A One Man Economic Daily Newspaper about the Second Depression in near real-time...
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February 18, 2011 09:20 AM CST
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Yes: Silver was Confiscated, Too
A couple of readers took me to task on this point, so pay close attention here.
Well, most people haven't, unless, of course, they have really, really, really studied the Great Depression. And yes. Silver was confiscated. And no, I don't generally get that sloppy!
So - if you think I've been joking about splitting money between precious metals, producing farm land and bonds, there's the (rather harsh) reminder of why.
But thanks for all the emails. And not all the lifeboats on the Titanic are as sound as you might have heard.
Wisconsin: Wrong Battle
Don't mean to be picky here, but in yesterday's column, what I wrote was that up in Wisconsin, "...guv Scott Walker is threatening to use National Guard Troops if necessary."
No, I didn't say he was going to call them out to quell protesters. I said "if necessary" alright, but not for what.
A couple of readers wrote that I was supporting the wrong side on this, but no, I wasn't supporting either. Notwithstanding, a reader sent in this:
Well, the governor was threatening to use National Guard troops to carry out the job functions of people who were staying off work, but if people show up in sufficient numbers (Egypt-style) to really impede the operation of state government, you get the picture.
FWIW I consider it successful writing when people from both sides of the argument send me 'bitch notes' about my reporting of this, or that. Truth of things is usually a little from one side, and a bit from the other... or in this case, completely out of the limelight of a full-on MainStreamMedia Frenzy.
Another reader sent this:
How about some clear-headed thinking?
Look: I've been a "union man" in my working career (IAM 751 in Seattle, journey R&E mechanic way back when) and I really appreciate what unions have done for working people. The forty-hour workweek, employer provided healthcare, good pension plans, and so on.
I've also been on the management side: "How can we cut healthcare costs, how can we get more done in 40-hours, let's not have a pension plan..."
What BOTH SIDES are failing to acknowledge is the true source of the problem. Which is what? (Repeat after me!)
Wisconsin is a Crooked Money Showdown
Amazingly, almost no one is presenting it in this like.
Fact: Since 1913, the purchasing power of American dollars has been watered down to where it only buys 4½ ¢ worth of goods. And you know where the rest has gone? DEBT. State DEBT, Federal DEBT, Consumer DEBT, Credit Card DEBT...and all of this in the process of stealing an entire generation's retirement and (look surprised here) People in Wisconsin just happen to be waking up to this and are seriously pissed.
Then comes the vagabond media (we're in sweeps right now, by the way) and they toss all kinds of invective on the simmering problem without calling out the SOB's who set up constantly watered down paper instead of hard money which would be convertible to gold, silver, or so many BTU's of energy - as being the underlying cause.
Instead, we're living in a country where the half-thinking media manages to make fun of Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwean hyperinflation yet can't see us starting up the same damnable hockey stick curve - which will bring with it? The same (inevitable outcome) here in the Good Old U.S. of A.
Fact: Interest compounds - but wages don't. Over time this causes Depressions. Get with it...is this really so hard to figure?
Not just in Zimbabwe but here in the USA.
So people wrap themselves up emotionally in republicorp, democorp, or Tea Party togas and go marching into Rome, or one of it's modern-day outposts - Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria, or Wisconsin...and they seem to think (thanks to media hype) that the crooks who set up watered-down money somehow aren't to blame.
Trillion-something of additional federal spending? No problem, as long as 'I get mine..." crap? Makes me sick.
The CPI Sham Revealed (Again, and again, and...)
A reader in Ireland says people need to look at the MIT Billion Prices Project which shows (if you care to think, and that may only be the both of us) that as of 1/1/2011, the billion prices index was at 101.1223 and as of Wednesday of this week it was 102.454.
That's 1.3317% inflation (for everything in the US) in about 47-days. Which means what?
Well, given there are 7.7659... 47-day periods in a year, we can set our inflation expectations presently on at least 10.34%.
But wait! Where the job growth to support that kind of inflation? Sadly: There is none.
And that's why this morning, I regret to inform you (again, admittedly) that the whole paper-money economy goes through periodic episodes of collapse and yes, boys and girls, this really is the Second Depression.
Just like the first one, the old right/left/socialist/fascist politics is being hauled out to get you to choose up sides and become a partisan in a rigged game. Wrong battle. Way off base.
Fact: The creation of money out of thin air in problem #1. It waters down the honest money, pure and simple, all the fancy formulas and secret spells of central banksters aside.
Problem #2 is when financial products invent "Interest on Interest".
Problem #3 (which also guarantees a nonlinear bad ending, in case you don't see where this is going) is when financial product are evolved which promise "Interest on Interest on Interest."
Think Warren Buffett is smart? (as well as Charlie Munger, of course...). Did they buy derivatives for Berkshire? Nope. Bought a railroad. There's a huge clue there about how to preserve wealth over time, maybe?
Historical Fact: No way in hell can any economy survive compounding on interest, but compounding wages paid to working people....the two lines over time - as my friend Ehor and I worked out in early 2001 when we described the Debtberg.
This one little problem (compound interest versus non-compounded wages) was something I must have missed in Ben Bernanke's book Essays on the Great Depression.
Gotta watch them assumptions, huh? And, of course, all the blather during fed nomination confirmation hearings don't bother asking those kind of hard questions because, after all, the participants all eat from the same trough!
Five financial-product-related lobbyists for each member of the House and Senate.
You think anyone inside the Beltway has the balls to question the underlying systemic assumptions which have necessary and unavoidable outcomes over time once the assumptions require one curve be compound and the other stays linear?
Hell no! That just isn't going to happen. What's going on globally now is best described as the "World-Ending Battle of Divergent Asymptotes."
The IMF plan to set up an Special Drawing Rights basket of currencies? Only works until all the asymptotes diverge. Then, it too blows up.
Only way out of the box? Managed repudiation of Debt or another "terrorist" event to perpetuate the charade for another round. Simple as that.
Now that we see Wisconsin has hit the (previously hypothetical) Debtberg, and they're all running to the high side of the ship by trying to demand change from people who can only resort (and barely) to small changes in our future.
As with any ship of State that hits a Debtberg, the damage was done long ago and below the waterline. If we're to save the ship at all, need to look down underwater where the hole is.
Eventually, that happens, and when it does, gold and silver got confiscated last time around. And the "cure" also required a world war to destroy enough production in order to lay the foundation for another wild rise of the economy.
But just because it has worked so far, doesn't mean it can continue.
As people wake up and see that the wages aren't compounding at the rate of debt, and that a periodic re-leveling of the two means debt repudiation and all the pain that comes with that truly is the only solution - and with a serious rethinking of the debt-based economy in a world where wages aren't also compounding...well you can see the writing on the wall.
Wisconsin is part of GlobalRev. And if you thought the Great Depression of the 1930's was bad, stick around a few months.
America's a land of (mostly) honest and hard-working people; when there's work. The way I have it figured, honest people deserve honest money which means money not watered down and a system that's not designed to full the wealth to the borrowers when it should be going to the savers.
So don't mind me...just because silver hit $32 overnight and gold's apparently headed back above $1,400. Why did I buy a gold coin in 2001? Because this is all plain as day with a few punches of a calculator.
This is my contention: The budget battle in Wisconsin if over the wrong problem. People are fighting over pieces of an ever-shrinking pie and they just can't seem to get through their heads that the pie itself is actually getting smaller....and faster all the time....to where now, no matter how big the shares of pie get, relative to other partiers, very soon indeed there won't be any pie left. It's still shrinking.
