements via this graphic in " Bailout Nation ."

No. 3. Repeal of Glass-Steagall : The argument is that in the decades after Glass-Steagall was enacted during the Great Depression, Wall Street crises were confined to Wall Street and didn't spill onto Main Street. See as examples the 1987 stock-market crash or the Mexican peso crisis of 1994. But the causative issue we run into to is the but-for test. Would we have had a crisis if Glass-Steagall were still in place? I don't see how we can make that claim. Perhaps had Glass-Steagall not been repealed, the crisis might have been smaller, but it is very hard to say it wouldn't have occurred anyway.

No. 4. Bailouts were the only option : There were many other options, but they would have been very painful and required considerable foresight. I believed then (and still believe) that the best course of action would have been prepackaged bankruptcies for all the insolvent institutions instead of bailouts. I would have had the federal government provide debtor-in-possession financing, allowed qualified private institutional investors to bid on the assets thereby letting markets set the valuations, with the government picking up the rest. It would have been more difficult in the short term, but the economy would have rebounded much sooner.

No. 5. Taxpayers were repaid in full and even made a profit : There are two major issues with this claim: The first is that the Troubled Asset Relief Program and most other loans and bailouts were all (or almost all) repaid. But to make that happen, the federal government in a move questioned by tax experts allowed failed American International Group to carry forward the net operating losses for use to offset future earnings; this was a stealth bailout worth tens of billions of dollars that didn't appear to "cost" anything. Meanwhile the Federal Reserve kept rates at zero for almost a decade. This resulted in a huge transfer from savers to bailed-out lenders.

The federal government also took a huge amount of risk during a period when financial markets tripled. And that is before we account for all of the collateral losses and moral hazards we created.

https://cdn.iframe.ly/le122fY?app=1

No. 6. No one went to jail because stupidity isn't a crime : This one is laugher, from the behavior of the executives at Lehman Brothers to all of the foreclosure fraud that took place. Jesse Eisinger, author of " The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives ," explained how the white-collar defense bar successfully lobbied and undercut the Department of Justice during the years before the crisis. You can't convict a criminal if you don't have the personnel, intellectual firepower or stomach to prosecute in the first place.

No. 7. Borrowers were as blameworthy as lenders : First, we know that for huge swaths of the banking industry, the basis for lending changed in the run-up to the crisis. For most of financial history, credit was granted based on the borrower's ability to repay . In the years before the crisis, the incentive to lend shifted: It was based not on the likelihood of repayment but on whether a loan could be sold to someone else, often a securities firm, which would repackage the loan with other loans to create a mortgage-backed security. Selling 30-year mortgages with a 90-day warranty changes the calculus for who qualifies: just find a warm body that will make the first three payments; after that it's someone else's problem.

Second, we know that if you offer people free money, they will take it. This is among the reasons we have banking regulations in the first place. We expect the banking professionals to understand risk better than the unwashed masses.

No. 8. Poor people caused the crisis : This is another intellectually dishonest claim. If any U.S. legislation such as the Community Reinvestment Act was the actual cause of the crisis, then the boom and bust wouldn't have been global. Second, if poor people and these policies were the cause, then the crisis would have been centered in South Philadelphia; Harlem, New York; Oakland, California; and Atlanta instead of the burgeoning suburbs of Las Vegas, Southern California, Florida and Arizona. The folks making this argument seem to have questionable motivations.

No. 9. The Fed made a mistake by stepping in when Congress refused: Congress is the governmental entity that should have done more in response to the crisis. But it didn't, and all of those members who opposed efforts to repair the economy and financial system should have been thrown out of office. The Fed gave cover to Congress, creating congressional moral hazard and allowing it to shirk its responsibilities . We don't know how the world would have looked if that hadn't happened, but I imagine it would be significantly different than it does today -- and not necessarily better.

No. 10. Lehman could have been saved : This is perhaps the most delusional of all the claims. Lehman was insolvent . We know this from an accounting sleight-of-hand it performed called Repo 105, in which it which "sold" $50 billion in holdings to an entity it owned, booked a profit just before quarterly earnings, then repurchased the holdings. The sleuthing done by hedge-fund manager David Einhorn reached the same conclusion about Lehman's solvency long before the collapse ; the Fed itself also made clear that it couldn't take on Lehman's losses.

When people stubbornly refuse to acknowledge facts, when they insist on staying married to their own faulty belief system, it becomes very challenging to respond with sound policies. As a society, the sooner we reckon with reality, the sooner we can begin to avoid disasters like the financial crisis.

[Aug 22, 2018] The US financial sector has manifestly failed at allocating capital properly and is filled with rent seeking by Anatoly Karlin

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Since the 80s, the stock market capitalization to GDP ratio has been much higher than the historical norm, higher than when the US had higher rates of growth. ..."
"... In financialized economies with inflated asset prices, people have low savings and can't even afford to buy real estate or can only afford it by taking on lots of debt and having to depend on further price inflation so that they don't go underwater. In countries with financial repression, public debt tends to be low and interest rates tend to be low and capital gets directed towards industry ..."
"... Well like I said earlier, this is a matter of one's values and views on political economy. If one prefers asset price inflation and a capital structure of heavily indebted households and young adults, then there's nothing wrong and everything is rosy. ..."
"... Household income overall, not just wages, has stagnated. ..."
Aug 22, 2018 | www.unz.com
Thorfinnsson , says: May 31, 2018 at 8:44 pm GMT
@Anonymous

... ... ...

"Paper pusher" is an irrational criticism of the finance sector. Allocating capital is a very important job.

Anonymous , [400] Disclaimer says: May 31, 2018 at 9:35 pm GMT
@Thorfinnsson

No doubt there are fanboys among asset managers.

Whether it's an irrational criticism or not depends on one's values and views on political economy. To some, the financial sector has manifestly failed at allocating capital properly and is filled with rent seeking. Others will point to its size and the capitalization of financial markets as evidence of its value and importance.

Thorfinnsson , says: May 31, 2018 at 10:12 pm GMT
@Anonymous

What's the evidence that it has failed at allocating capital successfully? No shortage of rent-seeking of course. But if there's one thing I've learned it's that bagholders are gonna bag. This isn't some hypothetical either, look at countries without sophisticated financial markets. People are forced to save by speculating in real estate, and credit is often not available to business unless the state makes it available (perfectly reasonable in such economies to be fair).

Anonymous , [400] Disclaimer says: June 1, 2018 at 3:02 am GMT
@Thorfinnsson

Since the 80s, the stock market capitalization to GDP ratio has been much higher than the historical norm, higher than when the US had higher rates of growth.

There have been several bubbles, and consumer debt has risen significantly while income has stagnated and startup formation is at a 40 year low. Capital allocation has been very unproductive. It's caused lots of asset price inflation and increased debt without producing new assets and income streams. Capital allocation is highly centralized and it has the same problems communist economies have with central planning where capital is centralized in the state. A lot of unproductive activity and rent seeking.

In financialized economies with inflated asset prices, people have low savings and can't even afford to buy real estate or can only afford it by taking on lots of debt and having to depend on further price inflation so that they don't go underwater. In countries with financial repression, public debt tends to be low and interest rates tend to be low and capital gets directed towards industry.

Thorfinnsson , says: June 1, 2018 at 4:04 am GMT
@Anonymous

Real Soon Now.

Since the 80s, the stock market capitalization to GDP ratio has been much higher than the historical norm, higher than when the US had higher rates of growth.

Stock prices were unusually low in the 1970s, as epitomized by BusinessWeek's famous 1979 The Death of Equities cover. In addition to reversion to the mean, several other factors made stocks more valuable since that time.

The collapse of inflation and interest rates increased the net present value of stocks, the rise of emerging markets with poor domestic capital markets increased foreign demand for stocks, America's persistent trade deficit further increased foreign demand for American assets, and the low-cost trading and 401k revolutions.

... ... ...

Anonymous , [400] Disclaimer says: June 1, 2018 at 5:26 am GMT
@Thorfinnsson

Well like I said earlier, this is a matter of one's values and views on political economy. If one prefers asset price inflation and a capital structure of heavily indebted households and young adults, then there's nothing wrong and everything is rosy.

Household income overall, not just wages, has stagnated.

Startup formation is still at a 40 year low, despite all the noise about venture capital and Silicon Valley.

ROC and ROE are based on corporate income, which are at historical highs.

The rest of your comment is just econ 101 and biz school corp finance and accounting 101 hand waving to justify the status quo.

Your whole argument in the original post is that Tesla and SpaceX could not get the capital that they have without Musk committing fraud and violating a bunch of laws. In other words, two new industrial firms with tremendous brand value and advancing decades ahead of the competition ( https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2018/05/every-3-5-years-spacex-is-adding-a-decade-lead-on-competitors.html ) could not have been capitalized otherwise.

[Aug 07, 2018] Ministry of Plenty

Aug 07, 2018 | en.wikipedia.org

The Ministry of Plenty ( Newspeak : Miniplenty ) is in control of Oceania's planned economy . It oversees rationing of food , supplies , and goods . As told in Goldstein's book, the economy of Oceania is very important, and it's necessary to have the public continually create useless and synthetic supplies or weapons for use in the war, while they have no access to the means of production . This is the central theme of Oceania's idea that a poor, ignorant populace is easier to rule over than a wealthy, well-informed one. Telescreens often make reports on how Big Brother has been able to increase economic production, even when production has actually gone down (see § Ministry of Truth ).

The Ministry hands out statistics which are "nonsense". When Winston is adjusting some Ministry of Plenty's figures, he explains this:

But actually, he thought as he readjusted the Ministry of Plenty's figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connection with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connection that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great deal of time you were expected to make them up out of your head.

Like the other ministries, the Ministry of Plenty seems to be entirely misnamed, since it is, in fact, responsible for maintaining a state of perpetual poverty , scarcity and financial shortages. However, the name is also apt, because, along with the Ministry of Truth, the Ministry of Plenty's other purpose is to convince the populace that they are living in a state of perpetual prosperity. Orwell made a similar reference to the Ministry of Plenty in his allegorical work Animal Farm when, in the midst of a blight upon the farm, Napoleon the pig orders the silo to be filled with sand, then to place a thin sprinkling of grain on top, which fools human visitors into being dazzled about Napoleon's boasting of the farm's superior economy.

A department of the Ministry of Plenty is charged with organizing state lotteries . These are very popular among the proles, who buy tickets and hope to win the big prizes – a completely vain hope as the big prizes are in fact not awarded at all, the Ministry of Truth participating in the scam and publishing every week the names of non-existent big winners.

In the Michael Radford film adaptation , the ministry is renamed the Ministry of Production, or MiniProd.

[Aug 07, 2018] Bill Black Pre-Crisis 4506-T Studies Showed Massive Fraud in Liar's Loans; Fed Ignored Warning, DoJ Refused to Target Implic

Notable quotes:
"... By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One, an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and co-founder of Bank Whistleblowers United. Jointly published with New Economic Perspectives ..."
"... New Economic Perspectives ..."
"... The Pentagon Wars ..."
"... The Generals ..."
"... The Chickenshit Club ..."
Aug 07, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Bill Black: Pre-Crisis "4506-T Studies" Showed Massive Fraud in Liar's Loans; Fed Ignored Warning, DoJ Refused to Target Implicated Banksters Posted on August 7, 2018 by Yves Smith Yves here. With the tsunami of "ten years after the crisis" stories that are already starting to hit the beach, I am endeavoring to focus on ones that contain new or significantly under-reported information or give particularly insightful overviews. Here Black gives a telling example of both how the authorities were warned of massive mortgage fraud and ignored it, and then later failed to use the same evidence to pursue the perps.

By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One, an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and co-founder of Bank Whistleblowers United. Jointly published with New Economic Perspectives

Steven Krystofiak formed the Mortgage Brokers Association for Responsible Lending, a professional association dedicated to fighting mortgage fraud and predation. On August 1, 2006. He tried to save our Nation by issuing one of the most prescient warnings about the epidemic of mortgage fraud and predation and the crisis it would so cause.

The context was Congress' effort to empower and convince the Federal Reserve to take action against what the mortgage lending industry called, behind closed doors, "liar's" loans. A liar's loan is a loan in which the lender does not verify (at least) the borrower's actual income. The industry knew that the failure to verify inherently led to endemic fraud. George Akerlof and Paul Romer's 1993 article on "Looting" by financial CEOs explicitly cited the failure to verify the borrower's income as an example of a lending practice that only fraudulent lenders would use on a widespread basis.

Congress gave the Fed the unique authority to ban all liar's loans in 1994, by passing the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA). HOEPA gave the Fed the authority to ban liar's loans even by "shadow" sector financial firms that had no federal deposit insurance.

Liar's loans began to become material around 1989 during the savings and loan debacle where all good U.S. financial frauds are born – Orange County, California. In that era, they were called "low documentation" ('low doc') loans. We (the West Region of the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), were the federal regulator for these S&Ls, and we were overwhelmed dealing with the "control frauds" driving the debacle, who overwhelmingly used commercial real estate (CRE) as their accounting "weapon" of choice. Our examiners, however, made two critical points. No honest lender would make widespread loans without verifying the borrower's income because it was certain to produce severe "adverse selection" and produce serious losses. The examiners' second warning was that such loans were growing rapidly in Orange County and multiple lenders were involved.

We listened and responded well to our examiners' timely and sound warnings and made it a moderate priority to drive liar's loans out of the industry we regulated. The last of the major fraudulent S&L liar's loan lenders was Long Beach Savings. Long Beach set a common pattern for fraudulent lenders by also engaging in predation primarily against Latinos and blacks. In 1994, the same year HOEPA became law; Long Beach voluntarily gave up federal deposit insurance and its charger as a savings and loan. Long Beach's controlling owner, Roland Arnall, did this for the sole purpose of escaping our regulatory jurisdiction and our ability to examine, sue, and sanction the S&L and its officers. Arnall changed its name to Ameriquest, and converted it to a mortgage bank. Mortgage banks were essentially unregulated. Arnall successfully sought sanctuary in what we now call the "shadow" financial sector. The S&L debacle did not end. It found sanctuary in the Shadow and grew 50% annually for 13 years.

Ameriquest and its leading mortgage bank competitor, run by former S&L officers we (OTS) had "removed and prohibited" from working in any federally insured lender, became the leading "vectors" spreading the epidemic of fraudulent liar's loans through (initially) the shadow sector and later back into federally insured lenders. Many of Arnall's lieutenants eventually left Ameriquest to lead other fraudulent and predatory lenders making predatory liar's loans. Michael W. Hudson's book, The Monster , is a great read that presents this history. Ameriquest and its fraudulent and predatory peers grew at extraordinary rates for over a decade. They hyper-inflated the bubble and drove the financial crisis.

Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernake refused to use HOEPA to stop this surging epidemic of fraudulent and predatory liar's loans. This was the setting when Krystofiak, on his own dime and initiative took advantage of a Fed hearing on predatory lending near his home to warn us all of the coming disaster. Krystofiak was not the first warning. His written testimony cited the appraisers' and the FBI's prior warnings. The appraisers' 2000 petition explaining how lenders and their agents were extorting appraisers to inflate appraisals was superb. Chris Swecker's 2004 warning on behalf of the FBI that the developing "epidemic" of mortgage fraud would cause a financial "crisis" if not stopped was superb.

Krystofiak was also superb. The Fed did not want to conduct hearings on fraudulent and predatory liar's loans – Congress forced it to do so. The Fed's Board members were not interested in stopping fraudulent and predatory liar's loans. The Fed did not invite Krystofiak to testify. The Fed offered only a brief "cattle call" at the end of the hearing allowing (after a top Fed official had left to fly back to DC) the public to make a very brief statement.

The Fed's treatment of Krysofiak stood in sharp contrast to its fawning treatment of the Mortgage Bankers Associations' chosen witness. The MBA chose the leading originator of fraudulent liar's loans in California – IndyMac – to present the MBA's position. The MBA's position was that the Fed should not use its HOEPA authority to ban fraudulent and predatory liar's loans. The Fed officials cracked jokes with and treated the IndyMac officer like an old pal. They treated Krytofiak with cold indifference. The MBA witness presented utter BS. Krystofiak spoke truth to power. Power loved the BS. The truth discomfited the Fed officials.

Krytofiak's written testimony made many vital points, but I refer to only two related points here. First, he warned the Fed that the twin mortgage fraud origination epidemics – appraisal fraud and liar's loans – were so large that they were inflating the housing bubble. Second, his means of quantifying the incidence of liar's loan fraud showed the regulators and the prosecutors that they could use the same method to document reliably, cheaply, and quickly the incidence of liar's loan fraud at every relevant financial firm.

Data Collected by the Mortgage Brokers Association for Responsible Lending

A recent sample of 100 stated income loans which were compared to IRS records (which is allowed through IRS forms 4506, but hardly done) found that 90 % of the income was exaggerated by 5 % or more. MORE DISTURBINGLY, ALMOST 60 % OF THE STATED AMOUNTS WERE EXAGGERATED BY MORE THAN 50%. These results suggest that the stated income loans deserves the nickname used by many in the industry, the "liar's loan" (emphasis in original).

The MBA's anti-fraud experts, MARI, appears to have conducted the study for Krystofiak. They featured the 4506-T (the "T" stands for "transcript") study and its finding of a 90% fraud incidence in liar's loans. In 2006, MARI presented its fraud study at the MBA's annual meeting. The MBA sent MARI's report to every member, which included all the major mortgage players.

Any honest originator, purchaser, or packager of liar's loans was on notice no later than mid-2006 that they could determine quickly, cheaply, and reliably the fraud incidence in those liar's loans by using the 4506-T forms to test a sample of those loans. Krystofiak aptly noted that while lenders typically required borrowers to sign the IRS 4506-T form allowing the lender to access their tax information, it was actually "hardly done." Lenders supposedly require the 4506-T because taxpayers have an obvious interest in not inflating their income to the IRS. The self-employed have to report their income accurately or face potential tax fraud sanctions.

The reason liar's loan mortgage lenders, purchasers, the packagers of toxic collateralized debt obligations (CDOs ) that typically were composed of large amounts of liar's loans, and credit rating agencies, "hardly [ever] used" or required the sellers to use their 4506-T authority is also clear if you understand "accounting control fraud." Any 4506-T study of liar's loans will document their pervasive frauds. Virtually all liar's loan and CDO sales required "reps and warranties" that they were not fraudulent. If a firm making or selling liar's loans conducted a 4506-T study and documented that it knew its reps and warranties were false, and it continued t make, sell, package, or rate those fraudulent loans under false reps and warranties it would be handling its counterparty a dream civil fraud suit. They would be handing DOJ the ability to prosecute them successfully for felonies that caused hundreds of billions of dollars in losses. The fraudulent mortgage money machine relied on the major players following a financial "don't ask; don't tell" policy.

The exceptions prove the rule. I have found public evidence of only two cases in which mortgage players (other than Krystofiak) conducted 4506-T audits of liar's loans. I have never found public evidence that any federal regulator or prosecutor conducted or mandated a 4506-T study. The two known cases of 4506-T audits were Wells Fargo (just disclosed by DOJ) and Countrywide (disclosed by the SEC investigation and complaint). Both audits found massive fraud incidence in the liar's loans. The risk officers presented these audit results to the banks' senior managers.

Bank Whistleblowers United's 4506-T Proposal

Two and-a-half years ago, Bank Whistleblowers United (BWU) discussed the senior officers of Countrywide's response to its 4506-T audit. We noted that BWU co-founder Michael Winston blew the whistle on Countrywide's frauds to the bank's most senior officers to try to prevent these frauds. Mr. Winston eagerly aided potential prosecutors – who failed to prosecute Countrywide's senior officers leading the frauds. BWU then explained the analogous response of Citigroup's senior officers to a different but equally reliable audit conducted by BWU co-founder Richard Bowen. We did so in a January 30, 2016 New Economic Perspectives blog urging presidential candidates in the 2016 election to pledge to implement the 60-day BWU plan to restore the rule of law to Wall Street.

As documented in the SEC complaint, Countrywide's managers conducted a secret internal study of Countrywide's liar's loans that, on June 2, 2006, confirmed Krystofiak's findings of endemic fraud in liar's loans. Fraud was the norm in Countrywide's liar's loans, a fact that it failed to disclose to its stockholders and secondary market purchasers. Instead of stopping such loans, Countrywide's senior officers caused it to adopt what they termed "Extreme Alt-A" loans offered by Bear and Lehman that "layered" this fraud risk on top of a half dozen additional massive risks to create what Countrywide's controlling officer described as loans that were "toxic" and "inherently unsound." "Alt-A" was the euphemism for liar's loans. Countrywide made massive amounts of "Extreme Alt-A" and acted as a vector spreading these "toxic" loans throughout the financial system. A member of our group, Dr. Michael Winston, tried to stop these kinds of abuses, which enriched top management but bankrupted Countrywide.

Similarly, a member of our group, Richard Bowen and his team of expert underwriters, documented that Citigroup knew that it was purchasing tens of billions of dollars of loans annually on the basis of fraudulent "reps and warranties" – and then reselling them to Fannie and Freddie on the basis of fraudulent reps and warranties. Bowen put the highest levels of Citigroup (including Bob Rubin) on personal notice in writing as the incidence of fraud climbed from 40% to 60%. (It eventually reached an astonishing 80% fraud incidence.) Citigroup's leadership's response was to remove his staff. Senior Citigroup officers also responded to the surging fraud by causing Citigroup to become a major purchaser of fraudulently originated liar's loans.

We can now add the senior leaders that determined Wells Fargo's response to its 4506-T audit. We draw on the Department of Justice (DOJ) disclosures in conjunction with its indefensible settlement of civil fraud claims against Wells Fargo's massive mortgage fraud. The DOJ press release revealed that "in 2005, Wells Fargo began an initiative to double its production of subprime and Alt-A loans." DOJ did not explain that this was after the FBI warned there was an emerging "epidemic" of mortgage "fraud" that would cause a financial "crisis" if it were not stopped. The settlement discloses that Wells' risk officers alerted senior managers that the plan to increase greatly the number of liar's loans would greatly increase fraud in 2005 before Wells implemented the plan.

The press release had other bombshells (unintentionally) demonstrating the strength of the criminal cases that DOJ refused to bring against Wells' senior officers. Wells Fargo's 4506-T audit found that its liar's loans were endemically fraudulent, and the amount of inflated income was extraordinary.

The results of Wells Fargo's 4506-T testing were disclosed in internal monthly reports, which were widely distributed among Wells Fargo employees. One Wells Fargo employee in risk management observed that the "4506-T results are astounding" yet "instead of reacting in a way consistent with what is being reported WF [Wells Fargo] is expanding stated [income loan] programs in all business lines."

The press release note some other actions by Wells' senior managers that show what prosecutors term "consciousness of guilt." Such actions make (real) prosecutors salivate. The press release's final substantive revelation is the unbelievable rate of loan defaults on Wells Fargo's fraudulent loans and the exceptional damages those loans and sales caused.

Wells Fargo sold at least 73,539 stated income loans that were included in RMBS between 2005 to 2007, and nearly half of those loans have defaulted, resulting in billions of dollars in losses to investors.

Typical default rates on conventional mortgages averaged, for decades, around 1.5 percent. The Wells Fargo liar's loans defaulted at a rate 30 times greater.

How Corrupt is Wells? Cheating Customers is "Courageous"

The press release does not contain the Wells Fargo gem that proves our family rule that it is impossible to compete with unintentional self-parody. Paragraph H of the settlement reveals that Wells' term for doubling its number of fraudulent liar's loans in 2005 was "Courageous Underwriting." Wells' senior managers changed its compensation system to induce its employees to approve even worse loans. Calling defrauding your customers "courageous" epitomizes Wells Fargo's corrupt culture built on lies and lies about lies.

DOJ's pathetic settlement with Wells Fargo has no admissions by the bank. It does not require a penny in damages from any bank officer. It does not require a bank officer to return a penny of bonuses received through these fraudulent loans. The settlement contains DOJ's statement that its investigation found that Wells' violated four federal criminal statutes. DOJ will continue to grant de facto immunity from prosecution to elite banksters. The Trump administration has again flunked a major test dealing with the swamp banksters.

Section H (b) of the settlement is factually inaccurate in a manner that makes it highly favorable to fraudulent lenders making liar's loans. There is no indication that DOJ ever investigated Wells' fraudulent loan origination practices. It was overwhelmingly lenders and their loan brokers that put the lies in liar's loans. DOJ's settlement documents do not refer to Wells whistleblowers, even though and competent investigation would have identified dozens of whistleblowers. Throughout its Wells documents, DOJ implies that borrowers overstated their income rather than Wells and its loan brokers.

The Jig is Up on DOJ's Pathetic Excuses for Refusing to Jail Elite Bank Frauds

We now know with certainty from the whistleblowers and the internal audits that the response of Citigroup, Countrywide, and Wells Fargo's senior leaders to knowing that most of their liar's loans and the reps and warranties they made about those loans were fraudulent. We know with certainty that Michael Winston and Richard Bowen's disclosures were correct. We know with certainty that each served up to DOJ on a platinum platter dream cases for prosecuting Citigroup and Countrywide's top managers. The senior managers' response to proof that their banks were engaged in endemic fraud makes sense only if the senior managers were leading an "accounting control fraud," which enriches the managers by harming the lender.

When the appraisers' warned of extensive extortion by lenders and their agents to inflate appraisals, when the FBI warned that mortgage fraud was becoming "epidemic" and would cause a financial "crisis" if not halted, and when the MBA publicized Krystofiak and MARI's warnings that liar's loans were endemically fraudulent, the fraudulent CEOs' response was always the same. In each case, they expanded what they knew were endemically fraudulent liar's loans and increased the extortion of appraisers.

Back to BWU's 4506-T Proposal

This brings us back to reminding the public what BWU proposed 32 months ago about 4506-T audits. Point 17 of our 60-day plan began:

Within 60 days, each federal financial regulatory agency directs any bank that it regulates to conduct and publicly report a "Krystofiak" study on a sample of "liar's" loans that they continue to hold. Krystofiak devised a clever study that he presented to the Federal Reserve in an unsuccessful attempt to try to get the Fed to stop the epidemic of fraudulent liar's loans. Lenders and secondary market purchasers routinely required borrowers to authorize the lender and any subsequent purchaser of the loan to obtain a "transcript" (4506-T) of the borrower's tax returns from the IRS to allow the lender to quickly and inexpensively verify the borrower's reported income.

Other parts of our 60-day plan called for DOJ appointees with the courage, integrity, and skills to restore the rule of law to Wall Street. We also explained the needs (and means) for the banking regulators to conduct the investigations (such as 4506-T audits), activate a legion of whistleblowers, and make the criminal referrals to DOJ essential to bring successful prosecutions.

Conclusion

Had the regulators (particularly the Fed through its HOEPA power) required each bank making liar's loans to conduct a 4506-T audit, the senior managers would have faced a dilemma. They could stop the fraudulent lending or provide DOJ with a great opportunity to prosecute them. The bank CEOs' response to the internal audits showing endemic fraud and the retaliation against the whistleblowers combine to offer superb proof of senior managers' 'specific intent' to defraud. The reasons for the failure to prosecute were some combination of cowardice and politics. If Democrats win control of the House they can use their investigative powers to force each bank regulator to cause every relevant financial institution to conduct a 4506-T audit.

Of course, the Republican Senate and House chairs could order those steps today . We are not holding our breath, but BWU's co-founders are eager to aid either, or both, parties restore the rule of law to Wall Street. Instead, we are rapidly creating an intensely criminogenic environment on Wall Street that will eventually cause a severe financial crisis.


Hayek's Heelbiter , August 7, 2018 at 5:35 am

Did John Stumpf (President of Wells Fargo 2007-2016) really say, "If one family loses their home, it is a tragedy. If ten million people lose their homes, it is a statistic?"

Tinky , August 7, 2018 at 6:33 am

Even by Black's lofty standards, this is an outstanding article. The fact that it won't be published in the mainstream media, and that the vast majority of regulators and politicians will ignore it, underscores once again just how broken and corrupted the American political and economic systems are.

Colonel Smithers , August 7, 2018 at 7:54 am

Thank you, Tinky.

It's the same in the UK with regard to mortgage fraud and reporting.

A colleague, brought in from the regulator to clean up our German basket case TBTF's brief and late in the day foray into the mortgage market, said the UK mortgage market was as corrupt / fraudulent. The same US firms were involved in many, if not most, cases. Lehman had an outpost, Ascendant, in my home county, Buckinghamshire, for such activity. Lehman, Merrill and Citi carved out the UK on geographical lines. One (US) firm was given the name of the Germanic tribe that settled in the area 1500 years before.

readerOfTeaLeaves , August 7, 2018 at 11:34 am

Agree about the excellence of this post.

FWIW, the kinds of government errors, cowardice, and confusions that Black relates – on top of having taxpayers foot the bill for it all – was a key factor IMVHO in people voting Trump as a kind of protest vote. He talks about 'fake news' to a huge number of Americans who faked income, or approved fake income.

The rest of us, I assume, continue to seethe and are supporting 'honest money, fair wages/salary' candidates like Warren and Sanders.

flora , August 7, 2018 at 11:54 am

+1

Tom Stone , August 7, 2018 at 7:49 am

In early 2005 I was working as a loan Broker when I met the World Savings rep or the first time.
The first words out of his mouth were a warning not to take more than 3 pints on the back end because it was greedy, the second sentence was "If there's a problem with the income the underwriter will drop the file on my desk, I'll call you and we'll fix it".
He's still in the business, a few rungs further up the corporate ladder, I got out of the business the following week.

Peter Pan , August 7, 2018 at 10:31 am

If Democrats win control of the House they can use their investigative powers to force each bank regulator to cause every relevant financial institution to conduct a 4506-T audit.

The establishment democrats that receive donor dollars from Wall Street banks? I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for them to even investigate much less do anything else to stop this criminal activity.

Otherwise another excellent post by Bill Black.

Tomonthebeach , August 7, 2018 at 3:31 pm

Also, is there a statute of limitations on this fraud? If so, both parties might just be running out the clock.

crittermom , August 7, 2018 at 7:43 pm

+1

Bewildered , August 7, 2018 at 10:41 am

Fabulous piece as usual from Mr. Black. Just makes the tenure of the previous administration all the more complicit in the current state of affairs. As Mr. Black details there was an obvious solution to uncover the fraud and go after senior execs, something that also could have also been done when the 'democrat' party held the House and at least a leverage position in the Senate. What the American public received instead was a giant con job/cover-up advertised as restitution and Obama goes on national TV to pathetically claim that grossly fraudulent behavior was simply unethical. Obviously that maneuver had a higher ROI for post-tenure legacy building and fundraising.

georgieboy , August 7, 2018 at 10:50 am

Wells Fargo -- doing it the Warren Buffet way! For that matter, Goldman Sachs -- doing it the Warren Buffet way!

Superb summary by Mr. Black, thanks Yves.

Bottom Gun , August 7, 2018 at 11:10 am

There is really a simple solution: fire everyone at DOJ and replace them with Air Force officers.

An Air Force officer is brave. He will fly through enemy fire if he has to in order to do his job. He gives no thought to the Taliban career opportunities that he might be forgoing by bombing them.

An Air Force officer is competent. He can fly through thunderstorms in the dead of night and get his bombs when and where the forward air controller down with the infantry needs them. Compare that to the experience of an honest IG official trying to get an indictment from DOJ for anyone at a mega-bank.

An Air Force officer knows how to get funding for his priorities. The Air Force annual budget, at $156 billion, is about 5 times that of DOJ. Enough said.

When you know these facts, the solution is obvious.

Kevbot5000 , August 7, 2018 at 4:36 pm

Go read The Pentagon Wars or Coram's Boyd . Air Force (or other service) officers have no particular claim to virtue. If you pulled mostly captains maybe it'd work, but the bravery and competence needed on the front line is vastly different from that needed from say a Colonel or General running programs/units which is likely the officers you'd be bringing in. Remember you're advocating bringing in people responsible for the boondoggle that is the F35 to shape up an organization. (which is not an isolated instance but emblematic of the upper tiers of the service)

Bottom Gun , August 7, 2018 at 8:00 pm

Thanks for the referrals; let me take a look. (I have read Thomas Ricks' The Generals , which I suspect makes a similar point to those.) The point is acknowledged, although I have not only read The Chickenshit Club but lived through it. There were many DOJ people I had to deal with whom I can only describe using Bundy's pungent phrase for the South Vietnamese political leadership: "the absolute bottom of the barrel." They contrasted starkly with the fellow junior officers I knew in my youth, but as you noted, those were junior officers.

Susan the other , August 7, 2018 at 12:08 pm

The simplicity of the 4506-T audits is as profound as the physics comparison of the diversity of the economy to GDP. These things don't work when all the chaos comes home to roost. In 1989 our economy was on the rocks and our corporations were offshoring as fast as they could; the USSR collapsed and we landed like a murder of crows to pick their bones and loot Russia. OPEC was naming their price; China was exporting massive deflation; our banks were already on the brink. But how to bring home all the loot from not just Russia but all the other illegal sources connected with our once and future imperialism? We were no longer a country of laws; we were looters, thieves and launderers. We were trying to salvage our "investments" or we were hoovering up flight capital or some other thing that had nothing to do with law and order and democracy. You name it. How else did all the banks, all of them, agree to forego their own standards and make all those conveyor belt loans? They prolly all had to become industrial laundromats and get rid of the stuff asap. Which was perhaps only one aspect to the ongoing collapse of "capitalism" as we once knew it – but were unable to protect it. I love Bill Black because he makes me come to uncomfortable explanations who knows how it all fell apart? Somebody does.

templar555510 , August 7, 2018 at 2:34 pm

Superb comment Susan. I make know how ' it all fell apart ' other than recognising that the early capitalists worked with stuff that had to be produced, and so despite vile excesses produced something useful to many , whereas these financial capitalists produce nothing of value to anyone except themselves and take away something from everybody else ( liar's loans being a key example ) . The question is , is there any here beyond here ? Clearly not with ANY of the present political incumbents ( I am in the UK it's the same for you and us ) . So that in two sentences is my answer to your question . My question is ' how on earth do we get beyond here ?'

Chauncey Gardiner , August 7, 2018 at 12:18 pm

Re Bill Black: " Instead, we are rapidly creating an intensely criminogenic environment on Wall Street that will eventually cause a severe financial crisis."

By design and intent with no fear of criminal prosecution for fraud, imprisonment, or even surrender of ill-gotten personal financial gains. All brought to us courtesy of the political donor class and large corporations, those they have corrupted, and the Supreme Court's Orwellian-named Citizens United decision and expanded executive branch powers that make it possible.

Look at any set of issues: Failure to pass and implement policies to address climate change, endless wars, defunding public education and infrastructure, the opioid crisis, manipulation of financial markets, federal government austerity, transfers of public lands and resources into private hands, privatization of public services, healthcare, stagnant real wages, loss of any semblance of economic equality, debt burdens placed on our young people seeking economic opportunity or family formation, lack of legal separation of bank depository and payments system functions from their market speculations, failure to enforce corporate antitrust laws, erosion of privacy and civil liberties, repeated bubbles, concentration of media ownership in the hands of a few, secret international tax havens, etc. and what do you see?

Tim , August 7, 2018 at 12:22 pm

In case you need comedy – George Carlin The Death Penalty from 1996

https://youtu.be/qDO6HV6xTmI

crittermom , August 7, 2018 at 8:02 pm

Thanks, Tim. Comedy was exactly what I needed after Bill Black's excellent article. (One of his best, IMHO)

I saw George Carlin in person at a small theater in Denver long ago. He was great, & still cracks me up.

shinola , August 7, 2018 at 12:49 pm

With the latest disclosures about WF stealing directly from their banking customers on top of their previous frauds, I'm just sure the regulators will come down hard on them this time (NOT!)

I wonder if Mr. Trump, with his involvement in commercial RE, ever "mis-stated" his his income, assets and/or liabilities when obtaining a loan. Nah, couldn't happen.

Tomonthebeach , August 7, 2018 at 3:37 pm

I wonder why anybody still banks with WF. My late mom had about 30K in a WF account under a trust that I could not close out for 24 months (Florida laws – WF had a branch in their eldercare facility.) I was delighted that my closeout check did not bounce.

Karma Fubar , August 7, 2018 at 1:22 pm

A while back I worked at a medical device startup operating within a formal (i.e. written and comprehensive) quality system. A quality system is required for any commercial sales of medical products; previously I had been involved in early stage R+D and had not been bound by such systems. So a lot of it was new to me.

Something that stuck out at the time, and probably ties in to the article above, was the sanctity of corporate internal audit files. The FDA could demand access to almost any company quality system document, except for internal audit files. They could be provided with summaries of these internal audits indicating something like "6 minor deficiencies found, 1 major deficiency found, 0 extreme deficiencies found" , but were not permitted access to the raw internal audits.

I suspect that financial firms have the same level of protection for their internal audits. Had they hired a consulting firm to investigate the accuracy of stated income in the loans they originated, the results of that outside investigation would probably be a document reviewable by government regulators (assuming they were interested in doing their job). But by pursuing this as an internal audit, executives knew that the results would never be reviewable, and give them plausible deniability that they knew of the systemic level of fraud.

There certainly must be other ways of investigating efficiency or compliance within a company, but by pursuing it as an internal audit they could easily bury the results.

Oregoncharles , August 7, 2018 at 1:52 pm

A quibble: comparing stated income to income tax forms may be misleading, although it is the standard. People have an interest in understating their income to the IRS, and in overstating it when seeking a loan. The logic is that they risk prosecution if they understate to the IRS, but there are plenty of situations where they're very unlikely to get caught. It's conceivable the loan application is more honest than the tax return.

perpetualWAR , August 7, 2018 at 7:57 pm

Neither is correct.

Enquiring Mind , August 7, 2018 at 3:09 pm

Loan officers I knew over the decades have changed their views. Asking them if they would lend their own money to the proposed borrower used to be more likely to elicit a Yes. When standards loosened (again) earlier this millennium, some answered No until realizing that they shouldn't care since the money wasn't theirs. What really mattered was getting that commission endorsed and deposited, given the rise of IBGYBG (I'll be gone, you'll be gone) thinking.

Another question I asked was about tracking borrower performance relative to loan officer compensation. Relationship building and longer term interactions declined with the rise of neo-liberalish (the -ish suffix indicates a primitive reaction to immediate perceived incentives without further investigation) mindsets. Portfolio lenders had more at risk but still laid off some of that on the deposit insurance funds. Loan buyers did not fully appreciate that they had to trust everyone preceding them in the value (destruction) cycle, from brokers and investment bankers through ratings agencies.

Internal audits, compliance functions and regulatory exams were often the only temporary inconveniences or obstacles to transactions and related income distribution.

Ron Con Coma , August 7, 2018 at 3:20 pm

Eric Holder for President – NOT!

steelhead23 , August 7, 2018 at 4:02 pm

If Democrats win control of the House they can use their investigative powers to force each bank regulator to cause every relevant financial institution to conduct a 4506-T audit.

Let us, for a moment, imagine this happens. Then what? The results would show widespread fraud and a pathetic lack of adequate vetting by the issuer. Then those fraudulent loans were aggregated into various RMBS and sold to others. I hope you can see that just this disclosure is likely to cause a substantial hiccup in the financial system, perhaps another full-blown crisis. And who would the public blame? The criminals – or the cops? I could see Dems, even Dems with little or no connection to the Street, deciding not to open Pandora's box.

That is one of the problems with the American political system. From defense appropriations to banking regulation, the pols live in fear of being tarred for doing the right thing, if the outcome is temporarily bad or unpopular. Yes, it would obviously be best to cleanse the wound, but doing so would hurt, so the pols decide that it would be best for their popularity to let the wound fester until it becomes too big to ignore or financial Armageddon occurs. Isn't that precisely the thinking of the Obama Administration?

Murgatroy , August 7, 2018 at 6:25 pm

All major Wall St banks and brokerages including Wachovia, Wells, BofA and even Citadel and a few foreign banks (ABN Amro, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, etc) set up an offshore sub called CDS Indexco. This was used as a defacto cartel to control the prices of both Sub-Prime CDO issues and their respective Credit Default Swaps. They created the Markit BBB- index which was used by Paulsen, Ackman and a few other chosen ones to short the MBS sub-prime market. This is the truth.. CDS Indexco dropped that name in Nov. 2008 when the accounting rules forced Marked to Market accounting and also the Consolidation of VIE's (Special Purpose Financial Subs that got an exception to the Enron Rule). So in other words: if banks had been made to follow the "Enron Rule" the financial crisis wouldn't have happened. Goldman's own employee was the Chairman of CDS Indexco, I couldn't make this shit up. And Yves knows it too. Gramm Leach Bliley made it all possible – so banks could hold both the debt and the equity of an entity that they took no responsibility for. This was the precise reason for Glass-Steagall banks were manhandling the ownership of business due to inherent conflicts of interest between debt and equity holders.

steelhead23 , August 7, 2018 at 7:30 pm

My dear Murgatory, Wow. This is the first I have heard of CDS Indexco. You are suggesting that it was much more than a mere market clearinghouse. Where could I read more on this?

perpetualWAR , August 7, 2018 at 7:51 pm

Google it. I just did.
I. Am. Stunned.
Just when I think the shiitake can't get any deeper, it does.

perpetualWAR , August 7, 2018 at 7:34 pm

A former bank/trustee foreclosure attorney is running for a District Court judge position in Seattle. Remember Trott, the Foreclosure King, who Michigan sent to Congress? Yeah, this dude is trying to get on the bench.

crittermom , August 7, 2018 at 8:19 pm

Of course no bankers went to jail.

But does anyone remember this news from 2011, about the homeowner who did?
The lengths they went to 'catch him' once he was in their sites, says it all.
https://www.businessinsider.com/charlie-engle-2011-3

[Aug 06, 2018] Ministry of Plenty

Aug 06, 2018 | en.wikipedia.org

The Ministry of Plenty ( Newspeak : Miniplenty ) is in control of Oceania's planned economy . It oversees rationing of food , supplies , and goods . As told in Goldstein's book, the economy of Oceania is very important, and it's necessary to have the public continually create useless and synthetic supplies or weapons for use in the war, while they have no access to the means of production . This is the central theme of Oceania's idea that a poor, ignorant populace is easier to rule over than a wealthy, well-informed one. Telescreens often make reports on how Big Brother has been able to increase economic production, even when production has actually gone down (see § Ministry of Truth ).

The Ministry hands out statistics which are "nonsense". When Winston is adjusting some Ministry of Plenty's figures, he explains this:

But actually, he thought as he readjusted the Ministry of Plenty's figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connection with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connection that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great deal of time you were expected to make them up out of your head.

Like the other ministries, the Ministry of Plenty seems to be entirely misnamed, since it is, in fact, responsible for maintaining a state of perpetual poverty , scarcity and financial shortages. However, the name is also apt, because, along with the Ministry of Truth, the Ministry of Plenty's other purpose is to convince the populace that they are living in a state of perpetual prosperity. Orwell made a similar reference to the Ministry of Plenty in his allegorical work Animal Farm when, in the midst of a blight upon the farm, Napoleon the pig orders the silo to be filled with sand, then to place a thin sprinkling of grain on top, which fools human visitors into being dazzled about Napoleon's boasting of the farm's superior economy.

A department of the Ministry of Plenty is charged with organizing state lotteries . These are very popular among the proles, who buy tickets and hope to win the big prizes – a completely vain hope as the big prizes are in fact not awarded at all, the Ministry of Truth participating in the scam and publishing every week the names of non-existent big winners.

In the Michael Radford film adaptation , the ministry is renamed the Ministry of Production, or MiniProd.

[Jul 04, 2018] Stabilizing an Unstable Economy by Hyman P. Minsky

Jul 04, 2018 | www.amazon.com

Larry R Frank Sr, MBA, CFP 5.0 out of 5 stars | Verified Purchase

Just what have we learned over the years (or not)?

Unfortunately, economists seem to given more attention after they're deceased and it appears Hyman P. Minsky (1919 -1986) is one in this category as well. As I read this book, originally published in 1986, I was amazed at not only one, but the many, parallels to today his synthesis of economic views, a blend of today's camps including the behavioral, had.

More valuable to you are his comments than mine, so I will quote Minsky as much as possible in this review and highly suggest its reading to fill in the gaps he so well articulates on his own. I decided to read this book because I'm not an economist and heard how his theories may better apply today than ever.

Many years later, the preface to this edition provides an excellent summary of Minsky's work. You do not need to be an expert to follow along. In the Introduction (8), Minsky points out that the institutional arrangements we have today in response to the Great Depression were set up pre-Keynes and with a pre-Keynesian understanding of the economy. ¨The evidence from 1975 indicates that, although the simple Keynesian model in which a large government deficit stabilizes and the helps the economy to expand is valid in a rough and ready way, the relevant economic relations are more complicated than the simple model allows. In particular, because what happens in our economy is so largely determined by financial considerations, economic theory can be relevant only if finance is integrated in the structure of the theory.¨

Minsky discusses Big Government and lender-of-last-resort (Federal Reserve or Fed) which is enlightening is and of itself. The balance of Chapters two and three are devoted to how these two interventions may work in theory. ¨To understand how Big Government stopped the economy's free fall, it is necessary to delve into the different impacts of government deficits on our economy ...¨ (24) He proceeds to define and then discuss three impacts: income and employment effect; budget effect; and portfolio effect. The standard view only incorporates one impact while Minsky argues and expanded view must incorporate all three views. ¨As a result of the 1975 experience, the issues in economic theory and policy that we should have to face are not about the ability of prodigious government deficit spending to halt even a very sharp recession but about the relative efficiency of specific measures and the side and after effects associated with particular policy strategies.¨ (24-25) I would suggest this has not been done effectively in response to the 2007 recession (started in Dec 2007 and has not been declared over as of this review writing (google "nber recession dates" for start and finish dates for this recession) which to date has had a more blind application of Keynesian without much thought as Minsky suggested long ago. Of interest is his discussion how Big Government entitlement programs impart an inflationary bias into the economy. (29)

Minsky's lender-of-last-resort includes a discussion on the lack of understanding of the inflationary side effects affects of intervention (51) and explosive growth of speculative liability structures (52) are as applicable today as to then. ¨Unless a theory can define the conditions in which a phenomenon occurs, it offers no guide to the control or elimination of the phenomenon.¨ He discusses the open market and discount window functions of the Fed and is instructive as to how the FOMC loses its power to affect member bank behavior, thus the Fed is not acting on intimate knowledge of banking practices. (54) Wow! Wasn't that also true this time! Minsky points out five causes of concern that the 1974 Chairman of the Federal Reserve System had appear as relevant today as to then as well: ¨first, the attenuation of the banking systems' base of equity capital; second, greater reliance on funds of a potentially volatile character; third, heavy loan commitments in relation to resources; fourth, some deterioration in the quality of assets; fifth, increased exposure to the larger banks to risks entailed in foreign exchange transactions and other foreign operations.¨

Minsky foresees how regulators (and politicians it seems) in imputing ¨...the difficulties he sees to either a laxness of regulatory zeal or, perhaps, some rather trivial mistake in how the regulatory bodies were organized, rather than to a fundamental behavioral characteristic of our economy.¨ (58) Even today, we see more shuffling of regulatory responsibilities and body creation rather than understand the behavior that causes the problems first in order to develop solutions.

