Thursday, January 31, 2013

Obama Shrugs, Sunsets His (Mostly Ignored) Jobs Council

Safely reelected, Obama's Jobs Council sunsets this week, even though millions still can't find work:

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will let his jobs council expire this week without renewing its charter, winding down one source of input from the business community even as unemployment remains stubbornly high. ...

Obama met with the council only a handful of times. During the last meeting, in February 2012 . . . 

Read the rest, here.

Why Obama's Done Nothing To Restore Jobs And Growth

It's not his thang, baby, dontcha remember? He told you so almost four years ago:

-- President Obama, March 2009

Jobs and GDP are an annoyance to Obama, as are stocks, banking and Bibi Netanyahu, and boy is he ever proving it.

What's The Difference Between GDP Growth Of +3.1% And -0.1%?

What's the difference between GDP growth of +3.1% and -0.1%?

If you said 3.2%, you are a dumb ass.

3.2 is the spread in percentage points, not the percentage difference.

Think of the measurement, in this case of the GDP  expressed as a rate, as steps on a ladder, the rungs of which each represent 0.1. You are standing way up there on rung 3.1 in Q3 2012, from which you descend during Q4 all the way down to rung 0.1, then to rung 0.0, and finally to rung -0.1, if you can imagine a ladder with zero and negative rungs.

How many steps did you take? The answer is 32. That is a long way down from where you were. Since each step has a value of 0.1, 32 x 0.1 = 3.2, the value of the spread.

Now that you know the value of the spread, you can calculate the percentage difference between the two measurements the spread spans, otherwise called the percentage drop in this instance. This is where people, even in the financial media, get confused, because they have to figure out the percentage difference between rates, which by definition are already expressed as percentages. But really it is not difficult, no more difficult than calculating the percentage difference between two quantities of apples, oranges or any other things you can enumerate. Forget that they are percentages you are calculating the percentage difference between in this instance, and imagine instead that they are the number of times Red Forman kicked your ass last week vs. this week, or whatever else you like.

Once you know the spread between the two things, you say to yourself: "What percent of the higher number is the spread?" You ask it that way because you want to know how much you declined in percentage terms. (You'd ask the question of the lower number if it had been an increase). Since percent is the amount per hundred, you turn that word problem into an equation: x divided by 100 (what percent means the amount divided by 100), multiplied by (of) 3.1 (the higher number of 3.1 or -0.1, the place from which you climbed down to -0.1) = (is) 3.2 (the spread).

You write it this way:

x                 3.1  
---       x     -----     =    3.2
100              1

Another way to say the same thing is:

------  = 3.2

Next you begin to isolate x by multiplying each side of the equation by 100, which gives you 3.1x = 320.

Then all you have to do is divide each side by 3.1 to find the value of x. 320 divided by 3.1 = 103.2258. And what was that again? The amount per 100, otherwise called the percentage. So the answer is 103.2%. That's how much the GDP growth rate declined from Q3 to Q4. That's a lot bigger difference between the GDP numbers than 3.2%, isn't it? 3.2% is puny and insignificant on top of being just plain wrong. 103.2% is the stunning truth, and an arrestingly important warning.

In other words, from Q3 to Q4, we wiped out all the growth rate, 100% of it, and a little bit more. We were up the ladder at 3.1, and walked it all the way back 31 steps to the bottom, and then some, one more step, below ground level so to speak.

Now if we could just get people like Rush Limbaugh to understand this, maybe more people in the country would begin to understand the enormity of our problems. Unfortunately for us, the enormity of our problems begins with the fact that most of the voters can't do even this simple math. If they could, they wouldn't have reelected the guy whose slogan was Forward because they would have understood that he doesn't know which direction that is, let alone how to get there.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Obama Has Had 3 Recessions In His First Term, And May Get A 4th To Start His Second

If a recession is two quarters back to back with GDP declines, the second decline worse than the first, then Obama has had three recessions in his first term, and is likely to begin his second term with a fourth recession. "A fall in GDP in two successive quarters" remains the dictionary definition of a recession despite what trimmers everywhere say.

After Q4 2009, GDP declined from 4.0 to 2.3 and 2.2 in the first two quarters of 2010.

After Q3 2010, GDP declined from 2.6 to 2.4 and 0.1 in the last quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011.

After Q4 2011, GDP declined from 4.1 to 2.0 and 1.3 in the first two quarters of 2012.

That makes three recessions at the ends of each of the first three years of Obama's first term, and the pattern appears to be repeating again at the end of the fourth year, going from 3.1 to -0.1 from the third quarter of 2012 to the fourth. With taxes rising dramatically in 2013 from the payroll tax reset, the increase in taxes on the rich, and the new ObamaCare taxes, and with spending cuts through sequestration looming, I'd say the odds favor a 4peat on the recession front because these factors are very negative for GDP, as are the employment rules for ObamaCare which will subdue incomes and thus spending.

Given the pattern of repeated recessions beginning already in 2010, what we have been going through since 2008 when GDP declined 0.3 and 2009 when GDP declined 3.1, a depression in fact all by itself, is actually better called an extended depression even though annually speaking 2012 represents a climb out of the pattern. Unless, that is, Q1 2013 isn't worse than -0.1 and future revisions to 2012 GDP aren't downward.

I wouldn't bet on it.

ObaMao Breaks A Few GDP Eggs To Transform The Country

After four years of the worst GDP in post-war history, are you starting to get the feeling that it's intentional?

"At present, our objective is to struggle against and crush those persons in authority who are taking the capitalist road, to criticize and repudiate the reactionary bourgeois academic 'authorities' and the ideology of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes and to transform education, literature and art, and all other parts of the superstructure that do not correspond to the socialist economic base, so as to facilitate the consolidation and development of the socialist system."

US GDP Growth Is So Bad Greece Is Doing Better Than We Are


George Bush's GDP Sucked But Was 2.5 Times Better Than Obama's

2.04% on average for 8 years then vs. 0.825% for four years now.

