A One Man Economic Daily Newspaper about the Second Depression in near real-time...
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Rare Sunday Update
1. The new predictive linguistics report from www.halfpasthuman.com is now available. Sorry for having to hint for so long, but it's out.
2. Using that crackpot theory (Clif's too sensible for this kind of thing, lol so this is my own monster) I alluded to in this weekend's Peoplenomics, I've been poring over charts all day and if my eyes aren't deceiving me, the earthquake around 05:30-06:00 UTC time tomorrow morning may be the hint where the Big One will be. If Arkansas bumps and the levy is blown this afternoon, odds favor New Madrid, but if somewhere else, Nevada, for example, hasta la California or some such sneaks back into the cards - or the Pacific Northwest. More in the morning per usual, whatever that is anymore.
A Quake Watch Update
I want to again repeat that I am NOT saying HAARP has anything to do with any possible pending earthquake! The University of Alaska's magnetometer chain is only a convenient data source.
Today on the subscriber site, a discussion of [a crackpot] earthquake theory and a new dart is thrown toward early-mid morning on 5/3 since at this point, as the newer magnetometer data seems pressing that way, and the levee up north hasn't been blown yet, but that could happen any time.
And if one more person says "yeah, that would put it on 5/3/11 which adds up to 19..." I'm gonna pull my hair out. Yeah, I know, I know....but just because the magnetometers are moving doesn't mean it's causative or even coincident - got it?
We're just watching things, like we watch the markets and such, too.
From this weekend's Peoplenomics report, this extract which may be of public interest. This is not a forecast of a quake, but some interesting data to be aware of:
Just a Reminder: This being the weekend, our updates are on the
www.peoplenomics.com site. $40
per year, but it keeps the lights on for this site, too...'
Not Another Math Class
Yeah, they're a royal pain and you're bound to get sick of math discussions to kick off the morning but if you hang in for this last observation, it may prove worthwhile. Besides, no math to it, since it's math-free Friday.
The dollar buys so much of a Euro chart this morning is about where it was at mid-morning in yesterdays session. Say around 10 AM market time. So our morning dart-launch will be for a close today, FOREX changes aside, to close in the 12,730 area.
And, since the money-changers seem preoccupied with the royal wedding, gold and silver could be relatively range-bound, although silver peaked up above $49 for a sec this morning. And could it break through $50 today? Yeah, sure, you betcha.
We have to wonder if that Welch gold put on the royal finger this morning was snatched from a Leprechaun?
When I looked earlier this morning, Google's news robots has turned up just under 40,000 stories about the royal shindig, which is odd since the press usually favors stories about equality, equal opportunity and yet being a royal is exactly the antithesis of those concepts. Go figure.
A Penny Save Department
Being devote worshippers at the Church of the Almighty Basis Point, we always look forward to the monthly report of Personal Incomes and Expenditures fresh off the press release:
Oh, and did I mention I'm the Easter Bunny? The only thing missing from the report is an honest disclaimer like the automakers have to use: "Your mileage may vary." Or, in this instance, your bank account.
...is a much more newsworthy event. Called the "Woodstock of Capitalism" though, this could be a tough meeting for Warren Buffett up in Omaha. Likely, sometime this weekend, we'll be able to go to the Chairman's letters archive online here, and see what the sage has to say for himself. The tales about possibly being misled by one of his top lieutenants makes juicy advance reading in advance.
Sure, it lacks some of the flowery play-by-play, but as sags the fortunes of the Unemployed Kingdom, we have to wonder how soon before Berkshire buys Europe. I hear the asking price is falling.
With the floodwaters rising along the Mississippi River, especially in the St. Louis area, we have to wonder whether we're coming up to problems with the Red River which figures prominently in earlier Shape of Things to Come reports.
President Obama is planning to visit Alabama to look at storm damage, as the death toll is somewhere north of 300 today.
Despite the extreme rains up north, the Texas drought has intensified:
This is terrible news because one end of the country is too wet, and one end too dry. But I'm confident some government economist will find a way to apply a fancy geometric mean to the data and reassure us that on average, the country is doing fine.
Unless, like us, you shop at Wally World. Wal-Mart announced yesterday its "shoppers are running out of money."
In deference to math-free Friday's we'll save the startling implications of this for Peoplenomics on Sunday.
Out to Launch
You can almost hear the iron bars closing over the future, eh? Locking us out of being a spacefaring nation, let alone spacefaring humans.
There Goes America Notes
You saw this week where the Supremes (the high court kind, not the Motown greats) are making it next to impossible to sue companies which weasel enough legal-jumbo into their contracts limiting the right of people to sue for whatever.
Simply solved through creative/full-disclosure marketing. Hence forth, we shall change references from the U.S. Supreme Court to U.S. Supreme Corp which oversees one third of what's quickly becoming The United Stakes in America.
(More after this)
Coping: With the "Birther Distraction"
Contrary to what one reader thinks, listening to the rumor mill and then asking logical, well-formed questions is not what makes a person a racist. Apparently, just being open to asking questions, doing research, and going beyond the spoon-fed pabulum from the mainstream media does, in the minds of some qualify as racism.
Not around here, though. We try to read widely and to keep our thinking unbounded, so whether it's Mein Kampf or any other controversial source material, I find myself reading several hours per day not because I believe in a particular point of view, but because I want to understand the alternative views.
Think of it like this: Having an opinion on crime is something where the persuasion blocks and holders of thought can be broadly divided into two groups. Those who have been victims of crime, and those who have not.
That said, we continued our research yesterday into this whole [latest iteration] of the 'birther' argument and found continued disagreement.
So here are a few facts that we've collected from various readers who have made factual contributions to our inquiry.
First, on the hospital question, here's an interesting email:
OK, this one has hi creds with me and it's good enough to be taken at face value I think. So, the 'birthers' have to roll over on this one and give it up - the point goes to Obama on this. And, it's not that just one reader contributed; I got a nice note from a mother who had twins born in the same hospital about the same time so this one is done, gone, off the table.
Next question was about what Kenya was called at the time: A well-studied reader (who's quite a stamp collector, by the way) sends this:
So, once again, point Obama, birthers trailing two to nothing.
But now comes the interesting stuff from the professional community that does Illustrator for a living.
And when I think about this it makes sense. If someone 'high up' was going to modify anything on the birth certificate, likely one of the inner core would be the one taking up the task, and since the higher ups in any organization don't necessarily know how to run the powertools involved, this kinda makes sense.
Our Hawaiian source in the MSM out there wandered into the newsroom yesterday and one of the more open-minded reporters pointed to this video on YouTube, after which our correspondent report...
Unfortunately for Obama, it's not the only mistake in the document. There's another pointed out by this Illustrator-savvy reader who's worried about more than just the 'layers' issue:
Well no, it's not - IF the State of Hawaii used Microfiche and simply printed the document onto 'forgery resistant paper" which sure looks like the case to me. So that one's not convincing, at all since that paper probably wasn't around in 1961.
The author of yesterday's email wrote in admitting that his further research into both Kenya's name and the hospital's name were wrong. But he, too, is stumped by the amateur-level errors in the so-called birth certificate file:
Let me slip into "forensic" George mode for a sec: It's not proof but I see the point in the pixelation difference between the R and the two A's in Barack when zoomed 6400% in current Acrobat Reader s/w:
Interesting, but would there be an alternative explanation? Sure! The scanner might have 'averaging' processing in gray areas and a light touch on the R could have resulted in a different processing mode which went all gray. A fair question is why would the A's seem to have double-resolution scan data compared with the R...that's a good one, especially if the R was on a different layer....
But for now, no. One pixel off the R is about the same as two off the A's so could just be how the scanner s/w works.
I'll bet long after Obama leaves office, this will be in the same category as Roswell and the grassy knoll; grist for the Conspiracy Industry. That is, after all, one of the few industries that we haven't outsourced.
Now, to look at this with an open (and curious) mind, does not make one a "racist". I'd be asking the same questions if any other human, purporting to be an American citizen, had done the same thing: sitting on college transcripts and the birth cert for three years.
There's another election just ahead, and even though the lesson of Florida is that voting may not matter, we still get to decide who the next guy in the White House will be when time comes.
Turning over transcripts and the long-delayed birth cert is a non-starter in terms of making up my mind on that. Getting a Nobel prize for peace and not stopping any wars (or Gitmo)? That's another matter.
