As The Money Tree Grows

From Russia Today (RT) is this bit:

Nevertheless, optimism isn’t universal when it comes to what ending QE3 means for the world economy.

“Well there are some improvements, but we can’t say that it is recovering as everyone hoped,” Nour Eldeen Al-Hammoury, a chief market strategist at ADS securities in Abu Dhabi, told Euro News recently. “GDP is growing based on the inventories, which doesn’t mean that sales are increasing. The slack in the economy remains and so far there is no clear strategy on how this slack will be resolved. Moreover, the slowing down in Europe and Asia will be something to consider as the US economy is unlikely to grow on its own.”

So we’ve got inventory build, but not a lot of sell through… Hmmmm….

They then give an interesting ’round robin’ of other folks. Yes, it’s RT. Yes, they have an agenda so will be picking quotes. But still, not an enthusiastic set of folks:

Even in the west, that pessimism is present: Pedro Nicolaci da Costa wrote for The Wall Street Journal this week that the Fed may deploy another round of quantitative easing if the decision to end the third series proved to be unsuccessful, which, according to his report, may be the case.

“Many of the studies of large-scale asset purchases, known as quantitative easing or QE, agree they worked very well to prevent deflation and stabilize the financial system during the 2008 crisis, but disagree about how effective the programs have been in boosting growth since then,” da Costa wrote.

Although Bernanke has attributed QE with cutting unemployment, da Costa wrote, Fed researchers and academic economists have for years studied the practice and are split with regards to how successful the rounds have been, and what the eventual outcome will be when all is said and done.

“I do think they’re overly optimistic,” Barbara J. Cummings of the Boston Private Bank & Trust Company told CNBC this week. “The market and the Fed are definitely saying two different things. And the market is right. It usually is.”

To some, the outcome is even drearier. “Without another dose of stimulus, the US will likely slide into recession,” Worth Wray, chief strategist at Mauldin Economics, predicted to Equities earlier this month.

So The Fed is trying to just stop buying MORE “assets” (continuing to roll over the existing $Trillions as they mature) and it might or might not work. Then the growth in the economy is to some significant extent in building inventory, not all sell through. This after 6 years of “recovery” and $Trillions of “stimulus”. With food and fuel (and hotel rooms and…) prices up significantly per my purchase history, While pay is not and while jobs are still dear. Sure sounds like stagflation to me…

How does the money velocity / supply picture look? ( A discussion of VM = PQ was in comments on the prior thread here: remember that it is something of a descriptive tautology. Velocity x Money supply = Prices x Quantity. )

Velocity Of Money 2014

Velocity Of Money 2014

And how much money?

Mbase is a new money 'base' measure including M2 and bank holdings

Mbase is a new money ‘base’ measure including M2 and bank holdings

M2 is stuff like currency and checking deposits. The Fed used to report M3 (that included some longer term holdings in banks) but stopped. Similarly they used to report something called BOGUMBNS that was a very broad bucket full of all sorts of bank and similar holdings. Now that is replaced by Mbase that is similar, but different… For more, see that have nice graphs too. Mbase includes the stuff the banks are sitting upon in their vaults and at The Fed.

Now notice that the Velocity line looks much flattened. It is still the same line, just scaled so that it is on the Mbase scale. Gives a bit of clue how much The Fed et. al. have monetized things sitting in their vaults. But is it ONLY The Fed? How have money supplies been growing in other parts of the world?

M2 in the UK, EU, USA and Japan

M2 in the UK, EU, USA and Japan

Hmmm…. Looks like all the major economies of the “western world” are pumping money supply in parallel. (and in the wiki on Money Base you can see the EURO money base rising about like the US$ one, so they, too, are doing a TARP of some sort…) You folks smug in your UK Pound have the same problem, per this graph. But the one I find interesting is Japan. Notice that in about 1980 – 1990 they were slow parabolic. Then tried to stop it, and transitioned into a long nearly linear ramp (with a slight rise at the end). Japan had a deflation interval about then, and avoided a collapse, but has never quite ever recovered “good times” since. IMHO, they are the model we are all trying to follow now. This argues that “good times” are on hold as we accept “tolerable” for a generation. But that is just a guess on my part.

