by ilene - April 16th, 2014 11:52 am
One place you'll find inflation--meat prices.
Edd Hendee reached into the chilled glass case containing cold cuts of steak, the classic Texas entrée upon which he built his restaurant and his fortune, proudly showing off his merchandise like a jeweler displaying his diamonds.
“This is a center cut filet,” he said. “It’s the very best filet you can possibly buy. And that’s why it’s expensive.”
And lately, at the Taste of Texas restaurant in west Houston, it’s become even more expensive.
“When the price goes from just under $20 a pound to us wholesale to almost $25 a pound, that’s almost a $5 increase in this steak to me,” Hendee said. “I had to pass some of that along to the customers.”
Indeed, Hendee estimates his menu prices have risen roughly 20 percent in the last 18 months, as beef has hit its highest price in almost three decades.
A good steak hasn’t cost this much in America since Ronald Reagan was president. A dwindling number of cattle and growing export demand from countries such as China and Japan have caused the average retail cost of fresh beef to climb to $5.28 a pound in February, up almost a quarter from January and the highest price since 1987.
by phil - April 16th, 2014 11:21 am
Thank God for people like Sanders – there's so few of them left:
“Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are ten righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the ten righteous people in it?" – Genesis 18:22
by ilene - April 16th, 2014 10:11 am
Submitted by Tyler Durden.
Not much to add here that we haven't already said before about the state of demand for housing by the ordinary American.
First it was Wells Fargo:
Then it was JPMorgan:
Then it was Citigroup:
And now, it is Bank of America.
Remember when bank success (and profitability) depended on them lending such trivial things as mortgages so they could arb the Net Interest Margin (which incidentally also tumbled to a record low for Bank of America)? Good times…
In other news, the "housing recovery" is now complete.
Gold Doomed or Resting? Gold vs. Major Currencies; Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley Reiterate Sell Signal
by ilene - April 16th, 2014 2:17 am
Courtesy of Mish.
Here are some interesting charts from my friend Nick at Sharelynx Gold. (Login Required)
Gold vs. US Dollars
Gold vs. Euros
Gold vs. Ukraine Hyyvnia
It took about 4,000 Hyyvnia to buy an ounce of gold at the end of 2008. It takes 17,444 now.
Gold vs. Russia Rubles
Gold vs. India Rupees
by ilene - April 15th, 2014 7:23 pm
Courtesy of Mish.
In response to France Prohibits Sending Work Emails, Answering Cell Phones, Outside Working Hours one reader strenuously objected.
After exchanging numerous emails, his main objection was the accuracy of the title itself “France Prohibits Sending Work Emails, Answering Cell Phones, Outside Working Hours.”
Here is the exact headline of the La Vanguardia article that I translated “France prohibits sending mails from work outside working hours“.
The reader’s big objection? Claiming “France” did this.
Similarly, the Guardian received a lot of flak for its report When the French clock off at 6pm, they really mean it.
The Guardian originally had the number of people affected at 1,000,000. They corrected it to 250,000 and posted this correction.
This article was amended on 11 April 2014. An earlier version stated that the labour deal would affect “a million employees” and require staff “to switch off their phones after 6pm”. The deal obliges staff to “disconnect” from work calls and emails after working hours to ensure they receive the full minimum rest periods already mandated in French employment regulations but there is no particular time at which they are required to do so. While the deal was signed by unions representing 1 million employees, it will affect only 250,000 workers directly.
The article I quoted did not mention a time of day or the number of people affected. Thus, I did not have several errors that were present in the Guardian report.
Moreover, I know how these things start. In my opinion, this will quickly cascade, to numerous other unions.
Duty to Disconnect
A Translation on Les Echos speaks of the “duty to disconnect communication tools at a distance” to ensure that the minimum rest periods imposed by the French and European regulations on workload and minimum rest time.
by ilene - April 15th, 2014 5:29 pm
Submitted by Tyler Durden.
We previously noted that both beef and pork (courtesy of the affectionately named Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus) prices have been reaching new all time highs on an almost daily basis. It is time to update the chart. Below we show what a world in which the Fed is constantly lamenting the lack of inflation looks like for beef prices…
… and shrimp.
More from Bloomberg:
Prices for shrimp have jumped to a 14-year high in recent months, spurred by a disease that’s ravaging the crustacean’s population. At Noodles & Co., a chain with locations across the country, it costs 29 percent more to add the shellfish to pastas this year, and shrimp-heavy dishes at places like the Cheesecake Factory Inc. are going up as well.
Restaurant chains, already struggling with shaky U.S. consumer confidence, are taking a profit hit as prices climb. Even worse, the surge is happening during the season of Lent, when eateries rely on seafood to lure Christian diners who abstain from chicken, beef and pork on certain days.
“It’s coming at a tough time for the industry,” said Andrew Barish, a San Francisco-based analyst at Jefferies LLC. “With the Lenten season, what you’ll see out there is a lot of promotions with seafood, and usually shrimp is a big part of that.”
In March, shrimp prices jumped 61 percent from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The climb is mainly due to a bacterial disease known as early mortality syndrome. While the ailment has no effect on humans, it’s wreaking havoc on young shrimp farmed in Southeast Asia, shrinking supplies.
James Johnson, a Jewel-Osco supermarket shopper in Chicago, has noticed the price increase. He’s been cutting back on one of his favorite dishes — shrimp and potato soup — because of the cost.
“I haven’t made it in a while,” the 29-year-old said. “Shrimp looks expensive.”
At Noodles, it now costs $3.34 to add
by ilene - April 15th, 2014 3:59 pm
Courtesy of Robert Reich
It’s tax time again, April 15, when our minds turn toward paying the taxes we owe or possibly getting a tax refund. But what we don’t think about enough is whether our tax system is fair. The richest 1 percent of Americans are now getting the largest percent of total national income in almost a century. So you might think they’d pay a much higher tax rate than everyone else.
But you’d be wrong. Many millionaires pay a lower federal tax rate than many middle-class Americans.
Some don’t pay any federal taxes at all. That’s because they‘re allowed to deduct from their taxable income such things as large interest payments on mortgages for huge homes, also the costs of business entertainment and conferences (aka vacations at golf resorts), and gold plated health care plans.
Some also take advantage of tax loopholes that let them park some of their earnings in offshore tax havens like the Bahamas or the Netherlands Antilles.
And other loopholes that allow them to treat some income as capital gains – subject to a much lower tax rate than ordinary income. If you happen to be a hedge-fund or private-equity manager, there’s a capital gains loophole designed especially for you.
Consider the Social Security payroll tax and the situation is even more lopsided. That tax applies to every dollar of income up to a cap — which this year is $117,000. Anything earned above the cap is not subject to Social Security taxes at all – meaning anyone with a high income pays a much smaller percentage of it in Social Security taxes than most people do.
Put these all together and you see why Warren Buffet, the second richest person in America, pays a lower tax rate than his secretary, as he readily admits.
State and local taxes are even more regressive. The poorest fifth of Americans pay an average state and local tax rate of over 11 percent, while the richest fifth pay only 5.6 percent. This isn’t
by ilene - April 15th, 2014 1:56 pm
Courtesy of Mish.
Today the government of Ukraine moved with force against the separatists, evoking a Specter of Civil War.
Ukraine unleashed an offensive to dislodge militants from towns in its eastern Donetsk region as the authorities in Kiev said elements of Russian special forces were identified among the anti-government forces.
Four militants were killed and two wounded when Ukrainian troops stormed an airport in Kramatorsk, taking it under control, Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news service reported. Ukrainian units backed by armored personnel carriers blocked all approaches to the town of Slovyansk, RIA said, citing an a pro-Russian activist, Sergey Tsyplakov. Part of Russia’s 45th Airborne Regiment was spotted in both of the towns, Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister Vitali Yarema said on Channel 5.
The U.S. and EU states say Russia is behind the turmoil that has fueled their worst standoff since the Cold War. Russia, which NATO says has 40,000 troops massed on Ukraine’s border, denies involvement and says the government in Kiev isn’t protecting Russian-speaking citizens. In warnings similar to those that preceded its annexation of Crimea last month, it insists it has the right to protect them with force if needed.
40,000 Troops – Where Are They?
Countless times over the past few weeks the US, NATO, and EU spoke of mass buildup of Russian forces on the Ukraine border. OK so where are the troops?
Pater Tenebrarum at Acting Man notes Putin’s Army Still Hiding – Not Even CNN Can Find It
While it certainly appears possible that Russian special forces are lending a helping hand to the separatist movements in the Eastern Ukraine, we can continue to be quite sure that NATO is telling tall tales about the alleged ‘massing of Russian troops’ at the border with the Ukraine. Shortly after we noted that a UK journalist was unable to find Putin’s army anywhere near the border, NATO published satellite pictures that seemed to prove the opposite.
The Russians averred that while these pictures were quite real, they were also outdated, showing the situation at the time drills were taking place last August. It seems they were telling the truth. CNN has sent a team of reporters to the areas where NATO asserted the troops are stationed,
by ilene - April 15th, 2014 11:49 am
Courtesy of Pam Martens.
In the past two years, two of the most senior, long-tenured and talented women at JPMorgan, Ina Drew and Blythe Masters, have bid adieu to the bank and its CEO, Jamie Dimon, under less than ideal circumstances. Questions are now emerging as to whether Dimon required that these senior supervisors hold proper industry licenses for the work they performed for the bank.
Ina Drew, the former head of the Chief Investment Office, who supervised the traders responsible for losing $6.2 billion of the bank’s deposits in exotic derivatives trading in London, resigned from the firm over that firestorm on May 14, 2012. Drew had been with JPMorgan and its predecessor banks for 30 years.
In Drew’s testimony before the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on March 15, 2013, Drew told the hearing panel that beginning in 1999, she “oversaw the management of the Company’s core investment securities portfolio, the foreign-exchange hedging portfolio, the mortgage servicing rights (MSR) hedging book, and a series of other investment and hedging portfolios based in London, Hong Kong and other foreign cities.”
Drew told the Senate Committee that the investment securities portfolio exceeded $500 billion during 2008 and 2009 and as of the first quarter of 2012 was $350 billion. But during the 13 years that Drew supervised massive amounts of securities trading, she had neither a securities license nor a principal’s license to supervise others who were trading securities.
We asked numerous Wall Street regulators to explain how this is possible at today’s too-big-to-fail banks. One regulator who spoke on background only told us that Drew could not hold a securities license because she worked for the bank not its broker-dealer. Only employees of broker-dealers are allowed to hold securities licenses. But apparently, not having a securities license does not stop one from supervising a $500 billion portfolio of securities that are, most assuredly, traded by someone.
by ilene - April 15th, 2014 10:57 am
Courtesy of The Automatic Earth
National Photo Co. The House Without Children, Poli’s theater, Washington DC 1920