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Thursday, January 31, 2013

'If Black is White and Bad is Good. then Very Bad is Very Good?

Yesterday we wrote about the first contraction to the US economy in 3.5 years (-0.1% growth) and commented how passionately determined Wall Street and their corporate media whores were to treat this as a positive...

The logic you see was that this was a "one-off" or one time thing i.e. the Pentagon slashing its budget in a dramatic fashion.  The implication obviously being not to expect this to happen again..

Very nice...  Then we read this from Bloomberg:

"Just as the U.S. gross domestic product is taking a hit from lower defense budgets, federal spending cuts viewed as unthinkable a few months ago -- $1.2 trillion falling heavily on the Pentagon -- are seen as likely to happen starting March 1.

What’s known as budget sequestration, designed to be so draconian that it would push Democrats and Republicans to compromise on taxes and spending, has hardened the parties’ positions. If the cuts occur, they would require $600 billion in across-the-board military spending reductions over a decade that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called “devastating.” "
Now if it possible that an additional $1.2 Trillion in cuts are going to come from the Pentagon, then how can anyone with a straight face say its an absolute certainty that the budgetary cuts from Oct - Dec, 2012 were a one-time thing?

Will this be averted?  Will both sides reach a consensus?

Who knows.. the only thing these two incompetent political parties do seem to know to agree on is can-kicking...

That and having the Federal Government pay for Secret Service protection of ex-Presidents for the rest of their lives at taxpayer expense (It had been 10 year limit since all Presidents {including Obama} are millionaires and can afford the protection themselves without stress or strain)..

That law passed unanimously

But we digress...
When 99.99999% of Americans do not pay any close attention to finance, markets and the continual games played upon them, then it allows Wall St to feel naturally brazen to keep lying.

Really-- why not?  What is there for them to gain by being honest?

And as we said yesterday, if the economy contracts for the Jan - Mar. 2013 quarter, meaning thus two quarters in a row, that is the "Official" textbook definition of recession.

Now here's the real 'Alice in Wonderland' like contradiction when it comes to optimism and hope in the US economy and recovery..  Follow as best you can..

Wall St and the media are jubilant over this 'amazing recovery', right...

But Fed Chair Bernanke is quite dour, saying the US economy” faces “downside risks” even after strains in global financial markets have eased" according to the latest Fed statement...

Now who's right?
If Wall St is right and can survive and thrive without that $85billion a month in bond purchases then why doesn't it try to 'swim' without the financial 'inflatables' wrapped around it figurative arms and waist?

Could it be because it knows it can't and knows everything it says to the American public about optimism and hope and economic growth is bullshit?

And Bernanke-- if he's right and the economy is so weak and unstable, why does he think he can do it alone?  More specifically, why does he allow the Lie to continue that only he i.e. the Fed can lower unemployment (which it can't) while the President and Congress play with their tallywackers?

And if the economy is strong and Wall St is right, then why does Bernanke have the guts or moral fortitude to turn off the financial spigots to his buddies?

Who's right?  Wall St or Bernanke?  Are we in recovery or recession-depression?  Is the stock market growing based on confidence in it, or a 'confidence game' of conveying all is well?

Most people really don't understand the Fed or what its doing.. This explanation may appear a little simplistic but its not and is in addition a good way to explain what is going on...

Picture the stock market as a casino..  OK, we're sure you've heard that before..  Now, picture a very nice elderly man with a beard named "Uncle Ben"-- he's wealthy.. more importantly, he is your personal benefactor.

And Benny says to you, "OK, John (or Jane or Jesse)... Here's the deal..  Every Tuesday at 12:01AM, $10,000 will be wired into your personal checking account by me to have fun in the casino...

'All bets you make... everything you win, you keep... don't have to pay back a penny, and I will still give you $10k/week...  And if you lose some or all on stupid or super-risky bets, do not worry..  just look at your online statement at 12:01 every Tuesday for your next $10k"

You are given this money for two reasons by good ole Uncle Ben...

1)  He sincerely wants and hopes that you get on a winning streak and recoup all the money you stupidly lost due to risky, thoughtless betting before he stepped in, and..

2) No one wants to 'gamble' in an empty 'casino' i.e. no one wants to invest in a stock market that has no life to it, so 'warm bodies' are needed to attract passersbyes.. you know... the common everyday folk
And so you have a stock market that rises and rises based on nothing real in the world...

We've explained this often but its too important a point to just assume you get it.

Life is not that complex folks... Same with employment/jobs...

First off, did you know 25% of all employed Americans (1 in 4) make $25,000 or less, have no benefits of any kind and no security?

Its true..

Now there are essentially two ways a 'job' is created:  By another or by oneself.  And for the sake of this mini-exercise, we won't focus on the self-entrepreneurs; the 'go-getters'.

Now, as to the job created by another, only two entities do it-- the private sector and the public sector.  The public sector does not care so much what the private sector does, but the private sector hates public sector employment.
Its hard to offer laborers $8-9/hr to do work if public employment is paying laborers $10-12/hr.  So in a perfect world for private sector employers, the public sector i.e. government jobs would be liquidated in masse with the now unemployed forced to accept pay concession or not work.

