A full fledged Deflationary Bust

This morning the NAPM reported a record low reading on their services index. This is the vast majority of the economy. Yesterday we learned that auto sales also declined by a record amount in November.
What both auto sales and services have in common is a continuing worsening of monthly measures compared with 2007. For example, in August car sales were down about 19% YoY. In September the loss was 21%. In October it was 23%. November's number, released yesterday,was more than 30% off from 2007.

Some time ago, I summarized Prof. Leamer's research on typical business cycle contractions: first housing, then durables (mainly cars and furniture), then non-durables, and finally services. When services go, you are in the full force of the recession. That's where we are now.

In the services report was another bomb: the prices index has also declined dramatically, also to a new all-time low -- from an all-time high only four months ago.

The significance of (-1.5%) deflation

Tim Iacono of "The Mess that Greenspan Made" has published the latest version of his very revealing graph series of the Case Schiller-CPI, which replaces "owners equivalent rent" with actual house prices:

I consider this graph the best proxy available for measuring the competing forces of inflation and deflation. As Tim points out, the graph is now "screaming" deflation. Tim, however, doesn't think measuring deflation is particularly productive. Here I respectfully disagree, for reasons I discuss below.

2009: Recession vs. Recovery (Update 2)

Update 2, Nov. 7, 2008: We got three new pieces of data this week, 2 on the monetary front, and one on the inflation front.

On the monetary front, M1 was updated weekly, increasing to ~ +8% YoY. Monetary base continues to soar, up about 60% YoY now!

Meanwhile the ISM manufacturing "prices paid" index showed that more prices are declining than increasing at the producer level:

This is our first October inflation reading, and it strongly suggests we will get another month of deflation when the PPI and CPI come out in 2 weeks.

The Deflationary Recession of 2009?

In my last diary, I explained how an increase in the money supply faster than the rate of inflation, coupled with a "positively sloped bond yield curve 12 months prior, which has in the past always indicated the ending of a recession, appeared to be going positive now. A much more detailed explanation, with supporting graphs going back about 50 years, of this "Kasriel recession indicator" can be found here. While almost all financial indicators are based strictly on the post World War 2 inflationary period, the "Kasriel infallible recession predictor" accurately "predicts" the 1929 downturn, the 1933-37 and 1939-41 expansions.

Manufacturing Monday: Week of 10.20.08


Happy Monday, folks, I do hope you all had a good weekend!  Welcome to another installment of Manufacturing Monday!  Now things are looking bad out there, as many of you probably already know.  We start out with more dire jobs news at GM. Turning to some good news, it seems economic forces that made us "costly" has now turned the tables of sorts, with ironically the biggest pusher of China, Wal-mart (or is it Walmart?  I've seen this store both ways.) forcing suppliers to look domestically.  Lastly, we got Honda moving more work to North America. But first, as is par for the course, we get to the latest economic info related to manufacturing.  So without further adieu...

The Numbers!

The Consumer catches a Silver Lining

Lost in this past week's dismal news for 401k retirement reports (can we call them 201k's now?) is a silver lining for the consumer: this recession, like every 20th century recession before it, has created enough demand destruction to break the back of inflation. Been to your local gasoline station this past week? Odd are, you are seeing prices you haven't seen in a long time. In fact, the price of Oil per barrel is now lower than it was a year ago. Here's the graph demonstrating that truth:

Why Have the Markets Crashed?

The major US stock market averages have lost over 20% in two weeks alone, and over 10% just in the first four days of this week. Every single day, a major bank on some continent fails. We are in the midst of a full-fledged run on the financial system (I hasten to add: NOT your neighborhood savings bank) that by all definitions except the formal one of a 10% loss in a single day, should be called a crash.

I'll confess right here. I did not believe a crash would happen. In 1929 and again in 1987, crashes occurred less than 3 months after a fresh, exuberant high had been reached. It was exactly one year ago today that the DJIA reached its all time high of 14,165. Until 2 weeks ago, the decline was a slow grinding inexorable washing out much like 2000-2002 or 1973-1974. So much pessimism was already in the system that a crash seemed almost impossible. Then, after Lehman was allowed to fail, suddenly the emergency was upon us. Kudos to Lee Adler of the Wall Street Examiner who exactly cautioned a couple of weeks ago that his technical indicators were consistent with an imminent crash. He was right.

But that does not tell us WHY the market has crashed. This diary is somewhat stream of consciousness, and I'll add on graphs if I can later on, but for now, a narrative of why.

What is DeLeveraging?

swarmsAll of a sudden words are buzzing like flies over the carnage.   Swatted and flying in rapid succession from analysts everywhere is the term  DeLeveraging.   Now what kind of beige, innocuous glossing over term does that imply on what's really happening?    Seeking Alpha defines deleveraging as Feedback Loops Gone Wild.    Ok, so what does that mean?

Virtuous circles (and their accompanying animal spirits) give way to vicious cycles, in which lower prices beget write-downs, which beget lower prices

Zacks tells you it's when:

Money goes to money heaven

Bankruptcy 2015 ? (Part II.)

In Part I of this series, I examined the 1992 best seller entitled "Bankruptcy 1995", which had predicted that the US would become unable to service its national debt as early as 1995 due to soaring budget deficits. So dire and well-documented was the warning that it affected the outcome of the 1992 presidential election, helping to elect Bill Clinton. In light of new looting of the national treasury by George W. Bush and the Republican Congress, I re-read the book to see if any of its predictions were now coming true. I posted those predictions, and the book's thesis that continued budget deficits would drive up interest rates and lead to "Death by Hyperinflation" or "Death by Panic" in Part I.
But "Bankruptcy 1995" obviously didn't happen, in spite of the fact that deficits have continued to be run nearly every year since then. Only part of the reason was the fiscally responsible Clinton tax and budget plan that began in 1993. In this diary I examine how a long-term, continuous decline in interest rates has actually reduced the carrying costs of the National Debt, and why that means the sky Hasn't fallen -- yet.