Monday, November 30, 2009

Skip, hop, stumble, splat...

Greetings good citizen,

After spending the majority of the day in negative territory, the ‘stupidity index’ limped into positive territory shortly before the close to finish the day at plus 34 points. Um, besides the US, only Mexico and China posted gains today, all of the other (major) markets closed lower.

Naturally, the Dow reaching positive territory altered the headline accompanying tonight’s offering it now reads how markets climbed, even if only a tiny amount.

Wall St Wanders as It Tries to Gauge Dubai Fallout

Published: November 30, 2009

Wall Street shares fluctuated on Monday as investors gauged the fallout from Dubai’s debt crisis and weighed results from the first weekend of holiday shopping.

The sales on the weekend after Thanksgiving provided a first snapshot of consumer spending for the holidays. Some 195 million people visited stores and shopped online over the weekend, up from 172 million last year, the National Retail Federation reported on Sunday. But total spending was virtually unchanged at $41.2 billion, and the average shopper spending fell to $343.31 a person, from $372.57 a year ago. [How about that good citizen, twenty million more shoppers this year than there were last year and they still only managed to spend the same amount of money as last year…I’m having a hard time counting that one as a ‘win’…]

As investors try to get a sense of the strength of the economic recovery, a report on business activity in the Midwest stirred some hopes. The Institute for Supply Management in Chicago recorded an unexpected pick-up in new orders in November, bringing the group’s business barometer to its highest level since August 2008. [How many of you will be surprised when these ‘unexpected orders’ turn out to be one time orders for military items?]

But traders on Monday seemed more focused on the situation in Dubai, where Dubai World, the emirate’s investment arm, said last week that it would not be able to make on-time payments for some of its $59 billion in debt. [But the Emirates have oil, the universal global currency. It’s hard not to view this as a contrived crisis…]

That rattled the markets Thursday and Friday, but on Sunday, the central bank in the United Arab Emirates tried to reassure investors by pledging to make extra financing available to all banks in the country, including foreign institutions with local branches.

Uri Landesman, head of global growth at ING, said investors saw danger in the potential ripple effects to other developing economies, even if American banks are not affected.

“What people are more concerned about are the other emerging market situations like this that could impact global banks,” he said. “This is still a very news-sensitive market.”

He called the retail numbers a “mixed bag,” but said there were signs of strength in consumer electronics sales.

On Wall Street, markets alternated between gains and losses on Monday. At midday, the Dow Jones industrial average and the broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index were down 0.2 percent. The Nasdaq was 0.5 percent lower.

The losses came as investors abandoned shares of retailers like Macy’s and JC Penney, which fell 6 percent and 4.7 percent. Shares of financial companies led gainers; Citigroup shares were up 0.8 percent, JPMorgan Chase was up 0.9 percent and Bank of America 1.2 percent higher. [Now there’s a ‘logical’ move (on the verge of another banking crisis) sell retail and buy banks! WTF!!!]

Stephen Lewis, head of research at Monument Securities in London, said Dubai was not big enough to set off a chain of lasting repercussions outside the Middle East of the same magnitude as the crisis in September 2008, when the failure of Lehman Brothers heightened worries about all financial institutions.

Mr. Lewis said Dubai World’s overreaching was likely to have dampening effects on Middle Eastern economies for some time, while the Islamic bond market, construction companies and European banks that have existing bad debt problems could all expect longer-term fallout.

Indeed, stocks in Dubai dropped Monday, although not as much as feared, as the market there reopened after a four-day holiday and traders got their first chance to catch up with the Dubai World news. [Okay, this is literally a ‘tempest in a teapot’ but in the greater scheme of things, it’s hard to see this as much more than a distraction.]

Dubai’s key stock market index was down 7.3 percent on Monday, while stocks in Abu Dhabi — Dubai’s neighbor to the southwest and another member of the emirates — tumbled 8.3 percent. Other indexes in that region were stable.

Shares in Dubai World plunged 15 percent.

But the cost of insuring corporate and government debt fell slightly in the United Arab Emirates, after surging late last week. It now costs $594,000 to insure $10 million of Dubai sovereign debt against default for five years, down from $647,000 on Friday. In Abu Dhabi, the cost fell to $147,000 from $176,000.

Beyond Dubai, European investors are also worried about the possibility of default from countries with the largest fiscal imbalances, like Greece and Ireland and, to a lesser extent, Britain. Low-rated corporate and sovereign bonds are being shunned by some investors.

European shares were down at the end of trading. In London, the FTSE 100 fell 1.1 percent, the CAC-40 in Paris was 1.1 percent lower, and the DAX in Frankfurt was down about 1.1 percent.

In Japan, the benchmark Nikkei 225 index climbed 2.9 percent, recouping some of the losses it suffered Friday, when global market jitters over the news from Dubai spread to Asia. The country’s three main banks all jumped: Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group by 8.9 percent, Mitsubishi UFJ by 8.6 percent and Mizuho Financial by 9.5 percent.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index rose 3.25 percent. Only Singapore dropped. The Straits Times index sagged more than a percent as the market, which was closed for a public holiday Friday, played catch-up with the broad declines at the end of last week.

On the foreign exchange markets, the euro gained, touching $1.5040 and the pound weakened as some investors worried that the potential damage that problems in the United Arab Emirates could have on Britain’s financial sector.

The yen — which usually gains in times of uncertainty, as it is seen as a safe haven — eased back slightly against the United States dollar and the euro, yet another signal that confidence was returning. By mid-morning in Europe, it traded at around 86.4 yen to the dollar, and 130.0 per euro.

“On the global scale, this episode will likely be remembered as a local or regional one and a buying opportunity for risk assets elsewhere,” said Dariusz Kowalczyk, chief investment strategist at SJS Markets in Hong Kong.

Bettina Wassener reported from Hong Kong.

I’m beginning to think they can’t put one of these stories in the pipe without quoting some obscure source that you’ve never heard of…(and will likely never hear from again.)

I wonder if this is ‘compensation’ for the period early in the crisis, when only certain pundits were quoted and how that gave the appearance of the media being myopic; although I can’t see how this change of tactics helps…

Leaving the news article behind, I encountered several disturbing reports today that made some of my more dire predictions look downright optimistic!

I admit it is difficult getting the timing right, but I’m still convinced that we are beyond the point of no return…life as we have come to know it won’t last much longer.

Where I differ from my gloomy peers is in the belief that the ‘muddle along’ phase will be short-lived. We will go from relative abundance to widespread scarcity virtually overnight. I also believe (save isolated, small-scale operations) that security will cease just as abruptly.

Once the supply lines breakdown, all bets are off…not in a couple of weeks but in a couple of minutes. Worse, the weak link here is right where you’d expect it to be…oil.

First they turn the money into confetti then we can’t get our hands on enough oil. (Because our money is no good.) Worse, we have nothing to trade for the oil except crowded, dangerous and therefore largely worthless ‘real estate’.

We do have some of the largest coal deposits on the planet…but they (the same jokers responsible for turning our currency into confetti) are doing their damnedest to render that asset worthless/too expensive to use.

Yes good citizen, it seems as though the ‘optimists’ among us can’t get beyond the idea that the leash will remain intact, regardless of how society suffers…I’m just not that sanguine.

Thanks for letting me inside your head as another Monday makes its way into the history books.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

A pox upon our nation...

Greetings good citizen,

I’ve lost count of how many articles I’ve run on the topic of food shortages or the steady rise in the number of people seeking food ‘assistance’. One thing is for sure, it’s the topic that keeps on giving.

Which brings us to the opposite side of that coin, if these stories actually mean something then why hasn’t it happened yet?

Maybe it’s not going to happen…although that’s nothing more than wishful thinking. A food shortage isn’t a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when.’ Worse, the food supply will probably ‘dry up’ in tandem with the money supply.

Which isn’t particularly ‘encouraging’ news, so we have to ask ourselves…why bother?

Isn’t watching this train wreck in slow motion excruciating enough? What am I hoping to accomplish besides making myself look foolish?

Well good citizen, it IS getting worse, each report is a bit more dire than the one before it.

Um, due to the length of the original article, you will need to use the link to read the whole story.

Food Stamp Use Soars, and Stigma Fades

Published: November 28, 2009

MARTINSVILLE, Ohio — With food stamp use at record highs and climbing every month, a program once scorned as a failed welfare scheme now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children. [Um, no good citizen, the number of applicants is rising because more and more people are ‘qualifying’. Back when these people had ‘good’ jobs, they didn’t qualify, now that they have shitty ‘new economy’ jobs (if they work at all) they do qualify!]

With millions of jobs lost and major industries on the ropes, America’s array of government aid — including unemployment insurance, food stamps and cash welfare — is being tested as never before. This series examines how the safety net is holding up under the worst economic crisis in decades. [Um, they have already pointed out that the extension of unemployment benefits to 92 weeks is unprecedented in the history of the program…worse, a record number of recipients will soon exhaust those extended benefits, while absolutely nothing is being done about the underlying cause of the crisis.]

It has grown so rapidly in places so diverse that it is becoming nearly as ordinary as the groceries it buys. More than 36 million people use inconspicuous plastic cards for staples like milk, bread and cheese, swiping them at counters in blighted cities and in suburbs pocked with foreclosure signs. [Interesting choice of verbiage there, don’t you think? The crisis is indeed a pox upon our nation, although some are suffering more than others…]

Virtually all have incomes near or below the federal poverty line, but their eclectic ranks testify to the range of people struggling with basic needs. They include single mothers and married couples, the newly jobless and the chronically poor, longtime recipients of welfare checks and workers whose reduced hours or slender wages leave pantries bare.