Markets Shrug At Terrible GDP Report, Hang On Words Of Federal Reserve

Faced with the worst GDP report since Q2 2009, the markets shrug. What really counts for markets is whether the Federal Reserve this afternoon will announce some new intervention to boost the economy. Markets ignore reality, and hang on the words of the bankers. This is not free market capitalism. These are not free markets. These are rigged markets. This is corporatism. This is fascism. It favors an elite few in exchange for their support, while the majority of Americans gets by on crumbs.

Under Obama GDP Has Never Been Worse Since 1948. The 2012 Winner Is A Loser.

Measured from Q4 2008 through Q4 2012, President Obama's average quarterly report of GDP is a stunningly low +0.865% over the 17 quarter period. Measured for the 16 quarters of 2009 through 2012, the average quarterly report is +1.475%.

Measured annually 2009-2012 President Obama's average annual GDP increase is a paltry +0.825%. Bush's average annual report of +2.04% over the eight years from 2001-2008 had been the worst record in post-war history. Remarkably, that was almost 2.5 times better than what we've got now, the worst recorded GDP growth since World War II.

The latest GDP data is available from the BEA in pdf here

Stunning GDP Drop Stunning To Everyone But David Rosenberg

(This post has been corrected).

Before the election, here, David "Rosie" Rosenberg actually predicted a negative GDP print in Q4 due to Hurricane Sandy. That GDP actually came in at a only slightly negative 0.1% is beside the point. In Q3 2012 the annualized rate of growth was reported as +3.1%. That means that during Q4 the annualized rate of growth hit a brick wall to decline by over 100%. If all it takes is a category 1 hurricane to send the greatest economy in the world negative, we are in sorry shape indeed.

Busted GDP. Busted Inaugural JumboTron. Busted Presidency. Busted Country.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Hits All Time High Today at 37.80


Sen. Marco Rubio Avoids Talking About Defacto Amnesty On Rush Limbaugh

And Rush avoided bringing up the subject. All Rubio said was that we have "an existing problem":

Look, I think there's this false argument that's been advanced by the left that conservatism and Republicans are anti-immigrant and anti-immigration. And we're not. Never have been. 

On the contrary, we are pro-legal immigration. And we recognize that our legal immigration system needs to be reformed. We also recognize, because conservatism's always been about common sense, that we do have an existing problem that needs to be dealt with in the best way possible.

But it came up on Mark Levin's show, as Washington Watcher noted at VDare, here:

In promoting his amnesty on the Mark Levin show last week, Rubio came up with what appeared to Levin to be a novel argument. Rubio claimed that by not enforcing the law, we currently have a “de facto amnesty”—which will continue unless we support his plan, which involves illegals supposedly paying a fine, community service, learning English and various other bits [of] unenforceable window-dressing. Levin, who has been solid on immigration in the past (and, it should be noted, has not come out in support of Rubio’s amnesty), found this argument compelling. He noted:

"We have de facto amnesty right now. When he said it, it set a light bulb off. Maybe I am a little slow. I said, ‘Well he’s right, we do have de facto amnesty.’ Which is exactly why Obama wants to really do nothing." . . . 

[D]espite Mark Levin’s “light bulb” moment, this argument is not novel. Thus in 2007, John McCain said "For us to do nothing is silent and de facto amnesty."  [GOP Candidates Shy Away From Bush, by Glen Johnson, Associated Press, June 6, 2007]  Even Barack Obama has sold amnesty as a punishment . . ..

It's clear Sen. Rubio is sensitive to negative feedback. He's fine tuning the message for the skulls full of mush out there in order to build the case for the Senate Gang of Eight amnesty plan. But as Washington Watcher says in his article, only the first of several reasons the status quo is preferable is that an outright amnesty will trigger a deluge of illegal immigration to take advantage of it.

The country is already full of unassimilated foreigners, so, pace Sen. Rubio, they represent the reason for conservatives to be against more legal immigration, not just the illegal kind. The law and the law-abiding have been the victims in this charade, not the illegals, and it is they who need to pay. It's about time so-called conservatives started saying so instead of cooking up compromises with the devil.

The AMT Fix Was A "Stunning Development"

From the Tax Guide for Investors, here:

"Although the AMT [Alternative Minimum Tax] fix merely preserves the status quo, for those who follow tax legislation and budget politics this is a stunning development. The need for this measure has been apparent to everyone for many years, but Congress has been unable to deal with the budget implications of a permanent fix and instead has enacted an AMT patch every year or two. How big is the budget impact of a permanent fix? Over the next ten years, this single provision in ATRA [American Taxpayer Relief Act] is estimated to cost the federal treasury over $1.8 trillion dollars. Not a typo."

Speaker Boehner Ripped Off Obama's Shirt. The Pants Are Next.

So says Ralph Benko, rightly, for Forbes, here, quoting Boehner and commenting:

"Who would have ever guessed that we could make 99% of the Bush tax cuts permanent? When we had a Republican House and Senate and a Republican in the White House, we couldn’t get that. And so, not bad."

“Not bad” is a resounding understatement. Dealt a weak hand, Boehner managed to 99% outfox, on tax policy, a president who had the massive apparatus of the executive branch, the Senate majority, and a left-leaning national elite media whooping it up for a whopping tax increase. Even more impressively, Boehner pulled it off with steady nerves while under heavy pressure from the anti-spending hawks in his own caucus.

Republicans and especially conservatives still don't appreciate the magnitude of Boehner's achievement, the most important part of which, as Benko says, will turn out to be the new baseline resulting from the permanent fix to the AMT. As The New York Times reported but nobody's talking about, wink wink, the permanent fix to the AMT is going to cost the feds $1.8 trillion over the next ten years. Well, guess who won't be paying that?! And Rush Limbaugh and other dunderheads are complaining that Republicans caved on the principle of tax increases. Methinks thou dost protest too much.

Lay down boys, take a little nap. It's 14 miles to the Cumberland Gap. 

More Bonds Held Than Stocks Because There's More Of Them, Silly

John Hussman weighs in with his customary common sense, here:

'Quite simply, the reason that pension funds and other investors hold more bonds relative to stocks than they have historically is that there are more bonds outstanding, relative to stocks, than there have been historically. What is viewed as “underinvestment” in stocks is actually a symptom of a rise in the gross indebtedness of the global economy, enabled and encouraged by quantitative easing of central banks, which have been successful in suppressing all apparent costs of that releveraging.'