In B-schools, we call this long wave economics. Or, crooked money, depending on how many degrees you have and if you own a bank.
Two other notes:
OK, three then: The Saudis are getting worried about this GlobalRev stuff.
Remember this: History always comes around. Which is what makes this such a fun ant farm to live in.
The Birthers have new hope: The Supreme Court has scheduled a conference on the Obama eligibility question.
Since the Court is the last defender of paradigm, don't hold your breath.
Corporate Bucks Seize Net
The notion that "all packets were created equal" is about to get tossed out thanks to big money in Washington.
My, but the corporate right investments are paying off, aren't they?
Rockin' Quake, Arkansas
Much more tomorrow for Peoplenomics.com subscribers....
(more after this...)
Friday at the WuJo
Coping: The Case of the Missing Vise
First, the usual explanatory note for new readers: What we call the WuJo around here is where "shared/objective reality" gets out on the mat of mental martial arts with things from the world of "woo-woo" in this dojo-like construct of words. We adhere to strict rule of behavior on the mat, and surprisingly, conclusions are few and mysteries many.
Elaine had screwed up: She let me out of the house for a quick run to town to drop off an HF SSN amplifier - an old Heathkit SB-200 - that I had been checking out for the ham club. I met a fellow club member - we'll call him Bob - at the clubhouse at exactly 11:55 AM.
The usual chit-chat and then on to Lowes to pick up some supplies for the never-ending task of turning a 1989 double-wide modular into something that's becoming more and more like a museum-like series of dioramas... not to mention a big sheet of 'ground cloth' to put down on the greenhouse floor to make sure we don't have weeds there....great fun.
So there I am in Lowes and I'm going through the store. On my way to the welding supplies (needed some tips for 0.035 MIG wire welding, don't ask) I noticed that vises were on sale.
"Hmmm, I could sure use that adjustable suction-mounted little vise on my electronics bench...it's be just the thing to hold subassemblies and such...plus I'd be able to get it unstuck and out of the way to work on a piece of gear...." I mused.
Picked the thing up, hefted it, noted the price ("$21.95...yeah that's not out of line...") and even that it said "Bessie" on the side of it... "Why that was my grandmother's name on dad's side of the family....huh...."
Hefted it - not too heavy, not too like. "Sure, what the hell, go for it..." Popped it into the cart.
And with that I was off to the tile department (colored grout) by way of the Dremel tool accessory kit on sale department and from there to the garden section...and then on to checkout via the garden department.
Now, you need to know that checkout is something I do almost unconsciously. I simply put whatever is in the cart onto the checkout stand and double-check everything is out, since I've set off the electronic Gestapo system if I inadvertently (absent-mindedly?) missed something small in the past.
Oh! I also vaguely remember putting it on the counter, too.
Cart was empty.
$80-dollars later, I'm out the door, pop the bag (heavy) of goodies and the ground cloth into the pick-em-truck and off I went.
Got home 20-minutes later, wondered idly "I should just take Elaine the grout and other stuff...I'll leave the bag with the Dremel kit and the vice in the truck to make carrying it to my office easy...
As I start to rummage through the contents for Elaine's stuff, it slowly dawns on me there is no vise in the bag. "Well, damn, ain't that strange?"
I looked on the floor of the truck ("Maybe it fell down...") and I looked under the seat and so on...but - look surprised here - no vise.
Checked the receipt which was in my shirt pocket. No vise listed.
"Well, now how the hell did this happen?" I wondered.
Made a mental note to mention it to you. Don't know how many other people have had this experience, but there is only one logical conclusion here.
The vise must have been left unchecked on the check-out counter. Except, of course it wasn't, since I was very careful to make sure the counter was clear for the lady behind me who was buying some small plants.
All of which gets me back to that ongoing conversation we've had in the past - you know - the one where we talk about slipping into parallel dimensions where things are almost/nearly-like this one, except one prominent detail pops out as somehow markedly different.
Maybe I'm getting old (and the brain is starting to misfire on the wrong side of 62, or something) but this one was a fo-sho stumper. But you're my witness on this one:
I ordered a smaller (large alligator clips type) off Amazon this morning, but it got me to thinking "Wonder how many other people put things into their grocery/shopping carts and find later that something's not there?" Its this another one of those "hidden in plain sight" clues that the future is a lot more malleable than we ever noticed before?
Full moon, wild dreams last night. Don't know about others, but when the moon is full, both Raline & I are restless, get up, have munchies, difficulty sleeping.
Also tend to get FMWD's - full moon, wild dreams - and been thinking about tabulating dreams versus moon phases over at my www.mationaldreamcenter.com site.
Some people debate whether full moons have any impact of people thinking processes and behaviors, but no, well-known among police, EMT's and emergency room crews...
Birthday Weekend, Revised
Good news and bad about our planned 'birthday weekend escape' to Houston this weekend. Mainly, I got to pondering what a decent hotel and a series of meals out, plus the cost of the trip for gas would be: In the hundreds and that's before going shopping along the way.
Nope. Too much to do on the greenhouse, yard, house. Besides the weather has been just damn near ideal outdoor work weather, so why would we blow that? High in the low 70's, lows in the mid to low 60's and enough wind, but not too much. Toss in a modest overcast for light dispersal and you've got wonderful weather.
So Mr. Skinflint postponed the adventure.
On the other hand, our now-Indonesia Bureau Chief, former our Houston Bureau, sent us a nice list of places in Oil Town to chow down, since I'd asked him if there was anything like my all-time favorite restaurant in the world, 13 Coins in Seattle, down in the Houston area:
So I've got the info...and until I get the greenhouse packed, the garden planted, the rifle and pistol ranges cleaned up, several big burn piles down, oh - did I mention cleaning up the shop, too? - the trip will wait.
Since every place is air conditioned, maybe in a month or three when the great work-outside weather has been replaced with the annual oppressive heat.
Provided, of course, that we're not shoveling Global Warming in June.
Now, where's I put that birthday of mine....I know its around here somewhere...
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Geocaching 101: Famine, Disorder, & the Livingston-Penn Minimum
"Dude! There's no way we can feed the whole planet! We've got that freeze in Mexico which will hit US food prices inside 45 days, we've got Australia offline, Brazil offline, part of Africa, China's got drought and they are upping their grain purchases through the roof!" Doesn't anyone have any idea how serious this is? I know you know this but how can you get people to see it?" Not sure we can, but since we're still ahead of the problem we start with the latest on an emergent new solar minimum, back that up to how that heralds famine, and then back to planning your exit should mobility mean staying alive.
If your computer runs slowly, you may have a problem with cookies. These little code snippets are how some websites (and spyware) recognize you, track your movement on the web and so forth. Here lately, as new class of super cookies has been evolved by the admen (and worse) that are resistant to normal cookie deletions through your browser's interface. Flash cookies, persistent cookies, and super cookies...all easily managed with the Maxa Research Cookie Manager.
Take it for a test drive by clicking here - and it you like it, activation is easily done. If you're a heavy web user (who ain't?) you may find like I do that you've accumulating a hundred or more cookies per day. Only a handful need to be white-listed, like your brokerage account or your bank. The rest? Software designed to spy on you that robs you of computer performance. Been using it for several years and pleased as the Dickens with it.
The "Do Drop Inn"
Amazing gardens in about 2 square feet of floor space: www.mygroponics.com
Post your weird dreams to help our research along:
"Live on $10,000" A Year
Having a hard time making ends meet? (Like who isn't, right?) A good starting point to better match up income with outgo is our $10 e-book "How to Live on $10,000 a Year...or less!"