And to make this scenario more efficient, there has to be no government living subsidies like unemployment or food stamps.  This way $8/hr for a position you once were getting $11/hr is very attractive compared to $0/hr and eating dirt & bugs on the street.

Now if the private sector has no motivation to create good paying jobs because its making tidy profits through other means such as investing and purchasing/selling their own stocks, then there's a near Zero chance these jobs will be developed and implemented for the educated and skilled to possess.

And if there's no law by the President or Congress to expand hiring in the public sector, then you find continual stagnant to depressed wages, the expansion of temping where the worker has zero rights, and other forms of basic, unsecured labor available to a populace desperate to eek a living and 'make it'
So if you're unemployed and feel hopeful that your job prospects will improve because the Dow is flirting with 14,000 then sorry but you're in denial.

The economy Could improve.. Sincerely so..  In all phases..

If only those in power really wanted it to.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"The Harder the Sell, the more Desperate the Seller"

"I Want You.. To stop thinking all this economy nonsense and think about what really matters in life... the Super Bowl!"

If the US economy is in 'recovery' and getting stronger by the day...

If the corporate media is 'correct' and we're 'debbie downers'..

Then why is the US economy contracting?

U.S. Economy Shrinks Unexpectedly: First Contraction in 3 ½ years -- " The U.S. economy shrank from October through December for the first time since the recession ended, hurt by the biggest cut in defense spending in 40 years, fewer exports and sluggish growth in company stockpiles...

The economy contracted at an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter. That's a sharp slowdown from the 3.1 percent growth rate in the July-September quarter and the first contraction since the second quarter of 2009..."  (AP)
"I Want You.. to just relax and try some of this delicious sour mash"

OK, so now if you're corporate media or blood-sucking Wall St investors, how do you seek to diminish its significance to an everyday public you're Deseperately... and we do mean DESPERATELY trying to entice to invest again?

Well its like the old song goes...

'You gotta accentuate the positive... Eliminate the negative...  Latch onto the affirmative.. Don't mess with Mr In-Between'

You also have to trivialize, marginalize and a bunch of other -izes, but that didn't fit into the original lyrics...

So how is a contraction that no economist predicted explained away?

Well see, economists said the surprise decrease in the nation's gross domestic product "wasn't as bad as it looked."   No.. the weakness was "primarily the result of one-time factors"

Mainly it was 'the biggest defense spending cut in 40 years'
"I Want You... to buy War Bonds! (Psst.. its OK, this is the "good" war.. WWII)

Ahh.. is it no wonder when a national economy is in the doldrums, they build up armaments and then send the flower of its youth off to war to fight and die for pretend causes?

We're not picking on the US alone...

Do you think economically bankrupt Argentina is saber-rattling about re-taking the Falkland Islands from Britain, a mere pebble in significance with a population of 3,200 people, out of national pride?

And our allies across the pond are in worse economic shape than we are-- they actually admit out loud their country is in recession once more. What better way to galvanize national pride and and increase spending on defense to get that GDP up..  its what Margaret Thatcher did in 1982.

Do you really believe France is sending its military into the African nation of Mali, a land-locked country with a total yearly GDP of $18bn because its afraid of them attacking?  For perspective, Baltimore, MD has an annual GDP of $188bn or 10x that of Mali which is over 1.2 million sq miles in size...
~ Today's 'Daily Deal'-- Sincerely believe this contraction in GDP is a good thing, and you get 5cents off per gallon of gas at your local station (max: 4 gallons)

So back to the contraction in the US... Here how one smug little nothing economist described it-- "Frankly, this is the best-looking contraction in U.S. GDP you'll ever see," Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics, said in a note to clients." (AP)

Sorry to break it to you little man, but you're in la-la land...

The Washington Post explains things a little clearer:  "Had the Pentagon not cut back on spending, the economy would have grown at a weak but positive 1.27 percent pace.  Was this big plunge in defense spending unusual? Yes and no. To a certain extent, it’s part of a pattern: Defense spending often rises in the third quarter of a year and drops in the fourth quarter."

In other words, if not for these cuts that everyone is treating as a one-timer the US economy would have still been a sickly anemic 1.27% growth--  this is FIVE YEARS after the official start of the recession in December 2007!!
And it is taking the Fed spending $85 Billion dollars monthly to get that minimal economic heartbeat..

$1 Trillion annually

Do you know what the Total amount in US consumer debt is?   We mean, if you add up every American's mortgage, vehicle loan, credit card and student loan, and wrote one big check to wipe off the debts of every adult American citizen...

$2.75 Trillion.

Oh, and do you know what it means when a nation is in negative GDP territory for two quarters in a row?  It means all those elitist son-of-a-bitches in Washington, Wall St and the media who've been lying to you about 'recovery' for the last 3+ years must then be Forced by definition to call the economy what we all know it to be currently...

Recession.

Its sad to see so many people brainwashed; this notion that a strong Wall Street and stock market means a strong America...  To attach emotions of Patriotism and National Pride to the ability of the Extremely Wealthy to be able to expand their portfolios
If you want to see a strong America and feel patriotic and proud, that comes from an American populace able to achieve a productive capacity; to ply their trades and skills in positions that pay genuine living wages which will in itself ween away millions from the teats of the welfare state.

