Virtually everything that you do is being watched. Do you drive a car? Do you watch television? Do you use a cell phone? As you do any of those things, information about you is being recorded and tracked. We live at a time when personal privacy is dying. And it is not just governments that are doing this. In fact, sometimes private companies are the biggest offenders. It turns out that gathering information about all of us is very, very profitable. And both government entities and private companies are going to continue to push the envelope when it comes to high tech surveillance until people start objecting to what they are trying to do. If we continue down the path that we are currently on, it is inevitable that we will end up living in an extremely restrictive “Big Brother” police state where basically everything that we do is very closely watched, monitored, tracked and controlled. And such a day may be much closer than you think. The following are 10 examples of how “Big Brother” is steadily creeping into our daily lives…
Is Detroit destined to become a Chinese city? Chinese homebuyers and Chinese businesses are starting to flood into the Motor City, and the governor of Michigan is greatly encouraging this. In fact, he has formally asked the Obama administration for 50,000 special federal immigration visas to encourage even more immigration from China and elsewhere. So will Detroit be the first major city in the United States to be dominated by China? It could happen. Once upon a time, Detroit was the greatest manufacturing city in the history of the world and it had the highest per capita income in the entire country. But now it is a rotting, decaying, bankrupt hellhole that is in desperate need of a savior, and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder appears to be fully convinced that China can be that savior.
It appears the status quo may be finally making its moves to getting control over the heretofore free and open internet. As we and many others have noted previously, the internet is one of the most powerful tools humanity has ever devised. It frees information in a way that was simply unimaginable decades ago and empowers each of us to be as informed or uninformed as we desire. Just last week, we mused, that in so-called “first world” countries like the U.S. the illusion of freedom must be maintained even as civil liberties are eroded. Thus censorship must be administered surreptitiously and slowly. The following plan to implement an “Internet ID” will initially only be rolled out as a pilot program in two states (Michigan and Pennsylvania), and will only deal with government services. That said, we can see where all of this is ultimately headed, and the program, called the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, should be monitored closely going forward.
Whenever the beltway bandits run low on excuses to run-up the national debt they trot out florid tales of crumbling infrastructure - that is, dilapidated roads, collapsing bridges, failing water and sewer systems, inadequate rail and public transit and the rest. This is variously alleged to represent a national disgrace, an impediment to economic growth and a sensible opportunity for fiscal “stimulus”. But most especially it presents a swell opportunity for Washington to create millions of “jobs”. One thing is clear. There is no case for adding to our staggering $17 trillion national debt in order to replace the bridges of Madison county; or to fix state and local highways or build white elephant high speed rail systems; or to relieve air travelers of paying user fees to upgrade local airports or local taxpayers of their obligation to pay fees and taxes to maintain their water and sewer systems. At the end of the day, the ballyhooed national infrastructure crisis is a beltway racket of the first order. It has been for decades.
Bonds, Gold, and JPY are bid this morning as US equity futures are fading fast. The Dow and S&P futures are now back below pre-AAPL/FB levels and Nasdaq futures falling fast. Gold is back above $1300 (up over $30 from yesterday's pre-Putin lows). Treasuries, led by the long-end, are rallying as safe-haven bids appear across the whole complex. 30Y yields are down to 3.53 - the lowest since July. JPY is bid once again as USDJPY tests back to the crucial 102 level.
- Russia raises interest rates to 7.5% (FT)
- Shanghai to Allow Raw Material Exchanges in Trade Zone (BBG)
- US, Japan Fail to Clinch Trade Deal (WSJ)
- 'We don't have a magic wand', says ECB's Constancio (Reuters)
- Tokyo Inflation Quickens to Fastest Since 1992 (BBG)
- Demand for Home Loans Plunges (WSJ)
- EU banks urged to grasp chance to raise capital (FT)
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.
After tens of millions in legal fees, a river of negative press, and ripple effects to other local municipalities, we have U-turned and are back to where we started.
- Sensitive Market Data Leaked After Government Phone Call (WSJ)
- This is a actual Bloomberg headline: China Fake Data to Skew More Export Numbers (BBG)
- This is another actual BBG headline: U.S. as Global Growth Engine Putt-Putts Instead of Purring (BBG)
- Ukraine wants to buy European gas to boost energy security (Reuters)
- JPMorgan Profit Falls 19% on Trading, Mortgage Declines (BBG)
- Record Europe Dividends Keep $2.8 Trillion From Factories (BBG)
- Why is Goldman shutting down Sigma X: SEC eyes test that may lead to shift away from 'dark pools' (Reuters)
- Ebola Outbreak Empties Hotels as West Africa Borders Closed (BBG)
- Australian PM says searchers confident of position of MH370's black boxes (Reuters)
- Gross Says El-Erian Should Explain Reason for Exit (BBG)
After a selloff as violent as that of last night, usually the overnight liftathon crew does a great job of recovering a substantial portion of the losses. Not this time, which coupled with the sudden and quite furious breakdown on market structure, leads us to believe that something has changed rather dramatically if preserving investor confidence is not the paramount issue on the mind of the NY Fed trading desk. Nikkei 225 (-2.38%) suffered its worst week since March'11 amid broad based risk off sentiment following on from a lower close on Wall St. where the Nasdaq Biotech index suffered its largest intra-day decline since August 2011. Negative sentiment carried over into European session, with stocks lower across the board (Eurostoxx50 -1.17%) and tech under performing in a continuation of the recent sector weakness seen in the US. JP Morgan (JPM) due to report earnings at 7:00AM EDT and Wells Fargo (WFC) at 8:00Am EDT.
You’d think a guy like Rogers who aggressively lobs untrue accusations against a journalist trying to inform the American public about government criminality would have a squeaky clean background himself. After all, he was a former FBI agent. You’d think that, but you’d be wrong. Incredibly, Dick Morris points out that until recently Mike Rogers’ wife was the president and the CEO of the company that was contracted by the State Department to provide intelligence-based and physical security services. While this sort of crony capitalism is seen as “business as usual” in the cesspool that is D.C., the really crazy part of this story is that as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rogers is charged with investigating the adequacy of security at the Benghazi compound prior to the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack. You can’t find a bigger conflict of interest than that...
The top 1% of 825,000 individual medical providers accounted for 14% of the $77 billion in medicare billing in 2012, according to new federal data reported by the WSJ. The data shows a very small number of doctors and medical providers account for a huge amount of the costs for treating the elderly and, as WSJ notes, suggest in some cases, may be enriching themselves in the process. As Bloomberg notes, one doctor, who treats degenerative eye disease in seniors, was paid $21 million (twice the 2nd highest paid doctor on the list) with some top earners making 100 times the average for their respective fields. One researcher summed it up, "There's all sorts of services that are low-value for patients, high-revenue to providers," and leaves us wondering, once again, how the government will manage as Obamacare's "success" washes ashore.
According to stunning new numbers just released by the federal government, that we detailed yesterday, nine of the top ten most commonly held jobs in the United States pay an average wage of less than $35,000 a year. When you break that down, that means that most of these workers are making less than $3,000 a month before taxes. And once you consider how we are being taxed into oblivion, things become even more frightening. Can you pay a mortgage and support a family on just a couple grand a month? Of course not. In the old days, a single income would enable a family to live a very comfortable middle class lifestyle in most cases. But now those days are long gone.
This week the state legislature of Michigan became the 34th state to demand a “Constitutional Convention” in the United States. Pursuant to Article 5 of the US Constitution, if 2/3rds of the states call for such a convention, (meaning 34 states) it must take place. In such a convention, the entire Constitution is subject to review and can be altered and changed.
Has the United States ever experienced a time when a foreign nation has attempted to buy up so much of our land all at once? As Michael Snyder details below, it appears the Chinese are on a real estate buying spree all over America as they are now the dominat 'buyers' of investment green cards. This is occurring as private equity buyers and hedge funds exit the buy-to-rent business en masse and are, as Mike Krieger explains, are desperate to pitch American property to anyone willing to keep Housing Bubble 2.0 inflated... it seems Zillow is more than happy to enable that, "Zillow agreed to make its U.S. property listings available to Chinese consumers through a partnership with a Beijing-based website."