We go through a real in-depth discussion this morning of where things are lining up for a potential all-time-high next month (or shortly after).
While it is not inevitable, it is becoming increasingly likely as each week continues to bring us confirmation of our long-forecast March area potential All-Time-High.
This morning not only will we flesh out some details and give you some trading ideas, but we will also look at the way to prepare for it as we consider parallels to past manias including the 1919-1927 Florida Land bubble which smacks of recent economic history here in the U.S.
TTo reintegrate our position on what’s ahead, it’s all really very simple:
The Election of Trump is a spitting-image of the 1928 election of Herbert Hoover.
Tomorrow in our www.peoplenomics.com subscriber newsletter, we will cover parallels between the 2006-2008 real estate bubble and we’ll compare that with the 1920’s Florida Land boom.
From Hoover taking the Oath of Office, there were 182 days to the All-Time-Peak as measured by the Dow Jones September 3, 1929.
The Hoover-backed Revenue Act of 1929 included a tax reduction.
Later, when the Depression had taken hold, Hoover was forced to raise taxes at exactly the wrong time, thus ensuring the Depression would be twice as long and three times as hard compared with leaving rates alone.
We compare this with Donald Trump’s pending Tax Cut Plan which is echoes of the 1929 Revenue Act.
Concurrently, we have experienced the lowest Velocity of Money at M2 in American history.
Moreover, the Fed’s pending rate moves will most likely drive the stock bubble higher as money is already flowing out of bonds and into common stocks.
While this weekend’s report will have projections of how high the ultimate top could be, we are mindful that in financial analysis, it is easy to pick eitherTIME or PRICE but not both.
And that gets us to this week’s Federal Reserve H.6 Money Stocks report. This tells us how much money the Fed is sloshing into the system:
What should jump out at you is that these two reports tell us something about the nature of the power relations in Washington.
The top table says if you look at October through January, we had 7.5% and 6.1% growth rates of M1 and M2.
When we look at the “sliding” timeframe, bottom table, through February 6, we see M1 and M2 growth (annualized) at 3.9% and 5.8% respectively.
Let’s see if we can wrap our heads around how this works:
First: There is a case to be made – based on this data – that the Fed was “goosing money” during the election/pre-election period. Obviously, the easy money flow made it appear that the Obama economy was somehow magically growing.
Whether this is overtly political – of just how running the dual-mandate (high employment, stable economy), or whether it was overtly political can be argued endlessly. We have neither the time, nor inclination, to bother with that discussion because we are in the “It is what it is..” position.
Which is looking more and more like a deliberate bubble that will go off with a huge bust as we work through this year, or next.
As of 2012, the total valuation of the U.S. Bond Market was about $37 trillion dollars. At the same time, the valuation of the U.S. stock market was around $21 trillion.
You need only to think about the return on investment to understand what happens.
When the prevailing YIELD (amount of interest paid) is going down, the price of a bond is increasing.
Let’s say you bought a bond paying 10% interest when prevailing rates were 10%.
Now imagine prevailing rates drop to 5%. Suddenly that 10% bond is paying twice prevailing rates so its price goes where? UP!
Sadly, the opposite is true.
When prevailing rates go up, the bond price comes down.
That money goes on walk-about looking for something better in the way of returns.
The stock market, becomes the recipient. Bond money flows into stocks.
Result? A mega-bubble like the one we’re in.
But wait! It gets even better!
The Underlying Asset War
You see, not only do we have the dynamic of Bond Money flowing in, but we may have some Real Estate Money flowing, as well.
This dynamic arises because refinancing real estate at extremely low rates, enables big real estate moguls to pull out oodles of cash – which is also walking around looking for something to do.
While it MIGHT be possible to build more shopping malls and such, the reality is that there is a well described war going on between brick and mortar retailers (like those closings announced in 2016 by Macy’s which is working through the system right now) and the online retailers like Amazon.
Given that malls might not be a great investment, would you like to buy some shares in solid American companies like Caterpillar?
This, in a nutshell, is why we could see the market continue to work higher. Much higher.
In the intermediate term, almost assuredly within five years, the market bubble will collapse.
You will simply wake up one morning and the market will be down 3,000 points on the Dow – or more!
But for right now, we are chilled on immediate prospects for collapse. There is a lot of hot air and hot money left to be poured into this bubble, which is what we track over on Peoplenomics.
But it shouldn’t be too long.
When Ure sells a fair-sized asset like an airplane to bolster his trading account, it might mean he’s expecting a series of large moves.
If you inferred that, there’s hope for you – and your net worth – yet.
Media Has Removed Trump from Office
At least some in the NB.E. seem to have.
However, how well the presidential press conference played this week depends very much on your “observer state” going into the event.
What’s really happened – not to beat this too hard again, but the Old Line Media has been obsoleted by New Media and Social. Pissed at losing “exclusivity” (which becomes ad money) the old line media is furious and bent as hell on taking down Trump.
Trump, on the other hand is working those non-shill channels for all he’s worth. That includes a “campaign rally” in Florida this weekend. Couple in-person appearances with Twitter and suddenly who needs networks?
Especially with the silly-sap kids who know virtually nothing about politics other than what an increasingly liberal college establishment has pumped into either heads.
I realize this will sound harsh, but no one under the minimum age to hold the office of President should be allowed to write about presidential/national politics. The me, me, me generation is clueless as to how grown-up life works.
Frankly, I’d be a whole lot less worried about body cams than about the whole globalist War on Cash…and toss in Civil Asset Forfeitures, which regrettably, Donald Trump seems to support.
Again, we are giving Trump some slack as he’s a newbie, but his Forfeiture position, the Sec. Ed. and Ajit Pai for the FCC chairmanship are matters we see as “blown opportunities.”
But I’m sure there’ll be more. But hope springs that he’ll learn from his mistakes. Toning down the tweets would be great, too. Use it for press releases, not so much rants, thank you. (knock knock…anyone home?)
It’s done. Our dependable old Beechcraft is in the hands of its new owner. Funds have settled and we are grounded.
It’s been a fun ride…and we hope you’ve enjoyed some of our pictures from our air ventures.
Was it not for my eyes not being up to it, I would still be flying. But at 68 and with the Harrison Ford incident out at John Wayne airport (Ford’s only 74) we have decided to exercise the ultimate in good airmanship.
Three final safe landings went in the logbook Wednesday wrapping up 44 years, half a dozen trans-cons, and countless thousands of landings under nearly every conceivable condition.
From here on out we’ll trust the young kids up front to drive.
We both learned a tremendous amount about not only flying, but about ourselves. On only a couple of occasions did I get into unintended instrument flying conditions. And those, thanks to a string of great pilots who trained me, my confidence never waivered.
So this morning a special thanks to some great men – the true Masters of the Sky who trained me to fly – and live:
Dan Skarperud, Chief Pilot and long-ago owner ofs Hanger #1 at the northeast corner of Boeing Field in Seattle deserves thanks for constantly yelling “Step on the ball!!!” when I wasn’t quite coordinated early on.
The late Commander Herb Johnson (USCG R’td.) Who didn’t yell quite as loudly. Then one day he told me to stop on the taxiway…and I was on my own.
That first flight was a panic. The first time you go out on your own and do a power-off stall, hold the break a little too long and begin to fall off into a spin…well, let’s just say that is one of the moments in flying when you either “have your shit today” or you meet gravity in a terrible way..
Damon Darly was my next instructor. He was a fairly recent flight instructor at the time; 1973. His focus was getting ready for flying turbines around Alaska, which he did for a good while, I later heard. Flying a kind of cross between the stereotypical bush pilot with a turbine engine up front.
We did lots of landings and takeoffs from the old Issaquah airport where we used to dodge skydivers before the airport was driven off by urban sprawl as Seattle grew east.
Tom Gorham gets a nod because he (and Skarp) introduced me to seaplanes. Dan gave me some instruction in a J3 Cub on floats. But it was Tom who taught me mountain flying a seaplane. One of the most memorable moments in life was flying a Lake LA-4-200 Buccaneer amphibian off High Ross Lake in the Cascade mountains.
The up-canyon winds hitting the dam face blew us several hundred feet higher as we crossed over the face of the dam.
In 1974 I was pleased to be the broadcaster voicing the Kenmore Air Harbor audio cassettes which were study guides for new seaplane pilots. I was able to speak with some authority by then on flying.
Finally, my friend Billy Brice deserves special mention. A serious life-long pilot, he’d spent his time before retirement to East Texas driving big birds, usually 767’s, down to places like Brazil.
He was also kind enough to check me out in N7912L – our old Beechcraft – when we went up to Ohio in 2011 to pick it up and fly it back to East Texas.
