Economics and Investing:

As this “Recovery” trudges on, the numbers are starting to become known. SurvivalBlog reader B.B. sent in this link showing that Americans are giving up on jobs. “As many as 40% of capable Americans without a job have completely given up looking for work”

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Why U.S. Retail Sales Ended 2015 Poorly – RBS

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Items from Professor Preponomics:

US News

More Pain Seen Ahead for US Banks Exposed to Energy Loans (Yahoo) Excerpt: “”Everybody was hoping for a bounce through most of last year and it hasn’t materialized so I think both the regulators and the auditors are going to be taking a much harder look at these credits…”

Lawmakers Push Bills to Reform Wyoming Asset Forfeiture Laws (Casper Star Tribune) Excerpt: ““Asset forfeiture is an extraordinary remedy, and it should be done only after we make sure that the constitutional protections of the innocent are in place…”

Feds Stop Sharing Forfeiture Funds with Local Law Enforcement (The Tampa Tribune) There are better ways to provide for the appropriate funding of costs associated with law enforcement. Civil forfeiture is not the solution. It’s deeply troubling that one must read substantially into this article to find a reference to the rights of citizens. Excerpt: “Nobody should lose their property without being convicted of a crime…”

International News

European Dark Pools Expand, Spiting Regulators Ambitions (Bloomberg) Excerpt: “The region’s dark pools– venues that don’t display prices before trades take place– enjoyed a 45 percent jump in the value of trading they handled in 2015…”

Italian Banks Hammered (Contra Corner) The opening line says it all: “Things don’t matter until they do.” Bloomberg is also reporting on this concern: Italian Banks Lead European Decliners on Bad Loans Concerns

Chart of the Day: Which Bank is Most Exposed to the Struggling Oil and Gas Sector (Yahoo) All eyes are on Singapore and DBS. Excerpt: “Singapore’s largest banks should prepare for more non-performing loans (NPLs) as oil prices drop to their lowest level in twelve years…”

IMF Cuts Global Growth Forecast as China Slows (Reuters) Excerpt: “The International Monetary Fund cut its global growth forecasts for the third time in less than a year on Tuesday, as new figures from Beijing showed that the Chinese economy grew at its slowest rate in a quarter of a century in 2015.”

Personal Economics and Household Finance

In a Post-Boom World, Auto Prices Will Fall (Mises) Beware of the dangers of credit expansion, the enticements that encourage debt-fueled spending, the leverage effect and the consequences of its reversal. Excerpt: “Last week, Tommy Behnke in Mises Daily predicted that auto prices will fall as the bubble bursts from the artificially created demand generated from excessive credit creation.”

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