welcome back to cheddar business
everyone on Monday saw the Dow suffer
its worst one-day drop since January 3rd
while the SP and the Nasdaq hadn’t seen
a day like it since early December
joining us now is David Stockman he’s
the former director of the Office of
Management and Budget under President
Ronald Reagan he’s also the author of
peak Trump the under a noble swamp and
the fantasy of manga David it’s great to
have you on chatter happy to be here
look a huge sell-off yesterday right
what do you make of the escalation of
the trade war between the US and China
well I think yesterday was a wake-up
call I don’t think this trade war is
going to end anytime soon
you got two fundamentally incompatible
economies you have a policy being driven
by you know a guy who’s you know lost
his lunch I think Trump has no clue what
he’s doing he’s sliding by the seat of
his pants he’s a hopeless protectionist
he doesn’t really know what he wants and
he has no clue how this is going to
unfold so I think we have big trouble
so why do Republicans the party of
Reagan right why do they seem to be
going along with Trump I think they’re
going along with Trump because the GDP
was had a three in it last quarter and
because we’re at the end of a business
cycle where the whole economy looks good
my point in peak Trump is the peak is
behind us the market peaked last
September at 29 41 we’re now triple peak
I don’t think we’re going back the
economy’s in month 118 of the longest
weakest expansion in history we got
headwinds everywhere we got a federal
debt that’s out of control we have a Fed
that waited way too long to tighten and
now doesn’t know what to do
we have Europe which i think is rolling
over into another recession we have what
I call the red ponzi and China’s
struggling with 40 trillion of debt none
of these things suggest there’s smooth
sailing ahead I think they all suggest
that there’s a huge risk that some kind
of Black Swan or orange Swan is the case
maybe is likely to upset the whole apple
cart you have to assume that recessions
haven’t been outlawed
and what’s going to happen when we get a
recession and the markets way up in the
stratosphere and the federal budget is
already running 1.2 trillion of red ink
and then revenue falls and expenditures
soar we’re gonna have the biggest mess
you can ever imagine so given all these
headwinds that you listed out you said
recessions haven’t been outlawed do you
think this is do you think Trump is
aware of these factors do you think he
feels the pressure to get a trade deal
done with China do you think he’s
capable of getting a deal done that will
be beneficial for US markets no I think
he’s delusional he thinks he has far
more power that he’s far more skilled at
the art of the deal in negotiation that
than he really is and so I don’t think
any deal is going to get done at all and
I think he believes the economy is far
stronger than it actually is because
we’ve had some aberration in the numbers
which aren’t sustainable in other words
we’ve had some inventory build-up and
we’ve had all this turmoil and trade
that pulled imports forward if you
strain that out the economy is growing
at less than 2% a year it’s not a boom
if you actually look at Trump’s first 28
report cards on jobs 200 2,000 per month
Obama‘s last 28 report cards before the
220,000 per month there’s been no
acceleration there’s no boom what we
have is an aging business cycle this
company to the end of the road and we’ve
done nothing to get prepared for the
trouble that’s ahead what is the Fed
going to do the interest rate is only
two point four percent and Trump is
complaining its balance sheet is still
almost four trillion what is the fiscal
policy going to do when we’re already
locked in to a borrowing rate at the end
the tippy-top of a business cycle of 1.2
trillion a year we’ve never been in
these circumstances before and so
therefore I think we have to get over
this recency bias which says well last
couple quarters look pretty good so
what’s to worry there’s everything to
worry because the last 30 years have
been taking us to a point of
much speculation in so much debt now
remember we had the financial crisis
people don’t even remember that anymore
but we did have it in 208 and they said
it was a wake-up call we got too much
debt we need to deleverage right well
there was 53 trillion of debt on the US
economy then this is mid 208 public
private business households government
today it’s 72 trillion all right we went
from 53 trillion which was too high to
73 trillion we’ve added 20 trillion debt
that did give us the kind of you know
appearance of a recovery in prosperity
but really we only doubled down and now
we’re gonna face the music in a far
weaker position with a madman in the
Oval Office who’s home alone and what I
mean by that is who are his advisers
nowadays okay I mean Steve minuchin is
an 80-pound political weakling who gives
yes-men a bad name okay Larry Kudlow has
been snorting bullish ethers down on
Wall Street for so long that he’s not
even in the economist Peter Navarro
