Monday, December 29, 2014

Relying on Central Banks for Growth, New Abnormal

New Abnormal Means Relying on Central Banks for Growth - Bloomberg: "The “new normal” may be new. It’s hardly normal. The “new abnormal” would be more apt, according to reports published this month by Ed Yardeni of Yardeni Research Inc. in New York and ING Bank NV’s Mark Cliffe in London. “Dictionaries define ‘normal’ as regular, usual, healthy, natural, orderly, ordinary, rational,” Cliffe said Nov. 7. “It is hard to use those words to describe the current performance of the world economy and financial markets.” Among signs of irregularity since Pacific Investment Management Co. popularized the expression “new normal” in 2009 to describe an environment of below-average economic growth: Central banks are still deploying near-zero interest rates or quantitative easing six years after the financial crisis, yet output, inflation, business investment and wages remain mostly subpar. In financial markets, equities are hitting new highs as bond yields probe new lows. Even as the U.S. shows signs of strength, commodities are slumping. The lesson for Yardeni is that by running to the rescue every time asset prices swooned in the past two decades, central bankers’ prescriptions distorted economies. “If a central bank moderates recessions, then speculative excesses are likely to build up much more during the booms and never get fully cleaned out,” Yardeni, a former chief economist at Deutsche Bank AG, said in a Nov. 19 report. “So each financial crisis gets progressively worse than the previous one, forcing the central bank to provide even more easy money to avert a financial meltdown.”..."

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Monday, December 22, 2014

American Dystopia, Suspicion, Spying, New Normal

America’s dystopian new normal: Endless suspicion, limitless spying - "....The SARs program and the consolidated terrorism watchlist are just two domestic government databases of suspicion. Many more exist. Taken together, they should be seen as a new form of national ID for a growing group of people accused of no crime, who may have done nothing wrong, but are nevertheless secretly labeled by the government as suspicious or worse. Innocent until proven guilty has been replaced with suspicious until determined otherwise. Think of it as a new shadow system of national identification for a shadow government that is increasingly averse to operating in the light. It’s an ID its “owners” don’t carry around with them, yet it’s imposed on them whenever they interact with government agents or agencies. It can alter their lives in disastrous ways, often without their knowledge. And they could be you. If this sounds dystopian, that’s because it is."

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Amazon Web Services, The Cloud is the New Normal

'The cloud is the new normal,' Amazon Web Services executive says | Computerworld: "The cloud is no longer relegated to handling ancillary jobs, but is quickly become the base for mission critical -- or even all -- enterprise IT operations, the head of Amazon Web Services said. "The cloud is the new normal," said Andy Jassy, Amazon Web Services senior vice president during Wednesday's opening keynote of the company's annual Re:Invent conference in Las Vegas...."

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Education, Lessons of Hope, New Normal

Joel Klein's Book on American Schools Tries to Find a Way Forward
The goal here is instead defensive, coming at a time when the city's new .... But it's a fair point, especially since the new normal so thoroughly trumps ...

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Corn, Nebraska, Iowa, Return To a New Normal

Omaha World-Herald
Corn, Nebraska and Iowa's top cash crop, selling for half 2012 prices
Omaha World-Herald
The current correction should be seen not as a bust, but a moderation of the recent boom — a return to a new normal, said Michael Swanson, ...(read more at link above)

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Monday, November 24, 2014

A Future Where Change, and Water, Is the New Normal

ULI Releases New Report on the Infrastructural Challenges of Rising Sea Levels
It is vital, ULI agrees, to “shift the paradigm and plan for a future where change, and water, is the new normal.” Revere Beach Waterfront Development ...(read more at link above)

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Monday, November 17, 2014

The New Normal, Parkinsons

The Guardian

Richard Ford's Hero Returns in 'Let Me Be Frank With You'
New York Times
In “The New Normal,” Ann, who's received a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease and now lives in a tastefully appointed “high-end old folks' home,” asks ...

Appleton Post Crescent

Falling tree didn't break Greenville woman's spirit
Appleton Post Crescent
Schroth credits her strong faith and her family for her positive attitude and for helping her find a new normal, which she admits she's still getting used to ...

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Monday, November 10, 2014

China, Economy, New Normal

Irish Examiner
China manufacturing growth falls in October
The figure indicates China's manufacturing sector "was steady as the economy is entering a 'new normal,'" Zhao Qinghe, a bureau statistician, was ...
Asia equities ease in subdued trade after China factory data - CNBC
China PMI, Australia to steal the show in Asia - CNBC

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Despair, Discontent, Stagnation, New Normal

Parallels to 1937 by Robert J. Shiller - Project Syndicate: "There is a name for the despair that has been driving discontent – and not only in Russia and Ukraine – since the financial crisis. That name is the “new normal,” referring to long-term diminished prospects for economic growth, a term popularized by Bill Gross, a founder of bond giant PIMCO. The despair felt after 1937 led to the emergence of similar new terms then, too. “Secular stagnation,” referring to long-term economic malaise, is one example. The word secular comes from the Latin saeculum, meaning a generation or a century. The word stagnation suggests a swamp, implying a breeding ground for virulent dangers. In the late 1930s, people were also worrying about discontent in Europe, which had already powered the rise of Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini."

