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MOSLER'S LAW: There is no financial crisis so deep that a sufficiently large tax cut or spending increase cannot deal with it.

Archive for August 16th, 2010

Robert Reich’s article

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 16th August 2010

Forget a Double Dip. We’re Still in One Long Big Dipper.

By Robert Reich

August 14 — It’s nonsense to think of the economy heading downward again into a double dip when most Americans never emerged from the first dip. We’re still in one long Big Dipper.

More people are out of work today than they were last year, counting everyone too discouraged even to look for work. The number of workers filing new claims for jobless benefits rose last week to highest level since February. Not counting temporary census workers, a total of only 12,000 net new private and public jobs were created in July — when 125,000 are needed each month just to keep up with growth in the population of people who want and need to work.

Not since the government began to measure the ups and downs of the busines cycle has such a deep recession been followed by such anemic job growth. Jobs came back at a faster pace even in March 1933 after the economy started to “recover” from the depths of the Great Depression. Of course, that job growth didn’t last long. That recovery wasn’t really a recovery at all. The Great Depression continued. And that’s exactly my point. The Great Recession continues.

Even investors are beginning to see reality. Starting in February the stock market rallied because corporate profits were rising briskly. Investors didn’t mind that profits were coming from payroll cuts, foreign sales, and gimmicks like share buy-backs — none of which could be sustained over the long term. But the rally died in April when investors began to see how paper-thin these profits actually were. And now the stock market is back to where it was at the start of the year.

What to do? First, don’t listen to Wall Street and the right.

Forget the Neo-Hoover deficit hawks who day we have to cut government spending and trim upcoming deficits. We didn’t get into this mess and aren’t remaining in it because of budget deficits. In fact, the only way to reduce long-term deficits is to restore jobs and growth so government revenues rise and expenses like unemployment insurance drop.

There you go, Bob, reinforcing the myth that getting long term deficits down has value.
That makes you part of the problem, and not part of the answer.

Ignore the government haters who say we have to void or delay upcoming regulations of Wall Street and big business. We got here because Wall Street went bonkers, the housing bubble burst, and the middle class couldn’t continue to spend becuase their health-care bills were soaring and their pay was stagnating. New regulations of Wall Street and big business are necessary to avoid a repeat.

And don’t believe the supply-siders who say we have to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Because the wealthy save rather than spend most of their incomes,

If you believe this, and understand taxing functions to regulate aggregate demand, why would you care if their taxes went up or not? Just like getting them angry?

extending their tax cut won’t do squat. And restoring their marginal tax rate to what it was under Bill Clinton won’t harm the economy. The Clinton years had the best sustained economy in American history.

The central problem is lack of demand — and that’s what has to be tackled.

Right! Which will eventually come back. The deficits are high enough for that. But there’s nothing to be gained by waiting around with maybe 20% real unemployment for private credit expansion to kick in like it did in the 90′s.

Three of the four sources of demand have stopped working. (1) Consumers can’t and won’t buy because they’re still under a huge debt load, can’t get more credit, are afraid of losing their jobs (or already have), depend on two wage earners at least one of whom is working part-time and pulling in less, or have to save. (2) Businesses won’t invest and spend on creating more jobs if they don’t see consumers willing to buy more.

Agreed on those two!

(3) Exports are stalled because the dollar is so high they cost too much, much of the rest of the world is still struggling with recession, and American firms can make things for sale abroad more cheaply abroad.

That’s a good thing- means we can have even lower taxes to sustain domestic demand and be able to buy all we can produce at full employment plus whatever the world wants to net sell to us.

That leaves only one remaining source of demand — government. We need a giant jobs program to hire people and put money in their pockets that they’ll spend and thereby create more jobs. Put ideology aside and recognize this fact. If it makes you more comfortable call it the National Defense Jobs Act. Call it the WPA. Call it Chopped Liver. Whatever, we have to get the great army of the unemployed and underemployed working again.

