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  • 20 Statistical Facts About The U.S. Economy

    1 - According to the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income in the United States has fallen 8% since 2007 when adjusted with official inflation numbers.

    (click to enlarge)2 - Since the great recession began in 2007, the U.S. economy has seen a net drop of over one million full-time jobs.

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    3 - In the same time period, the amount of part-time workers has increased by 54%.

    4 - More than 7 million part-time workers work part-time by force, not by choice. These are called "Involuntary part-time workers".

    5 - The jobs added during the "recovery" pay an average of 23% less than the jobs that were lost during the recession after adjusted for inflation.

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    6 - The official number of unemployed workers that have completely given up looking for work is twice as high now as it was when the great recession began in December 2007.

    7 - 17% of unemployed workers have been out of work for six months or longer in December 2007. That number has since doubled to 34%

    8 - 50% of all college graduates are still relying on their parents financially when they are two years out of school.

    9 - According to a new method of calculating poverty devised by the U.S. Census Bureau, the state of California currently has a poverty rate of 23.4 percent with a number of other states have a rate of 20% or over.

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    10 - The typical American household is worth 36% less in 2014 as it was in 2007.

    11- In 2007, the average household in the top 5 percent had 16.5 times as much wealth as the average household overall. But now the average household in the top 5 percent has 24 times as much wealth as the average household overall.

    12 - The rate of small-business ownership in the U.S. is the lowest in recorded history. Small-business owners cite over-taxation and over-regulation as the #1 cause for closing.

    13 - The sub-prime mortgage crisis is prone to be reoccur in the auto industry, where sub-prime loans now make up 31% of all auto loans - the same % as the sub-prime mortgage rate in 2007.

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    14 - The average cost of producing a barrel of shale oil in the United States is approximately 85 dollars. Now that the price of oil is starting to slip under that number, it costs more for us to produce a barrel than we can sell it for.

    15 - Due to the reduced purchasing power of the dollar, China has officially surpassed the purchasing power of the U.S. while other countries are quickly catching up.

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    16 - There are 49 million U.S. residents who can not afford to eat 3 meals a day 16.2 million of whom are children.

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    17 - There are six banks in the United States that pretty much everyone agrees fit into the "too big to fail" category. Five of them have more than 40 trillion dollars of exposure to risky derivatives without enough capital to cover that exposure - setting the stage for massive unprecedented bailouts in the event of an economic crash.

    18 - The 113 top earning employees at the Federal Reserve headquarters in Washington D.C. make an average of $246,506 a year. It turns out that ruining the U.S. economy is a very lucrative profession.

    19 - We are told that the federal deficit is under control, but the truth is that despite having no coverage from mainstream media, the U.S. national debt increased by more than 1.1 dollars during fiscal year 2014.

    20 - An astounding 40 million taxpayer dollars has been spent just on vacations for Barack Obama and his family. A record amount for any U.S. president. Perhaps he figures that if we are going down as a nation anyway, he might as well enjoy the ride.

    Does the "economic recovery" even exist?

    • The short answer to this question is: No. There has not been any real form of economic recovery for the vast majority of Americans. Most Americans are far worse off financially today than they were in 2007.

    With chances of a recovery shrinking as each day goes by, lets narrow down the fundamental reasons the U.S. economy continues to degrade. Reasons for the decline:

