Thursday, December 31, 2009

Land of the Rising Sun or is that Sunset?

Greetings good citizen,

Just gathering the last few details for tomorrow night’s ‘annual’ get together…which doubles as a warning for you not to expect a new post for a couple of days. I’ll be ‘entertaining’ tomorrow evening and probably land myself back in ICU sometime early Friday morning!

Um, just kidding…although considering how this year has gone, it’s nothing to joke about.

Moving along, the ‘Stupidity index’ barely budged (ain’t none of those brokers ‘investing’ their ‘bonuses’ in the damn markets…they must know better, which tells the rest of us something all by itself.)

Most of us suspect 2010 is going to be a real ‘pisser’, especially for the, er, ‘optimistic’ among us who are looking for a ‘recovery’. It ain’t happening and it ain’t gonna happen.

Without further adieu, let us proceed with tonight’s offering to have a peek at what the desperate new government of Japan has up its sleeve…

Japan Unveils a Plan for Growth Emphasizing Free Trade in Asia

Published: December 30, 2009

TOKYO — Still struggling after its worst recession in generations, Japan announced a long-term growth strategy on Wednesday that aimed to tap into the dynamism of its Asian neighbors, create millions of jobs in new industries and drive economic expansion of at least 2 percent a year over the next decade. [You’d think these ‘chowder heads’ would smarten up! It was the ‘race to the bottom’ that caused the global economy to crash, they literally ‘pauperized’ their customer base…there are now too few customers for too many goods, funny how cutting everybody’s salary produces outcomes like that…]

The Japanese economy has eked out growth in the last two quarters as its mainstay exports have rebounded amid signs of recovery worldwide, particularly in China, the country’s biggest trading partner. [You know that is nothing but another dose of ‘self-serving’ propaganda; worse, if it weren’t for their own huge ‘stimulus’ program, China’s GDP would be in negative territory! (And perhaps it is, we have no way of knowing.)]

But a swelling public debt and a persistent decline in prices and wages are raising fears that Japan’s economic recovery could soon run out of steam. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has been under pressure since he took office in September to come up with a practical plan to reinvigorate Japan’s economy.

“Indeed, the consensus view is that the economic recovery will at least stall, if not fall into another recession” early next year, Masamichi Adachi, a senior economist at JPMorgan Chase, said in a recent research note.

Mr. Hatoyama’s short-term remedy for Japan’s economic troubles has been to funnel money to struggling households, including offering new cash subsidies for families with small children and free high school education.

But his government has appeared distracted by a dispute with Washington and a campaign finance investigation. And budget constraints have forced Mr. Hatoyama to backtrack on some promises, hurting his popularity.

“The new government’s ability to take action is being tested,” he said at a news conference on Wednesday. “We will do whatever it takes to achieve this.”

The government’s new blueprint for economic growth in the long run is more global in outlook. The government says that it will push to create a free trade zone in Asia by 2020 to leverage the region’s economic growth, and that it will make Haneda Airport in Tokyo a 24-hour hub for international flights. [Um, who else thinks their major malfunction has been to much ‘long term planning’ and not enough short term action? Japan has just completed their second consecutive ‘lost decade’ and guess what? Capitalism isn’t showing them a way out…]

Japan also needs to become less reliant on the United States and bolster economic ties in Asia, Mr. Hatoyama said. [Why do you suppose he came to that particular conclusion? There’s nothing weird about it, it is the exact same decision US investors/executives made nearly 40 years ago…and they should all swing for treason!]

Until now, our connection with the United States has been very strong. Naturally, this will continue to be the case in terms of our national security. But for economic growth, it is necessary to look closely at Asia as a new frontier,” Mr. Hatoyama said. [Naturally because he sees the great benefits free trade zones have brought to the US, a failing jobs market and out of control immigration as people are forced to move where the jobs are.]

The plan envisions creating a $540 billion market for environmentally friendly technology and renewable energy that would employ 1.4 million people. It seeks to create 2.8 million jobs in the health and care-giving sectors to serve Japan’s aging population. [Um, gee, I wonder what this is going to do to our own politicians ‘green collar’ strategies? Is there enough ‘green’ business out there for everyone? You already know there isn’t.]

The new strategy calls for efforts to more than triple the number of foreign visitors to Japan, to 25 million by 2020, and create new jobs in a bid to support the country’s ailing tourism industry. [Sure, there’s another fine example of thinking ‘outside the box’, the world is going broke so why don’t we pour a ton of money into a rapidly shrinking tourism market! The income to be captured from tourism is shrinking, not growing. As energy becomes scarcer, the number of tourists will shrink radically for a couple of reasons with the principal reason being it will no longer be ‘safe’ to travel…the ‘richer’ you are, the less safe it will be.]

The plan aims to expand Japan’s economy at an average rate of 2 percent over the next 10 years, with a goal of increasing gross domestic product to 650 trillion yen, or $7 trillion, from the 473 trillion yen projected for the current fiscal year. [How bizarre is it that the world’s second strongest/largest economy has a dollar that’s worth roughly a penny everywhere else?]

The government will bring the unemployment rate to the 3 percent range in the “medium term” from 5.2 percent in November, Mr. Hatoyama said. [WTF! Here we have an economy that has suffer for more than twenty years and they only have 5% unemployment? Unemployment jumped 5% in the last 12 months and it is still rising! Um, is this one of the benefits of a high savings rate? (Actually no, it isn’t…their ‘safety net’ is different than ours, it closer to what they have in Europe.]

Analysts say those goals are unrealistic, however, given Japan’s shrinking population and low rate of immigration. The government has also offered scant details on how its economic plan would be financed.

A lack of government willingness to tackle the severe challenges of fiscal consolidation, and an aging population, prevents firms and households from feeling confident about the future beyond the next fiscal year,” Mr. Adachi said.

It’s beginning to look a lot like the definition of the word insane…keep doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome!

Worse, good citizen, I think people are starting to catch on that nobody is willing to take a fresh approach to some very critical problems.

Naturally, I am inferring that our leaders are scared to death of looking at alternatives to ‘market capitalism’ because that’s what’s ‘broken’….and if we don’t fix it, civilization itself is what will collapse.

Um, let’s get to the really ‘disturbing’ part here good citizen. They can keep ‘the game’ rolling but they have to keep reducing the number of players so the rich can stay rich and do nothing while the rest work to get nowhere.

Well, we are now looking at a major ‘re-alignment’ in the ‘allocation of resources’ and millions of ‘end-users are suddenly going to find they can’t ‘access’ what they need to live…and there ain’t a friggin thing they (or the law) can/will do about it.

So there will be riots. The people ‘protesting’ their treatment will be rounded up and removed from society…at first there will be food and somewhat ‘humane’ treatment but that won’t last long. It won’t be long at all until these ‘outcasts’ will be starved beyond their endurance and there will be more riots...which nobody will hear about...because these ‘camps' will be in the middle of nowhere.

Maybe some of the relatives of the victims will band together and free their people, but that’s about the only hope they have of ever seeing the outside of a barbed wire enclosure while they still live.

Which is a very sad note to end 2009 on…but there it is.

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Things that make you go 'hmmn.'

Greetings good citizen,

Science isn’t for everyone (as evidenced by the dreck Hollywood continues to produce by the bucketful. Who funds this crap anyway?)

Um, if you’d rather perform your own dental work than be assaulted by news from today’s ‘scientific frontier’ then this article won’t be to your liking…but that does nothing to alter the ‘likely outcome’ of this kind of research.

Yes good citizen, I am often astonished by the mind-numbing lack of curiosity displayed by the average individual (not that I particularly blame them…so far technology has primarily been used to make things more difficult rather than easier. Your ‘solitude’ was the first item to be sacrificed on the altar of ‘high tech’, your ‘privacy’ followed immediately behind, for those of you who (mistakenly) think solitude has no value…)

Um, we are about to engage in a ‘word substitution’ game, something it is critical for you to understand because none of this makes sense if it is taken solely in its highly ‘altruistic’ frame of reference.

Every time you read the word ‘disease’ I want you to substitute the word ‘death’, because this is what they’re really after. It is the very real, present day continuation of a search that has been going on since before the Conquistadors and Ponce de Leon…

Um, why should you care what the very rich are funding with their money? I think you’d be very naïve to believe that the taxpayer isn’t the principal backer of this research through ‘block grants’ made to our nation’s university system…

Which brings us full circle to the real issue here, if the ‘secret of immortality’ is discovered (understand, this is the ‘end result’ of defeating death.) then who gets to partake? What is the determining factor that makes one ‘worthy’?

The public funded the research but the only publicly funded research that has produced ‘free’ benefits is flu research…and even those ‘free’ flu shots are paid for by the government…after the government hands over its bought and paid for research to ‘private’ drug companies for nothing…

Which is another CF altogether, but you see where I’m going with this.

Um, there is an even darker side to this conundrum so I’ll ask you directly; would you be willing to throw your fellow humans ‘under the bus’ in exchange for your shot at ‘immortality’?

The whole world looks very different when you start looking at it through the ‘lens of forever’.

Which begs a more interesting question: who do you want to share ‘eternity’ with?

[Um, if you think this would make a great plot for a novel you’re too late, I wrote it nine years ago!]

In New Way to Edit DNA, Hope for Treating Disease

Published: December 28, 2009

Only one man seems to have ever been cured of AIDS, a patient who also had leukemia. To treat the leukemia, he received a bone marrow transplant in Berlin from a donor who, as luck would have it, was naturally immune to the AIDS virus.

If that natural mutation could be mimicked in human blood cells, patients could be endowed with immunity to the deadly virus. But there is no effective way of making precise alterations in human DNA.

