The Center of the Universe

St Croix, United States Virgin Islands

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 February, 2011

US Budget Gap Is Top Worry for NABE Economists

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 28th February 2011

So much for their legacies:

US Budget Gap Is Top Worry for NABE Economists

February 28 (Reuters) — The massive U.S. budget deficit is the gravest threat facing the economy, topping high unemployment and the risk of inflation or deflation, according to a survey of forecasters released Monday.

The National Association for Business Economics said its 47-member panel of forecasters increased its estimate for the 2011 federal deficit to $1.4 trillion from $1.1 trillion in its previous survey in November.

“Panelists continue to characterize excessive federal indebtedness as their single greatest concern,” with state and local government debt the second-biggest worry, the survey said.

Posted in Deficit, Government Spending | 33 Comments »

central bankers comment on QE

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 28th February 2011

Recent statements regarding QE show at least some key Central Bankers have it right:

Don Kohn (Former FRB Vice Chair):”I know of no model that shows a transmission from bank reserves to inflation”.

Vitor Constancio (ECB Vice President): “The level of bank reserves hardly figures in banks lending decisions; the supply of credit outstanding is determined by banks’ perceptions of risk/reward trade-offs and demand for credit”.

Charlie Bean (Deputy Governor BOE): in response to a question about the famous Milton Friedman quote “Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon”: “Inflation is not always and everywhere a monetary base phenomenon”:

Posted in CBs, ECB, Fed | 59 Comments »

the Mideast, the Saudis, and our markets

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 25th February 2011

First, I’ve been pretty quiet on the mideast goings ons.
I’ve been watching intently from the time Egypt made headlines,
and have yet to see anything of particular consequence to us, beyond oil prices.

I’ve yet to come up with any channel to world aggregate demand, inflation, etc. apart from oil prices.

Seems all moves in stocks and bonds have been linked directly or indirectly only to actual and potential changes in crude oil and product prices.

And the mainstream has yet to realize that ultimately the Saudis- the only producer with excess capacity, continues as price setter, at least until their excess capacity is gone.

So the price of crude oil remains set by decree, and not market forces.
And markets don’t yet seem to know that.
Credit the Saudis for outsmarting the world on that score.
They say they don’t set prices, but let the market set price, as they only set spreads to benchmark market prices they post for their refiners.
The world completely misses the simple difference between the Saudi’s reaction function as a price setter, and prices set competitively in the market place.

That’s like the Fed saying they don’t set $US interest rates, because they have a reaction function that guides them.

So what does that mean?

It means the price of crude will come down only if the Saudis want it to come down (assuming they do have excess capacity).

And my best guess is that their survival strategy includes a lower price of oil.

They will play the maestro with grand gesture and international ‘faux diplomacy’ with ‘high level’ behind the scenes goings ons with pledges to come to the rescue with promises of production increases to replace any lost output due to the crisis, making it clear that they are going the extra mile and taking extraordinary measures to ensure the western economies both won’t see any supply disruptions and prices will be contained. Making it clear that we owe them for their selfless, gargantuan, efforts and expenditures of political capital on our behalf.

It’s all a big show to ingratiate themselves to the West in the hopes of getting the western support needed to sustain their position of power.

And the west will never realize that prices went up only because the Saudis raised their posted prices under cover of their reaction function that the west mistakes for ‘market forces,’ and that prices will go down only as the Saudis simply lower their posted prices, as they continue to play us for complete fools.

Much like China does to us because we think we need to sell our Tsy secs to fund our federal spending.

And with lower crude prices we go ‘risk off’ and much of the recent moves in other markets reverse.

The other possibility is that the Saudis don’t cut price, maybe because they decide they want the increased revenues to sustain control domestically with increased distributions to their population.

One way or another, it’s all their political decision, and we don’t even understand how it works, which reduces the odds that whatever influence we might have will be used to our ultimate benefit.

Before the early 1970′s the price of oil was set by the Texas Railroad Commission, who kept it relatively low and stable, fueling growth with reasonable price stability, while govt policy fostered relatively high levels of employment and low output gaps.

Since the hand off to the Saudis in the early 1970′s, when circumstances allowed them to take over as swing producer/price setter, prices have increased dramatically with very high levels of volatility, disrupting the world order and fostering today’s very high levels of unemployment and massive output gaps, as govts struggle with fears of inflation and seemingly no understanding of the process that’s got us into that mess.

And now with the world turmoil perhaps largely a function of mass unemployment, and govts with no idea how to keep that from happening, the pendulum is shifting from order to chaos.

Posted in Comodities, Deficit, Employment, Government Spending | 31 Comments »

Saudi Arabia in talks to boost oil output

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 24th February 2011

Right, as swing producer/monopolist that’s what they necessarily do- set price and let quantity adjust.

But if quantity demanded exceeds their ability to pump they lose control of price on the upside.

>   
>   (email exchange)
>   
>   On Thu, Feb 24, 2011 at 9:43 AM, Greg wrote:
>   
>   Just like you say about the Saudi’s…..
>   

Saudi Arabia in talks to boost oil output

By David Blair, Jack Farchy and Javier Blas

February 24 (FT) — Saudi Arabia is in “active talks” with European oil companies to meet the production shortfall left by Libya, the clearest indication to date that the leader of the Opec oil cartel is about to boost supplies to stop further rises in the oil price, which surged to near $120 a barrel on Thursday.

Riyadh is asking “what quantity and what quality of oil they [the European refiners] want,” a senior Saudi oil official said on condition of anonymity.

Oil traders said the talks signalled that Saudi Arabia realised that the political crisis in Libya was now an oil supply crisis and that the kingdom needed to act quickly and decisively to stop oil prices hurting the global economic recovery.

“You can only expect the price to go up. It is fear of the unknown. The risks are all to the upside,” one senior oil trader said. “Saudi Arabia needs to respond.”

The kingdom is considering two options for increasing supplies. The first would be to boost Saudi production and send more crude through the kingdom’s East-West pipeline, which links the Gulf region with the Red Sea port of Yanbu, for shipment to Europe.

Another possibility, which is currently only being “studied”, would be a swap arrangement, whereby West African oil intended for Asian buyers is redirected to Europe, with Saudi Arabia stepping in to supply the Asian customers.

West African oil, such as Nigerian crude, is very similar to the gasoline-rich Libyan oil, traders said, noting that West Africa is geographically closer to Europe than Saudi Arabia.

“Right now, there are active talks in order to implement what is needed,” the Saudi oil official added. He stressed that the kingdom retained spare capacity of some 4m barrels a day – more than than double Libya’s entire output which totalled 1.58m b/d in January, according to the International Energy Agency.

Saudi Arabia has not yet decided whether to increase its output in response to Libya’s crisis, the official added, saying it would depend on the requirements of European oil companies.

If it proved necessary for Saudi Arabia to produce more, “then that will happen, there’s no problem at all”, he added.

Traders believe Saudi Arabia has the capacity to boost production by at least 1m b/d with just 24 hours notice, meaning that if a decision was adopted now, the oil tankers could be arriving in Europe within 10 days.

The move by the world’s largest oil producer comes as Eni of Italy, the most active foreign oil company in Libya, said on Thursday that oil production from the North African country has plunged to just a quarter of normal levels.

Increasingly panicked buying drove the price of Brent crude futures, the global pricing benchmark, up 6.7 per cent to a peak of $119.79, the highest since August 2008. Traders and investors feared that the near-total shutdown of Libya’s oil industry would leave the global oil market with little supply cushion should the political crisis spread to another major Middle Eastern oil producer.

Paolo Scaroni, Eni chief executive, on Wednesday made the most pessimistic public assessment to date of the impact of the Libyan crisis on the country’s oil output, saying the country was producing only 400,000 b/d, compared with 1.6m b/d before the violence erupted.

“The real phenomenon is there are 1.2m barrels less on the market,” Mr Scaroni told reporters in Rome, adding that the loss of Libyan production was “not a huge thing, but it is something and there is also a sense of general uncertainty in the region which can be the trigger for speculation”.

The shortfall means the world market is enduring its biggest oil crisis since hurricane Katrina in 2005 knocked out most US oil production in Gulf of Mexico.

Traders believe that Saudi Arabia has the capacity to increase production and also the oil of the right quality to meet the shortfall. The kingdom produces so-called Arab Extra Light and Arab Super Light, which through blending could be made to resemble the high-quality, light, sweet oil produced by Libya.

The Saudi move comes as oil prices reached levels that many economists believe will dramatically slow the global economy and potentially trigger a double-dip recession. Oil prices hit an all-time high of nearly $150 a barrel in mid-2008.

Posted in Comodities, Oil | 289 Comments »

US Gasoline consumption, Saudi crude output

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 23rd February 2011

US demand continues to go nowhere, and may even be softening

And with Saudis posting prices to their refiners and letting quantity adjust, it doesn’t look like net world demand is doing much either

Posted in Comodities | 4 Comments »

Testimony from Chairman Bernanke

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 23rd February 2011

“If government debt and deficits were actually to grow at the pace envisioned, the economic and financial effects would be severe,” Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke told the House Budget Committee Feb. 9. “Sustained high rates of government borrowing would both drain funds away from private investment and increase our debt to foreigners, with adverse long-run effects on U.S. output, incomes, and standards of living.”

Posted in Deficit, Fed, Government Spending | 12 Comments »

Krugman & 7DIF

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 23rd February 2011

>   
>   (email exchange)
>   
>   On Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 9:15 PM, wrote:
>   
>   Paul Krugman gave a speech at Florida Atlantic University and agreed
>   to a brief meeting with our econonomics club.
>   
>   I thought you might enjoy the attached picture.
>   

Posted in 7DIF | 108 Comments »

China’s “dynamic differentiated required reserve ratios”

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 23rd February 2011

This only works to raise the cost of funds for the targeted banks.

It’s still about price, not quantity

So far the actual quantitative measures remain the govt telling its banks to lend less, or else.
That does work.
The problem is it works via a hard landing/widening output gap.

From Yang Kewei

As small and medium sized banks contributed ~70% of new loans in 2011. It makes sense the PBOC implemented punitive required reserves on them. Given that, the tight liquidity reflected on 7d repo is explainable as S&M sized banks have to borrow to meet their RRR. This gave big local banks great opportunity to squeeze on tenor repos, but o/n is still stable given ample liquidity 1) cash back to banks from households after LNY 2) pboc bill maturing (most are held by big banks) 3) FX reserve accumulation (one indicator is that o/n repo is still quite stable which signals current liquidity situation.).

One additional impact of significant net amount of PBOC bill expiring since 4Q10 is that big banks have been passively extending duration of their assets. To maintain balanced balance sheet, banks could have some adjustment on their asset allocation going fwd.

China has slapped punitive reserves on multiple banks

* First official confirmation of punitive reserve moves

* Differentiated reserves key part of central bank policy

* China is trying to slow credit and money growth

February 22 (Reuters) — China has already imposed punitive required reserve increases on more than 40 banks this year, targeting those that have issued too many loans, state news agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday.

This approach, formally known as “dynamic differentiated required reserve ratios”, has been effective in restraining lending by banks and will be continued as a core part of the government’s efforts to control inflation, Xinhua said, citing an unnamed central bank source.

The report was the first official confirmation that Beijing has been using a complex new system for tweaking mandatory reserve levels on a regular basis as a way of disciplining unruly and especially profligate banks.

China has increased reserve requirements across the board for all banks twice this year. The dynamic increases have been on top of those and can be reversed once banks fall back into line with official lending and capital guidelines.

“Since the start of 2011, the central bank has already started using dynamic differentiated required reserve ratios as a tool in its monetary and credit controls,” Xinhua said.

“It has already imposed differentiated reserve requirements on more than 40 local financial institutions that had low capital adequacy ratios, overly fast credit growth and increasing cyclical risks,” it added.

The report did not name any of the targeted banks, nor did it disclose the magnitude of the punitive reserve increases.

It did say that the central bank would continue to draw on a mixture of tools, including interest rates and required reserves, in implementing a prudent monetary policy.

NEW TOOL

A local magazine said on Monday that China had abandoned dynamic differentiated reserves because the formula for determining them was too complex, but the central bank denied that.

The Xinhua report served to underscore that differentiated reserves have, in fact, become an essential component of China’s monetary policy toolkit.

The People’s Bank of China first unveiled plans for “dynamic differentiated required reserve ratios” last year to keep a tighter leash on banks.

Higher reserves force banks to lock up more of their deposits at the central bank, inhibiting their ability to lend and slowing money growth. Excess cash in the economy has been one of the root causes of the run-up in Chinese inflation, which hit an annual pace of 4.9 percent in January, near a two-year high.

China had previously imposed differentiated reserve requirement ratios on banks as a way to punish rampant lending.

But a “dynamic differentiated” system marks a departure from the past because the central bank has been reviewing lenders’ balance sheets on an on-going basis and looking at a wider range of indicators, including lending, capital and liquidity levels.

Chinese inflation is expected to quicken in coming months as global commodity prices and domestic food costs climb.

Posted in Banking, China | No Comments »

China raises bank reserve to curb lending

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 18th February 2011

While this doesn’t actually work to curb lending, it does indicate that China continues to see inflation as a severe enough of a political problem to risk a serious slowdown. And while it’s not impossible, I’ve yet to see any nation succeed in cutting what they call inflation short of increasing their output gap- and most often with a dramatic slowdown.

So while the 9% of GDP US budget deficit continues to support modest GDP growth and only very modestly increasing employment, a combination that’s a pretty good environment for stocks, the risks outlined at year end continue to increase.

China continues to fight inflation which can soften thing sufficiently for a commodities retreat. The euro zone continues its austerity and is already showing sings of weakening domestic demand from levels that weren’t all that high. The US Congress continues to press for deficit reduction well before private sector credit growth is ready to take the hand off, and with all sides agreeing there’s a long term deficit problem there doesn’t seem to be much resistance.

It’s all deflationary, and I continue to watch for a strong dollar as a timing/cue to the potential global slowdown.
So far world crude prices hovering at just over $100/barrel are keeping the dollar in check, but doing so by bleeding off some US domestic demand.

China raises bank reserve to curb lending

February 18 (CNBC) — China ordered its banks Friday to hold back more money as reserves in a new move to curb lending and cool a spike in inflation.

The order raising reserves by 0.5 percent of deposits was the second such move this year by the central bank and followed six reserve increases in 2010. Reserves vary by institution but are about 20 percent for China’s biggest state-owned lenders.

Beijing is using a series of repeated, gradual hikes in interest rates and reserve levels to stanch a flood of lending that helped China rebound quickly from the global crisis but now is fueling pressure for prices to rise.

Inflation is politically dangerous for China’s communist leaders because it erodes economic gains on which they base their claim to power. Poor families are hit hardest in a society where some spend up to half their incomes on food and millions have seen little benefit from three decades of economic reform.

Posted in CBs, China, Government Spending | 16 Comments »

March 30 2009 post

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 17th February 2011

Here’s what I said back a couple of years ago.

Unfortunately, not much has changed (including my suggestion at the time in an earlier post that it was all a pretty good environment for stocks which could easily double).

Review of the recession and how to end it

March 30th, 2009

  1. The problem is suboptimal output and employment which is evidence of a lack of aggregate demand.
     
  2. Less important what caused the drop in aggregate demand
    • The end of the subprime expansion in 2006 reduced the demand for housing
       
    • The wind down of the one time Q2 2008 fiscal adjustment (Q2 2008 GDP was up 2.8%)
       
    • The Mike Masters inventory liquidation that began in July 2008 added supply from inventories, reducing output and employment
       
    • A shift in the propensity to spend due to the pro cyclical nature of credit worthiness

     

  3. My proposals for restoring aggregate demand:
    • A full payroll tax holiday – This tax is taking $1 trillion per year from workers and businesses struggling to make ends meet $1,000 per capita in revenue sharing for the States (approx. $300 billion total).
       
    • Federal funding for a $8 per hour full time job for anyone willing and able to work that includes federal health care.
       
    • Caveat – Unless our demand for motor fuel is cut in half, restoring aggregate demand will also empower the Saudis to set ever higher prices for crude oil which will cause our real terms of trade and standard of living to deteriorate.
       
    • Political options for reducing imported fuel consumption:
       

      • Regressive – utilizing allocation by price (Carbon tax, fuel taxes)
         
      • Closer to neutral – mandating higher fuel economy requirements for new vehicles, offering incentives to trade up to more fuel efficient vehicles
         
      • Progressive – substantially reducing speed limits to discourage driving and advantage public transportation

     

  4. Redirect banking to serve public purpose
    • Ban banks from all secondary markets.
       
    • Allow bank lending only to serve public purpose.
       
    • Do not use the liability side of banking for market discipline.

     

  5. Analysis of current situation
    • Our leaders believe they must first ‘get credit flowing again’ to restore output and employment.
       
    • Unfortunately the reverse is the case; restoration of output and employment will restore the flow of credit.
       
    • Government is removing about $1 trillion per year in payroll taxes from employees and employers who can’t meet their mortgage payments and wondering what is causing the financial crisis.
       
    • All moves to date by the Treasury and Federal Reserve have only served to shift financial assets between the public and private sectors. Nothing has directly added to aggregate demand.
       
    • Therefore the economy has continued to deteriorate, with only the ‘automatic stabilizers’ slowly adding financial assets and income to the private sector, as the counter-cyclical deficit rises.
       
    • The rate of federal deficit spending (not counting TARP and other shifting of financial assets that does not directly alter demand, as above) now exceeds 5% of GDP and seems to have begun moving the economy sideways.
       
    • The new fiscal package starts taking effect in April. While modest in size, it isn’t ‘nothing’ and will further support GDP.
       
    • Employment will not grow until real output of goods and services exceeds productivity growth.
       
    • Fuel prices are already moving higher.

     

  6. Conclusion
    • Leadership that doesn’t understand how the monetary system works has needlessly prolonged the recession and delayed the recovery.
       
    • They have put a premium on ‘confidence’ as the President spends countless hours in front of the TV cameras, when in fact loss of ‘confidence’ means only that federal taxes can be lower for a given level of federal spending:

      lower confidence = less private sector spending = less aggregate demand = lower taxes or higher federal spending to sustain output and employment

    • The headline USD trillions they have directed towards the financial sector has accomplished little or nothing beyond burning up expensive political capital and credibility.
       
    • They are in this way over their heads, and it’s costing us dearly.
       

Posted in Equities, GDP, Government Spending | 26 Comments »

MMT on MarketWatch

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 16th February 2011

MMT breaking through???

Deficit hysteria grips Washington

By Darrell Delamaide

February 16 (MarketWatch) — Deficit hysteria is rising to fever pitch in Washington as the political jockeying over the budget begins in earnest.

“Fiscal nightmare,” “buried under a mountain of debt,” “awash in red ink” – these are some of the colorful phrases being bandied about by politicians, pundits and even journalists ostensibly reporting facts. Most of them are winging it on a single undergraduate course in economics, if that, but they know they’re right because everybody agrees.

Yet, if you look out the window, you don’t see any red ink or mountains of debt. The only nightmare is unemployment continuing near 10% and ongoing waves of foreclosures – neither of which is attributable to the federal deficit and neither of which will be fixed by budget cuts.

There is no visible harm from current deficits. Yields on U.S. Treasurys are up a tick but still near historic lows. Core inflation in the U.S. is still so far below the 2% annual rate deemed desirable by the Federal Reserve that deflation continues to be more worrying. There is no crowding out of private borrowers in the debt markets.

Just you wait, cry the deficit hawks, it will be a nightmare by 2016 or 2020 or 2050. Well, let’s wait and see. If we put those 15 million people back to work and get the economy growing at a steady clip, tax revenues will rise and cheat all those bloodthirsty hawks of their fiscal Armageddon.

Worried? Confused? Alarmed at the slow-motion train wreck in Washington?

There is cause for alarm. There is the possibility that the government, held under the sway of misguided and obsolete economic theories and driven by a not-so-hidden corporate agenda, will make genuinely harmful cuts in both discretionary spending and entitlement programs – cuts that will cause real and needless misery to millions.

The overwrought hysteria of the deficit hawks – one economist calls them deficit terrorists – has already sabotaged government stimulus that could have rebooted the economy much more quickly and alleviated unemployment to a greater extent.

It’s certainly useful to comb through the budget and reexamine programs for possible cuts. Military spending can certainly be cut back. Some recalibration of entitlements is also necessary.

But the helter-skelter axing of programs to meet a target pulled out of thin air – what’s so magic about $100 billion in spending cuts this year? – risks causing much unnecessary harm.

Before you succumb to the deficit hysteria, think about the disconnect between the dire language and the observable facts. Be careful about false comparisons – such as the U.S. going the way of Greece.

The U.S. is not Greece. The U.S. has full monetary sovereignty – that is, it has complete control over its own currency. Greece, as a member of the euro, does not, which is why it has constraints on its borrowing.

When the U.S. was bound by the gold standard, it also faced constraints. Most of the thinking and language about budgets and deficits actually goes back to this time, when the U.S. genuinely had to “finance” its deficit.

Since abandonment of the gold standard and the de facto adoption of a fiat currency, however, these constraints no longer apply. The U.S. is free to print as much money as it likes; the U.S. government is free to spend money without financing it.

How crazy, you say. What about inflation? Inflation occurs when there is more demand than supply and this simply isn’t going to happen when there is 8-10% unemployment. Treasury and the Fed have ample tools – selling debt securities and raising interest rates – to deal with inflation when it does threaten.

Modern monetary theory – which is espoused by a growing number of economists and investment managers because it explains the observable facts better than the obsolete theories driving most of the public discussion – deals with the world as it is without a gold standard.

A better comparison for the U.S. than Greece is Japan, which also enjoys full monetary sovereignty. Japan has a public debt approaching 200% of GDP. This compares to the U.S. at 60% in 2010 and on its way up.

Deficit terrorists have decided arbitrarily that 60% is the maximum limit. They have been predicting the imminent collapse of Japan – for the past 20 years. And yet Japan continues to finance its deficit with rock-bottom interest rates.

The federal government is also not comparable to a household. It does not have a checkbook to balance or a credit card to max out, even though our folksy politicians like to use these metaphors. It does not have to “live within its means” like a family or individual. Our grandchildren will never have to repay all that debt. No one will, ever. It will continue to grow as our economy grows.

All this flies in the face of all the groupthink going on in Congress, in the press and on cable TV. So if you want to reject modern monetary theory as hogwash and cling to theories that worked a century ago, you’re in good company. But think about it, look around you, and decide for yourself what best describes the world you live in.

Posted in Deficit, Government Spending | 534 Comments »

10 year JGB vs 10 year US treasury, 10 year lag

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 15th February 2011

Because we believe we can be the next Greece, we continue to work to turn ourselves into the next Japan?

Japan’s surplus years were 1987-92, ours were about 10 years later from 1997 to 2001.

Both ended in stock market crashes and lower rates.

Posted in Bonds, Deficit, Government Spending | 12 Comments »

Nikkei/Nasdaq full graph

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 15th February 2011

Posted in Deficit, Equities, Government Spending, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Obama mortgage reform proposal

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 14th February 2011

If this is actually the jist of the proposals they make no sense to me.
For me the starting point is the question,
‘Is there public purpose supporting home ownership for lower income earners?’

Under current institutional arrangements, I’d say yes, and come up with an entirely different set of proposals, as I did
a while back for my website.

As is, looks to me like an obstacle to higher levels of output and employment.

Mortgage Costs to Rise As Government Lessens Role

February 11 (AP) — The Obama administration laid out three broad options Friday for reducing the government’s role in the mortgage market. All three would almost certainly lead to higher interest rates and costs for borrowers.

The administration said in a report that the government should withdraw its support for the mortgage market slowly, over five years or more. The report describes a path for winding down the troubled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

But rather than making a single recommendation, the administration offered Congress three scenarios and will let lawmakers shape the final policy.

The options are:

— No government role, except for existing agencies like the Federal Housing Administration.

— A government guarantee of private mortgages triggered only when the market is in trouble.

— Government insurance for a targeted range of mortgage investments that already are guaranteed by private insurers. The government guarantee would kick in only if those private companies couldn’t pay.

Posted in Housing, Obama | 27 Comments »

recaption of the day

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 14th February 2011

Gandhi disagreeing with Nehru on how low the unemployment rate can go without generating inflation.

Posted in Employment, Inflation | 17 Comments »

Valance Chartbook update- Weather or not the US is leveling off?

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 13th February 2011

Chart Book

Posted in BRIC, China, Deficit, Economic Releases, Fed, GDP, Inflation, Japan, Valance | 31 Comments »

New Drilling Method Opens Vast Oil Fields in US

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 10th February 2011

Might need to delay ‘peak oil’ a bit.

More interesting, I’d estimate it would take about a 5 million barrel a day ‘shift’ in net demand to dislodge the Saudis as swing producer, as they can only cut production by less than that much to sustain price should that happen.

In other words, a combination of increased non opec supply and reduced world demand of 5 million bpd would force a cut in production of that much for the Saudis to be able to continue to set price, from their current production level of about 8.5 million bpd.

And along with these ‘new drilling methods’ Iraq is looking to add over 5 million bpd in capacity over the next several years.

The question is what will happen with demand, and looks to me the US and Europe are starting to go the other way and reduce gasoline demand via conservation (higher mpg’s in vehicles) and shifting to alternative fuels, directly and indirectly.

So what’s the Saudi’s best move here?
Keep prices high a long as possible and get all the wealth they can before prices collapse?
Or cut price in an attempt to discourage the forces at work that are threatening their pricing power?

New Drilling Method Opens Vast Oil Fields in US

February 9 (AP) — A new drilling technique is opening up vast fields of previously out-of-reach oil in the western United States, helping reverse a two-decade decline in domestic production of crude.

Companies are investing billions of dollars to get at oil deposits scattered across North Dakota, Colorado, Texas and California. By 2015, oil executives and analysts say, the new fields could yield as much as 2 million barrels of oil a day—more than the entire Gulf of Mexico produces now.

This new drilling is expected to raise U.S. production by at least 20 percent over the next five years. And within 10 years, it could help reduce oil imports by more than half, advancing a goal that has long eluded policymakers.

“That’s a significant contribution to energy security,” says Ed Morse, head of commodities research at Credit Suisse .

Oil engineers are applying what critics say is an environmentally questionable method developed in recent years to tap natural gas trapped in underground shale. They drill down and horizontally into the rock, then pump water, sand and chemicals into the hole to crack the shale and allow gas to flow up.

Because oil molecules are sticky and larger than gas molecules, engineers thought the process wouldn’t work to squeeze oil out fast enough to make it economical. But drillers learned how to increase the number of cracks in the rock and use different chemicals to free up oil at low cost.

“We’ve completely transformed the natural gas industry, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we transform the oil business in the next few years too,” says Aubrey McClendon, chief executive of Chesapeake Energy, which is using the technique.

Petroleum engineers first used the method in 2007 to unlock oil from a 25,000-square-mile formation under North Dakota and Montana known as the Bakken. Production there rose 50 percent in just the past year, to 458,000 barrels a day, according to Bentek Energy, an energy analysis firm.

Posted in Comodities, Oil | 29 Comments »

Mortgage apps down

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 9th February 2011

Still no sign of private sector credit expansion from housing.

US Home Loan Demand Drops, Rates at 10-Month High

February 9 (Reuters) — Applications for U.S. home mortgages dropped last week as the highest interest rates in 10 months sapped demand for home loan refinancing, an industry group said Wednesday.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, fell 5.5 percent in the week ended Feb. 4.

The MBA’s seasonally adjusted index of refinancing applications fell 7.7 percent last week.

The gauge of loan requests for home purchases was down 1.4 percent.

Fixed 30-year mortgage rates averaged 5.13 percent in the week, up 32 basis points from 4.81 percent the prior week.

It was the highest rate since the week ended April 9, 2010.

Posted in Credit, Housing | 51 Comments »

U.K. Retail Sales Advance at Fastest Pace in 10 Months, BRC Says

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 9th February 2011

The deficit is still plenty large enough for a decent expansion, so the year end weather setbacks could be reversed and then some before sufficient austerity sets in and works to reverse it all.

Hard to figure the timing for the cross currents.

Also, opening the borders to wealthy foreigners, as they recently announced they were doing, is a clever move to firm the currency and support the economy and asset prices.

UK Headlines

U.K. Retail Sales Advance at Fastest Pace in 10 Months, BRC Says
U.K. Housing-Price Gauge Increased in January on Supply Shortage
Osborne Says U.K. Bank Levy Increase to Raise 800 Million Pounds

Posted in Government Spending, UK | 3 Comments »

Fiscal panel co-chair blasts critics as “jerks”

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 7th February 2011

History will not be kind to either Simpson or the equally out of paradigm headline critics who are equally responsible for losing this battle.

Fiscal panel co-chair blasts critics as “jerks”

February 6 (Reuters) — Any fiscal plan that fails to tackle military spending, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security is “a sparrow’s belch in the midst of a typhoon,” a chairman of a presidential deficit-reduction commission said in an interview aired on Sunday.

Former Senator Alan Simpson, Republican co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, also trashed certain critics as “jerks” and compared the United States to “a milk cow with 300 million teats.”

“If you have a career politician get up and say, ‘I know we can get this done; we’re going to get rid of all earmarks, all waste, fraud, and abuse, all foreign aid, Air Force one, all congressional pensions,’ that’s a sparrow’s belch in the midst of a typhoon,” Simpson told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

President Barack Obama created the bipartisan, 18-member commission to address fiscal challenges centered around a deficit of more than $1.3 trillion, the highest since World War Two, and a record federal debt now topping $14 trillion.

A bold budget-balancing plan floated by Simpson — long noted for earthy, sometimes off-color remarks — and his fellow co-chairman, Erskine Bowles, fell short in December of the support needed from panel members to trigger congressional action.

“So I’m waiting for the politician to get up and say, there’s only one way to do this, you dig into the big four: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and defense,” Simpson said. “And anybody giving you anything different than that, you want to walk out the door, stick your finger down your throat and give them the green weenie.”

Simpson and Bowles recommended Social Security benefit cuts via a higher retirement age, lower annual cost-of-living adjustments and a change in the way benefits are calculated.

“We’re not talking about privatization,” he said on CNN. “These jerks who keep dragging that up are lying. We never suggested that.”

Simpson served from 1979 to 1997 as a Senator from Wyoming. He had apologized in August for comparing Social Security to “a milk cow with 310 million teats.”

But in the interview he said he had merely misspoken.

“I meant to say that America was a milk cow with 300 million teats, and not just Social Security.”

Posted in Deficit, Government Spending, Political | 16 Comments »