Just posted for Peoplenomics.com subscribers: A number of readers have asked me to write about how what’s come to be known as “prepping” helps a family to prepare for an economic depression. You know another one is inevitable, I assume: It’s what happens when the USA is forced to devalue the US Dollar because despite made-up statistical changes to our reported GDP numbers aside, the fact is that we’re quickly approaching the debt saturation point where we won’t be able to even make interest payments – let alone principal payments – to our creditors.
My friend Howard disagrees with my contention that government buying and federal pressure is the reason for the ammo shortages in America. In fact, he sent me a very long emails about this:
“I’m amazed how frequently you don’t listen to your own core principles. For example, if everything’s a business model, then why can’t you see that who profits is the main way to see who is causing a situation?
Thursday, you repeated the completely spurious conspiracy theory (not once, but twice!) that Obama and the supposedly anti-gun crowd have engineered an ammunition shortage. Complete bull shit, to put it mildly.
Who profits? If every deranged and even the sane gun nuts are frightened into buying mass quantities of ammunition, the same way they bought guns from a bogus fear of shortages and seizures during the first four years of the ONLY ADMINISTRATION TO EXPAND GUN RIGHTS IN OVER 50 YEARS, then the manufacturers and right wing fund raisers make out like bandits, which they are.
1) Plant fear of what might happen that will create shortages or even outright banning.
2) Schedule a plant shutdown or other temporary supply chain interruption.
3) Release tons of mainstream media press with video shots of empty shelves.
4) Double the price of the product, all the while selling more units.
This morning’s report is a bit longer than usual, but with good reason. Despite the distractions of small-fry stories of late (babies and trials and such) there are a number of very big stories like the NSA spying mess which deserve thoughtful consideration because they will steer the country’s future. So read this morning’s Coping section below.
Since our roots are economic, we start with the generalization that “You know your country is in trouble when a lousy 1.8% annual growth rate” spurs the Dow toward new all-time highs.
Have we lost our freaking minds?
Not only has the ring-around-the-nose crowd ignored historical precedents, but worse, seems damn few are able to comprehend that living on borrowed money eventually ends badly. Especially when the bookies we’ve been borrowing from (can you say China?) come knocking looking for dough.
While economic leadership both in Washington and NY should be checked into rehab, out comes this morning’s report on job cuts from Challenger, Gray, and Christmas:
“CHICAGO, August 1, 2013 – Job cuts declined slightly in July, as employers announced plans to reduce payrolls by 37,701 workers, down 4.2 percent from 39,372 planned layoffs in June, according to the latest report on monthly job cuts released Thursday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
Last month’s total was 2.3 percent higher than a year ago, when 36,855 planned job cuts were recorded. Employers have now announced 296,633 job cuts since January 1, which is 7.3 percent fewer than the 319,946 job cuts announced in the first seven months of 2012. At the current pace of downsizing, which is averaging 42,376 job cuts per month, 2013 will come in below the 2012 year-end total of 523,362, which was the lowest annual total since 1997 (434,350). “
Still, no one seems to care and this week’s revisions to how GDP is calculated seems intent on continuing the national delusion as long as possible by a sneaky upward revision in GDP based on “virtual goods.”
With the market set to open a hundred points higher this morning, the next upside level for the S&P seems to be the 1,740 range. In the meantime, tomorrow morning we’ll get new “offishul” unemployment data which will no doubt show the continuing decline in the number of ‘Mericans still working….
Yet despite the certainty of collapse when the dollar dies in a heap, anything less than disaster oughta goose the market up even more.
No point checking into rehab until we have to. At gunpoint.
Speaking of the Loan Makers
Loved the email from our resident war gamer this morning, since we’re on borrowing from China…
The rub with treating a rising superpower like one’s enemy is that they might actually BECOME one’s enemy.
But then, for all we know, they might have ALWAYS been the enemy. Someone must assume that mantle for the world to be right. So look for some strategic te ta te between the Dragon Empire of the Eastern Pacific and “the land of the free” in the days and years to come. As you frequently remind your faithful legions, “everything is a business model.” Cheers, “
There may be a silver lining in eminent domain, however:
Near as I can figure it, one way for Detroit to get out of bankruptcy would be to employ some creative finance: Use eminent domain to confiscate all property that’s unoccupied for six months for nearly nothing, then refi it, and lease it back for 99-years or offer it for sale dirt cheap. Take the spread and have fun. Detroit could own lowest cost of living of anywhere in ‘Merica.
So much so, in fact, that “Detroiting” could become a new national model….of course it screws the CMO holders, but mob rule doesn’t care, even if that would trash CMO holders which might include banks which in turn would….forget that, the only ripple that matters is this one in today’s muni finance world.
Continuing with my Structured Finance 503 lecture, selling the existing city to a New Detroit Public Corp, (a municipal corporation) then allows us to strip out the retirement obligations of old Detroit, which in corporate terms would be a leftover shell with only retirement obligations and those could be dumped on Obamacare and Social Security when our buyout of the Old Detroit ends a few billion short of what they need… sh*t like this is common on the private side, so wtf, why not in public finance?
New Detroit becomes a city-state unto itself and a little India of the Midwest…
Of course, Apple is not alone: HP, Intel, and Google have many billions offshore, too. Clearly, designed in California must refer to tax planning=.
I figure if a product is sold in America, it oughta be taxed as though made here, since to do otherwise simply shoved jobs to India and China and no, that’s not protectionism so much as self-preservation.
Especially since Fearless Leader is planning to give yet more tax gifts to BigCorps and punish small business with still higher tax rates. You can tell who’s administration has thrown in with the corporate coup, huh?
We’d sort of los interest in global coastal events, but the specificity of this one made it past our filters. If you’re reading this, it didn’t happen. If you are reading this after the fact, then whoever this poster is deserves immense respect and someone in government oughta talk to ’em about who their connection is and how that works.
Meantime, as we sailed last “doom time” we note that disaster porn is as rampant as always. Just the other day I got flooded with emails about the much heralded “black hole in the sun” report that had people scrambling to get under the bed.
With about 30-seconds of clear-headed thinking the worries were dismissed around here: First because the photos of the sun were several weeks old and thus any “piece that broke off and was heading for earth” should have destroyed the planet weeks ago.
Then there’s the little matter of it only being an area of dim infrared which (not to be an I-told-you-so’er) is common because the Sun is having an epic fail solar peak which will leave the earth much, much cooler over coming years.
It’s not very often that we nail use-case and software development as accurately as this, but a couple of weeks ago I wrote up for www.peoplenomics.com readers [SUBSCRIBE] how to develop a scoring algorithm for electronic surveillance of an entire country.
In the interest of wider public discussion, here’s the “How it could work” part of that Peoplenomics report from July 20th:
— Peoplenomics extract —
“Let me run through an example of how this can work. As a practical matter, the first thing you’ll need will be a huge government data center. As luck would have it, exactly such a center is now under construction in Utah. In terms of what will feed into this megalithic computer empire, we already know that bank and credit card transaction information is likely to be there, metadata about cell phone calls and possibly landline communications as well.
As long as we’re at it, let’s also toss in a real-time feed from Google which can be traced back to your Internet protocol numerical address. That could give government keen insight into the kinds of websites we’re visiting, which in turn will reflect our personal tastes and philosophies of life. Sexual peccadilloes, too, if any.
In the book I begin with the example of a John Doe who wakes up to the sound of a colleague from work calling him on the phone.
“Hello, this is John, who’s this?”
“Hi John, this is Abu and services in IT at the office, and I wanted to talk to you about your computer. You know, I have been working on it and I would like to have your permission to backup your hard drive over the Internet because you’ve apparently had a head crash at some point and you’re experiencing errors. Would that be okay with you John?”
“Well, sure Abu of course you can and thanks for calling. I have some pictures of my wife on their from her birthday party and I wouldn’t want those to get lost, but you guys in the IT department do what you need to do. I’ll be in early on Monday in case anything needs attention that.
Although I can fairly be accused of being something of a whiner about how the US economy is managed, I’m usually right more than 50% of the time in the end. And president Obama’s likely nomination of Larry Summers, if it happens, likely would improve my batting average even further. Nevertheless, I’ve come up with an idea this week which would – at a stroke – make congress, the White House, and the American people seem 50 IQ points smarter when it comes to money and economics overnight. While you let that one roll around in the noggin, we’ll stop to smell the headlines and the coffee…Say, did I mention growth sucks?
As expected, the Case-Shiller/S&P Housing Index came out this morning and the accompanying press release goes like this:
“New York, July 30, 2013 – Data through May 2013, released today by S&P Dow Jones Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller1 Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, showed increases of 2.5% and 2.4% for the 10- and 20-City Composites in May versus April. Dallas and Denver reached record levels surpassing their pre-financial crisis peaks set in June 2007 and August 2006.
To borrow a station promo from WOAI in San Antonio overnight (1200 AM if you’re in the area) “Don’t take new vitamin B-50 unless you want to end up like Lyle Alzado.” The station is running special reports this morning on the vitamin, if I follow correctly.
Here’s what we can “dot-connect” here: Lyle Alzado was one hellavah fine football player – and also one of the first to admit taking anabolic steroids and fessing up publicly (details may be found here). He died at age 43 of brain cancer – which he attributed to steroids.
Fast forward to this week and we have a warning from the Food and Drug Administration that certain B-50 compounding may contain steroids. From the official press release…
“…the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers that they should not use or purchase Healthy Life Chemistry By Purity First B-50, marketed as a vitamin B dietary supplement. A preliminary FDA laboratory analysis indicated that the product contains two potentially harmful anabolic steroids—methasterone, a controlled substance, and dimethazine. These ingredients are not listed in the label and should not be in a dietary supplement.
“Products marketed as a vitamin but which contain undisclosed steroids pose a real danger to consumers and are illegal,” said Howard Sklamberg, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The FDA is committed to ensuring that products marketed as vitamins and dietary supplements do not pose harm to consumers.”
The FDA has received reports of 29 adverse incidents associated with the use of Healthy Life Chemistry By Purity First B-50. These reports include fatigue, muscle cramping, and myalgia (muscle pain), as well as abnormal laboratory findings for liver and thyroid function, and cholesterol levels. Females who used this product reported unusual hair growth and missed menstruation, and males who used the product reported impotence and findings of low testosterone.
Consumers using Healthy Life Chemistry By Purity First B-50 who experience any of these symptoms should consult a health care professional and report their experience to the FDA. Using anabolic steroid-containing products may cause acute liver injury. Some of the cases reported have resulted in hospitalization, but there were no reports of death or acute liver failure….”
I’m one of those people who believes that moderate use of vitamins and nutrient supplementations over time can improve one’s health, but as always we recommend regular blood work and close coordination with your healthcare professional.
My own daily vitamin/nutrient regimen consists of celery seed, lots of vitamin C, magnesium, L-arginine, black cherry extract, turmeric, huperzine, and bilberry/lutein. On top of this is a good solid multi-vit plus zinc and a baby aspirin with a meal. Every other day a small amount of boron and a B-complex formulated for allergies.
This is not a recommendation – again, see your health professional. It does, however, seem to work for me. I think the way to test vitamins is to add one to your regimen, use it for a month, and note any difference in weight and how you feel. Blood pressure and periodical blood work-ups periodically, too.
We can’t help but notice from raw irony in how Detroit, due back in bankruptcy court this week, could become a poster child for Obamacare.
The reason, as the New York Times explains in more detail over here, is that by pushing (early) retiree healthcare off onto the Obamacare system, that would reduce the city’s future financial obligations and, depending on how you push the numbers around, could become a keystone to working out a plan to avoid bankruptcy proceedings from moving ahead.
That Rhode Island city, not to be confused with the similar-looking left-handed skyhook, is increasing property taxes 23 percent. By doing so, they take another bold step toward being the first city in America to taxing people more than they make…a sadly crowded field, indeed.
The real solution, which Peoplenomics.com readers will receive in Wednesday’s report, is going to uniform government worker retirement programs and multi-color currency. I know that’ll keep you guessing, but I’ve been rereading lots of (first) Depression economic books of late, including some rare ones, and it’s amazing how much of what we’re facing now has been around before.
The Week Ahead
Since this is the end of the month this week, we should be braced for some predictable things that will happen. Oh, sure, there is a pending home sales report due out later on this morning, but that’s not nearly as important as tomorrow’s Case Shiller/S&P Housing Index report which continues to be the gold standard of non-government truth detectors. Housing prices stuck at 2003 by a month on month happy chart would be my dart toss.
Speaking of truth hurts, then on Wednesday morning, our “First Things” section in Peoplenomics will be assessing the new GDP figures. This is always a statistical nightmare being the worst mash-up on self-referential percentages imaginable. Once we get down to the actual constant dollars up or down of it, we can then infer whether the collapsing velocity of money will continue down, or whether it will try to level off a bit.
And one other economic highlight to keep an eye on is the price of gold which usually has some kind of a month-end beat down so the commercials can sop up something to deliver.
As any summer Monday should be, this promises to be a somewhat predictable week, after all.
More After This…
The Point of Iraq?
Oh, sure, we went into Iraq to develop ways to control people’s harvesting of heritage seeds, develop purple finger inks, and defend the West’s interest in heavy duty oil reserves.
But now that will pulling back to the US mega consulate, we see a wave of sectarian violence returning with more than 60 Shi’ites killed in the latest bloodshed.
Down the trench a ways, we have Syria’s government scoring a major victory over rebels (backed by the west) in Homs.
It is, sorry to say, same hike and the same crap, as most mornings. Maybe for tomorrow’s stroll, we’ll do the other side of the sandbox. Whatever.
Hot Reader News Tips
We get plenty of news tips from readers about stories that may not be getting front page (above the fold) play in the mainstream media, but which have captured reader attention. Here’s a sampling of where reader revelations are pointing today:
Reader Jeff finds the “Breaking the Banks” site useful – you might want to see if your bank is on their list/database
“Somebody” has got a couple of hot tips this morning: “Where the **** is summer for the Midwest? How much has the RECORD LOWS gotten attention, vs. say, record highs? I know, I know, it’s all part of Climate Change, so we need to increase taxes to stop this, right?”
Our long-term reader/contributor G.A. Stewart (which he’s not off being a techie) is one of the world’s leading Nostradamus thinkers. His website over at www.theageofdesolation.com is where he sells a thoughtful book on how modern times are fulfilling many of the prophecies of M. Nostradamus, whose history you can catch up on at Wikipedia.
Since I like to keep you abreast of things – preferably before they happen – we have an interesting discussion of how some hints of things to come may be coming along over the next year, or so:
Got to thinking… 1260 DAYS AND TWO WITNESSES FROM THE BOOK: May 23, 2013: “One thousand two hundred and threescore days” from December 10,2009 and Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize.
I think the two witnesses have flown under the radar in the countless riots that have erupted in the United States and Europe. Nondescript, they are fighting the good fight and they will probably appear somewhere around May 23, 2013.
Other than the summer sweeps (which ended day before yesterday) and the George Zimmerman whip-up of emotions and the royal diaper king, what do you think has been going on at the mentally subcutaneous level of thick-headed America? Glad you’re still bright enough to be curious. Apparently you’re resistant to emotional frenzy-whipping…which is a good thing.
We’ve got a real who-done-it going today watching reports of the continuing investigation into the death (Could it have been a murder made to look like suicide?) of Aaron Swartz who was the genius inventor of RSS and Reddit.
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution is unambiguous: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Except: The FISA (foreign intelligence surveillance act) Court gets to keep secrets and obviously by claiming “terrorism” the word foreign is being interpreted fast and loose in order to cast a wide net over….everyone. Oh, and since it’s all secret, no appeal to public courts…so yes, boys and girls, there is a shadow government.
As the above-linked article shows, the prosecution/persecution of Swartz really ramped up after he released a large chunk of JSTOR documents. This is only meaning if you understand that this is a HUGE repository of academic studies by America’s best and brightest – information too hot to be released to the general plebes like you and me.
The judge in the case has given the government until August 5 to produce a timeline for release of documents, but an intelligent bet is that the government will “play for time” on this one and will have to be wrangled back into court by Wired sometime in mid-August to explain why they haven’t released the documents.
Good question: What could JSTOR have possibly leaked to the public that would have caused such an uproar?
My #1 guess is that there is a key conceptual framework about “Big Data” in there which would only have one purpose: Massive spying on the [innocent] American public. Contravening the 4th Amendment in the process.
Specifically I would be looking at advanced server integrations which would be applicable to that new NSA super-farm being built south of Salt Lake City when another side bet is that someone has a huge advance in “named-entity recognition” that will literally give the government key insight into what you’re thinking, you threat to freedom, you, lol.
Or, the released data might have contained computationally useful information about linguistics. A head-wrap may be seen in “Phrase clustering for discriminative learning” Mix up learning agents and massive Big Data warehousing and now you’ve got absolute control of a population (formerly a “free” country.)
While you’d think MIT would have “clean hands” in this, remember they are one of the world’s leading computer theory and linguistics centers and the public blow-back could be significant toward the school if it were to be revealed (all hypothetically, mind you) that maybe they were working with the government (NSA et alia) on computation approaches to spyingonprotecting Americans. Why else would they hold that school staff could be placed in some kind of jeopardy by the release of information?
Soft mass-control versus hard personal-control is another way to look at it.
Another insight arises as Arvind Sathi notes in Big Data Analytics: Disruptive Technologies for Changing the Game“There were two types of leaders: Disseminating leaders who were connected to their groups by outgoing calls and authority leaders who were connected by a larger proportion of incoming calls…” [emphasis added- Ure]
While Sathi’s reference was to IBM Research’s work on (telephone) call centers, the data analysis case may likely be generalized when looking at a much larger universe of Big Data which includes not only verbose speech (SVIR/voice->text followed by NER thence SQL scoring layers) but also text (twits and emails) plus social mapping data (social media). Toss in your actual income (bank records) and expenses (bank/credit card records) along with call data (time/location/social maps) and there ain’t much about you government can’t already “know.”
While great research, there is obvious extensibility into how humans communicate in general such that the inbound/outbound call ratios of telephone call centers are likely extensible to your personal inbound and outbound email, shared links/favorites, and even things like your Facebook postings after running through NER. Which is why we explained additional mechanics of this to Peoplenomics readers recently [subscribe].
These latter concerns are particularly troublesome to news/analytics types like Ure’s truly who might be classes as “disseminating leaders” which means, under the emergent new laws of sociopolitical control via human communications, that you are roughly 28.5 times more likely to send a copy of something read on UrbanSurvival on to some of your friends than general non-specific web-based information.
Put another way, there’s a whole new class of quantifiable social behaviorism being discovered by Big Data and government is trying to get there first by loading up the Federal Data Hub with as much data and inferences about YOU and possible (never mind legal, because that’s whatever congress says it is). It’s clear that they’re trying to get as much of the baseline infrastructure in place as possible before the public rebels and demands change from Congress.
So the two battlefronts to note this week are the battle lines in the Swartz case on the one hand and the heavy-handed NSA green light approved by 217 traitorous members of Fools on the Hill whose only concern with Big Data is how it can be translated into campaign finance income. Which is why out of state money is so important to congresspersons.
Oh…..there is one other slim motivation for all the tensions over the JSTOR records release: The data may have revealed the location of the other of the moon’s sentinel’s (one of which is likely adjacent to the crater Aristillus)…but by comparison that’s a very low probability case. Besides, if you really wanted to know the answer to that one, you could get a ham radio license and test when the MUF is below 13 MHz using lunar ephemerides and 20 meters. But implications of LDE’s is another topic for another day…Maybe the secret of why we’re not going back to the moon is in there, too.
But seriously (and more so than usual) a word-frequency (topic-frequency) analysis of the JSTOR data would like reveal at least the primary domain probability of the contentious materials. Sorted to source_school=MIT but then you’d probably already figured that. If you have access, another tack would be index comparison between public and non-public…but then you couldn’t tell me. But, such is life.
Why subject-domain hunting is more fun than snipe hunting, ain’t it?
As we began this week with an account of national hog dog day, little did we ever imagine (OK, maybe we did, wanna make something of it?) that by week’s end we would still be up to our headlines in Weiners.
After being a microphone-slinging journalist for 15-years in a major market, and another xx years of writing/journalism, you get a pretty good idea who’s writing you the straight skinny and who’s pulling your chain.
so yesterday morning I was all hot on the idea of using past life regressions to “pull through” information and skills from previous lifetimes (if real) and I received a couple of really good emails on topic. But the capper of them all was this one from a fellow we’ll call Bob because it has a serious warning and “ring of truth” to it that causes me to step back from going forward with my usual full-tilt boogie into a new adventure:
“If the memories have not already returned ( usually around late 40s ) then you are probably not ready.
Regret, is the first to come back, fear of running for you life and horror of battle fields soon follow.
Regret will tear you to pieces if you let it.
Hellish dreams appear.
Language, is a product of years of training the speaking muscles and brain responses. It takes about 10 years ( not fun ) to train a body to survive in its environment. Seeing your loved ones dying around you is the worst horror of all.
When my memories returned, my first thought was “Bullshit”. Then I took a trip to a place from long ago and there I found the graves. I lost a dear son in WW1. To see the graves of your loved ones is a terrible experience.
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