would rather have a real war with China
rather than a trade war and you know
Wilbur Ross may have a heartbeat or not
I don’t know but he’s he’s as bad in
terms of trade policy as Trump so it’s
all being run by Bob light Howser who I
know from way back when I was on Capitol
Hill and in the Reagan White House in
the early 80s he’s a lifelong swamp
creature who wants to make government
bigger and better and more intrusive and
that’s the kind of trade deal he wants
it’s really for a big business it’s not
for jobs in the economy what do you
think Reagan would think of President
Trump he would be horrified he would be
horrified because Ronald Reagan was a
small government guy he was a free trade
guy he was a free-market guy he believed
you know rectitude and he was not for
hectoring the Fed for easy money when
Volker put on the brakes and interest
rates went into you know double digits
Ronald Reagan said we have to do it we
got to bite the bullet we got to get rid
of this inflation and let the Fed
restore sound money
so everything that Reagan stood for
Trump is really against okay
he is a hopeless mercantilist
protectionist he is the worst big
spender we’ve ever had in the Oval
Office on the Republican side and you
know he’s he’s a bombastic yes I guess I
go back to my earlier question I just
have a trouble understanding why
Republicans are buying into this and why
Republicans Senators and Representatives
don’t stand up for the party and stand
up for the legacy of the Republican
Party against Trump I could give you an
anecdote from my own history in January
1973 I was a young guy on Capitol Hill
Nixon was riding high he had won the
election 44 million – twenty-eight
million wasn’t a squeaker squeaker like
Trump but swept the whole electoral
college he told his whole cabinet you
got to resign I’m so strong I don’t need
you and within 18 months they had him on
the helicopter and sending him out of
town because the economy went down in
the interim in other words as long as
the economy was showing decent numbers
the Republicans kept quiet and when the
economy and the stock market went down
38 percent they were gone we only have
10 seconds for this answer but is there
a challenger to trump you’re behind
right now probably not okay well come
back when there is okay a former
director of the Office of Management and
Budget under President Ronald Reagan
he’s also the author of peak Trump he
under a noble swamp and the fantasy of
Nagas thank you so much for joining us
It’s time for a reality check on Trump’s claims about jobs, wages and economic growth.
Recession fears may be seeping into the national conversation, but President Trump continues to boast about how great the American economy is — “the best in the world, by far,” Mr. Trump tweeted a few days ago.
Time for a reality check on Mr. Trump’s economic accomplishments, using two key measuring sticks: how well the economy is doing, compared with its performance under President Barack Obama’s leadership, and whether it has performed up to Mr. Trump’s promises.
The short answer is, the economy’s performance is not much different than it was under Mr. Obama and far short of what Mr. Trump pledged.
Take, for example, the all-important matter of jobs. Yes, many unemployed Americans are back on the payrolls. Yes, the unemployment rate continues to fall, as it did under Mr. Obama. But no, the pace of hiring has not been faster than it was during a similar period under Mr. Obama and indeed, has been even a bit slower.
In the first 30 months of the Trump presidency, jobs were added at an average rate of 191,000 a month. That’s certainly respectable, although it’s still less than the increase of 220,000 jobs a month during the final two and a half years of the Obama presidency.
Obama average: 220k
Trump average: 191k
Moreover, on Aug. 21, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that it is likely to revise downward substantially payroll gains earlier this year, which could cut about 15,000 jobs a month from Mr. Trump’s tally.
Then there are wages, the other key component of what matters financially to everyday Americans. The rate of pay raises has continued to edge up under Mr. Trump, a typical occurrence in the latter part of an economic recovery. But more important is what is left for workers after inflation takes its bite.
And on that measure, earnings for American workers rose faster under Mr. Obama.
Not to mention that Mr. Trump has utterly failed to deliver on his wage promises. As part of pushing for the 2017 tax cut, his Council of Economic Advisers projected that the legislation would raise average pay by $4,000 a worker. No material amount of that has been realized.
Obama average: +1.5%
Trump average: +0.7%
Then there’s the overall economy. The sluggishness of growth since the 2008 recession has puzzled and dismayed policymakers. During his presidential campaign, Mr. Trump routinely promised to push this rate up; in seeking passage of his tax cut legislation, he said growth would accelerate to “4, 5 and maybe even 6 percent.”
