A Secret Only a Tiny Number of Investors Understand

Gummed Up by Taxes, Debt and Regulation At 7 a.m. on Saturday morning we were in our room at the China World Hotel, looking down on eight lanes of traffic that had come to a dead stop in the Beijing traffic.
‘The last century was America’s century,’ says our Chinese colleague. ‘This is China’s century.’
‘You know why America was such a success,’ he continued. ‘Because it was a fairly free market with massive domestic demand. Companies could scale up in the highly competitive US market. That would make them larger and more advanced than their foreign competitors. They could then enter foreign markets and easily beat the locals.
‘Now, the US is gummed up by taxes, debt and regulation. Outside of Silicon Valley most of the companies are old. There are few new businesses and not much new technology.
‘I think you wrote something about the declining number of start-ups in the US. It’s a big deal that few people recognize. I think you said it was a result of crony capitalism. The feds subsidize and protect the big boys… and bail them out when they get into trouble. That’s why GM and Fannie Mae are still in business. But the little guys can’t even get credit.
‘China, meanwhile, is full of new companies. Everything is new. And the internal market is fairly free compared to America. Talk about scale. These companies have massive domestic growth and learning capacity before they have to compete on the world markets.’

US company births and deaths, via a (slightly dated) Brookings report (pdf)

This post was published at Acting-Man on September 9, 2014.

On A Clear Fund Raising Evening, Gov. Christie’s Pension Managers Can See Wall Street From Trenton

New Jersey investment officials have directed increasingly large slices of state pension money into riskier investments, such as hedge funds, touting their strategy as a means of limiting exposure to a volatile stock market. They’ve argued that their approach would maximize overall returns and justify the higher fees paid to Wall Street money managers.
But in seven of the eight years since the state began shifting pension funds into so-called alternative investments, returns have fallen well short of the broader stock market, an analysis of state financial records shows. In those seven years, New Jersey’s alternative investment portfolio has produced gains of just more than half of the S&P 500, the widely watched index seen as a proxy for shares of large corporations.
Since Gov. Chris Christie took office, he has nearly tripled the amount of retiree cash invested in alternative investment firms – many of whose employees have made financial contributions to political groups backing Christie’s election campaigns. In that time, the gap between New Jersey’s alternative portfolio and the broader market has rapidly expanded, costing taxpayers billions in unrealized returns and threatening the financial stability of the $78 billion pension system. The state’s pension funding shortfalls – which have been exacerbated by Christie’s market-trailing investment strategy – were one of the factors cited by Fitch Ratings in its decision last week to downgrade the state’s bond rating for the second time.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on September 8, 2014.

More Lost IRS E-Mails. The IRS Tells Congress: ‘Go Fish.

Congress is impotent.
The IRS knows Congress is impotent.
The IRS can safely thumb its nose at Congress in full public view.
Everyone knows the IRS did illegal things when it refused to grant the privilege of tax exemption to conservative groups. ‘Go fish.’ Everyone knows the IRS destroyed the incriminating e-mails. ‘Go fish.’ Everyone knows the IRS is lying when it blames a hard disk crash. ‘Go fish.’ Everyone knows Boehner & Co. has only one response with teeth: to cut the IRS’s budget next year in retaliation. Everyone knows that Congress dares not cut one agency’s budget, above all government agencies: the IRS’s. ‘Go fish.’
I suppose I should be outraged. ‘The arrogance of these people!’ But why get upset this late in the history of the American welfare-warfare state? This is nothing new. It goes back to – in round numbers – 1789. Executive agencies have done their best to thwart Congress since the beginning. It just gets worse over time.
Congress has two meaningful powers over the other branches of the federal government. It refuses to use either of them. First, it has the power of the purse. It can refuse to fund any agency at any time for any reason. It can, in short, shrink the power of the President. It never doers this. To do this would mean shrinking the federal government. It absolutely will not tolerate such a suggestion.
The other power is to lock the Supreme Court in a box. It can withdraw the Court’s jurisdiction on any judicial issue except those enumerated by the Constitution. The Constitution is clear.

This post was published at Tea Party Economist on September 6, 2014.

