Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Listen to my friday October 12, 2018 Alternative Visions radio show on this past week’s US and global stock decline–the worst since last February’s. Is this second sharp decline a harbinger of more serious contractions to come? Or another ‘dead cat bounce’ similar to last February’s? (see this blog for the February 2018 prediction it would be a ‘dead cat bounce’, with a recovery followed by a second major correction. The US and global economies have become even more fragile since February (stocks, global bond rout, emerging markets’ currency crises and IMF bailouts, China stocks and asset management markets in decline, and non-performing bank loans in India, junk bond leverage problems, non-financial corp defaults beginning to emerge in US, Europe and Asia, etc.

Listen to my latest assessment of the global condition.

GO TO

http://prn.fm/alternative-visions-us-global-stock-markets-plunge-whats-next/

OR GO TO:

http://alternativevisions.podbean.com

SHOW ANNOUNCEMENT

Today’s Alternative Visions show focuses on the past week’s turmoil and decline in US and global stocks (Japan, EME, China, Europe), as Fed rate hikes and the ‘wall of money’ tsunami provided to investors by the Fed and Congress since 2008 now begins to recede. Dr. Rasmus explains why US stock and financial markets accelerated to record levels between 2009-2018 (i.e. Fed $5T plus QE free money, 6 years of near zero interest rates, $1T year in corporate bond issuance, another $1T a year in corporate stock buybacks and dividend payouts, a tripling of corporate profits, $15T in tax cuts for businesses and investors from Bush to Trump—have all converged driving up stock prices. Now investors realize, except for Trump tax cut subsidy to profits (20% this year), all the other ‘drivers’ of stock prices will decline in 2019 and after. Rasmus explains further how structural changes in stock markets (ETFs, passive investing, dark pools, algo trading, etc.) have exacerbated the US stock run-up, but will now accelerate the stock declines as well. Other related discussion in the show focuses on the IMF bailouts of Argentina, Pakistan and IMF’s coming funding crisis, Italy’s new government’s break from EU austerity rules, and latest developments in Trump’s US-China trade war.

Advertisements

Listen to my Alternative Visions radio show this friday, October 12, at 2pm eastern time on the Progressive Radio Network. The lead topic will the steep plunge in US stocks (DOW down 831 pts yesterday; NASDAQ and S&P 500 more). Over night even bigger declines in Japan, Hong Kong, and China’s stocks worst day since its 2015 crash.

Trump growing worried and attacking the Fed again. Pakistan joining Argentina and asking the IMF for a big bailout. (Other EMEs soon to follow). Italy’s government drawing a line in the sand with the EU, as Italian bonds deteriorate more rapidly. Sears announces bankruptcy (other retail to follow) and GE in trouble. Watch for defaults on the rise as financial assets continue to decline. CHina refusing to bow to Trump threats of more trade war. IMF warning Trump as US tariffs start to bite into US and global growth, as Fed rates rise and US inflation accelerates while US autos and construction now hitting a wall.

Here’s some of my quick tweets of yesterday on the stock-financial instability emerging:

#Fed lock in your fixed income investments by year end. One more Fed rate hike coming, at best maybe two. Fed will over-react and fall behind the curve, as it always has raising rates too fast, too high, and reversing too late, too slow. That’s its history.

##DOW Profits up 20% over 2017. Trump $4T tax cuts 2018 add profits windfall 20%. So no real growth 2018. Markets know: 2019 profits will fall, Fed rates rising, oil costs up, Trump artificial tax windfall over, EMEs in crisis, China slowing, etc. I repeat: US recession late 2019

#Stockmarket DOW drops 831 pts today. NASDAQ-S&P proportionally even more. As I’ve been predicting, Fed rate hikes to 2.75% (now 2.25%) will precipitate financial asset mkts big decline. Looks like 2.5% may even be enough. Recovery will occur, then decline sharper coming weeks.

By Jack Rasmus
Copyright 2018

Liberals and the left were shocked by the Kavanaugh confirmation this past weekend. They may experience an even greater shock to their political consciousness should the Democrats fail to take the House in the upcoming midterm elections.