He also points out how real estate was a problem back then as well, as result from explosive speculation. ¨The need for lender-of-last-resort intervention follows from an explosive growth in speculative finance and the way in which speculative finance leads to a crisis-prone situation.¨ (59) ¨Inasmuch as the successful execution of lender-of-last-resort functions extends the domain of the Federal Reserve guarantees to new markets and to new instruments there is an inherent inflationary bias to these operations; by validating the past use of an instrument, an implicit guarantee of its future is extended.¨ (58-59)

¨It is important to emphasize that ... any constraint placed on the Federal Reserve flexibility (e.g. by mandating mechanical rules of behavior) attenuates its power to act. Rules cannot substitute for lender-of-last-resort discretion.¨ Recall, the call by many to constrain the Fed? Minsky suggests otherwise. He also states ¨Certainly the bank examination aspects of the FDIC and the Federal Reserve should be integrated, especially if inputs from bank examinations are to become part of an early warning system for problem banks.¨ (64) This ties in with the idea above where the Fed has lost intimate knowledge of the banking practices.

Minsky discusses how the behavior of many actors need to be considered in a cohesive theory when he states ¨The dynamics of the financial system that lead to institutional change result from profit-seeking activities by businesses, financial institutions, and households as they manage their affairs.¨ (77) The problems that exist in the hierarchical financial system between mainstream banks and fringe banks is also noticed by Minsky years ago where a potential domino effect can cause serious disruptions as a result of the lender-of-last-resort guarantee to the mainstream banks as discussed on page 58. (97)

So far Minsky has laid the groundwork for actor interactions and issues. He then proceeds to theory. ¨In all disciplines theory plays a double role: it is both a lens and a blinder.¨ "It is ironic that an economic theory that purports to be based on Keynes fails because it cannot explain instability. ... Identifying a phenomenon is not enough: we need a theory that makes instability a normal result in our economy and gives us handles to control it." (111) "In what lies ahead, we will develop a theory explaining why our economy fluctuates, showing that the instability and incoherence exhibited from time to time is related to the development of fragile financial structures that occur normally within capitalist economies in the course of financing capital asset ownership and investment. We thus start with a bias in favor of using the market mechanism to the fullest extent possible to achieve social goals, but with recognition that market capitalism is both intrinsically unstable and can lead to distasteful distributions of wealth and power." (112) "The elements of Keynes that are ignored in the neoclassical synthesis deal with the pricing of capital assets and the special properties of economies with capitalistic financial institutions." (114) Minsky goes on to deconstruct both pre-Keynesian and and after-Keynesian constructs and synthesis. Minsky's "financial instability hypothesis" (127) addresses weaknesses he views in the neoclassical model. "In the neoclassical view, speculation, financing conditions, inherited financial obligations, and the fluctuating behavior of aggregate demand have nothing whatsoever to do with savings, investment, and the interest rate determination." (123) "In neoclassical theory, money does not have any significant relation to finance and the financing activity." (124) Minsky addresses the point that Keynes thoughts came out after government programs for reform and recovery were put into place, not the other way around and many may think today. (134) Minsky then develops how cause and effect to lay the ground work for his hypothesis throughout chapters 6 through 9 as he discusses in turn price relations allowing for government, foreign trade, consuming out of profits and saving out of wages, supply prices, taxes and government spending, financing of business spending, investment and finance, capital asset prices, investment, cash flows, and three kinds of financing (hedge, speculative and Ponzi: "The mixture of hedge, speculative, and Ponzi finance in an economy is a major determinant of its stability. (232)). "The main reason why our economy behaves in different ways at different times is that financial practices and structure of financial commitments change." (219) He calls the economy existing always in a transitory state.

Minsky then builds a larger model by discussion Institutional dynamics in Part 4. "Business cycles are `natural' in a investing capitalist economy, but to understand why this is so it is necessary to deal with the financing of investment and positions in capital assets explicitly." (249) He also recognized the distinction between commercial banks and investment banks and that the distinction between the two were breaking down even back in the 80's. (249) "In a capitalist economy money is tied up with the process of creating and controlling capital assets." (250) "Money is created as bankers go about their business of arranging for the financing of trade, investment, and positions in capital assets." (250).

Deposit (commercial banks) are emphasized in Chapter 10. Minsky's observation in the 80's rings as true today as it did then when he says "The narrow view that banking affects the economy only through the money supply led economists and policymakers to virtually ignore the composition of bank portfolios." (252) The rest of Chapter 10 explains how bank portfolio composition works and the economic effect this has.

Chapter 11 in about inflation. "My theory emphasizes the composition of financed demand and the spending of incomes that are allocations of profits as the determinants of the prices of consumption goods. It is compatible with the multiplier analysis in orthodox Keynesian theory" (254) "The determination of employment, wages, and prices starts with the profit calculations of businessmen and bankers. This proposition is in sharp contrast to the views of neoclassical monetarist theory." (255) Milton Friedman is a monetarist that he discusses next with this weakness in that theory in mind. Minsky develops his inflation theory by discussing money wages, price-deflated wages, government as an inflation engine, and trade union roles in inflation.

Part 5 is the culmination of his work where he discusses possible policy implications of his theory through the lens of his financial instability hypothesis. "Even if a program of reform is successful, the success will be transitory." (319) He continually reminds us that a dynamic system will need continual monitoring, adjustment and trade offs in the attempt to keep instability within reasonable bounds. An overarching agenda and approach should be developed to do this. An employment strategy should be developed, financial reform should be carefully crafted so as to not make matter worse.

**********
Conclusion:
As I mentioned at the beginning, I am not an economist. Minsky's description of the economy as developed through his instability model appears to describe much of how the interactions work, the inherent instability of a capitalist system, and his proposals to manage the instability appear to have merit for consideration. Especially in light of the 2007 recession.

Minsky appears to be an interesting combination of Keynesians who look to mitigate busts, and Austrians who look to prevent artificial booms.

For an easy read which builds a hypothetical economy, using an example of an island and fish on up, to describe economic history through the lens of the Austrian economic model: How an Economy Grows and Why it Crashes by Peter D Schiff and Andrew J Schiff.

For more on Keynes, this work by Hunter Lewis describes what Keynes said and what he didn't say side by side. Where Keynes Went Wrong: And Why World Governments Keep Creating Inflation, Bubbles, and Busts

Review by Larry Frank, author of Wealth Odyssey: The Essential Road Map For Your Financial Journey Where Is It You Are Really Trying To Go With Money?

[Jul 04, 2018] Why Minsky Matters An Introduction to the Work of a Maverick Economist L. Wray 9780691178400 Amazon.com Books

www.theatlantic.com
Jul 04, 2018 | www.amazon.com

Amazon.com Das Boot Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Gronemeyer, Klaus Wennemann, Wolfgang Petersen Amazon Digital Services LLC

[May 30, 2018] How Media Amnesia Has Trapped Us in a Neoliberal Groundhog Day

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... By Laura Basu, a Marie Curie Research Fellow at Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Culture. Originally published at openDemocracy ..."
"... This ideology spread through the media from the 1980s ..."
"... Fast-forward to April 2009, barely 6 months after the announcement of a £500 billion bank bailout. A media hysteria was nowraging around Britain's deficit . While greedy bankers were still taking some of the blame, the systemic problems in finance and the problems with the free-market model had been forgotten. Instead, public profligacy had become the dominant explanation for the deficit. The timeline of the crisis was being erased and rewritten. ..."
"... These measures were a ramped-up version of the kinds of reforms that had produced the crisis in the first place. This fact, however, was forgotten. These 'pro-business' moves were enthusiastically embraced by the media, far more so than austerity. Of the 5 outlets analysed (The BBC, Telegraph, Sun, Guardian and Mirror), only the Guardian rejected them more frequently than endorsing them. ..."
"... "One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It's simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we've been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back." ..."
"... This post is disheartening in so many ways. Start with "media hysteria" -- adding yet another glib coinage to hide a lack of explanation behind a simple but innapt analogy like the endless "addictions" from which personifications of various abstract entities suffer. ..."
"... This coinage presupposes a media sufficiently free to be possessed by hysteria. Dancing puppets might with some art appear "hysterical". And the strange non-death of Neoliberalsm isn't so strange or poorly understood in 2018 though the detailed explanation hasn't reached as many as one might have hoped, including the authors of this brief post. Consider their unhappy mashup of thoughts in a key sentence of the first paragraph: "This power has been maintained with the help of a robust ideology centred on free markets (though in reality markets are captured by corporations and are maintained by the state) and the superiority of the private sector over the public sector." The tail of this sentence obviates the rest of the post. And we ought not ignore the detail that Neoliberalism believes in the Market as a solution to all problems -- NOT the 'free market' of neoclassical economics or libertarian ideology. ..."
"... From "media hysteria" the post postulates "amnesia" of a public convinced of "greedy bankers" who need regulation. In the U.S. the propaganda was more subtle -- at least in my opinion. We were fed the "bad apples" theory mocked in a brief series of media clips presented in the documentary film "Inside Job". Those clips suggest a better explanation for the swift media transitions from banking reform to balanced budgets and austerity with more tax cuts for the wealthy than "amnesia" or "hyper-amnesia". The media Corporations are tightly controlled by the same forces that captured Corporations and -- taking the phrase "the superiority of the private sector over the public sector" in the sense that a superior directs an inferior [rather than the intended(?) sense] -- direct and essentially own our governments. ..."
"... The remarkable thing about public discourse and political and economic news reporting is how superficial it has become, so devoid of a foundation of any kind in history or theory. You can not have an effective critique of society or the economy or anything, if you do not see a system with a history and think it matters. Neoliberalism has become what people say when they think none of it really matters; it is all just noise. ..."
"... "Neoliberalism has become what people say when they think none of it really matters; it is all just noise." ..."
"... I also think that the crisis of neoliberalism echos a problem caused by capitalism, itself. I think David Harvey stated that "capitalism doesn't solve problems, it often just moves them around". ..."
"... Matt Stoller tweet from August 2017, as germane now as ever: "The political crisis we are facing is simple. American commerce, law, finance, and politics is organized around cheating people." ..."
"... George Orwell noted that the middle class Left couldn't handle dealing with real working class people, although there isn't the same huge gulf these days, I believe there is still a vestige of it due to the British class system. The Fabians set up shop in the East End around the turn of the last century & directly rubbed shoulders with the likes of Coster Mongers – a combination that led to a strike that was one of the first success stories in the attempt to get a few more crumbs than what was usually allowed to fall from the top table. ..."
"... If Neoliberalism is now being noticed I imagine that it is because of it's success in working it's way up the food chain. After all these same Middle classes for the most part did not care much for the plight of the poor during those Victorian values. Many could not wait to employ maids of all work who slaved for up to fourteen hours a day with only Sunday afternoon's off. The Suffragettes had a real problem with this as their relatively comfortable lives would soon descend into drudgery without their servants. ..."
"... Coincidentally, the NYT article on Austerity Britain is the closest I have read to an accurate picture that I have seen for a good while. ..."
"... It's also not a new thing. British media worship of neoliberalism has been growing since the 1980s, at the same time as newspapers have been closing and media sources of all kinds laying off their staff. 2008 was a temporary blip, and since the average journalist has the attention span of a hamster, it was back to usual a few months later. Once the crash stopped being "news" old patterns reasserted themselves. I wonder, incidentally, how many economics journalists in the UK actually remember the time before neoliberalism? ..."
"... Consuming corporate media is increasingly a bizarro-world experience. Even something like the Trump scandal/constitutional crisis/investigation seems like the arrogant internecine warfare of corrupt factions of the establishment. Meanwhile, Americans are increasingly living out of their cars. ..."
"... 1. Oligarchs having captured thoroughly the media, the legislatures and the judiciary, (as well as large parts of what might be construed as "liberal" political organisations e.g. the Democratic Party of the USA) ..."
May 30, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on May 29, 2018 by Yves Smith Yves here. I'm sure readers could write a US version of this timeline despite the fact that we had a second crisis and bailout, that of way more foreclosures than were warranted, thanks to lousy incentives to mortgage servicers and lack of political will to intervene, and foreclosure fraud to cover up for chain of title failures.

By Laura Basu, a Marie Curie Research Fellow at Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Culture. Originally published at openDemocracy

It hasn't escaped many people's attention that, a decade after the biggest economic crash of a generation, the economic model producing that meltdown has not exactly been laid to rest. The crisis in the NHS and the Carillion and Capital scandals are testament to that. Sociologist Colin Crouch wrote a book in 2011 about the 'strange non-death of neoliberalism', arguing that the neoliberal model is centred on the needs of corporations and that corporate power actually intensified after the 2008 financial meltdown. This power has been maintained with the help of a robust ideology centred on free markets (though in reality markets are captured by corporations and are maintained by the state) and the superiority of the private sector over the public sector. It advocates privatisation, cuts in public spending, deregulation and tax cuts for businesses and high earners.

This ideology spread through the media from the 1980s , and the media have continued to play a key role in its persistence through a decade of political and economic turmoil since the 2008 crash. They have done this largely via an acute amnesia about the causes of the crisis, an amnesia that helped make policies like austerity, privatisation and corporate tax breaks appear as common sense responses to the problems.

This amnesia struck at dizzying speed. My research carried out at Cardiff University shows that in 2008 at the time of the banking collapse, the main explanations given for the problems were financial misconduct ('greedy bankers'), systemic problems with the financial sector, and the faulty free-market model. These explanations were given across the media spectrum, with even the Telegraph and Sun complaining about a lack of regulation . Banking reform was advocated across the board.

Fast-forward to April 2009, barely 6 months after the announcement of a £500 billion bank bailout. A media hysteria was nowraging around Britain's deficit . While greedy bankers were still taking some of the blame, the systemic problems in finance and the problems with the free-market model had been forgotten. Instead, public profligacy had become the dominant explanation for the deficit. The timeline of the crisis was being erased and rewritten.

Correspondingly, financial and corporate regulation were forgotten. Instead, austerity became the star of the show, eclipsing all other possible solutions to the crisis. As a response to the deficit, austerity was mentioned 2.5 as many times as the next most covered policy-response option, which was raising taxes on the wealthy. Austerity was mentioned 18 times more frequently than tackling tax avoidance and evasion. Although coverage of austerity was polarized, no media outlet rejected it outright, and even the left-leaning press implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) backed 'austerity lite'.

In 2010, the Conservative-Lib Dem government announced £99 billion in spending cuts and £29 billion in tax increases per year by 2014-15. Having made these 'tough choices', from 2011 the coalition wanted to focus attention away from austerity and towards growth (which was, oops, being stalled by austerity). To do this, they pursued a zealously 'pro-business' agenda, including privatisation, deregulation, cutting taxes for the highest earners, and cutting corporation tax in 2011, 2012, 2013, and in 2015 and 2016 under a Conservative government.

These measures were a ramped-up version of the kinds of reforms that had produced the crisis in the first place. This fact, however, was forgotten. These 'pro-business' moves were enthusiastically embraced by the media, far more so than austerity. Of the 5 outlets analysed (The BBC, Telegraph, Sun, Guardian and Mirror), only the Guardian rejected them more frequently than endorsing them.

The idea behind these policies is that what's good for business is good for everyone. If businesses are handed more resources, freed from regulation and handed tax breaks, they will be encouraged to invest in the economy, creating jobs and growth. The rich are therefore 'job creators' and 'wealth creators'.

This is despite the fact that these policies have an impressive fail rate. Business investment and productivity growth remain low, as corporations spend the savings not on training and innovation but on share buy-backs and shareholder dividends. According to the Financial Times, in 2014, the top 500 US companies returned 95 per cent of their profits to shareholders in dividends and buybacks. Meanwhile, inequality is spiralling and in the UK more than a million people are using food banks .

Poverty and inequality, meanwhile, attracted surprising little media attention. Of my sample of 1,133 media items, only 53 had a primary focus on living standards, poverty or inequality. This confirms other researchshowing a lack of media attention to these issues . Of these 53 items, the large majority were from the Guardian and Mirror. The coverage correctly identified austerity as a primary cause of these problems. However, deeper explanations were rare. Yet again, the link back to the 2008 bank meltdown wasn't made, let alone the long-term causes of that meltdown. Not only that, the coverage failed even to identify the role of most of the policies pursued since the onset of the crisis in producing inequality – such as the bank bailouts, quantitative easing, and those 'pro-business' measures like corporation tax cuts and privatisation.

And so it seems we are living with a hyper-amnesia , in which it is increasingly difficult to reconstruct timelines and distinguish causes from effects. This amnesia has helped trap us in a neoliberal groundhog day. The political consensus around the free market model finally seems to be breaking. If we are to find a way out, we will need to have a lot more conversations about how to organise both our media systems and our economies.


Summer , May 29, 2018 at 10:31 am

Tick-Tock.
It depends. Do you believe the worst can be avoided or do you believe the world is already knee deep in all the things we're told to be afraid will happen? There is a big difference between organizing for reform and organizing to break capture.

makedoanmend , May 29, 2018 at 10:42 am

" Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand "

W.B. Yeats

I suppose we can take some succour from the fact that WWI (and the Spanish flu) seemed to be a harbinger of worse to come but we're still here

Doug , May 29, 2018 at 11:21 am

The hyper-amnesia ground hog problem described in the post happens, in part, because the 'centre continues to hold'. It demonstrates the center can, and does, hold. We don't want the centre to hold. We want it to disappear and get replaced by policies and perspectives keen on an economy (and society) that works for all, not just some

makedoanmend , May 29, 2018 at 11:33 am

I know what you're saying and I tend to agree. But the centre to Yeats (my interpretation, anyway) is that there is a cultural centre both apart from but also part of the social centre, and when that centre goes all hell breaks loose. Meaning of events becomes very confused or impossible to understand on many levels.

Then, it's often the little people (and don't go making jokes about leprechauns) that get crushed in the confusion.

Pam of Nantucket , May 29, 2018 at 10:32 am

We should reflect about the root causes of why our information is not informing us. How can decades go by with the meme "smoking has not been conclusively proven to cause cancer" or now "the science of climate change is inconclusive", not to mention countless similar horror stories in pharma. Bullshit about the effectiveness of supply side economics is no different.

Somehow we collectively need to expect and demand more objectivity from our information sources. We fall for the fox guarding hen houses scam over and over, from TARP bailouts, to FDA approvals to WMD claims. Not sure of the answer, but I know from talking with my boomer parents, skepticism about information sources is not in the DNA of many information consumers.

Isotope_C14 , May 29, 2018 at 11:52 am

"One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It's simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we've been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back."

― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

One of Sagan's best, I loaned this out to a not terribly thoughtful acquaintance and I was told it was "too preachy".

I guess Sagan proves himself correct time and time again.

Off The Street , May 29, 2018 at 2:56 pm

Bamboozlers often look to bezzle. That should give anyone pause.

steelhead23 , May 29, 2018 at 12:43 pm

It is also worth noting that a number of newspapers lauded Hitler's rise to power – they overlooked violence against Jews because the trains ran on time. Nor should we ignore disinformation campaigns, led by newspapers (e.g. Hearst and cannabis). In general, each media outlet is a reflection of its owners, most of whom are rich and adverse to any suggestion that we "tax the rich."

sharonsj , May 29, 2018 at 1:59 pm

I've come to the conclusion that we don't have a media anymore. I was watching MSNBC this AM discuss the "missing" 1500 immigrant children. The agency responsible says it calls the people who now have the kids, but most of the people don't call back within the 30-day requirement period.

Now the next logical questions to ask the rep would be: What happens after 30 days? Do you keep calling them? Do send out investigators?" But are these questions asked? No. Instead we get speculation or non-answers. It's the same with every issue.

The internet is not any better. Many articles are just repeating what appears elsewhere with no one checking the facts, even on respected sites. I also got a chain email today regarding petition for a Constitutional Convention. The impetus is a list of grievances ranging from "a congressman can retire after just one term with a full pension" to "children of congressmen don't have to pay back college loans." I already knew most of the claims weren't true but the 131 recipients of the organization I belong to didn't. I did find out that this chain email has been circulating on the internet for five years and it is the work of a conservative groups whose real aim is to stop abortion and make Christianity the law of the land. I was not surprised.

I have said for years that there is no news on the news. And I have repeated this meme for just as long: There is a reason why America is called Planet Stupid.

lewis e , May 29, 2018 at 2:43 pm

On the 1500

https://twitter.com/jduffyrice/status/1000927903759110144

JBird , May 29, 2018 at 3:38 pm

Now the next logical questions to ask the rep would be: What happens after 30 days? Do you keep calling them? Do send out investigators?" But are these questions asked? No. Instead we get speculation or non-answers. It's the same with every issue.

Even competent reporting takes practice, time, and effort, even money sometimes. The same with even half way competent governing. Neither is rewarded, and are often punished, for doing nowadays; asking as a follow-up question "did you call the local police or send over a pair of ICE officers just to politely knock on the door?" Police do people checks all the time. "I haven't see so and so for a week", or "my relative hasn't returned my calls for a month, can you?" It is possible that the paperwork just got lost and asking the guardians/family some questions personally would solve.

But all that is boring bovine excrement, which is just not done.

Jeremy Grimm , May 29, 2018 at 2:41 pm

This post is disheartening in so many ways. Start with "media hysteria" -- adding yet another glib coinage to hide a lack of explanation behind a simple but innapt analogy like the endless "addictions" from which personifications of various abstract entities suffer.

This coinage presupposes a media sufficiently free to be possessed by hysteria. Dancing puppets might with some art appear "hysterical". And the strange non-death of Neoliberalsm isn't so strange or poorly understood in 2018 though the detailed explanation hasn't reached as many as one might have hoped, including the authors of this brief post. Consider their unhappy mashup of thoughts in a key sentence of the first paragraph: "This power has been maintained with the help of a robust ideology centred on free markets (though in reality markets are captured by corporations and are maintained by the state) and the superiority of the private sector over the public sector." The tail of this sentence obviates the rest of the post. And we ought not ignore the detail that Neoliberalism believes in the Market as a solution to all problems -- NOT the 'free market' of neoclassical economics or libertarian ideology.

From "media hysteria" the post postulates "amnesia" of a public convinced of "greedy bankers" who need regulation. In the U.S. the propaganda was more subtle -- at least in my opinion. We were fed the "bad apples" theory mocked in a brief series of media clips presented in the documentary film "Inside Job". Those clips suggest a better explanation for the swift media transitions from banking reform to balanced budgets and austerity with more tax cuts for the wealthy than "amnesia" or "hyper-amnesia". The media Corporations are tightly controlled by the same forces that captured Corporations and -- taking the phrase "the superiority of the private sector over the public sector" in the sense that a superior directs an inferior [rather than the intended(?) sense] -- direct and essentially own our governments.

orangecats , May 29, 2018 at 10:09 pm

"skepticism about information sources is not in the DNA of many information consumers"

This.

bruce wilder , May 29, 2018 at 11:37 am

The essayist complains that poverty and the manifest failures of neoliberalism get little critical attention, but she leads off, "It hasn't escaped many people's attention . . ."

The remarkable thing about public discourse and political and economic news reporting is how superficial it has become, so devoid of a foundation of any kind in history or theory. You can not have an effective critique of society or the economy or anything, if you do not see a system with a history and think it matters. Neoliberalism has become what people say when they think none of it really matters; it is all just noise.

Summer , May 29, 2018 at 4:48 pm

"Neoliberalism has become what people say when they think none of it really matters; it is all just noise."

There is a connection there with movies like Deadpool 2.

JohnnyGL , May 29, 2018 at 1:35 pm

Another thing to recall was how quickly talk of nationalizing banks evaporated. Even Paul Krugman, among others were supporting the idea that "real capitalists nationalize".

Once LIBOR came down, and the lending channels began to reopen, the happy talk ensued and the amnesia kicked in strongly.

I also think that the crisis of neoliberalism echos a problem caused by capitalism, itself. I think David Harvey stated that "capitalism doesn't solve problems, it often just moves them around".

The financial crisis and austerity have now manifested themselves into a media crisis of elites and elite legitimacy (BREXIT, Trump's election, etc). The ability to manufacture consent is running into increased difficulty. I don't think the financial crisis narrative shift helped very much at all. A massive crime requires an equally massive cover-up, naturally.

WheresOurTeddy , May 29, 2018 at 1:41 pm

Why, it's almost as if 90% of all media outlets are owned by 5 multibillion dollar conglomerates, controlled by the top 0.1%, for the purposes of protecting their unearned parasitic power, and the employees making six-to-low-seven figures are on the Upton Sinclair "paycheck demands I not understand it" model.

Or it's amnesia.

Matt Stoller tweet from August 2017, as germane now as ever: "The political crisis we are facing is simple. American commerce, law, finance, and politics is organized around cheating people."

maria gostrey , May 29, 2018 at 2:13 pm

this is why frank sobotka got my vote in the 2016 election:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=T-j5XWo1fPI#

KLG , May 29, 2018 at 9:56 pm

A big thumbs up for that! Sobotka was a hero in very dark times.

As my brother-in-law puts it: The American Dream used to be "work hard in a useful job, raise a family of citizens, retire with dignity, and hand the controls to the next generation." Now? It's just "Win the lottery."

Problem is, "The Lottery" is right out of Shirley Jackson.

hemeantwell , May 29, 2018 at 3:12 pm

Or it's amnesia.

Agreed. The author is inclined to interpret at the level of cumulative effect -- apparent forgetting -- and to ignore how fear -- of editors, of owners -- plays any role. Her proposed unveiling of a coercive process becomes yet another veiling of it.

precariat , May 29, 2018 at 3:16 pm

There is not a writer or thinker I agree with more than Matt Stoller.

Avalon Sparks , May 29, 2018 at 5:33 pm

He's one I agree with too. His writings on monopoly activity are excellent.

Pamela More , May 29, 2018 at 9:57 pm

This.

It's a feature, not a bug.

Alex morfesis , May 29, 2018 at 1:54 pm

Sadly the narrative of details is lost to history The German landesbanks who had guaranteed payments in loan pools in the USA were allowed to skirt thru crash and burn by the agencies (moody s&p and your little fitch too) fake and shake ratings process But all things German are magical Having lived thru NYC Mac Corp effective bankruptcy of man hat tan..

it was amusing watching the hand wave given when the city of Berlin actually defaulted .

Ah reality I remember it welll

Eustache De Saint Pierre , May 29, 2018 at 2:23 pm

My own view for what it is worth is that the Guardian pays some lip service to the plight of the UK's " Deplorables ", but like most of it's readership does not really give a damn. A state of being exacerbated by Brexit similar to the situation in the US with Trump. It's much easier to imagine hordes of racist morons who inhabit places that you have no direct experience of, than to actually go & take a look. It's also very easy to be in favour of mass immigration if it does not effect your employment, housing & never likely to spoil your early morning dawn chorus with a call to prayer.

Unfortunately it has been left to the Right to complain about such things as the Rotherham abuse scandal, which involved a couple of thousand young girls, who I suspect are worth less to some than perhaps being mistaken as a racist. There are also various groups made up of Muslim women who protest about Sharia councils behaviour to their sex, but nobody in the media is at all interested.

George Orwell noted that the middle class Left couldn't handle dealing with real working class people, although there isn't the same huge gulf these days, I believe there is still a vestige of it due to the British class system. The Fabians set up shop in the East End around the turn of the last century & directly rubbed shoulders with the likes of Coster Mongers – a combination that led to a strike that was one of the first success stories in the attempt to get a few more crumbs than what was usually allowed to fall from the top table.

As for Mirror readers, I suspect that the majority are either the voiceless or are too busy fighting to avoid the fate of those who find themselves availing of food banks, while being labelled as lazy scroungers all having expensive holidays, twenty kids, about thirty grand a year, while being subjected to a now updated more vicious regime of that which was illustrated by " I, Daniel Blake ".

If Neoliberalism is now being noticed I imagine that it is because of it's success in working it's way up the food chain. After all these same Middle classes for the most part did not care much for the plight of the poor during those Victorian values. Many could not wait to employ maids of all work who slaved for up to fourteen hours a day with only Sunday afternoon's off. The Suffragettes had a real problem with this as their relatively comfortable lives would soon descend into drudgery without their servants.

Coincidentally, the NYT article on Austerity Britain is the closest I have read to an accurate picture that I have seen for a good while.

David , May 29, 2018 at 2:39 pm

It's also not a new thing. British media worship of neoliberalism has been growing since the 1980s, at the same time as newspapers have been closing and media sources of all kinds laying off their staff. 2008 was a temporary blip, and since the average journalist has the attention span of a hamster, it was back to usual a few months later. Once the crash stopped being "news" old patterns reasserted themselves. I wonder, incidentally, how many economics journalists in the UK actually remember the time before neoliberalism?

precariat , May 29, 2018 at 2:54 pm

"And so it seems we are living with a hyper-amnesia"

Consuming corporate media is increasingly a bizarro-world experience. Even something like the Trump scandal/constitutional crisis/investigation seems like the arrogant internecine warfare of corrupt factions of the establishment. Meanwhile, Americans are increasingly living out of their cars.

The corporate media forgets the causes of the worst economic crisis since the Depression, and it put Trump in a position to be elected. Trump was the Republican nominee because he was relentlessly promoted by the media -- because ratings, because neoliberal rigged markets.

Break up the media monopolies, roll back Citizens United, enforce the fairness doctrine.

Pamela More , May 29, 2018 at 9:55 pm

Agree.

Slight edit

" Consuming corporate media is increasingly a bizarro-world experience the Trump scandal/constitutional crisis/investigation is nothing other than internecine warfare between corrupt factions of the establishment."

JBird , May 29, 2018 at 3:24 pm

I think there are several issues here for Americans, which can partially be applied to the Europeans.

First, the American nation as whole only has short term memory. It is our curse.

Second, those with the money spend a lot of money, time and effort the late 19th century covering up, massaging, or sometimes just creating lies about the past. American and British businesses, governments, and even private organizations are masters at advertising and propaganda. Perhaps the best on Earth.

Third, the people and the institutions that would counter this somewhat, independent unions, multiple independent media, tenured professors at functioning schools, even non-neoliberalized churches, and social organizations like bowling, crocheting, or heck, the Masons would all maintain a separate continuing body of memory and knowledge.

Lastly, we are all freaking terrified somewhere inside us. Those relative few who are not are fools, and most people, whatever their faults, truly are not fools. Even if they act like one. Whatever your beliefs, position, or knowledge, the knowing of the oncoming storm is in you. Money or poverty may not save you. The current set of lies, while they are lies, gives everyone a comfortable known position of supporting or opposing in the same old, same old while avoiding thinking about whatever catastrophe(s) and radical changes we all know are coming. The lies are more relaxing than the truth.

Even if you are one of society's homeless losers, who would welcome some changes, would you be comfortable thinking about just how likely it is to be very traumatic? Hiding behind begging for change might be more comfortable.

precariat , May 29, 2018 at 4:25 pm

"Even if you are one of society's homeless losers, who would welcome some changes, would you be comfortable thinking about just how likely it is to be very traumatic? Hiding behind begging for change might be more comfortable."

On the contrary, the upheaval the "losers" have been subjected to will be turned around and used as a just cause for rectification. Trumatic consequences can be unpredictable and this is why society should have socio-economic checks and balances to prevent an economic system running amok. Commonsense that necessitates amnesia for neoliberalism to seem viable.

Peter Phillips , May 29, 2018 at 4:54 pm

Facing the current scenario in which we have:

1. Oligarchs having captured thoroughly the media, the legislatures and the judiciary, (as well as large parts of what might be construed as "liberal" political organisations e.g. the Democratic Party of the USA)

2. the seemingly inexorable trend to wealth concentration in the hands of said oligarchs

..one asks oneself.."What is one to do?"

My own response, (and I acknowledge straight off its limited impact), is to do the following:

1. support financially in the limited ways possible media channels such as Naked Capitalism that do their level best to debunk the lies and deceptions perpetrated by the oligarchs

2. support financially social organisations and structures that are genuinely citizen based and focused on a sustainable future for all

3. Do very very limited monitoring of the oligarch's "lies and deceptions" (one needs to understand one's enemies to have a chance to counter them) and try on a personal level, in one's day to day interactions, to present counter arguments

We cannot throw in the towel. We must direct our limited financial resources and personal efforts to constructive change, as, for the 99%..there are no "bunker" to run to when the "proverbial" hits the fan..as it must in the fullness of time.

Spring Texan , May 29, 2018 at 8:21 pm

Yep. One has to go ahead and do what one can. It all makes a difference. Thanks for your strategy, Peter Phillips. Limited impact is not no impact, and we don't have the luxury of despairing because there is only a bit we can do.

sgt_doom , May 29, 2018 at 8:10 pm

Yet this has been going on forever – – this past Sunday, for the first time I recall, I finally heard an accurate Real News story filed on the Bobby Kennedy assassination (50th anniversary coming this June 6, 2018) by the BBC World Service.
They actually noted that there were multiple shooters, that Sen. Kennedy was shot from behind, not the front where Sirhan was located, etc., etc.
I guess we do occasionally witness Real News – – – just that it takes 50 years or so to be reported . . .

[Apr 24, 2018] Home Prices In 80% Of US Cities Grew 2x Faster Than Wages... And Then There Is San Francisco

Apr 24, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

In February, 16 of 20 major cities experienced home price growth of 5.4% or higher: double the average wage growth. And then there was San Francisco ...

[Apr 24, 2018] Lyapanov's work on the inherent instability of complex systems which was used as a basis of Chaos Theory, is enough in itself to relegate predictions based on a linear model when applied to the complex to be thrown into the dustbin of history.

Apr 24, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Eustache De Saint Pierre , April 21, 2018 at 6:13 am

Lyapanov's work on the inherent instability of complex systems which was used as a basis of Chaos Theory, is enough in itself to relegate predictions based on a linear model when applied to the complex to be thrown into the dustbin of history.

LTCM L.P. Was I believe wiped out due to a combination of the 90's Asian & Russian crisis' ( karma in the case of the latter ? ). It would be impossible to discover which tiny flap of the butterfly's wings initiated the tipping point or to predict it beforehand.

But as long as it works for those driving it.

[Mar 23, 2018] Jim Kunstler Warns An Unspooling Has Begun

"Doom porn" argument aside it was almost 10 years since the last financial crisis. And neoliberalism tend to produce financial crisis with amazing regularity. This is the nature of the beast. So timing might be wrong, but the danger is here.
Mar 23, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Tendrils of evidence point to a coordinated campaign that included the Obama White House and the Democratic National Committee starring Hillary Clinton. Robert Mueller even comes into the picture both at the Uranium One end of the story and the other end concerning the activities of his old friend, Mr. Comey. Most tellingly of all, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was not shoved out of office but remains shrouded in silence and mystery as this melodrama plays out, tick, tick, tick.

None of this makes President Trump a more reassuring figure. His lack of decorum remains as awesome as his apparent lack of common sense. But he has labored against the most intense campaign of coordinated calumny ever seen against a chief executive and his fortitude, at least, is impressive. What is unspooling for him, and the body politic, are the nation's finances, and the dog of an economy that gets wagged by finance. Yesterday's 724-point dump in the Dow Jones Industrial Average is liable to not be a fluke event, but the beginning of a cascade into the pitiless maw of reality - the reality that just about everything is grossly mispriced.

There is plenty of dysfunction in plain sight to suggest that the financial markets can't bear the strain of unreality anymore. Between the burgeoning trade wars and the adoption in congress this week of a fiscally suicidal spending bill, you'd want to put your fingers in your ears to not be deafened by the roar of markets tumbling. A 40 to 75 percent drop in the equity markets will leave a lot of one-percent big fish gasping on the beach as the tide rolls out. But the minnows and anchovies will suffer too, as regular economic activity declines in response to tumbling markets. And then the Federal Reserve will ride to the rescue with QE-4, which will very sharply drive the dollar toward worthlessness. The result: a nation with a sucking chest wound, whirling around the drain en route to political pandemonium.

DillyDilly Fri, 03/23/2018 - 14:28 Permalink

Look on the bright side Kuntsler ~ You'll keep selling doom porn articles & newsletters so you can keep playing the $2 exacta & daily double tickets at the Saratoga Springs late summer meet.

Maybe you'll hit the pick 6

FreeShitter -> DillyDilly Fri, 03/23/2018 - 14:29 Permalink

It must be friday, cuz here comes a Kuntser piece.

[Feb 11, 2018] Justice department's No 3 official to take Walmart's top legal job

Feb 11, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Revolving door in action

Brand attracted interest because of her potential to assume a key role in the Trump-Russia investigation. The official overseeing the special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, the deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, has been repeatedly criticized by Trump. If Rosenstein had been fired or quit, oversight would have fallen to Brand. That job would now fall to the solicitor general, Noel Francisco.

"She felt this was an opportunity she couldn't turn down," her friend and former colleague Jamie Gorelick said. Walmart sought Brand to be head of global corporate governance at the retail giant, a position Gorelick said has legal and policy responsibilities that will cater to her strengths.
"It really seems to have her name on it," Gorelick said.

[Feb 07, 2018] Epochal Stock Market Flash Crash Reconnects Stocks and Bonds, Portends End of Fake Recovery

Notable quotes:
"... Yes, fundamentally, a lot of flaws are built in to how the markets operate in a "financially engineered" manner, but it blew for the simple reason that interest rates nudged upward at the end of January as soon as the Federal Reserve got serious about its quantitative squeezing. That strongly supports my central thesis of this blog that this economy, built on caverns of debt and riddled with market design flaws, is too fragile to absorb any reduction in the Fed's balance sheet. ..."
"... Carl Icahn says he expects stock markets to bounce back after the massive sell-off Friday and Monday, while warning that current market volatility is a harbinger of things to come . The volatility of recent weeks is cause for concern, Icahn said, adding that he doesn't remember a two-week period as turbulent as this one. He said the problem is that too much money is flowing into the index funds, where investors don't know what they're actually investing in. ..."
"... "Passive investing is the bubble right now, and that's a great danger," he said. Eventually, that will implode and could lead to a crisis bigger than in 2009, he added. ..."
"... Risk parity funds. Volatility-targeting programs. Statistical arbitrage. Sometimes the U.S. stock market seems like a giant science project, one that can quickly turn hazardous for its human inhabitants. ..."
"... You didn't need an engineering degree to tell something was amiss Monday. While it's impossible to say for sure what was at work when the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell as much as 1,597 points, the worst part of the downdraft felt to many like the machines run amok. For 15 harrowing minutes just after 3 p.m. in New York a deluge of sell orders came so fast that it seemed like nothing breathing could've been responsible. ..."
"... The result was a gut check of epic proportion for investors . "We are proactively calling up our clients and discussing that a 1,600-point intraday drop is due more to algorithms and high-frequency quant trading than macro events or humans running swiftly to the nearest fire exit ." ..."
"... "What was frightening was the speed at which the market tanked," said Walter "Bucky" Hellwig, Birmingham, Alabama-based senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management . " The drop in the morning was caused by humans, but the free-fall in the afternoon was caused by the machines. It brought back the same reaction that we had in 2010, which was 'What the heck is going on here?" ..."
"... Particular suspicion landed on trading programs tied to volatility , mathematical measures of which exploded as the day progressed . ( Newsmax ) ..."
"... The machines that now run the stock market are out of control. They do the bidding for us, but their algorithms have been designed by college sprouts who have never seen a falling market. ..."
"... Most dangerous of all, they're self-programming. They rewrite their own algorithms based on their successes and failures so that even their programmers no longer know why the machines are doing what they are doing. Even if one group of programmers does know exactly what its own algorithms are doing, they certainly don't know what is in all the others and, therefore, how they might interact to self-reinforce wrong actions. ..."
"... They don't exist in one room where you can pull a circuit breaker and disconnect them from the market. They exist in office buildings by the hundreds of thousands all over the world. Even the decisions and bids that are made by humans doing their own thinking are placed through the machines, so there is usually no way to know if a single bid coming through is by a human or is machine generated. ..."
"... The fifteen-minute, 900-point drop on Friday was a mere foreshock of that, too. We've already had a few flash-crash foreshocks that none of the experts can understand, but it hasn't slowed us from moving deeper and deeper into the machines' labyrinth. Nor have we even begun to try to work out some of the design flaws that caused those initial flash crashes. ..."
"... If the market technowizards have actually managed to get all the robo-traders unplugged or quickly reprogrammed, maybe the slide will stabilize before it becomes an all-out crash. They attempted that with some success today by stopping all volatility trading before the market opened, which I'll get into below. But, even if they've gotten the ill-programmed robots off to the side or have fixed their sizzling little heads, the market that opens tomorrow will be a whole new market -- no longer one that hyperventilates on the fumes of hope, but one that has relearned how to fear risk. ..."
Feb 07, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Yes, fundamentally, a lot of flaws are built in to how the markets operate in a "financially engineered" manner, but it blew for the simple reason that interest rates nudged upward at the end of January as soon as the Federal Reserve got serious about its quantitative squeezing. That strongly supports my central thesis of this blog that this economy, built on caverns of debt and riddled with market design flaws, is too fragile to absorb any reduction in the Fed's balance sheet.

And that's why I was able to time when the first crash would be likely to hit. It's simple: When is the Fed scheduled to start getting serious in its Great Unwind? January. What week did they actually do it in? The last week of January. Kaboom!

The Fed cannot ever unwind. It will try because it believes it can, but kaboom! We'll find ways to recover from this first shock over what happens to interest when they stop rolling over government debt. The government will adapt. It will find other buyers. But the cost will go up. And the kabooms will keep happening. I've always maintained that the failure of the recovery is baked in by design and will show when the Fed's artificial life support is actually withdrawn. (Whether it is there by intentional design or design flaw, I'll leave up to one's conspiratorial imagination, as it doesn't matter to me; both get you to the same place: kaboom!)

Some bigger voices than mine are saying the same thing:

Carl Icahn says he expects stock markets to bounce back after the massive sell-off Friday and Monday, while warning that current market volatility is a harbinger of things to come . The volatility of recent weeks is cause for concern, Icahn said, adding that he doesn't remember a two-week period as turbulent as this one. He said the problem is that too much money is flowing into the index funds, where investors don't know what they're actually investing in.

"Passive investing is the bubble right now, and that's a great danger," he said. Eventually, that will implode and could lead to a crisis bigger than in 2009, he added.

"When you start using the market as a casino, that's a huge mistake," Icahn said. (" Carl Icahn Says Market Turn Is 'Rumbling' of Earthquake Ahead ")

The fact that the market has completed its de-evolution into a casino, rather than a place to buy ownership in a company, is part of the rickety framework I've described for our economy -- part of what makes it easy to shove over with a nudge in interest because the entire economy has been made utterly dependent on low interest.

... ... ...

The mechanized meltdown -- machines rule and drool

"Dow Drops 900 Points in 10 Minutes as Machines Run Amok on Wall Street"

Risk parity funds. Volatility-targeting programs. Statistical arbitrage. Sometimes the U.S. stock market seems like a giant science project, one that can quickly turn hazardous for its human inhabitants.

You didn't need an engineering degree to tell something was amiss Monday. While it's impossible to say for sure what was at work when the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell as much as 1,597 points, the worst part of the downdraft felt to many like the machines run amok. For 15 harrowing minutes just after 3 p.m. in New York a deluge of sell orders came so fast that it seemed like nothing breathing could've been responsible.

The result was a gut check of epic proportion for investors . "We are proactively calling up our clients and discussing that a 1,600-point intraday drop is due more to algorithms and high-frequency quant trading than macro events or humans running swiftly to the nearest fire exit ."

"What was frightening was the speed at which the market tanked," said Walter "Bucky" Hellwig, Birmingham, Alabama-based senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management . " The drop in the morning was caused by humans, but the free-fall in the afternoon was caused by the machines. It brought back the same reaction that we had in 2010, which was 'What the heck is going on here?"

It may never be clear what accelerated the tumble -- people still aren't sure what caused the flash crash on May 6, 2010. Unlike then, most of the theorizing about today's events centered not on the market's plumbing or infrastructure, but on the automated quant strategies that gained popularity with the advent of electronic markets last decade. Particular suspicion landed on trading programs tied to volatility , mathematical measures of which exploded as the day progressed . ( Newsmax )

There is some basis for saying, "this looks like a technically driven selloff," but this is another problem for which there is no solution, and one I've written about here in the past. No solution because they cannot even identify the problem back in 2010! You cannot solve what you cannot identify.

The machines that now run the stock market are out of control. They do the bidding for us, but their algorithms have been designed by college sprouts who have never seen a falling market. They try to trick each other, and try to bid the market up. They're an accelerant. Most dangerous of all, they're self-programming. They rewrite their own algorithms based on their successes and failures so that even their programmers no longer know why the machines are doing what they are doing. Even if one group of programmers does know exactly what its own algorithms are doing, they certainly don't know what is in all the others and, therefore, how they might interact to self-reinforce wrong actions.

They don't exist in one room where you can pull a circuit breaker and disconnect them from the market. They exist in office buildings by the hundreds of thousands all over the world. Even the decisions and bids that are made by humans doing their own thinking are placed through the machines, so there is usually no way to know if a single bid coming through is by a human or is machine generated. Therefore, there is not really any way to shut the machines entirely off if they get out of control because their disjointed, convoluted, false-bidding, intentionally tricking, interacting and over-reacting zillions of intercommunications per second all around the world add up to a sum that is far more evil than its innumerable mischievously and deviously conceived parts. The system is built from the core out factious parts intended to trick each other upward, but what happens if this amalgamated beast starts tricking itself downward? Who has the authority or the controls to stop the collapse in the microseconds in which it may originate and climax?

So, FUNDAMENTALLY, the market system, itself, is deeply and inexorably flawed by intentional human design. It wasn't designed to destroy the world. It was merely designed with its own sinful machinations because of the flaws of its designers. The whole beastly thing is of a corrupted nature because of all the people who hoped to use their machines to out-game all the other people's machines. It is a network of sparks and tricks. However, because it can multiply its devilish intentions millions of times per nanosecond, we have no idea how much market carnage it might create if all the algos one day just happen to line up in the wrong direction (wrong direction for humans, anyway).

The fifteen-minute, 900-point drop on Friday was a mere foreshock of that, too. We've already had a few flash-crash foreshocks that none of the experts can understand, but it hasn't slowed us from moving deeper and deeper into the machines' labyrinth. Nor have we even begun to try to work out some of the design flaws that caused those initial flash crashes.

Other problems with the machines emerged when trading became so frantic that the sheer volume was frying the brains of many computer networks, causing the financial services of several trading companies to go offline.

Investment firms T. Rowe Price Group Inc. and Vanguard Group apologized to customers for sporadic outages on their websites during the Dow industrials' 1600-point downturn . Online brokerages TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab also experienced issues. ( Newsmax )

The computers couldn't handle all the other computers.

If the market technowizards have actually managed to get all the robo-traders unplugged or quickly reprogrammed, maybe the slide will stabilize before it becomes an all-out crash. They attempted that with some success today by stopping all volatility trading before the market opened, which I'll get into below. But, even if they've gotten the ill-programmed robots off to the side or have fixed their sizzling little heads, the market that opens tomorrow will be a whole new market -- no longer one that hyperventilates on the fumes of hope, but one that has relearned how to fear risk.


Iconoclast421 Feb 7, 2018 1:26 PM Permalink

All this talk about crashes when the DOW is still up YTD...

Eman Laer -> Iconoclast421 Feb 7, 2018 2:51 PM Permalink

Right. Who would find it interesting or useful to discuss a market crash because the market is up for the year? *wipes drool*

Son of Loki Feb 7, 2018 1:36 PM Permalink

At some point when things actually do correct (or crash as some call it), bond yields will soar.

taketheredpill Feb 7, 2018 2:11 PM Permalink

me feelings on how this ends....

So far haven't seen anything that makes me expect US 10's to break the top of the 30-year yield downtrend channel (driven by 30+ dis-inflationary years of borrowing growth from the future).

So if no break-out on US 10s, then what happened in previous years when US 10s touched the top of the channel?

Equities break down, slowly at first then OMG faster. Bonds rally.

The Fed makes noises about cutting rates but markets ignore.

Fed cuts rates and markets ignore. US 10s test previous yield lows again.

Fed goes "all in" with Helicopter money. End of $ and US Treasury market.

Bye!