New Jersey’s Debt is Downgraded by Fitch as Chris Christie Funnels Pension Money to Private Equity and Hedge Funds

David Sirota must be commended for his incredible work this year exposing the insidious relationship between public pension funds and ‘alternative asset managers,’ namely private equity firms and hedge funds. It is the private equity component that has captured my attention the most due to the industry’s notoriously opaque and seemingly illegal fees.
One example I highlighted earlier this year was: Leaked Documents Show How Blackstone Fleeces Taxpayers via Public Pension Funds. The reason this relationship between public pension money and private equity is so incredibly important is because so many in the private equity world are so incredibly shady. Let’s not forget what SEC official Drew Bowden said back in May:
At a private equity conference this week, Drew Bowden, a senior SEC official, told private equity fund managers and their investors in considerable detail about how the agency had found widespread stealing and other serious infractions in its audits of private equity firms.
Despite the at times disconcertingly polite tone, the SEC has now announced that more than 50 percent of private equity firms it has audited have engaged in serious infractions of securities laws. These abuses were detected thanks to to Dodd Frank. Private equity general partners had been unregulated until early 2012, when they were required to SEC regulation as investment advisers.
So how do public pensions fit in to this racket? Here’s how:

This post was published at Liberty Blitzkrieg on Sep 8, 2014.

Why Illinois Is Bankrupt: 6,000 Teachers Get Pensions Of $100,000

From 2013 to 2014, the number of teachers receiving six-figure pensions in Illinois increased by 24 percent. Today, 6,000 retired Illinois teachers are collecting at least 100,000 in annual pension money.
Yet, as Kelly Riddell reports for the Washington Times, if the Illinois Teachers Retirement Service (TRS) were forced to pay out the pensions it owes today, it would only be able to pay retirees 40 cents for every dollar. Indeed, the state’s pension fund is in trouble:
According to a report from the spending watchdog group Open the Books, over 100,000 Illinois teachers had already broken even on their pension payments after just 20 months of retirement. Illinois taxpayers can pay up to $2 million per teacher per retirement. The TRS pension fund is underfunded by $54 billion, according to the Illinois Policy Institute. By 2029, the fund could be entirely broke. TRS is the largest pension fund in the state. According to Riddell, Illinois legislators have continued to underfund TRS in order to free up funds for spending elsewhere. Yet, over half of Illinois teachers are retiring before the age of 60, and many teachers are making twice the amount they earned while they were actually employed. For example:

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on 6th September 2014.

Japanese Economy Contracts Bigger than Expected 7.1% in 2nd Quarter; Really Bad Theories

By now it should be pretty clear that Abenomics is a complete failure. Abenomics did not spur lending, investment, hiring, or wage growth.
It’s one touted “success” is that prices have gone up. And for cash-strapped consumers facing higher taxes, that alleged “success” is actually a disaster.
Japanese Economy Contracts Bigger Than Expected 7.1% in Second Quarter
Please consider Japan says economy contracted 7.1 percent in April-June on bigger drop in business investment.
Japan’s economy contracted at a larger than earlier estimated annual rate of 7.1 percent in April-June, as companies and households slashed spending following a tax hike. The revised data released Monday show business investment fell more than twice as much as estimated before, or 5.1 percent, while private residential spending sank 10.4 percent, in annual terms. The earlier estimate showed the economy contracting 6.8 percent. The recovery of the world’s third-largest economy has slowed following the increase in the sales tax to 8 percent from 5 percent on April 1.

This post was published at Global Economic Analysis on September 08, 2014.

How The Fed “Mysteriously” Eliminated $7 Trillion In US Debt

Anyone looking at the Federal Reserve’s own data set, that provided with the generous “free” funding of the US taxpayer by way of the St. Louis Fed’s FRED database, will notice something quite welcome, if magical: total US debt held by the public – that which is not part of intragovernment holdings, read Social Security – has mysteriously collapsed from $12 trillion to $5 trillion. Somehow, with nobody looking, the Fed managed to reduce US total debt by $7 trillion.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 09/08/2014.

