• Pivotfarm
    04/22/2014 - 20:14
    Age-old myths and fantasies about turning stuff that was worthless into gold. Alchemists leaning over their cauldrons of bubbling brew in the dark recesses of the dungeon of some mythical castle...

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David Stockman On 'The QE Follies': Bernanke's Swell Gift To The Big Four Banks

The Fed’s 5-year campaign to drive the 30-year mortgage rate from 6.5% to 3.3% has accomplished nothing except to touch off another of those pointless “refi” booms which enable homeowners to swap an existing mortgage for a new one carrying a significantly lower interest rate and monthly service cost. Such debt churning exercises have been sponsored repeatedly by the Fed since the S&L debacle of the late 1980s. The overwhelming evidence, however, is that America’s shop-till-they-drop consumers have finally dropped. But while peak debt means that the Fed’s entire 5-year money printing spree was destined to fail, it nevertheless has produced massive impacts - all of them bad or stupid. One of the most crucial is that it generated an artificial refi windfall to the Big Banks which now dominate the home mortgage business. And the profit windfall was a doozy. Now that financial results for Q1 2014 have been posted, the impact on Big Four financial results can actually be quantified. The four charts below on mortgage originations per quarter during the course of the Fed’s balance sheet expansion binge are the smoking gun.



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Massive "Meteor-Like" Explosion Lights Up North Russian Night Sky

A little over a year ago, in February 2013, a meteor traveling at 19 miles per second above Chelyabinsk in the Russian Urals exploded in the morning sky, recorded by countless dashcams, with the resulting shock wave shattering windows hundreds of miles away. Fast forward to this night, when residents of Russia's northern Murmansk region witnessed the fall of a celestial body similar to the famous Chelyabinsk meteorite on Saturday night. It flashed at 02:10 am local time and was clearly seen in the sky. However, no sound of explosions was heard.



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What Happened To The Middle Class? The Infographic

Restaurants like Olive Garden and Red Lobster are struggling, while high end dining is flourishing. At GE, demand for high-end dishwashers is racing ahead of sales growth for mass-market models. The increased wealth of highly skilled workers, the insane wealth of those with capital, and the outsourcing of lower skilled jobs have left us all asking, “what happened to the middle class?

 



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These Are America's Most And Least "Taxing" States (And Everything Inbetween)

One of the most consistent debates emanating out of Washington in the past 6 years has been that dealing with income tax. Whether high, low, "fair" or "unfair", said discussions, however, focus solely on tax paid at the Federal level, and largely ignore that "other" key tax: state. Which is surprising, considering some states such as California demand a total contribution amounting to a third of the highest marginal Federal tax bracket, which could make some wonder if those bracing sea breezes are really worth it. But what about the other states? Here is the full breakdown of the states with the top income tax rates, those with the lowest, and all the states inbetween.



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Are The Swiss Going Crazy? $25 Minimum Wage Referendum In May

Most of our readers probably know what we think of minimum wages, but let us briefly recapitulate: there is neither a sensible economic, nor a sensible ethical argument supporting the idea. So when we saw that the Swiss will vote in a national referendum May 18 on whether to create a minimum wage of 22 francs ($25) per hour, or 4,000 francs a month, we were stunned... If Swiss voters agree to introducing a new minimum wage law, they would end up doing incalculable damage to Switzerland's entrepreneurial culture. At the moment, Switzerland is still one of the freest economies in the world. It has been extremely successful so far and its achievements would clearly be put at risk. Hopefully Switzerland's voters won't be swayed by union's arguments.



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Democrats Told "Don't Mention 'Economic Recovery' - It's A Political Loser"

Democratic strategists have made a blunt declaration in an election-year memo, according to AP, "Don't talk about the economic recovery. It's a political loser." Stan Greenberg, James Carville and others wrote that in head-to-head polling tests the mere mention of the word "recovery" is trumped by a Republican assertion that the Obama administration has had six years to get the economy moving and its policies haven't worked. But, but, but... stocks are at all-time highs?



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The Real 'Reset' Button

It's too late now...



