Canada Has A Food Affordability Problem

Canada Has A Food Affordability Problem Authored by Sylvain Charlebois via The Epoch Times, Did you know that there is a global food security index? The well-known magazine The Economist has just published its 11th edition. The Global Food Security Index comprises a set of indices from more than 120 different countries. Since 2012, the index has been based on four main pillars: food access, safety, sustainable development, and affordability. The approach is quite comprehensive and robust. Index indicators include nutritional standards, urban absorptive capacity, food consumption as a percentage of household expenditure, food loss and waste, protein quality, agricultural import tariffs, dietary diversification, agricultural infrastructure, volatility of agricultural production, public spending on agricultural resource and development, corruption, risks to political stability, and even the sufficiency of supply. In short, anything goes. Finland ranks first this year, followed by Ireland and Norway. Canada is well-positioned compared to other countries around the world since we are ranked seventh globally, the same as last year. Not bad. The United States is 13th. In terms of food access—which measures agricultural production, farm capacities, and the risk of supply disruption—Canada ranks sixth, which is not too surprising. Despite our recent episodes of empty shelves and stockouts, Canada can boast about its food abundance. We produce a lot and are part of a fluid North American economy focused on cross-border trade, which allows for better food access. Another pillar focuses on sustainable development, the environment, and climate adaptability. This pillar assesses a country’s exposure to the impacts of climate change, its sensitivity to risks related to natural resources, food waste management, and how the country adapts to these risks. In this regard, Canada is ranked 29th, far behind Norway and Finland, who are first and second in this category. Food waste remains Canada’s Achilles’ heel, as we waste more than just about anyone else on the planet. But with higher food prices, more than 40 percent of Canadians, according to a recent study, are wasting less than they were 12 months ago. When it comes to food safety and quality, Canada ranks first in the world. Canada is ahead of everyone, even Denmark and the United States, both renowned for their proactive approaches to food safety. Food safety in Canada is perhaps the facet most underappreciated by consumers. Despite a few momentary failures and periodic reminders, sanitation practices in the country are exemplary. Canada has consistently ranked well for years, except perhaps when traceability is measured. We have a long way to go, but the industry and public safety regulators are performing relatively well. But the area where Canada’s performance is of some concern is food affordability. This measure is dedicated to consumers’ ability to purchase food, their vulnerability to price shocks, and the presence of programs and policies to support consumers when shocks occur. Canada fell one spot again this year and sits at 25th in the world. Australia, Singapore, and Holland top the list for affordability. Given the resources and food access we have, Canada should do better. Since July 2021, food inflation has always exceeded general inflation in the country, and everything is already costing more these days. Higher food prices at the grocery store over the past year have been difficult for many of us to accept. Canada needs a food autonomy policy, a more robust food processing sector, and better logistics domestically. And with winter coming and our dollar visibly weakening against the U.S. dollar, we could see significant price jumps again, especially in the produce and non-perishables sections. As wages stagnate and food prices rise, it’s hard to predict when Canada will do better in terms of affordability. Specific fiscal measures such as tax reductions to help consumers would be more than timely. Tyler Durden Fri, 09/30/2022 - 20:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 30th, 2022

In Striking Reversal, Renters Finally Hit "Breaking Point" Forcing Landlords To Slash Prices

In Striking Reversal, Renters Finally Hit "Breaking Point" Forcing Landlords To Slash Prices For much of the past year, as the housing market cratered, potential middle-class homebuyers who found themselves locked out of buying a house due to the explosive surge in mortgage rates, had no choice but to continue renting in the process pushing asking rents even higher as the housing market tanked. But with US consumers increasingly stretched well beyond their breaking point in a world where the price of everything continues to soar, making rent itself an unaffordable luxury for many, the rental juggernaut has finally come to a sudden halt, and according to Bloomberg, "after a record surge in housing costs and ballooning expenses for everything from food to energy, America’s renters have had enough." In what may be the best news for renters - and bulls desperate for a Fed pivot - rent gains are finally starting to slow in many parts of the US, cooling a years-long boom that sapped affordability from coast to coast. That's because with demand from tenants is suddenly sinking, landlords have little choice but to ease off big increases. It’s a dramatic reversal from the situation we described just months ago, when people were fighting over a limited supply of apartments, getting on waiting lists or paying multiple application fees to land one home. Now, particularly in pandemic boom markets such as Las Vegas and Phoenix, the application piles have thinned out and listings are lingering longer. And in the latest attempt to crush the US economy by an unknown elite, the measures of US household formation have even turned negative. But wait, you may say: it's not like housing is a discretionary choice - after all, everyone has to live somewhere, right? Well yes... and unlike recent years, young people who otherwise might be striking out on their own are instead staying with the parents or, like 18-year-old Coleby Hillenbrand, cramming into tiny apartments with multiple roommates.... and we aren't talking Manhattan. “I was able to round people up and make rent affordable,” said Hillenbrand, who lives with his girlfriend and another couple in a tiny two-bedroom outside of Kansas City. “People our age aren’t making enough money to afford rent on their own.” To be sure, this is one crisis that is good news for most Americans, because in a US housing market that recently hit the most unaffordable level in history as mortgage rates rise for homebuyers, any sign of a rental cool-off is welcome news. Then again, it's bad news when one consider how it emerged: as Bloomberg notes, it’s the product of economic turmoil as people struggle with soaring costs of goods and services and wages that aren’t keeping up. With a recession looming, the safe move is to stay put. For the Federal Reserve, aggressively raising interest rates to curb inflation, an easing of one of its key measures would be a positive sign. The plunge in rents is especially good news for markets: “Rents have had a historic run-up, way beyond what fundamentals would justify,” said Susan Wachter, a real estate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. “The Fed will not ease up until inflation abates, which requires rents to slow, the sooner the better and the harder the better, for quick relief.” As we observed recently, rents nationally increased 7.5% in September from a year earlier, above pre-pandemic levels, but down from a peak jump of nearly 18% at the start of the year, when vacancies also were lower, according to Apartment List. More importantly, on a sequential basis, rents had their first drop in over two years. Preliminary October data show a dropoff that’s faster than the typical seasonal decline and would be the steepest in month-over-month data dating back to 2017, said Igor Popov, the listing platform’s chief economist.   Of course, due to the significant lag, the sharp slowdown has yet to show up in the consumer price index that’s closely watched by the Fed, about a third of which is tied to the cost of shelter. That measure of rents rose at a record annual pace last month, but as we discussed in "With Krugman Humiliated, This Is What Goldman Thinks True Rent Inflation Is" it will be slow to reflect more recent shifts because the index tracks what renters are paying as well as the costs homeowners would incur if they had to rent back their homes (i.e. Owner-Equivalent Rent), rather than new leases that are more apt to change. As we have been saying since last summer, these indicators lag the actual market. It might be six or nine months before the more recent slowdown is reflected in the CPI, said Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics. Of course by then the US economy will be smouldering rubble if the Fed keeps hiking at its current 75bps/month clip. And while prices may be finally sliding, renters are feeling the strain of inflation now. Unlike homeowners who can fix mortgages for 30 years, they can - and usually will - face rent increases every year, or sooner if they’re on a month-to-month lease. And they’re more likely to have less stable jobs and incomes. The average American had to put in more than 64 hours of work in September to pay the typical monthly rent, according to an analysis by Zillow. That’s just a hair below the August level, which was the highest in data going back to 2015. “Rent became unaffordable for people in lots of markets,” said Jeff Tucker, a senior economist at Zillow. “We shouldn’t be surprised that fewer people will go out and sign a lease. Throw on other inflationary challenges and that’s going to shrink rental demand.” The demand slowdown has been most acute in metropolitan areas such as Phoenix, Atlanta and Las Vegas, where rent growth was especially dramatic in recent years, said Jay Parsons, chief economist for RealPage, a rental-data tracker.  Meanwhile, in a demographic double whammy, household formation is freezing up - as young Americans put marriage and having children on hold during the coming crisis - sending apartment demand negative for the first time for any third quarter in at least 30 years, according to RealPage data dating back to 1992. And while tenants are leaving rentals at normal rates (and going back to live in their parents basement or splitting apartments with friends), the problem for landlords is that a lot fewer are moving in. Take Rachel McIntyre Smith, a multimedia coordinator in Chattanooga, Tennessee, who moved back in with her parents on her 25th birthday in July. She loved the freedom of living alone until her landlord jacked up the monthly rent on her $1,100 one-bedroom by another $200, swallowing half her salary with utilities factored in. “The last few months I was constantly thinking about how I was going to shrink my grocery bill or gas budget,” Smith said. “Now I can sleep better.” As noted at the top, while the slump in the for-sale market has helped landlords because sidelined homebuyers would need to live somewhere, even that tipping point has been reached as rents shot up so high across key metro areas that many are now looking for cheaper alternatives instead, like living with family, according to Apartment List’s Popov. And frustrated homesellers are listing houses for rent instead, increasing supply. As Bloomberg notes, the slowdown is so widespread that rents have fallen month-over-month in 69 of the top 100 US cities in September; still, the rates of change vary widely by geography, and many markets are still quite heated. Rents in the New York, San Diego, Miami and Orlando, Florida, areas, all jumped by at least 12% last month from a year earlier, according to Apartment List data, still gangbusters relative to pre-Covid levels. And while it’s normal for rents to dip in the months leading into the winter holidays, if demand doesn’t return by next spring, problems for landlords will worsen, Popov said. There’s a near-record amount of newly-built apartments under construction and heading for completion, adding to the rental inventory.    “The question is where is the economy in March, April, May, when people are normally out looking for apartments?” Popov said. Well, we have an answer... and Popov won't like it. The good news for those who can afford to rent still is that it is now a buyer's, er renter's market: Cynthia Woodward says she’s juggling more vacant homes than any time in her 11 years as a Las Vegas property manager. Normally, out of the 130 homes she manages, a few will be empty.  But now she’s got a dozen, including one that was broken into in the dark of night, the thieves leaving with a new washer, dryer and refrigerator. “Lately activity is ice cold,” Woodward said. “Where are the people?” Well, when the people are spending all their money on food and gas housing has become an unattainable luxury. Tyler Durden Tue, 10/25/2022 - 17:45.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 25th, 2022

Tverberg: Why Financial Approaches Won"t Fix The World"s Economic Problems This Time

Tverberg: Why Financial Approaches Won't Fix The World's Economic Problems This Time Authored by Gail Tverberg via Our Finite World blog, Time and time again, financial approaches have worked to fix economic problems. Raising interest rates has acted to slow the economy and lowering them has acted to speed up the economy. Governments overspending their incomes also acts to push the economy ahead; doing the reverse seems to slow economies down. What could possibly go wrong? The issue is a physics problem. The economy doesn’t run simply on money and debt. It operates on resources of many kinds, including energy-related resources. As the population grows, the need for energy-related resources grows. The bottleneck that occurs is something that is hard to see in advance; it is an affordability bottleneck. For a very long time, financial manipulations have been able to adjust affordability in a way that is optimal for most players. At some point, resources, especially energy resources, get stretched too thin, relative to the rising population and all the commitments that have been made, such as pension commitments. As a result, there is no way for the quantity of goods and services produced to grow sufficiently to match the promises that the financial system has made. This is the real bottleneck that the world economy reaches. I believe that we are closely approaching this bottleneck today. I recently gave a talk to a group of European officials at the 2nd Luxembourg Strategy Conference, discussing the issue from the European point of view. Europeans seem to be especially vulnerable because Europe, with its early entry into the Industrial Revolution, substantially depleted its fossil fuel resources many years ago. The topic I was asked to discuss was, “Energy: The interconnection of energy limits and the economy and what this means for the future.” In this post, I write about this presentation. The major issue is that money, by itself, cannot operate the economy, because we cannot eat money. Any model of the economy must include energy and other resources. In a finite world, these resources tend to deplete. Also, human population tends to grow. At some point, not enough goods and services are produced for the growing population. I believe that the major reason we have not been told about how the economy really works is because it would simply be too disturbing to understand the real situation. If today’s economy is dependent on finite fossil fuel supplies, it becomes clear that, at some point, these will run short. Then the world economy is likely to face a very difficult time. A secondary reason for the confusion about how the economy operates is too much specialization by researchers studying the issue. Physicists (who are concerned about energy) don’t study economics; politicians and economists don’t study physics. As a result, neither group has a very broad understanding of the situation. I am an actuary. I come from a different perspective: Will physical resources be adequate to meet financial promises being made? I have had the privilege of learning a little from both economic and physics sides of the discussion. I have also learned about the issue from a historical perspective. World energy consumption has been growing very rapidly at the same time that the world economy has been growing. This makes it hard to tell whether the growing energy supply enabled the economic growth, or whether the higher demand created by the growing economy encouraged the world economy to use more resources, including energy resources. Physics says that it is energy resources that enable economic growth. The R-squared of GDP as a function of energy is .98, relative to the equation shown. Physicists talk about the “dissipation” of energy. In this process, the ability of an energy product to do “useful work” is depleted. For example, food is an energy product. When food is digested, its ability to do useful work (provide energy for our body) is used up. Cooking food, whether using a campfire or electricity or by burning natural gas, is another way of dissipating energy. Humans are clearly part of the economy. Every type of work that is done depends upon energy dissipation. If energy supplies deplete, the form of the economy must change to match. There are a huge number of systems that seem to grow by themselves using a process called self-organization. I have listed a few of these on Slide 8. Some of these things are alive; most are not. They are all called “dissipative structures.” The key input that allows these systems to stay in a “non-dead” state is dissipation of energy of the appropriate type. For example, we know that humans need about 2,000 calories a day to continue to function properly. The mix of food must be approximately correct, too. Humans probably could not live on a diet of lettuce alone, for example. Economies have their own need for energy supplies of the proper kind, or they don’t function properly. For example, today’s agricultural equipment, as well as today’s long-distance trucks, operate on diesel fuel. Without enough diesel fuel, it becomes impossible to plant and harvest crops and bring them to market. A transition to an all-electric system would take many, many years, if it could be done at all. I think of an economy as being like a child’s building toy. Gradually, new participants are added, both in the form of new citizens and new businesses. Businesses are formed in response to expected changes in the markets. Governments gradually add new laws and new taxes. Supply and demand seem to set market prices. When the system seems to be operating poorly, regulators step in, typically adjusting interest rates and the availability of debt. One key to keeping the economy working well is the fact that those who are “consumers” closely overlap those who are “employees.” The consumers (= employees) need to be paid well enough, or they cannot purchase the goods and services made by the economy. A less obvious key to keeping the economy working well is that the whole system needs to be growing. This is necessary so that there are enough goods and services available for the growing population. A growing economy is also needed so that debt can be repaid with interest, and so that pension obligations can be paid as promised. World population has been growing year after year, but arable land stays close to constant. To provide enough food for this rising population, more intensive agriculture is required, often including irrigation, fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Furthermore, an increasing amount of fresh water is needed, leading to a need for deeper wells and, in some places, desalination to supplement other water sources. All these additional efforts add energy usage, as well as costs. In addition, mineral ores and energy supplies of all kinds tend to become depleted because the best resources are accessed first. This leaves the more expensive-to-extract resources for later. The issues in Slide 11 are a continuation of the issues described on Slide 10. The result is that the cost of energy production eventually rises so much that its higher costs spill over into the cost of all other goods and services. Workers find that their paychecks are not high enough to cover the items they usually purchased in the past. Some poor people cannot even afford food and fresh water.   Increasing debt is helpful as an economy grows. A farmer can borrow money for seed to grow a crop, and he can repay the debt, once the crop has grown. Or an entrepreneur can finance a factory using debt. On the consumer side, debt at a sufficiently low interest rate can be used to make the purchase of a home or vehicle affordable. Central banks and others involved in the financial world figured out many years ago that if they manipulate interest rates and the availability of credit, they are generally able to get the economy to grow as fast as they would like. It is hard for most people to imagine how much interest rates have varied over the last century. Back during the Great Depression of the 1930s and the early 1940s, interest rates were very close to zero. As large amounts of inexpensive energy were added to the economy in the post-World War II period, the world economy raced ahead. It was possible to hold back growth by raising interest rates. Oil supply was constrained in the 1970s, but demand and prices kept rising. US Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volker is known for raising interest rates to unheard of heights (over 15%) with a peak in 1981 to end inflation brought on by high oil prices. This high inflation rate brought on a huge recession from which the economy eventually recovered, as the higher prices brought more oil supply online (Alaska, North Sea, and Mexico), and as substitution was made for some oil use. For example, home heating was moved away from burning oil; electricity-production was mostly moved from oil to nuclear, coal and natural gas. Another thing that has helped the economy since 1981 has been the ability to stimulate demand by lowering interest rates, making monthly payments more affordable. In 2008, the US added Quantitative Easing as a way of further holding interest rates down. A huge debt bubble has thus been built up since 1981, as the world economy has increasingly been operated with an increasing amount of debt at ever-lower interest rates. (See 3-month and 10 year interest rates shown on Slide 14.) This cheap debt has allowed rapidly rising asset prices. The world economy starts hitting major obstacles when energy supply stops growing faster than population because the supply of finished goods and services (such as new automobile, new homes, paved roads, and airplane trips for passengers) produced stops growing as rapidly as population. These obstacles take the form of affordability obstacles. The physics of the situation somehow causes the wages and wealth to be increasingly be concentrated among the top 10% or 1%. Lower-paid individuals are increasingly left out. While goods are still produced, ever-fewer workers can afford more than basic necessities. Such a situation makes for unhappy workers. World energy consumption per capita hit a peak in 2018 and began to slide in 2019, with an even bigger drop in 2020. With less energy consumption, world automobile sales began to slide in 2019 and fell even lower in 2020. Protests, often indirectly related to inadequate wages or benefits, became an increasing problem in 2019. The year 2020 is known for Covid-19 related shutdowns and flight cancellations, but the indirect effect was to reduce energy consumption by less travel and by broken supply lines leading to unavailable goods. Prices of fossil fuels dropped far too low for producers. Governments tried to get their own economies growing by various techniques, including spending more than the tax revenue they took in, leading to a need for more government debt, and by Quantitative Easing, acting to hold down interest rates. The result was a big increase in the money supply in many countries. This increased money supply was often distributed to individual citizens as subsidies of various kinds. The higher demand caused by this additional money tended to cause inflation. It tended to raise fossil fuel prices because the inexpensive-to-extract fuels have mostly been extracted. In the days of Paul Volker, more energy supply at a little higher price was available within a few years. This seems extremely unlikely today because of diminishing returns. The problem is that there is little new oil supply available unless prices can stay above at least $120 per barrel on a consistent basis, and prices this high, or higher, do not seem to be available. Oil prices are not rising this high, even with all of the stimulus funds because of the physics-based wage disparity problem mentioned previously. Also, those with political power try to keep fuel prices down so that the standards of living of citizens will not fall. Because of these low oil prices, OPEC+ continues to make cuts in production. The existence of chronically low prices for fossil fuels is likely the reason why Russia behaves in as belligerent a manner as it does today. Today, with rising interest rates and Quantitative Tightening instead of Quantitative Easing, a major concern is that the debt bubble that has grown since in 1981 will start to collapse. With falling debt levels, prices of assets, such as homes, farms, and shares of stock, can be expected to fall. Many borrowers will be unable to repay their loans. If this combination of events occurs, deflation is a likely outcome because banks and pension funds are likely to fail. If, somehow, local governments are able to bail out banks and pension funds, then there is a substantial likelihood of local hyperinflation. In such a case, people will have huge quantities of money, but practically nothing available to buy. In either case, the world economy will shrink because of inadequate energy supply. Most people have a “normalcy bias.” They assume that if economic growth has continued for a long time in the past, it necessarily will occur in the future. Yet, we all know that all dissipative structures somehow come to an end. Humans can come to an end in many ways: They can get hit by a car; they can catch an illness and succumb to it; they can die of old age; they can starve to death. History tells us that economies nearly always collapse, usually over a period of years. Sometimes, population rises so high that the food production margin becomes tight; it becomes difficult to set aside enough food if the cycle of weather should turn for the worse. Thus, population drops when crops fail. In the years leading up to collapse, it is common that the wages of ordinary citizens fall too low for them to be able to afford an adequate diet. In such a situation, epidemics can spread easily and kill many citizens. With so much poverty, it becomes impossible for governments to collect enough taxes to maintain services they have promised. Sometimes, nations lose at war because they cannot afford a suitable army. Very often, governmental debt becomes non-repayable. The world economy today seems to be approaching some of the same bottlenecks that more local economies hit in the past. The basic problem is that with inadequate energy supplies, the total quantity of goods and services provided by the economy must shrink. Thus, on average, people must become poorer. Most individual citizens, as well as most governments, will not be happy about this situation. The situation becomes very much like the game of musical chairs. In this game, one chair at a time is removed. The players walk around the chairs while music plays. When the music stops, all participants grab for a chair. Someone gets left out. In the case of energy supplies, the stronger countries will try to push aside the weaker competitors. Countries that understand the importance of adequate energy supplies recognize that Europe is relatively weak because of its dependence on imported fuel. However, Europe seems to be oblivious to its poor position, attempting to dictate to others how important it is to prevent climate change by eliminating fossil fuels. With this view, it can easily keep its high opinion of itself. If we think about the musical chairs’ situation and not enough energy supplies to go around, everyone in the world (except Europe) would be better off if Europe were to be forced out of its high imports of fossil fuels. Russia could perhaps obtain higher energy export prices in Asia and the Far East. The whole situation becomes very strange. Europe tells itself it is cutting off imports to punish Russia. But, if Europe’s imports can remain very low, everyone else, from the US, to Russia, to China, to Japan would benefit. The benefits of wind and solar energy are glorified in Europe, with people being led to believe that it would be easy to transition from fossil fuels, and perhaps leave nuclear, as well. The problem is that wind, solar, and even hydroelectric energy supply are very undependable. They cannot ever be ramped up to provide year-round heat. They are poorly adapted for agricultural use (except for sunshine helping crops grow). Few people realize that the benefits that wind and solar provide are tiny. They cannot be depended on, so companies providing electricity need to maintain duplicate generating capacity. Wind and solar require far more transmission than fossil-fuel-generated electricity because the best sources are often far from population centers. When all costs are included (without subsidy), wind and solar electricity tend to be more expensive than fossil-fuel generated electricity. They are especially difficult to rely on in winter. Therefore, many people in Europe are concerned about possibly “freezing in the dark,” as soon as this winter. There is no possibility of ever transitioning to a system that operates only on intermittent electricity with the population that Europe has today, or that the world has today. Wind turbines and solar panels are built and maintained using fossil fuel energy. Transmission lines cannot be maintained using intermittent electricity alone.   Basically, Europe must use very much less fossil fuel energy, for the long term. Citizens cannot assume that the war with Ukraine will soon be over, and everything will be back to the way it was several years ago. It is much more likely that the freeze-in-the-dark problem will be present every winter, from now on. In fact, European citizens might actually be happier if the climate would warm up a bit. With this as background, there is a need to figure out how to use less energy without hurting lifestyles too badly. To some extent, changes from the Covid-19 shutdowns can be used, since these indirectly were ways of saving energy. Furthermore, if families can move in together, fewer buildings in total will need to be heated. Cooking can perhaps be done for larger groups at a time, saving on fuel. If families can home-school their children, this saves both the energy for transportation to school and the energy for heating the school. If families can keep younger children at home, instead of sending them to daycare, this saves energy, as well. A major issue that I do not point out directly in this presentation is the high energy cost of supporting the elderly in the lifestyles to which they have become accustomed. One issue is the huge amount and cost of healthcare. Another is the cost of separate residences. These costs can be reduced if the elderly can be persuaded to move in with family members, as was done in the past. Pension programs worldwide are running into financial difficulty now, with interest rates rising. Countries with large elderly populations are likely to be especially affected. Besides conserving energy, the other thing people in Europe can do is attempt to understand the dynamics of our current situation. We are in a different world now, with not enough energy of the right kinds to go around. The dynamics in a world of energy shortages are like those of the musical chairs’ game. We can expect more fighting. We cannot expect that countries that have been on our side in the past will necessarily be on our side in the future. It is more like being in an undeclared war with many participants. Under ideal circumstances, Europe would be on good terms with energy exporters, even Russia. I suppose at this late date, nothing can be done. A major issue is that if Europe attempts to hold down fossil fuel prices, the indirect result will be to reduce supply. Oil, natural gas and coal producers will all reduce supply before they will accept a price that they consider too low. Given the dependence of the world economy on energy supplies, especially fossil fuel energy supplies, this will make the situation worse, rather than better. Wind and solar are not replacements for fossil fuels. They are made with fossil fuels. We don’t have the ability to store up solar energy from summer to winter. Wind is also too undependable, and battery capacity too low, to compensate for need for storage from season to season. Thus, without a growing supply of fossil fuels, it is impossible for today’s economy to continue in its current form. Tyler Durden Sat, 10/22/2022 - 15:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 22nd, 2022

Will This Housing Downturn Be Worse Than 2008?

