Thursday, September 21, 2017

S+P cuts China's credit rating.

Showing understanding that the structure of the global economy is nothing more than a debt Ponzi, S+P credit rating service today cut China's credit rating for the first time since 1999 by one step down to A+ from AA-.   In their accompanying statement, S+P wrote, “China’s prolonged period of strong credit growth has increased its economic and financial risks,” S&P said. “Although this credit growth had contributed to strong real gross domestic product growth and higher asset prices, we believe it has also diminished financial stability to some extent.

In writing this commentary S+P admits that debt fueled growth is not a long term strategy.  Using debt in order to grow today only means that tomorrow the growth is going to be less than what it should have been because tomorrow's labor will have to fund its own daily consumption along with the work needed to grow tomorrow AND the interest cost of debt payments used to fund yesteryear's growth.  There is no bottomless pit of labor, it is all finite.  If the labor was strong enough to grow like this without the use of debt then no debt would have been taken on.  But China's massive debt is hidden from view and eventually it will blow up in grand fashion.

S+P 500 credit rating service is telling us we should be edging for the door.

Robert Shiller says the only thing between us and a 1929 like stock market collapse is animal spirits.

Robert Shiller is sounding an increasingly bearish tone with interviews like this one where he points out that his Shiller CAPE indicator shows that the markets are about as overpriced today as they were in 1929 just before they collapsed not 80% as he says but 89% to be exact.  Schiller stops short of saying the words "animal spirits" but his implication is pretty clear: the herd is stampeding mindlessly upward despite the fact that prices are bubblicious.  The reason he's not ranting up and down about "imminent crash" like Harry Dent is because Shiller knows that bubbles can last a lot longer than people might imagine because the fundamentals / logic don't matter to people when they are winning at gambling.

At the same time, each time someone of note comes out saying the stock market is a bubble, the media reprints the recent words of Warren Buffet who says those who are negative about the US economy are "out of their minds".  Buffett must really believe what he is saying because he just became Bank of America's top shareholder.  I for one think he is insane to buy a weakling bank like B of A this late in a bull market, especially when the shares are still very far from their 2006 highs.

It has been a long standing theme of mine that big financial names like Buffett that were made during the rise of liberal financing will fail to see the end days of the economic Ponzi that they helped to create and when it all implodes their names will be dragged through the mud.  Many of my seemingly outlandish predictions, like Hillary losing the elections and many other things have come true.  Bankrupt of America inc. is likely within $5 of a major peak that Buffett doesn't see coming IMO. Will BAC be Buffett's Waterloo?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Barbudan grasshpper begs for help from strangers

What I'm about to write will sound hard-hearted to some who are still living in liberal land but I urge you to step back and consider the logic and the economic truth of what I will write here today.

I want to discuss the Caribbean island of Barbuda (no, not Bermuda, that is a different island) which was recently razed by hurricane Irma.  Barbuda is part of the sovereign commonwealth nation of Antigua and Barbuda.  An estimated 95 % of its structures were destroyed along with all of its power/water/food distribution infrastructure.  Pictures on the web show that this is not an exaggeration; the damage was nearly total.  I do not mock this truth or the sorrow that accompanies it.

So that you can get your bearings, the tiny island "nation" (cough cough) of Antigua and Barbuda is circled in the picture below.  To the west of it is Puerto Rico (PR) and then Haiti/Dominican Republic and then Cuba (C) and then Florida (F) and the Bahamas.

What I want to discuss today is this USA Today article which quotes Antigua and Barbuda's ambassador to the USA, Ronald Sanders as saying, "The situation is unacceptable, and it’s costly... Barbuda’s not going to be rebuilt in a hurry, and when we do rebuild it, we’re going to have to rebuild to massive hurricane standards. This is going to take a while. There is no electricity there, there is no potable water anymore, there is no structure in which people can survive. We have a mammoth task on our hands.”

Sanders says the world must step up and help Barbuda.

“We are a small island community — the gross domestic product of Antigua is $1 billion a year,” he says. “We cannot afford to take on this responsibility by ourselves. Barbuda is not just a disaster, it’s a humanitarian crisis. We are hopeful that the international community will come to our aid, not because we’re begging for something we want, but because we’re begging for something that is needed.
The yellow highlight above is mine.

