Category Archives: Economics

An Excerpt From The Socionomic Theory of Finance, by Robert Prechter

Several weeks ago, SLL posted “Buy High and Sell Low?” a review of Robert Prechter’s groundbreaking The Socionomic Theory of Finance. Mr. Prechter and his team at Elliott Wave International have now made available to SLL an excerpt from Chapter 1, for any SLL reader who wants to sample the book. For those who don’t need a sample and want to go straight to the book, here is the Amazon link. The book has eight out of eight 5-Star reviews on Amazon, as it should. From Robert Prechter at elliottwave.com:

The Myth of Shocks

An Excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Socionomic Theory of Finance, by Robert Prechter

Few people find a new theory accessible until they first see errors in the old way of thinking. Part I of this book challenges the universally accepted paradigm under which humans’ rational reactions to exogenous (external, or externally generated) causes purportedly account for financial market behavior. The current chapter explores whether dramatic news events affect financial markets.

Testing Financial-Market Reaction under Perfect Conditions

In the physical world of mechanics, action is followed by reaction. When a bat strikes a ball, the ball changes course.

Most financial analysts, economists, historians, sociologists and futurists believe that society works the same way. They typically say, “Because so-and-so has happened, it will cause such-and-such reaction.” This mechanics paradigm is ubiquitous in financial commentary. The news headlines in Figure 1 reflect what economists tell reporters: Good economic news makes the stock market go up; bad economic news makes it go down. But is it true?

In the second half of the 1990s, a popular book made a case for buying and holding stocks forever. In March 2004, after several terrorist attacks had occurred, the author told a reporter, “Clearly, the risk of terror is the major reason why the markets have come down. We can’t quantify these risks; it’s not like flipping a coin and knowing your odds are 50-50 that an attack won’t occur.”1

In other words, he accepts the mechanics paradigm of exogenous cause and effect with respect to the stock market but says he cannot predict a major cause part of the equation. The first question is, if one cannot predict causes, then how can one write a book predicting effects? A second question is far more important: Is there any evidence that dramatic news events that make headlines, including terrorist attacks, political events, wars, natural disasters and other crises, are causal to stock market movement?

Suppose the devil were to offer you historic news a day in advance, no strings attached. “What’s more,” he says, “you can hold a position in the stock market for as little as a single trading day after the event or as long as you like.” It sounds foolproof, so you accept.

His first offer: “The president will be assassinated tomorrow.” You can’t believe it. You are the only person in the world who knows it’s going to happen.

The devil transports you back to November 22, 1963. You quickly take a short position in the stock market in order to profit when prices fall on the bad news you know is coming. Do you make money?

To continue reading: An Excerpt From The Socionomic Theory of Finance

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Now That Everyone’s Been Pushed into Risky Assets… by Charles Hugh Smith

Risk can be disguised or hidden, but never eliminated. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

A funny thing happened on the way to a low-risk environment: loans in default (non-performing loans) didn’t suddenly become performing loans.

If we had to summarize what’s happened in eight years of “recovery,” we could start with this: everyone’s been pushed into risky assets while being told risk has been transformed from something to avoid (by buying risk-off assets) to something you chase to score essentially guaranteed gains (by buying risk-on assets).

The successful strategy for eight years has been buy the dips because risk-on assets always recover and hit new highs: housing, stocks, bonds, bat guano futures–you name it.

Those who bought the dip in hot housing markets have seen spectacular gains since 2011. Those who bought every dip in the stock market have been richly rewarded, and those buying bonds expecting declining yields have until recently logged reliable gains.

The only asset class that’s lower than it was in 2011 is the classic risk-off asset: precious metals.

Investors who avoided risk-on assets–stocks, bonds, REITs (real estate investment trusts) and housing in hot markets–have been clubbed, while those who piled on the leverage to buy every dip have been richly rewarded.

Those who bet volatility–once a fairly reliable reflection of risk–would finally rise have been wiped out. By historical measures, risk has fallen to levels not seen since… well, just before the last Global Financial Meltdown.

Globally, financially assets have soared from a 2008 low around $222 trillion to over $300 trillion. Even in today’s financially jaded world, $80 trillion is an impressive number: over 4 times America’s GDP of $18 trillion annually, and roughly equal to global GDP.

To continue reading: Now That Everyone’s Been Pushed into Risky Assets…

He Said That? 3/13/17

From Robert Higgs (born 1944), American economic historian and economist combining material from Public Choice, the New Institutional economics, and the Austrian school of economics; and a libertarian anarchist in political and legal theory and public policy.

In the natural sciences, some checks exist on the prolonged acceptance of nutty ideas, which do not hold up well under experimental and observational tests and cannot readily be shown to give rise to useful working technologies. But in economics and the other social studies, nutty ideas may hang around for centuries. Today, leading presidential candidates and tens of millions of voters in the USA embrace ideas that might have been drawn from a 17th-century book on the theory and practice of mercantilism, and multitudes of politicians and ordinary people espouse notions that Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and others exploded more than two centuries ago. In these realms, nearly everyone simply believes whatever he feels good about believing.

California Is Exporting Its Poor To Texas, by Tyler Durden

If you have the misfortune to be poor in California, you won’t be able to afford it and you’ll have to move somewhere else. Sorry. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

California exports more than commodities such as movies, new technologies and produce. As The Sacramento Bee reports, it also exports truck drivers, cooks and cashiers.

Every year from 2000 through 2015, more people left California than moved in from other states. This migration was not spread evenly across all income groups, a Sacramento Bee review of U.S. Census Bureau data found. The people leaving tend to be relatively poor, and many lack college degrees. Move higher up the income spectrum, and slightly more people are coming than going. About 2.5 million people living close to the official poverty line left California for other states from 2005 through 2015, while 1.7 million people at that income level moved in from other states – for a net loss of 800,000. During the same period, the state experienced a net gain of about 20,000 residents earning at least five times the poverty rate – or $100,000 for a family of three.

“There was really nothing left for me in California,” said Kundurazieff, who also writes a blog about his cats. “The cost of living was high. The rent was high. The job market was debatable.”

Not surprisingly, the state’s exodus of poor people is notable in Los Angeles and San Francisco counties, which combined experienced a net loss of 250,000 such residents from 2005 through 2015.

The leading destination for those leaving California is Texas, with about 293,000 economically disadvantaged residents leaving and about 137,000 coming for a net loss of 156,000 from 2005 through 2015. Next up are states surrounding California; in order, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon.

To continue reading: California Is Exporting Its Poor To Texas

 

“America Needs to Negotiate Better Trade Deals.” by Gary North

Any so-called free trade deal becomes the government negotiating for special favors for politically connected companies and industries, at the expense of everyone else. From Gary North at lewrockwell.com:

A common cliché of protectionism is this one: the United States government needs to negotiate better deals for American companies.

It is time to call a spade a spade. This is fascism. Fascism is the economics of a government-business alliance. There should be no government-business alliance. The government should not be involved in business. Whenever government gets involved in business, it is always done to favor certain businesses at the expense of all the rest of them. It always involves a repression of decision-making on the part of individual buyers and sellers. There are no exceptions. There are always going to be a few winners and a lot of losers. But we do not see the losers. This is what Frederic Bastiat in 1850 called “the fallacy of the things not seen.”

If I say this to the standard conservative, he nods his head in agreement. He is convinced that the government is up to no good when it intervenes into the free market. Then, a few minutes later, he tells me that the government should actively negotiate better trade deals for American businesses. In other words, his default setting on trade is fascism. He does not understand this. He does not understand economic logic, and he does not understand the meaning of the so-called business-government alliance.

To continue reading: “America Needs to Negotiate Better Trade Deals.”

 

Does Technology Destroy Jobs? If Not What Does? by Mike Mish Shedlock

If technology destroys jobs, how come, if we are at the most advanced state of technology ever, we are not all unemployed? Perhaps technology creates more jobs than it destroys. That’s not the drift of about 85 percent of the articles on the Internet (the Drudge Report seems to have at least one new scary headline about automation per day), but it’s the truth. From Mike Mish Shedlock at mishtalk.com:

In light of my posts on robots, driverless vehicles, and automation, readers keep asking: where will the jobs come from?

I do not know, nor does anyone else. But does that mean jobs won’t come?

Is technology destroying jobs for the first time?

Daniel Lacalle on the Hedgeye blog offers this bold claim: Face It, Technology Does Not Destroy Jobs.

If you read some newspapers and politicians’ comments, it seems that technology companies are a threat and robots will take your job . The idea is interesting and has populated hundreds of pages of science fiction books that feed on a dystopic view of the future where humans are only an annecdote.

It’s an interesting idea, there’s only one problem. It is a fallacy.

The idea that technology will destroy jobs starts with exaggerated estimates – as always – with the objective of presenting a world in which there must be an intervention – fiscal, of course – from governments, in order to save you from a future that has always been wrongly predicted … But this time it’s different.

The empirical evidence of more than 140 years is that technology creates more jobs than it destroys and that there is nothing to fear of artificial intelligence. Randstad studies show that technology will create more than 1.25 million jobs in Spain alone over the next five years.

Evidence shows us that if technology really destroyed jobs, there would be no work today for anyone. The technological revolution we have seen in the past 30 years has been unparalleled and exponential, and there are more jobs, better salaries.

The best example is the German region of Baviera, one of the parts of the world with a higher degree of technification and robotization, and with a 2.6% unemployment. An all-time low. The same can be said about South Korea, and the world in general.

To continue reading: Does Technology Destroy Jobs? If Not What Does?

 

March 2017: The End Of A 100 Year Global Debt Super Cycle Is Way Overdue, by Michael Snyder

When global debt growth continuously exceeds economic growth—you know where this is going!—sooner or later something has got to give. From Michael Snyder at theeconomiccollapseblog.com:

For more than 100 years global debt levels have been rising, and now we are potentially facing the greatest debt crisis in all of human history. Never before have we seen such a level of debt saturation all over the planet, and pretty much everyone understands that this is going to end very, very badly at some point. The only real question is when it will happen. Many believe that the current global debt super cycle began when the Federal Reserve was established in 1913. Central banks are designed to create debt, and since 1913 the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 6800 times larger. But of course it is not just the United States that is in this sort of predicament. At this point more than 99 percent of the population of the entire planet lives in a nation that has a debt-creating central bank, and as a result the whole world is drowning in debt.

When people tell me that things are going to “get better” in 2017 and beyond, I find it difficult not to roll my eyes. The truth is that the only way we can even continue to maintain our current ridiculously high debt-fueled standard of living is to grow debt at a much faster pace than the economy is growing. We may be able to do that for a brief period of time, but giant financial bubbles like this always end and we will not be any exception.

Barack Obama and his team understood what was happening, and they were able to keep us out of a horrifying economic depression by stealing more than nine trillion dollars from future generations of Americans and pumping that money into the U.S. economy. As a result, the federal government is now 20 trillion dollars in debt, and that means that the eventual crash is going to be far, far worse than it would have been if we would have lived within our means all this time.

To continue reading: March 2017: The End Of A 100 Year Global Debt Super Cycle Is Way Overdue