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Monday, April 30, 2012

Expectations, Compliance and How to Rebel

We've written before on the three things that system expects of its citizenry.  In brief, they are the following:

1)  Pay Taxes
2) Obey the Law
3) Consume

Beyond those three things, no Western government cares what you do.  Drink whatever soft drink beverage you want...  Wear any local sports team apparel...  Tattoo and pierce your body from head to toe..

You are free..

You are free because the system doesn't care.

We thought we'd spend a few moments to expand on what is expected of each and every citizen.  Some things may be super-obvious, others not.. but we don't assume, and what is to one person 'Duh!' is to another person 'Ahh!'
1)  Pay Taxes

The individual is expected to pay taxes to keep governments going.

Not corporations.. just individuals.

General Election posted a $30bill profit last year-- paid no taxes.  GoldmanSachs has been able to successfully divert paying 95% of the taxes it owes in the UK until 2013.  On and on..

Super-wealthy aren't expected to pay the same amount of taxes either.  They're too important.  "Trickle-down" nonsense is based on a principle that if you take from the wealthy, you take away their incentive to acquire more wealth and thus they're not creating businesses i.e. jobs for the everyday Joe.

Of course we know this to be nonsense because you could tax an egotistical money-driven person 95% and he/she would still be motivated to have nicer things and more $$ than his/her neighbors.  But this is the theory behind 'Trickle Down', which is why people like Warren Buffett pay less taxes than their secretaries.

So as we said, you the average person is expected to pay the brunt of the taxes.   We can talk about civic duties and patriotic responsibilities, but there's another component to this principle as well.

Taxation is control.
The system sells the dream of wealth acquisition. Anyone can be a multi-millionaire...  Except here's the kicker-- It just doesn't want that to become reality.  Government needs people constantly working; plugging along.  If everyone had real wealth, a level of true financial comfort in their lives, the system would break down.

Who would dig the ditches, clean the hotel rooms or 10,000 other thankless jobs people do daily to etch out a living, if no one had to?

So rags to riches stories are super as long as they stay the exception.

To keep money circulated in the economy, it needs people working, paying taxes and of course consuming; something we'll address shortly.

2)  Obey the law

This seems pretty obvious and for most cases make a lot of sense.  We certainly do not want to live in a world where people can hurt and kill each other with impunity for any or no reason.  And we certainly do not want to drive on streets where traffic lights and proper turn indicators are ignored.

So most laws make perfect sense and should be obeyed.

Of course we're not concerned with that.  We're talking about laws put in place not to protect the individual but the system itself such as restrictions on where and how one may peaceably protest and voice dissent.

The system doesn't care what an individual thinks or feels on anything unless that person is a raving loon looking to do harm to others or the system itself.  When people start agreeing with that peaceable individual looking to protest or make change, that's when the system cares.

The more followers in the group-- the more they care; the more eager they are to stomp it out.
So laws are passed to impede dissent.  If you want to protest, you are placed in cordoned off "zones" which are nothing more than the equivalent of human ostrich-like 'pens' and kept 2 miles away from earshot of what the target of the protest may be.  If you want to march on the streets, you need permits which is a professional way of saying you need government permission to express dissent.

Like we said, the system does not give a damn about one person.  Write a letter to your congressperson.. Vent out loud in your bedroom to your teddy bears.. As long as you're not threatening to harm other people, no one in a position of power or authority really cares what one thinks or feels on anything.

Successfully start a movement, like for instance, to have a "pizza party" on a specific day to take place on the steps of Wall St blocking entrance, and expect goons in full riot gear to beat you with clubs, spray tear gas in your face and drag you away.

That's simply how the system 'rolls'...

3)  Consume

Think of consumption not specifically in terms of buying frivolous luxuries but more as the basic concept of buying things, whether you really have the money to back up the purchases or not. The government can not force people to consume but it does everything humanly possible to make it so.

Want a $40k car when you have no money?  Just put 3% down and finance the other 97% on credit at very low interest rates thanks to your friends at the Fed.  Or lease something nice and after 2-3 years have zero ownership.

And aren't homes just wonderful?  With a down payment and 360 more monthly payments (30years) you can own one free and clear, possessing clear title... And just in time to start taking your Viagra and Geritol.. or to think about a reverse mortgage.
~ Elderly: "Did you know I am only 1 payment away from owning my home?"
   Caregiver: "That is super Mrs. Krickle.. time to brush your teeth.."

Want to go to college to make a decent life for yourself?  Just take out Federal student loans for tens of thousands of dollars.  But you say you're "Good Will Hunting"-like intelligent and could easily acquire knowledge by reading on your own?  Too bad.. need that diploma.  The system wouldn't have it any other way-- it certainly can't profit from your jaunts to the local Free Library, can it?

The system does not want homes, cars or education to be affordable or easy to obtain.  If they were, you wouldn't work as hard or as many years, and you certainly would need to borrow which means no entity could profit off your hopes and dreams.

That's why prices are kept artificially high and as long as there's available credit, wages can continue to be stagnant while people tolerate the inequity.

And let's not forget the psychological component to consuming-- shopping is therapeutic.  Makes you feel good.  Buying things in a store has become the 20th and 21st century version of a stress releaser.  And when you shop and walk around with bags in your arms, you're not so angry about things; not so conscious of the greater world around you.

A consumer is happy, content and docile.
If a person was inclined to be a sincere Rebel WITH a Cause and express him/herself as a True individual, it wouldn't be by smoking, drinking, drugging, piercing, tattooing or dying their hair purple.  It would be by rebelling specifically against the system in the following ways:

1) By working less and saving more
2) By consuming less and avoiding debt at all possible
3) By being content with what you have & who you are
4) By getting your point of view out into the world

The system can control your body; it can't control your spirit...

Unless you allow it.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Representation by Betrayal

Its late Sunday night and most of the world is tucked in their beds, nestled sound asleep and sawing logs as the euphemism goes.. So we'll keep this moderately short...

Governments keep pushing QE as the only solution to solve the economic mess created specifically by and solely from the financial industry.  And we all know by know that this devaluation of money destroys savers and retirees/pensioners who are dependent on such interest to budget finances to make ends meet.

But QE also has caused the quickening of insolvency of pension funds themselves.  Though the following article applies to pension funds in the UK, this equally applies to the US.

From Telegraph UK:

"Pension deficits at the country's biggest companies have quadrupled in 12 months in the wake of the Government's quantitative easing policy... The final-salary pensions shortfall of the FTSE 350 companies has swollen from £20bn at the end of March 2011 to £80bn at the end of last month, according to pensions firm Hymans Robertson.  The figures lay bare the extent to which repeated rounds of central bank quantitative easing (QE) has distorted the pensions blackhole"

Funny how the people we elect to represent us; to protect us and our standard of living, always seem to betray us, and to do it so matter-of-factly.
~ Sarkozy just loves the French people.. can't you tell?

Excellent summary from the Telegraph:

"For three years, Merkel and Sarkozy have imposed savage austerity with one overriding justification: to save the euro. As if in wartime, democracy has been sidelined and public opinion ignored under the assumption that the state – or superstate – has a higher cause.

With breathtaking audacity, Brussels installed its own technocrats in Greece and Italy to impose its policies in “sinner states”. Extreme measures were needed to keep the eurozone intact, they said – without ever properly asking if the electorate wanted the prize, let alone had the stomach for the cost of winning it."

Sunday, May 6 will be a day of reckoning for Europe’s leaders as France votes for a new president, Greece for a new parliament, and Italy goes to the polls for local elections. German state elections follow. On May 31, Ireland is holding a referendum on Europe’s fiscal pact. In June, France has parliamentary elections. Then, on September 12, the Netherlands will go to the polls.
~ Neville Chamberlain, PM of Britain (1930s) w. 'Moe' of 3 Stooges

What will come about from all this "nuisance" called democracy as Europe's leaders and bankers call it... Will there be real change?  Will the course be changed from Neville Chamberlain-like Appeasement of the Financial Elite?

Check the stock market on Monday April 7th for the first answers...

Friday, April 27, 2012

"Alas!.. in Wonderland"

When most of us were young, at one time or another, we were forced to read "Alice in Wonderland", and even if some of us weren't, simply by watching the Disney cartoon or 100 other variances, you got the gist of some of the absurdities..

The world Alice discovered was a nonsensical world where black was white and white was black; a world where reactions and responses were complete opposite to how one would normally expect.  And as for a child reading the book or watching the film, this seemed funny in some way.

In truth, all the characters in "Alice in Wonderland" save for Alice herself were utterly wretched, horrid creatures; sarcastic, rude and arrogant no-nothings deserving of sharp back-handed slaps to their heads.

When glancing at the news of this past week and how the market has responded, the correlation seemed apt, though people who make their living in banking and finance deserve far worse than conks to their collective noggins.
~ Caricature of Presidents Bush & Obama.. But, which one is which??

For instance, today GDP figures for the first quarter of 2012 came in at +2.2%.  The "experts" predicted +2.5% and 4Q 2011 figures were at +3.0%. 

That is bad.. not UK bad but still.. its bad.  

Markets should have fallen right?  Especially when figures for Initial Job Claims keep rising for three consecutive weeks.  This week the figure is at 380,000.  A rise in claims is often mispresented as a slowdown in hiring. It is, instead, a pick-up in firing because these are people who had gainful employment a week or two prior.

Well when Amazon's profits increase 16% this quarter, that's good enough news to cockroach investors to ignore all the reality of the economy and push the Dow and profits higher.

The stock market also loves news like this from WSJ:

"Companies like Wal-Mart Stores Inc.,  International Paper Co., Honeywell International Inc. and United Parcel Service Inc., boosted their employment at home by 3.1%, or 113,000 jobs, between 2009 and 2011, the same rate of increase as the nation's other employers. But they also added more than 333,000 jobs in their far-flung—and faster-growing— foreign operations."

The stock market Loves when jobs are created overseas-- it means higher profits, higher Dow and greater dividends.

And while you may shrug and say "Who cares.. everyone knows the market is not reality", the truth is you are simply assuming.  There are millions upon millions of people who are deeply ignorant to finance and who base the success of the economy (and how they vote in elections) solely on what the Dow is at.
~ 'Buy! I say.. Always Buy!  Unless you sell.. then certainly Sell! Or Buy..'

Like we stated in a previous posting, a person standing in a food line who is hungry, cold and desperate needs to believe the line is moving.  Those who set up the line know that, so they do every trick and scheme to make it appear like there's movement when there's not.   The person at the back has no clue of this deceit and frankly doesn't want to; its that hope or illusion that keeps him/her going.

So you have in this post-2008 Lehman world, a global political apparatus that caters to a financial sector which is able then to completely block & blot out economic reality for the world around them because for financial sector, there is no "line" to wait to be fed by the Fed.   

Whether it be a corporation or individual, those who are in from the cold don't tend to think about those who are outside. 

As much as "Alice in Wonderland" is a terrible book filled with most unlikable characters, there was one part that was always a most appealing read; something which in a perfect world, you'd see presently on Wall St...

Something to do with "Off with their heads!"

Now, do we mean this figuratively or literally?  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Britain: Double Dippin' with choc. sauce & jimmies

~ Double Dips are just so much fun.. Just ask our President..

We at A&G are US based, but we read a lot of UK newspapers.

Not so much the gossipy tabloid trash or the latest insignificances of the Royal Family-- no our focus first and foremost is on global finance, markets and the overall systematic long term destruction of the middle & working classes by these entities.

And as much as we rail tirelessly on how terrible things are in the US, there are times we think after a good hour or so of reading, that maybe in comparison to other nations, US leaders are saints and angels.

We've documented Greece and Spain and France...

Now its time to take a look at Britain.

Yesterday it was announced the nation was in a double-dip recession.

Interestingly the last time Britain faced a double dip recession was 1975 and they actually had to receive bailout loans from the IMF to avoid bankruptcy.   That must have been quite an embarrassing moment.

The official response?  A modern version of "Keep Calm and Carry On".

'There now!.. Stiff upper lip.. What! What!  That's Better...'
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, which is the UK equivalent of the US Sec. of the Treasury told businesses not to panic and over-react;  that this double dip was completely to be expected but would be temporary.   Simply trust him.

The Prime Minister George Osborne stated even though the national economy officially contracted two quarters in a row (that's 6 months), that there was no plans to shift from more austerity.  And today the argument is stirring up among the vile creatures that make their living on Bond Street (UK's version of Wall St) for more QE.

Many opinion pieces were written on this official acknowledgement that Britain was back in recession.  A few (correctly) argued that rather than continuing harsh austerity, what was needed was a temporary increase in spending to stimulate growth particularly in job hirings.  Others parroted the Prime Minister and stated unequivocally that the most important thing was that the markets stayed calm.

The correct term is really "appease" the markets but that isn't a very popular word choice historically in the UK

It certainly seems that the UK possesses absolutely no original thought when it comes to fixing their economic mess.  The leadership either copies US policy verbatim, especially that of the Fed, or follows Germany's lead.  Certainly QE is a US invention so can't claim any credit for that idea.   And economists in the UK are now clamoring for low interest rates in the foreseeable future--years if need be even though like in the US, this absolutely decimates savers and pensioners.  

That was the Fed's brainchild as well.
Remember in all governments, the primary goal is to calm markets and appease investors.  Whatever a politician says in a speech or on a stack of Bibles means absolutely nothing-- what the markets and banks want, they get.

And in the UK like in the US and France and Japan and even China, the markets want very very low interest rates which allow them to borrow money at next to nothing and then speculate and leverage that by10 to 50x to expand their profits while dumping whatever toxic debts they possess onto the public's lap.  And the politicians happily do this because they know figuratively and literally whose hands write their checks.

The more governments pursue this policy the greater the civil unrest.  When the UK experienced riots last year it wasn't because a young unarmed man got shot by police- that was merely a catalyst.  It was that you have a generation of young people in Britain with no job, no hope and no future.  And one doesn't have to go to Oxford or Cambridge to possess the education to know when one has no chance at a decent life for themselves or a future family.

This scenario is being played out all across Europe and the US is next.. Fortunately for American politicians, American youth are still docile; transfixed on iPods, texting devices and non-stop televised sports to the point they don't realize their futures are being systematically destroyed by enormous student loan debt before they turn 21 which most can never repay or discharge in bankruptcy.

When American youth truly wake up to the bleakness of their future, then look out...  But don't worry-- there will be no uprising among the 18-25 crowd tonight.. the NFL football draft is on at 8p.
A recent study by the Dept of Education showed that currently there are 2million people over the age of 60yrs old who still owe on student loans.   We'd hate to see the totals of how many people over 35 still are heavily indebted...

Back to Britain...

Don't think the UK 100% copies every horrible economic policy from the US and Europe. Sometimes terrible public policy can be exported as well.

On Wednesday, Britain's High Court ruled in a landmark decision that employers can force retirement of older workers if its in the "public's interest".

As the Telegraph UK explained it:

 "Companies could, for example, say they needed to dismiss older workers at 65 to make way for more entry-level jobs and younger staff climbing the career ladder... the case gave the green light to employers to bring back a mandatory retirement age just months after the Government made the practice unlawful..

The judgment said where the reasons for retiring someone met "public policy" objectives it was acceptable to force someone to leave the business."
~ "So What!  So you have education & experience.. Quit working, you Bum!"

So if you can't create new jobs for college graduates and other entry level positions and you can't force older workers to take massive pay cuts, then just create a legal loophole to systematically dump a generation of workers for a new generation of cheaper.

If its successful in the UK, trust us, expect to see it in the US.

It reminds us of something a few years back at the electronics store Circuit City.  There was a time they had very knowledgeable staff who could answer just about any question a customer may have on a new computer, television or other device.  And for that knowledge, they were paid around $9.50/hr which for that type of job, was decent.

Then Circuit City decided they didn't want to pay their salespeople that much.. wanted to cut some costs.  So they pretty much fired all their $9.50/hr workers who understood electronics, and hired a lot of people at $8.50/hr who didn't know much of anything.

The result:  People would enter Circuit City looking to by electronics,and leave frustrated & flummoxed as they headed to Best Buy to buy their electronics there.  Sales dropped.. profits plunged and those brainy sons-of-bitches at the top who thought they were so clever-clever to middle finger $9.50/hr employees, helped destroy their company to the point it was forced to go bankrupt and close all its stores in 2009.

All to save $1/hr per worker.
This is the short-sighted mindset which is killing Britain, France, Spain, Greece and every other European nation not named Germany... and which will one day destroy the US economy.

Rather than create and cultivate, governments only know how to cut.   And rather than invest in one's populace, governments prefer to invest elsewhere... banks and markets mainly.

This is why A&G repeatedly says that if you are hoping, wishing or praying for governments to change, then expect non-stop disappointment.  It will take something dramatic to change course but like the old food adage goes, 'One can not make an omelet without first breaking some eggs'

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gritos de España; Sonrisas de Wall Street

Headliner translation:  'Spain cries; Wall St. smiles'

Markets went up again on Wednesday.. Yayy!

All that European fear nonsense -- just a blip..

Everything's fine over there.  No Worries, Mate!

And Spain specifically?   Ah, Couldn't be better..

The nation is doing well.. the people are endless smiles..

Yep..  Smiles..  Yep..

If you feel really good from reading  that and don't wish to know anything else, you may stop reading now and just happily stare at the photos below for a few minutes...  Otherwise, continue on..
~ Carmona, Spain
~ Cala Galdana, Spain

Nothing's changed from Monday when global markets dropped (and quite honestly should have plunged if they were accurate reflections of the overall economy)

Europe is still in bad shape.  The EU's grasp is getting weaker and weaker, and Spain- the nation that's 'Too Big to Bail' is getting worse

Since pretty much the entirety of mainstream news is ignoring the day to day economic plight of Spain since its a documented fact that negative news = bad ratings, we thought we'd shine another light..  All article headers and quotes come from the English version of the Madrid newspaper 'La Pais' and written within the past couple days:

Spain enters new recession with worse to come, says central bank -- "The Bank of Spain on Monday confirmed the Spanish economy slipped back into recession for the second time in two years as first-quarter GDP shrank for the second three-month period in a row. The contraction was due to a slump in domestic demand caused by the austerity drive and high unemployment, which depressed consumer spending."

~ In real world language, Spain is really in a full-scale Depression.  Saying 'new recession' is like saying 'double dip'- semantic word games to minimize the impact

Deficit triples at the start of year as budget debate kicks off -- "Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro revealed that the deficit had widened in the first quarter of 2012...  tripled in the period to 1.85 percent of GDP (from) 0.83 percent."

~ Spain's deficit in 2011 was a whopping 8.5%
* Basilica Cathedral- Zaragoza, Spain

Half-a-million illegal migrants stand to lose health coverage -- "The move, announced last Friday by Health Minister Ana Mato as part of the government’s far-reaching savings plans..."

~ In other words "Get 'Legal' or Drop Dead!'

Number of mortgages granted by banks hits record low in February -- "Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any, worse they did. With Spain’s housing market now well into the fifth year of a dire slump, the number of mortgages granted in February saw the sharpest fall since the National Statistics Institute (INE) began compiling the series in 2004...

At the same time, house prices continued their downward spiral in the first quarter, heightening the threat to the balance sheets of a banking sector already heavily weighed down by toxic real estate assets."

~ Ah, So this is what the US housing market will look like..

Why billion-euro debts mean disaster for Spanish healthcare -- "Spain's hospitals are reportedly in debt to the pharmaceutical companies that supply them with drugs and medical devices to the tune of 12 billion euros.... "

~  That's $15.879B US Dollars..
* Alhambra- Granada, Spain

So once again, Yayy! to all the scum who continue profiting off the stock market as it refuses to acknowledge any reality that gets in the way of portfolio expanding..

They shall one day need that money...  on bodyguards.

Dying economy, nerves & patience

Well Tuesday's Dow finished at a positive.. up 75 pts or thereabouts..

That's just so lovely... Mmm...

Guess all that doom and gloom in the mainstream financial press on Monday suddenly disappeared like rain clouds in the sky and its economic smooth sailing ahead.


Of course no thinking person believes that.  They know the deal.

So what would be the proper way for global stock markets to behave so that everyday people could truly look at the indices as the True, accurate barometer of the economy?

Simple-- it would react like a dying nerve of a tooth.
When a nerve dies in a tooth it doesn't magically fix itself, or come back two weeks later to briefly annoy you.  Its sudden.. the pain builds in intensity and the throbbing eventually becomes constant.  And you can pain medications or put Ambusol on the tooth to give some comfort, but as those who've ever suffered with a dying nerve can attest, its not simply going away.

The tooth will get the treatment it Demands-- root canal or an extraction.   Then and only then will the pain cease.

Now if the stock market accurately reflected the True economy,  and investors were sincerely upset over the state of Europe as they pretend,  the 100 or so point drop on Monday should have been followed by another 100 pt drop today.. followed by more loss tomorrow..and next day.. till it got So Bad that the powers that be which manipulate the system to their benefit were forced to take emergency action and "fix" the problem.

That's not how the stock market works.  Its about profit.. Gotta keep buying.. keep investing..  when market goes up, keep putting $$ into it.. and when it drops, now its a perfect time to 'buy into the dip' as the morons on CNBC love to tell their audience.

The global economy is much like a dying nerve.  Its getting worse and worse.. It's not going away and its not improving.  How could it?  No problem, big or small ever goes way simply by wishing, hoping or sending out positive vibes.  No different than dealing with a dying nerve.
And no problem can be fixed when no leader of any Western industrialized nation has the courage or will to address it; to essentially tell the culprits i.e. banks and investors to go Fuck themselves, and re-institute policy to stimulate their economies instead of siphoning and sucking their wealth out via austerity.

And like a dentist, government leaders would need to perform a financial 'root canal' by gutting out the financial system of its cavernous decay and rot, such as breaking up the major banks and financial institutions into smaller 'baby' banks, much like Ma Bell was broken up in the 1980s into smaller 'bells' that we know today as Sprint, and AT&T among others.

Or there would be extraction, not of banks necessarily but of those individuals who ran those banks to the ground and/or committed criminal fraud.  People like Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs and Ken Lay of Bank of America would be "extracted" from their positions of power and influence and transported via squad car to jails or detention centers in places like Guantanamo as they await trial for committing economic terrorism.

This is why the stock market is so fake and ultimately unimportant in the lives of most people.  Its also why if it crashed tomorrow, you'd feel less of an effect or alteration of your daily life than you realize.

You're simply conditioned to think of Wall St as important.  And seeing the levels of corruption and greed permeating the stock market, it is actually more patriotic to root for a major crash & correction than to hope for a continuation of business as usual.

There are two Americas..  one for the 1%.. one for the bottom 99%

We're going to conclude with an example, one of many we've provided over the length of our existence

As we all know by now, not one single person of any importance has been so much as arrested for the 2008 economic collapse.  Bernie Madoff?  He was a peon; a nobody.  No one of true status, priviledge and/or power has had their lives disrupted in any way.

Now let's say you owe a debt collector $280- what happens then?  Believe it or not, in some states you can be hauled to jail...

From CBS Moneywatch:

"Although the U.S. abolished debtors' prisons in the 1830s, more than a third of U.S. states allow the police to haul people in who don't pay all manner of debts, from bills for health care services to credit card and auto loans. In parts of Illinois, debt collectors commonly use publicly funded courts, sheriff's deputies, and country jails to pressure people who owe even small amounts to pay up...

Under the law, debtors aren't arrested for nonpayment, but rather for failing to respond to court hearings, pay legal fines, or otherwise showing "contempt of court" in connection with a creditor lawsuit..."

~ This is what is called in the business, a 'legal loophole'- get it?
"Illinois isn't the only state where residents get locked up for owing money. A 2010 report by the American Civil Liberties Union that focused on only five states -- Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Washington -- found that people were being jailed at increasingly alarming rates over legal debts. Cases ranged from a woman who was arrested four separate times for failing to pay $251 in fines and court costs related to a fourth-degree misdemeanor conviction, to a mentally ill juvenile jailed by a judge over a previous conviction for stealing school supplies...

~ This is what happens when counties are strapped for cash...

"Some states also apply "poverty penalties," including late fees, payment plan fees, and interest when people are unable to pay all their debts at once, according to a report by the New York University's Brennan Center for Justice. Alabama charges a 30 percent collection fee, for instance, while Florida allows private debt collectors to add a 40 percent surcharge on the original debt. Some Florida counties also use so-called collection courts, where debtors can be jailed but have no right to a public defender."

Like we've said before.. two Americas.  And if you are part of the 99%, you should Never EVER be rooting for the economic flourishing of the top 1%.  You should be hoping and praying the market crashes- its probably the only chance you have to be noticed and addressed by the elite...

Assuming they fear you...

Only squeaking wheels get the grease.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why is France's Hollande "Public Enemy #1" to Europe?

~ This trader is So Unhappy... And we can't Stop smiling...

When you read our blog, 'Ants & Grasshoppers', you need to understand some truisms about us and just exactly where we stand when it comes to the global economy and financial markets:

When the markets are unhappy, we're joyful.

When the markets have a truly bad day, we're simply elated.

And when the markets fear and dread someone coming into power and knocking the proverbial 'apple cart', like they do France's Presidential candidate and potential victor Francois Hollande, we are that person's biggest supporters.

So let's see how the markets fared this lovely Monday..   Wall St down -102 pts.. OK good..  Britain's FTSE down -106 pts..  Super.. uh-huh.. and Germany's DAX down -227 pts..  OOh..  we could barely contain ourselves there.

It seems as of this writing, Asian markets are up minimally which means the soulless cockroach filth who make their living via investing will probably use today's trading day to turn a profit.
It's OK, we know..  Can't be happy piggies every day..

Seriously though, why all the financial hubbub, Bub?

"More than £122.3bn was wiped off the value of Europe's biggest companies on Monday amid fears that the eurozone's commitment to austerity was being swept away by political rebellion" (Telegraph UK)

Ahh..  So in other words, the markets want austerity, which is really a classy artsy-fartsy way of saying economic deprivation of the various populaces of Europe.  And when money is going to the people to make their lives better instead of into the coffers of the banks and investors,  this is "bad" and cause for a panic sell-off.

So what type of leaders make the markets in Europe and the US happy piggies?  The type that not only pushes austerity but implements "trickle down'-like economic policy that caters to the 1% at the ultimate expense of the 99%.

And any leader who comes along and fucks with that status quo is Public Enemy #1, 2 And 3 rolled into one.
Enter Francois Hollande.

So what do the financial markets and Germany's Andrea Merkel have to fear from Hollande.  He certainly seems like a quiet, unassuming clean-cut man; the type found in any lecture hall or public library.

Maybe it has something to do with Hollande's campaign pledge to buck the austerity trends of the current power brokers;  his plans to increase spending, punish finance and undo labour reforms which buck the rest of Europe who have lockstep stated that deep austerity pain is the only way the save the system.

And how loud the markets bellow with rage!  How dare Hollande seek to hire 60,000 new teachers, reverse Sarkozy's decision to raise the pension age from 60 to 62, and pledge to tax the Super Ultra rich in France at 75%.

Sacre Bleu!  The Scoundrel!!
And why does Merkel hate the thought of a Hollande-led France?

Maybe it has something to do with Mr Hollande's threat not to ratify a German-inspired eurozone "fiscal compact" and his dismissal of a constitutional debt brake – a sacred cow for Chancellor Merkel.

The powers that be may be forced to put up with Hollande but they will use every deceitful trick in their power to keep the Socialist in line.

For instance, new powers now give the European Commission the right to levy fines on countries that fail to comply with austerity measures to bring budget deficits to within the euro's 3pc target.

France is in breach of the rules, with an annual 5.2pc deficit.

Any threat of EU action against France would immediately push French borrowing costs to unsustainable levels, and the message from Fraulein Merkel for a new Socialist French President would be clear – any help with recapitalizing its banks or support against turbulent markets would be conditional on Mr Hollande submitting to the Germanic and EU fiscal orthodoxy.
Sarkozy: "I"m out of Magic Potion"

So expect some battle royales ahead if Hollande officially wins after the May 6th run-off elections.  Hopefully the man is strong enough in his convictions and powerful enough in his political support among France's political parties to withstand Germany's bullying and perhaps even inflict a few 'pops' to the noses of Europe's banks & market in the process.

We wrote on this yesterday but its worth repeating...  Its really a Damn shame that in the US, we do not have an politician like Hollande.   President Obama was supposed to be that man; someone who came into Washington in 2008 to kick up some dust and a few asses along the way.  The President campaigned on Hope and Change.. and Power to the People and etc... etc...

And whether that person ever existed or was simply the imaginations of those who desperately hoped for something different after eight years of that dreaded Bush regime,  the truth is that Obama 2012 is not that man... not by a long shot.

Obama either got quickly beaten down by the system, realized he had no chance at re-election without Wall St money and thus caved into his principles, or was/is an outright Liar who hoodwinked the people in '08 and is seeking to do so again.

And Romney.. Gawd..  let's not go there...  What a truly awful candidate!   Could the Republicans pick anymore more alienating to working people, the 18-21 voter and senior citizens??
The system is powerful.. its corrupt, self-centered and we the people don't stand a chance because we're not informed or organized to mount an effective fight.

The only chance people have is a leader who will take on the Evil and even if that person goes down, its swinging...

France seems to have a man like that.

Where is America's "Hollande"?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Viva Hollande; La Mort au Wall Street

A&G hates Wall Street and the stock market.. very, very much

So we file this posting under 'God we hope so...'

From AP:  "A strong showing by Socialist candidate Francois Hollande in the first round of France's presidential election Sunday may rattle U.S. and global financial markets in the coming weeks."

~ fingers crossed... continued..

"Hollande wants to renegotiate a European treaty, agreed to just last year, intended to limit excessive government spending. He wants the pact to emphasize growth over austerity. He has also promised to roll back some deficit-cutting reforms put in place by his opponent, current President Nicolas Sarkozy. "

~ Sounds like Hollande is a good man, assuming he means what he says...

"Many economists fear that those steps would upset the delicate cooperation with Germany that has been key to Europe's response to its financial crisis."

And there you have it.  This is the crux of the ongoing 'war' of the last few decades, made even more noticeable by the ongoing global depression we're currently living through; one which no western leader has the guts to openly admit.
Merkel:  "Uggh, that Hollande is awful.. he'll undo everything..."
Sarkozy:  "Told you that you'll miss me if/when I go"

A leader who claims he/she will make policy to benefit the populace is looked upon as a threat and feared.  Only leaders whose policies aim to benefit markets and investors are to be tolerated in the global finance 'game'.

Germany's Chancellor Andrea Merkel fears Hollande so much that not only was she openly campaigning in France for Nikolas Sarkozy, a man she really detests, to be re-elected until polls showed her visits hurt Sarkozy in the polls, but even refused to meet with Hollande.

It is customary for political candidates to meet with foreign government leaders in case that person is elected there's a level of civil diplomacy established.  But Merkel did not want to assist Hollande's candidacy in any way and talked neighboring EU nations like Belgium and Netherlands out of meeting with him as well.

Real classy.

Obama was once seen as Hollande is.  That he was going to change the world and make life better for everyday people while punishing Wall Street harshly as they so richly deserved...

We know know that Obama doesn't exist.

And Republican Presidential candidate Romney??  Please!  Obama may be Wall Street's whore but Romney is a card-carrying member of the Club.  If there was a special key for VIP's to enter a Wall St. "men's room", Romney would possess it on the same key ring as his Cadillacs.

Two insincere men competing for one office, beholden to the same interests.

Really a sad state.
~ A President Obama/Rep Candidate Mitt Romney Morphed photo...

So we hope Hollande wins election in France on May 6th and wins big.  We also hope Hollande keeps his word in terms of his campaign promises and shakes things up among the political and banking elite of Europe.

Most importantly, we hope the stock market takes a hard tumble and many investors lose their 'shirts' in the coming weeks and months...

Then again, we're always wishing that.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sings ~ The Pain in Spain is Giving us a Migraine

On Friday, IMF head Christine Lagarde was quite pleased with herself.   We know this because when on the Charlie Rose Show on Friday night, she pretty much said so.

She was able to manipulate, bully cajole and arm twist nations into coming up with $430 billion in funds to act as a buffer zone for the EU.  Of course she originally stated she would settle for no less than $500b but you know if you read the previous posting how everyone in politics, finance and media are liars.

According to the Telegraph UK, "“We made a call to action, and our members delivered,” proclaimed Lagarde. Behind the rhetoric, though, donor countries are seething — not least those who aren’t even in the euro. Switzerland, the UK, South Korea and Sweden have respectively stumped up $26bn, $15bn, $15bn and $10bn. Norway has weighed in with $9bn, Australia and Singapore pledging $7bn and $4bn each. "

So the IMF war chest now stands at $800b

What is the US contributing?    Zero
 If the US was to pay its proper share, US taxpayers would be shelling out $70 billion to Europe. Everyone on both sides of the ocean knows if the US agreed to contribute one penny to directly aid and assist Europe, there'd be such a stink, President Obama could for all intent & purposes kiss his coveted re-election 'bye-bye'.

In fact, an interesting little news tidbit came out on Saturday:  Much of the $430bn global bail-out fund agreed in Washington over the weekend may not be available until next year.

"Britain pledged an extra £10bn ($15bn) to the International Monetary Fund but Treasury officials stressed the contribution is contingent on the US ratifying an agreement struck two years ago in Seoul. The US, though, is not expected to sign it off until after November’s presidential election at the earliest... other countries have attached similar conditions to their contributions" (Telegraph UK)

So in other words, everyone was in such a huff-huff rush to secure IMF funding yet attached conditions that don't free up the funding until late 2012 at the earliest..

But the markets are stupid creatures and they will probably still react to the IMF news with positivity come Monday's opening bell.

This last paragraph from the Telegraph article makes for a good segue way..

"Spain is at the epicentre of the latest concerns with fresh fears about the state of its banking system. Spanish officials revealed over the weekend that they are considering plans to take toxic assets off banks’ balance sheets."
All that IMF money.. that's meant to protect the rest of Europe and really by extension the global community from feeling the affects of a Spanish collapse.

A mere drop in the bucket.

We had thought Greece would take down the EU and cause financial pain for banks around the world.  We stand corrected.. more and more it appears Spain will be the nation to pull the global economies down into official depression.  Its simply too large a nation to be bailed out.

Spain is in horrific economic shape.  To give just a sampling of how bad things are, we visited the English version of their Madrid newspaper, 'El Pais'.  These are all headlines/articles from the last couple days:

Cabinet approves massive education and healthcare cuts -- "The conservative Popular Party government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Friday announced education and healthcare cuts of 10 billion euros... The austerity drive will require retirees to pay for part of their prescription drugs for the first time, a big sacrifice for pensioners"

Government plans 50-percent hike in students' university fees -- "Spaniards pay between 900 to 1,000 euros a year in university fees, some 15 percent of the 6,000-euro average annual cost of a student’s education. Under the plan, student fees could jump to a maximum of 1,500 euros next September. "
~ Students in Spain protesting education cuts

Stock market drops below psychological 7,000-point mark -- "With Spain now at the forefront of the euro-zone crisis, the Spanish stock market on Thursday plunged to close to its lowest level since the start of the global financial crisis in 2008, led by the banking sector"

Iberia strikes blow to pilots with 20-percent wage slash -- "Spanish airline Iberia is to slash its pilots’ salaries by 20 percent as part of a series of measures to reduce its costs and increase productivity by 25 percent."

Economic crisis sees large numbers of Latin Americans heading home -- "the number of foreigners in the country has fallen for the first time: there are 40,447 fewer than in 2010. Spain’s immigrant population now stands at 12.1 percent of the population, a tenth of a percentage point less than in 2010... It appears the economic crisis is the underlying cause of these changes to the demography of Spain"

Spain's unemployment is over 24%.  The number of young people out of work is over 50%.   Recently, the King of Spain Juan Carlos went on TV to apologize to his people.   Why?  Oh nothing much.. He merely returned from an elephant hunt in Africa that cost nearly $60,000, or more than twice the average salary in Spain.
The leaders of Spain, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, the UK, America... Wall Street, bankers, financiers..

They just don't get it..  They really don't.

But then again why should they be expected to?

They have gotten away with not having to bear any brunt of the financial pain and with very few expectations, the populaces around the world do not stand up to force them to swallow their fair dosage of bitter castor oil.

Most media will report fairytales and fables to you..

People seem to need that.

We report the truth.  And when people are ready for reality, we'll be here to inform, and if need be, with a heaping plate of vanilla-creme cookies and a steaming cup of marshmallowy hot cocoa.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Why do they Lie..

The full header for this posting is really "Why everyone from politicians to Wall St to the media continually Lie to you about an economic recovery" but that's a bit too long to fit in the Title section..

Nonetheless, that's what we're going to be addressing today..

We've been seeing a lot of fools both write and remark that they're tired of people acting like we're in a recession.  One dimwit, a nobody-nothing who writes for US News & World Report was annoyed that the term 'double dip recession' is still talked about when according to him, we've been in recovery for three years.

Another more famous imbecile, former PA Senator Arlen "Will Switch Political Parties in a Heartbeat" Specter stated today that basically we should be thanking both Bush & Obama for saving this nation from depression, thus the trillions upon trillions in 'stimulus' pissed away to the financial sector was essentially necessary and good.


Look, we're just one blog among millions of news sites and sources no different than a tiny star among the Cosmos.  We do our best to state things truthfully; to burn as bright as we can within the intellectual darkness.

And we know that we can never stop everyone else from incessantly lying about the true state of both the US and global economy.  Too many forces at work.. too many agendas.

But it doesn't mean we will stop trying...

So the question of the day once again--  Why do they all lie to us about the economy and keep hard-selling 'recovery'?   There's many reasons.. here's a sampling (in no particular order)
~ "I did not lie to you...  I lied toward you.."

1)  Nature of their profession-  Think about it honestly-- All politicians lie.. ALL.  They promise on campaign what they can't really deliver to gain donations and votes.  Wall St as an entity lies so to encourage and entice investors to buy stocks, commodities, etc.  And media lies for a multitude of reasons from issues of 'national security' to fear that negative truth will cause loss in viewer and readership.

Let's go back to Arlen Specter for a moment-- he's a good example.  Here's a man of little to no conviction who started his political career as a Democrat, then switched to Republican to benefit his own political fortunes in the 1970s, then after 30yrs or so, in 2008 he switched back to Democrat because he believed he had an agreement in place where he'd be given power to be chair of a committee.  In 2010 he lost in the Dem primaries because no one believed anything the snake said.

So when Specter says Bush & Obama saved the nation, we're sorry but simply the thought of the man, much less his ignorant, lying words make us want to wretch.

Those two utter buffoons, Bush & Obama did Nothing to save this nation.. They simply delayed most of the pain.  Both essentially curled back their right legs and kicked that economic "can" as far as they possibly could by giving trillions in dollars that comes from current and next generation taxpayers to prop up the insidious Cancer which caused the meltdown-- Wall St.

If you look at Reagan's greatest success as President, it was corrupting both the Rep and Dem parties into the belief in Trickle Down economics. For wealth and job creation to occur, the money Must be given to the very top 1%.  They, in their infinite wisdom and moral judgment will know how to best spread it around equitably.

Bush believed this.  You best understand Obama does too.
2)  No motivation -  We could have expressed this point as having agendas but this is simpler.  What is a  politician's motivation to speak candid on the economy?  If he/she is the incumbent, then wouldn't the blame be at their feet?  Wouldn't that mean weakening their chances at re-election?

Presidential candidate Obama spoke nonstop during Election 2008 about how bad the US economy was. Then he successfully defeats a cowardly cadaver named John McCain and wins the Presidency.  Ironically, the President still spoke truthfully about how bad things were for his first few months in office before someone in his staff reminded Obama he was no longer a candidate.  Then the President turned positive.

And what's the motivation of Wall St?  If you're invested, you may pull your money... put it in safer havens.  How can anyone profit from that?   And like we said before with the media, if you're going to stop reading or watching TV because of endless coverage of homeless people living in tents or their cars  and people crying hysterically in their empty homes as their about to be foreclosed, then what's their incentive to show that?

3)  Patriotism -  Yes, this comes into play.   You've heard it before--   'The United States is the Greatest nation in the World.. Love it or Leave it! .. We're #1.. We're #1!!'  and so forth.  Its not true but.. that's the belief.   We expect our politicians to feel that way.. every single one wearing flag pins on their jacket lapel to certify beyond all doubt they love this nation as they conduct policy and pass legislation to weaken it.

Many in the media wear those lapel pins as well when they're reading the words off the teleprompters and shallowly bantering among each other between stories.  The media may try to put a particular President or political party in an evil light, but never the nation itself.  

And notice how many flags are visible on the trading floor of Wall St.  Certainly hard not to notice the gigantic flag hanging in front of the building since 9/11.   Guess it means to show they may love making non-stop profit first and foremost, but their love of the nation they are pillaging, is a close second.

What makes the US great has little to do with its finances.  That's the same warped thinking that allows people to think evil, selfish people like Warren Buffett or the late Steve Jobs are/were great because they amassed more wealth then they could enjoy in 10 lifetimes, and then created some pseudo-humanitarian charities/endowments out of the 'goodness' of their little black hearts.

If those who are in positions of power love America as they say they do, they would not only not be afraid of speaking truthfully and honestly about the state of the nation, but stop hijacking Capitalism for their own purposes.

In a truly capitalistic nation, anyone with ideas, ingenuity and hard work, can generate wealth.  Its not exclusive to Fortune 500 companies. This means encouragement and growth of small to medium sized businesses.  It means you do Not have to go to college and obtain worthless degrees & endless student debt to have any chance to support oneself and a family.  It means American workers making American products to sell to American consumers who can afford them without relying on credit and debt.  And it means you survive, thrive and/or fail on your own.. No Fucking Bailouts!
4) Keeping up morale -   Many believe, if you talk about our faults and weaknesses, you're giving aid and comfort to the enemy and its bad for overall morale.  This is not a new concept, but it is one used to keep up spirits among the populace so they don't get too despondent or worse.. proactive.

The best way to explain this concept is with the following example:  You're very hungry.. You're standing in a long food line with hundreds upon hundreds of others, waiting to be given soup and a sandwich.  The line isn't moving.  If the line was moving, it would still take 30 min for you to receive the food.  As it is, there's no movement at all.  You're getting hungrier..tenser.. more desperate.. But wait!  There is movement.. you see some people getting food.. Horray!  You tell yourself 'OK, I can bear this a little longer'

Now at the front, the soup and sandwich servers, who really don't have enough food to feed 1/4th  of those in line and who are stalling until more food arrives, can see that if the line stays motionless for a long period, things could get ugly quick.  So.. they feed a few.. just enough to get the line moving and give those at the back a little hope.

Surprisingly this tactic works often with people.  Hope and optimism in that "line" moving seems to be preferable to most to accepting reality and being both pro-active and self-reliant.

Like we said at the beginning, there's many, many reasons why you and we are constantly lied to.. we chose to only address a few.  One can't fight the world, as they say, but one is always in control of oneself if he/she has the courage to take the reins.

Ignorance is like victimization.. we only stay in those particular states of mind if we allow ourselves