Question Answered

Question from my good friend JJ:

Thank you! Always love reading your blog. Regarding unemployment are there any studies you are aware of that tells us how many people are out of work but their unemployment payments have run out? It seems they drop off the radar?

It’s a great question and here is a graphic of the answer which is called the Labor Force Participation Rate:


As you can see, the number of people who can but are not in the “labor force” is at a multi decade low.  If you are out of work and have not actively looked for a job in the LAST 30 DAYS, you are magically teleported from “unemployed” to not in the labor force anymore.  All I can say is what a farce and total manipulation of the numbers.


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Victory Lap….or?

I find it quite interesting that our president is currently on a “victory lap tour” both here and abroad. He actually gave David Cameron “advice” on how to “run” the British economy.  He also scolded the British people to vote “stay” on the Brexit vote, something the Brits I talked to were very resentful of (good for them…they saw through him big time).  I find the notion that a head of state can actually think he or she “runs” the economy insightful into today’s elite ruling class  dominated global politics. The truth is you and I run the economy. The best one can hope for is that the global elite ruling class doesn’t  screw it up too much during their tenure.  Sadly, I don’t think that is the case for the US.

Expanding on this, let me explain what has happened over the last 7 1/2 years in relatable terms. On his first day as president, Barack Obama walks into the oval office and finds the rarest of credit cards: it has no credit limit, no monthly payment required  and the accumulated interest rate is near zero percent. WOW, what an opportunity!  The question is:  When do the minimum monthly payments start to kick in?  What will the rate of interest be?  No one actually knows…that was not in the credit card agreement.  In fact, there is no agreement, there is just debt.

This is what you hear on the victory lap tour:

Unemployment has been cut in half

The economy measured as GDP has expanded

The stock market and home values have risen greatly

Everyone is happy, right?  Not exactly.  If they were, there would be overwhelming support for Obama’s anointed  successor.  Instead there is the “Bern” and “The Donald”…why?  Maybe the numbers just aint what they appear to be.

Here is what you don’t hear and but what I focus on:

The Federal debt will more than doubled from 9 Trillion to over 20T by the time Obama’s term is done.  As I pointed out in my prior writings, is “economic growth” based entirely on debt, real growth?  Trust me, we are going to find out and you will not like the results.

What are the key issues as I see them?

Do you know Obama is the FIRST President in our history to have sub 3% growth in the economy every year of his tenure?  Government tax receipts are actually down this year…how can this be if the economy is “expanding” as he claims on his victory tour?

Average household income is down 8% over the last 7 1/2 years.  Amazing, isn’t it?  We don’t hear this on the victory lap, do we?  Any wonder the average American is not happy…not feeling it?  Here is the ugly truth:  Most of the money printing that Obama has happily supported through zero percent interest rates has gone to the wealthy.  Anyone who owns assets, has done well.  The problem is, the average American doesn’t have much in the way of assets, particularly after the housing market imploded in 2007/2008.  There was a recent Federal Reserve survey ( asking if the survey taker could afford a “surprise” expense of $400 out of cash reserves.  Nearly half said no…think about that, HALF could not handle a $400 outlay.  The survey was aimed at the middle class.

 So, why is household income down?  I believe there is a new “class” that has been created that I call LMUP, which stands for Lower Middle/Upper Poor.  Who or what created it?  Obama along with Nancy Pelosi (who famously said we need to pass it so we know what is in it: ) who proudly pushed and forced “Obama Care” on the American people.  LMUP was created by the 30 hour per week provision which states an employer is not mandated to provide health insurance for anyone who works 30 hours per week or less.  The millions of full-time jobs that were lost during the Great Recession have been replaced by lower paying and lower hour jobs that have no benefits.  Want to know why the unemployment rate is so “low” (at least on the victory lap speeches)?  It’s because that one full-time job has been replaced by two or three jobs for the same person…get it?  One person, three jobs…that unemployment rate really looks great, right?  We know many people dealing with this…they are not happy and we are not happy for them either.

Obama’s zero interest rate policy has destroyed the business cycle, in other words Capitalism is on the ropes.  Driven by this policy, massive mal-investments have taken place.  One (of many) examples is the borrowing by the largest corporations in America:  Nine trillion since 2009…with far more being spent on stock buybacks and dividend increases than new Research & Development and build out of plant and equipment.  New jobs depend on the latter, not the former.  Another example is savers have been severely punished.  There is no rate of interest on savings anymore.  If you are retired and dependent on some rate of return, you have to dramatically increase the risk profile of your savings.  So those savings are now at risk in order to generate at least a bit of return.  When the cost of capital is free (amazingly in some countries their sovereign debt has NEGATIVE interest rates where you pay the government to borrow from you!) the natural “gravity” of Capitalism is completely lost.  Smart, productive investment is replaced by bad, bad ones.

Here is another example, no words needed:

  Auto Loans

Many (most) of these cars were purchased with debt.


The ultimate death knoll for free market capitalism was this:        Our very own President declaring you cant do it without government.  I happen to disagree…strongly.  Next blog, I will get into some ideas on what we can do to change all of this.  Note:  Hillary is NOT the answer.  Also, this is an amazing article written by Peggy Noonan, I hope you read it:

Until Next Time….


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The Vote is In…

Brexit wins 52% to 48%…wow!  I was up until 2:30am watching the reaction in the UK and around the world.  If you are invested in any of the major stock markets, you are getting hammered.  If you own precious metals like gold and silver, you are very happy today…gold is at &1322 per ounce, up almost $60.

However the vote turned out, I totally respected the outcome.  Now, I have to say I am quite happy for the UK and their decision.  By nature, I like a decentralized structure over the opposite.  No one knows in the short run what all will happen, but I am optimistic about the long run for the UK.

One of my friends sent over a 30 page review on the vote.  It pointed out that financial services are the #1 export and are priced at approximately a 35% premium to mainland Europe.  I would suggest to my UK friends that are concerned about the vote to “leave” that your financial services business will be fine…you don’t get that kind of premium unless you are very good at what you do.

Finally, I personally bought a meaningful amount of British Pounds this morning…I believe 100% in the UK and it’s people.

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The Vote…

Tomorrow, Britain votes on whether to stay or leave the EU. I just returned from my adopted “second country” last week. While there, I conducted my own survey on the vote: In or Out? Innie or Outie (thankfully only one person thought I was talking belly buttons). I queried around 40 people and can say my survey was very close, with the tilt towards exit. The other question I asked is are you happy you kept the British Pound rather than adopt the Euro. EVERY single person said they were very happy they kept the Pound.
So, why would you want to stay in a situation where unelected, elitist career politicians decide your fate as a sovereign country?
I wish my many friends in the UK the best of luck tomorrow…the results should be interesting to say the least.

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The IBX Nail Strengthener Revolution Takes Hold in the US

Just received this…IBX truly is a nail revolution!

Hello, Linda..

I was privileged to take your informative IBX class a couple of months ago in Pasadena. My nails were a mess. You examined my hands and advised me not to wear gel polish until my deformed nails straightened out. I took your advice.

I’m delighted to tell you that, with the help of IBX, my nails have not only resumed their natural, flatter contour instead of the impossible C-curve I’d been forcing on them with the gel, the IBX I’ve been applying once a week has worked wonders on restoring the damage caused by all those years of gels. They’re smooth again, growing out nicely, and are strong like they never were before.

I’ve become such an advocate for IBX. I’m living proof.

Best regards, and thank you again for your communications, your instruction, and your marvelous products.

-=- Paula Morris

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Capitalism, Socialism, Debt and Interest

I get it…people are disillusioned.  Disillusioned to the point they think a socialist may be the answer to an improved life.  The “Bern” is in…The “Donald” is on a roll…HRC, who knows?  Capitalism and free markets are what built our country into greatness.  It is now viewed as evil and associated with huge, global conglomerates that are greedy and bad for the individual. Today, I would like to propose Capitalism is the answer and not the problem.

First, I want to share my perspective on how we arrived to this point.  The two key measures that I focus on (there are many more like the status of the US dollar, but I believe these to be central) are:

  1. The Federal Reserve zero interest rate policy for the last eight years.
  2. The US debt load and the interest owed on it.

We all remember the “great recession” that occurred in 2008 and 2009.  In overly simple terms, it was the result of three Federal Reserve induced bubbles.  The first being Y2K and NASDAQ 5000.  Huge amounts of money was printed to prep for what was viewed as a potential disaster with computers worldwide.  The internet craze was on fire and lots of that money led to the NASDAQ bubble.  Y2K came and went and the NASDAQ collapsed over the next two years, down by over 80%.  That led to a recession.  What did the Federal Reserve do?  Would it surprise you that they printed a load of new money?  That money directly guided us into the next bubble:  Residential real estate.  Ahh, the days of zero percent down, “liar” loans;  home flippers; and of course low-interest rates. 

Guess what?  If a person has no equity in a house and that house’s value drops, what happens?  They leave the keys on the counter and leave.  Lots and lots of people left keys on counters.  And lots and lots of banks, big and small, were technically insolvent…not just here, but all over the world.  You see…even the banks overseas invested in those mortgages and in a hugely leveraged way.  Some mortgage packages were levered 10, 20, 30 times.

 The US entered a severe, fear filled recession.  Markets collapsed (not just the stock market, the bond market collapsed, the housing market imploded, the banking system was on life support).  Enter the Federal Reserve (again) with interest rates lowered many times until they hit zero:

Fed Rates

And zero they have been ever since until they were recently raised ¼ of a percent.  What’s wrong with zero rates?  Everything in which a free market/capitalistic system functions.  Savers are punished…the earn nothing on their savings, in fact saving is a bad thing.  What do large corporations do when rates are close to zero?  They borrow and borrow BIG.  The S&P 500 companies have borrowed BIG over the last five years and used that money to buy back shares and raise dividends.  However, research and development and capital spending have remained stagnant…that’s not a good thing, growth comes from the last two activities and not the first two. 

 Who else has borrowed BIG?  The US government…and they (we) are the biggest of all.  In the years since our current president took office, the Federal debt has increased from 9.0 trillion to 18.2 trillion at the end of 2015.  It’s now over 19T.  We spend more than we take in every year…the gap is debt.


The “official” statistics suggest our economy is growing.  It is, but barely and entirely on the back of new debt:



Seems to me that 9 trillion would have produced more growth?  The 2016 1st quarter GDP has come in at an ANNUAL growth rate of 0.25%.   The real median annual income in the United States has fallen from $57,795 in 2008 to $55,218 today. There are now twice as many Americans on food stamps than before the financial crisis.

 Why is no one talking about this?  Isn’t this a problem?  In short, yes…it’s a massive problem, but the symptoms have not been expressed yet.  It’s like the years of plaque build-up are not seen or noticed until the heart attack occurs.

 At current interest rates (1/4%) we pay $48 billion in interest.  What happens if/when rates go back to “normal”…say the 5% we had a few years back in 2007?  We would owe a WHOOPING 950 BILLION!  In 2015 Federal revenue was $3.1 trillion…by my calculation, that would consume 31% of all our revenues.

Houston, I believe we have a problem…a big one.

That’s if for today…next I will bring this full circle to capitalism and this election’s highly charged emotion.



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Odds and Ends

I didn’t have time to get to my odds and ends before our flight left for Honolulu, so here goes:

  • Plane Economics:  Our flight from Melbourne to Sydney was packed full and seats were very tight.  A fellow named Clint was seated next to me and immediately started to critique what I was reading, which was an article against Keynesian economic policies (he thought it was for).  So for once, someone was next to me who actually even knew what Keynes was all about and I may have stimulating conversation.  The problem:  He was intoxicated beyond comprehension.  Oh well…close, but no cigar.
  • See the movie “Trumbo”…it is not only very, very well done but the story (which is true) is about turbulent times in the 1950’s and 60’s and the campaign to fight/eliminate communism in the US.  It illustrates that a concern/fight can go way to far and actually violate the rights and lives of people who have done nothing wrong or illegal.  Fear can be a powerful poison…we need to reasoned and balanced when confronted with it.
  • If I own a house worth $400K with a loan of $200K and I “improve” it with 200K of further debt, the house is now valued at 600K with 400K of debt.  Am I any better off?  Some would point to the higher valuation.  The factual answer is it’s neutral…my net worth in the house is still 200K.  I would say I am worse off because I have doubled my debt, am leveraged higher and thus have more risk in a down market.  In the last seven years under Obama, the US has printed and borrowed 7.5 trillion dollars.  Are we better off?
  • According to Ted Cruz, I am a “low information” voter since I do not support him.  Is that the height of arrogance?  What do you expect from a politician…he may be a outsider, but he is a politician through and through.
  • Earnings for companies in the S&P 500 fell 3.4% from last year, according to research firm FactSet. It was the third straight quarter of declining earnings for the S&P 500. The last time earnings fell three straight quarters was during the financial crisis.

    It was also the fourth consecutive quarter of declining sales. That also hasn’t happened since the financial crisis.

  • Idea:  Given that central banks around the world have borrowed, printed and even gone to negative interest rates (if you have not heard, that means YOU pay the bank for the privilege of holding YOUR money and seven countries currently have them) and none of it has worked…why not let deflation run it’s course and go from there?    
  • Linda and I are looking forward to visiting the UK and the Netherlands at the end of this week.  We will spend some time Friday with Louella-Belle, our UK partners…great people who do a great job.  Monday we meet with our new Italian distributor (in London) to plan our launch.  Then onto the Netherlands for a whirlwind tour with Tracy and Piet of Gorge Nails doing IBX Certification classes, meeting Nail Professionals and Salon Owners.  Going to be great…then home and no travel for a couple of months.

Until next time-

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