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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Consumer prices beat consensus estimates for the fifth consecutive month. Again, we're told it's transitory. It was another bad month of weather for the harvests just like it's another bad month for the cost of cars. Even if the annualized rate falls back from 6% to 2%--which it won't--it wouldn't be transitory. Transitory requires the... Read More
Search interest in the term "inflation" is so far 50% higher this May than it has been in any other month since Google began tracking query data nearly two decades ago: Nothing to see here. It hasn't anything to do with ordinary people seeing consumer prices going up in their everyday lives, no siree!
The Ron Paul moment may not have passed. Perhaps after lying dormant for a decade it is poised to return with a vengeance: Or perhaps having non-Democrats split and most of the left arrayed in opposition is too hostile an environment for the moment's renaissance. If it's not an idea whose time has yet come,... Read More
If you have not yet reached forty years of age, you had not until this last month experienced the rate of consumer price increases Americans experienced in April. We have to journey all the way back to 1981 for that. How, with the labor force participation rate so low and so many jobs unfilled, can... Read More
Personal income in the US grew over 20% from February to March. March of 2021, the last month for which full data are available, was the most lucrative month in American history in terms of personal income--by a long shot! Not at all unrelatedly, March also set a new all time record trade deficit. The... Read More
The latest expiration date for the national eviction moratorium, set by the CDC (!) is July 1. Over the last six months, an average of 5.9% of renters have failed to make rent. Over the same six month period one year ago, 4.0% failed to do so. That's a nearly 50% increase in payment delinquencies... Read More
In a week we will have confirmation that January 2021 was the best month for American incomes in history, surpassing the old record set in April of 2020 at the epidemiological nadir and economic zenith of the Covid crisis. This miraculous feat will occur in spite of record trade deficits and weekly jobless claims being... Read More
There is a substantial amount of pushback against hiking the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and some resistance to student debt loan forgiveness, but the rest of the wish list is electoral catnip: Remember, Mitch McConnell lost the GOP the Senate by refusing to sign onto the promised $2000 $1400 stimulus premium Trump... Read More
As the saying goes, nothing is more permanent than a temporary government program. Support for extending the pause on federal student loan payments is broad and overwhelming. With the 13% of "not sure" responses excluded: For those with federal student loan debt there's a good chance forgiveness is coming. Risk tolerance will vary, but the... Read More
You're a hedge fund client. That means there's a good chance you make the rules or own those who do. Among those rules are those about Covid--the restrictions, the severity, who is impacted, how long the disruptions will last, how long the fear will linger--not because you know the specifics from the beginning, but because... Read More
The year has brought breathtaking inflation as the term is traditionally defined--an increase in the money supply--with price increases flood into all kinds of asset classes. The only thing holding back mass evictions from occurring across the country is government legislation and the expectation of more transfer payments in the near future, yet residential real... Read More
If interest rates go up, the markets will crash in a way that makes 2008 look like foreplay. The Fed gently tried to tighten up in late 2018 and it sent the market off a cliff. But the international credit system needs to perpetually add to the world's ever-increasing levels of debt to fuel the... Read More
Janet Yellen is being floated as one of the top two potential Treasury Secretary nominations in a Biden administration. Recall she was Obama's Fed chair. She would be only the second person in American history to have held both positions. The other person to do it was William Miller of the Carter administration, one of... Read More
And it's a good thing they don't, else we wouldn't be in the midst of a V-shaped recovery: It's a good thing the government spending $9.5 billion a day, or $400 million an hour, or $6.5 million a minute, or over $100,000 a second beyond what it vacuums up in taxes doesn't matter, because if... Read More
Net responses to the question of whether the family's financial situation has gotten better or gotten worse over the last year, by state: Trump will win all of the net better and net no change states, but he'll need to win several net worse states as well to be reelected. That's tough. The campaign strategy... Read More
the Fed stands alone, hi low the dollar goes, the Fed stands alone: China may gradually reduce its holdings of US Treasury bonds to about $800 billion from the current level of more than $1 trillion, as the ballooning US federal deficit increases default risks and the Trump administration continues its blistering attack on China,... Read More
More evidence UBI is coming. It's implicitly already here. It's a question of when, not if, its perpetual recurrence becomes codified into law: It is almost unheard of for an action explicitly tied to Trump to be this popular. Even Democrats are split down the middle. To say it's a winning issue for the president... Read More
A tale of four charts: In late 2018, the Fed timidly tried to raise rates. The market went into free fall. The Fed promptly reversed course by cutting rates close to zero. The repurchase market went haywire several months later. The Fed intervened to prop it up. When coronavirus hit, the market collapsed again. With... Read More
Until a sufficiently effective vaccine is available, the basic activities that characterize life in the modern West will remain unavailable. "Not sure" responses, constituting 16% of the total, are excluded: Over the last few months, $3 trillion in wealth was taken from the unconnected lower and middle classes and transferred to the well-connected, richest, and... Read More
The Federal Reserve is stuck. There is no way to raise interest rates without crashing the market. That was made clear in late 2018. The Fed balance sheet must continue to rise towards infinity in hopes that it is enough to goose the financial system forever. Even that hasn't been enough for the repurchase markets,... Read More
UK's COTW: Yes, it is fundamentally immoral (a word I do not use ever) that the S&P 500 should be so fully secured by the state that it can be at its record high from equity super-boom October of just last year. It really is a case of playing at the casino, keeping your winnings... Read More
For growth in personal income, anyway: Incomes are up, consumer prices are down, the dollar is invincible, and only nonsensical doomerists think deficits matter. Extend the CARES act unemployment provisions set to expire at the end of July, make the stimulus checks recurring, and prosperity is here to stay. We cracked the code. We're richer... Read More
When the US began shutting down in response to fears about an impending coronavirus catastrophe, we asserted the health effects would pale in comparison to the economic carnage the pandemic would initiate. That take drew equal amounts of derision and incredulity. Clarifying that coronavirus was the match starting the conflagration rather than the dry brush... Read More
UBI, junior addition, is wildly popular: The senior addition is pretty popular, too: Republicans, led by the president, initially got to the left of Democrats with the onetime payout to all tax-filing American adults. As the extent of the economic carnage comes into public focus, congressional Democrats are pivoting past the ground the populist wing... Read More
From the GSS 2010 onward (N = 7,886), the percentage of native-born Americans who belong to or have spouses who belong to labor unions is 13.1%. For foreign-born residents, the figure is 9.3%. Natives are thus over 40% more likely to be union members than immigrants are. The AFL-CIO and Jeff Bezos are both big... Read More
The following graph shows the percentages of people who prefer "the government respect civil liberties, even if that means accepting some risk to public safety". Residuals show the percentages who prefer "the government ensure public safety, even if that means limiting some civil liberties": Most Americans don't want a shot at liberty if it comes... Read More
Crude oil for May delivery plunged into negative territory today, the first time such a thing has ever happened. We have negative interest rates so why not negative rates for other prices? After all, an interest rate is fundamentally the price of money. I'm being facetious--mostly. The indications are everywhere. The global credit system is... Read More
Amazon ships food, but the company doesn't grow it. Netflix has plenty of cooking shows, but the company doesn't do any cooking. While backyard gardens are quaint, serious food production isn't something that can be done by people who are sheltering in place. Domestic production is being disrupted: Similar production problems are happening in other... Read More
Rusted Wardrobe? Rotted Retailville? Coin something as memorable and pithy as the phrase "Rust Belt" and you'll have made a lasting contribution to the lexicon, because the service sector shuttering is upon us. The desolation of the country's brick-and-mortar retail spaces, including bars, restaurants, botique shops, and the like will change the face of the... Read More
There is strong bipartisan (and non-partisan) support for showering the country with money. From the redwood forests to the gulf stream waters, this helicopter money was made for you and me. Yeah, ideally the Imperial capital's theater would be cut out, but it's a giveaway that can be overlooked. Support, by partisan affiliation, for various... Read More
Having just talked to a friend who sees piling into dollars as a way to make a quick buck (heh) from the current economic downturn provides an excuse to put down a record of a stream of consciousness for posterity's sake--my own and the critics'. His argument, in short, is that inflation can't happen here... Read More
Lowe raises a couple of interesting points in favor of the conventional understanding of the credit economy: This doesn't describe the technology sector in general or consumer electronics in particular. Computers, smartphones, televisions--these items are all more expensive today than they will be tomorrow, yet sell they do. More significantly, this should hold true for... Read More
Countering the fairly strong correlation between coronavirus cases and the size of the ethnically Chinese population at the state level come a pair of polls from SurveyUSA (N = 1,850). The organization asked respondents if anyone they know--a friend, a relative, a colleague, or a neighbor--has been diagnosed with coronavirus. The percentages who responded in... Read More
In the latest iteration of the GSS, the survey introduced a question asking respondents if they agreed or disagreed with the assertion that "for a society to be fair, differences in people's standard of living should be small". The following graph shows 'sympathy for socialism' scores* by selected demographics. Understand this is assessing the colloquial... Read More
A week later, in a poll taken from March 13th through March 15th, the percentage of Americans who think "the coronavirus is a hoax" remains unchanged, at 13% (nearly 1-in-7). This is subsequent to two presidential addresses, the funds rate cut to zero, quarantine edicts, steadily rising case loads, etc. As mentioned previously, the binary... Read More
If the economic collapse is exclusively a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic and the western countries in its path are able to follow something like South Korea's trajectory, we should be on the way back to business as usual by summertime. Terribly sad for the elderly victims and their friends and families, but minimal loss... Read More
Largely lost in the sauce of a hectic and scary week was president Trump's announcement of an allegedly temporary suspension of interest payments on outstanding student loan debt. That means student loans are now both interest-free and guaranteed by the the Federal Reserve. The Fed funds rate is also going to zero. The chance that... Read More
is a lot lower than the blue state rate. From The Council for Community and Economic Research: The following table ranks states, colored in accordance with their 2016 US presidential vote, in ascending order by their cost of living indices: COL index 1) Mississippi 2) Oklahoma 3) Arkansas 4) Missouri 5) Michigan 6) Alabama 7)... Read More
The inverse correlation between a state's housing affordability ranking and the percentage of its population that is foreign-born is a rigorous .62. This is not because bringing people in boosts demand for and thus the cost of housing, of course. That would be xenophobic. It is the unaffordable housing that in fact attracts the immigrants... Read More
Z Man also suspects things are coming to a head: The Federal Reserve is cornered. It cannot go to nominally negative in
Last week, YouGov included a couple of interesting but clumsy questions about jobs and trade. The organization has released a new poll this week with a much cleaner question that cuts to the chase. It asks respondents if "free trade is good or bad" for the US. The following graph shows, for selected demographics, the... Read More
COTW from Charles Pewitt: The Fed attempted to gently increase the federal funds rate in 2018 with the stated intention of raising them four consecutive times in 2019. The result was one of the worst Decembers in the history of the American stock market. Instead of raising, the Fed has cut three times this year.... Read More
In the 2018 iteration of the survey, the GSS asked a new question about what kind of company people would prefer to work for. Participants were given three possible responses to choose from--1) "a company in which the government owns the stock and appoints the management to run the company's operations", 2) "a company whose... Read More
Beats me: The price spike at the end of 2017 corresponded to a surge in search volume interest about how to get in on the action. Many of the people who drove that surge in search interest were immediately wiped out for their trouble. A fool and his money... The ability for whales to manipulate... Read More
Over the last several decades, educational creep has predictably led to a decrease in the average intelligence of college graduates. Yet even after controlling for intelligence, higher educational attainment is associated with higher earnings. The following graph shows mean annual earnings by highest degree attained among five tiers of intelligence as measured by Wordsum. To... Read More
The following map shows mean average IQ by state using 2013 NAEP scores from eighth graders in math and reading: And this map shows the average credit scores by state, according to 2017 data from VantageScores: Despite the War on Noticing, indefatigably astute readers will detect a similarity between the maps. This is on account... Read More
Taking donations is not something I've done or will ever do. It's a zero-sum game and there are people trying to scrape a living together doing dissident right media who are infinitely more deserving. However, if you're buying something from a vessel on that big river in South America and you'd prefer kicking a few... Read More
The previous post on the apparent decline in the average IQ of college graduates in the US over the last fifty years used the GSS' 10-question Wordsum vocabulary test as a basis for those IQ estimates. As was pointed out, vocabulary tends to increase with age (through the late fifties before peaking and then beginning... Read More
The Mercatus Center at GMU recently released a report on the fiscal health of each of the states--or more precisely, the fiscal health of each state's government. The methodology looks sophisticated and reasonable. Since the report wasn't commissioned to be evaluated on the factors I'm evaluating it on, I'm comfortable using it as a plausible... Read More
George Gilder discusses this in his book Men and Marriage but the data he uses is three decades old. There may be a way to get at the question via US Census data on households but the questions differ from survey to survey and tend to report household totals without breaking down individual income contributions.Fortunately, there are... Read More