We had a fair bit of work done on the plane, both here and elsewhere.
Thanks to Chad Moser, formerly at Hammarhead Aeronautical in Elijay, Georgia for the heavy overhaul work. That was gear rebuilds, new engine mounts, three point strobes and $13,000 more.
Mark Whitfill in Crocket,Texas gave us fine maintenance. Very cost conscious, too.
Lately, we used Jeremy Bogan out of Jacksonville, Texas. Jeremy is doing a lot of mobile plane service, so it was just easier to have him swing by our hangar to do service than fly down to Mark’s place in Crocket. Both are excellent “wrenches” and are highly recommended.
Those who have never spent the hundred bucks to at least go out to the local airport and take a one-hour Íntroduction to Flying course (1.5 hours, or so usually – pilots love to talk. Hangar flying it’s called…) have no idea what fun they are missing.
I remember from 1973, though, going up and playing a bit in a Cessna Aerobat and then getting on my Honda 350 dirt bike to head back to the condo complex where I lived. As I turned onto Airport Way, I got all over the bike, but even with the front wheel off the ground I couldn’t shake a simple fact that roared through my head all the way home.
“This damn dirt bike is boring as hell compared with flying the Aerobat…”
That feeling never goes away.
Even with our old Porsche 930 whale tale (the sale of which funded the plane purchase) it was the lust for freedom in three axis instead of two that drove me to one last (and futile ) attempt to get flying out of my system.
It hasn’t worked. But time has.
I had to be run off by the declining eyesight.
Sure, still good enough to drive – and even fly legally and all. But the edge – the sharpness of detail…well that’s a bit less.
The time to sell an airplane is in the spring. That’s when people get serious about the industry.
The time to buy a plane is in late fall to early winter. That’s when hangar fees and work schedules take a bite out of flying.
One tip to non-pilots: Whether it is going out for your “introduction to flying” or taking off on one to those Big Birds, plan your flights as early in the day as possible. The air “lays down” overnight. As the sun comes up, and weather begins to move around, that’s when the bumps come along.
We can tell you this first hand, coming down through the thermals west of Las Vegas and going along the eastern slopes of the Rockies during past trips to the northwest.
To seasoned pilots my only admonishment is “Plan, plan, plan. Weather, weather, weather.” We never went anywhere without a complete set of current charts, paper or lately electronic. The iFly 740 GPS is a dream piece of gear and our thanks to Ed and Shane at Adventure Pilot for all the support over the years.
Live weather via the ADS-B system doesn’t end flight risk, but it sure reduces it.
I’d also like to thank the folks at Fort Worth Center who watched out for us as we picked up flight following which is better than another set of eyes in the cockpit.
A bit of a long epistle to the old bird, but sincere enough.
Eventually, gravity gets us all and we end “six foot under.”
But until it finally wins, there’s nothing like seeing the the panel and telling yourself “Airspeed’s alive…” as the engine strains to break free of the BS here on the ground.
There are pilots.
And there are mortals.
Eventually we’re all the latter. But only the luckiest of ‘em all get to be the former.
Elaine and I wish Joe and Megan as much fun as we’ve had.
And that’s one hell of a lot.
N7912L is on it’s way to the Bismarck, SD area from Stillwater, OK with the new owner under the watching eyes of a 14,000+ hour DC-9 pilot /CFI.
Although the stock market will pull back at the open today, the intriguing topic of the weekend Peoplenomics report is whether we will hit Price or Time in our apparent Replay of 1929:
There is a black X (if your eyes are good) which is our first crossing of the present trend with the 1929 data. The red X is the second crossing.
The potential upside for the Dow? More on that this weekend for subscribers, but I wanted you to see the chart. One of many we do twice weekly.
While many economists would no doubt disagree, we are nevertheless seeing money come out of the bond market to chase stocks higher.
I like to think of this as Bond Market Disintermediation Due to Rates.
Although it would be very much like that “splotchy noise” just before the shit hits the fan.
Our “press release du jour” is just out:
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,285,000. This is 4.6 percent (±2.0 percent) above the revised December rate of 1,228,000 and is 8.2 percent (±1.6 percent) above the January 2016 rate of 1,188,000. Single-family authorizations in January were at a rate of 808,000; this is 2.7 percent (±1.9 percent) below the revised December figure of 830,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 446,000 in January.
Privately-owned housing starts in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,246,000. This is 2.6 percent (±11.0 percent)* below the revised December estimate of 1,279,000, but is 10.5 percent (±15.3 percent)* above the January 2016 rate of 1,128,000. Single-family housing starts in January were at a rate of 823,000; this is 1.9 percent (±10.8 percent)* above the revised December figure of 808,000. The January rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 421,000.
Privately-owned housing completions in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,047,000. This is 5.6 percent (±8.0 percent)* below the revised December estimate of 1,109,000 and is 0.9 percent (±15.0 percent)* below the January 2016 rate of 1,056,000. Single-family housing completions in January were at a rate of 800,000; this is 4.3 percent (±7.5 percent)* above the revised December rate of 767,000. The January rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 244,000.
We note, however, that until the Housing market passes the 2006-2007 levels that this is still just an Elliott Wave B or 2 bounce from the 2009 decline lows.
Reader Note: If you are just catching on, each Thursday we’re are doing a chapter each week of a book I’m writing for Millennials – teaching the insights that will (hopefully!) allow them to live long and prosper – and be around to clean up after us Old People who made a mess of getting civilization this far.
There are three sections to each chapter. Something you can read to children, a general reader part, and the advanced/business section.
We pick up with morning like so…
We established in the first chapter that there is RECIPE for everything we do.
Chapter 3 discusses recipes and processes of INVENTION.
Chapter 4 looked at FLOW The reason we do management reports is so we can spot problems and head them off at the pass.
Chapter 5 considered “WORLDVIEW” and how that “place we stand in our minds” determines what happens in the strange land “outside our heads.”
Chapter 6 focused on “TRAVEL” and considers the importance of travel as a way to more deeply understand worldviews since people with similar problems will come up with surprisingly different answers to the problems of Life…
Today, in Chapter 7 “Matrix 512 is discussed as a unique way of keeping your worldview consistent as how to use it as a tool for clarified thinking in an every increasingly complex world.
For All Readers
Tom the Baker and Little John had the world by the tail.
Tom’s trips to far away places had discovered hundreds of new ingredients for them to try. Some with spices – like new kinds of peppers never before seen in the Kingdom.
Some were fish that Tom had shipped to the King’s castle in giant aquariums to the fish would be alive while they were being readied for a feast.
Strange plants, like breadfruit from the South Pacific were on hand. As we purple potatoes from high in the Andes Mountains of South America.
It all promised to be a feast. Yet the job was also daunting to Little John who had become Tom the Baker’s trusted assistant.
With so many ingredients, Little John was at a loss of what to cook.
“How can I ever figure all this out?” he cried in desperation.
“Let’s use a small matrix to do our work for us,” suggested Tom.
“What’s a matrix, again?” asked Little John.
“Remember the game of tic-tac-toe?” he began. “We call those lines a matrix. There are two lines up and down which divide the paper into three vertical columns. Then there are two lines horizontal that divide the paper into three rows.
Between then, there are 9 possibilities. Three across and three down.
Now let’s take our dinners and imagine each one has an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert,” he continued.
“We list the across rows as “New Recipes” and the Vertical Columns as “Tested Recipes.”
Each day, we will consider the three courses. We don’t want to overload the King on new and exciting tastes. Yet he does want to be adventurous.”
Little John thought about it. He then put letters in the grid. “Tested” was marked with a T and “New” was marked with an N.
Presently, a pattern evolved.
On the first day, the King would be served a new appetizer, but tested main course and desserts.
On the second day, the King could be served a familiar appetizer, but the main could would be new. However, for dessert, one of his tested favorites would be served.
On the third day, it would be the old favorites for appetizer and main courses, but a dessert.
“Say, that looks good…but what then?” said Little John.
“Well,” reasoned Tom the Baker, “We will ask the King if he wants to explore new favors faster or slower. If he says faster, then we use two new recipes and one old one and we go through the same process. Except now, we only use one tested recipe per meal.”
Just then, Little John has a moment of inspiration.
“Aren’t there Big Ingredients in Life that we would arrange the same way, to some advantage?”
Tom got out a fresh sheet of paper and he drew 7 vertical lines which made 8 columns. Then he did the same horizontally for 8 rows.
Then he did something truly remarkable: He drew 7 lines on an angle, so that a huge box appeared.
“What is that, Tom?”
