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Monday, January 31, 2011

Federal Reserve Slashing and Burning the Middle Class

Warning signals are going off over the Fed's destruction of dollar and of the middle class, but very few are listening.

Mike Whitney / Counterpunch.com:
Treasury Yields are Blinking Red
--

Treasury yields are "blinking red", but the Fed keeps acting like nothing's wrong. What's the deal?

Let's explain: Fed chairman Ben Bernanke's bond purchasing program (QE2) has sent the yield on the 30-year Treasury skyrocketing. At the same time, the the 2-year Treasury is stuck at a lowly 0.61. That means, the "yield curve" between the two bonds has grown steeper, which normally happens at the beginning of a recovery because investors are moving out of "risk free" bonds to riskier assets like stocks. Typically, the yield on the long-term bond will start to go down on its own because investors expect the Fed to raise short-term rates to curb potential inflation. But that's not happening this time. Why? ...

the Fed is planning to give every working man and woman in the US a big pay-cut so they can go nose-to-nose with foreign labor. You can see how this blends seamlessly with Obama's State of the Union Speech where he focused on "competition" as his central theme...
Kelly Evans / Wall Street Journal:
The Fed's Magic Show Appears to Be Over --
the Fed's failure reflects a longstanding flaw in its approach. For years, it has been pushing interest rates lower, doing so after each successive downturn as inflation became less and less of a concern. But that wasn't simply due to successful monetary policy. Technological innovation, the globalization of the work force and demographic change had plenty to do with it, too.

Instead of being a cure-all, the Fed's policies spawned two great asset bubbles...

The only real fix is to lower the cost of U.S. workers relative to foreign rivals and machines, or else raise their bang for the buck. The latter, while clearly preferable, requires education and training that won't turn things around overnight. The Fed, meanwhile, has tried its hardest to generate separate, asset-based sources of income and spending. But that has bred backlash and complacency. The Fed, in other words, is out of silver bullets.
Kelly Evans / Wall Street Journal:
Cost Inflation Puts a Wrench Into the Works --
The "prices-paid" component of the ISM [Institute for Supply Management] survey, or what manufacturers pay for materials, has rebounded to 72.5 in December from a low of 18 in December 2008. While still below its 2008 high of 91.5, that suggests broad-based cost pressure on manufacturers...
Reuven Brenner / Forbes:
The Federal Reserve: Fool Me Once, Shame On You … --
If and when the Federal Reserve should lose money on the $2 trillion plus of securities on its balance sheets so as to erase its capital, the central bank does not have to record the loss...

If interest rates rise, the Fed could get even deeper in the hole and pay back Treasury with freshly minted money, effectively monetizing the losses. That means inflation and even more dollar devaluation...
 Kelly Evans / Wall Street Journal:
The Great Stagnation, Low-Hanging Fruit and America’s ‘Sputnik Moment’ --
... economic development and technological innovation have reached a plateau, and unfortunately we in America are only now just realizing it...

three major forms [of low hanging fruit] — free land, technological breakthroughs (specifically during the 1880-1940 period), and smart, uneducated kids — and two minor ones, cheap fossil fuels and the U.S. Constitution. In other words, these preconditions gave rise to rapid growth and incredible prosperity over the last couple of centuries, but we have now exhausted their dividends...
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MyBudget360.com:
Federal Reserve openly aiming for inflation – The Fed looks for a sequel in punishing the U.S. dollar and hopes to inflate debt and the middle class away...
The Federal Reserve is concerned about the banks. That is the bottom line. They do not care about a stable currency and the proof is in the pudding as they say. The US dollar has taken a beating over the last few decades. The Fed is not a government agency yet has the power without Congressional oversight to basically destroy the purchasing power of millions of Americans. How is that even possible? Keep in mind that the Fed during this economic downturn has taken on much more than their original charter had mandated. Is this the kind of world we want where the banks can use the taxpayer as a piggybank with no accountability?...
Uwire.com:
Author speaks of world with limited Federal Reserve --
In an era of economic unrest and financial instability on the federal level, New York Times best selling author Dr. Thomas Woods offered his perspective on the failure of the Federal Reserve and its responsibility for recent financial calamities...
Intermex Financial: 
Shut Down The Federal Reserve --
#1 We Must Shut Down The Federal Reserve...
----
 Andrew Jackson: Slayer of the 2nd Central Bank

Andrew Jackson, seventh President of the United States, had it right.