Will This Housing Downturn Be Worse Than 2008? Submitted by EPB Macro Research's Eric Basmajian, This is a map of home price growth at the housing bubble's peak in 2005.  And this is a map of home price growth at the peak of the housing bubble in 2021.  See the difference? When we look at home price growth at the peak of the last bubble in 2005, what we see is that home price growth was very concentrated in certain states and cities. Arizona, Nevada, California and Florida saw annual home price growth above 20%.  National home price growth averaged about 11% at the peak in 2005.  Today, national home price growth is higher than at the peak of the last housing bubble at almost 14% and when we look at the previous maps, we can see the price appreciation is much more broad based. The biggest bubble in 2005, which was Arizona, was crazier than the biggest bubble today, which is Idaho but today there are 38 states with annual home price growth over 10%. At the peak in 2005, only 26 states had annual home price growth above 10%.  So will a housing crash today be worse than 2008 given how much more pervasive the rampant home price growth has been? For that we'll have to look at the leading indicators of home price growth, debt levels, and Federal Reserve policy.  There are several key leading indicators of real home price growth that I noted in my most recent post on home prices.  We discussed the months supply of newly constructed homes, the mortgage spread or mortgage rates, and the growth rate of real M2.  The months supply metric shows how many months it will take to clear the current pool of inventory at the current pace of sales. Months supply has exploded to 10.9 which means it will take almost 11 months to get rid of all the inventory of new homes in the pipeline at the current rate of sales. The months supply of newly constructed homes is a leading indicator of home price growth. Higher months supply today means lower home prices to follow.  We're more concerned about the inventory of new homes compared to existing homes because all the economic activity and jobs are attached to new construction rather than existing homes.  In 2008, the months supply figure exploded to 12.2 so it's not quite as bad yet, although it could get there.  The pace of sales volume is completely collapsing today and there's no signs of a slowdown in the pace of decline. The volume of new home sales is down 51% since August 2020. In 2008 and into 2009, new home sales fell by 70% so it's not quite as bad yet, but we haven't hit bottom yet.  In terms of mortgage rates, we have a problem today that is WORSE than 2008. In 2006, mortgage rates jumped 1.3% on a year over year basis. So in 2006, when the housing bubble started to pop mortgage rates were 6.8% compared to 5.5% a year earlier. This spike in mortgage rates kills home prices because people just can't afford rising home prices and rising mortgage rates.  While mortgage rates today are 5.6%, lower than in 2006, the spike or the pace of increase is much worse. Mortgage rates today are more than 2.7% higher than just one year ago!  So the pace of increase in mortgage rates is double the pace of the 2006 period that caused that housing bubble to pop. That's an ominous sign that will cause buyer demand to stop dead in it's tracks…something we are already starting to witness with new home sales crashing 51%.  The next metric to consider is the rate of liquidity growth or money growth.  In the lead up to the peak in the housing bubble in 2006, liquidity growth was NOT excessive. The bubble in 2006 and the crash in 2008 was more about a debt crisis and cheap credit. Money growth in 2020 and 2021 was more than six times as high as it was in the mid 2000s which is why the housing bubble this time is more broad based rather than concentrated in select cities like it was in 2005 and 2006. Todays' bubble is more about record liquidity growth that was channeled into financial assets.  And when big institutions started to access the single family home market, housing became just another financial asset that was an easy recipient of this excess liquidity that historically stayed trapped in the stock market. This is a major difference to the 2008 bubble. The banks helped to facilitate a housing bubble by granting loans to households, but most of the housing activity was in the household sector itself.  Today, we have financial innovation in which big institutions and private equity funds that can easily access the Fed's new liquidity have moved into single family homes. We don't know what a housing downturn will look like now that bigger players are involved. These are speculators vs. home owners.  Money growth never contracted or slowed below 0% when the 2006 housing bubble popped, not until mid 2008. Today, money growth is falling sharply as the Federal Reserve pulls liquidity out of the system to correct an ongoing inflation problem.  So just as easily as home prices went up because of liquidity, we may see the reverse. So the inventory issue is not quite as bad as 2008 which is a good thing but the spike in mortgage rates is way worse and the contraction in liquidity growth is more intense.  The debt bubble was worse in 2008 because the debt was concentrated in the banking sector and the household sector in the form of mortgages. Together, the household and financial sector had almost 220% debt to GDP compared to 150% today. So the 2008 crisis started as a housing problem but it morphed into a banking crisis.  Today, we have a housing problem that by most metrics is on pace to be worse than 2008 but we don't have the private sector debt toxicity to turn the housing downturn into a banking meltdown.  Today we have a bigger debt problem in the Federal Government and the household debt is concentrated in what we call consumer debt, mainly student loans and auto loans, not so much mortgage debt. Today we have a much broader bubble than we did in the peak of 2005 and 2006. The month's supply of new homes is surging towards 2007-2008 levels but it's not there yet. Mortgage rates are spiking way faster so the affordability crisis is worse, particularly when you add on food inflation, rent inflation and gas inflation. Also the rate of liquidity contraction is more intense to correct a big mistake the Fed made in 2020 and 2021.  The 2022 housing crash certainly has the potential to be worse than 2008 if we're talking about the housing market itself. There's much less of a chance that this housing downturn morphs into a global banking crisis. The nonfinancial shadow banking sector? That's a story for another day… This video explains the impending troubles headed for the housing market.   Tyler Durden Tue, 08/30/2022 - 13:40.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytAug 30th, 2022

Tverberg: Why No Politician Is Willing To Tell Us The Real Energy Story

Tverberg: Why No Politician Is Willing To Tell Us The Real Energy Story Authored by Gail Tverberg via Our Finite World blog, No politician wants to tell us the real story of fossil fuel depletion. The real story is that we are already running short of oil, coal and natural gas because the direct and indirect costs of extraction are reaching a point where the selling price of food and other basic necessities needs to be unacceptably high to make the overall economic system work. At the same time, wind and solar and other “clean energy” sources are nowhere nearly able to substitute for the quantity of fossil fuels being lost. This unfortunate energy story is essentially a physics problem. Energy per capita and, in fact, resources per capita, must stay high enough for an economy’s growing population. When this does not happen, history shows that civilizations tend to collapse. Figure 1. World fossil fuel energy consumption per capita, based on data of BP’s 2022 Statistical Review of World Energy. Politicians cannot possibly admit that today’s world economy is headed for collapse, in a way similar to that of prior civilizations. Instead, they need to provide the illusion that they are in charge. The self-organizing system somehow leads politicians to put forward reasons why the changes ahead might be desirable (to avert climate change), or at least temporary (because of sanctions against Russia). In this post, I will try to try to explain at least a few of the issues involved. [1] Citizens around the world can sense that something is very wrong. It looks like the economy may be headed for a serious recession in the near term. Figure 2. Index of consumer sentiment and news heard of company changes as reported by the University of Michigan Survey of Consumers, based on preliminary indications for August 2022. Consumer sentiment is at an extraordinarily low level, worse than during the 2008-2009 great recession according to a chart (Figure 2) shown on the University of Michigan Survey of Consumers website. According to the same website, nearly 48% of consumers blame inflation for eroding their standard of living. Food prices have risen significantly. Over the past year, the cost of car ownership has escalated, as has the cost of buying or renting a home. The situation in Europe is at least as bad, or worse. Citizens are worried about possibly “freezing in the dark” this winter if electricity generation cannot be maintained at an adequate level. Natural gas supplies, mostly purchased from Russia by pipeline, are less available and high-priced. Coal is also high-priced. Because of the fall of the Euro relative to the US dollar, the price of oil in euros is as high as it was in 2008 and 2012. Figure 3. Inflation-adjusted Brent crude oil price in US dollars and euros, in chart by the US Energy Information Administration, as published in EIA’s August 2022 Short Term Energy Outlook. Many other countries, besides those in the Eurozone, are experiencing low currencies relative to the dollar. Some examples include Argentina, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Turkey, Japan, and South Korea. China has problems with developers of condominium homes for its citizen. Many of these homes cannot be delivered to purchasers as promised. As a protest, buyers are withholding payments on their unfinished homes. To make matters worse, the prices of condominium homes have started to fall, leading to a loss of value of these would-be investments. All of this could lead to serious problems for the Chinese banking industry. Even with these major problems, central banks in the US, the UK and the Eurozone are raising target interest rates. The US is also implementing Quantitative Tightening, which also tends to raise interest rates. Thus, central banks are intentionally raising the cost of borrowing. It doesn’t take much insight to see that the combination of price inflation and higher borrowing costs is likely to force consumers to cut back on spending, leading to recession. [2] Politicians will avoid talking about possible future economic problems related to inadequate energy supply. Politicians want to get re-elected. They want citizens to think that everything is OK. If there are energy supply problems, they need to be framed as being temporary, perhaps related to the war in Ukraine. Alternatively, any issue that arises will be discussed as if it can easily be fixed with new legislation and perhaps a little more debt. Businesses also want to minimize problems. They want citizens to place orders for their goods and services, without the fear of being laid off. They would like the news media to publish stories saying that any economic dip is likely to be very mild and temporary. Universities don’t mind problems, but they want the problems to be framed as solvable ones that will offer their students opportunities for jobs that will pay well. A near-term, unsolvable predicament is not helpful at all. [3] What is wrong is a physics problem. The operation of our economy requires energy of the correct type and the right quantity. The economy is something that grows through the “dissipation” of energy. Examples of dissipation of energy include the digestion of food to give energy to humans, the burning of fossil fuels, and the use of electricity to power a light bulb. A rise in world energy consumption is highly correlated with growth in the world economy. Falling energy consumption is associated with economic contraction. Figure 4. Correlation between world GDP measured in “Purchasing Power Parity” (PPP) 2017 International $ and world energy consumption, including both fossil fuels and renewables. GDP is as reported by the World Bank for 1990 through 2021 as of July 26, 2022; total energy consumption is as reported by BP in its 2022 Statistical Review of World Energy. In physics terms, the world economy is a dissipative structure, just as all plants, animals and ecosystems are. All dissipative structures have finite lifespans, including the world economy. This finding is not well known because academic researchers seem to operate in ivory towers. Researchers in economic departments aren’t expected to understand physics and how it applies to the economy. In fairness to academia, the discovery that the economy is a dissipative structure did not occur until 1996. It takes a long time for findings to filter through from one department to another. Even now, I am one of a very small number of people in the world writing about this issue. Also, economic researchers are not expected to study the history of the many smaller, more-localized civilizations that have collapsed in the past. Typically, the population of these smaller civilizations increased at the same time as the resources used by the population started to degrade. The use of technology, such as dams to redirect water flows, may have helped for a while, but eventually this was not enough. The combination of declining availability of high quality resources and increasing population tended to leave these civilizations with little margin for dealing with the bad times that can be expected to occur by chance. In many cases, such civilizations collapsed after disease epidemics, a military invasion, or a climate fluctuation that led to a series of crop failures. [4] Many people have been confused by common misunderstandings regarding how an economy really works. [a] Standard economics models foster the belief that the economy can continue to grow without a corresponding increase in energy supply. When economic models are designed with labor and capital being the important inputs, energy supply doesn’t seem to be needed, at all. [b] People seem to understand that legislation capping apartment rents will stop the building of new apartments, but they do not make the same connection with steps taken to hold down fossil fuel prices. If efforts are made to bring down the prices of fossil fuels (such as raising interest rates and adding oil from the US petroleum reserves to increase total oil supply), we need to expect that extraction will be adversely affected. One article reports that Saudi Arabia does not seem to be using recent record profits to quickly raise reinvestment to the level that seemed to be required a few years ago. This suggests that Saudi Arabia needs prices that are quite a bit higher than $100 per barrel in order to take significant steps toward extracting the country’s remaining resources. This would seem to contradict published reserves that, in theory, take current prices into consideration. Reuters reports that Venezuela has reneged on its promise to send more oil to Europe, under an oil for debt deal. It wants oil product swaps instead, since it is lacking in its ability to make finished products from its oil itself. It would take a long run of prices much higher than today’s level for Venezuela to be able to sufficiently invest in infrastructure to do such refining. Venezuela reports the highest oil reserves in the world (303.8 thousand million barrels), even higher than Saudi Arabia’s reported 297.5 thousand million barrels, but neither country can be counted on to take major steps to raise supply. Similarly, there have been reports that US shale drillers are not investing to keep production growing, despite what seem to be sufficiently high prices. There are simply too many issues. The cost of new investment is very high, outside of the already drilled sweet spots. Also, there is no guarantee the price will stay high. There are also supply line issues, such as whether appropriate steel drilling pipes and fracking sand will be available, when needed. [c] Published information suggests that there is a huge amount of fossil fuels remaining to be extracted, given today’s level of technology. If we assume that technology will get better and better, it is easy to believe that any fossil fuel limit is hundreds of years in the future. The way the economy works, the extraction limit is really an affordability issue. If the cost of extraction rises too high, relative to what people around the world have for spendable income, production will stop because demand (in terms of what people can afford) will drop too low. People will tend to cut back on discretionary spending, such as vacation travel and meals in restaurants, cutting back on demand for fossil fuels. [d] How “demand” works is poorly understood. Very often, researchers and the general public assume that demand for energy products will automatically remain high. A surprisingly large share of demand is tied to the need for food, water, and basic services such as schools, roads, and bus service. Poor people require these basics just as much as rich people do. There are literally billions of poor people in the world. If the wages of poor people fall too low relative to the wages of rich people, the system cannot work. Poor people find that they must spend nearly all their income on food, water and housing. As a result, they have little left to pay taxes to support basic governmental services. Without adequate demand from poor people, the prices of commodities tend to fall too low to encourage reinvestment. The majority of fossil fuel use is by commercial and industrial users. For example, natural gas is often used in making nitrogen fertilizer. If the price of natural gas is high, the price of fertilizer will rise higher than farmers are willing to pay for the fertilizer. Farmers will cut back on fertilizer use, reducing yields for their crops. The farmers’ own costs will be lower, but there will be less of the desired crops grown, perhaps indirectly raising overall food prices. This is not a connection that economic modelers build into their models. The lockdowns of 2020 show that governments can indeed ramp up demand (and thus prices) for energy products by sending out checks to citizens. We are now seeing that the approach seems to produce inflation rather than more energy production. Also, countries without energy resources of their own may see their currencies fall with respect to the US dollar. [e] It is not true that energy types can easily be substituted for one another. In energy modeling, such as in calculating “Energy Return on Energy Invested,” a popular assumption is that all energy is substitutable for other energy. This isn’t true, unless a person accounts for all of the details of the transition, and the energy needed to make such a transition possible. For example, intermittent electricity, such as that generated by wind turbines or solar panels, is not substitutable for load-following electricity. Such intermittent electricity is not always available when people need it. Some of this intermittency is very long-term. For example, wind-generated electricity may be low for more than a month at a time. In the case of solar energy, the problem tends to be storing up enough electricity during summer months for use in winter. A naive person might assume that adding a few hours of battery backup would fix intermittency problems, but such a fix turns out to be very inadequate. If people are not to freeze in the dark in winter, longer-term solutions are needed. One standard approach is to use a fossil fuel system to fill in the gaps when wind and solar are not available. The catch, then, is that the fossil fuel system really needs to be a year-around system, with trained staffing, pipelines and adequate fuel storage. A modeler needs to consider the need to build a whole double system instead of a single system. Because of intermittency issues, electricity from wind and solar only substitute for fuels (coal, natural gas, uranium) that operate our current system. Publications often talk about the cost of intermittent electricity being at “grid parity” when its temporary cost seems to match the cost of grid electricity, but this is matching “apples and oranges.” The cost comparison needs to be in comparison to the average cost of fuel for plants producing electricity, rather than to electricity prices. Another popular assumption is that electricity can be substituted for liquid fuels. For example, in theory, every piece of farm equipment could be redesigned and rebuilt to be based on electricity, rather than diesel, which is typically used today. The catch is that there would need to be an enormous number of batteries built and eventually disposed of for this transition to work. There would need also need to be factories to build all this new equipment. We would need an international trade system operating extraordinarily well, to find all the raw materials. Likely, there would still not be enough raw materials to make the system work. [f] There is a great deal of confusion about expected oil and other energy prices, as an economy reaches energy limits. This issue is closely related to [4][d], with respect to the confusion about how energy demand works. A common assumption among analysts is that “of course” oil prices will rise, as limits are approached. This assumption is based on the standard supply and demand curve used by economists. Figure 5. Standard economic supply and demand curve from Wikipedia. Description of how this curve works: The price P of a product is determined by a balance between production at each price (supply S) and the desires of those with purchasing power at each price (demand D). The diagram shows a positive shift in demand from D1 to D2, resulting in an increase in price (P) and quantity sold (Q) of the product. The issue is that the availability of inexpensive energy products very much affects demand as well as supply. Jobs that pay well are only available if inexpensive energy products can leverage human labor. For example, surgeons today perform robotic surgery, requiring, at a minimum, a stable source of electricity for each operation. Furthermore, the equipment used in the surgery is created using fossil fuels. Surgeons also use anesthetic products that require fossil fuels. Without today’s fancy equipment, surgeons would not be able to charge nearly as much they do for their services. Thus, it is not immediately obvious whether demand or supply would tend to fall faster, if energy supply should hit limits. We know that Revelation 18:11-13 in the Bible provides a list of a number of commodities, including humans sold as slaves, for which prices dropped very low at the time of the collapse of ancient Babylon. This suggests that at least sometimes during prior collapses, the problem was too low demand (and too low prices), rather than too low supply of energy products. [5] The International Energy Agency and politicians around the world have recommended a transition to the use of wind and solar to try to prevent climate change for quite a few years. This approach seemed to have the approval of both those concerned about too much burning of fossil fuels causing climate change and those concerned about too little fossil fuel energy causing economic collapse. A rough estimate of what the decline in energy supply might look like under the rapid shift to renewables proposed by politicians is shown in Figure 6. Figure 6. Estimate by Gail Tverberg of World Energy Consumption from 1820 to 2050. Amounts for earliest years based on estimates in Vaclav Smil’s book Energy Transitions: History, Requirements and Prospectsand BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy for the years 1965 to 2019. Energy consumption for 2020 is estimated to be 5% below that for 2019. Energy for years after 2020 is assumed to fall by 6.6% per year, so that the amount reaches a level similar to renewables only by 2050. Amounts shown include more use of local energy products (wood and animal dung) than BP includes. If a person understands the connection between energy consumption and the economy, such a rapid drop in energy supply looks like something that would likely be associated with economic collapse. The goal of politicians seems to be to keep citizens from understanding how awful the situation really is by reframing the story of the decline in energy supply as something politicians and economists have chosen to do, to try to prevent climate change for the sake of future generations. The rich and powerful can see this change as a good thing if they themselves can profit from it. When there is not enough energy, the physics of the situation tends to lead to increasing wage and wealth disparities. Wealthy individuals see this outcome as a good thing: They can perhaps personally profit. For example, Bill Gates has amassed about 270,000 acres of farmland in the United States, including newly purchased farmland in North Dakota. Furthermore, politicians see that they can have more control over populations if they can direct citizens in a way that will use less energy. For example, bank accounts can be linked to some type of social credit score. Politicians will explain that this is for people’s own good–to prevent the spread of disease or to prevent undesirables from using too much of the available resources. One way of dramatically reducing energy consumption is by mandating shutdowns in an area, purportedly to prevent the spread of Covid-19, as China has been doing recently. Such shutdowns can be explained as being needed to stop the spread of disease. These shutdowns can also help hide other problems, such as not having enough fuels to prevent rolling blackouts of electricity. [6] We are living in a truly unusual time, with a major energy problem being hidden from view. Politicians cannot tell the world how bad the energy situation really is. The problem with near-term energy limits has been known since at least 1956 (M. King Hubbert) and 1957 (Hyman Rickover). The problem was confirmed in the modeling performed for the 1972 book, The Limits to Growth by Donella Meadows and others. Most high-level politicians are aware of the energy supply issue, but they cannot possibly talk about it. Instead, they choose to talk about what would happen if the economy were allowed to speed ahead without limits, and how bad the consequences of that might be. Militaries around the world are no doubt well aware of the fact that there will not be enough energy supplies to go around. This means that the world will be in a contest for who gets how much. In a war-like setting, we should not be surprised if communications are carefully controlled. The views we can expect to hear loudly and repeatedly are the ones governments and influential individuals want ordinary citizens to hear. Tyler Durden Wed, 08/24/2022 - 21:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeAug 24th, 2022

Manhattan Rents Soar To New Record Amid Inflation Storm

Manhattan Rents Soar To New Record Amid Inflation Storm Manhattan apartment rents jumped again in June on a relentless climb into uncharted territory. A combination of low supply, soaring interest rates, and increasing demand implies leasing activity will keep climbing through August and push median average rents in the city well over the $4,000 mark.  Bloomberg reports new data from appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate that shows average apartment rents in Manhattan topped $4,050, a new record high. It was an increase of $50 over May when prices breached the $4,000 mark for the first time. Prices from a year ago are up a whopping 25%. Average rents for most-expensive units topped $5,000 for the first time, the firms said in the report.  Rents are smashing records and will increase further this month and August, mainly because of seasonal flows.  Julia Segal, leasing director at the brokerage firm Compass, said rising mortgage rates had sparked housing affordability issues that increased the number of renters in a market with limited inventory.  "Interest rates rising is certainly turning some buyers into renters," Segal said, "and that's increasing the renter pool." The report shows apartment listing times on the market slid from 52 days in May to 50 in June -- a year before, listed apartments sat for 87 days. Supply remains very tight across the borough. The vacancy rate a year ago was around 12% and has since plunged to 2%. High demand and tight supply are other reasons for summer rent price acceleration.  We noted in mid-April "Not A Peak" - Manhattan Apartment Rents Hit Another Record High and correctly pointed out how prices would soar this summer.  Rising rents in NYC is not an isolated problem -- it's a nationwide crisis as consumer prices in June jumped to another 40-year high. Focusing on housing costs, shelter inflation +5.61%, up from 5.61%, highest since 1992, and rent inflation +5.78%, up from 5.22%, highest since 1986. And what's worse is real wages continue to slump for the 15th month in a row as Americans' purchasing power is wiped out in the inflation storm.  Rising rent, gas, and food costs are squeezing working-poor households to a near-breaking point -- where millions of people are on the verge of eviction.  The rising risk of a recession could offer consumers relief with a downshift in prices. Still, there's a caveat: increasing job loss.  One positive development is a prediction by Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel, who believes rent prices could cool in September. He noted price declines might come with a recession.  Tyler Durden Fri, 07/15/2022 - 20:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJul 15th, 2022

