This economy is a what?
Updated: Saturday, January 19, 2008 07:55 CST
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Bonfire of the Equities
Like I was saying yesterday morning, except a huge DCB (dead cat bounce, in case you missed Friday's dissertation). And, it was a dandy! Intraday, the market rallied from the previous 12,159.21 close to as high as 12,341.54 - a 181-point lovefest. And reality bit.
Like most dead cats, the bounce was pretty short-lived, and by the end of the session, the Dow was down about 60 points and the phone wires were burning up around here. As far as most folks were able to tell, the $146-billion "economic stimulus" package was a poorly contrived 'same-old' that wasn't going to a) make it through CONgress and b) wouldn't make much difference, even if it did. As one reader wrote in "They think $800 bucks is going to solve the problems of being in debt to the neck in bank cards and on the verge of foreclosure? What are these people on?"
Without going into an answer to that, which would likely land me on someone's hit list, we'll stick to the simple facts of the matter: Tax cuts are about as likely to bail us out as space aliens coming down and handing out Starbucks coupons (which won't happen till later in the year, in any regards.)
So we're left to sort out the economic future from a curious perspective.
One of the phone calls yesterday was from my attorney, who proudly announced "I'm off to visit the 'other' gamblers' this weekend! You know, the honest ones!" This means, being mid 50's and single, he was headed to Lost Wages, NV to bet the payroll at the blackjack tables. About an even bet with equities - maybe even a tad better this week.
Before leaving though, he shared an interesting point: "This may be one of those rare periods when the individual investor really does have a leg up on Big Money. "
Wondering what he meant, I prompted him to continue.
"You see, you and I can do the back-of-the-envelope kinds of calculations on the futility of trying to buck the tide here - but with equities about to crash [even more - G] the Big Money players have to work all weekend burning the midnight oil so they can get together with their 'investment committees' and work out their go-forward strategy. You and I don't have to mess around with that - we can just pull the trigger and that's that."
OK, I got it. What does it mean?
"What it means is that investment committees of some of the big players won't even meet until next week and that means late next week, or the week after, before they will be able to do much of anything in the markets. So you see what I mean? This may be one of those rare moments when small individual players may have a head start over the institutional players in heading to the exits."
The Big Players will no doubt pimp up the markets to sell at higher levels, but I get it.
When they finally do get around to meeting (next week and the week after), the investment committees will have plenty to ponder. Not the least of which is that "Peak-To-Crash" chart that I update every week for Peoplenomics.com subscribers and post around here once in a while.
A few other headlines that will likely weigh:
A couple of other phone calls came in while I was working out the eight orbital parameters of the dead cat bounce in mid session. (If you don't know the 8-elements of orbital calculations, you're a Keplerian dunce and you need to click here).
Just as I was penciling out the right ascension of ascending node (for the dead cat bounce take-off early in the session) the time monks called "This weekend, we've got a bead on what happens to 401-k's this summer in the latest run...may get it posted on Saturday afternoon"
Oh damn, that report won't be good, and it just means more work for me because instead of a nice simple report on how to retool higher education system in America, Peoplenomics will be addressing where to park money while the developing 401-K disaster blows over. Still, nice to know what's coming. Having a time machine is sometimes useful and this may be one of them.
Another call came from some well a connected source that reported that gold, trading in US dollars inside China, is already well over $1,100 (US paper) per ounce and going nowhere but up. Sure enough, the story is getting legs now with headlines coming out of Chinese sources that "Gold Rush grabs Chinese as prices hit new high.
Then someone else called to report that Jim Sinclair was expecting a couple of thousand point drop days in the Dow just ahead. His timing would be coincident with those investment committees getting their act together. Jim's posting last night "The end of a powerful week in finance" is a must-read, but with a caveat.
The caveat is this: You know how some people will turn their head from a horrific accident, while other folks will watch? Well, if you're the kind of person who turns your head and feels a bit squeamish, you might want to skip Sinclair's column. The rest of us (those who would will stare into the cow-catcher of an oncoming train as it arrives ) will just go ahead and read it.
Meantime, elsewhere, God may save the Queen (or not) but He's certainly not doing much for British markets. They dropped below 6,000 as measured by the FTSE.
So, to wrap up before pouring another double spilt shot Americano tall with a shake of chocolate powder and two biscotti's, let's just wrap up with the week with another chorus of "I told you so!" Oh, and this being way-rural East Texas, there's no baristas in sight so I'll get by with watered-down Folgers and a biscuit. But I'll be six bucks ahead and out here that makes more sense than biscotti's. Until those aliens show up with the coupons.
Did I mention Venture capital funding is at a 6-year peak and despite a looming recession? I thought these people were smart. I've been wrong before.
Note from our Houston Bureau:
Say, if that's a cow catcher, then this must be a train wreck, right?
"How Cool is That?" Department
Well, minus 67 Fahrenheit is a might chilly, but that's what's coming to Siberia shortly say the Russians. Where is Global Warming when you need it?
The headline "Britain to target al Qaida-linked web sites" has us wondering how long it took the Brits to figure this out. Wonder if they needed help? Wouldn't that have been obvious, say a week after 9/11?
Language Has Meaning Department
I noticed the phrase "former supermodel" applied to someone today, and wonder if people just wake up ugly some morning to deserve such a label as 'former'...or if hanging out with the president of France has some under-reported medical side effect?
I would have thought a term like 'supermodel' would be more enduring - kind of like great wines can age well sort of thing.
Arizona On Speed
The $1.3 billion Arizona state budget is becoming a salesman dream for those peddlers of photo-radar machines. Turns out that - and a lottery - are among AZ's tools to fix its budget.
The Runs: 4Th Party?
With the Good Doctor still being written off by MainStreamMedia, we notice how without even running NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg's just chatting with Ross Perot's ex-campaign manager makes headlines.
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Coping: Taming Feral Cats
Lots of ideas here:
And about alternative uses for the dishwasher - cleaning up old ham radio gear:
To me, the dirtiest Heathkit is likely cleaner than a Harley (Hibbly Diblitzen), but I suppose that depends to some extent on which club you ride with....