That may be about to change, if a powerful new technique for editing the genetic text proves to be safe and effective. At the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Carl June and colleagues have used the technique to disrupt a gene in patients’ T cells, the type attacked by the AIDS virus. They have then infused those cells back into the body. A clinical trial is now under way to see if the treated cells will reconstitute a patient’s immune system and defeat the virus.

The technique, which depends on natural agents called zinc fingers, may revive the lagging fortunes of gene therapy because it overcomes the inability to insert new genes at a chosen site. Other researchers plan to use the zinc finger technique to provide genetic treatments for diseases like bubble-boy disease, hemophilia and sickle-cell anemia. [Time to expand on the idea of what makes ‘death’ a treatable disease; your body’s built-in ‘self-destruct’ mechanism, something most of you are ignorant of.]

In principle, the zinc finger approach should work on almost any site on any chromosome of any plant or animal. If so, it would provide a general method for generating new crop plants, treating many human diseases, and even making inheritable changes in human sperm or eggs, should such interventions ever be regarded as ethically justifiable. [True, ‘ideally’ you’d be born without a ‘self-destruct’ system, but most people’s self-destruct mechanism doesn’t activate until they reach ‘sexual maturity’…sort of gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘coming of age’.]

Zinc fingers are essential components of proteins used by living cells to turn genes on and off. Their name derives from the atom of zinc that holds two loops of protein together to form a “finger.” Because the fingers recognize specific sequences of DNA, they guide the control proteins to the exact site where their target gene begins. [False impressions are easy once you start playing in the realm of ‘theoretical possibility’…in ‘theory’ turning off your built in self-destruct mechanism would enable your body to repair itself, er, perfectly, um, forever. The ‘false impression’ comes in defining what you have actually achieved, which is best described as beating death by ‘natural causes’ rather than the much more certain ‘bullet proofing’ which would defeat death in all of its manifestations. (Near) immediate ‘re-generation’ is another ball of wax entirely and will probably be a long time coming, if ever.]

After many years of development, biologists have learned how to modify nature’s DNA recognition system into a general system for manipulating genes. Each natural zinc finger recognizes a set of three letters, or bases, on the DNA molecule. By stringing three or four fingers together, researchers can generate artificial proteins that match a particular site. [What we don’t know good citizen is what they are already capable of…did you know that color television existed (in military research facilities) prior to WWII?]

The new system has been developed by a small biotech company, Sangamo BioSciences of Richmond, Calif., and, to some degree separately, by academic researchers who belong to the Zinc Finger Consortium. [Note the ‘public/private’ aspects of this, er, ‘partnership’…]

Sangamo was founded in 1995 by Edward O. Lanphier II, a former executive with a gene therapy company. Reading an article by Aaron Klug, the British crystallographer who discovered the zinc finger design, he saw the technique’s potential for genetic manipulation. He bought a company Dr. Klug had founded and worked with him and researchers like Carl O. Pabo to improve the technique and develop combinations of zinc fingers to match any sequence of DNA letters.

“We now have a full alphabet of zinc fingers,” Mr. Lanphier said, “but when we started the company it was like typing a novel with two fingers.”

Zinc finger proteins have many potential uses. One is to link them to agents that turn on or turn off the gene at the site recognized by the fingers.

More powerfully, the zinc fingers can be deployed as a word processing system for cutting and pasting genetic text. Two sets of zinc fingers are attached to a protein that cuts the DNA in between the two sites matched by the fingers. The cell quickly repairs the break but sometimes in a way that disrupts the gene. This is the approach used in destroying the gene for the receptor used by the AIDS virus to gain entry to white blood cells. [Ho Ho! What a ‘useful trick’ this will turn out to be!]

Or, if DNA for a new gene is inserted into a cell at the same time as the zinc fingers that scissor the DNA, the new gene will be incorporated by the cell’s repair system into the DNA at the break site. Most gene therapy techniques use a virus to carry new genes into a cell but cannot direct the virus to insert genes at a specific site.

“I think it’s a broadly applicable technology that has already allowed experiments that would not have been possible before,” said J. Keith Joung, a biologist who designs zinc finger proteins at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Daniel F. Voytas, a plant geneticist at the University of Minnesota, said the zinc finger technique would allow breeders to change the oil composition of any plant, the types of carbohydrates produced or the way carbon dioxide is captured. “We can go in and make any change we want to any plant species,” Dr. Voytas said. [You can be sure he doesn’t mean ‘any’ literally, at least at this stage of the game…but that’s the question, isn’t it? We don’t know for sure where they really are…]

Zinc fingers can also be used for “trait stacking,” the positioning of several beneficial genes at a single site. This avoids heavy regulatory costs because genetically altered plants must be tested for safety for each site that is modified.

The zinc finger technology has taken many years to prepare because of the difficulty of designing the fingers and also of preventing them from cutting the genome in the wrong places. Only a handful of laboratories are currently using the technique, but proponents expect to see rapid growth.

The Zinc Finger Consortium, founded by Dr. Joung and Dr. Voytas, makes the method available free, and researchers need only pay for materials. But there are some 200 steps in Dr. Joung’s recipe for making zinc fingers, and it takes time and dedication to do them all correctly. [Perhaps we don’t want to know what happens if you DON’T do them correctly…yet another question without a good answer.]

The alternative is to buy zinc fingers. Sangamo has a commanding patent position and has licensed Sigma-Aldrich, a large life science company in St. Louis, to make zinc finger proteins for researchers. Sigma-Aldrich’s charge for a zinc finger protein that cuts the genome at the site of your choice is $39,000, with a discount for academic researchers. Zinc fingers that cut well-known human genes cost $12,000. Sigma-Aldrich has used the technology to generate rats with genetic defects that mimic human disease. A schizophrenic rat can be had for $100. [Um, I’m sure you can get all the schizo-rats you want for nothing on Wall Street…]

David Smoller, president of Sigma-Aldrich’s biotechnology unit, licensed the technology from Sangamo in 2006 when he felt the company had proved it worked. “This technology is just amazing,” Dr. Smoller said. “It’s a game changer.” [Which leads us to wonder how much the game is already changed?]

Sangamo has licensed the use of zinc fingers to Dow Agrosciences for creating new crop plants, and has reserved medical uses for itself. It has four Phase 2 clinical trials in progress, including treatments for diabetic neuropathy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

In an ambitious effort to cure AIDS, Sangamo and the University of Pennsylvania started a clinical trial in February. [Now there’s a treatment that would prove quite lucrative, although we still seem to be looking at the old ‘how much would you pay to save your life?’ proposition.]

The AIDS virus enters the T cells of the immune system by latching on to a receptor called CCR5, but about 10 percent of Europeans have a mutation that disables the CCR5 gene. People who inherit two disabled copies of the gene do not have CCR5 on the surface of their T cells, so the AIDS virus has nothing to grab. These people are highly resistant to H.I.V.

In the zinc finger approach, the patient’s T cells are removed, and zinc finger scissors are used to disable the CCR5 gene. The treated cells are allowed to multiply, then reinjected into the patient. In experiments with mice, the treated cells turned out to have a strong natural advantage over the untreated ones, since those are under constant attack by the AIDS virus.

Whether or not zinc fingers will make gene therapy practical remains to be seen. “It’s a little too early to know since clinical trials are in their early stages,” said Dr. Katherine A. High, a hemophilia expert at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Matthew H. Porteus, a pediatric geneticist at the University of Texas, said, “I think it has the potential to solve a lot of the problems that have plagued the gene therapy field.” But Dr. Porteus noted that even the most carefully designed zinc fingers seemed to do some snipping away from their target site, a potentially serious safety problem. [Therein lies the ‘downside’ of playing with ‘the building blocks of life’. There is the potential to do more harm than good, like in the film ‘I am Legend’.]

Zinc fingers could be the gift that stem cell researchers have been waiting for. Stem cells taken from a patient may need to be genetically corrected before use, but until now there had been no way of doing so.

Dr. Rudolf Jaenisch, a stem cell expert at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass., reported in August that he had successfully singled out three genes in induced embryonic stem cells with the help of zinc finger scissors designed by Sangamo. “This is a really important tool for human embryonic stem cells,” Dr. Jaenisch said. The technology has not yet reached perfection. Some of the zinc fingers Sangamo provided “worked beautifully,” he said, but some did not.

Zinc fingers may also make technically possible a morally fraught procedure that has been merely a theoretical possibility — the alteration of the human germ line, meaning the egg or sperm cells. Genetic changes made in current gene therapy are to body cells, and they would die with the individual. But changes made to the germ line would be inherited. Many ethicists and others say this is a bridge that should not be crossed, since altering the germ line, even if justifiable for medical reasons, would lower the barrier to other kinds of change. [Here there be monsters…and not just the creepy crawlies that infest the silver screen! Would you ‘suffer’ serious mutation as the price of immortality? Would you let them replace your skin with bullet-proof ‘Rhino hyde’? Or would you let them imbed horns or tusks on you, or perhaps poisonous fangs? Understand that once you ‘sign up’ for these ‘modifications’ you are by default ‘surrendering your humanity’ for their protection. Sounds ‘attractive’ on the surface but understand they won’t make the ‘mistake’ of making you ‘invulnerable’, they’ll kill you for sure if they think you’re too tough to manage. They’ll have the upper hand and you’ll know it…’nice’ is for appearances sake only, they don’t want the masses to ‘know’ they are evil incarnate.]

Several scientists were reluctant to discuss the issue, or dismissed it by saying that even zinc fingers did not meet the error-free standards that would be required for germ-line engineering. But zinc finger scissors are so efficient that only 5 to 10 embryos need be treated to get one with the desired result. This could make it practical to alter the germ line.

Since the germ lines of rats and zebra fish have already been altered with zinc finger scissors, “in principle there is no reason why a similar strategy could not be used to modify the human germ line,” Dr. Porteus said. The kind of disease that might be better treated in the germ line, if ethically acceptable, is cystic fibrosis, which affects many different tissues.