David Stockman On Why The Great Reckoning Has Begun

David Stockman On Why The Great Reckoning Has Begun Authored by David Stockman via, Well, that should have been a wake-up call. The 30-year mortgage rate soared by 24 basis points recently to 6.18%. So the latter now stands at well more than double the 2.65% rate which prevailed just 18 months ago in January 2021, and at the highest level since the tail end of the Great Financial Crisis in 2009. In a word, the Fed’s fake economy based on ridiculously unsustainable ultra-low interest rates is coming to a thundering end. And far more abruptly and violently than the Fed and its Wall Street megaphones ever remotely imagined. Not surprisingly, the eruption of the mortgage rate depicted above has sent housing “affordability” into the drink. In fact, housing affordability is now at the lowest point on record going back to the late 1980s. Needless to say, household budgets are about to get hammered and the housing market is fixing to experience another great implosion. It would actually take a 30% drop in average home prices to reverse the affordability plunge just since the pre-Covid levels. Homebuyer Affordability Index, 1988-2022 Alas, the surge in homeowners’ carry cost especially during the last six months is truly startling. A simple back of the envelope calculation reveals that the jump in mortgage rates from 3.25% to 6.13% during that brief period means that new homebuyers face an average monthly payment on a typical new $350,000 mortgage (at the median price) that has gone up from $1,523 to $2,128. That’s a 40% increase in 6 months! So whether it was intended or not, the Fed is about to unleash the biggest housing crisis since the bursting of the 2007 bubble. And there should be no doubt: The housing price bubble this time is even more egregious than back in 2005-2007. House Price Index, 2000-2022 Likewise, junk bond yields have gone from 4% at the end of Dec (i.e. just 6 months ago) to 8.4% today. That’s another lightening fast doubling of rates. So with junk bond yields at their highest level since 2015, the myth of low defaults is about to be monkey-hammered. That’s because the “refi” game which papered over bad credits is now over: When you rollover your leveraged debt to a 2X higher interest rate, rather than to a lower one compliments of the Fed money printers as per the last decade, the jig is up. As the excellent bond maven, Stephanie Pomboy, tweeted recently: Prepare to see an absolute ONSLAUGHT of corp defaults and downgrades. The myth of corp B/S strength is about to be shattered spectacularly. She got that right. And that’s also the true economic evil of the Fed’s financial repression policies. It causes the financial signalling system to go wildly askew, thereby generating massively falsified financial values. For instance, the market cap of the FANG stocks went from $3.0 trillion to $5.1 trillion and then back to $3.0 trillion, all in the space of hardly two years. But that’s not honest price discovery in any sense of the word; it’s just the consequence of liquidity fueled bubbles being inflated and then deflated by speculative forces. Indeed, at the individual company level, the bubble dynamics as between the Covid-19 stock rally from March 23, 2020 to January 3, 2022 and then what is now being labelled the subsequent “bear market” is truly astounding. Covid-19 Bull Market Versus Plunge Since January 3, 2022 Peak: Nividia: Up 466%, Down 48%; Apple: Up 224%, down 28%; Google: Up 175%, Down 27%; Microsoft: Up 145%, Down 28%; Facebook/Meta: Up 129%, Down 51%. There is one constant, of course, which was ever cheaper overnight money (red line) supplied by the Fed that provided the carry traders with the wherewithal for massive, sustained momentum driven speculation. Indeed, as indicated by the chart, the Fed’s mistakes were systemic: As rates peaked lower and lower with each cycle, the financial bubbles got larger and larger. At the same time that the bejesus was being inflated out of Wall Street, the planking was being laid for a new bout of goods and services inflation on main street. And this gets us to the May PPI index released this AM. There are various measures of producer prices, but the index that requires special attention at the moment is the All Commodities PPI. It was up a red hot 21.5% versus prior year. More importantly, the 20%+ Y/Y readings of the last few months exceed almost all prior inflation peaks since 1950. For instance, the July 2008 peak posted at 17.4% versus prior year, and even at the top of the inflation blow-off in November 1974, the Y/Y gain came in only slightly higher at 23.4%. Even the Korean War induced inflation-surge in 1951 peaked at just 18.4% on a Y/Y basis. In other words, producer inflation is roaring down the pipeline at rates seen less than 0.01% of the time during the past three-quarters of a century. The Fed belated attempt to cope with it, therefore, will not end well or soon. Y/Y Change In All Commodities PPI, 1950-2022 Even if we look at May’s readings for PPI finished goods as opposed to commodities, there is no evident relief in sight. The Y/Y gain was 16.4%, the largest advance since December 1974 when the finished goods PPI posted at 18.5%. That was 48 years ago, of course, but the mechanics of inflation transmission do not change. That is, producer prices fuel the costs of production of goods and services in the business sector, which, in turn, work their way into the retail price level with a lag. Accordingly, we are not yet even close to “peak inflation”. The only scenario in which these soaring producer level price increases do not show-up in the CPI is in the event of a thundering recessionary collapse in which producer profit margins are crushed on the way down. The latter is always a possibility, but the issue is timing and sequence: What buckles first—output and employment or producer profits margins? Currently, we are in such uncharted waters that it is difficult to know. But no matter: Both outcomes are on the way, and in the not too distant future, too. Y/Y Change In Producer Price Index For Finished Goods, 1974-2022 In the case of the final demand for consumer foods, the index was up nearly 14%, and that was the seventh straight month of double-digit gains. We have a hard time seeing how household budgets will survive the grocery bill assault coming down the inflation pipeline or how the idea that inflation has peaked has any basis in the facts conveyed by the May PPI release. Indeed, the chart below conveys quite pointedly that we are in a wholly new inflation ball game. After the Fed adopted inflation targeting in January 2012 it took to lamenting that it was missing its 2.00% target from below, thereby justifying its madcap money-printing. One of the reasons, however, was that the global foods market was in temporary surplus, causing food inflation to oscillate between +2.5% and -2.5%. That had nothing to do with the monetary policies being cranked out in the Eccles Building, save for the license it provided other central banks to flood their economies with cheap capital and thereby generating a temporary abundance of agricultural investment. But that era was never sustainable, and was always at risk for exogenous disruptions like the Ukraine based global Sanctions War now roiling the global commodities and food markets.  Accordingly, the idea that the Fed had license to print money with reckless abandon because headline inflation was being temporarily pulled lower by deflation in foods, energy and manufactured goods will surely rank as one of the great follies of all time. Y/Y Change In PPI For Finished Consumer Foods, 2012-2022 Another sign that inflation has a growing head of steam was the 21.0% Y/Y rise in the PPI for transportation and warehousing. As shown below, that’s off-the-charts of recent history, and more than double the surge that occurred during the inflationary blow-off top in mid-2008. Needless to say, these are services industries that are being hit by the double whammy of rising energy and wage costs, neither of which is likely to be abating any time soon. Nor would resolution of current global supply chain dislocations make much difference—the problem in this instance is shortages of capacity across a broad spectrum of modalities, from railroads to trucking and the ocean ports. Y/Y Change In PPI For Transportation And Warehousing Industries, 2008-2022 For want of doubt, here are the PPI indices for energy and for transportation and warehouse wages. In the latter case the wage gain (purple line) was 7.8% on a Y/Y basis, a figure more than triple the 2.5% per annum trend that prevailed prior to February 2020. Similarly, the gain in the PPI for energy during May was 45%, a Y/Y level which has prevailed since the spring of 2021.  That is, there is nothing in the black line below that says the worst is over. Y/Y Change, Transportation And Warehousing Costs And Energy, 2016-2022 In short, the central banks have unleashed an inflationary whirlwind that has left the false pricing of the stock and bond markets high and dry. That’s why the very benchmark security of the global financial system has nearly gone parabolic in recent weeks. At today’s 3.48% closing yield, the 10-year US Treasury yield was up 50 basis points from 5 days ago, 130 basis points from mid-March, and is in a totally different universe than prevailed when the Fed went berserk buying government bonds after March 2020. But here’s the thing. Out of anti-inflation desperation, the Fed has pivoted to QT, but the impact of Fed held-bonds flooding into the trading pits has barely begun. And that’s to say nothing of the $95 billion per month bond shrinkage rate which will commence in September. 10-Year Treasury Yield, February 2020-June 2022 So the Great Reckoning has now commenced. The soaring red line below tells you all you need to know. It means that the artificially low cap rates of the last decade or more have reached their sell-by date and that the great money bubble the fostered is now heading for the wall. *  *  * The Fed has already pumped enormous distortions into the economy and inflated an “everything bubble.” The next round of money printing is likely to bring the situation to a breaking point. If you want to navigate the complicated economic and political situation that is unfolding, then you need to see this newly released video from Doug Casey and his team. In it, Doug reveals what you need to know, and how these dangerous times could impact your wealth. Click here to watch it now. Tyler Durden Thu, 07/07/2022 - 08:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJul 7th, 2022

What Could Go Right?

What Could Go Right? Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog, Our economy is not resilient or antifragile, it's a fragile sand castle of debt and denial. What could go off the cliff that hasn't already gone off the cliff? Rip-roaring inflation, check.Hot war in Europe, check. Global food crisis, check. Semi-permanent supply-chain snarls, check. Geopolitical blackmail, check. Semi-permanent energy scarcities / supply issues, check. Geopolitical tensions through the roof, check. Public discontent, check. Extreme political partisanship, check. Hard-landing recession already baked in, check. Shrinking corporate profits, check. Extremes of weather, check. Investor sentiment is in free-fall, check. Confidence in the political and financial systems' ability to navigate all of the above is tumbling into the abyss, check. Other than all that, everything's going great. None of this is terribly surprising to those of us who questioned the wisdom of making doing more of what's failed spectacularly the default "solution" to every problem. But thanks to the The Contrarian Curse, now that everyone is profoundly bearish, I'm wondering: what could go right? Though it may seem that the answer is "very little," a surprising number of things could go right. The first is a sharp recession: yes, that would be a big positive. All sorts of extremes of stimulus, over-ordering, consumption catch-up and manic speculation are not actually healthy, despite boosting short-term "growth." One reason why inflation is rip-roaring is enterprises and consumers were no longer price-sensitive: people want what they want and pony up the dough for overpriced rent, overpriced resort rooms, overpriced used cars, etc. The conventional narrative is this is all pent-up demand that must be met, regardless of price. But recessions tell a different story: when you can't afford the sky-high rent, you move to a cheaper locale. When you can't afford sky-high resorts, you cancel the vacation. When chicken wings become more expensive than other kinds of meat, you give up chicken wings. Extremes of stimulus, borrowing and consumption have pushed capacity beyond what's sustainable. Can every big city support hundreds of high-end eateries? If not, then reducing capacity is healthy, as painful as it is for marginal enterprises to close. A variety of idealistic policies have been revealed as failures. These painfully obvious failures enable a change of course to more realistic, affordable solutions. Consider the policy narrative that the way to wean ourselves from hydrocarbons is to stop investing in hydrocarbons. What's missing, of course, is reducing hydrocarbons without funding and planning a transition to other energy sources means the economy will not make the transition. Getting rid of hydrocarbons doesn't magically create substitute sources of energy. Those have to be constructed, at great expense, before you can reduce hydrocarbon consumption. Despite the focus on higher prices, our economy is still larded with immense waste. Just unplugging chargers and devices not in use would save up to 5% of the nation's electricity consumption. A large percentage of food is thrown away or left to rot. Millions of low-mileage vehicles are idling in congestion, each transporting one person. If prices were truly high, a wide variety of time-honored methods to reduce waste and improve efficiency would be reinvigorated. The easiest way to reduce expenses is waste nothing. We're far from that ideal. The systems we depend on are accustomed to expanding regardless of inefficiency or cost. A recession that slashed consumer spending, enrollments, permits, tax revenues, etc. would provide what's been missing for decades: the discipline of aligning expenditures with revenues. Institutions have avoided the pain of slashing expenditures by jacking up tuition, student fees, property taxes, business license fees, utility fees, income taxes, etc. Private monopolies continually raise prices, supremely confident that consumers can't cancel the service because there are no alternatives. But people find ways to cancel monopoly services anyway, once they're faced with hard choices. Being forced to stop borrowing more money as a "solution" and having to align expenditures with revenues will greatly strengthen the economy. Although Martian lenders may demand their quatloos (see below), you can't get blood from a stone and enterprises that default will clear the system of zombies that were only kept alive by rolling over debt at lower rates of interest. As for interest rates rising--the non-wealthy been paying high rates of interest for years. Credit card interest is 15% and up, student loans 6% and up--what difference does it make that the Federal Reserve raised interest rates from near-zero? None. The lenders who charge us 15% will now have to pay a few percentage points for their previously-free money. Oh, boo-hoo. The spread between lenders' costs and what they charge consumers will narrow, but it's not like consumers were able to borrow at Fed Fund Rates anyway. As for mortgage rates rising, the popping of the housing bubble will improve housing affordability. The solution to supply-chain insecurity and geopolitical blackmail is obvious: incentivize the reshoring of production and supply chains. Which is more important, corporate profits to make the wealthy even wealthier, or National Security, as in food security, resource security, production security and supply-chain security? Globalization is insecurity, blackmail and vulnerability. How about a zero corporate tax rate on all products and services made entirely in the U.S., with exemptions for materials unavailable domestically? How about a one-month permit process for new mines instead of a decade-long travesty of a mockery of a sham of regulatory friction and regulatory capture? An economy that has lost the discipline of aligning expenditures with revenues and the ability to place national security above profits is not healthy. Borrowing more money rather than eliminating friction, waste, fraud and useless regulatory burdens has severely weakened the economy. Our economy is not resilient or antifragile, it's a fragile sand castle of debt and denial. Incentivizing the lost discipline of aligning expenditures with revenues is the only way to transform a fragile economy into an adaptive antifragile economy. Debt that can't be paid will be dematerialized, one way or the other. *  *  * My new book is now available at a 10% discount this month: When You Can't Go On: Burnout, Reckoning and Renewal. If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via Tyler Durden Mon, 05/23/2022 - 09:25.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytMay 23rd, 2022

Goldman Trader: After A Brutal Week, Here Is The "Cat And Mouse" Question That Needs To Be Answered

Goldman Trader: After A Brutal Week, Here Is The "Cat And Mouse" Question That Needs To Be Answered From Tony Pasquariello, Goldman head of hedge fund coverage Cat and Mouse A brutal week in the markets, with no shortage of blame to go around: the persistence of global central bank hawkishness, gathering recession concerns, ongoing retail liquidation (and, an element of reflexivity). Here’s the central question that I’m trying to work out: if the interest rate market is correct, and terminal Fed Funds rate is going to be somewhere around 3%, at what point is that fully priced into the broader markets? On one hand, there’s already been a very significant tightening of US financial conditions, so you could argue that we’re getting close.   Said another way: you know that financial markets live in the future ... so, when the day comes where everyone can clearly see the end of the tightening cycle, the trading community will be ahead of it and assets will already be on the move. On the other hand, the target rate is still south of 1% and core PCE is still north of 5%, so you could also argue that we’re still much closer to the start of this tightening cycle than to the end of it [for a more detailed discussion, see "The Fed Has Crossed The "Hard Landing" Rubicon So How High Will It Hike? One Bank Crunches The Numbers"]. Said yet another way: as long as inflation is running hot and the labor market is too tight ... again, the inconvenient truth is the Fed has more wood to chop and the markets have more risk to sort out. In a related vein: at what point does the FOMC view an easing of financial conditions and decide that they DON’T need to beat it back? In that spirit, cue Bill Dudley (link): “the Fed has to be happy with the fact that financial conditions have tightened ... they’re getting traction ... they still have to do what they said they’re going to do.” With apologies for thinking out loud here, it’s these type of cat-and-mouse questions that illustrate the difficulty of assessing the current interplay between the Fed and the asset markets.   To be sure, the task of culling jobs is hugely unenviable, but the Fed is still so far off the inflation mark; at the very least, they need to demonstrate the trajectory of core inflation is clearly headed lower, even if they ultimately lose their nerve before reaching 2.0% [maybe the Fed is not so far off: see "Fed Mission Accomplished: Real-Time Indicators Show The Labor Market Just Cratered"]. On that last point, as Joe Briggs in GIR pointed out to me, the FOMC actually sent a similar signal with their March SEP dots, which showed 3½ hikes in 2023 and 0 hikes in 2024 ... despite median inflation forecasts of 2.6% in 2023 and 2.3% in 2024. Here’s where I’m going with all of this: even though financial conditions have tightened considerably ... and, even though this Fed will likely back off once the jobs losses begin to mount (they’re the same folks who ran the AIT play, after all) ... the fact is there’s still a lot of ground to cover before they can declare victory over inflation ... which should keep some pressure on risk assets a bit longer. To add another layer of complexity: as Dominic Wilson in GIR pointed out to me, the stock market usually bottoms when the Fed flinches (see early ’16, early ’19) ... or, if there’s a real growth problem, when the second derivative of economic activity turns (see Mar ’09, Apr ’20).    In that context, again my instinct is we’re just not there yet -- not only does the Fed put feel both smaller and farther out of the money than we’ve been accustomed to for a long time (arguably since the post-1994 era began), but the longer the tightening cycle rolls along, and the higher the unemployment rate goes, the more the markets will rightly worry about a recession (even if you believe, as I do, that the US economy is durable with plenty of nominal GDP still sloshing around). I’ll conclude this narrative with a chart, to followed by quick points and more charts ... I can find no better illustration of what’s currently challenging the stock market than this (link): 1-a. on the positioning front, the glaring wedge between hedge funds and households persists: i. GS Prime Brokerage data reflects some of the largest reduction of leverage on record (link).  n/b: I suspect the huge underperformance of implied volatility traces back to this point (which, for those watching, has been an immense oddity -- over the past 15 years, there have been 36 daily selloffs of 4% or more, and the VIX was never as low as it was on Wednesday). ii. that said, I continue to worry about the impact of US households de-risking.   here’s one way to frame it: total fund inflows from November of 2020 through March of 2022 were $1.34tr ... since the tide turned seven weeks ago, we’ve only unwound $47bn.   iii. given immense ownership differentials -- see chart 11 below for an illustration of how huge households are -- to my eye this nets out in favor of the bears.   now, if there’s a group who can help diffuse the supply/demand problem, it’s US corporates (yes, buyback activity through our franchise has picked up meaningfully over recent weeks).  1-b. A related point: as detailed by the WSJ (link) and our own team (link), the retail investor is quickly exiting the call option party.  to make the point: in the pre-COVID era, average daily notional in call options on US single stocks was around $100bn. At the peak in November of 2021 -- which is when a number of high velocity stocks put in their highs -- it was around $500bn. Fast forward to today, and we’re back down to $185bn/day. 2. The recent period has been a textbook illustration of the stark difference between volume and liquidity: volume in cash equities has never been higher (e.g. an average of 12.7bn shares per day in 2021, which is nearly 2x the run rate of 2019) ... yet, top-of-book liquidity in S&P futures registers in just the 3rd percentile of the past six years.   3. despite the ongoing selloff, the past few weeks have also brought moments that illustrate the difficulty of trading stocks from the short side, even if this is a bear market.  see chart 12 below, or witness daily price action in a custom basket of popular shorts, ticker GSCBMSAL. For the most short-term macro traders amongst you, if you want to play S&P from the short side, my sincere advice is to go home flat each night and reassess tomorrow morning -- this is a market to be traded, aggressively, but with extreme discipline. An alternative to this ultra-tactical approach is to utilize put spreads or 1-day gamma (ideas available). 4. I’m no expert in crude oil, but I’ve probably spent 10,000 hours with those who are, so here’s a bullish take: despite a record SPR release, a very strong dollar, shutdowns in the second largest economy on the planet and a break lower in most all risky assets, crude oil has largely stood its ground ... you can probably see where I’m going with this.  For the take of an expert, this note is worth a glance, the (surprising) punch line as I read it: “own commodities as financial conditions tighten.  in the past, spot and roll returns performed well when real rates rose, and particularly when financial conditions additionally tightened” (link). 5. US consumption: again, I worry a lot about building pressures on the low end consumer. While parts of this week’s data set were encouraging -- namely HD and government retail sales data -- what we heard from WMT and TGT was brutally clear: in addition to shipping and inventory issues, the cost of food and fuel is impinging on the US consumer.  This, as much as anything, was THE story of the week. On the other end of the spectrum, high end consumption is still off the charts (witness recent news stories on Manhattan real estate, art or fine wines).  I continue to think the medium-term reckoning of this wedge takes the form of ... higher taxes. 6. on US housing, I admit that a profoundly positive story has gotten a lot more complicated. On one hand, supply/demand favors ongoing strength. On the other hand, affordability seems to be a serious issue, and the move in mortgage rates is very significant.  Where do we come out? As Jan Hatzius in GIR put it to me, informally, there’s not necessarily a clear conclusion: “We cut our forecasts on homebuilding activity and house prices modestly, but the shortage of houses and overall tightness of the market should substantially dampen pressure on the sector.” If you’re interested, we have some interesting charts on this topic.  7. China: the data is so bad, it’s simply eye-popping (witness the worst IP print on record). In fact, GIR has cut our expectation of 2022 Chinese GDP growth to just 4%, which ex-2020 would be the slowest growth rate since ... 1990 (link).  for the sake of balance, Shanghai is set to reopen on June 1st and I suspect foreign trading length is approaching rock bottom.  For a balanced and comprehensive assessment of the regional economic outlook, this is worth a glance: link.   8. This is, if nothing else, some interesting brain food.  I asked Daniel Chavez in GIR to mark the moves in the COVID era in some popular assets. There are a lot of ways to approach this choose-your-own-adventure; the way we cut it was total returns from the lows of March 2020 to the highs (in NDX) of November of 2021 ... then from the November highs to today ... and then from the pre-COVID highs to today. A few things stick out to me, here’s one: point-to-point across the full COVID era, US energy stocks have far outperformed the stay-at-home stocks: 9. In a related spirit, and with credit to sales & trading colleague Brian Friedman, if you look the overlay of NDX P/E (white) with inverted 30-year US real yields (yellow), equities are doing what the move in real rates would suggest they should be doing: 10. With credit to David Kostin in GIR, here’s a bigger picture on tech.  For all of the recent troubles, you still have to marvel at the sustained growth of US mega cap names.  now I suppose the mega question is ... would you be willing to fade the broad pattern of this chart: 11. Another level set from GIR ... which, again, illustrates the size of households vs hedge funds (** 2% **) in the domestic equity market:  12. with credit to a client, an analog from the aftermath of the immediate aftermath in the LEH period, which again illustrates the difficulty of being short in the middle or late stages of a bear market: 13. Finally, and to continue the recent thread, this is a powerful chart of de-globalization ... If this were a chart of a security, I’d be inclined to sell it (link) Tyler Durden Sun, 05/22/2022 - 13:50.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 22nd, 2022

Target CEO On Earnings: We Are Seeing A Shift In Consumer Spending

Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC exclusive interview with Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) Chairman & CEO Brian Cornell on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” (M-F, 6AM-9AM ET) today, Wednesday, May 18th. Following is a link to video on Target CEO Brian Cornell On Earnings: We Are Seeing A Shift In Consumer Spending  BECKY QUICK: […] Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC exclusive interview with Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) Chairman & CEO Brian Cornell on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” (M-F, 6AM-9AM ET) today, Wednesday, May 18th. Following is a link to video on Target CEO Brian Cornell On Earnings: We Are Seeing A Shift In Consumer Spending  BECKY QUICK: As Andrew mentioned, Target missing the mark as costs rise for the retailer, the company reporting an adjusted $2.19 a share compared to the $3.07 the street was expecting. First quarter comps were up by 3.3%. That was much better than expected and traffic was up by 4%. Joining us right now is Target CEO Brian Cornell and Brian this has obviously been a pretty difficult quarter. 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Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q1 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more BRIAN CORNELL: Well, first of all, Becky, I appreciate being here during a difficult report. But it's a chance to talk about kind of our business and where things stand and I frame it by really looking at kind of the front of the house of our business and then the back of the house and if I think about the front of the house, the consumer against facing component and, you know, we saw really strong comps over 3% on top of 23% last year and importantly it was driven by traffic. Traffic up 4% on top of 17% last year, guests are shopping our stores, they're enjoying our services, they’re using drive up. But clearly the challenge for us in this quarter was that the back of the house. From a freight and transportation standpoint, things have changed significantly from even 13 weeks ago. We did not project I did not project the kind of significant increases we would see in freight and transportation costs and you've been talking about it on CNBC almost every day. I think yet again this morning you talked about all-time record fuel and diesel costs. Right now we project that's going to hit us about a billion dollars of incremental costs in this fiscal year. So a significant increase that we didn't anticipate. The other change is in our category mix. While our comps grew by 3.3% pretty balanced between digital and stores, we added another billion dollars in incremental growth in the quarter. The mix of the categories looked very different than we expected. We saw great strength in food and beverage and household essentials. Our beauty business grew by double digits. But we started to see some softening in some of the discretionary categories, including those big bulky categories, TVs, kitchen appliances, bikes, as a consumer started to shop differently. I'll come back and talk about what we're seeing from a trend standpoint that certainly impacted our mix and our margin mix. But it's also added complexity in our supply chain. Those big bulky items are now in our supply chain not moving at the rate we expected. We had inventory that we would have liked to have last year that arrived late and we pulled certain inventories up early to make sure we're ready for the back to school and back to college season. So that's added additional complexity and cost in our supply chain. And we did not anticipate that kind of change as we were sitting here 13 weeks ago. So we own it, but freight transportation, a change in mix and then the increased complexity in supply chain have added obviously pressure to our operating income. QUICK: If those things were not anticipated 13 weeks ago, what are you seeing now for the month of May? Is the consumer rolling over at all, are any of these situations improving how do you get your arms around it? CORNELL: Becky thinking about the consumer right now, one we've seen May off to a very strong start. American families celebrated Mother's Day, we saw record sales and fresh flowers and plants and things like champagne and gifting. Mom was recognized. And I really want to go back to some of those trend changes we've seen. It's a shopping change in how they're spending their dollars, but we're still seeing strong traffic and we're still seeing growth. A year ago, during the pandemic, we were buying lots of TVs for our homes as many Americans were really the last two years have been working and educating their families from home. Well, they're shifting from buying TVs to buying luggage and our luggage business was up over 50%. They're traveling again. JOE KERNEN: They were buying TVs when there was something to watch on Netflix Brian. Unfortunately, Netflix has its own problem because there's nothing that's not that's not your fault. Could you have and I'm wondering when you're thinking about profitability versus maintaining market share, could you have raised prices, what would have happened if you raised prices to soften that the margin hit that you were taking because of all the increased expenses? Would you have, did you feel at the time if you raised prices that you would have lost customers they would have they would have resisted there, I mean, it must be very difficult to set prices. And then the other thing is you when you hear all the rhetoric out of Washington, was that in the back of your mind when they blame all the inflation on greedy US corporations is that in the back of your mind, I can't raise prices to maintain my own margins because of this? CORNELL: Joe, it’s been in the back of my mind is one taking care of those guests and those families that depend on us for value and affordability each and every day and certainly during a time of inflation that's more important than ever, and taking care of our teams. So we've been really focused on making sure we surgically and selectively pass on some costs where we can, but we've got to make sure right now we provide value for that consumer who is again still shopping in our stores and still using our site. So it's a balance. KERNEN: But you won't do it this quarter either. You won’t get, you won't get prices more in line with your costs this quarter either. Just the— CORNELL: We’re still going to have some of the same challenges in the second quarter. We certainly expect those to moderate over the balance of the year as we rebalance our inventories and look at opportunities to improve efficiency. But we're going to continue to stay focused on protecting the consumer and those guests who shop our stores, provide them great value because they are still shopping our stores and we're seeing great resilience with the consumer. You know, I talked about TVs being exchanged for luggage, you know, those small appliances that were in everyone's shopping basket over the last couple of years, those are being replaced by consumers are shopping for more toys because Becky right now, they're going to birthday parties for the first time in a couple of years. So they're still spending it's a consumer who comes to Target to shop all of our categories, but we're seeing a shift in what they shop and how they're shopping right now. QUICK: The change in consumer trends is that a bigger problem from the perspective that it's lower margin items that they're buying, or is it more an issue of just trying to keep up with these changing shifts and make sure you have the right stuff in store and you wind up with excess inventory because you're still buying stuff that they were buying, you know, four months ago? CORNELL: It's a combination of both. Obviously, there's a mix shifts as we see food and beverage accelerate or household essentials, and a decline in some of those discretionary categories like TVs and appliances. But we're also sitting here today recognizing we've got big, bulky inventory. You know, TVs take up a lot of space in our warehouses, small appliances, bikes that are not selling the way they did. So we've had some supply chain challenges we've got to work through. But I also want to make sure it's really clear, even in categories like toys, in small appliances, in bikes, our sales are actually ahead this quarter, versus where they were in 2019 pre-pandemic. So it's not like consumers are not buying TVs, they’re not buying small appliances, they’re not buying bikes for their kids, it's just comparing it versus the pandemic surge that we saw in those categories that were so important to the consumer during the pandemic. They're still shopping but they started to spend dollars differently. QUICK: I mean, that's a big question. And one of the things people are looking through your results, Walmart's results, Home Depot and Lowe's results is to try and find out what is happening with the consumer. We hear all the time that a recession could be coming. You would probably be one of the very first to see it if it started to impact the consumer. Have you seen anything on that sign now? Walmart talked yesterday about how some shoppers were trading down from national brands, premium brands to house brands. Have you seen that? CORNELL: Becky, in the first quarter we didn't see that. Obviously we saw very strong traffic and strong comps across our entire business and May is off to a really solid start. Good traffic, strong comps. I talked about Mother's Day. I would expect Memorial Day to be a big holiday season. So as I sit here today, I'm not seeing any sign of a consumer slowdown. I can’t project out six months from now. But just what we're seeing today and what we saw in the first quarter, it's still a consumer who is out shopping and enjoying getting back to normal life. KERNEN: You have a lot of stakeholders we hear about, you know, that's the buzzword in recent years. Your stakeholders are shareholders. So shareholders probably rightly would – you know you had 46 points today – but would rightly say, maybe you need to think about profitability, in addition to taking care of your customers with those low prices. And the reason I'm returning to this is because if you do decide to raise prices to maintain not full profitability, but get back closer to where you were, then we need to factor that into everybody doing it and what the PPI or what the CPI looks like, over the next three months for Jay Powell and company. How much did you raise prices last quarter overall? CORNELL: Our prices at retail increase less than our costs, but we did take some price increases. KERNEN: How much? CORNELL: But to be really clear, we're always focused on balancing what's right for the consumer and our guest, what's right for our team, and what's right for our shareholders. KERNEN: Would you raise it more next quarter? CORNELL: Well, we're going to certainly do everything we can to find greater efficiency and improve our overall profitability and there’s things we have to do behind the house. So in our guidance, we said expect the second quarter to look a lot like the first quarter within marginal improvement in the back half of the year. And then we're committed to our long term algorithm of getting back to mid-single digit top line growth, mid-single digit operating income growth, and then high single digit EPS. We'll continue to spend capital in our business to make sure we're positioned for long term success. But we always balance what's right for the guests and our consumer, what's right to take care of our team and then what's right for our shareholders. I've seen Joe, I’m going on my ninth year in this job. We've had to invest before in taking care of the guests, taking care of our team. It always pays back over time. KERNEN: Do you feel confident that the Fed and Jay Powell can orchestrate a soft landing and actually get inflation under control? Because it obviously makes a big difference for your business. CORNELL: Joe, I’ll leave that to other people to opine on. What we've had to be prepared for is just to be agile and adjust to a changing consumer and economic environment. So we have a business model that performs well in a number of different environments. We'll have to make sure we're agile and flex based on consumer needs and trends. So would I pull from a soft landing? Absolutely. And I hope everything, you know, Chairman Powell is doing really works well over the balance of the year and in 2023 but we've had to be agile and make sure we can adjust to any economic environment. KERNEN: Do you think that any type of foreshadowing – should you have told, or indicated through body language that things were not going to be up to speed? Should – but Walmart same question. You can't answer for Walmart. But three months from now could the street be surprised or would you maybe indicate mid-quarter that things aren’t proceeding as planned? CORNELL: Joe, I'll sit here today. 13 weeks ago, we had a very different outlook for the year and I'll take complete accountability for the fact we didn't project properly. The rising cost of transportation and freight, we didn't call the billion dollars back then. Things move pretty rapidly. We didn't expect the next shift. We're certainly looking at consumers getting back to normal and some changes in lifestyle and impact of stimulus. We didn't expect to see this kind of mix shift. And we certainly didn't project the impact on our supply chain. So we own that, I own that. We're working to turn that around. We're confident we will. We've had a very durable business model. We have a great team and capabilities. But I'll take full accountability for the fact that we missed some of these factors. And that's on us to improve over time. Starting with the second quarter and the back half of the year but certainly as we go into 2023 QUICK: Brian, I want to thank you for coming on. You’ve come on good day as you've come on on tough days. We do appreciate your explaining this. Last quick question. I'll ask you if it were things like freight costs that were going up how far out can you see – measure something like that? Is that something you see for six weeks out for something you can see for a couple of months? CORNELL: Well, I think we all saw this change really quickly. And again, we were sitting here 13 weeks ago – it was the early days of the Russia/Ukraine war and things move very quickly. And I hope we'll see some modification over time. But you know, it's very hard for us at times to project all of these different variables, and we do our very best, but we've got to stay close to the consumer. Stay close to our team. Do the right things for our business over time. And I've seen time and time again, when we take care of the guests and take care of consumers. When we take care of our team, our shareholders are rewarded. KERNEN: Would you ever weigh in on whether we should spend any more money fiscally – should we? We spent quite a bit. Do you think that had something to do with what we're dealing with now and should we maybe take a step back and try and look back a year from now about whether we do build back whatever it's called? CORNELL: Joe, I spend a lot of time looking back but right now we have to look forward and really think about what we do next and navigate through this landscape. KERNEN: Ok. I gave it a shot. Anyway. Thanks. QUICK: Brian, I just want to thank you again for coming on, even when times are tough for answering all these questions. CORNELL: Thanks for having me. Updated on May 18, 2022, 12:23 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkMay 18th, 2022

