This economy is a what?
Replaying 1929: Business, Financial, and earth change news
Updated: Friday August 8, 2008 14:02 CDT
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Update: About that "October" Report...
Terror inside America within 90 days? The report on the HL Camp & Company (Program Trading Research) web site Thursday (which had been here) has disappeared... and it may have may have been based on a 2005 report that there was '90 days at most' before an attack-- attributed to Juval Aviv who was an Israeli Mossad agent. Snopes/legend entry.
Although the Aviv report may be spurious, reports out of Georgia and Pakistan are not. So it seems significant in that what happens in the roughly 4-5 months between now and Spring '09 could have an emotional release component of many times the magnitude of 9/11. For example, there's a report this week suggesting that the U.S. is beefing up forces in the region and may not appreciate the scope of the Iranian biowarfare capability.
I continue to surf the headlines out of Pakistan, as well, as a possible precursor to something large occurring here. It seems while the Pakistan army is off fighting militants in the northwest part of that country, the management layer of the Army is trying to figure out how to give president Musharraf the boot. Maybe I'm the only guy to remember that Pakistan has nukes? Have had since 1974. with a big spurt of testing firings in 1998 of anywhere from 4 KT on the low side to as much as 38 KT on the high.. As a point of reference, Hiroshima, Japan was officially 15 KT but may have pushed 20. Hard telling, as air bursts do more damage than low level.
Terrorism and the "Bounded Thinking" Problem
Reading all these reports, the rehashed Aviv report, or the news from Georgia, Pakistan, and elsewhere, there's a fine example of something called a 'lexical gap'. If you pop open your copy of "Linguistics, an Introduction" (Radford, Atkinson, Britain, Clahsen, and Spencer) to page 195, we can discover how the gaps in our thinking are the result of gaps in our language.
Since the coffee hasn't sunk in yet to the point where I feel like fighting with the scanner to put in their diagram, I'll just substitute X instead of Ф (one of Inspiration's few shortcomings is the slight linguistic mismatch with Microsoft's language conventions, where Microsoft uses the word 'symbol' referring to the extended ASCII instruction set, while Inspiration uses the word "symbol" to refer to a graphic element such as a text box, text bubble, or something along those lines. Just being aware of the definitional differences between software makers makes learning a new piece of software a snap.
A kid, brought up on Inspiration, might think a 'symbol' to be a textbox or text cloud, but in Microsoftese, these are "shapes', 'clipart', or 'SmartArt'. You see the problem, right? A user has to maintain their own lexicon for each software package. Most people aren't really conscious of how this works, but what I've observed (working on a MSFT Gold Partner ERP product at one point) is that ease of product learning is best facilitated by adhering strictly to the most common product lexicon available. In mass computing, that'd be the Microsoft lexicon.
Hint: If you want to learn Corel or Adobe product, it's all a 'snap' if you conscious figure out that terms like "auto-position", "snap-to-grid" and "align objects" can all do the same thing. I'm not especially 'smart' about learning dozens of applications fluently, however I do use a linguistic approach up front to try and discern how a need application works. Your computing lexicon depends which software product you've got loaded...
But let's not get off into the linguistic weeds except to note that someone might ask Inspiration's designers to handle use of symbols (as in extended ASCII characters) in their text boxes, which might be better called 'shapes' or 'graphics'. Now let's get out of the weeds and back on point...
Back to the Bounded Thinking problem: Here's how there's a 'missing word' in English which would tie together the broad range of terms in (151) above:
On the other hand, if we were to line up a bunch of nearly polar opposites to these words, we discover that a word like "denial" is a possible superordinate for the set:
I'm pointing out the subtle differences in language like this, so you can appreciate the problem of those defending the country who spend day and night analyzing 'intelligence' information, such as the reports of Juval Aviv's warning about a pending 'terrorism' event.
I'd be willing to be dollars to donuts (doughnuts, then) that nowhere in all the bazillions of dollars we have spent fighting terrorism (so far) has anyone stepped back and considered this "You are what youi think problem." If they had, I expect that there would be a lot of emphasis on development of new words/concepts because, as noted above, the lack of a superordinate for believe, think, hope, wish, know, and realize represents a strategic intelligence blind spot.
This is not to say that language use represents a new order of warfare. Quite the contrary, as Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW) 'inventor' William S. Lind notes, "From what I have seen thus far, honest attempts to discover a Fifth Generation suggest that their authors have not fully grasped the vast change embodied in the Fourth Generation." Exactly so.
What we're left pondering, as the Aviv report is considered, is how the lexical gap in America between those who are in 'denial' about certain uncomfortable facts and the other side, which lacks as clear a label, might in and of itself be exploited at a 4GW level by both enemies within - and from outside - the Nation.
When I start reading how DoD or DHS is getting serious about identifying lexical gaps, I'll sleep a lot better. Till then, I fear we've got a certain kind of blindness which only a few, such as Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper in Operation Millennium Challenge 2002, have effectively grasped.
But don't let this kind of thinking spoil your day - let's put that superordinate for which we do
have a word to work! (Denial! )
2009: Year of "Transformation"
I've been a fan of retired UW Business Prof. Emeritus Jack Lessinger for years (Schizomania, Penturbia, the Fifth Urban Migration) and all. Remembering that the web bot team has given 2009 the word "transformation" guess what the title of Lessinger's newest book is?
Inflated Household Debt
As promised, the Fed released its Consumer Debt report on Thursday - and according to the latest numbers, Americans are going into hock to the tune of 6.7% annually.
I thought this would be a difficult one for my deflationist pal Jas Jain to cope with, but no...
To be sure, there are still contradictory signs about which way the economy will break - either toward hyperinflation or massive deflation.
This morning, for example, we see that oil is still going down on a surprisingly strong dollar. And this is something that doesn't come as a surprise, since I'm fishing cheap silver options for December at the moment: "Gold declines to eight-week low in Asia on Dollar's strength" says Bloomberg.
If the PowersThatBe really had advance warning of a terrorist attack on America, you think the price of gold and silver might be driven down to give insiders a chance to make a bundle? What did ever happen with those put options that were put on in the days ahead of 9/11, anyway?
