Monday, September 30, 2013

Total Public Debt Outstanding Kept At $16.738 Trillion By Treasury Dept. For Four Months!

I can't show you all of the data because the format is too long for me to capture it all in a single screen shot.

All of June, all of July, all of August, and now all of September at $16.738 trillion, despite the fact that federal revenues are estimated to be running at $226 billion per month in fiscal 2013.

See for yourself here.

Angela Merkel Is More Attractive Than You Think

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Maybe A Guy Who Can't Count Shouldn't Be Messing With Your Health Insurance

You're once, twice, three times a . . . red diaper doper baby.

Most Of The Free-Rider Problem Is An EMTALA Problem, Not A General Healthcare Problem

Maybe a guy who can't count shouldn't mess with your health insurance.

One good estimate of the cost of uncompensated hospital and doctor care in 2008 was just $43 billion, or 5.7% of a hospital care economy of $750 billion that year. But total spending on health care is much higher than that. For example, for 2011 the total size of the healthcare economy has been estimated at $2.7 trillion.

Consistent with that, Megan McArdle recently cites an Urban Institute estimate here for the following year, 2009, showing costs of all uncompensated care, not just for hospitals and doctors, at $62 billion, saying "this is a relatively small amount of overall health spending ... in the trillions."

She's right. $62 billion is just 2.3% of a $2.7 trillion healthcare economy.

The spread between those two numbers for 2008 and 2009 is $19 billion. Assuming a 4% increase in the costs of the hospital/doctor portion only from 2008 to 2009, the spread declines to $17 billion. That's the non-hospital side of the free-rider problem in 2009, less than 1% of all healthcare spending in 2011. Passing ObamaCare to fix that is like firing a bazooka to kill a gnat.

Clearly the bulk of the free-rider problem has been in the hospitals, which will continue to experience problems with uncompensated care despite Obama's Affordable Care Act.

That problem exists because of Ronald Reagan's 1986 signature on EMTALA, requiring hospitals to provide care regardless of citizenship, legal status or ability to pay. It drove up visits to emergency rooms over 26% in the first 15 years, and uncompensated cost totals over 600% since 1983, when they were just $6 billion compared with over $45 billion today. Those costs have been paid by all of us over time in a variety of ways, not the least of which have been increased healthcare insurance premiums, higher taxes, and longer waits in fewer available ERs.

While we're at it trying to overturn ObamaCare, EMTALA should be scrapped with it.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Tapering Delay Makes People Think It's Safe To Go Back In The Bond Water

Just because someone got killed at the beach last week by a great white shark is no reason not to go swimming here, right?

Bond mutual funds are witnessing net asset value increases in the wake of the Fed's decision announced on Wednesday, September 18th to delay tapering.

For example, VBISX a week ago closed at 10.51. Yesterday it closed at 10.53. VBIIX a week ago was 11.24. Yesterday it closed at 11.31. VBLTX a week ago closed at 12.51. Yesterday it closed at 12.64.

In other words, every part of the bond spectrum is up from 0.2% to 1.0% in just one week, even though none of the net asset value prices had yet fallen below their respective high end of normal prices.

Fools dare where angels fear to tread.

10-Year Treasury Rate Ends The Week At 2.64%

The 10-year US Treasury Rate ended the week at 2.64%, 43% below the mean level going back to 1871.

Despite the best efforts of the US Federal Reserve to suppress interest rates on behalf of other "investments" like housing and stocks, the current rate of the 10-year Treasury still bests the dividend yield of the S&P500 by 34%, which ended the week at 1.97%. From another perspective, it's even worse than that.

John Hussman noted this week here that based on the ratio of equity market value to national output, you might expect less than zero from the S&P500 going ten years out: 

Likewise, Buffett observed in 2001 that the ratio of equity market value to national output is “probably the best single measure of where valuations stand at any given moment.” On that front, the chart below [follow the link above] shows the value of nonfinancial corporate equities to GDP (imputed from March to the present based on changes in the S&P 500). On this measure, the likely prospective 10-year nominal total return of the S&P 500 lines up at somewhere less than zero. Suffice it to say that our estimates using both earnings and non-earnings based measures suggest a likely total return for the S&P 500 over the coming decade of less than 2.9% annually, essentially driven by dividend income, and implying an S&P 500 that is roughly unchanged a decade from now – though undoubtedly comprising a volatile set of market cycles on that course to nowhere.

In other words, it's possible stocks could return absolutely nothing over the next decade, or just barely beat bonds by less than 10% based on the current 10-year Treasury rate. For sleeping soundly at night, the choice is easy.

The 10-year Treasury rate has backed off about 10% since Ben Bernanke reversed himself on tapering bond purchases this month, seeing how it was knocking on the door of three.

Normalization of the 10-year yield would cost the US government dearly, jacking up interest expense costs over time which are paid from current tax revenues, by nearly double. In the last four years under Obama, interest payments on the debt have averaged $403 billion annually. Increasing those payments 43% would add another $173 billion to budgetary requirements, again, not all at once but over time.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Seymour Hersh, For The Ages: "Our Job Is To Find Out Ourselves"

Here, in the UK Guardian:

"Our job is to find out ourselves, our job is not just to say – here's a debate' our job is to go beyond the debate and find out who's right and who's wrong about issues. That doesn't happen enough. It costs money, it costs time, it jeopardises, it raises risks. There are some people – the New York Times still has investigative journalists but they do much more of carrying water for the president than I ever thought they would … it's like you don't dare be an outsider any more."

Talmudic Asset Allocation Strategy

A third in land, a third in business, a third in reserve. (h/t Mebane Faber)

"And Rebbe Yitzchak said, A person should always divide his money into three: one third in land, one third in commerce, and one third at hand."

-- Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 42a (quoted here)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Defeated Bush 41, Still Compromising With The Victors: Signs As Witness To Lesbian Marriage

Seen here.

The guy's never had a conservative bone in his body.

The Face The Dog Makes When Caught In A Sex Scandal . . .

and the face the cat makes:

h/t Chris

Total Credit Market Debt Has Grown Less Than 9% In The Last Three Years

The debt deflationary depression continues.

Total credit market debt owed (TCMDO), now unhelpfully renamed by the Federal Reserve "All Sectors; Credit Market Instruments; Liability" and perfectly Orwellian in doing away with both information-rich terms "debt" and "owed", has grown 8.76% from the recent April 2010 low to April 2013, about $4.64 trillion.

To put that in context, there have been episodes going back to 1949 when this measure has exploded 50% in three years' time so that doubling times for TCMDO have been as short as 6 years. The longest periods between doubling have been around 11 years long, and since 1949 have averaged about 8 years. The last time the metric doubled was in July 2007, at just under $50 trillion. At almost six years out from that date, we could well have been close to witnessing the number double again to $100 trillion by now based on past experience, or certainly something like half the way there, say to $70-$75 trillion. But here we are instead, at less than $57.6 trillion. It's like we hit a brick wall, the brick wall of a repossessed house most likely.

Say what you will against such a debt-based economy, its fundamental immorality, unsustainability and limits, but that's the economy we have, where the real money in the post-war has been in growth in borrowing, not in the money supply. From this perspective we have entered a long debt-deflationary depression, to get out of which borrowing will have to pick up to at least the point where TCMDO doubles at the extreme of the post-war experience, say by 2018, 11 years on from 2007.

Unfortunately for us, if the last three years are indicative of the new normal pattern of very slow debt expansion, it will take until about the year 2042 for TCMDO to double again to $100 trillion, another 29 years, an unprecedented slowdown in the American way of life.

This is what Chris Whalen meant when he warned in 2010 of decades of economic shrinkage ahead.

Q2 2013 GDP 2.5% Annualized In 3rd Estimate, Nearly 11% Lower Than In 2012

The full GDP report from the BEA is here.

Subdued growth in the last three quarterly reports, 0.1% for the last quarter of 2012, 1.1% in Q1 and now 2.5%, in part reflects on-going effects from Hurricane Sandy last November, little remarked in the press since then probably because of all the heat Obama got in 2011 for blaming exogenous events for poor GDP performance, but correctly forecast by Rosie in the instance.

Since about 25% of GDP is government spending at any given time, the real economy is piddling along at about 1.88%.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Face It, The Heritage Foundation Has Been And Remains Confused (By Liberalism)

As the photo at left demonstrates but conservatives want to ignore, including Erick Erickson here at Red State, a Heritage Foundation representative was present for the signing of RomneyCare in 2006 because Heritage invented the damn idea way back before HillaryCare raised its ugly head and Heritage was happy to see it made into law (so was Senator Ted Kennedy). That was just seven years ago, but now Heritage would just rather have you ignore all that.