While the numbers have soared during the recession, the path was cleared in better times when the Bush administration led a campaign to erase the program’s stigma, calling food stamps “nutritional aid” instead of welfare, and made it easier to apply. That bipartisan effort capped an extraordinary reversal from the 1990s, when some conservatives tried to abolish the program, Congress enacted large cuts and bureaucratic hurdles chased many needy people away. [I suspect we would learn that this little known ‘helping hand’ from the Bush administration wasn’t enacted until after the economic crisis Bush’s political/economic policies created were in full bloom. It’s a little weird to hear about these programs so long after their creation…]

From the ailing resorts of the Florida Keys to Alaskan villages along the Bering Sea, the program is now expanding at a pace of about 20,000 people a day.

There are 239 counties in the United States where at least a quarter of the population receives food stamps, according to an analysis of local data collected by The New York Times. The counties are as big as the Bronx and Philadelphia and as small as Owsley County in Kentucky, a patch of Appalachian distress where half of the 4,600 residents receive food stamps.

In more than 750 counties, the program helps feed one in three blacks. In more than 800 counties, it helps feed one in three children. In the Mississippi River cities of St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans, half of the children or more receive food stamps. Even in Peoria, Ill. — Everytown, U.S.A. — nearly 40 percent of children receive aid. [I believe a report from nearly a year ago stated that 40 percent was a ‘national mean’, that 4 out of every 10 US citizens were receiving some kind of food assistance. It’s hard to get firm numbers because of the plethora of food assistance programs out there!]

While use is greatest where poverty runs deep, the growth has been especially swift in once-prosperous places hit by the housing bust. There are about 50 small counties and a dozen sizable ones where the rolls have doubled in the last two years. In another 205 counties, they have risen by at least two-thirds. These places with soaring rolls include populous Riverside County, Calif., most of greater Phoenix and Las Vegas, a ring of affluent Atlanta suburbs, and a 150-mile stretch of southwest Florida from Bradenton to the Everglades.

Although the program is growing at a record rate, the federal official who oversees it would like it to grow even faster. [Which is to say this remark isn’t as mean spirited as it appears to be…]

“I think the response of the program has been tremendous,” said Kevin Concannon, an under secretary of agriculture, “but we’re mindful that there are another 15, 16 million who could benefit.” [Yes good citizen, while the ‘stigma’ of receiving ‘food assistance’ has diminished, it hasn’t completely disappeared.]

Nationwide, food stamps reach about two-thirds of those eligible, with rates ranging from an estimated 50 percent in California to 98 percent in Missouri. Mr. Concannon urged lagging states to do more to enroll the needy, citing a recent government report that found a sharp rise in Americans with inconsistent access to adequate food.

“This is the most urgent time for our feeding programs in our lifetime, with the exception of the Depression,” he said. “It’s time for us to face up to the fact that in this country of plenty, there are hungry people.”

The program’s growing reach can be seen in a corner of southwestern Ohio where red state politics reign and blue-collar workers have often called food stamps a sign of laziness. But unemployment has soared, and food stamp use in a six-county area outside Cincinnati has risen more than 50 percent.

As the ‘economic desert’ grows, reality starts to sink in to the conservative mind…it is better to accept the ‘handout’ and survive than to perish for one’s misguided principles. But you know that isn’t how they see it, especially when the ‘aid’ is going to someone other than them.

But enough of that, this article is four pages long and I just couldn’t bring myself to put that much reading on your plate…not that I haven’t in the past or that I will continue to refrain in the future…just saying, ya know?

What got me going here was the rather dramatic rise in participation rates. This isn’t all due to rising unemployment; ‘underemployment’ is playing a strong role here too.

If we follow this ‘trend’, it is sure looking like half of us will soon be on some kind of food assistance program…and that by itself should make you go hmmn…

A population largely unable to feed itself is one of the surest early signs of social collapse, so why can’t we afford food?

Part of it is energy costs. Simply put, our paychecks aren’t keeping pace with the amount we are forced to spend on energy, leaving us less money to spend on other, er, ‘necessities’.

Of the four basic necessities, food, clothing, shelter and transportation, you have the most control over the smallest of the four…food.

If it costs you more to commute to your job, you usually lose the extra from your food and clothing budget…with clothing commonly representing a sacrifice in the ‘entertainment’ budget.

If you’re not being paid enough to ‘crack your nut’ and times like these don’t provide the leverage to get a raise, you either find yourself ‘in the hunt’ (for a new job) or looking for a way to stretch out your income!

And suddenly we have ‘food assistance’ to the rescue! Until the chiseler you work for finds out you’re on food stamps and they decide you don’t need a raise after all, you’ve got it covered, even if your underwear is in tatters.

Because that’s the ‘root’ of the problem good citizen, the people on ‘food assistance’ simply aren’t being paid enough!

Worse, good citizen, this problem is unlikely to straighten itself out. The boss isn’t going to volunteer to pay you more.

In fact, if it were up to him, he’d never pay you more! Which is why we shouldn’t allow anyone to cut anybody a paycheck! If the decision ever comes down to you or him, you aren’t even an afterthought. He wins, you lose.

Naturally, it is unhealthy for society to let any individual make this choice. At the end of the day, they simply don’t have enough information to make the right choice, never-mind that their motivation for making that choice is all wrong too!

If we are to save civilization (or what passes for it) we must remove ‘self-interest’ from the decision-making process. It has been proven time and again that a person acting in their own best interests will throw their entire civilization ‘under the bus’ because they do not comprehend the consequences of their actions.

Greed is seldom benign.

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Who the hell are you?

Greetings good citizen,

Often we are confronted with issues that define who we are. Are we really on our own or are we members of something larger, something bigger than what our feeble individual efforts can achieve?

And it is there that we encounter the basic fracture that splits ‘liberal from conservative’, that fracture begins with the never-ending argument over the superiority of individual effort or if teamwork matters more?

You’re a conservative if you value individual accomplishment over teamwork and you’re a liberal if you acknowledge that even the most gifted of individuals has merely built upon the work of those who came before them.

The bad thing about ‘generalities’ is it’s easy to say off track. tonight’s offering provides us with the ‘slap in the face’ brought to us by Reagan’s ‘Morning in America’ ideology…which gave us GW Bush’s ‘ownership society’.

[Hat tip: Cryptogon]

UN meets homeless victims of American property dream

There were not many people packed in to the Los Angeles "town hall" meeting who had heard of the foreign woman with the unfamiliar title who had come to listen to their tales of plight. But many took it as a good sign that she had worried the last American government enough for it to keep her out of the country.

Deanne Weakly was among the first to the microphone. The 51-year-old estate agent told how a couple of years ago she was pulling in $80,000 (£48,000) a year from commissions selling homes in LA's booming property market.

When the bottom fell out of the business with the foreclosure crisis, she lost her own house and ended up living on the streets in a city with more homeless than any other in America. She was sexually assaulted, harassed by the police and in despair.

She turned to the city and California state governments for help. "No one wanted to listen. They blame you for being homeless in the first place," she said. [Ironically, nobody ‘helps’ for the same reason nobody, er, ‘acknowledges’ protests, if ‘protests’ worked, we’d be besieged by countless ‘counter demonstrations’ and nothing would get resolved. Um, helping the homeless would entail helping the unemployed but helping either party would result in poking the employer class in the eye with a sharp stick. We return to the idea of solving a problem that powerful people don’t want solved. We could house the homeless tomorrow, but the price of that move would be the housing and the banking industries would collapse…which wouldn’t necessarily be a ‘bad thing’.]

Others followed, recounting in English or Spanish, sometimes Korean, their personal crises. Some shouted their anger, others laboriously recounted details of losing homes, families forced into overcrowded shelters, life on the streets.

The United Nations special rapporteur, Raquel Rolnik, listened to it all patiently, occasionally taking notes, nodding encouragement.

Rolnik had waited more than a year to tour cities across the US to prepare a report for the UN's human rights council on America's deepening housing crisis following the subprime mortgage debacle.

UN special rapporteurs are more often found investigating human rights in Sudan and Burundi or abuses of the Israeli occupation than exposing the underbelly of the American dream. George Bush's administration blocked her visit, finding itself in the company of Cuba, Burma and North Korea in blocking a special rapporteur. [Isn’t it ironic that conservatives are quick to call liberals ‘commies’ while their own actions prove they are fascists…it’s not the words but the deeds.]

"I was asking for almost a year before I was allowed in," Rolnik said.

When Barack Obama came to power she was welcomed to range across America talking to those who have lived on the streets for years and the newly homeless forced out by the foreclosure crisis. [and guess who will get blamed for the bad press the Bush administration is responsible for…]

Rolnik, a Brazilian urban planner and architect, said administration officials were genuinely interested in what she might find, if not embracing of her raison d'etre that everyone is entitled to a decent home.

"One of the first meetings I had at the state department they clearly told me: here, adequate housing is not a human right," she said.

"I was shocked when I realised that the US, and countries in Europe – England – as well, had a solid housing policy for many years that worked pretty well. That was dismantled and the situation became worse throughout the nineties. Then we had this financial crisis and a real crisis in housing. It's all tied together," she said.

"But I didn't expect to see what I have seen. In some ways the situation is worse than I expected."

Rolnik traveled from New York and Chicago to New Orleans and South Dakota's Native American reservations, talking to the homeless, the desperate, the foreclosed, and the officials who run housing policy.

Her final stop was Los Angeles, the homeless capital of the nation. Up to 100,000 people are sleeping on the streets or in shelters on any given night. Some have been living like that for years. Others found themselves suddenly destitute as the bank seized their home or they lost a job and couldn't pay the rent.

Two years ago about 1,300 people were evicted from properties in central LA. Last year it was 15,500. Across the wider Los Angeles region 62,400 people were thrown out of their homes. [Worse good citizen, ¾’s of them are armed.]