His regular Tuesday column is like a weekly appointment with a psychiatrist. The madness of a week melts away under his penetrating illuminations.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Housing: 13 Million Borrowers Can't Move, Easily 25% Of Borrowers

Fully 25% of homeowners with mortgages can't sell because they'd have to "pay in" at closing, owing more than they could get, and cannot or will not do that. So they sit, stuck. Separately reported, after 5 million repossessions in 7 years, there are roughly 50 million mortgages still outstanding.

Diana Olick reports for CNBC, here:

"[T]here are still 10.7 million borrowers who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, and an additional 2.3 million who have less than five percent equity in their homes, according to CoreLogic. Those homeowners cannot sell without having to pay into their mortgages, so they are largely stuck in place. First-time home buyers are purchasing at an unusually low rate due to tighter credit standards, and many potential sellers simply don't want to list until prices rise more substantially."

4+ years of Federal Reserve zero interest rate policy hasn't worked to unfreeze the housing market, but it's done a hell of a job reducing income for older Americans.

Americans with capital saved for retirement should be allowed to pay off their mortgages from tax-protected capital without penalty, or, more conservatively, be allowed to bring cash to closing from such funds without penalty in order to close, move on, and "unstick" the market.

Come on Washington, use your imagination!

Oh, I forgot, liberals don't have any.

Warning To Sen. Mitch McConnell: Watch Out For A Libertarian Spoiler

Incumbent Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader in the US Senate, should get ready to face both a Democrat and a libertarian spoiler in his reelection bid.

Libertarians spoiled the senate races for Mourdock in Indiana and for Rehberg in Montana in 2012. So-called Tea Party candidates, Mourdock and Rehberg lost by margins posted to the libertarians' columns in their races. In Montana the libertarian was actually funded by Democrats.

Republicans like Sen. Jim DeMint and Gov. Sarah Palin continue to think, incorrectly, that libertarians are on the Republicans' side. They are not. Gov. Palin in particular has said in the past that she believes it would be a political mistake to alienate libertarians. In saying that, she reveals that she believes Republicans cannot stand on their own. Senator DeMint has said recently that as the new head of the Heritage Foundation he believes it is time to reach out to libertarians to forge an alliance on those things about which Republicans and libertarians agree. It makes one wonder if their own minds aren't divided over whether they are conservatives or libertarians.

Politico reports on the possibility of a libertarian running against McConnell, buried on page 3 of this story about Democrats planning to back a Tea Party candidate:

Liberty for All, a super PAC that put cash behind [Rep. Thomas] Massie and other conservative Republicans, is signaling it’s prepared to spend money to boost a McConnell challenger. One of the group’s leaders, Preston Bates, is a former Democratic operative who worked for Jack Conway, the Democratic candidate who lost to Rand Paul in 2010.

Bates said he left the Democratic Party in 2010, adding that while he personally identifies more with his former party, his year-old group puts money behind viable small government and libertarian-minded conservatives.

“Generally, what we need is to stop electing Republicans that are out of touch with most general election voters,” Bates said.

Libertarians are indeed a subset of the Democrat Party, not a genuine third party. They view themselves as successful not when they stop Democrats from getting elected, but Republicans, as Bates openly states. Democrat money helped a libertarian spoil the race for a Republican challenger to Rep. Giffords in Arizona in 2010, after which she was shot by a deranged libertarian, and in 2012 the Libertarian Party viewed itself as successful because it stopped those Republican candidates for senate in Indiana and Montana.

Sen. McConnell should consider the Democrat threat to back a Tea Party candidate in the Republican primary as a fake to the right. I'd bet rather that the Democrats intend to go left and back a libertarian in the general if possible. That's been their m/o in the past, and likely will be again because it is the more natural for them. When push comes to shove, libertarians jettison economic conservatism for social liberalism, the latter's home being in the Democrat Party.

Why You're A Janitor Or A Taxi Driver With A BA Degree

"[T]he stock of college graduates in the workforce (41.7 million) in 2010 was larger than the number of jobs requiring a college degree (28.6 million)."

Read more about it, here.

Gold To Oil Ratio 2003-2012 Screamed Gold In The Past, Oil In 2012

Year / Average Oil Price / Average Gold Price / Ratio

2003 / $27.69 / $363.38 / 13.12
2004 / $37.41 / $409.72 / 10.95
2005 / $49.93 / $444.74 / 08.91
2006 / $58.30 / $603.46 / 10.35
2007 / $64.20 / $695.39 / 10.83
2008 / $91.48 / $871.96 / 09.53 (dollar low 69.27 on March 18, 2008)
2009 / $53.52 / $972.35 / 18.17
2010 / $71.21 / $1,224.53 / 17.20
2011 / $87.04 / $1,571.52 / 18.06 (dollar low 67.97 on May 2, 2011)
2012 / $84.46 / $1,668.98 / 19.76
2013 / $89.84 / $1,411.23 / 15.71

Sunday, January 27, 2013

DHS Wants Assault Weapons For "Personal Defense"

The federal business opportunities website in June solicited bids for 7000 rifles chambered for the popular AR "assault weapon" round and says they are for the "personal defense" of the Dept. of Homeland Security/Immigration and Customs, but stipulates "select fire" which means full auto capable. Yeah. Full auto for personal defense. For them, not you. The contract is for up to $9.8 million.


Check it out for yourself, here.

h/t The Blaze (here)

Sarah Palin Is Still A Box Of Rocks

Sarah Palin thinks monetary policy under Obama has been inflationary, and will continue to be, here:

"Predicting the future has never been easier because here we are! Already we see higher taxes, a stagnant economy, the same inflationary monetary policies, Obamacare looming like a dark cloud over small businesses, yet another demand for 'debt ceiling' increases, continued stonewalling about the tragic Benghazi attacks, a Secretary of Defense nominee who has a history of being antagonistic to our ally Israel, and the attack on our Second Amendment rights by an administration that has no respect for the Constitution or the separation of powers."