OK so let's step back now and review the facts here:
  • Antigua and Barbuda are tropical paradise islands but without much in the way of industry, probably other than tourism.
  • The island "nation" sits in the middle of a traditional hurricane hotspot/hurricane alley.
  • The islands are very low to the water and susceptible to storm surge.
  • The homes that were destroyed were for the most part traditional stick built.  This is clear from the pictures because you can see lumber and roofing material strewn around the area.
  • All 1800 residents have been relocated and are safe.  We are past the rescue mission phase here.
  • The ambassador admits that they cannot afford to rebuild. 
Those are the indisputable facts of the matter.  Now let's do some analysis:
  • I am a person just like the good people of Antigua and Barbuda.  I LOVE the Caribbean tropics.  I love the boating, fishing, diving, snorkeling.  I love eating the fresh fish and lobsters.  I love the multicolored waters from royal blue out in the deep to bright turquoise in the shallows.  It is really a fantastic sensory show.  I have been to the Caribbean many times.

  • If I could live in the Caribbean right now then I would be doing it.  After all, I'm not going to live forever.  Each minute I am not there is one minute less I will have to spend there later.  In fact I already purchased some canal front land there and am now in the process of putting in a concrete dock for the boat and in time a small retirement home.  But building properly over there requires putting in a storm proof concrete bunker such as the AI dome home shown below.  Like the home shown in the picture, a correct home in the Caribbean also needs to be up on stilts.  I will not move there until I have worked and saved enough for me to build/consume the proper dwelling for that geographical area.  I won't move there until I have a concrete bunker up on stilts.

  • No concrete dome has ever blown over in any storm ever so its pretty clear that Barbudans did not build the correct home for their geo area.  And why should they?  Government has its own hurricane standards so all the residents had to do was throw down shitty stick built homes to meet these standards.  Stick build homes painted in tropical pastels are what these folks like, what they are used to.  It is their comfort zone.  Additionally, stick build homes placed directly on the ground are cheaper than concrete domes on stilts.  A LOT cheaper.  So Barbudans got to live a very nice lifestyle before they actually earned it.  At least for a time.  But history now shows that what they did was a gamble and with all bets comes the potential to lose.  Barbudans gambled on putting down cheap houses and they eventually lost the bet.  A fair analysis, harsh as it might seem, shows that they were foolish and short sighted.  They wanted something for below the cost of a sustainable shelter in hurricane alley.  Now their homes are wiped out.  So what they got was a temporary lifestyle for their money and now all of it is gone.  It's sad and regrettable but it's nobody's responsibility but their own.
  • USA today shows the ambassador there "begging" for help to rebuild.  Now keep something in mind: the people of Barbuda were evacuated and are safe.  If they were trapped under rubble then YES the world should go dig them out and save their lives if possible.  So this "humanitarian crisis" isn't about saving lives, it's about saving lifestyles!  Is the Barbudan "humanitarian crisis" really any different than my own personal crisis of having to live in Austin until I have saved enough money to live in the Caribbean properly?  After all, I have to burn up valuable years of my own precious life living some place I would rather not be in order to save to pay for a lifestyle that won't blow away in strong wind.  Should the world not bail me out of this crisis???!!!  The ambassador says Barbudans can't pay for their lifestyle and thus begs others to ensure their tropical fun is restored (with even stronger yet still ultimately useless stick build government standards that will cost even more to implement).
  • He has spun the truth which is that Barbudans were foolish, stupid or lazy resulting in their current situation.  And because of that he would like me to draw money away from building my own retirement home in the tropics so that they can have their old lifestyles back.  Perhaps they should instead come to work in some boring US city instead until they can afford to build storm proof dwellings.
Perhaps their ambassador thinks that Barbudans are better or more deserving than I am and thus should have better/nicer/easier life at my expense?  I for my part strongly disagree.  You must earn something if you want to consume it!  Barbudans did not earn enough before they built their obviously NOT storm proof homes.  And worse yet, I predict that few if any will do anything different the next time around. They will want their idyllic little pink houses instead of their concrete bunkers.  Pardon me if I'm not going to prioritize this.
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