by SWW - July 24th, 2011 12:02 am
U.S. Debt Ceiling Deadlock
One line of reasoning from the “no tax hikes” crowd is the inaccurate premise that the very wealthy, the top 0.1%, are job creators. If they’re the “job creators,” it might be in the public interest to protect them from excessive taxation – thereby allowing these top 0.1% to spend money on creating jobs. This is incorrect. The overwhelming majority of U.S. jobs are ‘created’ by ordinary Americans when they spend their paychecks. Consumer spending drives about 70% of our GDP. When average Americans are struggling with high unemployment, which recently popped back up to 9.2%, they are reluctant to spend money on anything beyond basic necessities. The broader U6 unemployment number – which includes the underemployed and “discouraged workers” – is 16.2%.
Meanwhile, U.S. companies are not stepping up hiring due to weakness in the economy – there is no demand. As Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics wrote, “Businesses aren’t confident enough, and the longer this goes on, the harder it is to convince them that they should be.” (Dearth of Demand Seen Behind Weak Hiring)…
Let Them Eat Cake
Russ Winter of Winter Watch at the Wall Street Examiner discussed the gap between what people think corporations pay in taxes, versus what they really spend. For example, Microsoft “lowers its effective tax rate a full 7% by taking foreign income to $19.2 billion from $15.4 billion, and lowering US income (and expenses) from $9.6 billion to $8.9 billion. Today MSFT is effectively a 68% foreign operation. In return it gets all the benefits of stimulus and minimizes the costs of supporting the US system…
“Mark Kreiger writes a spot on piece regarding the high end luxury bubble that includes this gem - ‘The social crisis facing the country as a result of the most egregious plundering in modern American history will spell the end of the ‘high end’ theme. Buying into this trend now is like getting long Marie Antoinette’s unsevered
by ilene - April 4th, 2011 11:54 pm
H/tip Jesse Cafe Americain
It’s over. They won.
by ilene - March 17th, 2011 3:45 pm
THE BANKS MUST BE RESTRAINED, AND THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM REFORMED, WITH BALANCE RESTORED TO THE ECONOMY, BEFORE THERE CAN BE ANY SUSTAINED RECOVERY – Jesse
I have long been a fan of Jesse’s Café Américain. Jesse is a brilliant writer and a deep thinker who uniquely transcends politics, easily seeing through lies and disinformation. He has a great feel for what really matters, and the courage to speak out about it. Jesse and I have spoken before about the economy, markets and politics, and being at a crossroads once again, it was a perfect time to catch up.
Ilene: Hi Jesse, since our last interview, I would guess that we’d both agree that nothing has been done to clean up the financial system – the banks and government interconnectedness, conflicts of interest, and out-and-out fraudulent activities. Are things better or worse, or in line, with what you were expecting over a year ago?
Jesse: I think things are progressing in line with what I had expected, with the Fed and the government trying to prop up an unsustainable status quo by monetizing debt. I am still a little shocked by the brazen manner in which the financial markets are being conducted and regulated, and the news is reported in the US. It is one thing to hold a theory that says something will happen, but it is quite another to see it actually happening, and so blatantly, almost without a word of protest.
Ilene: How do you view our financial system and the global financial system now, with no progress towards any kind of reform?
Jesse: The US is now being run by an oligarchy, with lip service being paid to the electorate in allowing the people to vote for the candidates that the parties and the powers will put forward. There will be no recovery for the middle class until they assert themselves. I know I have stated this often in my tag phrase, “The banks must be restrained…” But it is the case.
There are areas of resistance to this trend on what one might call ‘the fringes of Empire,’ those client states which have been ruled by powerful cliques with the support and the protection of the US. Although certainly not a great analogy, it does remind one of…
Are Liberals Driven By a Desire for Novel Pleasure and Conservatives by Fear of Pain? If So, How Does that Affect Investing, Politics and Happiness?
by ilene - March 10th, 2011 3:47 pm
Courtesy of George Washington’s Blog
Preface: This essay slams partisan liberals and partisan conservatives. If you think I’m unfairly criticizing "your" side, it might be because you’re falling into a self-destructive pattern of defending your narrow worldview, which is the whole point of this discussion.