"There is a predictable path for those who lose their jobs and can't pay the rent or the mortgage," Gary Blasi, a University of California law professor, told Rolnik. "First they live with friends and relatives, but they're poor, too. Then they live in their cars until the cars get towed or break down. Some live in tents. Almost all the camping grounds within 100 miles of Los Angeles are now filled with people living in them."

A single person on welfare living in Los Angeles receives $221 a month – an amount that hasn't changed in a decade. The rent for one room is typically nearly double that. Too often the newly destitute end up on the streets.

"I had a job as a cashier in K-Mart and shared a house with other women," Deborah Burton told Rolnik. "But then I lost my job and when you lose your job you lose your home. You can't pay the rent."

Burton, 57, found herself sleeping on the streets. She explained how the tents go up on Skid Row in central LA after dark but must be down before dawn.

"If you aren't up and moving by 6am, the police arrest you for sleeping or sitting on the sidewalk. It goes on your record and makes it very difficult to get [public] housing," she said. "Not many think of us as people. Don't criminalise us because we find ourselves in a certain situation. No one wants to be homeless."

Doris Tinson certainly doesn't but she is on the brink of losing the house she bought in 1964 for $29,000. She paid off the mortgage several times as she borrowed against the house to supplement her pay as a nurse and send her children, and then grandchildren, to college.

Then a few years ago, a man came knocking offering her a cheap mortgage, a fraction of the value of the house by then put at $750,000. Tinson took out the $87,000 loan but along the way the monthly payments quadrupled to $2,324, nearly her entire income and they are set to rise again. [Worse, nothing ‘criminal’ was done here because usury is legal, thanks to the GW Bush administration.]

"The mortgage went up because the interest rate went up. I still don't know how that happened," she told Rolnik.

On Los Angeles' own Wall Street, in the poorer, mostly black and Hispanic, south of the city, the "for sale" signs hang outside the boarded and secured foreclosed homes with warning notices against trespass. On average homes have lost two-thirds of their value in south central LA. [Gee, you don’t hear that from the fuckers peddling the false economic recovery! According to them, home prices are rising!]

At the end of 2008 about 2% of Los Angeles homes had been foreclosed on. Housing activists told Rolnik that was mostly because of sharply increasing unemployment and predatory lending that exploited the vulnerable.

Rolnik takes it all in. Later she describes herself as disturbed that a country so rich is in many ways is so deficient and indifferent in dealing with its poor and vulnerable.[It was all about ‘exploitation’, they used the mortgage backed securities to drain the cash out of the worker’s pension funds!]

She says that the more recent conservative philosophy of dismantling the old policy of providing affordable housing to those with smaller incomes in favour of the illusion that everyone can, and should, buy their own home played a central role in not only creating the housing crisis but the financial one.

"Part of the financial crisis has to do with these housing policy options because one of the main ideas of this policy is to promote home ownership to those who never got access to property. People who never had credit finally had banks provide them credit and they can buy a home. But it didn't work for the poor. [Understand, putting ‘poor people’ into houses wasn’t the goal of the sub-prime debacle. It was about creating enough MBS to swap for the cash ‘trapped’ in pension funds, this is why Wall Street didn’t care if these bogus products blew up, they didn’t have to work forever, they only had to work ‘long enough’.

"So now we have a new face of homelessness – people who had homes, were not living in public housing, were not living in assisted housing, but now are in a position of asking for assistance because they're homeless. But the public housing has been destroyed," she said.

Rolnik held a town hall meeting in every city she had visited. They were always packed.

At the Los Angeles meeting, the queues quickly formed at the three microphones.

Toni Matthews has been homeless for nearly nine years. "I wrote to Washington but nobody ever answered," she said. [She could have called her congressperson but I think we already discussed what a ‘fool’s errand’ that would have been.]

A Spanish-speaking veteran of the Korean war steps up. He is the angriest of the lot. He is not a communist, he says, but in Cuba nobody goes homeless. He fought for America and now he is left to live on the streets. [Just how ‘damning’ an indictment is that good citizen? What does a nation owe its people…if you’re a conservative, the answer is nothing.]

Others tell of being evicted by unscrupulous landlords, of living in dangerous and filthy buildings and how the city council doesn't force landlords to obey the law. The frustration is mixed with a sense of powerlessness. [Yeah, good citizen, who do you extract justice from when the law protects your oppressor? Which is to say the civil service sector is long overdue for a good douche.]

"Anyone can end up in this situation, living on the streets. Don't imagine it can't happen to any of you," shouted a man.

Away from the microphone, Deanne Weakly says she had never heard of a UN special rapporteur but she's glad Rolnik turned up. [Um, I’m guessing Deanne isn’t alone, I’d never heard of such a thing either.]

"I am grateful for the spotlight on the homeless. The spotlight of attention on what people don't think exists here. These people have no voice. They're afraid. Not everyone has a big mouth like me," she said.

Deborah Burton thinks it is a shameful reflection on America that Rolnik should be in the US. [You can bet that the Bush Administration wholeheartedly agreed with that sentiment!]

"America is one of the richest countries in the world. For me as a citizen and a person of colour I think it's important to let the rest of the world know what's going on here," she said.

"American politicians come and listen but they don't do anything. The question we have to answer is why this has been going on so long." [Why do you suppose this question has gone unanswered for so long?]

Rolnik doesn't pretend she can change the situation. All she can do, she tells the crowd at the meeting, is to draw their problems to the attention of their government and warn others of the dangers. [Not that this is particularly ‘productive’, providing genuine ‘relief’ to those society cheats out of their just share would mean erecting barriers to the exploitative behavior the privileged few use to wax rich at our expense.]

"The US has exported this an economic model with the idea that everyone can organize themselves under that model. It's very important for the rest of the world to know who fits in to this model and who is excluded," she tells her audience.

Understand good citizen, this model has indeed been ‘exported’ and what do you suppose most of the ‘importing’ governments have done with it? They followed the blueprint scrupulously and created ‘Banana Republic’s’. It is the same ‘model’ we exported to both Russia and China…only China ‘discarded’ the ‘democratic illusion’ part as being too dangerous.

Which leaves us with another unanswered question…how long will the ‘ballot box’ survive here in the US now that it threatens the rule of the oligarchs? Mr. Obama may well be the last president because his election has failed miserably to change anything…but they have three years before there’s another general election and a lot can happen in three years.

Left to your imagination is whether or not there will be change for the better or if the changes will serve to make things worse?

I think it is extremely damning to see that the Clinton State Department ‘regurgitated’ the ‘conservative’ point of view regarding the welfare of the, er, residents of this nation. In the final analysis, we were screwed regardless of which candidate won the oval office, they may as well have run Karl Rove!

Okay, I’m done kicking those people who pass themselves off as Democrats in the shins. It seems to me that nobody ‘worthy’ of the title Democrat can pass the party sniff test set up by our corporate overlords…

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


Friday, November 27, 2009

Fault lines, cracks and rumblings...

Greetings good citizen,

Here’s to wishing that each and every one of you had a pleasant holiday…which naturally infers that yesterday was a holiday wherever it is you hang your hat.

Pleasantries aside, today presented us with an abbreviated market session and a crisis that has been percolating in one of the tiny ‘emirates’ of the Middle East.

Perhaps that is the ‘disturbing’ part of this whole deal, that one tiny Arab nation could be causing such serious turmoil on the world’s financial markets. But the ‘trouble’ that has investors worried is ‘contagion’, that the collapse of commercial real estate in Dubai will ‘spread’ to other ‘troubled’ nations…leaving banks on the hook for billions more in losses.

And we all know how, um, ‘vitally important’ it is to global finance (and those who own it) that the global banking system remain ‘robustly solvent’ (because you never know when those who own the global banking system will have the need to make ‘a quick get away’.)

While tonight’s offering tells us otherwise, it’s interesting to see how problems in nation smaller than our smallest state have created havoc on, ironically, the US stockmarkets.

Dubai Debt Troubles Push Down Stocks in U.S. and Asia
Published: November 27, 2009

Wall Street turned sharply lower at the open on Friday, as traders scrambled to play catch-up after downturns in Asian and European markets over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Investors were spooked by reports that Dubai World, the emirate’s investment vehicle, was seeking to suspend repayments on all or part of its $59 billion in debt. That pushed shares down more than 3 percent on European markets on Thursday; Asia markets posted similar declines on Friday.

At mid-morning, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.9 percent or 94 points. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fell 1.1 percent or 12 points, and the technology-dominated Nasdaq slipped 1 percent or 22 points. The stock markets will close at 1 p.m. Friday after being closed Thursday for Thanksgiving. The bond markets close at 2 p.m. [The US markets closed down 150 points, and only the Asian and US markets were affected. The European markets managed to ‘shrug off’ the negative news…]

The dollar was just below $1.50 to the euro, and crude oil prices fell $3.08 to $74.88 in New York trading. Treasury prices rose.

Analysts said they thought Thursday’s declines might be overdone, and that a true picture of the market’s reaction would emerge next week as buyers return from the holiday and as more details on the Dubai situation come out.

“I don’t think it’s devastating at all,” said Jeffrey Saut, chief investment strategist at Raymond James. “Nobody knows the collateral damage, but it is clear that our banks have exposure to European banks.” [Who’s that and why the hell should I care? Notice how Chumley is ‘re-enforcing’ the tie between the US and the European markets, which vanished by the end of trading today. ]

A research note Friday from Credit Suisse estimated that European banks may be the hardest hit if Dubai World cannot meet its obligations, with total exposure estimated at 13 billion euros ($19.6 billion). European banks on Friday played down their exposure. [And all three major European stock exchanges closed in positive territory, so maybe the ‘problem’ lies elsewhere…]

“Dubai is really a symptom, a legacy, from the previous boom, rather than symptomatic of a start of a whole new set of issues that are going to create a systemic crisis in emerging markets,” Kevin Grice, senior international economist at Capital Economics in London, said. “Markets assume the worst-case scenario.”

The uncertainty in Dubai did not suggest a coming collapse of the global real estate market, Mr. Grice said. [Combine the statement above with the statement below and it looks like Mr. Grise is shooting in the dark and has no idea what’s at stake here.]

Late in the day, European markets were slightly higher. The FTSE 100 in London was up 71 points, or 1.4 percent, while the DAX in Frankfurt rose 87 points or 1.6 percent. In Paris, the CAC-40 increased 61 points or 1.7 percent. [Makes you wonder why US markets didn’t enjoy a similar ‘bump’?]

In Europe, investors were concerned about the state of public finances and possible credit rating downgrades in Greece and Ireland.

Asian markets fell. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong declined 4.8 percent and South Korea’s key market gauge, the Kospi, dropped 4.7 percent. The Nikkei 225 index in Japan and the Taiex in Taiwan both sagged 3.2 percent. [I dislike using percentages because it tends to downplay the harsher actual figures…which is why the media uses them.]

The market turmoil was touched off by Wednesday’s announcement from Dubai, one of the seven members of the United Arab Emirates, that it was asking banks to allow Dubai World to suspend its debt repayments for six months.

Dubai’s move — the global high-finance equivalent of a homeowner asking the bank to allow six months of skipped mortgage payments because of a shortage of cash — sowed fear of a contagion of instability that could roil markets that are only now allegedly recovering from the near cataclysm of the last year.

“This has sent shockwaves through the markets, even though the problems in Dubai have been known about for two years,” Emil Wolter, a Hong Kong-based strategist the Royal Bank of Scotland, said by phone from Paris.

“But it is not the trigger for a brand-new crisis. Yes, the magnitude of the situation is dramatic for Dubai. But Dubai is not America — and they hope a property crisis in Dubai will not cause the same global crisis as a property crisis in the States.”

Some market experts noted, for instance, that while banks that have lent money to Dubai World could suffer significant losses if the company were to default on all or part of its debt, worries about the sovereign debt of oil-rich Middle Eastern countries were unfounded.

Paul Schulte, head of multi-strategy research at Nomura in Hong Kong, commented in a note on Friday: “Dubai was a carbon copy of Thailand’s disastrous foray as an ‘international financial center’ in the 1990s. Happily, the U.A.E. has oil. Thailand did not.”

Like many Western consumers during the good times, Dubai gorged on debt and borrowed too much to finance a building boom that has gone bust in the downturn.

“Dubai was fairly much the worst example of over extension. It had the worst debt per capita in the world by far,” Christopher Davidson, an expert in Gulf politics at Durham University in Britain, said Thursday. “I would like to put it down as a really enormous white elephant that doesn’t have much in common with the regular economy of a regular state.”

Um, odd to see a Brit make such a point when the English are carrying more personal debt per capita than any other ‘advanced’ nation, so naturally we’re talking ‘apples and oranges’ here. Personal debt and national debt are two entirely different animals.

Which brings us to another disturbing topic I stumbled across in my reading today, the subject of ‘financial literacy’.

Most of you have no idea what money is or where it (allegedly) comes from and that fact alone is frankly very damn disturbing because it leads to the issue of why so many people are absolutely ignorant about such a fundamental fact of life…

Apparently there is some sort of ‘financial literacy’ project out there intended to raise the awareness of the average individual BUT the program has so far been a miserable failure with graduates remaining just as if not more clueless than when the program first started!

Which brings us to the issue that certain people have a vested interest in your remaining ignorant. Worse, these same people have stepped up to design (or at the very least ‘approve’) a curriculum that teaches you nothing.

Why, so you’ll continue to believe the lies they spread to cover their theft from the rest of us.

What’s the first lie good citizen? You should know this one, I talk about it often enough! The first lie has to do with how you get your hands on some of that delightful stuff we call money and it’s directly related to the ‘employer/employee’ contract.

Don’t get the wrong impression good citizen, there are a ton of other lies wedged in behind the fantasy that justifies someone stealing what is naturally yours and charging you to buy it back.

It’s descriptions like this that the self-described ‘lucky’ (or worse, self-made) among us don’t want to have to defend. They want you to believe it is a ‘done deal’ it happened a long time ago and perhaps the biggest lie, that it’s too late to alter it now.

Sadly good citizen, even if we have been ‘doing it this way for time out of mind’ that alone doesn’t make it ‘right’.

In fact, you have a ‘right’ to far better treatment than you have, er, ‘enjoyed’ to date. The ‘stick’ of being able to decide who works and who doesn’t must be removed from the hands of the unappreciative and worse, ignorant.

So good citizen, do you ‘know’ what money is or are you a member of the ‘ignorant majority and only think you know?

Thanks for letting me inside your head


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Markets rise as Dollar slides....

Greetings good citizen,

It’s more than a little frustrating to think the rich are getting richer while the rest of us are slipping further and further behind. Which begs a more disturbing question…at what point do those who rob and cheat you with impunity set themselves up as your overlord?

Make no mistake about it good citizen, you DEFINITELY don’t get the SAME treatment under the law as the RICH enjoy!

Why half of these dogs remain free is a question most of us can’t answer, least of all those charged with enforcing the law. Sadly the determining factor here is who cuts your paycheck, something the ‘public sector’ was supposed to remove the inherent conflict from.

So yes, good citizen, the rich get richer while you fall farther behind, which is to say you literally get poorer because the cash in your pocket continues to shrink in value.

The rich don’t have this problem because as the value of money goes down, the value of their assets automatically goes up! Sure, their money falls at the same rate yours does but the rich have more than just a stack of cash.

If you’ve ever wondered why the rich own most of the world’s stocks, it’s because stocks are one of the few assets that appreciate in value in ‘real’ terms. Now don’t get me wrong here, stocks can become worthless just as currency can. A collector may pay you handsomely for Confederate currency but you can’t use it a store! As we all have seen in recent time, stocks lose value too (although they tend to run in the opposite direction the local currency travels.)

As an example, when stocks hit their lows back in March, the dollar was the strongest it had been in years! (Compared to other currencies…)

Anyway, the ‘stupidity index’ closed up 30 points today as tonight’s offering explains how this was once again due to the ‘falling dollar’.

Dollar Continues Its Slide; Markets Rise

Published: November 25, 2009

The dollar slid to a 15-month low against the euro Wednesday as investors fled the safe haven currency on upbeat economic reports. [Naturally, the fucktards want to paint the idea of the average person becoming poorer as a ‘good thing’, notice how they took the trouble to ‘connect’ the falling dollar to the ‘rising economy’!]

On Wall Street, shares were slightly higher after the Federal Reserve indicated that interest rates would remain at super-low levels for a while yet and that it was not overly concerned by dollar’s decline. [Which PS, by the way, our pal BenBer is powerless to stop, worse, he’s largely responsible for the losses!]

The euro climbed to $1.5077 in New York trading from $1.4975 late Tuesday, having earlier risen to $1.5096, its highest level since August 2008. The dollar fell to 87.56 Japanese yen from 88.56 yen, after earlier falling to 87.36 yen, its weakest level since January and close to 14-year lows.

The renewed slump in the dollar was driven largely by the publication Tuesday of the minutes to the Fed’s last rate-setting meeting in November. [See what I mean?]

The Fed said at the time that it planned to keep interest rates at “exceptionally low levels” for an “extended period” —currently the Fed funds rate stands at a range between zero and 0.25 percent -- and that the fall in the dollar had been “orderly.”

Currency traders seized on the reference to the dollar as the Fed is usually wary of talking about changes in currency values.

Stuart Bennett, senior foreign exchange strategist at Calyon Credit Agricole, said there was now a chance that the euro’s breakthrough opened the way for a “rapid” move higher, especially if stocks remain well-bid — for much of the past year, the dollar has moved in opposite direction to stocks. [ IF we were producing more than we were importing, the dollar would move in the same direction as stocks…since we import more than we produce, a situation that’s only good for retailers, the dollar moves in the opposite direction of stocks.]

As the dollar weakened, gold prices hit another record. Crude oil increased $1 to $77.02 a barrel. [It’s a damn good thing oil is ‘hovering’ or the phantom recovery would be ‘crushed’, nobody would buy it.]

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 15 points, or 0.15 percent. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index rose 2.50 points, and the Nasdaq rose 3.96 points. Trading volume was thin ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, which can exacerbate swings in the market.

At an economic report, the government said new claims for unemployment insurance fell by 35,000 last week to 466,000. That was the fewest claims since September last year, and better than the 500,000 that economists had expected. [Wait a minute Slim! The past couple of months the ‘official’ unemployment number has been in the one to two hundred thousand range FOR THE WHOLE FREAKING MONTH! Now these zipperheads are saying economists were ‘expecting’ the number to come in at 500,000 for the freaking WEEK? WTF!]

The drop in claims suggested that the job market was healing, but concern remains that the improvement will be temporary as the weak economy continues to push unemployment higher. The jobless rate hit 10.2 percent in October and many analysts believe it will keep rising before starting to improve next summer. [WTF!]

In other economic reports, new home sales rose 6.2 percent to an annual rate of 430,000. That was above what economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected. [Excuse me…but is anyone else sick of hearing what these obvious morons ‘expect’? How stupid can these people be? Think about it, if you or I were that stupid, we’d be unemployable!]

Separately, the government reported consumer spending rose a brisk 0.7 percent last month, following a 0.6 percent drop in September. It was the best showing since August, when the government’s now-defunct Cash for Clunkers programs enticed people to buy cars. [How much you want to bet they pulled those numbers right out of their ass because there’s no way you can verify them? When you see shit like that you become very, very worried about the veracity of the elections around here. We witness stolen elections all around the world yet American’s insist, ‘couldn’t happen here!’]

Not all the day’s news was upbeat. Orders for expensive manufactured goods dropped 0.6 percent last month, the first drop since August. Economists had expected orders would grow.

Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist at Channel Capital Research in Shrewsbury, N.J., said investors were still worried about the sustainability of a recovery but are afraid of missing more of the market’s eight-month rally. [This is like being fearful you won’t get a drumstick after a Snipe hunt!…again, WTF!]

“People may not believe in this market but they’re reluctantly being pulled into it with each of these reports,” Mr. Roberts said.

Because he said so, yeah, right! (And because there’s nothing more succulent than a snipes’ thigh bone!)

Why do these people still have a job? Is it their willingness to lie? Is that what it takes to hold a job these days because it boggles the mind to think any enterprise could survive for long with that level of incompetence going unpunished.

If it were you or I, pack it in baby!..Yet these chuckle-heads will back for more tomorrow!

It’s things like this that kick the shit out of my hopes for civilization.

If investors represent the best and the brightest, we’re sooo screwed!

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Citgo Zoom!

Greetings good citizen,

Sometimes the shit be too f’d up! Yesterday, the markets opened up plus 150 points and they pretty much stayed there, today they opened down 50 points and finished down 10… which is to point to the extremely unlikely fact that despite there being no good news anywhere, the markets remain inexplicably up.

Which is merely belaboring the obvious, the Dow, S&P and the Nasdaq are all meaningless. They could zero them all out and the only thing that would happen is the pundits would have a difficult time explaining how it happened…but explain it they would!

There’s nothing but ‘hot air’ under the markets good citizen and if you’re not frightened by that now, you will be. We’re only a couple of inches away, which is another way of saying it is only the sheerest of veils separating what we perceive to be money and the awful truth, that what you’ve been told was the ‘storehouse of value’ no longer exists…you’ve literally been working for nothing.

Worse, you won’t be allowed to stop…because you owe, oh yes, you owe them bigtime!

But I digress, Today’s lead story wasn’t the demise of the dollar, no today’s story was more ‘mundane’, a commonplace event in the realm of government statistics.

Yes, good citizen, tonight’s offering we witness once again how data that drove the Dow up 100 plus points when it was revealed, was revised downwards today, causing a mere 10 point loss…Why should this piss you off, good citizen? Let me remind you one more time just who owns 99% of the stock, the richest 1 percent. In fact, it is share prices that determine how rich they are on any given day! Do any of you still wonder why share prices keep climbing?

Wall Street Slips After G.D.P. Revised Lower

Published: November 24, 2009

Shares on Wall Street were slightly lower at Tuesday after a report showed that the economy grew at a slower pace in the third quarter than first anticipated.

Investors are entering trading cautiously as the updated report from the Commerce Department showed the nation’s economy grew at a 2.8 percent rate in the third quarter, down from an initial estimate of 3.5 percent — fresh evidence that while a recovery is under way, it is slow and bumpy. [Fresh evidence my ass! The only ones saying things were terrific are the bone-headed pundits (because that’s what they’re paid to say!)]

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predicted the growth rate would be revised to 2.9 percent. [Nice call, now that the revised data has already been released!]

Slow consumer spending, weakness in commercial construction and the nation’s trade gap all likely contributed to the lower growth expectation. [Oh and this was data we didn’t have at the time? What a bunch of thieves and liars!]

Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of all economic activity and a rebound in shopping is considered vital for a strong recovery. [In case any of you actually forgot, there it is…again…for the 4 millionth time.]

In mid-morning trading,

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 27 points or 0.27 percent. The broader Standard & Poor’s and Nasdaq were flat. Overseas markets were mostly lower as China’s central bank warned commercial banks in the country to control their lending.

Investors waiting for further clues about an economic recovery are also getting data on consumer confidence.

A report from the Conference Board is expected to show consumers are still nervous about the economy. The group’s Consumer Confidence Index for November was likely unchanged at 47.7, compared with October. A reading above 90 would signal the economy is on solid footing.

A housing report showed home prices improved for the fourth straight month in September, providing further evidence of a modestly improving housing market. [There is another piece in today’s NY Times that directly contradicts this report!]

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index, which tracks prices in 20 major metropolitan markets, rose 0.3 percent in September, compared with the previous month. Prices rose in 11 areas. [Apparently it is the October data that shows the dip and it is November after all…]

The home price report comes a day after an upbeat report on existing home sales in October helped stocks snap a three-day losing streak. A weakening dollar also helped major indexes rally on Monday. Major indexes rose more than 1 percent. [As I explained yesterday, only investors were ‘happy’ about the downturn of the dollar, which is another ‘slap in the face’ for Adam Smith’s ‘theory’ that greed inadvertently helps everyone because that’s not what’s happening now. People holding dollars are taking it up the poop chute. So, while investors see their ‘assets’ appreciate in value, everyone else merely gets a sore ass!]

The National Association of Realtors said October home sales rose more than 10 percent, easily topping the 1.4 percent increase predicted by economists. [The other ‘shoe’ here is this ‘rush’ is marked by cheap condo’s and run down starter homes bought by, you guessed it, our pal ‘Flipper’, the ‘wannabe slumlord’.]

A weakening dollar has bolstered commodities and stocks of energy and materials companies, helping drive shares higher in recent weeks. [Wait a minute, since when are rising prices something to be ‘celebrated’? What’s wrong with these morons? Or did I just answer my own question?]

The dollar was mixed Tuesday against other major currencies, while gold prices also rose.

Meanwhile, bond prices rose modestly. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.34 percent from 3.36 percent late Monday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.05 percent from 0.03 percent. [In other readings today, bond prices and the resultant interest rates are the next ‘ticking time-bomb’, with some speculating that Mr. Bernanke will have his hand forced as soon as the beginning of next year!]

Overseas, China’s Shanghai index fell 3.5 percent, its biggest decline in three months, while Japan’s Nikkei stock average fell 1 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.1 percent, Germany’s DAX index fell 0.1 percent, and France’s CAC-40 declined 0.2 percent.

In London, the governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, said in a parliamentary hearing in London on Tuesday that there were “signs that a recovery will soon be under way” but added that “profound challenges” remain.

Mr. King said that inflation is likely to accelerate in the coming months because of higher petrol costs and as a temporary reduction in retail tax expires but that consumer prices would probably fall again after that.

“Powerful forces are continuing to restrain spending in the economy,” he said. “Banks are actively trying to reduce their leverage,” households and companies remain reluctant to spend because of concerns about future income and the government is likely to cut spending to reduce a record deficit.

There is just so much seriously bad news out there, good citizen, that you can’t pick a starting place.

Under the ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’ category there are rumors that Jamie Dimon will replace Tim Geithner…and this is an improvement, how?

Then there is the status of our finances, which are downright frightening! We have something like 4 trillion dollars worth of short-term debt that needs to be rolled over in the next 12 months…or we’ll default.

You’d think an individual like Ben Bernanke would be smart enough to take the toxic debt he removed from the banking system through the ‘special lending facilities’ and parked it in long term notes, knowing that interest rates can’t stay ‘zero bound’ forever…but no!

It’s all in short term paper that needs to be rolled over in the next couple of months or it will default…and if you don’t think the situation is ‘interesting enough’ now, wait until you see what they look like after even a partial default!

Can you say ‘cascading systemic failure’? I hope you can’t because once it starts, there’s no stopping it!

Simply put good citizen, the monkey’s are tap-dancing on a land mine, which leads us to the only question that matters…’do you feel lucky today?

Well, do ya punk?

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


Monday, November 23, 2009

Manipulation via regulatory capture

Greetings good citizen,

After a three day ‘slide’ the ‘stupidity index’ performed another ‘vertical take-off’ this morning to start the day up 130+ points. What do you suppose the ‘primary reason’ was behind the market’s huge lift-off? Can you guess? Do I need to tell you, a good percentage of you already know. More hopeful is the fact that those of you who know are also aware that it isn’t ‘good news’ unless you own either a lot of hard assets or your liquid assets aren’t in dollars.

Yes, good citizen, the markets took off like a rocket ship this morning because the dollar tanked…again!

Who the fuck would be ‘happy’ about a ‘weak’ dollar? It certainly isn’t good for us ‘paycheck paupers’, it means our money buys less. When the dollar goes down good citizen, your purchasing power goes down with it.

While the ‘simpletoons’ scream ‘deflation’ and dump scorn on those who know inflation is coming, understand that hyper-inflation is caused by the rapid loss of value/purchasing power of one’s currency. It may take a wheelbarrow full of cash to buy a loaf of bread but don’t get the wrong idea, everybody won’t have a wheelbarrow full of cash. You’ll have what you have now…and that won’t be enough to buy you bullets.

So here we sit with the stock market rising and the dollar tanking, naturally, Wall Street rejoices…but the other 99% of us don’t have much to be happy about.

As I have stated before, what’s good for Wall Street has nothing to do with Main Street, so much so that our friend Henry CK Liu points to a disturbing ‘side effect’ of Washington’s ‘reluctance’ to rein in the marauders on Wall Street.

US should regulate cross-border cash
By Henry CK Liu

In this season of debate on regulatory reform, an obvious area that has been crying out for reform seems to have been overlooked by government officials and market participants.

Much of past and current global financial crises lies in the unrestricted cross-border flow of speculative funds and the ability of market participants to deploy cross-border speculative financial and regulatory arbitrage for risky profit at the expense of central banks and local market fundamentals.

The reason low dollar interest rates do not help the United States economy is because hot money will respond by flowing into China and other high interest rate economies to profit from carry trade and exchange rate arbitrage, leaving the US with a persistent credit crunch.

The only way a low Fed funds rate will help the US economy is if the US regulates the cross-border flow of speculative funds, thus forcing the bailout and stimulus money to stay within US borders to create jobs locally. It is a simple measure that could be easily implemented by administrative order. [So why isn’t it happening?]

After the 1997 Asian financial crisis, Malaysia imposed currency controls and at first was widely criticized; later it was widely acknowledged as the correct and effective measure to adopt. Germany after 1933 also imposed currency controls and its economy recovered faster than any other.

There is no way to effectively regulate over-the-counter financial derivative trading against global systemic risk without first stopping cross-border financial arbitrage. Anyone who has studied and understood the problem would know that the path of reinforcing capital reserve adequacy is a dead-end against astronomical notional values.

Ever since the end of the Cold War, which actually began winding down with president Richard Nixon's policy of detente, international trade has overwhelmed domestic development in the global economy, as superpower competition to win the hearts and minds of the world, in the form of aid, subsidies and development, was channeled solely through global trade.

Persistent US fiscal and trade deficits forced the abandonment in 1971 of the Bretton Woods regime of fixed exchange rates linked to a gold-backed dollar. The flawed international finance architecture that resulted has since limited the global growth engine to operating with only the one cylinder of international trade, leaving all the other cylinders of domestic development in a state of permanent stagnation.

Drawing lessons from the 1930s Great Depression, economic thinking prevalent immediately after World War II had deemed international capital flow undesirable and unnecessary for national development. Trade, a relatively small aspect of most national economies, was to be mediated through fixed exchange rates pegged to a gold-backed dollar.

These fixed exchange rates were to be adjusted only gradually and periodically to reflect the relative strength of the economies participating in international trade, which was expected to augment but not overwhelm the development of national economies. The impact of exchange rates was limited to the financing of international trade.

Exchange rate considerations were not expected to dictate domestic monetary and fiscal policies, the chief function of which was to support domestic development and were regarded as the inviolable province of national sovereignty.

Global financial crises will continue to occur until cross-border flows of speculative funds are regulated.

This sickness we call ‘wealth’ has the power to destroy civilization if we let it happen. That’s how foolish it is to let individual’s place their own welfare ahead of the needs of society…it is because of the rich that the poor will always be with us.

Don’t believe it? Have a look at the ‘math puzzle’ presented by Ilargi’s intro to this past Saturday’s post.

It's interesting to note that no matter how hard it is to gauge how much has been spent on the job stimulus, what seems very clear is that the total amount Obama has delivered towards employment creation will by year end in all likelihood be less than the total amount in bonuses projected to be paid by Wall Street's main financial institutions. The total amount in Wall Street bonuses is set to exceed $162 billion, according to MSNBC, and if you ask me, that fact alone should be enough to bring down the president's poll numbers below the freezing point. By the way, MSNBC also estimates bank profits through Q3 ‘09 at $22.5 billion. $139.5 more in bonuses than in profits. Yes. Call me for that too.

The whole rant is well worth the time to read. What I find interesting is the ‘repeat’ of last year’s phenomenon, where the banking sector’s ‘bonus pool’ exceeded annual profits!

Think about that good citizen…how the fuck do these arrogant bastards pay themselves more (significantly more) in bonuses than they brought in?

You don’t find that happening in other industries…does it happen in banking because it can?

Um, at what point do you lose faith in the ‘value’ money represents? (Because they are obviously handing it out like confetti to money’s supposed ‘guardians’, just how ‘safe’ never mind valuable is this shit?) Worse, you know YOU worked hard for it so you tend to ‘appreciate’ it more than the bean counter does…is this any excuse to let the bean counter destroy the value of your hard work? I don’t think so.

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


The Spin Machine revs up...

Greetings good citizen,

Just how ‘responsible’ is Wall Street for destroying the world’s economy? Like last night’s rhetorical question about the phantom recovery, it depends on who you ask.

As one might expect, Wall Street holds itself harmless as far as the financial meltdown is concerned. They didn’t make anybody participate in the games that they controlled the rules of and had sole access to, if you/the investing public was too stupid to steer clear of dubious financial instruments and reckless insurance schemes, what are they obliged to do about it?

Which is pretty cavalier, considering they are the only game in town…but that begs a different question, doesn’t it good citizen? Should we allow anyone to ‘gamble’ with the future of civilization…considering what’s at stake?

Does the prosperity of the individual ‘outweigh’ the safety of society? If we look at the financial markets, it would sure seem that way.

Understand, good citizen, some would object to my ‘lumping together’ private fortunes with the common good…but where do those private fortunes originate? From our ‘common inheritance’, a fact those entrusted with preserving that legacy often forget.

Thus do we come face to face with Wall Street’s Spin Game

Wall Street’s Spin Game
Published: November 21, 2009

Lloyd C. Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, the bank to bash on a resurgent Wall Street, is receiving a lot of advice lately, and it’s not just about money.

Sitting before an audience of 300 at the Metropolitan Club of New York on Tuesday, he spoke with barely disguised disdain in his voice about the work of the image consultants, reputation experts and public relations advisors who are beating a path to his door, and to the doors of other Wall Street banks vilified for their profits and million-dollar bonuses at a time of continuing economic pain. [What needs saying right here at the outset good citizen is don’t think for a minute that this piece isn’t the product of the same ‘spin doctors’ who are laboring desperately to prevent a potential bloodbath.]

“Some people come in and say, ‘You are doing too much. Don’t say another word.’ Other people say we should get on the talk shows,” said Mr. Blankfein (as he was awarded the distinction of C.E.O. of the Year by a magazine for corporate directors.) [Left to your imagination is whether or not Mr. Blankfein’s ‘award’ makes him a saint in the eyes of the business community? Maybe its just me but CEO of the year being bestowed on Wall Street’s highest paid chief executive is not exactly the thing ‘saints’ are made of…despite the fact that this is the same man who just recently claimed to be doing ‘God’s work’…]

A few years ago, Wall Street would have cared less for such artifice — it was enough that the Masters of the Universe were wildly successful; their success spoke for itself. But politics and the bottom line have energized the relationship between these New York institutions of money and spin, as banks see the need to calm the rage directed toward them and confront a public relations problem that has seemed in recent weeks to be spiraling out of control. [What did they expect, announcing record profits and projecting enormous bonuses after the taxpayers have been exposed to trillions in losses…WTF?]

Just last week, Goldman announced that it would spend $500 million to help thousands of small businesses recover from the recession. At the same time, Mr. Blankfein acknowledged that Goldman had made mistakes. “We participated in things that were clearly wrong and have reason to regret,” he said. ”We apologize.” [Um, let’s assume for a moment that this 500 million dollars isn’t going to be ‘an investment’ (which they would have made anyway) or a loan. Are we honestly expected to believe they are going to ‘give’ this money away, out of the kindness of their heart and their deep and abiding concern for the welfare of society? Understand this is less than 5% of this year’s ‘bonus pool’, which makes the whole charade a ‘token gesture’, considering how much money the taxpayer is on the hook for because of Goldman and their peers reckless actions. As I mentioned before, that figure is in trillions, not millions.]

But is that enough? And, if it isn’t, what will be? Examples of the public’s anger at Wall Street are legion. Last month, a couple of thousand protesters marched on the American Bankers Association’s annual conference in Chicago brandishing cut-outs of bank C.E.O.s. [Aw gee, those nasty ‘paycheck paupers’ were mocking the Masters of the Universe! How dare they! Naturally, that’s not what this is about. What these spin doctors are trying to avoid is the spontaneous outbreak of ‘neck-tie parties’, the kind involving a slip-knot with 13 loops.]

As the Chicago demonstration made clear, the image problems aren’t confined to Goldman and could have a cost. Wall Street banks are under regulatory pressure, and come election time, if unemployment is still above 10 percent and Wall Street is still paying itself big bonuses, lawmakers’ who have done nothing so far wrath might force broader pay curbs, tougher restrictions on what banks can do, or even a break up of the biggest banks.

They are already losing business because of their toxic reputations. One recent Goldman deal, for instance, to buy cheap assets from Fannie Mae, the hobbled mortgage lender, was blocked by the Treasury because it couldn’t be seen to be helping Wall Street benefit once again from the crisis. Critics say the negative media chatter is dragging on their share price. [Um, Goldman shares are doing just fine, thank you…but if you think Goldman is losing money ‘unfairly’ due to poor press, then maybe you’ll feel some sympathy…]

Now, the main securities industry trade organization has hired Brunswick, a powerhouse public relations firm, to burnish the banks’ image, and banks are urging their staffs to cut down on conspicuous consumption and are canceling Christmas parties in an attempt to turn the reputational tide. [Sadly, if the company is unwilling to foot the tab for a holiday bash, ‘The Masters of the Universe’ will ‘step up to the plate’ and use their bonus checks to throw their own party! And if the ‘riff-raff’ don’t like it, tough!]

It is a tough brief, even for Manhattan’s skilled public relations industry. Last week, New York State’s comptroller reported that Wall Street profits this year are on track to exceed the record set at the height of the credit bubble. So what to do? Here are some suggestions about making the unloved Masters of the Universe loveable again.

Be humble: Apologize and say thank you.

The quickest way for the banks to redeem themselves could be to admit they played a role in the crisis and that their survival depended on taxpayer money. [Sadly, this doesn’t ‘jive’ well with million dollar bonus checks while the rest of the economy is suffering a major meltdown! There is no way to reconcile the two. What these criminal organizations are calling ‘profits’ are actually accounting gimmicks, the profits these bonuses are based upon don’t exist!]

Several public relations executives pointed to John J. Mack, Morgan Stanley’s chief executive, as an example of a banker wisely getting in front of the problem early. It was Mr. Mack who offered a full-throated mea culpa at a Congressional hearing last February for his bank’s role in fueling the crisis. “We are sorry for it,” he told lawmakers. [Um, perhaps it’s easier to admit guilt when your next move is to step down, as John Mack did. I don’t think the rest of these twinkies are ready pull their hats out of the till just yet.]

One public relations executive, who does not work for Mr. Mack and who asked not to be identified for fear it could hurt his relationships with other bankers, said: “They have done the best job of anybody of navigating the crisis.” Not every bank has been willing to apologize even though “maintaining otherwise manifestly contradicts the reality that most people see,” according to Stephen Davis, executive director at the Millstein Center for Corporate Governance and Performance at Yale University. [Um, what else would you expect a paid schill to say, especially an ‘unidentified’ one?]

Goldman’s apology, for instance, was a grudging start but it may not be enough. “They should be taking advertisements, they should hold seminars, news conferences,” said Howard J. Rubenstein, president of Rubenstein Associates, who argues for a more effusive mea culpa. “This is a time for gratitude and attitude. One letter to the editor, one news conference, one speech does not make an image.” [It’s a perfectly ‘reasonable’ suggestion, too bad the public is sick of seeing corporate America literally getting away with murder and not getting so much as a reprimand or an easily affordable fine…like the 500 million dollar ‘giveaway’ to small business.]

Give Back Some Money.

Donating money to a worthwhile cause is another way of soothing public outrage. [If you happen to be the recipient of that money, otherwise it is seen as a ‘dodge’. Often it is usually revealed that the recipient just happened to be a pet cause close to the decision maker AND the fucks take a huge ‘charitable deduction’ off their taxes…so you have another ‘empty gesture’.]

But there is the risk that such a strategy will be seen as a transparent ploy to buy off public opinion. Goldman’s donation was only about 3 percent of the $16.7 billion the bank has so far set aside this year for its bonus pool. The bankers may have to give up more yet — and not only by writing a check. [Especially checks for a tiny fraction of the damage they caused.]

“They need to give back and make a real impact — public education, health care, after school programs,” Mr. Rubenstein said. “These guys have brilliant staff. They should make it mandatory for their people to do voluntary work big time.”

Show you create real products that benefit people. [Ha! That’s one class ‘A’ tall order since most financial products turned out to be toxic!]

The crisis revealed what some people had long suspected: that quite a lot of the whiz-bang financial engineering that Wall Street relied on for profits was worthless.

According to Richard Edelman, a leading New York public relations executive, one of the best things Wall Street could do now is clearly “explain how you make your money and why your business model makes sense for a stakeholder society.” [I think we’d all like to hear that one, we could use a good laugh!]

If they can demonstrate in vivid terms the real role they play in the economy — by helping companies borrow money to grow and create jobs, for example — they might also justify their profits and pay. [How many of you spotted the flaw in that proposal right off the bat? That’s right, the chiseling fuckers AREN’T helping domestic businesses to borrow money and create jobs, they’re the ones driving business off-shore!
Unless I’m the one who missed the point here and these PR men are actually trying to get the Wall Street bankers killed!]

Says Travis Larson of Financial Dynamics in Washington: “It is clear how sports stars are judged, and everyone knows how Bill Gates makes his money because you can see the software. Investment banks need a new metric for success.” [Because making pension funds ‘disappear’ only helps the banks, not the investors.]

Cut Pay.

Even then, the most likely way to win back sympathy may be to do what the Masters of the Universe would probably hate the most, which is pay themselves less.

At the moment, that doesn’t appear likely. Six of the top American bank holding companies set aside $112 billion for salaries and bonuses in the first nine months, according to New York’s comptroller. If profits continue, bonuses could exceed the $162 billion paid in 2007 — the year before the financial crisis hit stock markets. The banks are Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo. [Not only are there fewer players but there is much less activity, so where the hell is this money coming from if it isn’t coming from their own toxic financial instruments?]

Still, some banks are making changes to the way they pay their employees. Credit Suisse, the big Swiss bank, intends to tie bonuses to a specific financial measure and effectively claw back payouts if the bank’s fortunes dim. But the move will not necessarily reduce compensation there.

Forget about it — it will go away.

In the end, though, should banks really care? Maybe the current storm will indeed blow over. [Ironically, our entire economic system is doomed, it is only a matter of time until money collapses and the value of everything falls into doubt, creating widespread chaos.]

Even so, bad reputations can potentially have real costs. The beating in the court of public opinion demoralizes staff, distracts senior executives and can hurt a bank’s ability to hire. [There is indeed an interesting dynamic at work here. If the banking profession becomes synonymous with ‘sleeze-balls’ then nobody will trust them and the entire industry will collapse...and it may already be too late.]

Franz Paasche, a reputations specialist at Communications Consulting Worldwide in New York, argues that a bad reputation can also harm a company’s ability to fight for what it wants in Washington. [That’s a somewhat ‘spurious’ claim as the bankers ‘own’ Washington. If they want that relationship to retain value then they are going to have to clean up their act because Washington has only a modestly smaller bull’s-eye painted on it. It’s a toss-up right now as to which will burn first, Wall Street or DC, but they will go in succession, first one and then the other.]

“Reputation has value and strong reputations create permissions to grow and prosper,” he said. As Wall Street banks’ reputations sink, “they are losing the more active seat at the table in discussions about policy.” [Although you’d be hard pressed to prove that statement, given how the new administration has failed miserably at reining in the banking industry…]

If the government did take wider measures against the banks, it would leave a very different Wall Street. There would be less swagger to those Masters of the Universe. But perhaps only then would the rest of us finally be able to love them.

Did I mention that this was a ‘PR’ piece? There isn’t anything ‘credible’ in it that would be useful in swaying public opinion, especially that portion of he public being hounded by agents of the unbelievably unforgiving banking sector.

For that alone the banking sector is facing ‘an eye for an eye’ type retribution. People don’t readily forgive having their entire lives uprooted due to circumstances beyond their control.

We’ve heard one side of the ‘blame game’ but it takes two to tango and the banking sector is the one that makes the rules!

I don’t think the public is going to be able to ‘forgive and forget’ here because this thing is far from over.

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's all in your head...

Greetings good citizen,

I once again find myself apologizing for my absence last night…sadly, unemployment brings more battles with it than just the struggle to find employment.

Perhaps that is why tonight’s offering caught my eye, when your neighbor loses his job it’s a recession, if you lose your job, it’s a depression!

So good citizen, just how much of our current economic ‘doldrums’ is merely ‘in our heads’? I guess that depends on who you ask.

What if a Recovery Is All in Your Head?

Published: November 21, 2009

Beyond fiscal stimulus and government bailouts, the economic recovery that appears under way may be based on little more than self-fulfilling prophecy. [Um, ironically, I assure you there is no ‘recovery’ on the way, never in the history of this nation has what happens on Wall Street had less to do with what happens on Main Street. Let’s see if we can figure out just ‘who’ Mr. Schiller is talking to?]

Consider this possibility: after all these months, people start to think it’s time for the recession to end. The very thought begins to renew confidence, and some people start spending again — in turn, generating visible signs of recovery. This may seem absurd, and is rarely mentioned as an explanation for mass behavior late in a recession, but economic theorists have long been fascinated by such a possibility. [Understand that ‘economic theorists’ are no more accurate (or astute) than their number crunching brethren…]

The notion isn’t as farfetched as it may appear. As we all know, recessions generally last no more than a couple of years. [Ironically, not so with ‘depressions’] The current recession began in December 2007, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, so it is almost two years old. According to the standard schedule, we’re due for recovery. Given this knowledge, the mere passage of time may spur our confidence, though no formal statistical analysis can prove it. [This is no ‘ordinary’ economic event by any stretch of the imagination. Capitalism itself has been crushed under its own weight, it simply can’t generate enough interest to pay everyone that is owed. Oh, in case you haven’t noticed, the ‘solution’ to this particular puzzle hasn’t been worked out yet…so what passes for our economy continues to flounder.]

Certainly, people did not always believe that there is a regular “business cycle” that starts and stops in a definite pattern. The idea began to spread in the popular consciousness in the 1920s and reached full bloom in the ’30s — with one major complication, the Great Depression, which received its name in midcourse, from a 1934 book with that title by Lionel Robbins.

“There have been many depressions in modern economic history, but it is safe to say that there has never been anything to compare with this,” Mr. Robbins wrote. In his narrative, the Great Depression was an extreme event, compared with ordinary “depressions.”

“Recession,” a kinder, gentler term, began to be used around the time of the 1937-38 contraction to refer to a normal downturn in the business cycle. In January 1938, The Chicago Daily Tribune offered a wry definition of a recession, calling it “a new word for depression, coined by those who don’t like to admit that we’re still in one.”

People joked so much about the euphemism that in 1938 President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “It makes no difference to me whether you call it a recession or a depression.”

The proliferation of the idea of a more-or-less predictable business cycle intersected with a rapidly growing public interest in psychology. Choice of words can matter greatly for the psychologically aware, and the new word “recession” had a much softer sound than its predecessor. Recessions, as the term came to be used, implied timetables that mark their expected end. Uttering the word does not risk damaging confidence, at least not fundamentally. A diagnosis of a recession can be shrugged off as something from which you will recover, as though your doctor had just diagnosed an illness as a common cold. A depression came to be another matter entirely. [The stock market has certainly ‘shrugged off’ it’s uh, sense of sluggishness…although it is pretty much universally agreed that this is not a new ‘bull market’…so what is it? Worse, things are definitely ‘different’ this time…this is the first time public funds have been used to ‘rescue’ the financial sector…and the bastards are going to hand out bonuses of record proportions to the very people responsible for destroying our financial system.]

Back in 1931, for example, The New York Times attributed the emerging economic cataclysm to a “mood of pessimism which had been carried to grotesque extremes.” In 1932, it compared reckless talk about “depression” to shouting “fire” in a crowded theater. [In 1932 there were a lot of mighty nervous people on Wall Street, worried about what would happen if the public found out about just how deep the ‘fraud’ went…]

President Roosevelt is widely remembered for saying, in 1933, that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” But he was only repeating an oft-told message.

It wasn’t until 1948 that the Columbia University sociologist Robert K. Merton wrote an article in The Antioch Review titled “The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy,” using the Great Depression as his first example. He is often credited with having invented the “self-fulfilling prophesy” phrase, but by the 1930s the idea was already as commonplace as the breakfast toast made with modern electric toasters. (Interestingly, the same Robert Merton documented the tendency for important ideas to be falsely attributed to celebrities.)

In fact, in 1937, “Think and Grow Rich,” a book by Napoleon Hill, urged readers to adopt a positive mental attitude and to channel the power of the subconscious mind so that real wealth would follow. It became a runaway best seller. Faddish interest had already emerged not only in Freud’s theory of the unconscious mind, but also in the theories of the psychologist Émile Coué, who urged people to recite that “every day in every way I’m getting better and better.” He said this “autosuggestion” would bolster the unconscious self. [Yes, good citizen, what we really need to do is brainwash ourselves, saving the thieves the trouble and expense of doing it to us through their control of the media.]

In important ways, we are still using that 1930s pattern of thinking. We are instinctively fearful of reckless talk about depressions, and we try to support one another’s confidence. We like the idea that modern scientific economics seems to show that all recessions end in due course. [I think we have our first clear hint as to whom Mr. Schiller is trying to convince, and sadly, the answer isn’t unexpected.]

For now, our common efforts at building confidence appear to be working somewhat. But the economy has still not recovered, by any means.

COUÉISM has been discredited generally, as has much of the old business-cycle theory, but they live on in our popular notions about recessions. We may hope that our resorting to euphemism and belief in timetables of business-cycle recoveries work better to restore confidence than they did in the ’30s.

The problem might be put this way: There is still a nagging doubt afloat that the current event is really just another example in that long sequence of recessions. In which mental category does the current contraction belong: recession or depression? We may still be at a tipping point. To the extent that the theory of the self-fulfilling prophecy is correct, there is a case for continued vigilance, to ensure that adverse events don’t encourage widespread talk of the second category.

Robert J. Shiller is professor of economics and finance at Yale and co-founder and chief economist of MacroMarkets LLC.

So, what should we do good citizen? I believe the advice for our current set of circumstances is “Hope for the best but prepare for the worst!”

The bad news here good citizen is the ‘probability’ that the ‘best’ has of actually occurring is somewhere around slim to none…in fact, we’d best hope things don’t return to the way they were before the financial markets collapsed or they will collapse again!

The old ‘normal’ isn’t coming back, which isn’t necessarily ‘bad news’ all by itself. No, the ‘bad news’ here is that the infamous ‘they’ will keep trying to bring back the old normal rather than actually fixing the problem. (It’s an Adam Smith/self-interest sort of puzzle…without the ‘invisible hands’)

More interesting is we can either attack the problem ourselves (although this is dangerous in the extreme without a coherent, agreed upon solution.) or we can, at great expense, let things play out until events reach their ‘natural conclusion’.

Which isn’t going to leave us with much of anything to work with, what they can’t take with them they will destroy in place; if only to deny it to their enemies.

I don’t know about you but I don’t think any amount of ‘positive thinking’ is going to accomplish anything beyond buying the criminals more time!

With that thought, we conclude tonight’s ‘exercise’…

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Priming the 'milk machine'

Greetings good citizen,

Um, the ‘stupidity index’ dropped sharply this morning in early trading but gained roughly half of those losses back by the close of trading…again, for no discernable reason.

Let’s see what the pundit have cobbled together for an explanation…so we proceed to tonight’s offering

Stocks Fall Sharply in Early Wall Street Trading

Published: November 19, 2009

Stocks fell sharply Thursday in early trading on Wall Street, following the lead of overseas markets and as the dollar strengthened against European currencies. [Again, the only market known to have finished in positive territory today was China’s Shanghi index.]

Investors showed little deference to a new report on weekly unemployment claims that was in line with expectations. [Um, I didn’t scour the web but apparently today’s unemployment report was ‘non-news’.]

The Labor Department says the number of newly laid off workers seeking unemployment benefits for the first time was unchanged last week at 505,000, matching economists’ expectations. [There it is good citizen, nothing to see here, move along.]

Shortly after the start of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 70.21, or 0.7 percent, at 10,356.10. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was down 7.65, or 0.7 percent, at 1,102.15, while the Nasdaq composite index was down 19.10, or 0.9 percent, at 2,174.04. [Perhaps more surprising is nobody is pointing to the ‘default’ excuse wheeled out when the markets ‘lose altitude’ which is to say nobody has mentioned ‘profit taking’ (which is probably precisely what it is.)]

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 33.35 points, or 0.6 percent, to 5,308.78 while Germany’s DAX fell 47.92 points, or 0.8 percent, to 5,739.69. The CAC-40 in France was 22.27 points, or 0.6 percent, lower at 3,805.89.

Stock markets have rallied strongly since March’s lows as investors reined in their economic doomsday expectations to factor in a swifter than anticipated global economic rebound, but recent disappointing United States housing figures and mixed earnings from some of the country’s leading retailers have dented some of the optimism. Many investors think stock valuations are now pricing in too rapid an economic recovery. [What a load of malarky! Swifter than anticipated, you’d have to be plenty fucking ‘swift’ to swallow a turd like that! Whew, some of the crap these guys come up with!]

“Negative outlooks from the U.S. software sector and unexpectedly disappointing home stats brought worries about the pace of recovery back to the table,” said Richard Griffiths, senior equity trader at Spreadex. [Tell me that doesn’t look like a made up name? Not that it particularly matters, after the crisis there isn’t anybody on Wall Street with a shred of credibility left.]

The state of household spending in the United States is key for recovery — it accounts for around 70 percent of the nation’s economy. “Investors will be particularly interested in the sector in the run-up to the festive season; retailers will soon be finding out whether consumers are willing to reach for their credit cards or whether post-recessionary fears will prevail,” said David Jones, chief market strategist at IG Index. [We have to find the lone deaf mute who doesn’t know that niggling little detail and TATTOO it on the inside of their fucking eyelids, the way the cokesackers in the MSM keep repeating it! Although…before they altered how they calculate that percentage, it used to be 80% of the economy! Now go ahead and tell me I’m the only one who remembers that…]

The markets brushed aside the latest more rosy economic forecasts from the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, even though it more than doubled its estimate for 2010 growth in its 30 member countries — which include the United States, Japan and Germany — to 1.9 percent and raised its 2011 forecast to 2.5 percent.

“Neither of these figures is exceptional which underpins the delicate nature of the present economic recovery,” said Jane Foley, research director at

The euro fell against the dollar Thursday after failing to break through the $1.50 level despite more remarks from Federal Reserve officials that interest rates in the United States are likely to stay low for a long time.

The 16-nation euro bought $1.4880 in European morning trading, down from the $1.4940 in late New York trading Wednesday. Before falling lower Wednesday, the euro had jostled with the $1.50 mark.

The British pound also fell to $1.6682 from $1.6718, while the dollar fell to 89.08 Japanese yen from 89.48 yen late Wednesday in New York. [Understand good citizen when we hit ‘parity’ with the yen, we’re essentially screwed. You’ll need a wheelbarrow full of money to get a gumball! At that point in the game it becomes meaningless if it is due to there being too many dollars or if your existing dollars have simply become worthless, because the end result is the same.]

Earlier, Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average lost 127.33 points, or 1.3 percent, to 9,549.47 — its seventh straight day of decline as investors succumbed to jitters about a possible glut of new bank shares after Mitsubishi UFJ announced plans to raise capital. The bank’s shares fell 3.7 percent.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 197.17 points, or 0.9 percent, to 22,643.16, while Taiwan’s benchmark shed 0.1 percent and Indonesia’s market was 0.6 percent lower.

Other markets fared better: South Korea’s Kospi added 1 percent to lead the region and China’s Shanghai index rose 0.5 percent. In Singapore, shares were up 0.6 percent after the city-state reported a second straight quarter of growth as manufacturing and service sectors helped it surface from a deep recession. The economy was seen expanding between 3 percent and 5 percent next year, the government said.

Oil prices hovered above $79 a barrel, with benchmark crude for December delivery down 60 cents to $78.98 a barrel.

Gold prices eased after a strong run saw gold top $1,150 per ounce for the first time ever — they were down $5.10 an ounce, or 0.5 percent, to $1,136.10.

I’ve decided to give both of us a break and just do one piece tonight. That said, I’d like to point to the recent rash of ‘doomsday’ movies being released by Hollywood.

The way matters stand by the time 2012 rolls around there may be nothing left to destroy, although it is kind of weird to see Hollywood’s interpretation of the book of revelations tied to the expiration of the Mayan calendar.

Earthquakes, tidal waves and hurricanes…oh my! Throw in a couple of volcanoes for good measure and the next thing you know you have a ‘nuclear winter’ on your hands without the radioactivity.

Naturally, all we need is meteor strike to set the whole ‘chain reaction’ into motion…but it will be a while before any earthbound observer will catch a glimpse of the celestial ‘rocket sled of doom.’

Which is to say I think we are in far greater danger of experiencing a ‘man made’ disaster rather than a natural disaster that the devout will be quick to lay at the feet of their ‘displeased’ Supreme Being.

Worse, there’s nothing the criminals would like better than a catastrophe (caused by somebody else) that they could use to ‘cover their tracks’.

If they had to give that disaster a little nudge…well, it would be for a good cause as far as they were concerned.

Because that’s what they need right now, something to muddy the water enough so they can slip away with their ill-gotten gains.

I’ll ‘shut up’ now so you can take that much-deserved break.

Thanks for letting me inside your head,