A One Man Economic Daily Newspaper about the Second Depression in near real-time...
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Saturday July 16, 2011 05:03AM CDT New Here? Visit our FAQ
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This being the weekend, this morning's report is available to www.peoplenomics.com subscribers ($40/year, details here). The Saturday reports are generally pretty much like the week day reports on UrbanSurvival while the Sunday reports tend to single subject, more in depth, such as the "Stateware" piece I'm working on for tomorrow.
Ya'll come on back Monday, for another free update here. And if "Ya'll" offends, consider it southern sailor slang for yawl, which is a sailboat with the mizzenmast aft of the rudder post, as opposed to a ketch, which has the mizzen f'wd of the rudderpost. Language is more precise than most people exercise, typos here notwithstanding.
Hey, wait...did I just get off point? Where were we...oh, yeah...See you Monday...
Where'd the "Trust" Go?
We'll get to this morning's CPI report in a sec, but first thing out of the box this morning you might want to click over to the Forbes story "What Happened to the $2.6 Trillion Social Security Trust Fund?"
I think there's a lesson in here about "who we can trust" but I'll leave it to you to connect those dots.
Peoplenomics this weekend: Stateware - how to replace the whole frigging politician class with online software.
Not that this is going to do anything other than confirm your suspicions based on how money's been flowing out of your checkbook lately, but here's the word all nice and 'offishul' like:
Just for the heck of it, I looked at the Triple A fuel gauge report and they're showing that a year ago gasoline was going for $2.718 a gallon while it's presently going for $3.667.
Now, to my calculator's way of doing things, that's an increase of 34.92 percent. The CPI figures for energy are there if you want to look...up 35.6%
in the government report, which sort of leads me to thinking that with the next monthly report - if prices stay tame here - we might see another tick or two down in the CPI.
Food prices (away from home) are up 4.7% and this generally means to me the economy is improving and that food purveyors are finding a little pricing power, at least amongst those people who still have jobs and can afford to eat out.
Fall on Sword Dept.
Seems Rebekah Brooks is out of News Corp...and with the FBI now sniffing around 9-11 victim concerns, question is whether the editorial policy of a certain major MSM player with teevee and papers might turn a little more centrist.
Going into an election period, this certainly appears to give someone a lot of leverage, eh?
Personally, been impressed with the interviews with Rupe's boy/heir apparent James in all this. Although it might be harsh to suggest dad could learn something from son...upcoming parliament testimony from both may sort it out.
Even more interesting is how one newspaper (the Guardian) is outing a News paper (the Sun). Lemme see, the chain of events here is becoming a bit longish with UrbanSurvival pointing to the Reuters report which is pointing to the Guardian newspaper which is pointing at the Sun News Corp paper.
But what do I know? I was stuck on The Sun's Page 3...
A reader caught a Bill Moyers interview on the tube the other night and he reportedly used the reference 'minions' of the Rupester. Now that word sure sounds familiar, doesn't it?
Say, here's something encouraging - looks like the state of Minnesota, which was in a way 'closed' due to a budget impasse may be about to get solved with word of a budget deal being cut.
This may sound like a radical thought here (moi?) but check it out: I think there's an even-money chance the budget deal got worked out by the political types because the good citizens of Minnesota were figuring out that we have waaaay too much government since computers and networks are all about flattening the org chart and people might have found a perfectly acceptable workaround.
I still think it's a trillion dollar idea to invent stateware. A software package that allows everyone in a state to instantly give input of public policy issues, auto write laws, and so forth, such that government by, for, and of the people don't need no stinkin' politician class anymore.
All comes down to a "If they get along OK without us, how we ever gonna get 'em back in the corral? Even sheep bite, don't they?
Son of Gun
Remember the big dust-up over the government backing arms to drug runners along the Tex-NM-AZ-CA border?
Well, we may have a rhyme going on with a gun deal in Florida starting to come to like. What is going on with ATF?
Dialectic approach to gun control? Give enough baddies guns, increasing
violence, and then the public backlash would be to insist on some kind of
disarmament program? Is that the F/U'd plan? Gag me...looks like a
design pattern, though, don't it?
Desperate Times, Desperate Governments
Meantime, CBS 2 in NYC reports "NYC fines man $2,000 for not watering his (bee) hive..."
I'm telling you, open source stateware which would replace the politician layer would be a great move.. more in this weekend's Peoplenomics report.
Nailing Stuff Down
Leave it to them crafty Krauts: Germany is starting "to use chemical markers to combat rail theft."
Meantime, I've made a note NOT to put up copper gutters around the ranch. Seems people are stealing copper gutters off houses now...
And you're trying to tell me this is not a Depression? WTF...
(more after this...)
Coping: With Brown Nose Friday
Friday's are sometimes horrible in today's economy, because many companies do their layoff's on Friday. This being one of them, a couple of notes on how to hold onto a job might be in order. Something we chat about every couple of years with the idea of helping you 'hang in there..."
Split personalities, I've come to appreciate, are a lot more common than most folks believe, but it's only a problem some of the time. The rest of the time, split personality is just something we live with.
For example, I've observed that most politicians are beset with 'split personalities.' They say one thing on the campaign trail, with all the sincerity of a cocker spaniel puppy. Once elected, however, Alzheimer's appears, or a kind of political Tourette's syndrome, and they have no problem espousing (and voting for) a precisely opposite view. Damnedest thing...
But it's not like politicians are the sole victims of this particular process; management consultants, lawyers, and even medical types are given to it, now and again, with one of the most obvious vectors of transmission of the disease being financial. I'm tested this one: For enough money, most lawyers can persuasively argue both sides of the same situation. Right and wrong fade compared to retainer size, but this is not to say it's all bad; it's just the way things are.
One of the things I picked up at the National Society of Newspaper Columnists hoedown at Motown, was that when it comes to writing, there are two major types: Plungers, who write a story to discover what it is that they're writing, and Planners, who outline incessantly - which make up about 2/3'rd's of the writing population.
This duality of problem-solving reaches into everyone's life, to one degree, or another: One day I'm spending hours making time management lists and rearranging, then reorganizing them just so. Next day, with a perfectly organized list, I fall off the wagon and just go work on the current "sparklie", whatever it happens to be.
Clinically, this is probably not schizophrenia, since it's pervasive and widespread. Instead, it's just part of the topology of intelligence, which is not a simple Bell Curve, as some believe. That Bell Curve is actually a three-dimensional array. Someone can be IQ 145 in music, 100 in English use, and down around room temperature when it comes to personal hygiene, cooking, or something else.
Problem with IQ plots is that they measure a composite of limited dimensionality. Take for example, this fine line from long dead poet dude Percy Shelly's Hymn to Apollo:
Question is this: If someone in today's society were to craft such a viewpoint and present it (or a variant) would they be honored or sent off to counseling, since the view that each of us is a pair of 'God's eyes' beholding the marvelousness of Life, is certainly less than universal.
Which gets me back to work styles, thinking styles, and the nature of how we process Life before us.
At the moment, I'm in one of my "punch list modes." Which means, simply, that when presented with a problem this week, my inclination is to solve it. Some examples:
In other words, I was in the plunger mode yesterday, and this morning I'm still in it, which usually means lots and lots of stuff gets done. So much so that I can see wood on part of my desk again.
Other times, like last week, I was mired down in "work one hour on each project" mode. Problem with this is that it doesn't get much accomplished. Projects advance, but it's like the Big Wheel Mud Run - lots of noise and action, but messy and not very satisfying.
And I think that's just something I wanted to share with you as a step along the road of Life: Sometimes its OK to plunge while other times, it's OK to plan and plot.