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Monday, October 27, 2014

China’s New Normal

China, Innovation, R&D, growth rate--

In Praise of China’s New Normal by Yao Yang - Project Syndicate: ".... China’s capacity for innovation is improving steadily, owing to rapidly increasing human capital and rising investment in research and development. By next year, Chinese R&D expenditure, at 2.2% of GDP, will be closing in on advanced-country levels. Based on these trends – and assuming a constant labor-participation rate – China’s potential growth rate over the next decade is likely to hover around 6.9-7.6%, averaging 7.27%. This may be much lower than the 9.4% average growth rate in 1988-2013, but it is more than adequate by global standards. If this is China’s “new normal,” it would still be the envy of the rest of the world." Read more at

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Monday, October 20, 2014

New Normal, Jobs, Still Missing

New Normal Situation Still Abnormal:

Still Missing: 3.9 Million Prime-Age Jobs - Bloomberg View: "... Some economists are doubtful that the Fed's stimulus efforts can get employment back up to pre-recession levels without generating too much inflation. Their position should be held to a high standard of evidence, particularly given that there isn't much inflationary pressure visible in the available data -- including wage growth in the August jobs report. Those who would give up on getting back to normal must accept both the suffering of millions of people and a permanent impairment of the economy's ability to generate higher living standards." (read more at link above)

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Monday, October 13, 2014

For Workers, a New Normal

For Workers On Labor Day, a New Normal? | RealClearMarkets: "....But suppose we are nearing an inflection point, where worker supply and demand are in closer balance. That certainly wouldn't be bad. Workers' bargaining power would improve with tighter markets: markets where businesses have to pay a bit more to keep employees; where younger workers might have competing job offers; and where someone could quit with a reasonable expectation of finding another job. (Note that unions aren't a plausible alternative to markets because they represent only 7 percent of private workers. The minimum wage suffers from a similar scale problem.) A wage explosion seems unlikely; companies were too traumatized by the Great Recession to let costs get out of hand. Even in 2007, wage increases - unadjusted for inflation - were running only at about a 3.5 percent annual rate. What's ultimately at stake is the Great Recession's lasting effect on labor markets. Are they in the process of reverting to their modern role, promoting steadier employment and higher living standards? Or has there been a major break from the past, ushering in a harsher, more arbitrary system whose outlines are still faint? On this Labor Day, the verdict is unclear." read more at link above

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Labor Unions, Dead and Dying

Labor Day: Are Unions Dead? Interview with Rich Yeselson | New Republic: "....What’s ironic about that is that unions are inherently conservative institutions, which historically developed parallel with the development of capitalism itself. They are as much a part of capitalism as Henry Ford or Apple. Unions use contracts—and there’s nothing more intrinsic to capitalism than the right of contract—to link their members to the fortunes of the companies they contract with. They are capable of having huge fights with capital (as in the thirties)—which raise the hopes of leftists—but, usually, over the attainment of very incremental ends---which disappoint leftists. Marx had nothing but contempt for British trade unionists, and Trotsky saw no value in unions at all.  Yet conservatives and most libertarians hate them. Weird...." read more at link above

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Politics, Fund Raising, New Normal

Why so many Americans hate politics - The Washington Post: "...Everyone knows that candidates spend far more time raising money than talking with voters. A leaked campaign planning document written late last year for Michelle Nunn, a Democrat who is running for the Senate in Georgia, offered a breakdown of how she should spend her time. The memo was first published by National Review Online. Nunn’s advisers recommended that she spend 80 percent of her time on fundraising in the first quarter of this year, 75 percent in the second quarter and 70 percent in the current three months. The memo recommended that she still should devote half her time to raising money in the final month of the campaign. That’s the new normal for most candidates...." read more at link above

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Gradually, Then Suddenly, A New Normal

This is how it usually happens--

Last Call — Medium: "As Dick Tofel of ProPublica often points out, newspaper revenue has been shrinking since 2006, but the American economy has been growing since 2009. Between 1970 and now, the US has averaged only six years between recessions; the current period of growth crossed the six year mark this spring. We are statistically much closer to the next recession than to the last one, and in a recession, ad dollars are the first to go. Many papers will go bankrupt the way Hemingway’s Mike Campbell did: Gradually, and then suddenly." read more at link above

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Status Quo, New Normal, Broken Model of How the World Works

