The “Stuff” and the “Fan”

All kinds of people are likely to be disappointed by the morning’s financial developments.  I mean besides the median price of Bitcoins at Mt. Gox showing $514.50 although other places are showing a more optimistic $647.

No, we have larger (and more mainstream) fish to fry.

For one thing, Asia, which has been playing its Lazarus role (rising from the dead, you getting this?) seems to have suffered a relapse overnight.  Japan was whacked for a 1.8% loss that pounded the Nikkei down to 14,534.75 while the behemoth China was thrown for a 0.54% loss, but hasn’t completely given up the ghost yet.

Which then circles us around to Europe where, when I looked early, the kneelers were being tossed for a 41-point loss on the Footsie, the Huns were down 27 points (and probably still pissed that the US can’t deliver all their gold they entrusted us with, but that’ll show ‘em who’s boss, right?) and the French weren’t exactly toasting, being down almost 14 points.

Which brings us to this morning’s early look at the futures here, which suggested a Dow down 60, or so.

But that’s only the start.  It’s a long ways to Friday;s close,  And with that as foreplay (which I was never very good at, not being patient and all) along to this morning’s Number du Jour:  Retail Sales just out.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for January, adjusted for seasonal
variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $427.8 billion, a decrease of 0.4 percent (±0.5%)* from the
previous month, but 2.6 percent (±0.9%) above January 2013. Total sales for the November 2013 through January 2014 period were up 3.4
percent (±0.5%) from the same period a year ago. The November to December 2013 percent change was revised from +0.2 percent (±0.5%)*
to -0.1 percent (±0.3%)*.
Retail trade sales were down 0.4 percent (±0.5%)* from December 2013, but 2.6 percent (± 1.1%) above last year. Nonstore retailers were up
6.5 percent (±2.3%) from January 2013 and auto and other motor vehicle dealers were up 4.1 percent (±3.2%) from last year.

You go ponder what a nonstore retailer is for me, would you?  Is that like eBay Motors, or what?

All of which would be fine except that the reality of the non-recovery just keeps leaking out all over the place.

For one thing, as measured by the Fed’s M2, there was 5.3% more money sloshing around the country this December compared with ghost of retail sales past.  (I didn’t make this up, and I modestly left out the 8.2% increase in M1 sloshing about.)

And as that little chart on the right says (IF you take the time to look at it with the brain engaged) the ONLY thing that is keeping the economy out of the double dip recessions I told you to expect was auto sales.

And as our way of thanking the Auto Industry for saving America again, I plan drive by a dealership this week.

There will be some additional numbers out tomorrow in the form of import (ant) prices and the Fed’s industrial production and capacity numbers.  But fundamentally, the market is trying to figure out what to do with what I’ve been writing about for months now:  The arrival of Ure’s Vortex.

That’s when America (and the whole world, but let’s stick with the US because it is all about us, right?) will have to come to terms with some ugly realities:

    • We have a lame duck president
    • The people lining up as possible successors are also mostly lame
    • Robots are coming to take all our jobs and Google’s self-driving car should scare the shit out of you.
    • Resource depletion is real
    • Abiotic oil can in no way keep up with thirsty world.
    • There is deflation in the wings and…
    • We can’t seem to figure out what to make with all these people and factories, except war…since no one seems to remember our Peoplenomics report on Dr. Ron’s Leisure Class and a society of consumers who are hell bent on tourism and fine living ain’t something the powers that be want to share.

    All of which will go (toilet-flushing vortex like) down sucking the economy with it, until some geniuses figure out (near the exact bottom of the Long Wave low) that the best way to get bootstrapped up is by even more inflation – like never before, and – long as we’re at it – let’s have a war.

    Speaking of which, some reader took me to task and said he’d never read another column of mine because he figured that I’m pro war.  Sent me a poison-troll note hoping my kids would be on the front line.

    Well, a couple of points, just so we’re clear (and don’t let the door slam you on the ass on the way out):  First,  I am not in favor of war.  Killing people isn’t fun and it’s messy.  BUT second (and the point this former reader didn’t get, which is why he’s a former reader now bound for lower IQ-oriented reading) is that ALL THE DATA SAYS WAR FOLLOWS DEPRESSIONS.

    Now I can stand here on the shoreline and scream at the tide of human history all day along and be a bleeding heart liberal.  Or, I can look at the facts, admit “Say!  This doesn’t all end pretty, does it?” and get on with life in the meantime.  Planning a few hedges along the way, including not hanging around major population centers and becoming as close to self-sufficient as I can.

    And being ready at a moments notice to get the kids on  airplanes, busses, or even horseback to come down to our place at the end of civilization to chill while the world flushes itself.  You missed yesterday’s Peoplenomics on the mess of 1342-1345 and the 100-Years War that followed.  Your bad.

    It’s not a matter of IF humanity is going to screw up again, only this time in much nearer world-ending ways.  We have a few hundred thousand years of history that argue this is how the gene pool gets cleaned out and only aggressive, self-interested and violent people rise to positions of power.

    And for those of us who aren’t?  Well, we can parallel-trade the bad guys and make a few bucks for the kitty in the middle of the flush, can we not?

    Only a fool would look at the fan (spinning so fast you can’t see the blades) and assume they are not there.  Painful surprise, trust me.

    Similarly, only a fool would read the daily news and not notice a peculiar (and none-too-pleasant) odor and wonder  “Gee, what happens next?”

    If may not happen fast, today, or next week, but long wave economics argues that cyclical destruction of ‘life as you knew it” is baked in the cake with the interest-nearing models. 

    Anyone ever done a study of whether business cycles happen under Sharia banking?  Another research project is born.

    One of my designated smart-guy friends (Stephen R) sent me a very good note and chart on where things are going: “Russell 2000  Fast Stochastic (blue line) versus Slow Stochastic (red line) (Say get out of Stock Market) Picture is the same for the Dow Jones and NYSE.”

    And while you’re at it, have you given any thought to getting out of Dodge, too?

    The Dow looks to open down almost a hundred and my gut (going against my own trading model) makes me feel like a gunslinger, for sure.  (Or it proves I’m an idiot, all things in time…)

    Oh look!  Futures are down a hundred now.

    More fun, merriment, and nasal entertainment  after this…

    Buyers and Sellers

    Big Story in the Wall St. Journal this morning about how Comcast has agreed to buy Time Warner cable for $45-billion smackeroos.

    Despite my high-powered consulting operation, somehow they overlooked calling me – either side.  Which is a damn shame because whether this merger makes sense comes down to one ugly/nasty:  Technology shift.

    Everyone know that the future is fiber – I mean that’s be just obvious as hell for how long?  Forever?

    So, with the local telcos laying in fiber, and with lambdas coming to the desktop, seems to me that the company that groks the impact of more fiber, more fiber, repeat after me, “More FIBER!” best is the one that you should invest in.

    Unless someone is going to start buying up telcos with their money in order to start owning more backbone…. Hmmm…

    Iran’s Getting Nervous Again

    In case you’ve missed “the big game” here, it’s that the Israelis are patiently waiting to see what compliance levels will come from Iran as a result of the nuclear deal.

    And, upon reflection, it’s beginning to dawn on me (I’m a bit slow) that the Obama administration’s painting the nuke arms deal as somehow involving dismantling (which the Iranians have firmly and forcefully denied) was aimed not so much at the ‘Merican public (which is generally dumb and can’t find Iran on a map) but at the Israelis who maintain about a 2-hour lead time on “Go flatten Iran” plans.

    So with this, our former wargamer, warhammer says…


    Is Iran getting nervous?

    Times of Israel:  “Iran: We’re ready for ‘decisive battle’ with Israel, US”

    This bit-O-bluster seems more the back ally bravado of the neighborhood punk that’s about to find out he’s not all that tough and less of a statement of fact.

    Perhaps, just perhaps, Iran is beginning to realize that it might have to navigate a huge patch of thorns just to make one, lone, solitary nuclear weapon (Israel is estimated to have just short of 100 and the U.S.? Well, let’s just call it overkill and leave it at that).

    One way or the other, resolution of the Iranian affair appears to be getting nearer.


    I always liked threes….and I find it interesting that we now have three distinct flashpoints in the world:  Ukraine (EU vs. Russia), the Senkaku Islands (China vs. Japan, US) and as always, Israel vs. Iran.

    Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the potential of North vs. South Korea, or for that matter, India vs Pakistan and the Central African Republic against…whoever.  And Egypt going into a rerevolution and then Syria/Russia vs. US/EU….

    Wait an effing minute, Ure, you said THREE flashpoints….”

    Well, my bad: I was never any good at math, what can I say? 

    Boy, I’m sure glad we don’t have a Cold War, aren’t you?

    Hearty Weather

    Say, here’s a little item of interest for people in Atlanta (digging out) and people in the Northeast (digging in) for cold weather, courtesy of my [high-roller] friend Madison Avenue Mike:

    “Stroke risk tied to extreme weather, cold.”

    Turn the heat up and relax before reading, take two aspirin and write me in the morning.

    Hot consumer tip for you if you live in the Northeast:  The best snow blower there is at this time of the year is a ticket to Honolulu or Grand Cayman with an open return.

    Jus’ tryin’ ta help…

    Another Note to Matt Drudge

    Say, not to second guess an icon kinda guy again, but don’tcha think the headline this morning “Valentines Day Ruined” is just a little…you know…off?

    I don’t know about where Drudge is from, to to us old guys (experience and treachery, remember?) Valentines Day was always an indoor sport, not an outdoors event.  We save that for May Day….  (Hey, hey, first of May, outdoor you-know-what starts today…if you’re not awake yet. )

    I can’t think of anything neater than being snowbound with my honey….assuming we helped to wipe out the store shelves and held up a liquor store on the way home first.  Dude, snowbound would hardly be ruined.  Leave the power on but take out the phones, while you’re at it…leave the internet up, though…

    Hyperbole reigns, however when a weather story coming along.  Even the National Weather Service has caught the spirit of things saying travel will be “impossible.”

    I know of some paramedics, medical professionals, cops, firemen, and road crews that are about to do the impossible.


    I suppose we should move from here into a discussion of global warming, right?

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    George Ure
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