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Friday, September 30, 2011

Pic of the Day- 9/30/11

Pic taken at the #OccupyWallStreet protests in NYC (I did not take the pic).

Imagine you are 18 or 21 years old, and you go into a Mercedes Benz or BMW dealership and want to obtain an auto loan to buy an $70,000 car with no real work or credit history.  Do you really expect you'd be approved?

Then why the fuck would any lending agency approve an 18 or 21 year old for a $70,000 student loan?

Oh yes, that's right.. because you can Never Ever default from it

See:  http://ants-and-grasshoppers.blogspot.com/2011/09/why-you-should-never-go-to-college.html

Goldman Sachs' global influence


I was glancing at Wikipedia this early morning and since GoldmanSachs basically rules the world, especially the US, I decided for "fun" to look up the biography of CEO and Chairman Lloyd Blankfein.  Here are some interesting factoids:

*   Blankfein became CEO in 2006- he replaced Hank Paulson.  If that name sounds familiar, he was Treasury Secretary under George W. Bush, and the one front and center in late 2008 demanding Congress authorize $700 Billion for TARP without any questions.

*   In 2006, Blankfein earned $54.4 million and in 2007 received just under $54 million "which included a base salary of $600,000, a cash bonus of $26,985,474, stocks granted of $15,542,756 and options granted of $10,453,031"

*   Blankfein donated $4200 to Hillary Rodham Clinton's 2008 Presidental campaign & employees and their relatives of Goldman contributed almost a million dollars to Barack Obama's presidential campaign making it, according to the Washington Examiner, "the company from which Obama raised the most money in 2008"   As of February 2011, he has visited the White House ten times.

*   Former Goldman executives who hold senior positions in the Obama administration include Mark Patterson, a former Goldman lobbyist who is chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Gary Gensler, the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and Robert Hormats, the undersecretary of state for economic, energy and agricultural affairs

*   In a November 2009, interview with the London Times, Blankfein declared that, as a banker: "I'm doing God's work."
 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
GoldmanSachs rules the world.  I don't say it joyfully- it just is true.  Its tentacles are infiltrated in all the governments and major banks of all the industrialized nations of the world.   Goldman dictates financial policy and Presidents, Prime Ministers & Chancellors all go 'woof-woof'.

Goldman Sachs has had (and currently has) direct influence within the inner-circles of politics in Washington (both Democrat & Republican administrations) and other in nations' governments (Canada, Italy, Great Britain, Australia,etc..) for decades.  Some of the most powerful people in government either were connected to Goldman Sachs prior to entering public service went to Goldman soon after.

Many of the names may not seem familiar and thus on the surface seems a rather dry read.  But don't get too caught up on that-  Take your time reading this list... focus on the public sector titles of these individuals and compare to their specific roles with Goldman.   Then you will see the pattern of influence emerge.  I provided photos for each individual...

There is a saying: "Once a Marine, Always a Marine".   The same motto can be applied to those who've world for Goldman.

 Joshua Bolten

Government: President George W. Bush's Chief of Staff from 2006-2009; Director of Office of Management and Budget from 2003-2006; White House Deputy Chief of Staff from January 20, 2001 - June 2003.

Goldman: Executive Director of Legal Affairs for Goldman based in London aka the bank's chief lobbyist to the EU from 1994-1999.

Mark Carney

Government: Governor of the Bank of Canada since 2008.

Goldman: Mr. Carney had a thirteen-year career with Goldman Sachs in its London, Tokyo, New York, and Toronto offices. His progressively senior positions included Co-Head of Sovereign Risk; Executive Director, Emerging Debt Capital Markets; and Managing Director, Investment Banking. He started at Goldman in 1995.

Jon Corzine

Government: Former Governor of New Jersey from 2006-2010; U.S. Senator from 2001-2006 where he served on the Banking and Budget Committees- Democrat.

Goldman: Former Goldman CEO. Worked at Goldman from 1975-1998.

Paul Dighton

Government: Chief executive of the London Operating Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG).

Goldman: Former COO of Goldman where he worked for 22 years beginning in 1983.

Mario Draghi

Government: Head [Governor] of the Bank of Italy since January 2006.

Goldman: Vice chairman and managing director of Goldman Sachs International and a member of the firm-wide management committee from 2002-2005.

William Dudley  (on far right next to Geithner & Bernanke)

Government: President Federal Reserve Bank of New York City (2009-present)

Goldman: Partner and Managing Director. Worked at Goldman from 1986-2007


Gary Gensler

Government: Chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission since 2009; Undersecretary to the Treasury from 1999 to 2001; Assistant Secretary to the Treasury from 1997-1999. (Clinton Administration)

Goldman: Former Co-head of Finance for Goldman Sachs worldwide. Worked at Goldman from 1979-1997.

Lord Brian Griffiths


Government: Under Margaret Thatcher & John Major, Head of the Prime Minister Policy Unit from 1985 to 1990.

Goldman: International Advisor since 1991.

Jim Himes

Government: Congressman from Connecticut (on Committee on Financial Services) since 2009.

Goldman: Began working at Goldman in 1990 and was eventually promoted to Vice President.

Richard Gephardt

Government: U.S. Representative, Missouri- Democrat (1977 to 2005); currently a lobbyist

Goldman: President and CEO, Gephardt Government Affairs (since 2007). Hired by Goldman to represent its interests on issues related to TARP.

Philip Murphy

Government: U.S. Ambassador to Germany since 2009.

Goldman: Former Senior Director of Goldman Sachs where he worked from 1983-2006.