Forcing people to sign up for health insurance at the point of a gun has its analog, of course, in forcing people in distant lands to adopt Western-style democracy, something we heard the heir of Republican conservatism, George Bush, incessantly preach: "The long-term solution is to promote a better ideology, which is freedom. Freedom is universal." (Whether they want it or not). To this day, as Molly Ball's article in The Atlantic points out here, "universal coverage" is still Heritage's position:

In my interviews with them, Heritage officials could recite chapter and verse on why Heritage turned against the individual mandate -- a turn, they claim, that occurred before Romney or Obama adopted the idea. “We still believe universal coverage is a good idea,” [Phillip] Truluck [VP and COO] said. But none of the four Heritage officials I interviewed could tell me offhand how the foundation proposes to reform health care and cover the uninsured if Obamacare is scrapped. (Later, an assistant followed up by emailing me links to Heritage papers on “putting patients first,” regulating the health-insurance market, and Medicare reform.)

The place is universally incoherent, and always has been. It has been against Drugs for Seniors as an expansion of big government, but supported the line-item veto, thus expanding the authority of the executive part of government, even as it once used to warn about the imperial presidency. Today it is famously against the current immigration amnesty plan but was pro-immigration for the longest time. It had a founder who has moved notably left liberal, but now it has a libertarian-friendly leader in Jim DeMint. It was for ObamaCare before it was against it. Something about the Heritage Foundation is really off for it to be the home of so many contradictory currents. If conservatism is the negation of ideology, as Russell Kirk taught us, Heritage knows nothing about it.

Maybe they should just rename the place The John F. Kerry Foundation and be done with it.

Time To Ram ObamaCare Up The Donkey's Ass . . . Again

Real Clear Markets Has JP Morgan Predicting Either 4% Up Or 31% Down By Year's End

So, it's either going to be a modest 4% rise in the S&P500 by the end of the year to 1775, or a 31% collapse to 1175. My dartboard could predict as much. If I were JP Morgan, I wouldn't be too happy.

Attention to detail . . . what separates the wheat from the chaff.

Healthcare Groundhog Day: Can You Say HMO-bamacare?

So says Scott Gottlieb, MD, for Real Clear Markets, here:

The new health plans offered in the Obamacare exchanges are going to be narrow network, no frills affairs. Obamacare's exchange based plans will be a throwback to the 1990s style of restrictive HMOs. They will give you fewer choices of doctors and hospitals than the kinds of health plans currently sold in the private, commercial marketplace. The doctor networks that Obamacare plans use will resemble Medicaid plans. But it doesn't end there. Pretty soon, these same bare bones health plans will also become standard fare in the commercial marketplace. You'll get them at work.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sole Proprietorships 2009-2011

2009 22.7 million
2010 23.0 million
2011 23.4 million

The number of sole proprietorships is up 3.1% over the period. Total revenues have gone from $1.2 trillion to $1.3 trillion over the period, an increase of 8.3%. That's about $55k per sole proprietor in 2011.

If Only It Were So . . .

33% Increase In Dutch Euthanasia Misreported As 13%

The figure for 2011 was 3,136, meaning the 2012 increase to 4,188 is 33%, not 13% as reported here by The UK Telegraph.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fire The Druncken Interns At Real Clear Markets!

Oops! JP Morgan Chief Strategist Predicts S&P500 To 1775, Real Clear Markets Says 1175!

Video here.

And you have to listen incredulously to nearly the whole thing with all its happy talk to confirm the headline's typo.

Update: Added the headline from the front page just so you understand my surprise.

Should Chief Justice John Roberts Have Recused Himself On ACA Because Of Epilepsy?

Should Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts have recused himself from the ObamaCare case because he has epilepsy? He had a seizure as early as 1993, and another in 2007.

You know, a guy with a pre-existing condition like that may have felt compelled to help other people with pre-existing conditions by upholding ObamaCare. His own condition may have interfered with his judgment on the merits of the Affordable Care Act.

Striking it down would have meant that that provision of the Act guaranteeing coverage to people with pre-existing conditions such as his would have gone down with it.