It's Not Just Politics That's Broken--The Status Quo's Model of "How the World Works" Is Broken Washington's Blog: "....11. An ever-rising dependence on generating the appearance of stability, transparency, competence and expertise as a substitute for actual stability, transparency, competence and expertise. In other words, an expanding reliance on gaming dysfunctional systems rather than actually repairing dysfunctional systems. 12. An increasing reliance on zero-interest rates, debt and free money for financiers as the “fix” for every economic ill. The Status Quo is dysfunctional because its model of how the world works is broken. It won’t matter if gridlock remains in place or one of the parties gets to impose its “brand” of policy-tweaks; since no one on the political spectrum has any concept that the current model described in these 12 points is broken, fixing the political dysfunction won’t fix the systemic dysfunction...." read more at link above

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Monday, September 8, 2014

New Normal, Slow Growth, Continuous Change

Hill Times (subscription)
Slow growth doesn't have to be the new normal
Slow growth doesn't have to be the new normal. Boosting the potential growth rate and helping lower-income Canadians should be the top priorities ...

Business 2 Community

Sales Productivity – The Era of the Absence of Change is Over
Business 2 Community
Instead the new normal is more likely to be continuous change – not the absence of change. What does this all means for sales leadership? As any ...

What is the new normal?
Rob Nixon
Now that Uber have turned up in many major cities is free water, mints & cheaper fares the new normal? As far as I can see Amazon invented 'one ...

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Global Chaos, the New Normal

Is global chaos the new normal? - LA Times: "It's a chaotic world out there. But we'd better get used to it; this may be the new normal. The Middle East is in flames, not only Gaza but Syria, Iraq and Libya as well. Russia is massing troops on the border of Ukraine. Central Africa is a mess, as are Afghanistan and Pakistan. Parts of Mexico and Central America are ruled by criminal gangs and drug cartels. And those are merely the crises big enough to command front-page attention. "This is historically unprecedented," former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski told Foreign Policy magazine recently. "Huge swaths of global territory are dominated by populist unrest, anger and effective loss of state control." The world is becoming more unstable, because power is fragmenting. -   Brzezinski's point wasn't merely that disorder is loose in the world; that's happened in earlier periods of war and revolution (think of Europe in the aftermath of World War I, for example). His point was that chaos is breaking out simultaneously in many regions, and that governments are less capable of meeting those challenges than before."

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Monday, August 25, 2014

New Normal Experiment, Innovative Office Space

More New York Companies Experiment With Innovative Office Space - WSJ: "The wide options under activity-based working also give some employees private space they didn't have. "Quiet people are reminding people that it's not just about collaboration, but concentration," said Elizabeth Burow, director of discovery for design firm HLW International LLP. But eliminating the private office or the private desk isn't for everyone, said Richard Sennett, a sociology professor at New York University and the London School of Economics. "Sometimes having a space you control, which is yours, gives people the feeling of empowerment and it can be good," he said. "But it varies."" (read more at link above)

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Imposter Syndrome, Not Everything Is As It Seems

apenwarr: ".... I think Impostor Syndrome is valuable. The people with Impostor Syndrome are the people who *aren't* sure that a logical proof of their smartness is sufficient. They're looking around them and finding something wrong, an intuitive sense that around here, logic does not always agree with reality, and the obviously right solution does not lead to obviously happy customers, and it's unsettling because maybe smartness isn't enough, and maybe if we don't feel like we know what we're doing, it's because we don't. Impostor Syndrome is that voice inside you saying that not everything is as it seems, and it could all be lost in a moment. The people with the problem are the people who can't hear that voice." (read more at link above)

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Monday, August 11, 2014

New Normal, Another Bubble

Believers in the New Normal hold that the Fed and other central banks have an unlimited ability to print money and buy assets, such that they can buy up the majority of markets to keep valuations elevated. I see such linear thinking as dangerously simplistic in a non-linear world, and I make the case that the Fed is far more constrained by the bond and currency markets (recall that all these markets are interconnected) than the New Normal faithful believe: The Fed’s Hobson’s Choice: End QE and Zero-Interest Rates or Destabilize the Dollar and the Treasury Market.(source infra)

The Inevitable Stock Market Reversal: The New Normal Is Just Another Bubble Awaiting a Pop Washington's Blog: "The Big Question: When? Is the New Normal enforceable even as markets reach extremes, or is the faith in the central banks’ power to bend markets to their will just the latest manifestation of hubris? No one knows at the moment, but as this article has shown, there are numerous persuasive reasons to be skeptical of the New Normal faith that markets can only loft higher in a permanent state of low volatility and rising profits." (read more at the link above)