It's an automatic download. It's written in an information dense style: The whole thing runs about 65 pages, but it gives you a vision of how to not only live on the cheap, but also how to migrate up the economic foodchain if you have a little hustle left. A bonus section called "How to Build Anything" should instill confidence if you've never taken on a home improvement/home creation project before, too..... Click here for the index and details.
Pass It On
Please pass along word of this site to your friends by simply clicking here to send 'em a short email. - Thanks!
Thursday February 17, 2011
CPI: Miracle Economics Continues
I know what you're thinking: If the Producer Price Index for finished goods is multiplied out for the whole past year -- and it shows prices out the factory door was up an average of 3.6 % - (My math said 3.75%) then how can consumer prices be any less than this on an annualized basis at the retail level?"
OK, take a deep breath and read this morning's Consumer Price (joke) report:
All of which is not to say the figures are wrong...they just leave us with certain...er...questions about how come prices can be [alleged] to be moving up so much slower than out-the-factory-door prices?
However, let's look at gasoline, just to broaden our inquiry a bit. The CPI report claims gasoline prices are up 13.4% Year-on-Year.
Triple A says (and I trust them implicitly) says a year ago regular was averaging $2.608 and that a month ago (to line up the Triple A study and the BLS study calendar wise) was running $3.10 a gallon.
Call me thick-headed, but:
OK, the fact is that the culprit which may explain how the prices can go up slower in one report than the other is diesel. It's up only 10.39%....but premium gas is up 20% according to Triple A. And even mid-grade gas was up 18.88% in Triple A's work.
Sop here's what I want you to do this morning when you go out to your car. I want you to pop the hood...because at least statistically there's a damn good chance someone from the Labor Department yanked your gas-burning engine and shoveled a diesel under the hood when you weren't looking.
Because any other conclusion would mean outright manipulation of the data in order to hold wage hikes, retirement pay, and social security benefits at artificially low levels.
So here's today's first pair of neuron-firing events:
Gee, you think?
Keep this handy in your "Slowly boiled frogs" file.
Pretend It Didn't Happen
For first thing out of the chute this morning I get an email from a friend in Oklahomey:
No worries! Just like the CPI, seems earthquakes are easily "rewritten" a bit:
For example, here's a USGS earthquake update I just received:
Only to be followed a moment later by this:
Still, I've launched a one-man campaign this morning to rename Little Rock, Arkansas to "Little Quake, Arkansas" based on the action up north of town which you can see on this historical map...
Near as I can figure it, this means the minor slips along New Madrid down south could be upping the risks further north....
As soon as I'm done with some morning chores (which will likely be two weeks from tomorrow) I plan to turn on the ham rig and see what this latest solar flare arriving this morning is doing to radio propagation. Seems to have been timed to China and other Asia DX spots.
Wheels of Justice Dept.
So, let me see if I got this one right: A man gets wrongly jailed for 18-years on Texas' death row and now the state says he's not entitled to $1.4 million compensation on a technicality? I don't think so....expect this to hgead up the court-chain.
Then there's the case (at SurvivalWoman's site) about a kid up in Edmonds, Washington getting suspended from school for not getting a speech to the student body "approved"?
Again, seems the Constitution doesn't apply until age 18, huh? I musta missed that part of it.
Nobody Goes to Jail
Save some time tomorrow to read Rolling Stone's piece "Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail? Due out from in their archives online.
Why this story, and the one before, sure paint a picture of a world where those with money have a different set of laws than they people without money.
Gee. Imagine that.
Nobody Goes to School, Either
At least that's the case in more than a dozen school districts in Wisconsin today where state budget problems are getting people all hot & bothered, to the point where guv Scott Walker is threatening to use National Guard Troops if necessary.
Don't want to tell him how many are over in the sandbox...but I think I've got NORTHCOM's number around here somewhere...
Oh, wait! I get it...this must be out long-prmised "transparency!" A nice transparent transition to martial....oh-oh...move along...nothing to see here....
Catching Up With the Nazis
Here's an historical item out of the UK's Guardian: "Nazi 3D films from 1936 discovered".
So, lemme see here....is there some correlation between 3D movie development and the "urge to empire?"
Coping: What IS Humor?
Got to thinking (in my odd, extensible way) this morning how I could improve my writing. Paying attention to spelling and grammar might be a start, but the returns on such investments seem small considering the head full of rules it requires.
My friend (and co-author) Howard Hill suggested I get the The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition ($41, Amazon). However, after quickly inspecting it and finding no explanations of Chicago's stylish places (the Loop, the Playboy Club, or where to get the best "Chicago style" pizza), I put it on the shelf where it has remained for several months.
What I'm after is something well beyond punctuation: Ways to more happily engage your mind at this (god-awful) hour while staying awake long enough to write it myself.
Communications is both simple yet complex: I get a picture of something in my mind's eye, and the role of communications is to move it to your mind's eye. Simple enough, right?
But that in and of itself is boring as spit. The task of a writer is to accomplish that with some particular artistic flourish; it could be humor - my favorite - or it might be penetrating analysis - my second favorite - but like punctuation, too much work.
The pun is often called the lowest form of humor, but to anyone with a good vocabulary easy to call up.
Practical jokes don't really belong in a website with a purported purpose, especially if the line of inquiry is economics. In this field, there's those people with a lot of money, and then there's the rest of us. And, look surprised here - and go reread the CPI report above - this kind of government-provided practical joke always seems to be on us.
Wisecracks come easily, too. But again, their function is often limited and doesn't leave a lasting impression through the rest of the day.
Parodies are much too elaborate and require (to pull 'em off for maximal effect) graphics such as a reworked logo and such to achieve maximum impact.
Plain old "jokes" are often self-contained in the news stories that impact our lives going forward and I'm fond on pointing out the twists of Universe which has what we call a good deal of "wryrony" - a mix of ironic and wry, although rye would be better.
The first teacher I ever had who was into getting control of humor was a fellow named Mr. Staley in high school years ago. No, make that decades ago.
He had categorized humor into a half dozen types like this and said for some reason, the kind of humor that many people are drawn to is the kind where embarrassment comes about through identification.
"Take the case of someone slipping on a banana peel. While there's nothing mysterious about the physics, note that people seem to identity with the victim and this identification erupts as embarrassment. To the extent the identification is conveyed, the embarrassment builds...which is why visual jokes of the Chaplin/slapstick variety always require "set up" time,." he rambled on.
But the thought has never left me; one of the few things from high school English I remember.
Along about here you may be asking "Why are you rambling on about the role of humor this morning?"
It's because I have noticed a slow-motion decline in humor over the past 30-years. And it's decline really bothers me.
You see, there was once a period of American history where we were really good-natured and humorous people. Reading the news and working harder seems to have ruined our once fine sense of what's funny about life.
To be sure, I've settled in to a kind of "Laughter at the absurdity of it all" viewpoint, but most of the people who send emails - like the 35, or so, that came in overnight, don't really help me cope very well.
Even emails which use the "FCC-seven" (The "F" word, the "C" word, etc...) only work for just so long. A couple of decades at most. Near as I've got it figured, the "F" word has become a commonly accepted term of everyday speech as any close listening to cell phone conversations while wandering around the store will confirm.
I'd never thought about it this way before, but the notion's evolving that one reason for societies to have taboos is that when strong taboos are broken, the "embarrassment link" fires in neuron-like manner and laughter results.
When the "F" word "went public" with the Lenny Bruce obscenity trial in 1964, using the "F" word anywhere in public in America, save a few wrong-side-of-the-tracks bawdy houses, was a shocking thing.