Contagion – What the Next Wall Street Crisis Will Look Like

Last week the Fed announced a plan for the next financial crisis that feels to some observers like a plan to burn down the trading houses on Wall Street – or, alternately, guarantee another massive taxpayer bailout of the biggest banks.
The Federal Reserve Board and its regional banks are overflowing with economists. What the Fed does not seem to have is an honest, informed voice to consult about how trading markets think in a severe financial crisis.
Last Tuesday, the Federal Reserve Board along with other bank regulators announced a new liquidity rule for the largest Wall Street banks – the ones that required the massive bailout in the 2008 to 2010 financial crisis. The goal of the new rule, according to the Fed, would be to force the biggest, most complex banks to hold enough ‘high quality liquid assets’ (HQLA) so that they could be easily liquidated if there was a run on the bank, eliminating the need for another taxpayer bailout. So far, so good.
Then the Fed and its fellow regulators did something that raises serious doubts about their market sophistication. They announced that in addition to U. S. Treasury securities, where a flight to safety always flows in a crisis, the big banks could also hold corporate bonds and corporate common stocks in the Russell 1000 index among their newly defined ‘high quality liquid assets’ earmarked for an emergency.
Just six weeks before the Fed anointed non-exchange traded corporate bonds as liquid assets, all the way down to investment grade, the Financial Times ran this opening paragraph in an article by Tracy Alloway:
‘The ease with which investors can trade corporate debt has declined sharply in the five years since the financial crisis according to research that is likely to feed fears over the prospect of an intensified sell-off in the $9.9 trillion US market.’

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade By Pam Martens and Russ Marte.

The Wrath of Abenomics Crushes Japanese Consumers, Eviscerates Economy

In April, after the broad-based consumption-tax hike from 5% to 8% had taken effect, retail sales collapsed 20% from March. Total vehicle sales collapsed 56% to the worst level since December 2012, and December is usually the worst month of the year in Japan. April was terrible. It was much worse than feared by the Abenomics soothsayers and apologists.
But the shock didn’t last long, and soon the soothsayers and apologists were at it again. In May, car sales were worse than a year earlier, but not much worse (-1.2%); and in June, car sales were actually a smidgen better ( 0.4%) than a year earlier, and hopes were being propagated that this would all somehow work out. But in July sales dropped 2.5% year over year, and other data points were going to heck as well.
Then August happened.

This post was published at Wolf Street on September 8, 2014.

The Wrath of Abenomics Crushes Japanese Consumers, Slams Economy

In April, after the broad-based consumption-tax hike from 5% to 8% had taken effect, retail sales collapsed 20% from March. Total vehicle sales collapsed 56% to the worst level since December 2012, and December is usually the worst month of the year in Japan. April was terrible. It was much worse than feared by the Abenomics soothsayers and apologists.
But the shock didn’t last long, and soon the soothsayers and apologists were at it again. In May, car sales were worse than a year earlier, but not much worse (-1.2%); and in June, car sales were actually a smidgen better ( 0.4%) than a year earlier, and hopes were being propagated that this would all somehow work out. But in July sales dropped 2.5% year over year, and other data points were going to heck as well.
Then August happened.
In August, vehicle sales as measured by registrations swooned, according to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association. All categories were down: sales of new cars, including minis (cars with tiny 500cc engines) plunged 9.4% year over year to 281,326 units; sales of new trucks of all sizes, including minis dropped 7.2% to 51,165 units. And total vehicles sales, retail and commercial, cars, trucks, and buses plunged 9% to 333,471 units.

This post was published at Wolf Street by Wolf Richter ‘ September 8, 2014.

