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Fish & Chips & The Rationing Memes
(Glad I'm not getting up and doing these Saturday updates, ;-o)
With just about a week to go before we get to the "twin
earthquakes" of mid December that are supposed to leave at least
one of the two areas involved with isolation and substantial
damage, we are also continuing to monitor the other memes that
have been in recent
www.halfpasthuman.com ALTA reports.
One that I find fascinating is the whole concept of
rationing/shortages of this or that. And it's a mixed bag
of news. Some sample first that may be 'food' news:
Speaking of India, here's some fine spinning for you: "Excess
nitrates in water could benefit crops" says a headline in
The Hindu. Key part: "When you get more than 10 parts per
million (ppm), it exceeds the... limit," Sij said. "Our water
(at Chillicothe) is around 20 parts per million, so we don't
give it to the babies, but adults can drink it"
Don't mention to these research types that there's some pretty
good work in studies of the ocean dead zone off Scandinavia that
suggests that excess nitrates are feeding the growing number and
size of ocean dead zones in general. And to stay up on
this one, you do did catch last month's report that "Tropical
ocean dead zones could increase 50 percent by 2050"?
Close as I can figure, I'm part of the last generation that will
be able to order fish & chips any time during lifetime.
Youngest of our kids is 28 now, so assuming the methane hydrates
don't off them and that there's enough O2 to breathe, a life
expectancy of 90 would put them well past the 'last order of
fish & chips" date.
Not to run this connectedness of everything into the ground at
this ungodly hour, but you did catch in the Alaska Journal of
Commerce the headline that "Halibut
Industry braces for more limits on their catch"?
quotas will push Atlantic tuna closer to collapse",
campaigners warn". And as the flounder fishing flounders,
not to worry:
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is dumping
streetcar wrecks into the ocean and they seem to foster flounder.
What missing? Perhaps they should be dumping that
streetcar named "desire" - or the one next to it, the 'streetcar
Back on point, we have plenty of headlines that may be listed as
bad if you're a pessimist, 'opportunity' if you're an optimist,
or a "trading opportunity" if you're stuck in the 'paper means
Not all news of 'shortages' should send you scrambling to pour
yourself a Bloody Mary for breakfast. "No
shortage of morons in the sports world" reports the Toronto
There, see? Life is not a train wreck - it's a blender!
And speaking of which, didn't I tell you no need to slam down a
bloody Mary? Instead, might I suggest
a Bloody Caesar is a much better choice?
BTW, this being Saturday and all, IF you opt for the Bloody
Caesar for breakfast, make sure your significant other has one
"Why's zat?" Aha! One of the best ways to ensure
marital harmony I've discovered (write this one down) is my
theory of "matching food, matching breath."
Here's my theory: Food breaks down similarly in people of
all sorts. Organic chemistry works pretty much the same,
most places on earth, right? So, if you want to have
nearly the same breath as your partner, what do you do?
Eat the same exact foods and drink the same exact fluids in
similar ratios. In almost no time at all, you and your
partner will start to 'synch up' and any breath issues
On the other hand, if you have a Bloody Caesar for
breakfast, along with something equally yummy (fired red
potatoes with fresh onions, and some hot links just fer
instance) and you 'other' has just a piece of toast, guess
who's going to be accuse of 'bad breath' for a good chunk of the
No extra charge for this relationship-saving advice. Just
remember: MFMB - matching food = matching breath
and everything's cool, 'K?
Now that I've saved you the million you would have lost in a
divorce, be sure to subscribe to Peoplenomics.com, LOL.
And enjoy those soccer games...their importance grows as you
Let me see: What could make the Dow pop up 259 points on
Friday? Was it:
Looks to me like the 'strong hands' will run 'er up to 9,200 or
more, sucker in some 'weak hands' and then let gravity take over
to clean the clock of 'average' investors yet again. Bet
Me too. Things are looking stranger than strange here on the
gold front. First, one of my buddies is trying to take
delivery on some 'mini' contracts and seems like he's being
stonewalled by the exchange (more on this if he doesn't get his
gold). And, I hear that delivery requests are way up
But, now check this out: The 'spot price" reported by
Kitco when I last looked was $754.30 and
is showing $754.65.
look what Kitco is paying to buy a .9999 fine Canadian
Maple Leaf one ounce gold coin: $769.39 and a one ounce
Doesn't it strike anyone besides me that both the buy and
sell prices are on the high side of spot? Seems to me like
the paper gold versus real gold market is in chaos if I
read this correctly. Whenever I have looked in the past,
I've seen what I'd consider a 'normal' situation where the buy
side was a bit lower than spot. But not at the moment.
Go figure...might mean something. I'm
not the only one to notice things are strange in the gold
With the 'window' for our 'twin quakes' with massive impacts due
Dec 10 to 15th (roughly) we can't help but
notice the 5.1 shaker in southern California last night.
I figure maybe next weekend we will have our first BIG one.
Belted in? Things nailed down?
"Hi George, Cliff!
Warm-up for the big ones in 5-10
days? Could be. Just felt a 5.5 Mag quake located at 34
degrees 49 minutes latitude. 8:20 PM Pacific time. I'm here
in Van Nuys, in the San Fernando Valley, about 120 miles
southwest of the epicenter which was between Barstow &
Ludlow in the mountains on the road to Vegas. A 5.5 on the
5th of December. And well within your latitude range.
Funny how this morning I wrote
to a friend up north about your site and mentioned that down
here, it's "shake'n'bake" country. Well I told him we had
enough baking with all the fires and that it was time for a
shake, and I mentioned your upcoming twin quake window.
[name withheld] Van Nuys,
PS Actually, we had a much
bigger rumble last Sunday. It was the sonic boom from the
Space Shuttle which had to land out here at Edwards AFB. I
thought a huge tree limb had fallen on our roof. (actually
Ba-Boom! Two thunps, one for the front and the other for the
rear of the craft) Well, then I guess we qualify now for
"shake, rattle and roll." Got the shake and rattle, so the
roll might be the twin quakes a comin' down the pike.
Please return your seat backs and tray tables to their upright
and locked positions....
While plenty of us farmers/.ranchers here in East Texas are
about fed-up with the absurdity of EPA proposing a tax on
methane from farm animals (See: "Proposed
fee on smell cows, hogs, angers farmers"), it underscores
the inadequacy of EPA's research: There's far more
bullshit in Washington than all of the Heartland's farms and
ranches combined so if there's a place to limit pollution of
almost all sorts, seems to me the logical place to start is
England border protection chief charged with hiring illegal
immigrants" reports the Boston Globe.
From "News" to
The Denver Post is reporting today ("Ad
losses send industry into a tailspin") that more than 30
daily newspapers are for sale across the US.
Don't know if anyone ever laid this out for you, real simple
like, but in the "news" businesses, the name of the game is
immediacy. So, if you want to map out which media is
ascendant and which is descendant, all you need to do is look at
one metric: Time to reach how big an audience.
Before the Communications Act set up radio stations in a
formalized way (circa the last Depression) newspaper was all
there was. Folks like Hearst got to build castles, so
great were the profits. But then came radio, and later on,
But even these are facing increased competition from new media.
A Google news alert will text you a message about something long
before you see it on television because few folks are watching
TV while driving. But if you get beeped? Oh hell yes
you'll look at the texting.
So here's the newspaper bottom line: Instead of using
recycled electrons, the newspaper business cuts down trees,
writes just enough content to suck in tons of ad dollars, and
they somehow think that game can continue forever unchallenged.
Hah! Get real!
And, instead of doing important "contexting" (like we try to
provide to some degree on this site - placing items into an
economic/sustainable living kind of context, ancient media has
responded by loading up on loser-contexts like the
right/left columnists who represent the 'same old way of running
When ad sales fall, because who needs useless volumes about
political this, or that, delivered typically 24-36-hours after a
text message from Google, the newspaper industry is somehow
'surprised.' Welcome to the "Duh" Department.
Frankly, I expect that a newspaper that fills a thought
leadership role and does contexting in a way meaningful to its
market can still do very, very well. But most papers?
More like recent history books, mostly. And run by folks
that still cut down trees in order to transport ideas around.
Silly, isn't it? All these 'bright" journalists out there
killing trees and persisting in the right/left -
conservative/liberal paradigm. Yesterfolk pimping
yesternews about the yesterdigm when they could have been
Let's watch 'em line up behind the WWW2 movement in order to
'steal back' a niche, LOL.
Speaking of history: "In
tapes, LBJ accuses Nixon of treason: Johnson thought meddling
derailed planned Vietnam peace talks on eve of 1968 election,
according to final recordings made public."
How shocking? Imagine a republicorp subverting peace talks
to win an election. My, how times don't change, eh?
---snip and save section ---
Those Missing Tax
Ah - the emails keep pouring in over the question of why so many
people haven't gotten their tax bills from their local counties
in a timely manner this year. Here are a few more data
points to add to our growing collection:
"Hi George, Thank you for reporting on the land tax issues
throughout the country. I thought I was the only one with
this issue, now after talking with my neighbors and reading
your report with the info from other folks around the
country, I am really wondering if there is some sort of a
weird goverment thing going on. We recently had our taxes
hiked up by a weird amount, after the assessor made a visit
to our property this summer, their explaination for the
massive tax increase so far is being questioned by us. I
cannot understand what is going on, but I just can't believe
that it is not a "planned" tax scam by the county/ and fed
goverment to raise taxes somehow. I agree with you about the
the stimulus check being a scam too. My turbo tax does the
same thing when I input the numbers. Take Care and stay
warm, your friend in NE."
No Knock Food
Here's an interesting story to read out of Ohio that may curl
How's this one:
Love reading your site. Keep up the great work. To further
support your emphasis on rescue/bailout: interesting how
this headline calls for the banksters a "rescue"...http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/05/AR2008120502533_pf.html
and this one for the automakers a "bailout"...http://apnews.myway.com/article/20081205/D94SGFO80.html
wall street vs main street Unbelievable how the banksters
got a total pass from congress and billions thrown at them
without question, and how the big 3 are totally grilled and
must come up with so much before a dime is passed on to
them. ( of course, I think neither should receive my tax
dollars) Bloodless coup has taken place in DC"
Nice someone else has noticed...
From a reader in Baghdad:
"George: Things in the states are harsh.. no doubt, but I’ve
given you good intel from Kuwait (vis-à-vis the labor riots)
and now I’ve gone back to Baghdad. Things here are actually
looking up. Currently, gas and all fuels are running at 83
cents a gallon US, and the investments of other Middle
Eastern countries is phenomenal. Kuwait not too long ago
bought out IRAQNA, the Iraqi cell phone company and is now
ZAIN-IRAQNA (ZAIN being one of the biggest conglomerates of
Mid-East Cell Phone Providers.) There are 3 total companies
for cell phone service as opposed to the one we had back in
04-05 when I was here before. The insurgents are DONE. The
locals biggest fear is that we will leave too soon (per our
new Overlord…er Presidents call,) and that they know our
staying means stability and money. ‘Fake’ dollars or nor,
between the surge and our spending cash to stimulate the
local economy, (thusly encouraging growth) Iraq is on the
fast track to become an economic powerhouse in the next ten
years. The Kuwaitis wouldn’t be investing here unless they
knew things were going to be good in the long term, and I’d
have to say that going from ‘broken and destitute’ might
have been what this place needed… maybe we can take a note
from this? Who knows…"
Might want to add this website to your resume list:
I read you
religiously every day. I’m not an investor (don’t have
enough money) but was able to get my 401 dollars out of
stocks and kept it intact.
I think that
at this time in history, we need to make an effort to
promote positive thinking. Your column almost gloats over
the bad news and I feel like you take perverse pleasure in
“being right”. It’s easy to feel smug and be happy at the
current state of events when you’ve made the proper
preparations. I think you should be proud that you saw this
coming and also in how you’ve helped those of us with less
financial savvy in saving what little we do have.
think that you also need to take time to promote positive
thinking and help those of us who aren’t hurting to help
those less fortunate. One way I am doing this this year is
to decorate my house with lights, have little holiday
parties, cook for those less fortunate, give to food banks,
pray for those who are hurting and pray for light to finally
enter the hearts of those in this Country during this
difficult time. Maybe save a small section of your article
for some positive news in light of all the doom. I worry
that by being a doomsday advocate, we are feeding into this
dark period instead of lifting people up during this time.
thought. Merry Christmas to you and your family."
I really do try to remain positive about things - which is why
the new focus on 'bogslife' Not being smug, though.
Don't want to come across that way. I try to walk the fine
line between smug on the one hand and downright depressed about
the lack or ability to change a slow motion train wreck in
process. And Merry Christmas, to you, too...we're sending
checks to the local food bank...
Send snip and save items to
--- end snip and save section ---
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Fasten Your Seat
Belt: Quake, Famine, and Anarchy
Most weeks, Peoplenomics will try to get
into a single topic, sniff around a bit, and see if there's any
'logical' (such as humans pretend) outcome to be deduced from a pile
of available facts. But, this week's report is more akin to
stepping into an emergency services dispatch center: There are
so many 'if-then' possibilities about that it nearly boggles the
mind. Even when filtered down to some of the major areas
coming from the predictive linguistics, it all looks more like 'news
stew' firing off for the month of December and balance of winter.
While we won't be extending the 10/Codes/MIR system ("We have a
10-482, all units be on the lookout for the earthquakes from 32-36
degrees December 10-15th...") we will see if we can get set some
reasonable expectations about what seems ready to jump us from the
dark alley called December.
"Live on $10,000"
What? You haven't ordered the ebook "How to Live on
$10,000 a year -- or less"? Suit yourself. We're all
going to live it shortly, anyway. I just thought you might
like a heads up by reading about how to do it before you get
pink-slipped. But, suit yourself OR visit
www.liveontenthousand.com or, click one of the following
Yep - still possible.
I also took a bit of additional material that was pertinent from
recent issues of Peoplenomics and included them. The whole
thing runs about 65 pages, but it gives you a vision of how to
not only live on the aforementioned dollar amount, but also how
to migrate up the economic foodchain if you make a little more
than that and do some active savings...
Click here for the page with more details on it.
Last week's report is here. For
back issues of this site, click here. (Goes back to
Friday December 5, 2008
& Where's Them Jobs?
Stirring the economic cauldron as we do, there is plenty of
grist for the mill this morning, so rather than focus on
just one aspect of things, we'll apply a leaf blower to the
headlines this morning.
First up is word that the "Golden State" ain't really so
golden. Seems that "California
may pay vendors with IOU's for Second Time Since Depression."
OMG - there's that damn "D" word again. However, if you're
still in "D" nial, how about
the CNBC closing bell comments on CNBC last night.
"You've got a (whispered) Depression"
Yup - a guest on CNBC saying pretty much what we've held around
here - the market on an inflation-adjusted basis peaked in Q1
2000 and has been sliding ever since.
The currency mess threatens today on a couple of fronts:
Not the least of which is the pending decline of the Russian
"Bankers posed for a weaker Ruble" says the Moscow News.
What's driving it is the downward oil shock:
Ruble to plunge like Mexican Peso on 'oil shock' says a
Not just 'ruble trouble' though. The hedge funds continue
to implode. Although in fairness, 'restricting withdrawals'
doesn't necessarily mean implosion...still it's
often a precursor.
"Hedge funds chalk up more losses, big names suffer" says
Reuters. Oh wipe that feigned look of surprise off your
As the global demand for 'things' is being wheeled off to the morgue, we
can't help but mention that Australian
Iron ore miner Fortescue has suspended some ore shipping
contracts. Unforeseen circumstances cited, but we
don't see what those are, curiously.
We do know that
China is not going to save Western banksters according to
headlines out of the UK Telegraph.
Did I mention hedge funds in trouble? Like the
report that Citadel out of Chicago has lost 47%?
Scheme at CITI" headlines the NY Post this week.
Lawsuits in Bankster Land - who would have thought?
Say: Did I mention hedge funds in trouble?
"D.E. Shaw, Farallon Restrict Withdrawals as Fund Freeze Deepens"
headlines a Bloomberg report.
But wait, there's got to be good news somewhere...
The Jobs Report:
Half-Million+ Axed in November
Not going to find much joy in Mudville over this one:
"Nonfarm payroll employment fell
sharply (-533,000) in November, and the unemployment rate
rose from 6.5 to 6.7 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics
of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. November's
drop in payroll employment followed declines of 403,000 in
September and 320,000 in October, as revised. Job losses
were large and widespread across the major industry sectors
Unemployment (Household Survey
Both the number of unemployed
persons (10.3 million) and the unemploy- ment rate (6.7
percent) continued to increase in November. Since the start
of the recession in December 2007, as recently announced by
the National Bureau of Economic Research, the number of
unemployed persons increased by 2.7 million, and the
unemployment rate rose by 1.7 percentage points. (See table
The unemployment rates for adult
men (6.5 percent) and adult women (5.5 percent) continued to
trend up in November. The unemployment rates for teenagers
(20.4 percent), whites (6.1 percent), blacks (11.2 percent),
and Hispanics (8.6 percent) showed little change over the
month. The jobless rate for Asians was 4.8 percent in
November, not seasonally adjusted. (See tables A-1, A-2, and
Among the unemployed, the number
of persons who lost their job and did not expect to be
recalled to work increased by 298,000 to 4.7 million in
November. Over the past 12 months, the size of this group
has increased by 2.0 million. "
Since I want to grow up and write serious fiction some day (like
Clive Cussler or Alistair McLean) my favorite part of the
employment report is the "Alternative
Measures of Labor Underutilization, Table-12, U-6"
Here we see that the "Total unemployed, plus all marginally
attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic
reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all
marginally attached workers" was up a full 1.1% in the latest
Another great place to look for content (as a fiction writer
should) is the CES Birth-Death Model which asks us to
believe that a total
of 30-thosuand new jobs were 'created' on a statistical basis
over the past month.
I wonder how long before such reports are available in
suppository or ointment form?
Even more fictionesque? About 1.1 million jobs have been
since February. Cool, huh? Wonder if Dirk Pitt is
working at BLS?
Personally, I expect to see a major revision to the 'created via
statistics' shock when the January numbers come out - just
before the inauguration. Last January, 3-million jobs went
poof from the created jobs model. Why not hand the new
guys a real steamy lump of....er....stuff. I can hardly wait, huh?
market futures have slipped a bit on news that there's sharp
deterioration on the jobs front. Gee, 'magine that.
Oil's down, too. Four-year lows. Not surprising.
With fewer people having jobs - that means car sales will
crater. With car sales cratering, oil prices drop.
And what do we need to fix all this? "Auto
bailout could be tied to gov't-run overhaul" says an AP
So let me get this one straight: The folks who can't let
the military win wars, can't balance a budget, can't keep
employment alive, and have mortgaged us to China are going to
fix the auto industry against the likes of Honda, Nissan,
and Toyota? I'm gonna need to switch from Jack to
El Don to make it
through the rest of the morning....
--- snip and save section ---
Flip Side of Diversity
I think my friend Jas Jain (who you may remember as 'my
deflationist pal' who moved into US Treasuries/bonds just before
the all-time high in paper 'equities') has a much better sense
of the real long-term impacts of the recent Mumbai
attacks than most. No, it's not pretty to think about, but
it has the ring of truth about it:
"During bad economic times Diversity IS Deadly, be it India
or America, particularly so for democracies where Divide &
Rule and cajoling the minorities is the winning game plan.
It you hate a country or a group wish them a democracy,
e.g., Iraq! The truly ugly side of mass democracy (it was
NOT the case until after the WW II) would be seen in the
coming decades. Democracies in the English speaking
countries are among the worst due to greater diversity of
imperial reach of Britain and later America. The best ones
are to be found in more homogeneous populations. Democracy
will be soundly discredited. "
He think excerpted a big from one of my favorite current affairs
-projected forward - thinkers,
D. Kaplan, who discuses in a new Atlantic Monthly article
some of the reasons:
",,,It is clearly possible that the terror rampage had its
origins outside India, aimed as they were at international
rather than Hindu targets. But in a least one sense it
doesn’t matter. For the attacks will aggravate a growing
fault line between Hindus and Muslims within India
Kaplan's work hasn't dwelled on the financial aspects of 'life
just ahead' but if you'd bought a copy of his book The Coming Anarchy: Shattering the Dreams of the Post Cold War
when it was first published in 2001, you'd have been a step
ahead of most investors who were still being hypnotized by the
flash dance on Wall Street; and we know how that's ending. Did I
mention hedge...oh forget it...
Also on point - and worth the time to consider - is the Paul
Craig Roberts article at Lew Rockwell's site titled
"Washington Arrogance has fomented a Muslim Revolution".
Who says we can't be our own worst enemies?
It would be redundant for me to point to the new Obama
administration appointees as a brand new ticket to the same-old
place, so I won't.
Seeing - Darkly
I wouldn't go so far as to call myself a connoisseur of tactical
imaging technologies, but I've got about 15-years of history
using these systems. My first unit was a
small first-generation hand-held often useful back in the day
when I was living on my
sailboat. Darn handy at night to have something that would
pump up starlight to something useful. And, on the many
nights when there was no moonlight or starlight - common in the
cruising grounds of the Pacific Northwest/B.C. Gulf Islands, the
little built-in IR illuminator would do a fine job of
letting me find things in what would otherwise have been close
enough to darkroom quality 'dark' to make loading sheet film
Over the years, I've watched the technology evolve. In
about '98, or so, I remember looking at the Gen-3 systems that
were being displayed at the US Sailboat Show in Annapolis, when
I was there for Cruising Equipment where we did battery and DC
power system instrumentation and control. neat stuff.
I went into a blacked out van which ITT had brought to the show
promoting their Mariner series of gear and was amazed to see how much things had improved.
Ever since then I've been wonder, how does it get better than
Well, about 4 PM last night, one of the neighbor's boys dropped
by - freshly deposited back on USA terra firma after another
round of forward recon in the 'Stans with an SF team with the
answer. After chatting about this and that along about dark he showed me his latest
"It was about $28-grand," he explained. A little larger
than a handheld Gen-3 IR system, this was the finest
low light vision system I'v e ever seen. I mean right up there
on the 'mind blowing' scale.
"What's the technology?" I asked.
"Thermal imaging. Cost me most of my re-up money -
Ouch. Hope IRS lets him write if off as a business expense.
The optics were nothing short of remarkable. Handheld,
camo, zoomed, stabilized - this this little gem was nothing
short of incredible. And, since it was thermal, not IR,
the amber display was very distinctive and crisp. No
'optical noise' if you're familiar with the IR Gen1/2 kinda
Not that I'm going to run out and drop 28-large to snap one up - since hiking in the 'Stans to
gather intel is not on my list of things to do - at least in the foreseeable
future. But, wowzer! What a hot setup.
If you've got a spare $26,500 floating around, you might find
the Fluke thermal imager worth looking into: Fluke Ti55FT-20 Thermal Imager Flex-Cam,IR Fusion, 20MM.
But this one was different and, at least this Christmas, a
little spendier than I had in mind.
Oh sure, you can spend less and get some fine Gen-3 IR setups
Night Optics USA ITT-NQ-PVS-14 Generation 3 US Advanced Multi-Purpose Night Vision Goggles
for under $3,900. And if you've never looked into
night-vision gear (so to speak), you can get a 'starter' unit
for under $100. Something like the Elf-1? Night Vision Monocular
at Amazon, or even a knock-off for around $79 if you shop
Bottom Line: I don't impress easily because I've seen a lot of
different night vision set-ups. But the advanced thermal
imaging systems? Nowhere to hide. I've put it on my
"some day after I buy my twin turbo" list. Very
tool if you're in the 'sand box'. Very.
Missing Tax Bills
Yup - lots of reports from all over the country from mfolks -
like me and the neighbors here who didn't get their property tax
statements in what must be a coincidence, right?
"I will not go into a deep thing with you but we
experienced the same thing; as we didn't receive our tax
statement due for 40 acres i have and then as the time drew
near for foreclosure we were notified... Fortunately we were
able to pay it and not lose it. I am trying to sell it to
get to the mountains... I dwell in Florida. "
"Dang! That's all I can say! Sometimes our mail lady goes
crazy and throws mail beside the boxes (everyone's, not just
mine), and I thought she might have done it again, as we
never received ours. But, four different neighbors asked me
if I had gotten mine back in August and I thought it was a
fluke of sorts, but NOW you've got me to thinking about that
Thanks for ruining my bill free holiday! "
"It seems that Torrance county, NM, managed to lose access
to their tax database and were unable to print the tax bills
in time for mailing on November 1st this year. They finally
sent the bills two weeks later, but will only give one extra
week to pay without penalty. I am still missing one of my
tax bills and will have to visit the county offices next
week in order to locate it. The original deadline to pay the
bills is December 10, and I intend to pay by then,
regardless of the extra week of "grace". Quite bluntly, I
don't trust them to not screw things up.
I will pay the bills in person by check, and get a validated
receipt line on the tax bills too. Belt and
I'm also reorganizing my records, and creating a backup set
of certified deeds, paid tax bills, etc. I don't know if
these folks are just incredibly disorganized, or
disorganized by design. Either way, they are a menace. Quite
honestly, I don't have time for this nonsense, but it does
seem to need attention.
I also don't have time to discuss the INCREASE in the
Anyway, that's the story from central NM."
"We got ours several months late, here in Providence, RI.
The bill looks O.K. but who knows? "
"I live in Sacramento County, California. Our annual
property tax bill arrives during the 1st week of November
every year just as it did this year. The bill is set-up to
make two equal payments, one due by 12/10/08 and the second
due by 4/10/09. This is the first time in 24 years the bill
arrived with just one pre-printed return envelope. Just
"In Las Vegas NV my tax bill comes in my monthly statement
from Wells Fargo, we have both auto and home insurance
policy through Allstate. We just got a notice stating that
we owed about $1,000 dollars not sure of the amount exactly,
so we could either pay it separate or have it added into our
monthly house payment for $25.00 a month. Since my husband
lost his 2 job in Nov 07, and his regular job as a travel
agent he now only works 4 days a week, we opt for that. You
have to look on your house bill monthly to see what they are
taking out to pay your taxes, and if its not enough they
bill you here. If a bunch of you in Texas didn't get there
current tax bill, start a neighbor petition and have
everyone sign and take it to City Hall, and notify the news
medias and believe me something will be done about it.
That's what folks here do..." [Texans are a
little less polite and more direct - G]
"I have not received my property tax statement (Lake County,
FL), which leads me to this question: Since my property
taxes are rolled into my mortgage & my mortgage company pays
it every year, who would be responsible if it wasn't paid?
Also, my mortgage is through Countrywide. Weren't they
bought out by Bank of America at the end of last spring? And
if I'm correct, when will I have to be writing checks to
them instead? It just seems to be taking an awe-ful long
time, especially for a company as wealthy as BoA. Thanks
again for your time & energy, but one more thing, if I may ~
I had to laugh at the letter from the guy who destroyed his
house. I'm sort of in the same situation, but if I could get
a loan to remodel my house, I'd use it to add solar panels,
a greenhouse, etc. & use their money to do what our country
should've been using our money for in the 60s & 70s & escape
the grid! "
"Mine came about a month late here in Denver, CO. They
acknowledged their mistake, don't recall the reason given,
but they pushed back the due date of the first payment by a
month. Mine was part of a larger group this had happened to.
A test to see who would notice it hadn't come, and how long
it would take for people to ask?"
"My neighbors did not get their property tax bill last
season. They just remodeled their home and it is one of the
highest taxed in the Town of Diana, New York, which is
saying a lot since it is now official that New York State
pays the highest property taxes in the United States."
"I received a duplicate this year. Same bill, they just sent
it twice. I just hope I don’t owe them more than the one!
That’s some high strangeness going on there! "
"Oh I got my property tax bill alright, the first one I
received was also a "final notice" with a threat to sell
property to cover taxes."
"About five years ago we refinanced our lake home in East
Texas that at the time was our second home and is now our
only home. With a chunk of cash down we reduced our payments
to only $350 per month with a short 10 year mortgage. Our
home and out buildings are actually on two lots. One thing
that we did not understand and not mentioned in our
agreement was that the payment of property tax was not
included. We never got a tax bill until a few years went by
and then got hit with a demand for payment or else from the
tax office. Fortunately we managed to make payment
arrangements with the tax folks. Now this year we got a tax
bill of about 50% less than previous years and it turns out
it shows only one of the lots on it where the bills
previously showed both lots. We still haven't got this
straightened out. Just thought you might like to have one
more data point to consider. "
"Your discussion of the possibility of county governments
intentionally neglecting to send property tax bills to
selective property owners sounded a chord of familiarity
when I read it. My wife and I own property in two counties
in California. The county in which we live the majority of
the time has consistently sent out property tax bills for
both the lot with the home on it and the empty lot next to
it, and has always done so in a timely fashion. The other
county where we have our other home has, for the past two
years, neglected to send us a property tax bill, even though
we have owned that property for ten years and there has been
no change in our contact information. Each time I have
telephoned around November 1st to ask what happened to my
bill, and each time it has then appeared in the mail just a
few days before it was due. Each time I paid it immediately
and in full.
Regarding your statement that one should make sure that the
property tax bill is complete: In my youth I once worked as
a property tax examiner for a large corporation. This
corporation contracted with banks and loan companies to
provide information to those institutions regarding the
properties on which they were lending money. As a tax
examiner, it was my job to go out to various tax assessor's
and recorder's offices in California counties with copies of
the loan companies property descriptions, look up these
properties in the map books on file in the county offices,
and determine which assessment districts would have
authority to make assessments against that property in
addition to the county taxes. This was necessary because
such districts were not always included in the sale or loan
information, and the assessments from those districts might
not always show up on the property tax bill. But if they
weren't paid, then the property could be auctioned off by
the state for unpaid back assessments, hence the loan
companies' interest in having such information.
The point of this is that there is really no way for a
property owner to be 100% certain that he or she is current
in paying all of the assessments against his property.
Assessment districts can spring into life with little
announcement, such irrigation districts, mosquito abatement
districts, etc., and the boundaries delineating these
districts can often wander to include properties whose
owners would never imagine their involvement in such
beaurocratic idiocies. The assessments they levy against the
properties are legal and binding, and ignorance of their
existence is not a legal excuse for not paying. Hence the
properties can be lost to foreclosures and sales for
"George we normally get ours in Jan-Feb with fiirst
installment due in May and second installment due in Nov .
This year we did not get our tax bills until Nov and it is
due now . I like you got mine on a Monday and went down and
paid it right away. The co Treasurer blamed it all on the
state legislature . You know the drill . This is Floyd
County Indiana "
could go on and on with reports like these - lots of people find
that either their mortgage servicer didn't get the paperwork, or
they didn't - so the best course of action seems to be toi put a
tickler file together and every three or four months check to
see that all taxes and assessments have been paid.
it some vast national conspiracy? Doesn't seem so, but
we'll keep an eye on it. Like one reader put it:
"Once is a mistake
Twice is suspicious.
Third time's enemy action..."
other "cutsie" things: We hear that assessors in many of
the hardest hit areas of the country (Florida and California)
are bumping up assessments (hence taxes) on foreclosed home so
the next owners will have to pay higher back taxes to redeem
them (cute, huh?) And, the premier of British Columbia is
pledging to freeze property taxes there - but likely as no,
what's really going on hidden from the financial impaired is
that this may just 'lock-in' higher tax rates which should
otherwise drift down as property prices fall in the lower B.C.
mainland like everywhere else in North America seems to be
tanking - except 'rich farm lands', of course.
Don'tcha love it?
Last - but not least, we have this:
Not sure what it is you don’t like about our Stephen Harper…
I can only guess you’ve got lots of friends from Toronto.
Unless you’re still sore about us Canucks being able to see
Iraq was a quagmire and refusing to follow you guys in.
First off, our Conservatives are small c conservatives… not
rabid, bible thumping, gun waving, abortion denying nutsos
like you have in your Republican party in the US. K?
(People in Toronto are like people in DC, they’re not on the
same planet, they believe what they Cyclops in their living
room tells them about the rest of Canada and they don’t get
out of their own Province enough to see it ain’t so)
Secondly, you’re complaining about Bush and Co. bailing out
(not ‘rescuing) banksters. Well, our Liberals and New
Democrats who are trying to carry out their little coup are
hell bent on bailing out banks (some of which bought the
toxic waste, none of which are about to fold) and CEO
friends, and giving loadsa money to your GM/Chrysler/Ford
plants in Ontario.
Hey, why should you guys in the US have to bail out the auto
industry when these twits are so hot to do it that they’re
up here staging a coup over it?
Harper told them ‘no’ to bailing out the GM/Chrysler/Ford
plants… he bluntly told them to let the free markets sort it
‘Harpo’ – regardless of how much you may hate him –
apparently has more fiscal sense than your Bernanke, Paulson
Unless of course, you’re taking the ‘misery loves company’
stance, and would like to see us bankrupted as well by
jokers who can spend money even faster than you guys can. J
“Canadian dollar as long as they can get rid of Harpo and
keep the US from invading to 'save them for democracy' as
they have enough oil, water, and timber to make that worth
Really wouldn’t suggest you guys coming up this way. War of
1812 and all. (we haven’t forgotten even if you guys have)
Invasions of Upper and Lower Canada, 1812
America's leaders assumed that Canada could be easily
overrun. Former President Jefferson optimistically referred
to the conquest of Canada as "a matter of marching."
On July 4, 1813,
Joshua Barney, a Revolutionary War naval hero, convinced
the Navy Department to build the
Chesapeake Bay Flotilla, a squadron of twenty barges to
defend the Chesapeake Bay. Launched in April 1814, the
squadron was quickly cornered in the
Patuxent River, and while successful in harassing the
Royal Navy, they were powerless to stop the British
campaign that ultimately led to the "Burning
of Washington". Having
destroyed Washington's public buildings, including the
President's Mansion and the Treasury, the British army next
moved to capture
Baltimore, a busy port and a key base for American
We see you rebuilt your White House. It looks very nice!
Cheekily yours," (female Canadian name withheld)
Say, does this mean that you're not going to bite when the US
announces that Alberta is part of Montana and needs to be
liberated? ROFL...Just kidding. Might want to keep
an eye open for this, though: The PTB/globalists are
slamming down oil prices and bringing on depression so they can
buy Canada's resource base for 10¢
on the dollar when the hedge funds collapse worldwide. The
way I figure - as goes Dubai, so goes Calgary...
Send snip and save items to
---end snip and save section ---
Thursday December 4, 2008
Seems that interest rates globally are continuing their downward
trend, and that's either good news, or bad, depending on where
This morning's NY Times says "The
housing market may finally be getting some relief, with lower
mortgage rates already encouraging refinancing and Treasury
officials considering ways to entice new buyers." But,
before you 'pop the bubbly' consider some of the other effects.
The first is that even with many auto companies offering zero
percent interest financing over the past few months, the Merc
out in San Jose is headlining that "Auto
sales plunge; industry on ropes". While the automakers
continue the knee pad tour on Capital (sic) Hill, the
United Auto Workers are making some concessions.
If there's a distinguishing feature of the evolving Second Great
Depression - which nearly everyone seems to be in denial about,
despite a 1930's-like 40% decline in equities market which sure
looks like more than a 'recession' to me, it's that
unlike the 'front-end' of the Great Depression (#1 circa the
1930's), #2 is not being played out using competitive tariffs -
thanks to those free trader zealots - it's being played with
competitive currency and interest moves.
The headline that "Sweden
slashes interest rate to 2 Percent" is therefore not
the Bank of England this morning cut their rate to 2%, which
is the lowest that's been since 1951. Indonesia's
central bank has also cut its interest rates by 25-basis points
Indonesia's 9.25% might sound a tad on the high side, but that
country has been trying to support a 'go-go' economy which seems
to be a hybridization between the depths of the Depression
(1930's here) with lots of street vendors and home delivery
services on the one hand, and a push to modern industrial
production on the other, according to our SE Asia bureau chief
(formerly our Houston bureau chief).
New Zealand has cut its rate to 5%, joining the global rate
In our own back yard, while Chief Printer Ben Bernanke at the
(not really) Federal Reserve has been telling
the Washington Post that further rate cuts by the US Fed may be
in the cards, the USA Today report also notes that
interest rate cuts alone won't be enough.
Now a little economics history lesson: Back in the late
1980's (around 1989 to help you narrow your research) the
Japanese stock market stood well over 40,000 by the Nikkei
the Nikkei closed at 7,924.
I don't claim to be the brightest flashlight in research, but it
seems to me that when an index drops from north of 40 to under 8
and goes through what's been a 19-year beat-down, that dropping
rates is not the answer. Unless, of course, you want
your economic to get a 20-year *ss-whipping.
The Japanese experience was to reduce their interest rates to
essentially zero, which had the side effect of giving the
global corporate money-gluttons the free money they needed for
the yen-gold carry trade, and let their banks 'paper over'
extreme real estate losses. I've heard of cases today
where was were million dollar plus condos in Tokyo are
rented/leased for a fraction of what their underlying values
would imply, just so their banksters would not have to 'fess up'
to the ugly reality of falling realty (so to speak).
Hold that thought, because we're about to go somewhere.
I perhaps foolishly, hold to the idea that brain power is pretty
evenly spread around the world. Sure, there are variances
for education and psychological and sociological conditioning,
but most humans fit somewhere around the middle of the Bell
China, being no exception, has been plotting a financial course
designed, most likely, to build their middle class so that
they can get in on some of the benefits of being a
consumer-based economy like the US has enjoyed, albeit with
Chinese labor and goods. They also have noticed the US
dollar's value has been recently high, but in the longer term,
as it becomes more and more saturated with debt, at some point
its value will hit an inflection point, and the debt-logged buck
will sag in values against other currencies.
China's got a little problem, though: They have been
accepting US paper as payment for their goods for years and the
problem on the horizon is what to do if the buck sours?
It's against the backdrop that we read how "China
currency depreciation a 'political signal' before Paulson visit
- JP Morgan" over at Forbes.
The way I've got it figured, the US may have to go the way of
Japan and push our rates down to near zero as things
continue to implode (evidence of which abounds in the housing
market, among other places).
China has tons of higher yield US debt paper, but we don't know
(not being inner banksters) how much of that is floating and how
much is fixed. But the Paulson visit promised to be a most
interesting ballet (dancing around the competitive currency
devaluations and competitive interest rate drops) to watch.
In the meantime, the Fed, Treasury, and taxocrats on the Hill
are all trying to figure out new and creative ways to shove more
money into the system. The game plan so far has been to
print lots of money and hope it leads to lower rates and a
renewal of consumption.
If they 'under-print' paper, then we get continued deflation and
falling rates, which are already coming within spitting distance
of zero. On the other hand, if they over-print then
we get inflation which could easily pop into hyperinflation.
To me, the best plan I can come up with is a sort of
'printing-neutral' investment plan. A little bit of
precious metals to hedge against the hyperinflation possibility,
and some owned outright means of productions (small farm, tools
for my machine shop) on the other.
It's harder to do for a working couple in a big city, but it
seems like having one family member in a recession-resistant job
(fireman, policeman, undertaker, grocer, garbage collector, etc)
on the one hand, and another in a position to benefit from a
return to a growing economy (services, high tech) would not be a
bad position, especially if lots of attention is paid to getting
out of debt and deliberately under-spending ones income.
This last is hard to do: The Cyclops in the living room
keeps promoting yesterday's paradigm. When I turn on the
tube, most of what I see makes me sick - or think I am - as I
feel like a junkie in training with all the medical products ads
on the teevee.
How many Grammy award nominees are pure acoustic, non-pimpin',
genuine greenies? I mean SmartCars, not tour bus kind
At some point, the media imagery may catch up (or would that be
down?) to the changing global economic climate.
But, like so many, seems Hollywood is watching the
inflation/deflation battle - just as the Chinese are - and
keeping their options open. So at the box office, to
borrow a phrase from
Firesign Theatre, we all just bring our tickets 'down to the
new-old same place' and find it almost endlessly amusing.
Choreographed by crazy people, the absurdity of the competitive
interest rate declines means the hyperdeflation/collapse and
end-of-the-world is still on the table. Then again, that's where
hyperinflation leads, too. Bogslife ahead, or
alternatively, global systemic collapse. But at least,
we'll have low interest rates for a few more weeks of the
process and my, my, what an intricate dance it is. Or, is it
Who needs the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act when we have the global
For 12,000 AT&T workers - 4% of the workforce being pink-slipped.
Unemployment claims a little better than forecast in today's
report. Market was expecting about 40-thousand more.
Looks like the prime minister of Canada is going the coup route:
Harper set to suspend parliament in order not to lose his *ss...I
Rumors continue to fly about the 'net that Barack Obama's win
will be taken away by the Supreme Court, at least that's what
the buzz is. "Obama
Birth Certificate: SCOTUS Conference Set for Tomorrow" says
Rampant speculation about whether Bush would stay or appoint
someone (Hillary???) in the event of...but just wild speculation
far as I can tell. So far, that is... But how about
that quote in the Chicago Trib that "Internet-fueled
conspiracy theories question whether Obama is a "natural-born
And people wonder why print is losing market share to the web?
The J-Post this morning headlines that
the Israeli IDF is preparing options for Iran strike.
With, or without USA backing, seems.
While Condi Rice and others are trying to keep India from
over-reacting to the killing of nearly 300 people, we find it
interested that there a call to
"Stop using the world 'Islam' in reports on terrorism, Islamic
one of the gunmen in the attacks has told investigators he was
paid $1,900 for his role and then there's the matter of a call
placed by the gunman to New Jersey...
Tuition Pushes College out of Reach" says a Bill Weir, ABC
report. Not only pushes, but to the point where many college
students are having to drop out, say the linguistics out of the
report. And more will drop out in coming quarters are
wages, job security, and no-mo-refi's comes home to roost.
Behind the scenes: Government funding programs for education.
Having done some time in higher ed I can tell you that college
budgets have an almost 'magical' way of growing to meet
available student loans and grants. But, of course, few in
that industry will admit to it...
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Property Tax Bill Conspiracy?
Pull up another half-cup of coffee: Something really important
to talk about today. I haven't mentioned it before, but
time to do so now. My neighbor across the road (trail is
more like it) mentioned to me a few weeks back that he didn't
get his property tax bill this year. I thought to myself,
"Hmmm...that's odd: We got the bills for the two pieces of
raw acreage BUT we never did get the bill for the main lot with
the house and most of the improvements on it...."
Being somewhat anxious about misbehavior by my 'silent partner'
in this operation, I went down to the local tax office, asked
them for copies of the current tax bill that I never received,
and paid them on the spot. But neither my neighbor, nor I,
ever got this year's property tax bill.
OK, fast forward to this curious email that popped into the
'inbox' and floated up to the top - pay particular attention to
the part I highlighted:
Something that wasn't factored into your assessment of costs
on a foreclosed home is as follows: My wife and I went have
been unemployed for about a year now, but we have been
scraping enough to meet our mortgage payment.
Then along comes the
government. Seems that in 2006 they split up school
districts and only sent us one of the tax bills, which we
paid, now all of the sudden out it comes and they don't want
to hear about the circumstances in what they call a court
hearing, seemed like some kind of stacked deck arbitration
to me. The lawyer fees and fines are quadruple the original
tax bill, that we never got! It has effectively put us on
the way to homelessness.
I decided this did not sit well for me, so I went down and
got a permit to remodel, they are happy to issue these
because that is what the country uses to upgrade what your
house is worth. I promptly removed all the sheet rock, 1/2
the supporting timbers, all the wiring, the central air and
heat, insulation (went when I took down the ceiling), and
started digging up the back yard for new plumbing, I filled
the existing pipes with concrete. I removed all fixtures,
toilets, bathtubs etc, and darn if they didnt evict me
before I could rebuild and finish my renovations. tsk tsk.
Turns out because I had a permit that insurance wont cover
the losses either. So now the county is stuck with what will
soon be an empty lot. I really didn't want to go this route,
but it turns out I am not alone. This is becoming more
frequent than what you might think. My formerly $200,000
house is now worth $5,000 for the lot, I dont even want to
guess what the clean up costs will be.
A lot of people like me are tired of being robbed by the
government and their buddies businesses, like the lawyers.
If I were to go to jail they would not get one dime from me
ever as far as I am concerned they can pay for my upkeep, I
need some medical care that I cant afford and at least there
I will get some care, but it turns out that I did not break
any laws since I had every intention of rebuilding. : þ"
Now here's the point: If I didn't get the property tax
statement on my main house/improvements, that would only be
one data point. If my neighbor didn't get his, that's
two. If my reader who we'll just call WM didn't get
his - and is losing his property over it - that's three.
I don't know how many data points it takes before you start
wondering whether there's a 'design pattern' going on, but
here's the question to put out this morning: Did you get
your property tax statements right on schedule this year,
or did you experience the same kind of thing: Missing
statements, or split statements - one of which went somehow
I've often figured that at some point, the PowersThatBe would
not only force as many people as they could into bankruptcy, but
that on top of that, they'd 'work' the system to screw as many
honest (but occasionally forgetful) folks out of private
property ownership as they could, because all that private
property represents sovereign (e.g. non-governmental)
wealth. How much of that can we afford, Comrade? We
got bankster payments to make!
So, if you have noticed anything strange about property
tax billings this year, please let me know by
clicking here to send me a summary of your experiences.
Not saying it's anything other than a fluke, but like I
said, when I see too many cases it adds up to what? Go
look up "design
May be nothing, may be something. Can't hurt asking the
question. Oh, and if you did get a property tax bill, I
assume you checked if for completeness? Especially if
school districts haven't had their act together getting their
levies into the local assessor?
A persistent reader (we'll teach him, right?) is still asking:
I love ya but you need to level
the playing field. Twice you’ve shot me down for asking
which currencies will emerge when the $ collapses. Most
recently, you mentioned something about pounding my hand
with a mallet. (the link was great!).
But, today you sing the praises
of Mr. Landry who says:
"Yes. Right now, looking ahead,
the only thing I can tell you is the shorter term treasury
bills are where I'm at, but I will be looking to see which
currency or currencies are starting to become stronger. That
is where one must move for safety."
Are you sending Mr. Landry a
mallet for Christmas?
Love ya man,"
I may buy Robin a bank for
Christmas. They are going for cheap, I hear.
Meantime, if I were guessing? Canadian dollar as long as
they can get rid of Harpo and keep the US from invading to 'save
them for democracy' as they have enough oil, water, and timber
to make that worth pondering.
Otherwise, pick the country
that has the least debt to resources cost and bet there.
Better? English speaking and low population density and high
enough to avoid 'global coastal event'.
Time to get hammered now, LOL
Send snip and save items to
--- end snip and save section ---
Wednesday December 3, 2008
Half Full or Half
One of the really cool features about
life-school/this-time-around is that we are each granted a high
degree of autonomy of perspective. Which is to say, you
can choose to look at things as 'glass half-full or glass
Most folks go though life - looking at things by halves -
without consciously challenging their 'personal perspective' on
a subject. But a few have enough brain cells to look at the
'flip side' of most issues and then reframe their
'question of halves' based on either hard knowledge of a topic
or, a good sense of the 'flow of events' such that their
perspective on 'which half?' is usually more 'right' than most.
I'm watching four quite interesting 'life by halves' evolve
around me right now and each over [time] will likely rotate into
headlines in one form or another.
In the case of the market, the 'half-full' crowd is preaching
every few hours it seems on the 'money honey' channels that "a
bottom is in." This is an area where I think I've done
enough serious study to be able to conclude (from my
perspective) that if you think the bottom is in, ya'll oughta be
buying bridges in NY and looking for other pots of gold.
'Blinded by optimism in the face of facts.
The second 'life by halves' revolves around when will the
housing bottom be in? As I explain in further detail in
today's "Coping" section, we're not even close to a
bottom in housing.
In the third case, people are insisting in email after email
that "George, you're dead wrong on having to 'pay back' your
'stimulus check' from the government. I same run of our
tax return shows otherwise (also in today's Coping" section.
We're now roughly one week from the twin quakes window in
Cliff's predictive linguistics work when the world seems likely,
based on language shifts that have preceded similar events in
the past, a pair of quakes, as least one of which is
linguistically destined to isolate a bunch of people and cause
severe socioeconomic impacts including offers of foreign aid.
Here again, 'life by halves' features some folks will be ready
because of their learning and experience which will allow them
to see the possibilities in advance and prepare to meet them on
their own terms, while the other side denies that language
precedes change and that Cliff & I are just a couple of nutjobs.
No dispute about this last point from us, but as we've said in
the past, "Just because we may be nuts doesn't make us wrong".
Remember when we posted the last 'big quake' advisory a couple
of days before the China 7.8 - 8.0 quake in May.
Off by a
day or two in the May 9 and May 10 warnings, but that's why
I call the predictive linguistics project a "rickety time
machine". When it takes a half linguist/ half SQL-guru and
200+ executables in four languages (dos, perl, c, & prolog) to
weed though terabytes of data, no, this is not something
you'll be seeing on Amazon any time soon with a slick Vista
And first, but not least, there's the matter of how one looks at
the 'economy'. From my perspective, after studying
things since the 1970's, I've concluded that the glass may seem
about 'half-full' now, but it's about to be 'mostly emptied'; at
least that's how I read it.
Don't take my 'read' too seriously, though. I'm not a
'certified financial planner' although my personal portfolio has
done way better than most, I suppose; at least if the tear (and
loss) filled emails I get are any indication. Just because
I've written about the virtue of 'cash' and the government's
Treasury Direct program (www.savingsbonds.com)
doesn't mean we'll stay [parked there forever. It has been
a dandy 'hurricane hole' though as the first fronts of the
financial storm blow over.
As we begin this morning's review of things, half a cup of
coffee into the day (not half into our cups I hope), the magic
tool to keep a firm grasp on is that of perspective. When
you can hold both sides in mind and consciously decide how to
look at something, life takes on extra dimensions. "When
the Above is as the Below, then you have entered..."
The futures are pointing down a bit (1% or so) when I looked
this morning, but that was before the new 'productivity' numbers
came out. A couple of comments about it, but first the
"The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the
Department of Labor today reported revised productivity
data--as measured by output per hour of all persons--for the
third quarter of 2008. The seasonally adjusted annual
rates of productivity growth in the third quarter were:
In both sectors, hours were
revised down more than output, leading to productivity
increases which are 0.2 percentage point higher than in
preliminary estimates published November 6.
In manufacturing, revised
productivity changes in the third quarter were:
-2.7 percent in
2.9 percent in durable goods
-10.2 percent in nondurable
In the manufacturing sector,
productivity fell 1.7 percentage points more than was
reported on November 6, as a 2.0 percent downward revision
to output was partially offset by a 0.4 percent downward
revision to hours.
Output and hours in
manufacturing, which includes about 12 percent of U.S.
business sector employment, tend to vary more from quarter
to quarter than data for the aggregate business and nonfarm
This number is not a big deal except that it serves to
point out one of the absurdities of (so-called) modern
economics. Productivity is essentially 'how much work gets
done by how many people'. Therefore, when fewer people get
'more done' it's considered a 'good thing.' But, when you
think about it from the 'other side' (turning that view of the
cup around) it means that as productivity goes up the
flip side is that employment goes down, ceteris paribus
(all else being equal, the economist's weasel words).
Should we rejoice when productivity goes up? Depends if
you're part of the 'ownership class' or are a 'worker'. If
you're an owner, the higher the productivity, the fewer of them
bothersome humans you need. At 100% efficiency, goods are
made automatically and no workers are needed. On the other
hand, that points to 100% unemployment from the other side, so
it's a Catch-22 situation which partisans on both sides dare not
OK, so what's the outlook over the next little while? I
posited Tuesday that my friend CS in
Atlanta might be right in his
Elliott Wave count, but after the markets closed, a chat
with Robin Landry (email:
email@example.com ) convinced me otherwise:
"The count your friend CS sent you can not be correct,
according to my indicators. His count showing that
we're still in the fourth wave and the fourth wave is
trending down does not confirm with my count."
So what's Landry's count?
"The count best supported by my indicators is that low on
11/21/08 that hit 7,449.38 was the bottom of the third
wave. While not ideal in its internal structure, the
larger indicators say that we have done an A wave up, and we
are currently in a B wave down, and then we will have a C
wave up to complete Wave 4.
The target for the top of Wave 4 is between 9,200 (Dow) to
9,600. Then, the fifth wave down should start and at
the end of that we will have completed Wave A of the
Bear Market. That target is still the Dow 5,800 area.
Now, that's just Wave A from the all-time high. Then I
expect a rally lasting approximately 3-5 months for the B
wave up of the Bear Market. And that rally should have
a minimum upside target of 50% of the decline from the
October 2007 high to the low. During that rally, I
think we will see a renewed interest in the stock market,
some interest in the commodities, and also the gold and
However, once that B Wave is finished, and the market starts
down on the C Wave of the bear Market, it is at that point I
believe deflation will begin to really dominate as people
begin to realize we are not going to be able to inflate our
way out of this thing.
It's at that point that the dollar begins to go down and
whether it be the Japanese yen, the Swiss Franc, or the
Euro, or whatever other currency may start to become
predominate. We'll just have to wait and see.
During the C Wave down I believe if this is the Grand Super
Cycle when we approach the low of the A Wave, whatever that
turns out to be, and that low does not hold, then you will
see a panic I believe the likes of which the world has never
OK, how to act? When we see the end of the B wave coming,
maybe next year, where do we hide? If what Landry is
saying comes to the pass, hiding in US bonds becomes something
of risk, if/as other countries repudiate the debt-logged
"Yes. Right now, looking ahead, the only thing I can
tell you is the shorter term treasury bills are where I'm
at, but I will be looking to see which currency or
currencies are starting to become stronger. That is
where one must move for safety."
And the ultimate low, Landry's expecting in terms of the Dow or
"So the Dow in Wave C? Do you really want to put that
in your newsletter?"
"Sure, what the hell..."
"If this is truly a Grand Super cycle decline, the low will
be in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, below 1,000."
"I believe that it will take it approximately a year and a
half from the high of the B wave, whenever that happens to
The problem is that what we will be in is like the last
Grand Super Cycle in the 1700's which according to the
records and charts I have seen lasted 68-years.
Now, that does not mean that there won't be investment
opportunities, over this period of time. As there will still
be new inventions and other areas of growth in the economy
and around the world. It's just that the destruction
of old technologies and areas of the economy will be
offsetting the new technologies, so that for a period of
time there will be overall - in the broad indicators - no
However, given the speed of technology and the dissemination
of knowledge today, I suspect that the markets action at
worst will be something on the order of 8-20 years, and not
68-years going sideways.
That's something to think about but there's not really any
action one can do now; there's not much that can be done
that far out. We need to live in the here and now and
the best we can plan for is the next year or so.
However, remember, as the market events happen, each data
point gives us a better picture of what is to come and
hopefully hopefully the worst can be avoided. But if past
history is any guide, the outcome doesn't appear to the most
If I was playing the market, I guess I'd consider buying some of
the double-Dow longs and picking up a couple of bucks on the
advance Landry's expecting. On the other hand, I won't for
the simple reason that there's too much 'news chop' in the
market for my tastes. And speaking of which, I suppose we
should venture into the headlines ab out now as it's the unlevel
playing field we have to play on...
Automakers were back in Washington yesterday trying to explain
why throwing just a few bucks toward the automakers would make
sense. "Auto sales hit new lows, GM sales plunge 41%" says
Given that 8.1-trillion is lined up for the bankster
class, you might think a small $25-billion stimulus wouldn't be
out of line for one of the biggest industries in America.
Coffee hasn't kicked in, but I think that's 3-10ths of
one perfect of what the financial 'industry' is sucking out of
the taxpayers based on the $8.1 t figure in the SF Chronicle
Nancy Pelosi things CONgress or the Bush administration will
step in because 'bankruptcy is 'not an option'. But
we've heard that tune before. The cup is looking half
empty for the automakers.
"Rescue" Word Again...
Feds to expand rescue" says a CNN Money headline.
Own the language, own the outcome, as we've said before.
Americans love to rescue - and the very word conjures up
archetypes of fire fighters getting kittens from trees, people
out of accidents, and saving people from floods.
"Bailouts" conjures up much darker imagery, so guess why the
word-use changed? From under 18 percent to
over 56% of the time now, 'rescue' is the phrase that
pays for those who spin the news.
Just as the US didn't go into Iraq with a fixed exit strategy,
seems now the same kind of "Lost exit" issue is facing the
financial arena, as well. You can see it in headlines like
head: Gov't plan needs 'exit strategy".
Wink, wink, nod, nod; around here we know the reason there
are no exist strategies: consumers are at consumption
limitations (how many TV's do we need? How many cars?) and
we're at debt saturation, too. What the country needs is
something to destroy capacity and stimulate new spending.
Without that, the three biggest growth industries on the planet
are 1) war, 2) Homeland Security and 3) financial bailouts.
#3 is quickly moving up the ladder, though...
If Banks Say
mortgage applications surged by a record amount are
something I'm taking with a grain or salt and a few grains of
The way I have it figured is that people are having to put in a
lot more applications in order to find a bank that will approve
So if more banks are saying "No!" applications would go which
Since the predictive linguistics have these 'twin quakes' coming
up (window opens in a week temporally) a great email from a
well-versed reader on some of the things Californians might want
"George, As you know California
has had three great earthquakes in the last 150 years. Two
have occurred on the San Andreas fault. Both were mammoth;
1906 San Francisco quake 7.7-8.2 and the 1857 Ft. Tejon
quake 7.9-8.1. A major quake occurs on the San Andreas fault
on average every 140 years......so we're overdue by 10
I'll list 4 scenarios within the
32-36 N. Latitudes.
1. Colorado River/All American
Canal: Western U.S. bread basket for winter vegetables is
the Imperial valley/Mexicali. The San Andreas ends near the
Salton Sea and the San Jacinto fault begins on the Westside
of the Salton sea and extends southward to the Gulf of
California. A larger quake here could rupture open the Gulf
of California allowing a channel of water to move in through
Mexico and merger with the Salton Sea. There is a 100 mile
from Indio to the Mexican border that is below sea level. A
smaller quake would disrupt waterways including the All
American canal, the largest irrigation canal in the world
creating significant damage to the crops. It would take a
huge rupture to force water inland not likely but faintly
Most of So Cal water is
imported; LA aqueduct from Owens Valley, California aqueduct
from the state water project and the Colorado River
aqueduct. All three aqueducts cross the San Andreas fault.
The great fear is not transpiration disruption but
2. The Colorado River aqueduct
parallels the San Andreas fault separated by a distance of
1-5 miles from Coachella Valley west to Banning about 40
miles. After crossing the fault near Banning in Riverside
County the water is deposited in Lake Mathews for
distribution throughout LA, Orange and San Diego counties. A
good size quake here would produce water disruptions and
3. Half of all Southern
California water usages comes from the California aqueduct.
The California aqueduct transports water 450 miles from
Sacramento River delta to Los Angeles. The California
aqueduct crosses the San Andreas fault through Cajon pass
north of San Bernardino. The water is then distributed
through all of So Cal. The San Andreas fault passes through
Northern LA county on the north of the San Gabriel
mountains. Unfortunately that is where the California
aqueduct is located. The aqueduct is tucked in next to the
San Andreas fault for about 35 miles. At this point the
aqueduct heads Northwest to tie in with the Los Angeles
aqueduct while the fault maintains a more westerly direction
lifting to 4,000ft as the fault precedes through Ft. Tejon.
A Ft.Tejon type quake with similar magnitude would more than
likely result in equipment failure and cracks/leakage along
miles of the canal.
4. San Luis Dam: The California
aqueduct parallels the San Andreas fault along the Westside
of the San Joaquin Valley for 170 miles......separated by
10/30 miles. The water is stored in the San Luis
reservoir/lake. The reservoir is a huge man made lake
supported by the San Luis Dam. The Dam is 25 miles east of
the San Andreas fault. 20 miles west of San Luis Dam is the
city of Hollister....."earthquake capital of the U.S."
Southwest of Hollister only a few miles west of the San
Andreas fault is the "salad capital of the world" the
Salinas Valley. A major quake in this area could create
major/minor agricultural shortages but a significant crack
in the Dam could be a disaster..... the damage would be
relative to the amount of water stored in the lake. Right
now the dams in the Sierras are holding little water.
5. Bay area slips: A large bay
area quake off the Hayward fault causes sea water to rush
into the shipping channels of the Sacramento Delta flooding
thousands of acres, busting levies and mixing seawater with
Again, we hope to be wrong on the quakes, or that they happen in
areas where there's no impact, but we should know in about two
weeks whether we're right or wrong...We don't know, for example
if the 32-36 latitude band is north or south, and even if north,
that could still cover the New Madrid region. Dramamine
ready? Stand by to cue the 'dancing mountains'.
Correct George Day
In yesterday's report I referred incorrectly to the Icelanders
storming banks story as being in Icelandic. It was in
Dutch from a Belgian source. Can't get everything perfect,
--- snip and save section ---
That Darn "Stimulus"
Several people have written to me calling me (more) names for
pointing out how the so-called 'economic stimulus' foisted on
the public was nothing more than a scam to get people to spend
money they didn't have. Just to make one more go of
explaining this, here's how it works:
A. Government sent out a "stimulus check" in summer 08.
B. If you got the stimulus check and cashed it, you have
to report that on your 2008 return.
C. If you report it, it adds to your tax liability by (ta
dah!) $1,200, compared with people who didn't take the stimulus.
Let me share with you the part of your (look for it soon) 2008
Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet. Note how the word
'stimulus' is missing. Here's a print of a sample case
with hypothetical numbers put into TurboTax:
Soooo...like I've been saying, if you did take the 'stimulus'
you will likely pony up $1,200 more than people who saw it for
what it was - an interest free loan which you now get dinged
for. Or, to be perfectly clear, get a big fat goose egg on
That's all I've been pointing out. For us, the cup was
half filled in July and it just got half-emptied when I modeled
our 2008 taxes. If line 28 is 0, line 29 is a 'full cup'.
If line 28 is $1,200 (or $600) then line 29 is completely empty.
One of my 'friends' called me up snickering Tuesday afternoon to
point out the photo showing a new all-time high in consideration
for victims' rights in the UK. Look closely at the photo
of the horse in the story "Man
jailed for having sex with horse..." What PC lengths
to protect the horse's identity! British humor is quite
good, at times; often at the polls, too, we note...
I was bemoaning in a recent column that my Glock tended to eject
cartridges into my face on my pistol range. While several
people sent in pleas that I 'get it looked at by a gunsmith
right away', I got one email that I will have to follow-up on
"Subject line: Brass Forehead
George, Greetings from occupied Seattle. You mentioned that
you get hit in the forehead by the ejected cartridges from
your Glock. I believe that a Glock will do that if you are
"limp wristing" the pistol. I'm not implying that you may
have spent too much time in Seattle's Capitol Hill
neighborhood. But, a firmer wrist has been known to cure
that problem. Also, lightweight polymer framed pistols have
a tendency to jam or stovepipe when limp wristed."
Ah...makes sense, as I consciously was letting the pistol
rotation absorb some of the recoil. Off to the range today
to see if my "Hollywood gun" and be retrained not to spit
casings on me with a firmer grip.
Cool Investment Department:
18% Per Year
for 10 Years?
On the 'bond' (CMO) I referenced Tuesday, a few people wanted
clarification, so let me wind and slog through the details:
The deal / AAA mezzanine CMO/bond started as $850-million 2.5
years ago,. That was 2,466 loans. Today the deal has
just over $620-million among 1621 loans. These are pay
option arms - so on day one they had just under 75% LTV values,
and now they are just under 82% LTV loans as people chose to pay
interest only in many cases (to keep the home).
If you just look at a single loan on a $500-thousand house, then
that loan typically started out as a $375,000 loan on a
$500,000-thousand house. And that borrower took the option
of doing a minimum payment, so that over the last 2 1/2 years,
that loans has gone up to $410,000. Still the same house.
LTV sliding up.
Now comes the situation where that loan is foreclosed. So
for the first few months, when the borrower isn't paying, the
servicer is actually advancing the money. That because
most borrowers get flaky once in a while, so that goes on for a
Then it turns out that borrower is never going to spay. So
the servicer starts the foreclosure process and along come a few
thousand in legal fees. And the servicer continues to
advance until the foreclosure is completed.. The servicer
may be on the hook for half a year of payments plus fees for
legal and the green pool guys.
Bottom line: Once this house hits the foreclosure bucket, and
the people get moved out, it then moves into the 'real estate
owned' (REO) bucket, that's what this deal had 21% of as it went
to the wall on Tuesday. So that's how the $621-million
slices and dices.
When we look at an individual loan, remember, these are going
up, and there may have been $10-thousand in taxes, payments,
insurance and such, so we did all that - so maybe $15,000 out of
Next the house goes on the market. Starts at $450 large
but it quickly becomes obvious it won't move. Eventually,
maybe it sells for $200-thousand. Major discount.
The 'deal' doesn't get the whole $200-thousand. Costs of
servicers, pool guys, and such, after all the bills, it's about
a 65% loss on the $410-thousand on a net of $144-thousand.
If we assume that 20% of the loans get foreclosed every year,
then that ends up with 88% of the pool getting foreclosed with
these kinds of horrible losses on each loan. Fortunately its a
3-year mess deal.
If we assume all of that, then this this bond which we offer
30-cents for each dollar of face value, then the yield will be
21% over the life of the bond.
Does the Bond Dude feel that 88% of the people with 700 credit
scores in California going to lose their homes in the five 1/2
years between 2006 and whenever? No. Anything better
than his worst case makes money for the company beyond his 21%
If only 83% get foreclosed, this bond yield pops to 28
1/2 percent. But, this begs the question, why would anyone
buy conventional corporate or stocks? Not when these kinds of
yields are out there. Believe me, the bond guys are hoping
for low default rates - it means a higher yield.
Knowing this you might go looking for a good real estate bond
game, but lotsa luck finding them. Big money can play, but
much harder for us 'little guys.'
Oh, and if you dig up one of the super senior bonds that sit
'over' the mezz level offerings, you might get the chance - as
they are out there - to lock up 18% for 10-years in a
deeply discounted a senior subordinated CMO.
And that class, is why the rich keep getting richer and why at a
certain level, a good wringing out is good for the fat cats ov
er in fixed incomes. Gotta know people and have real
With the 'summer of/from hell' repeatedly popping out of the
predictive linguistics for many months now, I've been keeping an
eye open for what I'd call "calamity fiction'.
In the days of the Cold War, there were calamity stories like
Nevil Shute's "On
the Beach", George Orwell's "1984"
and even calamity radio and movies if you count "War
of the Worlds".
So, when someone sent me a link to "Operation
SERF, Part 1" by Chris Sullins over at "of two minds..." I
thought you'd find it interesting.
Also worth pondering I suppose, as long as we're considering
'calamity fiction' suggests another reader, is whether there was
anything being programmed by the movie "Deep Impact" where a
very bright black president, Tom Beck, (played by Morgan
Freeman) led the USA through an ELE - extinction level event.
That email continued: "A few weeks ago, Big Lots began running
it's holiday television commercial. It features a "Courier and
Ives" style town. The mayor of the town is featured prominently.
The Mayor's sash has the word "Mayor" on it. The M-A-Y is larger
than the O-R...Maybe I'm just crazy...."
MAYbe...MAYbe not. But around here, we try not to pay too
much attention to calamity fiction. Calamitous reality is
quite scary enough lately. And that cup's at least
A grand reversal from the days of Admen: In the 1960's it
was common to see ads offering a toaster if you opened a new
Now making the rounds on the 'net:
"Buy a toaster: Get a bank..."
Send snip and save items to
--- end snip and save section ---
Tuesday December 2, 2008
Did I, or did I not, tell you to expect 'Smackdown Monday" about
this here time yesterday? And while there was some
flight to safety (like the Dow stocks are 'safe'? LOL), the
real story was not in the Dow's performance on Monday, but
in the broader indices such as the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ
Composite which both lost a tuna sandwich less than 9%.
Although the futures seem to point to a bit of a 'bounce' at the
open today, the linguistics about the first couple of weeks in
December, leading up to the 'twin quakes' around December 12, is
likely to be a really rough ride. And yes, that's why last
weekend's Peoplenomics report was titled "Fasten your seat belt:
Quake, Famine, and Anarchy". Just got to know where (and
when) to be looking.
But before venturing off into the linguistic hinterlands, and
while the coffee soaks in, let's first look at the little 'chart
problem' the Fed's back office is no doubt pondering if
the Dow were to close out the week about current levels:
While the market will no doubt rally early, at least based on
the futures, and we have no clue how much of that is really
puffed up money from the Plunge Protection Team pumped in
through Channel Island, Turks, and
GCM proxies to keep up the illusion that 'all's well...'
The astute reader of this site, assuming they have ignored our
previous dissing of paper 'assets' (ROFL), should keep in mind
two simple background points about now.
Background Point #1:
The market seems to be in an 'e' wave crash mode at the moment.
So, what do we expect? First, since most impulsive Elliott
Wave moves are five-step affairs, the action on Monday was
maybe step 1 down. If we bounce today (say 400 points)
that could be viewed as a 50% retracement for wave 2.
Putting a pencil to it, that would point to something like 8,500
on the Dow (plus or minus an order of linguini with clam sauce).
We all know that the third waves are often 1.5 to 2.5
times the decline of wave 1, so that would lead me to expect
from 8,500 a drop to 7,400 on the Dow in short order - maybe
even by the end of this week. Then a bounce, and then
maybe a test of Robin Landry's 7,200.
Landry's also been kind enough to previously share the insight
that 'crashes happen in the fifth wave' so could we collapse
through 7,200 and visit the next major support area - 5,800 - on
the Dow in coming weeks (before Christmas)? Oh sure - it's
possible. Not saying it's going to happen -
as I don't do 'investment advice' but the column a few weeks
back "Dow 4,000 by Christmas" has just gone up two clicks on the
We'll see how the market does today, because if we happen to get
another major leg down - like a drop of several hundred points
today, then I'd be getting very worried that the 4,000 range by
Christmas could be delivered as the planetary lump of coal for
bad little hedge fund managers.
My buddy CS in Atlanta sent this:
WAVE 5 of 3 has started, headed
to 5800 Dow, 597 SPX at a minimum, by December 12th
ATCH @1565 x .382 = 1597 EW wave
5 of 3 = .618 x waves 1 through 3 @ 596.33
Background Point #2:
Things ain't gonna get better any time soon based on the latest
conversation with The Bond Dude. You may recall his simple
explanation of how the real money in the investment world
works: It chases highest yields. If the yields in
the fixed income markets are low, money is driven into the
equities (stock) markets. When things are playing off like
crazy in fixed incomes, who needs stocks? (Apparently, not
many judging by the Monday action...).
"So what are you ,bidding?" I asked him - knowing that a 10%
fixed income yield would support a Dow P/E ratio or 10, while a
25% fixed income ratio would imply a Dow P/E of about 4, etc.
Turns out he had just priced a 2-year old mortgage bond.
For this particular bond, which started as a pool of about 500
mortgages in 2006, there are 410 mortgages left in it after
foreclosures and such - or, to look at it from the homeowner
perspective, 21% of the homes involved are in foreclosure or are
already in the REO column (real estate owned - by bank repo
The way he's looking at this bond, over the life of the bond
85% of the mortgages will be foreclosed or end up REO.
No, this is not so-called 'toxic waste'. This is
mezzanine AAA 69% California pay option ARM with an underlying
82% LTV which will likely go for somewhere between 25-35% on the
From the fixed income perspective, with 85% of the mortgages
turning bad over the life of the bond, the discount has to be
such that if the remaining homes are sold for $315,000, the
'after expenses' net would have to return money to the Bond
Dudes (or Dudettes) that take the large risks now.
Of course there's just the one little fly in the ointment:
If the yield on such (admittedly risky) deals pops up over 30%
(and it is happenings) then that implies a stock
market P/E ration of less than 4.
If we guesstimate - just for the purposes of discussion - that
at current prices, the S&P P/E is 15 (go do your own research,
this is a ballpark) then the S&P over the next year could
decline to something like whatever one-third of Monday's
closing 816 is. (S&P 270 - do I have to do everything
around here???) And the Dow could fall to whatever
a third of 8,149 is. (Dow 2,690 - sheesh...)
Think this is a crazy outlook from some nutter in the
East Texas outback, cowering due to the imminent breakdown on
civility out there in six-figure corporate road warrior land?
But, if the deterioration is severe enough that
the US Military is looking at deploying 20,000 troops in the USA
over the next two years, seems I may not be the only
'nutter'. Sure, it wreck Posse Comitatus, but federal troops for
security and appointment coupons to visit a bank - those kind of
things would not surprise me the least - if we all make it to
2011, but that's another discussion.
"Why would you talk about 'coupons to visit banks?" you're
How's your Icelandic? Mine's not really good...p*ss poor
is closer to it, but even at this hour I can figure out what "IJslanders
bestormen centrale bank in Reykjavik..." (Helps to
have the predictive linguistic spiders reading a few terabytes
of data daily, jah?)
When the Amerikanishers start to bestormen here you'll
fer sure want to have 20,000 troops to keep things straight.
Not that it will work mind you, but we're hearing the
rumbles and from a policy perspective it makes sense.
Far as we can reckon, the winning hand to hold - and the one
we'll be working on for the next couple of weekends for
Peoplenomics.com subscribers is getting far, far ahead of events
by voluntarily entering [bogslife].
Since statistically, the odds are very small that you subscribe
www.halfpasthuman.com predictive linguistics runs, [bogslife]
means (beyond organization/government systems).
Or, to put it more bluntly (as you may still be shaking off the
effects of the overnight coma: If you missed being a hippy and
living on a commune in the 60's or 70's - you may get your
chance yet. Such self-organizing collectives may be your
best chance to 'keep it together' over the next couple of years,
although it may not become obvious u8ntil we get to the 'summer
of hell' in 2009.
And yes, to bring things full circle, a Dow under 3,000 would
sure fit the bill. Or, also a possibility, a Dow right
where it is right now but with a 100% annual inflation rate
would also do the trick.
Folks laughed when I bought $365 gold, too.
Already, the predictive linguistics crowd is seeing bogslife
behind increasing headlines - just most 'average' folks can't
wrap their minds around the concept. That is what
makes them average, though, I suppose. But from the
'gettin it' crowd:
"A few Predictive Linguistics matches ....
New York Times:
At a “cohousing” project planned for Fort Greene, Brooklyn,
the residents will share all decisions and some meals.
CNN - Global Coastal event:
Scientists have identified new rifts on an Antarctic ice
shelf that could lead to it breaking away from the Antarctic
Foxnews - Retasking of foreclosed properties:
Miami Activist Moves Homeless Into Foreclosed Homes "
Dawn of life in the bogs.
Not that the HPH team is the only group out there sniffing out
words and concepts on the 'net.
"Bailout," "change" crowned the words of 2008 as figured by the
When the word 'rescue' started (absurdly) appearing around the
word 'bailout', you might remember that in a
search, 'rescue' was being used only 18% of the time.
Since we haven't update this metric for a while, the current
Google cache is 135,041 returns for bailout while rescue pops in
with 164,129. Which is to say 'rescue' is now being used
54.86% of the time - a HUGE increase from first use tracking.
I understand that the 'word use' spin around network news center
is not put in writing - it just comes as 'calls from upstairs.'
And who's calling the folks 'upstairs' I'll leave it to you to
figure out. But I've personally talked to folks who get
those calls. Ain't no 'spin-free zone'. Without
'media control' even at a gross word-use level, the stability of
the PowersThatBe could be threatened and we can't have that
now, can we?
So that's a 'big picture' look at how things are working behind
the pabulum dished down from space to the Cyclops in the rec
room. Dandy, huh?
to Be Left
(Oh, a delicious triple entendre...yum.) Seems as the
neocons are upshifting in Washington to a new regime, the
Canadians are going through something of a right wing boot, too,
with prime minister Harpo headed oot...eh hoser?
Happen Here? Department
"Court ruling brings down Thai government" for what?
Electoral fraud. Say, you don't think.....naw.....
Map on the ACLU web site -
where government don't need no stinking warrants...
Bio attack likely in the next five years..." We're
more worried about next week, frankly, but still...
Car Crash Goes
Reader in Oz tells us:
"Over here in Australia, there is a bonanza if you want a
new car. GM Money and GMAC are pulling out of auto financing
in this country on December 31 and dealers can't refinance
floor stock. Volvo offered my wife free fuel, free servicing
and free on roads for the next 3 years if she trades this
month! Was told yesterday that 50 dealerships in Melbourne,
Victoria are set to close New Years eve!"
While the auto brass are back on knee pads on Capitol (or is
that capital?) Hill, the
Auto workers are planning an emergency meetings on the bailout.
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So, what is inflation...really...
I check the site
http://www.minneapolisfed.org/index.cfm daily to
see the magical new inflated dollar when all these trillions
are realized,. I just found today a few other sites that are
showing an increase. They may be calculating differently.
Can we verify which is correct?
on the fed site, one dollar in
1913 is worth 21.78 in 2008
on the other sites below it is
now showing 21.88 in 2008
Also, did you notice on the
Minneapolis Web site Christine Roemer - recent Keynesian
economics advisor appointment by Obama?
Enjoying your site daily, wish I
had know about you before this year - "
Answer to the first question is easy: These different
outfits likely use different time periods for their
calculations. In the case of US government agencies, I
would expect them to use fiscal year data, which means they
would be into FY 2009, using FY 2008 in the mix. I expect
the Fed (which is NOT federal, contrary to what they like to
infer/mislead based on their web address, etc, and no they are
not civil servants in either meaning of the word
'civil'...except maybe for the Fed Chairman - which is
called in from the banksters on the sidelines, who goes through
an 'approval' process but don't know anyone has ever been turned
down (research question?) likely uses the calendar year, which
means their calculator has (at least in past years) been updated
in the February- March period in the new year.
Keynesian economics, don't get me started. If you
start talking about long wave cycles in the economy, most
economists get a
clot in their Juglar if you venture beyond the 11-year cycle
that has been more or less forced on them by data.
Speaking of economic genius, you saw the
Bureau of Economic Research just yesterday figured out
that economic activity peaked in this country in December 2007
and things have been sliding ever since? Where were
these people in, oh, say July of 2008 when the market was
clawing its way to a last fake-out peak? But I digress...
Paribas, the reason I hold folks like
Peter Eliades in
such high regard is that they have the good (and uncommon) sense
to look at economics as something that doesn't necessarily fit
inside an 11-year box. Any damn fool can see there are
longer cycles in the economy:
And whether your longer wave of choice is
Kondratiev, or the forthcoming L Cycle work from
(on 'the consumption economy'), or even the 1930's
description of the beginning of the automotive cycle ("Hard
Times - the way in, the way out" by Robert Ely of
Northwestern University), the point is that economists who are
looking at the big picture don't generally see that they are
almost always standing on a 'slippery slope'.
Thus, while we're standing on the front end of a major economic
depression, the same mistakes of the early 1930's are being
repeated in quadraphonic sound and high def: The economy
is best I can tell, in non-linear mode. As
such, old-fashioned, linearism thinking is not going to
That's something I have warned of for how long is it?
11 years now?
So what's the option? Assume that the 'best and brightest'
are gong to screw things up again. Then, make your own
plan. If you were a financial services worker in 1929,
getting a little paid for place in the country made perfect
sense. It's why Five Acres and Independence: A Handbook for Small Farm Management
has sold far more copies than probably 90% of economics books.
It's a plan and it worked. And it's why I am writing
13-Acres and the Internet, a chapter at a time for
While I wish Ms Roemer all the luck in the world, if she's a
typical Keynesian, we're all hopelessly screwed. As I've
said before, if you need more than 3-4 formulas to explain
economics, you're living the illusionary life in Quant Land,
which is right between Frontier Land and Adventure Land in the
economic Mickey Mouse cosmology of things.
Paper money always collapses. The only issue is how
long it takes.
Meantime, we're building bogslife and updating our own version
of 5-Acres and Independence.
The 'Free Lunch' Debate
Several readers have resumed the 'poison pen' emails because, as
I reported yesterday, when I modeled my 2008 tax bill in
TurboTax, I told you how the 'economic stimulus package which
sent married folks a $1,200 check ($600 for single filers) was
nothing more than a tax-free 9-month loan designed to snooker
people into spending money they did not have. Here's a
You're wrong on the rebate.
Turbotax asks you if your received a rebate so that it won't
claim it again.
It was free printing press
money, not an interest free loan.
I think you're conspiracy mind
is so whacked out paranoid, you can't think straight
"LOL… Good one! It was a loan
because I have to pay it back as an increased
liability on my 1040 long form! They're using me
to flood newly 'invented' money into the system to cause
systemic inflation. Criminees sakes!