Nowadays, it seems, the "F" word has become so commonplace that most people from their late-teens on use it as freely as any other word and with no hint of embarrassment.
All of which gets me to a simple request this morning: In your travels around the 'net, if you come across any particularly good discussions of types of humor and the description of how they work, please send them along.
One of the birthday presents I'm giving myself this year is an upgrade to my sense of humor. Trouble is: It's hard to find. As the breaking of taboos continues there's been an increase in both "toilet" humor and regional-ethnicity humor.
By this last, I mean that members of a particular regional subgroup which is not part of an EEOC "protected class" are being repainted as the "objects de humor" once reserved for Blacks, gays, Poles, and other now-protected subgroups, once the brunt of 'humor.' Notice it, next time you get an email like the one going around (again) with a picture of a Jiffy Pop popcorn container nailed to a wall with the caption "Redneck Smoke Detector."
Wryronically, the more I watch the PowersThatBe exploitation of the rest of us, there is (when you look for it) plenty of evidence that in a society desperate to maintain a sense of humor, an almost built-in exploitation gene emerges.
Some target subgroups have effectively contained humor directed at them. Lawyers, for example. I told a lawyer joke on here a number of years back that I thought was funny - only to receive as rebuttal a two page email about how "Lawyers like me defend your Constitutional rights!" I'm sure those kind of lawyers have all retired.
Somehow, the National Redneck Association over on Facebook just hasn't gotten traction to the point of stomping out "redneck humor."
Consequently, my focus over the next year will be increasing the humor content a bit and I'd like to starting right now by thanking the Labor Department for their contribution with the CPI data.
While the use of the "F" word may have lost 90% of its "shock value," questioning the economic paradigm just keeps keeps getting better and better.
Buy Gold, Hide Gold
Plenty of reader feedback on yesterday's notes about buying gold. Some good brain-food:
And then there was this:
All of which gets me back to what I call "Ure's New Precious Metals Axiom."
Happy Client Department
Don't often talk about happy consulting clients of mine, but helped a fellow through the well-timed sales of his business a couple of years back and had a call from him yesterday.
He's about to close on a small farm he's buying about a hundred miles, give or take, outside of Cincinnati. Deal closes next week.
He's always had a rent payment for housing...and in chatting about his plans going forward I can't tell you the excitement in a person's voice when they finally arrive in the "Financial Promised Land" of no rent and no mortgage.
Always a couple of last minute details (title insurance, make sure the county registry shows he's the owner and no liens, that kind of thing) but its really heart-warming to help someone who's willing to work their butts off and get to genuine self-sufficiency.
The world's got one more organic small farmer coming up.
Wednesday February 16, 2011
Keeping Up With GlobalRev
Hate seeing Clif's predictive linguistics getting so accurate, but globalrev is certainly turning into an undeniable fact of life these past few weeks. Latest log on the fire is Libya where Al Jazeera reports clashes between security forces and protesters.
Not to be missed are the demonstration in Bahrain, either. Because of its strategic location - and the fact that it's home to the Navy's 5th fleet, this is something to be watched most cautiously since it's a key in our ability to project power into the region.
Long as we're tossing things in the blender, there's Yemen, where (for now) loyalists are attacking the opposition, but the winds of change are in the air and food seems to be a major issue in most of these places.
This is quickly growing beyond small Oster-sized blending and up to VitaMix dimensions. Whole thing could go Hobart...oh and that might bring $10 (or higher) gasoline with a Canal shutdown and troubles for oil.
We're still watching for word on the tanker Irene SL which has been taken by pirates last week...since if the Suez were shut down as a consequence of Egyptian upheaval, the pirates off east Africa would be a largish problem...
Obama: Older But Wisner?
Lots of speculation floating around Washington circles that in the wake of Frank Wisner, II being too pro-Mubarak (and the SecState and others not bothering to mention his long-time/family lineage into the Big Alphabet place near Herndon, we see that John Kerry is going to Pakistan to see if he can smooth over affairs there.
What we're hearing rumor-wise is that Hillary might get bounced if Kerry scores big...and that might lead to a lot of changes in the PTB faction that, oh, how to put this, "heavily influences" affairs outside of the realm of presidential and congressional inputs?
Near as I can tell, Hillary's main qualifications for the Sec State job were (in no particular order here) being former first lady, being a senator, and...lemme see here...oh yes: Raising $134,536,147 in the 2008 presidential contest.
Hells, bells, if I could raise that kinda dough, that'd certainly qualify you or me for something, wouldn't it?
Pass Us a Number?
Lemme start with the Producer Price Index report just out:
Yes, that is up around 10% annualized, at the most recent finished goods rate, but year-on-year costs of finished goods is up 4.5% which (assuming retailers haven't decided to donate the difference) argues that the CPI (due tomorrow) shouldn't be less than 4.5% YoY unless someone's smoking something.
Stand by to be heartily amused.
Then we have housing starts:
Speaking of housing, did I mention that "Merscorp (MERS) lacks right to transfer mortgages, judge says" is maybe a Valentines day gift for some?
Federal Reserve (really neither) will post industrial production and utilization later on this morning, but the 800 pound gorilla is the CPI figures tomorrow.
Also called the "How we lie about inflation so your boss, retirement system, and Social Security don't have to give you more money report, but we're gonna hurt you in real life because we can report."
Meantime, As the Bros Rose
We see the Muslim Brotherhood in ascension in Egyptian power struggles, which certainly would make an interesting subject if America had a "flying audit team" to see who is throwing money where to foment stuff (refer to previous story).
What's going on today in country is protests are back and things are on the verge of ugly. We should be past verge and into really ugly shortly.
Financial HappyTalk Department
I love stories like "Stocks recover their poise despite inflation fears."
It's not that I'm a doomer or gloomer, just a reader and observer of manias and the world has quickly bifurcated into Wonderland where the sky's the limit for anything paper, and the realization that the most recent example (and test case) of of the New Economics of Infinite Zeroes was Zimbabwe.
I keep waiting for Robert Mugabe to launch a hedge fund.
Name the Baby
While Big Apple egos are pressing for a name that includes "New York" in it, I'm thinking something more reflective of global markets would be in order.
How about HindenMart?
CBS-2 in NY reports on a woman who answered an ad on Craigslist and ended up being held as a sex slave for eight days...
I wonder why people don't tell someone where they are going and with whom....
We Are Sooooo Screwed Department
Our back-up Canadian Bureau sent us a note to be sure and look at The Atlantic article "Own a second home in New York? Prepare for a Higher Tax Bill" which then goes on to explain how a couple that lives in Connecticut but owns a vacation home on Long Island, is being socked with a $1-million tax bill by NY State because the property is there so they claim NY state income tax on the couple's whole income. Great - state tax authority now crossing state lines?
River in the Sky
Please...enough is enough!
The rickety time machine/predictive linguistics have been (over a year I think) talking about the "rivers in the atmosphere" and now it's in ScienceNews as a hot topic in the article "Rivers in the sky."
Yeah, yeah, another web bot hit. But no more links to the story. We got more important thinks to do than gloat..... Time is tight.
Timing of My Diet
OK, down only 11 pounds so far, but the rule of thumb is one tick-mark less on the BP for each 2.2 pounds of fat lost, so yes, the BP is falling.
What's amazing is the timing of my efforts to redesign myself: "Food Surge is Exacerbating Poverty, World Bank Says" 44-million more people in extreme poverty since June...
Maybe it's not just a diet...maybe I'm on the leading edge of a trend.
Coping: Newbies Gold & Silver Buying
As I noted in the column yesterday, the case for gold & silver is suddenly - and rather forcefully being made - by government deficit spending, the outbreak of violence (with or without multiple agendas behind it) in the Middle East, and the seeming impossibility of politicians to promise free lunches to everyone - and then stick you with the bill.
That got a few readers to thinking (a rare, but worthy thing) like this fellow:
I keep making notes (now a prodigious piles worth) on what the right "survival hierarchy" should be. Yes, gold and silver are certainly a part of the mix, but in the event of a major earthquake, tornado, flood (a certainty for the Midwest this year and possibly of record-size, and famine? You see the problem, of course.
Which gets us to the first consideration: Buckminster Fuller (think geodesic domes) came up with the idea that all anyone does when "investing" is to put away future days of assured supply.
In other words, all that's keeping you from retiring right now - this minute - is that you probably don't yet have under your immediate control, all those things that would guarantee you basics of retirement. Some of these are:
Building a "personal proforma" is something almost no one does - which gets into the topic of this weekend's Peoplenomics, and I won't go into details of it here, other than to say that the acquisition of gold, silver, or any other tangible (and importantly fungible asset; something which can be converted to Coin of the Realm [CoR] when needed makes sense.
The point I'm (admittedly laboriously) making is that there are many ways to skin "this cat which is the future."
A number of years back, for example, I bought a shotgun. Almost unused, gun show purchase, no paper train, happy George. The doggone thing has gone up in value faster than the rate of inflation by a good bit.
Similarly, an AK-47 receiver-based Russian "hunting carbine" I bought for under $600 brand new, is (from the same company) much more expensive. Same thing with the ammo for it...also going up much faster than inflation.
I'm not saying you should run out and buy a gun, far from it, though I don't see European plastic-stock 9 mm pistols collapsing in price; I'm illustrating that collectible guns, even a well-cared for shotgun, can hold their value very well and they are "multiple use tools" around the ranch, working on all three types of vermin, slithery, four-legged, and if needed in the uncertain future (and with no remorse) two-legged. Plus, toss in the entertainment value of plinking and there's a fine combination of hobby/skill/fungible/personal protection.
Another storehouse of value, which I've previously owned is a sailboat. It was housing, escape pod, survival platform, and oh yeah...energy self-sufficient with solar panels, wind machine and a watermaker.
Given the choice between a modest RV - which can be had cheaply these days, and a creek or riverfront piece of paid up rural property where I could garden, fish, hunting, boil water, and cache a few "supplies" (maybe of some of them fungibles) I might be inclined to opt for the RV/property and build me a cabin since the biggest investment secret out there is the one damn near no one else talks about - sweat equity.
Why, I've seen a few couples who were willing to deal with the problems of renters, put together a multi-million dollar personal real estate fortune, buying and fixing up old houses. With prices presently low, that might be something to consider, especially if the property is out from a big city a ways, and if you're any good with a Skil saw.
I joke with Elaine about doing a Monday finger-count after a busy weekend. And she was giving me well-deserved pokes yesterday as I was welding up another rack for solar panels and kept setting the lawn on fire. Weld, weld, stomp, stomp, smolder, smolder. Weld, weld, stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp, smolder, smolder (Inset sound of Elaine laughing.) Life's like that.
Eventually, I'll have to get back to the point, but want to make sure that when you buy anything with your hard earned Zbux (a loose reference to depreciating US dollars "going Zimbabwe" [hyperinflation]), that it's part of a plan since as Pappy used to remind me "You can only spend it once."
Step One: Make a guess as to which of the two choice, silver or gold, will be most easily fungible in the future.
Small gold coins (Canadian Maple Leaf's) are a long time favorite for a couple of reasons. First, they are not a US coin. The reason I worry about this is I keep hearing rumbled that the US government could at some point in the future argue that their CoR was still owned by the government, and thus might be subject to recall.
Admittedly, this might sound like a crank note from a conspiracy site, but there may be something to it. Remember, if you deface a paper bill, for example, you're committing a crime (last time I checked) so even though you might "own it" at the time of defacing, the underlying thesis is that government has just lent it to you for use. Ponderable, huh?
Personally, I'm guessing/betting that silver could double in price to $60 or so, a lot easier than gold could double in price to $2,700-$2,800. This comes from observing the same thing in stock prices. A stock that's $10 going to $20 is common as hell. A stock that's $200 going to $400 (Google and Berkshire excepted, of course) is more rate.
Step 2: Get a gold test kit. You can buy these on eBay simple enough. The kit is usually a "jeweler's stone" and several bottles of acid. The idea is that you make a fine line about an inch-and-a-half long, then apply the different "flavors" of acid. The strongest of the acids will eat through everything except the 24 karat gold. Remember, 12 karat gold has half the gold content and the rest is usually copper, brass, or whatever was handy at the time.
Then start learning to test....and going through the wife's jewelry is sometimes an eye-opener when you find what you thought was pure gold is nowhere close.
While you're at it, pick up a good-quality digital scale off eBay. Should be cheap - around $25 or so for a 0-500 gram jewelry scale.
Step 3: Read everything you can on how metals are weighed. Ounces, troy or other is important - and you have to put some effort into this stuff.
My commodity guy, JB also says the one thing everyone forgets is to drop coins on a solid countertop. All precious metal coins should sound the same. If they don't? Well...be wary, like I was saying.
Step 4. Figure out whether you want there to be a paper trail - or not. If you don't want there to be a paper trail, you can occasionally find coins at places like gun shows, antique shows, and so forth. BUT! Be extremely wary of such places because the scammers love to operate there.
Second choice is to buy from an assortment of jewelers, pawn shops, and so forth, but here you really need to know your stuff and showing up with a gold test kit and a scale and knowing what you're doing helps.
BUT! Again, you can be taken. There are fake coins of all types out there in the world. Not that honest (or nearly so) dealers are trying to sell fraudulent merchandise, but they can be fooled, too.
Still, if you want to do a deal with no paper, cash talks and the one thing to absolutely insist on is buying for not more than you can buy the same coin from a known dealer.
Step 5: If you don't mind a paper trail, then call either my commodity guy (JB Slear at www.fortwealth.com ) or get on the line with Kitco.
If I were going to buy gold or silver, this is where I would go - and simply skip all the other stuff, although I've been through most of it. I have not purchased from Fort Wealth, but JB's a high integrity guy and I know readers who have and they are happy.
That said, if you buy something like a big bar of metal and do so using a commodity contract (and actually go through the exercise of taking delivery, things can get....how do I say this?....interesting. Seems that silver when it comes down to releasing metal out of the warehouses get...er....delayed sometimes by made-up-on-the-fly (seemingly) "administrative hoops."
With the world buying more silver than is available, as prices have gone up, so as the "administrative hassle" of taking delivery on single or small numbers of contracts. Quick, look surprised.
I've had people tell me Kitco prices can be beaten, but I've purchased from them in the past and have no complaints. I'm willing to pay a little higher price but shaving a few cents or even a few dollars is not an issue for me when I want to buy from a highly reliable dealer.
Step 6: This is most important of all: Where you gonna store it?
I know one guy who paid for 10-years of storage in a commercial warehouse and when came time to take delivery of his bars, this outfit (with initials in its name) could only produce the correct serial numbers for three of the five bars.
Say, that's not very reassuring, is it?
But then, too, putting metals in a bank safe deposit box may be risky, since government a history of going in and seizing contents safe deposit boxes.
So that leaves you to get "creative."
But not too creative.
