The US Suffered 15 Billion-Dollar-Plus Weather Disasters In 2017

In the year that President Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris accord and downplayed global warming as a security threat, the US received a harsh reminder of the perils of the rise in the planet’s temperature: a destructive rash of hurricanes, fires and floods.
According to Bloomberg, the US recorded 15 weather events costing $1 billion or more each through early October, one short of the record 16 in 2011, according to the federal government’s National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina. And that tally doesn’t include the recent wildfires in southern California, one of which grew to be the largest fire in state history, according to Bloomberg.
Among the most devastating events were hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and wildfires in northern California. The killer storms caused economic losses of more than $210 billion in the U. S. and across the Caribbean, and about $100 billion in insured damages, according to Mark Bove, a senior research scientist with Munich Reinsurance America in Princeton, New Jersey.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sat, 12/30/2017 –.

Jihadist Group Blows Up Oil Pipeline In Iran, In Midst Of Protests

In the year that President Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris accord and downplayed global warming as a security threat, the US received a harsh reminder of the perils of the rise in the planet’s temperature: a destructive rash of hurricanes, fires and floods.
According to Bloomberg, the US recorded 15 weather events costing $1 billion or more each through early October, one short of the record 16 in 2011, according to the federal government’s National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina. And that tally doesn’t include the recent wildfires in southern California, one of which grew to be the largest fire in state history, according to Bloomberg.
Among the most devastating events were hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and wildfires in northern California. The killer storms caused economic losses of more than $210 billion in the U. S. and across the Caribbean, and about $100 billion in insured damages, according to Mark Bove, a senior research scientist with Munich Reinsurance America in Princeton, New Jersey.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sat, 12/30/2017 –.

Goldman Showers Execs With $100 Million In Early Bonuses To Avoid Trump Tax Hit

Goldman Sachs has accelerated nearly $100 million in stock awards to top executives before the end of the year in order to avoid unfavorable changes in the new tax code, according to public filings posted Friday.
The most sweeping overhaul of U. S. tax code in 30 years includes a provision which caps a corporate deduction for executive pay; under current law, corporations can deduct up to $1 million per executive’s base salary, however there’s no cap on deductions for performance-based pay, such as bonuses.
Under the new provisions, both base salary and performance bonuses count towards to $1 million cap – which is why Goldman accelerated $94.8 million in bonuses originally scheduled for January, 2018. By paying the bonuses early, the bank will save money on its own tax bill.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sat, 12/30/2017 –.

“Q1 Stock Market Outlook: We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Slide”

Submitted by FFWiley
If 2018 rings in a bear market, it could look something like the Kennedy Slide of 1962.
That was my conclusion in ‘Riding the Slide,’ published in early September, where I showed that the Kennedy Slide was unique among bear markets of the last eighty years. It was the only bear that wasn’t obviously provoked by rising inflation, tightening monetary policy, deteriorating credit markets or, less commonly, world war or depression.
Moreover, market conditions leading up to the Slide should be familiar – they’re not too far from market conditions since Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election. In the first year after Kennedy’s election, as in the first year after Trump’s election, inflation seemed under control, interest rates were low, credit spreads were tight, and the economy was growing. And, in both cases, the stock market was booming.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sat, 12/30/2017 –.

The Dreaded ‘Flattening Yield Curve’ Meets QE Unwind

During prior incidents of an ‘inverted’ yield curve, the Fed had no tools to get the market to push up long-term yields. Today it has one: the QE Unwind.
The price of three-month Treasury securities fell and the yield – which moves in the opposite direction – rose, ending the year at 1.39%, after having spiked to 1.47% on December 26, the highest since September 12, 2008. This is in the upper half of the Fed’s new target range for the federal funds rate (1.25% to 1.50%). Back in October 2015, the yield was still at 0%:

This post was published at Wolf Street by Wolf Richter ‘ Dec 30, 2017.

The Myth of Insufficient Demand

Following the ideas of Keynes and Friedman, most mainstream economists associate economic growth with increases in the demand for goods and services.
Both Keynes and Friedman felt that The Great Depression of the 1930’s was due to an insufficiency of aggregate demand and thus the way to fix the problem is to boost aggregate demand.
For Keynes, this was achieved by having the federal government borrow more money and spend it when the private sector would not. Friedman advocated that the Federal Reserve pump more money to revive demand.
There is never such a thing as insufficient demand as such, however. An individual’s demand is constrained by his ability to produce goods. The more goods that an individual can produce the more goods he can demand, and thus acquire.
Note that the production of one individual enables him to pay for the production of the other individual. (The more goods an individual produces the more of other goods he can secure for himself. An individual’s demand therefore is constrained by his production of goods).
Note again demand cannot stand by itself and be independent – it is limited by production. Hence, what drives the economy is not demand as such but the production of goods and services.
In this sense, producers and not consumers are the engine of economic growth. Obviously, if he wants to succeed then a producer must produce goods and services in line with what other producers require.
According to James Mill,

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on Dec 29, 2017.

California Supreme Court Set For Ruling That Could Cut Pensions For Public Workers

For decades now public pensions have been guided by one universal rule which stipulates that current public employees can not be ‘financially injured’ by having their future benefits reduced. On the other hand, that ‘universal rule’ also necessarily stipulates that taxpayers can be absolutely steamrolled by whatever tax hikes are necessary to fulfill the bloated pension benefits that unions promise themselves. Alas, that one ‘universal rule’ may finally be at risk as the California Supreme Court is currently considering a case which could determine whether taxpayers have an unlimited obligation to simply fork over whatever pension benefits are demanded of them or whether there is some “reasonableness” test that must be applied. Here’s more from VC Star:

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Fri, 12/29/2017 –.

China Eliminates Taxation For Foreign Companies Investing in China

China has responded to global competition that is exploding in the wake of the Trump Tax Reform. While domestic news in the USA continues to bash the tax reform on class warfare, the rest of the world is trying to come to terms with what Trump has set in motion. China’s response is to allow foreign companies complete tax-free business on any profits they reinvest in China upping the stakes. Their position was stated by the Ministry of Finance and it is designed to ‘foster the growth of foreign investment, improve the quality of foreign investment, and encourage foreign investors to continuously expand their investment in China.’ The tax exemption applies retroactively from January 1st, 2017 beating Trump at his own game once more. Foreign companies who have paid taxes in China for 2017 will be refunded.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Dec 30, 2017.

What “Off The Grid” Indicators Reveal About The True State Of The US Economy

It’s that time of quarter again; today we review our ‘Off the Grid’ economic indicators. And they all look pretty good in terms of launching the American economy into 2018. Pickup truck sales and used car prices remain robust, and there’s some actual inflation in our Bacon Cheeseburger Index. One warning: ‘Bitcoin’ is among the top Google search autofills for the phrase ‘I want to buy…
We started our ‘Off the Grid’ economic indicators in the aftermath of the Financial Crisis as a way to dig deeper into the longer-lasting effects of that event on the American consumer. It seemed to us that standard economic measures like unemployment or CPI inflation missed a lot about the state of the country. So we started gathering up a list of intuitive metrics that could fill those gaps.
A few examples from these datasets over the years:

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Fri, 12/29/2017 –.