And what is a 'living wage'?  The best way to define it is a salary that allows someone to pay their bills and obligations, still have something left over to save while maintaining a decent quality of life and not needing credit cards or payday loans to cover the monthly gaps.

What makes America great is not Wall Street; its not those majestic 'Twin Towers' of profit and greed; massive impersonal skyscrapers raised up to an endless sky with logos of banks, investment firms and other corporations adorning..

Its the other 99%-- we don't wish to call them 'bottom'..

Its the 1% which are the bottom-feeders; the ring of filth found in every sink and bathtub drain...
~ This was the motto 100 years ago.. Now if you do so, and try to sell it, the government will crack down on you

Democrat... Republican... Both are worthless;  they're not being pro-active in combating this 5+ year recession head on and proposing & passing legislation to get people back to work and firing up the pistons of the economic machine without Fed involvement...

They've both passed the buck to Bernanke.

We end with this truism when it comes to the powers that be trying to convince you all is well and to resume spending...

"The Harder the Sell, the more Desperate the Seller"

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Video: Real Reasons 4 Economic Collapse

As the Dow creeps closer to the 'magic' 14,000 mark, symbolizing.. well, really nothing that is real since its all Fed manipulated, we wanted to explain just how sincerely bad the Real economy is and present its origins, which go further back than 2008

The speaker in the interview is Paul Craig Roberts, who was assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration earning fame as a co-founder of Reaganomics.  While we at A&G are not fans of Reagan's policies, we do agree with most, if not all the information presented.  Roberts spoke to Global Economic News in October 2012

The video is a little under 8 minutes.. the first part deals with the US economy and the second part the overall global economy.

Roberts may speak a bit slowly but focus more on the words spoken than the pace.

For those able to hear the music we play, to turn off music player, simply click the pause/stop button located at very bottom left of this page

Lastly, any ads that may appear during or after the video are not from us at A&G but via YouTube.

Monday, January 28, 2013

"We call it Propaganda.. others call it 'Comfort Food'

When people think of the word 'propaganda' as applied to media, usually one either thinks of the former Soviet Union's firm control of its newspapers during the Cold War, like Pravda, which translated into 'the truth' or a little further back to WWII and the Nazis; Josef Goebbels perfecting the art of mass swaying through outward lie.

Well, truth is we in the good ole' USA do it too..

Our media may not do it as often or have perfected the craft of manipulation as to remove all sloppy overtness with the emphasis on subtleties..

But you best believe and understand we do it, and the news media that is supposedly the most reputable and expensive to acquire via subscription are the most guilty.

A genuinely horrid, lie-infested piece of pro-stock market propaganda was written by the New York Times this past Friday, January 25th entitled 'As Worries Ebb, Small Investors Propel Markets'.
The title itself is an outright falsehood and inducement to get mom & pop investors and everyday folk who are genuinely and rightfully scared to death of this artificially manipulated market, to park their precious money, so others can profit from it.

The entirety of the article is pure propaganda poppycock.

So we're going to break  most of the article down and sift through the myriad of muck to point out what propaganda truly looks like.  The article will be reposted here word for word (in blue font) and we will comment in normal color font wherever necessary.  The direct link to the NY Times article is to be found by clicking 'Here'

All photos were added by us to break down the length of the posting, and not part of the NY Times article.
Let's begin:

Americans seem to be falling in love with stocks again.

No they're not.  And this first sentence here is an example of what is taught in advertising as persuasion, getting the reader or viewer to 'follow the crowd' or accept an artificial 'majority' knows more than you.  To be properly suckered, you must accept this first sentence for the rest of the 'comfort food' to be easily digested without question...

Millions of people all but abandoned the market after the 2008 financial crisis, but now individual investors are pouring more money than they have in years into stock mutual funds. The flood, prompted by fading economic threats and better news on housing and jobs, has helped propel the broad market to within striking distance of its highest nominal level ever.

“You’ve got a real sea change in investor outlook,” said Andrew Wilkinson, the chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak Associates.

We disagree with 'millions of people' but that aside, the writer never mentions why money might be pouring in such as its Impossible to survive on the interest rates coming from traditional risk-free banking and the Fed this on Purpose to steer 'mom & pop' into the market like cattle or WWII Eastern Europeans into cattle-cars.
Then there's a quote meant to give emphasis to the writer that his view is correct.  Wilkinson is what is called in Investment jargon, a perma-bull.  In other words it is his job to always be optimistic and upbeat about the market and the economy because his livelihood is dependent upon it.

And when reality looks pessimistic, you inject hope from outside sources..  Last year, MoneyNews.com interviewed him and its article title was, 'Miller Tabak’s Wilkinson: Fed ‘Will Come to Rescue,’ US Stocks to Soar'.  He didn't seem to make any reference to it when the Times sought a quote, did he?

We're not disputing his accuracy.. only his credibility.  Continuing...

While the rising market may lift the nation’s collective spirits, it will not necessarily restore everyone’s portfolios. In good times and bad, many individual investors tend to buy and sell at precisely the wrong moments. They dump stocks after the market falls and buy stocks after the market rises, the opposite of what investors aim to do.
Some market experts worry that might be happening this time, too. People who got out as stocks plummeted in 2008 and early 2009 have already missed a remarkable rally. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index has soared 120 percent since March 2009, passing the 1,500 milestone. This year alone, the main indexes are up 5 percent. Now, the investing public seems more afraid of missing out than of misreading Wall Street again.

Americans’ latest stock-market romance is young, and it could easily fade before it becomes something more serious. Some market watchers warn that given the big run-up in prices, the market is already ripe for at least a brief correction.

This correction when it occurs, and it Will occur though not in the minimal way the writer is implying, is called a Minsky moment.

The late economist Hyman Minsky hypothized back in the 1960s that a long stretch of calm on Wall Street and in the broader markets sows the seeds of its own demise.
According to Minsky, investors take on more risk and debt in boom times, when complacency and easy money are the rage, until they hit a point when they realize they can’t service that debt. The ensuing rush to the exits is dominated by margin calls and forced selling; in an inflection known as a “Minsky moment,” markets fall, as does access to capital. The preliminaries to the ’08 financial crisis were marked by such instances.

Continuing...

Still, the optimism that has pervaded the market in recent weeks is a drastic change from recent years. Until recently, many investors had continued to shy away from stocks in the face of a trio of hovering problems — the potential breakdown of the euro zone, fears of a stalling Chinese economy and political brinkmanship in Washington that threatened to drive the economy into a new recession.

One after another, these threats appear to have dissipated. This week Congress found at least a short-term way around the nation’s debt ceiling, sidestepping Republican threats to let the government default when it reached a self-imposed borrowing limit in February or March.
This bleeping Fool either doesn't understand none of the trio of problems have been remotely solved or simply doesn't wish to acknowledge it.

Nothing is shored up in the euro zone-- the bankers have only invented clever new contrivances to copy the Fed as best it can via a centralized authority that seeks to collect various nation debts into one grand-debt, and continually can-kicks repayment while the European Central Bank prints out endless amounts of euros to devalue their currency and essentially paying those deadbeat PIIGS nations not to leave and go back to their own currencies.

China's economy is stalling.  It may be growing at a pace of around 7.5% to 8% which isn't great when over a billion populace, but as CNN points out, it is"well below the average 10% growth seen in the past three decades"   And their economy is heavily dependent on Americans' ability to buy their crap and the #1 means we are doing so isn't with real money but with personal debt acquisition or in layperson terms, credit cards.

Other experts believe China's economy is heading slowly toward stagflation i.e. a condition of slow economic growth and relatively high unemployment accompanied by a rise in prices, or inflation.
As for this notion of no more immediate US political brinksmanship, sorry to cuss but what an ignorant Asshole!  First it was the Republicans who proposed the extension they can't be both defiant & gutless, can they? Also, the agreement last week by cowardly politicians (spineless Dems and wussy President accepted the proposal) was to push back discussion and debate of the debt limit by only two months!

And they still have to deal with all the budgetary cuts relating to the fiscal cliff that should have been taken care of by the end of 2012.   The cowards can always can-kick that too...

Eventually these battles will Have to be fought and you will see equally cowardly professional Investors do drastic sell-offs.

So nothing has been 'dissipated'.. Unless of course you the reader really want to Believe it is, to which this NY Times' bastard liar's words are "comfort food' to your eyes.

Continuing...

As the fog of crisis has cleared, investors have more clearly focused on the cascade of good economic data pointing to a growing housing market, shrinking unemployment and corporate earnings that were stronger than expected.
The so-called growing housing market is due to outright Fed manipulation via $85bil/mo in mortgage securities being purchased, the banks purposely controlling supply/demand and a loophole allowing foreign wealthy to funnel their money into the country via purchasing of real estate that would be illegal if simply opening new savings accounts.

As for unemployment, it has not shrinked-- only the number of "official" unemployed.  Over 10 million Americans have been out of work since 2008 and have exhausted all benefits and have yet to find work.  These people don't count statistically anymore.

As for corporate earnings, even in the best of times it should not be celebrated except by the soulless and greedy.  But when corporations are able to expand profit while not hiring or expanding, it should raise a red flag.  They're simply selling company shares and/or focusing on foreign consumption of products/services to maximize profits.

Amazing this jerk writer doesn't understand any of this.. or consciously chooses to leave all of this out of his article so readers will be clueless...
“The last few weeks represent the belief that there will be no existential threat to any large global economy in 2013,” said Nicholas Colas, the chief market strategist at BNY ConvergEx group.

Jim Cole, a 52-year-old employee at the Bank of the West in San Francisco, had most of the money in his individual retirement account in cash at the end of 2012 as he awaited a bad outcome to the fiscal negotiations in Washington. Since Congress reached its agreement, he has put almost all of that money to work in stocks.

“I just bought some more stock this morning,” Mr. Cole said Friday. “There doesn’t seem to be this swirl of impending doom hanging over the U.S. economy or the world economy looking out six to 12 months from now.”

What an utterly naive man; a dupe..  Amazing... Sad...  The vast majority of people had Zero clue about Lehman Bros before it collapsed... none.  The Fed itself was utterly clueless that 2008 could occur or they would have taken preventive steps to protect themselves and their financial buddies.