Tom was busy counting, but when we was done he called it the Magic 512 Matrix.
“What does that mean,” demanded Little John..
“While I was traveling around the world, I learned that there were Seven Major Systems in Life. These were food, shelter, communications, transportation, energy, environment, and finance.”
Little John caught on immediately, but then noticed something wrong. “What you have drawn Tom is EIGHT rows, columns, and 8 levels of depth. What goes with the 8th label?”
“The Observer,” explained Tom. “You can understand almost everything in the world with this matrix because there is exactly one small cube that will best describe what and object is.”
“How can it be so simple?” Little John wasn’t convinced everything in life could be reduced to something as simple as an 8 by 8 by 8 cube. Tom, meantime, had been counting cubes within his Magic 512 Matrix.
“Go ahead, Little John, think of anything you want in the real world and I can put it into exactly one cube for you.”
Little John smiled. He knew he had Tom on this one.
“OK, Tom, what about the carriage-house for the King’s carriages?”
But alas, Tom was very smart. He went to the cube and he shaded the row labeled Transportation, then he shaded the column that was labeled Housing.
“I understand what you have done,” admitted Little John, but you only used two dimensions of your matrix. What is the third one for?”
Tom the Baker smiled broadly.
“Those other dimensions can be used to gain greater understanding once you tell me which aspect of the carriage house you wish to understand.”
Little John scratched his head…a common problem in days of old.
“How do you mean?”
Tom felt a blush of impatience.
“Little John, if you were to place a telephone in the carriage house, then it would be Housing, transportation, communications as you zoomed in on the Magic Cube.
Or, if you are talking about how the Royal Bankers are financing the carriage house, it would be Housing, transpiration, finance.”
Little John began to nod his head as the majesty of the Magic 512 Cube began to unfold before him.
“There is one thing that troubles me,” said Little John. “How do the Observer rows and columns and depths work?”
“Ah,” smiled Tom. “Now you get to the core of the Observer paradigm. Some things in our Reality are meant to be observed. But others are not. So we use the Observer intersections to, well, think of turning things either visible or invisible!”
“I don’t get it,” said Little John, feeling a bit exasperated by the whole matter. “How could something like communications be ‘visible’ or not?”
“I will give you an example then. When you use a telephone you can see and interact with the telephone. But you do NOT SEE the magic of the telephone. That would be the central office where the electronic switching of calls takes place. And if a cell phone is involved, then invisible processes switch calls from one tower to another and handle billing and time accounting. Some of those things are terribly complicated, so they are best left invisible.”
Little John nodded his head. “And so this is why most of the Internet is invisible, then?”
“Yes, exactly!” Tom was thrilled his assistant was catching on so fast.
“People don’t all need to build watches to tell what time it is, Little John.”
For General Readers
The easiest way to carry the Seven Major Systems around in your head is to simply memorize the list of seven items:
Environment (and health)
The last item, the Observer State becomes clear when you take an event or item in the physical world and envision it as a primary aspect of something with six “sides” around it that define how it interacts with the world.
A few days went by when suddenly, Tom was surprised to receive a note from the King.
It read “Tom, you must explain this Seven Systems” theory of yours to me. Come to myt Court right away.”
Tom didn’t waste any time as the King was impatient.
“You Highness, I have made an amazing discovery,” he began. “As I traveled around the world, I began to notice that everywhere I went, people had some things in common. There are certain activities that everyone seems to be involved in. Let me read you the list:
Tom was pleased, but the King was a little confused. “Yes, Tom, I know that everywhere people live, they will eat, but what does this have to do with being the Royal Cook?”
Tom wasn’t sure exactly, but he knew it was important. He tried to explain himself a little more clearly.
“You Highness, this discovery has given me a new way to organize not just the recipes in the kitchen, but all the recipes of life! “
“What on earth are you talking about?” the King asked.
“Well, I call these seven things the Major Systems of Life,” Tom began. “I noticed that whenever I saw a different kind of food in a country, there would be other things that were different too. Maybe it was the cooking fuel that I listed in the category called energy. Or, maybe it was the weather. I noticed in colder climates, the people were eating more foods with fat or butter.”
“Do you mean to tell me that where a person lives determines what they eat?” asked the King.
“Exactly, Your Highness. The people who lived in the tropical areas didn’t eat much fat, because the weather was warm and their bodies didn’t have to work to keep warm. But when I got up to northern Europe, I noticed that people ate a lot of the fat on meat and they ate a lot of butter too because their bodies were working really hard to stay warm. People there tended to be heavier in the fall and lighter in the spring, too if they worked outdoors.”
The King was very impressed with the way Tom had organized his knowledge. Presently, the King asked Tom, “If what you’re telling me is correct, I should be able to figure out tell where a person is by simply looking at how they dress, how they eat, how they get around and so on. Is this right?”
“Well, sort of,” Tom answered. “But there’s a little more to it than that. You see, Your Highness, I discovered that how we file recipes in our heads determines how we look at the world. So whether we think consciously about it or not, we all have a filing cabinet inside our heads that allow us to organize all the recipes of life in a way that not only let’s us remember everything, but depending on how we set it up, determines how we learn everything, too” Tom continued.
The King thought about this for a minute before he encouraged Tom to go on.
“I found, for example, that there were some people in China that I could communicate with very well. We seemed to have the same ideas about a lot of things. When I asked them questions, they seemed to give the same sort of answers that I would. But there were other people that just seemed to view the world much differently than I did. If I talked about a house, for example, they would think I was starting to talk about their social status” Tom explained.
The King still wasn’t sure if he was getting Tom’s point or not. “Give me some examples of what you mean,” said the King. He thought there might be something good in what Tom was saying, but he wanted more details.
“How you think about the world, Your Highness, depends on what you think is important. If you think religion is the most important thing, then every aspect of your life will be seen as having something to do with your religion. Or, if you live in a land where social status is all-important, then everything you see will be colored by the status you assign to it.” Tom hoped the King was getting his point.
The King asked, “Do you mean that how people look at a house can be seen as a social status thing, and not a structure to keep out the rain?”
Tom replied, “Exactly sire. There seem to be two kinds of people in the world: those who see things for their utility value, or those who see things for their social value. The problem with social values is, of course, that it changes how you look at things.
Suppose you have a puppy. If you look at the utility value of a puppy from a physical standpoint, it doesn’t do much more than eat and make messes. You don’t really need it to keep warm. But, if you look at the puppy from a social standpoint, then a puppy can be every loving and emotional friend. I’m not saying either view is right or wrong, I like dogs too. But a dog places a burden on my Seven Systems of Life and the value I receive in return doesn’t add back into that system.”
Tom wondered if what he was saying made sense to the King. After all, the King had many dogs and was known to be an animal lover.
“Are you saying having a puppy is a bad idea?” the King thundered.
“Oh no Sire!” replied Tom quickly. “It’s just that a puppy brings with it a responsibility in each of the Seven Major Systems of Life.”
“I’m not sure what you mean by this Major Systems of Life stuff,” said the King, “show me what you mean.”
“OK, Your Highness here goes. The first major System of Life is food. So your puppy can be looked at as a food problem. The problem is that if you don’t feed the puppy food, then you are being cruel to an animal, right?”
The King nodded agreement.
Tom continued, “and the second Major System of Life is shelter. If it’s raining outside, you can’t leave the puppy outside in the rain, right?”
“But the next Major System of life doesn’t make any sense. How does communication work with my dog?” asked the King.
“You talk to your dog, don’t you? I’ve heard you myself. You talk to him, you look each other in the eyes, and you have certain motions that give the dog directions what you want him to do. When you snap your fingers, the dog runs over to your left side and heels. So what you are doing is communicating with the dog.” Tom was feeling pretty good because he could see the King was beginning to see how his recipe system would work.
“But transportation,” said the King, “How do dogs fit in to transportation?”
“Well, in my travels” said Tom, “I heard of people who lived in the far frozen north who used dogs for pulling sleds. These sled dogs pulled carts on the ice that had skis instead of wheels.”
“And what about energy then?” demanded the King.
“Ah, Your Highness, those sled dogs were providing one-dog power each and according to my studies, one dog-power is a small fraction of one horsepower of energy. The people in the frozen north had found a way to use dog power as energy that provided transportation.”
“I know about dogs and the environment already,” said the King. “I know that when I take my dogs for walks that where they go to the bathroom, the lawn gets brown from too much fertilizer.”
“And, last but not least, Your Highness, you pay a lot of money for your dogs. Some of them have cost you hundreds of gold pieces.”