Bemused Observer Feb 7, 2018 2:48 PM Permalink

Everything will hit the wall. Try to 'time' it if you must, but just be aware that those last few yards come up on you real quick...that's why people always get nailed by these events. (I'm always amused by the ones who seem to think that they can and will time it right...do they really believe all the folks who got nailed in the past were just stupid?...What kind of over-inflated ego would even entertain that idea?)

If it WERE possible to do that, there would BE no downturns, ever. These things do the damage they do because you CAN'T time them. Predict, yes, but not time.

Haitian Snackout Feb 7, 2018 3:16 PM Permalink

Regardless of what marky is doing, Dave's quite correct. The longtime flooring of interest rates has created a world dependent on it continuing. Maybe if it had something more going for it things would be different. The unwinding of the fed balance sheet was always just a theory. No one knew if or when it would happen. Or more important if it was even possible. But the car has no reverse gear and many people have spoken about this. That we will only hear a grinding noise if they try to shift into reverse. For myself, I'm certainly no expert, but I know enough about the housing market to know that somewhere around 2.80 on the ten year the increase will certainly be felt. And that once margin interest rates reaches parity with dividend yields, or sooner, that one goes pear shaped as well. The engine that has propelled housing prices to several times their real value ( granted, not everywhere ) is now in reverse. And that, as Dave has noted, is only the tip of the iceberg of total debt. And even if they reverse course, the debt saturation is so widespread the patient would only barely limp forward from here. There also are likely pension funds and others in the ICU. We won't know about everything right away.

Wild tree -> Haitian Snackout Feb 7, 2018 4:47 PM Permalink

Yes HS, Dave called it out correctly IMHO. Here is what he wrote in three sentences that is the sum of the whole article, and why the seeds of our destruction as a country, and world have been fervently watered since 2008.

"No, the fundamentals do not provide reason for optimism. They provide reason for grave concern. As I've been writing all along, the greatest fundamental that is exerting pressure right now is the massive debt that the entire global economy is built on."

The steam train is on the track, clickety-clack, clickety-clack,

Picking up speed as it heads down the mountain, clickety-clack, clickety-clack.

People are hanging on for dear life, clickety-clack, clickety-clack,

Won't matter none when the train runs out of track, clickety-clack, clickety-clack.

[Feb 07, 2018] Is the Stock Market Loaded for Bear by Dambisa Moyo

She completely missed the importance of automatic trading algorithms.
Notable quotes:
"... Winner Take All ..."
"... How the West Was Lost ..."
Feb 07, 2018 | www.project-syndicate.org

Market participants could easily be forgiven for their early-year euphoria. After a solid 2017, key macroeconomic data – on unemployment, inflation, and consumer and business sentiment – as well as GDP forecasts all indicated that strong growth would continue in 2018.

The result – in the United States and across most major economies – has been a rare moment of optimism in the context of the last decade. For starters, the macro data are positively synchronized and inflation remains tame. Moreover, the International Monetary Fund's recent upward revision of global growth data came at precisely the point in the cycle when the economy should be showing signs of slowing.

Moreover, stock markets' record highs are no longer relying so much on loose monetary policy for support. Bullishness is underpinned by evidence of a notable uptick in capital investment. In the US, gross domestic private investment rose 5.1% year on year in the fourth quarter of 2017 and is nearly 90% higher than at the trough of the Great Recession, in the third quarter of 2009.

This is emblematic of a deeper resurgence in corporate spending – as witnessed in durable goods orders. New orders for US manufactured durable goods beat expectations, climbing 2.9% month on month to December 2017 and 1.7% in November.

Other data tell a similar story. In 2017, the US Federal Reserve's Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization index recorded its largest calendar year gain since 2010, increasing 3.6%. In addition, US President Donald Trump's reiteration of his pledge to seek $1.5 trillion in spending on infrastructure and public capital programs will further bolster market sentiment.

All of this bullishness will continue to stand in stark contrast to warnings by many world leaders. In just the last few weeks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel cautioned that the current international order is under threat. French President Emmanuel Macron noted that globalization is in the midst of a major crisis, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated that the unrest we see around the world is palpable and "isn't going away."

Whether or not the current correction reflects their fears, the politicians ultimately could be proved right. For one thing, geopolitical risk remains considerable. Bridgewater Associates' Developed World Populism index surged to its highest point since the 1930s in 2017, factoring in populist movements in the US, the United Kingdom, Spain, France and Italy. So long as populism lingers as a political threat, the risk of reactionary protectionist trade policies and higher capital controls will remain heightened, and this could derail economic growth.

Meanwhile the market is mispricing perennial structural challenges, in particular mounting and unsustainable global debt and a dim fiscal outlook, particularly in the US, where the price of this recovery is a growing deficit. In other words, short-term economic gain is being supported by policies that threaten to sink the economy in the longer term.

The Congressional Budget Office, for example, has forecast that the US deficit is on course to triple over the next 30 years, from 2.9% of GDP in 2017 to 9.8% in 2047, "The prospect of such large and growing debt," the CBO cautioned, "poses substantial risks for the nation and presents policymakers with significant challenges."

The schism in outlook between business and political leaders is largely rooted in different time horizons. For the most part, CEOs, hemmed in by the short termism of stock markets, are focused on the next 12 months, whereas politicians are focusing on a more medium-term outlook.

As 2018 progresses, business leaders and market participants should – and undoubtedly will – bear in mind that we are moving ever closer to the date when payment for today's recovery will fall due. The capital market gyrations of recent days suggest that awareness of that inevitable reckoning is already beginning to dawn.

Dambisa Moyo, an economist and author, sits on the board of directors of a number of global corporations. She is the author of Dead Aid , Winner Take All , and How the West Was Lost .

[Feb 07, 2018] Steve Keen Why Did It Take So Long For This Crash To Happen

Might be harbinger of things to come. It's 12 years since the financial crash of 2007. And neoliberalism can't exist without stock market crashes.
Notable quotes:
"... Everyone who's asking "why did the stock market crash Monday?" is asking the wrong question; the real question, Keen exclaims, is "why did it take so long for this crash to happen? " ..."
Feb 07, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com
Originally written at RT, outspoken Aussie economist Steve Keen points out

Everyone who's asking "why did the stock market crash Monday?" is asking the wrong question; the real question, Keen exclaims, is "why did it take so long for this crash to happen? "

The crash itself was significant - Donald Trump's favorite index, the Dow Jones Industrial (DJIA) fell 4.6 percent in one day. This is about four times the standard range of the index - and so according to conventional economics, it should almost never happen.

Of course, mainstream economists are wildly wrong about this, as they have been about almost everything else for some time now. In fact, a four percent fall in the market is unusual, but far from rare: there are well over 100 days in the last century that the Dow Jones tumbled by this much.

Crashes this big tend to happen when the market is massively overvalued, and on that front this crash is no different.

It's like a long-overdue earthquake. Though everyone from Donald Trump down (or should that be "up"?) had regarded Monday's level and the previous day's tranquillity as normal, these were in fact the truly unprecedented events. In particular, the ratio of stock prices to corporate earnings is almost higher than it has ever been.

More To Come?

There is only one time that it's been higher: during the DotCom Bubble, when Robert Shiller's "cyclically adjusted price to earnings" ratio hit the all-time record of 44 to one. That means that the average price of a share on the S&P500 was 44 times the average earnings per share over the previous 10 years (Shiller uses this long time-lag to minimize the effect of Ponzi Scheme firms like Enron). The S&P500 fell more than 11 percent that day, so Monday's fall is minor by comparison. And the market remains seriously overvalued: even if shares fell by 50 percent from today's level, they'd still be twice as expensive as they have been, on average, for the last 140 years.

After the 2000 crash, standard market dynamics led to stocks falling by 50 percent over the following two years, until the rise of the Subprime Bubble pushed them up about 25 percent (from 22 times earnings to 28 times). Then the Subprime Bubble burst in 2007, and shares fell another 50 percent, from 28 times earnings to 14 times.

This was when central banks thought The End of the World Is Nigh, and that they'd be blamed for it. But in fact, when the market bottomed in early 2009, it was only just below the pre-1990 average of 14.5 times earnings.

Safe Havens

That valuation level, before central banks (staffed and run by people with PhDs in mainstream economics) decided that they knew how to manage capitalism, is where the market really should be. It implies a dividend yield of about six percent in real terms, which is about twice what you used to get on a safe asset like government bonds -- which are safe, not because the governments and the politicians and the bureaucrats that run them are saints, but because a government issuing bonds in its own currency can always pay whatever interest level it promises. There's no risk that it can't pay, and it can't go bankrupt, whereas a company might not pay dividends, and it can go bankrupt.

Now shares are trading at a valuation that implies a three percent return, as if they're as safe as government bonds issued by a government which owns the bank that pays interest on those bonds. That's nonsense.

And it's a nonsense for which, ironically, central banks are responsible. The smooth rise in stock market prices which led to the levels that preceded Monday's crash began when central banks decided to rescue the economy by "Quantitative Easing (QE)." They promised to do "whatever it takes" to drive shares up from the entirely reasonable values they reached in late 2009, and did so by buying huge amounts of government bonds back from private banks and other financial institutions (pension funds, insurance companies, etc.). In the USA's case, this amounted to $1 trillion per year -- equal to about seven percent of America's annual output of goods and services (GDP or "gross domestic product"). The Bank of England brought about £200 billion worth, which was an even larger percentage of GDP.

With central banks buying that volume of bonds, private financial institutions found themselves awash with money, and spent it buying other assets to get yields - which meant that QE drove up share prices as banks, pension funds and the like bought them with money created by QE.

Blind Oversight

So this is the first central bank-created stock market bubble in history, and central banks have just had the first stock market crash where the blame is entirely theirs.

Were this a standard, private hysteria and leverage driven bubble, we could well be facing a further 50 percent fall in the market -- like what happened after the DotCom crash. This would bring shares back to the long-term average of 17 times earnings.

Instead, what I believe will happen is that central banks, having recently announced that they intend to end QE, will restart it and try to drive shares back to what think are "normal" levels, but which are at least twice what they should be.

As I said in my last book 'Can we avoid another financial crisis ?' QE was like Faust's pact with the Devil: once you signed the contract, you could never get out of it. They'll turn on their infinite money printing machine, buy bonds off financial institutions once more, and give them liquidity to pour back into the markets, pushing them once more to levels that they should never rightly have reached.

This, of course, will help to make the rich richer and the poor poorer by further increasing inequality. Which is arguably the biggest social problem of the modern era. So, as well as being incompetent economists these mainstreamers are today's Marie Antoinette. Let them eat cake, indeed.


DennisR Feb 7, 2018 6:57 PM Permalink

What crash? Every 3% dip is met with money printing, secret QE, etc. You can't expect to have a free market in 2018...

Arrowflinger Feb 7, 2018 6:59 PM Permalink

It is too low on the scale to be a "crash"

Yet.

Dilluminati Feb 7, 2018 7:01 PM Permalink

http://quotes.wsj.com/index/DJIA

What crash?

[Jan 30, 2018] Perfect worker on the cheap by Dan Crawford

Jan 29, 2018 | angrybearblog.com

Via Bloomberg Obsession for the Perfect Worker Fading in Tight U.S. Job Market points to an issue in hiring that has been discussed here at AB:

This is a problem because, at 4.1 percent last month, U.S. unemployment is at the lowest level since 2000 and companies from Dallas to Denver are struggling to find the right workers. In some cases this is constraining growth, the Federal Reserve reported last week.

Corporate America's search for an exact match is "the number-one problem with hiring in our country," said Daniel Morgan, a recruiter in Birmingham, Alabama, who owns an Express Employment Professionals franchise. "Most companies get caught up on precise experience to a specific job," he said, adding: "Companies fail to see a person for their abilities and transferable skills."

U.S. employers got used to abundant and cheap labor following the 2007-2009 recession. Unemployment peaked at 10 percent in October 2009, and didn't return to the lows of the previous business cycle until last year. Firms still remain reluctant to boost pay or train employees with less-than-perfect credentials, though recruiters say that may have to change amid a jobless rate that's set to dip further.


Bill H , January 29, 2018 9:53 am

The way the article is cut off with the wage gains chart makes it seem that the article is on the Dean Baker theme of "pay higher wages and they will come," in which he argues that there is no shortage because you can hire workers away from your competitor, thereby merely moving the deficit from one place to another without eliminating it and unintentionally suggesting that there is actually is a shortage after all.

Immediately after that chart, however, the article segues into a pretty intelligent discussion of employers learning to ascertain "how can your experience be used in my application," making it unclear why the wage chart is even there.

The "lack of trained workers" complaint has long annoyed me, with its implication that it is the public sector's responsibility to train workers for the private sector. Why? If a company needs welders, why should that company not train its own welders?

J.Goodwin , January 29, 2018 11:39 am

Last week we were reviewing a job description we were preparing for a role in Canada. It was basically a super senior description, they wanted everything, specific experience, higher education, what amounts to a black belt project management certification but also accounting and finance background.

At the bottom it says 5 years experience.

I almost fell off my chair. That's an indicator of the pay band they were trying to fill at (let's say 3, and the description was written like a 10-15 years 6).

I tried to explain it to the person who wrote it and I said hey if we put this out there, we will get no hits. There is no one with this experience who will take what you are offering. I'm afraid we're going to end up with another home country expat instead. They're often not up the same standard you could get with a local if you reasonably scoped the job and gave a fair offer.

I think companies have forgotten how to compete for employees, and the recruiters are completely out of touch. Or maybe they are aware of the conditions and HR just won't sign on to fair value.

Mona Williams , January 29, 2018 1:09 pm

Before I retired 12 years ago, on-the-job training was much more common. Borders Books (remember them?) trained me for a week with pay for just a temporary Christmas-season job. Employers have gotten spoiled, and I hope they will figure this out. Some of the training programs I hear about just make me sigh. Nobody can afford to be trained while not being paid.

axt113 , January 29, 2018 1:26 pm

My Wife works as a junior recruiter, the problem she says is with the employers, they want a particular set of traits, and if there is even a slight deviation they balk

She says that one recent employer she worked with wanted so many particulars for not enough pay that even well experienced and well educated candidates she could find were either unwilling to accept the offer, or were missing one or two traits that made them unacceptable to the company.

rps , January 29, 2018 3:58 pm

This is exciting news for many of us who've been waiting for the pendulum to swing in favor of potential employees after a decade of reading employers help wanted Santa wish list criteria for a minimum wage job of 40+ hours. I'd argue the unemployment rate is not 4.1%; rather, I know of many intelligent/educated/experienced versatile people who've been cut out of the job market and/or chose not to work for breadcrumbs.

HR's 6 second resume review rule of potential candidates was a massive failure by eliminating candidates whose skills, experience and critical thinking abilities could've cultivated innovation across many disciplines. Instead companies looked for drone replacement at slave wages. HR's narrow candidate searches often focused on resume typos or perceived grammatical errors (highly unlikely HR recruiters have an English Ph.D), thus trashing the resume. Perhaps, HR will be refitted with critical thinking people who see a candidate's potential beyond the forgotten comma or period.

[Dec 15, 2017] Neoliberalism undermines workers health not only via the financial consequences of un/under employment and low wages, but also through chronic exposure to stress due to insecurity

Neoliberalism as "Die-now economics." "Embodiment into lower class" or "the representation as a member the lower class" if often fatal and upper mobility mobility is artificially limited (despite all MSM hype it is lower then in Europe). So just being a member of lower class noticeably and negatively affects your life expectancy and other social metrics. Job insecurity is the hazard reserved for lower and lower middle classes destructivly effect both physical and mental health. Too much stress is not good for humans. Neoliberalism with its manta of competition uber alles and atomization of the workforce is a real killer. also the fact that such article was published and the comments below is a clear sign that the days of neoliberalism are numbered. It should go.
Notable quotes:
"... In our new book , we draw on an extensive body of scientific literature to assess the health effects of three decades of neoliberal policies. Focusing on the social determinants of health -- the conditions of life and work that make it relatively easy for some people to lead long and healthy lives, while it is all but impossible for others -- we show that there are four interconnected neoliberal epidemics: austerity, obesity, stress, and inequality. They are neoliberal because they are associated with or worsened by neoliberal policies. ..."
"... Neoliberalism operates through labor markets to undermine health not only by way of the financial consequences of unemployment, inadequate employment, or low wages, as important as these are, but also through chronic exposure to stress that 'gets under your skin' by way of multiple mechanisms. Quite simply, the effects of chronic insecurity wear people out over the life course in biologically measurable ways . ..."
"... Oh, and "beyond class" because for social beings embodiment involves "social production; social consumption; and social reproduction." In the most reductive definition of class -- the one I used in my crude 1% + 10% + 90% formulation -- class is determined by wage work (or not), hence is a part of production (of capital), not social consumption (eating, etc.) or social reproduction (children, families, household work ). So, even if class in our political economy is the driver, it's not everything. ..."
"... "Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that "the market" delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning. ..."
"... Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve." ..."
"... As opposed to being champions of "self-actualization/identity" and "absolute relativism", I always got the impression that they were both offering stark warnings about diving too deeply into the self, vis-a-vis, identity. As if, they both understood the terrifying world that it could/would create, devoid of common cause, community, and ultimately empathy. A world where "we" are not possible because we have all become "I". ..."
"... Wonks like Yglesias love to mock working class concerns as "economic anxiety," which is at once belittling (it's all about f-e-e-e-lings ..."
"... "we have measurable health outcomes from political choices" So True!!! ..."
Dec 12, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

...Neoliberal epidemics are particular pathways of embodiment. From Ted Schrecker and Clare Bambra in The Conversation :

In our new book , we draw on an extensive body of scientific literature to assess the health effects of three decades of neoliberal policies. Focusing on the social determinants of health -- the conditions of life and work that make it relatively easy for some people to lead long and healthy lives, while it is all but impossible for others -- we show that there are four interconnected neoliberal epidemics: austerity, obesity, stress, and inequality. They are neoliberal because they are associated with or worsened by neoliberal policies. They are epidemics because they are observable on such an international scale and have been transmitted so quickly across time and space that if they were biological contagions they would be seen as of epidemic proportions.

(The Case-Deaton study provides an obvious fifth: Deaths of despair. There are doubtless others.) Case in point for one of the unluckier members of the 90%:

On the morning of 25 August 2014 a young New Jersey woman, Maria Fernandes, died from inhaling gasoline fumes as she slept in her 13-year-old car. She often slept in the car while shuttling between her three, low-wage jobs in food service; she kept a can of gasoline in the car because she often slept with the engine running, and was worried about running out of gasoline. Apparently, the can accidentally tipped over and the vapours from spilled gasoline cost her life. Ms Fernandes was one of the more obvious casualties of the zero-hours culture of stress and insecurity that pervades the contemporary labour market under neoliberalism.

And Schrecker and Bambra conclude:

Neoliberalism operates through labor markets to undermine health not only by way of the financial consequences of unemployment, inadequate employment, or low wages, as important as these are, but also through chronic exposure to stress that 'gets under your skin' by way of multiple mechanisms. Quite simply, the effects of chronic insecurity wear people out over the life course in biologically measurable ways .

... ... ...

Oh, and "beyond class" because for social beings embodiment involves "social production; social consumption; and social reproduction." In the most reductive definition of class -- the one I used in my crude 1% + 10% + 90% formulation -- class is determined by wage work (or not), hence is a part of production (of capital), not social consumption (eating, etc.) or social reproduction (children, families, household work ). So, even if class in our political economy is the driver, it's not everything.

nonclassical , December 11, 2017 at 8:30 pm

L.S. reminiscent of Ernst Becker's, "The Structure of Evil" – "Escape from Evil"? (..not to indicate good vs. evil dichotomy) A great amount of perspective must be agreed upon to achieve "change" intoned. Divide and conquer are complicit, as noted .otherwise (and as indicated by U.S. economic history) change arrives only when all have lost all and can therefore agree begin again.

There is however, Naomi Klein perspective, "Shock Doctrine", whereby influence contributes to destabilization, plan in hand leading to agenda driven ("neoliberal"=market fundamentalism) outcome, not at all spontaneous in nature:

"Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that "the market" delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve."

Amfortas the Hippie , December 11, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Well done, as usual.

On Case-Deason: Sounds like home. I keep the scanner on(local news) ems and fire only since 2006(sheriff got a homeland security grant). The incidence of suicide, overdose and "intoxication psychosis" are markedly increased in the last 10+ years out here in the wilderness(5K folks in whole county, last I looked). Our local economy went into near depression after the late 90's farm bill killed the peanut program then 911 meant no hunting season that year(and it's been noticeably less busy ever since) then drought and the real estate crash(we had 30 some realtors at peak..old family land being sold off, mostly). So the local Bourgeoisie have had less money to spend, which "trickles down" onto the rest of us.:less construction, less eating out even at the cheap places, less buying of gas, and on and on means fewer employees are needed, thus fewer jobs. To boot, there is a habit among many employers out here of not paying attention to labor laws(it is Texas ) the last minwage rise took 2 years to filter out here, and one must scrutinize one's pay stub to ensure that the boss isn't getting squirrelly with overtime and witholding.
Geography plays into all this, too 100 miles to any largish city.

... ... ...

Rosario , December 11, 2017 at 10:55 pm

I'm not well versed in Foucault or Lacan but I've read some of both and in reading between the lines of their writing (the phantom philosophy?) I saw a very different message than that often delivered by post-modern theorists.

As opposed to being champions of "self-actualization/identity" and "absolute relativism", I always got the impression that they were both offering stark warnings about diving too deeply into the self, vis-a-vis, identity. As if, they both understood the terrifying world that it could/would create, devoid of common cause, community, and ultimately empathy. A world where "we" are not possible because we have all become "I".

Considering what both their philosophies claimed, if identity is a lie, and the subject is always generated relative to the other, then how the hell can there be any security or well being in self-actualization? It is like trying to hit a target that does not exist.

All potentially oppressive cultural categorizations are examples of this (black, latino, gay, trans, etc.). If the identity is a moving target, both to the oppressor and the oppressed, then how can it ever be a singular source of political action? You can't hit what isn't there. This is not to say that these groups (in whatever determined category) are not oppressed, just that formulating political action based strictly on the identity (often as an essential category) is impossible because it does not actually exist materially. It is an amalgamation of subjects who's subjectivity is always relative to some other whether ally or oppressor. Only the manifestations of oppression on bodies (as brought up in Lambert's post) can be utilized as metrics for political action.

... ... ...

Lambert Strether Post author , December 11, 2017 at 11:20 pm

I thought of a couple of other advantages of the "embodiment" paradigm:

Better Framing . Wonks like Yglesias love to mock working class concerns as "economic anxiety," which is at once belittling (it's all about f-e-e-e-lings *) and disempowering (solutions are individual, like therapy or drugs). Embodiment by contrast insists that neoliberalism (the neoliberal labor market (class warfare)) has real, material, physiological effects that can be measured and tracked, as with any epidemic.

... ... ...

oaf , December 12, 2017 at 7:11 am

"we have measurable health outcomes from political choices" So True!!!

Thank you for posting this.

[Dec 13, 2017] Stress of long-term unemployment takes a toll on thousands of Jerseyans who are out of work by Leslie Kwoh

Notable quotes:
"... Leslie Kwoh may be reached at lkwoh@starledger.com or (973) 392-4147. ..."
Jun 13, 2010 | www.nj.com

At 5:30 every morning, Tony Gwiazdowski rolls out of bed, brews a pot of coffee and carefully arranges his laptop, cell phone and notepad like silverware across the kitchen table.

And then he waits.

Gwiazdowski, 57, has been waiting for 16 months. Since losing his job as a transportation sales manager in February 2009, he wakes each morning to the sobering reminder that, yes, he is still unemployed. So he pushes aside the fatigue, throws on some clothes and sends out another flurry of resumes and cheery cover letters.

But most days go by without a single phone call. And around sundown, when he hears his neighbors returning home from work, Gwiazdowski -- the former mayor of Hillsborough -- can't help but allow himself one tiny sigh of resignation.

"You sit there and you wonder, 'What am I doing wrong?'" said Gwiazdowski, who finds companionship in his 2-year-old golden retriever, Charlie, until his wife returns from work.

"The worst moment is at the end of the day when it's 4:30 and you did everything you could, and the phone hasn't rung, the e-mails haven't come through."

Gwiazdowski is one of a growing number of chronically unemployed workers in New Jersey and across the country who are struggling to get through what is becoming one long, jobless nightmare -- even as the rest of the economy has begun to show signs of recovery.

Nationwide, 46 percent of the unemployed -- 6.7 million Americans -- have been without work for at least half a year, by far the highest percentage recorded since the U.S. Labor Department began tracking the data in 1948.

In New Jersey, nearly 40 percent of the 416,000 unemployed workers last year fit that profile, up from about 20 percent in previous years, according to the department, which provides only annual breakdowns for individual states. Most of them were unemployed for more than a year.

But the repercussions of chronic unemployment go beyond the loss of a paycheck or the realization that one might never find the same kind of job again. For many, the sinking feeling of joblessness -- with no end in sight -- can take a psychological toll, experts say.

Across the state, mental health crisis units saw a 20 percent increase in demand last year as more residents reported suffering from unemployment-related stress, according to the New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies.

"The longer the unemployment continues, the more impact it will have on their personal lives and mental health," said Shauna Moses, the association's associate executive director. "There's stress in the marriage, with the kids, other family members, with friends."

And while a few continue to cling to optimism, even the toughest admit there are moments of despair: Fear of never finding work, envy of employed friends and embarassment at having to tell acquaintances that, nope, still no luck.

"When they say, 'Hi Mayor,' I don't tell a lot of people I'm out of work -- I say I'm semi-retired," said Gwiazdowski, who maxed out on unemployment benefits several months ago.

"They might think, 'Gee, what's wrong with him? Why can't he get a job?' It's a long story and maybe people really don't care and now they want to get away from you."


SECOND TIME AROUND

Lynn Kafalas has been there before, too. After losing her computer training job in 2000, the East Hanover resident took four agonizing years to find new work -- by then, she had refashioned herself into a web designer.

That not-too-distant experience is why Kafalas, 52, who was laid off again eight months ago, grows uneasier with each passing day. Already, some of her old demons have returned, like loneliness, self-doubt and, worst of all, insomnia. At night, her mind races to dissect the latest interview: What went wrong? What else should she be doing? And why won't even Barnes & Noble hire her?

"It's like putting a stopper on my life -- I can't move on," said Kafalas, who has given up karate lessons, vacations and regular outings with friends. "Everything is about the interviews."

And while most of her friends have been supportive, a few have hinted to her that she is doing something wrong, or not doing enough. The remarks always hit Kafalas with a pang.

In a recent study, researchers at Rutgers University found that the chronically unemployed are prone to high levels of stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness and even substance abuse, which take a toll on their self-esteem and personal relationships.

"They're the forgotten group," said Carl Van Horn, director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, and a co-author of the report. "And the longer you are unemployed, the less likely you are to get a job."

Of the 900 unemployed workers first interviewed last August for the study, only one in 10 landed full-time work by March of this year, and only half of those lucky few expressed satisfaction with their new jobs. Another one in 10 simply gave up searching.

Among those who were still unemployed, many struggled to make ends meet by borrowing from friends or family, turning to government food stamps and forgoing health care, according to the study.

More than half said they avoided all social contact, while slightly less than half said they had lost touch with close friends. Six in 10 said they had problems sleeping.

Kafalas says she deals with her chronic insomnia by hitting the gym for two hours almost every evening, lifting weights and pounding the treadmill until she feels tired enough to fall asleep.

"Sometimes I forget what day it is. Is it Tuesday? And then I'll think of what TV show ran the night before," she said. "Waiting is the toughest part."


AGE A FACTOR

Generally, the likelihood of long-term unemployment increases with age, experts say. A report by the National Employment Law Project this month found that nearly half of those who were unemployed for six months or longer were at least 45 years old. Those between 16 and 24 made up just 14 percent.

Tell that to Adam Blank, 24, who has been living with his girlfriend and her parents at their Martinsville home since losing his sales job at Best Buy a year and half ago.

Blank, who graduated from Rutgers with a major in communications, says he feels like a burden sometimes, especially since his girlfriend, Tracy Rosen, 24, works full-time at a local nonprofit. He shows her family gratitude with small chores, like taking out the garbage, washing dishes, sweeping floors and doing laundry.

Still, he often feels inadequate.

"All I'm doing on an almost daily basis is sitting around the house trying to keep myself from going stir-crazy," said Blank, who dreams of starting a social media company.

When he is feeling particularly low, Blank said he turns to a tactic employed by prisoners of war in Vietnam: "They used to build dream houses in their head to help keep their sanity. It's really just imagining a place I can call my own."


LESSONS LEARNED

Meanwhile, Gwiazdowski, ever the optimist, says unemployment has taught him a few things.

He has learned, for example, how to quickly assess an interviewer's age and play up or down his work experience accordingly -- he doesn't want to appear "threatening" to a potential employer who is younger. He has learned that by occasionally deleting and reuploading his resume to job sites, his entry appears fresh.

"It's almost like a game," he said, laughing. "You are desperate, but you can't show it."

But there are days when he just can't find any humor in his predicament -- like when he finishes a great interview but receives no offer, or when he hears a fellow job seeker finally found work and feels a slight twinge of jealousy.

"That's what I'm missing -- putting on that shirt and tie in the morning and going to work," he said.

The memory of getting dressed for work is still so vivid, Gwiazdowski says, that he has to believe another job is just around the corner.

"You always have to hope that that morning when you get up, it's going to be the day," he said.

"Today is going to be the day that something is going to happen."

Leslie Kwoh may be reached at lkwoh@starledger.com or (973) 392-4147.

DrBuzzard Jun 13, 2010

I collect from the state of iowa, was on tier I and when the gov't recessed without passing extension, iowa stopped paying tier I claims that were already open, i was scheduled to be on tier I until july 15th, and its gone now, as a surprise, when i tried to claim my week this week i was notified. SURPRISE, talk about stress.

berganliz Jun 13, 2010

This is terrible....just wait until RIF'd teachers hit the unemployment offices....but then, this is what NJ wanted...fired teachers who are to blame for the worst recession our country has seen in 150 years...thanks GWB.....thanks Donald Rumsfeld......thanks Dick Cheney....thanks Karl "Miss Piggy" Rove...and thank you Mr. Big Boy himself...Gov Krispy Kreame!

rp121 Jun 13, 2010

For readers who care about this nation's unemployed- Call your Senators to pass HR 4213, the "Extenders" bill. Unfortunately, it does not add UI benefits weeks, however it DOES continue the emergency federal tiers of UI. If it does not pass this week many of us are cut off at 26 wks. No tier 1, 2 -nothing.

[Dec 13, 2017] Unemployment health hazard and stress

The longer you are unemployed, the more you are effected by those factors.
Notable quotes:
"... The good news is that only a relatively small number of people are seriously affected by the stress of unemployment to the extent they need medical assistance. Most people don't get to the serious levels of stress, and much as they loathe being unemployed, they suffer few, and minor, ill effects. ..."
"... Worries about income, domestic problems, whatever, the list is as long as humanity. The result of stress is a strain on the nervous system, and these create the physical effects of the situation over time. The chemistry of stress is complex, but it can be rough on the hormonal system. ..."
"... Not at all surprisingly, people under stress experience strong emotions. It's a perfectly natural response to what can be quite intolerable emotional strains. It's fair to say that even normal situations are felt much more severely by people already under stress. Things that wouldn't normally even be issues become problems, and problems become serious problems. Relationships can suffer badly in these circumstances, and that, inevitably, produces further crises. Unfortunately for those affected, these are by now, at this stage, real crises. ..."
"... Some people are stubborn enough and tough enough mentally to control their emotions ruthlessly, and they do better under these conditions. Even that comes at a cost, and although under control, the stress remains a problem. ..."
"... One of the reasons anger management is now a growth industry is because of the growing need for assistance with severe stress over the last decade. This is a common situation, and help is available. ..."
"... Depression is universally hated by anyone who's ever had it. ..."
"... Very important: Do not, under any circumstances, try to use drugs or alcohol as a quick fix. They make it worse, over time, because they actually add stress. Some drugs can make things a lot worse, instantly, too, particularly the modern made-in-a-bathtub variety. They'll also destroy your liver, which doesn't help much, either. ..."
"... You don't have to live in a gym to get enough exercise for basic fitness. A few laps of the pool, a good walk, some basic aerobic exercises, you're talking about 30-45 minutes a day. It's not hard. ..."
Dec 13, 2017 | www.cvtips.com

It's almost impossible to describe the various psychological impacts, because there are so many. There are sometimes serious consequences, including suicide, and, some would say worse, chronic depression.

There's not really a single cause and effect. It's a compound effect, and unemployment, by adding stress, affects people, often badly.

The world doesn't need any more untrained psychologists, and we're not pretending to give medical advice. That's for professionals. Everybody is different, and their problems are different. What we can do is give you an outline of the common problems, and what you can do about them.

The good news is that only a relatively small number of people are seriously affected by the stress of unemployment to the extent they need medical assistance. Most people don't get to the serious levels of stress, and much as they loathe being unemployed, they suffer few, and minor, ill effects.

For others, there are a series of issues, and the big three are:

Stress

Stress is Stage One. It's a natural result of the situation. Worries about income, domestic problems, whatever, the list is as long as humanity. The result of stress is a strain on the nervous system, and these create the physical effects of the situation over time. The chemistry of stress is complex, but it can be rough on the hormonal system.

Over an extended period, the body's natural hormonal balances are affected, and this can lead to problems. These are actually physical issues, but the effects are mental, and the first obvious effects are, naturally, emotional.

Anger, and other negative emotions

Not at all surprisingly, people under stress experience strong emotions. It's a perfectly natural response to what can be quite intolerable emotional strains. It's fair to say that even normal situations are felt much more severely by people already under stress. Things that wouldn't normally even be issues become problems, and problems become serious problems. Relationships can suffer badly in these circumstances, and that, inevitably, produces further crises. Unfortunately for those affected, these are by now, at this stage, real crises.

If the actual situation was already bad, this mental state makes it a lot worse. Constant aggravation doesn't help people to keep a sense of perspective. Clear thinking isn't easy when under constant stress.

Some people are stubborn enough and tough enough mentally to control their emotions ruthlessly, and they do better under these conditions. Even that comes at a cost, and although under control, the stress remains a problem.

One of the reasons anger management is now a growth industry is because of the growing need for assistance with severe stress over the last decade. This is a common situation, and help is available.

If you have reservations about seeking help, bear in mind it can't possibly be any worse than the problem.

Depression

Depression is universally hated by anyone who's ever had it. This is the next stage, and it's caused by hormonal imbalances which affect serotonin. It's actually a physical problem, but it has mental effects which are sometimes devastating, and potentially life threatening.

The common symptoms are:

It's a disgusting experience. No level of obscenity could possibly describe it. Depression is misery on a level people wouldn't conceive in a nightmare. At this stage the patient needs help, and getting it is actually relatively easy. It's convincing the person they need to do something about it that's difficult. Again, the mental state is working against the person. Even admitting there's a problem is hard for many people in this condition.

Generally speaking, a person who is trusted is the best person to tell anyone experiencing the onset of depression to seek help. Important: If you're experiencing any of those symptoms:

Very important: Do not, under any circumstances, try to use drugs or alcohol as a quick fix. They make it worse, over time, because they actually add stress. Some drugs can make things a lot worse, instantly, too, particularly the modern made-in-a-bathtub variety. They'll also destroy your liver, which doesn't help much, either.

Alcohol, in particular, makes depression much worse. Alcohol is a depressant, itself, and it's also a nasty chemical mix with all those stress hormones.

If you've ever had alcohol problems, or seen someone with alcohol wrecking their lives, depression makes things about a million times worse.

Just don't do it. Steer clear of any so-called stimulants, because they don't mix with antidepressants, either.

Unemployment and staying healthy

The above is what you need to know about the risks of unemployment to your health and mental well being.

These situations are avoidable.

Your best defense against the mental stresses and strains of unemployment, and their related problems is staying healthy.

We can promise you that is nothing less than the truth. The healthier you are, the better your defenses against stress, and the more strength you have to cope with situations.

Basic health is actually pretty easy to achieve:

Diet

Eat real food, not junk, and make sure you're getting enough food. Your body can't work with resources it doesn't have. Good food is a real asset, and you'll find you don't get tired as easily. You need the energy reserves.

Give yourself a good selection of food that you like, that's also worth eating.

The good news is that plain food is also reasonably cheap, and you can eat as much as you need. Basic meals are easy enough to prepare, and as long as you're getting all the protein veg and minerals you need, you're pretty much covered.

You can also use a multivitamin cap, or broad spectrum supplements, to make sure you're getting all your trace elements. Also make sure you're getting the benefits of your food by taking acidophilus or eating yogurt regularly.

Exercise

You don't have to live in a gym to get enough exercise for basic fitness. A few laps of the pool, a good walk, some basic aerobic exercises, you're talking about 30-45 minutes a day. It's not hard.

Don't just sit and suffer

If anything's wrong, check it out when it starts, not six months later. Most medical conditions become serious when they're allowed to get worse.

For unemployed people the added risk is also that they may prevent you getting that job, or going for interviews. If something's causing you problems, get rid of it.

Nobody who's been through the blender of unemployment thinks it's fun.

Anyone who's really done it tough will tell you one thing:

Don't be a victim. Beat the problem, and you'll really appreciate the feeling.

[Dec 12, 2017] Can Uber Ever Deliver Part Eleven Annual Uber Losses Now Approaching $5 Billion

Notable quotes:
"... Total 2015 gross passenger payments were 200% higher than 2014, but Uber corporate revenue improved 300% because Uber cut the driver share of passenger revenue from 83% to 77%. This was an effective $500 million wealth transfer from drivers to Uber's investors. ..."
"... Uber's P&L gains were wiped out by higher non-EBIDTAR expense. Thus the 300% Uber revenue growth did not result in any improvement in Uber profit margins. ..."
"... In 2016, Uber unilaterally imposed much larger cuts in driver compensation, costing drivers an additional $3 billion. [6] Prior to Uber's market entry, the take home pay of big-city cab drivers in the US was in the $12-17/hour range, and these earnings were possible only if drivers worked 65-75 hours a week. ..."
"... An independent study of the net earnings of Uber drivers (after accounting for the costs of the vehicles they had to provide) in Denver, Houston and Detroit in late 2015 (prior to Uber's big 2016 cuts) found that driver earnings had fallen to the $10-13/hour range. [7] Multiple recent news reports have documented how Uber drivers are increasing unable to support themselves from their reduced share of passenger payments. [8] ..."
"... Since mass driver defections would cause passenger volume growth to collapse completely, Uber was forced to reverse these cuts in 2017 and increased the driver share from 68% to 80%. This meant that Uber's corporate revenue, which had grown over 300% in 2015 and over 200% in 2016 will probably only grow by about 15% in 2017. ..."
"... Socialize the losses, privatize the gains, VC-ize the subsidies. ..."
"... The cold hard truth is that Uber is backed into a corner with severely limited abilities to tweak the numbers on either the supply or the demand side: cut driver compensation and they trigger driver churn (as has already been demonstrated), increase fare prices for riders and riders defect to cheaper alternatives. ..."
"... "Growth and Efficiency" are the sine qua non of Neoliberalism. Kalanick's "hype brilliance" was to con the market with "revenue growth" and signs ..."
Dec 12, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Uber lost $2.5 billion in 2015, probably lost $4 billion in 2016, and is on track to lose $5 billion in 2017.

The top line on the table below shows is total passenger payments, which must be split between Uber corporate and its drivers. Driver gross earnings are substantially higher than actual take home pay, as gross earning must cover all the expenses drivers bear, including fuel, vehicle ownership, insurance and maintenance.

Most of the "profit" data released by Uber over time and discussed in the press is not true GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) profit comparable to the net income numbers public companies publish but is EBIDTAR contribution. Companies have significant leeway as to how they calculate EBIDTAR (although it would exclude interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization) and the percentage of total costs excluded from EBIDTAR can vary significantly from quarter to quarter, given the impact of one-time expenses such as legal settlements and stock compensation. We only have true GAAP net profit results for 2014, 2015 and the 2nd/3rd quarters of 2017, but have EBIDTAR contribution numbers for all other periods. [5]

Uber had GAAP net income of negative $2.6 billion in 2015, and a negative profit margin of 132%. This is consistent with the negative $2.0 billion loss and (143%) margin for the year ending September 2015 presented in part one of the NC Uber series over a year ago.

No GAAP profit results for 2016 have been disclosed, but actual losses likely exceed $4 billion given the EBIDTAR contribution of negative $3.2 billion. Uber's GAAP losses for the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2017 were over $2.5 billion, suggesting annual losses of roughly $5 billion.

While many Silicon Valley funded startups suffered large initial losses, none of them lost anything remotely close to $2.6 billion in their sixth year of operation and then doubled their losses to $5 billion in year eight. Reversing losses of this magnitude would require the greatest corporate financial turnaround in history.

No evidence of significant efficiency/scale gains; 2015 and 2016 margin improvements entirely explained by unilateral cuts in driver compensation, but losses soared when Uber had to reverse these cuts in 2017.

Total 2015 gross passenger payments were 200% higher than 2014, but Uber corporate revenue improved 300% because Uber cut the driver share of passenger revenue from 83% to 77%. This was an effective $500 million wealth transfer from drivers to Uber's investors. These driver compensation cuts improved Uber's EBIDTAR margin, but Uber's P&L gains were wiped out by higher non-EBIDTAR expense. Thus the 300% Uber revenue growth did not result in any improvement in Uber profit margins.

In 2016, Uber unilaterally imposed much larger cuts in driver compensation, costing drivers an additional $3 billion. [6] Prior to Uber's market entry, the take home pay of big-city cab drivers in the US was in the $12-17/hour range, and these earnings were possible only if drivers worked 65-75 hours a week.

An independent study of the net earnings of Uber drivers (after accounting for the costs of the vehicles they had to provide) in Denver, Houston and Detroit in late 2015 (prior to Uber's big 2016 cuts) found that driver earnings had fallen to the $10-13/hour range. [7] Multiple recent news reports have documented how Uber drivers are increasing unable to support themselves from their reduced share of passenger payments. [8]

A business model where profit improvement is hugely dependent on wage cuts is unsustainable, especially when take home wages fall to (or below) minimum wage levels. Uber's primary focus has always been the rate of growth in gross passenger revenue, as this has been a major justification for its $68 billion valuation. This growth rate came under enormous pressure in 2017 given Uber efforts to raise fares, major increases in driver turnover as wages fell, [9] and the avalanche of adverse publicity it was facing.

Since mass driver defections would cause passenger volume growth to collapse completely, Uber was forced to reverse these cuts in 2017 and increased the driver share from 68% to 80%. This meant that Uber's corporate revenue, which had grown over 300% in 2015 and over 200% in 2016 will probably only grow by about 15% in 2017.

MKS , December 12, 2017 at 6:19 am

"Uber's business model can never produce sustainable profits"

Two words not in my vocabulary are "Never" and "Always", that is a pretty absolute statement in an non-absolute environment. The same environment that has produced the "Silicon Valley Growth Model", with 15x earnings companies like NVIDA, FB and Tesla (Average earnings/stock price ratio in dot com bubble was 10x) will people pay ridiculous amounts of money for a company with no underlying fundamentals you damn right they will! Please stop with the I know all no body knows anything, especially the psychology and irrationality of markets which are made up of irrational people/investors/traders.

JohnnySacks , December 12, 2017 at 7:34 am

My thoughts exactly. Seems the only possible recovery for the investors is a perfectly engineered legendary pump and dump IPO scheme. Risky, but there's a lot of fools out there and many who would also like to get on board early in the ride in fear of missing out on all the money to be hoovered up from the greater fools. Count me out.

SoCal Rhino , December 12, 2017 at 8:30 am

The author clearly distinguishes between GAAP profitability and valuations, which is after all rather the point of the series. And he makes a more nuanced point than the half sentence you have quoted without context or with an indication that you omitted a portion. Did you miss the part about how Uber would have a strong incentive to share the evidence of a network effect or other financial story that pointed the way to eventual profit? Otherwise (my words) it is the classic sell at a loss, make it up with volume path to liquidation.

tegnost , December 12, 2017 at 9:52 am

apples and oranges comparison, nvidia has lots and lots of patented tech that produces revenue, facebook has a kajillion admittedly irrational users, but those users drive massive ad sales (as just one example of how that company capitalizes itself) and tesla makes an actual car, using technology that inspires it's buyers (the put your money where your mouth is crowd and it can't be denied that tesla, whatever it's faults are, battery tech is not one of them and that intellectual property is worth a lot, and tesla's investors are in on that real business, profitable or otherwise)

Uber is an iphone app. They lose money and have no path to profitability (unless it's the theory you espouse that people are unintelligent so even unintelligent ideas work to fleece them). This article touches on one of the great things about the time we now inhabit, uber drivers could bail en masse, there are two sides to the low attachment employees who you can get rid of easily. The drivers can delete the uber app as soon as another iphone app comes along that gets them a better return

allan , December 12, 2017 at 6:52 am

Yet another source (unintended) of subsidies for Uber, Lyft, etc., which might or might not have been mentioned earlier in the series:

Airports Are Losing Money as Ride-Hailing Services Grow [NYT]

For many air travelers, getting to and from the airport has long been part of the whole miserable experience. Do they drive and park in some distant lot? Take mass transit or a taxi? Deal with a rental car?

Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are quickly changing those calculations. That has meant a bit less angst for travelers.

But that's not the case for airports. Travelers' changing habits, in fact, have begun to shake the airports' financial underpinnings. The money they currently collect from ride-hailing services do not compensate for the lower revenues from the other sources.

At the same time, some airports have had to add staff to oversee the operations of the ride-hailing companies, the report said. And with more ride-hailing vehicles on the roads outside terminals,
there's more congestion.

Socialize the losses, privatize the gains, VC-ize the subsidies.

Thuto , December 12, 2017 at 6:55 am

The cold hard truth is that Uber is backed into a corner with severely limited abilities to tweak the numbers on either the supply or the demand side: cut driver compensation and they trigger driver churn (as has already been demonstrated), increase fare prices for riders and riders defect to cheaper alternatives. The only question is how long can they keep the show going before the lights go out, slick marketing and propaganda can only take you so far, and one assumes the dumb money has a finite supply of patience and will at some point begin asking the tough questions.

Louis Fyne , December 12, 2017 at 8:35 am

The irony is that Uber would have been a perfectly fine, very profitable mid-sized company if Uber stuck with its initial model -- sticking to dense cities with limited parking, limiting driver supply, and charging a premium price for door-to-door delivery, whether by livery or a regular sedan. And then perhaps branching into robo-cars.

But somehow Uber/board/Travis got suckered into the siren call of self-driving cars, triple-digit user growth, and being in the top 100 US cities and on every continent.

Thuto , December 12, 2017 at 11:30 am

I've shared a similar sentiment in one of the previous posts about Uber. But operating profitably in decent sized niche doesn't fit well with ambitions of global domination. For Uber to be "right-sized", an admission of folly would have to be made, its managers and investors would have to transcend the sunk cost fallacy in their strategic decision making, and said investors would have to accept massive hits on their invested capital. The cold, hard reality of being blindsided and kicked to the curb in the smartphone business forced RIM/Blackberry to right-size, and they may yet have a profitable future as an enterprise facing software and services company. Uber would benefit from that form of sober mindedness, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

David Carl Grimes , December 12, 2017 at 6:57 am

The question is: Why did Softbank invest in Uber?

Michael Fiorillo , December 12, 2017 at 9:33 am

I know nothing about Softbank or its management, but I do know that the Japanese were the dumb money rubes in the late '80's, overpaying for trophy real estate they lost billions on.

Until informed otherwise, that's my default assumption

JimTan , December 12, 2017 at 10:50 am

Softbank possibly looking to buy more Uber shares at a 30% discount is very odd. Uber had a Series G funding round in June 2016 where a $3.5 billion investment from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund resulted in its current $68 billion valuation. Now apparently Softbank wants to lead a new $6 billion funding round to buy the shares of Uber employees and early investors at a 30% discount from this last "valuation". It's odd because Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund has pledged $45 billion to SoftBank's Vision Fund , an amount which was supposed to come from the proceeds of its pending Aramco IPO. If the Uber bid is linked to SoftBank's Vision Fund, or KSA money, then its not clear why this investor might be looking to literally 'double down' from $3.5 billion o $6 billion on a declining investment.

Yves Smith Post author , December 12, 2017 at 11:38 am

SoftBank has not yet invested. Its tender is still open. If it does not get enough shares at a price it likes, it won't invest.

As to why, I have no idea.

Robert McGregor , December 12, 2017 at 7:04 am

"Growth and Efficiency" are the sine qua non of Neoliberalism. Kalanick's "hype brilliance" was to con the market with "revenue growth" and signs of efficiency, and hopes of greater efficiency, and make most people just overlook the essential fact that Uber is the most unprofitable company of all time!

divadab , December 12, 2017 at 7:19 am

What comprises "Uber Expenses"? 2014 – $1.06 billion; 2015 $3.33 billion; 2016 $9.65 billion; forecast 2017 $11.418 billion!!!!!! To me this is the big question – what are they spending $10 billion per year on?

ALso – why did driver share go from 68% in 2016 to 80% in 2017? If you use 68% as in 2016, 2017 Uber revenue is $11.808 billion, which means a bit better than break-even EBITDA, assuming Uber expenses are as stated $11.428 billion.

Perhaps not so bleak as the article presents, although I would not invest in this thing.

Phil in Kansas City , December 12, 2017 at 7:55 am

I have the same question: What comprises over 11 billion dollars in expenses in 2017? Could it be they are paying out dividends to the early investors? Which would mean they are cannibalizing their own company for the sake of the VC! How long can this go on before they'll need a new infusion of cash?

lyman alpha blob , December 12, 2017 at 2:37 pm

The Saudis have thrown a few billion Uber's way and they aren't necessarily known as the smart money.

Maybe the pole dancers have started chipping in too as they are for bitcoin .

Vedant Desai , December 12, 2017 at 10:37 am

Oh article does answer your 2nd question. Read this paragraph:-

Since mass driver defections would cause passenger volume growth to collapse completely , Uber was forced to reverse these cuts in 2017 and increased the driver share from 68% to 80%. This meant that Uber's corporate revenue, which had grown over 300% in 2015 and over 200% in 2016 will probably only grow by about 15% in 2017.

As for the 1st, read this line in the article:-

There are undoubtedly a number of things Uber could do to reduce losses at the margin, but it is difficult to imagine it could suddenly find the $4-5 billion in profit improvement needed merely to reach breakeven.

Louis Fyne , December 12, 2017 at 8:44 am

in addition to all the points listed in the article/comments, the absolute biggest flaw with Uber is that Uber HQ conditioned its customers on (a) cheap fares and (b) that a car is available within minutes (1-5 if in a big city).

Those two are not mutually compatible in the long-term.

Alfred , December 12, 2017 at 9:49 am

Thus (a) "We cost less" and (b) "We're more convenient" -- aren't those also the advantages that Walmart claims and feeds as a steady diet to its ever hungry consumers? Often if not always, disruption may repose upon delusion.

Martin Finnucane , December 12, 2017 at 11:06 am

Uber's business model could never produce sustainable profits unless it was able to exploit significant anti-competitive market power.

Upon that dependent clause hangs the future of capitalism, and – dare I say it? – its inevitable demise.

Altandmain , December 12, 2017 at 11:09 am

When this Uber madness blows up, I wonder if people will finally begin to discuss the brutal reality of Silicon Valley's so called "disruption".

It is heavily built in around the idea of economic exploitation. Uber drivers are often, especially when the true costs to operate an Uber including the vehicle depreciation are factored in, making not very much per hour driven, especially if they don't get the surge money.

Instacart is another example. They are paying the deliver operators very little.

Jim A. , December 12, 2017 at 12:21 pm

At a fundamental level, I think that the Silicon Valley "disruption" model only works for markets (like software) where the marginal cost for production is de minimus and the products can be protected by IP laws. Volume and market power really work in those cases. But out here in meat-space, where actual material and labor are big inputs to each item sold, you can never just sit back on your laurels and rake in the money. Somebody else will always be able to come and and make an equivalent product. If they can do it more cheaply, you are in trouble.

Altandmain , December 12, 2017 at 5:40 pm

There aren't that many areas in goods and services where the marginal costs are very low.

Software is actually quite unique in that regard, costing merely the bandwidth and permanent storage space to store.

Let's see:

1. From the article, they cannot go public and have limited ways to raise more money. An IPO with its more stringent disclosure requirements would expose them.

2. They tried lowering driver compensation and found that model unsustainable.

3. There are no benefits to expanding in terms of economies of scale.

From where I am standing, it looks like a lot of industries gave similar barriers. Silicon Valley is not going to be able to disrupt those.

Tesla, another Silicon Valley company seems to be struggling to mass produce its Model 3 and deliver an electric car that breaks even, is reliable, while disrupting the industry in the ways that Elon Musk attempted to hype up.

So that basically leaves services and manufacturing out for Silicon Valley disruption.

Joe Bentzel , December 12, 2017 at 2:19 pm

UBER has become a "too big to fail" startup because of all the different tentacles of capital from various Tier 1 VCs and investment bankers.

VCs have admitted openly that UBER is a subsidized business, meaning it's product is sold below market value, and the losses reflect that subsidization. The whole "2 sided platform" argument is just marketecture to hustle more investors. It's a form of service "dumping" that puts legacy businesses into bankruptcy. Back during the dotcom bubble one popular investment banker (Paul Deninger) characterized this model as "Terrorist Competition", i.e. coffers full of invested cash to commoditize the market and drive out competition.

UBER is an absolute disaster that has forked the startup model in Silicon Valley in order to drive total dependence on venture capital by founders. And its current diversification into "autonomous vehicles", food delivery, et al are simply more evidence that the company will never be profitable due to its whacky "blitzscaling" approach of layering on new "businesses" prior to achieving "fit" in its current one.

It's economic model has also metastasized into a form of startup cancer that is killing Silicon Valley as a "technology" innovator. Now it's all cargo cult marketing BS tied to "strategic capital".

UBER is the victory of venture capital and user subsidized startups over creativity by real entrepreneurs.

It's shadow is long and that's why this company should be ..wait for it UNBUNDLED (the new silicon valley word attached to that other BS religion called "disruption"). Call it a great unbundling and you can break up this monster corp any way you want.

Naked Capitalism is a great website.

Phil in KC , December 12, 2017 at 3:20 pm

1. I Agree with your last point.

2. The elevator pitch for Uber: subsidize rides to attract customers, put the competition out of business, and then enjoy an unregulated monopoly, all while exploiting economically ignorant drivers–ahem–"partners."

3. But more than one can play that game, and

4. Cab and livery companies are finding ways to survive!

Phil in KC , December 12, 2017 at 3:10 pm

If subsidizing rides is counted as an expense, (not being an accountant, I would guess it so), then whether the subsidy goes to the driver or the passenger, that would account for the ballooning expenses, to answer my own question. Otherwise, the overhead for operating what Uber describes as a tech company should be minimal: A billion should fund a decent headquarters with staff, plus field offices in, say, 100 U.S. cities. However, their global pretensions are probably burning cash like crazy. On top of that, I wonder what the exec compensation is like?

After reading HH's initial series, I made a crude, back-of-the-envelope calculation that Uber would run out of money sometime in the third fiscal quarter of 2018, but that was based on assuming losses were stabilizing in the range of 3 billion a year. Not so, according to the article. I think crunch time is rapidly approaching. If so, then SoftBank's tender offer may look quite appetizing to VC firms and to any Uber employee able to cash in their options. I think there is a way to make a re-envisioned Uber profitable, and with a more independent board, they may be able to restructure the company to show a pathway to profitability before the IPO. But time is running out.

A not insignificant question is the recruitment and retention of the front line "partners." It would seem to me that at some point, Uber will run out of economically ignorant drivers with good manners and nice cars. I would be very interested to know how many drivers give up Uber and other ride-sharing gigs once the 1099's start flying at the beginning of the year. One of the harsh realities of owning a business or being an contractor is the humble fact that you get paid LAST!

Jan Stickle , December 12, 2017 at 5:00 pm

We became instant Uber riders while spending holidays with relatives in San Diego. While their model is indeed unique from a rider perspective, it was the driver pool that fascinates me. These are not professional livery drivers, but rather freebooters of all stripes driving for various reasons. The remuneration they receive cannot possibly generate much income after expenses, never mind the problems associated with IRS filing as independent contractors.

One guy was just cruising listening to music; cooler to get paid for it than just sitting home! A young lady was babbling and gesticulating non stop about nothing coherent and appeared to be on some sort of stimulant. A foreign gentleman, very professional, drove for extra money when not at his regular job. He was the only one who had actually bought a new Prius for this gig, hoping to pay it off in two years.

This is indeed a brave new world. There was a period in Nicaragua just after the Contra war ended when citizens emerged from their homes and hit the streets in large numbers, desperately looking for income. Every car was a taxi and there was a bipedal mini Walmart at every city intersection as individuals sold everything and anything in a sort of euphoric optimism towards the future. Reality just hadn't caught up with them yet .

[Dec 05, 2017] House Members Tee Up Bipartisan Bill to Kill CFPB Payday Lending Rule

Notable quotes:
"... By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She now spends much of her time in Asia and is currently working on a book about textile artisans. ..."
"... The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives ..."
Dec 05, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on December 4, 2017 by Jerri-Lynn Scofield By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She now spends much of her time in Asia and is currently working on a book about textile artisans.

Three Democrats and three Republicans have co-sponsored a resolution, under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), to scuttle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's payday lending rule.

CRA's procedures to overturn regulations had been invoked, successfully, only once before Trump became president. Congressional Republicans and Trump have used CRA procedures multiple times to kill regulations (as I've previously discussed (see here , here , here and here ). Not only does CRA provide expedited procedures to overturn regulations, but once it's used to kill a regulation, the agency that promulgated the rule is prevented from revisiting the issue unless and until Congress provides new statutory authority to do so.

Payday Lending

As I wrote in an extended October post, CFPB Issues Payday Lending Rule: Will it Hold, as the Empire Will Strike Back, payday lending is an especially sleazy part of the finance sewer, in which private equity swamp creatures, among others, operate. The industry is huge, according to this New York Times report I quoted in my October post, and it preys on the poorest, most financially-stressed Americans:

The payday-lending industry is vast. There are now more payday loan stores in the United States than there are McDonald's restaurants. The operators of those stores make around $46 billion a year in loans, collecting $7 billion in fees. Some 12 million people, many of whom lack other access to credit, take out the short-term loans each year, researchers estimate.

The CFPB's payday lending rule attempted to shut down this area of lucrative lending– where effective interest rates can spike to hundreds of points per annum, including fees (I refer interested readers to my October post, cited above, which discusses at greater length how sleazy this industry is, and also links to the rule; see also this CFPB fact sheet and press release .)

Tactically, as with the ban on mandatory arbitration clauses in consumer financial contracts– an issue I discussed further in RIP, Mandatory Arbitration Ban , (and in previous posts referenced therein), the CFPB under director Richard Cordray made a major tactical mistake in not completing rule-making sufficiently before the change of power to a new administration- 60 "session days" of Congress, thus making these two rules subject to the CRA.

The House Financial Services Committee press release lauding introduction of CRA resolution to overturn the payday lending rule is a classic of its type, so permit me to quote from it at length:

These short-term, small-dollar loans are already regulated by all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Native American tribes. The CFPB's rule would mark the first time the federal government has gotten involved in the regulation of these loans.

.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), a supporter of the bipartisan effort, said the CFPB's rule is an example of how "unelected, unaccountable government bureaucracy hurts working people."

"Once again we see powerful Washington elites using the guise of 'consumer protection' to actually harm consumers and make life harder for lower and moderate income Americans who may need a short-term loan to keep their utilities from being cut off or to keep their car on the road so they can get to work," he said. "Americans should be able to choose the checking account they want, the mortgage they want and the short-term loan they want and no unelected Washington bureaucrat should be able to take that away from them."

[Rep Dennis Ross, a Florida Republican House co-sponsor]. said, "More than 1.2 million Floridians per year rely on Florida's carefully regulated small-dollar lending industry to make ends meet. The CFPB's small dollar lending rule isn't reasonable regulation -- it's a de facto ban on what these Floridians need. I and my colleagues in Congress cannot stand by while an unaccountable federal agency deprives our constituents of a lifeline in times of need, all while usurping state authority. Today, we are taking bipartisan action to stop this harmful bureaucratic overreach dead in its tracks."

As CNBC reports in New House bill would kill consumer watchdog payday loan rule , industry representatives continue to denounce the rule, with a straight face:

"The rule would leave millions of Americans in a real bind at exactly the time need a fast loan to cover an urgent expense," said Daniel Press, a policy analyst with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in a statement after the bill's introduction.

Consumer advocates think otherwise (also from CNBC):

"Payday lenders put cash-strapped Americans in a crippling cycle of 300 percent-interest loan debt," Yana Miles, senior legislative counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending, said in a statement.

Prospects Under CRA

When I wrote about this topic in October, much commentary assumed that prospects for CRA overturn were weak. I emphasized instead the tactical error of failing to insulate the rule from CRA, which could have been done if the CFPB had pushed the rule through well before Trump took office:

If the payday rule had been promulgated in a timely manner during the previous administration it would not have been as vulnerable to a CRA challenge as it is now. Even if Republicans had then passed a CRA resolution of disapproval, a presidential veto would have stymied that. Trump is an enthusiastic proponent of deregulation, who has happily embraced the CRA– a procedure only used once before he became president to roll back a rule.

Now, the Equifax hack may have changed the political dynamics here and made it more difficult for Congressional Republicans– and finance-friendly Democratic fellow travellers– to use CRA procedures to overturn the payday lending rule.

The New York Times certainly seems to think prospects for a CRA challenge remote:

The odds of reversal are "very low," said Isaac Boltansky, the director of policy research at Compass Point Research & Trading.

"There is already C.R.A. fatigue on the Hill," Mr. Boltansky said, using an acronymn for the act, "and moderate Republicans are hesitant to be painted as anti-consumer.

I'm not so sure I would take either side of that bet. [Jerri-Lynn here: my subsequent emphasis.]

A more telling element than CRA-fatigue in my assessment of the rule's survival prospects was my judgment that Democrats wouldn't muster to defend the payday lending industry– although that assumption has not fully held, as this recent American Banker account makes clear:

After the payday rule was finalized in October , it was widely expected that Republicans would attempt to overturn it. It's notable, though, that the effort has attracted bipartisan support in the House.

.

Passage in the Senate, however, may be a much heavier lift. The chamber's vote to overturn the arbitration rule in late October came down to the wire, forcing Republicans to call in Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote.

Bottom Line

I continue to think that this rule will survive– as the payday lending industry cannot count on a full court press lobbying effort by financial services interests. Yet as I wrote in October, I still hesitate to take either side of the bet on this issue.

Dpfaef , December 4, 2017 at 10:53 am

I think this whole article is totally disingenuous. There is a serious need for many Americans to have access to small amount, short term loans. While, these lenders may appear predatory, they do serve a large sector of society.

Maybe you need to read: The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives by Lisa Servon . It might be worth the read.

GF , December 4, 2017 at 11:02 am

Where's the Post Office Bank when you need it. This overturning of the rule is just an effort to stop the Post Office Bank from gaining traction as the alternative non-predatory source of small loans to the people. Most pay day lender companies are owned by large financial players.

Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author , December 4, 2017 at 11:11 am

I agree that's a far better approach and indeed, I discussed the Post Office bank in my October post– which is linked to in today's post. Permit me to quote from my earlier post:

The payday lending industry preys on the poorest financial consumers. One factor that has allowed it to flourish is current banking system's inability to provide access to basic financial services to a shocking number of Americans. Approximately 38 million households are un or underbanked– roughly 28% of the population.

Now, a sane and humane political system would long ago have responded with direct measures to address that core problem, such as a Post Office Bank (which Yves previously discussed in this post, Mirabile Dictu! Post Office Bank Concept Gets Big Boost and which have long existed in other countries.)

Regular readers are well aware of who benefits from the current US system, and why the lack of institutions that cater to the basic needs of financial consumers rather than focusing on extracting their pound(s) of flesh is not a bug, but a feature.

So, instead, the United States has a wide-ranging payday lending system. Which charges borrowers up to 400% interest rates for short-term loans, many of which are rolled over so that the borrower becomes a prisoner of the debt incurred.

Wisdom Seeker , December 4, 2017 at 3:23 pm

With phrasing like "unbanked" or "underbanked", I worry that you've bought into the banking-industry framing of this issue, which I'm sure is not your intent.

Ordinary people should not need any bank (not even a government or post office bank) for everyday life, with the possible exception of mortgages. De-financialization of the medium of exchange, and basic payments, is something the public should be fighting for.

lyman alpha blob , December 4, 2017 at 3:30 pm

I would consider myself an ordinary person and I pay in cash when purchasing day to day items the vast majority of the time and yet I'd still prefer to deposit my money in a bank rather than hiding it in my mattress for any number of good reasons.

Banks aren't the problem – their predatory executives are.

Wisdom Seeker , December 4, 2017 at 3:44 pm

But there are, or at least ought to be, safe and secure ways to store money other than by lending it to banks or stuffing it into mattresses. Or carrying wads of cash.

For instance, a debit card (or possibly cell phone) with a secure identity / password can already act as a cashless wallet. The digital cash could be stored directly on the device, and accounted for through something similar to TreasuryDirect, without any intermediaries. But this would require the Federal Government to get serious about having a modern Digital Dollar of some kind (not bitcoin, shudder)

Cary D Berkelhamer , December 4, 2017 at 4:32 pm

Even better would be State Banks. Every state should have one. I believe the State Bank of North Dakota made money in 2008. While the TBTF Banks came hat in hand to our Reps. Of course OUR Reps handed them a blank check and told them to "Make it go Away". However Post Office Banks would be GREAT!!

diptherio , December 4, 2017 at 11:08 am

This is the boilerplate argument that always gets brought up by payday loan defenders, and there is a good bit of truth to it. However, what you are not mentioning is that there are already far superior options available to pretty much any person who needs a small, short term loan. That solution is your friendly neighborhood Credit Union, most of which offer very low interest lines of overdraft coverage. I don't mind saying that it has saved my heiny on more than one occasion. Pay check a little late in arriving? No problem, transfer $200 from your overdraft account into your checking account on-line and you're good to go. Pay it back at your convenience, also on-line, at 7% APR.

Payday lenders are legal loansharks. The problems with their predatory lending model and the damage it does to low-income people are well documented. Simply pointing out that there is a reason that people end up at payday lenders is not a valid justification for the business practices of those lenders, especially when there are much better alternatives readily available.

Vatch , December 4, 2017 at 11:19 am

Payday lenders are legal loansharks.

Very true! There are several web sites that point out how the fees associated with payday loans raise the effective annual percentage rate into the stratosphere, ranging from 300% to over 600%. Here's one:

http://paydayloansonlineresource.org/average-interest-rates-for-payday-loans/

Off The Street , December 4, 2017 at 12:10 pm

One frustration that I have with legislation in general, and finance legislation in particular, is that it does not tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

In my Panglossian world, I envision a financial services bill that lays out the following:

Define the problem
Unserviced people: X percent( for discussion, say 10% to make the math easy) of people are un-serviced (or under-, or rapaciously-serviced) by conventional financial companies, whether banks, credit unions or other, whatever other is conventionally.
Unserviced and don't want: Y percent of that X percent (say, 50% of 10%, so 5%) doesn't want services.
Unserviced and want: 1-Y percent of that X percent (say, 50% of 10%, so 5%) wants services but can not get them. That could be due to various factors, ranging from bad credit (how defined?, say FICO < 600?) to geographic remoteness (no branches within miles, no internet, precious little slow mail service, whatever).

Within that deemed unserved 5% of the population, what are the costs to serve and what are the alternatives?

What would an honest service provider need to provide service, accounting for credit risks and the like, and still make a profit sufficient to induce investment?

If I knew how to make and add a nice graphic, I'd include a waterfall chart here to show the costs and components of the interest and fees paid in regular and default mode. Sorry, please bear with me as I make up numbers.

Regular costs
Interest at 30%
Less: cost of funds at, say, 10%
Less: personnel, overhead, everything else at, say, 5%
Pre-tax profit: 15%

Default mode costs:
Interest at 275%
Plus: Fees at 25%
Less: cost of funds 20%
Less: personnel, overhead, etc 5%
Less: added default cost not in personnel etc line, say 25%
Pre-tax profit: 250%

In that little example, who couldn't make money at those rates?

Extending the notion of APR and Truth-In-Lending to include payday lenders and anyone else without a brick-and-mortar branch who wants to do business in the US, how about mandating some type of honest waterfall chart as dreamt of above?

Then cross-reference and publicize the voting on finance legislation with the campaign contributions from payday people and their ilk, and layer in the borrower costs and credit scores and other metrics in those Congressional districts and zip+4 codes and census tracts and whatever other level of granularity will help provide any amount of disinfecting sunlight to help see the scattering cockroaches.

a different chris , December 4, 2017 at 12:57 pm

The problem I suspect is that your "friendly neighborhood credit union" is actually rarely anywhere near the neighborhoods where people who need these kind of loans live.

They don't have cars and mass transit is non-existent or so slow they couldn't get to the Credit Union during business hours, and back again, anyway. That's the problem with expecting Private Enterprise to be a solution for people at the bottom. They don't set up shop where those people live, or the ones that do are not exactly do-gooders.

lyle , December 4, 2017 at 7:33 pm

I just checked and a lot of credit unions let you apply for a loan online, (earlier you can set up membership online). So the issue of transport and time is lessened assuming folks have some form of net access.

JTMcPhee , December 4, 2017 at 1:04 pm

One might ask why there are millions of people reduced to having to get ripped off by payday and auto-title lenders, to somehow survive from week to week. Maybe because people can't make a living wage? Can't save any money, however prudent and abstemious they may be? Because inter-citizen cruelty and Calvinism are so very strong a force in this rump of an Empire?

Some of the comments here seem to build on the baseline assumption that's part of the liberal-neoliberal mantra, "You get what's coming to you (or the pittance we can't quite squeeze out of you yet)".

diptherio, I am guessing you may mean that there are models of better alternatives readily available, like paying a living wage, a social safety net for the worst off, a postal bank, national health care, stuff like that. I don't see that there are any alternatives actually available to most real people "on the ground."

Wukchumni , December 4, 2017 at 1:08 pm

There is an alternative to excessive payday loans, but only if you're in the military, where it's capped @ 36%.

Why not 36% for everybody?

diptherio , December 4, 2017 at 1:27 pm

You are, of course, correct in that the underlying problem is that so many people are forced to live on so little that they need payday loans in the first place. Thanks for pointing that out.

My point is simply that in the short-term, as a matter of practicality for those of us who don't always make it until payday before running out of money, a CU overdraft account is a very good option.

mpalomar , December 4, 2017 at 1:36 pm

Agree. The AB article from October deadpans a description of the ins and outs governing the hellishness of the company town we're living in.

lyman alpha blob , December 4, 2017 at 1:32 pm

This is a far superior option and thank you for bringing it up. The only problem is most banks and credit unions will not tell you it exists because they make a lot more money if you just keep bouncing checks.

I only learned about it when I worked for WAMU. We were tasked by management with promoting various new products to customers as a condition of being paid a monthly bonus which was the only thing that made the job pay enough to live on. Funny, they never asked us to promote the overdraft line of credit (aka an ODLOC), ever. I do remember one of my managers tell me that circa 2000 or so, WAMUs operating costs for the entire company for the entire year were offset just by the fees they collected off of bounced checks etc.

The fees or interest you pay for using an ODLOC are a small fraction of what you'd pay for bouncing just one check. IIRC, if I overdrew by $200 or so and paid it back on my next payday, the interest was generally less than $1. My local credit union has since added a $5 fee for accessing the ODLOC on top of the interest, but it's still much less than a bounced check fee or interest on a payday loan. I believe that depending on your credit history, you can get an ODLOC of up to $2500 or so which pretty much negates the need for any payday loans.

sd , December 4, 2017 at 11:14 am

A friend of mine was evicted from her apartment because of a payday loan. She failed to pay it off in full quick enough and it spiraled out of control tripling in a very short time. I really fail to see how usury is beneficial to society.

RepubAnon , December 4, 2017 at 11:55 am

Yes, there's a need for high-interest loans that bankrupt borrowers:

Mom-and-Pop Loan Sharks Being Driven Out by Big Credit Card Companies

Frank Pistone is part of the dying breed known as the American Loan Shark. Not so long ago, the loan shark flourished, offering short-term, high-interest loans to desperate people with nowhere else to turn. Today, however, Pistone and countless others like him are being squeezed out by the major credit-card companies, which can offer money to the down-and-out at lower rates of interest and without the threat of bodily harm

FluffytheObeseCat , December 4, 2017 at 12:25 pm

I read Servon's book. It is not a brief on behalf of the payday loan industry. She worked at a couple of payday lenders and explains how they serve the communities they're in, but a few things need to be noted:

The business she was most sympathetic with was a small, local one with only a couple of storefronts, in an east coast inner city. The owner and his help knew the customer base, often by name. Much of her sympathy came from her respect for the women who were dishing out the loans at the windows, not the owners and not the business model. This local joint operated like the most benign of old time pawnbroker/loansharking operation from the early part of the last century.

Most "Cash America" storefront shops (on shabby, midcentury shopping strips in inner ring scuburbs across the US) aren't this decent. They aren't "part of a community" in any sense. And the rates are usurious any way, for all of them.

Thank you to Ms. Scofield for continuing to cover this and related businesses. The upper, cleaner part of our finance industry derives more filthy lucre from these kinds of loan shops than they ever want you to know (sub-prime lending shops, title loans shops . there are a lot of modalities for fleecing the poor and the near-poor nowadays).

JTMcPhee , December 4, 2017 at 12:35 pm

The NC staff must be pleased that it seems like so many subtle apologists for the looters, predators, "intelligence community," and so forth, appear to be turning up here early in the opening of new site posts. I'm guessing the Elite are not exactly quaking in fear that NC's reporting will catalyze some change that might sweep the political economy in the direction of what the mopery would categorize as "fairness," but still

ger , December 4, 2017 at 12:42 pm

Raised the dollar definition of middle class and declared a 'new middle class' or could it be 'new middle class' is actually referring to the 'new middle poor'. The former middle class is desperately trying to avoid a plunge into the pits of the 'poor poor'. Payday Loan predators are greasing the handrails.

Matthew Cunningham-Cook , December 4, 2017 at 3:15 pm

"Where will the money-changers change money if not in the Holy Temple? Aren't we starving the priests of much-needed revenue? This Jesus guy is totally disingenuous."

John , December 4, 2017 at 9:32 pm

In good neo liberal fashion that Jesus dude got exactly what he deserved. The effrontry of that guy to chase those hard working money lenders out of the temple square. Got exactly what was coming to him.

sd , December 4, 2017 at 11:11 am

H.J.Res.122 – Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection relating to "Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans".

December 1, 2017

Sponsor Rep. Ross, Dennis A. [R-FL-15] (Introduced 12/01/2017)
Rep. Hastings, Alcee L. [D-FL-20]
Rep. Graves, Tom [R-GA-14]
Rep. Cuellar, Henry [D-TX-28]
Rep. Stivers, Steve [R-OH-15]
Rep. Peterson, Collin C. [D-MN-7]

perpetualWAR , December 4, 2017 at 12:21 pm

Ahhh ..look at this list. TWO Florida lawbreakers introducing this banker bill. And one from Minnesota. Y'all know that Jacksonville, FL and St. Paul, MN are the two places where the forgeries continue to be provided to the financial crooks? So, it goes to figure that the lawbreakers are attempting to protect the financial crooks committing forgery in their prospective states! How appro.

jawbone , December 4, 2017 at 1:44 pm

If any of these House critters are "representing" you, time for lots of calls to them.

And thanks, SD, for listing them. I always wonder why our vaunted free press so seldom lists the sponsors of legislation when it's reported on . Hhmm .
m .

Mike R. , December 4, 2017 at 1:19 pm

I have mixed feelings about this specific issue.
The larger issue of a grossly skewed economic system is what needs to be fixed.
There will always be people that lack common sense and brains regarding money. There will always be people that will take advantage of that.
I don't know how or why you would try and legislate that away.
We need to move in the direction of solving the biggest problems and not get wrapped up in the little problems.
The numbers above sound horrendous, but 7 billion in profit on 46 billion loaned is 14% return. Credit card companies are worse. 7 billion in profit off of 12 million people is $600 per person. Alot for poor folks I recognize, but not necessarily life shattering for all.

The "system" loves to wrangle around with issues like this (trivial in my mind) so the handful of big ones go unattended.

nonclassical , December 4, 2017 at 1:46 pm

some have apparently not felt it necessary to bail out family members for aggressive, egregious and immediate interest rates and escalations charged by these scammers

but there certainly appears concerted effort by (likely) shills to perpetuate scams (and to discredit Consumer Financial Protection Agency and Liz Warren )

Warren-Sanders 2020

Wisdom Seeker , December 4, 2017 at 3:37 pm

I think there's an error in the original article, where it says:

CRA's procedures to overturn legislation had been invoked, successfully, only once before Trump became president. Congressional Republicans and Trump have used CRA procedures multiple times to kill regulations (emphasis added)

My understanding is that CRA gives Congress the power to overturn executive branch regulations , not legislation (which Congress already can overturn anyway). Is that incorrect?

P.S. It's sad that it might not even matter. Nowadays the public can't tell the difference between regulations (written by unaccountable, unelected officials who take the revolving door back to working at the firms they regulated) and legislation (written by unaccountable, only notionally elected politicians who get paid off in various ways by lobbyists for the same firms)

Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author , December 4, 2017 at 8:07 pm

You're correct– fixed it! Slip of the fingers there that I didn't catch when I proofread the post. As the rest of the paragraph makes clear, CRA procedures are used to overturn regulations.

Thanks for reading my work so carefully and drawing the error to my attention.

John k , December 4, 2017 at 8:26 pm

Finally bipartisan!
Trump loves it
Obomber woulda loved it
She who cannot be named woulda loved it, too.
Time for them all to get over that little spat she did it before trump should appoint her to something useful I bet she'd love secdef

Taras 77 , December 4, 2017 at 10:40 pm

Where is the lovely Debbie Wasserman schultz in all of this? She has not surprisingly been a leading cheerleader for these pay day lender sharks. but hey, what the hey, the lobby money is good!

[Dec 05, 2017] Inside Casino Capitalism by Max Holland

Notable quotes:
"... Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco ..."
"... The Wall Street Journal ..."
"... The triumph of gossip over substance is manifest in many other ways. Wall Street's deft manipulation of the business press is barely touched upon, and the laissez-faire ..."
"... Fulminations about the socially corrosive effects of greed aside, the buyout phenomenon may represent one of the biggest changes in the way American business is conducted since the rise of the public corporation, nothing less than a transformation of managerial into financial capitalism. The ferocious market for corporate control that emerged during the 1980s has few parallels in business history, but there are two: the trusts that formed early in this century and the conglomerate mania that swept corporate America during the 1960s. Both waves resulted in large social and economic costs, and there is little assurance that the corporate infatuation with debt will not exact a similarly heavy toll. ..."
"... the high levels of debt associated with buyouts and other forms of corporate restructuring create fragility in business structures and vulnerability to economic cycles ..."
"... Germany and Japan incur higher levels of debt for expansion and investment, whereas equivalent American indebtedness is linked to the recent market for corporate control. That creates a brittle structure, one that threatens to turn the U.S. government into something of an ultimate guarantor if and when things do fall about. It is too easy to construct a scenario in which corporate indebtedness forces the federal government into the business of business. The savings-and-loan bailout is a painfully obvious harbinger of such a development. ..."
"... The many ramifications of the buyout mania deserve thoughtful treatment. Basic issues of corporate governance and accountability ought to be openly debated and resolved if the American economy is to deliver the maximum benefit to society and not just unconscionable rewards to a handful of bankers, all out of proportion to their social productivity. It is disappointing, but a sign of the times, that the best book about the deal of deals fails to educate as well as it entertains. ..."
Washington DeCoded

Inside Casino Capitalism Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco
By Bryan Burrough and John Helyar
Harper & Row. 528 pp. $22.95

In 1898, Adolphus Green, chairman of the National Biscuit Company, found himself faced with the task of choosing a trademark for his newly formed baking concern. Green was a progressive businessman. He refused to employ child labor, even though it was then a common practice, and he offered his bakery employees the option to buy stock at a discount. Green therefore thought that his trademark should symbolize Nabisco's fundamental business values, "not merely to make dividends for the stockholders of his company, but to enhance the general prosperity and the moral sentiment of the United States." Eventually he decided that a cross with two bars and an oval – a medieval symbol representing the triumph of the moral and spiritual over the base and material – should grace the package of every Nabisco product.

If they had wracked their brains for months, Bryan Burrough and John Helyar could not have come up with a more ironic metaphor for their book. The fall of Nabisco, and its corporate partner R.J. Reynolds, is nothing less than the exact opposite of Green's business credo, a compelling tale of corporate and Wall Street greed featuring RJR Nabisco officers who first steal shareholders blind and then justify their epic displays of avarice by claiming to maximize shareholder value.

The event which made the RJR Nabisco story worth telling was the 1988 leveraged buyout (LBO) of the mammoth tobacco and food conglomerate, then the 19th-largest industrial corporation in America. Battles for corporate control were common during the loosely regulated 1980s, and the LBO was just one method for capturing the equity of a corporation. (In a typical LBO, a small group of top management and investment bankers put 10 percent down and finance the rest of their purchase through high-interest loans or bonds. If the leveraged, privately-owned corporation survives, the investors, which they can re-sell public shares, reach the so-called "pot of gold"; but if the corporation cannot service its debt, everything is at risk, because the collateral is the corporation itself.

The sheer size of RJR Nabisco and the furious bidding war that erupted guaranteed unusual public scrutiny of this particular piece of financial engineering. F. Ross Johnson, the conglomerate's flamboyant, free-spending CEO (RJR had its own corporate airline), put his own company into play with a $75-a-share bid in October. Experienced buyout artists on Wall Street, however, immediately realized that Johnson was trying to play two incompatible games. LBOs typically put corporations such as RJR Nabisco through a ringer in order to pay the mammoth debt incurred after a buyout. But Johnson, desiring to keep corporate perquisites intact, "low-balled" his offer. Other buyout investors stepped forward with competing bids, and after a six-week-long auction the buyout boutique of Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Company (KKR) emerged on top with a $109-a-share bid. The $25-billion buyout took its place as one of the defining business events of the 1980s

Burrough and Helyar, who covered the story for The Wall Street Journal, supply a breezy, colorful, blow-by-blow account of the "deal from hell" (as one businessman characterized a leveraged buyout). The language of Wall Street, full of incongruous "Rambo" jargon from the Vietnam War, is itself arresting. Buyout artists, who presumably never came within 10,000 miles of wartime Saigon, talk about "napalming" corporate perquisites or liken their strategy to "charging through the rice paddies, not stopping for anything and taking no prisoners."

At the time, F. Ross Johnson was widely pilloried in the press as the embodiment of excess; his conflict of interest was obvious. Yet Burrough and Helyar show that Johnson, for all his free-spending ways, was way over his head in the major leagues of greed, otherwise known as Wall Street in the 1980s. What, after all, is more rapacious: the roughly $100 million Johnson stood to gain if his deal worked out over five years, or the $45 million in expenses KKR demanded for waiting 60 minutes while Ross Johnson prepared a final competing bid?

Barbarians is, in the parlance of the publishing world, a good read. At the same time, unfortunately, a disclaimer issued by the authors proves only too true. Anyone looking for a definitive judgment of LBOs will be disappointed. Burrough and Helyar do at least ask the pertinent question: What does all this activity have to do with building and sustaining a business? But authors should not only pose questions; they should answer them, or at least try.

Admittedly, the single most important answer to the RJR puzzle could not be provided by Burrough and Helyar because it is not yet known. The major test of any financial engineering is its effect on the long-term vitality of the leveraged corporation, as measured by such key indicators as market share (and not just whether the corporation survives its debt, as the authors imply). However, a highly-leveraged RJR Nabisco is already selling off numerous profitable parts of its business because they are no longer a "strategic fit": Wall Street code signifying a need for cash in order to service debts and avoid bankruptcy.

If the authors were unable to predict the ultimate outcome, they still had a rare opportunity to explain how and why an LBO is engineered. Unfortunately, their fixation on re-creating events and dialogue – which admittedly produces a fast-moving book – forced them to accept the issues as defined by the participants themselves. There is no other way to explain the book's uncritical stance. When, for example, the RJR Nabisco board of directors tried to decide which bid to accept, Burrough and Helyar report that several directors sided with KKR's offer because the LBO boutique "knew the value of keeping [employees] happy." It is impossible to tell from the book whether the directors knew this to be true or took KKR's word. Even a cursory investigation would have revealed that KKR is notorious for showing no concern for employees below senior management after a leveraged buyout.

The triumph of gossip over substance is manifest in many other ways. Wall Street's deft manipulation of the business press is barely touched upon, and the laissez-faire environment procured by buyout artists via their political contributions is scarcely mentioned, crucial though it is. Nowhere are the authors' priorities more obvious than in the number of words devoted to Henry Kravis's conspicuous consumption compared to those devoted to the details of the RJR deal. In testimony before Congress last year, no less an authority than Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady – himself an old Wall Street hand – noted that the substitution of tax-deductible debt for taxable income is "the mill in which the grist of takeover premiums is ground."

In the case of RJR Nabisco, 81 percent of the $9.9 billion premium paid to shareholders was derived from tax breaks achievable after the buyout. This singularly important fact cannot be found in the book, however; nor will a reader learn that after the buyout the U.S. Treasury was obligated to refund RJR as much as $1 billion because of its post-buyout debt burden. In Barbarians, more time is spent describing Kravis's ostentatious gifts to his fashion-designer wife than to the tax considerations that make or break these deals.

Fulminations about the socially corrosive effects of greed aside, the buyout phenomenon may represent one of the biggest changes in the way American business is conducted since the rise of the public corporation, nothing less than a transformation of managerial into financial capitalism. The ferocious market for corporate control that emerged during the 1980s has few parallels in business history, but there are two: the trusts that formed early in this century and the conglomerate mania that swept corporate America during the 1960s. Both waves resulted in large social and economic costs, and there is little assurance that the corporate infatuation with debt will not exact a similarly heavy toll.

As the economist Henry Kaufman has written, the high levels of debt associated with buyouts and other forms of corporate restructuring create fragility in business structures and vulnerability to economic cycles. Inexorably, the shift away from equity invites the close, even intrusive involvement of institutional investors (banks, pension funds, and insurance companies) that provide the financing. Superficially, this moves America closer to the system that prevails in Germany and Japan, where historically the relationship between the suppliers and users of capital is close. But Germany and Japan incur higher levels of debt for expansion and investment, whereas equivalent American indebtedness is linked to the recent market for corporate control. That creates a brittle structure, one that threatens to turn the U.S. government into something of an ultimate guarantor if and when things do fall about. It is too easy to construct a scenario in which corporate indebtedness forces the federal government into the business of business. The savings-and-loan bailout is a painfully obvious harbinger of such a development.

The many ramifications of the buyout mania deserve thoughtful treatment. Basic issues of corporate governance and accountability ought to be openly debated and resolved if the American economy is to deliver the maximum benefit to society and not just unconscionable rewards to a handful of bankers, all out of proportion to their social productivity. It is disappointing, but a sign of the times, that the best book about the deal of deals fails to educate as well as it entertains.

[Nov 29, 2017] Positive Feedback Loops, Financial Instability, The Blind Spot Of Policymakers

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Primates with about exponentially increasing physical technologies continue to deliberately ignore and misunderstand themselves as much as is humanly possible, due to the history of warfare making and maintaining the currently existing political economy, whose maliciousness is manifesting through runaway vicious feedback loops, whereby the excessively successful control of Civilization through applications of the methods of organized crime are resulting in that Civilization manifesting runaway criminal insanities. Indeed, in that context, where there is almost nothing but the central core of triumphant organized crime, namely bankster dominated governments, surrounded by various layers of controlled "opposition" groups, which stay within the same bullshit-based frames of reference regarding those phenomena, the overall situation is that society becoming about exponentially sicker and insane. ..."
"... In general, "Asset Managers" are stuck inside taking for granted that everything they do has become almost totally based on being able to enforce frauds, despite some of them noticing the increasingly blatant ways that there are accumulating apparent anomalies in those systems, as vicious feedback loops drive those systems to become about exponentially more fraudulent, and therefore increasingly unbalanced. To come to better terms with those apparent anomalies requires going through series of intellectual scientific revolutions and profound paradigm shifts, which overall become ways that human beings better understand themselves as manifestations of general energy systems. However, since doing so requires recognizing how and why governments are necessarily the biggest forms of organized crime, dominated by the best organized gangsters, the banksters, it continues to be politically impossible to accomplish that. ..."
"... At each open, algos compute the increase in their AUM from the prior day and their margin reach. They then begin buying. All algos do this. Buying whenever cash/margin exists; selling whenever profit targets exist. On pullbacks, the algos withdraw, volume evaporates, minimizing the drop. The algos collectively increase equity prices without consideration of the value of the money involved. Not valuations. No fundamentals. Just ones and zeroes. Just a program. ..."
Nov 22, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

Macro-prudential regulations follow financial crises, rarely do they precede one. Even when evidence is abundant of systemic risks building up, as is today, regulators and policymakers have a marked tendency to turn an institutional blind eye, hoping for imbalances to fizzle out on their own – at least beyond the duration of their mandates. It does not work differently in economics than it does for politics, where short-termism drives the agenda, oftentimes at the expenses of either the next government, the broader population or the next generation.

It does not work differently in the business world either, where corporate actions are selected based on the immediate gratification of shareholders, which means pleasing them at the next round of earnings, often at the expenses of long-term planning and at times exposing the company itself to disruption threats from up-and-comers.

Long-term vision does not pay; it barely shows up in the incentive schemes laid out for most professions . Economics is no exception. Orthodoxy and stillness preserve the status quo, and the advantages hard earned by the few who rose from the ranks of the establishment beforehand.

Yet, when it comes to Central Banking, and more in general policymaking, financial stability should top the priority list. It honorably shows up in the utility function, together with price stability and employment, but is not pursued nearly as actively as them. Central planning and interventionism is no anathema when it comes to target the decimals of unemployment or consumer prices, yet is residual when it comes to master systemic risks, relegated to the camp of ex-post macro-prudential regulation. This is all the more surprising as we know all too well how badly a deep unsettlement of financial markets can reverberate across the real economy, possibly leading into recessions, unemployment, un-anchoring of inflation expectations and durable disruption to consumer patterns. There is no shortage of reminders for that in the history books, looking at the fallout of dee dives in markets in 1929, 2000 and 2007, amongst others.

Intriguingly, the other way round is accepted and even theorized. Manipulating bond and stock prices, directly or indirectly, is mainstream policy theory today. From Ben Bernanke's 'portfolio balance channel theory', to the relentless pursuit of the 'wealth effect' via financial repression under Janet Yellen and Haruhiko Kuroda, to Mario Draghi tackling the fragmentation of credit markets across the EU via direct asset purchases, the practice has become commonplace. To some, like us, the 'wealth effect' may be proving to be more of an 'inequality effect' than much, leading to populism and constantly threatening regime change, but that is beyond the scope of this note today.

What we want to focus on instead is the direct impact that monetary interventionism like Quantitative Easing ('QE') and Negative or Zero Interest Rate Policies ('NIRP' or 'ZIRP') have on the structure of the market itself, how they help create a one-sided investment community, oftentimes long-only, fully invested when not levered up, relying on record-highs for bonds and stocks to perpetuate themselves endlessly - despite a striking disconnect from fundamentals, life-dependent on the lowest levels of volatility ever seen in history . The market structure morphed under the eyes of policymakers over the last few years, to become a pressure cooker at risk of blowing-up, with a small but steadily growing probability as times goes by and the bubble inflates. The positive feedback loops between monetary flooding and the private investment community are culpable for transforming an ever present market risk into a systemic risk, and for masking as peaceful what is instead an unstable equilibrium and market fragility.

Positive Feedback Loops create divergence from general equilibrium, and Systemic Risks

Positive feedback loops , in finance like in biology, chemistry, cybernetics, breed system instability, as they orchestrate a further divergence from equilibrium . An unstable equilibrium is defined as one where a small disturbance is sufficient to trigger a large adjustment.

QE and NIRP have two predominant effects on markets: (i) relentless up-trend in stocks and bonds (the 'Trend Factor') , dominated by the buy-the-dip mentality, which encapsulates the 'moral hazard' of investors knowing Central Banks are prompt to come to their rescue (otherwise known as 'Bernanke/Yellen/Kuroda/Draghi put'), and (ii) the relentless down-trend in volatility the 'Volatility Factor').

Two Factors Explain All: Trend and Volatility

The most fashionable investment strategies these days are directly impacted by either one or both of these drivers. Such strategies make the bulk of the overall market, after leverage or turnover is taken into account : we will refer to them in the following as 'passive' or 'quasi-passive' . The trend impacts the long-only community, crowning it as a sure winner, making the case for low- cost passive investing. The low volatility permeates everything else, making the case for full- investment and leverage.

The vast majority of investors these days are not independent from the QE environment they operate within : ETFs and index funds, Risk Parity funds and Target Volatility vehicles, Low Volatility / Short Volatility vehicles, trend-chasing algos, Machine Learning-inspired funds, behavioral Alternative Risk Premia funds. They are the poster children of the QE world. We estimate combined assets under management of in excess of $8trn across the spectrum. They form a broad category of 'passive' or 'quasi-passive' investors, as are being mechanically driven by two main factors: trend and volatility.

Source: Fasanara Presentations | Market Fragility - How to Position for Twin Bubbles Bust, 16 th October 2017. The slide is described in details in this video recording.

Extraordinary monetary policies have feedback loops with the asset management industry as a whole, reinforcing the effects on markets of such policies in a vicious – or virtuous - cycle . QE and NIRP help a large number of investment strategies to flourish, validating their success and supporting their asset gathering in the process, and are in return helped in boosting bond and stock markets by their flows joining the already monumental public flows.

Private flows so reach singularity with public flows, and the whole market economy morphs into a one big common bet on ever-rising prices, in shallow volatility. Here is the story of how $15trn of money printing by major Central Banks in the last ten years, of which $3.7trn in 2017 alone, is joined by total assets of $8trn managed into buying the same safe and risk assets across, with leverage, indiscriminately.

How Market Risk became Systemic Risk

Let's give a cursory look at the main players involved (a recent presentation we did is recorded here) . As markets trend higher, no matter what happens (ever against the shocked disbeliefs of Brexit, Trump, an Italian failed referendum and nuclear threats in North Korea), investors understand the outperformance that comes from pricing risks out of their portfolios entirely and going long-only and fully-invested. Whoever under-weighs positions in an attempt to be prudent ends up underperforming its benchmarks and is then penalized with redemptions. Passive investors who are long-only and fully invested are the winners, as they are designed to be bold and insensitive to risks. As Central Banks policies reduce the level of interest rates to zero or whereabouts, fees become ever more relevant, making the case for passive investing most compelling. The rise of ETF and passive index funds is then inevitable.

According to JP Morgan, in the last 10 years, $2trn left active managers in equities and $2trn entered passive managers (pag.39 here) . We may be excused for thinking they are the same $ 2trn of underlying investors progressively pricing risk provisions out of books, de facto , while chasing outperformance and lower fees.

To be sure, ETFs are a great financial innovation, helping reducing costs in an expensive industry and giving entry to markets previously un-accessible to most investors. Yet, what matters here is their impact on systemic risks, via positive feedback loops. In circular reference, beyond Central Banks flows, markets are helped rise by such classes of valuations-insensitive passive investors, which are then rewarded with further inflows, with which they can then buy more. The more expensive valuations get, the more they disconnect from fundamentals, the more divergence from equilibrium occurs, the larger fat-tail risks become.

In ever-rising markets, 'buy-and-hold' strategies may only possibly be outsmarted by 'buy-the-dip' strategies. Whatever the outcome of risk events, be ready to buy the dip quickly and blindly. As more investors design themselves up to do so, the dips are shallower over time, leading to an S&P500 that never lost 3% in 2017, an historical milestone. Machine learning is another beautiful market innovation, but what is there to learn from the time series of the last several years, if not that buy- the-dip works, irrespective of what caused the dip. Big Data is yet another great concept, shaping the future of us all. Yet, most data ever generated in humankind dates back three years only, in and by itself a striking limitation. The quality of the deduction cannot exceed the quality of the time series upon which the data science was applied. If the time series is untrustworthy, as is heavily influenced by monumental public flows ($300bn per months), what trust can we put on any model output originating from it? What pattern recognition can we really be hopeful of getting, in the first place? May some of it just be a commercial disguise for going long, selling volatility and leveraging up in various shapes or forms? What is hype and what is real? A short and compromised data series makes it hard, if not possible, to really know. Once public flows abate and price discovery is let free again, then and only then will we be in a position to know the difference.

Low volatility does what trending markets alone cannot. A state of low volatility presents the appearance of stuporous, innocuous, narcotized markets, thus enticing new swathes of unfitting investors in, mostly retail-type 'weak hands'. Weak hands are investors who are brought to like investments by certain characteristics which are uncommon to the specific investment itself, such as featuring a low volatility. It is in this form that we see bond-like investors looking at the stock market for yield pick-up purposes, magnetized by levels of realized volatility similar to what fixed income used to provide with during the Great Moderation. It is in this form that Tech companies out of the US have started filling the coffers of not just Growth ETF, where they should rightfully reside, but also Momentum ETF, and even, incredibly, Low-Volatility ETF.

Low volatility is also a dominant input for Risk Parity funds and Target Volatility vehicles . The lower the volatility, the higher the leverage allowed in such players, mechanically. All of which are long-only players, joining public flows, again helping the market rise to record levels in the process, in circular reference. Rewarded by new inflows, the buying spree gathers momentum, in a virtuous circle. Valuations are no real input in the process, volatility is what matters the most. Volatility is not risk, except for them it is.

It goes further than that. It is not only the level of volatility that count, but its direction too . As volatility implodes, relentlessly, into historical lows never seen before in history, a plethora of investment strategies is launched to capitalize on just that, directly: Short Volatility vehicles . They are the best performing strategy of the last decade, by and large. The problem here is that, due to construction, as volatility got to single-digit territory, relatively small spikes are now enough to trigger wipe-out events on several of these instruments. Our analysis shows that if equity volatility doubles up from current levels (while still being half of what it was as recently as in August 2015), certain Short Vol ETFs may stand to lose up to 75% or more. Moreover, short positions on long-vol ETFs can lose up to 250% of capital. For some, 'termination events' are built into contracts for sudden losses of this magnitude, meaning that the notes would be prematurely withdrawn. It is one thing to expect a spike in volatility to cause losses, it is quite another to know that a minor move is all it takes to trigger a default event.

On such spikes in volatility, Morgan Stanley Quant Derivatives Strategy desk warns further that market makers may be forced to rebalance their exposure non-linearly on a spike in volatility. A drop in the S&P 500 of 5% in one day may trigger approximately $ 400mn of Vega notional of rebalancing (pag.48 here) . We estimate that half a trillion dollars of additional selling on S&P stocks may occur following a correction of between 5% and 10%. That is a lot of selling, pre-set in markets, waiting to strike. Unless you expect the market to not have another 5% sell-off, ever again.

For more details, we describe the role of these different players in a recent video presentation and in our June Investment Outlook and May Investment Outlook.

It's All One Big Position

What do ETFs, Risk Parity and Target Vol vehicles, Low Vol / Short Vol vehicles, trend-chasing algos, Machine Learning, behavioral Alternative Risk Premia, factor investing have in common? Except, of course, being the 'winners take all' of QE-driven markets. They all share one or more of the following risk factors: long-only, fully invested when not leveraged-up, short volatility, short correlation, short gamma Thanks to QE and NIRP, the whole market is becoming one single big position.

The 'Trend Factor' and the 'Volatility Factor' are over-whelming, making it inevitable for a high- beta, long-bias, short-vol proxy to disseminate across. Almost inescapably so, given the time series the asset management industry has to deal with, and derive its signals from.

Several classes of investors may move to sell in lock-steps if and when markets turn. The boost to asset prices and the zero-volatility environment created the conditions for systemic risks in the form of an over-compensation to the downside. Record-low volatility breeds market fragility, it precedes system instability.

Flows Matter, Both Ways!

We will know soon if the fragility of markets is that bad. The undoing of loose monetary policies (NIRP, ZIRP) will create a liquidity withdrawal of over $1 trillion in 2018 alone (pag.61-62 here) . The reaction of the passive and quasi-passive communities will determine the speed of the adjustment in the pricing for both safe and risk assets, and how quickly risk provisions will re- enter portfolios. Such liquidity withdrawal will represent the first real crash-test for markets in 10 years.

As public spending on Wall Street abates, the risk is evident of seeing the whole market turning with it. The shocks of Trump and Brexit did not manage to derail markets for long, as public flows were overwhelming. Flows is what mattered, above all elusive, over-fitting economic narratives justifying price action at the margin. Flows may matter again now as they fade

Systemic Risk is Not Just About Banks: Look at Funds

The role of trending markets is known when it comes to systemic risks: a not sufficient but necessary condition. Most trends do not necessarily lead to systemic risks, but hardly systemic risks ever build up without a prolonged period of uptrend beforehand. Prolonged uptrends in any asset class hold the potential to instill the perception that such asset class will grow forever, irrespective of the fundamentals, and may thus lead to excessive risk taking, excess leverage, the formation of a bubble and, ultimately, systemic risks. The mind goes to the asset class of real estate, its undeterred uptrend into 2006/2007, its perception of perpetuity ("we have never had a decline in house prices on a nationwide basis'' Ben Bernanke) , the credit bubble built on banks hazardous activities on subprime mortgages as a result, and the systemic risks which emanated, with damages spanning well beyond the borders of real estate.

The role of volatility is also well-researched, especially low volatility. Hayman Minsky, in his " Financial Instability Hypothesis '' in 1977, analyses the behavioral changes induced by a reduction of volatility, postulating that economic agents observing a low risk are induced to increase risk taking, which may in turn lead to a crisis: "stability is destabilizing". In a recent study, Jon Danielsson, Director of the Systemic Risk Centre at the LSE, finds unambiguous support for the 'low volatility channel', insofar as prolonged periods of low volatility have a strong predictive power over the incidence of a banking crisis, owing to excess lending and excess leverage . The economic impact is the highest if the economy stays in the low volatility environment for five years : a 1% decrease in volatility below its trend translates in a 1.01% increase in the probability of a crisis. He also finds that, counter-intuitively, high volatility has little predictive power : very interesting, when the whole finance world at large is based on retrospective VAR metrics, and equivocates high volatility for high risk.

Both a persistent trend and prolonged low-volatility can lead banks to take excessive risks. But what about their impact on the asset management industry?

Thinking at the hard economic impact of the Great Depression (1929-1932) and the Great Recession (2007-2009), and the eminent role played by banks in both, it comes as little surprise that the banking sector captures all the attention. However, what remains to be looked into, and perhaps more worrying in today's environment, is the role of prolonged periods of uptrend and low-vol on the asset management industry

In 2014, the Financial Stability Board (FSB), an international body that makes recommendations to G20 nations on financial risks, published a consultation paper asking whether fund managers might need to be designated as " global systemically important financial institution " or G-SIFI, a step that would involve greater regulation and oversight. It did not result in much, as the industry lobbied in protest, emphasizing the difference between the levered balance sheet of a bank and the business of funds.

The reason for asking the question is evident: (i) sheer size , as the AM industry ballooned in the last few years, to now represent over [15trnXX] for just the top 5 US players!, (ii) funds have partially substituted banks in certain market-making activities, as banks dialed back their participation in response to tighter regulation and (iii) , funds can indeed do damage: think of LTCM in 1998, the fatal bailout of two Real Estate funds by Bear Stearns in 2007, the money market funds 'breaking the buck' in 2008 amongst others.

But it is not just sheer size that matters for asset managers. What may worry more is the positive feedback loops discussed above and the resulting concentration of bets in one single global pot , life-dependent on infinite momentum/trend and ever-falling volatility. Positive feedback loops are the link for the sheer size of the AM industry to become systemically relevant. Today more than ever, they morph market risks in systemic risks.

Volatility will not forever be low, the trend will not forever go: how bad a damage when it stops? As macro prudential policy is not the art of "whether or not it will happen" but of "what happens if", it is hard not to see this as a blind spot for policymakers nowadays.

ebworthen , Nov 22, 2017 10:55 AM

In other words, it's a Ponzi scheme.

Let it Go , Nov 22, 2017 11:49 AM

I have never seen it this bad, the numbers are all moutof wack!

It seems many of us are drawn to a good illusion and this proves true for most people in their daily life as well. In some ways, it could be said that our culture has become obsessed with avoiding what is real.

We must remember that politicians and those in power tend to throw people under the bus rather than rise up and take responsibility for the problems they create. The article below looks at how we have grown to believe things are fine.

http://The Allure Of Ilusions-Five Favorite Financial Myths.html

Batman11 , Nov 22, 2017 12:47 PM

The real estate boom features all the unknowns in today's thinking, which is why they are global.

This simple equation is unknown.

Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)

You can immediately see how high housing costs have to be covered by wages; business pays the high housing costs for expensive housing adding to costs and reducing profits. The real estate boom raises costs to business and makes your nation uncompetitive in a globalised world.

The unproductive lending involved that leads to financial crises.

The UK:

https://cdn.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2017/04/Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-13.53.09.png

The economy gets loaded up with unproductive lending as future spending power has been taken to inflate the value of the nation's housing stock. Housing is more expensive and the future has been impoverished.

US:

https://cdn.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2017/04/Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-13.52.41.png

Unproductive lending is not good for the economy and led directly to 1929 and 2008.

Neoliberalism's underlying economics, neoclassical economics, doesn't look at private debt and so no one really knew what they were doing.

The real estate boom feels good for a reason that is not known to today's thinkers.

Monetary theory has been regressing since 1856, when someone worked out how the system really worked.

Credit creation theory -> fractional reserve theory -> financial intermediation theory

"A lost century in economics: Three theories of banking and the conclusive evidence" Richard A. Werner

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1057521915001477

" banks make their profits by taking in deposits and lending the funds out at a higher rate of interest" Paul Krugman, 2015. He wouldn't know, that's financial intermediation theory.

Bank lending creates money, which pours into the economy fuelling the boom; it is this money creation that makes the housing boom feel so good in the general economy. It feels like there is lots of money about because there is.

The housing bust feels so bad because the opposite takes place, and money gets sucked out of the economy as the repayments overtake new lending. It feels like there isn't much money about because there isn't.

They were known unknowns, the people that knew weren't the policymakers to whom these things were unknown.

The global economy told policymakers there was something seriously wrong in 2008, but they ignored it, I didn't.

Batman11 -> Batman11 , Nov 22, 2017 12:51 PM

The most fundamental of all fundamentals was unknown.

The relationship between debt and money.

the money supply = all the debt in the system, public and private

http://www.whichwayhome.com/skin/frontend/default/wwgcomcatalogarticles/images/articles/whichwayhomes/US-money-supply.jpg

M3 is going exponential before 2008, a credit bubble is underway (debt = money)

The FED and everyone else doesn't realise.

Batman11 -> Batman11 , Nov 22, 2017 1:25 PM

This is why austerity doesn't work in a balance sheet recession, e.g. Greece.

The IMF predicted Greek GDP would have recovered by 2015 with austerity.

By 2015 it was down 27% and still falling.

Oh dear.

Richard Koo had to explain the problem to the IMF.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YTyJzmiHGk

They had pushed Greece into debt deflation by cutting Government spending with austerity.

It wasn't just the IMF, the Troika all went along with this fatally flawed policy, this means the ECB and EU Commission also didn't know what they were doing.

Richard Koo had watched as Western "experts" told Japan to cut Government spending and seen the fall in GDP as the economy went downhill. The only way to get things going again was to increase Government spending and he has had decades to work out what was going on.

The Troika's bad economics has been wreaking havoc across the Club-Med.

Mark Blythe looks at the data.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6vV8_uQmxs&feature=em-subs_digest-vrecs

It comes out of knowledge that is missing from the mainstream.

Batman11 -> Batman11 , Nov 22, 2017 1:31 PM

Balancing the budget ............ be careful you might head into debt deflation.

If the private sector aren't borrowing the Government needs to borrow to keep the money supply stable.

You don't want to end up like Greece do you?

Radical Marijuana , Nov 22, 2017 3:15 PM

Another superficially correct analysis of "Positive Feedback Loops create divergence from general equilibrium, and Systemic Risks." The vicious feedback loops which have the most leverage are all aspects of the funding of the political processes, which have resulted in runaway systems of legalized lies, backed by legalized violence, the most important of which are the ways that the powers of public governments enforce frauds by private banks, the big corporations that have grown up around those big banks.

About exponentially advancing technologies have enabled enforced frauds to become about exponentially more fraudulent. The underlying drivers were the ways that the combined money/murder systems developed, whose social successfulness became more and more based on maximizing maliciousness. From a superficial point of view, those results may appear to be due to incompetence, however, from a deeper point of view those results make sense as due to the excessively successful applications of the methods of organized crime through the political processes, due to the vicious feedback loops of the funding of those political processes.

The only connections between human laws and natural laws are the abilities to back up lies with violence. Natural selection pressures have driven Globalized Neolithic Civilization to develop the most dishonest artificial selection systems possible, while the continuation of the various vicious feedback loops that made and maintained those developments are driving about exponentially increasing dishonesty. Although the laws of nature are not going to stop working, and the laws of nature underpinned the runaway development of excessively successful vicious feedback loops of organized crime, on larger and larger scales, to result in Globalized Neolithic Civilization, the overall results are that Civilization is becoming about exponentially more psychotic. Since Civilization necessarily operates according to the principles and methods of organized crime, while those who became the biggest and best organized forms of organized crime, namely, banker dominated governments, also necessarily became most dishonest about themselves, and yet, their bullshit social stories continue to dominate the public schools, and mainstream mass media, as well as the publicly significant controlled "opposition" groups.

Political economy is INSIDE human ecology, and therefore, the greatest systematic risks are to be found in the tragic trajectory of human ecologies which are almost totally buried under maximized maliciousness. "Public debates" about the human death control systems are based on previously having being as deceitful and treacherous as possible regarding those topics. The most extreme forms of that manifest as the ways that money is measurement backed by murder. Of course, that the debt controls are backed by the death controls are issues which are generally not publicly admitted nor addressed.

Global Neolithic Civilization has become almost totally based on being able to enforce frauds, in ways which have become about exponentially more fraudulent, as the vicious feedback loops which enable that to happen automatically reinforce themselves to get worse, faster. The almost total triumph of enforced frauds has resulted in social "realities" which are becoming exponentially more insane, since the social successfulness of enforced frauds requires the most people do not understand that, because they have been conditioned to not want to understand that. Rather, almost everyone takes for granted deliberately ignoring and misunderstanding the laws of nature in the most absurdly backward ways possible, because of the long history of successful warfare based on deceits and treacheries becoming the more recent history of successful finance based on enforcing frauds, despite that tragic trajectory of vicious feedback loops resulting in about exponentially increasing overall fraudulence.

Various superficially correct analyses, such as the one in the article above, are typical of the content on Zero Hedge , which does not come remotely close to recognizing the degree to which the dominate natural languages and philosophy of science have undergone series of compromises with the biggest bullies' bullshit-based world views, which became the banksters' bullshit about economics. Although it is theoretically possible for human beings to better understand themselves and Civilization, it continues to become more and more politically impossible to do so, due to the ever increasing vicious feedback loops of enforced frauds achieving symbolic robberies ...

Although the laws of nature are never going to stop working, it is barely possible to exaggerate the degree to which Civilization overall is becoming about exponentially more psychotic, due to the social "realities" based on successfully enforcing frauds becoming more and more out of touch with the surrounding, relatively objective, physical and biological facts. The various superficially correct analyses presented on Zero Hedge regarding that kind of runaway collective psychosis, driven by the vicious feedback loops of the funding of all aspects of the funding of the political processes, tend to always grossly understate the seriousness of that situation, especially including the crucial issues of how to operate the human murder systems after the development of weapons of mass destruction, which is unavoidable due to the rapid development of globalized electronic monkey money frauds, backed by the threat of force from apes with atomic weapons.

Those who believe that possessing precious metals, or cryptocurrencies, etc., are viable solutions to those problems are not remotely close to being in the right order of magnitude. Although there is no doubt that exponentially more "money" is being made out of nothing as debts, in order to "pay" for strip-mining the natural resources of a still relatively fresh planet, and so, there is no doubt that the exponentially decreasing value of that "money" is driving the accumulation of apparent anomalies, such as outlined in the article above, the actually crucial issues continue to be the ways that money is measurement backed by murder, as the most abstract ways that private property are claims backed by coercions. Stop-gap individual responses to the runaway fraudulence, such as faith in possessing precious metals or cryptocurrencies, make some relative sense in terms of the public "money" supplies becoming exponentially more fraudulent, but otherwise dismally fail to be in the ball park of the significant issues driven by prodigious progress in physical sciences, WITHOUT any genuine progress in political sciences, other than to continue to be able to better enforce bigger frauds, through the elaborations of oxymoronic scientific dictatorships, which adamantly refuse to become more genuinely scientific about themselves.

Primates with about exponentially increasing physical technologies continue to deliberately ignore and misunderstand themselves as much as is humanly possible, due to the history of warfare making and maintaining the currently existing political economy, whose maliciousness is manifesting through runaway vicious feedback loops, whereby the excessively successful control of Civilization through applications of the methods of organized crime are resulting in that Civilization manifesting runaway criminal insanities. Indeed, in that context, where there is almost nothing but the central core of triumphant organized crime, namely bankster dominated governments, surrounded by various layers of controlled "opposition" groups, which stay within the same bullshit-based frames of reference regarding those phenomena, the overall situation is that society becoming about exponentially sicker and insane.

That Civilization has been driven by natural selection pressures to manifest runaway psychoses is not going to stop the laws of nature from continuing to work through that Civilization. However, that will nevertheless drive the currently dominate artificial selection systems to become increasingly psychotic, in ways whereby their vicious feedback loops are less and less able to be sanely responded to ... Although some human beings have better and better understood some general energy systems, e.g., electric and atomic energy, etc., since warfare was the oldest and best developed forms of social science and engineering, whose successfulness was based on being able to maximize maliciousness, and since those then enabled successful finance to become based on runaway enforced frauds, human beings living within Globalized Neolithic Civilization are so hidebound by adapting to living inside those vicious feedback loops based on being able to enforce frauds that those human beings are mostly unwilling and unable to better understand themselves as also manifestations of general energy systems.

As the report, embedded in the article, begins by quoting Leonardo da Vinci:

"Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else."

In general, "Asset Managers" are stuck inside taking for granted that everything they do has become almost totally based on being able to enforce frauds, despite some of them noticing the increasingly blatant ways that there are accumulating apparent anomalies in those systems, as vicious feedback loops drive those systems to become about exponentially more fraudulent, and therefore increasingly unbalanced. To come to better terms with those apparent anomalies requires going through series of intellectual scientific revolutions and profound paradigm shifts, which overall become ways that human beings better understand themselves as manifestations of general energy systems. However, since doing so requires recognizing how and why governments are necessarily the biggest forms of organized crime, dominated by the best organized gangsters, the banksters, it continues to be politically impossible to accomplish that.

Muppet , Nov 22, 2017 7:03 PM

At each open, algos compute the increase in their AUM from the prior day and their margin reach. They then begin buying. All algos do this. Buying whenever cash/margin exists; selling whenever profit targets exist. On pullbacks, the algos withdraw, volume evaporates, minimizing the drop. The algos collectively increase equity prices without consideration of the value of the money involved. Not valuations. No fundamentals. Just ones and zeroes. Just a program.

[Nov 22, 2017] Unemployment is Miserable and Doesn't Spawn an Upsurge in Personal Creativity

Notable quotes:
"... By Bill Mitchell, Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity at the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia. Originally published at billy blog ..."
"... The overwhelming importance of having a job for happiness is evident throughout the analysis, and holds across all of the world's regions. ..."
"... The pattern of human concerns ..."
"... The pattern of human concerns ..."
"... Journal of Happiness Studies ..."
"... The results show the differences between having a job and being unemployed are "very large indeed" on the three well-being measures (life evaluation, positive and negative affective states). ..."
"... Psychological Bulletin ..."
"... 1. "unemployment tends to make people more emotionally unstable than they were previous to unemployment". ..."
"... 2. The unemployed experience feelings of "personal threat"; "fear"; "sense of proportion is shattered"; loss of "common sense of values"; "prestige lost in own eyes and as he imagines, in the eyes of his fellow men"; "feelings of inferiority"; loss of "self-confidence" and a general loss of "morale". ..."
"... in the light of the structure of our society where the job one holds is the prime indicator of status and prestige. ..."
"... Psychological Bulletin ..."
"... Related studies found that the "unemployed become so apathetic that they rarely read anything". Other activities, such as attending movies etc were seen as being motivated by the need to "kill time" – "a minimal indication of the increased desire for such attendance". ..."
"... In spite of hopeless attempts the unemployed continually look for work, often going back again and again to their last place of work. Other writers reiterate this point. ..."
"... The non-pecuniary effects of not having a job are significant in terms of lost status, social alienation, abandonment of daily structure etc, and that has not changed much over history. ..."
"... I think what is missing from this article is the term "identity." If you meet new people, often the conversation starts with what you do for a living. Your identity, in part, is what you do. You can call yourself a plumber, a writer, a banker, a consultant, a reporter but the point is this is part of your identity. When you lose your job long term, your identity here loses one of its main anchor points. ..."
"... This is a crucial point that UBI advocates often ignore. There is a deeply entrenched cultural bias towards associating our work status with our general status and prestige and feelings of these standings. ..."
"... When unemployed, the stress of worry about money may suppress the creative juices. Speaking from experience. People may well 'keep looking for jobs' because they know ultimately they need a job with steady income. The great experience of some freelancers notwithstanding, not all are cut out for it. ..."
"... When considering the world's population as a whole, people with a job evaluate the quality of their lives much more favorably than those who are unemployed. ..."
"... Data like that provided by Mitchell is important to demolishing the horrid "economic anxiety" frame much beloved by liberals, especially wonkish Democrats.* It's not (a) just feelings , to be solved by scented candles or training (the liberal version of rugged individualism) and (b) the effects are real and measurable. It's not surprising, when you think about it, that the working class is about work . ..."
Nov 22, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on November 21, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. Reader UserFriendly sent this post with the message, "I can confirm this." I can too. And before you try to attribute our reactions to being Americans, note that the study very clearly points out that its finding have been confirmed in "all of the world's regions".

By Bill Mitchell, Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity at the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia. Originally published at billy blog

Here is a summary of another interesting study I read last week (published March 30, 2017) – Happiness at Work – from academic researchers Jan‐Emmanuel De Neve and George Ward. It explores the relationship between happiness and labour force status, including whether an individual is employed or not and the types of jobs they are doing. The results reinforce a long literature, which emphatically concludes that people are devastated when they lose their jobs and do not adapt to unemployment as its duration increases. The unemployed are miserable and remain so even as they become entrenched in long-term unemployment. Further, they do not seem to sense (or exploit) a freedom to release some inner sense of creativity and purpose. The overwhelming proportion continually seek work – and relate their social status and life happiness to gaining a job, rather than living without a job on income support. The overwhelming conclusion is that "work makes up such an important part of our lives" and that result is robust across different countries and cultures. Being employed leads to much higher evaluations of the quality of life relative to being unemployed. And, nothing much has changed in this regard over the last 80 or so years. These results were well-known in the 1930s, for example. They have a strong bearing on the debate between income guarantees versus employment guarantees. The UBI proponents have produced no robust literature to refute these long-held findings.

While the 'Happiness Study' notes that "the relationship between happiness and employment is a complex and dynamic interaction that runs in both directions" the authors are unequivocal:

The overwhelming importance of having a job for happiness is evident throughout the analysis, and holds across all of the world's regions. When considering the world's population as a whole, people with a job evaluate the quality of their lives much more favorably than those who are unemployed. The importance of having a job extends far beyond the salary attached to it, with non-pecuniary aspects of employment such as social status, social relations, daily structure, and goals all exerting a strong influence on people's happiness.

And, the inverse:

The importance of employment for people's subjective wellbeing shines a spotlight on the misery and unhappiness associated with being unemployed.

There is a burgeoning literature on 'happiness', which the authors aim to contribute to.

They define happiness as "subjective well-being", which is "measured along multiple dimensions":

life evaluation (by way of the Cantril "ladder of life"), positive and negative affect to measure respondents' experienced positive and negative wellbeing, as well as the more domain-specific items of job satisfaction and employee engagement. We find that these diverse measures of subjective wellbeing correlate strongly with each other

Cantril's 'Ladder of Life Scale' (or "Cantril Ladder") is used by polling organisations to assess well-being. It was developed by social researcher Hadley Cantril (1965) and documented in his book The pattern of human concerns .

You can learn more about the use of the 'Cantril Ladder' HERE .

As we read, the "Cantril Self-Anchoring Scale consists of the following":

Please imagine a ladder with steps numbered from zero at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time? (ladder-present) On which step do you think you will stand about five years from now? (ladder-future)

[Reference: Cantril, H. (1965) The pattern of human concerns , New Brunswick, Rutgers University Press.]

Christian Bjørnskov's 2010 article – How Comparable are the Gallup World Poll Life Satisfaction Data? – also describes how it works.

[Reference: Bjørnskov, C. (2010) 'How Comparable are the Gallup World Poll Life Satisfaction Data?', Journal of Happiness Studies , 11 (1), 41-60.]

The Cantril scale is usually reported as values between 0 and 10.

The authors in the happiness study use poll data from 150 nations which they say "is representative of 98% of the world's population". This survey data is available on a mostly annual basis since 2006.

The following graph (Figure 1 from the Study) shows "the self-reported wellbeing of individuals around the world according to whether or not they are employed."

The "bars measure the subjective wellbeing of individuals of working age" by employment status .

The results show the differences between having a job and being unemployed are "very large indeed" on the three well-being measures (life evaluation, positive and negative affective states).

People employed "evaluate the quality of their lives around 0.6 points higher on average as compared to the unemployed on a scale from 0 to 10."

The authors also conduct more sophisticated (and searching) statistical analysis (multivariate regression) which control for a range of characteristics (gender, age, education, marital status, composition of household) as well as to "account for the many political, economic, and cultural differences between countries as well as year-to-year variation".

The conclusion they reach is simple:

the unemployed evaluate the overall state of their lives less highly on the Cantril ladder and experience more negative emotions in their day-to-day lives as well as fewer positive ones. These are among the most widely accepted and replicated findings in the science of happiness Here, income is being held constant along with a number of other relevant covariates, showing that these unemployment effects go well beyond the income loss associated with losing one's job.

These results are not surprising. The earliest study of this sort of outcome was from the famous study published by Philip Eisenberg and Paul Lazersfeld in 1938. [Reference: Eisenberg, P. and Lazarsfeld, P. (1938) 'The psychological effects of unemployment', Psychological Bulletin , 35(6), 358-390.]

They explore four dimensions of unemployment:

I. The Effects of Unemployment on Personality.

II. Socio-Political Attitudes Affected by Unemployment.

III. Differing Attitudes Produced by Unemployment and Related Factors.

IV. The Effects of Unemployment on Children and Youth.

On the first dimension, they conclude that:

1. "unemployment tends to make people more emotionally unstable than they were previous to unemployment".

2. The unemployed experience feelings of "personal threat"; "fear"; "sense of proportion is shattered"; loss of "common sense of values"; "prestige lost in own eyes and as he imagines, in the eyes of his fellow men"; "feelings of inferiority"; loss of "self-confidence" and a general loss of "morale".

Devastation, in other words. They were not surprised because they note that:

in the light of the structure of our society where the job one holds is the prime indicator of status and prestige.

This is a crucial point that UBI advocates often ignore. There is a deeply entrenched cultural bias towards associating our work status with our general status and prestige and feelings of these standings. That hasn't changed since Eisenberg and Lazersfeld wrote up the findings of their study in 1938.

It might change over time but that will take a long process of re-education and cultural shift. Trying to dump a set of new cultural values that only a small minority might currently hold to onto a society that clearly still values work is only going to create major social tensions. Eisenberg and Lazarsfeld also considered an earlier 1937 study by Cantril who explored whether "the unemployed tend to evolve more imaginative schemes than the employed".

[Reference: Cantril, H. (1934) 'The Social Psychology of Everyday Life', Psychological Bulletin , 31, 297-330.]

The proposition was (is) that once unemployed, do people then explore new options that were not possible while working, which deliver them with the satisfaction that they lose when they become jobless. The specific question asked in the research was: "Have there been any changes of interests and habits among the unemployed?" Related studies found that the "unemployed become so apathetic that they rarely read anything". Other activities, such as attending movies etc were seen as being motivated by the need to "kill time" – "a minimal indication of the increased desire for such attendance".

On the third dimension, Eisenberg and Lazersfeld examine the questions – "Are there unemployed who don't want to work? Is the relief situation likely to increase this number?", which are still a central issue today – the bludger being subsidized by income support.

They concluded that:

the number is few. In spite of hopeless attempts the unemployed continually look for work, often going back again and again to their last place of work. Other writers reiterate this point.

So for decades, researchers in this area, as opposed to bloggers who wax lyrical on their own opinions, have known that the importance of work in our lives goes well beyond the income we earn. The non-pecuniary effects of not having a job are significant in terms of lost status, social alienation, abandonment of daily structure etc, and that has not changed much over history. The happiness paper did explore "how short-lived is the misery associated with being out of work" in the current cultural settings.

The proposition examined was that:

If the pain is only fleeting and people quickly get used to being unemployed, then we might see joblessness as less of a key public policy priority in terms of happiness.

They conclude that:

a number of studies have demonstrated that people do not adapt much, if at all, to being unemployed there is a large initial shock to becoming unemployed, and then as people stay unemployed over time their levels of life satisfaction remain low . several studies have shown that even once a person becomes re-employed, the prior experience of unemployment leaves a mark on his or her happiness.

So there is no sudden or even medium-term realisation that being jobless endows the individual with a new sense of freedom to become their creative selves, freed from the yoke of work. To bloom into musicians, artists, or whatever.

The reality is that there is an on-going malaise – a deeply entrenched sense of failure is overwhelming, which stifles happiness and creativity, even after the individual is able to return to work.

This negativity, borne heavily by the individual, however, also impacts on society in general.

The paper recognises that:

A further canonical finding in the literature on unemployment and subjective wellbeing is that there are so-called "spillover" effects.

High levels of unemployment "increase fear and heighten the sense of job insecurity". Who will lose their job next type questions?

The researchers found in their data that the higher is the unemployment rate the greater the anxiety among those who remain employed.

Conclusion

The overwhelming conclusion is that "work makes up such an important part of our lives" and that result is robust across different countries and cultures.

Being employed leads to much higher evaluations of the quality of life relative to being unemployed.

The unemployed are miserable and remain so even as they become entrenched in long-term unemployment. They do not seem to sense (or exploit) a freedom to release some inner sense of creativity and purpose.

The overwhelming proportion continually seek work – and relate their social status and life happiness to gaining a job, rather than living without a job on income support.

Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) allows us to understand that it is the government that chooses the unemployment rate – it is a political choice.

For currency-issuing governments it means their deficits are too low relative to the spending and saving decisions of the non-government sector.

For Eurozone-type nations, it means that in surrendering their currencies and adopting a foreign currency, they are unable to guarantee sufficient work in the face of negative shifts in non-government spending. Again, a political choice.

The Job Guarantee can be used as a vehicle to not only ensure their are sufficient jobs available at all times but also to start a process of wiping out the worst jobs in the non-government sector.

That can be done by using the JG wage to ensure low-paid private employers have to restructure their workplaces and pay higher wages and achieve higher productivity in order to attract labour from the Job Guarantee pool.

The Series So Far

This is a further part of a series I am writing as background to my next book with Joan Muysken analysing the Future of Work . More instalments will come as the research process unfolds.

The series so far:

  1. When Austrians ate dogs .
  2. Employment as a human right .
  3. The rise of the "private government .
  4. The evolution of full employment legislation in the US .
  5. Automation and full employment – back to the 1960s .
  6. Countering the march of the robots narrative .
  7. Unemployment is miserable and does not spawn an upsurge in personal creativity .

The blogs in these series should be considered working notes rather than self-contained topics. Ultimately, they will be edited into the final manuscript of my next book due in 2018. The book will likely be published by Edward Elgar (UK).

That is enough for today!

divadab , November 21, 2017 at 6:11 am

Perhaps I'm utterly depressed but I haven't had a job job for over 5 years. Plenty of work, however, more than I can handle and it requires priorisation. But I am deliberately not part of the organized herd. I stay away from big cities – it's scary how managed the herd is in large groups – and I suppose that unemployment for a herd animal is rather distressing as it is effectively being kicked out of the herd.

Anyway my advice, worth what you pay for it but let he who has ears, etc. – is to go local, very local, grow your own food, be part of a community, manage your own work, and renounce the energy feast herd dynamics. "Unemployment", like "recession", is a mechanism of control. Not very practical advice for most, I realize, trapped in the herd as they are in car payments and mortgages, but perhaps aspirational?

The Rev Kev , November 21, 2017 at 6:35 am

I think what is missing from this article is the term "identity." If you meet new people, often the conversation starts with what you do for a living. Your identity, in part, is what you do. You can call yourself a plumber, a writer, a banker, a consultant, a reporter but the point is this is part of your identity. When you lose your job long term, your identity here loses one of its main anchor points.

Worse, there is a deliberate stigma attached with being long term unemployed. In that article you have seen the word bludger being used. In parts of the US I have read of the shame of 'living off the county'. And yes, I have been there, seen that, and got the t-shirt. It's going to be interesting as mechanization and computers turn large portions of the population from workers to 'gig' workers. Expect mass demoralization.

nonclassical , November 21, 2017 at 10:24 am

yes the lives many of us have lived, no longer exist though we appear not notice, as we "can" live in many of same "ways" ..rather well known psychologist defined some 40 years ago, best to "drop through cracks"

jrs , November 21, 2017 at 12:13 pm

Well, you also lose money, maybe you become homeless etc. as you have nowhere else to turn (if there are kids involved to support it gets even scarier though there are some programs). Or maybe you become dependent on another person(s) to support you which is of course degrading as you know you must rely on them to live, whether it's a spouse or lover when you want to work and bring in money, or mom and dads basement, or the kindest friend ever who lets you sleep on their couch. I mean these are the things that really matter.

Privileged people whose main worry in unemployment would be losing identity, wow out of touch much? Who cares about some identity for parties, but the ability to have a stable decent life (gig work hardly counts) is what is needed.

sgt_doom , November 21, 2017 at 2:20 pm

I believe your comment sums up the situation the best -- and most realistically.

jgordon , November 21, 2017 at 7:08 pm

I normally wouldn't comment like this, but you have brought up some extremely important points about identity that I would like to address.

Recently I had the most intense mushroom experience of my entire life–so intense that my identity had been completely stripped and I was left in a formless state, at the level of seeing my bare, unvarnished animal neural circuitry in operation. Suddenly with a flash of inspiration I realized that the identity of everyone, all of us, is inextricably tied up in what we do and what we do for other people.

Following from that, I understood that if we passively rely on others for survival, whether it be relying on friends, family, or government, then we do not have an identity or reason for existing. And the inner self, the animal core of who we are, will realise this lack of identity (even if the concious mind denies it), and will continually generate feelings of profound depression and intense nihilism that will inevitably destroy us if the root cause is not addressed.

Before this experience I was somewhat ambivalent about my politics, but immediately after I knew that the political right was correct on everything important, from attitudes on sex to economic philosophy. People need a core of cultural stability and hard work to grow and become actualized. The alternative is rudderless dissatisfaction and envy that leads nowhere.

On the topic of giving "out of kindnes and goodwill", giving without demanding anything in return is a form of abuse, as it deprives those who receive our feel-good generosity the motivation to form a coherent identity. If the parents of a basement-dweller were truly good people, instead of supporting said dweller they'd drag her out by the ear and make her grow food in the yard or some such. Likewise, those who have supported you without also giving concrete demands and expecations in return have been unkind, and for your own good I hope that you will immediately remove yourself from their support. On the other hand, if you have been thoughtlessly giving because it warms the cockles of your heart, then stop it now. You are ruining other people this way, and if your voting habits are informed by this kind of malevolence I'd encourage you to change those as well.

Anyway the original poster is right about everything. Working and having a purpose in life is an entirely different animal from making money and being "successful" in the government-sponsored commercial economy. Society and government deliberately try to conflate the two for various reasons, primarily graft of labor and genius, but that is only a deliberate mis-framing that needlessly harms people when the mainstream economic system is in catastrophic decline, as ours is today. You should try to clear up this misconception within yourself as a way of getting better.

Well, I hope this message can give you a few different thoughts and help you find your way out of the existential angst you're caught in. Don't wallow in helplessness. Think of something useful to do, anything, whether it earns you money or not, and go out and start doing it. You'll be surprised at how much better you feel about yourself in no time.

skippy , November 22, 2017 at 12:45 am

The problem is you said – I – had an extreme experience [burning bush], the truth was reviled to – I – and I alone during this extreme chemically altered state. Which by the way just happens to conform to a heap of environmental biases I collected. This is why sound methodology demands peer review. disheveled some people think Mister Toads Wild ride at Disneyland on psychotropics is an excellent adventure too.

Jeremy Grimm , November 21, 2017 at 12:33 pm

I think your observation about the importance of work to identity is most perceptive. This post makes too little distinction between work and a job and glosses over the place of work in defining who we are to ourselves and to others. I recall the scene in the movie "About a Boy" when the hero meets someone he cares about and she asks him what he does for a living.

I believe there's another aspect of work -- related to identity -- missing in the analysis of this post. Work can offer a sense of mission -- of acting as part of an effort toward a larger goal no individual could achieve alone. However you may regard the value in putting man on the moon there is no mistaking the sense of mission deeply felt by the engineers and technicians working on the project. What jobs today can claim service to a mission someone might value?

Henry Moon Pie , November 21, 2017 at 7:00 am

Agreed on your points. Wage slavery is nothing to aspire to. Self-determination within a context of an interdependent community is a much better way to live. We do our thing in the city, however.

ambrit , November 21, 2017 at 8:29 am

Finding that "interdependent community" is the hard part. My experience has been that this endeavour is almost chance based; Serendipity if you will.
Here Down South, the churches still seem to have a stranglehold on small and mid scale social organization. One of the big effects of 'churching' is the requirement that the individual gave up personal critical thinking. Thus, the status quo is reinforced. One big happy 'Holy Circlejerk.'

UserFriendly , November 21, 2017 at 10:10 am

from the article

This is a crucial point that UBI advocates often ignore. There is a deeply entrenched cultural bias towards associating our work status with our general status and prestige and feelings of these standings.

That hasn't changed since Eisenberg and Lazersfeld wrote up the findings of their study in 1938. It might change over time but that will take a long process of re-education and cultural shift. Trying to dump a set of new cultural values that only a small minority might currently hold to onto a society that clearly still values work is only going to create major social tensions.

FelicityT , November 21, 2017 at 3:07 pm

I would agree about the entenched cultural norms, etc. But not the pessimism and timeline for change. An individual can communicate a complex idea to millions in seconds, things move fast these days.

For me, it seems that what we (we being UBI/radical change proponents) are lacking is a compelling easily accessible story. Not just regarding UBI (as that is but one part of the trully revolutionary transformations that must occur) but encompassing everything.

We have countless think pieces, bits of academic writing, books, etc that focus on individual pieces and changes in isolation. But we've largely abandoned the all-encompassing narrative, which at their heart is precisely what religion offers and why it can be so seductive, successful, and resilient for so long.

The status quo has this type of story, it's not all that compelling but given the fact that it is the status quo and has inertia and tradition on its side (along with the news media, political, entertainment, etc) it doesn't have to be.

We need to abandon the single narrow issue activism that has become so prominent over the years and get back to engaging with issues as unseparable and intimately interconnected.

Tinkering around the edges will do nothing, a new political religion is what is required.

Yves Smith Post author , November 21, 2017 at 4:23 pm

Sorry, I disagree vehemently. Deeply held cultural attitudes are very slow to change and the study found that work being critical to happiness examined a large number of societies.

Look at feminism. I was a half-generation after the time when women were starting to get a shot at real jobs. IIRC, the first class that accepted women at Harvard Law School was in the 1950 and at Harvard Business School, 1965. And the number of first attendees was puny. The 1965 class at HBS had 10 8 women out of a graduating class of over 800; my class in 1981 had only 11% women.

In the 1980s, you saw a shift from the belief that women could do what men could do to promotion of the idea that women could/should be feminine as well as successful. This looked like seriously mixed messages, in that IMHO the earlier tendency to de-emphasize gender roles in the workplace looked like a positive development.

Women make less than 80% of what men do in the US. Even female doctors in the same specialities make 80% of their male peers.

The Speenhamland in the UK had what amounted to an income guarantee from the 1790s to 1832. Most people didn't want to be on it and preferred to work. Two generations and being on the support of local governments was still seen as carrying a stigma.

More generally, social animals have strongly ingrained tendencies to resent situations they see as unfair. Having someone who is capable of working not work elicits resentment from many, which is why most people don't want to be in that position. You aren't going to change that.

And people need a sense of purpose. There are tons of cases of rich heirs falling into drug addiction or alcoholism and despair because they have no sense of purpose in life. Work provides that, even if it's mundane work to support a family. That is one of the great dissservices the Democrats have done to the citizenry at large: sneering at ordinary work when blue-collar men were the anchors of families and able to take pride in that.

FelicityT , November 21, 2017 at 5:11 pm

So a few points.

Regarding the large number of societies, we often like to think we're more different than we actually are focusing on a few glaringly obvious differences and generalizing from there. Even going back a few hundred years when ideas travelled slower we were still (especially the "west" though the "east" wasn't all that much more different either) quite similar. So I'm less inclined to see the large number of societies as evidence.

Generally on societal changes and movements: The issue here is that the leadership has not changed, they may soften some edges here or there (only to resharpen them again when we're looking elsewhere) but their underlying ideologies are largely unchanged. A good mass of any population will go along to survive, whether they agree or not (and we find increasing evidence that many do not agree, though certainly that they do not agree on a single alternative).

It may be impossible to implement such changes in who controls the levers of power in a democratic fashion but it also may be immoral not implement such changes. Of course this is also clearly a similar path to that walked by many a demonized (in most cases rightfully so) dictator and despot. 'Tread carefully' are wise words to keep in mind.

Today we have a situation which reflects your example re: social animals and resentment of unfairness: the elite (who falls into this category is of course debatable, some individuals moreso than others). But they have intelligently, for their benefit, redirected that resentment towards those that have little. Is there really any logical connection between not engaging in wage labor (note: NOT equivalent to not working) and unfairness? Or is it a myth crafted by those who currently benefit the most?

That resentment is also precisely why it is key that a Basic income be universal with no means testing, everyone gets the same.

I think we should not extrapolate too much from the relatively small segment of the population falling into the the inherited money category. Correlation is not causation and all that.

It also seems that so often individuals jump to the hollywood crafted image of the layabout stoner sitting on the couch giggling at cartoons (or something similarly negative) when the concept of less wage labor is brought up. A reduction of wage labor does not equate to lack of work being done, it simply means doing much of that work for different reasons and rewards and incentives.

As I said in the Links thread today, we produce too much, we consume too much, we grow too much. More wage labor overall as a requirement for survival is certainly not the solution to any real problem that we face, its a massively inefficient use of resources and a massive strain on the ecosystems.

Yves Smith Post author , November 21, 2017 at 8:34 pm

I am really gobsmacked at the sense of entitlement on display here. Why are people entitled to an income with no work? Being an adult means toil: cleaning up after yourself, cleaning up after your kids if you have them, if you are subsistence farmer, tending your crops and livestock, if you are a modern society denizen, paying your bills and your taxes on time. The idea that people are entitled to a life of leisure is bollocks. Yet you promote that.

Society means we have obligations to each other. That means work. In rejecting work you reject society.

And the touting of "creativity" is a top 10% trope that Thomas Frank called out in Listen, Liberal. It's a way of devaluing what the bottom 90% do.

WobblyTelomeres , November 21, 2017 at 8:53 pm

My argument with the article is that, to me, it smacks of Taylorism. A follow-on study would analyze how many hours a laborer must work before the acquired sense of purpose and dignity and associated happiness began to decline. Would it be 30 hours a week of backbreaking labor before dignity found itself eroded? 40? 50? 60? When does the worker break? Just how far can we push the mule before it collapses?

The author alludes to this: "The overwhelming proportion relate their social status and life happiness to gaining a job"

Work equals happiness. Got it.

But, as a former robotics instructor, and as one who watches the industry (and former students), I see an automated future as damn near inevitable. Massive job displacement is coming, life as a minimum wage burger flipper will cease, with no future employment prospects short of government intervention (WPA and CCC for all, I say). I'm not a Luddite, obviously, but there are going to be a lot of people, billions, worldwide, with no prospect of employment. Saying, "You're lazy and entitled" is a bit presumptuous, Yves. Not everyone has your ability, not everyone has my ability. When the burger flipping jobs are gone, where do they go? When roombas mop the floors, where do the floor moppers go?

flora , November 21, 2017 at 9:38 pm

"WPA and CCC for all, I say. "

+1

We could use a new Civilian Conservation Corps and and a Works Progress Administration. There's lots of work that needs doing that isn't getting done by private corporations.

nihil obstet , November 21, 2017 at 10:05 pm

The outrage at non-work wealth and income would be more convincing if it were aimed also at owners of capital. About 30% of national income is passive -- interest, rents, dividends. Why are the owners of capital "entitled to an income with no work?" It's all about the morality that underlies the returns to capital while sugaring over a devaluation of labor. As a moral issue, everyone should share the returns on capital or we should tax away the interest, rents, and dividends. If it's an economic issue, berating people for their beliefs isn't a reason.

WobblyTelomeres , November 21, 2017 at 10:14 pm

Why are the owners of capital "entitled to an income with no work?"

THIS!!!! So much, THIS!!!! But, what else is a Wobbly to say, eh?

Yves Smith Post author , November 22, 2017 at 2:27 am

The overwhelming majority do work. The top 0.1% is almost entirely private equity managers who are able to classify labor income as capital gains through the carried interest loophole. Go look at the Forbes 400.

The 1% are mainly CEOs, plus elite professionals, like partners at top law and consulting firms and specialty surgeons (heart, brain, oncology). The CEOs similarly should be seen as getting labor income but have a lot of stock incentive pay (that is how they get seriously rich) which again gets capital gains treatment.

