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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Faux outrage


We thought we wouldn't write anymore on this 'Trayvon' thing, especially since we're a finance blog by choice, but after being bombarded by silly hyperbole by pretend 'leaders', childish hoodie protests, evil, soulless celebrities posting personal home addresses of the alleged assailant and his parents on Twitter, and overall sensationalism of a news event that that has lived a life far longer than it deserves, we feel we must comment again...

Most agree with us that the whole Trayvon Martin rage is manufactured and contrived; whipped up into a frenzy by black activist leaders who do not represent their community as much as they wish to believe.

Most of our readers also agree that there's political motivations as well-- to galvanize the black community that has been largely ignored and taken for granted by Obama,  into an emotional lather so that they will be motivated to vote in masse in November for the President (96% voted in lockstep back in 2008).

Whatever it takes, right Mr President?

Of course some disagree with A&G on this as well which is OK.. we respect all opinions on this subject.

People tragically and needlessly are killed every day by firearms..  Adults.. the elderly.. children..   Every race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender have been senselessly murdered at the hands of another.  Sometimes its been specifically because of one's background.   Sometimes there's no connection whatsoever.
We came across this story this morning from Miami care of AP:

"Fourteen people were shot and two are dead in what may be one of the worst mass shootings in South Florida history. Police believe the shooting was gang related.  The shooting took place around 9 p.m. Friday night outside (a) funeral home. One person died on the scene while another died at the hospital.

"A 5-year-old girl was shot in the leg and hospitalized... along with eleven other victims. The girl is listed in stable condition... The shooting took place during a wake for 22-year-old Marvin Andre who died about two weeks ago while trying to evade police..."

We guarantee that the Triad of Racial Division Peddlers- opportunist Rev. Jesse Jackson, slimy Rev. Al Sharpton and hate-filled kook Louis Farrakhan will not utter a single word on this publicly or privately. Doesn't even matter that a small child was shot..

Yes, We Guarantee it.


Why?

1)  The victims of the violent crime were black but the assailants responsible were black as well.   Hard to milk something for maximum PR when there's no Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian or religious minority to blame

2)  It was gang related.  Those 3 morally bankrupt men rarely if ever speak out on gang violence.

Hopefully this story will fade away in another week.  Some other piece of faux-news or mindless fluff to take its place to distract people from a reality that very few wish to acknowledge-- that the real world economy of the bottom 99% is getting worse, not better.  And all the trillions upon trillions spent to keep everything afloat and the bankers wealthy, will have to be re-paid at some point.

And the austerity will be needlessly painful.

But who cares about all that or anything else germane to day-to-day economic survival, as long as the alleged shooter of Trayvon gets lynch-mob 'justice', yes?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Students Alone w. Student Loans

We always find it funny how long it takes something newsworthy to finally enter the mainstream media conglomerate subconscious and become officially "news".   Or course the not-funny-at-all irony is how short an attention span the news has to covering an event, leaving it in the mind of viewers and readers to believe "problem solved!"

So glad the Darfur killings magically stopped, the Libyan people are still joyously dancing in the streets since American /NATO forces assassinated its leader, and the US economy is so strong and vibrant, that if you're still struggling and/or not employed, its sooo obvious its your fault, thus you're a Loser.

This week's media faux concern is student debt, which crossed the magical mark of $1 trillion in outstanding debt owed.   Now when it was $900mill, that was just so uninteresting to talk about..  But $1 Trillion--  oooh.. now there's a number

Here's some basic statistics on the situation:

*  Among all borrowers, the median amount owed is $12,800

*  67% of all borrowers are betw 18-37, though there's a growing number of middle aged people let-go from jobs, unable to find employment and going back to school to acquire a different degree

*  NY Federal Reserve believes that more than 25% of all borrowers with due loans are now delinquent on some of their payments.
And here's what the Crap News Network (CNN) wrote to ally fears in a deceitful headline entitled "Debunking the Student Loan Crisis":

"Total student loan debt has topped $1 trillion ... but there's no need to panic.  Most borrowers have a reasonable amount of debt, and the total balance is not likely to cause major damage to the economy like the mortgage crisis did, experts say."

"I don't think it's a bubble," said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Finaid.org, a financial aid website. "Most students who graduate college are able to repay their loans." -- CNN/Money

No need to panic folks.. Move along..Everything's under control..

Amazing the lazy and Shoddy journalism--  treating an insider who makes his living by financially profiting off giving financial aid, as an unbiased 'expert' worthy of quoting.

Could spend all day attacking CNN but we'll move on..

If all the debt a young person possessed in the world was that median $12,800 and he/she found work in a relatively reasonable time, then sure, that debt load isn't that big a deal...

Of course we all know life is not that inexpensive to live it.
First, we decided to look up the cost of attending state run universities at various locations around the country.  For this example, we'll focus on in-state tuition fees only, and not look at out-of-state which is usually 3x more, room/board or additional student fees.

-- An Alabama resident wishing to attend the University of Alabama for 1 semester will pay $4,300.  Over a full year, its $8,600 and assuming there's no increases in tuition over the next few years (Yeah, right!), an undergrad student will need to come up with $34,400 to finish obtaining a degree in 4 years.

-- An Ohioan attending Ohio State would be paying $9,711 for a year of tuition.  Multiply it by 4 years and that student will need $38,844

-- A California resident attending UCLA will spend $11,220 for 1 full year.   To obtain a 4 year degree, a student needs to come up with $44,880.

Now unless a student has a sugar daddy or mama to pay the tab, he/she will need student loans to pay most or more realistically All of the tuition.   Based on those three examples alone, that median figure of $12,800 sure does seem low doesn't it?
~ Girl 1: "Thousands in debt, a worthless diploma & no jobs.. ugh.."
   Girl 2: "Aww, cheer up.. there's always stripping"

Next, the so-called 'experts' don't take into account financial debts achieved via car loans or credit card repayment, or the basic costs of a young adult to live and survive-- rent, food, etc.

When someone is making $10-12/hr at one of those shitty jobs we mentioned in a previous posting; the dead-end go nowhere jobs that small business owners are annoyed that people aren't jumping over fences to apply for, it really makes it difficult to make ends meet.

Now let's expand a moment on how much it really costs someone to pay back student loans-- the ONLY debt which will NEVER EVER be discharged from a bankruptcy unless student is permanently disabled or dies.  We will use the University of Alabama tuition as our example:

Four years of tuition at Alabama -- $34,400

Let's say interest rate on the loans is 3.5% which is super low, and 10 years to pay it back, which is the standard length of time once the six month post-graduation forbearance kicks in:

Your monthly payment would be $340.17 for the next 120 months, and by the time you paid off that debt (assuming you could), the total repayment would come to $40,820.09.   You would have spent $6,420.09 in interest alone.
~ "So much debt.. how to repay??  Las Vegas here I come!!"

Let's take it a step further:

To your surprise and shock, you can't find immediate work in the field to which you spent 4 years of your life and thousands in debt to get that degree.   So you're forced to take one of those shitty $10-12/hr jobs in the interim simply to make ends meet.

How much would a $10/hr job pay for 40hrs/wk over a 4wk month?

$10 x 40hrs/wk x 4 wks = $1,600

$1,600 minus 15% for taxes = $1,360 for the month

Take that $1,360 - $340.17 for the student loan, and you get to keep:

$1,019.83 which is kinda like making $6.37/hr for you to keep

And when you subtract the cost of renting, paying a vehicle loan, auto insurance, food, etc.. you're lucky if you have $20 at the end of the month.

Is that how you want to live?
So what is the answer?

First, it has to be said as openly and plainly as possible, that not everyone should be striving to go to college.  It is not like it was 40 or even 20 years ago... Everyone goes..  Everyone has degrees in something and when you apply for jobs, the degree becomes even more unexceptional.

So really a person has basically 4 choices to survive & succeed:

1)  Only attend college if you're pursuing a degree in an area that is growing & expanding and there will be jobs-a-plenty-- these include healthcare/elderly care, criminal justice, and accounting.

2)  Skip traditional 4 year learning institutions and go the vocational route.  Learn to fix automobiles, plumbing, air conditioning/heating, carpentry/roofing,  etc...  Any job that can not be outsourced easily because it requires immediate hands-on labor.

3)  Take the $$ you would have spent on a worthless degree and become an entrepreneur.  Start your own business.  Or take the money you borrow and become your own bank i.e. lend the $ to others with contracts and other re-payment protections like the real banks do, etc.   This isn't for everyone.. some simply don't possess the natural skill to hustle so know who you are before you do this option.

4) Focus on working first & gaining valuable experience, and get the college degree only if you have to or when its needed.
For example, in many companies like fast food places, supermarkets and car rental agencies, they'll hire you straight out of high school and you can work your way up the ladder.  Once you hit your ceiling, if a degree is required to enter management level, at least you will know specifically what you need to achieve your goals vs 4 years of floating aimlessly while partying and lushing.  In addition, some companies will pay for you to attend college if you show to be a loyal and valuable asset and worthy of being invested in.

Any other choice between the 4 listed above, and you're setting yourself up for a decade at minimum of financial pain and suffering in this morbid real world economy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Worthless Employers

We ran across an interesting article on CNN/Money today entitled 'I Have Jobs, but No One Wants Them',

Amazing... as absurd and offensive a header as a heartless out-of-touch corporate news media conglomerate could use.   It both implies and overtly states that there are jobs-a-plenty in this Glorious Obama-led Recovery Revolution, and if you're not working by now, you're 'obviously' a bum, moocher, lazy layabout or other form of social dreg.

In the CNN/Money article, they give examples of small business owners who are bitching and bemoaning that they want to hire people but simply can't find anyone willing to take their jobs.  So we're going to re-post in quotes from the article, and then provide in blue font, an honest, blunt interpretation.  Because it is not necessary to reprint their full names and businesses, we'll just use abbreviations...

Example #1

Owner: D.G.
Company: Tutoring
Location: New York City
Annual revenue: projected to be $600,000 this year

"We have four full-time employees, and 500 tutors who are contractors. We want to hire more. Many of our tutors come straight out of college.

We start them out at $25 to $50 an hour based on location, travel time and complexity. We can't pay more, because we do not want to charge our clients more. Our price point makes us competitive."

~ The owner says he wishes to hire more.  Hire more what--  Full time employees?   He doesn't say, so its safe to assume he's looking to hire more contractors.   $25-$50/hr sounds like a good salary...  IF its a full time position.  Now if its contracting i.e. part time, and tutors usually work 10-15hrs a week, then really what he's offering is the equivalent of a second job.  


In addition, because contracting means 'independent contractor', it means the company does not have to pay medical benefits.   Health insurance, usually hundreds of $$/month is on the shoulders of the worker.   Deduct that expense alone and making $250-$600/wk doesn't sound so super in comparison to a standard 40/hr position with benefits provided.
Example #2

Owner: M. J. F.
Company: Composites
Location: Manitowoc, Wis.
Annual revenue: $7 million

"We're a small business manufacturing custom thermoset composite moldings. We run our factory 24 hours a day, four days a week and sometimes on Friday.

Lately, we have had to lock our front office doors. People receiving unemployment benefits are required to show that they have put some effort into finding work. Some show up at our offices to fulfill this requirement -- usually on a Friday. So we lock our doors to avoid them. We've resorted to only hiring people who have worked 90 days for a temporary staffing agency.

We have about 60 employees and are looking to hire four more. The jobs are entry-level press operator jobs. They are not difficult... we offer a competitive wage: $8.50 to $9.50 an hour.

But many people add up their constantly renewed unemployment, food stamps and housing assistance and realize that they can make as much not working, as working.  We could raise wages to $100 an hour, fill the positions and then go out of business, taking all our jobs with us."
~  First off, this guy is an Asshole.  We're being honest right?  So its got to be said.. 100% Grade-A Asshole.  


OK, let's get beyond that..  He complains he can't find workers yet he locks his offices on Fridays to prevent people from applying.  Hmm..  And Why?  He acts as if those coming to his door only want to fulfill a requirement to get more government 'handouts'.  Truth is, the Prick does not want to hire anyone out of work.  He resents them getting benefits yet won't consider them for employment.  That is why he only will consider people who are temps for 90 days or more.


See how employers talk out of both sides of their mouths?


Continuing.. This owner is very proud to offer $8.50 to $9.50/hr and his rationale is that the work isn't difficult so why should he offer more.  $8.50 is only $1.25 more per hour than absolute base minimum wage.  Its a salary teenagers who've not yet completed a high school diploma receive for working at fast-food restaurants and bagging groceries.   


The owner also says his factory runs 24hrs a day..  OK, so lets say a person is working the graveyard shift and making $9.50/hr x40hrs/wk x 52 weeks in a year.. that equals $19,760.  Then deduct 15% for Income taxes..  So that is a grand total of $16,796 for a year's labor. 


Maybe instead of offering $100/hr as he sarcastically put it, he could offer prospective employees $12-$14/hr?  Nahh.. would cut too much into profits..
Example #3

Owner: D. B.
Company: Merchant Services
Location: Downers Grove, Ill.
Annual revenue: $5 million

"(We are) a credit-card processing company. We have 72 employees and are looking to hire 45 to 50 salespeople.