Friday At the WuJo:
Workings of The I-Ching Inbox
Apparently I'm supposed to say something this morning about the Sunday or Monday major earthquake to come and apparently I'm supposed to mention Puget Sound/ Vancouver Island.
First, our correspondent in Oklahoma, up in the 10-14" of rain area, sent an email about the Quileute Indians who are working toward moving their community to higher ground because of fears over coming earth changes/tsunamis....
Second step was I didn't follow the dye reference mentioned, so I called up and said what was that part?
Turns out there was a spill of green dye into a river up on Vancouver Island about 20-miles from Victoria in January. The email on this was sent to me in Janujary but didn't show up until a resend yesterday.
My friend being the math whiz PhD type figures the cost of the dye in the river would be somewhere well north of $5,000 since it would take several 55-gallon drums of the stuff. Doesn't it seem a bit frigging odd that someone would pop $5,000 (or more) on a "prank"? Sure does to us. Especially temporally on the wrong side of Christmas and long before St. Paddies, know what I mean?
In fact there was a tiny in-town dyeing event then too, so it was all thought connected...but just too damn beyond the outliers. We kept coming back to "Who's gonna drop $5-grand worth of chemicals on a nothing prank within driving distant of nowhere?
While this was glossed over as a "prank" in the MSM, my science-savvy friend points out that the fluorescein dye used in the river was not something that needs to be visibly green to be useful. It's something that is used with a fluoroscope and there are water-born devices for seeing how layers of water mix, and so forth.
But THAT while interesting (downright conspiratorial grist) it wasn't what floored me as I dug a little deeper into the background of the dyed river case on Vancouver Island. It was THIS:
THAT is a picture of the old Lubbe Power House 20-miles from Victoria B.C. which supplied power to Victoria around the turn of the century.
And what's so special about the picture? Oh, not much except that I had a vivid dream about this exact spot in one of those vivid dreams of mine more than two-years ago, that's all.
I can remember the land falls away down a short valley from this side of the building and that there was another building, which I got the sense in the dream was a machine shop of sorts.
And, in the dream there was a kind of trail down the valley, behind, and what would be to the left in the picture. And what I had in the dream as a curving walkway down the valley with posts and a rope of some kind on top of it was this picture. Woo-woo at its finest and the hair on the back of my neck still stands up when I think about it.
(Thanks to Kiwibirdman for the photos which he generously shared on the net. They really weirded me out.)
I don't mind being a laughing stock, but remember that the last time there was a major celebrity wedding (Jenna Bush's 2008 hitching) we had a major quake - the 7.8 in China shortly thereafter? Like 37-hours later?
Given the celeb wedding this morning a large number of readers have been asking "Could we get a wedding quake?"
Beats me, but I'm apparently supposed to mention Vancouver Island just by the odd way information rolled in and my precise recall of the two year old dream it set off.
Be sure and drop by after a completely uneventful weekend, since as we're fond of saying "If George can imagine it, it probably won't happen." Like our prescient warnings about the "Wedding quake" which predictive linguistics nailed in advance of the 2008 shaker, and the wedding pictures from that temple came out two weeks later, if you recall.
Still, no reason to be totally freaked out. The Chief Time Monk thought yesterday that the arrival of an unusual storm system up in the PNW might have set off that mass bird flocking we mentioned yesterday.
Good. Fine by me. Don't need any super quakes going off this weekend. I've got too many other things on my plate right now, thank you.
Still, just as I was writing this, a note from Nightingale-Conant (the big MPA/motivational) publishers popped in with a curious 'quote of the day" given my question about the timing of this and how a misplaced email from January triggered total recall of an incredibly vivid dream about a place on Vancouver Island:
"There are no accidents... there is only some purpose that we haven't yet understood." -Deepak Chopra
Write, then. On to Monday we go....I'll spend the weekend continuing to watch the Inbox I-Ching.
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Bracing for a "Disruptive Technology" Disaster
That the world has seen a lot of different types of disasters over the past several millennia isn't disputed. There've been floods, hurricanes & typhoons, earthquakes, conquests of despots, and the usual sort of stuff that shows up in history books. But what's coming into view - thanks to the recently evolved global mass consciousness of the internet - is something entirely new: And Information Disaster which could destroy the world. But, as always, we'll try to start at the beginning which in this case happens to be found in a mix of old Superman comics, Kurzweil's Singularity is Near, and WikiLeaks & Stuxnet.
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 April 28, 2011
There Really Was No Rally
Yes, you probably thought gold going up more than a dozen dollars on Wednesday constituted a rally. And sure, a gain of nearly $2-bucks in silver might have leaned you to that way of thinking, too. And even if the metals screaming didn't get your attention, then the 95+ point advance in the Dow, surely that must have indicated a rally was underway, would it not?
Well, no. In point of fact, if I were ever to get a guest-lecturing invite to a suitable economics class, this morning's assignment would be easy: Explain why yesterday's market action was NOT a rally.
Does it sound unbelievable? Well, it isn't, and here's why.
We begin where my early finance mentor told me to always begin in such investigations: with the money itself since the world of finance is always about relative value. Borrowing a chart from Yahoo Finance and putting some notes on it, let's see how yesterday's exchange rate between the USDollar and the EURo looked from our side of the pond:
Much as we despise two days of math stories before coffee kicks in, this is important, so follow along. By the chart above, we can see that the foreign holders of USA paper dollars decided due to the Fed inaction yesterday, to lower the purchasing power of our Buck by a tad more than one percent.
Does that mean that to a Chinese investor, the nominal price of a US home just got about one percent cheaper? Yes. But that's not our line of inquiry here. instead, let's wheel out the Dow which opened yesterday at 12,480.86.
Now, multiply the Dow times 1.1 percent (the amount the USD fell in the currency markets) and what do you get? 12,619.43 which, though it's about 20-points off from the actual close of the market yesterday is close enough around here.
The venerable S&P opened yesterdayt at 1,336.75 so according to this hair-brained (though sadly, reality-based) view, the S&P should have closed at 1,351.59, but again, it was slightly off, though within a point or two during the session.
Now, we'll go to the Kitco gold chart for the period and note that before the
Fed decision, gold was down in the $1,510 range. And, as soon as the rest-of-world figured out the Fed was going to do absolutely nothing of consequence, up came the 1.1% move as dictated by the gnomes of exchange rates who now run the world. Gold should have gone to $1,531.82. Sorry, only got to $1,530, but we could quibble decimal points all day long.
Now, I realize this is all harsh, hard to swallow, and all that, but when the smoke has all cleared away, there has been no rally. Just a foreign exchange move which is rippling through the system. If you think there was a rally and that your money will actually buy more today, it's only because prices are slower than markets to catch on.
So, the dark, ugly secret is that if the USD rallies back above the exchange-rate swing close of last night, then the metals should be flat today, or down, and the markets should pull back as well. But if the gnomes ratchet down the dollar more, so too will the opposite case hold forth.
If you don't look at what the real money (the offshore globalista/narcomoney) is doing, you're missing a tremendous bit of insight into the global money game.
And hopefully, when you read about how the 2008 flash-crash might have been caused by "terrorists" you're bright enough to think "No, it was just the narco-money signaling they are still able to hold the whole global economy hostage so don't get too serious about borders or immigration..."
Both sides of the narco-money reality have been hiding behind "terrorism" since 2001 and it's been a fine game piece all around.
But, the reality is this: You move money, you move policy. Yes, the nominal averages went up. But if you take that "money" and try to buy something from Europe, Japan, or...gulp... China with it?
So I contend: There was no rally Wednesday, but it was a moving day, nevertheless.
Storms and Floods
The predictive linguistics, which told us this Spring we would get our own version of the weather extremes that occurred when the predicted "rivers in the atmosphere" showed up to flood massive areas of Australia a few months back, are now coming (sadly) to pass.
There are flash flood warnings this morning up in the Northeast (PA.) and tornado watches up in North Carolina as the killer storms amble off eastward:
(Click either map for updates.)
Speaking of the predictive linguistics, we keep scanning headlines for the Red River because we saw some indications of a dam break in the older data, and in the Red River (up in the Canadian prairie lands) the Red River up there has caused "Damage of 'biblical proportions': US envoy" says.
So we keep watching and wondering if this will be a 'swing & a miss" or whether one of the Red Rivers, the one in Canada, or the one up in the ArkLaTex, pumped by those 10 inches plus in OK these past few days, will provide the rest of the linguistic fill. All things in time, as goes the time monk credo.
One Freaked Out Time Monk
Speaking of which, we're inside a day or two from a possible major Pacific Northwest earthquake, which would fit with the other temporal marker either along in here, or out around mid-May.
Clif - architect of the technology - called last night a bit freaked out. He was working on his new (escape) boat project and happened to come outside into the rain and notices a large Vee of Canadian geese flying southwest over his how. Maybe 50 birds in a vee formation. And then he looked and saw another...and another....and another, such that there were hundreds of Canadian honkers flying to the southwest from around Olympia Washington toward the southern part of the Olympic Mountains and their foothills.
'Bout freaked him right out. Me, too, since we've been worried about the kids/family up in the Seattle area due to the predictive hints up that way.
If you've been watching the USGS site, you already know this, but so we're clear on it: There have been a ton of quakes down in the southern Mexico area, the ongoing series in the Mexicali/El Centro/Imperial Valley, and the ones in Nevada. And we've got motion up around Kodiak, too.
Where there hasn't been a lot of action is care to guess? Pacific Northwest.
While the whole of the Pacific Plate is shuddering a bit, with Luzon, Philippines and even Hawaii getting little quakes, we watch the charts nervously with the ham radio gear set on the Maritime Mobile Services Net (14,300 KHz, USB) which will be our meet-up frequency if the fit hits the shan up thataway.
If nothing the next few days, then there's about another 2-week break before we pop back into another window, data-wise....
Birther Issues Continue
The release of the (pick your terms here) purported, alleged, so-called, yada, yada) birth certificate by the White House has turned into a major boner. I mean, this one puts Viagra to shame kind.
Here's a hint at why: The Smoking Gun's article is a good start "Will Release of Obama's Purported Birth Certificate Give Rise to New (birth) "Certer" Movement?"
Up until now, I had blown off most of the 'birther stuff' since Obama is the nominal president and ain't no removing him, since the PTB run the country away, despite representations contrary wise. We learned that with the Big Bank Free Money Festival on the Potomac.
But that was until a reader - we'll call him "Joe" - sent me this amazing email which includes (gasp!) source documentation on some serious inconsistencies:
Sure as hell, the hospital part is true, as you can read about the 1978 merger here.
The discussion about the East Africa Protectorate is less decisive, however. Still, Keyna didn't gain independence until 1963, be preceded in independence by Tanganyika which became Tanzania, Uganda, and then Kenya. Whether it would have been referred to in Hawaii as the Kenya Colony of Great Britain, however is an interesting discussion, for sure.
Don't mean to throw gas on the debate here, but our reader makes some disturbing points. When coupled with the report on Death by 1,000 Papercuts that "Obama Birth Certificate: Adobe Illustrator Reveals Different Layers" well, things to be not look as sold... Still, we're just offering cites which is what research if for, after all. Might try firing up Illustrator if you have it and see if it auto-generates layers, though...
But the hospital merger? That one bothers me. Be interesting to see if other birth certs from that period show the same name, huh? I know a TV engineer out in the Islands who might know some folks up in the newsroom who could pull a few to check. Make an SDX or Pulitzer, I reckon. You on this? Email me the link to the story when it airs is all I ask...
And if it doesn't prove out, I'd be pleased to put this all to bed...again.
Jobless Claims Jump
So much for that, on to the markets which may choke on the weekly unemployment data:
The Best for Last Department
No Thursday morning would be complete without a bit of humor, so for that we turn to the preliminary GDP report:
Along about here, you're likely wondering "So what funny about having 13% M1 money growth, a GDP up only a lousy-stinking 1.8% and inflation screaming ahead and headed higher as the dollar collapses and overseas goods go through the freaking roof?"
Well, actually there is nothing funny about any of it. Except the number of people who are sleeping through the End Times of the Dollar. Thank HDTV subliminals and fluoride for that, huh?
Coping: Delightfully Over-Engineered
"George, can you do something with this? The lid to our favorite spaghetti and pasta pan has come off, see?"
If there was ever a time for the local Home HandyBastard's Club card-carrying member to step up and solve the blonde in distress' troubles, this was it. Not only was continued nuptial bliss on the line, but so was justifying that small fortune in machine tools I've acquired for such occasions. If the world ends, I want to be able to make spare parts. As trading goods, you understand.
"What'd yah have in mind, dear?" I started, innocently enough.
"Just fix it..."
My heart jumped leaped joy, for this was not the usual 'home improvement' discussion. This one didn't have a budget, three accountants, and an OSHA inspector which I lovingly call the Mrs. when she's on one of her "Why do you put power cords so you can walk and trip on them?" questions,
All home HandyBastards know the answer to this trick question by heart: "So I can check if my rubber-soled shoes are really good insulators, dear...and yes, the will is in order if not...", and so forth.
The old lid handle was cooperative because while its plastic has been stripped out, it yielded up the stainless screw and hard rubber bushing remained.
Management had called out something as I'd hurriedly left the house that sounded like "What about some 5-minute Epoxy?" Nope. That's how a coward would have solved the problem.
Showing up in the shop with a fresh cup of coffee and the computers all bogged down (since were still on the 'thin pipe' onto the internet, which is like going from 48" culvert done to a clogged icemaker water line in the wake of our tornados and t-storms), I had time to kill, as I chanced upon a piece of leftover aluminum round stock on the lathe. Crime is when a schemer notices opportunity; and my plan quickly hatched.
Wouldn't it be cool to have a really unique, heat dissipating lid handle instead of that old. smallish high-temperature plastic one? How boring can they make consumer stuff, anyway? Let's Create! Improve!
"Hand me a cut-off tool, wouldja, Zeus?" My Editor in Chief/cat runs after the machinery starts up, but he was hanging around, curious-like. Probably waiting for the bloodshed, since no worthy shop project occurs without injury ofr some kind, but there wasn't to be any on this job.
Slicing off a 2½ inch hunk of round stock left over from a previous project (gone horribly awry, a tale for another time) I chucked it up. First, a little facing work. Then a good-sized heat-dissipating groove.
A stylish flip of the quick-change post spun up the knurling tool and within 20-minutes, not counting coffee breaks, phone calls, a walk, pee break, and time with the cat, out pops this delightful and eye pleasing work of art seen to the left.
Presenting this masterpiece of American craftsmanship, I was a bit underwhelmed by the reception. Maybe there's a gender-specific reaction to such fine knurling atop breakthrough designs?
THAT - sitting in from of one of the monitors on my desk - my friend, is a man-manly-man cooking lid control device. Keep the design quiet, though, since I don't want it ripped off and being made in Asia on the cheap. We need jobs here. Amazingly, I didn't break the glass lid in the process, either. Don't know how I missed that. Maybe a kind of post-Easter miracle.
Males of the species see beauty in all kinds of machinery, hyper-designs expressed in the flowing lines of boats, airplanes, those new uplift things, and engines that can generate more than 3-horsepower per cubic inch of displacement while making lots of noise.
On t'other hand, females don't usually seem as much interested in noise as nesting, favoring 600-thread count sheets over 600 HP vehicles most times, refined wines over 'shine, and they're just generally unimpressed with most things except Line 43 on a 1040 (taxable income), and its Important Companion Line 74a ( refund amount, if greater than zero). OK, so they're smarter, then. This is not sexism, just a generalization based on 62-years of field research and a very expensive catch & release program.
Still, given the opportunity to step up to a modern-day version of "clubbing dinner" out in the shop with the lathe, especially with an open-ended and unsupervised project...well, how does Life get better?
OK, besides a winning lotto ticket, finding a treasure map, or being left an unexpected $50-mil inheritance, then.
Perhaps this show of confidence was the result of my other recent 'over-engineering' feat, which was the installation of the hidden bedroom door to the guest room, which I haven't caught you up on.
Our home/house/modular didn't start off to be quirky and Disney-like, but that's the kind of brains we have, so that's where the house went. No audio-animatronics yet, but things are wandering that way. The Trader Vic's-look thatched dining room is great, the black, wood, and chrome kitchen, the Mediterranean arch into the living area, the Northwest Cabin with mural office for Elaine and now the hidden bedroom.
Not that you'd do this kind of radical "Let's go Disney It!" with a real house. But with a throw-away house? "Sure, WTF, hand me the Sawzall or whatever that yellow DeWalt thingy is with the 8" house-wreck blade on it, please. Circuits in this wall off?"
