Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Monday, July 27, 2015

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Rising wealth inequality can be explained by asset inflation

Bloomberg News recently noted-
"Even though wages are improving, the rate of growth in what companies pay employees pales in comparison to what stocks have handed investors over the last six years. In fact, with equities rising 20 percent annually and wages up 2 percent, the gap has never been wider in any bull market since 1966."
 “Earnings have been so strong in part because wage growth has been so weak" said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in Philadelphia.

Bloomberg also quotes Michael Shaoul (I visited Israel recently with Michael, who is CEO of Marketfield Asset Management, worth US$10 billion), who opined that the gap between wages and stocks since 2009 is partly a statistical illusion that reflects the severity of the bear market and how little wages fell during the credit crisis.

According to Shaoul, a comparison of their respective growth rates since 2000 or 2007 (I should point out that these were peak years in stock prices) shows pay rising more closely with shares. As with all statistics, he says, “A lot of this depends on starting points…. Time is the main ingredient missing with regards to this wage cycle. Many factors are coming back into the employees.”

I fully agree with Shaoul that all statistics depend for their meaning “on starting points.” Furthermore, statisticians can show anything they want with statistics, but I need to remind Shaoul that we can take practically any starting point over the last 50 years and show that an inflation-adjusted total return index (including the reinvestment of dividends) has vastly outpaced real median wage growth.

Furthermore, it is easy to show that, even in nominal terms, wages haven’t kept pace with the rise in the S&P 500 Index (not the total return index, which would include dividends) if we look at how many hours of work are needed to buy the S&P Index.

From the figure, it is clearly visible that, aside from the 1966-1982 period when workers had the upper hand because their wages rose while the S&P 500 was flat and declined in real terms, workers’ salaries haven’t kept pace with the rise in the S&P Index (and even less so with the S&P inflation- adjusted total return index).

So, as much as I like Michael Shaoul, as much as we enjoyed travelling together through Israel and on to Petra (Jordan), and as much as I agree that with statistics everything “depends on starting points,” in this particular instance all the evidence would suggest that part of the wealth inequality can be explained by the huge asset inflation we have had since the early 1980's.

Furthermore, it is easy to show that, even in nominal terms, wages haven’t kept pace with the rise in the S&P 500 Index (not the total return index, which would include dividends) if we look at how many hours of work are needed to buy the S&P Index.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Democracy may not necessarily be better for a nations fortune

We have to see the outcome of democracy. I don’t believe it will be a good outcome. But anyway, different people may say, “Okay. All governments are bad, but democracy is the best.” I’m not sure about that. Because I’ in Asia, Japan in the ’70s, ’80s, and South Korea, ’70, ’80s, Taiwan ’70, ’80s, Singapore until today, Hong Kong, until today, these countries never really had democracy, but they prospered.

Now you may say, “Well, there were some unusual conditions because of this and that, and so forth.” That may be true, but nevertheless, I’ve seen prosperity already in countries like, or in cities like Venice, Florence, Amalfi,Siena, developed, and they didn’t have democracy. In the German towns where prosperity developed, the trading towns, the Hanseatic towns, they never had democracy. So I’m not sure if democracy is the best system. I’m not saying that it’s not necessarily the best system, but it’s not yet proven. It’s just that society says democracy is good, but maybe it’s a farce. Does your vote have any impact?

Monday, July 13, 2015

China economy weakening considerably [VIDEO]

Marc Faber talks about China bubble bursting, Global economy weakening and year 2015 will end in a recession.

[Watch the interview above from Bloomberg News]

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Marc Faber against Racism

One view holds that racism is best understood as 'prejudice plus power' because without the support of political or economic power, prejudice would not be able to manifest as a pervasive cultural, institutional, or social phenomenon.            

Furthermore, what sociologists tend to overlook when discussing racism are economic issues.

Having visited South Africa before Apartheid was lifted and experienced first-hand racial discrimination combined with viciousness and extreme cruelty I am naturally against any form of racism although, as my friend Laeeth Isharc points out in my report, this should not prevent us from being proud of our heritage.   

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Marc Faber wishes these 2 goals for India

Besides GST reform—which will have a positive impact on India’s fiscal position and reduce the friction costs of state tariffs—the two big new laws I would like to see are the Land Acquisition Bill, passed and fully and fairly implemented, and a new Labour Law.

The Land Bill will allow factories and infrastructure projects to go ahead faster. At the moment, there is a complex process that most parties in such a land transaction are not happy with.

Besides the Land Bill, the other big impediments to growth and expansion are the very restrictive labour laws; it is very hard to fire people and labour regulations are both complex and inflexible. This is a harder thing to change, as there are many interests active in keeping the status quo.

If we see these two laws implemented, we can be more certain about a positive future for India. India has the largest and youngest labor force in the world and a cheap one, especially compared to China, and which also speaks ‘OK English’. Which company in the world would then not want to have some of its operations there?

But if India cannot achieve these two [goals], I think it will have to wait longer for the future that has been promised to them so many times by their politicians. But the future belongs to those with a young and energetic population: India has that more than anywhere else. Few other countries do.