Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

An Example of How BAD Newspapers have gotten

There's very little in the way of real news journalism anymore.  Its a shoddy patchwork of AP/Reuters stories and deeply lazy people earning a salary to regurgitate things they see on TV.

Then there's the following Example..

This is from the Entertainment section of the LA Times.   Even though we're a finance-economics blog, this example of piss-poor journalism written in a well known newspaper like the Times was too good (or terrible) to pass up...

From The LA Times:

'Hatfields and McCoys' brings out Kevin Costner haters

Kevin Costner rode again in "The Hatfields and the McCoys" on Sunday night, with his haters in hot pursuit.

Taking its first shot at scripted drama, History begin airing its three-part epic miniseries about the notorious late 19th century feud between warring Appalachian clans, with the former "Dances With Wolves" star-director as patriarch Anse Hatfield and Bill Paxton as his rival, Randall McCoy.

Reviews were mixed, but Costner's detractors... were out in full force Sunday.

"I cannot remember if I hate Kevin Costner because he is a Hatfield or McCoy or if it's just because he is Kevin Costner," tweeted @mar*****se.

"This reality show on The History Channel is great. I didn't realize that Bill Paxton and Kevin Costner hated each other," @ste****iri added wryly.

As @jul***ey44 summed up: "Part 1 of "Hatfields & McCoys" was pretty good ... seems like Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton will be locks for Emmy nominations.""

WTF?!!  Are you Kidding?  Quoting from Twitter comments????
BTW, we purposely deleted parts of the Twitter names because no one deserves credit for writing such stupidity and its bad enough the LA Times chose to...

Next, we'll put aside the fact that the topic of the pseudo-article was utterly stupid since we're all Kevin Costner Fans and Admirers here at A&G ..

But really, is this garbage worthy of a major newspaper?  This is the LA Times, not some newspaper of a town with the population of 500.

Some lazy Bleep writer searching through Tweeter feeds while in his bedtime jammies to gauge response to a TV show and actor...and got paid for it!  Rrrr

Its trivial because its just a TV mini-series but this is the future of newspaper writing folks, and its quite sickening a spectacle.

Silly Wabbit...Wall St Trix are for Kids

~ Bunny:  But how can I profit off the market without Trix??

Yesterday the market finished the day up 125pts or so..  Based on nothing real of course.. Just 'Hope'... Hope that Greece would be OK.. Hope on this.. on that..

Fa La La... La Di Da...

Here's how Yahoo News put it:  "On Tuesday, global stocks rallied as investors chose to focus on the 'good news' coming out of Greece and ignore the very bad news coming out of Spain."

Isn't that lovely..

Investors-- the human equivalent of the skin at the bottom of one's foot decided that they would pick and choose what news they would focus on for that trading day.

Negative reality didn't serve their purpose of profit making & taking, so if the news was a collapsing housing market, lower consumer confidence or the potential Nationalization of banks in Spain..   Ignored. Like dandruff off a shoulder.. ~brush..brush..

And the 'good' news seemed to be the orchestrated intense blitzkrieg of extreme, apocalyptic warnings and forecasts upon the Greeks via the corporate controlled media, were working.

Bombardment of fear from every media and financial orifice starting to really scare the shit out of the Greeks to vote for the pro-bank, pro-austerity parties that got Greece into this mess.

You'd think no nation has ever defaulted before??

Of course many, many have.. the following pic shows a chart of nation defaults between 1981-2003 (click on pic to enlarge).. its quite a big list...  Full list of nations in default between 1820-2003 found Here
We're not saying that a default makes life easy on a nation.  We're saying that every nation who has defaulted has survived to see the light of day the next morning and kept their sovereignty intact.

We'll see what happens officially on June 17th.

So what's going on in the market today?

As of 3:55p, the Dow has dropped -161pts.

Too funny..

Why this change in the Dow in the span of only 1 trading day?

"Stocks tumbled as Spanish bond yields rose and the price of credit default swaps on Spanish debt hit record levels. Meanwhile, Italy's auction of 5- and 10-year securities was met with weak demand." - (AP)

Complete nonsensical jibber-jabber

As if American investors really give a Fuck about any nation outside of the US... Most couldn't properly identify Spain or Italy on a map and yet magically today Investors care about these countries as if their problems suddenly sprouted up overnight and their suffering means something ...

Of course tomorrow, expect 'Problems Solved' and another rally..

But as we've written extensively before on this, Investors do not care about Nations or populaces.  And to be fair about American investors, they really don't give a fuck about American people any more or less than people of Greece or Germany or Ghana.

Sociopathic people simply do not possess the empathy gene.

IMF head Christine LaGarde is as good as example of this as any.  All weekend, she's been going to one media outlet after another blaming the Greek people for their predicament, expressing no sympathy because supposedly Greeks don't ever pay their taxes..

Then it was found out that LaGarde's IMF salary is tax free.

"The managing director of the International Monetary Fund is paid a salary of $467,940 automatically increased every year according to inflation.   On top of that, she receives  an allowance of $83,760-- payable without 'justification' -- and additional expenses for entertainment, making her total package  worth more than the amount received by President Obama" -- Telegraph UK

Well, How 'bout that?

