Profits Over Prosperity

Economic data is sometimes confusing and often contradictory.  Consider these two bits of information.  Earnings at S&P 500 companies, and represented by ETFs like Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO), have jumped 23% since the fourth quarter of 2007.  Over the same period, sales at the same companies... 

Book Review: The Ultimate Depression Survival Guide

My friend and colleague, Dr. Martin Weiss, wrote an excellent book last year which rapidly climbed the best-seller lists.  The title is both lengthy and provocative: The Ultimate Depression Survival Guide: Protect Your Savings, Boost Your Income, and Grow Wealthy Even In The Worst Of Times.  As you... 

Unemployment Drops, Markets Yawn

Today’s November employment report from the Labor Department revealed that “only” 11,000 jobs disappeared last month.  This was far better than expected.  Economists had projected a loss of 125,000 jobs, according to a Bloomberg survey. At the same time, the jobless rate dropped from... 

Why Is The Market Going Up When Jobs Are Going Down?

Last month the national unemployment average rose to 9.8%. It’s actually at 17% if you count distressed and underemployed workers. Not only is unemployment data weak, it’s getting worse. Former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan said unemployment would hit at least 10% before turning back. Even with this... 

Deficits, Debt, and International Investments

Last week it was official. The U.S. government ran a $1.42 trillion deficit for fiscal year 2009, the worst year since 1945. The fiscal year ends on September 30. While not surprising, the enormous numbers are still hard to believe. The FY 2008 deficit was $442 billion – nearly $1 trillion less. While... 

Deflation Means No COLA for Seniors

Sorry, senior citizens: there will be no cost-of-living adjustment in your Social Security payments this year.  You are victims of deflation. Today the Labor Department reported that the Consumer Price Index rose 0.2% in September and fell -1.3% in the last twelve months.  This was no great surprise,... 

Bankrupt Deadbeat Banks Stiff Taxpayers

Only a few weeks ago, We The People seemed to be turning a profit on the U.S. Treasury’s investment in banks via the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.  Not so fast.  Yes, a few banks repaid the government with interest.  As I noted at the time, their main motivation was probably to escape... 

How Greenspan Spins High Unemployment

Last Friday the Bureau of Labor Statistics released their September jobs Report.  The unemployment rate rose to 9.8%, up 0.1% from August and the U.S. economy shed 263,000 jobs for the month.  While these numbers were higher than expected, the general trend is well established.  Job losses are still... 

The G-20 Pittsburgh Summit

The G-20 heads of government and finance ministers met in Pittsburgh last week.  Officially named “The Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors,” the organization was established in 1999. According to their website the G-20’s purpose is “to bring together systematically... 

Banks Want Another Hidden Bailout

The New York Times reports that unnamed “senior regulators” are considering a plan to have healthy banks pay to bail out the sick ones.  I suspect this is a trial balloon – leaked to selected reporters so the administration can gauge reaction before actually doing anything. Read the... 

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