Michael Paese

Government: Top Staffer to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, Democrat.

Goldman: Director of Government Affairs/Lobbyist (2009)

Mark Patterson

Government: Treasury Department Chief of Staff since February 2009. (Obama)

Goldman: Lobbyist for Goldman Sachs from 2003-2008.

Henry "Hank" Paulson

Government: Secretary of the Treasury under George W. Bush from March 2006 to January 2009; White House Domestic Council, serving as Staff Assistant to the President from 1972 to 1973; Staff Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon from 1970 to 1972.

Goldman: Former Goldman Sachs CEO. Worked at Goldman from 1974-2006.

Romano Prodi


Government: Two time prime minister of Italy.

Goldman: From March 1990 to May 1993 and when not in public office, Mr. Prodi acted as a consultant to Goldman Sachs.

Richard Y. Roberts

Government: Former SEC commissioner from 1990 to 1995.

Goldman: Now working as a principal at RR&G LLC, which was hired by Goldman to lobby on TARP.

Robert Rubin

Government: Treasury Secretary under Clinton from 1995-1999; Chairman of the National Economic Council from 1993-1995.

Goldman: Former Co-Chairman at Goldman Sachs where he worked from 1966-1992.

Robert K. Steel

Government: Under Secretary for Domestic Finance of the United States Treasury from 2006-08. (Bush)

Goldman: Former Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs where he worked from 1976-2004.

Adam Storch

Government: COO of the SEC's Enforcement Division (October 2009-present). He was 29 years old at the time of his appointment.

Goldman: Former Vice President at Goldman Sachs where he worked from 2004-2009.


Malcolm Turnbull

Government: Member of the Australian House of Representatives since 2004.

Goldman: Chairman and Managing Director, Goldman Sachs Australia from 1997-2001 and Partner with Goldman Sachs and Co from 1998-2001.

Robert Zoellick

Government: President of the World Bank since 2007.

Goldman: Vice Chairman, International of the Goldman Sachs Group, and a Managing Director and Chairman of Goldman Sachs' Board of International Advisors (2006-07)
 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
*** Goldman Sachs--  One Big Happy & Financially Incestual Family

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why is your $ in a bank?- Part Deux

I wrote a posting last week explaining why it is absolutely silly to keep your money in a bank minus what you may need to pay bills with.   You get no interest, you're limited (really its control) as to how much you can take from an ATM, the bank is able to lend out to others at high interest the amount it holds of its depositors, and if/when there's a market crash & banks go on 'holiday', you will not be able to access your money as government works to stem off panic.

So here's another reason to add to the list:

"Bank of America plans to start charging customers a $5 monthly fee for using their debit card to make purchases. The fee will be rolled out starting early next year (2012).  A number of banks have already either rolled out or are testing such fees. But Bank of America's announcement carries added weight because it is the largest U.S. bank by deposits...  Chase and Wells Fargo are also testing $3 monthly debit card fees in select markets. Neither bank has said when it will make a final decision on whether to roll out the fee more broadly." (AP)

Personally, I keep enough funds in a bank to pay bills and to cover potential emergencies like if the A/C or Heater breaks and you need a serviceperson to fix it, etc...  Other than that, I do not allow a bank to control my money...  or me.
_____________________________

I was going to end the above posting short and sweet, but this really needs to be said, since Very Few other finance blogs will do so.  We as individuals and collectively as people are pretty much powerless to stop The Federal Reserve, the Treasury and Wall St. as they work together to destroy the middle class and decimate the poor.  There's only one legal option individuals have to hurt the banks--  taking $$ out.

Banks don't want you taking out your cash. As it stands, ATMs limit you to $500 per day and if you take out $10,000 cash or more, like gestapo, you're reported to the IRS.   Try even taking out $5,000 and you're looked upon as criminal by the teller.

Remember, fractional reserve means for every $10 a bank holds of a depositor, it is allowed to lend out $100.  So if you have $20,000 in your checking or savings account, you're allowing the bank $200,000 to invest in the market or lend out and profit at 3-10% depending on loan while you get a hundredth of one-percent in return.  If just one million people nationwide could be organized to withdraw just $1,000 at a co-ordinated time, that would pull 1 Billion dollars in cash from the banks, depriving them of $10 Billion in lending.

If you love banks, keep doing as you're doing, and don't forget to take a free lollipop on your way out the door.  If you feel otherwise, take figurative and literal Control of your money.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Video Repost: BBC Interview- Global Crisis in full Candor

video

This is a repost of the video from 2 days ago.  I really felt the honesty and candor (as well as arrogance and smugness) of the interviewee was important for people to see, who haven't watched already..  and because other postings tend to get pushed down when new information is written, I wanted to give readers another opportunity to view this...

Scroll down to mute the audio player on far right, then scroll back up to play video.
__________________________________________

They say a picture a worth 1,000 words.  And sometimes a 3 minute video is better than a thousand blog postings.

If you want to Truly understand where the global economy is at this moment-- how Awful things sincerely ar, the need to Wake Up and start preparing for it and to hear it from a first-hand perspective of a trader, watch the above video.   The interview is conducted by the BBC and the level of honesty and candor in which the interviewee answers questions leaves the interview literally in shock.

Side note: Notice at the very end how the news anchors try to minimize and diminish everything he says by indicating its not worth worrying about.  Media never respects its audience.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Thoughts on US, Germany and Greece

Among my favorite news sources for information on the True state of both the US and global economy are British newspapers because when they cover the recession-depression, they aren't beholden to any particular US political party or ideological mantra like "America is never wrong".

So while no nation's journalism is perfect and that includes Britain (see: Rupert Murdoch & 'News of the World'), one does find better coverage of the economic situation in the US and globally through British papers.  Here's a small example:

Germany slams 'stupid' US plans to boost EU rescue fund (UK Telegraph) -- "German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble said it would be a folly to boost the EU's bail-out machinery (EFSF) beyond its €440bn lending limit by deploying leverage to up to €2 trillion, perhaps by raising funds from the European Central Bank.  "I don't understand how anyone in the European Commission can have such a stupid idea. The result would be to endanger the AAA sovereign debt ratings of other member states. It makes no sense," he said.  Mr Schauble told Washington to mind its own businesss after President Barack Obama rebuked EU leaders for failing to recapitalise banks and allowing the debt crisis to escalate to the point where it is "scaring the world".  "It's always much easier to give advice to others than to decide for yourself.""

Wouldn't expect to see that friction covered in a US paper or cable news network unless it was meant as pro-US propaganda.  Usually the US is painted as the hero who must always be forced to come to the rescue of Europe... Continuing..

"Markets across the world ignored the mixed signals about the true scope of EU rescue measures, convinced that EU leaders have a "grand plan" up their sleeves and will unveil the details... Greece has a trump card in rescue talks with the IMF-EU "Troika". If it opts for a "hard default", it could set off a chain reaction"

See, no one ever talks about that-- that Greece really has the power if their political leaders weren't so horribly corrupt.  Greece should be using a threat of immediate default to Force the Europeans banks and the IMF to give them the entirety of the funds promised to them in July, instead of receiving it piecemeal, and to renegotiate interest rate and other terms more fair and just to the nation.  But as stated, Greece's leaders are in IMF and ECB's financial 'pockets' so this won't happen.

The article ends with more truth-telling...

"Analysts say the Troika will have to approve the next €8bn tranche of aid for Athens in October whether or not Greece has complied fully with the terms. It cannot risk a showdown before Europe's banks have beefed up their capital base, or before the EFSF is fully equipped to defend the rest of the system."

So many needless games.. silly drama.. global fears, and it really is that simple.  The money must go to Greece no matter what the nation does because otherwise, everyone suffers.   Such a shame for Greece though-  their leaders are so deeply evil that they push harsher austerity irregardless.

Hallmark profiting off your misery

~ Not a real Hallmark card, but really might as well be...

Found this story on Minyanville.com:

"According to the latest statistics, 9.1% of Americans are out of work.

According to Hallmark, that means approximately one extra card to buy for every ten visits to CVS.

The largest manufacturer of greeting cards in the US has launched a new line of unemployment sympathy cards... One card reads, "Don't think of it as losing your job," on the cover. Inside, "Think of it as a time out between stupid bosses."   Oh, Hallmark humor."

Pathetic.

But More pathetic is how genuinely Stupid some people are...

"While it might seem insensitive to summarize someone's threatened livelihood with $3.49 worth of cardboard, Indiana drug store employee Michelle Crowthers-Lunczynski who found the cards delightful. "Getting a card like that and somebody caring is fabulous. The crazy part to think about this is there's so many people laid off. At least someone's caring enough to you know, get a card and say, 'I'm thinking of you'." "

Yes- what a way to show you care...  And what a dingbat!

Why you should Never go to College

~ "We collectively have Doctorates in Astrophysics,  Biochemestry, Electrical Engineering and Information Technologies-- now we sell Lady Gaga & Justin Bieber CDs.. Yay!"

Perhaps we should have called this posting "Why you should never go to college if you have to take out student loans to afford it" but you can see, that's quite a lengthy headliner.

There's many reasons for this claim- for instance, in most fields, you're obtaining a degree in worthlessness that won't translate into jobs and careers, yet you lost 4 years of your life and tens of thousands of dollars (or more) to acquire it.  But here's the dirty secret that few openly talk about (though A&G have written 3 postings in past year on this issue):

When you take on a student loan, its for LIFE.

This is most important: Student loan debt can almost never be discharged in a bankruptcy.  According to the most recent data from the Education Credit Management Corporation, of the 72,000 federal student loan borrowers who filed for bankruptcy in 2008, just 29 succeeded in getting part or all of that debt discharged

And if you can't pay?

1) The federal government can garnish up to 15% of the borrower's or cosigner's wages (that's you mom and dad) until the debt is paid off; private lenders can take up to 25%.

2)  For federal loans, the government can also intercept income tax refunds, future lottery winnings and up to 15% of Social Security benefits.   This means when you're a Very old man or woman, you're still playing that 50 year old college loan.

3) Many private lenders, with the exception of Sallie Mae, Wells Fargo and the New York Higher Education Loan Program, can go after a borrower's estate upon his death.   This means your university loans get satisfied before your next of kin sees his/her first dime.

~ Sure sounds like being a Slave to the system-- all in the hopes of being some doctor or lawyer, of which we have a billion of each in the world.  A lifetime slave to working; endless 6am mornings wake-ups, long commutes, and being crapped upon by bosses-- all to repay a debt to acquire a 2 cent piece of paper called a 'diploma'.

It is immoral for a young person to be saddled with tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of debt before he/she turns 21. Equally immoral, that the structure is set up that the only chance a young person has to make it in life is by following that path to debt slavery.  Truth is, without the doe-eyed hopes and dreams of the youth, and the deep naivete of parents, this system would collapse on itself.  But ultimately that's what the modernized world is, both economically and morally--  Bankrupt.

Monday, September 26, 2011

History of Sovereign Defaults 1820-2003

Will Greece default?  Should it?  What will it mean?  on and on...

Those with the most to lose politically and financially have successfully fear-mongered these questions as if a Greek default would be the first in the history of mankind, or will trigger a "domino effect" of other nations defaulting.

When I think "domino effect", I tend to think of the 1960's Lie that if Vietnam fell to the Communists, all the nations in Southeast Asia would as well... It never occurred.  So I admit I'm highly skeptical every time some politician, media presstitute (a polite way of saying whore) or financier uses that term.

The financial and politically powerful act as if very few nations ever default on their debts and when doing so, the results are catastrophic...  Is that true?   Well.. take a look for yourself... (the following 3 timeline charts were created by the IMF in 2008 and originally posted on the finance blog CalculatedRisk) and then answer for yourself how "exceptional" sovereign defaults really are, and why our world leaders are such Bleeping Liars?

** Double click on each pic to enlarge to a more readable size **

Sovereign Defaults 1820-1920

Sovereign Defaults 1921-1980

Sovereign Defaults 1981-2003

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Americans bailout the world

Keeping this simple & sour (normally sweet but not really a 'sweet' topic')

Headline from Telegraph UK:  IMF may need billions in extra funding -- "The head of the IMF has warned that its $384bn (£248bn) war chest designed as an emergency bail-out fund is inadequate to deliver the scale of the support required by troubled states."

Why should Americans care?

Well, since the US basically created and runs the IMF, and  possess a super majority vote of 17.4% (all important decisions require 85% vote and other nations of world combined add up to 83.6% of the vote), that means 17.4% of all IMF funds come from the US i.e. the US Taxpayer.

So let's say the IMF says it needs another $500 Billion dollars to lend to nations that do not have the means to repay it, 17.4% equals..

Yes-- $87 billion US taxpayer dollars.

So when you hear or read about the IMF bailing out Greece, Ireland, Portugal or some other nation, and then that nation needing More & More money, and you think 'eh, who cares', understand you & I are bailing them out, not just some abstract entity.

Banking, Cash Reserve & being Pro-Active

I wanted to take a moment to write about something more relevant than commenting on the news of the day; to ask an important question both rhetorically and directly--  Why do you keep your money in a bank?

I am not asking this so I can pitch some hot stock tip or way to invest in some scheme.  Other than a deep distrust and disliking of banks, there's no agenda to the question posed..  So I will ask it again- sincerely.. Why do you keep your money in a bank?

I was discussing this question in a phone call with a relative yesterday.  She was expressing frustration at the extremely low interest she was receiving though she had a sizable amount of savings being held.  For privacy reasons, I won't specify how much was in her bank account, but her total interest on that savings after 9 months was $41.22, which would be just enough to take a date to Olive Garden, including drinks and tip.  To give perspective, if savings was paying at a 1% rate, she would have received $1,500 on her money thus far.

So what does she gain in return for keeping her money held in a banking institution?  Well, she gets the privilege of having limitations placed on how much cash she could access from an ATM machine in a given 24 hr period.  She also gets the 'honor' of being looked upon as a criminal if she ever withdrew more than a couple thousand dollars cash at a time.  And if her money was in a Money Market, she'd get to experience greater lack of control over her finances as her monthly withdraws would be limited to 2 or 3 per month.

In addition, she gets to help provide the bank she's using with the means to acquire greater amounts of profit off her money in two ways primarily.  First, let's say she had $10,000 in her checking or savings account (she has more but let's just use $10k), the bank takes that money along with every other customer's money and invests it in the stock market.  Sometimes banks will place the funds into their own coffers via buying their own stock.  Other times, they'll invest in riskier ventures like commodities or derivatives.   

Second, thanks to something called fractional reserve, for every $1 a bank holds of a depositor, it means they can lend out $10 to others.   So my family member's $10,000 would allow the bank to lend $100k.  She gets 0.01% (one-hundredth of one percent) interest off her money while the bank gets 4-9% interest profit off their lending.  That's equitable, right?

To be fair, she does get a few really super perks.  The tellers are always super friendly and always ask how she's doing, which is really nice. Also, there's always a bowl of lollipops or peppermints on the counter for her to take one of after she deposits more money.

So we talked on the phone a while, my relative and I, trying to explain why it was wrong to keep so much of her precious money in a bank.  She wasn't too open-minded at first..  well not until I explained what happens if the market crashes and the government declares a bank 'holiday'.  

As you know from the last couple weeks following A&G, the global financial system is very turbulent.  Markets going up and down in dramatic spikes... maybe its related to real news or maybe its rigged to be so volatile like in 2008.  There are many insider whispers I've been hearing which say the market will drop very hard between now and the end of October.  And if/when it does, the government will reflexively shut down the market meaning you can't get access to your money market or cash out CDs.   And if things ever got bad to the point the government had to shut down banks to prevent a run,  you are severely Fucked.  Cash will become king, at least until the banks reopen and more money is flooded into the market to smooth things over.

Every person should have ample cash reserves for such emergencies.  Even if they never ever happened, what did you really lose?  98 cents a month in interest??  I do not suggest closing a bank account.  We need banks to hold enough of our money to write checks to pay bills or use debit cards for things like food or gas where carrying large amounts of money on you is unsafe & unsound.

But I do also say in sincerely and seriousness, that people should be taking out cash now for emergencies- enough to be able to survive for a few weeks at least, if things ever get truly bad. Even a well-stocked person eventually runs out of supplies and you need cash to obtain items or services. The money can always be re-deposited if nothing bad ever occurs but really.. you the reader sense all is not well in the US and global economy, and it goes beyond simple recession vs recovery debate.  This autumn will probably be the most unstable since October 2008.

Some will read that and snicker and brush it off.  That is fine- in America, you're free to be a grasshopper to the very end.   Others will take pro-active steps, to ensure in a true worst-case scenario, they have the financial means to acquire the essentials to survive independent of whether a bank's doors are closed or open.

By the end of the conversation with my relative, she thanked me and said she would withdraw cash on Monday.  She expressed appreciation that I cared enough to make sure she'd be alright if an emergency occurred.  I told her that her 'Thank you' was my reward.

Friday, September 23, 2011

What are Mass Layoff Actions

Toward the beginning of every month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases its report of what official unemployment is.  The press reports it and if its positive, everyone trumpets it as 'recovery', and if its poor, its quickly ignored.

The BLS also releases other economic reports throughout the moth that give a good guide to the state of the nation in terms of the employment picture.  For instance, yesterday September 22, it released its monthly Mass Layoffs Summary.

When an employer lets go/fires 50 or more employees at one time, it is called a mass layoff action.  In July, there were 1,579 separate actions, meaning over 1,500 different employers dumped 50 or more workers at a given moment for their own economic benefit.  In August, the figure rose by 8 -- 1,587.  

Based on new applications for unemployment benefit insurance,  the August actions resulted specifically in 165,547 losing their jobs in August who were working in July.  Remember, this is not counting anyone who lost their jobs based on 49 or less people being fired by an employer at one time.

There Are solutions to combat the joblessness problem here in the US.  In fact we've specified in previous postings what needs to occur, most recently here: "Happy Market Day & How to Really Create Jobs"

http://ants-and-grasshoppers.blogspot.com/2011/09/happy-market-day-how-to-really-create.html

Problem is at its always been..  its really not in any political leader or corporation's incentive to do it.  Certainly a politician wants votes and logic dictates improved employment means re-election, but sometimes its not a question of giving people what they want and need, but instead 'When'.  Example:  In mid 1991, when Operation Desert Storm ended, President George Bush Sr. had an approval rating of 91%.  Yes... 91%.   And 12-15 months later he was defeated in 1992 by Bill Clinton, unable to muster even 40% of the votes in a 3-man race.  People forgot Desert Storm-- their focus was immediate concerns of the day.

If there's any chance of real job creation and improvement in the unemployment numbers (and really that depends a lot on whether we can economically survive the rest of 2011), expect it next year when both parties will be dangling jobs and prosperity like candy to babies... then expect those temporary jobs to disappear once again in 2013 when economic reality once more sets in.

And Friday goes out with a Fizzle...

I guess it was too much to hope for another 500pt market plunge.  The Deep, Cavernous Greed of Investors seeking 'deals' is too great to allow that to happen.  Since the stock market doesn't really affect the lives of everyday people as they wish us to believe,  I write what I write with no guilt.

Markets seemed to calm based on really nothing substantive- the G20 hurriedly rushed out a statement around 6a this morning saying the nations of the world were committed to getting ahead of the crisis and taking all necessary steps, yadda yadda. blah..blah..  Don't know why they stopped there-  G20 should have also written they were committed to ending all wars and hunger and suffering by 5p while they were at it.

Can you imagine how 'cool' that would be if everyday people could get away with such bullshit.  For instance, say you cheated on your spouse and he/she found out, was Furious and ready to leave, and all you had to do was write a note saying you were taking all necessary steps to ensure this would be corrected, and then all was magically well on the homefront?

To be fair though, its not that Investors really believed that empty crap the G-20 put out.  They just wanted any excuse to get back in the market.

 I read a quote from a frustrated Investor regarding yesterday.  I wish I could remember the source because I read so much but the gist was like this-- He was tired of all the fear and hysteria; the news from Greece, Europe itself and other global concerns.  He wanted less talk on recession and more focus on  promoting & bolstering stocks and sectors to get others to feel confident enough to put their money back into the market.

In other words, it was advantageous to him that people put their money into those shark-infested waters, and all this talk about recession, economic collapse and other Realities was bad for business.

Investors always get catered to.  They are the true 'Royalty' in the world.

What Investors want more than words is action, of course with the word "action" meaning for world governments and central banks to pour literally trillions of dollars, euros and other currencies to save Greece and other economically defunct nations in Europe, recapitalize the banks which are basically now bankrupt and make sure that 100% of Investors' investments are protected if any bank or nation does collapse, so they do not have to take any haircut or loss.   And oh yes, one last thing Investors want-- Fuck the populaces; the billions of people around the world in the process.

Weekend is now here..and while millions of people watch NFL football, English Premier and other "football" matches, go to movies and other leisurely distractions, the powers of the world will be working diligently to come up with another trick or scheme to keep the plates spinning.

The powerful never accept Defeat.

Did you know?

Did you know that the very first time in US history the Dow hit the 10,700 mark was on April 22, 1999 when the market closed at  10,727.

And did you know that basically, in a span of TWELVE years, Five months, and One day, the market closed with a +/- differential of +6 points.

* Yesterday, September 23, 2011, the Dow closed at 10,733.

And did you know if you had put your precious, hard-earned money into the market on April 22, 1999, and kept it there all this time, you would have exposed it to needless risk and volatile up/down swings for about 12 and a half Years...

And all for Nothing.

