Many benefit programs have gone high tech with debit cards and J.P. Morgan Chase and others are making a pretty penny charging users fees. What is there to be done?
The Agricultural Act of 2014, signed into law by President Obama last Friday, includes $8 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over the next decade. One way the bill proposes to accomplish these savings is by reducing food stamp fraud. When the new farm bill is enacted, many of America’s hardest working families will experience cuts in services and have trouble putting food on their family’s table. But there will be major gains for an industry that most Americans might not expect: banking.
Banks reap hefty profits helping governments make payments to individuals, business that only got better when agencies switch from making payments on paper—checks and vouchers—to electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards. EBT cards look and work like debit cards, and by 2002, had entirely replaced the stamp booklets that gave the food stamp program its name. SNAP is the most well-known program delivered via EBT, but they also carry payments for Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF); Women, Infants and Children (WIC); childcare subsidies; state general assistance; and many other programs. EBT use is widespread, from the corner store to the supercenter. According to a 2012 USDA report, SNAP funds, averaging $133 per family member per month, can be spent at more than 246,000 authorized stores, farmers’ markets, farms, and meal providers nationwide.
Not only are the operating costs of delivering benefits by EBT lower—no paper checks to cut, envelopes to stuff, or postage to pay—but electronic forms of payment allow banks to multiply opportunities for revenue generation. Banks hold contracts with federal, state, and municipal agencies to provide EBT cards and services, collect interest on federal reserve money held for government programs (though not on SNAP funds), charge transaction fees for merchant use of bank technology and infrastructure, and levy penalties on users for EBT card loss, out-of-network use, and balance inquiries. Banks make money distributing government benefits if the economy is bad, because more people sign up for assistance; they make money if the economy is good, because rising interest rates mean more profit on the money they hold to distribute to beneficiaries.
Distributing government benefits is a lucrative industry. According to theGovernment Accountability Institute, J.P. Morgan Chase, which currently controls EBT contracts in 21 states, Guam, and the Virgin Islands, made more than half a billion dollars between 2004 and 2012 providing government benefits to U.S. citizens. In New York alone, J.P. Morgan Electronic Financial Services (EFS) holds a nine-year, $177 million EBT services contract with the State Office of Temporary and Disability Services (OTDA). New York currently pays $0.95 per month for each its 1.7 million SNAP cases. In addition, J.P. Morgan EFS collects penalties and fees from benefit recipients: $5 to replace a lost EBT card, $0.40 for each balance inquiry, $0.50 each time their cards are declined for insufficient funds, and $1.50 per withdrawal if they use ATMs to get cash more than once a month. While information about profit margins on EBT contracts is neither collected at the national level nor released by banks, EBT is a significant growth area for big banks. Last year, the Federal Reserve Payments Study reported that the number of EBT transactions more than doubled since 2006.
Electronic benefits delivery is such a rewarding business that banks seem to fear only two things: policy changes and bad publicity. The publicity problems of EBT programs became obvious over the last three months of 2103 when three major EBT system failure scandals erupted. The threat of policy change is perhaps less visible. New regulations could take distribution of these benefits out of the hands of for-profit banks, limit the fees they are able to collect, or mandate a switch from EBT cards to different kinds of electronic funds transfer with fewer opportunities for generating revenue, such as direct deposit. But banks have nothing to fear in the new Agricultural Act; it’s only good news for the finance sector.
The new farm bill lowers benefit levels somewhat, exempts new categories of people—college students, ex-felons, and lottery winners—from SNAP eligibility, and prohibits advertising to increase enrollment of eligible individuals, like radio and television campaign launched by the USDA in 2004. But the bill’s sponsor, Representative Frank Lucas (R-OK), and other members of the House Committee on Agriculture seem to trust that detecting and preventing fraud will accomplish much of the hoped-for savings. The new Act includes numerous fraud-fighting provisions, including those that:
- Require merchants to maintain unique terminal identification numbers for point of sale machines, further restrict the kinds of food that can be bought with SNAP, and bar manual sales of food items without bar codes;
- Improve procedures and technologies to facilitate state-to-state and state-to-federal information sharing;
- Invite federal-state collaborative pilot projects to “identify, investigate, and reduce fraud” by merchants; and
- Set aside $40 million to help the USDA store information, such as food purchase data from chain stores and loyalty card companies, and data-mine it, by linking store sales and EBT transaction data at the household level to uncover purchasing patterns, for example.
In short, the SNAP fraud provisions will increase the ability of state and federal agencies to track who bought what food, where, and for how much. A vast amount of information on the purchases of millions of U.S. citizens will be collected by state agencies and private entities, stored by the USDA, and data-mined for patterns of EBT use that indicate fraud.
Why will this intensified focus on fraud work out so well for banks? First, banks innovate and control the most cutting-edge technologies that detect and prevent fraud in electronic funds transfer. The financial sector employs armies of computer programmers, IT specialists, and software engineers, and banks hold dozens of patents on biometric technology, data-mining systems, and payment tracking software. State and federal agencies can develop fraud-fighting code and procedures themselves, but many lack sufficient capacity and choose instead to contract with banks. Florida, for example, piloted an eight-month EBT abuse detection project in 2012 that was staffed by both J.P. Morgan and state employees, as Peter Schweizer reported in The Daily Beast. The anti-fraud provisions of the farm bill, thus, provide a significant opportunity for more, and more lucrative, contracts for banks.
Second, fraud in food stamps, despite public perceptions, is already low, and getting from very little fraud to zero fraud is prohibitively expensive. This is especially true for trafficking—the trading of SNAP benefits for cash—the most common form of SNAP fraud. Merchants and recipients must work together to traffic SNAP benefits. Recipients approach a merchant, who might offer 50 cents on the dollar to convert food stamps to cash. The merchant runs the EBT card, hands over cash, and then reports sales for reimbursement by the Treasury. Current fraud detection and prevention focuses on suspicious patterns—merchants who claim lots of even-dollar sales, recipients who spend all of their SNAP benefits in the first week of the month—but traffickers have adjusted quickly, learning to input odd dollar amounts and to spread requests for reimbursement over time.
The USDA estimates that the amount of SNAP benefits being trafficked has been reduced by 145 percent since 1993. According to a March 2011 Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) report, for the period of 2006-2008, trafficking diverted about 1 cent of each benefit dollar. Trafficking is difficult to detect and prevent, because retailers and recipients who commit fraud adapt as fast as banks, states, and the USDA can develop new data-mining and investigative procedures. This fraud-detection arms race is expensive and time-consuming for government agencies and contractors, and adds cumbersome limits and procedures for users—both merchants and recipients—most of whom aren’t committing fraud.
What cost are we willing to bear to reduce SNAP fraud to less than a penny per dollar? Federal and state government agencies invest astronomical sums in high-tech tools to address a financially negligible problem. For comparison’s sake, while we lose $330 million a year to SNAP trafficking, Ashlea Ebeling of Forbesestimates that the U.S. government loses $40 to $70 billion a year to offshore tax evasion. Nevertheless, in 2012, the FNS conducted 4,396 undercover investigations of retail grocers suspected of fraud, at an undisclosed cost to taxpayers, identifying violations in about 40 percent of cases. In 2011, Alabama’s RFP for EBT services strongly encouraged potential vendors to “recommend the use of new and innovative technologies” to “improve detection and prevention of fraud” and integrate biometrics in their proposals for the state’s SNAP program. The five-year Alabama contract, worth $51 million, went to Xerox, the same company that denied SNAP users in 17 states access to food for several hours when they shut down their EBT system without any warning last October.
Third, only three firms handle the majority of EBT contracts with states and U.S. territories: J.P. Morgan EFS (23 contracts); Xerox State and Local Solutions, Inc. (17 contracts); and eFunds Corporation, a subsidiary of FIS Global (11 contracts). On February 10, J.P. Morgan confirmed that it plans to sell its prepaid card business, including U.S. Public Sector and EBT programs, after suffering a serious data breach on debit cards used at Target stores and facing inquiries from Connecticut and New York about its lack of sufficient privacy safeguards and high card fees. This may leave even fewer players in the mix, and that’s a bad thing, according to Michele Simon, author of the report, “Food Stamps, Follow the Money: Are Corporations Profiting From Hungry Americans?”, who provided a copy of the New York/J.P. Morgan EBT contract for this story. When so few firms control such significant market share, it implies limited competition and excessive market power. Simon suggests, in fact, that the recent changes to SNAP represent a large, mostly overlooked corporate subsidy. “The real policy challenge in SNAP is not fraud. It is the fact that we have an $80 billion a year program that does not solve hunger, and certainly does not provide good nutrition, but instead is a boon for banks, big box retailers, and junk food companies.”
If banks are secret winners, the losers are pretty clear: taxpayers, particularly those who receive nutritional support through the SNAP program. That’s one in seven Americans at this moment, and 52 percent of all Americans at some point in their lifetimes, according to Mark Rank, author of One Nation, Underprivileged: Why American Poverty Affects Us All. Put simply, the Agricultural Act of 2014 takes money from a program that serves the majority of Americans and gives it to banks and high-tech companies.
But it does something else. These provisions improve a system meant to collect information on the food purchases of more than half of the U.S. population, and fund the development of increasingly sophisticated technology to sift and analyze it. In the same year that we expressed shock and outrage that the NSA is collecting meta-information on our cellphone calls and Google searches, why are we acquiescing, even welcoming, a sophisticated new program to collect American consumer information? Do we really want the federal and state governments data-mining our grocery lists?
We need a solution that contains bank profits and prevents this kind of mass surveillance. The answer’s simple: stop trying to predict fraud, eliminate complicated rules about what can and cannot be bought with food stamps, and switch to direct deposit.
A key challenge of this solution is connecting benefits recipients with affordable bank accounts, because for-profit banks are not particularly interested in low-balance, high-transaction customers. But, according to Aleta Sprague, policy analyst in the Asset Building Program at the New America Foundation, strategies that focus on eliminating barriers to bank accounts will provide significant benefits for poor and working Americans. Connecting benefits recipients to the financial mainstream poses real challenges to both the public assistance system and current financial practices, but there are intriguing experiments already underway. In Washington state, for example, a collaboration of the Department of Commerce and Burst for Prosperity is connecting households on public assistance with affordable banking services and requiring that no-fee accounts be included in future EBT provider contracts.
“Instead of seeking to monitor and regulate every purchase a low-income consumer makes,” says Sprague, “we should recognize and capitalize on the potential of the public assistance system to serve as a mechanism for financial inclusion. That way, rather than constructing the safety net around distrust of the poor, we would leverage the system to increase families’ financial autonomy and capabilities.”
Direct deposit is more efficient, cheaper, and requires less administrative oversight. That’s why the IRS, Social Security, and Unemployment Insurance encourage us to use it. What direct deposit would not allow is paternalistic rules about how public assistance beneficiaries choose to use their resources to best support their families. Treating SNAP recipients like the reasonable, hard-working adults they are is not only simpler and less expensive; it is most just.
“Speculators may do no harm as bubbles on a steady stream of enterprise. But the position is serious when enterprise becomes the bubble on a whirlpool of speculation. When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done.” – John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money
It’s too bad Keynes isn’t around today to see how the toxic combo of financial engineering, central bank liquidity and fraud have transformed the world’s biggest economy into a hobbled, crisis-prone invalid that’s unable to grow without giant doses of zero-rate heroin and mega-leverage crack-cocaine. This is exactly what the British economist warned about more than half a century ago in his magnum opus, “The General Theory…”, that you can’t build a vital, prosperous economy on the ripoff, Ponzi scams of Wall Street charlatans, mountebanks and swindlers. It can’t be done. And, yet– here we are again– in the middle of another historic asset-price bubble conceived and engineered by the bubbleheaded crackpots at the Federal Reserve. Go figure?
Just take a look at housing, which is at the end of an astonishing 18-month run that was entirely precipitated by what?
Consumer confidence, bigger incomes, credit expansion, growing revenues, pent-up demand?
No, no, no, no and no. Economic fundamentals played no part in the so called housing rebound. In fact–as everyone knows–the economy stinks as bad today as it did 4 years ago when the government number-crunchers announced the end of the recession. The reason prices have been rising is because of the Fed’s loosy-goosey monetary policy (fake rates and QE), inventory suppression, bogus gov mortgage modification programs, and unprecedented speculation. (mainly Private Equity and investors groups) Those are the four legs of the stool propping up housing. Only now it looks like a couple of those legs are in the process of being sawed off which is going to put downward pressure on sales and prices. Take a look at this from DS News:
“A majority of experts surveyed by Zillow and Pulsenomics expect large-scale investors will pull out of the housing market in the next few years…
Out of 110 economists, real estate experts, and investment strategists surveyed in Zillow’s latest Home Value Index, 57 percent said they think institutional investors will work to sell the majority of homes in their portfolios “in the next three to five years.” These investors are largely credited with propping up housing during its recession, helping to keep sales volumes from plummeting too far.
While their withdrawal will most certainly affect today’s still-fragile market—79 percent of those surveyed said the impact would be “significant or somewhat significant” should investor activity curtail this year.”
Experts Predict Level Playing Field as Investors Withdraw, DS News
This is what we were afraid of from the very beginning, that the big PE firms would pack-it-in and move on once they’d made a killing, which they have, since prices soared 12 percent in one year. Now they want to get out while they getting is good, which means that–in some of the hotter markets where investors represented upwards of 50 percent of all purchases–there will have to be a new source of demand. Unfortunately, the demand for housing has never been weaker.
Sales are down, purchase applications are down, and the country’s homeownership rate has slipped to levels not seen since 1995, 18 years ago. The Fed’s $1 trillion purchase of mortgage backed securities (MBS) and zero rates have done nothing to stimulate “organic” consumer demand. Zilch. No “trickle down” at all. All the policy has done is generate a temporary surge of speculation that’s distorted prices and created conditions for another big bust. Get a load of this article from Housing Perspectives:
“Although household growth is the major driver of housing demand, getting an accurate picture of recent trends in this measure is difficult…In its recent release, the HVS reported annual household growth of just 448,800 in 2013. This represents a 48 percent drop in household growth relative to that from 2012 and marked the lowest annual household growth measure since 2008, in the depths of the Great Recession (Figure 1).
Source: US Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey
Repeat: “…a 48 percent drop in household growth relative to that from 2012 and marked the lowest annual household growth measure since 2008, in the depths of the Great Recession.”
Do you really think there are enough firsttime homebuyers in out there in Mortgageland to fill that gap?
In your dreams! Keep in mind, that a lot of firsttime homebuyers are collage grads who want to start a family and put down roots. Regrettably, nearly half of those potential buyers have been scrubbed from the list due to their burgeoning student loans which now exceed $1 trillion. These kids will probably never own a home, let-alone have a positive impact on sales in 2014. Ain’t gonna happen.
Maybe this is why the banks are suddenly speeding up their foreclosure filings, because they want to offload more of their distressed inventory before prices fall. Is that it? Check out this article on Housingwire:
“Monthly foreclosure filings — including default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — reversed course and increased 8% to 124,419 in January from December, according to the latest report from RealtyTrac.
This marks the 40th consecutive month where foreclosure activity declined on an annual basis, with filings down 18% from January…
As a whole, 57,259 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process for the first time in January, rising 10% from December…
…this month’s foreclosure starts increased from a year ago in 22 states, including Maryland (up 126%), Connecticut (up 82%), New Jersey (up 79%), California (up 57%), and Pennsylvania (up 39%).
Scheduled foreclosure auctions jumped 13% in January compared to the previous month.”RealtyTrac: Monthly foreclosure filings reverse course, rise 8%, Housingwire
Like most articles on housing, you have to sift through the bullshit to figure out what’s really going on, but it’s worth the effort. The banks have been dragging their feet for 40 months now, slowing down the foreclosure process (and adding to the shadow supply of distressed homes.) in order to push up prices hoping to ignite another boom. Now–after 3 and a half years of blatant collusion–they’ve done a 180 and started speeding up foreclosures. Why?
It’s because they agree with the above-mentioned “110 economists, real estate experts, and investment strategists” who think that “institutional investors” are going to call-it-quits and move on to greener pastures. That’s going to push down prices, which means they’re going to lose money. So they want to get ahead of the curve and dump more houses on the market before the stampede. That way, they lose less money.
Keep in mind, the banks are up-to-their-eyeballs in distressed inventory. Even conservative estimates of shadow backlog puts the figure of 90-day delinquent or worse, above 3 million homes. But if you review the gloomier prognostications, the sum could easily exceed 6 million homes, enough to suck the entire bleeding banking system into a black hole of insolvency. There was an interesting article on the topic in Bloomberg last week. It seems that, “bond king” Jeffrey Gundlach has been warning mortgage-backed security purchasers that they should to pay more attention to underlying collateral in MBSs (vacant homes, that is) which have been “rotting away” for “six years” or more. Here’s a clip from the article:
“The housing market is softer than people think,” Mr. Gundlach said, pointing to a slowdown in mortgage refinancing, shares of homebuilders that have dropped 13% since reaching a high in May, and the time it’s taking to liquidate defaulted loans…
About 32% of seriously delinquent borrowers, those at least 90 days late, haven’t made a payment in more than four years, up 7% from the beginning of 2012, according to Fitch analyst Sean Nelson.
“These timelines could still increase for another year or so,” Mr. Nelson said, leading to even higher losses because of added legal and tax costs, and a greater potential for properties to deteriorate.”
Gundlach Counting Rotting Homes Makes Subprime Bear, Bloomberg
Let me get this straight: The number of “seriously delinquent borrowers” has actually gone up in the last year? Not only that, but many of these people “haven’t made a payment in more than four years”?
That’s a mighty fine recovery you got there, Mr. Bernanke. Sheesh.
Keep in mind, the backlog of unwanted homes could be a lot bigger than most people think. Way bigger. I was reading an article by Keith Jurow the other day, (“The Coming Mortgage Delinquency Disaster”, Keith Jurow, dshort.com) that paints a pretty grim picture of what is really going on behind the faux inventory numbers. Jurow–who has done extensive research on pre-foreclosure notice filings in New York state– says: “The number of monthly foreclosure filings in Suffolk County on Long Island …(were) more than 180,000 (while) fewer than 1,000 foreclosure filings had been served each month in (the last 4 years). By this calculation, Jurow figures that there should have been 1,192,000 foreclosures in New York state while the actual percentage of homes that have been repossessed remains in the single digits. (Read the whole article here.)
Chew on that for a minute. So, that’s a total of 180,000 homeowners who would have faced foreclosure under normal conditions, while less than 48,000 have actually been foreclosed. That’s 132,000 fewer foreclosures than there should have been IN JUST ONE COUNTY IN ONE STATE ALONE.”
The reason the prodigious shadow stockpile continues to balloon is quite simple, as Jurow points out in his piece: “Servicers do not foreclose on seriously delinquent borrowers throughout the entire NYC metro area. Completed foreclosures have actually declined rather dramatically throughout the nation in the past two years. The difference is that in the NYC metro, the servicers have not been foreclosing since the spring of 2009.”
So, there you have it; the banks haven’t been foreclosing because it hasn’t been in their interest to foreclose. Foreclosure sales push down prices which batters balance sheets and scares shareholders. Who wants that? So the game goes on. Only now, the dynamic is changing. Skittish investors are eyeing the exits, QE is winding down, and housing prices have peaked. The recovery has reached its zenith, which is why the bankers want get off on the top floor before the elevator begins its bumpy descent.
People who are thinking about buying a house in the near future, should watch developments in the market closely and proceed with extreme caution. No one wants to get burned in another bank swindle.
Matt Drudge, owner and publisher of the “Drudge Report,” recently tweeted a cryptic warning to his readers, “Have an exit plan.” Here is how Susan Duclos reported the story in BeforeItsNews.com:
“The economic indicators are bad, markets, the weakening dollar, banks preventing large withdrawals, news of China banks halting all cash transfers, in fact, economies across the globe are failing, and much more has led to a simple, four word Tweet from American political commentator and the creator and editor of the Drudge Report, Matt Drudge, that chillingly states ‘Have an exit plan.’”
Duclos also wrote, “Drudge’s words should be a warning to everyone, it is coming, it is almost here and ‘have an exit plan’ ready.”
See the report here:
The Drudge Report is one of the finest news sources on the Web. Matt is well connected. This is the first time I have known of him to write such a warning–as mysterious as it was. No, I do not know what Matt learned to cause him to write this warning; but I do believe we should all pay attention to it.
I know it’s hard for most Americans to believe that something cataclysmic could ever happen to this country, but all of the signs on the horizon indicate that things simply cannot continue as they are for a whole lot longer. The stock markets are being manipulated by the Feds, as are the precious metals markets. Unemployment is vastly greater than what is being officially reported. Hyperinflation is a looming probability. The Feds are printing money like there is no tomorrow. Congress is totally unwilling to control its spending habits no matter which political party is in the majority. Republicans and Democrats alike continue to smash the so-called “debt ceiling.” Federal courts are unwilling to rein-in an out-of-control White House that seems determined to trample and ignore the Bill of Rights. Several countries are desperately trying to find a way to dump the dollar. U.S. foreign policy has made enemies of practically every nation on earth–as has the NSA’s global snooping. Our military is weaker and more demoralized than at any time in recent memory–maybe ever. China and Russia continue to unite militarily. More Americans are expatriating out of the country than at any time in our country’s history. Local and State law enforcement personnel more and more resemble Storm Troopers rather than peace officers. The America that was once the most envied nation in the world is now the most despised. Government corruption at the highest levels mirrors those of banana republics. For the most part, the Church in America is impotent and irrelevant. And, culturally-speaking, honesty and decency are practically non-existent. This is a recipe for disaster.
Unlike the days of America’s first Great Depression, most of us now live in major metropolitan areas. Can one imagine what life would be like in any major city in America today should normalcy be interrupted for more than a few days? Has everyone forgotten what New Orleans looked like following Hurricane Katrina? In any kind of area-wide emergency, there are about four hours (you read it right: HOURS) worth of food and supplies on store shelves–and the same with fuel at the gas pumps. And can you imagine what that big city of yours is going to look like when the welfare checks are not delivered?
I know. I know. Every time I touch on this subject, I hear from hundreds of Christian people saying things like, “Chuck, my exit plan is Jesus is coming” or “God has it all under control,” etc. But most of those same people lock their doors at night and give their teenagers (or even children) cell phones “just in case.” Many have AAA or similar plans for travel emergencies. Most of them have car insurance and homeowner’s insurance. Most have some sort of retirement plan–or wish they did. Most of them tell their wives and daughters to avoid the “bad” parts of town. Every day they routinely put in practice commonsense plans for their family’s safety. So, why is it every time the subject of having a plan for some sort of a national emergency comes up, they get all holier-than-thou and start talking about Jesus coming back?
First of all, most of America’s pastors and churches are doing nothing to help their people make commonsense preparations for any number of looming disasters. In fact, they are fueling the passiveness and indifference most people are drowning in. In the second place, the establishment media is deliberately hiding and obfuscating the truth. In the third place, too many politicians are so consumed with their own lust for wealth and power, that they would do anything to keep the American people in the dark. And, yes, some of them are actually ignorant themselves and are immersed in their own darkness. And, beyond that, the American people continue to turn their backs on honest political candidates–who know what’s going on and would truly make a gallant effort to turn the ship of state around–and elect the same kinds of establishment elitists (regardless of party) who only want to maintain the status quo.
Ladies and gentlemen, this party is almost over. The charade is about to be exposed. Whether it be by divine judgment or the natural result of all of this corruption and graft (probably both), America is going to be forced to pay the bills. And it’s not going to be pretty.
Government agencies are not buying up millions of rounds of hollow-point ammunition for target practice. First it was the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), then it was the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), then the Social Security Administration (SSA), then the Department of Education (DE), then the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and now it’s the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). That’s right. The Post Office is making mega-purchases of ammunition.
See this report:
But when Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) recently introduced a bill that would have overturned a federal ban that prohibits citizens who possess concealed weapon permits from carrying inside post offices, members of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee voted to kill the bill–including Montana Senator Jon Tester, Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor, and Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu. Obviously, elitists love it when government employees are armed but private citizens are not.
And I can tell you for a fact that there is a host of federal law enforcement personnel–who know what is going on–that are personally leading their own families to prepare for bad times. Many economists are doing the same thing.
The Scripture states, “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.” (Proverbs 22:3 KJV) Famous Bible commentators Karl Keil and Friedrich Delitzsch quote the verse this way: “The prudent man arises from his perceiving an evil standing before him; he sees the approaching overthrow of a decaying house, or in a sudden storm the fearful flood, and betimes [early] betakes himself to a place of safety; the simple [foolish], on the contrary, go blindly forward into the threatening danger, and must bear the punishment of their carelessness.”
Ladies and gentlemen, America’s house is decaying; there is an evil standing before us; the fearful flood will come; and the sudden storm will strike. How we respond before that happens will reveal our prudence or our foolishness. I’m with Matt Drudge: “Have an exit plan.” This is especially true if you live in or near a big city.
P.S. I highly recommend Joel Skousen’s well-researched book, “Strategic Relocation.” It is chock-full of helpful information regarding dangerous and safe places and what to do about it. Learn about Skousen’s book here:
The corporate media would have us believe that the nation is in the midst of an economic recovery.
In the shadow of the approaching mid-term elections, the president cites the number of jobs created and speaks optimistically about America’s economic future. The future is indeed bright, but only if you are among the wealthiest one percent of the population.
For instance, since the 2007 recession, the greatest crisis of capitalism in 75 years, corporate profits have risen, CEO salaries and bonuses are at record levels and the stock market is soaring. By contrast, workers’ wages have stagnated for more than four decades, benefits are either few or non-existent, and workers are encumbered with debt that forces them to perform multiple jobs— if they can find them—in order to survive.
Jobs that offer long-term security and a living wage are scarce even for those with university degrees. Adjusted for inflation, today’s workers are worse off than they were in the late 1960s.
Whose economic recovery is this?
According to economic forecaster Gerald Celente, 90 percent of the jobs created in 2013 were part-time, most of them paying low wages and providing no benefits. Student loan debt exceeds $1.1 trillion, a number that surpasses the combined credit card liability of the nation.
These debts cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. The big banks and corporations that finance political campaigns have no such restrictions placed upon them.
Even the unemployment figures are deceiving. According to the latest government data, unemployment is at 6.7 percent. In reality, that number is probably closer to 17 or 18 percent, according to economist Richard Wolff.
The government does not count people whose unemployment benefits have expired or those who have given up looking for work. A cashier working 10 hours a week at Food Lion is counted as fully employed.
We have students, many of them burdened with immense debt, entering a job market that makes it difficult for them to earn a decent living. This is the economic minefield that workers across America must navigate. A little truth might help them find their way and comprehend why this is happening.
One of the many reasons we face such a bleak economic future is the implementation of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).
In 1992, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was implemented between the governments of the United States, Canada and Mexico. NAFTA was fast-tracked through Congress by President H.W. Bush and signed into law by President Clinton. NAFTA was promoted in the commercial media as an engine for job creation in the United States, an assertion that is contradicted by the facts. According to Wolff, more than 700,000 jobs fled the country as the result of NAFTA, many of them providing middle class incomes and benefits.
Those jobs are never coming back. It is not just the number of jobs created that matter, it is the quality of those jobs that is a predictor of economic success.
Furthermore, the mass movement of U.S. corporations to Mexico wrecked the already struggling Mexican economy, particularly its sustainable, locally-based businesses. The situation initiated a mass migration of immigrant Mexican workers to the U.S. in search of better-paying jobs than were available to them in the homeland. Multinational corporations seeking a source of cheap labor and a climate of deregulation are the primary benefactors. The quantifiable effect that NAFTA has had on the U.S. workers is staggering job loss, reduced wages and increasing economic disparity.
Now, with the backing of corporate lobbyists, yet another FTA—the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—is being fast-tracked through Congress. Both Democrats and Republicans are enthusiastically backing the legislation.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation describes the process: “The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a secretive, multi-national trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement.” TPP is currently being negotiated between nine to 12 nations.
If enacted, TPP will permit privately-owned corporations to have hegemony over the governments of sovereign nations. For instance, if the state of West Virginia were to ban the use of genetically modified soybeans, Monsanto Corporation could either overturn the decision or extort billions of dollars in remuneration from their projected loss of profits. FTAs belligerently put corporate profits before the legitimate needs of the people and the welfare of the biosphere.
The implications for students and working class people will be profoundly detrimental.
Hundreds of thousands of jobs will flee the country, wages will fall yet again, autonomy will be lost, and the job market will resemble the wreckage of the Hesperus. FTAs are the means by which the power elite are turning the U.S. into a Third World economy.
I began writing analysis on the macro-economic situation of the American financial structure back in 2006, and in the eight years since, I have seen an undeniably steady trend of fiscal decline.
I have never had any doubt that the U.S. economy as we know it was headed for total and catastrophic collapse, the only question was when, exactly, the final trigger event would occur. As I have pointed out in the past, economic implosion is a process. It grows over time, like the ice shelf on a mountain developing into a potential avalanche. It is easy to shrug off the danger because the visible destruction is not immediate, it is latent; but when the avalanche finally begins, it is far too late for most people to escape…
If you view the progressive financial breakdown in America as some kind of “comedy of errors” or a trial of unlucky coincidences, then there is not much I can do to educate you on the reasons behind the carnage. If, however, you understand that there is a deliberate motivation behind American collapse, then what I have to say here will not fall on biased ears.
The financial crash of 2008, the same crash which has been ongoing for years, is NOT an accident. It is a concerted and engineered crisis meant to position the U.S. for currency disintegration and the institution of a global basket currency controlled by an unaccountable supranational governing body like the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The American populace is being conditioned through economic fear to accept the institutionalization of global financial control and the loss of sovereignty.
Anyone skeptical of this conclusion is welcome to study my numerous past examinations on the issue of globalization; I don’t have the time within this article to re-explain, and frankly, with so much information on deliberate dollar destruction available to the public today I’ve grown tired of anyone with a lack of awareness.
If you continue to believe that the Fed actually exists to “help” stabilize our economy or our currency, then you will never find the logic behind what they do. If you understand that the goal of the Fed and the globalists is to dismantle the dollar and the U.S. economic system to make way for something “new”, then certain recent events and policy initiatives do start to make sense.
The year of 2014 has been looming as a serious concern for me since the final quarter of 2013, and you can read about those concerns and the evidence that supports them in my articleExpect Devastating Global Economic Changes In 2014.
At the end of 2013 we saw at least three major events that could have sent America spiraling into total collapse. The first was the announcement of possible taper measures by the Fed, which have now begun. The second was the possible invasion of Syria which the Obama Administration is still desperate for despite successful efforts by the liberty movement to deny him public support for war. And, the third event was the last debt ceiling debate (or debt ceiling theater depending on how you look at it), which placed the U.S. squarely on the edge of fiscal default.
As we begin 2014, these same threatening issues remain (along with many others), only at greater levels and with more prominence. New developments reinforce my original position that this year will be remembered by historians as the year in which the final breakdown of the U.S. monetary dynamic was set in motion. Here are some of those developments explained…
Taper Of QE3
When I first suggested that a Fed taper was not only possible but probable months ago, I was met with a lot a bit of criticism from some in the alternative economic world. You can read my taper articles here and here.
This was understandable. The Fed uses multiple stimulus outlets besides QE in order to manipulate U.S. markets. Artificially lowering interest rates is very much a form of stimulus in itself, for instance.
However, I think a dangerous blindness to threats beyond money printing has developed within our community of analysts and this must be remedied. People need to realize first that the Fed does NOT care about the continued health of our economy, and they may not care about presenting a facade of health for much longer either. Alternative analysts also need to come to grips with the reality that overt money printing is not the only method at the disposal of globalists when destroying the greenback. A debt default is just as likely to cause loss of world reserve status and devaluation – no printing press required. Blame goes to government and political gridlock while the banks slither away in the midst of the chaos.
The taper of QE3 is not a “head fake”, it is very real, but there are many hidden motivations behind such cuts.
Currently, $20 billion has been trimmed from the $85 billion per month program, and we are already beginning to see what APPEAR to be market effects, including a flight from emerging market currencies from Argentina to Turkey. A couple of years ago investors viewed these markets as among the few places they could exploit to make a positive return, or in other words, one of the few places they could successfully gamble. The Fed taper, though, seems to be shifting the flow of capital away from emerging markets.
The mainstream argument is that stimulus was flowing into such markets, giving them liquidity support, and the taper is drying up that liquidity. Whether this is actually true is hard to say, given that without a full audit we have no idea how much fiat the Federal Reserve has actually created and how much of it they send out into foreign markets.
I stand more on the position that the Fed taper was actually begun in preparation for a slowdown in global markets that was already in progress. In fact, I believe central bankers have been well aware that a decline in every sector was coming, and are moving to insulate themselves.
Is it just a “coincidence” that the central bankers have initiated their taper of QE right when global manufacturing numbers begin to plummet?
Is it just “coincidence” the taper was started right when the Baltic Dry Index, a global indicator of shipping demand, has lost over 50% of its value in the past few weeks?
Is it just “coincidence” that the taper is running tandem with dismal retail sales growth reports from across the globe coming in from the final quarter of 2013?
And, is it just a “coincidence” that the Fed taper is a accelerating right as the next debt ceiling debate begins in March, and when reports are being released by the Congressional Budget Office that over 2 million jobs (in work hours) may be lost due to Obamacare?
No, I do not think any of this is coincidence. Most if not all of these negative indicators needed months to generate, so they could not have been caused by the taper itself. The only explanation beyond “coincidence” is that the Federal Reserve WANTED to launch the taper program and protect itself before these signals began to reach the public.
Look at it this way – The taper program distances the bankers from responsibility for crisis in our financial framework, at least in the eyes of the general public. If a market calamity takes place WHILE stimulus measures are still at full speed, this makes the banks look rather guilty, or at least incompetent. People would begin to question the validity of central bank methods, and they might even question the validity of the central bank’s existence. The Fed is creating space between itself and the economy because they know that a trigger event is coming. They want to ensure that they are not blamed and that stimulus itself is not seen as ineffective, or seen as the cause.
We all know that the claims of recovery are utter nonsense. Beyond the numerous warning signs listed above, one need only look at true unemployment numbers, household wage decline, and record low personal savings of the average American. The taper is not in response to an improving economic environment. Rather, the taper is a signal for the next stage of collapse.
Stocks are beginning to plummet around the world and all mainstream pundits are pointing fingers at a reduction in stimulus which has very little to do with anything. What is the message they want us to digest? That we “can’t live” without the aid and oversight of central banks.
The real reason stocks and other indicators are stumbling is because the effectiveness of stimulus manipulation has a shelf life, and that shelf life is over for the Federal Reserve. I suspect they will continue cutting QE every month for the next year as stocks decline. Will the Fed restart QE? If they do, it will probably not occur until after a substantial breakdown has ensued and the public is sufficiently shell-shocked. The possibility also exists that the Fed will never return to stimulus measures (if debt default is the plan), and QE stimulus will eventually be replaced by IMF “aid”.
Government Controlled Investment
Last month, just as taper measures were being implemented, the White House launched an investment program called MyRA; a retirement IRA program in which middle class and low wage Americans can invest part of their paycheck in government bonds.
That’s right, if you wanted to know where the money was going to come from to support U.S. debt if the Fed cuts QE, guess what, the money is going to come from YOU.
For a decade or so China was the primary buyer and crutch for U.S. debt spending. After the derivatives crash of 2008, the Federal Reserve became the largest purchaser of Treasury bonds. With the decline of foreign interest in long term U.S. debt, and the taper in full effect, it only makes sense that the government would seek out an alternative source of capital to continue the debt cycle. The MyRA program turns the general American public into a new cash stream, but there’s more going on here than meets the eye…
I find it rather suspicious that a government-controlled retirement program is suddenly introduced just as the Fed has begun to taper, as stocks are beginning to fall, and as questions arise over the U.S. debt ceiling. I have three major concerns:
First, is it possible that like the Fed, the government is also aware that a crash in stocks is coming? And, are they offering the MyRA program as an easy outlet (or trap) for people to pour in what little savings they have as panic over declining equities accelerates? Bonds do tend to look appetizing to uninformed investors during an equities route.
Second, the program is currently voluntary, but what if the plan is to make it mandatory? Obama has already signed mandatory health insurance “taxation” into law, which is meant to steal a portion of every paycheck. Why not steal an even larger portion from every paycheck in order to support U.S. debt? It’s for the “greater good,” after all.
