Posts Tagged ‘Charles Hugh Smith’

“National Security:” A Global Police State-Within-a-State

"National Security:" A Global Police State-Within-a-State 

Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds 

The Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) has spawned a national security "state-within-a-state" with essentially unlimited funding and support of America’s political machine. This National Security State has infected domestic policing and courts; it is both ubiquitous and completely unaccountable.

The Democrats and Republicans have enthusiastically joined hands to create a global police/national security state-within-a-state of unimaginable reach and power.  Frequent contributor Michael Goodfellow sent me this investigative report, which I consider one of the most important of the decade: Top Secret America: A hidden world, growing beyond control (Washington Post).

Let’s go back briefly to September 1, 2001, before the 9/11 attack. The national security "assets" of the nation had all the information needed to stop the attack. The various agencies did not stop the attack because there was essentially zero coordination and data-sharing between the CIA, NSA and FBI.

This was laid out in the PBS program The Spy Factory.

Now the national security "assets" have metastasized into a gargantuan national security state-within-a-state--and the exact same problem not only exists, it has become even more intracable.

Now that the national security state (NSS) has become much larger and even more unwieldy, coordination, collaboration and data-sharing have been rendered essentially impossible. This report makes that absolutely clear.

Rather than fix the problem of coordinating our national security assets, the Federal government and its leaders have amplified the problem. At the same time, they have created a monster which is beyond the control of elected officials or the citizenry, a secretive state-within-a-state which protects itself behind the inpenetrable shield of "national security" and "need to know."

The national security state is the ultimate protected fiefdom. Cutting one dollar of funding would be instantly characterized as "weakening our fight against global terrorism," as would any limits on the NSS’s powers.

This is in effect a new arm of the "military-industrial complex" which dwarfs the power of the traditional military-industrial complex: "defense" contractors and the revolving door between the DoD (Department of Defense) and these Pentagon-dependent industrial corporations.

GWOT is the perfect defense for a state-within-a-state that is insatiable and beyond accountability. Even simple inquiries are quickly dismissed as "dangerous"--as if global terrorists would glean some useful information from knowing just how many hundreds of billions of dollars are being spent tracking them.

What’s essential to our…
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The Con of the Decade Part II

The Con of the Decade Part II 

Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith Of Two Minds 

(Part I here)

The con of the decade (Part II) involves sheltering the Power Elites’ income while raising taxes on the debt-serfs to pay the interest owed the Power Elites.

The Con of the Decade (Part II) meshes neatly with the first Con of the Decade. Yesterday I described how the financial Plutocracy can transfer ownership of the Federal government’s income stream via using the taxpayer’s money to buy the debt that the taxpayers borrowed to bail out the Plutocracy.

In order for the con to work, however, the Power Elites and their politico toadies in Congress, the Treasury and the Fed must convince the peasantry that low tax rates on unearned income are not just "free market capitalism at its best" but that they are also "what the country needs to get moving again."

The first step of the con was successfully fobbed off on the peasantry in 2001: lower the taxes paid by the most productive peasants marginally while massively lowering the effective taxes paid by the financial Plutocracy.

One Year Later, No Sign of Improvement in America’s Income Inequality Problem:

Income inequality has grown massively since 2000. According to Harvard Magazine, 66% of 2001-2007′s income growth went to the top 1% of Americans, while the other 99% of the population got a measly 6% increase. How is this possible? One thing to consider is that in 2001, George W. Bush cut $1.3 trillion in taxes, and 32.6% of the cut went to the top 1%. Another factor is Bush’s decision to increase the national debt from $5 trillion to $11 trillion. The combination of increased government spending and lower taxes helped the top 1% considerably.

The second part of the con is to mask much of the Power Elites’ income streams behind tax shelters and other gaming-of-the-system so the advertised rate appears high to the peasantry but the effective rate paid on total income is much much lower.

The tax shelters are so numerous and so effective that it takes thousands of pages of tax codes and armies of toadies to pursue them all: family trusts, oil depletion allowances, tax-free bonds and of course special one-off tax breaks arranged by "captured" elected officials.