What about those ‘special’ places like China and Russia? Lets add them:

M2 Brazil Russia China EU USA Japan

M2 Brazil Russia China EU USA Japan

Now some extra expansion of M2 is reasonable when an economy is rapidly expanding. As the Q of stuff sold goes way high, to keep P stable, either V has to rise a lot, or M can increase to match. But look at those curves and tell me that Russia is not printing like crazy and Brazil too. We are in a world that is awash in paper money, and it is still not “stimulating” enough. IMHO due to policy actions that throttle real productivity (and China poaching what growth is happening via Mercantilist Policy).

At present, metals (gold, silver) are still in a funk too. No joy holding them.

So what does all this mean? What is going to happen? At this point I don’t have much of an opinion. I’m still in the “problem admiration” phase. But I’d speculate that the Japanese model is the “goal” (that is, semi-stagnant and ‘good enough’ but not ‘good times’) and the reality will not be as clean. Especially in the Euro Land area. (Too many social / cultural stresses and divergences). Also job recovery is dismal:

Europe Unemployment vs USA

Europe Unemployment vs USA

Hard to find anything that makes the USA unemployment data look good, but in comparison to the EU, we look great. Never mind that folks with Honors Degrees are getting jobs serving coffee… (someone I know) and that others are taking significant pay reductions or part time jobs. At least we have some kind of job growth. But that is not the stuff of grand recoveries nor of ‘good times’. But the EU data just look dismal.

In Conclusion

IMHO we had a huge asset bubble (due to policy shoving tons of money, literally tons of it, at housing; and the follow on of ‘creative financing’) that the globe has been trying to monetize ever since. All in an attempt to hide the stupidity of a policy that forced lenders to lend for homes to folks with no ability to repay and in districts that were a poor investment. That collapsed, and we’ve been trying to prevent the recognition of the reality (over building of assets in the wrong places owned by the wrong people at the wrong prices) ever since. This will take a generation to diffuse (as the mortgages run for 30 years…) and during that time, we have stagnation.

Banks (especially Central Banks) are attempting to monetize all that crap, and putting those $Trillions (or € Trillions) on their balance sheets as ‘assets’. Eventually this will spread that ‘value’ into the entire economy as price inflation. But since none of this produces actual productivity growth or real goods production, we have M rising, Q stagnant, and V plunging. Prices will wobble upward as the difference between M and V rates of change. We can only hope that a lot of Mbase doesn’t matter as long as M2 is kept lower… “But hope is not a strategy. -E.M.Smith”…

That it is global, and that the BRICS are in the pickle too, does not bode well at all. It also implies that doing ‘currency compares’ across those currencies will make everything look fine, as they move together. We need a different ‘rubber ruler’ to measure them against. That metals have dropped implies that we don’t have enough economic activity to make those assets interesting (and inflation fears are offset by bad times…) and they, too, are not a good ruler of value. Sigh.

OK, time for work. So I’ll ponder all this a while and try to find a reasonable way to measure the value of all those piles of paper and metals. It is clear that the formal government measures and currencies are not fit for that purpose. In the mean time, if the present high snow levels and cold oceans are decent predictors, it is going to be a long cold winter with rising food and fuel prices. Layering onto that “necessarily skyrocketing” electricity prices (via government policy) is not going to be a good idea. Squandering what productive capacity we have on building boondoggles (like wind parks) is just going to make the problem worse. (REAL productive capacity needs to grow, not ‘feel good / works bad’ government projects and subsidies).

The only solace I can take in this (so far) is that the folks raking in buckets of currency / subsidy / ‘assets’ are getting loads of ‘funny money’ rapidly headed to low value and loads of ‘assets’ that are anything but. Unfortunately, the rest of us are not even getting that.

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Posted in Economics, Trading, and Money, World Economics | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Put Russel L. Honoré in charge now, please!