Answers in 50 or fewer words

Here's a new segment which I cleverly call "Answers in 50 or fewer words" because I will attempt to do just that; answer complicated or technical questions on markets, finance and/or national & global economy in just 50 or fewer words.  My palms are already sweating in anticipation..  Here we go:

Q:  Why should Americans care about Greece?

A: American taxpayers are subsidizing 18% of all IMF loans; money we will never see again.  Also, European banks are exposed to Greek debt. US banks sold them derivatives or "insurance" to cover losses but if Greece defaults, US banks can't cover all its liabilities to Europe.

Q:  With the market so full of turbulence, where's the best place to put my money?

A:  Under your mattress.  Maybe in a coffee can.  You get absolutely no interest keeping money in a bank yet thanks to fractional reserve, they can lend out $10 for every $1 of yours the bank holds.  Stock market?  Ha! Twelve years later, market at 1999 prices; no real growth.

Q:  Why won't CNBC, Wall St Journal, etc Admit things are bad?

A:  Doesn't suit their purposes. They need their viewers and readers to Always Be Investing.  If your life savings isn't tied into the market, you'll have no reason to stay glued, meaning less advertiser dollars.  Never expect financial media to cover the economy honestly.

Q:  Is there any part of the world not feeling the affects of the on-going recession?

A: Sure.  Mostly you can tell by a nation's unemployment rate.  Hong Kong is at 3.3% and Vietnam is 2.9%.  Those nations are doing quite nicely.

Q: How much of recession is Obama's fault?

A:  Bush is 100% at fault for there being a recession but Obama is 50% for it continuing.  Waited two years too late to introduce jobs program.  Too trusting of advice of Wall St insiders.  Too idolizing of Reagan's economic policies. Other 50% beyond his control.

Q:  How so... explain?

A:  The President has no control over the Fed.  Obama renominated Bernanke but ultimately Ben did as he wished. Also the economic collapse of PIIGS nations and European Union is not Obama's fault.  No one person alone can fix the rots of housing market.

Q:  Give it to me straight- how bad are things out there?

A:  Pretty bad.  If not for food stamp cards, millions would be on street in line for food. People living in tent cities (not covered on TV).  Real US unemployment over 17%.  One in six Americans in poverty.  Housing market is dead. Government only helps Wall St.

Q:  Anything people can do about it?

A: Save money; shop thrifty and practical.  Get politically and civicly involved. Pay off debts or avoid acquiring new debt. Don't invest money in market or other risky scheme. Cash is king.

~ Whew that was tough.. more 'Answers in 50 or fewer words' at a future time.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy Market Day & How to Really create jobs

~ If Mr Spock is smiling, you Know this is something Special

Been a good day in the Global Markets...

-391 pts dropped to 10,733 as of closing --  I told you so~

And we say the word "Good" because as much as the corporations and financial media tell you, the stock market does not affect lives of the bottom 80% as much as they like to pretend it does.  Let's put it this way-- they weren't hiring yesterday and if the market spiked 10,000 pts higher today, the corporations wouldn't start hiring next week.  So let them lose a lot of $$...

But don't worry market lovers- it will probably spike 800pts or something tomorrow because of all the "great deals" this created, or other hogwash.. (** I Swear to you- I have CNBC on for last hour as background noise, and it is a constant Hard Push to Buy! Buy!.. Bargains Galore.. Get your cash in the market Now!! Also teasers of government or bank interventions to help the markets... anything to keep the fucking Investor in the market -- its quite comical and SAD!)

The Liars in corporate media are saying the sell off is based on a "fear" of a double-dip recession.  Are you kidding?  A "fear" of one.  I guess when you're dealing with the same delusional people who believe that Greece's financial crisis is something new and surprising, this is par for the course, to use a cliche from a 'sport' I hate.

We said it before and will say it again.. the recession first began in December 2007.  It took President Bush 10 months to publicly and outwardly admit it (when he was pitching Congress to pass the original TARP).  The nation and most of the industrialized world has been in the Same recession without a real break for 45 months now.  When a recession occurs for 36 straight months, the official term is 'depression'.  Thus, in reality, we're living through one.

So why is it everyone says 'recovery'? We addressed this question before as well... A council of Harvard academics sat around a table in June 2009 and declared it.  And it was 'official' and people like happy endings.  In addition, this was done because when you inject 'recovery' into an ongoing financial calamity, it prevents the word 'depression' from being uttered.  You have recession #1, then an imaginary break, then recession #2 referred by with the cutesy term "double dip"--  Politicians like that much better, and admit it, don't you just think of delicious yummy ice cream when 'double dip' is uttered?

~ Mmmm.. doesn't that just look Delicious! And jimmies too..

I'm tired of the world catering to the markets.  They do not create well paying jobs.  Their sole fiduciary is to their stockholders, so no matter how much money is pumped into their coffers in the hopes they will create jobs and allow wealth to 'trickle down', they Won't!  US Corporations have collectively over $1.5 Trillion dollars sitting in banks and collecting interest which could be used to create employment.  But they won't and have Zero incentive to.

There are simple ways to create jobs that no politician seems to have the Guts to carry out:

1)  The government take a page from FDR and mass hire millions of workers in all fields- from engineering to teaching; from technology to the arts.  And this is key-- pay they a higher wage than what the private sector is paying.  Corporations must be Forced to raise their wages and not to cut them 15-25% as they have been to new applicants.

2) Use carrot/stick policies on corporations--  hire more people and we'll cut your corporate taxes and give other incentives.  You must hire First.  If you choose not to, the govt will raise taxes so high on you, that you'll wish you had hired your fellow citizens.