Scottish Independence Referendum: The Complete Summary

For those just catching up on the main news event of the weekend, namely the sudden surge in Scotland “Yes” vote polling surpassing 50% for the first time, here is a complete round up of the background, updates and expert reactions from RanSquawk, Bloomberg and AFP.
Recent polling shows the ‘Yes’ campaign overtaking the unionists for the first time, just 10 days ahead of the final vote on September 18th Independent Scotland runs the risk of limited currency options and fiscal uncertainty UK debt ratings hang in the balance as worst-case scenario sees Westminster shouldering an estimated extra GBP 140bln in former Scottish debt BACKGROUND
The ‘No’ party – the unionists – are led by Alistair Darling, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, previously held a lead over the nationalists but this has reversed in the most recent polling, with the ‘No’ vote holding 49%.
The ‘Yes’ party – the nationalists – are led by Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, and harbour hopes of swinging the referendum in their favour as latest polls suggest they have been overtaken the ‘No’ camp by 2ppts.
Serious doubts remain over the future of Scotland’s currency if the nationalists win. Salmond has repeatedly stated his intention of keeping the GBP, but all 3 main UK parties have made clear they would not be willing to share their currency and central bank with a foreign state. Also, a potential use of the GBP without a currency union would not be compatible with EU membership, as the EC requires member states to have a monetary authority of their own.
‘No’ Victory – Given the somewhat complacent attitude market participants have had towards the vote indicates that the upside in riskier assets is limited in case the unionists win the referendum with a large majority. Nevertheless, expect to see some tightening in spreads of the shorter-dated implied volatilities which have widened heading into the risk event.
However, a close vote could lead to a second referendum in 5-10 years and as such, changes to UK regional governance would take place as a result of more devolution, with additional powers going to Scotland such as more autonomy over taxation. In turn, business leaders, including the head of Standard Life and RBS, will have to decide as to whether to relocate their headquarters to the UK or stay in Scotland depending on what type of policies Scotland decides to pursue with its additional powers.
‘Yes’ Victory – Great uncertainty revolves around an independent Scotland, specifically due to the lack of clarity over the potential new fiscal arrangements such as interest rates, taxation, investor protection, financial stability and monetary policy.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 09/08/2014.

Here Is Why Europe Just Launched The “Nuclear Option” Against Russia

Europe’s leaders, we assume under pressure from Washington, appear to be making a big weather-related bet with their taxpayers’ lives this winter. As they unleash funding sanctions on Russia’s big energy producers, Europe has pumped a record volume of natural gas into underground inventories in an effort to ‘outlast’ Russia and mitigate any Napoleonic “Winter War” scenario. The plan appears to be to starve Russian energy firms of cashflow – as flows to Europe are already plunging – and remove their funding ability, potentially forcing severe hardship on Russia’s key economic drivers. There appears to be 3 potential problems with this plan…

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 09/08/2014.

EU – Nothing Works, Not Even Stimulation

Mario Draghi cannot launch QE without German political assent … It is surely wishful thinking to suppose that the ECB is ready to launch full-fledged QE, given its political make-up … Mario Draghi’s comments on the eurozone economy at Jackson Hole have put him in direct conflict with Berlin – UK Telegraph
Dominant Social Theme: These last five years have been a problem, but now you can smell the hope and change.
Free-Market Analysis: We’ve written regularly about the difficulties with the EU for years and what’s astonishing is that almost all of our predictions about its dysfunctional nature – and predictable results – have been realized, and yet the EU staggers on.
There were even, as we anticipated, street demos and open rebellion in parts of the EU at the height of the current crisis. Athens was bloodied and Spain, Italy and Portugal among other countries saw serious unrest, especially among youth. And yet, surprisingly, the EU withstood the blows primarily through the use of uncompromising political, civilian and military force. The elites were not afraid to “crack heads.”
It is Southern Europe that has borne the brunt: Taxes have risen, services have been cut and formal employment has never returned. Young people have little work; older workers cannot trust the vaunted EU safety net. Retirements have been put off. Poverty has risen.
Enter Mario Draghi and the Eurocrats once again to salvage a continually unsalvageable mess. Draghi intends to print lots of money in order to buy securities in the open market, presumably including national and EU debt.

This post was published at The Daily Bell on September 08, 2014.

OMGodzilla! Japanese Macro Data Revisions Even More Disastrous Than Expected

If the US equity market’s reaction to the worst jobs data of 2014 is anything to go on; Japanese stocks should be a double overnight given the catastrophe that just printed. While the initial prints for the post-tax-hike period were bad enough (record worst levels in most cases), the revsions are even worse. Drum roll please: 1) Trade balance miss, worst in 4 months; 2) GDP -7.1% miss, revised down, worst since Q1 2009; 3) Business Spending/Capex -5.1% miss, revised down, worst since Q2 2009; and 4) Consumer Spending -5.3% miss, revised down, worst on record. But apart from that, as the Japanese leaders noted last week, “the recovery is heading in the right direction.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 09/07/2014.


