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Shocking Web Bot Hit
As we reported this morning in the wake of the mudslide in the Philippines, one of the things the web bots predicted was (and here's the quote from the run) " Further, one of the 'slides' is heavily cross linked over to 'governmental instability' suggesting that perhaps a poor response on the part of authorities will pressure already weakened governmental structures. " More on the emotional impacts of the event - now 1,800 dead expected.
OK, go look what happened hours later: An attempted coup against the government of the Philippines!
Damn! Is seeing the future ahead of time cool, or what?
A few have asked "Where the second alpine lake problem, then?" Look no further than Bolivia's Lake Titicaca.
Foreign Port Control
The moves by China and certain Middle Eastern countries to control America's waterfronts has continued in earnest. We have to wonder where are the Homeland Security geniuses on this one? Seems to me that there's a lot of risk in not having American ports (which are really sea-facing borders in my book) controlled by American companies. Chinese interests already control the Panama Canal.
Did it Wake Sgt. Preston?
A bit out of the ordinary: A couple of quakes have grabbed our attention up in the Northwest Territories of Canada. One on Thursday was a 4.3. Then this morning before my second cup of coffee, we had a 5.0
Now, I don't know about you, but this just strikes me as a bit odd for that part of the world.
I don't know if this will turn into a two-part adventure for subscribers or not - but the topic this weekend (which I'm writing next) is "Investing at the End of the World"... Click here for subscription information.
Friday Feb 17, 2006
"Soggy Hills Pollute Lakes"
Word out of the Philippines this morning that a small town at the foot of mountains had been washed away leaving 1,500 missing first came at 6 AM when an excited web bot subscriber called to say "Oh my God, another hit, George."
So I got up, popped open my copy of the ALTA 406 report series because yes, it did have the "feel" of something that was supposed to happen in the January-April period covered by the data run. So here, with exclusive permission (please observe the copyright laws - link here and www.halfpasthuman.com ) are some portions of the ALTA 406 forecast (1/6/06):
Well, yes, that's close, and the timing is about right. Not bad for a report published and distributed over a month ago (1/6/2006 was the ALTA subscriber distribution date on this). We'll watch to see how the Philippines government reacts, as we might see some shortcomings there...
Not that we're much surprised by anything in this timeframe. Take for example the Cheney shotgun case. We've been staring at the emotional impacts of the event since long before the December 10 web bot run went into a lot of depth about the "wounding" of the "Bushista data set." with the little word by/of confusion as we've noted before.
If I were guessing, I would infer from the report that from the "wounding" incident and linkages to "economy", we have an approximate time stamp from about which the economy will begin to descend, which gets us back to looking forward to the context changing coming at the end of March (28th). ALTA subscription info. As I've said many times, knowing the linguistic shifts to watch for certainly reduces stress about the future...
China's Next Move?
Not to sound like a bore, but the footwork concerning our projected "R&R War" (as in religion and resources) continues. Worth reading today: A thoughtful piece that makes the case that China may be getting ready to take on Russia for some lebensraum.
At the same time, there's a bothersome article out of Nigeria where the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta has declared total war on foreign oil interests. Again, it fits into our "religion and resource" conceptual framework.
And on the religion side, we note that a Pakistani cleric has offered a reward for anyone killing the cartoonist who drew the picture of the Prophet Mohammad.
We have to admire the dexterity of Vladimir Putin, in this run-up to the R&T War. He's trying to steer a very difficult course: On the one hand he is trying to push Iran toward halting their uranium enrichment plans, but on the other, he's offering a hand to Hamas.
We're seeing gold starting to push back up today. Seems like some of the major companies had recently advised their gold holders to sell. However, we've been hearing reports that other majors are buying on the weakness in here, so the recent weakness could just be a buying opportunity for "strong hands" to load up a little from the "weak hands." I'm comfortable with a year end target for gold of $650-700, or a lot more ($2,500 anyone?) depending on the nature of the context changing developments at the end of March.
Online Gaming in Trouble
Here come the regulators who want to make gambling from home over the internet illegal, so it seems. I think this is just the first of what will be a whole series of regulatory moves on internet commerce that attacks the more fundamental sources of campaign contributions. If someone is foolish enough to want to gamble online, the least they could do is open a brokerage account like the rest of us and play the real big money game in options...odds being similar and all.
Prepared for What?
With the web bot project projecting a "context shift" in late March, this weekend, we'll go through preparations that make sense for regular type folks at our subscription based www.peoplenomics.com site. Click for subscription details. Just $30 a year.
BTW, nincompoop is our "word of the day".
Cheap, Cheaper, Cheapest
Maybe there are some budget tips you haven't thought of yet in our ebook "How to Live on $10,000 dollars a year or less..." On sale for $10 at our bookstore.
Thursday Feb 16, 2006
France Labels Iran Nukes "Military"
If there was ever a likelihood that the Western corporate world would have to strike against Iran in the near future, it was probably dashed with the announcement by France in the past few hours that Iran's nuclear program has a "secret military component." There are several ways this can be taken, but in the most positive way, this could be a victory for the administration which has been quietly exerting all the pressure it can on Western-leaning countries (France "leans" West, but has plenty of socialist tendencies) to get real about Iran's designs.
If you're young, you may not remember Rube Goldberg. But Goldberg is remembered for his cartoons of fantastic inventions (such as one to tee up a golf ball without bending over). Not that I come anywhere near to his genius at creating such machines, but the idea of showing linkage in visual fashion wasn't lost on me when I was young (long, long ago). The People's Economist would like to suggest that Goldberg's method of linking odd things together really gets to the heart of how future events can work out, so with apologies to his descendants, here's how the linkage looks in a 7-minute CorelDraw sketch...
Sure, it lacks Goldberg's fine touches, but as a management tool - and something you can whip up in a PowerPoint easily enough, Goldberg-like linkages are very useful discussion tools for those unbearably long conference room sessions. Naturally, you can modify this by adding bowling balls that roll down troughs and such, but the idea this morning is to remember that everything is linked in the Universe - it's just than many times we forget this simple fact and believe (quiet wrongly) in "independent action."
It's against this background that we find the administration defending the use of prison facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for housing "war suspects." This despite a UN report that says the US ought to shut the place down. All this as there are new allegations about Abu Ghraib torture, and while the US quietly takes civil rights (like access to counsel) from those suspected of treasonous acts. Out of country, out of mind, we always say...
Lest you think I'm a bit overboard on civil liberties, consider the HUGE increase in terror suspects in the (former?) Land of the Brave, Home of the Free. 325,000 suspects are in the US terror databases, reports a British source. That's a four-fold increase in 2 1/2 years. In my sales and marketing consulting practice, I'd suspect this of being a multi-level marketing "pyramid scheme." I can see it now: If every terror suspect put into the database will just refer three more "terror suspects" we will soon have everyone in the database - and then we won't allow anyone to vote - can't be trusted, you know - and then we'll have...what?
A few folks are trying to get some civil liberties protections added, but it's darned little and very late in the game.
Web Bots and Cheney
I'm not the only one who remembers our web bot predictions about Dick Cheney - here's a reader who writes in...
Could be. As we've detailed so many times, the web bot project seems to get the broad brush of future events right. But, at the same time, it's not a precise way of learning the future. That said, the foreign investor who has been the major benefactor of the project has made or saved millions with it so far. Exiting Australian investments before their flooding, and the like. But then again, he gets highly specific date beyond what's in the subscriber reports to the ALTA series.
Whatever is going on with Cheney, he's standing up for his own error. If you missed it, see our back yard shotgun test from mid day Wednesday. We've just seen his troubles coming since October.
Our Shotgun Test Feedback
Two points (I feel like a guest on Myth Busters!). One is that my test on the range here was OK:
On the other hand, there's some discussion of the 0-0 buckshot comment from our Houston Bureau:
OK, back to the range today...
Ben Bernanke's first meetings on the Hill as Fed Boss were uneventful. As Alan Greenspan sidestepped making budget suggestions, it looks like Bernanke will follow suit.
Inflation on Horizon?
Despite the general lack of press awareness, there was something quite significant to me in Bernanke's remarks - namely that he's not leaving out the possibility of another rate hike (or more) should it be needed to bolster the US dollar. While that has been driving down Oil (and gold, which is a proxy for the other, or is it the other way around?) we notice that Sumitomo is talking about Q3 $80 oil this year.
My personal expectations, based on the bot runs and such, is that when our "encounter with scarcity arrives" it will bring oil closer to $100 than the present sub $60 levels. If I were a sporting man (but not a quail hunter) I might line up for some October-ish oil options. But Pappy didn't raise no fool - I'm not back to trusting the casino yet.
Deflation on the Horizon?
At the same time oil looks like a moonshot late this year, we go back to the question of the Housing Bubble popping. Answer: Not Yet. Soon, and already in some markets, but not yet nationally. Sales down 4.7%, but prices up 13.7% says one industry group of the latest quarter. About 8.3% up, when you pencil it out...
Whole Grains Defined
The Fooled and Drugged Administration has been listening to definitions proposed that would spell out what are "whole grains" and what are not. (Here at the ranch, when Elaine or I need flour, we throw chilled whole wheat in the Vitamix and mill our own, thanks.)
Wednesday Feb 15, 2006
So many people have written in about the shotgun comments of today that I decided to take a few minutes off from consulting work and go out to the range (next to the office) and so a few rounds of the closest thing I had to what Dick Cheney was reportedly shooting. The story is that he was shooting 7 1/2 bird shot - but the only thing I had close in the "UrbanSurvival Armory" was #8 bird shot target loads.
Here's what my carefully measured 30 yard shot looked like from an unchoked Mossberg 500 fired into that rubbery styrofoam (the flexible stuff, not the rigid stuff) looks like.
What I can report is that some of the pellets are at/near the surface, spacing is about 4-5" and penetration varied from surface to about 3/16th's of an inch. Remember, though, this is a target load (lighter) and the shot is a tiny bit smaller than 7 1/2" and hunting birds would usually involve a choke. But that's the back yard science with styro and no ballistics gel handy...
Industrial Production Drops
Just out from the Federal Reserve: Industrial Production dropped in January:
GDP Growth Skids
The latest from the Bureau of Economics Analysis shows the economy lost traction in the fourth quarter:
Public Goes Ballistic
No doubt about it, a few people are still armed with a few brain cells, despite the constant dumbing down efforts of mainstream media, the administration, and those who would be rulers of their own brand of new world order. Take for example Dick Cheney's War on Quail. Our Houston Bureau offers this:
It does seem odd - and at variance with reports - to hear that the shooting victim has shot lodged near his heart and that he's still in the hospital. But something's out of kilter in the reports and the public's not liking it one bit.
A few skeptics of the web bot project have come around:
It was covered on Monday - scroll down or click here.
The Long War Vision
Another area where the mainstream media seem to be asleep at the switch is the matter of the Defense Department's scaling up of its new "vision of the war on terror." It's not exactly perpetual war but in today's more-than-slightly Orwellian world, there's open talk of a war on terror lasting decades and being fought in dozens of countries.
Go let that sink in for a minute: Contrary to all the peace marching, share-the-wealth kind of thinking that might be going on in a world where there is sufficient resource to feed and educate everyone, the military-industrial-pharmaceutical complex (to add to President Eisenhower's definition) is in the process of morphing the War on Terror into The Long War which, you can bet your net worth, will be properly modulated for economic and social effects.
Not that there's anything wrong with a corporate bottom line world, mind you. To take any other path would cost the Powers that Be (which are by default the power that rule) a lot of paper profits in things like the stock market. Can't have any losses, now, can we?
The American Institute of Physics has a new note worth reading if you've ever found yourself looking at the market and trying to time a break. The article is along the same lines that UCLA geophysics prof Didier Sornette made headlines (and a good book with) a few years back. Which is to say that markets become predictably unpredictable.
What drove the market (ostensibly) in yesterday's action was the strong showing in January retail sales. Here, based on casual observations around town, I'd have to say the reports were likely facts-stretched-thin. The inversion of the 10-year and 30-year bond, with the earlier inversions of shorter maturity paper is just about a cinch to cause a serious recession - or worse- later this year.
Readers are all over the place trying to decide if the People's Economist has overdosed on cinnamon rolls and coffee, or whether he's got his head screwed on right. One seems it my way, for sure..
But another says "nope..."
Well, ask me that one about September 15th or so - remember that other than the context change which comes around March 28th this is supposed to be a period of relatively smooth sailing, until mid August.
In the meantime, we have to look at a few facts about the market. First, Ben Bernanke is a great believer in asset class price appreciation. Now that the housing bubble seems to (momentarily) have peaked, or is taking a breather, about the only major asset class left to puff up would be stocks.
A couple of readers have pointed out that with the Dow back over 11,000, it's only a matter of time until a new all-time high is registered. Me? I wouldn't bet on such nonsense on an inflation-adjusted basis.
Recall that the all time high in the Dow was around 11,723 if memory serves me - and that was in early 2000. It's now six years later and I'd argue that to just match the all-time high, we would need to see a Dow of 13,785.76.
But don't take my word for it. Click on the handy inflation calculator logo on the left margin, and plug in the numbers yourself. The 17.6% inflation (watering down of your money by printing money like its going out of style) between the previous all-time high and today means that on an inflation adjusted basis the market would have to gain 25% from here. Small odds, I think. I'd shade my bets toward an inverted yield curve heralded recession getting here first.
70,000 or there abouts showed up for the anti-cartoon demonstrations in Pakistan today. If you're keeping tabs, 3-dead there so far, reports CBC.
Off in the background of the Religion and Resource War, we see the US trying to get Iran to accept the latest Russian enrichment deal.
Isolation for Hamas?
The US push for democracy in Iraq may sound good in 10-second sound bites, but when a country elects a leadership that doesn't fall in to the Western corporate line, the US seems ready to step in and try to destabilize things. At least that's the gist of the reports about the US-Israeli plan to "isolate" Hamas.
The Bush administration is talking out of both sides of its mouth again on the dicey issue of trade with China, following the record deficit. On the one hand, the administration promising tougher law enforcement on unfair trade practices (what were they doing before?). But you see, grasshopper, if we really did that, China would stop buying our bonds and we'd be screwed. This is a box canyon. You're just not supposed to realize it.
The $1.2 Million Handshake
Yup, that's a lot of money to shake hands, but reportedly, that's the kind of thing that was reportedly going on with the Bush White House when Jack Abramoff was "working" it.
Tuesday February 14, 2006
Love, Or Something Like It
I don't know about you, but sitting here a few days from turning 57, I've come to appreciate Valentine's Day as equally important as Christmas. The two holidays purportedly have a lot in common. Besides the color red, which shows up a lot on both days, both are about the odd human emotion/or whatever you call it, "love."
"So what does Valentine's Day have to do with economics, oh strange one from Texas?" you ask. It seems to me that Christmas has been more or less hijacked by commercial interests, at least to the point where we see more open discussion about "love" around Valentine's than I noticed last Christmas. The typical Christmas advertising messages about love usually seem to go something like "Buy your loved one..." But Valentine's get more directly to the idea of "being excellent to one another" [to borrow the phrase from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure].
In China, a Divorce Club opened today in Shanghai. On the lighter side, you can try your hand at the "Love Calculator" online. But take it with a grain or salt (or three). Elaine and I are only supposed to be 25% compatible, whereas my "ex" and I were ()I couldn't make this up) 69% compatible. That was what is now several hundred thousand of real estate and $250,000 after tax dollars of child support ago...
In answer to the Tina Turner song, "What's Love Got to Do With It?" My answer: Everything. But putting aside the emotional stuff, this is an economically significant day with the average male spending $135.67, while women will spend about half that. On average, Valentine's Day is about 3% more expensive this year than last.
Take today seriously. The Utah Marriage Commissions figures divorces cost the state and federal government $297-millon in 2003 - and that's a bit over $32,000 per divorce in government cost. And that's Utah where I'd expect the rate of divorce would be lower than California.
Maybe Crosby Stills & Nash were right from an economic perspective; it is cheaper to: Love the One You're With.
Adventures of Hair Trigger Dick
Dick Cheney isn't getting off completely for the hunting accident last weekend. He's being charged under Texas hunting laws. Meantime, the fact that his victim is still hospitalized argues that the incident was a lot more serious than the White House spinsters made it out to be. Economic impacts? I don't know about you, but it makes me want to contribute a bit to the NRA's gun education fund - and suggest they do capitol hill classes. Index!
As I told you would be the case, the comedians are having a field day with the incident. One email I received purported to be the "Texas Regulations for Hunting Attorneys". Among the rules"
Iran War Wind Up
OK, the war has already broken out from the marketing standpoint, what with the powers-that-be allowing/promoting the Danish Cartoon Flap, designed to goad Muslims into a reaction. But it's not like Iran's sitting idly by, either. They have done two things which will just about insure the West goes bonkers. One: They have started small scale nuclear enrichment. Two: Their apparent "mutual defense" buddies over in Syria have pulled their money out of US denominated accounts and have "gone Euro.".
There was a very good backgrounder out of GlobalResearch.ca last week on the impacts that the coming Iranian oil bourse (no dollars, thanks) will have on the global economy. Not good from the US perspective. Perhaps in reaction, gold we notice has ended its little corrective decline.
And the mood of the Muslim world is shifting as a result of the pending expanded conflict in the Middle East. Witness the opening of an anti-American film in Turkey to favorable reviews - in that part of the world.
As we watch the pieces fall into place, you can almost picture a boxer drawing back and winding up for the "big punch" as we read the media stories. Right now, the boxer is still "winding up" on both sides, but the odds of turning away from throwing the punch decrease dramatically as we move forward in time.
If I were placing the $2 sports book bet, it would be something like: "Israel goes against Iran with tactical nuclear "bunker busters" on Israeli election day (28th of March) or the day after, so as not to sway the election. Then, widespread World War Three type stuff around August 31/September 1 as the web bot hot dates work out. But, that's only a $2 bet at this point. I'll let you know as the bet goes up or down. $2 on March 29th.
Mark of the Beast...er...Blair
Same difference? Tony B has moved Britain another step closer to cattle-tagging its public with a key vote on mandatory ID cards. Beastly move.
Hidden History of Germ Warfare
Six Truths and their Consequences is the topic this week. Subscription information here.
Monday Fed 13 2006
The R&R War
A Few Data Points
The G-8 finance ministers, are of course, only acting out their parts as the world descends into what we've labeled the "R & R Wars" - or resources and religion wars that will necessarily result when global economic systems bump up against limits of sustainability and start fighting for the scraps that remain in places like the Sudan, Nigeria and much of Africa.
What we see are both internal and external events that support this notion. For instance:
So with bad news about the US economy starting to leak out, more religious tensions, and the end of Peak/Cheap oil in sight, the reports are flying that the US is prepping for a Blitzkrieg of Iran. And while the prepping is underway, there's an economic side show to keep the illusion going that all is well - also known as the...
G8 on Energy
The G-8 finance ministers met this weekend in Moscow, trying to come up with plans for all kinds of thing - free trade, development and most importantly, energy security. Not that they will make a lot of progress, but give 'em a few points for trying. The problem is that they keep coming back to "high oil prices are the main threat to the world economy." The People's Economist begs to differ: Oil, when viewed from the historical perspective is not that expensive. What's going on, should the G-8 decide to be candid about it, is that the corporations of the world are running out of ways to increase their bottom lines. There's such excess capacity sloshing about that most companies don't have pricing power, and besides, if they did, that would just touch off inflation. So, with too much "stuff" and no where else to raise profits, the G-8 are slipping into simple think and coming up with "energy security" as the topic of the day. It goes (almost with saying) that everyone in Iran knows this already.
Like it or not, the West and Middle East are on a collision course over resources.
Anyone who subscribed to the web bot runs from www.halfpasthuman.com is probably going "damn!" You might recall that in run 106 (or was it 406?) there were references to the Bush entity in model space repeatedly using the word "wounding" when referring to the Bush folks. Here, one of the downfalls of the data project becomes apparent. Little words don't come through in the linguistic shift software. So while we just assumed it was a wounding of the VP, it was a wounding by the VP. I specifically remember a conversation with bot parent Cliff (November/December timeframe) about whether we should put the "wounding of" out in a report, because of the dangers to the project of predicting what could be interpreted as an assassination attempt. So it was referenced as a wounding of the administration.
The part of the conversation last year went something like this: "Cliff, how is is going to sound if we call someone like the Secret Service and say "there's going to be a incident involving wounding of the president or vice president about in here a couple of months from now'? A couple of nutjobs for sure..." I advised at the time. "Besides, if we're right, someone is going imagine that we had something to do with it because linear thinking people don't understand the technology as it is...and then to predict an attack on the president or vice president?"
We eventually figured that because it showed up in the data run, there wasn't going to be anything that could be done to avoid it, the future being what it is has already happened anyway. Because it is ordained by Universe to happen anyway (or it wouldn't show up in the data) would you want to try to explain this to a serious-minded Secret Service agent? Pass. (This peering through time stuff is a bit mind-tweaking at times. And no, time doesn't operate at all like most people think.) The phrase eventually settled on by Cliff and Igor (pronounced EYE-gor as in the Mel Brooks movie, he reminds us) was the "wounding of the Bush administration." Should've been by. Oh well.
On a different tack, I couldn't believe the spin on this story - how it's somehow OK for the US VP to be involved in a serious shooting incident. One British paper went to far as to call the shotgun a "pellet gun". Spin! If you shot someone while hunting - accidental or otherwise, I'd bet you'd be in jail. But I digress...
So with another 'hit' by the software, we're wondering what this "context change" stuff coming at the end of March will be. The date is March 28th for whatever is going to happen +/- a couple of days. Doesn't seem to be a terror event - at least at the moment - something more global...
Saddam. In court again. Guilty or not, Baghdad did look better before we showed up.
Snow up in the Northeast this weekend may cause some residual problems today. My friend the Gold Trader reports that after living in Southern California most of his life, he's actually enjoying it. Clear and cold at the ranch this morning - 19 degrees in fact.
Although we've now lived here for a couple of years, our occasional forays to the Republik of Kalifornia have taken their toll on our speech. Our friend, the Wandering Texan offers us a little linguistic aid so that we don't stick out so much as Texas transplants:
In the future, if I lapse and write something like "A small herd of deer were drinking water from the neighbor's pond across the street" what I meant to write was "A buncha deers was drinkin 't the neighbor's pool 'cross a road..." I don't want no whoopass an I ain't goin quail huntin.
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