Third, is this a deliberate strategy to corral the last vestiges of private American wealth into the corner of U.S. bonds, so that this wealth can be confiscated or annihilated? What happens if there is indeed an eventual debt default, as I believe there will be? Will Americans be herded into bonds by a crisis in stocks only to have bonds implode as well? Will they be conned into bond investment out of a “patriotic duty” to save the nation from default? Or, will the government just take their money through legislative wrangling, as was done in Cyprus not long ago?
The Final Swindle
Again, the next debt ceiling debate is slated for the end of this month. If the government decides to kick the can down the road for another quarter, I believe this will be the last time. The most recent actions of the Fed and the government signal preparations for a stock implosion and ultimate debt calamity. Default would have immediate effects in foreign markets, but the appearance of U.S. stability could drag on for a time, giving the globalists ample opportunity to siphon every ounce of financial blood from the public.
It is difficult to say how the next year will play out, but one thing is certain; something very strange and ugly is afoot. The goal of the globalists is to engineer desperation. To create a catastrophe and then force the masses to beg for help. How many hands of “friendship” will be offered in the wake of a U.S. wealth and currency crisis? What offers for “aid” will come from the IMF? How much of our country and how many of our people will be collateralized to secure that aid? And, how many Americans will go along with the swindle because they were not prepared in advance?
Source: Brandon Smith | Alt-Market
The Fed’s easy money policies have pushed margin debt on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to record levels laying the groundwork for a severe correction or another violent market crash.
In December, margin debt rose by $21 billion to an all-time high of $445 billion.
Buying equities on margin, that is, with loads of borrowed cash, is a sign of excessive risk taking the likes of which invariably takes place whenever the Central Bank creates subsidies for speculation by keeping interest rates pegged below the rate of inflation or by pumping trillions of dollars into the bloated financial system through misguided liquidity programs like QE.
Investors have shrugged off dismal earnings reports, abnormally-high unemployment, flagging demand, droopy incomes, stagnant wages and swollen P/E ratios and loaded up on stocks confident that the Fed’s infusions of liquidity will keep prices going higher. It’s only a matter of time before they see the mistake they’ve made.
The chart below illustrates how zero rates and QE lead to excessive risk taking. The correlation between the stratospheric rise of margin debt and the Fed’s destabilizing monetary policy is hard to avoid. This is what bubblemaking looks like in real time.
Chart: Seeking Alpha.
In the minutes of the FOMC’s December meeting, FOMC officials acknowledge the froth they’ve created in financial assets which is why they’ve begun to scale back their asset purchases. The Fed hopes that by gradually winding down QE they’ll be able to stage a soft landing rather than a full-blown crash. Here’s an excerpt from the FOMC’s minutes:
“In their discussion of potential risks, several participants commented on the rise in forward price-to-earnings ratios for some smallcap stocks, the increased level of equity repurchases, or the rise in margin credit. One pointed to the increase in issuance of leveraged loans this year and the apparent decline in the average quality of such loans.”
There you have it, the Fed sees the results of its work; the distortions in P/E ratios, the exuberant stock buybacks (“equity repurchases”), the deterioration in the quality of leveraged loans, and the steady rise in margin debt. They see it all, all the bubbles they’ve created with their gargantuan $3 trillion surge of liquidity. Now they have started to reverse the policy by reducing their asset purchase from $85 bil to $65 bil per month, the effects of which can already be seen in the Emerging Markets.
The bubble in Emerging Markets has burst sending foreign currencies plunging and triggering a sharp reversal in capital flows. The hot money that flooded the EMs,–(which lowered the cost of borrowing for businesses and consumers)–is entirely attributable to the Fed’s policy. QE pushes down long-term interest rates forcing investors to search for higher yield in other markets. Thus, the cost of money drops in EMs creating a boom that abruptly ends when the policy changes (as it has).
Capital is fleeing EMs at an unprecedented pace precipitating a dramatic slowdown in economic activity, higher consumer prices and widespread public distress. The Fed is 100% responsible for the turmoil in emerging markets, a fact which even mainstream news outlets blandly admit. Here’s an excerpt from an article in Bloomberg just this week:
“Investors are pulling money from exchange-traded funds that track emerging markets at the fastest rate on record…More than $7 billion flowed from ETFs investing in developing-nation assets in January, the most since the securities were created, data compiled by Bloomberg show…
Emerging economies have benefited from cheap money as three rounds of Fed bond buying pushed capital into their borders in search of higher returns…
The Fed’s asset purchases had helped fuel a credit boom in developing nations from Turkey to Brazil. Accumulated capital inflows to developing-country’s debt markets since 2008 reached $1.1 trillion, or $470 billion more than their long-term trend, according to a study by the International Monetary Fund in October.” (“Record Cash Leaves Emerging Market ETFs on Lira Drop“, Bloomberg)
The Fed doesn’t care if other countries are hurt by its policies. What the Fed worries about is how the taper is going to effect Wall Street. If the slightest reduction in asset purchases causes this much turbulence abroad, then what’s it going to do to US stock and bond markets?
The answer, of course, is that stocks are going to fall…hard. It can’t be avoided. And while the amount of margin debt is not a reliable tool for calling a top; it’s safe to say that the recent spike in investor leverage has moved the arrow well into the red zone. Investors are going to cash out long before the Fed ends QE altogether, which means the selloff could persist for some time to come much like after the dot.com bubble popped and stocks drifted lower for a full year. Now check out this clip from Alhambra Investment Partners newsletter titled “The Year of Leverage”:
“For the year, total margin debt usage jumped by an almost incomprehensible $123 billion, while cash balances declined by $19 billion. That $142 billion leveraged bet on stocks far surpasses any twelve month period in history. The only times that were even close to as leveraged were the year leading up to June 2007 (-$89 billion) and the twelve months preceding February and March 2000 (-$77 billion). Both of those marked significant tops in the market.” ( Alhambra Investment Partners newsletter titled “The Year of Leverage“)
Repeat: “The $142 billion leveraged bet on stocks far surpasses any twelve month period in history.”
Investors are “all-in” because they think that the Fed has their back. They think that Bernanke (or Yellen) will not allow stocks to fall too far without intervening. (This is called the “Bernanke Put”) So far, that’s been a winning strategy, but that might be changing. The Fed’s determination to taper suggests that it wants to withdraw its stimulus to avoid being blamed for the bursting bubble. (“Plausible deniability”?) That’s what’s driving the current policy. Here’s more on margin debt from Wolf Richter at Testosterone Pit:
“On the New York Stock Exchange, margin credit has been hitting new records for months. All three mega-crashes in my investing lifetime have been accompanied by record-setting peaks in margin debt. In September 1987, a month before the crash, margin credit peaked at 0.88% of GDP. In March 2000, when the crash began, margin credit peaked at 2.7% of GDP. In July 2007, three months before the downdraft started, margin credit peaked at 2.6% of GDP. Now, margin credit has already reached 2.5% of GDP.” (“Plagued By Indigestion, Fed Issues Asset-Bubble Warning”, Testosterone Pit)
Stock market crashes are always connected to massive leverage, loosey-goosey monetary policy and irrational exuberance (“excessive risk taking”), the toxic combo that presently rules the markets. The Federal Reserve is invariably the source of all bubblemaking and financial instability.
As we noted earlier, equity repurchases or stock buybacks are another sign of froth. Here’s an excellent summary on the topic by Alhambra Investment Partners:
“In the third quarter of 2013, share repurchases totaled $128.2 billion, the highest level since Q4 2007. For the twelve months ended in September 2013, aggregate share repurchases were an astounding $445.3 billion; the only twelve-month period greater than that total was the calendar year of 2007 and its $589 billion.
The common argument advanced in favor of such share repurchases is that companies are using cash to recognize undervalued stocks, but that is total hogwash…
…corporate managers are no different than the reviled stereotypical retail investor. Both leverage themselves further and further as the market goes higher, not in recognizing undervalued stocks or companies but in full froth of chasing obscene values via rationalizations.” ( Alhambra Investment Partners newsletter titled “The Year of Leverage”)
In other words, corporate managers are doing the same thing as your average margin investor. They are loading up on financial assets–not because they think they are a good value or because they expect higher earnings –but because Fed policy supports artificially-high prices. That’s what’s driving the bull market, the Fed’s thumb on the scale. Remove the thumb, and you have a whole new ballgame (as we see in the EMs). There’s also a bubble in high yield “junk” bonds which just had their second biggest year on record (Total issuance $324 billion) Investors are only too happy to dump their money into high-risk debt believing that companies never default or that the Fed will save the day again credit tightens and the dominoes start tumbling through the debt markets. According to Testosterone Pit:
“The cost of a high-yield bond on an absolute coupon basis is as low as it’s ever been,” explained Baratta, king of Blackstone’s $53 billion in private equity assets. Even the riskiest companies are selling the riskiest bonds at low yields… Why would anyone buy this crap?” (“Bubble Trouble: Record Junk Bond Issuance, A Barrage Of IPOs, “Out Of Whack” Valuations, And Grim Earnings Growth”, Testosterone Pit)
Why, indeed? Of course, the author is just being rhetorical, after all, he knows why people are piling into junk. It’s because the Fed has kept a gun to their heads for 5 years, forcing them to grab higher yield wherever they can find it. That’s how Bernanke’s dogwhistle monetary policy works. By slashing rates to zero, the Fed coerces investors to speculate on any type of garbage that’s available. That why junk “just had its second biggest year on record.” You can thank Bernanke.
Housing is also in a bubble due to the Fed’s zero rates, withheld inventory, government modification programs, and an unprecedented uptick in all-cash investors. Clearly, there’s never been a market more manipulated than housing. It’s a joke.
The surge of Wall Street liquidity has spilled over into housing distorting prices and reducing the number of first time homebuyers to an all-time low. The homeownership rate is actually falling even while prices climb higher, which is just one of many anomalies created by the Fed’s policy. (Who’s ever heard of a housing boom, where the number of firsttime homebuyers is dropping?)
Also, the Central Bank has purchased more than $1 trillion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) via QE, which begs the question: How can housing prices NOT be in a bubble?
As we noted earlier, the Fed understands the impact its policies have had. They know the markets are overheated and they’re determined to do something about it. A recent article in Bloomberg explains the Fed’s plan for winding down QE “without doing damage to the economy”. Here’s a short excerpt from the piece:
“Janet Yellen probably will confront a test during her tenure as Federal Reserve chairman that both of her predecessors flunked: defusing asset bubbles without doing damage to the economy…
Yellen is ‘going to be trying to do something that no one has ever done,’ said Stephen Cecchetti, former economic adviser for the Bank for International Settlements, the Basel, Switzerland-based central bank for monetary authorities. She needs ‘to ensure that accommodative monetary policy doesn’t create significant financial stability risks,’ he said in an interview…
The Fed’s ‘first, second and third lines of defense” for dealing with such imbalances is to rely on supervision, regulation and so-called macro-prudential policies, such as mortgage loan-to-value restrictions, Bernanke told the Brookings Institution in Washington on Jan. 16. ….Only as a last resort would it consider raising interest rates.’ (“Yellen Faces Test Bernanke Failed: Ease Bubbles“, Bloomberg)
You got that?
So the Fed is going into the “bubble-deflating” biz.
And uber-dove Yellen is going to put things right. She’s going to eliminate the price distortions and gradually return the markets to normalcy.
She’s going to wind down QE and start to reduce the Fed’s $4 trillion balance sheet.
And she’s going to do all of this without raising interest rates or sending stocks into freefall?
Right. It’s a pipedream. The first sign of trouble and old Yellen will be scuttling across the floor of the New York Stock Exchange with a punch bowl the size of Yankee Stadium.
You can bet on it.
Urban War Zones are now a reality inside many American cities.
It’s no longer necessary to go to Iraq, Afghanistan or Africa to enter a real war zone and have to fight for your life.
Thanks to massive CIA drug trafficking and American Free-trade Treaties like NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT & WTO, many American inner cities have been transformed into actual war zones.
These inner city war zones are infested with drug gangs that outnumber police and out gun them too.
At present these gangs are typically competing and battling with each other for turf and making a living selling drugs and running prostitutes, some captive sex-slaves. At some point if the economy worsens and the SHTF, they could easily start looting and attacking anyone and everyone.
However, in every major city in America at present, violent urban predators prey on the unarmed, old, weak, sick or disabled. And while out of control Police Swat Teams battle these predators and drug gangs, they often tyrannize the innocent which include women and young children, using excessive force all too often. There are numerous incidents of such teams murdering innocents after attacking the wrong home.
The massive War on Drugs was designed as a dualistic program. One hand, the top secret part involves the USG bringing in massive amounts of illegal drugs to raise “off the books money” for covert ops. The other hand uses all serious gang crimes arising as a pretext to militarize the police as justify their deployment as Nazi Storm Troopers.
This second part of the War on Drugs is for public disclosure and consumption. In response to all this massive urban breakdown, the worsening economy and increasing government tyranny from the Department of Homeland Security, the TSA and out of control local police, Americans are arming at an astounding rate. Guns are literally flying off the shelves and ammo sales are at an all time high also.
Americans now arming up in mass in order to protect themselves from and this increasing USG Tyranny of the USG, DHS and their local militarized and Mind-kontrolled local police (1) and from increasing and spreading urban crime which includes robberies, car-jackings, home burglaries and home invasions.
Also given as an important reason for arming up for the first time when asked, is a fear of possible impending economic collapse with an associated SHTF occurrence. Many express a salient and absolute need to be able to protect themselves and/or their family members from possible looters and armed home invaders which would likely accompany a SHTF urban breakdown situation.
And who should be credited with creating such a foreboding urban environment? It is the Globalist Traitors and infil-Traitors who have hijacked the political process and Banking in America.
These Globalist “enemies within” have rammed through economically disastrous Free-Trade Agreements and forced Diversity, Perversions and Political correctness accompanied by massive immigration, most illegal. All this has been designed to destroy the borders, language and culture of America, to neutralize its Constitution, Bill of Rights and Rule of Law while transforming America into a economically distressed Third World Nation.
These Globalist enemies within the Gates have been working very hard to transform America into a Democracy (Mob rule by the masses) from the Republic which was set up by our Founding Fathers. Obviously any real enforcement of the US Constitution would assure that American would remain a republic the way it was set up.
Since the imposition of so-called “Free Trade” policies upon the American Republic, urban decay and blight have become epidemic in major American cities. Many cities have turned into Urban Jungles, where only the strongest survive. In these Urban Jungles, violent gangs prevail and the weak are parasitized and consumed, afraid to go out of their homes, especially after dark.
Take Chicago, which has become a “kill or be kill” free fire Urban War Zone in some of its Urban areas. Chicago is the one of the most gun restricted areas ever, but the only ones that do not carry guns to defend themselves are law abiding citizens.
Gang members have all the guns they want, supplied by drug gangs and the CIA and BATF.http://www.cbsnews.com/news/gang-wars-at-the-root-of-chicagos-high-murder-rate/
Some of these areas such as Washington DC have been rated as having a 300% chance of being mugged if out after dark in certain areas, which means you could likely be robbed three times in a single block if you have a victim profile (old, young, weak, disabled, female). The real unemployment rate is 37%, despite phony USG that it is 7% or less.(2)
And now Detroit has been declared Bankrupt. It has been reported that retired police and City workers will now receive approximately 13% of their pensions due.
The Ruins of Detroit:
The ten Most Dangerous American Cities which are truly Urban Jungles at Night:
There are areas in Detroit, South Chicago and St. Louis that are so violent and infested with violent gangs that even the police refuse to enter unless ordered and then do so with major forces.
Until recently parts of Detroit was so violent that police and ambulances refused to provide service during the night hours and often found abandoned dead bodies (murder victims) days later. Detroit, known as “Iron City”, the jewel of America, used to be prosperous beyond measure based on the manufacture of the world’s finest cars.
Remember what a 1965 Olds Starfire coupe was like, or a mid 60′s Buick Wildcat or Pontiac Bonneville was like. How about a mid 60′s Chevy with a HP409 engine or a Plymouth Belvedere with a 426 Hemi or 440 Wedge engine?
That all changed in 1971 with the introduction of very extreme anti-pollution “clean air” laws which reduced automotive engine compression ratios from approximately 10.5 to 8.5, required the installation of retarded, goofy extremely inefficient camshafts. The result was garbage engines that had little power, consumed huge increases in gasoline and a major shift in chassis quality to near complete crap. At that point American automotive quality was gone and is only starting to come back now forty years later.
This is but one symptom of the covert Globalist engineering of American Society on behalf of the City of London zionist Central Banksters.
This of course created a great opportunity for the Japanese Auto manufacturers, secretly owned and controlled by the super-elite American Banking families. When W. Edwards Deming, an astute American engineer approached American Automotive Manufacturers in Detroit and proposed his plan to drastically reduce defects and lemons, he was rebuffed because it was felt his plan was too expensive and too slow.
Deming’s plan required 100% quality checks and verification of all parts from every supplier instead of the approximately 1% or less sampling. When Deming approached the Japanese, who had already shown a new coming expertise in motorcycles and quality circles in their electronics manufacturing, his program was accepted and implemented.
The rest is history, and after about 15 years, the American Automotive manufacturers have been playing a catch up game ever since for quality with the Japanese Auto manufacturers.
And now the Korean Automotive Manufacturers have hired retired Japanese automotive engineers as consultants and have adopted many of their same practices and principals to their automotive manufacturing. The result?
Some Autos manufactured in South Korea have attained the same quality as the Japanese which are considered to currently be the highest quality in the world. As many automotive enthusiasts suggest, if you want the best performance buy German, if you want the highest quality buy Japanese.
It is a fair assumption that Globalism and the Free-Trade Agreements it produced, have resulted in the exportation of most American heavy industry, manufacturing and millions of good paying jobs. This alone has seriously harmed the American economy and set America on a path of destruction, starting first with its Urban Centers which have become urban wastelands and jungles, and now progressively spreading to middle class and upper middle class outlying suburbs.
Fair Trade with suitably adjusted reasonable Tariffs to protect American Jobs are necessary to America’s economic survival and prosperity. Free Trade is not Free at all and is an abomination to the American republic and its Sovereignty.
It is a tool of the Globalists to enhance the earnings of their international offshore Globalist corporations at the expense of the American worker. It is nothing less than a secret war against America’s Sovereignty and the Republic itself.
The only other globalist tactic to destroy America that approaches its effectiveness are the policies of unrestricted illegal immigration, forced diversity, cultural programming that perversion is good, required perversion programming in the public schools that it is normal, and political correctness.
Obviously these are all Globalist weapons of covert war waged against America to destroy its borders, language and culture and gut it economically. These Globalist weapons have been deployed against Americans in order to transform America into a Third World “Democracy” instead of the Republic that it was set up to be by the Founding Fathers.
These Traitors and Infil-Traitors in Congress and the Administration keep financing and running foreign wars for Israel in order to establish Democracy like they keep claiming we have in America. We have never had a democracy but they have been doing their best to kill the Republic on the behalf of their zionist owners and masters This is of course one of the biggest lies ever told.
America has always been a Republic, a democracy is mob rule. Of course bringing in 30-60 million illegal immigrants and millions of legally sanctioned foreign workers has quickly undermined American culture and tradition and established a real base to elect politicians who appeal to the masses. The election of President Obama was the first of such travesties.
Up until recently when American aircraft manufacturers starting buying foreign parts, American aircraft were the best in the world, especially the military aircraft and fighter/interceptors. Now we have an F-22 with a contaminated O2 system from China that causes some pilots to start passing out and a Boeing Dreamliner with a faulty battery system that was imported.
For years St. Louis has been so poor that some of their police radio don’t work properly and their squad cars are in disrepair. In East Los Angeles, despite how tough and well armed the LA Police Department is, top police officials know that they are completely outgunned by Mexican drug gangs allowed to enter and do business inside America and also provided arms shipped by the CIA and the BATF.
It’s not as if Americans weren’t duly warned what such Free-Trade Treaties would produce, because Presidential Candidate Ross Perot went public with what was coming. He described the effects as a “giant sucking sound” for American jobs as they would leave America in droves.
But despite Perot’s grave warnings, President George HW Bush signed NAFTA on Dec. 17, 1992 with full Congressional support. The NAFTA Treaty was ratified after Bill Clinton became President. Soon after the sucking sound started, with shocking support the the US Department of State which provided massive grants to major corporations to move manufacturing to Mexico. These grants continued at American taxpayer expense under the subsequent Trade Treaties that were subsequently signed and ratified such as CAFTA, GATT, and WTO.
Unbeknownst to most Americans, President Obama is now deeply involved in secret negotiations to pass the Trans Pacific Partnership Treaty (TPP) which experts have described as “NAFTA on Steroids”. TPP is far more than just another Free Trade Treaty which continues to lower the value of American wages to the “rock bottom” levels in third world countries. If signed and ratified by Congress, the TPP would be the complete end to any remaining American Sovereignty.
What established this frenzy for Free-Trade Agreements? It is now known that The last duly elected President of the United States of America was Ronald Reagan. It is also known by seasoned intel officers that Ronald Reagan distrusted American Intel in general and especially his Vice President George HW Bush.
In fact it has now been discovered that President Reagan distrusted the CIA and American Intel so much, he set up his “Kitchen Cabinet” and brought in Lee Wanta as his Secret Agent under the Totten Doctrine (3).
George HW Bush was illegally elected later as President, since his father Prescott Bush had signed an Immunity Agreement that no future Bushes (Scherfs) would ever run for office after he was arrested for “aiding the enemy” and his Union Bank assets were seized by FDR during WW2.
It is also known that George HW Bush ran his own private CIA inside the CIA which served the specific needs of the zionist City of London Central Banksters and their franchisees, the American private Federal Reserve and major Wall Street Banksters.
Some former top American Intel believe that it was this private GHW Bush Intel organization that tried to assassinate President Reagan, by using their man, a secret service man who fired a high speed plastic disc from a compressed air powered disc-gun, the type displayed by William Colby in Congressional Hearings on the abuses of American Intel.
PBS Judy Woodruff had reported this of seeing the SS man fire a gun from a second story window that night on PBS but the story was quickly squelched and she changed it after a very convincing “not to worry visit” from some very serious American Intel agents. President Reagan, despite a long slow disjointed route to the hospital, survived. This assassination attempt however signaled that the Treasonous Bush Cabal had attained a major power base inside the Military and Congress.
The sad thing is that all the political power and influence necessary to accomplish this and to transform the American Congress into Traitors was due to the vast money provided to K Street Lobbyists and zionist espionage groups like AIPAC, ADL, B’nai B’brith, and the like by the Central Banksters and the various Judaic groups shaken down and manipulated by zionist for donations.
So the first beach-head of the Globalists (aka zionist City of London Central Banksters and the “Old Black Nobility” they represented) was established with a bought, owned and controlled US Congress. Once GHW Bush was elected President, the circle of control was complete.
One of George W. Bush’s major assignments was to take American further down the Globalist path by fighting more Mideast wars for Israel. Another was to destroy the Republic party by being the worst President ever and fully debasing the Republican, which he did. Now the Republican leaders in Congress are tricking the Republican Party into committing suicide by agreeing to back the Democratic legislation for making illegal immigrants legal and future citizens.
So it is now obvious that the Republic Party is finished and Americans need to rise up and form a new Third Party. Otherwise you can be assured that just like in the last Presidential election, both candidates will be owned by the Bush Cabal.Unless the Bush Cabal has been fully exposed and displaced by then which is now real possibility.
It has been estimated that there are now approximately 30 million illegal immigrants inside Americaallowed in by a Globalist controlled USG who prevented border enforcement and liberal immigration laws which are not enforced. With the the passage of the currently proposed Democratic plan for legalizing illegal immigrants, this number could easily grow to 60 to 100 million.
In most major American Cities, Police are not allowed to arrest suspected illegal immigrants for minor traffic violations or check their identification for legal status. Not so for those whose license plates are run and show up as actual American Citizens. And this is all due to orders coming down from a few top policy-Makers who operate at the nexus of the Secret Shadow Government (SSG).
GHWB could now institute major efforts to undo all the excellent plans for the economic and industrial reconstruction of America that President Reagan had set in place and activated. As has been disclosed in a previous article (4), President Reagan had brought in Lee Wanta to serve as his Secret Agent because he didn’t trust the CIA which had been corrupted and hijacked by GHWB.
It should now be exceedingly clear to those who are well informed about the degradation of the American economy and rule of law accompanied by increasing tyranny, deployment of DHS, TSA and the passage of all the unConstitutional draconian laws (like the so-called Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and NDAA 2014).
All this is being engineered by foreign controlled Globalist traitors and infil-Traitors who have hijacked America and worked hard to export heavy industry, manufacturing and jobs.
And that they are doing this to asset strip America, destroy it’s economy and the Republic itself in order to Balkanize America and prevent it from ever rising in economic strength again and operating as a Republic “of the people, by the people and for the people”.
Their motives for all this? To covertly re-fight the Revolutionary war that was lost and retake America on behalf of the zionist City of London Central Banksters and their Kingpin overlords the Old Black Nobility (OBN). These hidden masters of the world-wide occult network which runs the IZCS prefer to stay hidden in the background where they can pull all the strings of several top Policy-Makers in America with no personal risk to themselves.
What can be done to turn this around? Obviously the first step is to get rid of all Free-Trade Agreements. In order to do this all the zionist espionage fronts inside America such as AIPAC, ADL, B’nai B’rith and the like must be fully exposed and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. In order to do this zionist Israeli-American dual citizens inside Congress and the USG and its Agencies must be exposed as traitors and agents of foreign espionage and routed out of power.
America has to stop fighting Israel’s illegal Mideast wars and withdraw all aid and support for Israel as long as it is a criminal, racist apartheid state persecuting and murdering Palestinians and stealing their land incrementally.
Lee Wanta, a great American Heroe that served as President Reagan’s Secret Agent under the Totten Doctrine and was instrumental in bringing down the evil Soviet Union
We need to re-institute the Wanta Reconstructing America Plan based on the Maglev High Speed Rail System which has the necessary funding already available. (5)
And it is time to also re-establish the Want Economic Recovery Plan for America that was also set up under President Reagan, but later stopped cold by George HW Bush and his Cabal when they instituted a secret coup to take over the whole USG on behalf of the City of London zionist Central Banksters and their Wall Street and Federal Reserve Franchisees.(6)
In fact it is a reasonable assumption that the massive Free-Trade attack on America’s economy was largely a reaction by the Bush Cabal to these amazing economic reconstruction plans President Reagan had put in place through his Secret Agent Lee Wanta, who was the master strategist that took down the Soviet Union for President Reagan.
Recent respected surveys show that a majority of American are disgusted with the current administration and rating of the lowest ever experienced in America in the last century. Congress is also rated at an all time low with only 9% approving of it. Many view the current President as an alien imposter with no traceable past. Some alternative media writers have stated that he is a sheep-dipped CIA creation just like Bill Clinton. All this is a mute point. Why?
Because Ronald Reagan was the last duly elected President of the United States of America, the Republic, all presidents since have been fraudulently elected and owned by the Bush Cabal. And this Bush Cabal is the Action Agent of the City of London zionist Central Banksters and their International Zionist Crime Syndicate (IZCS).
The IZCS is centered in Israel where most intel is done by privatized Israeli corporations serving as American Defense and Intel contractors. It is these private Israeli contactors who control all NSA raw intel and almost all American communications including internal White House phone calls and messaging, as well as all Pentagon and DOD communications.
Obviously the Bush Cabal has been able to install its own Presidential puppets and run a lucrative illegal drug trafficking operations into America. All done to destabilize and “dirty up” American Cities while absorbing a great deal of the Welfare dollars and capturing vast “off the books” funds for their own covert operations and bribery of Congress. It is a fair conclusion that the Bush Cabal has destroyed the American Rule of Law, debased any true enforcement of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights and has corrupted every institution and agency of the USG.
However there is good news. A growing force for good has emerged in the Alternative Media now transmitted everywhere instantly on demand by the worldwide Internet, the new Gutenberg Press and the NWO Globalist’s Achilles Heel. Yes, the Controlled Mass media (CMMM) has been a propaganda mouthpiece for the Bush Cabal and the IZCS, but is now losing its appeal and credibility. The CMMM keeps feeding lies and crap to the American public that are obviously false, like the Mideast American wars are wars to establish Democracy. More and more Americans now realize this is complete BS, that we are there to fight Israel’s wars and defend British Oil interests.
Compare the articles of Veterans Today and other respected truth media now which are being published and read by millions inside America and all over the world with the CMMM. You will see the gap between the alternative media truth and the CMMM lies is ever widening and we are starting to see Alternative Media’s popularity driving stories into the CMMM, even thought the CMMM usually attempts to neutralize their significance.
Many thousands of brave American Soldiers who were lied to and deceived into fighting these illegal, unConstitutional, unprovoked, undeclared wars for Israel and Big Oil, thinking that they were defending America and its freedom. Few greater lies and deceptions has ever been predicated on Americans than this complete lie. Many thousands of Americans have been killed and horribly wounded and disabled in this war.
If the American Military ever fully realizes that all these wars were phony and based on a lie and that Israel did the 9/11 attacks with the help of a cabal within the USAF and JCS, there will be hell to pay for all those perps involved. And now there is good reason to believe that day is coming in the not too distant future.
As most Americans are beginning to realize, America has been infil-Traited by Traitors and Infil-Traitors in the highest positions of the USG. The major economic deterioration and loss of assets to the Wall Street Banksters and the private Federal reserve through financial Fraud have been staggering and Americans are catching on the the BLATANTLY OBVIOUS.
When American society reaches a critical mass awakening to this obvious situation that Globalists have been doing everything they can to destroy America, there will be major Blow-back of astounding proportions. When 12% of Americans are awakened, a critical mass and major turning point will be reached and you will begin to see major social change like never conceived, and this will all be due to major Blow-back from awakening.
The elites hate to acknowledge it, but when large numbers of ordinary people are moved to action, it changes the narrow political world where the elites call the shots. Inside accounts reveal the extent to which Johnson and Nixon’s conduct of the Vietnam War was constrained by the huge anti-war movement. It was the civil rights movement, not compelling arguments, that convinced members of Congress to end legal racial discrimination. More recently, the townhall meetings, dominated by people opposed to health care reform, have been a serious roadblock for those pushing reform…. A big turnout … can make a real difference….When someone tells you to stop imagining that you are having an impact, ask them to please direct their energy into getting 10 friends to join you in doing what needs to be done. If it has no impact, you’ll have gone down trying. If it has an impact, nobody will tell you for many years. (7)
This coming complete awakening will be due to information dispensed and diffused by the Alternative Media and the worldwide Internet as well as word of mouth. it is best viewed as a byproduct of a new and powerful emerging worldwide populism which has now reached the point it is unstoppable. One recent study has established 10% as a critical mass, turning point for Society.(8)
I believe we are already at 11% and when we reach 12%, the days of the Bush cabal will be dated. They know it too and are scared sh*tless. That is why they have been going for broke trying to ram the NWO down our throats and militarize local police and build up DHS to oppress and then mass murder us.
It’s time to speak up to all your family, friends and associates that we need to abandon the Republican and Democratic political Parties. Both parties are owned and controlled by the same Overlord, the IZCS who bought them and can blackmail them with NSA provided intel.
Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, who is also a Vet and a Navy Seal/UDT man had it right in his book of the Replican and Democrat Political Gangs in America, DemoCRIPS and ReBLOODlicans (9).
Gov. Ventura recommends Americans dump both political Parties which serve the same corrupt masters and start electing alternative candidates only who are not associated with either of the two parties.
It should now be exceedingly clear to those who are well informed about the degradation of the American economy and rule of law accompanied by increasing tyranny, deployment of DHS, TSA and the passage of all the unConstitutional draconian laws (like the so-called Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and NDAA 2014), that all this is being engineered by foreign controlled Globalist traitors and infil-Traitors who have hijacked America and worked hard to export heavy industry, manufacturing and jobs.
And that they are doing this to asset strip America, destroy it’s economy and the Republic itself in order to Balkanize America and prevent it from ever rising in economic strength again and operating as a Republic “of the people, by the people and for the people”.
Their motives for all this? To covertly re-fight the Revolutionary war that was lost and retake America on behalf of the zionist City of London Central Banksters and their Kingpin overlords the Old Black Nobility (OBN). These hidden masters of the world-wide occult network which runs the IZCS prefer to stay hidden in the background where they can pull all the strings of several top Policy-Makers in America with no personal risk to themselves.
(3) TOTTEN DOCTRINE [ 92 U.S. 105, 107 (1875) ]
Source: Preston James | Veterans Today
“I was part of that strange race of people aptly described as spending their lives doing things they detest, to make money they don’t want, to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like.” ― Emile Gauvreau
If ever a chart provided unequivocal proof the economic recovery storyline is a fraud, the one below is the smoking gun. November and December retail sales account for 20% to 40% of annual retail sales for most retailers. The number of visits to retail stores has plummeted by 50% since 2010. Please note this was during a supposed economic recovery. Also note consumer spending accounts for 70% of GDP. Also note credit card debt outstanding is 7% lower than its level in 2010 and 16% below its peak in 2008. Retailers like J.C. Penney, Best Buy, Sears, Radio Shack and Barnes & Noble continue to report appalling sales and profit results, along with listings of store closings. Even the heavyweights like Wal-Mart and Target continue to report negative comp store sales. How can the government and mainstream media be reporting an economic recovery when the industry that accounts for 70% of GDP is in free fall? The answer is that 99% of America has not had an economic recovery. Only Bernanke’s 1% owner class have benefited from his QE/ZIRP induced stock market levitation.
The entire economic recovery storyline is a sham built upon easy money funneled by the Fed to the Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks so they can use their HFT supercomputers to drive the stock market higher, buy up the millions of homes they foreclosed upon to artificially drive up home prices, and generate profits through rigging commodity, currency, and bond markets, while reducing loan loss reserves because they are free to value their toxic assets at anything they please – compliments of the spineless nerds at the FASB. GDP has been artificially propped up by the Federal government through the magic of EBT cards, SSDI for the depressed and downtrodden, never ending extensions of unemployment benefits, billions in student loans to University of Phoenix prodigies, and subprime auto loans to deadbeats from the Government Motors financing arm – Ally Financial (85% owned by you the taxpayer). The country is being kept afloat on an ocean of debt and delusional belief in the power of central bankers to steer this ship through a sea of icebergs just below the surface.
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 most amazingly delusional aspect to the chart above is retailers continued to add 44 million square feet in 2013 to the almost 15 billion existing square feet of retail space in the U.S. That is approximately 47 square feet of retail space for every person in America. Retail CEOs are not the brightest bulbs in the sale bin, as exhibited by the CEO of Target and his gross malfeasance in protecting his customers’ personal financial information. Of course, the 44 million square feet added in 2013 is down 85% from the annual increases from 2000 through 2008. 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.
The impact of this retail death spiral will be vast and far reaching. A few factoids will help you understand the coming calamity:
- There are approximately 109,500 shopping centers in the United States ranging in size from the small convenience centers to the large super-regional malls.
- There are in excess of 1 million retail establishments in the United States occupying 15 billion square feet of space and generating over $4.4 trillion of annual sales. This includes 8,700 department stores, 160,000 clothing & accessory stores, and 8,600 game stores.
- U.S. shopping-center retail sales total more than $2.26 trillion, accounting for over half of all retail sales.
- The U.S. shopping-center industry directly employed over 12 million people in 2010 and indirectly generated another 5.6 million jobs in support industries. Collectively, the industry accounted for 12.7% of total U.S. employment.
- Total retail employment in 2012 totaled 14.9 million, lower than the 15.1 million employed in 2002.
- For every 100 individuals directly employed at a U.S. regional shopping center, an additional 20 to 30 jobs are supported in the community due to multiplier effects.
The collapse in foot traffic to the 109,500 shopping centers that crisscross our suburban sprawl paradise of plenty is irreversible. No amount of marketing propaganda, 50% off sales, or hot new iGadgets is going to spur a dramatic turnaround. Quarter after quarter there will be more announcements of store closings. Macys just announced the closing of 5 stores and firing of 2,500 retail workers. JC Penney just announced the closing of 33 stores and firing of 2,000 retail workers. Announcements are imminent from Sears, Radio Shack and a slew of other retailers who are beginning to see the writing on the wall. The vacancy rate will be rising in strip malls, power malls and regional malls, with the largest growing sector being ghost malls. Before long it will appear that SPACE AVAILABLE is the fastest growing retailer in America.
The reason this death spiral cannot be reversed is simply a matter of arithmetic and demographics. While arrogant hubristic retail CEOs of public big box mega-retailers added 2.7 billion retail square feet to our already over saturated market, real median household income flat lined. The advancement in retail spending was attributable solely to the $1.1 trillion increase (68%) in consumer debt and the trillion dollars of home equity extracted from castles in the sky, that later crashed down to earth. 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. With real median household income 8% lower than it was in 2008, the collapse in retail traffic is a rational reaction by the impoverished 99%. Americans are using their credit cards to pay their real estate taxes, income taxes, and monthly utilities, since their income is lower, and their living expenses rise relentlessly, thanks to Bernanke and his Fed created inflation.
The media mouthpieces for the establishment gloss over the fact average gasoline prices in 2013 were the second highest in history. The highest average price was in 2012 and the 3rd highest average price was in 2011. These prices are 150% higher than prices in the early 2000′s. This might not matter to the likes of Jamie Dimon and Jon Corzine, but for a middle class family with two parents working and making 7.5% less than they made in 2000, it has a dramatic impact on discretionary income. The fact oil prices have risen from $25 per barrel in 2003 to $100 per barrel today has not only impacted gas prices, but utility costs, food costs, and the price of any product that needs to be transported to your local Wally World. The outrageous rise in tuition prices has been aided and abetted by the Federal government and their doling out of loans so diploma mills like the University of Phoenix can bilk clueless dupes into thinking they are on their way to an exciting new career, while leaving them jobless in their parents’ basement with a loan payment for life.
The laughable jobs recovery touted by Obama, his sycophantic minions, paid off economist shills, and the discredited corporate legacy media can be viewed appropriately in the following two charts, that reveal the false storyline being peddled to the techno-narcissistic iGadget distracted masses. There are 247 million working age Americans between the ages of 18 and 64. Only 145 million of these people are employed. Of these employed, 19 million are working part-time and 9 million are self- employed. Another 20 million are employed by the government, producing nothing and being sustained by the few remaining producers with their tax dollars. The labor participation rate is the lowest it has been since women entered the workforce in large numbers during the 1980′s. We are back to levels seen during the booming Carter years. Those peddling the drivel about retiring Baby Boomers causing the decline in the labor participation rate are either math challenged or willfully ignorant because they are being paid to be so. Once you turn 65 you are no longer counted in the work force. The percentage of those over 55 in the workforce has risen dramatically to an all-time high, as the Me Generation never saved for retirement or saw their retirement savings obliterated in the Wall Street created 2008 financial implosion.
To understand the absolute idiocy of retail CEOs across the land one must parse the employment data back to 2000. In the year 2000 the working age population of the U.S. was 213 million and 136.9 million of them were working, a record level of 64.4% of the population. There were 70 million working age Americans not in the labor force. Fourteen years later the number of working age Americans is 247 million and only 144.6 million are working. The working age population has risen by 16% and the number of employed has risen by only 5.6%. That’s quite a success story. Of course, even though median household income is 7.5% lower than it was in 2000, the government expects you to believe that 22 million Americans voluntarily left the labor force because they no longer needed a job. While the number of employed grew by 5.6% over fourteen years, the number of people who left the workforce grew by 31.1%. Over this same time frame the mega-retailers that dominate the landscape added almost 3 billion square feet of selling space, a 25% increase. A critical thinking individual might wonder how this could possibly end well for the retail genius CEOs in glistening corporate office towers from coast to coast.
This entire materialistic orgy of consumerism has been sustained solely with debt peddled by the Wall Street banking syndicate. The average American consumer met their Waterloo in 2008. Bernanke’s mission was to save bankers, billionaires and politicians. It was not to save the working middle class. You’ve been sacrificed at the altar of the .1%. The 0% interest rates were for Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein. Your credit card interest rate remained between 13% and 21%. So, while you struggle to pay bills with your declining real income, the Wall Street bankers are again generating record profits and paying themselves record bonuses. Profits are so good, they can afford to pay tens of billions in fines for their criminal acts, and still be left with billions to divvy up among their non-prosecuted criminal executives.
Bernanke and his financial elite owners have been able to rig the markets to give the appearance of normalcy, but they cannot rig the demographic time bomb that will cause the death and destruction of our illusory retail paradigm. Demographics cannot be manipulated or altered by the government or mass media. The best they can do is ignore or lie about the facts. The life cycle of a human being is utterly predictable, along with their habits across time. Those under 25 years old have very little income, therefore they have very little spending. Once a job is attained and income levels rise, spending rises along with the increased income. As the person enters old age their income declines and spending on stuff declines rapidly. The media may be ignoring the fact that annual expenditures drop by 40% for those over 65 years old from the peak spending years of 45 to 54, but it doesn’t change the fact. They also cannot change the fact that 10,000 Americans will turn 65 every day for the next sixteen years. They also can’t change the fact the average Baby Boomer has less than $50,000 saved for retirement and is up to their grey eye brows in debt.
With over 15% of all 25 to 34 year olds living in their parents’ basement and those under 25 saddled with billions in student loan debt, the traditional increase in income and spending is DOA for the millennial generation. The hardest hit demographic on the job front during the 2008 through 2014 ongoing recession has been the 45 to 54 year olds in their peak earning and spending years. Combine these demographic developments and you’ve got a perfect storm for over-built retailers and their egotistical CEOs.
The media continues to peddle the storyline of on-line sales saving the ancient bricks and mortar retailers. Again, the talking head pundits are willfully ignoring basic math. On-line sales account for 6% of total retail sales. If a dying behemoth like JC Penney announces a 20% decline in same store sales and a 20% increase in on-line sales, their total change is still negative 17.6%. And they are still left with 1,100 decaying stores, 100,000 employees, lease payments, debt payments, maintenance costs, utility costs, inventory costs, and pension costs. Their future is so bright they gotta wear a toe tag.
The decades of mal-investment in retail stores was enabled by Greenspan, Bernanke, and their Federal Reserve brethren. Their easy money policies enabled Americans to live far beyond their true means through credit card debt, auto debt, mortgage debt, and home equity debt. This false illusion of wealth and foolish spending led mega-retailers to ignore facts and spread like locusts across the suburban countryside. The debt fueled orgy has run out of steam. All that is left is the largest mountain of debt in human history, a gutted and debt laden former middle class, and thousands of empty stores in future decaying ghost malls haunting the highways and byways of suburbia.
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. Real estate developers will be going belly-up and the banking sector will be taking huge losses again. I’m sure the remaining taxpayers will gladly bailout Wall Street again. The facts are not debatable. They can be ignored by the politicians, Ivy League economists, media talking heads, and the willfully ignorant masses, but they do not cease to exist.
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” – Aldous Huxley
Source: The Burning Platform
What really happened in the Ukrainian crisis?
It is freezing cold in Kiev, legendary city of golden domes on the banks of Dnieper River – cradle of ancient Russian civilisation and the most charming of East European capitals. It is a comfortable and rather prosperous place, with hundreds of small and cosy restaurants, neat streets, sundry parks and that magnificent river. The girls are pretty and the men are sturdy. Kiev is more relaxed than Moscow, and easier on the wallet. Though statistics say the Ukraine is broke and its people should be as poor as Africans, in reality they aren’t doing too badly, thanks to their fiscal imprudence. The government borrowed and spent freely, heavily subsidised housing and heating, and they brazenly avoided devaluation of the national currency and the austerity program prescribed by the IMF. This living on credit can go only so far: the Ukraine was doomed to default on its debts next month or sooner, and this is one of the reasons for the present commotion.
A tug-of-war between the East and the West for the future of Ukraine lasted over a month, and has ended for all practical purposes in a resounding victory for Vladimir Putin, adding to his previous successes in Syria and Iran. The trouble began when the administration of President Yanukovich went looking for credits to reschedule its loans and avoid default. There were no offers. They turned to the EC for help; the EC, chiefly Poland and Germany, seeing that the Ukrainian administration was desperate, prepared an association agreement of unusual severity.
The EC is quite hard on its new East European members, Latvia, Romania, Bulgaria et al.: these countries had their industry and agriculture decimated, their young people working menial jobs in Western Europe, their population drop exceeded that of the WWII.
But the association agreement offered to the Ukraine was even worse. It would turn the Ukraine into an impoverished colony of the EC without giving it even the dubious advantages of membership (such as freedom of work and travel in the EC). In desperation, Yanukovich agreed to sign on the dotted line, in vain hopes of getting a large enough loan to avoid collapse. But the EC has no money to spare – it has to provide for Greece, Italy, Spain. Now Russia entered the picture. At the time, relations of the Ukraine and Russia were far from good. Russians had become snotty with their oil money, the Ukrainians blamed their troubles on Russians, but Russia was still the biggest market for Ukrainian products.
For Russia, the EC agreement meant trouble: currently the Ukraine sells its output in Russia with very little customs protection; the borders are porous; people move freely across the border, without even a passport. If the EC association agreement were signed, the EC products would flood Russia through the Ukrainian window of opportunity. So Putin spelled out the rules to Yanukovich: if you sign with the EC, Russian tariffs will rise. This would put some 400,000 Ukrainians out of work right away. Yanukovich balked and refused to sign the EC agreement at the last minute. (I predicted this in my report from Kiev full three weeks before it happened, when nobody believed it – a source of pride).
The EC, and the US standing behind it, were quite upset. Besides the loss of potential economic profit, they had another important reason: they wanted to keep Russia farther away from Europe, and they wanted to keep Russia weak. Russia is not the Soviet Union, but some of the Soviet disobedience to Western imperial designs still lingers in Moscow: be it in Syria, Egypt, Vietnam, Cuba, Angola, Venezuela or Zimbabwe, the Empire can’t have its way while the Russian bear is relatively strong. Russia without the Ukraine can’t be really powerful: it would be like the US with its Mid-western and Pacific states chopped away. The West does not want the Ukraine to prosper, or to become a stable and strong state either, so it cannot join Russia and make it stronger. A weak, poor and destabilised Ukraine in semi-colonial dependence to the West with some NATO bases is the best future for the country, as perceived by Washington or Brussels.
Angered by this last-moment-escape of Yanukovich, the West activated its supporters. For over a month, Kiev has been besieged by huge crowds bussed from all over the Ukraine, bearing a local strain of the Arab Spring in the far north. Less violent than Tahrir, their Maidan Square became a symbol of struggle for the European strategic future of the country. The Ukraine was turned into the latest battle ground between the US-led alliance and a rising Russia. Would it be a revanche for Obama’s Syria debacle, or another heavy strike at fading American hegemony?
The simple division into “pro-East” and “pro-West” has been complicated by the heterogeneity of the Ukraine. The loosely knit country of differing regions is quite similar in its makeup to the Yugoslavia of old. It is another post-Versailles hotchpotch of a country made up after the First World War of bits and pieces, and made independent after the Soviet collapse in 1991. Some parts of this “Ukraine” were incorporated by Russia 500 years ago, the Ukraine proper (a much smaller parcel of land, bearing this name) joined Russia 350 years ago, whilst the Western Ukraine (called the “Eastern Regions”) was acquired by Stalin in 1939, and the Crimea was incorporated in the Ukrainian Soviet Republic by Khrushchev in 1954.
The Ukraine is as Russian as the South-of-France is French and as Texas and California are American. Yes, some hundreds years ago, Provence was independent from Paris, – it had its own language and art; while Nice and Savoy became French rather recently. Yes, California and Texas joined the Union rather late too. Still, we understand that they are – by now – parts of those larger countries, ifs and buts notwithstanding. But if they were forced to secede, they would probably evolve a new historic narrative stressing the French ill treatment of the South in the Cathar Crusade, or dispossession of Spanish and Russian residents of California.
Accordingly, since the Ukraine’s independence, the authorities have been busy nation-building, enforcing a single official language and creating a new national myth for its 45 million inhabitants. The crowds milling about the Maidan were predominantly (though not exclusively) arrivals from Galicia, a mountainous county bordering with Poland and Hungary, 500 km (300 miles) away from Kiev, and natives of the capital refer to the Maidan gathering as a “Galician occupation”.
Like the fiery Bretons, the Galicians are fierce nationalists, bearers of a true Ukrainian spirit (whatever that means). Under Polish and Austrian rule for centuries, whilst the Jews were economically powerful, they are a strongly anti-Jewish and anti-Polish lot, and their modern identity centred around their support for Hitler during the WWII, accompanied by the ethnic cleansing of their Polish and Jewish neighbours. After the WWII, the remainder of pro-Hitler Galician SS fighters were adopted by US Intelligence, re-armed and turned into a guerrilla force against the Soviets. They added an anti-Russian line to their two ancient hatreds and kept fighting the “forest war” until 1956, and these ties between the Cold Warriors have survived the thaw.
After 1991, when the independent Ukraine was created, in the void of state-building traditions, the Galicians were lauded as ‘true Ukrainians’, as they were the only Ukrainians who ever wanted independence. Their language was used as the basis of a new national state language, their traditions became enshrined on the state level. Memorials of Galician Nazi collaborators and mass murderers Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych peppered the land, often provoking the indignation of other Ukrainians. The Galicians played an important part in the 2004 Orange Revolution as well, when the results of presidential elections were declared void and the pro-Western candidate Mr Yuschenko got the upper hand in the re-run.
However, in 2004, many Kievans also supported Yuschenko, hoping for the Western alliance and a bright new future. Now, in 2013, the city’s support for the Maidan was quite low, and the people of Kiev complained loudly about the mess created by the invading throngs: felled trees, burned benches, despoiled buildings and a lot of biological waste. Still, Kiev is home to many NGOs; city intellectuals receive generous help from the US and EC. The old comprador spirit is always strongest in the capitals.
For the East and Southeast of the Ukraine, the populous and heavily industrialised regions, the proposal of association with the EC is a no-go, with no ifs, ands or buts. They produce coal, steel, machinery, cars, missiles, tanks and aircraft. Western imports would erase Ukrainian industry right off the map, as the EC officials freely admit. Even the Poles, hardly a paragon of industrial development, had the audacity to say to the Ukraine: we’ll do the technical stuff, you’d better invest in agriculture. This is easier to say than to do: the EC has a lot of regulations that make Ukrainian products unfit for sale and consumption in Europe. Ukrainian experts estimated their expected losses for entering into association with the EC at anything from 20 to 150 billion euros.
For Galicians, the association would work fine. Their speaker at the Maidan called on the youth to ‘go where you can get money’ and do not give a damn for industry. They make their income in two ways: providing bed-and breakfast rooms for Western tourists and working in Poland and Germany as maids and menials. They hoped they would get visa-free access to Europe and make a decent income for themselves. Meanwhile, nobody offered them a visa-waiver arrangement. The Brits mull over leaving the EC, because of the Poles who flooded their country; the Ukrainians would be too much for London. Only the Americans, always generous at somebody’s else expense, demanded the EC drop its visa requirement for them.
While the Maidan was boiling, the West sent its emissaries, ministers and members of parliament to cheer the Maidan crowd, to call for President Yanukovich to resign and for a revolution to install pro-Western rule. Senator McCain went there and made a few firebrand speeches. The EC declared Yanukovich “illegitimate” because so many of his citizens demonstrated against him. But when millions of French citizens demonstrated against their president, when Occupy Wall Street was violently dispersed, nobody thought the government of France or the US president had lost legitimacy…
Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State, shared her biscuits with the demonstrators, and demanded from the oligarchs support for the “European cause” or their businesses would suffer. The Ukrainian oligarchs are very wealthy, and they prefer the Ukraine as it is, sitting on the fence between the East and the West. They are afraid that the Russian companies will strip their assets should the Ukraine join the Customs Union, and they know that they are not competitive enough to compete with the EC. Pushed now by Nuland, they were close to falling on the EC side.
Yanukovich was in big trouble. The default was rapidly approaching. He annoyed the pro-Western populace, and he irritated his own supporters, the people of the East and Southeast. The Ukraine had a real chance of collapsing into anarchy. A far-right nationalist party, Svoboda (Liberty), probably the nearest thing to the Nazi party to arise in Europe since 1945, made a bid for power. The EC politicians accused Russia of pressurising the Ukraine; Russian missiles suddenly emerged in the western-most tip of Russia, a few minutes flight from Berlin. The Russian armed forces discussed the US strategy of a “disarming first strike”. The tension was very high.
Edward Lucas, the Economist’s international editor and author of The New Cold War, is a hawk of the Churchill and Reagan variety. For him, Russia is an enemy, whether ruled by Tsar, by Stalin or by Putin. He wrote: “It is no exaggeration to say that the [Ukraine] determines the long-term future of the entire former Soviet Union. If Ukraine adopts a Euro-Atlantic orientation, then the Putin regime and its satrapies are finished… But if Ukraine falls into Russia’s grip, then the outlook is bleak and dangerous… Europe’s own security will also be endangered. NATO is already struggling to protect the Baltic states and Poland from the integrated and increasingly impressive military forces of Russia and Belarus. Add Ukraine to that alliance, and a headache turns into a nightmare.”
In this cliff-hanging situation, Putin made his pre-emptive strike. At a meeting in the Kremlin, he agreed to buy fifteen billion euros worth of Ukrainian Eurobonds and cut the natural gas price by a third. This meant there would be no default; no massive unemployment; no happy hunting ground for the neo-Nazi thugs of Svoboda; no cheap and plentiful Ukrainian prostitutes and menials for the Germans and Poles; and Ukrainian homes will be warm this Christmas. Better yet, the presidents agreed to reforge their industrial cooperation. When Russia and Ukraine formed a single country, they built spaceships; apart, they can hardly launch a naval ship. Though unification isn’t on the map yet, it would make sense for both partners. This artificially divided country can be united, and it would do a lot of good for both of their populaces, and for all people seeking freedom from US hegemony.
There are a lot of difficulties ahead: Putin and Yanukovich are not friends, Ukrainian leaders are prone to renege, the US and the EC have a lot of resources. But meanwhile, it is a victory to celebrate this Christmas tide. Such victories keep Iran safe from US bombardment, inspire the Japanese to demand removal of Okinawa base, encourage those seeking closure of Guantanamo jail, cheer up Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, frighten the NSA and CIA and allow French Catholics to march against Hollande’s child-trade laws.
What is the secret of Putin’s success? Edward Lucas said, in an interview to the pro-Western Ekho Moskvy radio: “Putin had a great year – Snowden, Syria, Ukraine. He checkmated Europe. He is a great player: he notices our weaknesses and turns them into his victories. He is good in diplomatic bluff, and in the game of Divide and Rule. He makes the Europeans think that the US is weak, and he convinced the US that Europeans are useless”.
I would offer an alternative explanation. The winds and hidden currents of history respond to those who feel their way. Putin is no less likely a roguish leader of global resistance than Princess Leia or Captain Solo were in Star Wars. Just the time for such a man is ripe.
Unlike Solo, he is not an adventurer. He is a prudent man. He does not try his luck, he waits, even procrastinates. He did not try to change regime in Tbilisi in 2008, when his troops were already on the outskirts of the city. He did not try his luck in Kiev, either. He has spent many hours in many meetings with Yanukovich whom he supposedly personally dislikes.
Like Captain Solo, Putin is a man who is ready to pay his way, full price, and such politicians are rare. “Do you know what is the proudest word you will ever hear from an Englishman’s mouth?”, asked a James Joyce character, and answered: “His proudest boast is I paid my way.” Those were Englishmen of another era, long before the likes of Blair, et al.
While McCain and Nuland, Merkel and Bildt speak of the European choice for the Ukraine, none of them is ready to pay for it. Only Russia is ready to pay her way, in the Joycean sense, whether in cash, as now, or in blood, as in WWII.
Putin is also a magnanimous man. He celebrated his Ukrainian victory and forthcoming Christmas by forgiving his personal and political enemies and setting them free: the Pussy Riot punks, Khodorkovsky the murderous oligarch, rioters… And his last press conference he carried out in Captain Solo self-deprecating mode, and this, for a man in his position, is a very good sign.
As the global financial crisis now enters its seventh year, it is time to start asking difficult questions about the right priorities for popular protest if we want to realise a truly united voice of the world’s people. There can be no revolution in a truly moral or global sense until the critical needs of the extreme poor are prioritised and upheld, which will require mass mobilisations in the streets like we have never seen before.
At the onset of 2014, many people are now anticipating the prospect of a ‘global revolution’. The intense revolutionary fervour of 2011 may have dissipated in North America and much of Western Europe in the past couple of years, but a new geography of protest continues to shift and transmute in different countries and world regions – the million people on the streets of Brazil in June last year; the earlier defence of the commons in Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park; the indigenous uprising and student protests across Canada; the Ukraine demonstrations that are still under way.
There is no way of predicting where a mass protest movement will kick off next or what form it will take, but analysts expect that an even larger-scale version of an Occupy Wall Street-type movement will emerge in 2014. The conditions for a truly global political awakening are firmly in place, and few can believe in the politician’s rhetoric about the world economy sorting out its problems during the year ahead. Wealth and income inequalities continue to spiral out of control, increasingly to the benefit of the 1% (or indeed the 0.001%). Austerity policies pushed by governments on both sides of the Atlantic continue to threaten the social gains made since the Second World War, which is deepening social divisions and creating a new situation of desperately poor and hungry people in Britain, America and many so-called wealthy countries.
And there is no shortage of analysis about the structural crisis of our political and economic systems, from chronic unemployment and falling real incomes to corporate-captured representative democracies and Orwellian state controls. At the same time, governments remain committed to the paradigm of endless growth for its own sake, and are nearly all beholden to the interests of giant energy corporations that are determined to burn more fossil fuels than the planet can absorb without becoming unliveable. Not to mention the escalation of climate and ecological disasters, dwindling oil reserves, the risk of food shortages and further food price volatility, or even the prospect of global terrorism. Hence the growing understanding among everyday people that we are in the midst of a crisis of civilization, and we cannot rely on our existing government administrations to affect a necessary transformation of the international political and economic order.
The revised meaning of ‘revolution’
As we continue along this chaotic and uncertain road, the very idea of social or political ‘revolution’ is taking on new and different meanings. A common understanding of the term is no longer limited to the revolutionary wave of actions of the 20th century, which were typically led by charismatic leaders and a strong ideology, and often involved the violent overthrow of state power (notwithstanding such heroic examples of non-violent political struggle as Gandhi, Luther King and Vaclav Havel). But now we have the examples of Occupy, the Arab Spring, the Taksim Square demonstrations and other mass protest movements that defy conventional explanation in their spontaneous and largely peaceful mobilisations, their leaderless structures and practice of horizontal democracy, as well as their disavowal of traditional left/right politics and ideologies or ‘isms’, such as socialism and communism.
Since 2011 there is also much serious talk of a revolution of love and a collective awakening to our spiritual potential as human beings, as captured in the now-famous words of Russell Brand who advocates a “total revolution of consciousness and our entire social, political and economic systems”. Others speak of a revolution in our sense of self as ‘global citizens’, in which we equate our own interests with those of people anywhere in the world, and we no longer conform to a financialised vision of society in which we are forced to compete with everyone else as ‘others’. In short, a renewed sense of idealism and hope is everywhere being felt for a new society to be built from within the existing one, and for a revolution in every sense of the word – in our values, our imaginations, our lifestyles and our social relations, as well as in our political and economic structures.
What still isn’t clear is how the growing call for revolutionary change and new economic models can be realised on a truly international basis, and for the common good of all people in all countries – not only for the citizens of individual nations (in particular within the most advanced economies). The new protest movements may draw on a concept of human rights that is necessarily international, and they may be driven by social networks and communications technology that is shared beyond national borders, but their various concerns and demands are still generally of a domestic and country-specific nature.
Following the artful state repression of Occupy Wall Street, the vision of a collectively organised alternative to neoliberal politics is too often lost in a fight for or against individual reforms, while the Occupy movement as a whole has become increasingly atomised and fragmented. The Arab Spring is fast fading in memory, as exemplified by the political chaos and recent crackdown on popular dissent in Egypt. And there is little evidence of a shared agenda for change that can unify citizens of the richest and poorest nations on a common platform, one that recognises the need for global as well as national forms of redistribution as a pathway towards sharing the world rather than keeping it divided.
Blueprints for a new world
This is not to say that realistic proposals for planetary change do not exist, as individuals and groups everywhere are discussing the necessary reforms and objectives for how the economy should be run democratically at all levels, from the local to global. An abundance of enlightened thinking outlines the need for a ‘revolution’ in every aspect of our economic and political systems – a commons revolution, a food sovereignty revolution, a renewable energy revolution, the next American revolution – which altogether articulate an effective blueprint for a new and better world. But great uncertainty remains around how this crucial transformation of our lives can be affected when such immensely powerful forces of economic and political self-interest control the current world direction, combined with political apathy and disengagement among a vast swathe of the population.
With the global financial and economic crisis now entering its seventh year, it is time to start asking some difficult questions about the right priorities for popular protest if we want to realise a truly united voice of the world’s people. It is inevitable that the gap between rich and poor will continue to increase in most countries, and the reality of poverty and hunger will worsen across the world – regardless of the distorted arguments by the World Bank and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) coterie at the UN. And as living standards decline for many middle-class families in developed countries, there is a risk that people will remain preoccupied with their own situations and solely national concerns, which is already where all the militant strength is being directed in European and U.S. protest movements.
But there is no escaping the enormous disparities in wealth and income between rich OECD countries and the less developed nations, where millions of people face such extreme deprivation and food insecurity that at least 40,000 people needlessly die each day from poverty-related causes. There can be no genuine revolution in a moral or global sense until the critical needs of these voiceless poor are prioritised and upheld, which will require mass mobilisations in the streets like we have never seen before – not only predicated on redistributing resources from the 1% to the 99% within our own countries, but also centred on a shared demand for a fairer distribution of wealth, power and resources across the entire world. Perhaps that is where the true meaning of ‘global revolution’ begins, and it could be our greatest hope for a sustainable and just future in the coming year and beyond.
Millions of older Americans say they will never be able to retire. They simply don’t have the savings. According to CNN, “Roughly three-quarters of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, with little to no emergency savings…50% have less than a three-month cushion and 27% had no savings at all….” (“76% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck“, CNN Money)
“No savings at all”?
That’s right. So retirement is out of the question. A sizable chunk of the adult population is going to punch a clock until they keel-over in the office parking lot and get hauled off in the company dumpster. And those are the lucky ones, the so called baby boomers. By the time we get to the millennials it’ll be even worse because the economy will have been ravaged by 25 or 30 years of austerity leaving the proles to scrape by on hardtack and gruel. Pensions are already being looted, Social Security is under fire, and any small stipend that supports the poor, the unemployed, or the infirm is going to be terminated. That’s why everyone is so down-in-the-mouth, because their expectations of the future are so bleak. Check this out from Business Insider:
“For millennials, the situation is even more grim. Compared to their parents at their age, the under-30 set is worth only half as much. And while this is a sobering reminder of the scale of the Great Recession’s impact on younger generations, it’s not the whole story. These households were actually falling behind even before the stock market and housing crash, researchers found.
Young people not only saw their wages stagnate or drop but also suffered a rise in fixed costs. They leave college with an average $27,000 debt load and have a harder time finding jobs that pay well, while facing more expensive health care and housing costs.
“If these generations cannot accumulate wealth, they will be less able to support themselves when unexpected emergencies arise or when they eventually retire,” the study authors said. “This financial uncertainty could reverberate throughout the economy, since entrepreneurial activity, saving, and investment tend to build on a base of confidence and growing wealth.”(“AMERICA IN DECLINE: Young People Are Much Worse Off Than Their Parents Were At That Age“, Business Insider)
An entire generation of young people have been raped and discarded by their government and all the author cares about is the impact it will have on personal consumption.
Go figure. And there’s a larger point here too, which is that Americans have always believed that their children would enjoy a higher standard of living than their own. Until now, that is. Now most people think things are going to get worse, much worse. You see it in all the surveys. Expectations have changed, the future looks darker than ever before, and people are scared. Check this out from CNN:
“Things appear to be looking up for the economy.
On Wednesday the Federal Reserve felt confident enough to begin slowly withdrawing the huge economic stimulus the central bank has been pumping into the economy.
Unemployment is the lowest in five years. Economic growth picked up recently. The housing sector — which got us into this mess in the first place — is bouncing back. Home sales, prices and construction are all on the rise.
Auto sales recently had their strongest growth since 2006. Gas prices have fallen dramatically this year, and the stock market has risen sharply.
And there’s some reason to be hopeful for next year too. The Fed announced a slightly improved outlook for unemployment in 2014.
But things aren’t always as good as they seem. For many Americans, all the good news in the larger economy isn’t translating over to everyday life. Only 24% of the public believe economic conditions are improving, while nearly four-in-ten say the nation’s economy is actually getting worse, according to a recent CNN poll.” (“Is the economy as good as it looks?“, CNN Money)
That’s right; no one is buying the “recovery” crappola any more. They all know it’s BS. And a closer look at the CNN survey tells you why.
“Looking specifically at the economy, 39% feel that the economy is still in a downturn, up six points from April. Only 24% believe that an economic recovery is under way. Thirty-six percent are in the middle – they don’t think we’re in a recovery but they believe conditions have stabilized.” (CNN Politics)
So, 3 out of 4 people think we’re either still in a severe slump or running in place.(stagnation) That’s your recovery in a nutshell. And it explains why people hate bankers, Wall Street, and Congress. It also explains why millennials have given up on Obama after finally acknowledging that the man is a bumptious blowhard who’s never lifted a finger to help the people who shoehorned his worthless keister into office. Take a look at this from Policy Mic:
“Debt-weary millennials are disillusioned with Obama’s performance with regard to the economy, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, his handling of foreign relations”…
A new poll conducted by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics has revealed that young Americans’ support for President Barack Obama has reached the lowest point yet. According to the poll, only 41% of Americans aged 18-29 approve of Obama’s performance in office, an 11% drop since April.” (“Millennials officially hate Obama. Here’s why“, policymic)
Ahhh, so people are finally waking up to what an unprincipled phony this guy is. Good!
Unfortunately, ripping Obama won’t pay the bills, which is why so many people are making painful adjustments in their own lives to make ends meet. Aside from cutting back on trips to the doctor and setting the thermostat on “Off”, America’s plenteous graybeards are staying on the job longer than ever. Here’s a clip from an article in Forbes:
“An alarming 37% of middle class Americans believe they’ll work until they’re too sick or until they die.
Another 34% believes retirement will come at the ripe age of 80…
It’s a grim look at the state of retirement which seems to be getting worse for middle class Americans.
Wells Fargo WFC -0.09% interviewed 1,000 Americans between age 25 and 75 and with household income ranging between $25,000 and $99,000. More than half (59%) said their top day-to-day financial concern is paying the monthly bills; that’s up from 52% who said the same last year.
“We do this survey every year and for the past three years, the struggle to pay bills is a growing concern and the prospect of saving for retirement looks dim, particularly for those in their prime saving years,” Laurie Nordquist, head of Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust, says in the report.
And here’s something for leaders in Washington DC to consider: One third of those surveyed said their primary source of retirement income will come from social security. That figure gets even bigger for those who make less than $50,000–48% of those earners say social security is going to be their primary retirement income.” (“Work Until You Die? More Middle Class Americans Say They Can Never Retire“, Halah Touryalai, Forbes)
How do you like that, eh? So nearly half the people who make less than $50,000 are counting on Social Security as their “primary retirement income.” At the same time, our old buddy Obama is planning to cut Social Security to keep his criminal friends on Wall Street happy.
That means a whole lot of us are going to be stuck bussing tables at Olive Garden until they carry us out feet first.
Your doing a hechuva job, Barry!
How do you sum up 2013 as a year for the United States and her citizens? What criteria do you use? Good, bad and ugly? As Clint Eastwood said, “A man’s got to know his limitations. Well, do ya’ punk?” The same could be said for our country. Do we understand our limitations?
On the immigration front, 20 million illegal aliens “itched” to get themselves legalized so they could continue their “Aztlan Reconquista” of the four southwestern states. Spanish co-equals English in America because Congress runs from any sense of responsibility to our immigration laws and the English language that built America. As their numbers grow, illegal migrants march toward their goal with the help of President Barack Obama, himself a non-citizen, the ACLU, and 535 Congressional critters that refuse to enforce our Constitutional laws.
After 11 years replete with $1 trillion wasted, our military men and women remain in the Islamic insane asylum of Afghanistan doing nothing but pouring money and lives down the rat-hole. The military industrial complex works its wonders with Obama and Congress to start a war with Iran. The bankers and moneychangers lick their chops at the thought of endless and meaningless wars overseas. As General Smedley Butler said in his memoirs, “War is a racket for bankers and politicians.”
Psychologists expect anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 young men will commit suicide from their senseless service in the Islamic nuthouse of the Middle East. Endless forms of PTSD cause broken marriages, fatherless families, alcoholic & drug addicted soldiers and nonstop misfortune for our military veterans.
For a 5th straight year, Barack Obama proves himself an inept, incompetent and totally lackluster president of the United States. Food stamp recipients charged from 36 million at the beginning of his first term to 48.1 million subsisting on food stamps today. He drove the federal deficit from $12 trillion in 2008 to its current $18 trillion in 2013. More blacks suffer unemployment, poverty, incarceration and welfare than under any other president.
While 14 million Americans remained unemployed and 7 million under employed, Obama and Congress imported over 2.0 million legal and illegal immigrants into America in 2013. Obama and Congress failed to create jobs for the 48.1 million Americans living on food stamps, but they increased section 8 housing, “free” school lunches, medical care and ESL courses for illegal foreign children.
Because the U.S. continues as the third largest and fastest growing country because of immigration, we also accelerate global carbon footprint with millions of added car exhausts, chimneys and factories that acidifies our oceans and causes such horrific weather changes that create Hurricane Sandy, Katrina and Typhoon Haiyan. With the expected 100 million additional immigrants in the next 36 years, we can expect Mother Nature to respond commensurately.
On the sociological front, we saw Hispanic George Zimmerman kill one young thug named Trayvon Martin that created national headlines while 1,400 black Americans killed another 1,400 black Americans—but no one at the national level, the Black Caucus or Al Sharpton made a mention of blacks slaughtering blacks. Meanwhile, the mainstream media made not one mention of “Black Flash Mobs” or “Black Knockout Games” where American blacks run around killing whites for the fun of it. Three blacks in Oklahoma killed a white Australian college baseball player, “For the fun of it.”
If you look at the dropout/flunkout rates in our educational systems such as a 76 percent high school dropout rate in Detroit, Michigan to 60 percent flunkout rate in Mexican-dominated Los Angeles, we continue on our downward spiral of a “functionally illiterate” civilization where dumb people outnumber educated people, but enjoy endless welfare, food, cell phones, medical care and housing on the backs of those of us who study, work and contribute.
On the federal level, we see a culture of corruption in the Obama White House and Congress that gave us incompetence, malfeasance and covered up the Benghazi murders, Fast and Furious gun running, NSA spying, 22 Islamic jihad compounds now operating in America and imported tens of thousands of Muslims via legal immigration that will end up undermining our country’s culture, language and laws.
Sharia Law charges into our country as fast as their numbers grow. Obama features eight Islamic staff working full time in the White House. In the next three years, we will see countless tens of thousands of Muslims imported into America to bring “hope and change” for Islam in America. At some point, Muslims will bomb our electrical grid with multiple-coordinated teams, which will make 9/11 look like a garden party. Few of us realize our vulnerability, and remember, when jihad warriors succeed, they enjoy 72 virgins in Islamic heaven.
On the health-care front, Obamacare stumbled, faltered and fell on every level. Ironically, Americans show they don’t care about their health, as over half of our population grows intolerably obese. Fifty millions Americans smoke, 10 million alcoholics abound while diabetes became a national epidemic. Cancer continues as the number one killer, but few connect it to our contaminated air, water and soil via endless chemicals injected into our biosphere.
On the trade front, China owns us. They buy U.S. companies, land and entire office districts here in the USA. By the time they get done, they will dictate what we do, who we are and how we operate.
As we transform and deform into a polyglot, chaotic, multi-lingual and multicultural society, we continue to watch the Middle Class degrade into non-existence. We watch the American flag become the Mexican flag, the Middle Eastern flag and hundreds of other flags from immigrants that could care less about America.
On the international front, no one suspects or reports on the growing radioactive plume originating from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown. That radio-active water circulates into all the oceans—contaminating every living creature below the waters around the world—and contaminating all the fish and marine life we use for food. That event will prove the greatest ecological debacle for humanity for all of history. Cancers, destroyed eco-systems, degraded oceans and much worse await humanity.
What’s amazing about 2013? Men wasted 29 hours weekly watching the idiot box as to football, baseball, hockey and basketball. For the Americans with jobs, we partied, played and ordered pizza. We drove around without the faintest clue as to what Congress and Obama continue accomplishing: utterly and completely ignoring our sacred Constitution and Bill of Rights.
As we dance into 2014, I can only appreciate that our country faces financial collapse, sociological degradation, environmental deterioration, accelerated immigration numbers to 2.0 million annually, millions of jobless whites, blacks and Hispanics, energy exhaustion, environmental breakdown and resource depletion.
Will 2014 get better? This should foreshadow the answer as Mark Twain said, “Suppose you were an idiot; and suppose you were a member of Congress; ah, but I repeat myself.”
Another Facebook writer said, “Obama is what you get when you allow idiots, illegals and welfare recipients to vote.”
Turkey is a democracy in name only. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is ruling despot.
He’s led Ankara’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) since August 2001. He’s been prime minister since March 2003. Why Turks put up with him they’ll have to explain.
Last spring, anti-government protests rocked Ankara, Istanbul and other Turkish cities. Police violence followed. Brutality is longstanding policy. Corruption is deep-seated.
It’s rife in Turkey’s construction sector. Erdogan established a land sales office. Ostensibly it was to build affordable public housing.
Widespread privatizations followed. Billions of dollars worth of government assets were sold.
Sweetheart deals and bribes accompanied them. Well-connected companies got no-bid contracts. State banks provided generous financing.
Projects developed had nothing to do with public housing. Berat Albayrak heads Calik Holding. He’s well connected. He’s Erdogan’s son-in-law.
He may be linked to the corruption probe. He builds power plants in Turkmenistan. He’s involved in an AKP backed oil pipeline project. He has other government related business.
The current scandal stems from a year ago anonymous letter. It was sent to police. It alleged Ankara and local government authorities illegally facilitated construction projects. Huge profits were involved.
Surveillance, phone tapping, and other investigatory methods followed. They produced considerable evidence of corruption. Government ministers are involved. Million dollar bribes were paid.
State-run Halk Bank head was found with about $4.5 million in cash. It was at home. It was stashed in shoe boxes.
Millions more were seized from other suspects. Over a dozen are accused of bribery and money laundering, as well as gold and antiques smuggling.
On December 17, Turkey’s Financial Crimes and Battle Against Criminal Incomes department detained 47 people.
Sons of Ankara’s Economy, Interior and Environment and Urban Planning ministers are involved.
So is Fatih district municipality major Mustafa Demir and real estate tycoon Ali Agaoglu. Minister of European Union Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis is being investigated.
Whether scandal touches Erdogan remains to be seen. He claims attempts to do so will be “left empty handed.”
On Christmas day, he reshuffled his cabinet. Three ministers resigned. He sack 10 others. He replaced them. Events are fast-moving.
Erdogan Bayraktar was Minister of Environment and Urban Planning. He was a member of parliament. He felt forced to resign both posts.
He said Erdogan should do so. He claimed suspect construction projects under investigation were approved with Erdogan’s full knowledge.
“With your permission, I want to make very short statements in the form of a press statement,” he said.
“It is of course a right and an authority for Mr. Prime Minister to work with whichever minister he wants and to remove whichever minister he wants from office.”
“But I do not accept the pressure being put on me which says, ‘Resign because of an operation in which there are statements of bribery and corruption and release a declaration that will relieve me.’ “
“I do not (accept it) because a big part of the zoning plans that are in the investigation file and were confirmed were made with approval from Mr. Prime Minister.”
“For the sake of the well-being of this nation, I believe the prime minister should resign.”
He accused him of involvement in suspect property deals. He’s linked to profiteering business interests.
Scandal heads closer to directly connecting him. Perhaps it will as investigations continue. Turkish Professor Soli Ozel called Bayraktar’s call for Erdogan’s resignation “extraordinarily dramatic.”
He’s “someone who was very close to the prime minister. This is someone you’d expect to fall on his sword without question.”
Other analysts see things potentially spinning out of control. Whether Erdogan can prevent it remains to be seen.
He may end up victimized by his own transgressions. It depends on how much public anger grows. He weathered previous crises. It’s hard to know if this one is too great to contain.
Investigations targeted over 90 suspects. Over two dozen were arrested. Dozens of police chiefs were sacked. Erdogan is far from squeaky-clean.
On December 21, Ankara’s police department Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime Unit head Hakan Yuksekdag was found dead in his car. Officially it was pronounced suicide.
Further investigation is being conducted. The incident occurred a day after 14 senior Ankara National Police Department officials were removed from their posts.
Erdogan blamed ongoing events on an international conspiracy. He vowed revenge on figures connected to Muhammed Fethullah Gulen.
He heads the movement bearing his name. He claims a million or more followers. They include judges and senior police officials.
He’s currently in self-imposed exile. He’s in Pennsylvania. He’s a writer, former imam, and Islamic opinion leader. He’s an important figure.
He’s involved with issues relating to Turkey’s future. He and Erdogan haven’t gotten along for years.
Former Minister of Internal Affairs Idris Naim Sahin said Erdogan’s actions fall short of law and justice. He’s trying to defuse public anger, he said. He’s shifting blame to do it.
Thousands of Istanbul, Ankara, and Ismir protesters demanded Erdogan’s resignation. They did so on Christmas. They did it in other cities. They protested last spring.
They’re justifiably outraged. Their longstanding anger hasn’t waned. Erdogan works against their well-being. Clashes with police erupted. Arrests followed.
Protesters chanted; “Three ministers aren’t enough. The whole government should resign. Corruption is everywhere. Resistance is everywhere.”
Opposition party members accused Erdogan of deepening despotic rule. Critics use the term “deep state.” It refers to a shadowy power structure. It lacks checks and balances.
Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) is Erdogan’s main rival. It’s Turkey’s oldest political party. It’s AKP’s Main Opposition in the Grand National Assembly. Kemal Kilicdaroglu heads it.
“Erdogan has a ‘deep state,’ ” he said. His AKP “has a ‘deep state.’ ” Efkan Ala is new Interior Minister.
He’s an Erdogan crony. He formerly was Diyarbakir Province governor. He’s part of what’s ongoing, said Kilicdaroglu.
He believes Ala’s appointment is part of an Erdogan power grab. He wants greater police control. Outgoing Interior Minister Muammer Guler fired hundreds of police officers. Senior commanders were sacked.
Erdogan’s new ministers were carefully chosen. He appointed officials “that will not show any opposition to him,” said Kilicdaroglu.
Turkey is more police state than democracy. Press freedom is compromised. Censorship is standard practice. Dissent is verboten. Challenging government authority is called terrorism.
No country imprisons more journalists than Turkey. Corruption is deep-seated. Neoliberal harshness writ large is policy. Popular interests are spurned.
Erdogan represents wealth, power and privilege. It’s hard imagining he’s not involved in corruption in some way. He’s gotten his son-in-law business tycoon sweetheart deals.
He prioritizes Turkey’s business model. It reflects capitalism’s dark side. It includes unrestrained profit-making, privatizations, cheap labor, deregulation, corporate-friendly tax cuts, marginalized worker rights, and speculative capital inflows.
Economic conditions are inherently unstable. Turkey suffers rolling recessions, crisis conditions, and fragile largely jobless recoveries. It’s increasingly dependent on imports of resources and capital goods.
Youth unemployment tops 22%. An entire generation is affected. Conditions are socially and economically unstable.
Privation fuels public anger. Eventually it may spiral out-of-control. It may be just a matter of time. Turkey has a long history of rebellion.
Erdogan is increasingly hated. He weathered last spring’s anti-government protests. It remains to be seen what’s next.
Nicolas Spiro heads Spiro Sovereign Strategy. “The dismissal of half an entire cabinet is worrying enough,” he said. “The corruption probe is escalating by the day.”
It’s “causing a further deterioration in market sentiment towards Turkey.” Erdogan’s new cabinet includes four deputy prime ministers.
Ayse Islam is the only woman appointed. She’s Family and Social Policy Minister. Others include:
Deputy prime minister: Bulent Arinc
Deputy prime minister: Ali Babacan
Deputy prime minister: Besir Atalay
Deputy prime minister: Emrullah Isler
Justice: Bekir Bozdag
Defense: Ismet Yilmaz
Interior: Efkan Ala
Foreign Affairs: Ahmet Davutoglu
European Union: Mevlut Cavusoglu
Finance: Mehmet Simsek
Economy: Nihat Zeybekci
Energy and Natural Resources: Taner Yildiz
National Education: Nabi Avci
Labour and Social Security: Faruk Celik
Environment and Urban Development: Idris Gulluce
Health: Mehmet Muezzinoglu
Transport: Lutfi Elvan
Food, Agriculture and Husbandry: Mehmet Mehdi Eker
Science, Industry and Technology: Fikri Isik
Culture and Tourism: Omer Celik
Forestry and Water Affairs: Veysel Eroglu
Customs and Trade: Hayati Yazici
Development: Cevdet Yilmaz
Youth and Sports: Akif Cagatay Kilic
Scandal erupted months ahead of next March’s local elections. Parliamentary elections involving Erdogan are scheduled in 2015.
If held today, voters might oust him. It’s way too early to know how they’ll react in 2015. Istanbul-based Global Source Partners analyst Atilla Yesilada said ongoing events suggest Erdogan is losing control.
“Forced to act, (he) tried to get rid of his burdens,” he said. “But this is a political crisis, and it is hard to tell how it will unfold. These investigations may expand in coming months.”
Doing so perhaps may link Erdogan to deep-seated corruption. If so, he may be forced to resign. The fullness of time will tell.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
“The powers of financial capitalism had (a) far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland; a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank… sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world.” – Carroll Quigley, member of the Council on Foreign Relations
If one wishes to truly understand the actions behind private Federal Reserve policy, one must come to terms with a fundamental reality – everything the Fed does it does for a reason, and the most apparent reasons are not always the primary reasons. If you think that the Fed simply acts on impulsive stupidity or hubris, then you haven’t a clue what is going on. If you think the Fed only does what it does in order to hide the numerous negative aspects of our current economy, then you only know half the story. If you think the Fed does not have a plan, then you are sorely mistaken…
Central Bankers and their political proponents espouse a globalist ideology, meaning, they are internationalists in their orientation and motivations. They do not have loyalties to any particular country. They do not take an oath to any particular constitution. They do not have empathy for any particular culture or social experiment. They have their own subculture, with their own “values”, and their own social hierarchy. They are a kind of “tribe” or “sect”; a cult,if you will, that views itself as superior to all others. This means that when the central bankers that run the Fed act, they only act with the intention to support and promote globalization, not the best interests of America and Americans.
The process of globalization REQUIRES the dissolution of the U.S. economy as it exists today. Period. There is no way around it. America can no longer remain a superpower in the face of what globalists call “harmonization”. The dollar can no longer maintain its petro-currency status or its world reserve status if total centralization under a new global currency is to be achieved. Globalists believe that America must be sacrificed on the altar of “progress”, and diminished into a mere enclave, a feudal colony of a greater global system. The globalists at the Fed are no different.
Once this driving philosophy is understood, the final conclusion is obvious – the Fed exists to destroy the U.S. financial system and the U.S. currency mechanism. That is what they are here for.
This is why the dollar has lost 98% of its value since the Fed was established in 1913. This is why the Fed deliberately engineered the derivatives bubble crisis through the implementation of artificially low interest rates. This is why their response to the crisis was to create yet another massive bubble in stocks and bonds through QE stimulus. This is why the Fed is cutting stimulus today.
How does the taper play into the long running program of dollar destruction and globalization? Let’s take a look…
The Multifaceted Taper Strategy
In my article ‘Is The Fed Ready To Cut America’s Fiat Life Support’, and my article ‘Expect Devastating Global Economic Changes In 2014′, I predicted that a Fed taper was highly likely. Central banks almost always implant policy shift rumors into the mainstream media a few months before they implement them. They did this for TARP, for QE1, QE2, QE3, and the Taper. In fact, the Fed spent the better part of the past quarter conditioning investors to the idea of stimulus cuts, so I was not at all surprised when they followed through.
The Fed has, of course, now announced a $10 billion QE reduction just in time for Christmas and the 100th anniversary of the privately run institution. In the past, I have pointed out the tendency of central banks to enforce detrimental policy changes while the government, the economy and/or the bank itself is in the midst of a major transition. The Fed’s taper announcement comes just in time for the end of Ben Bernanke’s term as chairman, and the expected nomination of Janet Yellen.
This is done, I believe, because it provides an opportunity to divert blame for a crisis event they know is on the horizon. If attention is ever focused on the Fed specifically for a market downturn or bond disaster triggered by the ever present dollar bubble, Yellen can simply blame the QE policies of Bernanke (who will be long gone), while promising that her “new” policies will surely repair the damage. This placates the public and buys the central bankers time to do even MORE damage.
The taper itself is not just a “head fake”, however. It is a far more complex action. Tapering provides a method of psychologically distancing the Federal Reserve from the consequences of market movements. The banksters are essentially proclaiming to the public that their work is done, they have saved the economy, and now they are moving on, be it only $10 billion at a time. Whatever happens from here on is “not their fault”.
Most alternative analysts expected no taper of QE, and for good reason. While the mainstream touts the propaganda of economic recovery, independent financial experts understand that little to nothing was actually accomplished by the bailouts. Virtually no stimulus was absorbed in a localized way by mainstreet business. Real unemployment counting U-6 measurements still stands at around 20%. Real estate markets and home prices have a received a small boost, which at first glance appears positive until one examines who is actually buying; namely big banks and international investment firms snapping up properties only to reissue them on the market as rentals:
U.S. holiday retail sales and annual retail sales have been the weakest since 2009:
The only thing that QE ultimately accomplished was a spectacular rise in stocks through direct manipulation, which Fed agents like Alan Greenspan and Richard Fisher now openly admit to. The problem is, while gamblers in equities proudly boast about the Fed induced bull run in the Dow and how much money they have made, they remain oblivious to the underlying cost of the charade. Market investors have been enriched, yes, but little do they know that stock legitimacy is about to be sacrificed.
The price to earnings ratio of stocks (the market value of stocks versus what they SHOULD be valued according to the actual earnings of the companies listed) in the S&P 500 today stands at around 15, which is the highest it has been since before the 2008 market crash. Mainstream economists attempt to dismiss the issue by using a 15 year average while claiming that the P/E ratio in 2013 is mild compared to the tech bubble of the late 90’s. What they don’t seem to grasp is that the market of the past four to five years is an entirely different animal compared to 15 years ago.
Stocks in general have received considerable support through purchases by Fed bolstered banks and the Fed itself, creating an atmosphere of artificial demand for equities using QE fiat injections. Though no full audit of the bailouts exists (TARP is the only measure audited so far), it is projected that the banking sector alone has garnered tens of trillions in Fed fiat, which they have used to bolster their otherwise debt ridden holdings. It is only logical to expect that this capital tsunami has been used by numerous companies as a way to present false earnings.Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley all reported substantial profits for 2009 while at the same time reporting massive liabilities caused by the derivatives crash so that they could collect on the bailout bonanza.
So which one is it? Are companies making profits, or are they wallowing in insurmountable debt while presenting government stimulus as a form of profit?
What the Fed and corporate banks have done is create a market in which neither earnings, nor stock values can be trusted. The fact that the P/E ratio is higher than it has been since 2008 despite this manipulation should concern anyone with any sense.
Worst of all, the Fed’s monetization of U.S. Treasury debt has only expanded while foreign investment in long term debt has contracted. With our official national debt growing by at least $1 trillion per year, our country cannot continue to function without an ever increasing amount of foreign investment, or, Federal Reserve printing. The Fed cannot make cuts to QE if our system is to survive (if you want to call it survival), the Fed must expand QE forever, or at least until the dollar implodes due to hyperinflation.
So then, why has the taper been introduced at all? No one wants it. The government shouldn’t want it. Investors certainly don’t want it. Our economy is utterly dependent on the opposite. What purpose does it serve?
The assumption has always been that the Fed wants to keep the system afloat. I submit that things have changed. I submit that the Fed no longer wishes to prop up our fiscal structure, or at least, no longer wishes to be seen as propping it up. I submit that the Fed is not pursuing dollar destruction through standard hyperinflation, but rather, they are preparing the U.S. for default, which also will result in currency implosion.
The Taper Parallels
“It must not be felt that the heads of the world’s chief central banks were themselves substantive powers in world finance. They were not. Rather they were the technicians and agents of the dominant investment bankers of their own countries, who had raised them up, and who were perfectly capable of throwing them down. The substantive financial powers of the world were in the hands of these investment bankers who remained largely behind the scenes in their own unincorporated private banks. These formed a system of international cooperation and national dominance which was more private, more powerful, and more secret than that of their agents in the central banks. “ – Carroll Quigley, Tragedy And Hope
Initial shock over the taper scenario has not sunk into the markets yet (as Zero Hedge points out, the last time a major central bank cut stimulus measures to a dependent country, stocks rallied, then crashed within months). Few people see much difference between $75 billion per month and $85 billion per month, but the size of the cuts is not really the issue. Rather, it is the Fed’s act of fading into the background that should concern us.
The taper announcement parallels perfectly with the accelerating debate over the U.S. debt ceiling, and I do not think this is at all a coincidence. Tapering seems inconceivable to many, but for the Fed it makes perfect sense if the goal of the globalists is to generate a default scenario while diverting blame. I believe that Americans are being prepared psychologically for just such an event. Already, the White House is warning that government funding will essentially disappear by the end of February:
The expectation fostered by the mainstream media is that a debt fight similar to the October theater will not happen again. I agree. I believe the next debate will be much worse. The vast majority will assume that the “can” will be kicked down the road again, and they may be right, but given the Fed’s behavior, and given that they have begun to taper despite what appears logical, many people may be in for a shock when our government also suddenly decides one day soon to buck assumptions and default rather than prolong the pain.
The full spectrum failure of Obamacare only adds excuse and incentive. There is no longer a legislative centerpiece rationale for further spending. Obama’s approval rating is at historic lows for any president. The stage has been set for the most epic of fake political battles.
The Left and Right leadership, at the top of the pyramid, are nothing more than flunkies for the global elite. If globalists have decided that it is time to apply the final death blows to the dollar, default would be the quickest and most efficient way, and political puppetry can easily make it happen. The calamity would be blamed on “partisan bickering” and “government gridlock”, or even the inefficiency of “democracy”. The Fed, with its taper in place and its fake recovery established, would be presented as the only “sane” institution at America’s disposal.
Perhaps at this point even more pervasive QE programs would recommence, perhaps not. At bottom, though, the taper is not a peripheral issue. It is an action at the center of a much more elaborate process, an action that seems to have been undertaken in preparation for a larger event. The next year is shaping up to be the most chaotic since the debt crisis began in 2008, and as the situation progresses, the subtleties of the Federal Reserve and the international banks that back it must not go unnoticed, or in the end, unpunished.
Source: Brandon Smith | Alt-Market
According to a new Washington Post-ABC poll, Barack Obama now ranks among the least popular presidents in the last century. In fact, his approval rating is lower than Bush’s was in his fifth year in office. Obama’s overall approval rating stands at a dismal 43 percent, with a full 55 percent of the public “disapproving of the way he is handling the economy”. The same percentage of people “disapprove of the way he is handling his job as president”. Thus, on the two main issues, leadership and the economy, Obama gets failing grades.
An even higher percentage of people are upset at the way the president is implementing his signature health care system dubbed “Obamacare”. When asked “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Obama is handling “implementation of the new health care law?” A full 62% said they disapprove, although I suspect that the anger has less to do with the plan’s “implementation” than it does with the fact that Obamacare is widely seen as a profit-delivery system for the voracious insurance industry. Notwithstanding the administration’s impressive public relations campaign, a clear majority of people have seen through Obama’s health care ruse and given the program a big thumb’s down.
Of course, Obamacare is just the straw that broke the camel’s back. The list of policy disasters that preceded this latest fiasco is nearly endless, including everything from blanket pardons for the Wall Street big-wigs who took down the global financial system, to re-upping the Bush tax cuts, to appointing a commission of deficit hawks to slash Social Security and Medicare (Bowles-Simpson), to breaking his word on Gitmo, to reneging on his promise to pass Card Check, to expanding to wars in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, to droning 4-times as many civilians as the homicidal maniac he replaced as president in 2008.
Obama’s treatment of undocumented immigrants has been particularly shocking although the details have been kept out of the media, presumably because the news giants don’t want to expose the Dear Leader as a heartless scoundrel who has no problem separating mothers from their children, locking them up in privately-owned concentration camps and booting them out of the country with nothing more than the shirt on their back. Check out this blurb which sums up Obama’s “progressive” immigration policy in one paragraph:
“Obama is on track to deport 3 million immigrants without papers by the end of his second term, more than any other president. George W. Bush deported about 2 million over two terms. Obama will likely hit that mark this month….. The average daily count of immigrants in detention now is about 33,000. In 2001, it was 19,000. In 1994, it was 5,000, according to the Detention Watch Network. Almost all of the detainees and deportees are Latino. True, the population of illegal immigrants has also doubled in that time to more than 11 million. But the detainee and deportee counts have escalated more than twice as fast.
“He could go down as the worst president in history toward immigrants,” said Arturo Carmona, executive director of the liberal activist group Presente.org.
Hooray for the Deporter in Chief! You’re Numero Uno, buddy. You even beat Bush! Is it any wonder why the man’s ratings are in freefall?
All told, Obama has been bad for the economy, bad for civil liberties, bad for minorities, bad for foreign wars, and bad for health care. He has, however, been a very effective lackey-sock puppet for Wall Street, Big Pharma, the oil magnates, and the other 1% -vermin Kleptocrats who run the country and who will undoubtedly attend his $100,000-per-plate speaking engagements when he finally retires in comfort to some gated community where he’ll work on his memoirs and cash in on his 8 years of faithful service to the racketeer class.
But, let’s face it; no one really gives a rip about “drone attacks in Waziristan” or “hunger strikes in Gitmo”. What they care about is keeping their jobs, paying off their student loans, putting the food on the table or avoiding the fate of next-door-neighbor, Andy, who got his pink slip two months ago and now finds himself living in a cardboard box by the river. That’s what the average working stiff worries about; just scraping by enough to stay out of the homeless shelter. But it’s getting harder all the time, mainly because everything’s gotten worse under Obama. It’s crazy. It’s like the whole middle class is being dismantled in a 10-year period. Wages are flat, jobs are scarce, incomes are dropping like a stone, and everyone’s broke. (Everyone I know, at least.) Did you know that 76% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck. Check it out:
“Roughly three-quarters of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, with little to no emergency savings, according to a survey released by Bankrate.com Monday.
Fewer than one in four Americans have enough money in their savings account to cover at least six months of expenses, enough to help cushion the blow of a job loss, medical emergency or some other unexpected event, according to the survey of 1,000 adults.
Meanwhile, 50% of those surveyed have less than a three-month cushion and 27% had no savings at all….
Last week, online lender CashNetUSA said 22% of the 1,000 people it recently surveyed had less than $100 in savings to cover an emergency, while 46% had less than $800. After paying debts and taking care of housing, car and child care-related expenses, the respondents said there just isn’t enough money left over for saving more.”
Are you kidding me? What’s that? Who do you know that’s able to save money in this economy? Maybe rich uncle Johnny whose lived on canned sardines and Akmak for the last 50 years, but nobody else can live like that. Subtract the rent, the groceries, the doctor bills etc, and there’s barely enough leftover to fill the tank to get to work on Monday. Saving just isn’t an option, not in the Obamaworld, that is.
Now check this out from Business Insider:
“Thousands of Americans aged 55 and older are going back to school and reinventing themselves to get an edge in a difficult labor market, hoping to rebuild retirement nest eggs that were almost destroyed by the recession….
According to the Federal Reserve, household financial assets, which exclude homes, dropped from a peak of $57 trillion in the third quarter of 2007 to just over $49 trillion in the fourth quarter of last year, the latest period for which data is available.
A survey to be released this summer by the Public Policy Institute of AARP, an advocacy group for older Americans, found a quarter of Americans 50 years and older used up all their savings during the 2007-09 recession. About 43 percent of the 5,000 respondents who took part in the survey said their savings had not recovered.” (“Unemployed Baby Boomers Are Getting Hired By Going Back To School”, Business Insider)
Sure they’re going back to work. What do you expect them to do? They’re broke! They got wiped out in Wall Street’s mortgage laundering scam and they’re still behind the eightball five years later. And what’s left of the money they set aside for retirement is yielding a big zilch thanks to the Fed’s zero rate policy which is forcing people back into another decade of penal servitude at minimum wage. That’s why you see so many hunched over graybeards in red vests with “Happy to Serve You” splattered on their chests lugging shopping bags out to the cars for old ladies. Because they’re broke and out of options. Everyone knows someone like this unless, of course, they’re one of the fortunate few who make up the Nobel 1%; aka–The Job Cremators. Then they don’t have to fret about that sort of thing.
Here’s another gem you might not have seen in USA Today a few months back:
“Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.
Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend….
Hardship is particularly growing among whites, based on several measures. Pessimism among that racial group about their families’ economic futures has climbed to the highest point since at least 1987. In the most recent AP-GfK poll, 63% of whites called the economy “poor.”
“I think it’s going to get worse,” said Irene Salyers, 52, of Buchanan County, Va., a declining coal region in Appalachia. Married and divorced three times, Salyers now helps run a fruit and vegetable stand with her boyfriend, but it doesn’t generate much income….
Nationwide, the count of America’s poor remains stuck at a record number: 46.2 million, or 15% of the population, due in part to lingering high unemployment following the recession. While poverty rates for blacks and Hispanics are nearly three times higher, by absolute numbers the predominant face of the poor is white…
“Poverty is no longer an issue of ‘them’, it’s an issue of ‘us’,” says Mark Rank, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis who calculated the numbers. “Only when poverty is thought of as a mainstream event, rather than a fringe experience that just affects blacks and Hispanics, can we really begin to build broader support for programs that lift people in need.” (“4 in 5 in USA face near-poverty, no work”, USA Today)
Does Obama have any idea of the damage he’s doing with his Rich-First policies? The country is in a terrible state and yet Obama continues to approve bills that throw millions of people off unemployment benefits, sharply cut government spending, or undermine vital safetynet programs that keep the sick and the elderly from dying on the streets. It’s like he’s trying to reduce 300 million Americans to grinding third world poverty in his short eight-year term. Is that the goal?
Did you know that–according to Gallup–20.0% of all Americans did not have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed at some point over the past year? Or that –according to a Feeding America hunger study–more than 37 million people are now using food pantries and soup kitchens? Or that one out of six Americans is now living in poverty which is the highest level since the 1960s? Or that the gap between the rich and poor is greater than any in history?
Everything has gotten worse under Obama. Everything. And, not once, in his five years as president, has this gifted and charismatic leader ever lifted a finger to help the millions of people who supported him, who believed in him, and who voted him into office.
These latest poll results indicate that many of those same people are beginning to wake up and see what Obama is really all about.
Guess who’s investing in America’s future?
Nobody, that’s who.
Just check out this excerpt from an article by Rex Nutting at Marketwatch and you’ll see what I mean. The article is titled “No one is investing in tomorrow’s economy”:
“The U.S. economy simply isn’t investing enough to ensure that there will be enough good paying jobs for our children and our children’s children. Net investment — the amount of capital added to our stock — remains at the lowest levels since the Great Depression. …
Net investment…measures the additional stock of buildings, factories, houses, equipment, software, and research and development — above and beyond the replacement of worn-out capital. In 2012, net fixed investment totaled $485 billion, only about half of the $1.1 trillion invested in 2006…
If businesses, consumers and governments were investing for the future at usual rate, the economy would be at least 3% larger, employing millions more people. That’s a huge hole in the economy that can’t be filled by heavily indebted consumers, especially at a time when government is handcuffed by forces of austerity.” (“No one is investing in tomorrow’s economy”, Rex Nutting, Marketwatch)
Now the author seems to believe that the lack of net investment is just a temporary phenom that will work itself out in the years ahead. But he could be wrong about that. After all, why would a company build up its capital stock for the future when the future is so uncertain? Certainly, there’s nothing in the data that would suggest that the US economy is about to shake off its five year post-recession funk and shift into high-gear again, is there? No, of course not. In fact, it looks like the economy has reset at a lower level of activity that will only get worse as the impact of budget cuts and stagnation are felt. That will further curtail consumer spending which, to this point, had been the primary driver of growth.
Bottom line: Net investment is down because there’s no demand. And there’s no demand because unemployment is high, wages are flat, incomes are falling, and households are still digging out from the Crash of ’08. At the same time, the US Congress and Team Obama continue to slash public spending wherever possible which is further dampening activity and perpetuating the low-growth, weak demand, perma-slump.
So, tell me: Why would a businessman invest in an economy where people are too broke to buy his products? He’d be better off issuing dividends to his shareholders or buying back shares in his own company to push stock prices higher.
And, guess what? That’s exactly what CEOs are doing. Check this out in the Washington Post:
“Battered by months of disappointing sales, networking giant Cisco needed a way to give its shareholders a pick-me-up. So the San Jose-based firm did what has become routine for many big U.S. companies in a slow-growing economy: It announced last month that it was buying back shares of its stock…..
This is what U.S. multinationals do now with their cash. Rather than tout big new investments, raise worker wages or hire more employees, companies are more likely to set aside funds to reward shareholders — a trend that took a dip during the recession but has roared back during the recovery.
The 30 companies listed on the Dow Jones industrial average have authorized $211 billion in buybacks in 2013, according to data from Birinyi Associates, helping to lift the benchmark stock index to heights not seen since the tech boom of the late 1990s. By comparison, the amount is nearly three times what the group spent on research and development last year, according to data from S&P Capital IQ.
Why spend so much on stock repurchasing?
When the number of shares outstanding falls, the value of each one goes up, instantly rewarding shareholders.” (“Companies turning again to stock buybacks to reward shareholders”, Washington Post)
Corporations don’t care about the future. What they care about is maximizing shareholder value, that’s the name of the game; profits. If that means boosting net fixed investment then, okay, that’s what they’ll do. But if the Fed creates incentives to do something else, like gaming the system with stock buybacks, then they can make the adjustment. And that’s what the Fed’s zero rate policy does. It’s incentivizes businesses to use their capital in a way that’s damaging to the real economy. Here’s more from the same article:
“Helping to fuel the stock market’s meteoric rise is the Federal Reserve’s stimulus program designed to lower borrowing costs. Companies are taking advantage, often by borrowing money at low rates to repurchase shares, although it’s unclear how much of the debt is being used to pay for buybacks.
“It somehow feels scarier if they borrowed the money to buy back stock than if they had some investment opportunities,” Inker said. “That somehow seems more sustainable than just levering up to reduce the share count.”
Some analysts say companies are better off repurchasing shares than pouring money into investments promising dubious payoffs, especially in a slow-growing economy.” (“Companies turning again to stock buybacks to reward shareholders”, Washington Post)
There you have it; instead of investing in R&D, factories or new technologies, (all of which produce more high-paying jobs) companies are taking advantage of the Fed’s cheap money, goosing stock prices and raking in hefty profits. That’s just the way the policy works. The only way change the outcome, is to change the incentives. But the Fed doesn’t want to do that, and neither does the Congress because, at present, they have working people right where they want them, under their bootheel.
If you are looking for proof that workers are getting shafted, just look at the condition of the US consumer who is still on the ropes 5 years after the recession ended. Now, according to the latest Fed’s Flow of Funds report, “Household net worth rose by $1.9 trillion in the last quarter” which means that everything should be hunky dory, right? It means the long period of deleveraging should be over and consumers should be ready to go on another madcap spending spree like they did up-until 2007. Unfortunately, the Fed’s report is a bunch of baloney. The $1.9 trillion merely accounts for rising asset prices that have been reflated by Bernanke’s quantitative easing boondoggle. While working people have seen some uptick in housing prices, the bulk of the gains have gone to stock and bond speculators who’ve made out like bandits. As for consumers, well, they’re still stuck in the doldrums as economist Stephen S. Roach points out in this article at Project Syndicate. Here’s a clip:
“In the 22 quarters since early 2008, real personal-consumption expenditure… has grown at an average annual rate of just 1.1%, easily the weakest period of consumer demand in the post-World War II era.” (It’s also a) “massive slowdown from the pre-crisis pace of 3.6% annual real consumption growth from 1996 to 2007.” (“Occupy QE“, Stephen S. Roach, Project Syndicate)
So, personal consumption has dropped from 3.6% to 1.1%?!?
Yep. No wonder there’s no recovery. And, keep in mind, this is no short-term deal either, mainly because Democrats and Republicans are equally committed to future budget cuts which means it will be more difficult for households to get out of the red and resume spending. More austerity means more retrenchment and hard times for consumers, households and workers. Economist William R. Emmons provides a good summary of what’s-in-store for consumers in a recent post titled “Don’t Expect Consumer Spending To Be the Engine of Economic Growth It Once Was”. Here’s a clip from the article:
“Lower wealth: First and foremost, U.S. household wealth took a beating during the Great Recession. …., the loss of significant amounts of wealth and the severe pressure in some households to deleverage their balance sheets (reduce debt) are likely to contribute to restrained consumer spending for some time.
Stagnant incomes: The economic recovery under way since mid-2009 has been mediocre, at best. Job growth barely matches population growth, while incomes of the typical worker are barely keeping up with inflation. …, most of the overall gains in income appear to be flowing to high-income workers.
Tight credit: Consumer lenders either have disappeared altogether or are offering credit on a much more restricted basis than before the downturn.. …
Fragile confidence: Major consumer-confidence indexes have rebounded from their lowest levels during 2009 in the immediate aftermath of the recession, but they remain below the levels that prevailed just as the recession began in late 2008 …
Looming reversal of stimulus: The Federal Reserve has explored options to “exit” its extraordinarily accommodative monetary policy, while Congress and the president agree that budget consolidation is necessary in the not-too-distant future. In both cases, a tightening of policy measures represents a withdrawal of support for household incomes and wealth and, therefore, consumer spending.”
Individually, any of the five obstacles noted above might be surmountable. But combined, these contractionary forces make the outlook for broad-based consumer spending growth challenging. To be sure, some households weathered the economic and financial storms well, but we can’t count on these fortunate few to step up their spending sufficiently to offset the lost spending caused by declines in wealth, income, access to credit, confidence and government support.” (“Don’t Expect Consumer Spending To Be the Engine of Economic Growth It Once Was”, William R. Emmons, The Regional Economist |via The Big Picture
Emmons offers a bleak, but realistic assessment of our present predicament. There’s really no way the US economy can rebound without a dramatic reversal in the current fiscal policy. Most Americans appear to grasp this point which is why survey after survey show that the majority think the country is “on the wrong track”. The public’s frustration with Congress -(whose public approval rating is at all-time lows) is reflected in growing pessimism which is affecting their spending habits. This is completely normal, given that most middle income working people do not expect their financial situation to improve in the next year. Lower expectations mean more penny pinching, fewer job openings, skimpy net investment, and sluggish growth. That’s the future in a nutshell.
It’s worth noting that the investor class will also pay a heavy price for the current misguided policy. Stocks have had an impressive 4-year run, but there are signs that the day of reckoning is fast approaching. Get a load of this from USA Today:
“A potential warning to stock investors: the fourth-quarter earnings pre-announcement season is shaping up to be the most negative on record. In what seems like a major disconnect, the number of profit warnings relative to upbeat guidance is the widest it has ever been — at a time when the U.S. stock market is trading near record territory. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index notched a new closing high of 1809 Monday.
For every 10 companies warning of weaker-than-expected earnings for the October-through-December period, only one has said it will top forecasts, says earnings-tracker Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The actual 10.4-to-1 negative-to-positive pre-announcement ratio is on track to eclipse the prior record of 6.8 warnings for every positive one back in the first quarter of 2001. The long-term ratio is 2.3 warnings for each positive one.
“This is off the charts, I’ve never seen it this high,” says Gregory Harrison, analyst at Thomson Reuters.” (“As stocks hit record highs, so do profit warnings”, USA Today)
So why is Wall Street taking such dire warnings in their stride, you ask?
It’s because investors no longer pay attention to the fundamentals. Demand doesn’t matter. Earnings don’t matter. What matters is the Fed and the Fed alone. “Is Bernanke going to keep pumping trillions in liquidity into the financial markets or not?” That’s the policy upon which all investment decisions are made.
So when Bernanke announces his plan to “taper” his asset purchases (scale-back QE), equities will adjust accordingly.
Did somebody say “crash”?