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Monday, August 4, 2014

New Normal, Boomerang Kids, Won’t Leave

It’s Official: The Boomerang Kids Won’t Leave - "Annie Kasinecz has two different ways of explaining why, at age 27, she still lives with her mom. In the first version — the optimistic one — she says that she is doing the sensible thing by living rent-free as she plans her next career move. After graduating from Loyola University Chicago, Kasinecz struggled to support herself in the midst of the recession, working a series of unsatisfying jobs — selling ads at the soon-to-be bankrupt Sun-Times, bagging groceries at Whole Foods, bartending — in order to pay down her student loans. But she inevitably grew frustrated with each job and found herself stuck in one financial mess after another. Now that she’s back in her high-school bedroom, perhaps she can finally focus on her long-term goals...." (read more at link above)

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Fed to Maintain Record Balance Sheet for Years

Fed Prepares to Maintain Record Balance Sheet for Years - Bloomberg: " . . . Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson ICAP LLC, who has been watching money markets and Fed policy for three decades, compared the importance of the shift in strategy with the Fed’s decision to establish a monopoly on bank-note issuance after its founding in 1913. One reason the Fed may stick with the strategy for a long time: It would provide safe assets that banks need to fulfill stricter requirements for capital and liquidity imposed by regulators since the financial crisis... A large balance sheet with U.S. Treasury and mortgage-backed securities has other benefits for the Fed.It provides “continuing options for impacting long-term interest rates,” Eric Rosengren, president of the Boston Fed, said at a conference this week in Guatemala City. Meyer said the FOMC now doesn’t appear worried about having a big balance sheet, and many officials “prefer to operate at a higher level of reserves.” “There is a preference emerging to say, ‘This works,’” Meyer said. “The question is, do they ever want to get back to normal?”..."

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Wall Street Adjusts to the Trading New Normal

Wall Street Adjusts to the New Trading Normal - WSJ: "Transaction Volume in May Fell to Its Lowest Level Since Financial Crisis" -- ".... The slowdown in trading comes as investors see little reason to make big changes to their portfolios amid an expanding but unspectacular U.S. economy, lackluster first-quarter earnings reports, and above-average stock valuations as a share of projected company earnings. The decline comes despite six record closes last month on the S&P 500, extending a trading slowdown that started after the financial crisis. Daily average U.S. stock-trading volume last year was down 37% from the peak hit in 2009, Credit Suisse data show....At the Milwaukee stock-trading desk of investment bank Robert W. Baird & Co., Michael Antonelli uses the down time to send market-related tweets or works on posts for his firm's stock-market blog, Bull and Baird. A tweet from Tuesday: "Another completely dead day."...."The worst thing for a trading desk is for it to be slow," he said. "It's a tough job when it's slow because you start to overanalyze everything."..."

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Monday, July 14, 2014

New Normal, Obamacare, End of Employer-Provided Healthcare

It is changing before your eyes--

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: End of Employer-Provided Healthcare: By 2020, S&P 500 Companies May Dump 90% of Workforce into Obamacare: " . . . Companies did not always provide healthcare benefits. But over time, employer-provided healthcare became an expectation, if not a "right". That trend, especially with part-time workers has reversed. Some argue that by 2020, healthcare coverage may go full circle. For example, please consider the McClatchy article Report: large employers could shift nearly all workers’ health coverage to marketplace by 2020 (read more at links above)

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Jeffrey Gundlach, New Normal, No Normal (video)

Gundlach: 'New Normal' Is Actually 'No Normal’: Video - Bloomberg:
(Allow video to load after clicking play)
Jeffrey Gundlach, chief executive officer of DoubleLine Capital, discusses investor activism, interest rates, Apple's future, and high-yield bonds with Bloomberg's Tom Keene. (source: May 7 Bloomberg)

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Malinvestments, New Normal Economy

The Changing Nature of Middle Class Work Washington's Blog: "...In general, subsidies are mal-investments that siphon money from productive sectors to prop up politically powerful unproductive sectors. Economies that enforce mal-investment eventually decline, as years of under-investment hollow out the parts of the economy that are propping up all the parasitic sectors. The protected sectors beset by soaring costs (healthcare, higher education, major weaponry programs, finance, etc.) will undergo the creative destruction of technology-based productivity gains for the reason that they are already unaffordable, not just to households but to the nation. These low-productivity bastions of secure, high-paying middle class jobs cannot keep increasing their share of the national income. Either productivity will increase and costs fall or these sectors will implode as their costs exceed the nation’s ability to fund them. Take fast-rising healthcare costs and slow-growth GDP and extend the lines on a chart: can healthcare absorb 90% of GDP? Clearly that won’t happen; the sickcare system is already breaking down at 20% of GDP...." (read more at link above)

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Monday, June 16, 2014

New Normal: Labor Force, Employment, and Population April 2008 vs April 2014

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: Labor Force, Employment, and Population April 2008 vs. April 2014: "In the core age 25-54 age group, the population is down 1,053,000 but employment is down a whopping 4,614,000. Thus, in the 25-54 age group, roughly 3,561,000 people are not working who should be working. The figure is higher if you include other age groups. Clearly things are not close to normal." (read more at link above)