Landry: Down, then Up
If you think the market might take a nose-dive in here and then come roaring back - that's pretty much what Robin Landry's latest client letter gets to:
How to play this is a difficult decision (you're on your own here) because Landry's view and the linguistics for the fall, seem at odds if I read 'em right. But I sure wouldn't be long the market at the moment, if I were silly enough to be playing options in this climate.
One of the surest signs the rally is about over is when long-time bears start changing sides, like the venerable Joe Granville did this week.
Losing Their Fannie
What's a loss of $2.3 billion, anyway? Go what Mae....
Gold and Green
Police State Adventures
A curious Baltimore Sun story about the Mayor of Berwyn Heights (MD) having his home raided by police.
There may be a darker side to the Boone Pickens promotion of wind power lately as this article points out.
Coping: Where to Live?
A number of readers have been wondering where would be the best plac ein America to live, if you could live anywhere you wanted? The question comes up as people are getting fired, foreclosed, and a change to move comes up (like it or not in many cases). So readers have ideas like these...
Yeah, there are plenty of attempts, but my ISP is very secure compared to the run of the mill and even the FTP requires encryption (unlike many). And, worst case, keep www.independencejournal.com bookmarked because it mirrors this site every morning. It's in a different geographical location and thus, should be a robust back-up.
Back to the 'where to live' question...
And here's some good advice...
And if you live in the Windy City:
I don't think I have mentioned this for a while, but about 2-years back remember how I was agonizing over whether to pop $29K for a 16 acre parcel of land adjacent to our original 13 acres? Well, a little 12.81 acre piece came up for sale down the road from us about a mile. This is a triangle-shaped piece of land, some view, and county road on three sides of it.
So I called Southland Realty here in the Palestine area, which has the listing and said "How much?" Turns out the woman who owns it is asking $57,000!. Considering that we paid $29K for 16-acres two years ago, and ours has a creek on it, and we took $14K of timber off of it and still have lots of trees left, I'm feeling like a genius. Deflation? Where?
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The Trouble with UFO's
There has been a large and easily discernable movement by governments worldwide to slowly take the covers off the UFO story, which was jumped into public consciousness with two events of the late 1940's; the Kenneth Arnold sighting near Mount Rainier in Washington state on June 24, 1947, and by the purported discovery of an semi-intact UFO near Roswell, New Mexico July 7, 1947. What's curious to us this week is not the temporally adjacent 'discovery' of the transistor 5-months later on November 17, 1947, or the purportedly managed release of reverse-engineered technology as outlined in Philip Corso's book "The Day After Roswell" which ascribed lasers, integrated circuits, Kevlar (and much more) to a technology 'slow release' program, but rather the broader question of what would happen if truly revolutionary technology were unleashed on humans in a large-scale way. Stated in more clinical terms: How much technology can the world handle without inducing anarchy?
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"Live on $10,000" Updated
There's now a single-page website devoted to my little ebook "How to Live on $10,000 a year (or less) at www.liveontenthousand.com. Yep - still possible. I also took a bit of additional material that was pertinent from recent issues of Peoplenomics and included them. The whole thing runs about 65 pages, but it gives you a vision of how to not only live on the aforementioned dollar amount, but also how to migrate up the economic foodchain if you make a little more than that and do some active savings... Click here for the page with more details on it.
Thursday August 7, 2008
Word Quest: This is What?
As we continue our periodic efforts to report news in advance of actual events, with things like our pointing toward the period from roughly October 7, 7:10 AM UTC through about January of 2009 as a potentially gut-wrenching period, it is perhaps instructive to hold a little white board session on how language works, which will both help explain how the predictive work arises over at www.halfpasthuman.com, and then, in turn, help us define what was described in yesterday's column as the 'missing word' which is not due for mass consumption/MainStreamMedia use for another month to three because the word to describe the country's economic condition may not have been built yet.
So let's roll out the white board and put up our first drawing:
Words are slippery little critters because they are defined by - other words. As such, they each have 'aspects' (distinct features or elements in a problem), and attributes (property: a construct by which objects of individuals can be distinguished).
I don't want you dozing off this early in the day, so we'll plough ahead to the next drawing that 'plugs in' a common word and shows how aspects and attributes can work. Take the word "boat" for example:
What our drawing tells us is that "boat" has two 'aspects' - a verb use (as in boating) and a noun use as in sailboats, power boats, commercial, recreational, and blah, blah, blah.
Now an aside: What HPH (the time monks) do is scans a few bazillion internet discussion groups/forums and comes up with words that seem like they will 'go hot' at a particular time in the future based on emotional and carry value changes associated with particular words.
An example of how this works may be found as recently as Part IV of the current ALTA linguistic run which was posted for subscribers to their service last Saturday. It predicted (in part):
From an interpretation side, we go off scanning the headlines and sure enough, we've got two helicopter accidents making headlines:
And to our north in Canada (which is hard to distinguish from USA/pop because they are so close to the US in terms of language, style, media channels and such):
No claims are made about the efficiency of the predictive linguistics project as it is only for entertainment. Still, nevertheless, it does give occasional eerie forewarning of things to come which is why the October '08 to mid January '09 - 5-months where an emotional tone of what the first six days after 9/11 felt like runs for five months is taken seriously in house. You're welcome to laugh it off and we'll see come January how it all works out/ feels.
Now back to the task at hand this morning: What is the 'new word' that will come to describe our current socioeconomic predicament? Here's a list of some of the nominees:
Credit to Catherine Austin Fitts over at www.solari.com for calling it pirate-ization. She also figures military spending is what's holding up the Dollar and her reasoning is sound - just a little uncomfortable if you have a hard time thinking the unthinkable. Which is fine, because the corpgov choices inAs I've explained before, deep thinkers already know the Wars and the WOT is the Works Progress Administration for the new American century, so to speak.
So far, my personal favorites are "sociopathenomics" and "corposting", but that's just me. You're welcome to continue the quest for the "new word to fully describe the descending economy" Maybe a bottom-up approach, now that I've given you a quickie linguistics discussion to mull. Figure out all the attributes, then push that up to Aspects, and from that derive the new core context. Send along your drawings -- Inspiration 8 drawings are fine, which is what I use when mind-mapping new ideas.