What's that famous line.. "A fool and his (or her) money are soon parted"
The optimism about the economy and corporate profits has helped fuel eight straight positive days for the S. & P. 500, the longest such run since 2004. The S.& P. 500 finished Friday up 8.14 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,502.96.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 70.65 points, or 0.5 percent, to 13,895.98, near its high. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index climbed 19.33 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,149.71, still well below its peak in 2000.

There is no surefire data to use to gauge the behavior of retail investors. Some of those who left stock-focused mutual funds in recent years have put the money instead into specific stocks or exchange-traded funds, which hold baskets of stocks. But analysts agree that most indicators point to rising confidence in the market.

The level of bullishness among small investors has nearly doubled just since mid-November, according to a weekly survey conducted by the American Association of Individual Investors.
A survey is nothing more than an opinion poll.  And the only qualifications to vote is to pay a $29 annual membership to the group for their publication...then you can vote in all the surveys you wish.

Now on their website, there's two surveys... one is short term bullishness and one is long term.   Now short term bullishness is felt by 52.3% ..wowie-zowie... That's a lot of greed positivity!  Now what its long term bullishness?  39%, with 30.5% each feeling neutral and bearish (negative).

Its really all how you wish to look at it.. like the glass of water half filled.  You can say that almost 70% feel positive about the market (bullish or neutral)  or 61% feel negative (neutral and bearish)  The NY Times writer wants you to invest so guess how he will slant it?
Summary:

A picture is painted of sunny skies, chirping bluebirds and glowing rainbows by this parasite NY Times writer where the stock market and everyday investors are concerned.

He spends not a single sentence explaining 'why' the market has risen when the rest of the economy is in the doldrums, makes no reference to its artificality or manipulations by the Fed, and at no time presents a picture that when you invest, you put your money at grave risk.

No, the article sells the lie that the post-2008 stock market can only go Up, Up, UP!  And even if it goes down, he clairvoyantly states it will be minimal..  oh, you'll barely feel it in your portfolio... Then it will continue the upward climb preordained by the 'Gods'

This is called Propaganda.
Lastly, when you go on the Times article Here, you will see a banner advertisement at the top for a company selling gold coins and to the right, a clickable ad for a quick-trade site, perfect for small investors and day-traders, who along with professional Investors are among the most pungent of the pungent..

So don't be naive- NY Times has an agenda.. to appease its advertisers with content positive to the products they are selling.

Now look at the ads on our page...  oh, you don't see Any ads at all??

Exactly.

Friday, January 25, 2013

"Oh sure,we can picture '3'. We just get lost at 'Trillion'...

Today's post is a little bit intricate meaning we take some time to explain complicated concepts as layperson as possible.. Readers will come out knowing more than skimmers but at least skimmers will understand more than the skippers... So do your best to follow along.

We start with a quote:

“To save an economy from a failing financial system, you have to do things that are going to be fundamentally impossible to explain to people.  You’re going to look like you’re giving money to people who were responsible for burning down the economy.”

-- Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner

Or after today, its 'former' Treasury Sec since this is Geithner's last day.

Now to understand the truth of Geithner's quote, which really should be apparent to everyone, you have to understand and embrace the following theory:  'If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck...'
Thus, its going to appear that money is being given to those responsible for destroying the US economy because that was and is exactly what's being done.

$3 Trillion--  over $2 Trillion since 2009 alone.

People are funny creatures:  Try to steal someone's watch, wedding ring, the loose change in their purse or the keys to their car and with very few exceptions that victim will fight and scratch and claw to retrieve back the items being stolen...

$3 Trillion?  Can't relate.. its so impersonal a figure.. The victimization isn't felt thus there's no passion..  its just this large number

But to be fair, its not your fault-- our brains, even those most advanced, are not That advanced to comprehend large numbers in terms of individual units or groupings.

Simple experiment:  Close your eyes and picture a very large room with 3 people.  Each person undoubtedly has a different look from the next... body shape, skin color, etc..   Now try to picture 300 specific, unique individuals at once...

Some may be able to achieve this task... most will not.  And we know with certainty that the human mind could not picture exactly 3,000 of a particular thing...  So how can it be expected to picture 3 Trillion?

What does 3 trillion snowflakes look like?  Or pieces of rice?  Or cookies?
And even if one tries to explain with gimmicky examples such as "If you had $100/day, then for the next  10,000 years... etc" people's minds draw blanks and get turned off..

So we understand some people have difficulty also comprehending charts and graphs so we'll do our best to explain a chart we found on this topic...

Its the Federal Reserve's Balance Sheet-- its Total Assets, which if you remember we constantly have written about, this is not money in a vacuum but rather newly created public debt that will require ultimately public repayment:

The chart maps out the balance sheet over the last 13 years, from January 2000 (Clinton's last year in office) until presently.

You can see between 2000 and late 2008, the Fed's balance sheer grew very minimally, never topping the $1 Trillion mark.

The major spike you see afterwards is QE1 which was the beginning of the artificial stock market manipulations and the death of interest from savings & money market accounts.  Within a span of a year, the balance sheet rose from around $900b to just at the $2T mark.