Tom concluded by telling the King, “I’m not saying that owning a dog is a good or a bad thing. What I am saying is that in the physical world outside of emotions and society, a dog has some measurable aspects that we can all agree upon. The social and emotional value will vary from person to person. But because we all live in the same world, we can all describe the Seven Major Systems of Life and discuss separately the emotional and social aspects of dogs.”
For General Readers:
The notion that there are Seven Major Systems of Life (plus an observer) is one that I came up with while working on the issue of long wave economics and how the meaning of “wealth” has changed over time.
We have come to equate “speed” with “progress.” The two are not the same, however.
I’m sure you remember from your school days that the Island of Manhattan, where New York was built, was originally traded for a box full of beads. The reason the trade worked was that the beads had only utility value to the Europeans who came to the New World, but they had high social and emotional values to the Native Americans who made the trade.
In retrospect, this seems like a very foolish trade; almost anyone today would scoff at the notion. Yet, in our own way, we have an equally high regard for the modern equivalent of those beads. We can find examples in many areas of life, and it’s worthwhile to go through a discussion of how social and emotional values color our perceptions and decision-making processes.
Let’s take food, specifically, a large New York steak. I mean as long as we’ve just mentioned Manhattan, right? We assign varying social status; depending on the setting the steak is in. Let’s put the steak in a number of settings, starting from the low end of society and working our way to the top, shall we?
If it’s prepared over a coffee can fire under a freeway overpass (having been fished out of a dumpster) that has one social status implication about the person eating it.
Preparing the steak in a residential kitchen implies higher social status.
The next step up might be the same kitchen, but if instead of a frying pan, we use a JennAir indoor grill, that implies slightly higher status. Having the steak prepared by a kitchen worker who cooks for hire implies even higher social status.
Last, but perhaps at the most enjoyable level, sitting in a fine restaurant, and having the steak prepared right at your table by a famous chef, while no doubt enjoying a good glass of wine, has a different social status.
But all of these social status issues aside, the steak, which is food, has aspects in each of the six other Major Systems of Life. Let me show you what I mean.
What is the shelter aspect of a steak? Here’s where we revisit the issue of scaling and zooming.
If you are “zoomed in” on the steak, you could consider the steak’s package to be its shelter. If we zoom out a little more, its shelter might be the refrigerator that it is being stored in prior to cooking. Or, it might be the meat market where similar steaks are housed in a walk-in freezer, prior to being sent to homes for consumption.
The communications aspect of the steak depends on which of our senses we are using as a communications channel. If you happen to use your voice, the communications aspect might be the instructions to the butcher, “I’d like it about an inch and a half thick.” I like good steaks. Or, if you are too lazy to head to the butcher shop, you could be saying something like, “Hello, is this Omaha Steaks?” Our eyes communicate a lot of information about the steak; is the marbling right? Has too much fat been left on it? Our touch and smell might warn us if there is a problem with it. There’s even a part of hearing involved. If you hear a mooing noise, it’s not cooked yet. Sizzling noises from charred areas? Yum.
Steaks have a complex transportation system if you look at it over time. Steaks begin by being transported as heads cattle to a slaughterhouse. From there, it moves to a cutting room and then on to an aging room. Once purchased by a buyer, it is transported, usually by truck, to a regional warehouse, and from there it is sent to either a butcher shop or off to the local Safeway or Kroger’s. It then takes a ride in a car to get to your house. The Omaha Steak people have capitalized on overnight jet cargo service to give their steaks an airplane ride. These are very good steaks, and thus, the use of more expensive transportation seems important.
Energy has a very interesting relationship with steaks. It may be burning wood, smoldering hot charcoal, electricity, or even natural gas. Some kinds of energy don’t seem especially appropriate, like solar or oil fired, yet they can be used. Solar heat seems to work if you’re drying the steak into teriyaki beef jerky, and a steak burned on a grill heated by white gas near a campfire can be exquisite. Providing it’s not raining, which it often seems to be whenever I’m camping, although even under these adverse conditions, I’ve had some good steaks.
Steaks and the environment get us into a highly contentious area. The reason is that as foods go, steaks are very inefficient. Yeah, they taste great to some of us omnivores, but there are internal and external environmental reasons why steaks are not the best food on the planet. Raising cattle as a food source uses something like six times more grain and water than simply growing the same number of calories as vegetables. That cattle can be hard on some kinds of grasslands is not disputed either. The internal environmental reasons not to eat steak can be traced to high meat diets causing colon cancer, and to excessive deposits of plaque in arteries.
Last, but not least in our exploration of how the Seven Major Systems of Life apply to steaks we have the matter of finance. Steaks are not cheap. Part of this comes from the amount of traveling they do, part from the inefficiency involved in raising cattle – land and feed cost a lot of money – and part comes from the fact that only a small fraction of cattle converts into steak. The rest winds up as hamburger, roasts, and leather goods.
We can generalize this notion that every one of the Seven Major Life Systems has aspects or “faces” to all the other aspects. If we make a ball out of “food” and place it inside a “box”, each of the interior surfaces of the box touches our problem area:
If we want to become really fancy in our analysis we could arrange the faces on the inside of the box so that they worked in a way that the real world operates. For example, we know that our food has a finance aspect. But while the finance cost of food relates to transportation (and adjoining face) and communication, the environment cost of food may not be too great. So as we look at unit costs of a food, say a carrot, we can order the systems by ranking costs as delivered to our dinner table.
Let’s say this carrot we’re talking about costs one dollar. We might find 50-cents of the financing of the carrot comes from transportation. Maybe there’s another dime or two in energy. Shelter (or specifically packaging and warehousing) might eat up everything but the last 2-cents of our dollar. The two cents would be the cost of land to grow the carrot.
We can then build a hierarchy of “carrot finance”
Transportation costs: 0.50
Energy costs: 0.21
The main point of running through this is to demonstrate the obvious: If we look at financial dimensions of carrots (food) we denominate our evaluation process in finance units. An evaluation done in the U.S. would differ from one done in Russia where rubles, not dollars, are used.
The more subtle point is that we can do other dimensional analyses of food. An analysis of “carrot transportation” might be expressed as a mileage study. There are mileages traveled by carrots and carrots in packages. There are two or three mileposts along the transportation continuum where communications occurs. This kind of analysis forces you to ask questions like “What is the financial aspect of carrot transportation?” As you ask this kind of question, the interconnectedness of systems comes into focus.
You’re then in a position to roll-you-own in any type of analysis and do as good a job of it as “more learned” experts in the field. If you look at Greenpeace, or other environmental groups, what they have done is demanded environmental dimensioning of particular consumable items. Whether the “environmental accounting” is done using some arbitrary form of energy unit, or “earth quality” unit makes little difference – yet. But we as our society grows, we are evolving accounting units for each of these Seven Major Systems. As the following table shows, not only do we have primary measures, but also secondary measures have evolved as our knowledge has expanded.
As should be coming into focus for you, as we come to better terms with the evolving complexity in society, the way we measure things has changed. This evolution of measurement within the systems comes over a period of time.
It’s easy to imagine our friends Uggg and Thuggg fighting over the day’s food. The measurement system was pretty crude. Uggg might say “Uggg caught deer”. And Thuggg, the always-present enemy trying to gain without work, might reply “Thuggg takes food.” Thugg was the ancestor of bankers.
The huge shift is obvious when you engage in conversation today about food. “I can’t have that piece of pie because I’ve already had 1700 calories for the day and plenty of carbohydrates.” The always-present negative aspect of self even gets involved in the evolution of measurement because instead of whispering in our ear, “Thuggg takes food”, we instead mumble to ourselves, “Well, just a few more calories won’t hurt just this once.”
There are only two more points to make about how we frame the world we observe. One has to do with creativity and the other has to do with scaling over time.
The way the Seven Major Systems can be applied to understanding of any society is to build a grid system that forces you to analyze how a particular group of people has constructed their systems. Think of this approach as an attempt to define a cross-cultural systemic anthropology. Or, more simply, think of it as constructing a group’s worldview.
We begin with a simple chart that shows how the systems all fit neatly together. It looks like this:
The way this works is pretty simple. You start with food and how it interacts with food (A) and you start asking questions like, “Is there anything that is food that is being fed to something that is food?” In this category, you might find, if you live in the Cayman Islands, that Ralston Purina makes “Turtle Chow”, which is food being fed to food. Although turtle soup is maybe not high on your list of favorites, in Kansas City, you’d expect to see grain being fed to cows. In Nebraska, it would be corn to the hogs. In the Pacific Northwest, you might notice that chicken parts are being placed in crab pots because crab love chicken.
As we move to the intersection of food with shelter (b) we see that this may be broken into a continuum. It might look something like this:
There’s a continuum over time that happens with each of the intersections between the major life systems. Put another way, everything has a history that leads up to the present moment and, barring a major eruption of the sun that vaporizes us; most everything will have a future.
The reason for developing a non-social framework for the analysis of recipes is that there are two general classes of recipes: those that are intended to give power and control over the physical world, and those that give power and control over people. We’ll explore the “recipes that run people” in a later chapter. For now, let’s talk about the necessary recipes you need to live at the animal level and fully cope with the implications of that.
The implications are pretty simple, although not especially comfortable. If you have food, shelter, transportation, and the rest, if your comfort level is similar, it doesn’t really matter whether you accomplish it with a gazillion dollars worth of high technology, or simple low technology like you find in the houses that line the switch-back rail line leading up the mountain from Cuzco, Peru, to the summit that leads down into the high Amazon.
I spent only a little time in Peru, but came out of the experience with a very high regard for their way of life. Not only do they enjoy better coffee than Norte Americanos, but they also have almost no commute time, no air pollution to speak of, reasonably good health, and good communication. Did I mention music and dancing?
No, they do have Pentium IV’s or i7’son their desks at home, but neither do they have desks. Their life is filled with emphasis on other things. They have time to think, time to reflect, and time to decide big issues. The do manual work and their processors are between their shoulders and they get recharged nightly.
Although “what it means to be a man” is not a major focus of conversation in big cities of America (except perhaps in certain gay clubs) it is what men really wonder about in Peru. They have an emphasis on macho behavior. They really are largely focused on conquering women and South American men are more chauvinistic in ways that would offend most women in the U.S.A. But, they also have a different view of family. It’s not something that is sublet to a school, which then takes up the role of parenting. Nor do Peruvian men lack charm or grace, especially when compared to some of North America’s finest “nerd class.” They say “goodbye” and are polite. N.A. nerds simply click. Goobye’s take time and they have none to spare. There’s a FB post to be done…
As Tom implied to the King, there needs to be a framework for collection of the recipes of life. The Seven Major Life Support Systems are only one such framework. It’s consistent to the extent that it removes social and societal lenses from our eyes and let’s us look at planetary life in new ways.
One thing the study of recipes has shown me is that there are two ways to approach many problems. In the field of anthropology, there are dozens of books that deal with differentiation.
Because of analysis by differentiation, textbook publishing has flourished. But what about the other side of the differentiation coin? What about studies of societies and social structures that begin from a basis of commonality? Although the study of our common behaviors and common grounds may challenge the conventional paradigm of division to the nth degree, everyone on the face of this earth seems dwell somewhere, to eat food, travels from place to place, engages in some kind of exchange, in a shared environment, communicating in some way, using or selling their energy, and at the same time, live with a purpose that is grander than the basics of consumption.
A suitable challenge for any encounter with another person seems to be developing at least a baseline appreciation of their motivations.
OK, there’s one final point I’d like to make about the Seven Major Systems of Life because you’re probably thinking to yourself “Say, this looks sort of similar to something I’m already aware of…” If you can’t place where it is you have seen this collection of items, let me give you a hint: It’s your monthly budget for your household.
Yep, each month you have to write a check or do an auto pay for each of these items.
The house payment is your shelter cost, the energy bills come in for the house and the car, the environment bills include things like medical coverage, insurance, and the like. Transportation is covered by the car payment, and communications has been growing a lot in the past 20 years to include a land based telephone line, a cell phone (or two), the cable TV (or satellite service), along with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) billing. Your finance bill comes in from MasterCard, American Express, Visa, and as those service charges from the bank. If your household is like ours, your food expenses sort of dribble out every time you visit the store.
I make this point about budgeting because if you ever need it, this type of thinking will allow you to come up with all kinds of ways to save money that you might not have thought about previously.
Take housing, for example. If you ever find yourself laid off, a position I found myself in September of 2001 through January of 2002, there are lots of ways to reduce your out-of-pocket housing costs. One way you could reduce your costs is by taking in a roommate to help offset costs.
Elaine & I were pleased during this period of unemployment to share our home (a boat actually) with Elaine’s brother, who contributed to our rent (moorage costs). Because living on a boat got to be a little cramped, Elaine and I secured a job as apartment managers. Although ultimately we had to resign because I accepted a relatively high-paying job in a different state, managing an apartment is a simple way to live very inexpensively.
The job we were offered was done in exchange for a nice 2-bedroom apartment with a good-sized patio and a 10-minute drive from downtown San Diego.
We spent more on communications than most unemployed people would, having two cells phones, an ISP, a landline to support internet service, and a $75 monthly DirecTV bill. That was 2002. Today it’s just normal.
We cut expenses in other areas, too. Elaine’s brother was able to do some shopping at the local military exchanges, being retired from the military. The evenings we went out, we focused on “happy hours” and especially those that had food specials. One night, for example, we had shrimp and roast beef for dinner and it set us back about $9 for both of us. Lounge food isn’t a bad deal if you find the right places.
In the transportation field, we decided to get by with one car, so we dispatched one to my daughter, Allison, who made the payments for a while and in exchange got a solid zero-down car. I’ve did the repairs on the outboard motor for the RIB boat myself, rather than take it to the shop because I had time, while unemployed, to do that kind of thing. Kinda missed it when the 80 hour weeks resumed in Florida.
As amazing as it seems, our quality of life was actually as good while unemployed as it was when I was working and making $100,000+ per year.
Granted, there were shifts in how we did things, but we stayed ahead of the curve, and eliminated costs like bankcard interest by simply paying off the card wherever we spent money.
During the six-month hiatus, I only drained about $4,000 from my savings to augment unemployment. I ate less – and that certainly helped the food budget and my health – and I walked more.
All told, it was an interesting period, and one that allowed me time to write the first draft of this book and pursue a lot of financial studies.
Words are interesting things. I felt kind of funny while being unemployed. I wasn’t lazy; I still managed to get up most mornings around 6 AM and start banging on the computer and keeping up to date on news and professional interests. But I did find myself doing things that were extremely satisfying to me personally – things that I would not have been able to do if I were purely focused on earning money.
I didn’t mention at the time that I was unemployed, though. In order not to look like a deadbeat, I told people who asked, that I was taking a sabbatical. This is an important point to note if you ever find yourself unemployed; look at the time off as a gift and do some of the things you really want to do. Value it and use it wisely. People understand rehab and sabbaticals. Sabbaticals when you walk around with an armload of books which I was doing.
The modest changes you will need to make are simple shifts in your Seven Major Life Support Systems. The specifics can all be discovered in a quick reading of your checking account register. It’s a simple process of understanding how you frame the recipes that make up your physical support systems.
Take a sabbatical sometime. It’s worth getting fired to get one.
For Business Readers
The Seven Major Life Support Systems have their analog in the business world, yet here they have a different name. Let me share with you the history of one of my first – and most important – complex spreadsheets.
It was called A.L.F.M.S. – the Airline Financial Modeling System. I did the work when I was Senior Voice President of an international airline in 1983-1985. The reason for building the model was so that the president and I could test various hypothetical changes in operations of an airline to see what would result in the greatest improvement in cash flow and the bottom line.
Let’s talk about operating models for a moment, and see where they fit into the grand scheme of managing a business.
First, the basics of accounting are observed in every business. Most small companies are run on a cash basis. This means bills are paid when they come in the front door. The other way to run a business is by the accrual method. This may be summarized as accounting that tries to match up expenses with revenues.
What few companies use as an operating tool at the president or vice president level though, is something called the “pro-forma.” It’s not to be confused with accrual worksheets of operating results because they become much too large to be used to make snap decisions. Accrual worksheets, that recognize revenue in complex situations, are not a management tool. They take way more time than is necessary to make management decisions.
The president had already identified the major management problem before I arrived at the airline: The 727’s were only being flown about 7-hours per day. The rest of the time, they were sitting on the ground doing nothing. The task, therefore, was to fly the planes more above their direct operating costs so something would fall to the bottom line.
What the accrual system didn’t do was solve the utilization problem. So, armed with an early HP-110C laptop (one of the few early computers certified for use aboard aircraft, by the way), I set about modeling revenues so that we could see with a few keystrokes, what a charter of a jet to a customer like Club Med or an airline like Faucett, the national carrier of Peru, would do to our bottom line.
Here’s a flow chart that explains in general terms, how the model worked for us:
The airline president had served at the VP level of Air Florida, and had worked as an accountant for the airline industry at a Big Eight accounting firm (back when there were that many). Because of this, the intricate relationships between various parts of the model were nearly second nature to him. But, to me, new to the airline business at the time, there were a lot of “Ah ha’s!” that sprung out after I built the model.
