Difficult Tune For Wall St.’s “Hallelujah Choir”

Happy Days Are Here Again” is getting a little nauseating.  The market has continued to rise, off into record territory and people are taking this as “proof” that the economy has “turned the corner.”

But has it?

Isn’t it just as possible that most of the rally is purely technical in nature, and that as bond yields have continued their collapse toward zero, that prices of stocks could be going up based on nothing more than flat dividends are looking better compared to lousy bond yields?

So it’s with the rose-colored glasses off that we read this morning’s Empire Manufacturing Report from the NY Fed which begins:

The November 2013 Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that manufacturing conditions weakened somewhat for New York manufacturers. The general business conditions index fell four points to -2.2, its first negative reading since May. The new orders index also entered negative territory, falling thirteen points to -5.5, and the shipments index moved below zero with a fourteen-point drop to -0.5. The prices paid index fell five points to 17.1, indicating a slowing of input price increases. The prices received index fell to -4.0; the negative reading was a sign that selling prices had declined—their first retreat in two years.

Which leaves us with a chart of the NY Fed’s outlook which might be imagined as pointing out something of a wedge and how it breaks in the next couple of months (3-5 range) could give up significant intelligence as to the longer-term outlooks.

Not that it is a surprise, but it also hasn’t damped the spirit of the Bull (which you can take one of two or three ways) down on the Street.  The futures were pointing to a 30-some point rise around the open and unless the skies part and the world ends, it looks like this week will end on a positive note.

I mean beyond me being positive that euphoria is contagious.

Bad Ideas are Contagious

Doubt it?  Well, head over to the Wall Street Journal’s  “Europe’s Non-Growth Strategy” and read the hints about the EU trying quantitative easing.

What comes more clearly into focus by the day is that a global currency war is underway and everyone and his Uncle (sic) is not in a “race to the bottom.”

Even worse?  Iran’s Press TV state-run news operation called it right after the ECB dropped rates.

And you need to read Mining.com’s interview with Jim Rogers this morning about how this stuff generally works out.  Does the word “badly” come to mind?

More after this…

Trappings of Power, We the Victimzens

We were expecting president Obama at some point to get on television and announce some delays and workarounds for Obamacare, which as you know is on life support.  The headline is that “Obama will allow millions to keep health plans that would otherwise be canceled.”

But what’s significant around here is that the chief executive is clinging to power of the Executive Branch office at a time when really, the savvy thing to do might well have been to toss the whole shitteree back into the lap of Congress.  It was, after all, from Congressoids which this jury-rigged kluge of bad legislation came, funded mostly from the checkbooks of the healthcare insurance lobby came.  This is an industry which has been marking up costs of healthcare in ways that defy the logic and principles of anti-trust.

In other words, the notion in law that the cost of an operation, say an appendectomy, ought to be about the same for everyone has been weaseled around by Big Insurance which goes to the local hospital and effectively says “We will buy XX number of appendectomies this year, and we want a discounted rate of ZZZ for them.”

This makes hiring docs, nurses, and building O.R.’s pencil out real easily, so the hospitaliers simple bend over and agree.

This is not exactly speculative since I went through myself in about 2005, or so, when I experienced a burst appendix.

The “retail bill” which came along was north of $17,500 (if memory serves) and yet, when it was turned into an insurance claim (long story, not worth the details) the price suddenly dropped to $7,650, or thereabouts.

So the underlying (emphasis on lying) is that the “cost of healthcare” has little – if anything – with the actual cost of service delivered.  And, it has everything to do with the healthcare insuroids strong-arming the providers, who are simply trying to make ends meet by “plumbing the wallets” of regular folks, especially those with no insurance and lots of assets (like home ownership and such) which is attachable, in order to make ends meet.

You see, in the real world  – what Obama’s klingon (sic) to power (so to speak) has done, is overlook the deeper levels of a corrupted system where the insurance industry has negotiated preferential rates by going through the motions of creating a “different class of customer” for the same delivered service.  Like Ures truly and his appendectomy.

By doing so, the administration has endorsed the continued bullshitting of ourselves into the obviously false belief that appendectomies should be “cheaper by the dozen.”  Thanks to “case law”

I’d argue – quite logically – that the “workaround” (special rates) is neither ethical nor fair; each appendectomy is delivered – like mine was – one at a time.

What we have, instead,. is a whole rafter of dough going into the campaign coffers of candidates in Congress who have refilled their war chests and will empty them as necessary to keep clear-head, reform-minded – contenders out of public office.  It’s the institutionalized corruption of thought and principles that’s killing Obamacare, and it’s aggravated by designing a system (at the executive branch request) that is excessively complicated and intrusive and won’t just give you a simple quote without disclosure of all kinds of impertinent data.

If all of us are to be covered, I ought to be able to put in my social security number and address and get the number – not have to play into this crooked game by the “cheaper appendectomies by the dozen” game.

Because that, my fellow victimzen, is how the country works here lately, near as I can figure.

Need another example?  Healthcare, you see, is not the only area of checkbook democracy:  How about we visit the….

Double-Dipping Banks Dept.

OK, by now, everyone knows that IRS can get a form 1099C from a bank if you have part of a home loan “forgiven”.  But what you may not be aware of is that once a bank has done the 1099C they really may have no further claim.  The details are in a really good Peter Reilly Forbes article “Bank Cannon Issue 1099-C and Subsequently Try to Collect.”

Consider it financial preservation reading.

Holder onto Banks?

Word that the government is investigating currency trading by major banks may be (and this is wildly speculative) why markets have calmed down a bit lately.  The only question we’re asking is whether Eric Holder’s efforts will be any more productive in this area than others his department has tackled?

I’m not holding my breath until they actually do something.

Which Rich Get Richer

A report this week on how the armored car business is booming is worth noticing.  Not that we will ever need one, but like our constant-critic in Ecuador says, there’s no way all this stuff can be going on and not have a bad ending, is there?

Still More Spying

See this morning’s reports about how the CIA is sifting through personal financial data now.

An Important Correction

Old bumble-thumbs managed to put up the wrong link earlier this week to the special offer for UrbanSurvival readers who are interested in subscribing to Robin Handler’s Options Signal Service newsletter.  The correct link is here….

(All of which goes to the idea that Ures truly isn’t perfect, a fact which I try to gloss over rather frequently…)

Counting Deaths

The toll in the Philippines is now up to 4,460 – which is almost halfway to the predicted 10,000 level.

Already the deathateer emails are starting to arrive promising to deliver aid, but we wonder what the handling charges will be like and how much will be delivered into the hands of victims and how much will be sucked up by marketing costs>?

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