Step three is to convince the peasantry that $600 in
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Charles Hugh Smith: Surviving the Next 20 Years

Richard Metzger of Dangerous Minds interviews Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two MindsIlene

Charles Hugh Smith: Surviving the Next 20 Years

Courtesy of Richard Metzger
 

Author Charles Hugh Smith discusses his latest book Survival+, an indispensable guide to understanding global turmoil and transformation, weaving a full spectrum of intellectual disciplines—history, political economy, ecology, energy demands, marketing, investing, health and the psychology of happiness—into a uniquely comprehensive book that offers practical principles, not just for surviving, but prospering in the difficult decades ahead.

 


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The U.S. Dollar: Chart Points to Reversal/Major Rally

The U.S. Dollar: Chart Points to Reversal/Major Rally

Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith Of Two Minds

Having stealthily formed a bottom, the dollar’s chart looks like May-July 2008, just before it blasted off.

The obituaries on the dollar are flying fast and furious, but they are premature. Astute reader Robert L. asked for my views on the dollar losing its coveted reserve status in pricing global commodities. It seems to me there is plenty of sound and fury being expended on wild speculations about secret meetings and the looming demise of the once-mighty dollar but precious little illumination.

Rather than focus on "maybe’s," let’s look at a chart of the dollar from the point of view of basic technical analysis. Charts have the distinct advantage of not even pretending to reflect the fundamentals--whatever they might be.

I have written quite often on the dollar over the years--most recently:
Why The Dollar May Not Be Doomed (September 24, 2009)
Inflation, Commodity Prices and the Dollar (September 29, 2009)

I refer you to three entries I wrote in the March-early August 2008 timeframe for one good reason: the dollar exploded upward in August, gaining 22% in a mere four months. I laid out the case for just such a reversal in these entries:
A Technical Look at the U.S. Dollar’s Decline (March 11, 2008)
Has the Faltering Dollar Reached Maximum Pessimism? (May 6, 2008)
How Goes the Dollar? (August 7, 2008)

Notice how the chart in March-July 2008 looks eerily similar to the last few months in the dollar chart. The dollar stumbled along for a miserable five months in 2008 (March – July) before reversing, and the stochastic has been oversold for the past five months.

Negative sentiment also reached an extreme in the 2008 timeframe--and here we are again, with dollar bulls a nearly extinct species, limping along in the single digits (i.e. 91+% are bearish and 9-% are bullish).

US Dollar

1. Note the previous period of extreme negative sentiment. That 22% rally in the following four months works out to a 66% annualized return.

2. Note the divergence in the MACD and the strong possibility of a positive cross in MACD.

3. Note the five months of oversold stochastics. From one technical point of view,…
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Unemployment: The Gathering Storm

Here’s a worrisome essay by Charles Hugh Smith on the future trend in employment, supported by numbers and logic. Makes you wonder how green shoots can be sustained in this environment. - Ilene

Unemployment: The Gathering Storm

storm clouds gathering Pictures, Images and Photos

Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith’s Of Two Minds 

Officially, 14.9 million Americans are unemployed. That number will double.

The number of people who are unemployed is almost unimaginable: 15 million. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s August 2009 Employment Situation Report, 14.9 million persons are unemployed, 9.1 million are "working part time for economic reasons," and 2.3 million are "marginally attached to the labor force," i.e. they wanted a job but have not actively looked for a job in the past four weeks.

That totals 26.3 million people unemployed or under-employed. In January of this year, the Standard Issue Financial Punditry (SIFP) was parroting "official estimates" that the economy would lose 2 million jobs during this recession. I dismantled that absurd fantasy with an analysis of the employment situation which concluded that 21 million jobs lost is actually an optimistic guesstimate compared to what could transpire in the years ahead--a gradual evaporation of 30-35 million jobs. Sadly, the current numbers fall into the range that I suggested was realistic. (The End of (Paying) Work, January 21, 2009)

We need to understand the dynamics behind the unemployment numbers.

1. Some unemployment is normal; people lose a job or quit and then find another one, usually within six months--at least in times of prosperity. So even in prosperity, 5 to 6 million people are "between jobs" and thus officially unemployed while they draw unemployment benefits.