You are mistaking clever taking advantage of the tax code for where the income actually comes from. Even the kids of rich people are under pressure to act like entrepreneurs from their families and peers. Look at Paris Hilton and Ivanka as examples. They both could have sat back and enjoyed their inheritance, but both went and launched businesses. I'm not saying the kids of the rich succeed, or would have succeed to the extent they do without parental string-pulling, but the point is very few hand their fortune over to a money manager and go sailing or play the cello.

IsotopeC14 , November 22, 2017 at 2:58 am

Isn't the brother of the infamous Koch duo doing exactly that? Actually, if all the .001%ers were like him, we'd all be better off

IsotopeC14 , November 22, 2017 at 1:34 am

What's your take on Rutger Bergman's ted talk? i think most jobs aren't real jobs at all, like marketing and ceo's. why can't we do 20 hour work weeks so we don't have huge amounts of unemployment? Note, I was "unemployed" for years since "markets" decide not to fund science in the US. Yay Germany At least I was fortunate enough to not be forced to work at Walmart or McDonalds like the majority of people with absolutely no life choices. Ah the sweet coercion of capitalism.

flora , November 21, 2017 at 9:09 pm

Your hopes for a UBI are undone by some of the real world observations I've made over many years, with regard to how a guaranteed income increase, of any measure, for a whole population of an area, affects prices. Shorter: income going up means prices are raised by merchants to capture the new income.

Your assumption that any UBI would not be instantly captured by raised prices is naive, at best. It's also naive to assume companies would continue to pay wages at the same level to people still employed, instead of reducing wages and letting UBI fill in the rest. Some corporations already underpay their workers, then encourage the workers to apply for food stamps and other public supports to make up for the reduced wage.

The point of the paper is the importance of paid employment to a person's sense of well being. I agree with the paper.

Andrew Dodds , November 22, 2017 at 2:48 am

For the vast majority, a UBI would be income-neutral – it would have to be, to avoid massive inflation. So people would receive a UBI, but pay more tax to compensate. The effect on prices would be zero.

The advantage of a UBI is mostly felt at the lower end, where insecure/seasonal work does now pay. At the moment, a person who went from farm labourer to Christmas work to summer resort work in the UK would certainly be working hard, but also relentlessly hounded by the DWP over universal credit. A UBI would make this sort of lifestyle possible.

jsn , November 21, 2017 at 11:28 am

Davidab, Good for you, but your perspicacity is not scalable. People are social animals and your attitude toward "the herd", at least as expressed here, is that of a predator, even if your taste doesn't run toward predation. Social solutions will necessarily be scalable or they won't be solutions for long.

Lambert Strether , November 22, 2017 at 1:44 am

> the organized herd a herd animal trapped in the herd

I don't think throwing 80% to 90% of the population into the "prey" bucket is especially perspicacious politically (except, of course, for predators or parasites). I also don't think it's especially perspicacious morally. You write:

Not very practical advice for most, I realize, trapped in the herd as they are in car payments and mortgages, but perhaps aspirational?

Let me translate that: "Trapped in the herd as many are to support spouses and children." In other words, taking the cares of the world on themselves in order to care for others.

BJ , November 21, 2017 at 6:37 am

Unemployed stay at home dad here. My children are now old enough to no longer need a stay at home dad. Things I have done: picked up two musical instruments and last year dug a natural swimming pond by hand. Further, one would need to refute all the increased happiness in retirement (NBER). Why social security but not UBI? I get being part of the precariat is painful and this is a reality for most the unemployed no matter where you live in the world. A UBI is unworkable because it will never be large enough to make people's lives unprecarious. Having said that, I am almost positive if you gave every unemployed person 24 k a year and health benefits, there would be a mass of non working happy creative folks.

divadab , November 21, 2017 at 7:41 am

UBI seems to me to encourage non-virtuous behavior – sloth, irresponsibility, fecklessness, and spendthriftness. I like the Finnish model – unemployment insurance is not limited – except if you refuse work provided by the local job center. Lots of work is not being done all over America – we could guarantee honest work to all with some imagination. Start with not spraying roundup and rather using human labor to control weeds and invasive species.

I do agree that universal health insurance is necessary and sadly Obamacare is not that.

ambrit , November 21, 2017 at 8:34 am

The crux of this problem is the definition used for "non-virtuous behaviour." A new CCC is a good place to start though. (Your Tax Dollars At Work! [For some definition of tax dollars.]) As for BJ above, I would suppose that child rearing was his "employment" for years. good so far, but his follow-up is untypical. The 'Empty Nester' mother is a well known meme.

a different chris , November 21, 2017 at 9:19 am

Spendthriftness on 24K a year? Seriously? If we are disgorging unprofessional opinions, I will add my own: sloth and irresponsibility are more signs of depression rather than freedom from having to work. In fact, I believe (and I think much of the stuff here) supports the idea that people want to be seen as useful in some way. Doesn't include me! :) .. unfortunately, I have the charmingly named "dependents" so there you have it.

BJ , November 21, 2017 at 11:18 am

I lived 6 years as a grad student on 24k a year and would say it was easy. Only thing I would have to had worried about was awful health insurance. A two household each with 24k would be even easier, especially if you could do it in a low cost area. So I am not sure what you mean by spendthrift. But again it will never happen, so we will be stuck with what we have or most likely an even more sinister system. I guess I am advocating for a JG with unlimited number of home makers per household.

roadrider , November 21, 2017 at 9:23 am

except if you refuse work provided by the local job center

And who's to say that the local "job center" has work that would be appropriate for every person's specific talents and interests? This is no better than saying that you should be willing to go work for some minimum-wage retail job with unpredictable scheduling and other forms of employer abuses after you lose a high-paying job requiring special talents. I have to call bullshit on this model. I went through a two-year stretch if unemployment in no small part because the vast majority of the available jobs for my skill set were associated with the MIC, surveillance state or the parasitic FIRE sector. I was able to do this because I had saved up enough FY money and had no debts or family to support.

I can also attest to the negative aspects of unemployment that the post describes. Its all true and I can't really say that I'e recovered even now, 2.5 years after finding another suitable job.

Jesper , November 21, 2017 at 10:55 am

The job center in the neighbouring Sweden had the same function. Had is the important word. My guess is that the last time someone lost their unemployment insurance payout due to not accepting a job was in the early 1980s. Prior to that companies might, maybe, possibly have considered hiring someone assigned to them – full employment forced companies to accept what was offered. Companies did not like the situation and the situation has since changed.

Now, when full employment is a thing of the past, the way to lose unemployment insurance payouts is by not applying to enough jobs. An easily gamed system by people not wanting to work: just apply to completely unsuitable positions and the number of applications will be high. Many companies are therefore overwhelmed by applications and are therefore often forced to hire more people in HR to filter out the unsuitable candidates.
People in HR tend not to know much about qualifications and or personalities for the job so they tend to filter out too many. We're all familiar with the skills-shortage .
Next step of this is that the companies who do want to hire have to use recruitment agencies. Basically outsourcing the HR to another company whose people are working on commission. Recruiters sometimes know how to find 'talent', often they are the same kind of people with the same skills and backgrounds as people working in HR.

To even get to the hiring manager a candidate has to go through two almost identical and often meaningless interviews. Recruiter and then HR. Good for the GDP I suppose, not sure if it is good for anything else.

But back on topic again, there is a second way of losing unemployment insurance payout: Time. Once the period covered has passed there is no more payouts of insurance. After that it it is time to live on savings, then sell all assets, and then once that is done finally go to the welfare office and prove that savings are gone and all assets are sold and maybe welfare might be paid out. People on welfare in Sweden are poor and the indignities they are being put through are many. Forget about hobbies and forget about volunteering as the money for either of those activities simply aren't available. Am I surprised by a report saying unemployed in Sweden are unhappy? Nope.

nonclassical , November 21, 2017 at 10:42 am

meanwhile NYTimes testimonials Friday, show average family of 4 healthprofit costs (tripled, due to trump demise ACA) to be $30,000. per year, with around $10,000. deductible end of any semblance of affordable access, "murKa"

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/16/us/politics/obamacare-premiums-middle-class.html

Jeremy Grimm , November 21, 2017 at 1:53 pm

What do you mean by virtuous behavior?

Where does a character like Bertie Wooster in "Jeeves" fit in your notions of virtuous behavior? Would you consider him more virtuous working in the management of a firm, controlling the lives and labor of others -- and humorously helped by his his brilliant valet, Jeeves, getting him out of trouble?

For contrast -- in class and social status -- take a beer-soaked trailer trash gentleman of leisure -- and for sake of argument blessed with less than average intelligence -- where would you put him to work where you'd feel pleased with his product or his service? Would you feel better about this fellow enjoying a six-pack after working 8 hours a day 5 days a week virtuously digging and then filling a hole in the ground while carefully watched and goaded by an overseer? [Actually -- how different is that from "using human labor to control weeds and invasive species"? I take it you're a fan of chain-gangs and making the poor pick up trash on the highways?]

What about some of our engineers and scientists virtuously serving the MIC? Is their behavior virtuous because they're not guilty of sloth, irresponsibility [in executing their work], fecklessness, and spendthriftness? On this last quality how do you feel about our government who pay the salaries for all these jobs building better ways to kill and maim?

Bill Smith , November 21, 2017 at 8:01 am

How big is the swimming pool and how long did it take? Where did you put the dirt?

BJ , November 21, 2017 at 11:07 am

It is a design by David Pagan Butler. It is his plunge pool design, deepend is 14 by 8 by 7 deep. I used the dirt to make swales around some trees. Win win all around.

tegnost , November 21, 2017 at 9:32 am

curious to know whether you are married to someone with a job?

BJ , November 21, 2017 at 11:25 am

The answer is yes my spouse works. So I do have a schedule of waking up to make her lunch everyday, meeting her at lunch to walk, and making dinner when she gets home, but we do all those things on her days off so .

But again we would need to explain away, why people who are retired are happier? Just because they think they payed into social security? Try explaining to someone on the SS dole how the government spends money into existence and is not paid by taxes or that the government never saved their tax money, so there are not entitled to this money.

David Kane Miller , November 21, 2017 at 6:55 am

I hated working for other people and doing what they wanted. I began to feel some happiness when I had a half acre on which I could create my own projects. Things improved even more when I could assure myself of some small guaranteed income by claiming Social Security at age 62. To arise in the morning when I feel rested, with interesting projects like gardens, fences, small buildings ahead and work at my own pace is the essence of delight for me. I've been following your arguments against UBI for years and disagree vehemently.

a different chris , November 21, 2017 at 9:23 am

I feel I would behave the same as you, if I had the chance. *But* no statements about human beings are absolute, and because UBI would work for either of us does not mean it would work for the majority. Nothing devised by man is perfect.

Mel , November 21, 2017 at 9:42 am

It's not you; it's not me. It's those deplorable people.

tegnost , November 21, 2017 at 9:37 am

first you had to buy the half acre in a suitable location, then you had to work many years to qualify for social security, the availability of which you paid for and feel you deserve. You also have to buy stuff for fences gardens and small buildings. At most that rhymes with a ubi but is significantly different in it's make up.

Lambert Strether , November 22, 2017 at 1:56 am

> when I had a half acre on which I could create my own projects

That is, when you acquired the half acre, which not everyone can do. It seems to me there's a good deal of projecting going on with this thread from people who are, in essence, statistical outliers. But Mitchell summarizes the literature:

So for decades, researchers in this area, as opposed to bloggers who wax lyrical on their own opinions, have known that the importance of work in our lives goes well beyond the income we earn.

If the solution that works for you is going to scale, that implies that millions more will have to own land. If UBI depends on that, how does that happen? (Of course, in a post-collapse scenario, the land might be taken , but that same scenario makes the existence of institutions required to convey the UBI highly unlikely. )

Carla , November 21, 2017 at 7:16 am

Very glad to hear that Bill Mitchell is working on the "Future of Work" book, and to have this post, and the links to the other segments. Thank you, Yves!

Andrew , November 21, 2017 at 7:25 am

I don't agree with this statement. Never will. I'm the complete opposite. Give me more leisure time and you'll find me painting, writing, playing instruments and doing things that I enjoy. I recall back to when I was a student, I relished in the free time I got (believe me University gave me a lot of free time) between lectures, meaning I could enjoy this time pursuing creative activities. Sure I might be different than most people but I know countless people who are the same.

My own opinion is that root problem lies in the pathology of the working mentality, that 'work' and having a 'job' is so engrained into our society and mindset that once you give most people the time to enjoy other things, they simply can't. They don't know what to do with themselves and they eventually become unhappy, watching daytime TV sat on the sofa.

I recall back to a conversation with my mother about my father, she said to me, 'I don't know how your father is going to cope once he retires and has nothing to do' and it's that very example of where work for so many people becomes so engrained in their mindset, that they are almost scared of having 'nothing to do' as they say. It's a shame, it's this systemic working mentality that has led to this mindset. I'm glad I'm the opposite of this and proud by mother brought me up to be this way. Work, and job are not in my vocabulary. I work to live, not live to work.

I_Agree , November 21, 2017 at 11:26 am

I agree with Andrew. I think this data on the negative effects says more about how being employed fundamentally breaks the human psyche and turns them into chattel, incapable of thinking for themselves and destroying their natural creativity. The more a human is molded into a "good worker" the less they become a full fledged human being. The happiest people are those that have never placed importance on work, that have always lived by the maxim "work to live, not live to work". From my own experience every assertion in this article is the opposite of reality. It is working that makes me apathethic, uncreative, and miserable. The constant knowing that you're wasting your life, day after day, engaged in an activity merely to build revenue streams for the rich, instead of doing things that help society or that please you on a personal level, is what I find misery inducing.

nycTerrierist , November 21, 2017 at 12:18 pm

I agree. If financial insecurity is removed from the equation -- free time can be used creatively for self-actualization, whatever form that may take: cultivating the arts, hobbies, community activities, worthy causes and projects. The ideology wafting from Mitchell's post smells to me like a rationale for wage slavery (market driven living, neo-liberalism, etc.)

jrs , November 21, 2017 at 12:48 pm

Besides how are people supposed to spend their time "exploring other opportunities" when unemployed anyway? To collect unemployment which isn't exactly paying that much anyway, they have to show they are applying to jobs. To go to the movies the example given costs money, which one may tend to be short on when unemployed. They probably are looking for work regardless (for the income). There may still be some free time. But they could go back to school? Uh in case one just woke up from a rock they were under for 100 years, that costs money, which one may tend to be short on when unemployed, plus there is no guarantee the new career will pan out either, no guarantee someone is just chomping at the bit to hire a newly trained 50 year old or something. I have always taken classes when unemployed, and paid for it and it's not cheap.

Yes to use one's time wisely in unemployment in the existing system requires a kind of deep psychological maturity that few have, a kind of Surrender To Fate, to the uncertainty of whether one will have an income again or not (either that or a sugar daddy or a trust fund). Because it's not easy to deal with that uncertainty. And uncertainty is the name of the game in unemployment, that and not having an income may be the pain in it's entirety.

FelicityT , November 21, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Sadly this breaking down into a "good worker" begins for most shortly after they begin school. This type of education harms society in a myriad of ways including instilling a dislike of learning, deference to authority (no matter how irrational and unjust), and a destruction of a child's natural curiosity.

Yves Smith Post author , November 21, 2017 at 5:21 pm

I don't buy your premise that people are "creative". The overwhelming majority do not have creative projects they'd be pursuing if they had leisure and income. Go look at retirees, ones that have just retired, are healthy, and have money.

Yves Smith Post author , November 21, 2017 at 4:29 pm

You are really misconstruing what the studies have found and misapplied it to your situation. Leisure time when you have a job or a role (being a student) is not at all the same as having time when you are unemployed, with or without a social safety net.

Summer , November 21, 2017 at 6:25 pm
jrs , November 21, 2017 at 6:37 pm

one often has a role when unemployed: finding work. But it's not a very fulfilling one! But if one is trying to find work, it's not exactly the absence of a role either even if it still leaves significantly more free time than otherwise, maybe winning the lottery is the absence of a role.

But then it's also not like we give people a UBI even for a few years (at any time in adult life) to get an education. Only if they take out a student loan approaching the size of a mortgage or have parents willing to pony up are they allowed that (to pay not just for the education but to live because having a roof over one's head etc. is never free, a UBI via debt it might be called).

Lambert Strether , November 22, 2017 at 2:00 am

> Give me more leisure time and you'll find me painting, writing, playing instruments and doing things that I enjoy.
Nothing to breed resentment of "the creative class" here! Blowback from Speenhamland brought on the workhouses, so be careful what you wish for.

Jesper , November 21, 2017 at 7:47 am

Again the UBI vs JG debate .

UBI won't happen and JG has been tried (and failed).

The argument that JG would allow the public sector to hire more people is demeaning to people already employed in the public sector and demonstrably false – people are hired into the public sector without there being a JG. It is most certainly possible to be against a JG while wanting more people working in the public sector.

The way forward is to have a government acting for people instead of for corporations. Increase the amount of paid vacations, reduce the pension age and stop with the Soviet style worship of work: While some people are apparently proud of their friends and relatives who died while at work it is also possible to feel sad about that.

diptherio , November 21, 2017 at 10:00 am

JG has been tried (and failed).

When and where? The NCCC seemed to work pretty good here in the Western US.

Jesper , November 21, 2017 at 10:27 am

The JG was tried in Communist countries in Europe, Asia and Americas. The arguments then and there were the same as here and now, made by the same type of social 'scientists' (economists).

Would a JG be different here and now as the Republicans and Democrats are representing the best interests of the people? Or are they representing the same kind of interests as the Communist parties did?

Yves Smith Post author , November 21, 2017 at 4:39 pm

Data, please. The USSR fell because it was spending on its military to keep up with the US, a much larger economy. Countering your assertion we have this:

tegnost , November 21, 2017 at 10:00 am

As long as people argue that "it's not fair" to fix the inequality issue and employ things like debt jubilee or student loan forgiveness, or if we fix the ridiculous cost of health care what will all those insurance agents do then we will wind up with the real kind of class warfare, rather than the current punching from the top down, the punching will come from the bottom, because the situation is not fair now, it's just TINA according to those who profit from it. In my own life there is a balance of creativity and work, and I find work enables my creativity by putting some pressure on my time, i.e., I get up earlier, I practice at 8:30 am instead of sleeping til 10 and winding up with S.A..D., I go to bed rather than watch tv or drink to excess.. in other words i have some kind of weird schedule, I have days off sort of When I've been unemployed I feel the way s described in the article. I find the arguments in favor of ubi tend to come from people who already have assets, or jobs, or family who they take care of which is actually a job although uncommonly described as such. The only truth I see in real life is that the unemployed I am intimately familiar with first are mentally oppressed by the notion that to repair their situation will require they work every waking hour at substandard wages for the rest of their life and that is a major barrier to getting started, and that is a policy choice the gov't and elite classes purposefully made which created the precariat and will be their undoing if they are unable to see this.

tegnost , November 21, 2017 at 10:15 am

Hey look, even the msm is looking at it
https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/is-uprising-the-only-way-out-of-gross-inequality-maybe-so/

j84ustin , November 21, 2017 at 10:08 am

As someone who works in the public sector I never quite thought of it like that, thanks.

hunkerdown , November 21, 2017 at 7:53 am

Disappointing that there's no analysis in this context of less employment, as in shorter work weeks and/or days, as opposed to merely all or none.

nonclassical , November 21, 2017 at 10:45 am

see – hear

(but no possibility without healthcare access, rather than healthtprofit)

Vatch , November 21, 2017 at 11:31 am

Interesting point. I read a science fiction story in which the protagonist arrives for work at his full time job at 10:00 AM, and he's finished for the day at 4:00 PM. I can't remember the name of the story or novel, unfortunately.

jrs , November 21, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Agreed. And they already have it in places like Denmark. Why don't we talk about that? It actually exists unlike utopian schemes for either total UBI or total work guarantee (government job creation is not utopian, but imagining it will employ everyone is, and I would like the UBI to be more widely tried, but in this country we are nowhere close). Funny how utopia becomes more interesting to people than actual existing arrangements, even though of course those could be improved on too.

The Danish work arrangement is less than a 40 hour week, and mothers especially often work part-time but both sexes can. It's here in this country where work is either impossibly grueling or you are not working. No other choice. In countries with more flexible work arrangements more women actually work, but it's flexible and flexible for men who choose to do the parenting as well. I'm not saying this should be for parents only of course.

Lambert Strether , November 22, 2017 at 2:02 am

Because the JG sets the baseline for employment, which private companies must meet, the JG (unlike the UBI) can do this.

Otis B Driftwood , November 21, 2017 at 7:58 am

My own situation is that I am unhappy in my well-paying job and would like nothing more than to devote myself to other interests. I'm thirty years on in a relationship with someone who grew up in bad financial circumstances and panics whenever I talk about leaving my job. I tell her that we have 2 years of living expenses in the bank but I can't guarantee making the same amount of money if I do leave my job. She has a job that she loves and is important and pays barely 1/2 of my own income. So she worries about her future with me. She worries about losing her home. I suppose that makes me the definition of a wage slave. And it makes for an increasingly unhappy marriage. I admire those who have faced similar circumstances and found a way through this. Sorry to vent, but this topic and the comments hit a nerve with me and I'm still trying to figure this out.

ambrit , November 21, 2017 at 8:38 am

Otis; We are presently going through a period where that "two year cushion" has evaporated, for various reasons. We are seeing our way through this, straight into penury and privation. Take nothing for granted in todays' economy.

jrs , November 21, 2017 at 1:11 pm

yes find the lower paying job that you like more first. If you just quit for nothing in the hopes of finding one it might not happen. Of course unemployment also happens sometimes, whether we want it or not.

bronco , November 21, 2017 at 12:47 pm

The newer generations are worse when it comes to lifestyle. Those of that are older can at least remember a time without cellphones internet streaming services leasing a new car every 2 years etc.

What about the young? My niece and her husband should be all set , his mom sunk money into a home on the condition she moved into a mother in law apartment. So far so good right? 2 years in they are imploding even with the free child care she provides. Combined their wireless bill a month is over $300. The sit on the couch side by side and stream netflix shows to dueling iphones in front of a 65 inch tv that is not even turned on. Wearing headphones in silence.

Both driving new vehicles , both have gym memberships they don't use . They buy lattes 3 or 4 times a day which is probably another 500 a month.

My uncle passed away recently and my niece asked if she was in the will. It was literally her only communication on the subject. They are going under and could easily trim a few thousand a month from the budget but simply won't. No one in the family is going to lift a finger for them at this point they burned every possible bridge already. I have seen people living in cars plenty lately but I think these will be the first I see to living in brand new cars .

Somewhere along the line they got the impression that the american dream was a leased car a starbucks in one hand and an iphone in the other .

Confront them with the concept of living within a paycheck and they react like a patient hearing he has 3 months to live.

Lambert Strether , November 22, 2017 at 2:03 am

Ah. Reagan's "welfare queens" updated. Kids these days!

JBird , November 22, 2017 at 3:00 am

Yeah being poor, never mind growing up poor, just well and truly sucks and it can really @@@@ you up. Gives people all sorts of issues. I'm rather like her, but I have had the joy of multi-hour commutes to unexciting soul crushing work. Happy, happy, joy, joy! However don't forget that with the current political economy things are likely to go bad in all sorts of ways. This whole site is devoted to that. My suggestion is to keep the job unless you have something lined up. Not being able to rent has it own stresses too. Take my word for it.

Thuto , November 21, 2017 at 8:00 am

I may be engaging in semantics but I think conflating work and jobs makes this article a bit of a mixed bag. I know plenty of people who are terribly unhappy in their jobs, but nonetheless extract a sense of wellbeing from having a stable source of INCOME to pay their bills (anecdotally speaking, acute stress from recent job losses is closely linked to uncertainty about how bills are going to be paid, that's why those with a safety net of accumulated savings report less stress than those without). Loss of status, social standing and identity and the chronic stress borne from these become evident much later I.e. when the unemployment is prolonged, accompanied of course by the still unresolved top-of-mind concern of "how to pay the bills".

As such, acute stress for the recently unemployed is driven by financial/income uncertainty (I.e. how am I going to pay the bills) whereas chronic stress from prolonged unemployment brings into play the more identity driven aspects like loss of social standing and status. For policy interventions to have any effects, policy makers would have to delineate the primary drivers of stress (or lack of wellbeing as the author calls it) during the various phases of the unemployment lifecycle. An Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) like we have here in South Africa appears to address the early stages of unemployment, and the accompanying acute stress, quite well by providing the income guarantee (for six months) that cushions the shock of losing a job. What's still missing of course are interventions that promote the quick return to employment for those on UIF, so maybe a middle of the road solution between UBI and a jobs guarantee scheme is how policy makers should be framing this, instead of the binary either/or we currently have.

TroyMcClure , November 21, 2017 at 9:19 am

Lots' of people think they're unhappy with their jobs. Let them sit unemployed for 9 months and ask them if they want that job back. The usual parade of anecdata is on display here in the comments. Mitchell's real data and analysis in the article above still stand.

Thuto , November 21, 2017 at 10:06 am

If you'd read through my comment, and not rushed through it with a view of dishing out a flippant response, you'd have seen that nowhere do I question the validity of his data, I merely question how the argument is presented in some areas (NC discourages unquestioning deference to the views of experts no??). By the way, anecdotes do add to richer understanding of a nuanced and layered topic (as this one is) so your dismissal of them in your haste to invalidate people's observations is hardly helpful.

jrs , November 21, 2017 at 1:15 pm

Yes people many not like their jobs but prefer the security of having them to not. Yes even if the boss sexually harasses one (as we are seeing is very common). Yes even if there is other workplace abuse. Yes even when it causes depression or PTSD (but if one stays with such a job long term it ruins the self confidence that is one prerequisite to get another job!). Yes even if one is in therapy because of job stress, sexual harassment or you name it. The job allows the having health insurance, allows the therapy, allows the complaining about the job in therapy to make it through another week.

Lambert Strether , November 22, 2017 at 2:04 am

> The usual parade of anecdata is on display here in the comments. Mitchell's real data and analysis in the article above still stand.

Ding ding ding!

Democrita , November 21, 2017 at 8:13 am

When unemployed, the stress of worry about money may suppress the creative juices. Speaking from experience. People may well 'keep looking for jobs' because they know ultimately they need a job with steady income. The great experience of some freelancers notwithstanding, not all are cut out for it.

I would love to see some more about happiness or its lack in retirement–referenced by stay-at-home dad BJ , above.

I wonder, too, about the impact of *how* one loses one's job. Getting laid off vs fired vs quitting vs involuntary retirement vs voluntary, etc feel very different. Speaking from experience on that, too. I will search on these points and post anything of interest.

jrs , November 21, 2017 at 1:40 pm

There are also other things that are degrading about the very process of being unemployed not mentioned here. What about the constant rejection that it can entail? One is unemployed and looking for work, one sends out resumes, many of them will never be answered, that's rejection. Then if one is lucky they get interviews, many will never lead to jobs, yet more rejection. Does the process of constant rejection itself have a negative effect on a human being whether it's looking for jobs or dates or whatever? Isn't it learned helplessness to if one keeps trying for something and keeps failing. Isn't that itself demoralizing entirely independent of any doubtful innate demoralizing quality of leisure.

freedeomny , November 21, 2017 at 10:23 am

I am not so sure if I agree with this article. I think it really depends on whether or not you have income to support yourself, hate or love your job, and the amount of outside interests you have, among other things. Almost everyone I know who lives in the NYC area and commutes into the city .doesn't like their job and finds the whole situation "soul-crushing".

Those that live in Manhattan proper are (feel) a bit better off. I for one stopped working somewhat voluntarily last year. I write somewhat because I began to dislike my job so much that it was interfering with my state of well being, however, if I had been allowed to work remotely I probably would have stuck it out for another couple of years.

I am close enough to 62 that I can make do before SS kicks in although I have completely changed my lifestyle – i.e. I've given up a materialistic lifestyle and live very frugally.

Additionally I saved for many years once I decided to embark on this path. I do not find myself depressed at all and the path this year has been very enriching and exciting (and scary) as I reflect on what I want for the future. I'm pretty sure I will end up moving and buying a property so that I can become as self sufficient as possible. Also, I probably will get a job down the line – but if I can't get one because I am deemed too old that will be ok as well. The biggest unknown for me is how much health insurance will cost in the future .

Yves Smith Post author , November 21, 2017 at 5:15 pm

The article made clear that the studies included "unemployed but with income" from government support. It is amazing the degree to which readers ignore that and want to make the findings about "unemployed with no income".

JBird , November 22, 2017 at 3:30 am

That's because we Americans all have work=good=worthy=blessed by God while workless=scum=worthless=accursed by God engraved into our collective soul. Our politics, our beliefs, are just overlays to that.

Even when we agree that the whole situation just crushes people into paste, and for which they have no defense regardless of how hard they work, how carefully they plan, or what they do, that underlay makes use feel that this is their/our fault. Any suggestions that at least some support can be decoupled from work, and that maybe work, and how much you earn, should not determine their value, brings the atavistic fear of being the "undeserving poor," parasites and therefore reprobated scum.

So we don't hear what you are saying without extra effort because it's bypassing our conscious thoughts.

Jamie , November 21, 2017 at 10:43 am

Add my voice to those above who feel that forced labor is the bane of existence, not the wellspring. All this study says to me is that refusing to employ someone in capitalist society does not make them happy. It makes them outcasts.

So, I say yes to a JG, because anyone who wants work should be offered work. But at the same time, a proper JG is not forced labor. And the only way to ensure that it is not forced labor, is to decouple basic needs from wage slavery.

Left in Wisconsin , November 21, 2017 at 12:02 pm

I am critical of those who distinguish between the job and the income. Of course the income is critical to the dignity of the job. For many jobs, it is the primary source of that dignity. The notion that all jobs should provide some intrinsic dignity unrelated to the income, or that people whose dignity is primarily based on the income they earn rather than the work they do are deluded, is to buy in to the propaganda of "passion" being a requirement for your work and to really be blind to what is required to make a society function. Someone has to change the diapers, and wipe the butts of old people. (yes, I've done both.) It doesn't require passion and any sense of satisfaction is gone by about the second day. But if you could make a middle class living doing it, there would be a lot fewer unhappy people in the world.

It is well known that auto factory jobs were not perceived as good jobs until the UAW was able to make them middle class jobs. The nature of the actual work itself hasn't changed all that much over the years – mostly it is still very repetitive work that requires little specialized training, even if the machine technology is much improved. Indeed, I would guess that more intrinsic satisfaction came from bashing metal than pushing buttons on a CNC machine, and so the jobs may even be less self-actualizing than they used to be.

The capitalist myth is that the private sector economy generates all the wealth and the public sector is a claim on that wealth. Yet human development proves to us that this is not true – a substantial portion of "human capital" is developed outside the paid economy, government investment in R&D generates productivity growth, etc. And MMT demonstrates that we do not require private sector savings to fund public investment.

We are still a ways from having the math to demonstrate that government investment in caring and nurturing is always socially productive – first we need productivity numbers that reflect more than just private sector "product." But I think we are moving in that direction. Rather than prioritize a minimum wage JG of make-work, we should first simply pay people good wages to raise their own children or look after their elderly and disabled relatives. The MMT JG, as I understand it, would still require people to leave their kids with others to look after them in order to perform some minimum wage task. That is just dumb.

jrs , November 21, 2017 at 1:31 pm

Maybe it's dumb, it's certainly dumb in a system like the U.S. where work is brutal and often low paid and paid childcare is not well remunerated either. But caretakers also working seems to work in countries with greater income equality, good job protections, flexible work arrangements, and a decent amount of paid parental leave – yea Denmark, they think their children should be raised by professionals, but also work-life balance is still pretty good.

Whiskey Bob , November 21, 2017 at 1:34 pm

My take is that capitalism has made the benefits and malus of having a job so ingrained into culture and so reinforced. Having a job is so closely linked to happiness because it gives you the money needed to pursue it.

A job affords you the ability to pursue whatever goals you want within a capitalist framework. "Everything" costs money and so having a job gives you the money to pay for those costs and go on to fulfill your pursuit of happiness.

Analyzing whether people are happy or not under these conditions seem apparent that it is going to lead to results heavily biased towards finding happiness through employment.

The unemployed are often living off someone else's income and feel like an undeserving parasite. Adults are generally ingrained with the culture that they have to grow up and be independent and be able to provide for a new family that they will start up. Becoming unemployed is like being emasculated and infantile, the opposite of what is expected of adults.

There's also that not having a job is increasingly being punished especially in the case of America. American wages have stayed either largely static or have worsened, making being unemployed that much more of a burden on family or friends. Unemployment has been demonized by Reaganism and has become systematically punishable for the long term unemployed. If you are unemployed for too long, you start losing government support. This compounds the frantic rush to get out of unemployment once unemployed.

There is little luxury to enjoy while unemployed. Life while unemployed is a frustrating and often disappointing hell of constant job applications and having many of them lead to nothing. The people providing support often start to become less so over time and become more convinced of laziness or some kind of lack of character or willpower or education or ability or whatever. Any sense of systemic failure is transplanted into a sense of personal failure, especially under neoliberalism.

I am not so sure about the case of Europe and otherwise. I am sure that the third world often has little or no social safety nets so having work (in exploitative conditions in many cases) is a must for survival.

Anyways, I wonder about the exact methodologies of these studies and I think they often take the current feelings about unemployment and then attempt to extrapolate talking points for UBI/JG from them. Yes, UBI wouldn't change culture overnight and it would take a very, very long time for people to let down their guard and adjust if UBI is to be implemented in a manner that would warrant trust. This article seems to understand the potential for that, but decides against it being a significant factor due to the studies emphasizing the malus of unemployment.

I wonder how different the results would be if there were studies that asked people how they would feel if they were unemployed under a UBI system versus the current system. I know a good number of young people (mostly under 30) who would love to drop out and just play video games all day. Though the significance of such a drastic demographic shift would probably lead to great political consequences. It would probably prove the anti-UBI crowd right in that under a capitalist framework, the capitalists and the employed wouldn't tolerate the unemployed and would seek to turn them into an underclass.

Personally I think a combination of UBI and JG should be pursued. JG would work better within the current capitalist framework. I don't think it is without its pitfalls due to similar possible issues (with the similar policy of full employment) either under Keynesianism (e.g. Milton Friedman sees it as inefficient) or in the USSR (e.g. bullshit jobs). There is the possibility of UBI having benefits (not having the unemployed be a burden but a subsidized contributer to the economy) so I personally don't think it should be fully disregarded until it is understood better. I would like it if there were better scientific studies to expand upon the implications of UBI and better measure if it would work or not. The upcoming studies testing an actual UBI system should help to end the debates once and for all.

redleg , November 21, 2017 at 2:28 pm

My $0.02: I have a creative pursuit (no money) and a engineering/physical science technical career (income!). I am proficient in and passionate about both. Over the last few years, the technical career became tenuous due to consolidation of regional consulting firms (endemic to this era)- wages flat to declining, higher work stress, less time off, conversation to contact employment, etc.- which has resulted in two layoffs.

During the time of tenuous employment, my art took on a darker tone. During unemployment the art stopped altogether.

I'm recently re-employed in a field that I'm not proficient. Both the peter principle and imposter syndrome apply. My art has resumed, but the topics are singular about despair and work, to the point that I feel like I'm constantly reworking the same one piece over and over again. And the quality has plummeted too.

In some fields (e.g. engineering), being a wage slave is the only realistic option due to the dominance of a small number of large firms. The big players crowd out independents and free lancers, while pressuring their own employees through just-high-enough wages and limiting time off. Engineering services is a relationship- based field, and the big boys (and they are nearly all boys) have vastly bigger networks to draw work from than a small firm unless that small firm has a big contact to feed them work (until they get gobbled up). The big firms also have more areas of expertise which limits how useful a boutique firm is to a client pool, except under very narrow circumstances. And if you are an introvert like most engineering people, there's no way to compete with big firms and their marketing staff to expand a network enough to compete.

In that way, consulting is a lot like art. To make a living at it you need either contacts or a sponsor. Or an inheritance.

ChrisPacific , November 21, 2017 at 5:30 pm

I would be interested to know what the definition of unemployment was for the purpose of this study (I couldn't find it in the supplied links). If it's simply "people who don't have a job," for example, then it would include the likes of the idle rich, retirees, wards of the state, and so on. Binary statements like this one do make it sound like the broad definition is the one in use:

When considering the world's population as a whole, people with a job evaluate the quality of their lives much more favorably than those who are unemployed.

The conclusion seems at odds with results I've seen for some of those groups – for example, I thought it was fairly well accepted that retirees who are supported by a government plan that is sufficient for them to live on were generally at least as happy as they had been during their working life.

If, on the other hand, the study uses a narrow definition (e.g. people who are of working age, want a job or need one to support themselves financially, but can't find one) then the conclusion seems a lot more reasonable. But that's a heavily loaded definition in economic and cultural terms. In that case, the conclusion (people are happier if they have a job) only holds true in the current prevailing model of society. It doesn't rule out the possibility of structuring society or the economy differently in such a way that people can be non-working and happy. The existence of one such population already (retirees) strongly suggests that outcomes like this are possible. A UBI would be an example of just such a restructuring of society, and therefore I don't think that this study and its result are necessarily a valid argument against it.

nihil obstet , November 21, 2017 at 6:07 pm

Which makes a person happier -- being considered worthless by one's society or valuable? How many studies do we need to answer that question? Apparently, a lot, because studies like this one keep on going. The underlying assumption is that jobs make one valuable. So if you don't have a job you're worthless. Now, who's happier on the whole, people with jobs or the unemployed? That's surely good for a few more studies. Did you know that members of socially devalued groups (minorities, non-heteros, and the like) have higher rates of dysfunction, rather like the unemployed? Hmm, I wonder if there's maybe a similar principle at work. And my solution is not to turn all the people of color white nor to change all the women to men nor to "cure" gays. Well, maybe a few more conclusive studies of this kind will convince me that we must all be the same, toeing the line for those whom it has pleased God to dictate our values to us.

I am convinced that we shouldn't outlaw jobs, because I believe the tons of stories about happy people in their jobs However, I also believe we shouldn't force everyone into jobs, because I know tons of stories about happy people without jobs. You know, the stories that the JG people explain away: parents caring for their children (JG -- "oh, we'll make that a job!"), volunteers working on local planning issues (JG -- "oh, we'll make that a job, too. In fact, we'll make everything worth doing a job. The important thing is to be able to force people to work schedules and bosses, because otherwise, they'll all lie around doing nothing and be miserable"), the retired (JG -- "that's not really the same, but they'd be better off staying in a job"). And this is all before we get to those who can't really hold a job because of disability or geography or other responsibilities.

I support the JG over the current situation, but as to what we should be working for, the more I read the JG arguments, the more paternalistic and just plain narrow minded judgmental they seem.

Summer , November 21, 2017 at 6:52 pm

If someone else gives you a sense of purpose and takes it away what was the purpose?

Lambert Strether , November 22, 2017 at 1:24 am

Data like that provided by Mitchell is important to demolishing the horrid "economic anxiety" frame much beloved by liberals, especially wonkish Democrats.* It's not (a) just feelings , to be solved by scented candles or training (the liberal version of rugged individualism) and (b) the effects are real and measurable. It's not surprising, when you think about it, that the working class is about work .

* To put this another way, anybody who has really suffered the crawling inwardness of anxiety, in the clinical sense, knows that it affects every aspect of one's being. Anxiety is not something deplorables deploy as cover for less than creditable motives.

[Nov 15, 2017] Alex Azar Can There Be Uglier Scenarios than the Revolving Door naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... By Lambert Strether ..."
"... So should Mr Azar be confirmed as Secretary of DHHS, the fox guarding the hen house appears to be a reasonable analogy. ..."
"... In this post, I'd like to add two additional factors to our consideration of Azar. The first: Democrat credentialism makes it hard for them to oppose Azar. The second: The real ..."
Nov 15, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Alex Azar: Can There Be Uglier Scenarios than the Revolving Door? Posted on November 15, 2017 by Lambert Strether By Lambert Strether

Clearly, Alex Azar, nominated yesterday for the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services by the Trump Administration, exemplifies the case of the "revolving door," through which Flexians slither on their way to (or from) positions of public trust. Roy Poses ( cross-posted at NC ) wrote, when Azar was only Acting Secretary:

Last week we noted that Mr Trump famously promised to &#8220;drain the swamp&#8221; in Washington. Last week, despite his previous pledges to not appoint lobbyists to powerful positions, he appointed a lobbyist to be acting DHHS Secretary. This week he is apparently strongly considering Mr Alex Azar, a pharmaceutical executive to be permanent DHHS Secretary, even though the FDA, part of DHHS, has direct regulatory authority over the pharmaceutical industry, and many other DHHS policies strongly affect the pharmaceutical industry. (By the way, Mr Azar was also in charge of one lobbying effort.)

So should Mr Azar be confirmed as Secretary of DHHS, the fox guarding the hen house appears to be a reasonable analogy.

Moreover, several serious legal cases involving bad behavior by his company, and multiple other instances of apparently unethical behavior occurred on Mr Azar&#8217;s watch at Eli Lilly. So the fox might be not the most reputable member of the species.

So you know the drill&#8230;. The revolving door is a species of conflict of interest . Worse, some experts have suggested that the revolving door is in fact corruption. As we noted here , the experts from the distinguished European anti-corruption group U4 wrote ,

The literature makes clear that the revolving door process is a source of valuable political connections for private firms. But it generates corruption risks and has strong distortionary effects on the economy , especially when this power is concentrated within a few firms.

The ongoing parade of people transiting the revolving door from industry to the Trump administration once again suggests how the revolving door may enable certain of those with private vested interests to have excess influence, way beyond that of ordinary citizens, on how the government works, and that the country is still increasingly being run by a cozy group of insiders with ties to both government and industry. This has been termed crony capitalism.

Poses is, of course, correct. (Personally, I've contained my aghastitude on Azar, because I remember quite well how Liz Fowler transitioned from Wellpoint to being Max Baucus's chief of staff when ObamaCare was being drafted to a job in Big Pharma , and I remember quite well the deal with Big Pharma Obama cut, which eliminated the public option , not that the public option was anything other than a decreasingly gaudy "progressive" bauble in the first place.)

In this post, I'd like to add two additional factors to our consideration of Azar. The first: Democrat credentialism makes it hard for them to oppose Azar. The second: The real damage Azar could do is on the regulatory side.[1]

First, Democrat credentialism. Here is one effusive encomium on Azar. From USA Today, "Who is Alex Azar? Former drugmaker CEO and HHS official nominated to head agency" :

"I am glad to hear that you have worked hard, and brought fair-minded legal analysis to the department," Democratic Sen. Max Baucus said at Azar's last confirmation hearing.

And:

Andy Slavitt, who ran the Affordable Care Act and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services during the Obama administration, said he has reason to hope Azar would be a good secretary.

"He is familiar with the high quality of the HHS staff, has real-world experience enough to be pragmatic, and will hopefully avoid repeating the mistakes of his predecessor," Slavitt said.

So, if Democrats are saying Azar is "fair-minded" and "pragmatic" -- and heaven forfend that the word "corruption"[2] even be mentioned -- how do they oppose him, even he's viscerally opposed to everything Democrats supposedly stand for? (Democrats do this with judicial nominations, too.) Azar may be a fox, alright, but the chickens he's supposedly guarding are all clucking about how impeccable his qualifications are!

Second, let's briefly look at Azar's bio. Let me excerpt salient detail from USA Today :

1. Azar clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia .

2. Azar went to work for his mentor, Ken Starr , who was heading the independent counsel investigation into Bill and Hillary Clinton's Whitewater land deal.

3. Azar had a significant role in another major political controversy when the outcome of the 2000 presidential election hinged on a recount in Florida . Azar was on the Bush team of lawyers whose side ultimately prevailed [3]

For any Democrat with a memory, that bio provokes one of those "You shall know them by the trail of the dead" moments. And then there's this:

When Leavitt replaced Thompson in 2005 and Azar became his deputy, Leavitt delegated a lot of the rule-making process to Azar.

So, a liberal Democrat might classify Azar as a smooth-talking reactionary thug with a terrible record and the most vile mentors imaginable, and on top of it all, he's an effective bureaucratic fixer. What could the Trump Administration possibly see in such a person? Former (Republican) HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt explains:

"Understanding the administrative rule process in the circumstance we're in today could be extraordinarily important because a lot of the change in the health care system, given the fact that they've not succeeded legislatively, could come administratively."

We outlined the administration strategy on health care in "Trump Adminstration Doubles Down on Efforts to Crapify the Entire Health Care System (Unless You're Rich, of Course)" . There are three prongs:

1) Administratively, send ObamaCare into a death spiral by sabotaging it

2) Legislatively, gut Medicaid as part of the "tax refom" package in Congress

3) Through executive order, eliminate "essential health benefits" through "association health plans"

As a sidebar, it's interesting to see that although this do-list is strategically and ideologically coherent -- basically, your ability to access health care will be directly dependent on your ability to pay -- it's institutionally incoherent, a bizarre contraption screwed together out of legislation, regulations, and an Executive order. Of course, this incoherence mirrors to Rube Goldberg structure of ObamaCare itself, itself a bizarre contraption, especially when compared to the simple, rugged, and proven single payer system. ( Everything Obama did with regulations and executive orders, Trump can undo, with new regulations and new executive orders . We might compare ObamaCare to a child born with no immune system, that could only have survived within the liberal bubble within which it was created; in the real world, it's not surprising that it's succumbing to opportunistic infections.[2])

On #1, The administration has, despite its best efforts, not achieved a controlled flight into terrain with ObamaCare; enrollment is up. On #2, the administration and its Congressional allies are still dickering with tax reform. And on #3 . That looks looks like a job for Alex Azar, since both essential health benefits and association health plans are significantly affected by regulation.

So, yes, there are worse scenarios than the revolving door; it's what you leave behind you as the door revolves that matters. It would be lovely if there were a good old-fashioned confirmation battle over Azar, but, as I've pointed out, the Democrats have tied their own hands. Ideally, the Democrats would junk the Rube Goldberg device that is ObamaCare, rendering all of Azar's regulatory expertise null and void, but that doesn't seem likely, given that they seem to be doing everything possible to avoid serious discussion of policy in 2018 and 2020.

NOTES

[1] I'm leaving aside what will no doubt be the 2018 or even 2020 issue of drug prices, since for me that's subsumed under the issue of single payer. If we look only at Azar's history in business, real price decreases seem unlikely. Business Insider :

Over the 10-year period when Azar was at Lilly, the price of insulin notched a three-fold increase. It wasn't just Lilly's insulin product, called Humalog. The price of a rival made by Novo Nordisk has also climbed, with the two rising in such lockstep that you can barely see both trend lines below.

The gains came despite the fact that the insulin, which as a medication has an almost-century-long history, hasn't really changed since it was first approved.

Nice business to be in, eh? Here's that chart:

It's almost like Lilly (Azar's firm) and Novo Nordisk are working together, isn't it?

[2] Anyhow, as of the 2016 Clinton campaign , the Democrat standard -- not that of Poses, nor mine -- is that if there's no quid pro quo, there's no corruption.