    1. Small business fuels economic growth but is shrinking at the fastest rate in recorded history. The decline of small-business is contributed to over-taxation and over-regulation by small-business owners. keynesian economists refuse to acknowledge this despite outcries from small business owners, exacerbating the problem.
    2. Monetary policy has been designed to artificially inflate the value of real-estate and financial markets financing this through a process known as inflation - an increase in the price of rent, education, healthcare, clothing, food, etc. This process has been accelerated by QE (quantitative easing) which allows the Federal Reserve to buy banks' worst assets at 100 cents on the dollar despite their market value. The end result of printing all this money to hand out to banks is higher prices on consumers. This is also known as a "Reverse Robin Hood" - stealing from the poor to give to the rich.
    3. The American public is being mislead to believe inflation is only at 2% and unemployment is only 6%. If you calculate inflation yourself, you will find that # closer to 10%. If you calculate unemployment yourself, you'll find it closer to 20%. Better yet, conduct your own survey in your neighborhood to get a more accurate assessment.
    4. Banks are being lent trillions of $$ at close to 0% interest, sometimes being paid just to borrow and pay back the principal. Bad assets are purchased by the Federal Reserve - resulting in a banking system where profits are privatized but losses are socialized - a very real threat to the survival of the nation. Just imagine you were paid to borrow money. You would simply return the principal and keep the interest paid to you. Sounds like a pretty good deal, aye?

    Possible Remedies To Spur A Real Recovery

    1. Raising interest rates. By raising interest rates, the value of the dollar increases relative to other currencies, increasing the purchasing power of the average person or family. The end result would be more purchasing power in the hands of those who acted economically responsible and saved their earnings.
    2. A fair tax system with lower rates for everyone. Be careful of being tricked into believing higher income tax rates effect the wealthy. The top 5% of income earners pay mostly Capital Gains tax and not income tax - allowing millionaires & billionaires like Mitt Romney or Warren Buffet to pay 1/3 of the % or less than someone making $35,000 a year. Eliminating loop holes should be more of a concern than raising the income tax rates.
    3. Eliminating unconstitutional taxes and regulations - For example, it is illegal to resell cigarettes you have bought without a government license. If something is your property, you should be allowed to sell it at your own will. Fixing toilets & working on small carpentry jobs also requires licensing. There are a million examples like this each one of which results in keeping the poorest Americans who can not afford to keep up with inflation and regulations out of work permanently.
    4. Ban lobbying and force congressional votes to only be made on bills written by elected legislators. If regulations are designed to protect consumers from abusive corporations, all businesses with minimal earnings (say under 1 million a year gross) should be completely exempt since they don't have enough market power to abuse consumers. The fact that large corporations write most regulations that are voted on is a enormous conflict of interest because they have the most incentive to harm small businesses in order to benefit their own corporations.
    5. Reducing the corporate tax rate. The U.S. currently has the highest corporate tax rate of any developed country in the world. Its no wonder businesses are desperate to ship jobs to countries with more competitive tax and regulatory systems.
    6. Eliminating the minimum wage completely. Economists as a whole agree that the lower the minimum wage, the more people the economy will employ. The minimum wage also prevents employers and employees from meaningful conversation and negotiation. If the minimum wage was raised to $15, economists agree that wouldn't result in all current minimum wage workers earning more. What they can agree on, however, is that raising the wage to $15 would completely eliminate jobs for low-skilled laborers whom do not produce over $15 an hour of value. A good example of this is the current trend of retailers installing self-checkout kiosks instead of hiring cashiers and customer service representatives.
    7. Most importantly, we need to be using common sense. The fact of the matter is, we'll never begin a meaningful economic recovery if we allow ourselves to constantly be lied to and manipulated by multi-national corporations, government and mainstream media. Speak up and don't be afraid of critics. The only idiot is one who argues with the facts above and believes what they are told by authority at face value without independent research.
    Oct 21 1:15 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Proprietary Trading Weekly Market Recap For Friday, October 10, 2014

    Proprietary Trading whipsawed throughout the week, trading in large choppy ranges, driving volatility up to 2014 highs. Price action would have likely been one way if not for the FOMC meeting minutes which showed that the Fed was concerned about global growth. The earning's season kicked off with Alcoa beating on both the top and bottom line, as investors await the next week's deluge of 3Q requests. For the week the S&P 500 index fell 3.14%.

