Crash Dancin’: Retail Fails

My consigliere called Monday to point out that Art Cashin on CNBC had noted that the last time we had this many Hindenberg Omen’s we had the 2008/2009 financial mess.  “Aw shucks, I think we have a while to run yet…after all, auto sales have been strong and this oughta take a bit more time to roll over….” I explained, having just taken a gram of optimism pills.

This morning, the happy pills have worn off and we have a less than thrilling Retail Sales report just out a few minutes ago:

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for July, adjusted for seasonal
variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $424.5 billion, an increase of 0.2 percent (±0.5%)* from the
previous month, and 5.4 percent (±0.7%) above July 2012. Total sales for the May through July 2013 period were up 5.2 percent (±0.5%) from
the same period a year ago. The May to June 2013 percent change was revised from +0.4 percent (±0.5%)* to +0.6 percent (±0.2%).

Retail trade sales were up 0.1 percent (±0.5%)* from June 2013 and 5.6 percent (±0.7%) above last year. Auto and other motor vehicle dealers
were up 13.3 percent (±2.1%) from July 2012 and nonstore retailers were up 8.8 percent (±2.1%) from last year.

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Are the good times in auto sales ending?  Sure looks that way.  Consumer super-saturation we call it around here.  Eventually everyone buys the last new car anyone can afford or the last possible iPhone…

Where we are now is simple:  Waiting for the other shoe to drop.  While some are suggesting around November 1st (like Steve Quayle and the Guerrilla Economist) its as good a crash date as any, although it could come a month before, or next spring.  In the meantime, the market should open up a bit this morning, but the premarket optimism was halved by retail’s fail.

In the Big Picture, we should see a modest decline begin shortly, and its then that many will be tempted to toss money into short positions.  Inevitably, this will be followed by a “running of the shorts” and it’s right there (with blood running in the streets) that Ure’s truly will enter the short side in a meaningful way…along with the commercials, of course.  It may not play out exactly this way, however, so constant vigilance and a good supply of tea leave to read is important.  We have our libretto and the tea has been ordered.

Ignoring implications from the effects of tax changes, I built you an infographic that explains why you feel like you have been working harder for little or no gain…

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Meantime, real prices have continued up, and that’s why the old joke “The harder I work, the behinder I get!” is no longer an old joke.  It’s present-day reality.

Obamacare: It Just Got Worse

Breaking story in Forbes this morning reveals another bait and switch in Obamacare (my words, not theirs):  The promised out of pocket caps have been delayed for a year until 2015.  I’ve given up counting backpedals on this stuff…

The one thing that surprised me was that the story was written by Forbes contributor Avik Roy.  I would have expected a different reporter like, oh,   Ben Dover.

The Hot/Emotional LBGT Story du Jour

Rather than have a bunch of people figuring out that their lifestyle is going to decline, since prices have been going up faster than GDP growth in real terms since 2007 by my scrawlings, we instead are being flooded with hot-emo stories about how California has now strengthened the state’s treatment of transgender K-12 students in public schools, signed by Calgov Jerry Brown.  Depending on which side of gay rights you’re on, this is either a good thing or one of the dumbest, most insane things ever to come down the pike. 

So here’s what the bill actually says:

An act to amend Section 221.5 of the Education Code, relating to pupil rights.

[ Approved by Governor August 12, 2013. Filed Secretary of State August 12, 2013. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 1266, Ammiano. Pupil rights: sex-segregated school programs and activities.

Existing law prohibits public schools from discriminating on the basis of specified characteristics, including gender, gender identity, and gender expression, and specifies various statements of legislative intent and the policies of the state in that regard. Existing law requires that participation in a particular physical education activity or sport, if required of pupils of one sex, be available to pupils of each sex.

This bill would require that a pupil be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.

Digest Key

Vote: MAJORITY Appropriation: NO Fiscal Committee: NO Local Program: NO


Bill Text

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

SECTION 1.

Section 221.5 of the Education Code is amended to read:

221.5.

(a) It is the policy of the state that elementary and secondary school classes and courses, including nonacademic and elective classes and courses, be conducted, without regard to the sex of the pupil enrolled in these classes and courses.