The traditional media has been promoting the message that a ‘blue wave’ will occur on November 6. Polls as evidence are being published. The Democratic Party is pushing the same theme, to turn out the vote. But these are the same sources that in 2016, on the eve of that election, predicted Trump would get only 15% of the popular vote and experience the worse defeat ever in a presidential election! Should we believe their forecasting ability has somehow radically improved this time around?

Anecdotal examples, in New York City and elsewhere in deep Democrat constituencies, are not sufficient evidence of such a ‘wave’. Especially given the apparent successes underway of Republic-Right Wing efforts to suppress voter turnout elsewhere, where House seats must be ‘turned’ for Democrats to achieve a majority in the House once again. (See, for example, Greg Palast’s most recent revelation of voting roll purging going on in Georgia, which is no doubt replicated in many other locales).

Should the Democrats clearly win enough seats to take over control of the US House of Representatives on November 6, liberals and progressives may be further disappointed. Democrat party leaders will most likely talk about impeachment, make some safe committee moves toward it, but do little to actually bring it about in the coming year. What they want is to keep that pot boiling and leverage it for 2020 elections. Such prevarication and timidity, so typical of Democrat leadership in recent decades, will almost certainly have the opposite intended effect on liberal-left voter consciousness. Voters will likely retreat from voting Democrat even more in 2020 should Democrat Party leaders merely ‘talk the talk’ but not walk.

Conversely, should the Dems fail to take the House a month from now, an even deeper awareness will settle in that the Democratic Party is incapable of winning again in 2020. Even fewer still may therefore turn out to vote next time, assisted by an even more aggressive Republican-Trump effort to deny the right to vote than already underway.

In short, a Democrat party failure to recover the US House of Representatives next month will have a debilitating effect on consciousness for the Democrat base that will no doubt reverberate down the road again. So too will a timid, token effort to proceed toward impeachment should the Democrats win next month.

But a takeover of the House by Democrats will result in an even greater, parallel consciousness bombshell—only this time on the right. Bannon, Breitbart, and their billionaire money bags (Mercers et. al.) are already preparing to organize massive grass roots demonstrations and protests to scare the Democrats into inaction so far as impeachment proceedings are concerned. And it won’t take much to achieve that retreat by Democrat party leaders.

The recent Kavanaugh affair is right now being leveraged by Trump and the far right to launch a further attack on civil liberties and 1st amendment rights of assembly and protest. Trump tweets are providing the verbal ‘green light’ to go ahead. Kavanaugh has become an organizational ‘cause celebre’ to mobilize the right to turn out their vote. The plans are then to take that mobilization one step further, however, after the midterm elections.

Plans are in the works for Bannon and friends for a mobilization of the right to continue post November 6, should the Dems take the House. They’re just warming up with the Kavanaugh affair. Demonstrations celebrating Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court win are just a dress rehearsal—first to turn out the vote but then to defend Trump in the streets if the Democrats actually take the House.

The public protests and demonstrations on the right will aim to intimidate House Democrats, should they win, but will also serve as counter demonstrations to attack protestors demonstrating for impeachment.

Either way—should the Republicans retain the House or the Democrats take it—a sea change in US political consciousness will occur once again this November, as it did in November 2016. And should the Democrats take the House, political instability will almost certainly intensify in the US, as the developing political crisis will ‘move to the streets’.

The 2016 election and events of the past two years wrenched the consciousness of many Americans about how the US system works. The myths have fallen by the wayside, one by one in the intervening two years. The belief that somehow the sane leaders appointed to Trump’s initial cabinet would somehow control him or the Republicans in the Senate keep him in check have both dissipated.

Trump has purged them from his administration, or they have dropped out of running for Congress again as the well-financed, pro-Trump, right wing local machine has promoted right wing candidates to run against them. Trump has been successfully reconstituting the Republican party increasingly in his far right image. The myth that Trump will ‘tear up NAFTA’ and bring manufacturing jobs back is now debunked. Or that he will end the wars in the Middle East. The list is long.

