Well, yes, maybe so, but…..

The next downturn could rival the Great Depression and wipe $10 trillion off US household assets

The but being, US household assets are about $100 trillion. A 10% decline is rather less scary really. Further, $10 trillion is about how much they’ve gone up in value in 18 months or so (about $2 trillion a quarter recently).

Such a decline ain’t nice but…..

The world’s major economies are skating on dangerously thin ice and lack the fiscal, monetary, and emergency tools to fight the next downturn.

A roster of top crisis veterans fear an even more intractable slump than the Lehman recession when the current ageing expansion rolls over. The implications for liberal democracy are sobering.

“We have no ability to turn the economy around,” said Martin Feldstein, President of the US National Bureau of Economic Research.

“When the next recession comes, it is going to be deeper and last longer than in the past. We don’t have any strategy to deal with it,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

Well, according to the best research (Milton Friedman) what caused the Depression was bad government policy. So, as long as we don’t repeat FDR’s mistakes we’ll not have another one. Sure, we might not have the stuff to fight the next recession but that’s a different matter, that being why we call one thing a recession, the other a depression.

Oh, and yes, a $10 trillion hit to household assets would cause a recession, the wealth effect would take care of that.But then the business cycle will always be with us.

Teaching banned in private shools

Private primary schools have been threatened with a Grammar school exam ban after they were caught “coaching” children for the Eleven Plus.

Schools in Kent are not allowed to teach pupils how to pass the Grammar school entry exam on the basis that this may give some children an unfair advantage over their peers.

Guess they’ll all have to stop sitting mock GSCEs as well then.

Lucky we’re in a capitalist society then really

You can make an argument that the Federal Reserve is entirely responsible for the fracking boom,” one private-equity titan told me. That view is echoed by Amir Azar, a fellow at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. “The real catalyst of the shale revolution was the 2008 financial crisis and the era of unprecedentedly low interest rates it ushered in,” he wrote in a recent report. Another investor put it this way: “If companies were forced to live within the cash flow they produce, US oil would not be a factor in the rest of the world, and would have grown at a quarter to half the rate that it has.”

That being what capitalism is, the provision of capital to a project by outsiders to that project.

Another Guardian number stacker

An extract from a new book acomin’:

Why I came out as being poor

How poor is that then?

I stared potential landlords down with a seven-year-old standing next to me and a baby on my hip, asking to apply for a tiny studio apartment I could barely afford……while I simultaneously worked as a maid, juggling 10 clients between going to class to put myself through college. ……

Yes, a single mother of two also going to college says it’s difficult.

Hmm, yes, suppose so. We never are quite told what her actual budget is after Snap, Section 8 (maybe?) EITC, childcare credits, various church help an so on. But I’ll guarantee you it’ll be well into the top 20% of global incomes, yea even adjusting for local prices.

This is rather fun though:

Eventually, I made my way out of poverty.

After I sank deep into debt to get a bachelor’s degree in English, I stubbornly held myself accountable to it. Maybe because I felt obtaining a higher education was a privilege I couldn’t afford, and that the debt affected not only my future, but my daughters’.

This hindsight made me work harder than ever, late into the night, from home and with a baby sleeping on my lap. Gone were the days of cleaning houses. I put my degree to as much work as possible as a freelance writer. Even if it meant filling content for a local events calendar, technically I was getting paid to write words. These gigs gradually grew into ones with paychecks bigger than I’d had in years. I carried myself like a professional, even stood a little taller.

The thought that you need and English degree to do hack* journalism. Sigh.

*Note that this is the English, not American, meaning of “hack.” Competent, able to turn a hand to most types of pieces, putting in copy to length, subject and on time. Not the American meaning of lying for money.

A very good question along with the answer

How many zeros can you fit on a currency note? Yugoslavia managed 11 zeros, but the Zimbabwe went to 14 zeros. I don’t know how many zeros Venezuela has on its currency these days.

Well, they’ve just lopped 5 zeroes off the numbers. So, today, no zeroes on the low value notes.

Tomorrow though, and next week?

One of those time dependent answers……

Drivel, just drivel

It’ll take more than shopping to save our debt-addled economy
Chris Bickerton
Britain’s growth model is unsustainable, and has created scandalous levels of inequality – we should rely more on production, not consumption

Eh?

If the model’s broken, what’s the alternative? The UK needs to rebalance its growth, relying less on consumption and more on production.

Everything that is produced is consumed. All consumption is produced.

What is this man talking about?

Chris Bickerton teaches politics at Cambridge University.

Ahh, he’s talking about his own ignorance, isn’t he?

What does this even mean?

Launching Labour’s campaign to boost manufacturing after Brexit, he is expected to say: “Our exporters should be able to take proper advantage of the one benefit to them that Brexit has already brought, a more competitive pound.

“After the EU referendum result, the pound became more competitive and that should have helped our exporters. But they are being sold out by a lack of a Conservative government industrial plan, which has left our economy far too reliant on imports.”

Jezz Corbyn.

You just can’t get the servants these days you know

A Kuwaiti social media star ignited a backlash after criticising a law allowing domestic workers one day off a week, prompting cosmetic brands to sever ties with her.

Sondos Alqattan, a make-up artist, had uploaded a video on social media earlier this month bemoaning new regulations that allow domestic workers a day off every week and the right to keep their passports, which employees often confiscate.

“How can you have a servant at home who has her passport with her?,” Ms Alqattan asked indignantly in a video posted on Instagram to her 2.3 million followers.