A lot of this systematic viewing of things was grounded in that experience.
For example, all other things being equal, an aircraft will generally operate more efficiently on longer flights. It’s logical when you think about it – it takes more fuel to get up to cruising altitude than it takes to maintain cruising altitude.
Another factor? There are many items on an aircraft that are cyclical expenses. In the airline world, a cycle is a take-off and a landing. Cycles are where your incur tire replacements, servicing of landing gear at major maintenance checks, and the like.
The model also forced me, heading up marketing, to associate specific city-pair marketing costs with the revenue generated. If I ran a special one-way fare from Grand Cayman to Miami for the locals of $126 each way, I needed some basis for that price. I was able to take my average yield on that city-pair northbound, see it was $126 (it was a buck or two less the other direction) and know that if I ran a special, it would not dilute my revenue, but it would likely take traffic away from my competitor.
Back to the point about the model, it was an incredibly useful tool to learn and be able to manage marketing of an international airline. What’s not shown in the simplified diagram above is all the currency conversions that took place, because we had routes into the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Jamaica, plus all North American fares were in U.S. dollars while the Cayman Island fares were in (as you would expect) Cayman Island dollars.
It was a grown-up spreadsheet, for sure.
Still, once built, it allowed us to model what would happen if we put an extra section (an additional flight in non-airline lingo) between a particular city-pair given some unusual event. That might be a holiday, and it might just be extremely hot weather somewhere like Houston that causes Texans to look for somewhere cooler to relax.
The model also had its analogy to the Seven Major Life Support Systems.
These factors all had influences on all the other aspects such that for a given airline with a particular route and revenue structure, there were implied limits to efficiency that a well-run airline should bump up against.
When the turnaround of the airline began, two 727-227ADV’s were each was flying a bit over 7 hours per day. Given this low utilization rate, it was virtually impossible to operate a profitable airline at anything other than holiday peak periods. When tourism traffic dries up in the Cayman Islands (and most of the Caribbean) in September 15th to U.S. Thanksgiving, those planes were burning money just sitting there – holding the ground down – and every flight operated just dug a deeper hole.
The way out of the problem was to increase the utilization on a year-round basis through additional flights, mostly on a charter basis, so that the direct cost of aircraft ownership (a lease) would be spread out over more flight hours. While the costs of maintenance went up, we were able to reduce the cost per flight hour by more than US$1,000. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when you consider we increased utilization to about 13-hours per day per aircraft, you can see how we were able to dramatically lower our breakeven costs. These in turn allowed us to price more aggressively on some routes and gain market share, a strategy that paid off handsomely when we got into those holiday periods.
By using a model, we could develop a charter price quote for Club Med in a matter of seconds – something that was almost unheard of in the early 1980’s.
The airline case illustrates an important point about framing of recipes. A lot of small businesses come and go because they don’t have the “big picture” and the experience to properly frame a business decision.
I have worked in the admissions area of proprietary colleges and here again, the lack of a sensible model makes the difference between a positive result and a money loser.
I have come to the conclusion that each department in every company alive, should have a daily reporting system in place so that all employees will be able to see at any time, how the business is doing. Although this touches on a long-standing debate over whether all employees should be told how a business is doing, it is critical that everyone understands the main function of their department and see how it is measured and how their individual efforts fit in to the companywide outcome.
In 2001, I executed a sales turnaround for a proprietary college in the San Francisco Bay area. The school sales (admissions) operation had been poorly managed and the reason was simple: There were no measurements in place.
My first step upon arrival was to require each of the admissions representatives to complete a detailed sales report. Every day, these sales personnel would have to document how many prospective new students they talked to. Of these, they would have to report how many were scheduled to come into the school for a tour of the campus and discussion of their goals. Then I required an accounting of how many actually showed up for the tour of the school, how many enrolled, and how many actually began attending school.
Last, but not least, there was a final accounting each 6-weeks to see how many students each admissions rep had started who had remained in school five days. Students that don’t “stick” for longer than five-days don’t count in the school business, because most were not charged tuition until after the 5-day mark.
The results were, as you’d expect, impressive. Sales people who couldn’t make the grade either self-selected out, or in a few cases, I made the decision for people who couldn’t perform. But of the half of the original sales force that survived 6-months of my numbers-oriented management style, efficiency more than quadrupled. Admissions went from an average of 30-students per six-week period to over 100 per six-week period, and my last class start was 156. The two year program was on its way to 2,000 students.
This is not to brag. It’s to make a couple of extremely simple points.
First, the Hawthorne Study that says people do better at everything just be virtue of being measures is absolutely true in the field. If you are not requiring daily reporting of every employee in your company, you are not operating anywhere near possible efficiencies.
Secondly, you can’t make good decisions without a model. If you know that one advertising media results in $10 of advertising cost per sale and another results in a $50 advertising cost per sale, you’d have to be a complete numbskull not to make the obvious decision. (I’ll help you with it: Advertise more on the $10 per sale media and cut the budget of the $50 per sale media…)
Thirdly, developing a simple daily pro forma tool is in my experience the cheapest investment any company can make – whether at the department, regional, or national basis – to forcing employees to come to terms with the truth of their business.
People are pain-avoiding animals. When a company is not making money, it’s not because the animals are bad. They’re just doing what they do – avoiding pain. The task of management is not to inflict pain, but to find out where the pain is coming from and orchestrate group efforts to end the pain.
Seven Major Life Support Systems you can define for any business are:
Daily P&L (Finance)
If you model any business, you will quickly see how a change in any one of these items will ripple across the whole business. If the P&L is sick, you may lose sales because you can’t afford enough advertising. If you have too much plant space, you may not be able to sell enough to make money. But if you have too little, you will be encouraging competitors. If the price of raw materials moves up, your pricing will have to adjust pricing which in turn may impact sales volumes. That in turn ripples to plant and number of employees.
Just as the major support systems of personal life work as a balloon being squeezed in a fist – where the balloon will pop out somewhere – so it goes in operating a business. You can only pull so much demand forward with special pricing, and you can only operate at some fraction of 100% efficiency so long.
Whether it’s a small airline in the Caribbean, a college in the San Francisco Bay area, or a high tech electronics manufacturer, a reasonable person, willing to ask questions and quantify factors, can a model what will yield a reliable approximation of how close you can get to doing everything as close to right as possible for a given set of operating circumstances.
The daily pro forma is a simple tool that helps frame decision-making.
If you relentlessly follow the pro-forma, despite hatred from revenue accounting worriers, eventually the bottom line catches up and everyone has a fine pay day.
More next Thursday when tge Keyword will be “Making.”
The Dow was up a good bit yesterday and Ure’s truly blew out of his latest long (bet the market would go up) position. We may get one – or several – more good runs prior to an all-time high that leads to a huge recession/depression. Or, we may not. Futures were flat when I checked.
The first thing to consider this morning is the Producer Price Index just released:
“The Producer Price Index for final demand increased 0.6 percent in January, seasonally adjusted, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Final demand prices rose 0.2 percent in December and 0.5 percent in November. (See table A.) On an unadjusted basis, the final demand index climbed 1.6 percent for the 12 months ended January 2017.
In January, over 60 percent of the advance in the final demand index is attributable to a 1.0-percent increase in prices for final demand goods. The index for final demand services moved up 0.3 percent.
Prices for final demand less foods, energy, and trade services rose 0.2 percent in January after
inching up 0.1 percent in December. For the 12 months ended in January, the index for final demand less foods, energy, and trade services climbed 1.6 percent.
Final demand goods: Prices for final demand goods moved up 1.0 percent in January, the largest rise since a 1.0-percent advance in May 2015. Three-fourths of the January increase can be traced to the index for final demand energy, which jumped 4.7 percent. Prices for final demand goods less foods and energy climbed 0.4 percent. The index for final demand foods was unchanged.
Product detail: Over half of the January increase in prices for final demand goods is attributable to the gasoline index, which advanced 12.9 percent. The indexes for pharmaceutical preparations, iron and steel scrap, home heating oil, residential natural gas, and pork also moved higher. In contrast, prices for beef and veal fell 7.2 percent. The indexes for light motor trucks and for candy and nuts also decreased.”
Toss in tomorrow’s Consumer Price Index and life could become interesting. Gold is up on PPI perhaps expecting more inflation to come.
In long wave economics terms, I continue to believe Donald Trump is walking in the path worn by Herbert Hoover.
Hoover, sworn in March 4, 1929 had about 182-days before the stock market hit its all-time high ahead of the Great Depression whose onset was heralded by the Crash just less than three months later. Trumps timeline would be late July. He was sworn in three months earlier.
