Contributed by Casey Research: The last time Vladimir Putin was president, he laid the foundation to pull Mother Russia from the wreck of economic chaos to a world power once again. This time, he's ready to extend that influence to counter the West. His tools: Russia's abundant resources of energy, including uranium.
American manufacturing renaissance? Maybe not. But China is losing the low-wage edge. With manufacturing already in the doldrums, dizzying wage increases, long a reality on the factory floor, have become government policy. Now there are consequences: offshoring and automation.
Contributed by Chriss Street: Now there is evidence that IRS agents may have “knowingly and willfully” retaliated against a conservative “Enemies List” during the 2010 Congressional election and continuing through the 2012 Presidential election.
Unlike Detroit, which will run out of cash next month, Japan prints its own money, so bankruptcy in the Detroit sense is not in the cards. But they do have two things in common: depopulation and a ballooning stock of abandoned houses. For Japan, it’s an issue that even the most prodigious money-printing binge cannot resolve.
Contributed by Valentin Mândrăşescu, Editor of Reality Check @ The Voice of Russia: The status of the US dollar as the world reserve currency gives the US tremendous advantages. Among them: it allows the Fed to export inflation, while the Federal Government can run a huge deficit with impunity. But now an angry Russia has had enough!
Contributed by Don Quijones: Europe’s experiment in political and economic centralization is radically changing the lives of half a billion Europeans. National sovereignty and democracy may be threatened. For example, up to 80% of all laws passed by national governments of EU states are mere rubber stamped edicts emanating from Brussels.
During their second term, Presidents become obsessed with “legacy.” One of the yardsticks to measure success is the stock market. Many people can relate to it. Retirement depends on it. It’s mentioned even on NPR several times a day. Outside of a few shorts, everyone wants it to go up. But President Obama must now be biting his fingernails down to the quick.
Aircraft maintenance was a highly paid blue-collar job that required education, training, manual skills, and brains. It was one of the perfect American middle-class jobs with generous healthcare, retirement, and vacation benefits; and free flights! They were working for icons like Delta, American Airlines, Continental, TWA, or Pan Am. Icons indeed!
Officially, the EU doesn’t have an intelligence service. It’s dependent on the national intelligence services of its members. Officially. In reality, it is building an intelligence apparatus of six services, populated already by 1,300 specialists, some operating overseas, with vast databases at their fingertips. Much of it beyond any kind of democratic control.
The last big thing was green tech – from wave-power generators to the smart grid. Hyped in the bipartisan stimulus bill, it promised gobs of jobs, billions in revenues, and untold riches. Private investors plowed in billions too. It ended up in a massive pileup of capital destruction. Fatalities were everywhere.
Contributed by Daniel J. Graeber of Oilprice.com. Growing security risks in the Middle East and North Africa are giving oil companies the jitters. But with seven of the 12 OPEC members experiencing some form of upheaval, the cost of doing business suggests members may need more than a little bit of luck to return to glory.
The Dow and S&P 500 are stumbling like drunken but determined sailors from one all-time high to the next, despite lousy employment and economic data, and declining corporate revenues. Bonds have done the same, and their 100-year graph has assumed the terrifying shape of open crocodile jaws, worse even than in 1999 and 2007.
Contributed by Don Quijones: A daily ration of bread is now beyond the reach of roughly a billion people on planet Earth. What’s more, hunger is spreading like a pandemic, making incursions from its traditional strongholds in the global south to towns and cities across depression-hit Southern Europe. In Greece....
Contributed by George Dorgan: We think that the Italian, other peripheral economies, and also France will follow Japan for a decade or more of balance sheet recession: stagnant wages, falling real estate prices and a reduction of private debt. On one side, we reckon that this might not be so....
“Labor market conditions are affected by factors outside a central bank’s control,” admitted Richmond Fed President Lacker as the employment report bounced around the world. Yet for years, the Fed has proclaimed that the heroic motivation for its selfless money-printing mania was the deep desire to improve the unemployment fiasco for average Americans.
In theory, a class-action lawsuit allows the little guy to stand up to a big corporation and seek redress. Alone, the little guy wouldn’t have the means. Justice comes down to money, and class-action lawsuits add leverage. In theory. It’s a world-famous American product, infested with flaws. And it’s about to be imported by ... France!
The French government is saddled with enough problems; in theory, it no longer needs to create new ones. But now it wrote another excellent chapter in its tome on how to interfere with private-sector businesses, hamper entrepreneurs, and encourage them to start up their operations elsewhere instead of creating jobs in France.
Contributed by Maudlin Economics: Excellent essay by John Maudlin on the heated debate over the correlation between debt and GDP growth, and the fundamental conclusion by Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart that debt is not a problem until it becomes one – the “Bang! moment.” Followed by the Rogoff and Reinhart paper itself!
Anecdotal evidence has been piling up. Lamborghini sales hit the highest level in 14 years. Ferrari sales jumped 40%. Luxury retailers forecast fat profits. They ascribed it to Abenomics. “The sudden improvement in the stock market led to a big rise in sales at our department stores for luxury brands,” one of them said. But there is a price to pay.
Contributed by Chriss Street: The Eagles got it right with Hotel California: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!” The San Jose City Council, facing huge budget deficits, tried to terminate life-time pension benefits for Council members. Turns out, ending wildly expensive benefits may be wildly more expensive than staying in the plan.