If Economic Cycle Theorists Are Correct, 2015 To 2020 Will Be Pure Hell For The United States

Economic CycleDoes the economy move in predictable waves, cycles or patterns?  There are many economists that believe that it does, and if their projections are correct, the rest of this decade is going to be pure hell for the United States.  Many mainstream economists want nothing to do with economic cycle theorists, but it should be noted that economic cycle theories have enabled some analysts to correctly predict the timing of recessions, stock market peaks and stock market crashes over the past couple of decades.  Of course none of the theories discussed below is perfect, but it is very interesting to note that all of them seem to indicate that the U.S. economy is about to enter a major downturn.  So will the period of 2015 to 2020 turn out to be pure hell for the United States?  We will just have to wait and see.

One of the most prominent economic cycle theories is known as “the Kondratieff wave”.  It was developed by a Russian economist named Nikolai Kondratiev, and as Wikipedia has noted, his economic theories got him into so much trouble with the Russian government that he was eventually executed because of them…

The Soviet economist Nikolai Kondratiev (also written Kondratieff) was the first to bring these observations to international attention in his book The Major Economic Cycles (1925) alongside other works written in the same decade. Two Dutch economists, Jacob van Gelderen and Samuel de Wolff, had previously argued for the existence of 50 to 60 year cycles in 1913. However, the work of de Wolff and van Gelderen has only recently been translated from Dutch to reach a wider audience.

Kondratiev’s ideas were not supported by the Soviet government. Subsequently he was sent to the gulag and was executed in 1938.

In 1939, Joseph Schumpeter suggested naming the cycles “Kondratieff waves” in his honor.

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the Kondratieff wave.  The following is an excerpt from an article by Christopher Quigley that discussed how this theory works…

Kondratiev’s analysis described how international capitalism had gone through many such “great depressions” and as such were a normal part of the international mercantile credit system. The long term business cycles that he identified through meticulous research are now called “Kondratieff” cycles or “K” waves.

The K wave is a 60 year cycle (+/- a year or so) with internal phases that are sometimes characterized as seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter:

  • Spring phase: a new factor of production, good economic times, rising inflation
  • Summer: hubristic ‘peak’ war followed by societal doubts and double digit inflation
  • Autumn: the financial fix of inflation leads to a credit boom which creates a false plateau of prosperity that ends in a speculative bubble
  • Winter: excess capacity worked off by massive debt repudiation, commodity deflation & economic depression. A ‘trough’ war breaks psychology of doom.

Increasingly economic academia has come to realize the brilliant insight of Nikolai Kondratiev and accordingly there have been many reports, articles, theses and books written on the subject of this “cyclical” phenomenon. An influential essay, written by Professor W. Thompson of Indiana University, has indicated that K waves have influenced world technological development since the 900’s. His thesis states that “modern” economic development commenced in 930AD in the Sung province of China and he propounds that since this date there have been 18 K waves lasting on average 60 years.

So what does the Kondratieff wave theory suggest is coming next for us?

Well, according to work done by Professor W. Thompson of Indiana University, we are heading into an economic depression that should last until about the year 2020

Based on Professor Thompson’s analysis long K cycles have nearly a thousand years of supporting evidence. If we accept the fact that most winters in K cycles last 20 years (as outlined in the chart above) this would indicate that we are about halfway through the Kondratieff winter that commenced in the year 2000. Thus in all probability we will be moving from a “recession” to a “depression” phase in the cycle about the year 2013 and it should last until approximately 2017-2020.

But of course the Kondratieff wave is far from the only economic cycle theory that indicates that we are heading for an economic depression.

The economic cycle theories of author Harry Dent also predict that we are on the verge of massive economic problems.  He mainly focuses on demographics, and the fact that our population is rapidly getting older is a major issue for him.  The following is an excerpt from a Business Insider article that summarizes the major points that Dent makes in his new book…

  • Young people cause inflation because they “cost everything and produce nothing.” But young people eventually “begin to pay off when they enter the workforce and become productive new workers (supply) and higher-spending consumers (demand).”
  • Unfortunately, the U.S. reached its demographic “peak spending” from 2003-2007 and is headed for the “demographic cliff.” Germany, England, Switzerland are all headed there too. Then China will be the first emerging market to fall off the cliff, albeit in a few decades. The world is getting older.
  • The U.S. stock market will crash. “Our best long-term and intermediate cycles suggest another slowdown and stock crash accelerating between very early 2014 and early 2015, and possibly lasting well into 2015 or even 2016. The worst economic trends due to demographics will hit between 2014 and 2019. The U.S. economy is likely to suffer a minor or major crash by early 2015 and another between late 2017 and late 2019 or early 2020 at the latest.”
  • “The everyday consumer never came out of the last recession.” The rich are the ones feeling great and spending money, as asset prices (not wages) are aided by monetary stimulus.
  • The U.S. and Europe are headed in the same direction as Japan, a country still in a “coma economy precisely because it never let its debt bubble deleverage,” Dent argues. “The only way we will not follow in Japan’s footsteps is if the Federal Reserve stops printing new money.”
  • “The reality is stark, when dyers start to outweigh buyers, the market changes.” It all comes down to an aging population, Dent writes. “Fewer spenders, borrowers, and investors will be around to participate in the next boom.”
  • The U.S. has a crazy amount of debt and “economists and politicians have acted like we can just wave a magic wand of endless monetary injections and bailouts and get over what they see as a short-term crisis.” But the problem, Dent says, is long-term and structural — demographics.
  • Businesses can “dominate the years to come” by focusing on cash and cash flow, being “lean and mean,” deferring major capital expenditures, selling nonstrategic real estate, and firing weak employees now.
  • The big four challenges in the years ahead will be 1) private and public debt 2) health care and retirement entitlements 3) authoritarian governance around the globe and 4) environmental pollution that threatens the global economy.

According to Dent, “You need to prepare for that crisis, which will occur between 2014 and 2023, with the worst likely starting in 2014 and continuing off and on into late 2019.”

So just like the Kondratieff wave, Dent’s work indicates that we are going to experience a major economic crisis by the end of this decade.

Another economic cycle theory that people are paying more attention to these days is the relationship between sun spot cycles and the stock market.  It turns out that market peaks often line up very closely with peaks in sun spot activity.  This is a theory that was first popularized by an English economist named William Stanley Jevons.

Sun spot activity appears to have peaked in early 2014 and is projected to decline for the rest of the decade.  If historical trends hold up, that is a very troubling sign for the stock market.

And of course there are many, many other economic cycle theories that seem to indicate that trouble is ahead for the United States as well.  The following is a summary of some of them from an article by GE Christenson and Taki Tsaklanos

Charles Nenner Research (source)
Stocks should peak in mid-2013 and fall until about 2020. Similarly, bonds should peak in the summer of 2013 and fall thereafter for 20 years. He bases his conclusions entirely on cycle research. He expects the Dow to fall to around 5,000 by 2018 – 2020.

Kress Cycles (Clif Droke) (source)
The major 120 year cycle plus all minor cycles trend down into late 2014. The stock market should decline hard into late 2014.

Elliott Wave (Robert Prechter) (source)
He believes that the stock market has peaked and has entered a generational bear-market. He anticipates a crash low in the market around 2016 – 2017.

Market Energy Waves (source)
He sees a 36 year cycle in stock markets that is peaking in mid-2013 and will cycle down for 2013 – 2016. “… the controlling energy wave is scheduled to flip back to negative on July 19 of this year.” Equity markets should drop 25 – 50%.

Armstrong Economics (source)
His economic confidence model projects a peak in confidence in August 2013, a bottom in September 2014, and another peak in October 2015. The decline into January 2020 should be severe. He expects a world-wide crash and contraction in economies from 2015 – 2020.

Cycles per Charles Hugh Smith (source)
He discusses four long-term cycles that bottom in the 2010 – 2020 period. They are: Credit expansion/contraction cycle, Price inflation/wage cycle, Generational cycle, and Peak oil extraction cycle.

So does history repeat itself?

