Saturday, January 2, 2010
Artwork by AZ Rainman
To download a printable version, click on The Fallacy of Gold Backed Money
Bill Still – The Still Report, Why Gold Money Won't Work Part I (5:47):
Bill Still – The Still Report, Why Gold Money Won't Work Part II (9:59):
Bill Still – The History of Non Debt-Backed British Tally Sticks…
Artwork by AZ Rainman
Somewhat depressing to read the current state of affairs, not to worry, simply take whatever pharmaceutical or drug you use to numb the pain, but please do it AFTER reading Craig’s piece because the issues he reflects upon are vital to the future of America. A great paper for discussion, see you in the comments section…
An Introspective Look at the Future of America
By Craig Harris
As we close out 2009 and look forward into 2010 and beyond, this has been a year of near financial catastrophe and monumental change, none of which benefited America or ordinary Americans. Late in 2008 and throughout 2009, events have happened in the US which would have been labeled unfathomable just a few short years ago, and yet already these monumental changes are expected to be filed into the memory hole and Americans are expected to believe nothing has changed.
As we exit the year, we are told the US is a laissez-faire free market economy and yet the US government is now the largest owner of housing in the US as well as the owner of last resort for some of the largest and completely insolvent US corporations. The Federal Reserve, a privately and anonymously owned and controlled corporation chartered with issuing the nations currency, were given the green light by themselves to transfer to themselves and their shareholders the people's wealth in the form of their future labor. The FED balance sheet has ballooned to become a junk bond warehouse as they overtly and covertly buy their own debt, immune from any sort of oversight, regulation or auditing and operating above the law. Along with that, increasingly coercive brute force measures are now routinely necessary to manage and manipulate so called "free market" asset prices which are cheerled by so called "financial news media" whose board members and management are all the same people who transferred the people's wealth to themselves. The corporate media party line idea of a "free market US economy" now seems like a distant memory and it all feels like systemic fraud, corruption, malfeasance and organized crime at the very highest levels.
During 2009 we have seen the continued collapse of American industry amid wave after wave of layoffs. The corrupt corporate media cartel likes to trot out a group of FED sponsored shills who call themselves "professors" to call this a "jobless recovery" although it's difficult to imagine a recovery where American industry has collapsed and is now owned by the government. US cities both large and small have been decimated by the loss of the US manufacturing base. Detroit now resembles a third world country with a 50% unemployment rate. Ransacked, foreclosed houses go for a dollar apparently because no one who has a choice is willing to own property or live there. The US has an officially stated unemployment rate of ten percent and a real unemployment rate of over 20 percent. Wall Street may have recovered due to a direct injection of capital from the future labor of the people, but there has been no action taken whatsoever to improve the situation of the average citizen as the disconnect between the ruling Oligarchs and Wall Street, the real economy and the lives of ordinary Americans continues to widen. The people's bailout money, which represents the future labor of Americans, went directly into the pockets of the people who created the crisis in the first place because they are in the enviable position of being "too big to fail". Interestingly, or sadly, the same people and institutions responsible for and who profited from the catastrophe are still in charge and have handed even more power and control to themselves. Although there has been talk in Washington of "too big to fail" being undesirable, the result of the post collapse policies have resulted in ever fewer, ever larger players with more power and control and instead of being "too big to fail" now wield so much money and power that they demonstrate wholesale ownership of the entire US political body.
Due to the post collapse monetary and fiscal policies, the people have now been saddled up with an unpayable level of debt. The cause of the near total collapse of the financial system was too much debt and the "solution" has has been even more debt piled on to the original debt. During the year, the Dallas FED estimated the financial obligations of the US government at 99 trillion dollars. The head of the TARP program estimated the bailout cost at 24 trillion dollars. Totaled together the US has in the neighborhood of 120 trillion dollars of current and future obligations on an annual revenue of around 2 trillion dollars which is falling due to high unemployment, higher state and local taxes and fees and lower wages. Cutting that down to size, imagine earning 200,000 a year and having a debt of 12 million dollars. In short, the US dollar has become a token of an unpayable debt and thus the anchor of the entire global financial system is a ponzi fraud. It becomes impossible to compute the value of anything as measured in a fraudulent currency that represents an unpayable debt.
The banking system is not lending money because it's still insolvent. The people, having lost over 5 trillion dollars in the real estate bust are also collectively insolvent. Many US states and cities are bankrupt or near bankrupt. One in nine Americans subsist on food stamps. Even as a college education has become unaffordable to most Americans, college graduates now find themselves jobless. One in seven households now have their adult children living back at home due to the inability to find a job. The homeless population is growing and tent cities sprouted up across America during 2009. The estimated homeless population in LA alone is 40,000 people a night. People in the US if they have a job are working longer and harder to make the same income. Wages have remained stagnant and the real cost of living continues to spiral ever higher for ordinary Americans. The new man in charge, elected on a platform of "change", has delivered his change in the form of change=no change, or how do you like your change now?
By any metric you choose, whether it's the median home costing half the median income even at artificially low interest rates, to the ballooning cost of insurance, healthcare, education or anything else people spend their money on, the US is experiencing a rapid decline in the standard of living for ordinary Americans and an emerging ultra rich ultra powerful shadow oligarch rule amid a generalized and widespread financial and social decay. The US population is becoming a nation of voiceless serfs with fewer and fewer remaining civil and property rights and a rapidly decaying standard of living, the antitheses of everything America is said to represent and strive for.
The hypocrisy and fraud of the oligarch rule corporate media story line is now nearly impossible for an educated, informed adult to digest. As Jim Grant pointed out recently, according to Section 19 of the Coinage Act of 1792, the penalty prescribed for any official who fraudulently debased the people's money is death, yet in 2009 debasing the people's money resulted in a "man of the year" award from the self serving corporate media who will be next in line for a bailout from the people for their good service to the new oligarch rule. This organized crime, this theft, occurring right out in the open, may explain why employees of the largest US financial institution are now not allowed to gather in groups larger than 12 outside and their executives are carrying firearms. In an affront to the intelligence and sensibility of any citizen of this planet, the new US president expanded a war he was elected to end and started a new frontier in Pakistan, for that he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. The people who were awarded hundreds of billions of dollars of the people's money because they lost all their money are skimming millions and billions off the top for themselves and their associates in what they call "bonuses". 2009 has been a year of egregious assault on the American public by the people in charge.
The "people's representatives" as they like to be called, no longer represent the people at all but instead solely represent and pledge allegiance to the special interests and corporate lobbyists who have bought and paid for their votes, along with the media oligarchs who control who sits in the seats. Regardless of whether they call themselves Democrats or Republicans, they are a group of self important, self serving, morally bankrupt, corrupt, clueless buffoons and criminals running unchecked by a complicit corporate media.
