Monday, July 26, 2010

The Death of Paper Money

A great read from over the pond, by hyphenated name guy.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard / UK Telegraph:
The Death of Paper Money -- another book from the 1970s entitled "When Money Dies: the Nightmare of The Weimar Hyper-Inflation" has just been reprinted. Written by former Tory MEP Adam Fergusson -- endorsed by Warren Buffett as a must-read -- it is a vivid account drawn from the diaries of those who lived through the turmoil in Germany, Austria, and Hungary as the empires were broken up.

Near civil war between town and country was a pervasive feature of this break-down in social order. Large mobs of half-starved and vindictive townsmen descended on villages to seize food from farmers accused of hoarding. The diary of one young woman described the scene at her cousin’s farm.

"In the cart I saw three slaughtered pigs. The cowshed was drenched in blood. One cow had been slaughtered where it stood and the meat torn from its bones. The monsters had slit the udder of the finest milch cow, so that she had to be put out of her misery immediately. In the granary, a rag soaked with petrol was still smouldering to show what these beasts had intended," she wrote.

Grand pianos became a currency or sorts as pauperized members of the civil service elites traded the symbols of their old status for a sack of potatoes and a side of bacon. There is a harrowing moment when each middle-class families first starts to undertand that its gilt-edged securities and War Loan will never recover. Irreversible ruin lies ahead. Elderly couples gassed themselves in their apartments...

There is a clear temptation for the West to extricate itself from the errors of the Greenspan asset bubble, the Brown credit bubble, and the EMU sovereign bubble by stealth default through inflation. But that is a danger for later years. First we have the deflation shock of lives. Then -- and only then -- will central banks go to far and risk losing control over their printing experiment as velocity takes off. One problem at a time please.

JC Hewitt:
Book Review: The Dying of Money by Jens O. Parsson
22 Statistics That Prove The Middle Class Is Being Systematically Wiped Out Of Existence In America

Friday, July 23, 2010

Newark New Jersey is Broke and going without TP

You know things are bad when a city stops buying toilet paper for its employees. Is Newark the among the first of many municipal dominoes to fall into bankruptcy?

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis:
Emergency Press Conference on Newark Budget Gap; Massive Service Cuts; No Toilet Paper for City Offices; Newark is Bankrupt -- Newark Mayor Cory Booker and the city council are fighting over ways to balance a $70 million budget hole. Literally everything is under discussion except the one thing that needs to be done: declare bankruptcy.

Please play this video. It is pretty enlightening....

Newark is bankrupt and public unions did it. The only sensible solution for Newark is to declare bankruptcy, dissolve the unions and their pension plans, and start all over with non-union employees for government services.
Why send money to Haiti? Can anyone spare a roll for Newark? Or Harrisburg? Or Detroit? or ...

Miami and 30 more American cities going bankrupt

ABC News:
American Cities Teeter on Brink of Bankruptcy
Buffett: Municipal Debt Meltdown Will Hit US -- Add investment legend Warren Buffett to the list of those who warn of a municipal debt meltdown.

Many municipalities have promised overly generous retirement and health benefits to public workers without any viable plans to bring in the money necessary to pay for those benefits...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

U.S. Jobs Lag Until 2021, Fed Sees No End to High Unemployment


When will  people see that the real nut of this problem of surviving vicious boom and bust cycles is the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve is not a "Federal" agency. It is really a private bank, working to protect the interests of the banking fat cats and Wall Street casinos.

John Schmitt and Tessa Conroy / Center for Economic and Policy Research:
The Urgent Need for Job Creation -- Many lawmakers, policymakers, and economic commentators do not appear to recognize the depth of the current labor-market recession. If job growth from July 2010 forward proceeds at the same pace as the fastest four years of the 2000s expansion, the economy will not return to the December 2007 employment level until March 2014, well after the next presidential election; and the economy will not catch up to the intervening increase in the labor force until early in the next decade (April 2021). Even at the somewhat faster job creation rates currently projected by the CBO, we will not return to pre-recession employment levels until after the 2012 election (June 2013), and not make up for the expanded labor force until the second half of the next presidential term (August 2015).

