Guest Post: Welcome To The United States Of Orwell, Part 3: We Had To Destroy Democracy In Order To Save ItSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/28/2012 10:48 -0500
The dominant narrative of our so-called 'National Security State' seems to be: we were surprised by a treacherous, shadowy, sinister enemy and we have to set aside the niceties of democracy and civil liberties to combat this new and terrible foe. It's actually very simple: whatever the National Security State does anywhere on Earth is legal. Whatever action you take to protect your civil liberties is illegal. The State holds all the hammers, and you know what happens to raised nails.
Have you wondered what really drives consumer confidence? The answer is simple. Jobs. If consumers are to be confident about their future, they need to feel secure in the present and future employment. The chart shows (gold bar) the confidence gap, which is the difference between the present situation index and the future expectations index. The red and blue lines are the number of individuals surveyed who feel that jobs are currently hard to get or plentiful. When confidence is high, so are the number of people who feel that jobs are plentiful. This is generally because they are currently employed and feel like they could get another job if they wanted one. The opposite is true today. This gap between jobs being hard to get and plentiful has closed slightly in the last couple of years; however, we are a long way from getting back to levels that are more normally associated with recoveries.
This chart tells millions of stories. That’s right: since 1984 (surely an appropriate year) while the elderly have grown their wealth in nominal terms, the young are much worse off both in inflation-adjusted terms, as well as nominal terms (pretty hard to believe given that the money supply has expanded eightfold in the intervening years). So why are the elderly doing over fifty times better than the young when they were only doing ten times better before? There is enough money to keep the economy flowing so long as there are opportunities for people to make themselves useful in a way that pays. With the crushing burden of overregulation and the problem of barriers to entry, these opportunities are often restricted to large corporations. These issues of youth unemployment and growing inequality between the generations are critically important. Unemployed and poor swathes of youth have a habit of creating volatility in response to restricted economic opportunity.
Guest Post: Welcome to the United States of Orwell, Part 2: Law-Abiding Taxpayers Treated As CriminalsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/27/2012 09:40 -0500
Law-abiding taxpayers are treated like criminals while the criminal class of financiers and State apparatchiks are free to loot and pillage muppets and taxpayers alike. It's actually very simple: whatever the state or Federal government does to you, that's legal. Whatever action you take to protect your rights is illegal. In case you have any doubts about where our "leadership" is taking us, please review these Assorted quotes by Fascists or about Fascism.
Few men have a resume quite like Jon Corzine. Not only has Corzine served in the U.S. Senate and been governor of New Jersey, he has also been the CEO of Goldman Sachs and the recently imploded brokerage firm MF Global. The insider blood filtrated through cronyism and the endless squandering of the public dime flows heavily through his veins. When MF Global went belly up back in the fall, Corzine was finally revealed for the inept, overly connected bureaucrat he really is. Corruption seemingly follows the former Senator, Governor, and banker like shadows on a sunny day. Earlier this week, New Jersey was declared the least corruptible state in the union much to the surprise of, well, everyone. But as the great Jonathan Weil pointed out, the methodology in the study conducted by the Center for Public Integrity was horribly flawed.
Guest Post: Welcome To The United States of Orwell, Part 1: Our One Last Chance to Preserve the Bill of RightsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/26/2012 10:53 -0500
We have one last chance to restore at least a part of the Bill of Rights. Some members of Congress awakened from their fund-raising somnambulance and proposed the Due Process Guarantee Act which would restore the Bill of Rights to its proper place in US law. So do one thing today for the nation and its liberties: contact your representative and senators to press them to support this bill. Ask them which military or law enforcement agencies requested that Congress nullify the Bill of Rights with the NDAA. Advise them to do the correct thing for once in their sordid little careers and vote for the Due Process Guarantee Act. This page lists other articles about the NDAA and also provides links to find your representative and Senators: It's treason. Call it what it is.
The enigma that is eccentricity can be unravelled by grasping of this single statement; that which you perceive is both a matter of the object of your perception (in this case; the eccentric person) and your apparatus of perception. Eccentricity, then, is as much a quirk of the popular mind as it is of a particular person. So with the assumption that you seek creativeness and intrigue — here’s how to think eccentrically, find your edge and risk little for lots.
Those snapping up housing for cash are either buying to rent the homes or to speculate that a resurgent housing market will arise and they can "flip" for big profits. This segment simply isn't large enough to soak up all the millions of homes languishing in the "shadow inventory" of homes being held off the market in the vain hope prices will bubble higher. The general idea of lower home prices is that once prices fall to some magic threshold, buyers will jump in and liquidate the inventory. That notion makes two enormous assumptions: 1) Interest rates will stay near-zero when inflation is factored in. 2) Household income will stop declining. In other words, there are three inputs to housing affordability, and price is only one of them. Interest rates and disposable income are equally important.
In an interview with Louis James, the inimitable Doug Casey throws cold water on those celebrating the economic recovery. "Get out your mower; it's time to cut down some green shoots again, and debunk a bit of the so-called recovery."
In only three more years you're talking $20 trillion in public debt for the USA and a GDP going nowhere fast. Add to this that demographics are not encouraging and taxes of all sorts will have to rise. Cuts will be symbolic because the political pain will be unbearable. Without productive new investment, then debt service soon outstrips income growth and the economy enters a death spiral of declining productive investment, ever expanding debt and ever higher debt service costs.
A growing number of Americans are frustrated with the way in which their economy has been managed and are becoming increasingly concerned about future measures the government may take to keep its coffers full. A question that is arising with increasing frequency is: does expatriation offer a viable protection to those concerned about a more financially-intrusive US system? The short answer is 'yes' but while it does offer a solution to ending one's obligations to pay US taxes - it's important to understand that it's not suitable for everyone. Mark Nestmann gives a great nuts and bolts breakdown of what's involved and what the benefits and risks are
Quietly, and with little fanfare, President Obama signed a “National Defense Resources Preparedness” Executive Order on Friday. As the name suggests, the order intends to shore up the country’s national defense resources in advance of a national emergency. To be fair, this is not the first time that such an order has been written. President Obama’s order, however, takes things much, much further.This is all playing out with nearly perfect historical precision. Time and time again throughout history as once great empires accelerated their declines, governments have taken steps to protect their interests against the people. In the past, they have imposed curfews, disarmed the population, curtailed civil liberties, and declared national emergencies, usually against some great faceless enemy from abroad who threatens their way of life. As it turns out, though, our great faceless enemy is not some mythical boogeyman living in a cave, nor some angry brown person who hates us for our freedoms… but the very people within the system who’ve taken an oath to ‘support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’ Have you hit your breaking point yet?
The March silver futures contract first entered backwardation on Mar 9 and with a few zigs and zags has not only remained there but has gone deeper and deeper in. The April gold future just entered backwardation today. We shall see what the coming days bring for the April gold future, but the fact that backwardation has occurred at all is significant. The fact that it is now a “normal” occurrence since fall 2008 indicates a deep pathology. Backwardation means that anyone who has gold or silver could simultaneously sell the metal and buy futures contracts to recover their position, and make a profit. The market is tight. The metal is out there, but obviously those who have it in an unencumbered form are not able (retail) or willing (others?) to take this backwardation bait.
Depending on debt to fuel nominal growth leads to an economic death spiral. Sometimes one chart says it all. Charted against consumer credit, the S&P 500 (SPX) collapsed after the 2000 dot-com bubble burst and has been tracing out a descending channel since then. The Fed's injections of liquidity via trillion-dollar purchases of toxic mortgages and Treasury bonds does not funnel money into productive investments--all it accomplished was to further incentivize speculative churning and financialization to enriched the few at the expense of the many. So sit back, tighten your seatbelts and enjoy the death spiral ride, brought to you by the Federal Reserve and your elected servants of the financial Elite.
Fed chairman Ben Bernanke is covered in a long profile by Roger Lowenstein in the Atlantic. The sympathetic account takes the reader blow-by-blow through the criticism that he has received from virtually all quarters during his tenure as Fed chair. What Lowenstein hones in on are the reviews and criticisms of Bernanke’s performance in “resurrecting the economy” — the interest rate policy, his interpretation of the dual mandate, quantitative easing, Operation Twist, etc. But for a piece that clocks in at 8,287 words, Lowenstein pays scant attention to the emergency actions taken to save the financial system itself.