Economics & Investing For Preppers

Here are the latest news items and commentary on current economics news, market trends, stocks, investing opportunities, and the precious metals markets. We also cover hedges, derivatives, and obscura. Most of these items are from the “tangibles heavy” contrarian perspective of SurvivalBlog’s Founder and Senior Editor, JWR. Today, we look at the housing market in 2020. (See the Tangibles Investing section.)

Economy & Finance:

“Party Like It’s 1998”: A Quarter Of $3.2 Trillion In BBB-Rated Bonds May Be Junk

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At Zero Hedge: Mauldin: A Crisis Has Already Begun… We Just Don’t Know It Yet

Here is an excerpt:

“The Fed now has also become a big part of the monetization process via its purchases of T-bills which also drives banks into buying notes. The Fed’s balance sheet is now $335b higher than it was in September at $4.095 trillion. Again, however the Fed wants to define what it’s doing, market participants view this as QE4 with all the asset price inflation that comes along with QE programs.

It will be real interesting to see what happens in 2020 to the repo market when the Fed tries to end its injections and how markets respond when its balance sheet stops increasing in size. It’s so easy to get involved and so difficult to leave.

Declining foreign purchases are, in part, a consequence of the trade war.

The dollars China and Japan use to buy our T-bills are the same dollars we pay them for our imported goods. But interest and exchange rates also matter. With rates negative or lower than ours in most of the developed world, the US had been the best parking place.

But in the last year, other central banks started looking for a NIRP exit. Higher rate expectations elsewhere combined with stable or falling US rates give foreign buyers—who must also pay for currency hedges—less incentive to buy US debt.”

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How to strangle an economy: In 2020 record number of states cities and counties raise minimum wage

Commodities:

The Fed could face a possible ‘inflation scare’ in 2020 with commodity prices on the rise

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OilPrice News had this report on Namibia: Is This The Next Great Oil Frontier?

Derivatives:

Crypto Derivatives Landscape in 2019 & Looking Ahead to 2020

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I missed seeing this article when it ran in early December: Derivatives industry asks regulators to clarify Libor phase-out terms

Forex & Cryptos:

British pound could rally to $1.65 in 2020, strategist predicts

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At Wolf Street: Status of US Dollar as Global Reserve Currency v. Euro, Yen, Chinese Renminbi, & Others. That article begins:

“The US economy and financial system – including being able to maintain and fund the gargantuan trade deficits and fiscal deficits – has become reliant on the dollar being the dominant global reserve currency. And the IMF just released its next installment on how this status has been changing.

Total foreign exchange reserves in all currencies combined declined 0.6% in the third quarter from the second quarter to $11.66 trillion, according to the IMF’s quarterly COFER data. US-dollar-denominated exchange reserves – such as Treasury securities, US corporate bonds, etc. held by foreign central banks – ticked down 0.4% to $6.51 trillion. But holdings denominated in other currencies fell faster, and the share of dollar-denominated reserves edged up to 61.8% of total exchange reserves. The dollar’s status has declined from a share of 66% in 2014 to a share of 61.8% in Q3 2019…”

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Bitcoin & Crypto Market Facing Hurdles: BNB, BCH, LTC, EOS Analysis

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Avi Gilburt at Seeking Alpha: Sentiment Speaks: Another Bottoming Attempt For Bitcoin

Tangibles Investing (Housing Market):

Housing outlook 2020: A ‘good year to purchase,’ expert says. JWR’s Comment: I urge greater caution, especially in regions where house and land prices have become “frothy”. Metropolitan California cities, Seattle, and lower Manhattan Island in particular, have seen far too much frothiness. Do not buy at the top. And if you own any rental or “spec” properties there, then I suggest selling them, soon.

Provisos:

SurvivalBlog and its Editors are not paid investment counselors or advisers. Please see our Provisos page for our detailed disclaimers.

News Tips:

Please send your economics and investing news tips to JWR. (Either via e-mail of via our Contact form.) These are often especially relevant, because they come from folks who closely watch specific markets. If you spot any news that would be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers, then please send it in. News from local news outlets that is missed by the news wire services is especially appreciated. And it need not be only about commodities and precious metals. Thanks!




11 Comments

  1. I understand the complexities of minimum wage increases have especially on mom and pop operations, but i also have experience with low wage and high cost of living. Example such as when rent and utilities are 50% to 75% of monthly take home, ever increasing food prices, always higher taxes. I don’t know what the answer is, but the constant lowering of the standard of living is not a good starting point.

    1. We are painted into a corner. There are no ways out that aren’t messy. A systemwide reset is needed and that’s exactly what we won’t get until it’s too late and then we get a collapse. Not a crash but an honest to God collapse. Between now and then will be confusion, consternation, convulsion and pain.

      Don’t remain plugged into a doomed system. Timothy Leary wasn’t exactly a model citizen but his notation to “turn on, tune in and drop out” definitely fits in this economic paradigm. Seriously, who wants to be the guy stoking the engines on the Titanic as the ship is going down? Build for yourself and your family a sustainable Lifeboat and then stock it and train all aboard.

    2. I understand the frustration that a low wage presents when the cost of everything is going up. But the correct response to that problem is to improve your worth to an employer so that they pay you more. The minimum wage was intended as an entry level wage and it cannot and should not simply be raised to make people happy. As Rush would say why stop at $15 why not $20, why not $30 or $45 an hour? The problem for low wage employees is that a higher minimum wage forces marginal employers to fire people, work them fewer hours or to quit business.

      The single biggest group pushing a higher minimum wage are the unions and they are not doing this for the reasons you might think. Their members are all making $35 an hour or more BUT if they can increase minimum wage by 25% they can then force employers to increase their members wage by 25%. They don’t really care about you or that increasing the minimum wage may actually get you fired.

      Another factor is immigration. The farmers want cheap labor. They do not pay their cheap labor the minimum wage they pay them a lot less. So once this cheap foreign labor gets into the country under the premise of being farm labor they drift away from the farms and take jobs in construction and other industries where YOU or your family works and they push you out. More than any other factor cheap foreign labor is holding down wages for Americans. The politicians and economist know this but the farmers have pretty much bought a place at the table and they like things the way they are so it isn’t going to change unless some force is used.

      By the way the $15 an hour minimum wage doesn’t really hurt a “mom and pop” business. Generally these folks work 80 hour weeks for very low income anyway. So if the wage increase raises their competition’s prices the true mom and pop businesses get a pay increase. Look at your typical small Chinese restaurant. Mom and dad own it and work 7 days a week there sometimes 16 hours a day. A couple of their sons and daughters work there as well. More than likely in the kitchen are half a dozen Chinese cooks or food preparers with dubious legal status who work there and everyone is making less than minimum wage and some of them are working under the table. Increasing the minimum wage is likely to put the law abiding restaurants out of business but not the Chinese family restaurant.

      There should be no minimum wage. Sounds counter intuitive but the minimum wage is probably unconstitutional and probably hurts the minimum wage earners the most. Let the employer and employee decide what the wage should be.

      1. Saul several things you missed or got wrong;the other option to avoid minimum wage is automation,go to McDonald’s and the cashiers are replaced with kiosks to take orders,union jobs only pay high hourlys if it is licenced(electrician,plumber) Teamsters local starts at $14 and tops at$19(nonCDL) only insurance and pension better than average(Obama tried to destroy first,corruption destroyed second),unions face the same threat of automation-they want to keep the members not replaced.the reason immigrants take jobs is the underclass and welfare keeping able healthy from needing to work.

  2. When the reset occurs there will be bargains galore in the real estate market.The price of land and homes are so over valued now that it defies imagination.

    Once the stampede to the exit door slows down it will be a buyers market.If your war chest is
    heavy with precious metals you will come out on top of the crash.

    It’s going to be ugly my friends!

  3. About Economy and Finance.
    From USA Today, on October 25, 2016<~~ "Clinton’s 2016 bid draws more Wall Street fundraisers than Obama in 2012."

    "Democrat Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency has drawn more support from Wall Street fundraisers than President Obama received from the industry four years ago, a new analysis shows.

    Clinton’s ranks of elite fundraisers include 201 people who work in the securities and investment sector and dozens more who work in other areas of finance and commercial banking, according to a tally by the Center for Responsive Politics and USA TODAY.

    Together, the broader finance sector has helped collect at least $20 million for her presidential campaign and the Democratic Party.

    In all, Clinton’s 1,370 fundraisers — dubbed “Hillblazers” by the campaign — have bundled together at least $137 million from their friends, family members and business associates to build a money machine that surpasses the fundraising operation that twice helped elect Obama."

    "Thousands of Republican donors avoid Donald Trump" … …"Trump, who also hails from New York, has derided lobbyists, Wall Street interests and many of his party’s establishment figures and has seen many traditional Republican donors refuse to back his candidacy over his incendiary rhetoric about women, Muslims and Latino immigrants. Scores of elected officials, meanwhile, have withdrawn their support for Trump following this month’s disclosure of a 2005 tape of him bragging about kissing and groping women."
    ***********************************************************
    The Fake News earned its nickname. … Plus, the Billionaires and those that control information, political power and lots of money, WANT TRUMP gone.

    Can Trump hang-on to this world and the Presidency? Only God can be sure of that! Make sure to have some 'preps available.' Have some food and a quality water filter available to use. Visit the Survivalblog advertisers for purchases.

    It seems many big companies and many overseas countries do NOT want to see Trump Keeping America Great in 2020. … Elite politics involves some very ruthless people. = We see them complaining on the Fake News constantly.

  4. Apparently, the Federal Reserve can help or hurt the Stock Market; Wall Street.

    “The Fed plans to keep pumping cash”

    “The New York Fed added $83.1 billion in temporary liquidity to financial markets Thursday, and the U.S. central bank looks primed to keep pumping cash for at least the next few months.

    Why it matters: The stock market’s 30% gain in 2019 was in no small part backed by the Fed’s decision to cut U.S. interest rates three times and inject more than $1 trillion of temporary financing into the repo market. It also added more than $400 billion to its balance sheet in the fourth quarter.”
    [Axios site 1/10/2020]

  5. Minimum wage laws: The free market always, always makes the right decision on what the minimum wage should be. When the minimum wage was arbitrarily raised from $5.35 to $7.25, the working wages at places like McDonalds and Burger King was already over $8.00 per hour. The arbitrary raise was not necessary. Businesses that could afford the higher wage were already paying it. Businesses that couldn’t afford the higher wage were still able to get employees who needed more flexibility and were willing to work for the lower wages. Think of the wife and mother who needed to be home when her kids got there from school, or the young person who could only work part time or needed to get work experience before moving on to bigger and better things, a place to start.

    Minimum wage laws radically distort the labor marketplace. Now the politicians want to meddle again. $15.00 minimum wage more than doubles the minimum wage. Most businesses are already paying higher than the current $7.25. The force of government action, federal, state, county, or city, is not necessary and is counterproductive. These actions create the further “income inequality” or “wage disparity” that is already pervasive in the economy. This also further exacerbates the real, tangible inflation that all of us have to live with.

    Just look at the results of the arbitrary minimum wage increases, and the arbitrary changes to the rules and regulations, that cities, counties, and states have imposed, throughout the country. Small businesses are being forced to close, empty storefronts are pervasive, youth unemployment is an obscenity, and the cost of running government and their “programs” has gone through the roof. Politicians and bureaucrats are having a boom economy, the rest of us no so much. Taxes just go higher and higher, as does the real tangible cost of living.

    I could go on and on, but enough for now, you get the idea. Rant over.

  6. Once the government enters the market, it distorts the markets, and free market forces no longer operate correctly. Free market are then no longer truly free. Because the government is involved in so many ways, politically justify further price fixing, as is minimum wage is one example, justifying yet more government involvement, to perpetuate was has been a manage economy. Natural market forces are still present, and eventually dominate, yet is distorted in a reaction to the invasion by the government into the markets, and the distortion therein it created. For example, government’s involvement in health care has created a prices so high, that the average person cannot afford any health care. Another example is the Fed, and the ever continuously growing debt that has cause perpetual price inflation over the decades, a hidden tax that quietly impoverishes most Americans. Over and over, it can be illustrated, that whatever the government touches, it eventually ruins in the end.

    Out here in the boonies, minimum wage is all you’ll get, and nothing more. Credentials are almost irrelevant, unless you are in the trades. Once logging was banned by the government, the largest part of our local economy ceased to exist. If it had not been for the influx of ‘out of staters’ moving to the Redoubt, tourism, and the huge presents of Federal jobs in the area, and massive dependence on welfare, and other forms of assistance, we would be further impoverished. There is a very small middle class. All others are at the extremes, rich and poor. What dominates is a socialist economy and government. I refuse to participate in any way. Live free or die, I do not even accept Medicare or Medicaid… I will live free or die, rather than take part in an evil system that destroys lives, as it pretends to help. Only with that mindset, will we ever have our liberties restored.

  7. BGF, my thoughts exactly. In the 80’s I worked part time, took college classes, paid my way with just 500.00 a year or so in student loans. Seems impossible to do nowadays/ Unless Government gets some common sense or a sense of fiscal responsibility (which ain’t happening) a reset is the only option

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