[3] And, curiously, "[HHS head Tommy] Thompson said HHS was in the eye of the storm after the 2001 terrorist attacks, and Azar had an important role in responding to the resulting public health challenges, as well as the subsequent anthrax attacks "

MedicalQuack , November 15, 2017 at 10:31 am

Oh please, stop quoting Andy Slavitt, the United Healthcare Ingenix algo man. That guy is the biggest crook that made his money early on with RX discounts with his company that he and Senator Warren's daughter, Amelia sold to United Healthcare. He's out there trying to do his own reputation restore routine. Go back to 2009 and read about the short paying of MDs by Ingenix, which is now Optum Insights, he was the CEO and remember it was just around 3 years ago or so he sat there quarterly with United CEO Hemsley at those quarterly meetings. Look him up, wants 40k to speak and he puts the perception out there he does this for free, not so.

diptherio , November 15, 2017 at 11:25 am

I think you're missing the context. Lambert is quoting him by way of showing that the sleazy establishment types are just fine with him. Thanks for the extra background on that particular swamp-dweller, though.

a different chris , November 15, 2017 at 2:01 pm

Not just the context, it's a quote in a quote. Does make me think Slavitt must be a real piece of work to send MQ so far off his rails

petal , November 15, 2017 at 12:52 pm

Alex Azar is a Dartmouth grad (Gov't & Economics '88) just like Jeff Immelt (Applied Math & Economics '78). So much damage to society from such a small department!

sgt_doom , November 15, 2017 at 1:21 pm

Nice one, petal !!!

Really, all I need to know about the Trumpster Administration:

From Rothschild to . . . .

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilbur_Ross

Since 2014, Ross has been the vice-chairman of the board of Bank of Cyprus PCL, the largest bank in Cyprus.

He served under U.S. President Bill Clinton on the board of the U.S.-Russia Investment Fund. Later, under New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Ross served as the Mayor's privatization advisor.

Jen , November 15, 2017 at 7:56 pm

Or from a "small liberal arts college" (which is a university in all but name, because alumni).

Tim Geitner ('82 – Goverment)
Hank Paulson ('68 – English)

jo6pac , November 15, 2017 at 2:13 pm

Well it's never ending game in the beltway and we serfs aren't in it.

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/11/15/trump-adds-to-washingtons-swamp/

Alfred , November 15, 2017 at 2:53 pm

I don't believe that the President's "swamp" ever consisted of crooked officials, lobbyists, and cronies I think it has always consisted of those regulators who tried sincerely to defend public interests.

It was in the sticky work of those good bureaucrats that the projects of capitalists and speculators bogged down. It is against their efforts that the pickup-driving cohort of Trump_vs_deep_state (with their Gadsden flag decals) relentlessly rails.

Trump has made much progress in draining the regulatory swamp (if indeed that is the right way to identify it), and no doubt will make considerably more as time wears on, leaving America high and dry. The kind of prevaricator Trump is may simply be the one who fails to define his terms.

Henry Moon Pie , November 15, 2017 at 4:13 pm

I think we've moved past the revolving door. We hear members of the United States Senate publicly voice their concerns about what will happen if they fail to do their employers' bidding (and I'm not talking about "the public" here). In the bureaucracy, political appointees keep accruing more and more power even as they make it clearer and clearer that they work for "the donors" and not the people. Nowhere is this more true than the locus through which passes most of the money: the Pentagon. The fact that these beribboned heroes are, in fact, setting war policy on their own makes the knowledge that they serve Raytheon and Exxon rather than Americans very, very troubling.

I suspect Azar's perception is that he is just moving from one post to another within the same company.

Watt4Bob , November 15, 2017 at 5:28 pm

Perfect cartoon over at Truthout

I'm amazed there is enough private security available on this planet to keep these guys safe.

Larry , November 15, 2017 at 8:01 pm

Big pharma indeed has so much defense from the supposed left. It combines their faith in technological progress, elite institutions, and tugs on the heart strings with technology that can save people from a fate of ill health or premature death. Of course, the aspect of the laws being written to line the pockets of corrupt executives is glossed over. While drug prices and medical costs spiral ever higher, our overall longevity and national health in the US declines. That speaks volumes about what Democrats really care about.

[Oct 14, 2017] Ilargi The Curious Case of Missing the Market Boom naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... Had he bailed out Main Street, the bubble would be smaller, ..."
"... Minsky had it right; capitalism's instability is the power to turn doing good into speculative fervor. ..."
"... Chauncey Gardiner , October 14, 2017 at 4:29 pm ..."
"... Thanks to interest rate suppression below the rate of inflation through central bank QE over the past nine years, suppression of Market Volatility through 'risk parity' funds and futures, trillions of dollars of corporate stock buybacks funded with debt that have so enriched a generation of CEOs, direct purchases of equities by central banks or their agents, a constant barrage of corporate media spin and taunting of market nonparticipants such as Ilargi pointed out here, massive engineered short squeezes, HFT algorithms to prevent price discovery, and other devices, I am once again reminded of the "‪WUN'ERFUL, WUN'ERFUL!" ‬parody of the old Lawrence Welk Show by comedian Stan Freberg when he repeatedly called out, "Turn off the bubble machine!" ..."
"... Funny how the corporate media presents stock prices as being the product of Mom's and Pop's freely made decisions in a "free market" environment. Never a mention of centrally planned policies of financial repression and wealth concentration to benefit a small segment of the population both economically and politically. ..."
"... Appreciated former IMF chief economist Simon Johnson's 2009 article about the three different kinds of bubbles. Believe this one can best be characterized as a "Type 3" political bubble where rising asset prices generate wealth that are fed into the political process. (See: https://baselinescenario.com/2009/07/24/after-peak-finance-larry-summers-bubble/ ) ..."
Oct 14, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Look, emerging markets and developed economies have borrowed up the wazoo. Because they could. Often in US dollars. That may cause a -temporary- gain in stock markets, but it casts a dark spell over the reality of these markets. If it's that obvious that a substantial part of your happy news comes from debt, there's very little reason to celebrate.

Technology megacaps occupy all top six spots in the ranks of the world's largest companies by market capitalization for the first time ever. Up 39% this year, the $1 trillion those firms added in value equals the combined worth of the world's six-biggest companies at the bear market bottom in 2009. Apple, priced at $810 billion, is good for the total value of the 400 smallest companies in the S&P 500.

To cast those exact same words in a whole different light, no, Apple is not 'good for the total value of the 400 smallest companies in the S&P 500'. Yes, you can argue that Apple's 'value' has lifted other stocks too, but this has happened in a time of zero price discovery AND near zero interest rates. That means people have no way to figure out if a company is actually doing well, so it's safer to park their cash in Apple.

Ergo: Apple, and the FANGs in general, take valuable money out of the stock market. At the same time that they, companies with P/E earnings ratios to the moon and back, buy back their stocks at blinding speeds. So yeah, Apple may be 'good' for the total value of the 400 smallest companies in the S&P 500 , but at the same time it's not good for that value at all. It's killing companies by sucking up potential productive investment.

And Apple's just an example. Silicon Valley as a whole is a scourge upon America's economy, hoovering away even the cheapest and easiest money and redirecting it to questionable start-up projects with very questionable P/E ratios. But then, that's what you get without price discovery.

Bill Smith , October 14, 2017 at 7:28 am

Misquoting a Keynes misquote: markets can remain irrational for a long time.

So for those that rode the market up, extracted something real from the gains and then end up riding it down are still better off. Oh, yeah: avoid leverage.

esb , October 14, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Bill, who really knows what rational and irrational actually mean in the instant financial environment, an environment in which debt is being allowed to function, in many ways, as an asset rather than as a liability.

I only know two things with certainty first, that every investor I speak with and asset manager I respect is frightened beyond any measure I have experienced before in an rising equity market and second, that approximately half of my contacts fear that we will awaken one morning to the beginning of a war that will not easily be contained (many use the term, miscalculation).

So rather that being a moment or period of extreme euphoria this feels more like the 'mother' of all walls of worry.

Strategist , October 14, 2017 at 7:37 am

Shorter version: "the time to sell is when they start targeting the propaganda to buy at the shoeshine boy"
??

Wukchumni , October 14, 2017 at 10:43 am

Financial bubbles used to work in a fashion where there was oh so much confidence on the way up, and a leper-like quality to whatever was the object of desire once they start on their way down.

When the housing bubble got reignited here after collapse in 2008'ish, I was frankly shocked that it could happen, but I was thinking of the old ways, which used to make sense.

Seeing as there's a bubble in oh so many ways now (fancy a $100 million+ 20th century painting, do ya?) the bust is gonna be epic.

Steven Greenberg , October 14, 2017 at 11:16 am

I am hoping that owning the few remaining undervalued stocks will give me some sort of cover. I am also hoping that the long history of dividend payments from these companies will not drop as precipitously as their prices. I am also hoping that the amount of cash I am holding will take me through the worst of the crash.

Beyond that, I am not going to try to time the market.

Tomonthebeach , October 14, 2017 at 11:35 am

It is difficult not to conclude that globally, central bankers cannot seem to apply what they learned in Econ 101 (which is all most of us ever understood). Markets will always be best explained by Chaos theory , and thus it is best for central banks to head off bubbles rather than lend more inflation to them out of political concern. In 2008, Obama bailed out the wrong sector merely kicking the can down the road. Had he bailed out Main Street, the bubble would be smaller, and there would be more cash chasing after goods instead of the next spin of the stock market wheel of fortune.

Most of us put our coin in ETFs and mutual funds in the hope that we will still have some wealth in whichever sectors survive the impending crash that our governments have brought upon themselves. It's just a damned shame that unlike 1929, the windows of most high rise office buildings no longer open for easy egress. Well, there is always street fentanyl.

Synoia , October 14, 2017 at 4:40 pm

Markets will always be best only explained by Chaos theory

nonclassical , October 14, 2017 at 8:22 pm

not difficult to explain markets read history

Susan the other , October 14, 2017 at 12:12 pm

I've discovered Roger Penrose on YouTube. He just explained cosmological inflation as tubular rather than parabolic. Like one long perpetual piston back-pressured by dark matter barriers when enough entropy builds up – like snake grass sectioned off and growing into eternity and it all works because time=matter=frequency=time. And entropy fills the end stage of an aeon like raindrops in a pond. And then a new aeon begins. The universe just devalues an goes on forever. Mark Blythe might like this. We should just let it rain.

Milton , October 14, 2017 at 12:23 pm

They sure make it tough to get out or stay on the sidelines – case in point, Fidelity's Fixed Income earns exactly 0%. I moved assets from S&P fund in March and feel like a shmuck as I'm not only not earning anything, I get the pleasure of paying fees for my non-participation.

shinola , October 14, 2017 at 1:28 pm

A couple of old cliches: "Buy low & sell high" – Apparently, no longer operational. "There's a sucker born every minute" – seems the "global market analysts" still believe in this one (and probably with good reason)

Burritonomics , October 14, 2017 at 3:01 pm

Evaluating anything and ignoring all save the end product is jaw-dropping foolishness. In poker and gambling, it's called "playing the results". You're gonna up up broke, and will never see it coming. Minsky had it right; capitalism's instability is the power to turn doing good into speculative fervor.

Chauncey Gardiner , October 14, 2017 at 4:29 pm

Thanks to interest rate suppression below the rate of inflation through central bank QE over the past nine years, suppression of Market Volatility through 'risk parity' funds and futures, trillions of dollars of corporate stock buybacks funded with debt that have so enriched a generation of CEOs, direct purchases of equities by central banks or their agents, a constant barrage of corporate media spin and taunting of market nonparticipants such as Ilargi pointed out here, massive engineered short squeezes, HFT algorithms to prevent price discovery, and other devices, I am once again reminded of the "‪WUN'ERFUL, WUN'ERFUL!" ‬parody of the old Lawrence Welk Show by comedian Stan Freberg when he repeatedly called out, "Turn off the bubble machine!"

Funny how the corporate media presents stock prices as being the product of Mom's and Pop's freely made decisions in a "free market" environment. Never a mention of centrally planned policies of financial repression and wealth concentration to benefit a small segment of the population both economically and politically. Where's the SEC? or are we just to blame it all on economist Larry Summers' observation that artificially low interest rates over long time periods cause asset bubbles and high systemic debt leverage, but that repeated asset bubbles are not such a bad thing in an era of "secular stagnation"?

Appreciated former IMF chief economist Simon Johnson's 2009 article about the three different kinds of bubbles. Believe this one can best be characterized as a "Type 3" political bubble where rising asset prices generate wealth that are fed into the political process. (See: https://baselinescenario.com/2009/07/24/after-peak-finance-larry-summers-bubble/ )

[Oct 06, 2017] Prof. Philip Mirowski keynote for Life and Debt conference

Highly recommended!
Among interesting ideas that Mirkowski presented in this lecture are "privatization of science" -- when well paid intellectual prostitutes produce the reuslt which are expected by their handlers. the other is his thought on the difference between neoclassical economics and neoliberalism. Neoliberalism believes in state intervention and this intervention should take the form of enforcing market on all spheres of human society.
Another interesting idea that neoliberalism in many cases doe not need the success of its ideas. The failure can also be exploited for enforcing "more market" on the society.
In other words market fundamentalism has all features of civil religion and like in Middle Ages it is enforced from above. heretics are not burned at the stake but simply ostracized.
Notable quotes:
"... how it is that science came to be subordinate to economics and the very future of nature to be contingent upon the market. ..."
"... As a leading exponent of the Institutional school, he has published formal treatments of financial markets that update Minsky's 'financial instability hypothesis' for the world of computerised derivative trading. ..."
Aug 18, 2013 | www.youtube.com

Life and Debt: Living through the Financialisation of the Biosphere

How can it be that the climate crisis, the biodiversity crisis and the deepest financial crisis since 1930s have done so little to undermine the supremacy of orthodox economics?

The lecture will preview material from Mirowski's new book: Never Lt a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown (Verso, 2013).

In this lecture, Professor Mirowski responds to the question of how it is that science came to be subordinate to economics and the very future of nature to be contingent upon the market. Charting the contradictions of the contemporary political landscape, he notes that science denialism, markets for pollution permits and proposals for geo-engineering can all be understood as political strategies designed to neutralize the impact of environmentalism, as they all originated in the network of corporate-sponsored think-tanks that have made neoliberal accounts of society, politics and the economy so prevalent that even the most profound crises are unable to shake their grip on the political imagination.

For those of us who are still paying attention, the task of constructing an alternative politics of science and markets is a vital one.

Philip Mirowski is Carl E. Koch Professor at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. His most famous book, More Heat Than Light: Economics as Social Physics (1989) established his reputation as a formidable critic of the scientific status of neoclassical economics. His Machine Dreams: Economics becomes a Cyborg Science (2002) presents a history of the Cold War consolidation of American economic orthodoxy in the same intellectual milieu that produced systems theory, the digital computer, the atomic bomb, the strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction, and the 'think tank'. The Road from Mont Pelerin: the Making of the Neoliberal Thought Collective (with Dieter Plewhe, 2009), drawn from the archives of the Mont Pelerin Society and the Chicago School, presents a scholarly history of neoliberalism: the political movement initiated by Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman in the 1940s, which has since become the world's dominant philosophy of government.

As a leading exponent of the Institutional school, he has published formal treatments of financial markets that update Minsky's 'financial instability hypothesis' for the world of computerised derivative trading.

This lecture is presented by the UTS Cosmopolitan Civil Societies Research Centre and the Australian Working Group on Financialisation at the University of Sydney.

[Oct 01, 2017] Crisis is the way neoliberalism evolves. It limps from one economic crisis to another

Oct 01, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

The turn to neoliberal politics occurred in the midst of a crisis in the 1970s , and the whole system has been a series of crises ever since. And of course crises produce the conditions of future crises.

In 1982–85 there was a debt crisis in Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, and basically all the developing countries including Poland. In 1987–88 there was a big crisis in US savings and loan institutions. There was a wide crisis in Sweden in 1990, and all the banks had to be nationalized .

Then of course we have Indonesia and Southeast Asia in 1997–98, then the crisis moves to Russia, then to Brazil, and it hits Argentina in 2001–2.

And there were problems in the United States in 2001 which they got through by taking money out of the stock market and pouring it into the housing market. In 2007–8 the US housing market imploded, so you got a crisis here

[Sep 27, 2017] The architect of supply-side economics is now a professor at Columbia University, former University of Chicago economist Robert Mundell is an academic charlatan

Notable quotes:
"... For the architect of the euro, taking macroeconomics away from elected politicians and forcing deregulation were part of the plan ..."
"... The idea that the euro has "failed" is dangerously naive. The euro is doing exactly what its progenitor – and the wealthy 1%-ers who adopted it – predicted and planned for it to do. ..."
Jan 20, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
RC AKA Darryl, Ron :

Thanks to New Deal democrat, who made me curious about yesterday's "comment section in re Summers' piece." Then thanks to Ron Waller for his comment which closed with: (Good read: "Robert Mundell, evil genius of the euro".)

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jun/26/robert-mundell-evil-genius-euro

Robert Mundell, evil genius of the euro

Greg Palast

For the architect of the euro, taking macroeconomics away from elected politicians and forcing deregulation were part of the plan

The idea that the euro has "failed" is dangerously naive. The euro is doing exactly what its progenitor – and the wealthy 1%-ers who adopted it – predicted and planned for it to do.

That progenitor is former University of Chicago economist Robert Mundell. The architect of "supply-side economics" is now a professor at Columbia University, but I knew him through his connection to my Chicago professor, Milton Friedman, back before Mundell's research on currencies and exchange rates had produced the blueprint for European monetary union and a common European currency.

Mundell, then, was more concerned with his bathroom arrangements. Professor Mundell, who has both a Nobel Prize and an ancient villa in Tuscany, told me, incensed:

"They won't even let me have a toilet. They've got rules that tell me I can't have a toilet in this room! Can you imagine?"

As it happens, I can't. But I don't have an Italian villa, so I can't imagine the frustrations of bylaws governing commode placement.

But Mundell, a can-do Canadian-American, intended to do something about it: come up with a weapon that would blow away government rules and labor regulations. (He really hated the union plumbers who charged a bundle to move his throne.)

"It's very hard to fire workers in Europe," he complained. His answer: the euro.

The euro would really do its work when crises hit, Mundell explained. Removing a government's control over currency would prevent nasty little elected officials from using Keynesian monetary and fiscal juice to pull a nation out of recession.

"It puts monetary policy out of the reach of politicians," he said. "[And] without fiscal policy, the only way nations can keep jobs is by the competitive reduction of rules on business."

He cited labor laws, environmental regulations and, of course, taxes. All would be flushed away by the euro. Democracy would not be allowed to interfere with the marketplace – or the plumbing.

As another Nobelist, Paul Krugman, notes, the creation of the eurozone violated the basic economic rule known as "optimum currency area". This was a rule devised by Bob Mundell.

That doesn't bother Mundell. For him, the euro wasn't about turning Europe into a powerful, unified economic unit. It was about Reagan and Thatcher.

"Ronald Reagan would not have been elected president without Mundell's influence," once wrote Jude Wanniski in the Wall Street Journal. The supply-side economics pioneered by Mundell became the theoretical template for Reaganomics – or as George Bush the Elder called it, "voodoo economics": the magical belief in free-market nostrums that also inspired the policies of Mrs Thatcher.

Mundell explained to me that, in fact, the euro is of a piece with Reaganomics:

"Monetary discipline forces fiscal discipline on the politicians as well."

And when crises arise, economically disarmed nations have little to do but wipe away government regulations wholesale, privatize state industries en masse, slash taxes and send the European welfare state down the drain.

Thus, we see that (unelected) Prime Minister Mario Monti is demanding labor law "reform" in Italy to make it easier for employers like Mundell to fire those Tuscan plumbers. Mario Draghi, the (unelected) head of the European Central Bank, is calling for "structural reforms" – a euphemism for worker-crushing schemes. They cite the nebulous theory that this "internal devaluation" of each nation will make them all more competitive.

Monti and Draghi cannot credibly explain how, if every country in the Continent cheapens its workforce, any can gain a competitive advantage.
But they don't have to explain their policies; they just have to let the markets go to work on each nation's bonds. Hence, currency union is class war by other means.

The crisis in Europe and the flames of Greece have produced the warming glow of what the supply-siders' philosopher-king Joseph Schumpeter called "creative destruction". Schumpeter acolyte and free-market apologist Thomas Friedman flew to Athens to visit the "impromptu shrine" of the burnt-out bank where three people died after it was fire-bombed by anarchist protesters, and used the occasion to deliver a homily on globalization and Greek "irresponsibility".

The flames, the mass unemployment, the fire-sale of national assets, would bring about what Friedman called a "regeneration" of Greece and, ultimately, the entire eurozone. So that Mundell and those others with villas can put their toilets wherever they damn well want to.

Far from failing, the euro, which was Mundell's baby, has succeeded probably beyond its progenitor's wildest dreams.

[Needless to say, I am not a fan of Robert Mundell's.]

Peter K. -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , January 20, 2017 at 07:19 AM

Excellent article!

"It puts monetary policy out of the reach of politicians," he said. "[And] without fiscal policy, the only way nations can keep jobs is by the competitive reduction of rules on business."

Reminded me of a point made by J.W. Mason:

http://jwmason.org/slackwire/what-does-crowding-out-even-mean/

"..It's quite reasonable to suppose that, thanks to dependence on imported inputs and/or demand for imported consumption goods, output can't rise without higher imports. And a country may well run out of foreign exchange before it runs out of domestic savings, finance or productive capacity. This is the idea behind multiple gap models in development economics, or balance of payments constrained growth. It also seems like the direction orthodoxy is heading in the eurozone, where competitiveness is bidding to replace inflation as the overriding concern of macro policy."

Peter K. -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , January 20, 2017 at 07:30 AM
I wonder how this fits with the national savings rate discussion of Miles Kimball and Brad Setser.

Like would they advise Greece to boost their national savings rate or doesn't it matter since Germany controls monetary policy?

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to Peter K.... , January 20, 2017 at 08:58 AM
"I wonder how this fits with the national savings rate discussion of Miles Kimball and Brad Setser."

[Don't know and it sounds like way too much work for me to try to figure out. Savings rate is not a problem for us and it is difficult to see how Greece could realistically increase theirs sufficient to change anything without some other intervention being made first to decrease unemployment and increase output.]

pgl -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , January 20, 2017 at 09:47 AM
It is also too much work for PeterK. If he can't cherry pick it, he don't bother.

But note our net national savings rate has been less than 2% for a long, long time.

[Sep 11, 2017] The only countervailing force, unions, were deliberately destroyed. Neoliberalism needs to atomize work force to function properly and destroys any solidarity among workers. Unions are anathema for neoliberalism, because they prevent isolation and suppression of workers.

Highly recommended!
Apr 15, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Denis Drew , April 15, 2017 at 06:58 AM
What's missing in each and every case above -- at least in the USA! -- is countervailing power. 6% labor union density in private business is equivalent to 20/10 blood pressure in the human body: it starves every other healthy process.

It is not just labor market bargaining power that has gone missing, it is not only the lost political muscle for the average person (equal campaign financing, almost all the votes), it is also the lack of machinery to deal with day-to-day outrages on a day-to-day basis (that's called lobbying).

Late dean of the Washington press corps David Broder told a young reporter that when he came to DC fifty years ago (then), all the lobbyists were union. Big pharma's biggest rip-offs, for profit school scams, all the stuff you hear about for one day on the news but no action is ever taken -- that's because there is no (LABOR UNION) mechanism to stay on top of all (or any) of it (LOBBYISTS).

cm -> Denis Drew ... , April 15, 2017 at 12:16 PM
It is a chicken and egg problem. Before large scale automation and globalization, unions "negotiated" themselves their power, which was based on employers having much fewer other choices. Any union power that was ever legislated was legislated as a *result* of union leverage, not to enable the latter (and most of what was legislated amounts to limiting employer interference with unions).

It is a basic feature of human individual and group relations that when you are needed you will be treated well, and when you are not needed you will be treated badly (or at best you will be ignored if that's less effort overall). And by needed I mean needed as a specific individual or narrowly described group.

What automation and globalization have done is created a glut of labor - specifically an oversupply of most skill sets relative to all the work that has to be done according to socially mediated decision processes (a different set of work than what "everybody" would like to happen as long as they don't have to pay for it, taking away from other necessary or desired expenditure of money, effort, or other resources).

Maybe when the boomers age out and become physically too old to work, the balance will tip again.

Peter K. -> cm... , April 15, 2017 at 12:18 PM
"What automation and globalization have done is created a glut of labor - "

No it's been policy and politics. Automation and globalization are red herrings. They've been used to enrich the rich and stick it to everyone else.

They don't have to be used that way.

There is nothing natural or inherent about it. It's all politics and class war and the wrong side is winning.

cm -> Peter K.... , April 15, 2017 at 01:32 PM
OK - they have *enabled* it. The agency is always on the human side. But at the same time, you cannot wish or postulate away human greed.
cm -> Peter K.... , April 15, 2017 at 01:44 PM
Same thing with the internet - it has been hailed as a democratizing force, but instead it has mostly (though not wholly) amplified the existing power differentials and motivation structures.

Anecdotally, a lot of companies and institutions are either restricting internal internet access or disconnecting parts of their organizations from the internet altogether, and disabling I/O channels like USB sticks, encrypting disks, locking out "untrusted" boot methods, etc. The official narrative is security and preventing leaks of confidential information, but the latter is clearly also aimed in part at whistleblowers disclosing illegal or unethical practices. Of course that a number of employees illegitimately "steal" data for personal and not to uncover injustices doesn't really help.

Denis Drew -> cm... , April 15, 2017 at 03:19 PM
Surely there is a huge difference between the labor market here and the labor market in continental Europe -- though labor there faces the same squeezing forces it faces here. Think of German auto assembly line workers making $60 an hour counting benefits.

Think Teamster Union UPS drivers -- and pity the poor, lately hired (if they are even hired) Amazon drivers -- maybe renting vans.

The Teamsters have the only example here of what is standard in continental Europe: centralized bargaining (aka sector wide labor agreements): the Master National Freight Agreement: wherein everybody doing the same job in the same locale (entire nation for long distance truckers) works under one common contract (in French Canada too).

Imagine centralized bargaining for airlines. A few years ago Northwest squeezed a billion dollars in give backs out of its pilots -- next year gave a billion dollars in bonuses to a thousand execs. Couldn't happen under centralized bargaining -- wouldn't even give the company any competitive advantage.

libezkova -> Denis Drew ... , April 15, 2017 at 04:14 PM
"What's missing in each and every case above -- at least in the USA! -- is countervailing power."

It was deliberately destroyed. Neoliberalism needs to "atomize" work force to function properly and destroys any solidarity among workers. Unions are anathema for neoliberalism, because they prevent isolation and suppression of workers.

Amazon and Uber are good examples. Both should be prosecuted under RICO act. Wall-Mart in nor far from them.

Rising fatalities from heart disease and stroke, diabetes, drug overdoses, accidents and other conditions caused the lower life expectancy revealed in a report by the National Center for Health Statistics .

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db267.htm

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2017/03/paul-krugman-the-scammers-the-scammed-and-americas-fate.html#comment-6a00d83451b33869e201b7c8e3c7c6970b

== quote ==
Anne Case and Angus Deaton garnered national headlines in 2015 when they reported that the death rate of midlife non-Hispanic white Americans had risen steadily since 1999 in contrast with the death rates of blacks, Hispanics and Europeans. Their new study extends the data by two years and shows that whatever is driving the mortality spike is not easing up.
... ... ..

Offering what they call a tentative but "plausible" explanation, they write that less-educated white Americans who struggle in the job market in early adulthood are likely to experience a "cumulative disadvantage" over time, with health and personal problems that often lead to drug overdoses, alcohol-related liver disease and suicide.

== end of quote ==

Greed is toxic. As anger tends to accumulate, and then explode, at some point neoliberals might be up to a huge surprise. Trump was the first swan.

Everybody bet on Hillary victory. And then...

[Jul 12, 2017] Ever more official lies from the US government by Paul Craig Roberts

Notable quotes:
"... John Williams counts the long term discouraged workers (discouraged for more than one year) who formerly (before "reforms") were counted officially. When the long term discouraged are counted, the US unemployment rate is in the 22-23 percent range. This is born out by the clear fact that the labor force participation rate has been falling throughout the alleded "recovery." Normally, labor force participation rates rise during economic recoveries. ..."
"... It is an extraordinary thing that although the US government itself reports that if even a small part of discouraged workers are countered as unemployed the unemployment rate is 8.6%, the presstitute financial media, a collection of professional liars, still reports, in the face of the government's admission, that the unemployment rate as 4.4%. ..."
Jul 12, 2017 | www.unz.com

The "recovery" is more than a mystery. It is a miracle. It exists only on fake news paper.

According to CNN, an unreliable source for sure, Jennifer Tescher, president and CEO of the Center for Financial Services Innovation, reports that about half of Americans report that their living expenses are equal to or exceed their incomes. Among those aged 18 to 25 burdened by student loans, 54% say their debts are equal to or exceed their incomes. This means that half of the US population has ZERO discretionary income. So what is driving the recovery?

Nothing. For half or more of the US population there is no discretionary income there with which to drive the economy.

The older part of the population has no discretionary income either. For a decade there has been essentially zero interest on the savings of the elderly, and if you believe John Williams of shadowstats.com, which I do, the real interest rates have been zero and even negative as inflation is measured in a way designed to prevent Social Security cost of living adjustments.

In other words, the American economy has been living on the shrinkage of the savings and living standards of its population.

Last Friday's employment report is just another lie from the government. The report says that the unemployment rate is 4.4% and that June employment increased by 222,000 jobs. A rosy picture. But as I have just demonstrated, there are no fundamentals to support it. It is just another US government lie like Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, Assad's use of chemical weapons against his own people, Russian invasion of Ukraine, and so forth and so on.

The rosy unemployment picture is totally contrived. The unemployment rate is 4.4% because discouraged workers who have not searched for a job in the past four weeks are not counted as unemployed.

The BLS has a second measure of unemployment, known as U6, which is seldom reported by the presstitute financial media. According to this official measure the US unemployment rate is about double the reported rate.

Why? the U6 rate counts discouraged workers who have been discouraged for less than one year.

John Williams counts the long term discouraged workers (discouraged for more than one year) who formerly (before "reforms") were counted officially. When the long term discouraged are counted, the US unemployment rate is in the 22-23 percent range. This is born out by the clear fact that the labor force participation rate has been falling throughout the alleded "recovery." Normally, labor force participation rates rise during economic recoveries.

It is very easy for the government to report a low jobless rate when the government studiously avoids counting the unemployed.

It is an extraordinary thing that although the US government itself reports that if even a small part of discouraged workers are countered as unemployed the unemployment rate is 8.6%, the presstitute financial media, a collection of professional liars, still reports, in the face of the government's admission, that the unemployment rate as 4.4%.

Now, let's do what I have done month after month year after year. Let's look at the jobs that the BLS alleges are being created. Remember, most of these alleged jobs are the product of the birth/death model that adds by assumption alone about 100,000 jobs per month. In other words, these jobs come out of a model, not from reality.

Where are these reported jobs? They are where they always are in lowly paid domestic services. Health care and social assistance, about half of which is "ambulatory health care services," provided 59,000 jobs. Leisure and hospitality provided 36,000 jobs of which 29,300 consist of waitresses and bartenders. Local government rose by 35,000. Manufacturing, once the backbone of the US economy, provided a measly 1,000 jobs.

As I have emphasized for a decade or two, the US is devolving into a third world workforce where the only employment available is in lowly paid domestic service jobs that cannot be offshored and that do not pay enough to provide an independent existance. This is why 50% of 25-year olds live at home with their parents and why there are more Americans aged 24-34 living with parents than living indepenently.

This is not the economic profile of a "superpower" that the idiot neoconservatives claim the US to be. The American economy that offshoring corporations and financialization have created is incapable of supporting the enormous US debt burden. It is only a matter of time and circumstance.

I doubt that the United States can continue in the ranks of a first world economy. Americans have sat there sucking their thumbs while their "leaders" destroyed them.

(Republished from PaulCraigRoberts.org by permission of author or representative)

[Jun 30, 2017] Robert Shiller The Index I Invented Is At Levels Last Seen In 1929 And 2000

Jun 30, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
With the Shiller CAPE index having surpassed the 30x for the first time since September 2001, its creator, Nobel Laureate and Yale School of Management Economics Professor Robert Shiller is warning investors that they should be cautious about investing in such an "unusual" market.

" the CAPE index that John Campbell and I devised 30 years ago is at unusual highs.

The only time in history going back to 1881 when it has been higher are, A: 1929 and B: 2000."

"We are at a high level, and its concerning."

However, the index has risen to these levels before without precipitating an immediate collapse, Shiller said. Indeed, during the history of the stock market, it has only traded at a richer valuation during one period - June 1997 to September 2001 - as the dotcom farce blew and burst. Historical data for the index is available going back to 1881.

Luckily, Shiller says, US investors at least have the option of investing in foreign markets. There are plenty of venues today that allow clients paying in dollars to invest in foreign markets.

"I think people should be cautious now. We have a high market. That doesn't mean I would avoid it all together. One can invest abroad also, the US has an unusually high stock market compared with other countries, or one can invest in low cape sectors."

"The world looks better and cheaper than we do?," CNBC asked.

"Yea – well the world believes in us, I guess. I think everyone should diversify.

"One should have a little of everything if one hasn't diversified this would be a good time to do that."

The market's fragility is becoming increasingly apparent as vol events become more frequent. In Thursday trading, the S&P 500 was off as much as 1.4% - sending the VIX up 50%+ before the panic-vol sellers stepped in. The FANG stocks, which contributed an outsize portion to this year's rally, are facing their worst week in five months.

GUS100CORRINA -> The_Juggernaut , Jun 29, 2017 10:13 PM

Robert Shiller : "The Index I Invented Is At Levels Last Seen In 1929 And 2000"

My response; As long as CBs have control of the global money supply and its creation, the party can continue indefinitely. We live in a world of relativism. His model is based on absolutes which no longer exist.

I do have one observation about the graph. DEBT structures were much different in previous centuries than they are today. As a result, DEBT would most definitely alter the SHILLER CAPE RATIO graph to the point the today's level would approach or exceed the level during the 2000 time frame.

XXX, Jun 29, 2017 9:36 PM

And the only time since the '50s market cap has been higher relative to gdp was 2000...

http://thesoundingline.com/putting-the-us-stock-market-in-perspective/

squid -> Zorba's idea , Jun 29, 2017 10:23 PM

If they had tried QE in the way we do it today, there would have been civil war.

FDR did do QE, but he used gold. He made everyone sell their gold for 20USD and then devalued the USD in terms of gold to 35USD, a loss of 70% for the poor mugs that sold the government their gold. As such, FRD increased the potential USD supply by 70% overnight.

Same thing. Squid

chosen , Jun 29, 2017 10:13 PM

Shiller predicted the collapse of the 2000 bubble. Most economists can't predict shit. So I respect him for that.

hoytmonger -> chosen , Jun 29, 2017 10:28 PM

Shiller is a shill for the state. https://mises.org/blog/robert-shiller-shilling-state

GooseShtepping Moron -> Gab Timov , Jun 29, 2017 10:48 PM

The Shiller P/E uses a 10-year moving average adjusted for inflation, so it captures market behavior from slightly before 2008 and everything since then. To the extent that QE causes inflation, the Shiller index should reflect some of that too. But the answer to your second question is yes, things certainly could go higher, but this time I don't think they will.

All the Fed-bashers and Yellen-haters up-thread seem to be stuck on shitposter autopilot. They're just repeating the same comments they've been making for the last 9 years. Don't you guys realize that the Fed is tightening now? That Yellen does not have the market's back anymore? Haven't you guys heard that she's unwinding the Fed's balance sheet? It's been in a couple of ZH posts, you know. It's time to start changing your tune about the central banks, because Yellen is serious about tightening and this sucker's coming down.

Dewey Cheatum a... , Jun 29, 2017 11:13 PM

Shiller's index is the closest thing out there that has any semblance of reality. And as usual the Fed is out of balance as a washing machine on spin cycle with a load of wet towels on one side and some socks and a few undies on the other.

Yen Cross , Jun 29, 2017 11:14 PM

Chew on these. Investment Grade Bond I've spent the better part of Q-2 '17 looking at[real] GAAP earnings across all sectors, and then looked at bond issuance [debt financing] and found some astounding divergences.

I think we're going to see a cascade event, when investors realize what is actually happening. CAPex isn't happening. The cost of buy-backs is getting very expensive, and the fraud/ mis-reporting is really troublesome.

[Jun 02, 2017] Why International Financial Crises naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... By Jomo Kwame Sundaram, former UN Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development and Anis Chowdhury, former Professor of Economics, University of Western Sydney, who held various senior United Nations positions in New York and Bangkok.Originally published at Inter Press Service ..."
"... The author doing political economics, and leaving the politics out. Some big elephant in the room, the Cold War. Peace is war by other means. Finance was weaponized by Bretton-Woods et al. ..."
"... Profit and loss occur together, and neither can occur without instability. Think of balancing feather on the end of your finger and getting paid for it. What matters is who is doing the balancing, the securitizing of everything, the privatizing of profits and the socializing of losses. ..."
"... This is close to what Steve Keen was saying, that finance gets ahead of the real economy and there's no way to get the balance back I like the way this is written. There is no system. So matter-of-fact. What is better, the deflation caused by a gold standard or inflation without one? That's an argument that never gets resolved. Because it's not the real question. The thing we should ask is what is better, a sustainable, healthy planet or capital gains? ..."
"... In addition to debt peonage for the masses, over-financialization and monopolies go hand in hand. ..."
"... Why the "subordination of the real economy to finance"? When debt is used as the monetary base, creation of more debt is incentivized. And they're STILL DOING IT. Since the ECB is running out of German debt to buy, now there's a proposal for eurozone structured sovereign debt, so the ECB can buy EVEN MORE debt. Prepare for MOAB (Mother Of All Bubbles). It ends in a supernova. ..."
Jun 02, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Why International Financial Crises? Posted on June 2, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. I have some small quibbles with this otherwise fine post.

The first is that, as Keynes stressed, the problem with past international monetary systems like the gold standard was that there was no punishment for countries that engaged in mercantilist strategies and ran trade surpluses. Countries have strong incentives to do so because they effectively steal demand, and thus jobs, from their trade partners. The US has been willing to accommodate this desire because it saw ways to get geopolitical advantage from this situation. Second is that the US has been explicit about trying to make the world safer for US banks and later investment banks. Among other things, it was seen as a way to promote US multinationals. Believe it or not, globalization was supposed to be a force for peace. See this tweetstorm .

Note also that Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff had a simpler explanation: they looked at 800 years of financial crises and concluded that higher levels of international capital flows lead to more frequent and severe financial crises. And before you blame that on trade deals, keep in mind that the Bank of International Settlements found that the ratio of money movements related to securities transactions has exploded. In the runup to the crisis, international capital flows were over 60 times the level of trade.

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram, former UN Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development and Anis Chowdhury, former Professor of Economics, University of Western Sydney, who held various senior United Nations positions in New York and Bangkok.Originally published at Inter Press Service

International currency and financial crises have become more frequent since the 1990s, and with good reason. But the contributory factors are neither simple nor straightforward. Such financial crises have, in turn, contributed to more frequent economic difficulties for the economies affected, as evident following the 2008-2009 financial crisis and the ensuing Great Recession still evident almost a decade later.

Why International Coordination?

Why is global co-ordination so necessary? There are two main reasons. One big problem before the Second World War was the contractionary macroeconomic consequences of the "gold standard."

In 1944, before the end of the Second World War, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt convened the United Nations Conference on Monetary and Financial Affairs – better known as the Bretton Woods Conference – even before the UN itself was set up the following year in San Francisco. After almost a month, the conference established the framework for the post-war international monetary and financial system, including the creation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), or World Bank.

To be sure, the Bretton Woods system reflected sometimes poor compromises made among the negotiating government representatives. Nevertheless, it served post-war reconstruction and early post-colonial development reasonably well until 1971.

In September of that year, the Nixon Administration in the US – burdened with mounting inflation and unsustainable budget deficits, partly due to the costly Vietnam War – unilaterally withdrew from its core commitment to ensure full US dollar convertibility to gold at the agreed rate. Thus, the unilateral US action did not involve a transition from the Bretton Woods system to any coherent, internationally agreed alternative.

Birth of a "Non-System"

The pre-1971 post-Second World War period has often been referred to as a Golden Age, a period of rapid reconstruction, growth and employment expansion after the devastation of the Second World War. It was also a period of development and structural transformation in many developing countries.

All this came to an end when coordination and multilateralism collapsed following President Nixon's decision to renege on 1944 US commitments at Bretton Woods which became the basis for the post-war international monetary system.

The leading international monetary economist of the post-war period, Robert Triffin, described the post-1971 arrangements as amounting to a "non-system." Now, with the international monetary system essentially the cumulative outcome of various, sometimes contradictory and ad hoc responses to new challenges, the need for coordination is all the more urgent.

A strong case for co-ordination has long been made by the United Nations. For example, soon after the global financial crisis exploded in late 2008, the 2009 mid-year update of the UN's World Economic Situation and Prospects showed how better coordinated and more equitable fiscal stimuli would have benefited all parties – developed countries, developing countries, transition economies and, most of all, the least developed countries.

Anarchy and Fragility

Since the collapse of the Bretton Woods system in 1971, a small handful of currencies – especially the US dollar, the international favourite by far – have been held by others as reserve currencies. This has allowed the issuers of these currencies – especially the US – to run massive trade deficits, contributing to unsustainable global imbalances in savings and consumption.

A second underlying cause of international financial crises has been the ascendance, transformation and hegemony of the financial sector – termed "financialization" – over the past three to four decades. Partly as a consequence, many decision-makers are now often more concerned with short-term financial indicators than other key economic indicators, often presuming that the former reflect the latter despite the lack of such evidence.

A third factor has been growing "financial fragility," partly due to the global financial "non-system" in place since the collapse of the Bretton Woods system. Referring to this "non-system" as an international financial "architecture" is really insulting to architects. The lack of coherence and coordination has been exacerbated by financial deregulation, liberalization and globalization over the past three decades.

Finance Calling the Shots

The growing and spreading subordination of the real economy to finance in recent decades is a fundamental part of the problem. While finance is indeed a very important, if not an essential handmaiden for the functioning of the real economy, the subordination of the real economy to finance has transformed macro-financial dynamics, with unproductive, contractionary, even dangerous consequences.

So, to address the root causes of crises, much better, including more appropriate regulation of the financial system is needed to ensure consistently counter-cyclical macro-financial institutions, instruments and policies, and to subordinate the financial sector to the real economy.

The 2008 financial crisis has catalyzed many debates on these issues – some old, some new – for instance, between Keynesian/Minskyian economists and their opponents; between Anglo-American and continental European worldviews; and between the global North and South. Any sustainable solution will clearly require much better international cooperation and co-ordination.

Hence, almost a decade since the 2008 global financial crisis began, there is no shared political commitment to much needed international financial reforms. It took fifteen years from the beginning of the Great Depression, a world war and Roosevelt's extraordinary leadership before the world was able to reform the international financial system in 1944. But sadly, there is no Roosevelt for our times.

Disturbed Voter , June 2, 2017 at 6:36 am

The author doing political economics, and leaving the politics out. Some big elephant in the room, the Cold War. Peace is war by other means. Finance was weaponized by Bretton-Woods et al.

Coordination is occurring, but only on the Elite level per conspiracy theory. Really important political economic activity has to occur outside of public scrutiny.

epynonymous , June 2, 2017 at 2:36 am

Theoretically, the Paris Climate agreement should be a neutral proposition, with no industrial state standing to lose.

Conservatives always say that money costs jobs, but Keynes says it creates jobs. Like New Jersey demanding full-service gasoline stations. Conservatives are right that they may not be the right jobs, but Keynes says any jobs are better than none. So I suppose Keynes is a liberal.

Of course, your answer to what problem/solution is the re-appearing financial crises. Volatility has obvious winners. The insurance industry is both winner and loser here.

– Should have bought bitcoin

Disturbed Voter , June 2, 2017 at 6:34 am

Profit and loss occur together, and neither can occur without instability. Think of balancing feather on the end of your finger and getting paid for it. What matters is who is doing the balancing, the securitizing of everything, the privatizing of profits and the socializing of losses.

The reason why this is tolerated, is that people don't want to escape wage slavery and debt slavery, they simply want to be successful in the existing system. The alternative is a no-win no-loss system which is called stagnation by economists who are paid to say that.

epynonymous , June 2, 2017 at 1:07 pm

I ultimately concluded that Nixon was actually, unexpectedly, opposing Rockefeller, somehow. I'd say the Trump parallel is obvious, controlled opposition. He's pretty much in Hillary's pocket and if we accept the premise of Kayfabe((it's a story-line for the uninformed, deplorable, etc.)) then maybe he wasn't supposed to win.) Hillary came first, so there's no way she's his alter-ego. Also, there is still no messaging on the Democratic side.

We are off-script. Today, I'm am watching the Whitest Kids You Know sketch group. I'm currently enjoying "Moon Bears"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvjgIxuVdo4

JCC , June 2, 2017 at 8:52 am

Yves, Your "See this tweetstorm" link above is broken. I assume you meant to put in this link???

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/06/matt-stoller-how-the-us-saw-multinationals-as-means-to-prevent-war.html (which is an excellent point by Mr. Stoller, by the way)

Susan the other , June 2, 2017 at 9:35 am

This is close to what Steve Keen was saying, that finance gets ahead of the real economy and there's no way to get the balance back I like the way this is written. There is no system. So matter-of-fact. What is better, the deflation caused by a gold standard or inflation without one? That's an argument that never gets resolved. Because it's not the real question. The thing we should ask is what is better, a sustainable, healthy planet or capital gains?

Keen was talking about the folly of the "great moderation" and the levels of debt in the system killing the real economy and so is this article. It indicates we need an overriding theme – like, say, survival? My first thought is always the planet. Financialization has devastated the planet and caused awful inequality and at the same time has allowed sustainability to become a lost cause because it is essentially too expensive so it becomes an "externality". Fixing the planet is our best solution to our global/financial non-system. I don't care how many ratholes money gets poured down as long as it is put into maintaining the proper ecology of the earth – which must include equality. Sustainability and equality will be the countercyclical we need. And money is just cooperation.

LT , June 2, 2017 at 9:55 am

In addition to debt peonage for the masses, over-financialization and monopolies go hand in hand.

epynonymous , June 2, 2017 at 1:49 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnCCJuOPCbI

The Hinkley Move- A La WKUK

Jim Haygood , June 2, 2017 at 5:06 pm

Why the "subordination of the real economy to finance"? When debt is used as the monetary base, creation of more debt is incentivized. And they're STILL DOING IT. Since the ECB is running out of German debt to buy, now there's a proposal for eurozone structured sovereign debt, so the ECB can buy EVEN MORE debt. Prepare for MOAB (Mother Of All Bubbles). It ends in a supernova.

[May 16, 2017] Mohamed El-Erian: We get signals that the system is under enormous stress

Notable quotes:
"... "The minute you to start talking about the inequality of opportunity, you fuel the politics of anger. The politics of anger have a tendency to produce improbable results. The major risk is that we don't know how much we've strained the underlying system. But what we do know is we are getting signals that suggest it's under enormous stress, which means the probability of either a policy mistake or market accident goes up." ..."
"... Third, pockets of extreme indebtedness must be addressed, a lesson he learned working with the IMF in Latin America in the 1980s. "When you have a debt overhang, it's like a black cloud," he argues. "It sucks oxygen out of the system. You cannot grow of it: whether it's Greece or student loans in the US, you need to deal with debt overhangs." The process of debt forgiveness is hard, he concedes, because some people are unfairly rewarded – "but the alternatives are worse." ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Leading economist and investor believes world leaders, and global capitalism, have reached fork in road between equality and chaos

This is the nub of El-Erian's analysis of why the developed world is approaching a fork in the road. The inequality generated by the current low-growth climate has three elements: inequality of wealth, income and opportunity. The last of the three – manifested in high youth unemployment in many eurozone countries, for example – is the most explosive element.

"The minute you to start talking about the inequality of opportunity, you fuel the politics of anger. The politics of anger have a tendency to produce improbable results. The major risk is that we don't know how much we've strained the underlying system. But what we do know is we are getting signals that suggest it's under enormous stress, which means the probability of either a policy mistake or market accident goes up."