As long as your planning doesn't before more important than the outcome you're after, or for plungers, you at least have some general goal in mind, there's no harm, so long as you get to the goal of projects now and again.
The point in job retention is what? Frederick Winslow Taylor made a real name for himself as the father of time & motion studies as an approach embodied in the theory of Scientific Management, which holds generally that there is "One best way" to do most anything.
It's a grand theory in the mind-numbing production line environment, but when it comes to Life, it's hokum, pure and simple.
Instead, I've been finding - the older I get - that instead of One Best Way, there are really about four Best Ways:
Something to think about next time some from HR shows up and wants to start creating a paper trail in order to lay you off: Management theory is just what it says: A theory.
By plunging, I'm presently in "excellent snake killer" mode (every problem in Life is like a snake, deserving to be killed as quickly as possible, right?). But it's closely related to "whatever works" and ultimately, the arbiter is what's your personal accomplishment rate.
Only thing to keep in mind, however, is your metrics and management's can be totally different. And, like IQ testing...depends on which part of the topology you're measuring and what part management is measuring.
Since we know "What gets measured, gets done" the easiest way to be the last man (or woman) left standing in a company is to figure out the management metric and beat everyone else at it.
If management hasn't put forth the metrics by which employees are judged, you might want to ask. As bad as some jobs are, any job is better than no job in today's dog-eat-dog climate and the surety of unemployment comp may have to go the way of Social Security.
Done proactively, that is, aligning of your personal metrics with management's metrics, may involve some additional effort, particularly because management generally has two sets of metrics. One is the "normal times political metrics" which are the ones the person immediately above you plays with, but a level up from here you get into "organizational metrics" which is how many hiring and firing decisions are made (by the person above you) when the person above them comes in and says "Wack 27 employees and do it now! Corporate has just cut our budget!"
Compliance with metrics, no matter how idiotic, is often times the route us high-level functioning sociopaths choose to take, since a bad job with good pay is usually better than a great job with no pay.
So, for the 617 American's left with jobs, our sincere advice, or nearly so, is to talk with your immediate supervisor on Friday and have the "How's my work and what's your metric?" discussion just before the weekend.
Study after study in radio and television commercial recall point to people remembering the last thing they heard. So if your boss goes home with good thoughts about you this weekend, and every weekend hence, the odds of you being fired ought to decrease, particularly if the alignment in job performance is several layers up the food chain.
A management consult (I are one) might call this a great way to communicate company goals and performance expectations at a time of high organization-level stress due to the highly competitive marketplace presented by another economics downturn.
'Round here, we'll just call it Brown Nose Friday.
Peoplenomics Report Feedback
Since I won't be going up to Ohio to pick up my plane this weekend, there will be a Peoplenomics report this week...and should be pretty good. It'll be one of our periodic 'chart talks' where we try to look ahead to where the market is going. And, soon as we're done with that, we'll run out and play in traffic....
But seriously, (ahem...) yesterday's discussion of the "America's Broken Conveyor Belt" got this dandy note back from the fellow up in Idaho who posed the question in the first place...
By Jove, I think you've got it! Except the scolding part...nope, I try not to do too much of that. We're all on this rock together and despite the efforts of some of the nation's mainstream media, the political party 'divide and conquer' approach, we can still act as United States and try to coldly assess reality around us, no matter how uncomfortable that may seem at times.
I talked to Howard (Hill) for only a couple of moments yesterday, and he suggested when you read his example, whgich puts some numbers to who made how much, look at how much money the family founders of ABC company took out when the company was acquired and then pencil what the vulture/venture dudes took out.
From Howard's piece where the company is bought out part is key:
But look how the vultures made out The LBO (leveraged buy out) arranger got a $150 million fee and then...
Three generations of family get $1 billion, but the venture group got $150 million in initial fees, $400 million in equity partner distributions for $550 million. But did you notice who did all the work over the years?
America's conveyor belt is broken because we're now at a place where there has been so much concentration of wealth that a couple of MBA's, a lawyer and a bond artists for a couple of months worth of work can pull out north of a half billion dollars in this kind of deal structure. Not terribly hard work, either, since lawyering and structured finance, once done, is a lot like computer C code libraries: Search & replace in word and the deal's done.
You talk about leverage? The deal-makers leverage other deals for language, use other people's money to fund the deal and then make huge takeouts.
The sacrifices of the early owners - the going without meals, skipping check to make things work? All nice and patriot and entrepreneurial and all, but when it comes down to it, the four to eight players in structured finance who never knew a damn thing about running the company, had the highest return of all when considered from a labor in vs. dollars out basis.
Not going to offer an opinion about 'what's right' since that would be pointless. But, it is worth mentioning what is because so few people bother to try and understand where the concentration of wealth is coming from.
It's the arguing the deal points of economics like this, a kind of lifting the dirty skirt of capitalism that our book is all about.
And since I don't need to run up to Ohio for a couple of weeks to get the plane, I'll be plunging back into getting more done on it this weekend.
What began as a simple argument over economic long wave implications has turned into something approaching manifesto. We disagree on many points, but the generalization of "the broken conveyor belt problem" is about as useful a thought tool as I've been able to come up with to lay out context and framing of the very difficult economic issues before us.
Meaningful Coincidences Dept.
Yep, 13 is a big number around here...as this reader note explains:
Plane and Simple
A couple of readers asked me "Why are you buying a plane and why now?"
Answer is simple: It's a way of converting paper US dollars into a physical, tangible item. If inflation breaks to the upside, the plane is a hard good which should keep up to some extent. And in deflation, it still is a value-holder which doesn't depend on paper and might be traded for something of need later.
So, keeping cash to a minimum is one reason. The other is fun factor. Got a lot more I could be doing if I could leverage my time a little better, and this is surely one way to do that...gives us an ability to get out, talk to people face to face and so forth.
Plus, a real incentive to keep in decent shape...
If the plane closes today, we'd pick it up in 13 days on the 28th....hmmm...
Here - have CIGARS: Controls, instruments, gas, attitude, engine run-up, and safety check: We're taking off into options expiration Friday. More coffee? Sure you seat belt is fastened?
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While contemplating the End of Civilization (see last week's Peoplenomics here) the thought occurred to me that there is some risk in being totally committed to a single point on planet Earth because there are just so many wild-cards that could influence whether the choice of place will turn out to be a good one. What if it changes? That means a lot of different things, depending on who you talk to, but surely sustainable, defensible, hydrated, stocked, well communicated, and properly peopled are thoughts that come to mind. Unfortunately, the recent spew of events seems to be tossing up warnings which must be considered: American Monsoons, Fukushima in Nebraska, increased tectonic activity - the whole lot of it. So, what's a rational approach? Maybe nomadic thinking as a back up plan...
Cookies Are Dangerous
If your computer runs slowly, you may have a problem with cookies. These little code snippets are how some websites (and spyware) recognize you, track your movement on the web and so forth. Here lately, as new class of super cookies has been evolved by the admen (and worse) that are resistant to normal cookie deletions through your browser's interface. Flash cookies, persistent cookies, and super cookies...all easily managed with the Maxa Research Cookie Manager.
Take it for a test drive by clicking here - and it you like it, activation is easily done. If you're a heavy web user (who ain't?) you may find like I do that you've accumulating a hundred or more cookies per day. Only a handful need to be white-listed, like your brokerage account or your bank. The rest? Software designed to spy on you that robs you of computer performance. Been using it for several years and pleased as the Dickens with it.
The "Do Drop Inn"
Amazing gardens in about 2 square feet of floor space: www.mygroponics.com
Post your weird dreams to help our research along:
"Live on $10,000" A Year
Having a hard time making ends meet? (Like who isn't, right?) A good starting point to better match up income with outgo is our $10 e-book "How to Live on $10,000 a Year...or less!"
It's an automatic download. It's written in an information dense style: The whole thing runs about 65 pages, but it gives you a vision of how to not only live on the cheap, but also how to migrate up the economic foodchain if you have a little hustle left. A bonus section called "How to Build Anything" should instill confidence if you've never taken on a home improvement/home creation project before, too..... Click here for the index and details.
Pass It On
Please pass along word of this site to your friends by simply clicking here to send 'em a short email. - Thanks!
Thursday July 14, 2011
The president is making a big gamble on budget talks: walking out of a key meeting on the budget. But whether it will pay off, remains to be seen. We're getting uncomfortably close to the predictive linguistics shift in the tone of things which is due about tomorrow (15th).
Still, it's not like the whole house of cards is coming down. For example a report out this morning says the foreclosure rate has come way down this year.
And, the weekly unemployment number was down a tad:
About here, you'll want to put on galoshes (hip boots maybe), since the next stop is at the economic numbers kiosk which has been going nuts this morning.
Producer Price Index:
With finished goods up 7% year on year, but crude goods down 6/10th's of one percent in the same period, our best advice is to give up dreaming of sugarplum fairies.
Dream about being a middle man, instead.
Still, retail numbers this morning from the Census folks are pretty much flat:
While the numbers seem to be pretty good, don't forget that the Fed has been stepping on the gas pretty hard with M1 going up at better than 12% over the past year, so when something looks like total retail is up 8%, that's dollars, and how much of that is actually an increase in unit sales figures is a familiar 'old friend' around here. The split is not readily apparent.
Tomorrow's dose of numeric madness will include the CPI and then tomorrow afternoon, the Fed industrial capacity and production. No, they don't include production in India, for surely if they did, we'd all be dancing in the statistical streets.
Except maybe for the Grinch's over at Moody's, which is eyeing US debt for a possible downgrade.
March of the Nanny State
Say, here's a reason, as if they need another, which could be seized on by corpgov as a reason to tear down free wheeling social media sites: Flash mobs in Spain are preventing foreclosures.
Think about it: Easier to turn off social media than fix the economy, right? Especially if the MSM acts as earplugs so as not to hear them jack boots clicking...
Last time I checked, Minnesota was still closed down, as states and cities go through economic distress.
In Washington, DC, talk of putting fire fighters on the streets to help fight crime.
Our million dollar idea of the day? Invent nunking gear (fire fighter clothing) that includes a level 3 chest plate...
Because there is a possibility that I MAY be traveling this weekend, and because the topic is of broad interest, I've decided to publish what would normally be the weekend Peoplenomics Sunday report as a document which can be shared widely (among family and friends). Think of this as a gift from Peoplenomics subscribers to you and yours. - G
Pappy used to lament the plight of dogs chasing cars. "You ever wonder what's they do if they caught one of the damn things?" he'd ponder. Well, chasing after economic truth is a bit like that, and every once in a while an economist will come along and capture a glimmer of truth, but in true "dog catches car" fashion, with the facts properly assembled, there aways the risk, that like our hapless canine, we'll "get it" but not be quite sure what to do with it, now that it's within our grasp.
A long lead-in, but worthwhile framing for the following reader email, which came in response to my posting the link to Howard Hill's savory article from a year back on how the economic (means of production ownership) food chain works:
The answer - without running it by Howard (which is risky, since he laid out the company evolution in his document - is really two fold: It comes down to two central notions which are readily observable, provable, and buried like the proverbial sausage because they would frighten most casual observers and plain freak out the rest.
The first is that in our semi-democratic society the economy operates a lot like a conveyor belt. And what it conveys is goods and material production on an upward/ascending track, and it drags along the personal wealth and social well-being of society as a whole, along the way.
Considering, in the following drawing, the key difference between the USA and global economic condition in 1920-1930 and the conditions today, with regard to ownership.
You'll note how barriers to entry were fairly low in many industries, resources were widely available, and mass consumption was just being invented. The best marker, of which, is probably the invention of the "annual model" concept by GM and the subsequent evolution of a high-consumption lifestyle based on faddism and media hype, all facilitated via the newly emergent .talking film, radio, and eventually into television, then into videotext like systems and ultimately here-in-your-face today on the 'net.
That now shrunken red pile on the right was, arguably, much more accessible in the 1920's and 1930's period than today, and the fight over resource is becoming a global battle.
So much so in fact (tripping over our second point) that we are left to ponder a great question posed in one of the essays in "Kondratieff Waves; Warfare and World Security" (Tesellano C. Devezas, IOS Press, 2006, part of the NATO Programme for Security through Science).
Rui Namorado Rosa's contribution to the book is a paper titled "Economic Cycles in a Closed Finite World" and in it, he outlines a number of factors such as material consumption growth (general), material (resource) availability in decline, resulting resource issues, and then projecting resource wars as the systemic limits of the planet compress the operating bounds for the parameters listed.
Which sounds a lot like the conceptual framework I laid out in 2003as the Manufacturer's Resource Wars period and, as shown by this bit from 2004, it's been one of those cornerstones of thinking around here for a long time, predating some of the more recent (albeit cited) works.
So to specifically restate the answer, a little less verbosely:
Nikolas Kondratieff understood all this and as his bonus for keen economic insight was shipped off to Siberia because while Joe 'the Butcher' Stalin loved the part of Kondratieff's work which predicted the downfall of us damned capitalists in a Great Depression, he was thoroughly pissed about the idea that after a massive Depression, the West would rise from the ashes and go on to even bigger and greater glory. Which we've done, but that gets us around to the present day situation...
The way we sit at the moment, the debt's accumulated from operating the economic conveyor belt since the 1920's are mounting up. In fact, they're to the point of break the machinery itself.
How do we know that supersaturation of debt is at hand?
the big ponder from all this is obvious: Who's going to be the nth borrower that becomes the straw on the global financial back?
How to Fix the Conveyor
Pretty obvious that the economic conveyor is becoming overloaded; like the bearings heating up and about the seize up, the economic conveyor only works well when there's little friction which we'll describe as that fertile ground from which the virtuous cycle springs. That includes ready resource, production opportunity, willing consumers, and low debt loads that facilitate consumption via borrowing.
But at some point, the conveyor breaks and needs to be reset.
Unfortunately, history argues there are only two ways to handle the conveyors breakdown: Repudiation of the debt and/or major war.
So it's here that we look for clues in the headlines that will instruct us on what to expect going forward.
The risk of repudiation of debt is real. It has already occurred in a limited way in Iceland, which hasn't imploded from the effort. But the debt load of the PIIIGS on the Euro may be too much. And that's one reason why we're seeing the flight to gold: People are trying to get out of paper which, as any student of contract law knows, is only as good as the paper it is printed on.
But while gold may continue to ascend toward the $2,000 (and well above levels can't be ruled out) there's another problem at hand: The risk of government confiscation.
Not only was gold ordered confiscated in April of 1933, but in addition (and lesser known) was the confiscation order for all silver in private hands embodied in Executive Order 6814 which was enacted in August of 1934.
It is possible, that this time around, there may be another set of confiscatory steps taken, which is one of the reasons we have focused on paying off property, and will move some of our financial net worth into physical goods.
The other thing we can expect will be a continuation of demand destruction and artificial consumption through whatever means necessary. This is including, but not limited, to wars and epidemic diseases.
As I've repeated often, terrorism sure looks like a modern variant of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and Works Progress Administration (WPA) of the 1930's, as both have involved hiring lots of people who would otherwise be unemployed. You can approach this problem from any number of perspectives, but if you add up what would be spent on US Defence without Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and so forth, and then kick in the TSA workforce and related programs at all levels, and then heap it up with a fair dose of secondary and tertiary (ripple effect employment from primary jobs) you'll see a case develop that would place present day unemployment well over 20%, about comparable to the 1930's in many cities.
Still, there are the differences between the present state of affairs and past events.
One reason the onset of the 1929 collapse was so sudden was that banks were not federally insured. Thus, when a bank closed in the First Depression, the effect was immediate loss of savings which destroyed consumer confidence overnight.
Here in the Second Depression, the process has labored on, but since the initial round of failures, the attention-deficit media of the mainstream sort, has failed to report the continuing accrual of failed banks. By my count, as of the July 8th closings of three more banks, 411 branches at 51 institutions have closed this year alone and the total since IndyMac is now 5,791 branches belonging to 370 institutions.
While it would be dandy to have FDIC be the problem's end point, it is not. To be sure the effect on the economy is slower than the 1930's instant poverty result, but the underlying fact is that FDIC has had to raise its rates to member banks and in addition, the problem continues as balance sheets in the industry are still, in some cases shaky from all the damage caused by the housing bubble collapse.
Oh, and that's threatening a double-dip.
I hope that answered the question, but it really frames the larger one: How to we fix the broken conveyor without tearing it completed down and building another one from the ground up - which is what Depressions do?
Oh, sure, easily done, if everyone shares the pain. But not sign of that: The republicorp are moving their goal post to the right, and Obama is holding his, more or less, in place.
But, Obama may have sealed his fate with the "can't guarantee" remark about August 3 Social Security payments. The buzz on the street, among retirees, retired military, and others is that such a thing would be unconscionable.
Or, as another reader asks on a more pragmatic footing, "If they're (gov't) not going to be paying it, then why should it come out of our checks this week?"
Like I say - I haven't run this by Howard - but the economic conveyor belt has been jiggered so much, and the output has been going into offshore (untaxed) centers at such a rate, that the customary 'ripple' and 'wealth effect' from domestic recirculation of money has come up dangerously short and that's why I've been so rabid about jobjacking.
For Whom the Conveyor Toils
We end this little thought experiment with a simple picture to illustrate why the concept of broken conveyor belt is so contentious in the MSM, which in turn is pretty much influenced, if not outright owned, by the corpgov alliance.
You see, from their perspective, the conveyor is working just great!
The reason they can assert this with a straight face? Well, it's working fo9r them. If your Social Security gets held up, sorry 'bout that, but Free Traders are still feasting.
And if you want proof, just look at the Balance of Trade figures in the UrbanSurvival report on Tuesday of this week to see how fast the conveyor is running: $50.2 Billion trade deficit in May alone.
So staring at this picture, the owners of this conveyor belt can only conclude one thing: Their conveyor isn't broken. You are, or will be soon enough.
That's the answer, simply conveyed. Your view on whether it's a good thing , or very, very bad, depends on how much of an operating interest you've been able to buy.
Economics is, at its core, the study of conveyor systems; dynamically redistributing wealth, goods, services, and moving lifestyles along the way. It doesn't need a lot of formulas, just a little common sense.
Except, of course, that's anything but common.
One more reader note: The ChartPack for Peoplenomics subscribers will be posted after the close tomorrow.
Wednesday July 13, 2011
Record Gold, Market Rally Due
Glad I didn't sell: I've been on the fence, awaiting chart pattern resolution, but now there's no two ways about it - gold is breaking higher and Nervous Nellie (moi) is settling down a bit. The price of gold has broken to the upside, through old highs. May be headed into the $1,600 range and while it hasn't made a correspondingly huge move yet, silver may be 'coiling' for a strike at the previous highs - around $50 - figures my commodity guy, JB.
Speaking of trading, a reader sent me a note yesterday accusing me of "reporting only your winning trades" and not fessing up to the losers.
Not guilty! Year to date (this morning's balance, divided by the 12/31/2010 closing balance for 2010) shows a crummy17.38% this morning, but with a good pop in the Dow I'd expect to be back around 30% within a week, or two. This latest decline has been costly, but I got out of my short position this week and went long at mid-day Tuesday although I tend to trade early on most moves.
But cat's out of the bag: George is long, and I approve of a rally here but maybe not till after options come off the table tomorrow (index options) and Friday (stocks).
SS Checknapping: The Social Contract Breached
Whilst president Obama is off founding what one quick-witted reader calls "The Pea Party - a brilliant counter-stroke" which we assume means something about eating the distasteful and not the obvious reference to brain sizes in DC, the nonsensical repetition of End the Universe Brinksmanship continues unabated and unrepentant.
This as the Brinkster in Chief says he can not guarantee that Social Security checks will go out on August 3rd. BUT, seems everyone in Washington has forgotten the social contract with the American tax victims: Social Security was to be forever sacred, inviolable, and untouchable.
As I see, the faith of people in their elected representatives is about to be breached if checks are late, shrunken, or impinged in their purchasing power. Those of us "grays" have a social contract to get back equal value to what was put in....plus interest such that a decent very modest pension can provide minimal subsistence. That was the promise, pledge, and duty of all whose hands touched this.
My, how short memories are, but I trust you'll be voting the straight Ure Party Ticket this fall which has only one plank in the party platform:
The root cause of this madness is, contrary to what you might suspect, just looking at the forensics of the situation, not something in the water supply in the District of Corruption. It's a hot zone outbreak of those two most dangerous of communicable economic diseases: Greed & Self-Interest.
I'm proud of my co-author Howard Hill who explained the whole process a year back - June 12 2010 to be presact - when he penned a mighty post titled "Death by Tax Cuts..."
As so, in the afterbirth of the corporate-own government's ascension over humans, we're now mired in brinksmanship, braggadocio and bluster on both sides of the aisle. Everyone ain office has dirty hands.
Consequently, near as I can figure, about 200-million seriously [pissed off] Americans aren't going to stand for it. Like this reader, for example:
Doesn't have to be so: Clif has suggested shunning and I'm suggesting the "Throw them all out" option. Any political party calling me for a contribution will be reddened by the language they'll here from me, although in the interest of time-saving, I've reduced it to two words, one of which is "**** You!" and hanging up.
Another reader catches the obvious non sequitor:
The answer is simple: Someone is lying. Either the dough is there, or the social contract has been torn up, but if that's the case, holders of the old federal debt ought to have their contracts torn up, simultaneously, as well.
Gotta wonder if anyone in the MSM will have the goanies to ask at the Treasury monthly budget storytelling session today what the truth of it is...
Professor G. William Domhoff, of the UC Santa Cruz Sociology Department, has a dandy site that really digs into this "concentration of power in hands of the few" over here. If you care about America and how we got here, I can't think of a finer set of facts and figures to start with. Check with your doctor first, though, because your blood pressure meds may need adjustment.
If we actually end up an airplane (see coping section) I'd love to fly out to SC and interview him...it would make a dandy Peoplenomics report since his look-ahead judgment would be really excellent in terms of gauging the trajectory of our Second Depression.
Remember the "Remember the Tax'em 'moe.." wouldn't be a bad regional slogan down this way. Up in the Midwest, the campaign could have a "Show me the door" state. Or Virginia is for lovers, not politicians...and so on. The Folding State formerly The Golden State, the Empire State turns Umpire State (and the ump sez "....yeeee're ooooouuuttt!..."
Don't think I've ever looked forward so much to an election in my life. Almost worth moving up to Ohio for a couple of months just to have my vote account for thousands of disenfranchised in other states who don't get to vote in the first round of political vidiot selection - the presidential primaries.
The Daily Tape
Lemme see, how to pump up the markets...hmmm...
"Italy to bolster austerity plan, speed up approval" ought to help.
Latest from the Mortgage Bankers is just out: The highlight might be good news indicating a slowing of the housing implosion...
The S&P/Case report come month end will give us more.
Stories are picking up that go to the idea that there may be a US probe of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Political battling over control of the MSM? Not sure how US law extends to behaviors in the UK, but there you have it.
Oh, wait. I forgot: We're a global power...yeah, dat's it.
Or not - we're 9-11 victims hacked?
NetFlix: 50% Inflation
Impact on us, for example:
That's quite a chance from the current $11.99 (before tax) rate. 49.99 some percent.
Have to wonder how the Labor Department will cover this and the myriad of cell phone rates (and internet access rates, and....) which are also going up...
No inflation here, no sir, just move along... (See? This is why gold is going up and silver is likely to follow...)
Only in America, Dept.
Catch the 3000th hit of a famous ball player and try to sell the ball to pay student loans down. American as apple pie, right? Except for nowadays there's the tax liability issue...
I ever mention my "taxes in kind" theory? Idea is that if you make a profit by selling something, carrots from the backyard garden, for example, why isn't it acceptable to hand over whatever share of the carrots would be considered "profit" and just document it going to a local food bank?
Skips the current conversion steps and the expensive trip to Washington, but isn't the idea to do well and support fellow citizens?
Meantime, why haven't the banksters repealed the 28% tax on gains in silver and gold? Inquiring minds.....
While GE boss Jeffrey Immelt is saying how business needs to do more on job creation, we seem to recall GE paid bupkis in income tax last year.
Ah, but what's good for the goose is not good for the sheep; so go barnyard politics.
But wait! Dallas will save us: They're going to cut down on City Hall FB use.
My new Theory of the Day: Government size could universally be reduced one-third is everyone in government has no internet access at all at work. No email - NOTHING.
Coping: Plane Thinking
For one reason, or another, the number "13" has always figured prominently in my life. Under my 'broadcasting name' back in the day, I did 13 years on 1300 AM in Seattle, for example. So, it's hardly surprising that on the 13th of a month in a year that adds up to 13 (2+0+11=13) that some change should come along from Universe.
The airplane I'll likely buy is a Beech A 23-19. It's about like a Cessna 172 in terms of performance: 114 knot cruise speed (realistically 110 knots), with a ceiling of 14,900 feet and so on. Basic VFR instruments, though there's a Lowrance 2000C GPS panel mounted, a couple of decent radios, and even a traffic avoidance alert. Toss in a couple of noise cancelling headphones, auto-muting 4-place intercom, and a price tag under $20,000 and what's not to love?
My mechanic says it's an "OK" plane, but he'd heard they were a big 'doggie' in terms of performance; it's no Mooney or Glasair for sure, but they're hell built for stout, and more important in terms of strategic planning, they feature a 60-gallon fuel tank (about 54 useable) which means out of the box, there's 800 nautical miles of range which is 920 statute (every day) miles between fill-ups.
A little research, and I've done a lot, suggests that the Beech may have gotten its "doggy" reputation from having a very far-forward center of gravity. Apparently, with two people of any heft at all, and full fuel (260 pounds worth) the center of gravity is right up at the forward limit. According to some of the Beech boards, tossing a 50-pound sack of sand, or two, in the aft luggage area will not only move the CG far enough after to get it into the designer's sweet spot: It will also up the cruise speed from the current owners reported 110 knots to likely the factor spec 114, or there abouts.
A couple of other simple mods, I've head Lopresti makes wheel hub caps which might add a knot or so, perhaps ripping out the rotating red beacon on the tails and fairing it smooth and going with 3-point strobes, would add another 2 knots. If I happen to buy a winning lotto ticket at some point, there'd be the PowerFlo exhaust which would add upwards of 15 horsepower, and which would increase the rate of climb from the 820-900 feet per minute range up well over 1,000 feet per minute.
The price is what matters here: The deal will likely go down from under $20,000 and at that, it's in the same range as our (lease return purchase) car.
Assuming Elaine can be convinced to pack at least 50 pounds of luggage per trip (this shouldn't be hard, lol) we'd likely be cruising most times (no counting winds) around 131 MPH with that 800 mile range.
Operating costs on a plane aren't too bad: Assuming the plane is paid for with a check (toys should be), the monthly hangar fee is $125 which is about $50 less than most places. Insurance is $748 per year. And then it's just gas, oil and the annual maintenance check, which runs about $1,000 to $1,500 for a plane like this. In time, it will need a new windshield, but that's $600 in parts and about that much more again in labor. Most everything else is done, including Slick mags and so forth.
In terms of a comparison with an auto, I worked up the following, based on fares showing in Orbitz as of yesterday. Here's a one-way comparison from our neck of the woods up to Denver:
Car: Fuel: $ 139 Travel Time: 19.5 hrs. Hotel: $75
Beech Fuel: $ 270 Travel Time: 6.5 hours
Commercial Ticket: $ 472 Travel Time 5.5 hours
Some trade-offs: With a car, the cost of the total trip cost is $214 by the time you add in the hotel. But, with either flying option, you either need a friend in Denver or you need to rent a car.
On the other hand, with our own plane, there's no one week advance notice and fare searching. You just pick up and go. 20 minutes to the airport, 10 minutes to wheel out the plane, push baggage in, pre-flight, and we're out. None of this 'show up at the airport one hour early'. Oh...and no pat-downs. Darn!
Still, there are lots of things to think about, such as this reader email, for example:
I've thought about that stuff very carefully. In terms of 'being on foot' I don't look at the airplane as eliminating that, at all. But, with 900 mile range, three people and overland supplies aboard, could be whisked to a less population-dense area - perhaps the eastern slope of the Rockies, or up in the Ozarks. Either has spots that make Texas look positively crowded. And that means if economic collapse ever got to the point of living off the land, things would quickly devolve into a humans per square mile kind of equation.
Besides, always held bush pilots in very high regard and it's one of the few things I have tried in life so far, so why not?
Oh, there's also no worries about setting a plane down somewhere: All it takes if a quarter mile of road somewhere; paved is optional. While in military terms, the idea of "holding the airport" works, the plane we're looking at weighs a third less than most cars and clears a 50-foot obstacle (trees at the end of the runway) with just 1,300 feet. Straight stretch of logging roads are easy.
Last but lot least, is the business use. I've got colleagues all over the country it would be nice to spend some time with on business. A trip up to Seattle would be a leisurely 3-day trip, or a couple of 8-hour fling days and about $500 in fuel (for both of us). The one way cost of commercial flying up there is $636. but we'd need one night of hotel, so it'd be a push.
Or, not quite. Since Clif lives 90-minutes of drive from hell one way from SeaTac and my colleague in the San Juans is 2-hours plus a ferry ride. In the plane, we'd just land at Olympia and then on to Friday harbor. No lines, just the convenience.
Last, but not least, there's the matter of 'green'. A commercial airliner, like a 737-400, might burn 850 gallons per hour, which with the 146-seat configuration (like the old 727-227 ADVs) that works out to 5.5 gallons per hour per passenger (with a million qualifiers for stage length, yada, yada).
But aircraft very seldom (except during holiday periods, or when we want to go anywhere) run 100% LF. Usually, an 80% load factor is average is more realistic for economic comparisons. Call it 117 passengers at an 80% load factor, which means each passenger is eating 6.84 gallons per hour. Even at $4/gallon jet fuel, that's 34 gallons and perhaps $170 of fuel for each one of those $472 tickets, I mentioned as a one-way cost.
