2014: Why Housing Will Crash Again – But For Different Reasons Than Last Time

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog, Institutionalizing the speculative excesses that inflated the previous housing bubble has fed magical thinking and fostered illusions of phantom wealth and security. The global housing market has been dominated by magical thinking for the past 15 years. The magical thinking can be boiled down to this: A person who buys a house for $50,000 will be able to sell the same house for $150,000 a few years later without adding any real-world value. The buyer will be able to sell the house for $300,000 a few years later without adding any real-world value. The buyer will be able to sell the house for $600,000 a few years later without adding any real-world value. And so on, decade after decade and generation after generation: a house should magically accumulate enormous capital (home equity) without the owner having to do anything but pay the mortgage for […] Read More

2014: “Feeding The Homeless” Is A Crime In Increasingly More US Cities

Submitted by Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog, Have you ever given food to a homeless person?  Well, if you do it again in the future it might be a criminal act depending on where you live.  Right now, there are dozens of major U.S. cities that have already passed laws against feeding the homeless.  As you will read about below, in some areas of the country you can actually be fined hundreds of dollars for just trying to give food to a hungry person.  I know that sounds absolutely insane, but this is what America is turning into.  Communities all over the country are attempting to “clean up the streets” by making it virtually illegal to either be homeless or to help those that are homeless.  Instead of spending more money on programs to assist the homeless, local governments are bulldozing tent cities and giving homeless people […] Read More

2014: 17 Facts To Show To Anyone That Believes That The U.S. Economy Is Just Fine

No, the economy is most definitely not “recovering”.  Despite what you may hear from the politicians and from the mainstream media, the truth is that the U.S. economy is in far worse shape than it was prior to the last recession.  In fact, we are still pretty much where we were at when the last recession finally ended.  When the financial crisis of 2008 struck, it took us down to a much lower level economically.  Thankfully, things have at least stabilized at this much lower level. For example, the percentage of working-age Americans that are employed has stayed remarkably flat for the past four years.  We should be grateful that things have not continued to get even worse.  It is almost as if someone has hit the “pause button” on the U.S. economy.  But things are definitely not getting better, and there are a whole host of signs that […] Read More

2014: Epidemic Of Hunger: New Report Says 49 Million Americans Are Dealing With Food Insecurity

If the economy really is “getting better”, then why are nearly 50 million Americans dealing with food insecurity?  In 1854, Henry David Thoreau observed that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”.  The same could be said of our time.  In America today, most people are quietly scratching and clawing their way from month to month.  Nine of the top ten occupations in the U.S. pay an average wage of less than $35,000 a year, but those that actually are working are better off than the millions upon millions of Americans that can’t find jobs.  The level of employment in this nation has remained fairly level since the end of the last recession, and median household income has gone down for five years in a row.  Meanwhile, our bills just keep going up and the cost of food is starting to rise at a very frightening pace.  […] Read More

2014: David Stockman’s “Born Again Jobs Scam”: The Ugly Truth Behind “Jobs Friday”

Submitted by David Stockman via his Contra Corner blog, The mainstream recovery narrative has an astounding “recency bias”. According to all the CNBC talking heads, the 192,000 NFP jobs gain reported on Friday constituted another “strong” report card. Well, let’s see. Approximately 75 months ago (December 2007) at the cyclical peak before the so-called Great Recession, the BLS reported 138.4 million NFP jobs. When the hosanna chorus broke into song last Friday, the reported figure was 137.9 million NFP jobs. By the lights of old-fashioned subtraction, therefore, we are still 500k jobs short—notwithstanding $3.5 trillion of money printing in the interim. The truth is, all the ballyhooed “new jobs” celebrated on bubblevision month-after-month have actually been “born again” jobs. That is, jobs which were created during the Fed’s 2002-2007 bubble inflation; lost in the aftermath of the September 2008 meltdown; and then “recovered” during the renewed bubble inflation now underway. Stated differently, back when the NFP jobs count first clocked in at 137.9 million in the […] Read More

2014: The Market Is Not The Economy And The Winner-Takes-All Society

You hear that old saw that “the market is not the economy,” a lot these days, and for good reason. As ConvergEx’s Nick Colas notes, the S&P 500 breaks to record highs – but U.S. labor markets remain sluggish; investor portfolios do well – but over 47 million Americans (more than 15% of the population) are still in U.S. food stamp program – the same as August 2012. The important question now is: “Is the market TOO different from the economy?” Record corporate profits – the reason for all-time highs in U.S. equities – come with little hiring or wage gains.  The hottest growth stories are business models with lots of customers but very few employees. The recently purchased WhatsApp – for $19 billion – has 55 employees. Investment payoffs – and increasingly social outcomes as well – are technology-enabled, asymmetric and sporadic. How soon before we reach a […] Read More