Another US political candidate is advocating the use of Bitcoin. Instead of just accepting the crypto-currency for donations, this candidate has taken it one step further.
Alex Fidel is running for mayor in the city of Encinitas, California, a suburb of San Diego famous for its surf culture and the YMCA skate park.
He’s looking to put Encinitas on the map for another reason than sunny climes, beautiful people, beach-town vibes, and so on. He wants the Southern California coastal town to be a Bitcoin safehaven from what he terms the ‘conjoined twins of the Federal Reserve and the IRS.’
One of the 22-year old candidate’s main talking points is the nullification of legal tender laws by elevating the importance of the US Constitution’s Tenth Amendment.
‘I would nullify legal tender laws and money exchange laws to allow individuals to engage in the currency of their choosing, whether it be gold, silver, copper, Bitcoin, voluntary exchange, or even the devaluing Federal Reserve Note dollar system for those that wish to stick with the pyramid scheme,’ the candidate wrote on his Facebook page.
On a recent appearance on The Our Very Own Special Show Podcast, the candidate proposed that the income tax apply only to the US Dollar, absolving bitcoin, precious metals and other alternative currency users of paying the income tax. (That part starts at 58 minutes)
‘… The Fed and IRS were both created in 1913 as one entity. The income tax should only apply to Federal Reserve Notes, so if you’re a major corporation using Federal Reserve Notes, it’s probably because you’re connected to the banks. It will be mostly small business that stop using the corporate-fascist medium. Exempting alternative currencies from the income tax would be good for employment, and the dollar would lose value. People would only have to report taxes if they use the federal reserve note.’
That’s a lot of upheaval. So what does this all mean?
‘You wouldn’t be a slave to the dollar system,’ the candidate says.

This post was published at Dollar Vigilante on 2014/9/7.

Personal Responsibility and Free-Market Entrepreneurship

A recent, little discussed article about Russia’s signing of US FATCA legislation contained a surprising confessionary note – and an important one.
The main news was simple enough, of course. Vladimir Putin has signed Russian legislation mandating potential cooperation with US taxing authorities.
It was reported he did not do so willingly – and indeed, the RT (formerly Russia Today) broadcast network presented the news in that context.
Here’s part of the RT report:
Russia sees serious threat in FATCA … Russia’s financial system is “threatened” by America’s new tax law that demands foreign banks report on all American citizens’ banking activities, the Russian Federal Financial Monitoring Service said Thursday.
The head of the financial monitoring authority Yury Chikhanchin likened the one-sided data exchange to turning Russian banks into spies for the Americans. “Essentially, our financial institutions are becoming tax informants for the American economy. As similar systems start spreading to other countries, they can bring serious risks to our financial system,” Chikhanchin said at a banking forum in Sochi.
FATCA requires foreign banks to provide information on American clients, who have over $10,000 in deposits, to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If a bank does not comply; it can be subject to a 30 percent fine. Before client information is sent to America, it will pass through the Central Bank of Russia and other local financial or government agencies, which still have the right to keep the information private.
On June 30, just before the deadline, Russia signed a law that allows Russian banks to share the tax data of American clients with US tax authorities, but does not mandate participation. The law simply gives Russian banks the ability to work with FATCA while not making it obligatory.
So far, this is unsurprising. The report and Russia’s dissatisfaction with FATCA didn’t get a great deal of play in Western media, any more than the signing itself.

This post was published at The Daily Bell on September 06, 2014.

Report: It’s YOUR Fault: Fed Says Americans Who ‘Hoard Money’ Are To Blame For Poor Economy

Despite arguments to the contrary from the Obama administration, mounting evidence suggests that the U. S. economy is rapidly falling back into negative growth territory. More Americans are out of the workforce than ever before, median household incomes are at levels not seen since 1967, and consumer spending is coming to a veritable standstill. The crisis is apparently so significant that a Federal Reserve governor recently said U. S. policymakers are crafting regulations that will force bank depositors to cover any losses should their financial institutions fail.
The question that many are asking is, how did this happen? How, after six years of recovery efforts and trillions of dollars printed, is it possible that the economy is not booming again?
This week the Federal Reserve published a report that claims to have figured it out and it turns out that the renewed economic downturn has nothing to do with foreign outsourcing, high taxation, increased health care costs for business or rising consumer prices for food and energy.
No, according to the Fed it is your fault. Apparently, you are not spending enough money. In order for the economy to recover you need to stop hoarding cash now and get out there and start buying more homes, cars, vacations, and electronics. Otherwise, you’ll only have yourself to blame when the system comes unhinged.
From the St. Louis Federal Reserve:
The issue has to do with the velocity of money, which has never been constant, as can be seen in the figure below . If for some reason the money velocity declines rapidly during an expansionary monetary policy period, it can offset the increase in money supply and even lead to deflation instead of inflation.

