Category Archives: Debt

Is Netflix being run by the United States Congress? by Simon Black

Fiscally, Netflix runs a lot like a government, going deeper in debt every day. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

Shares of Netflix soared today on news the company lost a record $859 million in cash in the third quarter.

Why are investors applauding this egregious destruction of capital?

Well, it’s because investors only look at one number when Netflix reports earnings – subscriber growth.

And on that metric, the company outperformed, adding 6.96 million subscribers, bringing the global total to more than 137 million.

At 137 million subscribers, Netflix has about 2% of the global population as customers.

There are still around 90 million traditional TV accounts in the US (and about 36% of those also have a streaming account).

So there’s definitely room for Netflix to grow in the US and abroad (where the majority of growth is coming today).

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How ‘Democratic Socialism’ Wreaked Havoc On My Native Sweden, by Anders Ingemarson

Scandinavian “democratic socialism” is not what it’s cracked up to be by those desperately casting around for some acceptable form of socialism. From Anders Ingemarson at thefederalist.com:

Sweden’s experiment with ‘democratic socialism’ resulted in four decades of lost progress. Let’s learn from their mistake, not emulate it.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s July 26 Democratic primary win over stalwart Rep. Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th congressional district has given “democratic socialism” a new lease on life. The progressive poster grandma and grandpa — Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — have been blessed with a millennial poster grandchild, and mainstream media and leftists across the country are experiencing unseasonal spring fever as we approach the fall election.

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Robert Gore Said That? 10/10/18

On Septemeber 30, at Murphy, North Carolina, I addressed the Appalachian Network PATCON, a gathering of very bright people on the cutting edge of preparation for the coming catastrophe. The topic was: “How to Survive an Economic Collapse.”

“Concerned” Bank of England Raises Alarm about Growth of High-Risk Loans, by Don Quijones

The market for high-risk loans that have little or no protections for creditors has ballooned. From Don Quijones at wolfstreet.com:

The power of Collateralized  Loan Obligations.

“The global leveraged loan market is larger than – and growing as quickly as – the US subprime mortgage market was in 2006,” said the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee in the statement from its latest meeting. And the committee is “concerned by the rapid growth of leveraged lending.”

In terms of magnitude, the US and EU “leveraged loan” market combined now exceeds $1.3 trillion, up from $50 billion at the turn of the century.

A “leveraged loan” is a loan that is extended to junk-rated (BB+ or lower), over-indebted companies. These loans are considered too risky for banks to keep on their books. Instead, banks sell them to loan funds, or they package them into highly rated Collateralized Loan Obligations (CLOs) and sell them to CLO funds and other institutional investors. In the UK, over £38 billion ($50 billion) of these loans were issued in 2017 — more double the amount in 2016 — and a further £30 billion ($39 billion) has already been issued in 2018.

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The Distortions of Doom Part 2: The Fatal Flaws of Reserve Currencies, by Charles Hugh Smith

Why reserve currencies come and go. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwomind.com:

Part 1

The way forward is to replace the entire system of reserve currencies with a transparent free-for-all of all kinds of currencies.
Over the years, I’ve endeavored to illuminate the arcane dynamics of global currencies by discussing Triffin’s Paradox, which explains the conflicting dual roles of national currencies that also act as global reserve currencies, i.e. currencies that other nations use for global payments, loans and foreign exchange reserves.
The four currencies that are considered global are the US dollar (USD), the euro, the Japanese yen and China’s RMB (yuan). The percentage of use in each of the three categories of demand for the reserve currencies–payments, loans and foreign exchange reserves–are displayed below.
Many observers don’t seem to grasp that demand for reserve currencies extend beyond payments. Many of those heralding the demise of the USD as a reserve currency note the rise of alternative payment platforms as evidence of the USD’s impending collapse.
But it’s not so simple. Currencies are also in demand because loans were denominated in that currency, so interest and principal payments must also be paid in that currency. There is also demand for the currency to be held as foreign exchange reserves–the equivalent of cash to settle trade imbalances and back the domestic currency.
Notice the minor role played by the yen and yuan, despite the size of the economies of Japan and China. There’s a reason for this that’s at the core of Triffin’s Paradox: any nation seeking to issue a reserve currency must export its currency in size by running large, permanent trade deficits (or an equivalent mechanism for exporting currency in size).
The reason why the yen and yuan are minor players is neither nation runs much of a trade deficit, and neither exports its currency in size via loans or other currency emittance mechanisms.
Triffin’s Paradox is the tension between a currency’s domestic role and its global role. The nation’s issuing central bank prioritizes domestic concerns–bolstering employment, tamping down (or generating) inflation, supporting the private banking system, etc.–but the rate of interest, etc. set by the issuing central bank has enormous impacts on nations using the currency for payments, loans and reserves.
No currency can serve two masters at the same time. If the issuing central bank raises interest rates for domestic reasons, the increase in rates may be ruinous to offshore borrowers who must convert weakening home currencies into the strengthening reserve currency to make interest payments.
Higher yields strengthen reserve currencies and weaken emerging market currencies. This increases the costs of servicing loans denominated in reserve currencies.
The question for any wannabe reserve currency is: how do you export enough currency into the global system to support the demand for payments, loans and reserves? If the issuing nation runs a trade surplus or modest deficit, trade doesn’t export enough currency into the global financial system to meet the demands placed on a reserve currency.
The alternative mechanism is debt. If the issuing central bank issues lines of credit to banks, then institutions can make loans denominated in the reserve currency to offshore borrowers.
The EU banks have issued loans in euros, and the fatal consequence of this is now becoming clear. Emerging market borrowers will be forced to default as their currencies weaken against the euro and the USD, driving the costs of servicing their debt denominated in euros and USD higher.
Loans denominated in USD and euros will bring the periphery crisis home to the core’s banking sectors as these loans default. It was all fun and games when the USD was weakening thanks to the Fed’a ZIRP (zero interest rate policy), because it became progressively cheaper to service loans in USD as USD weakened and emerging market currencies strengthened.
Now that dynamic has reversed: every click higher in U.S. yields vis a vis other currencies will only push the USD higher.
The system of reserve currencies is dysfunctional for everyone, creating and incentivizing fatal imbalances in trade, yields and debt. Some look to a basket of currencies (SDRs) as the solution, but all this does is tighten the coherence of a system that’s already dangerously hyper-coherent, i.e. highly susceptible to contagion.
There is no perfect reserve currency. Even gold has its limitations. As a result, the best available solution is a world of multiple currencies, some of which are not borrowed into existence, i.e. gold and bitcoin. Given a transparent range of options, nations, borrowers and lenders could choose whatever mix of currencies best suited them.
Some years ago I proposed using bitcoin as a reserve currency: Could Bitcoin (or equivalent) Become a Global Reserve Currency? (November 7, 2013)
The way forward isn’t to replace the USD with another dysfunctional reserve currency– the way forward is to replace the entire system of reserve currencies with a transparent free-for-all of all kinds of currencies.

The World Is Quietly Decoupling From the U.S. – And No One Is Paying Attention, by Brandon Smith

The world is finding ways to get around the US’s currency and its payment mechanisms. From Brandon Smith at birchgold.com:

Blind faith in the U.S. dollar is perhaps one of the most crippling disabilities economists have in gauging our economic future. Historically speaking, fiat currencies are essentially animals with very short lives, and world reserve currencies are even more prone to an early death. But, for some reason, the notion that the dollar is vulnerable at all to the same fate is deemed ridiculous by the mainstream.

This delusion has also recently bled into parts of the alternative economic movement, with some analysts hoping that the Trump Administration will somehow reverse several decades of central bank sabotage in only four to eight years. However, this thinking requires a person to completely ignore the prevailing trend.

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Americans are Stuck in Abusive Relationships with Power, by Michael Krieger

The American people have been abused too long. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

And we recently discovered, if it was not known before, that no amount of power can withstand the hatred of the many.

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

Americans are brought up to believe all sorts of myths about the country we call home. We’re told our economy is a free market meritocracy governed by the rule of law. We’re told our civil liberties, enshrined in the Bill of Rights, are inviolable and protected by the most powerful military in the world. A fighting force entrusted with the admirable and monumental task of defending freedoms at home, and democracy and human rights abroad. We’re told we exist in a system of self-government, in which our votes matter and our voices heard. In practice, none of this is true.

The fact of the matter is American citizens in 2018 are just a nuisance for the real power players. Useful as consumers, but increasingly problematic as larger numbers start to ask questions about how things really work. For far too long, we’ve been ignorant and willing accomplices in our own bondage. This allowed the concentrated and unaccountable power that really calls the shots to go for broke in recent decades, with unsurprisingly tragic results.

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