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Household Debt Did Not Cause the Great Recession

It Wasn't Household Debt That Caused the Great Recession - Heather Boushey - The Atlantic: "“Economic disasters are man-made,” they write in the opening pages, “and the right framework can help us understand how to prevent them.” By the end of the book, the reader cannot but be left appalled at the sheer enormity of the policy failures. It’s not just that 7.4 million workers lost their job during the years of the Great Recession of 2007-2009 but also that the employment crisis continues to this day. While jobs are no longer being shed at the rate of 20,000 a day, the share of the U.S. population with a job fell to a low of 58.2 percent in November 2010 from a high of 63.4 percent in December 2006, but has only increased by a fraction of a percentage since then, hitting just 58.9 percent in April 2014. Missing the housing bubble was a massive failure on the part of policymakers. As a result, our new normal is one where there are nearly 10 million fewer people at work. This book's contribution helps us understand the important mechanisms through which this occurred."  (read more at link above)

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Work and Live OR Retire and Die

Some 11 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds polled expect to retire before age 55. Unless as a group they manage to stash away a lot more money during their working years than any other group, this isn’t going to happen. If anything, as longevity rises, retirement ages will head even higher. These people are in for a surprise.

Work and Live, Retire and Die - Bloomberg View: "Retirement age may be increasing because many baby boomers are reluctant to retire. This may be purely anecdotal, but too many people have seen retirees settle into their new life on a golf-course community, and then promptly drop dead. Work and live, retire and die seems to be the message for some. A few statistical oddities: Like all polls, people say they expect to do one thing, but typically end up doing something else. Gallup notes that since they began tracking the issue of when people plan on retiring, expectations are “consistently higher than the average age at which they actually retire.”"

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Monday, May 26, 2014

PIMCO, New Normal, Neutral Policy Rate

PIMCO | Investment Outlook - Achoo!: "New Normal " " . . . approximations of a neutral policy rate in a New Normal economy burdened by high debt leverage and other structural headwinds such as globalization, aging demographic influences, and technology. But I suspect these estimates which average less than 2%, are much closer to financial reality than the average, 4% “blue dot” estimates of Fed “participants,” dismissed somewhat by Fed Chair Janet Yellen herself last month. Why is this academic “Fed Fight” important to markets? Well, if a bond investor knew whether 4% or 2% was the long term neutral policy rate, he/she would literally have the key to the kingdom. Forward markets now anticipate a 4% nominal policy rate sometime out in 2020. If the neutral policy rate was 2% instead of 4% then bonds instead of being artificially priced, would be attractively priced. Instead of facing a nearly 100% certain bear market currently forecast by market mavens, bond investors could draw some comfort from a low returning yet less volatile future. Bonds would shed the “certificates of confiscation” label for yet another decade or so, as this 2% neutral policy rate delevered the economy without igniting inflationary fears...."

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Oakland Style, Antinormal (video)

Intersection: Oakland’s Style - Video - "Intersection: Oakland’s Style BY TAMIR ELTERMAN April 22nd, 2014 “People are antinormal,” Sarah Barnekow said of the style in Oakland, Calif."

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Sea-level rise, Miami (video)

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player
Sea-level rise of concern for Miami | News - Home: "When it comes to sea-level rise, Miami is ground zero. Salt water is encroaching and water managers are already adapting to a new normal. Pressure is mounting on elected leaders to ensure infrastructure is climate-ready, and South Florida has a lot to lose if nothing is done. On its list of 20 coastal cities most at risk from assets' exposure to coastal flooding, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ranked Miami as No. 1...."

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Millennials, Unaffordable Obamacare

Millennials on Obamacare: what do you mean, affordable? | Money | ". . . These young Americans between 18-34-years-old are, in the eyes of the White House, a crucial demographic needed in order for the Affordable Care Act to work. Yet for many of them, health insurance is one of the last things on their mind as they deal with high college debt, working part-time jobs and unsteady flow of income. Even without the additional cost of health insurance, many are already struggling to make ends meet and they can't imagine trying to pay for yet another monthly bill. "I am not an Obamacare hater," says Irina Ivanova, 28, who chronicled her experience with trying to enrol in Obamacare for Crain's New York. "But you know what it is? It feels like extortion. You have to pay this much money, or otherwise you are a bad person and you get a fine and you won't be covered if something bad happens."...