How about my $8/hr transition job proposal?

Also: Put more money in consumer’s wallets by eliminating payroll taxes on the first $20K of income (and make it up by applying payroll taxes to incomes over $250K.)

Why not just suspend FICA taxes entirely?

What are you afraid of?

The federal deficit?

Also: Get more hiring by giving the states and locales interest-free loans — so they can rehire all the teachers, fire fighters, police officers, and sanitation workers they’ve fired — to be repaid when their state employment rates hit 5 percent or below.

Why not simple federal revenue distributions on a per capita basis to make it fair?

What are you afraid of?

The federal deficit?

Also: Get more credit by having the Fed return to “quantitative easing” — expanding the money supply by purchasing mortgage-backed and other types of securities.

And you don’t have a clue on how monetary operations and reserve accounting work.
Otherwise you’d know this does nothing of macro consequence except take more interest income out of the private sector and shift a bit of interest from savers to borrowers.

If we let the deficit hawks and government haters dominate this debate, as they have, the Big Dipper will continue for years. The Great Depression lasted twelve.

If you’d get up to speed on monetary operations and stop supporting the deficit hawks, the true doves might have a fighting chance.

If any of you have Bob’s email address please forward this to him, thanks!

Posted in Deficit, Employment, GDP, Government Spending | 2 Comments »

China buying euros

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 16th August 2010

China shifting towards euro buying might indicate they want to beef up exports to the eurozone.

And China probably knows with the credit issues in Europe the last thing the euro zone can do is discourage them from buying euro national govt debt.

Wouldn’t even surprise me if China cut a deal with the ECB to backstop any credit issues before buying as well.

If so, it’s a nominal wealth shift from the euro zone to China as the euro zone national govts pay them a risk premium and then the ECB guarantees the debt.

China is even buying yen, highlighted below, indicating they may be trying to slow imports from Japan and maybe even increase exports to Japan as well.

And Japan my already be quietly buying $US financial assets as indicated by their rising holdings of US Treasury securities.

Looks like a floating exchange rate version of the gold standard ‘beggar they neighbor’ trade wars may be brewing.

This would be an enormous benefit for the US if we knew how to use fiscal policy to sustain domestic demand at full employment levels.

China Favors Euro to Dollar as Bernanke Shifts Course

By Candice Zachariahs and Ron Harui

August 16 (Bloomberg) — China, whose $2.45 trillion in foreign-exchange reserves are the world’s largest, is turning bullish on Europe and Japan at the expense of the U.S.

The nation has been buying “quite a lot” of European bonds, said Yu Yongding, a former adviser to the People’s Bank of China who was part of a foreign-policy advisory committee that visited France, Spain and Germany from June 20 to July 2. Japan’s Ministry of Finance said Aug. 9 that China bought 1.73 trillion yen ($20.1 billion) more Japanese debt than it sold in the first half of 2010, the fastest pace of purchases in at least five years.

“Diversification should be a basic principle,” Yu said in an interview, adding a “top-level Chinese central banker” told him to convey to European policy makers China’s confidence in the region’s economy and currency. “We didn’t sell any European bonds or assets, instead we bought quite a lot.”

China’s position may make it harder for the greenback to rebound after falling as much as 10 percent from this year’s peak in June as measured by the trade-weighted Dollar Index. The nation cut its holdings of U.S. government debt by $72.2 billion, or 7.7 percent, through May from last year’s record of $939.9 billion in July 2009, according to the Treasury Department, which releases new data today.

U.S. Concerns

Concern the U.S. economy is faltering was underscored by the Federal Reserve on Aug. 10. Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the central bank will reinvest principal payments on its mortgage holdings into Treasury notes to prevent money from being drained out of the financial system, its first expansion of measures to spur growth in more than a year.

“The pace of economic recovery is likely to be more modest in the near term than had been anticipated,” the Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement after meeting in Washington. “The Committee will keep constant the Federal Reserve’s holdings of securities at their current level.”