Our house guests showed up a week ago Saturday with their gear, all tuckered out from their flight (and my driving) augmented by 372 pounds of great Mexican food up at Mercado's in Tyler. OK, a glass or three of wine, too.
Once they rolled the suitcases into the living room, I gently told them "OK, go stash your gear and let's watch movie & chill out for a while...." Warm and friendly-like so as not to tip them off that something was in the offing... my trap silently sprung.
Elaine's son Alan had been here before, so he carefully looked the room and I could see he was going through his memory bank.
"Where's the bedroom...isn't there one over that way somewhere?" he said gesturing toward the wall with the media center, my hidden bookcase and off toward Elaine's office.
"Uh huh..." That was all he was getting. I wasn't gonna cut him any slack or give out clues on this; this was quickly going idle curiosity to a serious science project. Visual acuity, dim lighting, workmanship, fit, finish, did that moulding match up on the right there? Did I miss any visual clues that would give it way?
"Oh, I get it..." And with that he confidently walked into the hall closet and where he had a somewhat noisy three-minute encounter with two vacuum cleaners, a bunch of bamboo poles for another other project, a music keyboard, the violin and bass guitar cases, a small bass amp, ands the other usual stuff that accumulates in hall closets. I was considered ask if he'd found any dead scorpions or the missing extension cord when he emerged...
"OK, what'd you do?"
I tried like hell to look innocent, but I wasn't, so I did the next best thing. "Go over to the bookcase..."
He did that, gave it a dismissive glance and he just stood there. Staring at me. "And?"
I let him stew for a few seconds longer, savoring the delicious balance between the engineer's/HandyBastard's delight in a successful optical illusion on the one hand, against the increasingly menacing glower from a guest 15 years younger and in way better shape on the other...as his spouse looked on.
"OK, push on the (secret) shelf." I wanted to drag it out more, but there are certain conduct expectations of hosts, yada, yada, social graces, yada, yada...
Nothing happened. "What?"
Suddenly, an unseen magnetic catch gave way revealing the guest bedroom. Everyone smiled. It was excellent fun of the mind-bending sort which reminds people, things are never completely as they seem.
It was worth all the effort to over-engineer that one to behold a guest looking around thinking "...OMG there's nowhere to sleep!... what have we gotten ourselves into???..."
Well, just the Guest Room, as it turns out. But now we have a new praoblem. I can't remember where that room is...we know its around here somewhere, though.
How I Became a Columnist
I got to thinking a week, or so, back "What could I do to enhance my website in the way of professional memberships?" Read a few books lately on websites and 'credibility' and thought I could throw some dimes that way.
I considered several groups of economists, but after a quick review trashed them in a heartbeat simply because they didn't have anything really new to contribute. Why most haven't even held C-level positions so they operate without contact with the real world.
But wait: Would I want to be singled out as an "economist" here in East Texas? Why, most certainly not! I'd want a more honorable reputation. Axe murder or be a "Madoff assistant" would be an upgrade.
Now that he's out, I wonder if Marty Armstrong will be invited into such circles of quackery? He obviously knows enough to be locked up as too dangerous to the global economic schemers. Wonder if economic associations have their own versions of exorcisms; I mean beyond peer-review.
So next I went to looking up writing groups. A few caught my eye. There were some journalisticky groups, but been there, done that. Finally, I found one that was in my price range (reasonable) high-minded sounding, although not up to erudite which is a good thing.
So, it's with some flourish that I unveil my membership in the National Society of Newspaper Columnists (www.columnists.com) where I hope to learn something more about writing more interesting columns.
That said, however, I did a little snooping. Too much police beat time back when, I expect...
I spent a few minutes with www.alexa.com to see what the other columnists in the world were doing in terms of web rankings. Not on their publisher's pages where they ride on the backs of breaking news and so on, but rather to see where the public was giving more than a tinker's damn about what they had to say when not on a high circ gravy train. How was their writing when they working strictly doing on the merit of their own words with no other attractants?
Not too well in many cases. This is probably a fair way to judge how good the writer is, though. Given enterprise, an infinite list of topics to pick from, and the ability to pick any side of any issue (like politicians), it seems like it ought to be easy to build a hugely popular (or populist) following.
You see, as it turns out, many of the aspiring columnists rankings are significantly below those which you (and that other reader here) have been able to provide given my constant urgings to hit your 'refresh' (F5, fool!) button every article or two while reading what's offered here.
Doesn't mean their thinking is wrong. Far from it. Just means that running an information enterprise requires coalescence of a group of people around ideas and if there's not audience, there's been no rah-rah-siss-boom-bah, if you follow.
I've done a bit of research on this "columnisty" stuff already, starting in 1971.
My first experience back then was doing the sound engineering for the on air editorials which the late Emmett Watson of the Seattle P.I. did for KOL AM-FM back in the Dick Curtis/ (late) Lan Roberts days in Seattle rock & roll radio history. I still hear from Zippo Deluxe (sometimes seen in the company of Gary Lockwood) once in a while...another legendary Seattle golden age of rock era news director who last I heard had moved up U.S. 2 toward Start-Up, Washington. Big cities cause heart attacks, and the numbers speak for themselves. Trust me on this.
Emmett was an ideal columnist. Smart, rational, logically consistent, and the founder of Lesser Seattle, a civic group with three or four members that was sworn to turning back the influx of Californicators who were invading Washington State back then and persist even now.
Like a Libertarian these days, his heart was in the right place, it seemed like there were more Californians then, just like there are more lobbyists and corporate interests skulking about now.
Still, standing and yelling at the tide, especially the poisoned ones, is what columnists are supposed to do.
You may not agree with some of the views expressed around here, especially when, as this morning's lead article points out "There was not Rally in the market yesterday, despite the nearly 100-point rise."
The role of a proper columnist, as I learned from Watson back when, is to call the trends as you see them, sorting out whether they're an improvement or just a mindless change, then rally people to a sensible cause if there's one available, and if not, found it and get some legs under it. So began Lesser Seattle. An abject failure, but morally it was right on.
Last year when we were up in Seattle, I noticed how the West Coast cities were moving North, trading places. L.A. of the 1960's was now in the Bay Area.
The Bay Area of the 1960's was Seattle of last year. And don't look now, but Bellingham or Anacortes up Puget Sound a ways, may be the next Seattle, although Everett is making a run at it and will get there sooner, although with more of a "Sandy Eggo to L.A." kind of relationship. Herb Caen was up the coast a ways from there at the Chronicle.
The other thing columnists do is try to keep an oral history going. After retiring from his column (or nearly so) Emmett started up an oyster bar down under the Pike Place Market, where, for a while he would periodically hold court. People would go not just to eat the food (which was great) but to be reassured that group think is not an Article in the Constitution. Popular opinion to the contrary notwithstanding.
Big Siss aside, it's still not. And yes, we need to see it and say it. But who dares anymore? You saw where former Treasury Sec Paul O'Neill says opponents of the debt-limit hikes are "terrorists"? Keep on reading and I'll see you in the camps.
That's what columnists are supposed to warn people about: Telling people when the Constitution is degrades to a G.d. piece of paper and promoting common [Constitutional] sense, such as it really ever was common; that’s the trade.
I'm not normally much of a 'joiner' but joining with other columnists in a professional association is an interesting toss at the dartboard.
Although it'd be pricey, I'm pondering whether Elaine & I should go to their convention up in Detroit come June. Might learn a thing or two, could blow out a liver, or gain some fantastic insight into the new frontiers of thought into the Singularity is Near reality soon-come.
My bet's on the liver.
Still, I won't consider myself "offishully" a member till someone sends me more than a PayPal receipt and I show up in the membership roster. I did actually proofread the application (which I obviously don't do with these morning massifs) and who knows, maybe I can sneak in.
If so, we'll hold a reader get-together in Motown this summer. Not hosted, mind you, just show up, buy your own beverage, and let's talk. Maybe even at the ritzy hotel where our staff tax whiz says it is a legit business expense to stay for the duration of the conference. Thank God for those blessed in IRS Code interpretation, at least on this point. Hey! I could do a PowerPoint and that wou8ld mean a new laptop! I love IRS.
Bottom line, though, is I have not yet been accepted formally unto this great and hallowed assemblage. I think I've got the requisite news credentials, degrees, and 'philosophy of inquiry' coupled with an engaging writing style.
I'll let you know if the membership is refunded. If they had brains, they'd do that in a heartbeat.
