QUOTES OF THE DAY

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Posted on 1st March 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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“The risk that the economy has entered a substantial downturn appears to have diminished over the past month or so.”

Ben Bernanke – June 10, 2008

“It is not the responsibility of the Federal Reserve – nor would it be appropriate – to protect lenders and investors from the consequences of their financial decisions.”

Ben Bernanke – October 31, 2007

“All that said, given the fundamental factors in place that should support the demand for housing, we believe the effect of the troubles in the subprime sector on the broader housing market will likely be limited, and we do not expect significant spillovers from the subprime market to the rest of the economy or to the financial system. The vast majority of mortgages, including even subprime mortgages, continue to perform well. Past gains in house prices have left most homeowners with significant amounts of home equity, and growth in jobs and incomes should help keep the financial obligations of most households manageable.”

Ben Bernanke – May 17, 2007

“At this juncture, however, the impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the subprime market seems likely to be contained. In particular, mortgages to prime borrowers and fixed-rate mortgages to all classes of borrowers continue to perform well, with low rates of delinquency.”

Ben Bernanke – March 28, 2007

“Despite the ongoing adjustments in the housing sector, overall economic prospects for households remain good. Household finances appear generally solid, and delinquency rates on most types of consumer loans and residential mortgages remain low.”

Ben Bernanke – February 15, 2007

“With respect to their safety, derivatives, for the most part, are traded among very sophisticated financial institutions and individuals who have considerable incentive to understand them and to use them properly.”

Ben Bernanke – November 15, 2005

 


BREAKING BAD (DEBT) – EPISODE TWO

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Posted on 28th February 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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‘If you’re committed enough, you can make any story work. I once told a woman I was Kevin Costner, and it worked because I believed it’ Saul Goodman – Breaking Bad

“As calamitous as the sub-prime blowup seems, it is only the beginning. The credit bubble spawned abuses throughout the system. Sub-prime lending just happened to be the most egregious of the lot, and thus the first to have the cockroaches scurrying out in plain view. The housing market will collapse. New-home construction will collapse. Consumer pocketbooks will be pinched. The consumer spending binge will be over. The U.S. economy will enter a recession.”Eric Sprott – 2007

In Part One of this article I provided the background of how our current debt saturated economy got to this point of ludicrousness. The “crazy” bloggers, prophets of doom, and analysts who could do basic math were warning of an impending financial crisis in 2006 and 2007, which would be caused by the issuance of hundreds of billions in subprime slime by the Too Big To Trust Wall Street shysters. Subprime mortgages, auto loans, and credit card lines provided the kindling for the 2008 conflagration.

Under normal circumstances we wouldn’t have seen such irrational, reckless, greedy behavior from Wall Street for another generation. But, Wall Street didn’t have to accept the consequences of their actions. They were bailed out and further enriched by their puppets at the Federal Reserve, the lackey politicians they installed in Washington D.C., and on the backs of honest, hard-working, tax paying Americans. The lesson they learned was they could continue to take excessive, reckless, unregulated risks without concern for losses, downside, or consequences.

In reality, the Fed and government have worked in tandem with Wall Street to create the subprime economic recovery. The scheme has been to revive the bailed out auto industry by artificially boosting sales through dodgy, low interest, extended term debt. With the Feds taking over the entire student loan market, they have doled out hundreds of billions to kids who don’t have the educational skills to succeed in college, in order to keep them out of the unemployment calculation.

That’s why you have a 5.7% unemployment rate when 41% of the working age population (102 million people) is not working. The appearance of economic recovery has been much more important to the ruling class than an actual economic recovery for average Americans, because the .1% have made out like bandits anyway. Who has benefited from the $650 billion of student loan and auto debt disseminated by the oligarchs in the last four years, the borrowers or lenders?

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BREAKING BAD (DEBT) – EPISODE ONE

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Posted on 27th February 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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“At this juncture, the impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the subprime market seems likely to be contained.”Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, Congressional testimony, March, 2007

“Capitalism without financial failure is not capitalism at all, but a kind of socialism for the rich.”James Grant, Grant’s Interest Rate Observer

The Federal Reserve issued their fourth quarter Report on Household Debt and Credit last week to the sounds of silence in the mainstream media. There were minor press releases issued by the “professional” financial journalists regurgitating the Federal Reserve’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.

Luckily, the government hasn’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. The data in the report tells a multitude of tales conflicting with the “official story” 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 4th 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.

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’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.

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PIN MEET HOUSING BUBBLE 2.0

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Posted on 16th January 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Housing bubble 2.0 just met Pin 2.0

The 30 Year U.S. Treasury bond yield hit 2.35% yesterday. That is the lowest rate in U.S. history for the 30 Year Treasury. During the deepest darkest depths of the recession in March 2009, after the stock market had fallen over 50%, the yield was 3.5%. One year ago it was yielding 4.0%. Long term interest rates are not controlled by Yellen. They reflect the economic prospects of the country. When they are rising it means the economy is doing well. When they are plummeting to all time lows, the economy is either in recession or headed into recession. Take your pick. No amount of government data manipulation, feel good propaganda spewed by the captured mainstream media, or Ivy League educated Wall Street economist doublespeak, can change the fact this economy is in the dumper and headed much lower. The Greater Depression is resuming its downward march toward inevitable war.

ust30low

  • KBH SEES 1Q BOTTOM LINE ABOUT BREAK-EVEN (against expectations of a 17c rise!)
  • KB HOME CFO SAYS FIRST-QUARTER MARGINS EXPECTED TO BE DOWN
  • KB HOME PULLED OUT OF `COUPLE’ HOUSTON LAND DEALS, CEO SAYS
  • LENNAR CFO SAYS MARGINS ARE POISED TO NARROW ON LESS PRICING POWER
  • LENNAR GROSS MARGIN DECLINED & SALES INCENTIVES GREW
  • LENNAR CEO SAYS “ACROSS THE BOARD, WE’RE SEEING INTENSIFIED COMPETITION AS BUILDERS GO OUT AND CHASE VOLUME”

KB Home had revenues of $2.4 billion in 2014. They are one of the largest home builders in the country. It’s stock has dropped 30% in the last few days. It’s down 40% from its February 2014 high. It’s down 85% from its 2005 high. It had $9 billion of revenues and delivered 60,000 homes in 2005. Then Pin 1.0 popped the first bubble. Revenues collapsed to $1.3 billion and they lost hundreds of millions from 2007 through 2012.

Lennar had revenues of $7.0 billion in 2014. They are the largest home builder in the country. It’s stock has dropped 9% this week. It had been trading at a seven year high, but is still trading 33% below its 2005 bubble high. It had $14 billion of revenues and delivered 42,000 homes in 2005. Then Pin 1.0 popped their bubble. Revenues imploded to $3 billion and they also lost hundreds of millions from 2007 through 2012.

Their admissions earlier this week are proof Bubble 2.0 has met Pin 2.0. KB Home’s 85% increase in revenue and Lennar’s 130% increase in revenue since 2011 have been nothing but a Federal Reserve/Wall Street/U.S. Treasury engineered scheme to repair the balance sheets of the insolvent Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks. The financial industry oligarchs and their servile lackey puppet politicians decided an easy money, Wall Street created scheme to boost home prices would benefit the .1% and restore some of their fraudulently acquired wealth. It isn’t a coincidence home prices rose in parallel with the Fed’s QE programs. And it isn’t a coincidence the bubble is rapidly deflating now that QE3 is over.

The fraudulent nature of the supposed housing recovery can be deciphered by analyzing a few pertinent data points. 30 year mortgage rates were in the 5% to 6% range during the first bubble. Mortgage rates have been consistently below 4% for the last three years. In a healthy market driven economy, these low rates should have brought in first time home buyers and led to a sustainable long-term recovery.

Instead, the number of homes bought by first time buyers has languished at record low levels. The majority of homes sold in 2011 and 2012 were distressed foreclosures and short sales, and the vast majority of sales in the last two years have been to Federal Reserve financed Wall Street investors, Chinese billionaires and fast buck flippers. New home sales of just above 400,000 five years into an economic recovery are at previous recession lows, despite record low mortgage rates. They languish 65% below 2005 levels, when KB Home and Lennar were minting money. Existing home sales of 5 million are back at 1999 levels and 30% below the 2005 highs. This pitiful result is after $3.5 trillion of QE, extremely low mortgage rates, and tremendous hype from the NAR and the corporate MSM (It’s always the best time to buy).

The falsity of the housing recovery storyline can be seen in the fact that mortgage applications linger at 1995 levels, even though mortgage rates are 400 basis points lower than they were in 1995. A critical thinking individual might ask how home prices could rise by 20% since 2012 even though mortgage purchase applications are 20% lower than they were in 2012 and 65% below 2005 levels. The answer is they couldn’t have risen by 20% without massive monetary manipulation and insider deals between Wall Street banks, Wall Street hedge funds, FNMA, Freddie Mac, The Fed, and the U.S. Treasury.

gt10mbap

You see, average Americans buy houses not as an investment, but as a place to live. They save enough for a down payment by spending less than they earn, and then make monthly payments for 30 years from their rising household income. Of course, that was the old days. Real median household income is exactly where it was in 1995. It is currently below the level of 1989. Average Americans have made no headway in 20 years. The median price of a home in 1995, according to the Census Bureau, was $128,000. The median price of a home today is $281,000. When prices go up 120% and your real income remains stagnant, even record low mortgage rates is just pushing on a string. With real wages continuing to fall, young people saddled with a trillion dollars of student loan debt, the full impact of the Obamacare neutron bomb (kills small business, doctors and jobs, but not insurance conglomerates or government bureaucracy) just detonating, and an economy clearly going into the tank, there is absolutely no possibility of a real housing recovery in the foreseeable future.

nnnnffffff

The Too Big To Trust banks have consistently accounted for 35% to 55% of all mortgage originations in the U.S. over the last four years. Wells Fargo is the undisputed leader. All of these banks have reported dreadful financial results this week, with plunging revenues and profits, even with accounting shenanigans like relieving loan loss reserves and marking their balance sheets to fantasy rather than true market values. In the midst of a supposed housing recovery, with mortgage rates at historic lows, the largest mortgage originator in the world, saw their mortgage originations FALL by 12% over last year. They are down 65% from two years ago. JP Morgan and Citigroup also saw their mortgage businesses contracting. These banks have been firing thousands of people in their mortgage divisions. This is surely a sign of a healthy growing housing market. Right?

Essentially, the entire housing recovery storyline has revolved around the Federal Reserve providing free money to Wall Street banks, who then withheld foreclosures from the market, sold them in bulk at inflated prices to Wall Street hedge funds like Blackstone, who then created a nationwide rental business, driving prices higher. FNMA and Freddie Mac did their part by selling their bulk foreclosures to the same connected hedge funds. The average person had no opportunity to bid on foreclosed homes and reap the benefits of lower prices. Blackstone has since created a new derivative, by packaging their rental income streams into an “investment” to sell to muppets. Their rental properties are concentrated in the previous bubble markets of Arizona, California, Florida, and Nevada. What a beautiful business concept. Free money from their Federal Reserve sugar daddy, kicking people out of their homes and then renting their houses back to them, driving prices higher by restricting supply and stopping new household formations, double dipping by creating a new exotic subprime investment opportunity, and then exiting stage left before it all blows sky high again.

