Saturday August 6, 2005 08:45 A PDT
How to Live on
$10,000 a year
Peoplenomics this Week
I'm off to start writing this week's Peoplenomics.com report, which deals with rethinking work and the idea of leisure. If you're not a subscriber and have $30 to invest in brainfood, click here.
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Friday lunch Minute Rant:
Fed G.19 Consumer Credit Disaster
"Holy cow, Market Man, did you see that?" asked Fed Boy.
"See what you alarmist, paranoid nutjob?" replied Market Man.
"The Fed just released the June Consumer Credit report and it shows the annual rate of change for Consumer debt climbing at 11 1/2% annualized for revolving debt and 6.5% annualized for non-revolving debt," said Fed Boy, pointing at the Fed's latest online confessional released a mere one hour before market close - which they tend to do on bad news days.
"Nothing to worry about, like I said, you little twit. It's all just the Joker trying to play another nasty trick on us," cautioned Market Man.
"You mean the Joker who still calls himself Alan Greenspan?" asked Fed Boy.
"Shut up or I'll see you get sent to Mauritania to fight for the neocon's next oil. Now help me buy some calls to keep this thing from tanking in the final few minutes of trading today."
"Shut up and buy calls, twit. Hey...who's that guy with the laptop over there furiously typing?
(boom, kapow, socko @#$%^&*)
Al Qaida: The
There's another way to look at the mindset of al Qaida - a radical viewpoint - which few people take the time to consider: One could argue that many Islamic countries are being exploited for their geological and sociological resources just as England exploited the American colonies in the mid 1700's.
While there are huge contextual and definitional differences, there's no doubt in my mind that the self-perception of al Qaida is that their operatives are in some sense modern analogs of all other independence movements that have gone before.
Mind you, I in no way endorse or support the terrorists, but as a patriot American, I have an obligation to put my best thinking forward. In doing so, I have come to view al Qaida as a marketing problem.
What I observe and conclude is that to low income peoples, exploitive Western capitalism is an easy concept to market against. Which is precisely the conclusion that the militants have come to and it's one reason that militant Islam is growing so quickly as a global movement. To their way of thinking (and reflected in their marketing strategies), their mental equivalent of the 13-American colonies includes the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Indonesia, parts of Southeast Asia, and a host of other countries where Islam is on the march.
While Tony Blair and company are busy coming up with new measures to throw threatening peoples out of England, and the US has increased its misnamed War on Terror, it's clear to me as a sales and marketing professional (and ex-journalist) that the West has missed the fundamental problem almost entirely.
In order to counter-act the al Qaida and militant Islamist movement, the West needs a new marketing and advertising campaign above all else, and getting there requires a radical redefinition of the product we're marketing as a country.
George Bush and company has missed this key point (making Rove more a hack than marketing genius): You don't see Ford going after GM on the basis of "GM being the axels evil." Instead, you see Ford redefine the battle ground in the marketing war as one where "Quality is Job One." Then we see GM respond with offers "employee discounts." Where is our foreign policy equivalent?
International political leadership may read Foreign Affairs and consider themselves quite eloquent in the halls of diplomacy, but give anyone of them a job on Madison Avenue and they would last about 30-seconds. The idea in Vietnam, that it was a "Hearts and Minds" issue was fundamentally correct. What failed was the implementation of the "new product positioning" because there wasn't any. Sending John Bolton to the UN will be a disaster because he's not a marketing man. We need someone who genuinely loves people and walks the talk.
We should be sending Trout and Reis (authors of "Positioning: the advertising battle for your mind"). Why? America is a great story - and one to be shared. But that's not what we're doing!
While the US attacks insurgents in Iraq in a major new offensive today, we also read reports from our colleagues who have business that takes them to the Green Zone, from which we get reports like this one:
So as the long-running war rages on in the West versus al Qaida, the sooner we recognize that al Qaida operatives all picture themselves as modern day Paul Revere types (regardless of whether we agree with the validity of that concept or not), the sooner we might be able to figure out a product rebranding program for America at a national and international level that will work. The president's marketing package of what America is all about is obviously not working.
But to respond as we have with our "Axis of Evil" and draconian security measures, is a shallow replay of the same mistakes the British made in our own pre Revolution days. The British 'cracked down" on those damn colonists. Rather than listening with their heart, England actually caused the American Revolution by its taxation and abuse.
In much the same way, al Qaida is marketing anti-US direct actions (terrorism, bombings, and killings) the same way our founding Fathers did. And in repeating the mistakes of the English, modern America is likely to continue losing it's manufacturing colonies in painful slow-motion.
