Especially of CEOs who parachute into the executive office. Wall Street’s knee-jerk reaction can be phenomenal. Citigroup’s massacre of 11,000 souls caused its stock to jump. But the same day, we learn that wages adjusted for inflation dropped 1.4% in the third quarter—a continuation of 12 years of declines that has hollowed out the middle class, pushed people into the lower classes, and devastated the poor.
The inexplicable American consumer, the strongest creature out there that no one has been able to subdue yet, has come to grips with a new reality, euphemistically called “New Normal,” though it isn’t normal by any means, but dismal. Feeling more upbeat, they nudged up the Consumer Confidence Index to a level not seen since February 2008—a level that caused people to tear their hair out at the time.
Dizzying QE gobbledygook is upon us once again. It would restart its big 480-volt money printer, in addition to the desktop machine it had been using recently, the Fed said, in order “to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at the rate most consistent with its dual mandate,” namely “maximum employment and price stability.” Thus, more inflation magically creates more jobs, and “price stability” requires more inflation in order to become more … stable maybe?
It’s been an unrelenting process. Survey after survey has shown that wages haven’t kept up with inflation since the wage peak in 2000. Families earned less at the end of the decade than at the beginning, a phenomenon not seen since World War II—the process of hollowing out the middle class. But now there is a new phenomenon: the unmentionable class, the class that doesn’t exist in America, is ballooning.
Contributed by Bianca Fernet. The winter weather is not the only thing chilling the bones of Argentina’s residents. Since late July, a new set of words has been showing up in the articles about the economy. Shrinks. Slows. Stagflation. These chilling terms are being used to describe the consequences of what some nasty looking economic indicators might have in store. Argentina, an alternative path for indebted Eurozone countries? Not so fast!
The strongest and toughest creatures out there that no one has been able to subdue yet, the inexplicable American consumers, are digging in their heels though the entire power structure has been pushing them relentlessly to buy more and more with money they don’t have, and borrow against future income they might never make, just so that GDP can edge up for another desperate quarter. But it’s been tough.
“Ugly” doesn’t even describe it. I’m not talking about today’s ISM index of US Manufacturing, which was quite ugly, dropping to the worst level since 2009; and whose all-important New Orders index was beyond ugly. And I’m not talking about today’s Global Manufacturing PMI, which was truly ugly, seeing its lowest level since June 2009. These are volatile indices that might turn around on a dime, though that appears to be wishful thinking.
Contributed by Bianca Fernet. When I first moved to Argentina, I would joke endlessly about the little old ladies in line at the supermarket who would issue a constant stream of complaints regarding the price of meat. To me, this seemed ludicrous. The price of meat was low compared to what I was used to in the States. Over time however, these abuelas have come to represent for me a transformation.
Jens Weidmann, President of the German Bundesbank, ventured into a veritable lion’s den with an interview in Le Monde, largest liberal daily in France, supporter of President François Hollande and his “growth” policies. And there, he lashed out at Hollande, the ECB, Greece, at everything that smelled of a transfer union, at Paul Krugman even.
Newly appointed French Minister of Economy, Finance, and Trade, Pierre Moscovici surprised the world: “A country that indebts itself is a country that impoverishes itself,” he said and proclaimed that the government would cut the deficit because “public debt is an enemy for the country.” Powerful words, reasonable and refreshing. What a difference from what we’re getting dished up in the America.