21 июля, 18:59

The Economic Security of Older Women

Today, the Office of Economic Policy at the Treasury Department released the fourth in a series of briefs exploring the economic security of American households. This brief​ focuses on the economic security of older women. In this brief, we ask: Are older women at greater risk of poverty or being unable to manage their expenses than other populations? Are there specific groups of women at risk? What are the implications for policy? Compared with men, we find that elderly women are much more likely to be economically insecure. We attribute this finding to a variety of factors. Women live longer than men, meaning they have to finance a longer retirement and that they are more likely to reach an age in which they must finance disability costs.  In addition, women tend to have lower lifetime earnings than men. Finally, women are more likely than men to live alone and thus are less likely to live with someone with whom to share economic risks.  In this brief, we assess economic insecurity in a number of ways but focus on two measures: the poverty rate and the “overextended” rate—the share of the population whose spending exceeds what it can afford based on its income and annuitized wealth. We view this latter measure as reflecting economic insecurity, because elderly women who are overextended and on fixed incomes must reduce spending to live within their means. For women with low levels of consumption, this could entail cutting back on necessities like food and medicine. Comparing different measures of economic security, we find that the overextended share of the female population is 29 percent, far higher than the poverty rate of 12 percent. The implication is that economic insecurity is broader than the poverty rate implies. We find that single women are far more economically insecure on all measures than married women and that widowhood dramatically increases the likelihood of becoming insecure relative to remaining married. Widowhood is associated with a large loss in income and wealth; and while widows experience a large drop in household spending at widowhood, they continue to cut spending at rates faster than single women and married households.  We also find that disability is associated with economic insecurity. The median disabled woman’s household assets (including non-liquid assets like housing) are sufficient only to finance six months in a nursing home, and the median disabled woman’s household has financial wealth sufficient to cover less than half a month of nursing home expenses. Women who remain married throughout their elderly years, on the other hand, do not experience high rates of economic insecurity. And holding constant marital status and disability status, we do not observe sharp increases in economic insecurity as women age. Notably, even though the poverty rate rises for women as they age, the overextended rate falls as women rely more on wealth to support themselves.   All told, our findings suggest that public policy should focus on specific risks associated with aging, particularly living alone and living with a disability. We note that married couples might benefit from shifting more of their wealth from periods in which both spouses are alive to periods in which only one spouse is alive. Such an outcome could be accomplished in the private sector with greater use of financial products with survivor benefits. Experts have also suggested ways that public policy could help address the challenge, such as by restructuring Social Security to increase survivor benefits. Looking at disability, we note that while Medicaid and private long-term care insurance provide protection for some households, there is still a large unmet need that is apparent when looking at the economic security risks posed by disability. Karen Dynan is the Assistant Secretary of Economic Policy at the Department of the Treasury.

03 апреля, 14:34

Does The Stock Market’s Slide Signal Regime Shift?

This much is clear: the sharp decline in the S&P 500 yesterday (April 2) confirms that the downside bias in the first three months of the year has spilled over into the second quarter. It’s also obvious that the latest market stumble has inspired a new round of warnings from analysts. CNBC, for example, reports […]

03 апреля, 09:15

New Month, New Quarter, Same Old Selloff

New Month, New Quarter, Same Old Selloff

03 апреля, 04:05

These Companies Are Most Vulnerable To The Surge In LIBOR

Over the weekend, we looked at the notional amount of non-financial Libor-linked debt (so excluding the roughly $200 trillion in floating-rate derivatives which have little practical impact on the real world until there is a Lehman-like collateral chain break, of course at which point everyone is on the hook), to see what the real-world impact of the recent blow out in 3M USD Libor is on the business and household sector. To this end, JPM calculated that based on Fed data, there is a little under $8 trillion in pure Libor-related debt... ... and that a 35bps widening in the LIBOR-OIS spread could raise the business sector interest burden by $21 billion. As we wondered previously, "whether or not that modest amount in monetary tightening is enough to "break" the market remains to be seen." In other words, unless the Fed - and JPMorgan - have massively miscalculated how much floating-rate debt is outstanding, and how much more interest expense the rising LIBOR will prompt, the ongoing surge in Libor and Libor-OIS, should not have a systemic impact on the financial system, or economy. What about at the corporate borrower level? In an analysis released on Monday afternoon, Goldman's Ben Snider writes that while for equities in aggregate, rising borrowing costs pose only a modest headwind, "stocks with high variable rate debt have recently lagged in response to the move in borrowing costs." Goldman cautions that these stocks should struggle if borrowing costs continue to climb - which they will unless the Fed completely reverses course on its tightening strategy - amid a backdrop of elevated corporate leverage and tightening financial conditions. Indeed, while various macro Polyannas have said to ignore the blowout in both Libor and Libor-OIS because, drumroll, they are based on "technicals" and thus not a system risk to the banking sector (former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan once called the Libor-OIS "a barometer of fears of bank insolvency"), what they forget, and what Goldman demonstrates is what many traders already know well: the share prices of companies with high floating rate debt has mirrored the sharp fluctuation in short-term borrowing costs. This is shown below in the chart of 50 S&P 500 companies with floating rate bond debt (i.e. linked to Libor) amounting to more than 5% of total. Here are some details on how Goldman constructed the screen: We exclude Financials and Real Estate, and the screen captures stocks from every remaining sector except for Telecommunication Services. So far in 2018, as short-term rates have climbed, these stocks have lagged the S&P 500 by 320 bp (-4% vs. -1%). The group now trades at a 10% P/E multiple discount to the median S&P 500 stock (16.0x vs. 17.6x). These stocks should struggle if borrowing costs continue to climb, but may present a tactical value opportunity for investors who expect a reversion in spreads. The tightening in late March of the forward-looking FRA/OIS spread has been accompanied by a rebound of floating rate debt stocks and suggests investors expect some mean-reversion in borrowing costs. Goldman also notes that small-caps generally carry a larger share of floating rate debt than do large-caps, which may lead to a higher beta for the data set due to size considerations. In any event, the inverse correlation between tighter funding conditions (higher Libor spreads) and the stock underperformance of floating debt-heavy companies is unmistakable. Finally, traders who wish to hedge rising Libor by shorting those companies whose interest expense will keep rising alongside 3M USD Libor, in the process impairing their equity value, here is a list of the most vulnerable names.

03 апреля, 00:54

5 Best Performing Buy-Ranked Oil Stocks of the First Quarter

The first quarter of the year saw U.S. oil benchmark attain its highest settlement since December 2014.

02 апреля, 23:25

Trump Pushing For Nafta Deal In Next Two Weeks

Having gone nowhere for the past year of Nafta negotiations, the Trump administration is said to be pushing for the U.S., Canada and Mexico to reach a Nafta deal in principle to be announced at the Summit of the Americas in Peru on April 13-14, Bloomberg reported citing three people familiar. The US will host Nafta negotiators in Washington this week, where it hopes to achieve a breakthrough on significant remaining differences, Bloomberg said, adding that under the White House push, leaders of the three nations would be able to announce at regional summit that they’ve reached agreement on the broad outlines of an updated Nafta deal, while technical talks could continue to hammer out the finer details and legal text. While it is unlikely that full deal will be penned, the meetings may make enough progress on issues including automotive rules of origin to host an eighth round of talks with the full negotiating teams in Washington next week. Goal is also to advance as much as possible toward the Trump administration’s goal of an announcement in Peru Still, disagreement persists and significant differences remain on issues ranging from automotive content to government procurement, and there is no assurance an agreement, even in principal, can be reached. As part of the last minute blitz negotiations, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo will travel to Washington for meetings with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Wednesday,  while Trump's adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray - who have been the lead people for managing the relationship between President Donald Trump and his Mexican counterpart Enrique Pena Nieto - will also meet in Washington this week. Separately, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland will travel to Washington to meet with Lighthizer on Friday and may also meet with Mexico’s top Nafta negotiators at the same time. “Canada is committed to concluding a modern, mutually beneficial Nafta as soon as possible,” said Adam Austen, a spokesman for Freeland, while declining to comment on her meeting schedule. In immediate response to the news, both the Mexian peso - which led EM FX losses for much of the day - and the Canadian loonie spiked, after a sharp move higher in the dollar during today's equity selloff depressed the rest of G-10 FX.    

02 апреля, 22:28

For The First Time Ever, Younger Americans Are Less Optimistic Than Their Parents

Superficially, last week's University of Michigan consumer confidence report could not have been better: rising above 101, it was the highest number since 2004 (even if it was driven entirely by rising optimism from poorer households, while those in the top third have started to lose faith in Trumponomics). However, less noted among the various survey questions was one troubling finding: for the first time in history, Americans younger than 35 are less optimistic, - and have less confidence in the economy - than older Americans, those aged 55 and over, which includes their parents. As the Deutsche Bank chart below shows, this has never happened in the 60 years the University of Michigan has been collecting data. This stark reversal in outlooks is hardly a surprise: as MartkWatch notes, Millennials shoulder more student loan debt than any other generation and face house prices that are far higher than their parents did at their age. Student loan debt has reached $1.4 trillion as the cost of college has soared. Meanwhile, spending "only" 30% of their income on rent or a mortgage, a golden rule for decades, is near-impossible for most young Americans. While many are quick to blame "selfish" Boomers for creating the perfect storm for their offspring and future generations, Americans appear - at least on paper- to be concerned about the economic prospects of those who come after them, even if the numbers don't look good. As MarketWatch reminds us, a 2017 Pew study found that just 37% of Americans believe today’s children will grow up to be better off financially than their parents: roughly 49% of 18- to 29-year-olds believe that the next generation will be worse off, while more than half, or 61% of Americans aged 50 and over believe the next generation will be worse off. “The U.S. may be one of the richest countries in the world, with one of the highest per capita gross domestic products among major nations, but Americans are fairly pessimistic about economic prospects for their country’s children,” said the Pew study author, Bruce Stokes. And while an economic depression has yet to be observed, the signs are unmistakable: for the first time in more than 130 years, Americans aged 18 to 34 were more likely to live with their parents than with a spouse or partner in their own household, partly due to millennials getting married later in life and spiraling student debt. It's not just doom and gloom, and record interest-bearing liabilities: Millennials also have assets. A recent BofA report found that nearly half (47%) of working millennials have $15,000 or more in savings and 16% have $100,000 or more in savings. On the other hand, the definition of assets was a little "loose":  BofA asked about the total amount of savings, including bank savings/checking accounts, IRA, 401(k) and other retirement or investment accounts. A nine-year bull market has clearly helped. In any event, the findings stand in sharp contrast to Americans as a whole, who are saving less money than ever (of course, if much of these savings were invested in cryptocurrencies, it is about to get even uglier). Speaking to MarketWatch, Peter Schiff had a far bleaker take. Schiff said the middle class has been gutted by over-regulation, an escalating cost of living and stagnant wages. “Families are smaller,” he told MarketWatch. "They can’t afford to raise their kids or send them to college without taking out a lot of student debt. It’s too expensive. People are getting married later in life and many don’t get married at all." He's right of course, but as usual the time to panic will come only after the next event, which will be either an economic depression, or a stock market crash, both of which would be for the ages.

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02 апреля, 20:09

🇮🇳 At least seven killed in India protests over caste discrimination | Al Jazeera English

At least seven people have died in India during angry protests over caste discrimination. Dalits, the country’s least-privileged caste, say a supreme court judgement last month weakens their protections. The ruling made it harder to prosecute officials accused of discriminating against their members. Al Jazeera’s Peter Sharp reports. - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/

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02 апреля, 19:15

Tesla Model 3 First Drive Review | The very sharp tip of the EV spear

When the Tesla Model 3 appeared in production form last summer, the hype was already at a fever pitch after months — years, even — of anticipation. With hundreds of thousands of reservations already on the books, it appeared this could be the car that transforms Tesla from a startup to a true competitor. Then, crickets, for most customers anyway. Production delays have left customers frustrated and analysts speculative about the company's future. With that in mind, we found an owner

02 апреля, 18:09

Subprime Auto Bubble Bursts As "Buyers Are Suddenly Missing From Showrooms"

It was less than a month ago when we showed a series of "10 charts revealing an auto bubble on the brink", and which laid out several very troubling trends, including i) the average new vehicle loan hit a record high $31,099; ii) the average loan for a used auto climbed to a record high $19,589... ... iii) the average monthly payment for a new and used vehicle hitting an all-time high of $515... ... iv) the average auto loan hit a duration of 69 months, while the average used vehicle loan has a term of just over 64 months, both rising to new record highs for yet another quarter. ... v) the average price paid for a new vehicle also hitting an all-time high of $35,176, according to Edmunds.com, almost entirely as a result of a massive expansion in consumer credit and record amounts of auto loans. Summarizing the above is simple: cheap credit leads to easy lending conditions, and record prices as everyone floods into the market with lenders hardly discriminating who they give money to. But, as we said in March, the key data which seems to suggest that the auto bubble may have run its course came  from the following charts which showed that traditional banks and finance companies are starting to aggressively slash their share of new auto originations while OEM captives are being forced to pick up the slack in an effort to keep their ponzi schemes going just a little longer. Commenting on these trends, Melinda Zabritski, Experian's senior director of automotive finance solutions warned that "we're certainly at a point where affordability is a question. When you look at how much income you need to support that payment, it certainly is higher than your average individual income." And nowhere was this more obvious than the auto sector's overreliance on stretched subprime borrowers, who remained the marginal source of auto demand as long as rates remained low. However, with short term rates rising, with Libor soaring, low rates are increasingly a thing of the past. "For some buyers, this is going to come as a surprise," said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of Industry Analysis for Edmunds.com. "For buyers with average credit scores, the rates are higher than a couple years ago and that will mean a higher monthly payment." And, as we said last month, it will mean for a sharp drop in demand, especially among the most stressed consumer groups. * * * Today, this was confirmed when as Bloomberg reported this morning that "Subrprime new-car buyers suddenly go missing from US showrooms." Just as we expected, between record prices (courtesy of what until recently was easy, cheap debt), record loan terms, and rising rates, shoppers with shaky credit and tight budgets have suddenly been squeezed out of the market. In fact in the first two months of this year, sales were flat among the highest-rated borrowers, while deliveries to those with subprime scores slumped 9 percent, according to J.D. Power. Confirming our observations, Bloomberg notes that while lenders took chances on consumers with lower FICO scores after the recession, partially on the notion that borrowers prioritize car payments ahead of other expenses, several financial companies started to tighten their standards more than a year ago. The result is a surge in the amount of captive financing shown in the chart above, which as we warned is the clearest indication yet of the popping car bubble. And so, the quiet withdrawal of what was arguably the most important marginal US auto buyer - whose entire purchasing power came thanks to cheap, easy debt - means that carmakers are about to report sales for March which slowed to the most sluggish pace since Hurricane Harvey ravaged dealerships across the Texas Gulf Coast in August, which boosted an auto replacement buying spree and kicked 6 months of life into the struggling US auto sector, according to Bloomberg’s survey of analyst estimates. But back to the subprime bubble, which some refuse to call it what it is: "There’s not a bubble of subprime. But as interest rates rise, it’s going to affect” those customers first, said Dan Mohnke, senior vice president of U.S. sales for Nissan Motor Co. “That’s the part of the market that’s really coming down.’’ Call it whatever you want, but the outcome is clear: even the recent modest increase in interest rates has made it prohibitively expensive for most "stressed" households to purchase cars on credit, meaning that the higher rates go, the fewer subprime-driven demand there will be. Westlake Financial Services has specialized in subprime lending since its founding in Los Angeles thirty years ago. Subprime loans now make up just 55% of its portfolio, down from 75% five years ago, said David Goff, vice president of marketing. “Subprime losses increased maybe to pre-recession levels a year or so ago,” Goff said in an interview last month. “That caused you to require a little bit more from the subprime customer. And those people, instead of buying a new car, are switching over to a used car.” Which also explains why used car prices, until recently, were at all time highs. After all, if it is very easy to get the required subprime credit, why discriminate based on cost: just buy. And now it's payback time, as the long-overdue disappearance of a major source of auto demand -the US subprime buyer - means the long-overdue market clearing "price correction" (one can use a harsher term here as well) is imminent. * * * There is a silver lining: those responsible buyers who waited until prices dropped, will soon have a bonanza of options as the millions of "lightly used cars" and SUVs are now coming off lease, providing a good supply of better-equipped,  nearly new models at falling prices.

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02 апреля, 17:50

Poll: 77 percent say major news outlets report 'fake news'

President Donald Trump is not alone in thinking media outlets spread "fake news."More than 3-in-4 Americans — 77 percent — said they believe that major traditional television and newspaper media outlets report “fake news” according to a new Monmouth University poll released Monday, marking a sharp increase in distrust of those news organizations from a year prior when 63 percent registered concerns about the spread of misinformation. Among those, 31 percent said they believe those media outlets spread "fake news" regularly and 46 percent said it happens occasionally. The findings also showed Americans diverging on what constitutes "fake news," with 65 percent saying it applies broadly to the editorial decisions outlets make over what topics to cover and 25 percent more narrowly defining it to only apply to the spread of factually incorrect information. The "fake news" moniker, which has become a rallying cry for Trump and his supporters, surprisingly gained popularity across partisan lines, including among Democrats. According to the Monmouth findings, 61 percent of Democrats believe outlets spread misinformation, up from 43 percent from last year. Belief in the spread of "fake news" by major news outlets also rose from 2017 to now among Republicans, up from 79 to 89 percent, and independents, rising from 66 to 82 percent. Americans are also increasingly wary of the motivations behind allegedly misleading coverage, with a plurality of Americans — 42 percent — saying they believe major outlets disseminate misinformation to push a political agenda. Eighty-three percent, according to the poll, said they believe outside interest groups try to plant fake stories in major publications to spread "fake news." Americans said they think the trend is particularly pervasive on social media, with 87 percent saying interest groups try to plant fake news on sites like Facebook and YouTube. The president took to Twitter on Monday morning to blast "Fake News Networks" — a nickname he has used to pillory CNN — for running critical pieces of Sinclair, the broadcasting giant that reportedly made dozens of local news anchors reads script warning about the spread of misinformation in the media."So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased. Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke," Trump wrote.The Monmouth University poll polled 803 adults from March 2 to 5 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

02 апреля, 16:47

Stock Market News For April 2, 2018

U.S. stock markets surged on Thursday, driven by a rebound in tech majors

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02 апреля, 15:52

PVH Corp. (PVH) Soars: Stock Adds 5.2% in Session

PVH Corp. (PVH) was a big mover last session, as the company saw its shares rise more than 5% on the day.

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02 апреля, 15:47

Chemours (CC) Looks Good: Stock Adds 5.4% in Session

Chemours (CC) saw a big move last session, as its shares jumped more than 5% on the day, amid huge volumes.

02 апреля, 15:42

Energizer Holdings (ENR) Soars: Stock Adds 12.4% in Session

Shares of Energizer Holdings (ENR) rose over 12% yesterday.

02 апреля, 15:37

Jagged Peak (JAG) Jumps: Stock Rises 11%

Shares of Jagged Peak (JAG) rose 11% on Friday.

02 апреля, 15:00

Five Success Secrets To Stay Sharp After Being Laid Off

For those who think being in transition is easy, it’s not. Finding a job is a full-time job.

02 апреля, 12:00

‘It sucks’: Senators fume over McConnell’s tight grip

The GOP leader promised a free-wheeling Senate. The numbers show it’s been anything but that lately.

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02 апреля, 08:30

Monday briefing: Chinese space station falls into Pacific Ocean

Tiangong-1 mostly burned up in the atmosphere, says Beijing … teachers buy shoes for poverty-stricken pupils … and rise of the ultramarathon machineHello – Warren Murray delivering another short and sharp bank holiday briefing. Continue reading...

02 апреля, 01:15

The Future Ain't What It Used To Be

Authored by Chris Martenson via PeakProsperity.com, Looks like we're in for a much rockier ride than many expect... This marks our our 10th year of doing this.  And by “this”, we mean using data, logic and reason to support the very basic conclusion that infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible.  Surprisingly, this simple, rational idea -- despite its huge and fast-growing pile of corroborating evidence -- still encounters tremendous pushback from society. Why? Because it runs afoul of most people's deep-seated belief systems. Our decade of experience delivering this message has hammered home what behavioral scientists have been telling us for years -- that, with rare exceptions, we humans are not rational. We're rationalizers. We try to force our perception of reality to fit our beliefs; rather than the other way around. Which is why the vast amount of grief, angst and encroaching dread that most people feel in western cultures today is likely due to the fact that, deep down, whether we're willing to admit it to ourselves or not, everybody already knows the truth: Our way of life is unsustainable. In our hearts, we fear that someday, possibly soon, our comfy way of life will be ripped away; like a warm blanket snatched off of our sleeping bodies on a cold night. The simple reality is that society's hopes for a "modern consumer-class lifestyle for all" are incompatible with the accelerating imbalance between the (still growing) human population and the (increasingly depleting) planet's natural resources. Basic math and physics tell us that the Earth's ecosystems can't handle the load for much longer. The only remaining question concerns how fast the adjustment happens. Will the future be defined by a "slow burn", one that steadily degrades our living standards over generations? Or will we experience a sudden series of sharp shocks that plunge the world into chaos and conflict? It’s hard to say. As Yogi Berra famously quipped, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”  So, it's left to us to remain open-minded and flexible as we draw up our plans for how we’ll personally persevere through the coming years of change. But even while the specifics about the future elude us today, “predicting” the macro trends most likely to influence the coming decades is very doable: Rising trends: Populism in politics Federal debt levels Geopolitical tensions Interest rates Falling trends: Funding levels for pensions The numbers of insects world wide Confidence in the future among the younger generations Wealth and income equality Trends can be expected to continue until they change.  Therefore making "predictions" on trends is like making a "prediction" about which way an already tossed ball will travel. It's not really a prediction at all, but a statement of observed data. These two lists bring to mind another great Yogi Berra quote: No, the future certainly isn’t what it used to be. Once it was a place in which you could invest towards your hopes and dreams, confident that conditions would be better for your children than they were for you. That’s no longer the case. The defining trends in play are all working to degrade, rather than enhance, our future prospects. Which is why it's little surprise that millennials aren’t saving for retirement. Here's the dim view many of them hold: “In general, I regard the future as a multitude of possibilities, but most of them don't look good,” Elias Schwartzman, 29, a musician, told me. “When I'm at retirement age, around 2050, I think it's possible we'll have seen a breakdown of modern society.” Schwartzman said that he saw the future as encompassing one of two possibilities: an apocalyptic “total breakdown of industrial society,” or “capitalism morphing into a complete plutocracy.” “I think the argument can be made that we're well on the way to that reality,” he added. Wood, 32, a political consultant, told me via Twitter that she felt similarly. “I don’t think the world can sustain capitalism for another decade,” she explained. “It’s socialism or bust. We will literally start having resource wars that will kill us all if we don’t accept that the free market will absolutely destroy us within our lifetime [if] we don’t start fighting its hegemony,” she added. (Source – Salon) As someone who tracks economic, environmental and energy data closely, these views are neither surprising nor really debatable.  They are merely trend extrapolations, which are difficult to dismiss. What the older generations don't yet understand is that the economic and social models that rewarded them so richly are not doing the same for younger folks.  In fact, those old models are visibly breaking down. And confidence in them is failing, too. Younger people are increasingly seeing that the model of extractive, exponential growth (which is often errantly termed “capitalism” when, as practiced, it should be termed “corporate socialism”) has no future.  And of course, they are right. But regardless of age, anyone with an open mind should be able to identify that something is wrong with the story of "endless growth".  The evidence is pretty much everywhere we look: (Source) If we're willing to entertain the possibility that infinite exponential growth is impossible, and we extrapolate from there, what sort of economic trajectory would we expect to see as growth peters out?  Exactly the sort we see in the above chart.  