I’ve shifted over to a mix of “cable” that is really DISH TV via Sat to some kind of local distribution… and “WiFi” to the computer… I’ve also shifted to “commercial arbitrage” where whichever is shoving its commercial tongue down my throat is on mute and I’m looking at the other screen…. but I digress…

The “bottom line” is that I was watching FOX TV and at the same time wandering through FOX online (purely an accidental alignment… I’m setting up for BBC, Russia Today, and Al Jazeera among others… just at the moment it was FOX I was looking at…) and hit this clip:

What can I say? The man is honorable, knows how to handle “bad shit”, and HE needs to be in charge, not some political hack as Obama has selected.

I guess I’m just “People on da Street”… and proud of it…

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Posted in Political Current Events | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

It’s a bit cold in the North Oceans

Sea Surface Temp Anomalies from 15 Oct 2014

Sea Surface Temp Anomalies from 15 Oct 2014

Now that was the 15th of October. Here is the 28th, just a couple of weeks later:

Sea Surface Temp Anomalies 28 Oct 2014

Sea Surface Temp Anomalies 28 Oct 2014

It was already cold. Now it is getting way colder way fast. The only warm spots are some coastal areas around the mid latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere.

I think we are starting to see what happens when the Sun takes a nap, and UV drops by double digit percentages.

Coupled with the reports of early snows and cold / crop failures, it looks like Global Warming Has Left The Building…

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The Present EU Economic Problem (and the Incipient USA One)

This started as a long comment at WUWT. I’ve decided to put it here as a bit of a rant / macro-econ note. From down in the comments on:

The Euro Zone is on the edge of a drop into deflation. “Why?” escapes them. Deflation is where the value of a currency rises, instead of falls, as it does in inflation. Now why is that? The news would lead you to believe it is due to the unwillingness of the Central Bank to print enough money and those nasty Austere Germans. But what causes deflation?

Folks not willing to spend. Lack of demand.

Now what might cause a lack of demand? That seems lost on the 1%. They have never heard of having a fixed amount of money to spend. The rest of us, though, know that we are spending all we have (and in many cases spent more than we had, and are still tapped out). “We” are not ‘buying more’ for the simple reason that we can not. No money. Not going to happen. Too many unemployed and too many only buying what they must and still being a bit short when the ’30s’ roll around… and sometimes even when the month is just a 28…

So having electricity ‘skyrocket’ and forcing folks to ‘decarbonize’ by taking more (paid / costly) transit and buying yet more expensive electricity (to replace the wood or coal or gas stove) just means there is that much LESS left over to buy, oh, I don’t know, maybe cars and shoes and bread… that causes demand to drop…

It will not matter if the ECB prints a few Billion more Euros and gives them to folks who own local banks to loan to folks who don’t need a loan and folks who own car dealers and shoe stores. Unless those Euros end up in the hands of folks who need to spend them, they do NOT stimulate demand. You just end up in what is euphemistically called “Stagflation”. The economy is still stagnant, but with a currency surplus causing money value to shrink. Sure, it isn’t deflation; but it is still broken.

That is the logical box the EU is in (and the USA is rapidly approaching). They have pushed the Keynesian Money Supply lever to the wall. And, thanks to all their OTHER policies, have not gotten any growth juice out of it. Now, puzzled, they wonder “Why?”. Perhaps because things like “necessarily skyrocketing” electricity prices move shoe makers to China and because out of work coal miners can’t buy new shoes anyway. At any price.

See, the basic problem is that there is only so much net improvement in total productivity per year (about 3% in good times with great progress, 1% in times of less R&D and improvement). That’s the total “extra take” available to The Power Elite. Period. Full Stop. But they want more than that (and the simple fact is that those ‘at the top’ have the position to get more than that). This works for a while, until those at the bottom are just too tapped out. But TPTB are none too bright about it, and figure if they got 6% last year, they can get it next year. Reality of a 3% max economic growth rate be damned. So they start to flail around for levers of power to move to “fix it”. ONE of them just MUST work!

But they can’t change reality. Postpone it for a year or three, sure… but
“Reality just is. -E.M.Smith” and that reality comes home to roost.