In addition, I would bet that the "conservatives" showing fear are not really conservatives, but Republican party loyalists and authoritarians, and likewise the "liberals" showing a lack of discipline are not true progressives but naive, unthinking Democratic party loyalists. Indeed, some of the bravest people I’ve ever met are libertarians, and some of the most disciplined people I’ve ever met are progressives.
Remember, poll after poll shows that both national parties are deeply unpopular with an electorate looking for something new and different. It is those who love one of the two mainstream parties who are the extremists.
Numerous studies have claimed to show that conservatives tend to be more fearful than liberals.
For example, Wired reported in 2008:
In reflex tests of 46 political partisans, psychologists found that conservatives were more likely than liberals to be shocked by sudden threats.
Accompanying the physiological differences were deep differences on hot-button political issues: military expansion, the Iraq war, gun control, capital punishment, the Patriot act, warrantless searches, foreign aid, abortion rights, gay marriage, premarital sex and pornography.
"People are experiencing the world, experiencing threat, differently," said University of Nebraska political scientist John Hibbing. "We have very different physiological orientations."
The study, published today in Science, has not yet been duplicated, but adds a potentially troubling piece to the puzzle of biology, behavior and politics.
Earlier studies have linked reflexive responses to threats — which for testing purposes take the form of loud noises and graphic images — with existing states of heightened anxiety.
Though the Science study’s authors cautioned against an overly broad interpretation of their findings, the results suggest that fear leads to political conservatism.
Study co-author Kevin Smith, also a University of Nebraska political scientist … agreed that "people with stronger responses are more sensitive to potential threats in their environment."
And the Telegraph reported last December:
Scientists have found that people with conservative views have brains with larger amygdalas, almond shaped areas in the centre of the brain often associated with anxiety and emotions.
On the otherhand, they have a smaller anterior cingulate, an area at the front of the brain associated with courage and
by ilene - February 27th, 2011 8:22 am
Here’s the latest edition of Stock World Weekly: Irresistible Forces Meet Immovable Objects. - Ilene
On Saturday, February 27, the Security Council of the United Nations (UN) voted unanimously to institute sanctions on Libya, including travel bans and freezing the assets of Muammar al-Gaddafi and others associated with his regime. Protests have dragged into their twelfth day, and protestors refuse to yield in the face of utterly horrific retaliation by Gaddafi’s loyal forces. U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice said, “When atrocities are committed against innocents, the international community must act with one voice – and tonight it has.”
The Telegraph reported over the weekend that Gaddafi apparently made good on his threats to trigger a civil war, using irregular forces largely composed of hired mercenaries to launch a counterattack against protesters. “Anywhere we go there is danger,” said one woman, a 28-year-old mother of four who asked not to be named. “All we want is food and fresh water for our children but it is impossible to find. Security is the only concern of the authorities.”
An accurate report of the death toll is impossible to obtain at this time, but on Wednesday, Italy’s Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini said, “We believe that the estimates of about 1,000 are credible.” The situation in Libya has deteriorated since then. Multiple stories coming in from all over the country have cited dozens to hundreds of casualties in each city. It appears that Libya has slipped into the abyss of complete social breakdown and civil war.
This is just one example of the tide of popular unrest that has been unleashed in the wake of the Federal Reserve’s and other central banks’ inflationary policies. The chart below shows the U.S. Adjusted Monetary Base increasing from $1.75Tn in 2009, to $2.0Tn in 2010, and now nearing $2.3Tn, an increase of $300Bn in just two months! This represents an increase of 35% in less than 18 months. (The U.S. Monetary Base is the total amount of currency that is circulating in the hands of the public or in the commercial bank deposits held in reserves of member banks of the Federal Reserve System.)
by ilene - February 9th, 2011 3:49 pm
Courtesy of Mish
MarketWatch reports Paul slams Fed’s bond-buying program
Outspoken Federal Reserve critic Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, slammed the central bank’s latest $600 billion bond-buying program on Wednesday, saying it and near-zero interest rates haven’t led to job creation in the United States.
“Over $4 trillion in bailout facilities and outright debt monetization, combined with interest rates near zero for over two years, have not and will not contribute to increased employment,” Paul said at a hearing of a House Financial Services subcommittee he heads.
“Debt monetization” is a reference by Paul and other Fed critics to the Fed’s latest bond-buying program — a characterization rejected by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.
In essence, Paul is charging that the central bank is enabling profligate spending by the government. The term “debt monetization” is a buzzword for how some poorer countries conducted policies in the post-World War II era.
Political Pressure on Fed Mounts
WSJ’s Sudeep Reddy reports on concerns the Federal Reserve could be facing political pressure from Congress, as Rep. Ron Paul holds the first hearing of a new Fed oversight committee. Separately, Fed Chairman Bernanke updates Congress on the economy.
If the above YouTube does not play here is a link: Rep. Ron Paul Ignites Fed Worry
Buried One Mile Deep In Economic News: Rand Paul Proposes Elimination of HUD; Churches “Walk Away”; China Hard Landing; Repeal of Davis-Bacon
by ilene - January 27th, 2011 3:01 pm
Courtesy of MIsh
Many stories of significance have come my way on housing issues, state debt issues, federal debt issues, pension issues, and other economic items of note. I feel as if I am buried a mile deep news. Here are a few stories that caught my eye.
Senator Rand Paul Proposes Elimination of HUD
I am pleased to report a tremendous deficit cutting idea by senator Rand Paul: Eliminate Energy, HUD and most of Education department
In his first major legislative proposal, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has proposed cutting government spending by $500 billion in a year, including eliminating the Departments of Energy and Housing and Urban Development and most of the Department of Education.
That is the single best piece of fiscal legislation proposed in years.
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval Addresses Underfunded Public Pension Plans
While Illinois has jumped off the deep end with tax hikes, Nevada’s Governor says Tax increases last thing Nevada businesses need
Tax increases are the last thing Nevada businesses need now, Gov. Brian Sandoval told a receptive audience Wednesday during a speech to the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. "My understanding is that PERS is an $8 (billion) or $9 billion unfunded liability that Nevada can’t afford," he said. Sandoval said benefits reforms must starts with the new employees hired by the state.
I commend Governor Brian Sandoval’s ideas and his starting point. States need to scrap defined benefit pension plans for new hires immediately.
100,000 People in Oakland Expected to Apply for 650 Subsidized Housing Openings
The San Francisco Chronicle reports Oakland opens waiting list for Section 8 vouchers
Oakland’s housing authority opened up its waiting list Tuesday for Section 8 housing vouchers, drawing thousands for a coveted spot in line.
The only way to sign up was over a computer, so across the city, hundreds jammed into city libraries to fill out the forms in the hope that they might eventually get a chance to live in subsidized housing.
In the first three hours, 6,000 people filled out applications. Over the five-day application period, the housing authority expects 100,000 people to apply for only 10,000 spots on the waiting list.
The housing authority uses a lottery to determine who gets on the list. And even then it’s no more than a foot in the door. It has taken nearly five years to clear the waiting list that was
by ilene - January 27th, 2011 2:38 pm
The majority report finds fault with two Fed chairmen: Alan Greenspan, who led the central bank as the housing bubble expanded, and his successor, Ben S. Bernanke, who did not foresee the crisis but played a crucial role in the response. It criticizes Mr. Greenspan for advocating deregulation and cites a “pivotal failure to stem the flow of toxic mortgages” under his leadership as a “prime example” of negligence.
Anyone else running out tomorrow to get a copy?
Like the 9/11 Commission, we could have saved a whole lot of money and time by simply verifying alternative media claims instead of starting from scratch as if no one knew anything all along.
by ilene - January 27th, 2011 2:33 pm
By Elliott Wave International
Since its creation in 1913, the primary intended role of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank has been that of protector. In theory, the central bank was bestowed with the power to shape monetary policy in a way that would keep both booms and busts in check. The two main tools at its disposal — interest rates and money creation — would provide a "ceiling of normalcy" above expansions AND a "net of safety" below contractions.
To this day, the financial mainstream holds great faith in the Fed’s ability to fulfill its save-the-day duties — as these recent news items make plain:
- "Why Raising Fed Funds Rate Is Positive For Equities." (Seeking Alpha)
- "Fed’s Moves Lift All Asset Classes." (Associated Press)
- "US Stocks Erasing Losses: The aggressive moves of the Fed have been an important driver for the stabilization of stock prices." (Bloomberg)
But of all the variables the Fed creators took into account, there’s one glaring factor they neglected to consider: Namely, it cannot force consumers to spend, creditors to lend, or businesses to borrow. The events of 2007-2009 "credit crunch" and the subsequent "Great Recession" made that obvious. Remember how the government was upset at banks for sitting on the bailout funds instead of lending them out to consumers? And consumers weren’t exactly lining up on the street to get a loan, either.
The Fed’s inability to change social mood is the central theme in Chapter 13 of EWI President Bob Prechter’s NY Times business bestseller book Conquer the Crash. There, Bob describes the Fed’s strategy of lowering the federal funds rate to stimulate spending to be as effective as "pushing on a string." Writes Bob:
"The primary basis for today’s belief in perpetual prosperity and inflation with an occasional recession is what I call the ‘Potent Directors Fallacy.’ It is nearly impossible to find a treatise on macroeconomics today that does not assert or assume that the Federal Reserve Board has learned to control both our money and our economy. Many believe that it also possesses the immense power to manipulate the stock market. The very idea that it can do these things is false."
by ilene - January 27th, 2011 1:57 am
Courtesy of Jesse’s Americain Cafe
It amazes me that the discussion on change centers on ‘improving competitiveness’ when the crisis was caused by a massive financial fraud and political and regulatory failure that goes largely unresolved and unrepaired, sucking the life out of the real economy and spreading corruption of thought and action. Slogans and code words are the substance of the public policy discussion in the US and Europe, and I think with the intent to deceive, a propaganda campaign. The mainstream media in the States is owned by a handful of powerful corporations. But fewer and fewer turn to the mainstream media anymore.
"In addition, any economist will tell you that when the free market fails a black market emerges. The blogs are the black market of information."
David B. Collum, Cornell University
As for competitiveness, the current global trade regime is underpinned with and founded on a fraud, a set of managed currencies pinned to the US dollar and under the control of a banking cartel. There is no real free trade, only an illusion of such, promoted by the rapacity of multinational corporations and their partners in authoritarian governments.
The only real competition I can see is the race to destroy the middle class and reduce the public around the world to the least common denominator of slavery, serfdom, and servitude, with the dollar and the jackboot as their weapons.
From Mark Thoma:
"Eliminating regulation: The idea is that removing unnecessary regulation will improve our ability to innovate, and this will help the economy create new, good jobs. However, it wasn’t lack of innovation or lack of competitiveness that got us into this mess, it was an out of control financial sector.
The President talked about eliminating unnecessary regulation, but far too little was said about the need to implement new regulations where they are needed. In addition, by focusing so much on helping business, the president risks sending the message that what is good for business is necessarily good for the nation. (Risk? As the risk of sounding snarky, that is the reason for the season. It was the corporate FIRE sector that caused the financial crisis in the first place. – Jesse)
Businesses need the right environment to thrive, but we must not lose sight of the fact that it’s the skills of the people that work at businesses that matters most. Our ultimate goal is the best possible life for