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The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection

A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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 Mike Whitney Archive
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Work Until You're Dead?
More and more Americans are, and not by choice. They simply don’t have the means to survive otherwise. According to CNN, “Roughly three-quarters of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, with little to no emergency savings…50% have less than a three-month cushion and 27% had no savings at all….” (“76% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck“, CNN Money)... Read More
While Housing Sales Slow
10-year Treasuries veered into the danger zone on Friday as yields broke through the crucial 3 percent barrier signaling a slowdown in housing sales due to higher mortgage rates. Fixed rate mortgages are expected to edge higher even though the rate on the 30-year loan increased to 4.48 percent just days earlier. The Fed’s announcement... Read More
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Slip Sliding Away
According to a new Washington Post-ABC poll, Barack Obama now ranks among the least popular presidents in the last century. In fact, his approval rating is lower than Bush’s was in his fifth year in office. Obama’s overall approval rating stands at a dismal 43 percent, with a full 55 percent of the public “disapproving... Read More
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America's Missing Investors
Guess who’s investing in America’s future? Nobody, that’s who. Just check out this excerpt from an article by Rex Nutting at Marketwatch and you’ll see what I mean. The article is titled “No one is investing in tomorrow’s economy”: “The U.S. economy simply isn’t investing enough to ensure that there will be enough good paying... Read More
It's Closer Than You Think
“We are on the eve of a deflationary shock which will likely reduce equity valuations from very high to very low levels…..it is increasingly likely that one event will be the catalyst to very rapidly change inflationary into deflationary expectations. Indeed, when key prices are already falling across the globe, one should expect one key... Read More
Subprime Auto
Rates are low, credit is easy, underwriting is shoddy, and sales are booming. There’s your thumbnail sketch of today’s “surging” auto market. It’s a carbon copy of the subprime mortgage fiasco that plunged the economy into recession 5 years ago. Now the same nightmare is unfolding in Cartopia, the emerging credit Shangri-la where anyone who... Read More
Wall Street is buzzing, and it’s all about bubbles. In fact, according to Google Trends, interest in the term “stock bubble” was higher in November 2013 than anytime since October 2008. And that should be expected given that the Dow Jones just broke through the 16,000-mark while the NASDAQ sailed-past the 4,000 milestone for the... Read More
Shifty Shinzo's Corporate Welfare Program
Abenomics is based on the idea that if you give rich people a lot of money, they’ll spend it and the economy will get better. There are a few minor flaws to the theory, however, like the fact that it doesn’t work. While trickle down has greatly impacted the sales of Gucci handbags, Farragamo scarves,... Read More
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"Cha-ching!"
Remember how Quantitative Easing was going to “get the banks lending again”? Well, it hasn’t worked that way. In fact, after 4 years of zero rates and $3 trillion in monetary pump-priming, “banks are lending less to small businesses and consumers than before the financial crisis”. (International Business Times) But how can that be, you... Read More
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Stagnation Hysterics
America’s “highest profile economist” thinks we need more asset bubbles to battle negative real interest rates and persistent secular stagnation. In a controversial post on his blogsite, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman argues that bubbles may be necessary to make up for insufficient demand, high unemployment, and sluggish growth. Here’s the clip from his... Read More
She Knows How the Game is Played
“As a first line of defense, we have a variety of supervisory tools, micro- and macro-prudential, that we can use to attempt to limit the behavior that is giving rise to those asset price misalignments.” Janet Yellen’s circular, Greenspan-like response to a simple question about How the Fed should deal with “asset bubbles”. On Thursday,... Read More
Where's the Outrage?
“This was a program (QE) that was devised to help mortgage lending in America…Instead, what we saw was massive Wall Street earnings.” Andrew Huszar, Bloomberg TV Interview A former Federal Reserve official who helped the Central Bank manage its bond buying program, dubbed QE, has admitted that the program is a fraud. In a shocking... Read More
Corporate Plantations to Bolster Growth
“Japan appears to be turning an economic corner.” US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew Japan hasn’t turned the corner. Japan is merely doing what it’s been doing for the better part of the last 15 years, fumbling around with interest rates, fiscal stimulus, and goofy monetary policies in order to siphon more wealth from the working... Read More
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Escape From The Dollar
Paul Craig Roberts thinks the Fed has backed itself into corner. A rise in interest rates would strengthen the dollar, give the dollar new life as world reserve currency, and halt the movement into gold, but a rise in rates would collapse the bond and stock markets and reduce the value of derivatives on the... Read More
“If the dollar does indeed lose its role as leading international currency, the cost to the United States would probably extend beyond the simple loss of seigniorage, narrowly defined. We would lose the privilege of playing banker to the world, accepting short-term deposits at low interest rates in return for long-term investments at high average... Read More
The Fed's Bloated Balance Sheet
Historians often point to October 29th, 1929, as the beginning of the Great Depression, but it really wasn’t. Black Tuesday, as it is known today, was merely the capitulation-phase of a stock market collapse that had begun more than a month earlier. Equities prices had been gyrating wildly since early September edging lower and lower... Read More
"4,594,000 Mortgages Going Unpaid in the United States."
Buying a house is a lot like buying a car. If you don’t look under the hood, you could wind up with a lemon. Only with housing, it’s not as simple as checking the dipstick or looking for oil under the rear axle. No, smart home buyers check the data to see what’s really going... Read More
How Unregulated Banking Triggered the Crash of '08
“Repo has a flaw: It is vulnerable to panic, that is, ‘depositors’ may ‘withdraw’ their money at any time, forcing the system into massive deleveraging. We saw this over and over again with demand deposits in all of U.S. history prior to deposit insurance. This problem has not been addressed by the Dodd-Frank legislation. So,... Read More
Ferraris for the Rich and Bupkis for Everyone Else
Ferrari sales are going gangbusters in Japan, but beer sales have started to fizzle. That’s all you really need to know about Abenomics. According to Bloomberg: “Ferrari said sales in Japan will rise by 30 percent this year….(Sales have already) increased 28 percent in the first six months. Lamborghini sales are also soaring. According to... Read More
The Nightmare Scenario
President Barack Obama is determined to prevail in his battle with GOP congressional leaders on the debt ceiling issue, but not for the reasons stated in the media. Obama is less concerned with the prospect of higher interest rates and frustrated bondholders than he is with the big Wall Street banks who would be thrust... Read More
Operation Enduring Misery Shambles Into its 13th Year
October 7 marked the 12th anniversary of the Afghanistan War, but you wouldn’t know it by reading the papers. In fact, “America’s longest war” has become so unpopular that both the media and the Obama administration have done everything in their power to sweep the whole matter under the rug hoping that people just forget... Read More
Obama's Stealth Attack on Social Security and Medicare
The media is ratcheting up “debt ceiling” hysteria to launch a surprise attack on Social Security and Medicare. President Obama has already stated that he’s willing to cut so called entitlements as part of a broader strategy for reigning in the debt. In 2011, during tense negotiations with GOP congressional leaders Obama made it clear... Read More
Another Slump Ahead
“Slumping asset prices show a recession is probably on its way. … Stocks tend to fall more frequently and further than property values, so they are better recession-predictors.” - IMF research paper by economists John C. Bluedorn, Joerg Decressin and Marco E. Terrones.Bloomberg News The fact that stock prices have been drifting lower, doesn’t prove... Read More
Give the World a Break!
The United States is the world’s biggest pest. It doesn’t matter where you live or what you do, the US will find some excuse to poke its nose in your business and make your life miserable. That’s why the US has so many enemies, because its the world’s biggest budinski. The people in Washington just... Read More
The Abenomics Flimflam
Abenomics is largely a bunko-scam wrapped in public relations gibberish. It has no chance of producing a strong, sustainable economic recovery. The real aim of the policy is to temporarily juice GDP with a sizable blast of fiscal stimulus ($100 billion) so the Bank of Japan can stealthily transfer more money to its chiseling investor... Read More
What's Wrong With This Picture?
After five years of Obama’s economic recovery, the American people are as gloomy as ever. According to a Bloomberg National Poll that was released this week, fewer people “are optimistic about the job market” or “the housing market” or “anticipate improvement in the economy’s strength over the next year.” Also, only 38 percent think that... Read More
The Trouble with ZIRP
The Federal Reserve presently lends money at a lower rate than anytime in history. In fact, the rate at which the Fed lends money is more than a full percentage point below the current rate of inflation. That means the Fed is subsidizing borrowing. Naturally, zero rates create price distortions which are greatly amplified by... Read More
Not Convincing
Fed chairman Ben Bernanke shocked the world on Wednesday when he announced there would be no change in the Fed’s $85 billion-per-month asset purchase program dubbed QE. The announcement sparked a buying frenzy on Wall Street where all three major indices shot to record highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) climbed 146 points to... Read More
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What the Media Didn't Tell You About the Fall of Lehman Bros.
The Lehman Brothers default on September 15, 2008, was the biggest incident of financial terrorism in US history. When Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson and Fed chairman Ben Bernanke convened an emergency meeting with leading members the US Congress and their aides on September 18, 2008, they had already developed a “break the glass”... Read More
Bernanke's Smoke and Mirrors
Mortgage rates are rising and the housing market is getting weaker. In May of 2013, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.59%. Today it is 4.71%, more than a full percentage point higher. That means that the payment on a $200,000 loan is 15 percent more than it would have been just two months ago.... Read More
Bernanke's Triumph
There’s an excellent article in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal that details the ruinous impact of the Fed’s monetary policy. While the real economy has seen no benefit from the Central Bank’s zero rates and quantitative easing (QE), corporations and financial institutions have gone on a borrowing binge that has boosted their leverage to precrisis levels.... Read More
A Giant Sucking Sound
According to a report by Goldman Sachs, approximately 57 percent of the homes that were purchased in the first quarter of 2013 were all-cash deals. In 2005, the peak of the bubble, all cash buyers represented a mere 19 percent of all transactions. The amount of investor capital pouring into housing is unprecedented. Moneybag speculators... Read More
An Interview with Andy Libson
Andy Libson is a member of La Voz, a schoolteacher, and member of United Educators of San Francisco and the reform caucus, Educators for a Democratic Union. He’s been keeping a close eye on Egypt, which he’s written about extensively. Below is an interview Libson did with CounterPuncher Mike Whitney on the recent happenings in... Read More
Time to Run Up the Red Flags!
The mood on Wall Street has changed dramatically since the Fed announced it planned to scale-back QE by the end of 2013. Although the Central Bank continues to purchase $85 billion of US Treasuries (UST) and Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS) per month (as it has since the program was launched nearly a year ago), the expectation... Read More
The White House's Economic Agenda
According to a survey conducted by Gallup on August 15, 2013, Obama’s Economic Approval rating has slipped to 35%. A full two-thirds of the American people are now dissatisfied with Obama’s performance vis a vis the economy. The survey mirrors the results of an earlier poll (Aug 12) which found that a mere “Twenty-two percent... Read More
Because They Did Such a Good Job Last Time
The Obama administration is working on a plan to liquidate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac so that future profits from housing sales and secondary market activity flow exclusively to privately-owned banks and financial institutions. President Obama made the announcement last week in a speech in Phoenix saying that he wanted to “wind down” the two... Read More
A Whirlpool of Speculation
Here are a few headlines you might want to mull-over before you plunk 20 percent down on that $500,000 Tudor in Rancho Mirage: “Mortgage Applications Drop for Seventh Straight Week”, “Homeownership slides to 18 year low”, “Investors start to move out of housing”, “Sellers Worry Rising Rates Will Lower Demand”, “PE Scrambles To Exit Housing... Read More
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An Interview with Author and Revolutionary Eva Golinger
Eva Golinger, winner of the International Award for Journalism in Mexico (2009), named “La Novia de Venezuela” by President Hugo Chávez, is an Attorney and Writer from New York, living in Caracas, Venezuela since 2005 and author of the best-selling books, “The Chávez Code: Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela” (2006 Olive Branch Press), “Bush vs.... Read More
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The Doldrums
Why was Adolph Hitler able to lift Germany out of the Great Depression, when policymakers in the US--particularly the Fed--have failed so miserably? Let's look at the facts: When Hitler came to power in 1933, the German economy was in a shambles. Millions of people were out of work, a number of large banks had... Read More
Spiking Rates Trigger Mortgage Apps Freefall
On Friday, the rate on the 30-year "fixed" mortgage soared to a two-year high of 4.51 percent. That's more than a full percentage point higher that 6 weeks earlier when rates touched bottom at 3.35 percent. The sudden spike in rates has triggered a bloodbath in mortgage applications which have dipped for 4 weeks straight... Read More
Chairman Flipflop Tries to Stem the Bleeding
Well, that didn't take long, did it? It's been less than a month since tough-talking Ben Bernanke threatened to pull the rug out from under the stock market by scaling back on his $85 billion per-month liquidity program called QE, and now, he's done a complete reversal without batting an eye. On Wednesday, Chairman Flipflop... Read More
Another Bubble-Making Farce
Ben Bernanke has an inflation problem. There isn't any inflation and that's a problem. In the last 12 months, consumer prices have risen a mere 1.1 percent which--according to Bloomberg--"matches the smallest increase since records began in 1960". At the same time, the velocity of money (how fast money changes hands) has slowed to a... Read More
The QE Conundrum
Now there's something you don't see every day. On Wednesday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported that the world's biggest economy grew at a measly 1.8 percent, far-below analysts most pessimistic predictions. The news that the US economy had "slowed to a crawl" was immediately felt on Wall Street where jubilant traders loaded up... Read More
Why Bernanke's QE Was the Wrong Policy
The stock market rout continued on Monday as shares dropped sharply in markets around the world. China's Hang Seng was particularly hard hit (down 449 pts) following reports on state media of a "moratorium on transfers, online banking, and counters." The Bank of China's aggressive steps to curtail nonbank "shadow" lending, has intensified a liquidity... Read More
What's Really Driving the Crashing Markets?
Normally, stocks don't fall off a cliff unless the economic data suddenly turns south or there are signs of an emerging crisis, like a run on the shadow banking system or threat to Middle East oil supplies. But neither of these played a part in this week's equities massacre where the Dow Jones Industrial Average... Read More
The Economics of a Fanatical, Rightwing, Militarist Crackpot
Liberal economists in the US are absolutely ga-ga about Abenomics, and for good reason. Under Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's leadership the Bank of Japan (BoJ) has flooded financial markets with money pushing stocks up nearly 80 percent in a matter of months, while $116 billion in fiscal stimulus has turbo-charged the real economy lifting... Read More
Soon the Foreclosure Floodgates Will Open and Prices Will Plunge
Anyone who buys a house in today's market should be aware of the risks. They should know that current prices are not supported by fundamentals, but by unprecedented manipulation by the Fed, the Obama administration, Wall Street Private Equity investors, and the nation's biggest banks. If any of these main-players withdraws or even reduces their... Read More
Another Sign of the Buckling Economy
"If we care about building a fast growing economy that provides opportunity for every American, then we must enact policies that build it from the middle out, not the top down. Tax the wealthy and corporations--and invest that money in the middle class as we once did in this country. Those polices won’t just be... Read More
The NYT Finally Discovers Housing Boom is a Big Fat Fraud
Well, look who finally figured out that the "housing recovery" is a big, fat fraud? The New York Times, that's who. Check out this clip from the Times June 3 edition: "Large investment firms have spent billions of dollars over the last year buying homes in some of the nation’s most depressed markets. The influx... Read More
Bernanke's Madcap Money Printing Fails to Boost Inflation
"Under a fiat money system, a government... should always be able to generate increased nominal spending and inflation, even when the short-term nominal interest rate is at zero." Ben S. Bernanke, "Deflation: Making Sure It Doesn't Happen Here", November, 2002 The US economy is in a liquidity trap which means that the demand for credit... Read More