I'm trouble with a capital 'p'. There, what did I tel you about proofreading bean my be my Achilles hell?
Sure as I'm the up & coming Sampson of economic journalism, the fashion-conscious conscious Elaine is my Delilah; always after me with the scissors to trim my eyebrows which I zealously guard.
But at least now - as a genuine columnist - I should be able to grow my bushy eyebrows unimpeded, since I swear (or nearly so), they make for better writing as any observant columnist would duly report.
Wednesday April 27, 2011
Fed: No Tightening, But...
The Fed seems to be indicating the end of Quantative Easing inb June, if you read the FOMC Statement just out in a certain light:
While the Fed is not coming right out and saying no more Treasury buying, it could be read as this will be enough. OR, not.
That's what's so cool about statements like this. They tell us little about where things were going that wasn't known prior to the meeting (since the plan always has been to keep on buying through June) but I suppose bulls will read this as here comes more free lunches for the Wall Street Gangs, which, sadly it may well be.
Fed Should Raise: Why Speaks Ben?
Straight off: This is Fed Day and I believe either this time, or the next, the Fed will have to raise rates by 25-50 basis points, which is ¼ to ½ percent. Cutting rates has been a failure and there's a good case a colleague and I made way back in 2001 that the time will come when things will operate backwards and that the only way out of collapse will be to raise rates; but more as your coffee soaks in.
This could also be one the week that we see one of those old market adages prove how it gains its venerability: Buy the Rumor, Sell the News. Right after the rate decision today, Fed Boss Ben Bernanke will be holding a press conference this afternoon and it could be a doozy.
This marks the first time the Fed chief has done a press conference to explain the rate decision and I bet he's figured out what we forecast more than 10-years ago would happen.
In simplest terms, the Fed is in a box. If they don't raise rates, the task of selling enough US paper products (T bills, notes, and so forth) will sag. And, what's worse, but should be evident by looking at a long term dollar/gold or dollar/silver chart, is that the US dollar continues to experience a slow-motion train wreck.
If you're asking global financial circles to buy US debt, it had better pay a competitive interest rate. Ours presently doesn't. Worse: Any country foolish to buy our debt recently not only faces an interest-rate risk, but the second whammy of the adverse currency exchange.
Say, for example, that you were thinking about buying a 5% Japanese financial instrument of some stripe. You bought this paper abstraction a year ago and it paid acceptable interest then. A trip to the Oanada currency calculator says you would have gotten 93.34 Yen per dollar. Oh, and you could have purchased 0.7717 Euro for a Buck.
Now, we zip forward to this week and see how things are going: The Japanese Yen has appreciated relative to the Dollar so that you'd get only 83.89 Yen per Buck and worse, that same dollar would only buy 0.6919 Euro as of Monday.
What's more, when I look at my 'launch page charts' here, I notice that the Dollar will only buy 0.6862 Euro this morning.
Well, here's the first two things you need to get through your head because the rules of the macroeconomic picture have changed - and rather dramatically in the past year.
NEW RULE: Interest Doesn't Matter At the Macroeconomic Level
This is incredibly dangerous, because if interest rates don't act like control surfaces on aircraft, the plane is going to crash since it's no longer "under control." Got that? Economy is not under control of the Central Bankers! OMG can't have that, can we?
Let's look at the US/Jpy relationship to see how this is so.
A year ago, let's say you took $10,000 worth of dollars and bought those 5% Japanese paper products.
You would have received something worth 933,400 Yen.
Fast forward to this morning: In a currency-spread free world, you would simply take your original 933,400 Yen investment plus the 5% interest and you'd cash out 980,070 Yen into dollars.
But hang on! See what has happened to the Exchange rate? As of Monday - since the JA Yen is up to 83.89, you would get back US$11,682.80.
That's 16,8% interest plus currency swing. It conclusively proves that atleast insofar as the Yen is concerned, you would only have made 5% on the underlying investment. But you're real gains would come from the interest rate swing which accounted for the major portion of your jackpot, the other 11.828% of the gain.
So, repeat after me: Interest rates don't matter to the Big Guys anymore, which is why the Fed hasn't Ben too pressured on rates. It will, however, if left unsolved, destroy America.
"Holy crap! I didn't realize the currency swings going on were so damn big. What can we do about it?"
Not much, actually, except raise rates. You can bet that if you buy one of those high end made in Japan cars (the Lexi, for example) we could very well see the same thing happening to them that happened to the German cars (like my Porsche back in the 19780's and early 1980's) such that you may have been able to buy a lease-return Lexus, drive it or a year or four, and then sell it for as much as you paid for it over time. Just depends on how far these currency swings go, doesn't it?
A second proof shouldn't be needed, but if it is, the numbers for the Euro 5% investment go like this:
Repeat after me again: Interest doesn't matter.
SECOND: U.S. Government Statistics Are Misleading
Yes, they are a well-constructed lie, and they are self-referentially integrious, but that doesn't mean they tell the truth about what's really going on with American's personal finance.
As I have told you many times over the past months: There has been no job creation since 2004. Population has gone up, but the actual number of jobs had not returned to 2004 levels. This means we are a poorer country and all the fancy doodling and hedonistic adjustments. When competent financial columnists like John Crudele at the NY Post started ratting out the number-jiggling, the Labor Department included some of the best government double-speak I've read to convince the public this wasn't so:
All perfectly true, except that the sleight of hand happens when you accept the notion that everything is revealed in that "...consumers shift their purchases toward products that have fallen in relative price."
In other words, the steak count goes down and the chicken count goes up, but this is wrapped up in statistical methodology related to a geometric mean instead of outright fraud.
To understand how this kind of price counting works, we refer to the Wikipedia entry:
Now, let's pretend that we've gone shopping for a box of Pop Tarts for breakfast and there are three prices which can be found: $4 a box, $1 a box and $ 0.33 a box. Using a geometric mean, the Labor Department could argue (straight-faced) that the Consumer Price of a Box of Pop Tarts is 50¢.
On the other hand, there is another way to look at the problem called the median; where half the prices are above, and half below the central point of the data. In this case, the Mean would be $1 for our box of Pop Tarts.
The simplest way is to add up all three prices and divide by three (the arithmetic mean). In which case, ($4 +1 +$0.33)/3 = $1.7766 per box.
Right about here, you should be gasping for sanity, since clearly the price of Pop Tarts that you and I buy are going to be (on average) $1.77 per box and the Labor Department use of a different math approach is simply mean.
But they don't have any choice, since if Pop Tarts went into the market basket at $1.77, military and Social Security would go through the roof and wage inflation would come along and that would push the dollar down even faster.
So, are we having fun yet? Besides making a note to ask the Labor Department one of these days if they use coupons in their price calculations (or buy one, get one free which would build their statistical case for living in Lah-Lah Land) we'll just be anxious as hell to see if the Fed pops rates up later on today, since interest doesn't matter any more.
And in deference to this morning's math discussion, I'll be eating Pop Tarts instead of our usual popcorn. I got a whole bunch of 'em on sale with a coupon.
Back to point: I have beat you senseless with the concept of Purchasing Power Parity and this week, the IMF came over to that camp and although they only said China was going to overtake the US in 2016, the thing they didn't say, that would upset the applecart in the US was that the US Standard of living must necessarily fall since although prices may be made to appear stable domestically, when measured against a global market basket of currencies we've got problems. Serious ones.
Way I figure it, most of the recent move in gold and silver, not to mention the Dow, has just been more money (M1 is being printed at a 13% annualized rate) chasing the same stocks and the same amount of metals so prices will naturally go which way?
As I explain in this morning's coping section, the right thing for the Fed to do is raise 1/2 a percent, something that became obvious back in 2001....but like I said, more in the coping section on this...
The Durable Goods Report is just out:
Let me see here: None of this tells me diddly about unit sales so without that it's just so much hoo-hah. Still, shipments up 1.8% in a month either means the people are buying again, or prices out the door are going up like crazy...but in truth it'll be some mix.
To Market, To Market
A note from Gary Lammert as he's waiting on the albino black swan to show up and thinking maybe Fed Speaks Ben will be it:
Which means, "After this, because of this" and it's a kind of logical boondoggle where a person might do something proactively (like raise or lower rates) but because they did that, it actually causes the outcome they were trying to prevent.
Nothing big, though, just something like utter global financial collapse. But there's still the weekend.
