October 25: Daily Contrarian Reads

Americans Have More Debt Than Ever—-And It’s Creating an Economic Trap

A scary little statistic is buried beneath the US economy’s apparent stability: Consumer-debt levels are now well above those seen before the Great Recession. As of June, US households were more than half a trillion dollars deeper in debt than they were a year earlier, according to the latest figures from the Federal Reserve. Total household debt now totals $12.84 trillion — also, incidentally, about two-thirds of gross domestic product….Most consumers, especially those in the bottom 80%, are tapped out,” he told Business Insider. “They have borrowed about as much as they can. Servicing this debt will act like a wet towel on economic growth for years to come. Until wages can grow faster than our true costs of inflation, this problem will only worsen.”

The Baleful Legacy of Central Bank Bubble Finance—–Massive Windfalls To The Top of The Economic Ladder

The total U.S. household net worth….. has steadily gone up, hitting fresh all time highs with every new release, most recently $96.2 trillion, to widespread cheers from both the financial press and the public, as well as the administration. ……However, as we show every quarter, this aggregate number is largely meaningless in providing a status update on the financial state of the broader US population, as it masks a gaping chasm between the haves, or the top 10% of US society – those who benefit the most from this mostly financial-asset based increase in net worth, and the have nots, or bottom 90%, who remain largely locked out from such gains.

What Supply-Side Tax Cut? House GOP Planning To Leave 39.6% Rate Unchanged For $1 Million+ Earners

…..Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee are hashing out the finer points of tax reform. And in keeping with the spirit of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s promise that the lopsided nature of the proposal’s cuts (which allocated 80% of the benefits to the top 1% of earners) would be corrected in committee, a group of House Republicans are considering a radical proposal that brings them into direct conflict with Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, who the group derisively refer to as “the Democrats.” Axios reports that House Republicans are exploring not cutting the income tax rate for people who earn $1 million or more per year.

What The Robo-Machines Are Actually Doing—–Painting The Tape With The Longest Streak Ever Without A 3% Correction

The index has now gone 33 consecutive sessions without a 0.5% daily decline, which is the longest streak since 1995. The index’s average daily change on an absolute basis so far this year has been only 0.30%, the smallest since 1965. The index has closed lower 1% or more only four times—the fewest for a full year since 1964.

Mind The Bond Pits—-US Treasury Rates Hit Nine-Year Highs

……In fact, the moves in Treasury yields for maturities up to two years have been fairly consistent: yields have been surging. On Friday, the three-month Treasury yield rose to 1.11%, the highest since the brief spike around July 25, when the debt ceiling issue hit a speed bump. At the time the thinking was that in late September – when these securities would mature and the government would have to come up with the money to redeem them – the government might not be able to come up with enough money due to the debt ceiling. But this scare passed, the debt ceiling was extended temporarily, and the trajectory of the three-month yield returned to normal. Except for this spike, the three-month yield, at 1.11%, is now at the highest level since October 20, 2008 (let’s remember that date, it keeps cropping up).

Murray Rothbard: Mises’s True Heir

In fact, Rothbard’s scholarly works have continued to pour forth to this very day, over twenty-two years after his untimely death. His latest book, The Progressive Era, a 500-page tome expertly edited by Professor Patrick Newman, was just published this month by the Mises Institute. This work bids fair to be the definitive study of the political and economic origins and consequences of that tragic epoch in American history. But let us not forget the flood of other posthumous books by Rothbard, which include…..

Crisis, What Crisis? Banks Pile Back Into China

That said, it’s odd that banks would think China is getting debt under control even as they provide more of it. Although the accumulation has slowed in some areas, it has boomed in households and elsewhere. By one early-warning measure — the difference between the current and long-term levels of business and household credit as a share of gross domestic product, also known as the credit gap — China and Hong Kong are still by far the riskiest countries tracked by the BIS. Here’s a top 10 ranking.

The Strange World of Russian ‘Trolls’

Russia “causing divisiveness” is a common theme of American politicians and media. Never explained is WHY? What does Russia have to gain by Americans being divided? Do they think the Russians are so juvenile? Or are the Americans the childish ones? CNN on Oct. 12 claimed that Russia uses YouTube, Tumblr and the Pokemon Go mobile game “to exploit racial tensions and sow discord among Americans,” while the Washington Post (Oct. 12) reported that “content generated by Russian operatives was not aimed only at influencing the election. Many of the posts and ads intended to divide Americans over hot-button issues such as immigration or race.”….Imagine … the American public being divided over immigration and race … How could that be possible without Russian trolls?

Uncle Sam: The Ultimate Gun Nut

…..But when it comes to gun nuts, can any one individual super-owner ever compare to the gargantuan gun-nut known as “Uncle Sam”? Just like the disproportionate arsenal held by America’s corps of one-man armies, super-owning Uncle Sam represents about 4.4 percent of the world’s population but accounts for over one-third of the planet’s total military spending. And like Paddock during his pre-attack buying binge, Uncle Sam keeps adding to his already ample collection.

Clinton, Assange and The War on Truth

Wading through the Clinton book, What Happened, is an unpleasant experience, like a stomach upset. Smears and tears. Threats and enemies. “They” (voters) were brainwashed and herded against her by the odious Donald Trump in cahoots with sinister Slavs sent from the great darkness known as Russia, assisted by an Australian “nihilist,” Julian Assange.