Category Archives: Economy

The Myth Of American Capitalism Exposed: Competition Is Dying As The Biggest Corporations Gobble Up Everything, by Michael Snyder

Many industries are becoming increasingly concentrated or are already alarmingly concentrated. From Michael Snyder at endoftheamericandream.com:

Vibrant competition is absolutely essential in order for a capitalist economic system to function effectively.  Unfortunately, in the United States today we are witnessing the death of competition in industry after industry as the biggest corporations increasingly gobble up all of their competitors.  John D. Rockefeller famously once said that “competition is a sin”, and he was one of America’s very first oligopolists.  According to Google, an oligopoly is “a state of limited competition, in which a market is shared by a small number of producers or sellers”, and that is a perfect description of the current state of affairs in many major industries.  In early America, corporations were greatly limited in scope, and in most instances they were only supposed to exist temporarily.  But today the largest corporations have become so huge that they literally dominate our entire society, and that is not good for any of us.

Just look at what is happening in the airline industry.  When I was growing up, there were literally dozens of airlines, but now four major corporations control everything and they have been making gigantic profits

AMERICA’S airlines used to be famous for two things: terrible service and worse finances. Today flyers still endure hidden fees, late flights, bruised knees, clapped-out fittings and sub-par food. Yet airlines now make juicy profits. Scheduled passenger airlines reported an after-tax net profit of $15.5bn in 2017, up from $14bn in 2016.

What is true of the airline industry is increasingly true of America’s economy. Profits have risen in most rich countries over the past ten years but the increase has been biggest for American firms. Coupled with an increasing concentration of ownership, this means the fruits of economic growth are being monopolised.

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China Outraged At Arrest Of Huawei CFO, Warns It Will “Take All Measures”, by Tyler Durden

US relations with China go from bad to worse. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

So much for a trade war truce between China and the US, or a stock market Christmas rally for that matter.

Shortly after the news hit that Huawei CFO Wanzhou Meng — also deputy chairwoman and the daughter of Huawei’s founder — was arrested on December 1, or right around the time Trump and Xi were having dinner in Buenos Aires last Saturday, and faces extradition to the U.S. as a result of a DOJ investigation into whether the Chinese telecom giant sold gear to Iran despite sanctions on exports to the region, China immediately lodged a formal protest publishing a statement at its embassy in Canada, and demanding the U.S. and its neighbor “rectify wrongdoings” and free Meng, warning it would “closely follow the development of the issue” and will “take all measures” to protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens.

Full statement below:

Remarks of the Spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Canada on the issue of a Chinese citizen arrested by the Canadian side

At the request of the US side, the Canadian side arrested a Chinese citizen not violating any American or Canadian law. The Chinese side firmly opposes and strongly protests over such kind of actions which seriously harmed the human rights of the victim. The Chinese side has lodged stern representations with the US and Canadian side, and urged them to immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal freedom of Ms. Meng Wanzhou.

We will closely follow the development of the issue and take all measures to resolutely protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens.

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Recession Incoming or Something Worse? 2/10 Spread Collapses, by Tom Luongo

A classic indicator of impending recession is when the yield curve inverts. In other words, short maturity bonds yield more than longer maturity bonds. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

UPDATE: Now stocks are selling off and the 2/10 spread is less than 10 basis points.  Gold, however, refuses to sell off while the euro pulls back versus the dollar.

Mike Shedlock over at Mishtalk noted yesterday that there have been a couple of troubling inversions in the U.S. yield curve recently.  They happened in the 2/3 and 3/5 year space.

Mike went on to say that the normal recession indicator, the 2/10 spread, may not invert before the economy turns down.

For further discussion, please see First Inversion in Seven Years: Can a Recession be Far Off?

I repeat my assessment:

  • The classic recession signal that most follow is a 2-10 inversion. I doubt we see a 2-10 inversion before recession hits.
  • My call: There will not be the warning nearly everyone is waiting for

I don’t mean to rain on Mike’s parade, because I fundamentally agree with him that the Fed is raising rates into a global slow-down but the 2/10 spread is collapsing this morning pretty quickly.

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Nearly Two-Thirds of Non-Citizen Households on Welfare, by Joe Schaeffer

SLL has said ad nauseum that open arms welfare states are not compatible with welcome mat immigration policies. From Joe Schaeffer at libertynation.com:

Another day, another revelation as the great fleecing of the U.S. taxpayer continues unabated. A Center for Immigration Studies review of U.S. Census Bureau data reveals a stunning 63% of households in the U.S. headed by non-citizens are on some form of welfare. That’s just shy of two out of every three proving to be a burden to the American people. So much for the lie that massive immigration enriches our nation.

Dead Weight

The information CIS uncovered is infuriating in a number of ways. The 63% figure is almost twice the rate of native-headed American households that use welfare, which is a disturbingly high 35% as it is. But non-citizen households (45%) also utilize food programs at a much higher rate than natives (21%), and disproportionately tap into Medicaid programs as well (50% vs. 23%).