Well, it should be disconcerting to a lot of people that 2014 is turning out to be eerily similar to 2007.  But we never learned the lessons that we should have learned from the last major economic crisis, and most Americans are way too apathetic to notice that we are making many of the very same mistakes all over again.

And in recent months there have been a whole host of indications that the next major economic downturn is just around the corner.  For example, just this week we learned that manufacturing job openings have declined for four months in a row.  For many more indicators like this, please see my previous article entitled “17 Facts To Show To Anyone That Believes That The U.S. Economy Is Just Fine“.

Let’s hope that all of the economic cycle theories discussed above are wrong this time, but we would be quite foolish to ignore their warnings.

Everything indicates that a great economic storm is rapidly approaching, and we should use this time of relative calm to get prepared while we still can.

Economic Cycle

QE3: Helicopter Ben Bernanke Unleashes An All-Out Attack On The U.S. Dollar

You can’t accuse Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke of not living up to his nickname.  Back in 2002, Bernanke delivered a speech entitled “Deflation: Making Sure ‘It’ Doesn’t Happen Here” in which he referenced a statement by economist Milton Friedman about fighting deflation by dropping money from a helicopter.  Well, it might be time for a new nickname for Bernanke because what he did today was a lot more than drop money from a helicopter.  Today the Federal Reserve announced that QE3 will begin on Friday, but it is going to be much different from QE1 and QE2.  Both of those rounds of quantitative easing were of limited duration.  This time, the quantitative easing is going to be open-ended.  The Fed is going to buy 40 billion dollars worth of mortgage-backed securities per month until they have decided that the economy is in good enough shape to stop.  For those that get confused by terms like “quantitative easing” and “mortgage-backed securities”, what the Federal Reserve is essentially saying is this: “We’re going to print a bunch of money and buy stuff for as long as we feel it is necessary.”  In addition, the Federal Reserve has promised to keep interest rates at ultra-low levels all the way through mid-2015.  The course that the Federal Reserve has set us on is utter insanity.  Ben Bernanke can rain money down on us all he wants, but it is not going to do much at all to help the real economy.  However, it will definitely hasten the destruction of the U.S. dollar.

And the Federal Reserve is apparently very eager to get QE3 going.  Purchases of mortgage-backed securities are going to start on Friday.

In the coming months, hundreds of billions of dollars that the Federal Reserve has zapped into existence out of nothing will be injected into our financial system.

So what will happen to all of this new money?

If banks and financial institutions use that money to make loans then it could have somewhat of a positive impact on the economy in the short-term.

However, the truth is that it isn’t as if banks are hurting for cash to loan out.  In fact, right now banks are already sitting on $1.6 trillion in excess reserves.  Just like with the first two rounds of quantitative easing, a lot of the money from QE3 will likely end up being put on the shelf.

But the stock market loved the news because they know that the previous two rounds of quantitative easing have been great for the financial markets.  On Thursday, the stock market soared to levels not seen since December 2007.

There is much rejoicing on Wall Street right now.

And this stock market bounce is great for Bernanke’s good buddy Barack Obama.

Obama nominated Bernanke to a second term as Fed Chairman, and this might be Bernanke’s way of paying him back.

But of course the Fed is supposed to be “above politics” so that would never happen, right?

The Federal Reserve essentially “crossed the Rubicon” today.  No longer will quantitative easing be considered an “emergency measure”.  Rather, it will now be considered just another “tool” that the Fed uses in the normal course of business.

Considering how vulnerable the U.S. dollar already is, announcing an “open-ended” round of quantitative easing is utter foolishness.  According to the Fed, when you add the 40 billion dollars of new mortgage-backed security purchases per month to all of the other “easing” measures the Fed is continuing to do, the grand total is going to come to about 85 billion dollars a month.  The following is from the statement that the Fed released earlier today….

To support a stronger economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at the rate most consistent with its dual mandate, the Committee agreed today to increase policy accommodation by purchasing additional agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $40 billion per month. The Committee also will continue through the end of the year its program to extend the average maturity of its holdings of securities as announced in June, and it is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities. These actions, which together will increase the Committee’s holdings of longer-term securities by about $85 billion each month through the end of the year, should put downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative.