Thus at least 5 million of the 15 million currently unemployed are "baseline" unemployed, the normal shifting and adjusting of thousands of enterprises and 137 million workers (the size of the civilian workforce as of December 2008).

So while the "official" estimate was 2 million people would lose their jobs due to recession, the actual number is already 10 million. At least 2.3 million have given up looking and 9 million more have had their hours slashed. Note to Ministry of Propaganda: you really need to align slightly with reality or you lose all credibility.

Ministry of Propaganda

2. The BLS estimates the number of jobs created by the "birth" of new small businesses which it assumes are flying beneath…
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How Low Can We Go?

How Low Can We Go?

how low can we go?Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds

The six-month long global stock market is losing steam, which begs the question: how low can we go?

Is this a new Bull market or just another typical Bear Market rally? Let’s look at two charts for clues.

First, read the HUGE GIANT BIG FAT DISCLAIMER below: these are the free rantings of an amateur ignoramous, etc. etc.

Before we glance at the charts, let’s ask: has anything really been fixed in the global financial markets and economy, or have all the problems just been papered over with trillions in central bank bail-outs, loan guarantees, stimulus and bogus accounting/statistical lies?

The VIX is one measure of volatility or what is sometimes called "the fear index." When confidence reigns supreme (with an emphasis on the "con") then the market players see no reason to bid up options to protect themselves from potential drops into the abyss. So when confidence is high then the VIX is low and stable:

VIX

When the wheels finally fell off the MSM/central bank fantasy that "subprime is under control" then fear sprouted wings and the VIX soared.

Judging by the VIX’s return to the low-to-mid 20s, then confidence has returned in full force and the fears of a global meltdown have vanished.

Nice, but what if nothing has really been fixed? What if market participants sniff out that everything’s just been swept under the rug? What if the $7 trillion commercial real estate market in the U.S. is about to slip into the abyss of domino defaults?

The Shanghai market’s sudden 10% drop in only two days suggests not all global players are convinced.

The MACD on the VIX is crossing at a very low level, suggesting a lengthy period of rising volatility could be upon us. The stochastic has been rising for awhile now, having made a bullish cross last month.

In sum: the VIX seems to be warning us low volatility may be giving way to higher volatility.

Here’s a chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average:

DJIA

One fairly predictable pattern in any market chart is that price tends to oscillate between the upper and lower Bollinger band. I’ve marked this trait with small blue lines.

When markets are trending strongly, they can ride the Bollinger bands up or down. But if this is once again…
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Denial and Risk

Denial and Risk  

global meltdownCourtesy of Charles Hugh Smith’s Of Two Minds

You may have forgotten all about the LIBOR rate. This London-based interbank lending rate was in the news daily during 2008′s global financial meltdown, for it was widely taken as an accurate measure of risk appetite and perception. As fears of a global meltdown rose, the LIBOR rate skyrocketed.

Less than a year later (the rate topped October 10, 2008, at 4.81875%), Libor Rate Falls to Record Low (WSJ.com).

The rate is now 0.22813%, the lowest on record since the British Bankers’ Association launched the LIBOR back in 1986.

In other words, the risks of a global financial disruption are now perceived as near-zero. The reason is rather obvious: governments around the world effectively "backstopped" all losses with their own money--either drawn from reserves, borrowed or printed.

This is significant for a number of reasons. Some lenders use the LIBOR rate in their formula for adjusting ARMs--adjustable rate mortgages. A low LIBOR rate and low interest rates translate into dropping rates for ARM holders. That’s good news for borrowers facing re-sets.

But is the super-low LIBOR rate a reflection of global financial risk dropping to zero, or is it a misplaced confidence in government’s ability to manage all systemic risk by guaranteeing that "no large banking institution will lose money risked anywhere in any market because we will transfer all that risk to the government and its taxpayers"?

These are two quite different propositions.

In the first case, the market is betting that the global financial markets are entirely, systemically healed--in fact, the risk of anything untoward happening are the lowest since 1986.

In the second case, the markets "know" the risk is still high, but they get to play like there is no risk because governments will "backstop" their bets--they literally cannot lose because the government will step in and buy the soured loans and bets or enable bogus "mark to fantasy" accounting which effectively masks the bad bets.

Denial of risk is not the same as low risk.

The fundamental denial is that government (be it the U.S., U.K., P.R.C. (Chinese) or any other government) can borrow or print essentially unlimited funds to backstop private bets and fund government deficits with no consequences.

There will be consequences--cause and effect have not been repealed by Bernanke and Geithner.

Denial will not resolve the…
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“Business as Usual”: Legitimizing the Illegitimate

Very interesting, thought-provoking article.

Business as Usual: Legitimizing the Illegitimate

Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith Of Two Minds

A key goal of the status quo is to label illegitimate looting and fraud as "business as usual."

One of the key goals of the status quo’s propaganda is to convince the target audience that fraud, deception, obfuscation and looting have always been "business as usual" and thus protests are specious. The key technique employed to accomplish this goal is to derealize U.S. history, depriving the target audience (the U.S. citizenry) of any context that does not support the soothing contention that "everybody has always cheated, there’s nothing new under the sun, politicians have always been crooks," etc.

Any history which suggests that the present era of fraud, debauchery of credit, State over-reach and Plutocratic excess is unprecedented or parallels moments in U.S. history which were immediately followed by financial collapse, strife and war is dismissed or expunged from the mass media.

This derealization of history has several moving parts:

1. Emphasize the present unceasingly and ignore the past as irrelevant. The "news cycle" shortens into soundbites and video snippets, eliminating any moment of relative calm for analysis or context. This could be termed induced amnesia.

2. A frenzy of images and emotional content that confuse and numb the audience via sensory and verbal overload.

3. Delegitimize skeptical inquiry and demands for transparency by dismissing our era’s ubiquitous fraud and over-reach as merely typical behavior that has always been present in U.S. history.

This approach is effective because there is a kernel of truth in every admonishment that greed in inherent in human nature. But this appeal to greed as normal (if not "good") masks the reality that previous eras of American history were characterized by robust negative feedbacks which acted to limit financial fraud, deception and embezzlement.

4. Decontextualize scale. If the rentier-financial Elite pillaged $10 million in a previous period of unlimited financial looting and debauchery of credit (to grab a number from the air), then claim today’s looting of hundreds of billions of dollars--adjusted for inflation, a sum a 100-fold larger than the past sum--is "no different than the past, it’s just business as usual."

The goal is to mask the truth that today’s over-reach and embezzlement is very different as it is two orders of magnitude greater and has reached its larcenous claws past the…
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The Pareto Principle and the Next Wave Down in Real Estate

The Pareto Principle and the Next Wave Down in Real Estate 

Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith Of Two Minds

In February 2007 I suggested a 4% mortgage delinquency rate could trigger a decline in the entire housing market. Since that proved prescient, we should revisit the analytic tool behind that call: the Pareto Principle.Piranha

There is a whiff of euphoria in the housing market, a heavily touted confidence that "the bottom is in." It’s all roaring back--rising sales, multiple bids by anxious buyers, 3.5% down payments, low mortgage rates and the bonus of an $8,000 first-time home buyer credit (a gift from U.S. taxpayers). Housing Lifts Recovery Hopes (Wall Street Journal)

Foreclosure-related sales account for over 30% of all sales nationally, and over 70% in hard-hit markets such as Las Vegas, but like piranhas feasting on a school of weakened fish, nobody in the real estate business mentions the huge losses of capital and equity which created all these "bargains."

All we need for a complete bubble reflation is people avidly gaming the system… oh wait, we have that, too. A recent Time magazine cover story on Las Vegas contained this informative tidbit (courtesy of Michael Goodfellow):

(Realtor) Boemio specializes in short selling, in a particularly Vegas way. Basically, she finds clients who owe more on their house than the house is worth (and that’s about 60% of homeowners in Las Vegas) and sells them a new house similar to the one they’ve been living in at half the price they paid for their old house. Then she tells them to stop paying the mortgage on their old place until the bank becomes so fed up that it’s willing to let the owner sell the house at a huge loss rather than dragging everyone through foreclosure. Since that takes about nine months, many of the owners even rent out their old house in the interim, pocketing a profit.

Hmm, isn’t this the same recipe of froth, low down payments, cheap, easy mortgage money and scamming which got us in trouble the last time? Only the lenders lose, but then now that Ginnie Mae and FHA have stepped up to replace the disgraced, bankrupt shells of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, then it really isn’t the lenders taking the risks, it’s the U.S. taxpayer (again).

It’s…
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10 Pins for the Stock Market Bubble

10 Pins for the Stock Market Bubble

popping bubbleCourtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds

The "Recession is over" stock market rally is just another bubble awaiting a sharp pin. Here are ten such sharp little pins.

I really hate to pop anyone’s bubble, but--oh, why try to hide it, I love popping bubbles, especially stock market, credit and housing bubbles. According to the standard-issue financial pundits (SIFPs), the stock market is not only in a new Bull Market but it’s heading higher this month--S&P 500 is shooting to 1,200, guaranteed.

Before you join the euphoria, please consider these 10 sharp bubble-popping pins:

1. Structural unemployment is skyrocketing. Job Losses Moderate:

But structural unemployment worsened. The number of people who’ve been out of work longer than six months soared by a record 584,000 to 5 million, accounting for more than a third of all unemployment for the first time on record.

Unemployed Girl"Structural" is a polite way of saying there won’t be any jobs for the long-term unemployed this year, next year, or the year after that.

2. The jobless rate declined because the work force shrank. This is typical smoke-and-mirrors statistics, courtesy of your Federal government: as people lose extended unemployment benefits, they are classified as "discouraged" and are no longer counted in the "headline" unemployment number.

Unemployment fell by 267,000 to 14.5 million, while employment fell by 155,000. The labor force declined by 422,000, which means the jobless rate declined because people dropped out of the work force, not because they got jobs. The employment-participation rate fell from 65.7% to 65.5%.

3. Everyone seems to have forgotten we need to create 250,000 jobs a month just to stay even with population growth. So while "only" 250,000 jobs were lost last month--never mind a big chunk of employment was linked to the "cash for clunkers" giveaway--that means we’re still 500,000 jobs short of a return to a rising employment scenario.

4. The interest on all the debt the nation is taking on to bail out bankers and "stimulate" the dead credit-bubble model will place a drag on growth far into the future. At the end of March of 2009, Bloomberg reported that, "The U.S. government and the Federal Reserve have spent, lent or committed $12.8 trillion, an amount that approaches the value of everything produced in the country last year." This…
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Zero Hedge

Hong Kong Protests Go Global: China Demands Investigation After Lam's Justice Minister Wounded In London

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Chinese officials slammed American lawmakers who are advancing a bill designed to protest Hong Kong's quasi-independent status guaranteed by the legal handover agreement between the British and the Chinese, but the US isn't the only major western power that's creating problems with the increasing dangerous situation in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's Justice Minister Teresa Cheng took a nasty tumble last night during a confrontation with pro-democracy sympathizers who came out to protest her presence in London. ...



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Phil's Favorites

Fed's Powell Says Forensic Work Ongoing on Liquidity Crisis; This Chart Shows Why He's Worried

Courtesy of Pam Martens

Stock Price of Deutsche Bank, Lincoln Financial and Goldman Sachs Since                  September 17, 2019 When the Fed Began Pumping Money Into Wall Street

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: November 15, 2019 ~

Yesterday, for the second day in a row, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, gave testimony and took questions before a Congressional Committee. On Wednesday it was the Joint Economic Committee; yesterday i...



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Biotech

Why telling people with diabetes to use Walmart insulin can be dangerous advice

Reminder: We are available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

Why telling people with diabetes to use Walmart insulin can be dangerous advice

A vial of insulin. Prices for the drug, crucial for those with diabetes, have soared in recent years. Oleksandr Nagaiets/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Jeffrey Bennett, Vanderbilt University

About 7.4 million people ...