Send snip & save items to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Peoplenomics: George's Latest Trading Map
So many people wrote in over the past week, saying how much they enjoyed the 'mind map' approach to trading, that I decided to put up a little longer view of the map (what my tentative trading plan is through early fall. What I was going to write about -- redefinition of higher education to reflect economies of information delivery -- will have to wait until next week. You should be able to figure out without too much effort, that something's amiss when information is getting cheaper and higher ed keeps costing more, that there's a structural fly in the ointment somewhere; more on that next week, though. For now, let's focus on taking a few bucks from the corporate elite to fund our own personal (r)evolution with a trading mind map...
Send Me Your Tired...
...your poor, your humbled email contacts! Yes, that's right, we need more readers who are interested in little items like preserving the Constitution, fighting usury from banksters, and oh yeah, people who want to shake off the must-consume-at-any-cost hypnotic mindset. Click here to send 'em an invite...
No Incumbents, PLEASE!
To get your "No Incumbents in 2008" click here. They're just $5. And no, that would not keep Ron Paul from running for the White House he is not an incumbent for that office having never held that job before, you see.
Jus' Getting By?
Is up to 1.5 pennies earned, thanks to inflation, taxes and a lot of other considerations unimagined back with the original saying was coined. More ideas in our handy ebook "How to Live on $10,000 a year or less. Yes, still just $10...
Friday January 18, 2008
D.C.B. Friday: Headlines & Reactions
OK, I know, "What is a D.C.B. and why are you taxing my brain at this hour when all I want is to know what the market will do?" It means "Dead Cat Bounce" and describes what I expect after this great stimulus package is unveiled today. Fear on the Street is it will be nothing more than a new collection of old gimmicks. The hope is enough folks will fall for it to postpone the inevitable.
First, let me advise you that if you've been paying the scantest amount of attention around here, worrying about the market should be completely off the table because we're in 'catch the falling knives mode' - and likely will be for most of the year. Or, to put it less subtly, "Catch falling guillotines" is more like it.
If you don't have what you want for retirement paid for and out of harms way (e.g. unencumbered) by now, you may never get there, given how past long waves in the economy have worked out.
My friend Robin Landry up in Shawnee, OK summed it up pretty good yesterday while we were talking about 'next lines in the sand' on Thursday (Low: 12,000 & then 11,500 or on the up side 12,411 then 12,600).
"George, I tell my clients it's like this: Every 16-years or so, you get a good-sized recession. Remember 1990? And then every 60-70 years, you get a depression. And then every couple of hundred years, you get a revolution in investing."
My great, great, grandfather (Andrew Ure) was kicked around by Karl Marx often enough in the 1840's for being an apologist for factory labor exploitation by the British ruling class during the Industrial Revolution, so my family has had plenty of time to reflect on Marx. Watching the antics of the elite is something akin to genetic for me.
One of the few things Marx got right had to do with owning of the means of production. But, not by some proletariat mob, mind you. In a sort of Marx-Ure middle ground, I figure the means of production should be in the hands of 'average folks' who could then put these means to best use, depending on their ambition and sweat.
My suspicion is that if we're going to have any kind of 'revolution' in the financial conduct of folks lives, there's only a couple of ways that things can work out in a Big Picture way:
Either the currency systems will fail, since there is effectively no discipline to the creation of money any more, OR we will accept that as the 'new paradigm' and go on about building an all-digital currency controlled by the same elite/power structure which will just add zeroes while the middle class is pushed closer to indentured servitude.
This neatly explains why all the put up candidates look the same - they all suckle at the same corporate trough. So we get the same old corporate answers, time after time...
There's actually evidence for both outcomes (collapse and digidollars / Ameros) as banks are imposing more restrictions on the withdrawal of cash. $2,.000-$2,500 is a typical threshold for banks to file a suspicious activity report [SAR] with banking regulators) while the banker-promoted bankruptcy 'reform' and banker unwillingness to get out from under 'real estate owned' [REO] has prevented the housing bubble from deflating more quickly to rational levels, while at the same time, screwing people over with usurious 33% (and higher) APR's on credit card debt.
Plenty of grist for a financial revolution in there and reason why the linguistics keep building future imagery of hunting down the bankers in the future to dish out a little consumer/mob justice at the closest light pole..
While Ben Bernanke was busy calling for "quick action" (talking instead of doing, I note), the markets lost their patience yesterday and dropped almost 2 1/2% on the Dow with global echoes that continue this morning. As a result...
Asia is worried that the US may enter a recession. (Geniuses!)
The London market was down. (Extraordinary thinkers!)
And even oil dropped to near $90 a barrel on the expectation that "Gee, if people don't have jobs [or houses] maybe they won't be able to spend so much on energy..." Yah think?
So this morning, I was able to calmly sleep in an extra few minutes, knowing from yesterday's close that a) the market would likely rally today as GW and the PPT announce their 'stimulus' plans.
But the real test will come in the closing hour of the market this afternoon. People who are willing to a) play with paper assets and b) are willing to hold them over a three-day weekend for the Martin Luther King Birthday (*see other market hours) are much braver folks than me.
Or, maybe just a lot more stupid.
The Runs: Roving Reporters
Once puppet master to the CiC, Karl Rove is talking about how the republicorp can prevail over what's-her-name and O'him.
Elsewhere if you care, the silliness continues.
Yes, that ongoing 'low intensity conflict' along the US (pseudo) Border with Mexico continues to heat up. Latest: Mexican forces clash with drug cartel gunmen in Tijuana." bet me the cartel's boyz weren't there for roll & tuck interior work? More like the other kind of tuck & roll...see definition 2.
Wrong Way Chertoff
"Quick, Mr. Secretary. Turn around! Hear that gunfire from down on the California/Mexico border? See those bodies laying about (see previous story if your attention is really lousy today)? Where the hell's our fence, sir?"
With the Canadian buck near parity I'd expect a decrease in Canadian cross border traffic.
Terra Intrudes: Flooding in the UK
yUK (sic)- more rains and flooding shows up. Remember our flood meme?
Well, lookie here: Japanese PM Yasuo Fukuda is forming a Consumer protection agency. The American experience with such things ought to be instructive: Hard on little crimes, soft or non-existent on big ones. Like naked shorting, as a for instance.
The US Comptroller General continues to be about the only one who is telling it like it is in these troubled times - why hasn't the FTC gone after the Federal Reserve for debasing the country's money supply and stealing folks' savings with inflation? The US dollar continues its slow-motion swan song and Nero fiddles down on Pennsylvania Ave.
