Implode-Explode Heavy Industries news feed http://implode-explode.com/ Tracking the many faces of the global credit implosion. en-us iehi-feed-64881 Mon, 19 Aug 2019 09:14:16 GMT Trump goes on attack as economy fears cloud 2020 hopes http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2019-08-19_Trumpgoesonattackaseconomyfearscloud2020hopes.html ``the President, who dispatched his top economic advisers to Sunday talk shows, is also dishing out a mixture of accurate and misleading commentary and blaming the Federal Reserve and the media in case there is trouble ahead.

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Uncertainty about the economy is fomented partly from conflicting signs. Jobs growth remains strong in the US and consumer spending is robust, according to the latest data.

But the slowest growth in China in three decades, imminent recession fears in big European economies and bearish signals sent last week by the bond markets could be early warning signs of a 2020 economic headache for Trump.

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"We don't know yet, are we headed for a recession? That's not my base case scenario," Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari told CNN's Brianna Keilar on Friday. "But the risks have increased quite a bit."

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iehi-feed-64877 Sun, 11 Aug 2019 23:03:03 GMT Buffett's Blunder: Berkshire Hathaway Has Lost $5B on Kraft Heinz in 2019 http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2019-08-11_BuffettsBlunderBerkshireHathawayHasLost5BonKraftHeinzin2019.html The company that makes Oscar Mayer hot dogs, Kool-Aid, Heinz ketchup and Velveeta took charges in excess of $1 billion in the first half due in part to the "perceived risk" to the value of the company during a very rough year in which its stock has been cut in half.

Kraft earned 37 cents per share generating $6.4 billion in revenue during the fiscal second quarter, but analysts were expecting earnings to be around 75 cents and $6.58 billion revenue, according to Refinitiv.

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Its 325 million shares represent 26.7% of Kraft Heinz, and the value of those stocks has dropped from just over $14 billion to around $8.7 billion in 2019 alone. That's roughly 37% in losses on one investment.

It doesn't help, either, that Kraft Heinz has such a prominent place in Berkshire Hathaway's portfolio where it is currently the sixth-largest holding, according to CNBC. Buffett admits that he made a mistake when Berkshire teamed up with 3G to purchase Heinz for $23 billion back in 2013.

"I made a mistake in the Kraft purchase in terms of paying too much," Buffett said.

Warren, we coulda' told you in 2013 that Kraft/Heinz/et al were turkeys for being past their prime, food-culture-wise...

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iehi-feed-64874 Thu, 08 Aug 2019 21:42:24 GMT Is Pimco Right That Negative Yields Make Sense? http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2019-08-08_IsPimcoRightThatNegativeYieldsMakeSense.html ``It's still too soon to say his final conclusion -- that people are "willing to accept a negative interest rate" to transfer purchasing power to the future -- will stand the test of time. It's true that bonds with sub-zero yields have been around for years and that the pile has now grown to a staggering $15 trillion. But as I wrote recently, much of that debt was issued with a positive interest rate, and those buyers have seen sharp price appreciation as a result. The true test is still to come when countries and even companies try to sell securities that pay no interest at a price above face value, guaranteeing a loss if held to maturity.''

This argument is logical in the sense that, with financial economies so unstable, people might actually be able to pay a premium to "transfer purchasing power into the future". After all, that's pretty much the same as paying the carrying costs to hold cash (i.e., a bank account fee on a zero-yield checking account, or vault fees for cash), or storage fees for gold that, on average "goes nowhere". But what about inflation? This all assumes there's no inflation -- but at a minimum, the premium people are willing to pay implicitly must have an inflation rate subtracted from it. So if one is willing to take a 2% negative interest rate, one is likely assuming 0% inflation (or perhaps one would really be willing to pay a 4% negative interest rate, if it were not for 2% assumed inflation). The point being: if inflation really starts heating up in a general sense, these consumer-accepted negative interest rates will disappear real fast.

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iehi-feed-64871 Wed, 07 Aug 2019 00:21:17 GMT Can the Fed Prop Up The "Everything Bubble" Forever? http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2019-08-06_CantheFedPropUpTheEverythingBubbleForever.html iehi-feed-64870 Tue, 06 Aug 2019 23:43:46 GMT Barneys to close Seattle store and several others, files for bankruptcy http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2019-08-06_BarneystocloseSeattlestoreandseveralothersfilesforbankruptcy.html ``Barneys New York is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the latest retailer to buckle as shoppers move online.

