The debt ceiling was constructed to prevent the government from spending more than its set limits. If the debt ceiling was strictly enforced, once a limit is hit, spending would need to be cut to prevent the budget from going over the limit. The problem with the debt ceiling is that whenever the government appears to hit its limit, the politicians from both parties agree to increase the debt ceiling. So in effect, the current government essentially runs with no “hard” debt ceiling.
The U.S. government, after winning World War II for the Allies, was very convincing. It told central banks around the world that they should hold the U.S. dollar as their reserve currency instead of gold, based on the idea the U.S. dollar would be backed by gold. Only limited amounts of U.S. dollars could be printed, because the currency was tied to gold bullion. Central banks bought into the idea.
Unfortunately, a few decades down the road, the concept of a U.S. dollar backed by gold was thrown out the window (thank you, President Nixon). Eventually we were introduced to the modern day printing press—printing money out of thin air at the will of the Federal Reserve without the U.S. dollar being tied to any “hard” currency like gold.
Why would anyone agree to this horrible idea?
Back in those days, the U.S. economy was prospering. Our government was in good shape and didn’t have much debt. And the logistics made sense, too, as time passed. Why wouldn’t a central bank have in its reserves the currency of the world’s strongest economy and military? Why wouldn’t a central banker keep U.S. dollars in his vault as opposed to hard-to-carry and hard-to-store gold?
Years have passed since the U.S. dollar “unglued” itself from gold. Things have changed, too. America is not so glorious anymore. Ever-rising debt and the never-ending printing of U.S. dollars have resulted in some countries changing their policy on U.S. dollar-backed reserves. And the fundamental factors that keep the U.S. dollar strong are deteriorating quickly.
The balance sheet of the U.S. economy does not look as good as … Read More
The stock market…a place where rationality has been thrown out the door in favor of trading for immediate profits…profits based on what the government and Federal Reserve are planning to do next. It’s no longer a place for average investors to make money, as the fundamentals that drive key stock indices higher don’t really matter anymore. The notion has become “If it’s good news, buy! And if it’s bad news, then buy even more!”
We have been witnessing this phenomenon on key stock indices for a while now, and from my experience, such erratic behavior by the stock market usually comes at the end of a long up or down cycle.
Congress had decided to “kick the can” of U.S. debt down the road a little longer. When news broke last Thursday that they were planning to increase the U.S. debt limit for a few weeks and then come back to debate it, key stock indices had the best day of the year. Look at the circled area in the chart below:
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
Hold on a minute!
Why did the S&P 500 jump so much on the Republicans saying they would put in a temporary new U.S. debt ceiling instead of debating it? Isn’t increasing the U.S. debt load bad? After all, we are the biggest debtor in the global economy.
Dear reader, this is the new norm on key stock indices. The bad news, meaning we will have higher U.S. debt, is taken as good news by key stock indices. And assets that should be increasing in value are actually being punished. Case in point: gold … Read More
Companies in key stock indices have started to report their corporate earnings for the third quarter of this year. Not surprising, they are weak and show signs of stress.
According to FactSet, up until October 4, 90 companies in key stock indices like the S&P 500 issued negative guidance about their third-quarter corporate earnings per share. This is the highest number of companies posting negative guidance since the research company started to track earnings guidance back in 2006. (Source: “Earnings Insight,” FactSet, October 4, 2013.)
The corporate earnings growth rate for the S&P 500 is expected to be about three percent in the third quarter, and just like the last quarter, once again, a significant portion of the boost in earnings will come from the financial sector. If you take the financial sector’s corporate earnings out of the equation, earnings growth rates drop down to about 1.7%. Take away all the stock buyback programs public companies have conducted this year, and the earnings growth picture gets really ugly.
I think the smart money is sensing companies are struggling to grow, so they are starting to pull money out of the market.
According to the Investment Company Institute, for the week ended September 25, the long-term U.S. stock mutual funds had a net outflow of $3.8 billion in capital. Similarly, for the week ended October 2, the net outflow continued and increased to $4.12 billion. (Source: Investment Company Institute, October 9, 2013.)
Key stock indices like the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average, and the NASDAQ have shed some gains recently; they are much lower than their all-time highs posted just … Read More
This is an entirely free service. No credit card required.
We hate spam as much as you do.