Show you what I mean: I know one guy who told me about his successfully hiding his coins in a septic tank. Sealed 'em up good, put a string on the container, and pushed them down the clean-out.
While this is obviously not the first place someone would go looking for coins, he screwed up and didn't realize that the clean out cap's threads (which was like a 6" PVC whizzy) would cut through his string and....well, he dug up his septic tank and got his loot back, but do spend some time thinking this stuff through.
Good thing to remember is that gold and silver are fine investments, but like anything else, there's the matter of balance and direction to be concerned with.
If you bury metals, then someone can walk around with a metal detector. If you hide them in the attic....in the septic....wherever, the key thing is not to talk about what you have and where it is.
Oh, did I mention you might want to research how smugglers hide illicit items in vehicles? I've always been partial to the air cleaner for small items. The "smugglers box" in a (air-cooler) 911's/930's is nice, but few cars have them. Flashy cars tend to get stolen, too, so there's another set of problems.
Like marriage, buying gold or silver is something which should be thought-through very carefully, but most times is not.
But unless you're Scrooge McDuck and have a big vault and guards, best way to have anything of value is quietly. Unless you pack a varmint repeller and keep your staff off-site.
Speaking of Scrooge...
The other day I mentioned that I use Post-It Note software and have them all over all four monitors with this, that and the other thing. Client notes, calls to return (some of these are yellowing with age...a neat trick on an LCD) a thrifty reader sent this:
I may give this a whirl - I still have three screens in the office that aren't covered with notes, and the media server has the arms for it...but, since someone put the effort into creating the software, I will likely make a $5 PayPal contribution.
I'm all about cheap, but fair's fair...which is why I buy music and such, too.
Way I have it figured, there are enough rip-off oriented people in the world already and no point in my contributing to perpetuating the problem.
Might explain why I haven't run for office, too, come to think of it...
Tuesday February 15, 2011
Thanks Yemen, Obama, & Ben
As anyone who reads this column knows, Elaine & I have been great fans of gold since 2001 when we made our first purchase at around $275/ounce. Then again, in 2005 when we moved into silver between $6.96-$7.05.
As I explained then - but it bears repeating once again - the price of the metals doesn't move. Leastwise not by those kinds of numbers.
Instead, what moves (and this is the Big Ugly Secret of Bankers) the purchasing power of your money gets watered down.
Sneaking up on my key point: Using the [Minneapolis] Federal Reserves calculator here, and starting with just $100 in 1913, how much money do you think you'd need in today's dollars to give you the same amount of purchasing power?
I don't mean to sound like a drooling idiot on this stuff (although there is a certain resemblance, I'll grant you...) but here's the whole key to understanding all financial news which I learned back in the mid 70's:
Prices don't go up. Purchasing power of money gets watered down.
And, thanks to the Minneapolis Fed, we can see it in the government's own figures plain as day. Obviously, by dividing that $2,233.91 into our starting $100, we can calculate how much of a dollar's purchasing power is left compared with one dollar in 1913. Blood pressure pills at the ready? Tranks?
Answer: 4.4764 CENTS!
Yep. There's less than a nickel's worth...almost down to 4¢ - of purchasing power left.
Did housing prices really go up in the 1970's and 1980's? Well, yes - and no. Depends who's doing the accounting.
Sure, there was some demand - no question about that, after all there was a huge Baby Boomer class coming up and they were in family forming years. I was part of it. In 1974, I bought a house for $43,950. Know what inflation alone did to that house's value in just 20 years? $132,090.60. And here lately, according to simple Fed inflation numbers, that same house ought to be worth how much? $ 196,678.92.
And the most amazing thing is that with the recent collapse of the bubble pricing of housing, I can actually get a similar house for that much - or less.
All makes my point that house prices have "gone up" when we take the long view of history. Instead, they have held surprising close to their materials cost. True, using leverage when inflation is afoot is a chance-of-a-lifetime, but that's probably coming around again and that's why this morning I'd like to thank Ben Bernanke's Fed for printing all that paper.
Gold and silver may - or may not - be getting a little ahead of things. On the one hand, the inflation-only component of our 2001 gold purchase ought to be worth about $342.83 at the moment, but obviously, gold being four times that, something else is likely going on.
What we've got are a multiplicity of factors:
Not that we're trying to outdo the defense industries, mind you. But with assets allocated 50% in metals and 50% in bonds for a good while, I find myself eyeing the metals allocation and maybe moving it up a fair bit.
All of these things combine with other factors (rumors and reports of "gold bars" really being tungsten bars with a thin coating of gold, limits to production of gold and silver, and should we speculate how an exchange can trade more metals than exist while we're at it?
THIS IS NOT TRADING ADVICE. But, when I hear that shills are pimping stories about "so and so" if selling off their metals position, I think to myself "Why would they do that?" Sure doesn't look like something that falls out of the numbers I'm looking at: We're in a world of declining resources and those that remain are likely to edge up in price - and that's on a real basis. So that would be on top (in addition to) the inflation/watering down purchasing power problem.
When gold was at $1,420 or so, I thought about edging out, but now I'm glad I didn't since it starts to look like inflation will be coming down the pike in a major way. Thanks to those headliners, I wouldn't be surprised to see gasoline prices double before summer. And that means BIG inflation to come.
Retail Sales: UP, But.....
Latest from the Census Bureau today:
All of which looks rosy as hell, as long as we don't look at the Federal Reserve H.6 money stock measures which shows M1 in the past year is up 10.3% while M2 is up 4.3%, so no telling how much of these "great results" are real and how much is smoke and BS.
Might get a good hint at the local unemployment office lines before they open, though...
Unit volumes and people working always seem to be buried - or just plain missing.
New York Fed Empire Manufacturing Report picture is less ebullient, too:
So, we wonder how much of these happy numbers is just inventory build, know what I mean?
Those Logical Franks
In the predictive linguistic work out of Clif (www.hyalfpasthuman.com) besides the outburst called GlobalRev - which will likely work out as high inflation rates - we're noticing a lot of language around those logical Franks.
Last weekend, for example, president Sarkozy said that multiculturalism was a bust and that it had run its course.
I mention this because the US seems determined to go down that same path, with ["press 1 for English"] and so forth getting America further from our melting pot roots. I won't mention how bilingualism has worked out in Canada, except to say it must be great for the pulp and paper industry, the makers of smaller fonts, and the sign-making business.
We also note in passing that the number of illegals in America is continuing to climb as despite the sincere efforts of the rank and file of Border Patrol, the forces "upstairs" from both the Bush and now Obama era, just don't seem to be fighting the problem aggressively....cheap labor has a lot of "friends in high places".
On the other hand, some of the "Inland Empire" cities of California are starting to crack down, which is why you're reading about immigration increases in other areas, such as Oklahoma, for example.
Then there's the report that a "Latino leader asks Mexican president to suspend Mormon [missionary] visas" because the LDS church hasn't signed the Utah Compact. On the other hand, the church has made it clear previously that it supports the principles of the compact.
A student of longer term socioeconomics might notice the US/Mexico immigration issue seems to somehow rhyme with the French Quebec separatist movement.
As to my opinion on all this? The PowersThatBe may be expected to do everything they can to promote differentiation along racial lines, since keeping people divided makes persuasion group manipulation oh so much easier. When people are unified...that's a little tougher.
Didn't mean to get so far off track, but we were talking about logical Franks in terms of the economy.
All of which would less the impact of US dollar/purchasing power dilution on the rest of the world and would be yet another sign that our once Empire is in decay.