That is not remotely what transpired. The tax cut produced a short “sugar high,” a momentary boost. Gross domestic product, after adjusting for inflation, rose at a 3.5 percent rate in the second quarter of 2018. But for 2018 as a whole, the 2.5 percent increase did not come close to the Trump administration’s projection of 3 percent.
All told, G.D.P. has risen at a 2.6 rate during Mr. Trump’s presidency, which, in fairness, is marginally higher than the 2.4 percent rate of improvement during the last 10 quarters of Mr. Obama’s tenure. Neither number is anything to brag about.
Now the economy is demonstrably slowing down, thanks in large part to Mr. Trump’s trade war. Interestingly, the business community appears more worried than consumers, who have continued to spend and who, in surveys, still express confidence.
As a result, forecasters have been marking down their projections; by the end of this year, J.P. Morgan expects G.D.P. to be increasing at only a 1.8 percent rate. (The White House seems to live in a parallel universe; it clings resolutely to its prediction of 3.2 percent growth this year.)
Should that slowdown occur, expect Mr. Trump to blame the Federal Reserve and the interest rate increases it instituted beginning in December 2015. But the Fed’s increases were modest; rates are still exceptionally low by historical standards, especially in the tenth year of a recovery.
Accordingly, private economists rank the trade war as playing a much larger role in the slowing economy than the Fed’s actions. (And, of course, now it has begun cutting rates.)
“The fears of a further slowing in growth and recession are entirely due to the trade war,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, told me. “If the president follows through on his current tariff threats, growth will continue to weaken to well below the economy’s 2 percent potential by early next year.”
Mr. Zandi is not alone. Private economists recently polled by Reuters gave a median 45 percent probability of the United States economy entering recession in the next two years.
Economists are notoriously poor at predicting downturns. But what’s not disputable is even if we duck a recession, when it comes to the economy, Mr. Trump still has not eclipsed Mr. Obama’s record and is many miles from making America great again.
Western economists have long said that China needed a base of American-style consumers to bring the country sustained economic growth. Now China has one: Its young people.
While previous generations were frugal savers—a product of their years growing up in a turbulent economy with a weak social safety net—the more than 330 million people born in China between 1990 and 2009 behave much more like Americans, spending avidly on gadgets, entertainment and travel.
The freewheeling consumption is helping China diversify its economy at a crucial time. Beijing has relied on exports and infrastructure-building to drive growth for decades, but recent signs point to a slowdown amid tariffs from the Trump administration. The new spending patterns have benefited Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. ,Tencent Holdings Ltd. and other tech companies, whose rapid growth has helped energize China’s economy.
Yet all this consumption has a downside. Household debt levels have risen rapidly over the past several years, with many young Chinese borrowing money for their purchases.
High levels of corporate and government debt are already longstanding concerns for Beijing. As household debt climbs, some economists worry the country’s debt burdens overall could become unmanageable and weigh on China’s growth.
To avoid problems down the road, some economists say, household borrowing will have to slow to more sustainable levels, adding another headwind to China’s economy. In a worst-case scenario, they say, the combination of high government, corporate and consumer debt could exacerbate the economic slowdown and trigger a broader loss of confidence in China.
Liu Biting, 25 years old, says she spends all of her paycheck each month: 10,000 yuan ($1,400) a month from her marketing job in Shanghai. About a third goes to rent, and the rest on food, her sewing hobby, going out, music and other products. So far, she has avoided falling into debt.
Until recently, one of her monthly expenses was a clothing rental subscription that cost $70 a month. She liked it, she says, because she could “try out a lot of strange clothes.” She discovers makeup brands on a WeChat account she follows that recommends products, many of them local.
“For my parents’ generation, for them to get a decent job, a stable job, is good enough—and what they do is they save money, they buy houses and they raise kids,” she says. “We see money as a thing to be spent.”
Her parents repeatedly ask her how much she has saved in her three years of working. “I say, ‘I’m sorry, probably nothing.’ All my friends are like this. We have no savings and we don’t really care about it.”
