Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Stock Markets and the History Chart of the End of the World (With Presidential Cycles) - 28th Aug 20
2.Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook... AI Tech Stocks Buying Levels and Valuations Q3 2020 - 31st Aug 20
3.The Inflation Mega-trend is Going Hyper! - 11th Sep 20
4.Is this the End of Capitalism? - 13th Sep 20
5.What's Driving Gold, Silver and What's Next? - 3rd Sep 20
6.QE4EVER! - 9th Sep 20
7.Gold Price Trend Forecast Analysis - Part1 - 7th Sep 20
8.The Fed May “Cause” The Next Stock Market Crash - 3rd Sep 20
9.Bitcoin Price Crash - You Will be Suprised What Happens Next - 7th Sep 20
10.NVIDIA Stock Price Soars on RTX 3000 Cornering the GPU Market for next 2 years! - 3rd Sep 20
Last 7 days
UK Covd-19 FREE Lateral Flow Self Testing Kits How Use for the First Time at Home - 10th Apr 21
NVIDIA Stock ARMED and Dangeorus! - 10th Apr 21
The History of Bitcoin Hard Forks - 10th Apr 21
Gold Mining Stocks: A House Built on Shaky Ground - 9th Apr 21
Stock Market On the Verge of a Pullback - 9th Apr 21
What Is Bitcoin Unlimited? - 9th Apr 21
Most Money Managers Gamble With Your Money - 9th Apr 21
Top 5 Evolving Trends For Mobile Casinos - 9th Apr 21
Top 5 AI Tech Stocks Investing 2021 Analysis - 8th Apr 21
Dow Stock Market Trend Forecast 2021 - Crash or Continuing Bull Run? - 8th Apr 21
Don’t Be Fooled by the Stock Market Rally - 8th Apr 21
Gold and Latin: Twin Pillars of Western Rejuvenation - 8th Apr 21
Stronger US Dollar Reacts To Global Market Concerns – Which ETFs Will Benefit? Part II - 8th Apr 21
You're invited: Spot the Next BIG Move in Oil, Gas, Energy ETFs - 8th Apr 21
Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr US Dollar is Back - 8th Apr 21
Stock Market New S&P 500 Highs or Metals Rising? - 8th Apr 21
Microsoft AI Azure Cloud Computing Driving Tech Giant Profits - 7th Apr 21
Amazon Tech Stock PRIMEDAY SALE- 7th Apr 21
The US has Metals Problem - Lithium, Graphite, Copper, Nickel Supplies - 7th Apr 21
Yes, the Fed Will Cover Biden’s $4 Trillion Deficit - 7th Apr 21
S&P 500 Fireworks and Gold Going Stronger - 7th Apr 21
Stock Market Perceived Vs. Actual Risks: The Key To Success - 7th Apr 21
Investing in Google Deep Mind AI 2021 (Alphabet) - 6th Apr 21
Which ETFs Will Benefit As A Stronger US Dollar Reacts To Global Market Concerns - 6th Apr 21
Staying Out of the Red: Financial Tips for Kent Homeowners - 6th Apr 21
Stock Market Pushing Higher - 6th Apr 21
Inflation Fears Rise on Biden’s $3.9 TRILLION in Deficit Spending - 6th Apr 21
Editing and Rendering Videos Whilst Background Crypto Mining Bitcoins with NiceHash, Davinci Resolve - 5th Apr 21
Why the Financial Gurus Are WRONG About Gold - 5th Apr 21
Will Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Rebuild Gold? - 5th Apr 21
Stocks All Time Highs and Gold Double Bottom - 5th Apr 21
All Tech Stocks Revolve Around This Disruptor - 5th Apr 21
Silver $100 Price Ahead - 4th Apr 21
Is Astra Zeneca Vaccine Safe? Risk of Blood Clots and What Side Effects During 8 Days After Jab - 4th Apr 21
Are Premium Bonds A Good Investment in 2021 vs Savings, AI Stocks and Housing Alternatives - 4th Apr 21
Penny Stocks Hit $2 Trillion - The Real Story Behind This "Road to Riches" Scheme - 4th Apr 21
Should Stock Markets Fear Inflation or Deflation? - 4th Apr 21
Dow Stock Market Trend Forecast 2021 - 3rd Apr 21
Gold Price Just Can’t Seem to Breakout - 3rd Apr 21
Stocks, Gold and the Troubling Yields - 3rd Apr 21
What can you buy with cryptocurrencies?- 3rd Apr 21
What a Long and Not so Strange Trip it’s Been for the Gold Mining Stocks - 2nd Apr 21
WD My Book DUO 28tb Unboxing - What Drives Inside the Enclosure, Reds or Blues Review - 2nd Apr 21
Markets, Mayhem and Elliott Waves - 2nd Apr 21
Gold And US Dollar Hegemony - 2nd Apr 21
What Biden’s Big Infrastructure Push Means for Silver Price - 2nd Apr 21
Stock Market Support Near $14,358 On Transportation Index Suggests Rally Will Continue - 2nd Apr 21
Crypto Mine Bitcoin With Your Gaming PC - How Much Profit after 3 Weeks with NiceHash, RTX 3080 GPU - 2nd Apr 21
UK Lockdowns Ending As Europe Continues to Die, Sweet Child O' Mine 2021 Post Pandemic Hope - 2nd Apr 21
A Climbing USDX Means Gold Investors Should Care - 1st Apr 21
How To Spot Market Boom and Bust Cycles - 1st Apr 21
What Could Slay the Stock & Gold Bulls - 1st Apr 21
Precious Metals Mining Stocks Setting Up For A Breakout Rally – Wait For Confirmation - 1st Apr 21
Fed: “We’re Not Going to Take This Punchbowl Away” - 1st Apr 21
Mining Bitcoin On My Desktop PC For 3 Weeks - How Much Crypto Profit Using RTX 3080 on NiceHash - 31st Mar 21
INFLATION - Wage Slaves vs Gold Owners - 31st Mar 21
Why It‘s Reasonable to Be Bullish Stocks and Gold - 31st Mar 21
How To Be Eligible For An E-Transfer Payday Loan? - 31st Mar 21
eXcentral Review – Trade CFDs with a Customer-Centric Broker - 31st Mar 21