Now Keynesian Policy has great attraction here. Just print up some money and that makes it all better. But just like real heroin, this monetary ‘feel good’ only works for a while; then you need more of it. IFF you used that bit of time for real productivity improvements, you can start a beneficial cycle of virtue that gets real growth going and you can start back up that 3% / year improvement line.

HOWEVER: If you use that “stimulus” so that your friends and cronies get the money and benefit, and it does not go into real productivity improvements; you just wasted about 3 years and all the “juice” that was available from temporarily increasing the velocity of money. But, you see, here’s the hard part: It is NOT easy to identify things that are real productivity improvements. Whole industries try to do this. Some go out of business entirely in the process. At the end of the year (or decade) about 3% is the BEST you can average. Suck that up in hair brained stupidity like windmills, Solindra and Carbon Credits and you end up with net economic shrink, not growth.

Then more of that Keynesian Stimulus just gets you nothing (trending into deflation if low) or stagflation (if large). Since there is NO real increase in goods, services, and “stuff”, there just isn’t any more to share around between all the well connected and Friends Of Da Boss. Any that ends up there had to come from “the little guys” who just have to suck it up and buy less stuff. That, then, results in demand slide and eventually in that deflation / stagflation axis as the productivity trap bites.

FWIW, I think even Keynes knew this. He stated that such ‘stimulus’ could only work in the short term and that in good times money supply had to be shrunk back. Nobody in power pays attention to that part of his work…

At any rate, what must happen in the EU if they follow these productivity reducing policies is a net reduction in production, net reduction in buying power, and net reduction in demand. The only economic choice then is horrific StagFlation, or with anything like a sane stable money supply, Deflation. Either one really really sucks. Essentially the Keynesian Fix has worn off and the junkie can’t get enough to feel high again. It’s either withdrawl symptoms or pay a lot for enough dope to feel a bit better, but still be kind of strung out and getting sicker with each shot. (There’s a well developed Economic theory on this with lots of complicated names and all… but the idea is really that simple and giving it funny names of old Economists doesn’t make it clearer…)

So while TPTB slowly figure out they have all the chips and the other guys can’t cough up any more, the EU will stagnate at best and economically decay most likely. These climate polices can only make it far worse.

Also, FWIW, once things are bad enough, the usual outcome is some kind of war, strife, and social collapse. One hopes that Europe can avoid that this time. (Though the history of European wars makes that doubtful). There’s a reason Economics is called “The Dismal Science”…

BTW, don’t expect your leaders nor your neighbors to choose the path that works. It is uncomfortable and requires discipline. Taking more drugs until you hit bottom is the only path that sells… Just ask The Bernank…


A link on South Africa discovering the Stagflation Trap:

Zerohedge on the EU:

The Economist on EU incipient Deflation:

Note that they prescribe, no, demand! that the Keynesian Fix be applied in even stronger dose and blame the Good Germans for too much Austerity… Yes, that will prevent Deflation, but cause Stagflation (until such time as liberty and lower taxes lets small industry grow and the Little Guy get a bit of money ahead and buy something… but central banks can’t just print up a bit of economic freedom and lower taxes…)

The world’s biggest economic problem

Deflation in the euro zone is all too close and extremely dangerous

THE world economy is not in good shape. The news from America and Britain has been reasonably positive, but Japan’s economy is struggling and China’s growth is now slower than at any time since 2009. Unpredictable dangers abound, particularly from the Ebola epidemic, which has killed thousands in West Africa and jangled nerves far beyond. But the biggest economic threat, by far, comes from continental Europe.

Now that German growth has stumbled, the euro area is on the verge of tipping into its third recession in six years. Its leaders have squandered two years of respite, granted by the pledge of Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank’s president, to do “whatever it takes” to save the single currency. The French and the Italians have dodged structural reforms, while the Germans have insisted on too much austerity. Prices are falling in eight European countries. The zone’s overall inflation rate has slipped to 0.3% and may well go into outright decline next year. A region that makes up almost a fifth of world output is marching towards stagnation and deflation.