Asian central banks holding some 60 percent of the world’s foreign-exchange reserves are turning away from the dollar. Concerned about weakening U.S. growth and the Treasury’s record borrowing, they are switching toward euro assets to safeguard reserves, driving gains in the 16-nation currency. South Korea, Malaysia and India reduced their holdings of Treasuries, U.S. government data show.

Cutting Treasuries

The allocations to dollars in official foreign-exchange reserves declined in the first three months of the year, to 61.5 percent from 62.2 percent in the final quarter of 2009, the International Monetary Fund said June 30.

The yen’s share was 3.1 percent, up from 3 percent, The euro’s was 27.2 percent, little changed from 27.3 percent, even after the currency tumbled 5.7 percent versus the dollar during the first quarter on speculation that nations including Greece will struggle to rein in their budget deficits.

“Short of concerns of a default, the investor community in terms of big reserve managers will probably be forced to invest in the euro zone,” said Dwyfor Evans, a strategist in Hong Kong at State Street Global Markets LLC, part of State Street Corp. which has $19 trillion under custody and $1.8 trillion under management. “They can’t be putting all of their eggs in one basket, which is U.S. Treasuries.”

Dollar Index

The Dollar Index’s 5.2 percent drop in July, the biggest decline in 14 months, failed to dissuade most foreign-exchange forecasters from predicting the greenback will strengthen against the euro and yen by December.

The dollar traded at $1.2817 per euro as of 7:13 a.m. in New York from $1.2754 last week, when it rose 4.1 percent. The greenback was at 85.60 yen after falling to 84.73 yen on Aug. 11, the weakest since July 1995.

The U.S. currency will climb to $1.23 per euro by Dec. 31 and to 92 yen, based on median estimates of strategists and economists in Bloomberg surveys. Economists forecast U.S. growth will be 3 percent this year, compared with 1.2 percent for the region sharing the euro and 3.4 percent for Japan.

“There’s no sign of panic or urgency from the Fed and that supports our view that this is a temporary soft patch and the U.S. economy will fight its way through,” said Gareth Berry, a Singapore-based currency strategist at UBS AG, the world’s second-largest foreign-exchange trader. UBS forecasts the dollar will rise to $1.15 per euro and 95 yen in three months.

Slower Growth

Japan’s economy expanded at the slowest pace in three quarters, missing the estimates of all economists polled, the Cabinet Office said today in Tokyo. Gross domestic product rose an annualized 0.4 percent in the three months ended June 30, compared with the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey for annual growth of 2.3 percent.

Slowing purchases of Treasuries by Asian nations haven’t hindered President Barack Obama’s ability to finance a projected record budget deficit of $1.6 trillion in the year ending Sept. 30. Investor demand for the safest investments compressed yields on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes to a 16-month low of 2.65 percent today, even after the U.S.’s publicly traded debt swelled to $8.18 trillion in July.

U.S. mutual funds, households and banks in May boosted their share of America’s debt to 50.2 percent, the first time domestic investors owned more Treasuries than foreign holders since the start of the financial crisis in August 2007.

‘Concrete Steps’

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao urged the U.S. in March to take “concrete steps” to reassure investors about the safety of dollar assets. The nation, which is the largest overseas holder of Treasuries, trimmed its stockpile of U.S. debt to $867.7 billion in May, from $900.2 billion in April and a record $939.9 billion in July 2009.

Increases to its holdings made between June 2008 and June 2009 amid the global financial crisis were mostly in short-term securities, signaling a “lack of confidence” in the U.S. ability to reduce its debt, UBS said in a research note Aug. 9.

“China has confidence in Europe’s economy, in the euro, and the euro area,” Yu said. A member of the state-backed Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Yu was selected by the official China Daily to question Treasury secretary Timothy F. Geithner during his June 2009 visit to Beijing about risks the U.S.’s budget deficit will undermine the value of its debt.