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Monday, April 28, 2014

TERMINUS, the New Normal destination

“Life improves slowly and goes wrong fast, and only catastrophe is clearly visible.” – Edward Teller

WELCOME TO TERMINUS Washington's Blog: " . . . There is a worldwide currency and petroleum war being waged today as too much fiat currency is chasing a dwindling amount of cheap petroleum supplies. The developed world has experienced a century of relative illusory prosperity as cheap easy to access fuel and cheap easy to print fiat currency have led zombies to believe progress and prosperity are their god given right. The most highly educated zombies will be the most shocked when they realize the reality they believed was all an illusion ...The cracks in this delusionary foundation are visible for all to see as Space Available signs outnumber actual businesses, pothole dotted highways deteriorate, sewer lines crack, and houses in disrepair outnumber those being kept up. It takes money to keep a home from deteriorating and it happens to be in short supply for 90% of the population. Despite the non-stop money printing operation at the Fed and the mainstream media fantasy stories of shale oil energy independence, the suburban dream is turning into a nightmare. When the inevitable financial implosion strikes in the next few years, the illusion of progress will come to an end. The inner cities will explode in violence and will burn. The police will be helpless and scared. There will be death on a large scale...." (read more at link above)

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Jobs Market, Not Normal

Don't Try Calling This Jobs Market Normal - Bloomberg View: "The headline number in today's employment report -- 192,000 nonfarm jobs created in March, bringing the three-month average to 173,000 -- suggests that the U.S. recovery is on track to bring the labor market back to normal, albeit gradually. Try telling that to the millions of people who are still suffering in the purgatory of long-term joblessness. Monthly U.S. Jobs Report As of March, an estimated 3.74 million job-seekers had been out of work for more than 6 months. That number would be only 1.39 million if the long-term unemployment rate, measured as a share of the population, fell to its average in the 10 years before the 2008 recession. In other words, we're still about 2.35 million away from normal...."

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Normcore, New Normal

To be truly Normcore, you need to understand that there’s no such thing as normal.

Normcore: Fashion Movement or Massive In-Joke? - " . . . The term remained little more than a conversation starter for art-world cocktail parties until New York magazine published a splashy trend story on Feb. 24 titled “Normcore: Fashion for Those Who Realize They’re One in 7 Billion.” The writer, Fiona Duncan, chronicled the emergence of “the kind of dad-brand non-style you might have once associated with Jerry Seinfeld, but transposed on a Cooper Union student with William Gibson glasses.” An accompanying fashion spread dug up real-life L-train denizens rocking mall-ready Nike baseball caps and stonewashed boyfriend jeans without apparent shame. Even so, it was difficult to tell if anyone actually believed the hype. For one thing, the normcore brain trust started to circle the wagons. Christopher Glazek, a journalist and friend of the K-Hole founders took to Facebook to blow holes in the “trend.” “It doesn’t really make sense to identify normcore as a fashion trend,” he wrote. “The point of normcore is that you could dress like a Nascar mascot for a big race and then switch to raver ware for a long druggie night at the club....”(read more at link above)

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Monday, April 7, 2014

New Normal, Malls Are So Over

Are Malls Over? : The New Yorker: " . . . Part of what’s hurting the mall, obviously, is that, increasingly, people are shopping online. Internet sales reached six per cent of total retail spending in the fourth quarter of 2013, nearly doubling their share from 2006. Some retailers, understandably, are responding by focussing more on the online end of the retail business. Gap, which became synonymous with the American mall, is no longer counting on malls for growth. “Culturally, the business pivoted towards digital,” Glenn Murphy, the C.E.O., said, describing the past year. “Mall traffic, for a number of years, has been slowing down. Whether it continues to decline somewhat over time, I think that’s realistic to assume.” Gap customers now can order clothes online and pick them up in a store. When it opens new stores this year, Gap will focus on Asia; earlier this month, the company launched its Old Navy brand in China. . . ."

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Morgan Stanley says Economy Growth Potential Now 2 percent

Morgan Stanley: Economy's Growth Potential Is Now 2 percent - Business Insider: "A new report from Morgan Stanley argues that potential growth for the economy is now just around 2%. The report argues that drops in productivity and Labor Force Participation mean a new, slower growth track than what we're used to. This has significance for monetary policy, as there may not be as much "slack" in the economy as the Fed believes. Sorry. We're not going back to the old normal. At least that's according to Morgan Stanley...."

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Monday, March 24, 2014

The Middle Class, Steadily Eroding

The Middle Class Is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World. - "...“Those consumers who have capital like real estate and stocks and are in the top 20 percent are feeling pretty good,” said John G. Maxwell, head of the global retail and consumer practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers. In response to the upward shift in spending, PricewaterhouseCoopers clients like big stores and restaurants are chasing richer customers with a wider offering of high-end goods and services, or focusing on rock-bottom prices to attract the expanding ranks of penny-pinching consumers. “As a retailer or restaurant chain, if you’re not at the really high level or the low level, that’s a tough place to be,” Mr. Maxwell said. “You don’t want to be stuck in the middle.”..." (read more at link above)

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Monday, March 17, 2014

A warped, distorted, flipped Housing Market?