Democrats in the meantime have continued to show their strategic ineffectiveness and tactical ineptness in dealing with Trump. Their party leaders have shown more concern, and success, in keeping Bernie Sanders and his supporters at bay, as witnessed by the recent Democrat Party measures that keep their ‘superdelegates’ barrier to party reform in place while giving the chair of the Democratic Party the power to veto any candidate to run on its ticket who may win a primary in the future. Nor have they adopted an effective program to win back the working class, the loss of which in key Midwestern states in 2016 cost them the 2016 election. The latter not surprising, given that the central committee of the party is composed of more than 100 corporate lobbyists and CEOs. Promoting ‘identity politics’ has become the mantra—not programs to restore good jobs, ensure wages, protect retirement, defend union rights, push Medicare for All, and similar class-based demands.

Whether right or ‘left’ prevails in the upcoming November midterms, a few things are certain:

First, political consciousness, both right and left, will likely undergo another major shift, and perhaps on a scale close to that which occurred in 2016.

Second, the midterm elections will be used by the Bannons, Breitbarts, Mercers and others on the far right as an opportunity to mobilize the grass roots into a more centralized right wing movement. Initially for purposes of voter turnout, that organization, centralization, and mobilization will expand into the post-midterm US political landscape.

Third, more intimidation, more threats, and even now confrontations between left and right in the streets is a real possibility in the years to come in Trump’s remaining two years in office. (And the Republicans and the right will now own the police and the courts and will thus have a decided advantage in protests and demonstrations).

Increasingly, US intellectuals, artists, and even experienced old-guard politicians, who were once eye-witnesses in their early years, have begun to see parallels about what’s happening now in the US with past origins of fascist movements. Up to now, however, one especially important element of fascist politics has been missing in the US, although its ugly head has been peering above the horizon since 2016. That element is a grass roots movement of fascist-like supporters, activists and sympathizers, whose main task is to confront, intimidate, and violently discourage demonstrations and protests against their leader (Trump) personally, and in support of democratic rights under attack and the exercise of civil liberties in general.

The emergence of just such a right wing grass roots movement, better organized and well financed, and willing to engage in violent confrontations against other protestors and demonstrators in the streets, may soon be upon us. Should the Democrats win in November and launch impeachment proceedings the phenomenon will quickly appear. But even if Democrats prevaricate (the more likely scenario), the right is preparing to mobilize nonetheless. Their response to the Kavanaugh affair shows how much they’re ‘itching’ to do so. And should the Democrats win the House, their development will become even more evident.

Jack Rasmus
October 8, 2018

Jack is author of the forthcoming book, ‘The Scourge of Neoliberalism: US Policy from Reagan to Trump’, Clarity Press, as well as ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes’, Clarity Press, August 2017. He blogs at jackrasmus.com and tweets at @drjackrasmus. His website is: http://kyklosproductions.com

Listen to my October 5, 2018 Alternative Visions radio show for my discussion of the growing global instability, driven by Fed rate hikes and bond selloff underway. The likely weakest points of future contagion. Also, my analysis of Trump’s phony deal with Canada and Mexico, the China ‘microchip’ affair, and US NATO threats to send missiles into Russia to ‘take out’ their bases.

To Listen GO TO:

http://prn.fm/alternative-visions-global-economic-instability-rising-trumps-nafta-2-o/

Or GO TO:

http://alternativevisions.podbean.com

SHOW ANNOUNCEMENT

With the US Fed rate hikes accelerating, and US and global bond selloff accelerating this past week, Dr. Rasmus looks at signs of growing financial instability in the US and abroad. Bond interest rates accelerating and more Fed rate hikes coming. The impact intensifying again on emerging market economies. Stock markets and recessions deepening. Italian bonds and banks (+ Euro, Greek, Turkey, India banks). Signs of corporate default problems rising (India’s IL&FS, GE, Deutsche bank, etc.). US hedge funds closing shop. Junk bond ‘zombie’ companies’ problems rolling over debt as rates rise. Pension funds. Corporate ETFs, Argentina and IMF, US deficits and debt (including $900 billion in interest on US debt prediction by CBO). Global financial asset prices beginning to turn and decline. Rasmus next discusses the phony trade agreements with Mexico and Canada. The coming intensifying trade war with China. The mysterious China ‘microchip’ affair (the new ‘yellow cake’?) as pretext for conflict with China. And while preoccupied with Kavanaugh affair, US NATO ambassador threatens to send US missiles to ‘take out’ Russian missile bases, while US threatens to attack Russian air bases in Syria. (For more on topics, go to jackrasmus.com blog).