The longer we postpone the major product redesign and packaging program for other countries as the modern world demands, (and which should include some coupons and other retail tools such that the man on the street in the modern colonies gets a 'piece of the rock") the war on terror will continue to grow over time and we are providing the marketing materials. With oil depletion on our adversaries side, the time is becoming short.
I like to think our leaders in Washington have the best interests of this Great Country at heart. But without a different frame of reference, the temptation to keep doing the 'same old marketing program" reinforced by superbucks from the political action committees will prevent fundamental break-through change. The War on Terror is not the answer. Product redefinition and a serious restructuring is urgently required because global corporate colonialism is just not selling.
Suing the Miners
It's a curious thing, this Manufacturer's Resource War that we propose has been running since the 1950's and the world runs into the physical limits of growth and exploitation: The "weapons" on both sides include the courts and the democratic processes - a sort of fifth column not typically see to such a great extent as in past wars. As evidence of the notion, we would point to the trial starting this week in Indonesia, where US-based Newmont Mining has been called on the carpet because of pollution. Whilst this may not seem a particularly important story on the surface, it's one which could begin an international movement, already somewhat underway, to use "legal" processes to make multinational corporations as responsible as humans would be, for environmental damage they may cause. The ramifications of the case are extremely important.
Mauritania's new Rulers
As we noted
yesterday, the new leadership of Mauritania (which has oil
assets about to come on line) will need to make its allegiance
to one faction of the NWO or the other here shortly.
Yesterday, they started the process of figuring out which side
to line up with as they held diplomatic meetings.
Here's the "official" report from the Labor Department on Employment today:
The closely watched CES-Birth Death model actually understated the job growth by 76,000, so the real number for the month may have been as high as 283,000. But this stuff jumps around a lot. Market may actually rally when a few more economists figure this out.
Army Seizes Mauritania
Well, well, well. Another country has changed hands overnight - this times it's smallish Mauritania. Now, you might be asking yourself, "Why does that odd Mr. Ure fellow see anything to Mauritania's change of government?" You don't have your CIA World Fact Book memorized, do you? Let me quote for you:
Repeat after me: "Oil is coming on line from there...so government grabbing time is now." Naturally, when we see headlines that Israel is taking a high level of interest in the situation, that gets our attention too, if for no other reason than it sort of fits around the idea of global economic factional warfare that we've been watching. And, oh yeah, this may well be the start of a whole series of countries changing hands because as the current web bot runs from www.halfpasthuman.com note, the world is now transitioning into a period of "militancy" which has military implications.
Up next: Over the coming week or two, the Mauritanian Army will begin to act in ways that will indicate which of the world's economic factions they will be loyal to, and we put another notch on our guns as the Manufacturer's Resource Wars, which we reckon to have started with the Vietnam War, continues unabated but at a snail's pace, invisible to sound-byte surfers of non-news events.
Another Oil Grab?
Ever since Fed Chair Alan Greenspan's wife Andrea Mitchell of NBC was groped by Sudanese bodyguards, things have been falling apart in the Sudan, after a military Vice President died a few days back in a helicopter crash. Now, we watch reports of escalating riots. Rightly or not, we see this as another skirmish in the war between economic factions under the thin veneer of idealism (sort of like most wars). Again, to the CIA Fact Book:
We find it curious again that after all the humanitarian talk is set aside, the leading industry in the country is oil ahead of cotton ginning and textiles. Now let me say it again: Manufacturer's (slow motion) Resource Wars. If you're still scratching your head about the Vietnam War as our arbitrary starting point, look at that country's natural resources: phosphates, coal, manganese, bauxite, chromate, offshore oil and gas deposits, forests, hydropower, and you'll see how the pattern works. Not to mention the low labor rates, ideal for making shoes...
Reebok v. Nike
This story is also "laced" with punster prose, as we read about Adidas being able to "nip at Nike's heels". We've always shaded to the thoughtful and studied approach of business reporting (although we hide that fact well) so our only contribution to the pun festival will be to refer to Adidas and Nike as "arch enemies" and let it go at that.
Tropical Depression & Earth Watch
We see people battening down the hatches (and porches) in Bermuda as a tropical depression approaches. You may remember in the web bot forecasts for this time period, we had mentioned several months about about record numbers of hurricanes expected, long before the official number forecast was raised this week..
Also on the earth changes front, lots of readers have sent us Stan Deyo's advisory that says the next five days is an unprecedented period of earthquake dangers, something we have been aware of ever since the bot's "summer Shakes" warning from May of this year when Part Two of the "summer Shakes" forecast came out. We mention this ahead of time because if we do get a big quake, it might have some impacts on mining and resources...
The references have resolved into a clearer picture for ALTA subscribers since, but volcanic activity seems to be picking up worldwide. Places like Mt. St. Helens are obvious, but there are also warnings from places like Nicaragua which might be meaningful soon. And up the street from our readers in Guam, there's a lot more activity from Saipan to be concerned with.
So whether the volcanoes are a separate event from the pending next round of the summer shakes remains to be seen, but if we were placing bets, we would look for them to show up as a "dynamic duo."
We are a bit confused by the coverage on Iraq lately. It's almost like the administration is trying to declare a win out of a lost war, because the agenda, whatever it was, has been accomplished. For example, the story at Military.com this morning says if everything goes well, the drawdown of forces will begin after the December elections in country - if things don't get worse. Yet at the same time, we read this morning that another 14 of our Finest and Brave paid the ultimate sacrifice today. All this for a country that is producing only 60% of the oil it was when we went in, guns blazing.
We are starting to ask, "What was that war all about?" Oh sure, we have been reports around the net that the Chicago Grand Jury in the Plame case supposedly having returned secret indictments against George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Condi Rice, but we don't pout too much stock in those, although it might sort of fit with the web bot runs fopr the October kind of timeframe. We'll know soon enough, because if there really is a shadow government run by "powers that be" then we can predict something horrible at least 10-times worse than 9/11 as a distraction and excuse by the truly evil people to seize what's left of Freedom in America.
Some things are becoming clear: The war wasn't about "getting Saddam" because he's been in jail for months and whether his lawyers attend the tribunal in Baghdad, We still think it unlikely that he will ever be allowed to live long enough to mount a meaningful public defense. The war wasn't about oil, because as we reported yesterday, it's just over half of pre-war levels. And if we spent money at the same $300 billion rate in order to secure the neocon's idea of Liberty, we could quickly go bankrupt with the "gunboat democracy policy." The world is awash with corupt pols with their hands out - and perhaps such a house cleaning should have started with a House cleaning in DC rather than the banks of the filthy Tigris which we almost lost one of our own to.
The war has left the nation deeply divided, as evidenced by an anti-war Iraq war veteran losing to the Republican machine in Cincinnati Tuesday. Unity hasn't been an outcome.
***Bottom Line*** American taxpayers have been forced to ante up $300 billion and nearly 2,000 of our sons and daughters dead. So while the administration lays the groundwork for a pullout, (which Forbes calls a De Facto Withdrawal ) we're asking a simple consumer protection kind of question: What did we get for our money? I mean you and me, the regular taxpayer types. Not the Halliburton crowd. Just what the hell did we buy for all this?
30-year Bond Back?
What the heck? The 30year bond, declared dead some time back is now being resurrected by the Bush administration.
From our fractal whiz:
Bird Flu Watch
With swine flu running around China, the Bird Flu making headlines in Vietnam, we see that a variant of bird flu could come to the West via Russia, according to reports.
***Bottom Line*** The advantage of old-time square rigged sailing ships was that voyages were long enough, and conditions hard enough, so that people with "hot diseases" didn't survive the passage from one continent to another. T'aint so with modern jet travel, which is quick, but as we saw in Torontol Tuesday, has its own set of issues.
CAFTA Screw Job
The much feared Central America Free Trade Agreement was signed into law by George Jobjacker Bush, who apparently hasn't read predictions that it will slice wages here, send 3-million jobs overseas, and which screws up the freedom of choice in health supplements by "harmonizing" supplement laws with New World Order goals.
***Bottom Line*** Government doesn't work for voters any more. It works for corporate interests with deeper pockets and an Orwellian dream. You get all the freedom you want, within the very limited confines now being defined.
Bad pun intended as Adidas offers $3.8 billion for Reebok. One of these days, I will have to get out the SEC filings and see if I can figure out average employee costs once the upper crust is taken out.
***Bottom Line*** I'd sure like to know what clothing employees make in US dollars as a labeling disclosure on clothing and footwear.
Can't Buy Me Oil
China, awash in US money paid to it for clothing - and shoes - has decided to withdraw its bid to buy Unocal. This after the corporatists decided they wanted to keep an American corporate flag over that asset.
***Bottom Line*** I can almost hear China sing the Beatle's "Can't Buy Me Love"
So Much for Darwin
***Bottom Line*** Why bother with science?
Got a choice between broadband and lowest-common-denominator crap on TV? More people are choosing the mouse.
***Bottom Line*** TV is toast as soon as podcasts for video become widespread.
Claim: Incomes Up
But the personal savings rate falls to Zero! No doubt this will come as a big stimulus to the market, but it's a sad commentary on life in these times. Now the details: The Bureau of Economic Analysis in a report released this morning claimed that personal income and disposable personal income were both up 1/2 a percent last month:
But then we get into the field of revisions, which seems to be the new trend in economic statistics as we have noted before. In the modern equivalent of the shell game, we read paragraphs like these:
The report makes the astounding claim that personal income is up 6.56% from June 04 to June 05 and that disposable income is up 2.85%. As we mentioned at the top of the article - the personal saving rate as a percentage of disposable income - has fallen to zero! (buried down in Table 1)We all be workin' for the corporate machine, partner. Look for the market to rally early on this kind of news, oh yeah.
More American Hiroshima Worries
From reader Michael Matuszak's latest:
Saudi in the Balance
Whatever happens next in Saudi Arabia, it will definitely have an impact on the price of oil, and that in turn will help drive the financial markets, which are on the cusp of a break one way or the other. What we find interesting as the views of our colleagues. Some of them are saying that the royals in the kingdom have already assumed power long ago, and are carefully dealing out the favors and the remaining cash to keep things in order. Others, aren't so sure, and wonder if a new Attack on America would be coincidental to a major militant thrust within the kingdom aimed at destabilizing oil. As we have noted previously, the Saudis have talked a good oil game so far, but the actual oil coming out of the country has been static and static demand against a background of growing demand is a sure-fire recipe for price increases. And we're seeing what?
Truth and consequences in Iraq, which we note increased oil exports to 1.6 million barrels a day last month. B ut the same report says Iraq imported 3.25 million gallons a day to meet internal demand. So now let's run through the math, shall we? 3.25 million gallons a day is 77,380 barrels a day of imports, so the net export level was 1.522 million barrels per day. According to the US Energy Information Administration, Iraq was producing exports of 2.58 million barrels per day prior to the Bush War, which means the country is producing 59% of what it was producing before we started bombing.
Another clock that it ticking, and likely to go off before the bird flu crisis in the Iran nuclear showdown. The Iranians claim they have a national right to build enrichment operations for peaceful purposes while the neocons and other interests want assurances that only peaceful uses will be pursued - and that they figure can be done without enrichment.
We see that the pig-borne flu is still spreading in China, along with military controls on the movements of people and products and the adverse reaction that brings. Russia is working on a bird flu outbreak. This will cost Russian poultry growers about a billion. And another case of bird flu in a human has been reported in Vietnam. We no longer see this as an "If" question, so much as its a "When?" it will arrive in America.
Reports around the country are questioning the wisdom of the administration appointing John Bolton as the new ambassador to the UN. We have to wonder why the president didn't submit his name before CONgress left on vacation. On the other hand, we suspect the answer is because there would be too many embarrassing questions about his qualifications.
Drinking and Driving Stats Improve
Say what you will about the random breathalyzer checks, but the US highway death rate from drunk drivers continues to drop and that's a good thing. The way we figure it, if you want to have one too many, the place to do it is at home where you don't have to drive. In fact, not talking to anyone if you do is a good idea too.
Bots on Merklinger
If you have some time, you might get a kick out of listening to an interview with Cliff on the web bot project which was on Alex Merklingerís web radio show this past week.
If you want to hear it, point a windows media player at this link.
Once it starts, fast fwd your player to 34:30 or so where the interview gets underway.
American Hiroshima Week?
It's not a pleasant thought to contemplate, but late this week we cross a date which has been plastered all over the web - the August 6th anniversary of the dropping of the first nuclear weapons on Hiroshima, and a few days later on Nagasaki.
There are more than 5,000 references on the web to Osama bin Laden's threat of an "American Hiroshima" which some readers think would be carried out in daylight hours in order to get maximum possible news coverage. The idea is that nukes would be smuggled in from Mexico with the help of MS-13 drug lords, aided by the administration's lax border policy.
If you're planning to leave LA, Chicago, NYC and DC, some of the often mentioned likely targets, we'd remind you that because of the international dateline, you'd actually want to be gone Friday the 5th in the US, thanks to the international date line. 4:15 PM Friday evening in LA to be a bit more precise, figures one reader who suggests that Elaine and I be out of here.
King Fahd Dead
Keep an eye on the reports coming out of Saudi Arabia now that King Fahd has died this weekend. One thing is for sure, there is some concern in the oil community that his passing may pressure oil prices, which are already up to record highs this morning over $61 a barrel. Remember too that a recent TV movie about a global meltdown because of oil prices started with militants attack key oil infrastructure, something that seems more likely now in the Kingdom, although security forces are on extremely high alert. There are reports that Osama bin Laden has been directing some of the terrorist activities in Saudi lately. Very good backgrounder at the Israeli-connected web site www.debka.com this morning, too. And the Arab summit has been delayed as a result of Fahd's passing.