And because of 3 more QEs (QE2 took place over a 9 month span in 2011, and the beginnings of QE3 & 4 in succession are to add $85b/mo. to the balance sheet), its now currently at $3.013 Trillion

And let's not forget that $85 billion x 12mths = $1.02 Trillion..
And since QE3 & 4 are both open-ended mechanisms, by January 2014, if nothing else was spent to manipulate the economy, that's $4Trillion..  and 2015 would be $5 Trillion. (The Fed said they expect to keep doing this indefinitely until unemployment is under 6.5%)

OK, now what is the purpose of all this Fed trickery besides the fact the US government has Zero desire, motivation nor ability to create jobs by conventional means to kick start the economy?

Well one purpose as analyzed previously is to steer everyone into the stock market to invest.  People aren't doing so in great numbers compared with pre-recession due to rightful fear or needing that money to live on..  But don't worry-- your government is patient... like a sniper.

Think of the stock market as an aquarium, Investors and corporations as fish that do nothing but take in oxygen from fresh water and spew out carbon dioxide poison, and liquidity as the fresh water.  So the Fed pumps and pumps fresh clean water into a dirty tank to keep the parasite fish alive.  The goal is to get you and we and mom n' pop to be the water-providers so it doesn't have to, yet the scavenger fish will flourish...
Because everyday people are hesitant or unable to invest in pre-recession levels, as mentioned previously and there's no other sources of consistent clean water, the Fed must keep doing the pumping for to do otherwise is to admit the death of fish who had deserved to die years ago and is kept alive artificially.

Another reason the Fed is doing what it does it to enrich the balance sheets of banks and corporations, especially since the Federal Reserve is nothing more than a private bank that was created by the banks 100 yrs ago to work for them.

Here's what happens.. Corporation A's shares were worth  $10 in early 2009 whereas say the stock was worth $30 before the 2008 crash.  So in order to stop the hemorrhaging and create a bottom point,  they basically gave corporations like 'A' billions of dollars via the market which allowed companies to have the cash to buy their own shares.

So Corporation 'A' would have then used the liquidity to buy a few million or so of their own shares which gave the impression of profitability and thus appeased shareholders and attracted new investors as the value of its stock was manipulated up to say $35 by the end of QE1 in 2010.
So let's fast forward to the present.  Usually a company will seek to expand their profits by expansion-- new locations, larger work force i.e. new hiring and seek to establish footholds in competing marketplaces, etc.

But that's expensive... and time consuming..

Why do all that when you can make equal or greater profits selling one's shares.   So if Corporation A's shares are worth $50 today whereas worth $10 when QE1 allowed the $$ to buy back into one's company, it means a $40 profit for each share... sell a million shares, take in $40 million profit... Instantly...

And you don't have to hire a single person!

And unlike hiring where you have to match social security and 401k pensions and pay out health insurances, and deal with annoying state and local officials who all want their palms greased, most major corporations pay little to no taxes so that dividend sale is practically all profit!

This is one of the biggest reasons the Fed is actually Destroying the US economy under the guise of fixing it and it adds its expenses to the National Debt, dissuades rather than encourages job creation.
And we didn't even get into how the Fed's actions devalue the dollar causing everything to become more expensive and potentially triggering hyperinflation.

See, no one in a position of power who could fix the economy for real wishes to do so?  Why divert money from the stock market into job creation?  Why deprive banks the funding needed to reimburse the trillions lost from bad mortgages just so a crumbling infrastructure is dealt with?

And how many people with newly created $10-$15/hr jobs are going to donate to campaign re-election funds anyways?

People just can't comprehend the enormity of it all... and there's no true leadership in any position of power to fight the good fight..  And those who make the attempt are few and far between..
We end with this observation:

Today while driving in traffic, yours truly turned on the radio and finding nothing good musically worth listening to, flipped to sports.  The host was quite knowledgeable.. he was talking about Super Bowls of the past remembering specific plays and strategies from games past, even minutia as trivial as defensive alignments of the various teams..

All this knowledge in his head.. and ultimately utterly useless

And if you asked him or those similarly, what QE is, he's probably tell you naively it was a cruise ship, then proudly laugh when discovering he was wrong..  And then he'd go back to talking football.

Because analyzing 50+ Super Bowls is less intimidating to the mind than understanding where $3 Trillion of our money has gone, or accepting the unpleasant reality into the consciousness that what is borrowed, is expected to be ultimately repaid.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Can-Kicking Cockers

A couple weeks ago we predicted at A&G that one of the options on the table for this utterly cowardly nation of political pee-on peons would be to pass legislation to kick the debt ceiling debate down the road a couple more months..

Its just impossible for some people to walk and chew gum at the same time, or in the case of Washington, to deal honestly and directly with both the debt-ceiling and fiscal cliff, both already can-kicked from a month ago..

From  AP: "The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a Republican plan to allow the federal government to keep borrowing money through mid-May, clearing it for fast enactment after the top Senate Democrat and White House endorsed it...

The measure avoids for the time being a repeat of the 2011 debt ceiling standoff that rattled markets and resulted in a downgrade of the government's triple-A credit rating. The Treasury is expected to exhaust remaining capacity under the $16.4 trillion debt limit between mid-February and early March."
Its not surprising yet utterly frustrating..

We are a deadbeat nation.. a Loser nation.

Be offended by that if you wish but it is true.

We were once a creditor nation, and every other nation would come to us, hat in hand like peasants asking for financial assistance.  And it would be US holding onto other nations' outstanding and outrageously expanding debt loads as they would try to weasel out of paying..

Case in point: Of all the nations we the US lent money to prior to and during World War I (1914-1918), only Finland ever paid all of it back..  All other nations of Europe who borrowed in good faith were deadbeats...

As the United States is currently.

Now we are the peasants..  though we still wear our Sunday best when doing the beggin' as if it wasn't so obvious to the lenders that we're in a real bad bind..
Not only are we indebted to $16.4 Trillion and growing, and our leaders fully admit we will be spending more than we take in revenue for the foreseeable future, but our leaders feel no guilt about this; no shame..  None

Neither do they feel the motivation or immediacy to raise taxes to more realistic percentages to generate the revenue to sincerely tackle the debt and deficit.. Especially on stock dividends where a dramatic increase is needed most..

And there's no passion or impetus to make serious and necessary budget cuts in any government endeavor or spending program..  that is outside of those that actually go directly into the hands and pockets of those who need it most..  Those 'terrible' so-called entitlements..

435 cowardly Congress people and 100 spineless Senators and one bullshitter of a President can't seem to at least agree to Respect the line-in-the-sand Deadline of March 1st to address the debt ceiling, much less have the courage and 'Balls' to default on this crippling, suffocating Debt...
And we're a Loser nation because We the People.. we don't question anything... We don't want to know..  And actually.. its far worse..  We will openly cheer the manipulation if it directly helps us in our immediacy

Take real estate..

We got into some heated debates among those we socialize and congregate with on our last post..  Some were quite irritated because it didn't matter to them as to the 'Why' the market was growing...  All that mattered was that it was...  Increased home prices were good and whatever triggered it, was most welcome.

Of course others have felt home prices have been exceedingly high for some time.. As in many. many generations...  The fact that any homeowner with a job needs more than 15 years to fully purchase a home shows how truly out of whack home prices are in proportion to wages.

It is quite a messy affair when both sides to this debate are in a room.
Seriously though... a 30year mortgage pre-WWII was utterly unheard of!!

Much like 10 yrs ago, someone taking out a 6 year car loan was as rare as seeing a pink Cadillac or brown Plymouth on the highway.  Now the 72 month lease is as common as a vehicle with silver paint.

So what are the options: That a person should have to either Work n' Work' forever to own,  give a landlord rent with nothing to show for it or live at home with mommie and daddie until everyone is grey in the ear, just to have a save place to sleep at night??

No one has any fight to "fight" the Good Fight..

Think about that..

Politicians-- They'll fight and scratch and claw and cheat and lie and thieve to get into office... and once there, will do everything humanly possible to compromise, concede and come to consensus... all with the ultimate goal of not alienating voters for re-election..

And the Populace..  They'll fight and yell and kill over nothing..
The local paper we read is full of it:

A person recently slashed the face of a stranger while sitting in a public bus over an argument when the slasher felt he was ignored... Two guys a couple months ago shot to death another person on a subway train because the victim wore the wrong sports team paraphernalia... A man grabs a woman and tries unsuccessfully (thank goodness) to push a woman down onto the tracks before an oncoming train for absolutely no reason at all...

And yet things that matter..  to us.. to our children.. our nation & its future.. We have no fight in us..  We just embrace our political party affiliation badge of 'R' or 'D', assume they know best and make the conscientious choice that silence is better than the imaginary "treason" of fighting one's party's beliefs and leadership when we disagree..
In a admittedly disturbed and non-sexually perverted way, we at A&G tend to find ourselves 'cheering' for natural disasters-- earthquakes, hurricanes, etc..  No its not sadism or a desire for people to be harmed in any way...

Its just it seems that a natural disaster is the only thing government and its leaders can not manipulate, delay, stall, can-kick or otherwise fuck around for an artificial time extension.  When it comes, it Comes.. and not a Damn thing a President or a Congress can do about it..

Now the aftermath?  Sure--business as usual..

And how Utterly horrible and Controlled a world do we all live in where we or anyone else has to even remotely wish or want natural calamity just to be reminded what it is to live in a nation not utterly micro-managed and dead-line manipulated!

And back to the issue at hand.. what was the goal of this Grande Compromise?  Job creation?  Improve the quality of lives of the citizenry?  Nope..
To make sure our creditors.. our Owners..  Masters... continue to get paid and the stock market i.e. G-D Investors are soothed, while we as a nation continue to borrow and get deeper into a debt we can never repay even with fiscal manipulations and chicanery..

And once again, the Corporate-whore media will treat a sad thing as a cause to rejoice..  And in all likelihood, the vast, vast majority will do so..

Assuming they even bothered to pay any attention to it at all..

An individual deeply indebted may also be a deadbeat and 'loser', but at least most are smart enough to pay the creditor Last..  or at least.. Never Ever First...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Real Estate Recovery, or "Even A Dead Man's Arm Moves When You Raise It"

It has been some time since we've addressed housing, and this current manifestation of "recovery" which we believe is the 4th or 5th since the recession officially began in December '07 (and which we're all still living in..)

The Corporate controlled agenda-driven media is trumpeting this current housing recovery as something strong and sustainable..  The narrative goes something like this:

'Housing prices are on the rise as more families, in particular first time buyers, spurred on to acquire new mortgages via incredibly low interest rates and are feeling much better about the overall economy and job prospects...  There's optimism abound.. excitement in the air.. hope.. belief.. faith.. that 2013 will be The year..'

Gawd!  Where's a waste basket to retch into?
There are three key driving forces driving this real estate rally and it has Nothing to do with the American people:

1)  The Fed's monetization of mortgage backed securities ($85 billion/month) whose impact however is at best to stabilize the demand floor

2)  An implicit subsidy as banks keep millions of units on their books in some phase of the foreclosure process.  In other words, manipulating supply/demand so to prevent home values from depreciating further, and perhaps most importantly

3) The fact that the National Association of Realtors (NAR), those utter piece of shit Liars can legally launder offshore money courtesy of being exempt from anti-money laundering provisions.

This allows billions in ill-gotten offshore cash, sourced primarily from Russia and China, to be "invested" in US real-estate, with no cost or pricing discrimination and without any questions asked from any authorities.
~ "The housing market like the US economy is on the rise, I tell ya!"

The final result is then spun as a "boom" in real estate by the administration and the banks so very invested in reflating the housing bubble.

The math equation would look like this:

   Scum Fed
+ Scum Obama Admin
+ Scum NAR
+ Scum Banks
__________________
= Housing Recovery which equals an American populace kept habitually stupid to the realities of the economy and how bad things are.

The NAR, those parasites, have misrepresented the real state of the existing US housing market for years, and possess an open waiver for anti-money laundering regulation from none other than Uncle Sam.
~ "Uhh.. Housing.. uhh.. like the US economy uhh.. is on the rise"

So why did the NAR fight for this exemption?

Pretty obvious-- See, not all real estate agents are 'Realtors' --you have to join the NAR.. pay annual dues, etc..  Their job is to make sure there's a free flowing housing market for their fee-payers to make a living from.  3% Commission here... 3% Finders Fee there..  And if there's no true market, they must create and manipulate an artificial one or most of their 'Association' will have to seek out real 40hr employment.

So here's the NAR's official position on money laundering:

    "NAR supports continued efforts to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism through the regulation of entities using a risk-based analysis. Any risk-based assessment would likely find very little risk of money laundering involving real estate agents or brokers. Regulations that would require real estate agents and brokers to adopt anti-money laundering programs may prove to be burdensome and unnecessary given the existing ML/TF regulations that already apply to United States financial institutions."
~  Boy:  'Hey.. Wanna buy a home?'
    Girl:  'Do I??   Where do I sign??'

 In normal English: 'We the NAR believe in the laws regarding money laundering... we just don't believe it should involve us especially when it comes to real estate transactions.  And if you push to make us comply, you're sabotaging and ultimately killing the US housing market.'

From the Telegraph UK: " As China’s new leaders intensify a campaign to root out corruption, thousands of Communist party officials have been panicked into a fire sale of their illicit properties while billions of pounds have been smuggled overseas...

An astonishing $1 trillion (£630 billion), equivalent to 40 per cent of Britain’s annual GDP, had been smuggled out of China illegally in 2012...

In the United States, the National Association of Realtors said that more than $7 billion of properties had been bought by Chinese in the US last year. Some high-end homes are now specifically built for rich Chinese with ponds for koi carp and a second kitchen for pungent cooking."
~  Boy: 'Its amazing how many super-rich Chinese there are'
    Girl: 'Yeah, especially since Communism means spreading wealth equal'

99.9999% of Americans haven't the slightest clue...

On this.. on Anything.

Oh they can regurgitate a million meaningless sports statistics or such tripe...  But when it comes to this nation-- to the Fact that we have not had any semblance of a real, sustainable recovery in over 4 years and its a mere shell game of shifting attentions from here to there to back again...

They're all more than happy to be disoriented; to not know..

Not even the slightest curiosity factor in most people to understand the ruse...
~  Girl:  'I heard you sold your house last week.. Congrats to you!'
    Boy:  'Yeah, only took a 15% loss.. Not bad I think..'

The housing market is not complex because economics is not complex.  We're going to explain it all very honest and adult-like:

In a housing market, you need buyers and sellers.

When people can't find good paying jobs, they don't have the means to buy.

When people are afraid of losing their jobs, they don't possess the willingness to buy.

When people are eating down their life savings waiting for real jobs to be created, it means even if those jobs are found, it takes awhile re-build the nestegg to a point comfortable to buy a home

When a person or couple wish to buy and they don't possess the minimum amount to put down on a house to get a mortgage, or their credit has deteriorated, it means they can not get the loan and thus, can not buy...
Now..  When sellers are resistant to lowering their asking price and buyers feel no pressure to purchase because they feel they're in control, then you do not get sales unless the property is distressed and/or the seller is desperate.

And under normal, non-manipulated circumstances, when a seller's mortgage is higher than what he/she can sell the property for, or the home's value, it is 'underwater' and thus the seller might as well walk way...  this creates a housing glut which only compounds the overall devaluation of other homes..

In order to have a real housing market, good paying jobs must be created, mortgage requirements must be lax and affordable housing must be available to attract buyers of all economic strata.

When none of this occurs, you have a Dead market..

When you manipulate a Dead market, you have what you have currently...