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Hyper-Sensitive Illinois Mayor Orders Police Raid Over Parody Twitter Account

There is now a systemic two-tier justice system operating in these United States, and the result will unquestionably be tyranny if the trend continues unabated. The latest example of a lowly citizen being subject to a disproportionate use of the law, is Jon Daniel of Peoria, Illinois. Jon was behind a parody Twitter account that mocked Peoria mayor Jim Ardis, and his biggest mistake was not making it clear that it was a parody. As a result, Twitter had already suspended the account weeks ago. Problem solved, right? Wrong. The tough guy mayor was so offended that a plebe would dare criticize his royal highness that he ordered a police raid on the home of Jon Daniel and his roommates.



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Guest Post: Liberty Movement Rising

The liberty movement has just experienced one of its first great moments of realization and empowerment in Clark County, Nev., and millions of past naysayers have been shell-shocked. Corrupt leadership often crumbles in the face of steadfast resolve and courage. We have a long way to go before this Nation is once again truly free, but the liberty movement has proven its invaluable worth over the course of the past several days..."Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing."



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De-Escalation Off: US Deploys Troops To Poland

So what part of "All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions," did the US not understand when they decided that deploying troops to Poland was in keeping with the four-party deal? As WaPo reports, Poland and the United States will announce next week the deployment of U.S. ground forces to Poland as part of an expansion of NATO presence in Central and Eastern Europe in response to events in Ukraine. As a reminder, we noted in December, Russia's placement of tactical nuclear-capable weapons near the Polish border which at the time sent a very clear message of escalation (despite the, at the time, lack of New Cold War headlines).



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What Collateral Shortage? Collectible Cars Used As "Hard Assets"

You know it's bad when... The central bank inspired nominal price surge in everything expensive has not quite exhausted the greater fool trend-chasing muppet "wealth-builders" yet. As HedgeCo reports, Classic Auto Funds Limited (CAF) is launching several investment partnerships using collectable classic cars as the "hard asset". Forget oil-wells, real estate, or precious metals, as Robert Minnick (senior managing partner at CAF) states confidently, "many investors are recognizing the rising returns in specific classic cars as a low-risk asset." A "low-risk" "investment" indeed... what could possibly go wrong?

 



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Russia Confirms Troop Build-Up Near Ukraine; Warns West, More Sanctions "Absolutely Unacceptable"

For the first time, Russia has confirmed that it has built up its military presence on the Ukrainian border (according to Agence France Presse). On the heels of the de-escalation and the West's threat of tougher sanctions (if Russia failed to abide by the new 'deal'), Kremlin spokesman Dmirty Peskov told Rossiya TV that "we have troops in different regions, and there are troops close to the Ukrainian border. Some are based there, others have been sent as reinforcements due to the situation in Ukraine." Reuters also reports that Washington statements "are unlikely to help dialogue," and further sanctions would be "absolutely unacceptable." It seems the 'deal' has done little to calm anything but the US equity market as Peskov blasted "You can't treat Russia like a guilty schoolboy."



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18 Stats That Prove That Government Dependence Has Reached Epidemic Levels

Did you know that the number of Americans getting benefits from the federal government each month exceeds the number of full-time workers in the private sector by more than 60 million?  In other words, the number of people that are taking money out of the system is far greater than the number of people that are putting money into the system.  And did you know that nearly 70 percent of all of the money that the federal government spends goes toward entitlement and welfare programs?  When it comes to the transfer of wealth, nobody does it on a grander scale than the U.S. government.  Most of what the government does involves taking money from some people and giving it to other people.  In fact, at this point that is the primary function of the federal government.



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Peak "Greatest Fool"

Confirming everything US "investors" already knew but were afraid to admit... earnings-less IPOs just hit peak greatest fool levels in the most uncomfortable deja vu moment of the 'recovery'...



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Consumer Confidence Collapses In Japan

"Japan’s consumer confidence fell in March to the lowest level since August 2011..." This is a worst fall than the nation suffered during the Tsunami and the fastest fall since 2009. Abe has no choice now, get long Depends...



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