Big Ben's Stimulus Party: Only the Top 20% Received an Invite

Brian Hicks

Updated January 10, 2011

bernanke

What if they threw a recovery party and only the top 20% showed up?

It looks like we are about to find out…..

From the Telegraph by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard entitled: Deepening crisis traps America’s have nots

The US is drifting from a financial crisis to a deeper and more insidious social crisis. Self-congratulation by the US authorities that they have this time avoided a repeat of the 1930s is premature.

There is a telling detail in the US retail chain store data for December. Stephen Lewis from Monument Securities points out that luxury outlets saw an 8.1pc rise from a year ago, but discount stores catering to America’s poorer half rose just 1.2pc.

Tiffany’s, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue are booming. Sales of Cadillac cars have jumped 35pc, while Porsche’s US sales are up 29pc.

Cartier and Louis Vuitton have helped boost the luxury goods stock index by almost 50pc since October. Yet Best Buy, Target, and Walmart have languished.

Such is the blighted fruit of Federal Reserve policy. The Fed no longer even denies that the purpose of its latest blast of bond purchases, or QE2, is to drive up Wall Street, perhaps because it has so signally failed to achieve its other purpose of driving down borrowing costs.

Yet surely Ben Bernanke’s `trickle down’ strategy risks corroding America’s ethic of solidarity long before it does much to help America’s poor.

The retail data can be quirky but it fits in with everything else we know. The numbers of people on food stamps have reached 43.2m, an all time-high of 14pc of the population. Recipients receive debit cards – not stamps — currently worth about $140 a month under President Obama’s stimulus package.

The US Conference of Mayors said visits to soup kitchens are up 24pc this year. There are 643,000 people needing shelter each night.

Jobs data released on Friday was again shocking. The only the reason that headline unemployment fell to 9.4pc was that so many people dropped out of the system altogether.

The actual number of jobs contracted by 260,000 to 153,690,000. The “labour participation rate” for working-age men over 20 dropped to 73.6pc, the lowest the since the data series began in 1948. My guess is that this figure exceeds the average for the Great Depression (minus the cruellest year of 1932).

The Gini Coefficient used to measure income inequality has risen from the mid-30s to 46.8 over the last quarter century, touching the same extremes reached in the Roaring Twenties just before the Slump. It has also been ratcheting up in Britain and Europe.

Extreme inequalities are toxic for societies, but there is also a body of scholarship suggesting that they cause depressions as well by upsetting the economic balance. They create a bias towards asset bubbles and overinvestment, while holding down consumption, until the system becomes top-heavy and tips over, as happened in the 1930s.”

 

This story reminds me of a chart I saw a few months ago on a blog that I read called oftwominds.com. It is written by Charles Hugh Smith.

It is a graphic portrayal of the Wealth-Income Pyramid and it is a picture that speaks for itself— if you take the time to consider what it implies. Take a look:

wealth

 

Now I’m no socialist by any stretch of the imagination….

But if you think that these disparities can be maintained forever you are certifiably insane. They can’t and they won’t be.

Again, the status quo cannot possibly be maintained.

Related Articles:

Government Run Amok: Unintended Consequences

Trouble in Retail: Three Charts from the Frontlines

How Uncle Sam Fiddles with the Figures

Quantitative Easing For Dummies

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