Debt | timiacono.com

Debt: The Descent into Madness

I think Grant Williams is right when he says that more books will be written about the last ten years and the next ten years than any other period in modern history and, importantly, writers are not likely to look kindly upon the current crop of central bankers.

With the gold price now closing in on $1,400 an ounce (and perhaps set to go much higher), look for more from Mr. Williams and others who have endured a difficult few years due to a struggling market for precious metals and related investments.

Credit Cards Reanimated

From last week, the WSJ reports that the number and popularity of credit cards has experienced something of a resurgence after the near-death experience Americans had with debt (that is, excluding student loans) during and after the Great Recession.

I dont’ know about you, but we regularly get offers for new credit cards with introductory rewards of anywhere between $100 and $500 each. You’d think they’d stop sending them to us since we just make the minimum purchases to get the reward and then go back to using our Costco Amex which morphs into an even better Costco Visa next month.

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Draghi on Root Causes

I get a kick out of someone with great authority (especially central bankers these days, given their quickly fading super powers) speaking confidently about the root causes of some problem as if you’re an uninformed ignoramus (i.e., not an economist) if you don’t see what is so obvious to them and people like them. Such is the case with ECB chief Mario Draghi’s explanation to the Germans about why interest rates are freakishly low.

To wit:

They (low interest rates) are the symptom of an underlying problem, which is insufficient investment demand across the world to absorb all the savings available in the economy. And so the right way to address the challenges raised by low rates is not to try and suppress the symptoms, but to address the underlying cause.

Got it?

It’s the ‘ol “lack of aggregate demand” root cause canard (i.e., as opposed to the more sensible reckless, multi-decade expansion of credit and debt that artificially raised aggregate demand) that future historians will someday have fun with, that is, after the current set of top economists and central bankers are completely discredited.

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Outlooks, Education, and Income

From a recent item at Pew Research via this Wall Street Journal story today come the two related charts below that go a long way in explaining the rise of presidential candidate Donald Trump who, not long ago, proclaimed “I love the poorly educated”.

One would think that if you factor in the gargantuan student loan debt that now comes along with many of those college degrees and income gains shown above for the millennial set, those blue and gray curves would adjusted downward, probably by a lot.

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Much ado in the financial media this morning about yet another warning from the Bank for International Settlements about the current state of affairs in the global financial system as it relates to debt levels that now exceed the 2007 highs, negative interest rates, and faltering confidence in central banks who seem increasingly befuddled and desperate.

The tone appears to have been lost on whoever penned the outlier headline below.

The Bloomberg article is about as positive as the headline, so this can’t be blamed on whoever’s responsible for ensuring that headlines are click-worthy to readers.

Maybe it’s not such a bad thing to look on the bright side of things now and then, though this may not be a particularly good opportunity to do so…

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