Weathering the Storms
This morning's report is a bit truncated due to our big internet pipe being down and so we're running on one of our (slower) onramps to the net. Our main "onramp" just a couple of hops from fiber is down due to tower problems and the fact that no one seems to be crazy enough to go climb 900-feet up a tower to change components with lightning and rain. They just don't grow field engineers like they used to.
While we've only had about an inch of rain here, the situation up north of us was horrible. At least 26 tornados were reported in Northeast Texas and over into Arkansas and the situation will continue into this morning.
Hardest hit, seems, was the town of Vilonia where pretty much the whole town was destroyed.
We're thankful the only problems here so far have been one downed pine and a slow internet connection.
PlayStation: Mass Hack
You know, with the lack of candor about their nuclear accident, Sony officials might face some questions about why it took seven days to report the mass hack of PlayStations, which may have compromised as many as 77-million user's financial data.
Don't know about you, but we've got a competing game box and haven't put credit card information into it, and similarly, we have to wonder about our fancy new main monitor which is an internet-enabled TV. Reason? Fear of exactly this kind of thing.
Son of Stux?
With the apparent failure of the Stuxnet virus to shut down the Iranian nuclear program, there's apparently a new virus variant that's been launched according to a CNN report.
Coping: Hey Ehor! Nice Compliment for You!
A personal note: Ehor - send me your current email! The one I had bounced and I wanted to pass this along...
Sadly, I haven't heard from him for a while via email and last time we got together was out in L.A. and that's been several years.
I remember getting the impression that he was maintaining a low profile on things economic, working toward retirement and such. And, since we both have a pretty good idea what happens when the Debtberg rolls over, we'll certainly respect that wish.
But, speaking of which if you haven't read the papers we did (he did the thinking, I did the writing, lol) the first in the series was January 8, 2001 "It Maybe Wasn't Nixon", the second was February 3, 2001's "Wings and Small Control Surfaces", then the February 10, 2001 piece "We're on the Titanic and that's a Debtberg©."
The idea of the Debtberg is pretty simple, really: We live in a world where the only reason the economy "works" is because over time the public hasn't held the government accountable for the massive watering down of the purchasing power of the US Dollar.
This means that over time, the interest on the dollar continues to accumulate, diminishing its purchasing power. This is all easily defined, although as I hinted at in "Wings & Small Control Surfaces" there are times when - counter intuitively - the right thing to do is actually raise interest rates - and based on our work back then, really the right thing for Bernanke to do will be to announce a rate hike today - and a whopper: 50-basis points, or 1/2 percent.
Remember, in "Wings" I postulated that at some point as the Debtberg passes equilibrium, that the conventional "controls" on the economy will begin to work backwards.
'Case you haven't noticed, that's going on right now before your very face. The dropping of Fed rates, effectively to zero, hasn't touched off any firestorm of hiring that I can see...but then again, you may still have a job. Consulting is slow, prices are going up anyway, might as well pile on inflation and up rates, but of course, no one but you, me, and Ehor will likely 'get it'.
That would likely cause a huge increase in the international valuation of the US dollar, slam down gold, and cause the US to get serious about living within its means. But, just because that is the right thing to do (e.g. really go through the suffering from the Housing bubble collapse and the Internet bubble, which we haven't done yet...some pain yes, but not the full measure, sorry to say, since the currency is still falling and what other proof is there?) that doesn't mean Washington has the political will to actually do the right thing.
Still, if the fed's models today are as good as my cocktail napkin scratchings back when, then maybe...just maybe...the Fed will do the "right" thing instead of the expedient thing which, in case you haven't seen it yet, is how we got into this pickle in the first place.
So...blind faith which has kept me in my short positions may - or may not - pay off. If rates go nowhere, or come down, then the economy is over. If the Fed raises rates, the market will go do, there will be pain, there will be inflation, but there will be recovery since business will start ramping up purchases and real estate investors will come pouring out knowing that higher prices are ahead and it's time to get things while they're cheap. Cars, homes, airplanes all that kind of stuff.
Oh, and it wouldn't hurt the dollar, either, which paying a little more interest might get some respect again.
That story which we had on yesterday morning about the alleged plans of Europe to do away with HF ham radio by 2026 was traced back to a source which revealed it was an April Fool's joke.
Every once in a while, something like this will get through our filters here, despite hours and hours of reading and trying to keep it out.
This one made it [ast because it met all the parameters for a good hoax: It was lwell-placed, credibly worded, within the realm of possibilities, and spawned a knee-jerk reaction from the reader - in this case me.
99.999 percent of the time I catch those - the knee-jerk emotional reaction being the tip off - but this was the 0.001 percent that gets through.
I do have to admit the hoaxers and pranxters are getting better. Recently an ever-increasing number of hoax emails are pointing to supposed Snopes pages as "PROOF" that they are real. Even if the Snopes page says "Hoax" on it when you click through.
While they may be a nuisance for us common folk, the existence of such hoaxes should be somewhat reassuring to government however.
Here's one of the hoaxes due to be sent out next week: Unemployment Rate.
Career politicians are not what a one-term-world needs. I'm counting the days until November of 2012. Unfortunately, no candidates have announced for the "Logically and Constitutionally Consistent Party" yet.
Tuesday April 26, 2011
Housing: Prices Slide Again
Not too much of a surprise in the housing numbers just released by Case Shiller/S&P - the 20 City Housing Index:
Sooo...let's all party like it's 2002 in the 10-city index. shall we?
Can't speak for you, but these are numbers I trust more than any series the government puts out.
Waiting on Housing Numbers
We'll be back with an update with the Case Shiller/S&P 20-city housing numbers when they come out in a few minutes. But, in the meantime, I'm not too optimistic that we'll do anything more than continue to see prices drift downward.
Something to keep an eye on up in Michigan as reported by the Lansing State Journal is that an inspection of Ingham County mortgage records is turning up documents which have the smell of fraud to them.
Comes now the interesting question: If this kind of thing is going on in Michigan, seems the odds would favor it being something of a national phenomena, wouldn't it? Wonder what's perking below the radar in that department...
Then there's the story out of KGET in central California about a local mortgage outfit agreeing to pay $1.5 mil over claims that Hispanic borrowers were charged higher rates than non-hispanic borrowers.
And as if these are not enough to ponder, The Street has an interesting piece on 'put-backs' in MBS's where Bank of America is reported having the highest exposure.
I guess this, coupled with the Fed still goosing M1 money supplies at a 13 percent annual rate leave me to wondering what the possible good news might be that would spin housing around and send home values soaring again.
I mean besides the obvious: Hyperinflation.
From the April 25 (Monday) high around $49.62, silver has dropped as low as $44.62 at Kitco. No, I didn't want the "five dollar move in silver" to be be on the downside, but there you have it. And no, I haven't sold yet, since we're still holding out for north of $50 sooner than later.
Only way I see silver (or gold) losing much inb the longer-term is if the Fed gets religion and stops printing up M1 at 13% or congress actually reduces spending. Those are knee-slappers, ain't they? Speaking of which...
MSM Inflation Stampede
The article in Time "The debt ceiling vote: Understanding the 'TARP Dilemma" is worth a read, if only to remind ourselves that the republicorps were the ones who pushed through TARP and in in typical GOP backsliding now doesn't want to pay for their own sins. Gee, how novel, huh? Why imagine! An American political party with no scruples and no memory. Why, it's just frigging perfect!
Overseas, economics is a little easier to understand, since it's not wildly spun by the latter-day Heart and his cast of republicorp bloviators who overlook the roots of many of today's issues go back to the Reagan trickle-down myth which even then budget director David Stockman has admitted it was a big "Ooops!" and is now warning about the dangers of the Fed wrecking what's left of America.
For example, the Belfast Telegraph explains it in Econ 101 terms this way: "The US simply consumes too much, yet regards any tax hikes with sheer horror Struggle: Barack Obama is battling Congress."
But, of course we all know that, it's just we're not willing to pay a penny more for our sneakers if they can be made cheaper in a sweat shop overseas.
America's deficient (yet ostensibly politically correct) education system doesn't teach the "first they came for the shoemakers..." concept. But, with I reckon 20-40-million jobs already outsourced overseas via the Internet daily and no ICE personnel sniffing corporate emails for customer service issues being escalated, your job will be next and I'm soon gonna have to hire an Indian or Chinese assistant online so I can get a day off now and then.