Mississippi banned most abortions to be the "safest state" for the unborn. Meanwhile, one in three Mississippi kids live in poverty

Mississippi will defend its abortion ban before the Supreme Court on December 1. Back home, one in three Mississippi kids live in poverty. Drusilla Hicks, a single mom in Mississippi, with her two youngest kids.Rory Doyle for Insider Mississippi lawmakers said the ban on most abortions after 15 weeks would make Mississippi 'the safest state in the country' for the unborn.  The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to Mississippi's abortion law on Dec. 1. Advocates say Mississippi, the poorest state in the country, offers little support for children 'once they're here.' Brandon, Mississippi – Drusilla Hicks sinks into her couch. A week ago, she and her three young kids moved into their new home. After unloading the moving truck herself, unpacking all the boxes, and hanging photos on the wall, she's exhausted. All around her, stacks of folded laundry are perched on every available surface. Hicks wakes at five o'clock every morning and doesn't get home from work until dark. Between her daughter's cheerleading practice, her son's homework, and the baby's bath time, she rarely gets time to herself. The only reason she was home alone on a late October morning was because she'd been in a car accident the day before. Her body aching, Hicks, who's 28, was supposed to be resting. But the laundry won't fold itself. As a single mom with no child support, Hicks struggles. Her mother and the kids' grandmothers help out with childcare when they can. But the salary she earns from her job as an office manager for the county isn't enough to cover her bills. Her income is just a bit over the threshold for her to qualify for state aid. After trying repeatedly to request some kind of assistance, she's stopped asking. Instead, a friend helps her pay the bills each month. Without him, she's not sure where she and her children would be living. Right now, she's worried about how she will pay the $1,000 deductible to repair her car from the accident. To provide for her children, she often "pinches," or goes without."I'm trying to give my children a better life than I had," Hicks says. "It's hard because I'm trying to make sure they do the extra stuff they want to do, as well as make sure my bills are paid. If I don't have something, I go without and they'll just never know."After a moment, she gets up again. Soon, it will be time to pick up the kids. The children that are hereIn March of 2019, Mississippi drew national headlines when Governor Phil Bryant signed into law one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country, making Mississippi – as backers of the bill frequently put it – "the safest place in the country for unborn babies." A challenge to the law, which bans most abortions after 15 weeks, has made it to the US Supreme Court and oral arguments are scheduled for Dec 1. It will be the first major challenge to abortion rights that the court has heard since Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative Trump appointee, was seated. Drusilla Hicks walks with her son.Rory Doyle for InsiderIn the meantime, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch has been making the rounds on the national Christian media circuit—she rarely speaks with media in the state—touting the "empowering" options and opportunities that would stem from overturning Roe v. Wade.  "You have the option in life to really achieve your dream and goals, and you can have those beautiful children as well," Flynn said in September. But community leaders and organizers left with filling in the gaps left from the absence of state aid tell another story. They point to past legislative sessions where Mississippi leaders have repeatedly passed laws that make it harder for families to access aid, while stonewalling on bills that are designed to address income gaps. All of this puts Mississippi on the path to forcing women to have children, then providing little to no safety net once the children are born."We've had so many state leaders who have talked about wanting Mississippi to be the safest state in the country for unborn babies. Every time I hear that, I think, 'Oh my god, let's make this state the safest in the country for born babies,'" said Carol Burnette, executive director of the nonprofit Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative. "They're so determined about their anti-abortion stance; there's just no similar match to being concerned about children once they're here."A domino effect Mississippi is the poorest state in the nation. Around 600,000 people here, nearly 20 percent of Mississippians, live in poverty. It's even higher for kids: one in three Mississippi children live in poverty.In Mississippi, maternal deaths occur in 33.2 of every 100,000 births – nearly twice the national average of 17 deaths per 100,000 – and the state has the highest rate of infant mortality. Mississippi classrooms teach abstinence as sex education; there is no promotion of safe sex or contraceptives. The state has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the nation. Additionally, Mississippi is the only state without a law requiring equal pay, which advocates say especially disadvantages Black women and single moms. The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a  consistantly lists Mississippi last in its annual state ranking of overall child well-being. The issues facing poor Mississippi families are interconnected, creating a domino effect, so one issue exacerbates another.A wall of family photos at Drusilla Hicks' new home.Rory Doyle for InsiderAccording to Lea Anne Brandon, a former spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Children and Families, the overwhelming majority of children removed from their homes were living in poverty. "It wasn't 'I don't want to take care of this child,'" Brandon said. "It's 'I don't have the resources to or I don't have money to put them in daycare,' or 'I don't have enough money to buy them food or clothes or medicine.'"Based on the thousands of children and families she's seen, Brandon said the state often swoops in to "rescue" children instead of addressing the issue on the front end. "We're pro-birth. Are we pro-life? We want them born but once they're born, what do we do? 'Here's a pack of diapers' and 'Isn't your child cute?'" Brandon said. Nakeitra Burse, a maternal health advocate who works with pregnant women and mothers, has a unique vantage point of seeing both the administrative hurdles and the myriad of consequences that stem from a patchwork of care. Hospital closures in rural areas, and funding issues at hospitals across the state, for example, puts pregnant women at greater peril, she said.Burse points to a recent tragedy, where a young pregnant woman suffered a heart attack. The family lived in a rural part of the state that doesn't have a county hospital, and so the woman's husband attempted to drive her to a neighboring county. They didn't make it. The husband performed CPR on his dying wife on the side of the road. She and the baby died four days before her due date. "When you think about rural Mississippi, those access and quality issues are a big problem," Burse said. She continues: "Mississippi is so small, I know people that know her."A brigade of helpersThe tight group of activists, organizers and policy experts who work in this area come together to provide, in many instances, what the state does not. Born out of necessity, they've formed a unique brigade. Cassandra Welchlin with the Black Women's Roundtable is the voice in the room when it comes to equal pay and how the disparity impacts Black mothers. She'll defer to Burse when it comes to maternal health; Burse rattles off statistics with barely a breath in between, and can talk for hours about the importance of doulas. Cassandra Overton Welchlin (right) at a 2018 event to boost voter participation in Mississippi.Rogelio V. Solis/AP PhotoAnd childcare once those babies are born? That's Burnette's wheelhouse. If childcare isn't available or a mom needs help paying her bills that month, it's over to Laurie Bertram Roberts, co-founder of the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund and executive director of the Yellowhammer Fund in Alabama, which also advocates for abortion access. Each of the women has dedicated their life to helping Mississippi women and families. Each of them also express frustration that the state isn't doing more, and, they feel in some instances, making it harder for women to get the help they so desperately need. Republican lawmakers in the state say their thinking comes down to responsible and sustainable budgeting. Burnette says that she spends a lot of her days navigating the red tape that state lawmakers have put up that makes it more difficult for Mississippians to access federal services. Take the Child Care Certificate Program, a federal block grant. More than 100,000 Mississippi children should be eligible, but in 2019 – the most recent year for which there's data – just 20,900 benefited from the program. The federal program is most commonly used by single mothers, but the state added an additional requirement: single parents have to cooperate with child support enforcement in order to enroll, meaning they have to provide information about the children's father so the state can track him down. Many are reluctant to do so. Laurie Bertram Roberts, left, confronts an abortion opponent blocking the driveway at Jackson Women's Health Organization in 2013. It's the sole abortion clinic in the state.Rogelio V. Solis/AP PhotoPrudent spending and a fair sliceWhile those on the ground have no shortage of suggestions to help push the state forward, on the top of almost everyone's wish lists is expanding access to Medicaid, a federally funded health care program for the poor. But it remains a major, if unreachable, priority for state Democrats. Currently, low-income women in the state can qualify for Medicaid coverage during their pregnancy and for 60 days after the birth of the child, and two thirds of births in the state are covered by Medicaid.Under the Affordable Care Act, states could opt-in to expand Medicaid coverage. But Mississippi lawmakers opted against it, joining 11 other states to date. In the 2021 legislative session, a proposal to expand Medicaid coverage to mothers for one year after the birth of the child postpartum failed to make it out of committee. From the top down, Mississippi Republican leaders have repeatedly spoken out against Medicaid expansion, including the state's current governor, Tate Reeves, and Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn. In his budget proposal for the 2022 fiscal year, Reeves said, "I remain adamantly opposed to Medicaid expansion in Mississippi. I firmly believe that it is not good public policy to place 300,000 additional Mississippians on government-funded health care."His spokesperson Bailey Martin told Insider, "Governor Reeves remains opposed to the expansion of Obamacare and Medicaid in Mississippi."Other issues impact affordability, too. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Mississippi is short 42,000 affordable housing units for families in need. Single-mother households with children under the age of 18 are in the most danger of facing eviction within the next few months, according to Matthew Carpenter of the NAACP. "We see the linkage between quality affordable housing and pretty much everything," he said. "The state being a low-income, low wage state, that impacts housing prospects for a lot of people, and it impacts the well-being of the kids.In Mississippi, eight out of ten Black women are heads of household, and many of the state's problems, from poverty to bad health outcomes, would be made more manageable if women's work – and especially Black women's work – was made more valuable, Welchlin said.Drusilla Hicks collects her youngest child from the car.Rory Doyle for InsiderTo push that debate along, every year members of the Black Women's Roundtable take slices of pie to the state legislature and leave them on the desks of representatives and senators. The message: we want our slice of the pie.For Burnette, The resistance to bolstering the state's social safety net is "inextricably tied to race" and a false narrative of the "welfare queen.""Mississippi has a long history of resisting federal programs and federal funding that comes in with the intent to improve things for poor people," she said. In fact, she said, "single moms have incredible work ethic." But they have to make ends meet with minimum wage jobs, while navigating the lack of affordable housing and affordable and flexible childcare. "They're working, they're just working in jobs that pay too little and because they're a single mom and the sole earner, they're hampered – not only by low wages but being the only wage earner," Burnette said.A full house Back in Brandon, it's been a week since Hicks' car accident. After work, she picks up the kids, and a pizza for dinner. Settled at the kitchen table, each of the older children grab a plate. Hicks does not, feeding the baby instead. Hicks has been in her new house for a week but already it has a warm, lived-in look, like they've been there for years. There are framed photos of the children on the wall, mirrors are hung just so, and a pumpkin is arranged on the front porch for fall. They clear the plates. In the living room, Hicks' daughter practices a cheer routine, which Hicks videos on her phone. Her son circles them on his skateboard. He's energetic, a showman. Later, as she helps him with homework, she worries about his grades.The worrying never really goes away. Hicks wonders if she's doing enough as a mom, and what more she can do to provide for her kids. Dinnertime at the Hicks home.Rory Doyle for InsiderDrusilla Hicks making a cellphone video of her daughter's cheer routine.Rory Doyle for InsiderDrusilla Hicks with her three kids.Rory Doyle for InsiderDrusilla Hicks gives her youngest kid a bath while her daughter looks on.Rory Doyle for InsiderDrusilla Hicks putting her son to bed.Rory Doyle for InsiderDrusilla Hicks getting a rare moment to herself.Rory Doyle for InsiderThe night winding down, she bathes the baby in the kitchen sink and tucks her son into bed in his Spiderman sheets. For a moment, it's quiet and Hicks takes a minute to herself, sitting with her phone in the dark. Hicks is stressed, but she's too exhausted at the end of each day for it to keep her awake at night. "I go to sleep as soon as my head hits the pillow," she says. She has to sleep sometime. In just a few short hours, it starts all over again. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 26th, 2021

Money, Funny-Money, & Crypto

Money, Funny-Money, & Crypto Authored by Alasdair Macleod via, That the post-industrial era of fiat currencies is coming to an end is becoming a real possibility. Major economies are now stalling while price inflation is just beginning to take off, following the excessive currency debasement in all major jurisdictions since the Lehman crisis and accelerated even further by covid. The dilemma now faced by central banks is whether to raise interest rates sufficiently to tackle price inflation and lend support to their currencies, or to take one last gamble on yet more stimulus in the hope that recessions can be avoided. Politics and neo-Keynesian economics strongly favour monetary inflation and continued interest rate suppression. But following that course leads to the destruction of currencies. So, how should ordinary people protect themselves from currency risk? To assist them, this article draws out the distinctions between money, currency, and bank credit. It examines the claims of cryptocurrencies to be replacement money or currencies, explaining why they will be denied either role. An update is given on the uncanny resemblance between current neo-Keynesian monetary inflation and support for financial asset prices, compared with John Law’s proto-Keynesian policies which destroyed the French economy and currency in 1720. Assuming we continue to follow Law’s playbook, an understanding why money is only physical gold and silver and nothing else will be vital to surviving what appears to be a looming crisis in financial assets and currencies. Introduction With the recent acceleration in the growth of money supply it is readily apparent that government spending is increasingly financed through monetary inflation. Those who hoped it would be a temporary phenomenon are being shown to have been overly optimistic. The excuse that its expansion was only a one-off event limited to supporting businesses and consumers through the covid pandemic is now being extended to seeing them through continuing logistics disruptions along with other unexpected problems. We now face an economic slowdown which will reduce government revenues and, according to policy planners, may require additional monetary stimulation to preclude. Along with never-ending budget deficits, for the foreseeable future monetary inflation at elevated levels is here to stay. The threat to the future purchasing power of currencies should be obvious, yet few people appear to be attributing rising prices to prior monetary expansion. David Ricardo’s equation of exchange whereby changes in the quantity of money are shown to affect its purchasing power down the line has disappeared from the inflation narrative and is all but forgotten. That the users of the medium of exchange ultimately determine its utility is ignored. It is now assumed to be the state’s function to decide what acts as money and not its users. Instead, we are told that the state’s fiat currency is money, will always be money and that prices are rising due to failures of the capitalist system. Central to the deception is to call currency money, and to persist in describing its management by the state as monetary policy. And money supply is always the supply of fiat currency in all its forms. That these so-called monetary policies have failed and continue to do so is becoming more widely appreciated. It is the anti-capitalistic attitude of state planners which absolves them from the blame of mismanaging the relationship between their currencies and economies by blaming private sector actors when their policies fail. Instead of acting as the people’s servants, governments have become their controllers, expecting the public’s sheep-like cooperation in economic and monetary affairs. The state issues its currency backed by unquestioned faith and credit in the government’s monopoly to issue and manage it. Seeming to recognise the potential failure of their currency monopolies many central banks now intend to issue a new version, a central bank digital currency to give greater control over how citizens use and value it. Without doubt, the dangers from fiat currency instability are increasing. Never has it been more important for ordinary people, its users, to understand what real money constitutes and its difference from state-issued currencies. Not only are new currencies in the form of central bank digital currencies being proposed but some suggest that distributed ledger cryptocurrencies, which are beyond the control of governments, will be adopted when state fiat currencies fail, an eventual development for which increasing numbers of people expect. The currency scene is descending into a confusion for which policy planners are unprepared. Fiat currencies are failing, evidenced by declining purchasing power. Not only is it the lesson of history; not only are governments resorting to the printing press or its digital equivalent, but it is naïve to think that governments desire monetary stability over satisfying the interests of one group over those of another. By suppressing interest rates, central banks favour borrowers over depositors. By issuing additional currency they transfer wealth from their governments’ electors. The transfer is never equitable either, with early receivers of new currency getting to spend it before prices have adjusted to accommodate the increased quantity in circulation. Those who receive it last find that prices have risen because of currency dilution while their income has been devalued. The beneficiaries are those close to government and the banks who expand credit by ledger entry. The losers are the poor and pensioners — the people who in democratic theory are more morally entitled to protection from currency debasement than anyone else. The true role of money In the late eighteenth century, a French businessman and economist, Jean-Baptiste Say, noticed that when France’s currencies failed during the Revolution, people simply exchanged goods for other goods. A cobbler would exchange the shoes and boots he made for the food and other items he required to feed and sustain his family. The principles behind the division of labour had continued without money. But it became clear to Say that the role of money was to facilitate this exchange more efficiently than could be achieved in its absence. For Keynesian economists, this is the inconvenient truth of Say’s law. The division of labour, which permits individuals to deploy their personal skills to the greatest benefit for themselves and therefore for others, remains central to the commercial actions of all humanity. It is the mainspring of progress. A medium of exchange commonly accepted by society not only facilitates the efficient exchange of goods produced through individual skills but it allows a producer to retain money temporarily for future consumption. This can be because he has a surplus for his immediate requirements, or he decides to invest it in improving his product, increasing his output, or for other purposes than immediate consumption. Whether it is a corporation, manager, employee, or sole trader; whether the product be a good or a service— all qualify as producers. Everyone earning a living or striving to make a profit is a producer. Over the many millennia that have elapsed since the end of barter, people dividing their labour settled on metallic money as the mediums of exchange; recognisable, divisible, commonly accepted, and being scarce also valuable. And as civilisation progressed gold, silver, and copper were coined into recognisable units. These media of exchange in their unadulterated form were money, and even though they were stamped with images of kings and emperors, they were no one’s liability. Nowadays, humans across the planet still recognise physical gold and silver as true money. But it is a mistake to think they guarantee price stability — only that they are more stable than other media of exchange, which is why they have always survived and re-emerged after alternatives have failed. This is the key to understanding why they guaranteed money substitutes, notably through industrial revolutions, and remain money to this day. Britain led the way in replacing silver as its long-standing monetary standard with gold, relegating silver to a secondary coinage. In 1817 the new gold sovereign was introduced at the exchange rate equivalent of 113 grains (0.2354 ounces troy) to the pound currency. A working gold standard, whereby bank notes were exchangeable for gold coin commenced in 1821, remaining at that fixed rate until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. By 1900, the gold standard had international as well as domestic aspects. It implied that nations settled balance of payment differences with each other in gold, although in practice this seems to have happened relatively little. Many smaller nations, while having domestic gold circulation, did not bother to keep physical gold in reserve, but held sterling balances which, again, were regarded as being as good as gold. The Bank of England had a remarkably small reserve of under 200 tonnes in 1900, compared with the Bank of France which held 544 tonnes, the Imperial Bank of Russia with 661 tonnes, and the US Treasury with 602 tonnes. But even though remarkably little gold was held by the Bank of England, over 1,400 tonnes of sovereign coins had been minted in Australia and the UK and were in public circulation. Therefore, some £200m of the UK and its empire’s money supply was in physical gold (the equivalent of £62bn at today’s prices). The relationship between gold and prices Metallic money’s purchasing power fluctuates, influenced by long-term factors such as changes in mine output and population growth. Gold is also held for non-monetary purposes such as jewellery though the distinction between bullion held as money and jewellery can be fuzzy. A minor use is industrial. The degree of coin circulation relative to the quantity of substitutes also affects its purchasing power, as experience from nineteenth century Britain attests. The economic progress of the industrial revolution increased the volume of goods relative to the quantity of money and money-substitutes (bank notes and bank deposits subject to cheques), so the general level of producer prices declined, even though they varied with changes in the level of bank credit. That generally held until the late-1880s, when bank credit in the economy expanded on the back of increased shipments of gold from South Africa. Furthermore, a combination of rising demand for industrial commodities through economic expansion of the entire British empire and more currencies linking themselves to gold indirectly via managed exchange rates against pounds and other gold-backed currencies all contributed to reverse the declining trend of wholesale prices between 1894—1914. Consequently, wholesale prices no longer declined but tended to increase modestly. This is shown in Figure 1. Figure 1 also explodes the myth in central bank monetary policy circles that varying interest rates controls money’s purchasing power by “pricing” money. Demand for credit is set by the economic calculations of businessmen and entrepreneurs, not idle rentiers as assumed by Keynes who named this paradox after Arthur Gibson, who pointed it out in 1923. The explanation eluded Keynes and his followers but is simple. In assessing the profitability of production, the most important variable (assuming that the means of production are readily available) is anticipated prices for finished products. Changes in borrowing rates, reflecting the affordability of interest that could be paid therefore do not precede changes in prices but follow changes in prices for this reason. While fluctuations in the sum of the quantities of money, currency and credit affect the general level of prices, there is an additional effect of the value placed on these components by its users. History has demonstrated that the most stable value is placed on gold coin, which is what qualifies it as money. It has been said that priced in gold a Roman toga 2,000 years ago cost the same as a lounge suit today. But we don’t need to go back that far for our evidence. Figure 2 shows WTI oil priced in dollars, the world’s reserve currency, and gold both indexed to 1986. Clearly, the dollar is significantly less reliable than gold as a stable medium of exchange. So long as gold is freely exchangeable for currency, this stability is imparted to currency as well. When it is suspected that this exchangeability is likely to be compromised, coin becomes hoarded and disappears from circulation. The purchasing power of the currency then becomes dependent on a combination of changes in its quantity and changes in faith in the issuer. Bank deposits face the additional risk of faith in the bank’s ability to pay its debts. In summary, the general level of prices tends to fall gradually over time in an economy where gold coin circulates as the underlying medium of exchange, and when faith in the currency as its circulating alternative is unquestioned. The existence of a coin exchange facility lifts the purchasing power of the currency above where it would otherwise be without a functioning standard. Even when gold exchange for a fiat currency becomes restricted, the purchasing power of the currency continues to enjoy some support, as we saw during the Bretton Woods Agreement. The distinction between money and currency So far, we have defined money, which is metallic and physical. Now we turn to what is erroneously taken to be money, which is currency. Originally, the dollar and pound sterling were freely exchangeable by its users for silver and then gold coin, so state-issued currencies came to be assumed to be as good as money. But its exchangeability diminished over time. In the United Kingdom exchangeability of sterling currency for gold coin ceased with the outbreak of hostilities in 1914, though sovereigns still exist as money officially today. They are simply subject to Gresham’s law, driven out of general circulation by inferior currency. The post-war gold standard of 1925-32 was a bullion standard whereby only 400-ounce bars could be demanded for circulating currency, which failed to tie in sterling to money proper. In the United States, gold coin was exchangeable for dollars in the decades before April 1933 at $20.67 to the ounce. Bank failures following the Wall Street crash encouraged citizens to exchange dollar deposits for gold, and foreign holders of dollar deposits similarly demanded gold, leading to a drain on American gold reserves. By Executive Order 6102 in April 1933 President Roosevelt banned private sector ownership of gold coin, gold bullion and gold certificates, thereby ending the gold coin standard and forcing Americans to accept inconvertible dollar currency as the circulating medium of exchange. This was followed by a devaluation of the dollar on the international exchanges to $35 to the ounce in January 1934. The entire removal of money from the global currency system was a gradual process, driven by a progression of currency events, until August 1971 when President Nixon ended the Bretton Woods Agreement. From then on, the US dollar became the world’s reserve currency, commonly used for pricing commodities and energy on international markets. But following the Nixon shock, the dollar had become purely fiat. Unlike gold coin, which has no counterparty risk, fiat currency is evidence of either a liability of an issuing central bank or of a commercial bank. It is not money. The fact that money, being gold or silver coin does not commonly circulate as media of exchange, cannot alter this fact. Since the dawn of modern banking with London’s goldsmiths in the seventeenth century, who deployed ledger debits and credits, most currency entitlements have been held in bank deposits, which are not the property of deposit customers, being liabilities of the banks and owed to them. It started with depositors placing specie with goldsmiths or transferring currency to them from other accounts on the understanding a goldsmith would deploy the funds so acquired to obtain sufficient profit to pay a 6% interest on deposits. To earn this return, it was agreed by the depositor that the funds would become the goldsmith’s property to be used as the goldsmith saw fit. Goldsmiths and their banking successors were and still are dealers in credit. As the goldsmiths’ banking business evolved, they would create deposits by extending credit to borrowers. A loan to the borrower appeared as an asset on a goldsmith’s balance sheet, which through double-entry book-keeping was balanced by a liability being the deposit facility from which the borrower would draw down the loan. Thus, money and currency issued by banks as claims upon them were replaced entirely by book-entry liabilities owed to depositors, encashable into specie, central bank currency or banker’s cheque only on demand. Through the expansion of bank credit, which is matched by the creation of deposits through double-entry book-keeping, commercial banks create liabilities subject to withdrawal as currency to this day. That there is an underlying cycle of expansion and contraction of bank credit is evidenced by the composite price index and bond yields between 1817 and 1885 shown in Figure 1 above. But so long as money, that is gold coin, remained exchangeable with currency and bank deposits on demand, fluctuations in outstanding bank credit only had a relatively short-term effect on the general level of prices. And as explained above, the expansion of the quantity of above-ground gold stocks from South African mines in the late 1880s contributed to the general level of prices increasing in the final decade of the nineteenth century until the First World War. Following the Great War, the earlier creation of the Federal Reserve Board in the United States led to the expansion of circulating dollar currency, fuelling the Roaring Twenties and the Wall Street bubble, followed by the Wall Street crash and the depression. These calamities were the inevitable consequence of excessive credit creation in the 1920s. The error made by statist economists at the time (and ever since) was to ignore what caused the depression, believing it to be a contemporaneous failure of capitalism instead of the consequence of earlier currency debasement and interest rate suppression. From then on, this error has been perpetuated by statists frustrated by the discipline imposed upon them by monetary gold. The solution was seen to be to remove money from the currency system so that the state would have unlimited flexibility to manage economic outcomes. With America dominating the global economy after the First World War, her use of the dollar both domestically and internationally had begun to dominate global economic outcomes. The errors of earlier currency expansion ahead of and during the Roaring Twenties, admittedly exacerbated by the introduction of farm machinery, led to a global slump in agricultural prices the following decade. And the additional error of Glass Stegall tariffs collapsed global trade in all goods. Following the Second World War, secondary wars in Korea and Vietnam led to exported dollars being accumulated and then sold by foreign central banks for American’s gold reserves. In 1948, America had 21,628.4 tonnes of gold reserves, 72% of the world total. By 1971, when the facility for central banks to encash dollars for gold was suspended, US gold reserves had fallen to 12,398 tonnes, 34% of world gold reserves. Today it stands officially at 8,133.5 tonnes, being less than 23% of world gold reserves — figures independently unaudited and suspected by many observers to overstate the true position. The consequences of currency expansion for the relationship between money and currency since the two were completely severed in 1971 is shown in Figure 3. Since 1960 (the indexed base of the chart) above-ground gold stocks have increased from 62,475 tonnes by about 200% to 189,000 tonnes — offset to a large degree by world population growth.[iv] M3 broad money has increased by 70 times, the disparity in these rates of increase being adjusted by the increase in the dollar price of money, with the dollar losing 98% of its purchasing power relative to gold. By basing the chart on 1960 much of the currency expansion which led to the collapse of the London gold pool in the mid-1960s is captured, illustrating the strains in the relationship that led to the Nixon shock. The rival status of cryptocurrencies Over the last decade, led by bitcoin cryptocurrencies have become a popular hedge against fiat currency debasement. Bitcoin has a finite limit of 21 million coins, having less than 2¼ million yet to be mined. And of those issued, some are irretrievably lost, theoretically adding to their value. Fans of cryptocurrencies are unusual, because they have grasped the essential weakness of state-issued fiat currencies ahead of the wider public. Armed with this knowledge they claim that distributed ledger technology independent from governments will form the basis of tomorrow’s money. It has led to a speculative frenzy, driving bitcoin’s price from a reported 10,000 for two pizzas in 2010 (therefore worth less than a cent each) to over $60,000 today. If, as hodlers hope, bitcoin replaces all state-issued fiat currencies when they fail, then the increase in its dollar value has much further to go. In theory there are reasons that bitcoin and similar cryptocurrencies can become media of exchange in a limited capacity, but never money, the basis that all currencies referred to for their original validity. Indeed, some transactions following the original pizza purchase have occurred since, but they are very few. The reasons bitcoin or rival cryptocurrencies are unlikely to be accepted widely as currencies, let alone as a replacement for money, are best summed up in the following bullet points. To replace money, as opposed to currencies, bitcoin would have to be accepted as a replacement for both gold and silver. Beyond the imagination of tech-savvy enthusiasts, making up perhaps less than one in two hundred transacting humans, it is impossible to see bitcoin achieving this goal, because they represent a vanishingly small number of the global population. There can be little doubt that if fiat currencies lose their utility the overwhelming majority of transacting individuals will desire physical money, and not another form of digital media, which currencies in the main and cryptocurrencies have become. Despite the advance of technology not everyone yet possesses the knowledge, media, or the reliable electricity and internet connections to conduct transactions in cryptocurrencies. Remote theft of them is easier and more profitable than that of gold and silver coin. Cryptocurrencies are too dependent on undefinable risk factors for transactional ubiquity. The number of rival cryptocurrencies has proliferated. It is estimated that there are now over 6,800 in existence compared with 180 government-issued currencies. They represent both an inflation of numbers and values, which if unsatisfied already makes the seventeenth century tulip mania look like to have been a relatively minor speed bump in comparison. In only a decade they have grown to $750 billion in value based on an unproven concept stimulating unallayed human greed at the expense of considered reason. By way of contrast, gold’s strength as money is its flexibility of supply from other uses combined with its record of ensuring price stability. As we saw in Figure 1’s illustration of the relationship between prices and borrowing costs, assuming the factors of production are available the stability of prices under a gold standard permits an assessment of final product values at the commencement of an investment in production. There is no such certainty with bitcoin or rival cryptocurrencies because a strictly finite quantity would make it impossible to calculate final prices at the end of an investment in production. Without providing the means for economic calculation, any money or currency replacement will fail. Unless they disappear with their currencies, central banks will never sanction distributed ledger currencies beyond their control acting as a general medium of exchange. This is one reason why they are working to introduce their own central bank digital currencies, allowing them to maintain statist control over currencies while extending powers over how they are used. Furthermore, central banks do not own cryptocurrencies, but they do officially own 35,554 tonnes of gold, having never discarded true money completely.[vi] Events have proved that they are even reluctant to allow monetary gold to circulate, not least because it would call into question the credibility of their fiat currencies. But if there is a fall-back position in the demise of fiat, it will be based on central bank gold and never on a private-sector cryptocurrency. We should also consider what happens to cryptocurrencies in the event of a fiat currency collapse. The point behind any money or currency is that it must possess all the objective value in a transaction with all subjectivity to be found in the goods or services being exchanged. It requires the currency to be scarce, but not so much that its value measured in goods is expected to continually rise. If that was the case, then its ability to circulate would become impaired through hoarding. We are left with questioning whether bitcoin can ever possess a purely objective value in transactions. Their potential role as a transacting currency will also evaporate along with fiat because these will be the circumstances where all currencies which cannot be issued as credible gold substitutes will become valueless, because if any currency is to survive the end of the fiat regime it will require action by central banks combined with new laws and regulations which can only come from governments. The nightmare for crypto enthusiasts is that central banks will be forced eventually to mobilise their gold reserves to back credibly what is left of their currencies’ collapsing purchasing power. We are providing an answer to another question over the fate of cryptocurrencies in the event that central banks are forced to mobilise their gold reserves, turning fiat currencies into credible money substitutes. Admittedly, it is unlikely to be a simple decision with the problem beyond the understanding of statist policy advisers and with competing interests seeking to influence the outcome. But, there can be only one action that will allow the state and banking system to retain control over currencies and credit, which is to back them with gold reserves, preferably with a gold coin standard. When that moment is anticipated, cryptocurrencies as potential circulating currencies will become fully redundant. They are then likely to lose most of or all their value as replacement currencies. Furthermore, it is hard to find anyone who currently holds a cryptocurrency who does not hope to cash in by selling them at higher prices for their national currencies. They have been bought for speculation and investment with little or no intention of ultimately spending them. Therefore, we can assume that the demise of fiat currencies, far from inviting replacements by bitcoin and its imitators, will also mean the death of the cryptocurrency phenomenon in a general return towards a money standard, which always has been physical and metallic. The progression towards currency destruction In last week’s article for Goldmoney I suggested four waypoints to mark the route towards the ending of the fiat currency system. The similarity of current events with those of John Law’s inflation and subsequent collapse of the Mississippi bubble and of the French livre so far is striking, but this time it’s on a global scale. The John Law experience offers us a template for what is already happening to financial assets and currencies today — hence the four waypoints. Briefly described, John Law was a proto-Keynesian money crank who operated a policy of inflating the values of his principal assets, the Banque Royale and his Mississippi venture, by issuing shares in partly paid form with calls due later. Ten per cent down translated into fortunes for early subscribers as share prices rose from L140 in June 1717 to over L10,000 in January 1720, fuelled by a bitcoin-style buying frenzy. But when calls became due in January 1720 and a scheme to merge the Banque Royale with the Mississippi venture was proposed, shares began to be sold to pay the calls and take up rights to new issues. Law used his position as controller of the currency to issue fiat livres to buy shares in the market to support prices, measures that finally failed in May. Priced in livres, the shares fell to under 3,500 by November. In sterling, they fell from £330 in January to below £50 in September. After October, there was no exchange rate for livres against sterling implying the livre had lost all its exchange value. By injecting cash into investing institutions in return for government bonds, central banks are following a remarkably similar policy today. Quantitative easing by the US’s central bank, which since March 2020 has injected over $2 trillion into US pension funds and insurance companies to invest in higher risk assets than government and agency bonds, is no less than a repetition of John Law’s policy of inflating asset values to ensure a spreading wealth effect, while ensuring finance is facilitated for the state. Last night (3 November) the Fed was forced to announce a phased reduction of quantitative easing to allay fears of intractable price inflation. The question now arises as to how many months of QE reduction it will take to deflate the financial asset bubble. And what will then be the Fed’s response: will QE be increased again in a repetition of the John Law proto-Keynesian mistakes? There comes a point where the prices of goods reflect the increased quantity of currency in circulation. Increases in the general level of prices inevitably lead to rising levels for interest rates, and the creation of credit in the main banking centres begin to go into reverse. John Law found that share prices could then no longer be supported, and the Mississippi bubble burst in May 1720; a fate which equity markets today will almost certainly face, because price rises for goods and services are now proving intractable. The outcome of Law’s proto-Keynesianism was a collapse in Mississippi shares, and the complete destruction of the livre. The similarity with the situation in financial markets today is truly remarkable. There are now no good options for policy makers. Hampered by similar neo-Keynesian errors and beliefs, central bankers and politicians lack the resolve to stop events leading inexorably towards the destruction of their currencies. The first waypoint in last week’s article for Goldmoney is now being seen: a growing realisation that major economies, particularly the US and UK, face the prospect of a combination of rising prices accompanied by an economic slump, frequently diagnosed as stagflation. Stagflation is a misnomer. Monetary inflation is a con which in smaller doses provides the illusion of stimulus. But there comes a point where the transfer of wealth from the productive economy to the government is too great to bear and the economy begins to collapse. While it is impossible to judge where that point lies, the accumulation of monetary inflation in recent years now weighs heavily on all major economies. The conditions today closely replicate those in France in late-1719 and early 1720. Prices were rising in the rural areas as well as in the cities, impoverishing the peasantry and asset inflation was running into headwinds, about to impoverish the beneficiaries of the bubble’s wealth effect as well. Conclusion If central banks decide to protect their currencies, they must let markets determine interest rates. With prices rising officially at over 5% in the US (more like 15% on independent estimates) the rise in interest rates will not only crash all financial asset values from fixed interest to equities, but force governments to rein in their spending to eliminate deficits. This will involve greater cuts than currently indicated, because of loss of tax revenues. Indeed, mandatory spending will put socialising governments in an impossible position. But even these measures are unlikely to protect currencies, because of extensive foreign ownership of the US dollar. Foreigners hold total some $33 trillion in financial assets and bank deposits, much of which will be liquidated or lost in a bear market. Long experience suggests that funds rescued from overexposure to foreign currencies will be repatriated. Alternatively, attempts to continue the inflationary policies of Keynesian money cranks will undermine currencies more rapidly, but this is almost certainly the line of least policy resistance — until it is too late. It has never been more important for the hapless citizen to recognise what is happening to currencies and to understand the fallacies behind cryptocurrencies. They are not practical replacements for state-issued currencies and are likely to turn out to be just another aspect of the financial bubble. The only protection from an increasingly likely collapse of the fiat money system and all that sails with it is to understand what constitutes money as opposed to currency; and that is only physical gold and silver coins and bars. Tyler Durden Sat, 11/13/2021 - 09:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 13th, 2021

Improve Mental Health Next Year By Breaking 17 Financial Rules

If financial rules affect your mental health, they may need to be broken. However, this doesn’t mean making bad decisions just for the sake of having fun. Instead, this is giving yourself permission to take a break from all the strict must-dos and figure out a healthier alternative. Furthermore, depriving yourself entirely just to save […] If financial rules affect your mental health, they may need to be broken. However, this doesn’t mean making bad decisions just for the sake of having fun. Instead, this is giving yourself permission to take a break from all the strict must-dos and figure out a healthier alternative. Furthermore, depriving yourself entirely just to save money may be detrimental to your health. A little money spent on something you enjoy is an essential component of wellness. So, with that in mind, take advantage of these 17 financial rules to better care of yourself. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more   Find A Qualified Financial Advisor Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn't have to be hard. SmartAsset's free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you're ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now. Invest and save for retirement only after you are debt-free. It’s a generally good rule. But there are a few exceptions. To start with, personal finance isn’t all or nothing. Your financial plan needs to be balanced and tailored to your situation. For example, in cases where your debt has a low-interest rate, you might benefit from paying it back more slowly so you can save money first, such as in retirement. Also, you’ll have to invest less money overall if you invest early in life because compound interest is so valuable. Additionally, if your company matches 401(k) contributions, saving for retirement almost always makes sense — even if you’re in debt. While it’s tempting to skip 401(k) contributions when money’s tight, you’d be risking your future financial security if you did. Your tax refund can also go towards your debt if you contribute to a retirement plan. Finally, if you wait until you’re totally debt-free, you might never invest. There are a lot of reasons why people can’t get out of debt. Perhaps you’re low on income and have high expenses, or maybe you’ve lost your job or had big medical bills. In this case, it’s best to start saving now and balance debt payments with investments. Budget: Spend no more than half of your income on living expenses, keep discretionary items to 30%, and save the rest. Elizabeth Warren, then a Harvard professor, presented the 50/30/20 rule in her 2005 book, All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan. “Under this rule, you allot 50% of your take-home pay to “must haves,” 30% to “wants,” and 20% to savings,” explains Patricia Mertz Esswein for Kiplinger. Among the must-haves are housing, utilities, medical care, insurance, transportation, child care, and paying minimums on any legal obligations, such as student loans, child support, or anything else that’s a long-term commitment. Where does the 50% come from? “Warren says it’s sustainable, leaving you with plenty of money for the rest of your life, including fun and the future,” says Esswein. “When things go wrong, you may be able to cover the basics with an unemployment or disability check or, if you’re married, live on one paycheck for a while.” You are directly debited from your paycheck for the 20% for savings-not a last-minute decision. Put the funds to use building an emergency fund, paying off debt, and saving for retirement. As a result, you can avoid the cycle of binge shopping and crash-diet budgeting by leaving 30% of your budget for your wants (including charitable giving). This is the first category you cut if something goes wrong. The problem with this rule. According to credit expert Gerri Detweiler, 50/30/20 is a good guideline, but you need to be flexible as well. “If you live in a high-cost area, spending more than 50% of your paycheck on living expenses may be unavoidable, given the cost of housing, child care and health care,” adds Esswein. “Similarly, if staying within the threshold means buying a home that comes with a three-hour-a-day commute, you may choose to stretch beyond the limit to live closer to work and have more free time.” Detweiler recommends paying off the high-cost, unsecured debt within three years to avoid digging yourself deeper into debt. To meet the savings goal, she recommends putting a portion of the 20% designated for savings toward debt repayment and reducing living expenses and discretionary spending. “It’s also important to reevaluate your budget periodically as your life changes,” suggests Esswein. “For example, downsizing or moving to a lower-cost area could allow you to cut your living expenses below 50% and save more for retirement.” Cancel your Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify accounts to save money. What is the average monthly cost of all your subscriptions? That’s rhetorical. What’s more important than a dollar amount is how much joy you get from your subscriptions. Most likely, a lot. Think about the escape that Tiger King” provided us during the pandemic. What’s more watching nostalgia has psychological benefits. “When people are stressed, or anxious, or feeling out of control, nostalgia helps calm them down. It’s comforting. It’s analogous to a hug from your mom or dad or being cuddled,” Krystine Batcho, a licensed psychologist and a professor at Le Moyne College in Syracuse told TODAY. Rather than saying “no” when Netflix asks if you’re still watching, find other places to save money. For example, you could cancel that expensive gym membership you never use or buy used clothing instead of new. Another idea would be to compare car insurance rates using tools like EverQuote. Set aside 10% of your income for savings. Most financial advisors tell you to save 10% of your income for retirement. However, it might not be a wise choice. If people set aside 10% of their earnings, they will end up with too little investment for retirement. They are especially at risk if they don’t make much money or invest conservatively. Setting investment goals and determining how much you should invest each month is a better approach than following this blanket rule. Adhere to the 4% rule. Retirement planning experts often recommend a withdrawal rate of 4% as a guideline for retirees, clarifies Catherine Collins Alford in a previous Due article. The idea is that 4% of an individual’s savings should be withdrawn in the first year of retirement. After that, they can adjust this amount to account for inflation every year. Based on the assumption that the retiree will receive ongoing distributions from investments, the rule assumes the retiree has a diversified portfolio. Despite the fact that the 4% Rule may not work in all situations, retirees who wish to protect their savings can find it a useful tool. “Many people mistakenly think the 4% rule refers to withdrawing 4% of their retirement savings each year,” she explains. The reality is, however, quite different. “The rule refers to withdrawing a certain percentage of your total savings in the first year of retirement.” In subsequent years, this percentage would be adjusted for inflation. “Another common mistake is assuming that the rule applies to all retirees,” adds Catherine. “However, the rule is actually based on historical data and market returns.” As a result, not everyone may benefit from it. Pay off your mortgage before you save for retirement. Mortgages are usually the biggest debt you’ll ever have. Wouldn’t it be great if you could pay off that debt early? In some cases, paying off your mortgage slowly isn’t the best option, especially if you intend to move out soon. If you’re planning to stay in your home for five years or more after the debt’s retired, then that’s awesome. Otherwise, keep that money for yourself and invest it in your 401(k) or other growth assets. According to The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, enacted in 2017, homeowners who purchased their homes after Dec. 15, 2017, can deduct mortgage interest paid on up to $750,000 in mortgage debt from their taxes. It’s even more important to invest that money somewhere else for those living in expensive housing markets. Rather than adding an extra mortgage payment, you should pay off other high-interest debt first, such as credit card debt. Identify your financial goals and prioritize them. For example, decide whether paying off the mortgage or investing for your retirement is more important for you, or if you would like to save for your children’s future. You can use that money in other ways if you can take advantage of the tax benefits or plan to move within five years. Save money by making all your food from scratch. You may think you’re saving money when you bake your parent’s birthday cake and make your own baby food. And, to be fair, this may be the case on occasion. You could be spending time with your partner or reading a good book instead of spending hours making pasta, potstickers, or croissants from scratch. Do you really think it’s worth saving a couple of bucks? Taking half an hour back every day is worth it to you, so pick up some pre-chopped onions and carrot puree in jars. I think you deserve it Also, you deserve a return on your investment. The free Fetch Rewards app, for instance, rewards you for shopping at the grocery store. Be sure to max out your 401(k). If you can, definitely max out your 401(k). However, following this rule might lead to less retirement money in the long run for some. Your 401(k) contribution should always be at least as high as your employer’s match to maximize your earnings. After all, it’s free money when your employer matches your contribution. You may want to consider putting money into another account, such as an IRA, once you’ve done that. In addition to 401(k)s, other retirement accounts may offer a broader range of investment options, such as IRAs. Instead of simply maxing out these workplace retirement plans, look into them when deciding where to invest your money. Only use credit cards for emergencies. You probably heard your parents warn you about credit card debt when you were a young adult. In fact, I was told that plastic was typically reserved for emergencies only. However, credit cards have become an effective and diverse tool in today’s world. With them, you can keep track of all your spending in one place, protect your personal information, and even earn cash-back rewards. As a result, it makes more financial sense to use a credit card instead of cash to make purchases. However, you shouldn’t swipe recklessly. In order to avoid paying interest charges on your credit card balance, set up a monthly payment from your checking account. Save money by buying in bulk. Some people might be surprised to find out that buying in bulk can be expensive. And more importantly, extremely wasteful when it comes to perishable items. In some cases, buying a jumbo size makes sense, but not always. Make sure you only buy things you will use or eat. As a result of scrimping and scrounging, making every meal becomes a chore that frustrates you over time. Additionally, buying large quantities of the stuff in advance can be very expensive. Overall, if your budget is tight, skip bulk purchases. Avoid wasting your money on non-essentials. It’s often said that spending money on nonessentials is a waste. So, it’s no surprise that most financial experts advise against it. Despite this, few people can stick to a spending plan that robs them of all their fun. As long as you spend responsibly, there’s no reason to deprive yourself. Decide which splurges are most important to you and enlist that as part of your budget rather than avoiding them. You should have six months’ worth of expenses in your emergency fund. While this is a sound rule of thumb, you might not find it suitable for your situation. In the event of an emergency, calculate what you would have to pay. Depending on various factors, such as the quality of your insurance and level of regular cash expenditures, you may determine whether you need more or less. Calculate your perfect investment allocation by subtracting your age from 100. To calculate how much of your portfolio should be stocks, subtract your age from 100. The rule says you should keep 75% of your portfolio in stocks and the rest in bonds and other relatively safer investments when you’re 25. If you’re 75, you should invest 25% of your money in stocks. As you age, you should gradually reduce your investment risk since you don’t have as much time to wait for the market to bounce back. Allocating investments based on 100-minus age is a good way to get started, but it’s not perfect. In part, this is due to Americans living longer and retiring later. Despite the drop in life expectancy following the pandemic, a baby born in the US in 2021 can expect to live to about 76 years old. As a result, retirement savings strategies should be adjusted in response to the need for a higher nest egg, the potential for the money to grow more, and the possibility of recovering from a market decline. Rather than focusing only on market performance, rebalance your investment portfolio annually. You should also consider your target retirement age, your plans for using the funds at retirement, and your risk tolerance. As a starting point for calculating your stock exposure, use 110 (or even 120) instead of 100 if you feel more comfortable with risk. It’s a waste of money to rent. Renting is often considered wasteful since you pay for a home without building equity. However, renting can be a better option in certain circumstances. If renting is cheaper than buying and you rent and invest the difference, this could be the case. You may want to rent if you’re not in a position to purchase a home or won’t be staying there for a long time. You are not throwing money away if you have to rent. Instead, you are using your money wisely to get housing in whatever way works for you. Get rid of all your unwanted housewares, clothes, and toys. It’s likely that you’ve acquired a lot of stuff during your lifetime. You’ve probably got piles of stuff you don’t need whenever you do a deep cleaning. Purging gives you a sense of relief, but selling it all to make money quickly ruins it. How do you begin? A garage sale, Poshmark, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, or Craigslist? If something isn’t truly valuable, you shouldn’t sell it. Right now, you might not need the stress of listing everything, arranging meetups, or figuring out shipping costs. So, if you want to adopt a more minimalist lifestyle, donate it. Donate it all to your local donation center, post it on your Facebook Buy Nothing group, or even hold a free yard sale. As an added perk, you’ll also get a tax credit. Another idea? Rent these items out to make some extra cash. For example, you can rent out your clothes on Style Lend or everything from your favorite camera to your favorite sports equipment on Fat Llama. Pay off your debt ASAP. There is a good chance you have heard you should repay your debt as soon as possible. However, depending on the type of debt you have, you might want to break this rule. Although you should pay down high-interest debt aggressively, you may not want to pay extra on certain low-interest loans like your mortgage. If you invest your money in other ways rather than paying off cheap debt early, you can usually get a better return. Get a side hustle. Many people don’t have the capacity or flexibility to hustle on the side. If you are already overburdened with work, adding a second job may exhaust you, outweighing the benefits. Aside from that, if you work all the time, how can you enjoy the money that you earn? The gig may also come with additional costs. Are you responsible for childcare or transportation? If you earn extra money, these things may significantly reduce it. FAQs What is a budget? Do I need one? Basically, a budget tells you how much you make versus how much you spend. It’s good to budget, but remember that budgets come in all shapes and sizes. Budgeting can be as strict or as lax as you want. For instance, automating a certain amount of your earnings into your savings account is technically a budget. You can also follow the rule of 50/20/30. In addition, you can have multiple savings and checking accounts based on your spending habits and goals. In general, budgeting tends to help people feel more in control of their finances. It’s also a good idea to revisit your budget every once or twice a year, especially if your income or expenses have changed significantly. Should I have an emergency fund? The purpose of an emergency fund is to help you in the event of an unexpected event. An emergency fund will help you through tough times, such as when you lose a job or receive a large bill. What is the recommended amount to save in an emergency fund? An emergency fund should cover your expenses for three to six months, according to some financial professionals, while others suggest covering expenses for a year. At the end of the day, it is up to you after you have taken care of the necessary expenses and what you are able to set aside. It is better to have some amount available when something unexpected occurs than to have none at all. Should I pay down my debts or save for retirement? In order to answer this question, you must consider your financial situation. It is possible to gain insight from your budget. However, it’s a good idea to start building retirement savings through your employer’s 401(k) if you can. Then, examine your budget to find areas where you can make some savings so you can also pay down your debt. For retirement savings and debt repayment, you may want to work with a financial professional. How much should I save each month for retirement? Financial professionals can help you create a plan that fits your budget here as well. Your savings strategy should take into account your current budget, retirement date, and retirement goals. You’ll want to think about retirement expenses, plus health insurance and long-term care costs as well. What is good debt? Depending on your situation, the answer varies. When it comes to assessing what debts are worth it, there are some general, personal questions you can ask yourself, but only you know what’s worth it. For example, student loan debt should propel you into a career that pays more money. However, racking up $20,000 in personal credit card debt for jet skis won’t. Article by Deanna Ritchie, Due About the Author Deanna Ritchie is a financial editor at Due. She has a degree in English Literature. She has written 1000+ articles on getting out of debt and mastering your finances. She has edited over 40,000 articles in her life. She has a passion for helping writers inspire others through their words. Deanna has also been an editor at Entrepreneur Magazine and ReadWrite......»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkDec 4th, 2022

