Guest Post: Memo To Bernanke: It's Called Blowback, Baby

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds

Memo to Bernanke: It's Called Blowback, Baby

The covert manipulation of the domestic economy has set up ideal conditions for massive domestic blowback against the responsible agencies such as the Federal Reserve.

Broadly speaking, "blowback" is the unintended consequence to the civilian population of secret government operations. It is typically used to describe the consequences of overseas covert operations:


The term blowback first appeared in the the CIA internal history of the US’s 1953 Iranian coup d'état. Examples of blowback include the CIA’s financing and support for Afghan insurgents to fight an anti-Communist proxy guerilla war against the USSR in Afghanistan; some of the beneficiaries of this CIA support joined al-Qaeda's terrorist campaign against the United States.

But there is another kind of blowback brewing in the U.S.: the negative consequences of massive covert manipulation of the domestic economy by the Federal Reserve and agencies of the Federal government. A key feature of propaganda is the "documentation" presented to support a politically advantageous distortion.

In this case, the statistical support for the "recovery" rests on three numbers:

1. the stock market

2. the Federally issued jobs report

3. the GDP

In all cases, the numbers are doctored in a coordinated covert campaign to persuade the public that the economy is growing smartly. The stock market has doubled as a consequence of a declining dollar and other policies of the Federal Reserve designed to incentivize speculation in "risk trades" such as stocks and "carry trades" in currencies.

I have broken down the distortion many times, for example: The Stock Market As Propaganda (March 10, 2010).

The jobs report is heavily reliant on the "birth-death model" of small businesses, an opaque Federal guesstimate of the number of new small businesses being started and those being closed.

As reliably as clockwork, hundreds of thousands of "created out of thin air" jobs are logged as if they were real by the Bureau of Labor Statistics' "birth-death model." Yet in the real world, the number of small businesses has been in a three-year free-fall: Few Businesses Sprout, With Even Fewer Jobs (

In the real world, small business income is down 5%.
Small Business: Still Waiting for Recovery.

According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Proprietors' income-- the profits of unincorporated businesses such as partnerships or individuals who work for themselves--is down nearly 5 percent from two years ago, while corporate profits have jumped 21 percent in that period.

About 19.9 million partnerships and sole proprietorships with no employees existed in 2008, the latest year for which U.S. Census Bureau data are available. That number fell almost 2 percent from the previous year.

In a private-sector workforce of about 106 million, that's about 19% of all people with a job. Recall that the BLS counts you as employed if you work one hour a week or if you're "self-employed," even if you aren't making a dime.

Only in the world of massaged statistics does nobody notice that self-employed people who are seeing revenues and profits fall do not need to hire someone: they're sinking all on their own.

Small business understands uncertainty is now permanent. That's why 26% of all new private-sector hires are temporary.

Buried deep in the "news" announcing 244,000 new hires last month is the reality that income rose by a paltry 1.9% and hours worked were flat. The broader measure of the unemployment rate, which includes people who stopped looking for work and those settling for part-time jobs, rose to 15.9% in April from 15.7% the previous month.

The GDP rises because the Federal government has borrowed roughly $5 trillion in the past three years and sent much of it out as "income" where it is of course added to the GDP. Never mind where the money came from or what it will cost our children--the only thing that matters to the manipulation operation is that GDP rises every quarter. If it doesn't, then the "recovery" lie collapses.

According to the Consumer Metrics Institute, their Daily Growth Index resumed its movement into record negative territory, setting a new all-time low representing a 6.39% year-over-year contraction on May 3, 2011.

Although our data about consumer spending is clearly weaker than that being provided by U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) or the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), there are a number of reasons to suspect that the consumers that we monitor really are less enthusiastic about the economy than Mr. Bernanke:

-- We have often commented that the metrics used to measure retail sales are seriously flawed, creating at least a "survivor bias" in the statistics and a sampling bias that over-represents the elite large cap retailers. We have expected that the numbers would eventually be quietly revised. Last week the Census Bureau did exactly that, lowering their baseline historical data substantially for some segments of the retail sales data. Specifically, they reported that 2010 "furniture and home furnishings stores" sales were 3.6% weaker than previously reported (turning a meager 0.8% year-over-year gain into a -2.4% contraction), the highly discretionary "sporting goods, hobby, book, & music stores" group was down 3.9% from the 4.6% in prior reports, and the less easily sampled "miscellaneous store retailers" dropped some 6.7% from their earlier numbers (nearly wiping out completely the earlier 7.6% alleged gain).

On the flip side they also noted that gasoline stations had actually collected sales that were 4.6% greater than what the Census Bureau had told us before -- indicating that their sampling methodologies grossly under-reported the impact of rising pump prices.

Our problem has always been the reliability of the reports, since their version of history often undergoes dramatic rewrites long after the fact. In this particular case a 7.6% year-over-year gain becomes a 0.9% year-over-year gain, and a 0.8% year-over-year growth was admittedly actually a 2.4% contraction -- all done quietly and without media scrutiny. In short, retail sales were not as good as previously purported -- for all the reasons we have previously described -- and hardly anyone noticed.

-- We have always held Gallup's measures of the the U.S. consumer's psyche with high regard -- if for no other reason than that their very livelihood depends (unlike the BEA or DOC) on them evolving their polling techniques to stay in contact with even those "households" that connect with the outside world only through Facebook or Twitter. They have recently published three polls that show far greater consumer caution than is commonly suspected:

Last week Gallup issued their regular update on consumer confidence. In it they found that only 27% of U.S. consumers feel that economic conditions are "getting better," down from 41% who responded in the same manner one year ago.

In a separate poll they found that self-reported consumer spending was flat in April and essentially flat year-over-year. This means that there was actually a reduction in discretionary spending, since relative to a year ago consumers were also reporting that a substantially larger share of that spending is going for gasoline and groceries.

And in yet another consumer view of the economy, they reported that over half of U.S. consumers think that -- at least for them -- the 'Great Recession' has never ended. Although the polling numbers have improved since the very bottom of the recession, they have again deteriorated from last year.

-- And it isn't just U.S. consumers who are being cautious. Eurozone consumers have also become more frugal, with German consumers in the vanguard with a 2.1% monthly contraction in spending. The overall drop is 1.7% for the year, and it is now at the lowest level since November 2009. The German thrift is even more remarkable given that unemployment is far less of a concern there than anywhere else in Europe. And in some countries the downturn is clearly not a one-month fluke: the March 1.4% fall in retail sales in Spain extended the string of losses to twelve consecutive months.

In other words, the "recovery of consumer spending" is bogus. The pyramid of the American economy is instructive:

Memo to Mr. Bernanke: it's called blowback, baby, when the public finally sees through the covert ops propaganda. The institutions which are reporting the "proof the economy is recovering" will lose what remains of their credibility, as will a Mainstream Media which has unquestioningly "reported" the distortions as fact for years.

All this coordinated misinformation and distortion is setting up the delegitimization of the complicit institutions
, which include the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, the White House, Congress, and all the agencies tasked with documenting the "recovery."

Today the stock market is rallying on the wondrous "news" of hundreds of thousands of new jobs created--the last of the three metrics which the Status Quo needs to complete its picture of "recovery." As the gap between the "good news" and reality widens, the forces of blowback and delegitimization only coil tighter.

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Herne the Hunter's picture


Silver back at $36...

Gold almost back at $1500...

WTI at $102...

SheepDog-One's picture

Their propaganda costs them huge sums now and growing, while the effectiveness drops measured only in a few hours now. What will be this weekends propaganda diversion, full scale alien invasion to take peoples minds off the govt and bankster lies?

Cindy_Dies_In_The_End's picture

Some of you folks don't get it sometimes, sure THEY are self-interested, but they also know, in their self interest they can only push their model so far.


The real problem is a one of limited choices: that of a pancake "Splat" landing, OR that of a decline that is between Splat and well, a gentler splat.

contrary to the absolute parasite model, these folks would like to have their cake and eat it too, but only so far as they can avoid a Tunisian outcome.


Ben has limited choices, and he knows it.


the other problem is, that knowledge spread across the internet has seeped into some of the bourgeiois. People know things faster than they can spin.

michigan independant's picture

I would not say "that of a decline that is between Splat and well, a gentler splat."

Cratering in segments that cannot be replaced or repaired now. You ask any manager what do they need? It will illuminate your view of the empire.


john39's picture

is not beyond the realm of possible that the backlash is also part of the programming:

dr_teeth's picture

Blowback, isn't that when you take a large dump and the toilet water splashes back onto your ass?  Oh, wait, that's splachback. Well, it's almost the same thing.

r101958's picture

Their propaganda costs us huge sums. All the trillions will be/is being paid for by us, one way or another.

Doña K's picture

keep buying coins in equal time intervals and sleep tight.

If everyone bought one coin (silver and gold) we will break them

Dollar Bill Hiccup's picture

If they do a good job countering Blowback, could one then say that it's a Blowj-b?

NOTW777's picture

goolsbees performance this morning was over the top - talking booming job market - claiming "millions" of jobs

nope-1004's picture

Goolsbee reminds me of the muppet character "Beaker".  Mouth never stops flapping, but nothing of substance comes out.  The guy is simply there to say shit for a paycheck.  If he believes what he's saying, then he truly is an idiot.


newworldorder's picture

He has been granted one of the best "Economics" education money can buy from the University of Chicago.

This coupled with a lobotomy upon admittance, guarantees an economist that the financial elite can depend on forever.

Manthong's picture

Isn't that the same esteemed joint that gave us tenured terrorist now retired pensioner professor, and Obama ghost writer William Ayers?

Dirt Rat's picture

The University of Chicago gave us all kinds of fun people, like the Dark Prince of neo-conservatism Leo Strauss, Augusto Pinochet's economic advisors and Cass Sunstein. I could go on and on about other things and people they've given us, but if I did that, we'd all need barf bags.

InconvenientCounterParty's picture

fiat is a confidence game, a notion.

Notions are extremely asymmetrical in terms of elapsed time. It takes a long time to garner a notion but it can be lost in a very short time.


TheMerryPrankster's picture

A tight rope walker crosses on a slender line, a net beneath him and a balance pole in his hands, 2 levels of protection ensure a safe crossing. Remove the net and balance pole and any error is fatal.

Now what happens if a computer glitch, a hack, or some other curious event prevents 44 million SNAP (food stamps)  cards from being refilled with credits at the beginning of the month? 1 in 7 americans without food, could make a large angry crowd in any urban area. What happens when gas becomes so expensive its no longer practical to burn it in automobiles, but emminently practical to burn it in molotov cocktails?


My point is all safety nets have been dismantled or cannibalized to maximize profits for the slender number of real americans who really do matter to the corrupt oligarchy, they have convinced themselves they are immune to reality. Royalty in France had this same out of touch quality to it, right up until they felt the cold steel of the guillotine blade across their sweaty necks.


The system is creaking, failing under its own weight, we can see it in food stamp participation, unemployment and general incompetence by the political class. The days for preparation grow short, at most we have until 2015. Things could fall apart a lot faster and a lot sooner. At worst we will go back to living as our great grandparents did, electricity may become a luxury denied most of us. Plan accordingly.


An inverted pyramid is not a very stable structure.

SheepDog-One's picture

They know theyre screwed, the clock is winding down fast so thats why theyll need a really huge diversion to throw everything on its ear, spectacular horrible events to shock the american sheeple so that the lying govt and media and FED statistic spin and lies are the last things on anyones minds. Soon.

rufusbird's picture

".....the forces of blowback and delegitimization only coil tighter." This could have surprise ending like the monkey...

"The master took a small group of students into the forest where he hung a dried gourd from a tree.

The gourd had a small hole through which he filled the gourd with sweet sticky rice.

The class withdrew to watch. After a while a troop of monkeys came along and one of them put his fist into the gourd to grab a handful of the sweet smelling rice. When he couldn't withdraw his hand he began to screech. This attracted the attention of a leopard lurking nearby who quickly killed and carried off the monkey.

The master asked the class “What was the trap that killed the monkey?”

“The gourd?” asked, one. “The rice?” asked another...”No” said the teacher....”greed”.

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Gloomy's picture

This is BS. My kids are looking for jobs and the market is definitely much better. Yes, QE has goosed the economy. Get over it and move on.

SheepDog-One's picture

I hear McDonalds is hiring. No wait, they already hired. Well good luck to your kids in their job hunting, theyll need it with an idiot parent like you.

Gloomy's picture

It is blind not to see an economic recovery. It is also blind not to see that all the newly printed money will flow through the improving economy to cause much higher inflation.

Doña K's picture

My family is taking your advise to move on. We are moving to a more stable country before it's too late and transportation is not available at any cost and the borders are sealed just like the iron curtain.

Revolt now before it's too late.

Josh Randall's picture

Of course the job market is better for kids, because they are cheaper and will displace a more seasoned expensive worker. Thats the new model Gloomy -- hire young, cheap, and work em 60 hours a week, while you fire the 80-100k+ Team Lead or Manager. Then outsource the backoffice operations and VOILA, you have a lean cheaper company with less overhead and fixed costs

Cindy_Dies_In_The_End's picture

Keyword being "looking" not "my kids just got or HAVE jobs"


Glad to see Hopium is alive and well. Hope your kids are smarter than you.

takinthehighway's picture

Wishful thinking 'cause the kids are 20somethings still living at home?

Mariposa de Oro's picture

My friends who USED to work at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida are STILL without jobs.  The few that are still employed don't know what they're going to for work when they're finished mothballing the Shuttle.  The only reason I'm still employed is because I saw the crap coming and headed overseas.  Last fall my employer had a RIF.  Some of those folks STILL don't have jobs.  We're expecting MORE lay-offs later this summer.  The only thing 'goosed' by QE is the damn stock market.  The rest of us are slowly becoming dead ducks.

Josh Randall's picture

Blowback - just like a Vegas flash mob at a convenience store...

See if these people were REALLY smart, they would have hit a department store. But I guess the masses are satisfied with free Monster energy drink, bad beer, and twinkies when the costs of food and energy are too much


Cindy_Dies_In_The_End's picture

josh: wait for it.


Crime is already rising in many cities.


They will take what isn't given, so be vigilant.

csmith's picture

No way to steal several hundred gallons of gasoline I guess...would take too long.

treemagnet's picture

Use this time to prep for bad times - truth is yours to use, so use it wisely.  Its also a great way to channel anger over the fraud, lies, and corruption.  Eat the rich.

SheepDog-One's picture

Thats right, when youre out shopping for tarps and water purifiers and your friends make fun of you because theyre out shopping for new IPads and youre just not kewl, you just smile at them.

takinthehighway's picture

And these same "friends" will show up at your door at TEOTWAWKI +1 demanding that you take care of them...

SheepDog-One's picture

Funny, I already tell my sheeple friends 'When you see the SHTF, dont come around here! Go to the Apple store theyll help you'. I'll stack em out back like cord wood. 

treemagnet's picture

My Dad gives me shit but knows deep down I'm spot on when I tell him I know I'm the first call he'll make.

falak pema's picture

Blowback is economic backlash...if it combines with social outcry... it becomes explosively unstable in the ghetto and spreads like the plague to the middle class now compressed worse than a kleenex in a man's hip pocket or a woman's menstrual pad. Squeeze where it hurts and the ouch is heard around the globe like a gathering twitter that sends shocks to those who think they're immune to tsunami damage. Watch them run when the people's dam bursts...running wild in the streets like molten ire belched by the gods.

Kina's picture

The moment will begin when their flat screen tvs are taken away, and they all look up and start crying like a baby whose dummy has been stolen. OR when beer becomes too expensive.

Abitdodgie's picture

You would not be English by any chance

falak pema's picture

not even in my wildest dreams.

PaperBear's picture
Physical silver COMEX inventories continue to shrink while increases in margin for a futures contract have gone parabolic.
They hold only 33MN oz these days versus 3BN oz in 1955 - if my maths serves me correct then this is a 99% reduction.
The Silver Liberation Army has the criminal banksters in the pain locker - WOOHOO
JR's picture

The economy — that’s where Bernanke is getting the value for the stock market.  Only a fool would ignore it. How long will the savers and jobless and underemployed and stagnant workers, the house bitten and the bubble victimized investors, need to suffer for the benefit of inflation building and “massive covert manipulation” for the financials?

breezer1's picture

charles is a very good writer. for those of us less talented the word bullshit carries the day. 

as for calls for another ' distraction', i agree that something planned or a black swan will need to distract very soon.

SheepDog-One's picture

Hardly anyone 10 years ago knew the scam that the 'FED' is widely recognized as today, very few question what money everyone is on the internet talking about the FED fractional fiat central banksters, the Federal Reserve Note fraud, how its really worth nothing. Now maybe they still have the 401K geezers and the 20-something credit consumers onboard, but thats about it. Everyone else now knows its a rigged game of slavery for the many, all riches to the very few.

Waterfallsparkles's picture

The Stock Market doubling does not create confidence.  Instead it creates resentment among Americans. 

They slowly watch themselves being sacrificed with the lower Dollar purchasing power, Higher Food costs, Higher Gasoline costs, Higher Heating costs, Higher clothing costs.  No interest on their savings, no COLA for Social Security for 2 years.  How does this make them feel better about the economy.  It is quite the reverse as they resent the Banks that killed the Economy being the only ones that have benefited from the "RECOVERY".   Recovery, for who?  Not for the Middle Class.  This causes resentment and will end up with class warfare.

Bernanke may have studied the Great Depression but he must have skipped earlier History.  Like the fall of Rome, Egypt (let my people go), Marie Louie Antoinette, the French Revolution, the Tea Party, the war of 1812.

Kina's picture

How many Americans, up to their necks in debt before the crash, had spare money to invest in the share market anyway?


They are going to be mighty angry if they ever realise that the net result of the Fed & Govts recovery effort has been to make the powerful their masters and the rich richer at the expense of teh middle class.

Mariposa de Oro's picture

As long as the TeeVees work, the sheeple will never realize anything.  Talk about a WMD.