On Monday morning Sentier Research announced the results of its new study showing changes in household income since the year 2000 and how those incomes have fared both during the recent recession and since the recovery that began in June, 2009. Not only did household income (which counts all incomes of all members of the household, including wages, Social Security payments, interest, dividends, welfare checks, retirement income, unemployment benefits, and veterans’ benefits, all adjusted for inflation) decline during the recession by 3.2 percent, it fell another 6.7 percent during the recovery.
America at the end of WWII produced 60 percent of all the petroleum in the world. In fact, its status as the chief exporter of oil (the United States produced much more than the consumer and war economies needed) was a salient factor in the American victory. Interestingly, at one point the nation produced so much oil and gas that natural gas was “flared” or burned away because it was not economical to transport it. Once, in the lifetime of many Americans, filling stations engaged in “price wars” and sold gas at or near cost to consumers.
Last Friday Laksman Achuthan (left), co-founder of Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI), announced that not only has the economy entered a new recession, but that “it’s going to get a lot worse. The vicious cycle is starting where lower sales, lower production, lower employment and lower income [leads] back to lower sales … you haven’t seen anything yet.” Despite some evidence that the economy is growing in places, it’s not enough to overcome the significant array of indicators that Achuthan has used successfully for years to predict the economy. According to The Economist, ECRI has never issued a “false alarm,” and this time should be no different.
On Thursday, Bank of America announced that, starting the first of the year, they would be charging debit card users $5 a month for the privilege as a way to recoup lost income under new rules from the Federal Reserve.
With the announcement from the Commerce Department that the sale of new homes in August fell by 2.3 percent compared to July, the Los Angeles Times took on a decidedly gloomy tone, concluding, “Sales of newly built homes in the U.S. appear to be stuck at the bottom.” The report noted that the August numbers translated into an annual rate of 295,000 sales, which is close to the low of 278,000 recorded in August last year, and down from the 1.3 million new homes sold in 2005.
Our nation stands at the precipice of an economic meltdown that would make the current recession seem like the “best of times.” The almighty dollar, once labeled “good as gold,” stands close to repudiation. Yet the Obama administration and congressional leaders are failing to address the reason for the dollar’s decline.
Despite the government's increased creation of money, new federal regulations that stifle companies and cause additional costs, and proposed new taxes, some businesses are pushing ahead with business-as-usual, leading to an uptick in the economy — at least in the short term. The shipping of materials used in industrial production by rail in the United States grew last month to the highest level since October 2008, with Union Pacific enjoying its strongest weekly volume so far this year. UP Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Robert Knight said he continues to see “solid demand” across most business segments, with shipments of industrial products increasing by eight percent annually.
Former President Bill Clinton says Obama’s approach to taming the federal deficit "is a little confusing" and suggests that raising taxes would blockade any efforts to revive the stale U.S. economy. During an interview with Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy in New York, where Clinton held the 10th annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, the former President discussed political topics such as climate change, tax policy, and government regulations. He also mentioned the possibility of his wife, Hillary, running for President in 2016, naming her "the ablest person in my generation."
As the nation continues to struggle with a prolonged economic slump and an unemployment rate that remains stubbornly above nine percent, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker has warned the Fed against the temptation to jeopardize price stability in an effort to jumpstart the economy. Even "a little inflation" can be dangerous, Volcker warned in an op-ed piece in Monday's New York Times. Volcker noted "a sense of desperation" abroad in the land, since "both monetary and fiscal policy have almost exhausted their potential, given the size of the fiscal deficits and the already extremely low level of interests rates.
Anyone who watches television news for more than a few hours is likely to see an advertisement for gold. As the Federal Reserve continues to print fiat money in vast quantities — backed by nothing except the vague promise that this paper is legal tender and can be used to pay all debts public and private — people are increasingly looking for something of real value. And that something is gold.