Thursday, November 15, 2012

Malinvestment; The Consequences

All of us are beginning to see the consequences of the election of Barack Hussein Obama on 6 November, with companies laying off workers and cutting back their hours in the anticipation of ObamaCare. Those who thought they had lifetime jobs at the US Post Office (USPS) are also feeling the sting of socialism as the economy crumbles around them. From a peak of 900,000 jobs in 1999, the employed there has come down to 607,400 employed in October, a loss of 32.5%. Gov't workers are no longer inoculated from job cuts as the service bleeds cash to the tune of 250 million dollars per day. Our first example in malinvestment of tax payer capital in a dying entity.

Here's a chart (courtesy of ZeroHedge) that shows you the drop in USPS employment all the way back to the mid 1960's levels!


As the economy crumbles slowly, the Obama base of union workers, teachers, and other civil servants will begin to be cut back from an ever spiralling feedback loop of lower individual and corporate profits, reduced tax revenues on sliding personal incomes, corporate profits, and reduced valuations of financial and real estate assets. Capital will begin to flee the US for foreign shores with a higher return on investment, lower tax rates, and yes, even a more stable government where businessmen can reasonably make long range plans.

The illusion of the elections is lifting, as the truth flows out on the US economy. This morning, the initial claims jobless numbers posted a multi-year 104,548 surge in weekly non-seasonally adjusted claims from 361,800 to 466,348, an increase of 29%. The seasonally adjusted number also soared from 361,000 to 439,000 on expectations of a 375,000 estimate, an increase of 21.6%.

Let's explore more examples of malinvestment in financial and human capital. Mark Spitznagel at Forbes has penned an analysis of the election fallout. Here are a few selected sections:

""President Barack Obama managed to overtake Republican challenger Mitt Romney on the exit poll question “Who is better for the economy?” and a strong majority of Obama voters felt that the economy is better off than four years ago. Indeed, anyone (particularly Bernanke) would concede that without the Fed’s zero interest rate policy we would be experiencing a far worse economy—the true Obama-Keynesian economy.

The danger here, as we have seen in every other bust for a century or more, is that we can only suspend the laws of economics for so long. And in general we are only good at considering immediate consequences, while being very, very bad at considering later consequences.
***
In the short run (and this is what is so insidious about the Fed’s artificially low interest rates), all we are seeing is an illusion of economic progress. Specifically, the Fed has manufactured a distortion intended to trap both consumers into spending more and entrepreneurs into investing more, or lengthening their production periods (becoming more “roundabout,” as the Austrian School economists said), as if savings were more plentiful. This combination would never occur in an unhampered, noninterventionist economy for the simple fact that higher consumption would mean higher interest rates (from less savings), which would discourage longer production.
Thus, investment in this illusory economy is malinvestment, or investment that always unravels with the intervention’s inevitable end, due to either untenable credit levels (such as today’s corporate debt-to-asset ratio, still at historic highs) or a resource crunch (rising commodity prices) that eliminates any advantage from printing money; and one or both of these scenarios is unavoidable.
***
This leads to another unfortunate kind of malinvestment, of a higher order, if you will: the malinvestment of an electorate in its political class and their policies. Just as entrepreneurs cannot differentiate between real economic information and monetary illusion, so too the electorate cannot differentiate between the effects of Obama’s fiscal policy (of his historic assumption of debt) and that of Bernanke’s loose monetary policy—and without the latter the former wouldn’t have even been feasible. Both Obama and Bernanke pursue a great economic evil to come, but Bernanke keeps them both cloaked as a great present good.
As the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises noted, laboratory experiments cannot be performed in an economy; “We are never in a position to observe the change in one element only, all other conditions of the event remaining unchanged."
This is our grievous position in the United States today, trapped in the status quo by first consequences, by what we can see, due to a cause that we cannot even see. And so we are left to learn from experience, an eventual tragic unfolding of our collective malinvestment. As Bastiat said, “Experience teaches effectually, but brutally.""
The Obama voters will richly reap the consequences for sowing the seeds of Socialism.

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2 comments:

Right Wingnut said...

Thanks. Great post.

The Obama voters will suffer the consequences, but they won't know that they brought it upon themselves.

If only we could have fielded a credible candidate.......

Lionhead said...

Thanks RW; yes the 49% will suffer for the 51% that voted for Obama. Apparently, a combination of a malinformed electorate and a GOP candidate that just could not deliver the message to inform them.

Whatever. The message delivered worked to the 49%, but just couldn't give Romney the edge to flip that extra 2%. What a lost opportunity to save the USA.