Sunday, January 31, 2010

Wind Power

Greetings good citizen,

There is nothing more infuriating than observing the kabuki dance of international ‘uncompetitiveness’ as it is played out against the backdrop of currency manipulation. In some respects, the chutzpah of the MSM to even run an article like this one takes the breath away.

Worse are the false claims of politicians that ‘alternative energy’ is the engine capable of returning our empire to greatness. (The fallacy here lies with the word ‘our’.) Investors in Chinese alternative energy will most certainly wax very wealthy indeed. Great for them, sucks for US. (Double-entendre intentional.)

I’ll jump on my ‘socialist’ high horse for a moment to condemn the irrational practice of placing private investment ahead of the public good. The ‘lowest bidder’ only benefits those who can play, everybody else gets the shaft!

This equipment will be sold to public utilities for a profit, who will in turn, charge their customers a premium so the utility can pay their bond owners a ‘dividend’…the unanswered question here is why these ‘middlemen’ are allowed access at all?

Our civilization is collapsing because too many ‘parasites’ are baked in to every deal, both public and private. No irony should be lost on the fact that every (I hesitate to call them this but) ‘Great’ civilization throughout history has crumbled for precisely this reason.

The ‘Great Contradiction’ of capitalism is the impossibility of pursuing your own interests AND those of the society. What’s ‘good’ for you is ultimately ‘bad’, not just for some but for many (if not most) others. For every opportunity created there are a thousand denied.

Ownership don’t float in a universe of limited resources…and we only have a single planet to work with here!

Anyway, I’ll give it a rest and you can make up our own mind about tonight’s offering

China Leading Global Race to Make Clean Energy

Published: January 30, 2010

TIANJIN, China — China vaulted past competitors in Denmark, Germany, Spain and the United States last year to become the world’s largest maker of wind turbines, and is poised to expand even further this year.

China has also leapfrogged the West in the last two years to emerge as the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels. And the country is pushing equally hard to build nuclear reactors and the most efficient types of coal power plants. [Is this a case of those ‘clever’ Chinamen…or those fucking traitorous, cheapskate capitalists? No irony whatsoever should be lost on the fact that China still claims, er, ‘loyalty’ to Communist principles. The ‘People’ are doing very well, just some more so than others…but I digress.]

These efforts to dominate renewable energy technologies raise the prospect that the West may someday trade its dependence on oil from the Mideast for a reliance on solar panels, wind turbines and other gear manufactured in China. [Why do you suppose investors think that? Could it be because even the oil industry is now admitting that demand is outstripping supply?]

“Most of the energy equipment will carry a brass plate, ‘Made in China,’ ” said K. K. Chan, the chief executive of Nature Elements Capital, a private equity fund in Beijing that focuses on renewable energy. [What do you suppose would be revealed if we ‘scratched the surface’ of this ‘vulture fund’? Who do you think we’d find under there?]

President Obama, in his State of the Union speech last week, sounded an alarm that the United States was falling behind other countries, especially China, on energy. “I do not accept a future where the jobs and industries of tomorrow take root beyond our borders — and I know you don’t either,” he told Congress. [Yet ‘Uncle Tom’ hasn’t lifted a single finger to put a stop to the ongoing off-shoring of US jobs. Worse, the traitorous corporations who engage in this reprehensible practice have yet to have their (corporate) charters or their patents revoked! But, naturally, that wouldn’t be very ‘business friendly’…so what, exactly, is wrong with these idiots?]

The United States and other countries are offering incentives to develop their own renewable energy industries, and Mr. Obama called for redoubling American efforts. Yet many Western and Chinese executives expect China to prevail in the energy-technology race. [Currency manipulation…plain and simple, otherwise Chinese workers would starve to death.]

Multinational corporations are responding to the rapid growth of China’s market by building big, state-of-the-art factories in China. [Don’t suppose that has something to do with it, do you?] Vestas of Denmark has just erected the world’s biggest wind turbine manufacturing complex here in northeastern China, and transferred the technology to build the latest electronic controls and generators. [Thwack! That’s the sound of investors kicking you in the gonads (or where your gonads should be!) Why these cokesackers aren’t swinging at the end of a strong cable remains a mystery. Make no mistake about it, the same people responsible for the destruction of the world’s economy are also responsible for the currency manipulation that made it possible!]

“You have to move fast with the market,” said Jens Tommerup, the president of Vestas China. “Nobody has ever seen such fast development in a wind market.” [What do you suppose that means for the future of ‘cheap and abundant’ energy, good citizen? Which is to ask ‘how will you pay’ in a world that no longer needs you? (it’s not an ‘idle question’.)]

Renewable energy industries here are adding jobs rapidly, reaching 1.12 million in 2008 and climbing by 100,000 a year, according to the government-backed Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association. [Sure looks promising…if you’re Chinese!]

Yet renewable energy may be doing more for China’s economy than for the environment. Total power generation in China is on track to pass the United States in 2012 — and most of the added capacity will still be from coal. [You build the future with the technology you have, not the technology you wish you had. An honest look at this concept reveals some frightening truths about our ability to deploy sufficient ‘clean energy technology’ to meet the demands of a growing population…with the ‘growing population’ part being the key.]

China intends for wind, solar and biomass energy to represent 8 percent of its electricity generation capacity by 2020. That compares with less than 4 percent now in China and the United States. Coal will still represent two-thirds of China’s capacity in 2020, and nuclear and hydropower most of the rest. [So, the energy needs of the rest of the world appear to supercede those of the world’s newest ‘workshop’. Is that also the work of ‘the investors’?]

As China seeks to dominate energy-equipment exports, it has the advantage of being the world’s largest market for power equipment. The government spends heavily to upgrade the electricity grid, committing $45 billion in 2009 alone. State-owned banks provide generous financing. [Contrast that with the crumbling energy infrastructure here in the US. Government can’t afford to ‘upgrade’ (too many demands on too little cash flow) and the private sector is unwilling to commit. (They are fully aware the consumer is tapped out and there aren’t any ‘public funds’ left to grab.)]

China’s top leaders are intensely focused on energy policy: on Wednesday, the government announced the creation of a National Energy Commission composed of cabinet ministers as a “superministry” led by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao himself. [Here’s an interesting question: how many of you will be genuinely surprised to see oil prices head for the stratosphere by Summertime? You already know the MSM will be utterly breathless, besides being shocked an awed!]

Regulators have set mandates for power generation companies to use more renewable energy. Generous subsidies for consumers to install their own solar panels or solar water heaters have produced flurries of activity on rooftops across China. [Probably the same kind of subsidies that St. Ronnie ‘trashed’ back in the eighties. There’s a fine example of ‘forward looking’ conservatism for you! Which is to ask, imagine where we’d be today if not for ‘the second worst president ever’?]

China’s biggest advantage may be its domestic demand for electricity, rising 15 percent a year. To meet demand in the coming decade, according to statistics from the International Energy Agency, China will need to add nearly nine times as much electricity generation capacity as the United States will. [Um, Chinese energy consumption, which is admittedly not the same as ‘capacity’ has fallen considerably so the initial ‘assertion’ in this paragraph is a boldfaced lie even though they try to camouflage it by saying ‘domestic demand’. There isn’t a way to ‘separate’ commercial use from domestic use and overall use figures are down.]

So while Americans are used to thinking of themselves as having the world’s largest market in many industries, China’s market for power equipment dwarfs that of the United States, even though the American market is more mature. That means Chinese producers enjoy enormous efficiencies from large-scale production. [That’s a steaming pile of manure as well!]

In the United States, power companies frequently face a choice between buying renewable energy equipment or continuing to operate fossil-fuel-fired power plants that have already been built and paid for. In China, power companies have to buy lots of new equipment anyway, and alternative energy, particularly wind and nuclear, is increasingly priced competitively. [Another statement that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny but there is very little about capitalist math that could be considered ‘logical’…]

Interest rates as low as 2 percent for bank loans — the result of a savings rate of 40 percent and a government policy of steering loans to renewable energy — have also made a big difference. [Understand what they’ve just admitted here good citizen! How the hell do you get a 40% savings rate? Chinese workers are ‘obviously’ overpaid BUT you would starve to death if you had to live on their paycheck! If it don’t make sense, it isn’t sensible!]

As in many other industries, China’s low labor costs are an advantage in energy. Although Chinese wages have risen sharply in the last five years, Vestas still pays assembly line workers here only $4,100 a year.

China’s commitment to renewable energy is expensive. Although costs are falling steeply through mass production, wind energy is still 20 to 40 percent more expensive than coal-fired power. Solar power is still at least twice as expensive as coal. [More fine examples of capitalist thinking…dimwits!]

The Chinese government charges a renewable energy fee to all electricity users. The fee increases residential electricity bills by 0.25 percent to 0.4 percent. For industrial users of electricity, the fee doubled in November to roughly 0.8 percent of the electricity bill. [Imagine if they tried to pull that stunt here?]

The fee revenue goes to companies that operate the electricity grid, to make up the cost difference between renewable energy and coal-fired power.

Renewable energy fees are not yet high enough to affect China’s competitiveness even in energy-intensive industries, said the chairman of a Chinese industrial company, who asked not to be identified because of the political sensitivity of electricity rates in China.

Grid operators are unhappy. They are reimbursed for the extra cost of buying renewable energy instead of coal-fired power, but not for the formidable cost of building power lines to wind turbines and other renewable energy producers, many of them in remote, windswept areas. Transmission losses are high for sending power over long distances to cities, and nearly a third of China’s wind turbines are not yet connected to the national grid. [This poses some pretty bizarre questions, doesn’t it?]

Most of these turbines were built only in the last year, however, and grid construction has not caught up. Under legislation passed by the Chinese legislature on Dec. 26, a grid operator that does not connect a renewable energy operation to the grid must pay that operation twice the value of the electricity that cannot be distributed. [Funny how capitalist principles of ‘non-performance’ have popped up in this so-called communist nation…all you need is a ‘payee’ and how many of those ‘payee’s’ just happen to be investors, looking out for their capital at the public’s expense! (Just like here…kind of reminds you of home, don’t it?)

With prices tumbling, China’s wind and solar industries are increasingly looking to sell equipment abroad — and facing complaints by Western companies that they have unfair advantages. When a Chinese company reached a deal in November to supply turbines for a big wind farm in Texas, there were calls in Congress to halt federal spending on imported equipment. [You all know T. Boone Pickens, the mighty capitalist, abandoned his plans for a huge wind farm in Texas after plans to import the wind turbines from China leaked to the press…and public outrage went right off the charts!]

“Every country, including the United States and in Europe, wants a low cost of renewable energy,” said Ma Lingjuan, deputy managing director of China’s renewable energy association. “Now China has reached that level, but it gets criticized by the rest of the world.”

What do you suppose the prospects are of ever seeing a ‘renewable energy industry’ (besides the ‘cottage industry’ of small-time, virtually custom built units available today) popping up here in the US?

Um, the latest ‘breakthrough’ in solar panel technology came from where good citizen? It came out of MIT, probably from Lincoln labs down in Lexington rather than the automation labs in Cambridge.

Where did this ‘innovation’ end up? Where do you think it will turn up? The answer to that question is simple, which Chinese energy company is partnered with G.E.? Why pick on G.E.? Guess who owns the world’s largest manufacturer? Did you guess J.P. Morgan?

Funny how we always seem to find ourselves back on Wall Street.

Anyway, we still haven’t answered the question, although you’d be correct to wonder which question I’m referring to as several have been left ‘open ended’.

Life as we have come to know it is built upon a foundation of ‘cheap, abundant energy’, once energy is neither, life as we have come to know it will cease to exist.

Which is as grim as it sounds. Yes, many alive today will not be alive tomorrow, the world is incapable of supporting them in the absence of cheap abundant energy.

Is there a sufficient number of resources available to build a renewable grid capable of supporting the ‘survivors’? Ironically, the answer is in the question, it is unlikely the number of survivors will exceed the resources available to build and sustain a grid.

However, if the ‘talent’ to build said grid becomes ‘collateral damage’ in the down/right-sizing of the population then all bets are off.

Just wanted to put those considerations out there before we tackled the more obvious question of ‘political salvation’. Understand that the next elections will be decided on such fantasies as building a domestic renewable energy industry as well as expanding educational opportunities (with a steadily decreasing amount of funding) for…’our’ children…just understand YOUR kids are unlikely to be included in these political calculations.

Oh what fun it would be to ‘pin down’ a politician with their own rhetoric! Watch the denial kick in once you start calling them on their ‘sweeping generalizations’! Depending on the firmness of their grasp of the situation (most of them don’t ‘get it’ at all) you will see some wild gyrations as well as some astounding contradictions! But once again I digress.

All kidding aside there is another ‘dynamic’ at work here, one the economists are either too stupid (most likely) or are too clever (far less likely), perhaps I should use this as an opportunity to challenge your gray-matter!

What does the ‘end’ of cheap fossil fuel and the geographic location of the world’s workshop mean to each other? No clue?

Um, okay, here’s a hint…when energy is no longer cheap, what do you suppose is going to happen to China’s alleged ‘competitive advantage’?

The mental image of a tiny ‘poof’ comes to mind. Now let’s turn that idea on its head. The world’s workshop is six thousand, no matter how you slice ‘em, miles from here…regardless of freight costs, what do you suppose this is going to do to ‘availability’?

A lot of this crap isn’t ‘locally produced’ anymore, there are no ‘competing products’. You either pay the price or you do without the sumbitch!

Um, not to raise a more ‘worrisome’ topic but guess what else comes to us from halfway around the world…computer chips! Bad enough we are totally dependent on foreign suppliers for our personal electronics but ALL of our MILITARY MIGHT comes from chips we don’t make for ourselves.

WTF were our lawmakers thinking? The ‘Cold War’ didn’t end until 1990 and it’s not idle speculation to consider that we are only experiencing a temporary lull, not a cessation of hostilities.

Which is to point out that our government is no longer run by public servants but greed motivated capitalist pigs who could care less about the ‘common good’, which explains why most of the nation feels the country is on the ‘wrong track’.

When our ‘forefathers’ set up this nation, it wasn’t so the government could hold the gun while our merchant/bankers raped us.

Um, sorry about that…better out than in.

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Friends & Family

Greetings good citizen,

In an interesting (and seldom reported) phenomenon, markets around the globe lost ground this week, making the already rich less well off than they previously were. Not that this ruins their day, the difference between them and you is literally millions of shares.

You may own a handful of this and a block of that in your IRA/401k and perhaps your maiden Aunt Tillie left you 100,000 shares of Acme Amalgamated when she passed away. (Sadly, the last time you checked, Acme was trading at less than ten cents a share…better than a sharp stick in the eye but your bed most certainly isn’t made.)

However, this brings us closer than usual to the topic of tonight’s offering , financial assistance - home style.

Jobless Turn to Family for Help

Published: January 29, 2010

WARRENTON, Ore. — After Jean Ley lost her job as a mental health counselor in June 2008, she quickly realized how limited her options were. She had little savings. Unemployment benefits were not going to be enough to pay her bills. She was at risk of losing her home here on the Oregon coast.

Matt Ley and his wife, Sandy Brown, have been helping Mr. Ley's mother pay her bills since she lost her job in June 2008.

As a last resort, Ms. Ley, 62, turned to her family. Her older brothers conferred with her son, Matt, and agreed that one of them would help pay her bills if needed.

But the assistance proved more than temporary. A year and half later, her son’s regular payments covering her mortgage and occasional emergencies, like a car repair or arthritis medication, have proven to be her bulwark from economic catastrophe.

“If my family weren’t able to help me out at this point, I wouldn’t have a home,” she said. “And I would be struggling.” [Um, I’d be quick to point out that this is far from a ‘typical’ situation, Ms. Ley’s son must have a very good income indeed to be able to crack two mortgages every month.]

As joblessness persists, credit cards max out and the government’s safety net has grown thin, many Americans have turned to a patchwork quilt of family members and friends to stave off eviction, keep their electricity running or cover an unexpected medical bill. It is an underground banking system, complete with lenders and borrowers.

But borrowing from others can be complicated. In interviews, more than two dozen unemployed adults who had borrowed from family or friends said the act of asking, even in these hard times, is often humbling; some even called it humiliating. It can be equally stressful for lenders, many of whom are also on shaky financial footing and can barely afford to extend a small amount — especially when loans turn into gifts.

“I think money changes everything,” said Matt Ley, of Seattle. “It’s a cliché, but when you lend money to a friend, when you lend money to family, it changes things.”

More than half of the respondents to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll of 708 unemployed adults nationwide said they had borrowed money from friends or relatives. In most cases, their financial pictures were bleak. Nearly 80 percent of those who reported borrowing money said their family’s financial situation was “fairly bad” or “very bad,” a significantly greater proportion than among those who had not had to borrow.

Nearly 40 percent of those who had been lent money received food stamps, compared with just 13 percent of those who had not.

Younger unemployed adults were more likely to borrow money — 61 percent of those under the age of 45 said they had. But more than a third of those over the age of 45 had as well. [With the long-term trend of all jobs paying less these day it’s not surprising to note that younger people find themselves deeper in debt than their older, better paid siblings.]

For adult children borrowing from parents — by far the most common occurrence among those interviewed — the act often meant acknowledging an uneasy dependence that many thought they had escaped long ago.

“Here I am, 38, and having to ask for help from my parents is just belittling,” said Matt Gibbons of Kingsport, Tenn., who has accepted more than $2,000 from his mother to cover his bills since losing his job at a home improvement company in early 2008.

John Morris, 36, of Chicago had to go to the emergency room recently with a leg infection. Without health insurance after losing his job a year and a half ago, he applied for charity care from the hospital. But he still needed about $300 for antibiotics after being discharged.
[A ‘double sin’ was committed here and you can bet the drug company got its ‘pound of flesh’.]
Mr. Morris waited two and a half days before finally summoning the nerve to call his father, Rich, who had already lent him money for an emergency car repair. Rich Morris, who recently retired, eventually wired the money but only after checking some accounts to make sure he had enough.

“It’s not like we have hundreds of thousands of dollars lying around in a slush fund that you can pull out and do these types of things,” Rich Morris said. [Temper this against all of the hard pressed individuals that DIDN’T have someone to tap for a loan…they lost their living quarters or did without the drugs…or eating or worse, had to watch helplessly as a child or loved one suffered.]

What became clear from interviews is that borrowing from family or friends is often done only with great reluctance.

Carlethaus Hopper, 35, of Sacramento was laid off from his job as a welder in September 2008. A few months later, his wife, Lura, 50, lost her position as a ticket clerk for Amtrak.

They started pawning jewelry, even their wedding rings. But when they received a notice threatening them with eviction if they did not immediately pay the back monthly rent of $1,025, they had no recourse but to ask Ms. Hopper’s 82-year-old father.

Since then, the couple has turned to Ms. Hopper’s father two more times, borrowing more than $3,000. Ms. Hopper also recently borrowed $2,000 from an old friend to pay for medication.

In most cases, according to interviews, repayment is left open-ended, given how bleak the odds of re-employment remain. Interest is usually not part of the agreement. Some lenders said they did not even expect to be repaid. But the borrowers often insist that they will as a matter of pride.

After Christine Oxley, 56, and her husband lost their jobs at a nonprofit trade association in 2008, Ms. Oxley drew up a legal contract when she was forced to go to an elderly great-aunt for $40,000 after her husband had a heart attack and was hospitalized without health insurance. Some portion of the money was eventually going to be directed the Oxleys way in an inheritance, but Ms. Oxley insisted upon a formal agreement that required repayment within five years. “I wanted her to know I wasn’t going to walk away from this and I wasn’t trying to get a handout,” she said.

Some borrowers have exhausted their unemployment benefits, while others did not qualify in the first place. Even among those who have been able to draw benefits, like Ms. Ley, it is frequently not enough.

The Leys’ situation was complicated by the fact that Matt Ley and his wife, Sandy Brown, had lent his mother money to pay legal bills when she went through a messy separation from a partner several years ago that depleted her savings. The assistance became a source of tension in her son’s marriage, prompting Mr. Ley and his wife to seek the help of a therapist.

“Emotionally, we had to readjust,” said Ms. Brown, who works part time as a lawyer. “How do we communicate in our marriage about this difficult issue without making anyone feel bad?”

This time, Ms. Ley provided the couple with a detailed budget of how she was spending her money, down to cat food and haircuts, proving her frugality. Still, the $750 a month for the mortgage on her small modular home, along with some other bills, was not insignificant, even for a couple with means, forcing them to set aside other priorities.

Mr. Ley, who is a commercial banker, said the exchange of money has pushed him and his mother apart in subtle ways. But he tries to maintain perspective.

“At some point, you have to step back and say, ‘This is your mother, this is family, this is blood,’ ” Mr. Ley said. “And this is what you do when they have something bad happen to them.”

Left dangling here is why the son and his attorney wife don’t just let the mother-in-law move in with them? Somewhere down the line her ‘independence’ was determined to be worth the expense…especially when other family members declined to make house space for their sibling/parent.

There is a disturbing aspect to this particular article and it’s disturbing in its absence. There are a lot of individuals who don’t have anybody to lean on, nobody they can hit up for a loan.

Worse, most of these unfortunate bastards are in no position to pay the money back, they don’t know when their next meal is coming from never mind their next paycheck

It was precisely this ‘disingenuous’ theme that attracted me to this particular article. ‘Happy Talk’ comes in all many different guises.

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


Friday, January 29, 2010

That's Incredible!

Greetings good citizen,

Most of you know what’s on tap for tonight… What fresh Orwellian hell is this?

Earlier this week I cautioned you to read the offering with that catchy little tune that pops into our heads with most MSM reports, “Listen to the bull shit fly,” apparently they can’t get enough of it, or they really do think you’re so stupid that you’ll swallow anything!

Anyway, the markets have closed for the week and it appears that it was Europe’s turn to be ‘out of synch’ with the rest of the world. After spending most of the day in positive territory, US markets ended in negative territory. Which only adds to the ‘conundrum’ of such an, er, ‘optimistic’ GDP report.

U.S. Economy Grew at Fastest Pace in 6 Years Last Quarter

Published: January 29, 2010

The United States economy grew at its fastest pace in over six years at the end of 2009, but a sluggish job market is still souring economists on the sustainability of the recovery. [What smacks you in the eye here is the total absence of proof of an uptick in economic activity. It appears GDP reporting has gone the way of consumer price inflation measurements and unemployment statistics…they ‘are’ whatever they say they ‘are’ and have no discernable basis in reality.]

Gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter, well above analysts’ and any sane persons’ expectations. It had grown at an annualized rate of 2.2 percent in the previous quarter. [Revised down from the originally reported 3.5%] Analysts had forecast annualized growth of 4.8 percent in the fourth quarter, and the better-than-expected result sent stocks higher when trading opened on Wall Street. [So we return to yesterday’s statement that the market ‘responds’ to influences that are not necessarily ‘fact based’…making the nature of money itself ‘questionable’…]

“It was an excellent report, but it’s not clear how sustainable this pace of growth is,” said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics. [ John who?] “We need numbers like this for the next two years, and I just don’t think we can achieve that.” [And we should care what he thinks, why?]

The biggest lift to economic activity came because businesses ran down their stockrooms at a much slower rate than they had earlier in the year. The change in inventories added 3.39 percentage points to the fourth-quarter change. [Oh, that clears up the whole thing! Which is to say are you fucking jerking me? How the fuck does slower inventory turnover create higher GDP unless the morons are measuring it wrong? Anyone want to take a stab at that? Bueller? anyone? Bueller?]

Slower inventory liquidation is not the most promising way to guarantee growth going forward, [Can we get a no shit!] but economists are hoping that once companies become more confident about the recovery, they may ramp up production to refill stockroom shelves. [WTF! Talk about ‘wing and a prayer’!]

“What goes down wildly has to go up at a pretty good clip,” said Robert Barbera, chief economist at ITG. [Again with ‘the who’ and ‘the why’?]

Still, many economists worry more about trends in final sales to consumers and businesses.

Consumer spending grew at an annualized pace of 2 percent in the fourth quarter, after an increase of 2.8 percent in the third quarter. That is better than many had feared when the quarter began, considering that the cash-for-clunkers program was no longer around to help stimulate spending.

But consumer spending has still been disappointing to many economists, given the trends in previous recoveries. In the past, housing and consumption often helped drive growth in the wake of a recession. [Yeah…but that was then and this is now. Until the fucktards stop shipping jobs overseas the economy won’t have a prayer of righting itself, not now, not ever!]

Without the benefit of similarly bombastic inventory changes, many economists are expecting tepid growth in the quarters ahead. Ian Shepherdson, chief United States economist at High Frequency Economics, expects output to expand by a mere 1 or 2 percent, at an annualized rate, this quarter and next. [So what the fuck is this 5.7% bullshit all about? I’m still baffled as to how this was achieved via ‘slower’ inventory reduction rates…sounds more like an accounting problem!]

The biggest challenge going forward is the job market.

“Our focus must remain on getting Americans back to work,” Christina Romer, chairwoman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, said in a statement. “That G.D.P. rose strongly in the fourth quarter of last year while employment fell and the workweek increased only slightly emphasizes the need for policy actions designed to help spur private-sector job creation.”

Also on Friday, the Obama administration released details of a proposed tax cut for businesses that hire workers or raise wages, a policy intended to encourage companies to start investing more in their workers.On net, the economy lost 208,000 nonfarm payroll jobs last quarter, and the unemployment rate rose to 10 percent. As long as the labor market remains weak, consumers — whose purchases make up the bulk of economic output each quarter — will be reluctant to spend money. That means businesses will need to look for other sources of demand, like exports.

Perhaps the most promising trend, at least for job growth, to come out of Friday’s report was the pickup in equipment and software spending.

Businesses increased their investment in these areas at an annualized rate of 13.3 percent last quarter, compared with an increase of 1.5 percent in the third quarter.

“Businesses that are spending more on equipment and software probably going to be hiring more as well,” said Nigel Gault, chief United States economist for IHS Global Insight. “If we see more hiring, that means we may see more consumer spending, too.” [This asshole we’ve heard of, but it seems he’s ignorant of the concept of replacing outdated technology…which doesn’t add a single US job…in fact it usually eliminates a couple.]

Total government spending fell slightly, by an annualized rate of 0.1 percent, from the third quarter to the fourth quarter, largely thanks to declines in military spending and state and local government spending.

Federal nonmilitary spending rose at an annual rate of 8.1 percent last quarter, after rising 7 percent the previous quarter.

International trade over all increased last quarter, and exports grew nearly twice as fast as imports, helped along by a relatively weak dollar. [Too bad our main exports are food and raw materials that we no longer process here. The drop in imports isn’t necessarily ‘good news’ either as it is due to our being unable to pay for more useless dreck, thanks to weakness in the overall economy.]

The G.D.P. number is a broad measure of the economy’s total output of goods and services. While it is, by definition, a backward-looking figure, analysts watch it to get a sense of where the country may be headed.

The number can be subject to major revisions, especially when the economy is at a turning point. The annual growth rate initially reported by the government for the third quarter of 2009 was 3.5 percent, but was later revised to less-impressive 2.2 percent.

The government’s final figure for last quarter’s G.D.P. will be released in March.

What can you say good citizen, when they ‘cook the books’ they don’t do it halfway, do they? Guess this brings us to the hallmark of neo-conservative philosophy, ‘if you’re going to lie, lie big!’

Which brings us to another chilling reality: After a certain point it is no longer possible to discern the truth, regardless of the source.

When trust breaks down to the point you can only moderately trust the people you have intimate interactions with (you know them quite well) and you don’t dare trust anyone else, the world becomes one huge armed camp.

The establishment of the ‘rule of law’ was supposed to put these fears to rest, but now the criminals have taken over the machinery of the law. It can no longer be trusted.

Now there’s a ‘pendulum’ that literally ‘snaps’ back and forth between extremes, a ‘squeaky clean’ legal apparatus prosecutes everyone for everything until the message is clear that one had best not even appear to step out of line for fear of some very real consequences.

That’s the ‘trouble’ with the law, either it works too well or it doesn’t work at all.

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Less than expected

Greetings good citizen,

Much is being made of the weak jobs market as this morning’s report of ‘higher than expected’ new claims for unemployment sent the stock market 140 points into negative territory. (Not that the markets closed there but they did indeed dip that low during afternoon trading.)

I sort of ‘went off’ yesterday on the topic of things working in a loop-like fashion, how if people aren’t paid they can’t pay and so on down the line. Well, where do you suppose that conga line starts?

How about here, where the jobs AREN’T… have a gander at this news item if you’re still wondering why the labor markets are flat…

Understand that Bozo the business owner, in pursuit of his own best interests, opens a new plant in some third world hell hole. Someplace where what labor laws there are get made by management and some employees really are ‘bought and paid for’, having been supplied by the low-life scum that ‘traffic’ in live humans.

No irony should be lost on the fact that capitalism itself provides the ‘market’ for this blatant disregard of human dignity. Without the ‘profit motive’ there is no ‘incentive’ to rob another human being of their freedom…a practice usually reserved for the punishment of criminals.

Got a little sidetracked there, albeit by a point that needed to be made.

So Bozo, exercising his ‘freedom’ to maximize his profits by whatever means available, opens a new plant, displacing his own employees in his native land…in this case the USA.

Understand, ‘theoretically’ Bozo was issued a ‘permit’ to conduct commerce in the USA (a corporate charter) NOT with the express purpose of maximizing personal profits BUT with the express purpose of fulfilling a ‘public good’.

Why bother to incorporate or even to legally establish yourself if your sole aim is to exploit the citizens of a certain geographic location for personal enrichment?

Paying taxes or maintaining/complying with government standards and practices only cut into your profits, so why do it?

A question most ‘business operators’ don’t like to discuss much as they cut every corner they can get away with.

The laws are established not only to protect the customer but they also exist to level the playing field between vendors…which is a bit weird because there isn’t much crossover between protections for customers and protections for business operators, leaving customers somewhat vulnerable…

Anyway, my point, in case missed it, is that businesses enjoy certain government protections while the protection the government is supposed to be providing for society has gone ‘missing’.

Yessirree Bob, the gubmint is supposed to make sure the people they permit to collect money from the people of our nation also provide those people with a way to earn money in return. That is how most ‘corporations’ satisfy their ‘public good’ requirement.

It is not the service itself but the employment opportunity it provides that makes business so ‘valuable’ to a society. Hell, if it was just the goods or services alone, all you’d need was access to a port and we’d all buy everything we wanted off of the docks (or out of the back of a truck)

Somewhere down the line, this ‘public good’ aspect of being permitted to ‘prey’, I mean ‘conduct business’ in our country got lost in translation. Seems our ‘legislators’ lost sight of the ‘purpose of commerce’.

Um, receiving only the ‘extraction’ portion of the business arrangement has caused a certain amount of ‘slack’ in our labor markets. Not producing what we consume has by default left us with a lot fewer consumers…while the assholes taking advantage of this situation are getting their bread buttered on both sides.

But you knew that.

And so at long last we arrive at tonight’s offering

Disappointing Economic Data Pushes Markets Lower

Published: January 28, 2010 [Notice how this story remains an ‘orphan’?]

Shares on Wall Street slipped in early trading Thursday as upbeat earnings failed to offset uncertainty still swirling around government involvement in the market and disappointing jobless and durable goods orders reports. [Um, read that last line again and ask yourself what the qualifications are to be a reporter/editor for this nation’s paper of record?]

Markets also declined in Europe after shares finished higher in Asia. [And there we have global market performance in a nutshell.]

Politics, not the economy, had been dictating trading over the last week. Concerns about President Obama’s plan to overhaul banking regulation and restrict trading at large financial institutions spooked the market. The possibility that the Federal Reserve Board chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, would not be confirmed for a second term had investors on edge, though those worries have subsided. Stocks have declined five of the last eight days. [And Benber was granted his second term…]

During his State of the Union address Wednesday night, Mr. Obama avoided talking about the banking overhaul plan. Uncertainty over details of how that plan might be enacted and how strong trading restrictions would be had helped push the market to its worst three-day stretch since stocks bottomed last March. [That’s pretty remarkable all by itself, actually admitting that market conditions had nothing to do with the economy and everything to do with politics is more truth than most of us can handle!]

Focus on the economy is creeping back to the forefront. The Fed said Wednesday afternoon it would keep interest rates at historic lows [which means they will essentially do nothing] and the economy was showing signs of improvement. That helped stocks rally late in the day. [Yes, the Dow closed down 115 points instead of the 140 points it was down earlier in the trading day…wait for it…WTF!!!]

Investors welcomed a new round of earnings Thursday that showed signs of a strengthening economy. [Which is why the Dow lost 115 points, right?] However, the Labor Department said weekly jobless claims fell by less than expected last week and the Commerce Department reported durable goods orders did not rise as fast as anticipated last month, providing a reminder the economic recovery will probably be slow.

In late morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 167.77 points, or 1.6 percent. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fell 17.84, or 1.6 percent while the Nasdaq declined 51.98 points, or 2.3 percent. [You can’t tell from the graph how ‘low’ (or high) a particular peak or valley is, the ‘lowest’ I saw today was 140, thus do I repeat that figure several times in the post.]

In London, the FTSE 100 index was down 24.41 points, or 0.5 percent, at 5,193.06 while Germany’s DAX fell 52.81 points, or 0.9 percent, to 5,590.39 The CAC-40 in France was 37.15 points, or 1 percent, lower at 3,723.65.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 stock average rose 162.21 points, or 1.6 percent, to 10,414.29 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 323.30 points, or 1.6 percent, 20,356.37. Shanghai’s market was up 0.3 percent, Australia added 0.6 percent and India’s index ticked up 0.1 percent.

The Ford Motor Company said it recorded a profit in 2009 — its first annual profit in four years. The auto maker, which avoided bankruptcy and government bailout money, said it expected to again be profitable in 2010.

The consumer products makers, Colgate-Palmolive, and the Procter & Gamble Company both said quarterly sales improved as consumers continue to spend on necessary goods. The two reports topped analysts’ expectations. [Um, when the choices become ‘bad breath’ or starvation, the personal care product giants may notice that their profits drop off proportionally.]

The pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly & Company, recorded a profit during the fourth quarter as sales of its two top-selling drugs rose sharply.

And AT&T’s profit was in line with expectations, though the telecommunications company added a near-record 2.7 million wireless customers.

New requests for unemployment benefits fell modestly, dropping to 470,000 last week. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters had been expecting a bigger drop to 450,000 new unemployment filings.

Orders to American factories for big-ticket manufactured goods rose less than expected in December, increasing just 0.3 percent. Economists had been expecting a 2 percent increase in orders. [So those boobs were off by a mile, makes you wonder what they were expecting…oh yeah, if you will recall, this was supposed to be all over by now.]

For all of 2009, durable goods orders — items expected to last at least three years — tumbled 20.2 percent. It was the largest drop on records that go back to 1992.

Okay, I can’t figure out what is more disturbing, the admission that market performance is driven more so by politics than the economy or the stunning claim that a 115 point drop in the Dow is suddenly a sign of ‘economic strength’. Maybe that’s the problem, novices like myself don’t know the difference between ‘bad’ news and ‘good’.

Oh what a field day they would have if only we were all that stupid!

Maybe I am the one who is being a little ‘dense’, when I see economist’s talk about ‘imbalances’ in the economy, I (stupidly) assume they are talking about the same factors I raise in tonight’s piece.

BUT, you never hear anyone (including these so-called economists) clarify just what they’re referring to when they use the term ‘imbalances’.

Sadly, what passes for our economy is SO far out of whack that the ‘imbalances’ could be anywhere…because they are in fact, ‘everywhere’…

And until they are, er, ‘corrected’ there is NO POSSIBILITY of an economic recovery, nada, zip!

Weird that we can all agree on how the country is headed in the ‘wrong direction’ but not one pundit will risk clarifying what’s wrong for fear of ‘alienating’ their base…

Fortunately, I don’t suffer from that ‘fear’.

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A certain lack of focus...

Greetings good citizen,

We’re roughly halfway through the trading day and markets worldwide are bleeding to death…except the intrepid Nasdaq, which is up 2 points at the moment…whoop-de-ding-dong-dang!

[Update: We’ve had another ‘God Bless America’ close, where the markets turned positive an hour before the close, while the rest of the world sank like a rock.]

Removing our focus from this very moment and looking forward to a time when our ‘economic barometer’ is much simpler to read/make sense of (did you eat today…do you have something to eat tomorrow?) Before there was as stock market, this was precisely how ‘social satisfaction’ was measured.

Full Stop! Throw that bad boy in reverse, partner! We have a considerable ways to go before things become that ‘simple’ again (although we’re edging closer with each passing minute.)

Okay, that’s enough! Take it out of gear and set the parking brake. The President is slated to make his ‘State of the Union Address’ tonight and those ‘intuitive bastards’ in the MSM are already saying it’s going to be all about ‘jobs’…which automatically tells you that there isn’t going to be anything meaningful proposed on the jobs front in tonight’s speech.

It’s hard to compress some concepts into sound bites but it looks like we’re going to have to try.

Why is the US economy (and that of the whole ‘developed world’) falling apart? Because ‘competitiveness’ is being confused with ‘currency manipulation’.

How’s that for a ‘short answer’? Tells the whole story, completely ‘de-fogged’. There’s no bull shit here nor is it an ‘over-simplification’. There is no such thing as a ‘cheaper there’, it doesn’t exist yet millions have lost their job to ‘low wage’ labor pools.

Again the simple explanation is the people who set the prices of commodities are ‘fucking’ with your livelihood for their own benefit, and they should, at the very least, be shot. There is precious little comfort in the thought that ‘wasn’t personal’, they weren’t fucking with you specifically because it all works out to be the same difference in the end.

I bring this up not because the president for the first time ever is going to admit tonight that we have ‘bigger than you can imagine’ problems with the banking system.

No, that isn’t going to happen.

I bring this up because the leaky canoe we call society is about to submerge for the last time, the threads that hold society together are about to snap.

No taxes and you can forget about ‘public services’. The roads don’t get plowed, the water treatment plant stops making the water safe to drink, the cops stop reporting to work and the teachers stay home…hell, the custodians even stop swamping out the classrooms once the municipality you live in goes broke.

Take that another half a step…the electric company shuts down once enough customers stop paying their bill (so they can afford heat…) there are certain ‘minimums’ that need to be met.

If electricity stops flowing, commerce in that service area stops…rare is the enterprise that is wired directly to the grid…and even that might not save a customer if there isn’t enough usage to justify firing up a generator.

Naturally, by the time things get that far gone you’re suffering more supply line problems due to hijackings and equipment/fuel shortages that keeping the lights on no longer matters.

This is full-bore deflation driven by ‘uncertainty’. When the value of money falls into doubt, all commerce stops in its tracks. You can still barter ‘on the fly’, the problem with barter is there’s no changing your mind, once a bargain is struck you’re obliged to see it through…or you’ll be force to kill party you made the original deal with (because they won’t take getting stiffed kindly…)

Um, nobody thinks the value of money will fall into doubt…even though it has happened countless times before…it even happened when the currency was made of precious metals to give you an idea of how bad it can get.

Because it hasn’t happened here (lately) people mistakenly believe it won’t, or worse, can’t.

And no, it’s not going to happen today or even tomorrow…as we push the envelope out o next week, all bets are off! There isn’t a good indicator to tell us how long things will remain glued together.

The scary part is they really can fall apart overnight. You can go to bed with everything being right as rain and wake up to total chaos, the streets literally running in blood. And when that happens, the only thing that will save your ass is keeping your head!

Anyway, this is NOT another one of my mindless rants, I was just overdue to put the bunch of you ‘on notice’. Time is indeed getting short, they can’t keep the whole nation on ‘life support’ indefinitely, we are not Japan.

That said, onward with tonight’s offering

[Purloined from The Automatic Earth]

Nowhere to go and going nowhere

Ilargi: I'm not going to try and find what the CBO this time last year projected the 2009 US budget deficit to be, but I'm willing to bet a lot of bread crumbs that it was a lot less than the $1.4 trillion it turned out to be (three times the 2008 deficit). Today's CBO projection of a $1.35 trillion 2010 deficit inevitably needs to be seen in that pale shade of light.

If you can find any government projection number these days that turns out to be more positive after time, congrats: you're a rare species. With present policies in place, the known total deficit one year from now may well be sharply higher than $1.35 trillion. Even if interest rates don't rise. Which they will.

Obama will announce a "discretionary budget freeze" in the State of the Union, but that's really just for showcase purposes, and not the smartest ones either, by the looks of it. For one thing, 83% of the budget will not be affected at all by the freeze. For another, the 3-year freeze is expected to save $10-15 billion per year initially, and a total of $250 billion over 10 years. If the budget deficit averages $1 trillion for that next decade, the freeze will shave 2.5% off of the overall deficit. And to achieve that, the president will have to fight bitter battles with representatives who rely on that part of the budget to look good in their districts.

I’d say you’d need to save at least 10 times the $250 billion to have any effect (not that that would suffice), but while this can be put up for debate, I would suggest when the President gets to that part of his speech tomorrow night you might as well go get some cold ones. And then take a deep breath and let reality sink in.

Not only has Obama already committed himself to runaway deficits, he now urgently needs to come with a job creation plan that produces real results. And that will cost. A lot. Of money. That’s not there.

To get from today's U3 number of 15.3 million unemployed, a 10% rate, to a 5% rate and 7.65 million jobless by 2015, the US needs to add 1.53 million jobs each year, on top of the 150,000 per month or 1.8 million per year needed just to play even. That means needing 277,500 jobs every month for 60 months. And that's just if you use U3. Take the far more realistic U6 number, and you're looking at a demand of around 400,000 jobs every single month.

Really, do you believe it? Well, whether you do or not, you’ll hear a lot about job creation in the President's speech, and in the weeks and months that follow. Me, I’m wondering what all those people would do in their new jobs. How many burgers does one nation need flipped? And what would they be paid? Enough to pay for health care? To buy a home?

Speaking of homes. Mortgage rates are at a record low, the government buys and guarantees just about any and all loans in the market, gives $8000 premiums to buyers, and settles for a 3.5% downpayment. And in that environment, the November-December monthly drop in the number of existing homes sold was 16.7%, the biggest in over 40 years, in fact since records began. Now you ask yourself: how much more attractive can you make buying a home? And, alternatively, if and when the government withdraws and interest rates go up, what will happen to housing market prices? And if those go down, as they are bound to do, what happens with the taxpayer trillions put into Fannie and Freddie et al?

30% of Americans are hovering around the poverty line, and their numbers are growing rapidly. But poor as they may be, they still stand to lose a lot more money through their federal mortgage "possessions" when that housing market inevitably starts tanking for real. Oh, and Washington needs to bail out state and local governments. So when the poor have become the destitute, the government will start raising taxes. It will have no choice. And how do you think that will influence the pool of prospective home buyers?

I happens to me quite often these days that when I read through the numbers, I see these images of Katrina in my mind's eye, but this time the destruction's nationwide, and there's nowhere to go, even as the country's going nowhere.

And everybody keeps having the wrong conversations. It’s no longer about how to return to prosperity, it’s about how to stave off mayhem, misery, hunger, violence. But that’s not what the president will talk about. And why, then, would his people? It's much more attractive to deny it all a while longer. And be as unprepared as you can be.

Ilargi is right, we are having the ‘wrong conversations’, turning things around is a non-starter, we can’t go back to the way things were or even to the way they ‘should have been’.

More importantly, we can’t keep going the way we’re headed, not without running civilization off of a cliff and sacrificing the lives of millions of innocent people…so the greedy can scoop up what remains from the dust and ash.

Um, further along in this edition of TAE I encountered this this little tidbit of news, just to complete your day…

Signs Of The Apocalypse: The Return Of The Layoff

Layoffs in unrelated industries, even when close together in time, are just that: unrelated. That is until they begin to grow rapidly in number.

Three of America's largest firms announced firings or signaled them during the last week. Wal-Mart cut the deepest, which is frightening because it is the most financially healthy company in the world. In a surprise announcement, the world's largest retailer said it would cut 10% of its Sam's Club division, which means nearly 12,000 workers will get axed. The news cannot be good for the staggering retail sector. Christmas was weak, but Wall St. assumed that Wal-Mart was doing as well as if not better than its smaller competitors.

The Wal-Mart move will give other retail firms "permission" to take fresh looks at their staff levels without the stigma of announcing firings ahead of other large store chains. Xerox also unexpectedly said it would cut 2,500 people. It did so at the same time as it posted good earnings. That means Xerox believes that it can still wring more productivity from the people it will continue to use. The tech sector is still on a bumpy ride while consumers and IT managers try to decide if they can afford to upgrade to new equipment. The beginning of 2010 could cause a fresh round of reviews of how much blood can be squeezed from the employment pool stone. Large firms that made layoffs last year can now look at four quarters of what those layoffs have done to them or for them financially. If cuts worked once, they might work again.

Oracle is close to closing its deal to buy Sun Micro. Sun's remarkable history of large layoffs is an example of what happens to a company when its products lose most of their relevance and R&D efforts cannot bring the firm back into alignment with customers demands. Sun will now become one of the many divisions of Oracle and that almost certainly means that many management and sales people will be gone by the end of the quarter.

The early part of 2009 was marked by an unprecedented number of large cuts as America's most well-known companies. In some weeks over 100,000 American were put out of work by "downsizings" at these firms. That process has slowed a year later, but there is a growing body of evidence that it is not going away.

The most critical difference between last year and this is that 10% of Americans, 17% by some measures, are without jobs. The economy has not started to add new jobs yet. Each person that a Wal-Mart, Xerox, or Oracle lets go now is put into jobless pool with a record low number of openings for each job seeker. That means there is no Dutch Boy at the dike to prevent the ongoing effects that unemployment has on housing, credit, and the government's ability to improve income to the IRS.

The employment mess, a tragedy beyond description, is still going on.

I’ll stop this bad boy ‘short’ tonight, I’ve already chewed on your ears enough for one session,

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

False Alarm

Greetings good citizen,

Like most MSM articles tonight’s offering should be consumed with that familiar little ditty, ‘Listen to the bull shit fly!’ Running through your head.

The original article has scrolled off the list so you’ll just have to take my (less than credible) word for it that consumer confidence is up…because they say it is! That’s all the ‘proof’ you’re given.

Just read the following article and note that the most prevalent sentiment expressed is ‘worried’…um, I dunno about you but the last time I checked ‘worried’ wasn’t synonymous with ‘confident’.

But don’t let this little ‘definition problem’ concern you, good citizen, Wall Street proceeded to use this (mis-information) as an opportunity to make the already rich, richer! (Although the markets haven’t closed yet so I may have to amend this later.)

It is now ten minutes before the end of trading and the markets have indeed made a liar out of me. At ten minutes to 4:00 the Dow is minus a single point, down 80 points from today’s high, the S&P is down 3 points and the Nasdaq is down 4. I’ll hold off and check back after the market closes for the ‘final’ number. As we’ve seen before, a lot can happen in the final five minutes.

Okay, that didn’t take long now did it? The S&P closed at minus 3 points and the Dow closed at minus 2.5 points and the Nasdaq closed at minus 7 points! Or three points lower than it was just ten minutes ago!

Left to our imagination is ‘why’? Today was looking like a ‘carbon copy’ of yesterday, when the markets ‘snapped’ a 3 day losing streak. The rest of the world bled from the eye-sockets for most of the day, with Asian markets closing in negative territory. Did the spin doctors on Wall Street decide to fall back because the only ‘positive news’ today was fairly negative?

As we can observe from the end of tonight’s offering, DuPont is up and so is Traveler’s Insurance…but they aren’t ‘the whole economy’ by any stretch of the imagination. Good performance by two companies is not ‘proof’ of an economic recovery regardless of how optimistic Wall Street cheerleaders are.

[/rant off]

Let us proceed with tonight’s offering.

New Report Gives Wall Street a Bit of Confidence

Published: January 26, 2010

Wall Street received a shot of confidence on Tuesday. [and still closed in negative territory!]

Shares reversed an early slide on Tuesday, after an increase in consumer confidence lifted hopes for an economic rebound.

The Conference Board said that its index of consumer confidence rose to 55.9 in January from 53.6 in December. It is the third consecutive increase and the highest level in more than a year. [Which means what, exactly?]

In afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was 74.29 points, or 0.72 percent, higher. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was 5.14 points higher, and the Nasdaq up 13.16 points or 0.60 percent. [Hmmn, the 80 I cite earlier was hit prior to noon time, although the markets did start off in negative territory at the outset.]

Once again, the speed of the economic recovery was an issue. The latest reports showed Britain emerging from recession at a snail’s pace and investors worried about Japan’s debt load and further lending curbs in China. The step in China was aimed at keeping that country’s economy from overheating but investors are concerned it could destabilize a global recovery. [If China’s reported activity isn’t completely fictional, ALL of their customers are ‘on their ass’ (meaning they have no money.) Restocking Western retail establishments accomplishes what, precisely? What good is ‘window dressing’ or ‘going through the motions’?]

In the United States, a closely watched index showed that home prices rose nationally for the sixth consecutive month in November. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index inched up 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted reading of 145.49. [So what do the ‘fucking liars’ make of the lowest level of home sales registered in over 40 years last month? Was this due to prices being too high?]

European shares were mixed after Asian markets declined. In London, the FTSE 100 index was flat, while the DAX in Frankfurt gained 35.92 points, or 0.61 percent. The CAC-40 in Paris was 13.96 points, or 0.37 percent, lower. [What they aren’t telling you here is the European indexes spent most of the day in negative territory and didn’t swing over to the positive side until after US markets posted gains…]

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average retreated 187.41 points, or 1.8 percent, to 10,325.28. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng sank 489.22 points, or 2.4 percent, to 20,109.33 and Taiwan’s index plunged 3.5 percent.

Concerns about the recovery started in China after reports that China’s banks have had their reserve requirements increased again. Following those reports, the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 75.02 points, or 2.4 percent, to 3,019.39, its lowest since late October.

“Talk that China may accelerate the pace of monetary tightening shook the markets,” said Jane Foley, research director at

Investors are particularly worried about policy changes in China as the country’s growth helped limit the impact of the global recession over the last year — figures last week showed that China’s economy grew an eye-catching 10.7 percent in the final three months of the year from the year before. [Sadly, Chinese ‘economic statistics’ are less reliable than those coming out of the US…and that’s saying something!]

The worry is that tighter monetary policy in China to check inflationary pressures could kill off the nascent economic recovery around the world.

And the economic data around the world suggests that the recovery is not on a sure footing. [Why do you suppose they are admitting that all of a sudden?]

Figures Tuesday showed that Britain emerged from recession in the last three months of 2009 — after six consecutive quarters of falling output — but only at a quarterly rate of 0.1 percent as the services sector barely grew. That was way less than the 0.4 percent consensus in the markets. [Left unsaid here is what the ‘margin of error’ is for this statistic. Normally they are doing quite well to keep it down to a single percent, but that’s rare, extremely rare given all of the goofballs and special interests that all have their fingers in the pie…]

The weak growth rate hit the pound hard, pushing it down a whole cent following the data’s release to $1.6112, even though the figures raised eyebrows in the markets.

Earnings reports so far this month have mostly failed to push the market higher, even though companies are regularly topping analysts’ expectations. Analysts say investors now want to see more than earnings beating expectations. They want to see revenue growth and strong outlooks for future quarters to reinforce beliefs that the economy is rebounding. [Understand that a company ‘beating expectations’ means it is merely ‘treading water’, if they aren’t experiencing sales growth, all they’re doing is containing costs. So it’s only a matter of time until ‘expectations’ get so low that the enterprises suppliers find themselves incapable of keeping their doors open. Um, if you are unable to locate reliable sources for your inputs, you will no longer be able to produce your product…it takes ALL of the parts to get the job done.]

Tuesday’s results have lessened the blow from overseas concerns. Earnings from some major companies, including the insurance company, Travelers; the chemical company DuPont and the electronics giant Apple have provided some hope that the economy is strengthening.

Apple reported record profit after the market closed Monday thanks to a sharp increase in iPhone sales globally.

Travelers generated sharply higher revenue and profit during the fourth quarter, easily beating expectations.

Growing global sales and lower raw material costs help DuPont return to profitability. The company also bolstered its 2010 earnings guidance.

Um, I addressed the significance of these two ‘aberrations’ earlier in the opening. This variety of ‘journalistic insincerity’ does the MSM no favors.

No irony should be lost on the fact that this story, intended to provide ‘cover’ for the US markets while exchanges elsewhere on the planet bled to death, ultimately amounted to nothing more than a feeble breathe of fetid air.

This article was posted to provide cover for a rally that didn’t happen, which isn’t entirely true. The markets started off in negative territory, shot up to positive 80, then in the final minutes of trading, plunged below the waves to end the session in barely negative territory.

Not that it particularly matters in the overall scheme of things.

Today’s markets prove that they could, if they thought they could get away with it, drive the Dow to thirty thousand points. And they just might do it one of these fine days; if only to be able to say they did it…and what a laugh it was driving it up so high!

This is perhaps one of the most disturbing aspects of our times. Society is no longer being managed for the benefit of all, it is being driven of a cliff for the benefit of the few.

Equally as disturbing is the fact that the ‘responsible parties’ are hiding in plain sight. Sure most are fronts and proxies for the ‘real’ perps but these are in fact the people we elected to prevent this sort of shit from happening!

If we fail to punish these ‘sock puppets’ we have no hope of bringing the true responsible parties to justice.

If there is a ‘job one’ good citizen, this is it.

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


Monday, January 25, 2010

Predator Problems

Greetings good citizen,

It’s that day of the week again, that time when those who have someplace to call ‘home’ report there to do what they are paid to do.

How ‘blessed’ is Wall Street? On a day when every other market around the world is bleeding from the eye-sockets, Wall Street snapped a 3-day losing streak, narrowly, but they managed it. Although there isn’t a good reason why…but when you’re ‘plugged in’ to the nation’s treasury, you can pretty much engineer any outcome you want.

Which brings me to another topic I have yet to mention as I waited to see there would be any, er, ‘reaction’ to the recent Supreme Court decision to uphold ‘personhood’ for a legal construct... If ‘real people’ are pissed, they are keeping it to themselves…or the media isn’t reporting it, which is the same difference…

In essence good citizen, the lapdogs of our corporate overlords have just cleared the way for ‘one dollar = one vote’, the political contests of the future will be restricted to those who can raise the enormous sums it will take to get on the ballot.

Um, I think we have all seen how well that worked out in the last election, where Wall Street was able to put their guy in the White House without any serious opposition.

In fact, the last election ushered in a new ‘twist’ in electoral politics, the two-year campaign. In a few short months we will see whom the Republican’s are going to run to ‘block’ a second Obama term.

Don’t get me wrong, Palin hasn’t disappeared…she just hasn’t managed to ‘energize’ the base enough to make herself a viable candidate.

There are other issues standing in the way of a Palin candidacy but that’s not for me to say.

Um, considering this ‘new’ hurdle in campaign finance, which effectively closes the door to all but the best-capitalized ‘third parties’. There won’t be what this nation is now begging for and that is a viable alternative to the repulsive Republicans or the traitorous Democrats, two sides of the same ‘corporate coin’.

The ‘little guy’ doesn’t have the kind of money it will take to successfully challenge either of the ‘mainstream’ political parties, ensuring any viable third party candidacy will be, er, ‘in the pocket’ of the status quo.

It is my opinion that the ‘ballot box’ (has been and) is now officially ‘broken’. In this respect, I view the recent Supreme Court decision as a boon because it ‘forces the issue’. It is one thing to suspect the deck is rigged and quite another to know it for sure.

It is no longer one individual = one vote, that whole game has changed.

You may have thought earlier campaigns were ‘tough’ on candidates, the new rules will eliminate anyone with a shred of decency who doesn’t enjoy a past that has been locked in the kind of ‘airtight’ container that only the very rich can afford.

You’re average schmuck doesn’t stand a chance, the (bought & paid for corporate) media will skin any normal person alive…not that any recent presidential candidate is anywhere in the ballpark of ‘normal’…a worrisome development all by itself.

And naturally, we are miles away from the topic of tonight’s offering an ‘excerpt’ of a piece by Henry C.K. Liu posted in today’s Asia Times.

Stiglitz pinpoints ‘moral core’ of crisis
By Henry CK Liu
[Basically the top of page 2]
"The foreign private fund flows that preceded the 1997 financial crises went to private entities in Asia and not just to sovereign borrowers as in the 1980s. Commercial bank loans in the 1990s, measured as a percentage of total foreign fund flows, were substantially less important than they were in the 1980s. Instead, fund flows to Asia ranged from foreign direct investment (FDI) to portfolio equity investment (meaning less than 10% ownership), corporate and sovereign bonds as well as structured notes, repurchase agreements, on top of traditional bank loans to public and private borrowers. This more-diversified flow of funds generated a different distribution of risks towards global institutional investors, mainly pension funds in the advanced capital and debt markets. Stocks and bonds investments in Asia shifted market risk and credit risk to foreign institution investors who bore the risk of changes in interest rates, securities prices and exchange rates.

"FDI in physical capital and real estate similarly shifted market risk and credit risk to foreign institutional investors. Even dollar denominated bonds issued by Asian governments shifted interest rate risk, as well as credit risk, to foreign institution investors. Socialized finance in the rich economies, what the Wall Street Journal fondly referred to as mass capitalism, was called on to finance old-fashioned compradore capitalism in the NIEs. The effect was to expose the NIEs to the risk of changes in US interest rates or the exchange value of the dollar, not as economic fundamentals, but as technical trends perceived by the herd instincts of fund managers in the advanced markets. Thus the neo-liberal focus on the need to resolve the national banks' domestic non-performing loans (NPL) as a prerequisite for generating growth is, to say the least, misplaced. The NPL problem in Asia is a fiction invented by the Bank of International Settlement to prepare national private banks as ripe targets for predatory acquisition by Western large, complex banking organizations."

Today, in 2010, as predatory capitalism hits its own home base, it is possible that a new world economic order will soon emerge from people power. [It’s possible but it’s not likely.] Unfortunately, all governments are still fixated on "recovery" schemes concocted to turn the crisis back to the very same flawed system of moral depravity that had led the world to its present disastrous state. [Strangely, it is indeed happening but there is no mention of this in the MSM, which proves little. There are many things the MSM would keep us ignorant of.]

Much of the talk now among establishment economists has been focused on technical debate on the government stimulus packages being too small to kick-start the seriously impaired economies around the world. When the problem has been that good public money has been targeted for bailing out undeserving private institutions to enable them to again play the same immoral game of recklessly speculation through "carry trade". Risking the people's money for unproductive, obscene private profit, while leaving a dispirited population unemployed and underemployed, with families with young children facing homelessness. [Um, yeah…and you don’t need me to tell you that these people suck, do you?]

If only a fraction of the people's money is spend directly on the people themselves, the world will emerge with a new economic order of moral justice instead of deprivation. [Again, the ‘root’ of the problem is corruption and we need justice to fix that. There is very little possibility of a just economy springing forth from a corrupt banking system. Ain’t gonna happen.]