The rest of a commercial aircraft is not exactly profit. There's a good chunk that goes into maintenance reserves, reservations, ticking commissions, front end crew (pilot, co-pilot) and back end crew (stewards/'desses) and then there are landing fees (based on aircraft weight), Gate charges, station (airport) staff, baggage handlers, insurance, aircraft cost, hull and liability insurance, SG&A at the home office and for people like me who have modeled this stuff, there are a million and one fine points over whether any cost is a cycle cost (a cycle being one take-off and landing pair), an hourly cost (crew), passenger air seat miles (insurance), fuel (stage length, city-pair-fuel burns) or distributed overhead (SG&A) and did you want that allocated on a passenger basis, or did you want to do that on air-seat-miles (ASMs)?
Returning to the fuel per seat mile, the aircraft with the two of us aboard burns 9 gallons per hour, but that means 4.5 gallons per hour. Less than the big jets, but we're only trying to levitate a couple of thousand pounds, not a quarter 180,000 pounds of aluminum and composites.
The car is the 'green' winner. At 26 MPH (fast cruise, open highway) the car only eats 1.35 gallons per hour, but it does so mile, after mile, after mile. Then a hotel, and then more miles, after miles, after....
Meticulous logs will be kept, of course, documenting business use, which I'm just guessing will be around 60-70%. That's a business expense, just like going commercial, renting a car, and staying in a hotel is. If used for business, someone gets to write off something because it's an actual cost of doing business, whether you drive, fly, or train.
Still, the deal's not done until it's done...and along the way I'll jot down some periodic notes on this part of the Smorgasbord of Life. Done the off-shore sailing part, the fast car part, the kids and family part, the successful business part, and as of this morning, I've got the checkbook open and the pen poised for the next snack along the line.
We all leave life with what's in our heads - and no one can take those things away from us. Gently rocking at anchor on my sailboat watching the sun come up over Mt. Rainer is one indelible memory; so is flying a seaplane off High Ross Lake over the dam and powerhouse up in the North Cascades.
Going a day without adding a cool memory, or two, is a life not well-played, as I see it.
South America Travel?
An interesting invite from a reader...
Gotta think on that...besides, doesn't the government still claim 10-years of tax authority on people going expat? Thought about it, though...
From Our Indonesia Bureau
Speaking of expats, our punster, penster Grover check's in:
Hmmm...be a scary trip, but flying the Bering to Russia and then south...well....hmmm....
And About Coffee
Some very thoughtful responses here:
I may actually go back to that decaf stuff - water process, not the formaldehyde one, of course. If I'm gonna drink solvents, they'll come from France, California, Kentucky, Scotland, and Russia, thanks.
Oh, and there's this:
Maybe...but here the past couple of days my higher consciousness is up around flight level 090...doggone materialism, anyways.
Tuesday July 12, 2011
A Number for Breakfast: Trade
Although it's not so much a "biggie" as the FOMC minutes this afternoon, or that eye-popping chart at Calculated Risk which shows how this ain't your usual kind of "recession", we serve what's hot off the grill. This morning that'd be the Balance of Trade report, which has about the same excitement quotient as a bowl of grits.
A nearly $7 billion increase in the monthly number here is nothing to sneeze at - we just keep digging that foreign trade hole deeper, and deeper, and....
Tomorrow there's the weekly Mortgage Banker's data and the number which I'm convinced guys like Cussler and Clancy seek fiction-writing inspiration from: The Treasury Budget.
By Thursday, the quants will be equating all over themselves with PPI and then Thursday's CPI and Capacity utilization.
Truly, these folks would be better off with just one number for breakfast.
I'm Thinking: Sinking
Not that the decline in markets yesterday was unexpected. I did, however, clear a short position with a small profit and now I'm watching to see if we break key support levels.
Globally, the headlines are that things have gone over the cliff, but nothing would surprise me less than to see a drop today, and then some sideways or even up action before we get into the CPI figures Friday.
But I'm wrong often enough and I don't mind being so now, though my portfolio is back up 20+ percent for the year; though I'm aiming for 80% by December. We shall see.
Time to Pea
Political speechifying has hit a new....well.....something.... when the president says it's time to "eat our peas" regarding the federal budget.
Lemme see here:
Not the spelling of 'pea' I'd be thinking. How about peeved as more like it?
"C'mon, Man! Let's get real!" is what Veep Joe is reported as saying.
Stay tuned for the results of Washington's 'pea' test.
More Layoffs Ahead
Story is floating about that Cisco may be cutting as many at 10,000 jobs shortly.
Say, as long as we're talking about jobs: Story up in Minnesota caught my eye: "Shutdown's damage to the Minnesota economy will be read, significant - and incalculable" says the report at the MinnPost.
Here's my economic point: Next time, one of those offshore sheltered dipshitz who doesn't pay their honest share of income taxes, and holds out for even cheaper long term capital gains rates argues that 'there's still too much government' point to Minnesota which is imploding and ask them to explain how no government is a good thing.
They'll just sneer at you (so much so I've set up an "arrogant pricks" filter for email) but the fact is We the People and Government are in a seriously codependent relationship. Having NO government is not one of the choices. And the need for capital formation incentives like long term gains is long past. It was never intended to be a "get out of taxes" card for the arrogant prick class, though that's what it's become.
But the corporate trough-feeders are remarkably quiet about tax avoidance when it's the hand that feeds 'em. My view is moving toward anyone who supports long term gains rates below regular income tax rates for the rest of us is a shill or an arroprick.
We'll just tuck this one away for later use: If total (Wild West) free-trade is so grand, why is Minnesota imploding?
You know it must be real when the story makes the NY Times under headlines like "Drought Spreads Pain from Florida to Arizona."
In our own 'hood, which is smack in the midst of cattle country, we've had only 12.63 inches of rain for the year with 23.70 being normal for this far into it. Last year we had 23 inches.
So here's something you might tuck away for the CPI figures: Don't be surprised if the rate of inflation for food begins to ramp up.
Perils of Rupe
Now that word of paying bribes to government officials in the UK are making the rounds, so is speculation that Rupert Murdock, the MSM kingpin of News Corp, might become a target of a U.S. investigation. Can he out-fox them?
A 'pie eating hermit' reader wonders if this tightening of the linkage (Iraq-Iranian arms) doesn't seem a bit like stepping up the rhetoric a notch. Just so....but should the economy continue to plummet, another war wouldn't hurt, would it? Could be Panetta's way of "keeping one warming up in the bull pen" while we watch the four on deck...
Then we see the UK Guardian claims that the "CIA organised fake vaccination driv e to get Osama bin Laden's family DNA..."
Good report in this morning's NY Post by John Crudele about the ongoing battle over untaxed cigarettes. Not that butts shouldn't be taxed, but there comes a point on everything when taxation beyond a certain point just creates tax avoiders....
Points to Elaine for catching this one: Iceland is proposing smoking be permitted only with a doctor's prescription.
Coping: With Brilliance vs. Idiocy
If this morning's column seems a wee might shorter than usual, it may actually be the case. I've got an early morning flight physical to keep my third class medical current. But it's not having to post 20-minutes early to give me time to shower before leaving, though I'm sure the doc will appreciate that, which caused the onset of proper thought. It's that I drink decaf coffee on morning's like this.
If the connection between cogence and caffeine isn't precise in your mind, it works something like this:
A while back, you'll recall, I took a reader survey on whether I should buy an airplane. 172 readers - a highly coincidental number for Cessna drivers - said I should sit on my wallet and exercise some better judgment. 161 readers, a more significant number for Piper drivers, accustomed to the PA28-161 - thought that would be just fine.
Since we did that survey, back around tax time (April), not much has changed, except that my portfolio has piped up a bit with the decline yesterday and there's an airplane on eBay which has caught my eye.
What makes this one interesting, since the ideal of nomadism was the topic of last week's Peoplenomics report, is that although it's a single-engine plane, and fixed gear, no constant-speed propeller, which means cheap operating costs, or nearly so, is that it's had a lost of recent work done on it including fresh paint, a recent annual inspection, and so forth, the most attractive part is that when flown slowly, it has a range of 800 nautical miles, or 920 statues (normal) miles, plus or minus head/tail winds and how many pairs of shoes Elaine packs.
I have a fairly low 'rule out' price in mind, since buying a used airplane always involves risk. But airplanes in general are coming down in price due in part to rising fuel costs and maintenance is an issue, of course.
Still, there are many times that I'd like to be able to hop in a plane and go somewhere, if so no other reason than to shoot some aerial photos to be able to share with readers. Recent floods and fires come to mind. And when used for flying, a plane becomes a business expense if I can stitch that fairytale together just so.
There's a local hangar spot open, so it wouldn't be left outside to be slammed by wind, rain, and hail, although at 100+ here lately, odds of that seem low.
Not saying I'll go do something stupid (there's some assurance I will, in any regard). But since a third class medical is good for 2-years at my age, holding a current medical seems to make sense. Even though "stupid" may be either bidding on this particular plane, or just skipping caffeine for a day.
A (cheap) reader offers this:
Check the total - don't whine to me if it doesn't work.
Medical Speculation: Addiction & Coffee?
The National Institutes of Health has been doing some very interesting work on the role of dopamine in regards to various addictions including booze, food, and coke. Might want to wade through this one:
Gulp! You do have your Dr. Marcus Welby, M.D. lookalike outfit on, right?
Just a wild-ass guess here, but while I was contemplating adenosine receptors this morning a terrible thought crossed my mid: Could there be a link between caffeine use and a tendency toward addictive behaviors? After all...we read in the literature that...
Don't like where my suspicions lead but I'm wondering if maybe one of our consulting PhD microbiologists could explain why that's not a pretty good theory and a damn fine explanation of why the world - and in particularly coffee-slurping fiends like me - might not elevate their addictive behavior risk via a sufficient uptake of you know what...
Since we know caffeine 'promotes the use of fatty acids' we are left wondering what the price is. Is there more to this "uppers' and 'downers' stuff than meets the eye...and is coffee a suspect?
If someone down the road a bit comes up with this and get's a Nobel Prize for finding it, tell 'em to send half the dough. Or, we could just have coffee and talk about it, I suppose....
Monday July 11, 2011
There's a compelling CNBC piece out this morning with global commodities trader Jim Rogers. His view seems to be that if the global economy successfully muddles through, commodities will go up on increased demand. But, if the muddle-through fails, then governments will have to print up more money in order to pump their economies up again, and that will be inflationary for commodities where (look surprised) prices will go up.
With the dollar up strongly early on, Rogers may be on the right path.
The problem for the US economy, though, is a lot murkier. You see, since high frequency trading has effectively turned the stock market into commodity, a rise in the dollar could be back for stocks, at least early this week. One of my trading friends noticed a while back that during the present rally, we tend to get 78-8 days of up move, then 2-4 days of retracement. Friday's decline was one, so downsides today and tomorrow - possible Wednesday, too - may be in the cards.
Still, the broad question is this: If Rogers is right about commodities, what can the little person do to make money in the game? Answer: Buying of things you may need in the future.
I have an example sitting in my shop. A couple of years ago (three, if I recall), the Jet 9"X20" metal lathe was $999 for the working part and something like $199 for the heavy-duty base. Today, the general price is up around $1,399 with the base extra. Don't know if you've noticed, but the price of imported tools, and anything with steel in it, in particular, is going up.
In the past six years, for example, we've seen T-posts (6-foot, not transportation rated, the kind used next to a large highway) go from $2.44 to almost $6 each. $5 online, but shipping costs add. Investment grade farm posts? Who'da thunk?
We have also just been through a period of major increase in things like rebar prices and so forth.
Bottom line is this: Next time Harbor Freight has a sale on one of their 10 X 12 foot greenhouses, which sometimes can be had on sale for $699, the risk of self-indulgences may be lower than you think. Because, as Rogers notes, commodities win.
Washington's [Thought] Deficit
On Saturday's Peoplenomics report, I cautioned subscribers:
With the reports out Sunday that a grand solution was off the table but that the mind-numbing chit-chat will continue today, I see no reason to change that assessment. El presidente speaks at 11. I can't hardly wait. (<--seriously?)
It bears an uncanny resemblance to a bunch of unskilled poker players, all trying to bluff. Except, of course, you and I are ultimately the pokees.
Just how badly/deeply to pokus with more taxes is the question on the table. We already know....
This Is Going to Hurt...
Meanwhile Treasury boss Tim Geithner is claiming president BO saved America from a Second Depression, it will be some time before it feels like the country is recovering.
Oh yeah? The Kondratiev economic long wave won't bottom until at least 2016-2017 which means we won't recognize the place by then. So great will the decline in the US standard of living have been by then. At least some people are starting to see it, though from under the freeway overpasses....
Ures truly are till pondering why economics doesn't recognize long wave cycles generally. Astrophysics has come to term with solar cycles, agriculturists have come to terms with pest cycles, hurricane forecasts are good with storm cycles, yet in economics, the quants won't generally say crap - even if they have a mouth full of it - when it comes to long term cycles.
Groupthink at its finest. so we all suffer at least five more years of economic idiocy. The article by Motoko Rich in the Sunday NT Times "Economy faces a jolt as benefit checks run out" ought to be considered another wind sock to watch when you get tired of my daily reminders that this is D2 right here, right now.
What about those 2-million fewer humans who left the workforce? Ascension? Ha!
In the PIIGS "i"
Meantime, across the pond, the EU is all lathered up by the 'debt crisis that stalks Italy' which is the 'i' in Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain - the PIIGS of EuroLand.
This fine rendition of theatre of the absurd has been best enjoyed with Jim Sinclair's long-ago assessment: The Euro is just the collective currency ploy by a bunch of bankrupt countries in denial. But sooo entertaining....
Eventually, group bankruptcy becomes apparent, but 13-nation Monte has been a delightfully up-tradable version of three-card Monte.
Spain's implosion is a global economic system-killer, but let's not jump ahead, too much. Plenty of scenes in this drama yet to go.
The Santa Clause
Means that "Cash-strapped retailers face collapse..." because suppliers aren't giving 'em as much credit...
We hear from our spies at the North Pole that in honor of the Second Depression, Santa's got two new reindeer joining the fleet this year: Bonum and Dix'em.
Santa's back office is still sorting out whether a stop at the unemployment office is justified, since maps as having a fired place.
And Rudolph is in treatment, The red nose and eyes should have been a clue, but now thanks to screening... You mean that wasn't frost around his nostrils?
Gay Times in Cambridge
So lemme see if I got this right: Gay city workers in Cambridge, MA will get more pay than straight counterparts?
No WTF's please. But couldn't the same logic be applied to workers paying child support, too?
Quakes and Clocks
A couple of decent-sized quakes over the weekend, not the least of which was another 7.0 of Japan.
Did'ja feel the 4.1 shaker west of El Centro around 7 last night? Or, the nearby 3.3? Still time to rent a Cat and start pushing up dirt to make an island marina outside el Centro from the coming submergence event. 100-feet high mound to be island ought to do it, at least for the initial subsidence.
