en Housing Industry Frets About the Next Brick to Drop <p>Wolf Richter&nbsp;&nbsp; <a href=""></a>&nbsp;&nbsp; <a href=""></a></p> <p>Stephen Schwarzman, CEO and co-founder of Blackstone Group, the world’s largest private-equity firm with $290 billion in assets under management, made $690 million for 2014 via a mix of dividends, compensation, and fund payouts, <a href=""><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><span style="color: #0009c4;">according</span></span></a> to a regulatory filing. A 50% raise from last year.</p> <p>The PE firm’s subsidiary Invitation Homes, doped with nearly free money the Fed’s policies have made available to Wall Street, has become America’s number one mega-landlord in the span of three years by buying up 46,000 vacant single-family homes in 14 metro areas, initially at a rate of $100 million per week, now reduced to $35 million per week.</p> <p>As of September 30, Invitation Homes had $8.7 billion worth of homes on its balance sheet, followed by American Homes 4 Rent ($5.5 billion), Colony Financial ($3.4 billion), and Waypoint ($2.6 billion). Those are the<a href=""><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><span style="color: #0009c4;"> top four</span></span></a>. Countless smaller investors also jumped into the fray. Together they scooped up several hundred thousand single-family houses.</p> <p>A “bet on America,” is what Schwarzman <a href=""><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><span style="color: #0009c4;">called</span></span></a> the splurge two years ago.</p> <p>The bet was to buy vacant homes out of foreclosure, outbidding potential homeowners who’d actually live in them, but who were hobbled by their need for mortgages in cash-only auctions. The PE firms were initially focused only on a handful of cities. Each wave of these concentrated purchases ratcheted up the prices of all other homes through the multiplier effect.</p> <p>Homeowners at the time loved it as the price of their home re-soared. The effect rippled across the country and added about $7 trillion to homeowners’ wealth since 2011, doubling equity to $14 trillion.</p> <p>But it pulled the rug out from under first-time buyers. Now, only the ludicrously low Fed-engineered interest rates allow regular people – the lucky ones – to buy a home at all. The rest are renting, in a world where rents are ballooning and wages are stagnating.</p> <p>Thanks to the ratchet effect, whereby each PE firm helped drive up prices for the others, the top four landlords booked a 23% gain on equity so far, with Invitation Homes alone showing &nbsp;$523 million in gains, according to RealtyTrac. The “bet on America” has been an awesome ride.</p> <p>But now what? PE firms need to exit their investments. It’s their business model. With home prices in certain markets exceeding the crazy bubble prices of 2006, it’s a great time to cash out. RealtyTrac VP Daren Blomquist told <a href=""><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><span style="color: #0009c4;">American Banker</span></span></a> that small batches of investor-owned properties have already started to show up in the listings, and some investors might be preparing for larger liquidations.</p> <p>“It is a very big concern for real estate professionals,” he said. “They are asking what the impact will be if investors liquidate directly onto the market.”</p> <p>But larger firms might not dump these houses on the market unless they have to. American Banker reported that Blackstone will likely cash out of Invitation Homes by spinning it off to the public, according to “bankers close to the Industry.”</p> <p>After less than two years in this business, Ellington Management Group exited by <a href=""><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><span style="color: #0009c4;">selling</span></span></a> its portfolio of 900 houses to American Homes 4 Rent for a 26% premium over cost, after giving up on its earlier idea of an IPO. In July, Beazer Pre-Owned Rental Homes had exited the business by selling its 1,300 houses to American Homes 4 Rent, at the time still flush with cash from its IPO a year earlier.</p> <p>Such portfolio sales maintain the homes as rentals. But smaller firms are more likely to cash out by putting their houses on the market, Blomquist said. And they have already started the process.</p> <p>Now the industry is fretting that liquidations by investors could unravel the easy Fed-engineered gains of the last few years. Sure, it would help first-time buyers and perhaps put a halt to the plunging homeownership rates in the US [<a href="" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><span style="color: #0009c4;">The American Dream Dissipates at Record Pace]</span></span></a>.</p> <p>But the industry wants prices to rise. Period.</p> <p>When large landlords start putting thousands of homes up for sale, it could get messy. It would leave tenants scrambling to find alternatives, and some might get stranded. A forest of for-sale signs would re-pop up in the very neighborhoods that these landlords had targeted during the buying binge. Each wave of selling would have the reverse ratchet effect. And the industry’s dream of forever rising prices would be threatened.</p> <p>“What kind of impact will these large investors have on our communities?” wondered Rep. Mark Takano, D-California, in an email to American Banker. He represents Riverside in the Inland Empire, east of Los Angeles. During the housing bust, home prices in the area plunged. But recently, they have re-soared to where Fitch now considers Riverside the third-most overvalued metropolitan area in the US. So Takano fretted that “large sell-offs by investors will weaken our housing recovery in the very same communities, like mine, that were decimated by the subprime mortgage crisis.”</p> <p>PE firms have tried to exit via IPOs – which kept these houses in the rental market.</p> <p>Silver Bay Realty Trust went public in December 2012 at $18.50 a share. On Friday, shares closed at $16.16, down 12.6% from their IPO price.</p> <p>American Residential Properties went public in May 2013 at $21 a share, a price not seen since. “Although people look at this as a new industry, there’s really nothing new about renting single-family homes,” CEO Stephen Schmitz told <a href=""><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><span style="color: #0009c4;">Bloomberg</span></span></a> at the time. “What’s new is that it’s being aggregated, we’re introducing professional management and we’re raising institutional capital.” Shares closed at $17.34 on Friday, down 17.4% from their IPO price.</p> <p>American Homes 4 Rent went public in August 2013 at $16 a share. On Friday, shares closed at $16.69, barely above their IPO price. These performances occurred during a <em>euphoric</em> stock market!</p> <p>So exiting this “bet on America,” as Schwarzman had put it so eloquently, by selling overpriced shares to the public is getting complicated. No doubt, Blackstone, as omnipotent as it is, will be able to pull off the IPO of Invitation Homes, regardless of what kind of bath investors end up taking on it. </p> <p>Lesser firms might not be so lucky. If they can’t find a buyer like American Homes 4 Rent that is publicly traded and doesn’t mind overpaying, they’ll have to exit by selling their houses into the market.</p> <p>But there’s a difference between homeowners who live in their homes and investors: when homeowners sell, they usually buy another home to live in. Investors cash out of the market. This is what the industry dreads. Investors were quick to jump in and&nbsp;inflated prices. But if they liquidate their holdings at these high prices, regular folks might not materialize in large enough numbers to buy tens of thousands of perhaps run-down single-family homes. And then, getting out of the “bet on America” would turn into a real mess.</p> <p>And getting out of the <em>bet on China</em>? China has long frustrated the hard-landing watchers. But maybe not much longer. Read… <a href="" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><span style="color: #0009c4;">Housing Crash in China Steeper than in Pre-Lehman America </span></span></a></p> Beazer China Fitch Free Money Real estate RealtyTrac RealtyTrac recovery Vacant Homes Sun, 01 Mar 2015 05:54:11 +0000 testosteronepit 502670 at Most Americans Are Slaves And They Don't Even Know It <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog</em></a>,</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 457px;" /></a></p> <p><strong>Most Americans spend their lives working for others, paying off debts to others and performing tasks that others tell them that they &ldquo;must&rdquo; do.</strong>&nbsp; These days, we don&rsquo;t like to think of ourselves as &ldquo;servants&rdquo; or &ldquo;slaves&rdquo;, but that is what the vast majority of us are.&nbsp; It is just that the mechanisms of our enslavement have become much more sophisticated over time.&nbsp; It has been said that the borrower is the servant of the lender, and most of us start going into debt very early into our adult years.&nbsp; In fact, those that go to college to &ldquo;<a href="" target="_blank" title="get an education">get an education</a>&rdquo; are likely to enter the &ldquo;real world&rdquo; with a staggering amount of debt.&nbsp; And of course that is just the beginning of the debt accumulation.</p> <p><strong>Today, when you add up all mortgage debt, all credit card debt and all student loan debt, the average American household is carrying a grand total of <a href="" target="_blank" title="203,163 dollars">203,163 dollars</a> of debt.</strong>&nbsp; Overall, American households are <a href="" target="_blank" title="more than 11 trillion dollars in debt">more than 11 trillion dollars in debt</a> at this point.&nbsp; And even though most Americans don&rsquo;t realize this, over the course of our lifetimes the amount of money that we will repay on our debts is far greater than the amount that we originally borrowed.&nbsp; In fact, when it comes to credit card debt you can easily end up repaying several times the amount of money that you originally borrowed.&nbsp; So we work our fingers to the bone to pay off these debts, and the vast majority of us are not even working for ourselves.<strong>&nbsp; Instead, our work makes the businesses that other people own more profitable.&nbsp; So if we spend the best years of our lives building businesses for others, servicing debts that we owe to others and making others wealthier, what does that make us?</strong></p> <p><strong>In 2015, the words &ldquo;servant&rdquo; and &ldquo;slave&rdquo; have very negative connotations, and we typically don&rsquo;t use them very much.</strong></p> <p>Instead, we use words like &ldquo;employee&rdquo; because they make us feel so much better.</p> <p>But is there really that much of a difference?</p> <p>This is how Google defines &ldquo;servant&rdquo;&hellip;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;a person who performs duties for others, especially a person employed in a house on domestic duties or as a personal attendant.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>This is how Google defines &ldquo;slave&rdquo;&hellip;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>This is how Google defines &ldquo;employee&rdquo;&hellip;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;a person employed for wages or salary, especially at nonexecutive level.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Yes, most of us might not be &ldquo;legal property&rdquo; of someone else in a very narrow sense, but in a broader sense we all have to answer to someone.</p> <p>We all have someone that we must obey.</p> <p>And we all have obligations that we must meet or else face the consequences.</p> <p>At this point, Americans are more dependent on the system than ever before.&nbsp; Small business ownership in the U.S. is <a href="" title="at a record low">at a record low</a>, and the percentage of Americans that are self-employed <a href="" title="has fallen to unprecedented levels">has fallen to unprecedented levels</a> in recent years.&nbsp; From a very early age, we are trained to study hard so that we can get a good &ldquo;job&rdquo; (&ldquo;just over broke&rdquo;) and be good cogs in the system.</p> <p>But is that what life is about?</p> <p>Is it about being a cog in a system that ultimately benefits others?</p> <p>Perhaps you don&rsquo;t think that any of this applies to you personally.</p> <p>Well, if someone came up to you and asked you what you truly own, what would you say?</p> <p>Do you own your vehicle?</p> <p>Most Americans don&rsquo;t.</p> <p>In fact, today the average auto loan at signing is&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="approximately $27,000">approximately $27,000</a>, and many of them stretch on for six or seven years.</p> <p>What about your home?</p> <p>Do you own it?</p> <p>Most Americans don&rsquo;t.</p> <p>In fact, overall the banks have a much greater &ldquo;ownership&rdquo; interest in our homes and our land than we do.</p> <p>But even if you have your home totally &ldquo;paid off&rdquo;, does that mean that you actually &ldquo;own&rdquo; it?</p> <p>Well, no, not really.</p> <p>Just see what happens if you quit paying your property taxes (rent) to the proper authorities.</p> <p>So if they can take your home away from you for not paying rent (property taxes), do you really own it?</p> <p>That is something to think about it.</p> <p>What about all of your stuff?</p> <p>Do you own it?</p> <p>Perhaps.</p> <p>But a very large percentage of us have willingly enslaved ourselves in order to acquire all of that stuff.</p> <p>Today, the typical U.S. household that has at least one credit card has approximately <a href="" target="_blank" title="$15,950">$15,950</a> in credit card debt.</p> <p>And if you do not pay off those credit card balances, the credit card companies will unleash the hounds on you.</p> <p>Have you ever had an encounter with a debt collector?</p> <p>They can be absolutely brutal.&nbsp; And they use those tactics because they work.&nbsp; In fact, they are so good at what they do that many of those that own debt collection companies have become exceedingly wealthy.&nbsp; <a href="">The following is from a recent&nbsp;CNN article&hellip;</a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Yachts. Mansions. Extravagant dinner parties. Life is good for the founders of one of the nation&rsquo;s biggest government debt collectors.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>That firm, Linebarger Goggan Blair &amp; Sampson, rakes in big money from government contracts that allow it to pursue debtors over toll violations, taxes and parking tickets. While the debts often start small, the Austin-based firm charges high fees, which can add hundreds or even thousands of dollars to the bill.</p> <p>After growing this business from a small Texas law firm in the late 1970&rsquo;s to a nationwide debt collection powerhouse, the firm&rsquo;s founders and top brass have walked away with millions of dollars.</p> </blockquote> <p>And I haven&rsquo;t even mentioned our collective debts yet.</p> <p>We have willingly chosen to collectively enslave ourselves on a local, a state and a national level.</p> <p>It is bad enough that we are doing this to ourselves.&nbsp; But we are also cruelly saddling future generations of Americans with the largest mountain of debt in the history of the planet.&nbsp; The following is from my previous article entitled &ldquo;<a href="" title="Barack Obama Says That What America Really Needs Is Lots More Debt">Barack Obama Says That What America Really Needs Is Lots More Debt</a>&ldquo;&hellip;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>When Barack Obama took the oath of office, the U.S. national debt was 10.6 trillion dollars.&nbsp; Today, it has surpassed the 18 trillion dollar mark.&nbsp; And even though we are being told that &ldquo;deficits are going down&rdquo;, the truth is that the U.S. national debt increased <a href="" title="by more than a trillion dollars">by more than a trillion dollars</a> in fiscal 2014.&nbsp; But that isn&rsquo;t good enough for Obama.&nbsp; He says that we need to come out of this period of &ldquo;mindless austerity&rdquo; and steal money from our children and our grandchildren even faster.&nbsp; In addition, Obama wants to raise taxes again.&nbsp; His budget calls for 2 trillion dollars in tax increases over the next decade.&nbsp; He always touts these tax increases as &ldquo;tax hikes on the rich&rdquo;, but somehow they almost always seem to end up hitting the middle class too.&nbsp; But whether or not Congress ever adopts Obama&rsquo;s new budget is not really the issue.&nbsp; The reality of the matter is that the &ldquo;tax and spend Democrats&rdquo; <strong>and</strong> the &ldquo;tax and spend Republicans&rdquo; are <strong>both</strong> responsible for getting us into this mess.&nbsp; Future generations of Americans are already facing the largest mountain of debt in the history of the planet, and <strong>both parties</strong> want to make this mountain of debt even higher.&nbsp; The only disagreement is about how fast it should happen.&nbsp; It is a national disgrace, but most Americans have come to accept this as &ldquo;normal&rdquo;.&nbsp; If our children and our grandchildren get the opportunity, they will curse us for what we have done to them.</p> </blockquote> <p><u><strong>So can we really call ourselves the &ldquo;home of the brave and the land of the free&rdquo;?</strong></u></p> <p><u><strong>Isn&rsquo;t the truth that the vast majority of us are actually deeply enslaved?</strong></u></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="678" height="516" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Barack Obama Google National Debt Reality Sun, 01 Mar 2015 03:30:21 +0000 Tyler Durden 502659 at Meet Linebarger - The Government's Biggest Private Debt Collector <p><strong>Collecting debt is a dirty business which is why The Federal Government turns it over to the private sector. </strong>Meet one of the biggest players in the industry, law firm Linebarger Goggan Blair &amp; Sampson. It has worked for small-town school districts, the city of New York and at one point, the largest tax collector in the country: the Internal Revenue Service. <a href="">As CNN reports,</a> based in Texas, <strong>Linebarger works for 2,300 clients nationwide and collects $1 billion for its clients each year</strong>. But the collection system is far from perfect, leading to some nightmare scenarios. <em>Despite decades of scandals over the way the firm gets business (and even jail time for one of its top executives) Linebarger still lands lucrative government contracts</em>...</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><em>As CNN Money reports, </em></a>Government agencies across the country are hiring private debt collectors to go after millions of Americans over unpaid taxes, ancient parking tickets and even $1 tolls...</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>It&rsquo;s a good deal for cash-strapped states, cities and other local governments. By outsourcing this dirty work and letting private companies charge debtors sky-high fees, government agencies can get these collection services free of charge.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And it&#39;s a great deal for debt collectors. <strong><u>In an industry already known for bad behavior, debt collectors that work for government agencies usually don&rsquo;t have to work within the confines of consumer protection laws</u></strong> &ndash; opening the door for higher fees and even more aggressive tactics.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><u><strong>Their government bosses can give them the power to threaten debtors with the suspension of their driver&rsquo;s license, garnishment of their wages, foreclosure and arrest to get them to pay up.</strong></u></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>State lawmakers have even passed laws allowing private collectors to charge debtors steep fees.</strong> In Florida, for example, fees can be as high as 40% on top of the total bill, which includes not only what they already owe, but interest and government penalties as well. In Texas, they can reach 30%. And in cases of unpaid toll violations, flat fees can effectively amount to more than 100%.<strong> As a result, small unpaid tolls can easily balloon into hundreds of dollars, once government penalties and collection fees are tacked on.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&quot;They keep figuring out ways to stack these fees up,&rdquo;</strong> said Tai Vokins, a Kansas-based attorney and former assistant attorney general.<strong> &ldquo;They&rsquo;re preying on the absolute poorest people.&quot;</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><u><strong>And this is all legal.</strong></u></p> </blockquote> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *<br /><u><strong>True Stories...</strong></u></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 1529px;" /></a></p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p>One of the biggest players in this industry is law firm Linebarger Goggan Blair &amp; Sampson. Based in Texas, Linebarger works for 2,300 clients nationwide and collects $1 billion for its clients each year.</p> <p><strong>Despite decades of scandals and bad press surrounding the firm and its partners, Linebarger continues to wield widespread political influence and rake in new million-dollar contracts.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>The scandals date back to its early days, when firm partners became infamous for using political connections to win contracts and change laws. Past controversies ranged from allegations of illegal loans to public officials to inappropriately influencing lawmakers, including a controversial Mexican getaway with a Texas Speaker of the House that reportedly involved a topless dancer.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Some critics thought the firm could even face extinction in 2002 after a major partner, Juan Pena, was indicted on charges that he bribed two city councilmen with more than $10,000.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pena eventually pleaded guilty to bribery charges, lost his law license and was sentenced to 30 months behind bars. He did not respond to requests for comment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Yet the scandals have continued.</strong> Take Chicago, for example, where Linebarger&#39;s contract was terminated in 2008 because the firm had paid for the trip of a top city official. The bad blood didn&rsquo;t last long though, with the city hiring it again in the same year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;The incident ... was embarrassing to say the least, but we worked very hard to earn another chance to represent the City,&quot; said Vallandingham.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile in Memphis, attorneys in a class-action lawsuit challenging the firm&rsquo;s fees questioned Linebarger&rsquo;s payment of millions of dollars to a local attorney who helped it win the city contract to collect taxes. After the lawsuit was filed, Memphis ended its relationship with the firm.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And in Texas, a partner was indicted in 2012 for covering up donations to a local elected official and his case remains ongoing. More recently, two Linebarger consultants have been at the center of alleged bribery schemes -- one of which is heading to trial and another that is still under investigation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Linebarger says the firm itself has never been charged with committing a crime</strong> and the actions of a few individuals aren&#39;t representative of its overall business practices. But one former Linebarger partner, who asked to remain anonymous, said some of the firm&#39;s tactics for getting contracts made him uncomfortable and didn&#39;t always &quot;pass the smell test.&quot;</p> </blockquote> <p><u><strong>So how does Linebarger keep getting new business?</strong></u></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>The firm touts its longstanding work in the field saying: &quot;we are hired and rehired because we are good at what we do.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>...</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>But others say it&#39;s all about the money.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Linebarger spends millions on campaigns and lobbying efforts across the country.</strong> And it pays big bucks to influential current Texas public officials by putting them on its payroll -- a surprising but legal practice.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><u><strong>&quot;They&rsquo;ve discovered a niche that they can monopolize through political manipulation,&quot; said Byron Schlomach, a former fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. &quot;And they&rsquo;ve become very good at it.&quot;</strong></u></p> </blockquote> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *<br /><strong>Linebarger&#39;s reach is growing...</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 388px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Linebarger says it undertakes all of its political activities with &quot;strict adherence to the law.&quot; ... <strong>&quot;The way you get access is you contribute to political campaigns, you go to fundraisers ... You make friends with these people,&quot;</strong> he said.</p> </blockquote> <p>But even if all of the politicians and government agencies end their love affair with Linebarger, there are other private collectors that would be happy to take its place. What is really needed, consumer advocates say, is an end to the special treatment given to government debt collectors.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><u><strong>Until then, millions of Americans are left facing ominous threats and steep fees each year.</strong></u></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><u><strong>&quot;They&#39;re bottom feeders; that&#39;s what they are,&quot; said Tom, the Oklahoma tax attorney. &quot;The problem is they&#39;re bottom feeders with the power of the government behind them.&quot;</strong></u></p> </blockquote> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="718" height="464" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Consumer protection Florida Oklahoma Sun, 01 Mar 2015 02:45:55 +0000 Tyler Durden 502658 at Breaking Bad (Debt) - Episode One <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog</em></a>,</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>&ldquo;At this juncture, the impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the subprime market seems likely to be contained.&rdquo;</em> &ndash; <strong>Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, Congressional testimony, March, 2007</strong></p> <p><img alt="" class="aligncenter" height="291" src="" width="440" /></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>&ldquo;Capitalism without financial failure is not capitalism at all, but a kind of socialism for the rich.&rdquo;</em> &ndash; <strong>James Grant, Grant&rsquo;s Interest Rate Observer</strong></p> <p><strong>The Federal Reserve issued their fourth quarter <a href="">Report on Household Debt and Credit</a> last week to the sounds of silence in the mainstream media. </strong>There were minor press releases issued by the &ldquo;professional&rdquo; financial journalists regurgitating the Federal Reserve&rsquo;s storyline. Actual analysis, connecting the dots, describing how the massive issuance of student loan and auto loan debt has produced a fake economic recovery, and how the accelerating default rates in auto loans and student loans will produce the next subprime debt implosion, were nowhere to be seen on CNBC, Bloomberg, the WSJ, or any other status quo propaganda media outlet. Their job is not to analyze or seek truth. Their job is to keep their government patrons and Wall Street advertisers happy, while keeping the masses sedated, misinformed, and pliable.</p> <p><strong>Luckily, the government hasn&rsquo;t gained complete control over the internet yet, so dozens of truth telling blogs have done a phenomenal job zeroing in on the surge in defaults.</strong> The data in the report tells a multitude of tales conflicting with the &ldquo;official story&rdquo; sold to the public. The austerity storyline, economic recovery storyline, housing recovery storyline, and strong auto market storyline are all revealed to be fraudulent by the data in the report. Total household debt grew by $117 billion in the fourth quarter and $306 billion for the all of 2014. Non-housing debt in the 4<sup>th</sup> quarter of 2008, just as the last subprime debt created financial implosion began, was $2.71 trillion. After six years of supposed consumer austerity, total non-housing debt stands at a record $3.15 trillion. This is after hundreds of billions of the $2.71 trillion were written off and foisted upon the backs of taxpayers, by the Wall Street banks and their puppets at the Federal Reserve.</p> <p><img alt="" class="aligncenter" src="" style="width: 599px; height: 362px;" /></p> <p>The corporate media talking heads cheer every increase in consumer debt as proof of economic recovery. In reality every increase in consumer debt is just another step towards another far worse economic breakdown. And the reason is simple. Real median household income is still below 1989 levels. The average American family hasn&rsquo;t seen their income go up in 25 years. What they did see was their chains of debt get unbearably heavy. Non-housing consumer debt (credit card, auto, student loan, other) was $800 billion in 1989.</p> <p>The 300% increase in consumer debt, while incomes stagnated, has created a zombie nation of debt slaves. And this doesn&rsquo;t even take into account the quadrupling of mortgage debt from $2.2 trillion in 1989 to $8.7 trillion today. This isn&rsquo;t Twelve Years a Slave; it&rsquo;s Debt Slaves for Eternity. And who benefits? The Wall Street bankers, .1% oligarchs, and corporate fascists pulling the levers of government and society benefit. An economic and jobs recovery for working Americans is nowhere to be seen in the chart below.</p> <p><img alt="" class="aligncenter" src=";h=531" style="width: 600px; height: 402px;" /></p> <p>Total debt on the balance sheet of American consumers (formerly known as citizens) now tops $11.8 trillion, up from the $11.1 trillion trough in 2013. The peak was &ldquo;achieved&rdquo; in a frenzy of $0 down McMansion buying, Lexus leasing, and Home Equity ATM extraction in 2008, when the total reached $12.7 trillion. The $1.6 trillion decline from peak insanity had nothing to do with austerity or Americans reigning in their debt financed lifestyles.</p> <p>The Wall Street banks took the $700 billion of taxpayer funded TARP, sold their worthless mortgage paper to the Fed, suckled on the Fed&rsquo;s QE and ZIRP, and wrote off the $1.6 trillion. Wall Street didn&rsquo;t miss a beat, while Main Street got treated like skeet during a shooting competition. Every solution proposed and implemented since September 2008 had the sole purpose of benefitting the criminals on Wall Street who perpetrated the largest financial heist in world history. The slogan should have been <strong>Bankers Saving Bankers Since 1913</strong>.</p> <p><img alt="fedcinsdebt" class="aligncenter wp-image-40047" src=";h=413" style="width: 601px; height: 424px;" /></p> <p><u><strong>The average American benefited in no way from the government/banker bailout.</strong></u> Their wages have deteriorated, their daily living expenses have risen, Obamacare has resulted in higher healthcare premiums, higher co-pays, more part-time jobs, less full-time jobs, and less healthcare choices for the working class, while Wall Street generates billions in risk free profits, bankers and corporate executives reap massive million dollar bonuses, and the .1% parties like its 1999.<strong> Rising wealth inequality has been systematically programmed into our economic system by bankers and their bought off puppet politicians in Washington D.C. &ndash; Corporate fascism at its finest.</strong></p> <p>The lack of real economic recovery for the average American has been purposely masked through the issuance of $500 billion of subprime student loan debt and $200 billion of auto loan debt (much of it subprime) since 2010 by the Federal government and their co-conspirators on Wall Street.</p> <p><img alt="" class="aligncenter" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 354px;" /></p> <p>The issuance of debt by the government to people not financially able to repay that debt, in order to generate economic activity and boost GDP is nothing more than fraudulent inducement using taxpayer funds. Debt financed purchases is not wealth. Debt financed consumption does not boost the wealth of the nation. If adding debt produced economic advancement, why has the number of Americans on food stamps escalated from 33 million in 2009 to 46 million today during a five year economic recovery? Why have 10 million Americans left the labor force since 2009, pushing the labor participation rate to 30 year lows, during a jobs recovery?</p> <p>Why have social benefits distributed by the Federal government surged by $2.5 trillion since 2012, reaching a record high of 20.8% of real disposable income? It resides 33% above 2007 levels and still above levels during the depths of the recession in 2009. But at least the stock market hits record highs on a daily basis, creating joy in NYC penthouse suites and Hamptons ocean front estates. American dream for the .1% achieved.</p> <p><img alt="Social-Benefits-Percent-DPI-022315" class="i_want_img5 aligncenter" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 469px;" /></p> <h2><u>Does this look like Recovery?</u></h2> <p>When you actually dig into the 31 page Federal Reserve produced report, anyone with a few functioning brain cells (this eliminates all CNBC bimbos, shills, and cheerleaders), can see our current economic paradigm is far from normal and an economic recovery has not materialized. Record stock market prices and corporate profits have not trickled down to Main Street. Janet, don&rsquo;t piss down my back and tell me it&rsquo;s raining (credit to Fletcher in Outlaw Josey Wales). The mainstream media spin fails to mention that $706 billion of consumer debt is currently delinquent. That is 6% of all consumer debt.</p> <p>Could the Wall Street banks withstand that level of losses with their highly leveraged insolvent balance sheets? The number of foreclosures and consumer bankruptcies rose in the fourth quarter versus the third quarter. Does this happen during an economic recovery? Donghoon Lee, research officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, may be looking for a new job soon. When a Federal Reserve lackey actually admits to being worried, you know things are about to get very bad very fast.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>&ldquo;Although we&rsquo;ve seen an overall improvement in delinquency rates since the Great Recession, the increasing trend in student loan balances and delinquencies is concerning. Student loan delinquencies and repayment problems appear to be reducing borrowers&rsquo; ability to form their own households.&rdquo;</em></p> <p>And he didn&rsquo;t even mention the increase in auto loan delinquencies which will eventually morph into a landslide of bad debt write-offs, repossessions, and Wall Street bankers demanding another bailout. The pure data in the Fed report doesn&rsquo;t tell the true story. The $306 billion increase in outstanding debt only represents a 2.7% annual increase. And even though mortgage debt increased by $121 billion, it was on a base of $8.17 trillion. That is a miniscule 1.5% increase. A critical thinking individual might wonder how national home prices could rise by 25% since the beginning of 2012, while mortgage debt outstanding has fallen by $220 billion over this same time frame, and mortgage originations are hovering at 1997 levels.</p> <p><img alt="mortorigsq42014" class="aligncenter wp-image-39429" src=";h=419" style="width: 600px; height: 430px;" /></p> <p>It couldn&rsquo;t have been the Wall Street/Fed/Treasury Dept. withhold foreclosures from the market, sell to hedge funds and convert to rental units, and screw the first time home buyer scheme to super charge Wall Street profits and artificially boost home prices. Could it? New home sales prices and new home sales were tightly correlated from 1990 through 2006. Then the bottom fell out in 2006 and new homes sales crashed. Nine years later new home sales still linger at 1991 recession levels. New home sales are 65% lower than they were in 2005, but median prices are 20% higher. This is utterly ridiculous.</p> <p>If prices had fallen to the $100,000 to $150,000 level, based on the historical correlation, first time home buyers would be buying hand over foot. But the Federal Reserve, their Wall Street owners, connected hedge funds, and the Federal government has created an artificial price bubble with 0% interest rates and trillions of QE heroin. The 1% can still afford to buy overpriced McMansions, but the young are left saddled with student loan debt, low paying service jobs, and no chance at ever owning a home.</p> <p><img alt="" class="aligncenter" src="" style="width: 601px; height: 428px;" /></p> <p>The chart that puts this economic recovery in perspective is their 90+ days delinquent by loan type. If you haven&rsquo;t made a payment in 90 days or more, the odds are you aren&rsquo;t going to pay. The Fed and the ever positive corporate media, who rely on advertising revenue from Wall Street, the auto industry, and the government, go to any lengths to spin awful data into gold. Their current storyline is to compare delinquency levels to the levels in 2009 at the height of the worst recession since the 1930s. Mortgage delinquencies have fallen from 8.9% in 2010 to 3.2% today (amazing what writing off $1 trillion of bad mortgages can achieve), but they are three times higher than the 1% average before the financial meltdown. Is that a return to normalcy? Home equity lines of credit had delinquency rates of 0.2% prior to the 2008 meltdown. Today they sit at 3.2%, only sixteen times higher than before the crisis. Is that a return to normalcy? Do these facts scream &ldquo;housing recovery&rdquo;?</p> <p><img alt="" class="aligncenter" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 428px;" /></p> <p>The outlier on the chart is credit card delinquencies. The normal, pre-crisis level hovered between 9% and 10%. Banks can handle that level when they are charging 18% interest while borrowing at .25% interest. During the Wall Street created recession, delinquencies spiked to 13.7%, but after writing off about $150 billion of bad debt and closing 100 million credit card accounts, delinquencies miraculously began to plunge. Delinquencies have plunged to 7.3% as credit card debt still sits $170 billion below the 2008 peak. This is a reflection of Americans depending on their credit cards to survive their everyday existence.</p> <p>With stagnant real wages and household income 7% below 2008 levels, the average family is using their credit cards to pay for food, energy, clothing, utilities, taxes, and medical expenses. They are making the minimum payments and staying current on their payment obligations because their credit cards are the only thing keeping them from having to live in a cardboard box. A survey this week revealed 37% of Americans have credit card debt that equals or is greater than their emergency savings, leaving them &ldquo;teetering on the edge of financial disaster.&rdquo; Greg McBride,;s chief financial analyst sums up the situation:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>&ldquo;Not only do most of them not have enough savings, they&rsquo;ve all used up some portion of their available credit &mdash; they are running out of options</em><em>. </em><em>People don&rsquo;t have enough money for unplanned expenses, and if they have more credit card debt than emergency savings, it&rsquo;s a double whammy</em><em>. </em><em>In the event of unplanned expenses, their options are limited.&rdquo;</em></p> <p>Who doesn&rsquo;t have an unplanned expense multiple times in a year? A major car repair, appliance repair, hot water heater failure, or a medical issue is utterly predictable and most people are unprepared to financially deal with them. As many people found in 2009, credit card lines can be reduced in the blink of an eye by the Wall Street banks. This potential for financial disaster is why Americans are doing everything they can to stay current on their credit card payments. That brings us to the Federal Reserve/Federal Government created mal-investment subprime boom 2.0, which is in the early stages of going bust.</p> <p>I&rsquo;ll address the Subprime bust 2.0 in part two of this article.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="343" height="232" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bank of New York Ben Bernanke Ben Bernanke Consumer Bankruptcies default Federal Reserve Federal Reserve Bank Federal Reserve Bank of New York Foreclosures Home Equity Main Street Meltdown New Home Sales Obamacare Reality Recession recovery Student Loans TARP Testimony Washington D.C. Sun, 01 Mar 2015 02:00:34 +0000 Tyler Durden 502656 at More Giant Craters Appear In Siberia, Scientists Nervous To Investigate <p>In the middle of last summer came news of a bizarre occurrence no one could explain.<strong> Seemingly out of nowhere, a massive crater appeared in one of the planet&#39;s most inhospitable lands.</strong> Early estimates said the crater, nestled in a land called &quot;the ends of the Earth&quot; where temperatures can sink far below zero, yawned nearly 30 metres in diameter.</p> <p><em>One of the craters in Siberia&#39;s so-called &quot;ends of the earth&quot;</em></p> <p><a href=""><img height="360" src="" width="560" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><img height="747" src="" width="560" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><img height="839" src="" width="560" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The saga deepened. The Siberian crater wasn&#39;t alone.</strong> There were two more, ratcheting up the tension in a drama that hit its climax as a probable explanation surfaced. Climate change had thawed the permafrost, which had caused methane trapped inside the icy ground to explode. &quot;Gas pressure increased until it was high enough to push away the overlaying layers in a powerful injection, forming the crater,&quot; one German scientist said at the time.</p> <p><em>Video of the craters...</em></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p>Now, however, as <a href="">The Sydney Morning herald reports,</a> researchers fear there are more craters than anyone knew &mdash; and the repercussions could be huge...</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Russian scientists have now <strong>spotted a total of seven craters,</strong> five of which are in the Yamal Peninsula. Two of those holes have since turned into lakes. And one giant crater is rimmed by a ring of<strong> at least 20 mini-craters, </strong>the Siberian Times reported. Dozens more Siberian craters are likely still out there, said Moscow scientist Vasily Bogoyavlensky of the Oil and Gas Research Institute, calling for an &quot;urgent&quot; investigation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>He fears that if temperatures continue to rise &mdash; and they were five degrees higher than average in 2012 and 2013 &mdash; more craters will emerge in an area awash in gas fields vital to the national economy.</strong> <strong><u>&quot;It is important not to scare people, but to understand that it is a very serious problem and we must research this,&quot; he told the Siberian Times. &quot;We must research this phenomenon urgently, to prevent possible disasters.&quot;</u></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>...</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>These objects need to be studied, but it is rather dangerous for the researchers,&quot; </strong>Bogoyavlensky told the Siberian Times. &quot;We know that there can occur a series of gas emissions over an extended period of time, but we do not know exactly when they might happen. ... It is very risky, because no one can guarantee there would not be new emissions.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Making matters worse, the gas is extremely flammable.</strong> One of the methane bursts has already caught fire. Nearby residents in a town called Antipayuta say they recently saw a bright flash in the distance. &quot;Probably the gas ignited,&quot; Bogoyavlensky said. &quot;This shows us that such [an] explosion could be rather dangerous and destructive. <strong>Years of experience has shown that gas emissions can cause serious damage to drilling rigs, oil and gas fields and offshore pipelines.