The Rise Of Patents From The 1980s Is Basically A New Protectionism, Reducing Innovation

So says Jeffrey Snider, here:

Contrary to popular belief, again assuming I am correct in interpreting it, patents are not about innovation at all. The rise in patent applications was not a proxy for a new wave of innovation, but an era of protectionism. A patent is a legal form of destroying competition. Ostensibly, that is assumed to be a cost to the system worth bearing because we largely believe that patents encourage innovation by giving the innovator some protection to reap the benefits of trying to innovate. But is that really the case? Would innovation suffer from competition at the earliest stages?

Markets develop because market demand exists, and I happen to believe that innovation would be better served with competition right from the start. But to the question at hand, the sharp rise in patent applications starting in the 1980's was likely far more related to reducing competition than signaling the continued advancement of technology revolution.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

"In blow to immigration reform, House ‘gang of seven’ bill looks dead"

Story here.

Bond Mutual Fund Prices Remain Expensive, Returns Negative: Cash Has Been King

Bond mutual fund prices remain expensive by historical standards despite the recent carnage, while returns have been negative. For a safe haven, cash has been the place to be over the last year, such as it is.

For example, the short duration bond index fund from Vanguard, VBISX, finished the week at 10.51, 1.05% above the high end of normal (10.40). Vanguard reports returns down -0.27% for this fund in the last year.

The intermediate duration total bond index fund from Vanguard, VBMFX, a mixture of short, intermediate and long bonds, finished the week at 10.61, 1.04% above the high end of normal (10.50). Vanguard reports returns down -2.77% for this fund in the last year.

The pure intermediate duration bond index fund from Vanguard, VBIIX, finished the week at 11.24, 2.18% above the high end of normal (11.00). Vanguard reports returns down -3.66% for this fund in the last year.

Meanwhile the long duration bond index fund from Vanguard, VBLTX, finished the week at 12.51, 4.25% above the high end of normal (12.00). Vanguard reports returns down -10.01% for this fund in the last year.

Add in the insult of all items inflation of 1.5% to these miserable returns over the last year and cash was the place to be for safety even though it is also down because of inflation (gold, by the way, has fallen, per the London Fix, from 1758.50 on September 20th, 2012 to 1349.25 on September 20th, 2013, a decline of 23.3%).

Clearly such bond funds have farther to fall before they become attractive safe havens once again.

Friday, September 20, 2013

WaPo Finally Demotes The Leader Of The Banana Republic To Lecturer

When you lose The Washington Post, you've really lost it.

The comment at the left was seen here in the comments section to an article in The Washington Post which, among other things, omits Obama's use of the term "Banana Republic" in his address in Kansas today, but does finally demote him to the mere lecturer that he was at the University of Chicago:

Obama at times sought to belittle GOP lawmakers. “The most basic constitutional duty Congress has is to pass a budget,” said the president, a former constitutional law lecturer. “That’s Congress 101.”


The demotion from "professor" is interesting in the light of the omission of "Banana Republic" since America pretty much qualifies as one by the definition in Wikipedia if you remember that the bank and automobile maker bailouts enriched private enterprise by socializing the losses on the backs of the taxpayers:

In economics, a banana republic is a country operated as a commercial enterprise for private profit, effected by a collusion between the State and favoured monopolies, in which the profit derived from the private exploitation of public lands is private property, while the debts incurred thereby are a public responsibility. Such an imbalanced economy remains limited by the uneven economic development of town and country, and tends to cause the national currency to become devalued paper-money, rendering the country ineligible for international development-credit. Such government by thieves is a kleptocracy; such a kleptocratic government is manipulated by foreign (corporate) interests, and functions mostly as ceremonial government that is unaccountable to its nation. The national legislature is, in effect, for sale, influential government employees illegitimately exploit their posts for personal gain (by embezzlement, fraud, bribery, etc.), and the resulting government budget deficit is repaid by the country's working people who earn wages rather than making profits.

Better, apparently, to deflate his credentials than face his fascism.

Economic Stress: Middle Class Can't Eat Out On Friday Night . . .

. . . neither at Red Lobster nor at Olive Garden:

"Outside Darden's niche in casual dining, limited-service eateries that don't require tipping are gaining ground."

Read more, here.


Tonight's menu at your blogger's home? Baked Steelhead lemon pepper trout filet, Jasmine rice, and steamed broccoli with butter. Serves three tonight for $10.

