3,000 Americans around the world renounced their citizenship last year. CNN Money introduces us to five U.S. citizens who have given up their passports -- or are thinking about it...
Becoming more like Europe is not a good thing. But that is the path that we are currently on. For the most part, Europeans live in a socialist “Big Brother” system in which the government completely dominates your life from the cradle to the grave. Of course there are differences from country to country, but generally speaking the lives of most Europeans are very tightly regulated. You see, the truth is that high levels of individual liberty and freedom are considered to be “dangerous” by the European elite. They believe that if we are all allowed to just do whatever we want that it would result in utter chaos. They are convinced that life is better when those that are smarter (them) control the lives of everyone else.
Few laws cause as much high blood pressure as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Supporters of the law consider it the signature legislation of the Obama administration. Yet, in 2011 the House of Representatives passed the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law,” one of more than 40 attempts to scuttle the legislation. Public opinion polls are ambiguous: most Americans are against the law as a whole and yet most support many of its provisions. BofAML tries to slice through the partisan debate and show what serious research says about how the ACA will impact the labor market.
While Washington debates over what is the proper explanation of the CBO's report which explicitly states that millions of workers will drop out of the labor force over the next decade thanks to Obamacare, Obama himself may have finally thrown in the towel, realizing that the longer the full implementation of Obamacare is delayed, the longer the myth that it is a viable Ponzi scheme - as opposed to non-viable - can persist. Perhaps this explains why AP reports that the White House is now considering an extension of the president's decision to let people keep their individual insurance policies even if they are not compliant with the health care overhaul, according to two top industry officials.
There are two major concerns that everyone should be concerned about that we see taking this sell-off further and faster than anyone else expects...
A paper currency system contains the seeds of its own destruction. The temptation for the monopolist money producer to increase the money supply is almost irresistible. In such a system with a constantly increasing money supply and, as a consequence, constantly increasing prices, it does not make much sense to save in cash to purchase assets later. A better strategy, given this scenario, is to go into debt to purchase assets and pay back the debts later with a devalued currency. Moreover, it makes sense to purchase assets that can later be pledged as collateral to obtain further bank loans. A paper money system leads to excessive debt. This is especially true of players that can expect that they will be bailed out with newly produced money such as big businesses, banks, and the government. We are now in a situation that looks like a dead end for the paper money system.
How does the Federal government explain this scramble to hand over the "sole-sourced" healthcare.gov IT contract (to a company made possible thanks to Enron) so late in the process? Simple: the usual mutually assured destruction tactic used so "effectively" in all other recent rushed decisions. As the Hill reports, unless Accenture finishes (and fixes) the back-end of the HealthCare.gov portal by mid-March, the healthcare law will be jeopardized, according to a procurement document posted on a federal website. The punchline: "It says insurers could be bankrupt and the entire healthcare industry threatened if the build out is not completed." In other words, a newly retained consulting company has less than three months to fix all the errors of coding by a different company, and make sure healthcare.gov is working properly... all 500 million lines of healthcare.gov's code?
- House Unveils $1.01 Trillion Measure to Fund Government (BBG)
- Credit Suisse Tells Junior Bankers to Take Saturdays Off (BBG)
- Spot the odd word out: ECB Sees Bad-Debt Rules as Threat to Credible Bank Review (BBG)
- Insert laugh track here: Spain GDP grows at fastest pace in almost six years (FT)
- Scandinavian Debt Crisis Waiting to Happen Puzzles Krugman (BBG)
- Fed Said to Release Plan to Limit Banks’ Commodities Activities (BBG)
- Thai Protesters Extend Blockade After Rejecting Poll Talks (BBG)
- China provinces set lower growth goals for 2014 (BBG)
By now the distinction that "enrollment" in Obamacare does not actually mean coverage should be painfully clear: one still has to pay, and according to a recent analysis up to 50% of "enrollees" in any given state have not paid, which means the White House's number of 2.1 million sign ups through December 28 is vastly overstating the reality (especially if one ignores the 5+ million of torn up, lost insurance policies as a result of Obamacare). But even if one clearly delineates what is meant by "enrollment" in the most epic failure of a ponzi scheme to ever emerge from a developed nation (with a recently disclosed penchant for Big Brother-yness), what conclusions can one draw about the current participants in obligatory, socialized insurance as most recently disclosed by the administration? Here is the summary: only 24% of all new insured are in the targeted 28-34 age group; only 21% of participants will get no subsidy (which means 79% will be subsidized), and finally more women (54%) than men have signed up.
Thought the incredibly unpopular Obamacare health plan (the most epic disaster story was the woman who was touted as a success and then later kicked off her plan) had put most of its problems behind it? Think again. Yesterday, after the stock market close, health insurer Humana warned that the “risk mix” of those who have signed up for the program will be “more adverse than previously expected.” In plain english what this means is that only old and sick people are signing up, while younger generations with piles of student debt, a couch in their parents’ basements and no jobs decide to ride things out uninsured.
Have you seen the economic recovery? We haven’t either. But it is bound to be around here somewhere, because the National Bureau of Economic Research spotted it in June 2009, four and one-half years ago. It is a shy and reclusive recovery, like the “New Economy” and all those promised new economy jobs. I haven’t seen them either, but we know they are here, somewhere, because the economists said so. At a time when most Americans are running out of coping mechanisms, the US faces a possible financial collapse and a high rate of inflation from dollar depreciation as the Fed pours out newly created money in an effort to support the rigged financial markets. It remains to be seen whether the chickens can be kept from coming home to roost for another year.
According to Bill Gross the outlook for 2014 is all about inflation, and how it will impact bonds in the 1-5 maturity bucket: "I am amazed at the fascination and emphasis placed on the u-rate during employment Fridays. Bond prices will move (in some cases by points) with a minor up or down change in unemployment relative to expectations, but when it comes to the third little pig of the litter – inflation – no one seems to care. This number – the PCE annualized inflation rate – is released near the 20th of every month but you will not see CNBC or Bloomberg analysts waiting with bated breath for its release. I do. I consider it the critical monthly statistic for analyzing Fed policy in 2014. Why? Bernanke, Yellen and their merry band of Fed governors and regional presidents have told us so. No policy rate hike until both unemployment and inflation thresholds have been breached and even then “they’re not thresholds,” they’re forks in the road that may or may not lead in a different direction. If so, then 1-5 year bonds, combined with credit, volatility, curve rolldown, and a dollop of currency should float a bond investor’s boat in 2014 and avoid breaking the buck in total return space.... If PCE inflation stays below 2.0% and inflationary expectations don’t rise appreciably above 2.5%, then a 3-4% total return for 2014 is realistic. "
"Paper and digital markets levitate, central banks pull out all the stops of their magical reality-tweaking machine to manipulate everything, accounting fraud pervades public and private enterprise, everything is mis-priced, all official statistics are lies of one kind or another, the regulating authorities sit on their hands, lost in raptures of online pornography (or dreams of future employment at Goldman Sachs), the news media sprinkles wishful-thinking propaganda about a mythical “recovery” and the “shale gas miracle” on a credulous public desperate to believe, the routine swindles of medicine get more cruel and blatant each month, a tiny cohort of financial vampire squids suck in all the nominal wealth of society, and everybody else is left whirling down the drain of posterity in a vortex of diminishing returns and scuttled expectations."
At this point, the problem of hitting limits in a finite world has morphed into primarily a financial problem. Governments are particularly affected. They find that they need to borrow increasing amounts of money to provide promised services to their citizens. Debt is a huge problem, both for governments and for individual citizens. Interest rates need to stay very low, in order for the current system to “stick together.” Governments are either unaware of the true nature of their problems, or are doing everything they can to hide the true situation from their constituents. The public has been placated by all kinds of misleading stories about how oil from shale will be the solution. Quantitative Easing (used by governments to lower interest rates) has temporarily allowed stock markets to soar, and allowed interest rates to stay quite low. So superficially, everything looks great. The question is how long all of this will last?
- Threatening snowstorm may be early test for N.Y. Mayor de Blasio (Reuters), U.S. Northeast Threatened With Blizzard, Travel Delays (BBG)
- Scarred U.S. consumers a hard sell for traditional retail (Reuters)
- Edward Snowden, Whistle-Blower (NYT)
- A Few Brave Investors Scored Huge, Market-Beating Wins (WSJ)
- Fiat gets full control of Chrysler for $4.35 billion (Reuters)
- Billions Vanish in Kazakh Banking Scandal (WSJ)
- SAC’s Cohen Focus of Trial as Martoma Rebuffs U.S. (BBG)
- World's first state-licensed marijuana retailers open doors in Colorado (Reuters)
- Hyundai, Kia face fading growth as currency tides buoy Japan rivals (Reuters)
- Bond investors braced for new year shock (FT)
- Putin vows total destruction of 'terrorists' after bombings (AFP)