Like every Monday, this one started as all Mondays do; looking with disbelief at how transient the weekend was and wondering “What the hell did I really get done in two days?” and “Where’d the weekend go???”
A check of the sky, the radiation survey meter next to my desk, and noticing that the sky was still devoid of glowing mushrooms, led me to conclude that War didn’t break out this weekend over Ukraine and thus, predictable, the market ought to rally this morning until the next turd-in-the-punch-bowl shows up in headlines. 50 up at the open, call it.
I figure about Thursday the punch will turn undrinkable.
Here’s Ure’s Impeckerble Logic:
- The only major economic news this morning is a “Who cares?” housing number on pending home sales. This ought to be down, but figuring out “How far is down?” is hardly worth the calories needed to fire neurons. So there goes Monday.
- That gets us (still snoozing) to Tuesday when the Case-Shiller/S&P/Dow Jones (and whoever else wanders by) 20-City Housing Index comes around. This one ought to tell us we’re still stuck at 2003-2004 prices, but, as usual, only the top 2 percent of the assembled multitude will wonder what $100 in 2003 would buy today. (The correct answer is $77.82 worth, since to hold purchasing power of a $100 bill printed in 2003 you’d need $128..15 today.) Yes, dear, that really means something but not to the nation’s lamebrain financial press which can’t adjust inflation to save their sorry souls.
- The other tell-tale tomorrow is Consumer Confidence (emphasis on the “con” parts. More than anything, an economic realist, such as you-know-who, will use this to calibrate “Kentucky Windage” on how slow-thinking the ‘Mercian public is with all these pills in ‘em.
- You’d need to be a subscriber to Peoplenomics.com in order to hear the blood boil about the advance GDP numbers coming Wednesday.
Then we get to Thursday and by about here, we ought to figure out what “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!” is all about because…
- Challenger job cuts come out.
- Personal Income (always a giggle) will be released along with it’s hysterical side-kick “personal savings rate” which includes (you’ll love this…) paying down credit card debt. (Honest accounting would book the depreciated value of the crap you bought, but that’s a longish rant you are too busy for…)
- This all comprises something to do with Personal Consumption Expenditure tables, which is sort of like the trauma doc’s notes on why your wallet (OK, or purse) is bleeding red all over the place. (“Change!” remember? Which, in turn, is kinda like “One born every minute” but with a voting lever.)
- Construction spending (down on single family is my bet, up on chicken coops for the poor and disenfranchised to keep ‘em in hock to The Man, I figure).
- And if that’s not enough, once the morning’s tears have been wiped away, along with come auto and truck sales just in time to ruin an otherwise pending Miller time Thursday after the Fed Money Printing Festival Revelations are disclosed. (Seems like I’m the only guy saying “Holy crap! Printing M1 here lately at almost 19%…where’s the inflation? None? OMG that means DEFLATION has really started to dig in!!!”)
To wrap up the week, we should get the unemployment rate, hourly earnings and factory orders (What factories? They’re all in China, FCOL).
Now, perhaps this is a somewhat elongated soliloquy to get to my first point: But here’s the deal, plain and simple:
Since we talked Friday, a story came out that US factories are gaining on China. In longer versions of the story, like this one in USA Today, what you read is all about how productivity is increasing in America. Which, no doubt, it is. I mean, the Boston Consulting Group is shooting straight, right?
To me, however, this is one of those good-news, bad-news kinda of stories. Why? Well, I’m sure all the productivity stories are true and yeah, sure, you betcha there will be jobs building the factories. But what’s going to be inside?
Machines. Automation. Robots.
And it sets the baseline for a deeper discussion which I’m going to keep harping on you about until you want to puke: Productivity reaching the mystical 100% means no jobs for humans. And that’s the bugger in the whole equation of modern capitalism. One of two.
T’other? If you’ve been paying attention, it is that even with lower interest rates, we have falling behind the power curve, so that compound interest still eats the global economic system in short order, which is why the New World Order clowns are all scared shitless because they know that periodic global economic depressions don’t end happily. (Look around you for signs and portents.)
While we wait for the unhappy ending (which some prescient/RV/seer types figure will be 2015-2016, the Big Slide is on and this year’s “Sell in May and Go Away” could be one for the record books. Just a hunch, mind you.
There’s no point in worrying about it this morning: This is still Monday. And like the headline this morning said in just five words and a punctuator: Sleep Till Thursday – Or War.
We’ll get to that next…
War! (Of words, so far)
President Traveler is taking time out from his Asia cuisine to announce “New U.S. Sanctions on Russia over Ukraine.” (I had leftover spaghetti this morning, but the national press seems to have overlooked my side of it.)
Poor move. On Sanctions, not my spaghetti. No, make that really, really dumb move for two reasons that ought to be obvious.
1. If you tell Russia what we’re going to do, before it is in place, then Russia will hit the push buttons on their programmed response and the net gain is nil.
2. Secondly, Russia made it through the weekend without going into eastern Ukraine, so now is NOT the time to be slapping on sanctions. Unless you’re trying to pick a fight, of course, and in that case, must be some really bad news about the economy on the horizon because the #1 reason for most wars is socioeconomic…
3. Third: Putin will be really pissed when he reads in the NY Times how the US/West is after his personal hidden wealth around the world, figures our tipster Madison Avenue Mike.
So with this (mild, restrained) analysis, let’s see what warhammer sees as he polished his spectacles and oak leaves…
It is vital that leaders in the West examine all the viable motivations for Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and its apparent intent on safeguarding the bordering Eastern Ukraine. While I do not agree with all the points laid out in the article by the Guardian . . .
. . . I believe the UK news organization has more deeply and thoroughly addressed the crisis than just about every NATO or U.S policy maker.
Certainly, access to the Black Sea is vital for Russian commerce and naval power projection. Only a fool could expect Russia to sit by idly and let the Ukraine ally with NATO, watching their Black Sea fleet face obscurity in the process.
What cannot be explained is why Russia is fanning the flames of the crisis by massing forces on Ukraine’s eastern border and sending military advisors into the pro-Russian region to train those armed protestors occupying government facilities. The already tenuous situation is exacerbated by Russia’s provocative actions, resulting in a highly predictable reaction by the interim Ukraine government, which promptly sent 15,000 troop to the precipitous edge of the contested region.
As the Guardian aptly notes, this crisis is all about Russian power. I contend that it is quite clear Putin intends to make an example out of the Ukraine. Should Poland, Romania or Estonia ally themselves with any great power other than Russia, they will pay a similar steep price. Such intimidation runs contrary to the mutually beneficial reasons underlying a traditional alliance. Putin’s intimidation demonstrates that Russia, and Russia alone is the beneficiary of any and all alliances she enters into. The reward for compliance with Putin’s version of an alliance is a lack of punishment and pain.
What next? Probably not much from the U.S., which is trimming its military and reducing its overseas presence. The EU and Germany hold the keys to any for of necessary deterrence necessitated by this affair. As the dominos continue to fall, I look to Iran and Syria to invite increasing Russian patronage as they continue to further their separate but mutually aligned militaristic Middle Eastern agendas. Such sponsorship justifies the strategic importance of the Crimea.
Strange bedfellows (opposing alliances) can be expected to emerge from among the nation/states and ethnic/religious groups threatened by Russia’s coercive actions. These remain to be seen, but one mustn’t forget that Israel has a strong military industrial and technology capability which could come into serious play should America continue its withdrawal back into isolationism. Chief among Israel’s capabilities are missile defense and nuclear weaponry.
One thing I’m sure of – this ain’t over by any stretch. We could be witnessing (best case) the emergence of a new Cold War or (worst case) the beginnings of a long, hot war that will consume much blood and treasure. I personally don’t like the cold much, but in this scenario I prefer it to the heat generated by an air-to-ground conventional missile or a thermonuclear detonation.
Warhammer and I agree to disagree on multiple points. I think Russia is totally predictable and sees a US-China relationship as catastrophic such that they are trying to snatch back as much small arms making from as many former states like Poland and Romania, Bulgaria (yada, yada) as possible before Chinese troops take (in no particular order) the oil fields of the Middle East and the riches of Siberia.
And as I’ve said previously, one of the Putin firecrackers taped to his ass is the elections in Ukraine which come up in late May. If he doesn’t march West at least two weeks before elections, his initial claims of “coup” and non-elected leadership will be toast.
The “phrase that pays” for headline writers today is “new phase.” As in “MH3780: New phase to include private contractors, may cost $60-million.”
So brace yourself for the term “new phase” to be ground into your head. Hell, I’m sick of it already and after only reading it six times. Sheesh!
Meantime, the conspiracy boards and many of the alt.news operations that don’t bow to a corporate leash have mostly settled on the MH370 case as having ended at Diego Garcia (another vacation paradise for the unwilling) operated by the US dot mils in the Indian Ocean.
The reason? Micro-size microprocessor which could change the playing field for drones and the like was about to be made in China, goes the theory, and that would have horrific intel consequences for US Chinese relations, if not war.
We know war with China is coming, certainly before 2022 because the US is giving China US Assets including federal lands in return for all those bonds we’ve been peddling. But, in the end, the US will tell the Chinese to take a hike, we will “repo” what will be framed as “Our American Heritage Lands” and war with China will be short and ugly.
Curiously, I don’t know if the Russians see that, or whether we’re still in the part of the poker game where everyone is still screaming “ALL IN!!!” and looking like idiots (at best) or the original amateur hour (at worst). The Gong Show with a nuclear ending.
Judging by how the world leaders size up, my saying idiots really is the best-case analysis and pretty damn charitable, at that.
Tornado Alley Fires up
Hell, here’s a shortcut for you: I’ll call it 29 dead right now, if that helps lighten your reading load.
Let’s Make a Deal?
The cancel drug pipeline might be worth $100-billion which proves the point cancer has been turned into an industry. No, I didn’t say this was bad. Just that’s what it is. Like it or don’t. Don’t let emotions cloud clarity of thought, please.
The Water Police are Coming!
To California. My earlier predictions about the out-migration from drought seems to be getting off to a slower start than I figured. Maybe people are just dumber than I gave them credit for. My bad.
Waiting for Coke to announce that new soft something California Dry, which would be similar to Canada Dry but with more fruit and nut flavors…
No, you don’t have time for the whole list…off to work with you!