Optimists, both inside and outside Europe, often cite the example of Japan. It fell into deflation in the late-1990s, with unpleasant but not apocalyptic consequences for both itself and the world economy. But the euro zone poses far greater risks. Unlike Japan, the euro zone is not an isolated case: from China to America inflation is worryingly low, and slipping. And, unlike Japan, which has a homogenous, stoic society, the euro area cannot hang together through years of economic sclerosis and falling prices. As debt burdens soar from Italy to Greece, investors will take fright, populist politicians will gain ground, and—sooner rather than later—the euro will collapse.

This parrot has ceased to be

Although many Europeans, especially the Germans, have been brought up to fear inflation, deflation can be still more savage (see article). If people and firms expect prices to fall, they stop spending, and as demand sinks, loan defaults rise. That was what happened in the Great Depression, with especially dire consequences in Germany in the early 1930s.

They, of course, lay the blame on ‘expectations’, but ignore simple “no money in the pocket” reality that drives down demand. How do I know that’s what it is? As I’ve watched my cost of chicken rise from $0.89 / lb to $1.39 / lb and my cost of gasoline go from $2.70 / gallon to $4 / gallon and my income go down / hour; well, I’ve had to “buy less stuff”. My expectations of future prices be damned. (Lately gasoline has dropped back a bit, but is still high). Now I make more than the average guy. So as I am feeling it, they certainly are. Once you have over 75% of folks in this basket (my guess on where I rank), well, it’s a pretty large basket.

Sidebar On Marx: Some of you may notice a bit of Marxist Dogma that is similar to this (but dressed up in a lot more wordy language). Yes, Marx did talk about this behaviour; but in far more limited scope and without the benefit of knowing Keynesian Economics. He also had a lot of other bits quite wrong. So I’d rather avoid a digression into Marx and the economic disparity issues. He saw this problem, but came up with entirely wrong ‘solutions’.

In Conclusion:

So we’ve got the world in a bit of a pickle.

Mostly due to the West being all Keynesian Stimulus as their only ‘fix’ while enacting policies that assure it will fail into either stagflation or deflation.

Somewhat due to China being given free run to raid our economic systems with Mercantilist Policies.

Some from squandering a load of wealth on capricious wars (net destructive, not productive) and a moderate amount from pushing “Green Polices” far past where they were net benefits to the world and into the land of strong negative economic forces.

You can’t suck 10% out of the economy and ‘fix it’ with Keynesian Stimulus. You have at most 3% to work with. Then it’s off to stagflation / deflation land. But since the whole thing is dirt slow and takes a decade to get bad, and the Keynesian Drug makes you feel better for a couple of years; well, it can take 20 years to be fully broken, and then 30 to get back out. Most folks can’t wait that long. So “watch your back”, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride…

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Why Warm WAP One Wonders…

Sometimes it’s just the way you look at things that gives a better understanding. Simply shifting Point Of View is sometimes enough. At other times, a full motion animation can make things clear over time.

Nullschool is a computer simulation (but claims to be based on actual collected data). I’ve not taken the time to sort out which bit is simulation (model) and which bits are data based. I’m mostly presuming they start from actual data now and in the past, then run it forward. FWIW, comparison of snapshots with other data maps (Sea Surface Temp, Wind, clouds, storms) seems to show a decent match).

So I was looking at another article on Antarctic Melting…

that once again pointed out that it is only the West Antarctic Peninsula that is warming up a bit (if you can call frozen ‘warming’…) and not all of Antarctica. They mention the usual reasons that are put forward as “possibles”. Perhaps it is volcanoes under the ice. Perhaps it is the latitude. Perhaps.

I’m going to offer another “possible”. Perhaps it is the wind, and where it comes from. Looking at Nullschool, it looks to me like the WAP is being warmed by a nice Pacific breeze. Warm air entering on that side, frozen air exiting the other side of Antarctica. First off, the link to Nullschool:,-55.68,230

At the moment, I’ve clicked on a spot on it, just ‘up wind’ of the WAP, that is showing 4.9 C with winds headed straight at the WAP. Somehow I think that matters. Here’s a screen capture I just did (that’s a bit funky to do on the Chromebox):

Nullschool temps and winds at South Pole WAP

Nullschool temps and winds at South Pole WAP

There’s a little marker circle where I clicked in the approach winds. The text in the lower left shows the lat long and temp. 4.9 C. A little harder to see is a similar warm wind headed south from near South Africa. That air gets entrained into the slighter further south wind going the other direction toward the WAP. Looking at the wind flow lines, you can see that the warm source air flows over the WAP, and that the very cold frigid air from the central continent vortex tends to exit from the continent on the far side. It does vary some with which side has the daylight, but generally the flow is off the continent on the parts away from the WAP. (In what I’ve observed so far).

