Friday, June 5, 2009

Required Reading: Friday, June 5th

Fed Still Walking Tightrope Between Inflation and Deflation – Minyanville, Minyan Peter

Earlier this spring, Washington played the role of cheerleader, shouting that the worst was behind us, the dollar was looking strong, there were "green shoots," and deflation was a concern they were prepared to fight with whatever tools necessary.
With the rate of economic decline slowing, rates backing up, the weaker dollar, and higher commodity prices, Washington rhetoric must now move the other direction.

How Long Can Commercial Real Estate Remain Irrational – Minyanville, Fil Zucchi

UK Government On Brink Of Collapse – Clusterstock

Chase Mortgage Ad From 2005 Is Funny And Scary (JPM) – Clusterstock

6-5 Beware Real Estate False Bottoms – The Field Check Group, Mark Hanson

Bottom Line: Headlines are about to get wild, as the age of false bottoms in real estate is upon us.

Employment Report: 345K Jobs Lost, 9.4% Unemployment Rate – Calculated Risk

Mish Speaks at Google – Calculated Risk

Jobs Contract 17th Straight Month; Unemployment Rate Soars to 9.4% – Mish

The official unemployment rate is 9.4% and rising sharply. However, if you start counting all the people that want a job but gave up, all the people with part-time jobs that want a full-time job, all the people who dropped off the unemployment rolls because their unemployment benefits ran out, etc., you get a closer picture of what the unemployment rate is. That number is in the last row labeled U-6.

It reflects how unemployment feels to the average Joe on the street. U-6 is 16.4%. Both U-6 and U-3 (the so called "official" unemployment number) are poised to rise further.
Looking ahead, I expect the service sector to continue to weaken. Mall vacancy rates are rising and a huge contraction in commercial real estate is finally started. There is no driver for jobs and states in forced cutback mode are making matters far worse.
Unemployment is likely to continue rising until sometime in 2010.

Depression Level Statistics

I consider these job losses to be depression level totals. Admittedly conditions are not as bad as the great depression, but this is certainly no ordinary recession by any economic measure including lending, housing, bank failures, jobs, the stock market, commodity prices, treasury yields etc. For more on this idea please see Humpty Dumpty On Inflation.

Regardless of whether you think these are depression level statistics, unemployment is high and rising. Moreover, the "adverse scenario" in the Fed's stress test was unemployment at 10.3% at the end of 2010.

I stated many months ago we are going to be close to 10% by August and close to 11% by the end of 2009. It seems I was an optimist. We might hit 10% by June or July.

23-year-old rancher from impoverished area of South Dakota claims $232.1 million Powerball jackpot – Breitbart News

Chet Brokaw, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS PIERRE, S.D. - A 23-year-old rancher whose family has fallen behind in their taxes and recently had a mobile home repossessed has claimed a US$232.1 million Powerball jackpot.

Neal Wanless, who lives on his family's ranch near Mission, South Dakota, bought the winning ticket in the nearby town of Winner late last month.

He was there on a trip to buy livestock feed.

He will take home $88.5 million in a lump sum payment after taxes are deducted.

Wanless says his family has been helped by their community and that he "intends to repay that help many times over."

He said in a statement issued Friday that he plans to continue ranching, albeit on a larger ranch.

He says he recently told his horse, Eleanor, that "It'd be nice if we go for a longer ride than usual on a bigger ranch of our own."