Results of the Longest Bull Market in American History

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The Papercuts Library #2

Before we talk about what has been lost since its end, let’s take a moment to consider what was not gained during the longest bull market run in American history. What impact did the momentum of such a long economic expansion have on our lives? Did we come out on top? … What do you think the answer is?

36 pages
8.5″ x 5.5″

 

SKU: PL00002 Category:

 

Is the market up again today?! If so, good times must be ahead! … Or are they happening now? … Or… Wait, why is the market up again today?

If something doesn’t seem to be adding up to you when it comes to the American economy, the Papercuts Library #2 is the first of many enlightening cuts we will be offering as part of working out the hidden math that might make sense of this mess.

And whereas the press might want to showcase the cherries on top, we recommend starting at the bottom if you want to figure out what is going on…

 

Because the truth of the matter is, at our best, we are still falling short…

 

Part of this is simply about accepting that business can’t meet all of our needs.

But unfortunately we have to go further with it because it isn’t just marginalized communities getting left out. We are all walking on fragile ground…

 

And once we call “the good times” into question, and particularly their association with bull markets, it leads to a lot of other questions, the first of which should be, how else could we be framing our economic discussions?

Because when the market heats up, you aren’t going to hear about much else, as if all troubles are actively being solved.

And if history serves as a guide, you will buy right into it…

 

For just a little over eleven years, you very recently lived through the longest bull market in American history, … so did you notice it?

If you don’t have a good answer for that one, a full teardown of bull markets awaits you in Papercuts Library #2.

Warning: Spoilers ahead...

p3 –

Like all aspects of economics, there are debates about the timing and events that qualify as a “bull” and “bear” market. We use the most simplistic standard for the start of a bear market, which occurs when there is a 20% decline from the market’s peak. For the Dow Jones Industrial Average, this happened on March 11, 2020.

 

For more on the debate about the longest bull market, and support for the March 9, 2009 as the start of it:

 

For the record, the National Bureau of Economic Research said this bull market ended in February, though obviously everyone doesn’t agree:

 

p4-5 –

Net worth data was sourced from the Federal Reserve:

 

To see the raw data, download and find the ‘dfa-network-levels’ tab.

Rather than compare between Q1 2009 and Q1 2020, we moved in one quarter on each side to better see the gains of the period.

For Q2 2009 through Q4 2019, which is the data in the book, there was $54 trillion in net worth gains. $6.66T of that was lost between Q4 2019 and Q1 2020. The same data for Q1 2009 through Q1 2020 would be $47 trillion in net worth created, with the Top 10% taking 71% of it, rather than 73% in the other period.

 

p6-9 –

 

Inflation-adjusted $7.25 March 2020

 

Using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ CPI Inflation Calculator, $7.25 in March 2020 has the same buying power as $6.05 in July 2009.

For a view of inflation throughout the entire history of the minimum wage:

 

p10 –

Here’s our starting statistic…

 

But to begin your trip down the wage “growth” rabbit hole, you can begin just by soaking up all the summary information on the 13,000+ series of data the St. Louis Federal Reserve has brought together on Wages:

 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will of course have plenty to keep you busy:

 

And don’t forget the Bureau of Economic Analysis:

Plus for good measure:

 

Meanwhile, from the mixed bag of income reporting and research:

 

The Brookings Institution has put together a comprehensive report on the low-wage work running counter to supposed gains in personal income.

 

To add to the perspective, check out this much earlier call on the “growth of low wage work”:

 

p11 –

As stated in the book, the level of price increases very much depends on location.

Household characteristics are another major factor. The USDA produces monthly reports of the cost of “a nutritious diet” broken out by household composition:

 

The following link provides a variety of breakdowns of per capita health expenditures:

 

With HUD’s Fair Market Rents resource, you can explore historical data about housing costs by geographic area.

Plus:

 

And finally, the travesty and tragedy of modern higher education:

 

Pricing is also quite the rabbit hole. So many factors, so little time. If you want to dig deeper, there are many resources at your disposal:

 

For a better understanding of percent change:

 

To find your Adjusted Gross Income:

 

p12-13 –

Homelessness

As of this writing, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s page for “What We Do / Homelessness” is blank.

HUD-What We Do - Homelessness - Screenshot

 

Here’s what they must have meant to put there:

 

For actual and clear information on homelessness:

 

Food Insecurity

 

Health Insurance

 

Poverty

 

p14-15 –

Meet FRED: The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis hosts an amazing data repository.

 

p16-17 –

To begin, it is important to note that there are two different ways to look at public debt as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product.

We use “total public debt”…

 

…whereas in the news of August 2020 we are reading in the headlines about “federal debt held by the public”

 

Total (or Gross) Public Debt = Debt Held by the Public + Intragovernmental Holdings

 

For a detailed explanation of the difference, see:

 

We wrote the Congressional Budget Office for perspective and they confirmed that federal debt “held by the public” is the measure they most often use.

 

Many support the view that intragovernmental holdings can be written off.

 

However, we stuck with “total public debt” along the lines of point 7 from the following report:

“Discounting more than $5 trillion in intragovernmental debt, or counting it as an asset held by trust funds, ignores the impending insolvency of major federal programs and their respective roles as major debt drivers.”

 

Also, when you see headlines like this:

… it is important to remember that long-time warnings were supplanted by reality in 2012 when the “total public debt” surpassed 100% back in 2012.

 

As the above article states, as late as January 2020, the expectation was that “federal debt held by the public” would not hit 100% of GDP until 2030. As of June 2020, we hit 106%.

 

For more on the subject:

 

p18-19 –

HBR has some great reporting and analysis on these subjects:

 

Meanwhile, your share of federal government tax receipts:

 

p20-21 –

Read ‘em, and weep…

 

p22-23 –

In looking at our emergency savings, we can jump right to the "Dealing with Unexpected Expenses" section of the last Economic Well-Being report:

 

What about a real emergency fund?

 

And for an opposing view:

 

p24-25 –

Another stat that might cause tears, your share of federal tax receipts:

 

p26-27 –

For our consumer confidence figures, we used University of Michigan’s index:

 

There is also The Conference Board’s survey of consumer confidence, but they like to charge for their data:

 

p28-29 –

What is the Federal Funds Rate?

 

Fed Funds historical rates:

 

 

p30-31 –

Digging into data about the full landscape of business establishments in the United States feels almost like looking in on an alternate reality the media overlooks most of the time:

 

And regarding Plato...

 

p32-33 –

Here's an overview of links regarding the crazed stock rally that followed the lockdown crash:

 

And here's a sampling of the warning signs: