Thursday, September 30, 2010
Jennifer Lopez was recently signed on to be an American Idol judge and she will make $12 million. Jennifer originally asked for $15 million/yr and a guaranteed movie but backed away from those demands when Idol said 'No'.
Now, if Lopez' salary was broken down into a standard 52 week, 40 hours per week pay schedule, she would earn $230,769/wk. or $5,769/hr.
* A person making $50k/yr for 40 years will earn $2million or 1/6th Lopez' Idol salary)
* A person making $12/hr [$24.960/yr] & working 40 years will make $998,400, or less than 1/12th Lopez' Idol salary
* A person making $7.25/hr min. wage will make $15,080 in a full year. Lopez will need less than three hours.
~ So, let's have some fun.. what are some other things that $12million can buy?
* 9 homes in Beverly Hills (Housing Median price in Beverly Hills- $1,323,721)
* 150 Fully Loaded 2011 Mercedes E550 Sedans @ $75k each
* 389 Fully Loaded 2011 Nissan Altima Sedans @ $30,800 each
* Full year of groceries for 839 people based on spending $14,300/yr per person ($275/wk)
* 4000 Plasma 60" 1080p 3D HDTVs @ $3k each.
* 15,000 Notebook PCs- 17" screen, Blu-Ray capable @ $800 each
* A year of free cell phone usage for 20,000 people based on $50/mo plan
* 40,000 Sony Playstation 3 game systems @ $300 each
~ you get one demanding Diva- J-Lo
Wall Street Wraps Up Best September in 7 Decades, Investors Look Ahead to Q4- "The Dow Jones industrial average is up 8 percent for the month, making it the best September performance for the index since 1939."- AP
US Economy Better Than You Think- "Three key data points released Thursday show the economy has been faring better than expected- 1. Initialjobless claim benefits fell more than economists had predicted last week. 2. Second quarter GDP was revised up to 1.7% from the initial report of 1.6%. .3. The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, a regional read on manufacturing grew, when it was expected to fall. "- Yahoo Tech Ticker
OR.. Is the Economy Weak...
Meredith Whitney Says States May Need Federal Bailout In Next 12 Months- "While saying a bailout might not be politically viable, (banking analyst) Whitney joined investor Warren Buffett in raising alarm bells about the potential for widespread defaults in the $2.8 trillion municipal bond market. She said state and local issuers have taken on too much debt and that the gap between public spending and revenue is unsustainable."- Bloomberg
Economy Expanded At 1.7% rate in Second Quarter- "The U.S. economy grew at a 1.7 percent annual rate in the second quarter, marking the start of a slowdown in growth that has concerned the Federal Reserve... The world's largest economy grew 3.7 percent in the first three months of the year and 5 percent at the end of 2009. Economists surveyed this month projected little pickup in growth for the rest of the year as a jobless rate hovering close to 10 percent hobbles consumer spending and housing languishes around record lows" - Washington Post
McDonald's Says It May Drop Health Plan- "McDonald's Corp. has warned federal regulators that it could drop its health insurance plan for nearly 30,000 hourly restaurant workers unless regulators waive a new requirement of the U.S. health overhaul"- WSJ
When Foreclosure is a Good Option- "In some counties of the hardest hit markets such as South Florida and California, the foreclosure process can take years while homeowners live in limbo both emotionally and financially"- US News & World Report
10 Cities With the Worst Debt- "With an average debt per person of $26,636, Denver ranks as the most indebted city in America, according to data collected by Experian. (That number excludes mortgages.) The sunny weather and numerous urban walking trails don’t stop residents from racking up an average credit card balance of $6,211."- US News & World Report
There are some people who Need to invest in the markets, and by 'Need' I mean they MUST put their money in something- stocks, bonds, treasuries, gold, silver, oil, orange juice.. Anything! They MUST make a profit- MUST make their money work for them... And to those people out there in internet-land, I can only say in total honesty, there's something deeply wrong with you.
Nonetheless, I don't want to see money junkies necessarily lose their lifetime of savings, so I thought we'd play a little game. I will post some photos of famous people. Some are genuine celebrities- some are pseudo-celebs. Put aside any preconceived notions, positive or negative, and pretend these people were never famous- just focus on their faces, body language and non-verbal clues and ask yourself- which of the two people would you buy a used car with limited warranty from?
NYPD Blue's Dennis Franz_______________________________________________________________
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
(Video: 1970 Salem Cigarettes commercial)
Most experts believe the beginning of the fall of the standard of living for the middle class began in 1971 when Nixon took the nation off the gold standard due to the inability of the Treasury to keep funding the Vietnam war. At that time it was commonplace for one breadwinner to be able to support a family of four by working one 40hr week job. For the vast majority of people, that is no longer the case. So let's hop into the good ole' time machine-- back to 1970, when everything was 'groovy' and 'far out'...
Life expectancy: 70.8 years
Federal spending: $195.65 billion
Federal debt: $380.9 billion
Ave. Cost of a new home: $26,600.00
Ave. Cost of a new car: $ 3,900
Median Household Income: $8,734.00
Cost of a first-class stamp: $0.06
Cost of a gallon of regular gas: $0.36
Cost of a dozen eggs: $0.62
Cost of a gallon of Milk: $1.15
Miracle Whip $1.09
14 cu foot Fridge Freezer Westinghouse $288
Olympia adding machine (basic calculator) $79.95
Tape Cassette recorder $29.88
RCA 23 Inch Color Television $368.88
Car 8 Track Stereo Tape Player $38.99
CB Radio $147.00
Bunk Beds $99.00
Grandfather Clock $198.99
Ortho Firm Mattress and Box Springs $69.50
Recliner Chair $77.00
King Size Bean Bag Chair $19.99
Porcelain Kitchen Sink $9.88
Quartz Alarm Clock $12.97
Juice Blender $11.88
Posted by Susquehanna at Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Gold Up; Dollar Down,
Means less purchasing power,
Better learn to save.
Stores won't hire- people won't spend
Hope the stores blink first.
Recession rips marriage;
Causes tension, fights and stress
Gee, AP News- duh!
Lohan in rehab;
Going to try once more time
To snooker a judge.
Eighteen game schedule
NFL making it so...
After future lockout.
Photo: Aziz Ansari from NBC's "Parks & Recreation"
According to the American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau, the Asian Indian population in the United States in 2007 was 2,570,000 people.. this represents less than 1% of the total US population of 300+ million people.. yet currently on the 2010-11 Fall TV schedule, eight shows have at least one Asian Indian in the cast:
The Office- NBC
Parks & Recreation - NBC
Covert Affairs- USA
Detroit 1-8-7 ABC
Rules of Engagement- CBS
The Big Bang Theory- CBS
The Good Wife- CBS
Why is such a small demographic group represented so much on American TV?
1) "Indians along with other Asians, have one of the highest educational qualifications of all ethnic groups in the US... Almost 40% of all Indians in the United States have a master’s, doctorate or other professional degree, which is five times the national average" -Wikipedia
2) According to the 2000 U.S. Census, Indian American men had "the highest year-round, full-time median earnings ($51,094)", while Indian American women had a medium income of $35,173... Indian Americans own 50% of all economy lodges and 35% of all hotels in the United States, which have a combined market value of almost $40 billion. In 2002, there were over 223,000 Asian Indian-owned firms in the U.S., employing more than 610,000 workers, and generating more than $88 billion in revenue" -Wikipedia
In summary- it makes economic sense. Because Indian Americans generally have higher paying and secure jobs, it means they also have more discretionary income to spend than other ethnic and racial groups-- and that makes for happy advertisers and happy TV networks.
Recently, Jenny McCarthy appeared on Oprah to talk about her breakup with Jim Carrey, because you know, we all need to know this. She's appeared on Oprah quite a bit- and sensible people would ask themselves why? How is it someone who became famous showing her breasts and vagina numerous times in Playboy suddenly have the honor of being a frequent guest on Oprah?
Was it the numerous pseudoscientific ideas on autism she's espoused including that her autistic son benefited from chelation therapy (administration of chelating agents to remove heavy metals from the body) and belief that mercury in vaccines cause autism, which has been roundly rejected by scientific studies including the National Institute of Mental Health?
Was the attraction of having McCarthy as a repeated guest based on her parlaying this misinformation into many best selling books, helping to transform McCarthy in the eyes of others from gutteral trash to an 'expert' and someone worthy of respect (there is no such thing as reinventing oneself- its called re-packing the 'brand')
Or maybe the frequent visits have to do with Oprah's production company Harpo financially committed to launching a Jenny McCarthy talk show by 2011 and McCarthy currently writes a blog exclusively found on Oprah.com? Thus it is in Oprah's interest to get McCarthy on her show as much as possible to synergize the brands so when the show debuts, people will connect one with the other, like with Dr. Phil and help make both a lot of money?
Nothing in business and media is accidental. Not information you read in the news.. not the guests you see appear on talk shows.. everything serves a corporate business purpose to synergize and help both brands grow. Oprah, through her production company can expand her base and add programming content to her O network, which she can syndicate to other networks. And with Oprah's backing, McCarthy will have riches, fame and a daily platform to espouse her kooky views.. the perfect Trifecta for all classless narcissists.
Monday, September 27, 2010
* No, today's Imbecilic quote isn't from That 'Mr Bean'.. its from another one.. from across the pond..cheery England.. from Bank of England deputy governor Charles Bean --
"Savers shouldn't necessarily expect to be able to live just off their income in times when interest rates are low. It may make sense for them to eat into their capital a bit."
source: "Savers told to stop moaning and start spending"- Telegraph.UK
With the need to tighten wallets becoming increasingly necessary in this continuing recession, the temptation is to deny oneself every happiness and joy regardless of expense because of instant gratification. A&G doesn't accept the 'either/or' notion that one either can spend frivolously like there's no tomorrow on impulse buys or put every penny not spent on essentials into a bank or lockbox to never touch. Neither option is very practical or realistic.
To achieve a balance, a person must learn a very essential skill for economic survival... comparison shopping. And to understand comparison shopping, means you must understand some undeniable truths:
1) You're likely to spend more for an item at a physical store vs buying online, even when adding shipping
2) Sales tax adds up- physical stores and some online retailers charge it; other online retailers do not
3) To modify the old adage of 'the early bird gets the worm'- the patient bird gets the worm for less.
To be a skillful comparison shopper means to avoid the impulse of buying something and dropping into your shopping cart the moment you spot something. It means to check other stores and sites via internet and to figure what is the best price when including shipping charges and possible sales taxes.
It means to do something most people refuse to do- temporarily deny themselves the things they want or feel they 'deserve' to have
I want to use a real example- Let us say you wanted to own Tim Burton's "Alice In Wonderland" starring Johnny Depp and you wanted the 3 disc Combo Pack with Blu-Ray, regular DVD and digital copy. Now, say you're at a physical store in your area and you see it for $34.99- is that really the best price? Let's find out. (For this example, the sales tax will be 6%)
Options: (all internet pricing is real- links provided)
A- Physical Store- $34.99 + $2.10 tax = $37.09
~ This option you have in your hand immediately.. no wait
B- Barnes & Noble.com- $40.49 + $2.43 tax = $42.92
~ Ok.. option B would be a terrible option even with free shipping- you're paying about $6 more and have to wait for it to be delivered- let's continue...
C- Best Buy.com- $34.99 + $2.10 tax + $3 s/h = $40.09
~ This option is just as poor.. you'd be paying more because of shipping and if you went to their physical store, it would cost exactly the same as the physical store used in option A.. continuing...
D- Overstock.com $30.49 + $1.83 tax = $31.32
~ Ah, the first lower-price option. Overstock currently offers free shipping for first order so based on the Option A price of $37.09 to buy at the store, you would be saving $6.23 .. But can we find any better?
E- Amazon.com $26.99
~ Amazon does not charge sales tax and offers free shipping for total purchases over $25. So that means $26.99 is the final price for the brand-new Combo pack, a savings of $10.10 vs the impulse purchase of your local store.
One last thing.. let's say you wanted this Combo pack but it really didn't matter that it was new and unopened since it was for yourself, and not as a gift. Amazon offers opportunity to buy the items they sell used when possible through third-party sellers. The quality is usually just as good and if not will specify when you read description.
Currently, the lowest used price for the Combo pack is $13.28 and you have to add $2.98 s/h, which makes the total price $16.26 .. If that was purchased vs Option A, your total savings would be $20.83!!
This was a good example to demonstrate because when you hunt for the best prices, you're not always going to find the best deal online and sometimes when you add shipping costs, it will make the purchase online higher. But with due diligence, there are deals to be found for the things you wish to buy if you know where to look.
I can not say it any plainer- the difference between and ant and a grasshopper in the modern sense, is the ability and desire to comparison shop.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
There is an old joke about a man going up to a woman and asking if she'd have sex with him for a million dollars, to which she replies 'Yes'. Then the man says will you have sex for $10, to which the woman is shocked and says 'what kind of person do you think I am'? The man replies "I know who you are.. we're just negotiating price"
$2000- How much a female porn star makes for a day of shooting videos
$3000 - How much an actress makes for a day of shooting a TV commercial
So the moral of the story is that both are whores for money.. one sells sex, the other sells products.. but one gets paid a little better than the other.
Just a thought...
~ Video: James Dean's first acting appearance- 1950 Pepsi Commercial (he's on far right)
I didn't want my last posting to appear I had a bias for or against Coca Cola.. so here's the more well known products which are made/distributed by Pepsi cola excluding all obvious brands like Cherry Pepsi, Diet Pepsi,etc:
Gatorade- direct competitor to Powerade
Sierra Mist- direct competitor to Sprite
Tropicana brands - direct competitor to Minute Maid
AMP energy drink
Mug root beer- direct competitor to A&W and Barq
Aquafina mineral water- direct competitor to Dasani
Frappuccino iced coffees
Lay's Brand foods:
Rold Gold pretzels
Quaker Chewy granola bars
Full list: http://www.pepsico.com/Brands.html
As I've said before, you may go to the supermarket and see 40 products for a particular item like soda or cookies.. but in all likelihood, its made and distributed by 2 or 3 companies.
There are times when we all say at one time or another 'I am never buying a product from X company again". This self-declared 'boycott' which very often is temporary and fleeting in consumers, can be based on anything from the price of a product or service going up to geopolitical and environmental factors. Whether one does choose to avoid giving a company one's hard earned money, this point must be stated and restated- large corporations make and manufacture more products than one can imagine.
Sometimes a person thinks he/she is buying a competitor's product and its really still owned by the company he/she is boycotting. It is because of such product diversity that companies are immune from feeling any financial affects of boycotts unless well organized and publicized.
Today's example is Coca Cola. I am not suggesting or advocating boycott them, but if for whatever reason, the reader has their own personal grudges and felt inclined to boycott, understand you'll need to be avoiding far more beverages than simply Coke and Diet Coke.
From the Coca Cola website: "With a portfolio of more than 3,300 beverages, from diet and regular sparkling beverages to still beverages such as 100 percent fruit juices and fruit drinks, waters, sports and energy drinks, teas and coffees, and milk-and soy-based beverages, our variety spans the globe."
I will not list all 3,300 products obviously.. but here is a list of well known beverages that most may not know Coca Cola makes/distributes (This list skips obvious drinks like Cherry Coke, Coke Zero...)
A&W root beer
Barq's root beer
Canada Dry ginger ale & seltzer
Crush orange soda
Dannon (spring water & yogurt)
Dasani mineral water
Fresca (yes, they still make this)
Fuze- Healthy Infusions
Godiva Belgian Blends ice coffee
Minute Maid (orange & other juices)
Nestea Iced Teas
Powerade sports drinks
Schweppes ginger ale & seltzer
Seagrams alcohol beverages
'Simply' - juices
The list is far more detailed but these brands would be most recognizable to American consumers. Its important to know who makes what at the very least because it makes us more informed consumers.
Full list: http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/brands/product_list_a.html
Saturday, September 25, 2010
This video is from early 2009 and gets pretty technical at times when Cramer discusses hedge funds and uses specific finance terminology. When you get beyond that, especially towards the end of the video, it is clear to follow how Cramer and people like him manipulate the stock market to their benefit, and the average investor has no clue.
Posted by Susquehanna at Saturday, September 25, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
This point has been made before here and will continue to be repeated.. there are Two Americas, not one. There is the America of the top 2% and then there's the bottom 98%
Headlines for Top 2%
"Wall St Rallies- Sees 4th Straight Week of Gains"- Reuters
"Citigroup Gives Payhikes to top 25 Execs in Stock" - AP
"Why Jack Welsh Is Wrong About Obama- Many large companies benefitted -- and continue to -- from policies forged in the crisis by the Bush and Obama administrations."- Yahoo FinanceHeadlines for Bottom 98%
"Election Bounce Anticipated For US Health Insurer Stocks- Health insurer stocks are poised to rise on Republican gains in November's U.S. congressional election "- CNBC
"Election Bounce Anticipated For US Health Insurer Stocks- Health insurer stocks are poised to rise on Republican gains in November's U.S. congressional election "- CNBC
"Housing: Stuck & Staying Stuck- Existing home sales rose 7.6% in August, bouncing off a record low. Separately, jobless claims jumped by 12,000 to 465,000 last week in yet another reminder of labor weakness." - WSJ
"'Consumers Are Paralyzed' Over Tax Doubt- The odds are getting slim that Congress will pass a major tax bill before the November elections—leaving taxpayers and financial advisers unsure of how to plan for the future."- WSJ
"In Europe, A Mood of Austerity & Anxiety"- NY Times (Ironic that the market went up 200pts today in part on Europe looking supposedly 'strong')
"Blockbuster Seeks Chapter 11 Protection"- Washington Post
"Recession Hurt More Than Half Of Americans, Pew Survey Finds" - Bloomberg
There are two American.. there is the America of Warren Buffett, Donald Trump, Jim Cramer, Suze Orman and other such evil.. And then there's the America you and I live in...
I was checking the various finance websites todayand saw a commercial for an online stock trading company endorsed by Suze Orman. She has a net worth of at least $50million, writes many get-rich-quick books, appears on Oprah, Larry King, CNBC, etc.. and now this..
Just thinking to myself- Doesn't Suze Orman realize that when she passes away one day, this egocentric woman with an over-inflated sense of herself, can not take her wealth with her? Does that reality not ever dawn on her? And what was her life really about anyways? Making money by selling others hopes and dreams of riches?
Just a thought...
Thursday, September 23, 2010
(Photo Caption: 'We're all hungry, cutthroat, young entrepreneurs- looking prim and proper but will do whatever is necessary to get ahead in the world.. don't you wish you were Us?')
Below are snippets of an AP article reporting on the Small Business bill which was recently passed by Congress. I felt this was a good news story to interject commentary and analysis on. All quotations are from the AP article.
"Congress to send small business bill to Obama"
"WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Democratic-controlled Congress on Thursday sent President Barack Obama a long-delayed bill to help struggling small businesses with easier credit and other incentives to expand and hire new workers. The Senate passed the measure last week. The 237-187 House vote Thursday that sent the bill to the president split along party lines as Democrats praised the measure for creating a $30 billion federal fund to help smaller banks issue loans to small businesses and for cutting taxes by $12 billion over the coming decade."~ Ok.. Small businesses are suffering- being destroyed by this economy and by the behemoth corporation companies like Wal Mart that get their prices in large bulk and exclusive pricing deals so local businesses can not compete. So what does government do- does it give free money; a financial stimulus bailout like it did with AIG, Goldman Sachs, the banks,etc? No- it gives out loans. Loans which require repayment at principle plus interest. Loans.. and tax breaks.. keep reading..
"The new loan fund would be available to community banks to encourage lending to small businesses. Supporters say banks should be able to use the fund to leverage up to $300 billion in loans."
~ So the small businesses get loans.. through banks, albeit community banks but still... banks. That means the banks make money on application fees, they hold the business or other assets as collateral, etc. So a bank financially profits from the need of small businesses to stay afloat by lending out free money directly from the government and charging a rate of return.
* In simple terms: I get $100 from A at zero interest... I lend B that $100 at interest and keep 100% of the principle and profits since the $ received from A was free to me.
" "More capital for business means they can expand and create new jobs," said Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, D-Pa. "Helping businesses grow is essential to our economic recovery and getting people back to work." "
~ That sounds just lovely.. Remember this for later- a bill specific to get people back to work That means to get stubborn companies to hire. But how is the money spent? Let's look:
1) "The legislation would also aid lending by lowering Small Business Administration loan program fees and raising loan guarantee and lending limits. Loan caps under the Small Business Administration's chief lending program would be significantly raised".
~ In simple terms, it means small businesses still have to go through red tape and bureaucracy but at least those who lend will financially benefit.
2) "The small business tax cuts in the bill include breaks for restaurant owners and retailers who remodel their stores or build new ones."
~ Hmm.. tax cuts at a time when businesses don't pay enough taxes as it is. Hmm.. Also, that may give some painters, carpenters and construction workers brief employment, but doesn't force stores to hire beyond the skeleton crews which they currently retain.
3) "Long-term investors in some small business startups would be exempt from paying capital gains taxes "
~ Larger businesses will get more write-offs, because we all know large businesses need to be helped as much as possible and should be required to pay as little taxes as humanly possible.
4) "But much of the tax relief would actually go to larger businesses for write-offs of facilities and equipment such as computers, trucks and machinery.
~ Amazing how every single thing the government does.. Every single policy MUST be for the benefit of the Investor!! And to clarify- because you put a couple thousand in stocks or own a 401k does NOT make you an 'investor'.
5) "The measure also would allow small business owners to deduct the costs of health insurance for themselves and their families from self-employment taxes, but only for the 2010 tax year."
~ More tax breaks for those who do not need or deserve it
6) "And, for the first time, tens of thousands of businesses who pay the alternative minimum tax will be eligible to claim the research and development tax credit and other write-offs such as a credit for hiring the disadvantaged."
~ Even More tax breaks for those who don't need or deserve it.
"It's going to mean another $100,000 or $200,000 to some of our key small and medium-sized businesses," said Dean Zerbe of alliantgroup, a tax consulting firm."
Hmm.. I didn't see anything about hiring new workers. I saw businesses, small to large and evil Vermin investors getting tax breaks which they do not deserve or need and will pocket or use to cover other expenditures rather than hire, and allowances for businesses to use the loans for Any purpose they wish, even something a frivolous as refurbishing and building new stores. Nothing that forces businesses to acquire new workers and thus help to lower unemployment.
Everything in this uber-capitalistic nation is geared towards borrowing and lending and tax breaks for those who don't need or deserve it..If government was sincere about getting people back to work, it would give the $40billion out to small businesses alone and interest free. The terms and conditions would be as followed- this $$ is to hire and retain new workers only and in matching funds. For every $10k in free government money, you must show you spent $10k of your own money towards employment. You, the business must demonstrate you did this or you will be expected to repay the amount of money you took along with a premium interest rate.
Its called carrot/stick.. and that philosophy is the Only way to make businesses re-hire. Give incentives for business to rehire, yet make the financial punishments So severe, they financially they have no choice but to increase hiring. When people are working and generating income, they can pay bills, stay in their homes and consume which grows the economy.. But business Must be FORCED to hire since they've shown repeatedly they do not wish to unless its temp help, and only government has the power to do this.
People feel when they shop for products or services that they have choices. It is something many Americans take pride in as a symbol of freedom and democracy compared to how it was years ago in the Soviet controlled nations when selections for goods and services were few and sometimes none. But as 'A&G' will continually demonstrate, while one may have many choices in terms of brand names or store-fronts, ultimately your purchasing dollar goes into the pockets of a select few corporations.
Today's example- Hotels/Motels:
Hotels by Hilton
Hilton Garden Inn
Hilton Grand Vacations
Hotels by Marriott
Autograph Collection Hotels
Fairfield Inns & Suites
Wyndham Grand Collection
Wingate by Wyndham
Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham
Baymont Inn & Suites
Microtel Inn & Suites
~ So chances are when you're taking a long road trip, you stop over somewhere for the night and you debate among 3-4 different motels, ultimately your money is going to the same place.
For this blog post, I want to focus on the psychological phenomenon of apathy. People who are affected by this recession/depression seem to want to escape and by any means possible- TV & movies, food, drugs, alcohol... whatever it takes to block out the reality of their situation and that of the nation as a whole. To those unaffected, it is quite effortless for them to tune out the problems and believe all is fine with the world. Certainly the government and media want you to forget. As I wrote in an earlier posting, it is in their self-interests that you believe we're in 'recovery' and go back to thinking happy thoughts so you continue being docile, consumption minded citizens.
So both the affected and unaffected consciously choose to block out anything negative or real in the world in place of the continuing illusion that everything will magically work itself out - We block out the corruption in the banks, financials, and government.. we fall prey to the naive notion that a strong stock market means a strong economy and accept that our unemployment rate is just 9.7% when its really around 17% when including those whose unemployment benefits ran out, part timers and those who've given up hope of looking..
We tune out the things which interfere with our need to be constantly entertained and pleased.
An excellent example of this is apathy is Michael Vick who plays in the NFL as quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles after spending 23 months in jail in 2008-09, on federal charges of racketeering tied into the dog fighting kennels which he owned and operated. Currently he was named starting QB for the Eagles for the rest of the 2010 season and everyone from Eagles fans to local media to football enthusiasts mainly greeted the decision with cheers of joy.
This posting is not about his football skills or anything involving wins and losses on the gridiron. Its about indifference and people's ability to block out realities that may upset them or get in the way of their need to escape from the reality of their lives.
So what exactly did Michael Vick do to cause the Feds to get involved, arrest him and eventually lead to his incarcenation? Racketeering sounds harmless as does the term 'dog fighting'.. But let's delve into the details:
In summary, the dog fighting company that Vick put together called 'Bad Newz Kennels' was under Feds' investigation beginning in April 2007 with a search of property in Virginia owned by Vick where a dog fighting ring was discovered. Over seventy dogs, some said to be showing signs of injuries, were seized along with physical evidence during several searches of Vick's 15-acre property by local, state and federal authorities. Investigators also found kennels, treadmills, a "rape stand" used to restrain aggressive female dogs during breeding, and 54 pit bulls, some with scars and injuries officials said are consistent with dog fighting. In July 2007, Vick and three other men were indicted on federal offense and state felony charges... Allegations included Vick's direct involvement in dog fighting, high-stakes gambling, and brutal executions of dogs. via hanging, drowning, electrocuting and shooting.
If you are an Eagles fan or a Michael Vick supporter, in all likelihood you will rationalize, justify and legalese double-talk your arguments. To them, ultimately what he did does not matter - he paid for his crime - it was only 'dogs'- we all should 'move on'..
People want to be entertained and they want to forget. Apathy is easier than principle. So Vick continues to play football.. the fans clap and cheer.. and people are allowed to escape reality, to drift to happy little worlds. Just like how people approach this current recession. It is much easier to mimic an ostrich.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
There's an old adage that says 'A fool and his/her money are easily parted'. And another adage from PT Barnum that goes 'A sucker a born every minute'. When you take those two sayings and blend together, you get the basis for ALL financial media- from CNBC to Fox Business to Bloomberg and the various financial websites on the internet. For 'fun', I decided to go on MarketWatch.com which is part of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network along with WSJ.com and Barron's, to skim headliners just to see if anything was interesting.
"Pay off your mortgage, or invest in stocks?"-- "With interest rates so low, does it make sense to use extra money to pay down your home-loan debt — or invest in stocks or bonds?"
~ Yes, paying a home off in full and saving on the compounded interest is silly when you could put that money into something very secure like the market. But see how these bastards push investing?
"10 Reasons to Buy a House"
~ Paying off a mortgage as quick as possible is smart; assuming a new mortgage isn't
"How to influence online friends"-- "A new study shows which posts garner the most attention on Facebook, offering some helpful hints to brand marketers as well as advertisers."
~Ah yes, what good are friends if you can't use them, network them and profit off them
"Blue (Suede) Christmas" -- "Is a blue Christmas on the horizon? Let's check with Elvis Presley — the latest economic indicator"
~ A supposed 'clever-cute' way to minimize the fact that the upcoming holiday shopping season will be BAD, and put an added financial burden upon millions who are barely getting by as it is
"Starbucks to raise some prices" -- "Coffee chain will raise the price of "labor-intensive and larger-sized beverages" in response to surging green Arabica coffee costs. "
~ Any idiot willing to pay $1.96 for a latte each weekday morning (which adds up to $509.60/yr) is more than willing to pay more for the pleasure and status of holding that logo-printed cup in their hand as they walk into work.
"7 Investments that beat stocks right now"
~ Hmmm.. how bout this.. put your money in a savings account, inside a safe, under a mattress or any other place where others can not put your finances at risk or make commissions... Or simply invest in Yourself-
Markets are down today
Not enough to make impact;
Spinning never stops.
Volcker defends 'O'
"He is not anti-business";
Millions wish he was.
Poor Larry Summers,
Departing when times are tough;
Vermin- Harvard bound.
Every new show is awful,
Sans 'Boardwalk Empire'
Monday, September 20, 2010
This headline from ZeroHedge.com is a good example why markets rise in a recession even when all other economic data would justify a market drop:
"Fed Injects Record $5 Billion Into Stock Market With Today's POMO"
POMO = permanent open market operations. Basically the Fed goes and permanently purchases securities (some form of bond) from 'primary dealers' (banks & other 'to big to fail') in exchange for cash.
JP Morgan ----> US Treasury bond -----> Fed
JP Morgan <---- Cash <----------- Fed
The goal is twofold:
1) This is another bailout to help the financials who are carrying untold hundreds of billions, if not trillions in toxic debts on their books and would be unable to give the money to the banks through more overt channels,
2) To artificially inflate the stock market with free money so the S&P and Dow will also be inflated, giving the perception that the economy is in 'recovery' and it is OK for suckers.. I mean everyday Americans to invest in the market again.
In simple terms, it is outright market manipulation, except the culprit isn't an inside trader or a corporation.. its our government.
Unlike previous Quotes of the Day, this is from this year, Sept 20, 2010:
From Charlie Munger, VP of Berkshire Hathaway, the diversified investment corporation chaired by Warren Buffett:
Explaining how the bailouts under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama were 'absolutely required'--
“Hit the economy with enough misery and enough disruption, destroy the currency, and God knows what happens. So I think when you have troubles like that you shouldn’t be bitching about a little bailout. You should have been thinking it should have been bigger.”
On whether the government should have bailed out homeowners instead of Wall Street--
“You’ve got it exactly wrong. There’s danger in just shoveling out money to people who say, ‘My life is a little harder than it used to be'. At a certain place you’ve got to say to the people, ‘Suck it in and cope, buddy. Suck it in and cope.’”
~ Berkshire Hathaway received $95billion in TARP bailouts
From AP via Yahoo Finance:
"Economic panel says recession ended in June 2009" - "The longest recession the country has endured since the Great Depression ended in June 2009, a group that dates the beginning and end of recessions declared Monday."
This caused the market to rise 161 pts.
This was followed with another AP headline "Recession pain still real, despite end, Obama says"
These two insipidly evil headlines need to be addressed so it can be put in the proper context of the media and government's ultimate goal- to influence public perception of the economy to the point that it is automatic to believe the recession is over, that we're in full recovery and people just need to be a little patient and then all will be well again.
The message is a Lie.. its intentional.. and its destructive.
So then let's ask- Why? Why the outright and consistent Lies? The answer lies in you, the individual and what you accept as truth.
Everyone wants you to spend again like you did before the recession. When you save money and pay down your debts, you do not stimulate the economy- you're simply making your individual life better. Because our economy is 70% consumption, it only can run efficiently if you and your friends & neighbors are spending your paychecks the moment you receive them, buying things you don't need with money you really don't have and putting everything on credit at currently low interest rates while paying over a duration of time.
If you believe the economy is bad, you will tighten your economic 'belts'..you won't spend freely or impulse buy.. you won't invest in the markets.. you won't compile debt and take out loans.. and worst of all.. you will save. And the government and media DO NOT want you to do this.
Also if you are unemployed and believe the lie, you perhaps won't get so despondent.. you will feel a renewed vigor.. a passionate desire to dust off the resume.. to pound the pavement or computer keyboard keys in a relentless, determined search to find the job.. the perfect job that's just out there.. waiting to be taken... are you going to Take it?? You're an Amer-I-CAN dammit.. not an Amer-I Can't!!! (cues up Lee Greenwood's "I'm Proud to be an American")
~ um.. Please!! But this is the Lie they want you to embrace.
So a happy Lie is pushed in hopes you will eventually believe it trat enough people around you will believe it, and have you accept via social peer pressure that all is well.
This is not a new phenomenon..
This occurred over the entirety of the Great Depression which lasted Twelve years.. And the collective propaganda push by the government and media then can be summarized in the famous and overly simplistic song from musical Annie, which came out during that Depression..
"The Sun will come out.. Tomorrow.. You can bet your bottom dollar that Tomorrow there'll be Sun... Tomorrow.. Tomorrow.. I love you Tomorrow.. you're only a Day Away~"
It is pushing 'Hope' which is a very pessimistic feeling actually and is not based on any joyful or positive belief. More the emotional comparison of grasping at straws. (and I don't mean this as an anti Obama=Hope type slam for ALL politicians play upon this nonsense) But really let's use two situational examples of 'hope'
Ex: You have a final exam tomorrow:
Optimistic- I feel confident and positive that I will pass
Realistic- If I study hard, I will pass. If I don't, I won't
Pessimistic- I will study my best and hopefully I will pass
Ex #2 You want to propose marriage to your partner
Optimistic- Not a doubt in my mind he/she will say Yes
Realistic- He/she shows me love so I feel good about it.
Pessimistic- I sure hope he/she accepts
Ultimately, if you need or wish to believe the lie because its what keeps you going, so be it. Ignorance is bliss. But for everyone else, understand that you are being conned. The economy is not better- it is worse.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Currently the highest denomination of money circulated is $100, but there was a time that currency of higher denominations were created and used to buy goods and services, albeit expensive ones.
~ William McKinley, 25th President
~ Grover Cleveland, 22nd & 24th President
~ James Madison, 4th President
~ Salmon P Chase, Sec of Treasury (1861-64), Supreme Court Chief Justice (1864-73)
~ Woodrow Wilson, 25th President
~ William McKinley, 25th President
~ Grover Cleveland, 22nd & 24th President
~ James Madison, 4th President
~ Salmon P Chase, Sec of Treasury (1861-64), Supreme Court Chief Justice (1864-73)
~ Woodrow Wilson, 25th President
Not quite finance news-worthy I know, but since she's in the news, this is Ines Sainz- the so-called 'reporter' who feigned uncomfortableness while inside the New York Jets' locker room last Sunday while waiting to interview a player.
She doesn't dress or act like a professional sports reporter does she?
She doesn't dress or act like a professional sports reporter does she?
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Saturday 9/18/10 ~
Friday, 'dem FDIC closed 'nother bank
Twas number 125 this year ay' thank.
Cost will be in millions
Least it ain't be trillions
Though $86.4mill loss sure do stank.
This week the Dow Industrials rose
While Americans' wealth froze.
Sounds like economy is comatose.
In baseball news, some teams won;
Others- playoff hopes are dimly wan.
Fans cheer & moan
At every pitch thrown
Blocking out their jobs recently gone.
As a mental exercise, I decided to challenge myself to see if it was possible to stretch $10 to cover a full week of eating- breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc without skipping a meal in the process or scrimping on portions. Mind you, this was a mental exercise and specific for 1 person, not a family.- I have not actually tried this, but what I came up with is realistic and I am pleased to know that in a true financial emergency situation, it is possible to get a full week of nutritious meals for $10.
$2.00 - Box of Generic brand cereal
$1.75- 1/2 Gallon of Milk
* Typically 12oz box is 12 servings. Even eating one and a half bowls/day is enough for full week. Half-gallon of milk is 64 oz.. 8oz is plenty for a bowl and a half of cereal. Cereal also makes a great snack.
$2.50- Jar of Goober Grape brand PB&J spread
$1.00- Generic brand bread
* Goober Grape, for those who've never heard of it, is peanut butter & jelly already swirled together in the jar. Peanut Butter is high in protein.
$2.25- 2 mini cartons of Eggs (8 in each carton)
$0.50- 4 sticks- Generic brand Margarine
* Eggs are also very high in protein and at 2 eggs/night,its enough for a full week. Margarine used to lubricate cooking pan and on the bread/toast which can be eaten on the side.
When thirsty, nothing but tap water. (Bottled spring water often comes from the same municial source as tap)
And for ketchup, salt, pepper, etc.. your local fast-food restaurant can provide that.
So let's add up the total:
$ 3.75- Breakfast
$ 3.50- Lunch
$ 2.75- Dinner
~ The meals may be a tad repetitious and perhaps bland, but it can be done. Remember, this is was survival exercise- the goal being to be able in an emergency situation, to feed oneself for an entire week without going hungry or breaking the law to acquire food-- for only $10
"Improvement in business is slow but is nevertheless gaining; recent trends indicate no lines of business are getting worse, while a few are getting better.” -Arthur Lehman...
Of Lehman Brothers... yes That Lehman Brothers.
Sept. 18, 1930
~funny world isn't it?
Friday, September 17, 2010
Some of you reading this may have gone bankrupt recently or find yourself in the position where you will need to in the very near future. You're not alone. You may feel embarrassed of ashamed in some way- don't be.
Many famous people have gone through the exact same thing and came out on the other side of the experience with good life lessons learned and the optimism of a new beginning. Here's a long list of just some celebrities in US history who've experienced bankruptcy, recovering to resume successful, joyful lives ~
* Source: http://www.rjabankruptcy.com/articles/famousindividuals.html (this is from a bankruptcy attorney web page which I do not endorse or know about in any way.. I just copy/pasted the following list from there)
Famous celebrities who went bankrupt (Long list):
- Abraham Lincoln
- 16th President of the United States
- Benedict Arnold
- Betrayed colonists to British
- John James Audubon
- Illustrated Birds of America
- P.T. Barnum
- The Great American circus owner
- John Barrymore
- Actor; Romeo & Juliet
- Lionel Bart
- British composer - lyricist - playwright (1972)
- Kim Basinger
- Oscar - winning actress (1993)
- Frank Baum
- Wizard of Oz author
- Barbara Bel Geddes
- Actor; Miss Elle on Dallas
- Melvin Belli
- Famous Lawyer known as 'The King of Torts'
- Bunny Berigan
- Jazz trumpeter great
- George Best
- Manchester United soccer
- Jay Black
- rock star, lead member of "Jay and the Americans" (1986)
- John Wayne Bobbitt
- Penectomy survivor
- Peter Bogdanovich
- American Filmographer
- Bjorn Borg
- Pro tennis player
- Lorraine Bracco
- Oscar - nominated actress (1999)
- Matthew Brady
- portrait / US Civil War photographer (1872)
- Toni Braxton
- rock star (1998)
- Louise Brooks
- Actor; Pandora’s Box
- Sylvia Browne
- Afraid to accept Randi’s $1million challenge
- Lenny Bruce
- Comic; Multiply obscene comic
- Mark Brunell
- Current NFL QB
- Buffalo Bill
- Wild West showman
- Gary Burghoff
- Radar O’Reilly in MASH
- Anita Bryant
- singer, 1958 Miss America 2nd runner up (1997)
- Crazy Cabbie
- Radio personality on the Howard Stern menagerie
- Tia Carrere
- Actor; Wayne’s World
- Nell Carter
- Actor; Housekeeper on Gimme a Break
- Raymond Carver
- Author; Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?
- Miguel de Cervantes
- Novelist; Don Quixote
- George Clinton
- rock star (1984) (note: this is not the composer George S. Clinton)
- Samuel L. Clemens ("Mark Twain")
- best - selling American author - humorist (1894)
- Natalie Cole
- Gary Coleman
- actor (1999)
- Concrete Blonde
- rock group
- John Connally
- Former Texas Governor, wounded in 1963 Kennedy assassination in Dallas (1987)
- Francis Ford Coppola
- Oscar - winning film writer - director - producer (1999)
- Cathy Lee Crosby
- Actress - American Author (1992)
- David Crosby
- singer / songwriter
- Aleister Crowley
- Wickedest man in the world
- Vic Damone
- singer (1971)
- Dorothy Dandridge
- Oscar- nominated actress singer (1963)
- Darren Day
- Music Theater Star
- Daniel Defoe
- Author; Robinson Crusoe
- Lee De Forest
- Oscar-winning film/sound synchronization pioneer, producer (1937)
- Dino De Laurentis
- Oscar - winning film producer (1988)
- John DeLorean
- Automobile designer and entrepreneur
- Clarissa Dickson Wright
- Star of “Two Fat Ladies” TV cooking show fame (2003)
- Walt Disney
- Oscar - winning film producer, animation & theme park pioneer (1923)
- Henry Dunant
- Red Cross founder
- William C. Durant
- Founder of General Motor
- Eddy "the eagle" Edwards
- Great Britain's first Olympic ski jumper (1991)
- Chris Eubank
- Former World Champion Boxer (2005)
- Keith Famie
- Survivor II: The Australian Outback contestant, chef-restauranter, American Author (1996/97)
- Freddy Fender
- Musician; Before the Next Teardrop Falls
- Stephin Fetchit
- Actor; Professional black stereotype
- Eddie Fisher
- Singer; crooner dumped by Liz Taylor
- Mick Fleetwood
- rock star, lead member of "Fleetwood Mac" (1984)
- Heidi Fleiss
- Clothing line founder; American author
- Henry Ford
- Automobile manufacturer
- William Fox
- Co-Founder of 20th Century Fox Film Corporation (1936)
- Red Foxx
- actor – entertainer
- R. Buckminster Fuller
- Architect-futurist-invented the geodesic dome
- Zsa Zsa Gabor
- Cop-slapping Gabor sister
- Marvin Gaye
- singer (1970s)
- Andy Gibb
- rock star (1987)
- Gary Glitter
- Rock and Roll Part 2
- Bernhard Goetz
- Subway vigilante criminal
- Charles Goodyear
- 19th century American inventor, who discovered how to vulcanize rubber
- Ulysses S. Grant
- 18th US President; Civil War general, best-selling American Author, face is pictured on the US fifty dollar bill ( 1884 after leaving office)
- Elizabeth Ward Gracen
- actress; model; Miss America 1982 (1999)
- Paulo Gucci
- Bob Guccione
- publisher and founder of Penthouse magazine (2003)
- Johannes Gutenberg
- Inventor of movable type
- Tony Gwynn
- Batted .394 in 1994 for the Padres
- Merle Haggard
- country music star (1993)
- Corey Haim
- actor (1997)
- Frans Hals
- Dutch portraitist
- Dorothy Hamill
- Olympic gold-medal ice-skater (1996)
- M.C. Hammer
- rock star (1996)
- George Frideric Handel
- Messiah composer
- Richard Harris
- Oscar-nominated actor-producer-director
- Isaac Hayes
- Oscar-winning songwriter - composer - musician -singer (1976)
- H.J. Heinz
- Founder of Heinz Ketchup
- Margaux Hemingway
- Troubled actress OD’d on klonopin
- Sherman Hemsley
- actor (2002)
- Ty Herndon
- Country music star caught in cruisy park
- Milton Snavely Hershey
- founder of Hershey’s chocolate
- Kent Hovind
- Creation Science huckster
- Steve Howe
- MLB pitcher
- E. Howard Hunt
- Coordinated Watergate break-in
- Nelson Bunker Hunt
- Tried to corner the silver market
- Ron Isley
- Rhythm-and blues singer (mid late 1990s)
- La Toya Jackson
- rock star (1995)
- Don Johnson
- Eli Jacobs
- Former Baltimore Orioles owner
- Janice - Marie Johnson
- rock star/disco diva (1980s)
- Al Jolson
- Miami Vice, Nash Bridges
- George Jones
- Country singer
- Grace Jones Singer
- Entertainer 1992
- Kacey Jones
- country music star, musical humorist
- Clay Jordan
- Survivor V: Thailand contestant; restauranter (2001)
- Chaka Kahn
- rock star
- Charles Keating
- Morality crusader, white-collar swindler
- Buster Keaton
- Actor, The General
- Bernard Kerik
- NYC Police Commissioner, 2000-2001
- Margot Kidder
- Lois Lane in Superman movie
- Larry King
- talk-show host, best selling American author (1978)
- Thomas Kinkaid
- famous painter
- Robert Kiyosaki
- Rich Dad, Poor Dad author
- Marion “Suge” Knight
- Death Row Records Rap Producer 2006
- Bernie Kosar
- former NFL QB
- Bowie Kuhn
- former US baseball commissioner
- Gary Kurtz
- Oscar-nominated film producer
- Veronica Lake
- actress (1951)
- Lorenzo Lamas
- actor (2004)
- Cyndi Lauper
- rock star (1983)
- Anton LaVey
- Founder of the Church of Satan
- Stan Lee
- Comic book industry pioneer , co-creator "Spider Man," "The Incredible Hulk," "The X-Men" etc (2001)
- Jerry Lewis
- Jerry Lee Lewis
- famous Rock n’ Roll star
- Horace Liveright
- Publisher of the Modern Library series
- Meat Loaf
- rock star (1983)
- Joe Louis
- Boxer 1956
- Ashley MacIsaac
- musician fiddler (2000)
- Jackie Mason
- comedian – entertainer
- Henry Mayhew
- Punch journalist
- Mindy McCready
- Country Music star , American author
- George McGovern
- politician 1991
- William McKinley
- 25th US President 1897-1901
- Tom Metzger
- white supremacist
- Marvin Mitchelson
- celebrity divorce lawyer
- Melba Moore
- Singer - Actress
- Debelah Morgan
- Singer -Songwriter - Producer (2000)
- Lorrie Morgan
- Country music star, American Author
- Robert Morris
- Politician who financed Revolutionary War
- Levi P. Morton
- Vice President under Benjamin Harrison
- Motor City Five/MCS
- rock group of the 1960s (1970)
- John Nash
- British Regency architect
- Willie Nelson
- singer-songwriter-actor, American Author (1990)
- Wayne Newton
- singer-actor - entertainer (1992)
- Harry Nilsson
- singer/songwriter; Me and My Arrow
- F. Donald Nixon
- Nixon’s brother
- Immanuel Nobel
- father of manufacturers - philanthropist Alfred Nobel , who founded the Nobel Prize (twice - 1833/year Alfred was born, 1856/ when Alfred was 23)
- Mary Nolan
- actress (1931)
- Emperor Norton
- Emperor of the United States and protector of Mexico
- Ted Nugent
- Rock Star
- Kate O’Brien
- The Land of Spices novelist
- Thomas Paine
- Common Sense activist
- Johnny Paycheck
- country music star (1976)
- Tom Petty
- rock star (1979)
- Gaylord Perry
- baseball player
- Philip II
- King of Spain, 1556-1598
- Buddy Post
- Lottery millionaire
- Susan Powter
- exercise/fitness expert, talk show host, best selling American Author (1995)
- Burt Prelutsky
- American television writer; screenwriter (1997)
- Randy Quaid
- Lynn Redgrave
- Tommy Rettig
- actor; Jeff Miller in Lassie
- Burt Reynolds
- Oscar-nominated actor - director , American Author (1995)
- Debbie Reynolds
- Oscar nominated actress-singer, American Author (1997)
- Mickey Rooney
- Oscar nominated actor, American Author (1962)
- Rick Ross
- Activist; cult expert, deprogrammer
- Run DMC
- Rap Group in 1993
- Harry Saltzman
- film producer (James Bond movies) (1975)
- Derek Sanderson
- Hockey Player
- Ray Sawyer
- rock star, member of "Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show" (1973)
- Oskar Schindler
- activist who saved over 1000 Jews from the Nazis
- country music band (1991)
- Billy Sims
- Detroit Lions RB
- Tom Sizemore
- Heat, Robbery Homicide Division actor
- Anna Nicole Smith
- Model-Actress, 1993 Playboy magazine "Playmate of the Year"(1996)
- Dee Snider
- frontman for Twisted Sister, musician
- Phoebe Snow
- Jazz vocalist
- Lynne Spears
- American author, mother of rock star Britney Spears (1998, filed with husband James prior to Britney's stardom)
- Leon Spinks
- Sheryl Swoopes
- Three-time WNBA MVP
- J. Fife Symington
- Governor of Arizona (1995, while still in office)
- Lawrence Taylor
- NFL hall of famer
- Randall Terry
- Operation Rescue founder
- Nikola Tesla
- Invented alternating current
- Donald Trump
- billionaire entrepreneur
- rock group (1995)
- Mark Twain
- Huckleberry Finn author
- Mike Tyson
- boxer (2003)
- Johnny Unitas
- legendary Hall of Fame football quarterback
- John Whitehead
- Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now, musician
- Oscar Wilde
- acclaimed poet and author
- James Wilson
- U.S. Supreme Court Justice 1789-1798
- Tammy Wynette
- country music star (1988)
- Florenz Ziegfeld
- actor, the Ziegfeld Follies
Posted by Susquehanna at Friday, September 17, 2010