Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Something, Something, Something, Economy

Ah, "experts". All of the 2014 economic predictions are coming out by the same experts who got it all wrong last year. "Experts". You know what I think when I hear mainstream media refer to "experts"? These guys (36:00):

"We is experts".

The future of Canada doesn't really look anything like the future the supposed experts purport to believe in. They still act as though the books aren't cooked through and through, they still act like the "forward guidance" coming out of the central banks means something really really important and is completely normal.

I've mentioned before how Canada's and the U.S.'s "economic recoveries" in the post-peak oil era is sort of like a pendulum. When oil price is low (relatively speaking, that is) Canada has poor performance but the U.S. has stronger performance. The U.S.'s strong performance then puts pressure on the price of oil which drives up the price beyond that of typical affordability. The pendulum then swings to the other side, Canada sees stronger "performance" and the U.S. recovery "slows". The pressure on oil price relieves and we do it all over again.

While it sounds tolerable it's going to be short lived as the reality of inflation (devaluation) silently eats away (silently, because no authority will admit it actually exists) at disposable income. Take this story for instance:
"When I came here, I thought any sort of job will help me to reach my goal," she says. "But now I realize it’s not easy. I’m working so hard, and still I am working poor."

Fernando makes $10.25 an hour at the group homes, the minimum wage in Ontario. Her usual monthly take-home pay after taxes is between $1,100 and $1,300, she says. The family gets a small amount of extra money from Fernando’s father’s monthly disability cheque.

The money goes quickly: $850 a month goes toward rent on a subsidized apartment Fernando shares with her father and brother, who also can’t work because of his health, she says. She buys groceries when she can, but often uses a food bank to feed herself and her family, which costs her two transit tokens — and a few hours of waiting in line — a visit.
Fernando says she can’t afford to pay $133.75 at the start of the month for a bus pass, and struggles to find money for transit tokens to get her to and from work. “If I get off [the bus] coming from school to the grocery store, it’s an extra token, which is very significant,” she says. “A token is almost like gold to me.”
I really, really, despise the term working poor. Not the word, but the very meaning and more so the acceptance of it as "just a reality". Do you see where literally all of this woman's money goes? Housing, Food, Transport. That's it. Coincidentally the very items excluded from core inflation. So let me ask you, if that's all you can afford (after subsidies mind you) does it mean a whole lot to you when supposed experts sit on their high horse on TV and tell you that there's low inflation, and that really you should be paying more for items, when they then go and basically declare everything that sees rapid price increases which are simply not affordable on minimum wage as "don't really count" in the great economic game? Hmm.

Of course I've covered here how the very concept of "low inflation" is a lie not that dissimilar from the great labour shortage hoax of 2013 which the "experts" apparently forgot they were all claiming existed. No biggie. Just like the housing bubble doesn't exist even though "affordability" is clearly abysmal as proven by comparisons to other bullshit economic indicators that don't take reality into consideration either. Everything looks great by the stock market, unfortunately that too also appears to be "overvalued", woops.

What the governments and central banks mean by "low inflation" isn't really a direct reference to price inflation at all. It's a reference to the expansion of the currency supply of which price inflation is a symptom. Zero Hedge put out a great chart to visualize this "low inflation":

If you don't understand how modern currency works this chart probably won't make a whole lot of sense to you so you should go and view Mike Maloney's excellent presentation on how it does work before even bothering to continue. This chart looks at U.S. currency but Canada is in a very similar boat, perhaps worse so as our housing market is still on the pre-2008 high. It never did fully correct itself, and when it does it's going to be a lot worse than it should be. You can thank those who "navigated us through the economic crisis" by spewing easy credit into the economy and setting us up for exactly the type of crisis they claimed they were avoiding. I'm sure you know who they are.

So moving on, we now exist in an economic climate where affordability of housing is abysmal, government taxes (especially municipal) are going up many times the "official" inflation. Supposedly fixed "costs" are going up too.
OTTAWA — The families and single men and women who live in the military’s 12,000 housing units across Canada will be facing a rent hike on April 1.
The average increase across the 32 bases will be slightly more than two per cent. Some will pay more, some less.

But that’s only the tip of the military housing iceberg.
What irks many residents is the well-documented dilapidated state of the aging houses and the federal government’s freezing of a “post living differential allowance” at 2009 levels that former chief of defence staff Walter Natynczyk complained had created a “haves and have-nots” situation for forces members renting military housing.

The cost-of-living allowance, introduced in 2000 to compensate those posted to high-rent areas of the country, was frozen five years ago with the promise that it would be replaced by another compensation system. That has yet to happen.