You'd think the normally astute Japanese would catch on. Or, maybe they are just as Fukuda'd up as we are...or headed there shortly. (I wonder if they use electronic voting machines with no paper trails... Hmmm...)
"Iraq may need military help for years, officials say." Gee, you don't suppose they could pay us with oil do, do you?
The NYSE Euronext is planning to buy the AMEX, which means the resulting market will take all day to type its name. Let me put on my marketing consultant hat: NEA is already taken by the teachers... Nope: They need a new word for it. GLOBEX was good - something like that - maybe the PSM Planetary Stock Market...or, how about a single word that captures the true heart-felt motivations of investors.
Wait...wait...something is coming to me.... yes, yes.....here it comes:
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OK, so you thought the only purpose of a moat was to keep out bad guys, right? Well, here's an incredibly interesting bit of knowledge from a reader (also Texans I might add, which would explain their depth of knowledge on such esoteric arts):
Yeah - I write for broadcast. I tell this to readers who send in complaints about my spelling. I tell them to read it aloud and it usually makes sense. And Mister, you got a smart dog.
send snip & save ideas to email@example.com
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Around the Ranch: Cat Training
A while back, Tom, Tom, the cat outside, passed on to the big mouse field in the sky from his FIP - and knock on wood, his sister Pusscilla has shown no signs and is just healthy as the Dickens.
The other day, this pure black short hair cat showed up on the property, and what an animal! Slinks around looking like a junior jaguar...very feline, slow to the group, crouching/ready to run.
I've been slowly enticing it toward the house and getting it used to humans (like I qualify?) by putting out a little cream (just enough for a taste, not an OD) and some cat food. I can get within about 25-feet of the new cat now.
Here's what I'm looking for: Ideas on how to speed up the process. What's the quickest way to get a semi-feral cat to warm up to humans a bit? Click here to send ideas.
Save the silly ones: Putting out an HD with Disney mouse related content on it 24/7 (Musketeers, Mickey cartons, Ratatouille, etc...). I've thought about spray myself with catnip and approaching from upwind, but this cat has been living on its own in the backwoods of Texas, and I don't want to look too much like lunch.
Pusscilla, meantime, reports spring has come early. She brought a bird to the back deck as her contribution to dinner earlier this week. We politely declined and told her to bring back something a little bigger. Like an Angus.
Last time I saw her, she was sitting on the Cheaper than Dirt catalog. Maybe she thinks I was serious.
Enterprising Son: Rather than ask the National Bank of Dad for help, my son who just had knee surgery is trying to sell off a nicely framed newspaper front page of the moon landing... I told him a $100 starting bid would be more rational, but it's his deal...
On the ham radio front, While Elaine was at the store Thursday (and between consulting chores) I was able to sneak into the house and rip the top rack out of the dishwasher so I could clean the cabinet of the SB-221 linear amplifier I'm rebuilding. I've actually heard of people that put whole radios into the dishwater (less obvious water-susceptible parts like meters and power transformers) and then blast 'em dry with compressed air.
If you have any information on this technique, please pass it along - I've thought about putting a small eBook together on how to restore an antique radio. The tr0oubleshooting part is easy - that's just the electronics. But where to go to find parts, and tricks like the dishwater deal, well, there's an art form that stuff. Even though it's working fine, my old SR-150 may be headed to the dishwasher next. The SB-221 cabinet came out looking almost like new.
No, E wasn't too happy about it, but since she's a ham too (KG4YHV), she took it in stride. Besides, my favorite ham radio saying (and it applies to most things in life) is:
Thursday January 17, 2008
New & Improved Cold War
Russia and Britain and not playing nicely with one another as Cold War II tensions build. Curiously, the Russian take on this is that the Brits are trying to 'colonize' Russia. Maybe if they came out and said Crass Consumption Consumer Commercialism it would be clearer, but you get the idea.
Behind the scene (*with the strings) Western bankers, having hamstrung the rest of us into no disposable income are obviously looking for new people to tie up in debt. Under the guise of "freedom" and "culture exchange" ostensibly.
And then we have growing tensions over Kosovo where Russia is drawing another line in the sand.
But that's not stopping the West - which continues buying up Russian companies, such as the Kellogg's acquisition of a baking group in Russia. The story has a very interesting spin to it which is worth pointing out. "Kellogg Co. said Thursday it purchased Russian biscuit and cereal maker United Bakers Group to help expand its operations."
Sounds are good, holy, and humanitarian, doesn't it. But, lket me ask you - especially if you're a shareholder - do you really think Kellogg is going around doing things to "help [companies in foreign lands] expand operations? Or, are they doing this to make money off the Russian outfit? Seems pretty obvious to me, but you see how when the West does an acquisition it's to "help"?
Not that the Russians are choirboys. We read that a "Japanese official faces charges for selling secrets to Russia." Not anything like how to build a good car, or defense secrets - just political position papers from the sound of it - but it has ticked off the Japanese. Welcome to globalism's answer to market research,
Russian interests are looking for increased influence in pipeline talks, too. This would make the West [ern Europe area] more dependent on Russia to keep the lights on.
One other footnote - with American retailers going through a sucky period, one of Russians largest retailers says says in 20097 were up 38%. No doubt the Kellogg's board sees a bright growth spot and they're willing to 'help expand' it.
So it goes, the corpgov love/hate battles with Russia. Longer terms it's really quite simple: If we can make more money exploiting them (and visa versa) we will have a trade/economic growth outcome. If, however, the defense lobbies in both capitols can make more money (spend more on influence peddling) than trade/investment, then we get a cold war. Or both.
Right now, the defense interests are pushing on both sides, as are the investment types, so it will be interesting over time to see which faction gets traction, so to speak. No doubt the US defense lobby will read something into Syria repaying some of its debt to Russia in Euros. Such fine times in the kingdom of spin. That the US Dollar is dying won't be admitted to in the US MainStreamMedia until March/April, but if you pat attention now, behind the headlines you can see what's coming.
And speaking of liberated lands...
Defense Secretary Gates says there's no plan to send more US Forces to Afghanistan. Write this one down as a promise and let's see if it's not broken really soon. We've heard from multiple sources that a 'surge' like thing is planned there - and the numbers that are being planned are about twice the 'offishul' claims.