Nancy Pelosi Doin' The Mussolini

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The World Has Learned Nothing Since The Crisis: Global Public Debt Is Up 63% 2008-2013

2008 global public debt $32 trillion
Global public debt, the amount owed by the world's governments, has risen by almost $20 trillion in the five years since the panic of 2008, an increase of nearly 63%.

Note the main offenders, none of whom has been practicing austerity in any sense of the term: America, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, The UK, Europe, India, China, Japan and Australia. Spendthrifts all.

See the data and charts, here.

2013 global public debt $52 trillion
None of this is ever going to be paid back. Chaos awaits.

Jobless Claims Plunge Again To A New Record Low Under Obama: 8 Weeks Under 300,000

Not-seasonally-adjusted first time claims for unemployment now average another new all-time low in the last four weeks under Obama, also marking the eighth week in a row below 300,000.

Over the last four weeks, jobless claims have averaged just 262,000 weekly, handily beating last week's old record 4-week average low of 273,000.

Over the last eight weeks, jobless claims have now averaged an astonishing 273,000 weekly.

Annualized these average levels would fall into the range of 13.6 million to 14.2 million per year. The best actual performance under Bush was 16.2 million per year, also not-seasonally-adjusted. So these are excellent numbers indeed, if they can keep them up. The difference, however, is that under Bush the low levels of claims occurred simultaneously with high levels of employment.

By the way, the advance estimate of 228,399 in last week's report for September 7th merely bumps up this week to a revised 229,485. Supposedly reporting problems were blamed for the low level. It appears any missing numbers from last week appear in this week's advance estimate, which is up +42,262 week over week, which means this week's advance estimate is significantly higher than it really is.

Read this week's report here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

If It's A Number And It's On Rush Limbaugh, You Can't Trust It

Here is today's Rush Limbaugh basic K-8 math error, which keeps him and his audience from appreciating the fact that high gasoline prices have been pummeling the American people for one year longer than he says they have:

"The number of people losing their jobs is up. The number of jobs lost, all of this, is up. The one thing that none of these stories cover is another thing that's going on, and that is the price of gasoline has been over $3 a gallon for 20 months now.  Now, Obamacare is gonna raise everybody's health care costs.  Premiums are gonna skyrocket. The cost of food is way up.  Gasoline is over $3."


Actually the number of people losing their jobs is DOWN and down big in the last 2 months to a rate low enough to compete with George W. Bush, if it can be sustained. Usually part-time is not up significantly, and usually full-time is almost back to where it was on Election Day 2008. The real story there is the failure of full-time to recover to the 2006-2007 level.

But gas has been above $3 for 1000 consecutive days, according to The Wall Street Journal, not 600 days:

------  = 33 months (not 20).

He read it, he flubbed it, boo hoo. And you people pay for that?

New Stock Market High Based On Nothing But ZI(R)P

The total stock market makes another new high today on mere words from the Federal Reserve.

So what does that have to do with fundamental analysis?


By Not Tapering, Fed Devalues Your $ In One Day By Almost What It Takes A Year To Do

The dollar fell 1.2% today because the Fed decided not to taper bond purchases, while year over year the dollar is down 1.5% to 1.8% because of inflation, as reported yesterday by the Bureau of Lies and Statistics, here:

The all items [Consumer Price] index increased 1.5 percent over the last 12 months. The [core] index [Personal Consumption Expenditures] for all items less food and energy has risen 1.8 percent over the last year; the 12-month change has remained in the range of 1.6 percent to 2.3 percent since June of 2011.


By all means the Fed should have tapered, and increased interest rates to boot.

The war on the citizenry continues.

End the Fed.

(As far as broken clocks go, Ron Paul is correct twice every 24 hours).

Best American Rifleman Cover Ever

Leave Them There

Rush Limbaugh Can't Even Divide 1000 by 30

33: That's how many consecutive months gasoline has been above $3/gallon, but Rush just said 20 months.


The Wall Street Journal, yesterday, here:

"A millstone has reached a milestone. On Tuesday, the national U.S. average gasoline price chalked up its 1,000th consecutive day above $3 a gallon, according to the AAA. That’s a landmark most Americans couldn’t have dreamed of a decade ago: Pump prices didn’t break above the $2 level sustainably until 2005."

American Businesses Have Saved $2.8 Trillion In Last Four Years Due To ZIRP

In the form of lower borrowing costs, according to this story from Bloomberg:

America’s companies, from Apple Inc. (AAPL) to Verizon Communications Inc., are saving about $700 billion in interest payments with the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented stimulus. ...

Savings of about $700 billion represents the difference between what companies that have sold bonds since Sept. 17, 2009, are paying annually based on an average maturity of nine years for securities in the Bank of America Merrill Lynch U.S. Corporate & High Yield Index, versus what they might have paid before the crisis.

After rising as high as 11.1 percent on Oct. 28, 2008, it wasn’t until Sept. 17, 2009 that yields fell below the pre-Lehman average of 6.14 percent, the Bank of America Merrill Lynch index shows.


Just another reason corporate profits after taxes have skyrocketed to another record seasonally-adjusted annual rate of $1.83 trillion for Q2 2013.

First Black President Brings Record High Poverty And Inequality As The New Normal

You talkin' to me?
Hm. Imagine that.

From the Associated Press story, here:

The nation's poverty rate remained stuck at 15 percent last year despite America's slowly reviving economy, a discouraging lack of improvement for the record 46.5 million poor and an unwelcome benchmark for President Barack Obama's recovery plans.

More than 1 in 7 Americans were living in poverty, not statistically different from the 46.2 million of 2011 and the sixth straight year the rate had failed to improve, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday. Median income for the nation's households was $51,017, also unchanged from the previous year after two consecutive annual declines, while the share of people without health insurance did improve but only a bit, from 15.7 percent to 15.4 percent.

"We're in the doldrums, with high poverty and inequality as the new normal for the foreseeable future," said Timothy Smeeding, an economics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who specializes in income inequality. "The fact we've seen no real recovery in employment and wages means we've just flatlined." ... 

"This lack of improvement in poverty is disappointing and discouraging," said John Iceland, a former Census Bureau chief of the poverty and health statistics branch who is now a Penn State sociology professor. "This lack of progress in poverty indicates that these small improvements in the economy are not yet being equally shared by all."

Ron Haskins, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who specializes in poverty, agreed.

"Everything's on hold, but at a bad level; poverty and income did not change much in 2012," he said. "So child poverty is still too high and family income is still too low. The recession may be over, but try to tell that to these struggling families. Don't expect things to change until the American economy begins to generate more jobs."


Way to go, Brownie!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Kook Fringe Republican Comes Out For Gun Control

David Frum, here.

Guns don't kill people, Canadians do.

Charlie Gasparino Gets It Right: America Lost Its AAA Because Of Debt, Not Debt Ceiling

Charles Gasparino for The New York Post, here:

In fact, economic growth is barely existent on [Obama's] watch; millions of Americans have stopped looking for work and the country lost its Triple-A bond rating because debt isn’t the settled matter Obama pretends it is.

5 Years Post-Lehman Bros. Bankruptcy, VTSMX Makes New All Time High

Vanguard's Total Stock Market Index Fund is up 163% since the March 2009 low of 16.43.

On the day Lehman Bros. failed in September 2008, VTSMX closed at 29.24 but proceeded to fall from there another 44% into 2009 despite the passage of TARP in early October 2008, and despite massive short-term discounted loans to just about the whole world by the US Federal Reserve Bank denominated in the trillions of dollars throughout the period.

From the 2007 high to September 15, 2008 this fund had already fallen from 37.80 or nearly 23%. The total decline of the fund from the 2007 high to the March 2009 low was nearly 57%.

A decline of that magnitude from today's new high would land the fund back at 18.81.

The Founders Didn't Believe In American Exceptionalism: They Sought To Be Equals In The World

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

Monday, September 16, 2013

Rush Limbaugh: The Big Boob On The Right

It's Monday and you know what that means. If Rush Limbaugh is talking about numbers on a Monday he's going to slaughter them.

I counted two major instances today of getting it totally backwards.

The first, on Janet Yellen, is totally missing from the transcripts. He had said she will completely reverse the Bernanke policy and tighten when everyone knows she'll do no such thing. Someone must have called him to correct him, and then he reversed what he had said previously, and corrected it (here) to avoid looking like the total boob that he is:

I was misinformed by a self-professed market expert.  Anyway, my bad.  I got 'em reversed.  That's why the market's doing well today. It is because the priming of the stock market pump is scheduled to continue unabated if this Yellen woman ends up being the chairman of the Fed.  Now, I'll give you the stats on all this quantitative easing. It's basically $85 billion a month.  What it is, is they're not really printing the money.