Speaking of which, some historians have argued that before the collapse of a country, their postal system goes. And lookie here: Congress is considering the closure of 2,000 local post offices nationally.
I keep waiting for FedEx or UPS to make a buy-out offer. At least in rural areas where delivery loads are varied, seems to me that it would be much more efficient to have one UPS or FedEx truck do everything.
Or, the other way around, have the Post Office get creative and deliver all packages for FedEx and UPS is designated areas - with the ower/operators of FedEx, for example, being transitioned into postal roles.
Out here 'at the end of the string' I sometimes get a FedEx letter from one truck, a small Amazon package off UPS, and two letters from the Post Office. The $14-worth of fees all-in doesn't pay for three people and three vehicles to come out this far.
That Missing Tanker
Reader tip here:
Curious, huh? Well, presumably the pirates will have their hands full - I mean where do you fence a load of hot crude and a one-thousand foot long tanker?
Answer is sure to pop up in the headlines this week, or next...isn't it? Sure can't hide something that big...unless, or course Osama bin Laden's on it, LOL.
Here's a little solar flare note:
With this one, and the earlier one due to arrive today-ish, we may see a good-sized earthquake today through Thursday....arriving particles may have something to do with quakes, or gamma ray bursts, or all of the above.
Shake the Germans
Speaking quakes, our other reader (in the Netherlands) sends this: "In Kolenz, Germany was an earth quake. Very rare in Germany, felt in lower provence in The Netherlands.."
And everyone knows Mount St. Helens is acting up again...
Answer Man Is In:
Particles. Smaller than lint. These bang into the magnetosphere and change radio propagation, trigger auroras and....say, if that a 10-meter ham band opening to Europe?
A more profound discussion here:
Although we don't usually do profound until two drinks into Friday night, we will have a short quiz tomorrow, so study hard.
We'll also get around to why there's no 'earth turning' correction when launching missiles, artillery and harsh emails...
Coping: Notes on Will Power
A fair number of readers replied to yesterday's column where we took up a discussion of will power, and how to build more of it.
Some of the better comments follow:
I forget, too...next?
A couple of other software solutions. I use Post-it Software Notes - although there's a newer version that seems to work fine with Win7...just don't remember where the link it. The other are the add-on tools for Outlook.
Haven't had too much lucky with hypnosis tapes, hypnosis tapes, hypnosis tapes, hypnosis tapes, hypnosis tapes, hypnosis tapes, hypnosis tapes, hypnosis tapes, hypnosis tapes, hypnosis tapes, hypnosis tapes, hypnosis tapes, hypnosis tapes, hypnosis tapes, hypnosis tapes, hypnosis tapes.....where were we...Oh yes...moving right along...
Another one about Will Power and medicine:
And 11-years later - no that's advice that works...
Then there's this:
I think - based on these ideas - that everyone has a little different approach to building will power. Mine happens to be measurement. Right now, for example, I'm on a weight loss plan loosely based on Tim Ferris's The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman ($14, Amazon),
The most important part of my dieting effort? The Excel spreadsheet. And the graphs it generates. Weight by date, implied Body Mass Index, and so forth. Scribbled notes on the chart about BP, food, visitors, and so forth.
Far Side Report
Say...been meaning to mention that our Indonesia Bureau Chief (Bernard Grover, an ex-Texan (if there even is such a thing) has a dandy blog called "Life on the Far Side...180º From Home" which is worth a read every time it's updated.
Bernard's been saying for some time that if Indonesia would get rid of graft it would be a six-star country. On the other hand, I've reminded him that there's already words and a concept for institutionalized graft: User fees, licenses, permits, and authorizations. Just dressed up with more lipstick and some outliner...
Or - could be 3-10 days away from getting violent....
Say, if you ever find those hairs on the back of your neck laying down, , one way to get them back up again is think about those rumors being promoted on the net that the government will confiscate gold if it goes over $2,000 an ounce. Rumors only of course, which means it's a good thing I can't remember where I anything.....where were we, again?
Monday February 14, 2011
So, Where's the Valentines?
This historical facts around Valentine's Day are pretty simple: Two dudes named Valentinus presb. m. Romae and Valentinus ep. Interamnensis m. Romae (Valentine of Rome & Terni) gets martyred. Valetine of Rome in 269 AD and Valentine of Terni is 197 AD. Nothing particular warm & fuzzy about getting popped by Romans, now, is there?
But with no one around to question things by 1260, they get a good rewrite in the hagiographic (legend-building) "The Golden Legend" series (Legenda aurea) and mass marketing takes over from there. Was this rewrite for the masses one of the drivers for Martin Luther to go on his nailing spree in 1517? We'll never know, but....
Valentine's Day is a fine time to stop and reflect on "Be Careful What You Wish For..."
Take Egypt, for example (Please!): People wanted change there, and after the couple of weeks worth of demonstrations, on Friday Mubarak blew town and by Sunday the military had dissolved the Egyptian parliament, suspended the Constitution of Egypt and this moving, Al Jazeera's reports that "Egypt's revolution has just begun."
We dare not mention the Pentagon's fancy analytics software didn't spot this in advance, so sayeth Wired.
A more cynical person than me would be wondering how much of this is major news operations getting ready for sweeps...oh wait...you means we're in sweeps right now and will be until March 2? How terribly convenient for the MainStreamMedia!
I knew I should have played a "reverse business model" and moved to Australia and bought a TV station and some newspapers...except of course that Australia is moving toward automatic organ harvesting...pass.
And speaking of 'loving it' --- Remember Libyan bad-ass Muammar Gaddafi (spelled variously)? Ex-strong man of Libya - Gaddafi for reasons we can only suspect had something to do with oil, managed to get the Bushistas to cut a deal in 2008 which effectively got Libya off the hook for the Lockerbie bombing victims, the 1986 Berlin diso bombing and while we're at it let's toss in UTA Flight 772 bombing and on the other side, Libyan victims of the US bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi back in 1986.
And, all this done by George Bush October 31, 2008. Not sure why the Bushistas continue to be held in such high regard by the RRRR (rabid right radio ranters) but like the "proclamation of victory" about Iraq (where we still have how many troops?) this one too, doesn't seem to be playing right ad we spin the the story that Gaddafi is now urging Palestinians to revolt against Israel's intervention in the Gaza Strip, which (thanks to Israel's occasional use white phosphorous) is the absolute last place on earth I think of when I think of Valentines Day.
In today's back-asswards world, maybe this will get Gaddafi a Nobel Prize, too! Are you kidding?
And all that support we put into Pakistan looks to be about flushed with a developing diplomatic row over a US official who shot a couple of armed men - an event the Pakistanis call murder, the US says it is something else.
And all this comes within a week of the Pakistani test of a home-built cruise missile that can hit Mumbai, India's outskirts and yes, these are same Pakistani weapons designers who've promised at least one of their developing nuclear arsenal to the Saudis and this in turn (look surprised here) has the rich Saudis heading more for Malaysia than Egypt for holidays now... tough choice, huh?
I'd be watching US-Egyptian relations closely, since one might argue we helped lose Egypt and ain't doing so hot in Pakistan now.
Then it's reported that Mubarak has moved his dough to SaudiLand. Which has what? One nuke or two?
Can we make it three-for-three by blowing the relationship with the Saudis? I mean by outing how oil reserves were puffed up to get more export quota out of the OPECkers? Of course this is hotly denied.
...Unless you read the Matt Simmons book ( Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy ) but then again, he's not around any more to point out GOM leaks or number fudging game of the cartel, now, is he?