C.J. Maloney / Real Clear Markets:
1836: The Death Of Our 2nd Central Bank --
"In half an hour, I can remove all the constitutional scruples in the District of Columbia." - Nicholas Biddle, President, Second Bank of the United States (1822-1836)

The Second Bank of the United States (one of America's earlier experiences with central banking) was created in 1816, just in time to exacerbate the Panic of 1819, before succumbing to an untimely death in 1836 at the hands of President Andrew Jackson (1829-1837), who doubtless has Ron Paul's admiration for the deed. "The Bank is trying to kill me", Jackson declared, "but I shall kill it!" Rare for his species, the words were not mere campaign rhetoric; he meant what he said.

On September 22, 1832, Jackson ordered the public deposits at the Bank to be removed and dispersed amongst a group of 91 different state banks. When the bill re-chartering the Bank was passed by Congress in 1832, Jackson vetoed the measure, making it known that he intended to terminate the entire institution. The presidential election of 1832 (which pitted Jackson against the arch-mercantilist and Bank supporter Henry Clay) was heavily influenced by the question of the Bank's re-chartering. Jackson crushed Clay, winning 288 of 337 electoral votes...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Federal Reserve Dollar Debasement Scheme is on Track

More evidence that the Federal Reserve banksters live in an alternate reality. Plumping up the bonuses of Wall Street bankers and screwing the middle class with inflation is all that they are about with their massive money printing (quantitative easing) campaign.

Jeff Matthews Is Not Making This Up:
The Fed in La-La Land, Again
--

The Federal Open Market Committee’s latest word on the economy was released this week, and to read it you would have no idea we are in the middle of the strongest earnings season since the pre-crisis 2006-2007 boom.

Indeed, the FOMC text is so full of last-year’s-news and rear-view-mirror incantations it would appear that the Fed members who voted to approve it were too busy reading Paul Krugman/Nuriel Roubini end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it wailings to go out and visit some companies and hear what is, in reality, very good news on the hiring front, and some very worrisome news on the inflation front...
Federal Open Market Committe (FOMC):
Press Release - January 26, 2011 --
FOMC: Although commodity prices have risen, longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable, and measures of underlying inflation have been trending downward.
Jeff Matthews: append [here] to the Fed’s painfully misguided missive some actual comments from actual real companies...
Columbia Sportswear: "From petroleum affecting a lot of our yarns, our nylon, et cetera, and then of course, cotton…"
Energen: "Yeah cost has certainly gone up in the Permian Basin as demand for services on all levels has gone up."
Caterpillar: "So, yeah, commodity prices there are driving upward pressure…"
Newell Rubbermaid: "While we will look first to productivity to offset inflation, we plan to take targeted pricings as necessary to protect our margins, and, in fact, we have announced selective cost-driven pricing actions in all three operating segments…"
Danaher: "Just in the last 90 days, steel and related products up double-digit, some copper related products are up 20%."
Starbucks: "Increased coffee costs and transition costs…are pressuring margins in this segment."
Cooper: "Price/material inflation and several one-time unusual items impacted our fourth quarter gross margins, obviously."
Albermarle: "Full-year 2010 saw $78 million in raw material cost inflation. Roughly half of that was in metals and rare earths…"
Ethan Allen: "Raw material cost inflation is likely to remain a challenge…"
3M: "Raw material inflation was approximately 3% year-on-year…and we fully expect to offset raw material costs in 2011 with selling prices of our own."
P&G: "Higher year-on-year commodity costs reduced gross margin by 160 basis points. For perspective, on a weighted average basis, spot prices for our key materials and energy inputs are up more than 20% versus last year’s levels."

The Fed in La-La Land? It wouldn’t be the first time.

And, apparently, it won’t be the last.
----
ZeroHedge.com:
QE2 A Success: 56% Of Wall Street Gets Bigger Bonus Than Last Year

Friday, January 28, 2011

Organizing the Egyptian Revolution

A concrete plan of action for Egyptian protesters.

Alexis Madrigal / The Atlantic:
Egyptian Activists' Action Plan: Translated --

Egyptian activists have been circulating a kind of primer to Friday's planned protest. We were sent the plan by two separate sources and have decided to publish excerpts here, with translations into English. Over Twitter, we connected with a translator, who translated the document with exceptional speed.

What follows are side-by-side translations of nine pages from the 26-page pamphlet. They were translated over the last hour and pasted up in Photoshop to give you an idea of what's in the protest plan...
----
How to Overthrow the Egyptian National Democratic Party
Wikipedia: The National Democratic Party (Arabic: الحزب الوطني الديمقراطى, often simply الحزب الوطني – the "National Party" or "Nationalist Party" – in conversation) is the current ruling party of Egypt. The party was established by President Anwar El Sadat in 1978; it was first announced on July 9, 1978 and formally approved on October 2, 1978. Since Sadat's assassination on October 6, 1981, the party has been chaired by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The NDP has enjoyed uncontested power in state politics since its creation...
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Egyptian protester handbook page 1
page 1
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Egyptian protester handbook page 2
page 2
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Egyptian protester handbook page 3
page 3
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Egyptian protester handbook page 4
page 4
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Egyptian protester handbook page 10
page 10
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Egyptian protester handbook page 12
page 12
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Egyptian protester handbook page 13
page 13
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Egyptian protester handbook page 14
page 14
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Egyptian protester handbook page 26
page 26
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related:

Huffington Post:
Egypt's Internet Shut Down, According To Reports --
Reports are emerging that Internet has gone down in Cairo and throughout Egypt, only hours before the largest planned protests yet.

According to a report from The Arabist, "Egypt has shut off the internet." ...

UPDATE: (2:10 a.m. ET) HuffPost reader Thomas Jaworowski, a tech enthusiast, emails in that he "decided to try a few tricks" to see if Egypt's Internet really was down or it was just server overload causing the problems. He traced IP addresses, particularly for the U.S. Embassy in Cairo which is hosted in Egypt, and found that the Web traffic is indeed being blocked at the country level, not just a simple censoring.
----
James Cowie / Renesys Blog: 
Egypt Leaves the Internet  —  Confirming what a few have reported this evening: in an action unprecedented in Internet history, the Egyptian government appears to have ordered service providers to shut down all international connections to the Internet.  Critical European-Asian fiber-optic …
discussion:
Curt Hopkins / ReadWriteWeb:   Complete Internet Blackout in Egypt
Declan McCullagh / CNET News:   Egypt's Internet goes dark during political unrest
Michael Shedlock / Mish's Global Economic …:   Egypt Shuts Down Internet, Blackberry, Text Messages; Mubarak …
Jillian C. York / Global Voices in English:   Egypt: An Internet Black Hole
Charles Arthur / Guardian:   Egypt cuts off internet access
Jay Currie:   Egypt goes dark
Mohamed ElBaradei / The Daily Beast:   A Manifesto for Change in Egypt
-----
Ben Parr / Mashable!:
Internet Access & SMS Blocked in Egypt as Protests Escalate
Elinor Mills / CNET News:
Internet disruptions hit Egypt
discussion:
Issandr El Amrani / Arabist.net:   URGENT: Egypt has shut off the internet
Andree Toonk / BGPmon.net Blog:   Internet in Egypt offline
Caroline McCarthy / The Social:   Facebook: Egypt hasn't blocked us yet
Michael Froomkin / Discourse.net:   Egypt Cuts Internet Access & SMS
-----
"Open Source" Revolt

John Robb / Global Guerrillas:
CAN AN OPEN SOURCE REVOLT TOPPLE EGYPT? --
Is is possible to replicate what happened in Tunisia in other countries, like Egypt?