Let's see.

The CPI level was 174.2 in November 2000. In November 2008 it was 213.074. And in November 2012 it was 231.025.

That means under eight years of George W. Bush inflation was up 22.32%, for an annual factor of 2.79.

Under four years of Obama inflation was up 8.42%, for an annual factor of 2.11.

The difference between the two is that under Obama the rate of CPI increase has been reduced almost 25% compared to Bush.

It should stop being an article of conservatism to ignore the difference, because insisting on being wrong about it won't help sell the other points.

S&P500 Buy And Hold Investors Since October 2007 Are Down 1.14% Per Year

Read it and weep, here.

The real rate of return in the S&P500 from October 2007 through 2012, five years and two months, is negative 1.14% per year with all dividends reinvested. Stories are circulating that individual investors are beginning to get back into the market. With the Shiller p/e above 23, they're going to get what's coming to them, imho. I've been 90% out of the market since late 2006, and intend to stay that way until a genuine buying opportunity arises, but this sure as hell isn't one of them.

The story is even worse going back to January 2000: real rate of return down 0.56% per year for 13 years January 2000 through 2012.

The S&P500 Is Up 12.31% Per Year In Obama's First Term

You can use the tool which generated this graphic here, anytime you want for anytime you want.

I measure November on November because elections mark the turning point psychologically, which counts for more than anything imho.

Elites have benefitted handsomely under Obama, which is what you would expect from a fascist. If that's too harsh for you, supply "national socialist" or "corporatist".

I reported in September, here, that stock market performance under Obama is the 4th best since Harry Truman, based on incomplete data showing inflation adjusted returns to date. Now that it's the new year, the data is in, but the conclusion is the same. Even though he slips from 12.66% to 12.31% for per annum returns, he's still safely in 4th place behind Truman, Clinton and Eisenhower.

Free market capitalism isn't practised in the United States and hasn't been since at least Woodrow Wilson. The corporatist model in the United States is mediated primarily through banking and the institution known as the Federal Reserve, which attempts to manipulate the economy through control of money, lending and interest rates, rewarding those first in line the most, the bankers, and leaving a few crumbs for the rest of us in a descending pecking order: corporations, unions, insurance companies, etc.  To a lesser extent, the tax code is used to reward friends and punish enemies, which is why it has grown so enormous in size and complicated to follow. The fascists' biggest coup in recent years was the tax reform of 1997 and the banking deregulation of 1999, both under Clinton and Gingrich, which unleashed a torrent of capital stored in decades of the housing stock from which elites skimmed and got very rich. You know it as the housing bubble, the result of the bursting of which has been 5 million homes repossessed and massive unemployment on a scale not scene since FDR. As a socialist, Obama is entirely happy with this arrangement because it offers him political opportunities. Idealism is merely a tool. He uses it to get power and get rich. And like dopes, Americans continue to hand it over, election after election. And some of these prisoners even grow to love their jailers.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The 1932 Dollar Adjusted For CPI Through 2011

The 1932 dollar (when gold was last fixed at $20.67 the ounce) adjusted for CPI through 2011 comes to $16.50 ($1 x 1650%). If you had $20.67 to start in 1932, you'd need $341.06 today to have the identical amount in terms of CPI.

An ounce of gold held since 1932 is worth $1660 right now in 2013, an increase of 8031% since 1932 ($20.67 x 8031%).

Tough choice, right?

Foreign Holdings Of US Treasuries Up Almost 11% Since 2011

Foreign holdings of US Treasury securities is up about 11% from November 2011, when the total outstanding was $5.01 trillion. In November 2012 $5.56 trillion is outstanding, according to the US Treasury, here.

About $548 billion in new monies has thus been lent by foreigners to the US in the twelve months through November 2012.

Federal revenues for fiscal 2012 are estimated at $2.5 trillion, with outlays at $3.8 trillion. That leaves about $750 billion of lending to the feds made up from domestic sources to pay for all the spending.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Reince Priebus Is An Electoral College Fiddler. Get Rid Of Him.

We already have fiddling going on with the National Popular Vote campaign. Now it turns out Reince Preibus, RNC chairman, favors a form of fiddling with the Electoral College of his own, here.

That's three strikes against Reince for me. He did a lousy job in 2012. We did nothing but keep the House, in the worst economy since WWII. He attacked the duly elected candidate for Senate in Missouri. I won't mention Indiana. And now this.

Dump Reince Preibus.

What Was Josh Brown, The Reformed Broker, REALLY Thinking About?

about bullets with one 't'?
or about bulletts with two?

The Left Refuses To Spell Properly. The Right Can't.

People Who Won't Spell Are The Enemy

"We are perfectly in the right to abandon conventions if we can afford to."

Seen here (what a shock, right?).

There is nothing too low which will not be lifted up by this sort.

ObamaCare Is Fascism? So Is The Federal Reserve.

And TARP. And Dodd-Frank.

So says Robert Romano for here:

[ObamaCare] guarantees customers to large companies, in this case insurance providers that supported passage of the legislation, and in the process cartelizes the system.

In other words, private profits are being embedded into the law, and enforced by the bureaucracy, which will levy fines on individuals and employers that fail to comply with the mandates. ...

[T]he level of state control in this new system, and insurance industry participation in implementing it to its own benefit, is undeniable. It is corporatism defined.

One could compare it to the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 that implemented the National Recovery Administration, which may have been patterned after Mussolini's labor laws, as summarized in a 1991 Yale Law School study by James Whitman, before it was subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court.

Or the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, which gave privately owned banks the power to appoint regional Fed chairmen and outsourced creation of the public currency to a banking cartel.

Or more recently, one might examine the Troubled Asset Relief Fund (TARP), Dodd-Frank's "orderly liquidation fund" and the Fed's continued mortgage-backed securities purchase program — all bailout programs that privatize profits and socialize losses in the financial sector. More corporatism.

This country has been a veritable cornucopia of fascism since the days of Woodrow Wilson and FDR.

Has free market capitalism failed in the United States? It's hardly been tried.

Annual Percentage Increases To Federal Spending Since Fiscal 1999

Fiscal Year / Percentage increase to outlays over prior year

1999 /  3.0%
2000 /  5.1
2001 /  4.1
2002 /  7.9
2003 /  7.4
2004 /  6.2
2005 /  7.8
2006 /  7.4
2007 /  2.8
2008 /  9.3
2009 / 17.9
2010 / (1.8)
2011 /  4.3
2012 /  5.3

Average annual increase over the last 14 fiscal years: 6.2%.

At that rate, the rule of 72 says outlays will double in fewer than 12 years. Outlays for 2012 are estimated to finish at $3.8 trillion. Half of that is $1.9 trillion. Actual outlays in 2001, eleven years prior, were $1.9 trillion.

So in 2023, eleven years from 2012, expect outlays to reach $7.6 trillion.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What Is The Cost Of 5 Million Homes Repossessed By The Banks?

In 2009, it is estimated the average mortgage was $172,000. If 5 million homes have been repossessed by banks in the current 7 year housing catastrophe, using that average amount as a proxy for the cost would mean a hit to the banks of about $860 billion, far less than the $7.7 trillion in emergency lending extended by the Federal Reserve which we have learned about.

The government could have stepped in, if it had had the resolve, and paid off each mortgage at that cost to save the banks in question who were on the hook, and renegotiated ownership with each homeowner. An additional 10 million plus mortgages today are underwater, and could have been incorporated also into the payoff deal.

For its part, the government could have prevented moral hazard in the arrangement by enforcing foreclosure and assuming ownership where applicable, and expanded its public housing role by radically expanding its owned housing stock and becoming the landlord to the former owners, now transformed into renters.

Why that is not preferable to the current arrangement where we continue to bail out the banks and extend and pretend on housing I do not know. It would be bad, but it couldn't be worse.

Yes, it is a formidable logistical task, not without considerable cost in itself, but we'd have this behind us by now if there had only been resolve and decisive action had been taken.

It takes imagination, and our leaders don't have it, in either party.

Latest Real Case Shiller Home Price Index Shows Prices Top Of Range Pre-Bubble

If you take out the obvious housing bubble, the graph shows how prices for housing today are at the upper range of historical experience when adjusted for inflation. These are prices in December 2012 dollars going back to 1890, over 120 years. It doesn't get more current than that. Housing assets are still expensive on this showing, about 12% too expensive, imho. Price discovery is being impeded by Federal Reserve zero interest rate policy. See the graph here.

Money Available For Spending Is Up Over 70% Since 2008, But Total Debt Is Up 7%

M1 money supply has gone up about $1 trillion between mid-2008 and now, almost 5 years. This is basically spending money which is not being spent.

Total credit market debt fell an equivalent amount, but all of it in 2009, so one cannot say the one "offset" the other. (The extra M1 was saved over the nearly five year period. The debt was discharged somehow, through pay-downs or defaults, and relatively quickly during the year of the biggest GDP decline in post-war memory). And since early 2010, total debt is back up over $2.5 trillion. And since 2008 TCMDO is up over $3.6 trillion overall.

Somebody is ramping up debt just like before the crisis, but it's not the consumer.

The Anti-Rush Morning Update

Don't blame the Republican base, or the American people, or the 47 percent for that matter . . . lead them!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Zillow Recognizes 2012 Housing Value Increase Is Double The Norm

The final three months of 2012 marked five consecutive quarters of U.S. home value appreciation, and the near 6% annual jump is roughly double the historical average that has home values climbing about 3% a year, Zillow said.

“Good news for homeowners after years of poor performance,” Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist, said in a statement. But Humphries cautioned consumers against expecting 2012-like gains in the future, saying we expect this recovery to continue into 2013, but at a more sustainable pace.”

The rest is here.

Without a driver for jobs, I see no reason for housing to appreciate at even 3% per year. In fact, prices today are within that percentage of the historical top of their range prior to the bubble. In other words, prices are still too high, historically, but Zillow isn't going to tell you that, at least not that way.

Buyer beware, imho.

America's Holocaust

Rush Limbaugh Continues To Blame The Republican Base

Since the end of the first half of the second hour of the broadcast today, Rush Limbaugh again repeatedly blamed the Republican base for Romney's loss, instead of blaming the Republican Party for nominating the wrong candidate, and Romney for being the wrong candidate.

So not only did Romney blame the 47 percent who wouldn't vote for him, Rush Limbaugh continues to blame Republican conservatives for not voting for Romney. If you want to know what's wrong with the Republican Party, that's it. 

Romney was the wrong candidate, because he wasn't a conservative, and had no fire in the belly for anything, including holding Obama's feet to the fire. 

So what do Rush and Republican liberals like Colin Powell have in common? Criticism of conservatives. And Rush starts the show bemoaning the growing isolation of conservatives, and then proceeds to contribute to that isolation.

Gee whiz. Rush had a nice long weekend to rest up, and this is the best he can do? I swear he got more than a cortisone shot from that doctor he just met.

The time has long since passed that Rush should have retired.

205 Million To Be Unemployed Worldwide By 2014

So says the ILO, the International Labour Organization, noting that 205 million unemployed worldwide will break the 2009 record of 198 million. Unfortunately on the way to that, we'll exceed the record already in 2013 with 202 million unemployed worldwide.

Call it trickle down unemployment:

"Unemployment remains as dire as it was during the crisis in 2009," Ekkehard Ernst, chief of the employment trends unit at the ILO, which wrote the report, told CNBC.

While the crisis may have originated in the developed world, the report noted that 75 percent of 2012's newly unemployed came from outside it, with East Asia, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa being the worst affected.

Ernst attributed this to the "spillover effect" of weak growth in advanced economies, and in particular, the recession in Europe.

Read the rest here at

A Busted Inaugural JumboTron For A Busted ObamaNation

Video here. People simply gave up and left.

The rest of us have been  experiencing broken down conditions like we're suddenly living in a third world country, so why not at the inauguration, too?

I guess The Washington Post has decided it's safe to do journalism again.

Monday, January 21, 2013

5 Years Of Uncommon Snows Give London Mayor Boris Johnson An Open Mind

Lord I wish Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, England, were my mayor, my governor, hell, my president for crying out loud.

This guy, trained in the study of classical antiquity, utters more civilization and common sense in one brief column than I've heard in four years from Barack Obama on any subject, let alone from nearly anyone else in this increasingly barbarous republic of ours, if it can still be called a republic. And that's saying a lot because President Obama has been talking non-stop now for four years and hasn't said one damn thing yet, even when the teleprompter is working properly. Where else can you learn about the Maunder minimum, Martinis, the Dalton minimum, William Shakespeare and solar science all wrapped up in a delightful bow about winter snow? I know not where.

Notably, the mayor ends his column with the humility characteristic of a man who one day will doubtless be the leader of many more in England than just the happy inhabitants of London, or at least it can be hoped:

I am speaking only as a layman who observes that there is plenty of snow in our winters these days, and who wonders whether it might be time for government to start taking seriously the possibility — however remote — that [astrophysicist Piers] Corbyn is right. If he is, that will have big implications for agriculture, tourism, transport, aviation policy and the economy as a whole. Of course it still seems a bit nuts to talk of the encroachment of a mini ice age.

But it doesn’t seem as nuts as it did five years ago. I look at the snowy waste outside, and I have an open mind.

And on this quotation, "Sometime too bright the eye of heaven shines", which he makes from Shakespeare's sonnett, in the bleak mid-winter I can live for days as I remind myself that not everything dies forever, least of all the good, the true, and the beautiful:

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest;
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Moochelle Shovels It In At Inaugural Lunch Like She Hasn't Eaten In Days

Mabel, Mabel, strong and able, get your elbows off the table. This is not a horse's stable, but a first class dining table.

And shouldn't the First Lady finish chewing and swallowing before shoveling in the next fork full?

Meanwhile everybody else is talking about the eye-rolling, while the president seems genuinely affable toward his nemesis.

Video here.

Obama Promises To Faithfully Execute The Constitution . . .

. . . it'll be a drive-by shooting.

Bush And Obama Piss Down The Backs Of Older Workers And Tell Them It's Raining

In the post-war period, the unemployment level for workers 55 and over first reached the 400,000 mark in 1948, and rattled up and down around that for five decades, briefly doubling during the recessions after 1980 and 1990. The weakness was already apparent however by July 1974, when the level last got effectively to 400,000, at 402,000. The superlative growth of GDP under Truman, Eisenhower and JFK/Johnson had propelled the country strongly forward but ran out of gas, quite literally, the summer after I graduated from high school. It was the immediate aftermath of the Arab oil embargo, and also the summer when Richard Nixon's presidency went tits up. The Vietnam denouement occurred the following year, Jimmy Carter got elected a year after that, and within four years interest rates and inflation rose to crippling levels. America had lost her way. The reforms during the Reagan/Bush years would take until the presidency of Bill Clinton in the 1990s to make GDP look once again like it did during the immediate post-war years. Things got so good by the late 1990s that people routinely quit their jobs, looking for greener pastures elsewhere. Finding and keeping qualified workers became very difficult for employers. But it was not to last.

It was in May 2001 that the unemployment level for America's oldest workers last saw that old normal territory, at 493,000, and it hasn't looked back since.

Since that date there has been a sustained problem of unemployment for older workers, for whom the new normal level quickly became 800,000 during the Bush administration. Now it has ramped up much higher than that under Obama, the new normal since 2008 rising five times the old normal to 2 million. The unemployment level for workers 55 and over has gone from 493,000 in 2001 to a peak of 2.233 million in 2010, an increase of nearly five fold. Today the level remains stuck just under 2 million.

Under George Bush the unemployment level for older workers never really came down, and under Obama it has hardly moved after ramping up so high. It is hard to believe that it isn't by design, since older workers tend to be the highest earners. You can save a lot of money as an employer by firing them. 2 million workers no longer making $50,000 a year comes to a savings of $100 billion annually.

Older workers no longer working aren't depreciating assets. They're expenses, written-off.

Who will be next?

Depression Of 2008-09 Doubles Move From Employees To Independent Contractors

I know the truth of this story first hand.

Obama's laser-like focus vaporizes jobs.
The income in this household shifted to income from contract work almost immediately after Barack Obama's election in 2008, just six weeks after which a long career as an employee involuntarily came to an end. For two years every nickel of such income was reported as 99ers, which reduced and/or eliminated any income received from extended unemployment insurance benefits, as is only right. When that ran out in 2010, it was strictly catch as catch can from then on. From month to month you don't know if the phone will ring with a job, or an email will arrive asking for a bid. The new reality is living on 50% of what we used to, and paying for our own benefits, and double to Social Security.

That was over four years ago, and with ObamaCare set to be implemented one year from now, the war on American jobs will only get worse as employers keep full-time employees under 50 in number if they can, make as many employees part-time as they can, and hire independent contractors as they can, all to avoid having to provide health insurance under ObamaCare.

This is what the government mandate means: compulsion, tyranny and poverty. In order to provide coverage for a few, it first has to be destroyed for the many.

The story in The Wall Street Journal, here, deserves your full attention:

Typically, independent contractors are less expensive for employers, who don't have to pay taxes on wages or supply benefits, as they would for their employees. Reliance on independent contractors has increased over the years, particularly in the recession, when employers sought less expensive labor.

In December 2012, 6.7% of payroll checks written by small employers went to 1099 workers, or those not considered employees of a company, according to SurePayroll, a Chicago-based payroll firm that caters to 40,000 small employers with an average of seven employees. That's roughly double the 3.5% of payroll checks that went to 1099 workers in December 2007.

The trend is expected to accelerate this year given the framework of the looming health-care law, employment analysts predict.

Ingenious Fascists At HHS Change Name Of Healthcare "Exchanges" To "Marketplaces"

The national socialists presiding over the failure of the healthcare "exchanges" under ObamaCare have decided, in the wake of the refusal of Republican governors to implement them, to change their name.

That's the story from, here:

The Health and Human Services Department suddenly stopped referring to insurance “exchanges” this week, even as it heralded ongoing efforts to prod states into setting up their own. Instead, press materials and a website for the public referred to insurance “marketplaces” in each state. The change comes amid a determined push by conservative activists to block state-based exchanges in hopes of crippling the federal implementation effort. Dean Clancy, the director of healthcare policy at FreedomWorks, said HHS’s decision to ditch the “exchanges” label shows that opponents of the healthcare law are succeeding. ... Changing the name to “marketplaces” won’t make any difference, Clancy said. “They could call them motherhood or apple pie, but it wouldn’t change our feelings about them,” Clancy said. “We're encouraged that they're showing signs of desperation. I think that it’s too late in the game to try to start calling this something different. And [we’re] not going to spend a lot of effort fighting over a word.”

Oh, but it will make a difference, mon ami. Blaming the free market is what these people are all about. Americans aren't going to be flocking to the exchanges to buy insurance because it will simply be cheaper to pay the penalty knowing that it's cheaper to do so, with the certain knowledge that guaranteed issue when they need it means they can put off getting insurance until it's absolutely necessary. The result is that more people, not fewer, will be without health insurance under ObamaCare. And that failure will be blamed on the free market's "marketplaces" when the time comes for the statists to argue openly for single payer, which has been the goal all along.

George Orwell would be impressed.

Pittsburgh Tribune Review Agrees Obama Is Essentially A Fascist

According to an editorial in Saturday's Pittsburgh Tribune Review, here, agreeing with John Mackey the CEO of Whole Foods, Obama is essentially a fascist. The editorial approvingly quotes this definition of fascism by libertarian Sheldon Richman:

“As an economic system, fascism is socialism with a capitalist veneer. For those with the hubris to think they, not free markets, could better serve society, ‘fascism‘ (or as we prefer, 'fascistic economics') was seen as the happy medium between boom-and-bust-prone (classic) liberal capitalism, with its alleged class conflict, wasteful competition and profit-oriented egoism, and revolutionary Marxism.”

Just when you thought there's been no progress defining for the public who and what is Obama, a businessman and a newspaper provide some:

"The general parallels to Obamanomics are glaring. Throw in the specifics of ObamaCare — then consider forays into national industrial policy and state protection of organized labor cartels — and the parallels are blinding", the editorial says.

Not that America's odd mixture of socialism and capitalism is something new.

It was Herbert Hoover, as far as I know, who was the first liberal to identify the American phenomenon of a mixed economics. Hoover located it in the blended strongman presidency of FDR, which was based more on Roosevelt's admiration for Stalin, Mussolini and Hitler as leaders than it was on substantive convictions about the dismal science. The alphabet soup of government which we take for granted today is the direct descendant of Roosevelt's impulse to try something, try anything, until it worked. Well, they're still trying.

Under Roosevelt, perfectly good food was deliberately destroyed by government to keep it from reaching the market in order to support prices in a deflationary economy even as people went hungry all across the country. Today we deliberately devote half the corn crop to produce an expensive, politically correct fuel boosting the cost of food animals while the number of people on food stamps is at an all time high and consumer demand has fallen like a rock. In the immortal words of Curly, if at first you don't succeed, keep on sucking until you do succeed.

But Hoover the loser was on to something, even if calling the man who beat him an un-American dictator lover was beyond the pale for some people. History eventually proved Hoover right when FDR broke with American tradition dating from the founding by running for a third term, and then a fourth. It took until 1951 for the American people to wake up and put a stop to that, with the ratification of the 22nd Amendment. Some dictators are assassinated, others just end up in the circular file. In many ways, Roosevelt simply out-Hoovered Hoover's own liberalism. People forget that FDR ran on what amounted to a repudiation of Republican liberal economic interventionism in the economy, and promptly ramped it up beyond anyone's imagination after he was elected.

But the blended system in America surely began much earlier. We could dial it back probably all the way to Lincoln himself, which would be fitting if only because the current occupant of The White House who practices fascism goes to such great pains to style himself after him, the president who chose to make the principle of national union over sovereign States the new definition of America. That fact of working a revolution, of remaking the country, should trouble everyone who has an ounce of independence left flowing through his veins, which is what troubles so many people who hear Obama speak of transforming the country. For half of us, one such revolution was enough.

This year we might do well to reflect on a later example, however, seeing that it is the anniversary of the abolition of private banking 100 years ago. It's strangely coincidental. The Federal Reserve Act was signed into law in 1913 by a fanatical progressive Presbyterian named Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat who hated the encumbrances placed upon government by the constitutional order and wanted to forge a new world where nations disarmed, lived in peace and cooperated toward a common goal, with the US not at its then natural place, at the head. The Federal Reserve Act was passed in thoroughly partisan fashion by Democrats who had swept to power in the election of 1912 and rammed it through the Congress without Republican support. Their dollar then is now worth 4 cents.

If Woodrow Wilson doesn't yet remind you of Obama and ObamaCare, maybe its because after 100 years of the pernicious effects of American style fascism, you're just too poor to pay attention.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Next Thing You Know It'll Be An AR-47

The caption writer for the UK Daily Mail gets all confused and calls the AR-15 an "AK-15"in a story about yesterday's pro-gun rallies. Just a typo, I'm sure, since the previous picture got it right, but still, the next thing you know the Kalash will become the AR-47!

Gotta love the instincts of the guy with the sign. Just sending a little political message to the (national) socialists in Washington, DC. Couldn't have said it better myself.

5 Million American Homes Repossessed In The Last 7 Years has a sobering post at the end of November 2012 here looking at the big picture for American homeowners in the wake of the bursting of the housing bubble.

Out of 10 million foreclosure filings since the beginning of 2006, about half have ended up in flat-out repossession by the banks. With 50 million mortgages out there, that means roughly 9% of mortgaged homes have ended belly up over the period.

With 5.3 million mortgages currently 30 days or more in arrears, a similar repo rate would mean we could expect another 2.5 million mortgages to go to the dogs.

It's still my opinion that housing in the United States is about 12% too expensive overall at the very minimum, and that federal interventions on a massive scale are prohibiting price discovery for this and other asset classes.