The iconic clothier founded almost a century ago will keep the doors open at its 10-story Madison Avenue store, but it has secured $75 million in financing to pay employees and vendors as it seeks a buyer.

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Barneys, controlled by New York hedge fund Perry Capital, listed more than $100 million in debt and more than $100 million in assets in its bankruptcy filing in the Southern District of New York.

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A strong economy has traditionally boosted luxury sales but like retailers across the spectrum, Barneys and other high-end stores have struggled to entice people through the door. They're seeing younger shoppers migrate online to sites like Net-a-Porter, which offers same-day delivery for luxury goods, or resale sites like The RealReal.com. Moreover, wealthy shoppers are going directly to luxury brands' online sites or shops.

Nordstrom has reported slowing sales. And Neiman Marcus Group, which also operates Bergdorf Goodman, posted a loss and a sales decline in its most recent quarter.

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iehi-feed-64869 Tue, 06 Aug 2019 22:53:08 GMT Today From the "What We All Already Knew" File: Jared Kushner Saw Trump Presidency As Chance to 'Dig Himself Out Of' Debt: Report http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2019-08-06_TodayFromtheWhatWeAllAlreadyKnewFileJaredKushnerSawTrumpPresiden.html iehi-feed-64868 Tue, 06 Aug 2019 15:18:41 GMT Is a US Recession Coming? Yield Curve Loudest Warning Since 2007 http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2019-08-06_IsaUSRecessionComingYieldCurveLoudestWarningSince2007.html iehi-feed-64867 Mon, 05 Aug 2019 16:36:13 GMT Dow plunges 600 points after China devalues its currency http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2019-08-05_Dowplunges600pointsafterChinadevaluesitscurrency.html iehi-feed-64864 Sat, 03 Aug 2019 14:38:41 GMT MIT's AI Lab Analyzed 200,000 Bitcoin Transactions. Only 2% Were 'Illicit' http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2019-08-03_MITsAILabAnalyzed200000BitcoinTransactionsOnly2WereIllicit.html Blockchain analytics firm Elliptic collaborated with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to publish a public dataset of bitcoin transactions associated with illicit activity... Only 2 percent of the 200,000 bitcoin transactions in the data set were deemed illicit as part of Eliptic's initial work. While 21 percent were identified as lawful, the vast majority of the transactions, roughly 77 percent, remained unclassified. (To date, there have been an estimated 440 million bitcoin transactions since the network's launch in 2009.)...

Sometimes, Robinson added, software was able to find patterns that would be difficult to describe yet still matched with known entities, based on pre-existing data from darknet markets, ransomware attacks and other criminal investigations.

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iehi-feed-64863 Fri, 02 Aug 2019 17:24:32 GMT Who Will Hold The Bag For the Treasury As Social Security Runs Out? http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2019-08-02_WhoWillHoldTheBagFortheTreasuryAsSocialSecurityRunsOut.html Ten years later, the Board of Trustees now projects that Social Security's primary trust fund will run out money in 2034.

That's five years earlier than they projected back in 2009. And it's only 15 years away....

Every worker who is legally employed in the United States currently pays roughly 15% of his/her wages each month to help fund Social Security and pay benefits to retirees.

But there are now so many people receiving Social Security benefits that all the payroll tax revenue is no longer enough.''

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iehi-feed-64862 Fri, 02 Aug 2019 17:22:30 GMT Why Was Trumponomics a Flop? http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2019-08-02_WhyWasTrumponomicsaFlop.html Obviously Powell couldn't say in so many words that Trumponomics has been a big flop, but that was the subtext of his remarks. And Trump's frantic efforts to bully the Fed into bigger cuts are an implicit admission of the same thing.

To be fair, the economy remains pretty strong, which isn't really a surprise given the G.O.P.'s willingness to run huge budget deficits as long as Democrats don't hold the White House. As I wrote three days after the 2016 election -- after the shock had worn off -- "It's at least possible that bigger budget deficits will, if anything, strengthen the economy briefly." And that's pretty much what happened: There was a bit of a bump in 2018, but at this point we've basically returned to pre-Trump rates of growth.

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And there's a good case to be made that Trump's tariffs have actually hurt U.S. manufacturing. For one thing, many of them have hit "intermediate goods," that is, stuff American companies use in their production processes, so the tariffs have raised costs.

Beyond that, the uncertainty created by Trump's policy by whim -- nobody knows what he'll hit next -- has surely deterred investment. Why build a manufacturing plant when, for all you know, next week a tweet will destroy your market, your supply chain, or both?