The FDA is again warning about the dangers of giving OTC medicines to kids under 2. Except that it would be too much government, you gotta wonder if licensing parenthood isn't such a bad idea.
White House emails may have been 'accidentally erased'. Gee, gosh, we're so shocked.
Astute Local Government Department
Headline: "San Jose mayor says 'spending problem' in $137M deficit". Let me see: A masters from Princeton and a stint at Stanford Law School to figure this out? OK...
All kidding aside, California's fiscal condition will be very difficult to manage even for smart guys like San Jose's Mayor. Reason: Collapsing housing values. My deflationist Pal Jas Jain has been flooding my mailbox with bad news reports about the Golden State housing bust, and I'm seeing headlines about how "SoCal median house price plummets"
Not just there: Home Construction Plunged last year is a headline this morning.
But wait! How can that be? The Labor Department says lots of Constructions Jobs were created in 2007!!! Could it be someone doesn't have their facts right - (A nice way of sasking "Who's lying?").
Damn Time Monks
OK, lots of people were wondering what out predictive linguistic pals (essential a language based time machine, if you will) meant last year when they pointed to Nov 22. Here's an email that should clear something up for skeptics of that prediction:
Yeah, I noted that too, just keep forgetting to mention it. A lot of times with the linguistic reads of the future, you don't see things until they're well past/passed.
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Coping: Feeling Dislocated?
A friend/reader/subscriber in New Mexico reports 2008 is off to a dandy start: Without so much as moving his car, the Post Office has given him a new PO Box, the telephone company has given him a new area code, and FedEx and UPS are both demanding he use a slightly different street address.
In more normal times, he would have actually have had to move somewhere. I don't have the heart to tell him that the physical world is becoming more like DHCP IP address assignments all the time. All you can do is roll with it...
North America Union?
A reader wants to know:
A couple of things to consider here. First, do any of us really have an answer to this (that is, who wouldn't be hunted down by some team of MIB's) if we talked? Likely not.
As to whether it's a plan - yes - a CFR plan at that - which I equate to a rule from the top by the elite type of thing - which would effectively create a North American Super Government (an unelected layer) to rule over the elected (sic) (corporate-bought) layers we have now. So, the CFR has a plan and now we have www.spp.gov. All very cozy. Too cozy for my tastes.
Whenever I see groups like this, I ask "How many members (if any) do that have with household incomes of less than $100K a year?
As best I can reckon, the reason for this attempt to form another layer of governance is 1) there isn't one now, and so we have all these legislators and presidents who have climbed as far up the existing power structure as they can with nowhere else to go - no further mountains to climb. Look at former Fed Boss Sir Alan - joining a hedge fund, for heaven's sake! Nearly a financial Deity (despite building the Housing Bubble) wouldn't an unelected Super Government job be a better place for him?
Besides, there's economic benefit for those in power, which is why the NAFTA/SPP Highways are being built and Mexican trucks are running on American roads.
Being hardy mountain climbers as some of the elites are, what's their next mountain? I mean, except for promoting your wife as the best possible candidate (causing me no end of astonishment) what does an over-achiever do after being President, for instance?
But, what can be done about it? Personally, if a candidate for the
presidency (or any other office) has ever been part of (or member) of the
CFR, I won't vote for them. Simple as that.
But, that doesn't stop the pretenders in Washington from somehow inferring that there are restrictions or limits in the Constitution that just aren't there when the document is simply read.
Some examples are the attempts to limit on handguns - and the attempts to disarm any veteran who has even had the letters PTSD entered in their service record. Never had a shooting in a university by a PTSD vet that I can think of - wasn't it a student on drugs? That's how spin works. You don't have to be very foxy to figure that "spin has been spun" too.
Yes, I'm aghast at all of it, but I also know the limitations of "The Game." Linguistically, we got bigger problems ahead than the Club House Plans. So, I keep a low profile, believe the Universe will serve up just deserts for the power trippers over time, and will reward thrift, self reliance, honesty thinking, meditation, and a pure heart in the end.
Obviously there's a super-government/unelected government group of power trippers that is trying to promote an unelected layer of government.
It's the same layer that takes care of it's own and circumvents the will of the American people even when expressed by and funded by CONgress. Two examples? Sure: Why is bounced World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz offered (and likely taking) a gig at the State Department? Why is DHS (and whoever) unable to build that fence between the US and Mexico. Could Israel give us a few pointers on Border Security?
It's all hard evidence that there really is an informal "club" of the elites - and they take care of their own and they have several club-houses including the CFR, the Bonesmen, Bilders, and so forth, where you and I aren't welcome. We haven't been anointed by the elite that pretend to "lead".
My opt-out solution is to get a little money together on my own, share a little common sense with other Constitutionally literate Americans, pay my taxes, and not worry about the goings on in smoke-filled backrooms in the District of Corruption, or in the valleys of Midtown.
A consulting client asked me just yesterday "If things are as dire as you write, is it worth my efforts to double my business next year?" Why, of course! As long as it's done with an eye toward service (as opposed to a lust for power) and you're working on ways to better serve then hell yes, it's a fine thing to do.
Where capitalism fails is when companies start making conscious decisions to build inferior products in order to profit. And, when those in (or pretending to) power build artificial layers of government that would over-ride (or rule by 'harmonizing') what America does with other countries, we can all blow the whistle and write to our elected representatives. They may feign deafness (for some corporate price) but as long as we can keep paper trails of votes, there's hope.
So I'll just raise my goats, eschew the trappings of power, drive a paid-for 10-year old car, reporting on finance as I see it, and renew my vow to protect and defend the Constitution.
That's something the supporters of the New Layer Nonsense seem incapable of understanding.
If it comes to a vote on a North American Union - well, they better not try to pull off the vote without a paper trail.
Send snip & save / coping thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks
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Wednesday January 16, 2008
Markets: Global Bloodletting
Normally on a morning like this - not a Wednesday, I mean when the CPI numbers are coming out - I would start off with a long diatribe about how packaging has become misleading and wondering if the BLS unit in charge looking at grocery store prices are using unit costs - not just looking at the size of boxes and bags themselves - when they go shopping on our behalf?
