In Collins’s fictional world known as Panem, a despotic government rules over all with a violent iron fist. There is a strict separation between the political class and the rest of the populace, with the latter working in slave-like conditions to support the former. Throughout Catching Fire, the subject of revolution is paramount. Stories such as the Hunger Games are wonderful things because they spark what conservative statesman Edmund Burke called the “moral imagination.” Whether viewers know it or not, the basic plot of the Hunger Games series is an appeal to the moral imagination that men should be free from working as servants to others. We may not be living hand-to-mouth while being forced to labor for thuggish overlords but the modern trend is clear: the political class is consuming more and more wealth-generating capital for themselves.
When the US government said the sequester would cripple its ability to single-handedly rule over the world, it wasn't kidding. Either that, or Joe Biden's Joint Strategic Plan to "curb" copyright infringement was just a case of very confused humor by the vice president gone badly wrong, and he meant to "encourage." Whatever the reason, the fact that the Obama administration was just busted with a $50 million case of software piracy involving none other than the US Army, is indicative that while the Bureau of Labor Statistics was adopting all the best features of the Chinese Department of Truth, the US government was busy copycatting China's respectful approach toward intellectual property. Yet what is even worse, is that the software that was pirated managed the US army's troop and supply movements: in other words, the US government relied on pirated software to prepare for and engage in eventual war.
Things are rapidly escalating between the land of rising sun and the sleeping dragon who has now fully woken up...
While moderate recovery in growth and inflation is BofAML's rates team's base case, there are numerous risks to that forecast. The risk of tapering is already quite well known and they suspect it may not result in the significant market-moving event many expect when it actually happens; however, the following downside and upside risks threaten BofAML's central scenarios for 2014 as well.
With Thanksgiving comes Black Friday and Cyber Monday, two of the biggest days for retail stocks each year. Thanksgiving isn't just an opportunity to gorge on turkey; it's also one of the most important weekends of the year for the retail sector. As much as 40% of American shopping occurs on the now infamous Black Friday and Cyber Monday – the first two business days that fall after Thanksgiving. But to complicate the matter, meteorologists are tracking an epic super-storm that is slowly working its way east, threatening to bring even more chaos to the holiday season. So who will win?
On America's day most famous for over-consumption, we thought a few minutes of quiet 'tryptophan-induced' contemplation of the state of our world would be useful. Infamous for his correct predictions of the great recession, Europe's demise, and the collapse of the US financial system (as well as profiting handsomely from being right), Dr. Michael Burry's infamous UCLA commencement speech has much to offer (especially considering Burry is making a come-back - Bill Fleckenstein style - at Scion Asset Management). In this "age of infinite distraction", the painful 'truthiness' of this brief speech stunningly summarizes the ominous truth facing most of the developed (and much of the emerging) world today: "when the entitled elect themselves, the party accelerates, and the brutal hangover is inevitable." A quarter-of-an-hour well spent from a self-described 'chicken-little' who was "just trying to figure it all out".
Despite the stock's renaissance (eerily reminiscent of Eastman Kodak), recent images of the crammed and disorganized racks at various JCPenney stores do little to conjure confidence that staff or management either know what they are doing - or give a shit... except for this clarifying quote...
"What one may misconstrue as clutter is merely a strategic effort to meet high customer demand," said Penney spokeswoman Daphne Avila.
Is that like saying, "one man's trash...?" It seems, for JCPenney that marketing and product placement come a weak second to a pit full of tangled clothes...
When Abenomics was unveiled in Japan upon the re-election of Shinzo Abe as prime minister in late 2012, it is safe to say that, having been mired in a 20-year deflationary spiral and with debt totaling 240% of GDP, Japan was nearing an endgame of sorts. Realizing just how late in the game he found himself, Abe promised to change all this, but in order to do so he needed to pursue a high-risk strategy with a low probability of success. The press (ever hungry for a new, catchy portmanteau word) dubbed it "Abenomics." Grant Williams, in his latest excellent letter prefers to call it "Avenomics": the economics of the hopeless. Bringing Kyle Bass' thesis up to date, Williams concludes, "say a prayer for Shinzo Abe, folks. For Avenomics to score, he's gonna need a miracle."
With delays, glitches, and broken promises plaguing the President's healthcare reform, it is perhaps surprising that the level of coverage among the mainstream media of the SNAFU - and more importantly its potential implications - is not higher. Of course, in each news cycle, Obamacare is mentioned, along with a soundbite of how it will all be fixed soon and it's only the website, but, as the following uncomfortable clip shows, there are notable and far-reaching implications (not the least of which is the progression to a part-time economy that we have so vociferously pointed out - explicitly here and anecdotally here) for Americans and the US economy as a whole.
With the "inmates in charge of the asylum" during this holiday shortened trading week it seemed to be an apropriate opportunity to share a virtual cornucopia of topics to consider while enjoying the delicious delicacies, and subsequent tryptophan induced comas, of a traditional Thanksgiving.
The top holder of Bitcoins is the unlikely named 1933phfhK3ZgFQNLGSDXvqCn32k2buXY8a with 111,111 units of the crypto-currency (up from 40,000 units in the summer of 2011) for a total value over $110 million. Perhaps most interesting is these 100 Bitcoin holders represent over 20% of the entire outstanding amount of the alternative currency.
The Fed is busy doing everything in its considerable power to get credit (that is, debt) growing again so that we can get back to what it considers to be “normal.” But the problem is that the recent past was not normal. For the Fed to achieve anything even close to the historical rate of credit growth, the dollar will have to lose a lot of value. This may in fact be the Fed’s grand plan, and it’s entirely about keeping the financial system primed with sufficient new credit to prevent it from imploding.
With the bulk of the US still sleeping on this day of giving thanks, it is perhaps ironic that the Brits have been pounding away at the USD driving GBPUSD to 2013 highs. S&P futures jerked higher on the European open and clung to those gains, extending yesterday's small green close to new record highs (+4.5 points). US Treasury futures sold off modestly then recovered back to unch as the USD slipped gently lower (even as JPY weakness continued). Gold and silver are up around 0.5% from yesterday's close.
For Shawndraka Mack, a 100% pay rise from her current $7.60 "would do just fine." While some employees turn to blood plasma donation, and most are on food stamps (and other benefits), the mother of two teenagers (on Medicaid) told Bloomberg Businessweek, “I love what I do, but I don’t want to work for nothing." Between the 40 hours a week she works and the benefits, Mack explains, “I work at McDonald’s and I can’t afford to eat there. It’s crazy.” Of course, McDonalds has 'tips' for surviving on their state-subsidized wages but once again, despite Harry Reid's extrapolated charts, the reality of raising the minimum wage is lost on most who never stop to think of where the 'money' comes from; and besides employees have little to no leverage as we explained here.