The proliferation of the average cabinet shop owes it's very existence to free money and Martha Stewart. Martha helped define the benchmark of tribal status and the subprime mortgage market had it's origins in the money changers Jesus drove out of the temple.
The money changers have had a lot of time to accumulate rent on their dollar. This pile of dollars has grown exponentially to where there simply isn't enough demand to absorb the dollars that are available. Some rent is better than no rent so the highest yield is to sell a mortgage to anybody and get them to pay you at least something.
That all went bust but the pile is still there and still growing. Wall street now has figured out that if they can't sell you a house and rent you the money to pay for it they can just buy the house themselves and rent it to you. Institutional investors are scouring the neighborhoods with all cash offers starting first with real estate that has the best ratios (price to earnings) and gradually descending to a slum near you.
What does this bode for the cabinet shop five to ten years out from now? While a homeowner might be a little bit sentimental about the place they live a landlord is just a General Contractor, good enough is good enough.
Compound interest will make the owners of money richer and the divide between owners and peasants more profound.
Inflation benefits those who are borrowing because they get to pay back with less valuable money. It hurts those with cash or cash equivalents (CD's) because their $ is worth less everyday. Who is the biggest borrower? Uncle Sam. Big time inflation hurts the overall economy because it usually feeds on itself. Prices go up because of the expectation of the money received for the product will be worth less, how much less gets to be a form of gambling. In general those holding assets as objects are less affected by inflation. The value of their property goes up in lock step with the devaluation of the money it represents. Because there are cycles in the economy you have to take the view that the above are true long term, not necessarily short term.
"Compound interest will make the owners of money richer and the divide between owners and peasants more profound."
It certainly will. The average peasant has very little money smarts. If a peasant invested what he spends on tobacco, fancy cars, & beer from the day he entered the work force until he retired, he'd have a small fortune. Over a million $! All due to simple understanding of compounding and assigning a future value rather than enhancing his ego by looking cool (or like an idiot.)
An exercise: you're 20, will retire @ 60 =40yr. You spend $10/ day on the above items. Every month you invest that in a diversified portfolio that gains x%/year.
If X=6% FV is 597,447
X=8% FV is 1,047,302
x=10% FV is $1,897,224
That's what you would have in todays value. I believe that someone with reasonable smarts can achieve the 10% over the long term invested in that terrible thing the stock market. Fools sell when the market goes down, saw a lot of that in 2008. Nearly impossible to time the market but like Beat the Dealer in blackjack you can improve your odds.
I'm not talking in rhymes and I'm not talking about talking about inflation. I'm talking about the landscape in front of us cabinetmakers.
There is so much money that needs a place to park and this pile of money keeps increasing everyday. Capital always seeks out the highest rate of return and right now that's looking like rental houses. Like everybody's got to eat everybody needs to have a place to live.
A large part of our customer base are people who want to improve on their housing. People who are just entering the marketplace or who are buying condominiums are buying places with Chinese made cabinets. Builders only care about "good enough" and chinese cabinets are good enough.
As fewer and fewer people with discretionary income can afford to buy houses (i.e. can afford to compete with all cash offers by wallstreet backed REITS) then fewer of us who provide custom cabinets will have customers.
It's real easy to pound on the poor and their profligate ways. This is standard marching orders for some of our political parties. It's also a lot easier to be a good money manager when you have enough money to manage. Try out your protestant ethic sometime when you can't quite cover your rent..........say when your wife or husband lose their job or some Wallstreet firm buys the house they are renting.
You can spend your income or defer it and you can invest it. If you do this the key is collecting rent for your money. Dividends, rentals, bonds.
The thing about inflation is that it is not a given or necessary. From 1776 until 1913 there was no inflation.
Another thing about inflation is since the central bank has printed 4-6 trillion dollars in the past 6 years, where is the inflation? You would think it would be much higher than what we see, which imo is about 10%.
To what Nostrils is miffed about, is that inflation by definition is an increase in the money supply. This hugely benefits people who can borrow at historically low rates and invest ahead of inflation. This has occurred twice in the history of the US once was in the late 1920s the other is Now. IMO anyone who goes long on stock is partying like it is 1929...
I agree with your assessment of the facts on the ground. A couple years into the housing crash, banks figured out it was better for their balance sheets to be landlords than to flood the market with foreclosures and drive down prices of the assets on their books (their survival depended on it, in many cases). Meanwhile, cash buyers stepped in to buy what properties have been put on the market. The net result being the rich getting much richer, and a huge percentage of society being locked out of owning a home and building wealth.
The effect on cabinet shops is that the market has shrunk considerably. Those piles of money sitting on the sideline aren't going to be directed at building new homes. This wouldn't be much of a problem for existing cabinet shops if employment was close to full levels. But it's not. So you have many more shops (capacity) than overall demand can support, leading to deflation. But guess what: rich people love deflation. It increases the value of their assets and maintains their position of power. And as long as the powerful are in control of congress and monetary policy, I wouldn't expect conditions to change anytime soon.
And yet again, pat is wrong about basically everything. Nobody has any degree of certainty about economic conditions in 2030, or 2018, or even 6 months from now. And as for the ideological distaste for fed induced inflation, it's important to contrast that to deflation. For much of the 1800's, there were long periods of deflation, much like we've been experiencing here since 2008 with housing (except much longer). Most people would prefer an economy with moderate inflation (1980's and 90's) to moderate deflation (2008 to present). The fed has done what they can during this period to fight deflation. It's been republicans who have been fighting to maintain deflation. For the most part, they have won, which is why the economy is still doing poorly.
"Capital always seeks out the highest rate of return and right now that's looking like rental houses."
I don't disagree, in years past that has been the way to go. In the future demographics make that less certain as well as the generation behind us have different values. Especially if you are leveraged to do this.
"A large part of our customer base are people who want to improve on their housing. People who are just entering the marketplace or who are buying condominiums are buying places with Chinese made cabinets."
Part of the economy is that technology always lowers the cost of things. Trade is a central part of this. It raises the standard of living of everyone, except the ones who hold on to dated technology, as they make themselves obsolete.
Because of the aforementioned inflation and it benefiting those at the top. You see record sales at the top of the retail market, Tiffanys, Louis Vuton (sp), collector cars. These guys are not middle class type buyers and I might add difficult to make a buck off of.
Some good news is that the trade deficit is going to shift away from China. When countries trade there is a balance sheet, it cannot go forever in one direction. That does not mean that manufacturing is going to come back to the US the way it was, but some of it will. This means that prices are going to be higher for the goods you see in Walmart as the dollar is not going to have as much value. But is also means that more goods are going to be manufactured right here. Also the US is projected to produce as much oil as Saudi Arabia in 2016. This will help all manufacturing as energy costs effects every aspect of the economy.
But one of the main drivers of the economy is demographics which is going to be affected by the aging of the boomers.
I will say that in my experience the age that people spend money on kitchens is between 50 and 60. The bulk of the boomers were born in 56-57, I would think that there will still be a demand for kitchens? Or maybe China has taken that away? But the increasing value of the Yuan and the eminent downward economic pressure in China may help?
My understanding is that wall street is getting out of the reit business.
The markets change and you have to change with them. Often the change (as in Paul the table guys example, the changes are subtle) is something we did to ourselves?
One thing for sure conflating separate causes into one big "cause" of the problem will hurt you, as you are not looking at the real situation.
Some poor got that way through no fault of their own, some keep themselves that way through their "profligate" ways. Some from growing up around people that feel they are "owed." The government certainly doesn't help with their all or none approach welfare. People shouldn't lose all their support payments when they start making a low wage. The schools don't help by their poor teaching of personal responsibility and how to manage money. I've seen what seems to be a common occurrence when someone gets their first credit card.
"Try out your protestant ethic" I would but I don't have one.
Do you have employees?
According to my customer demographics the average age of a typical kitchen customer in the $15-$30K price range is 35-40 years old +/- 5 years. Average age of their kids is 2-14.
The sweet spot is that demographic that has kids coming up to or in the middle of soccer years. You can get a good ricochet effect if you handle the first one right. They're still young enough that tribal position is a driving influence and the house they could afford to buy usually needs some work.
Long range forecast has the economy crashing around September of 2018, right when I'm scheduled to get on the tit myself. The only variable we can't predict is when the astroid is going to show up.
Yes. I got a half dozen employees. Great kids. They work really hard and keep improving every day.
But, the doom-mongers never go away. They're perpetually wrong. At least they have been for the 40 years I've been reading and observing them.
2018? 2030? 20-whatever? It's all baloney.
Over the last 10 years, despite the best efforts of our misguided federal government to stupidly try to engineer ownership of houses by people who shouldn't own them, to waste trillions on unstimulating "stimulus," to totally screw up the nation's health-care system, to regulate the coal industry out of existence, to tax producers at an even higher rate and no end of other stupidity what has happened?
The economy seems to be finally shrugging it all off. The fruitless, misguided Keynesian policies (this stuff was discredited by the lousy results it got in the 1930s and 1970s) certainly took their toll -- we've had crappy growth for 5 years now, far, far below what it should have been.
But, there are unmistakable signs that things are looking better. Markets -- and by markets I mean employers -- seem to believe that the ability of the current government to do further damage is going to stop.
Why do I say that? Because the only relatively short-term thing I watch is all positive.
Federal withholding tax receipts are up by about 7% year-over-year and have been for some time.
Knock off 1% for reported labor-force growth and 1% for reported wage growth (could that stuff be any more sluggish?) and that's about 4-5% real growth in some combination of total employment and compensation reflected in ACTUAL TAX PAYMENTS. You can't tax it if someone didn't earn it.
Far more growth than you see in any of the other stats.
And that's reflective of actual taxes paid by actual people (like many on this board) who have actual employees, and paid in actual cash that they don't want to part with unless they have to. They have to because they paid the wages.
In other words, unlike all of the other federal statistics that are a lot of guesswork and sampling and estimates and adjustments and statistical plugs, federal withholding tax collected is a real-time, unadjusted statistic telling us something about what's actually going on RIGHT NOW. As in today. This month.
Reported on a DAILY basis by the US Treasury.
That this growth is now going on is reflected in corporate earnings and even in a recent thread on this board with about 9 of 10 reporting being busy or swamped. A far cry from the whining of the last 5 years. That may be anecdotal, but even that says something.
Unless you think that every number the government publishes is made-up, the Treasury tax payment numbers can't be ignored.
So, chin up, boys, all is not lost, the Fed and the multitude of other government idiots notwithstanding.
Our economy is capable of withstanding even unprecedented onslaughts of really, really stupid economic ideas and it still survives and then eventually prospers.
Despite all odds and in spite of all the economic ignoramuses full of really dumb ideas that were all the rage 80 years ago.
You have said in the past that the trade deficit does not matter. I respectfully disagree. The source of my thinking is Michael Pettis and David Stockman.
Yes Nixon took us off of the gold standard. His hand was forced by LBJ and the inflation created by the Vietnam War.
The floating exchange rate is what exacerbated the problem by allowing the mercantilism that China exploited and allowed the US politicians to spend like they have.
The guys making the prediction are 95% correct they are no slouches. I started reading their book, because Stiles Machinery uses them.
Keynesian policies are definitely a liability to the economy, IMO only exist to allow politicians to spend like they have. Starting with FDR and his 10 yr of hell, but even Keynes would not say that FDR practiced Keynesian economics. The notion of the 1.5 multiplier is pure propaganda.
But Monetarism is the other side of the same coin as Keynesianism. Both believe that the economy can be controlled by government.
I don’t see why you would hang your hat on 7% growth in payroll tax. After Bernanke has printed 6 trillion dollars out of thin air, that is the best that the FED can do? 7% growth from the abyss? An increase in underemployed people or workers whose benefits have run out or (hopefully) a rebalancing of international trade. But hardly anything to write home about or particularly prescient.
I wonder more about what the full impact of Obama care will be or the full impact of Frank Dodd or the impact of Obama raising taxes after the midterms. That might be what the Beaulieus are looking at.
The economy cycles whether the Ks or the Ms want it to or not. We are probably at the top of the current cycle. The Beaulieus state here:
“Total Private Sector Job Openings are 6.4% higher than last year, but here again the rate of growth is slowing. A slowdown in the amount of job openings is not the way to ramp up employment and consumer spending. The manufacturing sector, often in the news and important to our economic health, is posting a slim 0.6% year-over-year gain in employment. That growth rate is likely to hold at about that level, keeping manufacturing employment growth well below the 1.5% average of the last two years.
None of this spells doom for the economy, but it does mean that readers would do well to watch their cash balances now and cash projections for the latter half of 2014.”
Is this negative? I don’t know, it just is. I would think that because of rebalancing and a source of energy the US manufacturing sector will do better over the next decade and a half. But the economy does have cycles.
The very urge to stop these cycles is the problem in the first place as the Ks and the Ms have tried to get rid of the down part of the cycle which has stopped market clearing which is necessary to get rid of the Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanleys, of the world and give a haircut to the derivative portion of AIG or GE and take away the bonuses to Imelt and Buffet’s ilk. And return to meritocracy.
Anyway the debt is not going to go away and this event has not occurred in the history of this country. As with all countries that go to a fiat currency this country will fail, the reason is going to a fiat currency. IMO it is better to know what the barriers are than to pretend they don’t exist.
No disrespect intended as I have definitely gone to school off of your posts.
I point out the 7% growth in withholding as it points to a stronger underlying economy than is portrayed by most stats.
It's real money paid by real people on real income. It's absolutely current data and not subject to revision or adjustment or anything else. Cash coming into the federal till. Simple as that.
As for the Fed, they've inflated their balance sheet by about 3 trillion, but most of that is being held as excess reserves by member banks at the Fed -- earning .25%. A nice gift to the banks to fatten up their skimpy balance sheets coming out of the recession. Very little has leaked into the real economy -- yet. The trick will be to withdraw the excess liquidity over time.
No serious inflation threat is in evidence so far. If there were, TIPS and gold would not be selling where they are. That's not to say that the Fed will succeed, but I suspect that the ridiculous national debt will be allowed to be eaten away at by inflation of about 3% per year. 3% cuts the real value in half in less than 25 years.
Goldman, et al aren't going anywhere, and they really don't matter to the day-to-day real economy other than that we would all miss them in the long-term if they were gone. Like it or not, investment banking is important.
Much more important is that we get fiscal policy in order going forward and the prospects of that happening are looking much better. The incontrovertible evidence of that is that actual employers are paying more money to more people resulting in higher withholding.
That's not happening because employers are pessimistic about the future.
You may be reading the wrong economists. Doom-and-gloomers are a dime a dozen and anyone can cherry-pick 100 statements out of thousands made and peddle whatever percentage of being "right" they desire.
Anyone can be negative, it's easy. Human contrariness almost dictates that most will be. There are always many problems with the economy, but our prospects are improving. I see no reason to be negative on the economy right now.
The question is the quality of the jobs being created.
The better trick with the banks would be not to put the excess liquidity there in the first place.
I think that is the basic disagreement, recessions are a necessary part of the economy, albeit not popular, as this is when the nonproductive companies get removed from the economy.
The problem is when the Goldman Sachs of the world are bailed out as this does not allow the market to clear and investment to go to where it creates real value. Hank Paulson ran around like Chicken Little telling everyone that the economy would collapse if there was no bailout so a befuddled Bush and congress complied.
After all the printing of money out of thin air the economy still has not recovered because of this and incessant meddling from the government. Which leads to pessimism. With Obama care, Frank Dodd, midterm tax increases, who would be optimistic?
The money has filtered down from the people closest to the spigot as witnessed by the construction bonanza on Rodeo Dr and in real estate and the stock market. But this does not create real sustained growth.
There is nothing wrong with investment banking, except when they get bailed out. If they want to leverage their investment to the hilt no problem but when they screw up the taxpayers should not be used as the backstop. But I get what you are saying, Michael Milken created a lot of jobs and companies through his junk bonds as I’m sure Goldman Sachs has. But they should be gone because of their mistakes and the next generation of investment bankers will learn from their mistakes. More importantly investment capital has not been used to create real value, instead it has gone to entities that should be dead.
You characterize my comments as negative, so be it, but it is far easier to tell people what they want to hear. The economy will be good save a couple of recessions until the debt catches up to the politics. The idea of the debt being paid by inflation is dangerous at best, most likely this will not work because of voter apathy and politics and if the interest rates go to historic norms the debt service alone will be a trillion dollars a year.
This will be compounded by deflationary pressures caused by technology and demographics and worldwide economic rebalancing. Meaning that the debt will grow because of deflation. Printing money to fix this problem does not work, witness Abenomics for what 20 years?
As long as the myth of government intervention through either Keynesian or Monetarism continue there is little doubt that there will be a huge correction at some point. Combined with voter complacency there is no doubt that Friedman’s floating exchange rate, Greenspan’s “repair” of the .com bubble, Bernanke’s “repair” of the housing bubble, Yellens “repair” of Bernanke’s handiwork, and on and on until we will pine for the good old days of 17 trillion dollars of current debt and 100 trillion of unfunded liabilities.
The positive thing to do is be wary of negative thinking and equally wary of rose colored glasses, rather have a keen eye on the reality of the situation and look for REAL opportunity.
In many ways its good that much of the huge pile of $ that has been created to save us, is tied up in banks and not in circulation. If it was actually being used we would likely have serious inflation.
Some countries using the Euro are suffering from not being able to print their way out of the monetary bind they are in. Inflation is a 2 way street with lots of curves. It steals from those holding cash or = and gives the government a way to pay interest with cheap money. There is some psychological value in it. If it remains moderate the peasants think they actually got a raise and can blame business for higher prices. Politicians always look for someone else to blame.
I think you understand it, but it sounds like you also have an anti-inflationary bias, and by extension and anti full employment bias. People have been spouting about the dangers of hyper inflation, while we are in the midst of moderate deflation.
It's like turning the heater off in your house during the depth of winter because you're worried about how hot it's going to be next summer.
All things in moderation! That certainly hasn't been the case with creating $. I can't see how increasing inflation leads to job growth. If that were the case there are countries where inflation has been historically high, by our standards, and yet their economies are usually in shambles. Deflation is the drop in prices. The only thing that dropped seriously was housing prices, for good reason considering the stupid bubble that was created by the lending practices encouraged by poor controls. If the entity that made a loan was the one that got hit when it failed there wouldn't have been a bubble. It's always a good idea to pass the risk on to someone else! A lot of BS has been taken as true about a house being a good investment.
Inflation is a myth that has no value save benefiting the rich and robbing the poor.
There was zero inflation from 1776 to 1913.
The central bank creates the inflation by increasing the money supply.
Some European countries are having trouble because the low interest rates benefit Germany at the expense of Spain and the other PIGS. This is mercantilism the same as it is in China. This will force Spain and others to leave the EU.
Inflation cannot be created with a gold backed currency. If you look at any graph of public debt, it hockey sticks in 1971 when Nixon took us off of the gold standard.
Housing is a good investment for the community. It's probably the best investment. For this reason it is good policy for the government to encourage home ownership.
When people own the houses they live in they take a stake in their neighborhood. Schools are better when people take a stake in their neighborhood. Business locates where schools are good because the best employees want to live where their kids can get a good education. Communities with good employment opportunities are better communities to live in.
I have never sold a kitchen to a renter. Not once. I probably never will.
If you lock people out of the community success then you're going to be living in Mexico. Great place to visit but I wouldn't want my children educated there.
I didn't say people shouldn't own a house. But promoting it as a good investment, I.E. a means of increasing one's wealth, it runs a poor 5th or 6th place. The only way it can increase in true value ( ahead of inflation) is to have a restricted supply of the desirable ones.
So many people are such poor money managers that the house payment is a way of forcing some (sort of) savings. That goes down the drain when they refinance to get $ for the new car etc.
Pat, "Inflation is a myth that has no value save benefiting the rich and robbing the poor." The poor aren't robbed because they have no money to inflate away. The rich are mostly covered because they have most of their value in "stuff" not cash. The stuff goes up in price as the $ goes down in value. The ones that get robbed are in the middle. People that hold any form of cash savings. There is no bigger loser than the mom & pop that have $ in "safe" places. FDIC insured saving account, CD's, government bonds, etc. Even worse the various forms of "cash value" insurance schemes and annuities.
The gold standard does not preclude inflation. If supply fails to meet demand the price will rise in gold terms or paper. The market place is one big auction.
Take a look @ the price of gold over the last couple of years. Not such a safe haven! Pure speculation, not investment. Gold has some really good uses, but most of it is wasted on gewgaws to boost someone's ego. Locking piles of it in a vault certainly limits it's supply for actual use and can drive it's price.
You might want to consider adding paragraphs to your posting repertoire?
Assuming the middle class or poor’s wages keep up with inflation that is true. But as you indicated before it does not. SS has taken a hit regarding the COLA. Not to mention that the CPI is skewed to not include energy or housing.
An argument could be made that the poor’s government transfers do not get calculated as income. So the middle class get the worst of it.
In deflationary times cash is more valuable than gold.
“If supply fails to meet demand the price will rise in gold terms or paper.”
This is a fallacy as inflation is not caused by supply and demand it is caused by an increase in the money supply. The market corrects quickly and the supply will rise to meet the demand. EG my first computer was 4k and had less power than a cell phone.(Moore’s law)
Gold is a hedge against inflation. It does not go up in value in deflation.
We are experiencing deflation in spite of the FED printing. There is inflation at the supermarket and high end goods and real estate but this because of the aforementioned money going to the banks. The cost of goods at Walmart or Amazon, the cost of cars, the cost of cabinets, wages, are all going down.
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