Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Bitcoin War Begins – Bitcoin Cash Rises 50% While Bitcoin Drops $1,000 In 24 Hours - Jeff_Berwick
2.Fragile Stock Market Bull in a China Shop -James_Quinn
3.Sheffield Leafy Suburbs Tree Felling's Triggering House Prices CRASH! - Nadeem_Walayat
4.Bank of England Hikes UK Interest Rates 100%, Reversing BREXIT PANIC Cut! - Nadeem_Walayat
5.Government Finances and Gold - Cautionary Tale told in Four Charts - Michael_J_Kosares
6.Gold Stocks Winter Rally - Zeal_LLC
7.The Stock Market- From Here to Infinity? - Plunger
8.Ethereum (ETH/USD) – bullish breakout of large symmetrical triangle looks to be getting closer - MarketsToday
9.Electronic Gold: The Deep State’s Corrupt Threat to Human Prosperity and Freedom - Stewart_Dougherty
10.Finally, The Fall Of The House Of Saud - Jim_Willie_CB
Last 7 days
Universal Credits Christmas Scrooge Nightmare for Weekly Pay Recipients - 18th Nov 17
Perspective on the Gold/Oil Ratio, Macro Fundamentals and a Gold Sector Bottom - 18th Nov 17
Facebook Traders: Tech Giant + Technical Analysis = Thumbs Up - 18th Nov 17
Games Betting System For NCAA Basketball Sports Betting - Know Your Betting Limits - 18th Nov 17
Universal Credit Doomsday for Tax Credits Cash ISA Savers, Here's What to Do - 18th Nov 17
Gold Mining Stocks Fundamentals Q3 2017 - 17th Nov 17
The Social Security Inflation Lag Calendar - Partial Indexing - 17th Nov 17
Mystery of Inflation and Gold - 17th Nov 17
Stock Market Ready To Pull The Rug Out From Under You! - 17th Nov 17
Crude Oil – Gold Link in November 2017 - 17th Nov 17
Play Free Online Games and Save Money Free Virtual Online Games - 17th Nov 17
Stock Market Crash Omens & Predictions: Another Day Another Lie - 16th Nov 17
Deepening Crisis In Hyper-inflationary Venezuela and Zimbabwe - 16th Nov 17
Announcing Free Trader's Workshop: Battle-Tested Tools to Boost Your Trading Confidence - 16th Nov 17
Instructions to Stop a Dispossession Home Sale and How to Purchase Astutely at Abandonment Home - 16th Nov 17
Trump’s Asia Tour: From Old Conflicts to New Prospects - 16th Nov 17
Bonds And Stocks Will Crash Together In The Next Crisis (Meanwhile, Bond Yields Are Going Up) - 16th Nov 17
A Generational Reset That Will Redistribute Wealth to the Bottom 60% Is Near - 16th Nov 17
Ethereum (ETH/USD) – bullish breakout of large symmetrical triangle looks to be getting closer - 16th Nov 17
Gold’s Long-term Analogies - 16th Nov 17
Does Stripping Streets of ALL of their Trees Impact House Prices (Sheffield Example)? - 15th Nov 17
The Trump Administration’s IP Battle Against China - 15th Nov 17
5 Ways Bitcoin can Improve its Odds of Becoming the Future of Money - 15th Nov 17
These Headlines Say Gold is Building a Base for Something Big - 15th Nov 17
Protect Your Savings With Gold: ECB Propose End To Deposit Protection - 14th Nov 17
Gold on the Ledge, Trend Forecast - 14th Nov 17
The Unbearable Slowness Of Fourth Turnings - 14th Nov 17
Silver Sign’s Confirmation & More - 14th Nov 17
Could This Be The End for Tesla? - 14th Nov 17
Harry Dent’s Fourth Cycle: More Evidence of Stock Market Downturn - 14th Nov 17
Why Having Good Credit Is Important If You Want to Invest - 14th Nov 17
The Bitcoin Bubble Explained in 4 Charts - 13th Nov 17
How the US Has Secretly Subsidized China to Produce Eco-Unfriendly Solar Panels - 13th Nov 17
The Increasingly Unstable Middle East Must Be On Every Investor’s Radar - 13th Nov 17
Stock Market Critical Supports are Being Challenged - 13th Nov 17
The One Chart All Investors Should See Before 2018 - 13th Nov 17
Short-Term Stock Market Uncertainty Following Recent Rally, Will Stocks Continue Higher? - 13th Nov 17
Is Hillary Just the “Fall Guy” for the Intel Agencies and their Moneybags Bosses? - 12th Nov 17
Stock Market Correction Phase - 12th Nov 17
Finally, The Fall Of The House Of Saud - 12th Nov 17
Bitcoin War Begins – Bitcoin Cash Rises 50% While Bitcoin Drops $1,000 In 24 Hours - 11th Nov 17
E-franc, E-krona... E-volution? - 11th Nov 17
Gold Investment Stalled - 11th Nov 17
Smart Ways to Get Loans Online - 11th Nov 17
What Can Pot Teach Us About Economics and Government? - 10th Nov 17
Can Stocks and Bonds go Down at the Same Time? - 10th Nov 17
Gold Market 2017 Will We See a Replay of 2015 and 2016? - 10th Nov 17
Oil markets turn bullish with shift to backwardation - 10th Nov 17
The Strange Behavior of Gold Investors from Monday to Thursday - 10th Nov 17
Where to Start Your Cryptocurrency Company - 10th Nov 17

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Forex Trading Free Week

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma Damage, America Can’t Afford to Rebuild

Economics / US Debt Sep 11, 2017 - 06:28 AM GMT

By: Raul_I_Meijer

Economics

A number of people have argued over the past few days that Hurricane Harvey will NOT boost the US housing market. As if any such argument would or should be required. Hurricane Irma will not provide any such boost either. News about the ‘resurrection’ of New Orleans post-Katrina has pretty much dried up, but we know scores of people there never returned, in most cases because they couldn’t afford to.