The New York Times released a lengthy feature story article yesterday on how Trump was given hundreds of millions of dollars ($413) from his daddy Trump–contradicting Trump’s claim he built his New York property empire on a ‘mere’ $1 million given him by his father. The NYT article reveals how the super rich manipulate the tax system (gift, estate, and, in particular, real estate tax loopholes) to transfer millions to their offspring.

Listen to my explanation how the ‘big 3’ institutions of Congress, Corporations, and private Family Foundations enable the transfer–legally and often fraudulently (in the case of Trump)–of millions and billions of dollars among family members.

Congress has passed more than $14 trillion in tax cuts–mostly to corporations, investors and wealthiest 1% households–since 2001. As part of their share of the $14T, US corporations have been transferring more than a $1 trillion a year in the form of stock buybacks and dividend payments to their shareholders since 2010 (this year’s totals will be more than $1.3 trillion), as corporate and business profits have doubled and tripled since 2010. Studies show 49% of Trump’s 2018 massive tax cuts (totaling $4 to $5 trillion over next decade) are going into stock buybacks and dividend payouts. (The remainder directed to mergers & acquisitions and cash hoarding, with only 4% to 7% going to wages for their workers, according to just released Mercer LLC, Just Capital, and other business research sources)–awith most of that going to one time bonuses, pension contributions, and other non-wage forms in which senior management largely benefit.

Trump’s tax cuts for corporations, non-corporate business and wealthy investors means wealthiest 1% households and investors now keep trillions of dollars more for themselves. They then plow back much of it into stocks and other financial markets worldwide, making themselves still richer.

Private Foundations are a key institution to ‘keep the money in the family’, moving it around between family members to avoid and defraud paying taxes. My main point in the radio interview: while the NYT article reveals how income was transferred from ‘daddy Trump’ to ‘the Donald’ boy Trump in the 80s and 90s, it fails to go deeper and expose how Foundations for the wealthy in general all do the same–serving as tax avoiding (and tax-defrauding) slush funds for the rich.

Listen to ‘Loud & Clear’ radio discussion yesterday, in which I participated.

GO TO:

https://www.spreaker.com/user/radiosputnik/how-trump-amassed-his-fortune-an-insight

Trump yesterday announced the USA-Canada trade agreement, less than a week after the USA-Mexico changes to NAFTA. Like Mexico, the Canada deal is minor changes to auto quotas that will have no impact on Canada’s current 2 million auto exports to the US. No changes in the trade dispute mechanism Trump previously declared was non-negotiable. Only a 3.5% increase in US dairy farmers sales into Canada. No changes to steel tariffs, etc. Hardly a ‘I’ll tear up NAFTA if elected’ Trump campaign promise. The big change: cross out the word NAFTA and replace it with ‘USMCA’.

The Canada-USA deal replicates the agreement last week with Mexico. Again no change to steel imports. A ‘side letter’ with Mexico freezing US tariffs, as is, for the term of the new deal, in exchange for Mexico raising auto workers wages to $16/hr.–sometime in the future (and on only 40% of auto workers)–and token increase in north american content from 62.5% to 75%.

NAFTA changes reflect Trump’s phony trade war with US trading allies. USMCA a repeat of USA-So. Korea softball deal of several months ago (signed last week). Trump suspended threats on Europe tariffs and lifted them on Brazil and others as well. So where’s the ‘Trade War’? It’s with China and is coming.

Meanwhile, Trump gets to engage in typical bombast, hyperbole, misrepresentation and lies to his domestic political base about how he’s making trading allies ‘cave in’ to his demands. Only that’s what is not happening at all.

For more of my commentary, listen to the ‘Critical Hour’ radio show (first 18 minutes) of October 2, 2018,

GO TO:

https://sputniknews.com/radio_the_critical_hour/201810021068504114-usmca-nafta-kavanaugh/

Trump’s ‘trade war’ with allies, including Mexico-Canada, was and remains a phony trade war. A war of words for the purpose of consumption of Trump’s domestic political base before the November midterm elections. Trump has been playing his ‘economic nationalism’ card that helped win him his election once again. A US-Mexico deal last Friday, and the US-Canada deal announced today, confirm little that’s different in the NAFTA free trade agreement. Trump will exaggerate and lie about both to his domestic political base, but the terms of both the Mexican and Canadian trade deals will show hardly any change.

US-Mexico Trade Details Before Final Document

As with So. Korea, an early look at the Mexico-US deal late last week showed token changes on autos and steel. No tariffs, just phony quotas on car imports to US. (Trump has recently also quietly exempted other big steel importers to the US (Brazil, etc. from the 25% tariffs he announced last March). Mexico deal details will show few if any tariffs, some quotas well above current actual levels so they have no effect, and the US-Trump backing off the threat to change how disputes are resolved over trade issues. Trump essentially agreeing to the Mexico (and Canada) positions that no changes should be made to the past process.

Mexico has apparently not agreed to slow imports of autos and steel to the US. Just to raise North American auto parts content to 75% from 62.5%, and to raise Mexican auto workers wages to $16/hr. (but only on 40% of Mexican auto workers)!

Mexico is also bragging of a ‘side deal’ with US also just signed, outside NAFTA, in which current tariffs get locked in for years to come.

In other words, the US-Mexico agreement is A PHONY TRADE DEAL–just like So. Korea! (Canada will now fall into the same deal. All the talk about separate agreements for Mexico and Canada has collapsed. It has always been just a smokescreen by Trump).

Canada-US Deal Early Look

Late in the day news for Sunday, Sept. 30, is that US and Canada just agreed to a trade deal, with Canada remaining with Mexico in NAFTA. No change in the NAFTA dispute settlement mechanism.Canada agrees to let US diary farmers access a whopping 3.5% of its market (offset by Canadian price subsidies to them for the 3.5%).
On Autos, Canada agrees to not export more than 2.6 million cars to the US. But Canada only importing 2 million now, so it raise imports another 600,000. Moreover, the 2.6m quota takes effect only if US imposes 25% auto tariffs on Canada and globally as well in the future–which it will never do.So no tariffs on autos or steel from Canada. ANd the auto quotas are fictitious.

According to Reuters news service, “The quota (2.6m) would allow for significant growth in tariff-free automotive exports from Canada above current production levels of about 2 million units”. And apparently no change in Canada steel and aluminum imports to the US: “the deal failed to resolve US tariffs on Canada’s steel and aluminum exports, the Canadian Sources said”. What that means is that Canada keeps importing steel and aluminum to US as before.

Deals show that Trump is desperate to sign something before the November elections, as a show of his ‘economic nationalism’ and ‘America First’ themes. So now So. Korea, Mexico and Canada have agreed to softball deals with the US to changes in their free trade agreements with the US. (Meanwhile Trump backs off threats to Europe and quietly exempts other economies like Brazil from his previously announced steel and aluminum tariffs last March).

Canada and Mexico stock markets surging on the news, and the currencies are rising in the wake of the news of deals reached on trade with both by Trump.

For my 10 minute interview on US-Mexico deal, listen to my Loud & Clear Radio interview last friday, Sept. 28. Go To:

https://www.spreaker.com/user/radiosputnik/u-s-mexico-trade-agreement-to-be-release

Check out this blog again in the next 24-48 hours for more details on the Canada-US deal.
And compare the details for both against Trump’s 2016 election ‘bombast and bullshit’ about ‘tearing up the NAFTA trade agreement if elected’. And bringing jobs from Mexico and Canada back to the US.
Dr. Jack Rasmus

Sept. 30, 2018, 11:30pm