Look: I put in my estimated
numbers and claim zero rebate. I get one tax number due.
I put in the same info and admit
that we got the $1,200 and guess what? The tax bill goes up
Semantically it can be argued:
A. George’s tax bill went UP
compared because he already got (back) $1,200 in 2008 and is
therefore paranoid for seeing it as an interest-free ‘loan’
from…himself! George describes himself as an ‘economic
B. Your tax bill went UP because
you already got (back) $1,200 in 2008 and is therefore
brainwashed for believing anything OTHER than it was all a
smoke & mirrors scam to get him to spend his own money in
advance… You would be described as an ‘unquestioning
American”. You'll pay it back cheerfully and without
questioning the perps.
C. Bottom Line:
Government never GAVE anything to anyone. It was a
three-card-Monte calendar trick with our own money ROFL…if
you ain't gettin' my point, too bad..."
Other readers see if this (more or less 'offishul' way:
Just wanted to point out what's
actually going on with TurboTax and the rebate.
> Surprise, surprise: If you got
the "rebate" - sure as I told you > would happen - they add
$1,200 of tax liability onto your return.
Having purchased TurboTax over
the weekend, I was confused by this and messed around with
it quite a bit before I realized what was going on. Enter
all of your information with the rebate set to $0 and go
over the numbers. Now go back and enter a $1,200 rebate for
last year. Your tax liability seems to increase by $1,200,
but only because TurboTax eliminates the $1,200 credit it
had been adding in (since you would still be eligible for
that stimulus credit this year if you hadn't gotten it last
year). Getting the credit last year doesn't add $1,200 of
tax liability onto your return--you just lose the $1,200
credit that you would get this year had you not gotten it
> It was a government
interest-free LOAN designed to con you into > spending money
you didn't have and now you get to pay it back when you >
file your 2008 return.
I always read your updates with
great interest and value your perspective and analysis, but
with all due respect, that is simply not the case.
Big-picture, you're absolutely right: the stimulus is
anything but free money. I said then and I maintain now that
it's fiscally irresponsible foolishness. But getting it last
year does not increase your tax liability this year, other
than in the sense that by getting it then you can't get it
Damn semantics! It does increase my tax liability - I HAVE
TO PAY IT BACK! Pay a further liability! Anyone's a
damn fool to take this kinda crap - including me.
I see a really simple line between 'economic stimulus' and 'con
job'. In the former, you get some lasting benefit
while in the latter, you get a tax-free loan and must
pay it back.
However, since so many people think a 'tax-free loan' is a grand
Nancy Pelosi and the taxicrats/democorps and republicorp
are already conniving how to do it again but this time
with $500-billion. It will look, to simple-minded folks
like "Gee, we're getting something from government.." except
that come tax-time in 2010, if you take the bait, you'll have to
pay it back to Uncle.
With friends like these who needs elections?
Send snip and save items to
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Monday December 1, 2008
The Dow looks to open down about 200 points today, but if that's
the extent of losses by the end of the week, I'd count it as
something of a miracle. Things are not going well in the
world's financial markets and the end of year selling is ramping
up, hedge funds are getting ready for end of quarter
withdrawals, and in Russia,
the communists are figuring to use the financial crisis
deepening there, too, as a tool to regain power.
Just to make a point about how crazy the world of debt is, look
at the headline that "Hedge
Fund Manager Hendry Bets on Deflation with U.K. War Loans."
As you read into the story, you awaken to the idea that the debt
involved is from World War One - that's how fine the Brits are
at pushing paper about. But not just any paper:
gilts, known as perpetuals because they have no maturity
date, have a coupon of 3.5 percent compared with the
U.K.’s 4.5 percent inflation rate. Investors hold about 1.9
billion pounds ($2.9 billion) of the securities that still
pay interest 90 years after the end of the Great War,
according to the U.K.’s Debt Management Office."
In a grand way, the British are behind much of the world's
inflation disease the way I've got it figured. At a
minimum, they are certainly not gilt-free.
Despite the world dropping into a global recession - not my
but that of a UN group - the Mid East Oilers are talking
holding oil in the $70-$90 range so a possible production cut
looms for the December 17th OPEC meeting.
American consumer tightening is also starting to be felt in
China, where manufacturing has declined by the most on record.
While UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is saying that the 'recession
must not lead to human crisis' it strikes me as much the
same thing as arguing against gravity. This is one that
won't be banished with a few trite calls for 'bold and effective
The facts are pretty simple: 6% of world population
consumers 25% of resource and 'pays' for it with paper that has
nothing tangible behind it other than a promise to convert to a
new kind of paper at some point.
That's not a recipe for a 'recession' even if global in nature.
Nor, may at stop at 'depression' although you will want to read
Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008" by Paul
Krugman reviewed by Brad DeLong in the L.A. Times.
Nope there's a word beyond depression on the economic scale
that's not even being talked about yet. The word is
'die-off.' It's what happens when you have a global
depression that takes out food and other necessities.
People simply die-off.
While the first week of December promises more economic thrills,
and then we get into the twin earthquakes of mid December, out
at the longer view toward the horizon, there are these four
As I told
www.peoplenomics.com subscribers on Sunday, I anticipate
that in the wake of the attacks in India that not only will
India go with a DHS-styled internal security force, but this
also sets/builds on the premise that there should be some kind
of 'world police force" to fight "terrorism". This
morning, I'm sad to report, that the traditional bar on
deploying military forces on US soil seems now headed for the
scrap heap of history as the Washington Post Headlines in this
morning's editions that "Pentagon
to Detail Troops to Bolster Domestic Security."
While I don't claim to be a good student of American history, I
do know the basic Constitutional guarantees and the right to
keep and bear arms is one of them. In a world where there
are plenty of threats, why owning a gun for defensive purposes
should be considered 'dangerous' is absurd.
Once government is given an inch, they seem inclined to take a
mile. Evidence of this is especially true when it comes to
the Second Amendment rights as it's been revealed that
Delaware's use of occasional 'superchecks' into gun owner
histories may have been illegal. In effect, the state
may have accessed supposedly confidential medical histories of
folks, and in some cases apparently, confiscated firearms based
on what amounted to an unauthorized intrusion into privacy.
The gun control issue is not going away. With a change of
administrations in coming weeks, there has been (probably
justified concern) that the new Obama administration will act to
restrict or ban the ownership of guns of certain calibers.
There's more to it, of course, and a read of what's available on
the net - like " Why
Gun Sales are Booming" - are good background.
The Brady Center has issued a report titled "Brady
Background Checks: Fifteen years of saving lives" that
should also be on your reading list, but seems to me that
hasn't stopped events like the Virginia Tech Massacre from
occurring. In such a case, just one holder of a concealed
weapon (and permit) could have scaled down the size of the
Nevertheless, there seems likely to be - in the wake of
recent events in India - another round of misinformation and
'legislating' on the horizon to 'deal with' guns, especially
what are commonly called 'black guns' as many 'sport utility
rifles' like my coyote gun (which happens to be black and shoots
7.62 X 39) are. Am I using an "assault weapon"? I
imagine the local Coyote Protection Association might claim
that, but as the National Shooting Sports Foundation says:
statistics demonstrate that the miniscule use of so-called
"assault weapons" in crime (less than 1 percent)
continued to decrease after the ten-year ban expired in 2004
and their manufacturing and sales resumed.
Another study, commissioned by
Congress, found "the banned weapons and magazines were never
used in more than a modest fraction of all gun murders."
The report also noted that
so-called "assault weapons" were "rarely used in gun crimes
even before the ban."
Similarly, anti-gun folks seem to get worked up over certain
calibers like the
.50 BMG used in a few long range weapons. Most
crime in America, hate to tell you, is committed by thugs who
have no clue about long range shooting. I'll take 'missed
by a .50' over 'hit with a .22' any time...
For that matter, street crime perps don't seem to have very good
taste in weapons. My
example, tends to throw spent cartridges back into my face when
using a standard double-handed shooting grip, where my
Ruger P-85 doesn't. All I can figure is that my Ruger
is not a "Hollywood gun". They both shoot snakes equally
well, however, and both produce a nice 4" pattern from the
10-yard line on our pistol range.
In addition to fear of certain calibers, anti-gun folks
periodically trot out things like the "laser serial numbers" on
bullets idea, as in
a November 26 note from Right Side News. Again, best I
can tell, this would be one of those well-intended but easily
circumvented ideas. Catch shell casings, leave no
The issue continues to crop up in big cities - and we expect to
lots of headlines around Seattle's upcoming discussion of
whether guns should be banned from city property including parks
attacks in India have exposed the vulnerabilities of luxury
hotels. But they've done something else, too:
They've set up a discussion about how much military presence
should be allowed on American home soil and it has reignited
debate over disarming the civilian population on the theory
that government can provide all -- including adequate security.
Stand by for the international police force to follow on the
pretext of 'protecting' folks.
911 Minus 8
Can't help but notice that automaker
Porsche is taking off 8-days, while Volkswagen is taking off
three weeks. "This as
US automakers take their knee pads back to Capitol Hill for
another round of begging for mercy and money...
With the December 10 -15 date range for the twin quakes fast
approaching, we are seeing a couple of areas to keep an eye on.
the Arkansas quakes a week back which starts the words "New
Madrid" welling up, and there's the central California action
over the weekend...4.1
SE of Fresno and a
5.8 in the
Pacific west of Eureka.
The Associated Press, the news coop that's been around nearly
forever is about to get some competition from
CNN which is promising a cheap wire service to newspapers.
Hasn't anyone mentioned to these folks that papers which cut
down trees are shortly to become dinosaurs? You mean they
are already? Is there no one besides us who can spell
accused by Catholic cleric of corrupting children's minds".
Say, you don't think the Abbott of Worth would have some
thoughts on what Wall Street and Fleet Street have done to the
minds of adults, do you?
on mice links fast food to Alzheimer's" gets us to thinking:
Seems a 'diet rich in fat, sugar, and cholesterol could increase
the risk of the most common type of dementia.' So, how
many cases could be eliminated by ending national holidays where
most all of us hit the rich foods a bit hard?
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A Trust Government Lesson
Speaking of 'trust' in government, I fired up the new TurboTax
2008 to model what we need to do before the end of this tax
year. One of the very first questions asked in the
software was what?
"Did you get a rebate last year?"
There's a default that can be changed if it was something other
than $1,200 for a couple or $600 for a single filer.
Surprise, surprise: If you got the "rebate" - sure as I
told you would happen - they add $1,200 of tax liability onto
I can't count the number of people who tried to convince me last
year that I was wrong while covering rebates: "George, you've
got it wrong...this is free money!" or words to that effect.
But, now that I've got the TurboTax 2008 program, I can tell you
for sure that if you got the $1,200 "rebate" that it was not a
'rebate' at all. It was a government
interest-free LOAN designed to con you into spending money you
didn't have and now you get to pay it back when you file your
2008 return. If you got laid off, or the plans to refi
the house are now a crack-dream, toughsky you-know-whatsky.
Like I've told you before: If you voted republicorp or democorp,
you're part of the problem...
Nice to see that the NY Times recently got around to asking in a
Ben Stein column "What
if a Slowdown is a Never-Ending Story?" Nice of them
to ask. Look up
www.dieoff.org for clues.
Although it doesn't show up in the predictive linguistics work
until about mid-spring of 2009, we have to look at the headlines
out of Venice that water is knee-deep in their worst flooding in
22-years and ask "Is this a precursor event?" Ask me next
year at this time.
Send snip and save items to
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Once upon a time, a long while ago, I observed during my quest for
'truth' in economics, that the PowersThatBe, 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.