The housing market may need a closer look --

WARPED, DISTORTED, MANIPULATED, FLIPPED HOUSING MARKET Washington's Blog: "The report from RealtyTrac last week proves beyond the shadow of a doubt the supposed housing market recovery is a complete and utter fraud. The corporate mainstream media did their usual spin job on the report by focusing on the fact foreclosure starts in 2013 were the lowest since 2007. Focusing on this meaningless fact . . . is supposed to convince the willfully ignorant masses the housing market is back to normal. It’s always the best time to buy!!! The talking heads reading their teleprompter propaganda machines failed to mention that distressed sales (short sales & foreclosure sales) rose to a three year high of 16.2% of all U.S. residential sales, up from 14.5% in 2012. The economy has been supposedly advancing for over four years and sales of distressed homes are at 16.2% and rising. The bubble headed bimbos on CNBC don’t find it worthwhile to mention that prior to 2007 the normal percentage of distressed home sales was less than 3%. Yeah, we’re back to normal alright. . . ." (read more at links above)

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Monday, March 10, 2014


A must read --

Next-shoring: A CEO’s guide | McKinsey & Company: " . . . Something of equal moment is occurring today. As we settle into a “new normal” catalyzed by the global financial crisis, the ensuing recession, and an uneven global recovery, traditional arbitrage models seem increasingly outmoded.1 For some products, low labor costs still furnish a decisive competitive edge, of course. But as wages and purchasing power rise in emerging markets, their relative importance as centers of demand, not just supply, is growing ... A next-shoring perspective emphasizes proximity to demand and proximity to innovation. Both are crucial in a world where evolving demand from new markets places a premium on the ability to adapt products to different regions and where emerging technologies that could disrupt costs and processes are making new supply ecosystems a differentiator. Next-shoring strategies encompass elements such as a diverse and agile set of production locations, a rich network of innovation-oriented partnerships, and a strong focus on technical skills...."

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Monday, March 3, 2014

US Industrial Rebound Myth

FOR all the hoopla, the United States has gained just 568,000 manufacturing positions since January 2010 — a small fraction of the nearly six million lost between 2000 and 2009. That’s a slower rate of recovery than for nonmanufacturing employment. “We find very little real evidence of a renaissance in U.S. manufacturing activity,” a recent Morgan Stanley report stated, echoing similar findings from Goldman Sachs. (source infra)

The Myth of Industrial Rebound - "...Manufacturing would benefit from the same reforms that would help the broader economy: restructuring of our loophole-ridden corporate tax code, new policies to bring in skilled immigrants, added spending on infrastructure and, yes, more trade agreements to encourage foreign direct investment and help get closer to Mr. Obama’s seemingly unattainable goal of doubling our exports. Those who see a brighter manufacturing picture for the United States argue that wages are rising more rapidly elsewhere, not just in China and Brazil but also in Japan, Germany and France. But just like the “feel good” stories, celebrating this fact ignores the reality that the flip side of wages’ rising faster elsewhere means they are rising more slowly here. And that is the essence of our challenge: In a flattened world, there will always be another China."

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Obamacare Expanded Medicaid Coverage, financially sustainable?

Law’s Expanded Medicaid Coverage Brings a Surge in Sign-Ups - "It remains to be seen how Medicaid coverage will work once millions more people across the country are in the system. Low reimbursement rates discourage specialists from taking Medicaid patients."

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Monday, February 17, 2014

New Year, New Normal

"A new normal is a way to not constantly think about what life was like before. It is a way to focus on the present and the future." --Living With Cancer blog, Mayo Clinic

New Year! New Normal? | Bret Hoekema: ".... I'm resolute in saying, that for as long as I'm alive, I'll be cultivating a worldview in which cancer doesn't have the final say over who I am or who I will be."

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Bad Jobs Report, Obama New Normal

RealClearMarkets - The Bad Jobs Report Is Just Obama's 'New Normal': "There was considerable weeping and gnashing of teeth over the December "Employment Situation" report released by the BLS  . . . Analysts were expecting 200,000 new payroll jobs, but they got only 74,000. Some called the "bad" unemployment report a "statistical anomaly." A quick look at the BLS Household Survey showed that, rather than being bad, December was actually a better-than-average month in President Obama's "new normal" economy. This is not a huge accomplishment, given that "Obama's new normal" comprises slow GDP growth, a stagnant jobs market, and falling real household incomes...."