Sociopathenomics sure feels close...
The Runs: Disappearing Links Department
Ah, how the cats and mice masquerade about: At least for now, the Google cache still shows that yes, Michelle Obama wife of the democorp front-runner is on the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations Chicago Chapter. The original page here went missing when it started showing up in blogs for some reason.
Gee, you don't think the "elections" are a corpgov put-on, do you? Besides, what's wrong with a bunch of One-Worlder's getting support from tax exempt foundations?
If you think it's not a coincidence that the HPH crew uses the CFR web site to 'seed' the linguistics work with the establishment (PTB) view, I wouldn't call you wrong...
War with Mexico?
Another case of the LIC (low intensity conflict) with Mexico going to nearly a flash point on Wednesday as a Border Patrol agent was held by gunpoint by Mexican Army troops who were inside the USA! Where the GOP outrage when it might be appropriate? Oh-oh, forgot, all those low-paid illegal workers for the check-writers behind corpgov...sorry....how rude of me.
As Goes Oil...
Back to around $120 and some are wondering is the slide over? As schizophrenic as markets are, $100 oil, $820 gold and $14.80 silver wouldn't even begin to surprise me. But, the problem with trying to play 'catch the bottom' is no one holds up a sign and says "OK! This is it!"
So, no, I am not unloading anything or buying anything - yet. Although I do have an order out to 'fish' a December commodity call on $20 silver just for fun, sport, and amusement. Don't be guided by this, however, because I've managed this year to turn $4K into $37K and into $0.4K, LOL. Still, it's cheaper than a trip to Las Vegas and there's nothing I can do in 'Vegas I can't do here...
The real direction of things should come into focus when the Consumer Debt report comes out from the "Fed" this afternoon. Even a small net decline would be very bad...but I'm not expecting it because there's still the economic stimulus being wired in. When that's all gone, and when the next wave of foreclosures starts (and let's not forget the credit card paper, too) that's when I'd be careful about sranding under windows on Wall Street. Not yet, though. Through September should be OK...
The economy is not doing very well, despite the money babes and the talking heads repeating the same-old. Here's why: Look at Wal-Mart today. They're reporting stores open a year or longer were up 3% on sales. While that sounds peachy and all, remember what inflation has been doing? A lot of people forget when reading puffy earnings reports to look at inflation-adjusted figures. So if someone says "Yippee! Sales up 3%!" I look them dead in the eye and point to the latest Consumer Price Index report (June 2008 is the most recent) and stoically point to the year-on-year CPI/inflation rate of 5.0% (all items, seasonally adjusted).
If sales are up 3% and prices are up 5%, I wonder aloud: "Did Wal-Mart just report a constant dollar decline of 2%?"
...and just wait a while longer...
In HPH modelspace it's around August 17th, but these things do drift around. Nevertheless, the foreplay has started with today's "Impeachment threat for Musharraf".
Licensing the Internet
Just like broadcasting was hijacked by the federal government via the 1934 Communications Act, here's a report that goes to the idea that we're just a cyber-9/11 away from licensing use of the internet. You don't really believe the Patriot Act was written in six days, do you? What's amazing is that so few people read it before voting on it! That's the part that sticks in my craw. Whatever my craw is...
Thursday's Critics, I
China rejects G.W.'s criticism on their record on human rights and restrictions on religion. If you were in a kitchen, this would be the pot calling the kettle something...Try and save heirloom farm seeds in Iraq and talk to me about human rights....We're installing corporate "seed licensing" and calling China out on rights issues?
Nukie Time Nigh
"Israel mulls military option for Iran nukes." One more more month of good mood in the USA to go and then....
CERNtain of Safety
Oh this is comforting: "Physicists allay fears of the End of the World" when CERN is lit off. The warm and fuzzy side of particle physics...
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Coping: Dumb Farmer Idea
A reader takes me to task for a remark in yesterday's column:
No, I was only referring to taking any ill-gotten gains away from the promoters of wars. I have no quarrel with the people of anywhere. Leadership? Well, that's a different case. Morality of forcing people in Iraq to buy corporate-terminator seeds so American shareholders can leach off them? Of course that's immoral. I was only referring to hot money.
Thursday's Critics, II
"Criticism, self-criticism" I think was how Chairman Mao called it in his Little Book. So how's this one?
We'll have to revisit this in January. Between now and Sept. 15th we're in a period of 'quiescence' (except for Pakistan in a couple of weeks). As I've said repeatedly, this is for entertainment although as best I can tell, the linguistics project has a far greater than 'chance' hit rate, although we've never done a formal study with N episodes/predictions tracked. This is a garage operation here and up at Cliff's shop. Still, I bet people who actually subscribe to Cliff's work would have a different view.
Glad my odd sense of humor is appreciated, though...
This one is more fun:
I really should answer this one, too, I suppose. Howzabout:
Jail The Good Guy?
We've talked in the past about how there are two kinds of government in the country: The one constituted by the Constitution both of the Nation and her many States. Then there's the administrative law system which, as a case in Idaho seems to suggest has run completely amuck... "Outrage in Idaho: Feds send man to prison for protecting town from flooding".
Where to Move Poll
A reader is thinking about moving:
Betas me! Heck, I stay away from Dallas and only go there to change planes, and then only if Houston's not doable. Reader question: If you could recommend a great part of the country to live in right now, where would that be?
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Around the Ranch: Chompers & Bits
The trip to the dentist was relatively uneventful and, as events turned out, not quite the kind of financial stress I had been braced for. While I will end up with a new crown, it was one that we'd already penciled in as needing to be redone - and because it is replacing an old amalgam buildup, it should reduce my personal mercury levels somewhat, although my occasional aphasia is likely due to too many topics in too small a filing cabinet, as much as anything else. Damages $1,002.
Although the price of gold was up a bit in the pre-open this morning, I think it may be a temporary (dental pun intended). Once word leaks out that my doc recommended a porcelain crown because it is opposing a tooth already harder than gold, I expect prices will recede.
