Thursday, November 5, 2009

Your tax dollars at work...

Greetings good citizen,

This morning we are once again faced with the issue of the value of a dollar…if a one point rise in the Dow equals $700 million dollars…how the fuck does the Dow rise 182 fucking points in two hours of trading? If we do the math here, the answer is in trillions! (Yeah, a single trillion--but still!)

Just to put this in perspective, we’re talking the currency issued by a nation with that has a labor force of 125 million and a population of 300 million.

Between trillions and millions are billions…were we to divide a single trillion between the (employed) members of the workforce, the answer would be in the hundreds of thousands…per individual.

Perhaps more perplexing is how the markets suddenly shot up 182 points and seem to be stuck there! I just checked and the reading is exactly the same as it was two and a half hours ago…(And no, I’ve opened and closed my browser several times since my initial check earlier today.) Oops! My bad, it just moved up a point…

Anyway…what’s troubling me is the other explanation for this bizarre phenomenon, understand good citizen, there was no ‘ramping up’, the markets simply opened nearly two hundred points higher than they closed yesterday. Did the Europeans, in the process of running for cover, drive up the US markets as their trading day ended? (Which would be really bizarre because the European exchanges didn’t perform badly today…)

If you ask me it’s bullcrap like this that serves to re-enforce the notion that the markets themselves (like money) are meaningless…it’s ‘value’ can be set wherever they want it and if it’s ‘wrong’, nobody is the wiser. It’s like the election process, the ones who ‘report the results’ control the outcome. It doesn’t matter who (really) gets the most votes if the outcome rests upon what the media reports.

It’s not what happened that matters, it’s what you ‘believe’ happened that counts!

Let’s go back and visit our single trillion again…understand that our entire economy, over the course of an entire year, only generates roughly 12 trillion dollars…and we saw one of them popup in less than two hours in the fucking stock market…makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

I’m sure you’re sick of my griping onward to tonight’s first offering Yeah, there’s more than one…consider yourself warned!

Retailers Report Healthy Sales Increases [Say What???]

Published: November 5, 2009

The nation’s stores on Thursday posted a second consecutive month of sales increases, marking the retailing industry’s best performance in more than a year. [How the hell do you suppose they managed that good citizen? Are the sales figures ‘seasonally adjusted’ or the figures adjusted for ‘inflation, less inflation’ (sort of like when they back out food and energy out of the inflation calculaion…)]

Results at chains as varied as Costco and Saks were clearly helped by easy comparisons to the dismal results of a year ago, but also by October’s cool weather and Columbus Day sales.

Over all, the industry reported a 1.8 percent increase at stores open at least a year, according to Thomson Reuters. Nearly every sector had sales gains, with the exception of teenage clothing retailers and department stores. [Since people don’t have more money to spend, the only thing left is inflation brought on not by price increases but dollar devaluation. They aren’t comparing apples to apples.]

Clothing chains selling designer names at bargain-basement prices were the top performers. Sales at TJX stores open at least a year, a measure of retail health known as same-store sales, increased 10 percent. TJX, which owns stores including TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and Home Goods, has been on a roll for months as consumers shop for bargains. [This doesn’t compute. Missing from this equation is what increased 1.8% over last year? Did they move more merchandise or is this increase in dollar volume? It’s not clear ‘what’ increased!]

Carol M. Meyrowitz, the company’s chief executive, said in a news release that “customer traffic continued to drive sales throughout the month, boding well for the holiday season.” [Whoa! Wait a minute there Slim! Is the ‘increase’ merely an uptick in ‘floor traffic’? Are these assholes getting ‘excited’ about having a store full of potential shoplifters?]

A TJX competitor, Ross Stores, also thrived, turning in a 9 percent sales increase. [Oh, now they’re claiming increased sales. Jobs are down and so are overall payrolls, so who the fuck is buying more while they have less money? How the fuck does that work? I think we need to ask a more basic question, like are these chiseling bastards lying through their teeth? It sure looks like it.]

Other discounters reported healthy numbers, including Costco (up 5 percent) and Kohl’s, the value-priced clothing chain, which had its fourth consecutive month of positive sales. October sales increased 1.4 percent at Kohl’s, though that was lower than what analysts were expecting. [This is yet another ‘variable’ the article isn’t clear about…is this supposed 1.8% increase a month over month figure or a year over year number? It looks like one thing at one outlet and another someplace else…you don’t suppose ‘somebody’ is cherry-picking the data, do you?]

Kohl’s also reported some signs of broader recovery, saying in a news release that its strongest year-over-year gains were in the home goods category, a retailing sector hit hard by the recession. The company said same-store sales increases were notable in the Southwest, a region that was hurt more by the recession than other parts of the country. [So it would stand to reason that the recovery in sales would be more pronounced there, wouldn’t it…but I’ll tell you what Bub, 1.8% ain’t much to crow about…it could very possibly be all ‘deflation’ and then some.]

Sales at BJ’s Wholesale Club declined 1.1 percent, though customer traffic was up 4 percent year-over-year. Sales at Target also decreased slightly, by 0.1 percent, yet its same-store sales of clothing were slightly stronger — a sign that consumers are beginning to spend some discretionary dollars. [Knock off the shit will ya? The population continues to grow, when we start seeing half naked people running around, it will be too late. In the mean time, these assholes better stop attributing natural occurrences to ‘economic recovery’

“We are entering the holiday season with very clean inventories,” Gregg W. Steinhafel, chief executive of Target, said in a news release, “and we believe we are positioned to perform well in what continues to be a challenging economic environment.” [Um, if the best you can do is track natural population growth…neither you, the economy or anyone else is ‘performing well’.]

Wal-Mart Stores, the nation’s largest chain, stopped reporting monthly sales figures in April. [You can read into that anything you want…I think it’s a wise move…although it comes too late to prevent their stores from being burned to the ground by outraged marauders]

Same-store sales at department stores — a group that was struggling even before the recession — declined slightly, falling 0.9 percent, according to Thomson Reuters. Even so, some department stores had sales growth for the first time in months. Same-store sales increased even at the upscale chains like Nordstrom (up 6.5 percent) and Saks (up 0.7 percent). Nordstrom was one of the industry’s top performers. And Saks said in a news release that it experienced “relative strength” in some of its merchandise categories, like women’s designer sportswear, its e-commerce business and its outlet stores, Saks Off 5th.

At Bon-Ton, sales rose 3.1 percent. “We are encouraged by the sustained improvement in our sales trend, which began in August,” Tony Buccina, vice chairman and president of merchandising for Bon-Ton, said in a news release.

Other department stores did not fare as well. Sales declined at Dillard’s (down 8 percent), Neiman Marcus (down 6 percent), Stein Mart (down 4.9 percent), JC Penney (down 4.5 percent) and Macy’s (down 0.8 percent).

Teenage retailers posted the weakest results, with same-store sales declining 5.8 percent, according to Thomson Reuters. Sales fell at Abercrombie & Fitch (down 15 percent), Zumiez (down 8.9 percent), American Apparel (down 6 percent), American Eagle Outfitters (down 5 percent), Limited Brands (down 4 percent), Hot Topic (down 2.6 percent), Children’s Place (down 2 percent) and Wet Seal (down 1.3 percent).

Of course some teenage clothing chains bucked the trend as they have for the last several months, including Buckle (up 4.3 percent) and Aéropostale (up 3 percent). The Gap, which is in the midst of a turnaround, posted a 4 percent increase.

Simply put, what we saw in the above article was the ‘silk purse from a sow’s ear—a-la-shotgun approach to create a fake ‘feel good’ news story. It’s somewhat interesting to observe how they included upscale retailers at the end of the article. The ‘well-compensated’ aren’t the ones who got thrown under the bus when the economy went sour…

So what do you think good citizen? Is this ‘news item’ what caused today’s markets to closed at plus 205 points today? Guess what? The extra 15 points put the market back over the magical 10,000 point mark! Isn’t that just freaking wonderful!

But wait a minute good citizen… let’s have a peek at tonight’s second offering to see if this news is truly more delightful than the cherry picked retail data…

Labor Report Helps Send Wall Street Higher
Published: November 5, 2009

Stocks opened sharply higher on Wall Street on Thursday after a report showed a bigger-than-expected decline in workers seeking unemployment benefits.

The Labor Department said the number of newly laid-off workers filing claims for jobless benefits fell to 512,000 last week, the lowest level since January. Economists had expected 523,000 new claims. [STOP right there…this data isn’t scheduled to be released until Friday…and for the next two months it is subject to ‘revision’…and the weekly figures have been overwhelmingly revised…upwards, for the past six months.]