It is investors who caused the economic horror the globe is witnessing & experiencing today and it is the same parasites who seek to financially profit from it, every step of the downfall.

And why are they allowed to?

Because All politicians of all nations cater to their wish and want.  Governments can't seem to generate revenue to sustain their economies on their own anymore.  All nations are Utterly dependent upon Investors to provide the finances to keep their economies afloat.

For loyal readers of A&G this all seems repetitious but we have new readers daily and we're more than happy to educate people on the truth behind markets, banking and finance... as often as need be.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Market Hopes from Investor Dopes

Markets make no sense.   Its supposed to, but it doesn't.

Its guided by two forces-- greed and panic, and in spite of the high praise and adulation that people give to the super-wealthy and those in the world of finance for their supposed intellectual acumen, Truly so, Investors are some of the dumbest son-of-a-bitches to walk the earth.

Today's as good as any to prove this..

So.. what are the markets doing as of 2:45p est?   Its +77pts for the trading day.   OK. now why is that?  According to AP, "Wall Street rose on Tuesday on renewed hopes Greece will stay in the euro zone"

There's that word again... 'Hope'.  As empty and unfulfilled word in the English language as anything short of the overused word "Love"

And what do these parasites base such 'Hope' on?

Mostly its based on fear-news.  If enough corporate news stories are written about how bad it will be for Greece if they leave the Euro, the simple populace will be scared to vote Syriza party into office and thus keep the pro-banker status quo parties in charge.

Of course no one ever really admits that all political parties in Greece want to stay in the Eurozone.  Its just Syriza doesn't want the crippling, dehabilitating austerity imposed by Germany and the banks.

And Greece's military.. where does it buy its armaments from; who are its Defense contracts tied with?  What do you know... Germany and France.   If they let Greece completely collapse, it takes down those nations' economies too.  And we're not even focusing on the banking sector.

See how much leverage Greece really has?

And here's the kicker no one really wants to admit--  the Eurozone can not kick any nation out. It is not in their charter and does not have the power to do so.   So, if the E-zone can't kick Greece out and Greece doesn't wish to leave, and payments stop to Greece because they aren't accepting their spoonfuls of poison...

Well, that's quite a stalemate isn't it??  Who'll blink first?

So we don't really think 'Hope' matters a damn, though to borrow that tired word a moment, we Hope that Investors suffer a massive bloodletting in the next few weeks if/when Syriza can win.  If so, it would be the first real financial pain that Wall St has felt in 45 months.

But don't worry.. The world is ready to pour untold Trillions of dollars into the markets once this happens to save the banks so all is well.. the $2,500 life savings in your bank will be safe ultimately.. it just won't be worth $2,500 when everything's over.

So let's quickly see what news the markets have intentionally glossed over or outright ignored today...

*  According to the Conference Board, consumer confidence which was predicted to rise from 62.2 last month to 62.6 currently, actually dropped-- to 61.9.  Its the third prediction miss in a row.

*  According to CaseSchiller housing data, "The national composite fell by 2.0% in the first quarter of 2012 and was down 1.9% versus the first quarter of 2011... with these latest data, all three composites still posted their lowest levels since the housing crisis began in mid-2006...  “The National Composite fell by 2.0% in the first quarter alone, and is down 35.1% from its 2nd quarter 2006 peak"
We hate the economy is this bad and we hate constantly reporting bad news on the economy even more. But most of all, we Hate (capital-H) the stock market profiting while all this is occurring, as if they live in a safe plastic bubble.

The stock market is the clearest, simplest example of how 1% of the nation continues to be coddled and teat-fed by the government; allowed to make vast profits based on illusionary hopes, wishes and dreams, while the bottom 99% is left to fend for themselves in the world of reality.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Who (Truly) owns the News-- Pt. 3

In the previous 2 postings, we showed you who exactly owns the New York Times and the Washington Post.

In brief summary, all corporate media is owned by investors i.e. shareholders. That is the corporation's sole fiduciary.. they are the Only ones that ever matter.  And who are the shareholders?  Banks, hedge funds, investment firms and other power-entities in the world of finance.

We're going to focus on one other media entity then move on to other topics in the future.  Today, we're going to look at Gannett Media.

In case you're not familiar with them, they own USA Today and local newspapers & TV stations in 37 US states including the Detroit Free Press, Indianapolis Star and Cincinnati Inquirer

Full list found here:

So who are Gannett's biggest investors?  If you read the previous two postings, you'll find some recognizable names...
** All statistics as of 12/31/2010

           Top Investors                            Shares Held       Shares Value

JP Morgan Asset Management               21,915,328   $330,702,000
    ** Run by scumbag CEO Jamie Dimon; holds 9.5% of all Gannett stocks; also holds over 108k shares in Washington Post stock

AllianceBernstein L.P.                      16,919,720   $255,319,000

Ariel Investments, LLC                      14,583,208          $220,061,000
    **  Also holds 108k shares in Washington Post stock holdings

Vanguard Group, Inc.                        12,852,238   $193,940,000
    ** Holds 281k shares in Wash. Post stock & 5.6M shares in NY Times