Although slobbering a bit, I managed to make it by the Bistro for a chicken-fried steak for lunch - a fine meal, not without a few slobbers along the way thanks to the quick-acting xylocaine not leaving Dodge too fast. That was fine, because by 6 PM last night, even a couple of shots of compass juice wasn't dulling the pain. But, no root canal.
Seriously: I've been doing some parallel price channel plotting and I don't know as the precious metals will get much more precious than they presently are, until we get closer to whatever it is coming our way in early October. Then again, we weren't planning on selling anything, anyway.
Wednesday August 6, 2008
Changes On the Battlefield
There continues to be what I'd characterize as a global battle underway in which the decisive issue is whether humans will be able to hold on to the 'freedoms' they hold now, or whether these will be smothered by forces preaching corporatism and advocating socialism/communism in a new warm and fuzzier packaging.
Slowly, people are waking up to the idea that beyond the reach of the electorate a huge power grab and consolidation effort, promoted by the leaders of Mexico, the U.S., and Canada, who in turn are 'owned' by corporate interests, have been promoting the Security and Prosperity Partnership and it's main wealth redistribution scheme, the CANAMEX (often called the 'NAFTA Highway') highway, which will essentially merge our U.S.A. into Mexico and Canada without public accountability.
However, because there have been a few (and darned few at that) on MainStreamMedia who have 'called out' the backers of national disintegration (Lou Dobbs, for example) we read this morning in the Georgia Citizen that "Quietly, North American Community slips in.'
A key paragraph, from the article, if you please:
OK, that's the bad news - the SPP is being rebranded so that its promoters can make another run at subverting what the Framers were all about.
This is a dandy example not only of the shameless promotion of corporate interests, (offshoring at all costs, so long as it feeds profits) but also a fine example of how we are evolving two systems of law in America. Yes, I'm referring to the 'shadow government' that runs on 'regulations', 'rules', and 'administrative precedent'. Another way of saying laws beyond the people, versus the direct representation laws.
Madness on Bordering
Meantime, we read that the very folks who were anti-strong borders and foot-draggers (while they thought the public wasn't watching) have now turned 'true believers' and are racing to put up as much fence on the Mexico Bortder as they can.
As I have said many times before, I like Mexico and the Mexican people. What I don't like is Mexico sending 10-20% of its population north to work when their own country could use a little redevelopment, and setting up cross-border narco-traffic and smuggling as the lynchpin growth industry. OK, throw in sending American jobs south when we're sliding into recession, too, if you must.
With news that a Mexican-born killer was put to death here in Texas last night, we note there are 50 others on Death Row in the US. The border issue is not about race or national origin. It's fundamentally about lawlessness. Specifically, it's an example of what happens when well-intended but shallow-thinking officials don't enforce laws on the books about deportation and so forth. Then you get gangs like MS-13, now in Canada, and the lesser known 18.
Really makes you want to support the CFR's "American Community" concept doesn't it?
Without pointing to any one in particular, that brings up something: If I were in CONgress, I'd be asking which 'foundations' and tax-exempt organizations are enjoying IRS 501 (c) (3) tax exemption status while promoting anti-Constitutional objectives. Restricting gun rights, ending hard borders, and all the rest.
Let me think aloud here: If it's wrong for terrorists to attack our national borders, security and identity and steal our liberties, why should tax exempt groups with soft versions of the same objectives get a pass? Arguing for America's integration into a non-elected regional super-government doesn't square with the Constitution I read.
But then, come to think of it, it doesn't say anything about 'administrative law' and shadow governance, either.
Wake Up Movie
The shot of caffeine, one would hope, to wake up just a few more sleepy patriots will come on August 21st when a new movie is coming out: It's titled " I.O.U.S.A. " and it's about the country has been sold down the river by financial interests. If you have bandwidth, you can watch a trailer of it here.
There's a very good book in my library called "Commanding Heights: The battle for the world economy" (Yergin) - and it was turned into a three-part PBS series, which you can sample online here.
While it's very entertaining to see the market ally more than 300-points on a decision by the Fed to do nothing with interest rates, I expect that the predictive linguistics team is right (again, darn it) that we're in a period of quiescence which will lead into this fall's events that will set the country well on the path to financial ruin over the next several years.
As we approach the nominal incept date of October 7th, we're reminds that we may not see a big event that day, but rather, it will be the point which when we look back from the future perspective of mid 20098, we'll be able to say "Yeah, around the first week of October in 2008 is when things really started to fall apart.
Because we have an approximate ratio of economic, military, and terra' (earth entity in modelspace) to anticipate, we can watch the headlines with some anticipation against the larger strategic moves, such as the awakening of people via information channels (and that movie is an example) while the forces pushing the other way are rebranding their previous unacceptable attempts to usurp America's very independence in the name of the WOT but at a more fundamental level, in order to prop up corporate profitability by removing barriers to Mexico's lower paid workers on the one hand and getting access to Canada's vast natural resources on the other. What's not to love, right?
Tomorrow, the Banker-owned "Federal' Reserve Board will release the latest Consumer Debt figures. That should give us more indication whether their apparent target of a 4% inflation rate against 6% mortgages and 21% (and much higher) usurious interest rate scheme is being achieved.
Housing Fallout Continues
Weyerhaeuser swings over into the loss column due to the Housing Bubble bursting. Another 1,500 employees are likely to get the axe.
Freddie Mac los money in Q2. Gee, who would have thunk? And in the middle of a housing bubble collapse, too...shocking, just frigging shocking.
Word Up: Bubblism
You can make up your own label for those who would paper over corporate malfeasance by socializing loses in their highly leveraged get-rich-quick schemes while continuing to ensure privatization of their profits.
We don't have a word for that - yet - but linguistically it ought to appear in hindsight. If you have got a word that would fit, please send it along by clicking here because the language is short a key word here to facilitate the 'transformation' that's due in 2009 as more folks wake up in the debris of what's due this fall.
I know it's not socialism, capitalism, but I can't put my finger on the word yet - something the time monks predicted would arise about now> It's not meism, greedism. financialism, feudalism (although corporate-feudalism is close), but maybe something like bubblism whish is the best I have been able to come up with so far.
Spreading Your Wealth Around
Here's a gem of a headline: "Morgan Stanley to Help Treasury Study Housing Powers." Here's an ugly little concept for you: Do you think if the Treasury needs to have outside help to figure out what they can and can't do with their new Uber Powers in the Housing Bill that they maybe shouldn't have those powers? And then having a stalwart of the Street offer advice? OMG, this is sooo incestuous. "Say fox, how do you think we oughta manage them chickens in that there hen house?" Doesn't Treasury like get enough of our tax money already? They need to give it to an outside consulting banker company to help them figure out what there job is?
WFT? Where is CONgress? Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot. They abdicated after passing the Patriot Act.
Where's Our Damn Rebate?
The headline is pretty clear: "As Iraq Surplus Rises, little goes into rebuilding."
Here's a simple 'old farmer' idea: If Iraq piling up the dough by the billions, either they rebuild their country pronto or we - the American Taxpayers, oughta send them a bill for military services rendered.
No, it wouldn't pay for the Bush Wars, but it would at least put some of the windfall back in the taxpayer's pocket, give us more to support military families, and we're the ones who are paying for these wars several times over: Think about it: Once in direct income taxes which get turned around to defense contractors, and then as interest on excessive national debt to the banksters, and then a whole slew of bills being passed on to our grand kids by deferred interest on the national debt., We're not just screwing ourselves, we're screwing our heirs as well.
Send Iraq a bill! Anyone listening?
The White House is denying claims of a new book that key Iraq War documents were forged. Quick: Look surprised. Almost what, 5 ½ years into the mess their going to get candid? What do you have in your coffee? Quick: Those of us who said "Quagmire II!" are what? Right, maybe?
Good article in Time online today explaining "Why Iran won't budget on Nukes."
"Troops stage coup in Mauritania." Hmmm...hasn't the president there only been in power a year or less?" you're thinking. Very good. But the country has oil now, since offshore wells began producing in 2006 so the heavy hand of oil politics is almost certainly at play here. You can't really think otherwise do you? Sheesh!
Next Coup - Pakistan
We've got (if the old time machine crew has it right) about 2.2 to 2.5 weeks till we start seeing headlines about the coup/insurrection in Pakistan. Tensions are already building. How do we know this? Notice that president "Musharraf cancels visit to China." Clock's ticking there...
There, that's probably enough of the headlines to key your blood pressure high for another day...now go wage something productive...
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Coping: Car Talk
Ah! Here's what we need. Being able to talk to other cars around us on the highway...Those geniuses at the EU seem bound and determined to reinvent everything, including if my memory is not completely whacked here, the C.B. radio craze. But I'm sure they will dress it up as digital and have mute buttons and call that progress. Gag me. We called it the squelch button and the off button. Waste of technology, IMHO. But, the EU economic is just as lacking in new 'hot - gotta have it - high sizzle" new products as anywhere, and any port in a storm, eh?
Where's a good real estate/constitutional law practitioner? You know, it's just a form of 'double taxation' when you think about it: not only do you get to pay for things like a mortgage once, when you sign up to pay the rent on the money (interest) but then you get to pay a second time for the mortgage when the bank holding it fails or is bailed out. Is this a financial nightmare, for what?
Who is the Dopes?
The headline "Russians are 'systematically doping': Olympics drugs czar" caught my eye.
I'll wager that this gets a ton of MSM hype. But lookie here, try to remember it was only a couple of days back that the headline came out that "US Relay Team stripped of Sydney Gold Medal." And the key extract here:
Those that live in glass houses, maybe?
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Around the Ranch: I Bring You Higher Gold Prices
"How does this economic bozo figure he is bringing us higher gold prices?" you're wondering.
Simple: I'm going to the dentist today and before the doc even looks at the tooth I busted off chomping on Wintergreen LifeSavers, the price of gold going up $12.30 (as I checked it) means the Universe is readying me for a crown. Bet me?
Tuesday August 5, 2008
You may need to coffee for this one:
The market already up a couple of hundred points, poured gas on the fire once the decision came out...and seemed headed for a 300-point gain.
Our Favorite Circular Reference
Loser: Archer Daniels Midland profits down 61% in their Q4. Higher grain costs are figuring into this. Their revenue was way up, however, and that may turn greener in the future.
Winner: On the other hand, Proctor & Gamble saw their Q4 profits up 33%.
What everyone seems to be focusing on now is oil prices because its a double-edged sword that no one has a simple answer to.
First, we know that oil today has dropped a little under $120 a barrel, and that last week, there was talk from the sand box that oil shouldn't go too much lower.
What strikes me this morning is that it seems to me that the Middle East producers are trying to walk a fine line here between getting as much as they can for their oil on the one hand, while keeping prices in a range that won't encourage everyone on the planet to get serious about saving energy all at once.
For example, look at the headline " Kuwait eyes oil storage abroad: 'Iran could easily shut Hormuz' (Strait). That kind of talk would be supportive of prices. But on the conservation side, here's your headline asking "Are lower oil prices the death knell for cleantech energy?"
Just as Middle East producers are trying to make as much as they can without creating competition in the form of reduced consumption, so too, corporations in general play the same game: Sell goods for as large a profit as possible in order to have money leftover for shareholders and to invest in future products, plants and equipment.
Most of the time, the market does this pretty efficiently, although of late, you probably noticed that you're about tapped out. "Consumer spending takes a hit as prices rise" was in the PCE figures out yesterday.
String enough headlines together, in such a way as you can see how one price move begets another, and pretty quick you see the outline of the business cycle. But this one may be a little bit different than most in that we're still missing a key ingredient for future growth: a new 'must have' product with a ton of sizzle and a lot of Jones's appeal.
While it's nice to think that a breakthrough in renewable energy will pop in one of these days, the reality is that any new breakthrough technology could result in widespread unemployment and economic displacement.
What's in the running to drive a continuation of the economy seems ominously missing. The global economy can't be sustained by putting a bigger memory in your .MP3 playing toothbrush. But, a new front in the WOT would do nicely, u7nless of course, you happen to live in the target area or downwind of possible fallout.
Although we all might want to believe that a transition to alternate world's (Second Lives?) would relieve some of the economic pressures, the boundaries between the Real Life economy and the Second Life economy are not durable enough yet, despite headlines that the videogame industry is "An $18 Billion Entertainment Juggernaut".
Sure, it's encouraging to see that there's an electric car with a 110 mile range between charging and a price tag targeting $25,000 on the horizon, but that's not a big enough revolution to keep the global economy going.
The problem distills down to this: The world needs a new product of some kind that will be big enough to keep the economy going, yet at the same time not be so large in its impact as to displace lots of existing workers.
Electric cars sound great, but if seriously implemented, it would strain the electric grid and throw lots of people in service stations and petroleum distribution/refining out of work. Not to mention, screw up dreams of empire that are springing up in Dubai, which has its sights set on displacing Fleet Street and Wall Street.
this afternoon, the Fed will announce its latest on interest rates, but it's likely to be a non-event. I expect they will leave rates alone and will sound properly alarmist and offended by inflation developments.
But, secretly, I expect Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson will be doing 'high fives" because inflation is just what the economy needs at the moment to keep from auguring into the ground as deflationary pressures from the Housing Bubble collapse threaten to suck many more billions out of the economy.
The impact of the Housing Bubble just continue to spread, too, as it is starting to take its toll in the banking industry:
In a spreadsheet, all the calculations in the circular reference happen in a few ticks of the microprocessors clock. In real life, it's the business cycle. And as we watch developments ahead, reading up on that train wreck seems to make a fair bit of sense.
Them Winds: Message to Crawford?
Say, this is a weird thought, but wouldn't it be interesting - I mean to beyond a stretch of coincidence weird - if the center of tropical storm Edouard were to continue on its present trajectory and sit over the Texas White House at Crawford? I mean, if that happens, would there be some kind of hidden message in there, you think? We'll just bookmark a Crawford, Texas weather page...if I'm reading the track right....
This morning, the National Weather Service reports...
We will be hitting the link to the storm page fairly often today, no doubt.
Them Wars: Forgery Charged
A new book says the Hite House ordered a document forged in order to justify the invasion of Iraq. Oh...I mean liberation....
Them Cold Wars
Russia is making noises about stepping up its presence in Cuba. No doubt blowback from our putting missile systems into eastern Europe, you think?
The Runs: No Cheney?
Word that Dick Cheney is not attending the GOP convention comes as no surprise. It is, after all for Republicans. Not sure what this group in DC really is anymore. Hell, I'm so old I remember that time when Republicans were for a strong Constitution, gun rights, small central government, and modest taxes. Dreamland, huh?
Tomato growers seem to be lining up for compensation now that jalapeño not the nightshade varieties are thought guilty. You've been to "Tomatoes are Evil", right? Well, if tomatoes are evil, going to Congress makes sense in a twisted sort of way...
A reader sends this...
Yeah, I really think that's a typo....
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Coping: Radical Linguistics Experiment Follow-up
A number of readers wrote in to express thanks for Cliff of www.halfpasthuman.com sharing the 'radical linguistics experiment in yesterday's column. At the top of the pile was this from long-time friend Dr. Pete Markiewicz ( firstname.lastname@example.org ):
That brings up an interesting point. In Monday's column I mentioned that there was once a time when accounting was a profession with very limited creativity. Just follow the rules, and that's what -- while science fiction writing, on the other hand, that that was an area where unlimited creativity seemed possible.
Sadly, that has all changed since so much of the global economy is notional, a nice polite sounding word which linguistically seems pretty close to the term fictional.
Here lately on the Internet, the main definition for the term "notional" has become "The nominal value used to calculate swap payments". But, before the boys and girls down on the Street got creative in their quest to print money, notional meant: "Existing only as a concept".
The strikingly close definition of 'fictional' is this: "Invented, as opposed to real."
Now, I'm not here to split hairs, or anything, but when I line up the more original definition of 'notional' ("Existing only as a concept") with the definition of 'fictional' (Invented, as opposed to real") I fail to discern a substantive differential in meaning, although this brings us to a point of clarification about what's going on in financial markets globally.
That point is simply this: Financial big wigs have a propensity (maybe addiction is a better term) to take miniscule differences in linguistic concepts and use them as tools to obfuscate or 'hide in plain sight' the reality of a financial condition.
Alan Greenspan was endlessly amusing with his loose use of the term 'judgment' when this Fed was busily blowing up the Housing Bubble, just as Ben Bernanke's damage control project will no doubt resolve itself down to another linguistic absurdity trying to recover from Greenspan.
By the time we get down to the dregs of the second cup on this morning's report, the truth or 'essence' of the difference between science fiction writers and accountants is crystallized by reader JS in Europe:
Remind me to mail him an honorary degree from our "Ultimate Realty Graduate School of Finance."
Questions & Answers
Here's a good question:
A fine question indeed, and one that requires some rather precise thinking.
Let's begin with the generalization about "Government Bonds". These may be bonds of any branch of government. That means they could be bonds to pay for the construction of a local hospital, a new high school, or maybe some major bridges and road-building. In many states, bonds that fund projects for local and state government are treated as tax exempt, but you need to read either the fine print from your state or hire a good financial consultant to look into your personal situation.
Now here's where it gets a bit confusing. "Government bonds" is also used loosely (linguistically) to describe a class of U.S. Treasury securities. There's a difference between Treasury Bonds and notes. The Bonds generally have maturities of 10-years or longer. Hence, 10, 20, and 30-year obligations are bonds.
Working backwards, the intermediate term obligations of government are called "Notes" and these have maturities from one to as much as 10 years. Mnemonic: "10 and beyond is a bond." (How do you think I was able to finish school?)
Last, a Treasury "Bill" is an obligation with a maturity of less than one year. Easily remembered as "We all got bills..."
Now, although I generally like Vanguard, whether you put your money into a 'treasury money market fund' is a matter of individual preference. On the one hand, companies that provide money market services often let you write a 'check' against your account balance. Such funds typically make very studied decisions on what the best mix of maturities is to provide both high yield as well as necessary liquidity to the fund. In return, they charge (usually) modest fees.
On the other hand, you can buy Treasury instruments directly from the government with a TreasuryDirect account. See www.savingsbonds.gov.
To my way of thinking, it's a matter of what works for you. My personal preference is to deal directly with the government rather than have another layer between me and my dough.
The tradeoff is that instead of writing a check, I first have to go into Treasury Direct, unload money from there, then transfer it to my checking account, and then write a check against the funds once moved.
Like I said, it's a matter of individual preference and what's ultimately "right" may be largely unknowable, except to the degree one can know the future in advance. Convenience or one less layer...hmmmm...
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Around the Ranch: Mr. Ure's Summons
Monday was a little out of the ordinary, as I had received a summons for Jury Duty here in Anderson County, Texas. Being a responsible sort, I showed up, and although events didn't move at lightning speed, it was nevertheless an interesting day.
For one thing, I learned from listening to the Judge (Pam Foster Fletcher) that a large number of folks had been called - more than 300 in fact. Yet, despite the bold red type threatening a fine (or worse) for failure to show up, only 93 of us actually showed. The Judge, noting the poor show rate, told us that those who didn't appear as summoned would be getting $250 fines mailed out to them; such is the penalty for failure to participate when called round these parts.
In all, it was a very satisfactory process: People who knew the defendant could opt out if they had preconceived ideas about guilt or innocence, and people of conscience could decline if they were either not open to the full range of penalties available - which in this case was anything from 2-years probation to 99 years as a guest of the state - or if they felt they needed to be absolutely 100% sure of the facts, before being able to render a guilty verdict.
The one thing that struck me was a comment by the assistant D.A. which went to the idea that "Next to service for Country in war time, the next most valuable thing a citizen can do is report for jury duty when called.
I've covered a ton of trials as a reporter, but that was years
back, and this is the first time since moving to Texas in '03
that I've actually been in the County when called. It's
one thing to watch the theatrics of 'the system' on television
but quite another to see a real human sitting at the defense
table with the outcome of the rest of their life potentially
hanging on how you'd 'make the call', if the parallel to an
umpire in baseball can be forgiven.
In the end, I was not one of the 13 selected, but it was an encouraging day. Despite being 'unplugged' for 7-hours (I was going through email and IM withdrawal by lunchtime) it reassured me that the system set out by the Framers works just fine. It's the modifications since that worry me, and the growing number of ways to 'short circuit' the Judicial System with Executive Orders and such that are bothersome.
Tempting as it was to opt out of the process when the jury pool was asked "Is there anyone here who is not of sound mind who wishes to opt out?" I remains seated. We'll just keep the answer to that one between us.
Monday August 4, 2008
Monday: Same Rock, Same Hard Spot
As Monday creeps toward the horizon, I'm struck by the amazing ability of the economic system to remain indecisive in the face mountains of data suggesting that investors should be fleeing paper-based assets and worry about what's real; metal, food, water, and a save place of refuge from the coming economic storms. And even more importantly, getting about working directly on our individual futures as explained in an 'application note' from the time monks.
To be sure, it's a bit like the old farmer (played by me) knowing that when the 'leaves turn their backs to the wind, a change in weather is coming'. Makes about no sense to a city-slicker, but then again, lots of the new patterns of money appear to be lost on the thick-headed who've been bullied into thinking 'buy and hold' is the key to fortunes.
Our first data point ought to be what I call the Aggregate Index chart, which you can see here. The purpose of this chart is to sum up the Dow, the NASDAQ Composite and the S&P, and present them as a single number. Why? Because while it may be possible for an interested party (or three) to use arbitrage to try and spin the market, the larger truth seems to me more likely to be shown when a very broad index is used. 'Arb'ing' comes out of the noise and what we see since the index decisively broke through the previous upward channel in (take your pick here) either early January or early March, should have sent billions looking for either safety or short positions.
It doesn't seem to have done that.
In the meantime, the Federal Reserve, which has been accepting everyone's dirty laundry as 'security' down on Wall Street, meets this week, but the consensus seems to be that now change in interest rates is likely.
Still, even the half-alert investor would begin to notice, as we have, that a pattern of Friday announcements of bank failures seems to be the order of things now over at the FDIC, which announced the shot-gun marriage of First Priority into SunTrust late Friday.
Although the FDIC has reportedly only tapped about 10% of its reserves in the current banking crisis, I expect over the coming few years that the 90% remaining will be tapped, and more funding sought, because as I see it, the problems won't go politely away. In fact, if anything, I expect the incumbent/oil/bubble/republicorp party has already pulled out all the stops in order to give the feeble McCain candidacy a prayer. I can hardly wait till the post-election revelations of how band things really are.
You can already see what horrible condition the nation's banks are in if you have time to do a little research over at the St. Louis Fed web site. They have a chart which is titled "Non-borrowed reserves of Depository Institutions" and as you can see, it looks like someone has driven a train over a cliff: (link to source)
In case you were sleeping through that Econ class, the idea with a fractional reserve financial system is that banks and depository institutions have reserves.
But what the chart clearly informs us is that not only are the nation's banking reserves gone, but they are now funding their day-to-day operations on....tax dollars and printer's ink!
As the Fed meets this week, about the best that can be hoped for will be an inscrutable Fed Statement which will reassure people that "business is sound" and all that easy money being dispensed is designed not only to help out real estate values in the weekend retreats of the banksters, but also it will protect your retirement account.
The Fed as I see it is in the same position they've been in: victims of excesses created, in part, by the easy-money and lack of oversight that built the Housing Bubble on the still-smoldering ruins of the Internet Bubble, using an economy artificially propped up by war spending.
Yup, geniuses run the country, no two ways about it. Now let's zoom in on today a bit...
Newest from the government should be no surprise:
I'd just love to see how these guys worked through the calcs on on the negative savings that would come from an honest accounting of the impact of decrease home valuations, but I'm not holding my breath because it wouldn't be good.