(b) A school district may not prohibit a pupil from enrolling in any class or course on the basis of the sex of the pupil, except a class subject to Chapter 5.6 (commencing with Section 51930) of Part 28 of Division 4 of Title 2.

(c) A school district may not require a pupil of one sex to enroll in a particular class or course, unless the same class or course is also required of a pupil of the opposite sex.

(d) A school counselor, teacher, instructor, administrator, or aide may not, on the basis of the sex of a pupil, offer vocational or school program guidance to a pupil of one sex that is different from that offered to a pupil of the opposite sex or, in counseling a pupil, differentiate career, vocational, or higher education opportunities on the basis of the sex of the pupil counseled. Any school personnel acting in a career counseling or course selection capacity to a pupil shall affirmatively explore with the pupil the possibility of careers, or courses leading to careers, that are nontraditional for that pupil’s sex. The parents or legal guardian of the pupil shall be notified in a general manner at least once in the manner prescribed by Section 48980, in advance of career counseling and course selection commencing with course selection for grade 7 so that they may participate in the counseling sessions and decisions.

(e) Participation in a particular physical education activity or sport, if required of pupils of one sex, shall be available to pupils of each sex.

(f) A pupil shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.

Genius!  Engineered in California!  The next move in this will likely be a court challenge, but it is what it is… and I reckon a good part of what it is ….is a distraction

In the News Editor’s Battle for corporate ad revenues this morning we have Bo the Dog, California Bathroom kids, Obamascare and Retail Fails….what a fun morning to be a reader, huh?  Oops did I forget to mention White Bulger’s conviction?  Tisk, Tisk…

Real news (like why is the Ft. Hood shooter trial so slow?) is being pushed to the background.  But that’s to be expected since we’re living through what CounterPunch calls “America’s Descent into Madness.”  Yah think?

More after this…

   

You Tax Dollars at Work

Judicial Watch has long been a good source of theater for those with the stomach to look at some of the items they uncover.  Like this gem about how US tax money, $1.5-million worth, is being spent to help women in Brazil quite smoking.

Why Leave?

A report in the Wall St. Journal online editions notes that American expatriates are renouncing citizenship in record numbers, drive in part by recent changes to US tax law.  As in everything there are two sides to this.  On the one, government officials figure there could be up to $100-billion per year stashed offshore as citizens avoid taxes.

Of course, anyone with a dime-store-sized brain can figure part of the reason is that the US tax code does not take into account how government waters down its currency, such that when honest gains are made in long term investments, say 10-years worth, there’s no adjustment for inflation.  Yet even a fool can see that $100 ten years ago would buy more than the same (face value) today.

But let’s suppose for a minute that the tax code was somehow made more honest on this office theft through currency debasement  (no worries, it won’t be changed).  Why else would American’s renounce their citizenship in record numbers, about 4,000 a year lately?

My friend Bruce down in Ecuador figures corruption in the US is not only bad, but increasing.  Many of the notes he sends me include phrases like “They do this kind of thing because they like to…”  and, in one case, the Cleveland, Ohio run amuck police high speed chase which resulted 10-days ago in 74 police officers being disciplined, often have the ‘ring of truth’ to them.

To his way of thinking, if you stay in the US you’re encouraging that kind of behavior, the moral equivalent to remaining in, and supporting, Germany in pre-War days.

I don’t think so…or I wouldn’t be here.  Instead, I believe there is still positive change in our future but the only way we’ll get there is via the ballot box.  And to have skin in that game, you can’t renounce citizenship.

High Integrity Dept.  Lavabit

Although we hate to see them go, Dallas-based Lavabit has posted a farewell for users of its high security services for emails and such.  Owner/Operator Ladar Levinson writing on the company website in part:

I feel you deserve to know what’s going on–the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.

What’s going to happen now? We’ve already started preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company.

What’s even scarier is his comment “…I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States….”

Lavabit has set up a legal defense fund and you can make donations via the link at the bottom of the company website which goes right to PayPal.

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