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MESSAGE FOR BEN

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Posted on 20th November 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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My brother knows how to push my buttons. He is at a conference and emailed me that the lunch speaker is Ben Bernanke. He has been invited to a private meeting with Ben and wanted to know if there was anything I wanted to tell him. Here was my response:

Tell him to go fuck himself.

Ask him whether it bothers him that 80 year old widows who had a life savings of $100,000 spinning off $5,000 of interest in 2007 to help her survive have been getting $150 per year since he instituted his policies to save Wall Street bankers.

I understand he gets $250,000 for one hour speaking engagements now. More than he made in an entire year as Fed Chairman.

Fuck him.

I doubt he will pass along my greeting, but you never know.

Do you have any messages for Ben you want me to pass along to my brother?

WHAT THE FED HAS WROUGHT

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Posted on 16th November 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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The chart below might be the most powerful indictment of the Federal Reserve and our corporate fascist empire of debt ever created. Some people don’t get charts. Charts tell a story. This chart tells the story of elitist bankers supporting the agenda of a corporate fascist state, resulting in the gutting of the middle class. Anyone who views this chart in a positive manner is either a Federal Reserve banker or their paycheck is dependent upon the continuation of the pillaging of the working class. Corporate profits are at all-time highs. Profit margins have always reverted to the mean throughout modern history. If they remain at all-time highs then something is terribly wrong.

“Profit margins are probably the most mean-reverting series in finance, and if profit margins do not mean-revert, then something has gone badly wrong with capitalism. If high profits do not attract competition, there is something wrong with the system and it is not functioning properly.” Jeremy Grantham, Barron’s

Here is the story I see in that chart. Corporate profits as a percentage of GNP have averaged 6.5% over the last 67 years. As you can see, it is a volatile figure. Corporate profits rise during expansions and fall during recessions. That has been a given over time. The reason corporate profits have always reverted to the mean was due to the basic tenets of free market capitalism. When a company is generating outsized profits, that industry will then attract new competitors, resulting in price competition and lower profits. From 1950 through 1971, corporate profits as a percentage of GNP fluctuated in a narrow range between 5% and 7%. This was a reflection of a market driven by competition, a non-interventionist Federal Reserve, and a government not captured by corporate interests.

It is no coincidence since Nixon closed the gold window in 1971 and unleashed greedy bankers, feckless politicians, and self serving corporate executives to utilize easy money and prodigious amounts of debt to financialize our economic system and deform capitalism, corporate profits have boomed and busted. The Fed created booms and busts are clearly evident on the chart. Nixon toady Arthur Burns created an inflationary boom in corporate profits to 8% of GNP in the late 70’s followed by the collapse to 3% caused by Volcker having to raise rates to extreme levels to crush the Burns created runaway inflation.

You can see exactly when the Maestro assumed command at the Fed and proceeded to introduce the Greenspan Put, encouraging speculation, borrowing and mal-investment. His easy money boom led to the dot com bubble that doubled corporate profits from their 1987 low. Of course the profits vaporized in an instant and plunged to 4% of GNP in 2001. Greenspan and then Bernanke  proceeded to drive interest rates to record lows creating a prodigious housing bubble resulting in the greatest level of mal-investment and financial fraud in world history. Corporate profits as a percentage of GNP skyrocketed from 4% to 10% in the space of six years. The banking cabal had captured the system.

The Fed orchestra kept the music playing and Wall Street kept dancing the rumba with their corporate CEO dates. The Keynesian acolytes were ecstatic. The Austrians warned of the impending bust. No one listened. The collapse of the worldwide financial system was portrayed by the corporate mainstream media, bankers like Dimon, corporate CEOs like Immelt, billionaires like Buffet, captured government bureaucrats like Paulson, and politicians like McCain and Obama, as a systematic risk that required a taxpayer rescue of criminals.

The $800 billion gift to bankers and mega-corporations by the Washington DC Party of captured politicians was chicken feed compared to the $3.5 trillion of newly printed fiat handed to Wall Street and corporate America by Bernanke and Yellen. Five years of 0% interest rates have impoverished senior citizens and savers, but they have done wonders for Wall Street and mega-corporation profits, along with executive bonuses. Corporate profits soared from 4.5% of GNP to an all-time high of 10.5% in the space of three years and have remained at this elevated level.

Who Needs Wage Earners Anyway?

Is it a coincidence that corporate profits as a percentage of GNP are at record highs while employee compensation as a percentage of GNP is at record lows? Is it a coincidence that employee compensation as a percentage of GNP peaked at 51% in 1971? That year certainly seems to be a turning point in U.S. economic history. Gold’s purpose as a check on statists, Keynesians, politicians, bankers, and the military industrial complex couldn’t be any clearer. The decline has multiple causes, but the storyline about technology being the major cause is patently false. My observations are as follows:

  • From the end of World War II until the mid-1970s employee compensation as a percentage of GNP was consistently between 49% and 51%. The middle class saw their standard of living rise as wages outpaced inflation, savings rates were high and led to capital investment, debt was used for long term purchases like a home or automobile, and bankers accepted deposits and made safe loans. Technological progress over the thirty years was constant, but did not result in declining wages.
  • From the moment Nixon closed the gold window, employee compensation as percentage of GNP relentlessly declined for the next quarter of a century from 51% to 44%. Over this time frame our economy deformed from a goods producing system driven by savings and capital investment into a service/financial economy built upon consumer debt, conspicuous consumption and market gambling. Our iconic mega-corporations fired Americans and hired Chinese slave laborers, lobbied for tax breaks, invested in their own stock, kept wage increases below the level of true inflation, and paid extravagant compensation packages to their Harvard MBA executives.
  • The brief upturn created by Greenspan’s irrational exuberance 90’s boom was short lived. The relentless decline resumed after the dot com collapse, even as Greenspan and Bernanke blew their epic bubble. Their financial engineering machinations on behalf of Wall Street did nothing for the average worker on Main Street. Employee compensation as a percentage of GNP declined from 47% to 44% BEFORE the financial collapse.
  • Unequivocal proof that Bernanke’s sole purpose of QE and ZIRP was to benefit his Wall Street owners can be seen in the continued decline from 44% to 42% since 2008. There has been no recovery for the average American. Wall Street is rolling in dough. Corporate America is rolling in dough. Politicians are rolling in dough. The average American worker is rolling in dog shit.

The mouthpieces for the Deep State insist corporate profits have reached a permanently high plateau. It’s another new paradigm. Just like 1929, 1999, and 2007. Jeremy Grantham is right. The system is broken. The inmates are running the asylum. But financial engineering will not work permanently.  Baijnath Ramraika and Prashant Trivedi in their outstanding article Why Jeremy Grantham is Right about Corporate Profit Margins prove that corporate gross margins have not grown, technological advancement has not been a major factor, innovation and capital investment are non-existent, and corporate CEOs have utilized one time schemes to boost profits.

There are a few major reasons for record corporate profits. The Fed’s gift to banks and mega-corporations of zero interest rates have allowed S&P 500 corporations to refinance their existing debt and take on new debt at below market interest rates. The average interest rate paid by S&P 500 companies is now at all-time lows. Any normalization of interest rates would crush corporate profits.

Even though you hear constant propaganda from the corporate MSM, corporate CEOs, and captured politicians about the dreadful level of corporate taxes, the truth is that mega-corporations are paying record low levels of actual taxes. When profits are at record highs and tax payments at record lows you know they have captured the system. “Creative” tax avoidance and the FASB allowing banks to mark their assets to fantasy have played an enormous role in record profits.

The short term oriented casino mentality of corporate CEOs can be plainly seen in the fact depreciation expense as a percentage of revenue is at 25 year lows, resulting in short term profits but long-term decline. Instead of investing in capital to increase efficiency or expand their business, greedy myopic CEOs have chosen to buy back their own stock at all-time high prices. They did the same thing in 2005 – 2007. Driving up quarterly earnings per share to boost their own stock option compensation is how it rolls in corporate America today. Investing in their workers through higher wages isn’t even a consideration. They don’t teach that in Ivy League MBA programs. SG&A expenses as a percentage of revenue have been driven to all time lows, as outsourcing, downsizing, and working people to death have done wonders for corporate profits.

Ramraika and Trivedi reach damning conclusions of corporate America, based on their detailed unbiased research:

As the world moved increasingly towards the idea of shareholder-value maximization, time horizons for management and the shareholders have shortened. As Montier shows, the average lifespan of a company in the S&P 500 in the 1970s was about 27 years and is down to about 15 years now. In tandem, the average tenure of CEOs is down from about 10 years in the 1970s to about 6 years now. Combine this with the incentive systems prevalent today (think stock options), and it is only logical that a CEO who is going to be around for as few as six years and is going to get a large chunk of her rewards in stock options will want to see higher stock prices.

Cutting SGA expenses and postponing capital investments — actions that carry positive short-term earnings impact at the expense of a business’ competitiveness in the long-term — look promising to managers whose payoffs depend on stock prices in the short-term. Not surprisingly, the renters (there are hardly any owners any more) clamor for just such actions. The problem with this thinking is that the long-term eventually shows up. And when it does, profit margins will have no choice but to remember their long forgotten tendency to revert to mean.

Are interest rates going to be driven lower for corporations? Are taxes going to be driven lower? How many more people can corporations fire? Have economic downturns been eliminated by the Federal Reserve? Will record profits not result in increased competition and price wars? Can wages be driven even lower?

The financial, economic and political system has been captured by corporate fascist psychopaths. The Federal Reserve has aided and abetted this takeover. Their monetary manipulations have resulted in this deformity. Psychopaths always go too far. The American middle class has been murdered. Decades of declining real wages have left them virtually penniless, in debt up to their eyeballs, angry, frustrated, and unable to jump start our moribund economy by buying more Chinese produced crap. Yellen, her Wall Street puppeteers, and the corporate titans should enjoy those record profits and record stock market highs. It won’t last. Short-term profits will be wiped out, as long-term consequences always arrive when you least expect it. The artificial boom will lead to a real depression. Luckily for the oligarchs, most middle class Americans are already experiencing a depression and won’t notice the difference.

“True, governments can reduce the rate of interest in the short run. They can issue additional paper money. They can open the way to credit expansion by the banks. They can thus create an artificial boom and the appearance of prosperity. But such a boom is bound to collapse soon or late and to bring about a depression.” – Ludwig von Mises

SENIOR CITIZENS DOING BACK FLIPS OVER $22 MONTHLY SOCIAL SECURITY INCREASE

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Posted on 22nd October 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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I’m sure my senior citizen mother is doing backflips today like the old guy in this video.

The government, out of the kindness of their hearts, and using the bastardized, manipulated and understated CPI, is giving all 64 million retired Americans a 1.7% raise in their Social Security checks in 2015. That amounts to about $22 per month for the average retiree. That’s $5 per week. I bet 64 million cranky old farts are headed out for the early bird special tonight to celebrate.

Think about the ridiculousness of the government telling a senior citizen their cost of living has only gone up 1.7% in the last year. Beef prices are up 20%. I do the grocery shopping and I can say for sure that my entire bill is up 20% over last year. Obamacare has pushed healthcare costs up by double digits in the last three years. Deductibles are twice as high and premiums are up 5% to 15%. Utility bills have been soaring by over 10% in the last year. Seniors are getting 0% on their savings due to the morally bankrupt Federal Reserve. That extra $22 per month will be gone in an instant.

Just when I think the MSM can’t sink any lower, the faux journalist mouthpieces for the oligarchs at Marketwatch put out the most outlandish piece of shit I’ve ever had to read without gagging.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/7-things-retirees-should-do-with-their-20-cost-of-living-increase-2014-10-22?link=MW_home_latest_news

These pitiful excuses for journalists actually had the balls to write an article recommending what seniors should do with this “extra” $20 per month. These blithering idiots actually are willing to perpetuate the lie that this miniscule pittance can be used for something other than keeping these seniors from freezing to death this winter because they can’t pay their heating bill.

Some of the brilliant ideas include:

  • Acting like a good muppet and investing it in the market. Brilliant. My mom can buy 1/20 of a share of Amazon per month with her windfall.
  • Buying a nice bottle of wine to go with their can of Friskies for dinner.
  • Paying down the debt they’ve accumulated over a lifetime. At $20 per month, they should have it paid off by the time they reach the age of 265.
  • Paying those utility bills so the big corporation doesn’t turn off their gas in January.
  • Hire an illegal alien housekeeper to clean up your cardboard box a couple times per month.
  • Treat yourself to a steak once per month as a change of pace from that Kibble and Ramen noodles.
  • Live it up and go to the movies once per month. You should go see Idiocracy so you will understand how the writers of this article got their University of Phoenix college degrees in journalism.

You think I’m joking, but these are the actual recommendations made by “journalists” working for Rupert Murdoch’s Marketwatch. There are just some things that push my buttons and make me lose my cool. This is one of them. Senior citizens have been thrown under the bus by Ben Bernanke, Janet Yellen, Obama, and the rest of this corrupt cabal of oligarchs. Let them eat cake has been replace by let them eat cat food.

 

Ben Bernanke now gets $250,000 for an hour long speech where he takes credit for keeping bankers from experiencing a 2nd Great Depression. Too bad tens of millions of non-bankers are experiencing a 2nd Great Depression. If there is justice in this world, Bennie will swing from a lamppost before this episode in history concludes.

Via Christian Science Monitor

Social Security payments will increase 1.7 percent for retirees in 2015

Social Security payments for 64 million retired American workers will increase 1.7 percent in 2015. That means the typical retiree will get an extra $22 per month, receiving a $1,328 average monthly Social Security payment and $15,936 annually.

By Schuyler Velasco, Staff writer

  • Elaine Thompson/AP/File

Social Security isn’t going anywhere. Not yet, anyway.

Monthly payments for 64 million retired American workers will increase 1.7 percent in 2015, the Social Security Administration announced Wednesday. That means the typical retiree will get an extra $22 per month, receiving a $1,328 average monthly payment and $15,936 annually.

“The 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that more than 58 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2015,” The Social Security Administration said in the announcement. “Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI [Supplemental Security Income] beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2014. The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

Recommended: Retirement planning: Six myths, busted

The increase coincides with the Labor Department’s monthly Consumer Price Index release for September. Thanks largely to falling energy costs, CPI increased just 0.1 percent last month and (you guessed it) 1.7 percent from last year. Food costs, however, jumped 3 percent, meaning the overall increase may be more acutely felt by seniors who don’t commute to work every day (thus getting less relief from the drop in gas prices).

This is the third straight COLA increase for Social Security recipients. This year’s cost of living increase was 1.5 percent; in 2012, it was a comparatively giant 3.2 percent. There were no benefits increases during the two previous years because consumer prices fell during the recession.

The SSA announced other changes as well. Based on wage increases, the maximum amount of earnings subjected to the Social Security taxes will increase to $118,500 from $117,000. The SSA estimates that out of 168 million workers who pay Social Security taxes, around 10 million will pay higher taxes because of the hike in the taxable minimum.

As in other years, this year’s increase comes amid worries about the long-term future of Social Security and Americans’ financial readiness for their retirement years. The Social Security Trust fund is projected to run out by 2033, according to an SSA Trustee report released this year, and the oncoming rush of retiring and aging Baby Boomers are expected to create steep budgetary problems in the coming years. Some 80 percent of Millennials and Gen-Xers don’t expect to receive anything from Social Security after their working years, according to a study released by the TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies over the summer.

There are concerns in the short term as well. By at least one measure, retirees in 49 of 50 states aren’t replacing enough of their pre-retirement income. Social Security makes up about 38 percent of total income for the elderly, according to the SSA, and 52 percent of married couples and 74 percent of unmarried persons receive over half their income from Social Security.

For 1 in 3 retirees, it is their only income source. Basic costs of living, especially food prices, continue to balloon, and nearly 10 percent of retirees live in poverty, according to the Census Bureau.

Still, there is some cause for optimism. Perhaps because of their doubts, younger workers (at least the ones with access to employee-sponsored accounts) are shaping up to be excellent savers, and not all is lost with Social Security in general. Despite the trust fund depletion and funding shortfalls,  the SSA still anticipates being able to pay 75 percent of scheduled benefits between 2033 and 2088. 

GRAPES OF WRATH – 2011

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Posted on 21st June 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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I wrote this article three years ago. It is still one of my favorites. Read it and decide whether John Steinbeck was a contemptible communist or a courageous man who confronted the government and the criminal bankers with truth. Is fighting for the little guy a noble or detestable trait? You decide.

“And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.” – John SteinbeckGrapes of Wrath

 

John Steinbeck wrote his masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath at the age of 37 in 1939, at the tail end of the Great Depression. Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize for literature. John Ford then made a classic film adaption in 1941, starring Henry Fonda. It is considered one of the top 25 films in American history. The book was also one of the most banned in US history. Steinbeck was ridiculed as a communist and anti-capitalist by showing support for the working poor. Some things never change, as the moneyed interests that control the media message have attempted to deflect the blame for our current Depression away from their fraudulent deeds.

The novel stands as a chronicle of the Great Depression and as a commentary on the economic and social system that gave rise to it. Steinbeck’s opus to the working poor reverberates across the decades. He wrote the novel in the midst of the last Fourth Turning Crisis. His themes of man’s inhumanity to man, the dignity and rage of the working class, and the selfishness and greed of the moneyed class ring true today.

Steinbeck became the champion of the working class. When he decided to write a novel about the plight of migrant farm workers, he took his task very seriously. To prepare, he lived with an Oklahoma farm family and made the journey with them to California. Seventy years later the plight of the working class is the same. If Steinbeck were alive today he would live with a Michigan auto manufacturing family making a journey to fantasyland of green energy, where automobiles ran on corn and sunshine.

The working class bore the brunt of the Great Depression in the 1930s and they are bearing the burden during our current Greater Depression. Steinbeck knew who the culprits were seventy years ago. We know who the culprits are today. They are one in the same. The moneyed banking interests caused the Great Depression and they created the disastrous collapse that has thus far destroyed 7 million middle class jobs. Steinbeck understood that the poor working class of this country had more dignity and compassion for their fellow man than any Wall Street banker out for enrichment at the expense of the working class.

Okies and the Land of Milk & Honey

“How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can’t scare him–he has known a fear beyond every other.” – John Steinbeck – Grapes of Wrath

 

The America of 1930 was different in many aspects from the America of 2011. The population of the U.S. was 123 million, living in 26 million households, or 4.7 people per household. Today the population of the U.S. is 310 million, living in 118 million households, or 2.6 people per household. The living and working structure of the country was dramatically different in 1930.

The percentage of the population that lived in rural areas exceeded 40%, down from 60% in 1900, as the country rapidly industrialized. One quarter of the population still worked on farms. Today, less than 20% of Americans live in rural areas, while less than 2% live on farms. In 1935, there were 6.8 million farms in the U.S. Today there are 2.1 million farms. The family farm has been slowly but surely displaced by corporate mega-farms since the 1920s, with 46,000 farms now accounting for 50% of all farm production today.

The sad plight of the American working farmer did not begin with the Stock Market Crash of 1929. The seeds of destruction were planted prior to and during World War I. Automation through technology allowed for more cultivation of land. Agricultural prices rose due to strong worldwide demand, leading farmers to dramatically increase cultivation. With food commodity prices soaring, farmers fell into the classic trap that McMansion buyers fell into from 2000 through 2006. Farmers took on huge amounts of debt to acquire more land and farming equipment as local banks were willing to feed their illusions with loans. It was a can’t miss proposition. Jim Grant in his book Money of the Mind: Borrowing and Lending from the Civil War to Michael Milken described the end result:

Like bull markets in stocks, the bull market in farmland engendered the belief that prices would rise forever. “Speculators who had no interest whatever in farming bought land for the 6 percent or 8 percent annual rise that seemed a certainty throughout the early years of the century…” The rise in farm prices had only begun. The price of wheat was 62 cents a bushel in 1900. It was 99 cents in 1909, $1.43 in 1916, and $2.19 at the peak in 1919. To put $2.19 in perspective, it was not a price seen again until 1947.

The collapse of prices in the early 1920s would have been devastating enough, but the damage was compounded by debt. By the summer of 1921, crop prices were down by no less than 85 percent from the postwar peak. Nebraskans, finding that corn had become cheaper than coal, burned it. As it does in every market, the fall in prices revealed the weaknesses in the structure of credit that had financed the rise.

Between 1919 and 1921, the number of banks that failed totaled 724, with only one of the largest, National City Bank, being bailed out by Washington DC. The heartland, where more than 40% of the population lived, did not participate in the Roaring Twenties. Wall Street and the urbanized Northeast experienced the rapid wealth accumulation during the 1920s. The working poor of the farm belt struggled to subsist. Land under cultivation continued to rise even after the bust of the early 1920s, tripling between 1925 and 1930. The land was over farmed and not properly cared for, depriving the soil of organic nutrients and increasing exposure to erosion. Then Mother Nature took her pound of flesh, much like she is doing today across the globe.

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The Dust Bowl was a period of severe dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damage to Midwest prairie lands from 1930 to 1936. The phenomenon was caused by severe drought coupled with decades of extensive farming without crop rotation, fallow fields, cover crops or other techniques to prevent erosion.Deep plowing of the virgin topsoil of the Great Plains had displaced the natural deep-rooted grasses that normally kept the soil in place and trapped moisture even during periods of drought and high winds. These immense dust storms—given names such as “Black Blizzards” and “Black Rollers”—often reduced visibility to a few feet. The Dust Bowl affected 100,000,000 acres, centered on the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma.

Small farmers were hit especially hard. Even before the dust storms hit, the invention of the tractor drastically cut the need for manpower on farms. These small farmers were usually already in debt, borrowing money for seed and paying it back when their crops came in. When the dust storms damaged the crops, not only could the small farmer not feed himself and his family, he could not pay back his debt. Banks would then foreclose on the small farms and the farmer’s family would be both homeless and unemployed. Between 1930 and 1935, nearly 750,000 farms were lost through bankruptcy or sheriff sales.

Millions of acres of farmland became useless, and hundreds of thousands of people were forced to leave their lifelong homes. They set out on Route 66 toward the land of milk and honey – California. Hundreds of thousands of families traveled this lonely road during the 1930s.

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Many of these families, often known as “Okies”, since so many came from Oklahoma migrated to California and other states, where they found economic conditions little better during the Great Depression than those they had left. Owning no land, many became migrant workers who traveled from farm to farm to pick fruit and other crops at starvation wages. While the Great Depression affected all Americans, about 40% of the population was relatively unscathed. Not so for the “Okies”.

Californians tried to stop migrants from moving into their state by creating checkpoints on main highways called “bum blockades.” California even initiated an “anti-Okie” law which punished anyone bringing in “indigents” with jail time. While Steinbeck highlights the plight of migrant farm families in The Grapes of Wrath, in reality, less than half (43%) of the migrants were farmers. Most migrants came from east of the Dust Bowl and did not work on farms. By 1940, 2.5 million people had moved out of the Plains states; of those, 200,000 moved to California.

Man’s Inhumanity to Man

“It has always seemed strange to me… the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.”John Steinbeck

Steinbeck’s novel was a national phenomenon. The book won Steinbeck the admiration of the working class, due to the book’s sympathy to the common man and its accessible prose style. It also got him branded a communist by the large California land barons and the non-stop harassment by J. Edgar Hoover and the IRS for most of his life. The book was lauded, debated, banned and burned. A book can only generate that amount of heat by getting too close to a truth that those in power do not want revealed. The Grapes of Wrath did just that. Steinbeck meant to pin the blame where it belonged:

“I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this [the Great Depression and its effects].”

The bankers who took their farms and cast them aside like a piece of trash, the Wall Street speculators who got rich by peddling debt to the working class, and the wealthy land barons who treated the migrant farm workers like criminals, were to blame for the suffering of millions. The pyramid of wealth was as unequal in 1929 as it is today. The 1% of the population at the very top of the pyramid had incomes 650% greater than those 11% of Americans at the bottom of the pyramid. The tremendous concentration of wealth in the hands of a few meant that continued economic prosperity was dependent on the high investment and luxury spending of the wealthy.

By 1929, the richest 1% owned 40% of the nation’s wealth. The top 5% earned 33% of the income in the country. The bottom 93% experienced a 4% drop in real disposable income between 1923 and 1929. The middle class comprised only 20% of all Americans. Society was skewed heavily towards the haves. By 1929, more than half of all Americans were living below a minimum subsistence level. Those with means were taking advantage of low interest rates by using margin to invest in stocks.

The margin requirement was only 10%, so you could buy $10,000 worth of stock for $1,000 and borrow the rest. With artificially low interest rates and a booming economy, companies extrapolated the good times and invested in huge expansions. During the 1920s there were 1,200 mergers that swallowed up more than 6,000 companies. By 1929, only 200 mega-corporations controlled over half of all American industry. The few were enriched, while the many wallowed in poverty and despair.

When self proclaimed experts on the Great Depression, like Ben Bernanke, proclaim that the Federal Reserve contributed to the Depression by not expanding the monetary supply fast enough, they practice the art of the Big Lie.  The Great Depression was mainly caused by the expansion of the money supply by the Federal Reserve in the 1920’s that led to an unsustainable credit driven boom. Both Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises predicted an economic collapse in early 1929.  In the Austrian view it was this inflation of the money supply that led to an unsustainable boom in both asset prices (stocks and bonds) and capital goods. Ben Strong, the head of the Federal Reserve, attempted to help Britain by keeping interest rates low and the USD weak versus the Pound.

The artificially low interest rates led to over investment in textiles, farming and autos. In 1927 he lowered rates yet again leading to a speculative frenzy leading up to the Great Crash. The ruling elite of society were the Wall Street speculators. Only 1.5 million people out of an entire population of 127 million invested in the stock market. Margin loans increased from $3.5 billion in 1927 to $8.5 billion in 1929. Stock prices rose 40% between May 1928 and September 1929, while daily trading rose from 2 million shares to 5 million shares per day. By the time the Federal Reserve belatedly tightened in 1928, it was far too late to avoid a stock market crash and depression.

The Federal Reserve was created by bankers to benefit bankers. The Federal Reserve purchased $1.1 billion of government securities from February to July 1932, which raised its total holding to $1.8 billion. Total bank reserves only rose by $212 million, but this was because the American populace lost faith in the banking system and began hoarding more cash, a factor very much beyond the control of the Central Bank.

The potential for a run on the banks caused local bankers to be more conservative in lending out their reserves, and was the cause of the Federal Reserve’s inability to inflate. From its backroom middle of the night creation in 1913, the bank owned Federal Reserve has sought to benefit its owners, the large Wall Street banking interests and its politician protectors in Congress. The working class has always been nothing more than hosts used by the parasites to tax and peddle debt to.

Income and wealth inequality reached a new peak in 2007, the highest level of inequality since 1929. William Domhoff details this inequality in the following terms:

In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.7%.

Source: Domhoff

Real median household income in the U.S. is $49,777 today. It was $52,388 in 1999 before George Bush took office. This is a 5% decline over ten years. Even more disturbing is the fact that the top 20% of households showed real increases in income. The bottom 50% lost income during the last ten years, with the bottom 20% losing 8% of income over this time frame. No wonder there is so much anger among the working middle class in the country regarding the bailout for the top 1%.

Sixty million households make less today than they made 10 years ago. The policies of the Federal Reserve over the last ten years have benefitted speculators and punished seniors, savers and the working middle class. Every policy, program and regulation rolled out by the Federal Reserve in the last three years has been to prop up, enrich, and support their Too Big To Fail Wall Street owners. The middle class American working family is Too Small To Matter.

Steinbeck presciently realized that the suffering of the working class was not due to bad weather, bad luck, or the actions of the working class. It was caused by the rich ruling elite wielding their power and influence across the land in their effort to enrich themselves by any means necessary. Historical, social, and economic circumstances separate people into rich and poor, landowner and tenant, and the people in the dominant roles struggle viciously to preserve their positions.

During the Great Depression it was the brokers, bankers and businessmen who maintained a dominant role, while farmers, workers, and the common man were treated like dogs. Steinbeck used this symbolism by having the Joad’s family dog be run over by a rich person driving a fancy roadster early in the novel. Steinbeck saw the large California landowners as the epitome of the evil Haves. The landowners created a system in which the migrants were treated like animals, shuffled from one filthy roadside camp to the next, denied livable wages, and forced to turn against their brethren simply to survive.

Steinbeck’s world was black and white, good and evil, rich and poor. Today, the corporate mainstream media would brand him a anti-capitalist, socialist crackpot. Those in control want to keep the masses lost in shades of grey. In the 1930s it was clearer regarding who was to blame. The social safety net of New Deal programs from FDR had just begun. At the time, I’m sure they seemed like a good idea to ease the suffering of the poor. In reality, they did little to help, as the unemployment rate was still 18% in 1939, ten years after the Depression began.

These programs, along with hundreds implemented since the 1930s, have created a dependent underclass and have left America with unfunded liabilities in excess of $100 trillion. The rich use the 70,000 page IRS tax code to avoid taxes. They use their wealth to buy influence in Washington DC, rigging the game in their favor. The bottom 50% of the population pays no income taxes. The working middle class, with declining real incomes, foot the bill. They are bamboozled into believing they can live like the rich by a financial industry willing to lie, obfuscate and defraud them. Corporate superstar CEOs, fawned over by the corporate media, outsourced their good paying middle class jobs to foreign lands, boosting EPS, their stock price and their mega-million bonuses. This may not look like the 1930s, but it is worse for millions of American working middle class families.

The Dignity of Wrath

“…and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.”  – John Steinbeck – Grapes of Wrath

 

Steinbeck’s feelings about the people he was writing about can be summed up in this passage:

“If you’re in trouble, or hurt or need – go to the poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help – the only ones.”

The Joads refuse to be broken by their circumstances. They maintain their dignity, honor and self respect, despite the trials and tribulations that befall them. Hunger, tragic death, and maltreatment by the authorities do not break their spirit. Their dignity in the face of tragedy stands in contrast to the vileness of the rich landowners and the cops that treated the migrant workers like criminals.

No matter how much misfortune and degradation are heaped upon the Joads, their sense of justice, family, and honor never waver. Steinbeck believed that as long as people maintained a sense of injustice—a sense of anger against those who sought to undercut their pride in themselves—they would never lose their dignity. Tom Joad is the symbol of all the mistreated working poor who refuse to be beaten down. The landowners and the police are the oppressors. Tom kills a policeman in a struggle for the dignity of the workers. Tom’s farewell to his Ma, captures the essence of the struggle:

“Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. If Casy knowed, why, I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’—I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry n’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build—why, I’ll be there.” – Tom Joad – Grapes of Wrath

Steinbeck’s wrath was directed towards the bankers who stole the farms, the California landowners that treated the workers like vermin, and the police who sided with the wealthy and carried out the brutality on the workers. Tom Joad’s anger and wrath toward those who meant to make them cower is portrayed powerfully in this passage:

“I know, Ma. I’m a-tryin’. But them deputies- Did you ever see a deputy that didn’t have a fat ass? An’ they waggle their ass an’ flop their gun aroun’. Ma”, he said, “if it was the law they was workin’ with, why we could take it. But it ain’t the law. They’re a-working away at our spirits. They’re a-tryin’ to make us cringe an’ crawl like a whipped bitch. They’re tryin’ to break us. Why, Jesus Christ, Ma, they comes a time when the on’y way a fella can keep his decency is by takin’ a sock at a cop. They’re working on our decency”.”

Today, Steinbeck’s wrath would be focused upon Wall Street Mega-Banks, Mega-Corporations and the politicians that allow them to pillage the wealth of the nation. Droughts, foreclosures and technology drove millions of farmers into the cities during the 1930s and it accelerated with the onset of World War II. America became manufacturer to the world, with manufacturing accounting for over 28% of GDP in the mid-1950s. The business of banking, insurance and real estate accounted for less than 11% of GDP.

Since the adoption of the credit card on a large scale in the late 1960’s, the role of bankers and debt in our society has grown relentlessly and recklessly. The point of no return occurred in the mid-1980’s when the financial sector passed the manufacturing sector in relative importance for our economy. Today, banker generated profits from peddling debt to the middle class, creating derivatives to defraud widows and pension funds, and running their institutions like leveraged casinos on steroids account for 21.5% of GDP. Manufacturing profits now account for a pitiful 11.2% of GDP, as the CEO titans of industry at General Electric, Hewlett Packard, Intel, and Apple shipped the manufacturing jobs to Asia in a noble effort to boost earnings per share and reward themselves with $30 million pay packages.

Source: www.mybudget360.com

Total U.S. debt as a percentage of GDP was remarkably stable at approximately 130% for three decades, while financial profits as a percentage of GDP consistently ranged just below 1%. The ascension of Alan Greenspan to the throne of the Federal Reserve unleashed a dust storm of debt and banking profits over the last 25 years. Total credit and financial industry profits each grew by more than 250%. Real wages of middle class workers are lower today than they were in 1971.

Since the higher paying manufacturing jobs were shipped overseas, Wall Street stepped into the breach by providing trillions of debt to the average American so they could buy stuff being produced in China by people who took their jobs. Wall Street and the corporate media convinced middle class Americans that their standard of living was increasing upon the waves of debt. The godfather, Greenspan, watched over and protected the big banks. When they screwed up in their efforts to pillage and plunder on a grand scale, the godfather would reduce interest rates and flood the system with liquidity. Heads they win, tails America loses.

Source: Barry Ritholtz

The powerful Wall Street banks were un-refrained, unregulated and unscrupulous in their unquenchable looting and ransacking of the wealth of the American public. The Federal Reserve provided the fuel and Congress lit the fuse with the repeal of Glass-Steagall, ultimately leading to the biggest financial explosion in world financial history in 2008. The financial crisis was created by the biggest Wall Street banks and the policies of the Federal Reserve. It is a tribute to their monetary power, complete capture of the mainstream media, and total ensnarement of the corrupt politicians in Washington DC, that somehow the Too Big To Fail banks are bigger than they were before the crisis.

The working middle class has footed the bill for the trillions that have been shoveled into the coffers of these criminal enterprises. As a reward, the savers receive .25% on their savings. These men have put 8.5 million people out of work in the last three years. Steinbeck understood that bankers who foreclosed on the homes of poor farmers and fed the speculation that led to the Great Crash were nothing more than extensions of an evil monster:

“No, you’re wrong there—quite wrong there. The bank is something else than men. It happens that every man in a bank hates what the bank does, and yet the bank does it. The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it.”

The bankers that control our economy today deserve the same scorn and wrath that Steinbeck heaped on bankers and California landowners in the 1930’s. Jesse, from Jesse’s Café Americain captures the wrath in this assessment of our current state of affairs:

“The Banks must be restrained, and the financial system reformed, with balance restored to the economy, before there can be any sustained recovery. All else is looting and folly, with apathy and complacent self-interest as their accomplices.”

Selfishness & Altruism

I ain’t never gonna be scared no more. I was, though. For a while it looked as though we was beat. Good and beat. Looked like we didn’t have nobody in the whole wide world but enemies. Like nobody was friendly no more. Made me feel kinda bad and scared too, like we was lost and nobody cared…. Rich fellas come up and they die, and their kids ain’t no good and they die out, but we keep on coming. We’re the people that live. They can’t wipe us out, they can’t lick us. We’ll go on forever, Pa, cos we’re the people. – Ma Joad – Grapes of Wrath

The power elite that believe they can control the masses as puppet master commands a puppet should beware. The wrath of the masses can be fierce and sudden. Ask Hosni Mubarak. As Steinbeck realized many decades ago, selfishness run amok, supported and encouraged by the authorities lead to poverty, despair and sometimes revolution. The false mantra of an economy based on self-interest and free markets is a smokescreen blown by the few with wealth and power to obscure the truth that they have used their wealth and power to rig the game in their favor. The have-nots can dream about becoming a have, but the chances of achieving that dream today are miniscule.

Steinbeck pointedly distinguishes between the selfishness of the moneyed class and the altruism of the working poor. In contrast to and in conflict with this policy of selfishness stands the migrants’ behavior toward one another. Aware that their livelihood and survival depend upon their devotion to the collective good, the migrants unite—sharing their dreams as well as their burdens—in order to survive.

Those in control need to keep the masses divided. They need Americans to be distracted by phantom terrorist threats, inconsequential political differences, American Idol, Charlie Sheen, Lindsey Lohan and Lady Gaga. They need Americans to be focused on “I”. Their greatest fear is that the American people realize that “We” can change the direction of this country and bring the perpetrators of crimes against the people of this country to justice. John Steinbeck saw the potential power of the common man if they became “We”:  

One man, one family driven from the land; this rusty car creaking along the highway to the west. I lost my land, a single tractor took my land. I am alone and bewildered. And in the night one family camps in a ditch and another family pulls in and the tents come out. The two men squat on their hams and the women and children listen. Here is the node, you who hate change and fear revolution. Keep these two squatting men apart; make them hate, fear, suspect each other. Here is the anlarge of the thing you fear. This is the zygote. For here “I lost my land” is changed; a cell is split and from its splitting grows the thing you hate–“We lost our land.” The danger is here, for two men are not as lonely and perplexed as one. And from this first “we” there grows a still more dangerous thing: “I have a little food” plus “I have none.” If from this problem the sum is “We have a little food,” the thing is on its way, the movement has direction. Only a little multiplication now, and this land, this tractor are ours. The two men squatting in a ditch, the little fire, the side-meat stewing in a single pot, the silent, stone-eyed women; behind, the children listening with their souls to words their minds do not understand. The night draws down. The baby has a cold. Here, take this blanket. It’s wool. It was my mother’s blanket–take it for the baby. This is the thing to bomb. This is the beginning–from “I” to “we.” – John Steinbeck – Grapes of Wrath

 The American people have a choice. They can continue on a course of apathy, selfishness and worship of mammon, or they can rally together with selflessness and concern for the welfare of their fellow man and future unborn generations. The current path, forged by a minority of privileged wealthy elite, will lead to the destruction of this country and misery on an unprecedented scale.

It is up to each of us to show the courage of John Steinbeck, who without a thought for himself, stood up against the stones of condemnation, and spoke for those who were given no real voice in the halls of justice, or the halls of government. By doing so he became an enemy of the political status quo. Are you prepared to incur the wrath of the vested interests and meet their lies and propaganda with the fury of your own wrath in search for the truth? These men are sure you don’t have the courage, fortitude and wrath to defeat them.

 

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

– Battle Hymn of the Republic


RETAIL DEATH RATTLE GROWS LOUDER

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Posted on 25th May 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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The definition of death rattle is a sound often produced by someone who is near death when fluids such as saliva and bronchial secretions accumulate in the throat and upper chest. The person can’t swallow and emits a deepening wheezing sound as they gasp for breath. This can go on for two or three days before death relieves them of their misery. The American retail industry is emitting an unmistakable wheezing sound as a long slow painful death approaches.

It was exactly four months ago when I wrote THE RETAIL DEATH RATTLE. Here are a few terse anecdotes from that article:

The absolute collapse in retail visitor counts is the warning siren that this country is about to collide with the reality Americans have run out of time, money, jobs, and illusions. The exponential growth model, built upon a never ending flow of consumer credit and an endless supply of cheap fuel, has reached its limit of growth. The titans of Wall Street and their puppets in Washington D.C. have wrung every drop of faux wealth from the dying middle class. There are nothing left but withering carcasses and bleached bones.

Once the Wall Street created fraud collapsed and the waves of delusion subsided, retailers have been revealed to be swimming naked. Their relentless expansion, based on exponential growth, cannibalized itself, new store construction ground to a halt, sales and profits have declined, and the inevitable closing of thousands of stores has begun.

The implications of this long and winding road to ruin are far reaching. Store closings so far have only been a ripple compared to the tsunami coming to right size the industry for a future of declining spending. Over the next five to ten years, tens of thousands of stores will be shuttered. Companies like JC Penney, Sears and Radio Shack will go bankrupt and become historical footnotes. Considering retail employment is lower today than it was in 2002 before the massive retail expansion, the future will see in excess of 1 million retail workers lose their jobs. Bernanke and the Feds have allowed real estate mall owners to roll over non-performing loans and pretend they are generating enough rental income to cover their loan obligations. As more stores go dark, this little game of extend and pretend will come to an end.

Retail store results for the 1st quarter of 2014 have been rolling in over the last week. It seems the hideous government reported retail sales results over the last six months are being confirmed by the dying bricks and mortar mega-chains. In case you missed the corporate mainstream media not reporting the facts and doing their usual positive spin, here are the absolutely dreadful headlines:

Wal-Mart Profit Plunges By $220 Million as US Store Traffic Declines by 1.4%

Target Profit Plunges by $80 Million, 16% Lower Than 2013, as Store Traffic Declines by 2.3%

Sears Loses $358 Million in First Quarter as Comparable Store Sales at Sears Plunge by 7.8% and Sales at Kmart Plunge by 5.1%

JC Penney Thrilled With Loss of Only $358 Million For the Quarter

Kohl’s Operating Income Plunges by 17% as Comparable Sales Decline by 3.4%

Costco Profit Declines by $84 Million as Comp Store Sales Only Increase by 2%

Staples Profit Plunges by 44% as Sales Collapse and Closing Hundreds of Stores

Gap Income Drops 22% as Same Store Sales Fall

Ann Taylor Profit Crashes by 75% as Same Store Sales Fall

American Eagle Profits Tumble 86%, Will Close 150 Stores

Aeropostale Losses $77 Million as Sales Collapse by 12%

Big Lots Profit Tumbles by 90% as Sales Flat & Exiting Canadian Market

Best Buy Sales Decline by $300 Million as Margins Decline and Comparable Store Sales Decline by 1.3%

Macy’s Profit Flat as Comparable Store Sales decline by 1.4%

Dollar General Profit Plummets by 40% as Comp Store Sales Decline by 3.8%

Urban Outfitters Earnings Collapse by 20% as Sales Stagnate

McDonalds Earnings Fall by $66 Million as US Comp Sales Fall by 1.7%

Darden Profit Collapses by 30% as Same Restaurant Sales Plunge by 5.6% and Company Selling Red Lobster

TJX Misses Earnings Expectations as Sales & Earnings Flat

Dick’s Misses Earnings Expectations as Golf Store Sales Plummet

Home Depot Misses Earnings Expectations as Customer Traffic Only Rises by 2.2%

Lowes Misses Earnings Expectations as Customer Traffic was Flat

Of course, those headlines were never reported. I went to each earnings report and gathered the info that should have been reported by the CNBC bimbos and hacks. Anything you heard surely had a Wall Street spin attached, like the standard BETTER THAN EXPECTED. I love that one. At the start of the quarter the Wall Street shysters post earnings expectations. As the quarter progresses, the company whispers the bad news to Wall Street and the earnings expectations are lowered. Then the company beats the lowered earnings expectation by a penny and the Wall Street scum hail it as a great achievement.  The muppets must be sacrificed to sustain the Wall Street bonus pool. Wall Street investment bank geniuses rated JC Penney a buy from $85 per share in 2007 all the way down to $5 a share in 2013. No more needs to be said about Wall Street “analysis”.

It seems even the lowered expectation scam hasn’t worked this time. U.S. retailer profits have missed lowered expectations by the most in 13 years. They generally “beat” expectations by 3% when the game is being played properly. They’ve missed expectations in the 1st quarter by 3.2%, the worst miss since the fourth quarter of 2000. If my memory serves me right, I believe the economy entered recession shortly thereafter. The brilliant Ivy League trained Wall Street MBAs, earning high six digit salaries on Wall Street, predicted a 13% increase in retailer profits for the first quarter. A monkey with a magic 8 ball could do a better job than these Wall Street big swinging dicks.

The highly compensated flunkies who sit in the corner CEO office of the mega-retail chains trotted out the usual drivel about cold and snowy winter weather and looking forward to tremendous success over the remainder of the year. How do these excuse machine CEO’s explain the success of many high end retailers during the first quarter? Doesn’t weather impact stores that cater to the .01%? The continued unrelenting decline in profits of retailers, dependent upon the working class, couldn’t have anything to do with this chart? It seems only the oligarchs have made much progress over the last four decades.

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Retail CEO gurus all think they have a master plan to revive sales. I’ll let you in on a secret. They don’t really have a plan. They have no idea why they experienced tremendous success from 2000 through 2007, and why their businesses have not revived since the 2008 financial collapse. Retail CEOs are not the sharpest tools in the shed. They were born on third base and thought they hit a triple. Now they are stranded there, with no hope of getting home. They should be figuring out how to position themselves for the multi-year contraction in sales, but their egos and hubris will keep them from taking the actions necessary to keep their companies afloat in the next decade. Bankruptcy awaits. The front line workers will be shit canned and the CEO will get a golden parachute. It’s the American way.

The secret to retail success before 2007 was: create or copy a successful concept; get Wall Street financing and go public ASAP; source all your inventory from Far East slave labor factories; hire thousands of minimum wage level workers to process transactions; build hundreds of new stores every year to cover up the fact the existing stores had deteriorating performance; convince millions of gullible dupes to buy cheap Chinese shit they didn’t need with money they didn’t have; and pretend this didn’t solely rely upon cheap easy debt pumped into the veins of American consumers by the Federal Reserve and their Wall Street bank owners. The financial crisis in 2008 revealed everyone was swimming naked, when the tide of easy credit subsided.

The pundits, politicians and delusional retail CEOs continue to await the revival of retail sales as if reality doesn’t exist. The 1 million retail stores, 109,000 shopping centers, and nearly 15 billion square feet of retail space for an aging, increasingly impoverished, and savings poor populace might be a tad too much and will require a slight downsizing – say 3 or 4 billion square feet. Considering the debt fueled frenzy from 2000 through 2008 added 2.7 billion square feet to our suburban sprawl concrete landscape, a divestiture of that foolish investment will be the floor. If you think there are a lot of SPACE AVAILABLE signs dotting the countryside, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The mega-chains have already halted all expansion. That was the first step. The weaker players like Radio Shack, Sears, Family Dollar, Coldwater Creek, Staples, Barnes & Noble, Blockbuster and dozens of others are already closing stores by the hundreds. Thousands more will follow.

This isn’t some doom and gloom prediction based on nothing but my opinion. This is the inevitable result of demographic certainties, unequivocal data, and the consequences of a retailer herd mentality and lemming like behavior of consumers. The open and shut case for further shuttering of 3 to 4 billion square feet of retail is as follows:

  • There is 47 square feet of retail space per person in America. This is 8 times as much as any other country on earth. This is up from 38 square feet in 2005; 30 square feet in 2000; 19 square feet in 1990; and 4 square feet in 1960. If we just revert to 2005 levels, 3 billion square feet would need to go dark. Does that sound outrageous?

  • Annual consumer expenditures by those over 65 years old drop by 40% from their highest spending years from 45 to 54 years old. The number of Americans turning 65 will increase by 10,000 per day for the next 16 years. There were 35 million Americans over 65 in 2000, accounting for 12% of the total population. By 2030 there will be 70 million Americans over 65, accounting for 20% of the total population. Do you think that bodes well for retailers?

  • Half of Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 have no retirement savings. The other half has accumulated $52,000 or less. It seems the debt financed consumer product orgy of the last two decades has left most people nearly penniless. More than 50% of workers aged 25 to 44 report they have less than $10,000 of total savings.

  • The lack of retirement and general savings is reflected in the historically low personal savings rate of a miniscule 3.8%. Before the materialistic frenzy of the last couple decades, rational Americans used to save 10% or more of their personal income. With virtually no savings as they approach their retirement years and an already extremely low savings rate, do retail CEOs really see a spending revival on the horizon?

  • If you thought the savings rate was so low because consumers are flush with cash and so optimistic about their job prospects they are unconcerned about the need to save for a rainy day, you would be wrong. It has been raining for the last 14 years. Real median household income is 7.5% lower today than it was in 2001. Retailers added 2.7 billion square feet of retail space as real household income fell. Sounds rational.

  • This decline in household income may have something to do with the labor participation rate plummeting to the lowest level since 1978. There are 247.4 million working age Americans and only 145.7 million of them employed (19 million part-time; 9 million self-employed; 20 million employed by the government). There are 92 million Americans, who according to the government have willingly left the workforce, up by 13.3 million since 2007 when over 146 million Americans were employed. You’d have to be a brainless twit to believe the unemployment rate is really 6.3% today. Retail sales would be booming if the unemployment rate was really that low.

  • With a 16.5% increase in working age Americans since 2000 and only a 6.5% increase in employed Americans, along with declining real household income, an inquisitive person might wonder how retail sales were able to grow from $3.3 trillion in 2000 to $5.1 trillion in 2013 – a 55% increase. You need to look no further than your friendly Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks for the answer. In the olden days of the 1970s and early 1980s Americans put 10% to 20% down to buy a house and then systematically built up equity by making their monthly payments. The Ivy League financial engineers created “exotic” (toxic) mortgage products requiring no money down, no principal payments, and no proof you could make a payment, in their control fraud scheme to fleece the American sheeple. Their propaganda machine convinced millions more to use their homes as an ATM, because home prices never drop. Just ask Ben Bernanke. Even after the Bernanke/Blackrock fake housing recovery (actual mortgage originations now at 1978 levels) household real estate percent equity is barely above 50%, well below the 70% levels before the Wall Street induced debt debacle. With the housing market about to head south again, the home equity ATM will have an Out of Order sign on it.

  • We hear the endless drivel from disingenuous Keynesian nitwits about government and consumer austerity being the cause of our stagnating economy. My definition of austerity would be an actual reduction in spending and debt accumulation. It seems during this time of austerity total credit market debt has RISEN from $53.5 trillion in 2009 to $59 trillion today. Not exactly austere, as the Federal government adds $2.2 billion PER DAY to the national debt, saddling future generations with the bill for our inability to confront reality. The American consumer has not retrenched, as the CNBC bimbos and bozos would have you believe. Consumer credit reached an all-time high of $3.14 trillion in March, up from $2.52 trillion in 2010. That doesn’t sound too austere to me. Of course, this increase is solely due to Obamanomics and Bernanke’s $3 trillion gift to his Wall Street owners. The doling out of $645 billion to subprime college “students” and subprime auto “buyers” since 2010 accounts for more than 100% of the increase. The losses on these asinine loans will be epic. Credit card debt has actually fallen as people realize it is their last lifeline. They are using credit cards to pay income taxes, real estate taxes, higher energy costs, higher food costs, and the other necessities of life.

The entire engineered “recovery” since 2009 has been nothing but a Federal Reserve/U.S. Treasury conceived, debt manufactured scam. These highly educated lackeys for the establishment have been tasked with keeping the U.S. Titanic afloat until the oligarchs can safely depart on the lifeboats with all the ship’s jewels safely stowed in their pockets. There has been no housing recovery. There has been no jobs recovery. There has been no auto sales recovery. Giving a vehicle to someone with a 580 credit score with a 0% seven year loan is not a sale. It’s a repossession in waiting. The government supplied student loans are going to functional illiterates who are majoring in texting, facebooking and twittering. Do you think these indebted University of Phoenix dropouts living in their parents’ basements are going to spur a housing and retail sales recovery? This Keynesian “solution” was designed to produce the appearance of recovery, convince the masses to resume their debt based consumption, and add more treasure into the vaults of the Wall Street banks.

The master plan has failed miserably in reviving the economy. Savings, capital investment, and debt reduction are the necessary ingredients for a sustained healthy economic system. Debt based personal consumption of cheap foreign produced baubles & gadgets, $1 trillion government deficits to sustain the warfare/welfare state, along with a corrupt political and rigged financial system are the explosive concoction which will blow our economic system sky high. Facts can be ignored. Media propaganda can convince the willfully ignorant to remain so. The Federal Reserve can buy every Treasury bond issued to fund an out of control government. But eventually reality will shatter the delusions of millions as the debt based Ponzi scheme will run out of dupes and collapse in a flaming heap.

The inevitable shuttering of at least 3 billion square feet of retail space is a certainty. The aging demographics of the U.S. population, dire economic situation of both young and old, and sheer lunacy of the retail expansion since 2000, guarantee a future of ghost malls, decaying weed infested empty parking lots, retailer bankruptcies, real estate developer bankruptcies, massive loan losses for the banking industry, and the loss of millions of retail jobs. Since I always look for a silver lining in a black cloud, I predict a bright future for the SPACE AVAILABLE and GOING OUT OF BUSINESS sign making companies.

SMOKING GUN FROM THE FEDERAL RESERVE MURDER OF THE MIDDLE CLASS

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Posted on 18th May 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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“Although low inflation is generally good, inflation that is too low can pose risks to the economy – especially when the economy is struggling.” Ben Bernanke

“The true measure of a career is to be able to be content, even proud, that you succeeded through your own endeavors without leaving a trail of casualties in your wake.”Alan Greenspan

There you have it – the wisdom of two Ivy League educated economists who are primarily liable for the death of the American middle class. They now receive $250,000 per speaking engagement from the crooked financial parties their monetary policies benefited; write books to try and whitewash their legacies of failure, fraud, and hubris; and bask in the glow of the corporate mainstream media propaganda storyline of them saving the world from financial Armageddon. Never have two men done so much damage to so many people, so quickly, and are not in a prison cell or swinging from a lamppost. Their crimes make Madoff look like a two bit marijuana dealer.

The self-proclaimed Great Depression “expert” Ben Bernanke peddles pabulum about inflation being too low and posing dire risk to the economy, but is blasé that swelling the Federal Reserve balance sheet debt from $900 billion in 2008 to $4.4 trillion today with his digital printing press poses any systematic risk to the country and its citizens. Either his years in academia have blinded him to the reality of his actions upon the lives of real people living in the real world, or his real constituents have not been the American people, but the Wall Street bankers that pulled his puppet strings over the last eight years.

Now that he has passed the Control-P button to Yellen, he is reaping the rewards of bailing out Wall Street and further enriching them with QEfinity. Ben earned a whopping $200,000 per year as Federal Reserve chairman. He now rakes in $250,000 per speech from the very financial interests who benefited from his traitorous monetary machinations. I don’t think he will be invited to speak at any little league banquets by formerly middle class parents whose standard of living has been declining since the 1980s. Is it a requirement that every Federal Reserve chairperson lie, obfuscate, misinform, hide the truth, and do the exact opposite of what they say they will do?

“It is not the responsibility of the Federal Reserve – nor would it be appropriate – to protect lenders and investors from the consequences of their financial decisions.” – Ben Bernanke – October 2007

Greenspan, Bernanke and Yellen have always been worried about deflation, while even the government suppressed CPI calculation reveals that inflation has risen by 108% since the day Greenspan assumed office in August 1987. The dollar has lost 52% of its purchasing power in the last 27 years of Fed induced bubbles and busts. And these scholarly academic bozos have been worried about deflation the entire time. Since Nixon closed the gold window in 1971 and unleashed the two headed inflation loving gargoyle of debt issuing bankers and feckless self-serving politicians upon the American people, the dollar has lost 83% of its purchasing power (even using the bastardized BLS figures).

Any critical thinking person with their eyes open knows the official inflation figures have been systematically understated since the 1980’s by at least 3% per year. Should the average American be more worried about deflation or inflation, based upon what has occurred during the 100 years of the Federal Reserve controlling our currency?

I’m sure Greenspan is content and proud, as he succeeded through his own endeavors in rewarding, encouraging and propagating excessive risk taking by the Wall Street cabal during his 19 year reign of error. He exited stage left as the biggest bubble in history, created by his excessively low interest rate policy, blew up and destroyed the 401ks and home values of the middle class. This was the second bubble under his monetary guidance to burst. The third bubble created by these Keynesian acolytes of easy money will burst in the near future, further impoverishing what remains of the middle class and hopefully igniting a long overdue revolution.

Greenspan’s pathetic excuse for a career has benefitted those who owned him, while leaving a trail of casualties that circles the globe. His inflationary dogma, Wall Street enriching doctrine and Keynesian motivated schemes have drained the savings and confiscated the wealth of the middle class through persistent and devastating inflation. And it was done by a man who knew exactly what he was doing.

“Under the gold standard, a free banking system stands as the protector of an economy’s stability and balanced growth… The abandonment of the gold standard made it possible for the welfare statists to use the banking system as a means to an unlimited expansion of credit… In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation” – Alan Greenspan – 1966

The abandonment of the gold standard in 1971 set in motion four decades of consumer debt accumulation on an epic scale, currency debauchment, and real wage stagnation. The consumer debt accumulation was a consequence of the American middle class being lured into debt by the Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks and their corporate media propaganda machine, as a fallacious response to stagnating real wages when their jobs were shipped to China by mega-corporations using wage arbitrage to boost quarterly profits, their stock prices, and executive bonuses.

The bottom four quintiles have made no progress over the last four decades on an inflation adjusted basis. The middle quintile, representing the middle class, has seen their real household income grow by less than 20% over the last 43 years. And this is using the understated CPI. In reality, even with two spouses working today versus one in 1971, real household income is lower today than it was in 1971.

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The more recent data, during the Greenspan/Bernanke inflationary era, is even more disconcerting and destructive. Real median household income has grown at an annualized rate of less than 0.5% over the last thirty years. During the bubblicious years from 2000 through 2014, while Wall Street used control fraud and virtually free money provided by the Fed to siphon off hundreds of billions of ill-gotten profits from the economy, the average middle class family saw their income drop and their debt load soar. This is crony capitalism success at its finest.

The oligarchs count on the fact math challenged, iGadget distracted, Facebook focused, public school educated morons will never understand the impact of inflation on their daily lives. The pliant co-conspirators in the dying legacy media regurgitate nominal government reported income figures which show median household income growing by 30% over the last fourteen years. In reality, the real median household income has FALLEN by 7% since 2000 and 7.5% since its 2008 peak. Again, using a true inflation figure would yield declines exceeding 15%.

Greenspan and Bernanke’s monetary policies loaded the gun; Wall Street bankers cocked the trigger with their no doc negative amortization mortgages, $0 down – 0% interest – 7 year subprime auto loans, introducing the home equity line ATM, and $20,000 lines on dozens of credit cards; the media mouthpieces parroted the stocks for the long run and home prices never fall bullshit storyline, encouraging Americans to pull the trigger; government apparatchiks and bought off politicians and their deficit expanding fiscal policies, pointed the gun; and the American people pulled the trigger by believing this nonsense, blowing their brains all over the fine Corinthian leather interior of their leased BMWs sitting in the driveway in front of their underwater McMansions.

Median household income in the United States peaked in 1999. The internet boom, housing boom and now QE boom have done nothing beneficial for middle class Americans. They have been left with lower real income, less home equity, no savings, and no hope for a better tomorrow. Most states saw their median household income peak over a decade ago, with more than half the states experiencing double digit declines and ten states experiencing declines of 19% or higher. It’s clear who has benefitted from the fiscal policies of spendthrift politicians and the spineless inhabitants of the Mariner Eccles Building in the squalid swamplands of Washington D.C. – the pond scum inhabiting that town. The median household income in D.C. stands at an all-time high. Winning!!!!

A former inhabitant of Washington D.C. spoke the truth about inflation and the men who benefit from it in the 1870’s. He was later assassinated.

“Who so ever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce and when you realize that the entire system is very easily controlled, one way or another, by a few powerful men at the top, you will not have to be told how periods of inflation and depression originate.” James Garfield

The Federal Reserve, a private bank representing the interests of its Wall Street owners, has been in existence for 100 years. It has managed to diminish the purchasing power of the dollar by 95%, while causing depressions, enabling never ending warfare, allowing politicians to expand the welfare state to immense unsustainable proportions, and enriched its true constituents on Wall Street beyond the comprehension of average Americans. In 2002 Ben Bernanke made his famous helicopter speech where he promised to drop dollars from helicopters to fight off the ever dangerous deflation. After the Fed created 2008 worldwide financial collapse he fired up his helicopters, but dropped trillions of dollars on only one street in America – Wall Street. He dropped turkeys on Main Street, and we all know from Les Nesman what happens when you drop turkeys from helicopters.

Les Nesman: Oh, they’re crashing to the earth right in front of our eyes! One just went through the windshield of a parked car! This is terrible! Everyone’s running around pushing each other. Oh my goodness! Oh, the humanity! People are running about. The turkeys are hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement! Folks, I don’t know how much longer… The crowd is running for their lives.

Arthur Carlson: As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

The intellectual turkeys running this treacherous institution create a new and larger crisis with each successively desperate gambit to keep their Ponzi scheme alive. Even though Greenspan, Bernanke and Yellen are highly educated, they are incapable or unwilling to focus on the practical long-term implications of their short-term measures to keep this perverted financial scheme from imploding. Denigrating savings and capital investment, while urging debt financed spending on foreign produced trinkets and gadgets passes for economic wisdom in the waning days of our empire. Courageous and truthful leaders are nowhere to be found as the country circles the drain. Farewell middle class. It was nice knowing you.

“There are men regarded today as brilliant economists, who deprecate saving and recommend squandering on a national scale as the way of economic salvation; and when anyone points to what the consequences of these policies will be in the long run, they reply flippantly, as might the prodigal son of a warning father: “In the long run we are all dead.” And such shallow wisecracks pass as devastating epigrams and the ripest wisdom.” – Henry Hazlitt – Economics in One Lesson

 

FOURTH TURNING: THE PEOPLE vs BIG BROTHER

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Posted on 8th May 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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“The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort – in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

 

“In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.

If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.

I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”Frank Church on Meet the Press regarding the NSA – 1975

Ever since Edward Snowden burst onto the worldwide stage in June 2013, I’ve been wondering how he fits into the fabric of this ongoing Fourth Turning. This period of Crisis that arrives like clockwork, 60 to 70 years after the end of the previous Fourth Turning (Civil War – 66 years after American Revolution, Great Depression/World War II – 64 years after Civil War, Global Financial Crisis – 62 years after World War II), arrived in September 2008 with the Federal Reserve created collapse of the global financial system. We are now five and a half years into this Fourth Turning, with its climax not likely until the late-2020’s. At this point in previous Fourth Turnings a regeneracy had unified sides in their cause and a grey champion or champions (Ben Franklin/Samuel Adams, Lincoln/Davis, FDR) had stepped forward to lead. Thus far, no one from the Prophet generation has been able to unify the nation and create a sense of common civic purpose. Societal trust continues to implode, as faith in political, financial, corporate, and religious institutions spirals downward. There is no sign of a unifying regeneracy on the horizon.

The core elements of this Fourth Turning continue to propel this Crisis: debt, civic decay, global disorder. Central bankers, politicians, and government bureaucrats have been able to fashion the illusion of recovery and return to normalcy, but their “solutions” are nothing more than smoke and mirrors exacerbating the next bloodier violent stage of this Fourth Turning. The emergencies will become increasingly dire, triggering unforeseen reactions and unintended consequences. The civic fabric of our society will be torn asunder.    

In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party. The catalyst will unfold according to a basic Crisis dynamic that underlies all of these scenarios: An initial spark will trigger a chain reaction of unyielding responses and further emergencies. The core elements of these scenarios (debt, civic decay, global disorder) will matter more than the details, which the catalyst will juxtapose and connect in some unknowable way. If foreign societies are also entering a Fourth Turning, this could accelerate the chain reaction. At home and abroad, these events will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric at points of extreme vulnerability – problem areas where America will have neglected, denied, or delayed needed action.” – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe

Debt

The core crisis element of debt is far worse than it was at the outset of this Crisis in September 2008. The National Debt has risen from $9.7 trillion to $17.5 trillion, an 80% increase in five and half years. It took 215 years for the country to accumulate as much debt as it has accumulated since the start of this Crisis. We continue to add $2.8 billion a day to the National debt, and the president declares it is time for this austerity to end. The total unfunded liabilities of the Federal government for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, government pensions and now Obamacare exceeds $200 trillion and is mathematically impossible to honor. Corporate debt stands at an all-time high. Margin debt is at record levels, as faith in the Federal Reserve’s ability to levitate the stock market borders on delusional. Consumer debt has reached new heights, as the government doles out subprime auto loans to deadbeats and subprime student loans to future University of Phoenix Einsteins. Global debt has surged by 40% since 2008 to over $100 trillion, as central bankers have attempted to cure a disease caused by debt with more debt.

All of this debt accumulation is compliments of Bernanke/Yellen and the Federal Reserve, who have produced this new debt bubble with their zero interest rate policy and quantitative easing that has driven their balance sheet from $935 billion of mostly Treasury bonds in September 2008 to $4.2 trillion of toxic mortgage garbage acquired from their owners – the insolvent Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks. This entire house of cards is reliant upon permanently low interest rates, the faith of foreigners in our lies, and trust in Ivy League educated economists captured by Wall Street. This debt laden house of cards sits atop hundreds of trillions of derivatives of mass destruction used by the Wall Street casinos to generate “riskless” profits. When, not if, a trigger ignites this explosive concoction of debt, the collapse will be epic and the violent phase of this Fourth Turning will commence.

Civic Decay

The core crisis element of civic decay is evident everywhere you turn. Our failed public educational system is responsible for much of the civic decay, as a highly educated critical thinking populace is our only defense against a small cabal of bankers and billionaires acquiring unwarranted influence and control over our country. Our children have been taught how to feel and to believe government propaganda. The atrocious educational system is not a mistake. It has been designed and manipulated by your owners to produce the results they desire, as explained bluntly by George Carlin.

“There’s a reason that education sucks, and it’s the same reason it will never ever ever be fixed. It’s never going to get any better, don’t look for it. Be happy with what you’ve got. Because the owners of this country don’t want that. I’m talking about the real owners now, the big, wealthy, business interests that control all things and make the big decisions. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else. But I’ll tell you what they don’t want—they don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interest.”

The urban ghettos become more dangerous and uninhabitable by the day. The inner cities are crumbling under the weight of welfare spending and declining tax revenues. The very welfare policies begun fifty years ago to alleviate poverty have hopelessly enslaved the poor and ignorant in permanent squalor and destitution. The four decade old drug war has done nothing to reduce the use of drugs. It has benefited the corporate prison industry, as millions have been thrown into prison for minor drug offenses. Meanwhile, millions more have been legally addicted to drugs peddled by the corporate healthcare complex. The culture warriors and advocates of new rights for every special interest group continue their never ending battles which receive an inordinate amount of publicity from the corporate media. Class warfare is simmering and being inflamed by politicians pushing their particular agendas. Violence provoked by race and religion is growing by the day. The fault lines are visible and the imminent financial earthquake will push distress levels beyond the breaking point. Once the EBT cards stop working, all hell will break loose. Three days of panic will empty grocery store shelves and the National Guard will be called out to try and restore control.  

Global Disorder

The core crisis element of global disorder is evident everywhere you turn. The false flag revolution in the Ukraine, initiated by the U.S. and EU in order to blunt Russia’s control of natural gas to Europe, has the potential to erupt into a full blown shooting war at any moment. The attempt by Saudi Arabia, Israel and the U.S. to overthrow the Syrian dictator in order to run a natural gas pipeline across their land into Europe was blunted by Russia. Iraq is roiled in a civil war, after the U.S. invaded, occupied and destabilized the country. After 12 years of occupation, Afghanistan is more dysfunctional and dangerous than it was before the U.S. saved them from the evil Taliban. Unrest, violent protests, and brutal measures by rulers continue in Egypt, Turkey, Thailand, Venezuela, Bahrain, Brazil, and throughout Africa. American predator drones roam the skies of the world murdering suspected terrorists. The European Union is insolvent, with Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal propped up with newly created debt. Austerity for the people and prosperity for the bankers is creating tremendous distress and tension across the continent. A global volcanic eruption is in the offing.

It is clear to me the American Empire is in terminal decline. Hubris, delusion, corruption, foolish disregard for future generations and endless foreign follies have set in motion a chain of events that will lead to a cascading sequence of debt defaults, mass poverty, collapsing financial markets, and hyperinflation or deflation, depending on the actions of feckless bankers and politicians. There is no avoiding the tragic outcome brought on by decades of bad choices and a century of allowing private banking interests to control our currency. The “emergency” QE and ZIRP responses by the Federal Reserve to the Federal Reserve created 2008 financial collapse continue, even though the propaganda peddled by the Deep State tries to convince the public we have fully recovered. This grand fraud cannot go on forever. Ponzi schemes no longer work once you run out of dupes. With societal trust levels approaching all-time lows and foreign countries beginning to understand they are the dupes, another global financial crisis is a lock.

The Snowden Factor

With ten to fifteen years likely remaining in this Fourth Turning Crisis, people familiar with generational turnings can’t help but ponder what will happen next. Linear thinkers, who constitute the majority, mistakenly believe things will magically return to normal and we’ll continue our never ending forward human progress. Their ignorance of history and generational turnings that recur like the four seasons will bite them in the ass. We are being flung forward across the vast chaos of time and our existing social order will be transformed beyond recognition into something far better or far worse. The actual events over the coming decade are unknowable in advance, but the mood and reactions of the generational archetypes to these events are predictable. The actions of individuals will matter during this Fourth Turning. The majority are trapped in their propaganda induced, techno distracted stupor of willful ignorance. It will take a minority of liberty minded individuals, who honor the principles of the U.S. Constitution and are willing to sacrifice their lives, to prevail in the coming struggle.

Despite fog engulfing the path of future events, we know they will be propelled by debt, civic decay, and global disorder. Finding a unifying grey champion figure seems unlikely at this point. I believe the revelations by Edward Snowden have set the course for future events during this Fourth Turning. The choices of private citizens, like Snowden, Assange, and Manning, have made a difference. The choices we all make over the next ten years will make a difference. A battle for the soul of this country is underway. The Deep State is firmly ingrained, controlling the financial, political and educational systems, while using their vast wealth to perpetuate endless war, and domination of the media to manipulate the masses with propaganda and triviality. They are powerful and malevolent. They will not relinquish their supremacy and wealth willingly.

Snowden has revealed the evil intent of the ruling class and their willingness to trash the Constitution in their psychopathic pursuit of mammon. The mass surveillance of the entire population, locking down of an entire city in pursuit of two teenagers, military training exercises in major metropolitan areas, militarization of local police forces by DHS, crushing peaceful demonstrations with brute force, attempting to restrict and confiscate guns, molesting innocent airline passengers, executive orders utilized on a regular basis by the president, and treating all citizens like suspects has set the stage for the coming conflict. Strauss & Howe warned that history has shown armed conflict is always a major ingredient during a Fourth Turning.

“History offers even more sobering warnings: Armed confrontation usually occurs around the climax of Crisis. If there is confrontation, it is likely to lead to war. This could be any kind of war – class war, sectional war, war against global anarchists or terrorists, or superpower war. If there is war, it is likely to culminate in total war, fought until the losing side has been rendered nil – its will broken, territory taken, and leaders captured.” The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe -1997

It appears to me the Deep State is preparing for armed conflict with the people. Why else would they be utilizing Big Brother methods of surveillance, militarization of police forces  and Gestapo like tactics of intimidation to control the masses? This doesn’t happen in a democratic republic where private individuals are supposed to know everything done by public government servants, not vice versa. They know the cheap, easy to access energy resources are essentially depleted. They know the system they have built upon a foundation of cheap energy and cheap debt is unsustainable and will crash in the near future. They know their fiat currency scheme is failing.They know it is going to come crashing down.  

They know America and the world will plunge into an era of depression, violence, and war. They also know they want to retain their wealth, power and control. There is no possibility the existing establishment can be purged through the ballot box. It’s a one party Big Brother system that provides the illusion of choice to the Proles. Like it or not, the only way this country can cast off the shackles of the banking, corporate, fascist elites, and the government surveillance state is through an armed revolution. The alternative is to allow an authoritarian regime, on par with Hitler, Stalin and Mao, to rise from the ashes of our financial collapse. This is a distinct possibility, given the ignorance and helplessness of most Americans after decades of government education and propaganda.       

The average mentally asleep American cannot conceive of armed conflict within the borders of the U.S. War, violence and dead bodies are something they see on their 52 inch HDTVs while gobbling chicken wings and cheetos in their Barcalounger. We’ve allowed a banking cartel and their central bank puppets to warp and deform our financial system into a hideous façade, sold to the masses as free market capitalism. We’ve allowed corporate interests to capture our political system through bribery and corruption.

We’ve allowed the rise of a surveillance state that has stripped us of our privacy, freedom, liberty and individuality in a futile pursuit of safety and security. We’ve allowed a military industrial complex to exercise undue influence in Washington DC, leading to endless undeclared wars designed to enrich the arms makers. We’ve allowed the corporate media and the government education complex to use propaganda, misinformation and social engineering techniques to dumb down the masses and make them compliant consumers. These delusions will be shattered when our financial and economic system no longer functions. The end is approaching rapidly and very few see it coming.

Glory or Ruin?

The scenario I envision is a collapse of our debt saturated financial system, with a domino effect of corporate, personal, and governmental defaults, exacerbated by the trillions of currency, interest rate, and stock derivatives. Global stock markets will crash. Trillions in paper wealth will evaporate into thin air. The Greater Depression will gain a choke-hold around the world. Mass bankruptcies, unemployment and poverty will sweep across the land. The social safety net will tear under the weight of un-payable entitlements. Riots and unrest will breakout in urban areas. Armed citizens in rural areas will begin to assemble in small units. The police and National Guard will be unable to regain control. The military will be called on to suppress any and all resistance to the Federal government. This act of war will spur further resistance from liberty minded armed patriots. The new American Revolution will have begun. Leaders will arise in the name of freedom. Regional and local bands of fighters will use guerilla tactics to defeat a slow top heavy military dependent upon technology and vast quantities of oil. A dictatorial regime may assume power on a Federal level. A breakup of the nation into regional states is a distinct possibility.

With the American Empire crumbling from within, our international influence will wane. With China also in the midst of a Fourth Turning, their debt bubble will burst and social unrest will explode into civil war. Global disorder, wars, terrorism, and financial collapse will lead to a dramatic decrease in oil production, further sinking the world into depression. The tensions caused by worldwide recession will lead to the rise of authoritarian regimes and global warfare. With “advances” in technological warfare and the proliferation of nuclear warheads, this scenario has the potential to end life on earth as we know it. The modern world could be set back into the stone-age with the push of a button. There are no guarantees of a happy ending for humanity.

The outcome of this Fourth Turning is dependent upon the actions of a minority of critical thinking Americans who decide to act. No one can avoid the trials and tribulations that lie ahead. We will be faced with immense challenges. Courage and sacrifice will be required in large doses. Elders will need to lead and millennials will need to carry a heavy load, doing most of the dying. The very survival of our society hangs in the balance. Edward Snowden has provided an example of the sacrifice required during this Fourth Turning. How we respond and the choices we make over the next decade will determine whether this Fourth Turning will result in glory or ruin for our nation.

“Eventually, all of America’s lesser problems will combine into one giant problem. The very survival of the society will feel at stake, as leaders lead and people follow. The emergent society may be something better, a nation that sustains its Framers’ visions with a robust new pride. Or it may be something unspeakably worse. The Fourth Turning will be a time of glory or ruin.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

Click these links to read the first two parts of this three part series:

Do No Evil Google – Censor & Snitch for the State

Google, China, the NSA and the Fourth Turning



QUOTES OF THE DAY

8 comments

Posted on 3rd February 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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“We’ve never had a decline in house prices on a nationwide basis. So, what I think what is more likely is that house prices will slow, maybe stabilize, might slow consumption spending a bit. I don’t think it’s gonna drive the economy too far from its full employment path, though.”

Ben Bernanke – July 2005

“House prices have risen by nearly 25 percent over the past two years. Although speculative activity has increased in some areas, at a national level these price increases largely reflect strong economic fundamentals.”

Ben Bernanke – October 2005

“Housing markets are cooling a bit. Our expectation is that the decline in activity or the slowing in activity will be moderate, that house prices will probably continue to rise.”

Ben Bernanke – February 2006

“Despite the ongoing adjustments in the housing sector, overall economic prospects for households remain good. Household finances appear generally solid, and delinquency rates on most types of consumer loans and residential mortgages remain low.”

Ben Bernanke – February 2007

“The Federal Reserve is not currently forecasting a recession.”

Ben Bernanke – January 2008

 

“The continuing shortages of housing inventory are driving the price gains. There is no evidence of bubbles popping.” 

David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist, August 2005

“We are really on track for a soft landing. There are no balloons popping.”

David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist, December 2005

“It appears we have established a bottom.”

David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist, January 2007