The mainstream media would have us believe that the U.S. economy must be in great shape since the stock market (NYSEARCA:DIA) has been setting new all-time record highs this month. But is that really true? Yes, surging stock prices have enabled sales of beach homes in the Hamptons to hit a brand new record high. However, the reality is that stock prices have not risen dramatically in recent years because corporations are doing so much better than before. In fact, the growth in stock prices has been far, far greater than the growth of corporate revenues. The only reason that stock prices have been climbing so much is because the Federal Reserve has been flooding the financial system with hundreds of billions of dollars that it has created out of thin air. The Fed has created an artificial stock market bubble that is completely and totally divorced from economic reality.
Meanwhile, everything is not so fine for the rest of the U.S. economy. Economic growth projections have been steadily declining over the past two years, and the growth rate of personal income in the United States has been on a huge downward trend since 2008. The U.S. economy actually lost 240,000 full-time jobs last month, and the middle class continues to shrink.
So welcome to the “new normal” where most Americans struggle at least part of the time. According to one recent survey, “four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives”. Things are tough out there, and they are steadily getting tougher.
Yes, the boys and girls up on Wall Street are doing great (for the moment), but most of the rest of the country is really struggling. We have never even come close to recovering from the last major economic crisis, and now another one is rapidly approaching.
The other day, Chartist Friend from Pittsburgh sent me an email and told me that he had some charts that he wanted to share with me and asked if I wanted to see them. I said sure, send them over right away. These charts show very clearly that the stock market has become completely divorced from reality.
In a normal market, stock prices would only rise dramatically if the overall economy was healthy and growing. Unfortunately, our economy is far from healthy and has been declining for a very long time. If the financial markets were not being pumped up by so much money printing and so much debt, there is no way that stock prices would be this high.
If we truly did have a free market financial system, stock prices should be a reflection of the overall economy. Instead, we have a very sick economy and financial markets that have been very highly manipulated.
For example, just check out the first chart that I have posted below. If the economy was actually getting better, the percentage of working age Americans with a job should be increasing. Sadly, that is not happening…
This next chart shows how the average duration of unemployment has absolutely skyrocketed in recent years. Yes, the duration of unemployment has improved slightly in recent months, but we are still very far from where we used to be. Meanwhile, the stock market has been soaring to new all-time record highs…
Traditionally, there has been a high degree of correlation between stock prices and real disposable personal income. From the chart below, you can see that this relationship held up quite well through the end of the last recession, and then it started breaking down. This is especially true at the very end of the chart. Real Disposable income has started to decline sharply but stock prices just continue to soar…