Zero Hedge:
US Economy Will Return To December 2007 Employment Levels... In 2021! -- The reality is that the economy will likely NEVER return to a December 2007 jobless rate, as proposed by El-Erian and his New Normal concept, just like the Fed will most likely NEVER raise rates in this latest iteration of pre-reset capitalism. And as the Fed's dual mandate of jobs and inflation is now tarnished beyond repair, what other valid justification is there to retain the Federal Reserve which does nothing but skew the market, and necessitate the need for constant regulation? The only way to return to efficient markets is to do away with regulation completely, however that would also mean an elimination of the Fed, and its most artificial concept of free lending to banks via the Discount Window, i.e., endless moral hazard for Wall Street's casinos...
Sewell Chan / New York Times:
Bernanke Sees No Quick End to High Rate of Joblessness  — WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Federal Reserve, in saying that it had no immediate plans to provide additional support to the economy, dashed the hopes of some economists and executives who have been pushing for action to add momentum to the sluggish recovery...

In presenting the Fed’s semiannual monetary policy report to Congress, Mr. Bernanke said that it would take “a significant amount of time” to restore the 8.5 million jobs lost in the United States in 2008 and 2009, and that “the economic outlook remains unusually uncertain.” ...
Chairman Ben S. Bernanke / Board of Governors …: Testimony  —  Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress
Alexandra Twin /   Stocks slump on Bernanke comments
Sudeep Reddy / Real Time Economics:   Testimony Highlights: Bernanke on the Hill
Pete Davis / Capital Gains and Games blogs:   Bernanke Kept Monetary Stimulus Options Open This Afternoon
Jessica Pressler / New York Magazine:   Depressive Bernanke Brings Down Markets
Sewell Chan / New York Times:   Fed in Hot Seat Again on Economic Stimulus
Neil Irwin / Political Economy:   Why Wall Street doesn't understand the Fed
Annie Lowrey / The Washington Independent:   Warning of Economic Distress, Bernanke Says Fed Will Do Nothing Yet

Friday, July 16, 2010

Civilization Falls Apart in Oakland

One title put on this disturbing NSFW video was: "Fight in Oakland Burger King Parking Lot Between Pregnant Ladies, Prostitutes, Pimps and Old Ladies (Yawn)." How else to you describe a parking lot brawl between a cast of assorted characters, who look like they walked out of a gritty post-apocalyptic comic book.

Consider that this mess takes place in broad day light at a busy Burger King for almost ten minutes. An example of percolating societal acrimony? Or is this just another random day in the life of Oakland?

The DeadSpin blog tries to decipher the mayhem:
Burger King Parking Lot In Oakland Is The Venue For One Of The Most Disturbing Things You'll Ever See (UPDATE) -- To sum up: Pantsless, mouthy pregnant ladies fighting. One mouthy pregnant lady getting jumped by two people, then getting knocked out by dude smoking a joint. Old lady (Dressed Like A Phantom) then attacks mouthy pregnant lady. Police are...somewhat present? ...

Other reactions to the brawl:
The Oakland Burger King Fight -- No description will suffice, but there’s a pregnant woman, a lack of pants, NSFW language, a man punching a lady in the face, a cop getting hit by a car, all in one extravagant Burger King parking lot scene...

Barstool Sports: Shakespeare himself couldn’t describe what just happened...

Update: Does this news have any relation to what's happening in Oakland?
Oakland talks break down; layoffs for 80 cops -- Oakland laid off 80 police officers Tuesday after negotiations between city officials and union leaders failed on one simple matter: job security.

The police union demanded that the city guarantee that its officers would not be laid off for three years in exchange for giving up some pension benefits that would have eased the city's budget problems.