This is all so deliciously insane: We lose how many umpteen billions in 401(k) and real estate equity, and see banks falling left and right, and yet as a national we still claim a positive savings rate? LOl, OMG who are we kidding? Maybe I can get some nitrous from that whipping cream can, too... "Special accounting rules' no doubt - sort of like banks borrowing all their assets and then some?
Pop Quiz: Which profession requires more creativity: Accounting or writing science fiction?
Meantime, I'll just say so much for any dreams of a consumer-led resurgence. Wonder how much of the 'increase' was due to the tax 'rebate' checks, huh? Remember, the numbers on how savings was calculated was already jiggered a year or so back because the personal savings rate was so negative.
Layoffs planned in July were up 26 percent compared with June says a new report out today. I wouldn't complain too much about getting up to go to work today, eh?
Extremes of weather, that is: Yesterday, we had 106.8 degrees here at our ranch in East Texas, only to see 35-40 MPH winds and a 22 degrees temperature drop in late afternoon. Up in 'D' the temp hit a record 107. But it doesn't stop there: We've got problems here in the Republic with wild fires, drought, and parasites, too.
And it doesn't stop there. A new tropical depression may be spinning up toward hurricane strength and heading into the Houston region over the next day or two.
The current three-day track puts the storm pretty darn close to Crawford, incidentally. Say, you don't think there's a message from Universe in there somewhere, do you?
Let the "Games" Begin...
OK, the Olympics get underway. While watching a few of the events is fun, I put most of it in the 'bread and circuses' file. The games are facing a wide range of weather, including perhaps a typhoon. The Olympics Committee is feeling some heat about their position on China censoring the internet, but our readers in China report UrbanSurvival is still available in Beijing.
Meantime, China is describing a violent attack on police in Xinjiang province as a 'terrorist plot'. 16 dead in the attack - and Muslim extremists are blamed.
Face Time & Laptops
Pennsylvania lawmakers are demanding the governor and PENNDOT stop REalID biometric implementation. (video). Remind me to trademark & copyright my face and fingerprints so any unauthorized use is subject to infringement suit for unauthorized use.
But it gets even better: The Department of Homeland Security is now claiming a 'right' to seize the laptop of any American returning from outside the US, take it away from you, and share its contents with anyone in the federal family,
Say, answer me this: What ever happened to the provisions of the Constitution that once upon a time prevented unauthorized search and seizure? Or, how can the oil/war/republicorp party really think Americans would be dumb enough to elect Rights trashers for another four years? Sadly, they will likely get away with it due to ignorance and apathy...as we swing from innocent till proven guilty to guilty until proven innocent...
Speaking of Gulags and such, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has died at age 89. Author of Gulag Archipelago.
Most folks don't appreciate freedom until they don't have it and it's too late.
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One of the fallouts to the predictive linguistics work over at www.halfpasthuman.com has been some new and refreshing insights into how the future 'comes about'. And with the insight comes a possible technique to mold your own future...
It may take a little work to get comfortable with the remembering your past in the future, but if even somewhat successful, it's could be a very powerful tool for self development/improvement.
Deflation to Come
I'm still pondering my 'split personality' portfolio. It's the concept of putting half of my resources into things and hard assets (gold and silver) on the one hand, and the other half into value retaining instruments such as government bonds, on the other. The economic world seems schizophrenic enough, so why not balance or reflect that in portfolio deisgn?
A note from Gary Lammert, ( http://www.economicfractalist.com ) seems to bolster the deflationist's view:
And to be sure, that in turn will have massive social fall out as people realize that entitlements, which are just another form of wealth transfer, break down under systemic stress.
Despite all the machinations of the Fed in holding off the deflationary long-term workout of a periodic long wave economic decline, we seem to be arriving at what might best be described as the "quick sand" workout. In other words, while terrorism and a Housing Bubble may have worked the first time, another 'terror' and mini-bubble will likely loose their impact when tried the second, and subsequently, such that we could have a number of years as a slide into a Greater Depression takes hold.
The schizophrenic portfolio would take our seven years of gains in hard assets and move up to 50% into deflation resistant positions, and probably more over time, as the deflationary outcome comes into long-term play. More on this for subscribers to Peoplenomics next week.
Meantime, for people not cognizant of the macro change, it will seem like a long sideways to down trading period. "The Grind" down of 401(k) assets as people flail about trying to find the 'winning trade'. It's a fool's game, of course, because there is likely no winning trade out there.
What's really going on is likely the macro rollover from a long term inflation to a long term deflationary period which we'd expect to see on the horizon as the Long Wave Winter arrives.
Come on by Thursday morning because I've asked both Jas Jain and Gary Lammert to make some comments on the Fed's (misnamed) Consumer Credit Report which is due out Wednesday afternoon. Jas has been steadfastly pointing out that 'It's the debt, stupid!" and as for Consumer debt, so goes the economy and the fate of inflation/deflation.
I don't doubt that both are right, it's just a matter of timing the move. But then, isn't it always?
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Before the chart, a little background:
Once upon a time, a long while ago, I observed during my quest for 'truth' in economics, that the PowersThatBe, the talking heads on the teeve, and the other information sources that actively engage in the programming of humans not to think, had conveniently swept several trillions of dollars that disappeared in the Internet Bubble's bursting (since spring 2000) under the rug. Surely, it wasn't unnoticed by the thousands of people who called brokers and said "Where is my money?" "Gone, but hang in there as you're a long term investor!" was about all they heard back.
But, the truth of the matter is that this chart shows what your account would look like if you have taken a few thousand dollars and invested equal amounts in the Dow, the S&P 500, and the NASDAQ Composite in the waning days of 1999. It's not a very pretty picture, and it sort of gives away the other side of the story. You know, the one that no one has an interest in telling, because it's a truth which shows the amazing coincidence of the timing of 9/11, the disappearance of naked shorting evidence and all, along with the impact of The Wars which have managed to keep the economy out of an earlier depression than the one expected by me by late 2008.
No, it's not a perfect replay of 1929, but history doesn't repeat exactly, it only rhymes. So think of this as the rhymes and the crimes chart:
Write when you get rich,
George Ure, The People's Economist
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