Alden Global Capital Ltd.                   9,337,262   $140,899,000

BlackRock Institutional                           8,187,019        $123,542,000
    ** World's largest asset manager; also owns 4.7 M shares NY Times and about 204k shares in Wash Post

State Street Global Advisors (US) 7,835,032   $118,231,000

Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC       7,664,288   $115,654,000
   ** Swiss Bank
~ The Tennessean: one of many Gannett owned media

Goldman Sachs Financial Markets LP      7,500,622          $113,184,000
  **  King of the Scum; also owns 2.4M shares of NY Times

LSV Asset Management                           7,486,120          $112,966,000

Invesco Advisers, Inc.                              6,855,227        $103,445,000

Optimum Investment Advisors, LLC         5,893,572          $88,934,000
    ** Also owns a whopping 10.7 M shares worth $105M of New York Times stock, the newspaper's largest holder

Bank of America Merrill Lynch (US)        5,183,449          $78,218,000
   **  Another immoral bunch of dirtballs...

Aston/Optimum Mid Cap Fund                   4,530,300     $68,362,000

Sorry to belabor a point, but This is why the media does such a piss-poor job of truly informing people as to what's going on in the US economy, why the lie 'recovery' is pushed so hard, and why tens of millions of people are utterly brainwashed daily into believing the financial sector is good, with its success meaning America's success...
~ All Gannett owned entities

You can also see why almost everything in this country is 'too big to fail'.. everything intertwined like cancer and disease in a 'host' i.e. America.  Kill the cancer, kill the host... or do nothing and watch the cancer kill the host slowly...

Bad choices all around.

All media have agenda.. ALL.  And rather than one wealthy magnate influencing and molding popular opinion like William Randolph Hearst in the early-mid 20th century and to a lesser extent, Rupert Murdoch today,  agenda is now molded by the stockholders.

Just like a politician is likely to push laws onto the books that represent his/her biggest campaign donors, newspapers will push ideologies that are the most friendly and agreeable to their shareholders.

If you agree that the financial sector is full of noble, patrotic people, that Wall St needs to keep going up, up, up, that the US is in recovery and that everyone has a god-given right to make as much $$ as humanly possible even if they're in their 80s or 90s, then pick up a newspaper tomorrow, find a comfy-cozy spot to sit, and Enjoy~

If you want truth and reality, you will seek it out on the internet via reputable sources and of course, keep reading here.  At 'A&G' we don't want your money-- we just want you awake.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Who (Truly) owns the Washington Post?

On Friday, we showed a detailed list of the top Investors for the New York Times which pretty much was comprised of banks, hedge funds, investment firms and other (capital-P) Profit-making scum that infest Wall Street.

It should be clear as day to anyone who reads the NY Times that they like all corporate media are bought and paid for, and to never Ever expect true journalism which villifies Wall Street, the finance profession or any other shareholders' sacred cows.

But is the NY Times alone?  Of course not..

So time to look at another newspaper.. The Washington Post

Since All corporations are beholden first and foremost to their shareholders and that's what Investors really are, let's see who truly owns the Post:

** All statistics as of 12/31/2010

           Top Investors                            Shares Held       Shares Value

Berkshire Hathaway Inc.                  1,727,765 $759,353,000
*** 20.45% of ALL Wash Post shares are owned by Warren Buffett's company;  That's $759.3 Million reasons why you will never ever see a truly bad word about super-greedy Buffett uttered in the Post

Manning & Napier Advisors, Inc.   419,155 $184,219,000

Southeastern Asset Management, Inc.        388,301 $170,658,000
    ** Invests in undervalued Securities

International Value Advisers, LLC   371,451 $163,253,000

Longleaf Partners Small Cap Fund   289,000 $127,016,000
Vanguard Group, Inc.                   281,768 $123,837,000
    **  They also own 5.6 million shares of NY Times stock

State Street Global Advisors (US) 240,225 $105,579,000
   **  World’s second largest asset manager: $2 trillion in assets

Fidelity Management & Research 237,208 $104,253,000

BlackRock Institutional                  203,938 $89,631,000
   ***  World's largest asset manager; also owns 4.7 M shares NY Times

OppenheimerFunds, Inc.                  153,032        $67,258,000

IVA Worldwide Fund                150,041       $65,943,000

Altrinsic Global Advisors, LLC        136,317   $59,911,000

Gardner Russo & Gardner                134,968            $59,318,000
    ** Financial Planning Consultants

Mellon Capital Management Corp.       114,232        $50,205,000

JPMorgan Private Bank (United States)  108,647   $47,750,000
   ** Jamie Dimon's company; the scumbag who lost $2B last week

Ariel Investments, LLC                108,384   $47,635,000

There are 25 financial-related corporations that overall own just about 70% of all Washington Post stock.  And to repeat: The #1 priority of All publicly traded companies are their shareholders.

So you may ask, why does this matter?   Well, when it comes to the Washington Post's coverage of the NFL's Redskins, reporting what the weather will be this coming week, or whether a picture of two kittens hugging each other should appear in pg B1 or B4, it does not matter in the slightest.

But let's say the Post had investigative journalists hungry for the truth; seeking to uncover the rot of the finance world and write a factually scathing expose on the 2008 financial crisis, the current bailouts or other Wall St. deviance.  And included in such a muckraking piece of journalism, attacks on Investment firms, Hedge Funds, the criminality of the banks-- all provided in great, painstaking detail...

Do you honestly really think a financial corporation  holding hundreds of thousands of shares of stock worth tens of millions of dollars is going to allow the Post to run that; to run Any article that dissuades people from investing?!   Really-- Do you?   A negative piece may be run on a particular company at a particular moment but the entire industry painted as evil (which they are)...don't hold you're breath.

All mainstream media go by the same ideological mantra:  Wall St is good, corporations are good, making money is good and unless you break the law egregiously, all Investors are great.  In addition, USA is #1-- 100% of the time.  If a policy is bad, blame a person, a President or a party platform, but never look critically inward...

Controlling the media is no different than controlling a politician or a political party...its not complicated.

You simply Invest $$  in them... A Lot of $$.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Who (Truly) owns the New York Times?

Ever wonder who owns the media, specifically newspaper companies?

And before your mind goes there, No, No, No... Just Don't..  Don't follow the path of the simpleminded by believing a specific religious denomination that tends to get blamed for everything under the sun (you know which one we mean) controls the media...

This is a serious question and too important to be answered by Kooks.

Who Truly owns the media?

Because they are corporations which are usually publicly traded entities, the answer is Investors. All decisions made by corporate media are in the best interests of the stockholders.

Thus, it is They, the Investor who own the newspapers, TV networks and the like...  Just like they own governments who bow down and cater to their every money-making need.

But who specifically are these Investors?

We will provide information on all the newspaper corporations in time via future postings, but for today, the focus is on the New York Times.
The complied list of NY Times' biggest investors is as of Dec. 31, 2010:

           Top Investors                         Shares Held       Shares Value

Optimum Investment Advisors, LLC   10,715,274       $105,010,000

T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc.           10,572,400       $103,610,000

Slim Domit HelĂș (Carlos)                   10,050,000         $98,490,000
  ***  Mexican business magnate and philanthropist; ranked as the richest person in the world in 2012

ValueAct Capital Management, L.P.     7,000,000          $68,600,000

Vanguard Group, Inc.                            5,673,932         $55,605,000

BlackRock Trust Company, N.A.          4,707,110         $46,130,000
  ***  American multinational investment management corporation and the world's largest asset manager

Global Thematic Partners, LLC            4,308,465         $42,223,000
Harbinger Capital Partners                 3,747,386         $36,724,000

Baron Capital Management, Inc.         3,644,030         $35,711,000

Franklin Global Advisers                   3,573,665         $35,022,000

State Street Global Advisors (US)     2,912,676         $28,544,000

Goldman Sachs Asset Management    2,402,878         $23,548,000
   ***  Ahh, Good ole' Goldman Sachs owning the media

BNP Paribas Asset Management        1,627,450         $15,949,000
   ***  An asset management company headquartered in Seoul, Korea

Statens Pensjonsfond Utland                  921,876          $9,034,000
   ***  The Government Pension Fund of Norway

~ The above companies retain what are called Class A shares.   Arthur Sulzberger Jr. controls 90.2% of Class B voting shares through family trusts.
So if you wonder why the New York Times, while pretending to represent the interests of the reader, always seems in their writings to take the side of Wall Street, banks, hedge funds, investors and investing firms, etc..., the answer is quite simple --- Their largest shareholders ARE those entities.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Anniversary of a Bridge some love trying to "sell"

One of the biggest reasons why most of what one may read in news is nothing more than empty filler not worthy to look at, is because quite honestly, news-worthy events do not occur daily.  There's simply nothing important to write about.

This is actually a good thing because news-worthy events are often bad, and the human psyche wouldn't be able to take a non-stop barrage of 'bad'.

Yet there's deadlines to file... space between the ads to fill, etc and money to be made..   A&G is not like that-- we write what we wish; Interesting things like this...

There's a popular expression one may make when encountering another who appears to be un utter sucker and easily duped (like most who play the stock market) and it goes like this:

"Well if you believe That, I have a Bridge I'd like to sell you!"

Today's history milestone made us think of it.  After 14 years and 27 deaths while being constructed, the Brooklyn Bridge over the East River opened on this day in history, May 24, 1883.

Thousands of residents of Brooklyn and Manhattan Island turned out that day to witness the dedication ceremony.  Designed by John A. Roebling, the Brooklyn Bridge was the largest suspension bridge ever built to that date.
With its unprecedented length and two stately towers, the Bridge was dubbed the "eighth wonder of the world." The connection it provided between the massive population centers of Brooklyn and Manhattan changed the course of New York City forever. In 1898, the city of Brooklyn formally merged with New York City, Staten Island, and a few farm towns, forming Greater New York.

Ironically, a week later on May 30th, a rumor that the Bridge was going to collapse caused the needless deaths of twelve people who were trampled amid the irrational chaos.

Just thinking-- not much different really from the constant rumors that financiers and governments put out to stimulate investing and manipulate market 'bull runs'.  People get crushed but just not literally-- only their life savings.

It also makes one think-- when's the last time we as a nation have built something so great and more importantly Functional?