“She will have a day off a week, and work six days a week. And of course you won’t know happens on these days, while her passport is with her.”

Imagine that, eh? An entire day off a week?

Does anyone actually believe this nonsense?

For most people in the West, wages and living standards have stagnated for decades. If you were a factory worker in the north of England in 1970, for example, odds are good that your children will earn less in real terms than you did 50 years ago. The same is true for workers elsewhere in Europe and in the United States, an economic reality that is partly responsible for the rise of populist politics.

Seriously, real wages – that is, living standards – are the same now a for a factory worker in 1970?

Does anyone actually believe this shit?

Not what he does but how he does it

Mexico’s leftist Lopez Obrador wins largest landslide in country’s history

Kill off corruption, get that economy motoring, raise the incomes of pensioners…..well, that’s all fine.

The question is, how do you do it? The Venezuela method? Or the free market one?

For example, the oil industry. Re-establish the state monopoly? That’s going to lower corruption, isn’t it? Or how about let anyone play then tax the snot out of the resource rents?

The aims – largely at least – are fine. It’s the methods which matter.

Well, yes and no really

I think it is just as well for the City and the world of high finance that I lost all interest in matters fiscal after completing an A-level in economics.

Supply and demand, the multiplier effect, macro and micro economics, bull and bear markets. Basically understood. Fast forward from long ago last century to the present day… bond yields, derivatives, interim permissions, net FDI balances. Nope, not a clue.

Thus one goes to the wise men of economic interpretation, in hope of light being shed, and what do you find? A man I regularly turn to for elucidation last week had a fit of the nonsenses. Digesting Donald Trump’s trade threats, he came up with: “Deficits and surpluses must necessarily sum to zero.” A few paragraphs later, he was back on familiar ground: “In other words, the two effects will net to zero.” I’m not saying that this is complete tosh, but it certainly smells rather off.

Off? It’s a statement of the bleedin’ obvious. As Bootle says:

This isn’t exactly the justification that president Trump gives for his actions, nor indeed does it reflect what he seems to understand about international trade.

He seems to believe that the trade balance is like a company’s profit statement. Exports are good and imports are bad. Accordingly, if your exports exceed your imports then you are “winning” and if your imports exceed your exports then you are “losing”. Moreover, he seems to believe that this is true even on a bilateral basis. This is the economics of the madhouse. Since deficits and surpluses must necessarily sum to zero, the implication of Trump’s economic philosophy is that international trade brings no net benefit for the world as a whole.

Quite clearly true, no?

Dear God

This was a mistake. When the economy goes into a downturn, it is necessary for the government to increase spending and run a deficit. If it does not, as our government did not after the financial crisis,

The UK did not run a deficit after the crash?

Whut? No, whut?

Statistics, statistics

The average New Yorker now works harder than ever, for less and less. Poverty in the city has lessened somewhat in the past few years, but in 2016 the official poverty rate was still 19.5 percent, or nearly one in every five New Yorkers. When the “near poverty” rate—those making up to $47,634 a year for a family of four—is thrown in, it means that almost half the city is living what has become a marginal existence, just one paycheck away from disaster.

“Near Poverty” is defined as twice the poverty level.

As it happens, the poverty level is about 50% of median incomes.

So, our intrepid reporter has just discovered that around 50% of people are on less than median income.

Well done, well done.

Perhaps Say’s Law doesn’t hold?

Britain’s manufacturers cranked up in May, raising hopes that the economy has escaped the slow patch in the opening months of the year.

Last month factory output grew at the strongest pace so far this year. The relevant segment of IHS Markit’s purchasing managers’ index – an influential private sector survey – hit 56.9 in May, up from 55.4 in April and well above the 50-level which denotes no change on the month.

However, domestic demand remains sluggish and much of the extra output has gone into rebuilding stockpiles of goods, rather than being sold to customers.

That is, supply doesn’t create its own demand?

There is something here though. Back in that Great Moderation people were wondering why it was moderate? One point being those stock levels. JIT and all that meant that stock levels across the economy were very much lower than they used to be. We just didn’t need to have 2 or 3 or 6 month’s supply of crud in order to keep ticking over. And stock levels varying was one of the great drivers of both boom and bust.

So, lower stock levels in general and booms and busts would be less extreme – moderation.

Note that it took a financial crisis, not the more usual boom and bust of the economy in general, to have a recession.

Interesting reading of the UK economy

One of the central motivations for austerity was the idea that our deficits and debts were so high as to inspire a lack of confidence in the economy. The narrative was always that we needed austerity to ‘bring the public finances under control’ – even as the government simultaneously cut corporation tax, inheritance tax and income tax for the highest earners. By making sharp public sector cuts, the government would restore confidence and the UK would move towards a swift recovery.

This is from the Progressive Economy Forum.

There are a couple of problems with it.

1) There were no public sector spending cuts. Spending is up in cash terms, in real terms and is still higher in %ge of GDP terms than it was in 2007. What sodding cuts?

2) The stimulative effect is the size of the deficit, not the amount of spending. Cutting taxes to increase the deficit is stimulatory itself.

Not a good evidentiary base to start from, is it?

Simon Wren Lewis has been klnown to insist that even so there has been austerity. His definition being any amount of spending less than the amount which would have entirely prevented the recession.

Whut?

Alternatively, researchers have shown that health spending is one of the best ways to stimulate the economy, so the government could opt against tax increases in the short term and instead let healthcare spending act as a fiscal stimulus, at least until purchasing power had increased.

Seriously? Who the hell has claimed that?