In other words, the man with the golden EIB microphone doesn't have the brains to discern the one position from the other, nor is any real knowledge about the subject he may possess anything but completely derivative. He relies on what other people whom he trusts tell him, and can't reason it out for himself, not even by checking the stock market before he goes on the air. And for that reason what he says is no good to his audience. He's just quoting an authority figure. But what is really shameful is that he simply blamed his error on someone else when the privilege of holding a microphone going straight into the ears of millions should be viewed by him as a great responsibility which rests on him, not on his sources. Instead he treats his public position, and his hearers, with contempt by blaming someone else.

The second major blunder was that Rush stated that the US created $18 trillion out of thin air during the financial crisis, when that figure is the estimate for global borrowing, and certainly is not money printing:

The overall amount of priming that the federal government and the Federal Reserve along with several other central banks all over the world have done, the amount of money that they put in to the global economy... What was it I heard? It's $18 trillion, and that's just the US number. That's what it is. It's $18 trillion all told for $1 trillion worth of growth.  So in order to get $1 trillion of economic expansion in the past five years, the Fed has spent $18 trillion.  It's been classic Keynesian economics. ...

The bottom line was, folks, that $18 trillion was created out of thin air -- $18 trillion.  I mean, this doesn't even get lopped on to the national debt because this is not money authorized by the federal budget by US Congress.  This is just the Federal Reserve just decided to print money wherever they wanted and send it wherever they wanted, all ostensibly to save the world economy.  All it did was bail out the best and the brightest from the mistakes that they had made. 

Then during a break another panicked phone call comes in from the trusted source and Rush again quickly corrects himself, putting the $18 trillion figure on the global effort, not on the US alone, and designating it as "borrowed" not "printed":

It's $18 trillion. The G7 nations borrowed $18 trillion since the financial crisis and have only $1 trillion in economic growth to show for it.  That's it.  That's what it's bought us. There was $18 trillion borrowed, and a lot of it's gonna be forgiven and not have to be paid back.  By the way, if you want to know what happens to that money, say hello to tax increases down the line.

I'm sure by this time the rubes are completely confused by their hero. There's no point in explaining any of this to Rush because he gets this stuff wrong no matter how many times it is explained to him, which just shows he has no desire to learn it or simply lacks the mental equipment.

In which case he ought to just shut up about it. Spreading falsehoods is bad for the country and bad for the cause. 

Debt To The Penny Has Been $16.738 Trillion For 74 Days Straight

View Debt to the Penny for yourself here, and count the days.

It's really remarkable, because the debt was in the $16.8 trillion range for many days in April, and backed down from there and stayed at the current level, a few hundred million dollars here and there notwithstanding.

Under Obama Identifying As "Lower Class" Reaches Highest Level Ever: 26 Million

400 homeless encampments in Marin County in 3 years
As reported here:

Roquemore is among the small but surging share of Americans who identify themselves as "lower class." Last year, a record 8.4% of Americans put themselves in that category — more than at any other time in the four decades that the question has been asked on the General Social Survey, a project of the independent research organization Norc at the University of Chicago.


The September 11th story excerpted at left details the ongoing problems of homelessness and poverty in Marin County, California, during the last three years and concludes that there are about 630,000 Americans living like this throughout the country as we speak.

Read it, here.

The Crony Capitalist Banks: The Biggest Winners Since The Crash

And we, of course, are the biggest losers.

Tom Petruno for The LA Times:

In the second quarter of this year U.S. banks earned a total of $42.2 billion — the biggest industry profit in history, and double the earnings of the same period in 2010. It's no accident that the banks have prospered mightily since the crash, said Neil Barofsky, who was the watchdog over the U.S. bank bailout program launched in September 2008. "We turned the entire resources of the nation toward one goal: setting up a situation where the banks could earn their way out of this," said Barofsky, now an attorney at Jenner & Block in New York. The plan was not, he lamented, "about holding institutions accountable" for the debacle. ...

[I]n the longer run, TARP was less significant for many banks than the aid of the Federal Reserve under Chairman Ben S. Bernanke. By hacking short-term interest rates to near zero and holding them there since the end of 2008, the Fed has slashed bankers' cost of money — particularly deposits — to well below what they earn on loans and investments. Hence, record profits. ...

The Fed's decision to keep short-term interest rates near rock bottom for nearly five years has devastated the income of tens of millions of Americans. In the mid-2000s, savers in banks were routinely earning 4% or more on one-year bank certificates of deposit, or $2,000 in annual interest on a $50,000 nest egg. The average rate now: 0.23%, according to The same $50,000 nest egg earns just $115 a year in interest at that rate. "And after inflation they're actually losing ground," said Andrew Lo, a finance professor at MIT in Cambridge, Mass.

Read the rest from Tom Petruno, here.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Larry Summers Officially Not A Candidate For Fed Chair, S&P500 Futures Soar 20

The Bernank will be replaced by a clone, according to the market players.

Another dark day for the free market, an ecstatic one for those first in line for money.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Food Stamp Recipients In June Edged Up Again To Near Record Level

The number of people receiving food assistance edged up again in June to 47,760,285, just shy of the record in December 2012 which was 47,792,056.

The reports may be viewed here.

Data is through September 6th.

15.18% of America's population of 314.69 million receives government food assistance, or 1 in 6.6 individuals, each receiving less than $133 per month or $1.47 per meal.

Friday, September 13, 2013

To Us Obama's A Dictator, To Liberals An "Executive-Power Extremist"

You won't find the traditional words "king", "tyrant", "usurper" or "dictator" in Conor Friedersdorf's Atlantic column, "Obama Acts Like He Doesn't Know He's An Executive-Power Extremist", here, because, before dictatorship disarms the population, it has to disarm the language first.

And it has:

The grammer is priceless. Who "put more and more war-making power in the hands of the president"? In Obama's telling, "a decade" put the executive power there. ... We know that Obama is an executive-power extremist in his actions. ...  [I]s he fooling himself, because he likes to think of himself as [a] more prudent and moderate man than he is? Can he not bear the truth that he's a Cheneyite extremist?

There it lies, limp as a dick. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

NSA Poses As Google To Spy


'Brazilian site Fantastico obtained and published a document leaked by Edward Snowden, which diagrams how a "man in the middle attack" involving Google was apparently carried out.'

Story here.

Completed Foreclosures In July Still 133% Of Pre-2006 Averages, Starts Down To 7.25% Above Normal

Corelogic reports here at the end of August that completed foreclosures in July 2013 ran at a level of 49,000. The pre-2006 average level was 21,000. Though still highly elevated, July 2013 is a big improvement over July 2012 when completed foreclosures were at 65,000. That means conditions have improved by almost 25% in the last year.

Corelogic puts completed foreclosures since September 2008 at 4.5 million, with 949,000 homes presently in some state of foreclosure.

Separately CNBC and AP Obama here are happy to report that foreclosure starts are almost back to 2005 levels and are within 7.25% of normal at 55,775 in August:

Lenders initiated foreclosure action in August against the fewest U.S. homes for any month in nearly eight years, a trend that should help reduce the number of homes lost to foreclosure in the months ahead. Some 55,775 homes entered the foreclosure process last month, a decline of 8 percent from July and down 44 percent from August last year, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Muslims Submit 5 Times A Day, Americans Not Even Once

"Stand up to Islam".

Australian Conservative Victory Was Backlash Against Carbon Tax

WUWT, here:

"Many Australians are celebrating the win of Tony Abbott and his coalition government as a vote by the populace against the much hated Carbon Tax ramrodded by former prime minister Julia Gillard."

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Low Jobless Claims "Not At All Inconsistent With ... Maximum Market Risk"

So says John Hussman, here:

"[W]hile the low level of initial claims for unemployment has been a bright spot, the simple fact is that initial claims are almost always depressed at major market peaks, which contributes to the optimism and euphoria at those highs. ... the recent pattern of new claims for unemployment ... is not at all inconsistent with previous instances of maximum market risk."

Monday, September 9, 2013

Absolute Strategy Research Survey Finds 11% Think This Is Still A Depression, 25% A Recession

The survey may be viewed here.

Look on the bright side: Since February almost 20% fewer think the economy is still in recession, and over 30% fewer think the economy is in a depression.

I guess we'll have to try harder.