Hoover was at the leading edge of protectionism. Like Donald Trump, he was a very good communicator who did well with vastly simplified messages. Rich…generous….yep. Echoes there.
He (Hoover) was also outspoken on current events:
“”The fundamental business of the country, that is the production and distribution of commodities, is on a sound and prosperous basis.”
He managed to say this the day the day after the ‘29 Crash.
“Any lack of confidence in the economic future and the basic strength of business in the United States is simply foolish. Our national capacity for hard work and intelligent cooperation is ample guaranty of the future of the United States.”
This little gem popped out about three weeks after the Crash.
“I am convinced we have now passed the worst and with continued unity of effort we shall rapidly recover.”
Almost six months after the Crash, Hoover was still optimistic and in denial.
But the biggest Hoover boondoggle was the Revenue Act of 1929. Which was what?
Come on! What is Trump pushing hard for? What did I tell subscribers recently? Tax Cuts at this time in our economic history are a bad – very, very, very bad – idea.
“On October 21, 1929, Hoover signaled his intention to ask for a tax cut. Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon told lawmakers that he expected a budget surplus in each of the next two fiscal years. As a result, he suggested, Congress would have ample room to cut taxes. Ways and Means Chair Willis Hawley, R-Ore., responded warmly. “In the past,” he told reporters, “each reduction in taxes has stimulated business and resulted in another surplus the subsequent year.”
My study of the Hoover-Trump Parallels brings along some interesting points.
First, Hoover went for the 1929 cuts in the same mistaken belief that tax cuts are always good. As we explained in detail in last weekend’s Peoplenomics.com report, they are not. In fact, improperly timed, they bring disaster.
While the right-wing radio bloviators sing high praises of the Ronald Reagan tax cuts and cite it as evidence, they universally ignore the true economic background of the time.
The all-time high of interest rates had passed in 1980-1981.
Rates were going down and they would through 2016 when viewed over the ultra long-term.
Reagan was the beneficiary of the Personal Computer Revolution.
He also benefited from huge numbers of women entering the workforce. Remember, Gloria Steinem’s Ms. Magazine had been on the racks for more than a decade and feminism and women in the workforce in general, and in upwardly mobile middle management positions was on the increase.
Reagan was just damn lucky.
As for the famed “Laffer Curve” – a cornerstone of Reaganomics? As Wikipedia notes:
“The Laffer curve postulates that no tax revenue will be raised at the extreme tax rates of 0% and 100% and that there must be at least one rate which maximizes government taxation revenue. The Laffer curve is typically represented as a graph which starts at 0% tax with zero revenue, rises to a maximum rate of revenue at an intermediate rate of taxation, and then falls again to zero revenue at a 100% tax rate. The shape of the curve is uncertain and disputed.”
And with good reason. Despite what far-right commentators believe, Reagan could have done NOTHING – or actually reduced the federal deficit – and still have enjoyed a thriving economy: Women were now working (beginning to), computers were going mainstream, the ATH of interest rates was past and rates were coming down, and there was the consumer explosion as the “Echo Baby Boom” got consumptive.
Like I said, he was lucky.
This is where the trip wires are for Donald Trump.
In an idealized Replay of Hoover, Trump will replay both the Revenue Act of 1929 (tax cuts) and will install his own version of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act. Wiki it:
“By the late 1920s the economy of the United States had made exceptional gains in productivity due to electrification, which was a critical factor in mass production. Horses and mules had been replaced by motorcars, trucks and tractors. One-sixth to one-quarter of farmland previously devoted to feeding horses and mules was freed up, contributing to a surplus in farm produce. Although nominal and real wages had increased, they did not keep up with the productivity gains. As a result the ability to produce exceeded market demand, a condition that was variously termed overproduction and underconsumption. Senator Smoot contended that raising the tariff on imports would alleviate the overproduction problem; however, the US had actually been running a trade account surplus, and although manufactured goods imports were rising, manufactured exports were rising even faster. Food exports had been falling and were in trade account deficit; however the value of food imports were a little over half that of manufactured imports.
As the global economy entered the first stages of the Great Depression in late 1929, the US’s main goal emerged to protect American jobs and farmers from foreign competition. Reed Smoot championed another tariff increase within the US in 1929, which became the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Bill. In his memoirs, Smoot made it abundantly clear:
The world is paying for its ruthless destruction of life and property in the World War and for its failure to adjust purchasing power to productive capacity during the industrial revolution of the decade following the war.”
With this as the foreplay – and realizing that Hoover was forced into a tax increase in 1932 (Revenue Act of 1932) which arguably turned the potentially short but sharp Depression into a longer-term disaster, we can look at the morning’s headlines and apply a little Plug & Play logic.
There is the matter of the Senate vote in December 1994 – which bound us on a 76 (yes) to 24 (no) margin. Text of the law is here.
Still, that leaves a very interesting legal debate that could go something like this: If the U.S. joined the WTO in 1994, (Jan 1, 1995 to be exact) can Congress bind us to an organization that continuously modifies it’s own rules without voting to conform to the new rules?
In a sense, you can see it as an abdication of power.
Trump is likely to go back to the 1994 state of affairs and toss out anything added to the WTO gameplan since – and this might be his basis of challenge.
So we get back to the point: Given that Trump will likely do a tax break, and that Congress will approve such, then in addition to a trade mess (presently evolving) we can also predict that within three years any tax breaks in the short-term will be reversed – just as the Revenue Act of 1932 reversed the 1929 Act.
So here we sit – ahead of a Greater Depression – with the LBGTQ groups rerunning the Flapper role of sexual liberation as the whole country goes through a serious replay of previous events.
And last but not least, we look at an 88-year economic cycle that may coincide with the blow-up of the nation’s currency. Just like it did in the Depression.
How do you spell “digital confiscation?”
And in Other News
Who cares? Yeah, Flynn’s out for not telling all on his Russia talks.
And yes, the next 10-days will see another 4-inches of rain at the Oroville, California dam.
But compared to the apparent reality of the firming of our Replaying 1929 approach, those items are far less worrisome and don’t server much headspace.
It’s that time of the year. The mind rotates around to food and plantings…
No one in my family has ever been much of a gardener, except for my mom. And frankly, I didn’t learn a whole bunch: Let her and mi sisters pick the Hiumalyana black berries that grow up in the Northwest – and let them do the cheesecloth and dripping. My role was to play with the melted parafin. And I still got some pie and jelly in the deal – great family value stuff.
When we moved to the Outback, Elaine did most of the gardening. She is spectacularly good at it.
Because of the airplane, though, we weren’t around the past couple of summers to look after the garden. Brother-in-law was courting so his attention was (rightly) elsewhere.
So this year I burned out the garden and we’ll put in some real crops this year.
After a while you get a practiced eye from reading about gardening. The most obvious defect with the Ure garden plot is that the fence gate is too damn low. So one of the first projects this weekend will be to put up some re-bar, well on some cattle panel, and then spray with Rustoleum primer.
A couple of years ago, I got real interested in hydroponics. One reason is it involved zero weed-pulling. But that still doesn’t produce a plant to go in the net pots that go into the liquid. Those still have to be “hatched” and put into grow media.
I did a fair planting of tomatoes and broccoli on January 30th. But here’s all I got for the efforts:
Not much there, right?
But from a similar batch of seeds, I decided to plant using a planting stick and plant in starting and potting soil. World of difference!
You can’t read the dates on the ID sticks well, but these all went in on February 6th – so this is (right side) tomatoes and left side squash at the six day mark.
The (simple enough for even George to follow-along) lesson is simple: Don’t waste your time on those “look like they oughta work” peat pellets.
Granted, these are pellets that had been in storage for, um….maybe 4 or 5 years. But that’s the point of prepping to see what works and what doesn’t. You can see the “doesn’t” real well.
Left: two weeks in pellets, right 6 DAYS in real soil.
These are same seeds, different containers and all on the same heat mat. To be sure, the right-hand plants are on a cookie sheet (metal) to hold the water around the bases. But the use of a plastic mat shouldn’t make any different. Unless, of course, you’re a fan of Dr. Wilhelm Reich.
He’s the fellow who came up with the idea of “orgone energy” and some claim it’s the “orgasmic power” of the Universe. A rare book I have argues it’s the orgasmic power that runs antigravity for aliens and lots of other froufrou, which is even more outlandish.
Still, there may be something to this metal plan being used.
Reich’s idea was that orgone energy could be “accumulated” by containing things in alternate layers of organic and inorganic (some say metallic) material.