Ron Paul, the Republican congressman from Texas, told Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke in a hearing that the Federal Reserve is a "predatory lender". But he did not mention that by law, predatory lenders forfeit any right of collection. [Which once again proves we already have all of the ‘tools’ we need to straighten out the economy, the problem lies with the criminals who fail to prosecute their ‘brethren’ for fear of being prosecuted themselves.]

In the United States, although predatory lending is not defined by federal law [And who thinks this is an ‘accident’?], and various states define abusive lending differently, it usually involves practices that strip equity away from a homeowner, or equity from a company, or condemn the debtor into perpetual indenture. [Most of us are so deep in the hole that we don’t remember seeing the top…]

Predatory or abusive lending practices can include making a loan to a borrower without regard to the borrower's ability to repay, repeatedly refinancing a loan within a short period of time and charging high points and fees with each refinance, charging excessive rates and fees to a borrower who qualifies for lower rates and/or fees offered by the lender, or imposing new unjustifiably harsh terms for rolling over existing debt.

Predation breaks the links between an economy's aggregate resource endowment and aggregate consumption and between the interpersonal distribution of endowments and the interpersonal distribution of consumption.

The choice by some to be predators decreases aggregate consumption, both because the predators' resources are wasted and because producers sacrifice production by allocating resources to guarding against predators. Much of welfare economics is based on the concept of pareto optimum, which asserts that resources are optimally distributed when an individual cannot move into a better position without putting someone else into a worse position. In an unjust global society, the pareto optimum will perpetuate injustice.

Why isn't the legal concept of lender liability applied to stop foreclosure of homes with young children? In the US, lender liability is embodied in common and statutory law covering a broad spectrum of claims surrounding predatory lending. If a lender knowingly lends to a borrower who is obviously unable to make reasonable beneficial gain from the use of the funds, or causes the borrower to assume responsibilities that are obviously beyond the borrower's capacity, the lender not only risks losing the loan without recourse but is also liable for the financial damage to the borrower caused by such loans. [Naturally, it’s not ‘predatory’ if you’re a Republican, the borrower should have known better.]

For example, if a bank lends to a trust client who is a minor, or someone who had no business experience, to start a risky business that resulted in the loss not only of the loan but also the client trust account, the bank may well be required by the court to make whole the client.

The argument for home mortgage debt forgiveness contains large measures of concepts of lender liability and predatory lending. Debt securitization allows predatory bankers to pass the risk to global credit markets, socializing the potential damage after skimming off the privatized profits.

The housing bubble has been created largely by predatory lending without any lender liability. The argument for forgiving defaulted home mortgage debt is applicable to low- and moderate-income home mortgage borrowers in the US as well. Progressives should push for proactive commitments from both political parties instead of empty populist moralizing.

The fact that they’ve already tossed millions out of their homes will create a huge barrier to ‘forgiving’ the loans of people who were fortunate enough to hold out longer.

In this respect, ‘forgiveness’ should be ‘universal’. Make it so nobody owns the ‘stack of lumber.’ We need to solve the ‘homeless’ problem in tandem with the unemployment crisis.

Time to shift mental gears once again good citizen as I attempt to wrap things up here.

This Supreme Court decision robs you of your vote, not that the corporate controlled hasn’t already stolen it…you’ll never have another candidate worth voting for, it simply isn’t going to happen.

Look at what they did to Dennis Kucinich in the last election…the media wouldn’t let him debate! It is the same fate anyone else will encounter if you don’t put your political future in the hands of the elite few who control this process.

We don’t need to wiggle too far to see that justice won’t be served as long as there are no consequences for ignoring/breaking the law if you’re rich and powerful enough.

Which is to say there are a bunch of people we need to see swinging in front of their corporate headquarters from their flagpole…

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bark at the Moon...

Greetings good citizen,

A mad weekend on top of a madcap week! The markets are repeating last year’s ‘swan dive’, this time wiping out trillions of dollars of taxpayer bailout funds…so what did Mr. Bernanke ‘save’, exactly?

I guess it depends on your political leaning as to whether you interpret Frank Rich’s Open letter to the President as a guide to alter the course of this administration or a trip to the political woodshed…

Me, I think it’s too late to ‘save’ anything, the quicker we accept that life as we have come to know it is gone for good, the quicker we can adjust to the, er, ‘new normal’.

Left to our imagination is just whose ‘version’ of ‘the new normal’ will be inflicted upon us?

Which brings us to tonight’s offering for a rather grim look at one possible outcome…the Big D of dictatorship.

[Hat tip: Cryptogon ]

(Note: this is merely an excerpt from the full article, for the whole thing, click on the ‘tonight’s offering’ link.)

The people no longer have elected representatives; they have elected traitors.

The enslavement of the American people has been orchestrated by a pernicious Master Class that has taken the United States by the throat. This Master Class is now choking the nation to death as it accelerates its master plan to plunder the people’s dwindling remaining assets. The Master Class comprises politicians, the Wall Street money elite, the Federal Reserve, high-end government (including military) officials, government lobbyists and their paymasters, military suppliers and media oligarchs. The interests and mindset of the Master Class are so totally divorced from those of the average American citizen that it is utterly tone deaf and blind to the justifiable rage sweeping the nation. Its guiding ethics of greed, plunder, power, control and violence are so alien to mainstream American culture and thought that the Master Class might as well be an enemy invader from Mars. But the Master Class here, it is real and it is laying waste to America. To the members of the Master Class, the people are not fellow-citizens; they are instruments of labor, servitude and profit. At first, the Master Class viewed the citizens as serfs; now that they have raped and destroyed the national economy, while in the process amassing unprecedented wealth and power for themselves, they see the people as nothing more than slaves.

America’s public finances are now so completely dysfunctional and chaotic that something far worse than debt enslavement and monetary implosion, terrible curses unto themselves, looms on the horizon: namely, a Master Class-sponsored American dictatorship. [There’s a mighty HUGE assumption at work here; that a sufficient number of men with guns can be ‘bought off’ with empty promises of payment once the ‘chain of command’ breaks down…something that is ‘co-incident’ with paychecks that either go ‘boing’ or won’t buy you a single cup of coffee.]

Throughout history, the type of situation in which America now finds itself has been a fertility factory for tyranny. The odds of an outright overthrow of the people by the Washington and Wall Street Axis, or more broadly, the Master Class are increasing dramatically. The fact that so few people believe an American dictatorship is possible is exactly why it is becoming likely. [I have repeatedly stressed the ‘helplessness’ of our situation now that the ballot box, and by extension, the media can no longer be trusted.]

Dictatorships have blighted history and ruined lives since the beginning of civilization. In recent times alone, tyrants such as Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Ceausescu, Amin, Hussein, Mussolini, Tojo, Kim, Pinochet, Milosevic, Tito, Batista, Peron, Pol Pot, Mugabe, Marcos, Somoza, Mengistu, Bokassa, Sese Seko, Franco, Ho Chi Minh, Mao, and Castro have power-sprayed blood onto the screen of time and ravaged mankind with murder, torture and human oppression. A full catalog of history’s tyrants would require a book of hundreds of pages. [That depends on who is pointing the finger…] In the past 100 years alone, over 200 million human beings have been annihilated by wars, ethnic cleansings and government assassinations. [Not only sad but true, and it is still going on today!] Just when we think that civilization has been able to rise above tyranny’s inhumanity and disgrace, a new dictator appears on the scene to start the process all over again. Every time this happens, fear and submission paralyze the vast majority of the affected masses, leading them to “follow orders” and lick autocracy’s blood-stained boots. [All it takes for evil to succeed is for honest men to do nothing; that’s where this gem of wisdom is most useful. If we fail to recognize tyranny, what else have we missed?]

History has proven to tyrants that oppression works. In fact, it is easy to control a populace, once you control the money, markets, military (including police), media and minions (the recipients of welfare, social security, free health care, government jobs and the like, who are dependent upon the state and likely to be compliant). This is exactly where the United States is today.

Recent American events paint an ominous picture of a Master Class that is now in total control.

When 90% of the American people vehemently rejected the $700,000,000,000.00 ($700 billion) TARP bailout plan, the Master Class put it on a fast track and approved it anyway. [As I have pointed out repeatedly, what were YOU going to do about it? You, who can’t even get your rep on the phone, never mind get him or her to read (much less answer) a letter/e-mail!]

When a clear majority of the American people said no to a government takeover of Chrysler and GM, the Master Class poured billions of taxpayer dollars into those corporate sinkholes and took them over anyway. [Again, what were you going to do about it? Work yourself up into a frenzy? Why? Why waste your time, it changes nothing…you have been ‘eliminated’ from the decision-making process…completely.]

When the people said no to multi-trillion dollar crony bailouts for the bankers and insurers whose corruption had caused global financial mayhem, the government pledged to those elite insiders more than $13,000,000,000,000.00 ($13 trillion) of the people’s money anyway. [Perhaps we should be asking, ‘What CAN you do?’…no irony should be lost on the fact that ‘legally’ your hands are tied, ‘voting’ gives your representative ‘carte blanche’ and there’s no way for you to revoke it! It may suck but that’s the way it was ‘designed’…and it wasn’t designed by ‘riff-raff’ like us, nor was it ‘approved’ by the ‘paycheck peasants’.]

When the people expressed astonishment and anger that Wall Street planned to pay itself record 2009 bonuses, in the midst of America’s worst-ever fiscal and financial crisis caused by them, Wall Street stuffed its pockets with taxpayer-supported bonus money anyway. [Seriously, what were you supposed to do about that? Go and burn their house down?]

When the people said no to a proposed $40,000,000,000.00 ($40 billion) bailout of AIG and its elite trading partners such as Goldman Sachs (an amount that subsequently exploded to $180,000,000,000.00+ ($180+ billion)), the Master Class went underground, covertly misappropriated taxpayer money and made the payoffs anyway. [This stank beyond belief…and Geithner was STILL appointed Treasury secretary! WTF!]

When Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were nationalized at enormous taxpayer expense, the government approved $6,000,000.00 individual pay packages in 2009 (150 times the average American wage) for the CEOs of both failed companies anyway. [And once again we see ‘household income’ being passed off as ‘average wage’, which is really $30k FOR MEN, women make considerably less (and there are more of them in the workforce!)]

When a clear majority of the people said no to nationalized health care, even after being bombarded by a multi-million dollar, lie-drenched propaganda campaign designed to bamboozle them, the House and Senate passed nationalized health care bills anyway. [Um, once again we become aware of ‘factually challenged’ conservatism at work…a ‘clear majority of US citizens FAVOR universal, single payer healthcare…but ‘goldbugs’ are ‘cuckoo’ anyway.]

When more than seven million American workers lost their jobs and were subsisting on unemployment benefits and food stamps, federal government employees, who now earn DOUBLE what private sector workers earn, were given another round of pay and benefits increases anyway. [This last is perhaps the most dangerous sign that our civilization is out of control. Civil order will collapse if these people are not ‘appeased’. (When the cops walk off the job it’s ‘goodnight Irene!’)]

When private sector workers’ 401Ks and IRA retirement plans plummeted in value due to economic collapse and endemic Wall Street-orchestrated market corruption (including systemic front running, flash trading, naked short selling and other manipulations), government “defined benefit,” lifetime-cost-of-living-adjusted pension plans, despite already being underfunded by $2,000,000,000,000.00 ($2 trillion), were made richer than ever anyway. [???]

The long, shameful litany of events signaling the total divorce between the Master Class and the people of the United States doesn’t stop there. It goes on and on. [Much of this ‘angst’ comes from the fear goldbugs have that their ‘money of choice’ will remain ‘forsaken’ by those damn ‘tax and spend’ liberals…]

The message from the American Master Class to the American people is simple and clear: We Defy You. [Which is somewhat of an overstatement, what you’re really being told is ‘What are you going to do about it?’ because they already know the answer…nothing. They got away with it once (nobody was ‘punished for the first Great Depression) and they fully expect to get away with it again…the question is ‘will they?’ We have all of the ingredients in play for a repeat of ‘The Horror’ that swept the Monarchies of the world during the French Revolution.]

Governments that openly defy the people are either already totalitarian or in the process of becoming so. Monetarily, the United States clearly functions as a totalitarian dictatorship already, with a Federal Reserve that operates in secrecy, creates limitless amounts of debt and currency at will, and showers trillions of dollars upon favored Master Class insiders with zero transparency or accountability whatsoever. The Federal Reserve is so shameless about its dictatorial powers that it flatly refuses to provide details about multi-trillion dollar bailouts and rescues of privileged elites, in open defiance of Congress and the people. The fact that they get away with these blatant acts of defiance demonstrates the true extent of the Master Class chokehold on America. [And once again we are ‘powerless’ to do a single thing about this repeated failure of what passes for our ‘justice system’.]

If the Master Class were a benign despot and if its policies and programs actually worked, that would be one thing. But that is not the case. Rather, its programs are in a complete shambles.

Perhaps the most disturbing part about this ‘rant’ is the writer, like most ‘goldbugs’ is a, er, conservative (who genuinely loathes liberals.) This comes shining through if you read the whole article, although some of it is apparent in this excerpt.

Um just a little ‘historical note’ to give you an idea how the people of this nation were ‘taken for a ride’ from the get go. The fact that the Constitution was only ‘ratified’ by the legislatures of each state, back in a time when many key political positions were appointed rather than elected.

Sort of like the UN, you know? Can you say ‘stacking the deck? Because this is the same reason why we find ourselves powerless to stop our so-called ‘elected representatives’ from selling us down the river every chance they get!

Um, if any good is to come out of our current situation it is the fact that the ‘golden trough’ is finally, if only temporarily, going to ‘dry up’.

The trick, if we’re up to it, lies in insuring that the ‘pigs’ are prevented from claiming the trough as their own once again…even if that means we have to live without pigs.

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


Friday, January 22, 2010

Going Down...

Greetings good citizen,

Wall Street (along with the rest of the world) bled red ink again today with another 200+ point downward move.

Um, in case you are unaware, this time the markets are bleeding taxpayer money, money that Wall Street ‘borrowed’ from the Fed at zero percent interest…the real killer here is what will happen if Wall Street decides it isn’t going to pay the money back?

We’re not talking TARP funds here, these are ‘regular funds’ that all, er, ‘commercial banks’ have access to via the Fed ‘discount window’.

Of course you remember that all (of the surviving) Investment banks were permitted to alter their charters to become commercial banks…well, paying back the TARP didn’t ‘revoke’ their Fed access.

If it did you’d expect investors to be a bit more careful of financial institutions that no longer enjoyed Fed backing, circumstances being what they are…

So we arrive at tonight’s offering

Wall Street Starts Another Day on Downside [And ends there as well…]

Published: January 22, 2010

Shares on Wall Street traded lower on Friday as the markets try to stop a two-day slide that has sent the Dow Jones industrial average down more than 335 points. [Not looking good, down another 213 points today too!]

The main focus remained President Obama’s plans, announced Thursday, for tighter restrictions on the activity of banks. [Oddly, as one might suspect, the proposed ‘new’ regulations will hardly touch Mr. Obama’s ‘true constituency’; and they know this so it isn’t the reason behind the huge selloff…as much as the MSM would like you to believe it was so.]

“There’s no doubt that there will be a significant amount of regulation in the banking industry in the next year,“ said Henk Potts, equity strategist at Barclays Wealth in London. “But there’s a long road to travel and lots of discussions and negotiations before we find out exactly what this will entail.” [Hmmn…um, just how concerned would a London banker be about regulation in the US?]

Financial shares were down in almost all markets, continuing Thursday’s decline. On Wall, shares of Goldman Sachs were down 4.2 percent; Morgan Stanley 4 percent; and Bank of America fell 2.4 percent. In London, Barclays lost 6 percent. UBS of Switzerland was off 5.1 percent, while Santander of Spain gave up 3 percent.

Earnings from two companies helped to offset some of those declines. The conglomerate General Electric topped expectations despite a 19 percent drop in fourth-quarter income. For the quarter, G.E. posted net income of $2.94 billion, or 28 cents per share. That compared with $3.65 billion, or 35 cents, a year earlier. [Um, this is probably what investors find ‘disturbing’, that this year’s performance continues be worse than they did last year, ‘expectations’ be damned!]

And the fast-food restaurant chain, McDonald’s said fourth-quarter profit was $1.22 billion, or $1.11 a share, up from $985.3 million, or 87 cents a share, a year earlier. The company said sales overseas had helped to offset a weakness in American sales.

At mid-morning, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 18 points, or 0.15 percent, while the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was 3.5 points lower. The technology-heavy Nasdaq fell 15 points. [This particular article was captured roughly around midday…mostly because of their tendency to ‘disappear’ around 4:00 PM.]

Markets in Europe were also lower overall. In London, the FTSE 100 was down 50 points or 1 percent, and the DAX shed 1.1 percent or 63 points in Frankfurt.

President Obama’s announcement of tighter banking rules was taken as a sign that government leaders are looking beyond the financial crisis.

“It’s clear that politicians are starting to have enough confidence that the global economy has been saved and are starting to try to find ways of paying the bills,” analysts at Deutsche Bank said Friday in a research note. “The risk is that they do this too early and the timing of this announcement is unfortunate given it coincides with the escalation of problems in peripheral Europe and in a week where China has effectively tightened policy.” [One should never expect much from an ‘analyst’, they are wrong far too often because they tend to ‘talk their book’. (Yes, analysts aren’t traders, but, they get paid by people who need research done and, like everything else in this fucked up system, you don’t want to bite the hand that feeds you.]

The comments about peripheral Europe were a reference to the budgetary problems in Greece that have rattled bond markets here.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 index, Japan’s leading market gauge, led the region’s declines with a drop of 2.56 percent. The Shanghai Composite index in mainland China fell nearly 1 percent, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong dropped 0.6 percent, with the international banks Standard Chartered and HSBC both down.

Garry Evans, global head of equity strategy at HSBC, was circumspect about the prospects for equities in Asia’s emerging nations, telling reporters in Hong Kong that it was “hard to see much room for any upside surprise” in that region, given that investors were already widely expecting — and pricing in — the fact that emerging Asia’s economies are set for solid growth this year. [Um, could this go tragically wrong? We’ll know soon enough.]

In fact, the prospect of higher rates across much of the region in coming months — in contrast to the United States and Europe, where the cost of borrowing is not expected to rise for some time — is helping to dampen investor sentiment in Asia.

HSBC’s economists believe the central banks of South Korea, India and Taiwan could all start nudging up interest rates this quarter. More rate rises are also expected in Australia.

Most economists do not expect a rate rise in China until the second half of the year, though the authorities have already started to rein in investment activity in a bid to quell rising prices, helping to send stocks lower this week.

Concerns are also mounting that China’s economic rebound comes with pitfalls and complexities, notably rising prices, that will be tricky for the authorities to manage.

Odd that the markets ‘tank’ in tandem with ‘tough talk’ out of the White House, yet analysis of the proposed new regulations show them to be largely toothless, at least as far as the ‘Too Big To Fail’ crowd is concerned.

It certainly has been quite the ‘theatrical production’ since the beginning of the year. The Democrats getting spanked, the Rethuglicans all excited about the hint of blood in the water.

Mr. Obama’s popularity rating heading in the same direction of the Presidency of the man he’s emulating…(it truly is looking like Bush’s third term!)

Funny how some pundits are calling the ‘Tea party Movement’ the foundation of a badly needed ‘third party’…when it’s actually the fifth or sixth party…

Which is bizarre how every newcomer claims the ‘third’ slot.

There’s isn’t a third party good citizen…truth be told there aren’t tow political camps anymore, there is only one and it is neither Democrat or Republican, it is corporate, even if they shy away from that label after yesterday’s Supreme court ruling…

If you have enough money, you can get whatever outcome you want. Which is exactly why governments are instituted by the citizens of a nation, to prevent their rights from being ‘hijacked’ by the ‘owners of money’.

Sadly, that’s not the way our bought and paid for ‘activist judges’ see it.

Thanks for letting me inside your head,