Governor Hochul Announces Completion of $82M Affordable and Supportive Housing Development in Brownsville

Governor Kathy Hochul today announcedthe completion of 160 affordable and supportive homes and over 25,000 square feet of health-focused community space in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Known as Vital Brookdale, the $82 million development is the first of ten affordable housing developments to be completed under the Vital Brooklyn Initiative to address... The post Governor Hochul Announces Completion of $82M Affordable and Supportive Housing Development in Brownsville appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. Governor Kathy Hochul today announcedthe completion of 160 affordable and supportive homes and over 25,000 square feet of health-focused community space in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Known as Vital Brookdale, the $82 million development is the first of ten affordable housing developments to be completed under the Vital Brooklyn Initiative to address historic inequities and disinvestment in Central Brooklyn.  “Central Brooklyn’s critical health and housing needs have gone unmet for far too long, but in response we are approaching them with bold and innovative solutions,” Governor Hochul said. “Thanks to the Vital Brooklyn Initiative, we are working closely with local partners to create more housing, improve access to health care, and provide the types of supportive services that residents need to thrive. Vital Brookdale is the latest example of my administration’s commitment to boosting the supply of quality of affordable homes for all New Yorkers.” Vital Brookdale complements Governor Hochul’s goal of achieving two million climate friendly homes by 2030 and her sweeping plans to make housing more affordable, equitable, and stable. In the FY 2023 State Budget, the Governor introduced and successfully secured a $25 billion, five-year, comprehensive housing plan will increase housing supply by creating or preserving 100,000 affordable homes across New York including 10,000 with support services for vulnerable populations, plus the electrification of an additional 50,000 homes. The development is part of the state’s $1.4 billion Vital Brooklyn Initiative that is addressing chronic social, economic, and health disparities in Brooklyn’s high-need communities by creating 4,000 units of affordable housing. Located at 535 E. 98th St 11212, Chandler-Waterman’s district, Vital Brookdale is a 160-apartment, seven-story building with 36 units set aside as supportive housing. There are 10 apartments for youth aging out of foster care and 26 apartments for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. On-site supportive services are provided by The New York Foundling. For the youth aging out of foster care, assistance is in concert with the NYS Office of Children and Family Services through participation in the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative.  Supportive services for the individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities are supported by the NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities. There are 32 studios, 63 one-bedroom, 59 two-bedroom, and six three-bedroom units. Most of the apartments will be reserved for households earning at or below 60 percent of the Area Median Income with 26 reserved for households earning up to 80 percent of the AMI. The 25,000 square feet of health-focused community space will offer a medical clinic run by Brookdale Hospital, a community job training program, a community fresh food program and office space for The New York Foundling. Residents have access to a second-floor terrace, and landscaped front and rear courtyards with a dog run, playground, and passive recreation and seating areas. There is free building-wide wireless internet access, in keeping with the Governor’s goal of eliminating the digital divide; a multi-purpose community room; game room; library/resident co-working space; fitness room; laundry room; cold-storage locker and package rooms; and a bike storage room. The development is pursuing Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) + 2015 certification, an international standard of building for maximized energy efficiency. Vital Brookdale has a 100kW roof-mounted solar photovoltaic system, high performance mechanical systems, insulation and windows, LED lighting, low-flow water fixtures, along with other energy efficient measures to enhance comfort, affordability, and sustainability. The development team includes MDG Design + Construction, Smith & Henzy Affordable Group and The New York Foundling. State financing for Vital Brookdale includes $13.9 million in permanent tax-exempt bonds, federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits that will generate $32.8 million in equity and an additional $30.4 million in subsidy from New York State Homes and Community Renewal. NYSERDA’s Multifamily New Construction Program will provide $300,000 in support along with more than $161,000 in NY Sun incentives. The New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities will provide funding for supportive services and rental subsidies for 26 supportive units and the New York State Office of Mental Health will provide funding for supportive services and rental subsidies for 10 supportive units. Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Vital Brookdale exemplifies how the state’s Vital Brooklyn Initiative is improving access to healthcare, quality housing, job training, and community services. This $82 million investment created 160 new affordable homes in a building that has been designed to meet the highest standards for sustainability while providing valuable community space and a home for healthcare facilities that serve the neighborhood. Through this type of supportive and health-focused development, we are increasing the supply of much-needed housing and addressing decades of entrenched inequities in Central Brooklyn’s neighborhoods.” New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Kerri E. Neifeld said, “We are excited to be part of the Vital Brookdale project, along with our fellow state agencies, and our provider partners.  The 26 units set aside for people with developmental disabilities increases people’s opportunity to secure safe and affordable housing in their communities. We applaud Governor Hochul for leading the expansion of integrated and affordable housing opportunities for New Yorkers with developmental disabilities.” Office for Children and Family Services Commissioner Sheila J. Poole said, “I commend and congratulate Governor Hochul on Vital Brookdale and the safe, affordable housing options and critical supports it will provide for young people who need it most. This investment allows OCFS’ longstanding commitment to ensuring stability for youth in foster care to extend into early adulthood. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of housing, as well as funding for on-site services for young people aging out of foster care. Having a home provides a sense of security and empowerment that is essential for transitioning to a new, exciting phase in their lives. It is equally important to have access to vital programs as they look toward a brighter future.” New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “NYSERDA congratulates the Vital Brookdale team as they cut the ribbon on this affordable housing complex that demonstrates a commitment to providing exceptional Passive House building performance to ensure the comfort and safety of Central Brooklyn’s residents. From clean renewable solar energy collected on the rooftop to numerous energy efficient interior and exterior features, this project is a model for sustainable development and supports Governor Hochul’s goal to develop 2 million climate friendly homes by 2030.” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, “Affordable housing is becoming increasingly hard to find in New York City, harming neighborhoods like Brownsville that have been historically impacted by disinvestment and marginalization,” said US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “This is an important first step in addressing the major housing issue in our state and I want to thank Governor Hochul and the Vital Brooklyn Initiative for investing resources into creating affordable homes in neighborhoods like Brownsville.” Representative Yvette D. Clarke said, “Ensuring every New Yorker and their families have safe, warm spaces to call their own is more than our duty as public servants, but our humanitarian and moral obligation – one that has for far too long been neglected to the detriment of countless lives. Thankfully, recent years are changing that critical tide. The Vital Brookdale development represents the first piece in a series of efforts that will not only bring homes to our most vulnerable Brooklynites, but revitalize the communities they belong to. The only way to overcome the many long-standing inequities afflicting our state is to put in the necessary groundwork, and I am ecstatic to see Governor Hochul and her administration’s commitment towards doing just that.” State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud said, “I thank NYS Homes & Community Renewal, Brookdale Hospital, New York Foundling and the project developers for bringing Vital Brookdale to fruition. Vital Brookdale will provide 160 units of critically needed housing in the Brownsville neighborhood, with the majority being available to households earning up to 60% of Area Median Income (AMI).  It is heartening that nearly one quarter of the apartments will have on-site supportive services for youth aging out of foster care or individuals with developmental disabilities.” Assemblywoman Monique Chandler-Waterman said, “Projects like Vital Brookdale are a critical piece in righting the wrong of a wealthy city that is underhoused, where 65,591 people sleep in city shelters, and the lack of support services that ensure our most vulnerable community members remain housed is insufficient. Not only is this a much-needed project, but it also fulfills a need for environmentally friendly, sustainable projects. New York State’s Vital Brooklyn Initiative, which includes Vital Brookdale, is proof of what can be done when there is a will. I want to thank Governor Hochul, Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, Office for Children and Family Services, MDG Design and Construction, Smith & Henzy Advisory Group, and The New York Foundling for their work placing affordable, accessible housing in a community where there is a dire need. I look forward to more projects like this one.” Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso said, “The only way to build our way out of the housing crisis is the right way: with a commitment to affordability, to supportive services, and to developments that recognize the distinct needs of the people who call these apartments home. With wireless internet for all, green spaces, and amenities like a fitness room, laundry facility, and bike storage, Vital Brookdale is helping us raise the standard for affordable living in Brownsville and across Brooklyn. Thank you to our city and state partners for their hard work making Vital Brookdale a reality.” MDG Design + Construction, Principal Matthew Rooney Jr. said, “Vital Brookdale is the type of development that future developments will be modeled after. It has community-based healthcare, beautiful outdoor areas, green, sustainable features, and apartments that are completely modernized yet truly affordable. The residents of Vital Brookdale will lead safe and productive lives, and those who need services will have access to them thanks to the community development programs located on-site. Thank you to our partners for bringing this project to life and dedicating themselves to making Brownsville a stronger more resilient community.” Smith & Henzy Affordable Group Principal and Owner Timothy Henzy said, “The success of Vital Brookdale is the result of the combined efforts of the Brooklyn Community and the State of New York.  We are thrilled that we were provided the opportunity to partner with the community and State to make their vision for sustainable affordable housing a reality.” The New York Foundling President and CEO Melanie Hartzog said, “We are grateful to the administration for their partnership in helping create Vital Brookdale, offering opportunity and promise for the people and communities that The New York Foundling serves. At The Foundling, we continue to look for impactful ways to uplift youth aging out of foster care and people with developmental disabilities. We see Vital Brookdale as one example of many more to come that demonstrates the mutual good that stems from providing opportunities for our neighbors to reach their full potential. It’s been a true joy to watch our residents’ confidence grow as a result of having the resources necessary to succeed on their paths to independence.” One Brooklyn Health CEO LaRay Brown said, “One Brooklyn Health is very pleased to be part of this exciting project and the Vital Brooklyn Initiative. Safe affordable housing and accessible health care are inextricably linked and intrinsic to the economic stability of a community. We look forward to continuing to work with each of the partners in serving the families who will make this remarkable building home.” Revitalizing Central Brooklyn Central Brooklyn has long suffered from disinvestment and marginalization that hinder the wellbeing of its residents. Residents experience measurably higher rates of health problems; limited access to healthy foods or opportunities for physical activity; and high rates of violence and crime. Central Brooklyn is also affected by wide economic disparities due to unemployment, high poverty levels, and inadequate access to high quality health care. Ten development projects currently underway or completed and chosen through a competitive process, are the keys to advancing the Vital Brooklyn initiative’s commitment to creating 4,000 affordable homes in Central Brooklyn, incorporating social, medical, and community services; recreational and educational opportunities; family housing; and apartments with supportive services. About the Vital Brooklyn Initiative The Vital Brooklyn Initiative was launched in spring 2017 to address the range of disparities that affect residents of Brooklyn and to create a new model for community development and wellness in Brooklyn’s most vulnerable communities. Each Assembly Member in Central Brooklyn convened a Community Advisory Council consisting of community leaders, local experts, advocates, and other stakeholders to consider the unique needs and opportunities in their districts, and to develop long-term solutions. State Senators representing parts of Central Brooklyn were also actively engaged in the process. A total of 25 community meetings brought together nearly 100 key community stakeholders.  RFPs for the ten sites were released in 2018 and 2019, with development partners selected through 2020. Five projects have begun construction, with the remaining projects and phases beginning over the next few years. The post Governor Hochul Announces Completion of $82M Affordable and Supportive Housing Development in Brownsville appeared first on Real Estate Weekly......»»

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklyDec 3rd, 2022

Why China Sucks: It"s A Beta-Test For The New World Order

Why China Sucks: It's A Beta-Test For The New World Order Authored by Brandon Smith via, For over a decade there has been an open globalist obsession with the Chinese governmental model – A love affair, if you will. Many top proponents of global centralization including Henry Kissinger and George Soros have praised China in the past and hinted that the communist country is burgeoning into a major player within the New World Order. Soros expressed this exact sentiment way back in 2009, around the time that China began courting the IMF and issuing trillions in Yuan based treasury debt in order to join their global currency initiative. Several years later, China was inducted into the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights basket. The CCP now avidly supports the creation of a new global currency system with the IMF in control. This is a reality I have been writing about for many years: China does NOT stand in opposition to global centralization under the control of western oligarchs. All they want is a prominent seat at the table when the “Great Reset” kicks off and total centralization begins. But the above information only suggests an economic relationship between China and the globalists. Does the alliance go even further than that? Recently, Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum gave an interview to the Chinese government controlled CGTN at the APEC Summit. In that interview, Schwab praises China as a role model for many other nations. This might shock some people considering China’s economy is faltering, with their global exports plunging in 2022 and their housing market in shambles. This decline is in large part due to global stagflation, but also due to their insane “zero covid” policy which has kept the nation under pandemic lockdown for years. Remember all those covid cultists who were cheering for China last year? Remember when they claimed that China was a perfect example on why lockdowns are necessary and proof that they work? Yeah, those people were morons. China’s economy is now in freefall with their manufacturing base under extreme stress from the mandates. Furthermore, it would appear that the Chinese populace is finally fed up with the draconian conditions and are rising up in revolt. In the video below, protests erupt at Foxconn’s flagship iPhone plant in China after workers marched out of the factory. They had been held there in quarantine against their will with poor working conditions and little food. The Chinese government sent hazmat clad troops to put down the rebellion while stomping protesters into the ground. Take note and remember this video when you hear about Apple’s hostility to Elon Musk’s free speech policies on Twitter – Apple loves authoritarianism, as do all globalist run corporations. China continues to terrorize the citizenry with secret police visits to vocal dissenters and fleets of drones hovering above city streets monitoring foot traffic and blaring propaganda messages. Some drones even spray unknown chemicals across entire city blocks. In the meantime, China has fully implemented digital vaccine passports systems tied to public venues and retail stores. You cannot function in a major Chinese city without an up-to-date vaccine passport or a negative covid test taken every couple of weeks. All of these events and conditions are often treated as disconnected or coincidentally associated. No one is asking the right questions. The big question being WHY? Why is the Chinese government sabotaging its own economy with lockdowns and oppressing the population to the point of open revolt (a rarity among the normally subservient Chinese people). Why keep the lockdowns going when it is clear to the rest of the world that the pandemic is over and that the lockdowns and masks never worked to begin with? I would ask CCP officials a simple question that many of us in America also asked our own government a over a year ago: If the vaccines work, why enforce mandates and lockdowns? If it’s because the vaccines don’t work, then why try to force the population to take the jab? Beyond that, if the masks and lockdowns work, then why is China facing yet another supposed covid infection wave? Obviously the CCP does not care about the well being of the average Chinese citizen. There is no logic to anything they are doing, just as there was no logic to anything Biden, Fauci and the CDC were doing in the US. The difference is, Americans were able to force the globalists in the US to abandon their mandate agenda, likely because we are heavily armed and they realized too many of us were non-compliant. In China, there is no civilian militia equivalent. The country was a dystopia before, now it is something different – It is an experiment in technocratic tyranny that is being taken to the extreme. China is willing to starve, arrest, beat and even kill people who they claim they are trying to protect from the virus. It is no mistake that nearly every policy China is implementing is a direct copy of policies suggested by the WEF and institutions like the Imperial College of London back in 2020 at the start of the outbreak. The globalists argued that “we are not going back to normal” and that the public would have to sacrifice many of our freedoms in order to stop the pandemic. In reality, none of their policies were effective in stopping the spread, but they were very effective at suppressing the populace. And in the case of China, nothing did ever go back to normal. The unspoken rationale, in my view, connects directly back to China’s long term relationship to the globalists and their desire to be a part of the New World Order, also referred to as the “multipolar world order”, the 4th Industrial Revolution, the Great Reset and a dozen other names. If you want to know the real globalist vision for the future, take a look at China today and then multiply the pain and suffering another hundred fold. China is a beta test. Perhaps it’s a test to see what level of tyranny people are willing to endure. Maybe a test of the functionality of different surveillance systems and control mechanisms. Maybe a practice run for the inevitable riots and rebellion that would occur in numerous countries and the best way to deal with them. Globalists like Klaus Schwab are not only interest in China as an economic role model, he sees China as a societal role model for much of the west, with some tweaks here and there. The problem for the establishment is that if there are visible examples of freedom despite covid, then other nations will start to question the necessity of their own lockdowns. Even the Chinese people are starting to fight back. They can’t implement their NWO one country at a time, they will have to oppress many countries at once. As I have been saying for the past year to some of the more nihilistic people in the liberty movement who think all it lost, understand that you are lucky to be living in the US right now and you should be thankful for the millions of conservatives that actively and vocally refused to comply with the mandates and vaccines. They saved the country from greater tyranny. If the globalists had got what they really wanted, we would look a lot like China right now. We hovered close to that black sun and danced with the devil, but we are not beaten. As it stands, China continues to represent a model of authoritarian dreams; a research study in mass psychological torture. Far from being a counter-point to the globalists, it is actually a globalist work in progress. Watch what happens there closely, because the evils perpetrated there will eventually be attempted here at home. *  *  * If you would like to support the work that Alt-Market does while also receiving content on advanced tactics for defeating the globalist agenda, subscribe to our exclusive newsletter The Wild Bunch Dispatch.  Learn more about it HERE. Tyler Durden Fri, 12/02/2022 - 23:55.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 3rd, 2022