The Committee will closely monitor incoming information on economic and financial developments in coming months. If the outlook for the labor market does not improve substantially, the Committee will continue its purchases of agency mortgage-backed securities, undertake additional asset purchases, and employ its other policy tools as appropriate until such improvement is achieved in a context of price stability. In determining the size, pace, and composition of its asset purchases, the Committee will, as always, take appropriate account of the likely efficacy and costs of such purchases.

So what does all of this mean?

I really like how one analyst put it when he described this announcement as a “I’m gonna ease till your eyes bleed kinda statement“.

The Fed also promised to keep interest rates at “exceptionally low levels” until mid-2015….

To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee expects that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the economic recovery strengthens. In particular, the Committee also decided today to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate are likely to be warranted at least through mid-2015.

It seems that whenever the U.S. economy gets into trouble, Bernanke and his friends at the Fed only have one prescription and it goes something like this….

“Print more money and promise to keep interest rates near zero even longer.”

Of course a lot of Republicans are quite disturbed that QE3 was announced with just a couple of months remaining in a very heated election battle.

Even big news organizations such as CNBC are commenting on this….

Though the Fed is ostensibly politically independent, the decision comes at a ticklish time with the presidential election less than two months away.

And without a doubt the mainstream media will be proclaiming this to be “good news” for the economy in the short-term.

But is QE3 really going to help the average person on the street?

Well, first let’s take a look at employment.  We are told that one of the primary reasons for QE3 is jobs.

But did QE1 and QE2 create jobs?

The answer is clearly no.

As you can see from the chart below, the percentage of working age Americans with a job fell dramatically during the last recession and has not bounced back since that time despite all of the quantitative easing that has been done already….

So why try the same thing again when it did not work the first two times?

But what more quantitative easing is likely to do is to pump up stock market values because a lot of the money from QE3 is going to end up being put into stocks and other investments.

This is going to help the wealthy get even wealthier, and it is going to make the “wealth gap” between the rich and the poor even larger in America.

QE3 is also probably going to cause commodity prices to rise just like QE1 and QE2 did.

That means that you will be paying more for gasoline, food and other basic necessities.

So there may not be more jobs, but at least you will get the privilege of paying more for things.

The inflation that QE3 will cause will be particularly cruel for those on fixed incomes such as retirees.

None of the extra money from QE3 is going to go into their pockets, but they will have to pay more to heat their homes and fill up their shopping carts.

And the “exceptionally low interest rate” policy of the Federal Reserve is absolutely devastating for those that have saved for retirement and that are relying on interest income for their living expenses.

In short, quantitative easing is very good for the wealthy and it is very bad for the average man and woman on the street.

But what else would you expect from the Federal Reserve?

It is imperative that we educate the American people about the Federal Reserve and about how they are destroying our economy.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “10 Things That Every American Should Know About The Federal Reserve“.

Perhaps the biggest danger from QE3 is that it could greatly hasten the day when the U.S. dollar ceases to be the reserve currency of the world.

The rest of the world is not stupid.  They see that the Federal Reserve is now firing up the printing presses whenever they feel like it.  They can see the games that we are playing with our currency.

Why should the rest of the world continue to use the U.S. dollar to trade with one another when the United States is constantly debasing it and playing games with its value?

As I wrote about the other day, China and Russia have been calling for a new reserve currency for the world for several years.  They have been leading the charge to conduct international trade in currencies other than the U.S. dollar, and I have documented many of the major international agreements to move away from the U.S. dollar that have been made in the last couple of years.

The status of the U.S. dollar in the world has already been steadily slipping, and now Helicopter Ben Bernanke pulls this kind of nonsense.

We are handing the rest of the world an excuse to abandon the U.S. dollar on a silver platter.

And when the rest of the globe rejects the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency, the dollar will crash, the cost of living will increase dramatically, our standard of living will go way down and we will never fully recover from it.

So if you think that things are “bad” now, just wait until that happens.

The U.S. dollar is one of the best things that the U.S. economy still has going for it, and Helicopter Ben Bernanke is doing his best to absolutely destroy that.

What is your opinion of QE3?  Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….

The Economic Collapse