The disease could be corrected in unfertilized eggs, using the zinc finger technique, Dr. Porteus said. But he added, “I don’t think our society is ready for someone to propose this.”

Honestly now, how many of you were aware that modern science was capable of doing the procedures outlined in this article? If you’re not a genetic engineer, I’m going to guess very few of you.

Indeed, some of what they share here appears to be ‘cutting edge’ but is it really cutting edge if it appears in the newspaper?

Continuing our mental exercise, have they already succeeded in making someone, um, can’t really use the word ‘immortal’ because they are still capable of being killed or of dying in an accident. What would be an appropriate term? Could we call them ‘death resistant’?

Whether they’ve succeeded or not, does anyone doubt that somebody somewhere isn’t diligently mapping the path that leads to the ‘vanquishing of death’?

The only thing we know for sure is we’re twenty years closer to the first immortal walking among us since the ‘Jewish hippy kid’ checked out for parts unknown almost two thousand years ago.

Left to our imagination is who will be ‘left behind’ when this modern form of ‘eugenics’ takes on a life of its own…the overlords didn’t want to spend the money to educate the brats of their, ‘employees’. They will prove equally ‘resistant’ to footing the tab for ‘enhancing’ their own workforce. So what will become of those who can’t afford to ‘upgrade’ their, er, basic packages? Will they get what they need from the military? Which makes for another interesting puzzle, what if certain ‘improvements can’t be reversed AND it isn’t safe to let one so equipped to return to civilian life…what happens then?

Anyway, most of you know that I don’t think civilization will last long enough for any of this to become a problem.

Not only am I surprised to still be posting but I’ll be doubling surprised to still be posting this time next year.

Yeah, while this makes for a fun mental exercise, that’s about as far as it goes (with the possible exception of things they keep in cages in secret locations that nobody knows about except their creators.)

Things that make you go ‘hmmn…

Keep an open mind good citizen,

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


Monday, December 28, 2009


Greetings good citizen,

Hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday in as much as they weren’t too disappointed with how things have turned out.

Once again it was a semi-eventful holiday respite with Mr. Geithner’s Treasury providing the bankster community with a special Christmas ‘present’. A present in the form of removing the ‘cap’ from Fannie & Freddie’s ‘balance sheets’ so these two mortgage cesspools holding tanks can expand their holdings of toxic paper…in essence making investors ‘whole’ at 100 cents on the dollar at, what else? Taxpayer expense!

Um, if you missed this little gem that’s okay, you were supposed to, that’s why the press release was scheduled for Christmas Eve sometime after 5:00…

Um, this sort of brings us to tonight’s offering which deals with ‘news items’ you may not have heard anything about… [Hat tip: Cryptogon]

Top 25 Censored Stories for 2009

* #1. Over One Million Iraqi Deaths Caused by US Occupation
* # 2 Security and Prosperity Partnership: Militarized NAFTA
* # 3 InfraGard: The FBI Deputizes Business
* # 4 ILEA: Is the US Restarting Dirty Wars in Latin America?
* # 5 Seizing War Protesters’ Assets
* # 6 The Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act
* # 7 Guest Workers Inc.: Fraud and Human Trafficking
* # 8 Executive Orders Can Be Changed Secretly
* #9 Iraq and Afghanistan Vets Testify
* # 10 APA Complicit in CIA Torture
* # 11 El Salvador’s Water Privatization and the Global War on Terror
* # 12 Bush Profiteers Collect Billions From No Child Left Behind
* # 13 Tracking Billions of Dollars Lost in Iraq
* # 14 Mainstreaming Nuclear Waste
* # 15 Worldwide Slavery
* # 16 Annual Survey on Trade Union Rights
* # 17 UN’s Empty Declaration of Indigenous Rights
* # 18 Cruelty and Death in Juvenile Detention Centers
* # 19 Indigenous Herders and Small Farmers Fight Livestock Extinction
* # 20 Marijuana Arrests Set New Record
* # 21 NATO Considers “First Strike” Nuclear Option
* # 22 CARE Rejects US Food Aid
* # 23 FDA Complicit in Pushing Pharmaceutical Drugs
* # 24 Japan Questions 9/11 and the Global War on Terror
* # 25 Bush’s Real Problem with Eliot Spitzer

Quite a little ‘litany of woe’ there good citizen, it seems there are a lot of things your, er, ‘overlords’ would like you to remain ‘ignorant’ of.

The good news is each of these ‘bullet points’ are actual links to the associated press release regarding the story…that you very likely didn’t see.

Naturally, to get the links you need to follow the only link in tonight’s story.

Hmmn…I don’t like to leave you with such a heartstoppingly brief article but sometimes it is what it is.

I’ve noted that other blogs are compiling ‘year in review’ or various ‘top ten’ lists but my missives are strident enough without beating you over the head with my opinions…because sadly, that’s all I’ve got. I don’t ‘know’ anything, all that I share here are hunches and guesses, albeit, some pretty bizarre ones.

I take the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ path of ‘deductive reasoning’…once you’ve eliminated the impossible and the improbable, whatever’s left, regardless of how unlikely, is the answer.

Um, the situation ‘as I see it’ has an extremely ‘unlikely’ cause and a particularly nasty outcome.

I may not ‘nail’ the precise cause but I think I’ve got a good handle on the symptoms and outcome…but then again, maybe I don’t.

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Opiate of the classes...

Greetings good citizen,

Um, the markets way as well have remained closed for all of the movement that didn’t happen. Which we can suppose is just as well, I was reading a piece about high speed trading today and it struck me as, um, bizarre that these traders can move in and out of a stock in a millisecond and make money doing it! It is estimated that these special trading desks make billions of dollars a day buying and selling huge amounts of shares that fluctuate a penny or two in the course of a couple of hours.

What bugs me is where does that money come from? You can understand if you buy a billion shares of Rinky Dink Inc, the simple act of buying the shares will drive the price up and other investors, seeing the surge, are likely to ‘pile on’, boosting the price even more. Naturally, the difficulty is selling all of these shares ‘profitably’ or at least selling enough of them ‘in the money’ so you can ‘wash’ the slower moving blocks at ‘break even’ rather than a loss.

Since the whole transaction can be completed in a couple of hours, it’s hard to find the ‘value added’. If the ‘buy price’ was a dollar a share and in the course of the transaction the price drifted up to a dollar and two cents, tripping the ‘sell’ signal…how do you unload a billion shares in a couple of hours if the ‘target’ itself doesn’t buy them back? I’m sure there are ways for the really big dealers to ‘warehouse’ orphan stocks for a nominal fee but we’re delving into some pretty arcane matters here where answers aren’t likely to be forthcoming. Certain people are making tons of money chasing minute fluctuations in stock prices and they don’t want anyone looking too closely at the ‘mechanics’ because what they’re doing may not be, er, ‘kosher’…

Anyway, onward to tonight’s offering

[Purloined from Jesse’s Crossroads café. ]

Quantitative Easing: the Opiate of the Banks

Much is being made of Bernanke's program of quantitative easing, which is nothing more than an extreme form of artificially low rates of interest with direct monetization of debt in the aftermath of a financial crisis.

The current program of quantitative easing is not only no miracle cure, it will not work at all, it will not 'fix' the problems that are plaguing the American economy in any substantial manner. It is a misguided subsidy and reinforcement of reckless behaviour, and a corrupt distribution of wealth.

Quantitative easing would only be a cure if the crisis had been caused by an exogenous credit shock, a sudden withdrawal of liquidity due to an event unrelated to the workings of the domestic economy like a war or an act of nature. [And we know neither of these things occurred…]

But this is clearly not the case. For the cause of the financial crisis was in fact a lengthy period of artificially low interest rates under the chairmanship of Alan Greenspan, which allowed all manner of financial excess and mal-investment and even fraud to fester in the real economy for a protracted period of time until it became embedded, and one might even say a dominant force, in the economy. It warped and distorted the productive economy.

Applying quantitative easing may relieve the symptoms of the credit crisis but it is merely a palliative, not a cure. It is similar to the case of a debilitated addict who, being denied his narcotics, goes into shock and suffers a heart attack. Yes, a 'fix' of the drug of choice will relieve the short term symptoms perhaps, but will do nothing for the underlying state of health which will continue to worsen.

The very low rates of interest have 'cured' the short term credit seizure in the financial markets, thereby providing time an opportunity to engage in genuine systemic reform and rebalancing to repair the distortions that caused the crisis in the first place: an outsized and corrupt financial sector, and a system of global trade that is freakishly imbalanced and manipulated by command economies and multinational corporations. That, and a lapse of western governance overcome by greed.

Until those reforms are made, the US economy will experience a series of bubbles and crises that, through the US dollar reserve currency system, will shake the governments of the world to their foundations.

Posted by Jesse at 10:19 PM

I’d take exception to Jesse’s assertion that this situation can be ‘repaired’…it can be overhauled, with certain parts discarded and the entire mechanism replaced but there is no ‘fixing’ the broken capitalist model, the only way to ‘fix’ capitalism is to bring debt slavery back.

Yes, a new form of ‘indentured servitude’ where current generations would work off the debts of their forebearers, likely digging the hole deeper in the process.

Understand good citizen, like many ‘failed states’ before us, President Bush eliminated the usury statues in the US so we no longer have protection against onerous interest rates (and not for nothing, our pal Mr. Obama hasn’t done a damn thing about this issue either…)

Which brings us to a different issue altogether…the clock good citizen.

Do we have the time to wait around while the people we elect but have no control over fumble and bumble, lie, cheat and steal on the behalf of their campaign contributors, do we have the ‘luxury’ of waiting until the ‘time is right’ to do the right thing?

You can’t assume this situation will ‘correct itself’, that eventually the ‘special interests’ will coerce their bought and paid for stooges to enact legislation that will benefit everyone? Because if you believe that you are some kind of stupid! They may ‘go through the motions’ of restoring ‘trust’ but like the latest ‘hiccup’ out of the Supreme Court, you will do it and like it or you’ll pay the price, perhaps the ultimate price.

Ignoring the clock also ignores the rapidity with which events are unfolding. The starving millions will soon overrun the minimal safety net that remains…then it will be time to nut up or shut up.

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What's a girl to do?

Greetings good citizen,

I still haven’t read a single ‘corroborating’ story in the MSM regarding yesterday’s rather sensational story about the alleged Supreme Court decision.

Naturally, it is hard to tell what this means, we won’t know anything for sure until there is an incident…and I’m pretty sure nobody wants to be THAT ‘test case’.

Along the same general lines we have this story ripped from the pages of ‘The Automatic earth’ where a commentor advises this story is from a ‘back issue’ of ‘Life Insurance Today’ which originally appeared on March 5th of this year…

So why run with it?

Setting aside the ‘breathless’ tone of the piece, the position it takes isn’t necessarily ‘irrelevant’.

If The US Economic System Collapses as Some Economists Are Predicting, How Will Women Cope?

What’s Dead (Short Answer: All Of it.)

Just so you have a short list of what’s at stake if Washington DC doesn’t change policy here and now (which means before the collapse in equities comes, which could start as soon as today, if the indicators I watch have any validity at all. For what its worth, those indicators are painting a picture of the Apocalypse that I simply can’t believe, and they’re showing it as an imminent event – like perhaps today imminent.) [This particular statement makes more sense if it were made when the markets ‘bottomed’ earlier this year]

* All pension funds, private and public, are done. If you are receiving one, you won’t be. If you think you will in the future, you won’t be. PBGC will fail as well. Pension funds will be forced to start eating their "seed corn" within the next 12 months and once that begins there is no way to recover. [As far as I know this has not come to pass BUT the general public is largely ignorant of precisely who received ‘bailout funds’, how much and why…so this statement is not, at this point in the game, ‘provably false’.]

* All annuities will be defaulted to the state insurance protection (if any) on them. The state insurance funds will be bankrupted and unable to be replenished. Essentially, all annuities are toast. Expect zero, be ecstatic if you do better. All insurance companies with material exposure to these obligations will go bankrupt, without exception. Some of these firms are dangerously close to this happening right here and now; the rest will die within the next 6-12 months. If you have other insured interests with these firms, be prepared to pay a LOT more with a new company that can’t earn anything off investments, and if you have a claim in process at the time it happens, it won’t get paid. The probability of you getting "boned" on any transaction with an insurance company is extremely high – I rate this risk in excess of 90%. [None of this has come to pass BUT we are faced with one of the really big ‘Ifs’ that there isn’t a good answer to, if the insurance industry were, um, ‘underwater’ and billions if not trillions in obligations were, uh, ‘unprotected’…would they tell us? (Understand that telling means everybody would stop paying their premiums tomorrow and the entire insurance industry would ‘slip under the waves’ never to be seen again the following day.) So the ‘short answer’ to the question of ‘would they tell us’ is quite obvious…No. They wouldn’t and the public’s ‘right to know’ be damned in the process!]

* The FDIC will be unable to cover bank failure obligations. They will attempt to do more of what they’re doing now (raising insurance rates and doing special assessments) but will fail; the current path has no chance of success. Congress will backstop them (because they must lest shotguns come out) with disastrous results. In short, FDIC backstops will take precedence even over Social Security and Medicare. [Um, it’s statements like this that make me wonder if the commentator is correct because early in the year they had only closed a handful of banks. It is only recently that they have been closing as many as six banks (not branches) a week and the ‘losses’ are starting to ‘pile up’ with the FDIC finding itself ‘on the hook’ for an ever-larger share of the losses.]

* Government debt costs will ramp. This warning has already been issued and is being ignored by President Obama. When (not if) it happens debt-based Federal Funding will disappear. This leads to….[Here we see more evidence that this article is ‘fresher’ than it seems, it wasn’t until this past summer that we had any idea how much the government had spent in bailout funds. At the beginning of the year there was TARP and the ‘Stimulus’ which totaled a ‘mere’ 1.5 trillion, it wasn’t until later that we learned the government had given away more than 23 trillion.]

* Tax receipts are cratering and will continue to. I expect total tax receipts to fall to under $1 trillion within the next 12 months. Combined with the impossibility of continued debt issue (rollover will only remain possible at the short duration Treasury has committed to over the last ten years if they cease new issue) a 66% cut in the Federal Budget will become necessary. This will require a complete repudiation of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, a 50% cut in the military budget and a 50% across-the-board cut in all other federal programs. That will likely get close. [Okay, this is a bit radical but the central point holds, tax receipts are WAY down and it’s only going to get worse…um, ironically, tax receipts weren’t ‘big news’ back in the first quarter…and the link the commentor provided didn’t work…so maybe they’re ‘full of it’.]

* Tax-deferred accounts will be seized to fund rollovers of Treasury debt at essentially zero coupon (interest). If you have a 401k, or what’s left of it, or an IRA, consider it locked up in Treasuries; it’s not yours any more. Count on this happening – it is essentially a certainty. [I can see ‘hardcore’ capitalists denying this kind of assertion vigorously, you’d think God personally countersigned every contract ever written…but the same rabid capitalists would use the same argument to deny the Supreme Court’s ‘negation’ of the Constitution we read about yesterday as well. As ‘dire’ as this article reads, it ‘could’ happen.]

* Any firm with debt outstanding is currently presumed dead as the street presumption is that they have lied in some way. Expect at least 20% of the S&P 500 to fail within 12 months as a consequence of the complete and total lockup of all credit markets which The Fed will be unable to unlock or backstop. This will in turn lead to…[Um, okay, this was a problem back in March but it’s become an even bigger problem today…while ‘personal’ bankruptcy is off the charts, the S&P 500 is still largely ‘intact’…although that might not be true 12 months from now.]

* The unemployed will have 5-10 million in direct layoffs added within the next 12 months. Collateral damage (suppliers, customers, etc) will add at least another 5-10 million workers to that, perhaps double that many. U-3 (official unemployment rate) will go beyond 15%, U-6 (broad form) will reach 30%. [This statement is a bit ‘whacko’ because it doesn’t take into consideration that people ‘eventually’ exhaust their unemployment claims and are no longer ‘counted’ as unemployed. In this respect we are already well beyond the 30% mark (of working aged citizens’) although I wouldn’t be quick to kick somebody in the shins for their failure to figure in how the ‘shell game’ works. Unemployment could well get worse BUT it is doubtful it will ever ‘officially’ get much higher than the current 10% level.]

* Civil unrest will break out before the end of the year. The Military and Guard will be called up to try to stop it. They won’t be able to. Big cities are at risk of becoming a free-fire death zone. If you live in one, figure out how you can get out and live somewhere else if you detect signs that yours is starting to go "feral"; witness New Orleans after Katrina for how fast, and how bad, it can get. [Um, there isn’t much left of this year, that aside, it’s not too hard to imagine that conditions will be plenty dire by this time next year…just saying, ya know?]

The good news is that this process will clear The Bezzle out of the system. The bad news is that you won’t have a job, pension, annuity, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and, quite possibly, your life. [Um, I wouldn’t completely agree that the ‘thieving’ has stopped but if we consider that absolutely NOTHING has been done to counter our ‘economic imbalances’, it’s only a matter of time until our ‘social contract’ is worthless.]

It really is that bleak folks, and it all goes back to Washington DC being unwilling to lock up the crooks, putting the market in the role it has always played – that of truth-finder, no matter how destructive that process is. [Um, that’s just plain wrong but the writer is likely a capitalist who still holds out hope for a ‘miraculous’ recovery.]

Only immediate action from Washington DC, taking the market’s place, can stop this, and as I get ready to hit "send" I see the market rolling over again, now down more than 3% and flashing "crash imminent" warnings. You may be reading this too late for it to matter.

Ah, the ‘contradictions’ facing today’s markets make this piece read like it was posted this morning…not that he’d find a lot of takers on the notion that the markets are about to ‘crash and burn’ tomorrow.

Yes, the ‘timing’ thing has vexed market observers for as long as there have been markets. If I could predict ‘with certainty’ that the markets would crash and burn tomorrow, I’d finish the day a very wealthy man (if I could collect on my ‘bets’.)

Sadly, I do not possess that variety of ‘foresight’. Fortunately, I don’t lose any sleep over that bit of ‘personal inadequacy’.

Speaking of ‘inadequacy; we now arrive at tonight’s second offering where guys who earn their paycheck ‘predicting’ what the markets will do find themselves proven wrong yet again!

Third Quarter Growth Weaker Than First Thought

Published: December 22, 2009

Economic growth was weaker than expected in the third quarter, the government said Tuesday, held back by soft business construction and dwindling inventories. [Is it just me or does it look like they picked those two market factors out of a hat?]

While the results tempered some of the expectations about the pace of a recovery, analysts still foresee steady, and stronger, growth in the fourth quarter. [This is not true, but analysts say this in hopes that you’ll invest in the stock market so they won’t lose their jobs…it’s a ‘self-preservation’ thing.]

A separate report released Tuesday showed an unexpected surge in existing home sales, which climbed 7.4 percent in November as Americans took advantage of a tax credit for first-time home buyers. [Um, is anyone else amazed at how often these analysts are wrong/surprised by the markets and they still get to keep their jobs, it’s friggin remarkable!]

Gross domestic product in the third quarter — the total value of goods and services in the economy — was 2.2 percent from July through September, revised down from 2.8 percent last month and 3.5 percent in October. [Understand it was the third quarter results that drove the Dow over the 10,000 point barrier…and now they think they were 1.3% too ‘optimistic’? As I comment above, if you or I were that ‘wrong’ in a real job we’d be fired, no questions. Real businesses can’t function with that much ‘error’!]

“We did get off to a slightly slower start than we had thought,” said Nigel Gault, chief United States economist for IHS Global Insight. “That would be very worrying if we hadn’t had the evidence that we had done well in the fourth quarter.” [Um, at least we know who ‘Nigel’ is and ‘Global Insight’ is located in Cambridge so I’ve heard of them (and Nigel) before but is anybody buying this weasel-worded, waffling that we all know is an outright lie? They picked the number out of their ass, knowing they’d need to ‘backpedal’ later…but ‘later’ is too late for the suckers who plunked their cash down, isn’t it?]

The United States is grappling with high levels of unemployment and businesses and consumers alike remain reluctant to spend. Still, analysts expect exports and consumer spending to rebound in the fourth quarter, helping the economy reach an annual pace of growth of about 5 percent. [Didn’t we just point out how ‘wrong’ these ‘analysts’ are? Why would anybody believe these lying assholes now after they have been so wrong for so long and absolutely NOTHING has been done to elevate ‘purchasing power’?]

Even though growth in the third quarter was slower than previously thought, it still marked the first period of growth in a year, suggesting the longest economic contraction since World War II had ended. Government stimulus efforts, such as the popular “cash-for-clunkers” program, helped drive up spending. [Um, the operative word here is ‘suggesting’ which isn’t particularly encouraging, given the ‘analysts’ track record to-date.]

The Commerce Department’s revisions were based on smaller-than-expected business inventories, which fell by $139.2 billion. Spending by businesses on items like software and equipment was also weaker than expected, rising by 5 percent rather than the 8.4 percent originally predicted.

Paul Dales, chief economist for Toronto-based Capital Economics, said the overall drop was “nothing to worry about,” but he expressed concern about the decrease in investment.

“It may suggest that a lot of the demand pent up during the recession has already been released,” Mr. Dales wrote in a research note on Tuesday. “High uncertainty and lots of spare capacity are limiting capital spending.”

Construction of business space like malls and office buildings fell more than previously thought, by 18.4 percent rather than 15.1 percent. Economists attribute that drop to a frail commercial real estate market, which is facing high vacancy rates and banks that are reluctant to finance business expansions. [Do you see the ‘misdirection’ here? Why isn’t Bozo pointing to the huge ‘surplus’ of commercial real estate available…why build more when there is so much space readily available? Why ‘pretend’ banks are ‘reluctant’ to fund business expansions when so few enterprises have expansion included in their business plan?]

Spending by state and local governments was also weaker than expected, falling 0.6 percent, compared with the 0.1 percent originally forecast. Consumer spending was revised slightly, growing 2.8 percent in the quarter rather than 2.9 percent. [Tax receipts are way down, what’s supposed to be the ‘mystery’ here?]

As the New Year approaches, investors are optimistic that the economy will outperform its earlier gains rather than fall into another downturn. Retail sales were higher than expected in November, and the trade deficit unexpectedly narrowed in October. In addition, a weak dollar is making American products overseas cheaper, contributing to hope that exports will rise.

Hard to say good citizen what part of this pack of lies needs to be addressed first. The ‘uptick’ in November sales has already been attributed to rising energy prices, so it was basically ‘inflation’. The narrowing of the trade deficit in October has been shown to be a temporary uptick in exports driven by dollar weakness, which isn’t necessarily a ‘good thing’ either.

I don’t know about you good citizen but I don’t like being jerked around, articles like this coming out of the ‘paper of record’ for the US are just plain embarrasing. It’s bullshit like this from the MSM that make articles like our first offering look that much more credible!

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


Monday, December 21, 2009

'Shock & Awe..redux'

Greetings good citizen,

Hope everyone had a nice weekend. Sorry for the silence but other matters conspired. Seems something indeed erupted over the weekend to stir up the blogosphere and perhaps that’s the disturbing part, I haven’t seen a confirming story in the MSM…yet.

Um, flipping that rock over, the tale is running on several, er, ‘mainstream’ blogs which tends to lend this bizarre story credence. What am I babbling about? well, tonight’s offering was purloined from Michael Panzer’s site, Financial Armageddon, and the intro below is an excerpt from Mr. Panzer’s novel of the same name.

Shocked and Unnerved

Everywhere and anywhere, those seen as rejecting even a small measure of an America-centric perspective will be labeled undesirables, subversives, and even “enemy combatants,” whether or not evidence supports the assertion.
--Chapter 11, "Social," Financial Armageddon

Although I predicted as much in my 2007 book, even I am shocked and unnerved at how quickly the U.S. is abandoning principles that once defined our nation as "the land of the free and the home of the brave." In "Supreme Court Guts Due Process Protection," Naked Capitalism highlights a recent development that should frighten the wits out of any American who is still capable of thinking: [If this turns out to be true, good citizen, then nobody can deny that the gauntlet has been thrown to the ground. It is a ‘challenge’ we ignore at our own peril!]

Reader Walter passed along this distressing sighting from Chris Floyd’s blog. American civil liberties were gutted last week, and the media failed to take note of it.

The development? If the president or one of his subordinates declares someone to be an “enemy combatant” (the 21st century version of “enemy of the state”) he is denied any protection of the law. So any trouble-maker (which means anyone) can be whisked away, incarcerated, tortured, “disappeared,” you name it. Floyd’s commentary: [To put ‘Floyd’s observation a different way, you continued membership in US society now depends upon blind obedience to the dictates of the ‘unelected’ who have appointed themselves kings over the rest of us. Oddly, this act constitutes the commission of an act of treason by the president and his henchmen. (The president has no authority to ‘override’ the Constitution on his ‘say-so’ alone.) Worse, a ruling like this automatically ‘impeaches’ the Justices who decided in favor of such a ruling.]

After hearing passionate arguments from the Obama Administration, the Supreme Court acquiesced to the president’s fervent request and, in a one-line ruling, let stand a lower court decision that declared torture an ordinary, expected consequence of military detention, while introducing a shocking new precedent for all future courts to follow: anyone who is arbitrarily declared a “suspected enemy combatant” by the president or his designated minions is no longer a “person.” They will simply cease to exist as a legal entity. They will have no inherent rights, no human rights, no legal standing whatsoever — save whatever modicum of process the government arbitrarily deigns to grant them from time to time, with its ever-shifting tribunals and show trials. [This sets two very dangerous precedents, first it challenges the ‘legitimacy’ of the constitution itself by reserving the rights it guarantees to include only select individuals…and secondly, it removes any previous reason on your part to surrender peacefully; as the commission of a ‘crime’ will likely be used to ‘strip’ your rights from you…worse, that crime could be as simple as ‘disagreeing’ with those empowered to strip you of your rights.]

It is hard to overstate the significance of this horrid decision. The fact that the Supreme Court authorized this land grab says we no longer have an independent judiciary, that the Supreme Court itself is gutting the protections supposedly provided by the legal system. Per Floyd:

In fact, our most august defenders of the Constitution did not have to exert themselves in the slightest to eviscerate not merely 220 years of Constitutional jurisprudence but also centuries of agonizing effort to lift civilization a few inches out of the blood-soaked mire that is our common human legacy. They just had to write a single sentence.

Now Floyd saw this mainly as an issue of the treatment of enemy combatants and Obama hypocrisy about torture, which is bad enough:

The Constitution is clear: no person can be held without due process; no person can be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. And the U.S. law on torture of any kind is crystal clear: it is forbidden, categorically, even in time of “national emergency.” And the instigation of torture is, under U.S. law, a capital crime. No person can be tortured, at any time, for any reason, and there are no immunities whatsoever for torture offered anywhere in the law. [Which is why you are declared a ‘non-person’, making your torture and subsequent execution a ‘non-event’.]

And yet this is what Barack Obama — who, we are told incessantly, is a super-brilliant Constitutional lawyer — has been arguing in case after case since becoming president: Torturers are immune from prosecution; those who ordered torture are immune from prosecution….let’s be absolutely clear: Barack Obama has taken the freely chosen, public, formal stand — in court — that there is nothing wrong with any of these activities.

Yves here. The implications are FAR worse. Anyone can be stripped, with NO RECOURSE, of all their legal rights on a Presidential say so. Readers in the US no longer have any security under the law. [Make no mistake about it good citizen, the ‘status quo’ has officially declared ‘war’ upon you and yours!]

Roman citizens enjoyed a right to a trial, a right of appeal, and could not be tortured, whipped, or executed except if found guilty of treason, and anyone charged with treason could demand a trial in Rome. We have regressed more than 2000 years with this appalling ruling.

This is SERIOUS SHIT good citizen, especially if it turns out to be true. Losing your job and subsequently, your home is one thing but we’re talking about your right to ‘exist’ here good citizen!

Where do you suppose the first ‘line in the sand’ is going to turn up good citizen? Will they come for the ‘surplus’ population first? Will your failure to produce ‘proof of employment’ cost you your life? Imagine what your workplace will morph into once the boss gets his hands on THAT kind of power…makes you wonder who he will tell you’re fired first, you or the authorities? Hey, he doesn’t want to get fined and that would be all it would take to insure the ‘uh-oh’ squad was waiting for you at the time clock.

Serious, serious shit! And I hope you can see without my saying so that the ‘fabric’ of our society won’t last a month under conditions like that.

The bloodshed will be incredible.

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Losing streak resumes on Wall Street....

Greetings good citizen,

Where to begin? I picked up on an article early in the trading session figuring it would be woven into today’s ‘narrative’. As you know, the ‘Stupidity Index’ closed down 130 points today…well, when I snipped tonight’s offering the Dow was already down 40.

Will ‘The most wonderful time of the year’ be the backdrop for another ‘bloodbath’ on Wall Street? Christmas is only a week away…

Dow Slips for a Third Day, but the Dollar Strengthens

Published: December 17, 2009

Wall Street investors sold off on Thursday as light trading amplified concerns about foreign debt and a weaker-than-expected report on the labor market. [Now tonight’s second offering]

As traders turned away from the risks of the stock market, the dollar strengthened, hitting a three-month high against the euro. [Otay, NOW the markets sink when the dollar climbs…back when the markets were bouncing off of 14,000, the dollar was tanking.]

Losses in the financial sector also helped drag shares lower, pushing the Dow Jones industrial average down for a third day. Citigroup shares fell 7.25 percent, to $3.20, after the Treasury Department said it would delay plans to begin unwinding its stake despite the bank’s desire to free itself of government support. Citigroup had priced its shares at $3.15, below the $3.25 at which the government assumed its one-third stake. [Truth be told, this ‘offering’ failed to attract enough bidders so the Gummint got ‘cold feet’ and backed away before somebody got lynched!]

The dollar surged to its highest levels since September. It hovered slightly above $1.43 against the euro, after weeks of trading at or above $1.50.

By the end of the day, the Dow Jones industrial average had fallen 132.86 points, or 1.27 percent, to 10,308.26. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index dropped 13.10 points, or 1.18 percent, to 1,096.08, while the Nasdaq composite index declined 26.86 points, or 1.22 percent, to 2,180.05. Crude oil dropped a penny a barrel to settle at $72.65.

A light trading day exaggerated the declines, analysts said. In recent weeks, hedge fund managers and investment strategists have sold shares in an effort to cash in on profits.

On Thursday, an unexpected increase in the number of people filing for unemployment benefits left investors turning to dollars as a safe haven. [Are investors really that stupid or do they merely think we are? What we saw today was profit taking, nobody really believes the employment markets are coming back anytime soon!]

The number of filings increased to 480,000 last week, 15,000 more than expected. Still, the job market has shown signs of improvement recently though at least 15.4 million Americans are still out of work. [It only stands to reason that they can’t throw EVERYBODY out of work and 15 million puts a pretty big dent in the number of ‘expendable’ people out there.]

Traders are nervous about emerging markets, particularly after the debt crisis in Dubai. On Thursday, those concerns came to the fore when Standard & Poor’s downgraded the credit rating of Greece, which has struggled to reduce its deficit. Some analysts worry that growing deficits could steer weak economies into fresh downturns. [That’s a bold faced lie too…the real worry is monkey see, monkey do…that civil unrest will get out of hand and they’ll have to call in the ‘big guns’ in to restore order…then the damn jig will be up. If the UN is called in, it’s automatically ‘Game on!’ (Not that there’s enough of the UN to go around.)]

Investors appear to be backing off a rush to sell the dollar that dominated the markets for much of the year. Yields on Treasury bonds have steadily risen, and many investors say they believe an end is in sight to the near-zero interest rates imposed by the Fed, strengthening the dollar’s appeal. Higher interest rates mean more lucrative returns for dollar holders. [And if The Fed throws the US ‘under the bus’ to satisfy the investors, there ain’t a fucking thing you can do about it!]

On Wednesday, the Fed said it would leave low rates in place for an “extended period,” which most analysts took to mean at least six months. But Brian Dolan, chief currency strategist at, said rates could remain low even longer, keeping the dollar weak. [Why do you suppose Brian is saying this? Could it be because he can’t imagine the havoc that will be created when the markets ‘seize up’ again? Yeah, I think that’s what he’s saying…]

“It’s not at all clear that the Fed is going to tighten rates in 2010,” Mr. Dolan said. [Although they might if the ‘recovery’ commits suicide early in 2010.]

As the recovery takes hold, investors seem to be finding reasons for restraint in each economic report. Signs of strength create worries that the Fed will raise interest rates; indications of a slow recovery make investors nervous about the risk for another downturn.

“We’re transitioning from an ‘end of the world’ outlook to a fragile recovery,” said Stephen P. Wood, chief market strategist for Russell Investments. [Um, geez Steve, why do you think that or more succinctly, how do you tell the difference? It’s still looking a lot like ‘game over’ from where I’m sitting…a lot of things have to go extremely well just to keep this apple cart on its wheels.]

New Jobless Benefit Claims Rise Unexpectedly

[Without further comment, here is the report of the ‘unexpected’ rise in unemployment…]

Published: December 17, 2009

Filed at 9:20 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of newly laid off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week as the recovery of the nation's battered labor market proceeds in fits and starts.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of new jobless claims rose to 480,000 last week, up 7,000 from the previous week. That was a worse performance than the decline to 465,000 that economists had expected.

The four-week average for claims, which smooths out fluctuations, did fall, dipping to 467,500, the 15th straight decline, viewed as an encouraging sign that the labor market is gradually improving. The four-week average is now at its lowest point since late September 2008, the period when the financial crisis was hitting with full force.

Unemployment claims have been on a downward trend since this summer. That improvement is seen as a sign that jobs cuts are slowing and hiring could pick up as soon as early next year. But the rise in weekly claims of 7,000 last week, which had followed an increase of 19,000 the previous week, shows that the improvement has been halting.

Economists closely monitor jobless claims, which are considered a key gauge of the pace of layoffs with continuing claims viewed as an indication of how quickly laid off workers are getting new jobs.

Analysts believe that claims need to fall to about 425,000 for several weeks to signal the economy is actually beginning to add jobs.

The government said that the number of people receiving regular benefits rose by 5,000 to 5.19 million for the week ending Dec. 5. That figure does not include millions of people who have used up the regular 26 weeks of benefits typically provided by the state and are now receiving extended benefits for up to 73 additional weeks, paid for by the federal government.

The people receiving extended benefits jumped to 4.73 million for the week ending Nov. 28, an increase of 143,759 from the previous week. That big rise reflected the fact that a total of 17 states are now processing claims for the extension of benefits that Congress approved last month.

The economy grew at a 2.8 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter, the first growth in the gross domestic product after a record four straight quarters of shrinking GDP. A recent string of more positive reports is causing some analysts to revise higher their forecasts for growth in the current quarter to 3 percent or slightly better.

However, the concern is that unless unemployment starts to come down in a sustained way, consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity, will begin to falter, putting in jeopardy the fragile recovery from the nation's longest recession since the 1930s.

The jobless rate did dip in November to 10 percent, down from a 26-year high of 10.2 percent in October. But analysts are worried that unemployment will resume rising in coming months and will not peak until hitting 10.5 percent next summer. However, the November jobless report did show that businesses slashed their payrolls by just 11,000 jobs on net in November, the smallest decrease since the recession began two years ago.

Federal Reserve officials on Wednesday concluded their final meeting of the year with a decision to hold interest rates at ''exceptionally low levels'' for an extended period. The Fed has kept its key federal funds rate at a record low near zero percent for the past year and many economists don't look for any increases until the unemployment rate begins to move lower on a consistent basis.

In its assessment of the economy, Fed officials noted that economic activity was continuing to pick up and the pace of layoffs has been slowing.

There were 29 states with increases of more than 1,000 claims for the week ending Dec. 5 led by California, with a rise of 28,353, which it attributed in part to the fact that the unemployment offices were open for the full week giving applicants more time to file following the Thanksgiving holiday. Other states with big gains were Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New York.

The two states with declines of more than 1,000 were Kansas, with a drop of 3,803, and Kentucky, down by 2,048.

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Housing starts up?

Greetings good citizen,

I suppose today was another ‘goofy’ day in the markets, which opened higher but closed mixed with the Dow losing 10 points just before the close.

As usual, I copied tonight’s twin offerings well in advance of today’s closing bell…so they reflect conditions earlier in the trading day.

Let’s proceed to tonight’s first offering rather than get bogged down in a narrative, shall we?

Wall Street Opens Higher on Economic Reports
Published: December 16, 2009

Stocks opened higher Wednesday on Wall Street after the government said consumer prices rose in November, led by higher energy costs. [Not exactly ‘happy news’ and definitely not good news for the ‘consumer discretionary’ sector! So we can only wonder why the markets are headed ‘up’ instead of the opposite direction?]

A separate government report on housing showed construction rebounded last month, with all areas of country showing strength. [Considering the current housing ‘glut’ this is also hard to classify as ‘good news’.]

The data will likely be discussed by Federal Reserve policy makers who finish a two-day meeting on interest-rate policy Wednesday afternoon. Investors expect the Fed to hold rates steady even as the economy is showing signs of recovery. [Okay, now that it’s ‘after the fact’ it should come as a surprise to no one that investors got their ‘wish’ (although anyone wanting the Fed to raise rates right now is wishing death on the current economy.)]

The Labor Department said the Consumer Price Index, the government’s most closely watched inflation barometer, rose 0.4 percent in November, up from a 0.3 percent increase in October. The increase mostly reflected more expensive energy costs. [This isn’t the tune they were singing the other day, the other day this was being displayed as proof the imaginary ‘economic recovery’ was real!]

The Commerce Department said construction of new homes and apartments rose 8.9 percent in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 574,000 units. While the increase was slightly lower than economists had expected, the gain represents strength in all areas of the country. [Huh?]

At 10:15 a.m., the Dow Jones industrial average was up 45.95 points, or 10,497.95, a gain of 0.4 percent. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was 0.6 percent higher, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite was up 0.7 percent.

Shares in Europe mostly rose Wednesday on a report that finance regulators will give lenders a decade or more to meet stricter capital rules. [You can understand why the financial sector would be pleased with this news…but it’s hard to imagine why anyone else would be pleased…]

In afternoon trading in Europe, the FTSE 100 in London was up 0.3 percent. The DAX in Frankfurt was up 1.4 percent, while the CAC-40 in Paris was 0.9 percent higher.

Bank shares rose in Germany and France in particular, after the Nikkei financial daily reported that global banking regulators plan to delay new capital adequacy requirements for at least 10 years. The proposed requirements were regarded as particularly onerous for Japanese banks but Japan’s Financial Services Agency said there was no agreement in place. [And the point behind imposing new regulations on Japanese banks was supposed to be?]

On the DAX, Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank were the biggest risers of the day, while on the CAC-40 BNP Paribas and Société Générale were prominent gainers.

However, the stock was kept in check ahead of what could potentially be a crucial statement from the Federal Reserve at the conclusion of its last rate-setting meeting of the year.

There are mounting expectations that the accompanying statement will be slightly more hawkish than before following a string of better than expected economic data, particularly related to jobs. [Relax, the ‘improved’ jobs outlook has been determined to be just as ‘imaginary’ as the pretend ‘economic recovery’ is! There is no ‘real’ evidence for either claim.]

“Markets seem to be in limbo ahead of the Fed’s announcement on rates later today,” said Anthony Grech, market analyst at IG Index. [The Fed announced and the Dow dropped…how’s that? Um, actually ALL indexes dropped but the Dow was the only one to reach negative territory before the markets closed for the day.]

“Today seems as though it might set the tone for the final weeks of 2009 -- the Fed’s announcement will be received in the context of a global economy that appears to be recovering, with traders well aware that low rates and cash lifelines cannot last forever,” Mr. Grech added.

Meanwhile, bond prices were mixed. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.59 percent from 3.60 percent late Tuesday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.05 percent from 0.03 percent.

The dollar mostly fell against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Earlier, most markets in Asia fell, taking their lead from Wall Street Tuesday where investors fretted over the prospect of higher interest rates after a measure of U.S. inflation rose. [Wait a minute Slim! That was the same data that was being used as evidence of ‘consumer strength’…what are these fucktards trying to prove?]

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 202.18, or 0.9 percent, to 21,611.74 and South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.1 percent to 1,664.24. China’s Shanghai index slipped 0.6 percent as new share sales absorbed cash and sated buying appetite.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average bucked the trend as its financial sector was aided by the report in the Nikkei financial daily. It closed 93.93 points, or 0.9 percent, higher at 10,177.41 — its best finish since Oct. 27.

Sadly good citizen, global markets have been moving more or less in lockstep with the US markets…although I’m not convinced this is due solely to globalization…

So we arrive at tonight’s amazing second offering!

U.S. Reports Upturn in Home Building

Published: December 16, 2009

Builders broke ground on homes at a faster rate in November, the government said Wednesday, offering some hope that construction will continue a slow and steady revival that will spread through the broader economy. [There are over 15 million vacant properties across the US, how ignorant does this reporter think you are? Worse, who is STUPID enough to building new homes when there are so many pre-existing properties available that don’t carry the ‘never been owned’ premium that first time buyers can ill afford?]

Home construction increased to a seasonally adjusted annually rate of 574,000, the Commerce Department said, up 8.9 percent from October. Analysts attributed the increase to unexpectedly warm and dry weather in November after an unusually cold and wet October. [At this point in the game the weather isn’t a factor anymore…somebody’s being damn irresponsible with taxpayer cash! That’s what’s wrong with this picture.]

The number of building permits, an indicator of future construction that is not influenced by weather, rose 6 percent in November, reaching the highest level in a year after declining in October. [With such a huge ‘overhang’ of unsold houses some of this could be due to ‘impatience’ but that’s all it is. There aren’t enough ‘qualified buyers’ out there to put a floor back under the housing market…it simply isn’t there!]

“Builders are getting back on track to building homes again,” said Patrick Newport, United States economist for IHS Global Insight. “The inventory number is so low that unless they continue ramping up production they’re going to lose sales.” [Um, most of us already suspect that economists are only a half a step removed from a nitwit…Uh, that last statement is all of the evidence most of us need to be convinced we are indeed correct!]

Demand for homes has been propped up by a government tax credit for first-time home buyers, which expires in April. Economists expect demand for homes to grow at a modest rate through the spring.

Home construction has a powerful ricochet effect through the economy. Each new home is a sign of stupidity confidence that demand will be nonexistent robust in the months ahead, and after a home is sold, consumers typically stock up on refrigerators, appliances and Kryptonite locks furniture. Some economists estimate that construction will add 0.5 percent to gross domestic product in the fourth quarter. [And some economists think we will soon sign a free trade agreement with Mars!]

A separate report released Wednesday showed that inflation in the economy appears to be largely under control: consumer prices, excluding volatile food and energy costs, remained virtually unchanged in November. A decrease in apparel and household furnishing prices helped offset an increase in the price of airline tickets. [WTF!]

When food and energy were added, the Consumer Price Index rose 0.4 percent in November, largely because of a 6.4 percent jump in gasoline prices. On Tuesday, a report on producer prices showed unexpected gains in wholesale prices because of high energy costs, which economists expect to subside over the next several months. [Sadly these are the same economists that predict free trade with Mars…]

At 2:15 p.m., the Fed will announce its prognosis for the American economy. The Fed is expected to keep interest rates near zero, despite a weakening dollar, and many economists expect no change in its promise to keep rates low for an “extended period.” [Um, Not to alarm you but it appears these are, once again, the same economists who are convinced free trade with Mars is only weeks away…thought you should know.]

“Despite the pickup in inflation measures over the last few months (which the Fed is more than O.K. with), an outbreak of inflationary pressures throughout the economy remains less than likely in 2010,” Dan Greenhaus, chief economic strategist for Miller Tabak, wrote in a research note Wednesday.

A third report released Wednesday showed the current account deficit rising in the United States because of an increase in oil imports and industrial goods in the third quarter. The deficit increased to $108 billion in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said.

Um, does anyone else wonder why we are importing industrial goods? The natural question is why don’t we make these items ourselves…but that would be foolish, why make them when we can buy them for less than it costs to make them…but how did that happen?

The honest answer lies in crooked accounting, it will never be ‘cheaper’ to send raw materials half-way around the planet to be processed only to bring the finished product all the way back here, for ‘less money’ than it costs to produce the product right here…

This is the same flawed accounting that allows banks to carry bad assets on their balance sheets for more than their worth…these banks SHOULD BE bankrupt. But no! Only the borrowers had to surrender the ‘collateral’, the banks get to pretend the collateral is still worth something, even if they can’t find a ‘willing buyer’ (because they don’t exist!)

Stay with me now good citizen because this is important.

You NEED to recognize the fact that the system YOU RELY UPON for your CONTINUED SURVIVAL has become so corrupt that IT WILL SOON FAIL!

The estimates vary but there are between 15 and 18 million vacant/foreclosed housing units out there good citizen, DO YOU BELIEVE that the construction industry is (really) BUILDING NEW HOUSES?

Which may not be the best question but it’s another way of asking if you trust these chiseling weasels any farther than you can throw them?

It is in THEIR interest to convince YOU that everything is going to be FINE, even if it isn’t. The longer you do nothing, the more they will direct your attention away from their crimes.

Um, technically it is already ‘too late’ to prevent our old way of life from collapsing but that’s not as big a problem as it might seem. That path we used to be on had already led us where it ends. It is time to pick a new path if our species is to move forward.

It’s the end of the line for the self-interested, the only way forward is through placing the common good ahead of our personal needs.

No one can ‘advance’ alone.

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The 'Unsettled' economy...

Greetings good citizen,

The ‘Stupidity index’ stayed in negative territory today because inflation refused to remain ‘non-existent’. Understand the pundits are already saying this is an ‘insignificant blip’—that it’s nothing to worry about…until it is.

Rising interest rates are an economic nightmare come true…the only way to effectively combat inflation is to send interest rates through the ceiling…like Paul Volcker did. St. Ronnie Reagan used this same bitter economic medicine to sell 401k’s and money market accounts, telling us how we were all going to be rich, rich, rich!

Pray tell, why do you suppose we are in the mess we’re in? Could it be because we can’t pay the interest on the debt we already have? So how the hell are you supposed to pay when interest rates reach the stratosphere? Or perhaps the more interesting question is WHO will collect?

It certainly won’t be the people highlighted in tonight’s offering

Poll Reveals Trauma of Joblessness in U.S.

Published: December 14, 2009

More than half of the nation’s unemployed workers have borrowed money from friends or relatives since losing their jobs. An equal number have cut back on doctor visits or medical treatments because they are out of work.

"With the job market being as dreadful as it is, perhaps this is an opportunity for those of us unemployed to reinvent ourselves. "

Peter, Kenosha, WI [Um, how many of you think our pal Peter here deserves a vicious ‘dope slap’ for making such a moronic statement? Is there any truth to our politician’s claims that ‘more education’ will solve the unemployment dilemma? No! Because there isn’t a good answer to the question of what one should train for. Until it requires a college degree to secure employment at a drive-up window, there’s nothing to ‘train’ for.]

Almost half have suffered from depression or anxiety. About 4 in 10 parents have noticed behavioral changes in their children that they attribute to their difficulties in finding work. [Isn’t that just choice? There are some folks who have experienced more worrisome and immediate difficulties like where their next meal is coming from! Match that with the problem of how they will they survive the night without freezing to death? But no, these assholes point at the ‘mental anguish’ part of the puzzle like it was the most traumatic thing these people have to deal with!]

Joblessness has wreaked financial and emotional havoc on the lives of many of those out of work, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll of unemployed adults, causing major life changes, mental health issues and trouble maintaining even basic necessities. [It is statements like these that make you wonder just how often these people stick their heads outside their Ivory Towers? Just how clueless are they?]

The results of the poll, which surveyed 708 unemployed adults from Dec. 5 to Dec. 10 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points [This statement is not factual. In college we learned that in order to have a ‘representative sample’ the minimum sample size for a four point margin of error was 5,000 respondents! So most surveys are full of what makes the grass grow green! (Because they lack a valid sample size)] help to lay bare the depth of the trauma experienced by millions across the country who are out of work as the jobless rate hovers at 10 percent and, in particular, as the ranks of the long-term unemployed soar.

Roughly half of the respondents described the recession as a hardship that had caused fundamental changes in their lives. Generally, those who have been out of work longer reported experiencing more acute financial and emotional effects. [Um, it makes you wonder if this information ‘astonished’ the data collectors for them to use such curious phrasing?]

“I lost my job in March, and from there on, everything went downhill,” said Vicky Newton, 38, of Mount Pleasant, Mich., a single mother who had been a customer-service representative in an insurance agency. [Um, does anyone want to take an ‘educated guess’ why Vicky got it in the jugular? The answer is just a couple of sentences back and has to do with her own um, ‘insurance requirements’…pretty damn sick when the industry that employs you is also the reason your position was cut. They didn’t close the agency…in fact, experienced insurance CSR’s are in demand…unless they ‘consume’ too much of their own product. No employer will admit they terminated an employee because they had a high benefit cost...but that doesn’t mean they won’t mark that employee for ‘downsizing’ should the need arise. I’m speaking from direct experience here, same thing happened to my wife.]

“After struggling and struggling and not being able to pay my house payments or my other bills, I finally sucked up my pride,” she said in an interview after the poll was conducted. “I got food stamps just to help feed my daughter.”

Over the summer, she abandoned her home in Flint, Mich., after she started receiving foreclosure notices. She now lives 90 minutes away, in a rental house owned by her father.

With unemployment driving foreclosures nationwide, a quarter of those polled said they had either lost their home or been threatened with foreclosure or eviction for not paying their mortgage or rent. About a quarter, like Ms. Newton, have received food stamps. More than half said they had cut back on both luxuries and necessities in their spending. Seven in 10 rated their family’s financial situation as fairly bad or very bad.

But the impact on their lives was not limited to the difficulty in paying bills. Almost half said unemployment had led to more conflicts or arguments with family members and friends; 55 percent have suffered from insomnia. [And the other half lied about their answer.]

“Everything gets touched,” said Colleen Klemm, 51, of North Lake, Wis., who lost her job as a manager at a landscaping company last November. “All your relationships are touched by it. You’re never your normal happy-go-lucky person. Your countenance, your self-esteem goes. You think, ‘I’m not employable.’ ” [Sadly Colleen speaks the truth for anyone over 50 who loses their job. It’s no different here than it is in China, the thinking is ‘you can’t keep up with the kids’…worse, if your job requires specialized knowledge, the kid fresh out of college is up on the latest techniques while what you know is twenty years out of date!]

A quarter of those who experienced anxiety or depression said they had gone to see a mental health professional. Women were significantly more likely than men to acknowledge emotional issues.

Tammy Linville, 29, of Louisville, Ky., said she lost her job as a clerical worker for the Census Bureau a year and a half ago. She began seeing a therapist for depression every week through Medicaid but recently has not been able to go because her car broke down and she cannot afford to fix it. [Um, considering 2010 is a ‘census year’ coming up something ‘stinks’ about using this particular story as an example…]

Her partner works at the Ford plant in the area, but his schedule has been sporadic. They have two small children and at this point, she said, they are “saving quarters for diapers.”

“Every time I think about money, I shut down because there is none,” Ms. Linville said. “I get major panic attacks. I just don’t know what we’re going to do.”

Nearly half of the adults surveyed admitted to feeling embarrassed or ashamed most of the time or sometimes as a result of being out of work. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the traditional image of men as breadwinners, men were significantly more likely than women to report feeling ashamed most of the time. [I suspect this is a ‘mis-statement’…I’m not even a little ‘embarrassed’ about being unemployed because it wasn’t my fault. In fact, getting downsized is seldom the ‘victim’s’ fault so stating that most unemployed men feel ‘embarrassed’ by their predicament ‘mis-states’ their ‘frustration’ at having to start over again somewhere else as the ‘bottom man’.]

There was a pervasive sense from the poll that the American dream had been upended for many. Nearly half of those polled said they felt in danger of falling out of their social class, with those out of work six months or more feeling especially vulnerable. Working-class respondents felt at risk in the greatest numbers. [Sadly, many people fail at correctly identifying their ‘true’ class here in our supposedly ‘classless’ society. There’s hardly a nickel’s worth of difference between the working poor and the poor. Case in point, if you ask your peers, almost all of them will tell you they are ‘middle class’…but do yourself a favor, steer clear of having them explain ‘why’ they think they are middle class because you will lose respect for a lot of these people. If they ‘volunteer’ this information, do your best to keep a straight face!]

Nearly half of respondents said they did not have health insurance, with the vast majority citing job loss as a reason, a notable finding given the tug of war in Congress over a health care overhaul. The poll offered a glimpse of the potential ripple effect of having no coverage. More than half characterized the cost of basic medical care as a hardship. [The sad truth is most of us can’t afford health insurance on our own, it is ‘cost prohibitive’ if you aren’t part of a large group and even then, few of us earn enough to cover the cost.]

Many in the ranks of the unemployed appear to be rethinking their career and life choices. Just over 40 percent said they had moved or considered moving to another part of the state or country where there were more jobs. More than two-thirds of respondents had considered changing their career or field, and 44 percent of those surveyed had pursued job retraining or other educational opportunities. [Only to find there aren’t enough ‘entry level’ opportunities in their chosen field, the school recruiter lied to them.]

Joe Whitlow, 31, of Nashville, worked as a mechanic until a repair shop he was running with a friend finally petered out in August. He had contemplated going back to school before, but the potential loss in income always deterred him. Now he is enrolled at a local community college, planning to study accounting. [Big mistake! But it’s too late now. What people fail to understand is accounting isn’t ‘wall to wall’ employment and the few ‘permanent’ accounting positions out there don’t go begging.]

“When everything went bad, not that I didn’t have a choice, but it made the choice easier,” Mr. Whitlow said. [Sadly, Mr. Whitlow won’t learn of his error until AFTER he’s graduated and the only time anyone will want him is tax season; the rest of the year they have no use for him…unless their car breaks down.]

The poll also shed light on the formal and informal safety nets that the jobless have relied upon. More than half said they were receiving or had received unemployment benefits. But 61 percent of those receiving benefits said the amount was not enough to cover basic necessities. Most of us can’t live on half of our paycheck and that’s roughly what unemployment amounts to…if you weren’t laid off from a good paying job! If you were making more than $ 800 per week then unemployment leaves a really big hole in your pocket where there used to be cash.]

Meanwhile, a fifth said they had received food from a nonprofit organization or religious institution. Among those with a working spouse, half said their spouse had taken on additional hours or another job to help make ends meet.

Even those who have stayed employed have not escaped the recession’s bite. According to a New York Times/CBS News nationwide poll conducted at the same time as the poll of unemployed adults, about 3 in 10 people said that in the past year, as a result of bad economic conditions, their pay had been cut. [This is especially true if your paycheck was ‘performance based’…when there is less work to be had, you naturally make less money.]

In terms of casting blame for the high unemployment rate, 26 percent of unemployed adults cited former President George W. Bush; 12 percent pointed the finger at banks; 8 percent highlighted jobs going overseas and the same number blamed politicians. Only 3 percent blamed President Obama. [Notice that this doesn’t add up to 100% so you have to wonder why so many refused to answer this question?]

Those out of work were split, however, on the president’s handling of job creation, with 47 percent expressing approval and 44 percent disapproval. [Sadly, those who approve are not paying attention.]

Unemployed Americans are divided over what the future holds for the job market: 39 percent anticipate improvement, 36 percent expect it will stay the same, and 22 percent say it will get worse.

Our extremely ‘unscientific’ poll has proven ‘unreliable’ on several key issues. And believe you me, there is a heck of a lot more than a 4 % margin of error at play here!

We heard from Michigan, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Kentucky…pretty much all ‘around’ the ‘rustbelt’ with all four states being in the middle of the growing ‘economic desert’…to make matters more interesting…aren’t all of them ‘Red States’? Perhaps that accounts for the, er, ‘evasive’ answers to the question of who was responsible for the economic meltdown…

So, good citizen, should the unemployed take it upon themselves to ‘re-invent’ themselves or does the problem go deeper than that? Isn’t this a simple case of there not being enough jobs to go around once they got through shipping all of our ‘grunt work’ overseas?

No one likes ‘simple answers’, especially when they empty the pockets of the self-interested. There isn’t a ‘bogeyman’ out there ‘scaring all of the jobs away’, your ass was made ‘redundant’ so the shit head investor could pocket more of the profits rather than turning them over to you.

It is ‘their’ money after all. You ask them and that’s exactly what they’ll tell you! They don’t owe you anything but they hope to hell that their greed doesn’t stop you from buying their stuff!

Um, I think they should all be ‘stuffed’ with their ‘stuff’ and nobody should buy from them…but that’s just me. Until we make the ‘exploitation’ of one human by another illegal, this sort of ‘hooray for me and the hell with you’ bullshit will continue.

Moving on, I spied this article by Peter Schiff posted on the Asia Times today.

What caught my attention was the following paragraph:

Eventually, the cheap credit will dry up. Not because the Fed decides it should but because our foreign creditors stop lending. When that happens, this administration will look as clueless about economics as the last one was about the pitfalls of nation-building.

Yes, good citizen, ‘clueless’ sums the situation up rather nicely…

Thanks for letting me inside your head,