My life-long buddy (the Major) is visiting for a while.  And he reports, he’s been a victim this trip of airline or TSA theft from his luggage.

Before leaving his home up in the Seattle area, he placed a very nice pair of LL Bean slippers in his suitcase.  Last item in, he is certain it was there because he placed a pair of socks in each one.  You don’t get up to officer status by forgetting details…and he never makes things up.  If he says something occurred, it abso-freaking-lutely did.

When he checked in at SeaTac, therefore, it’s a certainty that the LL Bean slippers and the socks were in the luggage.  By the time he got to Tyler, Texas, they had disappeared.

It’s not the problem of airport luggage “sticky-fingers” that bothers me so much.  It’s how this is symptomatic of the Great American Decline that we’ve entered into.

The first time I personally experienced an “airport shake-down” was leaving Peru after a business trip and side trip from Cusco via train up (and down) into Machu Picchu.  The side trip over, we were waiting to board our DC-8 stretch for a return to the Cayman Islands.

An airport guard came over to me – stuck a machine gun in my belly and indicated I should follow him.  I don’t argue with machine guns.

Taken aside, he indicated I should open my Samsonite brief case.  Perhaps, since the Caymans were a money laundering center, he was wondering if I have a case full of cash.

When opened?  Nothing my by HP-110C laptop and a couple of packs of Tareyton 100’s.  One open, the other not.

Seeing his eyes linger on the smokes, I offered him both packs and with a “Gracias…”  the event came to an end. Curiously, no one else was shaken-down like this.  But, as my then-boss (who is fluent in Spanish, being of Cuban decent) explained:  “Jorge…you look like a norte…”  True story.

At the time, Peru was still having some problems with Sandero and while the country was hanging together, it was a first-hand introduction to how marginally managed countries begin to work.  Petty crime, around the perimeter.

And now, it’s here.

We are being cleaved, much as a pie, into competing factions.  The largest, a dumbed-down middle class, thinks only of social media, GOT episodes,  and bitching about traffic.  Ignored are the declining values like personal net worth.  A still-growing piece of our pie is homeless who, through socialists in government, are busily setting up barrio-like areas in major cities.

For all the building underway in the urban core of Seattle, KOMO TV has been doing a solid for everyone by tracking the evolution of homeless camps along freeways leading into the city.

Seattle is third-worlding.  Slowly, it’s an evolutionary process.  When the Major and I were young, there were only a few – very small – hobo camps left.  Our homes were on the north end of Beacon Hill and yep, the camps are springing up along the greenbelt around the I-5 freeway, all the way down to Boeing Field.

We were chased once, by a lone, deranged hobo wielding a hatchet once…but they tended to keep to themselves.  Hobo’s went out of style because the age of steam was passing and railroad law enforcement evolved a brutal reputation.  It was how people “got around” without money.  Now, rail yard surveillance, well, we know how that rolls.

Point, though, is that in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, being poor was definitely out of style.  It’s a fashion that comes and goes as part of the long waves in the economy.

Right now?  It’s rising as the 1% pie owners are pretending that pressing more icons on ever-more expensive phones will somehow not be discovered as a deeply flawed and fraudulent growth and innovation substitute.

Back “in the day” Muscatel Meadows on the south side of the county courthouse was about two-thirds of a city block.  Not crowded, either.  Today, there are dozens of homeless enclaves.

It is, sad to report, the arrival of third world conditions in what was once the Greatest Nation on earth.  Attacked by free-lunching, beset with exported manufacturing jobs, our future is not-yet lost, but keep tearing down the border and keep encouraging the stupid and poor to breed preferentially to the best and brightest and we’ll become the next third world country.

What Do We Have to Look Forward Too?

Well, it’s pretty ugly…and walking this way.

“Extortion by Rogue Police Gangs Is Booming in Bolsonaro’s Brazil.”  Sure, a long walk and all, but care to bet some Soros-backed organization won’t find bus tickets?

“In Venezuela, women sell hair as another way to get by,” reports the Associated Press.

“Argentines return to Europe to escape economic uncertainty...”

Remember the old song from disco days?  “Walk this way…

Thanks for the subliminal heads-up, Aerosmith.

Markets: Break-out Day?

With Dow futures pointing up 71 points ahead of today’s open, we are looking at the resolution of trend to occur in the next week, or two.

One case would be a rise today, which in our Aggregated Markets work would put the open around 24,897.  Sounds great to the bulls, but we will not really be on our way until new all-time highs occur…and the record to beat (on a closing basis) would be 25,006.  You can see how close we are.

If you don’t know about double tops, or double-bottoms in the stock market, there’s a great Wikipedia entry here that will walk you through things.  Pay attention to this chart:

double top chart

Near as I can figure it, this is a dandy time to be in cash.  Because the market could:

  1. Break through the old high and sail up toward new much higher highs.
  2. Put in a “double-top”, or something very close to it…and we’re about 125 Dow points after the 71-point pop at the open today from that possibility.,
  3. Or, we could have a pop this morning and then begin to fail quickly…

The thing is, which one of these happens won’t be clear until the end the session today.  Even then, a weekly close at a new all-time high would be needed – a momentary thrust that fails wouldn’t cut it.

Which leaves us considering which of the news stories will drive things.

  • The China trade talks could be a boost or a bust – depending on who wins and loses.
  • The Iranians could shut down the Strait of Hormuz.  Related: Oil hits highest since November as U.S. to tighten Iran sanctions.
  • North Korea could pop a nuke.
  • Hostilities between India and Pakistan can light up any minute.
  • Some left field event (Trump’s health, something from the SDNY…who knows?)

The news flow today is weak, but do you bet on things getting better – the bullish case – or worse – the bearish case?  How long till sell in May and to away, is it?

Need to Knows

Militants blamed in Sri Lanka attacks had incendiary leader.”  Islamic extremist group…look surprised, infidel.

Birthday party, anyone? Trump, first lady to head to U.K. to meet with queen.

Lockheed Martin raises 2019 profit, shares rise.”  Shares were up more than 5% in the pre-open.  Remember, LMT is the outfit working compact fusion…

Check the NYTimes DealBook Briefing: Herman Cain Says the Fed Can’t Afford Him.  A pay cut to $183,000 is too much of a cut?  Ah, must be nice…

Ham Radio Corner

OK, off to work on the new “monster antenna” for 80 meters this morning,  Ham radio types will appreciate our effort to build something better than horse fence antenna – which work very well.  Except since most electric fence tape take uses thin wire, what we’re putting up is 16 gauge printer ribbon cable.  We should know shortly how well it works…

Moron the ‘morrow…