And let's not forget Simmons believed that the Club of Rome Report (advocating a mass global population reduction) was more accurate than usually believed... Coincidence? Yeah - sure - you bet'cha. Whatever...
Perhaps I got up on the wrong side of bed this morning and am feeling a little pissy. Still: Seems to me the theme of modern times in general (and this Valentines Day in particular) is far from move and chocolates, although the applicable substance seems similar in color and issues from males of the bovine sort.
I continue to assert that the American public is intelligent enough to see this crap. But then I look around and have to admit I'm probably wrong and that really is chocolate; not that other stuff, but sure seems like it.
Exchanging the Exchange
Know why countries own gold? I mean like the Germans? It allows them to flex economic muscles. Like the Deutsche Borse acquiring the NYSE Euronext.
Only one question: What does this do to the DTC and Cede & Co.? If anything? Just wondering...don't know if physical shares can even be had any more...or can they be "made up" just like digidollars? Oh, oh...don't question that paradigm...
Shaken and Stirring
Decent-sized quakes around over the weekend. 6.6 in Chile Sunday (been too long to call it an aftershock?) That whole area is just amazingly active as this hisoric seismicity map shows. Had a 6.0 in the region on Saturday. And a 6.1 on Friday, which make Tonga a distant second with just a single event over 6; a 6.1 on Friday.
I don't remember if I showed you how the 6-7 class quakes are still building, but our resident quake/data cruncher reported this following from 1973 through the end of January:
Which I hope explains this preoccupation with the data I seem to be developing.
Not Exactly a World Ender...
But got this Presto Alert this morning:
Which means ham radio types on the 15th/16th might find some unusual propagation and that's about it. Oh, except for the quake, maybe.
Meantime, Back in the Hole
True, this budget (like many good works of fiction) promises a happy ending by reducing the deficit by $1.1 trillion over the next 10 years through spending cuts, but I've heard that mantra from every administration since before Reagan, so pardon me if I put on my best imitation of Forest Gump and mutter "Smells to me like more of them chocolates we wuz talkin' about...."
Yes, it does! And perhaps it explains why Treasury doesn't use brown ink.
The Week Ahead
Day runner open? Retail sales tomorrow, along with the NY Fed Empire Manufacturing numbers. Import and export prices is not going to keep us up all night in anticipation. Tuesay's inventories should be interesting - if build continues, that means either shortening of hours or more layoffs down the road.
Housing starts and producer prices Wednesday, but THE number to watch will be the Consumer Price Index numbers - which as I pointed out to Peoplenomics.com readers, seem to be getting further and fujrther from actual shopping experience when it comes to food prices. And further, the Triple A Gas Gauge Reports have different conclusions on a YoY (year on year) basis than what shows up in the CPI...but we can talk more about that on Thursday, no point moving things along. (Keep a chocolate handy, though.)
You know what you really need this morning? A read of the April 2010 NY Times article on how coffee tree berries are eaten by small furry critters in the Philippines and then...er...expelled and from that comes (so the story seems to imply) great coffee. Just seems in keeping with the tone of this morning's report.
Since this coming weekend is a three-dayer for many people, Elaine and I are planning a birthday weekend adventure. Not sure where, but we may head out for a couple of days. No change in schedule, though, since everyplace seems to have internet access.
Don't know if you caught the Sunday piece in the NYT about how the continuing decline of housing prices is now "...Hitting Cities once thought to be stable..."
Every time I read a story like this, my stomach turns to knots and I have these screaming matches with myself. The free marketer in me says "If the general population is getting laid off, government should too in order not only to feel the pain but also to contain costs..."
Then the other side of my brain where the interventionist lives begins yelling: "You damn idiot! Without continued and even increasing government spending, that would just make things worse! Government needs to spend to bootstrap out!"
Oh-oh...other side yells back "And the point of racetrack paving and wooden arrows was what?"
Eventually, I go look for a glass of wine while the chatter goes on for hours, sometimes days.
Coping: Serious Work Season
Spent a little time this weekend trying to put together a unified approach to all the projects that have popped up on the docket for this spring. Due to a rash of generally good (warm & dry) weather a few of these projects might actually get done.
Much of it has to do with gardening and since the usual last frost date is around March 17th here, I've been looking at long-range forecasts every few days wondering if there will be another hard frost before then, or whether I should start plants early.
Which is how we sashay (chassé) around to the real agenda of this morning's rant: I'm trying to find how people find will power.
Not that I don't have a decent dose of the stuff. Since I started my diet, for example, I'm down a bit more than 10-pounds, for example. Actually, it took a month and a week to do it, but the time my son was visiting I called a time out.
And in other ways, too: I always try to find the most efficient way to do things and I'm not afraid to buy the tools and technology necessary to get a first-class job done.
But if you have a part5icular method (besides a to-do list, yellow stickies all over your computer, a demanding Outlook set-up (or other schedule whipper) please let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Will Power otherwise the email router will put you in the waiting line from hell).
Kinda curious to collect the systems of 'building willpower' since strong will is seemingly key to getting the most done.
BTW, my weight loss project got incredibly easy when I built a spreadsheet and chart spo I have to consciously look at progress every day. But that doesn't seem very applicable to the garden, or maybe it is and I'm an idiot.
Hmmmm...tough call there...(at least for me...)
Flat Landers Return
Say, here's a Monday morning head-scratcher for you:
Of course, you and I just know the whole freakin Universe doesn't spin around Earth....or.... OK, so everything is already spinning (sideways if you want to think of it that way) So since it's already moving (sideways) at the time it's fired, it will keep moving sideways as long as...Hey! Wait a minute.....naw....
More coffee please.... Chocolate?
"LED Products billed as eco-friendly contain toxic metals, study finds." Fact claims a UC Irvine headline for this morning.
That does it...I'm going to stop sprinkling 620 nm LED's on my oatmeal. So there.
As We Were Sleeping
A reader wants to know - and it's a good question, why I didn't mention that the US Post Office actually beat the IMF in planning to implement Special Drawing Rights as the basis for international exchange as sent out in section 323: Priority Mail International Insurance rules here (scroll down).
Well, the two best excuses I can come up with off the top of my head (I do better excuses later in the week) are that
I've been nattering on about this Second Depre4ssion (masked but you ought to be figuring out somewhere in here - it's real - for more than 10 years.
A very good piece over at the Burning Platform deserves your time if you haven't seen the article yet: "Grapes of Wrath - 2011".
Only thought after reading it (nothing new to me in it) was I'm eternally grateful that the measure of our worth and lives is not bank balances or physical assets, but rather the stuff we carry in our hearts and the memories we have of this time around on.
Maybe I was too cynical about Valentine's Day. Be nice to think so, wouldn't it?
Before the chart, a little background:
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.
So one of our charts for Peoplenomics subscribers oughta be widely circulated - it shows that if you line up the peak of the Dow in January 2000 with the peak in early September of 1929, we're on a very very close replay track. Much closer than even the chart shows if you were to back out inflation, and put in the effects of 1929 deflation, but that'd be real work, and I'm sort of lazy if the truth be told.
No, it's not a perfect replay of 1929, but history doesn't repeat exactly, it only rhymes. So think of this as the rhymes and the crimes chart:
"George, that's only a coincidence!" your monkey-mind will protest.
Why sure it is...you bet. A 9½ year long coincidence...yessir....just a coincidence, we're like SO sure... (Shhh...don't tell anyone that major Depressions are two-part coupled affairs like the linkage between 1920-21 and 1929, OK? Damn, dude...don't spoil it for the sheep...)
Oh...don't forget to "Write when you get rich!"
George Ure, The People's Economist
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