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Monday, February 3, 2014

'It Ain't Easy Being a Banker' & the State of the Consumer

Today's posting is a bit on the morbid side  so if that's not your cup of tea, feel free to skip..

There's an old saying:  Celebrities die in threes.

We certainly hope its not true.
But after reading of Oscar winner Maximilian Schell passing away this past Saturday February 1st in his 80's and quite shockingly Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman die of a drug overdose Sunday the 2nd, we're just hoping there's no 'Third'

It Does seem though that former bank executives Do commit suicide in threes:

Sun 1/28: "William Broeksmit, a recently retired executive at Deutsche Bank AG, is said to have committed suicide in his home in England over the weekend.

Broeksmit’s body was found hanging in his home in London... 58 year old Broeksmit, who retired last February, had two stints at Deutsche Bank, Europe’s biggest investment bank by revenue. (AP)
~ Mr Broeksmit's London home

Mon 1/29: "Gabriel Magee, a 39-year-old JP Morgan bank executive, died this morning after he threw himself off the top of the bank's European headquarters in London...

Magee was a vice president in the corporate and investment bank technology department having joined JP Morgan in 2004" (
~ JP Morgan's London office

Wed 1/31: "Mike Dueker, the chief economist at Russell Investments (and former St. Louis Fed economist), was found dead at the side of a highway that leads to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington state... He was 50.

He may have jumped over a 4-foot (1.2-meter) fence before falling down a 40- to 50-foot embankment...  the death appeared to be a suicide." (Bloomberg)
Maybe it was all coincidental?  Doubt it.

Conspiratorial?  Doubt it as well..

If we had to make a general wager without knowing any of these people or their biographies in the muck and filth of finance, we surmise these suicides relate to things these men knew are coming down the economic 'pike' in the future

Speculation of course.. we'll never know..  Well unless things get really bad quicker than even we at A&G predict (we see it occurring by autumn)
It is usually After market crash and calamity that bankers take their lives because they feel incredible shame in their contribution to the suffering others will be facing in their wake...  Or they lost their life savings in a fingersnap

In Japan, its called Hari-Kari where dishonorable and terrible men grasp one shred of decency amid the evil they created or contributed to and literally fall on their swords.

And in doing so, they take shame away from their families.
~ A G-rated cartoon of it

None of the CEOs and heads of America's largest banks or corporations chose to do the noble thing..  Neither did our politicians..

They're still here on Earth walking about.. Reaping financial benefit.. Many still in charge of things..  Still in positions of power and influence.. All Guilt-free where 2008 is concerned.

Here's some true facts about this economy and more importantly where the American consumer is (Remember, the US consumer is responsible for 70% of the overall economy)

American disposable income fell - 0.2% in December and - 2.7% over the past 12 months.  If you don’t think that’s a big deal, please note that it’s the largest year-to-year drop since 1974, or 40 years.
Now household purchases were up 0.4% from last December. How so?

Pretty obvious actually: Americans have cut into their savings to the tune of $46 billion to afford their holiday shopping.  That means people aren't spending new money.. They're living off reserves.

The saving rate for December '13 decreased to 3.9%, the lowest level since January '13, from 4.3%..  That means for every $100 a person is bringing in via wages, only $3.90 is being saved.. the rest spent either on essentials or frivolously.
And those who don't have cash reserves live off credit cards which is why Visa and Master Card show continual strong usage.

Of  course if Americans had good paying jobs available that weren't downsized or shipped across the border or overseas, maybe this current 6yr recession-depression wouldn't be so harsh for many..

We'll end with this little gem..
Earlier in the week the Department of Homeland Security, having nothing better to do with itself beyond guarding the Super Bowl decided to get 'tough' and crackdown on vendors selling unlicensed NFL merchandise..

 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director John Sandweg said in a statement: “Our agents are committed to combating the criminal enterprises selling counterfeit products which undermine our economy, and take jobs away from Americans,” (

On the face of it, the statement doesn't seem odd in any way..

Then start to think.. OK, where are 99.9% of T-shirts, caps, jackets, and other souvenirs made?

Not US Factories.. that's for sure...  It's made in Korea, Mexico, Philippines, Haiti, Vietnam, Ghana, Jordan. etc..
~ Two NFL Reebok jersey labels -- the fake made in China.. the real made in Korea.. neither made in the US..  we can't even make forgeries anymore..

Open your closets and drawers.. Look through your clothing..  Where is it made?

Where is it NOT made?

Now, who were the people that ICE arrested selling the non-licensed merchandise?

Yep..  Americans.

So DHS pretends to combat  "the criminal enterprises selling counterfeit products which undermine our economy, and take jobs away from Americans"  and Yet they arrest Americans selling crap made overseas...
~ Nike currently makes NFL jerseys.. Here's a Nike factory overseas.. Don't the workers look happy?

Its a corrupt global system..

And sometimes people involved in the day to day inter workings of it just can't handle it anymore..

And the guilt and stress become too much to bear..

Banking, Finance and Investment --  They are not professions to admire.