    Crude oil prices were a catalyst for a lower energy sector, which was hammered as WTI crude oil dropped $5 per barrel. Prices are facing headwinds because of larger than expected supplies from the U.S. Bakken shale, and OPEC producing at its highest level in years. Demand has also been lower, as Europe and Asia continue to feel the effects of slower economic growth. The XLE Energy ETF was down nearly 4% for the week.

    In economic news, the U.S. trade price report revealed the expected September headline hit from falling petroleum import and food export prices, as seen in both July and August, while core trade prices fell 0.2% for exports and 0.1% for imports in September, after flat August readings, alongside 0.2% declines in import prices ex-oil and export prices ex-agriculture.

    FOMC Minutes for the meeting on September 16, 17 were more dovish than expected, and that were implied by the higher and steeper trajectory before the Fed considered raising interest rates. Views on the economy and policy were mixed, not surprising, but there seemed to be more agreement over risks to the overall outlook due to slowing global growth.

    Policymakers also noted the strong dollar could be a drag on exports, while also tempering inflation pressures. The Fed was also concerned about global growth with an emphasis on Europe, Japan and China. Meanwhile, there was considerable angst over policy communications, with fears that forward guidance was and could be misinterpreted.

    The global growth story is going to be an issue until Europe rights their ship. The ECB will need to come to the rescue, and the governments will also need to stimulate economies. The slowdown in German GDP in the second quarter of the year was largely put down to special effects, but no one really though Germany to slide back into recession, but recent data releases have made this apparently a real possibility. The Eurozone's largest economy might escape a technical recession this year, but growth is likely to slow down again in 2015.

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    Oct 20 11:53 AM | Link | Comment!
  • Proprietary Trading Weekly Market Recap For Friday, October 3, 2014

    Proprietary Trading Rebounds Following Strong Jobs Data

    Equity markets remained volatile this past week, as a mixed bag of number helped create choppy conditions. As the calendar turned to October 1, 2014, investors needed to absorb a plethora of economic data including ISM manufacturing and services, as well as, both private and public payroll data. While the ISM numbers, which are coincidental numbers, were weaker than expected the jobs data was robust. Despite a strong rebound on Friday, the S&P 500 index closed down 0.75% for the week.

    On Wednesday, the ISM released its manufacturing purchasing manager's index for September. The ISM fell to 56.6 compared to a median estimate of 58.1 from 59.0 in August. Last month's 59.0 headline set a new high back to July '04 and compares to last May's low since July 2009. The employment index fell to 54.6 from 58.1 last month. The production component grew to 64.6 from 64.5. The inventory component fell to 51.5 from 52.0 last month.

    On the employment front the ADP private payroll report came in at 213K jobs which was broadly in line with expectations, unemployment claims dropped, which bodes well for further gains. Initial jobless claims fell another 8k to 287k for the week-ended September 27. The 287k mark is the lowest reading since 281k in the BLS survey week of September. Continuing claims fell 45k to 2,398k for the weekended September 20.

    On Friday, the Labor Department released its non-farm payroll report. U.S. nonfarm payrolls increased 248k in September. August's 142k gain was revised up to 180k, while July's 212k was increased up to 243k, for a net +69k. The unemployment rate dropped to 5.9% from 6.1%. However, that was due to a 97k decline in the labor force after falling 64k previously, while household employment climbed 232k versus a 16k August gain.

    Private payrolls surged 236k, with the goods producing sector adding 29k, while construction jobs increased 14k, and manufacturing employment edged up 4k. The service sector added 207k jobs. Government employment rose 12k, with a 2k decline on the Federal side. Average hourly earnings were unchanged after a 0.3% gain in August. The workweek rose to 34.6k versus 34.5 previously.

    Technically the equity markets are not out of the woods. The S&P 500 index needs to recapture the 50-day moving average, while the Russell has formed a head and shoulder reversal pattern. Momentum is negative on all major indices, as the MACD (moving average convergence divergence) index hits its lowest level in the past 6-months.

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    Oct 20 11:18 AM | Link | Comment!
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