Friday, September 6, 2013

‘Animal spirits’ update: taper off

The downtick in unemployment raised the A metric marginally but its topping formation remains in place. The onset of the next crisis of confidence—the signature characteristic of the business cycle downturn--will probably come in 2014.


As I have pointed out before, ZIRP lasted from 1934 to 1946 last time and there’s no indication it will go away soon this time. There has been less banking reform, the debt load is greater, and the distribution is even more skewed. Here is Shiller’s long term bond rate data:


Note that from 1936 to 1946 the rate went down. Data is through 2013 YTD. We are still awaiting our 1937-38 analog slump.

Unless, of course, the fools running things manage to get a big war going soon.

The next big thing, especially if Summers gets in, will be crypto-MMT debt explosion as America leaders (ruling class) feather their nests with “infrastructure spending.” Saez and Picketty showed us what happened in to the last such “growth endeavor”: it went 93 percent to the top 1 percent.

Sucks, doesn’t it? Find a faith and practice it, and congregate with like-minded people. Stay away from psychopaths (and that means almost anyone at a senior level in a large corporation, nowadays, as they are shooting the zombies climbing up beneath them in the head to protect their positions).



  1. Some commentators are saying that the drop in the unemployment rate was due to a drop in the participation rate. Does this further support your analysis about a topping formation?

  2. Mish has done the best work I've seen showing that the decline in the LFPR (labor force participation rate) is anomalous, i.e., not just a demographic effect of older people retiring and leaving the labor force--they are one of the few groups with an increasing LFPR! Google his site on that.

    So the unemployment rate could still be "honest" statistically, reflecting widespread drop-out and discouragement that "removes" people from the LF. It's done with a survey, and it would be pretty hard to cover up outright fraud.

    However, the UR is still a joke as a measure of the health of our labor market. It is my hypothesis, however, that decades of long habit have ingrained it as the one number people (unconsciously) key to in their feelings of confidence.

    Direct answer to your question: no, if the LFPR had not dropped, "animal spirits" would have declined. If the LF were held constant at 2008 levels confidence would have collapsed long ago.