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Friday, May 30, 2014

Economic Relevance - the Middle Class Squeeze

Marketplaces are about people and the majority of people are struggling. The Great Recession only ended for the affluent. It never ended for the middle class as defined in the post World War 2 to the Millennium era.

Excluding Obamacare, US Economy Contracted By 2% In The First Quarter - Tyler Durden - May 29, 2014 - As if the official news that the US economy is just one quarter away from an official recession (and with just one month left in the second quarter that inventory restocking better be progressing at an epic pace) but don't worry - supposedly harsh weather somehow managed to wipe out $100 billion in economic growth from the initial forecast for Q1 GDP - here is some even worse news: if one excludes the artificial stimulus to the US economy generated from the Obamacare Q1 taxpayer-subsidized scramble, which resulted in a record surge in Healthcare services spending of $40 billion in the quarter, Q1 GDP would have contracted not by 1% but by 2%!

Hound Note: Essentially what we are seeing is that GDP fell by 2% for the first quarter of 2014. That is reflective in the retail numbers we saw earlier this week. Now we are seeing a depression in middle class home sales, while wealthy homes are selling at an increased pace in most major cities. Add to this a 22% increase in the cost of food and not being able to rely on the government to be honest and you will see the mess we are in.

Housing Bubble 2 Already Collapsing for the 99% - The Testosterone Pit - May 28, 2014 -
This is precisely what shouldn’t have happened but was destined to happen: Sales of existing homes have gotten clobbered since last fall. At first, the Fiscal Cliff and the threat of a US government default – remember those zany times? – were blamed, then polar vortices were blamed even while home sales in California, where the weather had been gorgeous all winter, plunged more than elsewhere.                      Then it spread to new-home sales: in April, they dropped 4.7% from a year ago, after March's year-over-year decline of 4.9%, and February's 2.8%. Not a good sign: the April hit was worse than February's, when it was the weather’s fault. Yet April should be the busiest month of the year (excellent brief video by Lee Adler on this debacle).                        We have already seen that in some markets, in California for example, sales have collapsed at the lower two-thirds of the price range, with the upper third thriving. People who earn median incomes are increasingly priced out of the market, and many potential first-time buyers have little chance of getting in. In San Diego, for example, sales of homes below $200,000 plunged 46% while the upper end is doing just fine. But the upper end is small, and they don’t like to buy median homes [read… Housing Bubble 2 Veers Elegantly Toward Housing Bust 2]                           Yet it’s going according to the Fed’s plan. Its policies – nearly free and unlimited amounts of capital for those with access to it – have created enormous wealth in a minuscule part of the population by inflating ferocious asset bubbles, including in housing. But now electronic real-estate broker Redfin has made it official: in 2014 through April, sales of the most expensive 1% of homes have soared 21.1% year over year, while sales in the lower 99% have dropped 7.6%.                         And it wasn’t the first year. In 2013, sales of 1%-homes jumped 35.7%, while sales of the other 99% rose 10.1%. And in 2012, sales of 1%-homes rose 17.5%, while the rest of the market inched up a mere 2.9%.

Our “Make It Look Good” Economy Has Failed - Washington's Blog -  - Charles Hugh SmithThe essence of the U.S. economy is make it look good: never mind quality or long-term consequences, just make it look good today, this week, this month, this quarter: make the pink slime look like meat, make the company look profitable, make the low-quality product look good enough to close the sale, make the unemployment rate low enough to justify re-electing the toadies currently in power, make the body count of bad guys look good, and on and on–just makes the numbers look good now, the future will take care of itself...

U.S. Food Inflation Running at 22% - Breitbart - Chriss W. Street - May 26, 2014 - After five years of the federal government telling the public that despite a $3.5 trillion increase in monetary expansion, the inflation rate is below +2%, the Department of Agriculture (DOA) just warned the American public that the consumer price index for food is up by 10% this year.                           The DOA tried to blame food inflation on the drought conditions in California, but last year’s drought was worse and food prices fell by -6%. The real problem is Federal Reserve monetary stimulus is stimulating inflation. I reported in "Food Price Inflation Scares the Fed” two months ago that commodity food costs were exploding on the upside. Given the lag in commodity costs impacting prices on grocery store shelves, annual U.S. food inflation is now running at +22% and rising.

The real culprit for food inflation is the $940 billion of additional monetary stimulus from the United States Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing over the last twelve months. Inflation has been in hibernation for a long time, but it is wide awake now....

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