Monday, September 15, 2014

Is that Jesus on your pancake? What if the media told you that it was?

The great commotion about Urban Outfitters selling blood stained sweatshirts from Kent State is a classic case of a huge tempest in a media teapot.

Some facts, UO only offered just one sweatshirt that was a supposed a classic, that's hype "for we got a bale of crap from Goodwill for a $10 a ton & we're going to sell them to suckers for $130 each".

UO made no claims of blood stains or bullet holes, although there are some brown stains that could be blood or motor oil. The 'bullet holes' are just snags in the fabric that appear to have been made with a seam ripper or some other tool. It's also possible the shirt was simply damaged by the machine that bales clothing for the rag trade. That is where most of your clothing donations end up.

The snags that in no way resemble bullet holes appear bright red because the inside of the sweatshirt is not faded as you can see on the inside of the collar. There are some hi-res pictures on Google if you want to look at it.

The real question is how did the media find out about the shirt. Did Urban Outfitters place a tip to get publicity? That would make them every bit as bad as you care to see them.

Did the person who purchased the shirt place the tip hoping to clean up on Ebay? The reporters are quoting them, but Ebay doesn't let you sell bloody clothing and such, so suggesting that it might be a real souvenir of the shooting was dumb. Ebay has taken the listing down. It's also possible that a reporter with an overactive imagination was surfing Urban Outfitters while eating his Jesus pancakes and freaked out.

Ebay will let you sell Jesus pancakes because that's not anything real, just like this sweatshirt. I personally just eat the pancakes without naming them. I learned that in 4-H as a kid, don't make a pet (real or imaginary) out of your dinner.

Twitter @BruceEnberg - Classic farm joke - The traveling salesman asks the farmer why he has a pig with a peg leg. Farmer says, "he was too good of a pig to eat all at once". Thankyou, Thankyou, I'm here on an extended engagement, remember to tip your server and try the veal special. (don't think of them as cute baby cows and they're quite tasty)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Recycling the BS for fun and profit

The Gold Bugs are at it again, not that they ever really stopped. The latest nonsense is being sold by some quasi business reporter that claims to have a confidential informant inside the CIA. He claims that the agency is in a growing panic about China's looming attack on the USD using gold.

Supposedly the Bank of China has secretly acquired thousands of tons of gold bullion virtually eliminating the physical gold available on the open market. Stories of heavily armed convoys moving gold through the Hong Kong night are sparking the interest of people who 'invest' in gold. This is much the same as the way nearly naked bikini babes in TV commercials spark the interest of those who 'invest' in drinking beer. Either of these 'investors' are as in touch with reality as the other, well actually a beer drinker could get lucky, the gold investor will just get screwed.

The details of this clandestine gold hoarding by China vary wildly depending on whose particular sale pitch you listen to and what they're selling. Straight up gold salesmen simply predict a shortage of gold and/or the collapse of paper currency. Obama's fault of course.

Some are using it to push the idea that China is near collapse and desperately needs gold to stave this off. These salesmen are selling short positions on companies heavily invested in China since those stocks would plummet. Never mind that China's growth rate could be cut in half and still be double that of the US during the past 33 years. (since Reaganomics became the norm)

Other hucksters are selling bets against the USD by claiming a sudden huge rise in gold prices will drive the dollar through the floor. Since we haven't been trading the USD and other currencies by tying them to gold since Nixon was President, this claim seems a bit silly.

So what is really going on? It's not likely China is going to try anything flashy since they are already making money like they're the only 21st century nation on a third world planet. Are they buying gold? Sure, they buy everything that's for sale and they also mine ridiculous amounts of gold themselves.

We don't know exactly how much gold they have or want to have because we really don't have any hard numbers about anything in China that you can't see in a satellite photo. But while China has moved into the top ten of countries holding gold reserves, compared to the size of their economy they really don't have all that much.

The reality is that gold is just another commodity and while it has countless uses there is an awful lot of it. You could stop mining it now and not run out of it before the giant cockroaches have taken over the planet.

Twitter @BruceEnberg - where you'll learn things like, you can't actually see the Great Wall of China from space, it's really long, but really narrow.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The stock troll visited

I got some comments from the RWNJ Stock Broker Troll today. To summarize: he's gotten rich even though he's never made much money in salary. He eschews Treasury bonds (reality: people who were in bonds before the crash made a huge return).

He never keeps money in banks. When the stock market crashes, he says "Buy more!". Okay where does the cash come from to do that if he never puts money in banks or bonds? His Mattress?

He gave me every cliche that stock brokers use rope in the suckers. I won't post any of them, I'm sure he gets paid for each one. Something to bring in an extra buck besides greeting at Walmart.

I particularly liked his comment on the mongoose eating the Tea Party snake "Only the ignorant allow others to fuck them over. Get educated. You have a brain use it". He doesn't want you to get educated, he wants you to repeat his talking points and buy stocks from his boss.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Are you Pent-up?

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen just introduced a new term into Fed Speak', "pent-up wage deflation". This seems to be an effort to explain away the problem of stagnant wages in the US economy that are not allowing the Fed to meet its 2% inflation goal by blaming it on the "inability or unwillingness of US firms to drastically cut wages" after the Bush collapse in 2008. This according to the Fed is making it possible for companies to now expand employment without raising wages. Ms Yellen did acknowledge that real wages had been declining for some time prior to the crash (real wages have been declining for 33 years, but who's counting).

Deflation is always the goal of an economic collapse as this further enriches the hoarders of cash since they can buy more assets for 10 cents on the dollar, and drastically increases the burden on anyone who is in debt since they now owe a much bigger percentage of their declining income on devalued property.

The conclusion that the Fed has jumped to is that wages could start to rise rapidly once this 'pent-up wage deflation' that's currently causing stagnation in wages is exhausted. Companies would suddenly be forced to start paying significantly more for labor. In that light they're planning to end their QE3 bond buying program in October. This happens to be just in time for the election. If this happens to trigger a huge decline in the Stock Market (as investors return to bonds), I wonder who the voters will blame for this even if the economy itself is in an accelerated recovery?

You can bet the corporate networks will be dutifully telling everyone about the billions that disappeared from their 401(k), never mentioning that their 401(k)s must inevitably lose money because looting them is where Wall Street is getting their billions from. Nobody in their right mind should put money into a 401(k), it ranks up there with planning your retirement around buying lottery tickets.

Twitter @BruceEnberg - where we are not 'pent-up'.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Too Big to Fail is dragging its size trillion feet

New unemployment claims rose above 311,000 last week, but the 5 week moving average is still as low as it's been since early 2006. There were 209,000 new jobs in July increasing the record for the number of consecutive months of job growth to 53. The April and May new jobs numbers were both revised upward by 5,000 and 10,000 respectively to 229,000 and 298,000 new jobs.

Job openings in U.S. rose by 94,000 to 4.67 million in June indicating an economy on the rebound, this was further confirmed by a 4% growth in GDP during the second quarter. This included a substantial increase in imports which are subtracted from the GDP. We'd have a much more robust economy without our trillion dollar annual trade deficit thanks to 'free' trade.

Under the Dodd Frank Act the really large financial institutions, also known as the "too big to fail" banks, are required to submit plans that allow for their complete dissolution should they in anyway endanger the United States as they did under the Bush Administration. Those plans were submitted some time back and upon review they were summarily trashed by the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC). Their joint conclusion was that the bankruptcy plans submitted by all eleven big banks make "unrealistic or inadequately supported" assumptions and "fail to make, or even to identify, the kinds of changes needed to simplify their corporate structures".

The regulators then gave them a year to make "significant progress". Sounds like the banks are conspiring to drag this out hoping for a change in Administrations. The biggest banks are still making their livings off of Repurchase Agreements or derivatives. These worthless pieces of paper are what crashed the banks last time and regulators under the Bush Administration claimed they had no authority to seize the insolvent "too big to fail" banks as the FDIC did with thousands of smaller banks. If this provision of Dodd Frank were taken seriously, most or all of these "too big to fail" banks would be seized now for failing to comply with the law.

Under Dodd Frank the regulators do have the authority to act if anyone actually has the will to go forward against the richest of the rich. The requirement that the banks themselves create 'living wills' was supposed to make the task manageable, but these banks are really just undead blood suckers, so planning for their own deaths isn't in their nature. They should simply be turned to dust now instead of waiting for them to create another crisis endangering civilization itself.

Banks of this size serve no useful function but instead siphon off trillions of dollars from the economy in a combination of billions for themselves, and from the damage they do to the rest of us with the power they wield in politics, government agencies and the economy.

The largest banks should be run directly by the Treasury Dept, the individual states should have their own banks like North Dakota does, consumer and commercial banks should all be member owned cooperatives commonly know as Credit Unions. Having three types of banks would provide the necessary competition to provide a way to disclose any structural problems.

This would give us even better growth than we had before the New Deal was dismantled by Reagan and his friends as the moneyed elite would have no leverage to undo reforms. That's not to say we wouldn't need to be vigilant, co-ops can be captured by their management. The Soviet Union was run by its management class as was Fascist Italy, and we're very nearly to that point here now. Education is the only effective deterrent, that's why Conservatives are determined to control education at all levels and control the media as well.  

Twitter @BruceEnberg - unless you're too big to fail.


Friday, July 25, 2014

We're not Fair and Balanced, we tell the truth.

New unemployment claims dipped to 284,000 in the past week, and this is the lowest number since the week of February 18 2006. This was about the time that it became apparent that the Bush Depression was going to happen. History tells us that without significant gov't intervention it takes about ten years to recover from a Bank Panic, that's what they used to call these things prior to the New Deal that made bank crashes impossible to happen. Of course Reagan, Bush, Clinton & Bush undid all of those regulations and safeguards with the predictable result.

So now we're seeing the recovery start to pick up speed, but let's be clear, it's not because Obama has been able to do much to fix things. He just hasn't done any new damage and has more or less kept the Republicans in check. Corporate America is another matter, despite record stock prices, record profits, record CEO salaries and trillions in cash on hand they are refusing to invest at pre-crash levels. Just returning to those levels of investment would create 2 million new jobs, but they'll have none of it, and why should they? Things are going swimmingly for the very few at the top and it only stands to get better for them as the US drifts into its place as the largest third world economy.

The Federal Reserve has been trying to force their greedy corporate hands by creating inflation with only modest results. The Fed is basically too timid to take the kind of 'reckless' action that it would take to convince corporate America that they'd better try harder to make money, or watch their personal holdings evaporate to inflation. Or maybe they're really all in on it, or at least enough votes on the Fed Board are complicit to keep them from doing much more than keeping deflation from happening. That was the purpose of holding trillions in cash, we had been certain to a classic deflation spiral that would have allowed the cash hoarders to buy assets for 10 cents on the dollar. A 1000% profit is far better than working for a living.

Congress could easily intervene with tax policies to stimulate corporate activity, and by re-criminalizing the practice of paying CEOs with stock, basically undoing the Reagan Revolution. Requiring the DOJ to actually enforce the Sherman Antitrust Act from Progressive era of the 19th century as well as the New Deal laws that haven't been undone would do much to stimulate corporate activity. None of that is going to happen as long as there is a Conservative majority on Capitol Hill.

There is some movement among Democrats to start acting like Democrats. A number of liberals in Congress actually understand economics and Progressive policy are starting hold sway with their colleagues. It helps that the Reagan Democrats are facing extinction, the guys with lunch pails and 401(k)s are all retiring only to find that their college educated kids are raising the grand kids in the basement. Change is in the air, and it's got the pungent smell of dirty diapers. Some people are finding the saying, "hold your nose and vote Democratic" has a whole new meaning.

Twitter @BruceEnberg where we're not "Fair and Balanced", we tell the truth.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Anti Corporation Day

The economy added 288,000 jobs in June according to reports from employers. The numbers for April and May were revised upward by 29,000 total, this indicates the five month positive trend is continuing to strengthen. The household survey conducted by the Census Bureau for the Department of labor showed a two tenths drop in the unemployment rate to 6.1%.

Over at Fox News they took this jobs report so hard that you would have thought Reagan's head had fallen from Mount Rushmore. Shhh... they think he's really up there with the Presidents that actually did something. Their business expert Charles Payne went on about how this would be really bad for the stock market, and he's also the same one that says things like, 'It Gets A Little Comfortable To Be In Poverty'. It seems his only qualification to be a business commentator is that he hates all things democratic, any sort of safety net for workers, and he firmly believes in the 'free market' fairy to solve all problems. 

The average hourly wage was up another six cents in June to $24.42, this is an increase of 2% over this time last year and staying ahead of core inflation. But, when you consider that the minimum wage should really about $22/hour you get to the real reason the American Dream is dead, it's because the average wage is only ten percent above what the floor should be.  For many people there isn't enough to live on, and the majority have little or no disposable income. 

Plus we have the people at the very bottom getting subsidized with government money. Each Walmart store sucks up between one and two million dollars in benefits to its employees because they are simply paid too little to live on. The total workers receive is actually equal to Walmart's annual profits. Walmart is not an incredibly efficient competitor in the retail market as it portrays itself, it's simply powerful and ruthless. 

Since it's the eve of July 4th, let's remember that the Revolutionary War was fought simply to break the monopoly of the British East India Company. It wasn't about the Colonists being mad because they had to pay taxes, they weren't tea baggers. It was because British East India Company had recently been exempted from any taxes & had all the taxes it had ever paid refunded. Talk about your Corporate Welfare. 

The Colonists were also fearful of the increasing harsh treatment that the Walmart of the day was encouraging the British government to engage in, all in the name of corporate profits of course. American ships were labeled as smugglers and the manufacture of goods that the Corporation choose to trade in was prohibited in the colonies. And since most of Parliament and the King were shareholders, they had no interest in hearing the grievances of middle class Americans. Sound familiar? They were all Conservatives after all.

Twitter @BruceEnberg - Happy Anti-Corporation Day!