This post was published at shtfplan on September 6th, 2014.

Japan’s “Money Illusion” Will Fail, Goldman Warns

The Bank Of Japan (BOJ) says it is looking for consumer spending to stay on a recovery path, focusing on the relatively small increase in nominal wages rather than the steep slide in real wages. Goldman believes the BOJ’s view is founded on money illusion; and crucially, expect the positive effects to be clearly outweighed by the negative impact of lower real wages, and on a net basis see consumption falling. Simply put, once people wake up to the illusion of money, its impact will also fade.
Via Goldman Sachs’ Naohiko Baba,
Can the BOJ rely on ‘Money Illusion’? (Spoiler Alert – No!)
Nominal wages have finally edged into positive territory after more than 18 months of Abenomics. However, prices have spiked on cost-push inflation driven by yen depreciation since mid-2013and on the consumption tax hike in April 2014 (from 5% to 8%). As a result, real wages were still in negative territory (-1.4% yoy) even as of July, when the outcome of the successful spring wage negotiations should have been almost fully factored in.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 09/05/2014.


The Wall Street jackoffs all expected an increase in jobs of 200,000 to 250,000 for August. I guess being off by 30% to 40% is considered accurate for an Ivy League educated economist making over $1 million per year. The manipulated, massaged, seasonally adjusted, excel spreadsheet employment data has been released for public consumption by our keepers. They will now tell you what you are supposed to believe regarding the fake numbers. Maybe the weather was too warm for hiring. Maybe it rained or didn’t rain. Maybe ISIS and the looming threat of terrorist attack is deterring employers from hiring. It couldn’t have anything to do with Obamacare, Federal Reserve policies, government regulations and taxes, or the fact that families have 40% less net worth today than they had in 2007.
It’s actually far worse than the reported headline. One survey says 142,000 jobs were added. Of course the BLS excel spreadsheet birth/death adjustment added 102,000 jobs to the calculation, the highest adjustment for August in history. We all know small businesses are hiring like mad before full implementation of Obamacare after the elections. The broader population survey shows that only 16,000 more people were employed in August than in July. The MSM is silent about that number. The sheep must be kept sedated. And now for the best part. While reporting horrifically bad employment numbers, our beloved BLS drones also reported the unemployment rate dropping to 6.1%, the lowest rate in six years. Glory be!!! The economy must be booming and workers must be so ecstatic they are spending like there’s no tomorrow. What? Retail sales have been declining? How can this be? It sure smells like someone took a shit under the bed and won’t admit it. But let’s ignore the cognitive dissonance you are feeling and dig into the bullshit BLS numbers to get a few kernels of truth:

This post was published at The Burning Platform on Sept 5, 2014.

ECB Now a Hedge Fund; 1T Bazooka; ECB Promotes Euro Carry Trade; Draghi Has it Backwards

Draghi Has it Backwards
A director at a global financial company with offices worldwide pinged me in response to my post ECB’s 40bn Stimulus Gamble: ECB Pulls Out Bazooka, Cuts Rates, Buys Assets; Will this Stimulate Lending?.
Hello Mish,
Mario Draghi is an idiot. Banks create money when they lend. The loans create a requirement for reserves which ultimately reverts back as deposits at the ECB. The negative interest rate is therefore a tax on capital and a tax on lending. This not rocket science.
I’d start a charity whereby every newly appointed central bank board member is sent a free copy of Rothbard’s Mystery of Banking except I am beginning to doubt their ability to read.
Name Withheld by Request
Bond Bubble GrowsI responded to “NW” with “I agree 100%. All they have done is give banks the incentive to park money on sovereign bonds with diminishing yield. The bond bubble grows.“It is ridiculous that Spanish and Italian 10-Year bonds trade at a lower yield than 10-year us treasuries, yet that is the current state of affairs.

This post was published at Global Economic Analysis on Friday, September 05, 2014.