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

FIRST ACCESS to Nadeem Walayat’s Analysis and Trend Forecasts

U.S. Economy and the Illusion of Prosperity

Economics / Economic Theory Mar 23, 2015 - 05:29 PM GMT

By: Frank_Hollenbeck

Economics

President Obama and Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen have recently been crowing about improving economic conditions in the U.S.  Unemployment is down to 5.5% and economic growth in 2014 hit 2.4%.

Journalists and economists point to this improvement as proof that quantitative easing was effective. They seem to have political blinders on. The boom is artificial and has been built by adding debt on top of excessive debt.  Total household debt increased 2.5 % in 2014 – the highest level since 2010. Mortgage loans increased 1.5%, student loans jumped by 6.6%, and auto loans swelled a hefty 9.6%.  The improving auto sales are based on a bubble of sub- prime borrowers. Auto sales have been brisk because of a surge in loans to individuals with credit scores below 640. Auto loans to individuals with strong credit scores, above 720, have barely budged.


Sub-prime consumer borrowing climbed $189 billion in the first 11 months of 2014.  Excluding home mortgages, this accounted for 41% of total consumer lending. This is exactly the kind of lending that got us into trouble less than a decade ago. This trend can only end in tears.

Here’s the lingering question: is the current boom built on sound foundations? Do we have sharp increases in productivity or real wage growth?

The truth is productivity has barely budged since 2010 and real wages have flat lined, or declined for decades. From mid-2007 to mid-2014, real wages declined 4.9% for workers with a high school degree, dropped 2.5% for workers with a college degree, and sunk 0.2% for workers with an advanced degree.

So is the boom being built on broad base investment in plant and equipment?  The average age of plant and equipment in the US is currently the oldest on record.

It is now clear that the shale boom was an illusion of prosperity.  The same is true about improvements in housing. Following the financial crisis of 2008, real estate prices should have dropped, much, much more than they did relative to other prices. Housing should then have remained in a slump possibly for a decade or more, until the overhang of construction in residential and commercial real estate had cleared off. The new ratio of relative prices would have allowed resources to move into the production of goods and services more in line with what society would demand in a functioning market.

Today, housing is back, with price increases at bubble-era levels and construction activity is picking up. The improvement is being driven by professional investors stretching for yield in the buy- to-rent market and by historically low long-term mortgage rates of below 4%.  Yet, the overhang from the previous boom has not disappeared. It has just been left in limbo, because of the “extend and pretend” strategy of banks made possible by the central bank’s massive printing over the last 6 years. The number of vacant units in the U.S. still stands at over 18 million units- a level reached back in 2008-2009. The number of units held off the market is still at a record level of over 7 million units. Of course, when market forces return interest rates to more normal levels, the adjustment in housing will be even more disastrous.

As Austrians have always warned, don’t be fooled by the euphoria of a boom built on a mountain of malinvestments.  A sustainable boom can only be built on a foundation of sound money. Any other is destined for a bust. Our current economic policies seem to be geared to create a never ending series of booms and busts.  We must find a way to get off this merry-go-round.

The economic policies followed over the last 6 years can only be described as delusional. The problem in 2008 was too much debt, so the solution according to the geniuses in the Eccles Building is to lower interest rates to boost demand to induce households and governments to borrow even more.  In other words, you just had a heart attack because you are obese and your doctor tells you your diet is too restrictive and you need to eat even more by loading up on different types of debt….sorry…..food.

We don’t need central banks to “boost” demand. This faulty widespread educational indoctrination about aggregate demand is the poison eating at the heart of macroeconomic theory.  It is not a lack of demand that is hampering growth but a misalignment of supply with demand. Once you understand this fundamental economic reality, no amount of printing will solve this problem.

Printing money cannot correct a misalignment created by government’s incessant interference with the workings of the price system. This printing however will actually make things worse since it alters relative and absolute prices, causing a greater divergence between what society wants to be produced and what is produced.  Interfering with interest rates is by far the most damaging policy imaginable since interest rates are the price of time preferences and play a crucial role in aligning output with demand across time. The greater the misalignment across time, the greater the adjustment.

It is too late to avoid the necessary reset and the coming adjustment will be horrendous. Yet, have we learned anything? Will we repeat the same policy mistakes of the 1920s, or of the dot com and housing bubbles? When will we realize we must shut down the definition of evil, the central bank, and its fraudulent sidekick fractional reserve banking? How many times will we continue this rinse and repeat of booms and busts?

Frank Hollenbeck teaches finance and economics at the International University of Geneva. He has previously held positions as a Senior Economist at the State Department, Chief Economist at Caterpillar Overseas, and as an Associate Director of a Swiss private bank. See Frank Hollenbeck's article archives.

You can subscribe to future articles by Frank Hollenbeck via this RSS feed..

© 2015 Copyright Frank Hollenbeck - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules