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Monday, October 31, 2011

Why I like China & Japan today

Its Halloween, so for those who celebrate and enjoy this day, I made my artwork connected to that theme rather than specific to the topic I am writing on.. Hopefully it won't be too distracting to the reader but just wanted to spice up a topic like finance, that's normally so dry and stale, with a little joy..

So onto the 'meat' of the posting...

Remember when you were a child; a young, naive impressionable child-- and if your parents spoke on tooth fairies, Santa Claus or goblins in the closet, etc, you actually believed it and reacted with excitement or fear?

There's a certain group of adults who act with the same kind of naivety and ignorance, but aren't 4yrs old biologically (only emotionally) and tend to believe any piece of bleep others say, particularly when it comes from the mouth of a collection of world leaders like say, an EU summit--  these stupid people are called Investors and traders.

The markets spiked last Thursday over 300pts based on Nothing but hope and promises.  I won't rehash the particulars, but generally speaking the gist was now the 'promise' Europe was Saved from the precipice of destruction, and the 'hope' China would come to the economic rescue, while the US dollar was extremely weak and continue, thus Yay Corporate profits!

Now let's break that down:

First Europe...

Found good commentary of the deal in the Telegraph UK -- "The markets loved it. So that's all right then. Anyone who believes that the euro crisis is over should remind themselves that these are the self-same markets which, not that long ago, were lending to Greece at virtually the same interest rate as they were to Germany...  More likely, (the deal) will unravel, or the system will suffer another major debt shock and a banking crisis."

In simple everyday terms, what happened concerning the Euro deal and markets was akin to a very emaciated, disheveled woman dressed in rags walking the catwalk like she was a model, and fashion 'experts' with agendas hard-pushing how healthy, wonderful & enchanting she looks, etc.  Europe is in no better shape today than last week, and will be in even worse economic shape in 2012.

Next.. China.

One of the rallying points of last week was a belief China would be like an economic white knight and ride to the rescue.  Sarkozy of France sought them out and angered many in his own government.  Well like everything else the market bases its investing decisions on, it was all hope and wishing/wanting:

"China's official Xinhua news agency on Sunday declared: "China can neither take up the role as a savior to the Europeans, nor provide a 'cure' for the European malaise. Obviously, it is up to European countries themselves to tackle their financial problems.'' -- AP

When it comes to China, is it safe to say that Europe, like the US are both at beggar status?

Finally.. US dollar weakness and Japan.  Seems that traitorous bastard Fed Chair Ben Bernanke thinks he is the only one who can dramatically weaken the currency of his own nation for the benefit of corporations.  Well Japan, among others, does it too.  

"The dollar rose sharply against the yen Monday after the Bank of Japan weakened its currency to help Japanese exporters." -- AP

So what's going on in the market today as of 2:30p?

Dow down -158   Oil down 60cents..  Hmm, and what's the Market-oil-dollar collarary again?

Market goes down when oil goes down and US dollar strengthens.

Market goes up when oil rises and US dollar weakens.

So what to take or make from all this financial gobbletygook?

1) Nothing has changed, nothing is better and no one should be shopping and spending money as if the global economy has turned some magical 'corner'.  In fact for most everyday people things are unfortunately getting worse... here's an example:

"The besieged housing market has even further to fall before home prices really hit rock bottom. According to Fiserv, a financial analytics company, home values are expected to fall another 3.6% by next June, pushing them to a new low of 35% below the peak reached in early 2006 and marking a triple dip in prices. Several factors will be working against the housing market in the upcoming months, including an increase in foreclosure activity and sustained high unemployment" - CNN/Money

2)  Investors are clueless, mindless animals.  They breed in the filth of speculation, rumor, false hope and move in any direction the 'pack' moves.  They have no concern over recession or 'recovery'; and people must wake up & stop admiring the cackling geese who offer financial advice on CNBC, etc..

3)  All the nations of the world are in a race to devalue their currencies the quickest and most dramatic.  All nations work for the benefit of their corporations and the needs/wants of Investors.  The populace may have elections but ultimately everyday people's needs mean nothing when it comes to the economic policy decisions of ALL nations.

The media lies to you constantly about how things are improving or at least stabilizing.  And they will be pushing this Extremely Hard as it gets closer to Christmastime shopping.  Some people are genuinely unaffected economically while others are feeling the pain on a daily basis-- this is the Two Americas we talk on often.  

But overall, our message transcends this economic divide:  Be smart with your finances.  Make a holiday budget based on what is realistic for you and stick rigidly to it.  Remember, there is a Dec 26th and a 27th, and an eventual 2012...  

And 2012 is going to be a doozy...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Employers & Skill Shortage? A Personal Reflection

I start this posting with a quote from the Wall Street Journal, an honest and candid assessment on why companies are not getting the employees they need..  Are they going through a skill shortage?

"Some of the complaints about skill shortages boil down to the fact that employers can't get candidates to accept jobs at the wages offered. That's an affordability problem, not a skill shortage. A real shortage means not being able to find appropriate candidates at market-clearing wages. We wouldn't say there is a shortage of diamonds when they are incredibly expensive; we can buy all we want at the prevailing prices... American companies don't seem to do training anymore"

Dr. Cappelli, Wharton Professor, Univ. of Penn  (source: WSJ)

It vividly reminded me of a job interview from my high school days.  It was a summer job I was seeking- a data entry position.  I filled out a resume but the employer was still insistent I take 30-45min of my life away to fill his application. My resume was required but yet not good enough.. Tick Tock.. Scribble Scribble..

Then we sat down for the interview.

First thing he noticed when glancing at my application was I left the salary demand blank.  I didn't see the point in filling it.  He knew exactly how much he was willing to pay me ($8/hr) and if I put down what I really was desiring ($10/hr), the interview would have ended before it began.  And if I put a lower number, I'd be short-changing myself and showing a lack of confidence; a willingness to settle.

So he and I politely argued over this (as I quietly seethed) then seeing his absolute refusal to accept a blank demand, I put $9/hr sought.  The interviewer looked at it and smugly said, "Well this job pays $8/hr.. "  I wanted to slap him hard.  I just simply said 'ah'.

Then we went over what computer skills I possessed.  Was I proficient in Mac?  Yes. Windows 95?  '98? Yes to both.  On and on..  Then he asked about a program called Peachtree.  I say No, I am not familiar.  He gruffles and goes 'Oh.. well that's important'.   Well what about the other 9 programs I was grilled on- weren't they?  Realizing this interview was pretty much over by his behavior and pen tapping, and not being the cowardly sort, I stated, "Well you know, you could train me on Peachtree.  I am a quick learner"  He responded they didn't have the time to do this i.e 'We don't want to pay you eight precious dollars to spend one hour to teach you Peachtree basics'

By this point I stated something to the effect "I am sure this ad has been in the paper a while because you expect applicants to know every software program and then pay nothing for that knowledge.  Either stop being so cheap and pay to train new employees or raise your salary demands so you really attract the type of person you seek'.

He briskly told me 'Thankyou for your opinion-- Good day'  and that was that.  Pushed briskly out the door without a hand being laid on me. I couldn't help but laugh to myself at the absurdity of this employer and thought to myself- certainly they can't all be like him?

Eighteen months later his small business was no longer in existence.  Newspaper article at the time said one of his employees had embezzled money then used it to pay off gambling debts.  The employee was arrested but the money never recovered.  And abruptly, the company closed its doors.

I remember reading it at the time and imagining if I had been hired by such a cheap, bottom-line person, the work experience would have been pure Misery.

Unfortunately there's Millions and Millions of Americans who either work for assholes like that or interact with them in the job hiring process.

Remember, if you're willing to learn every little piece of information possible in a particular field and offer your intellect and time for a fraction of what you should be paid (like 25-40% less), you will be coveted and never deal with long term job loss.   You will also be Pathetic.

But that's a posting for another day.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Quick Comments 10/28/11

~ Or you may not be offended.. nice hat though, yes?

Well, we're Still recovering from yesterday's market insipidness-  we can rant and rant but short of an act of God, very little can stop the System from screwing over the bottom 99% while 53% play the role of loyal lapdog to the Corporations.

That said, we never stop fighting.. neither should you.

Anyways, its Friday evening so time for some quick comments to real headlines:

The Only Way to Avoid Another U.S. Recession (Yahoo!) --  The article states: "The one thing, the only thing, that can save us from a recession in the first-quarter of 2012 is the great bearded one. No, not Santa Claus. Santa Bernanke."  Funny-- everyone's trying to save America from a 'recession' yet we're in year 4 of an ongoing depression.  Maybe the one thing we need to save us is Santa Christo.

The Economic Agony of Today’s Twentysomethings (Yahoo!) --  We know the stats: average student debt at $24k, unemployment higher than national average, etc..  but let's not forget the agony of hearing politicians tell them its going to get better soon while Generation Huh! is being forced to watch nonstop commercials on TV selling them shit they don't need with money/credit they don't have.. That's agony.

U.S. Confidence Rises in Sign U.S. Will Keep Recovery Intact (Bloomberg) --  Yep, it rose a whole point and a half: from 59.4 to 60.9. Wow.. 100 would mean healthy confidence.  Think of it like school- if your child's test taking abilities improved from 59.4 to 60.9, would you brag?  Bloomberg felt like it.  Oh, did you know-- The Consumer Confidence Index is based on the data from a monthly survey of 5000 US households.  There are over 310 Million people living in the US.  Accurate barometer of mood of nation? Um, No.

Bank of America Starting to Scale Back Debit-Card Fees (CNBC) -- Guess you can add B of A to a list including Netflix, all Airlines and hmm, well Every Single corporation in existence that tries to squeeze blood from a stone by adding fees, surcharges or additional expenses onto a general public who is sick of it and actively fights back, then the company retreats with tail between legs.  If only the American people could stop using Bank of America altogether and put their $$ elsewhere.  Oh what a beautiful demise that would be.

No Scrooge Here: Analyst Sees Best Holiday Sales Since 2004 (CNBC) -- The propaganda bullshit machine never stops does it? Anything to exude confidence.  Here's a headline on the same topic last week: Experts predict ho-hum holiday shopping (Reuters 10/20) -- "U.S. shoppers plan to spend an average of $704.18 on holiday gifts and seasonal goods this year, down nearly 2.1 percent from the $718.98 they spent in 2010, according to a survey issued by the National Retail Federation yesterday."  Oh who to believe... the market loving maggots at CNBC or Reuters? Hmmm...

NBA Deal Closer? (AP) --  The NBA..  what is that?   Kidding, its the professional basketball league.  Basketball- a game that is played in 48 regulation minutes but the last 2 minutes of the game take 30 minutes to finish.  If there's no season, what will I watch?  I am really going to miss Olympic Curling

‘It Gets Heated’: Twin Sisters Divided Over Occupy Wall Street (ABC News) -- One sister supports the OccupyWallStreet movement while the other doesn't.  In other "News", two brothers are divided over who to root for in Game 7 of the World Series, and a married couple of 50 years can't decide which is better chocolate or vanilla cake?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Archie Bunker mentality

Seems some people don't like OccupyWallStreet's message that among other things, the wealthy should be paying far more in taxes, especially as they've been living high on the hog for so many decades (During Eisenhower's Administration- the prosperous 1950s, the highest percentage of wealthy payed 90% in taxes; now its 35%)

They are calling themselves the 53% movement because they say 47% do not pay taxes, and they are tired of paying for others.  They are also annoyed the OccupyWallStreet movement tries to lump them in with them (those riff-raff; pardon moi but could someone please pass the Grey Poupon?) and believe people should be allowed to make as much money as humanly possible while a billionaire shouldn't have to pay more taxes than anyone else.

Here are some Archie Bunker (1970s TV's All in the Family) type responses from their Facebook page, care of Yahoo!; "I am responsible for my own destiny," writes one 34-year-old father of three. "I will succeed or fail because of me and me alone." (and) "I took jobs I didn't want. Why don't you?" says one poster to the protesters. "Suck it up and become part of the 53%.""

Tsk Tsk... Oh where to begin??  Anyone who thinks they solely control their own destiny and sinks or swims solely because of them and no one else, is an Idiot.  There's always going to be people who do not have more than two nickles to scratch together, and yet be extremely good & loyal lapdogs to corporations and the well-to-do.

No one lives on an island and no one succeeds on their own.  Government provided the education almost every American has received (with exception of private school and home study).  They also provided for many the transportation to go to school i.e. buses.  Government on a state or local level also provided the libraries which you visited to do research papers or checkout books with zero cost to you.  And government provided and co-signed on the student loans that by other rights, you as a 18yr old had no business receiving, which allowed you to get your degree.

Now when you go out into the world with a brain full of information in a field to which you acquired your degree, and there are few to no jobs because they've been outsourced or no one really respects your field of study enough to provide decent paying jobs, that means your destiny is involuntarily altered by others.  And if you do have a job that pays well, and suddenly you get a pink slip, you are absolutely in Zero control of that. And Lord help you if you choose to not go to college in today's job market- the only choices you will have is burger flipper or store greeter.  So to say one is in control of their destiny or sink/swim on their own is a naive fool, like Archie Bunker was.

Now the morons who say, "I took jobs I didn't want.."... they are part of the problem why all Americans suffer in the work force.   In the US, we have a minimum wage of $7.25/hr but above it, anyone can offer their services for as little as possible and undercut one another in a "Lord of the Flies" manner, just as employers want and expect.  If a certain job in a certain field pays $18-$22/hr for example, and some prick comes along and says to the Boss, "Hey, I'll do it for $14/hr" because his/her mindset is 'I'll do whatever I have to do to survive', guess who gets hired- the $14/hr prick or the person who still seeks $18-22/hr?

And thus widespread, you see national wages drop 10-25% across the board while the products and services never decrease. And everyone ultimately suffers as we become slaves to debt to make up the shortfall.  The person who will do any work at any price feels so smug and cocky, but he/she has contributed to the further downfall of this nation.  While on the other hand, there's power in numbers- when people refuse to undercut one another and take decreased wages while employers struggle to expand their business without going back to old salary, then you have real control of destiny.

This dynamic- those barely making it economically who defend the rich and powerful, is a big reason why Republicans are able to compete in elections; the party is made up of Barons, Bankers and "Bunkers".

EU agreement: The Investor Baddies win again

~ EU's leaders- call cut from the same soulless cloth

You will hear and read many reasons why the market has dramatically spiked today.  Among them that the leaders of Europe have agreed "to boost the region's bailout fund and struck a deal with banks and insurers to accept 50 percent losses on Greek bonds." (Reuters)

This is by the way, a collective sell out their populaces once again to the tune of the creation of a One Trillion Euro backstop to help prop up banks and cover investor risks in the future. Amazing isn't it- All political leaders of all political party persuasions are All deeply shortsighted and evil.  Just 'pass the buck' and hope things don't fully explode (or implode) on their watch.

There must be a political gene that makes all leaders of all nations sociopathic, egotistical and self-serving.   Maybe that's why they have such a connection with Investors and go out of their way to treat them like royalty.

But I digress.

The real reason markets are climbing are these 3 headlines, all from Reuters:

1  Euro Climbs to Fresh Seven-Week Peak vs. Dollar

2  Dollar falls to fresh record low against the yen

3  Dollar falls 2 percent against the Swiss franc

I am a bit of a repetitive parrot on this point because its important to understand and remember--  the stronger the market, the weaker the US dollar.  The weaker the US dollar, the more it cost Americans to buy Everything (oil is up an additional $3.92 per barrel today-- guess who pays at pump? Point-point) while benefiting soulless corporations who can acquire greater profits abroad from cheaper exports.  It also means the US government doesn't have to pay back as much debt to China because the currency is weaker.

~ Lots n lots n lots of Euros...

And lastly, Investors are cockroaches- they only care of profit, not you the everyday person, so when the market rises, it is Absolutely NO reflection of the greater US economy.  It only means profit was to be found, like leftover sweets in a trashcan to be devoured.  Treasonous snake Fed Chair Ben Bernanke has been successful in his multi-Trillion dollar efforts to kick start the market while destroying savers and ability of people to generate capital through non-speculative means.

What makes the European deal disgusting is the same themes that made the 2008 US bailouts disgusting (and which pompous fuck politicians act like they saved the world):  The Banks get bailed out, money gets sucked out of National treasuries to cover others, resulting in higher taxes, lower wages, weakening pensions and reduction of social services.

And Nothing was solved.  The 'can' simply was kicked some more.

But no one can be surprised.  Politicians and governments are good at this: coming up with magical solutions out of thin air which simply buy them time and breathing room.  It would be comical if not that these self-centered decisions have ramifications for generations.

But that's how it works- enact policy with total self-interest in mind and convince just enough people its for their own good, so that they can go back to watching football and other tripe, and a populace is soothed that otherwise without the mindless distractions, would be charging their leaders' domiciles with pitchforks and hangman nooses.

One thing here at A&G, we don't pretend to be neutral and insult the reader's intelligence.  We here are all angry... and Tired!  Tired of these same games being played for Three years now.  Banks Must be Saved.  Markets Must be Strengthened.  Investors must be placated.  And Damn all the peoples of the world who pay for it!

The world keeps getting worse and the bad people keep winning.

The righteous side- We are due a victory. Have faith-- it will come.

And we keep going.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Another Backdoor Bank Bailout by another name

We're back from our business trip, and super-exhausted from all the hustle-bustle that travelling can cause, so this post will be more to the point.

Seems on Monday or Tuesday (so hard to lose track of days without internet sometimes), President Obama announced a plan to help mortgage holders by reducing their payments by entering a program called HARP.  Yay~  The only thing is, that if the homeowner ends up defaulting after entering the program, the liability has been passed from the banks themselves to Freddie & Fannie Mac.   And who owns them?

Yep-- you & I.

If you want to read the more complicated explanation, see below:

From Huffington Post:  "The newly expanded program would expunge legal liabilities associated with mortgages refinanced through the program for the original lenders of the mortgages. Each time a bank sent a loan to Fannie and Freddie, it certified that the loan met Fannie and Freddie's safe lending criteria. But many loans sent to the mortgage giants did not, in fact, meet those criteria. Currently, when borrowers default on those ineligible loans, the mortgage giants can "put back" the resulting losses onto the banks that pushed the loans.

Under the modified plan, "put back" liability at banks will be erased for any underwater mortgage that is refinanced through HARP, eliminating Fannie and Freddie's ability to sack lenders with losses in the event that the mortgage does not pan out.

If borrowers go through HARP, but decide after several months that the modest monthly savings do not outweigh owing tens of thousands of dollars more than their home is worth, taxpayer-owned Fannie and Freddie will have to take the full loss. Even if the original loan was sent to Fannie and Freddie with false or fraudulent guarantees from the bank -- promises that may directly be tied to the borrower's current financial problems -- banks will be immune from liability. Fannie and Freddie plan to charge banks "a modest fee" to extinguish this liability, but the administration has yet to determine what that fee will be."

Cliff notes version: Obama's plan means taxpayer-owned Fannie and Freddie will have to take the full loss. & banks will be immune from liability.  

Why must Every Single Fucking policy enacted by Bush, Obama or the Fed be a secret backdoor bank bailout?? Can't they take a Loss??!!

 Today the President also announced a plan to 'help' those with student debts- lower monthly payments and consolidate to lower Interest Rates.  Not sure if this is another bank bailout- haven't had time to read particulars, but that should certainly help when the students reach month 12 or 24 after graduation and still can't find work.

Now see what happens when one travels too much-- we get cranky.  Well a good night's sleep and we'll be back to writing more time-topical posts Thursday...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Be back Wednesday evening 10-26

Ahh.. More business.. more travel..  So tiring but on rare occasion its necessary.

We'll be back Wed night..until then, here's a reposting.. Enjoy~

A US History of War- 'Moral & Just'?

originally posted on July 20, 2011
~ Spanish American War (1898) veteran in 1948

This posting is a little different that normal in that the focus isn't so much on economics and finance as is it the military and the US history of being at war.

I was watching a documentary last night on the Vietnam War made in 1972 where servicemen stationed at various military bases who had been deployed previously and returned, and those about to be sent off, were speaking honestly about the conflict.  Many spoke of feeling that Vietnam was not a 'moral and just' war.

And that got me thinking.. In the entire history of the US military from Revolutionary War until the present conflicts, how many wars have we truly fought that were 'moral and just'? Or was the situation in Vietnam something new?  So I decided to break down each war the US has been involved in militarily to see if it can fit as 'moral and just'.  No judgments are made on those who serve or have served.  This exercise was meant to look at government's decision making processes and rationales.
Revolutionary War (1775-1781) -  Obviously Americans feel it was a moral and just war because it brought about independence and a new nation.  But let's get beyond that Civics 101 nonsense- What provoked the war to take place?  Merchants in New England did not want to pay increased taxes by the British govt' to fund a past war (French & Indian War) that city-dwelling colonists did not get any direct benefit from.

So the masses were riled up into a lather by cheap merchants, and from Boston Tea Party to Boston  'Massacre', the rebellion drum was beaten harder and harder until eventually shots were fired. And if the colonists' cause was so just and moral, why was it that the British offered full freedom to any black man who took up arms to help crush the rebellion?  Wouldn't emancipation have been something we ourselves would offer since we were supposedly fighting for it?

Much more I could write but for brevity sake, I won't...
War of 1812 (1812-1814)-  This was the second fight with the British and our 2nd economic fight.  This was a war over free trade, control of the seas, impressement  (opposing nations coming on board and taking sailors to commandeer to serve as sailor in that nation's fleet).  The war essentially ended in a draw though the Battle of New Orleans was fought months after the Treaty of Ghent had officially ended the war in 1814. The Battle was a rout, a great achievement by General (and future President) Andrew Jackson.  Nonetheless, the conflict was not a 'moral and just' one.
Indian Wars (1810s- 1840s)- There were many small wars between US military and the Native American population during this period. Collectively, the goal was to push the various tribes west from the Appalacians, Ohio Valley and still recently new Louisiana Purchase territory.  Some US successes, some failures but nothing moral about the "Trail of Tears", Seminole Wars and other military actions around this time.
Mexican War (1846-1848)-  Some will say the war was fought to liberate Texas and make it a US state. The US was also big on a concept called 'manifest destiny' which is a way of saying it is the US' destiny to expand its empire as far as eye could see and westward to the Pacific.  The US won and acquired a lot of land- future states of TX, OK, NM, AZ, CA, CO and NV.  The war was a great success for America; just not a moral and just one.
US Civil War (1861-1865)- Now at this point you're going 'Aha!' But let's really understand what happened and not what your history teacher/asst. football coach taught you in HS.   The Civil War was not fought over slavery in terms of human bondage, rather the economics of the institution.   Slavery meant free labor which undercut northern businesses. They used mostly immigrant labor who were treated to horrible working conditions by northern owners.  But they still received a wage and that meant greater profits for Southerners who paid none. In addition, Southern cotton was exported across the Atlantic to Liverpool England to be milled because it was more economically cost-effective than to send the cotton to northern mills. Many Northern industrialists wanted to stop this practice.

By the time the war began in April, 1861, the fight had nothing to do with slavery on a human level and the Union had zero concerns on the institution or curtailing it.  To paraphrase Lincoln, if he could unite the Union by freeing some of the slaves in some of the states or all of them or none of them, the focus was preserving one nation.  The Emancipation Proclamation came about in early-mid 1862 as a means to motivate Union soldiers to re-enlist at years' end by making the war a 'moral' one.  It turned out to be good propaganda because the ruse worked nd re-enlistment soared by New Years, 1863 even though Lincoln held off releasing it for months until there was a Union victory as not to appear 'weak' and it only freed slaves in states it had no jurisdiction--the Confederacy itself.  Border states that aligned with the Union were allowed to keep slavery.
Indian Wars (1860's- 1890's)-  A continuation of first series of Native American wars upon various tribes. Some American setback, some victories and ultimately pushed millions of people into territories then 'Americanized' them by giving them Christian names and clothing to attempt to take away all sense of heritage identity and pride.  All this done so railroads could expand and connect to California.
Spanish American War (1898)- Not much moral about it.. we wanted ownership of Cuba and Philippines so the US provoked armed conflict by rigging an explosion upon the USS Maine (Remember the Maine!) and blaming it on Spanish provocateurs.  The conflict ended rather quickly.
Military involvement in Central & South America (early 1900s)- Marines sent to numerous places (Haiti, Nicaragua, etc) to occupy various nations while assisting US business interests in gaining a foothold in this part of the world.
World War I (1914-1918)- US involvement was only the last 9 months of the war even though official declaration was in 1917.  Most believe we declared war on Germany because of the sinking of the Lusitania and/or the Zimmerman Telegram where Germany's Ambassador to Mexico promised them they would be given back territory lost during the Mexican War if they opened a military front on the Mexican-US border.

Both incidents were part of the overall reason but in 1917 the war was going badly for the Triple Entente (Britain, France & Russia)  When the Russian people rose up and overthrew Czar Nicholas II, that took Russia out of the war.  And had Germany won, American investors who had heavily backed England would have taken a Severe financial beating.  So they pressured Woodrow Wilson to eventually enter a war he had spent years promising he wouldn't involve the US military in.  WWI was not a moral and just war and neither was US' involvement.  After the war, Wilson tried to push through his highly idealistic and naive 14 Points, but neither Europeans or the opposition party at home wanted anything to do with it.
World War II (1939-1945)-  Ok.. This is The Moral War if there ever was one, right? Obviously when you look at the number of lives lost and in particular the millions of innocents exterminated for their religion, ethnicity or outright hate.  But its important to look with objectivity too.  The war began in September, 1939.  It took 27 months for the US to enter.  And what provoked US involvement- some horrific act the Nazis perpetrated upon innocents?  No, it was an attack by Japan.  In fact, in 1940 the US govt sent many boats full of emigres and those escaping persecution from Germany BACK to Germany, the "Spirit of St. Louis" being a famous example (not specifically Charles Lindbergh's plane)

The war ended by dropping 2 nuclear bombs on Japan.  I am not saying it was wrong since many experts on WWII argue had that action not occurred, it would have taken a million US soldiers invading Japan and many more years of fighting to truly end the war.   So one can not discard elements of necessity.  But a moral and just war, by definition does not end with the destruction that 2 atom bombs create.  Nonetheless, this war was the closest the US has come to fighting a truly moral and just war, especially considering the monsterous enemy which was defeated, particularly in Europe.
Cold War (1945-1990)- For time constraints, I incorporated Korean War (1950-53), Vietnam (1964-75) and every other military action we took to try to stop the spread of Communism as the argument went.  If you truly believe communism is an insidious evil, then you believe all the armed conflicts of the period were necessary to protect freedom and democracy.  If you feel that the 'domino theory' and fear of communism spreading and infecting like a virus is a bunch of BS, then you don't look at any part of this period as being moral or just.
Modern War (1991-present)- In this list, I include Operation Desert Storm (1991) with current invasion and occupation of Iraq (2003- present) since I see Desert Storm as a prelude, rather than a conflict distinct in itself.  I also bunch together operations in the Balkans (mid-late 1990s), Afghanistan (2001- present), Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, on 'n on 'n on.... Some say we're fighting terrorism.  Others feel we're being colonists and nation builders to serve our geo-political and varied corporate interests.

American soldiers throughout history have generally speaking, been very moral and honorable men and women. And this posting was not meant to disparage them,  There's always exceptions who do not represent the military in its entirety but overall US soldiers over history have conducted themselves admirably.

But in terms of US government policy specifically, the causes and justifications to go to war, and military involvement with adversaries domestic and abroad, America has a very poor historical track record.  And even when we fight in wars with moralistic aims and goals,  it always seems to take a backseat to the economic interests of special interests and financiers.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The higher they rise...

The Dow finished +104 at 11,913 and oil rose a whopping $4.22 per barrel to close at $91.61.

You know what that means folks:  The market-oil corollary is intact and as Investors benefit, you suffer more at the pump. Just 4 weeks ago oil was at $72/barrel- this was when the financial media was saying how terrible it was that markets were dropping.

Yep, just terrible...

And what information did cockroach Investors choose to ignore today?

* Realistic possibility of USA credit downgraded by another agency within 6 wks.

* EU's leaders not having a clue how to contain the debt; supposedly a magic solution will come on Wed- this is what the vermin who make their living in the market hope and believe anyways.

*  Continual ignoring real economic factors that nation is in serious rut- unemployment, home value depreciation, no sign of improvement, etc.. oh, you know-- the lil things everyone else cares about

I'm still hoping for a market crash.. I do so every day.  Not to financially profit or benefit from it (I'd rather swim with literal sharks than put $10 into this market).  I want the market to drop severely to a level consistent with the True ecomomy, because its the only way to rid the market of the speculative element which is driving up prices of all commodities- oil, electricity, corn, cotton, etc.. that the bottom 99% are affected by.

You should be hoping for one too.

~ I shoulda' been a tree surgeon

Why one should never Assume

Still travelling on business but nice to find an internet connection briefly..

Anyways, we comment often that the mainstream media are basically...hmm.. how to put it nicely?  Oh why bother.. they're idiots.   Corporate shills who are deeply lazy and don't take the time to do a fraction of the research and investigation that they used to 10-20 years ago?

Here's another example.. this one just struck me in its absurdity, not in the content in the article, but the assumption it makes:

Vatican Calls for 'Central World Bank' to Be Set Up  (CNBC) -- "The Vatican called on Monday for the establishment of a "global public authority" and a "central world bank" to rule over financial institutions that have become outdated and often ineffective in dealing fairly with crises.  A major document from the Vatican's Justice and Peace department should be music to the ears of the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrators and similar movements around the world..."


I won't even address why the hell the Vatican needs to be making any public comments on Finance or Economics when its focus should be on Peace, Love and spreading God's gospel.  Perhaps time should have been devoted instead to doing a study on how to motivate people to live a more moral, ethical life or treat others with kindness and love.  So we can't blame CNBC for that part..

But assumptions we can.  

Remember when one assumes, they make an Ass out of U & Me

I don't recall ever reading where the goal of #OccupyWallStreet was establishing centralized banking or a 'global public authority', and I mean Ever!!  Its a diverse movement- some want banking fairness, others want the elimination of banks.  Some want Wall St to be held accountable and use that free money the Fed gave them to create jobs.  Others, like A&G want the market to dramatically drop and for professional investors to hemorrhage money to the point they can't speculate for a very long time.

And a thousand other points of view and ideologies in between

But once again.. nowhere and i mean Nowhere have I heard or read the goal of the movement being the creation of a globalized central bank!

CNBC-  you really are second rate

As for us, we'll post again today if the opportunity presents itself.  

In all likelihood we'll be doing some more travelling between Tuesday- Wed. night where internet will be difficult, but will update if those plans change

Saturday, October 22, 2011

10/22/11 - - We'll be back in a couple days

We will be travelling for the next couple days where internet connections are hard to come by, so we will be away until sometime late Monday evening when we will resume..

In the meantime, enjoy:

~ L Frank Baum's "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" written in 1900 was both a beautiful story for children and a political and economic allegory for the times which Baum lived

The current economic recession-depression, which has lasted 45 months now with no recovery in sight, has been written about and debated in countless blogs and other media outlets.  Some perspectives are offensively optimistic while others are so depressing, their view of the future is apocalyptic.   One thing I've learned is with all the corruption of Wall St, the financials, Big Business and government (both parties), it is that this is not a new epidemic.

This insatiable need to profit at all cost did not start in the last 30 years with Reaganomics nor it didn't start in the era of Franklin Roosevelt or Teddy..  it has permeated this nation almost from its onset.

I thought it would be interesting to bring in a 19th century perspective, to show that really things haven't changed much in terms of greed, corruption and how upset people felt about banking & finance then as they do today.    The following excerpts are from "Our Money Wars: The Example & Warning of American Finance" by Samuel Leavitt written in 1894.   Any comments by me will be in blue font:

"Our financial kings have kept two purposes in view. First: To have our money issued by and for the special use of private institutions called banks; and to have this money scanty in quantity and of fluctuating value. Second: To issue, foster and maintain, by all possible means, bonds and other interest-bearing obligations, as the most convenient means of transferring to the few the product of the industry of the many.

To maintain these humbugs, they use learned language, like doctors writing prescriptions in Latin. All the expert handlers of money, stocks, etc., hate nothing so much as that which is best for the other classes, viz., steady values. Their delight is in ups and downs; and then, if speculators, their effort is to be on the winning side. With brokers, every change is profitable. With them it is, "Heads I win, tails you lose." Copernicus said of the work of these traitors : "It is not by a blow, but little by little, and through a secret and obscure approach, that it destroys the State." "

* Remember, this was written in 1894, not within the last couple years.  In simple words, banks and its financial instruments are meant to keep most of the wealth 'in house' and not among the populace.  Also, in finance they use special language, intentionally complex so that the average person has no clue what they're talking about.. or doing.  Quick quiz-  What is a Credit Default Swap?  What is Mark to Market?  What is the Birth/Death Index?   If you know- good for you.  If you don't, its because you weren't meant to.

~ 1894 coinage

"In coin-paying eras corrupt governments and lenders have debased coins to make them go further. In these credit-mongering times they try to bring their coin basis down to one metal—gold — and clamor for extreme fineness of that; in order to make their inverted pyramid of credit go further, sell dearer, and suck more usury."

* This is what the government is doing- debasing the currency and weakening the US dollar so that our exports are less expensive to purchase and we as a nation won';t have to pay our debts to foreign creditors at the same currency valuation in which we took the loans

"The new American System of money is mainly and briefly this:—Abundant government fiat paper money founded upon the wealth and credit of a great, stable nation; such money to be kept at a steady purchasing power by the increase and decrease of its volume ; and to be quite void of intrinsic value, and quite free from particular commodities as bases for the monetary units

* Even back in 1894, the concern was paper money and how easy it was to devalue when backed by nothing.  The great debate was whether the US Dollar would be backed by a Gold Standard or Silver.  Eventually Gold won the day, but today its a moot point since Nixon took the dollar off Gold in 1971 connected with the drain on US Treasury due to the expense of fighting in Vietnam.  Coincidentally, the consistent decline of the middle class up to today can trace its origins to that policy decision.  But even in 1894, the paper money's value could easily be strengthened or weakened based on the amount of dollars printed or pretty much any arbitrary reason.

"While any kind of a change, up or down, suits many gamblers and speculators, the steady increase in the buying power of the dollar, for thirty years past, has been destroying the producers of this country ; and largely creating the pestiferous breed of millionaires"

* Today we call them Billionaires.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Media Manipulation of Bureau of Labor Stats

The Bureau of Labor Statistics today reported that half of US states saw a decrease in unemployment figures.

And pretty much that was that,  The putrid media didn't choose to delve into the numbers to paint a more accurate picture of what the BLS stated today.

 Luckily for you dear readers, A&G did.

Let's put aside the obvious semantic word games which is that if 50% of state employment improved, it means really the other 50% got stayed the same or got worse.  In the BLS report, they mention specific states who were the highest in job additions and subtractions, so let's bounce them off one another.

The US state that added the most jobs in September was Florida with an increase of 23,300 jobs.  The US state that lost the most jobs in September was North Carolina, a loss of 22,200.   So when you take the state with the highest increase and the highest decrease, that difference is +1,100 jobs created.

Good so far..

Let's compare 2nd best vs 2nd worst now--   Texas added 15,400 more jobs to rank second best in employment addition.  Ohio ranked second worst, a loss of 21,600.  So when you merge the two figures, that's a difference of 6,200 jobs lost.

Now let's compare 3rd place states--  Louisiana was 3rd best when it came to adding jobs: 14,100.  Pennsylvania was 3rd when it came to job loss:  15,800.   Merge those figures and get a difference of 1,700 jobs lost.

Take the 3 Top states and offset with 3 Worst states: net loss of 6,800 jobs

That's not too optimistic is it?

Of course no matter the job market, there's always one surefire way to get hired if desperate enough-- offer your services to employers at 25-50% less the salary the position should be paying. You're virtually certain to get hired.  Which is of course exactly what employers want- people willing to work for bare bones.   After all, to them you never want to waste a good recession-depression.

Now if only they could stop those pesky unemployment checks


Remember the corollary we mention quite often... the absolute simplest way to understand the stock market without having to listen to all the deeply nauseating ad nauseum of CNBC and other garbage finance news:

Market climbs when US dollar is weakened & price of oil climbs

Market drops when US dollar is strengthened and oil drops

Pretty simple..  let's look at the market today...

~ Dow at 11,733 as of 1:30p

Ok.. and why is this?

FOREX-Dollar slumps to record low versus yen (Reuters) -- "The U.S. dollar slumped to a record low against the yen on Friday in its biggest one-day decline in nearly two months, bringing back into focus the threat of official intervention to weaken the Japanese currency."

And who is responsible for a devalued, dliuted US Dollar?

Criminal #1...

~ Fed Chair Ben Bernanke

Quick point:  In the Reuters article it mentioned Japan needing to try to weaken its currency in response the US dollar falling so dramatically vs the yen.

This is important to remember-- ALL nations are in a race to weaken their currencies to solely benefit corporations of those nations. When a nation's currency is strong, it helps the populace but makes products more expensive to export.  Cheaper costs mean greater profits off their exports and thus help corporations' stock dividends.   The euro, yen, renminbi (china's currency), swiss franc, etc..  They care nothing of their populaces and the everyday life ramifications of people having to may more for essentials and having less money to overall survive.

Every nation has their own 'Ben Bernanke'.  Better hope and pray for a stock market crash folks because its the only way to stop people like Bastard Ben and his cabal.

So anyways, getting back to the corollary, what is oil doing so far?

+ $1.06 per barrel at $87.13 as of 1:30p

And this was based on?

Oil companies restarting operations in Libya - Washington Post


Libya's Oil Production Could Quadruple In A Year (Business Insider) -- "The killing of Moammar Gadhafi reduces the chance that violence will get in the way as Libya cranks up production again."

And who proudly murdered.. um I mean killed Gadhafi?

Criminal #2...

And does President Obama feel any reservations or guilt over pretty much assassinating another world leader?

Obama hails death of Muammar Gaddafi as foreign policy success (Guardian UK) -- "The President warns other Middle Eastern dictators, particularly Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, that they could be next"

And why would the President be taking this strategy?

~ Gallup: Before & After Osama Bin Laden's death; Democrats stayed at 81% support; Republican support increased 12pts to 21% and Independents rose 9pts to 49% approval of Obama.

~Not much more to add really...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Choices, Choices

So much I could write about today.. so many choices.. Hmm...

I could write on the assassination and outright murder of a world leader by a Nobel Peace Prize winner President and US/NATO led military because Libya was one of only three nations in the world not dependent on bank loans to keep its country afloat, it controlled oil, and it possessed large supplies of gold the West wanted to get its hands on...

~ "He is someone I consider a friend. He knows he is a son of Africa. Regardless of his African belonging, he is of Arab Sudanese descent, or of Muslim descent. He is a man whose policy should be supported, and he should be assisted in implementing it in any way possible, since he is now leaning towards peace. I urge all peoples to give him this chance and to support this policy, because America is a country that, when its policy is bad – harms the world, and when it is good – it helps the world."

-  Gaddafi on Obama; speech published in al-Hayat newspaper, Feb, 19, 2011

Or I could do another diatribe on the incredible disconnect between a global economy that is gasping for breath and falling apart at the seams including major uncertainly on Europe now that France & Germany have broken off talks, and a US led stock market that either has priced all this in or simply doesn't allow reality to affect its profit-making (The market is actually Up +31 as of 1:50p)...

 ~ Awww..  like two puppy dogs in love.  Awwwww... ~

Or I could focus on Greece and the comical EU that predictably recommended Greece get its next loan installment (which 100% goes Immediately to Investors & creditors) "despite finding «extremely worrying» government debt dynamics" (AP) and the nation's inability to collect taxes as it falls into a death spiral. I say predictably because in spite of EU's tough talk on preconditions, they wouldn't cut their own economic 'noses' to spite their faces..

Or I could choose a new topic like bashing slimy, scummy Las Vegas casino owner Steve Wynn who stupidly criticizes #OccupyWallStreet because he's sitting pretty, they're not and he doesn't feel the need to empathize in any way.  Wynn obviously feels he deserves his vast fortune, made mostly off of gambling addicts, the depressed elderly and the desperate poor...  Wynn was also pretty upset that he pays too much in taxes.. hmm, don't they all..

Or I can talk about things that are rising, like jobless claims (over 400k again), the Misery Index- the sum of the country's inflation and unemployment rates —rose to 13.0, or the number of Americans now on anti-depressants (400% since 1988)

Or I can write once again on the deeply stale and tired cackle of Republican candidates, each climbing over one another like monkeys to see who's flat-tax and/or national sales tax plan can out-do who when it comes to allowing the well-to-do to pay less while fucking the poor who tend not to vote Republican anyways.

~  '... and all those who believe in euthanizing the poor, please stand...'

Or maybe focus on home sales which dropped 3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.91 million homes, being below the 6 million that economists say is consistent with a healthy housing market, because really, how can one buy a home with no job, fear of losing one or a 20% down payment requirement...

~ Home 'sold' and couple in "love" are for Demonstrative Purposes only

Hmmm.. I guess I felt like discussing All the topics of the day after all..