Instead, this morning, we need to focus on one itsy-bitsy little problem of even greater importance: The global bloodletting in the financial markets and the coming 'danger of high buildings' to certain people in the financial industries.
The U.S. dollar is up a bit today, and gold was taking a fair beat-down in the pre-open, and to be sure, a serious decline of maybe $50 very short term is possible for gold - and maybe more, but a spring back within a week or two also seems likely. Repatriated dollars are going to bring inflation first, then a mess. With the Dow futures down another hundred points today, we need to consider how global markets are doing.
Everything that traded in Asia overnight was in the red according to the Yahoo Finance chart here. The biggest loser was the Hang Seng, down 5.37%. That'd be like the Dow blowing off 671 points today.
If you were looking for some green in European markets, that'd be a waste, too. These charts are real time, so if you read this column in a few days, no doubt some green will have returned somewhere. The point is that as we pound out recycled electrons today, the blood is flowing from the bourses. Globally.
The time monks report one of the data streams out scouring the web for current linguistic shift analysis came back with a couple of suspicious banker deaths in the European media (may not be translated yet) involving 'insurance'. And a couple of weeks back, a "Second Suspicious Death at Russian Bank" was making a few headlines in Europe, although not the USA.
While we're reading reports how the California housing collapse is continuing, with sales down more than 45-percent compared with year ago figures, it's not just people in the USA who are being squished under the heavy-handed thumb of bankers. Last month a tractor loan drove a farmer in India to suicide. Big headline? No, but the point is the pressure is being turned up on GlobalPop (as in the linguistic modelspace entity) and people are starting to break.
With the futures down another 100-points on the Dow this morning, which if it happens would put us about smack on the third 'line in the sand' I outlined for Peoplenomics subscribers last weekend - John Crudele of the NY Post has been doing a little back of the envelope work earlier in the week. His conclusion: The S&P 500 needed to move up more than 52-points from the Monday close or it will be a crumby year for stocks.
Not enough Wall Streeters read Crudele. Otherwise, the markets might be making a more sincere effort to rally. The open on January 2 of the S&P was 1,467.97 and the close Tuesday was 1,380.95 - so since the Crudele article was laid to bits, the spread is up to 87 points to be made up - and that's before we drop another who-knows-how-many today.
I'll save the really good stuff for subscribers this weekend (and it will depend if we can pull out of what's looking like a nose-dive into the 24th or so) and if you promise not to mess yourself, here's the Peak-To-Crash chart update:
Don't get picky with me on whether this is an A-B-C or 1-2-3 in Elliott terms It could easily turn 1-2-3 (motive) if we take out 10,400 - in which case we take out the 2002 lows and head for a Dow of 4,000. But, for now, let's call it corrective (ABC) and assume that banksters pouring gobs of bail out money on the situation will make the pain go away.
Speaking of bailing, let's have a look at some of our keyword list this morning.
"Infusion" Merrill, Citi, Williams Companies, Legg Mason, Atlas Mining, and the list continues.
"Bail Out" US banks, Citi, Japanese bankers ready to fund, NSW (Australia) power companies, and that list goes on...
I hope you are getting the idea here: What BLS has to say in the CPI report may be interesting, but there's enough bloodletting going on in global markets that at some point we pass the common sense/avalanche condition and events take on a life of their own, although it goes on largely behind the scenes; panic in the boardrooms, that kinda thing.
And our whipping boy for the drop expected at the open this morning is? (May I have the envelope please?) "Stocks Set to Plunge on Intel Shortfall." Of course, Intel is still a great company, it's just the world is past consumer debt saturation and the financial geniuses don't want to get on the same page with the folks who are having homes foreclosed on, cars repo'ed and the rest. Give 'em a daily whipping boy! Intel, you're it! Chinese markets down more than 5%? Hell no, couldn't be that. Bailouts by foreign dollars keeping the US mess afloat, no, couldn't be that.
Must be Intel's fault! Can't be the sleazy banksters and their liar's paper blowing up!
On the ,the rest of the Grimm economic fairytale now, shall we?
Wrong Numbers Department, I
Elaine went shopping yesterday and I was able to carry $150 worth of groceries in one triip up from the car. On one arm.
Now, repeat after me: Fed in a Box: Inflation Worst in 17-years says a headline:
Here's the Gospel According to BLS:
Remember those 3-month rates annualized we talked about with PPI? Well, the three month rate for inflation k- annualized is 5.6% - and the delicious deluded who use "core inflation" will, I'm sure, continue to point to only 2.7% there. Yeah: Starve and Freeze, but cling to the delusions that got us into this mess with our jobs exported to India and China under the guise of "corporate globalism is good for everyone." I got a bridge... We return to the fairytale:
Gosh, I just know folks will feel better about being broke, starved, and cold now!
If you're waiting for bankers to go on trial for creating the housing bubble, and failing to comprehend purchasing power parity when it comes to labor rates globally and impose tariffs to level the playing field so we don't end up with absurdities like 12,000 mile apples and such...you're in for a long wait - about to be made longer by the Fed's next 'gift to the Elite' rate cut. (There, that got my blood pressure and heart rate up...)
Wrong Number Department, II
Still got a job? Count yourself lucky: Nextel to axe several thou? IndyMac targets 2,400. City of Prescott AZ? Tiny, but it makes you wonder about the safety of civil service, huh? Bigger town: New York's financial outlook dims. Much lore in the way of layoffs coming, sayeth the linguists.
The Runs: Romney & Clinton
Mitt Romney won the GOP nod in Michigan Tuesday. Oh and what's-her-name, too, but without a paper trail and audit I'll admit nothing and make counter-accusations.
Speaking of which: When I read headlines like "Clinton Shines in Vegas" I wonder why "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" couldn't be applied to her...
There's a story in the Financial Times headlined "McKinsey warns U.S. may lose financial leadership". Don'tcha think that ship has sailed? We've been cleverly peddling rotten debt disguised as financial instruments like bonds to finance living beyond America's means and the world is in the process of finding us out and now we may get burned by the blow back...
Ghost in the Machine Department
Sounding more like an urban legend than legit news, a headline says "Microsoft seeks patent for office 'spy' software." No, not in any of the [beyond number] patches for Office/Vista. The idea is that wireless sensors could be added by a [Gestapo-like] HR department to monitor worker metabolism and output.
Say, how about skipping that and just putting workers in cages and sending lab rat techs by to draw blood samples and toss in occasional food if we type fast enough?
Want to go one-step beyond Microsoft? How about a patent so buzz peddlers like Starbucks could install a breathalyzer in so if you need an extra shot of caffeine in your morning coffee (ad indicated by trace amount of too much partying the night before), it could be automatically scaled?
Has the world gone nuts? Well, we know the answer to that but does it have to be so damn obvious?
New & Improved Cold War Department
CDC Launching Morgellons Study
I've been keeping you updated periodically on Morgellons Disease, and in the process getting a lot of flack from reality-deniers who don't want to admit that yes, something new could be out and about in the bioviornment. Whether it's a runaway nano-engineering nightmare, alien test bug, or just a morph of something already known (a worm or parasite of some kind) ought to become known down the road as the Centers for Disease Control will be announcing a study of the disease in a tele-conference later today.
OK, Holiday weekend coming up for markets. My commodities outfit sent me this:
They added a long disclaimer which we echo about how the sources are believed to be good, but no liability yada yada yada...
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Coping: Snuggles and Naps
More from a reader on sleeping well:
Well, as Mr. Duvet said, "I'm down with that..."
Addicted to Surplus Stores
I'm not the only8 Seattle-kid who remembers the surplus stores there circa the 1950's to early 1960's:
And some pointers on scrapping:
And then we have this:
Ah...yeah...the musket that eats 7.62 ...LOL
Contributions to our 'snip & save' section should be sent to email@example.com. Make sure what you send is original material that you wrote - other than that, if you find something that gives you comfort, a full belly, or a profit, why not share it?"
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Tuesday January 15, 2008
Soft Pedaling: The PPI Disaster
Another Big Number for the market is out this morning - the Producer Price Index. The way this works is pretty simple. You've got three layers of goods - think of them as a pipeline starting at the raw materials level and then getting closer to the consumer.
The first measurement is 'crude goods'. Depending on commodity, that may be 90-days to as much as a few years out before it shows up, depending on how long manufacturing, transport, and inventory turns go. The next closer to your local store component of the pipe is 'intermediate goods,' And last, but not least, we have finished goods - the closest of all to going home with you.
Now, as you read the report, remember two things. The first is that lots of 'finished goods' go into the manufacturing business. "Finished" electric motors go into washing machines, for example.
The other caveat is be wary of 'core PPI' - that's a myth promoted by economists who don't want to stampede the herd, which around here is bright enough to know that a) inflation is going up much faster than officially reported and 2) one of the ways that's done is by shrinking the amount of product, but not reducing packaging size, as we've reported on over the last week.
So plug your nose, because they may not smell entirely right, but here's the latest 'offishul' word on PPI:
Now, the really shocking stuff is doesn't show up until you look at the "Seasonally adjust annual rate for the 3-months ended December 2007." This is where you find why Gold is going through the roof and the dollar collapsing to within a few pennies of its all time lows. Remember, these are 3-month annualize rates:
Finished Goods: +13.3%
Finished consumer foods +9.4%
Finished energy goods: +51.9%
Intermediate materials supplies & components: +15.0%
Intermediate food & feeds: +19.2%
Intermediate energy goods: +55.3%
Materials for non-durables: +20.3%
Think those are scary? Look at the head of the supply chain!
Crude materials for further processing: +59.6%
Foodstuffs and feedstuffs +19.2%
Crude energy materials +129.5%
Remember this energy number because we'll get to GW's trip in a second. These numbers also explain why I am long commodity call options in wheat and coffee, too, doesn't it?
Tomorrow's Grimm fairytale on the economy will be the Consumer Price Index. Again, there will be plenty of understatement (don't want to spook markets, in the name of 'financial stability' of course, and then there's the never-ending babble about the core rates. When you're talking about that in relation to the CPI, it excludes food and energy. Which would be fine, if we didn't all use energy and eat food.
Looking at the rest of the week, we get Housing Starts on Thursday and then Leading Economic Indicators on Friday, unless you have some animal entrails or tea leaves, in which case you can make up your own LEI way ahead of time with about equally meaningful results.
As of a Sunday interview, Lakshman Achuthan of the Economic Cycle Research Institute was telling CNN (in part) that "I don't think a recession is a done deal year." I'll just note that they're not calling for a recession yet.
Lots of economists subscribe to the idea that a recession is 'x' period of time when the GDP is declining - typically three quarters. Around here, we hold a very much simpler view of things. A recession is when the cost of living is going up faster than income. Standard of living coming down means 'recession' to most families.
Or, if you insist on recessions being dollar denominated, at least count it in either constant dollars or against the market basket of currencies.. Nothing ticks me off more than seeing someone claim that GDP went up (ergo, no recession) while failing to note that the dollar value sank faster, or the standard of living was in decline.
A functional recession is (to use a phrase) "getting behinder" - and we're doing more of that than "economists" (a pseudo-science at best) are willing to admit. Most won't admit printing more money is ultimately inflationary, either.
Ask the folks scrimping by on a 2.3% hike in Social Security or military retirement benefits if we're not already in a recession/decline in the standard of living. Or, ask the million or so homeowners facing foreclosure. But don't ask economists. They focus on things like this morning's data - a month old - then pronounce through their rearview mirror something that is as obvious as sunrise to regular humans. And for this, they expect respect? Please!
It's like saying it's safe to play on the freeway until the semi hits you. Right up to the last split second, the semi may swerve. But as soon as it hits, playing in the freeway is not so safe. The learned economists talk about how they predicted the possible arrival of the semi. I guess I'm not learned, huh?
Around here, though, we listen for semi's way off in the distance and shun odds makers who are out of touch with weekly economic reality. I expect few economists do their own grocery shopping.
GW's Knee Pads
Now, remember that 129.5% 3-month annualized energy price number in PPI? Presumably on bended knee, in Saudi Arabia looking for a little mercy at the wellhead, George Bush hasn't gotten any promises from the Saudis. Still, oil has slipped a bit on thinking he might get cut a little slack. OK, that and during a recession people can't afford as much energy.
My bet: The dollar will tank and real energy costs will zoom skyward. Pretty simple to me.
Oily Oops Department
An oil refinery fire in Iraq is blamed on a coalition helicopter. Charge denied. Of course.