Global guerrillas in Egypt are working on it...
----
Advice from a Tunisian protestor to Egypt via Twitter:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Federal Reserve's Dollar Debasement/Inflation Scheme Hits Emerging Markets

Marc Faber, founder of the Gloom, Boom and Doom Report says Fed generated inflation, especially in food and energy prices, will hit the low income populations of emerging markets much harder than the consumers of the developed markets in the US and Europe. This is an unintended consequence of the Fed's money printing campaign. However, you can bet there will be some blow back on the US consumers. Printing money is not a free lunch.

CNBC.com:
US, Europe Better Bets as Inflation Hits: Marc Faber --

Escalating food and energy prices will take a greater toll in poorer countries such as China and India, the author of the "Gloom, Boom and Doom" report said in a CNBC interview.

"We have money printing around the world and particularly in the US and that has led to very high food inflation and inflation in energy prices," Faber said. "In low-income countries like China, India, Vietnam and so forth, energy and food account for a much larger portion of personal disposable income than in the United States."

"So these countries are suffering from basic high inflation, and that reduces the purchasing power of people. So I think the monetary authorities in emerging countries are going to have to tighten or let inflation accelerate, both of which are not particularly good for equities," he said...

related:
Jim Rogers says "go long cotton" because paper money is made of cotton...

Bloomberg:
Gold ‘Overdue’ for Drop, Rice Will Gain, Rogers Says -- Agricultural commodities are “going to boom” as demand increases in developing markets, primarily in Asia, he said. All commodities will be supported by the weakening dollar, which is losing value because Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is “printing money” by buying Treasuries in an effort to shore up the U.S. economy, Rogers said.
“Paper money is made of cotton, and I’m long cotton, by the way,” Rogers said. “One reason I’m long cotton is because Dr. Bernanke is out there running the printing presses as fast as he can.”...
Bloomberg:
Record Food Prices Causing Africa Riots Stoke U.S. Farm Economy

Seeking Alpha:
Why Are Commodity Prices Rising? Let Me Count the Ways -- prices took off again after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's August of 2010 announcement that QE2 was on the way. Prices have continued higher since then, with the Fed officially announcing QE2 in November of 2010...

NPR:
The Effect Of Rising Food Prices On Political Stability

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ill in Illinois

The State of Illinois is a financial basket case. But they want to turn their basket into a coffin by raising their personal income taxes 75%.

Frederick Sheehan / Aucontrarian:
Illinois is No Peter Pan --

"Top Illinois Democrats have agreed to push a plan that would temporarily boost income taxes by 75 percent and double cigarette taxes," harked CBS Chicago on January 6, 2011. The proposed plan would increase Illinois' personal income tax rate from 3 percent to 5.75 percent for the next three years. After that, it would drop back to 3.25%. So they say.

Illinois is a state in which the legislators have so betrayed the taxpayers that a lifetime on Devil's Island would be too good for them. For instance, the liability of the four state pension plans is calculated at $151 billion or $280 billion, depending on the assumptions used. The $280 billion figure is analytically controversial but deductively compelling given the efforts to deny and confuse bondholders and the public alike respecting the coming collapse of the municipal bond market...

... a Sword of Damocles hovers over all transactions and contracts in the United States today: who still trusts the "full faith" of any government body? And, this is the worst situation of all: politicians who think they can fly.

[Frederick J. Sheehan is the author of Panderer to Power: The Untold Story of How Alan Greenspan Enriched Wall Street and Left a Legacy of Recession (McGraw-Hill, 2009) and The Coming Collapse of the Municipal Bond Market. He is the co-author of Greenspan's Bubbles: The Age of Ignorance at the Federal Reserve.]

via CreditWriteDowns
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The next stop on the road to...


The Economist:
The battle ahead -- The struggle with public-sector unions should be about productivity and parity, not just spending cuts

LOOK around the world and the forces are massing. On one side are Californian prison guards, British policemen, French railworkers, Greek civil servants, and teachers just about everywhere. On the other stand the cash-strapped governments of the rich world. Even the mere mention of cuts has brought public-sector workers onto the streets across Europe. When those plans are put into action, expect much worse.

“Industrial relations” are back at the heart of politics—not as an old-fashioned clash between capital and labour, fought out so brutally in the Thatcherite 1980s, but as one between taxpayers and what William Cobbett, one of the great British liberals, used to refer to as “tax eaters”. People in the private sector are only just beginning to understand how much of a banquet public-sector unions have been having at everybody else’s expense (see article). In many rich countries wages are on average higher in the state sector, pensions hugely better and jobs far more secure. Even if many individual state workers do magnificent jobs, their unions have blocked reform at every turn. In both America and Europe it is almost as hard to reward an outstanding teacher as it is to sack a useless one...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Euroland Boils and Bubbles with Trouble

CanadaFreePress.com:
Nigel Farage To European Parliament: “The Euro Game Is Up… Just Who The Hell Do You Think You Are? -- Famous euroskeptic Nigel Farage (as seen previously here), in just under 4 brief minutes tells more truth about the entire European experiment than all European bankers, commissioners, and politicians have done in the past decade.



related:
Twitter.com / Nigel Farage --
And I told Mr Van Rompuy, it's no more Mr Nice Guy from me!

YouTube:
Nigel Farage: Euro Empire Collapsing, Bailout River Dry

KingWorldNews:
Nigel Farage interview

YouTube.com:
Nigel Farage reprimanded for criticising new EU president & foreign minister


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Spiegel.de:
Opposition to the Euro Grows in Germany -- Surveys show that many Germans are worried about the future of the euro, but the country's political parties are not taking their fears seriously. The number of grassroots initiatives against the common currency is increasing, and political observers say a Tea Party-style anti-euro movement could do well...
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More Debt Threat...

Satyajit Das / Calculated Risk:
European Death Spiral – Mission Unaccomplished -- In early 2010, drawing on the military leadership of President George W. Bush, European leaders declared the economic equivalent of “mission accomplished”. A bailout – whoops support! – package of Euro 750 billion had shocked and awed speculators into submission. Like the Bush pronouncement, the European prognosis provided premature. The return of European sovereign debt problems in late 2010, culminating in the bailout of Ireland highlighted the deep seated and perhaps intractable problems of some over indebted European nations...
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canadianbusiness.com:
Quantitative easing for Europe? -- So, are we close to seeing the break-up of the EU? Perhaps, but there is one escape route: quantitative easing, which I have previously described as substitute for a fiscal union. Peter Gibson, a quantitative analyst and strategist at CIBC World Markets, puts it even more emphatically by saying the “European Central Bank should centralize its debt market and bail out governments and banks with a multi-trillion-dollar plan.” Moreover, he adds, the ECB should cease sterilizing against the misplaced fear of inflation.

My feeling now is that if the ECB has to choose between the dissolution of the EU and quantitative easing, it will opt for the latter.
----
Bloomberg:
Portuguese Bonds Lead Peripheral Euro-Area Decline Amid Looming Auctions -- Portuguese government bonds fell, pushing the 10-year yield up by the most in eight months, amid concern demand at auctions next week may falter...
----
Bloomberg:
Belgium's King to Tackle Political Deadlock as Debt Woes Mount -- Belgium’s king will make a fresh bid to end the 211-day post-election deadlock that has left the country without a full-time government and fanned concern that Europe’s debt crisis will widen...
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ZeroHedge:
And Irish CDS Is Outtahere -- It seems at least one person read Buiter's 84-page "Europe is pretty much doomed" (our titling) magnum opus over the weekend. Irish CDS tells the whole story.

ZeroHedge:
Youth Unemployment In Italy Hits Record 28.9% -- The fundamentals of the last PIG country, which has so far avoided the bond carnage of its peripheral peers, reported that while broad unemployment was 8.7%, the "highest since the beginning of the beginning of the time series in 2004" it is youth unemployment which, like in Spain, is becoming a few bigger issues. Corriere Della Sera announced that youth unemployment has hit a record of 28.9%...
----
And back in the good ol' U.S.A.

Caroline Baum / Bloomberg BusinessWeek:
Some Manure, Please, So I Can ‘Grow the Economy’ --
The idea that the government can grow the economy is seriously flawed. The economy grows on its own unless there are obstacles placed in the way. The best thing the government can do is remove those impediments, such as the high corporate tax rate, and allow the economy to send out new roots and green shoots. Water it periodically. Fertilize occasionally with organic material. And don’t overfeed.

“Grow the economy” conjures up images of bureaucrats sitting around a table distributing tax incentives to ethanol producers; doling out grants to private companies to advertise overseas; pouring money into pointless infrastructure projects, such as bike paths, pedestrian trails and critter crossings.

Oh, wait. The government does that already...

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Fed is Robbing Us Blind

Did President Andrew Jackson really say that his greatest accomplishment as President was "I killed the bank"? He was referring to the "Second Bank of the United States", which was our country's second central bank. The American Dream animated short film blends history and economics to show how Central Banks, like the Federal Reserve, have been the den of financial evil doers for centuries.

TheAmericanDreamFilm.com:

The AMERICAN DREAM is a 30 minute animated film that shows you how you've been scammed by the most basic elements of our government system. All of us Americans strive for the American Dream, and this film shows you why your dream is getting farther and farther away. Do you know how your money is created? Or how banking works? Why did housing prices skyrocket and then plunge? Do you really know what the Federal Reserve System is and how it affects you every single day? THE AMERICAN DREAM takes an entertaining but hard hitting look at how the problems we have today are nothing new, and why leaders throughout our history have warned us and fought against the current type of financial system we have in America today. You will be challenged to investigate some very entrenched and powerful institutions in this nation, and hopefully encouraged to help get our nation back on track.
YouTube / The American Dream Film --


related:
Judge Napolitano / Freedom Watch / FoxBusiness.com:
Is the Fed Robbing Us Blind? -- Filmmaker Tad Lumpkin discusses why he believes the Fed is killing the 'American Dream.' ...

ZeroHedge.com:
Cartoon: How The American Dream Purchased On Credit Became The American Nightmare

Daily Kos:
I killed the Bank -- When asked what his greatest accomplishment had been during his two terms as President, Andrew Jackson replied "I killed the Bank." He was talking about the "Second Bank of the United States", which was our country's second central bank...

Wikipedia:
Bank War -- The Bank War is the name given to the controversy over the Second Bank of the United States and the attempts to destroy it by then-president Andrew Jackson. At that time, it was the only nationwide bank and, along with its president Nicholas Biddle, exerted tremendous influence over the nation's financial system. Jackson viewed the Second Bank of the United States as a monopoly since it was a private institution managed by a board of directors, and in 1832 he vetoed the renewal of its charter...

Calculated Risk

MishTalk - Mike Shedlock

Paul Krugman - NY Times

The Big Picture - Barry Ritholtz

naked capitalism - Yves Smith

Pragmatic Capitalism

Washington's Blog

Safe Haven

Paper Economy

The Daily Reckoning - Australia