But we are finding people don't even show up for the interview. Or people come for the training, but don't stay for the job.

We hosted a job fair where we hired 40 people. Twenty-five showed up for training. Only two lasted more than a couple of weeks. People work for three months and get themselves fired so they can collect unemployment for another year.

We've raised wages from $12 per hour to between $15 and $18 per hour plus commission, meaning a salesperson starts between $24,000 and $38,000. An employee can make up to $80,000. We've found people do work harder for more money. But their training, which used to take 30 days, now requires 90 in order to prepare them to make the higher numbers."
~  If you do the math, and take the low number of $15/hr x 40hrs/wk x 52 wk/yr, it comes to $31,200.   Yet the woman says salary starts at $24,000.  That's a discrepancy of $8,200.    So what does that mean?  It means while she's whining about how hard it is to get workers, the jobs being offered are more commission-based than she wished to admit.


It states she has 72 employees.  But that's not who she's looking to hire.  She wants salespeople.   These are subtleties but it makes a big difference, and once again shows how disingenuous these business owners are.


Commission based jobs offer little to no job security.  The only profession more transient for people is seeking work in the profession of acting.  There are very few jobs more cold, cut-throat and 'what have you done for me lately?' than a commission-based job.  And frankly, most are not cut out for the pressure and stress which those types of jobs induce.


She mentions that only a couple of employees lasted a few weeks out of 25 or so who made it through training and that her business is a credit-card processing company.   So how does one make commissions from that?   Are they expected to cold-call other merchants to offer Visa/Mastercard, when virtually all businesses already use credit-card transactions, or are they expected to go door-to-door like vacuum cleaner salespeople? 
Example #4

Owner: J. A.
Company: Finance
Location: Miami
Annual revenue: $1.9 million

"(We) provide U.S. government agencies with financial services, such as payroll. We are experiencing difficulty hiring qualified people who have Department of Defense secret clearance and financial expertise.

Since the Patriot Act was passed, the time frame to get a clearance went from 90 days to nine months. While we conduct in-house due diligence, the 32-page trust application is forwarded to government agencies, such as the FBI, NSA, etc., and costs the firm upwards of $25,000 per candidate.

If a criminal record, psychological issue, poor credit or other problem, comes up, a candidate could be disqualified. we then eat the due diligence costs.

Without proper staffing, we work longer hours, nights and weekends included. We have to if we don't want to lose business. We have six employees and wants to hire five more. By adding qualified representatives, we project tripling our revenues.

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan conclude, we are more optimistic about getting qualified people. Former military applicants have held or can get security clearances. We find they make excellent representatives for our company. Having been in harm's way, they are very disciplined and mature."
~ If the owner wants to blame someone for his difficulty finding employees, blame the US Government for demanding such intricate background checks that are costing you $25k per person, and blame the Government for its intrusive & unconstitutional Patriot Act.  Don't blame those out of work.


In addition, why should 'poor credit' be a barometer as to who you hire or don't.  All that should matter is education, work history, criminal and psychological background.  Someone's FICO score or timeliness in paying a bill should have nothing to do with acquiring any kind of position.


The last part of his tale was the most pathetic.. He can't wait for the soldiers to return home from Iraq & Afghanistan because spending years in service, stripped of their personality and individuality,and exposed to physical, emotional and psychological stress on a non-stop basis, makes for "excellent representatives" for his company.  And according to the owner, this will allow him to triple his revenue.


God how we hate Employers!
So in summary, what to take from all this?

1) If you're unemployed, unless you simply make zero sincere effort, it is not your fault.  Repeat:  It is Not your fault.  There really are few quality jobs out there that allow someone to have a basic standard of life.  And if you are fortunate to find something decent, you better assume your boss is going to be a complete Bitch or Bastard, and make you work as hard as possible with threat of firing always dangled over your head.

2)  Employers are in la-la land.  They want quality employees yet wish to offer bottom-dirt salary or a commission-based employment.  To them, the recession was a good thing-- it was a perfect excuse to fire workers making too good a salary and eating into their profits, and now those same people are supposed to be crawling back and happy to accept 15-25% reductions in pay and/or benefits.

Yet they're not crawling back, or not as great in numbers as the employers would like... so they're pissed.   Bitter, frustrated and will raise their salary offer begrudgingly and through gritted teeth.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Taking from Peter to pay Peter

~ Greek Finance Min. Venizelos-- one disgusting man; inside & out

Greece...

We know, we know.. we promised no more Greece unless it defaulted in a disorderly fashion or something from that nation affected people beyond its borders.

Still, when we came across this information, we had to pass it along,  if for no other reason to show how utterly disgusting the financial elites and especially the Greek leaders are.

By now, Greece should have defaulted-- it should have been disorderly, chaotic and sent massive ripples through the financial world.  It should have resulted in the first genuine loss that banks, investors and other financial rats felt in 40 months since Lehman Bros. collapsed.

But like all things political, outcomes were manipulated through closed door deals, secret handshakes and outright chicanery.  It was able to blackmail its investors into accepting bond swaps resulting in 70% losses, and keep the can-a-kicking... Greece saved!

But how did Greece come up with the money needed to pay off its bondholders for the remaining 30%?  Did it increase its tax revenue miraculously or expand its global exports?

Of course not..
Greece's Finance Minister Venizelos, who was the one who negotiated the bond swap, paid the difference by secretly removing 70% of major hospital, utility and University bank account funds to pay the bondholders.  And did this without asking the depositors of the Treasury accounts.

No biggie.

From HealthNews (Greece):

"Many hospitals, university directors and other organizations were astonished to discover that the government was responsible for the disappearance of 70% of the money interest-bearing accounts maintained with the Bank of Greece. These accounts had nothing to do with bonds, interest bearing bank accounts was who "entered" grants and "coming out" drawings for the costs of organizations.

"The "bondholders" are thus spared the haircut, while robbed hundreds of millions of euros (one source estimates 1.4 billion) from hospitals, universities and other organizations needed to completely maintain the basic function."

Greece's leadership is total filth.. but understand- they are not the only nation who does deceptive practices to hurt its people for the sake of banking and financial interests.  We in the US do it too.. its called Social Security.