City leaders, however, said it would have been irresponsible of them to agree to protect police jobs for more than one year because the city's budget problems are likely to worsen...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Inventory of the Global Shipping Fleet

Here is an interesting table showing the size and status of the global vessel fleet (via Minyanville). Did you ever wonder how many commercial shipping vessels ply the world's oceans? This is the breakdown:

Updated          Current      |              Newbuilding                  |
07/09/10       # In     DWT   | # On  # Under  % Under      #   Orderbook |#Broken
            Service   ('000)  | Order  Constr   Constr Launched  As DWT % |     Up
Tankers       2,102   324,013 |   389     58    12.98      33     29.33   |    577
 Crude Oil    1,498    51,072 |   201     69    25.56      20     27.94   |    536
 Oil Product    341    26,910 |    23      5    17.86      15     10.22   |      6
 LNG            510    13,258 |    45     17    27.42      12      9.44   |    118
 Chemical       315     5,467 |    57     21    26.92      16     28.71   |    117
                              |                                           |
Carriers                      |                                           |
 Bulk         6,746   436,675 | 2,373    317    11.78     159     51.63   |    942
 Ore            125    29,185 |    98     11    10.09       1    113.43   |     27
 Vehicle        634    10,851 |    88     39    30.71      22     23.88   |    148
 Gen Cargo    4,581    57,832 |   438    305    41.05     109     22.72   |  1,172
 Ro-Ro          439     4,747 |    32     13    28.89       6     14.04   |     82
                              |                                           |
Containers                    |                                           |
Containerships 4,555  173,564 |   510    106    17.21      73     27.9    |    457
                              |                                           |
Combination                   |                                           |
 Chemical/Oil  2,780   70,463 |   374    149    28.49      90     22.87   |    180
                              |                                           |
Passenger                     |                                           |
 Cruise ships    159    1,374 |    14      8    36.36       4     18.02   |     22

DWT = Deadweight tonnage
LNG = Liquefied natural gas
LPG = Liquefied petroleum gas
Ro-Ro = Roll-on/roll-off vessel

The reason for the table is to show how there has been overbuilding in the shipping industry. Old ships, plus a large supply of new ships means that shipping rates will fall.

Stories related to the recent drastic fall in shipping rates:
Baltic dries up: shipping rates slump -- the decline in rates has been greatest for the biggest vessels, the sort used to carry iron ore and coal from Australia and Brazil to China, suggesting weaker demand in the world’s most vibrant big economy. Such ships cost $48,000 a day to charter in late May; they are now down to around $18,000 a day...

the flow of new ships is now in full flow: in the first half of this year the global fleet increased by 23% as new vessels came into service at the rate of 16 a month. There are now 23 such vessels arriving each month, adding to oversupply...

The Baltic Dry Index Has Been Annihilated...
Commodity-Shipping Rates Extend Decline, Led by Larger Vessels
Baltic Dry Massacre Enters 34th Straight Dry As BDIY Plunges 4.5% Overnight

Wall Street Journal:
Shipping Index, Once Global Trade Signal, Narrows In On China -- A plunge in an index long seen as a barometer of trade trends is further evidence of waning raw-materials demand from China, but analysts aren't relying on the Baltic Dry Index for clear signals on the strength of the global economy...

Concerns about having more ships than demand dictates has been an issue for the industry since the credit crunch, which spurred questions about how the record-setting number of vessels ordered when ship owners were flush with cash were going to affect shipping rates in a more-fragile demand environment...

How Big A Worry is the Baltic Dry Index? -- Industry data suggest there was a surge in orders for new cargo ships in 2007 and 2008 at the peak of the global commodity price boom...
It's also hard to believe that there is a total fleet of 159 cruise ships and that 22 were recently scrapped. The four new passenger cruise ships launched this year are:
  • MS Queen Elizabeth - Built in Italy. Launched in January 2010. Her maiden voyage was planned for October 2010.
  • Norwegian Epic - Built in France. Set sail on her maiden voyage on June 24, 2010 from Southampton, England. She arrived in New York on July 1st.
  • Nieuw Amsterdam - She was built in Italy and sailed on her first set of sea trials on May 16, 2010. She was christened in Venice on July 4, 2010 and set sail on her maiden voyage.
  • Celebrity Eclipse - Built in Germany. The ship was launched in February 2010. In response to the shutdown of UK airspace due to the eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallaj√∂kull volcano, the newly completed Eclipse was used to rescue 2000 British tourists stranded in Spain as "an act of goodwill" by the owners. The ship departed from Southampton for Bilbao on April 21st, and returned on April 23rd.
cruise related:
Norwegian Cruise Line Says Its New Floating City (Norwegian Epic) Never Sleeps
USA Today:
The Netherlands' Princess Maxima christens new Holland America ship (Nieuw Amsterdam)
Stranded tourists return from Bilbao on Eclipse cruise