Sir Alan is Back
Speaking of economist, foreclosures, and the like: Rather than be cast out from the financial establishment for setting the foundation of the Housing Bubble and failing to do something meaningful about it which would have cost the bankers some profits, Alan Greenspan reportedly is joining a New York hedge fund. Announcement expected later today.
Other Econ Headlines
Citibank might write down more than $24-billion. 24-thou facing layoffs.
As our predictive linguistics pals noted last summer, about in here the dollar should be collapsing (try to look surprised as you read about it) and by sometime [late march?][ Mainstream is likely to be reporting 'it's not coming back'. Another chorus of "Bennie & the Bets" please...
Brotherly - as in Big Brotherly - plans are afoot to read still more of the private communications of Americans. Oh, but we can trust government, right?
But wait! It gets better - they want to know what you're searching too! Yessir, couple your searches with your new 'thought crimes' bills and you've got instant reeducation candidates!
What happened to, oh, I don't know, Free Speech, the Right to Keep and Bear Arms...the Framers didn't see any reason to limit those, so why the current crop feels they can better the likes of Ben Franklin, George Washington, et al, is very, very presumptuous. Especially through a CONgress which mostly didn't even read what they were passing!
Meantime, Back in Modelspace
OK, here's a UFO report worthy of note. Why note it? In predictive linguistic modelspace, along this spring we're supposed to see UFO's/energies from space making it big. Also a new pogrom, and to be sure, stories in that direction are starting to crop up.
In our "secrets revealed" meme, we have to wonder how many years the Princess Diana story can be milked [by the mainstream media] as a public distraction from today's news?
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Ah, here's a line of thinking which is very appealing to me - let me give you a little personal history. Being the son of a fire fighter, and with my dad having lots of odd times off, we used to go visit various scrap yards around Seattle. Pacific Iron and Metal on 4th South was a good one, but even better was the old Black & Tan yard down west of George Town (the Seattle neighborhood). Best of all: Aircraft Supply & Salvage.
We used to go into those places and wander around for hours. When the ham radio bug bit me (age 13 was when I got my first license) the old surplus and scrap yards often came up with old WW II aircraft radios, including the old ARC-5 series so popular for conversion to ham use. Washington Liquidators on Airport Way had the widest selection for a time.
So, when I got this email, I decided that one of these mornings we would have to go 'scrapping". A woman in Georgia writes:
OK, so scrapping may be in our future. Here's a really good report from another reader:
The local scrap yard here in East Texas a has been a really great source of material for my shop, too. I recently needed some 4" (or better) diameter aluminum to turn for a project and found an ideal piece for $3 and change. I could have ordered it online, but with shipping, it would have been north of $15. Similarly, I picked up a 20 pound hunk of copper rod (1.5" diameter, about a foot long) for $10. I don't care how good you are, you're not going to find that online unless it's under the 'free material' section of www.craigslist.org - another dandy spot to go looking for low cost material for projects.
Send your coping/snip & save contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Around the Ranch: Goats
Elaine and I took a break from chores and work around here to go over next door and help the neighbors with a goat going through breach birth. One kid made it, the other didn't. Day in the life out here.
Monday January 14, 2008
Called $911: Super Cut Coming?
In case you're fighting the weekend stupor (more coffee?) the economic system is in full-blown collapse around us today and the price of gold in the spot market has moved more than $11 up in the early going. Now, why do you suppose it would do that?
Here's an interesting notion: What6 would happen (or be the market's reaction) to the Fed coming out with an unexpectedly large rate cut in advance of their planned announcement on January 30th at the FOMC meeting? The guys from www.halfpasthuman.com, who come out with those remarkable predictive linguistics reports chatted with me over the weekend and there is some language building that supports the possibility that the central bankers may try a one-time, give it all they can shot to stem what looks like a building out-going tide of investment.
I may not be the only one thinking this. If we it were to happen, it could mean additional serious weakness for the US Dollar because we'd be paying a lot less on our paper debt than other countries. But, the 'box canyon' I've described for several months now goes something like this:
OK, how big would a Super Cut have to be?
If it were 75-basis points (3/4%) if would maybe have the desired impact, but if you're trying to jump start a sick economy, would you stop there? Nope. I'd argue that there's plenty of reason for the Fed to haul out the major blasting powder to kick start things with a 100-basis point (full 1%) drop - and depending on how the market action goes early this week, maybe even announce it after the next 200-point decline day.
So if we see a 3/4 or even a full one percent "surprise" drop in rates this week (or next) don't be surprised. Just turn, quietly nod your head to the silicon forest south of Seattle from whence our linguistic boys launch spiders (like search engines do) into cyberspace, and then look for language that seems to foretell the future. If it pops over $1,500 by month end, nod twice.
This is not a complete 'slam dunk' but it's something to be increasingly considered, every time the Dow gets closer to breaking 12,518...
OK, so IF the Fed were to drop the discount rate more than the expected 50-basis points, and the dollar then drop proportionately (or more so), what would be the next "unsurprising" headline to be ready for?
It could be the price of oil rising over $100 per barrel. But, it may not comes too quickly, depending on how its thought the recessions (turning Depression) will work out.
It's been long enough since grad school that working out countervailing trends with massive multivariate studies is just not my cup on tea on Monday. (More like a double shot Americano tall to even grasp those words at this hour.) Still, I can line up some of the variables for you - and if you have nothing to do at the office today, send along your spread of the solution and I will be pleased to post it. Here's the data:
Just run that model out for Fed cuts of a half, three-quarters, and a full point, and have it on my desk by 6 AM tomorrow so I can share it on here....Oh! Make sure you highlight the va5riable inputs so we can tweak model weightings between the variables so we can play wild 'what if' games, OK?
The Runs: The Shut Out Continues
I read the Forbes report "Post-New Hampshire, Campaigns Heat Up": and couldn't find a mention of the good doctor. Didn't seem to be any mention of Ron Paul over at what I've ,taken to calling "The Daily Hillary", either. Not in the CNN story I glanced at. Not in this ABC story. Or this one in the LA Times. Or this one in the Boston Globe. Or, this one in the Wall Street Journal. Or this one in the Washington Post. Or this one in USA Today.