... think of the missed opportunities. Imagine how much better shape we'd be in if the hundreds of billions squandered on tax cuts for corporations had been used to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. Imagine what we could have done with policies promoting jobs of the future in things like renewable energy, instead of trade wars that vainly attempt to recreate the manufacturing economy of the past.

... pundits who think that Trump will be able to win by touting a strong economy are almost surely wrong. He most likely won't face a recession (although who knows?), but he definitely hasn't made the economy great again. So he's probably going to have to do what he's already doing, and clearly wants to do: run on racism instead.

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iehi-feed-64860 Thu, 01 Aug 2019 21:28:52 GMT Dow plunges 300 points as Trump slaps China with fresh tariffs http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2019-08-01_Dowplunges300pointsasTrumpslapsChinawithfreshtariffs.html iehi-feed-64859 Thu, 01 Aug 2019 21:18:32 GMT Manhattanites need to make $115K to afford the average 1BR rent in the borough: report http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2019-08-01_Manhattanitesneedtomake115Ktoaffordtheaverage1BRrentintheborough.html As expected, several New York City neighborhoods are in the "Six-Figure Club," as residents would need to make six figures to be able to afford living in a one-bedroom there. In Manhattan, the neighborhoods where residents need to make the most are Tribeca at $171,800/year of gross income; Flatiron, $160,000/year; and Battery Park City, $152,000/year. Other neighborhoods that would require six digit incomes in the borough include Midtown South, Stuyvesant Town, and Chelsea. New additions to the six-digit list in Manhattan include the Lower East Side, where you now need to make $104,520/year.

Overall, Manhattanites living in a one-bedroom would need to make a gross income of $115,800--twice the NYC median of $57,782, to live comfortably in the borough, according to the report.

Yes, there's no inflation...

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iehi-feed-64858 Thu, 01 Aug 2019 20:36:30 GMT Retail flagship stores close as rent, online shopping skyrockets http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2019-08-01_Retailflagshipstorescloseasrentonlineshoppingskyrockets.html iehi-feed-64857 Thu, 01 Aug 2019 20:32:17 GMT Who's Winning Trump's Trade War? No One So Far http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2019-08-01_WhosWinningTrumpsTradeWarNoOneSoFar.html ``Trump's tariffs on China have brought in very little revenue -- a little less than $20 billion since the start of 2018. Chinese retaliation has hit U.S. farmers hard, prompting Trump and Congress to bail them out. These payments so far have totaled more than $25 billion. In fiscal terms, therefore, the trade war with China has been a net loss.

Meanwhile, the bailouts aren't nullifying all the pain from Chinese retaliation. U.S. farm bankruptcies have been rising

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The trade war's purpose, of course, wasn't to help farmers, but to aid domestic manufacturers. But Chinese retaliation has hurt manufacturers such as Boeing Co., Caterpillar Inc. and Deere & Co. And Trump's tariffs on inputs such as steel and aluminum have been of dubious value to companies in those sectors, while hurting U.S. manufacturers of higher-value products by raising their costs.

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Manufacturing output also has risen more slowly than in past expansions, and actually fell in the first quarter of 2019

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One thing the tariffs have done is to raise prices for U.S. consumers. Multiple economic studies have concluded that essentially all of the increased revenue from the tariffs, such as it is, has come out of Americans' pockets.

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Though U.S. consumers have borne the monetary cost of the tariffs, they may have hurt China even more. China's growth, which had already slowed since the early 2010s, shows recent signs of further slowing. Manufacturing investment in that country is down sharply since the trade war started in mid-2018...

In the long term, the trade war's most important impact may be ideological. A psychological dam has broken, and what used to be a comfortable elite consensus in favor of free trade is swinging strongly in the opposite direction. On the left, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren now champions a weaker dollar and expanded government assistance to U.S. exporters, as well as a much cagier attitude toward future trade deals. On the right, intellectuals are warming to the idea of government intervention on behalf of key industries.

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iehi-feed-64856 Thu, 01 Aug 2019 19:37:14 GMT US Will Impose 10% Tariff On Chinese Goods Worth $300 Billion Sept. 1st http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2019-08-01_USWillImpose10TariffOnChineseGoodsWorth300BillionSept1st.html iehi-feed-64855 Wed, 31 Jul 2019 22:55:07 GMT Jim Rickards on U.S. National Debt and Limits of MMT http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2019-07-31_JimRickardsonUSNationalDebtandLimitsofMMT.html Data discredits the idea that we can grow our way out of our debt burden, he added, and we cannot borrow our way out of it either. The only solution becomes inflation, but the Fed has been trying to produce significant inflation for the last 10 years and has failed.