The report offered investors hope that the government’s monthly report on unemployment on Friday might be better than expected. Economists expect the unemployment rate to have risen to 9.9 percent in October.

The government also reported Thursday that productivity grew in the third quarter at the fastest pace in six years while labor costs continued to drop. [Neither of these reports are ‘positive’ good citizen because of how the results were achieved…the increase in productivity is the result of ‘cost reductions’, usually realized by downsizing ‘headcount’ until it is in line with customer demand…if labor costs are dropping as well it merely means overall payroll is getting smaller, which sort of calls bullshit on the ‘uptick’ in retail sales claimed in the previous article…]

In early trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 122.43, or 1.3 percent, at 9,924.57. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 1.1 percent, while the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index was up 1.5 percent after Cisco Systems forecast increased revenues. [Early as in ‘before the opening bell’ as the European offices of US investment firms bought nearly a trillion dollars worth of stocks…for no good reason; except to make the rich, richer…at the expense of everyone else, naturally!]

Overseas, Asian markets fell overnight, while European shares were mixed in afternoon trading after central banks left their interest rates unchanged. The Bank of England also said it would pump more money into the economy after news last week that the country remains in recession.

The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that it would keep its own interest rates low for “an extended period.” The statement accompanying the central bank’s rate decision noted that housing activity has picked up in recent months and that consumer spending appeared to be growing, albeit slowly. [Yeah, how fortunate are we that population growth, while economically detectable, is still slow…so the hosers can claim were seeing economic growth when it isn’t really there.]

October sales reports from major retailers on Thursday are expected to show some recovery in spending. Early reports though are mixed. [Miss the whole article good citizen? Don’t fret! There’s the ‘Reader’s Digest version right there for your convenience…]

In European trading, Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.3 percent, recovering from early losses. Germany’s DAX index was up 0.5 percent, and France’s CAC-40 gained 0.7 percent. Earlier Thursday, Japan’s Nikkei stock average fell 1.3 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slipped 0.6 percent.

Among the early sales reports, Costco Wholesale posted a 5 percent jump in sales at stores open at least a year, a key gauge of a retailer’s health. Limited Brands, however, reported a bigger-than-expected sales decline.

Mixed data have made it difficult for investors to come to a conclusive decision on where the economy is headed. Areas like manufacturing and housing have shown improvements, but consumer spending continues to lag as job losses remain high. The reality fear is that government stimulus programs have become a crutch for the economy and that the 3.5 percent growth in the third quarter won’t be sustainable once those stimulus measures are removed.

The uncertainty in the market has made trading increasingly choppy. [?] While the market is able to move higher on good news, it has become more difficult for the gains to stick. Swings between positive and negative territory have become the norm. [What’s this bozo smokin’ and why won’t he share? The markets soared straight up then traded ‘sideways’ until they enjoyed a small pop at the close…the last bump driving them over the 10,000 mark…but this article doesn’t know that because it was posted at roughly 11:00 AM.]

On Wednesday, investors initially cheered the Fed’s assessment of the economy, which followed earlier reports on service industries and employment that seemed to ease some of investors’ ongoing concerns. But stocks failed to hold on to their big gains. The Dow ended up about 30 points, after rising as much as 156 points after the Fed announcement. [What we’ve seen here good citizen is ‘back to back’ trillion dollar days…we know it isn’t a testament to our economic might so are we really witnessing the brazenness of the thieves as they clean out the National Treasury?]

In earnings news, Cisco Systems said late Wednesday it expected revenue to grow for the first time in a year during the period ending in January, but warned that the pace of new sales was still slow. Shares added 61 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $23.90 in early trading.

In other trading, bond prices were little changed. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, held steady at 3.53 percent.

The dollar was slightly higher against other major currencies. Gold prices rose added $2 to $1,089 an ounce.

Light, sweet crude fell 30 cents to $80.10 a barrel in electronic premarket trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Some Wall Street Year-End Bonuses Could Hit Pre-Downturn Highs the aforementioned link is to a news item intended to ‘test the water’, to gage the public’s mood regarding the inevitability of leaks when it comes to end of year bonuses on Wall Street.

They’ll hand out the bonuses regardless, they’re just hoping to smooth the way a little by providing some advance notice.

I chewed up enough of your time in the lead in,

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


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