... ... ...

How do we take the high, benign road? El-Erian has a four-point plan.

First, "we need to get back to investing in things that promote economic growth, infrastructure, a more pro-growth tax system for the US, serious labour retooling ... If you're in Europe, youth employment is an issue you've really got to think about very seriously."

Second, countries that can afford to do so must "exploit the fiscal space," meaning borrowing to invest or cutting taxes. He puts the US and Germany unambiguously in that category "and to a certain extent the UK".

Third, pockets of extreme indebtedness must be addressed, a lesson he learned working with the IMF in Latin America in the 1980s. "When you have a debt overhang, it's like a black cloud," he argues. "It sucks oxygen out of the system. You cannot grow of it: whether it's Greece or student loans in the US, you need to deal with debt overhangs." The process of debt forgiveness is hard, he concedes, because some people are unfairly rewarded – "but the alternatives are worse."

Fourth, regional and global governance needs repair. He compares the eurozone to a stool with one-and-a-half legs instead of four. The complete leg is monetary union, the half is banking union. The missing legs are fiscal integration, meaning a common budget, and political harmonisation. No wonder the eurozone is unstable, he says: "You can do three legs, you can't do one and half."

To return to El-Erian's core T-junction analogy, none of the required manoeuvres sound easy. "You don't need a big bang," he replies. "If you want to take the good turn you have to see some progress on some of these elements. If you don't, then we take the other turn." He ascribes equal probabilities – "it's a political judgment."

What's an investor to do? El-Erian says his own approach, which he admits is hard for the average person to copy, is framed like a bar-bell. At one end, he's invested in high-risk startups where you don't need all to succeed. At the other, he's in cash and cash-like investments. In the middle, he'll invest in public markets only tactically.

The bottom line: "I'm risk off."

[Apr 27, 2017] Elizabeth Warren on Big Banks and Their (Cozy Bedmate) Regulators

Notable quotes:
"... "Regulatory failure has been built into the system," Ms. Warren said in our interview. "The regulators routinely hear from the banks. They hear from those who have billions of dollars at stake. But they don't hear from the millions of people across this country who will be deeply affected by the decisions they make." ..."
"... There was a time when everything that went through Washington got measured by whether it created more opportunities for the middle class," Ms. Warren said. "Now, the people with money and power have figured out how to invest millions of dollars in Washington and get rules that yield billions of dollars for themselves. ..."
"... "Government," she added, "increasingly works for those at the top." ..."
Apr 27, 2017 | www.nytimes.com

Wells Fargo's board and management are scheduled to meet shareholders at the company's annual meeting Tuesday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. With the phony account-opening scandal still making headlines, and the company's stock underperforming its peers, it's a good bet the bank's brass will have some explaining to do.

How could such pernicious practices at the bank be allowed for so long? Why didn't the board do more to stop the scheme or the incentive programs that encouraged it? And where, oh where, were the regulators?

Wells Fargo's management has conceded making multiple mistakes over many years; it also says it has learned from them. In a meeting this week with reporters at The New York Times, Timothy J. Sloan, Wells Fargo's chief executive, said the bank had made substantive changes to its structure and culture to ensure that dubious practices won't take hold again.

But there's a deeper explanation for why Wells Fargo's corrosive sales practices came about and continued for years. And it has everything to do with the bank-friendly regulatory regime in Washington and the immense sway that institutions like Wells Fargo have there. This poisonous combination contributes to a sense among giant banking institutions that they answer to no one.

  • "This Fight Is Our Fight" contains juicy but depressing anecdotes about how our most trusted institutions have let us down. It also shows why, years after the financial crisis, big banks are still large, in charge and, basically, unaccountable for their actions.

    "In too many of these organizations, there are rewards for cheating and punishments for calling out the cheaters," Ms. Warren said in an interview Wednesday. "As long as that's the case, the biggest financial institutions will continue to put their customers and the economy at risk."

    Ms. Warren's no-nonsense views are bracing. But they are also informed by a thorough understanding of how dysfunctional Washington now is. This failure has cost Main Street dearly, she said, but has benefited the powerful.

    Wells Fargo got a lot of criticism from Ms. Warren, both in her book and in my interview - and on live television during the Senate Banking Committee hearing on the account-opening mess in September. She was among the harshest cross-examiners encountered by John G. Stumpf, who was Wells Fargo's chief executive at the time. "You should resign," she told him, "and you should be criminally investigated." (Mr. Stumpf retired the next month.)

    This week, Ms. Warren called for the ouster of the company's directors and a criminal inquiry into the bank.

    "Yes, the board should be removed, but that's not enough," she told me. "There still needs to be a criminal investigation. The expertise is in the regulatory agencies, but the power to prosecute lies mostly with the Justice Department, and if they don't have either the energy or the talent - or the backbone - to go after the big banks, then there will never be any real accountability."

    Banks are not the only targets in Ms. Warren's book. Others include Wal-Mart, for its treatment of employees; for-profit education companies, for the way they pile debt on unsuspecting students; the Chamber of Commerce, for battling Main Street; and prestigious think tanks, for their undisclosed conflicts of interest.

    My favorite moments in the book involve the phenomenon of regulatory capture: the pernicious condition in which institutions that are supposed to police the nation's financial behemoths actually come to view them as clients or pals.

    One telling moment took place in 2005, when Ms. Warren, then a Harvard law professor, was invited to address the staff at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a top regulator charged with monitoring the activities of big banks.

    She was thrilled by the invitation, she recalled in the book. After years of tracking various problems consumers experienced with their banks - predatory lending, sky-high interest rates and dubious fees - Ms. Warren felt that, finally, she'd be able to persuade the regulators to crack down.

    Her host for the meeting was Julie L. Williams, then the acting comptroller of the currency. In a conference room filled with economists and bank supervisors, Ms. Warren presented her findings: Banks were tricking and cheating their consumers.

    After the meeting ended and Ms. Williams was escorting her guest to the elevator, she told Ms. Warren that she had made a "compelling case," Ms. Warren writes. When she pushed Ms. Williams to have her agency do something about the dubious practices, the regulator balked.

    "No, we just can't do that," Ms. Williams said, according to the book. "The banks wouldn't like it."

    Ms. Warren was not invited back.

    Ms. Williams left the agency in 2012 and is a managing director at Promontory, a regulatory-compliance consulting firm specializing in the financial services industry. When I asked about her conversation with Ms. Warren, she said she had a different recollection.

    "I told her I agreed with her concerns," Ms. Williams wrote in an email, "but when I said, 'We just can't do that,' I explained that was because the Comptroller's office did not have jurisdiction to adopt rules to ban the practice. I told her this was the Federal Reserve Board's purview."
    Interestingly, though, Ms. Warren's take on regulatory capture at the agency was substantiated in a damning report on its supervision of Wells Fargo, published by a unit of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on Wednesday.

    The report cited a raft of agency oversight breakdowns regarding Wells Fargo. Among them was its failure to follow up on a slew of consumer and employee complaints beginning in early 2010. There was no evidence, the report said, that agency examiners "required the bank to provide an analysis of the risks and controls, or investigated these issues further to identify the root cause and the appropriate supervisory actions needed."

    Neither did the agency document the bank's resolution of whistle-blower complaints, the report said, or conduct in-depth reviews and tests of the bank's controls in this area "at least from 2011 through 2014." (The agency recently removed its top Wells Fargo examiner, Bradley Linskens, from his job running a staff of 60 overseeing the bank.)

    "Regulatory failure has been built into the system," Ms. Warren said in our interview. "The regulators routinely hear from the banks. They hear from those who have billions of dollars at stake. But they don't hear from the millions of people across this country who will be deeply affected by the decisions they make."

    This is why the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau plays such a crucial role, she said. The agency allows consumers to sound off about their financial experiences, and their complaints provide a heat map for regulators to identify and pursue wrongdoing.

    But this setup has also made the bureau a target for evisceration by bank-centric politicians.

    "There was a time when everything that went through Washington got measured by whether it created more opportunities for the middle class," Ms. Warren said. "Now, the people with money and power have figured out how to invest millions of dollars in Washington and get rules that yield billions of dollars for themselves."

    "Government," she added, "increasingly works for those at the top."

  • [Apr 21, 2017] Elizabeth Warren on Big Banks and Their (Cozy Bedmate) Regulators - The New York Times

    Apr 21, 2017 | www.nytimes.com

    Wells Fargo 's board and management are scheduled to meet shareholders at the company's annual meeting Tuesday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. With the phony account-opening scandal still making headlines , and the company's stock underperforming its peers, it's a good bet the bank's brass will have some explaining to do.

    How could such pernicious practices at the bank be allowed for so long? Why didn't the board do more to stop the scheme or the incentive programs that encouraged it? And where, oh where, were the regulators?

    Wells Fargo's management has conceded making multiple mistakes over many years; it also says it has learned from them. In a meeting this week with reporters at The New York Times, Timothy J. Sloan, Wells Fargo's chief executive, said the bank had made substantive changes to its structure and culture to ensure that dubious practices won't take hold again.

    But there's a deeper explanation for why Wells Fargo's corrosive sales practices came about and continued for years. And it has everything to do with the bank-friendly regulatory regime in Washington and the immense sway that institutions like Wells Fargo have there. This poisonous combination contributes to a sense among giant banking institutions that they answer to no one.

    Continue reading the main story Advertisement Continue reading the main story

    The capture of our regulatory and political system by big and powerful corporations is real. And it is a central and disturbing theme in the new book by Senator Elizabeth Warren , Democrat of Massachusetts.

    Advertisement Continue reading the main story

    "This Fight Is Our Fight" contains juicy but depressing anecdotes about how our most trusted institutions have let us down. It also shows why, years after the financial crisis, big banks are still large, in charge and, basically, unaccountable for their actions.

    "In too many of these organizations, there are rewards for cheating and punishments for calling out the cheaters," Ms. Warren said in an interview Wednesday. "As long as that's the case, the biggest financial institutions will continue to put their customers and the economy at risk."

    Ms. Warren's no-nonsense views are bracing. But they are also informed by a thorough understanding of how dysfunctional Washington now is. This failure has cost Main Street dearly, she said, but has benefited the powerful.

    Wells Fargo got a lot of criticism from Ms. Warren, both in her book and in my interview - and on live television during the Senate Banking Committee hearing on the account-opening mess in September. She was among the harshest cross-examiners encountered by John G. Stumpf, who was Wells Fargo's chief executive at the time. "You should resign," she told him , "and you should be criminally investigated." (Mr. Stumpf retired the next month.)

    This week, Ms. Warren called for the ouster of the company's directors and a criminal inquiry into the bank.

    "Yes, the board should be removed, but that's not enough," she told me. "There still needs to be a criminal investigation. The expertise is in the regulatory agencies, but the power to prosecute lies mostly with the Justice Department, and if they don't have either the energy or the talent - or the backbone - to go after the big banks, then there will never be any real accountability."

    Banks are not the only targets in Ms. Warren's book. Others include Wal-Mart, for its treatment of employees; for-profit education companies, for the way they pile debt on unsuspecting students; the Chamber of Commerce, for battling Main Street; and prestigious think tanks, for their undisclosed conflicts of interest.

    My favorite moments in the book involve the phenomenon of regulatory capture: the pernicious condition in which institutions that are supposed to police the nation's financial behemoths actually come to view them as clients or pals.

    Photo

    One telling moment took place in 2005, when Ms. Warren, then a Harvard law professor, was invited to address the staff at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a top regulator charged with monitoring the activities of big banks.

    Advertisement Continue reading the main story

    She was thrilled by the invitation, she recalled in the book. After years of tracking various problems consumers experienced with their banks - predatory lending, sky-high interest rates and dubious fees - Ms. Warren felt that, finally, she'd be able to persuade the regulators to crack down.

    Her host for the meeting was Julie L. Williams, then the acting comptroller of the currency. In a conference room filled with economists and bank supervisors, Ms. Warren presented her findings: Banks were tricking and cheating their consumers.

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    After the meeting ended and Ms. Williams was escorting her guest to the elevator, she told Ms. Warren that she had made a "compelling case," Ms. Warren writes. When she pushed Ms. Williams to have her agency do something about the dubious practices, the regulator balked.

    "No, we just can't do that," Ms. Williams said, according to the book. "The banks wouldn't like it."

    Ms. Warren was not invited back.

    Ms. Williams left the agency in 2012 and is a managing director at Promontory , a regulatory-compliance consulting firm specializing in the financial services industry. When I asked about her conversation with Ms. Warren, she said she had a different recollection.

    "I told her I agreed with her concerns," Ms. Williams wrote in an email, "but when I said, 'We just can't do that,' I explained that was because the Comptroller's office did not have jurisdiction to adopt rules to ban the practice. I told her this was the Federal Reserve Board's purview."

    Interestingly, though, Ms. Warren's take on regulatory capture at the agency was substantiated in a damning report on its supervision of Wells Fargo, published by a unit of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on Wednesday.

    The report cited a raft of agency oversight breakdowns regarding Wells Fargo. Among them was its failure to follow up on a slew of consumer and employee complaints beginning in early 2010. There was no evidence, the report said, that agency examiners "required the bank to provide an analysis of the risks and controls, or investigated these issues further to identify the root cause and the appropriate supervisory actions needed."

    Advertisement Continue reading the main story

    Neither did the agency document the bank's resolution of whistle-blower complaints, the report said, or conduct in-depth reviews and tests of the bank's controls in this area "at least from 2011 through 2014." ( The agency recently removed its top Wells Fargo examiner, Bradley Linskens, from his job running a staff of 60 overseeing the bank.)

    "Regulatory failure has been built into the system," Ms. Warren said in our interview. "The regulators routinely hear from the banks. They hear from those who have billions of dollars at stake. But they don't hear from the millions of people across this country who will be deeply affected by the decisions they make."

    This is why the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau plays such a crucial role, she said. The agency allows consumers to sound off about their financial experiences, and their complaints provide a heat map for regulators to identify and pursue wrongdoing.

    But this setup has also made the bureau a target for evisceration by bank-centric politicians.

    "There was a time when everything that went through Washington got measured by whether it created more opportunities for the middle class," Ms. Warren said. "Now, the people with money and power have figured out how to invest millions of dollars in Washington and get rules that yield billions of dollars for themselves."

    "Government," she added, "increasingly works for those at the top."

    [Apr 19, 2017] Bannons Worldview Dissecting the Message of The Fourth Turning

    This four seasons theory looks to me like some king of amateur dialectics...
    80 years is close to Kondratiev cycles length.
    Notable quotes:
    "... Stephen K. Bannon has great admiration for a provocative but disputed theory of history that argues that the United States is nearing a crisis that could be just as disruptive and catastrophic as the most seminal global turning points of the last 250 years. ..."
    "... This prophecy, which is laid out in a 1997 book, "The Fourth Turning," by two amateur historians, makes the case that world events unfold in predictable cycles of roughly 80 years each that can be divided into four chapters, or turnings: growth, maturation, entropy and destruction. Western societies have experienced the same patterns for centuries, the book argues, and they are as natural and necessary as spring, summer, fall and winter. ..."
    "... In an interview with The Times, Mr. Bannon said, "Everything President Trump is doing - all of it - is to get ahead of or stop any potential crisis." But the magnitude of this crisis - and who is ultimately responsible for it - is an unknown that Mr. Trump can use to his political advantage. This helps explain Mr. Trump's tendency to emphasize crime rates, terrorist attacks and weak border control. ..."
    "... We should shed and simplify the federal government in advance of the Crisis by cutting back sharply on its size and scope but without imperiling its core infrastructure. ..."
    "... One of the authors' major arguments is that Western society - particularly American culture - has denied the significance of cyclical patterns in history in favor of the more palatable and self-serving belief that humans are on an inexorable march toward improvement. They say this allows us to gloss over the flaws in human nature that allow for bad judgment - and bad leaders that drive societies into decline. ..."
    "... The authors envision a return to a more traditional, conservative social order as one outcome of a crisis. They also see the possibility of retribution and punishment for those who resist or refuse to comply with the new expectations for conformity. Mr. Trump's "with us or against us" attitude raises questions about what kind of leader he would be in such a crisis - and what kind of loyalty his administration might demand. ..."
    Apr 19, 2017 | www.nytimes.com

    Stephen K. Bannon has great admiration for a provocative but disputed theory of history that argues that the United States is nearing a crisis that could be just as disruptive and catastrophic as the most seminal global turning points of the last 250 years.

    This prophecy, which is laid out in a 1997 book, "The Fourth Turning," by two amateur historians, makes the case that world events unfold in predictable cycles of roughly 80 years each that can be divided into four chapters, or turnings: growth, maturation, entropy and destruction. Western societies have experienced the same patterns for centuries, the book argues, and they are as natural and necessary as spring, summer, fall and winter.

    Few books have been as central to the worldview of Mr. Bannon, a voracious reader who tends to see politics and policy in terms of their place in the broader arc of history.

    But what does the book tell us about how Mr. Bannon is approaching his job as President Trump's chief strategist and what he sees in the country's future? Here are some excerpts from the book, with explanations from The New York Times.

    'Winter Is Coming,' and We'd Better Be Prepared

    History is seasonal, and winter is coming. The very survival of the nation will feel at stake. Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, one commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II. The risk of catastrophe will be high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule.

    The "Fourth Turning" authors, William Strauss and Neil Howe, started using that phrase before it became a pop culture buzzword courtesy of HBO's "Game of Thrones." But, as the authors point out, some winters are mild. And sometimes they arrive late. The best thing to do, they say, is to prepare for what they wrote will be "America's next rendezvous with destiny."

    In an interview with The Times, Mr. Bannon said, "Everything President Trump is doing - all of it - is to get ahead of or stop any potential crisis." But the magnitude of this crisis - and who is ultimately responsible for it - is an unknown that Mr. Trump can use to his political advantage. This helps explain Mr. Trump's tendency to emphasize crime rates, terrorist attacks and weak border control.

    The 'Deconstruction of the Administrative State,' and Much More, Is Inevitable

    The Fourth Turning will trigger a political upheaval beyond anything Americans could today imagine. New civic authority will have to take root, quickly and firmly - which won't be easy if the discredited rules and rituals of the old regime remain fully in place. We should shed and simplify the federal government in advance of the Crisis by cutting back sharply on its size and scope but without imperiling its core infrastructure.

    The rhythmic, seasonal nature of history that the authors identify foresees an inevitable period of decay and destruction that will tear down existing social and political institutions. Mr. Bannon has famously argued that the overreaching and ineffective federal government - "the administrative state," as he calls it - needs to be dismantled. And Mr. Trump, he said, has just begun the process.

    As Mr. Howe said in an interview with The Times: "There has to be a period in which we tear down everything that is no longer functional. And if we don't do that, it's hard to ever renew anything. Forests need fires, and rivers need floods. These happen for a reason."

    'The American Dream Is Dead'

    James Truslow Adams (wrote) of an 'American Dream' to refer to this civic faith in linear advancement. Time, they suggested, was the natural ally of each successive generation. Thus arose the dogma of an American exceptionalism, the belief that this nation and its people had somehow broken loose from any risk of cyclical regress . Yet the great weakness of linear time is that it obliterates time's recurrence and thus cuts people off from the eternal - whether in nature, in each other, or in ourselves.

    One of the authors' major arguments is that Western society - particularly American culture - has denied the significance of cyclical patterns in history in favor of the more palatable and self-serving belief that humans are on an inexorable march toward improvement. They say this allows us to gloss over the flaws in human nature that allow for bad judgment - and bad leaders that drive societies into decline.

    Though he probably did not intentionally invoke Mr. Strauss and Mr. Howe, Mr. Trump was channeling their thesis when he often said during his campaign, "The American dream is dead." One of the scenarios the book puts forward is one in which leaders who emerge during a crisis can revive and rebuild dead institutions. Mr. Trump clearly saw himself as one of these when he said his goal would be to bring back the American dream.

    Conform, or Else

    In a Fourth Turning, the nation's core will matter more than its diversity. Team, brand, and standard will be new catchwords. Anyone and anything not describable in those terms could be shunted aside - or worse. Do not isolate yourself from community affairs . If you don't want to be misjudged, don't act in a way that might provoke Crisis-era authority to deem you guilty. If you belong to a racial or ethnic minority, brace for a nativist backlash from an assertive (and possibly authoritarian) majority.

    The authors envision a return to a more traditional, conservative social order as one outcome of a crisis. They also see the possibility of retribution and punishment for those who resist or refuse to comply with the new expectations for conformity. Mr. Trump's "with us or against us" attitude raises questions about what kind of leader he would be in such a crisis - and what kind of loyalty his administration might demand.

    [Apr 15, 2017] Statistical Significance Is Overrated - Noah Smith

    Apr 15, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    Gerald Scorse , April 14, 2017 at 06:20 AM
    Statistical Significance Is Overrated - Noah Smith

    "[R]emember that statistical significance is only part of what you need to know. How strong an effect is, and how important it is in the real world, might matter even more."

    I try to learn something new every day. This is it for Friday, April 14, 2017. Thanks Noah.

    Chris G -> Gerald Scorse... , April 14, 2017 at 07:29 AM
    I thought Smith's column was quite good. (I don't write that very often.) "We know what the effect accurately and precisely. It's really small and doesn't matter." is important if/when that's the case. You want to know when you can get away with ignoring something when you're creating your (approximate) model of how the world works. Conversely, "We know what the effect is pretty accurately but not super precisely. We know enough that we can say that it's a big deal but we're still figuring out precisely how big a deal." is also critical information. Knowledge re the former effect may be more statistically significant than the latter while at the same time being less materially significant. That can be a fairly subtle point to a non-technical audience. Heck, it can be a subtle point to technically-oriented audience.
    libezkova said in reply to Chris G ... , April 14, 2017 at 04:11 PM
    I think that requirement of the normal (or Gaussian) distribution that is behind most statistical metrics is the weakest part.

    Normal distribution is the distribution with the maximum entropy for a specified mean and variance. As such it is poorly suited as the distribution of the data reflecting economic or social processes (fat tails problems).

    [Apr 14, 2017] DeLong statement Thus the remedy for the boom is not a higher rate of interest but a lower rate of interest! For that may enable the so-called boom to last. is very questionable, but typical for dyed-in-the-wool neoliberals

    With oversized financial system crashes are inevitable; in a way oversize financial system is enough for producing financial crash: swine will always find the dirt.
    Notable quotes:
    "... Major Malinvestments Do Not Have to Produce Large Depressions by Brad DeLong ..."
    "... I asked the typical macro question: who are the twenty biggest suppliers of securitization products, and who are the twenty biggest buyers. I got a paper, and they were both the same set of institutions. When I was at this meeting--and I really should have been at these meetings earlier--I was talking to the banks, and I said: "It looks to me that since the buyers and the sellers are the same institutions, as a system they have not diversified" ..."
    "... That was one of the things that struck me: that the industry was not aware at the time that while its treasury department was reporting that it bought all these products its credit department was reporting that it had sold off all the risk because they had securitized them. ..."
    "... Indeed, John Maynard Keynes had a good deal to say about this in Notes on the Trade Cycle: ..."
    "... "The preceding analysis may appear to be in conformity with the view of those who hold that over-investment is the characteristic of the boom, that the avoidance of this over-investment is the only possible remedy for the ensuing slump, and that, whilst for the reasons given above the slump cannot be prevented by a low rate of interest, nevertheless the boom can be avoided by a high rate of interest. There is, indeed, force in the argument that a high rate of interest is much more effective against a boom than a low rate of interest against a slump. ..."
    "... It's not malinvestment that played decisive role. It's leverage which gradually increased during boom until it reached the level at which it necessarily caused the crash. Dot-com boom crash came at the levels of leverage far less then subprime. Generally financial firms only get appetite for exorbitant leverage at this time. So there were no Lehman Brother event during dot-com crash. ..."
    "... Also subprime bubble was facilitated by the Fed as a remedy for dot-com bubble. From this point of view it was just the second stage of dot-com bubble. ..."
    "... In reality when finance reached Ponzi stage nothing can prevent the crash and the longer the boom is artificially prolonged be deeper will be the crash and subsequent recession. So Fed efforts to mitigate dot-com bubble played a huge role of making the Great Recession as painful as it was. ..."
    Mar 18, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    Peter K. : March 18, 2017 at 09:29 AM
    http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/02/the-united-states-had-an-immense-boom-in-the-1990s-that-was-in-the-end-financial-disappointing-for-those-who-invested-in-it.html

    Major Malinvestments Do Not Have to Produce Large Depressions by Brad DeLong

    February 22, 2017 at 06:06 AM

    The United States had an immense boom in the 1990s. That was in the end financial disappointing for those who invested in it, but not because the technologies they were investing in did not pan out as technologies, not because the technologies deliver enormous amounts of well-being to humans, but because it turned out to be devil's own task to monetize any portion of the consumer surplus generated by the provision of information goods.

    Huge investments in high tech and communications. Huge amounts of utility generated. Little financial return. $4 trillion of investors' wealth destroyed as assets were revalued. That is something like 8 times the fundamental losses we saw in subprime mortgages and home equity loans made on houses in the desert between Los Angeles and Albuquerque from mid 2006-mid 2008.

    A 1.5%-point rise in the unemployment rate after 2000 is not nothing--it is a bad thing. But it is not a 7%-point rise. And it is not a failure to close any of the gap vis-a-vis the pre-crisis trend of potential thereafter and a dark shadow over economic growth for a generation thereafter. Yet the fundamental shock from dot-com looks to me 8 times as large as the fundamental shock from subprime.

    That tells me that we can deal with such shocks to private sector credit that go wrong: Have them be to equity wealth in the first place, or rapidly transform all the financial asset claims affected into equity on the fly as the crisis hits. Easy to say. Hard to do. We make sure they are diversified. And we do not, not, not, not, not, not let the people in Basle get too clever with their ideas of what reserves and capital structure look like, and allow core reserves to be placed in assets that are not AAA--even if some ratings agency whose revenues depend on pleasing investment banks has labeled them as AAA.

    Axel Weber tells this story:

    "In Davos, I was invited to a group of banks--now Deutsche Bundesbank is frequently mixed up in invitations with Deutsche Bank. I was the only central banker sitting on the panel. It was all banks. It was about securitizations. I asked my people to prepare. I asked the typical macro question: who are the twenty biggest suppliers of securitization products, and who are the twenty biggest buyers. I got a paper, and they were both the same set of institutions. When I was at this meeting--and I really should have been at these meetings earlier--I was talking to the banks, and I said: "It looks to me that since the buyers and the sellers are the same institutions, as a system they have not diversified" .

    That was one of the things that struck me: that the industry was not aware at the time that while its treasury department was reporting that it bought all these products its credit department was reporting that it had sold off all the risk because they had securitized them.

    What was missing--and I think that is important for the view of what could be learned in economics--is that finance and banking was too-much viewed as a microeconomic issue that could be analyzed by writing a lot of books about the details of microeconomic banking. And there was too little systemic views of banking and what the system as a whole would develop like. The whole view of a systemic crisis was just basically locked out of the discussions and textbooks..."

    Eichengreen, Alan Taylor, and Kevin O'Rourke think that, once the run on the shadow banking system was underway, this was the largest shock relative to the size of the market financial markets have ever experienced. We could have avoided this. If we had done our surveillance sufficiently deeper, we would have seen that this might be coming...

    But, even so there was nothing baked in the cake of the housing bubble that in any sense required what the world economy has gone through in the past decade.

    Indeed, John Maynard Keynes had a good deal to say about this in Notes on the Trade Cycle:

    "The preceding analysis may appear to be in conformity with the view of those who hold that over-investment is the characteristic of the boom, that the avoidance of this over-investment is the only possible remedy for the ensuing slump, and that, whilst for the reasons given above the slump cannot be prevented by a low rate of interest, nevertheless the boom can be avoided by a high rate of interest. There is, indeed, force in the argument that a high rate of interest is much more effective against a boom than a low rate of interest against a slump.

    To infer these conclusions from the above would, however, misinterpret my analysis; and would, according to my way of thinking, involve serious error. For the term over-investment is ambiguous. It may refer to investments which are destined to disappoint the expectations which prompted them or for which there is no use in conditions of severe unemployment, or it may indicate a state of affairs where every kind of capital-goods is so abundant that there is no new investment which is expected, even in conditions of full employment, to earn in the course of its life more than its replacement cost. It is only the latter state of affairs which is one of over-investment, strictly speaking, in the sense that any further investment would be a sheer waste of resources.[4] Moreover, even if over-investment in this sense was a normal characteristic of the boom, the remedy would not lie in clapping on a high rate of interest which would probably deter some useful investments and might further diminish the propensity to consume, but in taking drastic steps, by redistributing incomes or otherwise, to stimulate the propensity to consume.

    According to my analysis, however, it is only in the former sense that the boom can be said to be characterised by over-investment. The situation, which I am indicating as typical, is not one in which capital is so abundant that the community as a whole has no reasonable use for any more, but where investment is being made in conditions which are unstable and cannot endure, because it is prompted by expectations which are destined to disappointment.

    It may, of course, be the case - indeed it is likely to be - that the illusions of the boom cause particular types of capital-assets to be produced in such excessive abundance that some part of the output is, on any criterion, a waste of resources; - which sometimes happens, we may add, even when there is no boom. It leads, that is to say, to misdirected investment. But over and above this it is an essential characteristic of the boom that investments which will in fact yield, say, 2 per cent. in conditions of full employment are made in the expectation of a yield of, say, 6 per cent., and are valued accordingly. When the disillusion comes, this expectation is replaced by a contrary "error of pessimism", with the result that the investments, which would in fact yield 2 per cent. in conditions of full employment, are expected to yield less than nothing; and the resulting collapse of new investment then leads to a state of unemployment in which the investments, which would have yielded 2 per cent. in conditions of full employment, in fact yield less than nothing. We reach a condition where there is a shortage of houses, but where nevertheless no one can afford to live in the houses that there are.

    Thus the remedy for the boom is not a higher rate of interest but a lower rate of interest! For that may enable the so-called boom to last. The right remedy for the trade cycle is not to be found in abolishing booms and thus keeping us permanently in a semi-slump; but in abolishing slumps and thus keeping us permanently in a quasi-boom..."

    Peter K. -> Peter K.... , March 18, 2017 at 09:31 AM
    http://jwmason.org/slackwire/links-and-thoughts-for-march-15-2017/

    by J.W. Mason

    Against malinvestment. Brad Delong has, I think, the decisive criticism* of malinvestment theories of the Great Recession and subsequent slow recovery. In terms of the volume of investment based on what turned out to be false expectations, and the subsequent loss of asset value, the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s was much bigger than the housing bubble. So why were the macroeconomic consequences so much milder?..

    * http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/02/the-united-states-had-an-immense-boom-in-the-1990s-that-was-in-the-end-financial-disappointing-for-those-who-invested-in-it.html

    libezkova -> Peter K.... , March 18, 2017 at 07:11 PM
    It's not malinvestment that played decisive role. It's leverage which gradually increased during boom until it reached the level at which it necessarily caused the crash. Dot-com boom crash came at the levels of leverage far less then subprime. Generally financial firms only get appetite for exorbitant leverage at this time. So there were no Lehman Brother event during dot-com crash.

    Also subprime bubble was facilitated by the Fed as a remedy for dot-com bubble. From this point of view it was just the second stage of dot-com bubble.

    DeLong statement

    "Thus the remedy for the boom is not a higher rate of interest but a lower rate of interest! For that may enable the so-called boom to last."

    is very questionable, but typical for dyed-in-the-wool neoliberals. They are completely ahistoric.

    He does not understand Minsky because he can't.

    In reality when finance reached Ponzi stage nothing can prevent the crash and the longer the boom is artificially prolonged be deeper will be the crash and subsequent recession. So Fed efforts to mitigate dot-com bubble played a huge role of making the Great Recession as painful as it was.

    zzz:

    The benefit of liquidity insurance, however, is undermined if the option to withdraw funding is triggered en masse by fear instead of fundamentals. Indeed, the notion that psychological factors are responsible for triggering ?nancial crises has a long tradition in the history in economic thought. Diamond and Dybvig (1983) formalize this idea by demonstrating how simple bank deposit contracts can induce a coordination game exhibiting two equi librium outcomes. In the fundamental equilibrium, all depositors represent their liquidity needs truthfully, so that options are exercised for fundamental economic reasons only. In the bank panic equilibrium, depositors not in need of liquidity pretend that they are. In this case, options are exercised out of a fear that little will be left for latecomers if other depositors are similarly misrepresenting themselves. In this way, the mere expectation of widespread redemptions can become a self-ful?lling prophecy.

    While the notion of a panic-induced crisis has certain appeal, the phe- nomenon is di¢ cult to identify empirically. An alternative and equally plausible view asserts that ?nancial instability and its associated emotional trauma is merely symptomatic of deteriorating fundamentals experienced in the broader economy prior to an economic downturn; see Gorton (1988) and Allen and Gale (1998). While there is merit to this view, it is not inconsistent with the possibility that some crises are panic-driven. In particular, not all ?nancial crises are associated with recessions; see Capiro and Klingebiel (1997).

    Because it is difficult to discriminate empirically between panic-based and fundamental-based explanations of crises, policymakers should hedge their bets when designing ?nancial regulation.1 We think that the proper hedge in this case might be usefully informed by theoretical, as well as empirical, plausibility. Given the current state of theory, a case could be made for adjusting posterior odds in favor of fundamentals over panics. The basis for this assessment rests on the apparent di¢ culty of generating bank panics in model economies, at least for economies that permit an empirically plausible degree of contractual ?exibility.

    To explain what we mean by this, note that the seminal model of Dia- mond and Dybvig (1983) does not exhibit bank panics when banks adopt a simple suspension scheme,2 a device that was actually used? sometimes suuccessfully? to halt runs.

    We pose a theory in which bank panics that can arise easily and naturally whenever short-term debt is used to ?nance investments characterized by even a modest degree of increasing returns to scale. And, while our explanation does not require sequential service, it is certainly not compromised if sequential service is imposed. Our idea is based on the notion that many investments entail some ?xed costs. A large commercial development project, for example, requires a signi?cant outlay in capital and labor services, e.g., cranes and crane operators, that must be paid regardless of how much construction activity is actually taking place on site.

    [Apr 06, 2017] Richmond Fed's Jeffrey Lacker Departs Due to Leak Defenestration as Coverup

    Apr 06, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    From a trading perspective, the big news was at the top: "The minutes will show it will be unlikely that the labor market improvement will be substantial enough to stave off new Treasury purchases into 2013." And in the sixth paragraph it describes how the Fed was likely to vote as early as December to stop the part of its MBS buying designed to counter the bonds being paid off (due to foreclosures, home sales, refis) and buy roughly $45 billion a month of Treasuries instead.

    The amount of granular detail was stunning. For instance:

    The committee will attach a predictive timetable outlining the duration of these purchases The monthly MBS purchases of around $40 billion will continue along side the new program Tomorrow's minutes will reference a staff paper The minutes will show the dovish majority was ready .[to make] open ended MBS and Treasury purchases as early as last month.

    This is so specific that it comes of as if Medley either got its hands on an advance draft of the FOMC minutes or someone read it to her.

    The report also describes, again in depth, how the decision process prior to the September meeting departed from established norms as well as voyeristic tidbits, such as that finalizing the text of the policy recommendations kept staffers up until after midnight.

    Given how extraordinarily revealing this note was, Lacker's departure is unsatisfactory. Specifically:

    Either Lacker lied or the investigators aren't even close to getting to the bottom of this . Lacker has admitted only to taking a call from the Medley analyst, supposedly having her run insider detail by him, and indirectly confirming it by not getting off the phone. From his resignation letter, which was released by law firm McGuireWoods, not the Richmond Fed:

    During that October 2, 2012 discussion, the [Medley] Analyst introduced into the conversation an important non-public detail about one of the policy options considered by participants prior to the meeting. Due to the highly confidential and sensitive nature of this information, I should have declined to comment and perhaps have ended the phone call. Instead, I did not refuse or express my inability to comment and the interview continued. Additionally, after that phone call, I did not, as required by the Information Security Policy, report to any FOMC personnel that the Analyst was in possession of confidential FOMC information. When Medley published a report by the Analyst the following day, October 3, 2012, it contained this important detail about one of the policy options and I realized that my failure to decline comment on the information could have been taken by the Analyst, in the context of the conversation, as an acknowledgment or confirmation of the information.

    This reads like the equivalent of a plea bargain, that Lacker and his lawyers negotiated him to 'fess up to the most minimal breach possible provided he resign.

    Alternatively, if Lacker is being truthful, it means that one or more additional people provided the information to the Medley analyst, Regina Schleiger.

    [Apr 04, 2017] Lack Hawk Down

    Apr 04, 2017 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

    The Richmond Fed's noted rate hawk and serial dissenter Jeffrey Lacker resigned today as a result of an investigation into a leak in 2012 of confidential information to an analyst that sells hard to get information to wealthy subscribers.

    The guest commentators, talking heads, and spokesmodels were attributing this resignation, or faux pas if you will, to an inadvertent slip by one of their own who is burdened with managing the finances of the US.

    They kept mentioning that they do not wish this incident to diminish the public's confidence in the FED. I guess fomenting serial asset bubbles and enabling historic financial inequality through hare-brained policies is not enough. LOL

    [Apr 04, 2017] Richmond Fed president, Jeff Lacker Quits Today After Improper Disclosure of QE to analyst at firm selling research to hedge funds

    Apr 04, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    BenIsNotYoda April 04, 2017 at 10:25 AM
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-04/fed-s-lacker-quits-today-after-improper-disclosure-ny-times

    Fed's Lacker Quits Today After Improper Disclosure: NY Times
    Richmond Fed president, Jeff Lacker, says he is resigning effective today after improperly disclosing confidential Fed information, NY Times said in tweet.

    Fed President involved in disclosing future QE to analyst at firm selling research to hedge funds.

    In other places, this is called insider information. At the Fed? I am shocked there is gambling at this establishment.

    We need to clean house at the Fed. Starting at the top.

    BenIsNotYoda , April 04, 2017 at 10:41 AM
    Statement Of Dr. Jeffrey Lacker

    During the past 13 years it has been my privilege to serve as President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. It has also been an honor to contribute to the development of our nation's monetary policy as a member of the Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee ("FOMC").

    While transparency of the monetary policy process is important, equally important are the confidentiality policies that protect the internal deliberations of the FOMC and ensure the integrity of our financial markets. The Federal Reserve's confidentiality policies seek to guide participants in maintaining the balance between transparency and confidentiality. The FOMC has had in place for many years two specific policies relating to confidentiality. the FOMC Policy on External Communications of Committee Participants (the "External Communications Policy-) and the Program for Security of FOMC Information (the "Information Security Policy").

    In 2012, my conduct was inconsistent with those important confidentiality policies. Specifically, on October 2, 2012, I spoke by phone with an analyst ("the Analyst") concerning the September 2012 meeting of the FOMC. The Analyst authors reports on Federal Reserve matters on behalf of Medley Global Advisors ("Medley'). Medley publishes macro-economic policy intelligence for institutions such as hedge funds and asset managers and is owned by the Financial Times Limited.

    During that October 2, 2012 discussion, the Analyst introduced into the conversation an important non-public detail about one of the policy options considered by participants prior to the meeting. Due to the highly confidential and sensitive nature of this information, I should have declined to comment and perhaps have ended the phone call. Instead, I did not refuse or express my inability to comment and the interview continued. Additionally, after that phone call I did not, as required by the Information Security Policy, report to any FOMC personnel that the Analyst was in possession of confidential FOMC information. When Medley published a report by the Analyst the following day, October 3, 2012, it contained this important detail about one of the policy options and I realized that my failure to decline comment on the information could have been taken by the Analyst, in the context of the conversation, as an acknowledgment or confirmation of the information.

    I deeply regret the role I may have played in confirming this confidential information and in its dissemination to Medley's subscribers. In this episode, as in all of my communications with analysts, journalists and the public, it was never my intention to reveal confidential information. I further acknowledge that through this and other conversations with the Analyst, I may have contravened the External Communications Policy, which prohibits providing any profit-making person or organization with a prestige advantage over its competitors.

    Following these events, I was interviewed on December 10, 2012, as part of an internal review conducted by the General Counsel of the FOMC. In advance of that interview, on December 6, 2012, I provided written responses to a questionnaire issued by the General Counsel seeking, among other things, all relevant information regarding my communications with the Analyst. Althoug it was my intention to cooperate fully with the internal review, I regret that I did not disclose to the General Counsel, either in my December 6, 2012 questionnaire or the December 10, 2012 interview, that the Analyst was in possession of confidential information during my conversation with her on October 2,2012.

    In 2015, I was interviewed again as part of a separate investigation conducted by the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, the Office of the Inspector General of the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. In this subsequent 2015 interview with law enforcement officials, I did disclose that the Analyst was in possession of confidential information during my October 2. 2012 conversation with her.

    I apologize to my colleagues and to the public I have been privileged to serve. I have always strived to maintain the appropriate balance between transparency and confidentiality, but I regret that in this instance I crossed the line to confirming information that should have remained confidential. I previously announced my intention to retire as President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in October 2017, and in light of these matters I have decided to make my departure from the Federal Reserve effective today.

    libezkova , April 04, 2017 at 11:26 AM
    "Fed President involved in disclosing future QE to analyst at firm selling research to hedge funds."

    "I am shocked there is gambling at this establishment."

    That's good -- Thank you --

    Now let me wear Anne hat :-). The proper quote is "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here! "

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034583/quotes?ref_=tt_ql_trv_4

    == quote ==
    Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?

    Captain Renault:
    I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
    [a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]

    Croupier: Your winnings, sir.

    Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.

    [aloud]

    Captain Renault: Everybody out at once!

    [Apr 03, 2017] Why Has Italys Banking Crisis Gone Off the Radar?

    Notable quotes:
    "... By Don Quijones of Spain & Mexico, editor at Wolf Street. Originally published at Wolf Street ..."
    "... across the wire ..."
    "... raised eyebrows ..."
    Apr 03, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    Posted on March 31, 2017 by Yves Smith By Don Quijones of Spain & Mexico, editor at Wolf Street. Originally published at Wolf Street

    For a country that is on the brink of a gargantuan public bailout of its toxic-loan riddled banking sector, or failing that, a full-blown financial crisis that could bring down the European financial system, things are eerily quiet in Italy these days. It's almost as if the more serious the crisis gets, the less we hear about it - otherwise, investors and voters might get spooked. And elections are coming up.

    But an article published in the financial section of Italian daily Il Sole lays out just how serious the situation has become. According to new research by Italian investment bank Mediobanca, 114 of the close to 500 banks in Italy have "Texas Ratios" of over 100%. The Texas Ratio, or TR, is calculated by dividing the total value of a bank's non-performing loans by its tangible book value plus reserves - or as American money manager Steve Eisman put it, "all the bad stuff divided by the money you have to pay for all the bad stuff."

    If the TR is over 100%, the bank doesn't have enough money "pay for all the bad stuff." Hence, banks tend to fail when the ratio surpasses 100%. In Italy there are 114 of them. Of them, 24 have ratios of over 200%.

    Granted, many of the banks in question are small local or regional savings banks with tens or hundreds of millions of euros in assets. These are not systemically important institutions and can be resolved without causing disturbances to the broader system. But the list also includes many of Italy's biggest banks which certainly are systemically important to Italy, some of which have Texas Ratios of over 200%. Top of the list, predictably, is Monte dei Paschi di Siena, with €169 billion in assets and a TR of 269%.

    Next up is Veneto Banca, with €33 billion in assets and a TR of 239%. This is the bank that, together with Banco Popolare di Vicenza (assets: €39 billion, TR: 210%), was supposed to have been saved last year by an intervention from government-sponsored, privately funded bank bailout fund Atlante, but which now urgently requires more public funds. Their combined assets place them seventh on the list of Italy's largest banks.

    Some experts, including the U.S. bank hired last year to save MPS, JP Morgan Chase, have warned that Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca will not be eligible for a bailout since they are not regarded as systemically important enough. This prompted investors to remove funds from the banks, further exacerbating their financial woes. According to sources in Rome, the two banks' failure would send shock waves through the wider Italian financial industry.

    There are other major Italian banks with Texas Ratios well in excess of 100%. They include:

    In sum, almost all of Italy's largest banking groups, with the exception of Unicredit, Intesa Sao Paolo and Mediobanca itself, have Texas Ratios well in excess of 100%.

    But, as Eisman recently pointed out, the two largest banks, Unicredit and Intesa Sanpaolo, have TRs of over 90%. As long as the other banks continue to languish in their current zombified state, they will continue to drag down the two bigger banks. And if either Unicredit or Intesa begin to wobble, the bets are off.

    To stay on the right side of the solvency threshold, Unicredit has already had to raise €13 billion of new capital this year and last week it took advantage of the ECB's latest splurge of charitable lending (formally known as TLTRO II) to borrow €24 billion of free money. But as long as the financial health of the banks all around it continues to deteriorate, staying upright is going to be a tough order.

    This is where things get complicated. In order to qualify for public assistance, banks must be solvent. Presumably, that would automatically disqualify any bank with a Texas Ratio of over 150%, which includes MPS, Banco Popolare, Popolare di Vicenza, Veneto Banca, Banca Carige and Unipol Banca. The bailout must also comply with current EU regulations including the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive of Jan 1, 2016, which specifically mandates that before public funds are injected into a bank, shareholders and creditors must be bailed in for a minimum amount of 8% of total liabilities, as famously happened in the rescue of Cyprus' banking system in 2013.

    The Italian government knows that this approach could end up wiping out retail investors (otherwise known as voters) who were missold, in many cases fraudulently, subordinated bonds by cash-hungry banks in the wake of the last crisis, in turn wiping out the government's votes. To avoid such an outcome, the government has proposed compensating those retail bondholders with public funds, just as the Spanish government did with the holders of preferente bonds. Which, of course, is in direct contravention of EU laws.

    So far, the European Commission has stayed silent on the issue, presumably in the hope that the resolution of Italy's financial sector can be held off until at least after the French elections in late April, if not the German elections in September. Then, if those elections go Brussels' way, a continent-wide taxpayer funded bailout of banks' NPLs can be unleashed, as already requested by ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio and European Banking Authority President Andrea Enria.

    With no guarantee that Italy's NPL-infested banks can hold out that long, it's a dangerous waiting-and-hoping game. In the meantime, shhhhhhhh

    0 0 63 3 1 This entry was posted in Banana republic , Banking industry , Doomsday scenarios , Europe , Guest Post , Politics , Regulations and regulators on March 31, 2017 by Yves Smith .
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    Subscribe to Post Comments 28 comments jsn , March 31, 2017 at 10:05 am

    Texas Ratio!

    I love it, hadn't heard that before. Natural outgrowth of the S&L bubble I figure.

    What better state (my home state that I love/hate) to name a Bullshit to Bona Fide ratio for!

    craazyman , March 31, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    I wanna tell you about Texas Ratios and he Big Cheat
    It comes out of the Italian swamps
    cool and slow without any precision
    like a fettuncini marinara recipe that's hard to master

    Some call it heavenly in its brilliance
    others mean and rueful of the Prussian dream
    Don't you love the friends gathered together for this Italian graft
    They have schemed up pyramids in honor of their escaping
    This is the land where the euro died.

    (Haygood knows what we're talkin about . . . )

    AbateMagicThinking but Not money , March 31, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    Seems no one else spotted, or can be bothered to comment on your allusion to The Doors and The Wasp. I for one, cannot let it pass.

    Reminds me that I used to to think it was:

    Cows piss down my window like the waves down on the beach.

    Happy mondegreens!

    Dr Duh , March 31, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Great article. A couple questions

    1. What is the overall Texas Ratio for the Italian banking system?
    2. What is the mechanism connecting a 'bad' Texas Ratio to failure in this case? Are they funding long term liabilities with short term borrowing like Lehman and hence are at