3)  I call it the "Nike" tax since I hate that company so much, though it would apply to all US based corporations-  if you are an American company, you must manufacture at least 20% of the totality of the products you sell in the US and using US labor do it.  If not, your merchandise will be excise taxed by 20-50% on top of what you're charging.  No longer can a company kill the American worker yet try to benefit from the American consumer.  The fees and fines collected would be used to provide grants and other assistance to American start-ups who would keep their manufacturing domestic.

Simple questions are sometimes best responded to with simple answers.

Q: Why is unemployment so high?
A: Business does not feel like hiring.
Q: Why?
A:It has no incentive.
Q:Why don't politicians do more?
A: Most (even Dems) cater to Wall St & believe in "trickle down"
Q: What will it take to fix things
A: 3 things- A government that increases hiring on its own, which forces businesses via economic bullying to start re-hiring again, and investment in upstart businesses and entrepreneurs who will create jobs of tomorrow but need financial assistance to get started.

Now that solutions are laid out, just gotta find a President to implement them.

Investors are like Children- never take their candy

Its 5am EST-- how are global markets reacting to Fed's "Operation Twist"?

Negatively it seems.  Stocks dropping world wide as investors aren't taking too kindly to Bernanke's honest assessment that basically the US economy is in trouble and there are no quick, easy fixes to improve things.

So markets are falling-- we say Good.  But let's move beyond that- why does a market usually drop?  There's two basic reasons- the first is simply a matter of profit-taking.  Investors may have bought into the market when stocks were undersold cheaply and then when the value reaches a certain point, they cash out, much like one does with chips at a casino.  This drops the market down and the investors take home nice profit at the expense of other Investors who stayed in the game a day too late.

There's also a second reason Investors leave the market and the best way to answer it, is to break down a very simple question.. What is it Investors want?  They want certainty.  That means no surprises.   They also want security-- the knowledge implied or explicit that their investments have full 100% protection of the nation they are investing in so as to never take a large loss.  Investors also want liquidity i.e. more money to be pumped into the market.  Like pouring water into a bucket, pouring money into the stock market lifts up the value of all the stocks, commodities and other investment opportunities, especially in the short term. It also helps to motivate and encourage more speculative investing.

Now usually in a normal circumstance, if you told Investors that the stock market was going to receive an injection of $400 Billion, they'd be peeing on themselves in anticipation to put their money into the market and reap the benefits.  But when you're accustomed to $1 Trillion (QE1) or even $600 Billion overlapped (QE2),  the $400 Billion kinda feels like table scraps.

Or to put it simpler, if I go to a restaurant and tip my server $100 after ordering a $10 meal and I do this a couple times, when the time comes that I tip $50 on the same $10 meal, which is still Extremely generous,  it is human nature that the server will feel disappointment and annoyance because he/she was behaviorally operant conditioned to expect to receive $100 each time I ordered a meal.

So instead of being grateful that the Fed Chair is willing to bend over backwards to accommodate their needs, the Investors globally are belly-aching because the size of the investment was Only $400 Billion.

Unless something dramatic or surprising happens today, expect the US markets to continue with the dramatic sell off today.  Because when spoiled "children" have tantrums when not getting their way, its usually not done mildly.

~ "I.. Want.. More.. MONEY!!"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

(Wonderful) Quote of the Day-- 9/21/11


"I hear all this, oh this is class warfare.. No! There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there — good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that maurauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory… Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea — God Bless! Keep a Big Hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along." -- Elizabeth Warren

~ I think I'm in Love..  lol

Running in Circles

So today, as widely expected and overtly hinted at by the Fed itself (it does everything humanly possible to leak out its intentions so not to ever spook the market), "Operation Twist" was announced which basically is the Fed will buy $400 billion of long-term Treasuries and sell an equivalent amount by the end of June 2012. The so-called Operation Twist will not change the size of the Fed's balance sheet but the duration of its Treasury holdings..

In other words it injects another $400 billion into the market temporarily without having to spend an additional $400 billion in new assets like it did with QE 1 & 2, so in a sense that is good news.

Here's how the NY Times described it: "The last time the Fed purchased long-term Treasuries was back in the 1960s during the Kennedy administration. The project, started in 1961, was called “Operation Twist.” It was intended to lower long-term interest rates (to stimulate investment) while propping up short-term interest rates (to attract capital from abroad and support the dollar). Economists generally seem to think the experiment flopped."

And the investors "loved" it so much, that from Bernanke's speech at 2p when markets were around yesterday's level, it Dropped -284 pts to close at 11,124.

Remember what we predicted last week-  Bernanke's announcement will either cause the market to spike up or dramatically fall based on our sarcastic example of Investors wanting 100 Zillion dollars and the Fed only giving 99 Zillion.    Obviously the cockroaches wanted more than $400 Billion.  QE1 was about a Trillion dollars and QE2 overlapped another $600 Billion.  So to them, $400 Billion seemed paltry.

All that hype and build up.. for Nothing.

We like giving comparisons when it comes to the market so people can truly see how Foolish and unwise it is to be investing in it.    On October 18, 2010, the stock market closed at 11,143.  And Today, just a little over 11 full months later, it ended at 11,124.   So if you locked up $10,000...  $50,000..  $100,000 of your precious money with the goal of investing and making a"killing", understand that for all the ups and downs of that period of time, the market pretty much ended today as it did 338 days ago and you probably will need to wait a bit longer to buy that dream yacht.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Repost: Panic of 1907 or Why Fed was created

 I'm asked many questions often by many people concerning the Federal Reserve.  Why was it created?  Why is it so powerful?  Why is it so evil? etc...   The first question can be answered in the posting below which addressed the Panic of 1907 which was the precursor for the creation of the Fed.   As to the other questions asked me, I will have to answer them more specifically in future posts.


The best way to read this post is not to get bogged down in every little detail I provide but to focus on a bigger picture- what was once the "backstop" if the markets collapsed actually became the cause of it, and the nation was very close to total economic collapse.  Also focus on the similarities between now and then.
________________________________________


This is the last of a 4 part series on the US history of Panics or depressions prior to the Great Depression '..   The other parts can be found below:

Panic Part I

Panic Part II

Panic Part III


Panic of 1907

This also known as the 1907 Bankers' Panic when the New York Stock Exchange fell close to 50% from its peak the previous year. There were numerous runs on banks and trust (commercial bank) companies.  The panic eventually spread throughout the nation when many state and local banks and businesses entered into bankruptcy. 

Primary causes of the run include a retraction of  market liquidity by a number of NYC banks and a loss of confidence among depositors, exacerbated by unregulated side bets at something called bucket shops (These specialized in stocks and commodity futures- bucket shops typically catered to customers who traded on thin margins. Most bucket shops refused to make margin calls, so that if the stock price fell even momentarily to the limit of the client's margin, the client would lose his entire investment.)


The crisis was triggered by the failed attempt in October 1907 to corner the market on stock of the United Copper Company.  When this bid failed, banks that had lent money to the cornering scheme suffered runs that later spread to affiliated banks and trusts, leading a week later to the downfall of the Knickerbocker Trust Co.—New York City's third-largest trust. The collapse of the Knickerbocker spread fear throughout the city's trusts as regional banks withdrew reserves  from New York City banks. Panic extended across the nation as vast numbers of people withdrew deposits from their regional banks.

The panic may have deepened if not for the intervention of financier J.P. Morgan, who pledged large sums of his own money, and convinced other New York bankers to do the same, to shore up the banking system.  At the time, the United States did not have a central bank (the current Federal Reserve) to inject liquidity back into the market.  Despite the infusion of cash, the banks of New York were reluctant to make the short-term loans they typically provided to facilitate daily stock trades.

Unable to obtain these funds, prices on the exchange began to crash on Thursday October 31.   Morgan summoned the presidents of the city's banks to his officeand  informed them that as many as 50 stock exchange houses would fail unless $25 million was raised in 10 minutes. And 10-15 minutes later, 14 bank presidents pledged $23.6 million to keep the stock exchange afloat.

 ~ JP Morgan

Although calm was largely restored in New York by Saturday, November 2, yet another crisis loomed. One of the exchange's largest brokerage firms, Moore & Schley, was heavily in debt and in danger of collapse. The firm had borrowed heavily, using stock from the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company  (TC&I) as collateral. With the value of the thinly-traded stock under pressure, many banks would likely call the loans of Moore & Schley on Monday and force an en masse liquidation of the stock.  If that occurred it would send shares of TC&I plummeting, devastating Moore and Schley and causing a further panic in the market.

In order to prevent the collapse of Moore & Schley, Morgan called an emergency conference at his library Saturday morning. A proposal was made that the US Steel Corp., a company Morgan had helped form through the merger of the steel companies of Andrew Carnegie and Elbert Gary, would acquire TC&I. This would effectively save Moore & Schley and avert the crisis.

 ~ JP Morgan as the Pied Piper

By then, J.P. Morgan was drawn into another situation. There was a major concern that the Trust Company of America and the Lincoln Trust could fail to open on Monday due to continuing runs. On Saturday evening 40–50 bankers had gathered at the library to discuss the crisis, with the clearing-house bank presidents in the East room and the trust company executives in the West room.  Morgan then entered the talks and told the trust companies that they must provide a loan of $25 million to save the weaker institutions. 

On Sunday afternoon it was worked out to  finalize the deal for U.S. Steel to buy TC&I and by Sunday night had a plan for acquisition. But, one obstacle remained: the anti-trust crusading President  Theodore Roosevelt who had made breaking up monopolies a focus of his presidency.  Roosevelt was implored to set aside the principles of the Sherman Antitrust Act and allow—before the market opened—a company that already had a 60% market share to make a massive acquisition. Roosevelt caved on his principles, relented, and allowed the merger to occur.  The final crisis of the panic had been averted.

~ Teddy Roosevelt

The result of the Panic of 1907 was the second-highest volume of bankruptcies to that date. Production fell by 11%, imports by 26%, while unemployment rose to 8% from under 3%. Immigration dropped to 750,000 people in 1909, from 1.2 million two years earlier.  The frequency of crises and the severity of the 1907 panic added to concern about the outsized role of J.P. Morgan which led to renewed impetus toward a national debate on reform.   Eventually in 1912, the Federal Reserve was born and would replace the 'trusts'.

~  It is interesting to see the similarities between this Panic and what happened in September, 2008-  Banks and financial entities acting irresponsibly...  over-emphasis on the importance of protecting the stock market.. closed door meetings and backroom deals amongst the powerful elite.. a President who betrays his principles out of fear of unknown..

**  History repeats.  This nation has a history of protecting banks, investors, commerce and Wall St.  And because of this loyalty and determination to protect these entities at all times, this nation has had over a dozen Panics, recessions, depressions and Great Depressions in our history.  And it will continue- indefinitely- as long as these interests are protected at All costs.