Back in the early 1980s, President Reagan signed a law to increase Soc. Sec taxes so that there'd always be a surplus of funds for the elderly and those who paid into the system.  Of course, very quickly, Reagan, like Every single President since him, uses the Soc Sec fund as a sorta 'borrow now, pay later'-like slush fund.  Really no different than the "Give a penny, Take a penny" jar you find at your local convenience store.
Of course Reagan, the 2 Bushes, Clinton & Obama don't simply take mere pennies and they conveniently forget to put the $$ back later on. Sometimes they even help to quicken the draining of the Soc Sec fund by giving payroll tax breaks so people will have a couple extra dollars in their pockets now vs 10x the amount later on in exchange for feeling good about the current incumbent.

This is why even though we as a nation pay more in Soc Sec taxes than 30 years ago, the fund is running a deficit.   The excuse that more and more baby boomers are retiring is simply  a way to deflect blame from the politicians onto you..

'If you 55-70yr olds would die quicker, there'd be more revenue for others'

But we digress..

The economy-- both domestically and globally is in bad shape.  And as long as baddies can delve into their magic bag of tricks and schemes, and delay problem-solving until after elections, we're all going to suffer in our quality of living, even as we're told things are better during every step of our downfall.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Windmills of Economics Experts' Minds

~ Round n Round the windmill goes-- Where it stops, only the 'experts' know

Let's say you turned on your local news for the weather forecast-- she/he says it will be 75deg and sunny.  In reality, its 55deg and cloudy.  Then the next day, she/he says it should be 72 and a light drizzle.  The weather ends up being 60deg with hard rains and wind...

Question:  How long before you stop believing and/or going to that source?

In the lovely and evil world of finance, its much similar--  every month so-called 'experts' give inaccurate expectations based on data they've glossed over; opinions which are treated by politicians, investors and lazy media as valid.  If the projections are high, then the media runs with it until reality shows the numbers aren't quite so good.  Then they spin the optimistic yarn of gradual recovery.

If projections are low, simply make them appear to be much worse so you get the bounceback of 'bad' numbers that look good in comparison to the expectation.  And thus the smoke & mirrors act of economic 'recovery' can continue to be played...

Either way, the 'experts' who predict what the jobs, housing and economic growth reports are each month proven to be worthless

Last week we demonstrated this truth through how bad new housing was for February compared to how it was being spun by media and government.  (http://ants-and-grasshoppers.blogspot.com/2012/03/real-estate-pollyanna-poppycock.html)

Here's part 2:

When it came to pending home sales for February, the 'experts' expressed a hope of 1.0% gain.  National Association of Realtors Chief Economist and Paid Liar, Larry Yun stated beforehand that,  "The spring home buying season looks bright because of an elevated level of contract offers so far this year"

For some reason, reading that, we thought of that 80's one-hit wonder song that went, "The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades.."

So what was the official data for Feb.?

-0.5% growth in pending home sales.

Combine the two figures, and the experts were off by 1.5%   It doesn't seem like a big number but it shows a continued trend of housing weakness and no amount of boldfaced lying by the NAR and others with economic and political agendas to see housing rise out of the blue, is going to change things.

January's data saw a spike due to unusually warm winter weather especially in the Northeast US..  Wonder if that warm weather will be turned into the scapegoat for a poor February?

Tomorrow, Case-Schiller will be posting its data on average home prices.  So far it has gone down for 7 consecutive months..   Sure seems like it will go down an 8th?
It really is amazing how genuinely stupid people are in the professions of finance or housing. They should know better-- it is their livelihood after all, but are utterly clueless to the point that they snap up any piece of pollyanna positive string cheese dangled & drizzled over their snouts.  Then again, making money isn't about knowledge as much as its the perception of having it.

This is from CNBC.. it explains that March is looking to be a bad month for housing, but notice how the thoughts are expressed in such a way that everyone is shocked and surprised (when no one should be):

"Housing was charging back. Spring sprung early. Sentiment among home builders doubled in six months. Any talk that the fundamentals might not be supporting the sentiment was met with harsh criticism. And then suddenly it wasn’t. A slew of new housing data last week disappointed the analysts and the stock market, and all of a sudden you started to hear concern that maybe housing wasn’t exactly in a robust recovery.

"From home builder sentiment to housing starts, to home builder earnings right through to sales of newly built homes, there was not one hopeful headline in any of it...  An email from a Realtor in New Jersey: “Just reviewed March buyer clicks, Google’s analytics on all the sites we monitor – March is turning out to be the weakest month since last October ""

When you think of economics, think of basic physics.  A windmill isn't simply going to move without some kind of force or exertion from something-- wind, gravity, a person touching or blowing upon it, etc...  Without that force, no amount of wishing, hoping, praying or Jedi-mind trick is going to make that windmill spin.
Economics is the same.  If housing is to ever improve, there has to be policy that provides force for such movement.   Sure, interest rates are all-time low, but they're staying low for a Longggg time thanks to Fed policy.  So when a "sale" price goes on indefinitely, what is the impetus for someone to buy today vs tomorrow or next year?

If housing is ever to fully recover, four things need to occur simultaneously:

1)  Mortgage restructuring combined with partial debt forgiveness for underwater and struggling homeowners, and closing costs on restructuring, must be reasonable

2)  Credit requirements must be weaken.  We know people will say that's why we got in this mess-- people buying houses they're not able to afford.   No.   What happened was mortgage lenders didn't care what the borrower's credit history or income was because the mortgages were to be sold off to others the second the ink dried from the lendee's signature.  This goes to point #3..

3) There was no risk on lenders, and thus no incentive to exercise caution.  Legislation would need to be enacted to place a good deal of risk back upon the initial lenders even if they swap out the mortgages again.  And vitally of importance, that the banks and other lenders understand that future bailouts on losses is not possible. If they collapse, fine.  And if it threatens the national economy, they'll be Nationalized then broken up into little banks.

Welcome to real Capitalism-- sink or swim on your own.

4)  Lowering of minimum amount to buy a home.  It used to be around 3% deposit we believe prior to the real estate crash.  Now we think its 10-15%.   Most people do not have that much cash accessible to put on a house and its slowing the ability of people to acquire a home, thus pushing them into renting.
In order for sellers to retain a fair market value when selling their home, their needs to be more real buyers, not carpetbaggers and professional distressed home purchasers who offer pennies on the dollar.   And in order for real buyers to be created, they have to know there's a good chance they'll be approved and without every penny in their nest egg going into the deposit.

There is no housing recovery because government, like with jobs/unemployment, have done Absolutely Nothing to sincerely try to fix the problem beyond keeping the current system as is.  Until that changes, there will be no change in the real economy.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Politicalization of a Killing

Warning: This posting is a bit on the morbid side and not really about anything concerning economics or finance. Instead,  the focus is on killings by firearms in the US; specifically the killing of a young black man in central Florida last month that seems to have the the black community riled and the President feeling the need to specifically comment upon it.

This isn't a gun-control debate and we're not going to play amateur detective and analyze the facts of that incident.  And we're certainly not going to even dignify the race-whipping frenzy being stirred up by black ministers and politicians except one example that really stood out as pathetic...

Philadelphia's Mayor Michael Nutter who is black, called the killing "an assassination".  Quite a politically charged word.  And yet in 2011, Philly had the Highest Per-Capita Murder Rate In U.S..  Perhaps every killing there was 'assassination' too, yet Mr Mayor didn't call out the dozens of others which Frequently take place in the City of Brotherly Love.

This posting is meant to call out the hypocrisy of media and others using that young man's killing for their own nefarious purposes.

The killing of one individual, tragic as it may be, is not an isolated case of homicide in an otherwise supposed safe & peaceful USA.   And the enormity of coverage is not deserving.
The killing took place around late February.  So, we decided to go on Google News and keyword the phrase "shot to death" to see what we'd uncover..  here's a mere sampling, all within the last 7-8 days..

*  "A 25-year-old Morrisville (PA) man was shot outside his apartment late Saturday night and died hours later, Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler said Sunday... shot with a handgun at close range by a man in a gray hoodie at the Pennsbury Court Apartments, Heckler said."  (Philly.com  3/25/12)

*  "The shooting death of a 21-year-old Mississippi State University student in a campus dorm room is thought to be an "isolated incident," and there is no indication others are endangered, the school's president said Sunday. Campus police were notified about 10 p.m. Saturday of an incident" (CNN  3/25/12)

*  "A mother and her 12-year-old daughter were found shot to death Friday in their home on Water Oaks Cove, MS and the father was in Ocean Springs Hospital in critical condition." (Sun-Herald.com  3/23/12)

*  "Police are searching for two men who were involved in the fatal shooting of a driver stopped at a red light in south Houston on Saturday." (Houston Chronicle  3/24/12)

*  "22-year-old man was fatally shot at a Far South Side liquor store Saturday evening, police said, and a 46-year-old man was killed about 45 minutes later. At least six others were shot on the South and West sides overnight."  (Chicago Tribune  3/24/12)

*  "Investigators say a woman was shot to death early Sunday as she sat outside her own home in South Ozone Park, Queens and police are still searching for the shooter."  (NY1.com  3/18/12)

*  "A man was killed Sunday after he came to the defense of his father, who was being pistol-whipped by two armed robbers in a strip mall parking lot in Lynwood, CA.  (KTLA.com  3/20/12)

And on and on and on...
And yet this one young man's death in central Florida gets national attention and stirs up passions that are lacking in countless other murders that occur daily in this nation??

Where's the "hoodie" march in support of the driver murdered in his/her car while at a stop light??

Where's Obama's indignation at the death of a woman merely sitting outside her porch and not bothering a soul??

Why is Rev. Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan and Jesse Jackson, that disgusting Triad of Race Opportunists not screaming for justice over the man who died brutally in defense of his father?  Because he was of Arab descent instead of Black?!!

If life has value and is precious, then ALL life has value and is precious.  Doesn't matter the race of the victim.. Or nationality.. Or religion.. or whether its a celebrity or everyday person...

And if one person's cold blooded murder is tragic and provokes tears, and rage enough to provoke the lynch mob mindset in a community, then ALL senseless killings should elicit those emotions in others.

ALL!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Real Estate Pollyanna Poppycock

Ah, the end of a rather uneventful week.. 

Time for more pollyanna poppycock dissecting..

The Commerce Department released its monthly housing report on New Home Sales today.  Here's how Reuters, those Fudging Fudgers reported things:

"New single-family home sales fell in February, but a jump in prices to their highest level in eight months kept hopes alive of a recovery in the housing market... sales slipped 1.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted 313,000-unit annual rate. January's sales pace was revised down to 318,000 units from the previously reported 321,000 units.  Sales for November and December were revised up a bit."

Did you catch that?

See how the negative information was both glossed over and minimized?  How the paragraph finishes with a nice happy ending?

If it was music, it would 'sound' like this..

Buh ba buh And Duh da duh.. BUT.. La La La-La LA LAAA~

Here's what really is going on..  

Against an expectation of a +1.3% gain in February, new home sales fell -1.6% month over month.  So its not simply that homes 'fell' but the differential between "expert" prediction and reality was a drop of 2.9%

Then there's January's data-- that ended up being revised to a massive 5.4% drop month over month.  This is the largest drop in 13 months and the largest downward revision since March 2009.

Reuters also wrote that, "The inventory of new homes on the market was unchanged at a record low 150,000 units last month. At February's sales pace it would take 5.8 months to clear the houses from the market, up from 5.7 months in January."

5.8 months from 5.7 months... how harmless.. 1/10th of a month..

We usually shy away from charts and graphs but...
This is a chart showing new one family homes for sale in the US..  shaded areas on the timeline indicate US recessions. Technically, the chart is in error because the latest recession shading stops at 2009 when in reality it should be shaded into the present and Far beyond...

We are at the very bottom right graph point-- 150,000 New Homes.  Its the lowest since the Department of Commerce started keeping track in the early 1960s..  The lowest Ever.   

In 1964, the US population was 194 million.  Today its 310 million.

With an increase of 116 million people in that span,  over 75k less new homes are being built today vs 1964..  Also compare the number with around 2006-07 when there were around 550k new homes available for sale.  

What does that mean?  1)  There's a housing glut-- too many homes available to purchase, which is causing 2) Housing i.e. building of homes is in a rut; a continual never-ending crawl, which means 3) There is no housing recovery beyond what the government and media is propagandizing.

Wish there was a housing recovery.. a Real one.. but..

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How to properly "blast"

For us at A&G,  it used to be one of the most challenging aspects for this blog was figuring how to take mainstream news mis-information, complicated gobbletygook terminology and endless stats & graphs, charts etc.. and present it in a manner that was both informative and understandable to all while being respectful to the readers' intellect.

Currently one of our biggest challenges is to avoid constant repetition.

Economically, the US and globally is in one big holding pattern.  No different than a plane being prevented to land yet can't go anywhere else but in circles. Eventually that plane runs out of gas and comes down to earth one way or another.

And economies with massive debt who do nothing to alleviate the problems or set up tougher legislation to prevent future financial criminality, end up the same way.

So, today's focus is less on economics and more on word choice.

Specifically, how the media treats its viewers and readers as complete utter imbeciles by choosing emotional words to draw people into a story which exaggerate the news-blurb's intensity.

You're probably most aware of this in sports..  "Eagles thrash Redskins 42-21".. "Manchester United buries Newcastle 2-0", etc..

Its also done in practically every news item you read but more subtle.

~ Afterwards, they laid in bed and shared a cigarette...

We did this exercise once before a year ago and will do it again-- For "fun" we looked up the word "blasts" on Google News to see what we'd come up with.   We were not interested in articles on explosions, fire or any context where the word was correctly used; only to describe one person or entity expressing verbal anger at another person or entity.

Before we begin, here are some made-up examples of what Real blasts are in terms of the context of criticism:  "Jane Jones blasted politicians as corrupt, immoral dogs"... "Sid Smith blasted golf for being called a sport, referring to it more as 'an activity for very heavy, old men'"...  And so on..

A blast, whether the opinion be correct or mistaken has some venom to it; some Bite.  Its the type of comment prone to offending both its intended recipient and those who may read and/or overhear.

OK.. now using examples from news, finance, sports and entertainment within the last week, this is how the media uses the word when writing a story:

Joe Namath Blasts New York Jets Pursuit Of Tim Tebow -- "Joe Namath offered scathing criticism of the New York Jets' decision to trade for quarterback Tim Tebow... "I do not agree with this situation... I can't agree with it... I really think it's wrong. I can't go for it." (Huffington Post)

~  That's "scathing??"
NY lawmaker blasts NJ governor on counterterror--  "New York Congressman Peter King says New Jersey's governor should show more gratitude toward the New York City Police Department for its counterterrorism work... "I think, in this case, Governor Christie was letting his personal feelings get in the way of protecting us against terrorism... He should be welcoming New York City and anyone else who wants to come in or out of his state, work with them and cooperate with them.." (AP)

~ This is not a 'blast'- its mild criticism mixed with suggestion

Arnold Palmer blasts absent stars -- "The Arnold Palmer Invitational is scheduled to begin on Thursday at Bay Hill... but (some) of the world's top six, have opted not to take up the invitation to play, "I'm disappointed they are not here" the seven-time major winner told reporters." (Clubcall.com)

~ You kidding me? Expressing disappointment is now a 'blast'?!

All this may seem quite trivial but understand the bigger picture- if the media is willing to go out of its way to sensationalize and distort harmless, trivial news blurbs to give appearance of something which is not,  imagine how they treat information that is truly important and relevant to your lives.
Every super-rosy pollyanna word or phrase written or spoken to convey an "Emperor With No Clothes" faux-recovery..  Every over-optimistic bombastic pronouncement..  its the same.  Its why its so vital when you read mainstream news that you have an understanding of the topic beforehand so you can sift through the distortion.

We stopped at 3 examples of using the word 'blast' incorrectly because one does not need 100 examples when 3 suffices.  However, we did run across one headline which correctly and accurately used the word "blast" as it was meant...

Trump blasts O'Donnell after show axe  -- "Rosie O'Donnell's chat show on TV titan Oprah Winfrey's OWN network was axed on Friday after a five-month-run... Not surprisingly, Trump was chomping at the bit to crow about the show's abrupt demise.

"Well, I always knew that Oprah was smart... Frankly, that was just going to happen. I knew it immediately as soon as they announced it. Rosie fails at everything. She had a variety show that failed.... Somebody else, some moron, will come and hire her again to do something else, and that will fail. At some point, let her rest. Let her go away."" (AP)

Mmm.. See boys and girls... That's how you 'Blast' someone

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Simplicity in financial complexity

People--  they trust authority too much; put too much value upon it.

Trust that those in positions of power are 'experts' who are on top of things.. Trust that they are making the best decisions both for the present and the future.

Sometimes the trust is due to a belief that authority, i.e. those in power are smarter or better than the rest of us.  Must be, right?  They went to Harvard.. or Princeton.. or Yale..  It had to be merit-- not due to Daddy.   And they certainly wouldn't have gotten their positions of prominence through backroom deals, bribes or mutual back scratching.

That'd be un-American.

Other times the trust is really a by-product of laziness.  No different than wanting to know a word definition or other factoid, and rather than go on the computer to research the answer yourself,  dependence is placed upon another who gives a filtered interpretation.

Don't feel you're alone in this.. Congress does this too.

They are too lazy (or busy or 'important') to read bills before they vote on passage or understand something as simple as small-f 'finance', so instead of doing the research themselves, they call people to congressional meetings to explain everything to them.  Based on party affiliation, those 'experts' and their interpretations will either be questioned or treated as gospel.
And yes, finance is simple to understand.  The education system and the profession of capital-F 'Finance' make it appear incredibly confusing, dry-as-toast boring and fingers-to-chalkboard irritating to keep most people from delving into seeking to understand on their own.

So briefly, what is small f 'finance'?

Its basically how each of us runs our daily lives; how we earn, spend and save money.  Think of yourself as an independent nation- the Republic of Jill or Jane or John. The way you conduct your personal finances is no different than a government.

We all generate income (government collects taxes; we collect salary or Social Security,etc),  We all have expenditures (government spends on healthcare, education, transportation, etc..;we also spend on those things).  And we all have our little luxuries (government enjoys invading other nations; you and I may enjoy buying a DVD)

If at the end of every month, you take in more $ every month than you spend, you create a personal surplus; a savings.  If you spend more than you take in, you create a deficit.   And if you borrow from others at interest to make up that deficit (credit cards, bank loans), you created a debt.

The biggest difference between yourself and government is that if you went on your computer and printed up a million $100 bills to purchase things with, you're called a counterfeiter and thrown in prison.  When the government does it, its called "economic stimulus".
So anyways, that's finance.  No matter how intentionally complex the powers that be try to make it with large multi-syllable words and quirky phrases, at its core, finance is simple. You do not need an Ivy League education to understand it either on a personal or governmental level.

So back to Congress--  Today the criminal brothers-in-arms, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Fed Chair Ben 'The Bastard' Bernanke will appear before Congress to testify to discuss lessons learned from Europe's sovereign debt crisis in a hearing entitled “Europe’s Sovereign Debt Crisis: Causes, Consequences for the United States and Lessons Learned,” .  Both financial chiefs will share their personal experiences.

What will they say?

They will say without saying it directly that they saved the world once again.  That thanks to US indirect intervention in the European financial system such as half a trillion in currency swaps with the euro (giving $500 billion to Europe's ECB in exchange for 500 billion is euros that aren't worth as much so that ECB could re-capitalize over 60 European banks).  And I'm sure somewhere along the way Fed stimulus spending (QE) will be touted as the main reason the US isn't in a crisis today.

The Congress people will sit there, surrounded by their lackeys staffers, and be dumbfounded at how "brilliant" these two men are, then ask five minutes of questions to their guests bluffing that they understand what speakers are talking about and hoping their constituents don't pick up on the ruse.
~ "I Think Chairman Bernanke is so Brilliant, I want to just Kiss him..."

So what are the real lessons learned?

1)  You can not attempt to learn any lesson on anything until it has reached a completion point.  The European sovereign debt crisis is Far from over.  Everyone assumed because Greece did not head into chaotic default by this week, that the world is saved.  It's not.

What the powers-that-be did to Greece is no different than in the game of Monopoly, where your opponent has $7 and lands on Boardwalk, but you're not ready to see the game end yet so you 'lend' the opponent money to re-pay you, then get another couple turns to sadistically build more houses before you do let your opponent crash.  

Then there's Ireland.. And Portugal.. And Italy.. And Spain..

2)  Most people elected to public offices are ignorant when it comes to economic matters.  The vast majority of Congresspeople and Senators who serve, have degrees not in Economics-related fields but in Law.  And the only small-f 'finance' they're concerned about is expanding their own bank accounts through insider trading, bribes and campaign contributions.
~ "Can't wait for another sophomoric question to be posed to me"

3) The policies of the Fed in particular have been disastrous for this nation-- trillions upon trillions of dollars spent to prop up the banking and financial elites while the criminals who caused the chaos still sit in their cushy CEO chairs.

This is money that will be paid back in some point-- in higher taxes, dramatic cuts in basic services and programs.. who knows, perhaps the US government will start needing to privatize its infrastructure (selling railroads, airports, turnpikes,etc..) to foreign creditors like the Greeks were forced to.

4) Don't trust your leaders in any way, shape or form.

This is not conspiracy talk.  Its fact.  Policy-makers do not take your interests at heart in their decisions.  Who are you to them?  One person.. a speck.   When they speak calmly, and gloss over something negative, its not to inform or allay fears-- its to keep people calm and docile.

Trust in yourself-- trust in your ability to seek out the answers to your questions on your own rather than have them spoon-fed.  And trust that every complex concept starts with a simple core principle--

Understand that, and you can understand anything

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pick one: Rotten or Rottener?

The 2012 Election is going to be very difficult.

We don't mean for the candidates.. couldn't give a damn about any of them including the incumbent who has been simply Dreadful.

No, its going to be difficult for voters.  And we don't simply mean simply deciding which candidate or party is the lesser of two evils..

There are two parties-- one, the Democrats, who used to care about the worker, the poor, the disenfranchised.. used to be pro Union and would never cut taxes for the wealthy, especially during a time of great recession.

That was your father's (or grandfather's) Democrat Party.

Then there's the Republicans who never pretended to care about anyone but the wealthy, the super wealthy and the upper-upper middle class, who never met a tax cut they didn't like and if they could have it their way, the full financial burden of paying taxes would fall upon the working classes through "flat taxes" and Federal sales taxes on all consumables.
The following kinda explains how deeply F'd we are as a nation...

From Washington Post:

House GOP unveil election-year budget blueprint cutting $5.3T beyond Obama plan -- "(A) GOP plan released by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan would, if enacted into law, wrestle the deficit to a manageable size in short order, but only by cutting Medicaid, food stamps, Pell Grants and a host of other programs that Obama has promised to protect..."

Then there's this..  From Reuters:

"(GOP budget plan) also seeks to cap discretionary federal spending on education, transportation and other government programs at $1.029 trillion, roughly $18 billion less than Democrats want...

"The Ryan plan contains another element popular with Republicans across the board: tax reform. It proposes to cut top rates for individuals, paring back the number of tax brackets to two - 25 percent and 10 percent - from six now.  The current top rate is 35 percent, but it is set to rise to 39.6 percent at the beginning of next year if the tax cuts enacted during President George W. Bush's presidency are allowed to expire.

"It also would push through a corporate tax reform plan that would lower nominal tax rates to 25 percent from about 35 percent and largely eliminate taxes on U.S. companies' overseas profits."
So let's re-cap:  The very wealthiest Americans would only have to pay at most 25% taxes meaning for every $10 million dollars a wealthy person makes, he could keep another million dollars in his pocket.  Meanwhile every social program benefiting anyone not in that top 1% would get the 'slash & burn' treatment and US companies, who are beneficiaries of the Fed devaluing our currency to make foreign currencies appear stronger and corporate profits larger, would pretty much pay NO taxes on profits acquired from aboard.

Hmm..  gotcha.

We've stated often we are not fond of Obama's economic policies or really his Presidency altogether.  In many respects-- from allowing the bank and financial bailouts to continue, to proposing a reduction of corporate taxes to extending the Bush tax cuts twice as well as the insipid 'payroll tax' that hurts workers more in future for the couple dollars they keep today--  Obama has shown himself to be no different than Bush.

And in a way, Obama's worse because his loyal, impassioned supporters did not sign on for this when voting for him in 2008 and really do not support him economically in the now.

Its just when you have another group of people on the other side of the 'aisle' determined to shore up the nod for "Heartless Bastard Political Party of the Year" once again, it makes it very difficult for millions of people to decide where to turn.
~ And what a nice trophy they receive each year...

Obama's approval in some polls is below 50% and many seek a change.  But people are nervous.  Do they really want a Republican President who is going to basically stomp the economic life out of them with figurative boot to throat?  And no true independent or third-party option seems to be available as of this writing.

Really a terrible situation.    Wish we had some solutions.

As the election gets closer, A&G will compose a 'scorecard' where you, the reader can compare the two political parties track record the last 4 years  Hopefully that can help be some guide to deciding the best 'lesser of two evils' to support.   Look for that in the autumn.

When people ask to best describe the main difference between the Democrat and Republican Party, this is what I say:

A Democrat will stand in front of you, slap you hard on the cheek and then mutter something like "Sorry, I was trying to get a mosquito away from your face"...

A Republican will stand in front of you, slap you hard on the cheek, smile and not say a word.

Monday, March 19, 2012

How much can you earn working at CVS?

Been a bit of a slow news day so we thought it would be fun to see how much one can earn if working at CVS Pharmacy.  We could have chosen any company to do this exercise but since there happens to be a CVS weekly circular within eye-distance, we figured, why not pick them...

So how much can you make at CVS?   As with any company, it depends on your position, education, etc..  Salaries are provided on average for hourly work and yearly (in parenthesis) based on 40hr wk for 52 weeks:

Cashier - $8.36/hr  ($17,388/yr)

Pharmacy Technician -  $9.96/hr  ($20,716/yr)

Shift Supervisor B - $11.12/hr  ($23,129/yr)

Shift Supervisor A - $12.36/hr  ($25,708/yr)

Assistant Manager  - $20.79/hr  ($43,257/yr)

Store Manager  - $25.55/hr  ($53,148/yr)

Pharmacist -  $51.58/hr  ( $107,286/yr)
__________

Wowwie!  Guess it really pays to know your drugs

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Occupy.. Occupy..

Last night, thugs NYPD rounded up and arrested dozens of people who returned to Zuccotti Park to celebrate the six-month anniversary of the 'Occupy' movement; originally aimed at Wall Street and organically organized as a means to focus on the dramatic wealth disparity of the 99% vs the top 1%.  The movement has inspired  'Occupy'-like movements throughout the nation and the world.

So what exactly happened last night?  Were the Occupiers violent, possess weapons or plan a coup de etat?

"For hours, the demonstrators had been chanting and holding impromptu meetings in the park to celebrate the anniversary of the movement that has brought attention to economic inequality, as police mainly kept their distance... the tipping point came when the protesters started breaking the park rules"  (Daily Mail UK)

Police just hate it when you don't respect the "Keep Off the Grass" signs...

So what rules were broken?

"They set up tents. They had sleeping bags.. the park owner (Zuccotti is a private park), sent in security to advise the protesters to stop pitching tents and to leave the park... then asked the police to help them clear out the park...""

Oh what criminals!
To really understand why the police responded as they did, you have to get beyond the basic simple mindset of 'law enforcers vs law breakers' to understand what 'Occupy' represents and how much government fears them.

But let's move beyond 'Occupy' for a moment.   Question:  When it comes to freedom of speech and expression, what is the difference between what we have in America today (including what was supposedly guaranteed in the US Constitution) and what rights the colonists had pre-American Revolution?

Answer:  During colonial times, you could not speak out against the government and the Crown without being arrested.  Didn't matter if you were an organized group or an individual.  And if you used any form of social media to spread you messages (i.e newspapers, leaflets), they were shut down or confiscated.

People think the US is dramatically different in that it gives freedoms for its citizenry to dissent.  It's not so.  Certainly an individual has much more freedom to write letters, blog or just vent out loud. Government really doesn't care what an individual thinks or feels about much of anything.

Yet there's still restrictions.  For instance, you can say the President's policies are wrong or he's a bad leader (that's your opinion and like the crude saying goes, 'Opinions are like rear-ends, everyone has one'), but if you express views that appear more extreme, emotional and/or personal in nature, then government cracks down hard.  Some things one can not even express as empty, powerless wishing or hoping without that person being locked away.
Of course it is wrong to restrict any form of free speech simply because it is offensive or emotionally charged, but most people, even so-called Liberal minded, are deeply ingrained emotionally and psychology into the system, so government will always receive primary benefit of the doubt when it comes to how it interprets acceptable free speech for all of us to obey.

So individuals are pretty much tolerated.. groups- a different matter.

If you have viewpoints about changing the system, and express them in your bedroom to your pet dog Fido, really no one cares.  If you find like-minded people who agree and seek to band together to figure how to make a difference, then you're a concern.

And the larger your movement and the more influence you possess in actually altering the structure of the system, the more you're feared. This is when government begins opening files on you, tapping your phones, placing spies to infiltrate and/or disrupt your movement, etc.

Government also fears outward protest and demonstration.

It is why it demands you get prior approval to congregate and when applying for permit, to specify your intentions.  And when you are approved, you're cordoned off like ostriches in a pen, safely out of eyesight or earshot of those who you are protesting against.  This allows government to keep its 'free speech' while marginalizing you as fringe or meaningless group.  And thanks to law passed a month ago, if you outwardly protest or try to disrupt when a member of government is present, it is now a federal offense.
Remember when the Occupy movement was cracked down by authorities in an orchestrated move in 18 cities back last November?  That was coordinated by your government i.e. Department of Homeland Security.

From AP:

"Over the past ten days, more than a dozen cities have moved to evict “Occupy” protesters from city parks and other public spaces. As was the case in last night’s move in New York City, each of the police actions shares a number of characteristics. And according to one Justice official, each of those actions was coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies...

"In several recent conference calls and briefings, local police agencies were advised to seek a legal reason to evict residents of tent cities, focusing on zoning laws and existing curfew rules. Agencies were also advised to demonstrate a massive show of police force, including large numbers in riot gear. In particular, the FBI reportedly advised on press relations, with one presentation suggesting that any moves to evict protesters be coordinated for a time when the press was the least likely to be present."
So what does government fear?  A massive park 'sleep in'?  Of course not.  It does fear a spreading movement against the entities that government protects and financially props up.

In four years between two Presidents, each of different party affiliations, the bottom 99% have continually been fucked upon.  Not a single piece of legislation was passed or even proposed to bailout the individual financially; no job creation bill or tax breaks to companies who hire First (that's important-- plenty of tax breaks to businesses in the Hope or Assumption they will hire).

Nothing to help small to medium size businesses or encourage individual entrepreneurship... No legislation or proposals to alleviate personal debt, lower mortgage payments without expanding the length of time to repay; or assist with rising tuition costs and sharecropper-like economic slave system of student loans...

Most in the movement are young, educated with worthless degrees and tens of thousands of $$ in debt before turning 21 with no jobs or prospects of good paying ones for a very long time.   No one is bailing them out...

The Occupy movement is fully justified in their cause.  Those who look down upon 'Occupy' tend to be those fully entrenched in the system who believe that it is Un-American to root against Wall Street, banks and profit.
The script goes like this: A corporation or a person has a right to make as much money as humanly possible, and in the case of corps, its only concern is to shareholders; an individual to him/herself.  Everyone can be filthy rich if they work hard enough and if you aren't its 100% your fault.. They are winners and those who complain are losers...

And on and on and on..

Now this is utter bullshit, but those who believe that rhetoric, believe it sincerely.  Of course the proper word for entities and people who possess such massive wealth inequality are 'hoarders', but the media doesn't use that term.  They rather faint an fawn over them, and concoct terrible TV shows that implants the message that the wealthy are smarter, happier and overall better than the lower ilk.

And if you are not "smart" or "hard working" enough to be like them, you can still live vicariously like them by simply buying what they wear, drive, etc..

People may have thought 'Occupy' died off last year.  It didn't.. it just laid dormant even within a most mild winter for most of the country.  Hopefully 'Occupy Wall Street' will move from occupying parks and parking lots, and focus on finally trying to literally occupy Wall St itself.
Spring is coming..  An Arab-like Spring?  Probably not-- most people love the system too much, care little for anyone outside of their inner-circle and are not willing to sacrifice anything of themselves for a greater good.   But fortunately there are others who are..

And they're the global 'Occupy' movement.