waterwalk

HILLARY CLINTON IS RIGHT: THE GAME’S UP

As predicted here during February, May is but a few days behind us, and already Hillary Clinton is distancing herself from Barack Obama’s various policy boobs. She has also – as I recorded here and elsewhere – been of the view that “all economic bets are off after May” for some time: before that materialises, she will gamble, coming out against neoliberalism and the banks harder than previously.

In the meantime, Clinton has told the media she was wrong to support the Iraq invasion (thus not a closet GOP-girl) and said she openly disagreed with the President’s Syrian policy. She’s quite right in thinking that these moves will differentiate her from any Republican candidates, and put clear water between her and the Obama  years.

The word I’m getting is that Hillary is still firmly of the view that the recovery sham is running out of road both here in Europe and over there in the USA. And this is the bit that still intrigues me: who does she talk to in order to arrive at this obvious conclusion? The S&P 500 is still rising, and of late there has been yet more drivel around about ‘permanent measures’ to keep things on the rise.

That can’t be done, but Draghi’s move to ECB negative interest rates means banks are encouraged (almost forced) to lend more to business…..and so this too is being talked up by the usual suspects. It is beyond belief, but then so were the South Sea Bubble and Million-guilder tulips.

The biggest sheister of all George Osborne has now won the support of Christine Lagarde, and so we can be sure his scam is doomed. As indeed it is: despite the perpetual trail of bollocks coming out of the Cabinet Office, the latest ONS stats on exports show the economic imbalance between services and goods is getting worse not better: and the UK’s trade deficit is now at its widest since the start of the year. One wonders what the next excuse will be: the wrong sort of rain in Trafford Park, perhaps.

Steve Blitz, chief economist at agency broker ITG, called this “the Achilles heal of the UK recovery, a growing and ultimately unsustainable trade imbalance.” The Chancellor is not going to make it to the 2015 Election except by fiddling or talking up the numbers. Stand by for Full-Ahead both.

So here we are at the sixth paragraph, and already it’s obvious that the US, the ECB, and the UK are all living on the edge, on tick, and on the expectation of a miracle.

You will remember that Abenomics was going to get that role, after someone probably called Tim Gei Ner took out a stimulation bazooka two months back, but Japan’s retail sales dropped at the fastest pace in 14 years –  a staggering 13.7% month on month – and the economy as a whole contracted by 3.4%. As I keep repeating over and over again, you simply cannot kick-start consumption when real money is tight, confidence is frail, and food price inflation is galloping ahead: food prices rose 5% in April from a year earlier, with fresh food climbing at twice that rate. Inflation in onion prices is now a Weimaresque 37%, and salmon — a staple of the sushi favourites – leapt 30%.

“Price hikes without confidence that wages are going to rise will hurt appetite for spending,” said Masamichi Adachi, senior economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Tokyo. “Abe has to raise people’s belief that the economy will improve.” I won’t wish him luck, as that would be like shouting “Prove them wrong!” as the world’s first attempt to cross the Atlantic on a lawnmower began on a western Irish beach. Abenomics is a merely a rather more insane idea than QE, and it was (as The Slog predicted almost exactly a year ago) certain to fail from the outset.

Which just leaves us with China. What can I say? Growth is slowing, manufacturing is declining, fangwoi customers are dwindling, and its internal market remains structurally weak – with only 36% of the economy involving consumer spending. Same old story: make the few rich, and the many will struggle to buy. But despite that reality, Beijing is now looking to shift from export-driven to domestic-led growth. It obviously isn’t going to work.

Same old facts, same old question: how long can the Big Swinging Richards walk on water before somebody finally proves that there’s a hidden carpet of plate glass just below the surface? I’ve no idea, nor do I know which one of 20 or more asteroids will finally hit the plate glass, and sink the illusion. But it is when, not if. I’m still drawing out my cash and investing in land, property, trees, water, mobility durables and the odd new development ‘flier’. What other people do is their affair.

Last night at The Slog: the rebalancing of global wages, and the unbalanced attitude of the British worker.