Young people have “become the main consumption power” in China, Alibaba chief executive Daniel Zhang told reporters in November. People born after 1990 made up nearly half the customers during the latest “Singles Day” annual shopping event, when Alibaba sold roughly $30.8 billion of merchandise in 24 hours.New GenerationsChina’s population by age groupSource: National Bureau of StatisticsNote: From the 2010 Population Census, most recentyear available.Under 1010-1920-2930-3940-4950-5960-6970-7980-8990 and older0 million100200
Almost a quarter of car buyers in China are under 30, and that figure is expected to rise to roughly 60% by 2025, says Zhou Ya, head of market research and customer intelligence for Volkswagen GroupChina. She says Volkswagen sees Chinese customers under 30 as crucial to its future in the country. The company is rolling out three entry-level models geared toward young drivers in China’s less developed cities this quarter.
The spending is also helping power local brands including Heytea, an upscale tea salon, and Starbucks competitor Luckin Coffee, which raised about $571 million after going public earlier this year.
Chinese youths are especially more willing to pay for travel. A report last year by Mastercard and Ctrip.com, China’s biggest online travel website, found that about one-third of China’s outbound tourists who booked with Ctrip were born after 1990, and they spend more on a single trip than those born in the 1980s.
Short-term loans from online lenders such as Ant Financial Services Group are helping fuel the spending. Ant Financial charges rates up to nearly 16% on an annualized basis, depending on the credit profile of the borrower. A 2018 survey in China by Rong360, a loan recommendation website, found that around half of respondents who took out consumer loans were born after 1990.
Most had borrowed from multiple lending platforms, the survey found, and nearly a third took out short-term loans to repay other debts. Nearly half of them had missed payments.
One of the most popular ways to borrow is a Huabei account, a revolving credit line embedded in China’s Alipay mobile payments network. Huabei has extended loans in excess of 1 trillion yuan, or more than $140 billion, since its launch in April 2015, a person familiar with the matter said. Ant Financial, which owns Alipay, declined to disclose any figures related to Huabei.Going MobilePercentage of users of mobile payments inChina by ageSource: Payment & Clearing Association of China54.42%27.613.8521-3031-4041-5051 and older
China’s former central banker Zhou Xiaochuan warned last November that the rise of fintech, while helping develop the consumer credit market, may “excessively induce” the younger generation to spend beyond its means.
Yang Huixuan, 22, who graduated from college this year and works in communications for a soccer club in Nanjing, says she turned to Huabei while in school. She says she often borrowed around $100 a month to pay for meals out, cosmetics and clothes that she couldn’t cover with the roughly $215 stipend she got every month from her parents. She relied on Huabei’s installment payment function to afford bigger items like cameras and smartphones.
Huabei is “truly addictive,” says Ms. Yang, “It gives me an illusion that I’m not really spending my own money.” Ms. Yang says she’s scaling back some now because of higher living costs and because she’s reluctant to keep turning to her father for money.
An Ant spokesman says Huabei encourages its users to spend responsibly, and gives users the option to set monthly limits to help monitor their own spending.
Easy credit has come from a wave of online micro-lenders and peer-to-peer lenders, which proliferated several years ago amid loose regulations. Some charged exorbitantly high interest rates.
Authorities have halted issuing licenses to new online lenders since late 2017, and tightened oversight to ensure interest rates on some loans are capped at an annual percentage rate of 36%. As of July, fewer than 800 peer-to-peer lenders remained in operation, from more than 2,600 in early 2016, according to industry website wdzj.com.Borrowing BingeShort-term borrowing makes up a rising proportion of household debt in China.Source: WindNote: 1 trillion yuan = $140 billion.trillion yuanShort-term loans forbusiness purposesMortgages, auto loansand other longer-termdebtShort-term consumerloans2004’06’08’10’12’14’16’1801020304050
The average consumer spending of Chinese credit-card holders between ages 21 and 30 in 2016 was around $8,820, 39% higher than their average credit line of $6,360, according to data from Oliver Wyman, a New York-based consulting firm. Consumers can spend more than their credit limits by taking out additional loans from other channels, such as online lenders, or with subsidies from family.
Wang Xinyu, 24, says he has about $11,200 in debt spread over six credit cards, much of it accrued when he was in college and found it easy to swipe cards to pay for everyday expenses.