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Monday, February 3, 2014

New Normal, Genetically Modified Crops, Growing Population, Climate Change

We’ll Need Genetically Modified Crops To Feed A Growing Population On A Planet Affected By Climate Change. That’s Okay: GMOs Are Green. | MIT Technology Review: "By even the mid-’70s what was called “organic” was conditional: if you met various standards set by an industry’s marketing association, then you were an organic farmer, although those standards were far from the natural methods the founders of organic farming had imagined. In the vegetable gardens, we tried using other insects for pest control, but nothing answered until we sprayed with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a bacterium commonly used as a pesticide in organic farming. We bought fertilizers with fish emulsions, which did better than the farm’s own manure and compost. Raising birds, we began by feeding them unadulterated cracked corn, but they didn’t grow large enough for sale, and soon we were driving to Santa Rosa Feed and Game every month to purchase organically certified bird feed, whose supplemental ingredients (including vitamins and a range of proteins and amino acids), when listed on the sides of the sacks, were longer than a small boy’s hand. Outside the very poor world, all farming is like this: it is industrial. That’s because even organic farmers are frightened of the blights and diseases that can destroy a harvest or covey, and they think about nothing more than increasing the yield from their land."

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Monday, January 27, 2014

President Obama New Normal, More Drone Strikes

President Obama's new normal: the drone strikes continue | Amy Goodman | Comment is free | "On Thursday, 12 December, 17 people were killed, mostly civilians. The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has consistently tracked US drone attacks, recently releasing a report on the six months following President Barack Obama's major address on drone warfare before the National Defense University (NDU) last May. In that speech, Obama promised that "before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured – the highest standard we can set." The BIJ summarized: Six months after President Obama laid out US rules for using armed drones, a Bureau analysis shows that covert drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan have killed more people than in the six months before the speech. In a nation that abhors the all-too-routine mass killing in our communities, why does our government consistently kill so many innocents abroad?"

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Monday, January 20, 2014

New Normal Too Big to Fail Will Get Even Bigger (and Richer thanks to Feds)

A new forecast predicts that the next four years --

Big changes expected in banking - South Florida Business Journal: "...According to a report by IBISWorld Inc., the economy will continue to recover and that will make growth much less volatile. Commercial banks will continue to benefit from government support, albeit with some strict new regulations. Too-big-to-fail banks will grow deposits at a faster rate than smaller savings institutions, according to the study...."

-- the more things change, the more they remain the same.

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Monday, January 13, 2014

New Normal American Economy, Officially Inside-Out

America's Economy Is Officially Inside-Out - Umair Haque - Harvard Business Review: "This is the first generation of Americans in modern history expected to enjoy lower living standards than their forebears. It is the first generation in modern history whose life expectancy is dwindling. It is the first generation of modern Americans whose educational attainment is declining. It is the first generation of modern Americans who face less opportunity than their parents. Shorter, nastier, dumber, harder, bleaker. That’s the future for not only Americans, but for many in the world’s richest countries. Let me be clear why this is so remarkable. It’s not that the great wheel of prosperity is merely decelerating. It is that it actually seems to be turning backwards. The great wheel of progress already ground to a halt—several decades ago, if measured in terms of average incomes. And the real danger now? That it may be beginning to spin—in reverse...."

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Obama Incompetence, the New Normal

Congressional complacency feeds this new normal -- Obama incompetence and the crisis quota | Palladium-Item | "After Obama’s semi-demi-apology for millions of canceled insurance policies — an intended and predictable consequence of his crusade to liberate Americans from their childish choices of “substandard” policies sold by “bad apple” insurers — Scalise said: Obama is like someone who burns down your house. Then shows up with an empty water bucket. Then lectures you about how defective the house was. What is now inexplicably called Obama’s “fix” for the chaos he has created is surreal. He gives you permission to reoccupy your house — if you can get someone to rebuild it — but for only another year."

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Friday, January 3, 2014

New Normal, Few New Florida Jobs Offer a Living Wage

Few new Florida jobs offer a living wage, study shows - South Florida Business Journal: "A new report by Seattle-based Alliance for a Just Society found that 64 percent of all job openings in Florida do not pay a living wage, the Tampa Tribune said. The study defined a living wage as $16.84 per hour. Furthermore, the group found that for every job posted offering a living wage, there are 13 job seekers. "It was stunning to see the great number of low wage jobs in the Florida economy," said Ben Henry, a co-author of the report. Nationwide, the numbers are also moving in the wrong direction. The study said there were 4 million less jobs with wages above $15 per hour in 2012 than there were in 2009, the Tribune said."

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Normal, Elite Overproduction, Society Frays

Blame Rich, Overeducated Elites as Our Society Frays - Bloomberg: "Past waves of political instability, such as the civil wars of the late Roman Republic, the French Wars of Religion and the American Civil War, had many interlinking causes and circumstances unique to their age. But a common thread in the eras we studied was elite overproduction. The other two important elements were stagnating and declining living standards of the general population and increasing indebtedness of the state. Elite overproduction generally leads to more intra-elite competition that gradually undermines the spirit of cooperation, which is followed by ideological polarization and fragmentation of the political class. This happens because the more contenders there are, the more of them end up on the losing side. A large class of disgruntled elite-wannabes, often well-educated and highly capable, has been denied access to elite positions. Consider the Antebellum U.S...."

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New Normal - Google News