Certainly some would argue the new twin towers being erected will be great once construction is completed; as great as the previous towers were.  And this may be true from an architectural standpoint.  But we speak of Functionality too, not buildings that amounted for decades as nothing more than grandiose office space for Wall St firms.
The Brooklyn Bridge was different.. Special then & special today...

1883 was such a different time to live.   Obviously, over time we experience technological advancements and clothing/hair styles change.  But economically, it was such a vibrant time.  Factories were bustling-- creating everything from textiles to machinery.  The hope of economic prosperity was so great that millions upon millions flocked to US shores, especially from southern and eastern Europe.

Unlike today, you actually had purchasing power back then.

It would take $24.94 today to equal $1 in 1883, so if a person had $2,000 then, that would equal $49,880 today.

A newspaper was four cents and in your local Sears catalog, you could buy a headstone starting at $10 and a build-it-yourself home for $823.

1883...  Quite a different world

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

HP & the mathematics of mass firing

Warning:  This post has math in it so don't get too nervous-- we did the math for you, so everyone can just Breathe.. Wheww~ .. and begin reading... Now...

How much do corporate layoffs cost the government via unemployment?

Its hard to give a total sum but we can get a gist by using examples, and what better example to use than from this afternoon:

"Hewlett Packard Co plans to lay off roughly 27,000 employees or about 8 percent of its workforce over the next couple of years to jumpstart growth and save up to $3.5 billion annually, sending its shares 11% higher"  - Reuters

So HP will save $3.5 billion annually and stockholders thought that ridding it self of 27,000 employees was such a super idea, that its shares spiked meaning larger dividends.

Everyone's happy.   Well, except for those fired but they don't count.. they're not shareholders... Right Hewlett Packard?
So how much will this action cost the US government via unemployment compensation while these former workers seek new jobs in a truly dreadful economy?

Let's say for simplicity sake, every person fired is to receive $300/wk...

That's 27,000 x $300 = $8.1 million spent for one week.

Now let's say as of week 27, 33% of the 27,000 suddenly became gainfully employed,  that means the for the first 26 weeks prior, the government covered all those fired...

 27,000 former HP employees x $300 x 26 wks = $210.6 million.

OK, with us so far?

Let's suppose by week 53, another 9,000 workers (33%) magically found jobs, that means for weeks 27-52, the government spent...

18,000 former HP employees x $300 x 26 wks = $140.4 million.
And on week 79, the remaining 33% suddenly found work meaning for weeks 53-78, the government spent...

9,000 former HP employees x $300 x 26 wks = $70.2 million.

Finally... we add those 3 big numbers together to see how much money in unemployment the government spent to cover 27,000 former HP workers who would still have jobs if not for the need for HP to maximize profits and shareholders to be happy:

$210.6m + $140.4m + $70.2m = $421.2 million dollars.

Because our example is real and HP is going to lay these people off, the government will have to spend $421.2 million dollars in a 79 week period once the mass layoffs begin, which is in essence, to cover human resource losses of an inept, incompetent company that can't seem to generate profit by any creative means outside of firing workers.
Then of course, down the line HP will need special corporate tax reductions and other government goodies to stay afloat vs the risk of more innocent people fired, but that's a math problem for another day.

Markets, Investors and lots of Cake

~ Those Elmo cupcakes look sooo good...

This posting aims to answer a straight-forward question as well, straight-forwardly as possible so you the reader understand not just the 'Why' and 'How' but the psychological component of these creatures called Investors.

And we'll be as brief and concise as we can be.

At the moment, its -142 pts at 12,359.  Yesterday it was up until a quick downward spike at the end of session to close at a minus.  In fact, Monday was only the 2nd positive trading session in now 17 market days.

So, the question is-- why do markets keep going down?  

Answer- Uncertainty.

Investors couldn't care less if Greece stays in the EU or leaves willingly or is kicked out on its bum.  They just want to know one way or another so they can brush the region aside like dandruff off a shoulder, and continue profit-making.
It really is That simple.

Those in finance love coming up with clever phrases and witticisms.  One of them is "Buy on the dip" which means whenever the market drops say 3-4% overall, that means there's some discount stocks available and they go buy them, which causes a dramatic market spike for that day or two.

By the way, this was pretty much the Only reason Monday saw positive.

Another phrase these pieces of (fill in the blank) enjoy using is "Bake into the Cake" which means when something negative or uncertain is priced into the market, no matter what 'surprises' may occur, the market is prepared and thus can fully ignore the situation to focus on profit.

And when world leaders get together to try to solve this crisis at least come up with a Plan B, its prime motivation isn't to calm the populaces-- they feel they have enough police in bullet-proof armor wielding batons to deal with them...

Its to calm the Investors; to try to give them that Certainty.

And right now no one knows in the world of finance truly knows anything so there's no 'cake baking' and this uncertainty is driving these roaches & rats simply mad!  Which to us at A&G, is making us smile a lot lately..
Investors as word and profession is really a glorified way of saying gambler.

A man hits on a woman-- she asks what does he do?  He says "Well, I spend all day at the track betting horses and on weekends I spend hours playing poker and slots at the casino"  She automatically thinks "Loser!" and rightly so.  However, if he says, "I'm an Investor", now to her and the greater society, this same Loser has class and importance.

So its that simple. Uncertainty is making the markets go mad...

Greek elections are in mid June so that's still three full weeks away, its people want a "have their cake and eat it too" relationship with the EU meaning all the benefits of membership without any of the dues, and really no one has a clue how the vote will go.

Meanwhile, Investors want some certainty so they can 'bake it into the cake' then continue to tell the world a la Marie Antoinette to go continue eating cake..

Mmmmm.. Cake...

Mumbo Jumbo

We thought this was funny...  From CNBC:

"News reports quoted former Greece Prime Minister Lucas Papademos as saying that preparations for the country's exit from the euro zone are being considered.  Papademos said such a move was unlikely to materialize but the risk is real."

We guess CNBC forgot to also mention Papademos was not elected by the Greek people; he was an EU appointed technocrat which is a fancy term for banker and worked extensively with Goldman Sachs prior to his appointment as PM..  We're sure this omission of information was unintentional...

Anyways. the first part of Papademos' comments are true... The 'unlikely' part is the mumbo jumbo to calm investors.

It sorta reminded us of parents off-hand telling their kids that they may (will) be divorcing...

"Children, you know Mommy and Daddy love each other but.. sometimes things happen and.. well its highly unlikely of course so don't worry but.. um... one of will not be living here much longer... but like we said.. this is just talk, so go back to bed..."

And ultimately that's what we are to world leaders-- the equivalent of children who must be mollycoddled, kid-gloved and told everything will ultimately be OK because as a society, we're too dependent on our 'Mommies' and 'Daddies' to think, react or survive on our own.

We have elections once every few years, choose someone then essentially say "Here's the key to the castle,  do what you want.. Don't worry us.. And as long as you don't do anything horribly illegal, we don't wish to be bothered..."

So anyone who wishes to look at Papademos' comments, and chooses to focus upon the 'unlikelihood' portion is a "Grasshopper"

And those who focus on the truthfulness of "preparations" being made to exit the euro, especially those living in Europe and are making preparations of their own, are "Ants"

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

'How to Blah-Blah-Blah in 4 easy steps'.

Have you ever read an 'empty' article?

Sure you have-- everyone has.  

Usually they have teaser headlines like "4 ways to eliminate student debt"  or "How to become a millionaire by 30", and the content is either super-obvious information that a child would know, or not applicable to the lives of 99.9%.

Found an article recently that was most irritating not simply because the information wasn't germane to most people but because the headline plays upon people's emotions; their hopes, dreams and fears in this on-going recession..  It was from CNN/Money and entitled:

4 Degrees with Zero Unemployment

So as the reader, you re supposed to see the headline and go, "Oooh, I am very curious.. I (or someone I know) plans on attending college so I must read this!'  

And what were the four degrees with zero unemployment?  

Law? Medicine?  Poli Sci?  Engineering?

No, No, Nope and Na-ah...
They were:

Actuarial Science -- Discipline that applies mathematical and statistical methods to assess risk in the insurance and finance industries.  In layperson terms, someone in this field helps companies to make as much $$ as humanly possible through cost computations in exchange for marginal raises and no job security vs someone younger and nerdier who comes along

Astrophysics -- Branch of astronomy that deals with the physics of the universe, including the physical properties of celestial objects, as well as their interactions and behaviors.  Picture the two male leads in "The Big Bang Theory".. that would be you if you pursued this field.

Pharmacology -- Branch of medicine and biology concerned with the study of drug action. It's more than simply being a Pharmacist.  Drug companies have found its more profitable to create medicines that control harmful diseases like HIV and Cancer than find outright cures. So you would be helping to create such wondrous new medicines to keep sick people healthy as long as their insurances will pay...

Geophysics -- Physics of the Earth and its environment in space; also the study of the Earth using quantitative physical methods.  Your job would be to help oil companies find new areas of excavation and drilling so their profits can expand even more and allow a planet to be even more fossil-fuel dependent than ever before.

So there you have it... Four simple, easy degrees that anyone can do.  All you need is an extremely strong mathematics background, the willingness to take on enormous debt to obtain the Masters degrees, and no personality, imagination or creativity.

Rhetoric and Repercussion

On this day in history, May 22nd, many many interesting little trivia tidbits occurred such as the Wright Brothers gaining a patent for their "flying machine" in 1906 and baseball legend Ted Williams enlisting in the military in 1942.

One event in particular back in 1856 strikes us as most fascinating and relevant to the present; an event few people have heard about:

On this date in 1856, Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina severely beat Senator Charles Sumner with a metal-tipped cane on the floor of the United States Senate.

From Wikipedia:

"Brooks' attack, assisted by fellow Southerner Rep Laurence Keitt, was delivered as revenge (or "punishment", in Brooks' words) in response to a virulent abolitionist speech by Sumner in which he mocked Brooks' relative, South Carolina Senator Andrew Butler, and likened Southern slaveholders to pimps.

"Sumner, who was known for his scathing abolitionist speeches, was severely injured by the attack, suffering head trauma that would cause him chronic pain and symptoms consistent with what would now be called traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, and spent three years convalescing before returning to his Senate seat.

"Brooks and Keitt were not prosecuted or censured for the attack, and both were overwhelmingly re-elected by their South Carolina constituents.  Brooks' act and the polarizing national reaction to it to are frequently cited as a major factor in the acceleration of tensions leading up to the US Civil War."
Polarized is the right word.  In the north, Brooks was vilified.  In the south, supporters sent him replacement canes as gifts.

But that's that rhetoric does.. it inflames passions..  Heightens the anger..  Turns rational thought into irrational action.

Sometimes one needs to watch what they say around others, no matter the conviction of belief.  Because not all will respond with a furrowed brow or empty banter.

And this makes us think about Europe.. all the nonstop rhetoric about Greece and their June elections-- the "My way or the highway" themed threats and pronouncements by Germany, the ECB and others...  the Bluster and Bravado that if Greece leaves, the EU will do just fine while fear-mongering that Greece will turn into a cesspool of anarchistic violence.

Nothing constructive comes from the rhetoric.  And you best believe there's many a Greek or Spaniard or Italian that would love to take a cane to the heads of many of the political leaders and financiers seeking to shove cold, harsh austerity down their throats.
Sometimes rhetoric can be hyperbolic like in the case of Charles Sumner.  Other times the rhetoric can appear innocent and benign like the G8 making empty promises of less austerity & more growth or the promise from the EU that Greece will stay in the Eurozone at all costs.

When the words ring hollow and end up untrue, the repercussions are a greater maddened populace feeling betrayed and manipulated by the pronouncements than had the leaders and bankers simply kept their worthless mouths shut.

Then again, their audience isn't the Latin Bloc of Europe.. its Investors.   Yes, there's that "I" word again.. vile, soulless, greedy, money-hungry Investors.  They want two things-- profit and certainty.  The world caters to those demands.

So that's where things are at today May 22nd.. the market blips up because it can't go down forever without some days of Investors buying on the dip.  Meanwhile Europe's leaders are nervous and will say or do anything to calm the markets to their masters, the Investors are placated.  And its a continual countdown to mid June

Expect the rhetoric in Europe to intensify... as will the repercussions

Monday, May 21, 2012

Video: Honest Investment Firm (commercial parody)

This commercial parody was made by Saturday Night Live around 2002-2004.  Its funny, true and has the same relevancy and poignancy today as then..  perhaps even more so today.. its 2min, 45sec long... Enjoy~

 PS--  if for some reason the video does not play, you can find it at its original YouTube link:

Always an 'Option C' if you look hard enough

One of the main points that we at 'A&G' seek to convey is that no matter the problem, while politicians, financiers and/or media frame arguments as 'A' or 'B', there is Always an Option C.. and sometimes even 'D'.. or 'E'...

Its not convenient or practical for those in power to present alternate options, thus they don't.  And if someone comes up with ideas outside the box, they're quickly labeled 'crackpot' or 'fringe' no matter how rational and sensible.

Let's take Greece- there's 2 options on the table: Take austerity or leave the EU and suffer;  Accept the will of Merkel or go back to financial 'hell' via a greatly depreciated drachma.

Option A is all 'good' i.e. the loving, nurturing embrace of those who run the Eurozone, who will figuratively wrap Greece in a big ol' bear hug and squeeze the remaining bit of life left out of it..

Option B is supposedly chaos, civil war, anarchy, mayhem, no financial assistance from the IMF or anyone else..

That's how the argument is presented..

Now.. here's another option that everyone could agree to if so inclined:

Option C:  All the parties mutually agree that Greece is to leave the Euro but it will be done in an orderly, meticulous fashion so not to create chaos in markets, the currency of Greece itself.

An agreement would also be made for one last bailout of Greece in combination of a temporary freeze on interest on debts and/or deferment of repayment for say, a period of 36 months.

Meanwhile, a future date would be announced when Greece was no longer to use euros, perhaps in 18months, allowing for a gradual and methodical conversion back to Greece's old currency.

Included would be a promise that a stable valuation between the two currencies would be artificially held for a period of time to prevent total collapse once the drachma was reintroduced.

Lastly, the IMF would be available to provide ultra-low loans with deferment of repayment at Greece's behalf until the nation stabilizes itself and returns to some form of growth.
So why is this not done?

Simple-  No one in the seats of power and control want this option.

Let's look at the entire austerity/growth debate for another example of this either/or nonsense..  Pro Austerity people say budget belts must be tightening as dramatic and quick as possible by cutting everything to the bone.  Pro-growth advocates say the way to save an economy is to spend, spend spend!

That's very nice.. now here Option C:

A combination of austerity and spending growth but which is targeted.   So instead of cutting one's budget by 20% so all the money ends up going to soulless bankers, perhaps the nation make cuts that equal 15%, then increase spending in areas that will stimulate trade or attract businesses to come and hire people, etc.

Either/Or extremes are for little children or the imbecilic adult.  The human brain can handle more options/choices than two.  And yet, that's all we're ever given to contemplate.. A or B
Another example.. one that irritates us for quite some time- US elections.   Everyone just blindly accepts that America Must be a two-party system.   Why?   Its not in the Constitution.

Certainly, some wish there were options beyond 'crap' or 'shit' but notice what happens whenever a real third-party candidate emerges like Ralph Nader or Ross Perot in the 1990's...  What is it people say?  Oh yes.. something like  "Aww, he can't win!"  or "I'm not wasting my vote"  or "Good, now the Dem vote (or the Rep vote) will be split and my (loser) candidate will win"

But America is a nation comprised of 310 million people, over half of which never vote in elections because no one represents their needs or interests.

So what would the political landscape look like if one could go to the ballot box and have true options during a Presidential election without any of that "He/She can't win" nonsense...
This is how A&G sees a truly democratic ballot:

A) Republican Party (Pro-Wall St, pro-profit, pro-war & nothing else matters)

B) Democratic Party (Pro-Wall St, pro-profit, pro-war & socially no judgments on morality or 'right or wrong')

C) Teddy-Roosevelt Republican Party (Pro Capitalism but keeping Wall St in check, pro environment, pro-Individual, socially moderate)

D) Religious Republican Party (Pro Capitalism but keep Wall St in Check, embraces Biblical teachings and morality in social policy, all life is sacred: anti-abortion & anti-death penalty

E)  True Democrats  (Hate Wall St and everything they represent;  focus on betterment of lower-middle, working and poorer classes; expanding social programs; tacking economic and social injustice)

F)  Libertarians (A little of this, a little of that...)

We believe if a true majority of Americans' beliefs and values were represented in the ballot box every Presidential election there would be at minimum Six parties, not the rigid, all-encompassing, all-lying two-headed one party monster we have today..  the Republicrats.

There's always options in life.   And if you are not provided them, sometimes you have to actively seek it out... or in some circumstances create it yourself..  your personal Option C

Sunday, May 20, 2012

'To Be (better off in '12 vs '08) or not To Be...'

Before we begin, this is the 1,000th posting for 'Ants & Grasshoppers'..

So Yayy! to that..

Well, that's all the celebrating we're going to do.. onto Important things..

Today's posting poses one simple question- economically are things better off or worse now vs 4 years ago at this very time of year?  For statistical purposes, since May's stats have not been full complied and released yet, we'll center the question around essentially April 2008 vs 2012.

April of 2008 was Bush's eighth year as President; 2012 is Obama's fourth..

Now while Lehman Bros collapse occurred in September of '08, the US was officially in month 5 of a recession begun in December, 2007 so it was not as if April 2008 was all peaches and creme.

So.. Is the economy better or worse now vs 2008?

The best way to answer is with statistics from a variety of sources and you the reader can make up your own mind one way or another..

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

April 2008, unemployment listed at 5.0%
April 2012, unemployment listed at 8.1%

Percentage of Blacks unemployed April 2008-- 8.9%
Percentage of Blacks unemployed April 2012-- 13.0%

Percentage of Teenagers unemployed April 2008- 15.4%
Percentage of Teenagers unemployed April 2012- 24.9%

Americans not in the labor force in April 2008-- 79,241,000 people
Americans not in the labor force in April 2012-- 88,419,000 people

* In 2011, the number was over 85million, meaning 2012 showed an increase of 3 million Americans not currently in the labor force for one reason or another...


Median home price in US: April 2008-- $232,100
Median home price in US: April 2012-- $161,000

** Median is the point at which half of all homes are sold for more and half are sold for less

Average sale price in US- April 2008-- $292,600
Average sale price in US- April 2012-- $228,300

** This is self-explanatory; what homes sold for on average
US Budget:

US National Debt: April 2008 - Approx $9.5 Trillion
US National Debt: April 2012 - Approx $15.7 Trillion

* Increase of $6.4 Trillion in 48 months

US deficit: April 2008 - $218 billion
US deficit: April 2012 - $719 billion

*  Think of 'debt' as the total debt you may owe all your creditors, and 'deficit' as what is the negative difference after all your annual paycheck is used up; the deficit gets added on to the total debt


# of Bankruptcy filed specifically in April 2008--  90,000
# of Bankruptcy filed specifically in April 2012-- 124,000

Everyday things:

Gallon of gasoline ave. :April 2008 -- $3.32
Gallon of gasoline ave. :April 2012 -- $3.78

Gallon of milk: 2008 -- $2.65
Gallon of milk: 2012 -- $3.67

Loaf of bread ave. :2008 -- $1.98
Loaf of bread ave. :2012 -- $2.37
Movie ticket 2008 -- $6.95
Movie ticket 2012 -- $8.15

Bank savings rate 2008 -- 3%
Bank savings rate 2012 -- 0.01%

Example:  $25,000 savings x 3%       =   $750
                 $25,000 savings x 0.01%  =   $ 25
We could continue but the point was made..

In exactly 48 months, unemployment and those given up looking for work is Higher.  So is the National Debt and the deficit.. So are the prices for gasoline, food and miscellaneous.  Meanwhile housing, which is the economic piggy bank for most people is Lower.

Is it Obama's fault?  Yes?  No?  Yes?

If so, how much fault?  A little?  A Lot?

Ultimately, if you believe things are truly better, you'll vote Obama. Even if you think things are worse, if your voting card has a D on it, you'll still vote Obama.   If you feel things are worse, you'll vote for change.  And if you think things are better than 4 years ago but have R on your voter card, you'll still vote Rep.

That's just how people are.

It will be Independents who make the difference, as always.