68 gifts under $50 perfect for any occasion or holiday

We found great gift ideas under $50 that prove you don't have to spend a fortune to get just the right gift for any occasion. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.We found great gift ideas $50 and under that prove you don't have to spend a fortune to get just the right gift for any occasion.Baublebar; Crystal Cox/Insider'Tis the season! The gift-giving season, that is. With holiday parties and family gatherings galore, there's plenty of merriment on the horizon this time of year. But there tends to be some stress around gifting too. With coworkers, friends, partners, siblings, and so many other loved ones on your gift list, it can be stressful to think about how you're going to get all those gifts without breaking the bank. Luckily you have us, a team of expert product reviewers with a knack for gift-giving, on your side. We've already done the heavy lifting and have spent the past few months scouring the web for the best gifts you can buy this year. And below, we've rounded up the gifts you can find for $50 or less. From silly custom art to life-changing tech to cookware, there's something for everyone on your list.A flower they can grow themselvesModern SproutPaperwhite Winter Bulb Kit, available at Modern Sprout, $20Best for: The green thumbFlowers are always a great gift, but this DIY grow kit takes that up a notch. The kit has everything they need to plant three Paperwhite bulbs. In just a few weeks, they'll get to enjoy the beautiful blooms they planted. A trio of spicy sauces and seasoningsFly By JingHoliday Triple Threat, available at Fly By Jing, $45Best for: The adventurous eater Help them spice up their home cooking with fresh takes on traditional Sichuan flavors. This spicy features the brand's iconic Sichuan Chili Crisp, the umami-rich, tangy Zhong Sauce which is perfect for dumpling-dipping, and the numbingly spicy Mala Spice Mix which can be added to rubs, marinades, batters, and more.A pair of classic gold hoopsBaubleBarVerbena Earrings, available at BaubleBar, from $36.80Best for: The minimalist dresser A great pair of gold hoops has the power to make any lackluster outfit feel special and more put-together. If they don't already have a go-to pair, why not give them one? These huggies come in multiple different sizes that look great no matter the occasion.A funky mugBlumeCloud Mug, available at Blume, $16.40Best for: The one who loves their beverages Anyone who loves their morning coffee knows that the mug said coffee is in is almost as important as the coffee itself. This ceramic one has an oversized handle with a retro, bubble design to make their morning sipping ritual all the sweeter.A Bluetooth karaoke microphoneAmazonBonaok Bluetooth Karaoke Microphone, available at Amazon, $27.99Best for: The songbirdThis Bluetooth karaoke microphone is the perfect accessory to gift the one who's the life of the party. They can sing along to their favorite songs with this gift that offers premium sound and noise reduction. The fanny pack they'll forget they're wearingPatagoniaPatagonia Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack, available at REI, Dick's Sporting Goods, Patagonia, $35Best for: The one who's always on the goMade from 100% recycled ripstop nylon and treated with a silicone face coating for weather resistance, this mini pack is durable and practical. Our pick for the best small fanny pack, the Patagonia Ultralight Blackhole is so light that they'll forget it's on. From the trails to the streets, they'll be secured and ready to go, always.A set of spa-worthy shower bombsAmazonEuka Wellness Shower Bombs 6-Pack, available at Amazon, $9.99Best for: The person who doesn't have a bathtub but wants the same funNo bathtub? No problem. With these shower bombs, anyone can transform their bathroom into a makeshift spa, and they don't even need a bathtub to do it. These come in a variety of options including Calm, Detox, Breathe, and Happy (and come 6 in a pack). A box of fiber-rich mac and cheeseGoodlesMac Pac, available at Goodles, $50Best for: The comfort food connoisseur For Kraft mac and cheese lovers, this brand features the same nostalgic taste but with more fiber and protein in the noodles. This sampler comes with four flavors of mac, a rainbow spork, and a plush toy of a bowl of mac and cheese.A personalized video message from their favorite celebrityCameoCameo video, available on Cameo, from $1Best for: The pop culture fanaticWhether they have a favorite musician, reality TV star, comedian, or actor, there's a good chance their favorite celebrity is on Cameo. You can even choose from pre-recorded video messages with a personal shoutout, or opt to give them a super special one-on-one video call. Of course, the price will greatly vary depending on who the star is.A pair of stylish wearable weightsBandierBala Bangles, available at Amazon, Target, and Bala, from $42Best for: The committed athleteIncorporate fitness into your daily life with these wearable weights that fit on your wrist or ankles. At one to two pounds, these stylish weights intensify any movement and build strength whether it's a workout or running errands.A rocks glass etched with a city mapUncommon GoodsUrban Map Glass, available at Uncommon Goods, $18Best for: The one who really loves their city (and whiskey)Whether you want to bring back fond memories of a place you visited together or just want a gift that highlights their favorite stomping grounds, you can cheers to these rocks glasses intricately etched with a city map and interspersed street names. Over 30 major US cities are available to choose from.To really up the ante, consider pairing the glass with a nice bottle of bourbon. A monogrammed clutchMark & GrahamPalm Leaf Rounded Clutch, available at Mark and Graham, from $37.99Best for: The beach vacationerYou can get your giftee's initials embroidered on this cute roll-up clutch for a personal touch. The bag is woven from natural palm leaves for a beachy vibe, and the blue and white striped interior adds to the fun coastal feel.An easy way to make their own bubble teaUncommon GoodsBubble Tea Kit, available at Uncommon Goods, $40Best for: The boba loverFor the bubble tea drinker in your life, this kit comes with two flavors of loose-leaf tea, tapioca pearls, and two reusable stainless steel straws. All they'll have to do is add a little milk (if they like!) and sip on this delicious brew.A foam roller for recoveryTPTherapyTriggerPoint Grid Foam Roller, available at Amazon and TPTherapy, from $36.95Best for: The perpetually sore athlete Proper recovery is paramount for optimal performance. That's why this foam roller is such a great gift; it'll help them improve mobility, increase circulation, relieve muscle pain and tightness, and get them in fighting shape all around.A cozy knit beanieAsosStormlock Rip Knit Cap, available at Amazon, $28.22Best for: The one who lives up northCold-weather accessories make a great gift for anyone braving the cold this winter and the Jack Wolfskin's Stormlock Rip Knit Cap is exactly what they need. Built of a blend of wool and acrylic, this beanie also features Stormlock fleece which just about guarantees a warm noggin. It's even available in two different colors to match a variety of outfits.  A meal kit from their favorite restaurantGoldbelly/FacebookRestaurant Meal Kits, available at Goldbelly, from $39.95Best for: The foodieBring a bit of their favorite restaurant right to their door. From bagels to barbeque, Goldbelly ships food gifts nationwide from iconic eateries in major cities. A personalized pillow of their favorite fur babyaurespaces/EtsyAurespaces Custom Pet Pillow, available at Etsy, from $42.99Best for: The proud pet parentIf there's nothing they love more than their cat or dog, this pillow — featuring a blown-up picture of their pet — is sure to make them smile. A small but mighty smart assistantGoogleGoogle Nest Mini (2nd Generation), available at Best Buy, Target, and Walmart, from $49Best for: The multitaskerGive the gift of a virtual helper. Currently on sale for under $30, the Google Nest Mini offers a compact, affordable smart speaker with Google Assistant built-in. Friends and family members will love being able to dim lights, control the volume on their TV, check the weather, and more, all with just the sound of their voice.Read our full review of the Google Nest Mini here.Notepads chock full of affirmationsAmazonKnock Knock Notepads, available at Amazon and Knock Knock, from $5.25Best for: Anyone in need of a motivational talkWhether you want to give them a quick pep talk or celebrate them just because, these notepads from Knock Knock provide a creative and encouraging way of doing so. Each set comes with 50 sheets, so they'll make plenty of use of these witty notes.A spice and herb kit packed with international flavorsUncommon GoodsGourmet Oil Dipping Spice Kit, available at Uncommon Goods, $42Best for: The seasoning aficionado Whether it's a dash of Italian oregano or za'atar from the Middle East, any cook will appreciate this international spice kit that lets them cook with various tastes of the world. A tracker for lost itemsAppleApple AirTag, available at Amazon, Target, and Apple, from $26.49Best for: Anyone always losing their keysWhether you lose track of your keys or a bag, Apple's AirTag is a sure way to find any lost item. This water-resistant tracker plays a sound or uses its precise distance findings to lead you straight to the item regardless of the distance on the Find My app.A hatch decanter to sophisticatedly store alcoholCrate & BarrelHatch Decanter, available at Crate & Barrel, $44.95Best for: The scotch drinkerIf their barware collection bares a sophisticated flair, they'll appreciate this elegant hatch decanter. This 32oz decanter is a more affordable price than others thanks to its beautiful molded diamond pattern that resembles cut crystal.A DIY recipe bookAmazonMy Recipes Cookbook, available at Amazon, $8.99Best for: The chefWhether they're a huge foodie or want to preserve a favorite family meal, this DIY cookbook offers 120 blank pages to fill with their favorite recipes. The notebook's table of contents and additional note space at the end will help keep them extra organized. Taking the time to add in your own savory vodka sauce pasta dish or having their loved ones fill in grandma's homemade recipes will make this gift feel extra special.Snacks for movie nightKnackPopcorn Snack Medley, available at Knack, $46Best for: The movie buffHelp them take their next Netflix marathon to the next level with this popcorn mix set. The mix includes two microwavable Pop on The Cob popcorn cobs, toffee pretzels, dark chocolate-covered cherries, and Virginia peanuts. If they have a particular favorite treat, each snack can also be added in extra quantities at an additional cost.Cozy house slippersSally Kaplan/Insider;Sally Kaplan/InsiderEQUICK Cloud Slides, available at Amazon, from $16.99Best for: The loungerClean space enthusiasts who enjoy a no outdoor shoe policy in their homes will appreciate these pillow slipper slides. The platform bottom and cushioned sole make for a cute and cozy fit. Farm-to-skin lip balmsEtsyBeekman 1802 Ten Piece Lip Balm Set, available at Uncommon Goods, $48Best for: The sustainable beauty fanThis farm-to-skin lip balm set is just right for the green beauty obsessive. All 10 lip balms are made from natural goat's milk and essential oils. Beautifully packaged and scented, the fragrances include Ylang Ylang and Tuberose, Orange Blossom, Fig Leaf, Sweet Grass, Grapefruit, Oak Moss, Apricot and Honey, Vanilla, and an unscented balm.A sand-free, quick-dry towelSand CloudSand Cloud Towel, available at Sand Cloud, from $48Best for: The avid beachgoer Not only are these thin towels easy to roll up and throw in your beach bag or picnic basket, but they also easily shake off sand and dry three times faster than classic beach and pool towels. Choose from a wide array of vibrant patterns and colors, from a navy blue whale shark print to tie-dye options.A cute kitchen gadget that makes breakfast in a flashCrystal Cox/InsiderDash Mini Waffle Maker, available at Target, Amazon, and Dash, from $10Best for: The brunch champion This compact waffle maker makes a great addition to any college dorm or small kitchen. All they have to do is plug it in and they can make their favorite breakfast treat in a flash.A 51-piece art kitAmazon51-Piece Watercolor Art Set, available at Amazon, $24.47Best for: The artistEncourage them to pick up a new hobby (or take advantage of an existing one) with this watercolor set that's built for both beginners and experts. The set includes various cakes and paints, watercolor pencils, paintbrushes, a paint palette, an eraser, and a pencil sharpener — all within a pre-packaged case that can save you the pain of gift wrapping. Authentic Japanese ramenICHIRAN USAICHIRAN Take-Home Ramen Kit, available at Amazon and ICHIRAN USA, from $29Best for: The ramen loverICHIRAN Ramen has been delighting ramen aficionados since 1960. Known for its original Tonkatsu (pork bone) soup, its ramen combines the rich umami flavors of the broth with Hakata-style noodles that are slender, chewy, and perfect. Enjoy a little bit of heat? The kit also comes with ICHIRAN's original spicy seasoning, using togarashi pepper spice to amp up the flavors even more.A cult-favorite candleOtherlandCandles, available at Otherland, $36Best for: The fancy candle collectorWe love Otherland's candles, whether seasonally inspired or from the classic collection. Notable scent combinations such as champagne, saffron, and leather, gorgeous packaging, and a 55 hour burn time have deemed Otherland's candles as a foolproof gift among the Insider Reviews team.A streaming stick that turns any TV into a smart oneAmazonRoku Streaming Stick 4K, available at Amazon, Walmart, and Roku, from $24.98Best for: The TV fanaticUpgrade their Netflix marathons without actually buying them a whole new TV. The Roku Streaming Stick 4K offers 4K, HD, and HDR streaming in a portable package and at an affordable price. A set of loose-leaf teas that Oprah lovesAmazonVadham Chai Tea Reserve Set, available at Amazon, $23.99Best for: The tea drinker who wants to spice it upThis classy set of loose-leaf teas made it into Oprah's Favorite Things back in 2018. It's filled with three variations of chai tea that any tea lover will appreciate. An at-home spa kitUncommon GoodsEucalyptus Spa Gift Set, available at Uncommon Goods, $40Best for: The one in need of a breakGive them the gift of soothing relaxation with this at-home kit that includes pampering botanical bath salts and natural jute body scrubber. The recipient will also be able to grow their own eucalyptus in the bamboo pot so they can continue to breathe deep and say ahh.A smooth olive oil that'll instantly elevate any dishBrightlandAlive Olive Oil, available at Brightland, $37Best for: The EVOO drizzlerIf they spend a lot of time in the kitchen, they probably already know the merits of high-quality olive oil. A drizzle of Alive from Brightland adds a vibrant, zesty flavor to any dish, plus the beautiful bottle will look great on display in their kitchen. An affordable electric toothbrush subscriptionQuipQuip Toothbrush Starter Set, available at Quip and Target, from $24.99Best for: The one who takes their dental care seriouslyHelp them upgrade their oral care routine with a Quip toothbrush. Not only is it a great electric toothbrush at a reasonable price, but Quip will send them a refill every three months with a new brush head and toothbrush. Delicious mini cupcakesBaked by Melissa/FacebookCupcake Gift Boxes, available at Baked by Melissa, from $37Best for: Anyone with a sweet toothWho doesn't love getting a sweet surprise? With delicious flavors ranging from Cookie Dough to Pink Frosted Donut, these bite-size treats are sure to please. You can also add a special gift box to complete the gift. A set of magnets that are fun to play with and can boost concentrationCrystal Cox/InsiderSpeks 2.5mm Magnet Balls, available at Speks and Barnes & Noble, from $29.99Best for: The fidgeter Almost everyone on the Insider Reviews team has a set of Speks at their desk. The little magnetic balls can be mashed, molded, and built into fun shapes and are a fun fidget toy that even adults will love. A sugary and fun snackNeiman MarcusSugarfina Champagne Bears, available at Neiman Marcus, Amazon, and Sugarfina, from $13.95Best for: The one in need of a toastElevate their next sugar fix with these fun champagne gummy bears. Don't worry if they're under 21, despite the name and flavor, these gummies are non-alcoholic. There are rosé options, too.    A simple, inspiring Good Intentions Necklace, available at Amazon and, from $20Best for: The person who exudes posi vibesA sweet necklace with an even sweeter mission. Choose from a selection of positive intentions like "optimism," "strength," or "gratitude," which they can carry with them throughout the day. For every necklace sold, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the non-profit Girls Inc.A taste of Japan by way of snacksBokksu3-Month Snack Gift Box, available at Bokksu, $45.99Best for: Anyone bored of their current snack rotationAdventurous foodies will love the chance to taste-test a curated box of gourmet Japanese snacks. In this Bokksu box, they can expect to find between 10-14 snacks, a tea pairing, and an in-depth guide that details every product included.A bestselling face mask for clearer skinAztec SecretAztec Secret Indian Healing Mask, available at Target and Walmart, from $9.98Best for: The one in search of the best skincare productsAnyone in on the latest skincare trends will know about this mask. Many claim it has helped clear their skin, and it has over 12,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. The best part is that this powerful facial is just $10.A soft pair of socks made from sustainable fabricUnited by BlueSoftHemp Socks (2-Pack), available at United by Blue, $12Best for: Anyone with cold feetWith cold weather approaching, there's nothing better than slipping on cozy socks. Made from soft, sustainable hemp fabric, these are sure to do the trick (and why not get them two pairs?).A luxurious exfoliator to keep skin smoothNecessaireNecessaire The Body Exfoliator, available at Sephora, Amazon, and Nordstrom, from $28.99Best for: The one dreading winter skinNecessaire's clean beauty products come in beautiful, minimalist packaging that looks as good in their bathroom as it feels on their skin. This gentle exfoliator will help them slough off dry winter skin for good.A beautiful way to store olive oilUncommon GoodsHandblown Glass Olive Oil Pourer, available at Uncommon Goods, $46Best for: The kitchen curatorThese stunning handmade jars can hold up to 12 ounces of olive oil or vinegar. Plus, they look beautiful sitting out on the kitchen counter.Cruelty-free nail polish in a range of fun colorsSmith & CultNail Polish, available at Smith & Cult, $18Best for: The at-home nail painterSmith & Cult's polish is vegan, cruelty-free, and chip-resistant. With 46 fun colors to choose from, you're sure to find one (or two, or three) they'll love. Useful cable clipsAmazonShintop Cable Clips (6-pack), available at Amazon, $3.97Best for: The desktop organizerWhether their phone charger is always falling under their desk or they simply have too many cables to keep track of, these affordable and efficient clips will allow them to simplify their workspace. Plus, the pink, orange, and green shades contribute a fun pop of color.A Disney+ subscriptionAlyssa Powell/Business InsiderGift subscription, available at Disney Plus, $7.99/monthBest for: The lifelong Disney loverIt gives them unlimited access to movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, "Star Wars," National Geographic, and 20th Century Fox, and costs just $7.99 a month or $79.99 a year after a free seven-day trial. Read everything there is to know about Disney+ over here.And if you need some binge-spiration, here are all the new movies available to stream.A sheet mask that'll hydrate dry, stressed skinSephoraDr. Jart+ Soothing Hydra Solution, available at Sephora and Amazon, from $7Best for: The face mask fanFall and winter skin tends to be dry and dull. While you can't change the weather, you can throw on a hydrating face mask to stay moisturized. This one will add lots of soothing hydration to their skin to keep it feeling fresh.A set of playing cards inspired by music's greatsAmazonMusic Genius Playing Cards, available at Uncommon Goods, $10Best for: The music loverWhether they love game night, music, or are equal fans of both, they'll surely get a kick out of these playing cards. The pack features illustrations of all the big names in pop, rock, country, and R&B.Makeup towels that make washing their face less of a choreWeezieMakeup Towels, available at Weezie, $40Best for: The one who struggles to remove their mascaraIf they've never thought of washcloths as anything special, Weezie towels will change their minds. The adorable towels are embroidered with either hearts, winky eyelids, or the words "stain me." 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You can even do a customized option and put their initials on it.  A silky-smooth sleep mask to block lightNordstromSlip Pink Marble Sleep Mask, available at Nordstrom, $50Best for: The beauty sleeperIf there's nothing they appreciate more than a good night's sleep, they'll love Slip's silk sleep mask. It's made from 100% pure Mulberry silk for a luxe, light feel on their skin. A fitting vehicle for their post-run brewsUncommon GoodsEtched Marathon Pint Glass, available at Uncommon Goods, $20Best for: The runner If they like to celebrate a long run with a big pint, they'll appreciate these pint glasses etched with famous marathon routes. A set of colorful silicone straws that reduce plastic wasteFood52Five Two Silicone Straw, available at Food52, $19Best for: The environmentalist Bendable, sustainable, and portable (thanks to the set of carrying cases), these fun straws are the accessory any eco-conscious person should have.A bold lip color that'll last all day longSephoraLancome L'Absolu Rouge Lipstick, available at Sephora and Macy's, from $27.20Best for: The one who sticks to one lipstick at a timeWhether it's a pale peach or a deep-red look they crave, they'll love this long-lasting lipstick with its saturated colors and hydrating formula.A book subscriptionBook of the Month3-Month Subscription, available at Book of the Month, $49.99Best for: The obsessive readerA subscription box that sends them an exciting new read catered to their tastes each month is the perfect gift for a bookworm. A coffee mug that keeps their drinks hot or cold for hoursAmazonHydro Flask Travel Coffee Mug, available at Hydro Flask and REI, from $20.89Best for: The hot coffee loverHydro Flask's Travel Coffee Mug is a team favorite. It combines the classic shape of a mug with Hydro Flask's TempShield insulation to keep beverages hot, or cold, for hours— a great gift for the coffee or tea lover who's always on the move. A cute reusable tote that can fit tons of stuffBAGGUStandard Baggu, available at Baggu, $14Best for: The tote wearerIt's no wonder these bags are bestsellers — they can hold up to 50 pounds of stuff and come in a range of fun colors and patterns. Plus, at just $12, they're a great deal. A classy carrying case to stash chargersMark & GrahamLeather Charger Roll-Up, available at Mark & Graham, from $39Best for: The expert packerAfter they fill the three pockets with cables and chargers, all they have do is roll everything up and they're good to go. The soft, supple leather comes in a variety of fun colors and patterns. A cult-favorite cast-iron skilletAmazonLodge Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet, available at Williams Sonoma, Target, and Amazon, from $19.90Best for: The frequent home cookEvery cook needs a cast-iron skillet in their kitchen. Lodge makes some of the best out there, but at prices that won't break the bank. A candle that reminds them of their favorite placeAmazonHomesick Location Scented Candle, available at Amazon, Homesick, and Uncommon Goods, from $34Best for: The one with state pride This is a great gift that's sure to make anyone sentimental. Whether it's their hometown, college town, or favorite spot to vacation, a Homesick candle, with scents inspired by all sorts of locations, will bring them back to that favorite place. An apron loaded with plenty of clever featuresFood52Five Two Ultimate Apron, available at Food52, from $35Best for: The kitchen splatter-averseAnyone who spends a good amount of time in the kitchen will appreciate this durable apron with its sturdy fabric, clever pockets made to hold the essentials, and pot-holders built right in. A cold brew coffee maker to keep up with their iced coffee habitAmazonTakeya Cold Brew Coffee Maker, available at Amazon and Target, $27.99Best for: The at-home coffee brewerIf their morning ritual includes a cup of cold brew, they'll appreciate this convenient cold brew maker. All they have to do is fill it with their favorite coffee grinds, add water, let it sit, and they've got a glass of delicious cold brew on the way. A portable straw that makes water drinkableAmazonLifeStraw Personal Water Filter, available at Amazon, $12.74Best for: The outdoor adventurerThis portable, personal water filter is consistently one of the bestselling products on Prime Day. It filters water from creeks and rivers, making it perfect for hiking, camping, and travel.A simple and elegant photo calendarArtifact UprisingWalnut Desktop Photo Calendar, available at Artifact Uprising, from $29.75Best for: The fan of the old-school paper calendarAll of Artifact Uprising's customized photo gifts are simple, beautiful, and made from eco-friendly materials. This simple calendar is an easy choice for anyone on your list. Just pick 12 photos (one for each month) of the people and places they love most to add a special sentiment to their desk setup.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 2nd, 2022

November Payrolls Unexpectedly Smash Expectations As Hourly Earnings Jump

November Payrolls Unexpectedly Smash Expectations As Hourly Earnings Jump It was supposed to be the lowest payrolls report since December 2020 and... it was, but not how the market expected. With consensus expecting a 200K print (and whisper predicting much lower amid the mass tech layoffs), virtually nobody - not even Goldman - expected anything resembling a beat. And while we did in fact get the weakest print since Dec 2020 (and tied with March 2021), the report was a completely unexpected beat to expectations, coming in at +263K, this was a huge beat to expectations of 200K (the 7th consecutive beat) and just barely a drop compared to the upward revised 284K last month. The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for September was revised down by 46,000, from +315,000 to +269,000, and the change for October was revised up by 23,000, from +261,000 to +284,000. With these revisions, employment gains in September and October combined were 23,000 lower than previously reported Monthly job growth has averaged 392,000 thus far in 2022, compared with 562,000 per month in 2021. In November, the biggest job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality (bartenders and waiters), health care, and government. Employment declined in retail trade and in transportation and warehousing. As noted, this was the 7th consecutive payrolls beat of expectations in a row! The unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7% in November, in line with expectations, and has been in a narrow range of 3.5% to 3.7% since March. The number of unemployed persons was essentially unchanged at 6.0 million in November.  Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.4 percent), adult women (3.3 percent), teenagers (11.3 percent), Whites (3.2 percent), Blacks (5.7 percent), Asians (2.7 percent), and Hispanics (3.9 percent) showed little or no change over the month. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.) Both the labor force participation rate, at 62.1 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 59.9 percent, were little changed in November and have shown little net change since early this year. But what was the most troubling update is that wages came in red hot again, with average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rising by 18 cents, or 0.6%  to $32.82, double the expected 0.3% growth . Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 5.1% which was also above the 4.6% expected. Here is Cornerstone Financial's Cliff Hodge on the earnings data: “While the headline payrolls number was strong, the wage data is going to be eye-popping for the Fed. The 0.6% month-over-month wage growth number matched the highest level all year. Higher wages feed into higher inflation, which will no doubt keep pressure on the Fed and should increase expectations for the terminal rate. We got no help from the participation rate, which continues to move in the wrong direction and will keep competition for labor high until the economy inevitably rolls over sometime next year.” In November, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls declined by 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours. In manufacturing, the average workweek for all employees decreased by 0.2 hour to 40.2 hours, and overtime declined by 0.1 hour to 3.1 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 0.1 hour to 33.9 hours. Some more details: Among the unemployed, the number of permanent job losers rose by 127,000 to 1.4 million in November. The number of persons on temporary layoff changed little at 803,000. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 1.2 million in November. The long-term unemployed accounted for 20.6 percent of all unemployed persons. The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons was about unchanged at 3.7 million in November. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs. The number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job was little changed at 5.6 million in November and remains above its February 2020 level of 5.0 million. These individuals were not counted as unemployed because they were not actively looking for work during the 4 weeks preceding the survey or were unavailable to take a job. Among those not in the labor force who wanted a job, the number of persons marginally attached to the labor force held at 1.5 million in November. These individuals wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months but had not looked for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. The number of discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached who believed that no jobs were available for them, was 405,000 in November, little changed from the previous month. Drilling down into the BLS's establishment survey fabulation we get the following ridiculous modeled "data": Leisure and hospitality added 88,000 jobs in November, including a gain of 62,000 in food services and drinking places. Leisure and hospitality has added an average of 82,000 jobs per month thus far this year, less than half the average gain of 196,000 jobs per month in 2021. In November, employment in health care rose by 45,000, with gains in ambulatory health care services (+23,000), hospitals (+11,000), and nursing and residential care facilities (+10,000). Government added 42,000 jobs in November, mostly in local government (+32,000). Government employment has increased by an average of 25,000 per month thus far this year, compared with 38,000 per month in 2021. Since February 2020, government employment is down by 461,000, or 2.0 percent. In November, employment in the other services industry rose by 24,000, as personal and laundry services added 11,000 jobs over the month. Other services employment has increased by an average of 15,000 per month thus far this year, compared with 24,000 per month in 2021. Employment in other services is below its February 2020 level by 186,000, or 3.1 percent. Employment in social assistance increased by 23,000 in November and has returned to its February 2020 level. Within social assistance, employment in individual and family services increased by 17,000 in November. Job growth in social assistance has averaged 18,000 per month thus far in 2022, compared with an average of 13,000 per month in 2021. Construction employment continued to trend up in November (+20,000), with nonresidential building adding 8,000 jobs. Construction has added an average of 19,000 jobs per month thus far this year, little different from the 2021 average of 16,000 per month. Employment in information rose by 19,000 in November. Employment in the industry has increased by an average of 14,000 per month thus far this year, in line with the average of 16,000 per month in 2021.   Manufacturing employment continued to trend up in November (+14,000). Job growth has averaged 34,000 per month thus far this year, little different from the 2021 average of 30,000 per month. In November, employment in financial activities continued its upward trend (+14,000). Job gains in real estate and rental and leasing (+13,000) and in securities, commodity contracts, and investments (+6,000) were partially offset by a decline in credit intermediation and related activities (-9,000). Employment in financial activities has increased by an average of 12,000 per month thus far this year, the same as in 2021. Employment in retail trade declined by 30,000 in November. Job losses in general merchandise stores (-32,000), electronics and appliance stores (-4,000), and furniture and home furnishings stores (-3,000) were partially offset by a job gain in motor vehicle and parts dealers (+10,000). Retail trade employment has fallen by 62,000 since August. Employment in transportation and warehousing declined by 15,000 in November and has decreased by 38,000 since July. In November, job losses in warehousing and storage (-13,000) and in couriers and messengers (-12,000) were partially offset by a job gain in air transportation (+4,000).   Employment in professional and business services changed little in November (+6,000). Within the industry, professional and technical services added 28,000 jobs, while business support services lost 11,000 jobs. Monthly job growth in professional and business services has averaged 58,000 thus far in 2022, down from 94,000 per month in 2021. And a visual heatmap of jobs courtesy of Bloomberg: Needless to say this report, clearly politically motivated in light of everything else taking place in the economy, has put the Fed in a corner: while most other economic indicators scream recession, Biden's last economic silver lining - the labor market - continues to come in far hotter than expected, and as such it forces Powell to keep tightening until such time as the bottom falls out of the economy and the US goes straight from expansion to depression, skipping recession completely. Matt Maley, chief market strategist for Miller Tabak agrees: “The number one issue for the Fed has been wage inflation. Today’s much higher than expected data on average hourly earnings shows that it is still a big problem. This will prolong the Fed’s current tightening policy.” As BBG economist Anna Wong notes, “The robust November jobs report reinforces a point Fed Chair Jerome Powell made in his Nov. 30 speech: Signs that wage growth is moderating are only ‘tentative.’ The resurgence of average hourly earnings growth shows labor shortages are still pressuring inflation, pushing back against the idea -- supported by a few Fed officials, as indicated in the November FOMC minutes -- that wage growth is cooling fast. Given the slow adjustment in the labor market, Fed officials will likely have to raise their terminal-rate forecast from what they wrote down in the September dot plot.” And in keeping with the market reaction matrix we shared earlier, the kneejerk reaction for all risk assets - stocks, TSYs, gold, and crypto - is uniformly lower. Tyler Durden Fri, 12/02/2022 - 08:38.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 2nd, 2022