"What the MMT people are ignoring is the psychological limit, not the legal limit," Rickards said. "It is true that the Fed can borrow as much as it wants, but there's a psychological limit. This is what physicists call a critical threshold or a phase transition. ... I'm not saying inflation is an attractive option. I am saying it might be the only option and we can't get the inflation, so we're just heading for default with slow growth along the way to make it even worse."

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iehi-feed-64854 Wed, 31 Jul 2019 22:49:08 GMT Federal Reserve interest rate cuts: Markets fall on disappointment for future cutes http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2019-07-31_FederalReserveinterestratecutsMarketsfallondisappointmentforfutu.html iehi-feed-64852 Tue, 30 Jul 2019 21:44:05 GMT The Coming Savings Writedowns - Michael Hudson http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2019-07-30_TheComingSavingsWritedownsMichaelHudson.html Debts that can't be paid, won't be. That point inevitably arrives on the liabilities side of the economy's balance sheet.

But what of the asset side? One person's debt is a creditor's claim for payment. This is defined as "savings," even though banks simply create credit endogenously on their own computers without needing any prior savings. When debts can't be paid and debtors default, what happens to these creditors?

As President Obama showed, banks and bondholders can be bailed out by new Federal Reserve money creation. That is what the $4.6 trillion in Quantitative Easing since 2008 was all about. The Fed has spent the last few years supporting stock market prices (and holding down gold prices) by manipulating the forward option markets.

But this artificial life support to keep the debt overhead afloat is nearing the reality of the debt wall. The European Central Bank has almost run out of available euro-bonds to buy. The new fallback position to keep the increasingly zombified U.S. and Eurozone financial markets afloat is to experiment with negative interest rates.

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iehi-feed-64850 Mon, 29 Jul 2019 22:46:02 GMT Why We Should Fear Easy Money - Ruchir Sharma http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2019-07-29_WhyWeShouldFearEasyMoneyRuchirSharma.html As the Fed prepares to announce a decision this week, growing bipartisan support for a rate cut is fraught with irony. Slashing rates to avoid deflation made sense in the crisis atmosphere of 2008, and cutting again may seem like a logical response to weakening global growth now. But with the price of borrowing already so low, more easy money will raise a more serious threat.

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Many Western economies appeared to face a similar threat [as the Great Depression and Japanese deflation] following the global financial crisis of 2008. Since then, led by the Fed, central banks have responded aggressively to every hint of a downturn, making money ever cheaper and more plentiful to try to juice growth.

Yet, in this expansion, the United States economy has grown at half the pace of the postwar recoveries. Inflation has failed to rise to the Fed's target of a sustained 2 percent. Meanwhile, every new hint of easy money inspires fresh optimism in the financial markets, which have swollen to three times the size of the real economy.

In this environment, cutting rates could hasten exactly the outcome that the Fed is trying to avoid. By further driving up the prices of stocks, bonds and real estate, and encouraging risky borrowing, more easy money could set the stage for a collapse in the financial markets. And that could be followed by an economic downturn and falling prices -- much as in Japan in the 1990s. The more expensive these financial assets become, the more precarious the situation, and the more difficult it will be to defuse without setting off a downturn.

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Today, politicians on the right and left have come to embrace easy money, each camp for its own reasons, both ignoring the risks. President Trump has been pushing the Fed for a large rate cut to help him bring back the postwar miracle growth rates of 3 percent to 4 percent.

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By fueling a record bull run in the financial markets, easy money is increasing inequality, since the wealthy own the bulk of stocks and bonds. Research also shows that very low interest rates have helped large corporations increase their dominance across United States industries, squeezing out small companies and start-ups. Once seen as a threat only in Japan, zombie firms -- which don't earn enough profit to cover their interest payments -- have been rising in the United States, where they account for one in six publicly traded companies.

All these creatures of easy credit erode the economy's long-term growth potential by undermining productivity, and raise the risk of a global recession emanating from debt-soaked financial and housing markets. A 2015 study of 17 major economies showed that before World War II, about one in four recessions followed a collapse in stock or home prices (or both). Since the war, that number has jumped to roughly two out of three, including the economic meltdowns in Japan after 1990, Asia after 1998 and the world after 2008.

Recessions tend to be longer and deeper when the preceding boom was fueled by borrowing, because after the boom goes bust, flattened debtors struggle for years to dig out from under their loans. And lately, easy money has been enabling debt binges all over the world, particularly in corporate sectors.

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