Just kidding (or nearly so) but can you imagine waking up some morning to this:
Better - imagine what would happen if the rabid right turned on the radio one day and heard something like this:
What were we talking about yesterday? Oh yes...payback's a bitch. Or: Pensions delayed is savings stolen... one of those oughta fit.
I guess that's a near-perfect setup thought to move on to our semi-reverent....
Buying the Presidency Class
OK, here's how we would score things this morning. Google News search hits on the following keywords "[candidate last name] fundraising":
We can see how The Don could be a spoiler on the GOP side, as the issue of his ratings impact on Celebrity Apprentice are coming out.
Our Absolutely Glowing Future
Who would have ever - in a million damned years thought people in Olympia, Washington would be getting higher Iodine-131 exposures than people in Oakridge, Tennessee, for crying out loud? But here it is, in the data.
Clif & I have a friend in Ecuador, though, and we're penciling out how much of a firewall the inter-tropical convergence zone will be...
If one more person sends me an email about a "global radiation shield" which ham radio and CB'er's can build, I'm going to pull my hair out (what's left of it, anyways...)
Can we please stick to stuff that has a track record in reality and skip the woo-woo stuff? I felt like an idiot asking our consulting reactor engineer "You ever see anything about electromagnetic waves zapping radiation?"
As long as we're on this, if you Google Earth 25 53 39N by 100 10 11 W, that is probably NOT a Chinese military encampment preparing for an invasion of the US. Since the imagery for that shot comes from 2002, I reckon it's more likely a housing development. But nice theory...yes, those are parks and soccer field - we all know how big the Chinese are on soccer, right? And lawns....
Even the imagery of the ranch here only shows one rack of solar panels, so the imagery runs at least 1½ years behind, even in the US outback. And folks wonder where my time goes.
Its well know that Warren Buffet (and Charlie Munger) bought the Burlington Northern railroad a while back. And seems here lately, stories that once would have referred only to the rail line are now incorporating the Chairman's name as in "Buffett's Burlington Northern Faces U.S. Rail-Crash Probe" a week or so back.
But railroads are - as anyone who's run a Lionel set (back when they were made solely in America) for themselves knows - all kinds of fun, especially when they come with land, rights of way in major urban areas, captive markets, plus they just happen to be widely know to be the runaway champs of lowest cost per ton mile.
Why, they're even cheaper than those Mexican trucks outfitted with catalytic converters paid for by US tax money, reported by The Republic up in Indiana.
Apparently, Buffett's friend, Bill Gates, has been considering railroads a bit too, and as a hawk-eyed reader in Canada (and this CBC story) notes, he's now reported to be the largest shareholder in the Canadian National Railway which is headquartered in Montreal.
Not that you and I can do much about such massive rail acquisitions (other than buy stock in the companies, and that's not too exciting. But, Lionel's from 'old school' times continue to go up in value...so maybe that'd be a play.
And in trains, everything's about play, isn't it?
Coping: The Restarting Civilization Kit
I know most people think ,we're crazy - walking away from the fine restaurants, the great shopping, high-end movie houses, theater, concerts and such that goes with the Big City Life, but since outgrowing the Lionel stage (about age 18 with a relapse in my early 1930's when the kids came along) I've looked at sailing and farming/ranching as the real-life versions of SimCity.
Taking the idea a half mile further up the road is the Open Farm Tech organization which has compiled a shopping list of about 40 different machines, which they're planning to build and publish the order-of-construction & plans for - so that a society could be restarted from the ground up.
The only part of their plan which doesn't seem to make sense yet is how they power things, and do the welding and such. Still, the introductory video here (all of two minutes worth) makes for good brain food.
More recently, there's a TED-Talk from this year which updates things and give a little more background on this open-sourced, DIY approach to local development.
There are a number of projects which have this whole different vision of the future - which is a radical departure from the corpgov future track which we seem to be on massively right now.
In fact, last week, I just put $200 of my own money into this alternative future by renewing my website (which you maybe didn't see, but it was one of those www.peoplenomics.com reports a while back) which sketched out the notion for an open-source repository for CAD and circuit board files - and with the goal of moving ahead as standardized 3D printing systems come online, which they are doing fast.
What I called the Public Design Library lives here and for now, it's little more than a "shell" which I put together to show how the concept could evolve. I'll be getting in touch with the Open Farm Tech folks because as long as there is a workable national transportation system, there's an opportunity for a kind of mechanical knock-off of the old Heathkit Elecvtronics kit concept. Except of course, local communities could special in the design kit ("ready to weld") for various differentiated parts.
One community could do steel frames for kits, another could do the PCB's and stuff & flow boards, while another could do the walk-behind tractor parts, and so forth.
If you'd like to read up on the concept of the Public Design Library, (spelled out in Peoplenomics #347, April 27, 2008) the article which describes it starts off like this...
Why mention this? Cost and distribution of profits, is why. As you will get a sense after looking at the Open Farm Tech Wiki and after reading up on the notion of a Public Design Library, the idea of widely dispersing manufacturing technology and skills seems to me to be just as important a safety net to put under (so-called) civilization as any seed vault up north of the Arctic Circle.
That's because all the seeds in the world aren't going to do anyone any good in a 'worst-possible-future' if there's no way to move the seeds from up north to more moderate climes.
To me, this first point means we ought to be encouraging groups like the the Seasteading Institute where you can learn how to lay up a ferrocement dinghy or join their sailing & boatbuilding co-op. Given the need to have a ready supply of sailors to move goods around in a 'post whatever' world, why local governments in Washington State (to pick on them because I know the area and was involved in the fight) keep picking on liveaboard sailors is beyond me.
Why, if someone were to take a really broad view of planet-level survival and sustainability, groups like the Washington Liveaboard Association ought tobe honored and praised, yet government-creep doesn't seem to appreciate the safety net that a sea-faring community has to offer. Instead government puts limits on how many people can liveaboard boats - and it's a nationwide control addiction. Those free-thinking sailor are mighty dangerous if gov't can't control them, you know. Especially when compared to the corporate geniuses (hold up that poster of the GOM, would you?)
Back to point, once a sailing clan or society delivers seeds (and whatever) from the near-frozen north southward to where the non-terminator seeds could be restarted, the Open Farm Tech concept becomes critical.
As becomes apparent, what the corporate/government model overlooks in their rush to concentrate power & control is that alternative lifestyles and non-corporate dispersal of capabilities really is a great thing.
The other point: We're on the cusp - through groups like Open Farm Tech, of putting together the next generation of capitalism. You know: The small, co-operative, shared profits, everyone contributes kind. The kind which got hijacked in the 1800's and survives only here and there in the co-operatives around the country which range from Ace Hardware which is a co-op to the Puget Sound Consumers Co-Op and lots of others around the country.
If you want to make an investment in the future....spending money at a co-op when possible sure makes more sense than throwing more money down the corporate rat hole.
They've had their chance and near as I can figure,. they've blown it.
The Attack on Ham Radio
(story deleted due to hoaxed content)
Monday April 24, 2011
The Word Among Time Monks
[Reader Note: We depart from our usual news then commentary form this morning because there is a whole lot of Big Picture stuff in motion that needs to be taken in as a whole.]
This could be the week everything starts to blow up, financially, that is. Because the word amongst time monks as the weekend closed up was that today, or tomorrow, is turning into the odds-on favorite for a restart of the global financial collapse. That silver was up remarkably in overnight trading is just one indicator.
But, I'm getting ahead of things. First, you need to look back at last week's column where I wrote last Thursday...
So, when silver was up earlier, as much as $3.42 an ounce to $49.85 at KitCo (chart above on the UrbanSurvival.com site), word among time monks was that it's indicative of very high immediacy values that are piling up and further: today and tomorrow is likely to "...cause 'consternation among 'authorities' relative to financial abstractions such as derivatives..."
As the late , great Bill Mays, used to say - "But wait! There's more!"
The financial world doesn't end this week. Nope - gonna stretch out a good while because the next thing along to club you're personal net worth & retirement dreams will be...
Still, silver won't zoom right to $80 or $100 instantly. There will be a ramp up such that maybe mid-summer we'll pop [at least linguistically] through $80 an ounce or so.
The bad news? Oh, that, according to word among the time monks, will be the partial collapse of government functions that accompanies that kind of financial displacement and follows (as night does day) the costs of the coming 'fed-saves-world' attempt start sinking in.
For those not familiar, this outlook is not financial advice. It's an expectation-set based on a new science of predictive linguistics pioneered by Clif High of www.halfpasthuman.com. (There are a number of academics trying to steal it as their own but that's a whole other discussion not worth having, just note who was publishing about it in 2001 and who was not, as a first-level bullshit filter...)
