Saturday, July 20, 2013

How does $1 gasoline sound?

The Federal Reserve announced in the Friday news dump a one sentence statement saying that they are going to review the 2003 decision allowing banks to trade in commodities. This is the biggest news since Obama signed the Affordable Care Act. It could fundamentally change the future of the United States. Of course there is still time for nothing to happen. The thing about the Fed is that they don't make announcements about stuff until it's basically a fait accompli, but still we must wait and see.

Friday, July 19, 2013

You can do a lot in 35 years, or not

New unemployment claims dropped by 24,000 to 334,000 putting the job outlook back in to what is considered a good place in our post-Bush economy. The Federal Reserve reported that we enjoyed modest to moderate growth in June. Basically they're saying that we're pumping the water out faster than it's coming in, and the lookout in the crow's nest doesn't see any new icebergs.

The really bright spot on the horizon is that Affordable Care Act's State Exchanges are starting to publish health insurance rates for 2014, and the numbers are better than anybody was hoping for. Starting next year, residents of NY state that need an individual policy (that's a single person that's not in group) will be able to buy health insurance for 30% of what they pay now (a 70% reduction). On average we're talking a 50% cut in premiums for policies with terms laid out in plain English, no fine print, no refusing to pay claims, no dropping you for failing to report that acne medicine you took when you were in Junior High. Annual premium rebate checks are coming out now for anything the companies didn't spend on healthcare. They must spend 85% of premiums for actual policy holders benefit under ObamaCare or give it back.

Meanwhile House Republicans are planning a 39th attempt to repeal ObamaCare. Boner & Company have now surpassed the 'Do Nothing' Congress of 1947-48 for highest level of inactivity. The GOP has managed to name a bunch of Post Offices for all those illustrious Republicans that 'did nothing' before them.

There is increasing concern that China may have 'screwed the pooch' on allowing too much manufacturing capacity to be built, and that they may not be able to increase domestic demand fast enough to absorb it all without going into a tailspin. One of China's biggest problems is that demand for goods from the West is sagging, and thanks to Austerity in Europe and in the US, we're getting ready for the mother of all slumps.

These predictions of China's imminent collapse aren't new, the right wing types have been making them all along whether they could find China on the map or not. We're now hearing this from economists that I actually respect, although the better ones aren't saying this is a sure thing.

Personally I think western economists don't have any appreciation for 'central planning', that is government policies that are designed to actually work, and are enforced by serious men with guns. In the US we've had 40 years of government policies that were designed to not work at all, but were just a scheme to loot and pillage. Economists are mostly employed to convince you and me that this 'crap just happens, it's very mysterious, but it will all work out'. Yeah.

China has some really big plans underway to bring 250 million peasants into newly constructed cities over the next 15 years, and a whole lot more. Chinese kids that went to Western Universities 35 years ago are senior managers now. China has an amazing track record already. They own half the world's heavy cranes, make half the world's cement, on and on like that. So I'm not ready to write them off just because they've built 'too many' factories and power plants. They're in a lot better shape than we are, they actually make stuff. But western economists are saying they make too much stuff, they should do like us instead. Yeah.

While China has spent the last 35 years getting ready for dominating the 21st century, we've spent the last 35 years getting ready for third world status. I'll bet on China's chances at this point.  Twitter @BruceEnberg  or go to