And Katrina took place 12 years ago, well before the financial crisis. How do you think this will play out today? Houston is a rich city, but that doesn’t mean it’s full of rich people only. Most homeowners in the city and its surroundings have no flood insurance; they can’t afford it. But they still lost everything. So how will they rebuild?


Sure, the US has a National Flood Insurance Program, but who’s covered by it? Besides, the Program was already $24 billion in debt by 2014 largely due to hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. With total costs of Harvey estimated at $200 billion or more, and Irma threating to cause far more damage than that, where’s the money going to come from?

It took an actual fight just to push the first few billion dollars in emergency aid for Houston through Congress, with four Texan representatives voting against of all people. Who then will vote for half a trillion or so in aid? And even if they do, where would it come from?

Trump’s plans for an infrastructure fund were never going to be an easy sell in Washington, and every single penny he might have gotten for it would now have to go towards repairing existing roads and bridges, not updating them -necessary as that may be-, let alone new construction.

Towns, cities, states, they’re all maxed out as things are, with hugely underfunded pension obligations and crumbling infrastructure of their own. They’re going to come calling on the feds, but Washington is hitting its debt ceiling. All the numbers are stacked against any serious efforts at rebuilding whatever Harvey and Irma have blown to pieces or drowned.

As for individual Americans, two-thirds of them don’t have enough money to pay for a $500 emergency, let alone to rebuild a home. Most will have a very hard time lending from banks as well, because A) they’re already neck-deep in debt, and B) because the banks will get whacked too by Harvey and Irma. For one thing, people won’t pay the mortgage on a home they can’t afford to repair. Companies will go under. You get the picture.

There are thousands of graphs that tell the story of how American debt, government, financial and non-financial, household, has gutted the country. Let’s stick with some recent ones provided by Lance Roberts. Here’s how Americans have maintained the illusion of their standard of living. Lance’s comment:

This is why during the 80’s and 90’s, as the ease of credit permeated its way through the system, the standard of living seemingly rose in America even while economic growth rate slowed along with incomes. Therefore, as the gap between the “desired” living standard and disposable income expanded it led to a decrease in the personal savings rates and increase in leverage. It is a simple function of math. But the following chart shows why this has likely come to the inevitable conclusion, and why tax cuts and reforms are unlikely to spur higher rates of economic growth.

There’s no meat left on that bone. There isn’t even a bone left. There’s only a debt-ridden mirage of a bone. If you’re looking to define the country in bumper-sticker terms, that’s it. A debt-ridden mirage. Which can only wait until it’s relieved of its suffering. Irma may well do that. A second graph shows the relentless and pitiless consequences of building your society, your lives, your nation, on debt.

It may not look all that dramatic, but look again. Those are long-term trendlines, and they can’t just simply be reversed. And as debt grows, the economy deteriorates. It’s a double trendline, it’s as self-reinforcing as the way a hurricane forms.

Back to Harvey and Irma. Even with so many people uninsured, the insurance industry will still take a major hit on what actually is insured. The re-insurance field, Munich RE, Swiss RE et al, is also in deep trouble. Expect premiums to go through the ceiling. As your roof blows off.

We can go on listing all the reasons why, but fact is America is in no position to rebuild. Which is a direct consequence of the fact that the entire nation has been built on credit for decades now. Which in turn makes it extremely vulnerable and fragile. Please do understand that mechanism. Every single inch of the country is in debt. America has been able to build on debt, but it can’t rebuild on it too, precisely because of that.

There is no resilience and no redundancy left, there is no way to shift sufficient funds from one place to the other (the funds don’t exist). And the grand credit experiment is on its last legs, even with ultra low rates. Washington either can’t or won’t -depending on what affiliation representatives have- add another trillion+ dollars to its tally, state capitals are already reeling from their debt levels, and individuals, since they have much less access to creative accounting than politicians, can just forget about it all.

Not that all of this is necessarily bad: why would people be encouraged to build or buy homes in flood- and hurricane prone areas in the first place? Why is that government policy? Why is it accepted? Yes, developers and banks love it, because it makes them a quick buck, and then some, and the Fed loves it because it keeps adding to the money supply, but it has turned America into a de facto debt colony.

If you want to know what will happen to Houston and whatever part of Florida gets hit worst, think New Orleans/Katrina, but squared or cubed -thanks to the 2007/8 crisis.

By Raul Ilargi Meijer
Website: http://theautomaticearth.com (provides unique analysis of economics, finance, politics and social dynamics in the context of Complexity Theory)

© 2017 Copyright Raul I Meijer - 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.

Raul Ilargi Meijer Archive

© 2005-2017 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

Catching a Falling Financial Knife