Then there's the head scratcher out of Sicily where an eruption of Mt. Etna is being linked to a 15-minute speed up of clocks. Got a gravity well theory, or the Mafioso's there have simply kidnapped 15 minutes from the rest of the world...
Cat's Out of Bag
Speaking of Cat - as in Caterpillar - you see this story here?
I know, I know, your vision of a cat suit is probably more like this. Which gets us around to...
Naked Short Selling
Another one to watch: Brillouin energy.
How to "Fix the World" Dept
Say, here's an interesting allegation from a reader, but if true, it's more than a bit disconcerting:
Wow. Crazy, or what?
Say, want Mr., Ure's nickel solution to all such problems? Mandatory IQ testing in all government agencies. I don't worry so much about someone vaping up (definition 2) when they are NOT on taxpayer time.
But idiocy on the taxpayer's clock? That is a little more disconcerting. Oh, and expensive, too.
My Better Plan? IQ-adjusted wages for GS-10 and above. 100 would continue pay at the present schedule, each 10 points under would knock 'em down a step (GS-9 instead of 10, for example). 10 points over moves up one GS grade when other qualifiers are met. Pretty soon, smart people only in government.
Then again, I'm the guy who figures no one in government should vote, since they all have an interest in the outcome. Didn't the founders require propertied only vote? Memory is bad at this hour....
And everyone - military, congress, federal, postal and any other class of workers, all would have to get the same Social Security and nothing else like the rest of us. Long as we're fix'in things.
Fortunately, no one pays me no mind since I'm a self-confessed nutjob & reprobate. But I sleep well dreaming of a more rational world.
Lately, those dreams have been in Irish, Greek, and Italian, come to think back on it. The dreams in Icelandic have passed, though....
Coping: Monday at the WuJo
Monday is as good a time as any, since a wide swath of Life doesn't make sense on Mondays, to review the latest happenings on the mat down at the Wujo. That's our private dojo where reality and pseudo science meet up, slap each other around a bit, and go home to rest up for the next encounter.
We get oddity/outlier reports every week, and since man does not live by stock market profits along (he'd be starving, eh?) we find the old tale of the dying man at the end of his life worth recalling.
Asked if he regretted the hugely successful company he'd built, but at the cost of of quite literally every waking hour of his life, the man answered that indeed, he did have regrets about it taking so much time. Few, when life ends, wish they could have spent more time in front of a computer, or watching the management dashboard of an ERP system.
Our first report comes from a professional fellow in human resources:
This is an example of what's various called a "time slip" or, more correctly, a "temporal discontinuity." So here's a case of the flip side of missing time....extra time showing up first. Here and at Mt. Etna....whew!
We had our own little encounter with the High Strangeness here at the ranch last week.
My retired (SF/Ranger) brother-in-law, Panama, made an evening run to town (13 miles each way) on what I think was a pastry run. Fellow's got a sweet tooth, but it's about his only vice. In the 10+ years I've known him, he's never told a tale or stretched the truth, even about fishing. If he says he caught and released a 9" bass, then you may rest assured, the fish was no 9½ nor 8½:
He's precise in his thinking and keen in his judgment and observations, with the possible exception of having over 1,000 jumps out of perfectly good aircraft under his belt, but no one's perfect. But if he reports something as a fact, it's as good as a grand jury's report.
He came home, a few hours after dark, and told Elaine a most unusual story.
He'd been coming up the two lane county road, had turned onto our wide, oil-sand finished single lane road, and had been followed by what looked like a large pickup truck with many lights on it. He had observed it closely through the rearview mirror.
After passing a few homes, and starting down into the valley where our creek runs - a mile or so along - twisting through the trees, he was shocked to see the road ahead blocked by a half-dozen, or so, large, white, longhorn cattle. Like white Brahmas, but long horns. They were huge, and since they were on the road, he pulled off.
A moment later, the big pickup pulled up beside and he and the driver exchanged pleasantries, but, went his report, it was difficult at first because the truck had one of those loud diesel engines in it, and it was one he hadn't seen in the area before.
"Cattle must belong to the Harrisons..." or some such, opined the driver. Which was odd, because we aren't aware of anyone by such name living hereabouts. Let alone with white long horns.
A few more words were passed, with Panama noting the truck wasn't a "dually" but sure was big and sure was loud (as I recall, the driver had turned it off so they could talk) and with the cattle still meandering about the road ahead, the pickup led the way.
Panama glanced inside his own vehicle, started it, looked up and began to drive forward but now noticed something odd as he pulled onto the single track road and rounded a slight curve:
There were no cattle. They - and the truck - had disappeared. Around one more curve - where he had nearly 3/4th's of a mile visibility, there was NOTHING but empty road.
It was a WTF moment.
Panama's not given to flights of fancy, so he continued home, just thinking it very odd - another 1.5 miles along and a right turn, and told the story to Elaine. Struck her as extremely odd, too.
You need to understand that this is not a grazing area. This is rugged brushy land with nothing to graze and a 30-45º upslope to the southeast up the hill he was beginning to descend and a corresponding 30-45º down slope on the other side. Not exactly where cattle would be driven, in any event.
Did I mention the area is not fenced, except perhaps 150' up the hill along the brow at the edge of the down slope?
A day or so later, when I headed into town, I stopped for a few minutes and walked the area briefly. I was looking for signs of something. Everyone knows you can't have a confab of 5-6 cattle milling about without at least one of them dropping some greeting cards, so to speak, about.
But there was none of that, the sides of the road looked undisturbed, as did the slopes, and there were no hoof-marks.
Panama hasn't mentioned anything of the events since, no doubt on to other events. But I'm keeping close watch to see if he reports anything in a few days. In the literature of 'strange encounters with lights' there have been cases where the subject seems normal for a week, or so, but then reports frightening dreams.
I also haven't mentioned the work of Dr. John Mack, who in this PBS/Nova discussion, explains how he evolved from skeptic to believer in some kind of human phenomena. Not sure he'd care, though, since he's put the event out of his mind to all appearances.
Nevertheless, there are websites around, such as " www.iwasabducted.com " where certain elements of this 1999 encounter while driving a truck in a remote area seem somewhat similar. Or, this one from 2003, but nothing dramatic like this one, also from 2003.
One other data point: There's reference in the predictive linguistics from a while (and several reports) back that sometime over the summer period (around now) we should see an increase in UFO and reports of aliens in the outlying - backwoods - remote areas, such that farmers are running around armed.
Reports of UFO's in the Chilliwack, BC area, and two objects in the vicinity of the Phoenix sandstorm aside, there don't seem to be many aliens about yet.
But makes me wonder who's got the white longhorns and who's the new dude with the big dark pick-em-up truck that's new in the 'hood with its loud diesel?
BackdoorSurvival explains. Don't be baaah-shful.
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.
So one of our charts for Peoplenomics subscribers oughta be widely circulated - it shows that if you line up the peak of the Dow in January 2000 with the peak in early September of 1929, we're on a very very close replay track. Much closer than even the chart shows if you were to back out inflation, and put in the effects of 1929 deflation, but that'd be real work, and I'm sort of lazy if the truth be told.
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:
"George, that's only a coincidence!" your monkey-mind will protest.
Why sure it is...you bet. A 11-year long coincidence...yessir....just a coincidence, we're like SO sure... (Shhh...don't tell anyone that major Depressions are two-part coupled affairs like the linkage between 1920-21 and 1929, OK? Damn, dude...don't spoil it for the sheep...)
Oh...don't forget to "Write when you get rich!"
George Ure, The People's Economist
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