The hype before the opening was that the US Dow would open up - but with the futures showing a 4-point rise, we expect a reversal and decline as the reality of growing uncertainty globally spreads through speculator ranks. Either that or the fed will throw money at the problem as usual.
Who Needs Congress?
Darned nuisance, that what Congress must be - as George Bush goes the slimy route of a CONgressional recess appointment to install John Bolton in as UN Ambassador without concurrence. Obvious to us, Bolton would have had a very tough go in a more normal process. Embarrassing questions and all that. We have to wonder what Bolton's leverage is?
Swine Flu Outbreak
We notice that 34 people have been killed and the military is in place to contain the outbreak in Sichuan Province, China where 100 or so villages are involved.
Folks in the US are starting to wake up to the fact that government has rounded up the legal authority to force inoculations - even if a vaccine is unsafe (or tainted with allergy inducing mercury based preservatives).
While we await our expected $10 silver levels to show up, our friendly Gold Trader sent along an article that says yes, indeed, nano silver does fight infections. We figure as the public wakes up to this "natural" antibiotic cure, prices of silver will head upward. The Codex legislation buried in the CAFTA bill doesn't outlaw silver (thank God!).
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch
We noticed this weekend that George Bush is heading back to the ranch in Crawford (near Waco), which is about 125 miles from our place - and up wind, come to think of it. George Bush is apparently addicted to exercise like no other president in history, too. I wonder if someone can overdose on exercise?
Remember the story of a week or so back about Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan's wife, Andrea Mitchell of NBC being man-handled by Sudanese bodyguards? Now a week later, the vice president of the country is dead in a helicopter crash. Rioting has followed the reports of his death. Coincidence or MQ-1 Predator?
Speaking of Central Bankers
We notice that the "father of the Euro", Wim Duisenberg died this weekend - drown in his swimming pool after an unspecified cardiac problem.
Also on the Central Banker Watch: US Treasury Secretary John Snow is on a PR swing through Brazil - which has a left leaning government sympathetic to Venezuela's president Chavez.
Chinese Fear Deflation!
While the fed has been busy walking the tightrope between inflation and deflation, we spotted a piece from China's Xinhau News Agency this morning admitted that China is afraid of deflation later this year and they are using phrases like "over capacity" in reference to some sectors. We see the Chinese concern as something that every investor in America ought to be thinking about because should the housing bubble collapse, then deflation of Depression-era magnitude could unexpectedly sweep the West.
We expect whoever wins the presidential elections in the US in 2008 will be in a position of essentially "picking up after Hoover." That'd be after the Housing Bubble implodes. The Jas Jain piece out today argues that Housing Prices are facing an immediate problem of excess supply, if other deflationary pressures aren't enough.
Different topic in China: You might want to read how China has become a battle zone between Goggle and Microsoft, too, as both firms eye development projects there.
Iran Gets Tough
There are two angles on Iran that we're watching closely this week, because either one could be used as an excuse by Itchy Trigger Finger Dick Cheney as an excuse to launch a tactical nuclear strike. One is Iran's threat to restart uranium enrichment work. The other is just a passing mention in the web bot data streams about high quality US $100 counterfeit bills, reportedly from the northern Iran region.
While there is more rain in the forecast for the region where nearly 1,000 are now dead from flooding in the past week in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) we notice that India's version of Hollywood types are filing a public interest lawsuit against the government for its handling of the situation.
Conspiracies: The New Religion
Every so often I receive a paper or email from a friend that is so compelling it demands to be widely distributed. Here's a perfect example - an email from Dr. Pete Markiewicz explaining that "mysterious powers that be" might be a substitute for religion of all things. Check it out:
More Smart Readers
Try this one on for size:
Another reader, this one in Australia, notices that since the passage of CAFTA (and the coming "harmonizing" of over-the-counter drugs that may put much of the health food and supplement industry out of business at the behest of big pharmaceutical houses, there has been up upswing in stories attacking non-pharm health care:
While these observations are from Australia, keep your eyes and ears peeled for the same kind of content here in the US.
News from Elliott Wave International
Over on the www.peoplenomics.com site this week I went into a bit of a chart talk about whether Elliott rules could take inflation into account. I won't go into it here, except to note that on a constant dollar basis, we are still right at the inflection point.
Write when you get rich,
George Ure, The People's Economist
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