Financial Bubbles | timiacono.com - Part 3

Now that the U.S. team has been eliminated from the World Cup, we ‘Mericans can focus on what we really do best – inflating asset bubbles – and that effort should be bolstered by what is shaping up to be a big number in the nonfarm payrolls data due out from the Labor Department on Thursday, just prior to the nation celebrating its 238th birthday on Friday.

From these two reports at Gallup come the charts below indicating all systems are go.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that payroll processor ADP reported earlier today that the private sector added 281,000 jobs last month, the biggest job creation total since November 2012.

This should be much more fun than watching soccer…

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The Institute for Supply Management reported that the U.S. manufacturing sector continued to expand at a healthy pace last month as their purchasing managers index was little changed, down slightly from 55.4 in May to 55.3 in June. Recall that, in this index, readings above and below 50 indicate expansion and contraction, respectively.

The key new orders component improved from 56.9 in May to 58.9 in June, production fell from 61.0 to 60.0 (still indicating robust growth), and employment was unchanged at 52.8. A full 15 of the 18 industries tracked by ISM reported growth last month.

Pricing pressure eased somewhat as this component fell from 60.0 to 58.0, backlog orders fell from 52.5 to 48.0 (indicating contraction), and inventories were unchanged at 53.0.

Obviously, the stock market likes this news quite a bit.

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Private Sector Debt Still Unmanageable

Rex Nutting states the obvious (well, at least to anyone who isn’t an economist and who doesn’t work for the Federal Reserve) about private sector debt in this item at Marketwatch:

For the past six or seven years, most of what the Federal Reserve has done to fix the problem has been focused on getting the credit spigot turned back on: cutting interest rates and hectoring banks to start lending again, even though demand for loans was weak.

It’s a surreal policy because, while the proximate cause of the Great Recession was the collapse of borrowing in 2007-2008, the ultimate cause was the growth of unsustainable debt over many years, culminating in a doubling of debt between 2000 and 2007.

It’s nice to see that “unsustainable debt” as the root cause of our recent woes is an idea that is catching on and, it seems likely that, after another few years or so of tepid consumer spending, we’ll at least begin to rethink the whole idea of indebted American consumers as the primary engine of economic growth.

The Fed Has Been Wrong Everytime

Here’s a rather harsh (and well deserved) assessment of Federal Reserve policy from Sri Kumar, president at Sri-Kumar Global Strategies, who points out the central bank’s abysmal track record on forecasting economic growth and how they have a fantastic track record for “taking the punch bowl away” far too slowly.

His closing comments are interesting. Particularly after the recent developments in Iraq, 2014 is suddenly starting to feel a lot like six or seven years ago when stocks had reached all-time highs and then oil prices started rising rapidly. We all know how that turned out.

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