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Insider Scoop

New Jersey Back Tax Bill Creates More Uncertainty For Uber, But Industry Remains Strong

Courtesy of Benzinga

New Jersey’s order that Uber Technologies Inc (NYSE: UBER) must pay more than $600 million in back taxes, interest and penalties for drivers the state considers employees instead of contractors creates more uncertainty for the ride-hailing company.

But despite the new ruling, along with a class action suit in New Jersey that “adds to the regulatory...



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The Technical Traders

What happens To The Global Economy If Oil Collapses Below $40 - Part II

Courtesy of Technical Traders

In the first part of this research article, we shared our ADL predictive modeling research from July 10th, 2019 where we suggested that Oil prices would begin to collapse to levels near, or below, $40 throughout November and December of 2019.  Our ADL modeling system suggests that oil prices may continue lower well into early 2020 where the price is exp...



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Chart School

Dow Jones cycle update and are we there yet?

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Today the Dow and the SP500 are making new all time highs. However all long and strong bull markets end on a new all time high. Today no one knows how many new all time highs are to go, maybe 1 or 100+ more to go, who knows! So are we there yet?

readtheticker.com combine market tools from Richard Wyckoff, Jim Hurst and William Gann to understand and forecast price action. In concept terms (in order), demand and supply, market cycles, and time to price analysis. 

Cycle are excellent to understand the wider picture, after all markets do not move in a straight line and bear markets do follow bull markets. 



CHART 1: The Dow Jones Industrial average with the 900 period cycle.

A) Red Cycle:...

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Digital Currencies

Is Bitcoin a Macro Asset?

 

Is Bitcoin a Macro Asset?

Courtesy of 

As part of Coindesk’s popup podcast series centered around today’s Invest conference, I answered a few questions for Nolan Bauerly about Bitcoin from a wealth management perspective. I decided in December of 2017 that investing directly into crypto currencies was unnecessary and not a good use of a portfolio’s allocation slots. I remain in this posture today but I am openminded about how this may change in the future.

You can listen to this short exchange below:

...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Silver Testing This Support For The First Time In 8-Years!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Its been a good while since Silver bulls could say that it is testing support. Well, this week that can be said! Will this support test hold? Silver Bulls sure hope so!

This chart looks at Silver Futures over the past 10-years. Silver has spent the majority of the past 8-years inside of the pink shaded falling channel, as it has created lower highs and lower lows.

Silver broke above the top of this falling channel around 90-days ago at (1). It quickly rallied over 15%, before creating a large bearish reversal pattern, around 5-weeks after the bre...



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Lee's Free Thinking

Today's Fed POMO TOMO FOMC Alphabet Soup Unspin

Courtesy of Lee Adler

But make no mistake, if the Fed wants money rates to stay down by another quarter, it will need to imagineer even more money.

That’s on top of the $281 billion it has already imagineered into existence since addressing its “one-off” repo market emergency on September 17. This came via  “Temporary” Repo Man Operations money, and $70.6 billion in Permanent Open Market Operations (POMO) money.

By my calculations that averages out to $7.4 billion per business day. That works out to a monthly pace of $155 billion or so.

If they keep this up, it will be more than enough to absorb every penny of new Treasury supply. That supply had caused the system to run out of money in mid September.  This flood of paper had been inundati...



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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

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Members' Corner

Despacito - How to Make Money the Old-Fashioned Way - SLOWLY!

Are you ready to retire?  

For most people, the purpose of investing is to build up enough wealth to allow you to retire.  In general, that's usually enough money to reliably generate a year's worth of your average income, each year into your retirement so that that, plus you Social Security, should be enough to pay your bills without having to draw down on your principle.

Unfortunately, as the last decade has shown us, we can't count on bonds to pay us more than 3% and the average return from the stock market over the past 20 years has been erratic - to say the least - with 4 negative years (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2008) and 14 positives, though mostly in the 10% range on the positives.  A string of losses like we had from 2000-02 could easily wipe out a decades worth of gains.

Still, the stock market has been better over the last 10 (7%) an...



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Promotions

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In My Top Strategies for 2017, Phil's chapter is Secret Santa’s Inflation Hedges for 2017.

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About Phil:

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