With losers like Rudy Giuliani getting religion is somehow "news", I'd argue that this lack of attention to a genuine Constitutionalist by corpmedia blackout of Ron Paul couldn't be more obvious, could it?
America, once a democratic Republic is now happily steered by a band of pretenders selling a corporate duopoly that doesn't want change any faster than the Powers That Be can profit from it.
All the Queens were in NY Harbor this weekend. Well, except for the one stuck to the dock in Long Beach, of course. Three of a kind is almost as good as four of a kind, I guess... I prefer the sub next door to the QM, thanks.
Perpetual War Department
GW is out drumming up "Unity against Iran." Apparently, we're not going bankrupt fast enough with the wars we've already got going.
Ever notice how it's OK for the United Arab Emirates to go nuclear? Quick! Spot the double-standard! Sell us oil and you can have nukes, maybe? Oh yeah, the UAE sells oil for dollars not Euros, lat time I looked. Bail out our banking mess and you can name your technology!
Perpetual War, II
MARV'ed and MIRV'ed and topped off with counter-measures galore, the Russians continue to deploy their new Topol -M ICBM's. They figure to have 50 (or more) deployed by the end of this year.
Help me understand why a massive ICBM program is more dangerous than Iran? One might be a single-city threat in 5-years. One is a 100-city threat 20-minutes flight time away right frigging now!
OK, so I lived on my sailboat for 10-years or so, and I think I understand sailing and such pretty well. You tell me: Why do fishermen call it the 'fishing grounds' when there's no 'ground' around anywhere?
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Coping: Hiding Inflation
In case you missed it this weekend, a sharp-eyed reader wrote in that he's noticed that instead of raising prices, a lot of consumer products companies are just reducing the amount of product in their bags or boxes. He used the examples of charcoal, where a 20 or 10 pound bag is now an 18 or 9-pound bag. There is the crime in the cereal aisle, too with boxes the same physical size, but holding a couple of ounces less. And, I noticed on a few boxes in the pantry here, that the phrase "contents may have settled during shipping" seems more prominent.
All of which might be one reason why people are being short-changed on inflation adjustments, especially the retired military and folks on Social Security who need every adjusted dime they can get. (I will spare you a further rant on this, seeing as we've been down that road often enough...)
But now comes a confirmatory note:
So, if you have been wondering "Gee, how have the Powers That Be been screwing me?" Here's at least part of the answer.
If you think people are less friendly now than they used to be, you're not along. A California reader sends this:
Well, I have really bad news for you. The country is falling apart at the center - and we're being cleaved (or cleaving ourselves) into two camps of folks. Those who see what is going on and those who are blinded to any subtle changes in their environment and as those become more pronounced, they take on a role of active denial.
In the process, they become more and more stressed. I expect that what you're seeing in a lot more 'fear and loathing' out there.
I don't know if you caught it last week, but there was a very odd story reported to me by a reader who (alleged) that CBS/Katie Courec did a story on how the developing recession was causing people to change their lifestyles.
Reportedly, it focused on a California family that had really pulled in the belt: Down to one Mercedes, and for the first time in memory, their kids were out of private school and going to (gulp!) public school. Struggling to make the payments on their million dollar + home.
Now, to see my friend's point in relaying this story to me, you need to do a little background reading on agitprop.
He raised an interesting question: Was this some kind of white agitprop, or could it be black agitprop? The difference being that white agitprop is 'good' while black is 'bad' in a military/counter-insurgency sense. And, if it was agitprop, who gains?
Was this something to in a subtle way condition people not to be overly sympathetic to California families that lose their homes and cars?
I don't know - but it's an interesting question with three possible answers: white agitprop, black agitprop (to lynch banksters later, if you will) or just how in chaotic times editors and reporters work. And a million dollar home in California is about a $300,000 home in more rural parts of Ohio.
Seems to me the odds of this just being news in a chaotic setting are highest, but I can see how an agitprop read could be made.
Send ideas you have on coping (ways to get along, live better) to email@example.com
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Around The Ranch: Movies and Zener Diodes
Two lessons in rural life from Sunday worth sharing.
The first is that when you go to the theater in a small town to catch a movie (National Treasure, Book of Secrets) if you go on a Sunday night when there's school the next day, the crowds are not...well...there are not crowds. In the theater with us last night were five people in the very back row and three in front of us. Sit wherever you want for best surround and sight lines.
The second learning moment was after I picked up a used Heathkit SB-221 linear amplifier for my ham radio hobby, to discover that there's no way to find a 1N3996A Zener diode in rural Texas on the weekend. I know it just slipped your mind that a 1N3669A is a 5.1 volt 10 watt Zener used in the bias circuit of this linear, right? I considered cobbling up 10 1Watt units from Radio Shack, but that would be a kluge....
In a month or so, once the mail order parts come in, I should be able to show off a completely rebuilt 2 KW SSB linear being retooled with a new black front panel (from W0AKG) and all the mods from Harbach Electronics that I'll be putting in.
I promised Elaine that I would unload some of my equipment, so if you're looking for ham gear, especially the older tube-type (EMP resistant) type, send me a note and I will send out the list of what I'm selling off when I get it together. Click here to Put Me On Ham Gear List
An explanation of this chart
Once upon a time, a long while ago, I observed during my quest for 'truth' in economics, that the powers That Be, the talking heads on the teeve, and the other information sources that actively engage in the programming of humans not to think, had conveniently swept several trillions of dollars that disappeared in the Internet Bubble's bursting (since spring 2000) under the rug. Surely, it wasn't unnoticed by the thousands of people who called brokers and said "Where is my money?" "Gone, but hang in there as you're a long term investor!" was about all they heard back.
But, the truth of the matter is that this chart shows what your account would look like if you have taken a few thousand dollars and invested equal amounts in the Dow, the S&P 500, and the NASDAQ Composite in the waning days of 1999. It's not a very pretty picture, and it sort of gives away the other side of the story. You know, the one that no one has an interest in telling, because it's a truth which shows the amazing coincidence of the timing of 9/11, the disappearance of naked shorting evidence and all, along with the impact of The Wars which have managed to keep the economy out of an earlier depression than the one expected by me by late 2008.
No, it's not a perfect replay of 1929, but history doesn't repeat exactly, it only rhymes. So think of this as the rhymes and the crimes chart:
Write when you get rich,
George Ure, The People's Economist
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