Much as Sherlock Holmes was the brains of the detective outfit at 221-B Baker Street in Arthur Conan Doyle's series, my role in all this is to attempt to live up to the standards of Dr. John Watson; recording the development of the new technology, the major 'hits' of the forecasts and so forth. You can read about the earlier stages of the project here ( from back in 2003), or look at how one of the early "hits" of the fledgling science came out (the Northeast power Outage) here.
The technology, in a nutshell, scans huge amounts of publicly-generated text and senses shifts in language use, particularly slang and such, to generate a sense of where language is changing, which is axiomatic held as the core concept "Changes in language precede changes in behavior." Which they do with frightening predictability.
But the science far from perfected. We won't kid you about that. Worse, the timing of events is difficult at hell. In language space, there are no clocks. Only temporal dependencies. First this, then that except multiplied a million times over as events move as giant tumblers in a lock and the future comes along as it will, although it is somewhat malleable and we're not the only group that knows this, regardless of how hoodwinked you've been into thinking otherwise.
For example, you may remember last fall we made a prediction of a major tipping point such as we've never seen before and one that we expected would be talked about by fast food workers in small towns - it would be that large a change.
The specific timing of the forecast, as with the case of the timing of the tipping point that developed a couple of months prior to 9/11, was way early. Posted that about two months early, to be right, in both cases. Of course, time monks at least have a sense of where to look in order to see the 'future ride in.'
Since those early works, Clif's work (with Igor's able assistance) has gotten better, but there are always issues along the way. Not the least of which recently is the delay caused by software issues related to changing up to faster hardware platforms.
Just like teaching a new dog tricks your old dog could do takes a good bit of patience, so too, teaching a quad core processor to do the same tricks as a stripped-out optimized W98 kernel takes time and causing, I hear, a lust at times for the old days or direct screen-writes.
So yes, one could speculate that another Shape of Things to Come report is in the works and with it, another a major lexicon tuning and yes, some of the high immediacy values are popping out before the more comprehensive framework can be developed and distributed since that effort takes scads of human-time.
Especially interesting ought to be the part hinted at here.
But, let's not get ahead of actual work product. Just very important to know that 100% of the linguistics expected in advance of a $5/day move in silver were met last week and this morning we got about 68.4% percent of the real way there with the $3.42 price bulge this morning.
If/When another Shape report comes along, I'll tell you a day or two in advance.
NOT Financial Advice
I repeatedly say - and it's in this website's disclaimer, too - that this sight does not financial advice. Why, someone would have to be crazy to actually act on our outlooks around here.
Besides, the $5 move is not assured to be up, just seems like it will be a $5 move. No telling what manipulators will try to pull.
Still, I had a pleasant experience this weekend when a reader called to say...
Glad that worked, but don't make any decisions about where to deploy your hard-earned assets based on this site. We do information, discussion of 'new science' not financial recommendations. Although...
Ure's New "Magic Formula"
While Clif and Igor do the hard/boring stuff, I get to do the fun part.
Like suggesting to you that you start to...
I'm the guy peering from under the green eyeshades wondering would $80-something silver this summer imply $8-something gas? Close enough for me to start thinking about commodity call options again...
Other Approaches to the Future
While my main job of chronicling the future has involved predictive linguistics, I've also been following the work of Gary Lammert, a highly educated fellow who has been working on fractal time relationships in the markets for years and years.
What is a fractal? Good starting point... Wikipedia says it's...
Although I'm not sure how far into time studies fractal concepts can be extended, we nevertheless expect that many of Terence McKenna's insights into Time Wave Zero were fractal - in fact here's a YouTube vid which describes the future as a process of fractal negotiation.
Is the negotiation where expectations (ala Schrödinger) are brought and the future made malleable at the instant of expectation change? Perhaps.
So, with that little gob of science running in background on to Gary Lammert's latest:
But, unfortunately, that's not going to happen just right now. We still have to go through the flip side of the fractal build which would be the fractal decay, and like the old saying goes, payback's a bitch. Maybe even this week, but more likely come the weekend after this and into that week of May8-14.
One source of outlook, or one way of seeing the future may not be perfect. But, when predictive linguistics, Gary Lammert's work, and the work of others such as as Joseph Farrell's Babylon's Banksters: The Alchemy of Deep Physics, High Finance and Ancient Religion all stitch together into something of a whole other worldview, the sage investor remembers the adage of Howard Hill: "Your money doesn't care where it comes from."
And that makes it subject to all kinds of manipulation.
The first big manipulation was through substitution where real wealth - which Bucky Fuller described as forward survival time (food, for example) is swapped out for things like precious metals.
That works for a while, but only until the Denarius or whatever from ancient times gets debased (with base metals added). So then along come all kinds of schemes including the one where interest is invented and paper money with interest is rolled out. Great. Then we get into the fiat money world which is where we are now. This necessitates the dollar's purchasing power, to make it all pencil out, has to be watered down by (on average since 1913) about 2.34% per year when I last ran the numbers.
And so we end up on Monday's like this one, with the world on the edge and lots of people waking up wondering "What the hell's going on?"
If someone you previously thought was a nut sent you this, it may be time for ytour own Great Awakening. But do it quick. The 'net ain't gonna be here forever.
To many awakened people is a dangerous thing.
Oh, and one last thing: You need to flip over to Netflix when you get some time and watch Battlefield Earth.
Does that have anything to do with the story floating about the "US Warns Russia: “Aliens On Their Way, Will Be Here In 2012” ?
I guess it might depend on whether the NSA articles about the "Key to the Extraterrestrial Messages" was a training exercise or something more far-reaching, doesn't it?
But, as always, just the idea of aliens showing up doesn't matter to time monks, since the arrival of the headlines going viral is the same [linguistically] as "Klaatu barada nikto!" live on network prime time.
We get to be agnostic about whether those are real aliens, but since they've been in language for a while and since the late L. Ron Hubbard, who wrote Battlefield Earth, had more friends at the founding level of JPL and some of the high science outfits than you or I do, maybe that movie suggestion should be thought through carefully before being rejected.
Coping: With The IMF Outlook
If you're thinking "That damn Ure, always the bear, eh?" Might want to pencil me in as in good company as the IMF is out with a rather similar sounding outlook (if you read it closely) as they are predicting the end of the Age of America by 2016 which is when China's economy will surpass that of the United States.
Of course, that doesn't mean life as we knew it will end, just it WILL be dramatically different.
People who have depended on government are very likely to see a stair step down in the amount of actual government aid and services delivered. And if you are thinking over other investment vehicles, yoiu might want to press-fit a different currency into your plans since there are some traditional investments which people have put their money into - in the past - which may not look especially good in the future.
In such a period of Decline in America would you want to put money into real estate or real estate investment trusts? been pondering that one. On the one hand, that might provide a low double-digit return, but how long before how many people figure 'screw it' and just stop paying their mortgages (or student loans, or whatevers...) because money isn't what it used to be?
If you thought times were strange, they're not. The world has been through many periods of history similar to the one we are in now, including, but not limited to the last days of the Roman Empire.
Today, WikiLeaks is out with word about how desperate the US/West is to stave off future terror attacks by their interrogation methods used at Gitmo. the coverage in both the Washington Post (here) and the UK Telegraph is worth a read.
A couple of readers last month were chiding me because the damaging weather for the US Midwest had not shown up as forecast in the predictive linguistics reports out of last year. "Where is it?" they wanted to know. First lesson of being a time monk is "Be careful what you wish for..."
Well, I think it's now here, what with the St. Louis Airport Tornado this weekend wrecking their airport and now huge flooding reported in Oklahoma. There, one of our readers filed this dispatch:
Yep, gotta put that down as a hit.
The Weak Ahead
Tomorrow we get the next Case/S&P 20-city home price index. Biggie which will likely show continuing erosion of the financial, not Oklahoma variety.
Consumer confidence is due, but that's a yawner since events are going to shift it and it's a rear-view number.
Durable orders come Friday and then there's this week's Fed Decision which is scheduled to include a Ben Bernanke press conference. That oughta be at least better than American Idol.
Say, let's call it: America Idle, shall we?
The good humor man will be back tomorrow morning. For now, just keep an eye on the metals which seem likely to make more headlines over the next 48-hours, or so sayeth the bots...
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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