Every American should be ashamed, embarrassed and sad that their country has been bought and sold to an organized criminal enterprise which includes the entire political body and the media. The only thing the "people's representatives" have in common is contempt for the people they are ostensibly representing. It is revolting for any American to watch these cretins heaping praise Ben Bernanke at the congressional theater of the absurd. His institution has already debased the dollar by 95% and failed miserably in every mandate they had since they took over in 1913. If any American has managed to retain or save any money, he can now put it on deposit in their banking system and earn a negative real return (a loss of his purchasing power) while at the same time the banks will take his deposit and loan it to his brother at 30% interest. So Mr Bernanke the money printer has control over the largest legal loan sharking operation ever concocted and it is funded by the America people, against the America people.
During 2009, the leadership has taken actions which benefit the corporations and special interests who own them, while showing nothing but wanton disregard for the millions of citizens whose lives their sponsors have destroyed. What we are headed towards in the US if we are not there already, is a Straussian society of ultra rich, ultra powerful oligarchs and a serfish powerless population with no middle class to speak of. The US president De Jour is, and from here on out will be a yes man, subservient to the ultra powerful too big to fail oligarchs who control the money and power and are responsible for putting him in the drivers seat. This is not compatible whatsoever with prosperity, democracy or anything else the US still holds itself out as. Here at the end of 2009, the United States has morphed into a bankrupt fascist oligarchy which owns the military machine as a policy enforcement tool, the entire political body and the media. It isn't going to fix itself because the fraud, corruption and malfeasance is systemic. It meets every definition of organized crime and it's all happening right out in the open.
In my way of thinking, this is not at all unlike the breakdown of the Soviet Union where for a period of time a sort of mafia of oligarchs weilded the wealth and power, carved up the remaining wealth of the country among themselves and had their way with the country amid a climate of manufactured fear, chaos and decay. The key point being that the people in control are out to make money and increase their power at the expense of the citizens. Mr Orwell said "the purpose of power is power" and that statement needs to be well understood. These megalomaniac, sociopathic aspirations of ever more power and control by an elitist group of criminals come at the expense of America and future Americans. It doesn't matter whatsoever to the oligarchs because they have property waiting in Croatia. When the remaining wealth has been extracted from America, they will all pull out and the citizens will be left with a rusted out bankrupt hull. I believe the circumstances for this eventuality have already been created, just not yet realized due to the enormous size of the economy and the momentum it has. In other words, I believe it's collapsing as fast as it can although living through it seems like slow motion. When viewed from the future in a historical context however, I think it will have seemed fairly rapid.
The financial markets have deteriorated into a Las Vegas casino atmosphere where the the only consistent winners are the house and the too big to fail entities trading on foreknowledge and inside information shared freely between the treasury and the few remaining large trading houses. The entire system is bankrupt, fraudulent, corrupt and irretrievably broken. The anchor of the global financial system, the US dollar, has become the worlds largest ponzi scheme and the remaining 95% of the worlds population would like a new, viable standard. At this point however, despite any action the FED may or may not take, the US debt is far too large to ever be repaid. It is questionable if the interest payments will even be serviceable if interest rates were to rise, and the only reason interest rates are low is because the FED is using brute force. At this time the only way out without a complete collapse is to inflate away the debt, thus turning a deflationary collapse into a long period of inflationary decay and declining standard of living.
I have been of the opinion that what we saw in October 2008 was a collapse of the global fiat financial system which was more or less expected due to the collapse of the real estate bubble. I have reminded my subscribers that when I was forecasting a drop in real estate prices of as much as 50% during the heyday of the mania, that sounded unfathomable. What I believe is in store for our future sounds nearly as unfathomable now as that idea did back then. I believe the reason it sounds unfathomable is due to the constant barrage of lies, misinformation and propaganda from the tight knit corporate media oligarchy which has essentially merged with the new power structure of the US in a corrupt, overt form of fascism that would make Mussolini blush or Goebbels the propagandist nod in approval.
Over a period of decades and with one FED induced serial bubble after another, the financial system finally reached an unsustainable level of debt and leverage in 2008. When the FED started raising interest rates, when the real estate bubble burst, it involved so much debt and leverage that the whole system failed, pricing models and risk models failed, and the banking system quickly became insolvent.
I believe we have already had a systemic collapse, and the only thing the FED can do now is alter the look and feel of the collapse and to manage the allocation of the remaining wealth. In the end, whether by deflationary collapse or inflationary decay, the result of the collapse will feel the same to the US general population regardless of the interim path taken.
If the FED had done nothing, the whole system would have quickly degenerated into a deflationary collapse and failure of the financial system due to insolvency. The course the FED chose however is the one myself and many others predicted beforehand...the FED chose to solve the problem of too much debt by creating even more debt by taking the unprecedented action of buying it's own debt under euphemisms like "quantitative easing" and "debt monetization" and also covert buying to artificially force negative real return rates of interest. Through this course of action, the FED so far has been able to turn what would have been a rapid deflationary collapse into a decaying inflationary depression which is euphemistically called "a recession that is now over" by the six people who control 96% of the global media and attempt to pass off propaganda as "news" to a woefully mis informed, dumbed down and apathetic general public.
Going forward, If the FED doesn't buy enough of their own debt, then interest rates on the long end would rise and the risk becomes a deflationary collapse into insolvency for the FED and it's banking system. If interest rates remain effectively at zero on the short end and artificially suppressed by quantitative easing on the long end, then the real estate market can recover and the banks can regain solvency. If interest rates rise as the free markets would argue for however, then the real estate market sinks even further, the US dollar rises, and greater insolvency of the banks follows. The higher interest rates go, the thinner the knife edge gets and the FED would quickly find itself staring into another October 2008 collapse kind of situation. On the other hand, if by buying enough of their own debt they can keep short and long term interest rates down, then the free money percolates through the banking system, puts pressure on the dollar, lifts commodity and real estate prices and pulls out of the collapse via inflating away the debt so long as they can avoid run away hyperinflation in the process. This is the path we have traveled throughout 2009.
The key point is that the FED has had the option of doing two things...creating even more debt in order to save itself and the banking system, or do nothing and watch themselves collapse into a mass of failure, loss of power and control, insolvency and domino style bankruptcy and default. They have chosen the expected course, which is to increase the debt and print money, which is the way they save themselves and their banking system. In short, given a choice between saving the people and saving themselves after a collapse, they have taken the expected course which is to attempt to save themselves. What else would you expect? If they had wanted to save the people they would have taken the peoples bailout money and handed it to them in the form of a check. Instead they handed it to the banks.
Although they have been somewhat successful in reducing the insolvency of the banking system, they have effectively created a giant wealth transfer mechanism whereby all the money that disappeared in the collapse was re created out of thin air and given to the banks and wall street. I think of it as a sort of shell game. The money disappeared from Mom and Pop's 401k and re appeared on the balance sheets of the banks via freshly created new money (debt). As a result, we have something still called "free market capitalism" which is not free market capitalism at all. We have emerged from this crisis with a sort of financial oligarchy where a few entities who control all the wealth and power also control politics and media. Understanding this will help to understand issues like "healthcare reform" which will involve you paying more and getting less, with the primary beneficiaries being the oligarchies who control health care and insurance.
The one major point I have to make at this time is throughout 2009, there was no action taken that put the average citizen in a better position, but instead during the course of the year there was a gigantic wealth transfer from the citizens to the banking system, effectively orchestrated by the so called "people's representatives" who are in fact, all owned by the banking system and Wall Street with half a dozen or so oligarchies and lobbyists in a public display of fraud, malfeasance and corruption that sets a new historical precedent.
I have been and remain of the opinion that the ultimate "solution" to this crisis will be for the entities who now control the wealth and power to accumulate even more wealth and power via a global central bank and global currency which now for the first time in public has been discussed on and off throughout 2009 and described as the New World Order by such luminaries as Henry Kissinger. So looking out beyond 2010, I see a new global reserve currency emerging and a global central bank which will effectively also be a global governing authority where the heads of state effectively report to the group of central bankers and their anonymous shareholders who effectively control the money, power and politicians on a global scale. When the global currency is introduced, only then do I expect a sort of collapse of the US dollar versus this global currency. In this way, the world can carry on while the former global reserve currency called the US dollar will be free to depreciate to a level where solvency is regained and the now unpayable US debt is inflated away to the point where it can be repaid in depreciated dollars. US citizens will experience a continued decay as the US becomes to resemble more and more, a third world country. Detroit is already there. The corporate media won't show it to you but if you do a youtube search on Detroit what you see will shock you.
My view of the world tends to be the long view. Throughout 2009 I have been positioned and trading in in various hard assets including but not limited to gold silver, back month crude oil, Soybeans, raw land and Americana. I own and trade some Chinese shares but no US equities or bonds. I have lost confidence in the US leadership. I have lost confidence in the fairness of the "system" where some elite entities are free to keep the profits and nationalize their losses. I have opted to opt out by embarking on a long term effort to transfer more and more capital "off wall street" and their organized crime ring they call the banking system, and instead investing in things without fraudulent or impaired balance sheets. At some point in the future, I want to be short US 10 and 30 year bonds because it is nonsensical to me that anyone would be willing to loan a bankrupt country money for 30 years at an interest rate of 4% or so. The only reason this situation exists today is due to the FED monetizing debt and attempting to manipulate the long end using brute force.
So as we head off into 2010, I see a lot of uncertainty in the short term. If interest rates rise and the US dollar gets stronger, by mid year I would expect a repeat of October 2008. What I expect to happen over the longer term however is that the FED will ultimately print enough money to attempt to slowly inflate the debt away to a manageable amount amid a generalized and severe decay in terms of the standard of living for Average Americans. At some point along the line, I expect the world reserve currency role to be moved into a global currency and for the US dollar to be allowed to float against it without the benefits associated with the world currency role, and for the US standard of living to continue to decline and eventually decay into a societal collapse followed by something different. I expect China to emerge as the dominant economic power in the world and to purchase a large amount of US assets. Somewhere along the line I also expect the Nobel Peace Prize recipient to bomb Iran because he will be ordered to do so by the people who control the money.
Personally, based on what I see coming over the long term I have elected to forego city life and have embarked on a long term project in the picturesque Appalachian foothills in an effort to increase my degree of self sufficiency and insulate myself from the continued decay and declining standard of living sweeping the country. My long view for the US is high inflation which will not show up in the government's fraudulent statistics, along with a declining standard of living, increasing decay and ultimately leading to chaos, societal and government collapse in the US within a decade or two, maybe sooner.
I would like to end by quoting Marc Faber with one of the most compelling quotes of 2009. I find this quote compelling because the price of anything as measured by a fraudulent standard is meaningless. To me, it is a gift to be able to still exchange US dollars for anything with real value.
"I would buy every three months some gold and not worry so much about the price because the weight stays the same"
My favorite quote, “As Jim Grant pointed out recently, according to Section 19 of the Coinage Act of 1792, the penalty prescribed for any official who fraudulently debased the people's money is death, yet in 2009 debasing the people's money resulted in a "man of the year" award from the self serving corporate media…”
The reason for posting this article is that I see many people who are in the state described by Dr. Levine below.
In his article Are Americans a Broken People? Why We've Stopped Fighting Back Against the Forces of Oppression… he asks, “Have consumerism, suburbanization and a malevolent corporate-government partnership so beaten us down that we no longer have the will to save ourselves?”
I see this reaction from many people regarding actually implementing Freedom’s Vision. Some people believe that there is just no way we could ever overcome our oppressors and institute those ideas. Well, I call B.S.! We are the ONLY ONES who do possess the power to implement change - and we’re going to!
Freedom’s Vision is designed to get us from our current debt and derivative saturated existence to one where the majority of that has been cleansed from the system and our money can once again go to work for us. It does so in a way that directly benefits most people in our society – it gives them an incentive to back it. The SWARM concept is meant to do exactly what Dr. Levine suggests, give the people small morale building victories on their way to achieving significant change.
On the Edge with Max Keiser and Bruce E. Levine:
On the Edge with Max Keiser and Bruce E. Levine:
Are Americans a Broken People? Why We've Stopped Fighting Back Against the Forces of Oppression…
By Bruce E. Levine
A psychologist asks: Have consumerism, suburbanization and a malevolent corporate-government partnership so beaten us down that we no longer have the will to save ourselves?
Can people become so broken that truths of how they are being screwed do not "set them free" but instead further demoralize them? Has such a demoralization happened in the United States?
Do some totalitarians actually want us to hear how we have been screwed because they know that humiliating passivity in the face of obvious oppression will demoralize us even further?
What forces have created a demoralized, passive, dis-couraged U.S. population?
Can anything be done to turn this around?
Can people become so broken that truths of how they are being screwed do not "set them free" but instead further demoralize them?
Yes. It is called the "abuse syndrome." How do abusive pimps, spouses, bosses, corporations, and governments stay in control? They shove lies, emotional and physical abuses, and injustices in their victims' faces, and when victims are afraid to exit from these relationships, they get weaker. So the abuser then makes their victims eat even more lies, abuses, and injustices, resulting in victims even weaker as they remain in these relationships.
Does knowing the truth of their abuse set people free when they are deep in these abuse syndromes?
No. For victims of the abuse syndrome, the truth of their passive submission to humiliating oppression is more than embarrassing; it can feel shameful -- and there is nothing more painful than shame. When one already feels beaten down and demoralized, the likely response to the pain of shame is not constructive action, but more attempts to shut down or divert oneself from this pain. It is not likely that the truth of one's humiliating oppression is going to energize one to constructive actions.
Has such a demoralization happened in the U.S.?
In the United States, 47 million people are without health insurance, and many millions more are underinsured or a job layoff away from losing their coverage. But despite the current sellout by their elected officials to the insurance industry, there is no outpouring of millions of U.S. citizens on the streets of Washington, D.C., protesting this betrayal.
Polls show that the majority of Americans oppose U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the taxpayer bailout of the financial industry, yet only a handful of U.S. citizens have protested these circumstances.
Remember the 2000 U.S. presidential election? That's the one in which Al Gore received 500,000 more votes than George W. Bush. That's also the one that the Florida Supreme Court's order for a recount of the disputed Florida vote was overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court in a politicized 5-4 decision, of which dissenting Justice John Paul Stevens remarked: "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." Yet, even this provoked few demonstrators.
When people become broken, they cannot act on truths of injustice. Furthermore, when people have become broken, more truths about how they have been victimized can lead to shame about how they have allowed it. And shame, like fear, is one more way we become even more psychologically broken.
U.S. citizens do not actively protest obvious injustices for the same reasons that people cannot leave their abusive spouses: They feel helpless to effect change. The more we don't act, the weaker we get. And ultimately to deal with the painful humiliation over inaction in the face of an oppressor, we move to shut-down mode and use escape strategies such as depression, substance abuse, and other diversions, which further keep us from acting. This is the vicious cycle of all abuse syndromes.
Do some totalitarians actually want us to hear how we have been screwed because they know that humiliating passivity in the face of obvious oppression will demoralize us even further?
Shortly before the 2000 U.S. presidential election, millions of Americans saw a clip of George W. Bush joking to a wealthy group of people, "What a crowd tonight: the haves and the haves-more. Some people call you the elite; I call you my base." Yet, even with these kind of inflammatory remarks, the tens of millions of U.S. citizens who had come to despise Bush and his arrogance remained passive in the face of the 2000 non-democratic presidential elections.
Perhaps the "political genius" of the Bush-Cheney regime was in their full realization that Americans were so broken that the regime could get away with damn near anything. And the more people did nothing about the boot slamming on their faces, the weaker people became.
What forces have created a demoralized, passive, dis-couraged U.S. population?
The U.S. government-corporate partnership has used its share of guns and terror to break Native Americans, labor union organizers, and other dissidents and activists. But today, most U.S. citizens are broken by financial fears. There is potential legal debt if we speak out against a powerful authority, and all kinds of other debt if we do not comply on the job. Young people are broken by college-loan debts and fear of having no health insurance.
The U.S. population is increasingly broken by the social isolation created by corporate-governmental policies. A 2006 American Sociological Review study ("Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks over Two Decades") reported that, in 2004, 25 percent of Americans did not have a single confidant. (In 1985, 10 percent of Americans reported not having a single confidant.) Sociologist Robert Putnam, in his 2000 book, Bowling Alone, describes how social connectedness is disappearing in virtually every aspect of U.S. life. For example, there has been a significant decrease in face-to-face contact with neighbors and friends due to suburbanization, commuting, electronic entertainment, time and money pressures and other variables created by governmental-corporate policies. And union activities and other formal or informal ways that people give each other the support necessary to resist oppression have also decreased.
We are also broken by a corporate-government partnership that has rendered most of us out of control when it comes to the basic necessities of life, including our food supply. And we, like many other people in the world, are broken by socializing institutions that alienate us from our basic humanity. A few examples:
Schools and Universities: Do most schools teach young people to be action-oriented -- or to be passive? Do most schools teach young people that they can affect their surroundings -- or not to bother? Do schools provide examples of democratic institutions -- or examples of authoritarian ones?
A long list of school critics from Henry David Thoreau to John Dewey, John Holt, Paul Goodman, Jonathan Kozol, Alfie Kohn, Ivan Illich, and John Taylor Gatto have pointed out that a school is nothing less than a miniature society: what young people experience in schools is the chief means of creating our future society. Schools are routinely places where kids -- through fear -- learn to comply to authorities for whom they often have no respect, and to regurgitate material they often find meaningless. These are great ways of breaking someone.
Today, U.S. colleges and universities have increasingly become places where young people are merely acquiring degree credentials -- badges of compliance for corporate employers -- in exchange for learning to accept bureaucratic domination and enslaving debt.
Mental Health Institutions: Aldous Huxley predicted today's pharmaceutical societyl "[I]t seems to me perfectly in the cards," he said, "that there will be within the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude."
Today, increasing numbers of people in the U.S. who do not comply with authority are being diagnosed with mental illnesses and medicated with psychiatric drugs that make them less pained about their boredom, resentments, and other negative emotions, thus rendering them more compliant and manageable.
Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is an increasingly popular diagnosis for children and teenagers. The official symptoms of ODD include, "often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rules," and "often argues with adults." An even more common reaction to oppressive authorities than the overt defiance of ODD is some type of passive defiance -- for example, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Studies show that virtually all children diagnosed with ADHD will pay attention to activities that they actually enjoy or that they have chosen. In other words, when ADHD-labeled kids are having a good time and in control, the "disease" goes away.
When human beings feel too terrified and broken to actively protest, they may stage a "passive-aggressive revolution" by simply getting depressed, staying drunk, and not doing anything -- this is one reason why the Soviet empire crumbled. However, the diseasing/medicalizing of rebellion and drug "treatments" have weakened the power of even this passive-aggressive revolution.
Television: In his book Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television (1978), Jerry Mander (after reviewing totalitarian critics such as George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Jacques Ellul, and Ivan Illich) compiled a list of the "Eight Ideal Conditions for the Flowering of Autocracy."
Mander claimed that television helps create all eight conditions for breaking a population. Television, he explained, (1) occupies people so that they don't know themselves -- and what a human being is; (2) separates people from one another; (3) creates sensory deprivation; (4) occupies the mind and fills the brain with prearranged experience and thought; (5) encourages drug use to dampen dissatisfaction (while TV itself produces a drug-like effect, this was compounded in 1997 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration relaxing the rules of prescription-drug advertising); (6) centralizes knowledge and information; (7) eliminates or "museumize" other cultures to eliminate comparisons; and (8) redefines happiness and the meaning of life.
Commericalism of Damn Near Everything: While spirituality, music, and cinema can be revolutionary forces, the gross commercialization of all of these has deadened their capacity to energize rebellion. So now, damn near everything – not just organized religion -- has become "opiates of the masses."
The primary societal role of U.S. citizens is no longer that of "citizen" but that of "consumer." While citizens know that buying and selling within community strengthens that community and that this strengthens democracy, consumers care only about the best deal. While citizens understand that dependency on an impersonal creditor is a kind of slavery, consumers get excited with credit cards that offer a temporarily low APR.
Consumerism breaks people by devaluing human connectedness, socializing self-absorption, obliterating self-reliance, alienating people from normal human emotional reactions, and by selling the idea that purchased products -- not themselves and their community -- are their salvation.
Can anything be done to turn this around?
When people get caught up in humiliating abuse syndromes, more truths about their oppressive humiliations don't set them free. What sets them free is morale.
What gives people morale? Encouragement. Small victories. Models of courageous behaviors. And anything that helps them break out of the vicious cycle of pain, shut down, immobilization, shame over immobilization, more pain, and more shut down.
The last people I would turn to for help in remobilizing a demoralized population are mental health professionals -- at least those who have not rebelled against their professional socialization. Much of the craft of relighting the pilot light requires talents that mental health professionals simply are not selected for nor are they trained in. Specifically, the talents required are a fearlessness around image, spontaneity, and definitely anti-authoritarianism. But these are not the traits that medical schools or graduate schools select for or encourage.
Mental health professionals' focus on symptoms and feelings often create patients who take themselves and their moods far too seriously. In contrast, people talented in the craft of maintaining morale resist this kind of self-absorption. For example, in the question-and-answer session that followed a Noam Chomsky talk (reported in Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, 2002), a somewhat demoralized man in the audience asked Chomsky if he too ever went through a phase of hopelessness. Chomsky responded, "Yeah, every evening . . ."
If you want to feel hopeless, there are a lot of things you could feel hopeless about. If you want to sort of work out objectively what's the chance that the human species will survive for another century, probably not very high. But I mean, what's the point? . . . First of all, those predictions don't mean anything -- they're more just a reflection of your mood or your personality than anything else. And if you act on that assumption, then you're guaranteeing that'll happen. If you act on the assumption that things can change, well, maybe they will. Okay, the only rational choice, given those alternatives, is to forget pessimism."
A major component of the craft of maintaining morale is not taking the advertised reality too seriously. In the early 1960s, when the overwhelming majority in the U.S. supported military intervention in Vietnam, Chomsky was one of a minority of U.S. citizens actively opposing it. Looking back at this era, Chomsky reflected, "When I got involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement, it seemed to me impossible that we would ever have any effect. . . So looking back, I think my evaluation of the 'hope' was much too pessimistic: it was based on a complete misunderstanding. I was sort of believing what I read."
An elitist assumption is that people don't change because they are either ignorant of their problems or ignorant of solutions. Elitist "helpers" think they have done something useful by informing overweight people that they are obese and that they must reduce their caloric intake and increase exercise. An elitist who has never been broken by his or her circumstances does not know that people who have become demoralized do not need analyses and pontifications. Rather the immobilized need a shot of morale.
I want to caution that I believe that, indeed, there are some people who do need to be on medication and that not all psychological medication is bad. That’s not my point in posting this article which centers more around his notion that debt and corporatism have created a society of compliant but sometimes unhappy people controlled by debt. They are happy when the bubble is growing and the prices of their “assets” are increasing, but the game is exposed for what it truly is when asset prices begin to fall.
We don’t have to accept this system as our fate. We do have the power to change it. Money, after all, is simply an invention of man which at its core is meant to be a medium of exchange so that we may all trade the fruits of our labors. Breaking free of the shackles of DEBT is entirely possible and achievable. Give it a try at the personal level, you will be far more likely to find happiness and meaning in your own life when you are no longer shackled! And together we will unshackle our nation for future generations, that is our intention.
Eric Clapton – Somewhere Over the Rainbow:
Friday, January 1, 2010
In 2008 Eric Sprott and David Franklin calculated that $2,041,000,000,000.00 of debt would have to be issued to "balance" the fiscal 2009 "budget".
Three times the debt issuance of 2008 or, as they put it: A 200% increase by each group purchasing treasuries.
No liability column gushes over with 2 TRILLION DOLLARS worth of red ink. It becomes blatantly apparent that any governmental servent referring to this ledger as a "budget" is absent of mind and scribbling in the ledger's column of the insane.
Gone is any and all grips with reality.
Add in the word "balanced" to this "budget" and without any doubt you have a very unbalanced politician.
Sprott and Franklin, like a handful of super financial bloggers, sliced up the debt that was issued in 2009 and categorized the buyers by group:"So who bought all the new Treasury securities to finance the massive increase in expenditures? According to the same report, there were three distinct groups that bought more than they did in 2008. The first was “Foreign and International Buyers”, who purchased $697.5 billion worth of Treasury securities in fiscal 2009 – representing about 23% more than their respective purchases in fiscal 2008. The second group was the Federal Reserve itself. According to its published balance sheet, it increased its treasury holdings by $286 billion in 2009, representing a 60% increase year-over-year.
So who was the third large buyer? Drum roll please,... it was “Other Investors”. After purchasing $90 billion in 2008, this group has purchased $510.1 billion of freshly minted treasury securities so far in the first three quarters of fiscal 2009. If you annualize this rate of purchase, they are on pace to buy $680 billion of US treasuries this year - or more than seven times what they purchased in 2008."
And who the buyers weren't:"So to answer the question - who is the Household Sector? They are a PHANTOM. They don’t exist. They merely serve to balance the ledger in the Federal Reserve’s Flow of Funds report."
The Simple Math Formula: Foreigners 698 billion + (Federal Reserve "financed" 286 billion + a Phantom "purchase" of roughly 704 billion) ='s The Federal Reserve "financed" about a trillion dollars.
Under the ledger column labeled "sane" there would be one entry for the foreign financed purchases. Personally, I'd question their motive of saving their investment by tossing good money after bad, but nonetheless it was indeed a purchase. Of course, let's not be terribly surprised should we see Alan Grayson questioning Ben Bernake a few months from now.
The exchange would go something like this, Grayson (heated and playing the part of his old attorney persona): "This entry for half a trillion given to foreigners, can you explain it?" Bernake (voice cracking but scoffing like his past persona, that of condescending professor): "Foreign governments were having difficulties of their own. Reduced demand would have put pressure on treasuries, so we,,, loaned,,,(yeah that's the word), the foreign central banks funds so they could purchase securities". Grayson: "Which countries did you give three quarters of a trillion to?" Bernake: Shrugs then states, "Central banks". He isn't intimidated by Grayson's "I'm going to strip your bark off" tone. Grayson after all is taking trillions of Bernake's funny money to fund his beloved Health Care Reform.
So let’s not mince words here: When it comes to Federal Reserve appearing in conjunction with the words "finance" and "phantom purchase" the scribble in the column of the insane becomes a Rorschach doodle of some nightmarish Steven King character.
Quantitative Easing is neither finance nor purchase. Quantitative Easing is counterfeiting. Counterfeiting is the only crime listed in the Constitution other than treason. Bernake and every member of Congress (read: just about everybody but Ron Paul) who allow this atrocity to continue should be tried for both.
We are on a absolute charted course to becoming the United States of Zimbabwe.
2010 will be a pivotal year: David Reilly over at Bloomberg did a good piece on Barney "I don't know what (my boyfriends) Marijuana plants look like" Frank's latest bill. I've seen roadkill decimated by eighteen wheelers that look prettier. It affords bankers another 4 trillion bucks the next time TSHTF. This guy must have aides look both ways before he crosses streets. One can only assume this is Geithner's 'Plan C' for when the 3.5 trillion dollar CRE meteor traveling 30,000 mph impacts planet earth and blows up what is left of the "economy"."Instead, it supports the biggest banks. It authorizes Federal Reserve banks to provide as much as $4 trillion in emergency funding the next time Wall Street crashes. So much for “no-more-bailouts” talk. That is more than twice what the Fed pumped into markets this time around. The size of the fund makes the bribes in the Senate’s health-care bill look minuscule.
Oh, hold on, the Federal Reserve and Treasury Secretary can’t authorize these funds unless “there is at least a 99 percent likelihood that all funds and interest will be paid back.” Too bad the same models used to foresee the housing meltdown probably will be used to predict this likelihood as well.
Another 4 trillion.
John Williams of Shadow Statistics has updated his forecast for when we could have a currency crisis and enter into hyperinflation based on the deficits and GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Practices) he sees hyperinflation as a distinct possibility within the next 12 months.
Reality: "Our biggest deficit is a leadership deficit", this according to David Walker.
Delusion: Secretary of Treasury Geithner says the recession is over.
President Obama agrees.
Upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize he has focused on adding expenses to our two wars, seven and eight years long now, which are looking more and more like Vietnam every day. A good leader would have declared victory, and packed up. I admire the US military, but the bottom line is if Gangas Kahn, Napoleon and Russia couldn't win then a 98 pound dripping wet Commander-in-Chief with no military experience stands no chance at all.
Bribing the Talaban with US tax dollars isn't going to tip the scales in our favor either.
He also sees Health Care and Cap and Tax as the most important issues. Two more nails in the nation’s economic coffin and one giant blundering pallbearers step into the grave itself.
Is David Walker wrong about the leadership deficit?
No offense to the Honorable Walker, who I admire and respect a lot, but a statement and actions like these indicate - without a shadow of a doubt - that neither of these names are worthy of the the words "leadership" or "deficit". Well meaning, misguided economically afoul creatures following the Keynesian fairytale of how things worked before they reached critical mass and began imploding - maybe. Delusional - closer. Falling under the ledger column titled insane is probably closer to reality.
Google "don't let a crisis go to waste" and .28 seconds later the top link out of 7.5 million search results is White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. I don't know if his name belongs scribbled in the column of the insane or if he should be nominated for the Nobel Prize of Missing the Biggest Crisis in History.
Making good, out of a bad crisis, is a super and admirable trait. Of course, the trick is that one has to have the ability to RECOGNIZE a crisis first. When you miss the biggest crisis in the history of the world --- who cares what your crisis motto is.
In Summary: Instead of assembling a team of the best and brightest (about 25 economic bloggers come to mind) to lead us out of this crisis our president has put together a team of proven failures. Failures with resumes littered with contributions of creating this economic nightmare. Ben Bernake who missed and disputed the biggest bubble in the history of the universe - the housing bubble. His donation of blowing money into that bubble was second only to Sir Alan Greenspan. Larry Summers, nuked Harvard's pension and endowment funds with a billion in derivatives and then jumped in and helped Robert Rubin and Alan Greenspan and Congress muzzle Bixley Born when she advocated derivative regulation. Recall that 1.5 trillion in derivatives blew up the economy in 2008. Remember that wave 2 (Alt-A's and Option Arms, another 1.5 trillion dollar wave is forecasted to reach shore in Q2 of 2010).
We have 1.6 quadrillion in unregulated derivatives, at least 200 trillion of that resides at banks in the United States. As John Williams states. "You can take 100% of peoples' income and corporate profit and you'd still be in a deficit. There's no way you can raise enough money in taxes. Our total debt is over 12 trillion, we have 106 trillion of debt which is Enronesqly stashed off balance sheet (under the column "certifiably insane") for "unfunded" (read: looted and long since spent by Congress) liabilities.
And we have "leaders" (read: unwitting financial terrorists) who are doing what they did to blow up the economy. The only difference from before and now is that this time they are calling it a fix this time.
No peaceful citizen relishes in the fact that they haven't elected the best and the brightest. Somehow I can't picture our forefathers grabbing teabags. When I ask myself what they would have done with these financial terrorist I see the vision of pitchforks and torches.
But hey: Don't let reality ruin your day.
Back at the beginning of the decade gold was roughly $280 an ounce, it closed the decade at $1,096 an ounce, a gain of 391%. The dollar index was 102, rose to 121 and closed the decade at 77.95, this is a 24% drop in the value of our dollar compared to a basket of other devaluing currencies, and is 36% below its decade high. As you view the following charts of equities, please keep this devaluation in mind. Had stocks remained LEVEL for the decade, the purchasing power of your money dropped considerably, thus representing REAL losses much greater than is represented below.
For the DECADE, the S&P 500 lost 24%, the DOW Industrials lost 9.2%, the NDX lost 49.7%, and the RUT gained 23.7%.
Since their respective ALL TIME HIGHS, the S&P gave back 29%, the DOW Industrials have lost 27%, the NDX lost 61%, and the RUT has lost 27%.
For the YEAR 2009, the S&P gained 23%, the DOW Industrials gained 19%, the NDX gained 53%, and the RUT gained 25%.
So much for buy and hold as an effective strategy, how many people actually realized anything close to the gains of this year? Very few I would wager. And considering the devaluation of our money, the losses over the past decade are staggering.
Since 2009 was the year of the Great Deception, I have to label the past decade as the decade of Paper. More DEBT was generated in the past decade, BY FAR, than in the entire previous history of the United States. This is exponential math at work.
As anyone who has ever spent some Time with the Good Dr. Bartlett knows, it requires very small growth rates over time to produce parabolic shaped curves on the back of exponential growth. All exponential growth eventually collapses under its own weight, that is simply what happens in nature and the markets and our money are a part of nature whether people want to acknowledge that or not.
The growth in debt (and money since our money is backed by debt), definitely experienced exponential growth during the past decade as the following charts show. Total Loans and Leases at Commercial Banks more than doubled during the past 10 years, growing by more than $3 Trillion, but beginning to fall during the past year, the beginning of the end of the parabolic phase in the private sector:
Meanwhile, public sector debt is experiencing a parabolic rise for the history books, again more than doubling during the past decade:
At this rate of exponential growth, the doubling times become shorter and shorter. Like all parabolic curves, this one, too, will collapse, that I can guarantee. How high it will go and how long it will take before it does begin to collapse, I can’t know, but I can surmise that it won’t be too much longer due to the fact that the ability of incomes to service even greater amounts of debt has already reached an end. This is a condition of saturation, a condition that came much sooner than most people realize.
The following two charts are extremely important, yet I’m certain that Bernanke has no understanding of what’s happening here. These charts show debt’s contribution to growth, in this case to GDP. You can clearly see that as we’ve gotten closer to saturation that putting debt into the system gets less and less effective. The trend line was saying that it would be the year 2015 when one dollar of new debt would add ZERO towards GDP.
Well, according to Christopher Rupe, a poster on Ticker Forum who tracks this information by the quarter and charts it, during the third quarter one dollar of debt produced NEGATIVE 15 cents worth of goods and services! We are already PAST ZERO HOUR. Hard to imagine, but adding debt now subtracts from the economy more than it offers - that's debt saturation! He gets his data straight from the Treasury and BEA, plugs it into his spreadsheet and viola, out comes a product that is of utmost importance, one that your government fails to track or report:
Think about that before you try to imagine what the next decade will be like. Understand, of course, that our money is backed by debt. Any light bulbs coming on? I hope so.
Because the math is so far from working, it is my prediction that some form of fundamental change to our money system is going to happen soon, very likely before the next decade is out.
Remember that as stress is encountered in one of the major asset classes, that asset class will convert to dollars and then flow to other classes of assets:
In this case we are seeing unbelievable stress in the “asset” class of DEBT. According to the Wall Street Journal :
Last Update: 12:27 PM ET Dec 31, 2009
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) – Treasury prices fell on the last day of 2009, pushing 10-year yields toward the biggest annual increase in 10 years, as weekly jobless-claims data boosted optimism that the U.S. economy is slowly stepping away from the deepest recession in decades.
Treasurys are headed for a 2.5% loss this month -- and the biggest annual loss since "Superman" and "Grease" hit movie theaters more than three decades ago.
"We will see higher long-term rates, limited inflation, improving economic conditions, a slowly improving dollar and a slow crawl upward in confidence" during 2010, said Kevin Giddis, managing director of fixed income for Morgan Keegan & Co.
That’s right, 2009 was the largest loss for long term bonds in the past 30 years. And rates on the long end rose the most of the decade in 2009!
Mr. Giddis sees higher rates, limited inflation, and improving economic conditions. What Nate Martin sees is exponential growth in the debt markets, a parabolic rise in bonds, and their subsequent collapse. I spelled all that out last year here: Bond Market Hide & Seek – A Domed House & 3 Peaks...
As far as the economy goes, there has been ZERO real improvement, all of the supposed “improvement” we’ve seen began to occur once the financial industry was allowed to resume mark to fantasy financial accounting and our government began creating debt like there’s no tomorrow:
Thus all supposed improvements over the past year, are paper only. All sectors of our economy are saturated with debt, our government is the only sector where debt is still growing. Once debt growth in that sector tops and begins its inevitable slide down the backside of that parabolic curve, that’s when, as they say, “the music stops.” The same “tune” will not be playing for your kids at your age. In fact, I will not be shocked or surprised when the music stops playing, it could happen at any time.
To witness what happens when the math goes exponential and when a parabolic curve collapses, one need only look at a long term chart of the NDX. Here it is since its inception:
This is a CLASSIC parabolic curve and subsequent collapse. This is what happens in nature, it is what happens to overpopulated organisms when their food runs out, and it the same thing that happens to companies when their credit runs out. This chart looks nearly identical to all the major credit collapses throughout history.
Since we’re talking some pretty long timeframes, we need to discuss the use of logarithmic charts. When the “log” button is selected on charts, it displays the movements in percentage move terms instead of keeping the scale equal. Almost all technicians use logarithmic functions when dealing with long timeframes. Nate is here to tell them that they need to occasionally turn those switches OFF. The reason is that they smooth charts out over time and HIDE exponential growth, the very thing that happens in nature and in the markets. When you have that log switch selected, you are not fooling nature, you are fooling yourself. Sometimes it needs to be on in order to view changes, but not all the time. Thus you will find that I present charts both ways, I try to tell you which I am using, but make sure you look at the top of my charts to see.
For example, below is a 110 year NON LOG chart of the DOW Industrials. Each candle represents an entire YEAR. Note how the exponential math led to a parabolic curve that is in the process of collapsing. Parabolic curves generally return all the way back to their base, but perhaps “this time will be different?”
Below is the same chart with the LOG function turned on. Now the collapse in 1929 can be seen, but the parabolic growth has been masked:
Here is a YEARLY NON LOG chart of the S&P 500 since 1928. Clearly a parabolic shaped rise that ended in a double top formation:
And this is what the same chart looks like with the log function turned on:
Which is the correct representation? Well, if you were a bunch of bunnies on an island who just ate yourself out of food, the non log chart would best represent reality. Stock markets and the debt and money behind them are no different. REAL growth does not occur based upon paper, it occurs based upon the cumulative productive efforts of the people. No, spitting out derivatives and marking them to model is not productive effort – it is counter-productive effort.
By the way, basing price to earnings ratios on “operating earnings” where “one time charges” are removed, is likewise not operating in reality. Keep that in mind and always ask yourself what type of P/E ratio are you looking at when comparing to history. You must compare apples to apples, and I can guarantee you that long term historic P/Es are NOT based upon operating earnings and that supposed “one time” write offs have never been so frequent. The chart below shows historic apples to apples. Yes, I expect that as we roll past the 4th quarter that this will fall dramatically, but it will still be at historic highs, not historic lows. Ignore if you will, that’s exactly what those who owned stock in Enron did:
I’d like to make a special note of the yearly hammers that were created on charts above. Are they positioned for a bottom, or are they a hammer near the top, and how valid are candlesticks on a yearly basis? I don’t have a clear answer for that, but I know that if I could show you a candlestick for the decade (the charts don’t have the ability), that it would have a very long stemmed top looking wick sticking high up into the air as prices rose and then retreated over the decade. I would not read too much into that, I just wanted to point it out prior to moving on.
Now let’s look at the major indices over the past decade…
Below is the DOW Industrials 10 year chart, each candle represents the price action over a month. We reached an all time high in late ’07 (many of the same divergences that were in place then are back in place now), collapsed, and subsequently retraced a little more than half the move on falling volume:
Below is the S&P 500 over the past decade. Clearly ran into a huge double top, collapsed, and retraced 50% to today, forming a rising wedge that has already broken:
Here is the past decade in the Transports. They are actually up during this timeframe, a divergence against the rest of the market, but still a very long way from their all time highs:
Here is the past decade in the NDX, obviously a disaster as the money bubbling underneath the tech stocks left just as quickly as it came:
And in the RUT (small caps) we find that they have gained for the decade, solely based on the recent paper induced bounce:
Below is the monthly chart of GLD, the gold based ETF since its inception in 2004. Up a huge amount, but this latest month was strongly down and on record volume:
The US Oil ETF, USO, has lost 67% of its value since its peak:
IYR, the commercial real estate fund lost 75% of its value from peak and has since regained a little more than 40% of its losses:
Very importantly, the XLF (financial sector ETF) has lost 83% of its value top to bottom and has only managed to regain about a third of its losses despite reinstating mark to fantasy accounting rules. The top 3 banks now dominate the industry to a before unimagined degree. Here you will find the source problems of our paper economy and the men who profit:
Below is the housing sector ETF, that’s where you will find the people living who pay the men who profit. A weak 23.6% retrace is all you’ll find in this bubble devastated wasteland of “wealth” destruction:
I have covered the bond markets pretty well in recent articles, but here’s another look at the past decade in the TNX, the ten year Treasury fund. Note the monthly close above the inverted H&S neckline. The target on that pattern is about 5.8%, well above the 30 year downtrend line for interest rates:
Below is the past decade in the IRX, very short term rates. This is where you see the waves of progressively lower FED induced rates rolling into and crashing upon the zero shoreline:
That’s about all I want to show for the last decade, it was one for the history books. As you look forward to the next decade you need to ask yourself if the problems that created that turmoil are gone or have they been fixed. My answer is that clearly they have not. The only thing left to do is to wait for the government to run out of their ability to take on and create more and more debt. That day is approaching, at some point the IMF, the same central bankers, will probably step in and offer to bail out the U.S. if only we agree to take a loan from their new “super bonds.” LOL, that is not a joke, but a sick and twisted form of modern slavery currently being hoisted upon the globe. It is my intention to see that that NEVER HAPPENS.
Since Friday was quite the rout for the last day of the year, let’s take a quick look at what’s happening shorter term…
The New Year is bound to bring some profit taking, the month of January has become a month to do so as gains from the prior year are booked. It may be that some of the large players are getting just a little bit ahead of the game.
Below is a one year chart of the DOW, non log. The majority of the year, since March, was spent building a rising wedge, a common wave B formation. The volume has been decreasing the entire duration of the rise, this is a clear sign that it is a bear market rally and not a true bull market where one would expect to find rising volume to confirm price. The RSI peaked back in August and has been diverging ever since. This is the largest RSI divergence that I can find of the past century. The weekly MACD, not shown, is rolling over from highly overbought conditions, a sign that a major top is nearing:
On the 3 month DOW chart below, you can see that on Friday prices descended back into the prior sideways range and closed the daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly candle below the lower boundary of that non log rising wedge. This was the last of the rising wedge hold outs to be broken, all the other indices, while rising are now well beneath their wedges. You can see that the daily stochastics are rolling over and have now exited overbought. The volume is simply pathetic and the rise above the flag is now just a throw-over, although I note that on the SPX the candle closed exactly on the top of the flag and did not make it back inside:
The VIX over the past 6 months has been forming a megaphone pattern of higher highs and lower lows. Since this pattern was entered from the top, it would be expected to reverse the direction and send this volatility reading higher. You can see the red lines I’ve drawn in a descending triangle that broke on Friday to the upside. This may signal that a trip to the top of the megaphone may have begun, but like all indicators needs confirmation by getting follow-through in the expected direction:
To those thinking that a real and honest economic recovery is underway, I believe that Supertramp wrote a song for you long ago…
Supertramp – Dreamer:
Happy New Year, everyone, and I sincerely hope your new year is better than any other!
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Stocks continued their upward momentum after the bell yesterday and are higher this morning. Below is the overnight action in the DOW and S&P futures:
The dollar is down pretty significantly overnight obviously correcting a little from is recent rise. Meanwhile the long bond is falling rather dramatically taking it to new recent lows. This is an important theme, again, the Fed is talking like they are pulling support, but the truth is that rates have been rising pretty much all along. Even after Bernanke announced QE, the TNX recovered quickly and just kept climbing. Many market callers will look at this as a normalization of rates, and normally it would be except that there’s just one little multi-trillion dollar problem, and that’s called debt saturation.
Oil reached $80 a barrel overnight and gold is higher, recovering most of the past two day’s fall.
Weekly Jobless claims came in lower than forecast at 432,000, this is 20k less than last week’s 452k number. As I read the Department of Labor’s report, I find in the unadjusted data that there were 557,000 claims for the week, down from 717,000 in the same week a year earlier. While this sounds like dramatic yoy improvement, what they fail to mention are the tens of thousands on emergency unemployment and that the combined totals are much higher, even with thousands of people each week exhausting all benefits. Here’s Econoday’s spin, you won’t hear them talk about that either:
Jobless claims point convincingly at strength in the labor market. Initial claims fell a very sizable 22,000 in the Dec. 26 week to 432,000 (prior week revised slightly higher to 454,000). Market News International says the Labor Department is comfortable with the week's results and is not warning about holiday-adjustment factors. The four-week average helps smooth out any week-to-week bumps and is clearly pointing to improvement at 460,250 for a decrease of more than 20,000 from a month ago. The four-week average is down 30 percent from its cycle peak in April at 658,750. Continuing claims, at 4.981 million, are down 57,000 in the latest week and down 27 percent from their cycle peak in June at 6.774 million.
Claims data offer a reliable barometer for the labor market and a powerful indication for the monthly employment report. Secondary indications have also been positive this month including improvement in the consumer's assessment of the labor market in Tuesday's Conference Board report and month-to-month gains for the employment indexes of Wednesday's Chicago report and the Philadelphia report at mid-month. The bears will be warning everyone of a pending double dip, but anticipation will be strong that next week's employment report will mark an end to the labor recession. Today's report should be good for risk trades.
An end to the “labor recession?” LOL, that would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Hopefully Point can update us with his chart of the combined totals.
Yesterday the total state tax data was released for the third quarter. Do we find that sales tax data is matching the claimed increases in retail sales? NO. Instead what we find is that State, Local Tax Revenues Decline 7%, according to the headline revenue data provided in the Wall Street Journal. But sales taxes declined a whopping 9% while incomes fell 12%! They also provide a state by state table showing that total tax collections nationwide are down 11% year over year. You simply cannot spin that positive, yet they try! They claim that taxes are a “trailing indicator.” That is NOT true for sales tax collections, they are real time and they cannot be easily massaged.
I think this shows that the overall economy is still down much more than people are being led to believe. A lot of that can be blamed on substitution bias. As stores go out of business and people fall off the unemployment rolls, then they are simply no longer counted. So you need to stand back and look at the total size of the transactions within the economy, NOT the trumped up GDP data which is just plain old fashioned false.
I have an article coming out later on the fallacy of gold and debt backed money, Bill Still has done a video on the subject as well. I think that’s going to smash a lot of myths and half-truths about the subject. Then it’s time to celebrate the coming New Year! I hope everyone has a good time, responsibly of course, and can put all this stuff on the back burner for a day.
In celebrating the year of the Great Deception, I dedicate this song to Ben Bernanke, Little Timothy Geithner, our President and all the politicians who “must get credit flowing again,” and to all the central bankers and their fellow DEBT pushers of the world! May the New Year bring you exactly what you deserve, you best get busy as you have $2.5 TRILLION in new and old debt to roll! And to all my fellow responsible citizens who see their nonsense for what it is, I hope you have a very Happy New Year!
Traffic - Dear Mr. Fantasy
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Asset Classes and Capital Flow2
I also created a version without the border color so that it can be more easily downloaded and printed:
Asset Classes and Capital Flow (.pdf)
Prison-based gerrymandering dilutes your vote
“There are many ways to hijack political power. One of them is to draw state or city legislative districts around large prisons — and pretend that the inmates are legitimate constituents.”—Brent Staples
Called prison-based gerrymandering, the practice finds its clearest example in Anamosa, Iowa where a large prison constituents almost an entire city council district. Council districts are supposed to contain the same number of people, but basing districts on non-voting non-resident prison populations gives a handful of residents the same political power as thousands of residents elsewhere in the city.
The Census Bureau counts people in prison as if they were residents of the communities where they are incarcerated, even though they remain legal residents of the places they lived prior to incarceration. As Census data is used to apportion political power at all levels of government, crediting thousands of disproportionately urban and minority men to other communities has staggering implications for modern American democracy.
In New York State, for example, one out of every three people who moved to upstate New York in the 1990s actually “moved” into a newly constructed prison. The State bars people in prison from voting, but their presence in the Census boosts the population of the upstate districts whose legislators favor prison expansion. Without this phantom population, 7 upstate New York State Senate districts would not meet minimum population requirements and would have to be redrawn.
Hard to believe that this type of horsepuckey is occurring in America TODAY. What an insult to the American people. I had no idea this was going on or how large of an affect it has. Simply another example where politicians prove that they will do anything to remain at the reigns of power, and yet another example of why some political reform is necessary in America today. Separating special interests' money from politicians is a great place to start, I hope everyone supports Freedom’s Vision, we’re still working hard on getting it organized – volunteers are needed.