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3 of the Hardest Finance Decisions Startup CEOs Must Make

September 3, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

When you’re the CEO of a startup, you go through many problems that don’t have one right answer. Also, many of these problems don’t have any perfect solutions. In these scenarios, you must be able to find the best possible solution and move forward. While this may seem straightforward, it’s one of the hardest things to do correctly as the CEO.

An area where this applies early on in a startup is when it comes to how to spend your company’s money. Often, the CEO must think differently than the rest of the team of how funds are allocated. No one is going to obsess about how much is left in the bank like the CEO will, and no one will appear more like Mr. Scrooge.

Below, I’ll share three tough financial decisions that every CEO must make. Early on in a startup’s life, these decisions hold a lot of weight but also are hard to get right.

1. How much to pay your teammates

When you first start your company, you most likely will not be able to pay your early employees competitive salaries. In fact, you may have to pay them in free housing, booze, or whatever else you can find besides money. At some point, you must find the sweet spot of how much you feel is fair to pay someone and how much you can afford. While giving out shares can help, in most cases it’s not enough to get people to go all in. At the least, people want to break even and live in a comfortable environment.

Seems fair enough, until your startup starts running out of money or faces roadblocks. When this happens, it’s natural to try and be more conservative to keep the company going. At the same time, you’ll have team members who after a while will want more money. Give in and you may not have the funding you need to solve the problems your business is going through. Don’t give in, and your teammates may revolt and leave.

The easiest way to solve this problem early on is to take the lowest salary of anyone in your company. As the CEO, you’re most likely having the greatest impact on your business. So if you can live on a lower salary and still have that kind of impact it has a big affect on the rest of the team.

2. How short your willing to make your runway

This is the hardest financial decision you’ll face early on in your company. This is where CEOs must decide if they are either going to be conservative or risk taking. When you raise a round of funding, a major decision you’ll need to make is how long you’re going to make the money last.

As you company hits roadblocks or starts to hit stride, your teammates will ask you to up the burn rate to solve the problem or to grow. But as the CEO, you must know when to say no and be safe or risk it and make the jump.

3. How much you’re going to pay yourself

Every situation is different. If you have a family of 5 and everyone else on the team is single, your expenses are going to be much different. With that said, I strongly advise that as the CEO you only take as much money as you need to get by. And if at all possible, take the lowest. Try to avoid any special treatment or benefits that your team tries to give you early on. Perks will lead to more problems than the benefits are worth.

I know this hard to do because it seems counterintuitive. You’re the top dog, so you deserve the most and the best. There is no problem in having this mentality, but just know it comes with consequences. It makes it easier for your team to separate from you, and it makes it easier for your title to go to your head.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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The Student Loan Crisis Is Mounting

September 3, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Addison Quale writes: “You need a college degree to succeed in America.” This idea has become so commonplace that the right to higher education is now a core issue in most political platforms. What if a young person cannot afford a college degree? The “obvious” answer from politicians on both sides of the aisle is that the government should subsidize them. Very few are brave enough to ask the far more important question: “At what cost?”

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Why The Rally Just Fizzled: Draghi’s "Puff" Was Not Enough

September 3, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Zero Hedge

Confused why the blistering rally off the open following Draghi’s uber-dovish commentary has faded? The following note from BMO’s Mark Steele may explain it.

Not Enough Puff


This morning, Draghi adjusts QE to continue to puff up the ECB balance sheet. That’s helpful for global risk markets, but it’s not enough. Globally, the net figure shows central banks are blowing out their reserves;

  • That puff peaked last August – Figure 1 top.
  • Pricing on investment grade corporate credit debt peaked and started to turn lower that same month – Figure 1 middle, and Figure 2.
  • Then finally equities took the blow – Figure 1 bottom.

When mama’s credit market ain’t happy, eventually ain’t nobody happy;

  • That global corporate bond index in Figure 1 is trending lower at an annual rate of 6%/year – Figure 2.
  • Commodities, which didn’t really make it onto central bank balance sheets, have been in a bear market since 2011. They are falling at an annualized rate of 17%/year, and that’s ex everyone’s (yes ours too) focus on crude oil – Figure 3.

So, unless we see a turn in the synchronized bear trends in credit and commodities (and we are always looking), we’ll continue to frame many of our buy ideas in the relative and short-sale ideas in the absolute.


* * *

And this is what next: what goes up on no volume and in lockstep with crude oil, comes down harder and faster and on heavy volume:


With Russell 2000 and Nasdaq in the red now:

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Avoid These 5 Mistakes When Hiring an SEO Consultant

September 3, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

If your company is considering hiring an SEO consultant, either to assist your in-house SEO team or completely take over the entire search engine optimization effort, there are several mistakes you need to avoid.

Hiring the wrong consultant to take the helm of your search marketing effort can result in a huge mess that is not only difficult to clean up, but expensive as well. A simple Google search will bring up a bunch of consultant options, ranging greatly in skill level, experience and price. Here are five mistakes you need to avoid when hiring an SEO consultant for your company.

1. Hiring a consultant based on keyword ranking promises.

Many SEOs will try to sell you on keyword rankings. They will send you a fancy report every month that shows the position of the keywords, but how important are those rankings if they aren’t resulting in leads, sales and revenue for your business?

Image if you were ranking for two keywords, and one was ranking in the top position and the other was ranking at the bottom of page one. The keyword ranking number one only has 320 monthly searches and it was responsible for converting $1,000 in revenue the past month. The other keyword that’s at the bottom of page one has a monthly search volume of 12,200 and it was responsible for driving $7,000 in revenue the past month.

Would you rather a ranking report that highlights a number one ranking or do you want to know how much revenue your SEO campaign is generating and what your ROI is every month? Keyword rankings don’t matter. Revenue and ROI do. It’s important to work with an SEO consultant that understands what numbers truly matter.

2. Going into the relationship with unrealistic expectations.

SEO takes time. Anyone that is telling you he or she will have your website ranking in a matter of days is telling you what you want to hear in order to get you to sign the contract. An experienced SEO consultant will be able to give you an educated guess as to how soon you should expect to see increased traffic. This varies depending on your industry, competition, goals and strategy.

There are SEO services that promise results in a matter of days and some even guarantee number one rankings. Stay far away from these as they will greatly disappoint you, waste your time and money, as well as put your website in danger.

3. Hiring an SEO consultant based on lowest price.

While a $499/month SEO service might sound good to your accounting department, it’s going to end up costing you much more money in the long-run. When you really dive into what SEO entails you will understand that search engine optimization for a few hundred dollars a month is a pipe dream.

An experienced SEO consultant can charge thousands of dollars a month, depending on the campaign goals and competition. If you can’t afford an experience consultant it would be better to move slowly and attempt to do some of the ground work yourself, rather to hire a cheaper option. Low quality SEO can do severe damage to your website, requiring an extensive clean up effort, costing you more money in the long run than hiring the right SEO consultant from the start would have.

4. Hire an SEO consultant that sells pre-made packages.

There is absolutely no reason why you should be purchasing an SEO package. An effective SEO campaign is 100 percent custom and designed specifically for your website, your competition, your keywords and your campaign objectives. When you begin to search for a consultant you will often find that many will offer different package options, and these cookie-cutter packages are sold to every business.

Do you really think the same SEO strategy that is being applied to a hair salon in Boca Raton is going to be what a car dealership in Miami is going to need? Pre-packaged SEO is dangerous as well as ineffective.

5. Rely only on organic search traffic.

The worst thing you could do is put all of your eggs into one basket and have your company relying 100 percent on organic search traffic. Your traffic numbers could vanish overnight, for a number of reasons. A competitor could outrank you or Google could roll out an algorithm update that impacts your website. No SEO consultant, no matter how good he or she is, can predict what the search engines will do next.

It’s important to diversify your online marketing to include several forms of traffic, including paid search, social media, content marketing and display advertising, just to name a few. When you have several streams of traffic you can make an adjustment to increase the traffic from another outlet if a particular traffic source dries up.

Jonathan Long is the Founder & CEO of Market Domination Media®, an online marketing agency that provides SEO training and online marketing consulting. Jonathan also created EBOC (Entrepreneurs & Business Owners Community), a private business forum. Follow him on Twitter.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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Stock Market Prepares for the Next Decline

September 3, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Good Morning!
After reviewing the charts, I have come to the conclusion that we may be seeing a Leading Diagonal Wave (1) in the SPX and other major indexes. Note that both Waves 1 and 3 fit the [a]-[b]-[c] pattern better than an impulse because of overlap in Wave 1 and the Triangle [b] in Wave 3. We have already seen Waves [a] and [b] in Wave 5 with a large Wave [c] decline to go.

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Countering the Manitoba Menace

September 3, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Or, “President Obama, build up this wall!”

From Fox News:

Walker said in an interview that aired Sunday that building a wall along the country’s northern border with Canada is a legitimate issue that merits further review.

Republican candidates for president have often taken a get-tough approach on deterring illegal immigration, but they usually focus on the border with Mexico. Walker was asked Sunday morning on NBC’s “Meet the Press” whether he wanted to build a wall on the northern border, too. Walker said some people in New Hampshire have asked the campaign about the topic.

“They raised some very legitimate concerns, including some law enforcement folks that brought that up to me at one of our town hall meetings about a week and a half ago. So that is a legitimate issue for us to look at,” Walker said.

This is an interesting idea. Consider the distance that would need to be fenced in, or otherwise secured. The US-Canada border stretches over 5500 miles. Merely securing the contiguous 48 border with Canada requires putting barriers over 4000 miles.


Source: Eastwood, “How much would it cost to build a wall on the Canada-U.S. border?” Toronto Star, Aug. 31, 2015.

One estimate places the total cost at $18 billion, using the average cost estimate of $5.1 million/mile. The article cites “a report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to Congressional committees in 2009, which examined the construction costs of building fences on the Mexican border in 2007 and 2008.” Since the details weren’t presented, it’s hard to tell if that estimate includes costs associated with design and procurement of the land used for the wall. Other estimates of per-mile cost of building are presented in this Congressional Research Service report (pages 16-24). In addition, there is a maintenance issue, so that the present value cost is much higher than the build cost. From the CRS report:

The Corps of Engineers estimated that Sandia fencing costs per mile would range from $785,679 to $872,977 [in constant 1997 dollars] for construction and $953 to $7,628 per mile yearly for maintenance. Additionally, the Corps of Engineers study notes that the Sandia fence would possibly need to be replaced in the fifth year of operation and in every fourth year thereafter if man-made damage to the fence was “severe and ongoing.” For this reason, in the study the Corps of Engineers noted that the net present value of the fence after 25 years of operation, per mile, would range from $11.1 million to $61.6 million.

To convert to 2014 dollars, one can multiply by 1.48 (the 2014 CPI level is 47.5% higher than it was in 1997).

There are two questions that come to me. The first is the cost-effectiveness of building a physical barrier that impedes pedestrians. I suspect that the benefit-cost ratio is very, very low. The second is whether it’s still a bad idea. After all, spending to build something that is useless is akin to Keynes’s example:

“If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coalmines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again (the right to do so being obtained, of course, by tendering for leases of the note-bearing territory), there need be no more unemployment and, with the help of the repercussions, the real income of the community, and its capital wealth also, would probably become a good deal greater than it actually is. It would, indeed, be more sensible to build houses and the like; but if there are political and practical difficulties in the way of this, the above would be better than nothing.”

[Book 3, Chapter 10, Section 6 pg.129 “The General Theory..”]

Of course, it would be even better if the spending were on something useful like investment in human capital and the like. However, the Governor seems to have an aversion to such types of expenditures that augment potential output.

The Governor’s original statements were recorded on Sunday. On Tuesday, Governor Walker walked back his comment, as recounted in FoxNews:

“this is just a joke in terms of how people react to things” and claimed he wasn’t talking about a wall.

Given it took a whole day or two for the Governor to determine he was joking, I think we should take the Governor’s Sunday assertion as a true reflection of his views.

On the other hand, I don’t quite have a fix on the Governor’s current views on birthright citizenship; see the evolution of his views tabulated at PolitiFact.

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The Market Ticker – Just ‘Unfriend’ Me Now

September 3, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

By Karl Denninger, The Market Ticker

I’m fixing to start pruning back the bushes again…

The latest idiocy revolves around the KY Court Clerk who has refused to issue marriage licenses to gay people, despite being ordered to do so by multiple courts.

There is a meme that started being circulated around social media a couple of days ago which asked “well, if you support her, would you support a Puritan clerk who refused to issue pistol permits because she holds pacifist religious beliefs?

Sounds interesting as a discussion point, right?

No, it’s not.  It is in fact a gross insult on both points that it attempts to raise.

Folks, something that is a right cannot be conditioned on a permit or license.  Both…….

(Click link to read more)

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Central Banker Urges Lying To The Public About Bank Health

September 3, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Zero Hedge

For years, many – and certainly this website – had mocked both European and US stress tests as futile exercises in boosting investor and public confidence, which instead of being taken seriously repeatedly failed to highlight failing banks such as Dexia, Bankia and all the Greek banks, in the process rendering the exercise a total farce. The implication of course, is that regulators, thus central bankers, openly lied to the public over and over just to preserve what little confidence in the system has left.

Now we know that far from merely another “conspiracy theory”, this is precisely the policy intent behind the “stress tests” – as Reuters reports citing a paper co-authored by a Bundesbank economist, “banking supervisors should withhold some information when they publish stress test results to prevent both bank runs and excessive risk taking by lenders.”

In other words: lie.

Essentially the authors recommend instead of being a useful measure of banking sector health, all stress tests should do is boost skepticism in the entire financial system since bankers are too scared and too insecure to admit the full extent of the ugly picture.

Or, as Jean-Claude Juncker put it: “when it gets seriousm you have to lie.”

Why is this emerging now, and is it, well, about to “get serious”?

As Reuters notes, European banking authorities are due to carry out a fresh round of stress tests next year as they try to restore investor and depositor confidence in the continent’s banks after the financial crisis. So the answer is probably “yes.”

The paper, presented at a conference in Mannheim last week but yet to be published in its current form, says stress tests should be used to influence depositor behaviour and warns against giving too much away.”

Said otherwise, regulators should outright lie to the public. Why? “If depositors know from the watchdog that banks are in trouble, they will withdraw their cash, threatening lenders’ survival and causing the panic the supervisor is trying to avoid, the paper said.

Perhaps someone needs to explain to the Bundesbank central banker what the word “regulator” means: a quick scan through the thesaurus does not reveal “liar” as one of the synonyms. That, however, is irrelevant: the authors push on saying that the amount of information disclosed by supervisors should decrease the more vulnerable the banking sector is expected to be.

The optimal level of ‘informativeness’ … depends on the objective probability that the banking sector is vulnerable,” authors Wolfgang Gick, from the Free University of Bozen, and Thilo Pausch, an economist with the Bundesbank, wrote.

“As we find, the higher the latter probability, the less informative the optimal disclosure mechanism should be designed.””

It gets better: central banks should, the authors allege, also lie about healthy banks: “giving banks a clean bill of health also carries risks, according to Gick and Pausch, by encouraging depositors to leave their money in banks. That would undermine market discipline and lead lenders to take excessive risks, they wrote.”

For that reason, supervisors should always keep depositors on their toes by maintaining a degree of uncertainty about the health of banks, the paper concludes.

Brilliant: so on one hand, supervisors should lie about failing banks, but on the other “they should keep depositors on their toes.”

And the punchline: “The optimal stress-testing mechanism will leave depositors with some amount of residual uncertainty.”

When asked the Bundesbank said the paper does not necessarily reflect its view and is based on a specific theoretical model, noting different settings may produce different results. The European Central Bank declined to comment on the paper.

But others promptly agreed with the liars, pardon, the authors:

Richard Reid, a research fellow in finance and regulation at the University of Dundee, agreed that giving extensive details could lead to even bigger problems and rob regulators of a window to rectify problems, or make it harder for policymakers to deal with wider issues like sluggish growth.


“It’s an age-old problem for regulators, how much transparency there should be,” Reid said. “There is an argument of ‘let’s flush it out,’ but in the current situation the weak upturn is a key concern to central bankers, and if you spook markets about banks, then it might further complicate the provision of credit to the economy.”

True: it’s best to lie to depositors until the last minute, and when everything fails, to pull a Greece and threaten the country with civil war as Alexis Tsipras recently did unless the capital controls imposed on all depositors are implemented.

So to summarize: earlier today the “smartest ECB banker in the room” confirmed it was unable to predict the inflationary or GDP future as far ahead as just one quarter, and now the “regulators” are suggesting that any information coming from central banks will be nothing but lies.

And yet in this bizarro world where the smartest people are actually the dumbest, and those supposed to be the most honest are the biggest liars, the fate of everything lies in the hands of the Fed’s decision whether or not to hike rates from 0.0% where they have been for 7 years, to 0.25%…

Sorry, The Onion, but your IPO window is now forever gone.

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Mapping The Crisis Contagion Process: The Flowchart

September 3, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Zero Hedge

When one looks across markets and reflects on the actions of the world’s central banks since 2008, it’s easy to get confused. 

That is, how could it possibly have come to this?

In polite circles and certainly in the mainstream media echo chamber, Ben Bernanke’s deployment of unconventional monetary policy in the wake of the crisis is credited with pulling the world back from the edge of a veritable financial apocalypse and if that’s true, then the proliferation of these world-saving monetary measures should by all rights have brought about a dramatic global economic recovery. 

Only that didn’t happen.

Instead, we stand once again at the precipice of crisis and central banks are out of ammunition and, perhaps more importantly, completely out of credibility. Indeed, the fact that we are facing a new Asian Financial Crisis, emerging market mayhem, harrowing bouts of volatility accompanied by ever more frequent flash crashes across asset classes seems to prove that far from “smoothing out” the business cycle, Keynesianism gone wild in fact does the exact opposite: it creates the conditions for still greater booms and busts and thereby serves to destabilize markets. 

In light of the above, we present the following flowchart from BNP which should serve as a helpful roadmap for those wondering how we just went from one major crisis to another in the space of seven years and all we have to show for it is more debt and trillions in printing press money that did next to nothing to boost aggregate demand. 

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This Is Not A Retest – It’s A Live Bear!

September 3, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Zero Hedge

Submitted by David Stockman via Contra Corner blog,

By the lights of bubblevision, Tuesday’s plunge was just a bull market “retest” of last week’s lows, which posted at 1867 on the S&P 500. As is evident below, the test was passed with 80 points to spare at today’s close.

So according to the talking bull heads – CNBC had three of them on the screen at once about 2pm—–its time to start nibbling on all the bargains. Soon you may even want to just back up the truck.

You can supposedly see it right here in the charts. The market hit the October 15 Bullard Rip low last week, and has gone careening upwards where it is now allegedly forming a new bottom around 1950. Remember, its a process. Be patient.

^SPX Chart

^SPX data by YCharts

Not on your life! The world is heading into an unprecedented monetary deflation – with output and trade falling nearly everywhere. That implosion is already rumbling through Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Russia, Japan, the Persian Gulf oil states and countless lesser economies in between. And at the center, of course, is the unraveling of the Great Red Ponzi of China.

In the face of this on-coming economic storm, honest financial markets would have been selling off long ago, and, in fact, would never have approached today’s absurd levels of over-valuation. But financial markets have been hopelessly corrupted by two decades of massive central bank intrusion and falsification of asset prices. Consequently, Wall Street punters and their retainers and cheerleaders cannot see the forest for the trees.

Thus, one of today’s CNBC permabull threesome reassured viewers that the US economy is chugging along in fine fashion and that China is a big problem——but for the policymakers in Beijing, not the S&P 500.

The “1000 points of fright” last Monday is actually a gift. You can now buy the market at 15X, which is tantamount to a steal. So he said, and with no inconsiderable air of annoyance that anyone would think otherwise, let alone succumb to panic.

Well, let’s see. The implied “E” in that proposition is $130 per share on the S&P 500 for 2016. But that’s the Wall Street sell-side’s version of earnings ex-items.

So let’s start with where we are at the end of Q2 2015 in the real world of GAAP profits. That is, the kind of earnings that CEOs and CFOs certify to the SEC upon penalty of jail as fair, accurate and complete, according to well settled general accounting principles.

It turns out that the reported LTM net income (latest 12 months as of June 2015) of the 500 largest US companies in the index came in at $97.32 per share. But that’s down considerably from the LTM figure of $103.12 per share in the June quarter of last year, and was off by 8% from peak LTM earnings of $106 per share in the September quarter last fall.

What this means is that the market is not really trading at 15X at all, but closed today at 20X—–which is an altogether different kettle of fish. By the lights of permabulls like CNBCs 2pm trio, of course, the market is always trading at 15X and is always cheap. You might even think that Wall Street’s ex-items year-ahead EPS estimates are goal-seeked—-and you might well be on to something.

In any event, how do we leap the chasm from $97 per share and falling to $130 per share and soaring?  Well, you mount a Wall Street hockey stick, close your eyes to the rest of the world and hope for a swell ride.

In the alternative, you might want to scroll back to nearly an identical inflection point in mid-2007 when the Greenspan housing and credit bubble was nearing its apogee. To be specific, LTM GAAP earnings at the time were about $85 per share and the June 2007 quarter closed with the index at about 1500 or just 4% below its October peak of 1565.

So the market was positioned at 17.6X honest-to-goodness GAAP earnings in the eve of the Greenspan Bubble’s collapse. Needless to say, that was a pretty sporty multiple under the circumstances—–the rot in the Bear Stearns mortgage funds had already been exposed and the sub-prime market had gone stone cold in the spring. Yet it was well below today’s 20X.

Naturally, Wall Street didn’t see it that way at the time. The ex-items consensus for 2008 was $120 per share of S&P 500 earnings, meaning that it was indeed time to back-up the truck. You could buy the broad market for less than 13X, said the talking heads, or more specifically the very same trio that made its appearance today.

Indeed, the chasm between reported GAAP and the forward hockey stick ex-items was $35 per share at that point in time. Ironically, today’s spread between the reported actual and the Wall Street hopium is the exact same $35 per share.

Here’s what happened next. By the June 2008 LTM period, GAAP earnings had fallen to $51 per share and by June 2009, after the meltdown, S&P 500 earnings for the previous four quarters were, well, $8 per share!

That’s right. The great Greenspan financial bubble collapsed; the global economy buckled; and corporate balance sheets were purged of 7-years worth of failed investments and financial engineering maneuvers gone astray, among sundry other losses. In the end, Wall Street’s $120 per share hockey stick got smashed into smithereens.

Eight years later we are at an even more fraught inflection point. The post-crisis money-printing binge was orders of magnitude larger and more radical, and was universally embraced by every significant central bank on the planet. As a consequence, the resulting financial bubble has become far more incendiary than the one which burst in September 2008, and the distortions, deformations and malinvestments in the global economy dramatically more insidious.

Obviously the onrushing collapse of China’s purported miracle of red capitalism is the epicenter of this great global deflation, but every nook and cranny of the world economy is implicated; and its shock waves are already wreaking havoc in areas that were especially swollen by the China trade.

On a nearby page, for example, we outlined the unfolding disaster in Brazil. This chart on the trend in year-over-year retail trade is stunning because Brazil’s inflation rate is above 5%.  So when nominal sales plunge from the boom time rate of 11% to negative 1% in June, it means that real sales are shrinking at nearly a depressionary pace.



By all accounts, in fact, Brazil is plunging into its worst recession in the last half century. After years of booming jobs growth fueled by exports and a massive internal dose of monetary and fiscal profligacy, for example, its economy is now shedding workers at an unprecedented pace.



The point here is that Brazil is just the leading edge of the  epochal worldwide monetary reversal now underway. During the last 15 years its central bank balance sheet literally exploded, rising by more than 10X, while loans to the private sector more than quadrupled in the last seven years alone.

Brazil Central Bank Balance Sheet

Brazil Loans to Private Sector

The consequence was a frenzy of government and household spending and business investment, expansion and speculation that bloated, deformed and destabilized the Brazilian economy beyond recognition. And those distortions were not contained to the Amazon economic basin alone, but where connected by a two-way highway of financial and trade flows that penetrated right into the heart of the US economy.

In the first instance, the massive but artificial and unsustainable export boom to China and its EM satellites generated enormous capital inflows to Brazil which caused its exchange rate to soar, even as its government frantically attempted to contain its rise. During that pre-2012 period, its finance minister even coined the terms “currency wars”.

The effect of the China export boom and the massive capital inflow, however, was to create an economy with apparent dollar purchasing power far greater than its sustainable real wealth and output capacity. This immense distortion is best measured by the US dollar value of its GDP. As shown below, during the six years between 2006 and 2012, Brazil’s dollarized GDP grew at a fantastic 20% annual rate!

Brazil GDP

It is no wonder Miami became a boom town. Giddy Brazilians who had enough sense to realize its socialist government had not performed an economic miracle of fishes and loaves exchanged their red hot real’s for dollars and trucked northward to condo land in south Florida.

At the same time, its booming economy was a magnet for US money managers parched for yield in Bernanke’s ZIRP repressed market and for US exporters temporarily benefited by a dollar/BRL exchange rate that made them suddenly far more competitive. Accordingly, hundreds of billions of hot dollar capital flowed into Brazilian equity and corporate bond markets, while US exports nearly quadrupled in eight years.
US Exports of Goods to Brazil Chart

US Exports of Goods to Brazil data by YCharts

Here’s the point. The US economy was not “decoupled” from Brazil in the slightest during the expansion of the great global monetary boom that has now crested. Nor will it uncouple during the deflationary bust that must necessarily ensue.

The ultimate worldwide hit to US exports is evident in the 20% drop in shipments to Brazil shown in the chart above, and that’s just for starters because its economic depression is just getting underway. Likewise, the panicked flight of hot dollars from Brazil now besetting the global financial markets is only indicative of the turmoil to come as the massive “dollar short” unwinds on a global basis.

So this is not a retest. We are in the midst of an unprecedented global deflation. A real live bear market is once again at hand.

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