Chinese Purchases

Chinese purchases of Europe’s bonds come in the wake of measures taken by European policy makers to allay concern the sovereign-debt crisis will threaten the single-currency union. In May, they announced a loan package worth as much as 750 billion euros ($956 billion) to backstop euro-area governments.

That month, foreign investors were net buyers of euro-zone debt as the 16-nation currency plummeted by the most since January 2009. Foreigners purchased 37.4 billion euros of bonds and notes after buying 49.7 billion euros in April, the latest data from the European Central Bank show.

China’s concern is mirrored by neighboring central banks that are building up foreign-exchange reserves as they sell local currencies to maintain the competiveness of exporters, according to Faros Trading LLC, which conducts currency transactions on behalf of hedge funds and institutional clients.

Indonesia’s central bank and Thailand’s prime minister said in the past month they are watching the performance of their nation’s currencies amid speculation gains will curb exports. Taiwan’s dollar has depreciated in the final minutes of trading on most days in the past four months as policy makers bought dollars, according to traders familiar with the central bank’s operations who declined to be identified. Exports account for about two-thirds of Taiwan’s gross domestic product.

‘Rapidly Diversifying’

“Asian central banks, other than China, don’t want to be caught holding all of the dollars when China is rapidly diversifying,” said Brad Bechtel, a Connecticut-based managing director with Faros Trading. “When sentiment shifts and people start getting very bearish on the euro again, beware central banks might be aggressively buying euros on the other side.”

The yen has climbed 8.4 percent against the dollar this year. China bought a net 456.4 billion yen of Japanese debt in June, after purchasing 735.2 billion yen in May, which was the largest in records dating from 2005, according to Japan’s Ministry of Finance data.

“China’s policy of steady and relatively rapid accumulation of foreign-exchange reserves means they have to be invested somewhere,” said Greg Gibbs, a currency strategist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in Sydney. “It is easy to imagine that given the low yields in the U.S. and the debt crisis in Europe, China is now willing to invest more of these reserves in the yen.”

Posted in China, Currencies, ECB, Japan | 29 Comments »

Lowe’s misses, but sales and earnings rise

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 16th August 2010

Negative headline for a slight miss, and 3.8% top line growth and double digit earnings growth year over year.

And that is in Q2 where GDP growth was probably only 1% or so, and still looking a bit higher for Q3, supported by ongoing 8%+ federal budget deficits.

Not a good economy for sure, as shockingly high unemployment continues and the federal govt does nothing to further support aggregate demand, because they all believe the myth that the federal govt has run out of money and in order to spend have to borrow from the likes of China and leave the debts for our children to pay back.

Lowe’s results miss estimates

August 16th (Reuters) — Home improvement chain Lowe’s Cos missed quarterly profit and sales estimates as benefits from the homebuyer tax credit and cash for appliances programs waned.

Net income rose to $832 million, or 58 cents a share, in the second quarter ended July 30 from $759 million, or 51 cents a share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average were expecting 59 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales rose 3.8 percent to $14.36 billion, but missed the average estimate of $14.52 billion.

Posted in Employment, Equities, GDP, Government Spending | No Comments »

Valance Chart Review

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 16th August 2010

Link:

Valance Chart Review (PDF)

Posted in Comodities, Deficit, ECB, Economic Releases, Employment, Equities, GDP, Government Spending | No Comments »

average car prices rising

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 16th August 2010

Interesting data point. Perhaps a bit more evidence of the real wealth flowing from low to high income Americans:

The proof is emerging in dealer showrooms, where customers are buying more of Detroit’s cars and paying higher prices. In July, G.M., Ford and Chrysler sold their vehicles at an average price of $30,400 — $1,350 more than a year ago and higher than an overall industry gain of $1,100, according to the auto research Web site Edmunds.com.

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments »