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Buying the Dip in XLE Stock? Here’s What You Need to Know

XLE stock is still up 30% YTD, and many signs signal the run is not over yet. Here’s what you should know before buying.
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Energy stocks are the talk of the town again after losing over 14% last week. After gaining over 70% in 2022, the Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (NYSE: XLE) was close to the last safe spot for investors. XLE stock is still up 30% YTD, and many signs signal the run is not over yet.

At the same time, with talks of a recession picking up, is it time to give up on energy? Many energy stocks are trading back to prices before the war in Ukraine broke out. But oil futures are still up over 50% from last year. And the gas situation is even more of a challenge.

Gas futures are up over 100% from last year, and prices at the pump are right below all-time highs. Meanwhile, the Fed and Biden administration are using all the tools available to bring some relief. The Fed just raised interest rates by the largest amount since 1994.

Not only that, but President Biden tapped the strategic oil reserve, is working with OPEC to increase supply, and calling out oil companies to do their part.

Will it make a difference? XLE stock looks ripe for a bounce. Here’s what you should know before buying.

No. 4 Commodities Often Run in Multi-Year Cycles

When the commodity market rallies, it can last years before turning over. In fact, these extended rallies are called “Super Cycles.”

For example, in the 1930s, commodities rallied as the U.S. prepared for WW2. Then again, in the ’90s, as industrialization swept across the nation. And the most recent, peaking around 2012-14 as emerging markets developed.

Researchers have several reasons to explain why these cycles happen.

  1. New projects take years to complete.
  2. Supply and demand drive commodity prices.
  3. A specific event usually triggers rallies.

The most important thing to know when considering buying XLE stock is knowing that commodity prices, such as gas and oil, are driven by supply and demand. With this in mind, energy prices are rapidly rising due to higher demand and a limited supply.

For one thing, over 100 oil and gas companies went out of business during the pandemic. As travel halted, energy demand fell off a cliff. Meanwhile, energy companies had no choice but to go bankrupt.

Fast forward a year, the economy reopens again, and demand shoots through the roof. But, with less capacity, companies are struggling to keep up.

No. 3 Energy Supply Is Still a Concern

After underinvesting for many years leading up to the pandemic, the industry was due for a shakeup. As leaders promised a new “green” future, investors poured money into renewable energy investments. As a result, the oil industry cut back on projects and was forced to abandon others.

So, supply was limited to begin with. And then Russia invading Ukraine was the final straw. NATO leaders decided to ban or restrict oil coming from Russia.

The oil ban caused a ripple effect across energy markets as oil prices briefly soared over $120 a barrel. Meanwhile, the gas situation is even more challenging as refining capacity in the U.S. nears maximum. To explain, refiners turn oil into gas and other by-products. Many companies that went out of business were either E&P (drilling) or refiners.

In fact, the latest data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows refinery capacity is at 94%, the highest since the pandemic.

With this in mind, there’s only so much capacity in the U.S. to make gas. In other words, supply is limited. So, by raising interest rates, the Fed is going after demand. To slow demand, the Fed is makes borrowing more expensive.

For example, higher interest rates may mean fewer vacations or travel. As a result, less gas is being used in the economy, whether by car or plane.

No. 2 XLE Stock Was Due for a Pullback

This year, energy has been the only strong sector in a very weak market. To illustrate, XLE stock gained over 68%, hitting a 52-week high of $93.3 per share earlier this month.

But with talks of a recession and a bear market looming, XLE shares gave in like the rest of the market. Eventually, every sector or market gets sold during a bear market. And last week, the time came for energy stocks.

At the same time, XLE shares reached overbought levels according to the Relative Strength Index (RSI). Though XLE stock hit overbought on the daily, weekly, and monthly charts, quarterly sits below 60.

Meanwhile, many energy stocks are trading back to prices before the war in Ukraine started. For instance, EOG Resources (NYSE: EOG), one of the largest natural gas companies, sits at $111, the same price as when the war started.

Although this may be true, the uptrend in most oil and gas stocks is still intact. For one thing, many energy stocks are trading above their 200D SMA, a sign of momentum.

Lastly and most importantly, the stocks fell to critical levels of support. Not only is XLE stock sitting on this year’s volume-weighted average price (VWAP), but it’s also right around a historic level of resistance.

XLE stock was due for a pullback, but will it continue to crack? Or was it just a shakeout?

No. 1 Hedge Funds Buying with Record Cash Flow

Energy has been one of the stock market’s only places to earn a return this year. Then again, oil companies are making record cash flows with high energy prices. And as a result, they are splitting the profits with investors through dividends and buybacks.

You may have even heard President Biden saying Exxon Mobile (NYSE: XOM) made “more money than god” this year. For one thing, several tech companies make more than Exxon. But he has a point. In the first quarter, Exxon generated $14.8 billion in free cash flow (FCF).

Besides that, with energy prices hitting a record high, Exxon announces a $30 billion share buyback plan through 2023. On top of this, Exxon is the largest holding in XLE stock. So, what benefits Exxon stock also benefits XLE stock. It’s no wonder investors and hedge funds are interested in the market.

According to information from Hedgefollow.com, the XLE ETF continues to see heavy institutional buying. In fact, buying activity in Q1 was the highest since Q2 2014.

XLE Stock Forecast: Do We See a Bounce in XLE Share Price?

The XLE stock selloff last week came due to a change in investor expectations. At first, investors braced for high inflation and low growth, also known as Stagflation.

But with the Fed raising interest rates, a new concern is developing. What if the Fed raises interest rates too quickly, sparking a recession? If this is the case, demand could fall drastically.

At the same time, until proven otherwise, the story remains the same. Energy is essential for the economy to function. With near-record energy prices, companies are generating massive amounts of free cash flow.

And consumers are still paying for it. According to new research from Yardeni Research, families in the U.S. are paying $5,000 a year on gas, up 78% from last year.

Is this the start of a new multi-year cycle? The big question will come down to how effectively the Fed will bring demand down.

As for XLE stock, I believe the ETF has more gas in the tank this year. With summer demand revving up, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the rally continue. And then, into hurricane season, we could also see a boost. That said, a recession could take the market lower.

In the long run, the direction many nations are heading is clear. To meet their climate goals, many leaders are investing in renewable energy. Although XLE stock holds some clean energy businesses, it mainly invests in oil and gas. If you wish to get ahead of the clean energy movement, check out these top renewable energy stocks for long-term growth.

The post Buying the Dip in XLE Stock? Here’s What You Need to Know appeared first on Investment U.

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Economics

Asia businesses struggle to offset losses from increased B2B bad debt, Atradius survey reveals

Asia businesses struggle to offset losses from increased B2B bad debt, Atradius survey reveals
PR Newswire
AMSTERDAM, June 28, 2022

Alarming 60% increase in business-to-business (B2B) write-offs expected to pose a severe threat to liquidity of comp…

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Asia businesses struggle to offset losses from increased B2B bad debt, Atradius survey reveals

PR Newswire

Alarming 60% increase in business-to-business (B2B) write-offs expected to pose a severe threat to liquidity of companies in Asia.

AMSTERDAM, June 28, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Chasing down unpaid B2B trade debt has become a major headache for Asian companies trading on domestic and export markets. They are facing sharply increased costs to manage customer credit risk in-house and thus protect cash flow from disruption caused by the current challenging economic and trading environment.

The problem becomes even more serious with long-term unpaid B2B trade debt (more than 90 days) that is written off as uncollectable despite several attempts to receive payment. In this situation businesses struggle to find additional sales, a measure that could help to offset their losses and thus avoid putting liquidity under pressure and a company's entire future at risk.

Severe warning signs of a mounting strain on business liquidity are evident in the staggering 60% increase in business-to-business (B2B) bad debts that could not be collected, compared to our survey in 2021. This is the major concern spelled out by businesses polled in seven markets in Asia (China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam) and in the United Arab Emirates for the 2022 edition of the Atradius Payment Practices Barometer Survey for Asia.

Taiwan sounded the highest alarm, with a bad debt write-offs figure nearly three times higher than found in our past survey of the market -- now at 8% of the total value of B2B invoices. Businesses in Hong Kong and Singapore also said they were taking a serious hit from increased write-offs, both seeing an average 50% increase. Another country suffering was Indonesia, with a reported 40% increase in write-offs. Vietnam was included in the survey for the first time and companies there said liquidity was being dented both by write-offs (at 6% of the total value of B2B invoices) and unpaid B2B trade debt, which was affecting around half of the B2B trade value.

A further worry for companies in the current challenging economic and trading circumstances is the difficulty of recovering profits when they are experiencing a high impact from write offs. The Atradius survey in Asia reveals that 20% more companies than in the previous year reported an increased willingness to extend credit to B2B customers. This is a signal that current market conditions are very competitive and that businesses struggle to get the additional sales revenue that would make good the losses from write-offs. The survey also found that a serious concern for companies in the months ahead is the ability to keep pace with demand (33%) as well as resilience of demand from B2B customers (25%).

All this has sparked increased awareness among most businesses polled about the importance of strategic credit risk management in B2B trade, with one in two companies across the markets polled expressing interest in insuring B2B trade receivables to mitigate the impact of customer credit risk on the business.

Andreas Tesch, Chief Market Officer of Atradius, commented: "The outlook for growth in Asia remains relatively robust at around 5% in both this year and 2023. But many of the region's businesses operate across the world in the current deeply unsettled period, where the ongoing impact of the pandemic and geopolitical upheaval has meant a downward revision of the outlook for global growth to just above 3%. Companies in Asia are feeling the pinch from this widespread disruption in the global trading arena. Facing the increase in bad debt write-offs can be a warning sign of a business environment under financial stress. This certainly explains why the need for strong strategic credit management was seen to be a crucial theme throughout our survey across the region's major economies."

Roeland Punt, Atradius Regional Sales Director for Asia, added: "Given the ongoing uncertainty in the market, we don't expect the bad debts trend to recover quickly. The anxiety about the longer time it takes business to collect overdue payments from B2B customers remains acute. The credit management processes of companies will be put to the test, and those businesses which have a flexible and holistic approach to the issue will be better well placed to navigate the troubled waters that may lie ahead."

The Atradius Payment Practices Barometer for Asia Pacific - June 2022 edition can be downloaded from the Atradius website at Atradius Group website (Publications section). It further provides in depth analysis of how businesses in key markets in Asia Pacific manage payment default risks related to selling on credit to B2B customers. Topics covered include: payment terms, the time it takes to collect invoices, managing payment delays, the impact of payment delays on business, and expected business trends.

About Atradius: Atradius is a global provider of credit insurance, surety and collection services, with a strategic presence in over 50 countries. The credit insurance, bond and collection products offered by Atradius protect companies around the world against the default risks associated with selling goods and services on credit. Atradius is a member of Grupo Catalana Occidente (GCO.MC), one of the largest insurers in Spain and one of the largest credit insurers in the world. You can find more information online at https://group.atradius.com.

For further information: 
Atradius Group Website
www.atradius.com.hk

Connect with Atradius on Social Media: 
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SOURCE Atradius N.V.

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Economics

Winners and losers of this volatile housing market

Any market that pushes some businesses to the brink of insolvency also will create opportunities for others. Through numerous interviews with industry…

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The last two years have been good to Christian Dicker. 

Like many loan officers, Dicker was working nights and weekends, banging out refinancings and purchase mortgages at record-low rates for clients. It didn’t matter where he was — getting dinner with his family at a fancy restaurant or out on the lake on a boat, Dicker always had his phone on his hands to make sure he didn’t miss any of his clients’ emails or calls. About 40% of his business came from refis in the summer of 2021 even when his focus was on purchase mortgages his entire career. 

But the boom times are over, and he knows it.

One of Dicker’s clients this past weekend backed out of a $295,000 houmese purchase in Michigan this past weekend. That sort of thing was virtually unheard of a year ago, when rates were about 3%. 

“After hearing their monthly mortgage payment would be around $2,000 a month, my client backed out of the offer the next day,” said Dicker, a senior loan officer at Motto Mortgage. “Less than a year ago, my client could’ve bought the home with a monthly mortgage payment of $1,700.”

The rising rate environment has thinned Dicker’s pipeline, culling refis almost entirely. And he’s far from alone. Market conditions have forced countless LOs, including Dicker, to find creative solutions to lock down home purchases for clients whose purchasing power has diminished greatly in the past six months. Origination volume will continue its steady, significant decline, meaning smaller paychecks for LOs and their lenders. All while their prospective borrowers continually are priced out — meaning many will indefinitely postpone or give up the search for a new home entirely.

The sudden spike in interest rates – which rose to a high of more than 6% in mid-June before falling to the 5.75% range a week later – has proven a shock to the system for the mortgage industry. Lenders staffed up during the pandemic to take advantage of those low rates, and now find themselves hugely overstaffed as business falls dramatically. For Dicker and the industry at large, the future is increasingly uncertain and the overall outlook can feel like a losing proposition.

“There really are hardly any winners in the mortgage industry,” said Joe Garrett, founder of banking and mortgage banking consulting firm Garrett, Mcauley & Co. “The winners in terms of mortgage companies are the ones who have a lot of servicing because the value has gone up as rates have gone up. Outside of the mortgage business, the winners are homeowners who refinanced.” 

The Mortgage Bankers Association projects that of $2.4 trillion in originations this year, just $730 billion will be from refis. Compared with 2021, origination volume is expected to drop 40% from last year’s $4 trillion origination volume. Less business for lenders and real estate brokerages, in return, is hurting title companies, tech vendors, appraisers and mortgage insurance firms. 

But any market that pushes some businesses to the brink of insolvency also will create opportunities for others. Through numerous interviews with industry players, HousingWire assessed the rapidly changing housing market to determine who remains vulnerable to the higher-rate environment, and who’s primed to capitalize in the months ahead. 

The culling

“You’re going to start to see the housing market price a lot of people out, which means there’s going to be fewer loans out there to be done, which means you’re going to probably see a lot of people starting to exit,” said Coley Carden, vice president of residential lending at Winchester Co-Operative Bank

Banks, including Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase, which  own and hold portfolios of mortgage backed securities (MBS), as well as nonbank lenders, have borne the brunt of rising interest rates thus far. Both depositories have instituted large-scale layoffs at their mortgage divisions, and Wells Fargo has indicated it plans to pull back on its mortgage business.

Nonbank lenders, including Pennymac, Mr. Cooper, loanDepot, Guaranteed Rate, Fairway Independent Mortgage, Interfirst Mortgage Co., Movement Mortgage, New Rez/Caliber, First Guaranty Mortgage Corporation and Better.com, all have conducted at least one round of workforce reductions this year, and further staff eliminations are expected to continue as volume falls. More than 10,000 industry jobs likely have already been shed during the past year, analysts told HousingWire. 

While industry observers say originators are in a better position now than during the financial crisis in 2008, largely as a result of  the refi boom over the past two years, analysts including Argus Research’s Kevin Heal, expect gain-on-sale margins to decline in coming quarters due to volatility and lenders selling loans in the secondary market with lower gains, or at a loss. 

“With today’s rising interest rates, combined with inflation, prospective buyers have seen their buying power reduced greatly,” said Sean Dobson, chief executive officer at Amherst Holdings. “This will likely cause some, who may have been ready to purchase otherwise, to take a pause.”

Brokerages prepare for leaner times

Reduced buying power means fewer closed deals for real estate brokerages, whose agents used to receive love letters from home shoppers desperate to win bidding wars.

However, real estate brokerages aren’t immune from the current market environment. Because their agents are typically 1099 contractors, they are thought to be more insulated than mortgage lenders, whose employees generally receive W2s.

In early June, luxury-focused Side, which has raised more than $200 million at a valuation of $2.5 billion, laid off 40 workers, or about 10% of its staff

“In our efforts to meet demand, we grew the team faster than we could train, support and develop everyone to meet the demands of changing roles and processes,” founder and CEO Guy Gal said in a written statement. “Considering this paired with the macroeconomic trends shaping the real estate market, we decided to slow down and get better organized so that we can speed up again.”

Tech-fueled Redfin laid off 470 employees, or about 8% of its workforce, saying housing demand fell short of expectations in May. But the brokerage is unusual in that it has salaried agents and a business model that is stretched thin during housing market downturns. Compass, which similarly has a tech bend and is also unprofitable, eliminated about 450 positions, roughly 10% of the brokerage’s employees. Compass also announced it would halt any merger and acquisition activity for the rest of the year.

Other top brokerage leaders were quick to say such troubles didn’t necessarily mean stronger headwinds for real estate brokerages.

“You have to be an ant putting away crumbs when the weather is good to have enough food when the weather is bad,” Frederick Peters, CEO of Coldwell Banker Warburg Peters, told RealTrends. “Compass never did that.”

Still, many large brokerages are taking a hard look at their physical footprints, vendor relationships and other potential means of trimming the fat as volume drops.

Demand falls for homebuilders

Fewer buyers in the market also means homebuilders are enticing shoppers with incentives, which negatively affects margins. 

“Things like buying down a customer’s rate, or offering buyers free upgrades to their house and lowering lot premium don’t really count as cutting prices, it counts as giving them away stuff for free,” said Carl Reichardt, a homebuilding analyst at BTIG

Despite the negative effect on builders’ bottom line, such incentives still aren’t luring buyers. A combination of higher home prices, rising interest rates, consumer concerns about the future of the real estate market and the lack of new home inventory has resulted in a decline in sales and traffic, according to Reichardt.

More than half of the 86 homebuilders surveyed by the BTIG/HomeSphere State of the Industry Report reported a year-over-year decrease in sales, marking the largest share of builders to experience an annual decline in sales in more than four years. Only 20% reported year-over-year traffic growth, the lowest level since April 2020, at the start of the pandemic.

Landlords hold the cards

The phrase “cash is king” has perhaps never been more apropos – home prices remain high, and rising rates put mortgage seekers at a disadvantage.

Even if mortgage rates are hovering in the 6% range, homes are still going to sell, loan officers said. Though not necessarily to buyers with financing. Homebuyers who offer cash were four times as likely to win a bidding war as those who didn’t in 2021, according to data from Redfin. 

The median existing housing price surged 14.8% from a year ago to an all-time high of more than $407,000 in May, exceeding the $400,000 level for the first time, a report from the National Association of Realtors showed. 

Motto Mortgage’s Dicker recalls providing loans in the mid- 3% level in October. “Not even a year ago rates nearly doubled to just above 6%. You can’t get something of a newer quality and bigger size compared to last year,” he said. 

All-cash sales made up 25% of transactions in May, with 16% coming from individual investors or second-home buyers taking advantage of the rising demand for renting, according to the NAR.

“More people are renting, and the resulting rent price escalation may spur more institutional investors to buy single-family homes and turn them into rental properties,” said Leslie Rouda Smith, president at NAR. 

Amherst Holdings, which acquired more than 46,600 rental homes across the country with an estimated value of more than $7.6 billion, sees potential for more business in a downmarket for the mortgage industry. The spike in borrowing costs means consumers will find themselves unable to purchase the same home that they might have been able to afford a year ago. 

“If demand for household buyers of properties cools off, we may see more opportunities for companies in the leasing space to supply single-family rentals to those who have been priced out of the homebuying market,” said Amherst’s Dobson. 

“It seems desirable properties whether it be a new single-family home that has all the bells and whistles or if it’s an apartment for rent they are renting up at higher prices and they’re also renting faster,” added Aaron Sklar, partner at Kiser Group.

Rents for apartments in professionally managed properties were up 12% nationally in the first quarter of 2022 from a year earlier, with increases in several metro areas exceeding 20%, according to a report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. 

Rent for single-family homes rose even faster than those for apartments, pushed up by demand for more space among households working remotely, the report said. Single-family rents nationally rose 14% in March 2022, marking the 12th straight month of record-high growth, according to CoreLogic data.

“It’s definitely a landlord’s market,” said Kiser Group’s Sklar. “Rents seem to be going up just as high as the interest rates are. I don’t think it’s a win for anyone on the lending side. But I do think that owners of properties, and single-family home operators, they’re the real beneficiaries of higher interest rates.”

The post Winners and losers of this volatile housing market appeared first on HousingWire.

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Economics

Victor Davis Hanson: America Is More Fragile Than The Left Understands

Victor Davis Hanson: America Is More Fragile Than The Left Understands

Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via AmGreatness.com,

"There is a…

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Victor Davis Hanson: America Is More Fragile Than The Left Understands

Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via AmGreatness.com,

"There is a great deal of ruin in a nation."

- Adam Smith

The Left has been tempting fate since January 2021 - applying its nihilist medicine to America on the premise that such a rich patient can ride out any toxic shock.

Our elites assume that all our nation’s past violent protests, all its would-be revolutions, all its cultural upheavals, all its institutionalized lawlessness were predicated on one central truth—America’s central core is so strong, so rich, and so resilient that it can withstand almost any assault. 

So, we can afford 120 days in 2020 of mass rioting, $2 billion in damage, some 35 killed, and 1,500 police injured. 

We can easily survive an Afghanistan, and our utter and complete military humiliation. There was no problem in abandoning some $70-80 billion in military loot to terrorists. Who cares that we tossed off a billion-dollar new embassy, and jettisoned a $300-million refitted air base, as long as our pride flags were waving in Kabul?

Certainly, we can afford to restructure all our universities, eliminate free expression and speech, and institute Maoist cultural revolutionary fervor in our revered institutions of higher learning—once the world’s greatest levers of scientific advancement and technological progress. 

We can jettison merit in every endeavor, from banning the world’s great books to grading math tests to running chemistry experiments. And still, a resilient America won’t notice.

We assumed that our foundational documents—the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution—our natural bounty in North America, our cherished rule of law, our legal immigration traditions that drew in the most audacious and hardworking on the planet, and our guarantees of personal freedom and liberty led to such staggering wealth and affluence that nothing much that this mediocre generation could do would ever endanger our resilience.

But such inheritances are not written in stone. America, as the world’s only successful multiracial democratic republic, was always fragile. It was and is always one generation away from disappearing—should any cohort become so foolish as to mock its past, dismantle its institutions, revert to tribalism, redistribute rather than create wealth, and consume rather than invest. 

We are that generation. And we have an accounting with nature’s limitations, given there is always a corrective, not a nice one, but remediation nonetheless for every excess. 

Our major cities are no longer safe. Somehow, the Left has nearly wrecked San Francisco in less than a decade. A once beautiful and vibrant city is lawless, dirty, toxic, often boarded up, and losing population. It has turned into a medieval keep of well-protected knights in secure fiefs while everyone else is engaged in a bellum omnium contra omnes.

We know it is so because California public officials talk of anything and everything—Roe v. Wade, transitions to electric cars, hundreds of millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief for illegal aliens—to mask their utter impotence to address feces in the street, the random assaults on the vulnerable, and the inability to park a car and return to it intact.

Ditto the Dodge City downtowns of Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Baltimore, Washington, and a host of others. In just four or five years, they have given up on fully funding the police, aggressive prosecutors indicting the violent, and ubiquitous civil servants ensuring the streets are free of trash, vermin, flotsam, jetsam, and human excrement. 

There are natural reactions to such excess. The most terrifying is that our once-great cities, especially their downtowns, will simply shrink into something like ghost towns—our versions of an out-West Bodie, or an abandoned Roman city in the sand like Leptis Magna, or a Chernobyl. 

But the culprit will not be a played-out mine, or encroaching desert, or a nuclear meltdown, but the progressive leadership of a worn-out, bankrupt people who no longer possess the confidence to keep their urban civilization safe and viable. And so, they either fled, or joined the mob, or locked themselves up in fortified citadels, both in fear to go out and terrified of losing what they owned. 

We are seeing that deterioration already in our major cities. Stores are boarded up. Women cease to walk alone after sunset. Police officers walking the beat are now rare. Hate crimes, smash-and-grab robberies, and carjackings go unpunished. Streets are filthy and littered. Commerce and human interaction cease at dusk, as if in expectation that zombies will emerge to control the streets. Criminals when arrested are not always identified—the media censoring names and descriptions on their own selective theories of social justice.

But again, the culprit is not the COVID plague or want of money. It is us, we who turned over our cities to the incompetent, the selfish, the timid, and the violent. 

There is again an antidote. But doubling the police force, bringing back broken-windows policing, electing tough prosecutors, moving the homeless from the downtown into hospitals and supervised shelters beyond the suburbs, arresting, convicting, and incarcerating the guilty—all that seems well beyond this generation’s capacity. 

Would not such efforts be unfair to the mere rock-thrower? Who says the fentanyl user has no right to defecate on the street? Would not our jails become overcrowded? Would the incarcerated be unduly overrepresented by this or that group?

Joe Biden took a strong economy—albeit one that after three serial spendthrift presidencies faced huge national debt and a rendezvous with fiscal sobriety—and has utterly ruined it. 

He discouraged labor participation with federal checks. He ensured that his minions on the politicized Federal Reserve Board would keep interest rates artificially low. Biden inflated the money supply while debasing the value of the currency. He brought back mindless regulation and put ideological commissars in place to ensure the corporations, banks, and Wall Street would be woke, allowing ideology to warp ancient economic laws that kept prices stable, supply and demand in balance, and incentives to work and profit. 

Many thought Biden would have needed at least four or five years to wreck such a strong economy with such nihilism rather than a mere 16 months.

Yet nature is about to step in with a recession and perhaps even a depression to correct the Biden madness. If interest rates rise, capital dries up, businesses close, employers cut back, consumers no longer have access to easy money, and the nation becomes inert, then the country will be worse off, spend less—and that too will be a brutal solution of sorts to Biden’s hyperinflation and stagflation.

Still, it is hard to see how anyone in the government might prefer the proper and necessary medicine at this late hour. An updated Simpson-Bowles plan still could address long-term insolvency. Meaningless regulations could be pruned back. The tax code could be radically altered and simplified to encourage investment rather than consumption. Entitlements could be calibrated by incentives to become productive rather than to remain inert. All of that might return us to a sound currency, a strong GDP, long-term financial solvency, and general prosperity for all. But are not such medicines perceived as worse than the disease?

There is an answer to the open border, when upwards of 4 million illegal aliens will flow into the United States in a mere two years, for the most part without audits, English, capital, income, and vaccinations—and with no idea how to house, feed, or provide health care for millions without background checks.

At this late date, the corrections of stopping catch and release, ending amnesties, hiring more border patrol officers and immigration judges, or building more detention centers are too little too late.

Eventually, Americans will become acculturated to large enclaves of endemic poverty, as millions with no familiarity with the United States are neither assimilated nor integrated. 

The border will then disappear, and northern Mexico and the southern United States will become indistinguishable, as millions simply drift back and forth in the manner of an ancient Gaul or Germania. Large areas of Texas, Arizona, and California are already returning to such pre-state status.

Or the alternate corrective will be the completion of a massive wall from the Pacific to the Gulf, with strict audits of all would-be immigrants, immediate deportations for lawbreakers, and legal only immigration that is measured, diverse, and meritocratic.

We are reaching the inflection point quickly and will either experience the absolute destruction of the border or a radical backlash, given that the current mess is unsustainable. Either a nation with borders survives or a tribal and nomadic region supplants it.

If America chooses to shut down refineries, put our rich oil and natural gas fields off-limits, cancel pipelines, and demonize the fossil fuel industry, then, of course, prices for carbon fuels will explode. 

The Biden Administration talks nonsensically about Teslas, batteries, and electric replacements. But it is not greenlighting mining for the critical minerals needed for batteries. It is not encouraging nuclear power plants to provide enough power for a clean fleet of 200 million electric cars. There is no Marshall Plan to wean America off mostly non-polluting natural gas and gasoline onto electricity-hungry engines.

Instead, Biden begs the Saudis, the Russians, the Venezuelans, and even the Iranians to pump the fuel he will not. He seeks to drain the Strategic Petroleum Reserve that can supply only a fraction of the oil America gulps daily. He defines his own pre-midterm, self-created mess as a national emergency to tap a reserve he could never fill or refill.

So, what is the natural corrective to unaffordable fuel? 

A likely Biden recession or depression, in which the middle classes simply do not enjoy jobs that pay enough to afford $6-9-a-gallon gas. And so, they will not drive. Vacations, optional shopping trips, and visits to friends—all that and more will taper off. Gas will stabilize at near-European levels, and the people, as planned, will be rerouted into dirty and unsafe subways and mass transit. 

Biden will be happy. But America won’t be the same mobile country. 

America’s bounty was predicated on each generation following the prompt of the prior, modulating when change was necessary, but not daring to tamper with the foundational principles and values that explained our singular wealth, power, and leisure. 

This generation in its arrogance tested fate. It felt itself smarter and morally superior to its betters of the past. It lost that wager and now we the public are paying for its foolishness. To destroy America as we have always known it, there was far less necessary to ruin than our elite believed.

Like a stunned adolescent whose reckless incompetence totaled the family car, the Left seems shocked that America proved so fragile after all.

Tyler Durden Mon, 06/27/2022 - 16:20

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