Lower and slower growth that finally peters out and then slips into reverse for the rest of the story. Sociologically, we’d expect people to be nervous, anxious, and scared as their dominant cultural narrative is increasingly revealed to be no longer viable. Ask yourself: is the world becoming calmer or more volatile? The rash of mass shootings, anti-establishment election victories, prescription drug epidemics, and returning nuclear war fears make the answer sadly obvious. Biophysically, we'd expect to see key resources and species populations depleting at alarming rates -- which we are. This is due to diminishing returns: nearly every planetary resource is getting harder and more expensive to obtain. Mars anyone? In a desperate attempt to mask the costs of of slower and lower growth, the world's central banking cartel has deployed its  “one weird trick”: lowering interest rates to historic rock-bottom levels. This has allowed for more debt to be crammed into the system for a few more years, to keep the mirage of the party continuing for just a little bit longer.  Because of that hail Mary, we have ended up in this very bizarre situation where our debt has been growing at twice the rate of our income -- which clearly will end up in a solvency crisis: Perversely, the central banks are doing everything in their power to defend and propagate this unsustainable status quo, even though fourth grade math tells us it will surely end in ruin. How is it possible that this very simple observation eludes so many of those in positions of power?  You’d have to be an intellectual yet idiot to hold the view that debts can forever compound at faster rate than income.  Further, we find that when the US government's deficit spending is stripped out from GDP growth, there actually hasn’t been any economic growth at all for years: (Source) The US has been going deeper and deeper in debt simply to maintain the appearance of "economic growth".  This whole illusion is being limped along for just a little while longer. For what purpose? And why? Both excellent questions without a good answer.  You should be asking yourself what "success" looks like here.  What's the end game?  More growth?  Okay, then what?  More growth?  Keep going along that line of thinking.  Take as much time as you need. Clearly there's an end to that story somewhere.  Growth ceases.  Presumably smart people in power get this, too, although they'll never admit it publicly so as not to spook the herd.  Looking at the number of very well-connected and wealthy elites busily arranging bolt-hole properties to retreat to 'just in case', they're already well ahead of the general public in preparing for the tribulations to come. All of which brings us to the very real prospect of war, as that has long been the favored path of politicians seeking to deflect public ire from their own policy failures.  I worry that a major military conflict is dangerously close at hand.  The ridiculous UK government narrative around the Skripal poisonings (which remains utterly illogical from start to finish) used to seriously degrade relationships between Russia and NATO has all the hallmarks of contrived political operation. Added to the brewing geopolitical risk is the very likely prospect of the bursting of The Mother Of All Bubbles. When (not if, sadly) that happens, it will be truly catastrophic to every financial market in the world, and especially damaging to the western economies. So the race is on. Will the bubble burst first? Or can the political class engineer a massive military distraction beforehand? Regardless of who “wins” that race, you need to be physically, emotionally and financially prepared for these outcomes.  PeakProsperity.com's (free) What Should I Do? guide is an essential resource for those not yet fully prepped, as well as is our Self-Assessment. Yes. Things are that serious.  If you're not yet an enrolled subscriber to PeakProsperity.com, please consider becoming one now.  2018 is looking to be the shoo-in candidate for "The Year Everything Changed". Interest rates are finally rising. Volatility is finally returning to the financial markets. Oil prices are threatening to finally return to the critical $70/bbl range. The populace is finally waking up to the extent of the abuse perpetrated on their safety, personal data, and civil liberties. The crypto bubble has finally burst.  So many long-term trends that have defined the (false) sense of 'prosperity' over the past eight years are ending now. What ensues will be fast-paced disruption. By enrolling, you'll stay abreast of developments and be able to position yourself (and your wealth) accordingly, benefiting from our daily work to harvest and synthesize all the complex information so you don’t have to.  You’ll support will also help our ongoing efforts to bring Peak Prosperity's alternative message and insights to a greater percentage of the general public, who desperately need this information to counter the "Don't worry, everything is awesome!" narrative prevalent in our captive mass media. In this vein, in Part 2: Everything Is Suddenly Deteriorating, Fast we analyze the recent whipsaw volatility that has broken out in the financial markets and explain why it, along with other markers we've been watching out for, indicates that the markets are poised to fall dramatically further from here -- whether war breaks out or not. But even if this is as far as you're going to read, please get your preparations in place and get ready to hold fast.  Things are only going to get bumpier from here. Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)