Your Next House Could Be Made on an Assembly Line

Building homes—or at least pieces of them—in a factory could help address America's housing shortage. Walking down the assembly line as the bell dings, marking a lunch break, Ken Semler points to a man carefully sealing the frame of a house with foam as evidence that this factory can build houses faster, cheaper, and better than traditional homebuilders. “There’s no way you can do quality work in the field to the level you can in the factory,” says Semler, a tall, chatty man with a bristly mustache who is the president-elect of the Modular Home Builders Association. Factories like this one, run by a company called Apex Homes, may also be the key to solving America’s affordable housing crisis. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Sitting on the assembly line are so-called modules—pieces of a house—that will be wrapped in insulation and trucked to their final destination, which in this case is a ranch in Wyoming. There, a crane will put them together like a 3D puzzle. The whole process can be completed in a fraction of the time and at a lower cost than it would take to build a home on site. “People are looking for an alternative way to build,” Semler says. “The old way is just getting too hard.” The term “factory-built housing” might conjure the image of the small, boxy trailer-like home that sprung up to help address the housing crisis after World War II. But the modular homes manufactured here and in other factories are indistinguishable from the site-built homes in the neighborhoods they end up in. Unlike manufactured housing, which is wholly assembled in a factory and conforms only to a federal standard, modular housing is assembled on site and is required to follow specific state and local building codes. Companies build modular in styles like ranch, colonial, and chalet—Semler is building himself a 4,500 square foot modular home in Virginia in what he calls “Southern Living” style architecture. Semler, who is also the CEO of a modular building company called Impresa Modular, has tried for years to convert the construction industry to off-site building (an industry term for modular.) A climate-controlled factory is a much easier place to build, he and other modular advocates argue, than a plot of land that is often remote, and that comes with unpredictable weather conditions. But in 2021, just 24,000 homes were built off-site, accounting for about 2% of all homes completed that year. Still, the conditions may be right for modular single-family housing construction to finally take off, driven by a worsening shortage of construction workers and a growing housing affordability crisis. Home prices in September were 32% higher than they were in the same month in 2020, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, and though higher interest rates may drive prices down, there is still a gaping shortage of housing in the United States. The country needs about 3.8 million more homes to keep up with population growth and make housing more affordable in its most high-opportunity areas. Evan Angelastro for TIME A motivational slogan in the Apex factory above some completed modular housing projects and spec homes. “In the United States, we’re under-supplied and housing needs to be more affordable. I think this is definitely part of the solution,” says Ryan Marshall, the CEO of PulteGroup, America’s third-largest home construction company, about offsite manufacturing. In January 2020, PulteGroup acquired Innovation Construction Group, a Florida-based company that builds house wall panels, roof trusses, and floor systems in a factory. In mid-November of this year, PulteGroup announced that it was opening a second factory, in South Carolina. Marshall says he hopes to open eight factories across the country in the next decade, which will supply parts for 70% of the homes the company builds annually. Off-site manufacturing can reduce the amount of time it takes to frame a home by 75%, he says, and the factory’s use of robotic saws and nailers helps build homes more precisely. Modular also helps the company do more with fewer workers. “Our fundamental belief is that the available labor that exists in our country to build homes is retiring quickly,” he says. A broken construction industry Marshall is correct that there is a growing labor shortage in the construction industry. The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) says that there were a record 449,000 unfilled job openings in the construction industry in April. That and pandemic-related supply shortages have lengthened the amount of time it takes to build a house, to eight months or longer, according to the NAHB. Modular homes, on the other hand, take about half as long to build—up from 5-6 weeks before the pandemic—and can cut costs by 20%, according to a 2019 McKinsey report. Many housing analysts argue that the traditional construction industry has a productivity problem. Even before the pandemic, it took, on average, 7 months from start to completion on a house, according to Census data. In 1971, by contrast, the same process took just 4.8 months. Evan Angelastro for TIMEKen Semler stands in an Apex spec home on the factory property. “It’s the only industry with negative traction,” says Margaret Whelan, who runs Whelan Advisory, an investment bank that works with construction companies trying to innovate. She calls the traditional construction industry and its big building companies “pale, male, and stale,” and suggests that is why they haven’t changed very much in decades. The slow speed of housing construction has a very real impact on the average American, whether or not they are homeowners. If construction lags population growth, there is more demand for housing than there is supply, driving up costs. Read More: Steamboat Springs’ Challenging Effort to House Everyone Modular can speed up the construction process, advocates say. Modular home factories like Apex’s in Middleburg, Pa. can finish a home in a few weeks. Once the modules are shipped from the factory, the house can be assembled on site in a matter of days, or sometimes hours. “If [modular construction] takes hold, it could give the industry a huge productivity boost, help solve housing crisis in many markets, and significantly reshape the way we build today,” a group of McKinsey partners wrote in the 2019 report, which also estimated that switching to modular could slash the time it takes to complete construction projects by 20% to 50%. Building affordable housing faster The bustling Middleburg factory shows just how efficient construction can be. Walk from one end of the cavernous factory to the other and you’ll see how a 64-foot by 13-foot floor—roughly the size of an oversized truck load—becomes a piece of a house, as workers add walls, windows, electrical wires, insulation, and siding as the module moves from one station to another on a rail track. At peak times, this happens quickly—Apex can move the modules down the assembly line as frequently as three times a day, meaning the floorboards of a house can move to the next station, where they get walls, insulation, and electrical wires. The company makes 175 to 200 homes a year, according to CEO Lynn Kuhns. Some of the tasks that workers do on the assembly line might look familiar to anyone who has been on a construction site—at one station, a worker is hammering nails into the floorboards, while at another further down the assembly line, a worker pushes insulation into the walls. But certain technologies are unique to the modular sector, Semler says, like spray foam insulation, which helps create a thermal envelope that leaks less heat in the winter and cold air in the summer. Because the work on the assembly line is repetitive, modular companies can bring in new workers who don’t have a lot of construction experience and train them to do one task, Semler says, which could help address the labor shortage in the construction industry. Read More: The Cure for Inflation Means More Pain for Renters The faster speed of the off-site construction industry appeals to people who don’t want to wait for years for a new home. Lori Griffin Schubert decided to buy a modular home after traditional builders told her that it would be at least a year and a half before they could start building her a home on a plot of land she and her husband had bought to retire on in western North Carolina. Schubert and her husband ended up paying $165 a square foot for their modular home, compared to the $400 per square foot they were getting quoted from on-site builders. It’s customized with a wood-burning fireplace, floor-to-ceiling windows, and 36-inch door, in case they need wheelchair access in the future, she says. The whole building process was completed in a few months, she says. Evan Angelastro for TIMEEarly in the process, prefabrication work being performed at the Apex Homes factory. “The more people we talked to, the more we heard that the [traditional] builders are getting inferior labor and inferior supplies, but the modulars have to go through inspections in every single step and the quality is so high,” she says. Habitat for Humanity of Dutchess County recently finished two modular homes—one with two bedrooms, one with three—for low-income families in Wappingers Falls, about 75 miles north of New York City. The nonprofit’s CEO, Maureen Lashlee, says that during the pandemic, her organization had a hard time finding volunteers, even though the region has a huge need for affordable housing, with 6,000 families who are priced out of the market and who would need to rely on Habitat if they want to own a home. “We have to find a way to step up our game and I honestly believe that modular is the way to do that,” Lashlee says. In an effort to boost capacity, the Habitat for Humanity in Buffalo, N.Y. is leasing a warehouse space to test building its own modular houses, creating an assembly line where volunteers can come and learn the basics of building. It allows the nonprofit to buy materials in bulk and have more control over variables like weather and pace. “We anticipate it will be a cost-saver,” says Stephanie Lawson, director of development and communications at the nonprofit in Buffalo. A sometimes risky bet For the modular sector to really take off, people like Semler need to convince more big homebuilders like D.R. Horton and Lennar, America’s two largest, to build homes, or at least pieces of them, off-site in a factory. But the cost of failures is high in the construction industry. There have already been some high-profile modular companies that went bust. Katerra, a modular builder that received $500 million in funding from SoftBank, filed for bankruptcy in June 2021 because of pandemic-related financial challenges. Blu Homes, a much-heralded modular company founded in 2007, was sold to another company in 2020 with some observers speculating its homes were too niche. And in the U.K. this summer, a joint venture between Japanese modular giant Sekisui House and British developer Urban Splash, backed by Britain’s housing and regeneration agency Homes England, also collapsed. Because offsite construction still isn’t very common, modular builders also run into regulatory hurdles that may prevent the industry from growing, says John Burns, the founder of John Burns Real Estate Consulting. Every city and town has its own zoning laws and few have the resources to explore and understand new types of construction. “The biggest issue they have with single-family homes is that local cities don’t want to see it” because it complicates the jobs of housing inspectors and officials, Burns says. In most places, states delegate third-party inspection companies to work with modular builders, Semler says. The third-party company reviews and approves the building plan, which allows the customer to get a building permit, and then the third-party company performs an inspection at the factory while the modules are being built. Local building inspectors are supposed to accept factory inspections, but, Semler says, many are still learning how the process works. “If you’re the first modular into that county,” he says, “You got a lot of explaining to do.” Some of modular construction’s cost savings come from the labor differential between how much workers are paid in the modular factories and how much they would be paid on site, which has made construction labor unions skeptical of the industry. As modular construction spreads, some labor groups are trying to make sure their jobs don’t get outsourced to rural factories. In the spring of 2022, New York State Senator Member Jessica Ramos, the chair of the Committee on Labor, introduced a bill that would require electrical and plumbing work for New York City modular construction to be supervised by a New York City-licensed worker—even if that work is usually done in a factory hundreds of miles away. The bill was passed by both the state Assembly and state Senate, and is awaiting Gov. Kathy Hochul’s signature, even though affordable housing advocates say it would be a blow to their efforts to reduce the cost of construction in New York City. “We believe a bill like this will tack on additional costs even as the cost of construction goes up year after year,” says Katrell Lewis, VP, Government and Community Partnerships at Habitat for Humanity of New York City and Westchester County, which is building a few modular homes in Queens and has plans to use more modular units in its construction to reduce costs. Evan Angelastro for TIMEA finished modular home by Apex in Middleburg. Opposition like New York’s may hurt factories like the one in Pennsylvania, that build whole modules in a factory and that usually work on custom projects. This suggests that companies like the one acquired by PulteGroup, which builds parts in a factory, rather than whole homes, may have an easier time growing. Marshall, of PulteGroup, says that he chose this method because it still requires local plumbers and electricians and complies with local building codes. It also allowed PulteGroup to continue building the floor plans that it has used for years, he says, which consumers know and love. There are other forces that might drive more modular construction. In May, President Joe Biden announced a plan to increase housing supply over five years that included promoting modular housing. And in Europe, homebuilders trying to reduce emissions and meet ESG goals have turned to modular construction because it generates 37% less carbon dioxide and half the construction waste of site-built homes. Construction industry data suggests that homebuilders are starting to think a little more about modular. About one-quarter of builders surveyed in September 2020 said they planned to use a type of modular roofing going forward, compared to just 15% who said that before the pandemic, according to Home Innovation Research Labs, a subsidiary of the NAHB. About 16% planned to use factory-built open wall panels, compared to 9% who said that before the pandemic, setting the stage for the acquisition of modular companies, as PulteGroup did. Read More: 3-D Printed Homes Could Help Solve the Housing Crisis Even if the housing market starts to falter, Semler is confident that modular will still do well. Because the process is so fast, he argues, modular construction will appeal to investors who are building homes to turn into rentals—they’ll be able to start collecting rent more quickly if they build with modular, he says. If nothing else, he’s determined to build a community of modular homes to show that it can work. Semler’s company, Impresa Modular, has its own factory in South Carolina, and it inked a deal last year with developer SLV Windfall Group, to build hundreds of homes for Savannah Lakes Village, a private lakefront community. The modular homes are traditional-looking 3,500 square foot houses with finished basements and porches. Impresa has agreed to build more than 100 homes a year for the foreseeable future there to help meet current demand. “I think the perfect storm of rising material costs and shortage of labor means that modular’s moment is here,” Semler says.  .....»»

Category: topSource: timeDec 1st, 2022

25 Ways To Improve Your Financial Situation In 1 Hour

Money is a complex topic, with thousands of books, websites, and podcasts dedicated to covering some aspect of the subject. It can also evoke a strong emotional response. Feelings of embarrassment, shame, frustration, anger, and more can keep people from addressing their financial situation. One solution is to carve up financial strategies into small, simple […] Money is a complex topic, with thousands of books, websites, and podcasts dedicated to covering some aspect of the subject. It can also evoke a strong emotional response. Feelings of embarrassment, shame, frustration, anger, and more can keep people from addressing their financial situation. One solution is to carve up financial strategies into small, simple tasks. The following 25 tasks can all be implemented and completed within an hour, which means they’re non-threatening and easy to do. Crossing a few off your list will help you feel more confident and save some money. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Walter Schloss Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Walter Schloss in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues. (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more   Find A Qualified Financial Advisor Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn't have to be hard. SmartAsset's free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you're ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now. Create a simple budget A simple budget can help you identify not only how you currently spend your money but also ways in which you can change those spending habits and practices for better financial results. Budgeting your money and allocating funds to existing expenses helps you keep more of your money in your pocket or account. Adhering to that budget helps ensure you don’t run out of money by the end of the week. Download a budget app Given the practicalities of modern daily life, it’s usually more convenient to use an app to create, maintain, check, and adhere to your budget, as opposed to pencil and paper. Some of the top-rated budgeting apps for Android and iOS devices include Mint, YNAB (You Need a Budget), EveryDollar, and PocketGuard. Still, you should definitely take a look at independent reviews with app screenshots to find the one that best meets your needs and preferences. Review your budget Budgets should be flexible, living documents that change as your life and work evolve. Take some time to review your budget and update it to make sure it still aligns with your goals and to ensure you’re living within your means. Negotiate a higher salary How long has it been since you got a raise at work? Resolve to negotiate for higher pay within the next 30 days. Start by creating a short script you can use to begin negotiations with your current employer. List out your accomplishments and supporting data, and practice delivering that request in a confident, straightforward manner. Create or update your estate plan Nobody wants to think about death and dying, but it’s a part of life. Don’t leave your family and loved ones in a precarious financial position. Ensure your wishes are carried out by making sure you’ve got an updated will and estate plan. If you need some help, make an appointment with a local trusts and estates lawyer who can talk you through your options and make sure your documents comply with applicable laws in your state. Learn something new Invest in yourself by taking a class or reading a book on a personal finance topic. What don’t you know? What are you curious about? If you’re not sure what the stock market is, or if you want to learn more about cryptocurrency and blockchain, find a great resource to teach you. Start an emergency fund Ideally, we should all have anywhere from three to six months’ worth of living expenses, but you can start more simply. Open a new account and put a few dollars in, then make a plan to add to it over time to cover unexpected costs. Resolve not to touch it outside a true emergency, such as an unanticipated medical expense or car repair bill that would take more money than you currently have on hand. Automate your finances You may have already enrolled in direct deposit. If not, contact your employer’s finance or HR department to make that change. Then talk to your bank about ways you can automate a contribution to your savings account from each paycheck. You can also look for bills that will let you sign up for automatic monthly payments. That way, you’ll know your financial situation well and won’t have to wonder if you’re late with a bill. Save on your credit card payments Making credit card adjustments can be an easy way to improve your financial situation. Credit cards are notorious for high-interest rates, but even if you think you’re getting a good deal, it pays to double-check. Call your card issuer and ask for a lower interest rate on your account, or shop around for better deals. That way, you’ll be paying less each month for your purchases. Create a savings plan If you’re not already regularly putting some money aside on a regular basis, give some thought to doing this now. Look at your budget and figure out how much you can afford to put aside. Then open up a savings account at your bank and pledge to put aside a certain percentage of every paycheck (or client payment, if you’re a freelancer) into that account. Review your insurance policies It’s easy over the years to get talked into buying too much insurance, but it’s also equally simple to not carry enough insurance. For home, auto, health, and other policies check your coverage and usage and make sure they’re appropriate for your circumstances. Read the fine print. You might also want to look for less expensive alternatives. Cancel subscriptions A quick and easy way to improve your financial situation is to eliminate subscriptions. Netflix, Hulu, subscription boxes, personal care membership programs, and more can easily put a sizable dent in your disposable income. The individual payments seem so inconsequential and small, but together they can really add up. Look through your subscriptions and memberships, then cancel any that you no longer use or that you can live without. Look for better loans Whether it’s a mortgage, car loan, personal loan, or another type of loan, maybe you can do better. Take some time to research your options and shop around for lower rates. If you have a solid credit rating and payment history, you might be able to qualify for a much better deal. Renegotiate your cell plan Cell phone plans can quickly become bloated with unanticipated fees and extras. Call your mobile carrier and attempt to negotiate a better deal on your cell phone plan. If that doesn’t work, shop for a better deal from a different carrier, then port your existing number over to the new account. Sell your stuff Almost everyone has unused clothing, toys, books, and more, taking up space. Why not list these items for sale on an auction site? Alternatively, set them aside and pick a date for a garage sale. Place an ad for a roommate Whether you’re renting or purchasing your home, housing expenses likely take up a large percentage of your monthly income. So it stands to reason that anything that can reduce your mortgage or rent payment each month would save you a substantial amount of money each year. With rents rising across the nation, lots of folks are looking for more affordable accommodations. If you have an extra bedroom or another room that can be turned into a habitable living space, why not look for someone who needs a place to live and who can pay a reasonable amount of rent? Swap out your light bulbs Utility payments can easily impact your financial situation. And with inflation driving up costs across almost all financial sectors, including electricity, it’s smart to think of ways to reduce your monthly bill. You can always turn off lights in rooms you’re not occupying and unplug appliances and products when not in use. Additionally, if you’re using standard light bulbs, replace them with LED bulbs to save on your electricity bill. LED light bulbs are about 75% more efficient, and they last up to 25 times longer than standard bulbs. Start a side gig What specific skills have you accumulated over your life? Chances are, at least one of them could earn you some extra money and boost your financial situation. Freelance content writing, social media management, graphics, podcast editing, affiliate marketing, and more can all be the basis for your side hustle. Check other websites and digital opportunities to create additional revenue streams if you’re not interested in formally launching a full-time business. Trim your grocery bill Inflation is making almost everything we buy more expensive. Look at your usual weekly shopping list and then try to identify places where you can choose more economical options. Consider using these tactics: Shop for store brands and other less expensive options. Choose less expensive cuts of meat. Plan vegetarian or vegan meals a few nights a week to save on meat. Resolve to leave less leftover food and use everything you buy to cut down on waste. Pay attention to serving sizes. Clip coupons. Look for help with overspending If overspending is a problem for you, the first step in conquering it is to admit the problem exists. The next step is to look for resources that can help you get your compulsive shopping under control. There are books available, as well as mental health counseling services through sites like Better Help. Bump up your retirement savings to improve your long-term financial situation Arrange with your employer’s benefits manager to increase your retirement savings contributions by 1%. If you don’t already have a retirement savings vehicle, begin the process of starting one by researching your options. If you’re self-employed, look into options like the SEP IRA and the solo 401(k). Open a 529 plan for your child If you have children, consider opening a 529 plan to help fund college or other educational expenses. It’s a great savings vehicle for families as it offers tax-free growth and withdrawals, as long as the withdrawals are for qualifying educational expenses. Check your credit reports Every US citizen gets one free copy of their credit reports from each of the three major reporting agencies—TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Don’t be swayed by commercial services and online ads; make sure you use the official US website, Dispute credit report errors Creditors make mistakes sometimes, and when those mistakes find their way onto your credit report, the negative impacts can be serious and substantial. That’s why it’s so important to carefully check your reports on a regular basis. If you find an error, dispute it with the credit reporting agency. Look for unclaimed money Old tax refunds, pension accounts, life insurance proceeds, and more can all mean free money for you. Whether due to a move, a name change, or some other life change (or just a simple mistake on the part of the issuer), you may have unclaimed funds out there waiting for you. Small Steps Can Yield Big Improvements Improving your finances doesn’t need to be a huge, scary monster lurking in your closet. Choosing simple, straightforward tasks that you can complete in an hour or so will help you achieve a sense of accomplishment and control over your finances. That can, in turn, help fuel other financial improvement strategies in the future. Article by John Boitnott, Due About the Author John Boitnott graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a Masters Degree in Education. He worked for 14 years as a broadcast news writer for ABC, NBC, and CBS News where he covered finance, business and real estate. He covered financial news for SAP for four years. Boitnott is now working as a columnist for The Motley Fool where he covers personal financial and investing strategies......»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkDec 1st, 2022

Russians are angry Putin is spending billions on an unpopular war as they freeze back home, report says

Russians are complaining about poverty and poor infrastructure amid Putin's ongoing war in Ukraine, The Daily Beast reported. Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the SCTO Summit in Yerevan, Armenia, on November 23, 2022.Contributor/Getty Images Russians are accusing Putin of ignoring domestic problems while focusing on the war in Ukraine.  Some Russians are complaining about a lack of heating in their homes, The Daily Beast reported. Forbes Ukraine estimated last week that Russia has spent around $82 billion in the war so far.  Russians are angry President Vladimir Putin is spending billions on an increasingly unpopular war in Ukraine as they freeze back home, The Daily Beast reported on Thursday. As Russian troops continue to strike Ukraine's vital power in fractures — plunging millions into darkness — Russians at home are also struggling to keep afloat amid crippling Western sanctions. People living in many of the remote regions of the country, where conditions are at their worst, have been complaining about a lack of heating in their homes and burst water pipes, The Beast reported, citing social media posts. Remote regions including Tyumen, Karaganda, and Yakutia are among the worst affected, reporting many victims of frost in the past week, the outlet reported."They take young men—the only breadwinners—away and send them back in coffins. The guys freeze on the front, get sick, die while their families live in poverty," Valentina Melnikova, an activist with the Soldiers' Mothers Committee, told The Beast."It seems authorities have no interest left in human lives at this point," she added.Nikolay Zolotov, a Russian blogger who lives in a republic in Siberia, told the Beast: "Dark times. Ukraine is surviving without heating and light and here in Khakasia our life is awfully hard.""Bursting pipes is not the worst problem: people live on tiny salaries in a poorly maintained city, without cash to buy food, while our government spends billions on the special operation in Ukraine," he added.It is unclear how much exactly Putin is spending on the war in Ukraine, which continues nine months after the Russian leader launched his large-scale invasion.Forbes Ukraine estimated last week that Russia has spent around $82 billion — a quarter of its annual budget.Among other costs, this estimate includes nearly $29 billion that Moscow has allocated to support its army with weapons and equipment, $16 billion for soldiers' salaries, and more than $9 billion to pay off the families of servicemen killed in combat.The war will not get any cheaper for Putin, Forbes Ukraine said, estimating that it will cost at least $10 billion a month going forward.The reports come amid numerous battlefield setbacks in recent weeks for Russia, which has started looking to countries like Iran, North Korea, and Syria for assistance.Other reports of mobilized Russian soldiers being deployed with little training and poor equipment have prompted more Russians to publicly voice their criticisms. Before the war, which started on February 24, Putin admitted that poverty was Russia's biggest challenge, calling it the country's "main enemy" in 2019, The Beast reported."Our main goal is to improve the quality of life for our citizens," he said. Meanwhile, Russian attacks have crippled half of Ukraine's energy infrastructure, a top World Health Organization official said last month, leaving millions of people across the country without power and water.The upcoming winter "will be about survival" for Ukrainians, the official warned.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 1st, 2022

New York City seeks a "bloodthirsty" rat czar: Ad for director of rodent mitigation job to fight serious, gnawing problem is ... actually pretty funny

The listing calls for a candidate with a "virulent vehemence for vermin" and the "determination and killer instinct needed to fight the real enemy." A rat sniffs a box with food in it on the platform at the Herald Square subway station in New York City/Gary Hershorn/Getty Images New York City is hiring a "director of rodent mitigation" for a salary of between $120,000 and $170,000.  The individual selected for the role will be tasked with "keeping the city's rats in check and on notice." Rat sightings are up 71% this year from 2020, according to data from the NYC Department of Sanitation.  New York City is looking for a leader to fight one of its biggest and most persistent foes — rats. In a job listing posted this week, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Operations announced it is hiring a director of rodent mitigation who will be tasked with "keeping the city's rats in check and on notice." The salary range for the "24/7 job requiring stamina and stagecraft" is listed between $120,000 and $170,000. The cheeky posting goes on to describe a qualified candidate who has a "virulent vehemence for vermin" with "the drive, determination, and killer instinct needed to fight the real enemy — New York City's relentless rat population." "The ideal candidate is highly motivated and somewhat bloodthirsty, determined to look at all solutions from various angles, including improving operational efficiency, data collection, technology innovation, trash management, and wholesale slaughter," the listing reads. At one point the listing even appears to reference to "Ratatouille," the popular Pixar-animated movie about an aspiring rat chef named Remy, who secretly directs Alfredo Linguini from under his hat in a kitchen in France. "Rodents spread disease, damage homes and wiring, and even attempt to control the movements of kitchen staffers in an effort to take over human jobs," the listing reads. A rat is seen by a trash bin in New York City on October 19, 2022.Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesWhile New York City has long been synonymous with rats, sightings have skyrocketed. According to data from the New York City Sanitation Department, as of October there were 21,600 sightings and complaints about rats so far in 2022, up 71% from October 2020. As a result, the city has increased efforts to curb the rodent population, including establishing a new policy that New Yorkers must bring trash bags to the curb no earlier than 8 p.m. or they will face a fine beginning April 2023.The push even led to the creation of an T-shirt through a collaboration between the Department of Sanitation and streetwear brand Only NY.  Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch made an anti-rat statement in November that went viral, and became the subject of countless memes, New York City marathon signs — and now a shirt.Her infamous comment is emblazoned on the front: "The rats are absolutely going to hate this announcement, but the rats don't run this city. We do."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 1st, 2022