This is surface winds from 20 October 2014 at 10:50 AM Eastern USA time.

South Polar winds 20 October 2014 at 10:50 AM ET

South Polar winds 20 October 2014 at 10:50 AM ET

While it does not show the temperature gradients of the prior picture, the wind patters stand out a bit more. Notice that the generally circumpolar wind tends to ‘swing out’ over Chile / Argentina and then back toward the WAP? The South Polar vortex stands out better too, and you can see the flow lines away from it covering more of the area toward the bottom of the image.

South Pole temp near ice shelf edge  22Oct2014

South Pole temp near ice shelf edge 22Oct2014

Here I’ve marked a spot out near the edge of the ice shelf. It is all of -12.5 C and is about the same latitude as the WAP. Well, really further from the pole than the WAP… but the point is that it is much colder here than in that relatively warm wind off of the ocean near Patagonia. So how cold is it in the center of the continent?

South Pole temperature 22Oct2014

South Pole temperature 22Oct2014

Yeah, that -50.8 C is cold… While they show up better in the animated version, you can still see the flow lines of very cold air both ‘up’ and ‘down’ in this image.

I have other images, with other temperature captures and at other heights. They generally show warm air flowing inward and cooling until they hit the vortex, then head down. Eventually, at the surface, the cold is forced back out again, freezing things along the way. Except that outflow is not able to overcome the wind inbound from the Pacific over the WAP. (This might change at other seasons. I intend to ‘check in’ on this over the next year to see if any seasonal patterns / changes happen. For now, it is only ‘what it does right now’.)

The key take away for me is that -50 C and -12 C are simply NOT “melting”. Most of Antarctica is astoundingly cold, having just recorded ‘record ever’ frozen cold and ice extent. The only place less than Oh My God Cold, is the WAP, and that is getting a wind off the Pacific (that despite starting out at about 8 C at the peak of the ‘loop’, drops rapidly to 4 C on the approach, and is down to -0.6 C as it approaches the tip of the WAP. At the root of the WAP, it is down to -15 C, and the further inland you go, the colder it gets. That’s a range of 25 C from origin of the air to the end of the WAP. That is one heck of a lot of heat being dumped.

IMHO, their is NO warming in Antarctica. There is a lot of cooling. There is a very small part of the WAP that is not as cold as the rest of Antarctica, but that is just due to a large flow of warmer ocean air being cooled to freezing as it passes. Again, not warming, cooling that air.


In the discussion below reference is made to the Mean Sea Level Pressure graphs. I’ve added three of them here. South Pole 1000 mb (as discussed) and a matched set of 700 mb for both N and S poles as I think they show the wind structure a bit better.

First, the 1000 mb South Pole:

South Pole, 1000 mb w/MSLP 27 Oct 2014 at 10:56 am ET

South Pole, 1000 mb w/MSLP 27 Oct 2014 at 10:56 am ET

Then the 700 mb South Pole followed by the 700 mb North Pole:

South Pole 700 mb MSLP 27 Oct 2014 11:15 am ET

South Pole 700 mb MSLP 27 Oct 2014 11:15 am ET

North Pole 700 mb MSLP 27 Oct 2014 11:13 am

North Pole 700 mb MSLP 27 Oct 2014 11:13 am

Overall, the North Pole is a bit less extreme in the pressure differential, but it is still there even though much of it shows as a lighter shade of yellow with purple spots in it, instead of a clear band of purple with brownish spots. Maybe displaced a bit toward the N. America side (and less circular) due to the land mass vs water distribution. Same effect though.

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Posted in AGW Science and Background, Earth Sciences | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments