Sunday, October 21, 2007

Economic Turpitude

Banks, hedge funds and what ever are taking billions of dollars in loan loss provisions. I have been suggesting for over a year, that a lot of this money may be coming from our retirement funds. Think about it. If your wife buys a new fur coat with your paycheck, now you can’t pay the rent, that is obvious very fast. If the wife turned a trick with the old geezer down stairs and bought the coat, you are stuck wondering how she did it. The reason I suggest Retirement funds, is that the losses suffered so far appear to affect no one. But bear in mind, retirement income funds deal with the future. Most people are not ready to retire so these funds should have plenty of time to recover losses (keep quiet, keep your job). The write downs are massive. Nobody even blinks an eye. What’s a 10 billion dollar loss? The perspective is beyond comprehension. This money has to be coming from somewhere. Whoever’s money it is, they don’t seem to need it--yet.

The money supply worldwide seems to be contracting. Usually this would imply a rise in interest rates. That doesn’t seem to be happening. Commodities are increasing in value, which could be an inflation indicator. If reserves are being added to the banking system, then this could explain why rates are not rising (using a truck is cheaper than using Ben's helicopter).

A lot of the new earned money entering into the economy is not being used to create new jobs, its being “invested” in financial instruments. Workers are not creating new product, investors are placing side bets on the financial markets. The profit is gone from home building industry. Investment in rental property is a losing enterprise. Consumption seems to be tapering off. Home remodeling appears to have hit the skids. Starbucks seems to be doing OK, you have to draw the line somewhere.

Interest rates are dropping but you can't force people to borrow money unless there is some sort of return (like a house appreciating at 20% a year). That would explain why the stock market as well as the commodity’s markets are still in play. Cramer the other night was forecasting Google at $750. Everything is still going up. The stock market had a little hiccup on Friday. Nothing to worry about, Google kept on ticking just like a Timex watch. Of course it can’t be a bubble, bubbles don’t get that big!

You have a bunch of banks forming a consortium to bail out the CDO and SIV holders . They are creating a new financial instrument called a "USA," which is short for “Up in Smoke Assets.” It ought to be a hot item if they can figure out a way to package it. It’s kind of like selling invisible goldfish. Give the buyer one or two extra for free, so he thinks he’s getting a real bargain and sell him some invisible fish food to boot.

The economy’s current condition reminds me of the embezzler and a millionaire taking a vacation at the same resort. The embezzler knows whose money he is spending. The millionaire has no idea that he is broke, but hey, everyone is having fun. Are we broke yet?


Anonymous said...

Hey Jim, hope you are alright out there, seen the fires on TV. I don`t know how close you are to the fires, but I was thinking that San Marcos is close to San Diego. Be careful.

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi Anon

Thank you for your concern

Poway was bad yesterday. Winds have tapered off quite a bit this morning. There is a lot of smoke North of us. Visibility is 1/2 of a mile but no fire yet. The cars are packed if we get asked to evacuate. The eerie thing about fires like this is the ash that rains down from miles away.

I think we will be OK


Thanks for the interesting blog, I am posting this item to my blog tomorrow.

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi Eugene

Glad you liked it enough to post.

I hope no one takes me seriously on the creation of a USA (Up in Smoke Asset). A little humor goes a long way.

Take care