The most telling statistic in the review, however, is that welfare use rises among non-citizens the longer they are in our country. “Of households headed by non-citizens in the United States for fewer than 10 years, 50 percent use one or more welfare programs; for those here more than 10 years, the rate is 70 percent,” CIS discovered.

Rather than serving as a temporary safety net, our welfare programs are proving to be a lifestyle staple for non-citizens sponging off the American taxpayer. Of course, many of these non-citizens do work, but they are low-skilled Hispanics from Central America laboring at poverty-level jobs. A 2015 CIS report found that 67% of households headed by immigrant farm workers are on public assistance of some form. Swollen-eyed Big Ag industrial farmers crying out about the need to find workers willing to do “the jobs Americans won’t do” are in fact having their cheap payrolls subsidized by the welfare programs of this nation.

Bitter Factors

At a time when native-born Americans are working long hours with less vacation time and fewer benefits, we are being forced to carry the millstone of foreign squatters on our backs. Massive immigration has led to overcrowded cities and towns, aggravating traffic congestion that leads to an even more draining daily commute for Americans just so we can we have the privilege of having our wages heavily taxed to financially support the very same invaders who are making our work day more exhausting. This is madness.

Immigrants also suppress wages, especially for low-skilled workers, so that 35% figure of natives utilizing some form of welfare may be so high in part due to the fact that the non-citizens abusing our welfare programs are also making it impossible for a portion of our citizen population to find decent-paying jobs. Thus non-native interlopers are increasing the welfare burden beyond just what they actively take for themselves.

The Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security has released a draft proposal to prevent immigration by those who are likely to be a public burden on the American people. This new CIS report overwhelmingly confirms the urgent need for such a policy. Anyone opposing this sane safeguard through hollow accusations of “racism” or self-serving pleas for cheap labor is an enemy to the American working man and woman. And we will remember them for it.

Lenin would be so proud, by Simon Black

By socializing risk, in other words by making others pay for someone else’s mistakes, we make sure those risks will be taken again and again. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

Several years ago back in 2004-2006, if you had a pulse, you could borrow money from a bank to buy a house.

In fact, bank lending standards were so loose back then that there were some infamous cases of people who DIDN’T have a pulse who were still able to borrow money.

That’s right. Some banks were so irresponsible that they actually loaned money to dead people.

Of course, it turned out that lending money to dead people… or people with terrible credit who had a history of default, was a bad idea.

And the entire financial system almost blew up as a result of this reckless stupidity.

But then something even crazier happened: the Federal Reserve came in and bailed out all the banks with trillions of dollars of free money.

That was utterly nuts. Instead of being wiped out by their idiotic mistakes, the banks learned that they would always be bailed out no matter how stupid or greedy they acted.

The key lesson was that there would be zero consequences for bad behavior.

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On The Road to a Post-G20 World, by Pepe Escobar

Various multilateral trading blocs have formed and will continue to form as a counterweight to the US’s global dominance. From Pepe Escobar at consortiumnews.com:

The ascendence of China and multilateral trading blocks could eventually spell the doom of the G20 and U.S. global dominance, as Pepe Escobar explains.

The trade war launched by the Trump administration against China may not have been solved by a 2½-hour dinner between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Donald Trump at the G20 in Buenos Aires on Saturday. But it may have opened a path towards a drastic realignment.

Way beyond the histrionics surrounding the “family pic” – and whose nods and winks signaled surefire geopolitical capital – the G20 walked and talked like a last gasp to “save” the current turbo-capitalist world (dis)order.

The sherpas at the G20 lost sleep for two consecutive nights trying to come up with a final declaration capable of appeasing Trump. As virtually every nation at the G20 supports multilateralism on trade, nobody wanted to upset even more the real Big Boss in Buenos Aires: Xi Jinping.

The climax in any case was the U.S.-China bilateral – which carried the potential, if things went downhill, to derail the global economy.

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Misdiagnosing The Risk Of Margin Debt, by Lance Roberts

Margin debt helps keep stock markets afloat. From Lance Roberts at realinvestmentadvice.com:

This past week, Mark Hulbert wrote an article discussing the recent drop in margin debt. To wit:

“Plunging margin debt may not doom the bull market after all, reports to the contrary notwithstanding.

Margin debt is the total amount investors borrow to purchase stocks, which historically has risen during bull markets and fallen during bear markets. This total fell more than 6% in October, according to a report last week from FINRA. We won’t know the November total until later in December, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it falls even further.

A number of the bearish advisers I monitor are basing their pessimism at least in part on this plunge in margin. It’s easy to see why: October’s sharp drop brought margin debt below its 12-month moving average. (See accompanying chart.)”

“According to research conducted in the 1970s by Norman Fosback, then the president of the Institute for Econometric Research, there is an 85% probability that a bull market is in progress when margin debt is above its 12-month moving average, in contrast to just a 41% probability when it’s below.

Why, then, do I suggest not becoming overly pessimistic? For several reasons:

1) The margin debt indicator issues many false signals
2) There is insufficient data
3) Margin debt is a strong coincident indicator.”

I disagree with Mark on several points.

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