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Doomsday/Extinction Event: Massive Methane Explosion in the Ocean

The BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill has generated loads of media coverage about the many dangers to our environment posed by offshore drilling. One very interesting doomsday scenario related to the oil spill is the potentially lethal build-up of methane levels in the Gulf of Mexico. This pent up methane could erupt at some point creating tidal waves and a massive explosive gas cloud. Something like a shaken champagne bottle being opened. Strange right?

But, these methane eruptions may have caused massive extinction events in the past. Just something else to kept in mind...
Doomsday: How BP Gulf disaster may have triggered a 'world-killing' event -- Ominous reports are leaking past the BP Gulf salvage operation news blackout that the disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico may be about to reach biblical proportions.

251 million years ago a mammoth undersea methane bubble caused massive explosions, poisoned the atmosphere and destroyed more than 96 percent of all life on Earth. [1] Experts agree that what is known as the Permian extinction event was the greatest mass extinction event in the history of the world...
History Channel Mega Disasters – Methane Explosion in the Gulf of Mexico

Friday, July 9, 2010

Big Business Discovers Obama is Anti-Business & the NY Times wacks the Ruthless Rich

Items of Interest:

The Wall Street Journal:
The Roundtable's Great Awakening -- Big business discovers President Obama's 'hostile environment.'

Among the ironies of President Obama's style is that he regularly denounces big business even as big business has been one of his closest allies. But that may change, at least judging by the Business Roundtable's high-profile second thoughts on Tuesday.

"We see a host of laws, regulations and other policies being enacted that impose a government prescription of how individual industries ought to be structured," said Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg, also chairman of the Roundtable, the association of chief executives of the largest U.S. companies. In a remarkable speech at the Economic Club of Washington, he even added that this agenda is creating "an increasingly hostile environment for investment and job creation here in this country."

Over the last year under president John Castellani, the Roundtable has largely supported the White House-Democratic program of advancing the power of the state over business. BRT favored the stimulus, ObamaCare, cap and trade and other Washington Inc. programs. Mr. Seidenberg semi-recanted Tuesday, saying that "By reaching into virtually every sector of economic life, government is injecting uncertainty into the marketplace and making it harder to raise capital and create new businesses." ...

Obama loves Business according to Rahm Emanuel

Mike Allen / The Politico: 
Emanuel: Business should be thanking this president - RAHM EMANUEL told POLITICO’s Ben White yesterday that rather than recoiling against Obama, business leaders should be grateful for his support on at least a half dozen counts: his advocacy of greater international trade and education reform open markets despite union skepticism; his rejection of calls from some quarters to nationalize banks during the financial meltdown; the rescue of the automobile industry; the fact that the overhaul of health care preserved the private delivery system; the fact that billions in the stimulus package benefited business with lucrative new contracts, and that financial regulation reform will take away the uncertainty that existed with a broken, pre-crash regulatory apparatus. But, in the White House view, some business leaders listen only to Obama speeches being tough on BP or on the excesses of Wall Street and assume Obama is hostile to business across the board. “Rather than respond to atmospherics, they should look at policies where we have been supportive,” Emanuel said.”…

Politico:  White House works to flip anti-business rep
Carol E. Lee / The Politico:  President Obama's new slogan: ‘Yes we did!’
Taegan Goddard's Political Wire:   Orszag Will Head to Think Tank

Shane D'Aprile / Ballot Box:   GOP: Obama Missouri trip helps them
Ron Chusid / Liberal Values:   The Patients' Bill of Rights (Yes We Did)

“The rich are different: they are more ruthless”

David Streitfeld / New York Times:
Walking Away From Million-Dollar Mortgages — No need for tears, but the well-off are losing their master suites and saying goodbye to their wine cellars.  —  The housing bust that began among the working class in remote subdivisions and quickly progressed to the suburban middle class is striking the upper class in privileged enclaves like this one in Silicon Valley.…
Yves Smith / naked capitalism: Rich Defaulting on Mortgages At Highest Rate
Felix Salmon: Jingle mail datapoint of the day
Calculated Risk: Foreclosures: Movin' on Up!  —  From David Streitfeld at the NY Times …
Atrios / Eschaton: We're All Subprime Now And Forever  —  It's a bit hard …
Realty Check: Rich are Defaulting on Loans at Higher Rate? Not So Fast...

Monday, July 5, 2010

Insurrection Wafting over the Land

Items of Interest:

Dont Tread on Me -- Today, we find ourselves in complete subordination to the military-industrial complex, now indenturing over a trillion dollars every year. Institutions bloated and corrupt far beyond any other government institution, yet completely devoid of public criticism. Over the last decades, in what was the founding generation's greatest nightmare, the military creeps further and further into domestic affairs. Two centuries ago, a generation found this situation intolerable and on on this day:

...for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
Daily Kos:
Why liberals should love the Second Amendment -- The Second Amendment is about revolution.

In no other country, at no other time, has such a right existed. It is not the right to hunt. It is not the right to shoot at soda cans in an empty field. It is not even the right to shoot at a home invader in the middle of the night.

It is the right of revolution.

Let me say that again: It is the right of revolution.
Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government.
Chris Matthews:
'Rise of the New Right: A Hardball Documentary' --
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST (voice-over):  The new right, an emerging fact of life in 21st century America: tea parties, birthers, patriot groups, militias.
Their common cause?  A raging hostility toward the elected government of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And we are in deep tyranny—deep, deep, deep.
MATTHEWS:  Their common fear: that their personal rights and freedoms stand in imminent jeopardy.
MICHAEL LACKOMAR, SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN VOLUNTEER MILITIA:  Tyranny is something that we‘ve been warned from the very beginning by the Founding Father that we have to be on guard against.
MATTHEWS:  Their common enemy: the president of the United States, Barack Obama. ...
Politics Daily:
Chris Matthews' Documentary 'Rise of the New Right': A Curveball From the Left -- overall Matthews is guilty of attempting to find the most extreme elements of the right, and trying to paint the conservative movement with that broad brush...

Chris Matthews’ ‘The Rise of The New Right’: Deceptions and Delusions -- the entire show was scored with super spooky music. A video clip of Ronald Reagan? Cue ominous horror movie music! A Sarah Palin segment? Dun dun dunnnn. Matthews, of course, portrayed Sarah Palin as a dum-dum “failed candidate”, yet also somehow ominous and fiendish, accusing her of putting those who voted for Obamacare “in the cross-hairs.” Get it? She’s totally fomenting violence...

Huffington Post:
Chris Matthews: 'Rise Of The New Right' Special Will 'Scare The Heck Out' Of Liberals (VIDEO) -- The documentary examines the rise of the Tea Party movement and various right-wing militias that have formed in the wake of the 2008 election of President Obama. Matthews said the disparate people and groups profiled in the special share a fear of the power of the American government.

"There's a similar message," he said. "This government's a tyranny and it has to be, if not overthrown, then something like it. They treat the American government like a foreign occupying force."

He pointed to the right's use of the "Don't Tread On Me" flag — originally flown to protest the British during the American Revolution — as an example of the way it views the current administration as an occupying power.
The New Civil Wars Within the West -- Internecine civil wars are underway almost everywhere within the West, and most virulently in the United States of America. They are not yet kinetic wars, but wars of grinding prepositioning, the kind which lead to foregone conclusions without a shot being fired. They are wars of survival, nonetheless, because the basic architecture for national strength is being altered incrementally or dramatically. And, in many cases, consciously...

The West is at its watershed, not because of a threat from a less-productive society. The collapse of the West is not because Islam is at the gates. Islam is at the gates because of the collapse of the West.
Zero Hedge:
On Why America's 234th Birthday May Not Have Many More To Follow -- After the establishment of the Federal Reserve in 1913, however, the bankers finally got their way in the US. They took control of the US financial system and Fractional Reserve Banking became a reality in the US. What this means is that the financial system was essentially privatized and the commercial banks started to create money “out of thin air” by taking in deposits and then using these deposits to empower them to make loans significantly in excess of those deposits. I'm sure you can see how, through this scheme, the banks had shifted themselves out of a situation where they had primarily been an intermediary between savers and borrowers in the economy, to a situation where they had the authority to create and lend money into the economy.

Practically what this has meant to the American people is that as the banks have created additional units of currency, the value of their savings has been consistently undermined and devalued over time...
Gordon Duff / Veterans Today:
Surrogate Warfare, Killing Americans for Fun and Profit -- Thus, the great Christian colossus, America, and its global military hegemony becomes a helpless dupe, stuck in war after war making even the hypocrisy of Vietnam seem like a holy crusade in comparison, each war more vile, more venal, more cruel than the last. Tens of thousands of troops, spending years away from home, drugged on anti-psychotics, almost afraid to return to the United States to suffer at the hands of our military, courts, the VA, troops who fear ending up in a prison cell as did so many Vietnam vets.

With no jobs, no assurance of anything for many, even families have disintegrated during the senseless ten year conflict, agreeing to spend a lifetime in the military is the only chance for survival for most. What was meant to be a professional army is now a force of highly trained economic hostages. If the Nation of Karzai is a narco-dictatorship, and it is, ruling the city of Kabul with an iron checkbook, a medieval duchy in the midst of a permanent national uprising, can Americans even be called mercenaries anymore?

Are we any better than the street corner thugs seen in so many of America’s cities, peddling the agricultural produce, the poisons brought in by our Mexican and Afghani-NATO cartels? ...
John Robb / Global Guerrillas:
Hollow US States --
"We (California) are on the verge of system failure." John Ross, the California budget project to Canada's Globe and Mail.
Here's an early picture of a world dominated by a global financial oligarchy. One point on a trend line.

Fiscal insolvency leads to an endless reduction in services.

The more you cut, the worse it gets. The worse it gets, the more you cut. Don't cut fast enough and the financial oligarchy whacks you with higher rates and onerous dictates. In the end, there isn't much left.

With the loss of legitimacy and stability this entails, the US could become an exceptional breeding ground for some of the world's most aggressive global guerrillas...
---- [Arizona]
Cochise County Border Militia leader Bill Davis explains mission -- I was embedded with the Cochise County Border Militia during their 4th of July border patrol operation. This is a blog post about the militia's mission.

The Cochise County Border Militia is clearly a conglomeration of individuals from various backgrounds, professions, cities and states. What they share is a belief that the government isn't doing enough to protect America from a rising tide of illegal workers and the violence caused by drug and human smugglers.

They expected hundreds, but only a handful of men answered Bill Davis’ call to join his Cochise County Border Militia on a 4th of July operation.

The small group, all from cities and towns in Arizona, divided into pairs and dispersed along different elevation points of a vast wash near Tombstone, AZ...
Huffington Post:
Tea Party Jesus: Blog Puts Words Of Conservatives In The Mouth Of Christ (PICTURES) -- The concept behind the site Tea Party Jesus is simple: Put the words of conservative Christian social and political figures in the mouth of Christ. The juxtaposition of hateful, ignorant, or otherwise nonsensical rants with serene photos of JC himself isn't only funny, but says a lot about the people who claim to be Christians. With the site's permission, we've compiled some of our favorites so far. From the predictably fiery Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter to various pastors, radio hosts, and senators...
Warning To Gulf Volunteers: Almost Every Cleanup Worker From The 1989 Exxon Valdez Disaster Is Now Dead -- Are you sure that you want to help clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? In a previous article we documented a number of the health dangers from this oil spill that many scientists are warning us of, and now it has been reported on CNN that the vast majority of those who worked to clean up the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska are now dead. Yes, you read that correctly. Almost all of them are dead...

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