Mr. Wang, who earns about $600 a month working at a Beijing bookstore, says he now puts his entire salary toward paying down his debt. He still relies on credit cards to pay for food and rent, and sometimes uses one credit card to pay back another.
Young people in China are being “pushed by the tide of the era” in their reliance on easy credit to pay for things, he says.
JPMorgan estimates China’s ratio of household debt to gross domestic product will climb to 61% by 2020. That’s up from 26% in 2010 and higher than current levels in Italy and Greece.
The level in the U.S. is about 76%, after falling from 98% in 2006, according to the International Monetary Fund.
By another measure—the ratio of household debt to disposable income—China appears to have already surpassed the U.S. Its ratio reached 117.2% in 2018, up from 42.7% in 2008, according to calculations by Lei Ning, a researcher at the Institute for Advanced Research at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. The U.S. peaked at 135% in 2007 and dropped to 101% in 2018.
China has passed the U.S. in one measure of debt, and is catching up in another.
Household debt to disposable income
Household debt to gross domestic product
Sources: Institute for Advanced Research, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (disposable income); International Monetary Fund (GDP)
Some economists remain unconcerned by the rise in household debt, noting that default rates with consumer loans appear relatively low.
One fear, others say, is that China’s slowdown could be exacerbated if young Chinese lose their jobs or see their wages cut, and have to sharply curtail spending. If they don’t and continue falling into further debt, they could become even more vulnerable in future years.
As the U.S. saw in the 2008 financial crisis, default rates can shoot up rapidly when growth slows.
This generation “has no idea what a rainy day feels like,” said Dong Tao, an economist at Credit Suisse in Hong Kong. “Any consumer credit boom will always be tested—no exception,” he says.
He points to mortgage debt as a deepening problem across China’s economy, including for young people. Mortgage debt outstanding grew from $1.1 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2012 to $3.9 trillion as of June.
Mortgages accounted for about a third of China’s medium- to long-term loans, up from 20% in 2012, according to the People’s Bank of China.
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Parents often help young Chinese to buy a home, which Mr. Tao sees as a danger, with multiple generations now required to afford a single property. A similar phenomenon occurred in Japan in the 1980s, he says, sometimes with three generations helping to pay for a mortgage—a sign the market was overheated. Japan’s economy eventually entered a protracted slowdown as equity and real-estate asset prices corrected.
China’s slowing job growth adds to the challenge. This year, more than 8.3 million college students are expected to graduate, compared with around six million a decade ago and only 165,000 in 1978. Yet some of China’s most desirable employers, like e-commerce company JD.com Inc., have cut jobs as growth ebbs. Last year, a record 2.9 million individuals took the entrance exam for graduate school.
Lu Yu, a 26-year-old who works in human resources for the German technology company Robert Bosch GmbH in Shanghai, says he feels more economic pressure now, including a need to help care for his parents. He is living with them at home while an apartment he recently bought—with his parents’ help—is undergoing renovations.
Still, he says he “can’t do mundane jobs that require me to follow the rules” and would like to keep spending on products “that help improve my living environment, like high-quality towels and aromatherapy products.” While his parents are reluctant to spend on fine dining and travel, he aims to travel twice a year, including recent trips to Japan, Cambodia and Thailand.
“For me, if the money isn’t spent on enriching your spirit and bringing you happiness, then what’s the point? Are we supposed to live so that we can save money?”
Unlike the 2008 global financial crisis, which was mostly a large negative aggregate demand shock, the next recession is likely to be caused by permanent negative supply shocks from the Sino-American trade and technology war. And trying to undo the damage through never-ending monetary and fiscal stimulus will not be an option.
NEW YORK – There are three negative supply shocks that could trigger a global recession by 2020. All of them reflect political factors affecting international relations, two involve China, and the United States is at the center of each. Moreover, none of them is amenable to the traditional tools of countercyclical macroeconomic policy.
The first potential shock stems from the Sino-American trade and currency war, which escalated earlier this month when US President Donald Trump’s administration threatened additional tariffs on Chinese exports, and formally labeled China a currency manipulator. The second concerns the slow-brewing cold war between the US and China over technology. In a rivalry that has all the hallmarks of a “Thucydides Trap,” China and America are vying for dominance over the industries of the future: artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, 5G, and so forth. The US has placed the Chinese telecom giant Huawei on an “entity list” reserved for foreign companies deemed to pose a national-security threat. And although Huawei has received temporary exemptions allowing it to continue using US components, the Trump administration this week announced that it was adding an additional 46 Huawei affiliates to the list.