Natynczyk ordered the “unfairness” to be addressed in 2011 and told the ombudsman last February that “while the matter remains a high priority for the Department, the program is still under review at the TBS” (Treasury Board Secretariat).
A Treasury Board spokesman said Friday that questions about the post living differential allowance should be asked of a DND spokesperson who had not responded in time for publication.
We're into the 6th year of "recovery". I mean does no one else question why if the government claims inflation is so low that when it comes to "their money" they act as though it's high? Why are margins shrinking if costs aren't going up? It doesn't make any sense! When it comes to inflation the government may as well be using the "Chewbacca Defense".

Chrysler CEO pressures Canadians on minivan investment
Jan 14 (Reuters) - The chief executive officer of Chrysler Group LLC, which has said it wants to invest more than $1 billion to modernize a Canadian minivan plant, said on Tuesday the automaker may scrap the upgrade and take production and jobs elsewhere if government and labor officials fail to come through with financial assistance and other incentives and concessions.

Speaking to reporters at the Detroit auto show, Sergio Marchionne said keeping production at the assembly plant across the river in Windsor, Ontario, was contingent on a deal to cut costs. He also said that time was running short to find a solution.

"We're at the point now where we're weeks away from making a final call."
More cost cutting. Cost cutting, cost cutting, cost cutting. That's all you hear about these days. Almost makes you forget this is a company that has setup factories to build cars hundreds of times over. But these days they just can't seem to manage it without offloading their cost either to the taxpayer through concessions or directly to the employees by paying them less. In either case the end result is that someone, somewhere has less money to spend, and as income becomes more of an uncertainty so does their confidence in their ability to pay back loans. Perhaps they won't be taking loans at all, or the bank will deem them too high risk to loan to. If you want to understand "low inflation", that's it right there in a nutshell.

But it gets worse. The pathetic job numbers are even worse than they appear.

Nearly 30% of retired Canadians returned to work to pay bills: ING survey

30 FUCKING PERCENT! Forget about baby boomers not passing the baton, it seems our economy is in such great shape and inflation so low that many retired people seem to have found it a little difficult to estimate how much currency they would need at retirement. Don't understand? Think back to 'the penny'.

Now, I know this post isn't exactly one of my best. I'm trying (perhaps unsuccessfully) to coherently paint you the picture of the future I have in my mind right now. One of the things I hate most about mainstream "experts" is that their analysis tends to be fairly simplistic where they pull stats out without providing context. I'm trying to provide that context here but its complex so if you need any clarity on what I'm trying to say please ask in the comments. I tend to be better at explaining what I mean when I'm answering a specific question anyway.

What I mean by context is easily demonstrated with the "unemployment" number which as everyone should know by now isn't quite accurate. The "labour participation" number is unofficially amongst those of us who actually remember the economy exists to provide *for* the people becoming the new unemployment rate. The experts rarely refer to that though. How many times have you heard an expert mention that some of these abysmal job numbers are accounted for by retired people having to re-enter the workforce?

This whole recovery is such a hoax, and it's really frustrating to see people fall for it. Even the government's very reasoning for wanting a low unemployment rate is now skewed, which is why they're perfectly willing to count anything no matter how shitty the pay, or whether it's keeping up to the inflation they deny exists, as a job. The government, in their debt parade, has committed the Canadian people to paying the debt. Ever wondered why your "social insurance number" is called a "social insurance number" (or in the U.S. social security number, same difference)? Exactly what is being insured?

Many people believe that "social insurance number" is referring to them. Their social insurance, perhaps in the form of welfare, or EI. But that's not the case, YOU are the social insurance it's talking about, on the government's debt. The social insurance number is the number assigned to you to pledge you as insurance or "a security" on future debt payments.

So, why are we pursuing and pushing the importance of jobs when the technology exists to literally replace 70% of all jobs completely with automation? Because machines don't pay taxes. People do, and we need those tax dollars to pay off the debt. In fact people not only pay the debt, but give the debt based currency it's value by backing it with a pledge to do future work (energy). Of course much of the work that will be done to pay the debt we borrow today will be done by people who aren't born yet and have no idea we are already pledging them into a life of servitude, sucks to be them! Am-I-Right?

Isn't it interesting that in an age where we can replace people with automation those who are replaced receive no benefit from their replacement? Is that not the whole point of technology? To ease the burden on us? Yet when a company relieves themselves of the burden of having to pay you your life isn't made any easier as a result. It's made increasingly harder while the employer gets all the benefit. The tech may be progressing but our economic models sure aren't, held in place by a 100 year old status-quo that doesn't want to go anywhere.

When it comes to the economy, and currency in general, we really need some new noise. Fortunately there is some but don't expect to get the real facts on it from the "experts".

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for CenturyLink

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

1 comment:

  1. I wish I can recall where I read it but I came across a fascinating article a few months back about the "age of machines" where labour would become largely redundant. What was most interesting was the discussion about how this era would necessitate new models of income and wealth distribution, failing which the automated production would be futile for want of consumers.

    BTW, Richard, in response to the comment you left for me this morning, I completely understand. As I write those posts I keep wondering why. Some times it seems to take the air from one's lungs.