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 –.

I’m in Awe of How Far the Scams & Stupidities around ‘Blockchain Stocks’ are Going

This can happen only during the very late stage of a bubble. It just doesn’t let up. UBI Blockchain Internet, a Hong Kong outfit whose shares trade in the US [UBIA], filed with the SEC to sell an additional 72.3 million shares owned by its executives. In other words, it isn’t selling the shares to raise money for corporate purposes, but to allow its executives, including CEO Tony Liu, to bail out.
This is happening after the company – which sports zero revenues and a disconnected phone number in its SEC filings – managed to get its shares to spike briefly by over 1,100%, pushing its market capitalization to $8 billion.
UBI Blockchain didn’t do an IPO. Instead, in October 2016, it acquired a publicly traded shell company registered in Las Vegas, called ‘JA Energy.’ It then changed the name and ticker symbol to what they’re now.
Over the six trading days starting on December 11, 2017, its shares soared over 1,100%, from $7.20 to $87 on December 18, as the word ‘blockchain’ in its name and sufficient hype and speculator-idiocy took hold. By December 21, shares had plunged 67% to $29. They closed on Wednesday at $38.50. At this price, it still has a ludicrous market cap of $3.64 billion.

This post was published at Wolf Street on Dec 28, 2017.

Bad Santa Buys Bonds, Bullion, & Bitcoin; Rotten Apple Spoils Promised Stock Rally

This was not teh Santa Claus rally that everyone was promised…
All thanks to ‘rotten’ Apple… as analysts lowered iPhone X shipment projections for the first quarter of next year, citing signs of lackluster demand at the end of the holiday shopping season, and the company’s shares fell Tuesday along with those of some suppliers.
Nasdaq ended Boxing Day deep in the red…Small Caps managed to close green…

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 26, 2017.

Intelligence Insider Warns Of Imminent War: ‘Likely In The Next 12 Weeks… The Director Of The CIA Told Me’

Having worked closely with U. S. intelligence agencies over the last two decades, James Rickards was once asked to simulate asymmetric economic attacks on the U. S. financial system. He is an expert at escalation scenarios and end games, and in a recent article at The Daily Reckoning he warns that the geopolitical situation on the Korean Peninsula will soon come to a head.
According to Rickards, author of The Road To Ruin: The Global Elites Secret Plan For The Next Financial Crisis, while the world concerns itself with stock bubbles, bitcoin and debt, the most imminent threat we face is military confrontation with North Korea.
And while the rogue state has been an ongoing threat for many years, the first half of 2018 will likely see the trigger that sets the whole powder keg off:
The most important financial or geopolitical issue in the world today is a coming war between the U. S. and North Korea, probably in the next twelve weeks.

This post was published at shtfplan on December 26th, 2017.

One Bank Is Unsure If Any Humans Still Trade Stocks In Japan, Or Have All Moved To Bitcoin

While the wholesale disappearance of retail traders from stock markets is hardly a novel observation, it has taken on a whole new meaning in Japan, where the lack of carbon-based investors has prompted Deutsche Bank to ask if “Japan’s stocks are still traded at all by humans.”
As Deutsche strategist Masao Muraki writes, since the US presidential election, Japanese stocks (in this case the TOPIX index) have been almost entirely defined by just three things: US stocks (S&P 500), the implied volatility (VIX), and USDJPY. This is shown in the model correlation chart below.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 26, 2017.

Doug Noland: Epic Stimulus Overload

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Credit Bubble Bulletin . To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
Ten-year Treasury yields jumped 13 bps this week to 2.48%, the high going back to March. German bund yields rose 12 bps to 0.42%. U. S. equities have been reveling in tax reform exuberance. Bonds not so much. With unemployment at an almost 17-year low 4.1%, bond investors have so far retained incredible faith in global central bankers and the disinflation thesis.
Between tax legislation and cryptocurrencies, there’s been little interest in much else. As for tax cuts, it’s an inopportune juncture in the cycle for aggressive fiscal stimulus. And for major corporate tax reduction more specifically, with boom-time earnings and the loosest Credit conditions imaginable, it’s Epic Stimulus Overload. History will look back at this week – ebullient Republicans sharing the podium and cryptocurrency/blockchain trading madness – and ponder how things got so crazy.
From my analytical vantage point, the nation’s housing markets have been about the only thing holding the U. S. economy back from full-fledged overheated status. Sales have been solid and price inflation steady. While construction has recovered significantly from the 2009/2010 trough, housing starts remain at about 60% of 2004-2005 period peak levels. It takes some time for residential construction to attain take-off momentum. Well, liftoff may have finally arrived. As long as mortgage rates remain so low, we should expect ongoing housing upside surprises. An already strong inflationary bias is starting to Bubble. Is the Fed paying attention?

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on December 23, 2017.

“This is Groundhog Day”: Spanish Stocks Battered By Catalan Vote, Bitcoin Crashes

Spanish stocks and the euro fell, while Spanish government bond yields hit their highest levels in over a month after Catalan secessionists delivered an unexpected blow to the government of Spanish PM Rajoy by winning the Catalan regional election. Meanwhile across the Atlantic, U. S. equity futures and the dollar rose on the last trading session before the Christmas holiday. The MSCI index of world stocks was flat.
Europe’s Stoxx 600 Index traded sideways as Spain’s Ibex 35 underperformed, dropping as much as 1.6%. Spanish stocks dominated Europe’s biggest fallers, confirming analyst expectations that any shake-out from the Catalonia vote would be mostly confined to Spain. Spain’s bonds also fell along with peripheral European government debt, though bunds were little changed after a selloff this week drove yields to five-week highs. For those who missed it, Catalan separatist parties triumphed in regional elections, outperforming some polls and reigniting Spain’s political trauma. While the Euro has stabilized since, it suffered a mini flash crash in the illiquid aftermath of the Catalan election news, momentarily dipping to $1.1817 before trimming losses to last stand at $1.1853, down 0.2 percent.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.

Americans have no savings and with very good reason: housing, education, and health care have seen extraordinary inflation while wages are stagnant.

It has now become a daily ritual in which story after story of broke Americans plaster the web. Yet somehow on the mainstream press, very little is discussed about this topic. Americans are largely broke because inflation is vey real. Housing, education, and health care costs have soared out of control while wages have remained stagnant. The way Americans continue to pay for these items is by going into loan shark levels of debt. There used to be a pretense that ‘we’ actually cared about having a middle class but that is now thrown out the window. At this point, we are in a full on sprint towards low wage capitalism. Many people live on a paycheck to paycheck diet and are berated about saving more for retirement. The reality is, the new retirement model is working until you die.
In the land of no savings
Sunday morning, I wake up and take a stroll through the neighborhood. ‘Did you hear about Bitcoin? Wild right?’ I’m asked by a stranger at the park. ‘Sure seems wild. You own any?’ To which I get the following response, ‘I wish I had some money to even invest!’ I think we live in a world where most Americans are merely spectators to the wild gyrations of the market. They hear about investments too late or mistake speculation with actual investing.

This post was published at MyBudget360 on December 21, 2017.