Adventures in Personal Income/Expense

Every month about in here, the Bureau of Economic Analysis pipes up with a “Personal Consumption & Expenditures report” which, while it ain’t no Clive Cussler novel – (Set of 4), still makes for some interesting reading.  Even if this is the time of the year to drift off from non-fiction for some mental escapism.

The set-up to this morning’s report is that Gold is teetering on the brink of dead and the underside of $1,200.  If you remember, last week (and it’s difficult, I’ll grant you that), I was hand-wringing about the price of gold and how once is sunk into the upper 1100’s, it might not be long (a month or four) before it could sink even further.  Like into the upper 1000’s on its way “Who knows how low?”

The Price of Gold (POG) is an important truth detector around here.  I look at it as a way of seeing-through government reports that insist how peachy keen everything is.  Yet, when the housing sales fell on its nose in the most recent read, one could think of a parallel between the price of gold’s decline and the ongoing correction in the housing market.

I could go on (at some great length) about how the Fed policy of “Print just a bit faster than the rate of deflation” is working and that hope no one notices their decline in lifestyles.  The trick is to keep things appearing normal  while the public’s actual standard of living it ratcheted back.

If Santa Claus leaves you a smaller collection of goodies this year, don’t feel bad.  It’s baked in the deflationary cookies.

It’s all because lifestyles are coming down (on average, YMMV) and that’s because of a lack of growth.  And that’s because of consumer super-saturation.  You probably have two, or three, of everything you need already, anyway.  Except for the latest darling phone from Apple, and for those, people will turn violent.  )Why, even in Berlin, raiders drove a care into an Apple store, so valued are their trinkets.)

Alas!  We live in a world which has done an ugly transition without most people knowing it.  We’ve gone from quiet, romantic dinners, to food & texting festivals; from looking into each other’s eyes to looking at an super-hi def display. Mark my words, the birth rate is in trouble.

And we’re gonna solve that one with immigration?

This is progress?

But enough social commentary from the old reprobate in the woods.  Like he was saying, there’s this personal income and expenditure report which is as near a present as the Public on Main Street is likely to get from government’s Grinch…

Personal income increased $30.1 billion, or 0.2 percent, and disposable personal income (DPI) increased $16.2 billion, or 0.1 percent in November according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $63.0 billion, or 0.5 percent. In October, personal income decreased $11.7 billion, or 0.1 percent, DPI decreased $25.6 billion, or 0.2 percent, and PCE increased $44.2 billion, or 0.4 percent, based on revised estimates.

Real disposable personal income increased 0.1 percent in November, in contrast to a decrease of 0.2 percent in October. Real PCE increased 0.5 percent in November, compared with an increase of 0.4 percent in October.

Personal outlays — PCE, personal interest payments, and personal current transfer payments — increased $62.6 billion in November, compared with an increase of $43.9 billion in October. PCE increased $63.0 billion, compared with an increase of $44.2 billion.


Personal saving — DPI less personal outlays — was $525.4 billion in November, compared with $571.8 billion in October.The personal saving rate — personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income — was 4.2 percent in November, compared with 4.5 percent in October.

That’s a knee-slapper, ain’t it?  Statistically it’s not exactly a lump of coal in our stocking.  But it’s also not a new solid gold Rolex and one of those bow-tied Lexus presents, either.

It’s just a number.  And 4.5% of nothing is still what?

“Siri?”(Apple’s female voice on their phones)

What can I help you with, George?”

“Call Dial-A-Prayer.”

Rads, Quakes, and Cover-ups

That story about sailors on the USS Ronald Reagan coming down with high rates of thyroid and other cancers has now come into the mainstream with the NY Post outing the story in a report “Navy sailors have radiation sickness after Japan rescue.”]

In the Post report, one senior chief who took radiation readings reported levels 300-times higher than was considered safe.  51- sailors have filed suit and more may be expected to get involved.

The lingering question, when a slow-motion human tragedy like this is unfolding is “Who knew, and when?”

And what did the Navy do about it – prior to the legal action appearing?  Seems to me an even bet that it’s a case of “disposable people” and government sitting on its hands.  Not in the ranks  but up the chain of command.

This morning (with speculation coming in the Coping section about a possible New Years Quake) we are eyeing a number of quakes which have popped off along that long western front of the Pacific tectonic plate.


Guam, 5.8

Near Honshut, 5.5

Northern Marianna Islands, 6.2

Ndoi Island, Fiji, 5.7

And down at the far side (antipodal) another 5.7 in Chile last week.  A look at the USGS quake maps shows the whole western edge of the Ring of Fire has been very active over the past week. and it leads one to wonder if – and how soon – the next Big One will strike.

And on this topic, there’s some damn fine reading about the history of Pacific mega-tsunamis which was reported earlier this month by the BBC (hat tip to Roger S for the tip).

Key finding from a cave (Acehnese) is that over the past 7,500 years (or less, perhaps as recently as 3,500 years) there have been 7 to 10 tsunamis.  So mega-tsunamis may happen every 300-800 years.

Syria:  The Chinese Remix

OK, so we’ve seen  the end of Syria issues with the agreement to destroy chemical weapons.  But notice closely as China is sending a single warship to hang out in the area.

For now, a single ship.  There will be more to come in the future.  The nation of 1.3 billion plus is telling the nation of 314-million that they want to be more involved in the global decision-making process.

And then there’s this on the war for media high ground from our news analyst fellow in a read “Through the Looking Glass”

Dear Mr. Ure,

Reuters advises of the tragic end for a Syrian photographer whose pictures they had opportunity to disseminate. A UK journalist reminisces of the “childhood’s end”.

Viewers adjusting from refracted perceptions of reality might wonder if there are others. Stay tuned?


Ho, Ho, Ho!  It’s Putin Claus!

Well, well, Vlad is certainly letting it all out this week.  In addition to the release of what’s his unpronounceable (the rich dude) we also now see how the jailed members of Pussy Riot are out of the box.

While they, presumably, head off to the nearest tat parlor to get their barred wire tattoos, a common sign among people who’ve had government-funded vacations, we can’t help but wonder who will be next?  Perhaps an empty winter in the gulags…

Obamacare Deadline Headline

If you’re confused about the Obamacare deadline, there’s something of an explanation over here.  The Associated Press has picked healthcare overhaul as the Story of the Year.

But I’m still stuck on the “due notice” idea.  How can people be required to log on and sign up unless the government sends them a notice in the mail (certified, proof of service) and, if they don’t happen to own a computer or smartphone, where’s the computer to log on with?

Would you trust a public computer like the ones in libraries?  You may be more of a sport than me…

Ever since we began forsaking proper legal procedure (notice of service) there’s been this growing assumption (revealing insanity) that “ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

With the arrival of hyper-complexity, it it no longer possible for ANYONE to read all laws.  And, what’s more proof than members of congress not having time to read laws they are voting on?  It’s nuts.

No, it’s ‘Merica…the former Land of the Free.,  Remember it?

Gambling on the Future

A good article out of FoxNY brings us to contemplating the next urban disaster areas to follow on the heels of Detroit.

The towns which could have trouble with a big T in the future include Atlantic City and Las Vegas.  With real disposable income (note the ones reported by the government) in decline, there’s less  to gamble with…

Bad Research

Outcry is beginning in the scientific community over experiments which are making bird flu more dangerous to humans.

Which certainly feeds into our larger question:  Is Science the answer or is science the problem?