&quot;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>When the news first broke last year, social media users pointed to everything from a meteorite to a stray missile to aliens to the Bermuda Triangle as possible causes. But the most plausible explanation seemed to be the explosive release of melting methane hydrate&mdash;an ice-like material frozen in the Arctic ground&mdash;thanks to global warming. But, as National Geographic reports, other theories are coming to light...</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Now,<strong> scientists are arguing that the methane theory is unlikely,</strong> based on new satellite surveys released by Russian researchers that found dozens of new craters in Siberia.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&quot;The jury is still out&quot; on the cause of Siberia&#39;s craters,</strong> says Carolyn Ruppel, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey&#39;s Gas Hydrates Project. But she and other scientists say the<strong> new satellite mapping suggests another explanation that has to do with the rapid melting of ice cores called pingos.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A pingo is a plug of ice that forms near the surface over time and has a small mound or hill on top.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When an ice plug melts rapidly&mdash;as many have been, thanks to unseasonably warm temperatures in Siberia over the past year&mdash;it can cause part of the ground to collapse, forming a crater. But that process alone isn&#39;t enough to explain the ejected rocks that have been found around the rim of the craters, which suggest some sort of explosion.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Instead, Ruppel theorizes that the craters were formed by a <strong>sudden release of natural gas that had been stored in the permafrost but was kept under pressure by the weight of the pingo.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This theory is bolstered by the Russian satellite data, which show pingos&mdash;they appear as small mounds&mdash;in the exact positions where the craters later formed.</p> </blockquote> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *<br />So in conclusion - &quot;No one knows what is happening in these craters at the moment.&quot;</p> Frontrunner Global Warming Natural Gas Sun, 01 Mar 2015 01:30:39 +0000 Tyler Durden 502648 at 1987 Or 2015? The Gap Between Growth Expectations & Valuations Is "Ridiculous" <p>While the divergence between <em>macro data 'dismalness'</em> and equity price exuberance is by now well known, there is a greater threat looming to the rampapalooza that is underway. As forward Price-to-Earnings ratios have soared in the last year (<a href=""><em>aided and abetted - as Alan Greenspan explained - solely by The Fed's largesse</em></a>) so bottom-up earnings growth expectations have cratered. So much so that veteran stock market investors and traders now see the <strong>divergence between multiple 'hope' and growth 'reality' as "ridiculous."</strong> Just how ridiculous? Worse than 1987, 2002, and 2011, when stocks fell over 20% upon realization of reality.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>"Ridiculous"</strong></span></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="402" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>1987 - down over 30%</li> <li>2002 - down over 30%</li> <li>2011 - down over 20%</li> </ul> <p>Just how ridiculous?</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="490" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>2015 - who knows?</strong></span></p> <p><em>h/t @Not_Jim_Cramer</em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="796" height="533" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Alan Greenspan Jim Cramer Reality Sun, 01 Mar 2015 01:15:27 +0000 Tyler Durden 502650 at STiNKiN BuLLeTS... <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="" width="1024" height="779" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p> . </p> <p style="text-align: center;">BLOOMBERG NEWS (April 2014)--- On April 14, reported that the USPS was seeking to buy a large amount of ammunition on the heels of similar purchases by the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. </p> <p style="text-align: center;">This alarmed some people whom Newsmax described as “second amendment advocates.”</p> <p>One was Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League. “The problem is, all these agencies have their own SWAT teams, their own police departments, which is crazy,” he told the website. “Do we really need this? That was something our Founding Fathers did not like and we should all be concerned about.”</p> Bloomberg News Sun, 01 Mar 2015 01:11:55 +0000 williambanzai7 502669 at "Massive Mis-Governance" - Q4 Obliterates The Case For QE And ZIRP <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by David Stockman via Contra Corner blog</em></a>,</p> <p><strong>The most important number in today&rsquo;s Q4 GDP update was 2.3%.</strong>&nbsp;That&rsquo;s the year/year change in real final sales from Q4 2013. As an analytical matter it means that the Great Slog continues with no sign of acceleration whatsoever.</p> <p><em><strong>Indeed, the statistical truth of&nbsp;the matter is that&nbsp;this year&rsquo;s result amounted to a slight&nbsp;deceleration&mdash;&ndash;since the Y/Y gain in real final sales for Q4 2013 was 2.6%.&nbsp;</strong> </em>But beyond the decimal point variation the larger point is this:&nbsp;Take out the somewhat jerky quarterly impacts of inventory stocking and destocking, and view things on a year/year basis to eliminate seasonal maladjustments and data collection and timing&nbsp;quirks, such as the double digit gain in defense spending during Q3 and the negative rate for Q4, and what you get is a straight line slog since the recession ended in&nbsp;2009.</p> <p>Thus,&nbsp;the year/year&nbsp;gain in real final sales for Q4 2012&nbsp;was 2.1%; and&nbsp;was 1.5% and 2.0% for the years ended in Q4 2011&nbsp;and 2010, respectively.&nbsp;Its a 2% world. Period.</p> <p><strong>The questions thus recurs as to&nbsp;what in the world the Fed&rsquo;s massive money printing spree had to do with this tepid performance.&nbsp; The answer is nothing at all, and that&nbsp;&ldquo;tepid&rdquo; and &ldquo;slog&rdquo; are exactly the right words to characterize these numbers. </strong>After all, the plunge in GDP during 2008 and the first half of 2009 was the deepest since WW II. By all prior norms, therefore, the bounce back should have been exceptionally strong.</p> <p>For instance, real final sales dropped by 3% during the Great Recession&mdash;&ndash;far more than the 1.1% decline during the deepest prior post-war downturn&nbsp;of 1981-1982.&nbsp; However, during the next five years of rebound, real final sales grew by 26% or nearly 4.7% per year.&nbsp; <em><strong>That&rsquo;s more than&nbsp;triple the&nbsp;8% cumulative rebound from a far deeper hole in June 2009.</strong></em></p> <p><u><strong>So the case for the&nbsp;Fed&rsquo;s massive money printing campaign has now been flat-out obliterated.</strong></u> As I documented in the Great Deformation, the short but deep recession of 2008-2009 represented a sharp liquidation of excess inventories and labor that had built up in the main street economy during the Greenspan-Bernanke housing and subprime&nbsp;credit bubble. But that one-time liquidation was over by June 2009; the economy was not sinking into a black hole.</p> <div class="ad-inserter ad-inserter-1" style="float:right;margin:8px 0px 8px 8px;"> <div style="float: right;"><img alt="" border="0" height="1" src=";l=as2&amp;o=1&amp;a=1586489127" style="border: none !important; margin-left: 6px !important;" width="1" /></div> </div> <p>Moreover, by the time the US economy began to rebound in mid 2009, the real cause was the natural regenerative power of the&nbsp;capitalist market&mdash;not the massive money printing&nbsp;campaign that Bernanke had&nbsp;launched at the time of the Lehman failure in September 2008.&nbsp;<strong> All of the massive liquidity&mdash;-which took the Fed&rsquo;s balance&nbsp;sheet from $900 billion to $2.5 trillion in less than a year&mdash;&ndash;worked it magic in the canyons of Wall Street, not&nbsp;in the household and business sectors of the main street economy.</strong></p> <p><strong>The fact is, the only channel through which the Fed can impact the main street economy is through credit expansion. </strong>Yet business and household credit outstanding was still shrinking long after the recession ended. The 2% slog that began thereafter had nothing to do with the machinations of the Fed; its represented the return of&nbsp;a steady, modest increment of labor&nbsp;hours and productivity growth to the market economy.</p> <p><strong>But here&rsquo;s the thing. The 5X gain in the Fed&rsquo;s balance sheet since 2009 has not been harmless&mdash;&mdash;even though it has not stimulated the main street economy.&nbsp; What is has done, obviously, is reflate a massive financial bubble.</strong> The latter will splatter eventually, sending the main street economy into a new tailspin of short-term labor and inventory liquidation and another financial crisis for no reason whatsoever.</p> <p>Indeed, the monetary politburo is stuck in a dangerous time warp. Not recognizing that the credit channel of monetary transmission&nbsp;is broken and done, they keep money market rates pinned to the zero bound because they claim to detect no acceleration of consumer price inflation on the immediate horizon.</p> <p>So what!&nbsp;<strong><u> Do not these clueless Keynesian apparatchiks recognize that&nbsp;the&nbsp; money market rate and the yield curve are the most important prices in all of capitalism</u></strong>, and that their policy of massive and continuous financial repression generates blatantly false prices in the financial markets and therefore&nbsp;rampant speculation and asset price inflation?</p> <p><strong>Needless to say, another quarter of no &ldquo;escape velocity&rdquo; on main street and a further round&nbsp;of&nbsp;Kool Aid drinker speculation on Wall Street takes us just that much closer to the brink. </strong>Yet the Fed remains oblivious and continues to manufacture excuses and equivocations as to why ZIRP should extend into its 80th month and beyond.</p> <p><strong>This is&nbsp;mis-governance on a colossal scale.&nbsp;</strong>So when the next thundering crash occurs&mdash;-it is devoutly to be hoped that &ldquo;audit the Fed&rdquo; turns out to be the least of the threats descending on the Eccles Building.</p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Wall Street vs Main Street</strong></span></p> <p><a href=""><img height="329" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="595" height="291" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Lehman Main Street Recession Yield Curve Sun, 01 Mar 2015 00:30:01 +0000 Tyler Durden 502654 at Caught On Tape: The Moment Boris Nemtsov Was Assassinated <p>As the world contemplates the various 'provocation' scenarios - <strong>a Russian act, a CIA act meant to look like a Russian act, or a Russian act meant to look like a CIA act?</strong> - <strong>the following clip suggests this was anything but an ad hoc shooting...</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="568" height="344" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The narrator suggests, as Nemtsov and his companion are walking along the road, a garbage truck (or cleaning vehicle) is behind them. When the garbage truck comes alongside the couple, it slows down, then moves ahead, then stops... and another man leaves the vehicle and jumps in a following car, which speeds away with tires smoking...</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe src="" width="480" height="360" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p><a href="">As Ukraineatwar blog concludes,</a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>The video seems to be real, because the location EXACTLY fits the know murder spot. It does not seem likely that such a video could have been prepared in advance.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The murder EXACTLY takes place when the cleaning vehicle passes by. It is absolutely unclear where the assassin come from. Nobody can be seen walking towards or behind Nemtsov and his companion. Neither can somebody be seen walking to that specific spot to wait for them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Therefore<strong> it seems very likely that the cleaning vehicle has something to do with it and the assassin could have traveled with the vehicle.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Since Nemtsov was shot from behind and the cleaning vehicle already caught up with them when the murder took place, it does not seem likely that the assassin traveled on the passenger seat next to the driver.</strong> He had to open and close the door and that may have drawn their attention. It seems likely that he had traveled on the back of the car. He could easily jump on and off and could also estimate if there were other people to close to them to do the operation at all at that moment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Using a cleaning vehicle gives a lot of advantage: you can drive slowly, draw no attention, wait if necessary and thus pick exactly the right moment (with no other people nearby).</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It does seem like the assassin had been following the couple already when he jumped on the vehicle. They may have crossed the road where the cleaning car was waiting. After seeing them pass by, it started entering the bridge. When they passed the assassin, he jumped on. In this way they could be sure that they had the right person AND they could pick the right moment without running to catch them up.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>All the getaway car had to do was to wait until the cleaning vehicle got on the bridge, see the hit man jumped on and then get to follow from a distance to slowly catch up.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>It all does look like a REALLY WELL orchestrated operation.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Totally weird is that there is no traffic at all behind them.</strong></span> Such a moment is very hard to pick, especially when you can see that there are many cars before the assassination moment. Right after the car picks up the assassin, new cars start arriving again. This indicates there had been<strong> some 'orchestration' here too. Either traffic lights had been red on all fronts or traffic had been halted in another way.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p>Of course - while this seems very coordinated - one might question the fact that surely they would be aware that cameras would be everywhere?</p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; * </p> <p>Questions remain, but Soviet ex-President Mikail Gorbachev is sure, the assassination of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov as an attempt to destabilize Russia. <a href="">As Sputnik News reports</a>,</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>"The assassination of Boris Nemtsov is an<strong> attempt to complicate the situation in the country, even to destabilize it by ratcheting up tensions between the government and the opposition</strong>,” Gorbachev said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>“Just who did this is hard to say, let’s not jump to any conclusions right now and give the investigators time to sort this all out,”</strong> he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Gorbachev did not rule out that the high-profile murder could encourage some people to urge the authorities to introduce <strong>a state of emergency, which he said would only exacerbate what is already a difficult situation</strong>.</p> </blockquote> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="568" height="344" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Sun, 01 Mar 2015 00:09:39 +0000 Tyler Durden 502668 at Gorbachev: Murder of Opposition Leader Was a False Flag <p>Sniper attacks are commonly used as a form of false flag terror.</p> <p>Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev <a href="" target="_blank" title="says">says</a> the the killing is aimed at &ldquo;destabilizing the situation in the country, at heightening confrontation&rdquo; with the West.</p> <p>Gorbachev <a href="" target="_blank" title="says">says</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>The assassination of&nbsp;Boris Nemtsov is an attempt to&nbsp;complicate the situation in&nbsp;the country, even to&nbsp;destabilize it by&nbsp;ratcheting up&nbsp;tensions between&nbsp;the government and the opposition.</p> </blockquote> <p>The Saker notes that Putin <a href="" target="_blank" title="warned years ago">warned years ago</a> that a false flag of this nature might occur.</p> <p>Michael Rivero <a href="" target="_blank" title="notes">notes</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Another reason to doubt the &ldquo;Blame Putin&rdquo; chorus we are already seeing in the corporate media is the manner in which the shooting took place, in public, in front of the girlfriend, to generate the maximum publicity. If Putin had really wanted to kill this guy, it would have been a &ldquo;suicide&rdquo; in private or a small plane crash, the way the US Government handles assassinations.</p></blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2 class="entry-title"><a href="" rel="bookmark" title="Permalink to The Kiev Snipers: Everyone Agrees That They Fired On BOTH SIDES">The Kiev Snipers: Everyone Agrees That They Fired On BOTH SIDES</a></h2> <h3 style="color: #000099;">Sniper Attacks As False Flag Terror</h3> <p>Random shootings are a type of <a href="" title="false flag terror">false flag terror</a> &hellip;</p> <p>For example, in 1985 &ndash; as part of the <a href="" title="“Gladio” (11-21)">&ldquo;Gladio&rdquo; (11-21)</a> false flag operations &ndash;&nbsp; <a href="" target="_blank" title="snipers attacked and shot shoppers in supermarkets randoml">snipers attacked and shot shoppers in supermarkets randoml</a>y in Brabant county, Belgium killing twenty-eight and leaving many wounded.</p> <h3 style="color: #000099;">Both Sides?</h3> <p>Additionally, shooting <em>both sides</em> is a tip off that it may be a false flag.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Specifically, when authoritarian regimes want to break up protests, they might shoot <em>protesters</em>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Likewise, when violent protesters shoot <em>government employees</em>, they might be trying to overthrow the government.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But when secretive snipers kill <strong><em>both</em> </strong>protesters and the police, it is an indication of a <a href="" title="“false flag” attacks">&ldquo;false flag&rdquo; attacks</a> meant to sow chaos, anger, disgust and a lack of legitimacy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This has happened many times over the years. For example:</p> <ul> <li>Unknown snipers reportedly killed both <a href="" target="_blank" title="Venezuelan">Venezuelan</a> government <em>and</em> opposition protesters in the attempted 2002 coup</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Unknown snipers fired during <a href="" target="_blank" title="Thailand’s 2010 protests">Thailand&rsquo;s 2010 protests</a>, killing both police <em>and</em> protesters</li> </ul> <ul> <li>And see <a href="" target="_blank" title="this">this</a> and <a href="" target="_blank" title="this">this</a></li> </ul> <h3 style="color: #000099;">Snipers Fired At BOTH Police and Protesters In Ukraine</h3> <p>This happened during the Maidan protests which resulted in the overthrow of the Ukrainian government, as well.&nbsp; Indeed, the ruthless slaughter of people by snipers was the event which turned world opinion against the then-current Ukrainian Prime Minister, and&nbsp; resulted in him having to flee the country.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>BBC recently interviewed the head of the opposition&rsquo;s security forces at the time, who confirms that snipers were killing <strong><em>both</em> </strong>protesters and police:</p> <p>&nbsp;<iframe src="" width="790" height="444" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>The former Ukranian <em>government</em> security boss <a href="" target="_blank" title="said the same thing">said the same thing</a>.&nbsp; Specifically, he <a href="" target="_blank" title="said">said</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Former chief of Ukraine&rsquo;s Security Service has confirmed allegations that snipers who killed dozens of people during the violent unrest in Kiev operated from a building controlled by the opposition on Maidan square.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Shots that killed both civilians and police officers</strong> were fired from the Philharmonic Hall building in Ukraine&rsquo;s capital, former head of the Security Service of Ukraine Aleksandr Yakimenko told Russia 1 channel. The building was under full control of the opposition and particularly the so-called Commandant of Maidan self-defense Andrey Parubiy who after the coup was appointed as the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Yakimenko added.</p> </blockquote> <p>So <em><strong>both</strong> </em>the chief of the <em><strong>government&rsquo;s</strong></em> security forces and the head of the <em><strong>opposition&rsquo;s</strong></em> security forces said that the same snipers were killing both protesters and police.&nbsp; While they disagree about who the snipers were, they both agree that the snipers were attempting to sow chaos.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank" title="Similarly">Similarly</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p id="yui_3_9_1_1_1394344629160_1364">[Current Ukrainian Health Minister Oleh] Musiy, who spent more than two months organizing medical units on Maidan, said that on Feb. 20 roughly 40 civilians and <strong>protesters</strong> were brought with fatal bullet wounds to the makeshift hospital set up near the square. But he said <strong>medics also treated three police officers whose wounds were identical</strong>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p id="yui_3_9_1_1_1394344629160_1366">Forensic evidence, in particular the similarity of the bullet wounds, led him and others to conclude that snipers were targeting both sides of the standoff at Maidan &mdash; and that <strong>the shootings were intended to generate a wave of revulsion so strong that it would topple Yanukovych </strong>and also justify a Russian invasion.</p> </blockquote> <p>And the Estonian foreign minister &ndash; after visiting Ukraine &ndash; told the EU foreign affairs minister that the <a href="" title="deployed snipers to discredit the former government of Ukraine">Maidan opposition deployed the snipers &ndash; and fired on <strong><em>both</em></strong> the protesters and the police &ndash; to discredit the former government of Ukraine</a>.</p> <h3 style="color: #000099;">Was It Maidan Who Fired?</h3> <p>While the American media has proclaimed that the sniper fire was definitely from government forces, some of the above-cited sources dispute that claim.</p> <p>Additionally, BBC <a href="" target="_blank" title="reported">reported</a> at the time:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Reporting for Newsnight, Gabriel Gatehouse said he saw what looked like a <strong>protester</strong> shooting out of a window at the BBC&rsquo;s Kiev base, the Ukraine Hotel.</p> </blockquote> <p>And BBC recently <a href="" target="_blank" title="interviewed">interviewed</a> a Maidan <strong><em>protester</em> </strong>who admitted that he fired a sniper rifle at police from the Conservatory, and that he was guided by a military veteran within the Maidan resistance. Here are actual pictures a reporter took of Maidan snipers, recently published by BBC:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img alt="gunmen at Kiev Conservatory 20 February" class="center aligncenter" height="351" src="" width="624" /></p> <p>(There were reportedly at least 10 Maidan snipers firing from the Conservatory.)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Frankfurther Allgemein <a href=";sl=de&amp;u=;prev=search" target="_blank" title="reported">reported</a> last year that Maidan commander Volodymyr Parasjuk controlled the Conservatory at the time:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Volodymyr Parasjuk &ndash; the leader in &ldquo;self-defense units&rdquo; of the revolution who had called the night of Yanukovich&rsquo;s escape, on the stage of Maidan to storm the presidential residence one year ago.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the day of the massacre <strong>Parasjuk was staying with his unit in the colonnaded building of the Kiev Conservatory right at the Maidan</strong>. In the days before the death toll had risen, and the fighters grew the conviction alone with limited power as before will not be able to overthrow Yanukovych. &ldquo;<strong>There were at that time many guys who said you have to take the weapon and attack</strong>,&rdquo; said Parasjuk recalls. &ldquo;Many,&rdquo; he himself had since long ago it had firearms, often their officially registered <strong>hunting rifles</strong>.</p> </blockquote> <p>Tagesschau &ndash; a German national and international television news service produced by state-run Norddeutscher Rundfunk on behalf of the German public-service television network ARD &ndash; also <a href=";sl=de&amp;u=;prev=search" target="_blank" title="reported">reported</a> in 2014 that at least some of the sniper fire came from <strong><em>protesters</em></strong>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And there are other photographs of protesters with rifles, such as this one from Reuters:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img alt="Independence Square in Kiev February 20, 2014. (Reuters/Maks Levin)" class="aligncenter" height="442" src="" title="" width="787" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Reuters/Maks Levin</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>So the snipers might have been Maidan opposition forces shooting their own.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But &ndash; whoever the snipers were &ndash; the one thing that is clear is that they were shooting people from <strong><em>both</em> </strong>as part of a &ldquo;strategy of tension&rdquo; to create maximum chaos. This hints that it may ave been a <a href=";utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=ukraine-secretive-neo-nazi-military-organization-involved-in-euromaidan-snyper-shootings" target="_blank" title="highly-organized campaign">highly-organized campaign</a> of terror.</p> Belgium national security Reuters Ukraine Sat, 28 Feb 2015 23:53:58 +0000 George Washington 502667 at