The third major risk concerns oil supplies. Although oil prices have fallen in recent weeks, and a recession triggered by a trade, currency, and tech war would depress energy demand and drive prices lower, America’s confrontation with Iran could have the opposite effect. Should that conflict escalate into a military conflict, global oil prices could spike and bring on a recession, as happened during previous Middle East conflagrations in 1973, 1979, and 1990.
All three of these potential shocks would have a stagflationary effect, increasing the price of imported consumer goods, intermediate inputs, technological components, and energy, while reducing output by disrupting global supply chains. Worse, the Sino-American conflict is already fueling a broader process of deglobalization, because countries and firms can no longer count on the long-term stability of these integrated value chains. As trade in goods, services, capital, labor, information, data, and technology becomes increasingly balkanized, global production costs will rise across all industries.
Moreover, the trade and currency war and the competition over technology will amplify one another. Consider the case of Huawei, which is currently a global leader in 5G equipment. This technology will soon be the standard form of connectivity for most critical civilian and military infrastructure, not to mention basic consumer goods that are connected through the emerging Internet of Things. The presence of a 5G chip implies that anything from a toaster to a coffee maker could become a listening device. This means that if Huawei is widely perceived as a national-security threat, so would thousands of Chinese consumer-goods exports.
It is easy to imagine how today’s situation could lead to a full-scale implosion of the open global trading system. The question, then, is whether monetary and fiscal policymakers are prepared for a sustained – or even permanent – negative supply shock.
Following the stagflationary shocks of the 1970s, monetary policymakers responded by tightening monetary policy. Today, however, major central banks such as the US Federal Reserve are already pursuing monetary-policy easing, because inflation and inflation expectations remain low. Any inflationary pressure from an oil shock will be perceived by central banks as merely a price-level effect, rather than as a persistent increase in inflation.
Over time, negative supply shocks tend also to become temporary negative demand shocks that reduce both growth and inflation, by depressing consumption and capital expenditures. Indeed, under current conditions, US and global corporate capital spending is severely depressed, owing to uncertainties about the likelihood, severity, and persistence of the three potential shocks.
In fact, with firms in the US, Europe, China, and other parts of Asia having reined in capital expenditures, the global tech, manufacturing, and industrial sector is already in a recession. The only reason why that hasn’t yet translated into a global slump is that private consumption has remained strong. Should the price of imported goods rise further as a result of any of these negative supply shocks, real (inflation-adjusted) disposable household income growth would take a hit, as would consumer confidence, likely tipping the global economy into a recession.
Given the potential for a negative aggregate demand shock in the short run, central banks are right to ease policy rates. But fiscal policymakers should also be preparing a similar short-term response. A sharp decline in growth and aggregate demand would call for countercyclical fiscal easing to prevent the recession from becoming too severe.
In the medium term, though, the optimal response would not be to accommodate the negative supply shocks, but rather to adjust to them without further easing. After all, the negative supply shocks from a trade and technology war would be more or less permanent, as would the reduction in potential growth. The same applies to Brexit: leaving the European Union will saddle the United Kingdom with a permanent negative supply shock, and thus permanently lower potential growth.
Such shocks cannot be reversed through monetary or fiscal policymaking. Although they can be managed in the short term, attempts to accommodate them permanently would eventually lead to both inflation and inflation expectations rising well above central banks’ targets. In the 1970s, central banks accommodated two major oil shocks. The result was persistently rising inflation and inflation expectations, unsustainable fiscal deficits, and public-debt accumulation.
Finally, there is an important difference between the 2008 global financial crisis and the negative supply shocks that could hit the global economy today. Because the former was mostly a large negative aggregate demand shock that depressed growth and inflation, it was appropriately met with monetary and fiscal stimulus. But this time, the world would be confronting sustained negative supply shocks that would require a very different kind of policy response over the medium term. Trying to undo the damage through never-ending monetary and fiscal stimulus will not be a sensible option.