Probably more than anything else, however, those interventions are not designed to obscure these matters intentionally, nor to help individual Americans with their financial problems even as they protest to the contrary. Instead the interventions are primarily designed to rescue the biggest banks which have all these non-performing loans turning their books into Swiss cheese, not to mention helping their pals in Congress who need the cheapest dollars they can get to finance all the overspending which keeps them in power. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sen. Rob Portman Made An Excellent Point On Today's Larry Kudlow Radio Program

Sen. Rob Portman, Republican from Ohio, made an excellent point on today's Larry Kudlow Radio Program on Sen. Portman led off by gently correcting Larry Kudlow for criticizing attempts to use the debt ceiling as leverage to obtain spending cuts.

Sen. Portman pointed out, about 33 minutes into the podcast, that the technique has been used successfully since the days of Warren Rudman, and that we wouldn't have the spending sequester agreed to, admittedly very reluctantly by both political parties, in August 2011 without it, an agreement which, however inelegantly, lops $100 billion off spending annually, if only future Congresses stick to it. Unfortunately for us, the last Congress which agreed to the sequester in the first place already postponed its original implementation date by two months in the fiscal cliff deal over the New Year Holiday. That is a bad sign, preceded by a good sign.

It is heartening to see a Republican Senator wholeheartedly affirming the idea that the politics of the debt ceiling is helpful to the interests of the American people. But I would caution that Sen. Portman's feet need to be kept to the fire. His performance today on Kudlow's program looks to me like fence mending with the US House, an apology of sorts to the House after upstaging it in 2011 with his dalliance with the Gang of Twelve.

Whatever else may be said, his instincts expressed today are right. Spending must be reduced, and the debt ceiling is a weapon which the US House must use to get that, no matter how messy.

It's Gun Appreciation Day. I Appreciate This One!

In production since 1954!

It's The First National Gun Appreciation Day!

I heard my neighbor celebrating . . . he fired off a couple dozen rounds with various weapons, scaring the cats, not that it takes much!

We sleep like babies knowing all our neighbors have guns, lots of guns, big guns! Boom!

State Gasoline Taxes Today Represent Almost 10% Of The Cost

Gasoline taxes in January 2013 are averaging $.488 per gallon nationally. That's up slightly, about 1.5%, from January 2011 when taxes averaged $.481 per gallon nationally.

The average gallon in the last five observations of spot prices of refined product ready for shipment has an actual cost $2.614. This yields an average expected price nationally of $3.102, whereas today's current national average is $3.267, meaning the local gas station's profit per gallon cannot be any more than about $.165 per gallon because he pays out of that a mark-up to the supplier for his profit and delivery costs.

Whatever else may be said about how much profit is buried in the spot price accruing to the oil companies and the refiners, the distributors and retailers are fighting for profits from just 5% of the cost of a gallon, whereas government from top to bottom takes a 15% cut, for doing absolutely nothing.

And the roads in this country still suck.

The federal cut alone is 5.6% of the cost of gasoline today, $.184 per gallon everywhere, but the states' cut is a whopping 9.3% on average. Compare that to the current average of state sales tax rates nationwide, which is just 5.04%. On average everyone who fills up at the gas station is paying 85% more in taxes to state government for that product than would be paid on toilet paper.

That doesn't make any sense!

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Invasion Of The Body Scanners: Nude X-Ray Scanners To Be Out By June

TSA is getting rid of the invasive nude x-ray technology by June to comply with a Congressional directive.

But you're still being searched, and whether you get felt up or not is beside the point, because the generic image scanners will stay.

The Fourth Amendment means nothing in an airport, and I predict this "compromise" will speed the way for the invasion of the body scanners into every sphere of public transportation, including busses, subways, commuter trains and even tollways and interstates.

Story here.

Tendentious Headline Alert

Campus conservatives are dying? Really? The New Republic says that?! Truly shocking. But while the book, apparently, and the review don't flatter a certain type of conservative, neither the review nor the book, evidently, says that they are "dying", illustrating that headline writers often excel at expressing a prejudice. A promising future no doubt awaits at The New York Times. 

Three Dubious Firsts For Obama In Quick Succession In 2011

The dollar hit its all time low under Obama, on 5/2/11 at 67.97, but this has not been much discussed even though it is surely related to the following other firsts.

On 8/5/11 Standard and Poor's downgraded the US for the first time ever, from AAA to AA+, primarily because it was looking for $4 trillion in spending cuts over ten years and only got $1 trillion in the sequestration deal.

And then on 9/2/11 it was reported that for the month of August 2011 net zero jobs had been created, the first time since World War II that a month went by without job creation.

These are remarkable and dubious firsts, three of them in a row in the span of four months.

It is clear how much two of these still rankle Obama, who views them in purely political terms instead of as injuries to all of us. In a press conference on the debt ceiling almost a year and a half later, held this last Monday, Obama brought up both the AAA rating loss and the net zero jobs milestone, seeking to blame them both on Republicans:

"And they'd better choose quickly because time is running short. The last time Republicans in Congress even flirted with this idea [of not raising the debt ceiling], our triple-A credit rating was downgraded for the first time in our history, our businesses created the fewest jobs of any month in nearly the past three years, and ironically, the whole fiasco actually added to the deficit."

The revisionist history on the jobs number is noteworthy. Who would even remember the fact now unless he brought it up?

The fact of the matter is, however, that the weak dollar, which is not even on Obama's radar screen, is the root of the problem for both our out of control debt and deficits and the dearth of jobs.

And Jeffrey Snider, coincidentally, says just as much today, here, concluding this way:

"The politics of the debt ceiling really should be concerned with monetarism rather than focused solely on spending or deficits. But that is a hard position for either party to take. Democrats won't because their interests are aligned with monetarism, while Republicans have at many times embraced monetarism with equal passion. Neither seems to want to move outside conventional economics that salutes as policy success a 64% increase in total debt without any perturbation in interest costs.

"We have not just a fiscal problem, but a persistent and massive monetary imbalance through dollar debasement that is directly related to both the debt disaster and the weak economy. Without directly facing it and working toward currency stability, we will be stuck with both the continued debt trajectory and no real growth. Neither can be adequately solved without first solving the dollar by ending capital repression."