Thing of it as growing things in a kind of “capacitor box.”
Remember that a capacitor is nothing more than two conductors – separated by some insulating material – and a “charge” may be stored in the insulated field between the metal plates.
What Reich did was build up “accumulators” with different materials, sometimes wood and metal, other times other things.
There actually may be a bit of fringe science to some of his odd ideas: There is a small but measurable electric field around everything living and perhaps, with the high kind of containment, the materials could be selected to keep more of a plant’s “orgone” (life force/orgasmic) energy in the same region and not be frittered away through the plastic tray which was used for the peat pellets.
I have a good photo here of the plants at six days. So when I get some time later this week I’ll put in still more tomatoes and see if they pop up faster or slower.
One footnote on this: There is a pretty well defined lunar effect, so we would expect similar seeds to germinate a bit slower during the waning part of the moon’s cycle.
Ain’t science fun?
Another little wobble on Ure’s part…well two actually.
Any of these will be a step in the right direction. But more important to me has been this greenhouse thing. It will be raining down here today and I can be in the greenhouse puttering away. The payoff will be plants that will be probably 5-6 inches high that will go in right after the tiller pass and the amendments to the soil.
My friend Perk – former fire chief hereabouts (off traveling last heard) – was a Master Gardener and he used tricks like putting down a row of weed cloth, planting his veggies in small holes and then mulching over the cloth. Made sense, if I’m remembering his technique correctly. But it seemed like a lot of work,…so mulch and till it under in the fall. Bring in worms, too.
Heaven knows we have pine needles enough and with lime to keep it from going to acidic…
Still, in survival gardening you’re really after minimum labor and maximum food output, so I may even skip the tilling…just burn things out, turn over a small hand shovel worth of ground, transplant into that and mulch over the burn ash.
Absent the airplane, which will go at some point regardless of the events this week, I’m trying to wrap my head around “survival gardening.”
So if I accidentally write “This is not work, this is a new fun…” That’s just me, turning the homestretch at 68 trying to stay in shape and emphasizing nutrition.
But it does make me wonder: Isn’t there some way we could harness all that wasted human efforts in gyms and fitness clubs and lay some of that “orgone”-like energy in community gardens, or such?
So when will Melania be planting the back yard of the White House?
Don’t forget this is Valentine’s day. Remember to pick up a treat or you will be sleeping in the greenhouse or worse.
You know when Monday is going to be a “building tensions” day when your first round of chess to limber-up the brain goes like this:
By the 19th move, the computer was laughing “Mate in 3.” So I haplessly concluded another entry in my journal: Don’t play chess near the full moon; scores are lower.
Markets, too, get a little nutso around this period. With yesterday being the full moon, we anticipate things will rally madly for a while, but then calm down, or even decline, as the moon phase shifts toward the last quarter and tomorrow’s dispensation of Producer Prices and then Wednesday’s Consumer Prices.
Toss in a possible second Trump Executive order on immigration – which as we discuss in the Coping section will lead to predictably more demonstrations and what-not – we expect weakness to evolve in coming weeks.
As long as we’re on the mental/mindset part of the market, it should be noted that this coming summer we will have a full eclipse take a path directly through the U.S.
Those who are familiar with the work of Steve Puetz will recall his work suggesting that market crashes tend to occur when we see a solar eclipse in close proximity to a lunar eclipse.
Since we have one of those (lunar) coming up August 7 – and the solar is on August 21 – then we would have to put this in our sights as a high probability time to be short the market, though we’ll let our trading indicators guide on that.
Still, what could a pile of put options cost?
There is a fascinating Elliott Wave problem to be faced here: Market advances and declines happen in three or five (an d occasionally) seven wave “steps.”
The most terrible damage is almost always done in the third wave, but in exceptional conditions, the 5th waves are worst – particularly true in commodities. We note in passing that stocks have been slowly becoming more “commodity-like.”
I laid all this out (and some “through future darkly”) for our Peoplenomics.com subscribers this weekend. For today, the Dow futures are pointing up 50, but ,with CPI coming that could be a major “buy the rumor – sell the news” event…which would then possibly set up the final manic run into the record books.
A good deal will depend on how foreign markets perform, though….and we’ll update that outlook Wednesday.
January a year ago the reduction in the deficit was $55.163 billion. This January, though the deficit reduction was only $51,257 billion.
To be sure, $344 billion income as opposed to $315.6 billion the previous year is a nice number, but expenses were up more so the deficit came down.
Down in Table 3 you can see $197.23 billion of January income was from individuals while corporations paid only $9.145 billion.
For the whole Federal fiscal year, humans will pay 1.544 TRILLION while corps will pay $298-billion.
Still, we are on track for a much large federal defict – and I’m telling you all these data so when you see stories in the MSM about how “Feds collect record taxes” you won’t jump to the conclusion that a tax cut would be a good thing.
A number of subscribers didn’t like our cold view that says a Trump tax cut would be a bad thing…but the conditions of today (bottom of the long wave interest rate cycle) is about as close to a doppelganger opposite of the Reagan era conditions as you’ll find.
Moreover, economists of the era, I think foolishly – claimed it was trickle down working.
Complete horse crap: Of course you’re going to have growth when the damn personal computers were going mainstream for heaven’s sake. HP, Compaq and all those giants were just in the ramp-up.
Nope…nothing like the seeds of the information revolution in sight so saving tax cuts for when the economy hits a major decline would be much sounder policy.
Yeah, yeah…I know…who gives a rip about “sound policy?” Touché.
Next couple of days will be hectic as hell, though, so relax and sleep in today – or take a nap if you can – because the second half of the week should rock.
Let’s first look at national issues. The biggie is immigration. And you will recall that last week we mapped out a bunch of ways president Trump could react…including re-writing Executive Order 12789.
I suggested that because I don’t think there’s a limit on how many E.O.’s a president can write.
Here’s what our process map looks like this morning – with the light yellow still in the future.
The main reason for bringing this up is to point out something: Since the issue is virtually unchanged from what it was prior to the signing of the first E.O., we can now make out a certain ‘event-flow’’ that is likely.
To be sure, the MSM has done what it can to whip us all into hy6steria about the Arizona woman who was deported, but whether that will be enough to drum up more anti-Trump demonstrators remains to be seen.
One reason to question whether the pending second E.O. will be any more controversial is that the Trump administration is likely to take a very much no-nonsense approach to additional disruptive efforts.
Why, toss in the fact that George Soros money has been tied to a number of the past presidential wannabe’s (including Paul Ryan) and Trump could be seen as having a good bit of leverage.
At the same time, there is growing public awareness of how news organization ownership is arranged around immigration. Disney – which had its flap with foreign workers – owns the ABC network. Similarly, Jeff Bezos of Amazon (2,600 H1b’s) owns the Washington Post.
For now, whether Trump does E.O. #2 should be known this week.
But in the meantime, using a process map makes it possible to see how a story like this one can get into a “looped” configuration.
The second E.O. will likely garner the same protests and hand-wringing as the first E.O. And Trump – with no limits on E.O.’s) could issue one per week and simply swamp the legal system.
While we don’t have any particular attachment to the E.O. process, we are very much in favor of solid, well-patrolled, impervious borders. With adequately staffed border crossings, we’re not at all anti-immigration.
But preference has to be given to those who are citizens now and newcomers should be thoroughly vetted.
But that’s not why I brought this up in the Coping section. It’s to point out this is exactly the kind of real-world “news” situation that understanding of the recipe, process, and flow concepts from our “Millennial’s Missing Manual” project helps to clarify.
Changes to Peoplenomics
Next time you visit our www.peoplenomics.com site, it should automatically flip over to the SSL connection.
The inside content is still served “open” but you can’t get to it unless you go through the secure logon.
Several people had asked for that since Google Chrome (v.56 and later) flagged the site as “not secure” even though the previous logons were.
Ours is not to wonder why…
Tomorrow afternoon, a young man will be coming down from North Dakota to possibly buy our reliable old Beechcraft.
Tough decision, though. If my eyes were still in great shape (20/15) which they were a year ago, it would be a different story. But at 20/30 and the risk of contact dropping out, I figure we’ll sign up for the Trusted Traveler program of whatever it is.
Turns out there are four documents to this: A bill of sale, a Purchase/Sales Agreement, Aircraft Registration form and Application for Airworthiness Certificate.
Elaine gets teary-eyed at the thought of no more airplane. But after nearly six years of traveling around on whims, we’re doing the adult/safe thing with our new visual limits.
The new buyer is less than half my age…\he’ll have a long flying career ahead.
OK, tons of work ahead, this being Monday and all…